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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Orca Experience 5/31/15

Wow, I put this off for a really long time, which isn't like me at all. After all, seeing Orcas was on my not-quite-yet midlife crisis list, and I finally got to see them!

My mother and I had already attempted to see them once before the previous year, and we'd only gotten a glimpse of some Humpbacks, which put whale watching on my spite list. So, with another Groupon at my disposal, we attempted again, this time using a different company. Groupon is filled with deals for whale watching, however most of them start on the San Juan Islands and you first need to get yourself to them which can be a hassle, so I had to find one that starts on the coast instead. This one started in Port Angeles, and we took a 3-hour boat ride up to Friday Harbor. It included a 2-hour layover at the harbor and then a return trip for $50/pp and that was a great deal, especially considering all we got to see.

The only real issue I had was my motion sickness. It doesn't tend to be a problem as long as I can look out a window, but unfortunately we were seated 6 to a table, 3 on each side, and I was on the isle. I tried looking out the window from my position but my brain said that wasn't good enough. I didn't get ill, however, I just felt generally crappy and and dizzy. Another unfortunate issue was that this trip started quite early in the morning and despite having a record-breaking heatwave of a summer, it was only about 60 degrees and the sun hadn't broken through the marine layer yet. Some people braved the cold to be on the outside of the boat but I was not one of them.

On our way up to Friday Harbor we saw a lot of wildlife including a bald eagle and a sea lion. And then, the word came. Orcas. Our boat was the first of the day to spot a pod of Orcas (all the boats of all the companies share information so that everyone can see the whales when they're spotted.) so they were not yet identified. What we knew from general knowledge was that while resident Orcas tend to spread their pod out, transient ones tend to stick in a tight group, which these ones did.

Turns out these were Transient Pod #127 which was also captured (for free! grrr lol) moving along under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge the next day.

I was so stoked to see real Orcas. I did a report on them in high school (had been my plan since day one of joining Marine Biology) and they are one of my favorite animals. Definitely my favorite marine animal.

Anyway, after we got our fill of Orcas, the boat headed to Friday Harbor to spend a couple of hours. Mom and I walked around and found a decent restaurant to eat in, and did a little shopping. Two hours was definitely not enough time!

I think I want to do this trip again. Hopefully next time we'll run into playful Orcas that are jumping out of the water. That would be epic!

Last Day in Alaska Night 3

I'm going to try to fit the last bit of my trip into this one blog post. Man, I've never written so much about a trip; not even New York City! If you need to catch up, here are some links:

We had decided to check out the International Ice Scrupling Festival at night because we heard that was a cool time to go with all the pieces lit up. They weren't wrong. I'm glad we picked night time to go. 

I think we all (there was a small line of people that Mom and I were following through) thought that there was a walkable path where all the super big sculptures were being created (none of them were done yet - sad pandas) that turns out to have been an off-limits area as they were using cranes to unload large blocks of ice.


So, after my hands officially froze off, we headed back to our hotel for a decent night's sleep.

Our plane doesn't come until the evening the next day and we had nothing officially planned, so I was sorting though all the little pamphlets and found an interesting shop called the Knotty Shop (pun surely intended), but it was made of all these knotty pine logs. It was in Salcha, which was probably 40 minutes from Fairbanks, so we head down there. Turns out they are closed on Mondays (I'd spite this place but I never want to visit Fairbanks again lol). FINE. BE THAT WAY.  We drive all the way back up, and I'm randomly driving through streets in Fairbanks like I know my way (but it's not that easy to get lost) and we stop at this bowl shop that's super cool and I was able to knock some more things off my must-have list:
Elk, Caribou, and Reindeer meat. No moose though. Damn!

We spent a bunch of time shopping in Fred Meyer and Walmart for souvenirs. Fairbanks is an industrial town... I don't think their tourist rate is that high... we never saw any small dinky curio shops around town, really. And still, not one shot glass said Fairbanks. Luckily, however, I'd caught that a gift shop at the Fairbanks Airport (Lolz, the only gift shop) was selling them and that was my last resort. So, after returning our truck to Enterprise, they dropped us off super early at the airport and I got my shot glasses (thank goodness!).

And that was it. We took our flight home and I was never so happy to be comfortably warm.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Star Trek: Discovery

So recently, there was a teaser drop about the new Star Trek series coming out on CBS: all access. And like many of you that I read in the comments, I am severely disappointed in what they have chosen for it to become.

Star Trek: Discovery, in case you haven't heard, is going to be set in a time *before* TOS.

First of all, WTF? 

Second of all, WTFF??!
(the first F stands for flying)

Okay, I am a huge Star Trek fan. I grew up watching the show. But I will be the first to admit that I never got into Star Trek: Enterprise and actually refused to watch it. Why? Continuity. 

I know, I know. I like Red Dwarf. How can I scream about continuity? Because Star Trek has it. In fact, I think they pride themselves on it.
The first time I saw the Starship Enterprise *before* TOS, I screamed at the flat panel screens and the apparent advance of technology. I also screamed at the stupid Vulcan for being on the ship with all the humans. Maybe she was just a liaison; after all, I believe Spock was the first Vulcan in *Starfleet* not the first Vulcan on a Federation vessel. But still. Back in TOS, Vulcans were like, a new concept. McCoy didn't even know how to treat him medically, let alone how to act around his logic. I'm not even going to go into all the aliens they ran into that never ended up appearing in TOS.

WTF is this? It looks like a Klingon Battle cruiser and the Enterprise 
had some kind of lovechild. 

Yeah, the new movies kind of veer off in the same direction as Enterprise, but at least they have a split timeline to blame it on.

The reason I bring up Enterprise is point #2: It didn't last. The fans hated it. In Star Trek, 7 seasons seems to be the golden number. If you get to 7, end it on a good note and be happy. Enterprise lasted 3.

So of course, lets make a new series and peg it *before* TOS. It's sure to be a hit. -_-
Like, how far back are we going now? The moon landing? C'mon. Where are we putting these people on the timeline? Before Enterprise or after? And I swear to God if those ships have flat screen holo technology I am going to scream. 

They already mentioned that there were going to be "a lot more aliens than all the other Star Trek franchises." Great, so again with the lack of continuity. You know what I liked about TNG, DS9 and even sometimes Voyager? When they went to Starfleet Command and walked around, most of the aliens you saw, you recognized. Oh, there goes a Bolian. And here's a Ferengi (aww, more are joining Starfleet, that's nice). And occasionally you'd see something you'd not seen before but that was okay because you recognized the mains. The aliens that made the Federation what it was to begin with. And now what do you get? Shock value. All these writers want to do is stick a bunch of random creatures on your screen for a split second to show off their awesome CGI creativity and then you never see that species ever again. What is even the point?

I mean, I love Jeffrey Combs, but come on.

The other issue is how they are deciding to air the new series. They are going to put the first episode on CBS to get yow hooked, but then every subsequent episode they are putting on their streaming service called "All Access" which costs I think $7.99 a month. They are touting it as kind of the HBO of CBS; where they will be allowed to show "a lot more" than on a basic network channel. Yeah, no. Not worth it. Not for one show.

I honestly think this series is going to tank, and I am already depressed about it. Star Trek never seems to die (thankfully). New fans replace old fans and the gift just keeps giving, even though we haven't had a series run in over 10 years. Us fans have waited a long time to see if someone would begin again with a new series, and now that its actually coming to fruition, I feel mostly disappointment. I'm a little hopeful that it will turn out better than we all think, but I, for one, won't be paying to watch it, no matter how good it is. Let's just hope it's good enough.

What do you all think? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, August 5, 2016

All Good Things...

Sometimes you can kind of see it coming, so it doesn't really come as a shock, but damn if it doesn't still hurt, especially when you put 1-1/2 years into the relationship and think that maybe, if you just hang in there a bit longer, it'll all work out. After all, he's a great guy, and great guys don't come along everyday, you know?

I can be loyal to a fault. I was loyal to my marriage a good long time. Probably much longer than any other person would be in my situation. I hung in there. I tried, I stressed, I hurt. He would have rather lived in the toxicity of our marriage than end it. At least David had the decency to tell me that he thought we didn't mesh. I would have hung in there and waited for him. Waited until he was finally down to a decent 8 hour shift, or until he got better days off; something. But I had already been waiting a long time. He was having difficulty making me a priority in his life; partially from the stress of everything and partially because he didn't have the feelings for me that he thought he should have by now.

David really is a decent human being. He will give you the shirt off his back. He's the most understanding person I have ever met. And he will truly listen. But, he has anger issues, and coupled with his size and strength, and kind of his general appearance, I could admit that I was a little afraid of him. Warranted or not, it actually gave me a great deal of respect for the man; something I severely lacked with Justin. And I mean that in a sense of instead of getting angry or snapping at something when he snaps at me, I back off. I might cringe a little, in fact. But I considered this healthy because if my first instinct is to defend myself and snap back, it only makes problems worse. This is how I felt.

I wanted to know who I was as a human being. Was I this angry, irritated, always nagging, always defensive person in a relationship, or was I not? Was it Justin that had turned me into this, or was this who I was? And no. Over the 1-1/2 years that we dated, I can honestly say that I am not this vicious person. It was the toxicity of the relationship that made me. I knew I could be better. I just wish I could be better with David.

I'm sad, but I'm not depressed. I kind of felt this was coming for a while. It feels as though our relationship was made with hundreds of strings woven together into a rope. And over time, each strand comes loose and falls away. And it fell away so slowly that you would barely notice, until you realized that there were only a few strands left holding the whole thing together.

We will remain friends. I made it perfectly clear that I would still be there for him if/when he needed me, and he would do the same. That's all I can really ask; to have a relationship end with no animosity, no crazy angry sprees. It may be difficult at first to stay as a friends, but like the strings, we were already almost there anyway. And that's okay.

Go Shinedown. Always giving me a song to fit every situation

Saturday, July 30, 2016

My Personal Review of Star Trek Beyond

Me personally, I don't care about spoilers, but I know most of the public does; passionately. So it's hard for me to gauge what is a spoiler and what isn't. I will say that this review will not contain plot spoilers and things of that nature, but more of the character aspect of the film. So, fair warning!

I need to discuss this while it's still fresh in my mind off of just seeing the film. Now, I love Star Trek. I grew up with it. Discovered it on TV on my own in junior high watching new episodes of DS9 and going backwards from there; TOS being the last frontier for me since it was made before my time.

I honestly had no issues with the first two films (believe it or not, missing the lens flares in the 3rd installment here!!!) And I've read articles about people complaining that it was "nothing like" the show, not Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future, and people getting angry at Chris Pine for saying that action is more important than character interaction when it comes to films. Well, we are talking about action films here; Star Trek is not a drama. It's not a comedy. It has those aspects, but it is an action film at heart.

There is much more character interaction in this film, and yes, it's nice. It makes it feel much more like the show for sure. But... I'm not sure I liked it. I don't know, it's weird for me. I get it. But maybe it's because I know these characters already. I already know how close knit they are. I was perfectly fine with the lack of "character development" in the first two films because the films were still good. However, the writers/director did a good job in making the personal characters part of the plot of the base movie. The characters were separated and each scene played into their individual strengths. (One negative here - I watched World of Warcraft and Jeremy Jahns saying that movie jumped around too much bugged me because this movie is actually really bad about it!) On a positive note, Anton Yelchin (Chekov) got a lot of screen time. Much more than I think any Chekov in the history of the franchise, and it's really fitting tribute for him.

So, this movie felt like watching a highly budged two-parter of a Star Trek episode. For lovers of the series, that is very high praise. After all, just about every other Star Trek movie made feels the same way. But, maybe it was the tone. At the core, it's an action film. It's got the quick movements, the high energy music, the scene jumping, the fast pace. When it slows for a character scene, it feels... off. Maybe I think it's too late. The first two films never stopped for this, and now it feels out of place. Maybe it's because we couldn't establish these specific characters to a series prior like we could with all the other movies, so we don't really "know" them, as it were, and it feels weird to shove it in now.

If you try to compare this movie to what most fans would consider the best Star Trek movie made, which is First Contact, it's completely off kilter. First Contact was probably 70% drama and 30% action. There was a lot of down time in that movie, remember? Helping Cochran build the ship. Data's weirdness with the Borg Queen. Running around the Enterprise while it's full of Borg who do nothing but ignore you until they consider you a threat. The action was actually very minimal. Even during the scene with Picard out there at the deflector dish - it was more suspense than action.

This scene was actually agonizingly slow, because they were in space!

With these new Star Trek Films, action is defined as "shit that happens so fast that we can blur it and spend less on detailed special effects". Star Trek First Contact feels slow in comparison. So I think Chris Pine is right in a way. When you film a movie like how the new Star Treks are filmed, character development seems completely out of place and almost unnecessary.

Don't get me wrong, I still liked the movie. But was it my favorite of the three? Not by a long shot. I think i'll only buy it on Blu-Ray for the fact that I have the other two. Plus, the special features and behind the scenes stuff is always cool.

On an unrelated note - Star Trek is beginning to get messed up by adding a thousand new alien species we only see in fleeting shots that were never in the original series'. And I know it's a different timeline here but it's still the past. [Plus they've established that even though its a different timeline, a lot of the same events still occur, just in different ways. AKA: Khan.] The Federation should not be this advanced and far reaching for this many unknown aliens to appear when in TOS all we were friendly with were basically the Vulcans. It actually bugs me quite a bit. At this point in time, their advancements far exceed even Star Trek Voyager. I feel a bit perturbed.

But anyway, I want to know what you guys think! If you saw the movie, how did you like it? Agree, disagree? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Warcraft Movie Review

I don't do a whole lot of these, but I really wanted to pick this one out for a couple of reasons. Number one is because the critics are hating on it, and number two is because I am not really a Warcraft fangirl. I kind of am only because I play World of Warcraft, but I'm not all up into the lore like a lot of fans and haven't really followed any of the story lines in game (aka: you have a quest for me? No time to read it! Accept and point me in the right direction!)

I have to say that Warcraft the movie actually helped me understand the game better. There is so much lore surrounding the World of Warcraft (The game Warcraft is mainly about the war against the Orcs) that it's hard to keep track of it all and you can get buried in everything. So, obviously the movie only touches on the war with the Orcs, but there's a lot more in it than I even realized. However, the best part about it is that you don't have to be a Warcraft or WoW fan to watch the movie; the only references I got were basically names and places that I recognized from the game.

I follow Jeremy Jahns on youtube and I think a number of his reviews are spot on, but no so much for Warcraft. He mentioned something about the movie jumping around a lot, and it does, but not so much that you can't keep up with it. The director wants you to know all this stuff is going on at the same time, so it jumps from point to point and I didn't mind. One thing I did mind though, was the abundance of CGI, like way more than they needed. It was good CGI, no doubt, but does everything have to be fake, even things that exist in real life? Another thing that frustrated me was Garona. I'm sure Warcraft fans know exactly who and what she is, but for us uninitiated, the writers never explained her, and I'm not sure if that was on purpose.

[Spoiler alert I guess??: WoW Wiki describes her as: Garona Halforcen is a half-orc[1] half-draenei[2] quest giver for the Horde in the Twilight Highlands. Like most others, she believed she was half-human until the truth was revealed to her.[3] Which, on the one hand, makes sense I guess, if the movie was trying to be true to the game, to look nothing like an Draenei so no one could guess that that was her other half. However, this doesn't follow with the story of the movie, where we find her already an adult living on Draenor and she follows them through the portal to meet the humans for the first time. Considering they shared their planet with the Draenei and not humans, it would be plausible to believe that she was half Draenei. But of course, the movie does nothing to help the audience guess. You see Dranaei in cages for half a minute and only know who they are if you play the game, and the Orcs mention nothing about sharing their planet with another race.]

That was the most nitpicky thing I had to say about the movie, though. Khadgar was by far my favorite character. I found him adorkable; I loved everything about him, and I knew nothing of the history of Khadgar in the game.

I have a three tiered rating system. It is:

1. So bad I won't even bother torrenting it

2. Good enough to torrent and take up valuable HDD space forever

3. So good I will buy a blu-ray of it (very rare)

For reference purposes, Jurassic World is a rare one I would buy on blu-ray because I loved Jurassic Park like, insanely as a child, and there was so much fan-service I was basically squeaking throughout the whole movie at the theater.                                                                                                      
Warcraft almost got there, I'd say a 2.5. Hoping and waiting for a Lich King sequel. That would kill in theaters, I'm sure.

                                                                                                                 Created by Rachel Fields

Did anyone see it? What did they think? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Whole30 Completion

OK, here we go. All done with the Whole30. Got myself weighed with one of those fancy scales at the dietitian's office that includes body fat % and water etc. I'll get to that in a bit. First of all, I want to run down the list of all the things Whole30 was supposed to do for me besides the weight loss, since that's technically a secondary effect. There's an extremely long list of things it's supposed to help (most of them hinging on whether it was an issue for you in the first place, like joint inflammation) I'll just focus on the things I wanted to see improvement in.

1. TARGET: An (Unhealthy) Relationship with Food
    "The Whole30 rules are carefully crafted to quash your cravings (specifically for
sugar and empty carbohydrates), identify your food triggers, and teach you to find
other sources of comfort and reward, so that you are in control of your food, and not
the other way around."    

Did it do this? I'd say yes, mostly. I have a horrible time with willpower. The only times I can say no to a piece of birthday cake is when I have a reason not to (like when I'm on hCG or Whole30). I missed only 2 things majorly in the last 30 days. That was creamer in my coffee and gum. I also kind of missed bread. Not for the sake of bread, but for the versatility of making sandwiches! I've stopped using artificial sweeteners like crystal light in my water, so that's a plus. It's working out pretty good.

2 .  TARGET: Sleep
       I have trouble staying asleep. Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep, but this is directly related to whether I end up napping on the couch in the evening, which is correlated to my energy levels, which I will mention next. Did it help my sleep? No. But I don't think diet has anything to do with my sleep. My issue is my body being unable to regulate my temperature. I have to freeze out my bedroom in order not to wake up at 2am bustin out like I have a fever. If I can get into that sweet spot between 58-60 degrees, I usually sleep pretty well.

3. TARGET: Tiger blood
     This is what the program calls this burst of energy you get when your body finally realizes that fat is a good source of fuel and it slow burns it so you have energy all day long. Did I get this? Definitely not. This is disappointing, because my energy levels were the biggest thing I wanted to improve. Honestly though, it may have helped and I hadn't noticed, because this program had me prepping, cooking, and cleaning my life away. I literally had no time to do anything else in the evening. It was draining. So maybe I DID have energy, and I feckin' used it up doing that crap. But I still took long naps on my couch. Which caused me to make it hard to fall asleep at night, which cut the amount of sleep I got and made me tired during the day... vicious cycle, which happens regardless of my diet. I did fine without coffee, I only drank it when I had a crappy night's sleep the night before. But I wasn't bouncing up and down with energy like I thought I would; which sucks.

4. TARGET: Improved nails
     A-HA! Something that worked! I was having horrible peeling layers on my nails that I couldn't stop no matter what I did. It was so frustrating, and I couldn't use nail polish because the acetone would make it worse. So, something in my food choices has drastically improved my nails. What it is I have no idea, though. Could be increased intake of Vitamin E, or my protein sources (I'm usually not a consistent meat eater). I know that I was able to stop taking my Iron supplement because I was getting enough in my diet, so that's awesome. I didn't see any improvements in my skin but my skin isn't necessarily "bad" to begin with. Hair would probably take 6 months to notice any difference. But, even with washing all my dang dishes by hand due to needing to use them constantly, my nails are still perfectly healthy. It's a miracle. 

So, after all that, what about my weight?!



2 lbs lost.

Okay, it's not as drastic as I'd hoped, but to be honest, anything is better than nothing. I struggled with this stagnant weight not moving for months on end regardless of exercising, and my body finally let go and I lost a couple of pounds. Now, not all the 2 lbs was fat, some of it was water, and fat-free mass (which is other stuff), but still. It's movement. That's what matters. And that's eating until I'm full. That's eating a lot of fat. Mayonnaise, and tartar sauce, and ranch dressing. 

Fat is not your enemy. Fat helps keep you satiated. It has stopped me from being hungry between meals. It has stopped me from constantly thinking about food; about that cake in the break room. It stops me from eating when I'm not hungry because YES - THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING FULL AND BEING SATIATED. I can not overstate this enough.  It's the difference between bored eating, and not caring that you have chips in your cupboard. So, I have learned a valuable lesson through all of this. I'm not going to avoid all fat. Obviously eating brisket all day long is not ideal - but I'm talking about dressings, sauces, lean meats. Don't avoid the fat. Use it to your advantage!