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Friday, June 28, 2013

I like Demolition Derbies, in case you wondered how feminine I was

Today is another Finish the Sentence Friday, and today it's

The best fourth of July I had was...

I've done a number of things as a child for 4th of July. Some of the time, my parents and I would go to the ocean. We were allowed to park on the beach, and we'd watch the fireworks coming from a boat or a nearby town. Once we went to a city on the bay, and we were so close to the launch point that my stomach pretty much fell out of my body with every "BOOM" and "BANG". I didn't really enjoy it that year. I think my favorite 4th were the times that we went to the Demolition Derby. Back before Spanaway Speedway closed (The track was there first - people who bought their houses around it and then complained of the noise! Geez) they had a few derbies a year, which I always enjoyed going to, but they really pulled all the stops for 4th of July, and the one up in Monroe is even better (heck of a long drive, though).

cmon, who doesn't want to see carnage like this?!

It's not just about cars ramming into each other. It's about hinging all your bets on a specific car and screaming at them to at least make it to the end of the race. It's about watching cars dragging boats behind them while doing figure 8s, or wooping at cars that try to race each other while chained together. Watching busses race is always a blast too. And then when it's all said and done, you get to watch fireworks blast off. It's really the perfect end to a fun-packed day. I'm hoping I can make it up there this year, because thanks to working in a medical clinic, 5 out of the 7 years when the 4th of July is on a weekday, I can't do anything where I need to stay up late. Luckily, our doctor loves us and is giving us Friday off this year. Woop Woop!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Do I have a bad luck aura?

There is this blog hop (I think it's a blog hop?) called Monday Listicles. I have no idea if there is a specific weekly topic so I'm just going to choose one. The reason I chose this topic is because I'm seeing a rather odd trend popping up.

10 things that have been broken more than once:

1. Water pumps. I've had two, maybe three cars I've owned have the water pumps burst. I'm only 29 years old and It's not like I've owned these cars for 10 years. One of the accidents happened, oddly enough, when Josh's parents were visiting from Texas. I'd insisted on driving my old, beat up Reliant K car to my parent's house even though they had a beautiful Chevy Impala rental. Luckily, the water pump had burst fairly close to Purdy, since none of us had cell phones back then.

2. Chevy Malibu fuse. I stated this briefly in a previous post: Crapsman... said the Blind Woman. Twice now I've had to replace the fuse that powers only the two cigarette lighters in the front of the car. Of course, I never know that they're broken until I try to use the air compressor to re-inflate a tire. They seem to work for something taking low power, like the GPS (sometimes) or charging my phone. (Which dad says is very strange because once a fuse is broken, nothing should work). At least I know how to replace fuses now!

3. Dryer. I've always lived in apartments, so when things break down, it's their responsibility. It was their dumbass decision to keep around washers and dryers from the 70s and just have a repairman come to fix them up whenever they broke. Well, after tinkering around with the old dryer, he decided to replace it with a new model, which then broke down twice a few months later.

4. Fridge. Same apartment complex. Old fridge from the 80's broke, which is always a lot of fun because you have to shove everything into a cooler and all your frozen items become garbage. It was replaced by an even older model (oh yay), which also broke a few months later. Good times.

...okay that's all I've got for duplicate breakages.

5. Water Heater. Again, same apartment complex. Yeah, that was a blast. Our roommate noticed water pooling on the kitchen floor in the middle of the night, covered it with towels, and went to bed. Great. I get up around 9am, and see completely drenched bath towels on the kitchen floor and water everywhere. When I called the maintenance guy, he'd already gotten a complaint of water leaking through the ceiling from the downstairs neighbors. In order to get the water heater out of the pantry, I had to remove all the food and he had to take out the shelves. He couldn't even find where it was leaking from, so he just had to replace it.

6. The oven. This time, a different apartment. And it (sadly) wasn't even that broken. I regret calling into the landlord that our broiler coil was non-functional. We had a really neat 60's or 70's oven that had a glass opening so you could see into it. It also had a rotisserie (that we never used, but it was still cool!). She tried to save money by trying to get the broiler replaced, but the oven was too old. So, without my permission, she bought another used oven to replace it. We'd already lived without the broiler for several months - I didn't want to replace the whole oven! And the sucky part was that this oven was just an inch or 2 too long, and you couldn't slide out the side cabinet drawer without opening the oven door first. Sigh.

7. The 1995 Mercury Mystique. I could write an entire blog post on this car. Suffice it to say, I was glad when I finally decided to "cube" it (in other words, send it to the junkyard for scrap. I got the cube idea from this: crusher machine) Besides the fact that you had to start the car by sticking two wires together (but if you kept them connected, the after market car alarm would go off every few seconds while driving down the street), the final death had something to do with broken mounting brackets. The engine would move around and wires would be pulled, causing the car to randomly die. The car wasn't worth fixing at that point, so we gladly said to scrap it. Never again. Ever.

*Shivers in disgust*. This thing was a money pit.
8. 2002 Buick Century. This was the car we replaced the Mystique with. This time, it wasn't the fault of the car (which was beautiful. Leather seats, auto everything, and self adjusting rear view mirror... I was in heaven!) This time, my husband drove over a curb going 50 miles and hour, popping the tire, scraping the oil pan and bending the axle, causing the air bags to deploy which cracked the windshield. That one-person accident basically totalled the car. Twas a sad, sad day.

... I'm all out of interesting breakage stories. I think I have some kind of appliance/car gremlin hanging around me, and it's running out of ideas on how to break my shit! Go away, dammit. I'll never be able to buy my own home and afford all the crap I'll have to fix!

Anyone else have any interesting breakage stories they'd like to share? Please tell me I'm not the only one!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Oikos vs Chobani

I'm jumping onto the Greek yogurt bandwagon. I've always loved yogurt, to the point where I even bought my own yogurt machine so that I could have some that wasn't full of high fructose corn syrup and didn't cost a buck a pop. But Greek yogurt is perfect for me because I am a carb-whore, and it's my lucky day if I get any protein in me at all. That's why I call myself a semi-vegetarian (The chick on Food Network Star stole my name, dammit.) I love me some meat, but I hardly get any in my daily diet. Greek yogurt is full of protein without all the extra fat etc, so that's great.

Since it's my first foray into the world of Greek yogurt, I wanted to try two popular brands.

First impression is that Oikos tastes a hell of a lot better right off the bat. Smooth, creamy, and oh so tasty. It's also cheaper, but there's a good reason for that. If you notice on the Chobani label, it's made with 100% natural ingredients. So, I looked more closely at the back of each container.

Chobani has slightly more calories and slightly more carbs, but there is also more protein. However, the biggest difference (besides the fact that Oikos has modified corn starch etc) is that Chobani has live and active cultures, where Oikos does not. When you buy yogurt I think you should expect that. The bacteria is good for your system, and it's worth the extra few cents to get that in your cup if you plan on eating Greek yogurt. I have to admit though, Chobani had a very funky taste (probably due to the cultures and lack of yummy sugars!) and I had to add a teaspoon of honey; but that fixed it right up. After that it was quite delicious. I might eventually make my own one day. All you need to do is make regular yogurt and strain out all the whey for a few hours. Then it's Greek!

What about you? Do you eat Greek Yogurt? What brands do you like?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Day 8: What are 3 passions you have?

This post seems kind of redundant. I feel like I've already mentioned these enough through all my blogging that I'm just restating old things. So, I am going to do something completely unprecedented, and change the challenge!! Today, instead of blogging about 3 things I am passionate about, I will blog about 3 things I would like to change about myself. (This might make a later post - List 5 weaknesses - a bit harder.)

1. I'm co-dependant. I feel as though I need someone else in my life to "complete" me. Some of this stems from being scared. What if I'm all alone in my apartment and I suddenly get violently ill? What if I need to move this piece of furniture and I can't? What if my car breaks down and I can't get to work? What if I encounter a spider?! All these scenarios float around in my head and I begin to freak out. Also, I've spent all of my life refusing to do things alone. Whether it's because I fear what strangers will think of me, or because it's genuinely no fun to go to places alone, I just avoid it if at all possible. It makes my life rather dull. There are also a number of things I literally can't do alone, like hikes. People keep telling me I'm going to get raped or murdered on these trails in the woods if I'm all alone.

2. I freak out about everything. Can't you tell? I'm a worry wort. There are things in life that you can't change, like other people and their actions. It's really hard to tell myself not to worry about things that I can't change. Sometimes though, I can get randomly methodical about stuff. My logical side will kick in, emotions take a back seat, and I get shit done, like when our cat was lost. While Justin cried and said he was dead (and wanted to knock on people's doors at 10 at night), I just started making posters and shaking the treat jar outside while calling his name. Logically, I knew he was fine. There was a greenbelt behind our complex and I knew he was hiding back there; he was just too scared to come out. (We did get him back, by the way, in case you were worried!)

3. I get frustrated a lot. I get this from my mom I think. Dad is pretty calm about most things, even in the midst of a crisis, while mom gets angry and upset. I haven't yet learned coping techniques for when things don't go my way. From random errors on my computer (for example, the fact that my wireless Internet drops about every minute, and I have to reconnect) to being unable to put in or take out my contact lens after several (and I mean several) attempts. It's like that book Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, except I do.

If I could learn to just... accept things, I think my life would be so much easier!

Day 7: What is your dream job, and why?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Two for One Special

Today is Finish the Sentence Friday, and I figured I'd write a post this time. The sentence this week is:

The hardest part of your day is...

Getting up on a work day. (It's actually not that difficult. Not enough to where I have to buy one of those wacko alarm clocks that you have to chase around your room in order to shut off.)

Anyway... since that's not a complete blog post, I have a two for one special today. It's also Blog Challenge day number 7:

What is your dream job, and why?

This is actually very hard for me. When I was younger I had lofty goals. After watching Free Willy I wanted to be a marine biologist. When I was in the 4th grade and learning about clouds, I wanted to be a weatherwoman. I also thought about Astronomy and zoo keeper and for a while, a vet. But then I realized I only wanted the fun, cool aspects of these jobs. There's a lot of nasty, especially when it comes to animals. I just wasn't that into it. And as I discovered I had a lack of math ability (yeah that's right, it's an ability!), those other dreams were dashed as well. I'm good at art, but not that good. And I don't want to sell the stuff I make because it's unique and I get attached to it. (I might change my tune when I learn up the Bob Ross technique.)

I WILL learn to paint like this!!

I want something that fits me like a glove. I am not a people person and am very anti-social. So I want something where I don't have to deal with anybody. But I'm also not a leader. A lot of people would say "Be CEO of a mega corporation" but I'm fine being a follower. I'm fine taking orders. And honestly, I'm fairly lazy. I work hard at my job that I'm at, and I'm good at it - make no mistake. And I am willing to learn. But to go to college to move up the corporate ladder? Nah, that's just not me. I love what I do here as medical records. It feeds my OCD-ish need of being organized and detail-oriented. But as a dream job? Meh.

Perhaps I should stick with writing. I love to write; blogs, fiction, poems etc. Am I the best at it? Hell no. But if I could make a living off of it I think it would definitely be my dream job. I love nature and the outdoors, but hey, with a dream job like writing a book, I could get up whenever I want and still go for a walk in the woods. You know... for inspiration :P now if only people liked what I wrote... o_O

Monday, June 10, 2013

Day 6: What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?

For all my new Bloppy Blogger followers - welcome!! I'm currently doing the 30-day blog challenge (original found here at Kate's blog), although I'm not posting a new blog every day. Unfortunately, today's topic is rather sad and it has taken me a while to get up the courage to write it.

I have two right now, and they're quite the opposite of each other, so they're both the most difficult thing I have yet to deal with in my lifetime. And one of them, the pain isn't quite over yet, so I'll save it for last.

Losing a loved one is at the top of my list. Most everyone has lost a family member at some point in their lives. I've been lucky to have a fairly healthy extended family. However, my personal pain stems from losing my fiancee, Josh, back in 2005. Most of my old-time readers surely had already guessed this, its been mentioned in my blog numerous times before, and I hate rehashing old memories, so I'll keep this brief. I was 20 years old, and only 2 months shy of my 21st birthday. Josh was 28. He suffered from a heart attack and passed away March 8th, 2005. The pain I felt was insurmountable. I had to move out of my apartment, which I'd only been living in for 2 years, and move back in with my parents. I'd also lost my menial cashiering job at the same time, which was actually a blessing because I was in no condition to go to work for a long while. I fell into a depression for about 6 months. I couldn't cope with his loss. Josh was my soul mate. I missed him more than I ever thought I could miss anyone. He was my first and only love. It was extremely difficult to move on. Everything reminded me of him. I, even now, still have a number of cherished items that I keep around; including his Casio keyboard, which I still occasionally play on.

I had a horrible realization after facing something like this, which was: Time does not heal all wounds. You will always have this wound. The pain just becomes duller over time and you learn to deal with it.

This pic doesn't have anything to do with anything,
just a pic I took & wanted to show because it's pretty.

The second one, is my divorce. I'm currently in the midst of it at the moment, and I think the most painful part is yet to come. But I'll mention it now because (in my state) there is a 90-day waiting period before you can finalize a divorce, and these 90 days have been full of ups and downs and yelling and crying and pain. I'm the one who initiated the divorce because our marriage was barely a marriage. He had a drinking problem and was unwilling to acknowledge or change it. We argued constantly. We were never intimate. It was awful. I had to do something because I couldn't keep living like this. We moved into separate spaces because he'd lost his job, our lease was up, and I couldn't afford to stay there with only one income. He decided to join AA, go to school, and show me that he could be better, so it gave me pause for a long time. I tried to make it work in these 90 days, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't love him like I had over 3 years ago before he started drinking. And I feared him falling and I would be stuck with him again in another lease and unable to get away. I couldn't do it. I still can't. But it still hurts like hell, with him continuing to try and tell me to give us another shot, and I'm scared to be alone. It's the most frightening decision I've ever made in my whole life. It's tearing me up inside. I constantly wonder if I'm making the right choice, because if I leave him now I'm going to lose him forever. A completely different - yet the same - loss as above. It's so hard to know if you're ever making the right choices in life.

Sometimes, I guess, you just have to make a blind leap and hope the ground isn't too far away.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

In Review: Samsung Galaxy S4

I'm by no means a professional reviewer, I'll make that clear right now. And the only other phone I have to compare it to is my old Motorola Droid X. But this will be my personal opinion on the device. I wish I was being paid by Samsung for this review but alas, I am not. I will keep out all the technical mumbo jumbo.

Galaxy S4 on the left, and iPhone 5 on the right
Picture courtesy of Business Insider.

Pros: It's fast. Okay, super fast. Again, my only comparison is my Droid X, whereupon it would take several long, agonizing seconds to display even the simplest of apps like Twitter or Facebook. This was on WiFi or 3G. Obviously, the S4 has a faster processor. It also has 4G. And it also has the most updated Android software. So any or all of those things are contributing to my experience.
It also seems to do a lot better reception-wise. I'm unsure what my Droid X's problem was, but reception at my work site (I won't even mention at home because we get no reception at home regardless) was deplorable. Even with 1/2 - 2 bars of reception, it would take forever trying to send texts, and most often would fail. The same exact thing was happening with WiFi and (for example) Facebook Messenger, even though our building has WiFi boosters all over the ceilings around here. GPS was also a joke; using my CardioTrainer (which uses GPS to map your walks) was an exercise in frustration. Using Google Navigation was a joke, because it would take so long to "triangulate my position" that I'd either be there or in another state by the time it was done. The S4 has none of these problems. And again, it's probably due to the fact that it's just... well, newer.

I also like the size. I know some people think it's like holding a elephant to your ear, but when you buy a smartphone like an S4, your intent is not to make calls. That is so the last thing on your mind that even with the CNET reviews of the S4 I don't think reception quality while making a call was even on the list of things they reviewed. I buy 450 minutes a month through Verizon and I doubt I'd ever get close to using them all. But the screen is vibrant and beautiful; sharp and crisp. The colors seem accurate on pictures. And it's much easier to use apps like Facebook and Twitter with that slightly larger screen.

The camera. My God, the camera. 13 megapixels to be exact. But megapixels aren't everything by any means. All megapixels do is allow you to zoom in (or expand) more without losing the quality of the photo. Usually, my Droid X, under the right conditions (with its 5 megapixel camera) took really good photos. As long as the lighting was right and I didn't zoom in AT ALL. Once I started zooming in, the quality decreased exponentially. Not so with the S4. Check out these side by side photos of Mt. Rainier:

Taken with Droid X back in April 

Taken with S4 Yesterday

Both of these pictures were taken within the same location in my office. I did, however, zoom in using the S4 to see if the quality diminished. If I had zoomed in with the Droid X, it wouldn't have been pretty. The colors are much more vibrant and realistic on the S4.

Neutral: Svoice. It's Samsung's answer to Apple's Siri. I've only used it a couple of times and it's cute. I asked it what it was wearing once, and she answered "my birthday suit". It's a fun piece of technology to play around with, but I'm not sure how much I would use it in my daily life.
Also, all the interesting "features". The auto-scrolling when your eyes move down, the air-swiping so you don't touch the screen, and the plethora of camera options when you take photos. Although they are cool, they're more gimmicky than anything else. I still love having them, but I rarely get a chance to use them.

Cons: The keyboard. It's my biggest gripe out of all the gripes I've ever griped. The stock Samsung keyboard does not have auto-correct. What kind of idiot doesn't include auto correct at LEAST as an option?! It has predictive text. Which says "hey, is this what you mean?" but doesn't actually change the word for you. It's frustrating.
Here is an example text I sent: "but omg it sucks heliy valks it doedntcautocoredct anythinf! As h xan see!"
Translation: "But omg it sucks jelly balls it doesnt auto correct anything! As you can see!"
I was finally able to fix this problem by circumventing the keyboard entirely and downloading another one called "TouchPal". It has predictive text, auto-correct, AND spellcheck. My best friend. lol

The buttons to the left and right of the home button. They drive me nuts. I went from having actual buttons, to ones you just brush in order to activate. It's cool for your TV, but on the phone it's annoying. I accidentally brush these buttons constantly. You can't hold onto the bottom of the phone without touching one.

The sound options. You would think it would be a good thing to have the option to change the volume on several different sounds the phone makes, right? (ringer, notifications, operations, etc), but really, it just makes life more complicated. Facebook Messenger has no options for "sound volume", nor does gmail. And "notifications" on the phone basically just covers text messages, I guess. Turning the main volume down only affects the ringer, so I'm left with extremely loud facebook and gmail notifications. When I'm at work, it would be much easier just to turn the main volume down, and have everything be quiet.

In Conclusion: There are a lot of minor things that I love about this phone that would be too numerous to list here (like the contact list, the stock calendar, the weather app right on your main screen etc), which are probably just as prevalent on other phones close to the S4's caliber. But compared to my old Droid X, this phone is a dream come true. I agree with most of the other reviewers that state "if you're barely upgrading you probably shouldn't bother, but otherwise go for it" because it makes a big difference.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Day 5: What are the 5 things that make you happiest right now?

Number One: Hiking. Yeah, that's kind of a given; I think I've mentioned it enough times. Being in the open wilderness, with no sounds other than the animals and the wind is very refreshing. Plus, I get much needed exercise from it!

Number Two: Weather. I love to hike, but - at least for me - it's really weather-dependant. Our summers up here in the great Pacific Northwest aren't all that harsh most of the time. If it gets up to 90 it usually only lasts for a day or two. And since I'm always cold, spring and summer are my favorite seasons. Sometimes I don't even have a wear a jacket! Praise Frith! [Watership Down reference].

Number Three: Blogging. I love to write, and blogging is a great outlet. To share my experience with others is a joy, even when it's a sad post. Sometimes it's very cathartic, other times it's just a way to release boredom.

Number Four: My Friends. And I don't just mean the people I know who live near me, either. (Although I do appreciate them very much!) But when you click with someone over chat, it can be great fun to spend some time talking with them. It's a comfort to know that there are other people out there like me - even if they live all the way in New Jersey!

Number Five: Cooking. I wish that I could say this and truly mean it at the moment, but ever since I've had to move into my parents' place, I haven't been able to do much of it. I could say that before it made me happy, and it hopefully will once again. But right now it's just difficult when you're in someone else's kitchen (I can't really keep racks of chicken wings in the fridge for hours!) and a lot of your stuff is in storage.

Day 4: List 5 things you would tell your 16 year-old self
Day 3: What is the Greatest Amount of Physical Pain You've Ever Endured?
Day 2: List 3 Legitimate Fears
Day 1: List 10 Random Facts About Yourself