Presented without any comment other than, how awesomely cool is Bryan Cranston for having enough of a sense of humor to do this?
I want more. I miss Breaking Bad!
Presented without any comment other than, how awesomely cool is Bryan Cranston for having enough of a sense of humor to do this?
I want more. I miss Breaking Bad!
Here we are, another fun date post. I don’t really have a super lot going on right now, but I’ll try to make this as interesting as possible.
Since Jay and I officially moved into our new home on September 28, things have been crazy. We are still not completely unpacked, though things are starting to really come together now, thanks to our third and hopefully final trip to IKEA this past Sunday. We’ve needed to furnish several areas of the new house (dining room, living room, bonus room front hallway, etc.) in order to have places to put the stuff still in the boxes. Over the last 6 weeks, we’ve spent way too much money on furnishings, but I can’t say that it wasn’t worth it because with our latest additions, it looks less like an empty college house and more like a home When everything is finally suitable for it, I’ll take pictures and make a blog post so anyone who is interested can compare the before and after. Hopefully within in the next week or so, I’ll finally feel that we’re at the point where we can do an Internet showing, haha.
Anyway, our biggest “project” has been figuring out what to do about the extra space in the bonus room. First, we put an area rug in there which changed the ENTIRE mood of the room. It made it a warm, family room instead of having that cold, tile look. Last weekend, we added curtains and lighting. Since we first saw the house, I wanted to put built-in bookshelves, but we knew that would be a little bit expensive for us to do right now. Instead, we took to Pinterest and got some ideas on how to do a little DIY built-in bookshelf look using the Billy bookshelf series from IKEA. That’s what we went back to IKEA to get on Sunday. We wanted to do something like these two pictures. [Link, Link]
Jay, being the awesome husband that he is, has really been working so hard assembling the seemingly dozens of new things we’ve bought for the house, from the bedroom furniture to coat racks that just don’t quite have all the pieces that fit to these new bookshelves. Here’s what we have so far, before we add trim to it:
The trim will make everything come together nicely, I think. The stuff in it is just there for fun. In the middle, above the fireplace, we are hoping to save up for a nice TV to put up there, but that won’t be until after Christmas, when we see where we stand money wise. We want to have all the “big” stuff done by the end of the year, including Jay’s car payments, so we can start to build our savings back up again starting in January 2014. I believe the TV is the last of the “big” stuff on our list. So, we’ll see. Rome wasn’t built a day but damn we build up this house pretty quickly, haha. Anyway, when we are finished with this room and have all of our boxes either unpacked or put away in storage, then I’ll go around and take pictures and show off the entire house.
The only other things going on right now is we’re going to see Justin Timberlake in Raleigh tomorrow night. I can’t believe it’s November already. I feel like we just got these tickets yesterday (it was in MAY!). 2014 is going to be here before we know it. I better start to be more productive, haha. Happy 11-12-13!
Every once in a while, I decide to be a music critic. I’m not very good at it, but I give it my best shot. Last weekend, I managed to acquire a copy of Lady Gaga’s album “ARTPOP” (ugh, why all CAPS?), due out November 12, 2013. I was a huge Gaga fan after her first album, so I’ll always be curious to hear her new music as soon as possible. However, I’ve had a bit of Gaga fatigue over the past year. The more someone believes their own hype, the more unappealing they get to me. Unless I really like the stuff they put out (reluctant side-eye to Kanye), I find it harder to forgive ridiculous antics and bold self-proclamations.
Lady Gaga can write a great pop song. See: “Just Dance,” “Pokerface,” “Bad Romance,” “Edge of Glory.” Those are great pop songs with fantastic pop melodies. ARTPOP has so much potential, but the “art” overtakes the “pop” so much so that it’s almost as though someone takes a perfectly fine painting and decides to refinish it so that all of the delicate intricacies that made it so special are now lost underneath an overbearing mess. At the end of they day, ARTPOP is just another over-saturated pop album by someone who thinks genius has to be complicated when sometimes the best thing to do is to keep it simple, stupid. Much of the album is overproduced, overindulged, and some of the songs even start to sound the same. So many of the songs have some really great moments within them and you can’t help but wish, man, if only she’d gone this way instead of that way.
The best part of some of Lady Gaga’s best songs were that beneath a good pop hook, they took us on a journey with her. With “Just Dance,” we got the story of a fun night out at the club. With “Bad Romance,” we followed the tale of an unhealthy love story. ”Paparazzi” warned us about the perils of chasing fame. None of the songs on here really take us on any similar treks with her. They’re all pretty vapid when you get down to it. To me, that’s not what makes a groundbreaking record. We were promised a life-changing “album of the millennium.” Try again, Gaga. Jagged Little Pill was life-changing, ARTPOP is not. And, for the record, I REALLY wanted it to be.
After the jump, I said a little bit about each track. If you want to read more, go for it. I’d really like to hear what everyone else has to say about ARTPOP after listening to it.
Overall grade: B.
Had fun searching the Internet for fun fortune cookie sayings this week. I went with both funny ones and actual inspirational ones. Feel free to add some of your favorites in the comments section below. I would love to hear ‘em. Working on another long post for next week’s topic already…
“Write ten sayings for fortune cookies.”
As you may or may not know, I am a big fan of exercising. My “go to” form of physical activity is walking. It’s easy to get up and do, I can listen to my iPod while doing it, and I put my phone away so no one bothers me. Some Sundays, I walk 11 miles for fun. <Shrugs.>
Towards the end of the summer, I was busy training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll 10k that Jay, Dad, Katelyn, Christie, a bunch of our podcasting friends, and I ran in Brooklyn last month. Midway through, I was starting to get a little frustrated. The amount of time I was running should have reflected that I was running between 5-6 miles each time, but my UP Band was reporting that I only ran 4 miles. I know I wasn’t running 12+ minute miles, so I began to look at iPhone apps to help me determine how far I walk and run for. I tried Map My Run first and didn’t like it at all. I have a stretch of road that I know is definitely 2 miles, start to finish. Map My Run tried to tell me that I had only gone .75 miles in 17 minutes. Be gone with you, Map My Run! So, I decided to try WalkTracker, which tracks either running, cycling, or walking based off of GPS.
WalkTracker is simple and easy to use, which worked for me. I like the interface for the dashboard, which simply shows you the length of time you’ve been active for, the distance you’ve gone, how many calories burned (which I always taken with a grain of salt), and your average pace. There are also other features of it that you can utilize, including interval training where you can set up different workouts, keeping track of personal bests, and playing music. You can even set up audio prompts during your workout, that will update you at the distance or time of your choice.
My favorite feature of the app is the map of your route (see screencap below). It not only shows you where you walked/ran/cycled by mile, but it will tell you the length of time it took to complete that mile. It’s really helpful. I was aiming to just keep my times to under 9 miles per mile and was able to see patterns – I start off slower, run the next two miles much quicker because I’m warmed up, settle in for the next mile, slow down when I get tired, etc. That’s the kind of data that I really love seeing about my workouts. And since I tend to wander a lot when I walk, it’s great to see just how far I’m walking when I’m trying to catch up on podcasts!
There are some downsides to this app, however. I believe it’s $2.99 in the app store, which I think is pricey. However, my UP Band cost $130, so $2.99 sure beats $130, haha. As with pretty much all GPS tracking apps, it drains your phone’s battery fairly quickly. I think the voice feature (“You have completed 2.0 miles in 15:37 minutes…”) is kinda annoying, so I turned it off and I’ve never even tried using the music part. Other than that, it’s a great little app to use. If you’re willing to spend some money, then it’s worth it. Otherwise, I’m sure there are other free apps out there that are just as good. If you have any suggestions for fitness apps, please let me know in the comments so I can check them out. Otherwise, happy exercising!
Some screencaps. This map reflects a “there and back” route:
Here’s a route I ran with an example of it tracking your pace per mile:
Yesterday, November 2, Jay officiated a wedding! Two of his friends from Apple got married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony and asked Jay if he would do the honors of making performing the ceremony. It was finally a gorgeous day in Raleigh, too – our first gorgeous day in a full week and our second gorgeous day in a month (it was a rainy, cloudy, crappy October) and the perfect weather for a wedding. Jay was ordained online a few weeks ago. It was easy peasy; he pretty much gave his credit card number and was given some “suggested reading” if he wanted to know what being an ordained minister entailed beforehand. [Rant: Anyone can pay $50 and be able to marry people over the Internet, yet there are still people out there who insist that gays are the ones ruining the "sanctity of marriage"? Give me a fucking break... /rant.]
Jay took his duties seriously and did a great job. I was so proud of him! He practiced all week. I’m pretty sure I married myself about 9 times on Thursday night. The entire wedding was lovely. Yesterday was my first ever Southern wedding and man, are they different from how weddings are done back home in New York! It’s a very laid back attitude. The ceremony & reception were both outdoors. The location, Fred Fletcher Park in Raleigh, was a beautiful setting. They served a Southern BBQ buffet as the meal (pulled pork, beef brisket, green beans, mac ‘n’ cheese, mashed sweet potatoes) and cupcakes instead of cake (although they did cut a cake). In place of a DJ, they had a country music/grassroots band. I need to sing the praises of this band. They were great. The lead singer was a 15-year-old girl who sang better than 98% of female singers on the radio today. She was just incredible. I hope she has a long, successful career someday because I have never heard a 15-year-old that talented before. Instead of dancing, there were lawn games set up, like croquet, giant Jenga, and bolo toss. There was even an area set up with a big picture frame hanging where you could take pictures of yourself inside the frame with props. All in all, it was a lot of fun. Congrats, Emily & Eric! Many years of happiness and love!
P.S. If you live in the Raleigh-Durham area and need someone to officiate your wedding, I know just the guy…
After several lame weeks, I spent three full days researching and writing this week’s topic. It’s hella long so no hard feelings if you can’t get through it. At least skip to the end to get some of the links I provide for additional info. I think they’re worth checking out if you’re a fan of the topic.
“A famous, unsolved crime.”
I was originally going to write about one of the super famous unsolved crimes, like the Zodiac Killer or the Black Dahlia, but while researching crimes to write about, I kept coming across one particularly intriguing unsolved mystery that I ended up following down the rabbit hole. I remember hearing about this case on an episode of Mysterious Universe back in February, but didn’t realize just how well-known it was. When you Google “famous unsolved crimes” it often shows up on Top 10 lists. I figured it was the perfect crime to talk about, since it’s not so famous that no one cares to read about it anymore. I consider the unsolved crimes like Jack the Ripper to be like the Angelina Jolie of the genre. This case is more like the Sophie Monk of unsolved mysteries. You know you may have heard about it somewhere in some famous context, but it’s way more popular in Australia, haha.
So the mystery is known as the Tamam Shud case or the Body on Somerton Beach. At around 6:30 a.m. on December 1, 1948, a man was found dead on Somerton Beach in Australia. He was last seen alive by a couple walking along the beach around 7 p.m. the night before. They had spotted him laying on the ground with his head propped against a sea wall with his legs outstretched and feet crossed as he extended his right arm upwards as though attempting to smoke a cigarette. The couple figured he was just another drunk. Shortly thereafter, a different couple also observed him in the same position on the beach, though not moving at all.
When the man was found the next morning, there were no visible marks to indicate a violent death and a half-smoked cigarette was lying on his collar, as though it had fallen out of his mouth. All that was on his person were tickets from Adelaide to the beach, some matches, two combs, a pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gun, and a pack of Army Club cigarettes containing seven cigarettes of another brand called Kensitas. He had no wallet, no cash, and no ID. All of the labels had been cut out of his clothing. One of his trouser pockets had been repaired with “an unusual type” of orange thread.
An autopsy was inconclusive. Although multiple signs pointed to poisoning, tests could not detect any trace of poison in his system. The pathologist concluded: “I am quite convinced the death could not have been natural …the poison I suggested was a barbiturate or a soluble hypnotic.” Dental records did not match him as an Australian citizen. Who was this strange man and who or what could’ve killed him? There were some physical clues: he appeared to be British, in his late 40s, had “the legs of an athlete” with very high and very well developed calf muscles, and oddly wedge-shaped toes. One expert described the lower half of his body as such:
I have not seen the tendency of calf muscle so pronounced as in this case…. His feet were rather striking, suggesting—this is my own assumption—that he had been in the habit of wearing high-heeled and pointed shoes.
The coroner concluded that a very rare poison must have been used on the mystery man. This rare poison must have been one that “decomposed very early after death,” leaving no trace of its existence. The prime suspected poison was Strophanthin, a rare glycoside derived fro the seeds of certain African plants.
So, we didn’t have any time to carve our pumpkin this year (which makes me so sad, you have no idea). It’s still sitting on our front porch, uncarved. Obviously we have failed our first holiday decoration duties as new homeowners and will have to do better next year. Instead, you’ll have to settle for a substitute jack-o-lantern post. Sorry!
Hope everyone has a fun, safe Halloween! Feel free to share any spooky stories or what you did this year in the comments below. We are excited to be getting our first trick or treaters this year…
Pretend this is Zoe’s yearly pose with our jack-o-lantern…
In honor of my cousin’s engagement this past weekend.
“At a romantic restaurant on a busy Saturday night, a guy gets down on one knee and begins to propose. You are a sportscaster doing a color commentary of the occasion for a live television audience.”
“Alright, ladies and gentlemen! Boy-oh-boy, do we have a great event happening here tonight. This young couple has been together for five years. Has she been expecting this evening for years? We’ll find out in just a few short moments. Look at cool he’s playing it! Look at how unassuming she is! She’s turning her head to get the waiter and oh, look at that! He’s just slipped something into her glass of Chardonnay. What could that be? It looks like a cube of some sort. Could it be what we think it is? Woah-ohhh now that’s the kinda thing that a woman wants slipped into her drink, eh, fellas? She’s turning back to the table and oh, he’s suggesting that they have a toast. This has got to be the moment, ladies and gentlemen. We can’t quite hear what he’s saying, but it looks very romantic. She’s going to take a sip and…and…she notices the mystery object in the wine! It must be a whiskey stone or something and it must have writing on it. She’s mouthing something as she studies it. We’re going to need an instant replay to try to read her lips! Oh, oh, oh! He’s standing up and approaching her. She’s looking up in surprise. He’s down on one knee, he’s down on one knee! It looks like he’s saying, ‘I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?’” How sweet! Look at that rock, ladies! Fellas, some of you may have some ‘splaining to do after this one. And look at that – she’s just said yes! She’s just said yes! Scoooooore! She’s crying! They’re hugging and kissing. And the crowd around them is applauding wildly. This is just a beautiful sight to see. Oh, we need to get a wave going for them. This young man and woman have just gotten engaged. Isn’t this just the most exciting thing we’ve seen around these parts in a while! And with that, it’s time to go to commercial. We’ll have a replay as we go to break…”
I think this is a super fun one! It was a lot of fun to write. I dare anyone reading this to try it themselves. Leave your answers in the comments…