Gym Classes and Noise Level

I’ve been going to gym classes for the past six months or so and I’m fighting a losing battle when it comes to ear protection.  They blast the music to the point where the ground is rumbling and then to make sure we can hear the instruction, they then turn their microphones even louder.  I’ve tried every corner of the class, asking instructors to turn it down, speaking with management, and even wearing ear plugs. As much as they have helped to make it less painful on my ears, the classes are still deafeningly loud, even with earplugs.  I’m considering cancelling my membership to save my ears.

I read a Reddit thread not too long ago about the one thing people would tell their younger selves.  An inordinate amount of responses had to do with not being stupid in their young age about their hearing.  We’re already surrounded by a constant barrage of noise pollution all around us.  Traffic, sirens, television, the hum of fluorescent lights.  I want to be physically fit and strong, but I want that without sacrificing my hearing.

Cruelty-Free Cosmetics

After my uninformed purchase of the Bourjois foundation which turned out to test on animals (and isn’t very good anyway), I started looking up more information on cruelty free beauty products. It turns out that a lot of cosmetics that carry that label aren’t necessarily so. If a company sells to the Chinese market, they’re required to test on animals. A brand that’s technically cruelty free could be owned by a parent company that tests on animals. So the list of truly cruelty free brands is actually pretty short. Which in a way simplifies things for me. Fewer options makes for easier decision-making.

Based on what I’ve found these are the ones I use or have used that I think are still truly cruelty free:

  • 100% Pure (they sell to China but explain on their website how they do it without testing on animals).  I like their products but they’re expensive.
  • Rejuva Minerals – I like their loose powder foundation, which I use as a finishing powder or just by itself as a lighter foundation.
  • Mineral Fusion – Only tried the lip tint and 3-in-1 Color Stick and like them both.  The Color Stick is a natural looking blush for everyday.
  • Andalou Naturals – Excellent BB and CC creams for everyday use.  I love their 1000 Roses line.
  • Pacifica – My only gripe about their stuff is the perfumes.  It’s on the stronger side.
  • Juice Beauty – Good but expensive.

Bullet Journaling

I had an entire free day today due to the inauguration and how do I spend my time? Well, it started off innocuously enough. The usual. Cereal. Peppa Pig. Then I ventured onto YouTube. And saw a video on bullet journaling. Don’t Google it. I’m here to tell you to stay away from it. I wasted an entire morning and the better part of the afternoon drawing grid lines.
Untitled

So yeah, this is supposed to keep one more organized. You basically make your own yearly/monthly/weekly/daily planner with a blank journal. You can track anything from personal finance, to mind/body activities like meditation or gratitude journaling. I’m using it as a way to track some of my expenses and my activities like feeding the shrimp or watering my plants. I feel a little bamboozled by Pinterest/YouTube. This is the kinda’ thing one can easily track on say Excel. Or Google Calendar. Or any myriad of online whatever. And the videos get into not only layout but tools which include markers, crayons, color pencils, stickers, pens, washi tape. It’s scrapbooking and sketching a planner. I highly don’t recommend it. The only reason why I spent all day even after I quickly realized this wasn’t for me was because I drew out a month of grids. So now that January was on there, I had to complete the rest of the year. Illogical.

Hits and Misses of 2016

Hits:

  • Ikea Tekla Dish Towel – Best snot rags ever. Even on my worst allergy days, I never get the painfully raw red noses anymore. They can handle my worst drippiest snottiest days. They don’t disintegrate in my work bags. I haven’t left a forgotten tissue in the laundry since. Seriously so convenient. I think I bought 15 of them so they last me through the week and I use them daily.  They’re also good to take to the gym as a face towel – clean ones of course.  Even though they’re not terry cloth, they are soft enough to use on my face and absorbent.  I eat with them too (again, a fresh one) to wipe my mouth (and nose when I’m eating spicy foods). So practical, sturdy, and multi-functional.
  • Peanut Butter and Apples – This is a classic, but this year, it was also my go-to snack, dessert, and craving satisfier. IMG_0983
  • Raw Shea Butter – When cream doesn’t cut it against severe dry flaky skin, I got regular shea butter.  It’s thick and oily.  Great for severe dry skin and lips.  By the way, the same company sells African black soap which is great as a shaving soap as well as a face wash.  Also a thumbs up. IMG_0885-001

Misses:

  • Paperblanks Midi Journal – Too dang small.  Pages are too small and there are too few pages.  For me, this size is for shopping lists, but it’s too nice and fancy a binding.
  • Lindt Dark Noir 99% Cocoa chocolate bar – I love dark chocolate but this made my mouth pucker.  I think I found my maximum limit on the percentage of dark chocolate. 90% is still okay, but 99% took the joy out of eating chocolate for me.
    IMG_0745
  • Not That Kind of Girl – This book was a miss for me.  I couldn’t even get past the first chapter or two.  It was too angsty and whiny?  Whatever it was, I didn’t enjoy it and 2016 was the year I decided life was too short to trudge through books I didn’t enjoy.  I wonder if I would have liked it when I was in high school though.  I enjoyed The Catcher in the Rye as a kid, and that featured an angsty adolescent too.

Out with the old and in with the new

This is my 8 year old cellphone.

IMG_0944 Sanyo Katana

I got it on April 6th, 2008.

This is my new phone which I’ve now had for 3 weeks.
IMG_0933 iPhone 7 Plus

I like it more than I wish I did. It’s fancy. And it’s very easy to use and has a great camera and battery. A charge lasts me 5 days or so. And I’m finally able to text and navigate and take pictures of random things I see on the way to work. It’s not a phone. It’s a mini iPad that happens to be able to make phone calls, which by the way are very clear. People can understand me and I can understand what people are saying to me! I didn’t realize the reason why I couldn’t really understand most of my phone conversations was because the old phone’s speakers were fuzzy. I just thought people were talking too fast and I was hard of hearing.

2 weeks ago, I met someone using an iPhone 4. It gives me hope that the 7 will be sturdy enough to last me until smartphones are the new old relic of the past.

Look at the size difference!
2016-11-17
I like the large screen.

Gilmore Girls

Happy Gilmore Girls Day!
Today is a day I never imagined would happen but I’m so grateful it has.  I have just watched Winter and am about to start Spring of the Netflix Gilmore Girls revival!  Everything is so familiar and yet just a little different.  They still talk super fast but now I can rewind it as many times as I want to catch every bit of quick wit they zip through.  That everyone looks so much older is a little depressing.  It started in 2010 so it’s to be expected.  Rory is now 32 which makes Lorelai 48.  I’ve been and will always be a big fan of this show.
So the new vs the old.  A woman once recently told me don’t compare.  You miss what’s in front of you when you compare.  But sometimes I can’t help myself.  I’ll say this – many parts remain constant.  The characters.  The setting and the feeling of the fairy tale environment.  Yet so much is different.  Even though they have the same actors, they’ve grown.  Emily Gilmore is the least changed.  Still, I’m enjoying every minute of it and I’m sad that they’re only doing this 4 season special.  I could watch it for as long as they’re willing to keep making it.  They didn’t just make a tv show, they made a different world so now let me get back to Stars Hollow.  .

Terrace House

It’s been a long time since I’ve power-marathoned thorugh a TV show.  Maybe Gilmore Girls was the last one I really got sucked into.  And since then it’s been a lot of half-hearted watching.  Having shows on but not really paying attention.  Or just watching random YouTube videos.  But then Terrace House Season 1 Part 2 just got added on Netflix and I was a goner this weekend.  I blasted through it.  Last year, a coworker told me about the show when I complained about having nothing to watch.  He said check this out.  It’s Real World in Japan.  You get the relationship drama and coed living drama all the while everybody is bowing to each other and polite as ever.  I watched one episode and was hooked!  The only hard part is you can’t multitask while watching this show.  It’s all in Japanese with English subtitles so I have to pay attention.  What I like about this is seeing new love blossom.  Or sometimes not.  It takes me back to my memories of being rejected.  Or the excitement of a new romance.  Sometimes peppered with bouts of insecurity, confusion, or jealousy.  Or over agonizing, over thinking, does he – doesn’t he.  And then when couples you want to come together finally do, it’s like a Jane-Austen Yay! It’s magically delicious!

No, you did not give me five-star service.

Dear Verizon –

Here’s the story of why I am no longer a FIOS customer.

1.  I call Verizon to get access to my online account.  Maybe I never had one.  I don’t know.  At any rate I spend over an hour getting passed from one person to the other back to the other or whatever.  I counted at least 6 passes.  It was customer hot potato.  As soon as they detected not-an-easy-fix, they passed me along.  Then the last rep “dropped the call” when asked for her manager.
I went online and did the chat and the chat person took care of it in 1 minute.  Let’s call this experience even since you eventually resolved this.  The phone experience was the stuff of comics though.  Over an hour.

2.  Once I logged in, I learned that I’ve been paying ~$90 a month for 10 mbps download and 2 mbps upload speeds.  And I also learned that you now offer a $50 a month service for faster speeds. I try to sign up online but keep running into a message saying it can’t be done, call customer service.  Yup – back into customer service hotline hell we go.  First call – your call center rep tells me there’s an error on my account.  I’m on hold for a good half hour.  Rep tells me to try back later.

3.  Call 2.  Rep logs a ticket to get this error fixed and says he’ll call me back about this the next day.

4.  No call back.  I make call 3.  Ticket is still hanging out there.  Unaddressed.  Give it a day.  They’ll call me back.

5.  Again, no call back. Call 4.  They tell me to give it a few days.  They’ll call me back when it’s resolved.

6.  You don’t call me back after a week of the ticket being logged.  Call 5.  Your call center rep tells me they’re trying to get someone on the phone but it’s taking a while.  In the meantime, do I want to just hang up and he’ll call me back in a couple of minutes.  Durrr.. okay.

7.  Over a half an hour later, surprise!  No call back.  Call 6.  This rep tells me Verizon no longer services my area.  Hence I can’t make any changes to my plan. Ok, time to start shopping for other options.  (Only later I come to find out that is not true!)

8.  I go to Comcast, which is the last thing I want to do because their reputation precedes them.  But what else can I do!?  Keep getting bilked at $90/month for sub-par service?  During the final call to Verizon to schedule the cancellation date, when your rep was trying to keep me on, she still said you needed 48 hours to get this fixed!!  What?!  It’d been 10 days.  Not once did you call me back when you said you would.  This relationship is over because I can’t trust anything you say.  And I’m tired of my nightly chats with your customer service reps.

I would like to add that your reps spend a lot of time reading scripts and it does not make the service better.  In fact, I wish they were allowed to just talk normally.  It would save us all a lot of time from having to listening to the same lines over and over without getting any real help.  I think your Call Center(s) is trying to sabotage your business.  They couldn’t have done a better job at driving me away if they were trying.

Not yours truly.

Update to the update on the mattress

A month or so ago I decided to flip the mattress. After writing this not-so-positive review on the Savvy Rest, I finally decided to try to fix the situation. The mattress was sort of a beast to flip. You definitely can’t do it alone because it is very pliable. After flipping it, we even had to open up the mattress and adjust the 2 side by side layers of latex because they were bunching up in the middle. After some wrangling, this mattress is finally what I want! Because the firm side doesn’t sink in as much, you don’t feel the crack in the middle. And it is so nice and supportive to sleep in. It’s perfect!! I am now loving this bed. LOVE!! The firm latex is supportive without the hard/harsh pressure points on your joints or bones. When before, I was kind of regretting not returning the bed (I really wanted to, but the thought of wrangling all these latex layers back into the box was not worth it to me), now I only wish I’d flipped this sooner. Still, we’ve got many more years left in this bed so better now than later. I take the last opinion back – I would get this bed (or one like it) again. I like it better than the standard innerspring, memory foam (the worst!), and air beds (like Sleep Number). The great thing about latex is, you only feel the first 2 or 3 inches of latex. Because they give you 3 different layers of latex, each about 3 inches thick what ever layer you’re directly on top of is the only one you feel. Now I see why the sales guy advised me to get one of each degree of firmness. That way, it’s totally customizable. Don’t worry about what are on the bottom 2 layers, as long as the one in direct contact with you is the firmness you like, you won’t really notice the other two. They’re just there for added thickness.

C-ville

Spent a weekend in Charlottesville, VA. Yes. The Deep South. Confederate flags and all!

We stayed at the Econo Lodge.  It was $70 a night and felt like it.  The package came with squeaky beds and audible upstairs neighbors having a lovely evening which immediately bumped up my rating of the place.  I don’t mute Keeping Up with the Kardishians for just anything.  Live entertainment is always better then TV.

Charlottesville doesn’t seem like much of a food destination.  It’s not bad, but it’s nothing memorable either.  We ate at Bodo’s Bagels, Firefly, Mellow Mushroom, and Mellow Mushroom again.  Granted, that’s not much of a sample size.

We also visited a brewery bar – Three Notch’d Brewery.
Three Notch'd Brewery
Good beers.  I learned that I’m not a fan of very very hoppy beers. Of the ones we tasted, Jazz Fest (sugar cane and pecan ale) was our favorite. You can definitely taste the pecans. Hydraulion Red was number 2. It was just a very balanced beer that was a little bit caramelly sweet. And number 3 was Jack’s Java Espresso Stout. It definitely tasted of coffee. Probably our least fave was Ghost of the 43rd American Pale Ale. It tasted of hops, hops, and more hops.

Our two main attractions while visiting Charlottesville were the McCormick Observatory and the Paramount Theater’s children’s musical, Alice in Wonderland.  

The Observatory was a long line where each person got to take a peek through the giant telescope to see Jupiter and 3 of its moons – Io, Callisto, and Europa.  
McCormick Observatory
It was mostly for historical purposes, just to get an idea of how people in the late 19th century studied the stars. Nowadays there are more advanced telescopes (Kepler/Hubble) that sit in outer space. The experience included a good bit of waiting in line while a staff member gave each person a few quick seconds of a look.  I love looking at outer space things.  They’re kind of magical and beautiful.

The Paramount Theater is in “downtown” Charlottesville.  The performance of Alice in Wonderland was given by the Missoula Children’s Theatre by local children in the area.  The company brings the props, a director and other staff and they audition local children and rehearse for about a week and put on the low budget show.  It was pretty cute to watch kids (I’m guessing they were K-12) running and dancing around the stage in costumes. It was as cute as one can imagine. Little kids dressed as lobsters and singing flowers. They waved to their moms, forgot their lines, tripped and stumbled, mumbled their lines and missed some cues. Pretty adorable stuff! Still, even though it was all rather sweet it felt more like something the family or friend of a performer would enjoy more.

And what is a trip without some shopping? I started out at the conventional shops. Ann Taylor. Banana Republic. I didn’t find anything I liked that much. Then while we were at the Paramount Theater, I overheard a mom raving about their local Goodwill stores. She said the best time to shop is when all the university students leave for the summer. I mentally smacked my head, duh! Of course the Goodwill store. So after the play and lunch we went to a Goodwill store.
Thrift Store finds
I got these 4 items for $16! One still had the tag attached and one was a pink cashmere sweater that appeared unworn.

Foodwise – I’m not sure I need to bother talking about Bodo’s Bagels or Firefly. They were both decent but nothing stand-out. The best place we ate was Mellow Mushroom which is why we went there twice. The first time was better than the second though. My first impression was, hey, this is comparable to Lost Dog Pizza here. I got a mushroom hoagie.
Hoagie @ Mellow Mushroom
It was mostly bread, but with a good dollop of marinara sauce, it was decent. Some red onions would have made it even better. On the plus side, it came out very hot and the bread was nicely toasted.
The second time we went, I wanted to try their pizza. So I got a veggie pizza with no cheese.
Vegan pizza @ Mellow Mushroom
Here’s what I got. Looked and smelled good but tasted bland and dry. This is a vegan pizza made by non-vegans. They don’t consider that without cheese, it needs something more to add flavor or moisture. This thing needed oil or a lot more marinara sauce to help improve the lack of cheese situation. This just isn’t a pizza. I realize this isn’t fair to Mellow Mushroom. They sell traditional pizza and I turned it into this monstrosity by choice. So when I opine that it’s sub-par to Lost Dog, I took those particular dings out of the equation. What makes Lost Dog better is the crust, which is thinner and lighter (less dense doughy-ness), the marinara sauce, and more even distribution and generous portions of toppings. To boot, LD on a busy day churns out their food a lot faster than MM on a quiet day. Mellow Mushroom can hack it in Charlottesville but I’m not rushing to go to any of the locations here.

The one place that showed a lot of promise that we didn’t get to was Bluegrass Bar & Grill. The waiting time for lunch was an hour!! After no breakfast, and an hour of hot yoga, we decided to head back to Mellow Mushroom instead of waiting.

The surprising highlight of our weekend turned out to be attending 2 yoga classes. I planned them as time fillers. These were heated vinyasa flow classes and I came out of there totally soaked through with sweat and feeling calm and energized.

And what is a trip to C-ville without a visit to TJ’s UVA?
The Rotunda
Yes, this is The Rotunda. It’s under repair.