Magic Ruby is a Gem

So I wanted to make a quick post about an event I went to in February: Magic Ruby. It was a free event near Disney.

I love me some Python but man the Ruby community can be great.  I have only dabbled in Ruby but I couldn’t resist a free conference where Dave Thomas and Chad Fowler were speaking.

Turned out to be awesome and totally applicable to my work.  A lot of the talks were about good practices in general, so could be applied outside of Ruby.  I especially give kudos to Dave Thomas who very openly talked about what the Ruby/Agile community could improve on.  Namely keeping a more open mind while not chasing the golden idol of new technology without weighing the cost to production.

Thunder Struck

So I did my first impromptu lightning talk (hosted by Gregg at Envy Labs!). It was on accessibility and simple things you can do to improve your site’s Section 508 compliance and make it all around more usable. I had five minutes to talk and they requested a video as well. Check it out below…

Addendum:

  1. Using multiple H1s is allowed in HTML5 but keep in mind this is still not supported by most screen readers. The big point here is to keep the hierarchy clear and not to jump levels or use random headings for accent.
  2. I had a 5 minute time limit so I didn’t get to clarify the resource “Just disable styles on your site!”. What I meant here is a good troubleshooting tool is to look at your site and remove all styles via your browser setting. If the content makes sense and nothing vital is lost, you should be on the right path! This is not a foolproof technique though.
  3. I had my references on the stats slide but viddler cuts of the bottom… VIDDLLEERRRR! Trust me I researched them?

Pretty sweet background muzak huh? Recorded with Jing in the hotel side lobby…

It was a good experience. And I had some people come up and talk to me afterward voicing their frustration as well as to the lack of knowledge about accessibility. I also got a high five!

I think I’m going to prepare a longer one for Barcamp Orlando

Yay for Awesome Free Events! – S

February Goals

So I failed a lot in January….

I will not dwell on that and instead I will set  this months goals:

  • Don’t eat after 9. Eat reasonable.
  • Dance once a week.
  • Every day I am able, do yoga.
  • Finish portfolio this month.
  • Clean out my garage.
  • Eat through my pantry so by the end of the month I have to go to the store to eat.  Eat more from meal to meal rather than overbuying.
  • Continue trying to sell my car.

I think this is managable… but then again I thought last month was.  Really my only success was we kept the office and my room clean.  I did TRY to change my name (chickened out) and I TRIED to fix up my car but the part is too expensive so I’m just selling it for less now.

Wasn’t a horrible month just could have done better food wise.  So this month I’m going to try to temper it with some exercise, focus more on that.

Well here we go! – Sheila

New Year New Post – Goals… for at least January

SOOOOO lots has happened and I have not been the best about documenting it.

But rather than making excuses lets jump right into it.

2010

  • We took our moms on a cruise and got to visit Mexico in the process!
  • Learned ukulele and continue striving towards getting beyond just karaoke with it.  It has been a GREAT activity to do with my dad.
  • Got married and the wedding was a grand success! We are soooo lucky.  See wedding.austinandsheila.com for photos, press coverage (WUH?), full ceremony and other fun-ness.
  • Traveled to Europe for our Honeymoon.  France, Spain & Italy!  It was an amazing 16 days where we covered 10 cities! Check it out on Flickr.
  • I’ve started taking photography more serious in general!  It’s been a great creative outlet now that the wedding festivities have died down.  Plus its great to document our first and coming years of marriage.  I purchased my SLR (a canon Rebel) and I’m slowly learning how to use it.
  • Continue forth at work.  It was my first full calendar year as a team lead of the Techrangers at Center for Distributed Learning at University of Central Florida.  A full year of working hands on with my team (11 strong), developing Dredbeard and Zapt and working at improved course development procedures.  I attended my first professional conference, BBWorld 2010 and presented my first poster session.  Very fulfilling!
  • I feel we probably could have done more with SHOUT! Swing but reality is we didn’t have much time!  And really we did what we could with what energy we had. I am still proud that we held a workshop, threw a free dance, taught at least once a month and performed at Celebration.  Overall we continue to grow and learn as teachers.
  • Ooo ran a 5k with only one walking bought!

My biggest personal accomplishments were to get better at setting to-dos and taking care of my personal assets (posting/editing pictures) before  the momentum dies.  Also, being able to be relax and enjoy our wedding weekend was a feat only doable due to good planning and learning to BREATH. I am proud that I was overall unstressed and level headed.

2011

So I don’t do well with goals… or I do but I don’t.  As in I’m a driven person but often I plan TOO much and then feel like a failure even though I got a lot accomplished.  And then use that as an excuse to not move forward…

Here’s my plan.  I’m going to set a yearly manageable goals BUT also hold myself to smaller goals each month that will help me achieve the big goal.  But small…. and not beat myself up if it doesn’t happen.  JUST MOVE FORWARD.

  • BIG RESOLUTION: Do not let stress over rule my life. I honestly believe if I accomplish that it will help with a lot of my issues which includes: using stress as excuse to eat badly or not be active, not enjoying the moment and not feeling fulfilled or obsessing over the little things.
  • HEALTH: I don’t even want to lose weight anymore… which is around 150lbs (10 lbs gained since our October wedding).  I just want to eat reasonable so I have energy and health that I need to do what I need to do.  If weight loss comes with that, even better.  NO MORE EXCUSES.  And no more enslavement to the scale. I plan to not step foot on it except at the doctor’s.
  • RECREATION: Get back to my passions.  Whatever they be I need to take time for myself a little each day.  I need to get back to my creativity!  I need to get back to myself!  And who I am without Austin when need be. As well, I need to as well dance at least once a week, even if its just with Austin in our house.
  • RELATIONSHIPS: Continue to work on appreciating my family and my husband.  I as well want to make more of an effort to keep in touch with long distance friends, even if its just a quick hi on Facebook.
  • PROFESSION: Start learning again!  Take time for professional development  at work and in my free time.  My portfolio also needs a fresh start so I can use it to showcase my MANY passions.  I as well want more of an internet presence (blogging etc) this really is more of a bonus goal… if I get the rest done first.
  • PROJECT: Other than refreshing my portfolio I will get all my dad’s websites redesigned and humming.  So that he may sell his music online.
  • FOR FUN: SEE Orlando.  WHEN we have free time go do some typical “Orlando” things that we haven’t done…..
  • LIFE: GET RID OF CLUTTER. Simplify my life and learn to digitize/organize my stuff and let go of material possessions.  Still have a box in the garage from Boston….  This means as well keeping my backlogged digital assets organized and well backed up…. I want to feel comfortable about my possessions and in control by the end of 2011.

In general I want to get my life in control!  Get it organized and manageable and then build from there!  Not feel so overwhelmed.

January Goals

You’ll see I plan on focusing what bothers me the most… my health.  Here are my steps towards working on the food issue first.

  • Don’t eat after 9pm when I’m going to bed early.
  • Eat normal sized portions and learn when I’m no longer hungry.
  • Only drink more than one alcoholic drink a night once per week.  Because when I drink… I want more food… its a cruel cycle.
  • Dance at least once per week.
  • Get my new portfolio design marked up in HTML 5.
  • Get my car fixed up so I can sell it hopefully in February.
  • Submit my paperwork to change my last name.
  • Keep my office and room clean.  So far they are clean… now just have to maintain.

My Luck

I have an immense amount of it… let’s hope I keep systematically working on myself while also learning to relax.  2011 is going to be an AMAZING year.  I already learned to drive stick and cleaned up the office!

Introducing a new fun side project.

Time Cards Continue – Sheila

Juneish-July: What Sheila’s Been Rolling Round In

So a run down of what I’ve been doing:

  • Turned 24! I feel old.  I know I’m not old.  But I feel it.  Definitely reconciled that I’m a 100% responsible for my own actions.  Filled my taxes this year.  Have an IRA. Am responsible for food getting into my mouth.  Been feeling old for a while though, what with working through school (which getting a job right after college validated this).  Just not as footloose and fancy free since my stint at Boston University or as we called it “Camp BU”.  Not because it was easy… but there was a lot of running around drunk, giggling, sometimes outdoors.  Any who, don’t take me as complaining though I relate to this..  Just this year it finally finally sunk in.  It’s like the question “When you look in the mirror how old do you look?”  Well I finally see an adult.  But that’s okay being an adult has a lot of freedom.  Though we have societal trappings seeming to cage us in, in the end we are free adults with the ability to eat badly, quit our jobs, run away, suffer the consequences, possibly die on the street, but really in the end our choice.  I’D LIKE TO HEAR YOU SAY THAT 6 YEAR OLD CHILD!
  • We did a 4th of July show at Celebration Town Center!  Pictures/video EVENTUALLY to come… not great at posting media assets.  It was 50s themed, and hot and 3.5 hours of constant dancing.  No really… Too hot.
  • One of my bridesmaids was in town from Spain, Aline. We went to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.  Still not a Disney fan though Animal Kingdom is the best.  Really don’t take advantage of the parks here.  I haven’t been back to Islands of Adventure since I moved here 4ish years ago, and I like that park.
  • Austin turned 27!
  • Annual Birthday camping trip at Blue Springs.  Staff was nicer at Wekiva but the Springs were much nicer for swimming at Blue.  Overall enjoyable though it WAS SO HOT and within an hour of getting there I became a broken woman.  Strained my arms and jumped on a rock (an injury that kept me from dancing for 2 weeks).
  • Sent out my wedding invites! We just solidified/wrote our wedding ceremony.  Now on to fittings, tastings and designing our programs…  Almost complete with all our honeymoon reservations.
  • At work:
    • Helped organizing the parlors for Educauses’s AASCU.
    • Attended BBWorld2010 and presented this poster. Won a droid phone, so now I’m back to smart phones.  I should be happy.  But it complicates things and my fingers tap the wrong keys. Into the the future I hurtle!
    • Attended Front-End Design Conference – This may sound ignorant but I expected it to be less Graphic/UI design and more front-end development.  Either way still enjoyed it and the talks were good refreshers.  Gained most by the talk on iPhone dev/design, good food for thought.  Though I’m not sure when I’ll get to dally in that. People were very nice. Very nice and positive.  Wish that wasn’t so unusual to me.
  • Five Years with Austin as of 7/29. Wow.  Glad we are still lucky and in love. 🙂 Went to St. Augustine to celebrate (our route).  I’ve been meaning to go there for a while but this was our first trip together.  Very nice but very touristy.  ELITIST ALERT! I guess, I’m just spoiled from experiencing the oldness of Europe, in cities that don’t rely seemingly only on tourism.  Hey!  Got to drink good imported beer at the Rendezvous.  Walked around holding hands. Bought tasty soap. Got free drinks due to poor service. Saw an old fort. Worth at least one visit.
  • Been swimming.
  • Been playing ukulele… haven’t posted about this but its awesome.
  • Been reading. Shades of Grey is amazing.
  • Hiring at work.
  • Been busy.

So many more adventures to come as we are 2 months away from the wedding.  Just trying to lose weight, learn ukulele and keep my sanity.  August means heat, fall semester startup at UCF (busiest time of the year at work) and Southern Belle Swing Bash!

Just hoping to keep unstressed and appreciate what I have.

True – S

One Ring to Rule Them All

As I mentioned in my post about our wedding, Austin and I a few months ago debarked upon the path of creating customized bands.  My engagement ring (pictured below) is an unusual shape so we needed to create an interlocking band.  As for Austin’s… well he deserved some bling!  Here are some thoughts and results…

The Planning

So this is my engagement ring… sorry for the quality.  Shinies are hard to photograph with a cell phone camera.

Enagement Ring

Austin bought it at Diamond Exchange.  He wanted to get a tension setting… but those are SUPER expensive so he found this unique setting which mimics the look.  The experience was positive so we went back to the store for our bands.

I had read in some wedding book of a Victorian tradition where you spell out words with gemstones.  Me not being a big diamond fan and the fact that using gems are a money saver we decided to run with it.  While those crazy Victorians spelled out words like “L-O-V-E” and “H-O-P-E”, Austin and I decided upon initials.  Austin would have two sapphires for Sheila Suarez.  Where I would have A-D-F for Austin David Flores (as you will see later this was harder then I hoped).

The Jeweler is a fantastic designer so with my input he came up with this for my band:

Sketch of my band.

Austin meanwhile picked out a white gold/”frosted” band.  He then designed his own gem setting, very reminiscent of this TrueBlood ring:

Only instead of two bands… its one… and Sapphires that make the infinity symbol… much like the tear drop stones on mine.  So really not like the above at all.

Results!

So creating customized interlocking rings is not for the weary…  It took a lot of visits to the store to ensure the bands fit the original engagement ring perfectly.  And even then its not perfect as to be expected from a man made metallic object.  But it looks darn good!  Austin’s was of course much easier.  Behold my precious…

The Set

Infinity is Sexy

2 peices

My band separated.  We have dubbed it Bling-A-Tron.

LOCK!

The bottom of it

One Ring to Rule Them All

So the final stones actually don’t spell out A-D-F but S-D-F for Suarez De Flores (my future last name).  I really wanted to match Austin’s name but after an extensive search the only F stone was the Mexican Fire Opal (left stone).  And orange does not match any A stone…  So for Suarez we used Spacerite Garnet (right stone) which is a light orange.  Luckily Diamond Exchange did their research and was able to figure this out for me!

Final Thoughts

Creating customized bands are expensive but I would do it again in a heart beat!  This is creating a legacy for your family and a hand me down.

If I had to do it again though I might have done a little bit more checking around as far as jewelers.  Though I will say Diamond Exchange really pulled through.  I heard though that putting in an alchemy request on Etsy.com can be great and more affordable.

Also using gem stones while cheaper can be tricky as they are not even close to as hard as Diamonds so may break easily.  My fire opal broke during construction and they had to replace it.  Luckily my jeweler constructed it so that when put together the Diamond sticks out slightly and protects the site stones, but still it is a risk that I will have to maintain.  Here is a scale to give you an idea!  The problem is this scale is not a set ratio so the difference between level 9 and 10 is .. well .. ten fold.

In the end, you will probably end up sautering together your ring.  While nice to be like a puzzle, after the wedding day you will most likely never wear them separated (mostly because wearing the band alone could risk breakage as its created to be together).  And if sautered together the ring is more protected from warping and breakage. Kinda shame… probably will do it myself… :/  And of course this costs more money.

So have fun and don’t pull out your hair!

Shinies – S

Biking On the Road is all the Rage

I didn’t have the best friday and I needed a diversion that wasn’t food or drink to bring me back to earth.  I really have been striving to find balance in my life as far as my health, stress level & recreational time.

After talking to some friends I heard about the Cross Seminole Trail head being just down the road from us.  I did some research online but found scant resources in my precursery search.  The most informational being: this and this. I actually used a different map then the latter which I can no longer find.

Either way we hydrated, put on sun block and hit the trail.

First 4.5 miles were great.  The trail was awesome and I was mad at myself for not doing this more.  In Pittsburgh, as a child, I used to ride ALL the time.

Uhohs

Then we hit the end of the trail. Uhoh.  This was supposed to go for 20 miles, of which we planned only to do 10.  All the informative end of trail sign said was “Use side walk”.   Which does not sound like good advice anyway since there was a bike lane on the road…  I guess for families that is good.

So as a conscious effort to follow the rules of the law we rode in the bike lane. And rode. And rode.  No trail reentry.

Finally we decided to cut our loses and ride back home by making a loop past UCF.  Which meant riding on University Blvd.  A road with no bike lane.  And as we found out a lot of ignorant drivers despite being near to a major University which should have lots of student bicycle traffic.  No wonder students are afraid to ride there.

We work off of University Blvd. and have been anxious to get some practice riding in the road on it, as we are by law supposed to. Plus, riding in the the road forces the cars to notice you rather then the side walk where distracted drivers have been known to turn and hit bikers. This being a Saturday with no traffic we felt it would be optimum practice.

First of all I know riding in the road is the best. But it did not feel safe. Despite no traffic angry drivers constantly cut it close, honked, yelled & pointed at the sidewalk.  Yes. We get it.  We are not blind.  We see the sidewalk. One car got really close to Austin.  We rode taking up the right lane as to ensure that drivers would not try to cut it close.  But they did.  In the 4 mile stretch we had at least 2 close encounters and 7 angry honks. One from a mail man!  Slowest vehicle on the road…

Why does the right thing feel wrong?  Other people.

I have mixed feelings about this experience.

I already know biking to work is hard for me as much as I want to do it as I only live 5 miles away.  1.  I’m not good at getting up early, as biking doesn’t take long but getting there with time to shower is hard. 2. University Blvd is just not bike friendly and its just a damn shame.  On all the roads there were bike lanes it was awesome and I felt fine but University Blvd was hell.

I feel like a chicken but though I plan on biking more I may just always ensure I take a trail or a road with bike lanes.  With some research I figured out that google maps has a bike trail view (bike button at the top of the directions) and I saw that we were supposed to veer onto a certain road to catch the trail again… Thanks for the signs, County.

I feel riding in the road was correct. By law and as I vehicle I had every right.  But with the angriness and the close calls it was just not a relaxing experience.

Austin and I will be taking a road biking course hopefully soon so perhaps that will change my mind.  I just wish I had the time to lobby for… or for the government to… put more money into bike commuting, bike lanes and educating the public about sharing lanes with bikers.  I feel UCF also is missing out but not pushing for a more bike friendly campus/locale.

I’m proud of myself though!  I almost gave up as one point but I kept on going and ended up biking 18.6 miles!  Pretty darn good I do think so… 🙂

Our Path: http://tinyurl.com/2dyjgzf

I guess my message is take bike lanes/trails as much as possible.  But do your research as far as your options.  And go out of your way to find safe roads if you do not live in a bike friendly area.

But if you are stuck on a road with no lane.  Own that lane with no apologies.  No matter how much they honk.  It’s safe and you have every right.

Honk – S

First Post… BEES!

So finally put this blog on my own namespace.  New title: Learning Machine.  Because I am… a Learning Machine (think Iron Man).

Still have to make my own theme.  I have an idea.  Might take me 2 years to find the time to implement it…  Personal projects are usually the last to be implemented/finished.

But mark my word it will be glorious when I do.

So to mark this moving how about a post?

Bee-Me-Geden

This weekend I went down to South FL to visit my parents.  Turns out they had their own smoke monster a brewing… honey.

Smoke Monster

Seems since 2005, the year of hurricane Wilma, my dad has not used his grill.  Partially due to lack of opportunity and partially due to the hive of bees that took residence in the grill that was secured a tree (hurricane proof and great for bees!).  My dad being a fairly nonviolent person despite the muscles and martial arts training left the bees alone.  Or at least he did until last week when they didn’t like him mowing the lawn… they didn’t like it one bit.  As evidence by his swollen bitten face.

So my father launched several attacks upon the bees: spraying poison, trying to lodge drum sticks in the hive & running at first site of swarm. Even got my brother in on the action at 1am last night. But the freight train mega-hive was pretty smart about protecting their Queen so stayed strong.

Enter Mr. Craigslist

So Bees can suck but they also are slowly dying.  Which as someone, who relies on her daily transfusion of honey to make her allergies at least placebo effect better and a general lover for the natural world, makes me sad.  I swear, everyday a tablespoon of raw honey, lemon and cinnamon… makes me feel super strong.  I started taking it a month or so ago and immediately felt better though I expected it to effect me next spring.  *shrugs*

My friend Natalie’s family owns K&D’s Honey Bees and she had mentioned to me that people sometimes call them to humanely remove honey hives.  She gets the sweet sweet honey, bees relocated, people bee-less.  Everyone wins!

So 2 hours south and sympathetic to the bees I turned to craigslist.  My mother had called the county and some local honey harvesters to only get no response.  I hoped the Internetz could help us.

The first question is Under what category do you post giving away an angry swarm of bees? I decided “free stuff” and “wanted” (i.e. I want you to take my free bees).  You have to be careful about posting the same post in two categories as its against the rules so I used my genius to reword a three line advert basically saying “HELP!  We love bees.  Relocate our grill full-o-bees!”.

The next morning we had three responses!  Two offering the service and one hoping for me to clue them into who they can call to give away their own angry swarm.

Save Bees: Smoke Them Out

Some very nice people came, got the bees drunk off of smoke and then loaded up their truck with 50 lbs of honey, a bucket full of wax and many other buckets of confused bees.  Sadly the honey will just be thrown away due to my dad’s first attack of poison. But the wax is good.  The bees saved.  And the internet has saved the day.  Really there are going to be some sad lost bees on bee milk cartons and not all of the hive can be taken together.  A sad swarm will still hover over the spot for the next 3 days.  Until, according to the beekeeper, other bees from all over the place come pick apart the useless remenents of the hive and they all fly off together humming happy songs.

Moral of the Story

If you have bees on your property.  Resist poisoning them.  They are slowly becoming endangered and their sweet excrement is awesome.  Call your local honey harvesters.  And if that fails just post on craigslist.  If we can have three responses quickly in Port St. Lucie… I’m sure you will have no problem.  It’s free. Humane.  And I’m sure you could ask for a jar of honey (if you haven’t poisoned the crop).

BEADS! – S

Lost No More

So I started this post before Lost ended.  This is all I had… “Things I hate about Lost:”

I’ll try to put a more positive spin on this situation by introducing some short lists of likes, complaints and solutions…

Likes

  1. No complaints about the acting. Locke/M.I.B. played Terry O’Quinn especially shined in his contradictory but convincing roles. Michael Emerson (Ben) was also a favorite despite how they let his character peter out.
  2. Some real novel intriguing ideas, too bad it was piece-mealed together. It’s not enough for me that it was “art” or “unique” I need some resolution. They could have been more successful with sticking with oneish concept (time travel, human experimentation, salvation).
  3. Something to watch/bitch about.
  4. Some really good character origins. My favorite episode being Locke’s “Walk About” and Sawyer’s “Confidence Man”.

The characters/actors made Lost.

Dislikes

  1. Overdone suspense music even when revealing a twist for the third time… I don’t care if THIS character is learning it for the first time, we already know.
  2. Gimmicky twists as mentioned above. Especially when in regards to fate. Fate is interesting when its not written (such as coincidence in life), unfortunately there is yet the technology (or amount of intelligent chimps) to produce unwritten shows that aren’t reality shows. So lay off of relying on fate. Of course its all intermingled, you wrote it like that! Oh lord, Jacob touched him!
  3. No regard for my time by letting the ending be what it was.
  4. Character development became more mechanical towards the end as people were used as stereotypes of themselves to move what little plot there was. So Sun spent days seemingly sitting in one location (totally amnesiac of her daughter) until someone told her Jin was where they were going and she followed them.
  5. Time wasted on flash sideways when we had wrapping up to do!

I FELL ASLEEP DURING THE FINAL SO DON’T REALLY KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT HOW IT ENDED BUT THIS IS WHAT I SUGGEST AS FAR AS HOW LOST COULD HAVE SALVAGED THEIR DIGNITY

Woke up confused.  Austin explained the end and I was even more confused and slightly agitated.

My suggestions go as follows…

  1. We know we can’t make the island purgatory because some asshole guessed that on a forum after Season 1.  And we DEFINITELY know we can’t make the flash sideways purgatory because that would mean a majority of season 6 was for naught.  We don’t want to waste people’s time… do we Lost?  So how about instead of purgatory we make the island REAL LIFE and life before the island hell?  And the flash sideways if they had gone to heaven and not hell and if they redeem themselves in real life (a.k.a. make nice on the island and don’t let the Devil in Black leave) they will attain heaven.Okay you know what? Scratch that the island should have been purgatory we all know that and that’s why some troll guessed it. I don’t care if they would have had gloating rights you should have stuck with it Lost.
  2. The gold shiny light? Pulp Fiction Glowing Suitcase Should have been time (or at least explained). This theory doesn’t really explain why time turns you into a black smoke monster but we as humans strive for more time (longer lives) so that makes the shinies worth it to fight over. It would explain the longevity of the protectors. Also, if one person released or stole it all it would end time as we know it for everyone else. Also, explains the magical time travel. The flash sideways could have been an alternative universe spawned by the explosion that must be united with the “actual” universe in order to stabilize time. The island could be basically the knot that holds together time (or the cork if you prefer) and Jacob and M.I.B. the humans deranged with power by living at the nexus.  You can also explain Jacob getting off the island as time travel can be perceived as space travel.
  3. How about jumping the shark and explain it away as… aliens. Jacob and the M.I.B. are aliens enacting their own “Crash of Titans”. In some sort of Truman Show biosphere they crashed our plane on to their “mechanical island space ship” and are testing our virtues. The flash sideways are another simulation that they are putting people through and by realizing this the humans end the aliens hold on them.

Pick one. Still better then, some hole light thingy that Jack magically could just plug back in and flash sideways being some sort of limbo where people magically have stupid sons.

Done – S

To be fair I was the one that watched it for 6 seasons… by the ending I just didn’t care.  Made me long for the days anticipating the ending of worthwhile series like Battlestar Galactica.  Even if their payoff wasn’t great either…

Doomsday Book – Book Review… OF DOOM

So in my many forays into “having too many hobbies” I have founded/maintained for the last two years a book club, Y.A.W.E.R.S. (YAY! Adults Who Enjoy Reading Still formally known as Young Adults Who Enjoy Reading Still).

Here’s my review of our May read…

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

Synopsis:

Dooms Day Book CoverIt is the not so exciting future (other then… you know time travel) where historians are the new Indiana Joneses, the bell crazed British are sending historians back to the past, by themselves, to chronicle history.  Shenanigans occur.  One part historical fiction, one part sci fi, another part medical drama.  A pretty surprising multifaceted book, that despite long sometimes frustrating inner monologues will keep you guessing (and you’ll find you were probably right) and interested until the end.

Thoughts:

I liked this book.  It wasn’t what I expected (mostly because I’m bad at reading back covers/reviews).  It really has a little about everything and keeps you interested.  Connie Willis’ view of the future is not super exciting (then again it’s only 50 years from now) but the time travel aspect adds a twist.  She in my opinion cops out though with the book’s universe rule that you can’t travel back in time and effect the past because “the net” that takes you back won’t let you go if you can screw it up.  Really takes a lot of balls to trust in that one.

The characters aren’t SUPER endearing but they are likeable enough.  The parts in the past both anglicize the people of the time and forces the point that its not the fairy tale era that SCA members day dream about.  Apperantly she did her research though (didn’t travel back in time though… :/ Where’s the commitment?) as best as she could and its pretty accurate to the 1300s.

One sometimes frustrating and sometimes interesting aspect of the book was Connie Willis’ ability to really get in the head of the unreliable narrators.  Large stretches of the book are spent with the characters listing what they needed to do full of self doubt or full hardy promise.  Made me stress and urge them a long.  It wasn’t Grapes of Wrath in length of description though so it was barable. The way she stretches on inner monologues also is mirrored in her plot reveals.  Good twists but I guessed them 50-100 pages before as there is very obvious lead up.

Rating:

3 out of 5 penguins for gumption!

Read On – S

Ikea – How Swedish Simplicity Might Simplify Your Wedding

So just a quick(ish) entry about a place you should check out if you planning a wedding. Especially if you are planning on building your own centerpieces. So if you have one near you, try Ikea.

I know Ikea is not a new phenomenon but you might not look there first to “furnish” your wedding.  I actually got this idea a while ago from Ruffled.  After visiting the store I realized how many other potential wedding applications there were.  Too bad I already decided on my centerpieces!

Pros

  • Maybe not sturdy but cheap.  And for one night of use that’s fine.
  • You can peruse their selection online and search to see if your local Ikea has that item.  Perhaps even hundreds of them…  You most likely won’t have to worry about not having enough if you find what you want in the store nearby.  They have bins I tells ya!  Bins!
  • Simple in style so you could always go crazy and still “customize” it/stencil it.  Also often the selection comes in the latest “hip” colors.
  • Many of these purchases you could just use in your house afterwards!

Cons

  • Navigating the store.  It’s best to just following the long long long winding path until you get to your “section”.  Do not freak out there will be an end to the path and if you haven’t noticed related items and have been walking for a while, its okay, just keep on walking.  Nina had to tell me to do this several times… its overwhelming.
  • Might not have one near you.  Can’t order online for many of the items but you can call in and order.  If you call in though they charge a pretty hefty phone order fee ($20!) and expensive shipping.

A Smattering of Ideas

Here are a few options I found:

FrameI actually bought this $.99 option for my table menus.  Double sided, cheap and simple.  Holds a 4″x6″ and has Plexiglas to protect the photo or menu.

Easel$.99 cent easel that holds a 4″x6″ picture frame (you can get a pack of three for $1.99) or perhaps your menu on card stock?  My friend is using these for her Van Gogh inspired wedding.

CushionReception seats a bit stiff?  Rather then decorate with sashes and a back cover, what about a utilitarian but summery cushion?  At $2.99 it’s pretty affordable!  You could then encourage people to take them home with them.  Or have a cushion room in your future love nest… for frolicking like Scrouge Mc Duck.

Cushion BlankSame idea as above but white and only $1.49. This could easily be dyed or stenciled with your logo.

Honey Comb MirrorOkay, this is straight up awesome for your own house… A pack of 10 honeycomb interlocking mirrors for $14.99 or $1.50ish each.  But imagine keeping them separate or only bunching a few together and using them as mirrors underneath your centerpieces. Ah Haaa….

Movie Frame

This is a little more expensive but for $9.99 you can buy this seven picture movie themed picture frame.  It hangs and could either “frame” your bridal table or hang over each of your guests tables with pictures of you guys.  Especially great for a movie/hollywood/picture themed wedding.

CaraffeScience themed?  Spice it up some flowers you could get at the local farmers market and colored water for your centerpieces. Or fill several with jelly beans (once color per carafe).  $7.99.

Bottle$2.99 – Fill it with sand and put it on its side, fill it with candy, put tiny flowers inside.  Swig beer in it.  Send a message of love to commemorate the day to a far off land after saying your vows on the beach (or a pirate ship).

Butt Plant$24.99 including pot.  $14.99 without.  And you could instead go for a cheaper pot option.  Like this. Or this.  Sure these plants look like butts!  But they are unique… and you could have a whole butt army of them after the wedding. Plus its green to buy reusable flowers/plants.  I’m not sure if all Ikeas have these but they had them in Orlando.

Spidery PlantFor $6.99 a cheaper option and less buttish.

Watering PotSimplistic and pretty unique!  Only $1.99!  Put punch in here or an orchid.  Ikea sells orchids for $12.99.  Perfect for an outside/classic white wedding.

VasesInterlocking vases for $1.99 each.  Not sure if it comes in a three pack for that… if not then its $6 for the set.  Still affordable and pretty.  Get six and they form a nifty circle.  Or if you and your hubby have curvy initials (C, S, J…) you could spell them out in vases.  Fill it with candy or flowers or sand.  Comes in pink shades!  I could probably show a million cute vases by Ikea… but I instead encourage you to look around their site.

Sand ColorColored sand/rocks for $1.99.  I suspect you can do this cheaper, if not with white sand and dye.  But if you aren’t so DIY this means in one trip you could get the vase, sand and candles all in one fell swoop.

Alternatives

No Ikea near you?  These options can be awesome…  Just go to their home decor section.  Probably won’t be as “one stop shop”ish though.

  • T.J. Maxx – got me some awesome beachy reeds here on the cheap.
  • Bed, Bath & Beyond – They always have coupons and they always honor them even if they are expired.
  • Bealls – Florida only.
  • Goodwill – Help out a charity and if you are lucky find a good selection.  This takes more scrounging but especially if you are looking for a mismatched bohemian style this might be the perfect option for you.
  • Target – I’ll refrain from suggesting Walmart as well… But there are some fun cheap options at both of these places.

So happy shopping!

Breathe Deep Seek Deals – S

P.S.  While you are at it buy a box to organize/hold your wedding DIY stuff.  Stress Level–.  Get a set of two and use it as well to separate what you need for the ceremony and what you need for the reception.