Monday, October 17, 2011

Las Vegas 2011, The Basics

(Ratings are out of 5 *'s)

New York New York Hotel and Casino:
Check-in- *****
Room- ****
View from the room- *****
Location of room in hotel- *****
Food options inside hotel/casino- ****
Location on Las Vegas Strip- ***

Gallagher's Steakhouse- ***

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville- ****

The Stratosphere Tower Observation Deck- ****

Riding The Deuce- *****

The Bodies Exhibition- ****

The Titanic Artifacts Exhibition- *****

The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay- *****

The Habitat at The Flamingo- ****

The Lion Habitat at MGM Grand- **

The Bellagio Fountain- *****

Visit to Gold and Silver Pawn Shop (Pawn Stars)- ****

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I think I've reached that age where sleep is more important than a lot of other things. I fell asleep during the last few minutes of The Black Hole... Not because I was bored, but because I was that tired. I would ponder whether I feel that old normally, but I'm too tired. Yawn. Good night.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Breastfeeding - My Thoughts and Opinions

Among women, especially those in their childbearing years, breastfeeding can be a very heated topic. Up until my oldest child was born, I hadn't thought I had much of an opinion on it. As it turns out, I do.

With my son, I had just assumed that I would breastfeed exclusively until I went back to work, then pump as needed after that. What actually happened is that I gave up on breastfeeding the day after we came home from the hospital, tried pumping for maybe 2 weeks, and after that went to formula. As it turns out, for physiological and psychological reasons, breastfeeding does not work for me. I am, by necessity, a full-time working-outside-the-home mom. I have limited waking hours with my kids (and for doing housework), and I feel my time is better spent taking care of my whole family and getting quality time with them, than going through the problems I have in breastfeeding and pumping.

I tried breastfeeding again with my daughter, and had the same problems as before. That time, I went to formula by the end of the first week. I plan on 1 more child, and I will be going straight to formula.

I can hear the die-hards telling me any breastfeeding problem can be overcome, that I gave up too soon or didn't try hard enough. That's fine, they are entitled to their opinion. The fact is, I did what was best for me and my family. I firmly believe that, and I will not be made to feel guilty by the die-hards.

I feel that every new mom (medical conditions aside), should at least try breastfeeding. They should be given coaching if wanted, rather than having it forced on them. No mom should be made to feel guilty who has at least tried to breastfeed, regardless of her reasons for switching to formula. Yes, I agree that breastmilk is best, but formula quality has come a long way, and there is no medical proof that formula feeding is, in any way, "child abuse."

I also feel that, while I support moms who choose to breastfeed in public, they need to keep themselves covered while doing so. Personally, I am uncomfortable with a woman exposing her breasts in public. (For any reason!)

Both of my children were exclusively formula-fed after the first 2 weeks, and I have yet to notice any ill effect. I also have no regrets.  I will continue to support moms in whatever decision they make, whatever their reasons, because let's face it- being a mom of an infant is hard enough without the fanatics breathing down your neck.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Confessions About Me, Part 1

1- Bad grammar drives me crazy. The worst one is "I seen" when it should be "I saw." I work with someone who is guilty of this on a daily basis, and I bite my lip every time because it would do no good to speak my mind.

2- I am a food addict. I love to eat, which is apparent by my figure. Sweets are the worst, especially ice cream. I've been known to eat half a container of mint chocolate chip without realizing what I'm doing.

3- I pretend to not care what people think of me, but I really do. I hate thinking that people might not like me, and then trying to figure out why. I'm incredibly insecure.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why I Don't Like Most Women

Ahh, women. Being one, you'd think I would understand them a little better than I do. The truth is that most women are as mysterious to me as they are to men.

Women complan frequently, for one thing. I hate listening to it. I accept that it happens, but I do not accept that it must be a part of daily life.

Women are clique-ish, no matter what their age. I'll admit I'm different, but I may as well have the bubonic plague for how hard I find it to make friends with a group of women.

Women are unreasonably and unfairly judgemental. I have been the victim of this throughout my life. I try not to be this way myself, believe me, but biology still finds a way.

Women scrapbook. A minor thing, I know, but I just don't get why you can't just put photos in a album and caption them with the date, who's in it, and a brief explanation. Being an LDS woman in Utah, I'm sure it's worse here, in this community and culture.

Women are high-maintenance. More so than men, anyway. I'll never understand why hair coloring and manicures and 10 colors of shoes are so important to some women. I don't color my hair, I've had 2 manicures in my entire life, and my shoes are either black or white. I use one purse at a time, which must be cross-body style. 

Women watch movies that make me gag. It's not like I don't enjoy the ocassional romantic comedy, but I also enjoy James Bond and Monty Python. I actually am proud of not falling into the Twilight trend. Very proud, in fact.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Thoughts On The Effects of Materialism

Materialism is one of the things that will eventually destroy the world. People think that more stuff equals more happiness, and as this continues, people will get further and further into debt trying to find what they've been told is "happiness." No one ever seems to stop and examine the big picture: are they happier with all this excess stuff?

Not that I'm pointing fingers an individual people. It's in the marketing. Materialism starts with the companies who make you feel like you have to have more stuff. Nicer cars, trendy clothes, a quesadilla maker or a 52-inch television... are these things really necessary for a happy life? Nah.

Imagine for a moment living a less materialistic life. Buying store brands, and only of things you actually need. Acomplishing tasks through your own creativity and effort, rather than having some gadget do most of the work for you. Borrowing books from the library instead of buying them. Entertaining yourself without television, mp3 players, mobile phones, or the internet. To me, it sounds like a more satisfying way to live. We've all become addicted to instant gratification, but it's a temporary thing.

I will freely admit that I am guilty of materialism. I am writing this blog post from my android phone, and I have a store-bought paperback novel in my purse. I keep thinking about it, though, and I find myself taking small steps toward being less materialistic. I like to think of the process as trying to achieve a zen-like state with my posessions. Next step: going through my closet.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weight Loss, Part 1 - No Excuses

Here's the basics-

I am a 31 year old woman, 5' 4" tall, and I weigh 204 pounds.

I have a few excuses for being overweight, but not good ones. I have 2 kids, the 2nd is 8 months old and was delivered by ceasarian. I have knee and ankle problems, mostly stemming from the 7 years I spent doing community and high school musical theater. I am extremely well-endowed in the chest region, limiting my choices for cardio exercise. I'm also on hormonal birth-control, which causes, among other things, a bigger than normal appetite.

All that said, I still have no good excuse for being overweight. Well, technically, probably obese. I've half-heartedly trying to diet for a long time, and I have of course made very little progress.

That's why I'll be including my weight-loss adventures in my blog. I will be accountable to anyone who might read my blog. I find that to be good motivation, personally.

My ultimate goal is 140#. My first intermediate goal is 200#, and I intend to reach it by Wednesday, April 20.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Traveler Vs. Tourist

I've spent some time lately thinking about this topic, and. I am relieved to find that I am more traveler than tourist. I don't like the idea of being herded around like sheep, being given a schedule I have to stick to. I love the idea of going on a road trip where there is no set destination or route. For someone who is easily distracted, this sounds like heaven.

Unfortunately, I can't afford to travel like I want to. Any money I save for this purpose ultimately ends up going toward something else. (With husband, 2 kids, dog, mortgage, car, etc, I suppose it's bound to happen, huh?) I would love to be one of those people who can travel with virtually no money, but I'm not. I'm just high maintenance enough that I need a hot shower every day, and a reliable meal 3 times a day.

I still can't help obsessing about it. I had a little spending money and spent it on travel size toiletries. I make packing lists constantly, often for hypothetical trips. I peruse travel memoirs, travel blogs, and atlases with gusto. Yup, I'm obsessed.

Next trip? Sadly it's merely a family reunion for my mother-in-law's family. Boring. Still, it's something.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yes, There IS Something Fun To Do In Utah

Ok, so there isn't a big nightlife scene. So what? Unless you have absolutely no sense of adventure, you should be able to find something to do.

First of all, yes there are Mormons here, and no, they don't run everything. If you're so inclined, you can find smoke shops, bars, coffee shops, and the like. There are stores to be found that are open on Sundays.

The Salt Lake Film Society shows a lot of independant and foreign films at two locations. The Broadway Center Theater is the perfect venue for these films, and has concessions you won't find at a standard cineplex, like gourmet chocolate and a variety of coffee drinks. They also show some Sundance Festival films, which is how I met Steve Buscemi. (Too bad I can't find that picture.) The Tower Theater is a single screen bohemian paradise. The lobby hosts movies for rent (on VHS, of course) from every concievable nationality and almost every genre. Next door you'll find a coffee shop and a gay adult novelty store.

If you're into cultural events, we have the Utah Opera, the Utah
Symphony, Ballet West, Rire-Woodbury Dance Company, and various arts festivals in warmer weather. If you want family fun, we have Lagoon (amusement park), various
water parks, the Hogle Zoo, The Livng Planet Aquarium, Clark Plantarium, and the Natural History Museum.

The main activity in Utah, though, is anything outdoors. Virtually any outdoorsy thing you might be into, you can find here. Camping, hiking, rafting, kayaking, hunting, fishing, boating, four-wheeling, snowmobiling, rock climbing, and of course skiing and snowboarding... just to name a few. My favorite is camping, and I've done a lot of it in Utah throughout my lifetime. There are hundreds of campsite options, including one I took advantage of a year and a half ago: primitave camping, no fee, no reservation, not even a dedicated site. While it's safe to say this style is best left to more experienced campers, I still had a good time, and learned a lot.

My point is this: don't dismiss the opportunity to try somethng new, and try, to quote the Utah tourism commercial, "Life elevated."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day - More Stress Than It's Worth?

Valentine's Day comes with sometimes unreasonably high expectations. The big question: is it worth it? Let's examine the situation, shall we?

First of all, no matter what way you look at it, the burden seems to fall mostly on men. They are expected to go through the stress of picking out the right flowers, chocolates, jewelery, greeting cards, restaurant for dinner, etc, and what do women have to contribute? Show up and look nice, and maybe arrange for the babysitter. I'm a woman, I'm not denying that it can take a lot of effort to get yourself looking "Valentine's Day Date" good, but ladies, lets admit it: we enjoy the process. Men, on the other hand, as a group tend to hate shopping, and despite how much they think they pay attention, when they're standing in front of a buffet of greeting cards or gold necklaces, they have no clue where to start, and are not entirely sure of what their lady likes. When the moment arrives to present the gift or take her to dinner or whatever else is planned, there is the worry that she won't appreciate all the effort
he went to.

A woman, on the other hand, may decide making a romantic dinner is the way to go, and may go for it even when her cooking skills are (like mine) mediocre at best. There's the stress of the nice table settings and just the right meal and making sure it turns out well. Then their guy sits down to eat it and forgets to compliment her efforts, she swears she'll never go to that kind of effort ever again. (Which she does anyway, of course.)

For those who celebrate February 14 as Singles Awareness Day, you have to endure the overwhelming onslaught of marketing. Aisles of holiday items at every store, tv and radio ads for jewelery, flowers, chocolates... it's enough to make you want to lock yourself in your bedroom with anti-romance movies until it's all over.

So is it worth it? My opinion is this: if you sell greeting cards, chocolate, lingeire, flowers, or other V-day items, yes. Otherwise, no. It's too stressful, too expensive, and it's not really necessary.

This is a generalization, though. I'm sure there are a few people out there who love this holiday. I've never met any, but...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Travel Bucket List

The Alhambra, Spain -
Thank you to Loreena McKennitt for intoducing me to its existance. I had never heard of it until I bought her album of the concert she did there. I googled the word, and the rest is history. I have looked up countless pictures on the internet, read up on its history on Wikipedia, and I am addicted - I know I have to see it someday. I will go alone if I have to, but I will see it. It's the Muslim/Christian archetecture that fascinates me, I think. And hey, while I'm in Spain, I'll take a jaunt north to the Basque region.

The Grand Canyon, U.S.A. -
It's pretty pathetic that I live in Utah and have never been to the Grand Canyon. It's on my bucket list more because I feel like I should than because I really want to. I'm sure it's quite the spectacle, and I don't doubt that it would be worth my time, but there are other destinations that I am far more interested in.

The British Isles -
Charles Dickens, Harry Potter, Stonehenge, the Blarney Stone... I can't begin to list all the things tha fascinate and excite me about Britain and Ireland. I want to celebrate Christmas in true Dickens style, I want to ride a bicycle down an Irish country road, past stone walls and sheep herders, I want to see the home of Shakespeare, and thanks to Gilbert and Sullivan, I want to see Wales (I'm learning Welsh), I want to see Edinburgh Castle, I even want to see Penzance. Some days it seems there is more culture, more history, more excitement, more mystery packed into these two islands than into the whole of the United States. Plus my husband is 10 times more interested than I am, so I know I won't have to twist his arm to get him to go with me.

Greece - Ever since the first time I picked up a book on Greek Mythology, I have wanted to see its birthplace. Something about the crumbling walls of an ancient city captures my imagination, not to menion the whitewashed walls of cities that climb the hillside, and the vivid blue of the Mediterranean sea. There is a risk I run in visiting Greece, though - never wanting to return.

Places I've already been that I have to go back to:

New York City
Portland, Oregon
Chicago (Go Cubs!!)
San Francisco (CA)
San Diego (CA)
Santa Monica (CA)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Oscars Are Not A Popularity Contest

Ahhh, the Oscars. It seems like once the nominees are announced, the complaints start.

"I've never heard of most/any of these movies!"

"Why don't they ever nominate movies people actually watch?"

If you find yourself saying this, ponder the following question: how much do you know about the Nobel Prize, or Pulitzer Prize? Probably no more than I do, which is virtually nothing.

Here's the deal: the Oscars are given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In essence, this means that the Oscars are for achievements in exactly that: motion picture arts and sciences. The Oscars are NOT a popularity contest the way the People's Choice Awards and MTV Movie Awards are. If all you want from your movies is entertainment, stick with those awards shows.

Now, yes, it is true that popular movies are also sometimes nominated for Oscars. "Titanic" is a good example of that, so are "Avatar" and "Star Wars: Episode IV." Unfortunately this seems to lead people to believe that other movies they like should have been nominated, like "40 Year Old Virgin" or "Letters From Juliet." There's nothing wrong with these movies, they just don't have the kind superior achievents in artistic and/or scientific fields that the Academy is going to honor as being outstanding.

Oh, I can hear it now: "Scientific? In movies?"

Uh, YES. Do you like 3D movies? Cool special effects? Digital sound? CG so good that it looks like real life? Those are all scientific applications in the movie business, and they deserve recognition.
They are the backbone of the film industry.


Of course! Not in just the obvious ways, either. Screenplays require extensive work to produce a memorable and well-executed story. Editors spend endless hours piecing different shots together to create just the right effect.

I like my movies to be entertaining, but I also like them to be of high quality film-making in every aspect. I like them to make me think. I like them to inspire me, and I'm sorry, but movies like "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" don't.

I have nothing against people who just want their movies to be entertaining. There are plenty of that kind of movie out there. Just please do me the courtesy of not complaining about your cookie-cutter movie not getting nominated for an Oscar when you are a "People's Choice" kind of person anyway.