Grad School Update

September 8, 2010 at 7:55 pm (Grad School)

Hello to all my friends and followers.  I apologize for not having posted throughout the summer.  Life is seems has gotten in the way.  I know I know, but honestly when one is as busy as I seem to be I really cannot be angry with myself for not posting.  You see I work for a recreation district, which basically means that for me summer is just like September for teachers.. but it lasts for 3 months.  Life turns crazy and I’m surrounded by kids all day long.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but the hours are long and sometimes I feel like I don’t have time to breathe.

I would like to take this opportunity to update you all throughout my grad school application process.  As some of you know I am currently in the process of applying to grad school for Physical Therapy.  If all goes according to plan I will be admitted for admission to a university in August of 2011 and will graduate 3 years later with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy.  This process has been nothing less than absolutely crazy.

So, on top of working 60 hours per week I am also spending every spare moment in a PT clinic getting observation hours so I can apply and hopefully get into school.  I’m also taking a few online classes (my newest which started this week is Statistics… ugh) and filling out applications and essays.  I know right? And you wonder why I haven’t written.

This has definitely been a process, BUT I think as things start to wind down that I might actually be able to hit that lovely and wonderful submit button sometime this week and from there the process is entirely out of my hands… until I get called back for interviews that is.  And what a relief it will be to finally have things be out of my hands.  So, here is a little note to distract myself from editing my essay.  Alas I must return, but look for my blog posts coming soon… hopefully.

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Revelation #1 Finding the fun in danger…

June 11, 2010 at 9:12 pm (Life Experiences and Revelations) (, , , , , , , )

Revelation:  Archery Golf may well be the greatest sport on the planet! Flu-flu arrows are amazing!

Sometimes you have good weeks, sometimes not so good, and sometimes they can be downright AWFUL! I realized I was having a downright awful week this week on Tuesday.  At 25 years of age I work full-time (which I am so grateful for in this economy) for a local recreation department.  It is by far hands down what I consider to be the greatest job in the world for me even if the hours are insane.  I get to plan youth programs out of my office and I love that I get to see the kiddos for a limited amount of time, then send them home with someone else.  My co-workers and I joke that it’s the best birth control on the planet, which is true if not slightly off topic.  The point is that we were in the peak of summer.  It was our first full week with school out and kids in mass quantities.  This would be a chaotic situation under any circumstances.  Add to that the fact that I had a staff member get called in for jury duty, lifeguards who at the ripe old age of 16 that don’t yet have a work ethic, and it was fairly clear by Tuesday that I was having an awful terrible week.  And it didn’t get any better as time went on.

So imagine how glad I was when this week suddenly turned into a 4 day work week (actually a 6 day work week, but who’s counting) Today, per my supervisor’s instruction, I got paid to go get certified to teach basic archery.  Now, let it be said that even though I’m a Colorado mountain girl heart and soul, hunting is not and never will be my thing.  I can’t do it.  I don’t even like the sight of guns.  I have nothing against it, that’s just me.  So, you can imagine my hesitation knowing that not only would I be learning how to fling potentially deadly flying projectiles at a target, but would then be required to teach it to children.  A bit melodramatic perhaps, but hey I was having a bad week.  Cut me some slack.

Let me tell you, it was incredibly fun! I now understand why people love archery.  Not that there wasn’t a ton of learning and teaching moments involved, but really archery is a great time.  We got to play all types of target games and even a round of archery golf.  We all decided it was our favorite far and away.  Did you know that flu-flu is a technique term for a special type of arrow used in archery golf?  I’m sure you can imagine the fun we had with that one.  Sure there are rules and regulations to follow, but it is well worth it.

Now, to the teaching aspect.  While it’s true that this is a wonderful sport, I confess I’m still hesitant about teaching it.  I feel like supervising children while using sharp pointy object flying at high velocities is a huge responsibility.  It makes me quite nervous to tell you the truth.  We had a teaching time, and although not nearly as fun… I can say I learned a lot! Here’s hoping none of my kiddos get any type of puncture wound in the future.  Until then, I would be perfectly content hanging with some pals, drinking a beer, and walking the course playing some archery golf.  There can be no better sport!

Quote of the Day:  “I’ll send my flu-flu flying after you” an archer’s substitute for “I’m gonna pop a cap in your ass”

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‘The End’ of ‘LOST’ one week later…

May 30, 2010 at 9:27 pm (Books/Movies/Television) (, , , , , , , , , )

It’s been a full week since most of us have seen the controversial final episode of LOST.  That means we have all had a week to process the meaning of ‘The End’, a week to put it into greater perspective, and yes a full week to analyze every minute detail and how it applies to the entire series.  So after a week of processing, here are my thoughts…

Firstly, let’s discuss the final scene ABC (not Damon and Carlton) added at the end of the episode.  That final scene of the plane wreckage although with the best of intentions basically discredited everything Christian Shepard was saying in the end.  That scene of the wreckage during the credits lead us to believe (myself included) everyone died during the plane crash.  ABC was right to come forward informing us it was not the choice of the writers to place it in the episode.  I appreciate them setting the record straight.  Now I can better take the words of Christian Shepard as fact, meaning that the activities of the island really did take place.

Now, with regard to the episode itself. I have stated that I think this was the perfect ending to a great series.  It was extremely character based, which I think was very important.  We get closure for almost all the characters we as viewers have come to know and love.  I laughed, I cried, I smiled.  I was especially touched by the Charlie/Claire/Kate/Aaron scene. The reunion between Sawyer and Juliet was also spectacular.  It was fantastic to see Locke and Ben together again as Locke and not the Man in Black.  When Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn are in a scene it’s impossible to take your eyes away.  And Jack’s final revelations both on the island and during the flash sideways were in a word, perfection.  I didn’t feel that way immediately after viewing the episode, but after some thought and consideration I have changed my mind.  How appropriate that Jack’s journey should end in the same place it began, just past the bambo, with the shoe still in tree and Vincent by his side.  Live Together Die Alone.

For those of you upset about so many unanswered questions, I have this to say.  Now, knowing that this was truly Jack’s story all along, we don’t have to have all the answers.  Jack died not knowing how Aaron was special, without any further knowledge regarding the island or it’s mysteries, without knowing Man in Black’s name.  We will all have unanswered questions upon our death, the same is true for Jack.  He did know what was important.  He died with the knowledge that Kate and Sawyer made it off the island, knowing the island was in the hands of a good man, that Desmond had the opportunity to make it back to Penny and Charlie.

Now, that being said, I am just as curious regarding some of the questions and answers as the rest of you.  In fact, knowing what I know now regarding ‘The End’ of the series I have some criticisms regarding the final 2 seasons.  First, was there really a purpose to having our Losties travel back to 1974?  We were led to believe that detonating Jughead, the H-bomb created the Flash sideways.  We now know this was not true.  All the bomb did was bring our Losties back to present day.  How anyone could physically withstand that type of blast is beyond me, so I really don’t see the point unless it was to kill off a few characters and maybe give us a bit more insight into the Dhrama Initiative, and provide Locke with a way to get the Oceanic 5 (no Aaron, but plus Ben) to return to the island.

I also have issues with the beginning of Season 6.  I understand the off island stuff and why we needed to see that, but all the stuff with Alana, the temple, and Dogen could have been skipped.  I think they could have used this time to better develop the stories that were relavent.  I still would have liked to seen more about the relationship regarding Jacob and the Man in Black.  Perhaps see the stories of past candidates.  Also I wanted more information regarding the origin of the numbers.  If Jacob knew it would be down to those final numbers all along, why the need to bring the other candidates to the island.  I think those numbers have more significance than revealed.  Sure, they’re candidate numbers, but they are also Hurley’s winning lottery numbers, the numbers entered into the hatch and they continually appear throughout the series.  And yes they brought those specific candidates to the island, but they brought other numbers as well like Claire, Charlie, Kate, and many others.  I’m not saying we have to have all the answers, but I think the time could have been used to better that part of the story.  I was personally let down by ‘What they died for’ not the episode itself, but the answer to the question left me wanting.

Maybe that is part of the reason the writers decided not to answer everything.  When answers have been given people generally are disappointed by them.  So, after a week to think about it all, I will go on record as saying the finale was amazing, fantastic, and fulfilling.  It was brilliant.  I don’t need all the answers, but I think the writers could have used the time they did have to develop certain storylines more thoroughly and disregard others.  The reason we as the audience allowed some of these gaps to occur is because we did not have all the answers and had no way of knowing what was and was not of great import.  Regardless the writers did take us on a great ride that we will be talking about for years to come, and for that I say “Thank You” and “Namaste”

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The Great Debate

May 25, 2010 at 11:46 am (Books/Movies/Television) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Will or won’t Harry Potter die in Book 7? Will Bella choose Team Edward or Team Jacob? In a literary world filled with controversy and debate, it’s the next big thing.  The question on everyone’s mind, sweeping through the YA reader community.  It’s brought to you straight from Suzanne Collins’ fabulous series The Hunger Games Trilogy.  That question? Peeta or Gale?

*!Spoiler Alert!*… Contains spoilers for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, but speculation only for Mockingjay… consider yourself warned.

The+Hunger+Games.jpg (266×400) booknewshungergames2new.jpg (150×227) MockingjayUS.jpg image by chosenbuffy100

Initially, I must beg your forgiveness for my lack of preparedness in referencing passages from The Hunger Games.  My copy is currently in Sweden with a friend who is traipsing around Europe for the next few weeks.  He assures me it is in excellent hands and will be returned unharmed.  I do however have my copy of Catching Fire nearby for reference. Also I will try my very best to keep my own biases out of it, but if they happen to shine through, I apologize.

I frequent a wonderful website for book lovers which I highly recommend.  http://www.goodreads.com/ On this site (along with many others I am sure) there is constant discussion about The Hunger Games series.  But amidst the speculation regarding the elusive District 13, Katniss’s and Gale’s fathers really being dead, President Snow’s breath smelling of blood, Cinna being beaten to a bloody pulp, and what I can only describe as a one of the greatest cliffhangers I have recently experienced, we all seem to be coming back to one topic.  Should Katniss chose Peeta or Gale?

So… The ‘Boy with the Bread’ or the ‘Man with the Meat’?  Although very different in personality and appearance, these two seem to have similar goals, making the choice that much more difficult.  Both have been in love with Katniss for a long while, are willing to make sacrifices for her, have been oppressed by the Capitol, like the idea of District rebellion and uprising, and have saved Katniss’s life on more than one occasion.  And I truly think both would walk away to make room for the other if they felt it was what Katniss really wanted.  They are constant and loyal.  Big picture, both are excellent choices.  So, to answer the question, one must look not at each character as an individual, but the relationship Katniss shares with each of them.

When first we enter the world of District 12 and Panem, the relationship between Katniss and Gale is already established.  We don’t hear much about it because Katniss, as the narrator, already knows the story of this relationship.  This means we as readers have to work a little harder to get the specifics, but if you’re paying attention it’s there.  Gale is her best friend, companion, hunting partner, and secret keeper.  She has no need to analyze their relationship because to her Gale is a constant, he is always there and she trusts him completely, which does not come easily to Katniss.  What Katniss fails to recognize is the fact that Gale is already in love with her.  Carb lovers disagree? Re-read the morning of the Reaping while Gale and Katniss are hunting (again sorry for not having page numbers).  It is my opinion that Gale was attempting to gauge Katniss’s feelings for him that morning when he was talking about them running and living in the woods. She wasn’t ready to hear it then, and as fate would have it, all hell broke loose that afternoon at the Reaping once Prim’s name was picked.

We don’t hear much from Gale after that.  Our narrator is whisked away to the Capitol for a winner take all blood bath.  We see more of Cousin Gale after the games, but he’s distant, makes his true feelings known by kissing her, then is distant again (ah… teenage angst).  There is more confusion, a victory tour, talk of running away, a new Peacekeeper in town, talk of rebellion, oh and Katniss and Peeta, surprise…you’re going back into the arena.  At this point Katniss has pretty much given up hope of ever seeing Gale again, so she tries to put him out of her mind, but who should show up to pull Katniss from her depressive state at the conclusion of Catching Fire… her constant, her secret keeper, her friend, Gale.  This tells us he’s not entirely out of the picture after all.

Which brings us to Peeta, when we first meet Peeta he comes across as shy, unassuming, and bothersome to Katniss, although we do not yet know why.  However, as time passes and we get to know Peeta a bit better, we see that there is more than meets the eye regarding Peeta Mellark.  He fell in love with Katniss from day one.  He is the appropriately named ‘Boy with the Bread’.  Regardless of Peeta’s intention, that bread was more than simply bread to Katniss.  It gave her hope, it gave her a reason to go home, to live.  He gave her life.  For this reason Katniss feels she is indebted to Peeta Mellark, and she doesn’t like owing anyone anything.

Fast forward to the Reaping and it is the next time Katniss and Peeta actually interact.  Why have they waited so long?  I think there are a few reasons.  Peeta really is shy.  Surely we can all remember what it’s like to be a teenager with a crush and what it’s like to be around the object of your affections.  He makes Katniss uncomfortable because of the day with the bread.  Also, there is the issue of class difference to be addressed when it comes to Katniss and Peeta.  They grew up in very different social settings.  Things like that may not be important in the arena, but remember, the Capitol purposely exploited the class differences within the districts to promote division, so before their trip to the games it was truly an issue.

After the Reaping we see Peeta being genuinely friendly, encouraging Katniss, and he seems to be on her side.  The trouble here is that because of their situation Katniss is constantly guessing his motives.  Add the fact that they have been ordered to pretend to be friends/lovers and you see why Katniss would react this way.  She cannot see that Peeta really is as good, caring, constant as he seems or can he?  Either way it doesn’t matter because soon one or both of them will be dead.  But, thanks to some quick thinking on Katniss’s part that is not the case at all.

On the train ride back to District 12 Katniss finally comes clean, tells Peeta the truth and he is devastated. Still constant and true Peeta agrees to keep up pretenses for the cameras.  At this point we are certain of a few things 1) Peeta was telling the truth about loving Katniss 2) After everything he still places Katniss ahead of himself and 3) He might be the most sacrificial person in existence.  During the victory tour and throughout Catching Fire Peeta acts just as we, the reader, expect him to, always putting others before himself.  He is loyal and true.  Always trying to protect Katniss in and out of the arena.

But in the year that has passed since the initial Hunger Games, the relationship between Katniss and Peeta has changed as well.  They are and will always be a part of the other’s lives.  Katniss genuinely cares for Peeta and sees that he was never acting at all, which makes her feel worse.  She relies on him.  A shared intense experience like being in the arena creates a bond between them.  The simple fact is that no one else will ever know what it was like to be in that specific arena besides Peeta and Katniss.  It’s not something either of them can explain, nor would they ever want to.  Katniss knows Peeta is the only one who can keep the dreams away, and she let’s him. She finally starts trusting him and opening up.

Katniss also feels trapped with Peeta.  Because of the pretenses for the Capitol viewers there is a real possibility that Katniss could be forced into a relationship she’s not sure she wants.  Because of this she instinctively rebels against it in a “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” type of way. Still, it’s not Peeta who she’s frustrated with, it’s the Capitol and President Snow.  She and Peeta actually have a good relationship, once you get past all the awkwardness.  It could be love, she just might not know it yet. We know Finnick was trying to figure it out, just like we all seem to be.

Personally, I think the Peeta/Gale debate exists because the readers have differing wants and needs.  Peeta is willing to give anything as long as it means Katniss’s happiness.  Gale, on the other hand, sees the bigger picture and has no problem letting her know there are bigger things out there than just them.  Neither is wrong. Both are great options.  Add to the mix the fact that Katniss has no idea what she actually wants and we have a huge debate on our hands.

Regardless of Katniss’s fate, with no advanced reader copies available we will all have to wait until August 24th, 2010 for the release of Mockingjay, Collins’ 3rd and final installment of the series, to find out.  Until then happy speculating and here’s a poll to tide you over.

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LOST Post Finale Analysis…

May 24, 2010 at 10:56 am (Books/Movies/Television) (, , , , , )

**FINALE SPOILER ALERT**

There is no question about it, LOST is more than a television show, it’s a full blown epic experience, a cultural phenomenon.  What kind of LOST fan or loyal blogger would I be if I didn’t give my final thoughts on the finale, and the series as a whole.

Personally, the appeal of LOST has always been the character study.  The island created this unique environment where people from all sorts of races, religions, creeds, and colors were forced to work together for survival.  Yes it’s true the island has a Black Smoke Monster, polar bears, a secret organization of people studying its weird magnetic/healing properties, and a man with too much eye liner that cannot age.  Oh, and let’s not forget that it can jump through both space and time.  But the appeal is the humanity.  We get to see an adventure of epic proportions as each Lostie confronts past demons.  We get to experience their darkest moments and greatest triumphs.

As a whole Season 1 was notably my favorite.  Life was easier.  Then it was about survival.  Will or won’t the rescue planes come? We got to take the time to get to know our characters and their backstories.  It was a fantastic meet and greet.  In some cases we got introduced to characters just to have them be taken away as we were starting to like them.  But once we got to know our Losties, there were far more powerful episodes.  The final few episodes of Season 3 stick out to me.  The Desmond/Penny saga combined with Charlie’s sacrificial and redemptive death left me with tear-streaked cheeks and a smile on my face.  Then, the now infamous “We’ve got to go back, Kate!”.

Not that the show didn’t have it’s rough patches.  I was never a fan of the tail section showing up in Season 2, though the Rose/Bernard storyline was sweet.  I’m still not sure why Kate and Sawyer were kept in cages by the Others and given what we know now about the flash sideways not being flash sideways at all I really don’t understand why our Losties needed to be transported to 1974 other than to keep the viewer guessing.  But I guess the show is like life.  Without the low points you would never get to the highs.

For the finale entitled “The End” our team of writers decided to focus more on our cast-aways themselves than answering all the what, why and wheres of the series.  We got all we were going to get throughout the final season, but the finale, “The End” was about people.  Characters we have come to know and love.  I think this was the right move.  I think I teared up about 3 times, and when Charlie and Claire found each other I just lost it.  The tears were flowing (I have a bit of a soft spot for Charlie).  I wasn’t a huge fan of Sayid and Shannon, but I can go with it.  The point is our characters found each other, and in doing that, they found the truth.  I was loving it, I was 100% full on board that this was the greatest finale in the history of television… until we see Christian Shepard.

Learning that the flash sideways wasn’t real was a big let down for me.  I get it, and I get the message, but still, I wanted more.  And an episode of Lost wouldn’t be a real episode if it didn’t leave me with a few questions.  Questions like, why didn’t Ben choose to go inside the church? What about those who weren’t in the church at the end?  Did they do something greater/different with their lives (Michael/Walt)? I think it was fitting that we don’t get to see what happens to the group that leaves the island on the Agira flight because we are living Jack’s story and he doesn’t get to find out himself, but I am interested in knowing in their fates.

As to the what, why, and where questions.  Yes, I’ve still got then.  I think we all do.  And yes, there are questions I wanted answered, but look what happened when we got the origin of Adam and Eve.  People were beyond upset about it.  One of the greatest aspects of this show is that it always keeps you guessing.  What a wonderful gift the writers have given us that the speculation can continue long after it’s over.

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I’ve got concert tickets!!!

May 23, 2010 at 11:49 am (Life Experiences and Revelations) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Just a quick post to let you all know that I’VE GOT SOMETHING CORPORATE CONCERT TICKETS!!!!

It’s official, as of August 21st, 2010 I should be able to cross something off my bucket list.  My favorite band in the world is having a reunion tour this August and I get to be there.  If you can imagine insane fangirl screams and jumping around with giddiness that is me, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  I’ve been waiting for this for years!

For those of you unfamiliar with Something Corporate (SoCo for short) here is a very brief version of events that transpired with the band.  They were this great up and coming band from Cali.  The lead singer and lead songwriter, Andrew McMahon, plays the piano so they were getting compared a lot to Ben Fold’s Five.  My opinion is that they are heavier on the guitar than BFF, but that’s for you to judge.  So through the years they do what most bands do, play college campuses, release a few albums, experience mild success and the college crowd loves them! Then, when they are on the brink of major breakthrough success and stardom Andrew decides he wants to do a “side project”.  There were also some internal band issues so I think the feeling was mutual, but the point is the band decided to take some time off.  Andrew goes off and the product of that “side project” is what is now known to the world as Jack’s Mannequin.  Add to the mix Andrew being diagnosed, treated, and in remission from cancer, another side project by Josh Partington, another SoCo band member and the success of JM and you have the past 5 years.  I have to admit I thought I would never in my life get the opportunity to see my favorite band perform a live show.

So imagine my surprise when as I am casually perusing the SoCo website I see that it’s changed! What’s more, it announced a special appearance at the Bamboozled festival in Anaheim.  It was promising.  I couldn’t make the trip to the Bamboozled festivals in Anaheim, Jersey, or Chicago and I thought well, I missed my chance.  I confess I watched the entire Anaheim show on youtube and it was AMAZING!

Then because I am on the mailing list I received an email this week telling me about a full scale tour!!! At this point there was nothing I could do.  It’s destiny! So today when tickets went on sale I got online and snatched up a couple for myself and a friend.  So, on August 21st in Salt Lake City, UT I will be able to mark “Seeing Something Corporate perform a concert live” off my list!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve followed Andrew through all the JM stuff. I own all their albums, but for me there is something so special about Something Corporate that JM will never be able to capture or replace.  It’s nights out with friends in college, falling in love for the first time, memories I didn’t even know I had until I heard a certain song.  Even though they haven’t had any new material in over 5 years (and just released a greatest hits album) I still frequently listen to them during my commute to and from work.  Andrew just has thousands of insights into my soul (and the music isn’t bad either), and I continue to be a SoCo fangirl (I’ll be a Punk Rock Princess if Andrew will be my Garage Band King!).

I also happen to prefer the music of SoCo to JM, but I’ll willingly take anything involving Andrew!

Give it a listen, and if you happen to be in the Salt Lake Area, I’ll be the screaming fangirl professing my undying love for all things Something Corporate!

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The Last LOST Adventure

May 22, 2010 at 8:47 pm (Books/Movies/Television) (, , , , , )

Will Kate finally die? Will the real Locke finally get his redemption? Will Richard finally be able to die? What is Man in Black’s real name? It’s a moment 6 years in the making. After all the theories, questions, plot twists, and love triangles, tomorrow night is the night all your questions will finally be answered. NOT!

Let’s get real for a second.  I love LOST as much as the next person, but if you think all your questions are going to be answered in 2.5 hours tomorrow night, you haven’t been paying attention.  I confess I haven’t spent the past 6 years discussing theories.  Instead, I’m a more recent addition to the Lost community.  I discovered the show about a year ago and have since been catching up on DVDs and streaming video.  It’s actually my preferred method of viewing a show like LOST with high ratings and far too many commercials.  But this final season has been a different experience for me. I have gotten to watch most of the episodes on television remaining spoiler-free (which in this day and age is an accomplishment in and of itself).

So tomorrow night, like so many of you once the east coast broadcast begins I will be removing myself from all forms of internet, twitter, facebook and the like.  And yes, I will be tuning in.  I have faith Damon and Carlton won’t let us down.  A show with so many twists and turns had to be well thought out and planned.  So in honor of the final episode tomorrow, here are a few predictions…

1) Some fans will absolutely HATE the way it ends.  A show like this has no other option.  There are so many theories floating around people are bound to be disappointed when it turns out they were in fact wrong!

2) Not all questions will be answered. Yep, I said it. It’s just not possible. If they answer some of the big ones I’ll be happy.  I don’t need to know silly little things like how spinning the wheel made the island move, but I would be disappointed if they didn’t tell me more details about the island itself and how it came to be.

3) There will be far too many commercials. ABC decided to extend the viewing time slot from 2 hours to 2.5.  I think it’s purely to be able to run more commercials.  I don’t blame the network execs.  It’s not often you have a phenomenon like this with guaranteed astronomical ratings.  I just hope it gives the viewer time to discuss and speculate, even down to wire making it a true LOST experience.

4) You’ll see lots of old faces.  My money is on lots of  cast members returning for the finally.  Personal favorites I’d like to see include Charlie, Penny, Faraday, and Boone. I think they all have an important role to play (except maybe Boone, but he’s just nice to look at).

5) We will still be speculating about the show for years to come.  Since not all questions will be answered people will still have their theories.  I personally can’t wait to watch Season 1 again knowing the ending.  I’m hoping for some great insights!

So, in the words of Jay and Jack from The Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack, “I invited you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!”  I know I will.

Namaste LOST Fans!

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June Creek Trail

May 18, 2010 at 10:58 pm (Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Sunday the sun finally decided to make a return and show it’s lovely face in my mountain homeland.  We all know what that means… it’s hiking season!! Since the sun gods decided to smile upon me, I went for a tried and true trail for my first hike of the season, June Creek Trail.

Chances are if you live in the Vail Valley and enjoy hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and generally being outside you have been on this trail.  Located in Singletree just near the Edwards exit this is truly a local’s trail.  It’s in a residential area, and you can access the trail via Singletree or Wildridge, depending on your location.  Parking is limited and the trailhead is a bit difficult to spot, but if you know what you’re looking for it shouldn’t be a problem.  When in doubt look for a number of cars parked alongside the road and you are probably at the trailhead.

Locals love this trail for many reasons

1) It’s quick and easy to access. This means you can still get in a decent hike or ride after work with minimal effort.  Added bonus is it’s close it home, so you don’t have to rush.

2) It’s dog friendly.  I frequently take my dog on this trail and she loves it.  It runs along a creek so your four-legged friends are easily able to cool off or get a drink when they are so inclined.

3) It offers variety. There are multiple options for interlocking trails, depending on your needs.  It also offers direct connections to other trails located in Wildridge, Singletree, and Berry Creek.  Changing up the route is a great plus.

4) Great views! Hikers have different preferences according to their goals.  I personally happen to be one of those individuals who loves “tree hikes”.  I want to feel surrounded by the forest.  This trail does not offer that, BUT if you take the time to turn around the trail offers spectacular views of the New York Mountain Range across I-70.  Also, as with most trails, the higher you go, the better the view.

5) It’s safe.  As far as hiking goes this one might be about as safe as it gets.  Yes, wildlife is present, but this trail sees a lot of traffic so it’s good for a work-out if you don’t have a buddy.  In fact, I frequently run into people I know while I’m out.  Another plus is the trail is very visible so there is little danger of accidentally wandering off trail.

If you are a destination hiker this trail may not be for you.  It’s not going to take you up to a lake, pond, or waterfall.  Because these trails are so interconnected it is literally possible to continue for hours on end without reaching a “destination”.  Perhaps that is why it sees more local traffic.

Regardless of if you happen to be a local or tourist, this trail does offer a great work-out with many friendly faces along the way.  If you would like more specific information regarding how to locate this trail, let me know and I will be happy to provide you with the information.  Also, photos coming soon.  Unfortunately I didn’t take my camera this time around.  Please forgive me, it will be remedied shortly.

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My GRE experience

May 16, 2010 at 1:03 am (Grad School) (, , , , , , , )

Disclaimer:  Today’s review is brought to you by my near death experience yesterday.

As many of you know, I’m a Colorado girl.  I live in the mountains, and I LOVE it! There are some  drawbacks to life on this side of the divide (although admittedly not many).  One of those drawbacks is that when you need to do anything that doesn’t require a kayak or snowboard, you have to go to a place that actually has these lovely amenities you happen to need (A.K.A. a city).  That means shopping, car maintenance, and most recently in my case, taking the dreaded Graduation Record Examination (GRE) all require an extended trip to the city.  If you aren’t familiar with the GRE it’s basically a SAT but for grad school.

I don’t know what I was expecting really, but the only thing I had for comparison was my SAT experience from (cough) 8 years ago.  At the ripe old age of 17 my SAT experience included giving up a Saturday of my life to go fill in a bunch of bubbles about who knows what while thousands of other adolescents across the country were doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time taking exactly the same test.  Let me tell you, times have changed.  Now at 25 not only is everything computer based, but you can pick and choose when and where you take the exam.  Also, there is a new writing section that was added to replace a different section I don’t remember anything about.

So, after a few not-so-intense study sessions I booked a time, took the day off work, got my butt out of bed and made the trek to Denver for my computer-based exam.  I have to say, I really prefer the computer based exam system.  Not only do you get to pick your time and location, but the test also adapts to your ability level.  This means you save time too!! Another great advantage to this method of test-taking is you get preliminary scores immediately following the exam, so no having to wait 4-6 weeks for results to be snail mailed to you.  Instead, you go and sit at a computer and all instructions are given to you over the screen.  The testing facility I used had a great atmosphere and I felt completely isolated in my little cubicle even though there had to be at least 20 other people in the same room taking a variety of tests.

For any of you who are considering beginning the journey that is grad school applications here are a few pointers where the GRE is concerned.

1) The computer thing is great, but it still takes about 4 hours.  You only get one 10 minute break so be prepared.  Eat, pee, wear comfortable clothing, and settle in because you’re going to be there for a while.

2) Take a practice test or two.  There are a ton of great resources out there and if you can get your hands on a computer based practice exam I would recommend doing that at least once, especially if you are my age or older and have never taken a computer based test.

3) Be prepared for the writing section to be first! This came as a total shock to me.  I went in there all prepared to click a few buttons and answer analogy questions, then go into the writing after the break.  This is not the case.  It threw me for a loop and took some of my precious essay time to re-organize my thoughts (although how anyone can be expected to write a decent essay in 45 minutes is beyond me).

4) Be as prepared as you plan to be.  I didn’t study a ton, but I’m glad I got in what little study time I did.  At $160.00 a pop you don’t want to have to take it more than once.

5) Don’t be camera shy. You will be recorded the entire time you are taking the exam, also attendants will be watching you from other cameras.  Best to acknowledge that they are there, and focus on the exam.

Overall I’d have it was a positive experience.  It’s nice to see technology being used for benefits like this.  I am pretty happy with my score, so barring epic failure in the writing portion I will probably not be taking the GRE again anytime soon (results are good for up to 5 years).  Hopefully this helps any of you out there that are thinking about grad school.  I’ll keep you posted throughout my application process.  More grad school adventures to follow!

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So much to say, so little time.

May 14, 2010 at 3:10 am (Uncategorized)

Hello World!

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, this is my very first blog post.  Why have I decided to start a blog you ask… well there are a few reasons.  I have been encouraged by a friend to start something like this so others can keep up with the ongoings in my life, and I admit I need to work on polishing my writing skills so this is good practice.  Also, I tend to get more than a little passionate about things I love be it podcasts, books, movies, hiking trails… you name it. I think this will provide me with a great outlet so that I won’t get nearly so frustrated when people around me don’t care about certain things nearly as much as I do.  I know there are others of you out there… I expect to see you coming out of the wordworks.

Also, even though I am only 25, I’m not the most technologically literate individual, so PLEASE bear with me as I learn the ropes.  It might be a process.  Thankfully wordpress seems pretty user friendly.  Also I LOVE feedback, so if you like or dislike something I’m blogging about, please let me know!

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