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The Bold Type

Date Tue, August 15 2017

The Bold Type is a new show on Freeform (formerly ABC family) about three women in their 20s who work at a fashion magazine known as Scarlet: Jane (new journalist), Sutton (aspiring fashion designer currently working as an assistant) and Kat (social media maven). The three women form a fierce friendship in NYW as they navigate work, social media, dating and feminism.

Sound familiar? Well, sort of. I mean, it’s easy enough to compare The Bold Type to any TV show starring a few lady friends. But it’s been a while since we’ve had one of those or, at the very least, since I tuned in. But 2017 is a different year. Sometimes it feels like a different world.

But 2017 is a different year. Sometimes it feels like a different world. People own their feminism loudly as Kat does in this show. Women are strong and know that sometimes the world is sexist and unfair and they have to play by a man’s rules even if it’s unfair. This is perfectly exemplified by the strong material character who is the owner of Scarlet. At times, their boss Jaqueline seems like a mentor similar to Kat Grant in Supergirl.

The Bold Type isn’t just feminist because it features multiple women: it screams it. And I like that.

Of course, not everyone will. Some people will just want to run in for the fashion, the steamy sex scenes and the gossip. You’ll find all of this in The Bold Type, but the script has been updated since shows like Sex and the City, which was more faux-menism than feminism at times.

The Bold Type isn’t perfect, either. It’s unrealistic, and I frequently find myself feeling frustrating toward the characters who at once seem naive and entitled and more fortunate than anyone I’ve ever met in real life. As you’d expect, they’re all thin and beautiful. But while The Bold Type might not look like it’s breaking ground on the outside, watching for a few moments highlights something deeper and more purposeful. The Bold Type seems to be created with an intent that you cannot deny.

I mentioned Supergirl as another show that has feminist leanings. The analogy comes easily because characters in both shows work at a magazine. The Bold Type does more to touch on how magazines are affected by the digital age while Supergirl seems to have a more diverse cast overall (so far we’ve seen a queer POC and a lesbian Muslim in this show, and there’s room to expand). The Bold Type has more sex and fewer superheroes but that’s to be expected.

This new show reminds me of another dramedy that I once enjoyed: Ugly Betty. Of course, The Bold Type makes no attempt to hide how attractive — and perhaps unrealistic — the main characters are. Ugly Betty also has more soap opera-esque elements while The Bold Type remains a bit more realistic. And I hope it continues to be a show that portrays fantasy as plausible rather than a fantastic reality that could never exist.

I can’t imagine that The Bold Type would attract many (straight) male viewers. Some of them might even object. The show has already talked about the very real issues of doxxing, sexism in the tech industry, anti-Muslim sentiment, just to name a few. Although few of these subjects get as much attention as I think they deserve, I am glad that The Bold Type discusses them at all.

If you don’t have Freeform, you can watch The Bold Type on Hulu, which I have been doing.

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WordBrain 2

Date Fri, August 11 2017

Recently, I’ve taken to playing a few word games on my phone. The first was a sponsored ad on Facebook, but I quickly grew tired of the monotonous game play and frequent ads. The dictionary was also limited, which means I was sometimes smarter than the app.

Still, it reignited an interest. I’m a bit of a wordy person. Most bloggers are, heh. But I wasn’t quite looking for a social game. I’ve played the back-and-forth games. You always wind up waiting on someone or being the person that someone is waiting on, and it gets monotonous. I just want something that I can log into when I want but that won’t be boring because it lacks social features.

Enter WordBrain. This game does a few things differently. For starters, you’re not just looking for words. Instead, you’re looking for words related to a theme, which is both helpful and challenging.

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Each game consists of a grid. Using each letter once, you find between two and four words related to the theme. Another element that adds to the challenge is that order matters. When you remove a word, letter tiles fall downward, meaning that you can only find some words after you find the words that come first.

There are five levels per each theme. As you find words, you unlock hints or the ability to spin for hints. I find that I’m able to play for a good chunk of time before i’ve used up all the hints and need to put the game down to recharge. It’s a good balance for me.

I’ve progressed over 20% through the game at this point. The grid size increases with each set of words, so you may have to find more words or those that are longer.

Eventually, I’ll reach the end, but WordBrain has a pace that I find quite enjoyable, so I imagine this game will be fun until I finish it.

Get WordBrain 2 from Google Play and Amazon.

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Lush Lip Scrub – Popcorn

Date Tue, August 8 2017

Y’all know Lush right? The luxury bath and beauty store?That makes handmade cosmetics? That happen to be natural? Of course, you do!

Now, I’ve been aware of Lush for a while, but I just bought my first Lush product last month. I currently don’t have a bathtub, so a lot of their products aren’t things I can use now. And while I don’t mind the premium price, I’m only going to pay it if I know I’m going to get use out of it.

And if I’m being honest — and I always am — Lush products don’t tend to tickle my nose. They’re a little strong or too floral. So I’ve been in stores a few times but usually leave empty-handed. Not this time, though!

lush lip scrub popcornLush’s lip scrubs come in little pots, and they’re about $11 each. I’ve been keeping an eye out for a lip scrub for a while, but I hadn’t purchased any because many of them use mint as a cooling/tingling/scent/flavor agent. i am so not a fan of mint.

While Lush does make a lip scrub with mint (Mint Julips is the clever name), you’ll also find scents/flavors such as chocolate, bubblegum, and honey. The latter is the other option that I was considering. I wasn’t sure if the sweet and salty combination of popcorn was up my alley. But I decided to give it a go. And I’m glad I did!

I’ve used body scrubs in the past that have either sugar or salt as a base, but the lip scrub has both to achieve a flavor that’s a bit more like kettle corn than your typical butter-covered movie variety popcorn. Compared to body scrubs, this scrub for lips is much dryer. You can’t see an oil or cream base at all (although, it does contain both jojoba oil and extra virgin coconut oil). It’s just damp enough to stick to your finger when you place it in.

i think my favorite aspect of this lip scrub is that you don’t rinse it off. You just lick if off when you’re done. So it’s tasty and.. sort of fun? I’ve always wondered what you’re supposed to do with lip scrub when you use them — you just rinse off body scrubs. Lush has solved that problem by making a lip scrub that’s edible. Clean up is a breeze.. even if it can be a little messy.

After using this lip scrub, the sweetness stays on my lips for a while.

I’ve used this a few times, and it feels pretty gentle. I haven’t had any reactions nor do my lips feel too sensitive after. They’re softer and smoother, though. If you’re looking for a super hydrating lip scrub, I’m not sure if this one is right for you, however. I still use chapstick after but they don’t feel dry after using it.

Check out the popcorn lip scrub from Lush if you’re interested.

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Date Thu, August 3 2017

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is only available for Nintendo’s newest console: the Switch. I’ll discuss this a bit later on. I won’t discuss the function of the system and controllers, however. They work well enough whether you play alone or with others, and I haven’t noticed any kinks with them. I’ll focus on the design and content of the game, instead.

As an owner of Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U, I am no stranger to the tracks that are new to some people. In fact, I think all of the tracks are those that I have played on my game. The only exception is that tracks from Animal Crossing and Zelda (as well as a few characters) that were DLC for Mario Kart 8 now come with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. This means you can choose the color of your Yoshi, play a Tanooki Mario or race around the track as Link without paying extra.

In fact, much of the games are the same. The number of tracks and grand prix, the ability to play online with one or two players, types of weapons/usable items, and kart customization are among the things that are practically identical. If you liked racing on Mario Kart 8, you’ll like the deluxe version.

What, then, makes it different?

The largest difference is battle mode. What was fun on previous versions of Mario Kart was tedious in Mario Kart 8, This is because of a lack of dedicated battle maps. Instead, players raced around regular tracks, often struggling to find one another to attack. Not only has Nintendo brought back battle-specific maps that feel very much inspired by our favorite maps of years past, but they have multiple battles modes. If you’ve ever played Mario Kart on the DS, you know how fun Shine Runners was, and there’s a similar mode with “shines” as well as another mode where you collect coins. You can still try to pop your friends’ balloons, or you can try your hand at cops-and-robbers style battle, which I found particularly fun,

None of this exists on Mario Kart 8, and unless Nintendo releases it as DLC (I’d be willing to pay to download it if it meant I didn’t have to buy a new system), you’ll be forced to upgrade game and console if you want to truly enjoy battle mode.

There are a few more perks of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe that might win you over, however. As far as I can tell, everything you unlock by collecting coins costs half as much as it does with the original game. This makes it much easier to attain different kart options. I’ve had Mario Kart 8 for years and still haven’t unlocked everything.

Another option that seemed to be a hit with my friends was the ability to have two items at once. If you went through an item box and triggered the item, you’d be able to hit another box to unlock that second item for use as soon as you used up the first.

There are a couple more kart options, items, control/steering tweaks, and characters that are nice but not a deal-breaker in my opinion. Although Mario Kart 8 looked good at 720p, the deluxe version is a gorgeous 1080p. These tracks all look stunning in HD!

What this adds up to is a good reason to invest in the Switch if you’re at all interests, but also a reason for Mario Kart 8 owners like myself to grumble a little. The game is essentially repackaged with a few key features that Nintendo should have included in the beginning, and that leaves me feeling a little sore. But not so much that I can’t enjoy Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for what it is!

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“Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World” by Bill Nye

Date Wed, August 2 2017

While Bill focused on convincing the reader that evolution was real, Unstoppable seems less like a debate piece. Bill does take time to discuss and explain climate change (he compares the Earth to our physical homes, which require upkeep), but the assumption is that global warming is real. Most of the arguing on Bill’s part is about how serious climate change is and how quickly we need to do something about it.

Because the book comes across as less persuasive than Undeniable, it makes an interesting read if you’re already of the mind that climate change is possible but wondering what real-world steps can be taken to slow it down or even reverse global warming. Much of Unstoppable is dedicated to the possible steps. I say “possible” because there’s no easy answer or single solution, and Bill is honest about this throughout the pages. He discusses possible options, some of which involve fledgling technologies and may not work as hoped. And he reiterates that it’s going to take a combination of these efforts to make a change.

Some of the ideas he discusses are further reliance on solar and wind energy and why natural gas is only slightly better than coal (methane is worse for the ozone than carbon), so we should only rely on it while moving closer to sustainable energy solutions. He doesn’t shy away from the dangers of nuclear power or the issues that wind turbines cause to wildlife (although, he fails to mention the same for solar farms and birds). Bill Nye outlines the risks and some possible solutions when he can. When he can’t, he points out why those risks might be worthwhile.

But Unstoppable contains a whole slew of potential solutions that aren’t as obvious — from lightening blacktop to creating bubbles on the surfaces of large bodies of water to moving away from streets to traveling via the Hyperloop to living closer to urban areas to reduce your carbon footprint. Not all of these ideas are obvious, and Nye debunks some of the seemingly-obvious solutions that wouldn’t actually work.

Bill Nye also discusses not just the creation of energy but the storage and transfer of energy in easy-to-understand words. The reader is able to appreciate how even when you can produce a lot of energy, being able to access it where you need it is a problem.

Throughout “Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World,” Bill describes possible solutions to climate change from an engineer’s point of view. And this is one of my favorite parts of the book. In the latter half of the book, Bill details the changes he’s made to his property and home — a modest property that he’s extensively updated to be more green. Not-so-coincidentally, those changes have paid off big for the science guy.

I found this section particularly interesting because Bill hasn’t just added solar panels to his roof (he has — and smart ones at that), but he’s also adjusted his fireplace to be more efficient, switched to a solar water heater and an efficient hot water system, turned his yard into a dry landscape (as well as a garden), swapped windows to those that left light filter in while blocking heat and uses small, focused skylights instead of light fixtures. This fixture not only opens a window into Bill’s mind as an engineer and a tinkerer who is often hands-on when it comes to these projects, but it shows the different options that exist for homeowners who are interested in

This section not only opens a window into Bill’s mind as an engineer and a tinkerer who is often hands-on when it comes to these projects, but it shows the different options that exist for homeowners who are interested in living a more green lifestyle (and ultimately reaping the benefits from themselves). Bill discusses some of the challenges from upfront cost to difficulty acquiring certain materials, but it’s all interesting.

I only wish those sections came with pictures, if not of his home then of similar setups, so readers could get a better idea. But Bill paints a pretty good picture with his words. I found myself excitedly talking about the technologies and solutions he mentions to anyone who mentions.

In fact, I like Unstoppable enough that I think I’ll buy it (I checked out the ebook through my library), so I can reference it again and again!

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Date Thu, July 13 2017

Leave it to me to read a book about cadavers. Actually, I think everyone should read this book (at least, the people who might find interesting and enlightening), so I’ll read it and let you know what I liked about it.

First, a little background. Mary Roach is a journalist and science educator who has been on my radar for over a decade. I first read one of her pieces in a Best Sex Writing book. I’ve also seen her TED talk in which she talks about a pig’s 30-minute orgasm. Ring any bells?

Roach has also written a number of books, some of which are so popular that they’ve been on my library ebook hold list for 9 months. I was pretty excited when Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers finally became available, and you better believe I’m anxiously waiting for the next book from her.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. I knew that I was a fan of Mary Roach and was sure she would teach me something, but I knew very little about cadavers. I also knew that I wasn’t necessarily squeamish about this sort of thing, either morally/spiritually or in terms of disgust. If you are, then I am not sure I would recommend Stiff to you. But if you like to learn, have a tough stomach, like learning about science and want to discover something more about a topic that isn’t readily spoken of, then I would recommend Stiff.

The basic premise of Stiff is Roach contacting all sorts of people and organizations to learn about the options for her own body once she passes on. She talks to researchers, students and other professionals around the world, ostensibly knocking options off her list because of personal preference (or because it isn’t an option at all in modern times).

As the reader follows Mary on her journey, we discover a myriad of “uses” for cadavers and their parts and learn a little more about the process. Roach discusses everything from brain death (and the historic definitions of death) and organ donation to body farms to using human skeletons (in short: it’s no longer done; everything is plastic), using bodies to practice surgery, for ballistics tests and to perform auto collision experiments (a system that’s in dire need of donated bodies).

Roach’s journey comes near the end as she discusses one possible future of body treatment after death, composting, with a Swedish businesswoman who is intent on making it come to fruition. It’s been over a decade since Roach penned Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, and this is still not something that’s available, unfortunately.

The book ties up with the reminder that when you are dead, your body is no longer you. It’s simply your body (as we discovered earlier that the author felt after her own mom’s passing), and you retain no rights to what happens. Sometimes our loved ones must simply do what they can to cope (again, Roach discusses how her mother coped with her father’s death and body).

Through her personal anecdotes and humor, Roach easily brings a touch of personality and perhaps lightness to a subject that is underappreciated and sometimes still taboo. It’s easy to read the words she writes in this style. I am looking forward to reading the next Roach book on my pile.

When it comes to this subject matter, in particular, I found myself inspired to see what I could do with my own body. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers certainly gave me something to chew on, and I definitely recommend it!

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Exploding Kittens [App Review]

Date Wed, July 5 2017

When the Exploding Kittens app first became available but only to iOS users, I was bummed. I mean, I donated to the campaign for the physical card game (which is awesome). I have all the expansions. Don’t I, an Android user, deserve the game?

I guess so. It’s out now. I’m not sure how long it’s been out, but a friend reminded me, and I downloaded the app.

But first I had to pay for it. Now, $2 might not be much for a lot of fun, but it’s enough to deter many people from grabbing the app. After all, there are so many awesome apps that are available for free (Legendary is one I play lately). So I really wish that Exploding Kittens was available for free, but it you’re interested, you can get it from iTunes and Google Play.

Now, Exploding Kittens is far from the first party card game I’ve played on my phone. Evil Apples is a version of Cards Against Humanity (review here) that I played a lot of for a while. I cannot help but compare Exploding Kittens to this game for that reason.

When you log in, you choose your avatar. There are a rainbow of cats to choose from, but they’re a little generic. There are more interesting options, but you need to pay to use them. I opted for the free one. There’s not an option to use your own photo as far as I can tell.

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The app also generates a name for you. I am HuggyBear. I haven’t changed this because it’s cute and, judging from others’ names, they followed suit. The avatars and names really make Exploding Kittens feel more anonymous than Evil Apples, which may be a negative for some people.

For people who want to play Exploding Kittens with friends, that’s also an option. Instead of inviting friends like in Evil Apples, you provide them with a code and log in. You only need two people to play, but my experience shows that this isn’t enough to be fun.

When you’re in a game, there’s a chat menu with preset options, but you can’t type any message you’d like. For people who are more focused on the game than socializing, this might not be a detractor, however.

If you’re into playing anonymously, you can log on to a game with strangers. First, you choose a deck: the free/original deck, the party deck or the betrayal deck. The game will let you try theparty deck for free once, and it adds a couple different cards including one that turns all your opponents’ cards into cat butts.

The game collects a few players, and you’re good to go. It seems like Exploding Kittens isn’t super popular because it takes longer to populate a game than with Evil Apples. I’ve also experienced more than a few canceled games due to connection errors or the host dropping out.

Once you’re in the game, you’re dealt a hands of cards that use the same art style (thanks to Matthew Inman of the Oatmeal!) that you’re used to, but some cards/game mechanisms have been changed to work better for the mobile format. For example, you can still peek at three cards or shuffle. You want to avoid the exploding kitten with a defuse card, but there are now slap and double slap options in the stead of favor and attack cards, and you only need a single kitten to take a card from someone else rather than pairs. This makes sense given that you’re playing digitally, and it work be harder to select two cards at once.

You can touch a card to see what it does, and a little screen explains the effect of the last played card. Learn how to play here.

A notable omission comes in the form of “Nope” cards, which you can use in the physical game to stop any action that isn’t defusing a kitten. When I’ve played, there has sometimes been a sequence of players laying down those cards and yelling “Nope,” which is always a good time. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as fun in the app. I’m not sure because it’s not there.

Like the card game, you can replace an exploding kitten in the deck. You can choose from a few specific locations or replace it in random. There’s a gauge that explains the likelihood of picking an exploding kitten, too, which can help you to determine which cards to play.

If you do lose, you need to wait for the end of the game, which is a bit frustrating. I’d rather be able to leave.

Play involves a number of unique animations and sounds that I think are well done and realistic enough to bother my cat. LOL However, the animations make an already mediocre game take longer than it otherwise would.

Since I paid for the app, I plan to keep playing it, but it hasn’t been as fun as Evil Apples or the actual card game. I find myself playing because the game prompts me. It’s a bit slow in between turns, and it doesn’t hold my attention.

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