Saturday, July 31, 2010

Matt Bukaty. This is what's up.

Happy Birthday, Matt!

photography by © Sarah Elizabeth Thomas
Yes, that's right. It's one of my best friend's birthdays today! And since he's such a good friend, and also a fellow blogger, I thought it only fair to give him a shout out and suggest you guys all check his blog out and consider giving him a follow!

I've known Matt for years now, since 5th grade. He's one of my closest friends. I've also had the pleasure of doing head shots for him. Those can be found on his website!

Matt is an aspiring composer currently attending New York University. (That's right. He lives in Manhattan. I, for one, am totally jealous.) He'll be getting his Master of Music in film scoring in 2011. Follow him now and say you were a fan before he got famous. Because it's going to happen. Trust me. This man has serious talent.

Check out his website for audio clips of his stuff, not to mention film clips—which are all great, by the way, and I'm not just saying that!

Become a fan on Facebook.

Follow him on Twitter.

Follow his BLOG.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

10 Things You Didn't Know About Me

1. I'm adopted.

Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic
"All The Right Moves"

By the way, if you play the piano...
I love you unconditionally. 
2. I love music. LOVE. Music can make or break my mood, change my mood, bring me up, or bring on the tears. I love all kinds of music. It just depends on what I'm in the mood for. I associate emotions or memories with music almost without noticing. Which is great if they're good memories, but bad memories can totally ruin a song for me. For like, ever.  Right now, my favorite kind of music is the kind that—pardon my French—makes me feel like a total badass.

3. I actually suck at multi-tasking. I can't watch TV and do homework, be reading two different books at the same time, I'm not even very good at texting and walking. Typically, it seems, people my age are endlessly multi-tasking, doing a million things at once with absolute ease. That's not me. At all.

4. I lied—there's one kind of multi-tasking I can do. Since I LOVE music, and it can kind of steer my mood and train of thought in a particular direction, sometimes I do well with writing while I'm listening to music. One short story I wrote—"The Dream," which ended up being a piece of a bigger picture—I wrote listening to one song on repeat. All The Right Moves, by OneRepublic. And you guessed it; whenever I listen to that song, I think about "The Dream."

Oh snap! Chocolate.
AND it's a dog.
I'm in love.
Although I couldn't eat it.
See #9.
5. I don't like too much salt. Don't get me wrong, it adds flavor really well. And I like food with salt in it. I just...rarely add extra salt to anything. I love corn without salt. And potatoes without salt. I have a notoriously wild sweet tooth, so you'll more than likely catch me snacking on chocolate rather than chips.

6. I've never had a PB&J. Ever. No, really.

7. I have an obsessive personality. When I like something, I like it. A lot. Like, A LOT. I tend to let things kind of consume my life, depending on how long I stay interested in them. I'm pretty focused. I'm that person who can listen to the same song on repeat for...weeks at a time. It takes me awhile to tire of things that I get into. My current obsession? True Blood. Mad props to Matt Bukaty for introducing me to its delicious existence. 
(Check him out. Follow his blog, too. He's the shiz.)

My current obsession.
<3 Eric.

8. I want to be a trophy wife. I know, super life-goal, huh? Don't hate the player, hate the game.

9. I have a huge problem when it comes to eating anything that looks like what it was before it...became a meal. Like most seafood. Crab is yummy. But...I feel barbarous cracking them apart to eat them. It kind of freaks me out. And makes me feel like a murderer. Which is totally ironic, because I'm so not a vegetarian. Don't get me wrong, it's great if you are. I just love, love, love chicken. And hamburgers. But seriously, cook me a hamburger patty in the shape of a cow, and I would feel awful eating it.

10. I can relate episodes/quotes/characters/situations from The Simpsons to just about anything. Ever.

I'm somehow related to these guys. I just know it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fabulous 35mm

Fabulous 35mm's Audree!
I'm taking a minute to offer some shout-out love to friend and fellow Blogger, Audree. She writes a blog called Fabulous 35mm-"Does this make my film look fat?" You guys all need to go check her out!

As you can guess, she writes about film, which she really has a passion for. Raves, reviews, criticisms, she does it all—even some posts on TV shows! *coughTRUEBLOODcough* <3

You'll also get some non-film related posts, like "Be sure to wear some flowers in you hair..." about her recent trip to San Francisco (If you get the reference, you WIN), or her trip to Harry Potter World, as well as fashion tips and opinions that are equally fun to read!

If movies, TV shows, and fashion aren't enough for you, there are also a few book reviews up over at Fabulous 35mm... Just sayin'. There's a little something for everybody!

In other words, I am strongly suggesting that you mosey on over to Fabulous 35mm, like, right now. Then click "Follow." :-)

You can also follow Audree on Twitter!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Starbucks on the Go

For those of you who know me, this isn't a big surprise, but I love Starbucks. I mean, I love Starbucks. I'm that person who walks in and is greeted with, "You want the usual?" Yes. I'm addicted and predictable. I am not ashamed.


Ever since Starbucks introduced their new rewards program—My Starbucks Rewards—I've been forced to use a pre-loaded card to buy my delicious drinks. Rather inconvenient, especially if I've got cash but my card is empty, because then I can't get a star and my purchase doesn't go toward earning my free drink. However, this became a lot less inconvenient when Starbucks introduced their Starbucks Card Mobile App. Which is the first of the two mobile apps I'm promoting/reviewing/recommending. 


Warning: This post contains a gratuitous amount of screen-caps. 
Consider yourself warned. ;-)


Starbucks Card Mobile App


The Starbucks Card Mobile App is handy for so many reasons! First, if you have a registered Starbucks card, you can add it to the app. I have three cards on mine; not sure if there's a limit, but I bet that wouldn't be a problem for most people. After you add your cards, you can check your card balance—and if you're runnin' on empty, you can even reload 'em right from your iPhone. I can't tell you how many times I added a quick five bucks to my card while I waited in line. Super handy!


Another cool thing you can do with the Starbucks mobile app is pay for your coffee with your iPhone! Literally! This isn't available at every location yet. According to the app, there are 1017 stores participating. But basically what it does is put up a barcode on your screen that can be scanned. I haven't had the chance to try this myself, but I'm pretty stoked to try it out.


You can also track your stars, or rewards. Every time you use your registered Starbucks card to make a purchase, you earn a star. After 15 stars, Starbucks mails you a coupon for a free drink. (Side note: I'd LOVE to see Starbucks implement a non-snail-mail version of their Free Drink coupon.) It's nice to be able to keep up with how many drinks short you are from getting your next free one. Just sayin'...


Check your balance.
As you can see, I've been broke since May...

Reload right from your phone!

Pay for your coffee...
using your iPhone!

Check your stars!
I have a ways to go.



myStarbucks App


The other app on my agenda is the myStarbucks App. This app has a bunch of cool features. The "My Starbucks" page shows you things you've favorited: Stores, drinks, coffees, and food. So when you find your new favorite store, or the best Frappuccino since sliced bread, you can add it to your favorites and not have to browse for it all over again.


Under "Stores," you can search for Starbucks locations near you. Or even near where you're going. Say I was taking a trip to Austin. I could plan ahead and know where I'd be able to stop and grab some coffee on the road. When you find a store, you can also check their hours of operation, which is admittedly very helpful. Especially if you're on the road early or late. Instead of getting off the highway, or going out of your way only to find out that particular Starbucks is closed, you can know before you go. Added bonus? You can invite your friends to that location! If you decide to invite them, it'll send out a text message to anyone you choose from your phone contacts with an invitation to hook up for some drinks, plus the address of the location you're at! That gets a big thumbs up from me!


The myStarbucks App boasts a "Drink Builder," which is particularly handy if you tend to customize your drinks, like I do. Personal favorite—Mocha Frappuccino, add caramel, nix the whipped cream, give me both drizzles, please! You can create multiple favorite drinks, and if it's just too complicated for you to explain, show your friendly barista and they'll make it happen. The drink builder will also show you nutrition information, although I'm not 100% sure how accurately it reflects the drink customization. Still, not a bad ball-park idea if you're trying to watch your calories.


The "Coffees" page has a list of brewed coffees, when they're available, as well as a description of each kind. You can also "explore"their blends. Options like "smooth," "caramelly," "intense," etc. will help you find the flavor that's right for you!


Lastly, "Food." This page lists off the foods that Starbucks serves, along with what time of year they're served, nutrition info, allergens, and even pairing suggestions.

myStarbucks Mobile App.

My myStarbucks homepage.
Where I keep my favorites!

The hours for the Starbucks closest to me.
Isn't 9 like, super early to close?!

Meet me! Well, in theory...

The Drink Builder.

Browse Starbucks' coffee blends.

Not sure what you want?
Explore.

Food! These are just from the
"Breads & Bagels" page.

Pumpkin Bread! My guilty pleasure.


Both of these apps have come in super handy for me, a true Starbucks addict/fan/lover. And best of all, both of these apps are FREE. Check out the iTunes store, search "Starbucks" if you'd like to download them and test them out for yourself!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

It was supposed to storm yesterday. I think we got a little rain, but mostly just clouds. Don't get me wrong, I love clouds. I really love overcast days. I've just been desperate for a storm, so I was a little disappointed.

But the near-storm weather made for some particularly gorgeous clouds, and on my way back from grabbing a bite for dinner I just had to stop and take a few pictures. I couldn't resist.


Couldn't resist this view.


Silver lining.


Favorite.


I took the liberty of playing with some effects on these last few.






Sepia = favorite.






Side note: If you're wondering what the picture quality is on iPhone 4, I took all of these with my phone. The effects added were all added with apps I downloaded from the App Store. Specifically, CameraBag and Best Camera.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Super Size Me? Nah...

Say hello to my little friend.
In 2004, Morgan Spurlock embarked on a 30-day McDonald's-only diet, filmed his endeavor, and called it "Super Size Me." A couple of days ago, I had to watch this in my Self Defense class. We'd been covering health, nutrition, etc., and I suppose my professor felt this was just as educational as her own lectures. I'd heard of this movie before, but never had any interest in seeing it. 


Turns out, I wasn't missing much.

First of all, I learned nothing I didn’t know. I’m not trying to argue that fast food is good for you. It’s not. I know this. I think most people know this, really, even if they don’t want to admit it. Yes, a Big Mac is very high calorie, and very NOT nutritious. Yes, a lot of people eat it—probably too often. Yes, a lot of Americans are overweight. Yes, eating only fast food is detrimental to your health. Please, tell me something I don’t know. Don’t insult my intelligence.

Morgan Spurlock is charming, funny, yes. I don’t have any problems with him as a person.  He’s likeable, he’s relatable, and he knows how to be on camera.

But his blatant demonization of the fast food industry really rubbed me the wrong way. Of course fast food contributes to the “obesity epidemic” in America. But guess what, fast food doesn’t put itself in your mouth. You go, you order the food, you pay for it, you eat it. Last I checked, this is a free country. Food is not regulated—that is to say, people can pick where they go. They can go out to eat, they can drive through, they can cook. So why is it that with all of these choices, people still feel justified blaming their weight gain or health issues on food establishments that were optional to go to in the first place? It’s not as if the CEO of Mickey D’s walks around force-feeding people 1,000 calorie burgers.

"As a professional nutritionist, I think this movie does a disservice to the American people. Obesity is a serious issue in this country and the movie is not a serious attempt to answer it. It misleads people into thinking that eating a particular type of food or at a particular restaurant is the cause for a weight problem. That certainly is not the case." — Dr. Ruth Kava, Director of Nutrition at the American Council on Science and Health (ASCH)**

Think he drove himself there?
Me either.
And saying McDonald’s lures children in? Give me a break. Yes, McDonald’s wants to appeal to kids. And yes, it succeeds in doing so. But let’s be real. It’s not little kids who are driving to the nearest McDonald’s and putting down their hard-earned money for a Happy Meal. Parents should be the people held responsible for telling their children no, they can’t eat fast food every day. At some point, people need to stop pointing the finger at corporations and take responsibility for the fact that they are the only ones choosing what they put into their bodies. Suing McDonald’s for making you fat? Oh please. I have some extra weight because of me. Nobody told me I had to eat high-calorie foods and nobody held me down and shoved burgers or pizza or cake down my throat.

I felt it insulting the way that this film depicted “fat” people; as always shoveling Big Macs, fries, and sodas into their unhealthy, carb-starved mouths. It just hit me as encouraging a stereotype that I think is very negative and hurtful. Not all overweight people are overweight because they do nothing but sit around eating buckets full of fast food. Although that tends to be the assumption shared by the general public. Thanks, “Super Size Me,” for mocking people who most likely already have body image issues. Good job.

Some of the meals that Morgan ate during his 30-day Mickey D’s diet I’ve never seen anyone actually eat—I noticed a couple of times that it looked like he had two sodas or two burgers, or both! That’s outrageous. Sure, I believe that there are some people out there who would order that much food. But probably not for every meal. I know one of the conditions of the 30-Day McDonald’s diet was that Morgan eat everything on the menu, at least once, but was it really necessary to order as much as he did every time he ate? I think he went out of his way to prove his point, and I think his ‘experiment’ was a little exaggerated.

How many burgers do you need, Morgan?
"…so you ate more food than the average person, and you exercised less. With all due respect, what the heck did you think would happen to your body?"— D. Parvaz, Seattle Post-Intelligencer**

However, I do agree that it was ridiculous how many locations Morgan visited  that didn’t have nutrition information available. People should be able to educate themselves about what they are putting into their bodies. As one of those people who’s started counting calories, I can attest to the fact that it’s very frustrating to be unable to find nutrition facts about the things I eat. Instead of filing frivolous lawsuits (something that we in America are experts at doing) why not push for readily available nutrition guides in fast food restaurants? That would be far more productive.

I’m concerned that blaming McDonald’s, blaming the fast food industry only encourages people to reject personal accountability. People don’t need to be babied; they don’t need to be told that they can eat whatever they want because someone else will be there to take the blame. If they don’t realize it’s themselves who put those extra pounds on by eating the wrong foods, how can anyone expect them to realize that they’re the only ones who can change their eating habits and pursue a healthier lifestyle?

It is what it is.



**"Super Size Me and Morgan Spurlock". December 2004. © 2000 Center For Individual Freedom

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

No Rest for the Weary

The culprit.
It all started with that fateful bite of ice cream. Starbucks ice cream, to be specific. Mocha Starbucks ice cream, to be even more specific. Yes, it had been a long day and so in lieu of dinner, I decided to indulge in a little bit of ice cream. It's been awhile, and I was totally craving some. Plus I had a coupon, which we all know is the perfect excuse to purchase something we probably shouldn't.

That little unassuming pint of ice cream was only the beginning. I didn't eat much of it; possibly a fourth of its creamy and delicious contents. I was watching Cake Boss and enjoying my evening. I had planned to go to bed around midnight, since I had class the following morning and needed to get up around 7:30. But, funny thing, midnight rolled around and I realized I wasn't tired at all.

I found this odd since somewhere a little after ten I started feeling very ready to wind down. But you know how those marathons on cable are—three, four episodes in a row? I can't say no. So there it was, midnight, I needed to wake up in the morning, but I wasn't in the least bit ready for bed.

So I decided to clean. It was on my list of things to do the next day anyway, and I figured it might tired me out. So I started with my desk, which was an unholy mess. I finished that, got the trash ready to take out in the morning, cleaned up my coffee table. I cleaned the kitchen, put all of my movies where they belong. And I still wasn't tired.

Then I got to thinking...which, no, hadn't occurred to me to do before. And I went to the freezer and opened it up, grabbed the pint and read the ingredients. Surely not, I was telling myself. It's just ice cream.

But there it was. Somewhere in the middle of that list of ingredients that most people probably never look at. Caffeine.

Now, I'm a total Starbucks addict. Hardcore fan. Loyal customer. But for the past six weeks, I have been coffee-free. Trying to get my caffeine addiction under control, save some money, keep my blood sugar in check, cut calories, and so on, and so on. So I hadn't really been drinking any caffeine so to speak. Which is why the little bit of coffee concentrate in Starbucks ice cream hyped me up and kept me from falling asleep.

BLAST! That was totally unintentional. I had been looking forward to going to bed. In the end, I didn't end up actually falling asleep until around 3:30. And even then, it wasn't a very peaceful sleep. I was still kind of wired.

Then, around five in the morning, I realize that my sweet little baby Tucker...is throwing up. In my bed. Under the sheets. Near my feet.

This is kind of how I feel right now.
Not good.

So, it's five. I've had a couple of hours of sleep, maybe. Not very satisfying sleep. And now I'm wiping up chunks of dog barf, trying not to gag, and feeling just awful for my poor little puppy. Tucker had retreated to the living room and was sitting against a wall, shivering. He does this when he knows he's done wrong. And he knew making a mess in my bed was wrong. What he didn't know is I didn't blame him for a second—he couldn't help feeling sick. He thought he was in trouble, so I had to spend some time sweet-talkin' him before he'd settle down.

I stripped the sheets off of my bed. I put Tucker in the kitchen, put up the baby-gate-turned-doggy-gate so he couldn't get out, and brought him his little bed. He seemed to be feeling okay, but I didn't want to run the risk of him throwing up on my sofa. Or the carpet. After I'd relocated him to the kitchen, I relocated myself to the sofa. At about 5:30 I was curled up under my throw, trying to fall asleep again. Several minutes pass and then I hear this loud crashing sound.

I live right behind a Target. And apparently that Target, for some horrible, inhuman reason, has their dumpsters emptied in the morning. This morning it happened to be at 5:45. I wanted to scream. If you've never heard one of those big trucks snatching up a huge dumpster, tipping it upside down, and slamming it back down on the concrete...well, you're not missing much.

They don't always do this so early in the morning, but what's even worse is not only do I have the dumpsters behind Target, but also six—count 'em, six—behind my apartment that belong to my complex; three on either side. So when they do come to pick them up, whenever that may be, it's pretty darn loud. Which is what you'll see if you watch my video. This isn't from this morning, but this is pretty much the usual clatter, clang, banging that accompanies garbage pick-up.

video

But for some reason this morning, they just had to pick up garbage before the sun was even up. I was not a happy camper. And I had to be up in a few hours.

Instead of getting up at 7:30 like I'd planned, I slept until nearly 9. Then I nearly literally dragged my tired behind to class—Self Defense. Which is fun, sometimes, but the workout/warm-ups she puts us through make it painfully obvious that I'm really out of shape. So I have a hard time looking forward to going to class.

This is kind of what
I learned today.
This morning was no different. And I was even less enthused because the only person I know in that class wasn't going to be there. And I was dead tired. To top it all off, the warm up she had us do this morning was such a struggle for me that I had to step out into the hallway, get some air, and suppress the urge to hurl. Totally fun.

And I have every reason to believe that I'm going to be sore tomorrow. Which is a good feeling, yes, but also...mildly painful.

After class, instead of coming home to take a nap like I so desperately wanted to do, I had to spot clean the barf off of my sheets, toss them in the dryer, spot clean the mattress pad, and spot clean my comforter. All of those I washed, except for my comforter, which is dry-clean only. Yeah, not great. So that'll have to go to the cleaners later. In the mean time, I don't have a spare one so...what exactly I'm going to use as a blanket is up in the air.

So. That was my really not fun day. Which also included finishing the review for my Self Defense exam tomorrow. And studying it.

Here's hoping tomorrow isn't near as hectic.

iOS 4.0.1—The Update

Alright, I know I've already done a few posts about my iPhone. And no, this isn't really a tech blog, so to speak. But it is my blog, and I do love Apple and their products, so trust me—it's not so out of place that as of late I've been going all techie on y'all.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about iOS 4.0.1—the software update for, well, the software update. Supposedly this addresses the issue of signal bars displaying more signal than they are actually receiving.

Again, I didn't really notice the "Death Grip" problem on my phone in the first place. In their press conference, Apple did admit that when held a certain way, iPhone 4 can drop bars. In their defense, Apple added that many other smart-phones suffer signal loss when held a particular way.   Personally, I don't have any experience with any other recently manufactured smart-phones, so I can't vouch for that.

After downloading the software update, I did notice that my phone showed less bars. I went from having full signal almost always to having anywhere from two to four or five bars in my apartment. That being said, I haven't noticed a change in overall call quality. I still have a few calls dropped, but that's nothing new. I don't have more dropped calls than usual, and when I do it's usually on the other end. Trust me, I can legitimately say this because usually when I'm talking on the phone, it's to my parents back in my hometown, and the signal there is less than awesome.

In their press conference, Apple did offer to give free bumpers to anyone who's purchased the iPhone 4 and suffered reception issues. I'll probably snag one because let's face it—iPhone 4 isn't cheap. If they want to toss in a free $30 bumper, I'm happy to take one. I'm just sayin'.

So yes, Apple has acknowledged antenna issues. iOS 4.0.1 is a response to that issue, as is the free bumper. They're also offering refunds if any of you iPhone 4 users out there are just that dissatisfied.

Me, I love my iPhone 4. Definitely keeping it. But again, definitely taking anything free they'd like to give me.

And I promise, I'm not trying to stealthily convert this blog into an "all iPhone, all the time" blog. Cross my heart. Thanks for bearing with me. And if you like, you can click the picture on the top right to learn more about iOS 4.0.1.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

iPhone 4: Extended Review

I recently purchased Apple's newest product, the iPhone 4, which I unboxed and reviewed a few posts back. But that review was more or less a list of first impressions, as I hadn't had much time to actually use the phone. Now I've got a few more things to add, although unlike the negative hype a lot of blogs and consumers are spouting, my revised list isn't nearly so dismal.

There are a lot of differences between the 3GS and the iPhone 4, and I'm not talking just aesthetically. I'll start with the good things, the things I love. Some of them are concerning the software update, iOS 4.0, and some are about the updated look of the phone itself.


iPhone—Newly Redesigned

First, I love the new design. As I said in my previous mini-review, iPhone 4 feels sturdier to me than my old 3GS, and I like the new glass back as opposed to the plastic backed 3G and 3GS. I don't know about any of you, but I bought the white 3GS, and it didn't take long before it started to develop small stress cracks around the headphone jack, side buttons, and USB connector. They didn't effect the usefulness of the phone, but it was frustrating to try so hard to keep my phone looking brand spankin' new only to have little cracks appear despite cases and screen protectors, etc. The new glass back is a very sharp, sleek design. And instead of the rounded off 3G and 3GS, iPhone now boasts a modern, squared off body. Very hot.

Second—two words. Retina Display.  The screen on the iPhone 4 is sharp, crisp; and in a word, beautiful. Viewing web pages is a dream. The text is super smooth, very clear, and even more pleasant to read than the earlier iPhone models (although they, too, had impressive displays if you ask me.) Pictures are also very nice to view. In short, all of the bragging that Apple has done about the retina display is totally legit. Again, if you ask me.

Apple has finally upgraded iPhone's camera from 3 to 5 megapixels. AND they've added an LED flash, which I'm thrilled about. I take pictures with my phone all of the time. No, really. ALL of the time. I think I have somewhere over 2,000 pictures in my photo library on my phone. A lot of them are of my dog. And a lot of them would have been better if not for the low light. So the added flash is particularly handy to me.

And in addition to more megapixels, Apple has also added a front-facing camera and introduced FaceTime. FaceTime is a feature I have  yet to use. The only problem with it is that in order to use it, whoever you're calling must also have an iPhone 4—since none of the other models have the front facing camera. (At least that's my understanding.) But Apple does have a number you can call that'll connect you to an Apple employee who will FaceTime chat with you and explain all of the features. I may just have to give that a try!

A small added detail are the two volume buttons. Instead of one, now there are two. Each labeled with + or -, respectively. Not a big change, but I'm a fan.


iOS 4.0—The New Software

My favorite of the software related updates is Folders. Now you can group apps together in a folder, for example; I have a folder I call "Social." It includes my apps for FacebookTwitterAIMYelpUrbanspoonGowalla, etc. So instead of having three or four extra pages to flip through, I now have two. My home screen, and a second screen with some extra apps and several Folders. VERY handy. 

I also love the unified mailbox. Now I can get all of my emails from each of my accounts in one folder. I love this. I check my email constantly. Maybe to the point of obsession. And now I don't have to move between all of them, I can just check them all at once. If you use the email feature as much as I do, you'll definitely love this!

Another feature that I love is iBooks. But I reviewed this already, back when I updated my 3GS to iOS 4.0. So I won't beat a dead horse again. ;-)

I also really like being able to have a background on my home screen now! And it can even be different than what you have set as your lock-screen background. Pretty cool.

Now, on to the things I don't love. Or, more specifically, the things iPhone 4 lacks that I think it shouldn't.


Dislikes

First of all, where are the customizable text tones? I'm tired of the one I have, but frankly I find it to be the only tolerable one amongst the tones Apple has given us. Sure, I can change my ringtone, but I'm picky. That's not enough for me. Every time someone's iPhone bleeps at them, I think it's mine. It'd be nice if we all had the ability to add or create our own. I can't imagine this being a really hard thing to incorporate, so I'm disappointed that it isn't among the things included with the new software update.

Another thing I'd love to see—some sort of messaging light. When I had my BlackBerry, I really liked that I could put my phone on silent but still be alerted when I got a text by that flashing red light up top. I'd heard rumors a light like this would appear on the new iPhone, but alas, it was merely a rumor.

It would also be nice to see wireless syncing, although I don't really find plugging my phone in as cumbersome as some people seem to. That said, it would be pretty handy.

The last thing that I really have a complaint about is that, as with the 3G and 3GS, Apple didn't include the iPhone dock. I think that's pretty lame, really. The first iPhone came with the dock, and now Apple is selling them separate for thirty bucks. Let's be honest, I'm already paying a pretty penny for the phone. Why not make me feel like I'm getting a little extra for my money and toss in the dock? I mean, c'mon, Apple. Seriously. Thirty bucks?

As for the whole antenna debacle, I can't say I've had any problems with dropped signal. I have been using a case with my phone, which can supposedly prevent the iPhone 4 Death-Grip from causing a loss of signal. I did take my phone out of the case and try to hold it in the way that's supposed to cause the antenna issue, but I didn't see any bars lost. There are a lot of reports of people having this problem, though, so I can't say it isn't there. I can just say I haven't experienced it yet—which is good, I assume.


Overall Impression

All in all, I think iPhone 4 is a great phone! It's fast, it's gorgeous, it seems sturdy to me. Love the new design, the display, the camera. Of course, I still think the 3GS is a great phone. And really, even the original iPhone is still a good phone. But if you're wanting to upgrade, or if you're looking to get an iPhone for the first time, I think you'll enjoy using Apple's latest iPhone; iPhone 4. Hopefully this review was helpful, informative, and/or at least not boring!


EDIT: I was reminded of one other MAJOR dislike. I can't believe I forgot it. iPhone 4 STILL doesn't support Flash. I don't know why. This has been irritating ever since Apple first introduced the iPhone. So many sites require flash, and I'm really annoyed that Apple hasn't addressed this issue by providing Flash support. Get with the program, please, guys! Please??




Monday, July 12, 2010

Brokeback Latte

So sometimes when you walk into a Starbucks, you see some cool artwork promoting whatever new drink has happily made its way to the menu. And sometimes those little doodles just beg to have their picture taken... Which brings me to the point of this short little post.

This is the best Starbucks doodle I've ever seen. I found it in a Starbucks store in Mansfield, Texas back when the Cinnamon Dolce Latte was first introduced.

And I thought it was worth sharing.

:)

The barista that drew this is truly awesome. I wish I saw more Starbucks artwork like this—creative and punny!

How about you guys? Stumble across any fantastic Starbucks art lately? Or are you NOT as addicted to Starbucks as I am? ;-)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

SOS: Dishes Distress

Mug and soup bowl.
So, I love garage sales. For so many reasons. Cheap stuff, random finds, I just enjoy the whole "One man's trash is another man's treasure" mentality.

And this one time at this one garage sale, I found these fabulous dishes! Actually, at first I only found the mug. Very retro, totally awesome. I've always been a sucker for collecting random mugs, but as I continued browsing, I stumbled upon matching soup bowls! And there were four of them! Delighted, I hunted for the rest of the set, assuming that since this woman had a mug and some soup bowls, surely there would be matching plates, and at least a couple more mugs.

Alas, this was not the case. She even helped me look, but she couldn't remember where she'd gotten the dishes from. And what's worse, there is NO maker's mark, seal, stamp, brand name, nothing. Not on any of the five dishes (one mug, four bowls) I ended up with.

This was probably at least three years ago, if not four. I have looked in antique shops, more garage sales, online, everywhere. I can't for the life of me find more of these stinkin' dishes, but I LOVE THEM.

So here's where I implore you... Have any of you seen these dishes before? If so, do you have any idea who made them? Where I could get some? What other dishes are in the set? Because the only two conclusions I can reach about these guys are that 1) They're crap. They're cheap, and the rest of the remaining dishes all throughout the world have been broken or thrown away. Or 2) They're collectibles and the people who do have them are holding on to them for dear life.

Help?

Soup and crackers!

Hot chocolate time!

See?? Nothing! ARG!

Quite the pair.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

iPhone 4: Unboxing and Review

So, yes, I'm one of those people who flipped for the new iPhone 4. I'm also one of those people who just upgraded to get one, and—you guessed it—I'm also one of those people who absolutely loves it!

I ordered my spiffy new iPhone on the 2nd, a bit put off by the fact that they didn't just have one in the store that I could walk out with. Yeah, I'm a little impatient. But having the phone shipped to me did increase my excitement and anticipation, which was fun! And it actually ended up arriving earlier than I thought it would, which is extra super because that means no extra trip home from college just to pick up a phone. Because let's face it, that's kind of out of the way, even for an awesome phone.

So I came home this weekend to marry off one of my best friends, and it just so happened that my iPhone 4 was set to arrive this weekend. How convenient is that?! Waiting for FedEx to deliver it was tiring for me. I must have checked my tracking information at least a hundred times. (Yes, I'm also that neurotic.) And when it did arrive, I felt the occasion worthy of proper documenting.

That being said, here we are! A slew of pictures of the unboxing of my beloved new mobile phone.

The box has arrived! Excitement ensues.

The contents of the box.
Not sure what the thing on top is meant to do.

iPhone 4!

My brand new phone, right inside the box!

Hello, iPhone 4!

The back of my phone, black and lovely.

Inside the box.
Headphones, USB cord, plug.

Box top, contents, iPhone 4.
I could have taken more pictures, but I resisted. I do seriously love this phone, though. Very sleek, feels natural to hold, and to me it feels more solid than my previous phone, the iPhone 3GS. More sturdy, I suppose you'd say.

So now you've seen the pictures, which brings me to my mini-review. Since I've only been using the phone for a day or so, I don't have an in-depth review, but I do have some surface observations and fan-girl favorites.

To start with, as I said, I love the new design—It feels more solid than the former 3G and 3GS design. It's more like the original iPhone, which I also loved. The glass back is delightful to look at, very polished, good sharp design. The curved look is gone, so the phone is more squared off, and I like the stainless steel band a lot.

The camera now has a flash, which is excellent! I take pictures with my phone all of the time, and not every situation has great lighting, so the flash is very helpful for capturing photos in lower light, or even at night! I can't wait to really get to use this new feature. And the front facing camera is great! I haven't tried FaceTime yet, but it's nice if you want to take a picture of yourself. It takes the guess-work out of it—You know right away how the picture is going to look, and you won't cut your face in half anymore trying to gauge where to aim with the camera on the back. Love that. Also, the camera has been upgraded to 5 megapixels. Score.

The retina display is fantastic! Puts my 3GS to shame with the clarity of text, images, everything. I still can't get over how flawless the screen looks. I absolutely love it.

I haven't had a chance to try out the new HD video recording, but I hope to in the near future. I foresee numerous videos of Tucker getting taken, as I'm already hopelessly obsessed with photographing my dog.

I haven't had any of the reception issues that some iPhone 4 users have complained of, but I also bought a case more or less immediately. That's the problem with new toys; don't want to damage them! Here's the case I bought. I really like it.


I really like this case because it's a hard case, not just rubber. But it's easy to hold on to, so hopefully I can keep from dropping my phone as long as possible! Also, it snaps on, so you're sure that the phone will fit really well in the case. I've had rubber cases before that fit great at first, but over time stretch just enough that the phone fits loosely inside. I'm hoping since this is a snap-on hard case, I won't have that problem again. Plus it's purple, which is my favorite color. Fun fact. :-)

I also got a screen protector for it. (I'm neurotic, remember?) And the AT&T rep, Shadi, who helped me out, did a stellar job of putting that screen protector on for me. Props to him. He rocks. Big time.

So there you have it. I have a new phone, and I love it. And I think it's a really great phone.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Back to Reality

Giving up my small bit of summer wasn't easy. But it had to be done. Vacations are always too short anyway, not matter how long they last. Mine was two weeks. In the past few days, I have done a whole slew of things. Okay, maybe not a whole slew. But a bunch. Allow me to expound on the subject.


Firstly, and fabulously, I am DONE, officially, with Spanish 3. Now if I can just tackle the beast that is Spanish 4, I will also, officially, be done with the foreign language classes that my degree requires. This will be cause for celebration, you better believe it. How did I do, you may ask? Not bad! A solid A, that's how I did. Now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that Spanish 4 will have a similar outcome.

Secondly, I started my summer class at A&M. Self Defense. Today was our third class day, but our first day of actual physical activity. Can I just say, I am shamefully out of shape? Man! I had my butt handed to me during our warm up session. Yeah, just the warm up session! Which involved jogging, squats, jumping jacks, sit ups, push ups, and some yoga and stretching. OUCH. But what I'm really sore from is throwing punches. We worked on jabs and such today, and my shoulders are killing me. Apparently I'm not used to defending myself. Whether by punching or by blocking. Thank goodness I have a weekend off to nurse my poor little body. Let's just hope by Tuesday I've got what it takes to have my butt handed to me again.

Third, much less exciting, I got my first speeding ticket. Like, ever. Which, to be fair, is kind of a miracle in itself. What kills me is, as mad as I am about it, I'm not mad at the officer who wrote me the ticket. I mean, let's be fair—Did I deserve it? I sure did. It just happened to come on a day that was already not going so well for me. So you can imagine the pity party I threw for myself. I'm still working on getting it sorted out, sending off a request to take defensive driving instead. Can't wait to add that to my list of things to do this summer. Spanish 4, Self Defense, and Defensive Driving. See? The list keeps getting longer!


In addition to the slew of things I've done this week, I also have a list of things I WILL do this week. Like, for example, this weekend. This weekend is a big weekend. Because this weekend one of my best friends is getting MARRIED! Yes! Exciting! Tomorrow we're getting together to give her some more presents, and Saturday is the wedding. I can't believe so many of my friends are married. I feel way too young to marry, but that could be because I still see myself as a teenager sometimes. Could it be that it's finally time to grow up? (I mean that rhetorically, of course...)

So this weekend is all about her, which is great for me. Because she's way more fun than any stinky old class or run in with the law.

Shout out in the form of CONGRATULATIONS to my friend, Christine, and her very-soon-to-be hubby, Mark. They make an excellent couple and I have no doubt at all that they'll have an exceptional life together. I can't wait to see them get married on Saturday!

That's the biggest on my list of things I'm going to do this week. Another is that my iPhone 4 is supposed to arrive at some point tomorrow. If you know me, you know this means I'm as excited as a kid at Christmas. I just hope I don't miss the FedEx guys.

But look at me. I'm just rambling now. Probably due to lack of sleep. So that's it. My journey back to reality. Vacation was nice, vacation was short as always, and once again I can't wait for my next vacation. Which should roll around, oh, a couple of weeks before my Fall semester. Oh well, I'll take what I can get.