Friday, March 27, 2015

Because Seeing Wet Cats Make Me Smile . . .

Here's a video to add a little smile to your upcoming weekend.

"Cat's That Love Baths" by GreaterGoodNetwork

And now I really want to see what The Olaf Cat looks like wet.  He goes to the pet groomer once a month, so I've never seen him smothered in water, but suddenly I secretly want to see if I could get him to take a bath.  Would he hate me forever?  Do I dare try!!??  Heh, happy thoughts.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Art Deco in Japan at Brigham Young University MoA

 At the BYU Museum of Art there's two Japanese Culture themed exhibits taking place:

DECO JAPAN: Shaping Art and Culture 1920-1945
Running from February 12-July 18, 2015.


 Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami
Running from January 29-June 20, 2015

Both are Free.  Visitor parking is free.

 The pictures in this blog post are from the Art Deco exhibit.  I've always been fascinated by Art Deco design and shapes.  So unique.  And it's amazing seeing how the Art Deco movement influenced Japan.

 Beautiful glass work.

 I love the square shapes in this bowl.

 This is my favorite piece in the exhibit.  I would love a replica of this box.

 This rabbit was my Dad's favorite piece.

 A sleek Phoenix.

This last picture, which is not apart of the Art Deco exhibit, is an art instillation by Gabriel Dawe called Plexus No. 29.  It's found in the BYU MoA (museum of art) lobby, and will be there through 2016.  It's really cool in person.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What I Fear Most About Today's Taekwondo Belt Test

(Each color represents a different section I've tested for and passed)

The Taekwondo studio I attend belt tests every three months, which means if I don't pass my belt test tonight I'll be a white belt for 6 months!


Not an appealing thought, whatsoever.

But if I pass I'll become a white/yellow belt.  (In Taekwondo the progression is White, White/Yellow, Yellow, Yellow/Green, Green, Green/Blue, Blue, Blue/Red, several red belts I have yet to memorize, and then 10 degrees of black belt.)

I've discovered in these last three months that I really love the kicking segments, kicking combos, and poomsae (forms).  I don't care so much for self defense, which is one of the main reasons I'm working towards a black belt.  Maybe once I start sparring (at green belt) I'll change my mind, or maybe when the techniques save my life one day I'll appreciate them.

But what I REALLY don't like is the dive roll. 

The dive roll!

What's sad is that a couple weeks ago I was doing a pretty good dive roll, then last Thursday I landed funny and some psychological stuff started happening in my brain, and every dive roll after that was messed up, hurting my hand, hitting my head, etc.

Well, got to focus and have confidence.

Wish me luck!!

(Edit:  I passed!  Yippie!!  And my dive rolls were pretty good :0)

(The video by PROJECTMARTiALYOU I've been watching for mental practice, since I don't have a mat at home to practice on.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Pottermore Sorting Hat Quiz Fallacy, or why Tom Felton may not be a Gryffindor


The site that launched the sorting hat identity crises.

In truth, since Pottermore opened to the public a few years ago, I've taken this test many times.  (I've lost track!  Simply you open an account, take the test, and then delete the account.  It's per rules that you must delete your account and open a new one if you wish to retest and re-sort.)

Maybe this is sneaky of me, but when I first took the test and was sorted into Hufflepuff, I felt deflated.  Unsure.  Not right.  So I did what any sensible human being would do, I deleted my account, singed up again, took the test (answering truthfully with each random question I received), and was sorted into Gryffindor.  Same test, different questions, I was just as honest, and yet I was sorted into another house.

On January 21, 2015 Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter series, a character known for his Slytherin ways, joined Pottermore.  He promptly tweeted "Today was the day. I finally did it. I joined Pottermore and was sorted into........Gryffindor. Heart broken x #slytherinforlife"  

There's 27 different questions created for this test randomization, in which you are only tested on 7 questions during sorting.  On the "Random Bits and Pieces of Nothing" tumblr page, the authoress, Julie, worked out that there are 9730 possible combinations (did she figure this out while taking into account that you only answer 7 at a time?  I don't know . . . and frankly I'm too lazy to found out.  And honestly I've forgotten how to do that sort of math.)  But still, if that number is correct, 9730 combinations is quite a lot.  You can take the test over and over again and not get the exact sorting each time, regardless of how Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff you may be.

There are times when I've taken the test 10 times in a row and was pretty much sorted equally between the 4 houses.  So what does that make me?  A GryffinSlytherRavenPuff.  Honestly, we may all be this.  It's impossible to have the traits of just one house 100% and 0% the other houses.  So I guess that makes us all Divergent . . . which is a different franchise, but the principle remains.

In truth if you analyze the sorting hat questions and what house each one skews, you may start to find imbalances or a differing opinion of which house that answer lands.  Thankfully there are true Ravenclaws out there to do the reasoning for us.  "Pottermore Sorting: Sorting Hat Analysis and Meta" is a very thorough article breaking down each question, and which house each answer skews.

Fun fact, all water and Merlin questions skew Slytherin.

(Though I must note that I just took the sorting hat quiz three times, choosing water and Merlin if those questions were generated for my random test, and answering honestly for all other questions, and I was sorted 1st Ravenclaw, 2nd and 3rd Gryffindor.  So taking the test and simply answering water and Merlin may not sort you into Slytherin, because your random test may not give you those particular questions, or you highly favor another house with the other questions).

Also, there are questions I have problems with, such as the instrument question.  Trumpet skews Hufflepuff (this makes no sense to me, Puffs are neither boisterous nor loud), Violin skews Slytherin (1st or 2nd violin? 1st chair principle?), Piano skews Ravenclaw (the only skewing I truly agree), and Drums skew Gryffindor (the symbolism of marching to your own drum?).

With the "either or" questions at the end of the sorting test, there's a question where you choose between Dawn or Dusk.  Dawn favors Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, while Dusk favors Hufflepuff and Slytherin.  Simply being a "night" person vs a "morning" person can skew you towards one house or another, regardless or personality, but simply because of your internal clock, and that you must work the night shift.

Ultimately, for personal TMI worthy reasons that will not be discussed on this blog, I know I would be sorted into Gryffindor, especially at age 11.  I still maintain the sentiment that we should all embrace our inner Hufflepuff, because Hufflepuff is the noblest of houses, they just keep getting a bum rap, which will hopefully change with the new movie "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."  The main character, and author of the book, is Newt Scamander, a Hufflepuff . . . 

"I have visited lairs, burrows and nests across five continents, observed the curious habits of magical beasts in a hundred countries, witnessed their powers, gained their trust and, on occasion, beaten them off with my travelling kettle."
—Newton Scamander
  Newt Scamander is also Luna Lovegood's Grandfather-in-law.  She marries Rolf Scamander.  Just some FYI when the movie comes out.

In the end we are what we choose.

The sorting hat is fun, none of this is real, unless you wish to believe, but if you took the sorting hat quiz and received a house different to what you feel is right, it could simply be the luck of the draw in terms of the 7 questions you received.

Be who you wish to be.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Utah & Idaho Odyssey of the Mind 2015 Pin Sneak Peak

 March 28th is the Utah State Odyssey of the Mind (OotM for short) competition!  It's at Park City High School.  Each of the long term problems (Silent Movie, Technical Difficulties, Lose You Marbles, Runaway Train, and Pandora's box) is solved in a skit which is presented to judges, and these performances are open for the public to come and watch.  It's really fun seeing how all the teams solve the same problem is so many different creative ways.

Odyssey of the Mind is all about creativity and thinking outside the box, which is the theme of this years Utah/Idaho pins: See What Creativity Lurks Beyond the Box.

Idaho is included on our pins because we have a few teams coming down to compete.  Idaho's OotM program is so small each of the Idaho teams automatically qualify for the OotM Worlds Competition in Michigan this year, but it's good practice to perform the skit in front of an audience before Worlds.  There's a Div. II Idaho team performing in Silent Movie this year, and I'm really excited to see them.  I'm excited to see all the teams perform!  It's going to be fun :0)

Without much further ado here's a close up of our pins.

 Omer as a cardboard box monster is my favorite pin this year.  He's adorable!

This pin is 2 inches high and about 1 1/3 inches wide.

 This pin is all the problems, including Primary, represented within each box.

This pin is 1 1/2 inches wide and 1 3/4 inches tall.

Monsters coming out of the box!  And our States slogan at the bottom.

Measuring at 1 7/8 inches wide and 2 inches tall.

Can't wait for the competition next week! :0)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Spring Day!!

It's the first day of Spring!  Or so my Calender says.  Typically you can't trust everything you read--good to be a little skeptical--but today my Calender doesn't lie.  Today it speaks truth, and the daffodils that bloomed for the first time today in front of the house confirms this fact.  Even the trees around the street corner are in full, glorified pink fluff bloom.

It's magic.

It's warm.

And I feel really bad for the East Coast right now, who are drenched in snow.  (Can you be drenched in snow?  Maybe after it melts.)  I don't mean to write this post to brag.  Just that this weather here has been peculiar.

We've probably had only two true months of Winter.

Which makes me wonder what this Summer will be like.  I'm predicting really hot, which I don't care for, but I grew up an hour north of Bakersfield so I'm used to the heat.  Elementary P.E., outside, in the middle of July (year-round-school) was brutal.

But for now I shan't worry about that.

For how ever long this Spring lasts I shall enjoy.

And I pray the East Coast weather snow systems will realize they've over stayed their welcome.  Way overstayed.

For Now:

Awake, thou wintry earth -
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn, "An Easter Hymn"

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cinderella 2015, Movie Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

(Before I fully get into this review I would like to note that, compared with my family, I'm scoring this movie really low.  Everyone who has seen this new retelling of Disney's Cinderella, parents included, have scored it a 5 of 5 stars.)

"Tale as old as Time" is the opening line for Beauty and the Beast sung wonderfully by Angela Lansbury, and yet when I hear this phrase I don't think of that gallant tale of seeing beauty deep within, but of Cinderella.  Maybe it's because Cinderella seems ageless.  This story has been apart of my life since I was a kid, and all through history there can be found constant Cinderella retellings of a commoner maiden marrying her prince.

In this most recent retelling of Cinderella, directed by Kenneth Branagh, we find an updated live-action version of the 1950 Disney classic animation, complete with cat and mice chases, glass slippers, and a pumpkin carriage.  What we also find are scenes laced with enchantment and magic, bright, beautiful colors, gorgeous sets, amazing costumes, and a delightful musical score by Patrick Doyle (a composer I've loved since his work on A Little Princess).

I love the opening scenes, and that, in this version, we get to meet Ella's Mother ().  It's from her Mother that Ella () learns to "Have courage and be kind," these simple yet beautiful words mold Ella into the person she becomes, a bright young women who shines with goodness, kindness, and heart.  I'm glad for the opening moments showing their happy family.  This shows the contrast of Ella's home life, one with her parents and the other with her Step Mother () and Sisters.  It's from her new family that she receives her nickname "Cinderella," a name that threatens to snuff the light right out of Ella.

My brother Steven was telling me that some of the scenes with the Fairy Godmother () was improvised.  I can't find a source for this information, but I loved her in this role.  Honestly the cast was really strong all around.  I loved Lily James as Cinderella.  Cate Blanchett was wonderful as the Step Mother, devilishly wonderful with an amazing fashion sense and snarky laugh.  is charming as Kit/The Prince.  Though, ah man, every time I saw the King, played by Derek Jacobi, I couldn't stop thinking about Hamlet! (He's played both Hamlet and Claudius.  Fun fact, when he played Hamlet in 1980 Patrick Stewart played Claudius, and I way prefer Stewart's 1980 portrayal of Claudius then when he played the role in 2009 co-starring with David Tennant, completely different portrayals.  Back on topic!)

With all this being said, I've had a hard time not comparing this new version of Cinderella with Ever After, which still reigns as one of my most favorite movies of all time.  Love, love, love Ever After.  With that movie I prefer the interactions between Danielle/Cinderella and the Prince.  There's a lot more development between these two characters leading up to the ball.  The idea of Leonardo da Vinci as the "Fairy Godmother" still gives me giggles, and once again there's more character development as he interacts with both the Prince and Danielle pre/post ball.

I feel, in some ways, the greatest difference between Dinsey's 2015 Cinderella and Ever After is the notion of "Showing, not telling."  This new Cinderella relies quite a bit on narration to move the story along, which made it seem like we were watching a bedtime story.  For a film aimed towards children, this narrative choice fits.  And, honestly, I would rather find out that our narrator is the Fairy Godmother, then coming to the end of The Book Thief and realizing the narration is coming from Death himself.  Kinda disturbing.

As a note, I'm glad this wasn't a musical, though there are vocal musical elements throughout, which was nice.  If you stay and watch the end credits you'll hear Lily James sing "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and Helena Bonham Carter sing "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo."  Both songs are great!  This movie could have easily been a musical, and would have worked quite well as one, only screenwriter Chris Weitz doesn't feel comfortable writing in the musical genre:

"I don't know how to write that kind of thing really, and I think that that's something that for me, it's much easier to do that with an animated film.  That's why many of the Disney animated films are musicals. With live-action, sort of getting into and out of those moments of song is really super tricky."

Obviously he's never watched Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, in which Disney did a remake in 1997 with Bernadette Peters, Brandy, and Whitney Houston.  Such a great show, and proof you can do a live action version of Cinderella with music.  And he has obviously never seen any of the Disney animation musicals on Broadway.  Technically live action as well.

Overall, I love this movie.  Kenneth Branagh did a wonderful job bringing this enchanting tale to screen.  I've already seen this beautiful movie twice.

(Cinderella's "glass" slipper on display at the theater.  I want one!!)

 MPAA: Rated PG for mild thematic elements.

Monday, March 16, 2015

When All Seems Lost Never Give Up

"When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Attack of the Cookie Monster Brownie

"Cookie Monster Brownie: These brownies are studiously put together WITHOUT EGGS so that they can be handled without refrigeration.  These brownies are EXTREMELY RICH and have a tendency to cause cookie monster syndrome.  (WARNING: these brownies are so delicious that some people grow blue fir and begin saying "OMNOMNOM" whenever they eat them.)

This is my giggle for the week.

I found these at the BYU Creamery on 9th, on a trip with my Grandma to get yummy ice cream.  (Seriously the best.)  What's even more funny is that I haven't been to the BYU campus in well over a year, so I used Google Maps to help me find the store.  The program steered me wrong!  I kept getting lost.  It led me to a dead end.  At one point I suddenly found myself at the Provo temple.  They've built up the campus quite a bit, and Google Maps is currently out of the loop with these changes.

My Grandma kept laughing . . . at me!

But we found the Creamery, and I shall never get lost trying to find the store again.

 I'm sure Snoopy would approve of these Cookie Monster Brownies.

I didn't get one, instead opting for yummy chocolate brownies and a scoop of chocolate nut brownie ice-cream.  Super OMNOMNOM worthy.

Of course too much indulgence will lead to this:

But a little treat now and then isn't just warranted, but necessary :0)

(Images from the Hallmark book "Have Another Cookie (It'll Make You Feel Better".)

Friday, March 13, 2015

March 2015 POPSUGAR Must Have Box Review

 "Renewal, Citrus, Spring Break, Fresh, Traveling"

These were the inspiration for the March 2015 Popsugar Must Have Box.

 POPSUGAR Must Have is a monthly subscription lifestyle box for gals.  The cost is $39.95 a month, free shipping, but it's cheaper when you subscribe with a 3, 6, or 12 months subscription.  On any month you can receive goodies for home, a book, fitness, snack, makeup, pampering, fashion, etc.  You never know what you're going to get, only that it will be fun and worth around $100, give or take a little.
The March box is sold out, but the April box is currently on sale.  The April theme hint is: Spring, Simplicity, Markets, Outdoors.  If you like this box you can sign up and click the "wait list" box for the March box, but it's not a guarantee at all that you will receive it.  Coupon code MUSTHAVE5 saves you $5!

 Each month Popsugar Must Have provides a really nice pamphlet describing each item.

 Bliss, Micromagic Microdermabrasion Treatment, $48.

Last month this was the spoiler for this months box, and I'm really excited to give this "at home microderm" a try.  I've gotten a few microderms, and they're so expensive!  So it will be fun seeing how well this product works.  There's a lot of fantastic reviews on Sephora.  You can't use it more then twice a week, so I'm going to try it out this weekend.  Light a few candles, use the eye mask gel I got in last months box, and have an at home R&R spa night.  Sounds like a great idea :0)

 Knock Knock, What to Pack Pad, $7.

This pad fits in perfectly with the traveling theme.  I wish I traveled more to use it, but I do have a couple trips planned this year, so I will definitely be using this.  My Dad is leaving tonight for a business training trip in Europe, and I just gave him a sheet to help him pack.  I'll have to ask him later if it was useful.  But I've seen these check list pads at gift shops and always found them cute, so this is fun.  It's just making me want to travel more.

 Wet Brush, The Squirt, $4.99.

My very first Popsugar Must have box was the October 2013 box, and in that box they gave us full size pink Wet Brushes.  It was my first introductory to the brand, and I fell in love with it.  It will be nice having a traveling size brush to take on trips.

 Greenmarket Purveying Co., The Archivist Lemon+Cucumber Reed Diffuser Kit, $20.

This is a really refreshing scent.  It's a true balance between cucumber and lemon.  About 30 minutes ago I put it in my bathroom, and it's smelling nice in there.  A nice strong scent, but not overpowering.

 Samudra, Pink Pina Zip Pouch, $40.

There is no way this pouch is worth $40.  I had smaller, similar pouches back in the 90's when I was in school, where I used them as pencil pouches.  This is an exclusive Popsugar item, yet when you go to the Samudra website there is no item to compare this too.  Their zip pouches on the site are made out of fabric, look higher quality, and are cute.  Every time I look at this pouch I think of the TV show Psych.  Every.Single.Time.  That's not a bad thing, only now I'm craving a marathon.  Thankfully I own the show on DVD.

 That being said, when I travel this Summer this will come in handy.  It's a large size, and can handle "wet" items, or simply items with the possibility of leaking. 

Halfpops in Butter & Pure Ocean Sea Salt, $1.69.

According to our Popsugar March 2015 pamphlet "flavor's may vary."  I'm glad I got this flavor to try, as this is the perfect, portion controlled size.  As a goal I'm really cutting back on sugary treats, so this is a really nice snack.  I haven't tried it yet, because I'm hanging onto this for when I'm having a "weak" moment.


Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Mascara and POREfessional.

These are each 0.1 oz samples.  The full size mascara is 0.3 oz, and the original POREfessional is 0.75 oz.  I'm excited to try both.  I always keep mascara longer then I should, and was at Sephora a few days ago looking at the Rollar Lash Mascara, so I'm glad I get to sample this.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

In Which I Earn the Right to be called "Sir" at Excalibur Hotel & Casino

When I was eight, Autumn of 1990, my family took an Epic family vacation.  The biggest ever from my childhood which involved Disneyland, staying at the Disneyland hotel, Catalina Island, and flying into Las Vegas, my first plane flight.

A special treat during the Las Vegas portion was staying at the newly built, three-month old Excalibur hotel and Casino.  Before then the only kid friendly place on the Vegas strip was Circus Circus, but Excalibur was different.  There was magic.  There were knights.  I got to stay in a castle!

It was a childhood dream realized.

And in the basement there is an arcade where the "Ancient Electronic Crossbow" lies.  It's like those old western like shooters where there's a large room and you aim at targets, trying to get this or that to move, light up, make sounds, etc.  There's one tucked away in Frontierland at Disneyland (hint: shooting at the Bank at night is really fun.)  The one at Excalibur, obviously, has a medieval theme.

Growing up I've always been a really good shot.  While exploring Excalibur, my entire family lined up at the Ancient Electronic Crossbow counter, deposited quarters, and had some fun.  I noticed that I was getting quite a high score, but paid no mind.

Suddenly there were trumpets, and around the corner came a caravan of medieval clad knights, maidens, servants, and the King and Queen.  The King then spoke in a strong voice, asking who the brave knight was that got so-and-so score (I can no longer remember said score), and when I looked up at my station I realized it was me.  Me!  And suddenly I became the center of attention when King Arthur (I assume that's who he was playing) presented me was a certificate, a "Here Ye, Here Ye," and said I was to be called "Sir" within the castle walls.

I wish the memory was clearer.  It's a little foggy now, and I vaguely remember heading towards the sound of the procession before running back to tell my parents what I saw, but it's one of those memories I'll never forget.  I really wonder if they knew a kid scored that high, and it was something they only did for kids.  How often did they award certificates with a medieval procession?  Do they still give out this certificate?  Do the crossbows still exist in the Excalibur basement?

Regardless, it was really, really cool.

Monday, March 9, 2015

My 2015 Odyssey of the Mind Crazy Hat

It's my Pirate Princess Cowgirl Hat!  Many years ago I bought this red beauty at the Pirates of the Caribbean store in Disneyland Park.  The "Pirate Princess" lettering is unfortunately hard to read, but I still find it pretty funny.

What is Odyssey of the Mind?  It's an incredible program that promotes students to be creative and think outside the box.  And there are 5 creative categories students can participate/compete in: Vehicles, Technical, Classics, Structure, and Theatrics.  There's great information on the OotM (short for Odyssey of the Mind) website that goes into further detail.

This last weekend was judges training for the Utah State OotM competition, which is being held at the end of March.  Our state is still small in the organization, so there are no regional competitions, and this year we've invited Idaho teams to compete with us! (Utah and Idaho teams are not competing against each other).  And there's a chance in the next year or two Wyoming teams will come and compete in Park City Utah as well.

As the problem 5 problem captain I trained the Theatrics judges for "Silent Movie," the name of our long term problem this year.  It's such a fun problem!  You can read the synopsis here.

All judges are encouraged to wear a crazy hat while they judge, it's something fun for the kids to see, and it allows us to be a little silly.  All Omer's are silly!  So I brought my new crazy hat to show the judges.

 I took my pirate princess cowgirl hat and attached some of my favorite 2014 pins from the World competition last year, and I found some pretty fake flowers to add a girly cute touch.

Some of my more favorite pins didn't make the hat because they didn't "look" right.  And I realized in hindsight that 3, Three, Virginia pins made the final cut!  But I'm happy with how it turned out.

 I still need to attach the flowers with embroidery thread, because they kept falling off during training.

 Proof that the base hat is official licensed Disney merchandise :0)

As a note, the only time I've seen this hat at Disneyland was about eight or so years ago, and have never seen it before or sense.  I visit Disneyland about once a year.  Maybe it didn't sell well?  Maybe people didn't get the humor?  They should totally sale this hat again.

My "Pigs Can Fly" crazy hat is lovingly being kept in my closet, but will not be permanently retired.  Kids seem to really like it, and I feel it embodies the OotM spirit, though I may end up creating a whole new hat next year!  I've got some more fun ideas :0)