Friday, September 30, 2011

September 30th, outsourced

(Hi. We're back to normal with the blog format, with some slight stylistic changes. You can always return to Dynamic View by typing "/view/magazine" after the URL.)

Best. Simpsons Clips. Ever. According to Wired, anyway. I agree that they caught some of the best moments, but they lost me somewhere around Season 22.

Sometimes I remember my own experiences being spied upon in Russia and wonder if perhaps Jeremy and I and our embassy colleagues were all just imagining things. Nah, it was totally real. [HT Steve]

Read this article about Why I Want a Wife (written by a wife) and laugh at how far we've come. Or realize how much it matches your own life, whatever. [HT FMH]

I bookmarked this article about The Last Tourist in Syria a few months ago, but I was too sad to post it. I'm still sad, but things are not looking up so I'm going to post it anyway. Reading the author's experiences reminded me so much of our own - a lot has changed since we were there last year, but then again, a lot has remained the same.

In case you're thinking of getting a PhD, take a look at this infographic and maybe think again. I would say that Jeremy was lucky to make it through, except that there wasn't anything lucky about it - just a lot of old-fashioned hard work and sacrifice.

Everyone here is talking about the terrible tragedy that occurred in Dubai the other day when a mother and son died after separate falls from the same open eighth-floor window. They are also talking about the grotesquely unnecessary diagram that accompanied the Gulf News article describing the incident.

Finally, we have crap at my parents' house, which I really could have used about three years ago. [HT Suzanne]


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Changes

Sometimes I think Blogger knows what's going on in my mind, because once again, just as I was getting sick of my blog layout, they rolled out a new option: Dynamic Views. I'm trying it out today to see how I like it. I definitely like the potential - some of the new formats are better suited to certain kinds of blogs, and I like how the default view I've chosen - Magazine - allows for more content to be displayed in a cleaner, less clicky format.

However, I'm experiencing some qualms about the new Dynamic View. For example, despite Blogger's assertion that we can add a custom header image, I have yet to figure out how the heck to do so. Also, I'm not sure I like the fact that no sidebar content, AT ALL, is allowed. Perhaps this is something they'll work in to a future release? I did think my sidebar was cluttered in the old format but I don't think it was necessary to reduce it to absolute zero, as Dynamic View forces you to do.

A minor grievance is that private blogs are not allowed to switch to Dynamic View, which means that the (private) photo-centric blogs I run for my kids can't take advantage of the lovely lovely lovely Flipcard template. Again, perhaps that will come soon.

I miss the LinkWithin widget, that suggested You Might Also Like posts after each entry.

Is anyone else trying this? What do you love and hate? If Blogger doesn't roll out some key customizations soon (mostly in the form of some kind of sidebar allowance) then I think I'll switch back. Still, it's been fun to take Dynamic View out for a ride.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The bus guardian

This is our setup most mornings: Miriam waiting for the bus; Magdalena supervising the process. Since all the kids on our street go to different schools, and since a private school's bus stop = your front door, there is quite the procession of buses driving by our house every morning, starting at about 6.40am. We're not often outside early enough to see that one go by, but we usually manage to see the rest.

So even though none of the neighbor kids technically share a bus stop, they sometimes end up hanging out together until the buses collect them, one by one. And Magdalena is there to watch it all go down.

Even after Miriam leaves, Magdalena is loath to come inside for fear of missing someone's bus. When she hears the rumble of an approaching engine, she runs back outside to see whose it is, and then reports the information to me.

Poor thing - she pined to go to school all of last year. Now that she finally gets to go to school, she's looking forward to taking the bus some day, just like all the big kids in the neighborhood. It's a great consolation that she enjoys walking to school, which we've done the past few mornings. She walks the whole way with a spring in her step, wearing her backpack like anything.

In the afternoons, Magdalena will drop whatever she's doing to run outside and welcome Miriam as she gets off the bus.

I'm glad someone is keeping the neighborhood bus drivers on their toes, even if that someone happens to be all of three years old.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Pork Room

I'll tell you what: I should complain more about food I have a hard time finding here. I wrote about Mexican food a while back and within three days of that post, I had been gifted no fewer than four cans of black beans, courtesy of two savvy friends who kept a clear eye at the Mirdif Spinney's.


These black beans have revolutionized the last two weeks of dinners at the Palmer house. Tonight, we're feasting upon them again in this recipe, accompanied by homemade cilantro-lime dressing and homemade pico de gallo.

Friday, September 23, 2011

September 23rd, outsourced

Compare and contrast: Sesame Street teaching the letter G in the 1970s, and Sesame Street teaching the letter G in the 2010s.

No really, how many continents are there? [via BCC, via this delightful podcast featuring Ken Jennings]

I took a look at the 5-inch floppy disk on the Museum of Obsolete Objects and the images and sounds brought back a flood of memories of playing Carmen Sandiego and F-15 Strike Eagle or whatever it was called. [via OSC]

No matter how well behaved your children are in the car, I promise you've had this happen to you.

My friend Jen sent me a link to Flowing Data. They collect pretty pictures/graphs/data plots that teach and tell us so many interesting things. Love it. For example, look at the progression of Crayola crayon colors.

Susanne pointed out this video last week, namely that Russia has a few James Bonds running its government, while we have, well...

I reserve the right to write a longer blog post about this article sometime soon, but in the meantime, please read it: My Family's Experiment in Extreme Schooling. It blew my mind even as it reassured me that we are not the only weirdos out there who buck the trend of sending our kids to the mainstream expat school.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Here's how shaping up is going.

It's been five months since a nurse told me I "had too much fat," which prompted me to take a hard look at my eating habits. I made some changes back then, namely that treats (homemade) were allowed on only one day a week (I chose Friday, our Sabbath). That was a great strategy to cut down on the amount of sweets I ingested/inhaled, and I haven't regretted it for a moment. I look forward to Friday each week and I'm always fantasizing about what I'm going to make for my once-a-week indulgence.

Even though the nurse's harsh words were what motivated me at first, eating fewer goodies was something I already knew I needed to do, and not even for weight management reasons. So when I didn't lose a lot of weight, it wasn't a big deal. I figured that the balance of fat and muscle in my body was finding a better equilibrium, and that was fine, since that - and not a specific number on the scale - was what the nurse had been trying to tell me anyway.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Election Day

The UAE is holding parliamentary elections on Sunday. For the past few weeks, candidate campaign posters have been popping up everywhere. Almost without exception, these posters feature the male candidates in kandura/keffiyeh, looking very imposing; and the women candidates in hijab, looking very austere. There are so many of these posters around that it's getting to be quite distracting. It's not only that we have to look at them everywhere we go, but one time I saw a poster blow into the road and bring traffic to a sudden, screeching halt.

 For a long time, I thought this tent was going to be an election polling station. Then it got a campaign advertisement plastered all over it, so I don't think so anymore. I've highlighted the other election posters in this picture with a orange - click to enlarge.

Another sample of the posters on offer, also highlighted in orange. For you, dear readers, I drove through this intersection a couple of times to see which view would give me the most impressive array of campaign posters. This was the best I could do without falling victim to a crazy roundabout (don't worry, I pulled over to the side of the road to take it).

Here's one of the female candidates. Her poster is all over the place. As far as I can tell, she has only one other major female contender, judging solely by the number of posters, mind you. I'm sure there are more on the ballots.

Enjoying the quirks of the election posters is about as close to voting as I can come, seeing as I am a member of the huddled, unenfranchised masses living in the UAE. If I had to choose one candidate based on his/her poster, I would choose Miss 641 seen above. The end.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Flat tire

This happened about a month ago, during Ramadan, but for some reason I haven't blogged about it yet. We came out of Spinney's on King Faisal Road and got in the car to drive away. Just as I was about to pull out of our parallel parking spot, a man walking by pointed to our front tire and said it was flat. Sure enough:


Now, here's how you know we've lived in the Middle East for a while: when the man who alerted us to the presence of the flat tire offered to change it for us, we smiled and said sure, how nice! That is just how people are here. If this were Russia, we would have immediately been suspicious and kept a clear eye for goons or henchmen appearing out of nowhere with some nefarious scheme.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The end of an era

In many ways, yesterday was my last day of being a SAHM. I was already some kind of freak hybrid SAHM, what with my graduate studies and my work-from-home job. But today, the balance shifted: Magdalena started school.


They run on the British system here, so KG1, as they call it, is the natural (though not compulsory) entry point for a 3-year-old. Magdalena has been waiting for this day for months and months - I don't know that I've ever seen a child as READY for school as she was this morning. She knows the drill from watching Miriam, of course. That's how it is for a younger child. They grow up faster than the older child, in some ways, just because they know what's out there.

Now that both of my children are going to school every day, you might think I'd get down to the business of eating bon-bons on the couch while watching soap operas already. (Hahahahaha, because actually, I've never met a single SAHM mom who does that.)

To be honest, I wish I had maybe a few weeks to do that - well, not that, but something like reading books and catching up on all the British period dramas I've missed and organizing every cabinet in the kitchen and maybe taking a nap every once in a while.

However, guess who else starts school today? Me. Well, technically I don't have class until Tuesday, but in the meantime there are books to buy and tuition to deal with and I got a fellowship so I have to figure out how to work those hours into my schedule and oh, also I might teach a class this semester. So just as the heavy-duty mothering tasks are somewhat reduced, the other aspects of my life are ramping up.

It's the very definition of bittersweet. I knew the day where I sent my youngest child off to school would come, but it wasn't until very recently that I realized it was coming now. That at this very moment, some one else is taking care of and teaching my precious children, even as other people - adults, colleagues - are asking for my help and hard work, and paying me for it.

So, yeah. Bittersweet. People always talk about the "seasons of life" and I feel like maybe the leaves are starting to change color at last.

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 16th, outsourced

It is a fact that Jeremy was not aware that I ever, uh, passed gas until well, well after we were married. So this video made me laugh, A LOT. [HT Jeremy]

I was flipping through the comments on this fabulous recipe for homemade oreos and I came across this gem. If you've ever read food blog comments, you know all the pretentious substitutions and adjustments people brag about making. It took me until the end to realize that this particular comment was a fake. Hilarious.

I used to watch beauty pageants all the time when I was a kid, so I enjoyed catching up with Miss USA's really subtle national costume!

Remember how I told you that our beef comes from Australia, New Zealand, or Brazil? I always feel a little guilty buying meat from some place so far away. Maybe I shouldn't.

Check out these seriously amazing photographs of the earthquake/tsunami cleanup efforts in Japan. The before/after shots (you have to click the image to see the transition) are incredible.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, ACTION MAN.

This video has been making the rounds lately (my favorite moment is at 1:19), as well it should, because it is precious. It reminds me of this one from a few months ago. [HT Eric D. Snider]

I'll leave you with two long articles that freaked me right the heck out. The first one is about - stay with me here - the unusually large number of Hmong immigrants who die during their sleep, possibly due in part to their religious beliefs.

The second one is about the earthquake and tsunami that could someday hit the west coast. I grew up on stories like this, but that doesn't make the article any less terrifying to me. [HT Kathy]

Thursday, September 15, 2011

One year in the UAE

One year ago tonight, after 20-something hours of plane travel, our bedraggled family of four stumbled in through the front door of our new home in Sharjah. It took a while for us to break it in - and for the UAE to break us in - but it's been a splendid year. Take a brief look at some of the changes in our home (before is on the left, after is on the right, the views are (roughly) the same, I promise):

Just as we've warmed up our home with personal touches and rearranged it into a more functional living space, we've warmed ourselves up to living in the UAE and rearranged habits and expectations to maximize the daily value of living.

Happy UAE anniversary!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mexican food

Fruit: check. Cheese: check. Meat: check. How about Mexican food in the UAE?

Well, the pickings are slim. However, Mexican food is usually conspicuously absent in the Middle East, so while I recognize that the selection is poor, this is also the most Mexican food I've ever seen in a grocery store outside the United States.

You've got your various seasoning packets, none of which I've tried, and they cost anywhere from 50 cents to $1.50 each. The real gem of this picture is in the lower right corner - do you see it? Seasoned Black Beans in a mystery microwave pouch, for $2.50. The thing about black beans is that you can't get them here. You will never see them in a can (except in their adulterated fat-free refried form) or in a bag. I bought this microwaveable pouch for the first time this week so I could report my findings (and also because I miss black beans). Verdict: they're kinda gross. I think the "Mexican-style sauce" may be the culprit. I ate a few as-is and then rinsed the sauce off the rest to repurpose in a different recipe.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The first day

I was feeling a lot of anxiety in the days leading up to Miriam's first day of school. She went to KG2 last year, but it was at a small school located on campus. The feeling there was very friendly - no uniforms, and only one class per grade.

Compared to that, this year is the big time. Her school is KG1 - Year 6, with three or four classes per grade. The truth is that I don't know how to be the mom of a kid in a fancy international private school. On Saturday night, I could barely sleep for how nervous I was. I felt like I was starting a new job the next day, but it was one that I felt really unqualified to have.

At least we had the backpack dilemma squared away by that time. When we went shopping for a backpack, the selection looked something like this:
There wasn't a single plain backpack in the place - every backpack had some kind of character on it. I was hoping to avoid a branded backpack but it ended up that we didn't have that choice. So I let Miriam choose the one she wanted and it was a lovely Rapunzel (from Tangled) model. I could live with that - especially the concession she made to Hello Kitty by choosing that for her pencil case.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dear Miriam

I can't think of a better way to spend September 11th, 2011 than sending you off to your first day of school, as full of hope and excitement as we were of fear and confusion ten years ago.

Yesterday, I almost wanted to tell you about what happened that day. I almost called up the video on YouTube, the same way I call up videos of talking animals or favorite Sesame Street clips. But I thought better of it. After all, you're only six. There will be time for you to learn that horrible things can happen in the world.

Because that's what it felt like on 9/11. Before, I felt a general, basic sense of safety in my life as it was. After - it was different. It felt like anything could happen at any time, anywhere. People spent time guessing where would be next, until finally it came to the point where we all had to go back to living our lives as usual, a new usual, and accept that no amount of guessing could keep us safe.

Maybe I'll tell you next year. But I have a feeling that I won't. After all, you'll only be seven.

There will be time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We go swimming A LOT.

I had to buy the girls new swimsuits because their "old" ones (purchased five months ago) were trashed. I happened to find the exact same suits, and when I compared them to the old ones, I was shocked:


So, yeah. We go swimming A LOT.

(A friend of mine mentioned that she was going to pass on some hand-me-down swimsuits to us. I asked her how she ever ended up with used swimsuits that were in good condition, not completely worn out like ours. She said with a smile, "Well, for one thing, I don't let my girls roll in the mud in the backyard while wearing them." Touché.)

Friday, September 09, 2011

September 9th, outsourced

I haven't read every word of every entry, but The Atlantic's "What People Don't Get About My Job" is entertaining (and informative) reading.

Conflict History invites you to "browse the timeline of war and conflict across the globe." Don't mind if I do, thanks!

Via Bear Grylls' Twitter feed, I bring you EPIC FROG.

And via Ryan Van Duzer of Out of the Wild fame, I bring you Tour de Fat 2011. [HT Jeremy]

The headline says it all: one sperm donor, 150 offspring. Aye caramba. [HT Jeremy]

No, seriously, why are college textbooks so expensive?? [HT Lyse]

I didn't watch the whole thing but even a few minutes here and there is enough to convey the hilarity that is How Black People See White Culture. It's every filmstrip I ever watched in social studies class, reversed. [HT Andrew]

A Walgreen's pharmacist was fired a few months ago for shooting back at armed robbers, and now the pharmacist is suing (Walgreen's). Obviously we don't know all the details, but a single viewing of the video was enough to convince me that while he may have technically violated company policy, the dude was well within his rights to do what he did. Wow.

In 9/11 coverage, we have New York Magazine's riveting 9/11 Encyclopedia. The Atlantic brings us a collection of photos from the week before the attacks - just a general look at what was going on in New York City and the world. Finally, there is the comprehensive 9/11 Anniversary Reader by Foreign Policy.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Movie review: Jane Eyre (2011)

Consider this an addendum to this post about all the versions of Jane Austen movies and Jane Eyre ever (recently) made.

So, the new Jane Eyre. First, what were its strengths?

Well, it is very loyal to the book - shockingly so, considering it's only two hours long. I could definitely get behind the idea of Magneto as Mr. Rochester, though it took some getting used to. I like how the movie isn't afraid to portray St. John as the pompous jerk he kind of is, instead of a viable love interest. The scenes at the Reeds' house and at Lowood are spooky and oppressive - there is no Miss Temple here and Helen Burns hardly lightens the dark mood of the beginning of the movie. I didn't mind that diversion from the book. I thought it helped the movie be even a little scary, which actually ended up making it more like the book (even as its details technically strayed away from it during that part).

Now, for the weaknesses.

It is loyal to the book, but it is also a little perfunctory. You want a scene of Jane and Mr. Rochester engaging in witty repartee? Here you go. The requisite Blanche-ridiculing-governesses scene? Check. And so on. I know the movie had a lot to get through in two hours but it was rendered almost without care soon after Jane's arrival at Thornfield. Jane and Mr. Rochester have all of about two scenes together before she saves him from burning to death in his bed, and then we're supposed to be moved when they almost kiss? Sorry movie, you have to work harder than that, even if it IS Magneto we're talking about.

Also, the movie gives away the ending by treating the main story arc as a flashback. We know from the very beginning that Jane's marriage to Mr. Rochester has gone horribly wrong, and I didn't like having that suspense taken away from me. Part of the attraction of the book is that it lets you hope against hope that things are going to work out all right for poor Jane, which makes the disappointment of the never-wedding all the more bitter. Here, we had it handed it to us in the first five minutes and thereby rendered meaningless.

But I'm making it sound like I didn't enjoy the movie. I did. I will almost certainly enjoy any production of Jane Eyre to some degree. I was disappointed, though. My favorite version remains the 4-hour Masterpiece production from 2006, and that's the final verdict...

...until they make another one in a few years, right?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

MEAT.

We've done fruit prices and cheese prices. Anyone interested in meat prices in the UAE?

Before I begin, I should mention that you're not going to see any organic or grass-fed meats popping up in this post, because to my knowledge, they do not exist here. Neither will you see any pork products, for obvious reasons. You can get pork products in certain hidden sections of certain grocery stores, but I've never been to one yet so I don't know about their prices. I think I'll seek one out someday and do a post about "the pork room."

Onward. Let's start with the most egregious offender: lunchmeat. Would you believe me if I told you that 8 oz. of standard, unexciting, run-of-the-mill lunchmeat costs $7.80 (28 dhs)? Well, take a look:
Would you believe me if I told you that we never eat lunchmeat sandwiches here? It's true. I once bought some turkey bologna (just because dangit, sometimes you need a nice sandwich) for $5.40 (20 dhs). Maybe I will do that once a year. In the meantime, sometimes we eat bread and cheese with sliced cucumber to take the place of meat. It tastes pretty good.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Why I like Dreamland better than Atlantis

(Dreamland Aqua Park is in the emirate of Omm al-Qawain. Atlantis is in Dubai. Both are water parks. We went to Atlantis back in May and Dreamland today.)

1. There's not a whole lot going on in the boondocks of Omm al-Qawain. There was no traffic on the way to Dreamland since we were headed away from civilization. And there was no traffic on the way back because we didn't have to pass through the vicinity of Dubai. Win/win.

2. Dreamland was practically deserted. There were no lines for any of the kids' slides, and only minor lines for a couple of the bigger slides. There were plenty of tubes to go around, and there weren't kids splashing in your face every two feet as you tried to keep track of your kid among the hordes of little ones. Figure out the opposite of all of the above and you'll have the situation at Atlantis.

3. The admission price is much lower at Dreamland - maybe half as much as Atlantis? And lockers are free.

4. There are way more kids' attractions at Dreamland. We were able to move from area to area with the girls and so everything remained fresh. At Atlantis, there's really only the one play structure and while it is awesome, there's nowhere else for little kids to go.

5. It is easier to sneak outside food and drink into Dreamland. If, uh, someone wanted to do such a thing. Compare this to Atlantis, where we didn't know about the no food/drink rule and they made us haul our bag of snacks all the way back on the shuttle bus to the parking lot to our car.

6. Oh yeah, at Atlantis, you have to park some distance away from the festivities and then take a shuttle in.

All that said, Dreamland definitely had its weaknesses. It's quite the facility, but you can tell it's past its prime. The lazy river didn't work very well and one of the amazing kids' areas had pigeons roosting in a decorative volcano structure, which was disturbing. BUT. Dreamland had a random mini zoo, so. Sure, sure, Atlantis has a huge aquarium with sharks and other fish swimming among simulated ruins of the lost city, but Dreamland had hut cages containing deer, monkeys, peacocks, parrots, AND ponies. Right there in the middle of the water park.

I also have to say that if we were not friends with people who had actually been to Dreamland, I would have doubted its existence way out there in the middle of the desert. You literally drive through the middle of nowhere among camels and donkeys for 40 minutes and then boom: WATER PARK. I stood in one spot in the parking lot of Dreamland and took this picture looking one way:

and then the other:

Anyway, we had an awesome day at Dreamland and I'd definitely go there again. When visitors come, we can take them to Atlantis for the sheer "I'm on a palm-shaped island and this place is fancy, WHEE!" factor, but for our own enjoyment, Dreamland it is.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Happy sixth

I was playing around with Gmail's powerful search options the other day and I decided to take a peek at what was going on in my email life in the few days before and after Miriam's birth, six years ago today. It was almost like opening a time capsule - all the banalities and worries and excitements of those days brought back a wave of nostalgia. And honestly, not a lot of it was positive, besides the obvious fact of welcoming precious Miriam Damascus into our lives. I had a difficult, emotionally traumatic labor that stretched over 36 hours. Then Miriam didn't nurse for two days. My earliest emails to my parents in those first days talked about how I was unable to sleep. A lot of my memories of that time period are hazy, but I remember with crystal clarity being afraid to put Miriam down, not knowing how I could trust that she would be OK out of my arms. So I just held her as she slept and slept and didn't eat, and I stayed awake for what seemed like days and days (but was really just...days. Two and a half days, maybe?).

But in the time leading up to September 4, 2005, my emails to friends and family were about Hurricane Katrina, and settling in to our apartment in Tucson, and asking my brother if he ever listened to Gordon Lightfoot. The night of September 2, Jeremy and I watched Strictly Ballroom from our perch on the papa-san. After the movie was over, around midnight, I ate a bowl of oatmeal. Thank goodness, too, because that ended up being my last bite of food until sometime after 4.08pm on Sunday, September 4th.


ANYWAY. Happy birthday to Miriam! The poor girl didn't get much of a traditional little-kid birthday party, seeing as how school isn't in session yet and all her neighborhood friends are still out of town. So we bussed in some friends from church and our summer babysitter and called it good.

Now, I am not one of those amazing moms who throws amazing little-kid birthday parties. So in a way, I was glad that we were forced to go low-key due to the paucity of guests. Still, Miriam is six now and she's old enough to know when a birthday cake is special. So I tried to make this one special.
OK, so it's more off-white than white, and the ears are proportionally too small, and the bow is not quite in the right place, but dangit, that is Hello Kitty, and Miriam was thrilled.

My darling Miriam is six now, and honestly, I still don't know how I ever trust that she will be OK out of my arms. Fortunately, she still doesn't mind a good cuddle with me now and then. You should see her burrow in to a nice snuggle with me when she's sitting on my lap at church. I think she must have learned how to do it from watching a cat.

She's all about books and projects and drawing and (looking forward to) school these days. I can't wait to see what the next six years bring.

Friday, September 02, 2011

September 2nd, outsourced

Not that any of us who travel with small children will need to know, but here's an article about how to sleep on a plane. Granted, it spends most of its time lauding the people who possess such skills, but that is right and proper, since those people are to be envied by us all. [HT Sarah]

According to this man's story, it's harder than ever to be Egyptian and Christian.

I thought it was bad when we were selling our house in Tucson and my pink bathrobe was showing in one of the photos of the master bathroom. I had no idea how horrible it could really be.

This is officially the saddest/weirdest bank robbery story I have ever heard.

From The Atlantic, here's an article about why advertising works even when we think it doesn't. I appreciated the roundup of memorable commercials, even though I hadn't seen some of them before.

I have never played The Sims, ever, but I was enthralled, entertained, and moved by this story about two homeless Sims characters, written by the characters' engineer. [HT Anna Ray]

I read a few years ago about how eyebrows are more essential than eyes when it comes to facial recognition. Now we have Celebrities Without Eyebrows. AWESOME. [HT Jen]

Finally, here is Abraham Lincoln's Yelp review of Ford's Theatre. [HT Scotty]


Thursday, September 01, 2011

Mazes, psychopaths, terrorists, archaeologists, and Scrabble enthusiasts


The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)The Maze Runner by James Dashner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a GREAT read. I listened to it as an audiobook and the reader was fantastic. It reminded me quite a bit of LOST, in both good and bad ways. Good, because it was a really interesting story with lots of spooky, exciting action, but bad because it sometimes wanted to be bizarre just for the sake of it.


The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, #2)The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this one better than the first - 4.5 stars, and another seriously brilliant performance from the audiobook reader. Also, I read somewhere years ago that it's hardly possible to pull off a love triangle involving two women and a man. The Scorch Trials goes for it...and succeeds, to some degree. That said, I hate Teresa's guts and I hope she is eliminated in the next book. Mwahahahahahaha.

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