Lazy Sunday Binge Watch: Super Bowl 50

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Two posts today! I have so much to say!!! I couldn’t let a Sunday go by without talking about something to watch… I mean, I have let Sundays go by without giving you guys a pick for something to binge watch, but not today!

As anyone who lives in the United States could tell you, today is one of the biggest days in the sporting world: The Super Bowl. It’s the final championship game for American Football, and it’s kind of become a pretty big event here.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t really like sports. Unless it’s my hometown baseball team (Win Twins!!), and I am actually at the ballpark, I just don’t follow it. For some reason, I always watch the Super Bowl. I think maybe it’s because I used to watch it when I was younger, and it was kind of a fun day. My parents and I would make something delicious like chili, watch the game, and enjoy the hilarious commercials and fun half time shows. The commercials aren’t always that great anymore, and the half time show isn’t always that fun either, but it’s tradition. Many people throw huge parties, but my husband and I tend to stay home. We both like it that way, I think.

This year, we placed a bet on who would win so that we would be more invested in the outcome of the game. I am making a traditional Super Bowl food: pizza, but am putting our own little touch on it by making a pizza with Kale, Tomato, Pepperoni and Ricotta. Much healthier than the average pizza, I think!

The halftime show this year is Coldplay, who used to be my favorite band. I don’t really like their new music nearly as much as I used to, but I am still a little excited to see them perform and see how it goes. Last year’s halftime show was Katy Perry, and it was ok. People were focused more on the two people in shark costumes (anyone remember Left Shark?), than on her performance. So, I am pretty interested to see what kind of show Coldplay puts on today. If that doesn’t sound like a good time, Animal Planet has the Puppy Bowl, where you watch a bunch of puppies run around a pen, and it has a football theme, with a referee and all. During halftime, they bring out some kittens, which is also adorable. The point of the Puppy Bowl is to raise awareness on adopting dogs and cats, and it’s so cute. It’s also a really good alternative to the Super Bowl halftime show for those lucky people with cable tv.

I pay more attention to the commercials, which are sometimes pretty creative. Companies pay a lot of money to put their products front and center during the Super Bowl. Many times, the commercials are longer than normal, more awesome, and funny. Most of the commercials are for beer and trucks (since the intended audience of the Super Bowl are the people who drink beer and drive trucks). But, there are sometimes good commercials for other goods and services.

So, today, I’ll be curling up on the couch with my husband, cats, a drink and slice of pizza, and enjoying my first football game of the year.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Week in Podcasts: Somethings Old, Somethings New

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I had a super full week of podcasts this week! Work this week was pretty quiet, so I was able to focus on some data entry tasks, and I could listen to podcasts while I was doing it! There was also a big snowstorm on Tuesday, so I listened to podcasts during my long commutes. I’m so glad that there are so many great podcasts out there! It’s the perfect thing to listen to while driving and while doing work and chores.

To start off, I have talked about Serial before, and this week was a big week for Serial. Not only was there a new episode for Season 2, there was an update to Season 1! The episode for Season 2 was good, but I am still having a tough time getting hooked to it the same way I did to Season 1. I can’t decide what it is about Bowe Bergdahl’s story that is not as interesting as Adnan Syed’s, but it is kind of cool having a podcast about a case that is currently being decided, rather than one that was decided over a decade ago. This week’s episode is about why Bowe decided to abandon his post. It covered what he was planning on telling higher ups in the military, especially about the conditions that he and his fellow soldiers were living with. It was interesting hearing him and other soldiers discussing not only what their expectations of war were and how those expectations aligned with the reality they dealt with daily. There were some issues with the conditions, and I agree that those conditions should have been better, but many people are not sure that Bowe handled the situation correctly by leaving. I am going to have to keep listening, and maybe eventually I will have an opinion about what I think happened.

The update to Serial Season 1 has been really interesting. Adnan was given a hearing to determine whether or not his case should go back to trial, so host Sarah Koenig went to report on it. She covered what they were talking about in the hearing. There was a girl who came forward to be an alibi and did not testify in the original trial. They also discussed phone records, which used cell phone tower information to determine where Adnan was the day his ex-girlfriend went missing. Apparently, the evidence based on the cell phone towers, specifically information from incoming calls, is inadmissible evidence, because it is inaccurate. That was a huge piece of evidence used to prove Adnan guilty. The hearing is still going on, so Sarah Koenig will be doing updates occasionally to discuss what happens in the trial. I am so excited for more updates!

I also listened to an episode from Stuff Mom Never Told You called “Infertility’s Global Stigma”. As the title suggests, this episode talks about infertility and how it affects women all over the world. There is definitely a stigma around infertility, and it is not something that most people are open about. Often, and especially historically, women were blamed for infertility. Even though it is something that women should be open about, since it can be a huge struggle, so often women keep the struggle to themselves. The thing I love about this podcast is that they discussed how difficult it can be for healthy couples to get pregnant. People are taught that it is extremely easy to get pregnant, generally as a deterrent for becoming sexually active before being ready. It actually isn’t always that easy. Sure, there are some couples that have a very easy time getting pregnant. There are so many couples that struggle to get pregnant, however. Sometimes, it is a short-term issue, and sometimes it becomes obvious that some people will never get pregnant. As someone who may struggle with fertility due to PCOS, this episode really hit home for me. It was good to hear about other people’s struggles, and to know that it is something that no one needs to be ashamed of. It also made me hope that I do not have problems with fertility, I would really love to be a parent someday. This episode made me sad and hopeful, I commend the hosts for discussing the topic.

Next, I listened to a podcast that I have never heard before called CodeNewbie and I am so glad I found it. It’s mostly geared toward people who are new to code, it seems, but there is definitely something for everyone. The first episode includes an interview with Carlos Lazo, and talks about how he learned to code and got hired. One point made in the podcast that I am so glad they brought up is the fact that people who work in coding will always be learning, since the technology is always changing. I think that’s the thing I like about it so much. I love learning, and I love being in school, so working in an industry that is accepting of people who want to continue to learn and grow is very appealing to me. They also discussed how to interview for a job in the tech industry, which seem really scary. Not only do you have to do the standard interview where the prospective employer sees if they think you would fit in and have an idea of what you’ll be doing, but you also have to do a more technical part of the interview to show what you know. The advice that Carlos Lazo gave is to be honest in an interview about what you don’t know, but also make it clear that you’re willing to learn. This is a podcast I will definitely keep listening to, I love it!

Another new podcast I tried out this week is called The Station Wagon Podcast, which was actually recommended to me on Twitter by Marc, one of the hosts! This is a really interesting podcast, where a brother and sister duo give something up for two weeks, and talk about how it went! In the first episode, they give up sitting. That means that they stand at work, stand or squat at home, and only sit when commuting or when they had to (work meetings, etc). It was so interesting to hear how it went for them, and points where they wanted to give up. The funniest story of the podcast was a point where the other host, Julie, was at work. She had a meeting to attend, and was so excited for the rare opportunity to sit down. One of her coworkers told the person they were going to have the meeting with about Julie’s challenge. The person was super excited about her challenge, and told her she could absolutely stand through the meeting! How disappointing. I am so excited to listen to more of the episodes. I think that this podcast would be a good one for anyone to listen to. It’s not super technical, and is interesting, informative, but is also really fun!

Another podcast that was recommended to me was Developer Tea. By the title, you can see that this is also a podcast for people who work in web development. The cool thing about this podcast is that it’s a short-form podcast, which I am not very familiar with. I usually listen to podcasts that are around an hour long or more. The concept of this one is to have a podcast that someone could listen to while taking a tea or coffee break. I listened to the first two episodes. The first one was basically an introduction to the podcast and its host, Jonathan Cutrell. The second episode is about focus. This is something that I struggle with sometimes. It’s so easy to get distracted, especially at this point, when I am learning how to code. Focus is extremely important, in most of the things we do. A short discussion on focus, why it’s important, and how to increase focus was really helpful for me. I learned a little, and it made me think about my habits. This is a podcast that I am really excited to keep listening to.

I hope that you guys try out some of these podcasts, it’s awesome to support the people who make them, and learn things at the same time! Do you guys have any suggestions of podcasts I should try out? Let me know in the comments!

 

Lazy Sunday Binge Watch: The X-Files

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Today is the day that X-Files fans have been waiting for: the premiere of the new season is tonight! In preparation for the new season, my husband and I have been watching the important episodes to understand the X-Files mythology. We also watched the two movies. So, in honor of the new season, X-Files is my pick this week for Lazy Sunday binge watching!

X-Files started in 1993, and was a really successful show. I remember my family watching it when I was a kid, though I didn’t usually watch it with them. I usually thought it was too scary and was not interested in it, but there are some parts of the show that bring back memories of being a kid. While it was on tv, it benefitted from being a generally well-made and entertaining show, that kept peoples’ interest for almost 10 years. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it follows two FBI agents, as they work through cases considered part of the “x-files”, which are unsolved cases with paranormal aspects. Agent Fox Mulder, played by David Duchovny, is more of a believer in the paranormal, and thinks that there are things like aliens out there that have been to Earth. Agent Dana Scully, played by Gillian Anderson, is a skeptic who is assigned to work with Agent Mulder and discredit his work and theories. Over the course of the years, and all of the weird things they encounter, she becomes less of a skeptic, but in some ways, he becomes more of one.

This show is generally pretty dark, handling many story lines involving murders. It is often considered a thriller, and I definitely agree with that! There have been quite a few times where I have had to stop watching the show long before bed because it got a little scary. There have also been quite a few episodes that are riotously funny too, which is a great balance to the scary and dark episodes. This show can be hit-or-miss though when it comes to writing. There are tons of episodes that are really well written. There are episodes that definitely miss the mark, though. It seems to get worse in the later seasons.

There are two X-Files movies as well. I don’t really think that either of them are very well-written. The second one is cool because it takes place after the original run of the show ended, so we are able to see what happens to Agents Mulder and Scully after the show. It’s just not a great concept for a movie. It was also written during the writer’s strike in 2007-2008. So, that helps explain why it was so poorly written, though I don’t think that it would be a fantastic movie if it had been written when the Writers Guild of America wasn’t on strike.

I think that X-Files is a good show for people who like mysteries and thrillers. I don’t generally love thrillers, but the stories in this show are interesting enough to make it worth getting a little scared. If you are interested in watching the show, I would honestly suggest looking for lists of the best episodes online and watching those. Being able to watch the “greatest hits” is definitely worth it, and is a great way to be introduced to the show. The entire show is available to watch on Netflix. The movies are not streaming on Netflix right now, but we were able to get the first one from Netflix’s DVD service, and the second one was available through our library!

Hopefully the new season will be well-written and a great way to continue the story. I am anxiously waiting to watch it! Have a great week everybody!

Week in Podcasts: The Evil-ness of Technology and Winning Friends

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It’s the weekend! I hope that everyone is having a relaxing and lovely day! Also, I hope my US east coast readers are all staying safe and warm after a pretty crazy Minnesota-style blizzard! So far, I’ve talked to my mom, turned on my new essential oil diffuser with bergamot oil, had a delicious cup of coffee from my Nespresso, worked on coding, watched something for tomorrow’s Lazy Sunday Binge Watch post and cuddled with my adorable cats! I would say that’s the start of a successful Saturday!

This week, I listened to some awesome podcasts, and I would like to tell you all about a few of them!

This week, I listened to two episodes of CodeBreaker. In case you didn’t read my last post about podcasts, I talk about CodeBreaker. It is a podcast with a theme of talking about different aspects of technology and whether or not it is evil. I think that’s such an interesting topic, and I’m happy to say that it has definitely kept my attention through more episodes. The first one that I listened to this week is about the Dark Web. Basically, the Dark Web is a part of the internet that the average person does not access. It offers anonymity to people who choose to go there. It has been home to some illegal activity, such as black markets selling weapons and drugs. Even though it gets a reputation for being evil, this episode did show that it might not be evil by definition, it becomes evil when it’s used for evil purposes. There was one part of the story about a couple that turned to the dark web to buy prescription drugs that the woman needs to live. The drugs were so expensive that they were not able to pay for them, without being unable to pay for other important things like food or electricity. The issue of not being able to get essential medicine is not really the point of this post, but it’s really sad that some people are in positions where they can’t. The point of the podcast was that there could be times where using the dark web, even for illegal activities, is perhaps not evil.

The second episode of CodeBreaker was also really awesome. It was about software updates: are they evil? I honestly have had bad experiences with software updates, so I was really interested to see what the podcast had to say about it. They told one really interesting story about the International Space Station, and how it got a faulty software update, which made it difficult for them to communicate with earth. It is amazing to think that one tiny mistake in software coding could cause such a huge piece of technology to not function properly. The second really interesting story was about people who have pacemakers. There was a malfunction in some peoples’ pacemakers that caused them to shock the person after the wires attached to their heart got loose. Not only would that be painful, it could also be deadly. In order to fix this, a software update was sent out to people with the affected pacemakers so that their pacemaker would start beeping if the wires got loose and the person needed surgery. That is a time when a software update has definitely saved lives. So far, I think this has been my favorite episode of CodeBreaker, and I am really excited to listen to more!

I also listened to an episode of This American Life called How to Win Friends and Influence People, and all of the stories related to friendship in some way. There was a really fantastic story by Paul Feig, who is pretty well known writer. It is about how his dad didn’t think that he had friends, so he made Paul read How to Win Friends and Influence People in order to get more friends. It didn’t really work out well. There was also a story by David Sedaris, who is one of my favorite authors, about the popular kids in school, and what happened when one of them hit David in the mouth with a rock. He is hilarious, and so good at telling a story, so that was a really fun segment to listen to. There was also a really sad story about a guy who lost his wife in a car accident. After that, he started dressing up like a superhero whenever he got the chance. He kind of became a local celebrity, which was really interesting. He took the chance to live life to the fullest, which was inspiring.

I didn’t have much time to listen to podcasts this week, but the ones I did listen to were really fantastic!

Let’s chat!
Do you have any podcasts that you have been listening to? Have any of you listened to any of my recommendations?

Have a happy Saturday!

 

Deep Thoughts Thursday: A Feminist Marriage

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This week, I wrote an email to the hosts of one of my favorite podcasts, Stuff Mom Never Told You (or SMNTY for short). I have never written to the host of a podcast before, so this was new for me! I usually only share my opinions with people I know or here on the blog. This time, however, I really felt the need to voice my opinion. For the last week, I’ve been drafting an email that I actually sent.

I have been listening to SMNTY for the last 2-3 years. It covers all kinds of topics of interest for women. They discuss these topics from a feminist viewpoint, and I definitely don’t have a problem with this. They have talked about topics like current issues (abortion, health care), history (hysterical pregnancy, fashion, makeup), and awesome lady role models (Margaret Mead, Judy Blume, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg). There were two related episodes that caused me to write to the hosts. The episodes, “A Practical Wedding” and “A Feminist Marriage”, featured a guest, Meg Keene. She started the site A Practical Wedding, which features posts about wedding ideas that are a little more down to earth.

During the two episodes, they discussed all kind of topics related to weddings and marriage. This included ways to have budget wedding that is still classy, avoiding patriarchal wedding traditions, pre-marital counseling and splitting household chores. I thought that they were really interesting episodes! There was, however, a point that I did not agree with. In fact, I didn’t agree with it to the point that I needed to write a letter about it. At one point during the episode about having a feminist marriage, Meg Keene made a point that when feminists get married, they should keep their own last name, and not take their husband’s. They also said that kids should take their mom’s last name, not their dad’s. While I agree that women should have the option to keep their name when they get married, and there should not be so much pressure for women to change their names, I also think that women can be feminists and change their name when they get married. The same goes for whether or not kids take their dad’s last name or their mom’s. It’s really up to the parents to make that decision, and I don’t think either decision is inherently wrong.

Instead of trying to recreate what I said in the email, I am just going to repost it here:

Hey Cristen and Caroline!

I have been a dedicated SMNTY podcast listener for a few years, but this is my first time writing in! Hurray!

I recently listened to your “A Practical Wedding” and “A Feminist Marriage” episodes with Meg Keene. For the most part, they were awesome! I have been married for a little over three years, and had a rather “practical” wedding myself. I really enjoy being married (it doesn’t hurt that my husband also likes SMNTY), and I would consider our marriage a feminist one.

The one issue I had with thise episodes was when you were discussing the woman taking her husband’s name. It felt like the message was, “No feminist should ever take her husband’s last name, and their kids need to have the woman’s last name. If this isn’t the case, you do NOT have a feminist marriage”.

I wholeheartedly disagree! I have a unique perspective on last names because I am on my third one (my step-dad adopted me when I was in high school). My husband and I discussed the name issue at length. He would have been happy no matter what I chose to do. I am a feminist, and I chose to take my husband’s last name. Not because I felt pressure to do so, but because I like his name. I also like that we have a common family identity. I never feel like his property, or like I am any less of a person. I also don’t feel like I gave up any of my identity by changing my name. I have no regrets about my decision.

In some ways, it felt like Meg Keene (and by extension SMNTY) was shaming women who had made the decision to change their last name. We are, of course, entitled to our own opinions, but as feminists we should be building each other up. All feminists, but especially those in influential positions, should be careful not to shame and police the actions of other feminists, just like we expect others to not shame and police us. Aren’t we all supposed to be working together toward a common goal? Shouldn’t we be empowering each other, rather than alienating those we may not agree with? If we spend our time belittling each other for decisions that are, frankly, personal, that is taking time and energy away from fighting against more pervasive patriarchal aspects of society. If being a feminist means demeaning, judging and shaming others, I am ashamed and offended. I am also then, not a feminist.

I really hope this was not the point you were trying to make. Asking people to think about traditions, biases and decisions is one thing, shaming them is another.

Thank you for continuing to make such an important, influential, funny and rad podcast! Even when I don’t agree with something on the podcast, I have nothing but love for you!

I think I get the point that Meg Keene (and the podcast in general) is trying to make: it’s important for people to be aware of ways to bring women up, in order to be on more of an equal footing with their male counterparts. I think that it’s important to look at traditions that may be perpetuating patriarchal attitudes, and try to find ways to stop those attitudes. As I said in the email, however, I don’t think that shaming others is a way to achieve this goal. Alienating others doesn’t really seem like it would be beneficial to feminists. As a feminist, I considered not changing my last name after I got married. I liked my pre-married name. I also like my married last name. We ultimately decided it would be less complicated and confusing if we had the same last name. We liked the idea of having a common family identity, not just for the two of us, but also for any kids we have in the future. I don’t feel like I lost my pre-married identity by changing my last name. I don’t think that identities are attached to names like that. I think that people should be able to make decisions that are right for them, especially when those decisions don’t really affect other people.

I’m glad that I wrote to them, even if they never respond or read the letter in a future episode. It was something that I was dwelling on, and over the course of a few days, I decided that the best thing that I could do would be to give my perspective on it. I’m glad I was able to get that off my chest and show that a feminist marriage cannot fit into a little box – just like all marriages, every one is a little different.

Review: The Honest Company Deodorant

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One of my goals in becoming an adult is to try to limit the amount of chemicals I put in and on my body, along with the chemicals I use around the house. A few years ago, I heard that babies are being born with about 200 chemicals in their bodies. There isn’t really any indication yet what this means, if anything. Will it increase the risk of cancers or other health problems? But, even without knowing if it is going to cause issues, I just feel like it can’t hurt to limit the amount of chemicals that any future kids I have are exposed to. Besides, I think it’s got to be healthier for me and my family in general.

So, while looking for alternatives for beauty products, I found The Honest Company‘s spray on deodorant! And I have to tell you, I was skeptical at first. I have been using anti-perspirant for years. So, the thought of using a product that would not stop me from sweating did not sound appealing. After researching the product, however, I decided to give it a try!

A little background: The Honest Company was founded by actress Jessica Alba. When she became a mom, she was frustrated at not being able to find products that were effective and safe. She partnered with another new parent, Christopher Gavigan, to make products for baby, health and home that are free from hazardous chemicals, and The Honest Company was created!

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Their deodorant is aluminum-free, and uses essential oils and botanical extracts to eliminate odor. The thing I love most about it is that it doesn’t leave behind any kind of residue (like those lovely deodorant marks I used to get on dark shirts all the time… boo!), and it completely soaks into my skin, so it’s not sticky or gross feeling at all! It comes in three scents: Bergamot Sage, Lavender Vanilla, and the one I chose: Vetiver. The nice thing about the scents is that they are not overly strong or feminine. My husband has used the Honest deodorant, and it doesn’t smell weird or “girly”, but it also doesn’t smell like I am using his deodorant either! I love how it smells, refreshing and clean, but not too strong. It makes my skin feel really soft, which is fantastic!

I have to say, I am still not quite used to the lack of anti-perspirant. It’s not terrible, it just is going to take some getting used to. That is really the only negative I have about the product, though. I would highly recommend it if you’re looking for an affordable, effective and chemical-free product!

Please note: I was not paid for my review, nor am I affiliated with The Honest Company. I simply wanted to let you all know about an awesome product I love!