Geeky Gadgets Galore on Pinterest

I found some really awesome Geeky Gadgets while whittling away the insomnia hours at bed time and decided to create a board reflecting such gadgetry. Clink on the link above or here to see all of them that I’ve found so far and follow if you are so inclined! Below are a few faves.

This gadget will show you the time, project your emails, texts, etc. It is called a Ritot: Projection Watch. I call it a bit creepy, Chris thinks it is insanely awesome. I suspect we are both right. Click on the link above or the picture below to link to the IndieGoGo site. Yes, that’s right. It’s still in development.  [via Buzzfeed]

creepy gadget

This little device lets you have flexibility in charging your phone iPhone. I think it would be cool to use in a car in order to see my directions better. Alas, I will never own one because I will never own an iPhone and my charging port sits pretty low on my car console. [via Mashable]

charger

You can customize a Whooz to look like yooz. Again only for the iDevice, gah. Geeky people like Androids too! Gasp. I know. [via Mashable]

whooz

Air Umbrella, it’s an umbrella of air. No more getting whacked in the face with a passer-by’s umbrella, no more inside out umbrellas, just air. I want this. [via Yanko Design]

air umbrella

But my favorite is this Tetris Stackable LED Desk Lamp on Think Geek which is totally cool! [via Laughing Squid]

tetris lamp

eBook Review: Dreamwalker

I recently joined NetGalley and received an eBook of Dreamwalker (The Red Dragon Academy Book 1) by Rhys Bowen and C.M. Broyles in exchange for an honest review.

dreamwalker 1

Summary from Amazon:

Seven Children, Seven Powers. One Enemy. Addy Walker is a normal California surfer girl until her mother dies and her British aunt enrolls her at a boarding school called Red Dragon Academy in Wales. At first the school seems okay, if a little weird. Which other school has a sun-day when it’s not raining? But when Addy stumbles upon a hallway that leads to a different and horrible part of the school she begins to have her doubts. Addy has always had vivid dreams but now these dreams are becoming frighteningly real and she has a hard time telling dreams from reality. Was it really only in a dream that she visited the cold palace and met the man who wants her captured? He calls her a dreamwalker and it seems that this is a special and dangerous power. Is Addy really able to move between two worlds or is she finally cracking up? Dreamwalker is the first book in the Red Dragon Academy series and in it we meet Addy, as well as snooty Pippa, brainy Raj, cheeky Sam, serious Coby, shy Gwyllum and worldly Celeste—all who may have been brought to the school because of their special powers. All of whom may be in mortal danger from a terrifying tyrant who calls himself The One, in a land that seems a lot like Wales, but isn’t.

Dreamwalker starts out with a great premise. Who doesn’t love schools full of magic and powers? The characters are all interesting and different, and I see a lot of promise in their abilities and friendships as the series grows. I was also fascinated that Addy’s power is one of dreamwalking since I have such vivid dreams myself. I easily related to how she felt when she realized that what she thought was something that really happened turned out to be her unconscious mind.

However, some of the promise I saw in the series was not realized in the story itself. I felt the pacing of the book was off, some parts moved extremely slow while the emotional aspects of some serious moments moved quickly with little development of Addy’s psyche. Addy finds out some things about her past that are quite shocking and would be devastating, especially to someone who has just lost their only support system. Yet she spends little time processing these things in anyway whatsoever, let alone in a constructive way. While I understand people have a perception of children as being resilient and teenagers as being closed mouthed when it comes to emotions, the inner turmoil is still there and that is something I did not see. Personally, I wish there had been more development of the emotional side of her character verses the adventures.

And the book is full of adventures. It has treasure hunts, haunted hallways, mysterious teachers, etc. I really did enjoy some of those scenes and moments that Addy has on her adventures. The premise and even the world building are well done. It is a decently written book except for some pacing and emotional character development. It is possible that these will be improved in the next book in a series, but I’m not sure I will read them to find out. While I felt a connection to Addy’s ability in dreamwalking, I didn’t feel a connection to Addy herself. Personally, I look for connections to the characters not just the world they live in. Overall, I think the story was interesting and it kept me reading despite some drawbacks. (This may have something to do with the fact that much of the explanation for things didn’t happen until I was ninety percent of the way through the book. Ninety percent!)

If you enjoy adventure stories about schools full of children with interesting abilities, you may find this book to your liking.

P,S. I know this is basically an ARC via NetGalley, but the formatting on my mobile device was severely lacking. I spent a goodly amount of my time trying to sus out who said what. I hope these formatting kinks are worked out for the people who pay to read the story.

Pallet Project: My New Coffee Table

Pinterest is great. It makes you long for things you’ll probably never get and put on your to-do list DIY projects that will never get done. That is unless you have an awesome significant other, like myself, who has carpentry skills and tools any Pinterest pinner would die for. I saw these cool posts about pallet coffee tables (inspiration 1 and inspiration 2) and my husband assured me that he could get a few pallets really cheap and could totally build me a coffee table. Then he actually did. It was awesome. It took us over ten hours to complete and that does not include that time we let it set outside to dry and air out from the clear coat. While he doesn’t do as much of it any more, Chris’ trade was painting and carpentry so we had access to a lot of cool gadgets that aided us in getting it done in one weekend.

We used three pallets. On one, we took off the bottom boards and used the top boards as our new bottom. Then we tore up boards from two other pallets. We used pallets that were made of different wood but still the same thickness so our table would be (somewhat) even. Taking the boards off of the other two pallets to use as our new table top was the hard part. Some of them split and we had to toss those boards to the side. Chris used a sawzaw to cut through the nails between the board and the frame in order to get the boards off of their original frames. We cut the boards down to the size of our first pallet.

cutting planks off pallet

Then we sanded every board on every side.

sanding the pallet

Table turned upside down. I’m sanding the bottom.

Then we clear coated the top of the bottom boards with poly.  We knew we were designing the piece so that the top of the bottom boards would become the bottom of shelves. I wanted to set books and other items on the shelves without fear of splinters or ruining book covers. Then we stained two of the top boards and the sides of the coffee table. I wanted the finished look to be non-uniform and still look like a pallet. I purposefully spaced the board so that they would not be flush with each other, I stained only two pieces on purpose, and chose different wood with different treatments to give our table a unique look. (There is some concern that because pallets are treated wood they should not be used indoors, since we sanded and coated our boards with a clear coat we are confident our table is fine to use indoors.)

stains and poly used

This is a picture of the stain and poly we used. I did not want a heavy look to the stain so Chris painted the stain on and then wiped off some of the stain with a towel to achieve the look I wanted. We added a Japan Drier to the clear coat so that it would dry quicker. However, this makes the remaining clear coat not usable afterward, so be sure to put it into a separate pail with your estimated usage before adding the Japan Drier. Also remember to apply both the stain and the clear coat in a well ventilated area while using gloves.

I saw "we" but Chris did most of the work. I helped when I could and took pictures to post on social media sites in between.

I saw “we” but Chris did most of the work. I helped when I could and took pictures to post on social media sites in between helping.

At the end of the first day we had our design,  all the boards cut to the correct length and placed (but not nailed down), the inside of the table clear coated, and specific pieces stained. We let it sit in a well ventilated area overnight.

end of the first day

The next morning we spent an hour at a hardware store configuring our leg frame design. This ended up being the most expensive part of the project as we used piping and that cost quite a bit (see inset in picture below). As this table is something we proudly made together and is supposed to last for more than a little amount of time, we decided to go for exactly what we wanted instead of making do with re-purposing another piece of furniture (our other idea for legs).

sanded pallet

Once we got back to our work space, we clear coated the actual bottom of the table (the bottom of the bottom boards) and set that aside to dry. We cleaned up the piping with a thinner and put our frame together. We used 1/2 inch piping for the legs and sides and 3/8 inch piping for the pipe running down the middle. Once the clear coat had dried we attached the pipe frame to the bottom of the pallet project and turned it over. Then we nailed the top boards down with a nail gun.

Since we had started the project by cutting our boards down to size, the cut off ends still had the original nails in them. We re-purposed the original nails as decorative detail by drilling a small hole and pounding the original nail head into place. These nails are not actually holding the boards down to the frame. We used a pin-nailer to attach the boards to the frame. We applied a coat of poly, let it dry, sanded the first coat, and then added a second coat of to the top boards and sides.

final images of pallet project

Theater Review: Pavlov’s Dogs Improv Comedy Show

Chris and I went to an improv show by Pavlov’s Dogs at the Dallas Comedy House. The show is called End of the Month and is an “improvised show that is built around things that happened earlier that month” on the news. Off to the side of the stage sits a TV screen with dated news headlines scrolling past. Chris pointed out that the headlines were still dated 2014 even though the headlines were centered around the upcoming 2015 Superbowl. While slightly distracting, I thought it added to the weirdness of the show. Everyone was instructed to fill out a slip of paper of something interesting that happened to them that month and then deposit it in a bucket on the stage.

pdogs

The show starts out as though the audience is watching a live news show. Headlines are pulled from the television screen to the left of the stage and the troupe members act as anchors and then proceed to act out the scenes. I really enjoyed the “bits” that the anchors were able to come up with on the spot, but the re-enactment of the news scenes made for a rough start to the show. Only when the troupe moved on to Detectives Barry and The Cobra did the show pick up speed and laughs. Playing off of TV tropes and bad cop/good cop routines Detective Barry and Detective The Cobra had the room erupting in laughter as they attempted to solve a murder.

The last game is one where the actors are gathered at the local watering hole to discuss their days as news anchors, detectives, and investigative reporters. During this time one member of the troupe begins to tell a story and then ends it by reading off the pieces of paper from the bucket. What would seemingly be disjointed turned into a hilarious comedy piece as the real “interesting” things that happened to members of the audience are distorted, re-enacted, and tied to earlier routines by the troupe.

While off to a rather slow and rough start, the troupe rallied as they continued to play their games on stage. I laughed really hard when the detectives where on stage and during a few of the watering hole pieces, and not just because I’d had two drinks and a bag of Skittles. Improv comedy may not be fun for everyone as it can include a lot of awkward moments, but occasionally it also results in laughing until you are in tears. In fact watching the troupe interact with each other and the audience, and listening as a room full of people gave themselves over to the moment with laughter and giggles made me long to get back into improv acting myself.

Audio Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I downloaded The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (as read by the author himself) via Audible with a free credit. I’m quite a fan of Gaiman, so when I was searching for an audio book I am always drawn to his stories and discovered this one.

ocean at the end of the lane

Summary from Audible:

Sussex, England: A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet sitting by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean), the unremembered past comes flooding back. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie – magical, comforting, wise beyond her years – promised to protect him, no matter what.

One of the reasons that I am constantly downloading audiobooks is that I like to listen to stories as I fall asleep at night as well as listen to them as I drive around town. I started The Ocean at the End of the Lane and immediately found myself drawn to this strange otherworldly tale, at times scary and intense, always imaginative and all consuming. But soon discovered this is not a good bed time story. I would lie there at night as Chris slept soundly beside me, wide awake staring at my phone to caught up in the story, too scared to stop the story, too frightened to keep going. I would pause it, try to drift off, then worried about the boy, sit up and start it again. Restless I started a different audiobook and drifted off to sleep within a matter of minutes.

This is not a book to try to fall asleep to.

Like his other stories, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is full of strange mythologies interwoven with such relatable characters that I was pulled into the story, sucked in, and had to fight to find my way out again. Though the main part of the story happens in a man’s past when he is quite young, it is not a story for children. At the same time, Gaiman is able to capture the voice of a young boy, reminding me of how I used to view the world, that I began to recall my own childhood, well, at least all the scary moments of growing up.

quote

As I’ve come to expect from Gaiman, his prose is wonderful and wonderfully read by himself. The pacing of Gaiman’s writing is beyond compare and I never step outside the story to wonder what will happen because I am always entranced by what is happening, in that moment. Some times so engulfed in the story that I can’t sleep. Gaiman has such an amazing talent for voice acting that I have come to love the stories he reads himself. Just the other day I was in a bookstore and discovered a book of his I have yet to read, but didn’t pick it up because I want to find out if it is an audiobook instead. My queue in Audible is full of books by Gaiman and I don’t see that discontinuing any time soon.

I realize that my review more describes my experience reading this book than what it is about, but as far as I can tell, this is the best way to review this book. For one, to describe the story would be to ruin the magic of the tale, anything more said than the blurb ruins the world building and character building that Gaiman worked hard to create. Secondly, I’m not alone in my experiential review of this book. Patrick Rothfuss’ own meandering love story about this book is more about his experience of reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane than a typical review.

This is a story to experience. So, go out there and find your experience. Buy a copy, listen to the audiobook, fall in love with Gaiman just a little bit more.

Pinterest Board: Aww Eetz Coooot (AKA All About My Cute Kittens)

I now have an obligatory cute kittens board up on Pinterest which I’ve named, Aww Eetz Coooot. You can check it out and follow if you are so included. Here are some of the pictures that I’ve found and pinned to my board. Because cute kittens make everyone happier (even people like myself who would never actually have a kitten in their house).

This one makes me go, “Bawww.”cute kitten 1

This one just makes me laugh.

kitten 2

For all you peeps dealing with snow, this makes it all better, right?

kitten 3

Book Quotes I Love

Clicking on the second and third pictures will take you to posts that have even more pictures of book quotes.

 

wilson quote