Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Thirtieth

The air conditioner has been out intermittently for the past couple of days, and finally seems to be fixed. I am so relieved... it's been so hot here. Last night it was 93 in the house and we had to sleep under wet sheets to stay cool. I've been feeling kind of out of sorts this week, and being super hot didn't help things, so I'm so happy it's fixed.

Scotty started work this week and is enjoying it so far even though there is a lot of training material to go through. He gets benefits starting tomorrow, so we have paperwork to do tonight, and he gets his first paycheck next week. I'm glad he's enjoying himself.

Loki is also doing well. With the air conditioner out, I had to fiddle with her basking area temperatures because it was getting way too hot. Today when it was fixed we were both at work all day and the basking temperature was set a bit low. So when I got home, she was super dark (she gets darker colored to try to warm herself up) and sitting on her basking rock glaring at me. I turned up the temperature and gave her some calcium-dusted peas and dead crickets and she's starting to warm up again, hanging out on the piece of wood up against her basking rock, watching me type.

She is really such a cool lizard. We have settled into the routine of giving her live crickets every Wednesday and Sunday along with her pellets and a variety of vegetables (leftovers from what we eat for dinner, basically) dusted with calcium. Every other day she just gets the pellets and veggies. Every morning when her light turns on I switch out her water and her food. She sleeps in her "tree," and has started to get so excited when I open the cage. She watches me lift the old food out and when I come back with the new food she just about jumps into the food dish. Then I feed her a bit from my hand, take her out for a bit and put her back in the cage directly in her food. They do really well with repetition, so I keep things the same as much as possible. The only thing I'm concerned about is she gobbles up the crickets and the veggies but doesn't seem to care for the pellets. She'll eat them, just not with the same gusto. Oh well, I'm sure she's fine.

Here's a few more Loki pictures:

In Scotty's hand.

You can't tell, but she's watching that cursor intently.

Right after attacking the cursor.

She's so funny.

Oh, and we went to breakfast and to see Toy Story 3 in IMAX 3D with the family this past weekend. It was pretty awesome, as you can tell:

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, by Philip Pullman

5 out of 5 stars
Total read in 2010 so far: 72
(Review also posted on my Goodreads profile here.)

Whenever I think about the Bible, I am always fascinated by the double nature of the book. You have sinners in the hand of an angry god along with gentle men who call children to their side. You have the Old Testament and the New Testament, the sometimes conflicting Gospels, the rules that outline simple faith.

In The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman has taken that duality and made it entirely physical. Rather than Jesus reflecting the sometimes conflicting nature of our own selves, Jesus is literally split into two men: Jesus and Christ. The resulting story retells the life of Jesus with a combination of the stories from the Bible and almost fairytale-like twists. It works whether you have read the Bible or not; as someone whose sole exposure to the book growing up was my Precious Moments Bible, I was able to enjoy it, while others who are more rigorous religious scholars may find themselves enjoying the subtle spins Pullman puts on the text just as much.

What I really liked about this was that it demystifies some of the Bible. By ripping Jesus into two, his actions become more accessible. By subtly providing plausible explanations for his miracles, the reader is left with more information than the Bible provides, and is given a more well-rounded view of the events as a whole. The language, too, is beautiful: a combination of Biblical style and fairytale storytelling, with wonderful imagery. So many of the familiar elements like doubting Thomas, Peter's denials, and Jesus' healing are present but not necessarily spelled out.

One that I will absolutely be coming back to.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Feed by Mira Grant

(Review also posted on my Goodreads profile here.)

Very slight spoilers for the mechanism of zombification in this review follow; it's nothing you won't learn in the first 50 pages or so.

I just looked at the date I started this book and realized that it took me 8 days to read this. It's a 600-page paperback, and I think the reason it took so long is just the sheer amount of information in it.

Obviously, the author did her homework. The world is well thought-out, internally consistent, and very realistic. It is, I think, a totally accurate representation of how the United States would be after decades of dealing with the constant threat of zombies. While the politics seemed kind of dumbed-down for this world, the military response, the characterization of the CDC, and the infrastructure of the world seemed solid. The zombies were adequately creepy with their fright factor enhanced by the fact that, basically, anybody who dies is going to become a zombie, so you are never really safe unless you are totally alone. That also led to interesting ramifications considering the death penalty and other political factors.

My problems with the novel lied in the characters. I found it difficult to take the protagonist and her companions seriously. Georgia, the main character, has a tendency to ramble on and repeat herself, even in the middle of action. At times, she would go on for a paragraph or two about what was going on, and then the text would continue, but I wasn't really thinking about that, because I was in the middle of a zombie attack, or something like that. Then why write it? The novel could have cut around 200 pages and not lost a thing. By the end of it, I still had little idea what any of the characters looked like, except that Georgia has brown eyes, and Buffy has blonde hair. And everyone, everyone, likes to talk a lot - in entire paragraphs at a time. If the characters were more lively, even if they rambled, this would've gotten another star.

The ending of this novel is a real gut-puncher. I stayed up a bit later than I normally would have just to finish it, and I have to say Mira Grant/Seanan MacGuire has some balls to do what she did in the end. It was really kind of great even if it was a total emotional roller-coaster. I just wish the previous 550 pages were as emotional and riveting as the last 50.

Tom Corbett, Space Cadet

On Tuesday, Scotty and I emptied out the last of our stuff from my mom's storage unit. What was in there was old - 4 or 5-year-old stuff from my old bedroom at my dad's house, and old books. Half of it all went to Goodwill, half of what remains went in another storage shed, and the rest is books, which I'm going through, getting ready to sell to Half-Price Books and Bookman's.

While I was sorting through the books last night, I found many books from my childhood. Babar and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, joke books and children's craft books. But what I was most excited to find was my great-grandpa's copy of Tom Corbett: Space Cadet.

It's a 1953 copy of the book, which is actually the fourth in the series, entitled The Space Pioneers. It follows Tom and his fellow Space Cadets on their adventures. It features Venus as filled with jungles, asteroids to be settled by enterprising young men from Pluto and Mars, and space pirates. In short, it is the best book in the world.

As I flipped through it, I could remember reading it, at my grandpa's house and at home. I had to be careful because it's old, but books back then were more solid, so it stood up to a ten-year-old tomboy's handling. Thinking back on it, my great-grandpa would have been 25 in 1953. This must have been for my grandmother or my great-uncle Lonnie as children. (Grandpa, is that right?) It's a wonderful book. And it's going to have its own little place of honor in my future home, unless you want it back, Grandpa!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wise words

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. - Eleanor Roosevelt

I need to remember Mrs. Roosevelt's wise words tonight.

I had an unfortunate interaction at work today. A patron refused my assistance because I am hearing impaired. I will write about it a bit more on Hearing Sparks, but it has been stuck in my mind since then, even though I am usually pretty good about leaving work at work and vice versa. As I wrote in my blog post (not yet published), though, "It upset me that this random person was calling my job skills into question and refusing to allow me to help him, even though I could easily have done so if he was only willing to speak in a normal tone of voice [...] It also upset me that one of the few times I chose to advocate for myself ended so badly."

Like any other job working with the public, sometimes bad apples come through. I know that 99% of the time, I could have said or done absolutely anything and it would have ended badly, due to the other person's emotional state, and the mental baggage they were carrying. Unfortunately, right in the moment, it's hard to remember that, and hard not to take a person's prejudices and grating nature personally.

What I have to remember is that nothing about myself has changed from this interaction. I am good at what I do. While I can continue being the best person I am, this person has to deal with their apparent emotional difficulties and difficulty dealing with other people every day of their life. It is their problem, not mine.

I am going to continue enjoying myself and I will put this out of my mind.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Won't you let me see you smile?

The sun is up, the sky is blue. It's beautiful, and so are you. -The Beatles

There were so many things about this weekend that said summer to me. From Beatles Rock Band to swimming to fajitas at my sister-in-law's house on Saturday evening, it all seemed so summery, so fresh and new. I may not love everything about summer, but I can't deny the infectious happiness that comes from it - as though every day has a hint of vacation about it and life is really worth living and enjoying to its fullest.

Maybe it's not just the fact that it's summer but because life is looking up, turning around. Scotty and I got him the business casual clothes he'll need for work, and in exactly a week he'll start at his new company. I actually really love this company: from the benefits, to the entire attitude, they seem like a place where somebody can build a career and feel happy about it. They help people, and they seem friendly and dedicated. Things may be a little wacky for awhile as we work out the best way to get both of us to work and back, but we'll work it out.

If he starts work at eight, it will mean getting to work 45-60 minutes early for me, but I don't mind. No one is there that early. The library is silent, and I can relax on the couch in the break room and get a solid half-hour or more of reading in while I have breakfast. Sometimes it actually takes what should be an inconvenience to show you how to take the time you need for yourself, I think.

I am happy, and confident. This summer is going to rock.

The wind is low. The birds will sing that you are part of everything. -The Beatles

Sunday, June 20, 2010

In-law approved Chicken Pot Pie

Scotty, his dad, and I made this chicken pot pie on Friday evening. It was incredibly delicious and I thought I would share the recipe. We made a few changes, which are in parentheses.

Deep Dish Chicken Pot Pie
Total time: 50 minutes
Total servings: 6

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces (we used precooked frozen chicken, nuked according to package directions)
1/4 cup italian dressing
4 oz cream cheese or neufchatel cheese
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup chicken broth (we doubled the broth since we added potatoes, could've used more)
1 package (10 oz) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 refrigerated pie crust (we used 2, top and bottom)
(we added cubed potato)
(we added spices)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cook chicken in dressing in large skillet on medium heat 2 min. Add cream/neufchatel cheese; cook and stir until melted. Add flour; mix well. Add broth and vegetables; simmer 5 min.

(Arrange pie crust in deep dish 10-inch pie plate.) Pour mixture into pie plate. Arrange pie crust over filling; flute edges. Cut four slits in crust to allow steam to escape.

Bake 30 min. or until crust is golden brown.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I've wanted a lizard for a couple years now, and for my 24th birthday on June 10th my mother-in-law gave me her blessing to buy one. (To be honest, when we move out, and the only person I have to ask about pets is Scotty, I fear our house will be overrun with cute little animals.) Scotty and I went to Petsmart, where a very nice staff member helped us pick out a colorful baby Bearded Dragon. I'd done my research, and we had a terrarium set up with his basking lamp, food and places to explore and hang out.

Unfortunately, that first Bearded Dragon passed away the day after we got him. We had just gotten back from buying some more items for his tank and found him dead inside of it. Nothing had seemed immediately wrong save the fact that he was just small and possibly stressed out. I was really sad. I'd looked forward to this for months only to have the poor Beardie get sick.

It took a day or two, but soon we were back in Petsmart, and a very funny and active Beardie caught my eye. We got her ("her" because that's how the Petsmart employee referred to her - she's too young to tell yet), and set her up in her tank. It was immediately easy to tell she is more healthy than the previous baby Beardie.

I have to say I just love her. I like all lizards, but she is a cutie. Bearded Dragons sleep at night and are active during the day (one of the things that makes them great for kids who might get bored with a nocturnal animal). Loki in particular goes to sleep as soon as her light turns off and wakes up as soon as it is on. She spends her days either basking or running from side to side in her cage and exploring everything. She likes green leaves and loves to stalk a marble she has in her tank, which will be removed when she is big enough to potentially swallow it. We are planning on buying crickets tomorrow for her to hunt, but everyday crickets are not feasible while we're living with in-laws and a dog so she gets pellets on other days.

Some pictures of Loki:

June Nineteenth

Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly. -Neil Gaiman

It's afternoon on a Saturday and I'm on break at work, thinking about how my weekend will go, looking forward to having the next two Saturdays off. It may be hot outside, but it's a day when I feel restless, when I would like to be anywhere but my desk. Settled in bed with a good book (currently reading Feed by Mira Grant), or sitting by the edge of the pool watching Cheyenne, my in-laws' dog, clown around in the water. Or even in my computer chair watching my new bearded dragon, Loki, run around like crazy from one side of her terrarium to the other.

Since I'm starting this blog, I guess I should give a bit of introduction. My name is Megan. I'm 24, and live in Arizona with my husband Scotty and Loki. We got married two years ago, and life has had its normal ups and downs since then. Right now, we live with my in-laws, as life begins to turn around a bit for us. Scotty has just been hired at a behavioral health company, doing web programming for them. We are saving up to buy our own home, and I wanted to start this blog to document life along the way.

You may have come here from my other blog, Hearing Sparks. That blog is a combination of my personal story of life with hearing loss as well as news and information about deafness. I have been deaf since I was four years old, with a progressive loss that has left me with deadened nerves in my ears. I wear hearing aids, and function just fine in life; like anyone else, I have my own challenges, and it's my hope that my blog has helped a few other people since I've started it.

I intend for this blog to be a little more personal (and probably updated less often). If you are a family member or friend visiting, welcome and I hope you enjoy this way of catching up on my life.