The musings of a girl who's a bit too eager to talk about anything and everything.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Read Books

2:38 PM Posted by Allie Wood , , , , 1 comment
Hey there!
Long time, no post.

I know, I know. I'm sorry. I've just been fairly busy recently because I love stressing myself out over stupid things. I've been totally slacking. But, I'm back and I bet you're just dying to read another one of my posts. Just kidding. I'm not that full of myself. Most of the time.

Today, I'm just going to be talking about why everyone should read books. I get so many people asking me why I read so much or what could possibly be so good about staring at pages with words on them all the time. I'm here to answer that question with one of my favorite things aside from books (and cats): A LIST. I know I normally do top 10, but I felt like mixing it up and doing a top 5. Here we go!

  • YOU CAN GAIN NEW KNOWLEDGE!
    • Every novel has new characters and new types of people, places, and experiences laced through the pages. You might read about a character that has a different religion, race, or gender than you do. It can open your eyes to that group of human's world view and you could find yourself learning a fact about a lifestyle you never even considered. This helps humanize groups of people you aren't around constantly or hear distant information about. Understanding other cultures, traditions, beliefs, etc., is becoming more and more important in today's day and age, where misinformation is thrown around like a football being used by a bunch of drunk buddies on Thanksgiving.
  • IT HELPS YOU TO ESCAPE!
    • Sometimes, there are things out there in the world or in your life you just want to get away from for a while. Novels are an amazing way to do that. They get you out of your own head and into a different world for a while. Maybe you'll get distracted by an unexpected dragon attack or you'll get super into the mystery of a "whodunnit" and you just can't stop until you find out who the culprit is. Every plot twist and every turn is a new way to let yourself be free of any worries that are surrounding you.
  • YOU CAN IMAGINE CHARACTERS EXACTLY HOW YOU WANT THEM!
    • Have you ever seen a character on a television show or movie and just thought to yourself, "That's not how the character should look," or "Her character is supposed to be Irish. Why is she talking in a British accent?" These questions don't arise very often when you're reading. The author usually gives a basic description of the character, but you are free to use your imagination in any fashion you want. Maybe the character is a war veteran and you just feel like he has a wicked scar on his chin. You can imagine him that way! Maybe you think the main character has a cute little pixie cut because you think it fits her personality. There is nothing stopping you from imagining them that way! Imagine to your heart's content!
  • IT CAN HELP YOU GAIN PERSPECTIVE!
    • Maybe you're like me and you have anxiety or you're really caught up in a problem and want some outside perspective in looking at your issues. Novels can help! I've read novels where the characters are going through a super tough time and it made me feel better about my slightly insignificant problem and look at it in a better way. I've seen characters complaining about very trivial things and it has helped me to realize that my problems, no matter how big or small, are valid. Try it out and see if it helps you, too!
  • THERE'S A GENRE OUT THERE FOR EVERYONE!
    • I've had so many people tell me they don't read because they're worried they won't find anything that they're interested in. HOW WRONG YOU ARE. I will admit, sometimes, you might have to do a little research to find a book that's up your alley, but I promise, you'll be able to find something that will entertain you. There's book about car racing, military operations, or biographies of your favorite celebrities and historical figures. There's book about dragons and elves, or risque romances, or nonfiction about events like wars or Woodstock. There's just about anything you could possibly think of out there. Go find it!


To wrap up, here's a picture of my bookshelf. I'm quite proud.
(Also, because these are all books that I bought, I want to say, you don't have to buy books! There are public libraries everywhere. Use them! Plus, the staff at libraries are super helpful and can help you find the types of books you want to read!)


“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” 
― George R.R. MartinA Dance with Dragons

Sunday, May 28, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Purgatory Road

11:51 AM Posted by Allie Wood , , , No comments
Well, hello there.

I'm currently extremely bored on watch and just finished a book the other day that I really didn't care for and just wanted to talk about it. So, I guess this will be my first book review on here. Maybe I'll make it a habit. Who knows? Either way, let's get started.


So, I read Purgatory Road by Samuel Parker a couple days ago.


It definitely was not my favorite.

Now, don't get me wrong. He's not a bad author. This book has a 3.80 average rating on Goodreads, which means a lot of people like him and his writing. I'm just not a huge fan of this particular book. This is his debut novel, so I'm not going to be judging him too much. Writing a novel is hard. I haven't even finished any of mine and he's been published, so obviously, he's definitely doing something right. I'm just going to be talking about why I wasn't a huge fan of this particular novel.

All of this is personal opinion. It's not meant to chastise the author in any fashion and it's also not meant to reflect anyone else's view on the novel aside from my own.

As an introduction to the book, I'll just put the blurb here to give a little insight into the novel. Also, I WILL be posting some spoilers, so if you actually want to read this novel, I would recommend not reading past the blurb below. (I'll put some asterisks below it so you know when to hit the little X button on your tab. I will also put some more asterisks at the end, after all my spoilers, if you want to read my conclusion.)


"When a day trip out of Las Vegas with his wife takes a turn for the worse, Jack is sure he has the ability to get them home. But he has driven into something far beyond reason.

Rescue comes in the form of a desert hermit, but hope fades as the couple comes to realize that the nomad has no intention of letting them leave. A chance encounter with a kidnapped runaway and her crazed abductor leads them all farther into the wilderness--and closer to the cold brutality that isolation brings.

At the edge of his sanity, Jack begins to learn that playing by another's rules may be the only way to survive.

In a voice that is as hypnotizing as a desert mirage, debut novelist Samuel Parker entices you down a treacherous road, where the forces of good and evil are as crushing as the Mojave heat."


* * * * * * * * * * * * 

Okay, to start out, looking back at this blurb that first got me really interested in reading this book, it honestly makes it seem like the story is going to be so much different. It makes it seem like the desert hermit is evil (not true) and that the kidnapped runaway is more pertinent to the story than she actually is. (She's honestly kind of just there in the story. She's considered a main character, but almost isn't treated as one. Her story becomes a mere side note.)

As for the story overall, I've got a few things to say.

The story itself starts of fairly interesting, then it just becomes slow and absolutely drags on. Most of the novel is just Jack, Laura, and Boots sitting around in Boots' trailer. There's only so many times I can read about someone getting themselves a glass of cold water from the pump before my eyes start drooping.  It was very lack luster for adventure. Sure, Jack almost dies from dehydration twice, and there's the fight scene at the end between Boots and Seth (which makes absolutely no sense,) and then there's a bunch of scenes with a spider than Seth apparently controls (also with no explanation) so there's adventure, I guess, but it all seems quite forced. There's absolutely no backstory for any of the characters. (Backstories make or break characters for me, and this broke it.)

The whole thing is honestly more confusing than it should be. You're supposed to end the book with less questions than when you started, not with more. I'm so full of questions that I desperately wanted answers for. It's really extremely frustrating.

Also, apparently, by reading other reviews of this book, I learned that Boots and Seth are supposed to be a sort of metaphor for God and the Devil, but ultimately, I think that area of their characters fell pretty short. Due to the fact that nothing was explained about them or their feud, or their motivations behind anything, the religious comparison just wasn't there. I can sort of where Boots could be considered being reminiscent of being God where he helps out these people in trouble as much as he can, but ultimately they have to save themselves, but again, it just falls flat. Seth has almost no comparison to Satan at all. Yeah, sure, he's evil and apparently has corrupted people into his evil ways in the past, but he doesn't have anything truly relating him to the concept of the Devil. Anyone who is evil can get into others' lives and teach them their ideology. Seth just seems to lack the true version of evil that the Devil is typically written to reflect. He almost seems like a bored criminal on house arrest, stuck in the desert outside of Las Vegas, doing whatever he can to pass the time than an omnipotent being keen on destroying the world. Also, Seth and Boots seem to have some sort of "deal" where Seth can do whatever he wants until Boots feels like he's overstepped his bounds. That doesn't seem like a good God/Satan comparison to me, because in almost every religion, God doesn't make deals with the Devil. But, that's just me. I could be wrong.



Anyway, I guess the next thing I would like to do is to talk about the characters. I haven't read a ton of book reviews with character breakdowns, but I'm going to do it anyway. These characters just seem so typical to me. It's like they've all been written before, just with different names, and slightly different settings. They're all just too two-dimensional to me.


LAURA

Laura is one of the main characters. She's Jack's wife. She spends most of the novel in a mental battle with herself over if she doesn't care what happens to her husband who never considers anyone other than himself or if she should be overly emotional and caring for him. She spends so much time complaining about the distance in their marriage, and how she has had to put aside her aspirations for him, and how Jack cares about no one but himself. She complains some more that she has been the passive wife for all these years, yet, only stands up for herself (if sarcastic comments even count as attempting to stand up foe herself) maybe two or three times at most. She talks about how she wants the "old Jack" back and how she naively thought the vacation to Las Vegas would somehow miraculously bring them closer together and fix their dying relationship. But, despite all her reservations with the relationship, she continuously runs back to him anytime he shows her any ounce of attention, and stays with him throughout the end of the book. It was honestly pretty boring to see and be able to tell that no matter what happened, she was going to stay with him.


JACK

I hate Jack, honestly. I normally don't flat out hate characters. I can usually find some ounce of a redeeming quality to change my view of a character from hatred to mere dislike, but Jack was ridiculous. He is so self-righteous. He yells at, gets annoyed by, and hates the person who SAVED HIM FROM DYING even though it was all Jack's fault that he drove them off into the desert and almost killed them both due to heat stroke and dehydration. He then becomes bitter, claiming Laura was going to hold the fact that he almost killed both of them for the rest of their lives. Um, that's the least you would deserve for almost being the cause of your wife's death, but yeah, go ahead and blame her for being a little upset about the fact that she ALMOST DIED BECAUSE OF YOU. He only thinks about what's best for him, never considering how his actions affect others. He literally leaves his wife in a trailer house with the "desert nomad," secretly in the middle of the night. because he thinks he knows best. I mean, he crawled out a window to do it, for heavens sake. He only goes back to save his wife that he claims to "love" only because Boots, the desert nomad, practically forces him to. There's nothing honorable or sweet about that. Of course, afterwards, he realizes the error of his ways and blah blah blah. He's just a terrible person.


BOOTS


Boots is probably the only character I like and that's honestly because he doesn't put up with Jack's bull crap attitude. I honestly cheered a little bit when Boots kicks Jack in the stomach for being an idiot. Boots is a mysterious old desert hermit that has an affinity for chewing tobacco. He lives in a trailer in the middle of nowhere, that also happens to be next to a small cemetery. (Ooooh, so mysterious and weird.) He also apparently only owns shirts with pearl buttons because it's mentioned probably about twenty separate times. You don't really find out anything about Boots other than that he moved out into the desert because he didn't care for society very much. Boots always seems to show up at just the right time to save someone, which is just a bit too cliché for me. Sometimes, I like to see the hero of the story not being right on time to be the hero of the hour. It gets old when you know that the person struggling is inevitably going to get rescued. You lose the suspense.

COLTEN

Colten is probably one of the least thought out villains I've ever read. He's greasy and has a temper. That's really all you get to know about him. You don't know why he likes killing. You don't know how many people he has killed. You don't know how he met the apparent overall villain named Seth. Nothing. He only officially kills two people in the novel. One is a random biker passing through the outskirts of Las Vegas, simply because he's pissed of that the runaway girl got away. The other is the cheery little police girl because she put together the pieces of who killed the random biker because she pulled him over for speeding. He's super impulsive and gets mad at everything. He didn't scare me or add to the intensity factor of the book at all. To me, he was just kind of an annoying fly that keeps buzzing around everything with no true purpose.

MOLLY

The story starts out talking about Molly. She's a seventeen-year-old, running away from overbearing parents, just like almost every other seventeen-year-old runaway, it seems. She's on her way to good old Los Angeles, also like every other teenage runaway does. She gets coerced by Colten in a diner, thinking he's going to drive her to a bus stop, (yeah, right, sure he is.) There's a couple scenes in the cave where she's being kept that she has a realization that she just wants to go home. Boots ends up getting her out of the cave and to his trailer with Laura and Jack. She talks to Laura once about her home and why she ran away. She ends up captured in the cave again later and reverts to being in a catatonic state immediately even though an hour before, she seemed super keen on fighting off Colten with Laura, but whatever. She ends up going back home to her parents, having a big come-to-Jesus moment, and all is well

SETH

Seth is just a really confusing character. I don't know what his point is. He's also odd because sometimes he's visible to all the characters, other times, only Colten can see and talk to him. Again, the fact that there was no explanation for who Seth was, what his powers even were, why he had them, and why he had Colten under his wing, really grated on my nerves. I'm a person who prefers having information, even if it's unnecessary, than having none at all. There's a certain point where attempting to leave out details for the mystery of the story just turns into confusion as to just what in the heck is going on, and unfortunately, this book had too much of the latter. Seth pops up at the most random times in the book, for no other reason than that he simply feels like it. Then, all of the sudden, he's got these major powers that control the "shadows" mentioned a few times throughout the book, and he has that fight scene with Boots that, again, has absolutely no explanation as to why it's happening.

RED

Red is the epitome of a small outskirt town sheriff. He is perfectly content sitting at the police station all day, doing nothing since nothing ever happens. His wife passed away ten years before the time the novel takes place. She's only mentioned once, I'm pretty sure. He apparently used to be an alcoholic and stopped shortly after his wife died. He almost ends up drinking again due to a death of one of his employees, just like any other recovered alcoholic seems to do in entertainment media. This alcoholism is also only mentioned once, even though it seems to be such a big deal because James, the other police officer Red works with, stares ominously at a bottle of whiskey that Red pulled out, indicating James knows alcohol used to be a huge issue for Red even though it had never been mentioned before.

PJ

PJ is the little female police officer, stationed on the outskirts of Las Vegas. She works with Red and James. It's mentioned that, although they both don't say it, she brightens the days of the two other police officers from the drab days that stretch on at the police station. You learn that her parents didn't want her to be a police officer, and she didn't graduate top of her class at the police academy, but that's pretty much all you ever get to know about her. She picks up on clues quickly, taking only about forty-five seconds to realize Colten was the one who killed the out-of-towner by dragging him with chains from his truck. (But he also handed her the driver's license of the missing man, so it wasn't terribly hard to fit the puzzle pieces together.) She gets killed immediately after figuring Colten out, which causes Red to almost fall back into his drinking rut. Personally, PJ was not in the book nearly enough and too little information was given about her to make her death a big deal to me. Red takes her death super hard, but I couldn't figure that out, either, simply because the friendly relationship between the two of them wasn't explored at all, so it felt awkward that he was so revenge-driven after her killing because there was no background.

JAMES

I'm honestly not sure if James even needs a mention. He's only in about three scenes for roughly thirty seconds max each time. It feels like he was only thrown in for about four sentences of dialogue that really had nothing to do with anything at all. The whole book could've done without him, really. The longest scene he's in is mostly just full of him staring apprehensively at a bottle of alcohol Red has put out on a table, apparently being wary of Red's previous alcohol problem that's apparently a huge deal but is only mentioned once in the entire novel.


* * * * * * * * * * * *


Overall, if you're looking for a solid suspense novel, I wouldn't bother reading this. There's too little information to keep up the suspense and the pace moves far too slowly for anything to really jump put at you. It's one of those books where you can guess what happens next which is the exact opposite of the point of suspense/thriller novels. Definitely read it if you just want something to pass the time or read if it you want to see what I'm talking about.

If you read it, let me know so we can compare our feelings towards the book. Maybe you'll find something I didn't pick up on that explains one of my qualms with the novel or something. I'd love to hear what you think!

I would also love to hear some constructive criticism on this book review. Like I said, it's my first one, so I'm expecting it to be rough and not-all-that great, so let me know what I could do better on next time or anything that I did well. Thanks in advance!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Top Ten: Podcasts. (#TryPod.)

7:43 PM Posted by Allie Wood , , No comments
So, all of the podcasts I listen to have been asking people to tweet their favorite podcasts with the hashtag TryPod for the month of March. This is to get the word out that podcasts are actually still a thing and a super viable source for entertainment. I love podcasts so much, so I figured I'd do one better than just tweet the name of a podcast and make a list of my top ten podcasts because I haven't done a top ten post in WAY too long. It's a March thing, and March is about to roll over into April in literally a few hours, so I figured I should probably do this before I forget. (I tried to write it yesterday, but Blogger failed me and neither saved nor published it when I clicked on those buttons, so this is a rewrite. I'm sorry this one isn't as good as the original because I couldn't remember everything I wrote.) Here we go, then. This starts with 10 and goes down to 1. (One being my ABSOLUTE favorite.)

  • STUFF YOU MISSED IN HISTORY CLASS.
What more can I say? I LOVE learning new stuff and this one is perfect for that. Maybe you want to learn about the day back in 1789 when multitudes of women in France marched on Versaille to get the king to address the food shortage. Or maybe you want to learn about witch trials in Norway got WAY out of hand and ended up being much worse than Salem ever was. Or perhaps you want to learn about the good old Whiskey Rebellion in the 1790's here in the U.S. that caused violence and destruction when tax on alcohol was raised. (Man, those crazy early Americans that destroyed things over taxes on drinks. Boston Tea Party, anyone?) Anyway, I love this podcast because I love learning about new things and I also like to have an armada of random facts to use to help lulls in coversations or if I just want to make everyone look at me oddly and think, "How the heck does she even know that?" You, too, can be like me. (Just kidding. Be you. Not me. I'm me.)


  • STUFF THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW
Honestly, this one can be kind of trippy sometimes. They have episodes talking about secret military bases and what their purposes are, such as when the base for Project Iceworm was discovered. They talk about the "Red Market," which is the black market for human organs. You could learn about why and how the placebo affect has been getting stronger and stronger for years and still continuous to baffle scientists as to why more people full under the effect today than they did a few years ago. Or maybe you want to learn about how ISIS and other organizations recruit through social media and how it works so well. One of my favorites was the episode called "Cults (You've Never Heard Of) because I like learning about weird groups of people that do odd stuff, because why not?

  • SERIAL
Okay, this is the podcast that originally got me (and a lot of other people) into Podcasts in the first place. It's great. There are currently two seasons out. (A third in the works, so don't get upset if you end up binge-listening and get the end and scream "I NEED MORE" like I did. Just thought I'd let you know.) The first season, and still my favorite out of the current two, was so interesting. The hostess, Sarah Koenig, takes you back to the case of Adnan Syed who was convicted at the age of 17 for murdering his ex-girlfriend and was sentenced to life in prison. Serial covers the background, the case, and tests out some theories of this case. She also points out a few discrepancies in the state's case from the original trial and her podcast actually convinced a witness that didn't speak in the first trial to reappear and vouch for Adnan. This led to Adnan getting the possibilty of a retrial in case they convicted the wrong person for the murder. It's so interesting and had me hooked from episode one. You'll wonder "Is Adnan really guilty or not?" forever. Season two is about the Bergdahl case and what happened with that whole situation. Why he left his post and abandoned his troops, how he got kidnapped by Al Qaeda, theories on if that actually happened or not, and what was going to be done about it. Give it a listen, trust me. You'll like it.


  • STAR TALK
Star Talk is hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Neil. DeGrasse. Tyson. Need I really say more? No. But I will. Just fot you all. This is a podcast about everything science and it is wonderful. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the world's current leading astrophysicist. He's one of the smartest people roaming the earth today and it truly shows in this podcast. He is so passionate about science. If you've ever been interested in science, but couldn't really see yourself getting into it because your science teacher was monotone, didn't truly care about the subject, and didn't instill that love for all things science into your soul like they should have, give this podcast a listen. It'll open up your eyes and mind to some amazing things and make you fall in love with science. Like you were before your boring eighth grade science teacher more or less ruined it for you. (I'm still bitter, if you can't tell.) Learn about the physics or hockey or listen to some interviews with Bill Nye. (Bill and Neil are best friends, by the way, which makes it even better.) Learn about some of the amazing women in science that society tends to brush under the carpet. Take a trip down the mulitverse theory and watch yourself constantly think about what you're doing in one of the parallel universes at any given time. Learn about how climate change REALLY needs to be focused on. (Hmm, maybe the entire GOP needs to listen to this...) Hear interviews with anyone from the late Alan Rickman (Rest in peace, you lovely, talented man) to Whoopi Goldberg. You'll have fun and find something that interests you, I guarantee it or you can get your money back after 30 days. (Just kidding. You don't have to pay for it. I just wanted to sound like a Saturday morning Ninja Blender commercial for a second.)

  • CRIMETOWN
Crimetown is by far one of my favorites. It's about the mob's hold on the town of Providence, Rhode Island. "The mob? In Rhode Island? Nah," is probably what you're thinking right now. That's what I thought when I first heard about it, too. But, man, was I wrong. Providence has a long and complicated history with the mob. It goes from low-level burglaries all the way up to corrupt politicians in the mob's pocket. You get everything from interviews with "wise guys" (old time mobsters), to the mob leader's doctor, loving nicknamed "The Doctor Broad" by the mob members, to policemen who spent their whole careers trying to nab just one wise guy. This podcast takes you into a world that not a lot of people know about and it's awesome. Plus, those great typical mob accents are definitely a real thing and it makes the interviews a million times better. Give it a listen!

  • UNSOLVED MURDERS: TRUE CRIME STORIES
This one is definitely a fun one. Well, if you think pretending to be deep in a murder investigation while just driving is fun, like I do. Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories, covers just that: unsolved murders. Most of these aren't recent unsolved murders, due to the fact that there is a much higher chance of catching killers into today's day and age, but it's interesting all the same. There's some high-profile cases and people, such as the Black Dahlia murder, or Edgar Allen Poe's suspected murder, or Mary Pinchot Meyer's murder (that is most likely somehow connected to JFK's assassination, since the two had a long-going affair that only ended when Kennedy was killed.) There's episodes about the Zodiac Killer and theories on those. There's also lesser known cases, such as the murder of Guilelma Sands in 1799, the first transcribed murder case in America, and the court case led by none other than Alexander Hamilton. There is some great voice acting that really helps bring the story to life and helps you visualize a lot of things. Although we might never find out who actually committed the murders in these cases, it's fun to listen to all the information, the host and hostess' guesses, and make up your own mind as to what happened and why.



  • CRIMINAL
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Criminal so much. It's not the typical true crime podcast that you'd normally think of. The topics each week range all over. It holds stories about things you wouldn't normally label as crimes and it also holds stories about some pretty obvious crimes that should have been found out earlier. There's an episode about a corporate-owned youth correctional facility whose downfalls and crimes started to be revealed when a father simply called to schedule visitation with his son. There's an episode about the street game that panders to tourists call "The Shell Game" that's used to hustle people out of their money. There's an epsiode interveiwing the woman called San Francisco's "Original Brownie Lady" who sold pot brownies for years and was massively popular among the locals. There's an episode about one of the most notorious female serial killers, "Jolly Jane," who used her qualifications as a nurse to poison many, many people to death. There's also a funny episode about how people steal petrified wood from the Petrified Forest National Park and send what they stole back because they think it's been giving them "terrible luck." This podcast is a really good listen. Never once have I been born while following along with the stories. 


  • MY DAD WROTE A PORNO

This one is a doozy. If you need a laugh that might have to cause you to pull over to the side of the road if you're listening to it in the car because you have to collect yourself again, this is the podcast for you! (If you're okay with getting a terribly embarrassing ""erotic" novel read to you. The host, Jamie's, dad decided one day that he wanted to write an erotic novel series. Jamie found out and he brings his two best friends over every week and reads them a terrible chapter each epsiode. The friends critiquing and being disgusted by "Rocky Flinststone" (Jamie's dad's pen name) gets funnier and funnier each episode. I haven't laughed so hard in my life until I started listening to this. And this is the perfect time to binge watch! Season three (which is book three of the series) is going to be starting in May, so you've got a little time to catch up on all the terrible shenanigans!

  • SWORD AND SCALE
This podcast is NOT for the faint of heart. Their tagline is literally "to prove that the worst monsters are real." This podcast covers murder cases, like the murder of Lauren Giddings, by her creepy neighbor. You can hear audio recordings of a man through his home security system saying evil, messed up things after he planned and shot two teenagers and then hear his slight faked sympathy for what he did while talking during a police interveiw. The most haunting one to me so far was the episode that featured an interview with Roger Kiser, the author of The White House Boys, about the absolute horrors that he and many, many other young boys went through at The Florida School for Boys. This one made me sick to my stomach that something so terrible could happen for so long or could even exist or how so many evil people could work at one place. These stories sit wrong with you and make you worry about the track humanity is headed down. But, not all of the epsiodes are so dark. Sometimes, to eleviate tensions for their listeners, they do episodes focusing on weird and funny stories in the news from the recent past for some laughs. I'm not terribly far into this podcast because I just discovered it recently, and I've only listened to 17 out of 86 episodes so far, (each being about an hour and fifteen minutes long) but it's already one of the most interesting things I have ever listened to and I recommend it 100% if you can handle brutal flesh-and-bone true crime stories. 

  • NO SUCH THING AS A FISH
Okay. This one here is my favorite. It's hosted by four really awesome, nerdy people. They all work at QI in Great Britain. Every episode is just FULL of random facts you never knew you wanted to know until you here them. My personal recent favorite is learning that Winston Churchhill used to throw his dentures at walls and break them when he got angry. You learn so much interesting stuff and it's hilarious. Whether it's Anne's sarcastic comments, Dan's and Andrew's horrible puns, or James comparing his wife to a coral, there's always something to laugh at.  They each start with one main favorite fact they've found throughout the week and then branch off to many other related facts. I have never, ever been bored listening to this group and their facts! It's fun, light-hearted, and quite educational. Give it a listen because it's worth it. I've listened to every episode (of which, they currently have 158 of them.) So, if that doesn't tell you how entertaining it is, I don't know what will.


Alright!
There's my top ten podcasts.

I really hope some of you decide to give podcasts a try. Even if there's nothing that really interests you on my list, because we're all different and no one always likes the exact same thing, there's definitely a bunch of podcasts out there for you. They're easy to find, too. 

For my podcast listening, I use an app called Pocket Casts. It's available on Android and Apple app stores. It's completely free and super great. It makes finding and listening to podcasts an absolutely breeze. It even has an "up next" feature so you can make your own queue and you don't have to touch the screen at all for your next episode to play, which is SUPER useful for me, since I do my podcast listening in the car. (Don't use your phone when you drive, crazies.) This eliminates the need for me to even look at my phone in the car to get my podcast fix. Safe and fun. Nothing better. Here's a screenshot of Pocket Casts so you can see what your home page will look like. (Also, it;s got a fancy little page that tells you how much time you've spent listening to podcasts, and I'm currently at 4 days and 4 hours of podcast listening, and I'm going to listen A LOT more. It also gives you a little fact with your listening time. During my four days and four hours of listening, lightning has struck the earth 2,163,378 times. Boom.)


Anyway, I hope you TryPod and happy listening!

I also hope you had a good month of March!
I'm out.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Pets Are Not Presents.

6:09 AM Posted by Allie Wood , , No comments
It seems like every major holiday, I feel like I have to mention this. I always do it in the form of a Facebook post, but I think it's time for a blog post so I don't have to keep rewriting all my arguments and I can just direct you here instead.  What set me off today was a picture relating to Valentine's Day. Here it is for reference:



Annnnndddd informative rant starts in 3... 2... 1...

PETS. ARE. NOT. PRESENTS. TO. BE. GIVEN. OUT.

LET ME TELL YOU WHY.



  • THEY AREN'T ALWAYS GOING TO BE LITTLE.
    • Everyone wants a puppy or a kitten. Many people don't want the grown dog/cat because they're not "cute" anymore. The animal "lost its magic" as it grew. THAT'S WHAT LIVING THINGS DO. THEY GROW UP.  Nothing remains little forever. You were once tiny and adorable. What if the people you loved and depended on one day said, "Man, they're not little and cute anymore. I  don't want it anymore," and took you to a terrible orphanage where you have to live in a tiny cage and the very real possibilty of LITERALLY DYING was always looming over you?! Where you wished to go home with every family that walked in just so you could have something to hold onto again? I bet you wouldn't like that at all, would you? So, why on earth would you do that to a precious animal companion?

  • ANIMALS TAKE TIME AND EFFORT TO CARE FOR.
    • Believe it or not, most living creatures have to be taken care of in some way, shape, or form. Pets have to get fed. They have to get walked. They have to be groomed. They have to get taken regularly to the vet to make sure their health is on the right track. They have to be shown affection. It's not a succulent plant that can just sit there on your windowseal and get checked on twice a month. It's a living, breathing creature. Many parents forget this and buy their child a pet and make the child promise to take care of it. "Oh, yes, thank you for the puppy, mommy! I promise I'll feed him and pick up his poop!" A week later, it's the parent picking up the popp and making sure the dog gets fed because these kids don't understand the concept of caring for something living yet. Don't get the animal if you aren't willing to take the brunt of having to care for one.

  • PEOPLE HAVE ALLERGIES. 
    • I'm not saying everyone has pet allergies. That's extremely far from the truth. What I AM saying is that many times, people buy pets as a gift and give them to someone who doesn't know they have a pet allergy. They usually don't know because, first, they haven't had any allergy testing, and second, because they haven't been around that type of pet often enough to correlate they allergy symptoms with being near specific animals. An animal should not have to suffer and get taken back to a shelter or breeder simply because YOU made a rash (pun intended) decision to buy someone a pet.

  • THEY COST MONEY.
    • Pets are VERY, VERY far from being free. They are extremely expensive. You have to buy them food. You have to buy them toys to help keep them entertained and in shape. Veterinarian trips are expensive, even if you do have pet insurance that covers them and they HAVE to be taken to the vet regularly, as previously mentioned. You need to buy grooming tools to help keep them healthy. If you have a cat, there's litter to worry about, as well. Or scratchers to keep them from destroying the furniture. These are also just the basics. Believe me, this stuff is expensive. One large bag of my cat's food is around $35 bucks. This stuff adds up and it adds up quick.

  • THEY WILL DESTROY THINGS.
    • Dogs and cats have a knack for destorying things. It's not because they try to or they hate to. It just happens. If you or the person you are giving a pet to cares more about material objects, like their furniture, or clothes, or literally anything else the own, more than the LIFE of an animal, they don't need to be around animals. If you care about a piece of furniture so much or have a favorite scarf that would cause you to FREAK OUT if an animal scratched it, chewed it, or threw up on it, don't you dare get a pet.

  • PETS ARE NOT TOYS.
    • Pets should not be used to distract people from things. This point is mainly focused on parents getting their kids animals to basically be used as a way to take a break from your kids and have them have something new and interesting to play and mess with. Also, fun fact, sometimes, if an animal is given to a child on a birthday or for a holiday, they actually have a tendency to become jealous that the new pet is getting the family's attention instead of them, which could lead to many things, even a child harming an animal. (This is NOT me sayign your kid is going to try to hurt an animal because they're jealous, but it does happen more often than you think.) Kids don't quite understand attention shifts and the reasons behind them like adults do. They haven't grapsed the concept yet.

  • ANIMALS HAVE FEELINGS.
    • These creatures don't exist simply for your pleasure. They're not a video game, or a good book, or a television show. They do not exist as entertainment. These animals feel love, pain, happiness, and sadness. Just like you and me. They live. They breathe. They can get hurt physically and emotionally. They form meaninful bonds with humans and other animals. They're not little fuzzy robots who have no true concept of emotion.

  • PETS REQUIRE COMMITMENT.
    • Pets live for quite a long time. It's a short life compared to most human lives, but it's still quite a long time. Throwing a ten to twenty year commitment at someone because you want to be "cute" is the exact opposite of a good idea. What if this person has to move for a job and can't find a place to live that accepts pets? What if this person gets extremely sick, (God forbid) and can no longer care for an animal? What if this person is a bit impulsive and gets distracted easily and doesn't want the pet anymore because it's "boring" or "too much work?"

  • THESE "IMPULSE" BUYS KEEP PUPPY MILLS IN BUSINESS.
    • These type of "companies" that abuse dogs, and cats, making them have litter after litter, with no time in between for recovery, all while living in terrible conditions, THRIVE during holiday seasons for this exact reason: buying pets as gifts. They know they have a demand that they can supply, so they rev up and make sure they have a TON of cute, new, adorable puppies (which will probably end up having quite bad health problems due to what their parents went through for the breeding process) ready to go for the influx of new customers. Meanwhile, these pets get sent to already crowded shelters because of the problems mentioned above where people either can't give the time or don't want to put in the effort. Do you really want to actually be supporting this type of animal abuse and line the pockets of those sick souls (if they even have souls) that run these mills? I'm guessing that's probably a no.



Pets should never, ever be an impulse buy to please your children, or to get a "unique" Christmas present, or because you want to get laid on a stupid holiday that was made to support the card, chocolate, and floral industries. Because, let's be honest, that's all the Valentine's day truly is. Lives should not hang in the balance of you just wanting to "look good" to someone else. Sure, it's cute. Sure, the person recieving the animal is going to get excited. Sure, sure, whatever. JUST DON'T. There are so many variables that don't go into these type of impulse buys that people just don't think about. A pet deserves better than that. A pet deserves being more than a present. They are companions. They feel and love and will adore you for all of their short lives, so, please, if you can't be their whole world for ALL of their lives, don't be their whole world in the first place.

If you have carefully planned and are willing to take everything that comes with an animal, financially, energy-wise, etc., then, BY ALL MEANS, go get a pet. But if any of these give you a pause, (also pun intended. get it? like paws?) please reconsider and reevaluate. This has been a public service announcement. Thank you for your time.