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I was preparing to write a whole post about the latest discrimination against gay people – namely, the proposed bills that would allow businesses to deny service to gay people, and the potential GOP presidential candidate claiming that PRISONS are evidence that being gay is a choice (and his subsequent apology) – but then I got sick this weekend, and have been playing catch-up with grad school work all week. I want to do this topic justice, but I also wanted to post SOMETHING before the deadline for next week’s post, so here’s the short version (and in the meantime you can exercise your rage meter by reading the articles linked above): This discrimination is despicable. We have done this sort of thing before. With black people. Remember how we, as a country, decided that discrimination against people who are different from you is wrong? News flash, folks: this still applies. But part of me almost wants to let them deny service. Because not only will they lose the business of gay people, they’ll also lose the business of people like me who believe in equal rights. In a perfect world, allowing them to do this would run their business into the ground. It’s also really frightening to me that someone who could potentially be governing the country would claim that being gay is a choice based on what happens in prisons. Luckily, he is a neurosurgeon, and is probably closer to the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to potential GOP candidates due to the lack of a job in politics. But I don’t know that much about him other than that he is obviously not a scientist. Ok, I have to cut myself off now, because I’m about to give a geology 101 lab midterm! I might come back to this topic. Or I might post a bunch of dog photos detailing the many nicknames we have for our household’s labs. I will leave you with this: I have snakeskin hoop earrings. I like to tell people I made them from the rattlesnake I killed doing field work to save the life of my field assistant, who had a particular fear of them.

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You may have heard about the new push in some states to allow guns on college campuses. The NY Times recently published this article about the latest argument some are using to justify allowing guns on college campuses.

My rage meter is on full blast and set to explode about this.

I do not make my distaste of guns a secret. I think this country needs a hell of a lot more gun control than it has. That said, I don’t have a problem with people using guns to hunt game. It’s all the other reasons people own and use guns, outside of law enforcement, that drive me crazy. But this goes WAY beyond my personal feelings about guns.

The people who are trying to push the allowance of guns on college campuses – which in most cases have already made their decisions either at the campus level or the state level to NOT allow guns on campus – have decided to exploit the hot issue of sexual assault to justify their arguments.

The argument is this: if women are allowed to carry guns on college campuses, they will be less likely to get raped. The ability to carry a gun would be a deterrent to rapists.

Are. You. Frakking. Kidding me.

Personally, I would prefer to simply NOT BE RAPED, thank you very much. The fact that it is a horrible crime against basic human rights should be enough of a deterrent for rapist scum. I should not have to carry a gun in order to prevent someone from raping me. Rape culture, in the USA especially, is still massively misunderstood, but this does not mean a bandaid (guns on college campuses) is even a remotely valid solution.

Then there’s the statistic that most rape victims are sexually assaulted by people they already know, so they might not actually think to pull a gun on them until it’s too late anyway. (Thankfully, the NYTimes article mentions this. The number is 2/3, in case you were wondering.)

The people using this argument have failed to acknowledge the fact that allowing guns on college campuses would also allow potential rapists to carry guns. So explain to me how forcing a shootout between a rapist and a victim is a good solution to this problem.

The first quote the NYTimes article uses is from Florida State Representative Dennis K. Baxley is, “If you’ve got a person that’s raped because you wouldn’t let them carry a firearm to defend themselves, I think you’re responsible.”

NO.

The ONLY person who is responsible for someone getting raped is the rapist themselves. No one else is responsible for that. That is extremely unhealthy thinking. If you think you’ve ever been in a position to stop a rape, only to realize it later, do not blame yourself. The only person responsible for a rape is the rapist committing the crime. Don’t let people like Baxley use guilt like this.

What about the countless women, like myself, who can’t even begin to imagine using a gun on another person, no matter what crime they were about to commit. The very idea is terrifying. I don’t want to have someone else’s blood on my hands. You can have all the training you want, but still shoot someone in a bad place under the pressure of fear.

Now, the potential ramifications for sexual assault aside, there are many other reasons allowing guns on college campuses is a terrible idea.

Lockdowns spring instantly to mind. Last year, we had a lockdown at my school because an armed man tried to rob a couple businesses north of campus, and decided to escape through campus. Students, faculty, and staff were required to stay locked in their classrooms while the authorities (campus security and the city police) searched for the guy.

Imagine what could have happened if students were allowed to carry guns on campus? How many of them would try to be the hero and go hunt the guy down themselves? How would the authorities know who the real criminal is if half the student-aged people walking around were carrying guns? Chaotic disaster.

Think about the negative ramifications for loosening gun control on college campuses, not just the potential positives. In my opinion, the negatives here far outweigh the potential for women (who actually can see themselves using a gun) to protect themselves against rapists. We shouldn’t have to carry guns to prevent people from wanting to sexually assault us. Human decency should do that on its own. I know we don’t live in a perfect world, but this is not the answer.

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With all the buzz about the 20 week abortion ban that was supposed to be voted on in the House, but is now sitting at the individual state level, I feel the need to vent my rage and frustration. I know plenty of other people have done this before me, but now it’s my turn.

The argument around abortion rights is not pro-life vs. pro-choice. It’s anti-choice vs. pro-choice. You can be pro-life AND pro-choice. If you want to be. It’s your CHOICE.

NARAL Pro-Choice America explains what it means to be pro-choice perfectly on their website:

“Being pro-choice means protecting women’s access to safe, legal abortion. It also means working on ways to help reduce the need for abortion, like improving access to birth control. And it means supporting women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term.”

I am not going to argue about when I think a fetus becomes a person. I’m not writing this to change your opinion on that. I’m writing this because we all have different opinions about that, and abortion, and we should be free to make our own choices about what we do with our bodies. I will say this, however: in many cases, people are in the “pro-life & anti-abortion” camp because of their religious beliefs. That’s fine. I have no quarrel with that. But, this country was founded, at the very basic level, as a place to practice freedom of religion. We also practice separation of church and state. Therefore, if you want to control whether or not someone else (read: who is not you) has an abortion, it can have NOTHING to do with your religious beliefs. You cannot force your religious beliefs on another person. And since an unborn fetus is not a citizen over the age of 18 and therefore has no bearing on politics, abortion rights should not be a political issue. They should ONLY be a medical one. But, unfortunately, this is not the case. Roe v. Wade was 32 years ago, yet we are still arguing about it.

I am so sick and tired of politicians, particularly male politicians, trying to control what I do with my body, trying to control how I reproduce (if I were to choose to do such a thing, but that is a whole different discussion).

I’m tired of hearing politicians (in particular, male Republican politicians) make complete idiots of themselves when they mistakenly try to make excuses for rape whenever the question of aborting a rape pregnancy comes up. I know it is not all of them. But I’ve heard it happen enough times that it makes me sick to my stomach, and I’m tired of it. It scares me more than I’d like to admit that people like that are capable of making decisions about my abortion rights. I am thrilled that the reason the 20 week abortion ban vote was thrown out because they couldn’t define rape properly, but the fact that it was on the table on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade infuriates me. We made this decision already. Why can’t people just let it go?

On that note, why do men have a say in this at all? In the reproductive process, they have one job, at the very beginning, and then they can walk away, if they really want to. Physically, that is. They don’t have to endure the 9+ months of a fetus growing inside them, and all the hormonal changes and physical discomfort and pain that come with it. They don’t have to worry that something could go wrong during delivery causing their death. So again, I ask, why do men get to vote on abortion rights?

I’m not saying men can’t have an opinion about it. People can have opinions about anything they want. And if a man has helped make his partner pregnant, he can absolutely tell her what he wants to happen next. But ultimately, the woman should be allowed to make the decision about whether or not she carries it to term. It’s her body, and her life, that will be affected the most in the next 9 months.

If we have to continue to make abortion rights a political discussion, the only people allowed to vote on it should be women. No uterus: no vote. I should be that simple.

It boils down to this: if you are not my doctor, your opinions about what I do with the contents of my uterus do not matter. And even if you are my doctor, I expect you only to express opinions that may affect MY health and safety.

I know nothing will come of this little blog post, but this is one issue I have very strong feelings about, and every time this topic comes up I feel like a broken record. So I thought I should write it down. Maybe someday, someone reading it will make the switch from anti-choice to pro-choice, and the world will be a little safer.

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My birthday was this weekend, so to celebrate I bought myself a Tiny Hannibal Lecter, NBC show edition. I intend to pose him in various situations and take silly picture for my own amusement, and sometimes I’ll use them as a lazy post when I can’t be bothered to have strong opinions about things.

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Tiny Hannibal wanted to slice the pork… or perhaps it was a forearm…

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Then he took a shot at the lamb… or perhaps it was a bit of rude rump roast…

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Tiny Hannibal stands over his master carving skillz.

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Then, of course, there was the chocolate cake. I’ll let your imagination run wild with what might be baked into it.

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Next up (probably): Tiny Hannibal does Christmas.

Happy Holidays, whichever you celebrate!

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The return of spam poetry

I nearly forgot to blog this week!

Excuses:

  • Last week was finals week
  • I’m leaving town on Thursday and must do all of my Christmas shopping before I leave
  • I celebrated my birthday this weekend with school friends
  • I haven’t even started packing yet
  • Life is chaos.

So instead of my opinion about something, or an update on school (I’m done with classes forever yay!), today you’re getting spam poetry. Also this is an excuse to clean out my spam folder.

Thanks for the Meal

Should have been doing long-ago, nevertheless
to novelty picks
like Choose of Fate,
these picks
won’t just allow you to play,
but make sure you seem good doing it.
Typically they’re afraid
the youngster
or they will not stick to it.
MENACING GUITAR CHOICES

It is believed that steel was learned
weapons
arrowheads
spears.
There are many different choices
going all the way to the edge.

stagecoach drivеrs
on the Oldd Wеst
who barely topped out
roughed up wіth thhe men.
Anyone named Ɗanny frοm Windsoг

The heart of your writing
did not sit well with me
Someplace within the sentences
unfortunately jumps
end up being amazed.

a colleague
bought me dinner simply
because I found it
Thanks for the meal!!

Next week I will write to you from a different city!

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In the words of a tiny witch who appeared on my doorstep on Halloween, “Your house is really freaking me out!”

Mission accomplished.

I know it’s too late for this year, but here are some decorations my roommates and I put together for our Halloween party that perhaps might inspire you in future. As evidenced by our trick-or-treaters, it was pretty spooky.

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This year we decided to turn our front yard into a supernatural-themed graveyard – meaning all the dead people were from our favorite supernatural shows and movies.

Things we purchased from the store and used as-is: fake, sticky, rubbery blood, from Target. Spiderwebs, from Target and Michael’s (spiders are apparently sold separately now). Orange and black light bulbs from Lowes.

Things we made:

Spooky wine bottle candle holders, gravestones, and glowing eyes. We also attempted to make chicken-wire ghosts, as seen on pinterest, but… apparently we didn’t get the right kind of chicken wire because it was rather… droopy.

The gravestones were made from floral styrofoam, found at any crafts store (we got ours from Michael’s). These were spray-painted gray and jammed onto sticks poking out of the ground so they’d stay upright. There are various thicknesses, and we went with the 1-inch thick styrofoam because it was half the price of the 2-inch, but still thick enough to work with the sticks.

When we spray painted the gravestones (and the sign for the cemetery) we painted some wine bottles we had lying around black.

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We used acrylic paint to inscribe the gravestones. A sharpie won’t work because the stryrofoam is too bubbly.

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The wine bottles, once painted, were made into candle holders. One thing I learned about candles is that these days they’re designed to be self-consuming. Meaning, if you don’t get the big thick ones, they just melt and, for lack of a better term, evaporate. If you want to stick a bunch of tall candles into wine bottles and hope they just drip all over the bottles – don’t. You have to put a bit more effort into it than that. I ended up lighting one candle at a time, letting it drip sideways until I deemed it short enough, then I stuck it in a bottle. I then used the next candle to melt the sides and cement the first candle into the bottle. (Thanks for the idea, Mom!!)

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This is what I call a Pinterest win. Another Pinterest win were the glowing eyes. I don’t have a before photo, but we just took paper towel and toilet paper tubes, cut eyes into them, and stuffed them with glow sticks. You have to wrap dark tape on the ends so they don’t glow out of them.

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And for the full effect:

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And at night:

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We hosted a Halloween party, and I am really proud of our wine table display, mostly put together by my roommate (I only added the wine bottles).

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Tiny skulls (came in a big bag) from Target, the lantern was something we had, the napkins came from the sale rack at Michaels, and the sign came from the sale rack at Joanne’s Fabrics. I love that sign so much I’ll probably hang it up in my room all year round.

After the party, the little shark and the little Toothless dragon were very sleepy.

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

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Bread Salad Recipe

I was going to write a book review tonight, but… I’ve been working to hard to stay awake long enough, it seems. Super frustrating, as I love this book and I just want to read it all the time.

Arcadia’s Choice comes out in TWO DAYS on September 30th! It is the 3rd part of the Arcadia Day trilogy by Jesi Lea Ryan. I’ll likely have a full review of it by next week, but you should read the first two books – they are fantastic.

So, instead, I’ll share my version of a bread salad recipe I made last night for a BBQ that was a huge hit! Some people were asking for the recipe, so here it is.

It’s from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop, but I make a couple alterations because I do not have grill-using skills and broiling the bread works just as well. The recipes might all be vegetarian, but you could easily add meat or turn any of these into a side to a meaty main-course. Everything I’ve had from this book is delicious.

Ingredients:

4 large slices of country bread, cut 1in thick (about 12 ounces). I personally don’t know what 12 oz looks like, and I don’t have the patience to measure that, so I just slice a whole smallish loaf, and leave the ends for snacks. It also works better when you have bread that’s a day or 2 old, but I always forget when I decide to make this, and just let the bread sit out of the plastic for the day before I put it all together. This sort of makes it “stale,” but not really. It’s still good though, so I don’t care.

4 tbls extra-virgin olive oil (I don’t measure this, just use what I need and eyeball it)

Salt

1 large garlic clove, peeled (I always go through several of these – you have to grind the garlic into the bread after it’s “grilled” and I have never seen one big enough to last through all the slices of bread, top and bottom).

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2in dice (I tried to weigh these, but all the scales at the grocery store were off, so I just slice tomatoes until I get tired of it, and I don’t really core them)

1 15oz can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained

1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved, cored, and halved again, then cut into 1/2 in chunks

2 tbls chopped fresh basil leaves (I just buy one of those small packages and cut all the leaves)

2 tbls chopped fresh parsley leaves (I grab a handful and chop them up)

2 tbls red wine vinegar

Fresh ground black pepper

8 cups tender lettuces torn into bite-sized pieces

1. The recipe calls for grilling the bread, but I broil it, so this is what I do. I brush it with the olive oil, but I don’t measure it out, just kind of pour it over a spoon and use the spoon to coat the bread (I don’t have a brush). Sprinkle with salt. Then I broil it for a few minutes on the top rack, and flip it over when the first side starts to get a bit crispy/golden brown. This takes longer than actually grilling the bread, but it give you time to put together everything else. Once both sides of the bread are kind of golden brown, you take the bread out and forcefully rub the garlic into both sides of the bread, leaving bits of garlic behind. Then let the bread cool.

2. Combine the tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, herbs, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

3. Cut the bread into 1-in cubes and add the bread to the bowl with the tomato mixture. Toss to coat. Set aside, tossing once or twice, until the bread softens a bit and soaks up some of the flavors of the salad, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings as desired.

4. The recipe says to line the plates with the lettuce, then spoon the salad on top. I just shred lettuce into the bowl until the bowl is full and mix it all together.

5. Serve!

Enjoy! It’s super delicious and filling.

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I just returned home from my roommate’s wedding, so I’m feeling a bit sentimental. I also haven’t quite gotten back into the swing of things since I returned from Houston and then from field work, so this will once again be a bunch of photos with captions. Sorry, not sorry.

#1. My friends

See? I told you I’m feeling sappy. I got to spend a long weekend with half of my Missoula friends for my roommate’s wedding, and I had a fantastic time catching up with them. Hopefully I get to do it again with the other half next weekend on the geology grad student hike! Ok, so, no photo for this one, because I obviously don’t have one that has all of you in it (besides, most of you probably don’t actually want to be ON my blog anyway), but you ought to know who you are by now. I missed you guys. ALL SUMMER. I am very happy to be spending the next year of my life in this town with you all.

The rest of these are in no particular order.

The mountains! And also the UM campus.

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9460_17660_Missoula_Mountains_mdHouston is VERY flat. I only knew which direction was North when I was on the road that lead to both my home and my office. Mountains are extremely important to my internal navigation, as it turns out. Flat country is not good for me. Plus, they’re absolutely gorgeous, any time of the year.

As a bonus, here are some mountains up around Glacier, where the wedding took place. Montana is beautiful.

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These dogs:

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Five on Black, the best place to get quick, cheap, delicious food. My roommate and I go here at least once a week. We have joked about opening one in Bozeman and retiring. If you are ever in Missoula, you should definitely check it out.

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My office. Though currently, it’s under construction, and likely won’t be finished in time for classes to start tomorrow. There will be 6 of us working in there at my last count, and none of us can get to our desks at the moment. The whole place is a mess, and no help from our massive rock sample collections. At least a lot of mine are in boxes that don’t need to be moved…

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BBQ’s!!! Ok, so we only managed to do this once before I left for the summer, and we’re having an unusually cold August, but… There will be a BBQ before the warm weather COMPLETELY goes away. I hope.

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Did I mention that I missed these dogs?

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My walk to campus, especially in the winter. It might be cold, but it’s also gorgeous, especially when the river freezes.

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SKIING!!!! You cannot ski in Houston. Ok, you can’t ski in Missoula in the summer either. But… skiing is just a short drive away, if there isn’t enough snow right in town. I’m hoping to take my cross country skis out more than 3 times this year.

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And as a final bonus, golden dog was EXHAUSTED after the wedding festivities, and was therefore very good for snuggles.

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Missoula is a wonderful place, and if it wouldn’t have been totally weird, I might have liked to hug the sidewalk when I finally got to come back. Come December, expect a similar post about Seattle.

 

 

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I mentioned last week that my dad came to visit me in Houston, and we did a million things. There are many things I like about Houston, so if you’re thinking of visiting this city sometime in the future, hopefully this list will give you some ideas. Mostly I’m going to show you photos, but I would like to make it clear that the guide books don’t lie about the food here – there is a TON of delivious foods to experience in Houston.

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Before I go into all that, I have a few words about World Cup. Yes, it is over for another four years, and this makes me sad. I am delighted that Germany won, and it has inspired me to embrace my half+ German heritage more than anything ever has in my life.

But within seconds of the end of the game, Twitter and Facebook exploded with comments from many people in the United States expressing their glee that “soccer is over.” It’s possible that I am biased, because I am indifferent to not-caring about all other sports. But I usually keep those feelings to myself. I find it really frustrating every time I read one of these anti-soccer comments. Living in the United States, I find it EXTREMELY difficult to watch soccer. The only time it really gets any attention is during World Cup, and good luck ever seeing it broadcast on network television. Specific bars might play it on their TVs (particularly those designing themselves with other countries in mind). Nearly every other major sport in this country can be found on network television during each sport’s season. So reading those kinds of comments is like a reminder of how little my favorite sport (and, might I add, the WORLD’S favorite sport) gets attention in my home country. Thanks for rubbing it in, friends. That’s just SO nice of you. So please, even if you don’t like soccer, can you keep it to yourself? It’s painful enough that it’s so difficult to watch live in this country without you rubbing it in after the biggest tournament the sport has.

Ok, stepping down off my soap box now.

1. Onion Creek

Delicious restaurant with great outdoor seating. Hotdogs are a big deal here for whatever reason, so I had a really fancy one with fancy mustard and grilled onions with sweet potato fries. They also have a great selection of local and non-local brews. Good music, too.

2. Brazoria

If you like wildlife, the Brazoria Wildlife Preserve is pretty awesome. We saw three emotions of alligator.

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A. Friendly “feed me!” alligator. This guy came right up to the boardwalk dock. We could have touched him had we not been afraid of the thing chomping our hands off.

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B. Get the F*** Away from my Nest! alligator. This one hissed real loud and stalked toward our car as we slowly drove past/stopped to take photos like idiot tourists.

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C. Chillin’ in the Water alligator. This guy did not care about anything.

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3. Gulf Coast

We drive north up the coast from Brazoria to Galveston, and discovered a gazillion pastel-colored houses on stilts. As a geologist, I think it is absolutely moronic for these people to live here, considering the danger of hurricanes and the fact that a beach is an EXTREMELY unstable place to build your home, but it certainly made for interesting photos.

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4. Galveston

Galveston is extremely touristy. But we found this great Gumbo Bar for a delicious lunch (gumbo and fried okra), and briefly stuck our feet in the Gulf of Mexico, so that was cool. The water was freakishly warm.

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5. NASA

We arrived to NASA rather late, but managed to get a tour in, during which we saw the original command center (“Houston, we have a problem,” happened here) and a Saturn V rocket. We also saw the moon rock and a bunch of other stuff. If you have kids, it’s a great place for them to check out. The tour was great for adult-level entertainment.

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6. The Original Ninfa’s

Delicious Tex Mex food. I mean, REALLY yummy. My dad especially loved this place, and they have a stray restaurant cat that hangs around the outside seating area. Pretty sure my dad wanted me to take it home and feed it, but alas, I can’t have pets here, and I think the restaurant workers are rather attached to it (they’ve named it).

7. Soccer

We watched a World Cup game one morning. There are several British pubs here in Houston, which I found surprising. We went to Watson’s, which has a great outdoor area and a good beer selection, but the service and food leaves something to be desired.

8. Houston Museum of Natural Science

Aaaaah this place is amazing. It is my second favorite Natural History museum that I have been to, my first being that in London (mostly because the one in London is much bigger). They have an insane number of trilobites (I took about a thousand photos of them), not to mention a massive dinosaur and other creature bone collection. It’s worth the $15 admission fee just to see that collection. They also have a rather impressive mineral and gem collection. There is also an African animal display – beware if you have small children, some of the animals are presented in rather gruesome death poses.

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9. Underbelly

The chef of this restaurant is a native Houstonian, and since Houston is a melting pot of pretty much every ethnic food ever, he has designed his menu around what he thinks of as “Houston food.” You also don’t order single dishes. No appetizers, no entrees, just food. My dad and I shared 3 dishes plus a dessert, and that was enough. They also have a great wine list. It’s pricy, but totally worth the experience.

10. Catalina Coffee

We found a local coffee roaster and it was absolutely delightful and had a cute little outdoor seating area. I don’t have any photos of this place, but be sure to look it up if you’re ever in town.

11. Tacos-a-Go-Go

Breakfast tacos are a big deal in Texas. The internet told me about this place, and we were not disappointed. It’s sort of a build-your-own kind of deal. You get eggs plus 2 additional ingredients for under $2 (unless you go fancy like avocado or something), and each extra beyond those two are only $0.25. Pretty sweet deal, considering two breakfast tacos is enough to fill me up.

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12. Karbach Brewery

Houston doesn’t have many breweries, but this one probably produces my favorite beer. You pay $8 for a small glass and 4 beer tokens. Pretty sweet deal. Plus we got caught in our second thunderstorm of the weekend! #nofilter

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13. Auto Art Show

There’s a random Art Car museum that has very artistic cars as well as a few random pieces of art. The collection changes frequently, so here’s a small taste of what they might have.

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14. Beer Can House

This really needs no explanation, only photos.

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15. River Oaks neighborhood

We were driving around randomly, checking out the neighborhoods, and stumbled upon the place where rich people live. I live-tweeted the experience, so I’m sorry if you missed it. It was a rather ridiculous experience. My dad and I decided the thing to do would be to park your car somewhere, and bring your dogs for a walk, so you could pretend that you actually lived in one of these mansions. I swear, some of them looked like small castles. Crazy.

16. We finished our day with cockroach hunting, because my dad likes bugs, and due to an earlier incident I knew where to find them after the sun set. This activity mostly consisted of me running and screaming, or freezing when I saw one, while my dad walked happily along trying to startle them into movement.

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We visited a few other places, like the Rothko Chapel, at which I learned I don’t have a single spiritual bone in my body. Going in that place just felt oppressive and awkward. The outside garden area is pretty nice though. We also tried to see the Bayou Bend Gardens, but got there too late, and the bridge was broken, so I’d recommend checking that out if you’re here, because I’ve heard great things.

So while I certainly don’t love Houston (or its weather, ugh, please let it rain for five days I am so tired of the sun), there are quite a few fun things to do. I’d also have to say that Montrose is the most fun neighborhood. The Heights is also pretty good. Both of these have good food places and bars, and really nice homes. If I had to live here, it would be one of those places.

In other news – I finished editing my second draft outline for my urban fantasy novel yay! Now I can actually get back to the fun part of writing. If only we’d get a few decent days of rain here…

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In case you haven’t been following my tweets the last couple weeks – I am obsessed with World Cup. World Cup is for me what the Olympics are for most people who aren’t soccer fans. I have always loved soccer, and this is due in large part because my dad, uncle, and granddad all loved soccer. Sure, they loved watching American football too, but they don’t follow it the same way they follow soccer. My uncle has been known to get up at ridiculous-o’clock to watch his favorite Champions League team play. I come from a soccer family, and I played soccer all through gradeschool. There was a hiatus during my undergraduate education, but that was mostly because very few of my friends even cared about soccer, and I always felt like I was busy, so I never got around to joining an intramural team. Plus we only had basic cable in the dorms, and later I didn’t have any TV in my apartment, so it wasn’t at all easy to watch. This is a major flaw with our country. I want soccer games to get the same amount of attention as all the other sports on the major channels. But I digress. Once I got into graduate school, I found myself surrounded by soccer fans again, and was able to join our geology grad student intramural soccer team. Great times had by all (even though we kind of sucked, but we still had fun). Soccer is in my blood.

Let me explain how World Cup works for those of you who may be totally in the dark but might also be curious.

World Cup only comes around every 4 years, and then it’s a month of all-day soccer. Before that there are many qualifiers, and that’s broken down into regions. I don’t really know how that part works, I just start paying attention once the list of who made it into World Cup comes out.

To start, 36 teams play 3 games in groups of 4. A win gets you 3 points, a draw gets you 1 point, and a loss gets you zero points. The top 2 teams in each group get to advance to the round of 16. In group stage, tie breakers for who advances are usually determined by the “goal differential” – the number of goals the team scored minus the number of goals the team couldn’t stop. There are more tie breakers after that if the GD isn’t enough, but I won’t go into that here. If you make it into the round of 16, the rules change to sudden death. You have to win to move on to the next game. If there’s still a tie after the full 90 minutes of normal game time, they do 2 more 15-minute halves. If it’s STILL tied after that, they go into penalty kicks. Each team gets five chances to kick the ball into the goal, just the shooter and the goalie on the field. Everyone else has to watch, holding their breath in fear and anticipation. If they are STILL TIED after the first round of penalty kicks, it goes into a sudden death shootout. This is how teams progress through the round of 16, the quarterfinals, the semifinals, and the final game.

Group Stage is probably my favorite. Three or four games a day, every day, for about two weeks. It’s glorious. For the most part, every team has 3 chances to make it into the next round. When your favorite teams win, it’s thrilling. On the other end of the spectrum, when your favorite teams epically fail, it’s absolutely devastating. Watching the World Cup is an emotional roller coaster. But I don’t think I could ever stop watching, no matter how much heartbreak I go through.

My favorite team is England, because it’s a quarter of my heritage, and it’s the part of my background I relate to the most. Then comes Spain, because I have a minor in Spanish, and for a while a lot of Spanish players were playing for my favorite Champions League team, Liverpool. Plus I’ve been in love with David Silva since I watched him win Eurocup with Spain a few years ago.

David-Silva1

Followed by England and Spain are Ghana and USA. Ghana is my favorite underdog team, and I love watching them play. I support USA mostly because I live here, but also because I like to watch them improve every time World Cup comes around.

England played well, but they just couldn’t get their shots in the goal. The best part that came out of this World Cup for them, though, was Wayne Rooney FINALLY scoring a goal in the World Cup. I’m devastated that they didn’t advance out of group stage, but at least they have that win, and they were fun to watch.

Spain, on the other hand, went in top-ranked in the WORLD by FIFA, and failed miserably. It was absolutely painful to watch their first two games. My day was ruined when those final whistles blew, and I worked through the rest of the day hoping no one would come talk to me. I expected them to go all the way, and they just got bulldozed by the Netherlands (a team for which I will never cheer because of this and other defeats).

Ghana made a good go of it, losing to USA but DRAWING with Germany, one of the best teams on the planet. Ghana may not have made it out of group stage, but I was proud of them for that. I also felt really bad when USA beat them, because it turns out they were saving all their available electricity to watch that first game on their TVs back in Ghana. If I get properly rich some day, I’m giving money to Ghana. Their devotion to their soccer team is inspiring.

USA, oddly enough, was the only one of my favorite teams to make it out of group stage. So I guess I’m throwing all my support behind them, though I have no idea how they’re going to do against Belgium (another team I’m supporting this year because damn they have good beer and chocolate, not to mention wonderfully friendly people).

As you can see, quite the roller coaster of emotions. And that was BEFORE I decided to become attached to Mexico, mostly because they have the best goalie I have ever seen in my life. Ochoa is a sight to behold. He’s basically a wall that covers the whole goal. Their loss on Sunday to the Netherlands was painful because it means I won’t get to see Ochoa save all the goals for a very long time. I might have a gigantic talent crush on Ochoa. No big deal. The man is a goalie god, though.

 

You only need to watch the first few seconds to get the idea. The Netherlands have robbed us of this magnificent goalie for World Cup 2014, and it is a travesty.

Nearly every game so far this World Cup has been excellent fun to watch. The teams are all playing phenomenally well, and I HATE that most of the games are live when I’m at work. It’s painful to only be able to listen to the commentary, frantically looking at the screen whenever the crowd gets excited and the commentators start talking really fast. I love talking to my coworkers and friends about the games, discovering new fans every time. We may not all be rooting for the same teams, but we are all enthusiastic about it.

I feel that now is a good time to inform the world that when I’m watching a soccer game, don’t talk to me unless it’s about the game. I don’t have time for small talk when a game I care about it in front of me. Don’t bug me, I’m busy. I’ll talk to you in 90 minutes. I’m not watching these games for the boys, but for the thrill.

In my opinion, there isn’t another sport anywhere near as exciting as soccer. World Cup years are always the best years.

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