Sunday, June 30, 2013

Top 10 Most Extraordinary and Unusual Animals

Okay, ladies!  My "Top Ten" list is the top ten most extraordinary and unusual animals.  Yeah...none of you should be surprised about this...

#10:  GIANT COCONUT CRAB, Birgus latro

This creature is unusual and extraordinary for three reasons.  The first is because of its sheer size.  You guys have probably all seen little crabs scurrying across the sand on beaches, right?  They're little enough to squash with your foot (not that I would ever recommend doing so).  Well this crab is the largest land-based arthropod (or crab) in the world.  They have a 16" long body, a 36" long leg span, and can reach weights of up to 9 pounds.  Actually, that's pretty small, since there have been reports of them reaching six feet in length and weighing up to thirty pounds!  Imagine trying to eat all those crab legs!  Something else that makes them unusual is that they can't swim and will drown in water if submerged for too long, but they need water to survive because of their breathing methods.  They have what's called a brachiostegal lung, which is something between a lung and a gill,  and it must be kept moist in order to function.  I know, right?  A crab that can't swim?!  The third reason that this creature makes the list is because it has an hilarious behavior.  The giant coconut crab is nicknamed the "robber crab" because they tend to steal things that they feel they can use, and these are usually shiny objects.  I, personally, find this hilarious (*gasp* SHINY THINGS!!!!). 
#9:  BLOBFISH, Psycholutes marcidusis
This is the blobfish, which is unusual mostly because of its density, apart from looking just plain weird.  See, these guys live at ocean depths of up to 4,000 feet down near Australia and Tansania, where the pressure would be far too much for us humans.  We would be crushed instantly, but creatures like the blobfish do very well.  Their body density is literally only slightly less than water.  In other words, there's really nothing to this fish.  They basically just float around in the deep ocean and suck up any organic matter that passes in front of them.  Unfortunately, even though they have few natural predators, they are still endangered because of deep-sea fishing.  They get caught in the nets  :(  That first picture is a blobfish outside of water, while the second is how a blobfish looks while it's swimming.
 #8:  DUMBO OCTOPUS, Grimpoteuthis
There are actually two species of octopi on the list!  The first is the rare Dumbo Octopus, named so for the fins on its head that make it look remarkably like Disney's loveable little elephant.  They live in the benthic region of the ocean - at depths of up to 13,000 feet.  This creature made the list because it just doesn't behave like other, "normal" species of octopus.  For one thing, these creatures have been measured at 6 feet long, but will only weigh up to 13 pounds.  Think about how unusual that is: a healthy 6-foot-tall man weighs 160 pounds, but this big guy only weighs thirteen?  The Giant Octopus, the largest octopus species in the world, has been measured at 14 feet, but with an accompanying weight of 33 pounds.  There's a good reason for this, though: they live in the deep ocean, just like the blobfish up above, so the less dense the body is, the deeper the creature can live under water.  Something else unusual about these creatures is that they swallow their prey whole, where most octopus species will bite pieces off before swallowing.  They feed off of small worms and invertebrates found in their deep-sea home.
#7:  FRILLED SHARK, Chlamydoselachus anguineus
Usually, when someone hears the word "shark", they think of the large Great White sharks that kill people and terrorize the public, like in the movie Jaws.  The stereotypical shark lives close to shore or in the open ocean, where humans can easily come into contact, and they're the ultimate in predatory evolution.  This extremely rare shark, however, is found in deep waters of up to 5,000 feet - highly unusual for a shark.  Something else that puts them on the list is their primitive evolutionary features.  These are not the fearsome predators that most think of when they picture sharks.  Sure, they have sharp teeth like their shallow-water cousins, but their teeth are shaped like needles as opposed to triangular knives.  They have been called "living fossils" because of their primitive design.  Something else unusual is that their gestation period is the longest of any vertebrate - up to three and a half years - and they rarely breed because they're so rare.  While extraordinary, what this will unfortunately mean as well is that accidentally catching one in deep-sea fishing nets (which unfortunately happens sometimes) can deplete the population to dangerous levels.
 #6:  TARSIER, Tarsius bancanus

This is probably the creepiest animal on this list, in my opinion.  The tarsier is a small monkey that lives on the islands of southeast Asia, and what makes it so unusual and list-worthy is just how non-monkey these little guys can be.  For one thing, they're just funny-looking.  Most primates can be described as "cute", and they're mostly diurnal (i.e., day-dwellers).  But those big amber eyes are as large as its brain, giving the tarsier some of the most well-developed night vision in the world.  Their hind legs are twice as long as their bodies, perfect for jumping, but their forelimbs are short and stunted.  For another, most monkeys and primates are herbivores (eating only foliage and berries) or omnivores (they'll eat just about anything, but the most carnivorous they get is insects).  The tarsier, however, is carnivorous, and will eat birds, bats, and lizards.  Yeah...creepy, right?  Then there's their social interactions.  Most other species of primates live in groups, but the tarsier is a solitary animal.  They basically come together only to mate, and then only in pairs.

#5:  AXOLOTL, Ambystoma mexicanum
Finally, something that looks mildly cute, right?!  This is the axolotl, an amphibian that lives exclusively in a single lake in Mexico.  Like the Tarsier and the Frilled Shark, these amphibians are not like others of their species, and that is part of the reason they make this list.  Amphibians, like frogs and toads, are creatures that can live in both water and on land.  The Axolotl, however, is completely aquatic, and while that's strange in and of itself, the reason behind it is even more so.  See, most amphibians have a life cycle that includes a larval form and an adult form, like the frogs and toads that start out as tadpoles.  But the axolotl stays in its larval form for its entire life!  That's right - apart from getting a little bigger, these creatures don't change from birth to death.  It's a phenomenon called neoteny.  But the strangeness doesn't stop there.  A completely unrelated something that puts this creature on the list is its regenerative ability.  Some creatures display the ability to re-grow their limbs - octopi, starfish, etc. - but the axolotl can not only regrow its legs, but its brain and spinal cord as well!  Crazy!  Luckily, these creatures are less endangered than biologists would have us think because they are part of the exotic pet trade, so even though their habitat is vanishing, they'll stick around for a little while longer.
 #4:  MIMIC OCTOPUS, Thomoctopus mimicus

The Mimic Octopus is one of my favorite animals.  They live in the shallow, warm waters of Malaysia and Indonesia.  They have a leg length of about 25 inches and a body length of about two feet.  Their normal coloring is a striking pattern of brown and white stripes.  Now, most people know that octopi are so unique because of their ability to blend in with their surroundings, right?  Like chemeleons, they have the ability to match their external appearance with the area around them.  The Mimic Octopus, however, takes disguise and stealth a step further.  Instead of changing its color, this octopus manipulates its body to mimic the shapes and behavior of other animals in the ocean!  Check out the photo.  On the left is the Mimic Octopus, and on the right is the creature it's mimicking.  They've been spotted acting like flounder, lion fish, sea snakes, and jellyfish.  It's even been said that they can judge which form will be the most frightening to a particular threat.  Crazy awesome, right?!
 #3:  SLOTH, from the families Megalonychidae and Bradypodidae

When most people hear the word "sloth", they think of a creature that they can really only describe as "slow and funny-looking" (which I tend to disagree with because I think they're fricken adorable).  What people don't seem to realize is just how slow and strange they really are, and what unusual side effects their slowness can have.  Sloths live in the rainforests of Central and South America.  And yes, they are really slow.  The sloth's metabolic rates are less than half of other mammals their size, and they can take up to an entire month to digest something.  This means that they only go to the bathroom once a week (and to compound the weird, they do so in the same spot every single time).  On average, their moving speed (or lack thereof) is about 6.5 feet per minute - a distance that would take us less than a second to cross.  They're so slow and stationary that algae actually grows on their fur!  So what you might be saying is, "How do these things even exist anymore...they're sitting ducks!"  That's true, actually, but because they're so slow, they're actually harder to spot than people think.  They don't even have to worry about poachers - they'll cling to their trees even after they've been shot and killed!  Then there's the sloth's upside-down position, which they hold for about 98% of their lifetime.  They mate, give birth, eat, sleep, etc. completely upside-down and hanging from tree branches.  And yet, get this: they can swim!  Like, they can swim well!  How cool is that?!

#2:  ANGLER FISH, from the order Lophiiformes
Now for some more not-so-cute.  This is the angler fish, an order of deep-sea fish that are characterized by their angler hanging from their heads.  That's actually part of why they make this list, and why they're so high up on it.  Their lures are bioluminescent - they can make their own light due to chemical reactions in their bodies.  In the deep ocean waters, very little light can penetrate, so making one's own light and using it to attract prey is a very revolutionary and innovative evolutionary development.  But that's not the only reason I find them so strange.  Actually, what makes them just plain weird is their reproductive methods.  See the angler fish in the picture?  That's basically what people think of when they think about these fish, right?  But get this: that thing is female, and all other anglers that look like this are female.  The males?  They're little more than a bundle of nerves with fins - evolutionarily stunted, thirty times smaller than the females, and have no angler whatsoever.  They don't eat, either.  Their only job is to find a female...and attach themselves to her.  Yeah, get this: the males will bite into the flesh of the female with their specialized teeth, and then their bodies start to merge.  Over time, the male becomes little more than a sperm-providing parasite, to the point where they stop looking like fish at all and look more like fleshy lumps.  Basically, she feeds him while he gives her the sperm she needs to reproduce.  I guess it makes sense, even though it's really strange - angler fish are solitary creatures, and they probably don't meet each other very often at all in the dark abyss of the deep ocean.  Scientists have found females with multiple males attached to her in various stages of merging.  Weird...weird, weird, weird...
#1:  WATER BEAR, Hypsibius dujardini
Now for the most extraordiary creature on Earth: the Water Bear.  These little guys are only about one millimeter long when they're fully grown, making them little more than microscopic.  They live mostly in lichen and mosses throughout the world, though they can be found just about anywhere.  Here's why: water bears are extremophiles, or creatures that can survive in extreme environments.  Not only that, but they're polyextremophiles - creatures that can survive multiple types of extreme environments.  Water bears can survive just about anything.  They can endure temperatures from just above absolute zero (or with next to no heat whatsoever) to well over the boiling point of water.  They can survive in pressures higher than six times that of the deepest ocean trenches.  Radiation doesn't affect them either - they can live through doses hundreds of times stronger than what would kill human beings.  They can even dehydrate to less than 3% water and still rehydrate as if nothing happened, and they can go without eating for over 120 years!  They're so resilient that scientists even sent them into outer space to see if they would live through it, and guess what, they did!  Solar radiation and exposure to the vacuum of space didn't affect them.  But okay, that's not enough?  Get this: not only can they live and survive in these extreme environments, but they can also reproduce in these environments, and produce viable offspring that can then reproduce themselves.  They're the most resilient animals on Earth, and therefore easily hold the top spot in my "Top 10 Most Extraordinary and Unusual Animals" list.
Well, I hope you ladies had fun reading this!  I know it's long, but seriously, there's some pretty interesting stuff here!  I mean, at least read about the water bear...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Delayed Response!

Sorry guys, but my post is going to be a little late.  For one thing, Anne is over this weekend!  Woohoo!  And for another, researching my topic is waaaaaay too much fun!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Top Ten Topic

All right, girls! This week, I want to see some Top Ten lists. I don't much care what your topic is. It can be Top Ten Favorite Tropical Fish or Top Ten Tips for Successfully Avoiding Adulthood or Top Ten Reasons Why Broadchurch Really Needs to Be More Available in Some Form to American Audiences, Specifically Ones With Birthdays in the Coming Week (hint: all ten points are "Because Cassie really wants to see it and the BBC isn't releasing it on a DVD that I can play with my DVD player") or what-have-you. Sorry, got off-topic a bit.

Top Ten! Go!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Perfect timing!

This is a great week for me to share news! The past few weeks have been crazy, and there's LOTS to share!

It all started about a week ago, when I finally, after at least 6 weeks of waiting, got my official offer letter for the PhD program I've been thinking about. I hadn't had anything more than vague emails and verbal descriptions, so when I actually opened the scholarship portion, my jaw about hit the floor. Not only am I receiving 97% tuition remission, but I'll be getting health insurance AND a big enough stipend/fellowship to cover my living expenses! Plus, the first year is straight up fellowship, meaning I don't have to work! I was not expecting that - at most I was hoping for maybe 75% tuition remission. I was sure I'd at least be paying for my apartment. Needless to say, I accepted the offer, so I am officially working on an MLS/PhD come fall.

Then this past weekend we traveled to Southwest Virginia for my cousin, E's wedding. It was... weird. For one thing, we (aka Dad) offered to drive Grandma, and she is one of the most frustrating, obstinate and manipulative people I've ever met. She's my grandma, so I love her (most of the time) but dealing with her for 72 hours straight would be a strain for anyone. Then, of course, we have the wedding which was beautiful. I felt so happy for E, and it was very clear she was incredibly happy as well. At the same time, it was kind of depressing; two of the four cousins are now married and if my family were the betting type there'd probably be a betting pool on whether or not the third would be by the end of the next year (odds are on yes). Aaaaaaand here's me... perpetually single, and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. On top of all that, it was kind of sad - this is the older sister of my youngest cousin who died in a car crash when I was 17, and E has had a really hard time getting over it. There were many mentions of her being with us in spirit, and even though it's been a lot of years, I still came close to tears a couple times. Oh and it was awkward, because the parents of the bride (aka my aunt and uncle) are divorced and it wasn't exactly a pleasant divorce (not that any are, but you know what I mean). With all that emotional turmoil, I'm frankly just glad that it's over.

But, on to pleasanter (or at least easier) news - I've finally made it HALFWAY through the textbook I'm using for Music History review! WOO! I'm also only 2 chapters from the end of my Tonal Theory textbook, which means only Atonal Theory - the hard stuff :-/ - left! I've also been doing fairly well with my style listening review. Most of the time I can get the era and the country, and SOMETIMES I can get within 20 years of the exact date! Since I need to give dates +/- 10 years on the test, I need to get better at this, but at least I'm always placing it in the right era and country, you know?

So that's my news for this week!
Congrats to Cassie on finishing the novel!
Hugs to Katie - I'll see you soon :-D
Tori - I agree with your statement on men. Let's blow raspberries together! ;-)
Heidi - sometimes an equilibrium is good - at least you don't have all this major upheaval the rest of us seem to be dealing with. Good luck with the job search!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

So it's Wednesday again . . .

So not much has changed since my last life update. And just to be sure, I pulled up my previous post. I'm still looking for a job and Bruce is still in the process of moving out of my parents' house and my parents are still in the process of selling their house/moving to a smaller house/moving south/changing their minds.

So, yeah. Smooth going.

I shouldn't be complaining. I've got things pretty good right now. I have a wonderful guy, a roof over my head, I'm in good health, and I have all the time in the world. I'm just having trouble figuring out how to fill the time in between job hunting. And I really am looking to fill the time, not just pass it, but I haven't figured out how.

I would really like to start working on Merlin again, but I find writing is so much easier to do when I feel purpose driven. Right now, I feel like I'm just wandering and writing just seems like another thing to do as opposed to something I actually want to do and find enjoyable.

I do have a project I've been wanting to start for a while and I finally have the means to. We'll see how that goes, if it goes anywhere, and then we'll see about picking up Merlin again.

Congrats Cassie on finishing your novel, and good luck with all of your moving!
Hang in there, Katie!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Life, Currently. How it's going; Update: Punctuation!

Hair: growing.  Straightened.  Weird.
Room: rearranged, cleaner. Random crap? Yes.
Bible Study: better.  Teaching more. Seeing the Super-Awesomeness of God more.
Running: again.  Thank God bodies learn and adapt.
Drawing? Hell no, it's just frustrating.
Reading? Meh.
Writing? Double Meh.
Men? Thhbbbbt.
Commenting on y'all's posts: Yes, but they don't show up from the mobile app apparently?
Minor-ly freaking out when I suddenly realize that the slow passage of time has stolen years and omg has it really been that long since that once-monumental moment in my life??  Yes.
Is this year gonna rock? Fuck yeah.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Oh, right...

Oh, right. I'm supposed to post one of these. And talk about life. Gotcha.

Sorry for the lack of post last week; it was a very busy week and talking about insecurities was hitting a little too close to home, so I opted to skip. Accept my apologies.

As you may know, Mom officially retired as a pastor of the United Methodist Church this past week. Her retirement ceremony was last Monday, and yesterday was her final Sunday in Hayesville. Matthew and Jeffrey and I all went, of course, and surprised her by singing special music, which made her cry, predictably. The church had its own little reception for her after the service, and it was very touching and very sweet. And afterward, we went to the house, which is all empty and repainted, for nostalgia purposes. I totally didn't tear up looking at my old room.

Mom and Dad bought a house in BG back in February (I think I mentioned???), and it is full of boxes of stuff at the moment, and they will be in the process of unpacking for a while to come. They also have to finish painting and redoing the kitchen in the hopes that the house might stop feeling quite so 1970s. It is a very fun, quirky house with a secret passage and a hidden door to the attic, and it is very them.

As for me, I finish work at the library this week, and I'm going out with a bang. Saturday is International Mud Day, which is apparently a thing, and that's the program they gave me, so yay mud! :)

I've been doing a lot of writing, finally, finally (as of . . . fifteen minutes ago?) finishing the first draft of the NaNo novel I started two and a half years ago. It's a monster, about 120,000 words long, and I can't wait to start draft two and get it down to a manageable size.

And then there's the New Plan. I've come to hate speaking definitely of my Plan, because it inevitably changes soon after, and yep, that's what's happened.

Shortly after my last update post where I talked about moving to New York with Chase, he and I had a conversation. Basically, it's looking less and less likely that his internship is going to turn into a full time job, and whether or not it does won't be decided until October. With how undesirable that uncertainty is, his boss has told him that if he finds something solid that starts in the fall, he should take it.

Well, that being true, we both decided that it didn't make a whole lot of sense for me to keep looking for jobs in an area of New York that doesn't really have anything in my field, so we shifted our focus. The YMCA's national headquarters are in DC, and Chase's dad has some firm contacts there, so Chase is hoping that he can find a job without too much trouble, especially after the work he's done at Frost Valley. So I shifted my job hunt, also to the DC area, and long story short, I'm gonna be moving in with Maggie come mid-July.

It's still terrifying, this thing that I'm doing that is so far outside of my comfort zone, but this change has actually made things a little less terrifying. A) I'll know someone in the area now; B) I have a place to stay for a little so I can job and apartment hunt on site. The downside is it means Chase and I are stuck doing long distance for at least another three months, which hardcore sucks. But in the long run, I know it's gonna make everything easier.

And I'll see if, living with Maggie, I can't get her to remember that this project exists every once in a while. :)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

So, How's Life?

Well, we didn't get a topic yesterday, so I guess we're going for the default:  "How was your week / How's life going?"

Frankly, it's been really difficult, so if you don't want to read something that might depress you, don't read this section.  Slightly happier times are described afterwards.

I had been having a lot of issues around my friendship with Matt.  I felt like something was wrong - the same way I felt between the day that he found out about his deployment and the day he told me.  He just wasn't acting right, not to me anyways.  I wrote him a Facebook message, telling him how I was feeling.  He took a week to respond because, he says, "I just didn't want to deal with it at the time."  He was happy that we went out "on a few dates" and he thinks I'm "a very nice person," but he wants his space.  He said that after reflecting on our relationshp, he realized it wasn't what he wanted, but he is happy that he tried, rather than missing out on something.

I'm a mess.  For one thing, I specifically told him that I wasn't asking that we get back together, but that's all he seemed to address.  I told him I wanted to be his friend - to support him through the tough times - but that I didn't know how to just yet, and I would love it if he would help me out.  And how can he possibly minimalize our relationship as "a few dates" when (I thought) we were so much more than that.  And what did he reflect upon in our relationship that he thought was so horrible that he didn't want to see me even as a friend anymore?  When we were dating, he told me multiple times that he thought I was "amazing, beautiful, wonderful,..." but now I'm just "a very nice person."  I believed him, and I valued him, and I trusted him, but he stomped all over all of that.  It was all just a lie, and none of what we had was real.  I can't believe I was so stupid.  Clearly he didn't think I was someone worth fighting for or waiting for.  Clearly men are all the same, and there aren't any good ones left (or, at least, no good ones that would have feelings for someone as anxious as insecure as me).  And, last but certainly not least, clearly my trust issues are completely justified.  Ladies, be careful how you give your heart.  I, for one, have built a wall around mine for just about everyone, save all of you and a very few others.

But, outside of myself, there's a little bit of family drama and goings-on.  Angie and Chris are gearing up for moving out of our house and into Chris' grandmother's old house in mid-July sometime.  Grandma has dementia, and can no longer live by herself anymore, so she will be going into a home where she can be watched and kept safe.  Chris is inheriting the house from her.  While I will miss my sister and my nephew Scout grievously, I am also a little excited for them to move out.  Once they do, the bathroom will stay much cleaner, as will the rest of the house.  We won't have to worry about as much clutter, and I will basically be the only one using the second floor at all.

However, to prepare for said move, Angie and Chris decided to get another dog to accompany little Scout, so they got Sport, who I talked about in my last post.  He has finally started coming out of his shell, and has proven to be quite a goofball.  To all of those who have met Duo, he's very similar: a big, thumping, uncoordinated, clumsy oaf.  About five days ago, however, we all noticed that Sport had some mucus coming out of his nose.  While this is may be commonplace for humans, it can be a sign of serious health issues in domesticated pets.  We took him to the vet, and he was diagnosed with the canine flu - a highly contagious and much more dangerous version of the human influenza virus.  He was given a prescription to cure his symptoms.  But, now Ten-Ten has it, and she sounds horrible.  When she starts coughing, she sounds like a goose, and it has me very worried.  She feels warm to the touch too, so she has a fever, and she'll shake sometimes.  She may need emergency treatment if she doesn't show signs of improvement soon.

Sport has, also, been officially re-adopted by my mother.  Yep, that's right - Angie and Chris aren't taking that forty-pound monster.  Chris has decided, basically, that because Sport isn't exactly like Scout (outgoing, happy, playful,...), he doesn't want him anymore.  It has me pretty angry because we tried to tell him over and over again that the changes in Sport weren't going to happen overnight - that it was going to take time - but he's too impatient and stubborn to listen.  He has got to be the most hard-headed person I've ever met.

But, life hasn't been all bad.  I went out to dinner and to the mall with a distant cousin of mine who has been my friend since high school.  We had a good time, talking and laughing and reminiscing for awhile.  I haven't seen or talked to her in a long time, so I was very happy to see her again and to hear that her family is doing well.  Mom went on a vacation last week, so Angie and I were on our own taking care of the house...eek!  It actually wasn't as terrible or as hectic as I thought it would be.  I slept downstairs with the dogs the entire time so they wouldn't get lonely (which did not make Saloona happy at all), and I was woken up prematurely every morning for pee-pee outings.  Angie and I even managed to keep the place clean  O.O

I miss you guys a lot.  I know that if we were still living down the hall from each other, I would be able to distract myself much better by watching movies with you or talking about stuff that had nothing to do with the stresses in my life.  I have known this all along, but I unfortunately don't tell you often enough:  thank you to you all for being here for me, for being people I can trust, and for letting me be me.  You have really been the only ones who have allowed that.  I don't know what I would have done throughout the past seven years without you all.

I hope everyone else is doing well.  I can't wait to hear what's going on in all of your lives  =]

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My brain isn't wired for this!

Hey, guys. I didn't post yesterday because I had to give this topic some thought.

I suck at socializing. I really do.

Some of you may have noticed, but when I meet a new person, I tend not to talk. I like to listen to what this other person has to say and get some sense of who they are and what their interests are in before I speak up.

Maggie took the gracious view point that I just don't speak unless I have something important to say. And part of that is true. I have no problem speaking up in a group when working on a project, but that's mainly because we all have a common goal we are working toward and that's something I have wrapped my mind around and understand and feel I have enough info to speak on.

When it comes to actually socializing with people, I'm rather clueless. How can I talk to someone I know absolutely nothing about? I can say hello and introduce myself and ask how long they have been coming to this church or what they are studying in college, but then after I've exhausted the list of default introductions, I've got nothing to go on.

This is also why I'm terrible at parties. Suddenly I'm in a big room with lots of people whom I know nothing about, and somehow I'm expected to "socialize." This is why I usually spend a lot of time around the food area or hang out with people I already know and then hope for my friends to introduce me to people they know that I don't because I can at least rely on my friends to carry on the conversation when I run out of ideas.

But this is also bad when I comes to networking. I applied to a job a few weeks ago in James' office and he suggested I talk to the lady who was leaving the position. Now, that in and of itself sounds like a good idea, but what the heck am I supposed to ask this lady? I had a few questions, all of which took about two minutes to ask, and then I was out of ideas. Later James wondered why I didn't ask some other things, and the honest answer is that I just didn't think of them and had no idea to think of them.

I can't tell you the number of times throughout my life where people have been like, "oh! This is a great opportunity for you to talk to so and so!" And I'm like, "Wha? But? Uh? Um?" I have never met this person, and I have no idea what you expect me to say to them.

Mom is always telling me "It's just a phone call," but it's not! Unless I already have questions or information that I'm looking for, you suggesting to me that I talk to someone I have no idea about is completely unhelpful.  I literally do not know what to say to this person. And normally people will say "just ask about the job." No, this was not my idea, it was yours. Unless you give me specific example questions (such as "what kind of qualities are you looking for someone in this position to have?"), I have no idea what I'm supposed to say.

There are times when my "un-talkative" nature can be a good thing. I prefer listening to taking over someone. But when it comes to socializing with other people, I feel like I'm missing some important gene that everyone else expects me to have. People seem to have a difficulty understanding that I literally do not know what to say and I literally need to you to tell me what I should be saying.

My brain just does not work the way you think it does.

Apparently I'm a b*tch?

Interesting topic Katie! Unfortunately this is the week of ALL THE THINGS (and furthermore all the things blowing up in my face :-/ ) so I don't have much time to go on at length (be glad - the list of things I'm insecure/don't like about myself is MILES long).

One thing I would really like to be different that has been on my mind lately is my interpersonal skills - specifically those that are used when meeting someone else. I am terrible at meeting people. Most of the time I just feel incredibly awkward. The few times I think it does go well, I generally find out later that it... well, didn't. I can't tell you the number of times I've thought I was getting along really well with someone and then a few weeks later they'll say something like "You know, you're a lot better than I thought! When we first met I thought you were a total b*tch!" Most of the time I just laugh it off, but inside it really bothers me - what is it I'm doing that make people think that? I always think we're just having fun, and usually I've loosened up enough that I'm letting them see something more like the "real" me. And yet for some reason it's worse that way than when I'm just the shy girl sitting in the corner (which happens more often than I'd like to admit).

Anyway, I'm trying to be more friendly, and just in general a happier person - hopefully that will mean I can meet some awesome new friends come fall!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A swift kick in the..

Somebody kick me in the rear! And by somebody I mean myself. Here is the thingy thing that I need changed in my life that I'm sure you all can guess ^{>|£<'dvskric (that was a drumroll): STOP PROCRASTINATING!!!

Ok, "procrastination" is a broad topic, so let me get a little specific. I want to not only mean what I say and say what I mean, but to follow through on my intentions. We all say things with the intention of doing them, commit to projects or ideas that we're genuinely passionate for, but I don't want to keep leaving room in my life for someone to put a backup plan because Tori Thompson was plan A.

In cooperative projects this means remembering when I planned to do something and then PLANNING TO DO IT. With details and everything! Not just a vague, "oh crap, I meant to.." but a, "yes, at 6:43 we need to drive to the gas station, fill up, and get these specific things at this specific place because all of this has to happen specifically because fuck inconsistency I said I'd do it. And I'm gonna do a fucking good job."

I don't want to be ashamed that I forgot something or to disappoint because I made more work for someone else.

I want my name to be synonymous with "reliable." When you give Tori Thompson a job, you can expect it to get done right, and you can expect it to be done on time. No qualifiers.

Because if you can't trust someone at their word when they say they'll get this done, what good is it? Why trust them in anything?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Heads Up

So, today is a super busy day for me -- Mom's retirement ceremony is tonight, so we're all heading up to Lakeside, and I have errand-y things that have to be done before that, so I may not get around to posting today. Fair warning. :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

General Maturity Changes

I will get to my blog topic in just a second.  First, some news!  Yesterday, Angie and Chris had their second baby!  Lol, and by that I mean that they got another dog.  Yes, that now means that there are FOUR puppies living in our house at the moment, but it'll only be until around the 19th of July.  Plus, HE'S SO CUTE!!  His name is Sport (it's the name he came with, and he was responding to it, so they didn't feel right changing it), and he's a 40-pound mutt.  We have no idea what breed he is.  What we do know is that he is very timid and scared right now.  Yesterday he did nothing except hide.  I didn't even get to touch him, and every time someone went near him, he would run the other direction and find something to crouch under.  Today he is doing much, much better.  He's still scared, but he's started to come out of his shell.  Angie and I have gotten kisses and been able to give him pettings, and he's started to come out of his hiding places and explore the house a bit.  He's going to be a great dog, and I can't wait to see what he's really like!

But now to the important things, like blog posts  =P

I suppose I should have given some sort of time parameters to compare our personality changes, huh?  Well, what I meant when posing the question is, "What has changed in you since college, and more specifically, since about our sophomore year or so (which would be Tori's freshman year)?"

For me, the most noticeable change doesn't really have one word or phrase to sum it up (unless Cassie or Heidi can come up with something, as I'm sure they could).  It started when I joined that dating site, I guess.  If you guys didn't catch on to this already, I have some serious trust issues, probably stemming from all the bullying I experienced as a kid and teenager.  Some of the bullies turned out to be people I knew as friends, so I guess some abandonment and betrayal issues were left over from those years.  But I went on a dating site...a place where I literally have no idea whether or not the guy I'm talking to on the other end is dependable, safe, or even who he says he is.  And not only that, but I actually went out on a date with one of those guys (well, more than one...).  Even as I was creating my account I couldn't even believe myself, thinking, "Oh gods, what am I getting myself into?  I'll be murdered for sure!"  But I don't regret it for a second.  It was a step in the direction of trusting people, and I'm okay with it.  Now, I know not everyone in the world is a good person - of course that isn't true - but I've slowly started coming to terms with the idea that not everyone is a bad person, either.

I have also noticed marked differences in the way I communicate with others.  When I was in college, I had a very rough time communicating my thoughts and feelings to other people, much to the frustration of a few of you, I'm sure, and to others (not among us) who shall remain nameless.  It's still not a perfect process, but the way I bring everything from inside my brain to outside my brain is much, much easier.  My thoughts are much more organized (mostly thanks to my journal), and can therefore be conveyed in a much more organized manner.  Communicating the important things is no longer a threat to my sanity, and this is very comforting.  But at this point, I'm begging the question.

I'm sorry if this sounds a little hectic.  Mom just got back from vacation, so I'm trying to listen to her catch me up while I write.

Love you guys!  Have good weekends!


Friday, June 14, 2013


This week it's all about self-exploration.  We're all friends and we all think that each other is made of awesome, but not everyone thinks that of themselves.  So, tell us about some quality of yourself (or is it your self?) that you wish was a little different.  It can be a physical something, emotional something, mental something, or even an environmental something (i.e., "I wish I lived in Virginia Beach instead of Willoughby" or "I wish my fifth grade teacher was Miss Frizzle instead of Miss [INSERT AWFUL TEACHER'S NAME HERE]").  Anything goes, so long as it involves YOU.  Then tell us how you would like this particular something to be different, and why the change would be beneficial to you, to those it affects (effects?  HELP CASSIE!!), or the world at large.

So, as Anne said:  AAAAAAANNNNNNDDD GO!!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Who's ready for an adventure?

There are many, many things that have changed about me over the past few years. I think I've become more comfortable with who I am, or at least, I've tried to stop looking to others for what I "should" be. I've become a lot more organized/obsessed with cleanliness (for those of you who remember the piles of random crap on my floor in the dorms, that has definitely changed!). But a big change for me, especially in recent years, is food!

There was a time, way before any of you knew me actually, that I disliked quite a lot of foods. Not always the usual ones for kids - I'd eat most vegetables (except broccoli and peppers) and I loved fruit. But if it didn't have cheese, ranch dressing, or noodles in it, I didn't want it! Once I started learning to cook that changed a little, but I stuck to the things I knew well and that pretty much stuck until a few years ago.

Recently though, with more time on my hands since I'm not in school, I have discovered a passion for reading cookbooks! I love to go to the library and get out 2 or 3 cookbooks on random subjects, read them cover to cover, and then pick out a few recipes to try from each - "Adventurous" cooking, if you will. And that presented me with a dilemma; if I wanted to try and cook a recipe I wanted to do it the way it was supposed to be, but if I was gonna cook it then I'd better be willing to eat it, even if there was an ingredient involved that I didn't particularly like. I'll let you in on a secret - probably 97% of the time, I end up liking whatever it is!

In a way, cooking adventurously has taught me how to get myself to try all kinds of new things. By making myself try something new at home (where if it turns out disgusting nobody has to see me fail!) and finding that I like it most of the time, I find myself more willing to try new stuff elsewhere, and in other areas of my life.

I feel all grown up admitting that. Excuse me while I go make some mac and cheese to fix that :-P

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I still don't understand why anyone would want to hang out at a bar

Excellent topic!

I've been thinking about this a lot, and there are a few things I could mention, but I think the biggest thing that has changed for me is my taste in alcohol.

In undergrad, I didn't like alcohol, any form of it, and I was sure I never would. But over the years, as friends have encouraged me to try one form of drink or another, things have slowly changed.

Today, I can sip regular beers, wines, and champagnes without a problem (if someone hands one to me and feel obligated; like on News Years), but I still don't find them to be enjoyable or anything that I would choose to drink.

But I do enjoy apple and raspberry flavored Smirnoff, this desert wine called "Delicia," and there's a strawberry milkshake vodka mix that I absolutely love. And I'm rather fond of amaretto sours. I was recently at a graduation party where someone brought home-made sangria that was wonderful and I can't wait to hunt down the recipe for.

In short, I like mixed and flavored drinks. I still won't go out to a bar, and I don't like to have more than one or two drinks at a time, but I do like to have some form of an alcoholic beverage in the fridge to enjoy every once in a while, which for me is like every few weeks or so.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sorry this is potentially late . . .

I say 'potentially' because I don't know how long it's gonna take to write this.

Warning: this post contains existential ramblings and probably sappy discussions of my relationship.

Because I thought about going small and snarky with this topic and talk about how I've started eating onions or something, but then I figured go big or go home, yeah?

So, I have a tendency toward self-sufficiency that exists for reasons I won't get into today. But because of it, I have long held the belief that stressful or unpleasant things that happen to me in my life need to be dealt with alone. My successes and good times, I am happy to share. But the others are mine, and other people in my life don't need to be bothered by them. My problems and issues are things I should be able to deal with on my own. Needing to ask for help is . . . a sign of failure.

Rational? No, not really. And intellectually, I know that. But the fact remains that opening up about the things closest to my heart was not something I did three years ago, really to anyone. Don't get me wrong -- I opened up to you guys a lot more than I did to most people. But I think it was occasionally frustrating for some of you that I never seemed to share a lot about what I was thinking or feeling or what have you. And it was never because I didn't trust you or want you to know something. It was just because I didn't share that stuff. With anyone, best friends included.

And then I started dating Chase. And I thought I could get away with doing the same thing with him. But here's the thing -- when someone becomes that constant a part of your life, they get to know you, all those parts of you, whether you intended for it to happen or not. And let me tell you -- it is very disconcerting to be called out on behavior that I didn't think anyone noticed I was doing. I've gotten very good in my lifetime at hiding when things bother me. But it has been a long time since I've been able to pull it over on Chase.

Letting someone else into my life like that was a big deal for me. And the act of doing so has largely contributed to the way in which I am "me" in a different way than I was when we all lived down the hall. Back then, I was all, "I'm not gonna change for anyone!" And then I learned that that's not the way relationships worked. I haven't changed because I was asked to; I've changed because that's an inevitable part of what happens when you rework your life to include another person. If you aren't willing to let someone in, to share your bad times as well as your good, to give up that need for self-sufficiency, then it isn't going to work. Slowly, so slowly, I'm learning that.

Also, I eat onions now. Sometimes.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

No Mutts, No Butts, No Coconuts =P

One of the things that makes me "me" is my love of animals.  All of you know how intense it is.  I won't smash spiders (sorry, Maggie), and I will talk baby-talk to pretty much any form of wildlife I see.  I have said many times before how, when I am on my own, I am going to get this breed of dog or that breed of dog, having this image in my head of a giant Tibetan Mastiff named Appa that only does two things: (1) barks at strangers, and (2) eats strangers on command.  Of course it would be my big ol' teddy bear love and be a great pet, but I would have an issue living by myself with a small dog that doesn't really have a lot of protection potential.

I mean, come on, who wouldn't want one of these guarding your house?

However, a big change has occurred in my pet desires for when I am out on my own.  As I get closer to my two semesters at paralegal school (and therefore closer to getting a "real" job and possibly moving out into my own house...eek!!), I am starting to feel more and more like I no longer want a dog.  I want cats, and just cats.

I know, right?!  OMG, Katie DOESN'T want an animal?!?!?!  What is this world coming to?!?!

But I have my reasons, and none of them are for any particular dislike of doggies.  Dogs are just more difficult than cats for a single person, especially with my experience with small dogs and how difficult they are to house train.  Cats are just easier.  For one thing, there is really no house-training required.  They go to the bathroom in litter boxes, which I have no problem cleaning out on a daily basis.  With dogs, there's the obligation of having to go home at specific times every day to make sure they are let out and can do their business.  Cats have no such requirement.  In fact, if one wishes to, one can leave cats by themselves in a house for an extended period of time (if, say, one wanted to go and visit friends in other states  ;]  ), as long as they have adequate food and water to keep them nourished until one returns home.  Dogs also require much more training than cats other than potty training because a human must establish themselves as head of the pack.  Cats have no such requirement.  Having a cat is like having a really quiet little roommate that you have to feed every now and then.  They're pretty low-maintenance, and that's appealing to me.

For another, cats are much more independent than dogs.  They aren't as domesticated as our canine friends, so the majority are not as dependent on attention (of course, I say "the majority" because...well...have you met Blitzie?).  A third reason is that dogs are much more destructive than cats, especially as puppies.  Kitties will claw at things, sure, but that can be fixed with scratching posts and/or squirt bottles.  Dogs also require walks and energetic play to expend energy, whereas cats are pretty much self-sustaining.  If they want to expend energy, they'll find a toy lying around somewhere and bat it around until they tire themselves out.  Cats are pretty much self-cleaning as well, which means no more expensive grooming appointments or stressful baths.  Just brush them and clip their claws, and it's all good  =]

All in all, my activity level and personality are just not suited to having dogs.  At least, I am not suited to having dogs by myself.  If, say, I fall in love and the guy has dogs, then great!  So long as those dogs are tolerant of my kitteh-boos, potty-trained, and good listeners, then it's all good  =]

So yes, although I still love animals with every fiber of my being, I have come to decide that having a dog is just not for me.  I'll keep my kitteh-boos, thank you, even though my ownership of three cats at the time I move out of Mom's house officially designates me as a crazy cat lady...


Friday, June 7, 2013

Topic 6: Then and Now

We all knew each other so well when we lived just a few minutes down the hall from each other, but since then we've drifted apart. This week, I'd like you to tell us one thing that makes you "you" that has changed. It can be little - a change of taste in foods/books/music/movies/favorite colors (make it as silly as you like!) - or it can be big - a change in lifelong goals or something like that. Keep in mind that the bigger it is, the more likely we'll have heard about it, though. I'm looking for something we don't already know.

Aaaaaaaaand... GO!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I can haz an organized?

This is actually a really timely post for me - I recently finished a diy project I'd love to share! I've been having some trouble keeping track of dates in my head (a sign of too much stress for me - normally I have no problem remembering to, say, pay bills on time and return library books before they are overdue) so I decided what I needed was a planner. I've been without one for about two years, because really, what did I need it for? My schedule at work generally stayed the same and everything else was whenever I felt like it. But now, with all the things I'm trying to cram into this summer it was definitely necessary!

I looked into buying one, but let's face it - none of those are ever exactly what you want, or if they are they're those "build your own" kits that cost you $50 by the time you finish getting everything you want. So, I decided to make my own, using the binding skills I learned at work!  I started with what pages I knew I'd want in the middle. Obviously a weekly schedule is a must:

Then, since there's going to be a lot of studying going on, both this summer and come fall, I gave myself a two page spread devoted to assignments (eventually, they'll go on the day they're due, but right now I'm just doing what has to get done that day):

Since I am now attempting (and kinda failing) to wrangle three different blogs at once, I figured I'd better have a couple pages devoted solely to blog work:

I also hunted around the internet for a few pre-made free download type things (Oh Pinterest you lovely, useful, terrible timesuck!) I found a monthly calendar for the rest of 2013, which is right at the front, as well as a meal planner page. I also formatted some to-do lists and notes pages to match.

And then I sewed all the signatures together (an adventure, since I'm generally used to only doing one) and added a cover. It's made out of cardboard cut down to size, some pretty scrapbook paper to wrap around it, and duct tape for the binding (because I'm lazy and an actual bound spine sounded difficult. Besides, duct tape really does do everything!) Then I used double stick tape to put in some end papers and attached a piece of elastic under the back one and voila! A pretty, incredibly useful, exactly-what-I-wanted planner, and best of all I made it myself! I'm a little proud... can you tell?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Nerd Wall

Having moved in with James, I had to figure out where to display all my nerd stuff. So I made myself a nerd wall in the office:

James got a nerd wall too, but his isn't anywhere near as epic. :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beady! is my something creative. Please note that I am not on the website but I have been filling in for a few months with vocals and bass. In the time that I've been with the band we've written five new songs and recorded (in an actual studio with mixing and stuff because Beady's signed with a label!) one of them! Beady's been on local radio and next month we've got a show scheduled in Nashville to 2,000 people. Heck. Yes. I won't be with them much longer but it has been pretty fun and I'll be able to say one day that I was on the radio and a CD, because this new song is killer.

MOST awesome side note of ALL TIME: guess who has two thumbs and is debt free? THIS GIRL.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Writing Stuff!

So I went back and forth on what to share for this topic. I've got a massive ongoing fanfiction project concerning the Harry Potter next gen kids (which can be found here if you're at all interested in perusing).

But what I thought I'd actually post is part of a short story I wrote last year and have been compulsively editing ever since, because I'd like some feedback on it. I don't want to post the whole thing because of the Internet being forever and I'd like to get this published some day, but I will post about the first half, and if you're at all interested in reading the whole thing, let me know. :)

So! Without further ado:

How a Knight in Dented Armor Saved a Disappearing Maiden: A Modern Fairy Tale

My name is Darcy, and the truth is, I spent most of my life trying to disappear.
At school, I was a shy, quiet bookworm who sat at the back of each class, never drew attention to herself, and had a distressing tendency to stammer when forced to communicate verbally. I had no real friends, I spoke only when spoken to, and I did not get along with my peers. You wouldn’t have either, if you’d had the misfortune of being born to parents who thought it a grand idea to name their daughter after the most famous romantic male figure in literature. And even to those who didn’t know from Pride and Prejudice, Darcy was just a weird name for a girl, and teenage adolescents delight in ridiculing the weird. So I spent my days at school just waiting until I could get home.
At home, as soon as my homework was done (so far as my parents knew), I was 1DistressedDamsel, a member and part-time moderator of the Once Upon a Time forums, an online community for fairy-tale lovers, debaters, and afficionados. Fairy tales had been one of my escapes for years – worlds where everybody knows about the damsel in distress and the story doesn’t end until she’s found. I read them constantly, and finding an online site entirely dedicated to their discussion? Talk about love at first sight.
Much as I love Once, though, I can’t pretend it wasn’t part of the disappearing act. I hid myself online behind words and pixels the way I hid myself in real life behind silence and a curtain of hair. I posted no pictures of myself, didn’t reveal my actual name, and left my profile page scarce on real life details.
At school or online, I was invisible, the only difference being that on Once, my invisibility didn’t keep me from being noticed. I still had a presence. A strong one, too. Once was my haven, my escape, my kingdom far, far away. Its members were my preferred peers, the people I spoke my mind with, shared inside jokes with, laughed with. They were my closest friends, and for a long time, they meant far more to me than anyone in my real life.
Here’s where my story begins: a girl sits in a desk in the back of a classroom, spending the last few precious moments before class begins immersed in a favorite Robin McKinley fairy tale novelization, reading faster as the teacher moves to the front of the room, desperate to finish her chapter even though she’s read the book so many times it’s falling apart. But then the teacher starts to speak, and the girl abandons her story world, looking up in horror because the words she is hearing are heart-stoppingly familiar — they are hers.
Some background: about a year earlier, a thread had been started on Once’s Knights, Princes, and Heroes sub-forum by a bunch of radical feminists. The thread was devoted to bashing Prince Charming and all those Knights in Shining Armor types, and while I could certainly see where they were coming from – fairy tales, especially Disney’s, seem to feature a whole lot of helpless damsels who can’t think for themselves – it didn’t seem fair to place all the blame on the princes and heroes who were, after all, just doing their duty, and I said as much. I got shouted at almost immediately, which in forum terms meant that several raging responses, written in all caps and containing a multitude of unearned slurs, were posted to my comment, bashing me and everything I stood for, placing all responsibility for setting modern feminism back 50 years squarely on my shoulders. At this point, I did what I would never have done in real life – I reported them all to the moderator and got their accounts suspended for breaking Once’s Terms of Service. The moderator in question, JustAnotherVegetable, wrote me a personal apology and said I’d made some interesting points and I should consider writing an essay for the site. And that essay, “In Defense of Shining Armor,” was what Mrs. Murdoch chose one day to read aloud to my English class.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

New Drawing!

I think I finally nipped my posting problem in the butt!  Here goes:

This topic has impeccable timing actually because I just drew something the other day  that I really like  =)  I can't wait to see the rest of your creations!

Copyright 2013 Katelyn Crotty


Creative Topic!

Next week's topic: Show us something you created!

This is can be a story, a craft, home improvement project, art, whatever - something you made and would like to share.


So, the list that I made under the Topics tag at the top of the blog is different from the list Heidi posted last week. We'll get that sorted ASAP, but in the meantime, for now and for future reference: if we ever have a week where a topic doesn't get posted, shall we just treat it as a general update week? As in, give us a life update?