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  • Movie Theater Madness

    Lynchburg got a new "cheap theater" after the old one closed down a couple of years ago. Our movie theater outings have gone up by quite a bit. We don't always get snacks when we go, but here and there we'll grab a box of candy and a drink. (Movie theaters make most of their money from concessions, and I really want to keep this place in business!)

    So I've been thinking about it, and here's my top three movie theater candies. Your mileage may vary.

    1. Junior Mints
    These are a good, solid choice. They're not overly sweet like some candy, and the minty flavor keeps you from tossing them back too fast. They make a nice sweetness contrast to popcorn, in my opinion. 

    2. Sour Patch Kids
    I would say that these aren't too sweet, but they are literally dusted in sugar. I'm pretty sure I like the blue ones the best, but I couldn't really tell you what any one flavor is. They're sweet and sour and fun - the only downside is that it's easy to have the box just about gone before the movie starts.

    3. Milk Duds
    Rich, gooey, and sweet. I like to suck on these until they're super soft rather than chonk through the tough carmel. Unfortunately these tend to stick together if you let them sit in your lap for too long, and they need a drink to go with them. But, I still like them every once in a while. They're a candy that I only get at the movie theater, which makes them special. 

  • I just can't handle

    9 Things I Just Can't Handle

    (just for fun. don't take this too seriously)

    9. When someone uses the microwave and leaves the display on the remaining time rather than actual time.

    8. Super smelly things in the morning. Like dog kibble. 

    7. Food in the sink. What was once spaghetti, once it touches the sink, is automatically gag worthy.

    6. When something should be working and isn't. Like the internet.

    5. Super adorable animals, SQUEEEEEE.

    4. When a movie or book has no character growth. 

    3. Ham. Ew.

    2. When people or things are late. 

    1. Dreary days. It's a struggle to even get out of bed. 

  • Retreading old hangouts

    Lately I've been thinking about what it would be like to return to a couple places I've lived. Places I haven't been for quite some time. 

    I've missed Colorado since the day we left, and I've never stopped wanting to see it again. I know that things are a lot different since we moved away almost 20 years ago. Google Earth tells me that the smallish town I lived in is much, much more developed. The field behind my house is now a subdivision, though we knew that was going to happen when we left. The population of Colorado has exploded since we left. 

    I know that things wouldn't be the same, but I can't shake the feeling of wanting to go back. To drive around Greeley and Evans, see what I remember. Go up to the mountains, because there's just nothing else like them. It's been long enough that Colorado doesn't feel like home - I don't really have the emotional attachment to it any more. It was a good memory, and I'd like to see it with my adult eyes. The downside is that Colorado is so far away, and it would require a decent bit of planning to pull that off. You know, like an actual vacation, like most people take from time to time. 

    I've also toyed with the idea of going back to visit New Jersey. I know. I know. I wanted to get out of there so bad that I agreed to go live in the arctic tundra of Michigan for eight years. There wasn't much I liked about living there. But I still think it would be fun to go back and visit. 

    The fact that I haven't had pizza that even comes close to as good as what was in Jersey MIGHT have something to do with it. Seriously, I've had dreams about driving up to New Jersey for pizza. 

    When I left New Jersey, I couldn't drive. Well, technically I could, but I was a huge chicken. I refused to drive on highways, and if you haven't been there, NJ has highways everywhere. I'd like to go back as the confident person I am now, and see how it stacks up. It can't be nearly as bad as I remember, right? 

    Will I take either of these trips? No idea. Seems like the only time I leave the state is to head up to Michigan. No offense, Michigan, but that same trip gets a little boring. I get a bit stir crazy. 

    Or hey, we could go to Disney World. I've never been there. That would be fun. ;) 

  • Dapper Collars

    I've been a little obsessed with the idea of Vizzi in a bow tie for some time now. He's just such a dapper little dude. So I found a collar the other day with a bow tie on it, and I about squealed. Behind it was a little pink polka dot collar with a pink flower on it, and that was it. It was clearly meant to be. I snapped up those collars faster than you can say "dapper do dads". 

    I managed to slice open my finger trying to get the collars free from their packaging, and I may have added some unintentional color to Cuppie's collar. (I think it washed off) 

    I haven't gotten a good picture of Vizzi's bow tie, but you get the idea. He's cute. Cuppie looks like a proper little lady, which cracks me up. 

    Yeah, I'm one of those people who does crazy things to their cats. At least they don't seem to care about this one. They've been wearing collars since they were tiny, so it was no big deal to them after the first thirty seconds. 

  • Helping the Helpless

    I saw a local news story the other day about someone who threw two kittens out of a moving truck. One of the kittens survived, but the other was killed before they could be rescued. There's a thousand dollar reward for information on the person who did it.

    Ugh, right?

    It's easy to ramble on for a while, raging about what kind of person could do something like this. The obvious, succinct answer is that it's someone who has no empathy for animals.

    But it made me look down at my goobers, wrestling each other while their poofy tails flop back and forth. If someone with less empathy had found them, they wouldn't be here today. Same goes for Aery (and every other unwanted kitten, really) - the lady was giving away the kittens in a last ditch attempt before taking them to the shelter. Of course, who knows if they would have actually made it to the shelter. (Or if they would have made it out. High kill shelters are not friendly places for tiny kittens.)

    If, by some means, you come into possession of an animal that you don't want and cannot take care of, please, find a nearby shelter or rescue. If you can go the extra mile to take them to a "no kill" shelter, so much the better. Many places have intake hours - if you are outside of those hours, hang onto the animal overnight if you can. If you absolutely cannot, do you have any neighbors, friends, family, who can take the animal overnight for you? Don't just dump an animal in a box on a shelter's doorstep. They could get free and get lost, could freeze to death, or end up prey. You could also look up nearby vets or emergency vets and ask if they will take the animal overnight. Even if they officially can't, it wouldn't surprise me if one of their employees would be willing to do so. Yes, I'm asking you to make a small sacrifice to make sure the animal gets to safety, but in the scheme of things, it's one day over the course of an animal's life - and yours. Not only is it the kind thing to do, it's the right thing. They're living, breathing, feeling creatures, and whatever "The Incredible Journey" might have taught us, most young animals can't find safety on their own. 

  • Our First Christmas Tree

    Our First Christmas Tree

    For the last ten years, we haven't had our own Christmas tree. It was hard to figure out where we would put one, and I wasn't too keen on the idea of storing one from year to year when we hadn't put down roots anywhere. (Odds that someone would steal the tree out of our basement storage?)

    But the biggest reason we gave was ten pounds or less. Aeris. We were sure that she would be all in a Christmas tree, knocking it over, eating things, causing havoc, and it just didn't seem worth it. 

    But this year we decided that we didn't care. There was a spot in our living room where we could technically fit a tree. Of course it would be a little bit inconvenient, but we could make it work for a month or so. Aeris probably wouldn't cause too much trouble with a tree, but Cuppie has Aery's curiosity x10, and almost no fear to slow her down. So it's not like we thought we'd fare better with this arrangement of animals. 

    I would rather have the memories of the things I did do, even if they are imperfect or inconvenient, than regret the things I didn't do. Hence, getting a tree. We didn't go for anything too expensive, and we bought minimal, shatterproof ornaments to keep it simple should this go south. 

    Does Buttercup like to chew on the tree branches? Absolutely. 
    Does she try to chew on the lights? Ugh. Yes. 
    Does she bat at the ornaments? Yeah, and it's pretty dog gone cute.

    So far, (knock on wood) the cats have actually been a lot better behaved than I thought. The tree hasn't tipped over yet. They all kinda take turns napping underneath the tree, and it's really cute.

    It feels cozy. It feels ... like Christmas. If the tree falls over, we'll put it back up. As long as no one gets hurt, I don't really care. But I'll tell you what, in a few years, Matt and I will be talking about the first Christmas where we had to say "Cuppie, nooooooo" about a dozen times a night. Each. 

  • Borderlands!

    Why did no one tell me that the Borderlands series is awesome?!

    I mean, I'm sure that people did. I even tried to play the original Borderlands a time or two. But it felt really overwhelming. I couldn't get a grip on what was happening, I died too often, and it was just a lot of chaos. 

    Maybe starting out in four player mode wasn't the way to go.

    Matt and I have been hooked on the Telltale games for a little while now. We picked up Tales From the Borderlands a little while ago, even though neither of us had completed a Borderlands game. That game is hilarious and well done - as most Telltale games seem to be. (Well done, I mean. Not all of them are hilarious. I'm looking at you GoT and Walking Dead.) It got us really intrigued about the regular Borderlands games. So we picked up "The Handsome Collection" for the ps4. That contains Borderlands 2 and the pre-sequel. Unfortunately, the original Borderlands isn't available on the ps4, and our ps3 is on the fritz. We both have it on the pc, but we've been really into the console gaming lately. 

    Holy cow, we had so much fun playing Borderlands 2. I can definitely appreciate the characters in the Telltale game more, knowing where they came from. I've never been good at playing shooters on consoles - well, correction, not since Goldeneye N64. So I was pretty sure that I was going to be terrible at Borderlands. And I was. But the game is pretty forgiving, and having a partner who is marginally more competent really helped. At the very least, if he kept pace with my death rate, I didn't feel so bad. 

    But once we got into it and understood how to play our characters a bit better, it was a blast. I can't remember the last game that we both had so much fun playing. 

    We've moved onto the pre-sequel as of a couple nights ago, and that is also a lot of fun. It has even more playable characters, and as a personal perk, half of them are female. 

  • Console Wars

    Recently, I finished Console Wars by Blake J. Harris. Coming in at a little over 600 pages, it's a good chunk of book. I ended up chipping away at it on my tablet over a couple months, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment. It was a really interesting read, for a few different reasons.

    Console Wars has a lot of facts and backstory on the big three console makers in the early-mid 90's. For instance - did you know that Nintendo started out as one man who made playing cards? Japan had a ban on playing cards until the late 1800's. When that ban was lifted, Nintendo was one of the first makers to hit the market - and their cards were better quality than a lot of others, so they took off. I love reading about things like that. 

    Another point of interest for me is that the bulk of this book takes place around the time that I was just starting to play video games myself. I wasn't necessarily old enough to get excited about video games coming out, but Sonic 2 was one of the first games I really played with my dad. (Along with Mortal Kombat, Streets of Rage, Street Fighter...) For me, it was really interesting to see what was going on behind the scenes during a time period I can remember. (I mean, I read my fair share of history books, and I have no practical knowledge of Tudor england, so this is cool in a different way)

    It's also interesting to see how the choices made by these companies over 20 years ago now have shaped how the industry has taken shape. If it weren't for Sega pushing back against Nintendo, they may have continued to dictate fiercely how stores could handle their products. Like not offering discounts. You read that right. It's because of Sega that Nintendo was forced to discount their games from time to time. 

    What makes this book really shine is that it's not just an impersonal narrative filled with facts. It primarily follows the journey of Sega's Tom Kalinske as he turned Sega into a real competitor for Nintendo in the early 90's. Throughout the book, you get to know the people involved in the story. As the book starts to wind down, it's even more frustrating that Sega of Japan made such poor decisions for their American counterparts, because you've spent so much time with them. 

    How would Sega have fared if they hadn't pushed the Sega Saturn out to America too soon? What if they had tried to work harder with their Genesis software, the way Nintendo had a rebirth of the SNES with Donkey Kong Country? 

    Seeing the glory days of Sega, and seeing now what they've become - which is hardly a blip on the gaming radar - it's depressing. But if you have any interest in the history of video games, this is a journey worth going on. 

  • Stop shutting your brother in the closet, Cuppie

    Last night, Matt and I were playing Borderlands 2 in the living room. I kept hearing a noise that I couldn't identify, but made me think that one or more cats were up to something. So when a few generic "Hey, knock it off" calls didn't work, I hopped up and went into my office to intervene. 

    I found Cuppie standing by the closet door, which had been pushed shut. From her frantic pawing, I knew there was something in there she was desperate to get. So I wasn't too surprised when I opened the door and there sat Vizzi. Funny thing about those kittens - they're pretty good at closing doors, but they are rubbish at opening them. So basically, Cuppie shut her brother in the closet and then went 'oops oops oops!' when he couldn't get back out. 

    Those two, I tell ya.

    I took them to the vet this week, in their stylish new bags. (Cat-in-the-bag.com) They've definitely outgrown being able to smoosh in the same crate, so I had to figure out a new solution for vet visits. I could place them in separate crates, which wasn't ideal because they find being together comforting. Or, I could haul around a large crate for the two of them, which wasn't ideal because who wants to lug around a large crate. I'd looked at the bags before, and been intrigued. The theory is that they feel secure in the bag, but not super confined like in a crate. In my case, if they were each in a bag, they could still hunker down with each other and be comforted. (Okay, let's be honest. Vizzi will chill out because his sister is there. Cuppie is pretty much fine on her own.) 

    I was pleasantly surprised when the bags did exactly what they promised to do. The cats were comfortable and happy (as much as cats can be when they're taken to the vet). They behaved beautifully for their exams - Vizzi went first, and when they were done looking him over, he just curled up and went to sleep. The vet also thought these bags were amazing - it's a 'stress free' solution for cats who get stressed out by crates, aren't used to them, and so on. I'll admit, I liked the kids being the talk of the building - and not for peeing on someone. (GWEN) Speaking of, next time Gwen has to go to the vet, I'm going to try taking her in a bag as well, since she is definitely not a fan of the crate. 

    For the record, Cuppie is just a hair over 8lbs, and Vizzi is just about 9.5lbs. Since they turn 8 months old tomorrow, that means Cuppie is right on target and Vizzi is an overachiever. But he's also built differently than she is - I think he's just going to be a larger, solid boy. They both outweigh Gwen now, though. Poor Gwen.