Good Things

This is a general collection of reviews about products I’ve been using and never bothered to provide a follow up about them. I was not paid to use or write about these products, and I did not receive any of them for free, at a discount, or in exchange for a review. Several of them are items that you all kindly recommended, so I wanted to let you know how they are working out. THANK YOU to anyone who has ever recommended that I try something, I really do appreciate it. Also, at the end, I am seeking input on backpacks if you want to just skip down to that.

In June, I complained that my preferred pair of exercise underwear had gone kaput, and the company no longer made made them. Y’all recommended several different brands, so I tried several of them! As a note: I appreciate those of you who suggested Lululemon, but I don’t shop there. Part of that is my personal bias toward their celebration of and tragic misunderstanding of Ayn Rand’s philosophy (which doesn’t seem to really jive with what I understand to be the values of the yoga community), but also their founder was a real jackass (I know that he is no longer involved). Anyway, just not a fan or Rand or Lulu.

Patagonia Briefs

W'S BARELY BIKINI, Geo Diamond: Black (GBEK)

I ordered three different styles (the Barely Bikini, Active Hipster, and Active Hipster) to try. All three were great for hiking, wearing in general, and passed the sink washing/quick drying test for future travel. I prefer the Barely Bikini for working out because they don’t move at all when I’m running or lifting weights, and I never felt like they were trapping in heat. Overall, I liked all three and recommend finding the one that best fits your curves.

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Bikini Brief

Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Bikini Brief, Hot Coral, large

This pair was also a good fit for my body. They don’t move around at all, I never get a wedgie, they dried quickly, and they didn’t make me feel hotter.

Knixwear Athletic Bikini

These were not the right fit for my ample backside. They cut in a bit too narrow at the bottom which made them move around a lot when I was working out. Based on reviews, I ordered a size up in addition to the normal size I would wear. My normal size was so small that I could tell it wasn’t going to work before I even got them past my thighs, so those went back. These might be a tiny bit too large which probably compounds the issue, but I don’t have time for moving undies when I’m running.

Knixwear 8-In-1 Evolution Bra

While the undies didn’t work out, I also ordered one of their bras that looked interesting and I LOVE IT. There are still plenty of shirts that I wear my normal bras with, but this one is so comfortable it’s unreal. When I first put it on it was super tight, but after a few weeks it fit perfectly. It’s so comfortable, it feels light, I don’t feel nearly as hot in it, no wires, and there’s no ugly cup seam or unwanted bulges in the back. It’s expensive ($55), but I have two now and have been thrilled with them. They also have a lot of sizes.

Amazon Fire TV/ Fire Stick

A little less than a year ago, we cancelled our cable. I was petrified. I love my shows SO MUCH. After doing some research, I bought Amazon Fire TV for the living room since you can plug the internet cord (I don’t know the proper term – sorry) from the modem directly into it. We watch the majority of our shows in the living room, so I wanted to make sure we had the fastest connection for that TV. I can honestly say that I have not missed cable at all. We bought a cheap antenna so we get some local channels in case we need the local news or to watch something live (like the Olympics), but otherwise, it has been rare that I have been frustrated that I didn’t have access to something immediately.

A lot of the apps are great (Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, PBS, Masterpiece, Starz, Showtime) and a lot of them suck (FX). An annoying problem that still exists is that channels like AMC don’t have a subscriber option that allows people without cable to watch shows. We could buy their shows on iTunes, but iTunes doesn’t have an app for Amazon, so we would have to hook a computer to the TV to watch the show which requires effort (it also costs money). The seventh season of Walking Dead is now out on Netflix, so we are finally catching up. I actually didn’t miss it at all and Sari had to convince me to give the season a try. The only major negative that I see about Fire TV is if someone in the household is a big sports fan. To my knowledge, there is not yet a way to access sports on demand or live yet. Since I don’t care at all about sports (except the Olympics), this doesn’t impact me at all. Update: You can subscribe to ESPN through Sling TV!

I have a Prime subscription, so I always have access to that content and we pay for Netflix year round. PBS is free, and the other premium channels (HBO, STARZ, Showtime, HULU) we only subscribe to in months where there is a show that we are watching (Outlander, Game of Thrones, Handmaid’s Tale). It is very easy to manage the subscriptions through Amazon.

I liked the Fire TV so much that I bought a Fire TV Stick for my room when it was on sale before Christmas. There is no monthly fee for either of the Fire TV devices which is great. We haven’t had any problems subscribing to shows and watching them (Sari got a free Roku and we often can’t get our subscription to connect to that device). The only thing I don’t like about the stick is that the remote for the living room box is a voice remote. So, instead of spending ten minutes scrolling back and forth over a keyboard on the TV typing out My Cousin Rachel, I can just say it to the remote. I think the new Fire TV Stick comes with the voice remote, so that solves that issue. It’s so handy! We also have connection issues on occasion when we have two TVs going and are on computers and/or phones. That’s an internet problem, not a Fire TV issue, but something to consider.

In conclusion, I’ve been totally happy with the functionality and options on both devices. I can also rent movies on demand or buy them which is super handy. We have not spent more than $30 a month on app subscriptions which is significantly less than our previous $145 cable bill. Win!

Now, for backpacks.

In 2002, I purchased a North Face Borealis backpack for college. She was spacious, sturdy, and comfortable. Since then, she has been with me through three degrees and eight years of college, traveled to seven countries, visited 12 national parks, lived in five cities, and flown with me all over the place. After 15 years of service, the interior is starting to dissolve and she needs to be replaced.

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Naturally, I reordered the same backpack since this one had treated me so well. Unfortunately, when it arrived it was much smaller and had a problematic feature. If you look at the bottom left of the above picture, you will see what looks like a half circle pad sticking out. This padding protects my hips from the waist strap when I’m carrying a bunch of crap (which is always). The new Borealis doesn’t have that feature:

Those straps will cut me right in two because my backpack is ALWAYS overpacked. I am looking for something that is functional for both carrying on a plane and day hikes. I need those padded hip sections! I ordered this Osprey pack, but now after looking at I don’t know how convenient it will be for backpacking.

FARPOINT 40

I also have issues with the straps on my big Osprey backpack because they are pretty slim which cuts into my shoulders when I’m wearing it for a long time (also, because it’s always overpacked and stupid heavy). I also have the Osprey Skimmer on the way to to try out, but I am already thinking it’s too small.

SKIMMER 16

For all your outdoorsy folk and travelers, I would greatly appreciate any recommendations you have for backpacks.

Wheels

This weekend went pretty well until the northern half of the state caught on fire Sunday night. Please send donations and anything you can to these poor people. Thousands and thousands of people went home to nothing but ash yesterday. It’s an apocalyptic horror and so many people I know have family and friends who have lost everything. The last couple of months have been brutal for the country in terms of natural disasters, and fire season is just hittting it’s peak. 


I know that’s a downer start, but it’s pretty much all anyone here can talk about or think about right now. The enormity of rapid devastation caused these fires are unbelievable. 

Before the fires began, I got to spend the weekend with my parents which was wonderful. When my car got hit, I started talking to my parents about buying my mom’s Jeep Cherokee. It’s only two years old, and she’s never really liked it anyway. It’s white (she wants her vehicle to always be RED) and the clearance is too low for her taste (she’s a country gal who likes to ride high). I definitely didn’t want to buy a new car, but I’ve never bought a used car, so that made me nervous. With my mom’s Jeep I knew it was well taken care of. When my Jeep (RIP) was officially totaled a few weeks ago,  I started making plans with them to get the Jeep out here. I figured that I would fly into Austin, pick up the Jeep, then drive it back to California. Easy peasy. Image result for nope gifEven though I am a grown ass woman, my dad was NOT HAVING IT. He decided that he wasn’t going to let me drive that far alone because any number of terrible things could happen (I wonder where I inherited all of that anxiety and natural inclination for pessimism from?). He decided that he would drive it out himself and I could pay to fly him back. I didn’t want him driving alone either, so I put the kibosh on that plan. As a compromise we agreed that I would fly in to Austin, then we would drive the Jeep to California, and I would then arrange for him to fly home. It all seemed pretty simple until my mom got wind of the plan.Image result for nice try gifUnder no circumstances was my father allowed to travel to California without her in tow. Come hell or high water, she was coming. So, in the end and for the sake of staying in my mother’s somewhat okayish graces, we agreed that they would drive the Jeep out together and I would pay to fly them home. They left on Thursday and arrived on Saturday morning which gave us almost two full days together before they flew out early yesterday morning. It was such a nice bonus visit and I am endlessly grateful that they not only allowed me to procure their vehicle, but that they also drove it all the way here. They really are the best. We enjoyed many a sandwich and lots of TV. My mom showed up with this stuff and I advise you that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you buy it.

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It is absolutely addicting and I couldn’t enough of it which is great because I definitely needed another food item that I could struggle to control myself around. It’s got that “whole grain energy” though, so I should be unstoppable this week since I ate a whole bag of it.

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As I’ve mentioned before, my parents have dial-up internet (so no streaming anything) and they don’t have cable at home. They typically have to wait until Netflix gets the Game of Thrones DVDs before they can watch a new season, but since they were in town, we watched the seventh season together. I missed SO MUCH the first time. Good grief. There was so much writing on the wall (RIP wall). My dad has also taken to calling Jon Snow “Ice Cube,” so that feels particularly fitting.

Image result for jon snow gif season 7

I made it to Orange Theory yesterday morning after I dropped my parents off at the airport and I am going again this morning. I didn’t go at all last week because I just felt deeply sad and hopeless over Vegas. I was useless. Trying to get back on track this week because sulking at home won’t help anything. 

Las Vegas

It feels asinine to talk about my weekend considering what happened in Las Vegas. And while I wish as a society that we could agree to take steps to change what type of guns and ammunition are purchased and who can buy them, I also realize that if Sandy Hook wasn’t horrific enough to inspire change, then nothing is. I’m not advocating that people don’t get to own guns, but the way we are regulating them isn’t working. I also realize that “guns don’t kill people – people kill people,” but unless you’re aware of a way to predict and control human behavior, then that’s not going to get us anywhere.

Did you know that you are actually more likely to die from gun violence than a car wreck in Nevada? That is absurd. I keep seeing people expressing “thoughts and prayers,” while others have stated that there’s “not much we can do” about gun violence. There is plenty we can do, but we decide not to do a damn thing over and over again. You can demand that we “do better,” but that means you have to take an action and DO SOMETHING. We let the NRA exert too much political influence, then we wonder why politicians don’t enact stricter gun laws. Vox has 17 maps and charts detailing gun violence in America and it’s pretty sobering.

I don’t expect anything to change because it’s not in most people’s self-interest to demand it, but the upcoming gun silencer bill isn’t helpful. Even though it looks as if it has been put off temporarily, it doesn’t take long for people to forget tragedy. I’ve been calling my congressional members and writing to them asking that they not approve measures to loosen restrictions on silencer sales and to pass the bill deregulating armor-piercing ammunition. The NRA-backed bill is supposed to make it easier for hunting wildlife, but it is not hard to imagine how much easier it is to kill people when you have the option to significantly quiet the sound of shooting and can buy bullets that can travel through multiple humans. Do you think that easing access to armor-piercing ammunition is going to make our police officers any safer out there?

Also, as a reminder, white American men remain a greater domestic terror threat than Muslims from foreign countries

Interim Over It

It is with overwhelming joy and relief that I happily announce that the Interim Nightmare is over. We hired a vice president, he started work this week, and Lisa is now back in our office.

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Not to be overly dramatic, but the past four and a half months have been difficult and TERRIBLE. I’ve gained 11 pounds, my skin is a wreck, and I have been at constant level of high rage. That’s not good for anyone. Doing two jobs sucked and I do not enjoy going home at 8 or 9 pm just to spend a few more hours working on laptop. I will put in whatever amount of time it takes to get a job done, but I do not want that job to consume ALL of my time. A workaholic I am not. We tried to recruit a faculty member to be a faculty fellow for our office over the summer to help me, but SHOCKINGLY no one was interested. I just can’t believe they didn’t want to give up their summer of relaxation (or escape from the classroom to do actual research) to do frustrating bullshit and minutia for 100 hours a week. So strange… Anyway, I already feel like a much better person now that she is back in the office. The team is back together!

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I was initially excited because I thought my workload would decrease dramatically when she returned, but I’ve quickly realized that there are so many things I’ve had to put off over the last few months that I’ll be buried in that pile for a while. I also took on a new responsibility because I opened my BIG STUPID MOUTH. I made a comment that it didn’t make sense to have our commencement event planning team in the division they were in, and that I was sick of people disrespecting them since we had to move venues and change up our ceremonies (because of their rules and the cost). Guess who is over commencement now????

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I need to learn to control my sass. Oh well, a new adventure awaits! I am looking forward to making better food choices, eating less feelings, and exercising more consistently now that Lisa is back, so we will see how that goes.

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I also had a follow-up appointment with my doctor this week over the kidney stones. She said that the type of stones I had can be caused by overdoing it with almost anything. Too much red meat, dairy, alcohol, sugar, carbonated water, and even vegetables! I am fairly confident which of those things I haven’t had too much of.

Image result for seinfeld cheese gifIn conclusion, life is looking up and I am thrilled to have my friend back in the office. Maybe I’ll be a nicer and more patient person soon. Just kidding. I would never.

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Nope. We are fully stocked over here.

Death Becomes Her

I was minding my own business on Friday and looking forward to an entire day without meetings when I felt a strange pain under my ribs on my left side and my back started hurting. I thought perhaps this was some sort of gastrointestinal upset related to my eating of all the things over Labor Day weekend, so I laid on the floor of my office for a bit hoping that the pain would subside. It didn’t and before long I was drenched in sweat and feeling like I was going to vomit.

Image result for kidney stones gif

I went home and the feeling of pain went from just being located under my ribs to the entire left side of my abdomen. A quick Google later and I felt pretty sure I had kidney stones again. I had a kidney stone back in 2013, but it was nowhere near this painful. It really hurt then, but I didn’t feel like I was going to die. In a flurry of dizziness, nausea, and sweat, I drove myself to see my doctor. By the time I arrived, the pain felt like someone was inside my abdomen slicing me up with a fire sword.

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They gave me a shot of some kind of pain medication, then let me hang out there screeching in pain for a couple of hours. I also got an ultrasound where the technician found three stones. BITCHES. One was in my bladder, one had just entered the ureter (the tiny pathway from the kidney to the bladder), and the other one was in my kidney. Yay. She also asked me if I had noticed my back hurting in the days leading up to it. My back pretty much always hurts in weird spots for no known reason, so I wouldn’t have specifically realized that anything was off. I did go to acupuncture on Thursday, and she poked around a lot on the left side of my back and said it was tender. She worked on it for a bit, then stuck a bunch of needles in there. Maybe she got the stones moving? Regardless, I spent Friday night on the bathroom floor and by Saturday morning, two had passed and I was barely alive.

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My doctor told me that it could take weeks or months for a stone to come out of the kidney, but the third one passed on Saturday night. A whole day spent not moving, drinking tons of water, and watching Narcos paid off. I also picked up a prescription for morphine on Saturday, so that helped a lot with the final one. The pharmacist was only doing his job, but he spent way to long lecturing me about only using the morphine for “severe pain.” I was standing there sweating, hunched over, and about to pass out. GOOD SIR, GIVE ME THE PILLS.

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I don’t mean this in a joking way, but I can completely understand now how people in chronic pain get addicted to pain medications. The relief that the morphine brought was so overwhelming that the thought of it wearing off in the middle of the night made me borderline hysterical.

I thought I would feel immediate relief with the final one out of my body, but I still feel pretty crappy. My kidney is just throbbing nonstop and my back is still aching. It’s not the level of sharp pain that accompanied the actual movement of the stones, but it’s still pretty miserable.

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I didn’t feel like I was going to die when I woke up on Sunday, so I drove to Tahoe to have lunch with Gretchen and her family. We have been trying to meet up for years, so it was great to finally make that happen. She has the sweetest family and I really would like to steal her little chicken nugget. She is just the cutest little thing.

That was definitely the high point of the weekend and totally worth it. I made it home just in time to get a fever and spend the rest of the afternoon in tears on the couch.

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The end. DON’T GET KIDNEY STONES.