The Bibliophile’s Dirty Thirty

As going with the theme this year, this is another 30 by 30 list that I have created for myself. This one includes one of my favorite things, books and reading. As with any bibliophile, I tend to have books in my collection that I haven’t even read yet. This year, I want to take that pile of unread books and minimize it by a few. Without further ado, here is my thirty books that I want to read by the time I turn thirty.

1. Hyperbole & a Half by Allie Brosh (September 7th)

2. The Dresden Files Series by Jim Butcher

3. Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal

4. Sex at Dawn Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá

5. Doctor Who: The Lost Adventures by Douglas Adams

6. Thanking the Monkey by Karen Dawn

7. Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape by Danica McKelllar

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8. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

9. The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott

10. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

11. Wisdom of the Shire by Noble Smith

12. Dune by Frank Herbert

13. Hot Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman

14.  Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

15. Savor by Thich Nhat Hanh

16. One Square Inch of Silence by Gordon Hempton

17. Just a Geek by Will Wheaton

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18. The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

19. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

20. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

21. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

22. An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore

23. Yes Please by Amy Poheler

24. Behind the Kitchen Door by Saru Jayaraman

25.  The Crowded Universe by Alan Boss

26. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

27. Making Kind Choices by Ingrid Newkirk

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28. Monkey Girl by Edward Humes

29. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

30. Bonk by Mary Roach

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Keep Portland Weird!

Even though I have lived most of my life (adult and childhood) in the Pacific Northwest, I never had a chance to visit Portland, Oregon. It wasn’t until I moved to Bellingham, my city of Subdued Excitement, that I realized how much I needed to visit Portland. This last weekend, I got my wish — I was able to go on a road trip down there to see the sights.

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It was quite a drive down there and I ended up having to take a shuttle van down to Seattle to meet my ride. After a long week, I had totally forgotten that PAX was being held and ended up walking right into the middle of it — Next year at PAX! Next year at PAX!

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After that two-hour ride, it was another three to four hours down the gorgeous I-5 corridor. I learned a new car game on the way down — mind you, it is for adults. It’s called the ‘Ass Car’ game. Whenever you see a car you take the type (not the brand) and add the word ‘ass’ in front of it. For example the Ford Focus would be the ‘Ass Focus’. If you have a raunchy sense of humour like I do, this game can provide you hours of laughter and entertainment.

When we arrived we went to this vegan deli/cafe called Papa G’s Vegan Organic Deli. The food there was absolutely amazing. I was a little hesitant with my choices as I’m new to eating out vegan, but my traveling companion was not and helped me come out of my shell a bit with the choices that are out there for vegans with allergies to wheat and soy. Portland is now my mecca of Becky-friendly restaurants — I absolutely love the amazing food that you can find there. I am definitely going to have to make more trips down there just for the food. Check out these other delicious meals and restaurants I was able to get to while down there:

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 photo 10288768_10154620359270601_8748648101548056849_n_zpse144c8d7.jpgSweet Pea Baking Company (where I happened to sit about five feet away from Aimee Mann)

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Blossoming Lotus 

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No trip to Portland would be complete without a quick stop by the most famous bookstore west of the Mississippi, Powell’s Books. I could get lost in this story and practically did. I was absolutely flabbergasted over by the amazing selection of new and used books and how it seamlessly just flowed together. Next time I go down there, I think I may have to spend just a day in this bookstore. Another stop I wanted to make and sure and get in was the Chinese Gardens. I absolutely adore nature, and want to get it in every road trip or vacation that I take — no matter how small or large. I picked these gardens because they were more unique than say a park or hiking trail. This is a most go for every Portland go-er. I didn’t get a chance to stop off for some tea at the teahouse, but next time I mosey my way on down there, I’m going to take a book or sketching journal and spend a few hours with nature.

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Portland is known for it’s completely alternative culture and it doesn’t disappoint — even in its strip clubs. I’m a very sex-positive person and I believe that sexuality, sex, bodies, etc. should be celebrated in all it’s forms as long as it is consensual and responsible, and Casa Diablo was that place. Casa Diablo is owned by (Johnny Diablo) who is a vegan and has marketed this club as Portland’s only vegan strip club. All the food and drink in the club is completely vegan and he encourages his dancers to vegan as well. With a warm and friendly atmosphere, this is the opposite of what you think of when you stereotypically hear strip club. The girls are great, the are athletes (I dare you to try to do what they did!), and the music was great. If you want some late night, adult fun — this is the place for you.

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Speaking of vegans, Portland is one of the most vegan-friendly places I have ever been to, and that is including Bellingham. In fact, there is a strip mall affectionately known as the Vegan Mall which I was able to visit.  It has a vegan bakery (Sweetpea Baking Company), vegan clothing shop (Herbivore), vegan grocery store (Food Fight) and vegan tattoo shop (Scape Goat Tattoo) all in one shopping center.

On the way out of town on Sunday morning, we stopped by In Other Words Feminist Community Center which happens to be the location for the parodied Women for Women bookstore on the indie hit show, Portlandia. We were hoping it might be open, but alas, they were closed. I’ve already decided that a Portlandia-inspired road trip is going to be planned next.

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I may have fallen in love with Portland at first sight because of this trip. I’ve already started thinking about what I want to do on my next trip down and can’t wait to be pleasantly surprised by what I will see next. Do you have a favorite place to visit in Portland while you are there? Share your favorite ‘weird’ Portland place to visit in the comments.

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100 Must-See Movies

About a week  ago, I turned twenty-nine years old, and realized that in just under a year, I am going to be thirty years old — an age I never thought I would reach. Because of this moment of realization that I’m getting old, I wanted to make some goals and jump on the 30 Before 30 bandwagon to get them done. One of these goals was to watch one hundred different movies that I had never seen before suggested by my friends and family. This is a bit of an undertaking but I’ve already done two of them — or started the second one. Without further ado, here is my list. Let me know if you’ve seen these and what you think!

1. Back to the Future Trilogy (08/11/14)

2. Ghostbusters (08/12/14) & Ghostbusters II (September 2014)

3. Meet Joe Black

4.  Finding Forester

5.  For the Love of the Game

6. The Postman

7. Life is Beautiful

8. A History of Violence

9. Miracle

10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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11. Witches Ghost

12. Say Anything

13. The Graduate

14. Jesus Henry Christ

15. Safety Not Guaranteed

16. Nebraska

17. Moonrise Kingdom

18. Harold and Maude

19. Gattaca

20. Big Night

21. Priscilla Queen of the Desert

22. The Piano

23. La Vie en Rose

24. Upside Down

25. The Opposite of Sex

26. The Legend of 1900

27. Nicholas Nickleby

28. O, Brother Where Art Thou?

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29. Glory

30. Catch Me If You Can

31. Some Like It Hot

32. The Blind Side

33. What Happens In Vegas

34. Big Fish

35. The Witches

36. Shame

37. Jane Eyre

38. All About My Mother

39. Bandits

40. The Big Lebowski

41. Rain Man

42. Good Will Hunting

43. Momento

44. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

45. Pulp Fiction

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46. Empire Records

47. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

48. Kill Bill & Kill Bill 2

49. Almost Famous

50. Brick

51. Robocop

52. The Fall

53. P.S. I Love You

54. Pitch Perfect

55. Shaun of the Dead (August 19th), Hot Fuzz (September 1st) & The World’s End

56. Tron & Tron: Legacy

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57. Cloud Atlas

58. Alien (August) & Aliens

59. Pitch Black

60. ET

61. Meet the Parents & Meet the Fockers & Little Fockers

62. Bowling for Columbine

63. Ghost

64. Gran Torino

65. Casablanca

66. Contact

67. The King’s Speech

68. Antwone Fisher

69. Mouse Hunt

70. Limitless

71. Stripes

72. The Neverending Story

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73. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

74. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (August 17th)

75. Paul (August 19th)

76. Jaws

77. Gremlins

78. Citizen Kane

79. Duck Soup

80. Schindler’s List

81. The Muppet Movie

82. A Nightmare on Elm Street

83. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

84. Edward Scissorhands

85. The Karate Kid

86. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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87. The Shawshank Redemption

88. Goodfellas

89. The Godfather I, The Godfather II, & The Godfather III

90. The Silence of the Lambs

91. Fight Club

92. Die Hard

93. The Green Mile

94. Interview with the Vampire

95. Apollo 13

96. Terminator (September 5th) & Terminator II

97. Rosemary’s Baby

98. Speed

99. Underworld

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100. 28 Days Later

Have you seen any of these movies? So far I am loving being able to participate in more of a shared pop culture with the people around me. After watching the Back to the Future series, I’ve started seeing Doc Brown’s “Great Scott!” phrase popping up in some of my favorite shows and movies.

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30 Before 30

I’d like to say that I am not one to jump on the bandwagon of this 30 Before 30 blogging trend, but that would be a flat-out lie. Today is my 29th birthday and it is hard to believe that I only have one year before I hit my “dirty thirties”. As a little present to myself, I thought I would set thirty goals, events or ideas that I would like to accomplish before next year. So without further ado, here is my list.

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1. Study abroad

2. Reach my goal weight

3. Become a vegan

4. Go skydiving

5. Go skiing

6. Read 30 books

7. Get a 4.0 during one quarter of my undergrad

8. Pay off my personal credit cards and debt

9. Watch 100 must-see movies suggested by friends and family

10. Finish one cross-stitch project

11. Watch a meteor shower

12. Go to a concert with Marcus

13. Organize and set-up office

14. Start a garden in a community plot

15. Develop three new hobbies

16. Get two more tattoos + two more piercings (1 tattoo down – August 2014)

17. Go to Emerald City Comic Con and cosplay

18. Dye my hair bright red or orange

19. Watch all of the Classic Doctor Who episodes

20. Learn how to make thirty new Becky-friendly recipes

21. Start to volunteer at non-profit of choice

22. Complete three new video games

23. Try thirty new kinds of wine

24. Join one student organization

25. Publish the equivelent of a blog post at least once a week

26. Learn five new tabletop games

27. Run a 5K

28. Go on a 10-mile hike

29. Visit my family in Utah

30. Go to thirty new places in Washington State I have never been to before

 

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Why Neville Longbottom was included in my scholarship essay

Earlier this year I started university classes back up for the first time in almost seven years. It’s been a bit of a rocky transition, but I think I might finally be getting a handle on my classes and everything that goes with college life. This is my second “go” at a university-type setting, and it is definitely different than my first. I’m ten years older, ten years more married and have ten years of life experience behind me. Part of these new experiences in school are applying for scholarships, one of which is below. I’ve really enjoyed being able to express myself in essays for scholarships and classes and my love of Harry Potter came through on this one.

Essay Topic:

  • Your topic is to select one fictional or non-fictional character whom you have read in the past, who has had a strong and positive impact to help shape who you are today. This character may be chosen from a contemporary fictional work, a modern creative work (ie. poetry), or may span past historical classics or plays (ie. Shakespeare). You must be sure to describe, in depth, some of the characteristics this individual exhibits and how they relate to who you are and how they have impacted you. For example, were these traits something you closely related to? It’s imperative that you give very specific examples on how you were affected. You may elect to use some selected text from the readings for support, however, the majority of your essay should be your own personal analysis and reflection. In other words, this essay should not be a book report.

Neville

I realized that when I started this essay that my choice of literature might seem childish or common, but the Harry Potter series has changed my life as it has so many other young people in my generation and age. We grew up on these books and movies that have changed our life.

While some people may choose Harry, Hermione or Ron as their character to pull from, I pull from a more minor character, but one that is still so important to the story — Neville Longbottom. Neville enters the story as a bumbling young wizard who is chubby, awkward and unliked. In other-words, me as a child, sans being a wizard.

I was awkward and bumbling and was teased mercilessly. I never seemed to fit in and I couldn’t relate to my classmates without being labeled a ‘weirdo’. This was a phase that I thought would never end and like Neville, I immersed myself in my favorite subjects, hobbies and ideas. Even though I wasn’t an only children, I was a lonely child because of the teasing of my peers. Looking back, I relate myself to Neville, through his triumphs and his sorrows.

At the end of the first book, Professor Dumbledore told Neville that, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” After reading the first book, this is something that has stuck with me. While it may be hard to stand up to our enemies, our friends are people that are close to us in so many ways and it can be harder to stand-up to them than our enemies, or people we hardly know.

My experience in standing up to friends (and family) comes only a few short years ago for me. As a bit of a backstory, I grew up in a restrictive religious household and never questioned what I was taught or told. I went along with everything because that was what was expected of me.

Four years ago, I started to read and explore ideas outside of the confines of my born faith and came up across these same sort of friendship obstacles that Neville did. When I began to question, my friends and family both told me to set those concerns aside and focus on my religion. I realized that I could I either sacrifice my integrity and self to others or stand-up against something I didn’t believe was right — I chose the latter.

Every since that day, I have followed Neville Longbottom’s path on being loyal to my friends who care and love for me as well as fighting for what is right like Neville does with Dumbledore’s Army. I have involved myself in several social justice causes in my community in order to make the place I live better for those around me and those to come. I have worked on environmental, food rights, GBLTQA and other issues that are dear to my heart and would love to work closely with the Harry Potter Alliance an actual non-profit that works on social justice issues with a flair of magic.

You may recall that near the 5th book, it becomes more clear that Neville Longbottom is more than just a minor character, that if Lord Voldemort would have chosen Neville, he might be the one with the scar on his head instead of Harry. When I read this, I realized how important each one of us really are. It doesn’t matter if I am famous or have a lightning-bolt scar on my head because of the Dark Lord — I matter. I have had friends show that to me in my life. What I do matters and I can change the world, little by little.

Even though I have parts of Harry, Ron and Hermione in my personality, I associate closest with Neville. He is who I see myself becoming and who I have always been in the back of my mind. I am not a hero to all, but I can be a hero to just one.

With this knowledge, I plan to continue my education to benefit those in my community and world around me. I want to use my knowledge that I gain in the next few years to help not only myself, but those that I touch so that I can help change the world, one person by one person.

Whether or not I receive this scholarship, I am grateful for the opportunity for a bit of geeky self-reflection to talk about one of my favorite book series and how the characters and stories within have changed my life.

Accio Scholarship!

*Written January 2014

Bellingham Parks Series: Whatcom Falls Park

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The first place in the Bellingham Park Series is Whatcom Falls, one of my all-time favorites in the surrounding area. In fact, it was the first park that Mr. Geek and I went to when we first moved here about six years ago. When you walk into the park it is like you are walking into a whole new world, like an enchanted forest. All you can hear is the crashing of the falls, the tweets of the birds and all the life that is contained in that beautiful park.

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During the spring and the summer, the colors just pop right out. It really is fascinating to see so much wildlife in all the forms of fauna and fern. Check out the following pictures to see all the other amazing shots I was able to catch at the park.

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Whatcom Falls has a bit of a unique history that most city or county parks don’t. The word Whatcom is derived from the Lummi word Xwotʼqom,which means “noisy water”, and by the following video you can certainly see why it is called that.

Every chance I get, I head over to this park, as it is only about five minutes from my home. They even have this cute little fish hatchery (which I didn’t get pictures of this time) where you can see the fish before they release them into the wild.

Whatcom Falls

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