Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pretty Pretty Pictures

Every few months (and sometimes even more often!), NASA releases stunning images from Hubble or other missions. I remember when the Horsehead nebula was discovered and a family friend working on the program gave me a color 8x10 of this iconic image before it was released to the public. It hung in my bedroom for years!

Of course, if I go out into my backyard (or even look out the window from the Space Station), I am not going to see these beautiful, colorful images. This video is a great look into how they go from black and white to eye popping color.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Historically Hardcore

With all the distractions in the world, it can be hard to get kids (and even adults) excited about going to a museum, which is why I think these ads for the Smithsonian are so amazing. What's even more amazing is that they were created for a class and that the Smithsonian asked their logo to be removed. I think the museums need to hire the talented designers (Jenny Burrow and Matt Kapler) who created these ads!

Happy Campers

The Dude, Max and I all enjoy camping, but Layla hasn't had a chance to try yet because my Civic couldn't fit all four of us and the necessary gear. Luckily for her we recently got a new and bigger car so we didn't waste any time before hitting the road!

Because it's a new car, we got a fancy new cover for the backseat so that Max and Layla wouldn't mess it up. It acts kind of like a hammock so you end up with a flap between the two front seats. The dogs immediately realized this was prime chin rest territory and spent the whole ride angling for the best space. They seemed to like the sun roof as well.

I got a lot of reading done and tested out some of the new gear I got for a trip to the Grand Canyon later this year. Unfortunately the area we were in has been very dry so there was a burn ban, which meant no campfires. This was a crushing blow for the Dude. Luckily for him the so-called "Supermoon" was out this weekend so he could spend his evenings watching Layla try to protect us from everything that moved even as she fell asleep. All in all, it was a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's March Madness, Baby!

Like so many other Americans, I know next to nothing about college basketball yet still take great joy in trying to fill out a winning March Madness bracket. Over the years, I've sometimes been reasonably well informed (having watched throughout the season) and sometimes been completely clueless (having watched less games than I can count on my fingers) and it seems to have no affect on my success, or lack thereof.

Which is why this year I am going with a new, foolproof method of predicting the winner. I'm all in!

P.S. For the record, I know this puppy is correct because it shows Penn State winning its first game!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Up, Up and Away!

When the movie Up came out a few years ago, I loved the whimsical idea of filling your home with bright balloons and floating off on new adventures. It turns out I wasn't the only one who was captivated by this idea. Some of the brilliant guys at National Geographic decided to give it a try and they succeeded!

One of the things I found the most incredible about this was the size of each individual balloon. Although they were painted (covered?) to look like regular latex balloons, they were actually weather balloons which were each as tall as a person. I think taking the time to make the real house look as cheerful as the movie one made it even cooler!

Seeing this made me wonder what other movie scenes I would like to see in real life. I think a lot of the buildings and sets in Monsters Inc would be adorable! Any other suggestions?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Separation Anxiety

I talk a lot about my dogs on here, but not much about my other pets. The Dude and I also have a cockatoo (Molly) and two rabbits (Silver and Littlefoot). We adopted the rabbits about 3 years ago under the condition that they would stay together. Apparently rabbits usually do not do well if they are caged with the same gender, but even though Littlefoot and Silver are both (neutered) males, they were best buds, and have been ever since we've had them.

That is, until about two months ago. In the period of less than five days, Silver went from looking healthy to having a huge bald spot on his head. We took him to the vet who admitted he'd never seen anything like it and gave us some steroid cream to try out. While we were using the cream, Littlefoot and Silver had to be separated so that Littlefoot wouldn't lick the medicated cream off Silver's head and a) render it ineffective or b) poison himself since it's not meant to be eaten. To our delight, within two weeks the hair was almost completely grown back and we were able to put the rabbits back together. Until a few days ago, when a bald spot appeared again. The vet had mentioned that one possibility was that the dominant rabbit (which is definitely Littlefoot) could have been plucking/overgrooming Silver and causing the problem. Now that it's happening a second time, it seems more likely that it's a grooming problem and not a health problem. We're looking into a new hutch that keeps them separated but I am devastated to have to split them up as they have always seemed to enjoy each others' company. We're giving them one more try...fingers crossed that it works!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

And the Award Goes To...

I didn't watch the Oscars last week but I did think it would be fun to do my own Oscars for reading. So, for the first time ever, let me introduce the O.S.C.A.R. (Online Statuette Commemorating Alicia's Reading). I am limiting the selection to books that I read in 2010, but they could have been written any time. For some of them I will include nominees as well as a winner.

Best Actress (Female Protagonist)
Lady Margaret Beaufort, The Red Queen
Also nominated:
Elv, The Story Sisters (my review)
Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games trilogy
Annette Vallon, Annette Vallon (my review)

Best Actor (Male Protagonist)
Henry Lee, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Also nominated:
William Marshal, The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion (my reviews)

Best Supporting Actress
Minny Jackson, The Help (my review)
Also nominated:
Geillis Duncan, the Outlander series (my review)

Best Supporting Actor
Martin, Her Fearful Symmetry (my review)
Also nominated:
Henrik Vanger, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Best Documentary (Non-fiction)
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot (my review)
Also nominated:
Born to Run, Christopher McDougall
Superfreakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (my review)

Best Animated Film (Young Adult/Children's Literature)
The Princess Academy, Shannon Hale (my review)
Also nominated:
Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, Adrienne Kress (my review)
The Uglies trilogy, Scott Westerfeld (my review)
Odd and the Frost Giants, Neil Gaiman (my review)

Best Costumes (Best Period Fiction)
The Greatest Knight, Elizabeth Chadwick (my review)
Also nominated:
The Red Queen, Philippa Gregory
The Scarlet Lion (my review)

Have any category suggestions I should add? You may notice I didn't include a "Best Picture/Best Book" category; it was just too hard to choose! I am sure I missed some great books and characters because I didn't do a good job keeping track of what I read last year, but I'm keeping track this year so next year's O.S.C.A.R.s will have an even more exciting field!