Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Five (Vol. 6)



1)  Seeing Steve 'n' Seagulls perform Sunday.


For those unfamiliar with this band, they are a - get this - Finnish country band that plays bluegrass covers of well known hard rock and heavy metal songs such as AC/DC's Thunderstruck.  It was so much fun!

2)  CBS Sunday Morning's very poignant Celebrating Charlie episode (also last Sunday), honoring long time anchor, Charles Osgood's last episode and subsequent retirement.


I will miss him because I have grown accustomed to his company on quiet Sunday mornings.  However, I completely understand why at the age of 83 he would want to retire and spend more time in his home in the south of France.  

3) The return of the Showtime series Shameless!  I'm thrilled that I don't have to wait until January to see what the dysfunctional Gallagher family is up to.  


4) Blogger Love:  I love what Steph @ Life According to Steph had to say in her post I Knew When I Met You An Adventure Was Going to Happen.  It is a beautiful tribute to her husband and marriage on her anniversary.  All too often love and marriage is portrayed in blogs as perfect.  I enjoy posts that keep it real.  Steph consistently keeps it real.

5) This:

BONUS:


This has become my new favorite commercial.  As I've mentioned before, it doesn't take much to amuse me...  LOL!

Have a great Friday and an even better weekend!  As always, thanks for stopping by!


Linking up with:





Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thoughts on the Zodiac Change


Sometime last week my zodiac sign changed.  Yes, one night I went to bed as an Aquarius and, unbeknownst to me, woke up the next morning as a Capricorn.  
Well, not really...  It wasn't really an overnight event, but it kind of felt that way when I learned of the change!

Yes, the good folks at NASA apparently discovered back in January that there is, and always has been, a 13th constellation in the zodiac, Ophiucus. For whatever reason, though, this news didn't make any headlines until last week.  What exactly caused this story to resurface is beyond me.

Via
Although I've never really paid much attention to astrology and have only read my horoscope out of sheer entertainment, I still found this change...  Weird.  I mean, for forty-something years,  I've been an Aquarius; it's loosely been a part of my identify.  And now, I'm suddenly supposed to be a Capricorn!  I can't go changing astrological signs in midlife!

According to this article, the addition of the 13th astrological sign means that 86% of people were actually born under a different sign than originally thought. Apparently, this upset many people who then blamed NASA for their astrological concerns.  The agency posted their innocence in the matter last Tuesday on its Tumblr page stating that:
…Here at NASA, we study astronomy, not astrology. We didn’t change any zodiac signs, we just did the math.
Apparently NASA's discovery has ruffled a lot of feathers!

Although saying that I'm really a Capricorn after years of being an Aquarius is odd to me, I really couldn't care less.  But, out of curiosity and for basic shits and giggles, I decided to compare the traits of an Aquarian to that of a Capricorn to see which one truly fits me best.


AQUARIUS

According to 123 New Year, Aquarians are:

Witty
Intelligent
Innovative 
Spontaneous
Honest 
Inquisitive
Obstinate
Sarcastic
Aloof
Unemotional

Taking an honest looks at myself, I think I posses 8/10 of these characteristics.  I have indicated the ones that I think I possess above in purple.


CAPRICORN

According to the same website, Capricorns are:

Trustworthy
Dependable
Realistic
Classicist
Humorous 
Rigid
Dictatorial
Doubtful 
Ambitious
Boring

Using the definitions provided on the website, I have indicated the characteristics that I think I possess in purple.  

So, here's the verdict:  I possess 80% of the characteristic traits of Aquarius and only 50% of the traits of a Capricorn.

I think I'm just gonna stick with being an Aquarius.

Here are the newly aligned astrological dates, just in case you are wondering if your sign changed like mine:

Capricorn: Jan 20 – Feb 16
Aquarius: Feb 16 – March 11
Pisces: March 11 – April 18
Aries: April 18 – May 13
Taurus: May 13 – June 21
Gemini: June 21 – July 20
Cancer: July 20 – Aug 10
Leo: Aug 10 – Sept 16
Virgo: Sept 16 – Oct 30 
Libra: Oct 30 – Nov 23 
Scorpio: Nov 23 – Nov 29 
Ophiuchus: Nov 29 – Dec 17 
Sagittarius: Dec 17 – Jan 20

Do you believe in astrology?  Has your astrological sign changed?  If it has, how do you feel about that?

As always, thanks for stopping by! 

Linking up with: 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

5 Fun Things to Do in West Virginia in the Fall


It's no secret that I love my home state of West Virginia.  I love to showcase the state's resilient people, culture, and rugged, natural beauty.  Although I love the Mountain State in every season, Autumn is my absolute favorite time in West Virginia.

There is no shortage of festivals and activities that people can enjoy in West Virginia during the fall, but I've chosen to only highlight five here.  (And these are in no particular order, by the way.)
   
Huntington, WV





Both images via
Throughout the fall, the New River Train offers riders the chance to travel through the scenic New River Gorge and take in the vibrant, explosion of color along the 300 mile roundtrip journey from Huntington, WV to Hinton, WV and back.

Keep in mind that the New River Train only runs on select weekends in mid and late October and departures typically sell out well in advance.


Cass, WV


Via Pinterest
Via
Nestled in the mountains of eastern West Virginia, a ride on the Cass Scenic Railroad transports riders back in time to a bygone era when steam powered locomotives where the norm.

Riders have an option of two different excursions:  the 2-hour, 4 mile roundtrip excursion to Whittaker Station and the 4.5 hour, 22 mile roundtrip journey to Bald Knob.  In the fall, riders are treated to spectacular views of the Appalachian mountains all decked out in their autumn splendor.  Keep in mind that riders sit in open air cars, so warm attire and layers are essential. 


Via


Ansted, WV






Via
Held annually on the third Saturday in November, Bridge Day is one of the largest extreme sports events in the country.  Bridge Day, which celebrates the anniversary of the completion of the New River Gorge Bridge, the longest single span arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere, is the only day of the year in which pedestrians are allowed on the bridge and when BASE jumping is legal.  Hundreds of BASE jumpers and tens of thousands of spectators attend annually.

In addition to watching BASE jumpers leap from the 876' tall bridge into the gorge, thrill seekers can also sign up for a tandem BASE jump.  For the those seeking activities with less of an adrenaline rush, there are numerous vendors, a 5K race, a car show, a bluegrass festival (Bridge Jam), a chili cook-off, and other activities.  One of the most enjoyable activities is to just take in the wonder of the architectural feat that turned a 45 minute drive into the gorge in order to cross the New River into a drive that is now around one minute, not to mention simply enjoying the wondrous views of the the fall foliage in the gorge.   


White Water Rafting
Fayette and Summers Counties, WV

West Virginia is known for its white water rafting.  There are two world class rivers located in southern West Virginia - the New River and the Gauley River.  

Via Pinterest

During the summer and fall, the Lower New offers solid class II-IV rapids.  The fall offers some spectacular views of the autumn foliage.  During spring runoff, however, the river is usually upgraded to a class IV-V, which offers rafters a splashier, bigger water experience.  Trips on the Lower New also give rafters the unique vantage of viewing the iconic New River Gorge Bridge from underneath.

Then, there's the Gauley River, which is known as the Beast of the East.  The Gauley is the most renowned whitewater in West Virginia.  It is always ranked in the top three whitewater rivers in the United States and is consistently considered one of the top 5 in the world.  I, personally, have not rafted the Gauley because it is a more difficult river and requires more rafting skills than I feel I possess.

Via

The Gauley River is known for its big fall paddling season when water is released from Summersville Dam in order to bring Summersville Lake down to winter level.  During dam release days, the Gauley River offers some of the biggest, baddest whitewater around (consistent class V with over 100 rapids).  Rafting the Gauley during the fall is not for the faint of heart.


Rafting trips also take place on the Gauley during the spring and summer, but the whitewater levels during these times is much more tamer.

*There are numerous rafting companies to chose from, but I would highly recommend Class VI.  I have rafted with them numerous times and I have had nothing but exceptional experiences with them.


Gilbert, WV




Via
If you are seeking some adventure and don't mind getting a little dirty, this festival may be for you.  Touted as one of the premiere UTV, ATV, and dirt bike riding events in the country, this weekend festival is a must for trail riding enthusiasts.  

In addition to some awesome trail riding on the Hatfield & McCoy trail system, there are other fun events held throughout the weekend such as scavenger hunts, contests, poker runs, and mud pit racing, to name a few.


For more information on things to do in WV, click here.

As always, thanks for stopping by!


Linking up with:


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Banned Books Week '16 (From the Archives)


Sunday kicked off Banned Books Week, an annual event that essentially celebrates the freedom to read.

Whenever I hear or think about banned books, I always remember this scene from the 1984 movie, Footloose


In this scene, the highly influential Reverend Moore stops the ultra conservative citizens of Beaumont from tossing library books that they deem as offensive and/or unsuitable into a burning trashcan.  He exclaims, "Satan is not in these books!  He's in here, he's in your hearts.  Go on home, all of you.  Go sit in judgement on yourselves."  

That scene and that comment have really stuck with me over the years and I hold the same opinion.  You see, I believe wholeheartedly in freedom of the press, in free speech, in the freedom of access to information, and the freedom of choice.  Those are some of the essential cornerstones on which our country was founded and they are liberties that I, as an American, enjoy.  


Having said that, however, I must also admit that I believe when it comes to children, that appropriateness is key, be it music, movies, video games, online media, or books.  (And let me just state for the record - the whole debate of what is "appropriate" is a discussion for another day and another blog entry.  LOL!  It isn't a simple case of black or white.  It falls into a gigantic gray area.)

So, basically here's my stance: I strongly believe that some books are appropriate for certain ages, but not necessarily for others.  I also believe that the banning of books as a whole is wrong.  

In honor of Banned Books Week, I'm exercising my right to read whatever I damn well please and I encourage you to do the same!  I am reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. 


I chose this book for several reasons.  First, it's an American Classic that I somehow emerged from public school having never read.  Second, it's one of the oldest books ever to be banned and one of the most challenged books of all time. It was first banned in 1885, the year after it was published.  It was called, "trash and only suitable for the slums" back then.  Third, it is considered one of the most influential books that helped shape America by the Library of Congress.   And lastly, due to its age, reading it also helps me satisfy my tenth and final category in a book challenge.

Happy Banned Books Week!  I encourage you to enjoy a freedom that is often questioned, challenged, and denied of many throughout the world.  Happy reading to you!





*Periodically, I unearth old blog entries from my first year of blogging that didn't receive many views in order to give them new life.  Any blog entry that is being given a second shot will feature "From the Archives" after the title. This entry was originally published on September 27, 2015.  It has been edited for grammatical errors and updated in terms of dates, accuracy, and relevancy.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Five (Vol. 5)


1) Banned Books Week starts Sunday


Every year during this week, I make it a point to read a book that has made the banned book list or has been challenged.  This year, I will be listening to the audiobook, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Completing this book will also satisfy my personal goal of reading four classics this year as well as help me finish Book Challenge by Erin 5.0 (TAoHF satisfies the category of reading a book that was written over 100 years ago).


2) Speaking of Erin...  Erin @ TexErin-in-Sydneyland's shout out in her most recent installment of Blogger Love.  
(Thanks, Erin!)  Erin does an amazing job of supporting her fellow bloggers.  I truly strive to be more like her.


3) Steph @ Life According to Steph's thoughts on banned books in her post Any Book Worth Banning is a Book Worth Reading


4) Yesterday's Google Doodle

Yeah, it doesn't take much to entertain me... LOL!


5) This
I'm not much of a pumpkin spice fan, so I'm always amused this time of year by the number of pumpkin spice items that appear and by how crazy some folks become of said pumpkin spiced items.


BONUS:
I'm not much of a country music fan, but this is undoubtedly one of the prettiest versions of Take Me Home, Country Roads that I've ever heard.  Granted, I know I'm VERY partial towards this song, but I think it's absolutely beautiful.  Hearing it makes me very homesick for my mountain mama.

I hope this finds you having a great Friday!  May your weekend be even better!

Linking up with:





Thursday, September 22, 2016

Autumn 2016 Goals


In my adult life, I've never really been one for resolutions, but I do make goals periodically - I just never start them on January 1.  Several examples of goals I've made in the past include:  rafting on the river twice over the summer, completing a half marathon, reading/listening to 50 books/audiobooks in one calendar year, and being one of the first five finishers in a particular book challenge.

So, I'm no stranger to goals.  In fact, I deal with goals on a daily basis in my work.  Every student on my caseload has an IEP (Individualized Educational Program) in which I clearly spell out what I plan to do with them in speech therapy to address their communication needs.  I also provide goals that I think the students can achieve within one calendar year and that is what we work towards in therapy.

I've never been one to be vocal or overly public about my goals; I usually tend to just share them with friends on a need to know basis.  But, considering that I'm on a quest to find my missing mojo, something I made very public last week, I think some clearly defined goals may be in order and I've decided to be completely open about them here.  Apparently, the "floating by the seat of my pants, waiting for opportunities to find me" method I've been relying upon lately isn't working.  Basically, it's time to put up or shut up.  So, as they say, here goes nothing...

GOALS
September 22 - December 20

  • Do at least ONE thing that is new and adventurous.
  • Lose at least 15 pounds more pounds. (I've lost 15 pounds to date, so I'm shooting for  a combined total of at least 30 pounds by Dec. 20.)
  • Complete my Goodreads 2016 Challenge by reading at least 52 books. (As of this writing, I have completed 46, so I have 6 to go.)
  • Do something creative (besides blogging).
  • Establish an exercise routine.


There you have it.  I deliberately kept the number of goals small to keep it simple.  My life is complex enough without complicating the dickens out of something that's supposed to be remedying my situation.  I'll update my progress with these goals sometime around December 20.

What are your autumn goals?

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Linking up with:

&

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - All About AUDIO Freebie



My Favorite Audiobooks That I've Listened to in 2016 (so far)

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

As You Wish by Cary Elwes

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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My Favorite Song of All Time
Livin' on a Prayer by Bon Jovi



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Favorite Audiobook Narrators

Santino Fontana
Santino provided the voice of sociopath Joe in Caroline Kepnes' books YOU and Hidden Bodies.  He was also the voice of Prince Hans in the animated film Frozen.

Zachary Webber
Zachary provided the narration for Breakable and Sweet by Tammara Webber (his mother) and was the voice of Christian Grey in Grey.

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A Podcast You Should Listen To If You Like Discussing Books

This podcast is hosted by two of my blogger acquaintances and fellow book enthusiasts Steph and Jana

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A Song Lyric that I Absolutely Love

I gotta know tonight, if you're alone tonight. Can't stop this feeling, can't stop this fight. 

- Hysteria, Def Leppard


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Audiobook That I'm Looking Forward to Listening To

I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh

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The Most Haunting Song I've Heard Recently
Tell Her You Belong to Me by Beth Hart


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Favorite New (to Me) Musician 
Rock/Blues Guitarist and Singer, Joe Bonamassa


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Band That I'm Incredibly Interested in Seeing Live
Steve'n'Seagulls

They are a Finnish country band that plays bluegrass versions of well known rock and metal songs.

Audiobook I Plan to Relisten to in the Near Future

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I listened to this audiobook a year and a half ago and it was one of my top 5 favorites of 2015.  The movie adaptation will be released in the U.S. on October 7 and I'd like to freshen my memory before seeing the movie.


Is there a song that you have discovered recently that you find especially haunting?  Is there an audiobook that you can't wait to listen to?  As always, thanks for stopping by!



Linking up with The Broke and the Bookish.  
(To learn more about TTT, click here.)  
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