And I’m back!

And with that I have finally brought back my blog!  Quick recap: My last month of summer was very busy!  We spent some time in Ohio catching up with some of my lovely family.  After that I only had one week of work left.  It was a great job, and my last week was filled with all of my favorite outdoorsy activities, such as ashing up my face and pretending to be an enemy security guard for the kids.  I will never forget how much fun I had and how much I learned this summer.

 

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Myself with the F-14 Tomcat on the last day of work!

 

I then had a week to get all of my things ready to go back to school, and to spend some time with my family and friends still in town.  That week flew by, and then I moved into my new apartment.  It is a lovely apartment, just a few minutes down the road from school.  There is even a lake in my backyard! (Well, down a path that starts in my backyard!)

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The lake down the path in my backyard!

 

 

Then classes started!  I have to say, my academic adviser is amazing!  Every semester I go to her completely flustered about what I am doing with my life, and she calms me right down and helps me figure out my classes.  Thanks to her, I figured out my schedule.  I am now majoring in Human Geography with a GIS minor.  I am not entirely sure what I want to do with this, but I love it.  I would like to eventually go to grad school for either geography or museum studies.   I do not want to go straight into grad school though, for I would like to take some time and be sure that I am getting my masters in something that I am passionate about and is practical.  I would like to fill that gap year teaching English in Korea. I need to get going on that though!  

This semester I am taking some really interesting classes.  I am taking Geography of Europe, Statistics, Remote Sensing I, Computer Programming, and Special Topics in Vertebrate Paleontology.  Computer Programming is really rewarding!  We are learning Python.  It is something that I never thought I would be doing, so even completing a simple task feels like an accomplishment.  I also really like my paleontology class. I am babysitting again, and spending lots of time volunteering with collections for the Natural History Museum.  I have been helping to catalog different artifacts within the collection.  I have been learning a lot.  Hopefully I will get some good experience spending all this time in the museum and maybe it will help me decide if I am interested enough in museum studies to pursue it as a career.  

This was just a little catch-up post. I will soon be posting more about tea, books, travel, and some of my more awesome recent purchases!  

Until next time!

Razzle

 

Bonus Image!  Here is me transporting my tea back to school.  I had to make sure my tea stayed safe!Image

The Magic of the Red Capped Manakin

Whew!  It has been a while since my last blog post!  For the past few weeks, I have been working the evening shift at work, which is from 3 pm until 10:30 pm, so that gives me all day to be awake and doing things, most importantly, writing blog posts!  Last week I worked the morning shift though, which is from 6:45 am until about 3 pm. By the time I would finally get home from work I would do some chores, meet some friends for dinner, and then go to bed!  As fun as the morning shift was, it was not quite conducive to writing blog posts!  But I am back now and that is all that matters!

Since my last post crazy things have been happening!  My sister, Maddie, left for her semester in Australia, and that was very exciting.  She has her own blog at http://mgschweers.wordpress.com/ if you know her and would care to follow her adventures in the land down under!  It is kind of lonely without her, so good thing I have been working long hours to keep me occupied.  Anyway, onto the meat of today’s post!

This post, as you may be able to tell so far, is not a Tea and Books! post.  This post is a Now You Know post.  I am going to use Now You Know posts to pass on interesting tidbits that I find while watching nature documentaries, reading books, learning in class, or whatever strikes my fancy!  This week the post is going to be about the Red-capped Manakin.

I first found out about the Red-capped Manakin while watching the new Discovery Channel show, North America.  I just happened to be watching the episode where they mentioned the Red-capped Manakin, and let me just say, this bird is awesome!  The Red-capped Manakin has this fantastic mating dance that it does where the bird looks like it is moonwalking!  How cool is that!?

The Red-capped Manakin is found mainly in parts of Central and South America.  They are non-migratory, have a diet that consists mainly of fruit, and they are fairly solitary birds (aside from when trying to find a mate that is!). Aside from being a wonderful dancer, this bird is also very flamboyant.  It has a bright red head, a solid black body, and VIBRANT yellow legs.  The male Red-capped Manakin uses these colors to help attract the ladies.  The lady Red-capped Manakins are a dull greenish color, and alt they are not as vibrant as the males, they are pretty in their own way.

All of these facts are fun and they definitely help show how awesome the Red-capped Manakin is, but the best is yet to come! The reason that the Red-capped Manakin is so great is its mating ritual!  The Red-capped Manakin is usually a silent bird, though there are several noises that they make during their mating dances.  One of these noises is a snapping sound that the male makes with its wings.  This is something that is done so quickly that it cannot be seen by the human eye!  To see the way that the wings make this sound, scientists have had to set up high-definition, slow motion cameras.

The best part of the Red-capped Manakin’s mating dance though is the moonwalk.  I am not even joking, this bird can moonwalk with the best of them! For a good visual of the Red-capped Manakin dancing, there is a ling above.  Animals like this are the reason that I love watching nature documentaries.  How else would I have known about the moonwalking Red-capped Manakin!

I think that is enough about the Red-capped Manakin for now.  If you are interested in learning more, I would recommend the site neotropical.birds.cornell.edu.  This is where I found a lot of the information for this article (more specifically I found most of my information at http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=505356).  I would also recommend watching North America, but that is just because it is a great show, and who knows! Maybe you will find a new favorite animal in the process!

Razzle

‘World War Z’ and Island Green Tea (June 12, 2013)

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This book was so much better than I thought that it would be!  I got this book for my brother for his birthday a few months ago.  This seemed like the kind of book that my brother would love, but unfortunately he never ended up reading it.  When he finally got home for summer I tried to snatch it up, but my sister got to it before me.  When she finally finished it, I was able to start reading!  ‘World War Z’ was a much better book than I had anticipated it being.  My sister read it before I did, and she did not really care for it, so my hopes were not very high going in.  Once I had finally begun reading though, I knew that I was going to love this book!  It combined almost all of my favorite things!  It combined aviation, military tactics, geography (especially medical geography), ecology, politics, anthropology, history, and great story telling.  It was awesome!

This story is formatted as a series of interviews from people who personally experienced the zombie apocalypse. ‘ World War Z’ was more than just a collection of stories though.  The stories were formatted so that each phase of the zombie apocalypse was explained through the perspective of a multitude of people.  This provided a comprehensive coverage of all aspects of humanity during the zombie apocalypse.  This is where the book really stood out. There were stories from every imaginable perspective.  There were stories from people in every part of the world, stories from researchers in Antarctica, researchers on the International Space Station, workers on submarines, and so many more.  The breadth of perspective was amazing.  It was also very impressive how well researched all of the stories were.  The stories contained lots of information about current political and environmental events and situations.  One thing that really stood out to me was the focus on aviation.  Because I am working at an aviation based summer camp this summer, anything remotely aviation related jumps out at me.  Several of the stories written in ‘World War Z’ were written about aviation and aircraft carriers, and they were VERY detailed.  I was thoroughly impressed with the depth of the background in this book.

I do have a few critiques though.  One was that the insane depth of detail would certainly scare people away.  This is part of the reason why my sister never finished it.  There is also a certain point in the book where you get a little overwhelmed with the depressing topic of the book.  I know that there were several times in the book where it was just a little too grim for me.  The ending works this out though… to an extent.  Even though there are several things a little bit wrong with this book, I would definitely recommend it!  Once again, this book is not for everyone, but there is a large market for a book this exciting and this detailed.  All in all, I really liked this book.

And now for the tea!

I received several samples of tea from the Charleston Tea Plantation back in February.  I have been slowly working my way through them, and they are very good!  The Charleston Tea Plantation has something going for it that is not very common with tea… IT IS GROWN IN THE U.S.A!  The Charleston Tea Plantation is in Charleston, South Carolina.  The climate there is perfect for growing tea.  So far I have tried the Governor Gray tea, the Plantation Peach, and now the Island Green.  The Governor Gray and Plantation Peach were fantastic! The black tea base was very good, and the flavoring was phenomenal!  This was the Island Green though, and I was a little less crazy about this than about the black teas.  The green tea was pretty good as far as green teas go. It was nice and grassy, and had a very nice texture.  There was nothing super spectacular about this tea though. It was just a good green tea.  The reason that the black teas were so much better was because they were flavored teas, and the flavoring was amazing!  Overall, I would probably not reorder the Island Green tea, but I will definitely consider ordering the Governor Gray and Plantation Peach teas!

That’s all for now folks!

Razzle

OVERWHELMED and a nice cuppa Kukicha (May 27, 2013)

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So this summer I started a new job.  I am working at a summer camp, but it is not just any summer camp, a nerd summer camp! The camp that I work at focuses a lot on aviation and survival.  Training for this camp was INTENSE!!!  Training lasted for two weeks. These weeks consisted of 6, 12-15 hour days, and I learned so much!  Going into this summer, I never would have been able to tell you about the difference between subsonic and supersonic planes, or what variable wing geometry is.  I have learned so much this summer and for that I am truly blessed! Ask me about the history of air combat, or modern air systems, or the principles of flight, or land survival, and I will now be able to answer you!  Many of the other counselors are pilots or aerospace engineers and the like, so I was a little far behind when it came to memorizing everything about aviation! Even now I am a little hesitant when I have to give one of the aviation briefings, but I am working on that.  I am infinitely more comfortable with the land survival briefings though!

This picture was from the weekend before teach backs.  What we had to do was memorize all of the aviation briefings and be able to teach them to our trainers.  That was a rough weekend!  We did not know which briefing we were going to have to teach back, so that was a busy weekend of memorizing aircraft facts.  When I got to work on Monday, I found out that I had to do the briefing on the F-14 and F-16.  This was the one that I felt the least comfortable with.  I was really hoping that I would get to do the history of air combat.  I am a history nerd, and that is the one that I liked the most! I ended up passing the briefing though, so that was good!  All of my studying finally paid off!

And now for the tea, a nice cup of Kukicha.  I got this tea from one of my best friends a while ago as a birthday present.  I really lucked out when I started getting into tea, because one of my best friends also got into tea with me!  Now we always get each other tea related gifts for every birthday, Christmas, and any other major gift giving holidays.  Kukicha tea is typically made from the stems of the tea plant rather than the leaves, which gives it a bit of a different flavor.  The Kukicha that I have is from Adiago teas.  It has a very toasty, grassy taste, and is mildly sweet as well.   This tea was a refreshing break from the types of tea that I regularly drink.  The majority of my tea collection is flavored teas, especially flavored black teas.  On top of this, most of my flavored black teas are desert teas, so it is very refreshing when I can make a slightly more savory cup of tea.  That is what I really love about tea.  I love the fact that I can have dozens of types of teas and they all taste completely different!  There is a tea for every mood and for every person.  You just have to keep trying teas until you find the one that works the best for you!

Well enough of that for now!

Razzle

Classic Apple Pie Tea and ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ (May 12, 2013)

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The Ultimate American Combo!

‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ was actually a pretty fun book!  It is written as though it is a biography of Abraham Lincoln, if Abraham Lincoln’s life was a perfect mix of politics and vampires.  The book was very entertaining, and it kind of made the Civil War make sense!  Who knew!  I really love Abraham Lincoln and horror stories, so reading this book was a no brainer.  ‘Lincoln’ is by far my favorite movie that has come out in the past year or two, and ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer’ was pretty good as well! Luckily I happened across this book at a huge sale at Books-A-Million, and I had to grab it.  I would say that it was a great $3 investment! This book is not for everyone though.  It was a little slow in some places, and sometimes the character development was lacking and the plot was just downright silly!  But what else could you expect from a book about Abraham Lincoln hunting vampire.  I would definitely recommend it to someone just looking for a fun summer read though!  

So as I was reading ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,’ I was having a very hard time deciding on a tea.  I have around fifty different types of tea, so this is often a major dilemma for me. I eventually decided on the Classic Apple Pie blend from Della Terra Teas.  I am a huge fan of Della Terra Teas.  They have some FANTASTIC dessert teas!  I actually won two free ounces of the Classic Apple Pie tea in a giveaway back in February, and now I am almost out!  It is so good!  The base black tea is great.  I have not managed to over-steep the tea to the point where it gets bitter yet, and that is quite a feat for me!  This tea is also capable of being re-steeped without getting too bitter or losing too much flavor.  The flavor blend is phenomenal as well!  The dry tea is very pretty.  You can see little pieces of apple and different spices in with a beautiful base.  Upon opening the package, the first thing I noticed is that the tea smells EXACTLY like apple pie.  It is kind of amazing!  I like to drink this tea with a splash of milk and a little bit of honey.  That is when this tea really tastes like apple pie to me!  I love this tea and will definitely be reordering it when I run out!  

This was a very fun, summer combination.  Something about drinking Apple Pie tea while reading about the American hero, Abraham Lincoln, just felt right.  It felt American!  I was a great way to start off the summer!

 

Razzle

Bangkok Green Tea and ‘The Great Gatsby’ (May 9, 2013)

Here’s to the first Tea and Books! post!

This was the tea and book combination that I started the summer off with, partially due to the fact that the movie ‘The Great Gatsby’ was coming out very soon and I could not for the life of me remember what happened in the book. The book was pretty good. I feel like that is not a lot that I can say about this book that many other people have not already said. Whenever I read this book, I always end up feeling a little repulsed, though I assume it was written to do so. The characters are just so wild and carefree! It is a fun book for the most part. Either way, it was a quick read and a great way to start off the summer!

This is a tea that is very near and dear to my heart. This Bangkok Green Tea is, I believe, one that they stock at the cafe at most Barnes and Nobles. Whenever I drink this tea it brings back memories of the friendships that have been forged in the Barnes and Noble cafe. I believe that the kind that I have is a Harney and Sons blend, but I am not 100% sure about that because I got this particular tea at the Franklin Tea Store in Franklin, TN. I love this tea though. It is a very warm, very smooth green tea. There are definite hints of lemongrass and coconut. It is a very sweet tea, and I usually do not sweeten it, although sometimes I am not adverse to adding a little bit of honey. This is a tea I will drink if I am in the mood for something tropical. My favorite part of this tea is the fact that it brings back such strong memories. This is not a tea that I will stop drinking any time soon!

Razzle

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Tea and Books!

Hello again!

After my short introduction, I figured that I would go ahead and start off my blog with a project! Eventually I will get around to describing myself and letting people know who I really am and all that jazz, but to put that into one specific post seems quite forced.  I figure that if I start this project, then I will have a way to show who I am and what I am interested in without making this post feel like a dating profile… because that would be awkward.

Now back to the project!

This project I call ‘Tea and Books!’  It was an idea that I had at the beginning of summer when I had lots of free time to read and drink tea.  I decided that I would take a picture of what I was reading along with my glass of tea, the write a little synopsis/review to go along with each picture.  This project actually started off really well! I was averaging two books and some magazines a week and all was right with the world.  Of course, life quickly intervened and I ran out of time to do anything except for work, but that is OK because I love my job!  Thankfully I have finally figured out a workable schedule, and should be on track to do at least a couple Tea and Books! posts per week.  Before I start doing them regularly though, I need to post the pictures that I have already taken, along with a review of the tea and the book.  I think this is just going to be so much fun!

See you on the other side!

Razzle