365 Days of Photos: Day 66 (March 7, 2013)

66 - March 7

Alex I went to a small pub tucked in an alley of Flint. They have some seriously good burgers. It got us thinking about starting a food blog exploring the many eateries we plan on going to when we move out of Michigan. He loves all food and I’m pickier than most, so it would prove to be an interesting blog! Do you think we should start it?

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My New Obsession: Downton Abbey

Winter break has seen a number of adventures with the family and Alex, but also a lot of down time. I first watched Once Upon a Time for a while, but it barely kept my attention until the first season finale. I moved on to Downton Abbey and have been hooked ever since.

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Downton Abbey, for those who aren’t aware, is set in the early 1900’s at an estate in England. The drama follows the lives of a wealthy noble family and their servants, butlers, and housemaids. And it’s absolutely brilliant.

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 What’s crazy is how addicting it actually is. The way the characters’ lives interact and the drama swells and washes over each character is fascinating. It’s impossibly hard not to want to watch the next episode directly after the last one finishes. I can’t say how or why the show is so amazing. Maybe it’s the relationship between the characters. Maybe it’s watching inventions like the telephone and electricity influence the characters’ lives. I honestly have no idea. All I know is that when I’ve watched the finale episode, I will definitely go through some terrible withdrawals.

Review: Samsung TL205 Digital Camera

I’ve wanted to get a small digital camera for some time now because it would be a lot easier to carry around than my Canon Rebel XSi. I did a bit of research, but as soon as I saw the Samsung TL205, I was hooked.

The camera is easy to use (like most simple digital cameras are), has a rechargeable battery,  a really cool screen on front, and the one I originally bought came with a free SD card (which the camera needs since it only has memory space for one to two photos without a card).

The only thing I don’t like about the camera is that the flash would automatically turn off when you use the front screen. I understand that it’s probably so people don’t blind themselves in an effort to take a new profile picture, but it’s inconvenient at times to have to turn the flash back on and retake the photo.

I thought this camera was awesome until while on vacation with my family in Florida, this started to happen.

This photo is not of my actual camera, but is a good representation of what happened to mine. It started off small at first, but then over the course of the next couple of days the darkness spread across the screen in numerous different places. Being a photographer, I treat my cameras incredibly well, so this wasn’t because I dropped it or mistreated it.

I figured it was just this one camera with the glitch, so I exchanged it for another one. Not two weeks after I received the second one the back screen did the exact same thing as the first.

I’m disappointed in this camera because I really did like the photos it took and enjoyed having the front screen. Instead of giving the TL205 a third chance, I opted for a Nikon Coolpix s3000.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t fail me as well.

Review: ‘The Magicians’ by Lev Grossman

A plus to working at a job where, on a whole, all you do is sit for hours on end: you get a lot of reading done. Before I was weary of this idea and stayed away from it, but now I’ve embraced it to the point that I have no idea what I did to pass the time before it. This week I began and finished Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.

In a nutshell, the book is a mix between Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia for more mature readers. The main character Quentin isn’t happy with his average life (parallel to dear ol’ Harry?)–and keeps returning to the dream that a magical, fictional land from books of his youth will bring him happiness–until he is admitted to a college for magicians. He still clings to the idea that Fillory (the magical land) will solve all his problems if only he could find a way in (maybe through a wardrobe?), but he meets a group of friends and of course falls in love. Once he finally ends up in Fillory he realizes that it’s not the key to bring him happiness, but rather what destroys all the happiness he did have.

In an attempt to summarize yet leave out incredibly interesting parts, I’ll conclude my summary there. In my opinion, this book had some very epic moments, but also some low, disappointing ones as well. The great moments made the few bad ones seem minor, but they are still worth noting. The fact that Fillory could have easily just been called Narnia–it’s similarities where that blatantly obvious–left me feeling that Grossman took the easy way out with Fillory in order to focus on other aspects of the story. He could have at least attempted to mask the similarities a little bit better or worked to make his differences stand out more.

The writing style is fantastic. It’s mature, vivid, and you don’t feel like you’re reading a book written for children. All of the characters major and minor are alarmingly complex. Although the novel is attempting to create imaginary worlds, it does it in a way that makes it somewhat believable. There aren’t scenes whose sole purpose is to show off the imagination of the writer which help to increase the realism.

The ending left me unsatisfied which I’m sure was the purpose so I would purchase the sequel (said to be coming out in summer 2011). I think I will end up getting the second in order to feed my curiosity, but that won’t change the fact that the last 50 or so pages of the book just did not do it for me.

All in all this book was well crafted and contained an enticing storyline that was very real even in worlds that are not. Quentin stood out as a clearly flawed character, but surprisingly, not the hero of the story. I think that’s why I do actually like this novel. The main character isn’t the one who saves the day, gets the girl, and lives happily ever after. He makes bad choices and has to live with the consequences of his actions.

I always hated how at the end of reviews it goes into “if you like this and this, then you’ll really like the book I’m talking about” because each book is different, even if it does contain traces of others. The Magicians is a brilliant book that took the ideas of other beloved stories and morphed them into something dark, real, and ultimately wonderful.

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