Archive | June, 2012

The Morning After: Catching Fire

22 Jun

Spoiler alert: I’ll be talking freely about the book toward the end of this post, so if you haven’t read it and don’t want me to ruin it, don’t read in between the lines! I also apologize that its a little lengthy

It took me a little while to actually start this book, but only because my friend didn’t know where her copy was. After reading The Hunger Games, I wasn’t actually gunning to read Catching Fire right away, anyway. Not because The Hunger Games wasn’t good, but it was a roller coaster that I needed a little break from.

In the span of time in which I wasn’t reading either book, I had a few discussions, and people kept telling me that it wasn’t a love story. I’m fully aware of that, and have been from the start. That doesn’t change the fact that Peeta and Katniss caused a great stir in my being by how the first book ended.

When I finally started reading Catching Fire, it didn’t take long to get into the book, like it did in the The Hunger Games. It might be that I was already invested, and needed to know what happened, but I like to think that it wasn’t necessary to havve as much background information. That being said, there was still quite a bit of background that may have been unnecessary. It was a little redundant, but I chalk it up to making the book independent of the first. If you wanted to, you could probably just read Catching Fire and be able to understand what is going on.

I wasn’t sure if it would start at just about the same moment the last book ended, or at what point later in their lives it would begin. This worried me, because like I said, I needed to know what happened. A little to my comfort (and slightly to my dismay), the the book starts about 6 months after the other ends. Not a bad frame of time, and it appeared as though not a whole lot had happened in that expanse of time. Having to hear a 17 year old talk about the 6 months in between exciting things would probably make for a dull read, so I understand.

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Part I begins with what seems as almost normal life for Katniss. There is a sense of sadness or depression in her words that make you understand that it isn’t actually normal, but that life has resumed after her victory in the games. The reader is made aware that Gale isn’t around as often, and that Katniss and Peeta have an anything but romantic relationship. As part I goes more in depth, we find that Peeta and Katniss are starting their Victory Tour, and that its a little more important than they realize. Katniss is visited by President Snow, who makes a sinister impression. He is not convinced that Katniss’ revolt against the Capitol was actual done out of love for Peeta, and that if she wants her loved ones to survive, she must find a way to convince him. It also becomes apparent that she has been watched, and that the kiss she shared with Gale wasn’t a secret as she had thought. It is at this point that the turmoil within Catching Fire begins.

This is followed by a trip with Gale to the forest, to explain what has happened, and to explain what should be done. Katniss decides to run, and wishes to take Gale and his family, her family, and Peeta and his family. No one takes the news as well as she hopes, but Katniss presses on and plans out the details in her mind. Gale thinks they should rebel, and Peeta is unsure about what to do in its entirety. You see that Peeta still cares for Katniss, and Gale definitely cares for her, but that they are both hurt for different reasons. Katniss, on the other hand, seems to have feelings for both, but refuses to deal with them.

A turning point in the book is when they return from the woods, and find that the head Peacekeeper has been replaced. This new man punishes Gale, and takes over District 12 for the worst.

In part II, we learn of riots and uprisings in the other districts. Katniss learns that district 13 might exist outside the power of the capitol, and that two people she meets in the woods are headed there. It is at this point that she finds her mockingjay has become a symbol of revolution, and decides that she should not run, but should find a way to rebel like the other districts.

Katniss and Peeta became engaged in the height of the Victory Tour, and at this point in the book, Katniss goes on television to show the people of Panem the wedding dresses that have been picked out for her. After this programming, everyone is required to watch the news about the upcoming Quarter Quell. This is the special Hunger Games that happens every 25 years after the inception of Panem. There are special rules or conditions for the Quell and this is what the choose to announce. This years Quarter Quell will use only tributes reaped from past victors. This means Katniss has no choice but to partake, and that her partner can only be either Haymitch or Peeta.

She is distraught with the news, as one would expect. Victors have always been safe from playing in the Games again, and now she has no choice but to play again, and against two of the most important people in her life. This upset me, but I expected something like this to happen.

Once the Reaping occurs, we find that Peeta and Katniss will once again be batting against each other, but this time Katniss makes sure that Peeta will be the one to return to District 12.

All of Panem is in unrest because of the tributes being victors. Uprisings only increase, and even those of the Capitol are rebelling against their ruler. Cinna transforms Katniss’ interview dress – the final wedding dress chosen for her by the President – into the mockingjay that is the symbol of revolution. Peeta mocks the capitol by lying and saying her and Katniss are already married and expecting child, and all of the victors join hands to show that they are united against the Games this year.

Part III opens up with all the tributes on their metals plates within the arena. This time they are all in the middle of water, and only a select few can swim. Alliances form between Katniss, Peeta, and a few other tributes to understand the arena. They discover that the events that happen are clockwork, and that the arena itself is designed as a clock. Almost all of the tributes outside the alliance are taken out, when they seem to turn on one another. Johanna seems to turn on Katniss. Katniss is unsure of any of her other allies, and only seeks to find and keep Peeta alive.

At the very end of the story, Katniss (along with the reader, of course) finds out that the goal of her ally, Beetee, was not to kill the other tributes, but to destroy the force field surrounding the arena and to get Katniss away from the games. The existence of District 13 is confirmed, as is the uprisings all over Panem. We end the book with the realization that although Haymitch, Gale, Prim, and Finnick are alive, District 12 no longer exists, and Peeta has been kidnapped by the Capitol.

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In my opinion, Catching Fire was definitely better than The Hunger Games,whether it was the level of rebellion surrounding it, the increase in character development, my investment in the story line itself, or just better writing from Collins. I think that Collins chose well by putting Katniss back in the Games, and it didn’t seemed forced at all.

I think the arena was brilliantly done, and the alliance allowed Peeta and Katniss to become more rounded characters.

I still absolutely adore Peeta, but Katniss gives me mixed feelings. I really disliked her character throughout part I, but I was on the fence throughout the rest of the book. I understand she is young, but I feel like all of her decisions are harder then they should be, and her mind changes often. I still think she needs to take a moment to assess her feelings for Gale, and for Peeta. Peeta obviously brings her comfort, and she wants him with her so much of the time it seems ridiculous to me that she wouldn’t know that he means something more to her than just a fellow tribute. She has a tendency to illustrate herself as selfish, but I think that often enough she gives up so much without it being acknowledged.

One thing I must address is the writing style of both books. One of my readers commented that the idea of the books themselves was great, but that the writing really sucked. I don’t disagree, and there were a few moments when I had to stop and re-read something because it just didn’t flow right or the words seemed put together strangely. That being said, as readers we have to understand that this book is from the point of view of a 16 to 17 year old. It wouldn’t be true to Katniss as a member of District 12 in a post-apocalyptic society for her speech level to be extremely advanced. We can’t expect her to talk like she was popped straight out of the books we consider classics. A perfect example is in The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. It is narrated by different people, and with each comes a different style. Benjy’s chapters are a challenge within themselves, as he is severely mentally retarded. There are points at which you aren’t even sure what he is referring to.

When I finished Catching Fire, I immediately wanted to start on the last book of the trilogy. I refrained, but only because I needed to write this blog in the same manner I wrote the other one. I wasn’t as upset as I was when I finished the first book, and I had more of a sense of closure, even though the cliffhanger at the end of this book did seem more elaborate than the first book. I didn’t think I would have a problem sleeping like I did after The Hunger Games but I definitely did. I’m not sure what to credit it to, but I slept like crap last night. I would also likely gives this book 4 out of 5 stars, maybe 4.5 out of 5, or I might lower the first book to 3 or 3.5 out of 5. I was less level-headed after the first book, so my rating was likely a little skewed. I still don’t like the idea of watching the movies, but I do like the idea of having a mockingjay necklace. I also didn’t really have any unanswered questions like I did in the last book.

What did you think of Catching Fire? What did you think of Katniss? Do you have any unanswered questions? 

Sex Toys and Booze

20 Jun

Last night I was hostess of a Slumber Party for the very first time. What is a Slumber Party, you ask? A Slumber Party is when a group of women get together, and get told about sex toys by a representative with the Slumber Parties company.

Its fun.

A total of 16 people came, and we had all kinds of snacks and beverages, and there was definitely some alcohol involved. First rule of Slumber Parties…no boys allowed! I think that’s to allow us all to get a little unruly and not be embarrassed about talking about dildos, of course. Because I was hostess, I got to control the bullet, which just happened to be placed between one of the Slumber Party virgins boobies. It looks a little like this (except with only one silver thing – that’s the vibrating part):

Every time I saw something that I wanted to be on sale, I got to turn it to high, and the virgin had to yell out sale. I’ll admit it was very funny! We also were asked trivia questions, and correct answers were given penis pencil toppers. I just happened to get a flesh colored one and a blue, glow-in-the-dark one. Somehow it ended up on my lamp switch.

Probably the best point throughout the night, however, was when we were all finished, and our consultant (my friend from middle school, go figure!) was waiting to take orders. At that point we grabbed the Ice Man, which is this bad boy:

It has a suction cup, so you can pretty much mount it wherever you please and have a go! I’m sure you can imagine what 16, 20-somethings could do tossing around one of these things. Helicopter dick made its appearance at one point during the night (and yes, I have video).

We also stuck it to things, and took various [staged] photo bomb pictures. We through it, we jiggled it, and I poked people with it. I have a picture of a friend “smoking” the Dazzling Diva like a cigar, and many pictures of friends holding the elephant of the Decadent Indulgence to their nose. 50 Shades of Gray as read by Gilbert Godfried even made its appearance later in the evening. It was an awesome night, and I ended up getting four free items! Awesome, right!? I got this pheromone cologne, some numbing stuff for waxing, some shaving stuff for loosening hair follicles, AND I got this awesome stuff that keeps away moisture on hot, sweaty days. Working at an animal shelter is going to be much more comfortable once THAT gets here.

Overall, it was a great time, and I’m so glad I knew my consultant personally. I’m so glad everyone could make it, and I’m so glad I got 50 dollars worth of free stuff! I wish I could share pictures, but I think I’ll keep all of those for my private collection. If you’ve never had a Slumber Party or been to one, I highly recommend doing it. I had pretty much all levels of sexual experience and comfort attend, and it worked just fine!

Ever had a Slumber Party? What games did you play? Recommend their products?

Some Say the Glass is Half Full…

14 Jun

 

Maybe it just means I’m indecisive, or have commitment issues.

When people ask me if the glass is half empty, or half full, I can only respond with “it depends”. It depends on what its original state was. If the glass started out completely full with liquid, and you drink half of it, then it is half empty; however, if you fill the glass half way, then it is half full.

I think this speaks to my belief that things are rarely black and white, and my nature as a scientist – I must question the world around me, and use what information I gather about a situation to deduce what it means. I can’t think of any great examples, but I’ll use money as one. Say you are born into a family with millions of dollars, and you inherit this money when you become an adult. Then, for some unforeseen event, you lose all of it except for 100 dollars. You naturally feel unfortunate, and unlucky. On the contrary, if you are homeless and have all of a dollar to your name, and you are given 100 dollars, you feel like the richest person on the planet.

What do you think, half full or half empty? What do you think of my perspective?

Fire, Evacuation, and Pets

11 Jun

 

Yesterday marked the beginning of the biggest fire northern Colorado has seen in years. It is still burning strong today at over 14000 acres of land are up in flames. An enormous number of people and their pets have been evacuated from their homes. All the while, I have been doing my job at my animal shelter.

I was there for 12 hours today, and I look forward to a very similar day tomorrow. We’ve opened our doors to a hundreds of animals, and continue to offer space for more. Unfortunately, some of their homes have already been taken by the fire.

It feels good to know that I’m making a difference, and as I sit here, all I can think about is how I wish I was able to be at work. My thoughts go out to the vast number of people and animals affected by this fire, and I can only hope that the wind will cease, and by any luck the sky will open up and rain will pour down.

Photo taken by Jessica Peterson.

10 Jun

And turn up the charm, Ziva. You’re a geek, not mentally deranged.

–Agent Gibbs, NCIS

A Whole New Meaning to “Phone Sex”

9 Jun

 

We are ever connected by technology to our friends, our family, even our work, to the point at which it seems talking on the phone is obsolete. Nonetheless, we still get the occasional phone call, and sometimes it even lands while we are getting hot and heavy with our partners.

Personally, I think it would be rude to answer the phone under any circumstance, and especially if it is anything other than a phone call. I understand, though, that other people may not see it as being an issue. If your phone does happen to ring while doing the dirty, you have three options: let it ring, hit “ignore”, or answer it. If you choose to answer it, you can either say you’re busy and you’ll call them back (I see voicemail being just as good of an option) or you can keep talking.

I can’t imagine stopping sex to talk to anyone. Is it really that important? I’ve heard this so many times, though, from friends and strangers (via FML, etc). Most recently, it was an FML about a girl who stopped in the middle of having sex, and talked to her ex for an hour. If it was my relationship, I think there would need to be ground rules set if I was ever in this situation

Do you think its okay to answer your phone while you are having sex? If your partner stopped to answer the phone, how would you react, and what if they kept going? Is it important enough to set ground rules? Is it ever okay to answer a text while having sex?

Socialization in Humans: Making Friends

6 Jun

Rarely are things in this world black and white. This is also true for nature versus nurture (and most other debates of this type). So before I make my case, we are all born predisposed to certain things. Nurture can only act on what nature gives us, so to some degree socialization can only matter so much. The reason I bring this up is because I think I was fairly well socialized as a child, but I’m still an introvert and I still have trouble doing certain things adequately.

In animals (lets speak non-human animals first) we know that socialization can be crucial. With dogs, we socialize them with other dogs, people, and in an ideal world, other species of animals as well. This is all in hopes that they will not fear these things, and will know how to react when they come into contact with them. A poorly socialized dog may find it harder to understand its doggie friends social cues, or may be fearful or aggressive toward them. This is the same with people. If a dog hasn’t been socialized with people, it may bark, bare its teeth, or just be fearful. Novel situations do the same thing. That is why it is so important to introduce puppies to these things. This is all nurture, but the internal nature of the dog still is being acted on; some dogs are socially motivated, so they may love to play with people or other dogs, but others may be internally motivated, so they are more introverted and prefer to do things at their own pace.

Depending on the situation of an animal, we might want to limit its socialization also. This is true of wildlife rehabilitation animals. We don’t want them to think humans are good (because that can endanger them later on, and people as well), so we don’t interact with them the same way we do a dog. If its a baby, however, it does still need to know what it is, and how to react to its peers, so its best to try to introduce it to others of its kind.

This brings me to humans. We, too, have different levels of motivation – its kind of like the introvert versus the extrovert, so how we deal with situations is naturally variable from person to person. Socialization is important for us also, though. Socialization is a major perk of having siblings, and of being taught at a public or private institution. This is not to say that being an only child or being home schooled are bad things, but that parents must take extra measures to ensure their child still has the ability to react to social cues, as well as give them. We may not realize it, but baby/toddler play dates are just as important as puppy play dates. Children learn how to share, what it means to get hurt or hurt someone, and all the positive and negative connotations of such.

This can help them make friends easier later on, and friends are important.

Also, socializing a child with animals or introducing them to new adults can be life-altering as well. If you show a child all different kinds of animals – snakes, mice, rabbits, dogs, cats, birds, etc. – then the likelihood that they will fear those animals decreases. It also gives you a great way to teach your child about its surrounding environment, and the proper way to handle animals like these. Having your child interact with strangers can help them learn that not all people are scary, but can help you teach them valuable lessons such as “don’t get into a car with someone you don’t know”. This could be as simple as introducing your child to the cashier at the store, or asking for what they want at a restaurant.

Being socially awkward myself, I know that I could’ve been more socialized as a child. My sister was 8 years older than me, so I was almost like an only child (yes, growing up I had sharing issues). I also see the effects in my peers who might manifest things such as social anxiety or a decreased ability to react properly to social stimuli.

Do you think socialization in humans is important? What was your situation as a child? Do you have children of your own?

Posting Inappropriate Pictures Online

6 Jun

I recently stumbled upon a picture, like the one above (except with a bottle of alcohol in hand), as I was browsing through my Facebook feed.  It was of a really nice girl I was once friends with once, and it gave me mixed feelings.

First, I don’t understand why anyone would post a picture like this. It makes them look trashy, and like they have no self-control. Now, I know that we try hard to not care what others think of us, but there is some level at which we just need to respect ourselves. Also, looking at that picture just made me sad. Why is it necessary to go this far, and why is it necessary to post and tag a picture like this?

What do you consider to be inappropriate to post online? How do you feel when you see pictures like this?

4 Jun

Its complicated…you’re a jerk if you date a girl for too long and don’t marry her, but then you marry her and you’re an idiot for marrying her before you’re ready.

–Bradley Cooper as Ben, He’s Just Not That Into You

Why I Don’t Use Physical Humor

4 Jun

 

I’m really not all that funny anyway. It takes a special kind of person to appreciate my humor, and I’m usually friends with every one of those people because they are so hard to find. My style is verbal, and often sarcastic, so its not a surprise that its hard to find funny, but I’d prefer this over trying to use physical humor.

Some people are good at it, and comfortable with it, and I’m not one of them. Most of my friend group uses physical humor, and you can see that in pretty much every group photo we have ever taken. They do the goofy faces, and make weird looks when they take pictures. I smile. Shocking, I know.

I just can’t bring myself to do anything else. I’ve tried in the past, but I never know what to do or what face to make, so it always ends up looking the same. People even asked me why I make that face – I stopped, and fast.

I’m also not comfortable with it, and excuse me when I say this, but its partially because I’m fat. Also shocking, I know.

I have rules for myself that have to do with my weight. I’m pretty comfortable with it, and I don’t think my body could look like a rock star at any weight. One of my rules: don’t show any skin between my knee and my boobs to anyone other than significant others. One of my other rules is to not use physical humor. On any given day, I look like a fat girl. If I make a stupid face in a picture, however, then I’m just the stupid looking fat girl. At least if I smile and look nice, I might be the pretty fat girl.

What kind of humor do you use? What kind of humor do you appreciate more?