The Lizard Chronicles

Some of this is true. Some of this is better. –Too Much Joy

Alaskan Cruise Wrap-Up September 9, 2012

Filed under: Reviews,Travel — lizardesque @ 12:07 pm
Tags: ,

I have already described most of the trip and posted a lot of pictures, but if anyone wants still more pictures, you will find them here.

Overall, I enjoyed the cruise tremendously, and I thought Norwegian Cruise Lines was great. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few criticisms. Okay, maybe I wouldn’t actually be remiss, but I’m going to mention them anyway.

  • Extra charges (that is, on top of what was paid to book the cruise) for soda and coffee are ridiculous. Charging extra for alcohol I totally get and am fine with, but soda?? We are talking about something that literally costs you pennies per serving. No one is forcing me to buy it, and I didn’t buy it, but honestly, charging $50 for soda for the week just makes you look like greedy twits, NCL.
  • Please learn how to organize a salad bar. Lettuce, spinach, and other bases should go at one end and dressings should go at the other end, with pretty much everything else somewhere in between. Putting different dressings at either end, not to mention different types of lettuce at both ends and in the middle creates salad bar chaos.
  • The fitness center is way too small. Perhaps it’s OK when the ship is in warmer climes and more people will be using outdoor facilities (rock wall, jogging track, pools, tennis courts, etc), but for an Alaskan cruise, it doesn’t cut it. At the very least, some sort of sign-up for exercise equipment is needed so you don’t feel like you need to stalk people (or be stalked) to get an elliptical machine.
  • I would have liked more time in Victoria. We docked at 6:00 pm and had to be back on the ship by 11:30. It seems like a lovely city, and I would have like to have more time to explore.
  • The signage and announcements for disembarkation at each port could be greatly improved. There were announcements to indicate that there would be further announcements directing people to the gangways, but at most ports, I never heard such directions. Additionally, signs pointing the way to the gangways should be viewable form the stairs, not placed such that one has to come down off the stairs and look down the hallway to check for signs.

I really don’t mean to sound overly negative. I had a wonderful time and would recommend an Alaskan cruise and NCL.

I rather loved the towel critters!

Advertisements
 

Vertigo August 5, 2012

Filed under: movies,Reviews — lizardesque @ 10:48 pm
Tags: ,

In a recent poll, Citizen Kane was dethroned as the best movie ever by Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Although I can appreciate the cinematography in Citizen Kane, particularly in the context of the time it was made, I have always thought the story was weak. For starters, no one was in the room to hear Kane say, “Rosebud,” and if you’re going to base most of your movie around that, it seems like it would have been an easy thing to fix. But anyway, this post is not about Citizen Kane. It’s about Vertigo.

Wait, you mean hair and clothes DO matter to women??

I’ve long been a Hitchcock fan, but I never thought Vertigo was his best. I feel that Dial M for Murder and Rear Window are superior films, but it occurred to me that it had been a long time since I’d watched Vertigo and maybe I should give it another chance. So, I watched it again.

Nope, still not my favorite Hitchcock movie.

Of course, this is all rather subjective, and in the end, it really doesn’t matter whether I agree with the poll results or not. The movie has some great shots, and even though the dream sequence seems a bit cheesy by today’s standards, I have to imagine that it was pretty cool for 1958. However, watching Vertigo again made me realize that there are a few things about it that I need to say. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, SPOILER ALERT. Stop reading now if you don’t want to know some critical things about how the film plays out.

  • When John tails “Madeline” to the McKittrick hotel, we clearly see her in the window of the hotel. However, when he goes in, the desk lady insists that she hasn’t been there that day, and she is not in her room. When John looks back down at the street, Madeline’s car is gone. I will concede that Madeline could have hidden undetected in the hotel room and that Gavin could have driven the car away, but what would be the point of this? The plot was to make John believe that Madeline was insane and on the verge of suicide, not to make him believe he was following a ghost.
  • After “Madeline” jumps into San Francisco Bay, John fishes her out, puts her in his car, and takes her to his home. When she wakes up, her car is also at his home. How did it get there?
  • In the latter half of the film when John is making Judy change her hair and her clothes so that she looks more like his beloved Madeline, he keeps saying to Judy, “It can’t matter to you!” Um…has this guy met a woman before? Her hair and her clothes can’t matter to her? I can suspend disbelief for all sorts of stuff, but come on. Perhaps some men don’t understand why hair and clothes matter so much to most women, but is any man dumb enough to suggest that they don’t or can’t?
  • What ever happened to poor Midge??

Maybe I’m nitpicking. It’s still a pretty good film. Best movie ever, though? Not in my book.

 

Cerra October 4, 2011

Filed under: Reviews — lizardesque @ 4:53 pm
Tags:

As a member of She Speaks, I get opportunities to try and review new products. A few weeks ago, I signed up for the Cerra program. Cerra.com is a website that aims to help people be more aware of their own thoughts and feelings, act thoughtfully and with intention, and reflect on one’s experiences, with the ultimate goal of a happier and more balanced life. As a concept, I can get behind this. So often, I think we all go through days on sort of autopilot without really stopping to be in the moment. In addition to selling products that are supposed to help people in their journey toward happiness and balance, the website has articles, discussion forums, and a series of “moments,” which are guided exercises (breathing, chanting, journaling, etc) to take time out from the day and recenter yourself.

As part of the Cerra program, I received a kit with samples of a number of products sold on the website. The kit included teas, hand and body lotion, scented oil, keepsake note cards, and dissolving notes with a marker. My kit was based around the “creative energy” notion and scent, which is fresh and citrusy. I have not yet tried any of the teas, but here are my thoughts on all the other items included in the kit.

Creative Energy Scented Oil

Hand and body lotion: Poor. It’s an OK lotion, nothing too special. I will say that it does not leave my hands feeling greasy or slimy. However, the scent of it is very strong. Even a nice scent can be obnoxious when it is too strong. I got a mild headache after putting this just on my hands, so I can hardly imagine slathering my body with it. You’d be able to smell my “creative energy” coming a block away!

Scented oil: Good. In contrast to the lotion, the scent on this is nice and not overwhelming. The citrus scent is slightly invigorating, but I can’t say I felt a surge of creative energy after I used this. However, purely from a scent perspective, it smells nice and gradually fades.

Keepsake Note Cards

Keepsake note cards: Fair. I’m a big proponent of using writing to explore your feelings, work through your emotions, and reflect on your experiences, but I don’t think these note cards help me do so more than anything else I could use for the same purpose. In fact, the fact that these are single note cards make me less likely to use and keep them. I suppose one advantage might be that you could keep a few of these at home, at work, or wherever else you frequent so you could always have some ready to record your thoughts when you are moved to do so, but honestly, I think a small journal would be better for this. A journal would keep everything together and allow you to view the changes in your thoughts and your ups and downs throughout a certain time period.

Dissolving notes and marker: Poor. The supposed purpose of these is to help you release your negative thoughts by watching them dissolve. I can appreciate the idea of writing down negative thoughts to kind of just get them out there and then getting rid of them. However, I really don’t need overwhelmingly scented dissolving notes and a special marker to help me do this. If you order the dissolving notes kit from the website ($29.99), there’s even a special bowl that’s included. Really? A sink, glass, or regular bowl won’t do? This part of the kit, in particular, made me feel like Cerra is more about selling junk than about truly helping people lead balanced and happy lives. Then again, to each her own. Some people may dig these, but they seemed incredibly hokey to me.

Dissolving Notes and Marker

Dissolving Thoughts

So, all in all, there are some good points about the Cerra program. Most notably, I liked the “moments” on the website. As for the products, I can’t say I would rush to buy anything that came in my kit, as I think they are generally overpriced and gimmicky. However, in closing, I will note that, Cerra.com donates 5% of its profits to charity, which is nice. Charities are listed on the website.

 

A Couple of Rave Reviews September 16, 2011

Filed under: Clothing,Reviews — lizardesque @ 8:58 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Too often, I encounter customer service that is so-so or worse, so when I have very positive experiences, I feel the need to talk about them.

ModCloth

Ever since I discovered this company, I have been a fan. So much of what they carry is just my style, and a lot of it is hard to find elsewhere. Items from them now make up a fairly significant proportion of my wardrobe. On the latest order I placed, I received a defective item (a shirt with dark spots on it, almost as if the fabric had been overdyed in places). I contacted their customer service department, and I felt l like Ky really and truly wanted to make things right in any way possible. The item was out of stock in my size, so getting a replacement was not possible, but I was presented with a number of options. I chose to have the shirt cleaned, but the spots did not come out, so I ultimately sent it back. Ky was always in close contact and worked to make things right, and I am a very happy customer. Kudos to ModCloth and to Ky!

eShakti

I don’t have quite as much experience with this company, but so far, it’s been positive. They have such beautiful clothes, all of which are customizable. I ordered a dress from them a while ago, which ended up not working for me (there was nothing wrong with the dress, it was just a matter of it not being quite flattering on my frame). With their return policy, you can either get your money back or you can opt for a gift card (good for a year) for the price of the item plus 20% more! I opted for the former, but I thought it’s pretty cool of them to offer the latter. Also, since my original order, I have received several discount codes and special offers in my inbox. I recently placed another order with them, which I eagerly await. Well done, eShakti!

Please note, I received no compensation from ModCloth or eShakti for these reviews. I just like to spread the word when I find companies I like.


 

The Domino Project May 28, 2011

Filed under: Reviews — lizardesque @ 8:05 pm

If anyone could tell me what the Domino Project actually is, I’d appreciate it. I’m a part of it (I joined as a BzzAgent as art of a BzzCampaign), and I’m not even sure. I know it was started by Seth Godin in conjunction with Amazon.com, but that’s about the most concrete thing I can say about it at this point. According to the website, it’s a reinvention of the publishing industry and is named after the domino effect. Exactly how this revolution will occur is pretty unclear. The website contains quite a lot of other text, much of which amounts to “this is so cool and revolutionary, trust us,” but  says very little to give me an idea of what this project actually is. Perhaps that’s not entirely clear to the creators at this juncture. If I’m wrong on this point, the creators have done a pretty poor job articulating their vision. In order for the idea to spread from person to person to person as we all fall like dominoes, there probably should be an idea, not just a vague notion of changing something, somehow. Of course, it’s also possible that I’m just dense about this and don’t get it. That said, it’s no skin off my nose to follow this thing and see if anything interesting develops.

What little I can tell you about the project is that this week I received the first of what will supposedly be several short books automatically delivered to my Kindle. This month’s book is a special edition of “Self Reliance,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. The piece, which I have begun but not finished, consists of Emerson’s essay interspersed with quotes and commentary from some well known to marginally famous people. Apparently, the print edition comes with cards printed on 50% recycled paper/50% recycled elephant dung. Yes, that’s very eco-friendly, and Emerson would likely be proud. Perhaps, I’m just too squeamish when it comes to excrement, but I feel that one advantage of the Kindle edition is the distinct lack of dung.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned to see of the dominoes start falling.