totally top three: august 2018

August was okay! We did a lot of driving and watched some live music and saw Lake Michigan! It smelled bad and made me homesick for the Pacific Ocean!

Crystal opened Netflix and put on Adventures in Public School one night while I was being difficult about picking something to watch (This is not unusual. I am a difficult person and apparently no longer have an appetite for like, any TV or movies at all. It sucks.) and I was EXTREMELY skeptical as it started, but I’ve been in love with Judy Greer since I was like 13 and saw her in Jawbreaker so I got interested and then Daniel Doheny is so freaking charming that I was hooked. This has a pretty weird premise and I liked the space that gave the story to do some weird stuff with characters and their behavior. (There’s a text conversation at one point that I laughed at so hard I had to pause.) It was just very fun and sweet and charming. And it also has a very cute ending!


I’ve been struggling with attention and interest lately, not really wanting to watch or read anything, and it’s making me vaguely miserable, mostly because watching and reading shit have always been my favorite things in the entire world and feeling like I just cannot do them feels like being stripped of a big chunk of my life. To fill the spaces where I don’t want to just sit with my thoughts (Which is… never. I never want to just sit with my thoughts. There are too many of them and most of them are very stupid.) I’ve been putting on something soothing (Usually a YouTube video of someone cleaning their house because being alive in 2018 is honestly dumb.) and then I play Disney Emoji Blitz. I’m not a game person really (I am not competitive and don’t really have the fortitude to fake it.) but the easy rhythm of flicking cute little Disney character emojis into groups over and over again is mindless and some days, just about the only thing I can handle. 2018, man.


We watched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before almost as soon as people started talking about it on Twitter because we love romantic comedies! And because we want to support stories that center POC! And because the couple of gifs I saw seemed super cute! And the whole thing! Was! So! Cute! Lots of characters who are very likable and gentle and funny and like, good human beings! And funny dialogue and charming flirtations and very good chemistry and just a nice, well-rounded, well-paced romance! I had read one of Jenny Han’s other book series (The Summer I Turned Pretty) and had disliked it so much that I felt very hesitant about this, but whether it’s just a series I would like or if the translation to screen made it better, it was super fun and charming and I’m so glad we watched! And I can’t wait for the sequel where Lara Jean and Peter’s respective dad and mom get married and they reunite at the wedding after a rough (Only because of a misunderstanding!) break-up. Thanks, Netlfix!

And three to look forward to…


totally top five 2k14: stuff

We’ve come to the end of the list-making! The end of everything I loved in 2014! The random stuff I loved that I couldn’t1 manage to shove elsewhere!

5. The Gym

Uggggh, I cannot even begin to explain how much I hate that I even considered putting this on the list, let alone actually did it. I went to the gym in college and I always hated it because it was boring and tiring and full of weird people. I started going in 2014 when our fancy new rec center opened and actually turned out to be pretty nice and Crystal was willing to suffer by my side.

For me, it’s really helpful to have a gym partner, headphones, and a Kindle2 and even though I usually hate it at the beginning and at the end and sometimes in the middle, I usually get in the zone enough with my book and my Cardio Hip Hop to get through it.

I sleep better, I feel more rested, and have less pain when I work out. And okay, I guess I just feel generally better when I do it on the regular. Annoying as that is, for that alone, I’ll begrudgingly let it have a spot on the list.

As secondary faves having directly to do with the gym, I have to also mention:

FitBit One which I got as a gift in February and have worn almost every single day since. I don’t know how useful the information is but I do enjoy having it!

Also, the Skechers Flex Appeal New Rivals which are the only walking/workout/gym shoes I have ever worn and actually liked rather than tolerated. They are so comfortable that I sometimes wear them in public with regular clothes like some kind of mom.

4. Target

Okay, so I grew up by a Target and then we got a nicer Target and then my sister lived right by a TWO-STORY Target, but never in my life have I appreciated Target the way I do now. The closest Target to us is two hours away, which means if we pass through for any reason whatsoever, I am spending an hour, minimum, in Target. My oncologist is in a city where they have two Targets and I feel like I’m in some kind of mighty prairie metropolis. On a recent trip, we went to Target twice then stopped at another one on the way home as well. And the current rumor is that we might be on track to have a Target in two short years. If I’m still here, I’ll probably be first in line to shove other people to the ground in pursuit of those sweet Cartwheel deals.

I don’t know exactly what I buy at Target or what compels me to wander the aisles, somehow both dazed and overexcited, but I do know I’ve spent more money at Target in 2014 than I have at any point in my life before. I even have the Target Debit card. I have a problem and I love it.

3. Lumosity & Elevate

I have always had a terrible memory, terrible enough that my sister calls me Goldfish, and I’d learned to cope with notes and apps and all kinds of things. In 2014, I decided to try exercising my brain with more than just the media I consume and started using Lumosity in app form between switching over to their superior and more varied desktop version3 almost exclusively. I play four times a week, usually, and I don’t know that it’s scientifically done anything of use4 but anecdotally, I have definitely noticed an improvement in a couple of my brain areas. I definitely improve at the games, which is pretty rewarding, but I’ve noticed my ability to multitask has improved and my memory has definitely gotten better. Not bad for some goofy games, right?

Elevate is newer to me, but I think I like it even more than Lumosity. It targets different things — I find Elevate’s games to be more practical, while Lumosity’s are more indirect. It’s like… If your brain was training for a marathon, Elevate would be the time your brain spent running, while Lumosity would be your strength-training and stretching. Both are necessary, but the results feel really different.

I don’t pay for Elevate, partially because the free service is awesome, but mostly because $4.99 a month is just way, way too high for me. I’m sure it’s worth it — what’s available free is seriously wonderful — but I’m just too cheap.5 Definitely snag it for free though, you won’t regret it.

2. Washi Tape

This is probably one of the goofiest things I could’ve put on this list, but I see washi tape every day and use it weekly and am pretty much surrounded by it constantly, so I kind of can’t hide how much I love it. Goofy, yes, but also a legit fave.

I think I bought some Martha Stewart washi from Amazon at the beginning of 2014 and wasn’t wildly impressed with it6 but then ended up ordering some of this stuff and loved it. Then I started decorating my Moleskine7 with it and then… I started seeing it in Target and now it’s… a problem.

Anytime I obsessively collect something, my girlfriend makes fun of me8 and there is nothing she mocks me for more than my love of washi. I’m very proud.

1. TokyoMilk Dark No. 62: Tainted Love

Okay, so this was supposed to be number one on the Bath & Beauty List but I kind of dropped the ball and forgot about it while I was writing the post, even though there’s a 99% chance that I was actually wearing it while writing the post.

I love perfume and have a solid collection curated since I was, oh, like 14?9

But I am really, really picky about what I’ll spend on. Perfume is expensive! And I really need to love something to drop the cash on it. I have never been the kind of person who can just wear one kind of perfume until it runs out and then switch to something new, nor could I be the kind who has only a signature scent. I like to have a nice big tray full of choices to pick from each morning, but every single one has to be a scent I love.

I bought Tainted Love at the Sephora in the MALL OF AMERICA after smelling pretty much every single bottle on their wall of scents. I had gone in to buy Spicebomb and almost did, but it ended up not smelling great on my skin. I kept gravitating back to the TokyoMilk bottles because they just look so pretty all lined up together. The TokyoMilk scents can be… kind of weird. I think they’re going for ~edgy and if edgy smelled good, I would be so into it, but it turns out edgy mostly smells like patchouli which is the worst.

Despite how lacking I found the rest of the selection, Tainted Love is great. The notes are dark vanilla bean, orchid, white tea, and sandalwood, which is really warm and sweet without being grossly sugary or overwhelming. The sandalwood makes it a little masculine, which I love and it seems to last on me well enough. It just a great fall/winter scent and I am going to be so sad when it gets too warm to wear it. And, bonus!, it’s only $36 a bottle. A steal!

Next time I’m in a Sephora, I’m going to obsessively smell every single TokyoMilk scent again until I find another one I love. Tainted Love is so good that there’s no way it’s their only winner.10

Previously: 2K12 | 2K13 | JAMZ | MOVIES | BATH & BEAUTY | TV | ALBUMS | BOOKS

1. Or forgot…

2. Had I had my Kindle when I went to the gym in college, I’d have probably managed to become a regular.

3. You get access to both and the app has finally started to get more games, so I am fonder of it now.

4. The brain test you take to start and the one you take a while later like they suggest? My score didn’t change a single point.

5. To be fair, I would probably think Lumosity was too expensive too, were I paying for it myself.

6. I still am not impressed with the Martha Stewart tape and wouldn’t recommend it. Washi, as I have learned, should feel like masking tape and Martha’s is stiff and waxy and the rolls tend to peel and separate and are just generally crappy. Bad show, Martha.

7. I changed formats for 2015 — well, I’ve used this one before, just not in a while — and I like the washi in there too! Also, it’s cute as hell.

8. Even though she is the queen of collecting crafts and hobbies. Bins! Boxes! Full of yarn! She’s a hypocritical monster.

9. Most perfumes last pretty much forever. I have a bottle of Ralph Lauren Romance that I bought at Macy’s when I was starting my freshman year of high school that still smells flawless. I’ve had a few go bad on me over the years — looking at you Pleasures & Beautiful Sheer — but for the most part perfume is a great investment because it lasts. To be fair, if you like the smell of burned maple syrup, perfumes that have gone bad might be your thing.

10. Well, I’ll probably be running topless through a field screaming about how much I missed warmth, but when I remember to be, I’ll be sad.

good shit: techy stuff i love

So I’m kind of anal retentive, you know? (Yes, yes you do.) And you’ve got to know by now that I have a deeply, deeply obsessive personality, yeah? (Of course you do.) and that I like techy things and gadget-y stuff? Okay, well, that all culminates pretty intensely on my computer and phone and, since I use lots of little things that make my life easier and am also driven to tweak how things look like a crazed monster, I thought I’d like, you know, share some of those things and tweaks.

So my desktop pretty much always looks something like this:

And right now it looks just like this except without all the writing and arrows showing you what’s what:

[click to embiggen]
So let’s start with Adium which I have been using as my chat client since I got my first Mac as a college graduation gift in July of 2007. It integrates pretty much every chat client* you could possibly want to use into a single interface so you don’t have to have a million things open and it does it while being extremely customizable.

I use Decay 2.0 which is an included theme and layout and just tweak it obsessively until I like the way it looks, including changing the font to Helvetica Neue to match the message style I use. I use the Minimal set of service icons, White Chat Bubbles status icons, and Flat Bubbles 2.0 for my dock icons. I don’t keep a menu bar icon active because i don’t like doubling up in my dock and menu bar. Redundancy is ugly! I’m c r a z e d about this.

My message style is Pretty Simple used pretty much as is. I set my background to gray and made it nicely transparent. There is also a nice matchy Pretty Simple contact layout and, though I like the font, the layout doesn’t work for me because I keep my list pretty narrow and it cannot display statuses below their contacts. I prefer Decay 2.0 solely for this reason and just changed the font to match my messages. I told you, I’m super intense.

My favorite tool by far is TinyAlarm which I’ve been using for approximately 1,000 years. It’s a little menu bar timer that lets you set alarms super quick. It’s tiny and effortless and I use it pretty much daily. I mostly set timers to remind myself to do things — usually to go upstairs and cook dinner or check a load of laundry, stuff like that — because I am unbelievably terrible at knowing what time it is and remembering that I have to do things. I also used to do it to set productivity windows but I’ve recently moved on to the next item on the list for that.

While writing this I realized I hadn’t updated the app in forever and when I did, it was new and ugly and also shareware that costs $7 after thirty days. I hate the new menu and was irritated with the whole thing in about a minute, so I downgraded via my Time Machine backup and am much happier again. Since it was free for such a long time and is no longer the same app, I’ve uploaded the old version so you can have it too.

My next favorite thing is Eggscellent which is a productivity app based on the Pomodoro Technique. I use thirty minute chunks and five minute short breaks and I love how easy the app makes it. Plus I can throw a bunch of things on my list and have them waiting when I’m finally ready to get to them. I’m still figuring out the right settings for everything and I wish the visual timer were more customizable — I’d like it to be significantly smaller and preferably square and definitely sleeker (Is that nest and egg situation really necessary?) or I’d like the internal/external distractions to be clickable in the drop down from the menu bar so that I could close out the visual timer entirely — but even with my complaints, I’ve already used it every single day since I installed it.

When I discovered If This Then That through Flickr last week I had one of those rare moments where my eyes went really wide and my mouth dropped open and I went, “Oh my god, how did I not know about this already?!”

Basically, IFTTT lets you create recipes for actions on the internet. I use mine to automatically upload Instagrams to my Tumblr and Flickr and also to automatically share new posts I make on all the various social media accounts I have. I am really, really bad at self-promotion and terrible at remembering to crosspost, so those recipes are incredibly useful to me.

I also have to throw out a recommendation for freethephotos which is a migration tool to get all of your Instagram pictures into your Flickr account. I tried Flickstagram with almost no success (It lagged like crazy and stalled halfway through and also added a bunch of unnecessary tags to my pictures.) and so I tried freethephotos instead and it was super simple, fast, and didn’t lag or over-tag. And since I set up an IFTTT recipe to do it automatically after I Instagram something, I don’t have to worry about using it again.

My phone is also, obviously, important to me too, but I am much less likely to use really useful things on it since I do most of my being productive stuff while at my desk. Most of my phone apps are for photography, including my most recent download InstaPlace. Because I live in the middle of nowhere, this is not yet all that useful to me, but I have a feeling that when my gf and I take a road trip later this year, it will be. It’s a fun one to play with anyway.

My last two recommendations are Hippo Remote Lite and Sleep Cycle. I’ve been using Sleep Cycle for a long time — on and off since I got my first iPhone in 2009 — and for the last 99 consecutive nights. I don’t know that the data it accumulates has any real value — most of the nights I wake up feeling the worst, the app tells me I’ve had a 90% or higher night of sleep — but the gentle alarm is great. Hippo Remote Lite, on the other hand, is very new to me and has already been super, super useful. The last three Monday nights we’ve had storms that interfered with our satellite and interrupted our recordings of Teen Wolf and we’ve had to resort to watching on the MTV website. My computer is pretty big, but we have an Apple TV and would much rather use AirPlay to watch it on our tv, so we do, but using the mouse from a distance is kind of weird and almost impossible depending on where we sit with it. Hippo Remote Lite solves that by letting me use my phone as a mouse right in front of the tv. Magical.

Now go forth and anal retentively organize, tweak, and time. You deserve it.

*: I know that it doesn’t integrate Skype (Although there is a plugin that will make Skype work with it) which is the chat client du jour but I won’t use Skype as a chat client because Microsoft has made it effortless to wiretap you with it. I only use Skype for vidchat when absolutely necessary.

google reader is dead, long live feedly

So, remember how in the way old days, people used to bookmark blogs and then just kind of visit them one by one every day to see new updates? Remember how that was normal? And then RSS went real wide and easy and popular and RSS readers became ubiquitous and life was really grand and quite enjoyable. And then Google made a reader and we all pretty much universally adopted it because it was pretty great. Including me! Even though I am pretty technologically obstinate when it comes to internet stuff.*

Anyway, you probably know that Google is killing Reader and you also probably know that’s a massive suckfest because you’re already all settled in with it. You’ve got tags and feeds and all of it tidy and organized and set up the way you like it. But come July 1st, it’s all going to disappear because, and I believe this pretty genuinely, Google kind of hates us. And even though you’re probably not as bad a procrastinator as I am — oh god do I procrastinate — there’s a good chance you still don’t know what to use after Reader bites it. If you are even a little like me — and I’m so, so sorry if you are, but at least you’re not alone — you’ve probably signed up for like nine different replacement RSS readers and found yourself overwhelmed by it all and then given up and probably gone to bed with a book. No? Just me? Okay, well, I’m still going to tell you about Feedly.

When I started my quest for a new RSS reader, I started with BlogLovin because a lot of great blogs I follow and love use it. But, I hated it. I hated the layout, I hated the functionality — you’re not going to give me an oldest first option, seriously? — and I just think it’s clunky. Sorry, BlogLovin, you just aren’t for me.

Then I read about a million posts about it with people recommending nine million different readers and then I just gave up again. But then I read this post and I signed up for Feedly and The Old Reader. I tried them both out and liked them fairly evenly with TOR pulling ahead just because I found its interface a lot more appealing than Feedly’s (Plus that lovely icon/logo), but then I download the Feedly App for IOS and Feedly launched so far into the lead my head spun.

Being able to read my RSS feeds on my phone has totally changed how much I keep up with them. I used to let my GReader languish until I had more than a 1000 unread items bathed in the daunt and dread of catching up on so much. Reading blogs I love should never, ever feel like a chore and it doesn’t anymore! Because, like Twitter and Tumblr (though the app is genuinely terrible) and Facebook and Instagram, I can do it all wherever I am, whenever I have a free moment to bury my face in my phone. I can read my feeds while I poop! We are living in the future and I love it.

Switching readers also made me go hard on my feeds and get rid of the ones I wasn’t really engaging with anymore. I cleaned up dead feeds and sorted them into categories to help me keep track of what I follow and just generally made me sit down and focus and be really fussy for twenty minutes and now I am much happier and get to read things I really care about in a timely manner.

So, now you go do it too. Go sign up with Feedly and import your GReader subscriptions and settings with one click and clean house and have a happy RSS reading future. Because you’re a good person and you deserve it. Besides, look how cute the little goodbye they made for GReader is!

*: This is actually patently untrue. I am an early-adopter by nature. My Twitter is more than six years old, my Tumblr will be five in November, and I make sure to namesquat every single new social media that launches just in case. I was slow to GReader, but loyal.