[Wednesday Watercooler] An October Fall

I swear it was just the other month that I started this blog, and now – almost four hundred posts and two years later – we’ve really begun to unfold on a beautiful, ever unraveling story together.  Just this year alone, I’ve traveled to the better part of the Western United States and seemingly haven’t been home for more than three weeks at a time. Even though I keep protesting that my birthday just happened, I woke up this morning and almost had a heart attack knowing I’ll be 30 in two months.  At 29, I fell in love, moved in with my two best friends (and our four cats) and mastered the balancing act of having two full time jobs. There aren’t enough hours in the day to read all the books I want to read, get lost in the back streets of my neighborhood, douse myself in new music and spend time with all of the people I love. Suffice it to say, my breaths of fresh air seem to come few and far between and I’ve frequently found myself quoting a childhood book ‘5 Minutes Peace‘ and lamenting on the basic lack-there-of; but to be honest, I thrive when life is like this and wouldn’t have it any other way.

California Knows How To Purr-ty.

Last weekend, Danny, a few friends and I gallivanted just a few feet down the block to the annual Eagle Rock Music Festival, celebrating the arts and culture of our small – yet awesome – community.  For just one day, the streets were transformed into a full fledged fest – fully equipped with 6 different stages lingering to the side streets, boasting a wide menagerie of music 0 from jazz and experimental, to  hip-hop, indie, rock and roll and a whole cacophony of world music.   Instead of charging entrance fee, there was a $10 suggested donation per person that went to the Center of the Arts in Eagle Rock.  Inside the festival you could find a cacophony of creativity and individuality, from families taking their kids out for their first musical experience to the tried and true festies donning their hula-hoops, neon hair and effervescent attitudes.  And there really was something for everyone, from food trucks like Kogi and the Grilled Cheese Truck, to a small Farmer’s Market and locally made goods.  I managed to snag a shirt from my favorite booth – Arm the Animals; they’re a local non-profit that have dedcicated a portion of their funds to No Kill Animal Shelters around Los Angeles. Not only is the shirt fucking adorable, but it’s comfortable and as far as I can tell – puts a smile on damn near everyone’s face.

Red Bull Does NOT Give You Wings, But it Will Give Refunds

There’s nothing quite as American as a lawsuit based on false advertising – and that’s precisely what’s happening with Red Bull. As of this morning, if you log on on through the link above – you can get $10 back.  But, why? Well, as it turns out – beyond the no-wings bit, Red Bull also has no valid claims that it can increase your reaction speed, concentration, or performance abilities. In fact, an 8oz Red Bull could have as little as half as much caffeine inside as compared to a 7oz Coffee from Starbucks.

Get Your Carlton On

80’s Babies, rejoice – the dance move that highlighted our generation is back with a vengeance. Now, I don’t consider myself a DWTS fan; in fact, I didn’t even know what that acronym meant until this article.  But I do know that this is all sorts of awesome and it makes my heart happy:

[Wednesday Watercooler] Take a Mini-Mind Vacation

As we enter the middle of the week, we sit smack dab in the cusp of Gemeni and Cancer, and at the pivot point Spring and Summer; June Solstice is just around the corner, happening this Saturday around 3:50 AM PST.  Now, I’m not in school anymore but I definitely wish I was for more than one reason – I loved my collegiate community in Santa Barbara, I loved summer in Santa Barbara – but more over, I loved celebrating the Solstice there! Every year, the streets of downtown are littered with excited visitors and locals getting down in the beautiful sunshine to live music, great food and wonderful art all weekend long.

Festival Date: Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Solstice in SB

If you’re in the So Cal area, I definitely suggest getting to State St to check out the festivities; but if you don’t make it, don’t sweat it – there’s always the ‘Old Spanish Days’  and Fiesta in early August.  Put all of that together and shake it up, and you’ve got me thinking that I could use a vacation – couldn’t we all though? This whole week I’ve been staring at posts, links and pictures that literally transport me to a different world – so even if you’re stuck in an office cube, and your version of a vacation is getting off work at 5pm and diving into a cold beer, take a mini-mind trip through these awesome posts…enjoy!

Travel Through Underground Caves in Wales by Trampoline

Yes, you heard that right – in the Llechwedd caverns, Bounce Below has set up three giant trampolines to take visitors on a unique sight seeing experience.   The caverns are located in Northern Wales and the trampolines will open this July, boasting a 60′ slide and 10′ tall net walls on either side.   According to creator Sean Taylor – “It’s a one-hour activity where customers get dressed up in a cotton overall and are given a helmet…they then jump on a train and travel inside the mountain. They then disembark into a cavern twice the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral.” The cherry on top of this amazing adventure sundae? Lights.  The Llechwedd caverns will be swimming with gradients of pink, green, purple and turquoise lights. I say we book a group trip, like now.

Photo Cred: Creator’s Project

 

Nocturnal Wonderland Returns to Southern California

There might be a bit of gloom in the June of Southern California, but thanks to an early announcement from Insomniac Events founder Pasquale Rotella – residents are far from bummed. Late last night, Pasquale took to Facebook to announce that their pinnacle Autumn attraction ‘Nocturnal Wonderland’ will be making a triumphant return San Manuel Amphitheater for two days of festival fun over September 5th and 6th.

We are taking all the necessary steps we need to alleviate some of the logistical issues we’ve had in the past, especially where traffic is concerned. We’ll be lowering the capacity to create a more comfortable experience so that we ensure that everything about the event runs smoothly, even after the music ends. Our top priority is delivering the highest quality experience possible for all you Headliners. – Pasquale Rotella

As it stands, Nocturnal Wonderland is Insomnaic Events’ longest running festival with deep roots in Southern California – and as they always say, ‘The Show Must Go On’ – and, it is! Past headliners for the event have included 12th PlanetAbove & BeyondCosmic GateChris LakeGui BorattoMat ZoOrbitalSub FocusUmek and more.

Thanks to the love, dedication and determination of the EDM community at large Nocturnal Wonderland is back in a big way. Make sure to stay tuned for the latest and greatest in Insomniac Events headlines, and keep your ears to the ground for line-up announcements, ticket sales and more through the company’s websiteFacebook and Twitter.

See you in Wonderland!

Uber in Style with Optimus Prime 

In a cross-branding effort by Transformers and Uber for the new movie ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’, the companies have teamed up in three major US cities to shuttle you in tech savvy style.  In Dallas this past Tuesday, Phoenix this Thursday and Los Angeles on Saturday – if it’s between 1-7pm, Optimus Prime will cruise to your neighborhood and swoop you for 15 minutes of fame.  You might not get where you wanted to go but really, who the hell cares: YOU’RE RIDING ON OPTIMUS PRIME, DUDE.

Photo Cred: Uber

 

[Wednesday Watercooler]

If time stood still for Lightning in a Bottle, then it’s been going at Warp Speed ever since – there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, days in the week and weeks in the month to accomplish everything I want! There are lists upon lists of things to accomplish, meals to cook and conquer, hikes to go on, museum exhibits to attend, festivals to cover and friends to hang out with – and then there are all the things I wind up doing instead of making plans; isn’t that life, though?I’ve been a little – well – spread thin as of late; with great power, comes great responsibility.  First, thanks to the fact I’m on Best Buy – my role within the Disney organization has been kicked up a bit;there’s simply more visibility from the EVP’s on down. Not that I’m complaining – it’s just become more imperative that I stay the course, finish deadlines with a healthy time cushion so I can double check my work and it requires me to be a ‘self starter’. Knowing how big of a procrastinator I used to be, I guarantee it’s something my parents probably laugh at every now and again.  And then, there’s my work for The DJ List.  A year and a half ago, I was a lowly editor – and now, I’m a Senior Editor, Senior Publicist, PR Specialist and the 3rd from the top.  Not to toot my own horn, but 100 articles, 2 major festivals and 10 shows later – it feels like I’ve gone from having a hand in the cookie jar to a foot in the door; and I can’t even explain how blessed it makes me feel.  So, juggling two jobs, a relationship, cats and friends – it’s pretty simple to see that life is what happens when I’m busy making other plans, and I’m so very okay with that.   The great news – which I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, is that it’s hump day (finally!). What better way to get over the Wednesday hump than some awesome watercooler talking points; so, without further ado – let’s get down to business!

The Garden Grows Up

The ‘Vertical Farming Initiative’ is headed by Dr. Despommier – a professor at Columbia University in Public Health and Environmental Science, and why this hasn’t been considered before is almost beyond me; especially in high rise cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai. It purports that there’s a large amount of untapped resources and open space at our disposal that gets gregarious amounts of light, enough light to house a variety of herbs and plants – enough to ensure communities don’t go hungry. And similar to a tree, the structure also gets it’s energy from the sun; the sun’s rays are stored in Photovoltaic cells and used at night time for heat as well as light.

Genius!

A/S/L/OS? The First Supercomputer Passes the Turing Test

Though it’s considered an incredibly remedial, outdated test from over 60 years ago – the Turing Test, created by Alan Turing, was developed in 1950 as a mechanism to quantify a computer’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour at par with human intelligence.  While it’s debatable just how valid this test even is, and how intelligent this new ‘Super Computer’ is that actually only tricked 33% of participants into thinking it’s a 13 year old boy, the long and short of it is that we’re still in the process of developing automated computers that contain learning algorithms; and the future we’re building is drawing more parallel’s from ‘The Island’, ‘Terminator’ and Isaac Asimov’s ‘iRobot’.  This computer, eh – least of our worries; but the fact that we’re putting weight into this technology isn’t something to scoff at, or glaze over.  We’re at an era of greatness in science and technology, but my fear is that by pushing for Artificial Intelligence – we’re refusing responsibility for community and social intelligence, and it could be the disintegration of society as we know it.  But, for now, that’s just my opinion, man. 

Featured Image for Is that a nebula trapped inside a gemstone?

Is that a Nebula in your gem – or are you just happy to see me?

I’m not usually one to go gaga over geological formations – but the second I laid my eyes on this Contraluz Opal, I was in lust.  Discovered up in Opal Butte, Oregon – this stunning stone is going for a pretty penny (20,000,000 of them to be exact).  Sold last may through the Bonhams aution house, the piece has a ‘botryoidal jasper formation which forms a unique inclusion’.  I’m still not exactly sure what this means, except that I want it.

The Vindication of the Valley Girls

I’m a writer – and the great thing about writing, is you have the entire breadth of the English language at your disposal to play with, manipulate and use as you see fit; if I don’t like the way a word works out, I can rearrange my sentence or find a suitable substitute.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate into speaking prowess very easily – I used to slip a ‘like’ every now and again, but over time and some speech classes, I’ve substituted the ‘like’ for an ‘um’ or solid pause to collect my thoughts and get to the point of what I was actually trying to say.  Well, thanks to a study released today – it sounds like the world’s been stigmatizing us all wrong. Yeaaahhhh; way harsh, Tai!

While slipping more “likes” into your daily vocabulary is not going to make you a more conscientious person, the study suggests that the word and those who use it may have been unfairly maligned. Though filler words are often considered hallmarks of vapidity, they could actually signal a speaker taking the time to listen and respond deliberately. Rather than blurting out whatever is on their mind, they’re trying to find the right word or analogy.

Last but not least, the folks at Lightning in a Bottle have thrown together quite the recap video from the other weekend and in the best way, it makes me incredibly home sick.  Take a gander for a menagerie of the magic, mayhem and memories that was LIB’14

[Wednesday Watercooler] Olympics Edition

Truth  be told, over the last few days I’ve chosen to watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show over the Sochi Olympics – but that’s mostly because the Winter games just don’t get me the same way the Summer ones do.  You know: the games in the sand, fun in the sun, half naked sunkissed bodies and basketball; the works! Needless to say, I’m eagerly counting down the days til the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

The Unimpressed Olympian

McKayla Maroney, move over – it looks like the Winter Olympics have met your match, in the form of US figure skater Ashley Wagner.  Over the weekend, she placed forth in a team event and in true internet fashion, the photo has been making its rounds in hilarious fashion.

ashley-wagner-patrick-resized-tumblr.jpg

Dubbin’ It

Thank goodness for video editors and god bless their sense of humor; it seems that the great folks over at Buzzfeed have been splicing and dicing Ice Skating videos with some more…modern…music, and the results are out of this world amazing.  Currently, there are no lyrics allowed in their audio tracks but good news for music aficionados – starting with the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, lyrical music will be allowed.  So, you’re saying – this might be possible? Yahtzee!

Just Add Cats

I don’t know about you guys, but the only time I’ve actually enjoyed curling as a sport was in the movie ‘Men with Brooms‘ (yes, there was a movie; no, I’m not that embarrassed to admit I saw it).  So, naturally – when I saw this picture of Cat Curling I knew that I’d stumbled across Olympic Gold.

I-Pod’s YOLO Flip wins him the Gold

It seems that the US has finally been usurped when it comes to Snowboarding; Shaun White didn’t have the run he intended on last but the Russian born Swiss Snowboarder  Iouri Podladtchikov, known to friends and family as I-Pod, landed one of the gnarliest tricks I’ve ever seen and is beyond deserving of his gold; much congrats and take a peak at this video from last year to see JUST how insane this flip is!

[Wednesday Watercooler] Des Hommes et Des Chatons

One of my favorite morning pastimes is scouring the interwebs in search of breaking stories, hot songs and simply put- the weirdest of the weird.   So when one of my friends showed me a Tumblr page about Men and Cats a year ago, best believe I was hooked.  The entire premise of ‘Des Hommes et Des Chatons” is pairing incredibly handsome male models with adorable little kitty cats in similar poses.  Translated from French, the site’s name is ‘Men and Kittens’ and the result is out of this world amazing.  Can you think of a better way to kill some minutes on a lazy Wednesday?  Yeah, I’m guessing not. A huge thank you to My Modern Met for reminding me just how much I love this blog.  Enjoy the pics and if you’d like to get to the actual Tumblr account, simply click through!

 

Bonjour “Christian Grey” 

[Wednesday Watercooler]

Well, here we are again – it’s the week’s halftime, the 7th inning stretch or its official 2:30 feeling; however you slice and dice it, it always feels amazing to stroll into the office on a Wednesday knowing the battle is more or less half over.

Summer has officially gone and Autumn has officially swept  over Los Angeles – which, besides a few blustery days and pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, means about jack shit.  After five years in this city, I’ve come to the conclusion that we either have perpetual spring (which causes allergies to act out at the strangest times) or we have the ability to experience all of them in a single day.  One thing’s for sure though: when Summer ends the work load definitely picks up.  If you work in an incredibly corporate climate, Q4 earnings are all the rage; for a company like Disney that’s been around for 90 years as of today, doubly so.  I’ve caught myself working odd hours and well into the night because I’m committed to delivering the best final product – but man, does it take some life out of me!  The last thing I want to do after sitting on a computer for twelve hours is keep sitting on the computer – I need sunshine, fresh air and human contact; I need balance.

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of holding on and letting go.
Havelock Ellis

By balance – I mean life outside of html codes, Access databases and vlookups in Excel; life outside of monitors, dragging, dropping and double clicking.  Back before Facebook, AIM and ICQ – we actually had to be social in order to cultivate camaraderie; but now – in 2013 – we silently sit in our self imposed solitary confinement, sending invitations to play “online games” with people halfway across the world when we don’t even know the names of our physical neighbors.  There’s a fine line between where the internet brings us together as social adhesive and where it separates us like the polarity of a magnet.   I bring this up because I continually walk this line within both my personal and professional lives – and I know I’m not the only one.  When you telecommute for work four days a week, you lose the corporate climate and constant interaction; you can’t read the reaction on someones face, you can only infer it through the syntax of their emails.  The same can be said for your personal relationships – how many of us have overlooked calling a friend to congratulate them or catch up simply because we’ve seen their posts on –Insert-Social-Media-Site-Here– and think “Why bother? Looks like they’re enjoying themselves!”  Sure, they probably are – but life is more enjoyable with the people you love by your side so next time you see an awesome update, rad picture or funny quote: reach out and touch them! Text, call or send a picture – hell, even write them a handwritten letter; it’s so easy to press a button and “acknowledge” someones actions online but true real world communication is what cultivates closeness and builds relationships.  So do your due diligence today and tell someone how much you appreciate them – call you parents, your kid sister or even compliment a total stranger.  Bet your bottom dollar you’ll walk away with a bounce in your step! Now, enough banter from the back of my brain – onto the Watercooler!

Oreos Are Equally Addictive As Cocaine or Morphine

I have first hand experience with this one – my boyfriend and I just discovered the Mint Oreos and the package is basically empty. So next time your friends tell you they’re addicted to Oreos, you might want to give them the benefit of the doubt!  According to Joseph Schroeder, a neuroscientist at the Connecticut College, and a group of students – these sweet little morsels of heaven are just as addictive as cocaine or morphine (and a lot cheaper, too!).  The study, conducted to determine the correlation between high-sugar / high-fat food and addiction, proves that foods high in sugar target the pleasure center of the brain the same way that drugs do.  What does this mean for science? Because high sugar foods use the same neurological mechanism as morphine and cocaine, we should be able approach obesity and drug addiction in the same manner.

NASA Wants to Know If You’re Good In Bed

You might think you’re excellent in the bedroom – but can you stay cooped up lying down for 70 days?  If your answer is an emphatic YES – this new NASA study might just be for you!  Known as the ‘Bed Rest Study‘, subjects will spend approximately ten weeks on their back in an exercise program being built for astronauts.  The goal of the study is to minimize the bone loss, muscle loss and cardiovascular function of astronauts through daily weightless aerobic training and exercise.  The program pays $170 a day, or $18,000 for ten weeks in a perpetual horizontal state and five more being studied.  If you’re not attached to standing or sitting, this is definitely the job for you – head on over and apply here!

Drunk Dial Congress

Now, call it juvenile but there’s nothing like having a strong drink and a good yelling match – even if it’s at a pet (or wall, or any other inanimate object of choice); so when I stumbled across this website I thought “Winner, winner – chicken dinner!”.  Congress is currently full of people who can’t get their head of out each others asses long enough to do something positive for the collective good of this nation – so nothing sounds quite as sweet as calling them after a cold one and letting them have it.

Crazy Cat Ladies Rejoice – Wine for Cats Means You’ll Never Drink Alone

Yeah; you read that correctly.  In this beautiful, wonderful, batshit crazy world we live in someone’s taken their sweet time to develop – you guessed it – kitty wine.  Now, I think this is hilarious because Sake – my main cat – is named after the rice wine, so it’s only fitting that I can now give him a bottle of himself!  The wine is called Nyan Nyan Nouveau and is a concoction of catnip, cabernet grape juice and some vitamin c – what’s that mean? That your cat is about to get TURNT. There’s a limited supply in production – only about a thousand bottles – so if this piques your fancy, you best act on it fast!

The end of drinking alone? Wine for cats is a thing

[Wednesday Watercooler] ‘Murrica, Fuck Yeah.

In true and typical Amanda fashion – there’s been too many things whirring in my head and not enough hours in the day to properly pen and extrapolate on current events; but man, oh man, do they ever need to be covered.  First things first for any of my So.Cal followers – who managed to snag some pics of last nights epic, cotton candy sunset?!  I made a special trip to the roof and stayed until the clouds picked up hints of magenta and lavender; absolutely stunning!

For today, I’d love to focus on news about the good o’ Red WhiteBlue, ‘Murrica;
It’s like news of the weird, but better – because it’s all about US(A).

NBA Finals: Bringing The Heat

I don’t talk about it much – and most likely, it has heaps and heaps to do with the fact that I live in LA – but I’m a huge Miami Heat / Dwayne Wade fan.  That said, I’ve been losing my voice lately trying to kick their asses into high gear against the Spurs in the finals ( Sidenote: If I have to see Tim Duncan go up for another ten layups I might have to strangle a coach or something…) so it’s nice to have a little somethin’ somethin’ to liven the mood.  Take this video from Jimmy Kimmel Live where he got some of my favorite former and current ballers and makes them read mean tweets about themselves =)

See You Later, Alligator.

Things all over the states have been heating up lately, but nothing quite like what’s happened in Florida.  Over the weekend, a band of merry men went trapesing through the Little Econ State Forest in Florida in search of some magic mushrooms.  Unfortunately, it sounds like they ran into a few hiccups – firstly, there’s a little bitty thing called the law.  Officers stopped the group for the removal of plant life – which itself is reason enough for jail time – but during their search, the officers also discovered a two foot long alligator in their possession.  They received a misdemeanor for the destruction of plant life, possession of an alligator and violations of probation; in a while, crocodiles!

Science, Politics and Psychoactive Drugs: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

It’s crazy to think of the advancements we could have made for PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, mental illnesses – and, in general, science itself -if politics hadn’t gotten in the way of science and the empirical method.  The validity of the professors argument is only furthered by his exit from from the council.  To quote the article,

“Professor Nutt, who was dismissed from the Home Office’s advisory council on drugs in 2009 after clashing with ministers, said that UN conventions on drugs in the 1960s and 1970s have delayed the development of “innovative treatments” for PTSD and depression by 30 years and also set back research into areas of neuroscience such as consciousness.”

An Apple A Day Keeps the Geeks at Bay

The guys over at Apple are back at it and in a big way. Earlier this week, Apple released specs for their new Mac Pro at their World Wide Developer Conference, better known to geeks far and wide as WWDC, up in San Francisco.  This is the first new desktop in years coming from the gurus at Mac and us technophiles should definitely stop and take notice.  Not only is this the first Mac Pro with a flash based hard drive, but this model has duel AMD graphics cards, RAM that’s quick as a bunny, and 2.5x faster flash memory.  Bottom line: my birthday is in six months, who’s getting it for me?

One last rant….

Prism: The Irony and The Agony

If you’re reading this, then you should be more than aware of a current government initiative called PRISM. For their purposes, PRISM is a code word for a program the NSA is using to collect and aggregate data from across nine major internet companies to “combat terrorism“.  The companies are as follows: Facebook, AOL, Apple, YouTube, Skype, Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and PalTalk – not to mention, numerous wireless carriers like Verizon; and they’re collecting information on you, right nowas we speak.  And what’s worse, these companies are now denying its existence.

The irony to me is what a prism actually is: a glass or transparent object.  Because this, this is anything but.

From the perspective of a Data Analyst, I can tell you right now that if you’re minding your own business the government isn’t much minding yours at all.  However, that’snot the real issue – the problem is the assumed deception of the American populous in order to collect an extremely large amount of metadata.

It’s not just my generation that’s up in arms – it’s the majority of the American public.  If it wasn’t for the whistleblower – Edward Snowden -we wouldn’t be privy to any of this information.  You can judge for yourself whether he’s a traitor or a hero – but I take the position of the later. He’s currently dipping and dodging all over, and attempting to seek asylym from the United States where he’s been deemed a traitor by our government. Then there’s Larry Klayman, a former Justice Department prosecutor, is filing a $20 Billion Dollar class action lawsuit that focuses on any complicit companies or officials as well as the above nine companies in question.

The fact of the matter is  we’ve been aware for a long time that the government is fond of phone taps, collecting both instant messages and text messages; and thanks to my mother I’ve been very aware of my internet footprint.  Once something goes online – it can’t exactly be deleted. For my generation – the e-generation, this posses a huge issue as most of us are already wary of the role the government plays in both our personal and technological lives.  Unlike our parents, we’ve more or less grown up with and grown into the internet – and now, all of a sudden, it feels like a lifelong friend has been turned against our best interests.