Why I Think I’m Obsessed With Coffee

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I drink coffee almost every day. All coffee lovers agree that when they were little, they hated the bitter stuff. Most people also agree that it smells way better than it actually tastes. However, I still love the stuff, but that got me thinking: why?

I got hooked on coffee with the Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino. I know some “coffee-haters” that still indulge in this guilty pleasure (which I consider hypocritical). I think that was 8th grade. By high school, I started using it to help me stay awake. Demanding honors classes and so many extracurricular activities and commitments were sucking away hours of sleep. Then I got a part-time job: more coffee please?

I’ve done instant coffee, iced coffee, lattes, Frappucinos, VIA packets, McDonalds Frappes, hot mochas, yadda, yadda, yadda. I’m not really a fan of Dunkin’. I mean, I’ll drink it and be content with it, but I’ll always prefer Starbucks. I like strong and slightly bitter versus smooth and creamy.

That doesn’t mean that I drink it straight-black either. After much experimentation, I’ve gotten to prefer half-and-half with a a decent amount of brown sugar (just not too much).

But I digress, why do I like this stuff??

It wakes me up

Yay for caffeine. But there are the trade-offs: Stop one day cold-turkey, and a headache comes along. Sometimes certain brews don’t even wake me up (and put me instead to sleep!)

It tastes good

Yes, it still smells better than it tastes, but after what I believe to be the development of my taste buds, I enjoy the taste of certain blends.

Dat smell

And back to the smell, the aroma of brewing coffee can always begin to perk me up on a dreary morning. It comforting.

Starbucks makes coffee cool

I started with the brand and will probably will remain loyal to it. Taste is number one, but Starbucks also sells an image: smooth jazz and an artsy atmosphere.

It’s everywhere

I may not live in Manhattan with three Starbucks at every street intersection, but we still have a lot of options. And coffee comes in a large variety of “formats!”

It complements a lot of foods

What doesn’t coffee go well with…? Okay, maybe cereal (but I have had a bowl of Coco alongside a cup of Joe before).

It’s portable

Tumblers, thermoses, disposable Dixie cups… all for those crazy people like me who need their wake-up fixes on the go.

Coffee can be as common or fancy as you want it to be

That’s the thing about coffee. You can make it in your home, sip it in a cafe, or order it after dinner at a five-star restaurant. It’s all the same thing at the core, really.

My Keurig makes coffee fun

These machines are present in my dorm room, the Student Government office, and at my on-campus job. Pop in a k-cup and out comes a fresh cup of coffee! I find it fun because I’m a dork.

I’m a college student

Crazy assignments that result in all-nighters, 8:00 am classes, morning presentations, afternoon slumps… I salute those who do without any sort of caffeine in the world of higher education.

And those were reasons why I think millions of people around the world sip their coffee every morning. Cheers!

Do you like coffee? How do you do your perfect mix? Starbucks or Dunkin’? Any tea lovers out there (Teavana ftw!)

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The Hunger Games… Yes, I’m Posting About It.

SUPER SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read the book and/or haven’t seen the movie, stop reading now. Happy Hunger Games!

So as my previous vlogs and blogs have noted, I rushed through finishing the Steve Jobs bio so I could finally get started on Suzanne Collins’ book. I started it at midnight, but was so tired that I fell asleep by 3:00 am. When I got a hold of it the next night, I was awake enough to finish it. Finished at 4:42 am. Slept for about 4 hours. Woke up and saw the movie.

Now, I could write paragraphs and paragraphs about how great both experiences were (books and film) and my thoughts and stuff, but I’ll lay it out to you in bite-sized chunks… 🙂

Once again, if you didn’t read the book, there will be many spoilers below. I warned you.

A Supplement to those who read the first book:

  • I went into this knowing there was a lot of hype around it. Background: loved Harry Potter and will forever. Never touching them vampires. I had a feeling I was going to like it, so my expectations were moderately high.
  • When I started reading the first night, I immediately enjoyed it but stopped only because I fell asleep from exhaustion of the day.
  • This was surprising, because even with good books, I’m usually aware of the page number I’m on and my pacing. This book seemed to flow quickly, and I paid little to no attention to this aspect. It was as good as people hyped it up to be! *gasp*
  • Ever since reading The Giver in 8th grade, novels that feature dystopian societies have always been my favorites.
    Global warming will turn the US to Panem. Canada simply gets demoted to “Wilds.” Well now.

    That may seem a little messed up, but they are interesting. I’m always thinking about the future, and new trends, technologies, and fears are always thought provoking.

  • Today we have reality shows on about every TV channel and violent video games and movies in excess, could our future be approaching a Hunger Games reality…? Scary thought.
  • Katniss can shoot an arrow though the eye of her prey. She’s such a boss.
  • Peeta. Have you ever heard that name before? It sounds like Peter without the -er. LOL.
  • “The boy with the bread.” Whenever Katniss said that I always laughed in my head. I dunno why.
  • Need super-medicine. YAY! A parachute! What is this? Soup, sponsors?? Really? CURSE YOU HAYMITCH.
  • So what exactly did Thresh do? It’s such a mystery in the book. And he gained weight according to Katniss! Hmmmm…
  • Haha, Foxface. Her strategies were good, in my opinion. Could have used better berry-knowledge, though.
  • Collins should write a spin-off that tells the tale of how Haymitch won the 50th Hunger Games. That would be interesting.
  • And the finale! Whew! The adrenaline of reading them pages! And these genetically-altered creatures with human eyes?? Creepy yo.
  • “We’ve looked over the rulebook, and there can only be one victor…” OHHHH HELLL NOO!
  • If I were in the Hunger Games, I would have died immediately… probably by being stupid and stepping off of the tube before the countdown ended and being blown to bits. Hahaha. 😀

Katniss: “Oh Petta! I wuv youu! Mwah mwah mwah!” Peeta: “Oh Katniss! What would I do without youu… I actually luv youu. Like, legit.” Katniss: “WHOA. BACK UP. I’m just doing this for the sponsors and stuff. I have my Gale at home even though we’re not dating and I’m just gonna be confusing like that.” Peeta: “Well, at least I have mah bread. Imma talk to mah dad, and youu gonna starve.” Katniss: “Well, your life be in mah handz nao, and yo leg look redikoolus!” … I could go on with this for hours!  Hahaha! 😀

The movie adaption:

  • Acting was superb. Couldn’t have asked for a better cast or better acting.
What lovely Tributes… now you have to kill each other. And Gale, why you here? Stop trolling. You’re still alive, so go away.
  • The movie actually followed the book’s plot details very well… with a few minor changes that were allowed by us bookreaders. Glad to see the gold eyeliner on the movie-version of Cinna. They got a lot of stuff right.
  • This was because Collins was a screenwriter for the film. All book adaptions should do this; look at the result!
  • But I wanted to see Prim’s goat. There was no goat! Pffffft! 😉
  • Okay, so they changed the whole mockingjay pin thing. In the book, the mayor’s daughter gives it to Katniss. In the movie, Katniss sees it in the Hob and a traders tells her to keep it, and then she gives it to Prim, and then Prim gives it back to her. It worked. No complaints.
  • They nailed it with Effie Trinket. But she got pretty much no screentime after the Games! 😦
  • “PRIMROSE EVERDEEN!” That still echoes in my head.
  • According to Twitter, some people didn’t like the actor choice/performance of Haymitch. He looked and acted exactly how I thought of him.
  • Cinna. He’s the awesome stylist. He has golden eyeliner. Who doesn’t like him??

    Cinna should have gotten more screen time, too.

  • The four notes they chose for the mockingjays were a good choice.
  • Didn’t the book say that watching the start of the Games was required by law? So why is Gale sittin’ in some random hill??
  • As messed up as the population of the Capitol is, I found them very interesting and maybe more shots of life as a painted clown person would have been entertaining. (Make-up awards maybe?)
  • Changed the roof scene in the book to a peer-out-the-window scene. It worked too.
  • As I was watching the movie, I knew most of what would happen since I read the entire book hours before, but I was literally shaking and nervous during key points of the film.
  • A lot of people and critics are complaining about the whole “shaky camera” approach in the movie. I think it adds to it. It also covers up some of the gore and all of the blood that, honestly, I didn’t want to see to much of.
  • Caesar. Liked him in the book. Loved him in the movie. He’s so funny! Especially when he does that thing when he reclines in the chair with his mouth open and goes “ahhh haha!”
Caesar Flickerman: The only person who lives in the Capitol that’s likeable. And he rocks that blue hair!
  • Since the movie isn’t a narrative told by Katniss in first-person, we got to see a little “behind the scenes” of the Capitol. The TV editors. The people who set the wild fire and project the Panem seal in the sky. Yay future technology.
  • And this “pointy-beard dude” as my friend Derrel calls him. He wasn’t in the book, right? Interesting character nonetheless. Death by berries too. Sucks for him.
  • When I read the book, I got very sad when Rue died. When it happened in the movie, that was it. I cried. There, I said it. Now I’ve gotten teary-eyed with movies before, but she was so young and it was SO SAD. I blame the lack of sleep and *insert lame excuses here* …
  • The “creatures” in the finale looked more cat-like than wolf-like as the book portrayed them to be. No human-like eyes shown either. Hmmm…
  • President Snow: this actor always plays the bad guy because he’s good at it. And here’s another thing, the ending went a little into the second book (spoiler: rebellion) and I didn’t even start it yet. Oh well…

That seems like all of the thoughts I can think of for now. If you have ANYTHING to share, leave me a comment!

And may the odds be ever in your favor! <– I will be overusing this quote for the remainder of the semester.

*cue the mockingjays*

Thoughts on Steve Jobs (the biography)

At about 11:30 tonight, I finished the Steve Jobs biography. Before I delve into the book, let me jump back to how I became an Apple fan.

Around the year 2005, an Apple Store opened in my mall. It introduced me to the iPod. This was back in the day where the iPod mini was still around. I grabbed one of those little booklet-brochure things that had all of the iPods in it and took it home. For weeks I poured over that booklet and convinced myself that I not only wanted one, but I needed one. An iPod mini would be my solution to boring car rides, especially ones in my dad’s car where the stereo didn’t work. My aunt told me that if I was good, she’d get me one for Christmas. I was ecstatic.

Apple must have gotten word that Mikey Dunn was going to get an iPod by Christmas, so in October, Steve Jobs pulls out and presents iPod nano right out of his pocket. I remember going to the Circuit City store and wondering where’d all the iPod minis go? What’s this new nano thing? Looks so thin!

I got a black 8GB nano that Christmas. I had been initiated into the cult of Apple. The final ceremony was when my Dell Inspiron laptop contracted a virus and had its hard-drive wiped. I hated Windows and switched to Mac. I was a pure Apple-advocate by then.

That’s the thing about Apple: they are all about their products. They make them well, and they market them well.

I was hooked to watching Steve Job keynotes just like everyone else. The rest is pretty much history.

Of course I was going to read this book once I heard of it. I was obviously upset when Jobs died; I really wanted to meet him in person one day, and this book would be the closest I could ever get to that desire.

What I expected from it was an honest, hold-nothing-back account of his life. Everything weird about him, anything he regretted, his opinions, his family, his failures … I wanted to hear it all. We see Apple as one of the world’s most secretive corporations, but Jobs was definitely one of the world’s most secretive individuals.

When I finished the book about 30 minutes ago, I was satisfied. Before reading the first pages, I already knew a lot that I knew would be in the book: the products, the NeXT failure, PIXAR … but there was definitely a lot I didn’t know: all the people in his life and their significance, his love life, his family, his cancer, and especially his sometimes cold, harsh personality. Wow, all those expletives.

But I still see Jobs as highly as I did before I even read the thing, maybe even a little higher. He was one of a kind. He envisioned products that people didn’t even know they wanted yet.

He’s one of the reasons why I chose to major in business. He’s why I do well with presentations. He’s why I appreciate design and detail. He’s why I own so many great Apple products.

We’ll miss you Steve. Glad I got to meet you through this book.

The Madonna Super Bowl Halftime Show: Recap & Thoughts

I actually didn’t watch the Super Bowl last night; I was in my dorm doing homework like a loser. But there were TWO things I did see (and actually cared about): Kelly Clarkson opening with the Star-Spangled Banner and Madonna’s hyped half-time show.

(By the way, Kelly nailed it and flubbed no lyrics, but let’s focus on Madge…)

Madonna is special to me and my family because my mom grew up with her. My mom and Madonna are both the same age, so she holds a special place in my mom’s music tastes. She got me to like Madonna’s work, and once her recent album ‘Hard Candy’ came out, I was sold. A new generation of Madonna fans were brought into her ‘Sticky & Sweet’ world.

So, if you didn’t see the show, check it out below courtesy of Perez Hilton.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH MADONNA’S PERFORMANCE

We open with ‘Vogue,’ which is Spartan themed. Interesting take of the song and what an entrance! Madonna definitely wanted to make it clear that she is the Queen of Pop.

Then we have her last number one hit ‘Music.’ It reminded me of how much I missed listening to this song. She’s like doing assisted flip-things at age 54! Like, wow!

This was a bit remixed too, and featured LMFAO seamlessly with ‘Party Rock Anthem’ and ‘Sexy and I Know It.’ The three-song mash up remix actually worked! And it was great to see Madonna shuffle with the new generation of pop hit-makers.

And then, the new single, “Give Me All Your Luvin'” which serves as the lead single off of her upcoming new album, ‘MDNA.’ To be honest, I’m not crazy about the song because it sounds dated and there’s nothing really spectacular about it, but Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. are welcomed as featured rappers.

When Nicki started her little rap, the audience was like “RAAAAAAAA!” *cheer*

And the first time I watched it, I totally DID NOT NOTICE M.I.A.’s little NMA gesture there! Put that finger away! This is supposed to be family-friendly entertainment. Better than a wardrobe-malfunction though…

And to close, we’ve got Cee-Lo Green and Madge singing ‘Like a Prayer,’ and with the choir and all, it seemed quite moving.

So, my conclusion was that it was a good show, but I’m a Madonna fan. I think for everyone else, they were either disappointed or didn’t really remember it by the end of the night. I think Madge kept it conservative, which was good, but she could have been a little more creative in making it a conversation topic of the Monday after. And I felt no audience connection at all: just Madge strutting around with her a-list featured artists. The singing was good though! 🙂

But now I can’t stop thinking what a Lady Gaga halftime show would be like.

Let me know what you thought of the halftime show in a comment!

Why I Now Want a Nintendo 3DS

When Nintendo released its next generation hand-held gaming console, the Nintendo 3DS, back in March, I was intrigued. 3D without the glasses seemed like a pretty cool concept. So I went to a nearby Target to give it a test run. Yes, the effects were pretty cool, but that alone wasn’t going to sell me the DS. And at an initial cost of $249.99 (what a Wii cost when it first was released), me owning one wasn’t a top priority at the time.

What the 3DS needed was games.

And by games, I don’t mean those lousy launch titles. I talking the big names: Mario, Zelda, and Sonic.

First, Nintendo gave us some ported games, now in 3D. We got The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and StarFox 64 3D. Okay, so bringing back some classics with a little pop won’t hurt, but still…

Nintendo experienced such a rocky start with the device, they made the strategic move to slash the price. Significantly. What was $249.99 is now $169.99. Now that’s more like it!

At least it seems like we’re heading in the right direction.

Well now that we’re officially in holiday shopping mode 2011, Nintendo and other publishers have brought out the goods that will surely sell more devices, even to me. Here are those 3 games…

Super Mario 3D Land

Just the name of this game sounds epic. I have been, and always will be, a Mario fanatic. I was a later generation; my first Mario experience was Super Mario 64 for the N64, but that was one of the best video games of all time. Not a bad start.

But I digress, by the looks of the clips I’ve seen, this game radiates freshness along with nostalgia. I always thought Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 were fantastic games, but there was something about them that seemed off. I realized that they felt like, in a sense, spin-offs since they explored worlds other than the world of Mario. Don’t get me wrong, Isle DelFino and space are awesome, but my N64 roots wanted nourishment!

Well this game, to my pleasant surprise, brings Mario back to the world of… well, Mario. And even his famed tanooki suit has returned! (PETA can stay out of this, please). But we also have a fresh story, and new worlds, but at least the game feels more like a sequel to Mario 64. That’s because it feels like it continues in Mario World where 64 left off.

The graphic potential of the 3DS is fully displayed with this game; Mario has never looked so good in a hand-held game. Colorful and smooth-looking visuals… and not to forget it’s in 3D!

I want need this. Just this game alone would sell me a 3DS.

MarioKart 7

With every new Nintendo console comes another installment of the MarioKart franchise. Hands down, it’s probably one of the best racing franchises out there. And now that it’s on the 3DS, I’m surprised the developers didn’t name it MarioKart 3D.

From my Nintendo collection, I have this to say of the franchise. MarioKart 64 was just awesome. People still play it here in college dorm rooms in 2011 with the same enthusiasm. MarioKart: DoubleDash!! was another of my favorites. What would have seemed like a stupid concept of 2 characters per kart was actually ingenious. MarioKart DS was fun, but a little bland, and MarioKart Wii was good fun, but got boring quickly. So, what will 7 have to offer…?

Anyhow, from a visual standpoint, again we see amazingness. Colorful, smooth… I’m just repeating myself now aren’t I?

Looks like we’ve got some new gimmicks to try out here too. Not only can you race on the track, but you can also in the air and water. For me, I’m not crazy about gimmicks. MarioParty kind of died early due to those.

Looks like good fun nonetheless. And we all have to agree that, like its predecessors, it’s got large multiplayer potential.

Sonic Generations

Oh Sonic, the games you’ve been in. Sonic the Hedgehog infamously made a bumpy transition into 3D, but I personally didn’t think the games were terrible. (There was something about Sonic Heroes that really got me even though everyone else hated it.) But the problem was simple: the Blue Blur lost his roots for a second. Sonic Team needed to make games that focused primarily on Sonic and his best attribute: his speed.

Luckily, recent games like Sonic Rush, Sonic Unleashed, and Sonic Colors show that he’s now heading in the right direction.

Apparently, SEGA finally got the message, and its answer to satisfy the masses was Sonic Generations, a game that is probably even more nostalgic than Super Mario 3D Land.

It’s fast. It’s eye-popping. And you can even play as Classic Sonic!

Since I don’t own an XBOX or PlayStation 3, looks like the 3DS version will have to suffice. But from the looks of the trailer, the game more than just suffices!

Glad to see those classic courses again, Sonic, along with some intriguing new levels as well.

So it looks like a Nintendo 3DS may just be on my holiday wishlist this year. Oddly, Nintendo got off to a shockingly rough start with the new console, but these games should make up for their delay.

Are you excited for any 3DS titles? Planning on getting one? Leave me a comment! (On this post’s page, scroll to the bottom where you can easily log in with a Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress account.)

A Very Gaga Thanksgiving

As you probably already knew, I’m a BIG Lady Gaga fan Little Monster (and now it’s an oxymoron).

So last night, after we got home from Thanksgiving at my aunt’s house, the family kicked back on the living room couch and got to watch the ABC special “A Very Gaga Thanksgiving;” it was a like a showcase of Lady Gaga’s music and a little peek into her life and personality. Since I was already a fan, I already knew I was going to love it, but I was curious to see how my parents and aunt would react.

We start of with a duet of “The Lady is a Tramp” with Gaga and Tony Bennett. I personally liked it: jazzy and it really showed off Gaga’s vocals. Even though she is a pop singer, Gaga not only does well, but soars without overproduced autotuned tracks. I’m not really a Tony fan; not my generation I suppose. Tony doesn’t look bad at all for his age of 85, however. His vocals were okay. My dad’s opinion was “The song kind of sucked.” Opinions are opinions I guess.

So the song was kind of like a rocky start, but we did notice how low-key and elegant the show was. No outrageously insane outfits, strobe lights, or blood, but instead an upscale, mansion-like setting with candles and friends and family eating while Gaga sings. Seems fitting for Thanksgiving so far.

Another segment revealed the “mansion” as Gaga’s alma mater Sacred Heart in Manhattan. Gaga sat with 3rd and 4th graders as they had arts-and-crafts time creating Thanksgiving decorations. She really connected with the girls in the segment; she asks them what their families typically eat for Thanksgiving, and they struggle for answers, but then she references artist Jackson Pollock and all the girls in the room knew exactly whom she was talking about. Well now! Glad to see Gaga keeping the show very Mikey-appropriate so far!

Gaga and Art cook up some fried turkey and salami waffles!

Gaga then did a little “Let’s cook some stuff with celebrity chef Art Smith.” The deep fried turkey made me hungry, while the sound of salami waffles made us cringe on the couch. But as Smith and Gaga continued with the “waffles,” they looked utterly delectable. As soon as the segment ended and the commercials came on, my mom said “Mikey, find the recipes for me!”

Now for the performances. Gaga did indeed direct the special herself, but she went with a very different approach. A bit more classy and glamorous, but definitely with hints of Gaga throughout. And there’s just something about her presence that I can’t really put words to. I liked her balance of stripped-down, sit-down piano moments (Yoü and I, Edge of Glory, and Hair), her dance numbers (Born This Way and even Bad Romance), and her vocal performances (The Lady is a Tramp and Marry the Night). Let me point out some interesting things I noticed during some of these spectacular songs…

1) Born This Way – the portable egg vessel?

Gaga opened and ended “Born This Way” with a more portable version of the infamous “vessel.”

2) Hair – the 3 wigs and the powerful anti-bullying message; when she said “Would you join me Richard?” (Richard was apparently a dancer)

3) Edge of Glory – the background of the song’s connection to her late grandfather

4) Bad Romance – when she went to someone’s table and sang the last verse with a mouthful of food (and pulled it off!)

5) Marry the Night – she mentioned that it was her favorite song on the album

6) Yoü and I – the trumpet + piano version was quite good!

Gaga even included a performance of “White Christmas” with her inclusion of a verse she wrote herself since the song was “too short.”

Gaga donned multiple wigs for her sentimental performance of “Hair”

At the last half hour of the program was the supposedly epic interview between Katie Couric and Gaga. As I was watching, I was saying to myself “You can tell this is the segment Gaga had very little influence over.” It was really bland on Couric’s part, but Gaga did expel more about her family and the like.

My favorite part of the interview, however, was when Couric attempted to get Gaga to speak of her love life. The dialogue kind of went like this:

Couric: “So Lady Gaga, how is your love life?”

Gaga: “My love life is the only thing I don’t talk about.”

Couric: “Even to me?”

Gaga: “Even to you…” PWNED.

Even Katie Couric will never know of Lady Gaga’s love life.

Gaga then elaborates that she would not want paparazzi and helicopters flying above the chapel during her wedding day. A Hollywood wedding would not be a Gaga wedding. Oh look! It’s Sister Bayo! (Former Head of the Lower School).

After the performance of “Marry the Night,” the credits rolled with what was apparently the “sneak peak” of the official music video. It looked like choreography rehearsal, which was really good. Now the question is, was this footage part of the actual video or just a taste of the choreography to be seen in the video? Only time will tell!

In the end, even my Dad was a Gaga fan. Without too much makeup, sunglasses, gimmicks, and weirdness, she is extremely likable. I really enjoyed the performances and the message she wished to express. It was appropriate, warm, and fitting for Thanksgiving. Hopefully Gaga will return in future holidays to come with more specials! Perhaps “A Very Gaga Christmas” anyone?