The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

February 22nd, 2015


finished 02.16.15

I finished this book while laying by the pool, or maybe it was the beach, on our trip to Mexico. Great page turner. Thanks for the recommendation, Anandi!

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Feliz Cumpleaños, Kristin!

February 21st, 2015

Over Valentines/President’s Day weekend I went to the BlueBay Grand Esmeralda in Mexico with Kristin, Jen, and Allison to celebrate Kristin’s birthday. It was a big one! 21 is big, right? I can’t tell you we did much, as far as activities go, but I had a great time relaxing and soaking in the tropical sun rays. I experienced Montezuma’s Revenge for much of the trip, but still had a good time. I don’t think I’ve gone on a girls trip….. ever? And it was so good to see Allison, who we miss so much and haven’t seen for a couple years!

My first drink in Mexico: Margarita. And much deserved after a looooong travel day! My cab had arrived in the morning at 3 a.m.! Also, we get really spoiled in Chicago with direct flights everywhere. I had to stop over in Miami, which had no complications, but did add several hours on to my travel time. When I arrived in Cancun, I waited for Jen and Kristin to arrive and then we had to find our driver and then we had to go 45 minutes south, and then we had to check in and then go the kilometer from our lobby to our room (literally a kilometer away!) and then …… yeh…. finally…. a drink and a rest.

Next up? A rest by the pool. The main pool area was a very short walk from our rooms and was actually two pools. There was one other pool up by the lobby. .. but it was literally a kilometer away. Speaking of which… this was the biggest resort as far as real estate that I’ve ever stayed on. Very big and spread out. To get over it they had a bunch of golf carts that did circuits around the property. You could jump on any cart and it would take you wherever you needed to go. There were designated spots to wait, like bus stops, and you just catch the next one that comes by. Very efficient. Or .. you could walk. If you’re into that. We were trying to minimize any form of exercise!

As far as food goes, everything as included. And all the drinks too. Anything you wanted! For breakfast and lunch, there were certain restaurants on the property that had buffets set up. For dinner there was an “International Buffet” that did not require a reservation, but all of the other restaurants did. You reserved a day in advance and could pick from many options – Seafood, Steak, “Oriental,” French, Mexican (of course), etc. On the first day, we arrived in the afternoon and there weren’t many dinner options left so they talked us into this dinner show. The food was actually really good, as it was every night of our stay, and though we thought we were not going to be interested in the show at all, when it came on we could not look away. So much energetic and non-stop traditional Mexican music and dancing, with crazy costumes to match.

This mysterious creature is a coati. Coatis, plural for more than one. I saw some on the first day of the trip and every day after that. At first I called them “those weird lemur things” but thanks Drunk Girl #1 for looking that shit up on Wikipedia and letting everyone know that they’re called Coatis. Not coitus, but coatis.

On our first full day at the resort we had appointment for morning massages. This was probably the best massage I ever had in my whole life. So nice. And then we got to stay in the spa area with their private pool and hang out all day, which was fantastic because there were not very many people in there and it was very tranquil.

Jen visited an all-inclusive resort last year and so she was the experienced one who turned us on to The Bubba. The drinks at the pool and the beach and really all over the resort were all included. With the exception of dinner, where you’d get a proper wine glass or whatver, the drinks were all served in small plastic glasses. Enter: The Bubba. For one, it’s a larger serving. Everyone on the resort was more than happy to fill that whole dang thing full of pina colada or beer or our new favorite drink: Mango Tango. And by the way, the booze options were endless, but if you wanted beer, there was just one choice: Beer. I have no idea what it was, but it was not good. The only good thing about the beer is that there’s no water or ice in it (and my tummy was not good for some of the time!). Another good thing about The Bubba is that it keeps your drink cold. Whenever I got a drink in the plastic cup it would melt very quickly. Finally, The Bubba keeps the sand out of your drink, which was very important one day when we were on the beach and it was really windy. Regarding the name: The Bubba. That’s what it literally says on the cup. I don’t know where this brand came from or why it’s popular on the Mexican all-inclusive resorts.

Some days we switched it up and laid out on the beach instead of the pool. CRAY-ZAY!!!!

There was a bar near the beach that had swings instead of barstools.

One day it was really windy on the beach so Allison and I ditched it and headed into Playa del Carmen, which was about a 20 minute cab ride away. We walked around Quinta Avineda, a cute street with lots of foot traffic, but no car traffic. There were a ton of shops and bars and restaurants. We stopped in one called Las Delicias to sit for a bit, have a drink and a snack. Cute place. One weird thing was that when we were first seated a guy took a photo of us and then when we were paying the bill he brought out a bottle of tequila with our photo pasted on it and tried to sell it to us as a souvenir. WEIRD! And, yes, I did get Makai a Mexican wrestling mask!

This was the “Oriental Restaurant.” We had to call it that. I don’t think they know what “Asian Restaurant” meant! The restaurant was situated poolside and was all open air. As you can see, it was gorgeous.

We were away for Valentine’s Day. Allison and I were splitting a room and somehow got upgraded to a suite. It was nice and one of us took the bed and one the pullout. They made the bed really romantic on Valentine’s day, complete with fresh rose petals. Maybe they thought we were a couple. I was missing my Valentine, so I sat on this guy’s lap and told him he was my Valentine.

Jen and Kristin taught us how to play this card game called Shithead. We played a lot in the evenings. We played in our suite, on Jen and Kristin’s patio that overlooked the beach, and we played here:

Black and White was the name of the 24-hour sports bar on the resort. It had a huge, creepy black and white cat behind the bar. See you in my nightmares, black and white cat! Also, can you image how sloppy a 24-hour bar at an all-you-can-drink resort gets?

Because all you can eat and drink in the bars and restaurants isn’t enough, each day we had a mini fridge that was filled with soda and a few beers and two very large bottles of water. The beer was called Superior. It was slightly better than the beer served everywhere else on the resort.

Us at the fancy Mexican restaurant.

My new hat!

Mexican Diet Coke = Coca Cola Light

I think these are hurricane evacuation instructions.

Last glimpse of warmth, then off to the airport…..

…. where I had breakfast at the same place where I had breakfast last time I was leaving Cancun.

Back to reality.

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Upgrading to the iPhone 6

February 18th, 2015

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In 2009, Dallas bought me my first smart phone for my birthday: the iPhone 3GS. In 2012, he upgraded me to the iPhone 5, again, for my birthday. About a month or so, he did it again. My birthday/Christmas gift was the iPhone 6. The reason for the delay was because I didn’t know if I really wanted it. Nothing was really wrong with my iPhone 5…. nothing except I was a few versions behind and it made me feel a little behind, given that we design and produce cutting edge applications at work. I didn’t want to get too far behind and left in the dust!

I’d been doing some testing for work on a Nexus 5 and the screen was about the same size as the iPhone 6, so I thought I was ready to take the plunge. But when I got the 6, is when I realized, testing didn’t involve trying to text or do anything while holding a baby in one hand! The size of the phone is quite a bit bigger and does make things difficult, what with my small lady hands, at times. I got the phone on a Friday over lunch and had about one weekend of regret. I traded in my iPhone 5 (they gave me $104 for it) so there was no turning back. It wasn’t long before I got used to it.

Now, I think the benefits outweigh the size disadvantages. After about two years of not actually reading a book, only listening on audio, I have now already completed reading three books on my new phone. I also really love the touch id feature. No more having to type in a code every time to unlock my phone. I just hold my finger or thumb on it for a second and boom. Love it. Apple Pay has also been cool to play with. I say “play” because the only place I’ve ever used it was at Walgreen’s. It would be nice if it was more widely accepted… maybe some day.

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