Thursday, December 22, 2011

Freecycle Comparative Review: Brooklyn vs. New Hampshire Sea Coast

Brooklyn Freecyle
+ TONS of activity
+ Fun to travel to different neighborhoods
+ People post lots of interesting/weird items
+ Not a lot of "Wanted" emails
- TONS of emails
- No pets
- Carrying 5 grocery bags full of glass dishes on the subway and bus

NH Seacoast Freecycle
+ Fewer emails
+ Pets
+ You get to know certain people who post a lot
+ Lots of farms use it
+ Nice people donating things like turkey dinners at Thanksgiving
- TONS of wanted ads for things like xboxes and bigger tvs
- Some places in NH are unexpectedly far away (New Durham is FAR from Durham)
- Driving 45 min with a huge dresser on top of car is SCARY

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peppermint Oil for Mice Problems

If you have left a vehicle parked in a wooded area for a few days you may have had this problem. For the past year and a half, I have had 4 or 5 separate incidents of mice taking up residence in the car. This problem is obviously so gross and also scary because mice can wreck your car by chewing on the wiring. I also have the eternal fear of one scampering across my foot while driving.

There are lots of ideas for dealing with mice in the car, from playing loud music to placing a scary garden gnome with big eyes near where you park. Obviously you could use traps, but some people (like me) are too squeamish to deal with the aftermath of that. Peppermint oil is a good option because while it is nontoxic to humans, mice are very sensitive to it. Apparently, they won't go near it.  I put some drops of peppermint essential oil (extract doesn't work) on cotton balls and put them around the car. I suspect this would work in say, kitchen drawers, if you have a mice populations in your house. It does not stop them from nesting, but it will keep them away!

In addition to the peppermint oil, I have driven the car more frequently and I don't live in the woods anymore - and I have had no more mouse problems since July.

Monday, December 19, 2011

New England NPR Stations

MPBN - Maine Public Radio for southern Maine transmits south, far into New Hampshire and even the north shore of Massachusetts. Primary station characteristics include opera almost all day on the weekends and classical music during the week days. I used to always catch the funny, strange show The Vinyl Cafe that seems to play Gordon Lightfoot music while the host narrates weird stories sent in my listeners in some version of poetry voice. I also like the show Snap Judgement hosted by Glynn Washington which I've only ever heard on this station.

NHPR - New Hampshire Public Radio does not have the strongest signal where I live now, but has some funny quirks that I appreciate. I love the guy who reads the NH news and station underwriting throughout the day. (A quick search has revealed that this is Dan Colgan and he is the "Voice of New Hampshire.") I also love the segment Something Wild that tells me about things like squirrel survival strategies and moose license plates. One annoying/hilarious thing about this station is that, since it transmits to every single town in the state, the list of stations takes about 5 minutes to read off.
UPDATE: I like NHPR even more because of the transition music they play between segments and under local news/weather updates. This morning at 8:30am it was Nelly's "It's Getting Hot in Here."

WBUR - When the NHPR disappears while driving east (which it quickly does), and MPBN is playing opera again, you can tune into WBUR out of Boston, MA. This station is frankly like another planet to me. They air many local show that I am not familiar with, such as, Only A Game, and others that don't even sound like NPR shows! This can be disconcerting. However, there have been many times while diving south on 95 that I have been able to hear This American Life on WBUR, in its entirety.

In conclusion, I still love the NPR station from my hometown most of all (WUNC).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Comparison: GRE Prep Books

Figuring out how to prepare for the GRE is so overwhelming. There are tutors, courses, online courses, online practice tests, official ETS practice tests, and a huge range of preparation books. When I realized I would have to take the test this summer, I knew I wasn't willing to pay the high price for an actual prep course. I ended up relying on two books and the official ETS practice test online.

My first book was Kaplan. This book contains 2 full practice tests with an additional test online. I found the math sections to lack much actual review of math concepts. I hadn't studied math since high school, and using this book made me feel like I should know much more than I did which made me feel very nervous.
The verbal practice is very challenging in this book. At first, the difficulty really harmed my morale. But all the other verbal practice I did seemed easier in comparison.
The essay strategies in this book are much better than the Baron's book.

I got this book with about a month left before my test because I realized in a moment of panic that I needed more practice! Immediately, I appreciated the encouraging tone of the Baron's book. It explained things in a way that made me feel capable of not failing the test! It includes a pre-test and two full practice tests. There is a quite thorough review of all the types of math on the test.
The essay review is kind of lacking. The verbal was easy throughout the book, and then the practice tests were pretty hard. Ultimately, I thought the practice tests were super hard, and lowered my morale.

I also used the practice test provided on the GRE website. The best resource, I've heard, is the Powerprep program which simulates the real testing software, BUT IT IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH MACS. Therefore, I had to take the practice written test, which was still helpful. It was easier than the practice tests in the two books I used and made me feel much better. Most of my GRE practice was about psychological morale.

Interestingly, both Baron's and Kaplan had more than one mistake in either problems or answers that made me generally suspicious as I was checking answers. I think these books will improve as people get used to the Revised test.

Other free websites I found helpful: Endless Reading Comprehension Practice, Free Practice sets, Magoosh GRE Prep (I found some of the free lessons helpful like for example, the one on exponent rules.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Patisserie des Ambassades

In March, one of my friends invited me to use Yelp for the first time.  I didn't then, but since moving back to New York City, I've decided to get back on the review bandwagon and start using it.  I'll be posting those reviews over here, too.  Who knows? Maybe soon I'll be reviewing Yelp! 

Patisserie des Ambassades - 2200 8th Avenue
We stopped in here for a quick dessert after hearing rave reviews about their bread and crème brûlée.  We ordered the crème brûlée and an eclair au café.  I'd thought the eclair would have only cream filling, but it seemed to have lemon curds, so a personal bias against citrus kept me from really loving that.  However, the crème brûlée was absolutely out of this world - some of the best I've ever had.  We had it for take-away, and at $3.50, I would get more again in a heartbeat.

While we didn't sit down, the seating seemed fine, especially the outdoor seating, and the counter service was fast and friendly.  Since it has Senegalese dishes also, I'm looking forward to going again and trying some of their more substantial food.