dear diary

iPhone case Handy Armor

I recently got a clear case for my iPhone 6 (at a discount in return for my honest review). So here's the review...

It fits great, and it's slim. I haven't dropped the phone yet since I got it, so not sure how well it protects, but probably comparable to most cases. I really like the unusual feature that it has little flaps to fit into the charging port and the aux to prevent the dust getting into them.

Now I never had a clear case before, and it's a little bit boring... I guess if you really really like the color of your iPhone, it would be good. Otherwise it's a bit plain. I'm thinking of putting some stickers on it, since the case is flat (unlike my previous one which was textured). Additionally, dust gets under the case, and it's very noticeable. I guess stickers would help with that too, but also will serve as a reminder to clean it every now and then. I still haven't been able to make it totally clean. Each time I put it on, I see dust particles...
dear diary

Anna Karenina

I watched this new movie today. I wanted to see it in theaters, but it was a limited release, and local theaters didn't have it. It was wonderful. At first I didn't really care for the way it was filmed; they were trying too hard to be creative/artistic... But the story-telling, and the acting were really good. I liked the feel of the movie, I liked the Russian in the background, and I'm not just talking about songs, but also crowds like at the train station or market... I liked the costumes, although I didn't pay too much attention to that while I was watching.

Here's the thing... I cried, a couple of times. But not for Anna. It was all about Karenin for me. That is love, not what Anna and Count Vronsky had. Karenin who was defending Anna in front of others, who was giving her the benefit of doubt as long as possible, who warned her about consequences, who forgave Anna and Vronsky when she begged forgiveness, who let her go rather than forcing her to remain when it was clear she would be unhappy, and who in the finale is taking care of the child that she and Vronsky had. I didn't expect that. I mean the story isn't titled Alexei Karenin, but Anna Karenina, and Karenin really isn't so very prominent in it (in terms of the amount of time we see him), but it turns out he is.
dear diary

(no subject)

I'm struggling trying to take control over my point-and-shoot camera, because it has no manual mode, not even shutter-speed-priority or aperture-priority modes, so that I have to figure out which of the functions would be helpful in certain situations rather than having direct control over the settings... I've decided to read the manual cover-to-cover now, and have put it on my Kindle.

Now people do say that it's not your gear; having better equipment won't necessarily improve your photography. That you can shoot great with anything at your disposal if you just know how to use it, etc. And before you get a different camera, you should understand how exactly it will help. Right: I still don't fully know my point-and-shoot, and it is possible I'm overlooking useful stuff that's hidden. But on the other hand I can visualize how having control over aperture can help with the depth-of-field (blurring background or foreground, especially in portraits) or with the starburst effect on the light sources, and the control over shutter speed can help with the night shots (I so wish to capture the trailing lights), or flowing water.

I've come across this great camera giveaway, and entered. (I bet I don't win ;P)*

Big thanks to the SnapKnot wedding photography directory for offering this great camera giveaway!

* If I win, awesome; if I don't win, I at least win the bet!
dear diary


I don't even know ... I just got a package in the mail. This was something I ordered exactly a month ago, and had already contacted the seller about the item being lost in the mail, and received a replacement.

I ordered a travel power plug adapter for my trip to Italy. This was even typed on the package itself. What I got was a torn package, with two wheel bearings (look approximately like this) in it. I didn't know what they were, I had to look it up by part # (6204-2RD-QE6)... What am I now supposed to do with them? (All I can think of is "photo op".) And there's someone out there, who is missing their bearings, and maybe has my adapter instead... wish we could exchange, hehe, makes me wonder if there's some sort of "lost and found in the mail" forum thing.
  • Current Mood
    confused confused
dear diary

Credit cards

EDIT: I found some things I got wrong -- option two has a "quarterly limitation" on gas and grocery purchases which wasn't specified... option one actually has $250 sign up bonus not $100 as I thought.END EDIT.

Okay, I've decided it's time for me to get a credit card. I think I have a good credit, though I haven't checked it lately... I'm getting some offers in the mail. I've sort of narrowed it down to two, but I'm getting confused at this point.

1) American Express Blue Cash Everyday

This one offers 3% cashback at supermarkets (but superstores like Wal-Mart aren't included, so it's very confusing at to which stores this would apply at); 2% at grocery stores and gas; and 1% everywhere else. Plus $100 bonus if you spend $1,000 in the first three months. No annual fee.

2) Bank of America Cash Rewards

This one offers 3% on gas, 2% on groceries, and 1% everywhere else. Plus $100 bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months. No annual fee.

To me it sounds like choice 2 is better. It's the same rewards for grocery shopping, and larger cashback on gas... whereas it's very uncertain what 3% would apply to using Blue Cash Everyday. Plus I only need to spend $500 to get the (same) bonus vs. $1,000. Plus choice 1 is an American Express, which is not everywhere accepted. But online reviews rave about Blue Cash, and downplay Bank of America... Why?

*Other choices to consider - Amazon Rewards card (basically 3% on purchases, 2% on gas station, restaurant, drugstore and office supply store purchases, and 1% on everything else)
dear diary

Russian winter holiday traditions

I was trying to do research online to find a Russian movie without which no holiday is complete (we had a copy, but we no longer can watch it because it's in the European format and we no longer have a converter). And I came across this article, which is perfect, haha.

Top Ten Traditions No Winter Holiday in Russia Goes without
All of them are on target, but just to highlight a couple:

1. Christmas Tree - absolutely! It bugs the heck out of me that people here bring the trees in the house soooo much in advance and throw them out immediately after Christmas. We got it just a little bit in advance, but kept them up for as long as possible, and that note about the pine smell struck a cord with me too.

4. That's the movie I was looking for :) There are NTSC versions on DVD, which have English subtitles, and Dan was really excited about that: finally he'd get to understand everything. Although he was saying he understood more or less because the acting is so good, and you can see the story, what's happening.

5. Haha, yep and we still do research every year what we're supposed to wear. Too bad we don't get any of the Russian magazines with tips ;)

10. The "Old" New Year. That's one holiday we no longer pay that much attention too, but it was definitely the thing to do. I kind of miss celebrating it.
dear diary

Writer's Block: Time after time

If you fall in love with a book or movie, do you tend to watch/read it again and again? If so, what's your upper limit on repeats?

Absolutely. Definitely with the books, since sometimes as I change I find something new in them, and because I tend to forget the details, although I may remember the general plot. Movies less so, but I can also watch them over and over, especially if they have good music in them... I still like "Singing in the Rain" for instance, and there's this traditional New Year's Russian movie that is pretty much a standard TV show every year (I guess like "A Christmas Story" for the Americans). There are a few others, like "Paycheck" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith", which I already know what happens, but it doesn't matter, I still enjoy them.

Usually, it's not the matter of an "upper limit". Instead, it's the frequency. Usually, I'll revisit those favorites when I've forgotten the details, so it's sort of rediscovering anew.
dear diary


I'm so not ready for Thanksgiving... However I'm thankful that I have a day off on Thanksgiving Day. And for these other things:

* V-gift from Secret Bunneh
* Having a job
* My faith and a whole bunch of things connected with it
* My family
dear diary


Recently I took up crochet again, but this time instead of doing pretty but useless doilies, I'd like something with a purpose. I found this summery outfit, which is just soo pretty. It looks a little complicated, and a bit repetitive, so that I'm sure I'll find it hard to not get bored. Except that looking at this photo, I see the final destination and I want to have it. ;)

dear diary

Combination locks

I bought the cheapest available lock at Walmart. When it works, it works, but lately I've been having a problem that it doesn't actually lock. I was wondering if I'm doing something wrong, so I've been looking for some guides.

"To close the lock, press the shackle back into the hole near the top of the lock. It doesn't matter what number the arrow notch is pointing toward to close the lock." Yup, that's what I do. But then I try to check if it's locked and pull on it -- it's not locked.

Anyone had similar experience?