The title says it all. I’m going to share with you a few songs that remind me of my younger days in chronological order, from age 9 or so when I got my first CD player to age 17 when my music taste actually started to develop to what it is today.

I first got a CD player when I was around nine years old from my friend Kristi and my dad would make me mix CDs with everything from classic rock to Broadway musicals. I would also buy other CDs like Disney soundtracks and Disney artists Hilary Duff. Here is what you would find on my CD player…

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After a while it became a faff to carry around all my CDs and the player itself, so my dad got me an MP3 player not unlike this one. When I wanted to get a song we didn’t own, my dad would check the lyrics (that means I didn’t get to listen to terribly mainstream music until high school) and buy the MP3 file from Walmart. Here is what you would find on thatMP3 player…

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The MP3 player and it’s whopping 1GB storage wasn’t around too long until my dad suggested that I think about getting a music device that would last. With that, 13-year-old me decided to save money to buy an iPod classic 80GB. Including the case, it cost me exactly $266 and I used it most every single day until 2015 at age 20 when I made things more simple and put my music on my phone. For the most part, I don’t listen to these artists regularly (or at all) anymore. There were a handful of other bands that I listened to a few songs regularly, but these bands were ones I listened to the most and in some cases saw live in high school. Here is what you would find on my iPod…

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Did you bop to any of these?

Photo by Surya Urs.


For this wrap-up, I bring you a very special edition of what I’ve been reading.

As a young adult (13/14), I loved the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. But after the first movie came out, I was devastated and kind of came off the series and moved more towards The Hunger Games.

For this post, as it’s a series, I will not be including the author, genre (they’re all fantasy, fiction, young adult) or medium used (I have the books with the first four in paperback and the last one in hardback) and I will not be shy with spoilers.

After all these years, I’ve kept the books and decided to re-read them as an adult nearly ten years later. Here’s how it went…

The Lightning Thief

28187Rating: ★★★★

GoodReads rating:  4.24 / 5

Date started/ finished: 8/2 – 12/2

Summary: Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson discovers the Greek gods are alive and well… and he is the son of Poseidon and the subject of a prophecy that could bring an end to Olympus. When Zeus’s master bolt gets stolen, Percy is the main suspect as the only child of the Big Three (Zeus, Hades, Poseidon). To clear his name, Percy, daughter of Athena Annabeth and satyr Grover go on a quest to retrieve the master bolt. Their quest has them running into all sorts of monsters, gods, and ends in the Underworld where they find Hades’s Helm of darkness has been stolen, too. The thief turned out to be Luke, a spiteful son of Hermes, under the orders of the rising Titan Kronos.

Thoughts: To be honest, the book wasn’t as good as I remember it. I found the pacing a bit preposterous in the first half of the book and the plot was a little unbelievable for a twelve-year-old. I didn’t feel the challenges in this book were appropriate for the age of the characters. I can forgive a certain amount of luck in young adult novels, but this one really pushed it. How am I expected to believe a twelve year old who has only just discovered his powers beats monsters that past heroes like Hercules did without training? For that, I would have given it 3.5 stars, but added an extra half star for nostalgic purposes.

Other adaptations: Where do we begin? First, the cast. I actually approve of making the characters a bit older because, as I mentioned, nobody is believing a twelve year old can defeat such monsters. But if you’re going to make the movie characters older, make the cast the same age as well (the main cast was supposed to be 16 in the first film but the actors were in their early 20s). I know a lot of people made a fuss about Annabeth not being blonde and Grover being black, but it was their performance that really bothered me. Annabeth really flat-lined, I often forgot she was even there. And Grover was a bit too cool for my liking, in the books, he’s painted as nervous and awkward. Luke, Percy’s mom and Gabe were all casted tremendously. All in all, not completely unforgivable. Now, the plot. My biggest bone to pick: why was there no mention of Kronos?! The series is based on the rise of the Titans and was well set up in the book, but without the mention of Kronos in the first film, it’s almost redundant. The omission of Ares was also a big mistake as he was also central to the plot to steal the bolt. There were a lot of other little changes that really added up… In the film, the quest is driven by their search for magic pearls that reveal their path to the Underworld, where in the book, they just make their way from New York to Los Angeles and happily stumble upon monsters along the way. In the film, a lot of the gods are dressed in togas and act all-powerful when in the book, they’re more often described as normal people in normal clothes. I was also really bothered the way they portrayed the Underworld as hell when in the book it was explained that there were different sections of the Underworld depending on how you lived your life. Other small omissions like the Oracle (I know this comes in the second movie but as it’s so important throughout the series, why wait?), Annabeth’s magic Yankee cap, and no character background (nothing on Grover’s quest to find Pan or Annabeth’s mortal family, which do become important in later books) also add up to make this film a complete flop.

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I’ve been trying to incorporate more bookish posts in my blog to encourage myself (and others) to stick with it! I have taken questions from a few different reading tag posts to make my own post.

E-reader or book?

I have a newfound preference for e-reader (portability, doesn’t take up loads of space, saves paper), but I could go for a physical book every now and again.

Bookmark or dog-ear?

Bookmark, who the hell dog-ears?

Hardcover or paperback?

Paperback, but again, I’ll usually go for e-readers anyway.

Reading in silence or reading with noise?

I usually read in silence, although some natural background noise (e.g. on the bus or train) doesn’t bother me. I’ve tried the Ambient Mixer a few times and couldn’t get into it.

Reading one book or multiple books at a time?

I usually have one book I’m reading and one I’m listening to at the gym or while I’m driving.

Do you read the same genres or do you like to explore?

I really enjoy quite a few genres, but my favorites are popular science, historical fiction and thriller. But if a see something that sounds interesting on my GoodReads feed, I’ll consider it.

Reading at night or reading during the day?

Usually at night because that’s my time to wind down.

Which book should be required reading for everyone?

The Ethics of What We Eat or Animal Liberation. Everyone needs to know the horrors of industrial animal farming.

Which genre would you like to explore more?

Classics, biographies and adventure/ travel.

Multitasking: music or television while reading?

I don’t mind having the TV on if it’s something I’m not interested in like American football. Other than that I’d prefer silence.

Read by the chapter or stop anywhere in the book?

Typically by the chapter, but if I’m reading for bed and get really tired all of a sudden, I’ll stop myself.

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

I might speed read a paragraph or two if I feel the scene is dragging.

Do you like audiobooks?

I only listen to them if I’m driving or at the gym. I can’t just sit down and listen, I need something to do with my hands and my eyes or I get bored and distracted.

Do you usually check out books from the library or buy them?

80% library, 20% purchased. Will usually only purchase if there’s a sale or the book I want isn’t available from my library’s e-reader service or the queue is massive.

Do you try to read a certain amount of books during a period of time?

Aside from my GoodReads challenge (25 books last year, 35 this year although I’m on track to read more than that), no.

Do you have a certain place at home for reading? 

Not particularly. My bed, a chair in my room or the couch.

Bookmark or random piece of paper? 

I’ve been using a Glacier National Park bookmark my auntie left in a book she loaned me. But when I can’t find that, I’ll use an old train ticket. Lord knows I’m always finding them at the bottom of my purse.

Do you eat or drink while reading? 

Sometimes a cup of tea, sometimes finger food like popcorn. Recently I haven’t bothered, though.

Reading at home or everywhere? 

Everywhere! Most commonly home but sometimes on the bus/ train/ plane.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new? 

If I buy a book, the first thing I’ll do is break the spine. Sorry about it.

Do you agree with my answers?

Photo by Anthony Tran.


First thing’s first… I got a job! Well, a part-time job. I now work at a movie theater as an usher (tearing tickets and cleaning theaters) about 20 hours a week. It’s nice to have something to do and some money trickling in while I apply for big girl jobs and get my life in order. So far, the work has been easy, my coworkers are pretty sound and the benefits are pretty cool (free movies and snacks).

This month, I also started volunteering at the animal shelter by working at an adoption event at a pet store. I helped set up and mind the dogs for a few hours before I had to go to my real job. The dogs are precious and I’m glad I can give up a few hours of my week to helping this amazing shelter.

This month has also seen some fun events. I saw one of my favorite comedians and celebrity crush Jack Whitehall live at The Laugh Factory. He was one of half a dozen comedians performing that night so he didn’t do a full set, but he was magnificent as always. I was probably one of the few people in there who actually knew what a legend he is with several British sitcoms and Netflix specials under his belt. I was also lucky enough to meet him for a moment afterwards and get a picture! He’s so lovely.


I also made an evening out of seeing Senses Fail live again in downtown Los Angeles. I arrived a bit early to go to The Last Bookstore where I got a few used books and admired the other stock and have dinner at Veggie Grill (I was craving the fish tacos and there’s not one near my house). The show was great and if I’m not mistaken, I was recognized by the lead singer. I crowd surfed and when I was coming over the barricade he pointed at me and then made a comment after the song like, “We’re seeing a lot of familiar faces” and then when I crowd surfed during the next song he waved at me. To be fair, I have been seeing them about once a year since my first show in 2011, met them a few times and have been recognized even by other show goers before, so I wouldn’t be surprised!

After a few years of bring out of practice, I went skiing on Mountain High outside L.A. Long story short, I got in a few good runs before lunch when the rain started and the day was blown out. I got a full 8-hour refund and plan on going back in a few weeks and writing a full post about my outdoor adventures.

Other than that, I spend a lot of time with family and friends. In fact, my cousin, her husband and their four kids ages 2-11 have just arrived two days ago to spend the week with us. Needless to say, they’ve already worn me out.

February In Review 2018 || February In Review 2017

What I’m listening to: Acceptance Speech by Dance Gavin Dance, Vile Child by Milk Teeth, The Blackest Beautiful by letlive., Night Time, My Time by Sky Ferreira, Queen Zee by Queen Zee, Spring by Wallows, Relationship of Command by At the Drive In

What I’m watching: Fyre, Swiss Army Man

What I’m reading: Check out Reading Wrap-Up post #03 for what I’ve read this month.


The story of the cane toad is a story every good ecologist can recite from the top of their heads, popularized by the documentary Cane Toads: an Unnatural History. It is a prime example of species introductions gone horribly wrong.

First thing’s first, what’s the difference between an introduced species and an invasive species like the cane toad? First, a native species is a species that occurs naturally in an area1. An introduced species is a non-native species occurs outside of its natural range caused by human activities, whether its on purpose or accident. There is a lot of debate over whether what period of time can an introduced species that has adapted well can be called native, but that’s for another time2. An introduced species becomes an invasive species when it spreads to a degree that causes damages to the environment, economy, human health or some combination of the three3.

Now that the boring vocabulary lesson is out of the way, what is the story with the cane toad?


Photo by Jodi Rowley.

The cane toad (Rhinella marina) was introduced to northeast Australia in the 1930’s from the Americas with the idea of feeding on the destructive sugar cane beetle population4. However, the toads were unsuccessful at controlling the cane beetle population because the fields offered “insufficient shelter for the predators during the day” and because the beetles resided at the top of the sugar cane which are inaccessible to the toads5.

Moving forward, the cane toads ate most everything (including pet food) except the cane beetles, devastating flora and fauna food resources for native species. In addition to their generalist diet, lack of predators attributed to its toxic skin and quick breeding, the cane toad population exploded in Australia, now with more than 200 million toads4.


The spread of cane toads from 1940 to 1980 (by Froggydarb)

With the population so high and the damage its causing, the cane toad is now considered a pest in Australia and population control methods are being tried and tested. Methods such as trapping, reproductive control6 and humane culling7 have been largely unsuccessful. There is even a bounty on the toad population with events such as Toad Day Out, where toads are caught alive with prizes for the catcher of the heaviest toads before the toads are… taken care of8.

The cane toad is one of the most studied introduced species and is considered one of the most important lessons of species introductions9. It is a cautionary tale that regardless of how much we think we know about these animals and their life histories, they can always surprise us and at the end of the day, humans are not above nature.

Bonus fun facts

  • The cane toad is the world’s largest toad10.
  • The cane toad situation is referenced several episodes of The Simpsons, including “Bart vs. Australia”, “Whacking Day” and “Bart the Mother”

Notes and sources

1 European Union (1979) Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats (Bern Convention). 19.IX.1979. The Council of Europe, Bern, Germany.

2 The honey bee was introduced to the U.S. in the 1600’s, but we don’t really think of it as non-native because it’s been here so long (Garvey, 2008).

3  Joan G. Ehrenfeld (2010), “Ecosystem Consequences of Biological Invasions”, Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics41: 59–80

4 National Geographic, “Cane Toad”

5 Tyler, Michael J. (1976). Frogs. William Collins (Australia).

6 Cane Toads in Oz

7 “Methods for the field euthanasia of cane toads”. Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Energy. 2011.

8 Penny Timms (25 March 2011). “Residents declare war on cane toads”ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 11 April 2011.

9 Easteal, Simon (1981). “The history of introductions of Bufo marinus (Amphibia : Anura); a natural experiment in evolution”. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society16 (16): 93–113

10 Gone Froggin, “10 Largest Frogs and Toads in the World”

Photo by Chris Ison.