Articles by " Adam"
23 Jun
2017

June 23rd, 2017! Take Your Dog To Work Day!

On March 4th, 2017, my wife and I went to Virginia, 5 hours from home (we drove there and back in a day, it was somewhat fun), and picked up the world's literal cutest creature.  Her name is Clover, she is an English Setter, and she is perfect.

Perfection.

She is also a pretty frequent visitor to Kards Unlimited. Thankfully, we don't need a special day for our dogs to come to work.  However!  Take Your Dog to Work Day is still pretty exciting, because dogs are the best and we love them a lot.

Omg her little face.

SO!  Here's what I propose.  On Friday, June 23, 2017 (Bring Your Dog to Work Day is always the Friday after Father's Day), take your dog to work!  Assuming your work is cool and not the worst, that is.  BUT!  After (or before or during or whatever) you do that, bring your dog to MY work so I can play with it.  I know, I know, your dog isn't as cute as Clover.  It's okay.  I mean, look at her.

Yeah, she's amazing.  It's cool.  I'm sure your dog is also cute.  Most dogs are.  So, anyway, bring your dogs to KU on Bring Your Dog to (My) Work Day, please and thank you!

Here are some more pictures of Clover!

This is very interesting grass, you guys.

We call it Resting Mope Face. She may look distraught in this picture, but it's really just her face. That's just how she looks.

Here's the opposite of Resting Mope Face.

 

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14 Jun
2017

KU Book Club!

Jasper Fforde is one of my favorite authors!

We had a lot of fun at Sunday's book club meeting! Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair was the perfect book to start off the summer with!  Intrigue, danger, action, adventure, even a tiny bit of romance, that book had everything!  And it's the first of a series, so if you loved The Eyre Affair, KU has the whole series available, and they could easily eat up your summer, so be careful!

It was a ton of fun to meet a few new members also!  Some of us have been in the book club since the very beginning, so it's super exciting to have a new face now and again.  We love to make new book-loving friends!

Excited to take a chance on Hunter S Thompson!

We'll be meeting again on August 6th at 6 p.m. at Kards Unlimited!  Our discussion will be about Hunter S Thompson's Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas!

Fear & Loathing IS a novel (there was a bit of discussion about that, I thought it was non-fiction), a roman à clef to be exact.  So really we were all right.  It's fiction, but it's real life that was fictionalized.

Whether you're already a big fan of Thompson, you've never read him, or even if you've read his work and dislike it, we'll be excited to hear all about what you think at the KU Book Club! Come talk books and drink drinks and have snacks with us!

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27 Apr
2017

Guys. The Gods are coming.

This is Mr. Wednesday. He's my hero.

Ok.  So here's the thing about Kards Unlimited.  We. Love. Neil Gaiman.  Like a lot.  I know I've said this before, and I know you know it, so I won't wax too verbose about how much we love Neil Gaiman. Suffice it to say that his books have had a great influence on most of the employees of the store and that when people need help picking a book we recommend his books 9 out of 10 times (or more.)

Shadow and Mad Sweeney's fight. OMG you guys, read this book.

Coming in the wake of the many successful TV adaptations of awesome fantastical novels in recent years, American Gods the series premieres on Starz on April 30th at 9 p.m. and we could not possibly be more excited.  Here's a link to the trailer.  It's amazing.

Just to give you a little bit of spoiler-free background information, American Gods is the story of how all the various gods that people brought to America from their home countries need to band together to stop themselves from being eradicated by the new gods of America like the internet and TV and stuff.  Neil Gaiman tells it a lot better than I do.  And I have high hopes for how the series will handle his source material.  This show seems especially relevant given the current climate of intolerance and xenophobia going around.  The book doesn't necessarily deal with those themes, but it does feature an America that celebrates its diversity.  The America Gaiman portrays is a country unashamedly built of millions of different people and their stories.  It's a place we should try to remember and to inhabit.

Anyway, we at KU are intensely excited for this show, so if you are too, don't hesitate to come in and share your excitement with us!  The more screaming the better!  And check out our awesome countdown timer on the sidebar to find out exactly how long you have to wait for the first episode!

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22 Apr
2017

It’s April 23rd, which means it’s Talk Like Shakespeare Day again!

Talk Like Shakespeare Day cards! Yes! Get them!

Forsooth! Today is Talk Like Shakespeare Day!
The best of all the days throughout the year!
When all of us who love the Bard will say
"To be, or not to be?" in voices clear!
The works of William Shakespeare we shall read
and gaily plays and poems shall recite;
until the words ring loudly in our heads
and people speak in iambs day and night.
Of other days may other poets sing,
I'll keep my words for April twenty-third.
For truly, William Shakespeare is the king
of all the English language, says this nerd.
If you be not a faithful fan of his,
Then kindly up a rope please take a whiz!

In all seriousness, though, April 23rd is Talk Like Shakespeare Day.  It's because he was born (probably) and died on April 23rd. Same day, different years, obviously.  I don't feel the need to tell you any more facts about Shakespeare, as he is probably the most well-known writer the English language has yet produced and if you're that interested in learning more about him, you can read his Wikipedia page.  Fascinating stuff, actually.

What I am going to do is post a picture and a video which are both amazing and Shakespeare related, and leave it at that.

 

Possible best post on Tumblr

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27 Mar
2017

If you give a mouse a cookie, that’s cool, but giving him a sword is better.

"While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise and Peepiceek will be head of the talking mice in Narnia." - Reepicheep, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Ok, so here's the thing about giving swords to mice.  It's the freaking best.  While the symbolism of the swordsmouse probably goes without saying, let me at least say that one of the reasons swordsmice are awesome is that they remind us never to be daunted by long odds and to always persist in the face of adversity (two lessons that are becoming increasingly important).

In the case of Reepicheep, a well-known character from C.S. Lewis's Narnia and my very favorite swordsmouse, the lessons about being fierce despite small size are still there, but they're slightly overshadowed by the main thrust (no pun intended) of the character, which is that you should be a total and complete badass in every and all situations, no exceptions. Full stop.

Reepicheep's whole thing is that he might be the tiniest bit insecure about being, you know, a mouse, so he way, super overcompensates by being really into fighting everyone who even slightly annoys him in any capacity.  Now. On the surface, does this seem like really not an admirable quality?  Yes.  But!  Reepicheep completely makes up for this egregious old-timey bellicosity by being extremely noble, chivalrous, and basically just a big, damn hero.

This is a fanmade piece of art depicting Reepicheep and Matthias in a sword fight. Visit the artist's DeviantArt page, here!

Another great swordsmouse is Matthias, the main character of Brian Jacques's Redwall.  Matthias is a classic unlikely hero and really, who doesn't love that?  Matthias is opposite of Reepicheep in most ways. He's a peace-loving mouse who pretty much just loves working at Redwall Abbey and is portrayed as a bit of a bungler at first.  But he rises in defense of his home and his loved ones when the Abbey is threatened.  Without spoiling the book for you, I'll tell you that Matthias's transformation from hapless pastoral duffer to mighty swordsmouse is exactly what you need to read if you feel helpless.

Narnia and Redwall are very, very different from one another, but aside from swordsmice and being written by Brits, what they have in common is the deep-rooted theme that good will defeat evil as long as heroes have the will to persevere.

 

This should probably be the KU motto. It's definitely one of mine and is a perfect depiction of the best of what swordsmice represent.

Basically what I'm trying to say, you guys, is this: Swordsmice are one of the greatest things ever given to us by literature.  They remind us that valor, bravery, and physical prowess are not the domain only of the large and strong. They teach us not to be afraid to pick a fight, if we feel threatened.  They show us that you can be peaceful and still protect those you love.  These are important things for every child to learn, which is why swordsmice are mostly found in books for children and young adults, but I have found myself needing reminders lately. If you do, too, these books, and others like them, are the places to find them.

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21 Mar
2017

And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul!

March 21st is International Day of Forests, which has honestly got to be one of the best and most important days ever implemented by the U.N. Here's a link to the Wiki article, if you're interested in the boring technical stuff that they do.

I want to go to here.

Forests are amazing.  I have loved them since I was a kid, exploring what I perceived as the rugged wilderness of my grandparents' suburban backyards.  And while I grew to understand that the small stretch of woods between properties in Hampton Township did not constitute a forest, I have yet to outgrow my awe of, connection to, or love of, wooded areas.

Mmm, tropical rainforest. Yes, please.

Did you know that 80% of Earth's terrestrial biodiversity is found in forests?  And that while tropical rainforests cover only 10% of the Earth's surface, more than half of all terrestrial species are thought to live there?  And don't be fooled by the phrase "thought to" in that sentence.  Half is probably a significant underestimate, since new species are being discovered all the time, and many of the rainforests throughout the world remain largely unexplored.

Temperate Rainforests are totally rad, you guys.

Also! When people hear the word rainforest, they usually think of the jungles of the tropics, but did you know that there are rainforests right here in the USA?! On the West Coast of the USA and Canada is what's known as a temperate rainforest, stretching from Kodiak Island in Alaska to Northern California.  Temperate rainforests are also found on the southern tip of South America, in Australia, Northwestern Europe, and Northeastern Asia.

Though most people think of leopards as coming only from warm climates like the African Savannah, the Amur Leopard is native to a region of Siberia that boasts extermely harsh winters.

Probably the coolest forest, though, is the taiga.  Taiga refers to the biome found just below the tundra at the Earth's north pole.  There's not really southern taiga because Antarctica is surrounded by oceans, but the Arctic region is surrounded on a few sides by North America and Asia, and the land below the Arctic Circle is home to the taiga. Taiga is characterized by thick forests of evergreen, mostly coniferous trees, and weather patterns that can most easily be described as tundra-lite.  Winters are long and severe, summers short and mild.  Despite the harsh living conditions, though, the taiga is still home to plenty of awesome plants and animals.  The Asian taiga is home to the Siberian Tiger and the Amur Leopard, two of the rarest big cats in the world.  The taiga also contains approximately one third of all the trees in the entire world, and produces about one quarter of the oxygen we breathe.

"Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green, deep woods." - John Muir

Basically what I'm saying, people, is that forests are totally amazing and are probably the best thing on this entire planet of Earth.  With the way things are going, it's likely that the entire concept of forests is going to radically be changing in the next 50 years or so, so take the opportunity now to experience forests as they are, and maybe participate in some of the ways that people are trying to preserve and protect them.

Here's another one of the taiga, because it's awesome.

You can learn more about the United Nations' Day of Forests efforts here.

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9 Mar
2017

I know you think you have a favorite instrument, but you’re probably wrong.

Well, it's that time of the year again. March 10th marks International Bagpipes Day!  I know most of us are (obviously) great bagpipe lovers already, but for anyone out there who has ever thought, "Wow, bagpipes are totally amazing, but I wish I knew more about them!" this post is for you.

The Pittsburgh Firefighters Memorial Pipe Band at a competition! (My dad isn't not in this photo...)

Let's start with some basic bagpipe facts.

Piper Bill Millin, badass extraordinaire of WWII

  • Bagpipes were invented in the Near/Middle East, evidence suggests some time before the Roman era.  The exact timeline is unknown, but references to bagpipes and bagpipers are made in ancient Greek plays and Roman writings. There are sporadic mentions of the instrument in earlier texts.
  • Although the Great Highland Bagpipe of Scotland is the most widely known bagpipe in the English-speaking world, bagpipes are actually fairly common across all Indo-European countries, with most every region sporting several examples.  In addition to the Great Highland Bagpipe, pipes from the British Isles include the Scottish Smallpipes, the Border Pipes, the Irish Uilleann Pipes, and others. In Europe, instruments include the zampogna of Italy, the biniou of France, and the Dudelsack (yes, really) of Germany.  There are also bagpipes indigenous to India, Iran, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Poland, Norway, Sweden, and pretty much every other European country you know.
  • Bagpipes were used on the battlefields of Scotland and England as early as the 16th century.  Bagpipes were used in a manner similar to the use of the bugle by the cavalries of Westerns, with different types of tunes to denote marching to battle, retreating, reveille, etc. The commonly known music of the Great Highland Bagpipes today comes mostly from the tradition of martial music; bagpipe competitions strongly emphasize marches specifically.
  • Gratuitously sexy bagpiper? Don't mind if I do!

    While different types of bagpipe vary greatly in their tones, the instruments have an underlying unity to their sound, which is due to the way they are played.  Almost all bagpipes consist of a chanter, which plays the melody, and at least one drone pipe, which plays a single note in the background (hence the name). The piper fills the bag with air, either blown in by mouth or pumped in by a bellows, and then squeezes the bag, which forces the air through reeds in the pipes, which produces the notes of the instrument.

    From Wikipedia (because I tried to say this as concisely and failed): "The chanter is usually open-ended, so there is no easy way for the player to stop the pipe from sounding. Thus most bagpipes share a constant, legato sound where there are no rests in the music. Primarily because of this inability to stop playing, technical movements are used to break up notes and to create the illusion of articulation and accents. Because of their importance, these embellishments (or 'ornaments') are often highly technical systems specific to each bagpipe, and take many years of study to master."

  • Bill Millin, personal piper to Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat, piped British soldiers ashore at Normandy like a total badass.  After the battle he asked some captured German snipers why they hadn't shot him and they told him it was because they thought he had gone insane.  What other instrument has a story like that?! None other.

That's about enough of the educational stuff!  Here are some bagpipes for you to listen to!  Enjoy!

Pipe Major Brian Donaldson and Willie MacCallum, two of the best pipers living (and two of the nicest people you'd ever hope to meet!)

The late Pipe Major Alasdair Gillies, last Pipe Major of the Queen's Own Highlanders, and possibly the greatest piper of the 20th Century.  (Also a fantastic person.)

Here's some Italian bagpipes!  Wtf?!

Russian Bagpipes!  Ah!

That's all from your favorite bagpipe lover for today!  Haste ye back! <3

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20 Feb
2017

Find Someone to Love You Unconditionally on National Love Your Pet Day!

February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day!  Aka the best and most beautiful day of the year!  We love pets.  They are cuddly and adorable and the actual best.  Pet ownership has been scientifically proven* to make your life better.  Taking care of a creature other than yourself not only imparts responsibility and makes you a less narcissistic crazypants, but it is also the essential ingredient for a perfect meet-cute.  Basically what I'm trying to say is that you should have a pet.  Because if you don't have a pet, you will get pregnant.  And die.

Nevermind that, though!  Let's look at pictures of the various and sundry pets of Kards Unlimited!

Pennyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Speck is so amazing and majestic.

 

Ate and Ursula! Cuddling kittens of DOOM!

Baby Ursula was the best Ursula.

 

Oh Watson. You goofball.

 

Ha, Sipper. Too cute. Look at her little crossed eyes.

This is Rick. She clearly takes after her owner Dale

And this is Clover! I love her so much and I haven't even met her yet!

*I don't really think that science has proven anything of the kind, but it sounds reasonable.  Pets are the best.  Just trust me.
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