Winter Denial: A Tale of Dry Lips and Disappointment

dr-_lipp_miracle_balm_pd_900x900I was excited when I opened my February Birchbox beyond thrilled to try out the Dr. Lip Miracle Balm. February’s Birchbox focused on lips, which of course is the only type of makeup I’m truly excited about or decently versed in aside from my experience in stage makeup in high school. This Miracle Balm came in an adorable hot pink tube with a cute and curly font.

The balm came in a delicate pink 3 ml tube. The tube is made from a sturdy plastic that makes it difficult to get out. Once it comes out, the angled applicator assists in adding the somewhat glossy balm onto your lips.

The balm is translucent and easy to rub into your lips. It adds a slight shine to your lips that goes away after probably about thirty minutes without eating or drinking anything. It doesn’t have a smell or a taste which is helpful if you have allergies to any kinds of scents or don’t want to spend your day brutally aware that you’re wearing something that is supposed to be hydrating your lips in the cold months of winter.

My sample wasn’t bad. Upon applying the lip balm, it felt like a typical lip balm with a somewhat moisturizing feeling on the lips. It was easy to cover my lips quickly, and even easier to get on with my night of procrastination. Unfortunately, as the night progressed after applying the lip balm, my lips began to dry and soon felt like thin pieces of beef jerky sitting on my face. It honestly felt worse than the dryness I feel on my lips when I put on a face mask in my moments of self care.

So, if you’re looking for a cheap way to hydrate your lips, other parts of your skin, or tame your eyebrows you should probably spend time looking elsewhere, like at your local drugstore… or grab a Carmex tube during your next trip to the grocery store for $1.50. However, if you’re looking for something that smells less intense than that and is hard to get out of the tube then you’ll probably be relatively happy spending the $16.50 for a 15 ml tube of Dr. Lipp Miracle Balm.

If you want to invest in a lip balm, I’d suggest choosing a Burt’s Bees lip balm instead. It is hydrating and can smell how your choose. It’s also approximately $2.00 for a tube and will leave you feeling moisturized and satisfied for the rest of the day.

Dr. Lip Miracle Balm rating: 2 out of 5

Carmex rating: 4 out of 5

Burt’s Bees rating: 5 out of 5

More information or to purchase Dr. Lip Miracle Balm go to:


Quantum Leap and Supernatural Meet Sherlock Holmes

A Review of R.R Virdi’s Grave Beginnings by Casey Hadford

My first thought when reading of Grave Beginnings was, “Why the hell didn’t I think of a plot like this?” I thought to myself. Virdi has managed to create a story of endless potential and the fantasy writer in me would love the opportunity to play with this Urban fantasy. Grave Beginnings follows supernatural detective Vincent Graves, who’s cases begin with him waking up from death in a foreign body. Confused? Let me elaborate. Graves travels from body to body of the recently deceased and his job is to find the supernatural creature that killed the body he inhabits, and eliminate the threat.

Vincent’s job is one of mystery, as each time he wakes he has no clue whose body he is in, and his handler, the mysterious Church, doesn’t give him much to go on, except a time limit on how long he has to solve the case. While Church’s role in the novel could be described as a common fantasy trope, his relationship with Graves and the mystery surrounding him made his presence in the book a welcome one.

Speaking of Church and Graves’ relationship, one of the most enjoyable elements of the book was Vincent’s smartass personality, which offered up several lines of dialogue that had my ribs hurting from laughter. Graves reminded me a lot of Greg House, which is rather fitting because House was based off Sherlock Holmes and Graves is, like Holmes, a detective. The pop-culture references in the novel were tremendous and Graves’ use of creative-cussery was a bright spot. For instance, any book that has the line, “Supernatural douche kitty” should be purchased immediately.

Vincent Graves has been at the job so long he does not remember who he originally was, or what his original name was, and this contributes to his motivation in the novel in a way that gives his character more depth than being a snarky smartass who’s good at his job. I connected with Graves and got the sense that he carries a lot on his shoulders and cares about what he does.

Don’t expect the average monster to pop up in the story; Virdi will keep you guessing what the monster is until the very end. The story had the pace of a thriller with a classic detective noir flare to it. Combine that with monsters and the result is a story I didn’t want to put down start to finish.

For a debut novel, I was mostly amazed with the voice of R.R Virdi’s prose as it was incredibly distinctive. While it had similarities to fellow urban fantasy author Jim Butcher, I feel like I could pick it out of a crowd of writers. There were a couple of spots where things flew by too quickly, but the story was grounded enough that the fast-paced nature of the writing felt like an enjoyable roller coaster ride as opposed to a train ride where you can only pick out details of what passes you by.

Grave Beginnings was a story that I really enjoyed and recommend to anyone who enjoys shows like Supernatural or characters with a snarky sense of humor. I think the story has enough range to appeal to people who don’t normally read urban fantasy or mystery. Overall, this is a fun and fast-paced read and Vincent Graves is a character interesting and funny enough that I would read a story about him standing in line at the DMV.

Book review: Plant Physiology and Development

Plant Physiology and Development

Edited by Lincoln Taiz, Eduardo Zeiger, Ian Max Moller, and Angus Murphy

Sinauer Associates Inc., Sunderland, MA. 2015. 761 pp. ISBN: 978-1-60535-255-8 $140.21 (casebound); ISBN: 978-1-60535-353-1 $88.37 (looseleaf)

Reviewed by Ram Yadav

Plant Physiology and Development is very useful presentation of plant growth and development authored by renowned plant biologists. Lincoln Taiz is Professor Emeritus of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Eduardo Zeiger is Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University of California at Los Angeles. Ian M. Møller is Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University, Denmark. Angus Murphy has been a Professor and Chair of the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland since 2012.

This is the sixth edition of Plant Physiology, now entitled Plant Physiology and Development has revised significantly over the past editions. The book contains 24 chapter that includes all aspects of plant life from germination to senescence. Before the first unit starts, there are two chapters have vast information about cell structure and gene expression which is good start to understand plants and their functions. First unit holds four chapters describing about water and solutes. Basic properties of water and its role in nutrients absorption and solute translocation within the plant is nicely illustrated. Unit second holds seven chapters that covers sun light absorption, and conversion through photosynthesis and energy use in respiration and metabolism. Mechanism of transpiration, nutrient assimilation, and their translocation in phloem is also described in second unit. Biology and ecology of plants is covered in third unit. The chapters on Cell wall structure, signal transduction, seed germination, flowering, seed set and plant’s interaction with biotic and abiotic stress are good enough to understand biology and ecology. At the end of the chapters, web topics are included that provides clear definitions of important terms. Appendix on bioenergetic, plant growth analysis, and hormones and glossary of most used terms defined very clearly.

Since I have taken four courses in plant physiology, I have been reading different books for plant physiology courses. This book contains what you need for most of the undergraduate or postgraduate plant physiology courses. I do believe understanding plants and their function by reading a book without figures and images would be incompetent, hence Plant Physiology and Development ameliorates this flaw by including those figures and images. The figures, illustrated in this book are self-sufficient to understand the complex mechanisms. One other thing that fascinates about this book is that plant functions and mechanisms are described by examples. The book is available in casebound, looseleaf, and eBook formats.

This book contains fundamental concepts for undergrads as well as deep insight for advanced graduate students. In addition, there is companion website for students that provides extra coverage on web topics, web essay, and study questions. For instructors, there is online ‘Instructor’s Resource Library’ that supplies all figure, photos, and tables in electronic format to use in power point presentations. By concluding, I highly recommend this book for undergrads, postgrads, plant physiologists and anyone who aspire to become master in plant biology. The authors put great effort in this book and we should take advantage of it.

Brews So Bad, They Should Be Jailed

Katie Kelly

Sherriff Henry Plummer’s Outlaw Brewing is one of the many breweries that took advantage of the recent, booming interest and desire for brew houses in Montana and added to the saturated market of Bozeman, MT. When the market is packed with options for beer before 8:00PM in a small town it needs to stand out and stand above the competition. However, Outlaw Brewing in turn allows itself to be a stepping stool for neighboring breweries with a lack of atmosphere that matches the culture of Bozeman, generic business model that makes it unmemorable, and brews that strived to be unique and fell short by leaving a bad taste in your mouth. The only redeeming qualities found were the cheery staff offering wonderful customer service and the number of IPAs available for those who have a taste for bitter beer.

Parking at Outlaw Brewing is about as bad as the parking situation at the local college campus. Surprisingly enough there were few spots available at 7:00PM which was only confirmed upon entering the brew house. Walking into the brewery there is the presence of trending music, great lighting, and a lot of tables. While the layout of Outlaw Brewing encourages socialization with large tables and an upstairs for additional seating, the ability to control the volume of the music posed a problem. The music varies from very loud to barely noticeable and at the highest volumes it interfered with the attempt to enjoy the company surrounding you. It’s rustic look definitely plays to the Montana character, but with walls scarcely decorated and the few decorations available were of merchandise it lacked character of its own.

The building itself is very similar to Map Brewing out in the cannery district, except Outlaw doesn’t have a cool water front patio for summer sipping. A solitary pool table sat unused in the upstairs seating, which began to give way to confusion about how the brewery sees itself. Is it a watering hole for the average joe on a Wednesday who gathered with some friends for a pint and a conversation? Or is it a bar serving solely beer here for the simple pleasure of drinking with the possibility of a uneventful game of pool? In comparison to the local competition, there are better places for a beer on Wednesday and better places to drink and play pool.

While the beers available are creative, the selection is difficult to praise otherwise. The menu consisted of several IPAs I cannot speak to, but the selection of ambers, stouts, and ales attempted to add a new twist and fell short. The Goeman’s Gold is reminiscent of cheap beer at a frat party, watery and almost tasteless. The Irish Cream Ale starts off strong and fizzes out leaving regret for ordering it. Perhaps after this review I should have been drinking Outlaw’s Passive Aggressive Pale Ale, but I doubt I’ll be returning after this 2/5 review. Overall, Outlaw is only contributing to the market saturation and would be better off sticking to the canning industry, where those with the acquired taste of Outlaw Brewing can enjoy the craft without the nuisance of the actual establishment.