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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Another 600 Mile Weekend

Don't the Bakers ever stay home? Apparently not.

We hit the road once again heading east to Saratoga Springs for Cam's first race with RIT. The weather forecast was for snow, a byproduct of the huge October nor'easter hitting New England, but LUCKILY, all we got was a really, really cold day. I say luckily, but after three hours in 38 degree temps I could hardly move my body to walk.

Anyway, Mark and I left around 8:30am for our trek across the state. Annalisse stayed home as she is "so over" regattas and had bigger fish to fry - the main plan of which included hanging with her cousin Nic and going to see the supposedly extremely scary Paranormal Activity 3. We got to the regatta around 1pm and checked in with Cam, then walked around a bit and wasted time until his 3pm "launch," which, as it turned out, probably occurred around 3:45 because he didn't reach the finish marker until 4pm. My plan was to be on the road for a quick visit to Massena for by 4pm since it is a 3:45 minute drive from Saratoga. So, after he finished and was heading back to the dock we headed to the car - FROZEN - and drove through the dark, deserted, cell phone dead zone Adirondack Park in the dark. That was fun. Not. 

Can you tell my cranky mood from earlier in the week persists?

We reached Massena around 8, I took a quick shower, then headed out to meet some friends for dinner. By the time we crashed, we were exhausted. That was a lot of driving. 

After a quick trip to see my mother and sister (and kitten, Riley - so cute!) in the morning we zipped out to my other sisters, dropped off some stuff, and headed back to the Roc. AND HERE COMES THE BEST PART!

I got a speeding ticket after I left my sisters! Mark was closing his eyes so it was my turn to drive. Obviously a bad mistake. The trooper, who was a really nice guy, reduced my ticket to a lesser charge so it won't make an impact on my driving record, but still...

For those of you keeping track, this is my second speeding ticket (luckily both were reduced) since August 2010. I'm serious when I say I'm usually pretty good about using my cruise control and obeying the speed limits. That's why it's so frustrating that when I do zone out once in a while, and am not paying attention which obviously leads to my foot getting heavier. 

Perhaps this week will be better? At least we have Halloween to look forward to.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What It Must Be Like To Be a Trucker

My travel season as a "road warrior" concluded today with a trip down to Elmira College. Altogether I attended six fairs this season, and my colleague Tonya did probably 8 or 10...I lose track. Even though I didn't travel too much for recruitment this fall, when I did travel I sure felt wiped out by the end of the day because of all that driving.

Which leads me to believe I could never have a career as a long distance trucker. It was all I could do to stay awake and engaged on the way to Elmira (approx. 2 1/2 hours each way), even with Evita blasting. On the way back it was Jesus Christ Superstar, with white knuckles all the way because of the really bad rainy/snowy rain conditions. I cannot imagine how truckers do it, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, year after year.

Which reminds me of that time in the mid- to late-70s when CB radios were all the rage. I remember my Nonnie saying they were just a fad and would never last. I was sure she was wrong...it turns out she was right. I still remember some of my familie's "handles": I was Animal Cracker, my Uncle Duff was Porkchop, Auntie was "Sweet Caroline. I know we all had one, but I'll be darned if I can remember them now. I remember sitting in the car with friends talking to "truckers," who were probably just other townspeople caught up in the craze. Thanks to the Internet, you can brush up on your trucker slang, and see CW McCall's Convoy video one more time. 10-4 Good Buddy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Foul, Foul Tuesday

It started on Monday, and is building to Tuesday - my foul, foul mood.

Maybe it's because I didn't get my nap this weekend. Perhaps it's the cold, gray October sky, or the spitting snow forcasted this week. Maybe it's the grind of my job. One thing I know it is: we are heading to Saratoga for Cam's regatta this Saturday and it's supposed to be 45 and rainy/snowy. Another thing I know is: he won't wear his boots or heavy water-proof clothing because he's a teenage boy. Let the worrying begin.

I'd better treat myself to Panera today or it's not going to be pretty.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekend in the Windy City

I do believe Chicago is becoming one of my favorite cities. Not that I've spent a lot of time in really big cities, but how cool it is!

I headed out early on Friday morning so my friend Kristen and I could meet up and go to Jackson Park, site of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Luckily both flights came in on time, with just one minor glitch: some guy threw up on Kristen on the plane. Y-U-C-K!  Poor girl.

After we each checked into our respective rooms at the uber-luxurious Conrad Hotel (located in the heart of the city complete with a high end mall attached!!) Kristen changed and cleaned up and we headed out by cab on our adventure, which it turns out, was located in a pretty shady section on the southside of Chicago (?Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown?). The driver dropped us off at the address I had printed out from the Internet, which turned out to be a community recreation center. Undeterred, we went in and started asking about the landmarks we were seeking, and were helped by a very nice (large) man with a booming voice whose name was Bill.

Bill took out a map (you get the sense people occasionally stop by looking for the fair sites) and pointed out the location of the Statue of the Republic (since moved from its original location) which overlooked the fair, the Japanese Garden on the Wooded Island, and the Fine Arts Building, which is now the Museum of Science and Industry. BUT, he said, while the sites were close by, he didn't think we should walk to them because of the traffic. Bill kept going on about the "traffic," which it turns out was a euphemism for the fact that the park we'd be walking through is dangerous and a place known for drug deals. So into Bill's golf cart we hopped for our own private tour of the old sites. We thought that was super nice of him to escort us through the park, and Kristen felt it was a gesture that balanced out the universe after her earlier bad episode on the plane.

Obviously, it was very difficult to imagine "The White City" in run down, weedy, crime-ridden area where it stood almost 120 years ago, but it was still a lot of fun to actually be there. The only original building left standing is beautifully restored on the outside, and thoroughly modern on the inside. The Museum and Science and Industry was one of the coolest museums I've been to and I would highly recommend it if you visit Chicago.

After our visit to Jackson Park, we headed back over to Michigan Avenue ("The Magnificent Mile") for lunch before going back to the hotel to freshen up for our 4pm meeting. At 4pm, we were off and running for our meeting which lasted until 8pm, to be followed by another full day on Saturday. It was wonderful, as always, to see my NAGAP colleagues and the meeting was extremely productive. On Friday night we went out for drinks, but by Saturday night, after an awesomely delicious dinner, I was spent and I headed back to my fluffy bed to veg out for a couple of hours. This morning I had a bite to eat, headed back to the hellish zoo that is is O'Hare, and flew home to have dinner with the family, which included a visit with Cam.

Tomorrow it's back to reality with no fun travel planned until January, when, UNFORTUNATELY, I have to go to Puerto Rico for our next board meeting!  Super Like!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Random Potpourri of Thoughts

Well, the sign of Libra is winding down, regrettably. It's been a crazy week that found me out at one thing or another every night, except tonight, when I am sitting in my sweats in my upstairs three-season porch with the heater blasting on me. HEAVEN!

iPhone 4S

I can't believe a week has gone by and I haven't mentioned that I bought the new iPhone 4S. Of course, I can't afford it and there was just a teeny tiny bit of buyer's remorse but GOSH DARN IT, my iPhone 3 was almost three years old, the apps were constantly crashing, it took forever to respond when I was typing and it was extremely slow in general. (Still, I didn't really need it.) Annalisse got her iPhone at the same time with the $$ she has earned at her bussing job, so we each had a very exciting day on Friday, October 14 when I arrived at the AT&T store by 6:50am (and still had seven people ahead of me)...and I can't even tolerate lines! I was that excited! And, IT'S AWESOME!

Chicago

Tomorrow I head to Chicago for the weekend for my NAGAP board meeting. I can't wait to go. I just love Chicago. This time I plan to get over to Jackson Park, which is the site of the 1893 Columbian Exhibition (Chicago World's Fair), which I am currently fascinated by after reading Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City. I fly home by 4pm on Sunday to get ready for another awesome week at work. *Sigh*


More Crew


Looking ahead to next weekend, the plan right now is to head to Saratoga to watch Cam in Head of the Fish regatta. He said that the team is not really ready for a "real" race yet since all the JV rowers have never actually rowed before, but his coach is using this as an opportunity to give the team practice and experience to a formal/competitive race. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let there be nice weather. Remember two years ago when he almost got hypothermia from the cold and the wet? Right....

The End of the World

Apparently the world is going to end again tomorrow on October 21. My question is, if it happens to end between 8 and 9am when I'm in the air on the way to Chicago, where will we land? Will we just wander through space for all eternity?


That's about it for the potpourri of updates from the Bakers. Obviously, we're mired in the day-to-day and there's nothing really exciting going on. I'll take mundane.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Golden Boy (Man)

Happy 50th Birthday today to MY OLD MAN, Mark! With his young looks he should be able to go another 10-15 years until he actually looks 50. Must be his much younger trophy wife that preserves his youthful looks!!

Today's celebration marks the end of our monthlong birthday celebrations. Until next year...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sardonic Wit

How often do we get to talk about someone's brilliant "sardonic wit," and really mean it?

Last night I did something I've wanted to do for a long time. Although it was not in my Top 10 of things to do before I die, or even on my proverbial "bucket list,"I got to see one of my favorite authors, David Sedaris live. Long a fan of his  (seemingly embellished) autobiographical and fictional essays, I was so excited when a friend asked me to go along. For an 1 1/2 hours he read some new material and told some sort-of-silly jokes.

Funny, irreverent, sardonic wit. He did not disappoint!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Birthday Trifecta

We all survived our wonderful, fun, birthday extravaganzalicious weekend!  The weather could not have been more perfect, and we had fun with all our relatives visiting. In addition to Mark's side of the family and friends, both my sisters and mother were there. Mary and Larry surprised us on Saturday afternoon, and it was so great! I think everyone's spirits were buoyed by the incredibly beautiful weather that graced us both Saturday and Sunday. I even managed to sneak a brief late-season nap on the porch!!

So, two birthdays down, and one to go. Of course, Mark might as well be 50 already rather than waiting until the 17th considering all the hoopla on Saturday. It was a very special time with very special people! Some pix from the party:

The Chow!

Judy and Mom

Greco Gurlz

Nana and the kids

Our Baker/Shiao Family

The Birthday Boy

All the Birthday Libras!

Sweet 16 Cake

Teenage Mutant Ninja Teenager

Thursday, October 6, 2011

He Made Computers for the Rest of Us

A sad goodbye yesterday to Apple's founder and innovative genius, Steve Jobs, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. If you know anything about me you know how much I love technology, and specifically, how much I love my iPhone, iPad and MacBook. But the loss of Steve Jobs is not just about technological devices, it's about his creative, imaginative, innovative mind, and his understanding that technology can also be about relationships, creating devices that are fun to use and can bring people closer together.

I think we are all a little nervous that really cool and fun technology has died with Jobs. Let's hope not. He's among a handful of figures that we can say changed the world when he put technology into the hands of non-techies. In other words, he made computers for the rest of us.


RIP, Steve. You will be missed.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sweet 16

First  Birthday
Okay. How did it happen that my beautiful-little-rosebud-lips baby is 16 today? Seriously!! STOP, TIME, STOP!

I might as well get used to the idea as Annalisse has been waiting for this day FOR A LONG TIME. Over the last year, whenever I told her she was too young to do something her response was, "You won't be able to say that to me when I turn 16." HUH, right! 

All kidding aside, I am so proud of her! She is a confident, beautiful, funny, loving and loyal daughter. Of course, along with all that comes the sassy mouth and cranky moods, but they just add to the charm! 

So Happy Sweet 16, 'Lisse! You are loved!

Sassy Sweet 16

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Welcome to Rocktober!

Well, people, it's here. OCTOBER! After another busy week that included a quick overnight trip to Philadelphia to host a reception on behalf of NAGAP (and a great dinner with my old friend Derb), it's been a lazy, cold, dark and rainy Saturday. After a bit of catch-up and a short panel presentation at the University of Rochester (where I was able to peer through a window across from the program to slyly watch Cam at the table of his debate team), I rewarded myself with a much needed (and well-earned) nap!

The libra birthday odyssey gets underway this week with the celebration of Nic's birthday on Tuesday night with dinner at P.F. Chang's (her choice), followed by Annalisse's birthday on Wednesday, which will be pretty low key because she has to work, followed by the birthday celebration weekend when both our mothers, My sister Carol, Mom Shaio and Dave come to help us celebrate Mark and Annalisse's milestone birthdays.

(Oh, yeah, and a happy birthday to my friend Meg, one of the most rabid [in a good way] libras I know.)


We will be having a 50th/Sweet 16 combo party next Saturday (October 8th, which is coincidentally WHOSE actual birthday??) starting with pizza for just our immediate family, and having more friends and family come over for dessert. Yesterday I went to the party store to try to find decorations that would work for both. I think I was successful and am looking forward to decking out the house with "50" and "Sweet 16" stuff.

Such a great time of year as long as I don't think about what comes after October...