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Sunday, January 31, 2016

May I recommend...?

In the past couple of weeks I finished a book and a TV series that I feel compelled to recommend because they were both so good, and really engaging.

First up, may I recommend The Boys in the Boat, a true story about an underdog rowing team from the University of Washington (as in Washington state) and their bid for the 1936 Olympics, held in Berlin on the cusp of Hitler's rise to power. This book was soooo interesting, and not just because our kids were in crew (that made it very interesting, though, as I understood the incredibly important role of the coxswain better), but because of the deep dive the author took into this event in history, and the interesting way he presented all the characters' background.

In the spirit of Laura Hillenbran's Unbroken (fun fact: Louis Zamperini, Unbroken's protagonist, also competed at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, as did the famous Jesse Owens) and SeabiscuitThe Boys in the Boat was a real page turner and an excellent book. Seabiscuit, Unbroken, and The Boys in the Boat are all set in the same era. What an interesting time in history! Another interesting tidbit: Did you know that the Berlin Olympics was the first time the Olympic torch was carried from Greece to the olympic site? As described in the book (and on Wikipedia!),  Adolf Hitler saw the link with the ancient Games as the perfect way to illustrate his belief that classical Greece was an Aryan forerunner of the modern German Reich. Cam read the book over Christmas break, and Mark is reading it now...highly unusual since he's not much of a reader, but he's pulled in as well. Just an excellent read!

Then, just this afternoon I finished (binge) watching "Making a Murderer", a 10 episode true crime documentary on Netflix. Whoa. People have been talking about this series since it aired in December (2015), so I decided to tune it to see what all the hubbub was about. IT IS UNBELIEVABLE. The true story of Steven Avery who was wrongly imprisoned for 18 years for a rape he did not commit, and was released when the true attacker was identified, only to be arrested two years later, charged with murder. The defense in the murder charge made a VERY strong case for corruption in the police force, which resulted in targeting Avery and possibly framing him in the murder (he had a pending civil suit against key members of the law enforcement in his town because of the previous wrongful imprisonment). You may have your own opinion, but it's my opinion that he (and his nephew, who was also pulled into the case) were wrongly convicted, and a lot of people in America feel the same. What a disturbing miscarriage of justice. Last week Dateline had an special on the case, but I have not had a chance to watch it yet. A really compelling and very disturbing abuse of power by law enforcement. Catch it if you can.

While you know I am no fan of winter, it does provide a great excuse to read and catch up on good TV. Am I right?!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Future TV Wellness Guru

As you may remember, Annalisse is studying Nutrition and Dietetics at college. As she enters the spring term of her junior year, she is starting to understand a little about what her future interests will be. Will she be a nutrition educator and counselor? Will she work in a clinical setting like a hospital or a nursing home? Will she work with children? The elderly? Eating disorders?

My advice to her: Become a registered dietitian and get a great gig on one of the morning shows advising on nutrition and wellness topics! I think she's beginning to explore ways that she can use her outgoing, friendly personality in this profession. After all, you might be the smartest nutritionist in the room, but if you can't connect with people how effective will you be?

So, here is a little demo video she made last week. It's not great, but at least, when she's on the Today Show, you can say you saw a video of her when she was still in college!

"I Survived the Blizzard of '16"


Just like being there

Here I am, safe and sound in the north where there is no (or very little) snow. Unless you live in a cave you probably heard about the massive, historic blizzard that hit the northeast last weekend. Of course, one of the hardest places hit was Washington, DC, where I had spent the week and had hoped to depart from on the weekend.

But no. My plans for leaving Saturday, then Sunday, were scrapped by the big storm, which was actually a pretty bad one and lived up to its hype. Complicating things was the fact that the DC area (and areas east, west, north, and south) were not prepared to deal with the management and removal of upwards of 2' of snow. So, with much determination (and $100 spent paying kids to shovel me out over several occasions), I "escaped" the frozen wasteland of Northern Virginia on Monday afternoon.

Other than the exciting storm, I spent a very pleasant week with Mom Shiao. After her daily treatments and any other running around we needed to do, we settled into a comfortable routine of hanging out in our fluffy leisurewear, watched some great movies, eating some great food, and she even taught me to play scrabble (I'm not very good at picturing words in my head, that became quickly obvious). We had lots of laughs and a lot of great conversation. I was able to work from there in the afternoon so I could keep up with my email, and could run reports and respond to issues and requests back at the office. On Wednesday afternoon I had a delicious lunch with my NAGAP friend, Fran from Marymount University - it was great to see her and catch up!!

Now I'm settled back at home with Mark and Jasper, hunkering down and filling up the weeks and weekends to make the time fly by until spring. Just in case you've forgotten, Groundhog's Day is next Tuesday  - we are almost there (after what has admittedly been a very mild winter [but not for DC!!])

Six more weeks...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Week in Virginny

I write to you from Mom Shiao's comfy couch in Alexandria, Virginia, where I'm spending a week hanging with her in her cute, sunny apartment and helping out where I can while she goes for her daily radiation treatments (which end next Tuesday) for lymphoma. Don't worry - she's doing great! Mark and I just thought it might be nice for me to come down and lend a hand.

So, this week will find us spending the mornings at her treatments, and in the afternoons I will try to catch up on my "work work." Mark is home all alone with pup, as the kids are back at school. Annalisse's classes start on Tuesday, and Cam's not until next week but apparently he wanted to go back a week early and work out with the crew team.

And so the Bakers are scattered once again after a wonderful break! 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Winter Weather Predictions

Mark tends to over dramatize things. One example is in the fall when some random somebody said this winter's weather is going to be worse than last winter's weather, which was pretty brutal - on and on it went. He as telling everyone he met..."they say this winter is going to be worse than last winter..." I kept silent.

Well, here we are in almost mid-January with nary a snowflake, and temps that most of the time make it seem more like March than deep winter. I AM NOT COMPLAINING. The prospect of three or four TOPS months of winter does not break my heart. But, I have to admit I wouldn't mind a little winter excitement in the form of a good snowstorm (after I go to Virginia next week, that is). Who doesn't love the anticipation of the SLIGHT possibility that schools and my College will be closed (it never is), or the rush on bread, eggs, and milk at Wegmans (will they run out?! ~ they never do)?

And just as mundane as the weather has been the beginning of this year. Mark and I are back at work (blah). Cam and Annalisse are back to sitting on the couch most of the time (except for his occasional forays to Naz or the Towpath Cafe to work on finishing up his incomplete and starting to work on his thesis). This weekend will see us scattered again as she goes back to school on Sunday, he heads back to his apartment a week early (apparently to work out with the crew guys for a week before classes start), and I am heading down to Mom Shiao's to in Alexandria, VA to help out during her treatment. Mom's house remains unsold (BTW, two new year's wishes: Mom's house sells and Cam gets a girlfriend - IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK? Apparently.)

Onward to Monday I march. Have a great week everyone. Only three short weeks until Groundhog's Day.