Sunday, January 30, 2011

#28 Jesse vs. Mark

365 Blog Challenge: Post #28

Thank you to Jesse Eisenberg for making today's post so simple.  He is so adorable!  Enjoy.

#27 Knitting Innuendos

365 Blog Challenge: Post #27

I recently spent some time with one of my favorite couples in the world, Karen and Paul.  As mentioned before, Karen and I went to nursing school together.  Paul and Karen were married last May, and sadly, will be leaving the city at the end of the summer to move back home to Chicago.  I am trying to take advantage of Karen's being nearby (12 blocks away to be exact).

During my most recent visit to Karen and Paul's Washington Heights apartment, Karen taught me how to knit, while Paul made sexual innuendos about all of our knitting talk.  (Big balls of yarn, thick knitting needles, you get the picture.)  Completely inappropriate, yet hilarious.

Here are some pics of a night in with two of the best people ever:
Granny Karen preparing her ball'o'yarn.
Clever Paul, dirty mind.
Granny Lo, trying to be crafty when I'm not.

So that top line is supposed to be straight but hey, it's my first time!
Big Ball O' Yarn.

Maybe if I practice enough, I'll be able to make a blanket for Dani or a scarf for Zoe or a hat for Tyler.  For now, I'll stick with getting my lines straight....or not poking my eye out with a knitting needle.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

#26 The NFL has a problem...

365 Blog Challenge: Post #26

"The stress to play is high, even if injured! You don't complain because there is always someone to take your place if you don't perform. People don't understand the amount of stress that is put on players to play. So you play through your pain."

The above quote is from a study conducted at the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.  The quoted individual is a former NFL player, one of many who was interviewed for a study regarding pain-killer abuse/misuse and retired NFL players.  The study results, though not surprising, should be a big wake up call to the NFL.  It proves that retired NFL players are much more likely to abuse/misuse prescription pain killers than ordinary people, and they don't always get the drugs from a legal source. 

As a health care professional, I am constantly put off by how little concern is given to NFL players bodies.  Concussions are especially concerning given the new research that shows early dementia in retired NFL players who suffered concussions.  The research at Washington U highlighted the high number of retired NFL players who misuse pain killers, the most common reasons being uncontrolled pain, undiagnosed concussions and heavy alcohol use. While it isn't surprising that a former professional athlete will have pain, he (or she) used his body to a greater extent in his 5-10 year career than an ordinary person will in, I'd guess, 60-70 years, the extent of this pain and the inability to control it is concerning. 

I am always put off when players play injured, especially after concussions.  While I understand that using their body is part of the game, I wonder if the players realize that there is life after the game, and their bodies aren't always worth the sacrifice of winning.  While winning an Superbowl (or World Series or NBA championship, etc) would be an amazing accomplishment, who cares if you spend the rest of your life addicted to pain medication or depressed or demented due to undiagnosed or untreated concussions?  Sure, the league is cracking down on helmet-to-helmet offenders.  But now they league wants to extend the regular season by 2 games?  Isn't that somewhat hypocritical? And for what purpose?  To make more money?  They don't make enough money as it is?  There isn't any other way to cut back without forcing already injured and fatigued players into 2 more grueling games where countless more injuries can occur?

I understand playing football is a choice, and to be honest, I love watching the game.  I just think that something in the NFL (and other professional sports)culture needs to change to make it okay for a player to sit out an additional game or two without the risk of losing a starting spot or even a spot on the team.  The NFL culture needs to stop forcing these players to be super human, because they are not.  They are just as human as the rest of us, body and soul.

Friday, January 28, 2011

#25 Rashi's Daughters, Book One: Joheved

365 Blog Challenge: Post #25

Rating: 4/5 stars
I stayed up late tonight (later than Scott even) finishing the first book of the Rashi's Daughters series written by Maggie Anton.  As many of you know, my husband is Jewish and I am not.  However, I have a fascination with the Jewish religion, especially of Orthodox Judaism (the form of Judaism that adheres most strictly to the words in the Torah).  When I saw these books on the Hanukkah table at Barnes and Noble a couple months ago, I became intrigued.

Ms. Anton, the author, studies the Talmud (explanation of the Talmud as found on the oh so reliable Wikipedia: record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history) as well as medieval history.  I did not however find any educational credentials as to her background in medieval history, not that it's necessary.  Just something I noticed.

The first book of this series reminded me why I love historical fiction so much.  What's better than learning about a time period and a culture while being told an engaging story as well?  Rashi (aka Salomon Ben Isaac) is a learned scholar who secretly begins teaching his daughters the Talmud (something pretty darn taboo for the time.)  The story primarily follows Rashi's eldest daughter, Joheved, from age 12 when her studies begin, through her betrothal, marriage and pregnancy.  It also gives details on the Yeshiva that Rashi starts in his French city of Troyes as well as the family vineyard that he left his studies to maintain. The book gives excellent accounts of what it is to live a Jewish life in the 11th century, as well as some interesting insights on the Talmud.

Though the writing is simple, the authors voice seems appropriate in entertaining and educating the reader.  I was surprised to find that I actually missed my subway stop while reading this book.  That means I'm pretty into it.  Looking forward to reading the next one though I've got a long to-read list ahead of it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

#24 Restaurant Week- Devi

365 Blog Challenge: #24

This week is restaurant week in NY, and Scott and I decided to take advantage of it for the first time and had lunch at Devi on E 18th Street.  I think Scott and I played Tom Colicchio and Padma (of Top Chef) very well as we dined on this fancy, gourmet Indian food by chefs Suvir Saran and Hemant Mathur.  (Actually, rumor has it Padma actually dines here.) The restaurant itself is gorgeous, and my picture of the table setting below doesn't begin to do it justice.  It is decorated with lush, warmly shaded upholstery; flowing, transparent cloths; and beautiful colored lamps hanging from the ceiling. (The website has better pictures than I can provide.) It feels elegant, but otherworldly, the moment you walk in. 

Let me begin by saying I am not food critic.  In fact, I may have one of the most simple palates on the planet.  However, I could appreciate the quality of this food, even if not all of it was my favorite. 

I loved the silver plates on the place settings which we
didn't actually eat on but were beautiful anyways.
We ordered from the Prix Fixe restaurant week lunch menu and both started with the Chicken Apricot Seekh Kababs.  These were delicious, a little spice in the chicken with sweet, delicious apricot chutney underneath.  (All of the chutneys at Devi were amazing, sweet and not too savory.)

For our main course, Scott and I went in different directions.  He ordered the vegetarian Paneer Stirfry which had the most amazing sauce, buttery and so smooth, and I ordered the Tandoor-Grilled Lamb Chops with Spiced Potatoes and Sweet and Sour Pear Chutney (yum chutney).  Mine may have been a mistake.  I don't doubt the quality of the dish, but I learned very quickly that I'm not quite a lamb chop kind of girl.  I'd only ever had lamb in gyros (not just street meet, from actual quality Greek restaurants) and am used to the tougher slices of meat with that earthy, lamb flavor.  The lamb chops at Devi were very tender and I could tell beautifully seasoned, but the actual flavor and texture of the meat did not agree with me.  I felt like I was eating one of little Bo Peeps sheep and Scott (surprisingly) ate most of my chops.  Luckily, we also ordered a side order of Butter Chicken (tikka masala), which had a similar sauce to that paneer stir fry but a little less rich.  We happily dipped our naan (the best naan I've ever had) in the extra sauce.
Pistachio Kulfi

Mango Sorbet and Mango Panna Cotta

Finally, we had dessert.  I ordered the Pistachio Kulfi (kulfi is "traditional Indian ice cream") and Scott got the Mango Panna Cotta

with mango sorbet.  Again, I preferred Scott's dish to mine, though mine was extremely interesting.  A pistachio ice cream, strong hints of ginger with caramelized pistachios and cream.  However, I think Scott's mango sorbet was the best thing I tasted there besides the naan.  It was so refreshing and tasted like the ripest, most delicious mango ever.

Devi was definitely a good experience and maybe some day, if we have lots of extra money hanging around, we can go back.  At the least, it was an adventure for our taste buds and I recommend it to any foodie in NY.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

#23 Nominees I can stand behind...

365 Post Challenge: Blog #23

Today the nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards were announced, and while I only watched part of the announcement on TV (while wrapping up my work shift) I wanted to comment a bit on some nominations that I stand behind 100%.   Please note that I don't see a ton of movies.  A movie has to really appeal to me (or Scott) for me to pay the money ($12.50 in NY!) and take the time to go to the theater to see it.  That being said, I've only seen 3 or 4 of the highly nominated films.  However, I will go on with my opinionated self and tell you who I like.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman
Ok, did you SEE Black Swan?  Did you see the transformation this girl went through in that film?  This sweet, smart, funny, charming actress became a haunting, demonic frickin' swan!  As feathers seemed to appear from under her skin, goose bumps appeared on my arms.  She was IN CONTROL.  A mad woman in a beautiful dancer's body.  Amazing.  She gets my vote.

Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg
If anyone has seen my husband, you'll note that I like skinny, Jewish guys, and Jesse Eisenberg is no exception. Actually I haven't verified that he is Jewish, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was.  AND he is seksi! And not only seksi, talented.  And his performance in The Social Network proves he is beyond just an endearing, cute, Michael Cera-eseque actor (see Zombieland).  This kid has range. (I can call him a kid because according to IMDB, he's 2 months younger than me.)  In this movie, he played an awkward, cold genius...cold, but not cold hearted.  How complicated.  While The Social Network wasn't my favorite movie of the year (a little too much boardroom, not enough action), I thought Jesse was amazing.  (PS I also really enjoyed Justin Timberlake in the Social Network as I was pleasantly surprised he can act! Maybe not Oscar material, but fun to see none-the-less.)

Best Film: Black Swan
As mentioned before, I really enjoyed Black Swan.  It was so nice to see a movie that made me jump in my seat, that didn't have to be advertised as a stupid horror movie.  Psycho-dance thriller, is that what they called it?  I loved it.  I was into every minute of it, and if you haven't see it, you should for it's great story, it's incredible acting and it's beautiful visualizations.

Best Documentary: Restrepo
Ok, so I haven't actually SEEN this, but I did read the book by Sebastian Junger, a journalist who co-directed this documentary about the Afghan war with Tim Heatherington.  The book, WAR, was written about Junger's experiences while filming Restrepo, and I plan to see the movie very soon.  The book was a very raw look at a platoon in Afghanistan and the realities of war there.  I'll give you an update once I see the film.

So, on February 27th, I will be dressed to the nines, sipping champagne and watching to see if my favorites win their categories.  Ok who am I kidding, I'll probably be working and have to look up the nominees in my haze of exhaustion the next morning.  But I love Oscar season, and I'm hoping the previously mentioned nominees get the recognition they deserve!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

#22 He's not a football player...he's a rock star!

365 Blog Challenge: Post #22

AP Photo/Jim Prisching
 In honor of this weekends playoff games, I wanted to dedicate this post to one of my favorite football players, Mr. Clay Matthews III.  To be clear, as a Minnesotan, it is somewhat sacrilege to cheer for the Green Bay Packers or any of their players.  Despite this, Mr. Matthews stood out to me because, like a few other current NFL players, he has ridiculously long hair that flows out from under his helmet during games.  Being a former long-haired athlete myself, I couldn't imagine playing soccer, basketball or even softball without having my hair pulled out of my face and off my neck.  Maybe it's some sort of tough guy status symbol in the NFL, like not wearing long sleeves in 20 degree games (crazy kids.)

Anyways, so Mr. Matthew's long flowing blond locks caught my eye, but not only that.  The guys acts like a rock star!  A testosterone loaded, adrenaline pumping rock star.  He looks more like he should be a member of Guns N' Roses than a Green Bay Packer, and despite this, he is an awesome player!  He has a 13+ sack season and is a force against any team the Packers play.  He was even on the Dan Patrick Show (A podcast my sports-nut husband listens to regularly), and he used the word "bestie".  And this makes me like him even more.

So Clay Matthews III, on this playoff weekend, as your team is beating the Chicago Bears 14-0 in the forth quarter, I salute you.  Also, I pray to God that you're not doing steroids and that you're just naturally a huge, rock star oaf who is a monster of a player!  Good luck Packers! *wince*

Saturday, January 22, 2011

#21 Dani jammin' out

365 Blog Challenge: Post #21

It has been a rough work week, probably my worst thus far in my nursing career.  Not only did my patient pass away on Monday, but another "frequent flier" of ours, a young many in his 40s, died of very unexpected circumstances on another unit this week also.  I don't feel I get overly attached to most patients, but once you've gotten to know someone over time, it makes it much more difficult to lose them.

Last night it all came to a head.  I was step-down nurse (more acute beds than regular beds, not quite as acute as ICU beds).  One of my patients was physically unstable all night and another one was mentally unstable for much of the night and yes, they happened to share a room.  Given my already glum mood and the deterioration of another patient on the floor, I was more frazzled than I like to be and I struggled last night.  It was a terrible night, and I was so happy when it was done because I have the night off, only to go back the next 2 nights.

However, after sleeping for a few hours today, I woke up to a little ray of sunshine on a Facebook video, my niece Dani.  There is no mood this little girl can't get me out of.  Thank goodness for beautiful, wonderful, hilarious babies, especially ones who are so important to you. See the video to Dani jamming out to Jim Carrey from "The Mask" soundtrack in the link above.

Friday, January 21, 2011

#20 New York Nicknames

365 Blog Challenge: Post #20

The following are excerpts from the article in this week's Time Out New York magazine titled A History of NYC Nicknames by Jenna Flannigan.  I thought these were some interesting little tidbits.

New York The British took control of the colony in 1664, and the troops who annexed the area dubbed it after their commander, the Duke of York. Since there was already a York in England, King Charles II crafted yet another excellent application of the word new

The Empire City Legend has it that George Washington, while tramping through the woods north of the city, proclaimed, “Surely this is the seat of the empire!” The nickname wouldn’t filter through the press until an 1836 Illinois newspaper described NYC as “the Rome of America, the Empire City of the New World.”

The Big Apple No origin story is completely reliable, but this appellation has a bookworthy history: In Origin of New York City’s Nickname “The Big Apple,” authors Gerald L. Cohen and Barry Popik trace the term from the big Red Delicious apples grown in Iowa in the 1870s, which were regarded as the most special version of the fruit. Years later, a 1920s horse-race writer for New York paper The Morning Telegraph overheard stable hands using the phrase to describe NYC’s racetracks, which represented the big time. In the 1930s, black jazz musicians used the nickname to refer to Harlem, then to the city overall. It then lost popularity until 1971, when it was used for a New York Convention and Visitors Bureau PR campaign. 

The City that Never Sleeps New York’s insomnia is well known: The first print reference is from a 1912 story in the Fort Wayne News, about NYC erecting the world’s largest gas plant, ensuring that the metropolis would “add to its title of the city that never sleeps that of the city that never grows dark.”

Michelle and James Nevius, NYC tour guides and authors of Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City, also included information on the history of the borough names as sited in the article.

According to some sources, the isle’s moniker is derived from the local Lenape word “Manahatta,” which translates to “hilly island.” Other Native American terms—menatay, meaning “island,” or better yet, manahachtanienk, meaning “a place of general inebriation”—may have played a role, too. 

For more nicknames, check out the link above!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

#19 In The Woods

365 Blog Challenge: Post #19
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Last night, I finished In The Woods, a novel by Tana French, an up and coming mystery author.  I didn't want to write this review last night because #1 Scott was forcing me to watch the Australian Open with him (during which he fell asleep) and #2 I needed time to let this book settle.  

The best part of this book is by far the writing.  The prologue blew me away.  I feel that in this day of mass media mystery novels, writers focus on a formulaic story, memorable heroes and not so much on prose.  French is an exception to this.  Her writing is right up there with some great literary fiction.  She gives mystery writers a standard to strive for.  The story in this book is also intriguing.  The narrator, Rob Ryan (formerly Adam) is the sole witness a mysterious crime committed in 1984 when his 2 best friends mysteriously disappeared from a wood in Knocknaree (Ireland).  In what can only be seen as a defense mechanism, Rob cannot recall any of the events that took place until he was found, the lone survivor, clinging to a tree in fright, blood soaking his shoes.  Years later, a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad, Ryan and his partner (and best friend), Cassie, begin an investigation into another crime committed in Knocknaree, the murder of a 12-year-old girl whose body is found at an archaeological dig site.  I enjoyed the psychological aspects added not only to Ryan's unraveling, but also to Katy's (the 12-year-old victim) family.  It kept me guessing.

My biggest problem with this book was the pacing.  There were parts in the first 200-300 pages where it felt like Ryan, Cassie and Sam (the 3rd detective on the case) hit dead end after dead end.  Maybe this was important was, during this time, we watch Ryan fall apart as the case begins to hit home.  But surely it could have been sped up a little bit. The last 100 pages were quick, exactly the pace I was looking for, but I was disappointed in how long it took me to get there.  Also, without giving too much away, aspects of this book's conclusion left me saddened.  Perhaps I am too optimistic, but when the story wrapped up, I had a empty pit in my stomach, that I was hoping would be filled with some sort of happy ending.

Having said all this, I would eventually like to read another French novel.  Her gift for prose makes it worth overlooking some of the downsides to this first Dublin Murder Squad book, and I think I'll give her another chance.  And perhaps I'm just being too hard on this first one, which was quite critically acclaimed.  My own impatience may plays a role, but I don't feel that suspense should be drawn out to the point of boredom.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#18 A sad night...

365 Blog Challenge: Post #18

I have worked as a nurse on a medical cardiology unit for 15 months.  It is my first job as a nurse, and it has been amazing, painful, irritating, educating and rewarding all at the same time.  In my 15 months, I have only seen 3 cardiac arrests.  1 of those 3 patients made it.  2 nights ago, it was one of my own patients who didn't survive.  This was my first patient death, and it was a difficult one.  The patient was a wonderful, but very sick man, who'd been under our care for weeks, and in fact, I had been his nurse at least a couple times a week since he'd been there.  It was not a pretty death.  It was not completely unexpected, but it was not peaceful or serene.  The room was full of medical professionals doing their jobs, orderly chaos, and last ditch efforts.  Everyone, even before the code, was trying so hard to keep this man alive, but it was just not meant to be.

I don't think I'll cry after every patient death.  Some patients I won't know so well.  Some patients are so debilitated that I think they are ready for their discomfort and pain to end.  This patient was a hard patient to lose, and I did cry.  I was wiping tears from my face during the code.  I burst into tears in front of the intensivist when the case was called (she was very gracious).  And I was comforted in our break room by some very sweet and kind staff members.  I have to thank many of my coworkers for being so supportive and wonderful.  I couldn't have gotten through the night without them.

 I don't think I will ever forget this first death, and I don't think I should.  Life is fragile, and too often, it is cut short.  Hug the ones you love.  Don't take any breath for granted.  Live your life as you want to live it, not as others tell you to live it.  Life is a mysterious thing.  I'm glad that my patient had a good one, but I'm sad it had to end this soon.

#17 Glamorous Athletes #1

365 Blog Challenge: Post #17

As Scott is practically nocturnal, he has been watching the Australian Open this week in real time.  He always comments about how female tennis players have good bodies, except some of them have man arms.  (See above.)  While looking at the pictures on the official Australian Open website, I started to notice just how ridiculous tennis players look in their moments of glory.  Below are some prime examples (and some examples of great sports photography):
18th Seed player Sam Query who unfortunately lost in the first round after this great look and screwed up Scott's pick 'em brackets.

This is actually not THAT embarrassing of a picture...except that this American's name is Mardy Fish.

By the way, did you know that Kei$ha made an appearance at the Open? 

Australian player Jelena Dokic who is in fact playing in the women's tournament.
Juan Martin Del Potro, looking fabulous (and as if his arm is protruding from his abdomen)

Andy Murray, Britain's great hope,  is stunned to see this ball flying at him.  He knows he's playing tennis, right?

And last but not lease, you know how Andy Roddick is kinda considered a stud?  (He IS married to Brooklyn Decker of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue fame for heaven sake).  Well he was a repeat offender in the unattractive action shot category. 

Is he trying to look like a monkey?
No wonder athletes have to deck themselves out so much off the court, to redeem themselves from these ridiculous shots.  Good luck mates!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

#16 Oh Knollwood...

365 Blog Challenge: Post #16

As a native Minnesotan, I continue to receive Star Tribune morning update emails in my inbox and occasionally even have time to read them.  Today, a headline caught my eye, and I somehow instinctively knew where this took place.  The article, Chlorine Leak at Swim School Sickens Dozens, is reporting a leak that took place at Foss Swim School at Knollwood Mall in St. Louis Park, minutes from my parents house.  While I've never taken lessons there (I believe it was established years after my lessons with Martha Burns, of which I have forgotten every swim technique ever taught), I am very familiar with the mall itself. Knollwood has to be one of the strangest, most depressing malls ever.  While I frequent their Kohls often while I'm home (affordable Vera Wang?? How could I pass that up?), the mall has an eery, empty feeling to it, at least once you pass Kohls and the swim school which appears to be a popular place.  When you venture into the middle section of the mall, you see a dollar store, a Christian book store and a random mobile phone shop, maybe a Dress Barn.  In fact, unless you're at one of their food establishments (Panera or Applebees), I may think you're a ghost going into that haunting middle section.  Despite all this, Knollwood perks up at it's other end with at TJ Maxx, and outside an Old Navy, DSW and Caribou Coffee.  I find it quite funny that they advertise on their website as "Premier Shopping, Dining and Entertaining".  Basically, it's kind of a dump with a couple good shops and apparently, a good swim school that has a chlorine leaks.  I hope for their sakes that the little kiddies are alright.  And if you plan to visit Knollwood, stay out of that middle section.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

#15 Phoneless Day #2

365 Blog Challenge: Post #15

As previously noted, I brilliantly left my cell phone on the Go Fish slot machine at the Borgata in Atlantic City.  I am lucky that there are still good people in the world who were willing to get the phone back to me. However, I chose to save $20 by not having my phone overnight-UPSed to me and therefore, I continue without my phone (crackberry) for day #2.  It's a little ridiculous really how much my life revolves around this phone.  I wake up, I check my phone.  I get bored, I check my phone.  I'm walking from the subway, I check my phone.  Snore.  It's been nice to have this little vacation.  The only thing I really miss is, well, my phone.  But not all of the connectedness that goes with it (e.g. email, facebook, internet access).  I really would just like to have the ability to call my husband today while he's at work, or my sister to see if her baby is enjoying peas as much as green beans (Green Bean Machine!).  But alas, email is all I have while at home, and when I'm out, I'm back in the stone age (when did cell phones become popular? the late 90s?)  I'm left to fend for myself with nothing but my debit card and my book in my bag.  I guess I'll just think of this weekend as a purification.  I'm cleansing myself from Blackberry toxins and will be fresh and new when I get it back Monday. (No promises after that.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

#14 Authors That I Know and Love #1

365 Blog Challenge: #14

Ok, so I use the word "know" loosely in the title of this post, but basically, authors whose work I love, who are interesting, who I have had some form of interaction with.  "Authors That I Know and Love" has such a better ring to it.

The first author I'd like to give props to is Dave Cullen, author of the non-fiction book, Columbine, which is an excellent, well-researched, humane look of the school shooting and of the shooters at Columbine High School.   Mr. Cullen made my day a few weeks ago when he commented on my 50-Book-Challenge post, thanking me for the kind (and true) words about his book.  As many of you know, this blog is not exactly  Readership is not in the millions, more like the tens, daily.  So how exciting was it that an author that I wrote about took the time to not only read my blog, but comment on it?  So that scored him points in my book.  Not only did Mr. Cullen read my  blog and comment, he also responded to an email I sent him, personally thanking him for taking the time to pay attention to this little old thing.

Since then, I have occasionally been checking out Dave Cullen's blog, and was very interested to see some of his thoughts on the recent Arizona shooting.  Having done such extensive work researching the mind set behind Eric Harris and Dylan Kebold, the Columbine shooters, it's fascinating to learn Dave's take on this event.  He even made an appearance on MSNBC's Dave Ratigan Show, discussing the mindset of a killer at such events.  View the video here:

For his excellent book- Columbine, his friendly attitude, and his interesting insights on the recent tragedy in Arizona, I salute Dave Cullen!  Keep up the good work!

#13 Atlantic City baby!

365 Blog Challenge: Post #13
 Last night, Scott and I took a 2.5 hour road trip to Atlantic City with my friend and co-worker, Miriam.  To be honest, I'm not much of a gambler, but Scott and Miriam were quite excited to win some big bucks.  Also, I'd never seen the bright lights of Atlantic City so I was happy to go along.  Scott and I ended up not being so lucky.  We lost all the money we brought (although we made the last 11 dollars last for a good hour....we're big spenders, I know.)  But Miriam came away with some winnings and we all had a good time!

"Good Luck" in Hebrew...didn't do us so much good....

The Borgata is the casino we chose, and Scott reports it was much less tacky than Caesars, the last casino he went to in Atlantic City.  But I was more impressed with the clientele and the staff when disaster struck.  (Ok, not so much disaster.  But it felt like a disaster to me!)  After we left the Borgata, around 2am, and got an hour or so away, I reached into my purse to see if I'd missed any very important emails, texts or calls.  (And by very important, I mean any emails, texts or calls because I am a addicted to my "crackberry".)  I couldn't locate my phone in my purse or in my jacket so I called my phone from Miriam's blackberry.  Strangely, some man with an accent answered it.  I was flabbergasted.  I asked where he was and if he worked at the casino and he seemed to have a hard time understanding me (drunk? non-English speaking? not sure)  but was able to communicate that I left my phone on a slot machine (Gold Fish by chance? That was a good one.)  Not able to understand me well, he kindly passed the phone to a sober woman who graciously took the phone to the front desk of the casino.  We got home at four, and after getting a few hours of sleep, I woke up to call the Borgata and spoke to three different people (information, security, lost and found), all very kind, and they happened to have my phone!  (Yes, that is my blackberry with the red rubber bumper and the picture of the beautiful baby on it (i.e. Dani.)  The Borgata is shipping my phone to me UPS and I should receive it by Monday.  Now that's luck!!

Me and Miriam, gambling it up.

I'm blowing up this picture to show you the ridiculousness of it.  On the ATMs at the Borgata were these signs offering help if you think you have a gambling problem.  I think by the time you're at the ATM in the casino, it's probably a bit too late....though it's a nice thought (and maybe required by law?)

Scott, Me and Miriam with the winter wonderland fountain behind us.

Miriam with her winnings and "Good Luck" in English.  At least someone came out on top!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

#12 The Lost Child- A Mother's Story

365 Blog Challenge: Post #12

I recently finished reading The Lost Child- A Mother's Story, a memoir by Julie Myerson. Myerson is an excellent writer. She's written multiple novels and a couple other non-fiction books. However, I wish I'd read one of those instead of this one. The Lost Child is an interwoven story of a child artist, Mary Yelloly, from the 1800s and the authors son, "our boy" as he is referred to in the book. Mary dies of tuberculosis in 1839, just as her life was getting started. The boy, the eldest of Myerson's three children, has just discovered a life of drugs in which he has begun to spiral downward. He wreaks havoc at home, he is moody, uncooperative, and unreasonable. He is destroying the family he grew up with, and eventually, the author and her husband are forced to kick him out.

What bothered me about this book is that I just couldn't find a reason to care about Mary. The author doesn't describe what prompted her interest in her (I had to read in a review that they are from the same area of England), nor why I should give a hoot about Mary in the first. The Mary sections of the book give more information about Myerson's search for the girl than the girl herself. I learned more about the Yelloly family than about Mary's life. The book could have sufficiently revolved around Myerson's trouble at home. Mary's story takes away from the catharsis of the book. I found myself disappointed when another section about the girl was presented.

Despite my dislike for the Mary sections, there is actually one beautiful last scene in the book about Mary, in which Myerson fantasizes about meeting her. This scene, and the memoiresque portions of the book are truly where we see Myerson's gift as a writer. Maybe the lack of information about Mary is supposed to parallel the lack of information Myerson's son is sharing with his family. Maybe searching for the truth about Mary is supposed to match the search for truth in her own family life or the search for her son's motives and the depth of his problems.

Whatever Mrs. Myerson's motives, I agree with her son's perception when she presents him with the manuscript to this story. He actually is fairly gracious in allowing her to divulge information about his life and his mishaps. However, he reports he didn't much care for the parts about Mary. "To be absolutely honest...I wasn't all that interested in the stuff about the Mary Yelloly person....but maybe you have to be pushing fifty and female."

Agreed. The Lost Child was lost on me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

#11 Famous Friends and Family #3

365 Blog Challenge: Post #11

Today I'd like to dedicate my blog to our family friend, Erik Link who is a special teams coach for Auburn University's Tigers football team.  As many of you know, Auburn won the BCS National Championship game last night, and therefore are national champions.  It has been fun to watch Erik's in-laws, (basically my second parents) Jim and Judie Flaherty get worked up about this team, and they were lucky enough to be at the game last night.

Erik and Jill Link (as stolen from their Christmas card)
Congrats to Erik and the Auburn Tigers on your win!  (I personally believe Erik is the sole reason that they made it so far.)  And way to go Jill, Erik's wife, for being so supportive of Erik's career which requires a lot of mobility!  Proud to know ya!

Monday, January 10, 2011

#10 I love my Toots-La-Roo

365 Blog Challenge: Post #10

I am dedicating today's post to my niece, Dani Baker (aka Toots), because she's is the cutest, most ridiculously wonderful baby in all the world and today, she turns 5 months old.  She has brought more joy than I ever imagined possible to the lives of her parents, her grandparents and her Auntie Lo and Unkie Scott.  Dani just started trying out cereal, and she can now roll from her back to her front, though going back the other way is more difficult.  I am sad I don't know when I'll get to see Tooter next, but I hope it's in the near because she's gonna be zooming around on all fours pretty soon, and I want to hold her one more time while she'll let me!.  Love you little lady!!  Love,
Your Auntie Lo

#9 Two of my best girls

365 Blog Challenge: Post #9
2 of my best NY girls and I went out to dinner last night at Otto, Mario Batali's restaurant (Iron Chef!) near Washington Square Park, and we had things to celebrate.  I met these girls in my nursing program and we have since gone different directions in our careers, but remain close.  

We were celebrating Karen's completion of Columbia's Family Nurse Practitioner program for one, and Karen will continue on into their Doctor of Nursing Practice program later this month.   We are proud of her!
New FNP Karen & I

Our other reason to celebrate?  Our darling Julia is pregnant and due June 27th.  We know Julia and her husband Dan have been wanting this for some time, so we're happy they're about to get their turn at parenthood.

Pregnant Julia and FNP Karen! 
Here's to good things for my lovelies, Karen and Jules, in the year to come!  Love you ladies!
Me, Julia and Karen, happy as clams :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

#8 Philly Visit

365 Blog Challenge: Post #8

This weekend, I went to Philly to visit my good friend Amy.  Amy and I met working as research assistants at the Bronx VA, and she is now working towards her PhD in psychology at Temple University.  She moved to Philly in August, and this is my first visit to her since then.  Here are some highlights:
Amy's cute little house.  Three floors but teeny tiny.
Funny thing about Philly is seeing all sorts of people in colonial outfits, especially in places like this mall. (Actually the Shops at the Bourse, a sorry excuse for a mall).

Amy and I went to see "I Love you Phillip Morris", and I was amused by the lengths they took to prevent people from sitting in these chairs which were "out of order" but upon inspection, nothing appeared to be wrong with them.  We decided they must actually be soiled.

Amy and the painted plants.

Here I am at Jones, a great breakfast place on Chestnut.  Notice my right eye is swollen.  That is thanks to Amy's lovely long-haired cat, Maya (and my cat allergies despite the 6+ months of allergy shots I've gotten). Pretty sexy.  At least the cat is sweet.

Amy and I went to the National Museum of American Jewish History which opened in 2010.  Did you know the first Jewish immigrants came to America in the 1600s from Brazil??

Amy and I in our Purim masks. 

I thought this was interesting because this story about a Jewish man who was accused of murder and killed by a mob is the premise for an excellent musical, Parade, which is one of Scott's favorites.

Other debauchery ensued Saturday night.  But to put it plainly, I'll just say- Four Loko! (Sorry if you got a text from me.)

Thanks Amy for a great weekend!

Friday, January 7, 2011

#7 Famous Friends & Family #2

365 Blog Challenge, Post #7's Christmas night.  Your bellies are full.  Your wallets are empty.  Many of your wishes for new things have been granted.  You're happy, maybe spending the evening with family, maybe with other loved're Evan!

Our friend Evan (Scott's coworker), who happens to be good friends with many an older bitty (in fact we tease him that he is getting lucky with the older ladies) spent this past Christmas night at the duplex of a popular NY couple who annually host famous opera singers (think the Met) and their "entourages"  for a Christmas dinner.  Not only did Evan attend this swanky event in which the singers entertain each other, he was also pictured in the New York Times article that was written up about it (in the Fashion & Style section.)!  Here he is:

Photo as seen in New York Times, taken by Deidre Schoo.  Evan is the young gentleman to the far left, cell phone in hand.  Try and guess what he's thinking here....

Photo by Deidre Schoo for the New York Times.  Here Evan is with the hostess.  We told you the ladies love him.

Way to go Evan.  You made the New York Times AND my blog! What a lucky guy. ;)