Monday, September 30, 2013

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

I’m a little backed up on my book reporting. I guess I’m a little backed up on blogging all together. After nearly 5 years of blogging, I think I’m just a little burned out on trying to crank out posts 4-5 times a week. That’s probably been pretty obvious over the last several months with weeks of silence going by. I appreciate each and everyone one of my readers, most of whom, I’m assuming, are friends and family. This blog will not make me famous, that’s for sure. But, I’d like to think my readers appreciate me too if not just for a little chuckle or smile or pearl of wisdom. Even if those pearls are just which beer is best this week or which book to read. Thanks for sticking around, is what I’m trying to say.
Onto more pressing issues……..Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls is the latest offering from my favorite humorist, David Sedaris. I just plain love his stuff. If you haven’t read anything by him, start with one of the earlier ones (Barrel Fever or Me Talk Pretty One Day) and power through.

Good Reads’ Synopsis: "A guy walks into a bar car and...
From here the story could take many turns. When this guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved. 

Sedaris remembers his father's dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy. 

With Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris shows once again why his work has been called "hilarious, elegant, and surprisingly moving" 

What I Thought: Nothing beats a book that can make you laugh. I like books that make you cry too, heck I just like books that make you feel something, anything. But laughter, that’s the best, right? There were several times reading this in the car that I chuckled out loud and John said to me, “You’re just cracking up over there, aren’t you?” I like essay compilations and short anecdotal stories such as those found in this book because they’re easy to swallow and totally manageable when you don’t have a lot of time to slog through never-ending chapters. If you’re a Sedaris fan, you’ll like this just as much as his others. Promise.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Recipe Reblog: Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I wish I had a picture of these because they are so darn cute but they were all eaten so quickly. This recipe comes from the Brown Eyed Baker.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies: As we all know, recipes using mini muffin tins are infinitely superior to all other recipes. Not much beats bite-sized food. Add in PB and chocolate and you've got yourself a winner. I cut this recipe in half because otherwise it yields 48 and I didn't feel like unwrapping that many cups. I also only have 24 spots in my muffin tins. I've made these twice now for different people and everyone gobbled them up. If you only eat one, they're actually relatively low in calories for a dessert. But, let's be honest. You won't be eating just one. They also freeze and thaw well, if you're into that sort of thing.


Does everyone else die when this AT&T commercial with the kids sitting around the table with the guy in the suit comes on?

Knock, Knock
Who's There?
Queen my dishes, please.




It's queen, to make a funny.

The kid was so proud of his joke and then he was totally buzzkilled by having to explain it. Come on. That's advertising gold.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I was looking for an "Available Now" book on my Kindle and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot popped up. This was released a few years ago to great popularity spurred on by a glowing recommendation from Oprah and eventually becoming a NY Times Bestseller. I had no clue what it was about but you don't question the O, right?


Good Reads' Synopsis: "Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?
Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences."

What I Thought: This was a very interesting and eye-opening read. Science is not my jam but I was still intrigued by how these cells have been used all around the world and became integral pieces in so many medical advances and much more. Skloot's journey of discovery with Henrietta's family was fascinating and they are definitely characters, each and every one of them. I would recommend this to anyone as a captivating read.

Rating: * * * *

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Destination: Raleigh

I have been a busy bee. Over Labor Day weekend, John, Sadie and I loaded up for an 8 hour drive to Raleigh, North Carolina to visit some VIP's. Not only did we get to see my sister and brother-in-law, but we also got to hang out with our 3 year old nephew, Ben and meet our 4 month old nephew, Ethan. It was awesome!

There was a LOT of this.......

There was also a little bit of sightseeing. We hit up the Museum of Natural Sciences. This was a hit with the 3 year old, who kept calling it "the zee-um." The baby, not so much. To be fair, he slept most of the time. It's pretty sizable and had lots of exhibits for free. There was a paid special exhibit (that has since left, I think) of animatronic dinosaurs that we passed on deciding Ben might not care for it. Full disclosure: dinosaurs freak me out a little but so I was A-Okay not going through there. This museum is super science-y for all you geeky types. I think my science-loving bro-in-law got the most out of it but there were plenty of interesting parts for those who aren't so scientifically inclined.

We also ate at my new favorite restaurant, The Cowfish. It's a sushi and burger bar. Isn't that super cool!? We all like both sushi and burgers but it would be the perfect place if you were with a group where some weren't so keen on sushi. The menu was large and in charge. John and I shared a turkey burger with apple and brie and a sushi roll with ahi tuna and a crab cake on top. It was delicious. They also sell bento boxes that are a mix of everything. My brother-in-law had one and it was a ton of food. Unfortunately, the only Cowfish locations are in NC. I NEED to bring this to Ohio.

Before that, we went to the Raleigh Flea Market at the State Fairgrounds. As far as flea markets go, this one was tops! It had a great mix of vintage finds, furniture and your general weirdo flea market booths (socks, anyone?) We got a super sweet watermelon for $2.50. You can't beat that! The ladies could have spent a lot more time there but the gentlemen were ready to move on after about an hour. It was hot and there was little shade to be had outside. The area around the market was pretty crowded due to the NC State home game so if you care to venture there, check the schedule. Parking was at a premium, although we found a non-paid spot.

Last stop worth mentioning is a big cooking/food/gourmet store called Southern Season in Chapel Hill. This place was nuts! If you are a foodie, you will spend hours here. Even if you're not a foodie, I challenge you not to find something to buy or eat here. The candy counter was good to us, as was the wine and beer section (shocking, no?) They had aisle after aisle of mixes, jams and spreads, sauces, cookware, a deli, bakery, and a restaurant if you so desired.

The rest of the weekend was spent hanging out with family at home. Sister time was a must and I got plenty of it. Playing with the boys was great, though tiring at times. Two kids is a lot more work than just one kid, Captain Obvious. I only got one run in and it was a humid 3 miles that I wasn't proud of, but, I did it and that's what matters.

All too soon, we were back in the car headed home.

In case you were wondering, Sadie did pretty great on this trip. She and Ben played really well together and there was only one dicey incident with my sister's dog, Pumpkin (easily half Sadie's size) but no harm was done.

It was a quick visit but provided good quality time because we traveled on Friday and Tuesday and had three full days with the fam instead of keeping ourselves occupied while they worked, which is what usually happens.

Can't wait to see everyone again at Christmas!

Monday, September 9, 2013

August Running Round-Up

August's miles were good to me. I'm going to credit the treadmill for some speedy times and good long runs. Unfortunately, I broke my new rule (at least one outdoor run a week) and only ran outside once. Oops. I'll credit that with my needing to finish up Scandal on Hulu and starting Nashville, Season One. Evening dramas are my running motivation these days. I love a good sudsy soap!

Aug 1: 4.5 mi TM in 3?:??, slow

Aug 4: 7 mi TM in 64:30

Aug 6: 4 mi OT in 37:30, 9:21 avg

Aug 8:    4 mi TM in 33:14  8:48/8:30/8:08/8:58

Aug 10: 6 mi TM in 54:30, 9:05 avg pace

Aug 13: 2 mi TM in 17:57, sore!

Aug 15: 4 mi TM in 34:25

Aug 20: 5 mi TM in 45:06

Aug 22: 4 mi TM in 35:59

Aug 25: 7 mi TM in 62:??, progressive pace ending at 8:36

Aug 27:   5 mi TM in 44:43  9:19/9:06:8:59/8:40/8:29

52.5 total miles

Not too shabby, even if it wasn't outside.

Anyone else into Scandal or Nashville? I can't wait until fall TV starts!