Sunday, January 31, 2016



I spent Saturday at Children's Hospital for clinical orientation.  I'm thankful that I get to do clinical on Saturday because I get to avoid a lot of traffic.  I'm on a post-surgery floor - a good mix of GI, urology, ortho surgeries.  My instructor seems great, my classmates are relaxed and fun.  Hopefully, I won't cry too much.


Today, I went running on the only plowed trail in the DC area.  Even though I showed up right at sunrise today, I said hello ten million people: people running alone, people running in couples, whole groups of people training together. I think everyone who wanted to get in a run today went to the Capital Crescent Trail. I have never run with so many other runners except for in a race! Usually when I run, I say hello to 4 people max.   I ran into Amy - my college marathon running friend and we ran for a few moments.  She warned me about an aggressive owl that might attack you if you are a lone runner.  Lucky for me, I saw no owl.  My hamstring is still on the fritz.  What did I do to it? Ack.


Edda and Ruby napping together.  Edda is ready to go back to school.  She is off her schedule.  Ruby may be ready for Edda to back to school as well.  Given that Edda sleeps on top of her.


Jeremy cleared the deck because he wanted to grill for Sunday night dinner.


Happy birthday Jane!


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Noel, a Builder

Noel a Builder - with hard hat, safety glass, reflective clothing, a hand-knit sweater from Mom and, of course, a big smile :)

I used to worked on two first Westinghouse AP1000 units in China for Shaw Groups several years ago. Then CBI (Chicago Bridge & Iron) bought Shaw Groups and, recently, CBI sold its construction group here (VC Summer) together with Vogtle Plant to Westinghouse just at end of last year.  So, I still have the CBI hard hat.  COOL!

Nuclear Power Plant Access Safety Training

This week, I have received ~20 different kinds of safety training , such as "safety cultures", "excavation and trenching safety". "portable power tools", "hot work", "look out and tag out", etc.

Most of them, I am very familiar.  But, part of them is new to me.  To get trained in this way is very good.  It is extremely helpful not only for Nuclear work but also in one's daily life.  Happy to have this opportunity to get trained.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The last snow day.


Kids were home one more day (again).  This is the last snow day!  It's going to be 60 degrees next week - we are all going to be in shorts and t-shirts then.


We had dinner tonight with Debbie and Dennis. Dennis (I say the next bit with sherah's Texas accent), bless his heart, snowblew (? snowblowed), my mother's driveway Monday morning - even before any plow had touched their street.

We had Friday night dinner with them as (tremendous) thanks.


I wanted to give Dennis something nice for his trouble, Debbie told me he liked brandy.  So I shuffled off to the local liquor store with Edda.  I don't understand alcohol, I don't drink, I don't even drink enough water - nothing there looked quite right.  I texted Jeremy to rescue me.


He was just about to leave his office and said, don't worry, I'll take care of it.  He walked into a nice liquor store downtown and picked up a fancy bottle.  Dennis was pleased - said he thought he got the better end of the deal which was sweet to say, but I'm sure that I (and my mom) got the better end.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Feeling incompetent.


I tried to do some errands today, simple ones like buying spaghetti sauce and black bean soup, but I failed at this task.  The shelves are still empty at the local Target. This mid-day failure set me up for the rest of the afternoon, like setting up a the T-ball stand and just knowing you are going to whiff the next swing.

Though between my feelings of failure, I did have an excellent ox tail for lunch.


My second feeling of failure came from attempting and failing to make an ortho appointment for Edda's back at Johns Hopkins.  This has been on my list for many months, but I've been putting it off because I like to be in denial.  I called the Hopkins # - they said they need a referral in order to make the appointment.  I called my primary care physician - they said they don't do open ended referrals, they need the exact time/date of the appointment to make the referral.  I called back Hopkins, they said they *really* didn't make appointments without the referral.  They suggested I change primary care physicians.  Sigh.  In the end, I got the two of them to talk to each other!  Success.  Kind of.  The primary called me back and said - who diagnosed her?  we have nothing on the chart that says she has scoliosis.  I admitted that I diagnosed her.  (I know, I'm not an expert or anything, but I can tell with my eye/fingers when things are two inches off center.)  Primary says - I gotta check with the doc.  I said I was willing to come in so they can see Edda's back and also that I feel like I needed to compensate them for all this phone tag I'm making them do.  Anyways, primary called back and said  everything was straightened out (ha ha scoliosis pun) and all I had to do was call Hopkins again.  (This is such a boring story.  In the hands of a better writer, I know this could be riveting.)

So I call Hopkins back.  I can't make the appointment because they can't find the referral.

Argh.  AAAAHHHHHHHHH~!!!!!1!@@!$@#R$%^$%^.  I give up.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Snow. It continues. We are trying to not go crazy.


Hello loves,

We just got an email saying that school is cancelled for tomorrow (Thurs.) - it's a real mess.  The roads are pretty clear here, it's just that some schools still don't have their parking lots plowed or bus access cleared.  In our neighborhood, the sidewalks are still sketchy, especially the parts where no one claims as "in front of their house".

Vince has been taking advantage of the days off of school - the storm blew in just as he finished his last final of the semester, so there is no schoolwork for him.  He's been seeing friends or just chilling out watching lots of TV.

Edda has been in the house for days, though yesterday we took her to Montgomery Mall where we ate at full food court and ran into many interesting people.  We shared a table with a lady who lives at Ingleside who said they did an excellent job during the storm, though she was relieved that finally she was out and about.   Edda ran into a camp counselor at JCC who ran up to her and gave her a big hug.  That was nice.


It's always a little strange for me to see Edda walking without anyone touching her in a public place.  It happens so rarely, but I suppose it could happen more frequently.


Last night we watched Zoolander in anticipation of its sequel coming out this summer (?).  It's a bad movie, but it had Donald Trump, David Duchovny and David Bowie making cameos.  Jeremy and I both sighed when David Bowie came on screen - to which both Vince and Keyla asked - who's David Bowie?  Ha ha.  Oh well.



Today, everyone was so bored, we channeled a little bit of David Bowie into Edda's eyebrows.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sound Sleep

Yesterday, I went back to my hotel around 3:30 PM, watched some TV, had a honey ham sandwich as my dinner and went to bed at 7:00 PM.

This morning, I woke up around 4:30 AM.  In between, I slept all the time.  It was a sound sleep with 9:30 hours continuously.  I have seldom slept this way - usually wake several times during my sleep :)

Monday, January 25, 2016

There is still a lot of snow around.

There is still a lot of snow around.  Kids were home from school and will be again tomorrow.  Jeremy stayed home as the Metro only opened the below ground stations today.  I worked - no snow day for me.  This was suppose to be my first week of class, my classes this semester are on Tuesdays (tomorrow) - those are cancelled too.

We haven't driven since Friday at noon.  Trying to stay off the streets so roads can get cleared.  I haven't even really walked further than the end of the block.  Jeremy did make it to town center on foot today - he reported that the elementary school was still buried under a beautiful white blanket.

We are slowly eating down our food supply, collecting all the compost and waiting for something.  I'm not sure what I'm waiting for because no way is anyone shoveling the backyard walk between the house and the compost pile.  I guess I'm just waiting for spring.



Today is the first day of work.  Of course, this full week is all about getting proper training as to how to perform work in nuclear power plant environments.  I have got several training sessions of this kind before and am familiar with the subjects.  They are more or less the same.  But, when I got my grades back, I was pretty happy and felt much younger.  I got two test grades with scores of 98/100 and 100/100.  Pretty good. Right?

On the lodging side, I called several apartments and checked out a better hotel.  This hotel will charge me about $430.00 per week and the one I stay right now is ~$250.00.  Of course, it is much better there but I probably will stay in this economical hotel for a while.  As with respect to apartment, I need to keep looking.

On last Friday, I drove about 12 hours and, half of them, was under freezing rain and snow.  Very proud of that too.  Just like duracell batteries, keep ticking :)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snow exhaustion.


Let's first start with - Happy Birthday Nat!  Last night, we were all stuck in the house.  Jeremy managed to make blueberry/lemon bars with ingredients on hand and we celebrated Nat's 27th birthday.  We all agreed that 27 is the best age to be.  Forever and forever.


I'm now exhausted.  My enthusiasm for snow is at its nadir.  I just finished my second round of shoveling.  Jeremy is out for his third round of shoveling.  It's not yet 2pm.  My arms!  So sore.  My will!  So puny.  I'm trying out audiobooks while I shovel.  Listening to Kate Atkinson's Life after Life which is also sapping my brainpower because it is about this woman who dies over and over again and relives her life again and again and I keep losing my place because I start daydreaming or a neighbor asks a question and I flub the controls on the app (which then makes it skip forward or stumble back) and then I can't quite decide where I am in the book because the same story is told over and over again with small differences.



It's a beauty though.  Mostly because the power stayed on and we are warm in our house.



Some videos for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snow Storm & Reporting to Work

By now, everyone knows the "Big Storm of 2016" that hits east coast.  In order to report to work on Monday in South Carolina prior to this nasty storming weather, I left at 4:30 AM on Friday morning, driving south along interstate highway 95 and arriving at my hotel in South Carolina at ~6:30 PM..

First 280 miles was pretty good.  After that, in Southern Virginia and Northern Carolina, weather turned nasty with freezing rain and snow.

There, I encountered several accidents.  Two of them involved several 18 wheelers. The road was completed blocked with these heavy monsters and its heavy cargo.  No one could move them easily and promptly. The road was therefore completed blocked for a long, long time.

But, one of them shouldn't take that long, if it was handled properly. It happened at a under pass of route 95, at the intersection of a local road (over pass). Theoretically, even the road was completely blocked there, it was fairly easy to re-route the traffic out of and into route 95 using two ramps by crossing this local road. The detour was not long either.  It was about 1,000 ft only.  The problem was there was a STOP sign at local road crossing.  Since no one there to direct drivers to ignore this STOP sign, every car needed to do a full stop before crossing the local road and driving toward route 95 on the other side of the under pass.  With all these trapped cars, it took forever just to pass this STOP sign. May be, people working on the accident had a bad day and couldn't think too much.

The last 100 miles of driving was not easy either because it was all under heavy shower.

After all these, luckily, I finally arrived at my training office around the Columbia Airport in Columbia, South Carolina. It must be their new office.  Even the company sign is printed in plastic sheets.  Here is the picture for that :)

Still more to go.


The dogs need to poop.


Our street is one of the first plowed because at the end of our street, there is a fire station.  I just needed to make it to the street and then we could walk pretty well.


This was at 8 am.  It's now 2 pm and still coming down strong.

Friday, January 22, 2016


We are patiently waiting for the snow.  Because the two feet of snow will be accompanied by 30-40 mph winds, we've been warned repeatedly like children by the weathermen (ah sorry, weather people) that we could lose power and therefore we must be prepared.  Like ill-equipped children, we all understand that the loss of power means that we'll be sitting in the dark, trapped behind two feet of snow, with our electronics running out of charge and slowly getting colder - but how does one prepare for that?  Do we fill our tubs with water?  Do we call our neighbors and ask to stay at their house with power and, if they are kind enough to share their watts/volts/amps with us, how will we get to any other house with two feet of snow everywhere?  We will just have to conjure up our pioneer spirit and eat all the candy I've hidden from Vincent.

Last night, as the city emptied out, I went into town and had dinner with Lana and Jeremy.  Shake Shack first for burgers and then a round of drinks.  The round of drinks may have been more expensive than dinner.  Lana is excited to try out the infamous DC "happy hour".  In Boston, there does not exist an alcoholic happy hour.  But in DC between 3-7pm, the whole town gets boozy on seven dollar cocktails.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The force, it's calling you. Just let it in.


Took Mom and Dad to see Star Wars (finally!) at the *fancy* movie theatre in North Bethesda.  In this particular theatre, you have pillows and blankets and unlimited popcorn and table service for food.  We had lunch together.  My dad had a good time telling everyone (all 4 people who showed up for any mid-day movie) that he took me and Donald to see Star Wars when I was 5 (just down the street at Congressional Plaza), and now, almost 40 years later, I'm taking them to see Star Wars.  

It was nice to see Han:


And Leia:


May the Force be with you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Old friends.


I had lunch today with Amy.  She makes me want to run a marathon (kind of) - as she does about 5 or 6 times a year (or more!).    Below, here we were in 1994, all on film and printed paper (and in a tree and I have my Nikon F2 around my neck).  Above, all digital, baby!


South America Cruise

Just came back from our 14-day South America Cruise.  In that cruise, on the high seas, at least 4 people were hospitalized, including one evacuated by a medical helicopter.

Patagonia (part of Argentina and Chile), world renowned "the wild and windy" land, is really windy and chilly.  Trees always hug the ground in order to survive (picture 1).  Picture 2 shows a Chilean glacier. Picture 3 is for a pretty girl with an Argentina hat.  The next picture is us ready for formal nights or evening chic (?) - just like used car vs. pre-owned car.

The rest pictures are on board the ship.  I have to say that Rena is a much better ping pong playing than me.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Weekend habits.


Evil eye.  Studying for Chinese.  We both know it needs to happen.  We both are annoyed.  Life goes on.  Notice Edda has no pants.  "I got no pants!"


Jeremy at IKEA.  Where we buy items that are destined to change our lives.



Sunday night dinner.  Lively conversation!  Loud!  We usually aren't that loud, but this evening we were all punchy.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Happy 15th birthday, Ruby!


It's Ruby's 15th birthday today!!!!!!!!  From her humble beginnings (born in the backseat of a Volvo in Austin, TX), she has triumphed over every suburban dog adversity.  OK, not so many adversities, but she's still triumphant.


(2nd "real" final - Tues.  Chinese.)

To celebrate Ruby's birthday, we roasted a whole leg of lamb for her.  My mother gave us this leg.  I'm not sure where she found it, but we cooked it.  


In the middle of dinner prep, Jeremy sliced a chunk off of his thumb, so Vince picked up the slack and made the mint sauce and carved the leg.


Moving on.


Vince took his first ever "real" final yesterday.  I guess it's "real" because this grade is the first one of the many that will be sent to colleges on his transcript.  Even though he's in middle school, all the courses which are considered high school level get sent on.  We marched through the review packet the night before. I will admit that I got confused with some nomenclature and got turned around and had to google myself math reminders (my poor aging brain, slipping, slipping - 8th grade math, I so want to kick myself).

We tried doing a few minutes before dinner, but he was hungry, the blood sugar was dropping and the frustration level/anxiety was amping up.  I know the kids at school were freaking out and I know I contribute to his anxiety which makes me feel bad.  It's a tough line for me to walk - to encourage hard work and good effort (not best effort, but good effort - best effort to me is unattainable because one could have always, no matter the circumstance, tried harder), but not be focused on the actual grade and not to get freaked out about the possibility of doing badly when you get stuck on a particular witchy problem about Claudia selling headbands at $3.00 a piece and it cost her 59 cents to make each one and how many headbands does she need to sell to make a profit of at least $100.

It's been an uneven term in his math class, the teacher (by all accounts, awesome and fun and had some sort of math/basketball competition going between the girls and boys and the girls were handily winning) had a personal emergency and hasn't been teaching for the past few months.  There have been seven subs in the meantime. I think there is a long-term sub now, but this was the time period where they learned y=mx+b or geometric functions which means they didn't really cover it very well.


Keyla's time with us is up at the end of April.  Keyla's been wonderful.  Our au pair experience has been really great, all these girls, I was their stand-in mother for a little while in their young adult lives.  It went mostly smoothly, it can never be without problems or issues - I like to say every au pair has their one crazy story!  I think she's going to be our last au pair.  We are going to try a new childcare thing.  This makes me scared.  But it'll be OK.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Old things.


All of us tucked sick Edda to sleep last night.  She curled up like a little potato bug and fell right asleep even though she was running a fever and just waiting for the ibuprofen to kick in.  I slept with her last night as it was my turn (Jeremy had done the night before), but she slept deeply and peacefully.  The fever didn't reappear, but we kept her home today...


To plow through tedious things, I employ a simple trick.  I do the tedious thing and then I get a little self selected reward.  In college, I used to reward myself with a 10-minute break of looking at People Magazine (MIT library had a subscription!)  Today, I got to look through some old photos/mementos  So here you go.