Friday, July 30, 2010

Intern Spotted: Lady Gaga Parody

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Another future Mr. Jen of co-worker Mark. 
Thanks Mark - I'll get right on it!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Save The Ta Tas

Johnnie, Angie, Jen
Walking the Mall during the summer can make me feel like one of those tourists that have slowly become as much a nuisance as those afternoon flash floods.

But thanks to Team Neighborworks - we've made it a tradition every June to lace up our tennis and strut for the Ta Tas at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Susan G. Coleman Race For The Cure

Top that Saturday morning sleeper-inners. (And yes Johnnie I did cheat a little bit - but I don't see the point in sitting in traffic - even if it's for a good cause.)

It doesn't hurt that we follow up our morning of exercise with a Bloody Mary and eggs Chesapeake at Clyde's. (also part of the tradition)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Totally Booked: Threes and Fours

I've been racking up some frequent flier miles and burning through my reading list this month. Wahoo! Here are a few more:

Wahine Take on:
The Rule of Four, by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

Straight from the fan club of Dan Brown, we've got another cult meets academia suspense book. I know it was a Da Vinci Code knock off but I couldn't resist a thriller where historical research plays as much a role in the plot as the characters.  "The delicious futility of impossible tasks is the catnip of overachievers," the author quips. How much fun is that!

Rule of Four follows four Princeton undergrads wrapping up their college career as they try to crack a 500 year old puzzle: The Hypnerotomachia, a book published during the Renaissance (in real life), that holds an ancient secret. All this Sherlock Holmes-ian drama sparked by an on-campus murder.

I wouldn't mark it as the next classic but it's deliciously rich with riddles and twists making it a fun summer read, especially for the nerd crew.

Wahine Take on:
Three Cups Of Tea
And of course it couldn't be helped...a nonfiction had to be thrown into the mix. This book came highly recommended to me by at least three different people, ahem, Adam, so I borrowed (stole) it from my sister.

You don't have to be an international affairs guru to appreciate this story (but it certainly tickles those of us who do). Greg Mortenson may have failed at climbing K2 (the second tallest mountain in the world) but it wouldn't shock me if he took home a Nobel Peace Prize in the next decade. An admirer of his organization likened his efforts to the firefighters of 9/11. He says, "This guy Greg quietly, doggedly heading back into a war zone to do battle with the real causes of terror is every bit as heroic as those firemen running up the stairs of the burning towers while everyone else was frantically trying to get out."

After nearly killing himself on his mission to climb to the summit, he was stumbled into a rural village in Pakistan ten years ago. The locals adopted the infidel, nursing him back to health. To repay them, he promised to build them the school they so desperately needed. Eighty schools, two countries, a war, and a decade later, Mortenson is still on his mission to bring education to the farthest, most war torn parts of the globe. But it all comes down to building relationships long before breaking ground, relationships based on trust, established over many cups of tea.

The lessons he shares, I believe, hold the key to solving the War on Terror. We have the most sophisticated tools, the strongest and brightest (I know, my brother is one of them) fighting tirelessly. But he says, "I've learned that terror doesn't happen because some group of people somewhere like Pakistan or Afghanistan simply decide to hate us. It happens because children aren't being offered a bright enough future that they have a reason to live." We are going to have to help make that future - and it's going to have to be in the form of education.

His story is inspiring, a few times I caught myself figuring out how I swing a trip out to help him - only to remind myself I'd be more of a liability than an asset. (SHOCKER). If don't have this book in your it! 7% of the proceeds go to his effort. And if you're in the DC area - he will be visiting promoting the sequel in September!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Totally Booked: Sarah's Key and The Help

Last night we rallied for our "book" club, meeting at Palena in Cleveland Park. I put book in quotes because we really meet for dinner but carve out about 5 minutes to talk about the month's selection - and then it's back to girl talk.

What's neat about Palena is that they've divided the menu up into their pre-fix dinner menu or their a la carte cafe menu for whatever your spending bracket is. Very cool. And although I was craving my Italian go-to gnocchi - I wasn't hungry enough for three courses, so I went with the hand cut Pece with bolognese - a little salty but delicious. Just as good as the food what the atmosphere. Sitting across from the bar in cozy little booths we chatted about Sarah's Key, but ultimately the conversation came back to The Help.

Wahine Take On:
Sarah's Key
, by Tatiana de Rosnay

Although a powerful plot, the writing itself left something to be desired. The book is a compilation of two totally different stories, set sixty years apart that chapter by chapter become related. The first is a story of a little Parisian girl and her family who suffer horrible atrocities during the round up by the French police during the occupation named the Vel d'Hif after the stadium the innocents were locked in before being shipped to Auschwitz . During the police sweep, Sarah, a ten-year-old Jewish girl, hides her baby brother inside a locked cupboard to protect him from the sweeps, not realizing the family would never return.

Fast forward 60 years, we follow an American journalist living in Paris with her husband and daughter, who is assigned to cover the Vel d'Hif anniversary. But her investigations lead her to discover Sarah's story, and just how close to home her story hits. Her discovery changes her completely, and ultimatly becomes a wedge between her and her husband.

I loved Sarah's story, and I thought it was strong enough to stand on it's own as a short story. My major issue was with the second half about Julia. In taking the voice of Julia, the author seems to have completely lost her ability to write. There is nothing more condescending then having a writer try to tell you how you're supposed to feel about conflict. Just tell me what happened and if you've done your job - I will organically feel the same way about it as you do. She waists paragraphs on useless angst and unfortunately that was a deal breaker for me.

Wahine Take on:
The Help
, by Kathryn Stockett

Now here is some superior writing. I would let you borrow, but I think you need a copy for yourself. This book is going in the Wahine library.

Like Sarah's Key, it is several narratives woven together, only in this case they are contemporary. Set in Mississippi against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, two maids and one young privileged debutant share a common mission - to secretly gather and publish the testimonials of the help. But the larger story here is how life on both sides of the racial divide in Jackson is intertwine.

"Wasn't that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not much that separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought, " author Kathryn Stockett asks in her acknowledgments.

Unlike Sarah's Key, the words don't get in the way of this powerful story and if you read only one bestseller this year - this should be it.  It lives up to the hype.

Preaching To The Choir

Our new super news girl Amanda at WMAL forwarded me this snapshot of life on the Vampire shift in a newsroom. TVnewsgrapevine hit the nail on the head. We certainly are a special breed!

Morning shows: The Vampire Diaries

Recently a client was being considered for a morning show. This person had never worked the morning show and asked what it was like.

So, for those of you who have never worked the vampire shift and might run into this situation, I thought I'd give you a taste of what life is like as a nocturnal creature.

Being a night person, I always dreaded filling in on the morning show. At one point in my career we were shorthanded, and I had to do it for two months. After that I vowed I would never, ever consider a job as a morning anchor or reporter. (By the way, those of you who are offered morning reporter jobs should know that you'll NEVER get to do a good package. You'll just chase the scanner all night and do follow-ups. It may be the worst reporting gig in all of television.)

Anyway, here's a typical week:

-Monday thru Friday: The alarm goes off around two or three in the morning. If you have a significant other, this person gets a rude awakening, mutters something unintelligible, and goes back to sleep.

You stagger off to the bathroom and hope a shower wakes you up. (If you're a guy, you discover that trying to shave with one eye open leaves you looking as though you've gone ten rounds with an angry cat, so you start shaving before you go to bed.)

After getting dressed, you drink coffee and try to decide if you should eat breakfast. You really don't want breakfast, but you think you'd better eat something or you'll run out of gas by the time the newscast starts. (Thus the "morning show weight gain syndrome" begins.)

You chase the raccoons away from your car and head to the station. Oh, if you live in a cold climate, you'll have to either shovel the driveway (you don't dare crank up the snow blower and wake the neighbors), scrape your windshield, or both. What fun!

You notice birds are flying around in the middle of the night. Oh, wait. Those are bats. You wave at them. Professional courtesy.

After arriving at the station you discover your muse doesn't work nights and you try to write intelligent copy as you drink more coffee. Your co-anchor checks your copy and informs you that Reagan is no longer the President and is dead, to boot. If you're a weather person, you try to remember what state you're living in and note that all your weather cam shots are pitch dark. You start to get hungry again... didn't you already have breakfast? Or is there another name for meals eaten at three in the morning?

You notice you have put on two different colored socks, your shoes don't match, or both.

After the newscast you have to deal with those pesky cut-ins for a few hours. Staffers start to drift in, looking refreshed after a good night's sleep.

After cut-ins you're hungry again, so you eat breakfast for the second time. And if you work for one of those stations still crazy enough to run a noon show, you have to prepare another newscast so you drink more coffee.

So maybe you're home by one in the afternoon. You're dog tired, but do you take a nap now? You curse the fact that you don't have dark curtains. And if you take a nap, you might not be able to go to bed by seven and end up staring at the ceiling till eleven and getting three hours sleep. Your option is to fight to stay awake all day. Oh, yeah, it's time to eat again.

Around six your other half arrives home and is ready to eat dinner. This is now your fourth or fifth meal of the day.

Now you have to go to bed at seven. Nice social life, huh? You turn in, but you've still got too much caffeine in your system even though you're exhausted. You toss and turn till nine.

Saturday: You relish the thought of "sleeping in" but your body clock is so screwed up you wake up at five. Your other half mutters something unintelligible and goes back to sleep. Hmmmm. Time for breakfast.

Your other half sleeps in and gets up at 9, wanting to go out to breakfast. What the heck, you eat breakfast again.

If you're a guy you decide to play golf with some friends, as you need sunshine. By the third hole you need a nap and are so out of it you use your putter to tee off.

Then it's Saturday night, so it's time to go out with your other half and friends. You start yawning at seven o'clock and fall asleep in the movie theater during the coming attractions.

Sunday: Ah, now you've got this "sleeping in" stuff down cold. You wake up at a quarter to six! Your other half mutters something unintelligible and goes back to sleep. You eat breakfast for the 14th time this week.

Sunday afternoon you start to feel normal. You enjoy Sunday dinner... or is it lunch?

Late Sunday afternoon fear hits you in the face like a cold bucket of water. You have to fall asleep soon! But your body clock is messed up again! You go to bed at seven. You finally fall asleep by nine and get about five hours of sleep. Except when your other half crawls into bed at ten and wakes you up. You mutter something unintelligible and stare at the ceiling for thirty minutes trying to fall asleep again.

One Month Later: You're now eating 22 breakfasts each week and have a box of Count Chocula stashed under the anchor desk for times you need a sugar rush. As you put on a pair of pants, the button gives way, ricochets off the mirror and hits you in the face. You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

There are those who love morning shows, and more power to them. They always argue that "you can get things done during the day!" (That's right, they think grocery stores are not open after six.) So people on a normal shift might actually have to shop until seven. The horror!

But if you aren't a morning person, think long and hard before even considering a shift like this. Your life will be dominated by the thought of going to sleep. You'll have absolutely no social life. Your friends will stop calling because they don't want to wake you up. You'll age two years in six months.

But you will discover the incredible number of choices in the cereal aisle.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Update on Momma Kim

Just landed this morning back in DC and I wanted to get everyone updated before I head to Florida for a convention this afternoon.

Dad is doing better. As expected we were all hurting pretty badly last week and although we are spread out all over the world, we are no strangers to airports. I flew in Friday and our stepbrother Jeff drove in from Tennessee Friday night. Carly flew in from Taiwan on Saturday and Ben flew in from Nevada on Monday. Having the kids around him was as much a relief as it was a distraction and with a little airplane-spoon feeding and downright bullying we were able to get some food into the old man. He still refuses to sleep in their bed. 

Family is good medicine - (write that down.) Something about the five of us kids together breeds mischief and gigglefits regardless of how deep the wounds are. I love a good from-the-other-side story but the reporter in me is trying to keep it objective. Whichever side of the fence you fall on Kim was with us the whole weekend too (ask dad about the spooky light bulb and the cell phone).

I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support - from the phone calls (even the 2 minute ones), to the emails, facebook messages, and flowers. They helped Dad immensely and me get through the day. When someone is taken away, its such a lovely reminder of who is still here.

As far as between creating avatars on Wii and chronic redboxing in our pajamas, we were able to sneak in a little local Nawlins fare, backyard fireworks (Carly and I were severely outnumbered on the bro-mance bonding idea), and a quick (ghost) tour of the French Quarter as navigated by our own personal guide (who clearly had enough time on his hands over the last year to catch up on his ghost history).

We were also able to wrestle some details from the powers that be. I know there have been some rumors circulating but the final diagnosis on Momma Kim was congestive heart failure. The pathologist called it a textbook case - she had edema of the lungs and an enlarged heart. Grandpa Beck said it best, "we're not surprised that the doctor found her heart was just too big."

Thanks also to everyone for getting the ball rolling - Dad and Jeff are going up today to pick her up from Hadesburg, Mississippi and Jeff is flying out with her to San Diego tonight. Tomorrow Dad, Ben, Carly, Kyle, Kiana, and baby Madison are flying to San Diego. Tentatively the ceremony is set for Friday July 16 with a wake to follow. The Becks/Estes/Richers will be making those arrangements this Friday so stay tuned. I will be flying in Wednesday (14th) at night.

Also, the idea has been floated to ask for donations instead of flowers for San Diego Hospice (not Dad's Harley fund), as it was a cause Kim really championed while going through Grandma's illness. I will also keep you posted on that. I know the family is working on a page as well as an online memorial.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Not even 14 hours ago, Momma Kim, the best thing that ever happened to Daddy, passed away suddenly. It was unexpected, and no one is to blame. But her fan club is still in shock. We will have more details later today when I arrive in New Orleans today.

Honeygrams is one of those rare, strong, angels I instantly loved. I often quipped with Dad - "Don't you mess this up...because we are taking her in the divorce." Hardly appropriate now but that would send the two of them into fits of giggles. The way they love each other - you'd think they were childhood sweethearts. And maybe they were in another life. She is far to wise for one lifetime. 

Although we Richers only got a brief time with her - she changed all of us. Momma Kim - There are no words to describe how much you are loved and how much you will be missed. You left your mark on all of us.

As the girl usually scrambling to find the nearest foot to shove in my mouth (hence the blog), ironically,  I am coming up short finding the right words. They will come, but in the mean time I'm going to borrow from you all.

Aunti Jo's email late last night: (Thank you Jo) 
Jen just called.  On a trip home from moving her son, she and Matt and Kyle were almost back to New Orleans and she died suddenly about 4 p.m. this afternoon East coast time.  The causes are not yet known.  Jen will be in New Orleans tomorrow.  Stay tuned for more information.  Presence and support of family is going to be very important.  He and Kim were very happy together; Kyle said she was his right hand, always there when he needed her.  Now Matt needs us and Kyle needs another right hand. 

Daddy: Thank you to all that have been such wonderful fiends to Kim over the years. At this point I just want to express to one and all: Love all for there may not be a tomorrow. Take each day as the gift that it is and share it with the ones you love as Kim has showed us. You will never know the depths of the void one leaves until they are no longer with us. Oh how I miss you already Kim I love you.

Kim was one of my best friends in highschool and I just before she moved reconnected with her as we shared memories of our past I realized how much I had missed her and now she is gone. I will always hold her close in my heart, my prayers are with her family and friends. RIP Melony

I miss you so much Kim! I've just read your page and girl, you are loved. You have so many wonderful friends that have said so many wonderul things about you. You truly will be missed, Kim! I'm so glad that Matt found you, "the girl of his dreams", and I'm glad that we got to be as close as we are. Remember... we get y...ou in the divorce. lol Say Hi to mom for us! Keep an eye on Matt, he's gonna need it. Love you always! - Sue Babes

Eternal rest grant her, oh Lord. Let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul rest in peace through the mercy of God. Amen. - Aunti Steph

I'm stunned to hear this news. My prayers and thoughts are with Kim's family. She was clearly a woman who put her family and friends first. A huge loss. - Julie M.

Kim, we have been friends since grade school, and were just getting back in touch after so many years. I am so saddened... you will forever be in my thoughts and in my heart. - Laurie S.

I am sorry to announce that my BEST FRIEND IN THE WHOLE WORLD passed away 3 hours ago. I love you Kim! I will miss you so much! -Yvette

Hawaiians traditionally return their leis to the sea as the flowers die as a form of renewal... Take care...John