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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blogging Book Club

I love books and what is better than cuddling in your favorite blanket or lounging in the summer sun with a great book? I also love reading books that have or will become movies because I like to see my favorite books played out on the big screen and how accurate I think the movie is in relation to the book. A lot of my recommended reads and those on my list to read books like this. Either I saw the movie and found out it was based on a novel or I saw a trailer or I heard gossip about an upcoming move. Funny enough in the case of “The Host” and “The Hunger Games” I just picked them up at the book store and read them before I knew they were going to become movies. I also get some ideas from suggested readings in magazines, radio, shows, Pinterest, or other book clubs. I am open to any and all suggestions so comment and if anyone has read a good book please let me know!
My recommendations are books that I have read recently that I really enjoyed. I have also included a little description of what the book is about and why I liked it.
Hunger games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
If you haven’t heard the hype (you’re living under a rock) this is an amazing series full of suspense and I liked this trilogy because I could not put them down. It is about a futuristic society with a tyrannical government and a suppressed and controlled society. Every year one male and one female (children) are chosen from each district to participate in a televised event called the Hunger Games. The children are put into an arena to fight to the death as an example of the power of the government. Will a young girl start an uprising after being sent to the Hunger Games? 
Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
Another book about a futuristic society set in Chicago where the people are separated into “factions” where they are expected to live a certain and different way in each. If you like a bad ass heroine like in the Hunger Games you will like this book. Unfortunately the third book is not due to be released until fall of next year and the second book leaves you at such a thrilling cliff-hanger I am dying in wait. This trilogy follows a teen who has reached the age at which she will choose her faction and thus choose her fate. In doing so she discovers something in herself that is different from everyone else and must keep it this secret in the face of certain death but this simple task becomes difficult as she is finding it difficult to suppress her uniqueness from others around her.
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy by Steig Larsson
I have never really been into murder mystery novels but I picked up this one before there was talk of a movie because I kept seeing it on the bestsellers shelf everywhere I went. I am so glad I picked it up and found a new love for this genre of books. I could not put this book down and with all my guesses of how the mystery would be solved I was surprised and the conclusion left me with chills. It follows a journalist and a very eccentric woman who is a hacker and private investigator of sorts in which the journalist is contracted to solve a 40 year old mystery that one very wealthy man cannot give up. Soon the girl with the dragon tattoo is also contracted to assist in the case that sends chills up your spine at every new discovery as they get closer and closer to finding the truth along the way uncovering deadly secrets about the wealthy family that has employed the main characters.
The Host by Stephanie Meyer
This Sci-Fi fantasy thriller is a look into the after math of an alien invasion of earth in which the invading alien race has won and has started to settle the planet. These aliens are not able to live without a host body and thus use humans to walk the earth. This story follows one alien as it takes over one woman but cannot suppress her spirit completely. This alien’s job is to seek out the hidden human rebels but in doing so has to fight the limitations of the human body it possesses. Will the woman inside break through and sway the alien to do what is right? This is another book I could not put down and I cannot wait for the movie to release. I also hope that Meyer writes up a sequel to this book since the ending leaves it so open.
The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld
If you like The Hunger Games and Divergent you will like this series. It plays with the same idea of a futuristic society different than our own where a young teen discovers more than they should and get themselves into trouble. In this society children grow up “ugly” until they reach a certain age and are surgically modified to be “pretty” and are moved to the city and enjoy a life of carelessness and parties. Their whole life is influenced by those around them and what the most “popular pretties” are doing. I like this set because I thought it is scary to think how close our society is to this fantasy in that we look to celebrities to see what to wear or what to do. We surgically modify our bodies to look what media has taught us is “pretty.”
So Far From the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Karvashima Watkins
This book is very different from the other books on my recommended list. It has been years since I have last read it but this book had such an impact that I will always remember it. I will try and summarize the best I can from memory. It follows a girl and her family as they have to leave their home at the beginning of the Vietnam War (I think). They must travel from their village to safety in a city at times dressing up like male soldiers so they are not killed and meeting other refugees along the way. The book switches from the girls story to her brothers in the city and how they are desperately trying to find each other. I do remember that the ending made me cry and I do plan to read it again for a third time.

My Reading List: I will not include descriptions of the books I want to read only because it will take far too long. Also as I read and blog I plan to update my list since I am sure I will come across more good books and suggestions.
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
I wanted to read this book because it plays on the same concept as The Hunger Games does.

Girl Who Played with Fire and Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg Larsson
I have read the first book as noted above and have not finished the trilogy because I was interested in other books at the time.

Crossover Trilogy by Joel Shepherd
I have this written down and I do not remember why but I know I wrote it down for a reason.

Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi
I loved the movie Goodfellas and because I loved it so much I have to read the book that inspired it.

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
Again loved the movie and the idea. I know alien invasion is cheesy and overused but I kinda like it.

Devil’s Playground by Jenna Black
Another one I wrote down but don’t know why.

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
Another one I wrote down but don’t know why. But will find out.

Fallen Trilogy by Lauren Kate
A lot of hype and I keep seeing this everywhere. These are tale tale signs of a good book.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
I read the Davinci Code and I enjoyed the movies. I love a little conspiracy theory/history/fantasy book. I also like the book The Marks of Cain by Tom Knox (turns out he has other interesting books I want to include to my reading list) which uses a similar plot using the bible and historic events to solve a mystery about a biblical curse. It has been a while since I have read this book and I do not remember details but I do recommend it.

The Lost Goddess by Tom Knox
The “Lost Goddess” is a modern day tale of Frankenstein and is called the book of the dead in the UK

The Genesis Secret by Tom Knox
Weaves together historical cults and bible puzzles

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahane Smith
Now a movie, this book uses historical event to tell an “untold” fantasy story of the secret life of one of America’s most famous presidents.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
An entertaining movie and I have heard good things about the book. Not on the top of my list but I am interested.
Blood Red Road by Moira Yound
Found on pinterest. Sounds like Hunger Games .

Matched by Ally Condic
Like Divergent and Hunger Games where civilians lives are determined by the government right down to marriage.

Red Riding Quartet (1974) by David Peace
About police corruption, sounded interesting, this is a trilogy

Atonement by Ian McEwan
A girl aspiring to become a writer is forced to run away into the forest where she writes about her adventures.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Now a movie I believe this follows African American house slaves. I hear nothing but good things about it.

The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald
I am only adding his because I saw a trailer for a movie that looked very interesting.

I wanted to do this because I enjoy reading and recently my best friend Cari Shoemaker and I have been reading the same books and I had no idea how much more fun it can be with a friend! She and I will be reading together and we thought it would be fun to blog about our reading adventures. She also has a list of interesting books she wants to read:

The Giver by Lois Lowry
I have read this a while ago and it’s a great book I would like to read again.

Graceling by Kirstin Cashore
The cover looks interesting. I have not looked into what it is about yet.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I keep seeing this everywhere and I do believe it is a series.

Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
Cari told me it is about a nurse who accidently goes back in time to Scotland. Did a little research and turns out to be a series where each book can be read independently and has some of the same characters but not necessarily need to be read in a specific order.

I was going to include cover pictures but that was before this blog post got super long. I have changed my mind since.

I am planning on taking a trip to my local library to see what is available but I will update with our next read if anyone would like to join in. I will also be blogging about each book and give recommendations. I like this idea because I do enjoy re-reading my favorite books and I can easily go over my past recommendations and be reminded about what I enjoyed. Also I know those who read my blog may have some good reads on their mind and I hope they will share them with meJ.

UPDATE: Cari and I plan to start Outlander. I have gotten through half the first chapter so far and I do like it but seems like it could be slow going. MaybeI will post more updates as we get through this one.

New Chapter: Air Guard Update!

So I passed MEPS and it was not as bad as I thought it would be but still different to say the least.
I was told by my recruiter to be there no later than 5:50am, so I left early just in case and got there at 5:30am. No one was there yet so I waited. I was not dressed up but I was also did not look like a hoodlum. It is surprising what some people wear. The kid who arrived after me wore baggy shorts….the paperwork you have to sign before going to MEPS clearly states that you cannot war shorts to MEPS. The mean part of me wished that he would have been sent home. He was allowed to use the clothes that the Air Force Liaison had in his office. Lucky break. When people who worked in the building started showing up I happened to see a person I know. He happens to work part time at the same dealership I work at so he saw that I was waiting and told me to give him my paperwork so he could get started. Just so happened he is the Air Force Liaison. Once inside we were told to go straight to our branches office and get our paperwork and name tags. I was polite and said “thank you sir” when I received my name tag and my coworker said to me “are you out of your mind? You don’t have to call me sir.” When another kid heard this he said “O cool, this isn’t so bad” so then the Liaison turned to him and said “I don’t know you! You still have to call me sir!” I couldn’t help but smirk.
Next we are sent to a conference room for the briefing on what the day has in store for us all. And to fill out more paperwork. The first brief was over the behavior and conduct that is expected of us that day. The next briefing was much longer and was 100% medical. All the medical paperwork we did with our recruiter was pretty much thrown out the window and everything had to be redone. I consider myself a very healthy person and have not had many issues medical wise in the past. I did have to write down some things but nothing as major as the top disqualifying medical conditions. Once this was all done we were all sent down to medical where we take a variety of tests. Our eyes and ears were tested, our blood and urine was taken for testing, and we had a medical interview where our answers in our paper were clarified and the doctor wrote her own notes and I had to sign stating everything was correct and true. After all of this was done the men and women were separated and we were to do flexibility type exercises so the doctor could check to make sure all our joints were working. Finally one by one we were brought in for a physical, much like a sports physical you get when in school. I have heard horror stories but it was not bad at all. After this my doctor clarifies with more questions, most repetitive to make sure, and we sign the paperwork again. Then she shook my hand and said I guess this means you are in the Air Force, congrats you passed. What a relief!
This was all in a 6 hour day. O and we were given free lunch and it was not bad.
Now my next step in the process is picking a job. My interests lie in medical and I told my recruiter that is what I want. So my recruiter set up an appointment for me to go talk to the medical group on base. I visited the medical group mid afternoon Tuesday and met the chief and the first thing she says to me is that she has never had a person turn down a med tech job once she has talked to them and given them the tour. Here are the highlights of that afternoon:
·         In the entire medical group there are only 50 people including civilians which means a tightly knit group where everyone knows everyone and it is like a family.
·         During drill weekend my job as a medical tech ranges anywhere from organizing and completing medical records to taking blood and giving shots. The medical group works outside the hospital and is in charge of making sure our airmen are up to date on all test and shots so they are fit for duty. Here are some interesting examples of what can happen:
o   When a squadron is slotted to deploy I and other med techs will visit them and take blood and give necessary shots so that they can deploy.
o   Certain jobs hold high standards which means that pilots for example will visit the med group for sight and hearing tests.
o   When we are not taking blood, giving tests, or giving shots we are training.
·         During the tour I got to see the bathroom that is very new and has showers and lockers! Perfect if I want to visit the gym. I also saw the break room and was told that on drill weekend I will not have to worry about bringing sack lunch or spending money on take out because they have bbqs and cookouts. That is cool!
·         Since I will be going to school as well and my goal is to get my RN once I do receive it I will have close ties with the commander who has the power to get me into the main hospital as a full time civilian nurse while I wait for a commission nurse slot.
·         Also, because the position I am interested in is so desirable there are no slots available which means the chief has to double slot me with someone already there. How is this possible? Well either I or that other person has to be leaving in two years or sign a form saying if there is not another slot open in two years, he/she will get their 5 level and become an SME.
o   I would be that person signing for an SME if the chief cannot find a more permanent slot. Well what does SME mean? It is the most exciting job available without being deployable into a warzone. SME stands for Squadron Medical Element which means that I am assigned to a squadron as their medical tech and being so I am in charge of making sure they are giving the medical they need. Sometimes this means prescribing medications or exams and if it gets heavier than that I am to make sure they get the proper medical attention. I am also deployable but only if I choose to. Being Air Guard I can choose not to deploy because of school, my civilian job, or family. But I do have first choice if the deployment is somewhere awesome for a few weeks like Australia, Guam, Germany, or Puerto Rico! These small deployments can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months and are rarely any longer than 6 months. I talked to a previous SME on Tuesday and she was an SME for 3 years and her longest deployment was 5 months.
·         Air Guard means being a weekend warrior. I work one week a month and two weeks out of the year. Next year if I am in by then the medical group is going to Hawaii for their two weeks! What really caught my attention about the two weeks active was that the medical group goes on humanitarian missions. This means that they will travel to underprivileged communities and give medical care to those who could not afford it or do not normally have access to it.
·         The medical group is diverse and I will receive experience in not only basic nurse duties but dental assisting and optometry. The medical group has exam rooms, a dental room, and an optometry office. Pretty awesome! What I love most about this job is the experience I will not get anywhere else and that I can take with me anywhere I go in the medical field.

With all that being said I was a little nervous before Tuesday but I am nothing but excited now. I want this badly and for the first time I feel like I am sure about something I want to do. Up until now I have just gone with my available experience for jobs and gone to school when I can. I finally feel successful and I haven’t even started! The road will be tough, I know that, but nothing that is worth it in life is easy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tea, books, and the military

When I add up how much time I spend at work, time I spend sleeping, and compare this to the “free time” I should have, on paper it looks like I have a life. Why do I feel like I am always going? Not that I don’t like it, I love being busy and I cannot stand doing nothing. I have a lot that I want to do and goals I want to reach but sometimes I just have to find the right approach.
I hate the word diet and society has mixed this word with scam, failure, impossible, difficult and so when trying any kind of “diet” there is already a sense of lost hope. Not very motivating I know. Instead of a “diet” I want to eat healthier and better for myself. To me this means making better choices like picking low-fat or fat free options, sugar free, whole grain, etc. This seems a lot easier than a strict “diet.” I have been receiving Fitness magazines in the mail since October of last year and really haven’t looked through them at all. I sat down last weekend and went through each issue circling ideas and ear-marking workout routines and recipes. I found a lot of yummy looking recipes that I want to try. I also learned in this Fitness magazine that you shouldn’t use protein powder in your smoothies or anything unless you are like training for the Olympics! Instead use peanut butter, interesting!
I try to do some kind of exercise every day even if it is 20mins of strength training my philosophy is “something is better than nothing!” My job takes a lot out o me and when I get home all I want to do is lounge on the couch and watch “Raising Hope” or “Dexter” but when I feel this way all I need to do to is to tell myself that running only takes 15mins or the p90x ab workout is under 20mins. I know if I want to get buff or skinny or whatever I need to do more but I am not unhappy with my body, there is just areas I want to work on and when I have more time or when I am up to it I will do longer workouts. Once it becomes difficult or almost impossible is when I fall off the wagon so to me there is nothing wrong with baby steps.
I love tea, especially during my special week or when I am sick. It is great for you and there are some interesting and tasty teas out there. I am a sucker for sweet tea and normally the sweet tea I get is super packed with sugar so I need to find a way around that one…. My favorite is oolong loose tea. I bought a lot of this tea while living in New York from a Chinese grocery store. I just don’t have a strainer for the loose tea when it is done. I like oolong tea because I enjoy the taste and sometimes I do not have to add sugar or any other sweetener. There are two places that I would like to visit to pick up some teas. One such place is called New Sagaya Market which has a lot of fresh and organic foods and a whole wall full of loose teas!! I will have to pick of a can or two and try them out. Another store I found is actually completely dedicated to tea. It is located in the 5th avenue mall here in anchorage and it is called Teavanna. They have samples for you to try if you visit and while I was there I tried a peach tea, normally I am not a fan of peach but this was yummy! They also have these tea balls that when submerged in hot water they unravel and bloom into a flower! I just need a clear glass tea pot. This set up would be perfect for when guest are over.
Air Guard Update! I know I have been back and forth on this life changing decision and most of the time I would have kept something like this to myself until it is definite. It is not something I want to jump into either and that is why I have been taking my time. A few weeks ago I was not feeling the support at all and sort of fell out of it to try and see if scholarships or grants were possible for school. Unfortunately my circumstances are not ideal for a lot of scholarships and after giving this much thought and speaking with Zeke over the idea I have weighed that the benefits are worth the costs and I have the full and overwhelming support of my husband which gave me the push I needed all along to go to MEPS. I go this Tuesday which will be a long day starting at 4am to get ready and into town by 5:30am. I am really not supposed to be there until 5:50am but I am not taking any chances with how far I have to drive into town. I am incredibly nervous to say the least and I pray it all goes well. After MEPS I get to decide on my job. I want to look at all my options as well as do my research and speak to those on the job. I am considering the relevancy to my desired field: medical, as well as how much this job may deploy. These are the top two things I am looking for. Again…So nervous! But extremely excited!
Just rounding up the last book of the Hunger Games trilogy and I have to say so far they have all been exciting. My favorite is the second book but I am not finished yet. I have heard bad things about the third and at this point in the book anything could happen and every time I turn the page I am surprised. I have a list of books to read next: Kill Switch, Battle Royale, Wiseguy, Girl who Played with Fire, Fallen series, Divergent trilogy. I may start with the Girl who Played with Fire since I have read and seen the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I enjoyed it. I never liked murder mystery but I think I may be getting into it.

Laugh of the Day: Youtube search “the Lonely Island: Great Day”

O yeah I almost forgot. Thanks to (my bestie) I am now journaling. Like my blogs I do not write in it often but I am getting the hang of it and like in Cari’s blog there is so much you can write in a journal that you cannot put on a public blog. Makes things so personal and maybe someday my children can read them and be horrified ;p.