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Denver Trip Report

NoVA Travelers spent the last weekend in August in the Colorado Rockies. We hopped on the plane to Denver Friday night and settled into the Curtis hotel in the heart of downtown to get a good night's rest before we embarked on two full days in the outdoors. This was the 5th upgrade in a row for me on the Delta flight, so in keeping with my gift policy to the group I gave it away to one of the members who sat in first class in my place while I sat back in coach.

Sat morning we stopped off at a well known cajun café (Lucile's - 275 S Logan St) in Denver for breakfast on our drive out to Red Rocks State Park. The food was good, and the homemade biscuits were massive (very tasty smothered in spiced country gravy).

Arriving at Red Rocks we found that it was a special event day- some sort of hippie fest basically. This meant that in between our scenic hikes we were treated to seeing a lot of stoned college students peeing in the brush. Just an additional entertainment factor for us…

Boston Trip Report

The fourth weekend in August NoVA Travelers hosted a two-day Beantown tour, focused on the history and cultural attractions of Boston.

We flew to Boston on Saturday morning and made our way to our fabulous hotel - the Nine Zero. The hotel is literally on the path of the Freedom Trail so we had easy access to all the historic attractions we planned to visit.

Once we checked in, we meandered our way along the Freedom trail, visiting The Boston Common, The State House, Park Street Church, Granary Burying Ground, King's Chapel, King's Chapel Burying Ground,
Benjamin Franklin Statue/Boston Latin School, Old Corner Book Store, Old South Meeting House, Old State House, Site of the Boston Massacre, and Faneuil Hall. Leilani served as our trip photographer, snapping photos along the way. She's posted many of them on facebook, so if you happen to be a member there, just friend me (http://www.facebook.com/jenniparks) and I'll point you to the Boston album. It was really fascinatin…

Las Vegas Trip Report

NoVA Travelers made it to Vegas in October!

We arrived in Vegas the first Friday night in October just after 11pm and made our way over to Caesar's via airport shuttle. We checked in, having booked a simple classic room and with a smile and little persuasion were upgraded to one of the 1200 square foot executive suites. Last time we came to Vegas we were successfully upgraded to a bigger beautiful room than originally booked, but never anything this amazing before. I guess I am honing my persuasive skills each time. Our suite had a beautiful marble foyer, a baby grand piano in one of the main sitting areas (there are 3 separate sitting areas, a wet bar, a dining area, a master bedroom and 2 marble bathrooms with separate glass enclosed showers, tubs, and WC with bidets. We were very satisfied with our accommodations to say the least. After check in, we were hungry so we grabbed a quick bite at Augustus Cafe and then headed back to the suite to sleep.

Saturday morning we had a rough …

Maine Lighthouse Tour Trip Report

The second week in Maine NoVA Travelers hosted a scenic lighthouse tour. I had not been up through Maine in roughly 10 years so it was really refreshing to lead the group on this trip.

The plan was to fly to Boston on a Friday afternoon and rent a car for our adventures and everything fell into place as it should. Since there were only a couple of members that signed up for this particular trip, I was able to insert a slight detour on the way up to Maine to stop for dinner with a college friend of mine. She was very gracious (Thanks Helen if you're reading this) and her enthusiasm for …well for just about everything…is infectious and joyful. She steered us to a great dinner spot and we had a lovely time.

Once dinner was over, we said our goodbyes, and headed for Camden - the furthest point on our itinerary. We made it to the Whitehall Inn (http://www.whitehall-inn.com/) pretty late and found our room keys waiting for us at the check-in desk. This inn gained its fame through mult…

NYC Trip Report

The first weekend in August NoVA Travelers sauntered off to NYC for a Broadway weekend. These short weekend jaunts to NYC have proved popular with the group and I always love spending time in the city myself.

We stayed at the 70 Park Avenue, a Kimpton property that is fast becoming one of my favorite hotels. What I love about this hotel chain is how special they make guests feel. They greet us by name, they give us a gift from the minibar everytime we stay, and they throw in freebies now and then like a full breakfast when we've had a rough day. Pretty good treatment for a customer that has averaged less than 10 stays in my first year with them. At the big chains like Hilton or Marriott you're a nobody until you've stayed 30 times. Because of this I will give Kimpton all of my business (and of course the travel group's business) whenever they have a property available in the city I happen to be traveling to. Here's a link if you're interested in learning more:…

List of Upcoming Trips

For anyone interested in joining my travel members (or if you're just interested in where I'm going), and for those who may not have had a chance to check out the full meetup calendar of upcoming trips (at http://www.meetup.com/NoVA-Travelers/calendar/list/), here is our listing of all currently scheduled upcoming trips. Find the one that peaks your interest and sign up to join us! Spaces are limited.

Nov 14 6:00 AM Historical Philly Tour
http://www.meetup.com/NoVA-Travelers/calendar/11635555

Nov 19 7:00 PM Thanksgiving Holiday in Greece 2009
http://www.meetup.com/NoVA-Travelers/calendar/8467503

Dec 3 12:00 PM Budget Weekend in San Francisco
http://www.meetup.com/NoVA-Travelers/calendar/11466810

Dec 10 5:00 PM Aspen Winter/Ski Retreat
http://www.meetup.com/NoVA-Travelers/calendar/11277267

Dec 20 6:00 AM NYC Christmas Spectacular
http://www.meetup.com/NoVA-Travelers/calendar/11582005

Jan 2 2010 1:00 PM Turn over a new leaf dinner party at Jenni's
http://www.meetup.com/NoVA-Travelers/…

John Bradshaw

Notes from John Bradshaw's book RECLAIMING VIRTURE:

Prudence is key-

To be brave rather than cowardly or ruthless
To be just rather than dishonest or legalistic
To be self-controlled rather than compulsively controlling or impulsively out of control
To be compassionate to others suffering rather than being self-absorbed or enabled others by overdoing for them


Moral Totalism<Prudence (the mean)> Subjective Relativism

Southwest Trip 2009

Our major vacation this summer was a 10 day trip to the southwestern United States to visit family, see some great national parks and take a breather weekend in Vegas. Because having this much fun all by ourselves would be selfish we of course invited our favorite couple along- Dani and Clayton. None of us were sure we could handle 10 straight days of each other's constant companionship but it actually worked out perfectly. D&C were the best traveling companions we've ever had.

To start the trip, we hopped on a Delta plane and flew to El Paso, TX where Jon's parents picked us up. This was on a Friday, and we spent the entire weekend with them doing our usual NM activities (which mostly consists of eating excellent Mexican food).

Over the weekend Jon and his dad took Dani and Clayton out to the desert for off roading with the jeep and I made time another afternoon to go to the wedding of *my* flower girl Katherine. Hard to believe she's all grown up and getting mar…

Summer Song

Summer has come and in two days will be gone. The time passed so quickly as we carried on with our adventures.

There has been a lot of family events since the summer began. Jon's brother Jeff and his family transferred from Yorktown, VA [about 2.5 hours from us] across the country to Colorado Springs. They had transferred [Jeff's in the Air Force] here about 3 months after we moved to the DC metro area and it had been so nice to have them nearby so that we could visit often and watch our nieces grow. Hopefully we will still make it out to see them at least once a year in their new location. My sister Suzie came down from Detroit in April to stay with us for an extended visit, returning home in the beginning of July. My oldest sister Sonia dropped in unexpectedly from NY as well, staying with us for a little over a month before she headed down to visit her daughter in N.C. She has now returned to the DC area and is living with my parents until further notice. My sister Alix drov…

Notes on Stock Picking

Jenni's strategy on picking great stocks:

beta greater than 1 is risky (good for under 45 years old)

Look for growth stocks (if you're under 45)

eps=1.50 or higher

Small cap - 5% of portfolio or so. Look for $7/share or greater, 25% growth in sales and earnings, net profit margin >7%

Net income/shares=earnings per share (EPS)

Share price/Eps= Price equity ratio
low Pe= good by (or could mean bad news is looming ahead)
Stock screen: p/e less than 30


PE/EPS expected growth % 1 yr= PEG <1=good buy 1=1 fair >1=overpriced
-use to evaluate growth stocks

PE/EPS expected growth 5 year=YPEG <1=good buy 1=1 fair >1=overpriced
-use to evaluate regular stocks

REVENUE value:
Price Sales Ratio = PSR
(Shares outstanding * share price + debt)/revenues over past 4 quarters= PSR
-the lower the psr the better

Shareholder equity/# shares outstanding = book value
-the closer you can buy to or lower than book value, the better

Shareholders equity/net profit= ROE (return on equity)
-the higher…

On Selflessness

Everything is about me - about what I want or, when I'm "trying" to be selfless it's to please God or others so he (or they) will love me. Not often out of a sense of gratitude and love for God am I joyfully spurred to love those he loves but instead a deep insecurity that God does not love me because I'm not good enough and a never ending drive to gain his love and approval.

Have I ever *really* loved anyone selflessly, unconcerned with earning approval (by God or man) or filling the emptiness in my heart? Rarely. Only at chance moments with my husband, with my friends, with our dogs, and even with celebrity strangers that I pray for. Usually it comes about paired with pity or empathy when I sense one is victimized or hurting in some way and my heart yearns to comfort them and there seems to be no trace of selfishness in those moments.

How do I move past this now that I am aware? (And I am only aware of it this week due to a thoughtful question posed by our Mond…

Myrtle Beach 2009

First weekend in June I took the Travel group to Myrtle Beach for a relaxing weekend. It was an empty itinerary to be populated as everyone saw fit- swimming, relaxing in the pool, etc. It went as planned except that we could never find the restaurants we wanted to (stupid GPS), a blind man literally smash-walked into our rental car on my side (he missed the crosswalk by about 5 feet), and my fellow attendee got the shock of learning her boss passed away suddenly while we were in MB as folks from the office called her to ask where he could be. We also learned that North Myrtle Beach is the shagging capital of the world (apparently it's a dance of some kind?!).

Definitely a weekend I will not forget.

Pics or it didn't happen:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=123957&id=603259739&l=0ab5a5d3cb

Rome, Italy 2009

As I mentioned previously, the weekend of May 15th, I took a mileage run to Rome and brought a friend along from the travel meetup (http://www.meetup.com/nova-travelers).

It was simply phenomenal. Not only a cultural journey but a spiritual one as well.

All the pics are here in these two albums and I suggest you open them up in a separate window to peruse while reading along:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=123915&id=603259739&l=48578dc285

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=123942&id=603259739&l=8a0ce6e112

All the videos are here (look for the 4 labeled Rome):
http://www.youtube.com/jenniparks


We set off for Rome on Friday evening, arriving in the city Sat morning. This gave us 2 full days (Sat and Sun) in the streets of Rome before heading back to the States Monday afternoon. I know many of you think it's crazy to spend just a weekend overseas but my philosophy is solid. I can go to bed Fri night in my own bed like the rest of you go to sleep in your beds and…

May Roundup

I blink and it's July. Not exactly sure how that happened. I believe we left off in our tale of The Amazing Adventures of Jenni at April and the Hawaii trip. Seems so long ago now.

While I was in Hawaii my man of steel (Jonathan) and my sweet sister Suzie worked diligently alongside our friends Dani and Clayton to renovate our backyard, staining the deck and fence. This was all under the guise of making our outdoor area shine for the Today show taping. Ahh yes, did you know I was supposed to be on the today show? They were going to do a segment on the rise in popularity of supper clubs in the down economy and just when we had everything tentatively scheduled swine flu took over the headlines and out the window went the proposed fluff piece. I didn't even get my 15 minutes of fame. :( At least I got a nicely stained deck and fence though right?

The first weekend in May I actually stayed home (shocking!) and got my left arm looked at by a local doctor that Saturday. (Sunday I too…

Hawaii

The last weekend in April I took a long weekend in Hawaii on the island of O'ahu for the fun of it. Really it was a combination of mile run (Hawaii was on sale with Delta/NW), group trip for my travel meetup (http://www.meetup.com/nova-travelers), and adventure trip to explore new territory.

Jon opted to stay home for this one, so it was just myself and another friend Jeanette. The flights to Hawaii were rather uneventful except that of course I can now saw I have flown over the Pacific ocean. Another box to check off the list… We popped in and out of the Delta Sky Clubs in the airports along the way and that was a nice respite from the noise of the gates. I did meet a really nice couple on the plane who were also mile runners. They were the really ambitious type too, having gone to Asia recently for dinner! They didn't know anything about the mile runner's site flyertalk.com so I explained to them all about our little group online and they were thrilled to discover they…

Self-Discipline

I'm 33. I've been overweight all my life with the exception of one year in 4th grade when we moved from NY to NM and I spent my summer outdoors exercising and lost enough weight to be in normal girl clothes instead of 'husky'. (Gah how I hated husky). The first time I really remember tracking weight was in college. I was 185 then. I met my boyfriend (now hubby) and was so head over heels in love I couldn't eat much nor sleep and I lost enough weight to get down to 170 and a size 14. Stayed around there until moving back to NY when I was 21 and edged up to 200. About 6 years ago I edged up to 250 and a size 22 and stayed there for a couple years until I got the motivation to actively try to lose weight. (Before that I just wished a lot but never made any behavior changes).

My mom is diabetic - since she was 40- and never has followed the dietary guidelines. Therefore she suffers from neuropathy, has had toes removed, and all sorts of other horrific complications. I …

New Style

So I got a new haircut today: