Thursday, February 28, 2008

Career Advice From Steve Jobs

I am not a Steve Jobs fan, I am not a hater either, I just don't think about him much at all either way. I was a bit surprised to find this speech, and even more surprised to listen to it realize that he is quite profound.

Steve tells three great stories to illustrate his point, that you must do something you love and pursue it with passion. Anything less is simply a waste.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Review - Mimi's Cafe

DD and I were out shopping one evening and we were both trying to skip dinner, but as both of our stomachs were growling, we simply had to stop for some food. I saw a cute little place by the side of the road that I wanted to try but DD was pretty skeptical. She is like her dad and really only likes to eat at 1 or 2 places and is certainly not very adventerous when it comes to food. I did finally talk her into stopping, and yes, perhaps I did mention is was Mimi's Cafe or nothing, but that is hardly the point.

We were quickly glad we had stopped. Not only did the place smell amazing, but we could tell by a quick look around that people were quickly being served and were very happy with their food choices. You know what I mean, how many times have you gone into one of THOSE franchises only to see many other customers fuming or barely enjoying their food? Mimi's was not like that.

DD was hooked the moment we were seated and given a basket of assorted breads, rolls and muffins. Among them was a low-fat blueberry muffin that tasted like cake, which we split and ate as slowly as we could manage. DD then ordered a beef sandwich that she swears is the best she has ever tasted while I enjoyed a cup of corn chowder and a fried chicken salad. The food was just great, and the atmosphere was charming as well. If they have a Mimi's by you, try it. If they don't have a Mimi's by you, I am so sorry, perhaps you could open one?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Music Monday - Over The Rhine

A couple of years ago some college friends of mine recommended I listen to an album by a group called Over the Rhine. The album was titled Ohio, and I was immediately captivated by the title song. It is haunting in a way that somehow transported me back to my childhoood and long autumn days that went on forever.

Shortly after that I purchased another OTR album, Drunkard's Prayer which never grew on me in quite the same way, but was still a great album to read or work by and has a few haunts of its own.

If you enjoy soulful piano ballads, give this group a try. There newest album seems a bit more up tempo and jazzy, which is fine, but I LOVE the older stuff.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Finally Friday Fun - Book Review

I picked up the book Deja Dead, by Kathy Reichs, because of its affiliation with one of my favorite TV shows; Bones on Fox. I had read that the book is not much like the show, and I will have to agree. Other than the main character’s name and the fact that she is a forensic anthropologist, there aren’t too many similarities.

Having said that, I admit that I did like this book and I really liked the main character Temperance Brennan . I liked this original Tempe much better than her TV version. I find the made for TV Tempe a bit shallow, and pretty unbelievable. I found the Tempe in the book, however, to be all too real. As with many really well done protagonists, this one comes complete with a fatal flaw that she realistically struggles with throughout the book. Not only does she possess this flaw, but I find that she struggles with it much the way I think a real person would.

If I have a complaint about this book, it would have to be the setting. I have only been to Canada once in my life and it was not Quebec that I visited, so it was very hard for me to relate to the scene the author setup. Luckily, much of this book takes place in the lab and in an apartment, so I was able to place Tempe in a more familiar place in my mind.

Let me also note that this book is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. It is a murder mystery, and actually, this particular book has to do with a serial killer and many of the scenes are pretty gruesome. I didn’t find the gore to be gratuitous in any way, and the story would have been much less real without it.

I find that in my two favorite pastimes, TV and reading, that I am looking for escape. I am not interested in real crimes, or reality TV . . . I want fiction baby. This book probably won’t win any awards, but then, not many of my favorite reads have. If you are looking for a CSI like read for a long winters day, this just may be your book.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Happy Hump Day Shopping - Great Green Shop

I have made several purachases from an Earth friendly shop, and I just love what I have gotten. Their service is great, their products are great, and their prices are really very fair.

The store I like to frequent for all of my "green" shopping is Don't let the name fool you, these guys have much more than just alternatives to plastic bags. In fact, my favorite purchase is the stainless steel thermos that you see to the right. I honestly use this every day, and often will get to my last cup at 4 pm, and it is just as hot as the cup I first had at 7 am. I love it.

I also purchased a lunch bag for DD, which she thinks is too "cutsey" to take to high school, so I use it instead. She does use the stainless steel water bottle I got her everyday though, and thinks it is very attractive.

With all of the craze over the environment, this store has come along at just the right time! They sure are getting some good press, I hope their prices don't go up.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Music Monday - Herbie Hancock

Today is the perfect day for Herbie Hancock. It is cold and dreary outside, and I am in a fairly mellow mood today for a Monday.

I am a new fan and a new listener. I have heard his older stuff (Cantaloupe Island) of course when I have listend to the jazz station here in Chicago, but this new CD is one I think I can even get my teenagers to listen to and appreciate. It helps that there are some familiar names here helping him out with vocals. Tina Turner, Norah Jones and Corinne Bailey Rae to name a few are all featured on this album, and they are great.

I like to listen to new CDs while I work for a day or two and then once I have a feel for the songs, I like to blast the music in the car while I drive and just focus on the music and really hear it. And while I am only on the first part of this process, I can already tell this is going to be a fast favorite. This is the perfect music I think for reading, working, cooking or just sitting by the fire sipping wine after the kids are in bed.

Friday, February 15, 2008

It's Happening Again - Corporate Restructuring

So it is happening for me for the third time in my somewhat short career. The company I have come to work for is undergoing "corporate restructuring."

I think the worse part about these situations is the speculation, rumor, and of course, the unknown. Not to mention the fact that these things generally begin one day completely out of the blue, and then continue on for months and even years.

Am I worried? Of course. I completely agree with the old saying that sometimes the evil you know is better than that you don't know. In one of the previous restructurings the results were better at first, and then unbearable as time went on and it took years to fix the problems that resulted from the initial restructuring. In the other one, the results at first were also better, but as time wore on, old problems and new ones came and again, the situation became unbearable.

However, I know that it doesn't do any good to worry, what will happen will happen and there is little I can do to change anything. And I have also learned that keeping loose and being willing to change and adapt usually makes the going much easier.

Here's to change!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Y-ME for Mother's Day

I signed my DD and I up today for the Y-ME national Breast Cancer walk. We will be doing the 3 mile walk, not the 5k quite yet. This is the first time that we have participated, and I am so excited to be doing this.

My focus for this year is loving others, my kids, my family, my friends, and others. This seems to be a great step in that direction. Not to mention the fact that it is hard to wallow in self pity when you are focusing on how to help others, when you are trying to think of ways to reach out.

This even is way out of my comfort zone, as I don't like crowds and I don't like going downtown, and Sundays are for resting and relaxing. . .but I just can't wait for this event.

I encourage everyone to pick and event, pick a cause, pick a person and get involved. Love someone else a bit more today. I think you will find that in the end, in spite of yourself, you will be happier too just because you tried. I challenge you, if you are reading this, to think of a way today that you can get involved with a person or a cause and what you can do to beging helping.

If you are a friend, and feel like donating, please do. If not, just think about the challenge above. Here is my personal site for donating to my walk.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Review - Disney on Ice

This weekend DD and I did something neither of us has done before. We went to see a Disney Ice Show. When the kids were little, there was never enough time or money to do this. I was a bit afraid as I was buying our tickets that my DD would perhaps be too old and think I had gone off the deep end for taking her as a teenager. I was also a bit afraid that the show would be too cheesy and we would both end up hating me for having wasted a Saturday afternoon.

It was cheesy, the acting was horrible, but we had fun! Disney's High School Musical: The Ice Tour is what it is suposed to be, a cute ice show. We liked the costumes, the skating, and the music. Yeah to Disney for having the music be the original music from the movies. It was basically a musical review of the first and second High School Musical Movies. We had seen the first one on the Disney channel, and there too, the acting is horrible, but the music is good and the story is light and funny.

We paid $10 for a bucket of popcorn and $12.50 for an Icee in a souvenir cup so if you do go to one of these shows, I recommend that you not buy anything there, but then again, isn't that part of the fun?

Overall, we decided that we would definitely do this again, even if it was the Disney Princesses Show! It was a great way to spend a very cold Saturday afternoon in Chicago. Besides, a trip to the United Center is always fun.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Why Are There So Many Depressed Teenagers?

I have worked with teens and young adults is a few different settings both in my jobs and in my volunteer work, and I have met many who are being medicated for depression. The more I hear about it, the more I wonder if we haven’t all gone just a bit crazy. I just talked to a friend who is in her early 20’s who has her whole life ahead of her, knows what she wants to do with her career, is very talented in her field, and she is “clinically depressed” and taking medication.

Why are our kids so depressed? What does that even mean? What is happiness and does it really come in a pill? Or, as I suspect, have we raised a generation of people who only know want and have no sense of what contentment is? Is happiness always that next thing away?

I think it is time for me to interview some of the 50-60 year olds that I know and ask them about this seemingly recent phenomena. Were they depressed as teenagers? Do they remember going through times when they just couldn’t be happy? Did people talk about needing to be happy in the 50’s and 60’s?

Our kids are sad. I know that, and yet, I want to know why. I don’t want to give my kids some pills and expect everything will be ok. I want to know why they are worried and stressed out. I want to make behavior and attitude changes that will make their lives easier. I guess I am showing my bias here, but I really do think that drugs should be a last resort. And I also think that we have a responsibility to find out what is different and what can be changed in their environments to help them.

Can all these kids really be so depressed? Or have our standards changed? Do we judge happiness differently than we used to? I really want to know. Off I go to gather some information from some older folks I know. . .and attempt to answer some questions.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Book Review - The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I think I read this book one paragraph at a time, not because it was boring or bad, I just have so little time right now for reading. Evan read this way, this book is worth it.

My son had this book assigned in his high school English class, and I am not sure that forcing kids to read this is a great idea. This book is written for women, as it is a beautiful picture of the grace and goodness of sisterhood. The characters here are warm and full of life. They are the kind of well developed entities that make you long to be able to pull up a chair and chat with them a while.

I loved August, and June and May from the very start. It took me a while to warm to Rosalee, as she was less refined and harder to like, but like her I did. And Lily is like so many teenagers I have met.

I appreciate so much the different portrayal here of race relations in the South in the 60s. I don't think I have read a book set in this time period before that makes the entire book about race relations, and yet makes it not at all about skin color. The deeper truths here of love, life and our intense desire for family becomes a way to level the playing field.

I don't read books twice, however, I will be taking this book along on my next vacation to really read this again and highlight favorite parts. I can't recommend this enough, especially to women and girls.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Finally Friday Fun - Snow Day!

I made it. I am alive and the car is in one piece.

Today in Chicago the weather is treacherous, and the snow is coming down too fast for the plows to keep the roads clear. On a normal day I have a 30 minute commute to work, however, today that commute took 90 minutes. Luckily, I came in early to work on some computers so when I was slipping and sliding all over the road I was all by myself. But, I was all by myself on the road so I was mighty thankful when I got to work without getting stuck anywhere.

I will be heading on out early this afternoon, in hopes that I can get home before the rest of the people get on the road. I am also headed home early to enjoy a snow day with the kids. If you are going to live in Chicago, you may as well enjoy the weather when it is as crazy as this. Know of any good sledding hills?