November 2, 2010

Done Blogging

Hello Followers,
I know there aren't many of you who check this regularly anymore and I don't blame you since I haven't been updating it regularly in almost a year. It was a great tool when I first moved to IL to share stories and photos from my time here while I got adjusted to life on the other side of the lake, but its no longer handy or easy to update so I'm letting it go.
Most of my photos go up on Facebook and my stories go out through emails but if you feel cut off from me leave me a comment and we'll figure out how to get you back in the loop.

June 8, 2010

World Cup 2010 - GOOOOOAAALL!

I am a soccer fair-weather fan. I willingly admit it. But my excitement for the FIFA World Cup that starts this Friday is building. I have a schedule of the games and am planning to watch constant soccer in the next few weeks.
The ever hilarious and never completely serious ESPN has a great commercial with US team player Landon Donovan.

Friday Fun - Museum of Science and Industry

The first official Friday Fun Adventure on an actual Friday was a smashing success. A train ride in to Hyde Park brought us to the Museum of Science and Industry where we explored the new exhibit "Science Storms." So cool. The rest of the museum was awesome too. Everything there is on such a big scale that I feel like a little kid again.

The Science Storms Exhibit
A tornado in the exhibit. It was really cool to watch, and Shonna was disappointed that she couldn't stand inside it. Such a weather nut!
The huge Tesla coil attached to the ceiling. It was super loud when they turned it on, but was awesome to watch the lightning shock the metal.
They had little booths where you could stand in really strong winds. We purposefully messed up our hair for the rest of the day, but it was really fun.
Shonna over-estimated the comfort of her shoes so we found her these Smart Chick socks in the gift shop.
Outside the museum is the R2D2 mailbox.
"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope."
In the U-505 exhibit they have a full submarine. Awesome! I read the book Playing with the Enemy by Gary W. Moore about the US Navy baseball team during WWII that was assigned to guard the German prisoners from this very sub, and taught them how to play baseball. It's like touching history. So cool.
And of course, you have to visit the baby chicks. They run around their little habitat responding to the people outside the glass that are waving at them. Really cute. It's hard not to "awwww."
After walking around Hyde Park a bit we settled on Chant, a fun and funky Asian cuisine restaurant for dinner.
Then back to Shonna's for a viewing of Star Trek. I loved that movie in the theater and it was just as good on the small screen. Dead-on re-creation and newly creative at the same time. Plus, we watched the gag reel and I couldn't stop laughing.
Here's to more successful adventure!

June 2, 2010


I know that we're actually closer to Father's Day than we are Mother's Day, but I wanted to share this photo of my mom at lunch on Mother's Day. She ordered a Chipati from Pizza House in East Lansing and it was the most entertaining looking meal I'd seen in a long time. It's like a cross between a huge cartoon oyster and a mini-UFO.
By the way, isn't my mom gorgeous!? If I look as pretty as her in the future I'll be so lucky.

June 1, 2010

Friday Fun Adventures! - Take One

The Summer of Friday Fun is off to a great start, even if we haven't yet done anything on a Friday. Shonna and I celebrated Memorial Day with a faux BBQ and a mini-marathon of the first season of Doctor Who.
Good Times.
Here are some photos of our indoor George Forman faux BBQ.
Proper BBQ food: hotdogs, chips, corn on the cob and pop. mmm.

We discovered that if you don't have those cool handles to put in the end of the corn, you need to wait for it to cool a bit before trying to pick it up. Just a tip.

This is me proving that you can't eat corn with any grace or manners. Yum.

May 26, 2010

Friday Fun Adventures!

This summer I have been blessed to be able to work a modified schedule. Basically I work longer on Monday through Thursday and then work a half day on Friday. So awesome! I'm telling you, it makes it feel like every weekend is a three day weekend. Lovely!
The only drawback is that when I don't have something planned to do within a large block of free time I have the tendency to do nothing. I don't want to sit on my butt watching daytime television every Friday afternoon this summer so I needed a plan.
In comes my buddy Shonna who is a teacher and has the summer off. She and I got to talking and decided that we needed to devote our Fridays to going out (or staying in) and doing something fun. We're calling them Friday Fun Adventures, or something like that, we haven't quite solidified the title yet. And really, what's in a name? They're going to be fun no matter what we call them.

Here's my brainstorm list so far:
* Watch Season One (or more) of Doctor Who
* Visit Used (and New) Bookstores in Chicago
* Hancock Observatory / Willis Tower Skydeck - somewhere high with a view
* Taste of Chicago
* Museum of Contemporary Art
* Wicker Park / Bucktown Shopping
* Science Storms at the Museum of Science and Industry
* LOTR Marathon
* Indoor Game Day
* Lincoln Park Zoo
If we do half of this list it will be an amazing summer.
A couple of things:
1) If you know of a fun Chicago thing (restaurant, art gallery, store, whatever) that you recommend we add to the list, let me know.
2) If you see something on this list that you would like to do and want to come to Chicagoland to hang out with me and participate in a Friday Fun Adventure Day, please let me know. The more the merrier.

"In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day."
- Robert Louis Stevenson

Here's to longer days and Funner Fridays!!

May 25, 2010

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

by Kelly O'Connor McNees
2010, Penguin Group (USA)
This book is a mix of fact and fiction centered around a summer during the young life of Louisa May Alcott, the well-known author of Little Women. For one summer the Alcott family lived in Walpole, New Hampshire and the author, Kelly O'Connor McNees, creates a fictional romance for Louisa during that summer. She weaves true facts about the family; their poverty, their personalities and their family dynamics with fictional friends, lovers and events. It was great fun to read. It was like being able to see into the past and get to know these people that lived long ago, but in a much more exciting way than a dry textbook or biography. I don't know enough about Ms. Alcott's real life to know what's true and fact, but I don't really care. I feel very satisfied thinking of the people as they were in this book.

I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction, but I picked this book up because it was written by someone I grew up with. As a librarian I spend my days around books and am constantly looking at new titles and authors old and new, so I was totally psyched to see Kelly's name on a book at our library. It's a wonderful mix of my young life and my current passion. And Kelly definitely has talent. I may not have picked up the book if I didn't know the author, but I'm really glad I did. It was a well written book and I'm looking forward to reading more by her in the future.

May 10, 2010

Me 'n Fred

I have a borrowed body form in my office that I keep forgetting to return. Unfortunately, he blends in to the surroundings now so I easily walk past him every day without noticing my headless co-worker. I've named him Fred, which just adds to his permanence (not good).

Here's a photo of the two of us. And the bonus is that it's a jigsaw puzzle. Click on the photo to put us back together.

I promise I'm going to return him this summer. I am not a body form thief.

May 4, 2010

Classic Reads

This past semester I took a class called British Literature: 1700 to the Present. We read a number of things (including more poetry than I would have liked) and I'm just finishing the final papers for the class. I thought I would include some book reviews here of the novels we read.

Essay on Man - Alexander Pope
Not really a novel, but interesting nonetheless. Pope was a big name during the Age of Reason and wrote Essay on Man as a way of expressing his ideas on the universe, the individual, society and happiness. It's not very easy to read, but if you take your time there is some great stuff in there. It's not necessarily new and earth-shattering ideas (Pope was of the opinion that there wasn't anything new to be said, just newer and wittier ways to say it), but the way that he expresses his thoughts show how truly intelligent and creative he was.

Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
Gulliver's Travels was written as a satire on the travel-log books that were becoming quite profuse in the late 18th century. As new lands and peoples were being discovered more and more men were publishing their tales of exploration and encounters with the "natives." Swift used this trend to create Gulliver, a pompous doctor who takes to the sea and discovers four separate and unique worlds. He also uses the stories to express his opinions about the political happenings of the time. I really didn't like Gulliver so it was hard to read along and hear him talking on and on about his trips. And the places that he visited kept getting more and more crazy and hard to believe. By the end of the book I was shaking my head very ready for it to be done.

Hard Times - Charles Dickens
Dickens did not like the changes that the Industrial Revolution brought to the country. He saw the squalor and poor working conditions of the people and used his books to complain, making villains of the rich and unfeeling factory owners and others in power who he felt didn't do what they could to help those in need. Hard Times is a very harsh indictment of the industrial society, but is also a very interesting story. Like most of Dickens' books it is overly descriptive which can take away from the plot a bit, but by the end you really know the people and the settings because of the abundance of descriptions. There aren't as many characters as in most Dickens' novels, but that makes it easier to follow and to be invested in the lives of the few you meet. It's also one of those books where you are a bit bored up until the last third and then you can't put it down because you have to know what's going to happen next.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce
I have to say this book was rubbish. It was another book where I did not like the main character so I did not care what he did or didn't do and by the end of the story I just wanted him to get out of his head and grow up. Stephen Dedalus is a young boy growing up in Ireland. The book starts with him as a toddler and quickly moves to his time in school. I did like the way Joyce creatively wrote it as real life interspersed with memories and dreams. It was almost like trying to capture a stream of consciousness which was slightly confusing, but also an interesting way of writing. In general, though, the story was too intellectual for its own good. There were tons of allusions and motifs interspersed with poetry and grumbling. I know it's considered a classic, but I would give it a pass if I were you.

There you opinions on a semester worth of reading (minus the poetry because I haven't quite recovered enough to write about that yet).

April 30, 2010

Do Not Fret!

You may or may not know that I recently finished work on a book to be published this fall with Arcadia Publishing. It's a pictorial history book about the university. It was a ton of work, but I'm really excited about it. There haven't been any books published recently about the full history of our school and the format will make it a fun and easy way to breeze through the years while still learning some fun facts and figures about USF.
Here's a copy of the cover:
I have had people in the past say "You should write a book," and there are a number of reasons why I haven't done that (a lack of talent being very high on the list), but one of the main reasons is because I didn't want to have to give any book talks about the book. I don't like talking in front of people and having to talk about something that came out of my head sounds very personal and frightening.

But I thought, "this will be different." It's not about the author, its about the content. I didn't make this up, I just compiled facts and information in a neat little package. But in actuality, I kinda shot myself in the foot. I've discovered that with history books, people assume if you wrote them you must be an expert, so they think "She should come and talk to us about the history and the book."

Oops. I've been asked to give a talk about the history of the school during Homecoming and I have been fretting. Even though it's months away, I get a scared little feeling in my tummy whenever I think about it. I know that I'm technically a grown-up, but sometimes I'm back in elementary school freaking out about having to read my book report in front of the class.

So here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to cling to these verses "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6: 33-34) I do not need to heap more trouble on myself by worrying and fretting about something way down the road. I need to remember to seek first the kingdom. God is in control and everything will fall into line according to his plan.

If you see me in the next few months be sure to ask me how I'm doing with letting go of the fret. I will definitely need the reminders.

April 28, 2010

The Season of Presentations

It's the end of the semester here. Actually, the end of the school year. And you know what that means: Presentations. Every so often I'll hear a classroom somewhere in the Library erupt in polite applause and I'll know someone else has completed their final presentation and can sit back down and stop sweating. At least until their next exam. I was thinking about these students wrapping up a semester full of information in a 15 minute talk and wonder how many of them use PowerPoint. What do you want to bet it's close to 80%.

On Monday there was an article published online by the New York Times titled We Have Met The Enemy and He Is PowerPoint. The article quickly makes the point that PowerPoint presentations are running rampant in government meetings and have become more of a hindrance than a good. The article, written by Elisabeth Bumiller, says "behind all the PowerPoint jokes are serious concerns that the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making. Not least, it ties up junior officers — referred to as PowerPoint Rangers — in the daily preparation of slides, be it for a Joint Staff meeting in Washington or for a platoon leader’s pre-mission combat briefing in a remote pocket of Afghanistan."

I can't help but wonder: are we preparing these PowerPoint Rangers? Are we setting the next generation up for ""death by PowerPoint,” the phrase used to described the numbing sensation that accompanies a 30-slide briefing?" I know that there are definitely positives to PowerPoint presentations, but I do wonder if it's gotten a bit out of control. And it's very true that I am not in these classes from which the spontaneous clapping arises so I don't know how their presentations are done, but I do hope there's more creativity and depth out there than PowerPoint alone can offer.

April 26, 2010

The Cardboard Jungle

Who knew cardboard could soak up so much water? While doing laundry yesterday I finally noticed a small dripping noise somewhere in the basement. I remembered that there had been a very tiny leak in the corner where all my stuff is stored, but it had stopped and then last week it was "fixed" to prevent it happening again. I decided to investigate, and sure enough, the pipe was dripping and probably had been since it was fixed last Thursday. The boxes right below it were in different states of wet and icky.
I managed to get everything wiped off and set out to air dry with the help of my roommate, but I'm going to need to re-box a lot of stuff to prevent any mold from taking hold. Ugh. What a crappy way to end the weekend. At least nothing was ruined. Most of the wet stuff can easily be washed and the boxes with paper in them didn't get wet on the inside.
I'm really glad I noticed it yesterday because it could have made a huge mess if it was left too long. But like they say: a little water never hurt anything, unless you're the Wicked Witch of the West.

April 23, 2010

Another Pleasant Trip to Florida

I finally got my Florida photos together. I had a lovely time again. I love, love, love going down there. I get to see my Grandma again and spend time with my family. We are a family to whom vacation = relax. We don't fill our time with activities we mostly sit and do very little...and it's perfect. I read six books this year...heaven.

Jesse, Dad and Mom at the beach our last night. We went down to check out the sunset.
The drawbridge on Cortez Road as seen from the Seafood Shack.

A closer look at the bridge. It was up for a sailboat to go through.
The sun setting behind clouds. This is a view towards the island in the opposite direction from Cortez Road.
The family enjoys dinner at the Seafood Shack. It was our first night there and Aunt Jan was there with us.
We did some yard work for Grandma and then washed the gloves afterward. This is the best way to dry everything down there.Jesse decided to take a photo of the sunset with the bird in the shot. I decided to take a picture of Jesse. hee hee.

People walking on the beach at sunset.
Almost done.
The last bits of sun were behind clouds so we headed home. This is what the beach entrance looks like. Lots of people drive in, although we walk.
Overall - awesome. Already looking forward to next year's visit.

Attack of the Inflatable Marketing Animals

I'm still amazed every time I drive past another huge animal or cartoon character stationed outside a car dealership or restaurant or just anywhere really. Joliet has a fascination with using these to promote their businesses and I still don't really get it. True, they do catch my eye, but really they just make me think "that place is a bit too cheesy for me."
I spotted another one right before Easter. It was a huge pink bunny at a busy intersection. I didn't get a clear picture, but I'll post it anyway.
I also drive by a car dealership that has a cowboy at one end of the lot and a giant purple dinosaur at the other end. Cause, you know, nothing says "Used Car Sale" like a giant dino and his cowboy pardner.

April 22, 2010

My Jet-Setting Aunt and Uncle

My Aunt Karen and Uncle Bill are world travelers to the extreme. Every time I turn around, they're heading somewhere new and trying something different. It's great to hear their stories at family get-togethers and learn what the food is like in certain countries and what the transportation options are in other countries. They are founts of information.

This works out well for me for a couple of reasons:
1) When I finally get to the point where I can afford to travel out of the US, I totally know who I'll go to for advice. Chances are they've been there, done that...twice.
2) Aunt Karen is great about sending me photos of their adventures, like these from Amsterdam. She's a great photographer and its fun to see pics from around the globe that aren't just stock photos.

So here are some of the newest ones from Turkey. She said they were with a large group this time and their tour guide was great. They also got to take a hot air balloon ride. What fun.

April 21, 2010

Relay for Life 2010

Every year the American Cancer Society does a Relay for Life fundraising event. Here's the blurb from their website:
"At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events up to 24 hours in length."

This year I've joined a team, the Memorable Moments, and we're off to a great start. My goal is to raise $100 and the team goal is $1500. At this point, the more the merrier!

If you have any desire to contribute you can donate online at
Click on my name or donate to the overall team. If online doesn't work for you, feel free to send me an email to figure out an offline donation.

Thanks and here's to putting up a good fight against cancer.

April 19, 2010

Heck of a Weekend!

For those of you that know me, you know that my love for the Doctor runs deep. I think it's a genetic thing. My dad watched Doctor Who back in its first incarnation and I distinctly remember him trying to sing the theme song to me and my brother. Now that the show has successfully rebooted I am a full-blown addict.Saturday night was the 5th season premiere on BBC America. (and yes I know that it's been on for three weeks in the UK so watching future episodes online is a possibility, but I've chosen to watch it with the rest of the country...well most of the country...the honest part) In addition to being the start of a season, which means new adventures every week instead of sporadic "specials" for a year - blech!, the big excitement is that there's a new Doctor. And as much as I loved David Tennant's space man, Matt Smith has quickly showed he's got the right stuff for the job.
I am really pumped about this upcoming season and I will fly my freak flag and admit that I have watched Saturday's episode three times now. It's that fun.

In addition to the Doctor Who high, I also went and saw How to Train Your Dragon (in 3D of course). What fun! The characters were these great stereotypes, which is exactly what you would expect, but they did it so well. There were plenty of laughs that weren't in the previews and the 3D really did make a difference. I would love to see a sequel if they made one. I would freely go back to that world for another adventure. (and random tid-bit: according to the end credits, David Tennant does a minor voice in the movie - I'm tellin' ya, small world)

March 19, 2010

British Literature

I'm taking a class at USF called "British Literature from 1700 to the Present" and am really learning a lot. We're reading through the ages and its been very interesting to see how novelists and poets in Britain reacted to the times the were living in.
One of the first things we read was Alexander Pope's Essay on Man, and while it was very dense and structured, it may be my favorite thing we've read so far. Here are some of my favorite stanzas:

Each beast, each insect, happy in its own:
Is Heaven unkind to man, and man alone?
Shall he alone, whom rational we call,

Be pleased with nothing, if not blest with all?

More rich, more wise: but who infers from hence
That such are happier, shocks all common sense.

Condition, circumstance, is not the thing;
Bliss is the same in subject or in king,

Weak, foolish man! will Heaven reward us there
With the same trash mad mortals wish for here?

Pretty cool.

March 17, 2010


Last Saturday (March 13) Jesse and I traveled to The Palace of Auburn Hills to see Muse in concert (with special guest Silversun Pickups). I've been a Muse fan for a couple of years now and was super psyched to find out that they were playing in Detroit while I'd be there for the week. It was an amazing show. These guys sound just as awesome live as they do on their albums. In fact, it may have even been better than their CDs because they jam like nobodies business which made all the songs that much more alive and fun. And the set-up was super creative with the three columns that went up and down and featured graphics and videos throughout the night. The only downside was trying to get out of the parking lot after the show (it took half an hour) but we were so pumped it didn't really phase us.
I took lots of pictures even though my camera battery died before the end of the show. Here are some of the better ones.