Monday, June 28, 2010

Inspiration from Michael Jordan

Coming down off one of the best weekends in ages (more about that later this week) with very little sleep, today was a rough Monday and I had a tough time finding my inner motivation to get going. It was especially tough because I knew that today was going to include yet another trip to the vet with Betsey and wouldn't include any answers yet.

So I turned to one of my favorite sources of inspiration . . . Michael Jordan. I think you'll find these videos inspiring too.

Maybe It's My Fault - Michael Jordan Nike Commercial


Look Me In the Eyes - Michael Jordan Nike Commercial (#2 in the "Become Legendary" series)


Failure - Michael Jordan Nike Commercial


Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Best Christmas Gift or First Date Idea EVER


I know that my birthday was just a few days ago, but you're probably scratching your head as you wonder what you can get me for Christmas this year. Now, while there's no possible way to top the super cool gifts I received two years ago from Karen Zipdrive, you can come close this year by giving me a trip to Cubs Fantasy Camp at Wrigley Field!

Yes, seriously. If you know me even slightly, you know how much I love the Cubs and would be over the moon at the chance to put my custom-made Cubs uniform and take a run around the bases while taking hits off Rick Sutcliffe and getting batting tips from "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks and Billy Williams. In fact, I've already saved the dates of August 8th and 9th, so you don't need to worry I may have a scheduling conflict.

It's only $7,500. Isn't the joy you'll bring me for the rest of my life worth at least that?

Oh, this would also be the absolute best first date ever, in case a certain cute boy would like to take me there on our first date (in that case, he could save by purchasing the group tix for two for $6,000 each). Let's be clear though, I'm not so into the threesome group idea ($5,000 each). I'm just saying.

Cubs offer fantasy camp deal for $7,500

by Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune, June 23, 2010

SEATTLE -- The Cubs are offering diehard fans a chance to emulate their pin-striped heroes, though getting doubled off second base on a routine fly to left is strictly optional.

"Cubs Fantasy Camp at Wrigley Field" is the latest in a series of revenue-enhancers announced by the Cubs in 2010, following the PNC Club, the Toyota sign and the Noodle.

For a mere $7,500, a Cubs' fan will get batting tips from Ernie Banks and Billy Williams, a custom made Cubs' uniform, a chance to take batting practice off Rick Sutcliffe, a day in a private suite for a Cubs-Reds game on Aug. 8, a one-day contract and a chance to play in a game on the actual field on Aug. 9, when the Cubs will be in San Francisco.

In a news release, the Cubs said the fantasy camp "gives some of our most loyal fans" the chance to pretend to be a Cub. Those "loyal fans" also need to have some disposable income at the price of $7,500, though groups of two are offered for $6,000 apiece, and groups of three can get in for $5,000 apiece.

Participants will be granted access to the Cubs' clubhouse and will sign one-day contracts. After the game, a news conference will follow in the interview room, where participants will presumably sit in the same seat that Lou Piniella gives his post-mortems after one-run losses. No word on whether Cub-friendly reporters will be invited to ask the questions.

For more information, email wrigleyexperience@cubs.com

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Who's Doing Cartwheels Tonight?


ME!!!!!!!

Why am I doing cartwheels?

Because as everyone knows, I'm a huge political geek. Or, as someone once said to me, "Jess, politics is your porn." Yep. Thinking back, I'm not sure that was a compliment, but I own it, nonetheless. It's true. I love politics.

Anyway, the supercool West Wing Report (and here on Twitter) is sending me a free t-shirt. That's right, I'm getting all excited over a t-shirt and I don't even know what it looks like.

You can go ahead and be jealous, it's okay.

And yes, I'll post pics of me in my West Wing Report t-shirt when it arrives.

Thanks West Wing Report!

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Are You Getting Your Dad For Father's Day?


What are you getting for your dad for Father's Day? More than likely, he's a pretty cool guy, is deserving of a cool gift and doesn't need another silly necktie or bottle of Aqua Velva.

I suggest you pick up a copy of Heroes for My Son written by my friend, Brad Meltzer, who just happened to have a sit down with my 1990s love, George Stephanopoulos yesterday on Good Morning America. How Brad sat there looking at George without drool running down his face is beyond me because that's what would have happened to me sitting across from George in front of millions of people. But I digress.

My favorite part of Heroes For My Son? On page 106 you can add a picture of your favorite hero and on page 107 you can write a story about them. I'm going to find a picture of my dad and me and write a paragraph or two about how he was never to0 tired read me just one more story every night thus instilling a life long love of reading in me.

And watch the video of Brad's appearance on GMA yesterday and just try not to drool. I mean look how yummy George is. Brad looks great too. Must see TV at its finest. I'm sorry I missed it the first time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Birthday Horoscopes

This is my absolute favorite birthday picture ever. Love that my pj's match the wall paper and birthday cake, the grin on my face, and that it's obvious I'm gonna be bossy and sassy in just a few years. I'm 4 in this pic.

One of my silly birthday obsessions is that I read every possible "If today is your birthday" horoscope on my birthday so I can get a feel for what the year is going to bring. Of course, they're almost never accurate, but it's my thing.

Don't judge. You have your things and I don't judge. Plus, it's my birthday and I'm invoking the "it's my birthday, so you can't give me any grief" rule. Yes, it exists. In my head.

So let's start with Holiday Mathis of philstar.com.
TODAY’S BIRTHDAY (June 16). It is your year to let go of past limitations and soar. This begins with a cycle of playfulness and leisure. Get in touch with your soul’s wants through July. You are motivated by passion through August and will accomplish important personal work. Others on the same wavelength contribute to your project in November. Gemini and Cancer people adore you. Your lucky numbers are: 20, 4, 39, 25 and 40.
This is interesting because I've been feeling very playful and fun lately. In fact, I was just saying that to my friend Tony. I'm concerned though by the statement that "Gemini and Cancer people adore you." Why don't ALL people adore me???

Moving onto Georgia Nichols. She probably has something useful for me.
If today is your birthday . . . Actor John Cho (1972) shares your birthday today. It's important for you to succeed because you have goals you intend to achieve. You're patient about working and building toward those goals. You plan ahead, and you make your choices carefully and wisely. (This includes how you choose to include people in your life or not.) Your timing generally pays off. In this year ahead, you will learn something very valuable.
Okay, wait, this is the best she can do? She can see into my future and all she knows is that I'll learn something valuable? She can't get any more specific than that? Ugh. She is right about that planning ahead thing. I mean, who do you know that likes a plan more than I do? No one. Maybe what I'll learn this year is how to be spontaneous. THAT would be valuable.

Let's take a look at my Love and Sex Horoscope.
If your birthday is on June 16th your sun sign is Gemini. Dear Gemini, you've got a love style that's timeless. In other words, you always make time for love and sex! You have a variety of interests and tend to subscribe to the motto "Variety is the spice of life".

This is especially true in your love and sex life. You tend to get bored easily and if your lover can't hold your attention in the bedroom and in your mind then you'll be looking in a new direction in no time.
I can't possibly comment on that. My mom reads this blog. Next.

I love the Washington Post. Maybe they've got some good predictions.
For Wednesday, June 16 -On today's agenda, you need to add mending fences, loving your neighbor and all the rest of that caring, sharing business. Think of yourself as a karmic diplomat, spreading good energy and love among the rest of the world. You don't have to lay it on with a trowel or break your back to spread the love -- just let your soul shine through in everything you do right now. You're an ambassador of goodwill without even trying!
Well, that's chipper. Really. I can handle that. Although I'm not really sure how "mending fences" works with "letting go of past limitations" (which I read as "let go of the PAST you're hanging onto"). I'm not sure I want to go revisit some of that. I'm going to have to think on that. Actually, maybe this is the best time to mend a fence. I have a phone call to make.

What about my hometown paper the Chicago Tribune? What does it have to say about my future?
Today's birthday (6/16/10). You gain crystal clarity this year about how you approach your work. Immerse yourself in the details of any educational process. Start from the ground up, and you feel fortunate because you become a teacher as well as student. A little danger offers greater power.
So this year is all about work. Well, that's good, frankly. But all work and no play makes me kinda dull. I'm going to keep looking.

I think Sydney Omarr is fairly respected in the world of astrology. Well, I've seen his name before. I bet he's on top of my next year.
IF JUNE 16 IS YOUR BIRTHDAY: The Force isn't with you in any area that has to do with work, investments, career or business now so concentrate on having a good time with loved ones during the next several weeks. August could be a perfect time for travel, as your desire to explore new vistas and have adventures is in full flower, but you might choose to begin a new study or educational project. Steer clear of signing business agreements or making financial decisions in September when the universe seems to oppose your best interests. October and November are excellent months for travel, romantic excursions, or for just feeling good about your progress with mental pursuits.
Huh. I'm going to take that first sentence to mean I ought to spend the next few weeks at the beach. Thanks Sydney! I didn't read past that.

The Star has some interesting thought . . .
IF TODAY IS YOUR BIRTHDAY: This year, count on your communication skills. You will enjoy touching base with others more often as well. However, you might long to stretch your mind or grow in new ways. Some of you will travel, others might look at school, and yet, for many, a foreigner or someone quite different could knock on your door. If you are single, you might choose someone who is unusual or artistic. You could meet this person in an odd way. If you are attached, the two of you will become closer if you plan a trip together or take a seminar. Leo always appreciates you.
Now who in my life is a Leo? Hmmmmm . . . Oh, my cousin Andrea. Yes, she always appreciates me. That's all I can think of at the moment, although I'm sure more will come to me.

Oh my God. CafeAstrology.com has the best birthday horoscope ever. The first part describes me to a T.
The Year Ahead
Forecast for June 2010 to June 2011

If You Were Born Today,
June 16:
Your imagination is boundless and you are a true visionary. You possess an endearing youthful quality throughout life, and can be quite persuasive when you want to be. You are given to daydreaming and require frequent periods of rest and solitude in order to renew your spirit. You do thrive on sharing your ideas with others, but you need time alone to refresh. You can be quite ambitious, and at times critical and impatient when feeling restless or unfocused. Famous people born today: Erich Segal, Tupac Shakur, Ian Buchanan, Wally Joyner, Joyce Carol Oates.

Your Birthday Year Forecast: The Sun in harmonious aspect to the Moon in your Solar Return chart is a pleasant aspect, suggesting that your domestic and career needs are not in competition with one another this year. Your inner needs tend to be mirrored by external events, and vice versa. You are likely to be on top of your game this year for the most part, and positive connections with others can be made fairly easily. A comfortable level of personal popularity helps keep conflict to a minimum. With the ability to handle your emotions successfully, there will be less stress on both your mind and body. Your self-confidence and positive attitude will reward you!

You can truly forge ahead and tackle problems with gusto when you focus your energies. With the determination to meet or exceed your goals, your ambition is stimulated and you can move mountains. You might find that you become more goal-oriented this year, as superficial goals no longer satisfy you. You want your objectives to reflect what you're really about, and you are likely to rid yourself of unsatisfying goals this year. You benefit from being more decisive than usual, and your ability to concentrate and focus helps you to achieve what you set out to do. A new project or goal begun this year has a good chance of being successful and long-lasting. Your sexual and physical activities tend to be more intense, passionate, and focused. It's an excellent year in which to make a lifestyle change.

Pleasing circumstances surrounding your love life, finances, and creative pursuits are in store this year. Others are looking on you favorably, particularly friends and lovers (or potential lovers). You are more generous, and others return the favor. You might receive financial backing or special gifts in the period ahead. You seek a little more from your love life and you are likely to receive it. Some of you could fall in love this year, or existing relationships are enhanced. You may lose your fear of taking risks this year on a social level, and happily embrace all that is new, unusual, and out-of-the-ordinary with regards to romantic involvements as well as financial undertakings. You are ready to experiment, and not necessarily ready to commit. This could be a good year for financial undertakings involving electronics, technology, the internet, metaphysics, and the arts, as well as group activities. You have a taste for the offbeat this year, and this energy can bring sudden or unexpected romance into your life. Adventure-seeking is a theme.

Saturn in opposition to Uranus around the time of your birthday suggests some restlessness. Attempts to assert your individuality, freedom, and originality undermine your feelings of groundedness and security. Yet, you are not satisfied when you conform. There may be sudden and unexpected twists that force you to do something different or that help free yourself from old habits. Adjusting your plans is in order, and striking a balance between convention and innovation is the challenge. Setbacks tend to be temporary and often lead to new, more creative paths or solutions. Ambivalence is likely and could color many of your interactions.

Jupiter joined with Uranus is also found in your Solar Return chart, and this suggests the need for progressive change in your life. You might take risks (perhaps, but not necessarily, foolish ones) for the sake of freedom. You are open to new energies, approaches, and attitudes. Fortunate events occur as a direct result of your willingness to entertain the unusual and to think outside of the box. Enthusiasm runs high, the desire for freedom from restrictions is strong, and thirst for adventure is with you.

This is an excellent year for close relationships, romance, and your social life. Your energy and stamina are also increased. You are especially ambitious and driven, and more able to focus on important goals. Positive lifestyle changes can be made in the year ahead.

2010 is a Number Seven year for you. Ruled by Neptune. This is a year of preparation, chance, and refinement. It is not a time of dramatic changes. Instead, it's a year when reflection on the past is helpful, and when refinements to your life path should be made. It's a good year to study and analyze. Unexpected twists to your life story and "chance" meetings are probable. Advice - take stock of your life in order to prepare for more exciting years to come, examine the past and plan for the future, get in touch with your deepest needs and uncover your personal power, don't strain yourself or actively try to expand.

2011 will be a Number Eight year for you. Ruled by Saturn. This is a year of power and accomplishment. Actively seeking to expand, taking educated risks, and moving forward are highlighted. This is a year of opportunity, particularly in the material and business world, and opportunities need to be seized. It's generally not a year to find a new love partner, simply because the focus is on the material world and your place in the world. This is a problem-solving year in which you can expect real, tangible results. Advice - take action, plan ahead, seize opportunities.

Monday, June 14, 2010

How I WON'T Be Celebrating My Birthday


You may know that my 28th birthday is Wednesday. I don't have too many plans for the day aside from renewing my driver's license, attending my monthly Professional Women's Council luncheon and then relaxing with a massage later in the day. I may also meet a friend for a drink. For the most part, I'm choosing to ignore the day since it's actually the 11th anniversary of my 28th birthday, not my actual 28th birthday, and frankly, I'm freaking out about it a little.

Whatever I do, I know I won't be attempting to break any world records for wearing the most pairs of tighty-whities like the 10-year-old Jack Singer below. Is it just me or does this seem more like a drunken 21st birthday stunt your "friends" would do to you to be funny rather than a cool way for a 10-year-old to celebrate? In spite of all the people cheering him on, I don't think he looks terribly happy about being filmed in 215 pairs of ginormous undies. I bet he grows up to be a boxers guy.



If you read Little Merry Sunshine via email, I encourage you to visit the blog and watch the video for a good laugh.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Eat At Sam's Fresh Seafood


I've known Sammy and Phyllis Hart, owners of Sam's Fresh Seafood in Dunedin, Florida, for about as long as I can remember. My mom grew up with them and they all attended Tarpon Springs High School together.

Sam and Phyllis opened Sam's Fresh Seafood about 30 years ago. Sam does most of the fishing and they serve what he catches, often that day or within 24 hours. I'm honestly not sure if there's fresher seafood available anywhere. They work in the restaurant together - Sam in the kitchen and Phyllis greeting guests, checking on tables and behind the cash register.

Whenever I'm in Crystal Beach the only restaurant I want to eat at is Sam's Fresh Seafood. Nana loved going there and it just feels like home. In fact, I can't recall the last time I was in Florida that I didn't eat at Sam's. I always have scallops and like every meal, they come with two sides and hush puppies. The fried okra is my other favorite. Actually, everything on the menu is amazing. Plus, for seafood, it's pretty budget friendly.

Sammy and Phyllis are also incredibly loyal. I've yet to meet a server who's been with them less than 6 or 8 years and who doesn't speak of them like they're family. Sammy and Phyllis hire good people, treat them right and they stick around.

Since the BP oil spill almost two months ago, Sammy and Phyllis have been on my mind a lot. I've wondered how they were doing and was relieved when I ate there on Mother's Day and business seemed good. But when I spoke to Mom today, she told me Sammy was on the local news last night discussing the steep decline in business. It's not that there's anything wrong with the seafood, but people are afraid.

I found the story and video below and my eyes welled up seeing Sammy choke up. I know it must have broken his heart to cut his staff's hours. Sammy and Phyllis are holding on, but paying a steep price to do so. Because I'm in Chicago, there's not much I can do, except say that I'll be eating at Sam's Fresh Seafood on when I'm in Crystal Beach on July 18th - Nana's birthday, write about them on Little Merry Sunshine, talk about them on Facebook, and encourage all my Florida friends to support Sam and Phyllis by eating at Sam's Fresh Seafood whenever they can. If you go, tell Phyllis that Jessica Gardner, Virginia Paulk's daughter sent you.



Sam's Seafood Restaurant Owner is Bracing Himself for an Uncertain Future as Oil Keeps Gushing
Sales Drop 40% Since Spill

July 11, 2010
by Rebecca Medina, ABC Action News

DUNEDIN, Fla. - Sam and Phyllis Hart, owners of Sam's Seafood Restaurant in Dunedin, said they're scared and facing an uncertain future because the oil spill in the Gulf will likely put them out of business.

"I don't know what I'll do next, I'm 63-years-old this is all I know how to do," said Sam as he sliced and diced his catch of the day.

Sam has been shucking oysters, marinating mussels and serving fresh seafood for more than 30 years. He said he and Phyllis have survived hurricanes, a red tide, sour stone crab seasons, but never oil creeping closer to Dunedin shores.

"My wife was arguing with a customer last night who was telling us the fish are glowing and it probably has all kinds of micro-organisms in it and this oil isn't even here yet."

But it might as well be covering the beaches, according to Phyllis who said, "We've seen a 40-percent drop in business since the spill. I've had to cut back employee's hours, and I have waitresses that've been with me for eight to nine years whose tips are down 30 percent."

To make matters worse Sam is now serving seafood that's imported instead of local, which is driving up his costs and drying out his bottom line.

Sam said, "I don't know how long we'll be able to hold on." When asked just how much he loves his business Sam turned away, put his head down and whimpered. "I love it."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Charles Schulz Philosophy

The first email I received this morning was from my friend Suzanne and really touched my heart. I feel this way about all of my Little Merry Sunshine readers, especially the regular ones. This is for all of you.

The Charles Schulz Philosophy

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the 'Peanuts' comic strip. You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just ponder on them.

Just read this straight through and you'll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.



How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.



Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.



Easier?

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money...or the most awards. They simply are the ones who care the most.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

We've Got the Candidates We Deserve

So much has been written recently about Mark Kirk, his military record, and how he apparently "misremembered it wrong" (I can barely type those words because they are so grammatically incorrect) which awards he did or didn't win and I've stayed out of the whole thing. This has been difficult for me because if you're a long-time reader of Little Merry Sunshine, you'll remember that I'm not exactly a fan of Mark Kirk's (here, here, and here, for example). Even though I've avoided this scandal, I applaud Ellen of the Tenth for the way she has relentlessly held Rep. Kirk's feet to the fire.

I can no longer stay quiet.

As I've read the articles in the Daily Herald, Chicago Tribune, and Sun-Times and the comments people have left in support of Kirk, against Kirk and also pro- and anti- Alexi Giannoulias (Mark Kirk's major opponent in the upcoming Senate race who also faces his own scandals), one thing stands out to me: We have the candidates we deserve and we have them in every single election.

How often do we all go to the polls holding our nose and pulling the lever for the "lesser of two evils" candidate? Most people I know complain a lot about how they wish we could get some better candidates. It's rare that candidates actually inspire us to be better and rarer still that we feel like they aren't bought by some deep-pocket lobbyist or another.

But don't we have responsibility for these lackluster (and often corrupt) candidates who constantly fail to live up to even minimal standards we expect of our leaders?

Less than half of all adults vote. The numbers are a bit higher during the sexy presidential elections and are truly pathetic during the "unimportant" local elections. I've got news for you: the President isn't going to do anything to get the snow plowed off your street or the potholes fixed, but your mayor's got some pull there. The local school board determines what kind of an education your child gets, not Congress. Voting takes 10 minutes, maybe, and with early voting there's simply no excuse not to vote.

Why do candidates spend so much money on tv, radio, and print advertising and do everything they can to get on the news? Because they know that most voters are too lazy to do any independent research. In the olden days (i.e., back when I turned 18 and started voting), it was tougher to do the research because the internet didn't exist. But today, we can all sit around in our pj's and vet our candidates. Doing a quick Google search of "Mark Kirk" gave me 13.9 million results in .21 seconds. Sure the tough part is going through those links and determining which ones have any validity, but you can find the answers. Oh, and if you find information that seems just a little outrageous, check it out on FactCheck.org or at Snopes.com before believing it. Most of it isn't true, especially if it comes via an email that's been forwarded 900 times.

Remember that a candidate who spends millions of dollars on tv, radio and print advertising or whose name you hear in the news constantly isn't necessarily the best candidate, they simply have a ton of money.

There are usually more than two candidates per office. In addition to the Democratic and Republican candidates, there are usually a number of lesser known 3rd party or independent candidates. Don't discount them simply because the media does and they don't have any money. If you don't know whether or not they exist, you can find the information at your county clerk's website where they'll have a complete list of all candidates in the upcoming election.

Get involved. Attend town hall meetings and debates or forums and ask questions. Write letters to the editor. Volunteer your time. Donate some money. Put out a yard sign. Host your candidate in your home and invite your friends and neighbors.

Support candidates who tell you why you should elect them rather than spending their time telling you how bad their opponent is. When we demand better, we'll get it.

Politics is nasty business because we allow it to be. Politicians lie to our faces and conduct themselves in ways that would surely get them fired instantly in the private sector because we allow them to and keep voting them into office year after year after year. Some people want to institute term limits, but I think they're unnecessary. We've already got term limits. They're called ELECTIONS.

The bottom line is this: Decisions are made by those who show up. When we show up for ourselves and demand better, we'll get better candidates. Until then, we've got the candidates we deserve.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Do You Meditate?

I do. And I love it. I always feel much calmer, more focused and I sleep better when I meditate.

The first time I meditated was in college with my friend Kirsten. I remember thinking the whole experience was kind of hokey. Sitting in a room with our eyes closed while listening to "weird" music silently for an hour with the goal of "clearing our heads" and not thinking. Hmmmmm. Okay. As you can imagine, this Type A Personality didn't do too well and I never went back.

Years later, I discovered a friend of mine was a certified hypnotherapist. She invited me to join a group she was starting of other Type A women for a once-a-week 1 hour guided hypnosis or meditation. To say I was skeptical was an understatement. At the end of the first session, we talked about our experiences and each of the other women talked about what they saw while they were in some hot air balloon, but I had no idea what they were talking about. So I talked about what I remembered and could recall a certain amount of the session, but suddenly my experience took a turn and rather than being in a hot air balloon, I was off on some other journey. Each week, my experience was vastly different from that of the groups' experiences.

A few weeks later, I had an experience in our session that would change the way I looked at guided hypnosis/meditation forever. As we were discussing our experiences, as we did each week after the hypnosis/meditation I was surprised to learn that the hypnotherapist hadn't taken us all down a road where we were to recall a tragedy and taught us to overcome it because in my hypnotized/meditative state, I relived a truly horrific and terrifying experience I'd had about 15 years earlier, fought back harder than I did at the time and actually changed the outcome. It was amazing and liberating. My skepticism was gone. I was sold.

Now I do self-hypnosis and meditate on my own a few times each week. I find it incredibly relaxing and a terrific way to help me release stress. Often I do it at night, but I also have some that I use in the mornings. Self-hypnosis/meditation has changed my life.

My friend Cindee posted the relaxing meditation below on Facebook today. It's a little different from the ones I use in that you should actually watch the video rather than focus on breathing and have your eyes closed, but I was surprised at just how effective it was nonetheless. I encourage you to take the next 9 minutes to watch this video. Turn off your phone, close your email, close the door so your kids can't walk in, turn off Pandora and just focus on you for the next 9 minutes. Trust me, your day will be better.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Northwest Suburbs of Chicago are HOT!

Adrian Gunawan, of Arlington Heights, is a finalist in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Picture from SpellingBee.com.

The Keith Sluga Family of Arlington Heights tossed out the first pitch at Wrigley Field this year, which was especially significant as this is Year One of the Ricketts' ownership of the Cubs.
Michael Ventrella from Bartlett became half the man he used to be to win The Biggest Loser. Then Lee DeWyze, from Mt. Prospect sang his way into America's hearts to become the newest American Idol winner. On the same day, Jonathan Spector, from Arlington Heights, was named to the USA World Cup Team. Olympian Evan Lysacek from Naperville came took second on Dancing With the Stars. Yes, April and May were big months for the Northwest Chicago Suburbs.

Of course, we can't forget that Glee was created by Ian Brennan, an alum of Prospect High School and formerly of Mt. Prospect. Academy Award Winner Marlee Matlin is an alum of my alma mater, John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights. Brian McBride, of the Chicago Fire, hails from Arlington Heights and graduated from Buffalo Grove High School (and shares a birthday week with me). I could go on, but I won't.

Who's the newest celebrity to come out of the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago (namely Arlington Heights)?

Adrian Gunawan is a finalist in the Scripps National Spelling Bee! Adrian is an 8th grader at South Middle School in Arlington Heights and secured his place in the finals by correctly spelling "villicus." For those of you unfamiliar with "villicus," it's a Latin word meaning "pertaining to an estate, overseer, steward." Look it up if you don't believe me.

Anyway, it's pretty cool that Adrian is in the Championship Finals. It's in Washington DC and will be televised on ABC tonight. Ya, I'm a geek and I'll be watching. Because although I don't understand hockey, I do understand spelling.

There must be something in the water here that we keep producing all these super cool people who achieve so much.

All this brings back memories of my own spelling bee days at Thomas Junior High (also in Arlington Heights). Somehow I made it to the round where the parents were invited to watch and I lost in the first round. My word was "beagle." Fortunately, today I have spell check.

Go Adrian!

Update 8:33pm: Adrian lost in Round 8, tying for 2nd place with 2 other contestants. Nice job Adrian! The 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion is Anamika Veeramani from North Royalton, OH. The winning word was "stromuhr" which measures the amount and speed of blood flowing through an artery. Yes, really.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Just What Betsey and Ross Need . . .

A Facebook and Twitter friend of mine, Scott Cisek, posted about this new liveblogging tool for cats today. Yes. Seriously.
Cats Can Now Tweet with New Liveblogging Device
from Tech-on! via Mashable.com


Prototype liveblogging device that no respectable cat (IMHO) would ever wear. From Tech-on!

If you love your cat so much that you can’t stand to be away from it — even for a hot second — you’re in luck: Sony Computer Science Laboratories (CSL) Inc has developed a liveblogging device for Mr. Mistoffelees and friends.

This revolutionary new toy, which was created with the help of the University of Tokyo, comes all pimped out with a camera, an acceleration sensor and a GPS, which monitors kitty’s every move, translating actions like walking, eating and sleeping into tweets. Sadly, there are only 11 fixed phrases currently available (I’m guessing, “I left a lovely hairball in your sneaker” is not among them), but Sony CSL is hoping to improve Fluffy’s conversational skills soon.

The device fits easily onto the cat’s collar, so as to avoid hindering its movement, which means your cat can tweet all over the neighborhood.

We’ve seen an influx of novel Twitter functions of late: tweeting trees, tweeting beds and even tweeting cows. While the tech may seem kind of, well, silly, we could see it being of use to people besides lonely cat ladies. For instance, such a collar could be exceedingly useful for zoologists and the like.

What do you think of the tweeting cat collar? Genius or cat-astrophically ridiculous?

I just have one thing to say: Betsey and Ross have a birthday coming up (they'll be 14 in a month!) and no one (and I mean no one) better get this for them. I will mess you up if you do. The absolute last thing I want is them tweeting about how they need more love or food (believe me, they get plenty of both). No one want to hear Ross opine about civil rights for cats or how he needs to look sexy for the ladies and needs some liposuction.

Plus, seriously, someone else has a birthday in just two weeks that's more important than Betsey and Ross's. I'm just saying.