Popping the question

Can you believe it? This guy is getting married.

This is my goofy brother Paul. He and his fiancee Emily are planning an October wedding. I hope she knows what she's getting into! :)

Seriously--my silly, earnest, and tenderhearted brother is one in a million. (He's come a long way from shooting rubber bands at me in my cube.) I'm so happy for both of them.

My not-so-secret love affair with typography

I love fonts. I love lettering. I always have. The clean, crisp lines of a sharp font. The smooth curves. The way the letters interact for a lovely partnership. How some fonts evoke a feeling...

Yesterday, I took a webinar (seminar transmitted over the web) on typography and Adobe Creative Suite 4. The three hour session was sponsored by AcademyX. The first two hours focused on Adobe InDesign and the remaining time was split between Illustrator and Photoshop. I learned some really neat tips, as well as some new keyboard shortcuts.

One tip to share for InDesign users: You can create a custom glyph palette to store your favorite bullets or special characters from different fonts. To do this, select Type> Glyphs. On the flyout menu, click New Glyph Set and name it. When you see a glyph that you want to add to your palette, right-click and select Add to Glyph Set. Neat, huh?

Want to browse some funky typefaces? Try Dafont or Urbanfonts.


Promises kept

When we were kids, my sisters and I tried all manner of creative schemes. The most famous of these was our pitch to open a public library in our basement. (Mom put the kabosh on that pretty quickly.) We tried to sell lemonade once, but had no customers. None. What a disappointment. As a result, we vowed then that when we were adults, we would never pass by a lemonade stand without stopping to support those inventive kids.
A few days ago, I was driving in the city and saw three girls holding signs and selling lemonade for a quarter a cup. I turned around, pulled off on the shoulder and rolled down my window. I bought a cup of sweet, tart lemonade with a little nostalgia.
Here's to you, Beth and Deb!

(photo credit: flickr.com)


Book review: The 4-Hour Workweek

If the purpose of a book is make you stop and completely re-think your assumptions about life, then The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss definitely did its job. Ferriss, a 31-year-old entrepreneur, challenges the way Americans traditionally think about the workplace. He advocates for people to stop spinning their wheels at jobs they dislike for long periods of time, simply because they feel that's what they are supposed to do. Ferriss's "lifestyle design" concept includes taking "mini-retirements" throughout your life rather than working towards a single retirement.

His plan can be summarized as DEAL (Definition, Elimination, Automation, Liberation). The section on elimination was spot on. The book really challenged my thinking with the section on automation. Throughout each stage of the plan, he gives very specific steps to help readers achieve their goals. I do have to mention that, to me, some of Ferriss's suggestions seemed something less than honest.

I liked the way the author included quotes and I enjoyed his writing style. As someone who values balancing work and life, I thought much of what he had to say made a lot of sense. It's hard to explain how I felt when I finished reading the book. Maybe empowered? I won't be adopting all of his strategies, but it's been a while since I felt like my career could be an adventure. Sign me up. :)


Winning streak!

It's official! The Tiefel Tigers are on a win streak! We won our game on Wednesday! I started at pitcher this game and had a shaky start with two walks. This is particularly troublesome when the next guy up hits a home run.

However, the Tiefel Tigers came alive during the second inning; we batted around the order and then some, scoring 6 runs. The defense was solid, both infield and outfield. Collectively, we had 11 singles and 3 doubles, which made this game our best offensively in the season thus far. This doesn't even count Jerrod's grand slam. The final score was 13-3 after 5 innings. The win brings our season record to 2-3.


Coming soon to a bookstore near you

As I mentioned before, I love a good suspense novel, so I'm always keeping an eye out for books that are going to be published by my favorite authors. There's lots to look forward to!

Coming soon:

  • The Apostle by Brad Thor (June 30) - featuring counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath
  • A Plague of Secrets by John Lescroart (June 30) - featuring attorney Dismas Hardy
  • Guardian of Lies by Steve Martini (July 14) - featuring attorney Paul Madriani
  • The Defector by Daniel Silva (July 21) - featuring art restorer and Israeli operative Gabriel Allon
  • Rough Country by John Sandford (Sept. 29) - featuring Virgil Flowers of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
  • The Professional by Robert B. Parker (Oct. 5) - featuring Boston private detective Spenser
  • Pursuit of Honor by Vince Flynn (Oct. 13) - featuring counterterrorism operative Mitch Rapp
  • Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly (Oct. 13) - featuring homicide detective Harry Bosch


Landscaping levels

My backyard has multiple personalities. Witness one side of the backyard:

And then the other side:

What can I say? It's a work-in-progress.

Summer reading suggestions

I have a [BIG] weakness for legal, political or suspense fiction. If you're looking for some escapism this summer, here are some recently published books by a few of my favorite authors.

Long Lost by Harlan Coben (March 31) = Coben remains one of my favorite authors for two reasons: the twists and turns of the plots and the sardonic style of his protagonists. This book features sports agent Myron Bolitar. If you haven't read Coben before, start with Deal Breaker.

Wicked Prey by John Sandford (May 12) = Sandford lives in Minneapolis/St. Paul and I love that I recognize some of the places in the books. (Like this one.) Over his career, his writing has evolved with sharper character sketches and dry, wry dialogue. This is the 19th novel featuring Lucas Davenport.

The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly (May 26) = This book picks up the story of journalist Jack McEvoy, an experienced reporter who is being downsized by the Los Angeles Times. Connelly spins a tale about people who have access to our personal information in this digital age.

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child (May 19) = There is something intriguing about a man who travels across the United States with nothing but his toothbrush. Jack Reacher (no middle initial) is an ex-military policeman with special skills. This is the only book on this list I haven't read yet, but I can't wait to start it and I'm sure it's going to be good. The Killing Floor is the first novel featuring Reacher.


Sweet victory

Well, the Tiefel Tigers finally played tonight after a two-week hiatus. Maybe all we needed was a little rest, because we won our first game! The final score was 15-8. We actually batted through the lineup in the second inning, scoring 9 runs in that inning alone. Joel had a grand slam, which was pretty cool to see.

Other highlights of the game included Darin's grab in right-center field and Joelle's double--she dedicated it to me...thanks, Jo! It's about time. ;)

We had lots of fans tonight, which was great. Thanks for coming out to see us play. Hope you got your money's worth!


Happy birthday

A blessed birthday to my father! Love you!

Are you an entrepreneur?

Last week I met with a SCORE counselor to talk about starting my own business. SCORE is a non-profit group devoted to providing entrepreneurs with advice and information. A partner with the Small Business Administration (SBA), it doesn't cost anything to meet with a mentor. During my one hour meeting, I asked questions and took notes. The gentleman who met with me is a retired accountant. He gave me a booklet packed with details about creating a business plan and a marketing plan. Pretty exciting stuff!


Summer reading program

I signed up for the summer reading program today. Yup, you heard me. My library runs a program--for adults--called Club Read! Nifty, huh? It's got prizes and everything. Last year I won a $10 gift certificate. (You can tell me I'm a dork or a nerd, but trust me, I've already heard it.)

Signing up for the summer reading program meant saying goodbye to school and hello to a long, carefree summer vacation. My father was dedicated to getting his daughters registered for the program at our local library, which was 15 miles away. We piled out of the hot family van and into the air-conditioned comfort of the library. My sisters and I clattered up the marble steps to the children's area on the second floor and scattered to our chosen destinations. I veered off to the left drawn to the Nancy Drew books like a magnet to the North Pole.

My peach-colored youth library card was better than a winning lottery ticket. In between visits, my mother insisted on keeping my sisters' cards so they wouldn't lose them. I was so reluctant to part with my card that she relented and let me keep it. For some people, getting their driver's license is their first big "coming of age" moment. For me, it was getting the buttercup-colored adult library card at age 12. :)


Book review: Undress for Success

Knowing that I've been thinking about striking out on my own, my dear uncle recently sent me a couple articles that appeared in the Wall Street Journal about freelancing and being self-employed. One of the articles quoted Kate Lister, who with co-author Tom Harnish, recently published Undress For Success: The Naked Truth to Making Money at Home. I decided the book was worth a look.

I was expecting the book to be about freelancing--and there is a section on freelance work--but I was surprised to find that a large part of it discussed various jobs that can feasibly be done from home, including telenurses, transcriptionists, virtual assistants, call center agents and more. It gives advice on how current employees can pitch the idea of working from home to their employers. I found it interesting to explore the idea of a remote workplace.

Side note: The authors really hammer the title theme of "undressed" throughout the book. I found it a little distracting. Personally, I was put off by the frequent references to "jammies" and "frillies."

However, if you are looking to work from home, this book might give you some good places to start. The authors have done their homework and provide many company names and websites for more information. The book also has an accompanying website: undress4success.com.


I love the library

As a homeowner, I occasionally get curmudgeonly about the taxes I have to pay. But I never, ever begrudge the money that goes toward the support of my public library. I love the library. It's one of my favorite places and I think it's one of the best concepts EVER.

We are inundated with tons of information, so much so that it's hard to remember that throughout much of history, books and education were not readily available to the general population. But libraries level the playing field. If you can't afford to go to school or even buy a book, the library offers countless educational opportunity.

I visit the library weekly (on average). And while I don't wrap my books in brown paper and twine to prevent them from being damaged (see Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-kind Family) I love the feeling of borrowing, reading and returning volumes of books.

And lest you think that libraries are an archaic concept, many of them are on the cutting edge of technology. My local library does a fabulous job of being accessible to users. I can search the catalog and view my record and more...all online.

Thank you, Andrew Carnegie!
(photo credit: wikipedia.com)