October 29, 2009

[Education/Learning] Read 40 Modern Non-Fiction books everyone should read – The Art of Learning

Posted in Education / Learning at 9:30 am by Heather

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you’ve ever seen the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer or read the book of the same name, you know who Josh Waitzkin is. What you may not know is that after the book/movie came out Josh slowly started turning away from chess and became interested in Tai Chi, eventually winning the 2004 World Push Hands championship.

This book breaks down how Josh goes about learning and becoming top in his field. What he doesn’t mention is the intense determination and drive you need to practice hours and hours a day on something – one character trait I don’t exactly have.

That being said, his detailed explanation of his learning algorithm was very interesting, especially his part about “Making Smaller Circles”. Throughout the book, he relates stories of chess matches and Tai Chi matches, making this a more interesting read than you might think from a non-fiction book.

I definitely recommend it to anyone who’s interested in improving their learning technique, interested in chess, or wants an intriguing read on a plane ride.


October 28, 2009

Travel / Adventures – Hot Chocolate Restaurant [October 27, 2009]

Posted in Restaurants, Travel & Adventures at 4:33 pm by Heather

Hot Chocolate

1747 N Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 489-1747

* * * * *


A girlfriend of mine and I went here last night to catch up, and I am so glad we decided on Hot Chocolate.

First – make sure to call and make reservations; if we hadn’t we might not have gotten a table since the place was packed.  Surprising for a rainy Tuesday night (although the 1/2 price wine might have had something to do with that)

The service we had was excellent – my friend is pregnant and misses alcohol so she asked the waiter to have the bartender whip up something mocktaily, and was very pleased with the results.  I had the cold chocolate, which was okay – if a bit bitter.

We both ordered the Frisee salad, and I must say that is was one of the best salads I’ve ever had – the flavors melded so beautifully, and my friend agreed.

For dinner, I got the mac and cheese, and it was more on the runny side than what you expect from Kraft, but it was fantastic – you just eat it with a spoon instead of a fork.  The portion was relatively small, but I could have just eaten half of it as it was so filling and delicious.

For dessert, I got the mexican hot chocolate, and mused aloud to my waitress that I wish I could get a half order of the donuts, because there was no way I was going to eat the whole thing.  She said “let me see what I can do” and came back with a half order which was two donuts and I still could only eat one.

But, awesomely enough, she offered to-go cups for our hot chocolate (which was WONDERFUL), and a to go box for my dessert.

I will definitely be back here again, and it’s officially one of my favorite restaurants in the city.

October 13, 2009

[FOR OTHERS] 053. Volunteer at the Chicago marathon

Posted in For Others at 1:38 pm by Heather

No sooner had I posted my 101 in 1001 list than highlife adventures went and put an opportunity to volunteer for the Chicago Marathon on the calendar.  Ding – off I went to sign up, even though it was a 6:45 am start the night after a pub crawl, ugh.   Thank goodness our start time got changed to a more reasonable 11:15 am for the second shift, and we found out that our volunteer assignment was at the finish line, pouring beer for the runners finishing their 26.2 mile stint.  Talk about a plum assignment, even if it was 40 degrees out at 11 am.

However, if the organization of the Marathon volunteers was any indication, we are seriously lucky that Chicago didn’t get the 2016 olympics, as this was a very poorly run ship at the Balbo checkin. 

First, the volunteers giving out jackets and hats told us that they were out of hats – despite us seeing boxes of them, and observing the volunteers stuffing 5 or 6 of them into their bags to take home themselves.  Talking to the operations person in charge didn’t even do anything!

Next, when we checked in at 11:30 am, we were told to go to the hospitality tent to grab lunch before heading out to our area at noon.  When we got to the sandwich station, we were informed we needed tickets, which, of course, we didn’t have.  Liz, the event leader from highlife went to work out the situation, and was told “Well you have to leave in 10 minutes to get to your station – you don’t have time to eat!”  Liz was a champ and got folks the tickets, and I was thankful I had a larger breakfast than normal.  so 20 highlifers chowed down sandwiches in about 5 minutes so we could meet up and go to our station.

… and we waited there for 30 minutes while they tried to find wrist bands to say we’re over 21 and check IDs (even though we have to be 21 to join the group).  Eventually they found the bands and gave them to Liz who just started handing them out anyway.  Crazy!  At least when we got to the volunteer station, things went much better.

The runners were pretty excited to get beer at the end; some of my favorite quotes were “I have been waiting all morning for this!” and “The thought of this beer is what got me through the last 3 miles”.  The runners were all handed bananas and bagels, and thus the volunteer chant became “Free Beer! It goes great with bananas!” 

Interestingly, there were several female runners who looked at the beer skeptically until we informed them it was full of carbs, at which point they cheered up and drank the beer.  They drank enough beer that we were tapped out around 3 pm – literally and figuratively – no more beer!

I got to be a marathon pouring expert with a system of just leaving the tap on and getting the beer out without much head – and the day was sunny and so it wasn’t really too bad, until you spilled cold beer on your fingers. 

I’d definitely do this again, even though it was more exhausting than I would have thought…

October 9, 2009

[30 DAY HABITS] 083. Meditate daily

Posted in 30 Day Habits at 7:58 am by Heather

I was trying to do these 30 day challenges once a month, but last month’s got off kilter, and I’ve gotten started late this month on my next challenge.  That being said, I already know what NEXT month’s challenge is going to be (Hello November, can we say NaNoBloPo? The hard part will be deciding WHICH blog to post on for 30 days…)

In any case, this month’s goal is to mediate daily [not mediate as in negotiations, of course].  I used to do this much more regularly, as I started in 2005 with a meditation class at a good friend’s metaphysician (whom I’ve been going to ever since, and it’s wonderful).  However, with all my moves in the last years, I’ve gotten out of this habit, which is truly a shame.

My metaphysician, donna, made a meditation cd which has a 12 minute guided meditation.  12 minutes also happens to be the amount of commercials in a standard 1 hour TV show, hence the length – it’s something we all should be able to fit in our day.  I’ve ripped the meditations to mp3 and am currently on day 3 of 30 and WOW, have I missed this.  Meditating just makes me a little calmer, a little happier and a little more peaceful.

October 8, 2009

[Friends and Family] 044. Upload skydiving video for Cindy and Brenda

Posted in Friends and Family at 8:19 am by Heather

I’ve posted this on my facebook page, but I realize that my aunt Cindy still doesn’t have a facebook page, and neither does my cousin Kristy.

What this video doesn’t capture is when my (hot) New Zealand tandem jumper says “Okay, I’m going to straddle you now”… Fine with me!

October 6, 2009

[30 day challenge] 076. Declutter house (15 min/day)

Posted in 30 Day Habits at 9:51 am by Heather

This challenge was actually a lot harder than I had expected, despite the visual progress I could see.

I managed to get up to 23 days, and then went to Ohio to visit Cedar point; it’s hard to declutter when you are out of town.  And when I got back, the next day I didn’t want to do anything at all.  And as we all know, once you skip the first class of college, it just gets easier to keep skipping.  And then I got the flu (or that’s what I think it might have been), and was not up for doing much of anything but sleeping and well, sleeping.

So I will try and finish off the remaining 5 days at least, but I’m not sure this has become a habit like intended when I wrote this up.  I’ve gotten through my office, my dining room, living room, and bedroom (minus the closet).  I’m really not sure why it got harder and harder to complete as I went on, but it did.  When things are clean, I have less of a reason/excuse to procrastinate.

I’ve still got the kitchen, bathroom and closet that can really use some decluttering, so we’ll focus on the first two for the remaining 5 days.  Maybe I’ll find Wrigley’s 30 ft training leash in the process.

October 5, 2009

A modification of The List and The Plan

Posted in 101 in 1001, progress at 12:16 pm by Heather

I’ve been wrestling with this post for a while – I know it is the right thing to do, but I just don’t want to admit that I’m encouraging my perfectionism by this list.  I KNOW it’s the truth, but part of the disease of perfectionism is that I don’t want to admit that well, I’m not perfect (durr).

So I’m making two changes on this list (which I still think is a GREAT list, and would like to actually do everything on it, FYI):

  1. I will consider this project a success if I complete a majority of the tasks on the list (51, for those of you who hate math)
  2. Instead of paying $5 for every incomplete task, I will donate at least $50/mo to http://www.donorschoose.org/ and make a quick post about what my contribution helped

I’m sure that these modifications will still make my life interesting and get some really awesome things accomplished, and yet not aggrivate my sens of failure if I’m not perfect and don’t complete everything.

Week 6 of 143 plans

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:32 am by Heather

Here’s the to-do list for this week:

  • call casino host about penn & teller show in Vegas
  • meditate for 12 min / day
  • complete lesson 2.2 in Rosetta stone
  • Finish first course for CCNA
  • call mom
  • call claire
  • take own zone test
  • spend 15 minutes a day decluttering the house, currently working on the bedroom and then moving on to the hallway and bathroom
  • Volunteer at the Chicago Marathon
  • Visit the Field Museum

What I managed to accomplish last week:

  • call mom
  • call claire
  • post 5k race day photos / blog entry
  • weigh in

October 4, 2009

[Healthy Lifestyle] – 006: Walk a 5k – Race for the Cure

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:46 pm by Heather

006: Walk a 5k – Race for the Cure

When I posted my list, this was one of the most popular activities that other folks wanted to do with me.  And based on the success of this, I am pretty sure that I’m going to want to do another 5k, although I’m still not into running.

I want to thank everyone who donated in any way they could – you astounded and amazed me with your generosity.  My original goal of $300 was obliterated within days, and I had to keep raising my goal thanks to all you wonderful people – I ended up raising over $1200!!  Thank you all SO much for your support!

Race day was the perfect day for a walk – not too cloudy, not too bright, and a perfect 65 degrees – perfect temperature for exercising in.  My team and I met at Caribou Coffee and then walked over to the start.  Liz and I had registered as runners, even though I had zero intention of running – but I wanted my RFID chip so I could get an actual time; thanks to Beth B, I knew that no one was going to care if I ran or walked the race, even if I signed up as a runner.

The 10k race went off first, and then the “real” 5k runners were let off.  Our little team of four decided to hustle in front of the walkers and we ended up in no-mans land, since we started about 2 min after the runners and about 2 min before the strollers.  Because Lara and Mark had conspicuous white walker bibs, we decided to run the first .1 – .2 miles – up hill.   Lara was awesome and walked with me, while Mark and Liz decided to keep running and it was really amazing to be the only people walking north on Michigan avenue with the traffic blocked off.

My hip was slightly sore thanks to walking up and down Schaumburg intersections the day before for Peanut Day, but the race went pretty well.  My goal was to finish the 5k in less than an hour – when I walk on the treadmill, I generally walk a 3.1 or 3.2 mph pace, so I knew an hour was a good goal to shoot for.  When we passed the third mile marker, we were right around 49 minutes with only .1 miles to go, so that was well below my goal!  In fact, the results posted showed I finished in 49:32.2 – Just under a 16 min mile (15:58/mi to be exact) and an average of 3.75 mph – not too shabby!  Plus, the views were awesome – we got to get a great view of the art institute and Buckingham fountain.

After the race, we went to the sponsor tents and got a bagel or bananas and picked up some swag.  There were some crazy dancers doing what ended up being aerobics.  JUST what I want to do after a race – aerobics!  Instead, we decided to head to grab brunch at Yolk, but seems as though every other runner had that idea, so it was off to brunch at a nearby hotel and then the blue line home, and a very long, much needed nap.