2014 Wish List

Every year I do a gadget review of all the cool products that became available throughout the year. This year I’m making it more expansive… including items that I think are awesome whether they’re gadgets or not. Enjoy!

  • Upgraded Coffee… oh, and their absolutely amazing upgrade Cocoa Butter. Just the best coffee period. You can order whole bean or K-cups. I have a video on this site explaining how to use the k-cups in the new Keuirg 2.0. There’s also a recipe for my version of their Bulletproof Coffee. Once you try it you’ll wonder how you ever lived without. Then again, your bank statements will also remind how darn expensive total deliciousness can be!
  • iPhone 6. Okay, if you’re all into the Phablet then get the 6+, but the 6 is awesome. Uber thin and lightning fast. With a return to the curved form factor I think it’s the best iPhone to date.
  • T-Mobile Plans. For under $100 a month I get unlimited calls, texts and LTE, plus free text and data internationally (and $.20 a minute calling from abroad). When my husband and I went to Japan last month the free data came in handy! I was looking up maps, translations, etc.like a pro. I came back to a bill that remained under $100. Sweet.
  • Transcend 1TB SSD. It comes in both Thunderbolt and USB… but both can be used with your Mac. Solid state drives are more robust and less prone to injury while traveling. This model is very small and it a great travel back-up drive. Under $500 too.
  • Otoro. Oh. My. God. The food of heaven itself. Tuna belly, as we’d say in English, yet sometimes called Fatty Tuna. However, not all fatty tuna is the same. The stuff we have here in the US is crap (or so I’ve found so far). Japan has the most amazing ever… and at about $10-20 a piece will rip your wallet to shreds as you order one after another. It’s amazing, and I so highly recommend it if you enjoy amazing food.
  • Jump. It’s a charging cable and back-up battery for your iDevice. Doesn’t hold a ton of juice, but is super tiny and easy to use. Mine goes with me everywhere. I charge it at night while charging the phone through it. So both are ready the next day.
  • AirBnB. Wow, what a great idea… sometimes. I love everything about this site and idea. Yes, there are a few bad apples who rent you a crappy, dirty, used place simply to pocket some extra cash. But most are professional units in seasonal vacation locations… a house at a hotel price.
  • Estately. Simon and I have recently gotten into real estate investing. This is the only app we know that is absolutely up to date on the MLS. We found new places the day they come on the market… calling our agent before she even knows about them. The app works on iDevices, but seems to be a little flaky lately. Hopefully they update it soon. Either way, it’s great if you follow the MLS.

 

Now just the list of cool things… perhaps mentioned before, or just general “in” items for your gift giving strategy!

  • Owls
  • Keurig
  • Netflix
  • Clarisonic
  • Tieks
  • iPad Air (and iPad Air 2)
  • Macbook Pro Retina
  • Neat Scanner
  • Escort Radar Detector
  • Playstation 3
  • Roku 2
  • Chromebook
  • Harry’s Shave products
  • Blue Nile

 

May this season be about giving the gifts of light, love, hope, support and commitment. Although we may use money to show our love and appreciation, ensure the gift is not all about money… but about thought and love. Use this as a springboard for the rest of the year, next year, and the rest of your life. Authentic love and commitment to each other are the greatest gifts God gave us to share.

Introverts Pushed To Be Extroverts At Work: Why?

Since when did being an introvert become such a problem? Well, since forever. Take this post by an introvert (here). This author complains about how people chastise his personality type and constantly try to “fix” him. He’s not unhappy. He’s successful. So why try to mold him into a different personality type?

 

It’s because many people think that being an extrovert is more beneficial. An article within BBC (here) explains some of the misconceptions to both the popularity and number of extroverts in society. Funny thing though, some of our most successful people are introverts… do we need them to “be more social”? Should they try to be more like their extroverted counterparts? My answer, and the answer by the majority of psychologists and social scientists, is no… introverts do not need to change. This article (here) does explain the differences between personality types and abnormal mental disorders. It notes that although we often factor them into two types, there is actually a spectrum that constitutes ones personality profile and the use of two nouns often clouds the real being. This article is more focused on the mental issues that such a bucket implies, but it makes a point (even if indirect): our personality can and will be different from others around us, and sometimes much different.

 

So does that mean if we have different personality types we should make an effort to group everyone into the one we find more favorable? My husband likens this to hair color, gender, height, and other characteristics that make us who we are… and absolutely not something we discriminate against. I agree. God has graced us all with the gifts that make us who were are. With all the books and therapists telling us to embrace our true selves, we are shocked when workmates or leadership tells us to be more like them. It’s really a leadership issue.

 

Leadership expert Mike Staver (here) summed it up best: (As a leader) how do I know the difference (between encouraging engagement and being insensitive to the personality needs of people)? The key is focusing on what you want the results to be. Let’s use an example of a large group event in which one desired result would be better relationships between coworkers of a geographically diverse company.  Given this result, what should leaders do to accomplish this result? The key is to be sensitive enough to know the difference between encouraging  versus pushing. Leaders need to create opportunities to build relationships, yet allow their teams to build these based on their own individual relationship building techniques.

 

Mike said, “Take you (Elle) as an example. You’re highly successful in your career. What has worked for you?” Good point. I’ve built long-lasting and robust friendships with a variety of people throughout my life… even as an introvert. My level of engagement shouldn’t be measured by how long I stay at a party, or how many people I introduce myself to. I get to know people via more personal and closed conversations. I build trust via actions and words coming together to show me a complete picture of someone. My relationship building is influenced by my personality, but also by many other facets that, to me, create a complete and functional way of being successful in life, and at work. So the point to this?

 

Great leaders need to understand the results they are looking to achieve (the why they are doing something) and be sensitive to how they create the opportunities for it to be accomplished (the how). There is (rarely) one right way to do something. It is arrogant to think otherwise. Great leaders know this and create an environment to encourage personality, success, and diversity. Whether you’re tall or short, have a certain hair color, are male or female, or are introverted or extraverted, your leader should leverage your talents, encourage your growth and be sensitive and accepting of who you are. That’s what leadership is all about.

 

What personality type are you? For an online version of the Myers-Briggs personality test click here.

 

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” – Albert Einstein

 

“I’m an introvert … I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.” – Audrey Hepburn

Bulletproof Coffee: Elle’s Version

This morning, after yoga, I made my bulletproof coffee. This time I added (in addition to the raw cacao butter that has become the staple), raw organic vanilla and organic collagen (https://www.upgradedself.com/products/bulletproof-upgraded-collagen-protein).

The coffee was frothy, sweet and delicious without any sugar. I wasn’t hungry all morning and am now about to grab some lunch. Still not starving though.

My recipe:
10 oz brewed Upgraded Coffee
1 tbsp Kerry Gold Unsalted Butter
1 tbsp Upgraded MCT Oil
1-2 tbsp Raw Organic Cacao Butter (Upgraded site)
2 tsp Collagen Protein Powder
1 tsp Upgraded Vanilla* optional

In a BlendTec use Beverages-> Whole Juice setting

Amazing…

Higher Mozzarella Cheese Consumption Correlates to Higher Engineering Doctorates!

http://www.tylervigen.com/view_correlation?id=3890

per-capita-consumption-of-mozzarella-cheese-us_civil-engineering-doctorates-awarded-us

This should prove to you, once and for all, that you should NOT believe the statistics you read without asking significantly more questions.

 

Significantly more.

 

Tyler Vigen thought it interesting enough to create a website dedicated to the humor in misleading statistics. His charts show that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. But considering how often people quote statistics, I fear most fail to see the complexity in the math. Just google “statistics” and you’ll see over six million results. Some educational, some to inform, many/most are statistics themselves. If you were major in Statistics, you’d be learning math and science, theory, sociology, psychology, and the various principles used to analyze data. If you’re good at analyzing data (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?_r=0), you can use statistics to… drive business, solve problems, create problems, cause trouble. Like any great power, it comes with great responsibility. That responsibility lies on those who report the statistics, but it also lies on those who consume it. You.

 

Have you ever heard the statistic that we only use 10% of our brain? I hope you never used that quote yourself. You’d be laughably wrong. Another survey shows how entire populations can be wrong because they misunderstand statistics.

 

The moral of today’s story: be wary of the statistics you read, and even more diligent if you plan to use them for anything. Look into the cause. Find fact in causation and influence. And lastly… do not quote anything until you do 🙂

 

100% of people who read this story will have found it on the internet.

 

1 comment on “Google Glass; Final Impressions”

Google Glass; Final Impressions

Final impressions? Yes, you read it right, final.

 

It’s final because I’ve decided to return Glass.

 

Why? Well, that’s the first question Google asked me when I requested my return.

 

I could have mentioned that always tilting my head up to activate the Glass, or speaking to myself in a strange teacher-like way…”Okay Glass…take a picture”, or the fact that I was always staring to the upper right… rarely making eye contact during conversations.

 

Instead I focused on the things that I figured they might be willing to change.

 

  1. It’s heavy. Sure, perhaps I’m delicate. My ear hurt after wearing Glass for anything more than 15 minutes. I couldn’t imagine wearing it as I hoped, to help with data capture and analysis in my job.
  2. It’s hot. No kidding here… this puppy gets very hot as you use it. So hot I had to take it off… and a few times hot enough that it turned itself off! I’d like to say this was with “heavy use”, but I’d hardly call 15 minutes while trying Word Lens heavy use. God forbid I was using it while traveling. I’d barely have a moment to read a few signs before the Glass retired for the day.
  3. It’s uncomfortable. I’m guessing those who wear glasses daily wouldn’t have this problem. Having perfect vision might be a downfall for Glass. I’m not used to wearing much more than sunglasses, and none of my sunglasses have those nose bud things. I don’t know how people do it. I could not wear glasses all day, every day. Blessed are those of you who do. You’re mightier than I.
  4. It’s huge. Glass doesn’t fold up. So when it’s hot, or becomes too heavy, and you take it off… well, you’re out of luck. Those huge frames can’t tuck into a pocket or purse. True, you do get a large case for it, but it’s huge. Adding it to my travel bags would be a big deal. I use a 20″ carry-on for everything up to a two-week trip. Space is a luxury and Glass asked for too much.
  5. It’s awkward. I have long hair, and maybe it wasn’t designed for people with long hair. Putting it on, flipping your head up, taking them off… all were quite the chore with long hair. You’d think a pony tail might help. Wrong. A pony tail added more grief. The Glass would pull on hair and there was less hair to buffer from the super-hot unit. Pony Tail = Bad Idea.
  6. No battery life. The battery life is too short for anything you’d really like to do with it. To be fair… the battery seemed to last as long as the unit stayed cool. So you had to take Glass off to keep yourself from being burned… just in time to charge your newly depleted unit. Purposeful? Ha! Yea sure. Undocumented feature is my guess. Either way, the battery life is too short for my intended uses. And unless your use is less than an hour, you’d be in the same boat.

Little issues were less than a problem, more of a nuisance. Videos were kept to ten seconds. Not a big deal really, and it certainly negates others from worrying about you capturing their uber candid conversations. Then there’s all the talking to it. It’s very distracting. You could touch it, well tap it actually. But that’s equally  strange. When you hit a glitch… OMG you become an insane person tilting, screaming and tapping away! If only someone filmed me my first several times using it. Let’s just say I wouldn’t want that on YouTube.

 

Finally, that wink-to-take-pictures feature… love it, hate it. Makes it so very easy to take pictures. Better than tapping, better than chatting. Just wink. Awesome. Except I took about a million pictures while taking Khan for a walk. Thank God he is so darn cute, otherwise what on earth do I use those pictures for? Deleting them? Well, that’s a head-tilting-tapping-like-crazy moment. Fun. Not.

 

What I believe the real culprit is in my inability to devour the Glass: my “Stay In The Moment” life motto. The Glass kept me from the moment. It took me out of the here and now. I kept focusing on what the future will look like, via Glass. We see it every day, people around each other staring into their phones or tablets. When my husband and I started dating that’s all he would do. Heck, every picture I ever saw of him was his eyes hooked into that screen. I asked him during date three to “put it down and focus on our moment”. He did, and still does. I love him for that strength. We all need to look into our moments and ask ourselves if we’re fully present.

 

Glass? Cool idea, poorly executed… for now. I am looking forward to more wearable technology. I want my technology better integrated into my life. I’d like it to be less intrusive. I’m waiting… Apple, Samsung, Google… wow me. Please.

 

Until then, Glass will be taking a trip back to California.

 

If you have specific questions, ask in the comments or shoot it to me via the Contact Me form.

Valentine’s Day

What could be more cliché than a love note on VDay? As dearly as I love my hubby, today I wanted to share with you what love should look like in your everyday life.

 

  • Act with compassion and empathy towards your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and every other person you share contact with
  • Know that love can be romantic, or more commonly expressed by showing respect
  • Rush to help and serve, don’t rush to judge
  • Be in the moment when you’re with family and friends. When you are listening to someone, anyone, stay in that moment. Hear what they say, and simply absorb
  • Always act with kindness, honesty, integrity and authenticity. Always.
  • Be true to yourself and others by respecting yourself and your values.
  • Actions speak louder than your words. It’s not only what you say, but look at all your actions… what you do, watch, and buy. Love is true in words, actions and value.
  • Love what you do every day with all your heart, soul and body. If you don’t love what you do, change what you do!
  • Show love daily
  • You are very important, but not the most important person. No one is. Treat everyone well, including yourself, but not at the expense of others. Loving yourself and others is a balance, neither should suffer.
  • Love is God’s greatest gift to you. Embrace love.

 

May your Valentine’s Day be warm and wonderful and that you use today to renew your love in your life!

Elle’s View On What Your Xmas List Should Have On It

Last year I wrote a post on a few of my favorite gadgets. This is the updated version for your Christmas and holiday shopping pleasure!

  • iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S IV: depending on your preferred smartphone OS, these are your choices. Fast, gorgeous and truly innovative. High security, as well as gadget-worthy fluff make these your top contenders. This year both of these come with contract-bound major carriers and contract-free companies. Virgin Mobile and TMobile have some amazing offers for those who like the “pay as you go” model. Phones off contract often cost $400-$500 more, but in the end you pay less. You can always buy a used model. All used models are “off contract” and considered “unlocked”. Call your carrier for more information.
  • iPad. Wait a wee bit longer to move forward on this if you’re planning on buying one new. The new iPad Air will come out on Friday (November 1st). It’s super light (one pound) and blazing fast. The new iPad Mini with Retina display is due out “late November”. It has the updated gorgeous display, a much faster chipset, and a few other small goodies. Both models now come with 128G storage. If you plan on buying used, the market is hot. Buy now to avoid not finding stock come holiday season.
  • Macbook Air (2013). OMG this thing is fast, and with over twelve (yes, that’s 12!) hours of battery life you will not believe this is a laptop. One disappointment is the lack of a retina display. Really Apple… any time now. It’s not like the Air is new!
  • iMac 27″. When I said the Air was fast… I was not thinking of the iMac. Configured to its fullest, the new iMac is blistering fast. Amazing application support, web support and graphics. The huge display is gorgeous. Compared to the Thunderbolt display I have for the laptop it is equal in every way. True, a fully configured iMac is expensive… but the technology will last you years without feeling old and slow.
  • Canon PowerShot SX260 HS. Need a camera besides your smartphone, but still want lightweight and small? Canon has you covered. It has filters built in like Smooth Skin, Soft Focus, Discreet, etc. There’s a little threaded hole for tripod use too! Video is HD and it takes rechargeable batteries.
  • BioCube (small aquarium). For those who love the idea of having an aquarium but can’t commit to something large, the BioCube is perfect. Built in filters, pump, and an easy to clean tank.
  • The Present (an annual clock). Way cool view on time… by seasons. Keeps you in “the present” focused on life, not the hour.
  • Pebble (smart watch). This works so well with the iPhone. Get your texts, see who is calling, and have a vibrating alarm on your wrist. Watch faces are numerous, and some sites let you make your own! Sweet.
  • Loewe handbags. The Flamenco is my favorite, in the Nappa leather. It’s like butter. The bag is quite flexible: it can be a clutch, cross body, or shoulder bag. They are lightweight, and well organized inside.

I could go on for hours sharing my favorite new things of 2013. If you have specific needs around technology shoot me an email… I might be able to offer some options. Aside from cool devices and high end products, the best gift you can give this season is love. Nothing feels better than knowing someone loves you dearly. Happy Pre-Holidays!

1 comment on “Microdiscectomy, aka Bucket of Fun”

Microdiscectomy, aka Bucket of Fun

I just had a L4/L5 microdiscectomy. Prior to my surgery, I researched this to death. The responses from patient experiences were so diverse that I thought I’d share mine.

I’m starting this the day after surgery. They did pre-op work a few days prior. That included blood work and instructions.

The day of surgery went well. My hospital teams were fantastic, supportive, and kind. Every one of them were lovely. I was kept comfortable and informed. I was set up with an IV on my left hand. Drugs to relax me, help with nausea and an antibiotic were added pre-surgery. I met with the anesthesiologist and his team. They were funny! Professional, of course, but each had a great sense of humor.

After that I don’t remember a thing until I woke up in recovery. Got to love that. And although I thought I was alert, looking back I was only half-awake 🙂 The surgeon came in and said everything went perfectly, but the herniation was much larger than they thought. He said it was good of us to do this now considering its size.

Went through some post-op instructions, not that I remember much, so I’m thankful they gave me paperwork. Then I went home. Got to the hospital at 530am, and left at 945am. Surgery was from about 730 to 9. The pain meds given via IV were still working. I didn’t begin to experience pain until mid-afternoon.

But once that pain hit, it hit hard. Good news, it was not the typical back pain I used to get. Bad news is that the incision site hurt, and hurt something fierce. The pain meds they gave me barely dulled it. I called in today to beg for something better… and they came to my rescue. Don’t misunderstand, I expect to feel pain… and am okay with it because it makes me remember to take it easy. But this pain is overwhelming, kills my appetite and limits my desire to move at all. Not good if you’re trying to recover.

Week One
My pre-planning helped out. I did the following things to make life post-surgery a little easier:
– Put everything I needed to use in the bathroom on the counter (things that may be in a cabinet, lower drawer, or under the sink)
– Put bottles of water and juice on the kitchen counters. I also included some fruit and snacks.
– Set up an area for me to work from downstairs (I usually work from a top floor office in the house). That included two side tables, phone, headsets, laptop, iPad, etc.
– Set up the meds (including throat lozenges; your throat will hurt from the intubation).
– Set up some on-call family (So much thanks to my amazingly perfect and wonderful husband, my exceptionally helpful son, and my uber supportive and helpful parents… I couldn’t have gotten through that first day without them).

Pre-planning couldn’t have helped me with everything. On Day Two we switched pain meds. The ones I had did little to relieve pain, so I was prescribed Dilaudid. Wrong choice. I experienced all of the severe side effects and, having zero desire to spend the night in the ER, I toughed it out. Stupid, stupid, stupid. So learn from me… read the darn side effect list and call your doctor if you experience the severe, life threatening ones. I wanted to avoid the drama. I didn’t want to be the needy ER patient. Don’t be as stupid as I was… if you’re experiencing a severe reaction do something about it immediately. It was scary there for a while.

The next few days are not the bucket of fun you thought they might be. Kidding here… but pain, aching, inconvenience, being house-bound… all takes its toll on you. By Friday (day four) I was dying to get out but too uncomfortable to do it.

Week Two

Not a good start. With the Dilaudid complication I may have reinjured the disc. A new MRI ordered. The leg pain has not gotten better and is actually worse than it was pre-surgery. The incision site is much better. Not without pain, but much, much better. It amazes me how quickly the body heals. God is grand 🙂 I can understand why week two is still a very limited activity week though, that pain at the disc site is still strong and shocking. Doc said there’s blood and inflammation that takes weeks to heal. He isn’t “worried” about that pain though.

MRI came back and the news was extraordinary… surgical site and disc look perfect! We see the nerves have unobstructed pathways and the disc itself (although still having a small bulge) looks practically normal. As I’ve said “practically perfect in every way” 🙂 Great news and a huge weight off my shoulders. Week two concludes with far less pain and all fears of another surgery nixed.

One thing to note: as I feel better the opportunity for me to do something stupid, something I’m not supposed to do for another four weeks, becomes much easier. Feeling better teases me to push the limits of the last two weeks. I want to do more, want to be me again. This is difficult. Even my husband sees me walking faster and doing more. He too becomes lulled into assuming I’m back to normal (pun intended). These next four weeks will be challenged not by pain, but by my ambition.

A couple of points if you’re looking to my experience to make some personal choices of your own:
– Day One you won’t be able to work at all, even from home. You’re too “out of it” from the surgery. Plan to take it uber easy that day regardless of your lifestyle.
– Week one can and should be okay for someone who works from home provided it does not require bending, lifting or twisting. Aside from complications, you will be alert and mentally active. Working helped me stay *active* even when my body couldn’t. Keep major decisions light this first week though. Pain does affect decisioning.
– Week two was much easier on my body and with the pain lessening daily, my need to be very active increased. Work is almost vital at this stage! I’m lucky to be able to work from home (when I’m not traveling). For those who will have to take time off from an office gig (or otherwise) do try to find something very productive and meaningful to do these next few weeks… otherwise you may go crazy. Not kidding here. You’ll want to be far more active than you can be. Work solved for that. If work is not an option for you, find something big. You’ll thank me later.
– The pain was absolutely the worst the first three days. It gets better every day after that. Not great, and sometimes quite annoying, but I managed without any pain meds after day two.
– Take the help. Heck, insist on it. You do need to rest and recuperate. This becomes harder to realize as the pain subsides… but don’t relent then.
– Be thankful of the miracles you just experienced; the removal of your injured disc and the amazing healing your body is doing afterwards. I pray and thank God daily.

I know this article is different than my foodies reviews and my IT Strategy efforts. We have full and complete lives. Sharing information so that we can all remain connected is important. Fear is the worst. I hope this post may alleviate the fear others looking into this type of surgery face. My prayers are with you.

1 comment on “Eminem, Stupidity or Risk, And Other Stuff I’ve Been Meaning To Write About”

Eminem, Stupidity or Risk, And Other Stuff I’ve Been Meaning To Write About

One of my favorite Eminem songs is Without Me. Imagine my (joyful) surprise to hear the song as the new Despicable Me II trailer soundtrack! My husband and I laughed at the choice, but we love it. The song will require some obvious editing to play nicely within this movie, but I love the risk! It takes real talent to mix adult humor within a kids movie without said humor becoming trashy. Looks like Despicable Me II will be another winner 🙂

See the picture below? I often teach that risk is the only was to break out of the norm and create the new. I challenge you today to answer this: Was Caligula being stupid, or simply taking a risk? Back in those days the Roman people (and so many more cultures) believed in deities that ruled the ocean, air, weather, animals, love, etc. What Caligula did was take a huge risk against this unseeable god and fight him the only way he knew how. Did he learn something from it? Absolutely! Perhaps it was that Poseidon didn’t exist… or that he couldn’t be killed by simply attacking the ocean front. Think about it another way… if your known enemy was as large as the ocean, would you march up to it and bat away at the small waves? I think Caligula was brave, maybe arrogant, but very very brave. He was also a risk taker, and that’s what made him a leader.

All leaders will make mistakes, we are only human. But nothing new is learned without taking huge risks. Remember the great words of Captain Hindsight: “Hm. You see those windows on the right side? They should have built fire escapes on those windows for the higher floors, then people could have gotten down. And then on the roof; they should have built it with a more reinforced structure, so a helicopter could have landed on it.” – Captain Hindsight

Hindsight. Ha!

In other news, the new Violet Glass book, Devil In The Blue Dress, came out in May. The genre is scifi/fantasy/horror, although there’s some romance in it, I wouldn’t want anyone to mistakenly purchase it hoping to read the next great love story! Book three, The Mourning After is due late this year. A non-fiction book, I Love Being A Girl, is due out 2013/2014. You can find the books on Amazon in both print and eBook. I promise my readers that my eBooks will always be less expensive than any print edition.

I have a bunch of Foodie Reviews to add, so stay tuned for those. Until next time… same bat time, same bat channel!

Also, coming up soon will be an IT series on the cost of quality and how to grow your organization from a testing focused team to one of quality management. You’re welcome to submit questions in advance!