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

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

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!

1

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: Gadgets!

  • iPad Mini. I bought both the new Ipad (4th Gen) and the iPad Mini the day they came out. I have to admit that I’ve used the Mini way more. Its small size is perfect for travel, reading and quick web browsing needs. Pair it with a slim back cover and the Smart Cover and you preserve the uber weightlessness of this gorgeous device. Buy the largest storage size you can afford, and only include the 4G if your phone doesn’t support tethering/hotspot capabilities. 
  • iPad. They just get better and better. The newest one, the 4th generation, is both fast and breathtaking. The display is beyond anything else you will see. Text/fonts, pictures, web pages… all stunning. All current iPads boast front and rear cameras for Facetime, pictures and videos. iMessage is also a standard app on all current iPads (iOS6 required.)
  • iPhone 5. And you thought the Retina display couldn’t get better? Now you have more of it. Wow. It’s so thin too, and lighter than its predecessor. Amazing. Buy a cover immediately to preserve your device from little scratches. 4G/LTE also makes this one amazing phone.
  • iPhone 4S. If you don’t have an iPhone 5 I sure hope you have the next best phone… its older sibling.
  • Samsung Galaxy S III. If you have to own an Android, or prefer no-contract phone companies (like MetroPCS), this is the phone for you. It’s huge though, so unless you have big pockets, or carry a purse, this will be cumbersome. Bright and detailed display, fast processing, fantastic camera pictures, tethering/Hotspot, and 4G make this the front runner without question. MetroPCS has an unlimited 4G plan for $55/month (as of this post), thus the best deal for an uber phone and unlimited 4G data.
  • Arctic p311 (bluetooth headphones). These are great for personal media listening. Easy to pair, light and comfy, not expensive, and USB rechargeable make them a great pair for around the house. They don’t have noise cancellation so I don’t recommend them for traveling.
  • Sony MDRNC22/PIN (noise canceling earbuds.) Like most, they use batteries and can use them quickly if not shut off. But their noise cancellation is excellent, and the earbud design is so comfortable. I use these when I travel international so I can sleep. The larger headphones make sleeping uncomfortable. They are for medium size ears. Also, I use them to watch movies and listen to music only while traveling. Some complain about their tone quality… my two pairs have been fine, perfect even. I don’t play anything too loud though.
  • MacBook Pro. I’ve had several, including two MB Airs, and couldn’t recommend them more to anyone looking for a laptop. Their speed, ease of use, reliability, graphics, lightness and over-all fun make them the perfect choice. Yes, they are expensive, but used ones come on the market (via Craigslist) all the time. Most who own Apple Laptops keep them in immaculate condition (sans teenagers), so look for a year old model and save yourself a bit. Don’t be surprised though to see the price drop by a mere $100-$200… they hold their value very well. The new Retina display models are gorgeous, but only come with solid state drives… which means smaller amount of storage for your buck. If it will be your only machine I’d recommend either an external hard drive coupled with it, or a regular MacBook Pro.
  • iMac 27″. OMG. I don’t even know where to start. You can configure this puppy to have 3.4GHz quad-core i7, 32G RAM, 3TB drive that includes a solid state drive, Nvidia Gforce 2G, with a wireless trackpad and keyboard. All that goodness hidden inside this svelte reduced-glare 27″ screen. Not an impulse purchase though… wait times average four weeks. Fine.. stop reading here, order one, and come back… I’ll wait.
  • Back? Good… congrats on your new iMac. Mine’s due at the end of the year… OMG. 😉
  • Apple TV. This black box has brought TV into a new realm for me. We got rid of cable almost two years ago and have never looked back. Using Netflix, iTunes and other digital content, we can share this library with the entire house. Also, with your Mac computer, you can leverage your TV as an “air” monitor. Very cool.
  • PlayStation 3. I like this console more for its Blue-ray and network server capabilities. It also has Netflix and web browsing available. As for gaming… it’s a personal choice. My hubby and I like both PS3 and Xbox. My son prefers the Xbox (console-wise.) Since we defer to his games we play a lot more Xbox.
  • Blendtec Blender. I love this thing. It makes the very best smoothies and frozen drinks. Ice is mere snow when it’s done. Fruit is puree, soft and sweet. You will end up eating/drinking far more healthy simply because everything is so palatable. I had the Vitamix too and prefer the Blendtec due to its many pre-set options and five-sided pitcher. Easy to clean as well.
  • Breville BOX650XL 1800 watt Toaster Oven. This thing is the bomb! We got it as a wedding gift and use it every single day. My husband no longer uses a toaster since this toasts even large pieces of bread evenly every time. Pizza, cookies, pies, small chickens, finger foods, etc. It bakes, toasts, broils, etc. Easy to clean and very modern. Use your oven a whole lot less with this addition!
  • Cuisinart CPK17 (electric kettle.) Perfect temperature every time, for every type of beverage. Also has a “keep warm” feature for refills. Another morning staple.
  • Keurig B70 Platinum. Drink coffee? This machine makes the perfect cup, every time. You have a huge selection of coffees, or can get a reusable filter and make your own. Love it!
  • Conair Extreme Hand-Held Steamer. Worked wonderfully on my wedding dress. Need I say more? 😉
  • Oregon Scientific RM313PNA Self-Setting Atomic Clock. It also projects the time on the ceiling with soft red numerals. Easy to read above you yet no bothersome glow. Always the right time too. Sweet!

 

I could go on for hours. If you have a specific product need feel free to ask; it’s likely I’ll have a tried and true recommendation! Merry Christmas 🙂

 

Coming up next… Technology Management and Career favorites!

1

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: Naples FL

  • McCabes Irish Pub (5th Ave, Downtown). Great food and a truly authentic atmosphere… unlike The Pub (Mercado Plaza, North Naples), which has cheesy bar quality food and lousy service.
  • Cafe Lucret (5th Ave, Downtown). The best Miso Sea Bass and freshly made mini doughnuts ever.
  • TruLucks (4th Ave, Downtown). Their seasonal seafood is absolutely perfect. Great desserts and a large wine list. Personally though… I can’t stand when they charge me $12 for a glass of Dr. Loosen Riesling when the bottle itself is $11.50. The food is one of the best in Naples though.
  • Baleen’s (at La Player Hotel off Vanderbilt). Seasonal menu and a beach-side view. Perfect.
  • Dairy Queen Grill and Chill (7th and 41). They have chocolate soft serve. Period.
  • Provident Jewelers (5th Ave, Downtown). Both “estate” and new pieces. Decent prices and great selection. Very intelligent staff.
  • The beach off 12th. Lots of parking and right by the pier. Walk south for more privacy.
  • Boating. You’ve got to boat. Don’t rent one if you don’t own one elsewhere. No one appreciates a novice boater causing havoc. Instead make a friend in Naples and have them take you out 🙂
  • Marco Island. Lovely place to walk around and visit. Small island with lots of history.
  • The Everglades (south on 41). There’s a walk-about “park” that is absolutely amazing. Summer time will be pretty, but buggy. Winter will have tourists. Choose your irritant 😉
  • Trader Joe’s (41… VERY North Naples/Bonita Springs). For those of us from California, it’s like home. Gourmet, organic and world foods with very low prices. They get shipments in daily. One hellava drive for those of us downtown, but worth it.
  • Port Royal and Royal Harbor. The best boating places to live.
  • Jimmy P’s (41 near Golden Gate). OMG… the best pork roast ever. Ever. Full service butcher and deli.
  • Tony’s Off Third (off 3rd, Downtown). Best bakery (cakes, etc.)
  • Waterside Mall (41 and Pine Ridge- North Naples). The only mall really. Apple, Burberry, Coach, Saks, Nordstrom, Louis V, MaxMara, Van Cleef and Arpels, Williams Sonoma, etc. A few good eateries too.
  • 5th Avenue Downtown. Small unique shops and interesting eateries. Avoid the “theater” as it’s just a local group of small-town players (same people different stories.) Plenty of delicious dessert places and art boutiques to sweeten both the mouth and the eye though 😉
  • The Zoo (Goodlette Rd.) Small, family run zoo with an amazing way to share the wildlife experience.
  • Custom Aquatic Studios (Enterprise, off Airport). Gorgeous and healthy fish that are well-loved. Small selection, but they take care of their regulars.

Coming up next… Gadgets!

3

Tis’ The Season… To Appreciate What You Have

Today I heard an American use a british term. Tis’ the season to embrace who YOU are, grateful for what YOU have. Do not covet thy neighbor. I am always shocked when I hear people try to be something, someone, they’re not. Do they really see themselves so lowly that the only way out is to pretend to be something different? As children we do this: play pretend. We pretend to be the teacher, the Mom (or Dad), the wife, the superhero, the shop owner, the spy. But we grow out of it… or so most of us do apparently. The truly sad thing is to see someone that hasn’t grown out of their fantasy life. I feel so sorry for them. The mother in me wants to hug them and tell them they will be just fine… that they too will grow up and find their calling, their purpose. The realist in me whats to shake my head and be appreciative they’re not in my family. I couldn’t imagine their level of drama on a daily basis.

 

Yes, drama. Living in a fantasy world is pure drama and nothing less. Think about the young, or the mentally ill, that live deep within their fantasies. These adults aren’t without some levels of reality (or they too would be deemed mentally ill), but they have something that keeps them from embracing who they really are… their purpose. To be clear, these aren’t the people that want more in their lives, constantly strive for change. These are the people that have instituted aspects of this fantasy life into their real lives. They pretend to be something, or someone, they’re not. Like this lady today… American, with a slightly southern accent nonetheless, using british terms. If her self esteem wasn’t so low I’d laugh, but I really felt sorry for her. Once you looked further you could see other tell-tale signs she wasn’t happy with herself. Dyed hair, heavy eye and lip make-up… heavy makeup in  general, talking about herself. The clerk, a man, wasn’t paying her enough attention, so she’d walk up to him often and start a new topic of conversation. That’s when she described her friends car that “has a decorated bonnet this time of year.” OMG, I nearly laughed out loud… no joke. She weaved in a few more terms throughout her rant… including “y’all” (HAHAHA). I kid you not, this was an actual breathing human being… pretending to be british… to impress some poor guy… who had no interest in her. Yes it was… sad.

 

So why am I sharing this with you, my dear technical engineering friends? Your life happiness, and thus your happiness within all aspects of you life (like your career) fully depend (100%) on your authenticity. If you are not authentically you, one hundred percent… one hundred percent of the time, you will not be fully successful. Period. I cannot stress this enough. You may see slight gains, or moments of success, but they will be fleeting… because they are not yours. Only you being fully authentic will create you’re own fully authentic success. That success will be based on your gifts and talents. Because it’s based on who you are at your core, your success and happiness will be deep, genuine, rewarding, and growing.

 

Remember, you will never be fully successful or happy being someone, or something, you’re not. Even if it’s just a little extension that’s not authentically you it will affect who you really are. Tis’ the season to embrace your personal gifts and talents, to be thankful and grateful for what you have and who you are. Instead of pretending, look to grow your authentic gifts and find purpose to your life. It may not be the life within your dreams, but it will be your dream life if it’s really yours. 

 

I realize that those who weave fantasy into their lives rarely notice it, and often excuse their behaviors as rational. My post today isn’t for them, for I fear they’d simply dismiss it as not applying. This post is for you. You should reflect on your behaviors, your outward (and inward) personality, your desires and actions, and ask yourself if you are authentic. Authenticity doesn’t protect you from life’s hazards, but it does ensure your contentment, real happiness, joy, success and peace. If you ever ask yourself why life isn’t going your way, wonder why you encounter so many challenges, or seem to be waiting for that “break”, then it’s likely you haven’t come to appreciate your authentic self.