Sunday, June 22, 2008

Devil in the White City

I recently finished reading Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. My swim coach loaned it to me, but then said "I hated it. It's gruesome and scary". So my question to him was "why did you loan it to me, then????". (He didn't have a response to that.) I ran out of other books to read so I decided to give it a try. I honestly didn't even know what it was about when I started reading. For one thing, I thought it was fiction. Although it reads like a novel, it's not. It's the true story of the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 and a serial killer who takes advantage of the fair to lure single women to their death's. I didn't find it scary, though. If it had been about a killer who broke into women's house through their front windows or screened-in porches, that would have freaked me out! But, I don't think the author went in to too much detail about the murders. He got the point across, but that's not what I take away from the book. I mostly recall the fascinating details about how the World's Fair came to be and the amazing accomplishments to get it built. I'm sort of ashamed that I lived in Chicagoland for seven years but didn't really know any of this story. I mean, I knew Chicago had hosted a world's fair, but that's about it. I couldn't have told you when it was, where it was, what the attractions were, or any other relevant detail. I totally recommend this book to anyone with even a slight interest in history.

I also think I've decided that I might be beginning to enjoy nonfiction-history-that-reads-like-a-novel more than a lot of the fiction I've read recently. There just doesn't seem to be that much good fiction out there right now. Maybe I'm just missing it somehow? Honestly, I can't think of a GREAT fiction book that I've read since the 7th Harry Potter last summer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend

No, I'm not sporting any new rings or anything. But, I will get to spend a lot more time thinking about jewelry when I start my new job at Helzberg Diamonds on July 7th!!!!!! I'll be a Project Manager/Developer in the IT department. They're located in North Kansas City, about 3 miles north of where I currently work. I am totally excited!!

I told the folks at my current job the news yesterday. They tried to get me to stay, but I'm convinced that it's time for a change. I did get sad as I was telling some of my teammates that I'm leaving. I'll miss my close friends there. I've been wanting the news to be public, because I've felt a little guilty keeping something from them. So, I'm glad everything is out in the open and I can continue with the "moving on" process.

I totally saw God's hand in this decision. For example, while I was in the interview process, I wanted to read a book written by the guy that ran Helzberg for about 40 years. The book is really geared toured coaching someone on entrepreneurship, but the author gives tons of examples from his days at Helzberg. So, I figured it'd be a good introduction to the company and the culture. I looked it up on the online catalog for the county library and discovered they have two copies of it. One at the main library (not near my house) and one at the branch closest to me!!! I totally see that as a God thing. Providing an easy way for me to get and read the book.

I was also worried about the timing of the new job because of some financial benefits I'd get from Block at the end of June. But, God worked that out, too. Because of some schedule constraints, the interview process took a little longer than the hiring manager intended. He even apologized to me for it taking so long. I thought to myself "no, that's really quite all right". Because the longer it delayed, the better it would be for me in terms of leaving Block.

Also, I already had a vacation planned for the first week in July (going to the swimming Olympic Trials in Omaha and then the wedding of a close family friend in VT). I was worried my vacation would conflict with starting a new job. But, the hiring manager was totally cool about that, too.

Oh, and it worked out so that I only have to work one day next week at my current job but they'll pay me for the whole week. I'm open to suggestions on what I should do (I've never been to the Liberty Memorial and am thinking this might be a great time to go see it). I'm also planning to start stripping the wallpaper in my dining room (the only room left in my house that still has wallpaper).

Life is good. Praise the LORD!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Good Friends

This past weekend, I drove to St Louis to visit Nanci, Aaron, their daughter Becca, and our friend Marissa. Marissa flew in from Minnesota for the weekend. Nanci, Mariss, and I were in the same sorority in college and have stayed close friends (side note: I'm having a hard time believing that my 10 year college reunion is this fall. How can 10 years possibly have gone by?). Nanci grew up in St Louis, but she has lived in Israel, North Carolina and Connecticut since college. I jumped up and down with excitement (and clapped, too!) when she and her husband decided to move to St Louis a couple summers ago! I can make it from my house to hers in 3 and half hours. SOOOO great!

Becca is 11 months old and is just the cutest thing. She smiles, laughs, and is very easy going. Mariss and I think she looks exactly like her daddy. It's funny, because Nanci doesn't see the resemblance.

Anyway, we had a great weekend!!!! It's so fun to be with friends that have known me for so long. They know all my back history, so to speak. Even though I only see Nance about once a year (we talk on the phone all the time, though) and Mariss once every couple of years, it's always like no time has passed when we're together. When we get together, we mostly just sit around and chat. And that is totally cool. I love friends like that. No agenda needed. Just being together is enough.

We did make an excursion to the Missouri Botanical Gardens on Saturday, though. I've been wanting to see the gardens ever since my brother was in med school at Wash U in St Louis. He told me they were great and he was right!