Monday, February 27, 2006

Tag! I'm It!

Jeremy tagged me, but I've been too busy of late to even notice. Thanks for the comment, Jeremy, who knows when I would've caught it! Anyway, here's my answers:

Four jobs I’ve had
Siding houses, upper elementary public school teacher, McDonald's, grunt in the Criminal Records Division of the DuPage County States Attorney office

Four movies I can watch over and over
Princess Bride, Fiddler on the Roof, Lord of the Rings (any),

Four TV shows I love to watch
Monday Night Football, M*A*S*H, NASCAR on Fox, NFL on Fox

Four places I’ve been on vacation
Playa del Carmen, Rocky Mtn Nat'l Park, Outer Banks, Boundary Waters

Four favorite dishes
Salmon (Famous Dave's), Vegetarian B at Dos Reales, shrimp fried rice, lefsa (not really a "dish," but pretty darn tasty!)

Four Web sites I visit daily
My Folding@Home Stats Page, My other F@H stats page, Team Mac OS X Forum, and

Four places I’d rather be
Chicago, Colorado, Playa del Carmen, an Apple Store

Four blogs I’d like to see do this quiz
I'm going to wimp out on this one. If you feel like doing this after seeing my answers, leave a comment to let us know!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

God's Politics

I've picked up Jim Wallis' book God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. It's been a while since I had started it, so I restarted (as I'm prone to do). There's so much good stuff in this book, for example, I am always amazed at the debate about poverty, with one side citing the need for changes in personal behaviors and the other for better social programs, as if the two were mutually exclusive. Obviously, both personal and social responsibility are necessary for overcoming poverty. When this absurd bifurcation is offered by ideological partisans on either side, I am quickly convinced that both sides must never have lived or worked anywhere near poverty or poor people.

This book quickly moves to the point of explaining where I come from in my political views. It gets very old listening to conservatives ignore the Bible in their attempt to present an argument for voting for Republicans while liberals ignore the Bible because they are scared to death of religion and God. A very good summary can be found in Wallis' interview with the liberal mag Mother Jones. The interview reminded me of my own take on the election. I desperately wanted the Democrats to put forth a presidential candidate that I could vote for, and they did, but then they relegated him to vice-presidential candidate, and they lost my vote.

Therein lies a huge problem with two party politics. The left nominates a person who's too far left and the right nominates a person who's too far right. Kerry may not have been the worst candidate the Dems could have picked, but he was completely incapable of pulling in moderates and therefore incapable of winning the election. John Edwards was so far ahead of the rest of the Democratic field that he was "put on the shelf" (as Wallis puts it in the interview). Edwards got it. The rest of the party didn't.

It's understandable that Republicans would be uncomfortable with Wallis' book and interviews. He basically gives the Democrats the keys to the White House, if they will take them. Of course, the Republicans could do exactly the same thing, and keep the keys. The problem is that they don't want to. The old formula worked, so why change it? I'll tell you why they should change it. The Democrats probably will change their formula, and then the old Republican formula won't work anymore.

Science and Darwinism

Sven has an interesting piece on the impact that modern scientific research has on Darwinism. The list of signers is pretty impressive. I expected a lot of faith-based schools to be represented, but they actually made up a pretty small number. I wasn't quite sure of the benefit, though, of seeing computer scientists on the list. Again, they didn't seem to be a significant number, but a bit odd. It will be interesting to see how this list grows over time, however. I think someday we'll look back on Darwinism much like we tend to look back on medicine from the middle ages.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

New Top Cop

Yesterday, the Police and Fire Commission announced a new police chief. I, for one, am grateful to see an outsider coming in. I was disappointed when the last opening in 2003 was not advertised outside of the department. The advantage of searching nationwide is that you can bring in someone with innovative ideas and experience in implementing that. As much as people speak well of our police department, there is a much higher level of distrust in lower income and minority neighborhoods. The sense of frustration grew out of years of being ignored.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Closet

Some teachers are really good...and they get away with it.

Anyone Else See a Tax Increase In Our Future?

This Resolution on the Family sounds very expensive. My view of local politics tells me that the people who support it also oppose Home Rule. Even if it were to pass, its supporters would want it to be an unfunded mandate. For some reason, people seem to forget that vision doesn't amount to anything if no one puts forth the energy, time and resources to make it reality.

Boone County Growth

I attended a meeting in Chicago a couple weeks ago, after which I was asked, by one of the other participants, about downpayment assistance programs in Boone County. Boone County sits just east of Rockford and just west of McHenry County, the suburban Chicago county to the farthest northwest. The person asking me about Boone County was from McHenry County and she was being asked about downpayment assistance programs from people who lived in McHenry and wanted to move to Boone. Another article that I found discusses the massive growth that Boone County has experienced in recent years. I've heard that home values have risen 140% of late. Even with that rise in valuation, McHenry residents see Boone as being an incredible value.

The flip side to that, of course, is that gas prices reduce the value of living so far outside of Chicago. Those who can afford to move from McHenry to Boone are those who actually work in McHenry. Working in Chicago itself makes for a very expensive commute these days. I would guess that the most economical way to commute to Chicago would be to drive to McHenry to catch the Metra into Chicago. Not cheap, but it sure beats our current gas prices.

Illinois Commerce Commission

I came across this article about former Rockford Mayor Charles Box being up for nomination as chair of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). Box is a pretty straight shooter, you get what you see and you see what you get. Very sharp. That doesn't mean I agreed with everything he did as mayor, but I respect him. Here's what I find interesting:

1. Sen. Rickey Hendon either doesn't know when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was, or he doesn't care. Apparently he was in his office, at his desk, that day. How else would he know that Box missed a meeting with him.

2. Sen. Emil Jones, who has been in the State Senate for over 20 years, didn't even recognize Box's name, even though Box served as the first African-American mayor of the state's second largest city for most of the years that Jones has been in the State Senate. Apparently Jones also fails to read the Chicago Sun-Times, one of the two large newspapers in his own home town, nor does he follow the Illinois Government News Network. It leaves one wondering just what it is that he does with his time. But don't worry, after taking nearly a quarter of a million dollars in campaign contributions from utilities "he has said such financial support does not steer his decisions."

3. Is the ICC at all concerned with the people who live in Illinois?!? It certainly appears not! The Senate rejected a citizens' advocate out of a concern that he might be too hard on utilities. This after the Senate leadership accepted $400,000 in contributions from the utilities. Given that the previous ICC chair resigned over criticism that he was too cozy with the utilities, I say its time for Senate leadership to follow suit and resign as well.

4. It sounds like Box is exactly the person that the Senate wants in the position...willing to go with the utilities. Why is the Senate leadership delaying a vote on someone who appears, at least from this article, to be exactly what they are looking for? Box doesn't exactly come across as being too hard on the utilities, so what's the delay? Oh yeah, he's not from Chicago. I keep forgetting that Illinois is actually made up of two states, and I'm not in the same state as Hendon or Jones.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Gas Prices

Gas Prices
Originally uploaded by A Bob's Life in Pictures.
I was once again cruising the Plain Dealer when I found this link to low gas prices. Its been a long time since I saw gas under $2!

US Ports and the UAE

I caught a quick piece on Good Morning America about a proposal by the Bush administration to allow a company from the United Arab Emerates to run six US ports. Everyone is ticked at the President. Here's my initial take (based on 3 minutes of tv coverate). The Republicans would oppose anyone of Arab descent running anything in the US. If we went to war with Japan all over again, they'd probably re-incarcerate all the Japanese on US soil too. The Republicans haven't done enough to separate their image with that of a racist political party. They are more than willing to condemn an entire nation because of the acts of two of its citizens (um...anyone seen the murder rate in DC lately?).

The Democrats see this as a chance to make life in the Middle East so miserable for Bush that he has to pull out of Iraq. Never mind that we shouldn't have gone there in the first place (look up the Just War Doctrine to see what I mean), but now that we're there, most people think we should fix the situation...except the Democrats. They'd rather have peace now that peace for years to come. By embarassing Bush throughout the Middle East (and giving the Muslim fundamentalists yet another reason to protest and riot against the US), they see this as an opportunity to make Bush's goals in Iraq so impossible that he might as well pull out now and save US lives (though not US pride).

All in all, its about politics and race. That's two of the three forbidden topics (religion is the third, and I mentioned it ever so briefly as well). Of course, as time goes on there might actually be something/someone worth listening to in this debate. Right now its about getting your own way and posing for the cameras.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Where Are the Young Leaders of Not-For-Profit Organizations

Having family that hails from Cleveland, OH, I occasionally peruse the Cleveland Plain Dealer online. Today I came across an interesting article on the leadership of not-for-profit organizations. Since that's where I'm at, it peeked my interest. I was very fortunate to spend five years at ZION Development Corporation here in Rockford. My time there was probably the best investment in my future that I've made. I certainly wouldn't have been prepared for my current position without that time at ZION.

The realities of not for profit leadership (I've stopped saying "non-proft," these organizations can and should make money, that just isn't the reason for their existence) are that it is exceedingly difficult for "younger" people to break into top leadership positions. I often feel a bit out of place given the combination of my position and my age (regardless of the fact that the Coalition is tiny). Getting to the position of executive director of a larger organization is very difficult, and there are currently very few significant not for profit organizations that have the top position filled by people under the age of 50, much less 40. Even in the Plain Dealer article, the young leaders either started new organizations or their ages aren't given.

So, what does it take for younger people (under 45) to reach the leadership positions of not for profit organizations?

Know your strengths and weaknesses. It seems as though a lot of leaders are willing to let folks know what they are doing right. The reality is that human beings have weaknesses. While I'm not advocating for the public disclosure of your weaknesses, it is wise to know what they are so that you can surround yourself with people who are strong in those areas. I'm a firm believer in hiring and working with people who are smarter than I am. If my goal is to be the brightest and the best then I will be focusing on my ego rather than meeting the needs of the community. Fill in the knowledge/skill gaps so that everyone knows that the needs are being met. That is the job of a leader. If you are focusing on leading and not on meeting needs, then you aren't doing either one well.
Be willing to start small. My first leadership role in a not for profit was a tiny organization in the mid-90's. I was going to school to become a teacher, but the organization needed an interim executive director. When I left teaching to join ZION, I was working for a well-known, but still small not for profit. I placed myself in a position to learn from what I still consider to be the leader in the field locally. My move to the Coalition was back to a tiny organization that did work related to my experience at ZION, but different enough that I (and others around me) would avoid making comparisons between the two.
Make friends. This may sound a bit trite, but getting along with people is very important! No one can go it alone. If you spend your time getting angry at people for not sharing your vision, you will quickly find yourself alone. While that may allow you to pursue your vision, it may also come crashing down on you when hard times hit. If, on the other hand, even your adversaries respect you, hard times will be fewer and further between. You don't have to give up your vision, you have to understand that there are a lot of other people who have a stake in the outcome, and their vision may not be the same as yours. If you can at least get along with them, you may end up with happier stakeholders when the job is complete. That may be better than having your vision realized when all is said and done.
Take the time to learn. Some of the people who are farther along in their careers encourage the younger set to be patient. That is much easier said than done. Still, it sure beats rushing into something and finding out that you don't know nearly enough to do the job effectively. It should be obvious that I greatly appreciate the time I spent at ZION simply because it was a great training ground. The reality is that its much easier to learn from other people's mistakes than it is to commit them needlessly. It is also good to spend time learning because you may find yourself realizing that certain dreams and visions that you have may not really be in anyone's best interests. Why rush out to start an organization if you will find yourself questioning that organizations existence five years down the road. Learn first so you don't have to relearn later.
Admit mistakes and fix them. Everyone makes mistakes. It is much better to admit it and fix them than to brush them under the rug and hope they disappear. They don't disappear. And the mistakes don't have to be yours. If your staff person makes a mistake, it is likely going to be an organizational mistake. As the senior staff person, you represent the organization, so you are responsible for admitting it and fixing it. The mistakes may have been made by your predecessor. You still have to admit them and fix them. That is what happens when you lead an organization. At the same time, I'm a firm believer in Guy Kawasaki's phrase "Judge others by their intentions, judge yourself by your results" (note: some people may find portions of this link offensive or disgusting as it covers far more than this quote. I'm a believer in giving links, read at your own discretion). A staff person might make an honest mistake. That happens. You fix it and move on. The staffer will know a mistake was made. You don't have to beat them up over minor stuff.
Act with integrity. I was asked recently about a hiring decision that a friend had to make. My friend wasn't sure if the person was being honest with them, but the person was really talented, smart and fit what they were looking for. What should they do? The fact that I was being asked was a clear sign to stay clear of the potential hire. In a best case scenario, the employer would be constantly looking over the new staffer's shoulder, regardless of whether or not the person is honest. In a worst case scenario, the staffer would give the organization a black eye or worse due to their dishonesty (note: that is different than making honest mistakes!). Value integrity. Expect integrity. I demand it of myself, even when I know that no one would ever know. If I cave in the little areas, I'll eventually cave in the big ones. Since I don't want to go there in the long run, I refuse to start now.

This list is far from exhaustive, but I view it as a good start. I'd be interested in hearing other thoughts. I know I'm not the only under-45 executive director out there. What have some others learned?

Those Crazy Train Guys

I took the boys down to Rochelle, IL for a little train watching. Not too many folks out there today, it was a bit chilly. We did meet a fellow from Milwaukee who had heard about Railroad Park many times, but had never been there before. He was on his way home from a business trip to Witchita and decided to stop for a few minutes. He'll definitely be returning. His short time there saw a couple of full trains and this light engine move.

These three engines were moving through the crossing (aka diamonds) at about 40 mph. As they passed, we suddenly realized there was a worker straddling the last two engines. You can see him if you look at the picture up close. We were shocked!

After hanging out at Railroad Park for a while, the boys and I went to a local McDonalds, ate, and played at the indoor play area. We then headed back for another hour of train watching. The after lunch train watching was a bit better than the morning (though the morning was pretty good too). Its always fun for the boys as the engineers almost always wave to them. One even gave an extra long blast of the whistle and opened his window so the boys would see him wave to them. Pretty nice thing to do on a cold day like today.

The fellow we met from Milwaukee reminded me to treasure these days. His kids haven't been willing to go out with him since they hit their teenage years. I don't know if mine will, but I definitely treasure these days while I have them!!

Creating a User Group

Another Kawasaki post deals with creating user groups for your product. Of course, you start with a good product, but the idea is that you get your customers to sell and, often, service it for you. Kawasaki knows what he's talking about. He was instrumental in getting the Mac User Groups going &/or supported. Antone know where the local Dell User Group meets? Didn't think so. I know there's a local Mac Users Group, and I've never been there. Dell even went so far as to dump their users forum board. God forbid that people who use your product actually communicate with other people who use your product!! If there's one thing I love about being a Mac user, its the community that you automatically join just by buying one.

How to Write a Blog Entry

Guy Kawaski gives his tips on writing blog entries. Hey, I might give this a try. You might start seeing quality posts here! I actually do a lot of linking, rather than serious writing. Occasionally I do a bit more writing in a post, but I see enough stuff that gets me thinking. I do a lot of passing along that stuff.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hacking Danish Sites

Muslims are pretty upset over the cartoons. As a result, a lot of Danish blogs are getting hacked. One such blog belongs to an intern at Pasadena's Harambe Center. The hacked site was in the Dane's native tongue, thus it became a target.

Quoting Satan

I'd read about this on several blogs. I finally found someone who posted the original banner. You can find it at Amy Loves Books. Just because something is in the Bible doesn't mean you should quote it! Of course, I'm a bit surprised that it comes from a UCC church. I expected something like this quote to appear on a health/wealth gospel type church.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Just went to start my truck. First time all winter it didn't want to start. Came back in and pulled up Dashboard. The current temp is eleven below zero. No wonder the truck took a couple rotations before firing up this morning!

UPDATE: It is now 2 in the afternoon. The temp is up to nothing, I mean zero!

An Exercise in the Web

I'm suddenly finding myself going crazy with forum boards. Not posting, I don't seem to have the time to do that, but setting up and moderating them. One I've been involved with for a well over a year. The other we're just getting off the ground in a new sort of way. Jill asked me recently, as we were working on the development of her new website for work (thanks Sven!!) how I learned so much about websites. "Did you just learn all this stuff poking around?" "Yup," I replied. At least she finally sees the value of my poking around on the computer!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Blogging Archives & Home Rule

One thing about a blog is that someone will come along and peruse my archives (and I'm sure this happens to other bloggers) and make comments on posts that are long gone from view. This happened again recently, and I think the subject of Home Rule is important enough that I'm linking to the discussion. Obviously, I'm not one to delete comments just because someone disagrees with me. I will, however delete comments with obscenities (none have been deleted from the linked thread).

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Worst Weather Possible

I'd rather have the 16" of snow that was had in the northeast last weekend. Nothing is worse than rain in February. The temperature doesn't get above 40, so its a cold rain, then the temp drops and everything freezes. The high for Saturday is supposed to be 14, that after a whole lotta rain today=bad news. At least with a bunch of snow you get to stay home.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Guy Is Good

Andrew Jones is one of my favorite emerging church bloggers. Here's another example of why that is.

Olympic Commercials

Does anyone else think the commercials during the Olympics are far better than the Super Bowl commercials? I'm actually laughing at these...and they don't encourage underage drinking in the process!

A Different Type of Call

In the midst of the craziness of the last couple weeks I got word that one of our volunteers passed away suddenly late last week. The news came to the office on Monday when I was in Chicago. Our friend was in her early 50's and worked for one of the local banks. Her passing was a complete shock and totally unexpected. A quiet lady whose opinion always mattered to the other folks around the table, she will be missed.

The Call

In my previous post I mentioned The Call. We got one today. We were asked to get our profile done, some photos assembled, and get them all emailed by the middle of the afternoon. I came home from work for an hour or so at noon when I got the call. Jill was home by then and we set to work for a while. I took a few things back to the office to fax in and Jill got the profile emailed. We have a previously scheduled appointment with our case worker on Friday. Don't know if there will be any news or not. And here I was thinking that my last couple weeks had been a bit crazy...

The Conversation

I got word today that an interview I did a couple weeks ago will appear in the paper tomorrow. A pull out section of the Register Star, called The Weekly, is carrying a series entitled Conversations with Pat. The articles are a series of interviews with various people who either live in the Rockford area or have ties to the area. I think mine will be the third conversation to appear. The focus of the conversation was blogging. Pat Cunningham, the Page One Editor, is doing the interviews (thus the name) and has been reading A Bob's Life for a short while. But he also went pretty deep into the archives. Since most of what I write is spur of the moment, so to speak, his recollection was better than mine! We talked about why I have a blog, how I choose to write certain things, my job, my faith, adoption (hey, we got a call today, stay keep coming back for more info, time will tell if it pans out!), and so on. Anyway, since I blog I'm sure he'll keep it honest (hey, I'd tell you if he didn't!). If you have access to the Rockford Register Star, it'll be in the Thursday, February 16 paper. If not, check out the link above and go almost all the way to the bottom of the page. On the right hand side will be a section entitled The Weekly. You should be able to find it there.

Of course, Pat promises that my hit count will increase, but I'm not too worried about it. If that's what I did it for, I'd be a bit more regular about posting!

Here's where you can find the conversation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Few Observations from Chicago Day

A few things I noticed yesterday regarding my trip into and out of Chicago.

1) Rockford needs Metra. There were enough people waiting for the 6:10 bus to make two buses useful. I ended up riding into O'Hare in the Chevy Tahoe that belonged to the operations manager. The 15 passenger van used for overflow passengers didn't have enough seats. There were three people standing up when the bus pulled up. Combine that with the 15+ people waiting with me for the bus, and there was trouble. Next time I'm going to take up the Bank on the hotel offer. It will make my day a bit more sane.

2) On the ride home there was a couple who appeared to be in their 50's sitting behind me and across the aisle. Instead of putting their bags in the overhead compartment, they threw them in the seats behind me (and across from them). As the bus got more and more full, they didn't pick up their bags and put them overhead, they left them there. The elderly couple who got on near the end had to go almost all the way to the back to find seats, and I'm not sure they got to sit together. The older ladies who were good friends, and traveling together, didn't get to sit together either. One sat in the front, the other sat in the back. But don't worry, this couple was not inconvenienced with having their luggage in the luggage rack! That was outright rude of them. People are always more important than luggage. If you don't think so, please don't leave your house.

3) Walking in dress shoes around downtown Chicago hurts my feet. I really thought I had a comfortable pair of dress shoes. My feet were burning after my second walk. I couldn't wait to get home and take off my shoes.

4) I'm going to enjoy being involved with the Federal Home Loan Bank. My only disappointment was that everyone grabbed their box lunches and left. I was looking forward to talking with folks for a while and getting to know people better. There are a lot of smart folks sitting in that room, both staff, Board members, and the members of the Advisory Council. I like to meet people who are smarter than I am, so I would have enjoyed having them stick around for lunch. Maybe next time? or the time after that? I'll be lobbying for folks to stick around.

5) The El is a great mode of transportation. A bit loud due to the hollow, open construction, but its fast, relatively smooth, and definitely cheaper than the gas it would have cost me to travel the same distance (O'Hare to downtown). Those are good things, in my book.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Picking Up Where I Left Off

Friday was the last day of the work week, and it was as crazy as the rest of it had been. My early morning start turned out well. I somehow managed to pass the AARP's certification exam for Reverse Mortgage counseling...barely. My understanding is that an 80% was necessary to pass. I got an 81%. Of course, I was told that the last time the test was offered in traditional paper and pencil style, only 50 out of 350 passed it, so I won't complain at all. I was happy to pass it on my first attempt. Apparently that's better than most!

Tomorrow kicks off a new work week. I'll be catching an early bus into Chicago. I have my first meeting as a member of the Community Investment Advisory Committee for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. I've spent much of this weekend reading the notebook that I received on Friday. Lots of stuff. I'll have a couple more meetings after that one, so I probably won't see the boys at all tomorrow.

Tuesday won't be much of a let up. A regular work day with the regular Tuesday night Homebuyer Education class to teach. I love doing it, but I'll be exhausted by the time the class rolls around. Of course, Jill and I will be having dinner out later in the week. Fortunately the rest of the week should turn out to be somewhat normal. Finally!

Christianity and Homosexuality

Leadership Magazine blog has a couple of posts on the issue of homosexuality and the Church. Read the comments and think a bit. The first article and the second article, and their comments, reflect how tough the issue is. Notice, of course, how many people assume they know exactly what the first writer said to the couple, without the writer actually telling us. Having visited his church, I find it a bit hard to assume that I know. Others, of course, are confident in their assessment, after all, they've likely never met him.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Evangelical Environmentalists

We were just watching an ABC evening news piece on Evangelical environmentalism. It was interesting to see Rick Warren taking a stand that Christianity should take a stand for the environment. It was sad to see the president of the Southern Baptists say it wasn't important because his "constituency" didn't think it was. For some reason, it seems a bit odd that a religious "leader" would allow the constituency to determine what was right rather than the Sacred Text. If you really believe that God has revealed His will through the Bible, then refer to that as your source of Truth, not your "constituency." Rick Warren, on the other hand, seems to be taking the Bible more seriously than ever, of late, taking stands on social issues that are often not talked about in Evangelical circles. Issues such as poverty in Africa and now the environment. Its good to see that type of leadership. Remember the WWJD (What Would Jesus Drive?) campaign led, in part, by Evangelicals for Social Action (disclaimer, I have been a member of ESA for several years now) with their sister organization Evangelical Environmental Network? Good to see someone a bit more mainstream talking about these issues too!!

Banquet Last Night!

After a few nearly sleepless nights, last night the Coalition had its Annual Banquet. In the past it has always been a luncheon, but it was decided to move it to a dinner this year. Our turnout was similar to what we had a year ago, which was a very good sign. We again had it at Giovanni's, and they once again gave us first class treatment. John Hotchkiss of Fannie Mae was our guest speaker. He was quick to point out that he does not work for a candy company. Fannie Mae basically buys mortgages from banks so that banks can have liquid cash to turn around and make more loans. John talked about the changes that have taken place in the mortgage market and some new changes that Fannie has made to some of their own mortgage products. There were some very happy lenders and realtors in the room, as the changes will make it easier for low and moderate income families to purchase a home.

He really drove home the need for education by giving some statistics about how people perceive their homebuying potential. What really came out of his stats was the need for education in the Hispanic community. It is no surprise at all that the Hispanic community is losing money because of terrible loan products sold by loan sharks. The need for education regarding the homebuying process was made crystal clear, especially in the HIspanic community.

Mayor Larry Morrissey was with us for most of the evening. He is always pleasant and has a wealth of knowledge about the housing industry. He was also excited about some of the products that John Hotchkiss was discussing because they can be used by upper income families who want to invest in poor communities. This is important as it allows for the development of mixed income communities to become a viable option again in the future. Jill was very impressed with the Mayor. She said he seemed a bit more personable than during the election campaigns. I agree, but I've also known the Mayor for a few years now, and he's always struck me as personable simply because I've known him since before he ran for office. He is also intense, don't get me wrong, but that's a good thing given the office he's in.

Our guest testimonials were great. People were excited about hearing the stories of people who are succeeding. Jill was very touched by Kordrey's story of moving from the housing projects into his own home. Since he came through our program, I know he's made a lot of sacrifices to get where he's at. Some of his decisions didn't go over well with his children, but now that they're in a home of their own, they are grateful for those decisions!! Anna also was outstanding. I know she was nervous, but it really didn't show at all. She is completely pumped to be working at the Coalition, and she brings a lot of knowledge from the School of Hard Knocks into the work she does for us.

All in all, we had a great night, and I'm already looking forward to next year's banquet being double the size!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Building a Train

In the midst of one of my busiest weeks in a LONG time, I'm spending a few minutes sitting in the living room with the boys while they play with their Thomas trains. Yesterday was a twelve hour day, today will be at least that much. Friday will end the week with a certification exam. I have to be in Sycamore, IL by 7:30 AM on Friday. Throw in some time to study before the exam, and this week is nearly non-stop. Of course, Monday will start off next week with a full day of meetings in Chicago. I'll finally get to my first meeting of the Advisory Council at the Federal Home Loan Bank. I'm looking forward to meeting some great people involved in affordable housing in many forms.

Until today really gets moving, its great to spend some time hanging out with the boys, especially since they hadn't seen me since I dropped them off at Mom's Day Out. Of course, it is a bit odd, now that I'm typing this, to have been a dad dropping off kids at Mom's Day Out, but that's an issue for someone who's insecure. ;-)

Interesting Stories

It seems that anyplace you go, you can meet someone with a fascinating personal story to tell. I was talking to someone yesterday who was nearly kidnapped as a toddler. Her uncle saw a lady walking away with her and chased after them. When the lady insisted that this person was her child the uncle grabbed the child's arm and said, "I'll let go when the police get here and determine whose child she really is!" The lady immediately let go and left the scene. Of course, now she's an adult and uses that story to keep her kids in her sight. It can be a scary world!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Favorite Blog

It's easy to love a guy who worked on the Macintosh back in the 80's, but Guy Kawasaki has one of the best blogs out there. Almost every post I read is one I want to remember. If you don't know Mr. Kawasaki, he was one of the first corporate "evangelists." The product he evangelized for was the Macintosh. In fact, he was so sold on the product that he still lists it as one his passions today, 20+ years after its release. Here he posts on recruiting new employees, something I'm not doing now, but I'm sure I'll have to do sometime in the future. Great tips if you're currently recruiting! And here he discusses the art of schmoozing, something that I'm really not very good at. This one will come in handy almost every day. I took one of those tests that determine if you're an introvert or extrovert. It's been quite a while now, but I'm not sure I've changed a whole lot. I landed right on the fence between the two. I think it was scored 1 to 100 and I was at a 49. If anything I've moved a bit more to the introverted side of life in the passing years, but I doubt most people would realize that.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Being Bored=??

Jill told me last night that she's starting to get a little bored with life. Uh-oh. Last time she told me that we got a call about Isaac out of the blue within a couple weeks. In fact, we told people at the time that that February had been the first boring month we'd had in a long time. We don't tend to have time to get bored. Guess its time to start planning on something major happening in our lives!!

We do go into the suburbs tomorrow for our first home study of our current adoption process. I doubt they'd spring any news on us there, so we'll have to be a little patient.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Cuts Are Coming

I was working late last night, so I missed the speech, though I probably wouldn't have watched it anyway. Political speeches just don't mean much to me. The reality is that our local city government is losing something like 10% of our CDBG budget from HUD. That is a huge amount of money that is supposed to help improve communities. At this point it doesn't look like my workplace will be affected, but that could change depending on how life in City Hall goes. There was also a cut in HOME dollars from HUD. Makes me wonder why the current administration is cutting taxes for people who can afford to pay them!

Folding@Home Progress

It's been a while since I've posted much of anything, especially when it comes to the Folding@Home Distributed Computing project. This last week I passed the 700,000 point mark. I had one of my best days ever yesterday. I expected today to be a real downer, as a result, but that hasn't happened! I should end up with over 2,600 points today, after pulling in nearly 4,000 points yesterday. Guess that makes up for the 1500 points I had on Sunday, right?

If you're not familiar with Folding@Home, its a project out of Stanford University that uses peoples' home computers to do research into how protein folding impacts various diseases such as cancer, alzheimers, Parkinsons, and AIDS. You can check out and join my team. I use and Fold under the name treadlightly. See you in the Fold!