Welcome to our web site. For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out artbystephie.com.
For Matt's writing projects, please go to storiesbymatt.net. Enjoy your visit here!

06/23/08: This was my Diversity & Inclusion moment at our staff meeting last week:
     I always think that the D&I moment should be something personal, something that makes us different. My D&I moment today is about one of my hobbies, which is listening to radio.
     My opinion is that what is now known as "Terrestrial Radio" these days is pretty much crap, especially at drive time. If you can find music that you like, and that's a pretty big "if", you typically hear as many commercials as you do songs. I've never tried Satellite radio, which is supposed to be better and have a lot of variety, but there's a monthly fee, and who needs that these days. Fortunately for us, there's the Internet.
     Many things are easily and legally available to download from the Internet. Old-time radio shows have long been a personal favorite of mine. When I was a kid, my uncle gave me a bunch of tapes of shows like The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Jack Benny, The Great Gildersleeve, and that got me started. For a while (pre-mp3) I would use my VCR to record When Radio Was on WBBM at midnight, then while I was getting ready to go to work, I would record from the VCR to a cassette and listen in the car on my way to work. Between that show and Those Were the Days on Saturday afternoon, I discovered some great shows like The Voyage of the Scarlet Queen and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.
     Nowadays, there's lots of good OTR stuff available as free downloads, and since most shows are self-contained and around 15 or 30 minutes, they are great to listen to on your mp3 player while stuck in traffic. You can easly find them by a little searching. Here's a link to one of my favorites, the aforementioned Voyage of the Scarlet Queen. Think of it as a hard-boiled detective series on a ship as it sails from port to port. Great stuff. I had the complete set on cassette and after I listened to it, I passed it around at work and everyone loved it. Another really good series is Speed Gibson, a kid's show that has enough action for kids of all ages!
     But if you'd rather listen to music, you're in luck there as well. You probably think of Public Radio as the news and information you hear prime-time on WBEZ, but there are a lot of interesting music programs in the evenings and over the weekends on 'BEZ and other NPR stations. Just a few of the shows I listen to, either occasionally or regularly, are Blues Before Sunrise, Thistle & Shamrock, Hearts of Space, and Riverwalk Jazz on WUIS from Springfield, Those Were The Days, Putumayo World Music Hour, Victor Parra's Mambo Express, and Metal Rock on WDCB in Glen Ellyn, and Sound Opinions, Prairie Home Companion, This American Life, Afropop Worldwide, Dick Buckley (big band), and Word Jazz on WBEZ. Some of these shows are available as "podcasts", basically mp3 files you can save to your computer and transfer to your mp3 player, while others are streamed over the 'net, and there are free programs you can use to capture the streams and save them to your mp3 player. I use Streamripper to record a half-dozen shows each weekend. I just created a batch file with the Streamripper command line and added it to the Windows scheduler, so I don't have to think about it every weekend, just make sure the computer is on and hooked to the Internet. You can also use the VLC media player to record the streams.
     So with a little investigation, and a couple free programs, you can get more music and entertainment than you have time for, and it doesn't cost you a cent.

06/14/08: Just a brief note to recognize that today is the fifth anniversary of this site going live. To be honest, I didn't think it would last this long. I never doubted my ability to run off at the mouth (or in this case, the keyboard) but when I started this five years ago, I had no idea where I was going with this, or how long I would keep it going. Still don't, really. But even though I'm way behind, in that I have a bunch of stuff from May that I wanted to write about but just haven't got around to it, I'm still having fun with this, and I hope you find my ramblings (and run-on sentences) at least mildly interesting. Thanks for reading!

06/03/08: A regular item on this site is news of the big Used Book Sale at the Westfield Old Orchard mall in Skokie. For the second year in a row The Little City Foundation in Palatine is running the book sale that signals the beginning of summer in this household. This year the sale starts on Friday, June 6th and runs through Sunday, June 15th. It looks like they are trying to make people come out more than once, as they will be hosting various authors there throughout the week. Click here to see the full schedule. As in past sales, they will be accepting book donations right at the sale, so I plan to weed out our collection a little, and give back some of the things that I really don't see myself reading again. I figure if I donate a box and then come home with only a bag full, I will make a little space at home and help out a worthwhile charity. Click the picture of the flyer here for more details of the sale, and plan to pick up some fine reading at some great prices.

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