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Is This the Ultimate Grilled Cheese?

Thu, 2014-11-06 10:34
Tasting Table | Jillian King

Childhood lunch staple. Best friend to tomato soup. Rainy-day indulgence.

An affection that started way back with those simple orange slices melted between white bread has morphed into an all-out obsession for our team.

So we decided to examine the humble sandwich a little closer. Which cheeses melt just right? Should you use white bread or sourdough? Fry it in butter, oil or something else altogether? Is bacon sacrilegious? Herewith, our answers to all those very important questions and more.

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First things first: the cheese. What you need is a semi-firm variety, which will melt into those dreamy ribbons as you pull the sandwich apart. Our favorites are taleggio, fontina, cheddar and Gruyère--or any combination therein. Avoid soft cheeses: They're difficult to layer and don't melt well. Though it may seem like an obvious choice, skip mozzarella; it has unfortunate rubbery tendencies when heated. And though we understand the impulse to splurge on such a meal, pricey aged cheeses should be reserved for snacking. The cooking process renders out that lovely aged taste (and worth).

Now for the bread: There's more flexibility here. Classicists can stick to a solid white Pullman loaf or bâtard for a solid sandwich. But we prefer whole-wheat sourdough. Its slight tang balances the rich, fatty cheese. No matter what you choose, buy a whole loaf and cut it into ⅓-inch slices. Any thicker and you run the risk of the burnt bread and unmelted cheese. Go smaller and the cheese may ooze right out and soak the bread with grease.

Something sweet to go with your savory-tooth: Of Course Dominique Ansel Makes Insanely Good Banana Bread

Time to get to work. Slice your cheese as thinly as possible, using a mandolin or your knife skills. Layer said slices evenly across the bread so everything melts at the same rate. Our food editor, Andy Baraghani, is so obsessed with creating the right texture for his cheese that he actually slices it into cubes and blitzes it in the food processor to make loose paste that spreads into a perfectly consistent layer.

RELATED: An Absurdly Delicious Grilled Cheese »

At this point, most would reach for butter, slathering it on the outside edges of the bread and melting it in the pan. And that wouldn't be terrible. But the real trick? Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the outside of the bread and skip the butter altogether. It's a move we've pulled before, but its magic can't be overstated. (It fooled even the most die-hard butter enthusiast on the team.) Unlike butter, mayo won't burn, making for an all-over crisp, golden brown crust without any hotspots.

Once your cheese is melted and bread is toasted, resist the urge to eat it straight from the pan. Let the cheese set for about a minute or so. And, finally, your patience is rewarded.

RELATED: Making Fried Chicken into an Art Form

Now that you've got the basics down, fancy up your sandwich with a few thoughtful add-ons. Just don't stack it high with meats (looking at you, bacon). Call us purists, but when it comes to grilled cheese, we believe the fromage should be the star. Here are a few slight variations to elevate the humble melt.

Minor tweaks only; the cheese should be king.

Spices: A solid spin of the pepper mill, a pinch of Aleppo pepper or a dash of crushed red pepper flakes will add a bit of contrasting heat.

Jam: On the inside of the bread, spread a thin layer of tomato jam for acidity, fig jam for sweetness or onion jam for a kick that's somewhere between savory and sweet.

Wine: If you're busting out the food processor, a tablespoon of dry white wine turns grilled cheese into handheld fondue. Fold in some sautéed shallots to push it over the edge.

Herbs: Chives are our favorite, but fresh parsley or sage both help cut the richness while adding color.

Citrus: For a bite of brightness, add a ¼ teaspoon of lemon or orange zest. Just don't add the juice--it will make the sandwich soggy. (Pro tip: Try orange zest and fig jam together for something special.)

Aromatics: There's very little that isn't made better with the addition of sautéed garlic or onions. Blend roasted garlic into your cheese mixture or add shallots softened in butter (see the fondue note above) for extra dimension.

Pull up a chair and live deliciously with Tasting Table

5 Horrible Things Heartbreak Is A Whole Lot Like

Thu, 2014-11-06 10:22
You don't have to be a scientist to conclude that breaking up sucks. But it may comfort you to know that your urge to go into post-breakup hibernation while listening to Lana Del Rey on repeat is actually a scientifically reasonable reaction to having your heart broken.

In fact, according to the science, heartbreak is a whole lot like:

1. A minor burn.

The same part of your brain lights up when you think about a lover who rejected you as when you suffer a minor burn wound, according to a 2013 study from the University of Michigan. The scientists behind the study explain that the emotional pain of rejection can have a direct physical effect on the body. Basically, your post-breakup aches and pains are so not all in your head.

2. Drug withdrawal.

"Intense romantic love seems to function much like an addiction," according to Arthur Aron, Ph.D., a professor at Stony Brook University. Aron found that broken-hearted people have similar brain activity to drug addicts going through chemical withdrawal, which he says can help explain "why feelings and behaviors related to romantic rejection are difficult to control." Still, scientists caution that those addictive feelings are never an excuse for bad post-breakup behavior.

3. An identity crisis.

Breakups can seriously affect your sense of self, making your identity feel less "clear" and even smaller, according to three studies from Northwestern University. The authors write, "Not only may couples come to complete each others' sentences, they may actually come to complete each others' selves." When you're no longer part of a couple, your own personal identity may start to feel blurry.

4. A contagious illness.

According to a study led by Rose McDermott of Brown University, divorces can have a "ripple effect," and you are 75 percent more likely to get a divorce if you have a friend who is divorced. The researchers conclude that your friends' unhealthy relationships and heartbreaks can undermine the security of your own relationship. So depending on your social circle, your breakup may feel like something you "caught" from someone else, simply because you and your partner picked up friends' bad relationship vibes.

5. Intense hatred.

You're not crazy: There's an actual biological explanation for your burning desire to key your ex's car. As famous anthropologist Helen Fisher writes in the book "Cut Loose," hatred, rage and love are closely connected in the brain. When your love circuits get interrupted, your rage circuit gets triggered, and "the brain can easily turn romantic love to fury." Because the two feelings arouse the brain and body in very similar ways, Fisher says, you can actually feel both love and hatred simultaneously.

Make no mistake, heartbreak can make you feel kind of crazy -- and a lot of it is programmed right into your DNA -- but it doesn't have to rule you. Check out our divorce care package series and start learning how to heal.

Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Divorce on Facebook and Twitter.

All images are Getty unless otherwise indicated.

Former Illinois Congressman Lane Evans Dies At Age 63

Thu, 2014-11-06 09:54

Nov 6 (Reuters) - Former Illinois congressman Lane Evans, who had battled Parkinson's disease for years, died late on Wednesday in East Moline, Illinois, his guardian said. He was 63.

Evans, a Democrat who represented the Quad Cities in northwestern Illinois, was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 and served until 2007.

Mike Malmstrom, who was on Evans staff and later served as his legal guardian, said Evans died at Hope Creek Care Center where he had been living for nearly two years.

"The disease itself had come to the point that it took its toll," Malmstrom said in a telephone interview.

Evans was born in Rock Island, Illinois, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1969 to 1971. He was a lawyer in private practice.

"Lane Evans was a true champion for veterans. He was a tireless advocate for our community and a strong leader for us in Washington," Paul Rieckhoff, chief executive of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America non-profit, said in a statement.

Rieckhoff said Evans was one of the first members of Congress to take on issues like post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury in veterans.

Malmstrom said funeral arrangements were pending. (Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Bill Trott)

Democratic Strategies Lost Big. Here's an Alternative.

Thu, 2014-11-06 07:50

It is time to shine a light on the strategies used by Democrats, and on the Democratic infrastructure that uses those strategies.

Democratic strategists have been segmenting the electorate and seeking individual self-interest-based issues in each electoral block. The strategists also keep suggesting a move to the right. This has left no room for the Democrats to have an overriding authentic moral identity that Americans can recognize.

Those strategists form an infrastructure that all Democrats have come to depend on; not just the candidates, but also the elected officials, Democrats in government, and citizens who either do, or might, find progressive policies morally and practically right. The strategic infrastructure includes PR firms, pollsters, consultants, researchers, trainers, communication specialists, speechwriters, and their funders.

It is an important and powerful infrastructure and we all depend on it. I believe it is vital to separate this infrastructure from the strategies it has been using. I believe the strategies can be greatly improved so as to give a true, deep, and moral picture of what progressive politics is about -- one whose content and authenticity will resonate with, and inspire, a majority of Americans.

I have just published a book about how to do this: The All New Don't Think of an Elephant! It is an updated and much expanded version of the original, which introduced the concept of conceptual framing, which is about ideas, not just about slogans. The present book includes what I have learned over the past decade by bringing to bear results in my academic discipline, the Brain and Cognitive Sciences. The book is short, easy-to-read, and inexpensive.

At this point, some details are in order. Here is what is widely done according to present strategies. Not everyone uses all of these, but most are common.

  • Use demographic categories to segment the electorate, categories from the census (race, gender, ethnicity, age, marital status, income, zip code), as well as publicly available party registration.

  • Assume uniformity across the demographic categories. Poll on which issues are "most important," e.g., for women (or single women), for each minority group, for young people, and so on. This separates the issues from one another and creates "issue silos." It does not include segmentation for moral worldviews that differ between conservatives and progressives.

  • Assume language is neutral and that the same poll questions will have the same meaning for everyone polled. In reality, language is defined relative to conceptual frames. And the same words can be "contested," that is, they can have opposite meanings depending on one's moral values.

  • Assume that people vote on the basis of material self-interest and design different message to appeal to different demographic groups. In reality, poor conservatives will vote against their material interests when they identify with a candidate and his or her values.

  • In polling, apply statistical methods to the answers given in each demographic group. This will impose a "bell curve" in the results. The bell curve will impose a "middle" in each case.

  • Assume that most voters are in the middle imposed by the bell curve. Move to the middle. If your beliefs are on the left of the "middle," move to the right to be where most voters are. You will be helping conservatives, by supporting their beliefs. And you may ne saying things you don;tje

  • Check the polls to see how popular the present Democratic president is; if he is not popular, design you message to dissociate yourself from the president. It will reinforce the unpopularity of the president when members of his own party, as well as the opposition, disown him.

  • Attack your opponents as being "extremists" when they hold views typical of the far right. This will help your opponents, as they will appear standing up for what they believe in among those of their constituents that share any of those views.

  • Attack your opponents for getting money from rich corporations or individuals. This will help your opponent among Republicans (and some Democrats) who respect the values of the wealthy and successful.

  • Argue against your opponents by quoting them, using their language and negating that language. Negating a frame reinforces the frame, as in the sentence "Don't think of an elephant!" This practice will mostly reinforce the views of your opponent.

Such strategies miss the opportunity to present an overriding moral stand that fits the individual issues, while saying clearly what ideals Democrats stand for as Democrats. There happens to be such an overriding ideal that most Democrats authentically believe in.

I work in the brain and cognitive sciences. I study how people think and how language works. The most basic result is that most thought is unconscious -- about 98 percent (a reasonable ballpark figure). My job here is to do my best to make the unconscious conscious. Here goes!

All politics is moral. When a politician says to do something, he is implicitly claiming that it is the right thing to do. No politician will over say, do what I say because it's wrong -- pure evil! None will ever say, "Do what I say, though it doesn't matter." When politicians' policy prescriptions differ widely, it is because their sense of what is right is very different. In short, they have different moral systems. That is true of progressives and conservatives alike. The political proposals conservatives and progressives make are based on different moral systems.

Progressive and conservatives have very different understandings of democracy. For progressives, empathy is at the center of the very idea of democracy. Democracy is a governing system in which citizens care about their fellow citizens and work through their government to provide public resources for all. In short, in a democracy, the private depends on the public.

Elizabeth Warren says it out loud. If you have a business it depends on public resources: roads, bridges, the Interstate highway system, sewers, a water supply, airports and air traffic control, the Federal Reserve, a patent office, public education for your employees, public health, the electric grid, the satellite communication system, the Internet, and all the government research behind computer science. You can't run a business without these. Private enterprise depends on the public.

The same is true of individuals, who depend on public resources like clean air, clean water, enough food, safe food and products, public safety, access to education and health care, housing, employment -- as well as those roads, bridges, sewers, satellite communication, electric grid, and so on. And most important -- voting in free elections, choosing the government to provide those resources. Private life depends on the public.

What public resources provide is freedom. Most progressive issues are freedom issues.

· Voting: Without the ability to vote in free elections you are not free.

· Health: If you get cancer or even break a leg and don't have health care, you are not free.

· Education: Without education, you lack the knowledge and skills not just to earn a decent living, but also to even be aware of the possibilities of life. Without education, you are therefore not free.

· Women: If you are denied control over your body, you are not free.

· Marriage: If you are in love and are denied the ability to marry with a publicly declared lifetime commitment, you are not free.

· Vast income inequality: When the economic gains that most people have worked for go not to those who worked for them, but only to the wealthiest of the wealthy, those who did the work -- most people -- are not free.

· Race: When you are treated with suspicion and disdain, you are not free.

· Corporate Control: When corporations control your life for their benefit and not yours, you are not free.

· Privatization: When significant public resources become owned or controlled by private corporations, the public has lost an essential element of freedom.

And one more, which had a major effect in the 2014 election:

· Fear: When you are emotionally gripped by fear, you are not free.

As FDR pointed out, Freedom From Fear is a vital freedom. In the 2014 election, conservatives played on fear -- of Isis and Ebola.

Every progressive instinctively knows all this, but very few say it. Instead, progressives tend to talk not about such values, but instead about facts, policies, and programs.

Conservatives, on the other hand, have a very different view of democracy. For them democracy is supposed to provide them with the liberty to do what they want, without being responsible for others and without others being responsible for them. For them, there is only personal responsibility, not social responsibility. Indeed, providing public resources is, to a conservative, immoral, taking away personal responsibility, making people dependent, lazy, unable to take care of themselves. Removing public resources is seen as providing incentives, and individual liberty is seen as the condition in which you can carry out your incentives.

This is very much what conservative morality is about. If you cannot succeed through personal responsibility, you deserve what you get.

But these are not just two equally valid, though opposite, moral systems. Because the private really does depend on the public, because personal responsibility without public resources gets you nowhere, the conservative view of democracy has radically false consequences. It is immoral because it lacks empathy, but it also just plain false.

If Cartesian rationalism were true, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in. If all reason were conscious, and if being human were, by definition, being a rational animal, and if rationality were logic, then the facts would set us all free. But human reason doesn't work that way. We use embodied brains, whose neural structures constitute frames and conceptual metaphors.

All thought is physical. We think using the neural systems in our brains. Thought works by frames -- neural circuitry that we use to comprehend the world. The sad fact is that we can only understand what our brains allow us to understand. As a result, just pointing out the facts to conservatives cannot work. Facts are crucial, but they make sense primarily relative to their moral importance.

Our hope lies in biconceptualism. Most of us are partly conservative and partly progressive -- mostly one but partly the other, so far as issues are concerned. There is no ideology of the moderate. Moderate conservatives have some progressive views, and conversely. Circuitry for both moral systems are present in the biconceptual brain, applying to different issues.

All words are defined with respect to frame-circuits. The more one hears conservative language, the stronger the conservative moral system gets in your brain. The same for progressive language. The more progressives speak in their own language, the stronger their frame circuitry gets in the brains of bi-conceptuals who hear them, who already have a version of that system.

The moral: Progressivism supports freedom. The private depends on the public. If you believe it, say it. Moral ideals matter. Authenticity matters.

A Note on Organization

It takes some training to avoid the common strategy problems, to get insight into what your unconscious beliefs really are, and to learn how to express those beliefs effectively. Democratic strategists, like Republicans, offer trainings. The training should focus on the new, not the old, strategies, and should be more widely offered to citizens who want to speak publicly in their communities.

The 2014 election has spurred this discussion but it goes beyond elections. The American public needs an understanding of what progressive democratic values are, all the time, every day, day after day. This requires both training and some organizing. For details on such an organization, contact The Forward Institute, Scott Wittkopf, Director <>, about the Wisconsin Freedom Campaign, which is about to start.


George Lakoff is Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. His latest book is the ALL NEW Don't Think of an Elephant. His website is:

Bruce Rauner's Victory: A Break From the Recent Past in Illinois?

Wed, 2014-11-05 18:44
Why is Illinois the worst place to live in America?

In April of this year, Gallup released the results of a national survey in which Illinois was ranked as the state with the highest percentage of residents who believe it is the worst place to live in the United States. Infamy of this sort is not easily earned, but instead accrues over decades.

Throughout its history, Illinois government has suffered a series of notorious scandals, including the criminal conviction of three of the last six governors. Such humiliations may help to make clear why Illinois residents trust their state government far less than the residents of any other state. While 62 percent of Americans trust their state governments only 28 percent of Illinois residents do. Moreover, Illinoisans are very resentful about the tax burden imposed on them by government.

Pat Quinn, the current inhabitant of the governor's seat in Illinois, is a very unpopular figure who Illinois voters just rejected in his re-election attempt against Bruce Rauner. Illinois now has a new governor-elect. What sort of leader will he be?

With that question in mind, it may be worthwhile to see what lessons can be learned by looking at the tenures of four recent Illinois governors: Jim Edgar, Republican governor from 1991 to 1999; George Ryan, Republican governor from 1999 to 2003; Rod Blagojevich, Democratic governor from 2003 to 2009; and Pat Quinn, who was in office for the last five years.

Jim Edgar was a mild-mannered, moderate office-bearer who became popular as governor, earning broad public support in Illinois during his eight years in office. His most significant accomplishment was cleaning up the state's dire fiscal problems. "When we came in, the state was basically bankrupt," he said. "We had a huge debt. At that time, it looked like the biggest debt ever, but it looks like child's play compared to now. But when I left office, we had the largest surplus we'd ever had." Edgar was also known for his well-run, clean administration of government. He retired after two terms in office, even though he easily could have won re-election.

George Ryan was a career politician who spent more than 30 years in office prior to his election as governor in November 1998. Ryan was known as known as an insider's insider, a pragmatic, deal-cutting politician. This enabled him to achieve certain accomplishments, including increased spending on transportation and education infrastructure. Unfortunately, Ryan was also the sort of Illinois politician who believed that his government offices gave him the right to enrich himself and his friends. He valued loyalty and steered clear of mundane details. This "I seen my opportunities and I took 'em" modus operandi helped lead to a corruption scandal in his administration. George Ryan went to jail and more than 70 others were also convicted. "George Ryan has always been a very political animal,'' said the political scientist John Pelissero. "He thought he understood how the political system worked in Illinois, that if you were going to be successful in political campaigns, there were certain things politicians did. It involved, certainly, having your people who'd come to benefit from your time in office continue helping you in your climb up the ladder. I think he surrounded himself with people who took that to an illegal level, in which there were huge conflicts of interest, the kickbacks, the bribe-taking, the use of state employees, the whole mess."

Rod Blagojevich, another career politician, grew up in the world of old-style Chicago Democratic politics. His father-in-law, the wheeler-dealer alderman Dick Mell, sponsored him as a candidate for the Illinois legislature, the US Congress, and the Illinois governor's seat. Full of energy and a natural gregariousness--but completely lacking in substance--Blagojevich won every election he entered. Unfortunately, like his gubernatorial predecessor, Blagojevich believed that his government offices gave him the right to enrich himself and his friends. He not only was impeached and removed from the office of governor. Blagojevich was also sent to jail for corruption.

Pat Quinn became governor in January 2009 when Blagojevich was removed from office. Prior to that milestone his career had two significant phases. First he was a political activist and later he became a perpetual candidate and career politician. Though generally known as a nice, honest man, Quinn notched few achievements prior to becoming governor. As governor, he generally supported liberal causes, such as the legalization of gay marriage. Unfortunately, Quinn's tenure has had two significant problems. First, he is widely considered ill-equipped to lead Illinois out of its fiscal and management meltdown. During his tenure, the state became known as one of the worst places in America to live. Secondly, the formerly clean-cut Quinn has become embroiled in ethics scandals at the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. These are the type of shenanigans that Illinois needs to move beyond.

So what lessons could Bruce Rauner learn from these four previous Illinois governors? First, he should focus on the state's most pressing issues, which include the need for fiscal discipline and pension reform. Like Jim Edgar, he should pursue these goals in a consistent, even-handed manner, without regard to personal loyalties or party labels. Second, he should make sure that his administration is well-run and clean, distinguishing him from his immediate three predecessors. His personal wealth should facilitate this good government approach, since he does not need a political office to help make him financially secure. Finally, he must actually get things done, rather than supporting the state's status quo or participating in political grandstanding.

It's too early to tell what sort of leader Bruce Rauner will be. However, if he follows the principles outlined above, his likely upcoming gubernatorial tenure will represent a much-needed break from the recent past in Illinois. Perhaps, over time the state can once again become one of the places where its residents are actually proud to live in.

The Irony Of Illinois Election Results Is Hard To Ignore

Wed, 2014-11-05 17:34
Illinois voters appear to have exercised some cognitive dissonance at the polls Tuesday night.

Voters overwhelmingly supported a referendum to raise the state's hourly minimum wage to $10 from $8.25 by 2015, while at the same time voting for the gubernatorial candidate who's gone on record as being highly unlikely to ever make that a reality.

The nonbinding referendum was among several on the Illinois ballot. State Democrats had hoped the measures would spur progressive voter turnout Tuesday. But, just like in several other states on Election Day, the progressive issues in Illinois fared pretty well; the progressive candidate, not so much.

Though a minimum wage hike has long been one of the central issues of incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn's (D) platform, he was passed over by Illinois voters for wealthy businessman Bruce Rauner (R).

Rauner, a multimillionaire former venture capitalist who has never held public office before, has changed his stance on the minimum wage several times.

Last December Rauner was first caught saying he supported cutting the state's current minimum wage of $8.25. Rauner later backed off those comments, calling them "flippant" and, in an about-face, said he supported a wage increase to $10. But in a video just months before the election, Rauner said he “adamantly, adamantly” opposes raising the minimum wage.

In yet another twist of irony, voters supported a tax on millionaires like Rauner. The governor-elect had opposed such taxes, saying they would make Illinois less competitive for business.

The other progressive, nonbinding referendums that gathered support Tuesday would grant more rights to crime victims and require in-state insurance plans to cover birth control.

These Maps Show the Most Common Jobs in Each Zip Code

Wed, 2014-11-05 17:29

What would you guess is the most common job in the nation? Retail? Agriculture? Factory work? While all of those might seem kind of reasonable, the fact is that every area seems to have it's own jobs that are the most common, depending on terrain, social climate, and availability.

Those differences fascinated us here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog, and we decided to find out where each type of job was the most popular. To do this, we made a colored map of the most common occupations, right down to the most common ones in every zip code.

How exactly did we do this? You can find out in the very next section.

Our Methodology

In order to create this map, we turned to the magic of the Internet and the U.S. Census Five Year Community Survey. Using that, we found out the percent of the population that worked in each of 13 categories. Those categories were:

  • -Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations

  • -Construction, extraction, and maintenance occupations

  • -Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations

  • -Food preparation and serving related occupations

  • -Healthcare support occupations

  • -Management, business, and financial operations occupations

  • -Office and administrative support occupations

  • -Personal care and service occupations

  • -Production occupations

  • -Professional and related occupations

  • -Protective service occupations

  • -Sales and related occupations

  • -Transportation and material moving occupations

We also looked at the popularity of particular industries in each zip code, and those industries were:

  • -Construction, extraction, and maintenance occupations

  • -Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations

  • -Management, professional, and related occupations

  • -Production, transportation, and material moving occupations

  • -Sales and office occupations

  • -Service occupations

We then color-coded the maps above to correspond to those two different areas. Let's take a look at those last six categories to see which states excelled in which occupations.

Construction, Extraction, And Maintenance Occupations

This was easily the least popular occupation on our list, as you can see by our map. In fact, you can see by even a quick glance at our map that no one state really showed up as being all about construction, extraction, and maintenance.

There were a few spots in West Virginia and in Arizona, near Luke Air Force Base, where the occupation was more common, though, but this was still a bit of a rarity.

Farming, Fishing, And Forestry Occupations

This type of job was pretty widespread, but there was some density of this industry in one state in particular. California had a grouping of farming, fishing, and forestry zip codes in central California, near areas like Fresno and Clovis. This might be a surprise to those who think that CA is all about technology, but in reality Silicon Valley is fertile farming land and offers great produce.

You'll also see a few zip codes in Oregon, Idaho, and even Florida with this particular occupation type as the most popular option.

Management, Professional, And Related Occupations

This was easily the most popular occupation type on our entire map, which does make sense. Of course, there were a few spots where it was more popular than the rest, particularly in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, and most of their neighboring states.

Even Washington D.C. was almost entirely about management and professional jobs, which probably makes sense when you think about it.

Production, Transportation, And Material Moving Occupations

As the map shows, you really won't find much of this occupation in the western half of the county. However, most states in the east did have their fair share of this type of occupation, with Ohio, Tennessee, and Indiana having high concentrations of production, transportation, and material moving workers.

Zip codes around Murfreesboro seemed to have a high density of this occupation type in particular.

Sales And Office Occupations

You might have expected there to be more of these, but as you can see it really wasn't as popular as you might believe. As with the other categories, though, there were some spots where this was a slightly more common occupation. Parts of Florida, Utah, and even Oregon had large groupings of sales and office types around.

It should also be noted that there seemed to be more of these workers along the southeast coastline, around Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia.

Service Occupations

This trend was particularly interesting. Nevada had the biggest concentration of this industry, and then you'll notice on the map that there's a diagonal line of this job type stretching through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. While there may be smatterings of this occupation in many states, the southern tip of Texas to central Nevada seemed to be the longest stretch of Service workers.

West Virginia also exhibited a lot of this occupation type, but the zip codes where it was the most popular weren't as grouped together as in some other states.

Career Comes First

While management, business, and financial operations occupations might be the most common in the nation, every zip code tells a different story when it comes to who works where. You might find that your job is more common than you thought, or you might find you're a bit of a occupation rarity.

So, if you work in a particular industry and you're looking to head to an area where jobs might be a little more common, don't hesitate to contact us. We sell houses, after all, and we're sure there's a place out there that will aid you in your career goals.

Dems Get the Drubbing They Deserve

Wed, 2014-11-05 15:59
A tweet I received last night about the Illinois's gubernatorial race nicely summed up the reasons behind the Democratic debacle: "Maybe you shouldn't cut working class people's pensions and then expect them to vote for you."

With soon-to-be-former-Governor Quinn attacking tens of thousands of working and retired Illinoisans with a pension "reform" bill that's probably, once again, just kicking the can down the road anyway (because it won't pass constitutional muster), it's little wonder that few could muster enthusiasm for him, even though Bruce Rauner promises many of the same anti-working class attacks.

On the national level, the Democratic base stayed at home, including the much-vaunted and growing Latino vote, rightly disgusted with President Obama's role as "Deporter-in-Chief," the President who has deported more undocumented immigrants than any other president in U.S. history. A winnable Senate seat in Colorado fell as a result, as did the governorship of Florida. Probably more besides.

From promises of "hope and change" in 2008, we went to "we're not as totally awful as the other guys," and yet the Democrats thought they could garner our enthusiasm. We saw six years of unprecedented attacks on whistle-blowers exposing government criminality - Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden being only the most prominent - to the continuation of America's longest-ever wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - to the continued coddling of Wall Street's elite while more Americans lost their homes to foreclosures and working class living standards tanked.

Next to this, the Democrats' words of support for civil rights, like immigrants' rights, voting rights, women's rights, unionists' rights, and LGBT rights, sounded like empty rhetoric.

Any cursory review of the most expansive periods of civil rights and other social progress in the United States history - the Great Depression-era expansion of workers' rights, and the 1960s and early 1970s expansion of Black, women's and LGBT rights - shows that these gains occurred irrespective of who controlled the White House and Congress. They occurred because millions of Americans were in the streets demanding the changes that they could not get through the voting booth.

So rather than taking the Democrats' deserved Nov. 4th drubbing as a cue for depression and inactivity, we need to use their debacle as a wake-up call to focus on the street activism that produces real change, and not the fake, politicians' "change" of the last six years.

Social movements are what have made those elements of LGBTQ freedom that we enjoy today, not the politicians or political parties. Freedom for all oppressed peoples must and will come from themselves and their genuine allies - and not from the power elites of the major parties.

Pat Quinn Concedes Illinois Gubernatorial Race To Bruce Rauner

Wed, 2014-11-05 15:39
Pat Quinn (D) has conceded the Illinois gubernatorial race to Republican challenger Bruce Rauner.

"It's clear that we do not have enough votes to win the election, and therefore we respect the result," Quinn said during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

It was Quinn's first public statement since insisting late Tuesday night he would not concede until 100 percent of Illinois' votes -- including absentee ballots and early voting ballots -- had been counted.

“There are a lot of votes still to be counted,” Quinn told supporters Tuesday. “I don’t believe in throwing in the towel when there are that many votes still to be counted.”

Quinn's concession comes more than half a day after The Associated Press and other outlets called the race for the Republican political newcomer Tuesday night.

With 99 percent of the precincts tallied as of Wednesday, Rauner had 51 percent of the total vote to Quinn's 46 percent, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Rauner didn't wait for Quinn's concession to declare victory. While addressing supporters on Tuesday, he promised to "shake up Springfield" and start a "new direction" for Illinois.

The multimillionaire businessman will be the state's first Republican governor since George Ryan's term ended in 2003.

The loss of the governor's mansion in President Barack Obama's home state is a bruising one for national Democrats: Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama extensively fundraised and stumped for Quinn in Illinois.

The Human Lab Rat in the Lab

Wed, 2014-11-05 15:38
When I was 10 months old, I was diagnosed with an anaphylactic food allergy to wheat, rye, oats and barley. As I've written about in my article, "Pizza and Oreos Would Have Killed Me, But They're Now My Medicine," which can be found here, I was always extremely cautious, for only a couple of crumbs could have put me into anaphylactic shock. And over the years, I've had my share of scares, involving trips to the hospital and epi-pen injections. My family and I were hoping that some day, a genius researcher/doctor would appear and help do something about food allergies. We finally found that person and I enrolled in a food allergy study at Stanford University led by Kari Nadeau. Ever since then, my life has changed dramatically.

As I have been a participant in the study for roughly two years now, I have never fully understood what has been happening to me. It occurred to me a few months ago that I should probably try to learn about the science behind my food allergy, and how the oral immunotherapy was scientifically changing my body. These changes in my lifestyle were infinite, but how was all of this even possible? Who was behind the scenes, making sure that everything was safe, and okay to be conducted? My brain swelled with all of the questions racing through my mind, so I needed to think of a way to at least try to find out about what was happening to my body.

I am fortunate enough to attend a school which provides students in their junior or senior year the opportunity to create independent studies. The student designs the curriculum, builds a framework for the class and chooses the best fit teacher to guide the research.

I thought to myself, why not try an independent study? How often is it that a student can do research on a project that is directly affecting their life, while simultaneously changing their body? Especially, a science project. I kept thinking of ways that I could go about the independent study. I sat with my parents, and asked them about what I should do. They suggested that I write down 10 or so questions that I have developed throughout the course of the study. And so I did. I brought them in to my science teacher the next day. He looked them over, and we decided to think about ways that we could find the answers to these questions. We scheduled a conference call with the lead doctor of the allergy study at Stanford, Kari Nadeau.

Kari Nadeau: A mother of five; two sets of twins, and an older boy, proud owner of multiple pets, ranging from rodents to dogs, wife of a brain surgeon and lead doctor of a food allergy study at Stanford. This woman made the time to talk to me, and my science teacher. She is just incredibly organized. Kari explained to us what she and her employees do in the lab at Stanford, and why they do the things they do. I presented my questions, and asked her how I should go about researching them. She graciously invited me to her lab in Palo Alto to meet the lab assistants and get a little taste of what they do. At the lab I could research some of my questions and her mysterious lab assistants could direct me on the path to find answers and plan out an independent study.

I was so overwhelmed, yet so excited. When I get an opportunity like that, I take advantage of it. My parents and I planned the summer, and made adjustments so that I could go to Dr. Nadeau's lab. We had figured out a way to make it work.

As I boarded the plane to San Francisco with my cousin as chaperone, I was anxious and excited, ready for the journey that lay ahead. I, the human lab rat, was about to enter the lab. I was about to see what these researchers were doing to my body, and discover how they were changing my life in a scientific way. I was honestly very nervous, worried that I was not equipt to be in the presence of such scientific genius, but the thrill of the upcoming experience overrode my nervousness.

The next day, I pulled up to the hospital in the rental car, and was greeted by Shu-chen Lyu, a member of the Nadeau lab since 2011. She greeted me with a huge smile, and was eager to show me around. We took the elevator up, and walked across the many hallways to finally arrive to the lab. She pointed to go to the left, and so I did. And there it was. The fabled lab where Dr. Nadeau and her team did all of their research. Here I was introduced to a few of the lab members: Jennifer, Erik, Unni, etc. It was honestly a bit strange to meet the people behind all of this research. And I'm sure it must have been odd for the researchers in the lab to see their human lab rat, so to speak. We reminisced about life in the study, how it has changed my life, why I was at the lab, etc. I was instructed to go with Erik, to watch him conduct a series of tests. It was interesting to see him test the blood of patients in the study, (obviously he did not tell me who the people were, because that would violate their rules). I did not have my blood drawn at the time, but when I go back out there within the next few months, I will be sure to test my own blood. Now that will be a bit strange: Having the opportunity to see how my blood has evolved/changed.

I explained to all of the people in the lab that as a patient in the study, I really wanted to know exactly what they were possibly doing to my body. I gave them a list of some of my questions. Some of those questions included: What even is an allergy? What is Xolair, and how is it changing my immune system? (Xolair was the drug that I took in the beginning of the study.) What does the Epipen actually do? My questions ranged from basic, to extremely sophisticated. In my next article, I hope to have some answers for you all!

During my week at the lab, I was able to get a few readings from the people there, learn a bit about what they do and also the process of how they do things. It was amazing to get exposed to this, and I look forward to learning much more about food allergies!

I just wanted to conclude with a brief note. The work that Dr. Nadeau and her Stanford team are accomplishing is life-changing and cutting edge. The whole team is so passionate about their research, and they really want to find the cure for food allergies. They have a wonderful sense of urgency to solve an important problem, and they do it so well. It is these kinds of people who enhance the world as we know it.

A 'Have-Not' Denied the Right to Vote in Illinois

Wed, 2014-11-05 15:07
Tonight, I was literally one minute -- check that, 7:01 p.m. -- late to my polling place, as witnessed by the school janitor who saw me sprint across the school's front lawn after I brought my car to a screeching halt out front.

As I blew through the front door, hurdling the pile of leaves dragged in by the voters who came before me, the young janitor who was sweeping up smiled and said, "You made it. That way, ma'am." He pointed toward the gymnasium.

Moments later, I passed the janitor on my way to the exit. Dejected. He stopped sweeping and looked at me in disbelief. "They turned you away?" "Yep," I replied. "That ain't right, ma'am. That just ain't right. Go back in there and demand to vote."

Bolstered by the janitor's support, I did just that. I returned to the gymnasium and held up my cell phone that now glowed 7:03 p.m. There was still one voter in a booth. The almighty precinct worker mumbled, "Here she comes again," as if to shame me for returning, as if to shame me for wanting to exercise my right. "Seriously? You're going to deny me my right to vote because I was one minute late?" You could tell the guy was proud of himself as he grinned, "That's the law, ma'am."

When I explained that I had heard on the radio moments ago that other polling places in the Chicagoland area would remain open beyond 7:00 p.m. because there were lines out the door, he replied, "It would take an act of Congress for me to allow you to vote." So I left. With a very heavy heart. Feeling like one of Illinois' "have-nots."

Why, you ask, have I begun to feel like a "have-not" in Illinois? Because as a full-time, gainfully employed professional woman for over 30 years...

I HAVE NOT ever wiggled out of my work obligations.

I HAVE NOT shrugged off my tax obligations.

I HAVE NOT benefited from a nickel of public assistance - not for my education, not for my mortgage obligation when the market tanked, not for my small business that occasionally struggles to make payroll with more money on the street than in our corporate bank account.

I HAVE NOT demanded former employers to pay me because I had a pulse.

As a "have-not," I believe I am a stakeholder in this very important Illinois election. As a taxpayer. As a small business owner. As an overtaxed real estate owner. As a professional woman.

What's at stake for me?

As a taxpayer, I have the right to vote for individuals who I believe can actually read a balance sheet, folks who are educated enough to stop writing checks on a sorely overdrawn account.

As a small business owner, I have the right to cast my ballot for folks who won't play economic roulette by handing out raises in the form of an increased minimum wage because our government feels non-skilled workers have a right to a higher income.

As a real estate owner who contributes mightily -- in fact, feels overburdened by real estate tax bills -- I wanted to punch the ballot for competent individuals to take the reigns in a state that has been dogged by corruption and mismanagement, an individual who might demand fiscal transparency to figure out where the leak is.

As a professional woman, I wanted the opportunity to vote for a governor who has a successful track record in the private sector, someone who can translate that success to benefit all Illinois' residents.

Mr. Rauner, had I been given the opportunity to vote, my vote would have been for you.


One of Illinois' HAVE-NOTS

Haley Morris-Cafiero's Stunning Photographs Show The Strange Looks An Overweight Woman Receives In Public

Wed, 2014-11-05 15:06
Back in 2013, photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero released a series of self-portraits showing how bystanders looked at her in public.

What were they reacting to? Her weight.

Morris-Cafiero has now released a new set of photographs as a continuation to the series, in which she photographs people reacting to her exercising, shopping for new clothes or preparing to go to the beach.

"When the Wait Watchers images went viral, many of the online articles had anonymous commenters posting that my life (and the world) would be better if I just got a makeover and exercised," she told The Huffington Post in an email. "In my new series, I am doing the same process as 'Wait Watchers' where I set up a camera and record the reactions of strangers but now I am engaging in 'self-improvement' acts such as exercising, looking at clothes, etc. My goal is to be more assertive with my role in the image and show that I am still looked at with critical glances when I try to 'improve' myself towards society's standards."

Morris-Cafiero is hoping to publish these images, alongside some commentary she's received, in a book titled The Watchers.

The photographer told HuffPost that her book is inspired as much by people's reactions to the photographs as the narrative of the images themselves.

"When the images went viral, the articles provided a platform for anonymous critics to make comments," she said in an email. "Many of the comments concentrated not on the actual photographs, but on how ugly my face, hair, clothes, etc were. The commenters don't realize that they are contributing to my project by making judgements about me based on how I look ([thinking I'm] on welfare, unemployed, have diabetes). So I started archiving the comments."

Morris-Cafiero is careful to distinguish between the vitriolic comments she receives on the Internet, and the glances of people captured in her photographs.

"I still don't know what the passersby in my photographs are thinking or reacting to," she said.

Not all the online feedback she's received has been negative. Another inspiration for publishing this book is the outpouring of stories from other people who feel judged for their weight.

"In addition to critical emails and comments, I have received hundreds of emails from supportive people who have found inspiration in my photographs," Morris-Cafiero wrote on her Kickstarter page. "Some say 'thank you' and others tell stories of my images helping them love their body, overcome bullying or not commit suicide."

Learn more about this amazing project here.

5 New GOP Governors Could Undercut Medicaid Expansion

Wed, 2014-11-05 14:44
The Republican wave at the polls Tuesday didn't just give the GOP more power to obstruct Obamacare in Congress and block Medicaid expansion in more than 20 states. It also could jeopardize health benefits already extended to Americans living near the poverty level.

Republican governors will replace Democrats in four states -- Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts -- that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. And the Republican succeeding Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) is dubious about that state's expansion.

Heading into Election Day, advocates for more Medicaid were hopeful that Democrats would win gubernatorial races in Florida, Maine, Wisconsin and other states where Republican governors have blocked the policy, leaving millions uninsured. Instead, the only place where the tide could turn in favor of Medicaid expansion, which the Supreme Court made optional for the states in 2012, is Alaska. The race there remains undecided between independent Bill Walker, who supports the policy, and Gov. Sean Parnell (R).

Moreover, the new Republican governors in Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts will have the power to threaten health coverage for hundreds of thousands who have enrolled in expanded Medicaid. None has publicly threatened to do so, but the program has become more vulnerable in those states. Here's what the governors-elect have said about Medicaid.

Doug Ducey, Arizona

Gov. Brewer infuriated Republican lawmakers when she strong-armed the Medicaid expansion through the Arizona legislature last year. More than 230,000 Arizonans enrolled under the new rules as of last month, the state reported.

Ducey isn't making noise about undoing the expansion, but he wants the state to seek federal approval to alter the program, including adding a requirement that beneficiaries deposit money in health savings accounts. Ducey has also vowed to constrain Arizona's spending on Medicaid as federal funding for the expansion drops from 100 percent through 2016 to 90 percent by 2022.

In a statement on, he said:

I will lead the effort to negotiate a Medicaid waiver for Arizona and to protect our state from Obamacare, one of the worst laws ever signed by any American president. ... The expansion of Medicaid as part of Obamacare receives significant federal money ... for the first three years. After that the rules will change, and Arizona taxpayers may need to pay considerably more. As governor I will prepare for all scenarios, and I will not allow a massive new entitlement to grow into a huge financial burden for future generations of Arizonans. We will keep a lid on health care costs, period.

Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas

Arkansas led the nation in creating an alternative model for expanding Medicaid that uses private insurance plans to provide health coverage. Gov. Mike Beebe (D) devised the so-called private option with the GOP-controlled state legislature. More than 200,000 people enrolled in Arkansas, and states with Republican governors like Ohio and Pennsylvania adopted similar policies. But the private option was nearly defunded this year because Arkansas law requires spending bills to receive a 75 percent vote in both houses of the legislature.

After Hutchinson's gubernatorial victory on Tuesday and gains by Republicans in the state legislature, winning that 75 percent will be even harder next year. Hutchinson has said he wouldn't have signed the bill creating the private option had he been governor at the time, but he has stopped short of calling for its repeal. Here's what he said in March after the legislature voted to keep the program alive:

Ultimately, I would have designed the health care plan for Arkansas differently. But as Governor, I will inherit the decisions the Governor and General Assembly made in the fiscal session. ... I view the Private Option as a pilot project; a pilot project that can be ended if needed. As Governor, I will assess the benefit of the Private Option and measure the long-term costs to the state taxpayers. As Governor, I will weigh the cost and benefits of the program and determine whether the program should be terminated or continued.

Bruce Rauner, Illinois

Rauner's position on the Land of Lincoln's Medicaid expansion, which has covered nearly 470,000 people, is clear: He's not going to fight the Democratic-controlled legislature over it, even though he wouldn't have adopted it in the first place.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Rauner said:

I would not have accepted expansion of Medicaid. ... It's been done now and I'm not advocating a rollback. But what I am advocating and always have and always will is we've got to restructure Medicaid in Illinois. It is filled with waste and fraud.

Larry Hogan, Maryland

Hogan's stance on the Medicaid expansion is difficult to parse, and his campaign didn't immediately respond to an email requesting clarification. Although he hammered his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, over Maryland's botched health insurance exchange, Medicaid expansion -- which has covered about 377,000 Marylanders -- wasn't a notable issue during the gubernatorial campaign. Hogan also faces a Democratic-led state legislature.

In an October interview with the Washington Times, Hogan seemed to indicate that he won't pick a fight over Medicaid:

He said that trying to take on Medicaid or powerful labor unions, as Republican governors have done in other states, would be a “fool’s errand.”

“We’re going to try to win the battles we can win. That’s tough enough as it is,” said Mr. Hogan. “It’s baby steps in Maryland.”

Charlie Baker, Massachusetts

Baker, a former health insurance executive, is one of the many, many Bay Staters frustrated by the bungled marriage of Massachusett's pre-Obamacare health care reforms with the federal Affordable Care Act. Problems included a poorly functioning website and people forced to accept temporary coverage under government programs instead of the private insurance they wanted. The issue of Medicaid expansion, however, wasn't part of Baker's platform, and his campaign didn't immediately reply to an email requesting comment.

Baker has pledged to cut the Massachusetts health care program loose from Obamacare. But given that generous Medicaid coverage was available in the state before the Affordable Care Act, scrapping the expansion would seem incompatible with protecting the program signed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R) in 2006. Moreover, the state legislature remains in the hands of Democrats.

According to

Massachusetts should be able to return to its own system that worked and as governor Charlie will aggressively pursue a waiver for Massachusetts from the ACA.

To date, 27 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, which makes Medicaid available to anyone who earns up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level -- or about $11,500 for a single person.

Aquarium Staff Teaches Adorable Orphaned Otter Pup How To Otter

Wed, 2014-11-05 14:39
An orphaned 5-week-old southern sea otter now has a second chance at life, thanks to round-the-clock care from staff at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.

The female otter, who is being referred to as Pup 681, was found in late September on Coastways Beach in California. Wildlife officials determined the 2-pound pup, just a week old at the time, had been orphaned. She was then taken to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Her condition was stabilized before she was transferred to Shedd, which offered to give the otter a permanent home.

Pup 681 arrived at the Chicago aquarium on Oct. 28. A rotating staff of six to eight animal care experts tend to her, monitoring her at all times behind the scenes at Shedd's Abbott Oceanarium. They are also teaching her how to groom, forage, feed and regulate her own body temperature. It is, to put it lightly, no small feat.

(Story continues below.)

But look how cute!

"It truly takes a village to rehabilitate a young sea otter," Tim Binder, vice president of animal collections for Shedd, said in a statement. "While the process is lengthy, our hands-on experience and long history rehabilitating sea otters allows us to use our expertise to work on saving this pup’s life by providing her with a home and the care she needs."

The pup is said to be making good progress. She has gained weight and is now just under 6 pounds. She's also hitting important milestones, such as drinking formula from a bottle and eating shrimp, clams and other sold foods.

The southern sea otter is classified as a threatened animal population by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

We're all rooting for you, 681! May your infectious spirit be an inspiration to us all.

Sketches Of George Lucas Museum Look Like They Belong In Outer Space

Wed, 2014-11-05 14:08
CHICAGO (AP) -- The sketches of "Star Wars" creator George Lucas' Chicago museum show a flowing white building topped with a hovering ring. The newly unveiled architectural designs for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art were drawing a range of reaction on Wednesday, from snide comments to forthright admiration.

"It looks like a palace for Jabba the Hutt. I was wondering what planet we are on," Chicago Alderman Bob Fioretti, who's challenging Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the mayor's race next year, told the Chicago Sun-Times. Online design site Co.Design was more generous, comparing the architectural concept to "an Egyptian pyramid reimagined for the year 2020."

The Beijing-based principal designer, Ma Yansong of MAD Architects, released the first sketches Tuesday. The seven-story museum will be located between Soldier Field and McCormick Place on Lake Michigan. It's expected to cost about $400 million. Ma has said it's the most important project of his career to date.

"Inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, the design integrates the natural beauty of the park and Lake Michigan with the powerful man-made architecture of Chicago," MAD Architects said in a statement on the firm's website.

When Lucas announced the design team in July, he called them "some of the top architects in the world."

"I am thrilled with the architectural team's vision for the building and the surrounding green space. I look forward to presenting our design to the Chicago community," Lucas said in the July 28 statement.

Chicago-based Studio Gang is doing the landscape design, including a bridge to connect the museum with Northerly Island. Chicago-based VOA Associates is leading the implementation of the design.

Ma's previous work includes Absolute Towers in Ontario, Canada; the Ordos Museum in Ordos, China; and Chaoyang Park Plaza in Beijing, China.

(AP Photos/Courtesy of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)




Information from: Chicago Sun-Times,

8 Signs That You've Developed Greater Self-Love and Awareness

Wed, 2014-11-05 13:51
The problem with developing a stronger sense of ourselves, and self-love, is that it can be rather elusive.

In other words, how do we know if we get there? If we've arrived?

The thing about self-love is that it's an ongoing, ever-evolving process. It's about living out your fullest potential. Developing a stronger sense of love and compassion within yourself, and extending that love to others.

However, there are a few sign posts along the way to point you in the right direction, and I've listed eight of them below.

Now, this isn't to say that you're going to be feeling this way all the time, but hopefully as you strengthen the muscle more of your days will be filled with joy, energy, enthusiasm and compassion.

Check out the eight signs below to show that you've developed greater self-love and awareness.

1. You don't fear making the wrong decision, because you're aware that there can always be a lesson in it.

The fear of making the wrong decision has immobilized me in the past. I don't know when I stopped trusting myself, but somewhere along the way I realized that I'd question every single decision.

"Is this the right choice?" "Should I not have broken up with him?" "Will I be happy if I move to this new city?"

Sure, decisions are scary, because to choose one thing means to close off other possibilities. But making a choice can also set you free. Allow yourself to trust that everything happens for a reason, and that each decision always carries the opportunity for a profound spiritual lesson.

2. Your inner-critic voice is softer and is balanced out by the compassionate observer.

Have you heard that voice that says "You're not good enough, smart enough or attractive enough?" Yeah... me too.

The thing is, this voice isn't as bad as you might think. If you listen to it from the state of a compassionate observer, you might notice that it's just scared and trying to motivate or protect you in some way. The problem is that often the critical voice is the only voice we hear. We might think we need it to motivate ourselves, and it can be motivating, but it can also be crippling.

If a little child was curled up in a ball crying, do you think yelling would motivate them? Probably not. In that moment, they might just need a hug and for someone to tell them that it's OK. As adults, we need this too. We must tap into our compassionate observer voice, also known as your inner wisdom and hear what that has to say.

3. You understand that happiness is not something to be found but rather cultivated from within.

This is a biggie. I'm sure you've heard this before, but if you're not living it than it hasn't really settled into your bones. So I'll say it again: don't chase after happiness, choose it every single day.

It sounds cheesy but it's true... the grass is greenest where we water it. Happiness is an inside job. We must allow ourselves to feel it and give it room to grow. I'm not saying that external forces like a certain job, relationship or place won't make you happy. The right one probably will! But that doesn't mean it will make you happy forever or that you can rely on it for your sole source of happiness. If you do than you'll be putting a tremendous amount of pressure on one specific thing. You'll squeeze the life out of it.

So instead, decide to choose happiness, cultivate it from within and bring it forth to everything around you.

4. You've stopped worrying so much about what people will think of you and no longer feel the need to judge others.

This one goes without much explanation. It no longer feels so significant what others are going to say or think about you. I'm sure we can all think of someone who's a total gossip. I certainly can count a few I've known over the years. But is this person truly happy? Are they able to have authentic relationships when others are terrified of what they may say behind their back? Probably not.

How would your life be if you allowed yourself to be who you are without worrying what others will think? Would you stand a little taller, sing a little louder or smile at strangers more often? A few years ago I was at a bar with a couple of girlfriends. I suddenly noticed a few guys next to us making fun of the way my friend was speaking. I don't know where this moment of boldness came from, but I looked at him and said, "Your judgments are not a reflection of us, they're a reflection of yourself as someone who needs to judge."

That shut him up.

5. Your body becomes more sensitive and you can no longer tolerate toxins as you once could.

I'm not sure if this is true for everyone but I thought I'd throw it in here because it's been my experience. I now cringe when I think back to how much I could both binge drink and eat in college and my early 20s.

Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy great food and a glass of wine, but the effect on my body and my psyche after over-indulging lingers longer. Your body wants to move and sweat every day, stay totally hydrated and be nourished with delicious, healthy foods.

6. You have the courage to let go of situations and relationships that no longer serve you.

This is a big one, and also an uncomfortable one at times. In order to fully give ourselves love and respect, we must also accept that some relationships have outgrown their purpose and no longer serve us anymore. You may need to cut off ties with certain people altogether, or set boundaries within the relationship.

This is particularly true with past romantic relationships. Sometimes you must fully cut ties to give yourself the chance to heal and move forward in love. Or it could be a job you know you've outgrown but are scared to leave. Or a living situation that no longer fits who you are today.

7. You no longer feel lonely because you like the person you're alone with.

I first heard from Wayne Dyer that "you're never alone if you enjoy the person you're alone with". For so long I felt unhappy and incomplete being single. I craved a relationship because I simply didn't want to be alone. Sitting still for too long meant that I would be alone with my thoughts and have to face the fact that I didn't really like the person I was alone with. Now, I love spending quality time by myself. It re-energizes me so that I have more to give to my relationship and work.

8. You allow yourself to have fun and feel joy in the present moment.

You stop always looking to the past or worrying about the future, and set yourself free in the present moment. And you enjoy it. You can be fully engaged in your work, or while making love, or singing in the shower.

Recently, we were visiting family who had a trampoline in their back yard. When I was a kid, I'd spend hours at a time bouncing away on our trampoline. Now, it's been a good 15 years or more since I've even been in the vicinity of a trampoline, so when I saw this I totally lit up! I made my husband help me take off my heels so I could jump on it for a little while. I thought I'd be apprehensive but those feelings of joy and play that I had a kid came rushing back to me. There's a lot of joy out there, allow yourself to experience it.

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LeBron James And Cavs Are Still Searching For An Identity

Wed, 2014-11-05 12:30
It's not that the Cleveland Cavaliers aren't going to score points. Newly minted head coach David Blatt should be able eventually to get his three superstars -- including young point guard Kyrie Irving, who understands pick-and-roll as well as anyone -- in sync with his tricky offensive scheme.

No, the Cavs are 1-2 right now not because they aren't scoring, but because one of the league's youngest teams is getting shredded at the defensive end.

NBA coaches often preach defense as a mentality focused on consistently making stops. LeBron James hasn't figured out how to get his new teammates to buy in to that concept, and neither has Blatt.

"I don't think we brought any type of mindset to defend," Blatt said after his team's 101-82 loss in Portland on Tuesday. "We never took a stand defensively tonight at all."

Granted, it's only three games, which means no one is in panic mode yet, but the small sample size offers a glimpse into the team's early issues. The Cavs have allowed more than 101 points per game and rank 26th in field goal percentage against and 24th in 3-point percentage allowed, respectively.

Bringing in a couple of superstars like James and Kevin Love to a roster -- even one as talented as Cleveland's was -- does not instantly address problems that existed prior to their arrival. Bad habits form easily, especially among young players who haven't learned how to win on a regular basis, as James was quick to point out.

"We have to understand what it takes to win," he said. "It's going to be a long process, man. There's been a lot of losing basketball around here for a few years. So a lot of guys that are going to help us win ultimately haven't played a lot of meaningful basketball games in our league."

One of those guys is Irving, who at 22 years old is in many ways the team's most important piece after James. He is the one who will be responsible for setting the tone on defense. Last year, as a third-year pro, the former No. 1 pick and Rookie of the Year ranked 45th in defensive efficiency for all point guards, according to Synergy Sports Technology. That number has to improve significantly, and one of the ways to do that is for Irving to develop a better rapport with his teammates.

Before the season started, Irving told The Huffington Post that he wasn't sure when exactly that would happen. "Honestly, I have no idea," he said. "It can happen the first day I get back, it can happen end of the season, mid-week in the season. We just have to develop an identity. I think that's the most important thing, is find out who we want to be and exactly what we want to accomplish."

What these new-look Cavaliers want is to win a title right out of the gate, a difficult challenge given the rise of Chicago and Washington in the Eastern Conference, and the return of an intact defending champion in the San Antonio Spurs in the west. Surely this Cavaliers roster is talented enough on paper to make a run -- but they also have a rookie head coach facing a steep learning curve, a Big Three who have yet to play their best basketball together, and several ancillary players who are unfamiliar with playing a winning style every night.

During the loss to the Blazers, James seemed to take the unusual step of fading into the background; instead of demanding the ball in the second half, he watched as Irving played isolation basketball, vaguely reminiscent of his Uncle Drew ads. Ultimately, Irving went 3-17 from the floor, while James took just four shots and went scoreless after halftime. It seemed as much a teaching moment as anything else, almost as if to say, This is what happens when we do it your way.

Irving has said he wants to get on the same page as James and the team. "Teams play different ways," he told HuffPost in September, "and if you find that way to win and it works, then I don't think you should change it. So we just have to find our identity, and that's what I've learned."

One might point out that in 2010, the first year of the Miami Heat's Big Three, that team also stumbled to an unimpressive 9-8 start before making its run to the finals. Clearly, the Cavs' identity is still developing -- the big question now is: How long will it take?

Email me at or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram @Schultz_Report. Also, be sure to catch my NBC Sports Radio show "Kup and Schultz," which airs Sunday mornings from 9 to 12 EST and 12-1 for fantasy football, right here.

A Skyscraper-Sized Risk for Chicago

Wed, 2014-11-05 11:48
Sunday night Nik Wallenda walked on a high wire between three Chicago skyscrapers. He first walked from one of the Marina City towers to the Leo Burnett Building. He then crossed from one Marina City tower to the other while blindfolded.

The event was mesmerizing. On a cold, dark and windy November evening, he put one foot in front of the other and crossed the Chicago River more than five hundred feet over the city.
The event was a triumph for the City of Chicago.

It generated enormous publicity. The Discovery Channel reported that viewership reached 6.7 million people from all around the world. People discussed the event on social media, with more than 150,000 tweets. According to Nielsen, more than 3.4 million people received a tweet about the walk, many with the hashtag #SkyscraperLive. Sixty-five thousand people gathered to watch the event live.

More important, the event showed Chicago at its best. The walk took place over the Chicago River, a spectacular setting. Aerial views showed the entire downtown area. The event built on Chicago's reputation as a city of towering buildings and home of the world's first steel frame skyscraper, built back in 1885.

Events like Wallenda's walk builds brands. It is incredibly difficult today to capture people's attention. There is so much clutter in the world that people tune out everything that isn't unique or special in some fashion. To break through the clutter and engage people, a brand has to do something that justifies the attention. Traditional advertising is just not as impactful as a compelling event; people tune out the ads.

During Sunday's event, millions of people saw Chicago's stunning urban environment. While they watch Wallenda, they saw a lot of Chicago. Indeed, the walk was as much about Chicago as it was about Wallenda. People who knew the city felt a sense of pride. People who didn't know the city now have a favorable impression.

It is impossible to get this sort of attention with traditional media.

The event only occurred because Chicago's leaders, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, embraced it. In doing so, they took a calculated risk. There was a chance that Wallenda would fall or cancel. Some people called it a stunt more suited to Las Vegas or Orlando.

Phil Rosenthal, a business columnist at the Chicago Tribune, wrote, "Just because Nik Wallenda is willing to risk his life on the high wire doesn't mean Chicago should take a chance, too."

Emanuel's team could easily have blocked the production or scaled it back. Simply enforcing the Illinois' Aerial Exhibitors Safety Act, which called for a safety harness, would have reduced the risk and downside.

Instead, the major embraced the production. His only concession was that he didn't attend in person; he watched from his home with his family.

The Chicago team bet on Wallenda and enhanced Chicago's reputation around the world.

This is how people grow great brands today.

What does it mean for Republican governor candidate Rauner to win in Democratic Illinois?

Wed, 2014-11-05 11:39
Illinois voters pulled off quite a feat on Tuesday. They overwhelmingly gave their support to raising the minimum wage and imposing a tax on millionaires but also elected a governor who will do everything in his power to make sure neither of those things ever happen.

The advisory questions -- on raising the minimum wage, imposing a 3 percent income tax on millionaires and requiring health insurance plans to cover contraception -- served no purpose other than to motivate Democratic voters to get to the polls, the Republicans said. Likewise with the constitutional amendments -- one to place a crime victims' bill of rights in the constitution, the other to ensure voters' rights -- though those measures would change the constitution if approved.

Here's how voters split on each measure included:

See what the results say about the Illinois electorate and what it could mean for the future of the state at Reboot Illinois.

But perhaps the bigger question is: What does a Gov. Bruce Rauner look like in general? What can Illinoisans expect from his leadership?

Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek writes:

How exactly will he bring back Illinois? How, indeed, when he must work with Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, not to mention the "union bosses" he regularly criticized until he won the GOP primary.

Rauner didn't dwell on that, but struck a common man chord Tuesday, noting he had called Madigan and Cullerton and told them the three of them faced an opportunity.

"This is an opportunity for us to work together," he said. "This is an opportunity for us to come together on a bipartisan basis ... We will not accept the status quo. We will get it done with your help," Rauner told supporters at his victory party. He also made a point of saying, "This is a victory for our workers who deserve to have a booming economy."

Read the rest of Doubek's thoughts at Reboot Illinois about how Rauner might work with political opposition and still deliver on his campaign pledges.

Illinois' Tax Climate for Businesses Slides

Wed, 2014-11-05 11:23
According to the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index, the climate for business taxes in Illinois is not headed in the right direction. In its ranking of all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Illinois was not called the worst state, but it was ranked lower than in past years.

Since 2011, Illinois has gone from 17th to 31st in overall business tax climate. Unsurprisingly, this decline seemingly coincided with the temporary tax hike for both individual and corporate income taxes. However, the Tax Foundation notes it did not take into account the phased rollback beginning January 2015. Unless the General Assembly extends or makes the tax increases permanent following the election, corporate tax rates will fall from 9.5 percent to 7.75 percent, and individual to 3.75 percent from 5 percent.

Along with personal and corporate income tax rates, the Tax Foundation ranked sales, unemployment insurance and property taxes to determine the overall ranking. Here's how Illinois ranked in each category.

Overall Rank 31

Corporate Tax Rank 47

Individual Income Tax Rank 11

Sales Tax Rank 34

Unemployment Insurance Tax Rank 38

Property Tax Rank 44

Illinois is surrounded by states who made the top of both the "best of" and "worst of" lists. Here are the top 10 best states for business tax climates in the U.S.:

1. Wyoming

2. South Dakota

3. Nevada

4. Alaska

5. Florida

6. Montana

7. New Hampshire

8. Indiana

9. Utah

10. Texas

Check out the ten worst states for business tax climates in the United States, including a few of Illinois' neighbors, at Reboot Illinois.

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