Thursday, May 31, 2007

morning on Van Buren

What's in season?

You may have seen the earlier post about farmers markets and wondered what's in season. The Sun-Times recently ran a list of what's in season when, very useful when you want to have some idea what you'll find at the farmers market.

Asparagus, greens, herbs, leaf lettuce, pea pods, radishes, rhubarb,
spinach, strawberries, watercress

Asparagus, green beans, greens, herbs, lettuce, mushrooms, pea pods,
pod peas, radishes, rhubarb, snap peas, spinach, strawberries

Beets, blackberries, blueberries, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage,
carrots, cauliflower, sweet and sour cherries, corn, cucumbers, red
currants, eggplant, fava beans, fennel, garlic, green beans, greens,
herbs, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, lima beans, muskmelon, okra, onions,
parsnips, peaches, pears, peppers, potatoes, radishes, raspberries,
shell beans, spinach, summer apples, summer squash, tomatoes, turnips,

Beets, blackberries, blueberries, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage,
carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, fava beans, fennel,
garlic, green beans, greens, herbs, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, lima
beans, muskmelon, okra, onions, parsnips, peaches, pears, peppers,
potatoes, shell beans, summer apples, summer squash, tomatoes,
turnips, watermelon

Apples, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots,
cauliflower, corn, cranberries, cucumbers, eggplant, grapes, green
beans, greens, herbs, leeks, lettuce, lima beans, onions, parsnips,
pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, pumpkins, raspberries, summer
andwinter squash, tomatoes, turnips, watermelon

Apple cider, apples, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage,
cauliflower, cranberries, dried beans, greens, leeks, onions, pears,
potatoes, pumpkins, turnips, winter squash

a new/old sound

I was listening to WXRT today and heard a new tune by Joseph Sumner's new band, Fiction Plane.

You're probably wondering "who's Joseph Sumner?" Police fans might recognize the name Gordon Sumner, Joseph's father, otherrwise known as Sting. The band's musical style is different from the Police or from Sting's solo efforts. However, I can certainly hear a bit of Sting in his son's voice, just as I can hear a bit of John Lennon in his son Julian's voice. Not bad. Hopefully he can have a successful musical career and a decent life.

tales of the clueless 3

This guy may be our prizewinner of the year. And gets better.

tales of the clueless 2

Yesterday at lunchtime I was walking on State Street. The sidewalk was very crowded, and I was stuck behind a group of 20-something girls dressed in the disposable fashion of the moment. We were all walking past Marshall Field's (sorry, can't call it Macy's). They passed a Streetwise vendor, who was holding copies of the paper, and one of them took a copy and kept walking. The vendor was calling out "hey, that's not free, it costs a dollar." The girl who took his paper said "Oh I don't want it then" and flung it back at him. How low can you go, trying to rip off a homeless guy?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

action alert - Complete Streets

Your action is needed to ensure the passage of SB 314. SB 314 requires that bicycle and pedestrian ways be established in the planning and construction of all state transportation projects. A weakened version of the bill passed the Senate, but following a meeting between legislators, IDOT and Chicagoland Bicycle Federation staff, the bill has been amended to restore it to it's original intent.

There will be a vote on House floor today or tomorrow, as the deadline to complete business is May 31. It is very important that you call your state representative and ask for their vote in favor of this important piece of legislation.

Click here to find out of the name and contact information of your State Representative.

Please call your representative's Springfield office to ask them to vote for passage of the amended version of the bill. Please make a phone call rather than sending e-mail so that the message is received today, with a message like:

"I'm calling to ask Representative _________ to vote in favor of the amended version of SB314. Thank you for your time."

You can help make a difference in the quality of your pedestrian and bicycling experience.

save internet radio

Do you enjoy listening to internet radio? If you do, please contact your U.S. Senators and ask them to support the Internet Radio Equality Act. Click here and here for more info.

Click here to find the names and contact info for your senators.

The Copyright Royalty Board enacted a decision that would increase royalty payments for webcasters to a much higher level than broadcast or satellite radio, as high as 1200% of revenues for some webcasters. This would take effect on 7/15/07 and would quickly wipe out most currently available webcasts, including the excellent Pandora.

Click here for news updates on the issue.

99th Street Metra update

I guess I got an answer to my question of last week. Yesterday when I got to the station, there were a few folks in Metra hardhats carrying tools and opening up the old station house. Looks like they're starting work. More updates and pictures as work progresses.

another treat

Here's one of my favorite front yard gardens in the neighborhood.

tales of the clueless

Yesterday I was in the bathroom at work when a blonde 20-something from another office on the floor came in, talking on her cell phone. She took the phone into a toilet stall and continued her conversation while peeing and flushing the toilet. Some people have no boundaries at all. Ick!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

cicadas are out

I started seeing large numbers of cicadas almost a week ago while walking to the train. That night, I didn't see any hint of those that had emerged. Later I got the answer: seagulls. Large flocks of seagulls started showing up in the neighborhood in the next 2 days, unusual here, since we're several miles inland. They swooped down on lawns and sidewalks, chowing down on the free critter buffet. At times it looks like a scene out of Hitchcock's "The Birds."

Here's a newly emerged cicada on the sidewalk.

Here are cicada shells left behind on a tree after they've molted.

The cicadas have been singing for the last few days, but they're a bit quieter than I expected, at least on our block. Seems like the gulls have made a bit of dent in the cicada population.

spring treats

Jerry Falwell won't be missed

Don't rest in peace Jerry Falwell. It's unfortunate that your shameless promotion of ignorance and bigotry will outlive you. Your hate mongering is not moral, and your followers are not a majority - and that's a very good thing.

Monday, May 28, 2007

green choices - biodiesel and ethanol

Some news stories and advertisements would have you believe that biodiesel and ethanol are the next big miracles. However, when you scratch the surface, it becomes apparent that it's not quite that simple.

The demand for oilseed crops is growing with interest in biodiesel. California farmers are experimenting with growing oilseed crops in areas where more profitable crops cannot be grown.

Here are 2 sites about DIY biodiesel and Biodiesel FAQs.

Meanwhile, increased demand for ethanol is having a significant impact on the corn market, U.S.-Mexico trade and the Mexican economy. Click below for articles.

Ethanol, corn and Mexico
Corn prices in Mexico
U.S. corn in Mexico
Significance of corn in Mexico

I'm concerned that the effects of these changes on the Mexican economy will continue to force desperate attempts by Mexican citizens to enter the U.S. illegally, increasing tensions between the Mexican and U.S. governments. I hope that our governments will address the problems caused by this change in trade so that the poorest Mexicans do not continue to pay the price.

Burning either an ethanol-gas blend or a biodiesel creates less air pollution per gallon than straight petroleum, however, ethanol combustion generates less energy than gas, so fuel economy is lower.

These emerging fuel technologies have a lot of potential, but the reading I've done so far has not convinced me that either fuel is an ideal answer at this stage in the game. I hope that improved engine technologies can be developed that will more fully take advantage of the positive aspects of biodiesel and ethanol, and that related international trade issues can be resolved.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

new Olympic sport

Should this be a new Olympic sport?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


After seeing cicada emergence holes in my yard for about a week, I finally saw actual cicadas out and about. Saw hundreds on the sidewalks on my way to the train this a.m.

On a different note, a friend in Huntsville, Alabama, often has interesting stories of critter sightings in her yard. Lately she's been seeing wild turkeys walking around. Can't say I've ever seen any wild turkeys here in Chicago.

no news at 99th St.

I thought the reconstruction of the 99th St. Metra station was supposed to be happening by now. No signs of action. Anyone know what's up with that?

variations on a theme

I've noticed two interesting variations on a men's fashion theme lately on and around the train recently.

Last week when I was walking down to 99th St. in the a.m., I noticed an older man wearing a dark gray pinstripe suit with white shirt, fedora and sharply polished shoes, carrying a briefcase. Very old school. Very sharp.

This morning when I was getting off the train at LaSalle St., I noticed a younger black man wearing a dark gray pinstripe suit with white shirt, canvas sneakers for his walk to/from the train, hair done in shoulder-length locs, neatly pulled back. Definitely not old school.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

No Olympic welcome in Polish?

In the city with the biggest Polish population outside of Poland, this is just wrong! Click here for story.

too-happy meal

Hey, dude, maybe a happy meal is not the best place to put your stash.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

farmers markets are back!

Yesterday was the first day of farmers market season in the Loop. It was great to see everyone at Federal Plaza. The neighborhood markets start up soon. The Beverly market starts on 5/19 and will be open Sundays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the 95th St. park and ride lot, 95th & Longwood, until 10/21/07. There's another nearby (Saturdays, same hours) in the church parking lot at 92nd & Ashland. (Note that the city's web site info on 95th & Longwood is incorrect again, as it was last year.)

The agricultural high school (111th just east of Pulaski) operates a farm stand starting 7/19. Click here for more info.

For info on farmers markets throughout the city, click here.

out of the race?

Perhaps that news about Paul Vallas and 3rd Congressional District race was premature. Check out this Chicago Tribune story for more.

fashion misstatement

As seen outside the Merchandise Mart today at lunchtime:

Chunky woman wearing white top with pastel floral print, red capri leggings, and a raggedy-edged denim micro-mini skirt over the leggings, barely long enough to cover her private parts. Yikes! Definitely not a style to be imitated.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007

green choices - no free parking

Slate ran an article recently about why there really is no such thing as "free parking" due to the environmental costs of providing parking.

Seattle is taking that thought a bit further and putting the squeeze on parking spaces to encourage use of public transit and bicycles for commuting instead of driving.

This Chicago Tribune article looks at the issue of parking and congestion across the country.

The increasing social and environmental costs of car traffic and parking have reshaped my thinking on transportation. I lived out of state for 10 years, in an area of low population density and minimal public transit. Although traffic congestion was not a significant problem for me on a daily basis, the lack of transportation options bothered me. I hated having to drive nearly everywhere because there was usually no other way to get there. My last apartment there was on the edge of downtown Concord, NH, with many friends and a good range of Main Street shops and restaurants and two grocery stores within walking distance. I drove for my commute but usually left the car at home after work. I enjoyed being able to walk so many more places. Main Street was a social desination on Saturdays, thanks to the Main Street merchants efforts to create a viable alternative to the mall.

I still missed the cultural amenities of Chicago and finally moved back 10 years ago. I'm using my bike for an increasing portion of my shopping trips to the grocery store, hardware store, garden center, etc., thanks to a cargo trailer from a new local business.

Now that it's an option in many more places, using bicycles in combination with public transit is an increasingly viable option. Using a car share program, such as I-Go or Zipcar, is a better option for those of us who have an occasional need for a car but don't use one on a daily basis.

In another 10 years, I'd like to see a lot more bikes on Chicago streets, and a lot fewer cars. In 20 years, I'd love to see more bikes than cars on our streets. Working for better facilities and programs and better laws is a good way to get there.

pet food recall expanded

The pet food recall list has expanded a few times as news has come out about more pet food products contaminated by melamine-laced wheat gluten, . It's a good idea to check the recall web site from time to time to make sure that your pet's food is not on the list.

If you're interested in alternative pet foods, check out this Seattle article on the subject

planter boxes

Nice to add a bit of color to the front porch, as long as the squirrels don't dig 'em up too much.

Fast Eddie gets nailed

What took 'em so long?

Here's the Trib's story on it and John Kass' take on the news.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

ready for cicadas

First I had to make a little cage around my baby Japanese maple to keep the rabbits from eating it. I had to add some fine tulle mesh (available cheap at any fabric store) to keep the cicadas from getting to it. Ready or not, cicadas are coming soon.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

fits and starts

We keep getting forecasts of rain, but little or nothing is coming down. I've had to do more watering than I'd like in order to get the gardens established this spring. This morning there have been a few false starts, enough to make people break out the umbrellas, then the rain stops.

It didn't stop the little train watchers. Every day I see two little girls come and stand on the west side of Wood St. to watch the 8:25 train come through the 99th Street Metra station. I'd guess they're about 3 and 4, always nicely dressed, usually with their mother. Today it was grandma's turn. They stood in front of the procrastinator's house and watched and waved.

The procrastinator got out the door just after the crossing gates came down at 100th St. Her back door is less than 100 feet from the station platform. I rarely see her go out the door before the bells start ringing at the 100th St. crossing (about 2 minutes before the train actually stops at the station). A few weeks back, she was so late that the train was nearly at 100th St. (less than a block away) when she crossed the tracks. I guess she likes to cut it close.

lilac and iris time

Take a walk, enjoy the colors, inhale lilac breeze....ahhhh....

Sunday, May 6, 2007


Hey, what can I say? Been in the mood for a bit of Huey Lewis lately.

Friday, May 4, 2007

new bike lanes in 2007

The city of Chicago is adding 70 miles of new on-street bikeways this year. These include bike lanes, signed bike routes, and shared lane markings. Click the link above for more details.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Ridge Run

If you're a runner, this might be of interest. The 10K race and 5K run/walk are happening on Memorial Day, Mon. 5/28.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

if this is it

another dose of Huey...