Monday, December 29, 2008

family fun at Blue Moon this week

Monday 12/29 at 11 a.m.: Kwanzaa for kids - lunch & learn, including Kwanzaa craft and candy making. $10 per child includes lunch & craft materials.

Tuesday 12/30 at 11 a.m.-noon: Storytime with Tricia Fitzgerald.

Wednesday 12/31 at 11 a.m.-12:30: Kids' New Year's Eve with Professor Becker & his guitar - New Year's countdown at noon - wrap up the year with songs and noisemakers - $10 per child includes lunch & noisemaker crafts.

Space is limited, so reservations are a good idea. 773-840-3618. Enjoy fun and tasty sweets at Blue Moon, 1742 W. 99th St.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

all mixed up

I wanted to share a thoughtful article from the Times (London) about the difficulties faced by people of mixed race.

A couple of friends face this situation with their son. She is black. Her husband is white. There are other interracial marriages and relationships in their families and circle of friends, so they have support and acceptance. I wonder how many challenges their son will face when he starts school and grows up.

When my mother was growing up in Hyde Park in the 1940s and 1950s, her family became close friends with a black family living around the corner. They were like extended family to each other, and some in each family remain close. I've always thought of them like family. I'd rather judge someone by who they are and how they treat others than by their race or ethnicity. It disappoints me that Chicago has made so little progress in overcoming segregation and discrimination in the last 60 years.

I find that life has more balance and richness in an integrated neighborhood. It was good to see the article in today's Chicago Tribune about an integrated block in Beverly. I hope that Chicago will have many more blocks like it by the time my friends' son is an adult.

here comes the sun

After the hellish weather transitions of the last few days, it's really great to see sun and clean pavement. This Beatles favorite says it well.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

wotta year for weather

Tom Skilling's weather graphics offer a soggy piece of this year's weather picture.

democracy diminished

Democracy has less than its full potential without a truly free press to challenge corruption and thoughtfully present ideas. David Byrne has written an excellent piece on the plight of newspapers and how it affects the bigger picture.

save a vet

This animal-related charity may be unfamiliar, but its beneficiaries deserve our appreciation.

Friday, December 26, 2008

help ease the flood

If you have basic garden tools like a steel-bladed shovel or a hoe, please consider spending some time tonight or tomorrow chopping ice away from the street drain closest to your house. The street flooding we're having now will only get worse with tomorrow's rain unless drains are cleared of ice and snow and water can drain away.

I just came in after spending a while chopping away. If you can't completely clear a drain, even making a path from open water towards the drain and chopping away some of the ice from on top of the drain will help. If all that standing water freezes when it gets cold again, we'll need ice skates to get around.

human slinky

This basketball halftime entertainment is fun and different. If you've got kids in the house, they may enjoy it. Watch to the end.

funky Friday

A different version of Chameleon for your listening pleasure....

Illinois distinction

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

a Malkovich Christmas

A suitably Malkovichy version of "Twas the Night Before Christmas." Cheers!

Zuzu reflects

A few thoughts from the actress who played Zuzu in "It's a Wonderful Life."

holiday sites for the kids

Here's a good selection for the little ones.

jingle jingle

Click here for a clever musical e-card. Wait for PLAY to appear on the screen, then click again. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

snowy owls

Interesting nature article from the Evanston Review.

biking for Obama

A cyclist is riding from L.A. to D.C. for the inauguration, making a statement and hoping to pick up other riders on the way.

Logan Square bike tour 12/27

If you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, you might want to check out this Logan Square bike tour on Saturday at 1 p.m. This series explores neighborhood architecture and the unique character of different Chicago neighborhoods.

New to riding in winter? Check out the Bike Winter web site for a few tips.

reggae Christmas

Christmas a come

a silly holiday gift guide

...courtesy of Dave Barry...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa for cynics

Tim Jackson
Chicago Defender, Madison …
Dec 22, 2008

a Christmas alternative

If you don't celebrate Christmas and you're looking for something fun to do, check out the Bagel Ride. Not sure about riding in winter? Go to the Bike Winter web site for a few tips.

holiday silliness

Leroy the Redneck Reindeer

real winners

Our sheriff had a creative idea to pick up a lot of folks who had warrants for their arrest. Priceless!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

if the shoe fits...

Here's another shoe game.

And just in case you haven't seen it, here's the infamous shoe video that started it all....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

a little bit of Elvis

Blue Christmas

UPS by bike

How cool is this? And here's another article about it with a picture.

a musical journey of sorts

I've been enjoying an internet radio treat this a.m., listening to Blues Before Sunrise on KMHD, a station I discovered on a recent trip to Portland, OR.

Listening to internet radio from different time zones offers the opportunity to hear programs you might not hear at all, or might not catch in their regular time slots in your local area. It also lets you revisit good stations you might discover on vacation. I found this gem on a trip to Key West a few years ago. I found this Danish treasure trove while web surfing a few years ago. The text is all in Danish, but most of the station names are fairly obvious.

The sponsors for this nationally syndicated NPR show were all Chicago-area venues and groups like Mike Finnerty, local jazz sax player, Bill's Blues Bar in Evanston, Jazz Record Mart, Old Town School of Folk Music and others - with our jazz treasure Dick Buckley giving the sponsor info. It's good to hear his voice again. I still miss his show.

Friday, December 19, 2008

new seal of gov. of IL

a rather apt cartoon

King Richie's Bilandic moment?

Lots of folks are questioning the city's decision to privatize parking meters and raise rates. The minimal plowing and salting order for side streets (and less than usual for main streets) is icing on the cake for those who have their doubts. All the snow we're getting tonight makes this a less then cheery image.

Will this be King Richie's Bilandic moment, where he throws himself under the bus? In recent years, there has been no enforcement of the city's ordinance requiring property owners to keep sidewalks clear, so many pedestrians have gotten used to walking on well-cleared streets for safer footing. Now side streets are slick with black ice on most days. This winter, the safest place has been across snowy lawns, until those get glazed over with ice. Many El platforms hasn't been any better, as the CTA also seems to be skimping on snow and ice removal. Yesterday morning I was in downtown Evanston and major streets were glazed with ice - no salt in sight. Metra seems to be the only one doing the responsible, honorable thing and keeping their stations safe.

If you weren't here back in the winter of 1978-79 and you want a little more background, click here and here.

How many people will end up with chronic injuries due to preventable slip and falls or car crashes? You gotta wonder if city and CTA costs of defending and settling lawsuits for injury, wrongful death and property damage will greatly exceed savings on salt, trucks and personnel. And this comes soon after the news about how much the city saved with its long-term contract on road salt. Too bad he's not up for re-election this winter.

And the fun continues....

wotta slime

Nothing this guy says should surprise me anymore. How much of the money that Illinois DOESN'T have will be wasted as Blobhead "fights this to the last breath." Sheesh! I will celebrate on the day he's sent to Club Fed.

telling stories

A few folks have something to say about Jesse Jackson, Jr. John Kass of the Trib has a funnier-than-usual column. The videos linked to this one have some amusing moments. Stick around for the one about the nude Blago painting in the Old Town bar. Second City Cop has some winners as well.

Meanwhile, Tony Rezko's sentencing has been delayed indefinitely. I interpret this to mean that he's singing like a canary.

funky Friday

Two from Steely Dan: Black Cow and Time out of Mind.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

bikey holidays

Here's a creative holiday video from Specialized. Cheers!

snow brrr ride

Last night I got out for a nice bike ride. Didn't care that it was 10F. The street conditions were okay, so I bundled up to go out. It was a beautiful, still night. Managed to see a few stars and planets in spite of the street lights. Traffic was light. If I had truly arctic gear that I could ride in, perhaps more than 6 miles might be comfortable in that temperature. I didn't see any other bikes out and about. Happy Bike Winter!

an Illinois Christmas carol

I got this via e-mail. Wish I knew who wrote it.

This is to the tune of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."

Wake up, old Rod Blagojevich, the Feds just rang your bell.
Just step outside ... and take a ride ... no time for extra gel.
They heard the tape ... there's no mistake ...
This state's half-way to Hell.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, save Illinois! Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

How could you, Rod Blagojevich, this really has me beat.
It wasn't nice ... to put a price .... on that there Senate seat
The way you threatened Wrigley Field
How can the Cubs compete?
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, save Illinois! Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

Get real there, Rod Blagojevich, you're much too smart a man
Remember what this state has done to Otto, George and Dan.
If Durbin doesn't write a note
You'll join them in the can.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, save Illinois! Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blago blurbs

Has anyone made up spoof lyrics along the lines of "Blago roasting on an open fire"? If so, please share in comments.

Here's some commentary with just a bit of cynicism.

Lisa Madigan's attempt to have Blago removed due to "disability" has been rejected by the Supreme Court. That was a long shot at best, so I found it disappointing but not surprising. And Blago's lawyer strikes back.

Meanwhile, the plop thickens. And here's an interesting footnote to the story.

This old Richard J. Daley makes another interesting footnote: "Power is dangerous unless you have humility."

Stay tuned for more....

well said

Here's an excellent analysis of our current economic crisis by a fine local blogger.

needs to get a clue

Has this guy ever heard of personal responsibility?

aren't his 15 minutes up already?

Why are we still hearing about Drew Peterson, unless enough evidence has been found to arrest him for Stacy’s murder? Is anyone still interested in this loser? I certainly don’t care about any aspect of his personal life. Yuck!

family fun tonight at Blue Moon

Blue Moon is hosting a Family Gingerbread House Workshop tomorrow night at 6PM in conjunction with Cakewalk Chicago - $65 per family - limit 6 individuals. One family member MUST be over 21. Includes ALL materials to create your own gingerbread house! EXPERT INSTRUCTION from professional pastry chef Lori Parret-Rice. Hot chocolate, too!

one step closer

Sounds like we're getting closer to seeing a resolution to the roadblocks that have been holding up the EJ&E/CN deal. The sooner the better.... This would benefit a LOT of Chicago area communities.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

when green is not so green

Using more glass to let in more light has become a popular design feature in green buildings. However, it can have some unintended consequences.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008


A Saturday Night Live Weekend Update take on this week's Blago news.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

music at Blue Moon tonight

Barrelhouse Bonni is playing at Blue Moon tonight, 7:30 to 10.

more on the big rat

The Economist weighs in from the UK. The Reader gives it a local spin.

Blago appeals to a higher power. Meanwhile, I smell a rat.

And then we address the question, does power really change a person, or does it reveal their true nature?

Stay tuned for more....

Friday, December 12, 2008

kinda nutty

This is the sort of animal story that would do Unca Lar proud.

Bike Winter

Do you want to get out for some fun winter bike rides? Check out the Bike Winter calendar. There are LOTS of events happening in the next month.

it's beginning to smell...

Higgins has a great cartoon commentary in today's Sun-Times.

funky Friday

Here's an oldie from Herbie Hancock: Chameleon. Happy Friday!

a Letterman top 10

More political fun at Blago's expense: David Letterman's top 10 list of messages left on Rod Blagojevich's answering machine. TGIF!!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

the circus continues

The Trib invites you to name that scandal.

Even Dan Walker weighs in.

Meanwhile, the idea of clemency for Ryan takes a back seat.

Rumors have Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn choosing Atty. General Lisa Madigan, who is considered bulletproof, to fill Obama's Senate seat, if Quinn moves up to Blago's spot. This would be a primo bit of political chess, as Madigan is already thinking of running for governor in the next election, and Quinn would want to stick around.

and there's more...

This morning's news included the revelation that Blobhead was trying to land a BIG contribution from a pavement contractor before a new ethics law takes effect on 1/1 specifically aimed at preventing the type of pay-to-play tactics he's so fond of.

write your own caption

The Sun-Times invites you to write your own caption for this choice photo.

a bit of popular humor

This bit of humor has been making the rounds via e-mail. I don't know originated it. Thank you to the anonymous author. Enjoy!

The George W. Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages and accepting donations.
The Library will include:
1. The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.
2. The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won't be able to remember anything.
3. The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.
4. The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.
5. The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.
6. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.
7. The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling.
8. The Tax Cut Room, with entry only to the wealthy.
9. The Economy Room, which is in the toilet.
10. The Iraq War Room. (After you complete your 1st visit, they make you go back for a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and sometimes 5th visit.)
11. The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shooting gallery.
12. The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.
13. The Supreme Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.
14. The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
15. The Decider Room, complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.
Note: The library will feature an electron microscope to help you locate and view the President's accomplishments.

The library will also include many famous Quotes by George W. Bush:

1. 'The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.'
2. 'If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.'
3. 'Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.'
4. 'No senior citizen should ever have to choose between prescription drugs and medicine.'
5. 'I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change.'
6. 'One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.'
7. 'Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.'
8. 'I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.'
9. 'The future will be better tomorrow.'
10. 'We're going to have the best educated American people in the world.'
11. 'One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.' (during an education photo-op)
12. 'Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it.'
13. 'We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.'
14. 'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'
15. 'I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.' - Geoge W. Bush to Sam Donaldson

In the words of another humor item I saw recently: "1/20/09: the end of an error."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

political theater

For those of you reading from outside the Chicago area or Illinois, our governor has earned a generous measure of contempt for repeatedly putting his gigantic ego above his responsibilities to the citizens of Illinois, in lengthy battles over the state budget and other matters of significant impact. Hearing that he had finally been arrested was a fine early Christmas gift.

This Blago story has given us a wealth of entertainment, especially for those who prefer humor in a more cynical vein. We have stories from John Kass, Serbia, Carol Marin, and Blago's neighbors, speculation about Dick Mell, Patti's role, commentary on the criminal complaint, all 50 Senate Democrats weighing in, thoughts on Patti's sister's political career, and more.... If you are not easily offended, here's more from Second City Cop, where some of the comments are really choice.

One of the best is these clips from TV talk shows. The first video montage is the best of the three.

For those of you who are saying "wait a minute, what did I miss?" here's a story about the arrest that spawned all the articles yesterday and today, and the criminal complaint itself.

This 1978 Studs Terkel quote puts it into perspective: "Chicago is not the most corrupt American city. It's the most theatrically corrupt."


This one goes out to Rod Blagojevich. Hope it's his last birthday as a free man.

Prop. 8 the musical

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

protect yourself

Recently I heard about a west loop attack that made me think about my experiences with self defense. A young man and woman were walking on a west loop street in early evening. A man approached and started assaulting them. The male victim covered on the ground. His female companion struck the assailant in several vulnerable spots, inflicting enough pain to drop him to the ground, enabling her and her friend to escape. I've seen plenty of examples to prove that you don't have to be big or heavily muscled to effectively defend yourself.

On Wed. 1/7 at 6:30 PM, there will be a free Women's Self-Defense Class at the Lincoln Park REI store. It will taught by instructors from Thousand Waves Martial Arts & Self-Defense Center, a Chicago non-profit organization. Participants will learn how to accurately assess areas of danger in their lives and increase their awareness, self-confidence, and safety. The class includes mental strategies to help you think clearly under stress; assertive communication skills to help you set a limit or de-escalate a tense situation; and positioning strategies to limit your engagement and reduce vulnerability. They also teach simple and effective strikes and kicks to stun an assailant if avoidance is impossible. Space is limited! Email Claire at by Jan.2 to reserve your spot.

If you've never taken a self defense class, or it's been a while and you'd like a refresher, you may want to check this out. If you could use a self defense class but can't make this one, perhaps taking a class at Thousand Waves or Power for Women might be an option. The mental strategies taught in such a class are every bit as useful as the physical ones.

protest tomorrow at B of A

FYI - There is a protest planned for tomorrow at noon regarding the Republic Windows fiasco and consequences of the bank bailout. Click here for more details.

a Zell of a deal

Roger Ebert wrote a rather apt piece on the mess Sam Zell has made of the Tribune. I'd love to see the Trib sold to someone who actually wants to run a newspaper and can rebuild it from the shattered mess it has become.

** breaking news **

I just heard on the radio that Gov. Blobhead was taken into federal custody this a.m., retrieved from his home. Will an indictment and a resignation be forthcoming soon? That would be a Christmas gift, seeing the Grinch get his comeuppance. Perhaps we'll get a chance to see what Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn can do. Unlike the Blobster, he seems to have an actual clue.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

snow ride

I went out for a short snow ride this morning. The mountain bike handled just fine on the snowy streets. Of course, I was using techniques I've used in previous winters of snow riding: going slow, taking turns wide, braking slowly, and doing more to be visible to drivers, who usually aren't looking out for bikes in this weather. It was a pleasant ride.

Between 95th & 99th, I didn't see much clean pavement except on Leavitt (haven't been down to Longwood yet). North of 95th, a bunch of streets were cleared, and the plows were still making the rounds. Of course Ginger Rugai can have clear streets up by her house, but the rest of us can just slide around. This may be a loooong winter.

I feel like I'm in college again

I was listening to the Drive at work yesterday. Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" came on. We have a college student as a part-time employee. She asked "Who does that song?" I said "Journey" and asked if she knew any of their music. She said she'd only heard this song in drunken late night karaoke sessions and was curious when she heard it on the radio. I remember listening to this one when I was in college.

This made me think of the story of how Journey recently found a new lead singer, Arnel Pineda, something that couldn't have happened back in the 80s. Here's his version of "Don't Stop Believing." Steve Perry, eat your heart out.

another musical thought

Here's one to add a little heat to the day. Here's a very different and equally cool version of the same tune. On a related note, I'm looking forward to seeing Porgy and Bess at Lyric Opera soon.

Friday, December 5, 2008

welcome to Chicago

This a.m. I was in line at the post office. I overheard a guy at another window who was not having a good day, a Brit who had lived a short while in NYC and recently moved here. Apparently his mail forwarding was all screwed up, and very little mail was actually reaching him. The postal employee wasn't terribly helpful.

Reminds me of what I went through last time I moved. I ended up being very grateful that most of my mail was going directly to my new address and NOT being forwarded because I sent out notices to EVERYONE that I was moving. Most people actually recorded my new address and used it next time they sent something, so very few pieces had to be forwarded. Unfortunately, only 2 of them actually reached me. The rest disappeared into the USPS black hole or were returned to sender, even though I had a forwarding order on file with the post office before I moved.

I wonder if the Brit at the post office will get his forwarding problem resolved before his 1-year forwarding order expires. Seems unlikely.

Captain Chicago, episode 1

a bit of local humor and Chicago triviaChi

the Matrix on Windows

If you have a moderate amount of computer knowledge and are familiar with The Matrix, you'll find this one amusing. Clippy and the blue screen of death await....this is the Matrix on Windows.

on ice

I was amazed to read the news about O.J. Simpson's stiff jail sentence. As a co-worker put it, the Juice got squeezed.

not-so-funky Friday

The cast of Scrubs does "A Charlie Brown Christmas" - had to bring this fine bit of silliness back for the season. Cheers!

downsizing, Detroit style

I don't always find Steve Dahl funny, but this is both timely and clever.

a musical thought

Stepping outside to grab the paper from the front steps inspired a musical thought. I saw a fine version of this tune performed by Beverly All-Stars and musical guests recently.

BTW, am I the only one who's noticed that they deliver newspaper a lot later on the south side than the north side? It's not just in this neighborhood.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Historic Pullman candlelight house walk

On Sunday 12/7, the Historic Pullman Foundation will be having its 14th holiday candlelight house walk from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Tour select Pullman homes decorated for the holidays, followed by holiday buffet and silent auction at the Visitor Center, 11141 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Tickets are $40 per person. (TODAY) is the last day to call 773.785.8901 for reservations (required).

silver lining

I've noticed one silver lining in the clouds of this economic downturn: Sam Zell's plans to butcher the elegant Art Deco Daily News building and plaza are put on hold.

Shrub's parting shots at the environment

I hope that Barack Obama will take swift action to undo Shrub's last crimes against the environment. He's just approved the end of one minimal restriction on mountaintop removal coal mining referenced in the article, so that mining companies are no longer required to maintain a 100 foot buffer zone between mining areas and streams. Shrub's administration has so blatantly disregarded any concern for the environment that it could take years to undo those portions of the damage that can be undone.

life on the river

It's a pleasant change of pace to see positive stories like this one in the news.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sears saves the day

My morning got off to an annoying start. My alarm went off at the usual time. I reached out to turn it off. Pushed the snooze button. It kept beeping. Switched the alarm switch to OFF. Still beeping. Tried switching alarm switch on and off a few times and pushing snooze again. Still beeping. I had to turn on the light and try to pull the plug. *($%!! plug was all the way across the bed, below the head of my still-snoozing significant other. I had to wake him up, get him to move the bed away from the wall, then pull the plug. The alarm was finally silenced.

I left earlier than usual for work, with the goal of finding a replacement for my old, fried clock radio. Stopped at the old reliable electronics store around the corner from my office. Several clock radio models on display, but only one model in stock: a tiny travel alarm. One of my cats likes to turn small easily flung objects into projectiles. This travel alarm was the perfect size to become a cat hockey puck and be turned into a defunct piece of junk in short order. Next stop: the drug store on the corner. No luck.

At lunchtime, I took a walk to Sears on State St. and found a great solution to my problem - a product with some cool features. I don't usually plug products, but thought this might be useful for some of you. BTW, I've often thought this store is rather underappreciated.

thoughts about getting around in Chicago

Ch. 5 (NBC) has an online poll asking how you get around. And another feature asks the question: does Mayor Daley hate cars?

Feel free to leave a comment here offering your $0.02 on these topics.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

an inside perspective

Derrick Jackson of the Boston Globe discusses Valerie Jarrett's perspective on Barack Obama.

I feel strongly that pragmatic hope is what we need. Unrealistic promises will not do our country or others any favors.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Yet another news story that leaves me speechless. Were the people who committed this horrible act as callous as this? Will any of these people have a conscience and turn themselves in?

I am thoroughly disgusted

Senator Dick Durbin has done some positive things during his time in Washington. This is not one of them. While Ryan has certainly paid a price for his trial and conviction, it pales in comparison to the suffering caused by his corruption. I can feel some sympathy for Ryan's wife. However, no matter what lame half-assed apologies Ryan may grudgingly offer, it doesn't bring back the lives that were snuffed out by drivers who should never have been licensed. He has earned his punishment. He should serve his sentence.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

if you build it, they will come

Bike lanes, that is.... It's time for a more comprehensive network of bike lanes and routes on the south side. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them in comments.

equal but not equal

Sorry for the delay in posting this. If you don't get "Candorville" in your newspaper, this series is worth a look. Some vote for a candidate who represents equality, but others see that equality as selective. And not all religions need apply. Ah, the irony.

Friday, November 28, 2008

funky Friday

Here's a Little Feat two-fer: Rock and Roll Doctor and Fat Man in the Bathtub, a real blast from the past.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

holiday treats

Christkindlmarket opens at Daley Plaza this weekend.

holiday market this weekend

Businesses on 99th St. and 103rd St. near the Metra stations will be having a holiday open house this weekend. On Friday 11/28 it's happening 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., with a Christmas tree lighting at 103rd & Walden at 7:15 p.m. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

a holiday break

The Beverly All Stars are NOT at World Music Company tonight or next Wednesday night, but they'll be back after that.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

best sky show of the year

Have you seen the two brilliant planets in the West on recent early evenings? They're getting brighter each day. The moon will join them for "The Best Sky Show of the Year" on December 1st -- and it's FREE, right outside your back door! You gotta go out and take a look...

something fun to do with the kid this weekend

This Saturday 11/29, there's a double treat for the kids on 99th Street. Blue Moon is having a pancake breakfast with Santa from 8 am - Noon and Cakewalk Chicago is having candy making from 9 am - 1 pm. Have a sweet good time!

Monday, November 24, 2008

how refreshing see a corporate recipient of bailout $$$$ NOT behaving like AIG.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the wild wordsmith of Wasilla

Have a laugh or two here. Sarah Palin humor isn't quite dead yet.

Friday, November 21, 2008

funky Friday

It's an 80s musical time trip: Devo's Through Being Cool, the B-52s' Rock Lobster, and Romeo Void's Never Say Never.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

hanging out at Blue Moon

Want to see what's happening at Blue Moon? Click here. C'mon down to 99th Street and visit. Taste the exquisite pastries and delicious drinks. Hang out and read. Bring your kids to enjoy the play area. There's something for everyone.

Foreign language night was a lot of fun 2 weeks ago. We had two lively tables going, one in Spanish and another in Italian. In some weeks, we've also seen French and German speakers. I would have been there last week, but I was in NYC.

Whether you're just learning a language, brushing up after years out of practice or a native speaker looking for someone who speaks your language, come by tonight, enjoy a hot or cold drink, and meet some new friends.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Special Consensus Bluegrass at World Music Co. on 11/22

We have a special treat at World Music Company this Saturday 11/22: a show by Special Consensus Bluegrass band right here in the neighborhood. Click here for more info.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

bicycling into winter

Riding in winter can be a lot of fun if you're comfortably dressed for it. Sunday's Trib had a nice feature with tips for winter cycling. Go to the Bike Winter web site for more tips and activities.

Monday, November 17, 2008

expanding a mission

The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation has announced its new name: Active Transportation Alliance. A while ago, the organization's mission was expanded beyond bicycle advocacy to include pedestrian and transit advocacy, encompassing a full range of sustainable transportation alternatives.

I think this is a natural progression, promoting improved options for doing more without cars and living healthier lives. If you're not familiar with the organization, check out the web site and try some of our events, including Bike the Drive. You may find some better ways to get around the city and meet some new friends.

a different perspective on the auto industry

Neil Young speaks his mind and makes some good points - never one to be a sheep. Your $0.02?

discount for cyclists

If you ride your bike to eat out, show your helmet to get a discount here on weekdays. And if you join Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, you can get member discounts in all these places.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

why can't we be friends

a political parody video - someone obviously had a LOT of fun with Photoshop.

Friday, November 14, 2008

funky Friday

Here's a different Little Feat two-fer: Rocket in my Pocket and Robert Palmer singing Sneakin' Sally through the Alley, backed by Little Feat.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

let's help World Music Company

World Music Company brings us some fine musical events and offers opportunities for music lessons right in the neighborhood. Times are hard, and it's having an effect on them. Let's help them get through these difficult times.

Monday, November 10, 2008

working for better transportation

California just voted to take a big step forward towards more sustainable transportation. High speed rail makes a lot more sense than flying for medium-distance trips such as LA to SF. It does not require enormous pieces of land to deliver good service to a increasing numbers of passengers, unlike an airport. It generates less air and noise pollution. Most train trips go from downtown to downtown, eliminating long expensive cab rides into town from distance airports. For shorter trips, a train full of passengers replaces hundreds of cars on highways and local roads, reducing congestion and air pollution.

Europe and Asia have been enjoying these advantages for years. Why should they have all the fun? Amtrak's Acela service in the Northeast offers an example of American success in high speed rail.

I hope that California's progress will inspire similar progress here. It's time for high speed rail in the Midwest. Can you imagine how many cars could be off our highways if we had high speed service from Chicago to Milwaukee, Springfield, and St. Louis?

It's a good reason to write to your elected representatives, as my friend Lisa discusses on her new blog. Building a third Chicago airport in Peotone is so 1980s. It's time to bring American transportation into the 21st century.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

RTA public hearings 11/10-11/19

The RTA is holding a second round of public hearings concerning the transit system’s budget for 2009 and address long-awaited capital investment needs.

North: Monday 11/17 6:00 p.m. at Truman College (Rm 1176/Faculty Dining Room), 1145 W. Wilson Ave, Chicago

South: Tuesday 11/18 6:00 p.m. at Carter G. Woodson Public Library (Auditorium), 9525 S. Halsted, Chicago

Southwest: Tuesday 11/18 6:00 p.m. at National Museum of Mexican Art (2nd Fl. Board Room), 1852 W. 19th St, Chicago

West: Wednesday 11/19 6:00 p.m. at Malcolm X College (2nd floor - room 2418), 1900 W. Van Buren, Chicago

North: Thursday 11/13 6:00 p.m. at Pace Headquarters (Board Room), 550 W. Algonquin Rd., Arlington Heights

West: Thursday 11/13 6:00 p.m. at Hillside Village Hall (Board/Court Room), 425 Hillside Ave., Hillside

South: Monday 11/17 6:00 p.m., South Suburban Mayors & Managers (Mtg. Rm. C), 1904 W. 174th St., East Hazel Crest

McHENRY COUNTY: Monday 11/10 6:00 p.m. at Woodstock Admin. Bldg. (2nd Fl Conf. Rm.), 667 Ware Rd., Woodstock

LAKE COUNTY: Wednesday 11/12 6:00 p.m. at University Ctr. of Lake Cnty (2nd Fl - Room 212), 1200 University Ctr Dr., Grayslake (Enter at Main Entrance off Washington St. at Lancer Lane)

WILL COUNTY: Monday 11/17 6:00 p.m. at Joliet Historical Museum (Caterpillar Auditorium), 204 N. Ottawa St., Joliet

KANE COUNTY: Tuesday 11/18 6:00 p.m. at The Centre of Elgin (Heritage Ballroom), 100 Symphony Way, Elgin

DuPAGE COUNTY: Wednesday 11/19 6:00 p.m. at DuPage Co. Building (Auditorium), 421 N. County Farm Rd., Wheaton

Meetings are open to the general public and are ADA accessible. If you require a reasonable accommodation in order to attend a meeting or have questions, please call 312-913-3153 (TTY 312-913-3111) at least 2 business days before the meeting. For more info, click here.

making things last longer

A San Francisco Chronicle article offers helpful hints on making clothing and other items last a bit longer.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

a new blog

A friend has started a new blog this week. Her goal: a letter a day to public officials with the goal of motivating positive change. It's a worthy goal, indeed, and she has some good ideas. Check it out, and write some letters of your own if you have ideas to share with our elected officials.

Another friend raised a point regarding Barack Obama. As much as it does not thrill us, Shrub is still president until 1/20/09. Barack Obama needs time to assemble his cabinet and prepare to take on the enormous responsibility of his new job. He may be gathering ideas now, but he won't be acting on them just yet.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

editorial cartoon

A constitutional thought: all men are created equal


There's a lot of celebrating going on around the world in the wake of Tuesday night's news, by Kenyans and Indonesians, and elsewhere and on lots of newspaper front pages.

And even though it's gotten to be a bit of a cliche, Kool and the Gang's Celebration seems most appropriate right now.

historical perspective

Click for a historical perspective on Barack Obama's achievement, courtesy of the BBC.

blue Hampshire

New Hampshire sure has changed a bit since I lived there. How ironic that the border area closest to Taxachusetts is now one of the most conservative areas of the state. Much of that area went for McCain.

Here's a map and some figures to give a little more detail.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

it's a beautiful day

The reality of last night's election results is starting to sink in. I look forward to the conversations I will have with so many others who have hoped for this day. Yesterday I heard many people say that they'd just voted for the first time because they finally felt like they could make a difference.

If you didn't see Barack Obama's speech last night, click here to watch. McCain's gracious concession speech is here. Both are worth watching.

And here's a musical thought to wrap it up.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

beyond words

I'm sure that Barack Obama's grandmother must be watching with pride and joy at tonight's news. I don't have words to express my own joy at the knowledge that we did it, that Barack Obama will be our next president.

John McCain's concession speech has been a class act. I hope that he will follow it with actions to help our country recover from the current crises.

get out and vote!

If you didn't vote early, today's it, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Not sure what you need to bring? Click here. If you're in Chicago and you see anything odd in how your polling place is being run, call the board of elections: 312-269-7900.

I arrived at my polling place at 6:11 and waited 20 minutes in line. I was #38 for the precinct today, and they said that 1/3 of the precinct had already voted early.

Monday, November 3, 2008

this week at Jazz Showcase

Mon 11/3 Big Band night
11/4 CLOSED on election day
11/5 Willie Pickens Trio
11/6-11/9 Cedar Walton Quintet
Need more info? Click here.

the stage is set

Crews have been working for the last several days putting up the stage, lighting, bleachers, fencing, temporary cell sites, etc., getting all in order for tomorrow night's Obama rally in Grant Park. I'm on the wait list for a ticket, but I doubt that I'll get one. Going south on Lake Shore Drive the other day, I was struck by how photogenic the setting is, with the Field Museum in the background behind the stage. This will be an event to remember.

agree to disagree

I've had political conversations recently with a few out-of-state friends who are on the other side of the fence. One said that Obama is "too mysterious" and possibly a "Muslim threat," that Michelle is a trophy wife (and that Cindy McCain isn't), that the way Shrub has run our country into the ground and made it an international joke is okay, and that McCain represents a "stable, sensible choice." Another quoted Bible verses about prophecies.

We may agree on other issues, but on politics we should simply agree to politely disagree. If we are this far apart on political candidates, nothing either of us says is likely to convert the other.

election info: judges

If you've wondered where you could find info on judges for the election, visit the Illinois State Bar Association's web site to view their ratings on judicial candidates.

increased transit service on election day

Our local transit agencies will be increasing the level of service tomorrow for election day. Metra's information on extra runs is here. Their extra runs are mostly to get folks home at the end of the workday to vote. The web site says that they will add some extra late night runs between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. but does not list specific details.

still on the fence?

Have you tried the Obama tax calculator to see how his tax plan would affect you? Click here to check it out.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

the whole world is watching

On the eve of the election, I wonder how much America considers the intense interest of the rest of the world in the results. Our relationship to the rest of the world in the coming months will be critical to the job market, the economy overall, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The question is whether our choice will help to repair the years of damage from Shrub's "shoot first, ask questions later" non-diplomacy or increase it.

I strongly believe that Barack Obama represents our best chance to get our country back on the road to the healthy international relationships that can help to pull us out of the current economic tailspin.

The whole world is watching. And they definitely have opinions.

Here at home, we all wait to see how the big night will unfold in Grant Park and downtown. I hope that it is nothing like 1968.

crank calling goes international

A post-Halloween prank. Priceless.

Friday, October 31, 2008

still listening

I was saddened but not surprised by the news of Studs Terkel's passing today after 96 years of a life well lived. Roger Ebert and Rick Kogan each wrote moving pieces about Studs, who has been the heart and soul of Chicago since before I was born. He had such a rare gift for listening well and capturing the spirit of what he heard in his words and sharing it with his readers through so many books and vivid characters. I can picture him still listening out there somewhere, writing yet another book.

pass it on

For all the times you've been frustrated after getting yet another chain e-mail (or six), this one's for you.

Halloween silliness

Click here for a silly Halloween greeting.

funky Friday

A three-fer: Superstition by Stevie Wonder, Edgar Winter's Frankenstein, and P-Funk's Dr. Funkenstein. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

more politically inspired silliness

Ah, someone had a lot of fun with Sarah Palin video clips and an old Devo tune. And if this gave you a nostalgic craving for the original, here's Devo in all their geekiness.

slow down and enjoy

How fast you eat can affect how much you gain. A related article discusses metabolism and appetite.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

looking back, looking forward

Right now I'm watching Judy Baar Topinka on Chicago Tonight. In most elections, I'm more likely to vote Democrat than Republican, but my underlying choice is dictated by who I think is the best candidate for each position. I firmly believed back in 2006 that Topinka was the best candidate for governor, and I voted for her. I have to wonder how things would have played out between then and now if she had been elected instead of the clueless Blobhead. *sigh* I lost count long ago of the number of serious errors he's made, including this winner.

If the Rezko trial can take him down, I think we'd all be better off. All we need to make this picture complete and satisfying is saying Blobhead hauled off to the slammer as Patti says "let them eat cake."


A perspective from the north on Sarah Palin.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

not in your IN box

Here's an amusing spoof on some familiar spam. Enjoy!

waste to profit

On Chicago Tonight, they had a feature about a cool recycling program that was unfamiliar to me: the Waste to Profit Network. The program matches up businesses with waste they can't use with other businesses that can recycle that waste in some way.

Monday, October 27, 2008

striped visitor

Last night I went out to one last harvest of catnip from the veggie garden. I'd already taken the last of the basil and tomatoes. When I got close to the garden bed and the sensor light came on, there was a rustling in the leaves at the other end of the garden. A big orange-striped cat leaped out of the catnip and ran out of the yard. I guess somebody else wanted one more visit, too.

on the lighter side

Click here to check out photos of creative pumpkin carvings.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Alaska's largest newspaper endorses Obama

I was just reading a wire story about the Anchorage Daily News endorsement of Barack Obama. It's a well-reasoned editorial piece, worth a few minutes of your time.


Listening to Chicago radio stations, lately I've been hearing lots of radio ads that begin "here in Indiana." The first one made me do a double take. Most of the ads we hear are aimed at Chicago and nearby suburbs. It's a consequence of living in a metro area that spills across multiple states.

For those of you reading this outside the Chicago area, we do have a lot of folks from northwest Indiana who work in Chicago and many more who listen to Chicago radio and watch Chicago TV stations.

The Obama and McCain political ads aimed at Indiana are here in abundance, because so many people in/from northwest Indiana listen to Chicago radio stations and/or work in the city. I haven't been watching much TV lately, but I'd imagine it's a similar picture there.

Added note 10/26: Today's new ad was a well done radio spot by John Mellencamp saying that a vote for McCain is a vote for 4 more years of tax credits to the corporations that keep sending jobs overseas and closing down American factories.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Opie, Andy and the Fonz endorse Barack Obama

This one is fun.

bike repair workshop 10/29

A clinic to teach basic road repair skills to help cyclists be self sufficient will be held on October 29 at 7 PM in the REI community room at 1466 N. Halsted. In case you haven't been there, this is the new REI store that just opened - close to the North/Clybourn red line stop.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sunday Parkways on 10/26

Are you going to check out Sunday Parkways this Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.? No? If you don't know what it is, or you want more info, click here. Some local streets will be closed to motor vehicle traffic to promote walking, bicycling and other non-motorized recreation, and neighborhood interaction. There will be activities and entertainment along the route.

Lots of folks came out to enjoy the 10/5 Sunday Parkways event. Will you be part of the next one?

funky Friday

Watch Dee Alexander perform, and then see a Trib feature about her. She'll be back at Jazz Showcase next Tuesday night.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

foreign language roundtable

Tonight at Blue Moon: a foreign language roundtable at 7 p.m. on Thursdays. If you're interested, come on down and check it out!


one of my favorite photo blogs

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

happenings at Blue Moon

Do you know about the different 7 p.m. evening offerings at Blue Moon?
1st Wednesday of the month - Reading on Walden's political discussion group.
other Wednesdays - knitting nights with My Sister's Knits.
Thursdays - foreign language roundtables - brush up on your language skills!
Fridays and Saturdays - live music.

It's one of the cool places to be in the neighborhood.

planting a tree

On Saturday, I got to be part of a special event: planting a tree in a city park.

Bringing the tree to its new home

Measuring the root ball so we could dig the right size hole

Moving the tree into the hole

The root ball is unwrapped. Sorry I don't have shots of filling the hole, but I had a shovel in my hand.

Putting mulch in place

Water is soaking in

The Treekeepers class has been a great learning experience. I'm looking forward to going to volunteer workdays starting next month. This class is almost over, but the next series will be in the spring at Warren Park.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

interesting turn of events

Seeing the Sun-Times endorse Barack Obama wasn't a surprise. The Trib's endorsement wasn't surprising in light of their editorials on Obama in the last several months, although it is a bit of a change from their historical penchant for Republicans. The comments on the Trib endorsement are quite entertaining. Now Colin Powell is on board. Here's Powell's interview on Meet the Press where he discusses his reasoning in detail. It's long but worth watching to the end.

As a nation, are we ready for a return to civility, respect, diplomacy, and thoughfulness? I hope so.

weekend update with Sarah Palin

more Saturday Live fun, this time with the real Sarah Palin...

soon in their backyard?

On Block Island, RI, lots of folks welcome the idea of a wind farm.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

a few laughs with Barack

He's got a lot of great lines in this speech.

Root for Chicago

Every so often American Express does a cool promotion to benefit some type of program in local areas. A while back it was historic preservation. Now thru 10/31, it's Root for Chicago to win money for local tree planting, which would be done through Openlands. I'd like to see Chicago win it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Playback at Blue Moon

Playback, the acoustic trio, is back at Blue Moon this Saturday night 10/18.

lots of laughs

Lots of fun with Photoshop here: movie poster spoofs featuring our presidential and VP candidates. Enjoy!

a musical vacation

I had an exceptional treat last night - seeing the Danilo Perez Trio at Jazz Showcase. If you've never experienced the music of Danilo Perez, it's sophisticated jazz with classical bones - at times lyrical, often intensely rhythmic, heavily syncopated, with complex interaction between the players. When you hear a familiar tune, such as the Beatles' Yesterday or a jazz standard, it is creatively and refreshingly interpreted. Listening to them was like mentally traveling to many destinations in the space of a few hours, escaping from the mundane.

If you want to see three first-rate performers at the top of their game giving an extraordinary performance, GO! If you haven't been to Jazz Showcase in their new space, GO! The Danilo Perez Trio is in town thru Sunday 10/19.

funky Friday

Two from Steely Dan: Josie and Kid Charlemagne

talking and saying nothing

Two clips of Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric: on Supreme Court decisions and on staying informed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

more political humor

yes, it's a theme for the week: more Sarah Palin humor


In an e-mail exchange with a friend in New Hampshire, he was talking about a conversation with a co-worker who is a fervent McCain supporter. He was amazed at some of his co-worker's views. As he put it, "working people supporting McCain is like chickens supporting Col. Sanders." Couldn't have said it better, my friend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

theatre in the neighborhood

Are you looking for a theatre event here in the neighborhood? Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel is playing at Morgan Park Academy Arts Center, 2153 W. 111th St., from Friday 10/17 to Sunday 10/26. Fridays and Saturdays - 8 p.m. Sundays - 2 p.m.

how green is your bathroom?

Take this Sierra Club quiz on household cleaning chemicals, water use, and other bathroom items.

I confess that I've tried a few low flow showerheads that were pretty lame. When I find one that actually works well, I'll install one. If you've found a good one, one that actually rinses off the shampoo without having to stand their for 10 minutes, please feel free to share that info in comments.

the same all over

Rudeness on public transit is not unique to the CTA. Here's a Boston perspective. All the issues sound all too familiar.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Palin as president

a fine bit of political humor - mouse over different areas of the image for more fun, some are just mouse-over, and a few are clickable.

a rolling memorial

If you've never heard of the Dick Herron Memorial Bike and Walk event, click here and here for info. It's happening on Sunday 10/19.

Monday, October 13, 2008

new wheels

It was great to read this article about Working Bikes Cooperative doing a bike give-away for the homeless. It's a fine way to offer sustainable transportation to folks who really need it.

sign of the times


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

negative 2008

another Mark Fiore classic...

cool Friday night

If you've never checked out East Pilsen on the 2nd Friday of the month, you might want to go there and browse the art openings tomorrow night. Under the Wire gallery will have a provocative video installation in addition to the work we regularly see there. Photographer Archie FlorCruz will have work on display at 818 W. 18th St. (Mode Realty). For more info on what's happening tomorrow night, click here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

an opinion on the debate from across the pond

I find it refreshing to step back and get an international perspective on our national events. Here's one from the BBC. How did you think that Obama and McCain did in the debate?

opposites attract?

Pullman house tour 10/11-12

Have you been hearing about the Pullman house tour for years and never gotten there? It's happening this weekend, Saturday 10/11 and Sunday 10/12.

Winter cycling free workshop on Sunday 10/12

Are you interested in trying year-round bicycle riding but aren't sure how to make it feasible for you? Check out Stay the Course: Winter Cycling Tips and Tricks, a free workshop to promote biking as year-round transportation in Chicago, happening this Sunday, 10/12 at 11 a.m. at Logan Square Farmers Market Grassy Knoll, Southeast corner of Logan Blvd. & Milwaukee Ave.

Workshop topics will include: winter biking attire with the ever-popular "get layered" demo; riding safely though wind, snow, and ice; gear and maintenance tips; and a visit from jolly old St. Nick! Free door prizes will feature cycling accessories that will help make all- season cycling a breeze.

This workshop is part of Chicago Bike Winter, a series of educational, social, and activist events encouraging all-season cycling since 1999. For more information, visit or call 773.252-4657.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tuesday 10/7 is the last day for voter registration in Illinois

...if you want to vote at your regular polling place in the November election. You can register at the following locations downtown:

Chicago Board of Elections, 69 W. Washington, Suite 600, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Chicago City Hall Lobby, 121 N. LaSalle, 8 a.m. - 12 Midnight

Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.

I believe that Alderman Rugai's office is also a registration location. You can also register at public libraries.

You will need to show 2 forms of identification, including one showing your current address (such as current utility bill, bank statement, or paycheck).

You can register at Chicago Board of Elections, 69 W. Washington, Suite 600, thru 10/21, but if you do, you will need to cast your ballot on the spot or vote absentee.

what about keating?

Over the weekend, I was working on this piece and looking for one more item to finish it off.

As we get closer to the election, I'm really surprised that I'm not hearing more about a particular skeleton in John McCain's closet: his role in the Keating savings and loan debacle. More sources here: 1, 2. And the pattern may be repeating. Having Phil Gramm in his pocket may end up being a liability.

Then the skeleton re-emerged. More later...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

sharing a dream - on wheels

Most people have never heard of Marshall "Major" Taylor, the first African American sports star. (Click here for more info.) In the late 1890s and early 1900s, he lit the bike racing world on fire. If he were performing at the same level today, he might be as famous as Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan.

The recently built Major Taylor Trail on the south side is named for him, with a mural along the trail at 111th Street. His grave is several miles away, separated by some bike-UNfriendly industrial territory.

One of the best memorials may be a program for kids in Portland, Oregon. And here's a recent item about the kids.

Here in Chicago, Yojimbo's Garage is starting a youth track racing program. Maybe the next Major Taylor is in the making.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

bridge to nowhere

Joe Biden made some excellent points in the debate the other night. Here's a little food for thought.

Friday, October 3, 2008

blown away

Last weekend's Hyde Park Jazz Festival really blew me away. The quality of the acts, the organization and preparation that went into presenting the festival and the quality and variety of venues was all superb. I didn't get to stay as long as I would have liked, but I got to enjoy Bethany Pickens at Little Black Pearl, Nicole Mitchell Quartet at the Smart Museum of Art, and Robert Irving III, also at the Smart Museum. I wasn't able to stay for Dee Alexander's show at Rockefeller Chapel, but I enjoyed seeing her earlier in the week at Jazz Showcase, where she currently has a Tuesday night gig. I'll look forward to next year's event.

the urban naturalist

To read the Chicago Park District's quarterly nature newsletter, click here.

political humor for your Friday

Sarah Palin debate flow chart - enjoy!

funky Friday

Enjoy a rhythmic jam from Jon Cleary. TGIF!!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

under observation

Sometime when you're standing at the corner of LaSalle and Jackson waiting for the light to change, look up and around. The number of surveillance cameras around that intersection and within 1 block is a bit mind boggling. There are more at this intersection than most, thanks to the Federal Reserve Bank. Big brother is watching.

common sense

On a recent morning, woman fell on the sidewalk in front of me. I helped her get up and asked, "Are you okay?" She sheepishly said, "Yeah, it's my own stupid fault. That's what I get for texting while I'm walking." I've seen this same thing happen several times since then. Is common sense utterly dead in our communication-obsessed society?

bike rainbow

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

back to normal

It was nice to get off the train at 95th St. tonight and see all the barricades gone. I'm guessing that some drivers didn't realize that the construction was done. Traffic was a LOT lighter than normal. That probably won't last long.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

only a few

Of our 50 aldermen, only a handful declined this year's pay raise. Ginger Rugai was not among them. How can she accept a raise in good conscience when hundreds of other city employees are facing layoffs, and the city faces a decline in city services?


A bar in Old Town has an unusual new highlight.

free Sarah

I would love to see John McCain's handlers let Sarah Palin loose to speak more. If not now, then when will she get experience dealing with the media before election day? Such experience is essential to the office she seeks.

are you registered to vote?

If you're not registered, or you have moved since you last registered, click here. Note that the voter guides page gives deadlines and other info for specific states. If you are legally eligible to vote, please take the time to register, research the candidates, and vote. Your vote DOES matter.

Monday, September 29, 2008

solutions to our energy crisis

Someone sent me a link to this video clip - a testament to one legislator's inability to get his head out of his a$$, think outside the box, [or your metaphor here]. Contrary to what this jerk is spouting, riding a bicycle IS one viable solution to our energy crisis. And spending $1M per year on promoting bicycles as sustainable transportation is a drop in the bucket compared to the billions that are spent on highways and parking lots every year.

When I hear so many politicians talking about ways to generate more energy (almost always from non-renewable sources), I keep scratching my head wondering why our nation of energy hogs can't understand that the supply of non-renewable energy sources if NOT infinite and start to think about using LESS energy - turning off a few lights, using a drying rack or clothesline instead of a dryer, driving a smaller car or *GASP* not driving less or not at all, using bikes and public transportation instead.

If you're considering trying your commute by bicycle, there's an Intro to Bicycle Commuting workshop tomorrow afternoon (1:00 p.m.) at Northeastern Illinois University, University Commons (or inside the Student Union if it rains). This is on the Northwest side of Chicago along Bryn Mawr, between Kimball and Pulaski - sponsored by the Green Cycle Group and the NEIU College of Cycling.

BTW, if you feel inspired to write a letter to the jerk in the video telling him what you think about sustainable energy policies and bicycles, here's a link to his web site.

Barack Obama visits Appalachia

I'll be very curious to see how Barack Obama does in Appalachia in the general election. The New Yorker has some interesting insights on his campaign efforts there.

another winner

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did it again - another great Sarah Palin send-up on Saturday Night Live.

a greener Sears Tower

I noticed this article in today's Sun-Times about new green amenities for tenants at the Sears Tower: loaner bikes for local trips, expanded indoor bike parking, and a few other improvements to reduce car trips and provide incentives for bike commuting. Not bad!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

up next....

If you didn't catch Friday night's presidential candidate debate, the New York Times offers a well done interactive feature about the accuracy of the candidates' statements. (Click on the tab "check point" in the boxed-out area to the right of the video. As you scroll down in that box and click on the words "New York Times Check Point", it takes you to that part of the debate in the video.), a non-partisan and nonprofit organization, did an analysis that is interesting on both sides.

Then we have Thursday night's VP candidate debate, which should be highly entertaining.

a bit of local humor

Cheers to King Richie! [hic]

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Great Calumet Bike Tour Sunday (tomorrow) 9/28

There's a LOT of good stuff happening this weekend. Just got word of yet another calendar item, a bike tour sponsored by the Calumet Ecological Park Association. It's happening this Sunday 9/28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult cyclists should meet at Reynolds Club Student Center, 5706 S. University in Chicago. The tour starts in Hyde Park and makes informative stops at Oakwoods Cemetery, Historic Pullman, Lake Calumet wetlands, Wolf Lake, Rainbeach, South Shore Country Club and Jackson Park. They request a $15 donation, which includes a picnic lunch.

Reservations required. Contact John Pastirik at 773-991-0613 (or or Judy Lihota at 773-646-4773.

tonight at Blue Moon

Playback, a acoustic trio, is playing at Blue Moon 1742 W. 99th St., 7-10 p.m.

Friday, September 26, 2008

95th St. detour Friday update

The other night I wrote about the construction closure on 95th St. I saw its impact in many locations on Wednesday. Some of the traffic detoured to 99th between Vincennes and Western, so 99th St. was bumper to bumper for that whole distance, even in the middle of the day.

On Thursday, the pattern changed a bit. I saw more traffic aides, barricades and signs, and the buses and some other traffic were detouring on Longwood or Vanderpoel to 99th. It looked like they were discouraging at least some of the traffic from using 96th. I've also noticed more traffic on Damen. I had trouble today with drivers turning from 95th onto Longwood wanting to keep moving, in spite of pedestrian traffic to/from the Metra station. Don't forget that pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right of way. You and your car can kill those pedestrians. Please slow down and let them cross - at 95th, at Ridge Park, on 99th St.

Whether you are walking, driving, riding a bike or otherwise getting around in areas affected by the construction at the 95th St. Metra station, be prepared for more traffic than normal in places you don't usually see it. Please remember that pedestrian right of way isn't suspended just because you have a temporary detour. Allow a few extra minutes and slow down. Thank you!

a great weekend for art

East Pilsen open studios THIS WEEKEND: Friday 9/26 (6-10 pm) to Sunday 9/28 (12-7). Under the Wire gallery (2210 S. Halsted) will be featuring Full-Body Henna, (well, nearly full) performed by Tejal Mehta on Chicago Burlesque Star Ms. Cherish. The courtyard gardens in the middle of a few blocks will be open to visitors. The stage in the middle of the block accessed from the church garden at 19th & Peoria will have performances. More more events, click here.

Hyde Park Jazz Fest this Saturday

This Saturday 9/27 is the Hyde Park Jazz Fest from noon to after midnight. It's happening at many different venues around Hyde Park (including the Checkerboard Lounge) and it's FREE.

Tyler Perry gives back

Nice human interest story from Atlanta.

funky Friday

Old and new: older tunes, one in a newer video - Fantasy and September. These are two of my faves from back in the day. They still sound great.