Friday, May 30, 2008

Drive Nowhere Day

from a message I just got - wish I'd gotten it yesterday to post it sooner....

Happy Drive Nowhere Day! Today thousands of us are leaving our cars at home in favor of walking, biking, or taking public transit - and it's not too late to take part.

Today also marks that day when we have consumed as much oil as we will produce domestically for all of 2008 - it's our oil Dependence Day, and this year we're marking it by not using our cars. So if you haven't taken the pledge to drive nowhere today, please do so by clicking here. If you have, then please help out by forwarding this message to five of your friends, and ask them to take part.

Driving nowhere today will help send a strong message to our elected officials that one simple solution to our dependence on oil is public transit.

Hopefully, it will also show thousands of people how easy public transit can be, and Drive Nowhere Day will become drive nowhere month, year, and life.

Are you running an errand later that's only a few blocks away? Take a walk. Going a little further? Take the bike or check out your local public transit system. Got no bike? Pay a visit to your local bike shop, take a test ride, and buy one. It's a great way to get around. Happy Friday!

8.7 seconds

A little perspective on traffic and congestion.

funky Friday

Here's a Tito Puente two-fer to celebrate warmer weather:
Oye Como Va

Thursday, May 29, 2008

bike safety

There was an excellent panel discussion on Chicago Tonight last week (video link here) on bike safety in Chicago. (BTW, the next video link is about Blackstone Bicycle Works, a non-profit program teaching bike repair skills to south side kids and recycling used bikes).

This web site has a lot of excellent information on avoiding accidents, statistics. Here's another source with useful diagrams.

Ride safely and have a great summer!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

99th Street Metra update

It's open! The construction fence has been removed from around the newly renovated station house. Today it was open for business, with the ticket agent working inside. The other end of the platform is still under construction, but they're making good progress on it. I'll post some pictures soon.

another cool photo blog

This one is from Japan.

Pullman garden walk on 6/14

"Art in the Garden and Joe in the Kitchen," the annual garden walk presented by the Historic Pullman Garden Club with the Pullman State Historic Site, showcases garden art by local artists. Also featured are cooking demonstrations by local resident, chef Joe Dietz, and a boutique. It's $12 in advance, $15 day of event. Hours: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. For more info, call 773-568-2441, or click here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

when is organic more worthwhile

Most of us don't have the $$$ to buy all of our produce organic. Some conventionally grown fruits and vegetables can be saturated with pesticides that can't be easily washed off. Others are less vulnerable, and are okay to buy when conventionally grown. I've eaten some conventionally grown grapes that had a noticeable chemical taste even after thorough washing.

If you want to know which are more likely to be contaminated by pesticides (hence worth buying in organic form), check out this article.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

ooh ooh!

Coming home today I noticed a sign I'd been hoping for. On the windows of the old Cafe Luna space on 99th Street, there is a sign for a new coffeehouse, coming soon: Blue Moon. Yeah!!!!

Bike the Drive - Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who rode Bike the Drive today and helped to make the event a big success. It's a major fundraiser for Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, our local bike advocacy organization, which does a huge amount to improve conditions and laws regarding bicycles and pedestrians throughout the Chicago area. The weather turned out great and I enjoyed seeing lots of folks having a great time.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

political humor

It's only a flesh wound....

weird hair day

This morning was a weird hair day on the train. A woman sitting in front of me had short hair, not quite shoulder length. I'm guessing she's trying to grow it longer. It was pulled back into tiny ponytail and was barely long enough for that. The hair at top of her neck too short to be pulled into the pony tail. It was hanging loose in clumps, like big tarantula legs. It looked like a tarantula was hitching a ride on the back of her neck - ewww!!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

cool local photo blog

If you've never checked out Whateverland, it's worth a look, along with this feature on the artist.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

no damsel in distress

This guy sounds like he needs some serious help. Or perhaps he’s beyond help. Either way, there seems to be plenty of evidence that he is not mentally stable enough to be a Chicago police officer. Sheesh!

I don't envy the decent CPD officers who have to deal with the fallout from garbage like this. They've got plenty to say about it.

is it really about the "white working class?"

So many recent news pieces about Hillary Clinton's base of support in the presidential campaign have made reference to the white working class. That's an oversimplification of what's happening. She's connecting with the union-oriented Rust Belt Midwest. The unspoken piece (until now) is Appalachia.

tune for Tuesday

another amusing moment from Scrubs

Monday, May 19, 2008

an interesting relic

Have you ever wondered about an 1870s house in Englewood just east of the Rock Island tracks, standing alone on its block, and wondered what the story was. Click here for more.

look beyond the label

When you see environmental messages on product packages, is it real or greenwashing? I know plenty of folks who have been suckers for the convenience of products like Swiffer without considering the environmental consequences of more disposable products.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

How green is my vacation?

Thinking about a vacation? Find out here how vacation choices can impact the environment.

Rick Bayless garden walk

If you're a fan of Rick Bayless (chef/owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo), you might find this of interest: a 1-hour tour of his organic, edible Chicago garden, given by garden manager Bill Shores. Cost: $20.

7/16, 7/23, 8/13, 8/20, and 9/10 at 6:30 p.m. Click here for more info.

Friday, May 16, 2008

beer of the week

If you're a fan of Bell's fine beer, check this out. TGIF and cheers!

street scenes

I was just out taking a walk at lunchtime. You never know what you'll see in the Loop. I walked up Wells St. towards the Merchandise Mart. A bike messenger wearing an interesting outfit was getting some reactions. He wore a hockey uniform and helmet covered with colorful drinking straws, sticking out porcupine-like. As he was locking up his bike in front of the Mart, I asked "What's the occasion?" He laughed and said "Friday night." Maybe he's going to Hyde Park Critical Mass tonight.

The weather has finally gotten nice, so lots of people are out walking and enjoying the sun.

A growing line is wrapping around the block, leading to the Cadillac Palace Theatre, which has "CNBC Presents Fast Money" on the marquee. Whatever...

A chunky girl stuffed into tight denim capris waddled down LaSalle in her gold lame shoes, yapping on her cell phone, oblivious to the rest of the world.

Back to the office...only a few more hours before I escape. TGIF!!!

out of the closet

a good Mary Schmich piece on Larry McKeon

national popular vote

If the fiasco that is the electoral college isn't retired, tying states' electoral votes to the national popular vote is a good work-around. It would give results that better represent the will of the people and make everyone's vote count.

funky Friday

one from Patricia Barber: Gotcha

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Riverside garden walk 5/18

If you're interested in gardens and want to see some in Riverside, check this out on 5/18. A tour that focuses on the Arts and Crafts influence on the house and garden is presented by the Frederick Law Olmsted Society of Riverside. It includes the gardens Jens Jensen designed for Frank Lloyd Wright's Coonley Estate. Cost: $35 in advance, $40 day of event. Hours: noon to 5 p.m. Call: 708-442-7906.


Some geniuses in Lake Forest decided to remove the public sidewalk in front of their house, because they didn't want people walking there. Huh? Haven't these idiots ever heard of curtains?

They definitely don't get the concept of healthy streets, do they? If they didn't want to be next to a sidewalk, which kids need to safely walk to the school next door, why did they buy the house?

Here's an update. I hope that these fools lose their lawsuit and have to fork over $$$ to rebuild the sidewalk and pay fines on top of it. We don't want to see this kind of thing setting a precedent for people getting away with this kind of selfish stupidity.


Here's a post from another blog that really cracked me up.

putting gas prices into perspective

While the increase in gas prices has caused a lot of hardship in this country, we still have it easy compared to many other countries.

bike-related blog

Here's a cool bikey blog.

garden walks for the season

Here's a listing of LOTS of garden walks throughout the Chicago area, starting this weekend.

a new blog in the neighborhood

Check out Gemma's Garden.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

political humor

Two funnies from San Francisco: Bad Reporter and Mark Fiore.

save Grant Park

If you oppose the construction of any new buildings in Grant Park (including the Children's Museum), click here to sign a petition. IMO, Garfield Park would be a much better location. A children's museum would complement the Conservatory very nicely.

rude surprise

This morning I needed to take a cab from the train station to work because I was having trouble with my ankle and finding it difficult to walk. Usually I enjoy walking, so I rarely take cabs. When I got to the office, I handed him enough for a $0.50 tip on the $3.60 fare. As I got out, he said "hey, wait a minute. There's a $1 surcharge." I asked, "What surcharge?" This was a trip of less than a mile with no extra passengers, no luggage, no extras of any kind. "$1 surcharge because of gas prices." I looked in my bag and came up with a bit more change, still $0.10 short of the $4.50 he wanted. "Sorry, pal, but that's all the change I've got. If you want more, you've got to break a twenty." He gave me a disgusted look and drove away.

Sheesh! It's not like I take cab rides every day. How was I supposed to know that this new measure had just passed - like yesterday? Found this item online when I got into the office.

A new taxicab surcharge linked to fuel prices is now in effect. If the price of gas remains $2.70 or higher for a week, the surcharge is 50 cents/trip; if $3.20 or more per gallon, then the extra fare is $1. (Looks like $1 for sure, based on the prices seen around town these days!) The cabbies would have liked an even greater fare hike to cover rising fuel prices, while riders, especially those making short trips, will be particularly affected (as the surcharge is the same for two blocks or twenty miles). This surcharge will be in effect for at least a year, when a permanent fare increase can be considered.

good transit news

It's nice to get good news for a change.

no Moore

I was watching Chicago Tonight's coverage of today's repeal of the foie gras ban and laughing hard at this priceless moment: King Richie saying "Thank you, Joe 'Foie Gras' Moore," in front of the Council and press, at the end of the vote.

farmers markets

... will be back soon. The Beverly farmers market opens its season on Sunday 6/8 at the 95th St. park and ride lot (at Longwood). At the Federal Plaza downtown, it started yesterday.

Here's a complete listing of area markets. Check your area and places you visit often. There are a bunch of new ones added this year.

For a guide to what's in season at various points in the summer, click here.

organic plant sale 5/17 & 5/18

Buy all you need to garden organically at the Kilbourn Park Organic Greenhouse plant sale. The greenhouse will sell more than 150 varieties of organically grown vegetable, herb and flower seedlings at this annual sale on May 17 & 18. Plant prices range from $2 & up. Kilbourn Park is located at 3501 N. Kilbourn Ave. Click here for more info., or call 773.685.3351 or 773.685.3359.


The recent cougar incident may not be the only one we'll see here. Read here for more....

carbon footprint per passenger mile

This graphic puts the impact of our transportation choices into perspective. Food for thought...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

musical moment

Some days we all feel like the mayor of simpleton

Monday, May 12, 2008

ways to save $$$

One creative dad bought cheap bikes for himself and his family. They ride and take the train instead of having a second car. If it's feasible for you to combine bike and public transit, or just use public transit, instead of driving, that may save you a significant amount of money, depending on where you live. Click here for some additional ideas.

I've made a point to choose living locations that are close to transit to minimize car use. That has saved me a thousands on maintenance and insurance, on top of gas savings.

Here are a few ideas for saving money on your phone service.

If you only use a car once or twice a week, consider a car share program instead of owning a car. I-Go has been in Chicago since 200 and has many locations. Zipcar is newer, but they're rapidly expanding. If you don't need a car for daily use, this can be WAY cheaper than owning, maintaining, and paying for a parking space (or parking tickets). If there's no car share location near you but you'd use one if it was available, send an e-mail to I-Go and Zipcar and let them know there's some demand in your neighborhood. I've put in a few requests for a location in Beverly. No news yet. The closest locations are South Shore and Hyde Park.

Got any tips you'd like to share? Leave a comment.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

tech support funny

The outsourcing of tech support call centers to India is inspiring a new genre of humor.

real estate sarcasm

...courtesy of This Modern World....

armchair cyclist

This is just plain silly.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


If only high speed rail were a reality here, not just a dream....*sigh*... Here's an organization that is trying to make it a reality.

Friday, May 9, 2008

muppets meet Scrubs

A fine bit of silliness....

sharing dreams

This Boston Globe article offers a good perspective on Barack Obama's family.

funky Friday

Here's a two-fer from Chaka Khan: My Funny Valentine and Do you Love What You Feel

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

a different transit world

I was reading a DC-area blog and clicked on a transit-related link in the story. Ended up looking around the web site for the DC transit system. I was amazed to find this.

When incidents happen on CTA, even when they cause significant service interruptions, how often can we get any information from CTA about them? And wouldn't it be nice to be able to get real-time delay information from Metra? One day recently I was waiting at LaSalle Street station for the 5:50 Rock Island train. It was 5:55. There had been no announcements. The train had not appeared. It's usually in the station before 5:40. A barely intelligible announcement came over the crackly speakers. "Attention Rock Island commuters....train number 619 will be delayed." Many groans were heard. "Tell us something we don't know." The train appeared 10 minutes later.

Wouldn't it be nice if those big new LED displays could actually be used for useful information, like current time, service delays, etc.? Nah, that would make too much sense.

Monday, May 5, 2008

muppet break

Today has been a frustrating Moanday. Time for a muppet break....


This recent New Yorker piece is an an excellent assessment of some recent political slips of the tongue - well worth a read.

JazzCity: Jazz Cabaret on 5/9

Want to check out a cool free jazz concert at Foster Park (1440 W. 84th St.)? Click here for info.

feeding the world at a cost

Nitrogen fertilizer has been responsible for great increases in crop production, but at a high environmental cost.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Saturday, May 3, 2008

a musical tribute

to the now-gone car kabob: a musical moment from "Wayne's World." For those of you who haven't seen it, there are several SW side landmarks in this, and the car kabob appears towards the end.

another spike

No, this one has nothing to do with Spike Lee. Berwyn's infamous car spike bit the dust yesterday.

Friday, May 2, 2008

funky Friday

Have a salsa Friday and take a musical trip to Cuba: Recoge y Vete and Esto Esta.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


One controversial figure has some interesting words about another.

parking and traffic on 97th Street

If any of you readers were at the meeting at Ginger Rugai's office after that nasty accident on 97th near Longwood a few months back, you've probably been wondering what's happening with parking signage and/or restrictions there. I just ran into a neighbor who was wondering the same thing.

I called Ginger Rugai's office today and was told that the "No parking here to corner" sign that was wiped out by the crash will be replaced ASAP. Neighborhood permit parking signs will be going up soon, probably within a month. Hopefully that will help with the congestion issues we've been having there.

witch hunt

Have we been hearing anything about Hillary Clinton's pastor or John McCain's? Would information about them inform the voting public about their ideas or their ability to perform the job of president? No.

Has the media made an issue of the fact that McCain attends and likes a Phoenix-area Baptist megachurch but publicly identifies as Episcopalian? Has there been any significant attention to Hillary Clinton's beliefs? Do most Americans even know that she is Methodist? No.

Why all the hoopla about Jeremiah Wright? He takes controversial stands on some issues. Does it mean that Barack Obama embraces those same opinions. No.

Let's call this ruckus what it really is: thinly veiled racism. I'm hoping that Wright's 15 minutes will be up sooner rather than later.

Barack's journey

a cartoon thought