Monday, June 30, 2008

you know it's bad when...

Even Intel is avoiding Windows Vista. And one NH computer shop advertises "we remove Vista".

But they say that XP is finally being phased out. What next?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

flower and garden show will return to Navy Pier

Good news! Next year's flower & garden show will be back at Navy Pier (3/7-3/15). Rosemont has never been a good location. It was always second rate compared to the previous shows at Navy Pier, so I'm really glad it will be back.

recycling compact fluorescent bulbs

Home Depot now accepts CFLs for recycling.

laughably out of place

John Barleycorn is one of my favorite Lincoln Park places. But would I want to see one in Bridgeport? No waaayyyy!!!! The idea is
replacing Jimbo's with John Barleycorn is too ridiculous to contemplate. Let the Sox fans have Jimbo's. We Cubs fans have
Barleycorn – on the north side.

Friday, June 27, 2008

funky Friday

Ryan Shaw is playing Taste of Chicago on Tuesday 7/1. Here's a taste of his fine tunes. Reminds me a bit of a young Stevie Wonder - lots of talent and energy.

Do the 45 (fun video)
Over and Done

Thursday, June 26, 2008

on your left

More people are getting out and riding their bikes and walking - on streets, on paths, everywhere. We need to do better at sharing these common spaces, co-existing safely. Some are strong believers in using some sort of signal, whether verbal (such as "on your left") or other sound. Others want everyone to slow down. Being more aware of one's surroundings would seem to be a good start. What's your $0.02 on this? Please leave comments.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

CFLs, energy and mercury

I got an e-mail from a friend with a link to this video, featuring Rep. Ted Poe of Texas. I found myself shaking my head in disbelief at how determined this guy is to be clueless about the big energy picture. He trots out any possible fact on the CFL issue, ignoring the fact that using one CFL for its lifetime generates far less mercury (from the generation of the energy to power the bulb) than the bulb contains and that opportunities for dropping and breaking one are fairly rare, because the bulbs last so long. He sticks his head in the sand about America's "abundant natural resources," insisting that more be done to make use of them. Wake up, moron! Those resources aren't so abundant anymore. Of course, he's from Texas and he doesn't want to admit that the freewheeling days of the oil boom are nearly over for his state.

I'm aware of the EPA clean-up protocol for broken CFLs. However, they are fairly sturdy, much harder to break than a conventional light bulb. I've been using them for years and have never broken one.

What's your $0.02 on this?

safer pedestrians?

Will this effort to raise driver awareness keep pedestrians safer? What's your $0.02 on this? Please leave comments.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

playing the building

David Byrne keeps amazing me with the cool, creative projects he's done. "Playing the Building" is a current one in NYC. I hope I get a chance to check this out while it's up.


This new museum in Wisconsin sounds like a good excuse for a road trip.

Monday, June 23, 2008

one of a kind

The world won't be the same without George Carlin. Thank you, George, for telling it like it is in such a uniquely humorous way. Few people have the gift of using their voices and words so well.

music at Millennium Park on 6/28

Music without borders series: : Check out Orchestra Baobab. This Senegalese band previously attracted throngs to the old HotHouse. 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night. Free.

will we be safer?

I hope that the new law and word about the tickets helps to raise driver awareness of how their actions can be hazardous to cyclists. It's way too early to tell.

think about November

This one is worth a minute of your time.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

my Portland ride

I really enjoyed Portland, Oregon. I was curious to see if it lived up to its bike friendly reputation. It absolutely did. In walking around town, observing traffic from public transit, and riding a bike, I saw almost a lot of polite, civilized traffic interactions and almost no road rage. Many streets had bike lanes, and they were well used. Cyclists generally stopped at red lights and rode more reasonably than many Chicago cyclists (sorry, folks). Their light rail system accommodates bikes better than CTA trains. They have hooks near each doorway to hang bikes by their front wheels, so the footprint of each bike is smaller. They make allowance for more bikes on each car.

The hotel where I stayed had a bike available for guest use and I decided to try it out. It was a heavy European bike with generator lights and a sturdy rear rack, a cushy ride but more of a workout than my regular bike at home.

I went to check out Riverfront Park and crossed the bridge to the well-used path on the east side of the Willamette River.

Signage said that the bridge crossing had been added to this double-deck road/railroad bridge several years earlier.

As I crossed, a light rail train was passing on the upper level, and a freight train was crossing alongside me. I certainly don't experience that in Chicago. I had a very pleasant ride and wished that I'd been able to see more of Portland by bike and do some riding in Eugene, which looked equally bike friendly.

I'm back

Just got back from Oregon last night after some weather-related transportation snafus. Oregon was great, but getting to and from was complicated by thunderstorms (flight delays/rerouting/more delays) and the aftermath of thunderstorms (flooding affecting train travel between Minneapolis and Chicago). It was good to finally get back.

Spent some time today doing some much-needed weeding and deadheading in the garden. Time to do nothing for a while before going back to the inevitable mounds that will await on my desk at work tomorrow.....

music at Millennium Park on 6/26

Music without borders series - "The Bachata Roja Concert: Unsung Heroes, Rediscovered Icons." Venerable musicians from the Dominican Republic evoke ancient folkloric traditions. Cape Verdean vocalist Mayra Andrade will open. Free, 6:30 p.m. June 26.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Beverly-Morgan Park garden walk on 6/22

The 21st Annual Beverly Hills-Morgan Park Garden Walk, presented by the East Beverly Association, was named one of the Top 10 garden walks by Chicago magazine. This year it showcases 10 gardens. It's $12, $10 for seniors and runs from noon to 5 p.m.

Guided trolley tours of all gardens will depart from Beverly Bank, 1908 W. 103rd St., at 12:30 and 12:45 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Call 773-233-7633 for more info.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

greetings from Portland

After a bit of weather-related drama on Thursday night, I finally got to Portland yesterday morning. I'll save my "sleepless in Seattle" story for later.

This place is so mellow. I was out and about all day yesterday and did not see one road rage incident, a refreshing change from Chicago. Bikes are everywhere, and drivers are a lot more considerate around them than some of the maniacs I see in Chicago. All day in and around downtown traffic, and not one honk. !!! No lie.

I'm staying at the Ace Hotel (check out the About page), interesting place, funky-cool blend of a spruced up but fairly spartan old building, a lounge area that feels like a college dorm lounge (in a good way), some nice modern touches (like this Mac laptop in the lounge), in the midst of a lively entertainment district. Been enjoying some excellent local seafood and wine and fine hospitality.

I'll be wandering a bit more today before I pick up a rental car to head south to Eugene and Medford. If I'm lucky, I'll get out one of the hotel's bikes for a while this a.m. Been taking lots of pictures and I know there will be plenty more before the end of the trip. More later as time and computer access allow.....

Friday, June 13, 2008

music at Millennium Park on 6/19

Music without borders series: 6:30 p.m. June 19: Maria del Mar Bonet/Miquel Gil and the Arab Orchestra of Barcelona. An evening of Spanish regional music featuring Bonet, who champions the songs of Mallorca, and singer-guitarist Gil. Free.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jazz Showcase is back

Yeah!!!! This is the story I've been waiting for since 2006. This has always been one of my favorite places for jazz in Chicago. If all goes well this week, they'll be opening up tonight. Go and visit the Jazz Showcase in Dearborn Station. This looks like a great new space. I'm looking forward to checking it out when I get back from vacation.

outta town

I'm taking off today. I'll be on vacation for a little while, but I've got a few things set to post while I'm gone. Back soon....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Here's a shout out to the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Haven't seen them around here in a while, but it sounds like they're doing well. If you remember a group of young guys, a small brass band with a drummer, who played on Loop street corners for a few years, this is the group. They've migrated to NYC. This Friday night they're playing a light night set at the Blue Note in Manhattan. Congrats! I hope this leads to bigger and better things. They've got a lot of talent and they've worked hard.

I'll close with two videos of the group: War and a NY Times feature.

a different way to get around

A friend sent a link concerning one family's solution to high gas prices. (FYI - Here's the source for what they're riding.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

a story of black American history

I found this story about an archaelogical dig in western Illinois fascinating.

Monday, June 9, 2008

look first

This is an example of what can happen if you do not check for approaching traffic before opening your car door. Please check your rearview and side mirrors, then look out your side window before you open your door. You may save someone's life or spare someone painful injuries by taking that extra second. Thank you!

JazzCity: Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Strings on 6/13

Want to check out a cool free jazz concert at Columbus Park (5701 W. Jackson)? Click here for info.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

legislation for areas too sparse for public transit

Most of New Hampshire is sparsely populated enough to have little or no public transit. In some areas, the Trailways bus is used for commuting. They have park and ride lots by highway exits, and Trailways sells monthly passes by distance, similar to what we have here for Metra. The state is recognizing that another option is needed and has proposed legislation to that end. I hope that they will continue pushing for more alternatives to single commuters in cars and get at least one commuter rail line extended across the border into New Hampshire, as many NH commuters go to Boston-area jobs.

move over

In your travels around the state of Illinois, keep this in mind. Scott's Law requires drivers to leave a safe amount of space around stopped emergency vehicles. Click this link and read both pages for details. The law was named after Chicago Fire Dept. Lt. Scott Gillen, who was killed by a drunk driver while assisting at a crash scene along the Dan Ryan Expressway. Please help keep police, firefighters and other emergency workers safe so they can help keep us safe.

I got this from a friend: My friend Denise was driving at a legal speed on I-88 in the right lane. An Illinois Police car was sitting in the right shoulder with the lights on, and the officer was sitting in the car. No one was pulled over. She continued in the right lane and passed him. She was immediately pulled and cited for Violating Scott's law which I found is a law that requires you to move over (if possible) to the left lane if an emergency vehicle is on the side of the road. She pleaded ignorance of the law but was given a ticket and was assigned a mandatory court date for which she appeared. The judge asked her if she wanted a trial. She said that she could not testify that she did not commit the violation but that she was unaware of the law. She pleaded guilty and was fined $100.00. She thought that was it. Two weeks later she received a notice from the Secretary of State that her license has been suspended for 3 months because of this violation. She called the Secretary of State's office, as no one ever mentioned that she would lose her license. As expected, they did not care and if she wanted a hearing on the matter or a hearing to ask for a license to drive to work, she could expect a hearing date in about 3 months. Apparently, in 2007, the state police issued a record number of tickets for this offense.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Evanston vs. Hyde Park

This blog posting gives an apt analysis of Evanston's redevelopment and how its lessons might be applied in Hyde Park. The comments add a lot to this one.

a special gift

What is it about Barack Obama that inspires such special enthusiasm? I think this writer has hit the nail on the head.

Friday, June 6, 2008

a unique new museum

If you're looking for something that's new, unique and historical, check out the Chicago River bridge museum. Sounds like it's especially interesting during a bridge lift, when you can watch the gears and motors in action. If you're interested in more details on that, click here.

funky Friday

Smooth and Jingo

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

pure silliness

For a dose of pure silliness, check out this ancient bit of humor.

a historic day

Barack Obama has finally reached the delegate count needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. I hope that he can overcome the next big hurdle: getting voters to see him as a leader, not just as a black man. The fact that he's made it this far gives me hope for the future.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

safe routes to school and the Illinois legislature

The Safe Routes to School program faces a ridiculous hurdle in our state. We have the federal money available and allocated to add sidewalks, crosswalks and other improvements, but it's being held up at the state level, which could result in many projects not being completed before the start of the next school year.

In their current state, too many areas are not safe for children to walk to school, so many are bused or driven for short distances that they could otherwise, giving them more exercise. It's bad enough when clueless people destroy existing sidewalks for selfish reasons. (Click here for earlier story and here for photo.) If you're interested in a healthy streets initiative, click here for more info.

The icing on the cake is the Illinois legislators' proposal to vote themselves a pay raise while we're facing a significant budget deficit and they failed us so miserably on budget negotiations last year. Sheesh! Ya gotta earn it, folks!

Monday, June 2, 2008

art in Hyde Park

Next weekend brings my favorite Chicago art fair: 57th Street. Actually, most folks don't realize that it's two fairs in one. The 57th Street fair, centered at 57th and Kimbark, is a juried fine arts show. There's a lot of high quality work at all price levels in many different media. The Hyde Park Community Fair, just to the east, is an arts and crafts fair, which also has a lot of fine work. Between the two fairs is a school, which hosts food booths, musical entertainment and bathrooms. The two shows complement each other very well. It's a great way to find gifts (for other folks, or something special for yourself), enjoy people watching, and just spend a relaxing day. It's happening 6/7-6/8. Hours are 11-6 on Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday.

While you're in Hyde Park, here's an art exhibit worth visiting. The current exhibit at Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago is "Black Is Black Ain't," a show about race. Click here for more info.