Monday, December 31, 2007

one man's trash

How many of us think about how much trash one person can generate in a year? This is a thought-provoking, if somewhat extreme, example.

We can each find practical ways to reduce the trash we generate. Bags are a biggie for me. If I'm at a store, I often have a tote bag with me and put my purchases into it rather than accepting a plastic bag. If I don't need a bag, I try to avoid taking one. I try to buy items with less packaging when possible.

Look at your patterns of use. Replacing one or two disposable items with reusable ones can make a big difference. Here's to a new year of less trash. Cheers!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

burning the midnight oil

Peter Garrett of Australia's Midnight Oil has taken his activism to the next level. After previous attempts, he was elected to the Australian Parliament and has been appointed environment minister by the new Prime Minister.

I hope that the U.S. elections in 2008 will bring us a change that is similarly positive for the environment. It can't get much worse than Shrub.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

News Star Top 10

This year-end item in the News Star is worth mentioning in case you haven't seen it yet via 24-7 North of Howard Watchers or Broken Heart.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

R.I.P. Oscar Peterson

The music world has lost another giant, Oscar Peterson. He died on Sunday in Toronto at the age of 82, after giving us the gift of great jazz for many years.

Click here for Oscar Peterson's web site. This link is a CBC archive page that includes links to audio and video interview clips.

If you enjoy jazz but aren't familiar with his music, check it out. I think you'll like what you find.

cool yule

Click here for a cool animated version of an old Christmas favorite.

Chinese food for Christmas

What do you do on Christmas if you're Jewish? Click here, regardless of your religion, and have a laugh or two.

Monday, December 24, 2007


'tis the season for the faux tradition of airing grievances.

One of my biggest pet peeves at this time of year is people who don't clear their sidewalks. C'mon, folks! Some of you may live in your cars, but many of us need to be able to walk without falling on our asses and having inconvenient fractures.

So, what's your biggest pet peeve (aside from the never ending flinging of verbal dog poop on certain blogs)? Do tell.

wrong side of the window

Apparently some guy on State Street last night made the Channel 7 news at 10 p.m. a bit too interesting for the anchor. Check out the video. Dude, you're supposed to watch the show from outside the window!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

our toddlin' town

Ah, it just keeps getting better. Here's a Todd-related item from Chicagoist.

coming up fast

The New Hampshire primary is coming up fast. Having lived in New Hampshire, I think there's more than a bit of lunacy in having it so early in the year. It's too close to the holidays. Extreme weather that could reduce turnout is more likely. But they're not going to change the date on my account.

If you put any stock in polls, you might be interested in checking out this week's Boston Globe poll of New Hampshire voters.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Blago under siege

It's about time that the feds put Blago under closer scrutiny. Tighten the screws!

a different kind of holiday lights

The new thing in holiday lights is LEDs. However, not everyone loves their look, as noted in this recent Boston Globe article. Your $0.02?

Friday, December 21, 2007

it's in the bag

This article in today's San Francisco offers some nice solutions to help eliminate one of my big pet peeves: the proliferation of plastic bags. They list a variety of online sources for reusable bags to use for shopping, lunch, etc.

I have a collection of assorted canvas and nylon totes that I use for groceries and other shopping errands, carrying extra items to/from work, extra carrying capacity for travel, etc.

If you've thought about getting some tote bags and just haven't gotten around to it, or the ones you've seen are too expensive, check out the list of vendors at the end of the article. Some of their options are quite affordable, and they come in fun colors and patterns, too.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

no fix for transit this year

Today's news that the stooges in Springfield have failed yet again to agree on a transit funding plan was no great surprise, unfortunately. Rod Blagojevich and Mike Madigan deserve big lumps of coal in their stockings. Julie Hamos deserves the reward of a long-overdue agreement. Stay tuned for the next round after the first of the year....

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

sad news

Those of you who are familiar with the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society have probably met Mary Jo Doyle, founder and executive director of the organization. Her family and friends have my sympathy. She gave so much for the community.

Visitation will be from 3-9 p.m. on Friday, 12/21/07 at John E. Maloney Funeral Home, 1359 W. Devon. The funeral mass will be held at Saint Margaret Mary Church, 2324 W. Chase on Saturday, 12/22/07 at 10 a.m.. At Mary Jo's request, please make donations to any of the organizations listed below in lieu of flowers.

Whether or not you knew Mary Jo, you may want to watch Eve Brownstone's oral history interview with Mary Jo. This YouTube video is also available at

Memorial donations may be made to:

The Rogers Park/ West Ridge Historical Society
7344 N. Western, Chicago, IL 60645

American Cancer Society
P.O. Box 22718 Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718

The Red Door Animal Shelter
P.O. Box 269119 Chicago, IL 60626

St. Scholastica Academy
7416 N. Ridge Chicago IL 60645

I'd like to say a final thank you to Mary Jo for all her hard work in preserving neighborhood history. She has left a fine legacy.

puppets on wheels

I caught a bit of this show at Christkindmarket today. Fun stuff!

untapped source of revenue

I noticed a recent comment on a local blog that reminded of something I've often said in passing. There are thousands of Chicago property owners who violate city ordinance by failing to clear snow and ice from their sidewalks. They endanger those of who need to walk on their sidewalks.

I've often joked that the city could have a revenue gold mine if they hired aides to go around and write tickets on all the property owners who neglect their sidewalks. At $25-50 a pop for a first offense, and more for subsequent offenses, the city could make some real money. The citizens would benefit by having sidewalks that are safe to walk on. It could also create jobs. Local youth job councils could be a source of snow shovelers for those folks who would rather pay someone else to clear their sidewalks. Could be a win-win. Your $0.02?

last minute shopping

Something to keep in mind for your last minute Christmas shopping, as well as future shopping for any kids in your life.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

for the holidays

If you haven't yet visited Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza, you haven't run out of time. It's open thru Christmas Eve. There's still plenty of food and drink and interesting things to buy. Great for people watching, too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

killing time at work

funny video - NOT suitable at work where the boss might see it

Monday morning wake-up

Sunday, December 16, 2007

CTA doomsday survival guide

If the CTA doomsday actually does happen, consider riding a bicycle for at least part of your commute. Chicagoland Bicycle Federation (CBF) has a page of suggestions for some bus route substitutions. If you usually take a bus to a train, you might use a bicycle for that portion, as there are now bike racks in and around many CTA and Metra stations.

For everyday or year-round use, a beater bike might be appropriate. Working Bikes and Uptown Bikes are good sources for used bikes. Police auctions are another source. When buying a used bike from any source, it's worthwhile to take it to a bike mechanic you trust to check it out and make sure that all is in safe operating condition.

The Chicago Bike Shop Directory is a good source for finding dealers and mechanics near you. It includes user reviews.

The Bikewinter web site has lots of useful tips for riding in winter, and if you want to meet folks to ride with, there are plenty of events.


Saturday, December 15, 2007


I just noticed a story in the Reader about a new Wisconsin product available at Taste in Jarvis Square. Na zdorovye!

bedtime for Blago?

Looks like the feds are closing in on our chief crook, I mean gov. Could they have a special gift for Blago, too? Please, Santa, do you have a special lump of coal in your stocking for Blago. ;)

Friday, December 14, 2007

our work isn't done

Warm up your typing or dialing fingers again. The transit funding mess still isn't resolved, and the hole keeps getting deeper. If you need the names of your legislators and their contact info, click here to look them up.

Get ready to kiss billions of federal matching funds for transit goodbye unless the folks in Springfield come up with the state matching funds soon enough to claim that federal $$$$.

Meanwhile, Monday's threatened walkout by CTA workers has been called off, but the underlying problem still not solved - boneheads in Springfield still need to agree on funding. For all the hard work Julie Hamos has done, I'd like to see Santa reward her (and all of us) with an agreement on funding that will actually last a while and not be another band-aid.

Let's take time out from the holiday rush to call, e-mail or fax our legislators one more time, then hope for a Christmas miracle.


An oldie but still funny from Sesame Street

Thursday, December 13, 2007

score one for the taxpayers

On Wednesday, Cook County board members voted against Todd Stroger's mega tax increase proposal. I put in my $0.02 with the board members on that one, and I know plenty of other folks did, too.

But Stroger doesn't give up. When is this clown going to get a clue that he needs to make some cuts closer to home before people are willing to throw more money his way?

automatic confessional machine

The Catholic Church has installed a new automatic confessional machine.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

dig it!

It's time to break out the snow shovels. Even if you just go from your door to your car, you need to shovel the sidewalk across the front of your property. Many of your neighbors depend on having clear sidewalks to walk to and from the train or bus, the grocery store, etc. It's also required by Chicago law. Please be a good neighbor and keep your sidewalks clear and safe.
Chicago Municipal Code10-8-180 Snow and ice removal.

Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person having charge of any building or lot of ground in the city abutting upon any public way or public place shall remove the snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of such building or lot of ground.

If the sidewalk is of greater width than five feet, it shall not be necessary for such person to remove snow and ice from the same for a space wider than five feet.

In case the snow and ice on the sidewalk shall be frozen so hard that it cannot be removed without injury to the pavement, the person having charge of any building or lot of ground as aforesaid shall, within the time specified, cause the sidewalk abutting on the said premises to be strewn with ashes, sand, sawdust, or some similar suitable material, and shall, as soon thereafter as the weather shall permit, thoroughly clean said sidewalk.

The snow which falls or accumulates during the day (excepting Sundays) before 4 p.m. shall be removed within 3 hours after the same has fallen or accumulated. The snow which falls or accumulates on Sunday or after 4 p.m. and during the night on other days shall be removed before 10 a.m.
(Prior code § 36-19)

10-8-190 Liability for civil damages.

Any person who removes snow or ice from the public sidewalk or street, shall not, as a result of his acts or omissions in such removal, be liable for civil damages. This section does not apply to acts or omissions amounting to wilful or wanton misconduct in such snow or ice removal.
(Prior code § 36-20)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

green for Christmas

As more people considering the ecological implications of various choices in their lives, they are presented with more dilemmas. This article in the San Francisco Chronicle raises some good points about the pros and cons of real vs. artificial Christmas trees.

I love the smell of a fresh tree, and I've occasionally gone to a tree farm to cut one. I think it's an ecological extravangance. There are enough decent looking fake trees out there to offer us some good options. A good fake can last many years if it's treated gently. Buying a real wreath can give the scent of a real tree with a much smaller ecological impact.

What's your $0.02 on the issue?