Friday, February 29, 2008

a life cut short

Sunday morning's fatal bicycle-SUV collision was a tragedy for many people: Matt Manger-Lynch, his friends and family, witnesses, the driver, and the local bike community. The comments after the Tribune article are an interesting collection of thoughts, some insightful, some clueless. The Trib ran a good follow-up piece today.

The cyclist was part of an local alleycat race, an underground race series in its 10th year here in Chicago. To give you a sense of what it is, here's a video of one stage of last year's race and a collection of maps, standings and such from previous years.

It started as a bike messenger phenomenon and spread to a hardcore segment of the local bike community, appealing to competitive thrill seekers. I did not know Matt personally, but he sounds like someone who had a lot of creative talent and potential. I know some very creative people who have an element of risk taking in their personalities that gives a unique edge to their work.

When a cyclist chooses to ignore a red light, there may be consequences from that choice, possibly fatal crash, but at a minimum one more alienated driver who will later go on to menace other cyclists. Interactions between cyclists and drivers affect both sides. That individual's choice may affect an unknown number of people for an infinite period of time.

Riding in the race and running that red light was a gamble. Matt chose to take that risk, and he lost to a Chevy Suburban. None of us will know how many people may be affected by this tragic accident. None of us will get to see what he could have done with the rest of his life.

funky Friday 2

Pow!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

the plop thickens

The sooner they indict Blago, the better

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

candidate safety

Those of us who remember 1968 don't want to imagine reliving some of the horrors of that year, but this excellent, thought-provoking New York Times article puts it into perspective.

environmental scorecard

Geez, I was about to write a piece on the League of Conservation Voters' Environmental Scorecard, but Tom beat me to it. He covered the same ground I was intending to write about, so I'll refer you to his well-written post.

Tubesday two-fer

Here's a two-fer for your Tubesday from XTC, a rather underappreciated band: Respectable Street and Generals & Majors - a rather Pythonesque video

Friday night in Pullman

PULLMAN CIVIC ORGANIZATION PRESENTS
BLACK HISTORY MONTH EVENTS - FEBRUARY, 2008


Friday, 2/29, 7pm - Greenstone Church (Pullman United Methodist)
11201 S. St. Lawrence Ave.

HISTORICAL GOSPEL CONCERT - Notable gospel performers and local talent performing a historical trip using medium of Gospel music; Pre-Civil War thru modern days

No admission fees charged; Free-will offerings accepted

In cooperation with the following entities: Pullman Civic Organization; Historic Pullman Foundation; State of Illinois, Pullman Historic Site; Bronzeville/Chicago Black History Society; Pullman United Methodist/Greenstone Church, Rev. Jerrode Keys, pastor.

Monday, February 25, 2008

a new home for jazz in Rogers Park

The Trib ran a good piece on the Morse Theater redevelopment project. If you'd like to see the 49th ward 11/07 press release about the project (including sketches), click here. I'm looking forward to checking the place out when it opens.

time to say no to Stroger again

The Cook County Board is scheduled to vote on Todd Stroger's latest attempt at highway robbery, in the face of his adamant refusal to cut any of his cronies' job or other bloat in the budget. He wants to add more bloat. Nine board members are saying no to Stroger's bloated budget and proposed tax increase. Please feel free to encourage the others to say no, or at least enough of them to keep this mess from passing.

Call any or all of these folks, who have been inclined to approve the Toddler's bloated mess of a budget.

* William Beavers, South Side and south suburbs: 312-603-2067 and 773-731-1515.

* Jerry "Iceman" Butler, Near South Side, south suburbs: 312-603-6391.

* Earlean Collins, West Side, west suburbs: 312-603-4566 and 773-626-2184.

* John Daley, South and Southwest Sides, southwest suburbs: 312-603-4400.

* Joseph Mario Moreno, Southwest Side, Cicero: 312-603-5443 and 773-927-7154.

* Joan Patricia Murphy, south suburbs: 312-603-4216 and 708-389-2125.

* Deborah Sims, South Side, south suburbs: 312-603-6381 and 708-371-4251.

* Robert Steele, Near North, West and South Sides: 312-603-3019 and 773-722-0140.

And, of course, Todd Stroger himself. His numbers are 312-603-6400 and 312-603-5500.

not again

I wish that Ralph Nader would stick to consumer advocacy. I really hope he doesn't screw up yet another election.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

clash of holiday traditions

Easter comes early this year, so Holy Week clashes with St. Patrick's Day. So that's why the South Side Irish parade is so early this year...

Chicago bungalow seminars 2/26 & 2/27

On Tuesday 2/26 and Wednesday 2/27, seminars on Chicago bungalow landscaping will be happening in a couple of different neighborhoods. The 2/26 seminar is at Ridge Historical Society, 10621 S. Seeley. The 2/27 seminar is at West Belmont Public Library, 3104 N. Narragansett. Each will start about 7:00 p.m. and last until about 8:30.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

not in Chicago

If you're not a fan of Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid, I've found the web site for you. The mascot is priceless. ;)

walking on sunshine

Just wanted to share a song that fits the day. I feel a need to celebrate, since we actually have sun and a temperature above freezing. Short of actual spring, this'll do for me.

Here's the original version and here's a very silly punk cover version. Yeah, they're both silly videos.

Friday, February 22, 2008

funky Friday

Bootsy Collins Stretchin' out

way off course

Here's a nature story of a bird found far from its normal range. Fortunately, this one appears to have a happy ending.

adjusting to reality

I wish that Metra would do this for some runs that are consistently late, especially inbound UP North runs in the evening. The honesty would be refreshing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

lunar eclipse tonight

Tonight's full moon will get colorful, thanks to a total lunar eclipse—the last one until Dec. 2010. A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes through the Earth's shadow, giving it a reddish cast. Totality and maximum beauty happens at 9:26 pm CST. The moon starts to go into shadow about 8 p.m. CST.

Look for another color. Some observers of recent lunar eclipses have noted a flash of turquoise on either side of totality, around 9:01 p.m. CST and 9:51 p.m. CST.

No special equipment is required, just your own eyes. Go outside and take a look.

Click here for more detail and graphics in a NASA bulletin.

how green is your laundry?

Take this Sierra Club online quiz. How did you do? I found a few areas when I can improve.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Moanday Moanday

Here's a three-fer from Devo to start off the week. This sums up last week. I hope it doesn't speak for this week as well. Click here, then here, and finally here.

still winter

Yes, it's still winter. If it snows again, it may not melt for a while. Please clear your sidewalks. Lots of folks need to walk their dogs, walk to the train, walk to school, etc. I've slipped and fallen and I know that plenty of others have, too. Please be a good neighbor and make your sidewalks safe for everyone who needs to walk. We shouldn't be forced to walk in the street to find clear pavement.

Any words I might have for all those folks who never clear their sidewalks would be unprintable here.

If you regularly clear your sidewalk, THANK YOU!!!

Chicago Municipal Code 10-8-180

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 four p.m. shall be removed within three hours after the same has fallen or accumulated. The snow which falls or accumulates on Sunday or after four p.m. and during the night on other days shall be removed before ten a.m.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

coming soon to Austin

Here's something new coming to Austin, TX. Lance Armstrong's project sounds like a cross between the Millennium Park bike station and Kozy's old downtown location, but in a better, more central location. Very cool. I'd love to see another bike station in Chicago, perhaps near Union Station.

BTW, if you've never been to our bike station, you might want to check it out. There's a free section, and a priority section for members, who also have access to showers and lockers. Bike repairs and rentals are available. They stay open on summer evenings for some special events. If you work nearby and are thinking about commuting by bike this year, it might make your life a little easier.

Friday, February 15, 2008

still winter

Yes, it's still winter. If it snows again, it may not melt for a while. Please clear your sidewalks. Lots of folks need to walk their dogs, walk to the train, walk to school, etc. I've slipped and fallen and I know that plenty of others have, too. Please be a good neighbor and make your sidewalks safe for everyone who needs to walk.

If you regularly clear your sidewalk, THANK YOU!!!

Chicago Municipal Code 10-8-180

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 four p.m. shall be removed within three hours after the same has fallen or accumulated. The snow which falls or accumulates on Sunday or after four p.m. and during the night on other days shall be removed before ten a.m.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

freedom of speech revisited

A group of Danish newspapers have reprinted the Prophet Muhammad cartoon that sparked rioting in Muslim countries 2 years ago and created a storm of controversy. The occasion for revisiting the issue was the arrest of 3 suspects accused of plotting to kill the cartoonist who drew the bomb-turban caricature, the most controversial of the group.

Many considered the cartoons a slur against Islam. There is no doubt that they are inflammatory, individually and as a collection. In the context of ongoing terrorist threats, I appreciate the fact that those newspaper editors had the guts to print the cartoons, now and 2 years ago. I don't believe that American editors printed them (please comment if you are aware of any who did).

Sometimes free speech loses out to political correctness in America. The voice of moderate Islam tends not to be heard above the din of the extremists. What little is heard suggests that the majority are horrified by the bloody actions of the jihadists. Similarly, moderate Christianity is somewhat invisible in American media, taking a backseat to the antics of the religious right. Free speech helps to keep some balance and ensure that unpopular opinions can still be voiced.

overkill

Here's a blast from the musical past, courtesy of Scrubs...

Deadheads for Obama

Cool reason for a Grateful Dead reunion.

Wolcott development proposal on hold

An interesting turn of events. Perhaps Joe is actually concerned about his constituents holding his feet to the fire for problem developments. He sent the following message as a follow-up to Monday night's community meeting about the proposal.
---------------

I have placed on an indefinite hold the proposal for a construction of a three-story, 23-unit condominium development at 7525 N. Wolcott. The site is currently occupied by Amber Auto.

As you know, I scheduled a community meeting last night to review the proposal. I decided to put the project on hold when the developer, Dan Schwegel, refused to guarantee he would develop the project as proposed if he received the requested zoning change. Without that assurance, I will not support a zoning change for the property.

I will let you know if Mr. Scwhegel wishes to develop his project as proposed at some point in the future.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Rogers Park Garden Group meeting 2/12

Is winter getting you down? Do you feel like gardening season will never arrive? Check out the Rogers Park Garden Group meeting on Tuesday 2/12. The meeting theme is Digging for Ideas. This will be the first gathering for 2008.

Exchange catalogs (bring gardening catalogs to exchange if you have them!), find out what's in store for future programs and new initiatives, talk about the 2008 community garden project, and get some great tips to get you started successfully gardening in 2008. You can renew your membership too.

It's happening at Charmers Cafe (NW corner of Jarvis & Greenview) 7-9 p.m.

funny business

Since Aaron's McGruder's success with "The Boondocks," I've often wondered why the comics pages of our newspapers typically have a quota of one strip by a black cartoonist. I enjoyed reading "Candorville" in the Trib, then saw it disappear in favor of "Watch Your Head."

Today several cartoonists are doing a "draw-in" addressing the topic. I think they've got a good point. Why should there be any quota on the funny pages? The work of many talented artists is going largely unseen due to editors who think that all cartoons by artists of color are basically the same. Comic strips should be chosen by quality, not the race of the characters or artists.

-----------
updated 2/11

To see all the cartoons in one place, click here.

CBS News did a feature on this protest. Click here to go to the list of videos and select the 2/10/08 item "Cartoonists Get Serious" to watch it.

the joy of co-workers

A friend shares this story:

There was one woman I worked with at a previous job who wore a perfume so strong that I could smell AND taste it from the next room! I could tell she had come in the
back door before I ever saw her because the perfume permeated the office. It was awful. I don't know the scent but it was really strong. Sometimes she came in smelling like Right Guard spray deodorant. Yech!


Do you have any good co-worker tales to share?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

riding a dead horse

Every so often I get an e-mail funny that seems especially appropriate for its time. Here's one I got last week:

Dakota tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in business we often try other strategies with dead horses, including the following:

1. Buy a stronger whip.
2. Change riders.
3. Say things like "This is the way we always have ridden this horse."
4. Appoint a committee to study the horse.
5. Arrang to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
6. Increase the standards to ride dead horses.
7. Appoint a tiger team to revive the dead horse.
8. Create a training session to increase our riding ability.
9. Compare the state of dead horses in today's environment.
10. Change the requirements to declare "This horse is not dead."
11. Hire contractors to ride the dead horse.
12. Harness several dead horses together for increased speed.
13. Declare that "No horse is too dead to beat."
14. Provide additional funding to increase the horse's performance.
15. Do a CA Study to see if contractors can ride it cheaper.
16. Purchase a product to make dead horses run faster.
17. Declare the horse is "better, faster, and cheaper" dead.
18. Form a quality circle to find uses for dead horses.
19. Revisit the performance requirements for horses.
20. Say this horse was procured with cost as an independent variable.
21. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position.

[source unknown]

kittie conversations

amusing video in 2 versions: cat and English

Friday, February 08, 2008

100% b.s.

Good riddance to Mitt Romney's presidential bid. I won't miss his brand of fakery.

theater thoughts for black history month

If you'd like to check out a play, here are a few thoughts from the Trib. Here's a good one at the movies....

snow job

This winter just doesn't get any better. The latest news is that the city of Chicago has nearly used up its budget for snow removal in LESS THAN A MONTH. I have to wonder why they would budget just over half of what they spent last year, which was not an extreme winter. The other oddity is that they've nearly used up this low budget, but they still have plenty of road salt, unlike many other local municipalities.

Community meeting on Wolcott development proposal on 2/11

Alderman Joe Moore has announced a public meeting to present a proposal for a new 3-story, 23-unit condo development at 7525 N. Wolcott. The site is currently occupied by Amber Automotive, an car repair business.

The meeting is scheduled for Monday 2/11, 7:00 p.m., at Jordan Community School, 7414 N. Wolcott.

Dan Schwegel, owner of the property and the car repair business, will present the proposal, along with his architect, Roula Alakiotou, and his attorney, William Hennessey.

The lot is 16,145 square feet in size and is zoned C1-2. Mr. Schwegel plans to close his car repair business and modify the existing building for residential use. The current zoning would permit the construction of 16 dwelling units. The owner seeks approval for a zoning change to RM4.5, which would allow 23 dwelling units on the site.

If you want to see some sketches, check out a facade rendering , floor plan, or south & west views.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

"magic" pens

Geez, I still can't believe that "magic" pen business....

a nice surprise

I was happy to read this news about the state's attorney race. Congratulations to Anita Alvarez.

this Sunday in Pullman

PULLMAN CIVIC ORGANIZATION PRESENTS
BLACK HISTORY MONTH EVENTS - FEBRUARY, 2008


* Sunday, 2/10, 3pm - State Historic Site @ Hotel Florence;
11111 S. Forrestville Ave.

STORY OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD IN ILLINOIS
- Renowned author Glennette Tilley Turner/lecture, discussion, period artifacts/exhibit, refreshments

No admission fees charged; Free-will offerings accepted

In cooperation with the following entities: Pullman Civic Organization; Historic Pullman Foundation; State of Illinois, Pullman Historic Site; Bronzeville/Chicago Black History Society; Pullman United Methodist/Greenstone Church, Rev. Jerrode Keys, pastor.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

who's the genius

...who actually tried to sell this "magic pen" crap to people voting in the 42nd precinct? Sheesh! Can't they get the right supplies to the precincts?

Monday, February 04, 2008

YES WE CAN

an inspirational video

election day: a view from across the pond

If you're interested in a non-U.S. perspective on our elections, click here.

election of judges

If you'd like some information about judges who are up for election tomorrow instead of being clueless about the long list of names, click here for Chicago Bar Association recommendations on judge candidates.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

the first step

Averting the January 20 transit funding doomsday was only the first step in an uphill climb. Our transit system desperately needs to be brought into the 21st century. Here are a few thoughts on where we stand and where we need to be: 1, 2, 3

voter guide

The primary on 2/5 is fast approaching. Have you decided who you will vote for?

Here are a few resources:

Chicago election info: polling places, voter registration, and other useful info

Cook County judges

Cook County judges rated on their qualifications

UK cyclists monitoring air pollution

Here's a creative use of technology, using cyclists' cell phones to help monitor air pollution.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

rain barrels

The MWRD is selling rain barrels at a reasonable price starting this month. Click here for ordering information.

a thought for Tuesday's ballot

Toni has presented many of the thoughts I had on Larry Suffredin and then some. Well said, Toni. There are many reasons why he shouldn't be Cook County State's Attorney. But who should get our vote?

Consider Anita Alvarez, who has been recognized for her outstanding work in the State's Attorney's office. She's proven that she's got the right stuff to successfully prosecute violent criminals and put them away. We don't need some political hack. We someone who can get the job done.

Friday, February 01, 2008

just desserts

This news story from Arizona is a great example of justice being served.
------------------
From AP.com
January 24, 2008

TUCSON, Arizona (AP)
-- A judge sentenced a woman to nearly the maximum prison term for negligent homicide after hearing a recorded jail conversation in which she made light of the bicyclist she killed.

Melissa Arrington, 27, was convicted two months ago of negligent homicide and two counts of aggravated DUI in connection with the December 2006 death of Paul L'Ecuyer.

She could have gotten as few as four years behind bars, but Superior Court Judge Michael Cruikshank sentenced her Tuesday to 10½ years -- one year shy of the maximum.

Cruikshank said he found a telephone conversation between Arrington and an unknown male friend, a week after L'Ecuyer was killed, to be "breathtaking in its inhumanity."

During the conversation, the man told Arrington that an acquaintance believed she should get a medal and a parade because she had "taken out" a "tree hugger, a bicyclist, a Frenchman and a gay guy all in one shot."

Arrington laughed. When the man said he knew it was a terrible thing to say, she responded, "No, it's not."

Assistant Public Defender Michael Rosenbluth told the judge his client has never been "cold, callous or flippant" about L'Ecuyer's death and has always felt remorseful.

Arrington said words couldn't express how she feels, and that once she's out of prison, she hopes to share her story with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

L'Ecuyer, 45, was riding his bike the night of December 1, 2006 when Arrington swerved off the road, hit him and then continued for 800 feet before stopping, according to Deputy Pima County Attorney Jonathan Mosher.

Arrington's blood-alcohol content was .156 percent, nearly double Arizona's .08 legal limit. She had been driving on a suspended license for a prior DUI.

DIY crosswalk

Sometimes municipalities who fail to act in the interests of public safety don't appreciate it when members of the public step up to do it themselves.

putting it into perspective

My hat is off to Montel Williams.