Wednesday, April 30, 2008

tagged gulls

On Sunday I was walking across the State Street bridge and noticed a gull on top of a light pole. This gull looked a bit odd. It had orange flaps sticking out from either side of its back. I did a search online and found this and this. I'm curious to find out if this research project is successful. It sure would be nice to have fewer beach closings.

If you see a banded or tagged bird, you can assist with research by observing details (type of bird, color of band or tag, any visible number on tag, date and location) and reporting them here.

IRS and identity theft

Identity theft is hurting people in a new way. Thieves are stealing tax refunds. Unfortunately, data breaches have become more common. Here's an FTC web page with information on computer security and identity theft.

Monday, April 28, 2008

a sure way to save on gas

If you do at least a moderate amount of highway driving, this makes sense, as long as you can deal with the leadfoot maniacs.
If you do most of your driving on city streets, try this: take it a little easier on acceleration and start slowing down a little sooner
before red lights or stop signs. Jackrabbit starts followed by going as fast as traffic allows, then hitting the brakes at the last second burns more gas.

Moanday musical thought

if only...

future Darwin Awards candidates?

These clowns might have what it takes to win that dubious honor.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rogers Park Garden Group meeting 4/29

The next Rogers Park Garden Group meeting will feature “Fruits of an Urban Yard,” a presentation by Allen Cosnow. He's a long-time member of the Midwest Fruit Explorers. He will talk about dwarf trees, grafting, and fruits you can grow for your kitchen garden. The meeting will be Tuesday 4/29, 7 pm at Rogers Park Presbyterian Church, Fellowship Room, 7059 N. Greenview.

inspiration

I find Melissa Stockwell's story inspiring.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

post-Earth Day thought

Putting your stuff into the recycling bin is only half of the picture. Buying products with recycled content is the all-important other half. Recycling doesn't work if there is no market for the recycled materials. Paper towels are a good example. Here's a comparison test of several recycled paper towel brands vs. Bounty.

the buffalo theory

Here's an amusing post on the Uptown Avenger. Cheers!

election humor

If this presidential campaign marathon is wearing you down, you might enjoy these bits of video humor from The Onion: on issues of interest to voters, and electronic voting results.

Friday, April 25, 2008

funky Friday 10

Cha cha TGIF!!!

news from Jargowood

Here's a bit of news, courtesy of Jargowood Block Club, in slightly condensed form... We have good news and bad news from the Touhy Park Advisory. We had reports this week regarding gang activity which seemed to originate in Touhy Park on Mon 4/21. The story is a little more complicated.

One week earlier, Mon 4/14 - there was an incident in Touhy Park involving some kids (age 14-15-16) from Pottawattomie coming over and harrassing somewhat younger kids playing soccer at Touhy Park. The local adults and kids cleared the park and took shelter in the fieldhouse. The resident community activist called 911 - police came after the intruders departed. A lecture was made (in Spanish by the local community activist) to the adults and kids - take out your cell phone and call 911...everybody had a cell phone but somehow nobody was confident enough to call 911, leading to a Community Policing seminar and discussed at the 4/16 2423 Beat meeting.

One week later, Mon 4/21, another incident occurred also involving some kids (age 14-15-16) from Pottawattomie harrassing kids at Touhy Park. This spilled over into residential streets nearby...this time, lots of people called 911. Two bicycles were stolen in Touhy Park and ridden over to Pottawattomie...but police responded quickly, victims stepped forward and suspects were identified and arrested at Pottawattomie. Both kids are local residents with records of juvenile offenses.

Bad news: gangs are apparently holding Spring Initiation Events. Good news: police are responding appropriately....strong police presence at Touhy Park in response to these incidents. The good news is that people are using 911 to report incidents in progress. So far, shootings have not been involved.

More good news: Touhy Park participated in Earth Day on 4/19....trees mulching and general spruce-up for the park. Lawrence Hall sent a group of young men (residents of the local group homes) and two supervisors and they worked hard mulching away. Charmers donated several vats of coffee, the Hostess truck dropped of sweets things, and Dominicks donated pizza. This summer in Touhy Park: Shakespeare in the park, movie night and a music concert....and other park activities for kids and adults.

If you want to have positive activities in Touhy Park, come out and support the Park Advisory Committee and the Park Supervisor. Come out and be a positive presence in the park. Put your dog on a lease and your kid in the stroller and walk around and thru the park. Bring a baseball and toss it to your kid.....or spouse....or friend. Bring your cell phone and use it to call 911 if needed. Don't let the punks own the park.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

save XP

Interesting. Something I thought I'd never see – users pleading with Microsquish to save an operating system. Several friends have mentioned that they've put off buying a new Windows computer because they couldn't get a non-Vista machine. Some have turned to Apple, now that Macs are designed to run both the Apple OS and Windows. And now Microsoft is not ruling out an extension of XP availability. Stay tuned...

state recall amendment

If this recall proposal passes, it would be long overdue.

some wise words

The Trib recently ran a fine bit of writing by R. Eugene Pincham, Secrets from the 13th juror. It's worth taking a few minutes to read.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

bongs away

priceless!

controversial documentary

If you're interested in the problem of election fraud, you might want to check out The Uncounted on 4/29.

where were the parents?

That's my first question when I read about the circumstances leading up to this incident. What were a 15-year-old boy and an 18-year-old boy doing out on the street, drinking, at midnight?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Starbucks vs. independent coffeehouses

I still miss Don's. Yeah, I know the place has been gone a while, but there's nowhere else in the neighborhood that comes close for unique atmosphere and a fun, funky place to hang out. Here's an interesting take on how Starbucks affects the independents in neighborhoods.

reducing light pollution

Here's an excellent example of a municipality taking a positive step to reduce their impact on the environment.

Friday, April 18, 2008

funky Friday 9

one from Ziggy Marley: Love is my religion - TGIF!!!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

a candid moment (part 2)

If you read yesterday's post about the Google Maps pictures and how people interpret them, here's part 2. I went back and looked at the pictures again to consider the details.

Before you read further, take a minute to write down your interpretation of the pictures.

The simple act of a black man talking to the driver of the car could be just that - someone talking to a neighbor or giving directions. We can't really see the driver.

I took another look at the pictures and thought about why it looked like a drug deal to me. The positions of the pedestrian's hands and plain white t-shirt and dark denim baggy shorts did it. His clothing is the current "uniform" of dealers and gang bangers who want to make themselves harder to identify by looking alike. Most of the guys in the picture are standing around wearing the same "uniform." If they wore clothing that made them look like regular individuals, I might interpret the scene a bit differently.

The pedestrian by the car could be a regular guy, but the style he's chosen has bad connotations for many people. Seeing someone approach a car and seeing their hands go to the open window or seeing two people approach each other and exchange something hand-to-hand says "drug deal" to me, after spending years in neighborhoods where there is a lot of drug dealing. Notice what looks like another hand-to-hand by two guys in the background, then one of them walking away.

If I had never spent time in neighborhoods where rampant drug dealing (and related violence) is an issue, I probably wouldn't have a clue about this. It might just look like a random conversation. After seeing way too much of runners, lookouts, window drops, stash spots, etc., it's hard to view a scene like this with unbiased eyes.

What's your interpretation? Please share a comment on your perspective.

how we relate

Here's a recent Tim Jackson cartoon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

a candid moment (part 1)

A few days ago I got an e-mail item that seems to be circulating widely online. It's about a street scene captured by the Google Maps cameras. I passed it on to a few people. Most of the responses I've gotten have been along the lines of "wow, Big Brother really is watching."

What struck me most was the contrast between the attitudes of the friend I received it from and one friend who received it from me. Both are middle aged black men with white collar jobs living in Chicago. Beyond that, there are many differences between them that affect their views. One is African-American, the other is from an immigrant family. One grew up in a single parent family, the other with both parents. One lives in an area where drug dealing is rampant, the other lives in a slightly quieter location.

One has a lot of resentment towards black men who, as he puts it, "make everything worse for the rest of us." I can't say I blame him for getting frustrated for DWB (driving while black) traffic stops and the like.

The other tends to look at situations calmly and rationally. He commented: "Why is a scene with a black man talking to someone in a car along the street always considered a drug deal? Last week, I stopped in my car to talk to a neighbor. I wasn't dealing drugs." I can see his point.

I went back and looked at the pictures again and thought about the details. Take another look, then come back tomorrow for part 2 of this post.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

a new way to park bikes

This is a creative space-saving solution for high density bike parking areas.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

JazzCity: celebrating New Orleans - Lucky 7s on 4/18

Want to check out a cool free jazz concert at Kilbourn Park? Click here for info.

Friday, April 11, 2008

green choices - garden mulch

When you're buying mulch for your garden this year, consider a choice you can make to save Louisiana’s cypress forests, which help to protect Louisiana against flood damage. Don’t buy cypress mulch. Our locally produced cocoa shell mulch (from Chicago’s Blommer Chocolate factory) is a more sustainable alternative and is available at many local garden centers.

city's new approach on vacant properties

An article today says that the Chicago may require better security on vacant properties if a proposed ordinance passes. I think this idea is a mixed bag at best. If passed and enforced, it could make things safer for the neighbors of vacant buildings, who are sometimes endangered by squatters and illegal activity in those buildings. It could also put increased financial stress on the owners of those buildings.

I have to wonder if this will ultimately accelerate the number of teardowns. My gut feeling is that this represents future urban renewal in disguise. Many of the buildings that could be threatened are graystones or bungalows - categories of homes that are currently the subject of preservation initiatives. If the ordinance passes and financially strapped owners lose their bungalows and graystones to the city, will those properties be saved or lost? Your $0.02?

funky Friday 8

Today's two-fer is from Erykah Badu: Honey and didn't cha know

Sunday, April 06, 2008

an appropriate presidential memorial

This seal would be an appropriate memorial to the fine mess that Shrub is leaving to us.

back on the bike

I've been riding my bike on and off throughout the winter, when the weather and my cranky knee have permitted. But most of those have been short rides - too short. I got out today for my longest ride so far this year: 21 miles. It felt great. Have you gotten back on the bike yet this year? Or have you not ridden in years but are thinking about it? It's never too soon to start.

Friday, April 04, 2008

40 years gone by

It's hard to believe that it's already been 40 years since Martin Luther King was killed. Some of King's friends remember the day here.

I was just a kid in the spring of 1968, but I remember it well. We were living in a top floor apartment near Palmer Square, just a few miles from riots and fires on West Madison. We could see the smoke and sometimes the flames, even from ground level standing on the parkway in the middle of Kedzie. I was too young to fully comprehend it, but I was scared. I remember how the clouds of smoke billowed into the sky, and how nervous my parents were.

The devastation of that year is still visible on the west side, from the loss of buildings destroyed during the rioting and from later losses of buildings that became dilapidated because the neighborhood had never recovered since the rioting. A vibrant business district was destroyed. Parts of that area are just beginning to come back to life with new construction.

The images on this site make a profound statement about the extreme devastation of the riot zone. King's death and the rioting changed the lives of countless people.

Many of the goals that King sought still elude us. We have a long way to go before we have conquered the cultural mountain that is racism. King's dream should live on in our collective words and non-violent actions towards unity and equality. That is my dream.

funky Friday 7

Two from Sheila E: Sex Cymbal and a number with Tito Puente and his band.

Friday funny

There's been a bit of a flap about the recent series of AT&T ads featuring John Caponera's impersonation of Harry Caray. If you'd like a few laughs, click here for an interview with Harry Caray and John Caponera, where Harry is obviously amused. TGIF.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

unacknowledged losses

We don't hear much in most of the mainstream media about American military and civilian deaths in the Iraq. We hear even less about the civilian victims of this war. This program records those unacknowledged civilian losses. Their deaths matter just as much as the military death toll. If the war ended tomorrow, it wouldn't be a day too soon.

safe routes to school and transportation enhancements

Yesterday the Illinois House passed H.B. 4757 (the Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School Transparency Act) by a vote of 109-0. CBF worked with Rep. Elaine Nekritz to get this bill passed. Rep. Nekritz is a longtime friend of CBF and bicyclists.

H.B. 4757 creates procedures to ensure that IDOT uses federal monies to fund the best projects consistently and transparently. The current funding process for projects under these two programs is shrouded in mystery and lacks a schedule. To read more, click here.

To make this bill a law, its companion bill (S.B. 2311) must be passed in the Senate. Call your Senator to ask for support of S.B. 2311. Also, thank your Representative for passing H.B. 4757. Click here to find your elected officials if you're not sure who to contact.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

musical April Fool's weirdness

Leningrad Cowboys with the Red Army Choir performing "Sweet Home Alabama" - you gotta see it to believe it

snow days

a perspective on winter from central New Hampshire

reading under the influence 4/2

sounds like fun

sometimes less is more

An e-mail list that I'm on generates some very contentious exchanges at times. Some folks feel compelled to respond to everything that they feel strongly about. Others are selective about which they respond to. Some feel that a lack of response connotes agreement with an opinion that they find offensive.

I wish I had the luxury of time to respond to all topics of interest. Sometimes I prefer not to dignify some of the offensive stuff with a response. I encountered a posting today that spoke to this issue rather well. Your $0.02 is welcome here.