Monday, July 31, 2006

The Hospital: Day 1

Long day today at the hospital. Doctors offered us a ray of hope regarding Mom’s condition: she has an infection. Why is it potentially good news that she has an infection? Well, there is the possibility that her near comatose state may be caused by an infection causing the liver to act up. Perhaps, just maybe, getting rid of the infection might clear up her liver functions. So far, no organs including her already damaged liver have failed.

You see, when she was so sick two years ago, the cancer did a lot of damage to her liver before it was stopped in its tracks by treatment. She regained a normal life but the damage was already done to the liver. We’re hoping this infection, which we’re told involves a not very aggressive form of bacteria, can be cleared up and she can once again return to “normal”. It’s a long shot but we are grasping at the only straws within reach.

What makes us even more hopeful, and probably unrealistically so, is that she did stare down death once before. Can she hit the life/death Mega-Millions again? We have to believe she can. We’ll know in a couple of days. If things don’t work out she’ll be in the St. Johns Hospice by the end of the week. Oh, the stress.

Mom had a lot of visitors today. She was too out of it to know it though, except for her best friend who I think made a connection. Her friend was in to say goodbye and did so at length. At one point mom reached for her and looked at her. It was like she was either trying to hug her friend or maybe reaching out in a plea for help for her friend to pull her from the jaws of death. Either way, that was the most we’ve seen from mom in a couple of days now.

I’m also stuck by how nice it is to be from somewhere. I’ve never been all that big on having roots in any community but its obvious my family’s roots run pretty deep here as we keep running into medical personnel who we know. In fact, mom’s infectious disease doctor knows her personally through the community and church work my mom has done. It’s a great feeling to know the doctor who might be able to save your mothers life has a personal interest in making it so.

Today’s done, now tomorrow.


I just spent my third Sunday night THIS MONTH in an emergency room. I’ve not been the patient on any of those occasions –various family members have- but it’s getting old.

We had to take my mother in last night. She has taken a dramatic turn for the worse after cheating stage 4 breast cancer more than two years ago by “getting better” at a time doctors were giving her only a few weeks to live. She had returned to living a largely normal life until just a few weeks ago when things started going wrong again.

By the way, you may not think you know my mother but if you’ve ever laughed at any of the goofiness on this blog you can thank my mother who raised her kids to laugh at life and to spare no pun.

Anyway, I’m a bit tired today and blogging may be lighter than normal. Or not.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bush Bloody Bush

As long as I'm goofin' with videos on the net, check this one out...

Thanks to and Rx @

Friday, July 28, 2006

YouTube Does Lincoln

Can you tell I’m bored tonight? It wasn’t always thus; I had a great time at and on the lake this afternoon and then a nice dinner at CafĂ© Brio. But now…

I’m reduced to watching Abe Lincoln vids on YouTube. Here are some samples.

Abe’s head spins. Note: the video doesn’t start right away but you hear the music until it does.

Here’s a short one that could be the beginning of a “Visit the Land of Lincoln” tourism ad. But it, ummm, needs a little work.

And finally, Abe makes an appearance in this soon-to-be classic. The man continues to fight evil even today.

Vote for F-ing Me!

Well, well, well…the latest Illinois Times ‘Best of Springfield’ poll includes a category for Best Springfield Blog.

Even though I honestly don’t think I have the “best” Springfield blog, I strongly encourage you to go vote for The Eleventh Hour. Why? Well, cuz it would be a huge rush for me if I won. Isn’t that reason enough?

Here’s how you do it:

1. Click on this link.

2. Keep hitting the Next>> link at the bottom of the pages until you get to item #79 (OK, if you want to vote in other categories feel free but don’t lose focus!).

3. When you get to 79, enter “The Eleventh Hour” in the box.

4. Click Next>> one more time.

5. Enter your Name and E-mail address (or any name and e-mail address).

6. Click Done>>.

At this point your vote will help ensure I win and become King of Bloggers.

Note: I suspect this is a Main Stream Media plot to turn local bloggers against each other because we are such a threat to the conventional media. Well it may be working because I’ve been out tonight letting the air out of ThirtyWhat’s tires, smashing Marie’s mailbox and burning down Jerome Prophet’s garage. The rest get it tomorrow.

Hat tip to Unspelled (who currently has a flaming bag of dog poop on his front porch).

Friday Beer Blogging: Lebanon Edition

Here at Friday Beer Blogging we abhor the war now going on in Lebanon. It’s FBB policy to oppose the killing of people and breaking of things. And while we hear of the human cost of the war (killing people) and the destruction of some buildings (breaking things) we rarely hear about beer casualties. Yes, that’s right; beer bottles get broken in war. It’s a harsh reality. Some might say not as harsh as the human toll, and here at FBB we agree, but beer bottles are getting broken nonetheless.

Some of those breaking bottles must be of the Lebanese beer Almaza.

From the Almaza web site we learn some things but the first sentence, obviously written before recent events, is just sad:
We believe that the peace in the Middle East is about to happen. The Almaza Brewery already prepares new products resulting from alcoholic beer and non-alcoholic beer , intended to the young people and for all those wishing to avoid alcohol while appreciating the good taste of beer. This drink is natural anddoes not contain preservatives or other chemicals.

During the Nineties, Lebanese consumers have several times tested other beers. Their choice for the Almaza beer is prevailing. The Almaza’s quality and particular taste also succeeded in convincing the foreign consumers.

According to the evaluation guides of beer in the world like "The Beer Lover's Rating Guides" of the Bob Klein American team, regard the Almaza beer as one of the best pilsener beer in the world.

Actually, Almaza does have a good reputation from everything I’ve read on the net. Time to hit Friar Tucks to see if I can get Almaza here.

Let’s all drink an Almaza to peace.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Aerovons

Did the would-be American Beatles almost emerge from St. Louis in the 1960s? Check out this piece that NPR just ran. I’ve never heard of these guys and I guess few people have.


I don’t know about rainfall totals but the sheer number of rain events this month seems very unusual for July. We have to save at least one good storm for the State Fair, Ms. Nature.

Chicago: A Blagolympic Village

Chicago is still in the running for the 2016 Olympics:
DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- The U.S. Olympic Committee on Wednesday eliminated
Houston, Texas, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as candidate cities for the 2016 Olympics.

That leaves San Francisco and Los Angeles, in California, and Chicago, Illinois, in the running for what many consider to be America's best shot in years at landing a Summer Games.

The USOC won't decide until later this year whether it even will bid for the 2016 Games. If it does, it will pick a city by the end of next March. The International Olympic Committee will pick the winning site in 2009.
You know, if the Republican party in Illinois isn’t resurrected soon Rod Blagojevich may still be governor in 2016. This leads me to ask, how would a Blagojevich administration impact the games? Would they try to sell the Olympics operation to balance the budget? Would the children of all Olympians be eligible for free pre-school? Would only FOR (Friends of Rod) be hired to take tickets at the events? Would there be a special stem cell research competition? Discuss.

(Attention Rich Miller: feel free to use this as your question of the day.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bye Fidel-ity

Well, it’s taken 47 years and counting but the long struggle seems to be paying off. Fidel Castro is crumbling under mighty pressure from the U.S.:
BAYAMO, Cuba (Reuters) -- Fidel Castro, Cuba's leader since 1959, joked on Wednesday that he had no plans to be in power when he is 100 years old.

Castro, who will be 80 on August 13, made fun of his long-time ideological nemesis the United States in a speech in which he said more Cubans are reaching 100 thanks to the social services of his Communist government.

"But, our little neighbors to the north should not fear, I am not planning to be in office at that age," the left-wing firebrand said.
Hah! Take that commie! Resistance was futile after all, wasn’t it Beard-Man. Never fuck with Uncle Sam, he’ll wait you out.

Big Ass Pizza

Available right here in town. I really want to try one of these and then take the rest home.

The Trash Bag Conundrum

At home we are dealing with a 16 year-old who is convinced she is an adult and can now, even with two years of high school left, go out into the world and make it on her own. After all, she can earn her own money having now held a minimum wage job for three whole months. There’s simply no convincing her that it’s all a bit more complicated (and expensive) than simply getting her own place. I’ll spare you all the gory details but let’s just say this is a HUGE point of contention right now in Casa de Eleventh Hour.

Anyway, this reminds me of a small bit if wisdom I gleaned from my early adulthood that I have never forgotten. I was about 25 and working at a radio station in Northern Illinois. The station also liked to exploit, er, hire high school and college kids to run the automated programming after hours and on weekends. One of these kids was a rosy-cheeked boy named Darrin. He had been with the station for a year or so when he finally moved out of his parent’s house and got a place of his own. Not long after that day, he came into the station, sat across from me and sighed. He told me that living on his own was harder than he thought and in a very frustrated tone said, “You have to buy all these things you never think of. Like trash bags. Who ever thinks of having to buy TRASH BAGS!”

I don’t know why I’ve never forgotten that except it seemed to sum-up perfectly the nickel and diming life uses to sandblast your youthful dreams. Hell, at the time Darrin was experiencing his trash bag shock, I was enjoying the convenience of even having a trash CAN for the first time since I finally and completely struck out on my own a year or two earlier. When I got my first post-college (furnished) apartment I decided an actual trash can was a luxury and initially only used paper grocery sacks. At some point, I felt I had a extra few dollars for an actual trash can (and the required trash bags) and moved up in the waste disposal world. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about affording trash cans anymore but the lessons of starting out in life are going to stick with me forever. Too bad those experiences have no credibility at home these days.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hooked on Incumbents

It’s no secret that incumbents in Congress have little trouble getting re-elected. It’s a situation that is getting worse rather than better (worse, that is, if you think that there should be more turnover). Kevin Drum has come up with a list of reasons why the incumbency is so powerful. One of the items got my attention:
In a weird sort of vicious circle, Congress passes deliberately complex laws and then spends vast amounts of money on constituent services to help voters who are having trouble with federal bureaucracy. Because of this, constituent service has skyrocketed in the past few decades, and the beneficiaries of this service tend to vote for the people who helped them regardless of party affiliation or ideology.
Maybe my sarcasm or satire detector is busted again (see Furr, Pamela) but that seems like a strange allegation. Representatives deliberately passing complicated laws so that constituents will become dependent on their representatives to guide them through the bureaucratic maze? I haven’t heard that one before.

But even if you take the conspiracy out of the theory, are incumbents really getting that much of an election boost from constituents that have been helped through the lawmaker’s office? I know some people do use their Congressperson’s office to resolve issues at the federal level but I can’t imagine it’s enough to be decisive in any but the closest elections. And while having a Rep assist you in some problem may ingratiate you to them, will you base you vote on that? I, for example, wouldn’t hesitate to contact Ray Lahood’s office if need be, but I doubt I’ll ever vote for him. I consider it part of the job description of any member of Congress to serve individual constituents regardless of political views.

Monday, July 24, 2006


I love sarcasm. I eat it for lunch. I have sarcasm on my breath most of the day. Sarcasm is a way of life for me. Sarcasm is humor with an edge. And I’m not being sarcastic.

Having said that, I really find it hard to believe my comments last Friday concerning Pamela Furr’s show on WMAY were based on me not catching on that Pam was being sarcastic. She responds in the comments section of that post and also has a running conversation with Jerome Prophet on the same topic over at his place.

If you were being sarcastic, Pam, I apologize. But here are a couple of suggestions: don’t run with scissors and please do not employ sarcasm on an unsuspecting public again. And yes, I’m being sarcastic.

Update: I'm told that Pam just rebutted my post on the air and is now taking on JP’s comments. I missed it but it probably doesn’t matter since she may (or may not!) have been sarcastic. It’s so hard to tell.

Update II: Whether or not Pam is sarcasmicly-challenged does not address or negate my larger point: talk radio, up and down the dial, is a great disseminator of bad information. And yes, so are some blogs except blogs have much less influence than talk radio.

When The Sun Was Here

Wow. While gone over the weekend, I missed this post from Marie who reads to us from a 40 year-old copy of the long defunct Springfield Sun newspaper. I remember that paper. Wasn’t it delivered by paperboys (no, girls didn’t do that back then) with orange paper bags? I seem to remember that. Like Marie, I remember the big Sun ad on the side of the building across the tracks from the train station downtown. I’m thinking The Sun was actually headquartered in that building (now remodeled and part of Isringhausen Imports).

Old newspapers are so interesting. They’re a portal into the past.

We Gots the Biggest One

Well congratulations to the Blagojevich administration (and its predecessor) for getting Illinois to Number One in the nation!
SPRINGFIELD — The rebounding national economy meant extra cash in the coffers of nearly every state in the union.

Nearly every state, except Illinois.

Illinois was one of three states to finish the 2005 budget year with a deficit — of $3 billion, to be exact — in its central checking account, a [Rockford] Register Star analysis found. Illinois’ deficit was the largest in the nation. Wisconsin and North Carolina are also in the red; every other state finished with a surplus.
Read the whole RRS article for the complete rundown of the state’s fiscal atrocities. And you know what, I seriously doubt things would get any better under a new administration. The state’s finances have always been Teh Shit.

I certainly don’t have all the answers but consistently keeping tax increases off the table isn’t helping anything. The state’s bills, the money used to help all of us and those in need, need to be paid and paid timely. In some respects, we are all responsible for this since we like government services but really hate paying for them. And no, “cutting waste” won’t solve the problem unless you think most state programs are “waste”.

Casualties of War

I’m not even going to try to untangle the mess that is Israeli/Hezbollah conflict tearing up Lebanon right now. But something I saw on television last week has been bugging me.

I was watching one of the cable news channels Friday night and they had on some analyst who said while Hezbollah was targeting civilians with its rockets in northern Israel, the Israelis were taking care to avoid civilian casualties in its attacks on Lebanon. I suspect this is true at face value but who has actually inflicted more civilian casualties? It’s pretty clear that Israel has, no matter what its intentions. I just thought it was wrong of this guy to start making moral comparisons that mean nothing to those innocents who get in the way of fighting.

Update: Apparently the score is:
Hezbollah – has killed 17 civilians
Israel – has killed 350 civilians

In that same post, Cenk also makes some good points while trying to figure out who is and isn’t a terrorist.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Out of Town

Off to St. Louis for the weekend. Blog at ya later. Enjoy the weather!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Talk Show Misinformation

I haven’t picked on WMAY’s Pamela Furr for a while so let’s get right to it. And may I say, what I heard today on her show is what I consider the worst thing about talk shows: uncontested bad information.

Here’s what happened. Pam is talking about the stem cell issue and how everyone is being so mean to poor George W. Bush for having vetoed the measure passed by Congress allowing federal funds to be used for stem cell research. Poor, poor George.

Anyway, some guy calls up and informs us all that the frozen embryos at issue aren’t really embryos. Nope, this guy assures us that just eggs are frozen and they will be fertilized later and then the stem cells extracted. The point being that these resarchers are "creating life and tehn "killing it". Of course he is completely, 100% wrong on this; the frozen embryos do exist; embryos that are going to be destroyed eventually anyway. This process does not involve taking frozen eggs and fertilizing them with some donor’s sperm (who would this donor be anyway, the researcher?)

This caller, by the way, says nothing to establish his credentials. He didn’t identify himself or cite any sources. He simply stated his misinformation. And you know what? Pam is completely persuaded and even apologizes for have spread the allegedly erroneous information that we were talking about embryos. Unbelievable. I suppose because the “information” was supportive of her position, she was willing to accept it uncritically.

At this point I had to leave my car and wasn’t able to hear the rest of the show. I have no idea if anyone called in to correct the first caller (and now Pam). Maybe the truth reemerged later, I don’t know. But that’s the point, the misinformation gets out there and that’s that for some people. I suspect I’m not the only one who missed any follow-up corrections, if there were any at all.

Lesson: be skeptical of what you hear on these shows. Or read on blogs for that matter.

Disaster, I Tell You, Disaster!

The absolute funniest photoblogging of Wednesday’s storm can be found here (click on photos to enlarge if you aren’t smart enough to know that and since you are here you must be that smart so never mind).

Hat tip to Unspelled.

Friday Beer Blogging: Beer Hat Edition

Beer Hats, and I’m not talking about ball caps with beer logos. No, that’s lame. I’m talking hats that feature their inner (and outer) beerness. Actually, there is one thing lamer than beer logo hats: these things...

That one is so lame it doesn’t even have real beer in it!

Anyway, on with the fashion show. Try this one on for size:

Or this...

Or this beer cowboy hat:

OK, one more lame-o hat that I'm sure we've all seen at one time or another when we've stayed too late at a party -the 12-pak hat:

Hat enough? See ya’ll next week.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Springfield De-Jeweled

Uh-oh. From the SJ-R online:
Two Jewel-Osco stores in Springfield will close by early fall, but possibly could reopen under new ownership.
Employees of the stores at 2777 S. Sixth St. in Jewel-Osco Plaza, and 1903 W. Monroe St., in Fairhills Mall said corporate owners notified them this morning the stores would close in approximately 60 days, but that it was possible new owners would take over and remodel the stores.

The announcement came a little more than month after the stores were sold to a New York investment firm as part of a Supervalu Inc. buyout of the former Albertson's Inc. supermarket chain.
The Jewel at Fairhills is my least favorite grocery store in town for a lot of reasons.’s the store closest to where I live so I find myself in there fairly frequently. If the store doesn’t reopen that will leave exactly zero grocery stores in the northwest part of the city. Eagle and Schnucks are already gone. However, I have heard or read somewhere that it’s hoped a grocer will go in the new retail development planed for the northwest corner of Jefferson and Veterans.

WWAD (What Would Abe Do)

President Bush, today in front of the NAACP, says:
I consider it a tragedy that the party of Abraham Lincoln let go of its historic ties to the African American community," Bush said. "For too long my party wrote off the African American vote and many African Americans wrote off the Republican Party.
To which Kos responds:
Republicans didn't "write off" blacks, they used them as a demonizable prop to bring in the Dixiecrat vote into their fold.

And who is Bush to talk, given the disaster he ignored in New Orleans? He could rush to DC on a midnight flight to sign the "let's meddle in the Schiavo family's affairs" bill, but couldn't be bothered to cut his six-week vacation short when Katrina hit.

Abraham Lincoln would be no more a modern-day Republican than Strom Thurmond or Jesse Helms would be modern-day Democrats.
Hmmm…I agree with Kos to a point. In many ways, on many issues the major parties in this country have switched positions. But neither has done so completely, so neither is still in its "pure form" from some other era.

And remember, it was Representative Abraham Lincoln of Springfield who waged a lonely fight in Congress against what he saw as an unjust war against Mexico in the late 1840s. A real anti-war radical. Many modern Republicans would have called him a traitor if they had been around back then.

That said, I think its always dangerous to claim icons as ones own. Jesus, Jefferson, Abe – everyone wants to assume they would be on their team. My guess is that someone like Lincoln would not be elected to anything in this day and age. Goodness, his TV image would be terrible. So, while Kos’ larger point I think is accurate, I’ll stay away from speaking for the dead.

Prime Numbers

If you blog anonymously about some mathematical formula and it proves to be incorrect does that make you a cowardly hack with an anit-mathmatical agenda who should just let mainstream mathematicians handle such things?

Blago Dig With A Local Twist

Driving downtown this weekend I noticed (what I think is) a new sign on 6th Street pointing the way to the Governor’s Mansion. At first I thought it strange, but then I remembered who the governor is and that he might need help finding a place he rarely sees.

It's Getting Hot In Here...

I stand by my comments in this post but take a look at this:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first six months of 2006 were the warmest, on average, since the United States started keeping records in 1895, and global warming is a contributing factor, a U.S. climate expert said on Wednesday.

July, August and September are forecast to continue the hot trend over most of the United States, including the vast area of the country west of the Mississippi River, as well as New England, Florida and southern Alaska.
But again, we are talking averages here and not a specific heat wave.

Storm Stories

Yesterday's severe weather left Casa de 11th Hour in fine shape. This in sharp contrast to the damage cause d by the March tornado. The tornado, however, left my son’s playhouse untouched. Last night’s storm, that didn’t even tip over the patio furniture, blew the playhouse completely apart. No one was injured. My son presumably will be contacting contractors today.

Tow Heads

I think the whole towing thing is a big scam in Springfield. The city needs to set limits on what can be charged to get your car back when it's been towed.

Oh, and here’s another thing cash can buy you: getting your car unhooked before it’s towed. I have on acquaintance who parked in a lot near The Firehouse one night and when he returned to his car he found it already hooked to a tow truck. The operator of the truck found it within him to give my friend a break and put his car down –for a price. Cash, of course.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

War Lust

This is a very perceptive point Kevin Drum makes:
It is, often, not so much war itself that people long for, but the moral certainty that comes with it; thus the venom directed even toward those who are skeptical of war, let alone those who are resolutely opposed to it. It's not that the skeptics prevent the hawks from getting the war they want — they usually don't — but that they deny them the moral certainty they so desperately yearn for. And that cannot be tolerated.
That explains a lot. Go read the whole post.

Free Keith!

Hasn’t the man suffered enough? Sure, it’s been at his own hands but give a guy a break.
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (AP) -- The state of Arkansas is prepared to pardon Keith
Richards for being a reckless driver, 31 years later.

The state Parole Board on July 3 approved an application for clemency submitted on behalf of Richards, the 62-year-old guitarist for the Rolling Stones, by Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The board posted the official notice Tuesday, and the pardon will be forwarded to Huckabee within 30 days. When the governor signs it, it will clear Richards' record in Arkansas.

Richards was arrested July 5, 1975, as he, bandmate Ron Wood, a security guard and a fan traveled from Memphis, Tennessee, to Dallas, Texas. The group had stopped in Fordyce, Arkansas, for lunch, then got back on the road with Richards driving.

A Fordyce officer saw the car swerve -- Richards said later he bent to adjust the radio -- and stopped the vehicle. Police said they smelled marijuana and took the four to City Hall.

Richards was charged with reckless driving and possession of a concealed knife, and the fan was charged with possession of a controlled substance. The knife charge was dropped, and Richards pleaded guilty to reckless driving and paid a $162.50 fine.
See, he’s paid his debt to Arkansas society. Let him be free of the stigma of being a lawbreaker.

Last Word

I think the consensus among local bloggers in regards to the Dave Bakke piece in the SJ-R today is that we are not to be taken too seriously (see ThirtyWhat’s and John’s comments). Mostly we are here to have fun and occasionally vent. Ok, I vent more than occasionally but I have fun doing it.

Most bloggers don’t have a background in journalism and really don’t care to be viewed as journalists. I do have some background in news and believe me, that makes me all the more wary of trying to break news on my blog. I fully understand that I don’t have the time to do any serious reporting.

What I like to do is seek out stories that appear in other news outlets or blogs and pass them on to the few people who come here. I’m sharing things I find interesting and providing some added comments of my own. After all, everyone is entitled to my opinion!

Someday, Springfield may get a local version of Rich Miler and his Capitol Fax Blog. That would be interesting but it would have to be done by someone dedicated to the idea purely out of interest in doing such a project since there would be little money in it (as it is, I don’t think even Rich Miller is getting fabulously wealthy off his blog).

Still, we all like to blog about what we see and experience in our daily lives. Someday that experience might include something newsworthy. Stay tuned…

Anonymously Yours

Following up on the post below, if it were really important for someone know my full name (you know, for a libel suit or something) it wouldn’t be that hard to find out. It would probably take someone in law enforcement or a private detective or a good reporter an hour to find me. Consider some of the information I have divulged in the course of blogging here:

My first name
My age
The place and year I graduated from high school
The place and year I graduated from college
The place and year I graduated from grade school
At least two of my former employers
My city of residence
The school district I live in

In addition, I’m sure finding my computer through ISPs and other electronic means would enable someone to serve me with papers in no time. I’m far from immune to repercussions by virtue of my posting anonymously.

Bakke's World

Dave Bakke’s column about local blogging is in this morning’s SJ-R. It's a good one but they need to give him more column inches! Good on Bakke for doing the occasional blog column. I’ll probably have more to say about the column later but two things quickly come to mind:

1. I’m not sure anonymous blogging is really the threat alluded to in the column. Blogs, to be taken seriously, need to establish their own credibility. Most anonymous bloggers are anonymous to protect their own interests not to cowardly launch attacks at others. Anonymity in blogging greatly offends some people for reasons I don’t understand, but that’s just too bad. Don’t read the blog if you don’t like it. And here’s the funny thing, if I were blogging as Dave Smith, no one would think I was blogging anonymously. Smith, of course, is not my real name but who would know? (I want to see Dan Naumovich’s ID!)

2. I understand space considerations but it would be nice to include the URL’s of the blogs mentioned in a story or column. I mean, if the paper were writing about a physical place, they would include the street address for those interested. I submitted a comment in the online version of the coulmn that contains the addresses of the referenced blogs.

Update: Oops, link was bad, now good.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bush: Liebes-Attacke auf Merkel!

Even if, for some reason, you don’t think it’s creepy for a President of the United States to give quickie massages to other world leaders, you at least have to admit it’s unprofessional. George W. Bush thought nothing of giving German Chancellor Angela Merkel a squeeze.


Pay to Play –I Mean Live

This is a horrible practice. I just heard about this yesterday and I keep wondering why on earth our government is doing it.

...the State Department, in stark contrast to the Canadian government, is requiring U.S. citizens caught in Lebanon to pay for the cost of their evacuation. (Rep. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has since weighed in, saying that this was no time "for quibbling over payment for evacuation.")

I called up the State Department to ask about the policy. "We are not standing there with a cash box asking people to pay before they get on the boat," spokeswoman Janelle Hironimus told me. But if they don't pay (by check, no cash or credit cards accepted), or sign a form promising to pay, they don't go. It's the law: "Reasonable commercial air fare" shall be charged to all evacuees.

What if they're dead?

Same deal, she said. No freebies, even if you're not around to enjoy it.

Hironimus said that she didn't know the exact fee being charged. Evacuees are signing promissory notes. Those citizens will find out how much they owe when they get the bill in the mail.

And if a U.S. citizen is killed waiting to evacuate -- or because they stayed behind, unable to promise their government they could pay?

"We arrange with their families," Hironimus said. "We discuss their choices, but it’s paid for by the families."

Alive or dead they shouldn’t have to pay at all and I’m appalled that they are required by law to do so. When did this law get passed and why? Too many cheapskate tourists trying to get free passage by scheduling get-aways in potential war zones? It makes absolutely no sense to me.

Update: Apparently the White House has reversed it's position and will be waiving the costs. But only because everyone raised a stink, not becuse they thought there was really anything wrong with the concept, I'm sure.

Heat Wave

I don’t want to pick on anybody, especially one of Illinois' better bloggers (who does clarify his statements in his comments), but the heat wave we are currently experiencing is not, in itself, indicative of global warming. I bring this up because I’ve seen global warming tied to the recent heat in more than one place now.

Is the globe warming? Certainly and without a doubt it is. However, individual events like a heat wave or cold snap do not prove anything either way. We have heat waves most summers. In fact, I can remember years ago when we used to occasionally hit 100 degrees, something that seems not to happen as frequently anymore. None of this is proof or disproof of global warming. Global warming is actually rather subtle until it reaches a tipping point when seas begin to rise along with a host of other environmental changes, some of which we are already beginning to see. But this particular heat wave? Nah, just some hot weather. It’s the long term averages that matter.

Update: I just noticed the president of the Springfield School Board is using global warming to justify the idea of putting air conditioning in all Springfield schools.
"Maybe some people poo-poo the whole global warming thing, but I think things are getting hotter, and I think it's staying warmer longer in the year, and I think that as a board and as a community we need to come up with some kind of solution," said school board president Cheryl Wise.
Crap like this only trivializes the very serious issue of global warming.

Aluminum Overcast

I knew I wasn’t seeing things. Yesterday I thought I saw a B-17 flying low over the city but it was from a distance and I was a more than little tired.

Anyway, that’s the same B-17 I took a flight on in 1999 when it was here. Rides were only $350 then. They’re $425 now. However, it’s well worth the price if you’re a historical aviation buff. If that's too much, head out to airport to look at it on the ground and maybe take a tour. Otherwise, keep looking up today and tomorrow between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM as it will be flying over the city periodically during those times. Here's what you're looking for:

Also be sure to check out the photo gallery associated with the online SJ-R story. I have a bunch of similar photos from 1999. I really need to get my scanner working again; I have a backlog of all kinds of non-digital pics to share.

Update: At 11:14 - B-17 spotted heading south over the city

Monday, July 17, 2006

What’s Black and White and Read All Over?

Look for a different angle of the local blogging scene to be discussed in Dave Bakke’s SJ-R column on Wednesday. I think it will raise some interesting issues related to blogging locally. I’ll let Bakke’s column start the discussion and pick it up from there onWednesday.

In a related matter, Matt at Unspelled asks if regular writers of letters to the editor (in this case the SJ-R) aren’t the original bloggers. I think he’s on to something. However, ThirtyWhat thinks the original bloggers lived and blogged in caves.

When Over The Hill Isn’t Funny Anymore

So I’m in one of the west side party supply stores over the weekend to get stuff for my son’s birthday and I come across the “Over the Hill” section. You know, the black balloons and all the you’re-older-than-dirt joke stuff. Then I noticed that it’s all for those turning 30 or 40 or 50. That’s it. Nothing for 60 or 70 or older. Does this mean that getting older is no longer funny by the time you hit 60? Does this mean I’ve already passed two of the funny “over the hill” years and have only one left? After that birthdays are serious and not to joked about? After 50 people will go shopping for a birthday card for me and say, “Well, this one isn’t funny anymore because he REALLY IS OLD!”

A Bad Place To Live

Well, Springfield didn’t make Money magazine’s top 100 places to live again this year. Bloomington made it to 80th place but that’s the closest finalist.

I’m not sure of all of Money’s criteria for judging but this chart, which compares Springfield to the top ten cities, gives some clues. The thing that stands out to me is the relatively anemic job growth here.

Other Illinois cities to make the top 100 include:
Naperville (#2)
Orland Park (#45)
Aurora (#55)

Quayle Quitic

Oh man, when even Dan Quayle walks out on your performance, you know your career is over.
Dan Quayle took time out from participating in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Stateline, Nev., on Friday to attend John Mellencamp's concert only to run into a political statement.

He then made a statement of his own by walking out during Mellencamp's rendition of ``Walk Tall.'' Before launching into the song, Mellencamp told the Harveys casino crowd, in effect, that it was dedicated to everyone hurt by policies of the current Bush administration.

Quayle, who served as vice president for President Bush's father in 1989-93 walked out of the venue before Mellencamp finished the song.

Quayle said through a publicist: ``Well, I think Mellencamp's performance was not very good to begin with, and the comment put it over the top.''
Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for rock critic Dan Quayle!

If I were Quayle (ewww), I think I’d be careful of criticizing other’s professional performances.

And why is it wrong, wrong, wrong for performers to make political statements* but OK for politicians to discus a movie or music?

*This rule only applies to liberals and not to conservative actors and musicians like Charlton Heston, Ron Silver, Gary Sinise, James Woods or Toby Keith

Sunday, July 16, 2006


I sure do hate it when I miss the beginning of a World War. One of us is an idiot and I think it’s the guy with the funny name.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Two Guys have an idea. I think the concept is good and has potential with a variety of demographics.

Say, Hello

Widespread Price Panic

Did you know we are paying $4.00 a gallon for gas here in Springfield? That’s the word on the street in Bloomington:
BLOOMINGTON -- Rumors of $4-a-gallon gasoline in other Central Illinois cities Friday night had drivers flocking to Twin City gas stations to fill up.

Prices in Bloomington-Normal remained around $2.96 a gallon Friday night, but people were hearing rumors of spiraling prices in other cities ranging from Peoria to Champaign and Springfield.


“One dollar a gallon is a lot,” Rebecca Landau of Bloomington said as she gassed up at Thornton Oil, 908 N. Main St., Bloomington.

She said she got a phone call on her cell phone from a co-worker, so she stopped to buy gas on her way home instead of waiting until morning.

Rick Williams of Bloomington was fueling up at Thorton because a friend of his mother said she heard gas was $4.25 a gallon in Morton.


The Decatur Herald & Review, the Pantagraph’s sister newspaper, reported that Decatur residents were hearing that rumor about gas prices in Bloomington.
Pssst! I hear gas is $5.00 a gallon in Vandalia!

The Times They Are In Springfield

The SJ-R informs us the New York Times did a feature on Springfield in its Travel section Friday. Here is the link to that NYT article.

Happy Birthday To Me!

Have some cake...

Summer birthdays are awesome.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Now Wait Just a Minute!

I Googled “Friday Beer Blogging” just to see how original I am in this end-of-the-week beer blogging venture, and look what I found: some local upstart taking the Google lead.

I’m going to disarrange that cooler of yours, lady.

Friday Beer Blogging: N/A Edition

True to my word, I‘m joining with the major media to avoid, at all costs, being perceived as glorifying or even finding humor in anything other than complete sobriety. Therefore today on Friday Beer Blogging I take a look at beers that will leave you totally un-intoxicated, no matter how many you drink. Here goes.

I’ll admit, while this non-alcoholic beer blogging is new to this site, I actually have had occasion to drink N/A beers. I didn’t like it, but sometimes it’s necessary for one’s own good. Of the two I’ve tasted, O’Doul’s is my favorite. Or least not-liked.

The other N/A I’ve tried is Sharp’s. It’s not so good but it’s brewed by Miller so I just thought of it as an even worse Miller Lite.

Finally, here’s one I haven’t tried but if I ever have to do any more dry drinking I think I’ll try it. St Pauli is an awesome regular beer so I’m thinking maybe, just maybe, their N/A is tolerable.

And don’t forget, when drinking N/As you can drink and drive as much as you damn well please. So order another for the road! Keep one in your car for when you’re pulled over and open it in the cops face just to freak him out. Ha! See, it’s N/A copper, see, you can’t get me for DUI , see (done in my best Cagney voice).

And remember...

...drink N/A and don’t be just another stupid drunk.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Terrorists™ to Target Clinton, Illinois!

Or so says the Department of Homeland Security. And I’m not talking about the Clinton nuclear power plant. No, I’m talking about the Apple and Pork festival.
WASHINGTON, July 11 — It reads like a tally of terrorist targets that a child might have written: Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, the Mule Day Parade, the Sweetwater Flea Market and an unspecified “Beach at End of a Street.”

But the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, in a report released Tuesday, found that the list was not child’s play: all these “unusual or out-of-place” sites “whose criticality is not readily apparent” are inexplicably included in the federal antiterrorism database.


Even people connected to some of those businesses or events are baffled at their inclusion as possible terrorist targets.

“Seems like someone has gone overboard,” said Larry Buss, who helps organize the Apple and Pork Festival in Clinton, Ill. “Their time could be spent better doing other things, like providing security for the country.”
Ya think?

Update: Anyone know where I can get the whole list of Illinois terrorist targets? Just wondering if I need to take a different route to work.

The Illinois Governor’s Race -Quickly

Sure the Blagojevich administration is corrupt but Illinoisans don’t care because they’re used to corrupt governors and Blago’s going to win reelection handily.

Sober Times

I hadn’t thought about before, but drunks really are politically incorrect these days. Dan examines our vanishing Foster Brooks heritage and the relevance of Pinky.

Update: Taking this to heart, I will now only beer blog about non-alcoholic beers.

The Lost Art of Conversation

I don’t understand this. Two people, often what appears to be a couple, are out walking for exercise. And both are wearing headphones. Why? What’s the point of having a walking partner of you’re going to tune each other out? I don’t get it. How ‘bout a little conversation. Why are you two even together for this walk?

I actually had a worse experience. While living in Chicago years ago I would, weather permitting, walk on the lakefront for exercise almost daily. Occasionally a coworker, who lived in the same building as I, would ask to join me. That was great except when he would show up with his Walkman. He’d walk along listening to music while I walked beside him, ummm, not. It was awkward.

Look, I’d rather be alone than walking with someone listening to tunes and not talking to me. Like I said, I don’t get it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Paranoid Right

A couple of great quotes from the party of cowards. First from Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration is preparing a crackdown on
intelligence leaks to the media and will try to pursue prosecutions in some recent cases, the chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

Michigan Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra also suggested some unauthorized leaks could have been deliberate attempts to help al Qaeda.

"More frequently than what we would like, we find out that the intelligence community has been penetrated, not necessarily by al Qaeda, but by other nations or organizations," he said.

"I don't have any evidence. But from my perspective, when you have information that is leaked that is clearly helpful to our enemy, you cannot discount that possibility," he added.
Boy, doesn’t that take you back to the days of the Red Menace that penetrated the government at all levels. That is until Joe McCarthy exposed them all.

Then there’s this gem from Colorado where an immigration bill was passed that would prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining public services. However, children under 18 would not be denied which has some Republicans outraged:

But Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora, said at the caucus that she was upset that the bill exempted children under 18.

"We're helping create the next generation of terrorists," she said.
Got that, illegal immigrant children = future terrorists. Brilliant!

Seriously, it must be an awful life being that afraid all the time.

Hat tip to Kevin Drum.

Monthly Update

Eric Zorn is taking an online poll to discover what month of the year is most popular. October is winning, not sure why. My favorite is May. The weather has a lot to do with how a rate months and May is about perfect: not too hot, not too cool has the best thunderstorms (I like thunderstorms). Also, the trees and lawns are fully green and the days are getting really long.

My list, favorite to least favorite months, is as follows:


The only good thing about January is the sun begins to set noticeably later by the end of the month and we (mostly) all get the 1st off. That’s about it.

Drivin' That Train...


A special prosecutor has been appointed to determine whether charges should be
filed against Sangamon County Clerk Joe Aiello, two former assistant prosecutors
and a former part-time public defender in what apparently is part of an investigation of cocaine use in Springfield.

Aiello, former assistant state's attorneys John "Jake" Kelley and Dan Mills and former public defender John A. Maurer were named in a document filed with the circuit clerk's office Tuesday afternoon.


The state's attorney's request said the office could not take on possible prosecution because it has worked closely with all four men.

None of the four has been charged with any crime. The same applies to two other men - Kevin Kelly, a former federal probation officer, and Blair Fein, a former bank loan officer - who the document indicated are also under investigation in the case.

The State Journal-Register reported in January that Aiello was somehow involved in the cocaine investigation, but Tuesday's filing is the first time he has been identified in court documents.

Aiello, a Republican who has been county clerk since 1993, has refused to discuss his connection to the case.
Sorry, but I take this story slightly less seriously when I remember the hype surrounding it last winter. Remember when Springfield City Council members and the mayor were tripping over each other to get drug tests? Funny stuff. Or stupid stuff.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tribute to Syd

Floyd: The Early Years

Syd Barrett/The Pink Floyd London '66 - '67

Or if you feel that's too long, you're nuts, but try this:

Pink Floyd - Astronomy Domine live beat club '67

Or if you are in need of even lighter fare, may I present Arnold

Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett - Arnold Lane

Bye Syd

More bad music news:
LONDON, England (CNN) -- Syd Barrett, the eccentric guitarist who founded Pink Floyd but later left the music business to live quietly and somewhat reclusively, has died at the age of 60, according to a spokeswoman for the band.
In many ways I like the early psychedelic Pink Floyd of the 1960s more than the album-oriented phase of the band from the 1970s. Syd Barrett was responsible for much of that ‘60s Floyd sound.

Shine on you crazy diamond.

Money for Nothing

This story raises some questions in my mind (from the WTAX website that has no direct link to the story):
The state and federal governments are asking certain farmers to stop planting in their fields, and they're doing it with $50 million of taxpayer money.

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, or CREP, pays farmers near Illinois rivers and their tributaries to let watershed acreage sit idle.

Jim Ross, a conservation program specialist at the Farm Service Agency, says CREP began in 1997, and this is the second year in a row that state government has funded the program.

$10 million in state money will fund the program. Because of that funding, the federal government will kick in $40 million.

Ross says the goal is to set aside farmland that's near Illinois rivers and tributaries. He says that will reduce soil erosion, make better water and air quality, and encourage better wildlife habitat.So the government is paying these farmers not to pollute.
What other industry gets this incentive? Aren’t most polluting businesses told to stop or face fines or be shut down? I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing to pay the farmers, at least in the short run, but it doesn’t seem to me most polluters can get that deal.

Dial “T” for Terrorism

Did you know there is a listing in the phone book for “Terrorism”? Get your December 2005 SBC phone book and turn to page 558 in the yellow pages. At the top of the page we see that this page covers Telephone – Terrorism. In the bottom right corner there is this listing:

Terrorism Concerns
See Homeland Security Or In The Event Of
An Imminent Threat Call Your Local
Enforcement Officials.
Damn that’s helpful. Cuz if a saw a terra-ist in my neighborhood, I’d probably go to the yellow pages first. Where the phone book lets me down is, and maybe this is because Springfield just isn’t big enough to support such things, where do I go to find out where to make my terrorism purchases? That’s when the yellow pages would come in real handy.

In the Beginning…

Check out this post at ThrityWhat’s place about the original stores that occupied White Oaks Mall when it opened in 1977. I have a number of things to say in the comments. Having helped open one of the original stores that year, I sometimes try to remember which of those businesses are still in White Oaks. My partial list (because I’ sure I’m forgetting one or two or three) includes:

Famous Barr
The Cookie Factory
McDonald’s (but in a different location in the mall)
Radio Shack
MCL Cafeteria
Spencer Gifts (different location)
White Oaks Cinema

Those are the only ones I can remember. There may be a few jewelers, shoe or clothing stores I missed but that’s about it. Not very many have endured. I also wonder what space in the mall has changed hands the most.

For some reason I find it fascinating that The Cookie Factory has lasted all these years. Everyone likes cookies, I guess, but I would not have predicted it to be a lifer. Also odd is that three on that list are very near or next to each other: Radio Shack, GNC and Helzberg. The store I worked in back in the day, The Bookmarket, was right next to Radio Shack. It left in the early 1980s but the space remained a book store until just a year or so ago.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Terrorist Mastermind Jailed at Gitmo

Be careful about accepting travel invitations:
[WASHINGTON, DC] - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is scheduled to travel to Guantánamo Bay Naval Base at the southeastern end of Cuba today as part of an official fact finding trip.
Sure, that’s what Bush administration officials told him –“fact-finding”. Too bad for you Dastardly Dick TURBAN.


Oh man, Kos, of Daily Kos fame and a leading Dem/Progressive blogger (if you don’t already know), is not happy with Gov. Blagojevich. And I quote:
The Blagojevich (D) administration in Illinois is under investigation by Patrick Fitzgerald for illegal hiring practices. We finally get a Democrat in the governor's office in Illinois, and he has to go stink up the joint. Given that the last governor has been convicted of racketeering and bribery, it's clear the people of Illinois deserve better.


Not that I feel all that sorry for them but I wonder if the Wal-Mart folks get tired of the never-ending legal battles that seem to follow their every move. They must have one of the most experienced legal teams in the universe.

Special Effects

Have you ever been tuning around the radio dial in your car and you come upon some old song you haven’t heard in years and it’s on a station that’s barely coming in? It adds something to the sense of distance in time, like you’re hearing a lost radio signal from the past.

The Wider Discussion

More Springfield better/worse over at Unspelled. Check out the comments to that post for even more.

ThirtyWhat takes the discussion to a new level and asks not if Springfield is better than it was but what can make the city better in the future. She has some suggestions. I’ll have to think about it.

Finally, I wanted to add one more thing I miss about Springfield past: the old Lincoln Library. I did a bit on it over at Look Back Springfield. (I really need to revive that site). Not that I have any problem with the current library (except, of course, for the scary homeless people who keep intimidating me -eeek!), I just wish they could have saved the old one, maybe incorporated it into a new library “campus”. I don’t know how that would have worked but I did really like the old building.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fat Lady, Sing Already!

What Josh Marshall says:
The sad truth is that the [Bush] Administration's foreign policy has run aground on the shoals of its own incompetence. As Kevin Drum noted last week, "the Bush administration literally seems to have no foreign policy at all anymore."

Afghanistan is reverting to the Taliban. Iraq is beyond the point of no return. North Korea is acting with impunity. Iran controls its own destiny.

Worse, for an Administration that has instinctively favored military action over diplomacy, the nation's military resources are depleted, bogged down, and largely unavailable for any further foreign adventures.

Yet we have [news] stories emerging that suggest the current foreign policy dilemma is a deliberate course of action chosen by Bush. Time, in a mishmash of its news and style sections, calls it a "strategic makeover" led by Condi Rice.

The fact is Bush has boxed himself in, frittering away lives and treasure, and leaving himself with few options. He deserves no more credit for a policy shift than the man serving a life sentence who declares that he will henceforth be law-abiding.

For the most part, the Bush imprint on the world has been set. Little new is going to emerge in the next 2.5 years. The President himself has told us that it’s up to the next administration to figure out what to do about Iraq. He’s done his best, such as it is, and has no idea what to do from here. Until someone comes up with an exit strategy, Americans will continue to die there and billions of dollars will be flushed down the toilet (good thing we’ve already cured cancer).

Meanwhile the rest of the world hates us and no other nation is all that anxious to cooperate with us or be seen as advancing any American agenda. So yes, we are adrift; standing on the world stage, having forgotten our lines, while the world audience sits uncomfortably waiting for the scene to end.

When Goals Are Met

Congratulations Italy!

A couple of personal soccer facts:

1. I always liked playing it (well, back when I played any sports at all and that’s been since before I was 18).

2. I can’t stand to watch it.

It’s right up there with golf and NASCAR on the tedium scale. Since lots of Americans do like to watch golf and NASCAR, why do they have no interest in soccer? Is it an acquired taste?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Fair Warning

Just five weeks until the Illinois State Fair gets underway. Here’s the website if you want a preview.

I’m kind of looking forward to it, more so than usual for some reason. I think it’s because I’m actually going to take a day or two off from work, something I haven’t been able to do much this year.

Update: There are now Fair webcams strategically placed around the Fairgrounds. See them here. Is this new or was I just too stupid to notice last year and before?

Update 2: OK, I am stupid. Mrs. TEH says I knew about the webcams a few years ago (and see comments). Hey, I only remember the important things. Anyone seen my keys?


Horseshoe competition without end! There are worse hobbies to have. These (Two) guys ought to publish, or blog, the comprehensive guide to Springfield horseshoes at the end of their quest. That assumes, of course, the supply of new horseshoes in town is actually finite.

More Beer and a Stray Wine

Beer blogging from the front porch.

Supplemental Beer Blogging: Sunday Sales Edition

I don’t have much to say about this but that’s because it seems like such a no-brainer. There is no good reason why liquor sales should continue to be banned in Springfield on Sunday mornings. The Springfield City Council is ready to consider lifting the ban:
Beer, wine and liquor could be purchased Sunday mornings under an ordinance Ward 4 Ald. Chuck Redpath plans to introduce at the July 18 Springfield City Council meeting.

Current city code bars liquor sales before noon on Sundays. Under Redpath's ordinance, bars and retailers that sell liquor for carryout would be eligible to start sales at 8 a.m. Ward 8 Ald. Irv Smith is co-sponsoring the ordinance, Redpath said Thursday.

Alcohol can be purchased as early as 7 a.m. every other day of the week in Springfield.

Citizens have requested the change, Redpath said, to make buying such products more convenient. Some do their grocery shopping before noon on Sundays, and if the ordinance is changed, they will be able to stock up on beer, wine and liquor and not have to come back to the store.
And that’s just it; I’ve been that Sunday morning shopper. While it’s not a huge deal, it’s still aggravating and seemingly pointless. Even if you buy into the notion that selling liquor may be offensive to church-goers, consider this: no one in church is going to even know to be offended if I’m buying beer at Cub or Osco. It’s a victimless “crime”. Again, it’s by no means the most pressing issue in the city but I think it’s high time to end this silly prohibition.

Friday Beer Blogging: YouTube Edition

What the hell, as long as I'm reveling in YouTube I might as well use it for beer blogging.

I have three entries. Another 200 didn't begin to make the cut.

First, a musical number..

Next, from the Man Show - A kid selling beer...

And finally, a cautionary tale about beer goggles...

Be sure to submit your beer videos to YouTube and who knows, it might not suck as as badly as most beer videos I found.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Watch Out

I don’t remember exactly when it was I stopped wearing a wristwatch but I think it was about the time, maybe 15 years ago, when I first had a PC put on my desk at work. The computer, of course, always had the time in the bottom right corner. That in conjunction with clocks being standard features in cars (it wasn’t always so) eliminated most of my need for wearing a watch. So at some point, I broke a habit that had started when I was given my first watch at about age 10.

Now I find watches even less necessary because I already carry a time piece wherever I go: my cell phone. I use my cell to tell time as much as I use it to make phone calls, maybe more. Cell phones are the new pocket watches. In fact, sales of wristwatches are down. I’d say watches, particularly for women, now have more to do with fashion than a means by with to tell time.

And the trend may get worse as the iPod generation moves into adulthood:
…ask 15-year-old Jaynee Rodgers why she doesn't wear a watch, and the reason is
clear: "I don't see the need for one, because I've always got my cell."

She was sitting at a table last week outside a downtown St. Petersburg Starbucks with two friends who also carry cell phones and don't wear watches.

What would it take to get them to wear a watch?

"If they ran out of cell phones," said Steven Taaffe, 17, a senior at St. Petersburg High School.
There you go watch makers: All you have to do is wait until they run out of cell phones.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Trivial Pursuit

Did you know Illinois has a state fossil? It does. And no, it’s not Don Hickman.

It’s the Tully Monster:
The Tully Monster (Tullimonstrum gregarium), so far apparently unique to Illinois, was a soft-bodied invertebrate that lived in shallow tropical coastal waters of muddy estuaries during the Pennsylvanian geological period, about 300 million years ago. The Tully Monster had fins not unlike a cuttlefish and a long proboscis with eight small sharp teeth with which it may have probed actively for small creatures and edible detritus in the muddy bottom. It was part of the ecological community represented in the unusually rich group of soft-bodied organisms represented among the assemblage called the Mazon Creek fossils from their site in Grundy County, Illinois.
Tully the Monster became the state fossil in 1989.

Springfield +/- Continued

ThirtyWhat takes a swing at the Springfield Better/Worse discussion and comes up with things I should have had on my list but didn’t.

On the plus side, for example - Movie theaters. Stadium seating in the Showplace 12. ‘Nuff said.

Also more/bigger/better places to shop.

In the worse column – The Mansion is gone.

And by the way, I TOTALLY agree with TW on the Chesapeake Seafood House. I’m glad someone is saying it out loud, er, on a blog. It’s sad when the best seafood place in town is Red Lobster but it’s always been thus. I think that’s why Abe ran for president; he wanted to go east to get a decent plate of fish.

Oh My God, They Killed Kenny

Enron founder Ken Lay has died.

Sorry for the insensitive headline but I couldn’t resist. Also, I’m sure some are going to claim Lay was being persecuted and the stress killed him. So maybe we did kill Kenny.

Fast Food Nation

This is pretty funny.

More Better and Worse

A few more things that are either better or worse today in Springfield compared to days gone by:


No baseball team. We used to be part of the St. Louis Cardinals farm system but we didn’t turn out at to the ballgames so they went elsewhere. However, it’s been reported that we may be getting a team next year.

The fireworks downtown on the Fourth of July. This is slightly offset by what seems to me to be more and getting-better displays elsewhere in and around the city.


John of Just Two Guys thinks the arts scene in Springfield is as good as it’s been in a long time:

I think that one of the Betters is definitely the growing "art" scene in the area. I think Springfield is seeing a lot of local musical talent coming along, and there are a lot of young people in the area doing neat artistic things, i.e. The Writer's Block. I think the local blogscene is also part of this "art" movement, as it gives local people a chance to be seen and heard in ways never before imagined. We're turning to each other for entertainment.

He also offers The Sangamon Star as another example.

I have to agree with that. Think of the Hoogland Center for the Arts and all it has to offer. Or The Warehouse.

I’d also like to add that there is now much more for school-aged kids to do. This is part of a national phenomenon but certainly the area school districts and other organizations have more to keep kids busy than they did 30 – 40 years ago when I was in grade and high school. Ask any parent how much running around they do getting their children to this practice or that happening. Often parents are forced to put limits on how much their kids can participate in simply because there isn’t time for it all.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

When Missiles Go Limp

I’m shocked that a third world dictatorship that can’t even feed its own people and has only two working electric lamps in the entire country had its missile test fail. Shocking! Now can be go back to cowering under the bed and shredding the Constitution in boundless fear of The Terrorists ™?

Happy 4th!


Monday, July 03, 2006

YouTube Springfield

I did a search on YouTube for Springfield, IL and came up with a few things including this post-tornado video.

YouTube Now MyTube Too

Just signed up with YouTube and am testing my ability to post videos to the blog.

Check out this very early effort by The Who. I've never seen or heard it before and I thought I had seen or heard most everything by Pete and the boys.

The Who - Daddy Rolling Stone


The Italians Aren’t Going to Like This

On the heals of one Italian wine company filing suit against Illinois' “protectionist” wine policies, we have this from deep in Illinois’ wine country.
CARBONDALE - A new proposal from Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole would require city liquor establishments to offer wines made in Southern Illinois.

Cole's proposed amendment to the city's liquor code, expected to be considered by the Carbondale Liquor Advisory Board Thursday, would require bars and restaurants that serve alcohol to offer some form of wine from the region.

Cole said he wants Carbondale to set a trend in supporting the region's wine industry as it continues to ripen into a bona fide tourism draw.


According to the proposal, the city would require "every licensed establishment within the city where alcoholic liquor is sold" to offer "wine that has been produced south of U.S. Highway 50" in Illinois.
Hey, that leaves out the many wines of the fertile Sangamon Valley!

Statistic of the Day

Balance in the media can some times result in a distortion of the truth. Look at this:
…in an exhaustive study of almost every piece of research published on global warming in scientific journals, a sample of 928 articles was examined. Every single one of those 928 studies concluded that global warming was happening and that human activity was substantially responsible for it. In other words, as [Al] Gore has noted, the scientific debate about global warming and its sources, is over. In a parallel study of 636 news accounts of global warming, by contrast, 53% suggested that there was no scientific consensus on the question of global warming and its causes.
Because a certain political party finds it politically advantageous to deny reality, the media plays along in a he said / she said game, leaving many people unsure what to think. This despite the overwhelming scientific evidence. Politics once again trumps reason.

For Better Or Worse

The post below got me thinking: Sure, I miss LincolnFest but overall is Springfield a better place than it was 20 or 30 years ago, or a worse place?

I started to compile a list in my head of what’s better and what’s worse about the city and I was surprised at how heavily the “Better” list outweighed the “Worse” list. In fact, I was hard pressed to come up with more than a few things that are worse.

I know, I know, Springfield circa 1983 is a pretty low baseline from which to begin, but still things have improved you have to admit. Or do you?

My “Worse” list really only has two things on it: Fewer manufacturing jobs and the loss of the 183rd Fighter Wing (and the latter hasn’t even happened yet).

On the “Better” side is the much, much improved downtown, including the Abe Lincoln Museum and a livelier nightlife. The radio stations are better (again we are working from a really low baseline from 20+ years ago), the newspaper (SJ-R) is better and the cable system is much improved.

We have more restaurants than ever before even if a greater percentage of them are chains. And speaking of restaurants, 20 years ago I would have never dreamed we would be blessed with a smoking ban in eateries.

City government is better, having been forced to move to an aldermanic system from the kooky ‘at-large’ city council of yesteryear. The school district is arguably better too (remeber in the early 1970's when the district's high schools were on split shifts?).

So what do you think? What’s better and what’s worse about the city compared to the compared to some point in the past?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

I Heart Drinkin’ Fest

And so does ThirtyWhat. Or at least we heart the memories of the long defunct downtown festival optherwise known as Lincoln Fest. I tell you what, there’s a lot about the 1970s, ‘80s and early ‘90s I miss (my youth is one of them) and beer soaked fests featuring bands and food is somewhere near the top of that list. Don’t forget, Carbondale has also effectively killed the legendary Halloween bashes of yesteryear.