Thursday, August 31, 2006

Moonward Bound

Lock heed Marin has won the government contract to build the next moonship.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- NASA on Thursday awarded a multibillion dollar contract to build a manned lunar spaceship to Lockheed Martin Corp., which usually builds unmanned rockets.

The last time NASA awarded a manned spaceship contract to Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Maryland, was in 1996 for a spaceplane that was supposed to replace the space shuttle.

NASA spent $912 million and the ship, called X-33, never got built because of technical problems.

The nation's space agency chose Lockheed Martin, the biggest government aerospace and defense contractor, to build the Orion crew exploration vehicle, which is once again supposed to replace the space shuttle fleet, take astronauts to the moon and perhaps on to Mars.
That’s the whole AP story that appears on It is accompanied with a picture of the failed X-33 design but not the new contract-winning vehicle. So I did a little research and found this artist depiction of the new craft.

That comes from this MSNBC story dated 05/05/2005.

I have mixed feelings about this “multibillion dollar contract” (i.e. that’s a lot of money) but it seems to be largely a done deal so let’s see what happens.

I Heart Olberman

I know every blog in Left Blogistan has linked to this Olberman commentary from last night but there’s a reason for that. It’s damn good. Olberman’s thoughts ring very true and conceptualize what has been bothering many of us, not just about Donald Rumsfeld, but the entire Bush experience since 2001. So if you haven’t seen it, or at least read the transcript, be sure to do so. I don’t know if Keith writes all his own words or not but he certainly has emerged as the most eloquent voice of opposition in recent years. Catch him on MSNBC every week night.

Hooray For Tofu!

Ezra Klein defends tofu and, indirectly, those who consume it. It’s been years since I’ve cooked with tofu but I still get a side of fried tofu occasionally from one of my favorite local Thai restaurants. In younger and less married years, I used to use tofu in a variety of recipes, mostly substituting for some or all of the meat required. It’s great stuff; it’s healthy and takes on the flavor of whatever you’re cooking with. Yet, there is no end to shit one has to take if you are brave enough to announce you eat tofu. It has a horrible reputation for some reason. You don’t have to be a militant vegetarian or a member of PETA or be making some political statement to enjoy tofu. It’s just another kind of food. It has no agenda and really doesn’t threaten you.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Smoking in a Bubble

I happened to catch part of the WAND-TV news over lunch and saw part of a story about (I think) the Macon County board debating if an anti-smoking ordinance should be considered there. The board president (I think) was shown saying he thought they should wait to see what economic impact there is in Springfield and Champaign which are about to implement smoking bans.

Uhhhhh…dude, there are smoking bans all over the place outside of Central Illinois. Whole states have enacted them. Hell, entire countries got ‘em. Why do you need to look at Springfield and Champaign to determine the economic impact?

This drives me nuts because the pro-smoking crowd in every local community around here acts like this is some sort of wacky, untested scheme. Let me say this slowly: There….are…working…viable…smoking bans…EVERY FUCKING WHERE YOU IDIOTS. Damn, turn on a tee-vee or open a newspaper. Get on one of them internets already. Dumb fucks.

Look, you can oppose smoking bans for a number of reasons, but claiming such bans are untested is NOT one of them. Use something else like, it’s your right to blow carcinogens in other people’s faces or something, but give the uncharted territory theme a rest.

The World is Flat

I don’t pretend to understand what these families are going through, but this is just weird to me. Does “Flat Daddy” get to stick around after 3D Daddy is dead?

Maine National Guard members in Iraq and Afghanistan are never far from the thoughts of their loved ones.

But now, thanks to a popular family-support program, they're even closer.

Welcome to the ``Flat Daddy" and ``Flat Mommy" phenomenon, in which life-size cutouts of deployed service members are given by the Maine National Guard to spouses, children, and relatives back home.

The Flat Daddies ride in cars, sit at the dinner table, visit the dentist, and even are brought to confession, according to their significant others on the home front.

``I prop him up in a chair, or sometimes put him on the couch and cover him up with a blanket," said Kay Judkins of Caribou, whose husband, Jim, is a minesweeper mechanic in Afghanistan. ``The cat will curl up on the blanket, and it looks kind of weird. I've tricked several people by that. They think he's home again."

At the request of relatives, about 200 Flat Daddy and Flat Mommy photos have been enlarged and printed at the state National Guard headquarters in Augusta. The families cut out the photos, which show the Guard members from the waist up, and glue them to a $2 piece of foam board.
Click the link to the story to see an example of “Flat Daddy” in action.

I thought this story was from The Onion when I first saw it. But no, once again, reality is stranger than fiction.

I would hope that if I went away, I wouldn’t be easily replaced with a piece of cardboard. On the other hand, I wonder if I could get away with having Flat Dave do the lawn and take out the trash even if I'm not gone.

Wi-Fi? Why Not?

Heck if I can find anything wrong with this:

About 95 percent of Springfield would get free wireless Internet access under a
tentative deal announced Tuesday by Mayor Tim Davlin and representatives of

Residents could use the service at no charge at certain speeds but would have to view advertising. Vicki Jones of AT&T said the free speeds would likely start at 200 kilobits per second, about four times faster than dial-up service.

Residents could pay a to-be-determined fee for higher speeds, which would deliver as much as 1 megabit (or about five times as fast as 200 kilobits) of data per second, she said.

The free service would cover 25 to 30 square miles, roughly 47,000 homes and areas where people congregate, Jones said

Check out the entire SJ-R article. It’s nothing but good news. The city and it’s residents pay almost nothing and we get the internet through the air.

Gee, going smoke-free AND getting Wi-Fi. What city are you and what have you done with the lazy backwater I used to know?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lilapsophobia (look it up)

I know even tropical storms and smaller hurricanes are no laughing matter but don’t you think everyone is overacting just a bit to Ernesto? We even have Springfieldians racing down to Florida to “help”.
The American Red Cross' Henry's Kitchen is heading down south in case the a [sic] hurricane hits from Tropical Storm Ernesto. So are three volunteers from Springfield, including Mary Maddox, who will be responding to a disaster outside of springfield for the first time. Maddox says she's helped with the response to the tornadoes and to house fires here. She says she's anxious to help those who may be impacted by this tropical storm.
Last hurricane season was enough to make anyone storm shy, but really, we need to stop freaking out about this tropical storm until it become s a little more dangerous, if it ever does.


This could be interesting. From the SJ-R on-line:
The city of Springfield would become a "wireless community" under a plan Mayor Tim Davlin is scheduled to announce this afternoon.

Davlin, aides and "representatives of a major communications corporation" will hold a news conference on the subject at 1:30 p.m., according to a release issued this morning.
I await the details.


Imagine the howls if Governor Blagojevich tried something like this here in Illinois. Or has he?
The end of the federal government's fiscal year — September 30 — is rapidly approaching, and George Bush's minions have had a brainstorm: federal bureaucrats should put off as many purchases as possible until October so that this year's spending looks nice and frugal. After all, we don't want any headlines about skyrocketing government spending just before the midterm elections!
Sounds like a fairly conventional accounting trick. Hell, the company I work for does it. But, seriously, is this common in government?

Monday, August 28, 2006


I’m shocked, SHOCKED I tell ‘ya!

BOULDER, Colorado (CNN) -- The DNA sample taken from John Mark Karr does not match DNA found on JonBenet Ramsey's body when she was murdered in 1996, CNN affiliate KUSA is reporting.

No charges will be filed against Karr.

Man, I’ll bet no one saw that one coming. But Karr got his 15 minutes and the media got about two weeks worth of 24/7 coverage. It works for them. By the way, did someone say something about Iraq?

Teachers Are From Mars, Some from Venus

I’m not sure I buy this.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For all the differences between the sexes, here's one that might stir up debate in the teacher's lounge: Boys learn more from men and girls
learn more from women.

That's the upshot of a provocative study by Thomas Dee, an associate professor of economics at Swarthmore College and visiting scholar at Stanford University.


Dee's study is based on a nationally representative survey of nearly 25,000 eighth-graders that was conducted by the Education Department in 1988. Though dated, the survey is the most comprehensive look at students in middle school, when gender gaps emerge, Dee said.
OK, Dee has the statistics but my personal experience doesn’t reflect his findings. At least not if I’m remembering correctly. I would have to say that my “learning” was not affected by gender, and certainly not nearly as much as by the personality and abilities of the individual teachers. Not to mention my own aptitude for the subject of the class.

I suppose I could do a study of my own and compare the grades I got (yes, I have all my college and high school report cards and some from grade school) to the gender of the teachers. I doubt I would find much correlation. As a matter of fact, when I was a student, I’m sure I never even thought about a preference in teachers’ gender. You’d think that if there was a difference, I would have developed, consciously or unconsciously, a preference during my years in school, but I can tell you honestly I did not.

Like I said, my guess is that quality of teacher is far, far more important than their gender.

The Plane Blame

This is my fault. I was thinking just the other day how there are never any passenger jet crashes in this country anymore and very few globally. It used to be (I'm talking 25 years ago) that a big jet would go down here every year or so. I was thinking how great it's been to finally see they day when crashes just don't happen anymore. Anyway, the next day, THE VERY NEXT DAY, a Russian passenger jet went down in the Ukraine killing everyone on board. And then over the weekend we have the crash in Kentucky. My apologies for tempting fate. From now on I’m only going to marvel at how I’ve never won a million dollars.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Good god almighty, I hate okra.

The Illinois Times tries to convince me that it’s healthy but I think I’d rather eat worms.

A Penguin's Tale

Now the reason for the penguin beer blogging…

First, let me say that my mother was one of those people who somehow became associated with liking and collecting things related to a particular animal. We all know the person who has everything giraffe or elephant or Kuala bear. It becomes part of their identity.

Well, at some point 30 or 40 years ago my mother must have expressed some fascination with penguins. After that she began to become associated with the flightless water foul. Maybe it was because liking penguins was so unusual, people took notice. Anyway, by the time of her death this month she had amassed a large collection of penguin paraphernalia ranging from stuffed animals to ceramic figurines to penguin storage bowls. Her license plate even contained some abbreviated version of the word penguin. Mind you, she bought almost none of this stuff herself; it was mostly all given to her. She was the penguin lady.

So with that in mind, it was a great treat for us to find out this week that a friend of hers has adopted (i.e. sponsored), in my mothers name, two of the penguins at Springfield’s Henson-Robinson zoo. Some of the zoo’s penguins are pictured below.

We only found out about this arrangement through a letter from the zoo. It’s actually quite a toughing gesture. Mom would loved to have been the adopted parent of a couple of penguins.

So, next time you’re at Henson-Robinson zoo, say hi to mom’s new kids.

Friday Beer Blogging: Penguin Edition

Hah, you thought I’d never, ever be able to blog mix of penguins and beer. Wrong! Anything goes with beer.

I’ve chosen penguins this Friday for a special reason that I will get into later today. Until then, let’s watch the penguin/beer connection.

This guy has just done the penguin equivalent of pizza and beer.

This is a real pic of a penguin trying to incubate a beer bottle. The flightless foul is cute but not too bright.

Budweiser, being ubiquitous, also has a tentacle in the beer/penguin world.

At some point in time there was a Penguin Beer. I have no information on it but here’s a picture I found of an old can.

Finally, a couple of photos involving the only beer I’m aware of that features penguins and is currently in production. It’s a popular beer in Brazil (where it’s brewed) called Antarctica.

A toast to penguins!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Radio Daze

Unspelled spells out what our local radio listening habits tell us about ourselves. I think he’s nailed it but, hey Matt, what about us WUIS listeners? Or WQNA? Or do I even want to know?

Hooked on Plutonics

Suzanne Nossel explains why Pluto’s demotion matters:
Why do we all naturally feel a twinge of pain at this? It's a technical development in a field most of us have nothing to do with, affecting a place we've never seen and never will. Here's my guess:

For people born in the 1950s, 60s and 70s exploration of the universe was the most exciting and dramatic thing conceivable, and Pluto was the outer edge of that frontier. While we've had unimaginable technological advances since then, neither cellphones, nor email, nor the internet, nor even google awakens the world of fantasy that space did.

Nowadays, that excitement has to a great degree died away.


Maybe the thrill of outer space was bound to be fleeting. But the downgrading of Pluto is a reminder of how long gone it is.
That’s as good an explanation as I’ve seen. I too grew up at a time when space mattered. I can’t imagine not having done so. The hope, the excitement, and adventure were as seemingly boundless as the universe itself. That’s a feeling and point of reference that can’t be explained to anyone who didn’t experience it.

But, oh well, it’s just Pluto and it’ll still be there, whatever it is, long after we’re all gone.

Watch It...Or Else

Damn, we're all on notice.

Our Plutonic Relationship

Poor Pluto. It may be bounced from the Solar System. Or at least its status a planet could be revoked.
PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) -- The ninth rock from the sun faces the prospect of being demoted to a "dwarf planet" on Thursday if the International Astronomical Union approves new planetary definitions.

Some scientists say Pluto never deserved to be a planet in the first place. It's smaller than Earth's moon, has a funky way of orbiting the sun, and lurks so far out on the fringes of the solar system even the powerful Hubble Space Telescope has to squint to see it.
I’ve lived long enough now to have seen a lot of changes but I never thought I would see the day when the Solar System was reduced to only eight planets.

Thing is, I kind of have to agree with the astronomers who think Pluto really doesn’t meet the definition of a planet. OK, I don’t know what the exact definition of a planet is but I’m thinking Pluto is sufficiently dissimilar to the other planets to disqualify it. It pains me to say that since I was able to recite the names of the planets almost before I could the alphabet. Pluto’s always been, literally, part of my universe. But, alas, it’s been shown to have been an imposter all these years. Celestial life is just full of hard knocks.

Update: The AP is reporting Pluto has been officially demoted. We now have only eight planets in our solar system. No word on if Pluto can appeal.

Uncle Sam Wants (Just Some Of) You

Do you feel a draft? News like this makes me think one may be on the way. With the Defense Department calling up 2500 inactive Marine reservists, it's obvious the military is in need of manpower. I still contend that reinstating the draft would be a huge political loser and, therefore, unlikely to be implemented. But the DOD has done everything short of a draft to fill its ranks and the day may be getting near where more personnel will be needed than can be dredged up from the old soldiers file.

So if a draft is needed but is politically untenable, what’s a war-hungry administration to do? Well, how ‘bout employing divide-and-conquer tactics? Sure, a general draft essentially affecting the entire population would be hugely unpopular precisely because it does impact almost everyone in one way or another. But what if the new draft was very particular about whom it inducted –giving a whole new meaning to the Selective Service.

Here’s what I mean. What if the Pentagon identified specific skill sets (computer programmers, engineers, etc.) it was looking for to round out its force needs and only drafted people with those abilities? Most of the population would remain unaffected and probably more willing to go along (baa, baa) with the new draft since it was unlikely to affect them. It’s my guess that the military can find enough actual front-line combat troops (the guys and girls doing the shooting at real people right in front of them) from volunteer recruits. The new draftees would fill skilled support roles, further reducing the public’s negative view of the draft. The new draft could then creep up in scope without raising the general public’s ire, much like the proverbial frog in the soon to be boiling pot of water.

I’m in no way endorsing this plan but I can see how something like it might be employed if the Bush administration and it’s poodle Congress are allowed to continue carrying us down their merry path to hell.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Out of SiteMeter, Out of Mind

John makes a confession and vows to alter his blogging life:
I have become a SiteMeter junky. It's a good feeling to look at your blog at the end of the day and see that you've had 50 hits, especially when your previous record was in the 20s. It has gotten to the point where I will check SiteMeter numerous times during the day and think to myself, "John what else can you put on the blog today to keep people coming back?" That's the wrong way to approach this project. I have to stop forcing myself to post just for the sake of drawing interest. If people are interested in what we're doing, they'll keep coming back, and in the mean time I can keep some of my sanity. So, I'm a SiteMeter junky on the road to recovery. I'm going to post when it fits into my schedule, and I'm going to stop paying so much attention to SiteMeter.
This brings up an interesting issue that I think most serious bloggers have to deal with at some point: Why am I blogging?

When I started this blog 20 months ago it was never my intention to appeal to any particular audience. In fact, I assumed virtually no one would read the blog except for a few friends. However, I found most of my friends had no interest in reading my blog and along the way I got hooked into the local blogging scene (if you can even call it a “scene”). That transition of intended audiences has had a subtle effect on what I blog about. My focus, and I use that word loosely, has shifted more toward local content and away from national and partisan political themes. I still do this primarily for myself but I’m aware that others are looking on. And just as public and peer pressure can affect the way I dress, I think my blogging is subject to similar pressures in some small way.

As for SiteMeter, I go through time periods where I care more about it than other times. Mostly I like to se what search engine hits I’m getting (some are pretty funny) and it’s always fun when I have a good number of hits in a day (anything over 100/day is very good for me). But in the end, the numbers don’t mean that much. I don’t have the talent or time to create and maintain some mega-blog that gets 100,000 hits a day -and I know that. Like John, I have many other things going on in my life and most of them are way more important than blogging. There have been times when I even thought about hanging it up completely. Someday that will happen, but I’m hoping it isn’t any time soon.

As long as I’m on the subject, I might as well float another idea I’ve thinking about: making this blog a collaborative one (or creating a whole new blog) with one or more partners. The advantage would be that I could take a week off like I did last week and the blog would still have others to keep it going. It also might make for an interesting mix of writing and a steadier stream of posts. And who knows, maybe even more SiteMeter hits!

Unbalanced Budgets

I’m with Rich Miller on this one:

Still, it does sometimes feel like we live in an alternate universe here in Illinois. For instance, I chuckle every time I read a comment from an obviously partisan Republican blasting Gov. Blagojevich for allowing the budget situation to get out of hand. Not a word has been uttered by those same people about the national budget situation. And, by the way, I have yet to see any Republican plan here in Illinois…to either replace the lost tax revenue from a reduction in the sales tax on gasoline or provide for budget cuts to offset the impact.
But, but, but, all we have to do is cut “waste”! OK, thanks for the plan.

Putting simplistic rhetoric aside, the Republican-controlled Federal government is demonstrating the problem of trying to have your finances both ways. You can’t be forever cutting taxes while never curbing spending. Here in Illinois we have a similar problem where the Democratically-controlled government is not willing to increase taxes while continuing to expand services. But cutting taxes (or at least not raising them) is generally popular with constituents while cutting services is not, so politicians, being politicians, are allegedly just giving us what we want.

Except, I don’t think most Americans really think this way. Yes, we would like not to have to pay any taxes and, yes, we would like a zillion government services. But we also understand you can’t do both at the same time. We’re not that stupid. Well, most of us aren’t anyway. I know there is plenty of room to argue about the particulars but can’t we all agree that we need to pay for what we’re buying?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

President Fartman

I would kind of hope this isn’t true about the President of the United States, but I have a hard time believing it isn’t.
He loves to cuss, gets a jolly when a mountain biker wipes out trying to keep up with him, and now we're learning that the first frat boy loves flatulence jokes. A top insider let that slip when explaining why President Bush is paranoid around women, always worried about his behavior. But he's still a funny, earthy guy who, for example, can't get enough of fart jokes. He's also known to cut a few for laughs, especially when greeting new young aides, but forget about getting people to gas about that.
That’s my Bush!

Phone-y News

If I read his SJ-R article right, the era of the seven-digit phone number may be ending soon in Central Illinois.
Area code 447 could be coming to central Illinois as early as 2009.

The Illinois Commerce Commission announced Monday it has approved a 447 “overlay” in area code 217 based on projections the existing supply of prefixes could be exhausted within a couple of years.


An overlay would require new customers to begin using the 447 area code once all numbers in 217 are assigned. Existing customers would continue to use 217, although all customers would have to begin using 10-digit dialing, the area code plus the seven-digit number, once the overlay is implemented.
I didn’t realize there were “overlays”. I thought new area codes being added were exclusive to some geographical area. Guess not. I wonder how soon it will be before ten digit phone numbers can no longer keep up with demand. I suppose that’s the good thing about numbers, you can always add more.

Speaking of phones, the rapidly changing size and look of cell phones over the last 10 to 15 years is interfering with my enjoyment of movies and television shows made more than a couple of years ago. That is, shows that have a cell phone in play at some point. It happened again last night while I was watching an X-Files rerun. Molder and Scully, once having had access to the cutting edge of technology, were using these big-ass, clunky cell phones. Phones have now joined cars, hairstyles and clothing as items originally invisible to the viewer but have, over time, become near show-stopping curiosities.

Monday, August 21, 2006

On E-Mails

Am I the only one who does this? When e-mailing multiple people, I often insert the individual recipients in a political order, especially at work.

For example, I’m sending an e-mail to Fred, Ned and Ted. Ted is my boss and Fred and Ned are coworkers. However, Ned is also in a position to make my job more difficult if I don’t keep on his good side. So, in this example, I would first insert Ted’s email address in the To: line, then Ned and finally Fred. I’m always afraid someone isn’t going to be happy with being put before this or that person, or that I didn’t think to include them before this or that person.

Am I nuts or do other people play personal and professional politics with e-mail recipient order? Is this a little like the Seinfeld episode where Jerry was obsessed with where his phone number was on a persons speed dial?

Also, is there a political angle to using blind copying (BCC)? Does being the recipient of a blind copy make you feel special or that you’re closer to the sender because they want to secretly let you in on something?

Friday Night Fair Fright

Even though I was on the Fairgrounds Friday evening, I guess I missed some of the things going on nearby. While I was aware of the storm moving in, I had no idea it looked this nasty via satellite. While there was some distant lightning and it did rain a bit (the Miller beer tent got VERY crowded), in the end it wasn’t much of a storm. And I’m sad to read these posts (here and here) from Jerome Prophet on an apparent mugging just outside the Fairgrounds that night. I also hope it isn’t true that a police offer stood by and did nothing. I’m pleased to say that I have still never seen or been victim of a crime at the The Fair, with the exception of the highway robbery going on with concession prices.

No News

I guess I didn’t miss anything by ignoring the news last week. Apparently, the only story being reported involved the guy who claims to have killed JonBenet Ramsey. The whole story is a complete waste of time since there is no way this guy had anything to do with the killing. Even if he had done it, the media coverage overkill was, and continues to be, unjustified.

Give me a personal break. Mr. Karr is seeking attention for himself having become obsessed with the JonBenet story. That obsession was fed by the national media, which in turn now gets to obsess some more about it thanks to Mr. Karr’s obsession. See how that works; it’s a perfect symbiotic relationship.

Anyway, I’m back. Back to work, back to blogging back to real life. One reason I hesitate to take a full week off (it had been over a year until last week) is that I get used to it and resent having to live any other way when vacation’s over. Blah.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Beer Blogging: Big Beer Edition

I’m too busy with vacation to put much into beer blogging or any blogging this week. See, vacations aren’t much of a vacation anymore for me. This week was full of activities, planning for some home remodeling and another minor family crisis. Who was it that came up with the term “settling down” in conjunction with getting married and starting a family?

Anyway on to beer blogging…

It’s Big Beer Friday! The day of larger than life brew!

Hey, here’s my future front yard. What do ya think?

And how ‘bout this man’s unnatural love for a beer just his size.

And, finally…gargoyle with a straw!

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Vacation Continues

Blogging has been light this week so far because I’m on vacation and, frankly, not paying much attention to the news. Or blogs, for that matter. I’ve been to The Fair™ three times so far, taken a trip to St. Louis, taken the train to Lincoln, slept-in each morning and spent some time going through my mother’s things. I’m busier than if I was working this week.

By the way the aforementioned trip to Lincoln was a big event because it was my son’s first trip on a real train. In fact, the only reason we took the northbound 5:07 Amtrak was to treat him to a train trip. It was great showing him how to watch for the train (standing by the tracks and looking for the tell-tale light to appear in the distance). I even recreated my own youthful train station safety lesson by pointing out to my son, as my father had to me, that you must not cross the yellow line or you could be too close, dangerously close, to the train as it pulled in.

Tonight I was at The Fair with my little guy and I couldn’t help thinking of a conversation I had with a coworker last week. She was telling me about how every year she takes her kids to The Fair for a full day of fun but her husband chooses not to go. Now, I don’t know anything about her husband, he may be a great guy who just can’t stand The Fair or the smell of cooking grease or something. But I think it’s sad he isn’t there with them. It’s so great to be with kids at The Fair. Why wouldn’t you want to experience that with your kids? I know, kids can be a huge pain in the ass, but experiencing the times in their life that are pure joy, or at least that’s the way they will remember it, is priceless. Dude, don’t let it pass you by. You might even have some fun yourself.

Monday, August 14, 2006

For Sale

Church, lobbying group office –it’s all the same.
First United Methodist Church, a fixture in downtown Springfield for about 185 years, is selling its place of worship at Fifth Street and Capitol Avenue.

The downtown sanctuary, which seats about 850 people, connects to a separate, three-story classroom and office building. All together, the buildings total about 68,000 square feet.
Just a few blocks from the Capitol, the church's departure will leave behind a prime piece of property, according to Steve Myers, who specializes in downtown real estate and has been a member of the church for as long as he can remember.

"The prominent location is wonderful," said Myers, who suggested the corner is just right for a large state association that would prefer being closer to the Capitol and other important state offices. Myers also said the space could, of course, remain a place of worship, perhaps a downtown meeting center shared by multiple congregations.
I always find it funny when churches are for sale. Congregations tend to want to build their own churches to reflect their own brand of worship. Used churches are a little like used underwear –no thanks, I’ll buy new.

All that aside, I’m sad to see the downtown First Meth go. I was married in that church. I had friends married there. And I remember the old building that sat on that location until, I believe, the mid 1970s. My mother had business in that old building when I was a kid and she would take me and maybe a friend over there after school and, while she did what she id, we would run the basement halls and explore the many rooms. It was a great old church. It seems hard to believe that in my lifetime two versions of the church would disappear. Shouldn’t churches, the buildings that is, last more than 30 years?

The new westside FUMC has already become a landmark on that end of town with its large steeple dominating the skyline. In some ways it’s representative of the commercial and residential shift to the west the city has taken. I just hope the new building lasts more than 30 years.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Illinois State Fair attendance up 47% this year due to onslaught of bloggers!

See here and here and here and here (sort-of) and I’ll be there too. I have all of next week off and plan to spend a good part of it at The Fair™, so expect Fair posts from me too.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Air Safety Done Right

JP has what I think is basically a good plan. There are simply too many sneaky ways to get explosives and other weapons, or weapons parts, on to a plane. If some of these plots start succeeding, the airline industry is going to suffer hugely. So, it might be in their interest to consider some of the things JP is suggesting. I do think perhaps we should be able to carry on at least a change of clothing since lost luggage is a significant problem and one that may get worse if all the carry-on luggage has to go through baggage handlers.

Of course, having said that, ultimately these things need to be thwarted long before they get to the boarding of planes stage. Law enforcement is the best defense against these criminal acts (as opposed to invading uninvolved coutries that were no threat to begin with). And when I say law enforcement, I mean intelligence agencies as well as more traditional police operations that all work withiun the law and uilize the criminal justice system. That’s how the British did it and it sems to have worked well.

Friday Beer Blogging: Schwelmer Edition

I discovered Schwelmer Pils about six weeks ago when I was charged with buying the beers for my in-laws 40th anniversary party. They wanted a variety of good beers and, for whatever reason, trusted my judgment. Well, I could have gone nuts an bought a bunch of bizarre imports just for fun but I played it pretty straight getting better beers but ones people might have actually heard of, things like Red Stripe, Beck’s and Moosehead. While shopping for these beers at Friar Tuck’s, I decided I’d also get something in a cool looking bottle just as a treat for my father-in-law. I settled on a four-pak of the German made Schwelmer Pils based solely on the interesting box they came in and the ceramic stoppers used to cap the bottles.

When it came to putting all the beer in the beer tubs, my father-in-law wound up placing the Schwelmer in with the general population. Well, a couple of guests wound up grabbing one of these each and they loved it. My father-in-law had one too.

Later, I took the last one and tried it myself. Wow, what a great beer. The best discovery I've made in a long time.

Anyway, I was at Friar’s again last night and decided to pick up a few more for my own consumption. I begin a week-long vacation this evening and I hope to get to my Schwelmers soon.

Meanwhile, maybe see you at the beer tents at the State Fair. They ain’t serving Schwelmer but it should be a good time anyway. In fact, I may try checking these guys out Monday at the Bud tent.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pop Music, Like Youth, Is Wasted on the Young

I hate to say it but this is probably true:
To gauge the effect of aging on a musical attention span, here's a good rule of thumb: At age 16, most fans know everything in the Top 40. Subtract one song for each year past that, and the number will be about what the average fan will know.
What a drag it is getting old.

(Add one year to 16 for every year that has passed since that lyric was written and you’re either dead or look like Mick Jagger)

Freudian Trip

I had a long dream last night that I was at my high school class reunion. I had gone alone. Thing is, I didn’t seem to recognize anybody. Still, I stuck around making small talk and eating food. And no one, including me, was drinking. How do you get through a class reunion without drinking?.

Here's my question: does this make me a latent homosexual? Can someone ask Ann Coulter?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Oh, Really?

I wanted to avoid getting back into the smoking ban debate but the pro-smoking advocates continue to say really stupid things. With the Sangamon County Board passing a smoking ban for unincorporated parts of the county, the SJ-R asked leaders of some of the incorporated towns in the county if they had any plans for smoking bans. The answer seems to be universally “no”. But Jerome mayor Harry Stirmell had the most bullshit rationale:
“The board members have discussed (a smoking ban), and they are not in favor of ... telling the establishments what they can or can’t do,” Stirmell said.
OK, Harry, so if I decided to turn a bar in Jerome into a strip club you’d be cool with that? Or how ‘bout if I decided to ignore the liquor ordinances and keep my establishment open until 6:00 AM along with outdoor rock bands in my beer garden?

Give me a personal break; governments regulate all sorts of things for the common good. It’s OK to be opposed to banning smoking but come up with something other than the obviously false notion that your board should not be “telling the establishments what they can or can’t do”. You tell them what tehy can do all the time.

The Political Party

Where do your donations to political campaigns go? Mostly to advertising but the Bloomington Pantagraph has this fun list of other places it goes.

According to state campaign records, Illinois politicians have spent more than $93,000 of their campaign cash on pizza in recent years.

They've also spent more than $201,000 on candy, $24,606 on cake and pancakes, and nearly $20,000 on ice cream.


…records show that state lawmakers, judges and others also bought $1,211 worth of lollipops and more than $145,000 worth of beer and wine.

"If they are ripping off anybody, they are ripping off their donors," said Morrison.

In the most recent filing period, state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka reported paying $120 to the city of Springfield to settle up a number of late parking tickets.


Records dating to the 1990s show that nearly $11 million has been spent on golf-related fund-raising activities.

Check out the whole article for even more examples.

None of this is illegal, of course. Still, I hate to think my $25.00 donation might go for lollipops. I guess you have to keep in mind that “bribing” people with food and golf is at least as effective as television ads.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Roll Call

ThirtyWhat’s grade school post I linked to earlier got me wondering if I could name all of my BSS teachers. I got all but one. Disclaimer: I may have some spellings wrong. Also I’m only including homeroom teachers but I certainly could name others. In order by grade they are:

K - Mrs. Heckler
1 – Sister Rose
2 – Sister Francetta
3 – Miss Craig
4 – Sister [damn, I forgot her name but I can clearly picture her]
5 – Sister Edna
6 – Sister Genevieve
7 – Mrs. Larson
8 - Mr. Shriner

Not bad, eh? And that’s just off the top of my head with no research. Now, don’t even bother asking me what I had for lunch yesterday.

Update: I just thought of it! Fourth grade was SISTER LOUISE.

The Lohan Ranger

Well, things are about to take a turn in Iraq. We’re sending in the big guns now: Lindsay Lohan. And she’s ready to kick some ass…
"I'm not afraid of going," she says. "My security guard is going to take me to a gun range when I get back to L.A., and I'm going to start taking shooting lessons."
Take that, Iraqi insurgency. Want to just give up now and save yourself a world of hurt?

And when L2 is done with that, she has other plans:
"I wanted to do what Marilyn Monroe did (during the Korean War), when she went and just set up a stage and did a concert for the troops all by herself. It's so amazing seeing that one woman just going somewhere, this beautiful sex kitten, who's basically a pinup, which is what I've always aspired to be."
Shoot ‘em dead then turn on the Vah-Vah-Voom! That’s a classy dame. I didn't think they made broads like that anymore.

I Heart State Workers

In an effort to out-pander Dan Naumovich for the state worker vote in the Illinois Times’ Best Blogger race (is the voting still going on?), I’m here to show my solidarity with Illinois’ government employees. I’ll start by saying I was a state worker for many years (nearly 10). And I’m the son of state workers –both my parents retired from the state. I’m one of you, vote for me!

But seriously, I like most of Dan’s assessment of the state worker (go read his post), but I think he only captures part of the essence of sate workerdom. Yes, the pension is a huge incentive to keep on working what is often a mind-numbingly dull job but I think just having a job with decent (not great, but decent) pay and decent (not great, but decent) benefits keeps a lot of people in their state cubicles. I also don’t think working for the state usually crushes one’s spirit. My mother had the spirit of ten men (women?) but put in over 20 years adjudicating disability claims to bring home a living wage and, yes, secure livable retirement.

I think a lot of people, regardless of who their employer is, see work as a means to an end. That is, they have no deep interest in working at all but know they need to eat and provide a home for themselves and their children. After work, weekends, holidays and vacations are when life is really lived. Work is just the price of enjoying the rest of life. To be honest, I’m a lot like that. I’ve had all kinds of jobs and have enjoyed some more than others, but in the end it’s about the paycheck. I suppose I could, if I was lucky, find some job that dovetailed with my personal interests but I’ve learned that often just results in turning something you enjoy into, well, work.

For what it’s worth, I don’t see the work ethic at the state as being much different than that at many other employers. I worked for a while at a large insurance company in Bloomington (rhymes with Fate Charm) and I can tell you I saw more inefficiency there than I ever saw working for the State of Illinois. I had a discussion about this with a friend some time ago and I think we came to the conclusion that large organizations, be they private or public, are going to wind up with a certain amount of waste and bureaucracy (think phone company, car manufacturer, credit card company, and large retail store).

Did I ever see any stereotypical state workers in my stint with the state? Yeah, sure, especially during my time working in Chicago. The Illinois Department of Employment Security headquarters on State Street was full of them, at least back when I was there a dozen years ago. At the same time, there were many, many dedicated employees there interested only in doing a good job. I worked with both.

Here in Springfield, I would say the quality of worker at the state is even better. I could count on one had the number of deadbeat state workers I ran into. Now, as in any workplace, there are going to be varying degrees of competence. Are there stupid people working for the state? You bet. But I work in the private sector now and I can tell you there is no shortage of dumbasses on this side things.

Finally, consider this: most state jobs are pretty thankless. If a decent wage wasn’t paid, no one would take those jobs and as frustrating as dealing with stat agencies may be now, it would be totally hopeless without the people that know their jobs inside and out. The pension may indeed help keep people working state jobs but I think that’s a good thing. There’s often a huge learning curve in administering public services and the continuity is good.

Loose Ends Tied: Part 2

More odds and ends encountered before, during and after my mother’s death last week.

My sister is still in town and staying at my mother’s condo. I called there yesterday looking for my sister and was sort of taken aback when the answering machine picked up and heard my mother’s voice.

It was my experience during my mother’s stay in the hospital that RNs are more “book smart” than the LPNs but the LPNs are more down to earth and more likely to level with you.

It was breast cancer that got my mom. Cancer terrorizes every family in this nation yet we squander hundreds of billions of dollars on useless foreign adventurism rather than using that money to fight a real enemy. I know wars are far more fun, make good TV and give us a chance to show that we are more patriotic than out neighbor but couldn’t we decide to get our priorities straight.

WWMD. While making funeral plans after mom died we (the kids) would sometimes hit a point of disagreement or at least uncertainty as to what to do. When those instances arose, we would simply ask WWMD –What Would Mom Do. The solution became very clear after playing the WWMD card.

I realize now that my grieving began as soon as it became apparent mom wasn’t going to recover this time. By the time of the funeral the worst of the grieving process was over for me. However, it was hard to look on friends at the funeral who were teary-eyed. I suddenly felt bad for them because they were now hurting to some degree too.

Which leads me to a related thought: it seemed odd to me to be getting sympathies from mom’s friends. I mean, they were deeply saddened by her loss too, right? There might be some degree of difference in the loss felt but not much. If I were to lose a close friend I’m not sure I could say it would feel “better” than losing my mother. Shouldn’t I be offering my condolences to mom’s friends?

More later

Monday, August 07, 2006

OMIGOD – I’m a BSS Grad Too

ThirtyWhat has issues with her experience in grade school, which in the Springfield Catholic school system includes “Middle School”. I would never, never, never want to be a girl in middle school, EVER.

Out of Touch

George W. Bush says:
You know, I hear people say, Well, civil war this, civil war that. The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box.
To which, Kos responds:
Where to even start?
Good thing the United States didn't have a civil war, what with the elections of 1860 and all. The American people obviously decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box that year and elected Abraham Lincoln.

Update: Attaturk agrees
Aside from this being a complete non-sequitur, perhaps Mr. Bush should talk to Cheney. For we know that the latter has watched "Ken Burns' 'The Civil War'" enough to realize that secession in the good ol' U.S. of A started in the wake of Mr. Lincoln being elected at the ballot box.

Thanks John

I’m such and idiot. I failed to notice that one of the Guys also filled in last Friday by beer blogging for me. Thanks John and I’m sorry I didn’t notice until today. I’m such an idiot.

Hooters Without The Wings

Dear Bloomington,

Even with a Show Me’s, we’re doing just fine.


Same As It Ever Was

It’s stuff like this that makes me think running against “corruption” in Illinois is a fool’s errand.
SPRINGFIELD - The key message of Republican Judy Baar Topinka's campaign for governor is that the Democratic incumbent has allowed political money to corrupt his administration and dictate who gets state jobs and contracts.

But while she spreads that message to voters, Topinka is accepting political money from banks and other financial institutions doing business with the state treasurer's office that she has run for three terms.

Although Topinka insists donors get no special treatment from her office, Gov. Rod Blagojevich's re-election campaign accuses her of hypocrisy.

A government watchdog group said Topinka, like Blagojevich, is fueling the public perception of Illinois as a state with no real separation between government and politics.
The Blagojevich camp has a point here. All politicians claim (falsely, I think) that their campaign donations result in “no special treatment”. However, corporations aren’t known for throwing money at something that doesn’t get them something in return, so I’m not buying that line.

The Topinka campaign may also be enjoying Blagojevich’s political hiring scandals but don’t EVEN try to tell me there won’t be political hiring going on in a Topinka administration (even if its not as egregious as that going on under Blagojevich). This goes on administration after administration. It wasn’t invented by Blagojevich and it will continue long into the future. That’s not to say it is right, just somewhat inevitable.

Loose Ends Tied: Part 1

Mom’s funeral was Saturday. Time to move on but before I do I’m going to throw out a few things I’ve experienced and learned in the course of one of the more memorable weeks in my life.

Here’s the thing, as horrible an event as losing a parent is, it’s real life. It draws out emotions and people and experiences. It’s all so human. There are lessons to be learned and realizations to be encountered. Here are some of mine. I may or may not have more later.

This one is obvious, but family and friends are so important in times of crisis. The support they provide is far greater than the sum of the parts. It’s an amazing source of strength.

I’ve never before been present for a person taking their last breath, much less a loved one. I’ve seen 10,000 people die on TV or the movies or read about it in books. Nothing prepares you for the real thing.

My mother died in Springfield’s Memorial Hospital. Her mother died there too, 36 years ago. Neither woman was originally from here.

Funeral homes charge out the ass for their services. But damn if they don’t think of everything at a time when you need someone taking care of even the smallest of details.

I had a dozen friends tell me that mom was their second mother. One of them was this guy. I’m sure my sisters had the same experience. I had no idea I had so many siblings.

I’ve reconnected with Springfield’s beautiful Oak Ridge Cemetery. It had been 20 years or more since Id been out there. Mom is there now. Well her ashes are, in a niche in the chapel. When the funeral home guy told us we had several options as to where mom’s remains could go, I spoke up immediately and said mom would, of course, like to be at Oak Ridge. She was a very inquisitive woman, always wanting to know more about everything including history. What better place could there be? She would enjoy being a neighbor of Abe Lincoln’s. Who wouldn’t? Plus, she was a very social woman who enjoyed people, and Oak Ridge, according to their literature, is the second most visited cemetery in the country, right behind Arlington National Cemetery. Perfect.

More later.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday Beer Blogging: Not This Week Edition

Due to personal circumstances I’ll not be blogging beer-wise today. However, John is stepping up to the plate in my absence.

Also, for some reason -probably subconsciously knowing I'd need material this Friday, ThirtyWhat sent me this picture a few days ago.

It's nice when your (blogging) family's got your back. Thanks for all the kind words during this difficult time.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hospital: Last Day

My mother passed away very peacefully this morning. All of her children and some grandchildren were with her. She's now free.

Supplemental Beer Blogging: Cooking With Beer Edition

I missed this earlier today but saw it in the SJ-R this afternoon while I was at the hospital. It’s an article on how some Springfield establishments like to cook with beer and how they do it. Good stuff. Recipes are included!

There’s also a good beer picture included but, as is my policy when it comes to SJ-R photos, I won’t post a copy here but rather invite you to look at it on the SJ-R site.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hospital: Day 3

I worked this morning and didn’t go in to the hospital until 11:30. Mom’s condition was stable and unchanged. Shortly after I got there her doctor friend came in and leveled with us that we are talking about days here. This was in response to my question about if she was going to starve to death since she had not eaten anything since Sunday and is unable to eat. In other words, her failing condition will get her long before starvation. Oh boy.

While every other part of her body seems to be doing well, her liver functions continue to tank. This, of course, should lead to failure of other organs eventually. But for now she doesn’t seem to be any worse off than she was yesterday. In fact, she became somewhat more alert late this evening moving her feet and even trying to utter some words. Ignoring all else, it seemed like she was “improving”. And therein lies the conundrum. If she regains enough consciousness to actually communicate, will it be worth it only for her to find out she’s days away from death? Or is it better she really never comes-to and just slips away unknowing?

We have put moving mom to the St. John’s Hospice on hold. Two of my sisters went over there today to scout it out. They weren’t impressed. You see, the hospice is in the process of moving and having parties and couldn’t be bothered to move my mother today. That’s right, the new facility, located in St. John’s itself, is almost ready to open and the employees are thrilled. So much so they had a party today. That included a farewell sign in the elevator that had fun messages written on it including one that indicated the move was great because they would finally have air conditioning! Of course there is AC in the old hospice building but this message and another source we talked to later indicate it may not be all that efficient or reliable. Bad news while we are in the midst of a heat wave. Anyway my sisters were unimpressed and I think now we will be staying in Memorial until they kick us out or until, you know, that other thing happens.

In a related matter, today I refused to let my son go to his grandparents for a few days. Normally that would be a fine thing, getting a few days off from chasing after the little guy. But I realized last night how much of a counterbalance he is to the horrors of tending to a dying parent. He is youthful, full of life and (hopefully) just entering a long and happy and healthy future. While my mother has had a good and full life, it’s coming to an end. My son has been on the planet only three years and has all of life yet to experience.

Overall, I was much more stable today. I’m part numb and part accepting of what’s going on. But there’s always tomorrow.

Semite I Have a Word With You

Disagreeing with this or that Israeli government policy (see Lebanon) does not make one an anti-Semite, much the way despising pedophile priests doesn’t make you anti-Catholic.

Mel Gibson, on the other hand, may be a little anti-Semitic.

Programming Note

I know most people who come here don’t do so to read a stupid personal journal. I don’t like reading blogs that are too self-centered either. But recent events in my life have sucked away most of the rest of the world to the point where much of it is just irrelevant background noise.

My philosophy behind blogging has always been to do it for my own benefit, as a way of expression, and to maybe let friends and family know what I’m thinking. Strangely, I have learned over time that most friends and family (like most people) really aren’t interested in reading blogs (even mine!). So that kind of just leaves me and a small group of people who, for whatever reason, stop by to see what dumb thing I’m writing about today.

Anyway, I’m probably going to continue blogging my way through my current personal crisis and try to throw in a few unrelated items as a way of keeping myself from becoming too myopic. I blog therefore I am! So if some of my posts are too depressing, I apologize but it’s just what I have to do right now.

Oh, and one more thing. Thank you all who have posted supportive comments here and send understanding messages. I really appreciate it.

Freedom Lost

There’s just a little less freedom in Washington today:

In an unannounced move, the [U.S. House of Representatives] cafeteria has removed the terms "freedom fries" and "freedom toast" from its offerings, and has reverted to using the dishes' more common names, "french fries" and "french toast."

Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who had implemented the change in 2003 in a fit of hollow but PR-friendly patriotism, refused to comment on the switch. "We don't have a comment for your story," a spokesman for Ney said.

Owing to his notably unpatriotic involvement in the Abramoff scandal, Ney was several months ago forced to step down from his post as chair of the House Administration Committee, which oversees the cafeteria menu, among other things. The change appears to have been made by Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), although he too declined comment.
French fry eating surrender monkeys! Why does Congress hate America?

So, if 9/11 changed everything, did engaging in the Iraq cluster-fuck change everything back?

Decatur Blowout

Say what you want about Springfield but at least we don’t have this problem:
DECATUR - Dane Bragg calls it the Saturday sign problem.

"It's the discount blowout signs, whether it's Kmart or K's Merchandise or the Fashion Bug, we've all seen them, the hot tub blowout signs," the assistant city manager told the Decatur City Council on Monday.

Councilmen are fed up with businesses flouting the law and blanketing the city on weekends with signs announcing blowout and clearance sales. The city is ready to crack down on offenders by seeking fines of up to $500 per sign.


"On Friday night, while everybody is asleep, they'll go around and pelt the entire city with signs," Councilman Shad Edwards said of offenders.

Now, the city will assign a staff member each weekend to scout high-profile areas where signs often are placed illegally. If signs are found, the staff member will call in a troubleshooter to collect the signs, and photograph and document the violation for court action.
Why doesn’t this happen here? Or does it and I’ve failed to notice? Does Decatur have a “culture of signage”? Do we have laws and enforce them? Or do the sign fairies that come out on Friday nights not know about Springfield?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hospital: Day 2

I didn’t spend as much time at the hospital today. This was the day to wait ands see if the antibiotics might revive mom. I even went to work in an attempt to distract myself from stewing about her all day. When I did go visit her at noon, there was no noticeable change yet. I wasn’t giving up but fears were starting to rise in me again. Yesterday, when the doctor extended the ray of hope that the infection might be the key, I glommed on to the notion that everything might be OK after all. Intellectually, I knew it wasn’t very likely but emotionally I felt a weight had lifted. Maybe, just maybe, all was not lost. It bought me a good night’s sleep and somewhere near 24 hours of modest peace.

I again worked this afternoon but the anxiety in me was rising rapidly. The anesthetic effect of the hope for a cure was starting to wear off. Reality was again mirroring my worst fears.

The news wasn’t any better when the infectious diseases doctor, the one who knows my mother personally, came in and told us, on balance the news was not good. Sure, he said, some of her readings were improved. The ammonia level in her blood was way down and here organs, other than the liver, were still strong. BUT! The skull crushing BUT was followed by the news that her liver was getting worse. Essentially, even getting rid of the infection was not likely to bring her back around. Shit.

My sister from Phoenix made it in last night. I don’t want to think what it must have cost her to fly herself and her two children in on a moments notice. My sister from California happened to be here already as all this began to unfold this past weekend. My third sister lives here in Springfield. We’re all here now, and after the bad news this evening we gathered and decided tomorrow mom goes into the hospice.

We held our little meeting at dusk on my sister’s back porch. That was where I had my last conversation with my mother one week ago. I didn’t know it was to be our last at the time. While my siblings and I discussed mom’s fate and what was to follow, I kept looking at the chair mom sat in just last week. Even then (a week ago), although weak, she was laughing and joking and worrying about my son as he ran around the yard through the lawn sprinklers and almost driving a bike off the porch steps. Within days she began rapidly slipping away and today we were discussing funeral plans on the spot where she was still very alive just a week ago.

I went back up to the hospital tonight for the last visit of the day. She did move a bit and fluttered her eyes open a few times but otherwise remained unconscious. God, a million dollars for ten minutes for 10 final questions.

And you know what, I have a sick feeling right now that the end is only beginning. How am I going to get through this? How do people do it?

One final demonstration of how whacked you can get when trying to deal with emotional pain. As I was leaving the hospital tonight, I started going through the first of two sets of double automatic doors that lead out of Memorial Hospital’s lobby. As I did, suddenly the Get Smart theme began blasting in my head. Now, there was a time whenever I went through doors that automatically slid open I would imagine myself Maxwell Smart heading for the phone booth elevator. But that was 35 years ago. Tonight, with “dunt-de-duuuuuh-dunt” going through my head, I laughed because, all in all, even with the events of the day, life can still be pretty funny. Certainly mom would see the humor.

The Booze Bamboozle

I call bullshit:
“Alcohol is not just a beverage, it’s a drug that alters the way people think, feel and behave,” she told the aldermen. “A recent study found that alcohol was more strongly linked to violence than other drugs. Expanding the time for alcohol . . . to be sold in Springfield will increase these problems, including drinking and driving.”
That’s a quote in today’s SJ-R from Anita Bedell, executive director of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems commenting on the Springfield City Council’s pending decision on whether or not to lift the ban on Sunday morning liquor sales in the city.

Man, talk about twisted logic. Wow, alcohol can be bad for you and there are studies that prove it! Who knew. And, of course, this means earlier alcohol sales on Sundays will translate into more drunks on the road. Brilliant! I’ve got news for you, Anita, the drunks are all hung-over on Sunday morning and are probably sleeping. They’ll get up later, during times alcohol sales are already legal, then get drunk and drive.

Oh, but there’s more. Ms. Bedell is alos quoted as saying:
“People in Springfield and the surrounding communities know the alcohol hours of
sale, and they can plan ahead to purchase alcohol for Sunday morning,” she said. Convenience should not take precedence over safety.”
So let me get this straight; those intending on getting drunk on Sunday morning already know to plan ahead and buy their booze , but allowing Sunday morning sales will then allow them to both buy the booze and get drunk on Sunday mornings. Oh, I see the difference now.

You know what, I really don’t care that much either way on this issue but I see no reason to continue the Sunday morning ban. Sure, it is a matter of convenience and convenience only, but so what. Nothing is going to change in terms of public safety if the ban is lifted. To suggest otherwise simply proves ban proponents have no argument.


So MTV is 25 years old today. I guess that’s impressive except the MTV that debuted in the summer of 1981 had already largely ceased to exist by the end of that decade. That is, by the late ‘80s the music channel was already moving away from music videos and into things that more resembled traditional television only hipper.

Right from the beginning of the MTV music video era, I’ve thought music videos to be great things, in theory at least. It seemed to me, back then especially, that putting video to the music was a great way to flesh out the artist vision. The reality has been far more disappointing but even bad videos at least offer the opportunity for sitting on the couch and making fun of them (see Bevis & Butthead, which by the way is another great MTV original program).

I don’t remember the first time I saw MTV but I think it was early 1985. When the music channel first appeared in 1981 neither the Carbondale cable system (where I was a college student) nor the one here in Springfield (where I often came for visits and school breaks) carried MTV for years. It was only while living in northern Illinois and then dating someone with cable did I have a chance to finally see MTV in all its glory during its prime. Prior to that, most of the music videos I saw were those on NBC’s Friday Night Videos program.

These days, I still often tune into music video channels through digital cable. My favorite being VH-1 Classic where I particularly like their The Alternative show. By the way, VH-1 Classic (channel 273 on Insight digital) today is re-running the entire first day of MTV from August 1, 1981. In recent weeks they’ve also been playing MTV’s original first hour of videos.

MTV ID (Moon Landing)