Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Beer Blogging: AB (Possible) Buyout Edition

This past weekend I heard from a friend who works at Anheuser-Busch that the St. Louis king of all beer manufacturers may be bought out. I hadn't heard this before but apparently there is some serious talk of this happening.

ST. LOUIS: Residents here have grown accustomed to seeing local corporations gobbled up by larger outside firms. But losing Anheuser-Busch Cos. could be the cruelest cut of all.

The largest U.S. brewery has long been a point of pride as a hometown attraction. The company's massive red-brick brewery draws tourists from around the country to see the Clydesdale horse stables, brewing vats and Busch family memorabilia dating back generations.

Reports that the company might be purchased by Belgium-based brewer InBev SA have residents worried they might lose a company as closely identified with St. Louis as the iconic Gateway Arch.

"St. Louis has gotten to the point where we have the brewery and the Cardinals (baseball team) — that's it," said John Schute, owner of the Sage restaurant and bar just across the street from the Anheuser-Busch brewery.

There's good reason to worry that InBev will make dramatic changes if the deal goes through, said Juli Niemann, an analyst with Smith Moore & Co. in St. Louis. While Anheuser-Busch has made strides to cut costs in the face of rising ingredient prices, InBev has a reputation for making new operations as lean as possible.

InBev has not yet made an official offer for Anheuser-Busch. But recent media reports have cited anonymous sources close to the European brewer who said the firm was considering an offer of $46 billion (€29.19 billion), or $65 a share, for Anheuser-Busch.

If InBev makes such an offer, it could be too sweet to refuse for Anheuser-Busch shareholders, even if executives oppose the move. The stock closed at $56.75 Tuesday and has traded as low as $45.55 this year.

Anheuser-Busch has been struggling along with other brewers in recent years as consumers have turned to cocktails, wines and craft beers. Rising ingredient costs have further pinched profits this year. Other big brewers are consolidating to compete — Miller Brewing Co., the second-largest U.S. beer-maker, and No. 3 Molson Coors Brewing Co. are planning to combine U.S. operations by midsummer.

If Anheuser-Busch is absorbed by InBev, many St. Louis residents worry the new company won't have the same dedication to charitable giving and supporting the city's cultural life. The brewer supports local festivals like the downtown Mardi Gras parade and a new beer heritage fair in the city's Forest Park.

Well, I have many favorites when it comes to beer and no AH product even cracks the top 25 but, hey, they're the home team. InBev, however, does already make a few fine beers:

But hey, InBev, leave our Bud alone!

Have a great weekend! And have a Bud Light while you still can.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Metro East University

Not to knock SIU-E as an institution (although it does need its own name), but I think I have an idea why its enrollment is up so much. The kids think (and maybe they’re right, how would I know) that Edwardsville is the new party school of choice. Having a graduated senior in my midst, I hear these things. In fact, a large contingent of my graduate’s class is going to Edwardsville, in part, I hear, for that reason.

Again, I’m not in any way dismissing SIU-E as a center for education and the general college experience. In fact, I think having a reputation for fun and attracting those looking for fun is a good thing.

In my day, 30 years ago, it was the real SIU in Carbondale that had the party cred. That party school reputation attracted some kids that were more interested in the “party” than the “school”, but they often didn’t make it and eventually washed out. The rest of us were able to somewhat temper our fun and were more than happy to have the overindulgers subsidize our educational institution and add a spice to the party scene.

That Useless Last Day of School

This really is stupid and it’s nothing new. I remember those silly show-up-and-get-your-report-card days even back when I was in grade school.

PEORIA — It's called report card day by many.

The day starts much the same as any ordinary school day: Students clamber onto buses, into mom and dad's car or hit the sidewalks heading for school. They go to their homeroom, take a seat, attendance is taken.

But that's about where the day ends at several schools, literally lasting only about as long as it takes for kids to receive their grades and head back out the way they came.

Under Illinois statute, it's one of two school days that may last less than the required minimum five clock hours of classroom instruction yet count as an entire school day.

Send the report cards by mail and use the day for instruction or just shorten the school year by a day. Why waste all the transportation and infrastructure costs for nothing that furthers a child’s education? And does it occur to anyone else that most school districts and even private schools pretty much adhere to the minimums required by law right down to the last possible minute? Shouldn’t the minimums be just that –minimums- with room for bigger and better?

Lisa '10

Can I second this (see, he's right most of the time):

To: Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan
Subject: Your political future
Status: Urgent

Three words:

Hat. Ring. Now.

Don't wait.

Announce today that you'll challenge incumbent Rod Blagojevich for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2010.

Really, the Dems need to move to oust Rod this time around. The alternative is either more Blago (yech!) or some Republican (yech-ish!). Redeem yourselves Illinois Democrats.

Update: Rich Miller takes a serious and in depth look at the idea. I don't really care if it's Madigan, but please get somebody.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Scarves of Terror

I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. Rachael Ray is a terrorist.

Does Dunkin’ Donuts really think its customers could mistake Rachael Ray for a terrorist sympathizer? The Canton-based company has abruptly canceled an ad in which the domestic diva wears a scarf that looks like a keffiyeh, a traditional headdress worn by Arab men.

Some observers, including ultra-conservative Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin, were so incensed by the ad that there was even talk of a Dunkin’ Donuts boycott.

‘‘The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad,’’ Malkin yowls in her syndicated column.

‘‘Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant and not-so-ignorant fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons.’’

The company at first pooh-poohed the complaints, claiming the black-and-white wrap was not a keffiyeh. But the right-wing drumbeat on the blogosphere continued and by yesterday, Dunkin’ Donuts decided it’d be easier just to yank the ad.

Sigh. More mind-numbing stupidity brought to you by the batshit crazy right-wing in this country. Talk about political correctness gone amok. It’s just a different brand of political.

Why does anyone listen to these people? At the core here we have a deeply pathological xenophobia, paranoia, and a very racist attitude toward Arabs in general. Sick, sick people.

Update: Hunter has more on the terrorist threat:
To bring America to its knees, all Bin Laden must do is make his next video while drinking from a can of Coca Cola. The nation would erupt in chaos; Coca Cola sales would vanish into nothingness. In his next video, he could casually munch potato chips; the entire snack industry would collapse. One after another, he could film himself driving an American car; he could insert himself into a Girls Gone Wild video; he could appear next to a caveman, or a gecko, or Captain Crunch; he could enroll in DeVry University. On the day he refinanced his home at new historically low rates, the United States housing market would collapse irretrievably. One by one, he could decimate the entire economic fabric of America merely by association. Not one person in fifty would be willing to buck social trends and still buy Coca Cola if Bin Laden was seen drinking it; our consumer-based economy would be destroyed.

Why stop at scarves, after all? If Islamic militants wished to truly damage America, they should make pants a symbol of their jihad. All of conservative America would immediately go patriotically pantsless, and the collective loss of American appetites would render the entire nation weak and anemic and ripe for takeover.
One problem lies in the fact that the right wing relies almost entirely on symbols and buzz words. Flag pins! The Pledge! The Flag itself! Scarves! Support the Troops magnets! Liberal, Liberal, Liberal! Patriotic! Nine-Eleven! Ronald Reagan (the myth, not the man)! Trial Lawyers! Communist! Terrorist! Taxes! Big Government! It all becomes so meaningless yet self-perpetuating among those who buy into it. They can’t even begin to see how silly they are.

Liquid Gold

The Mad Max movies are starting to look more like documentaries these days.
Most gas thefts are still perpetrated by motorists who drive off without paying. After seeing declines in drive-offs earlier this decade, after many stores began requiring drivers to pre-pay, the National Association of Convenience Stores says they’re rising sharply again.

Convenience stores sell more than 80 percent of the fuel U.S. motorists put in their vehicles, and stores in high-traffic areas along Interstate highways are often hit several times a day, the association said. The average store will lose more than $1,000 in stolen fuel this year, it said — and more than double that at stores that don’t require pre-payment.
OK, how do gas stations have fuel stolen if customers are required to pre-pay? I don’t get that. Also, I’m not sure why the gas stores in Springfield don’t all require pre-payment since it only takes something like one drive off a day make selling gas nothing but a loss leader for their convenience store items. I was told recently by a cashier at my friendly neighborhood gas station that the city doesn’t allow for pre-pay only gas stations. I have no idea if that’s true but I think you should have to either pre-pay or use a credit/debit card. I know it’s hard if you don’t have plastic to estimate how much you’re going to need but I assume you can always go back into the store for a refund if you over pay.

Then there’s the increased risk of having your gas stolen from your vehicle:
But with the average price of a gallon of gas having more than doubled in the last two years, thieves are branching out. Across the country, drivers are waking up to find their gas caps pried open and their tanks dry.

While there are no national statistics yet tracking an increase in gas thefts, police across the country say they’re investigating more reports than ever before:

Using an empty gas can and a siphon, thieves were able to suck 30 gallons of diesel from a bus in a Bethesda, Md., parking lot.

In Beaver Dam, Wis., “they’re just going to cars at night and siphoning gas out of them,” said Stephanie Lehmann, who said several cars in her neighborhood had been hit.

Police in Evansville, Ind., said thieves drained all of the fuel this month from seven trucks belonging to a local office of JBM Inc., a metal fabrication chain. They put the loss at $700.

And police in Denver are investigating a rash of incidents in which thieves drill small holes into gas tanks and siphon off the fuel. “This is clearly not the way it’s been done in the past, by taking a hose and putting it in a gas tank,” police Detective John White said.
That last one is what I was thinking might start happening soon. I was (am) contemplating getting a locking gas cap but realized that might only be inviting even more damage. Still it seems like a good precaution for now. Anyone else taking measures to guard your gas?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Who’s Racister?

I keep hearing that people who vote for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama because they would never vote for a black person are no more racist than, say, a black person who voted for Obama because he (Obama) is black. I’m not sure I agree.

Sure, race enters both decisions, but in one case the person voting for Clinton isn’t really voting for her but against a (any) black person. Meanwhile, I suspect the black voter casting a vote for a fellow African-American is doing so not out of hate for Whitey but simply out of pride for having a black candidate to vote for. That same black voter would probably have voted for Clinton had Obama not been in the race, while our white voter would not have voted for Obama simply because they hate black people. Like I said, I don’t think those are the same thing and I have a hard time calling the black voter racist in this case.

Disclaimer: Obviously, I’m not saying all, or even most, white voters for Clinton are racist and no black voters for Obama are racist, blah, blah, blah. This has more to do with the false equivalency I see coming through the media lately.

Mow Once a Year, Whether it Needs it or Not

If you think the state’s highways are looking a bit shaggy along edges, it’s not your imagination. Apparently, the state isn’t mowing along the highways until later in the season this year.

Coming off a harsh winter during which the state spent $89 million to clear snow and ice, more than double normal, only the most vital roadwork is being done until the new fiscal year begins in July, officials said.

As a result, state crews aren't mowing grass or removing dead animals along state routes, said Christine Reed, director of highways at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

"But we will not compromise safety," vowed Reed, adding that inspections and maintenance dollars will be aimed at deteriorated bridges.
Well, it seems to me there are some safety issues involved with long grass in terms of visibility, particularly with deer. And is it a healthy idea to have a lot of road kill rotting on the roads?

Of course, my real problem with the idea is that it goes against my instincts as a born and bred suburban male: grass should be cut! I’ve been mowing yards since I was 10 and I’m not inclined to like unsightly long grass. I had that feeling just this weekend as I drove down Veterans Parkway (a state route) and noticed all the long grass in the median and along the sides. I know letting the grass grow saves money and energy but it’s going to take time for me to get used to it.

This does bring to mind one question though: is there something that we should be planting on our roadsides that is less energy intensive when it comes to maintenance? More trees? More rock?

Still Laugh-In

Sometimes, rarely, Eric Zorn is just full of shit.

Yes, public comedy is very specific to time and place, but Laugh-In was very funny perhaps because it did pay attention to the times. I have some retrospective DVDs of the show and while they certainly are dated, they're still funny. And I have fond memories of my family watching it and laughing out loud back in the late 1960s. I'm not denying nostalgia now plays a part in my opinion, but so what?

Oh, and RIP Dick Martin. Thanks for the memories, man.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Is Barack Obama a Muslim?

I did some research on this and found a very definitive answer here.

I'm also getting closer to understanding whether Obama is the Anti-Christ. I'll let you know what I find out.

Friday Beer Blogging: Utopia Edition

All this chitter-chatter about how expensive gas is made me wonder at what point would I consider beer too expensive to drink. (OK, there's no logical link between the two except they're both liquids, but ultimately all topics lead back to beer somehow.) So, using my friend Google, I looked up what the most expensive beer is . I was surprised to find it may be something brewed by the Sam Adams folks called Samuel Adams Utopias.

Article here.

Beer is one of those tastes that most people think they can identify. But most have probably never tasted a brew like Utopias. It's made using the basic brewers' arsenal - hops, malt, yeast, water - but at 27 percent alcohol by volume (called ABV in the industry), and with flavors that call to mind a cognac or a fine sherry, this is beer taken to the extremes of flavor and alcohol content.

"Utopias is a reminder of how wonderful the range is of what beer can be," says Jim Koch, founder and owner of Boston Beer Company, which makes Samuel Adams beers.

The silky, brandy-colored drink is a blend of liquids that have been brewed over the last 13 years, then aged in various woods, including bourbon casks. It's finished in sherry and Madeira casks.

The release of Utopias, which retails for about $130 per 24-ounce bottle, is an event in the beer world. It routinely sells out ("If we could get more, we could sell more," says Wes Narron, manager of the Wine Gallery in Brookline), but with only 12,000 bottles produced, "Sam Adams isn't going to rise or fall on how much Utopias we sell," says Koch.
That's only $780.00 a six pack or a mere $1,320.00 a case, but the bottles are big! See, gas ain't so bad.

Almost every picture of the stuff I can find has it in a snifter. I've never been convinced that's proper beer drinking accommodation.

And for that price, I expect a 1960's era Barbara Eden to come out of th bottle as well.

Have a great weekend! And don't spend all your gas money on beer.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Red Light District

A proposed law that would let Sangamon and several other counties install cameras to catch motorists who run red lights advanced Wednesday in the General Assembly, but it remains a work in progress.
The reality (elsewhere, anyway):

One of the most powerful selling points for photo enforcement systems, which now monitor 175 intersections in Los Angeles County and hundreds more across the United States, has been the promise of reducing collisions caused by drivers barreling through red lights.

But it is the right-turn infraction — a frequently misunderstood and less pressing safety concern — that drives tickets and revenue in the nation's second-biggest city and at least half a dozen others across the county.

....The city of Los Angeles issued more than 30,000 photo tickets last year at 32 camera-equipped intersections. About eight in 10 involved right turns, said Los Angeles Police Sgt. Matthew MacWillie, the program's co-coordinator.
Yes, technically not coming to a full stop when making a right turn on red is a violation of the law. I once got a ticket for making a rolling stop and then a right turn at a stop sign in New Berlin, so I know. But this really is a very, very minor safety concern. In my case, I looked, nearly stopped and kept going because there was absolutely nothing coming. I got the ticket but there was no safety issue. And that’s the case with most of the not-quite-stopped right turns on red.

So if 80% of violations at a red light are these sorts of things, I think it becomes more of a revenue generator than a safety enforcer. That’s not to say I wouldn’t love to catch every SOB the genuinely blows through a red light, but let’s be reasonable about what is and is not a safety concern.


My friendly neighborhood gas station upped the price of a gallon of gas to $4.06 yesterday afternoon. By this morning it was down to $3.99.

Usually, gas prices don’t change in less than 24 hours. Did bad press push it down to just under $4? Or were they getting the bad press out of the way so that when they up it to over $4 for good no one will bitch about it becuse it's old news?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Alternate Video Resources

The song is nothing to sing about, but using surveillance cameras to film your video for you is brilliant.

H/T to Unfogged.

Update: Link fixed.


For the first time ever, I saw a scooter in our company parking lot yesterday.
A sign of the times, I guess. And with this news, I expect to see more of them.

Guys, Here Are Your Answers

In response to the questions posed by the Just Two Guys, I submit my answers here and at their site:

Many people say there is nothing to do in Springfield. Do you agree with this statement?
No. This is a common complaint among youth and I think it’s heard almost everywhere. Perhaps they complain a little less in the larger metropolitan areas (because there is, in fact, more to do) but they all get bored at times and whine about it.
A common complaint about Springfield is that there is a serious lack of shopping. Do you agree or disagree?
There isn’t much I need/want that I can’t get here. Besides, I do much of my non-food shopping online. As long as Springfield has a working internet connection, I’m good to go.
I suspect this complaint is really rooted in there not being a really cool place to shop like Michigan Avenue or the Galleria. Well, guess what folks, you’re not all that far away from those places. Springfield is lucky to be positioned within driving distance of both Chicago and St. Louis.
Is Springfield headed in the right direction?
Generally, Yes.
In your opinion, has Springfield gotten better in the last 10-20 years or has it gotten worse?

Oh, much better. I would actually extend that back 25 -30 years when the downtown was in ruinous shambles. It was a horrible place. The re-emergence of downtown has to be the greatest thing that’s happened to this city recently.

Anyone remember the idiotic “commissioner” form of government we used to have here? City government is much better now.

The turning point for the city was sometime in the early to mid 1980s. It’s a totally different place now.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Some place warm would be nice in the winter. Although it is hard for me to imagine not having the seasons as I’ve come to know them here in Illinois. The older I get, the more I hate winter in general. But even winter offers that first snow which is still magical and calming to me. I suppose I could always visit a snowy place and then quickly retreat to my warm Florida residence.

On a more practical level, I would also like to live somewhere that has good universal healthcare (France or Germany, not Canada or Britain). Worrying about where healthcare is going to come from is a big turn off to me. Let’s call this place Future America.
Why do you choose to live in Springfield?
I have left Springfield three times in my life, each time with the intention of never returning (to live, anyway). And three times, after years of absence, I have come back. It’s Home Base. My friends and family are here. When everything else goes wrong there is still Springfield.
A couple of things that make Springfield kind of attractive, including the cost of living (housing is affordable) and there really isn’t a long commute to anywhere you need to go. Cheap and convenient aren’t bad things for a city to be.
How would you describe the people of Springfield?

Provincial, short-sighted, way too Republican, bad drivers. But I like them anyway.
What is your opinion of the job situation in Springfield?
For a town this size, it’s not too bad. At least I think it’s about average. There is very little by way of manufacturing but state government and the medical industry are big pluses for the city’s economy.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I’ve always thought the more information the better. But Ezra’s right, there’s a contingent of folk hiding behind “free-market” notions making the decision making by consumers less informed, therefore, in my opinion, less free.
It's a bit rich to watch libertarians and associated anti-government types oppose a regulation that gives consumers more useful information. This, after all, is how markets are supposed to work best. Consumers have better information, can pursue their preferences in a more coherent manner, and the market can provide, adapt, and innovate in response. Take trans fats, which have disappeared from just about every food save margarine now that they need to be listed on the package. If caloric information was posted, a lot of currently popular items would become unpopular (the awesome blossom, say), and restaurants would innovate towards lower calorie, but still filling, foods. In the absence of that information, the incentives to do so are weak. It's one of those soft ways of making the market work better towards a social end: We agree that people should be healthier, people agree that they want to be healthier, and all this would do is give them the information to make healthy decisions. It would not actually bar any foods from production or sale. But because there's some odd desire among some on the right to lionize unhealthy decisions (smoking!) and defend existing business models, whatever they may be, to the death, this regulation faces a steep uphill climb.

Specifically, on the menu issue, I would love that. But restaurants have no incentive to do this except for listing some “On the Lite Side” items to appease those who are hoping for a lower calorie meal.

I believe restaurants already have provide nutritional information if you ask for it. But even if providing such information upon request is the law, I think it inadequate. It should be right on the menu. If you don’t care what you eat, fine, ignore it. The rest of us would like to have some more information on what we are putting into our bodies.

If such a requirement would force restaurants to charge another dime a plate for the overwhelming cost of new menus, then so be it (I can see where the new menu issue might be a genuine concern for local restaurants but in no way would this be a financial hardship for the chains).

In the mean time, there are web sites that publish this information. Here’s one, for example, that has the nutritional info from menus of what looks to be hundreds of restaurants. Click on some of the nutritional info for your favorite chain restaurant meals if you want a fright.

This isn’t a huge deal to me, but it sure would be nice to have that information at our figure tips as we prepare to order.

Wild Buffalo Gnat Wings

I was going to post about this yesterday but never got around to doing so. But now the SJ-R has beat me to it and they have some actual information: The gnats are back. Actually, they’re buffalo gnats.

Last year the infestation was horrible. It was impossible to stay outside in the early evening-to-dusk time period. My old posts are here and here and here.

Which brings up something else. I just started noticing these things late last week. My old posts linked to above were dated 4/30, 5/2 and 5/11 of last year. The last post, in part, lamenting how long the infestation had been going on. This year, the weather has been way behind schedule. Right now we’re having a very cool May with temps more reminiscent of the end of April. I think the gnats are feeling it too and are out later this time.

This year, so far –and maybe given the weather, the gnat factor doesn’t seem to be as bad. Although, I was amused yesterday at my cat stubbornly refusing to get away from them and trying to swat them and bite them out of the air. She eventually ran under my truck for cover.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Share Your Feelings, Springfield

Those 2 Guys need your help again:
Basically, Micah and I got to thinking about the staggering numbers presented in the poll. Nearly 96% of respondents indicated that they would rather live somewhere other than Springfield. We thought it would be interesting to make a documentary about Springfield residents and their views on the city. We really have no angle in mind. We want to glean information from the blogosphere, from the SJ-R (especially from comments people make in the comments section), from our day-to-day encounters, and from filmed interviews. We want to talk to people about how they feel about Springfield.
Go fill out the online questionnaire. I’m going to have to think about some of the questions first.

The Age of Cyberness

People over a certain age exist in a universe where it's almost as if the web doesn't exist and things like the nightly news, the daily paper, and the cable networks are utterly dominant. For people below a certain age, the nightly news is totally irrelevant, the daily paper is primarily a website, and things like blogs and web videos matter a great deal.
I’m not sure you can draw a line at a particular age, but he’s right; there are internet people and non-internet people (or in the silly lexicon of Illinois politics, that would be internet-centric and non-internet-centric). Yes, the non-nets tend to skew older simply because it isn’t what they have been used to, while the nets folks have practically grown up with it. If you are reading this blog you almost certainly belong to the nets group.
Clearly, I fall into nets camp. Sure, I grew up non-nets because the internet didn’t exist in any usable or comprehensive fashion until after I was 35. I used to read newspapers and magazines (the paper kind) and religiously watch the TV network newscasts. I don’t do any of that anymore. I read a number of newspapers online, only read news magazine articles I’m pointed to on the net and most of my TV news come from the cable news networks or online video links. (Is cable maybe a common media for both groups?)

Still, I wonder if there is an age where this divide breaks one way or another. I’m guessing (wildly) that the age where people get more of their information from non-internet sources is about 40 or 45. This would have to take into account access and a million other factors but that’s my best guess. Obviously there’s going to be a mix for almost any individual. On rare occasions I still pick up (but not buy) a newspaper or magazine (think Dr.’s office or newsstand) and even more traditional people may use email wherein they get some news. It’s difficult to find the informational divide based solely on age.

Jurassic Rock

Working in the garage with me yesterday, my son, almost 5, wanted me to turn on the radio. I have an old receiver in the garage with some rough outdoor speakers. I hardly ever use it since I’m rarely in the garage long enough to bother. Anyway, I turn on the receiver and it’s set at WYMG where I leave it, not really caring that much what crappy local station is we listen to. At some point, it occurs to me that the songs they’re playing are no different from the “classic rock” tunes they were playing 10 or 15 or 20 years ago (I think they’ve been around 20 years now).
So at what point can a newer song be graduated (retired?) into the “classic rock” genre? Or is classic rock just another word for 1970s rock hits? Not that they’re playing bad songs –I liked most of them at some point, 30 years ago- but who can stand to listen to the same Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Boston songs for decades on end? Gah…get me my satellite radio.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Power of Persuasion

So, who was it? He or she should get a salesperson of the century award.
He was employed as a singing waiter in Las Vegas when he met someone who persuaded him to move to Springfield.
Ruh? I say it was a woman and he wasn't persuaded to move to Springfield so much as he was persuaded to follow her. Use your other head, man.

But it must not have worked out:
He plans to move to Los Angeles in August.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Chicago Smells like Barf

I post this only because the portion of my non-Chicago-centric audience would demand I do so to balance the nice things I say about The City.
So I park my car, see, behind the post office on 19th and Ashland. And I get out of the car, see, and I am suddenly gagging because there is a smell on the wind like barf, like if you were standing over a paper shopping bag full of barf. But there's no shopping bag.

I remember once in high school some kid had snuck into the ventilator system and barfed in there, and we were in gym class, and the whole gym smelled like that. And until today that's the largest space I could even imagine being filled with that smell.

That actually reminds me of a Chicago are experience I had about 15 years ago. I was living and working in the South Loop area downtown, but business took me that day to Aurora. I don’t think I had ever been to Aurora before. Anyway, I pulled in the parking space at my destination and got out of the car. I was instantly hit with panic as I thought my car was on fire. That is, I smelled something that reminded me all the world of an engine cooking. I looked for telltale smoke or even flame, but found none. Still uneasy, I walked away from the car and noticed the smell didn’t dissipate. Oh, I realized. It wasn't my car, it was the town. I'm still not Aurora-centric because of that.

Friday Beer Blogging: Smuttynose Edition

I kind of stumbled onto this brewer here on the 'nets. Looking for random beer things to blog about on a Friday, I ran into a New England brew called Smuttynose. Intrigued by the name, I clicked on in.

The Smuttynose Brewing Company is located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and their variety of beers are distributed mostly in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, but they do list one distributor in Wisconsin. I've never seen them sold around here though.

Smuttynose is named for Smuttynose Island, located off the coast of New Hampshire, part of a group of islands there.

Smutynose comes in a variety of flavors and their bottles are nicely decorated.

And more...

I've never had a Smuttynose. Don't know that Friar Tuck will ever carry them, but maybe, I guess.

By the way, for you locals, I just happened to be in Friar's this week and noticed their micro brewery and imported beer shelves to be half empty. Concerned, I inquired and found out they're preparing for a bunch of new inventory. So look for that. But remember, I saw it first.

Have a great weekend! And have a Smuttynose for me is you have access to one.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Render a Verdict

So, what say you Springfield blogoshere; is the new SJ-R site a good one? Are the changes positive? Iggy thinks it’s a great improvement.

It always takes me a bit to get oriented after a layout change. But so far, I’m happy with the new look and function of the online paper.

Back on Bikes

Continuing my focus on bike trails/lanes in Springfield, I was shocked to see how bad it really is. The SJ-R compiled this meager list:
Wabash Trail, paved, 2.5 miles between the Westchester and Sherwood neighborhoods

Interurban Trail, paved, 6.8 miles between Springfield and Chatham, starts just south of MacArthur Boulevard and Stanford Avenue

Lost Bridge Trail, 5 miles, from Illinois Department of Transportation building on Dirksen Parkway to Rochester

The city does not have a list of bike lanes, but spokesman Ernie Slottag said he believes the only existing lanes are on Stanford Avenue from South Fifth Street to MacArthur Boulevard and sections of Koke Mill Road west of Iles Avenue.

Bike lanes are planned for the reconstructed Iles Avenue, as well as being considered for the extension of 11th Street.
That’s it. Pretty pathetic. Of course you can always bike on the city streets. I won’t and most people who might otherwise use their bicycle more won’t either.

And, hey, whatever happened to mopeds? All the rage 20 years ago, I never see or hear anything about them anymore

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Gas. Per gallon. Regular unleaded. At my friendly neighborhood gas station.

Well, at least it’s not $4/gallon…yet. Well, the premium gas already is but who buys that? (Seriously, who does?)

If most of this money wasn’t pure profit for the oil companies and crude oil suppliers, and instead was being used to fast-track energy and transportation alternatives, I might be OK with it in the long run. But as it is now, we have the worst of both worlds: Budget crushing prices at the pump and no one doing much to ease the demand for oil.

Friends of George –You Have Been Warned

I don’t even know what to say about this except I’m glad I won’t be on his e-mail list:

President Bush reveals that when he finally leaves the White House, the first thing he'll do is resume E-mailing his buddies. "I can remember as governor, I could stay in touch with all kinds of people around the country firing off E-mails at all times of the day to stay in touch with my pals," he says in a Yahoo-Politico interview. "One of the things that I will have ended my public service time with is a group of friends, a lot of friends, and I want to stay in touch with them, and there's no better way to stay in touch with them than through E-mail."

Make room in your spam folders folks. I see his post-presidency as being a fruitful affair of right wing forwards and funny pictures of monkeys.

Memorial Drive

I wasn’t aware (or had forgotten) that the original version of this legislation had even passed.
State lawmakers are thinking of revising a new law that lets families ask for a roadside marker to memorialize the loss of a loved one who died because of a drunken driver.
Under the law, which took effect this year, surviving relatives of a crash victim may fill out an application asking the Illinois Department of Transportation to erect a roadside marker in memory of the deceased.

The fatal accident must have occurred on or after Jan. 1, 2003. But House Bill 4736 would change the law so a relative could seek a roadside marker for any crash that occurred on or after Jan. 1, 1990.
I have no problem with memorial markers but why are they limiting them to just those killed by drunk drivers? Sure, it makes a statement about the dangers of drunk driving, but drunk driving isn’t even close to being the only danger on the road that kills people. Sometimes when I see the improvised markers, it makes me look around to see if this is a particularly dangerous patch of road. They make me more aware of how dangerous driving can be and that my best defense is being aware of the conditions around me.

In fact, other than not drinking yourself, there’s little you can do about drunk drivers while you are driving. You can, however, be more cautious and attentive in driving even while sober. This alone would probably save more lives than getting all the drunks off the road. I say allow the memorial markers be erected for everyone, even if it’s only a reminder to be careful out there.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fired Up

Gosh, remember the days (way back about a year ago) when wingnut terrorist-phobes were pretty sure wildfires were being set deliberately by Muslim jihadists. Don’t hear much about that anymore. Their xenophobic scare campaign has moved on.
Now it’s just that well-known terrorist Barack Obama they seem worried about from under their beds. Well, I’m sure 24 will be back on the air one of these days soon and that should keep them entertained for a while.

Traveling Time Again

I’ve never seen the British TV series Life on Mars but I’m interested in the concept now that ABC has indicated it will begin airing an American version this fall.
The show involves a police officer who finds himself transported back to 1973. Details of the British series here. I’m a sucker for time travel stories, so I imagine I’ll be watching.

The Protest For/Against Everything

I see WMAY is sponsoring a rally-protest-gathering at the Illinois State Capitol tomorrow. The message on their website reads:
Fed up with a government that is non-responsive, wasteful, or corrupt? Fed up with a process that seems to shut you out? It's time to stand up and be counted. Join 970 WMAY this Wednesday at 2nd & Capitol, at the feet of Abraham Lincoln in front of the Statehouse. We will gather together for "THE RALLY FOR COMMON SENSE". We've invited lawmakers to come and show that they understand your frustration, but to really send the message, we need you. If you are tired of state jobs leaving Springfield, if you're tired of pay-to-play, if you've been using the word IMPEACH a lot more often - join us Wednesday in the noon hour, or listen live here on 970 WMAY, the News and Talk of Springfield.
I’m always a little wary of political events, and that’s what this is of course, sponsored by media outlets that on the one hand bring us the news but also thrive on talking about controversy on their talk shows. Create event, cover it in your news, talk about it on your talk shows, sell advertising. But whatever. In general, I think political protest is great and should be encouraged so more power to them.

However, this thing strikes me as a little unfocused and scattershot in it aims. It could just as easily be the “Sick of it All” rally. I mean, is this to encourage the lawmakers to impeach Gov. Blagojevich? I’m guessing a lot of people planning to attend have that in mind. (You can even download and print from the WMAY website a Blago mask to wear for whatever reason.) Others are, I assume, coming to protest the real and theoretical move of state jobs from Springfield, which, like I said before, is a purely local issue and not many lawmakers representing other districts are all that worried about, especially if their district stand s to benefit. Then there are the usual budget problems (no one wants to raise taxes or cut spending), lawmakers pay raises, and assorted other political hackery that goes on all the time. Sure, plenty to protest, but all at once? I’m not sure how seriously that’s going to be taken.

And how will the lawmakers and governor view this. Well, the governor won’t be around and has demonstrated he really doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Lawmakers? Well they are going to view this as largely a gathering of the indigenous people and fear not any repercussions at the ballot box. And again, let’s be honest, this is a local event. We’ve got some righteous grievances, many with statewide implications, but this isn’t a protest involving the rest of the state and I think its impact is going to be minimal to non-existent because of that.

I think Springfield, as a community, has always had a distorted view of both ownership and influence on state government. And that’s for obvious reasons: We man the jobs, can see the Capitol from many places in town and generally feel the presence of state government to a much greater degree than other Illinois communities. And, thanks in part to our local media like WMAY, I think the community has had a slightly (and only slightly) disproportional effect on lawmakers and the governing institutions. Some of that is changing, I think, due to technology (internet, cell phones) that allows for better communication with the media in other parts of the state. Maybe I’ll flesh that notion out a bit more in another post.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Chicago, Wisconsin

Via Srange Maps, we have this Swiss Airlines map of North American destinations. Some of the cities are a tad misplaced.

Chicago now looks like it might be a six hour drive away from here. And much to the delight of you non-Chicago centrics, it looks like the city is now in Wisconsin. Fantastic, now we’re just like Iowa!

Stuck With It

Not so surprising results here.

The intersection of Hedley Road and West White Oaks Drive was voted the most annoying intersection in the city by a plurality of residents taking an survey last week...

And, according to the story, nothing can or will be done. And that’s that; move on folks, nothing to see here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Supplemental Beer Blogging: Even More PBR

I just can't stop the PBR jibber jabber.

1) Hey, who can forget this scene-of-truth from Blue Velvet.

2) And then there's this classic PBR commercial. Dames love it too!

3)And who said PBR is like bath water? I guess this guy.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Insane Bus Driver Tales

I probably shouldn’t think this is funny but I do, only because no one was seriously hurt save the broken “decorative fingernails”.
Parents and students who traveled on a bus before attending the Freeport [Illinois] High School prom Saturday night said Tuesday the bus driver was verbally abusive and caused injury to several passengers when he stopped suddenly on a return trip from Rockford.

Illinois State Police arrested Robert Irwin, 31, of Millington, Tenn., after he arrived at the Masonic Temple in downtown Freeport driving a bus with 26 teenagers planning to attend the prom. Irwin, the owner of Amazing Transportation of Crystal Lake, was cited for obstructing justice, reckless driving, and other offenses relating to licensing, insurance and equipment for the bus he was operating.

Heather Thomas, who was on the bus, said Irwin "slammed on the brakes," at the entrance to

Freeport on the U.S. 20 Bypass after arguing with a passenger who requested additional time for the teens on the bus.

"I’ve never been so scared in my life," Thomas said.

Thomas said she and other passengers were standing and listening to music when the bus stopped suddenly, causing the teens to fall forward or lose their balance. Thomas said her dress was ripped as a result of the incident, and many of the girls were crying and complaining of ripped clothing. One passenger said several decorative fingernails were ripped off her fingers when the bus stopped suddenly.

After the incident, Kyle said he and the other teens sat down and the music on the bus got quiet.

"I was really mad. I mean, we’re going to prom and my girlfriend is crying, and people were hurt and scared," Marcum said.

Thomas said Irwin made derogatory comments to the girls on the bus, and after stopping suddenly, became verbally abusive and turned onto Hollywood Road, away from downtown Freeport.

"He started screaming at us and telling us that he was going to let us off in the middle of nowhere," Thomas said.
Sure this guy was a complete (and criminal) asshole but isn’t there an inherent safety issue with standing on a moving party bus? Not to ruin anyone’s fun, but shouldn’t milling around a party be limited to stationary locations? Also, doesn’t this validate my long-standing contention that there should be a co-driver like a co-pilot on a plane?

Well, that’s one prom they’ll never forget. Go read the whole thing.

On Being Springfield Centric

Dear Springfield,

While we understand you like having the lion’s share of state jobs, having them moved to other parts of the state really doesn’t bother us all that much. In fact, we kind of like the idea as long as some of those jobs come our way. So don’t count on us to join you in the outcry against the idea any more than you all would if one of our employers moved some of its positions to your town.

Have a nice day,
The Rest of Illinois