Monday, April 30, 2007

Weekend Pruning

This weekend we pruned. We lopped and sawed a little, and then we pruned some more. We spent most of the weekend pruning, and there is still more to do.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gagging Freedom of Speech: Another Blog Bites the Dust

Blogs shake up the status quo. In many societies that restict freedom of speech, that can be very troubling to government. The government, in turn, decides that blogging is bad. Today I read sad news about a blogger who is shutting down his blog as he believes that the government is on to him. Having read a number of "closing" posts similar to this on various blogs over the past few years, it is with sadness that I found out that the Sandmonkey, an Egyptian blogger, will be no more.

Repressive governments find many ways to silence the free speech of blogs. Intimidation and censorship are common. An inmportant question: how many years can a government silence a populace once they have experienced the heady freedom of speaking openly?

The Sandmonkey's closing post is here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Don't Worry, No Problems in the Middle East

I went to a Drudge link on John Edwards' view on the global war on terror, and I found this comment that was so rich, I knew I had to share it:
The solution is simple. We are capitalists and we are wrong about the middle east, they are peace loving people who just want to be on equal terms with everyone. We should simply sell them our nuclear weapons so they won't have to make them on thier own. We can make some money and pay for our welfare state, illegal immigrants, the national debt, the trade deficit, and medical care for everyone. I'm sure everyone will feel perfectly safe, noble, and happy knowing we have sold the good people in the middle east exactly what they want and we are all one big happy family. I know no-one would mind if we sold them nuclear weapons since the liberals have made it so clear what good people they are and what bad people we are.

Thanks, rj, I think you said it all.

Friday, April 27, 2007

We Continue the Animal Blogging with Ottters Holding Hands

You shouldn't miss the video of Otters Holding Hands! We tried to embed the video, but that doesn't seem to be working, and it would be wrong to keep this from you!

In Vancouver, Canada CBC reports that this is the most popular Youtube animal video of all time.

h/t reader JK, via email

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Malaria Awareness, American Idol, and Sanjaya

No, that picture isn't the latest from Dancing With the Stars, its a picture from the White House Lawn where Malaria Awareness Day took place several hours before American Idol's TV program on poverty in Africa. If you saw Idol tonight (far better than last night's show, as tonight Sanjaya showed up in the audience) perhaps you were convinced every dollar makes a difference in fighting disease in Africa.

Rather than giving through the American Idol initiative, I've chosen to target my money directly to combat malaria. Every 30 seconds, a child dies in Africa from malaria, which is reckoned to be even a worse problem than AIDS. Nothing But Nets, one of the charities featured on American Idol, provides bednets to impoverished Sub-Sarahan Africans as well as educating the family on how to properly use the bed net to prevent Malaria by keeping out mosquitos who spread the disease. (You probably think of bednets as mosquito nets.) Donating directly to this charity has the benefit that every dollar you give is matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Since I figure that high its time that Bill Gates gave back a little to me, I'm donating to Nothing but Nets directly on the charity's website.

If you are generally a little suspicious on how much of your charitable dollar goes to highly paid non-profit executives and mailing you more appeals for more money, there is comfort in the fact that 100% of your donation goes directly to providing bednets to Africa. What's more, a contribution of just ten dollars takes care of one family, so get out your credit card and do the right thing!

When you're done making your contribution, do see this wacky Video of President Bush and the African drummers (the still from the video is above). If you want further information about malaria, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has excellent information, as does the Rollback Malaria Partnership.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Obama's Deals and Friends: Cause for Concern

The Chicago Sun Times is running a two part series on Illinois' Senator-in-absentia Barack Obama and Wilmette's Antoin "Tony" Rezko, currently under home confinement. The information is real cause for concern. Part I ran yesterday, Part II today. Part of the problem involves affordable housing, including a lot of seamy information about real life problems that emerge when there's a big profit to be made from idealogy. Seems that Rezko and Obama's interests were intertwined when "affordable housing initiatives" turned into another word for "Slum Lord." The Sun-Times article is likely no suprise to Senator Obama, who earlier provided answers to questions posed by the Sun Times. Whether or not you support Obama's candidacy for President of the United States, you owe yourself a good look at both the articles.

Fellow Wilmette blogger, The Backyard Conservative, has more coverage on Part I and Part II of the series.

Nora, the Piano Loving Cat

Have you seen Nora play the piano on Youtube? I have, and I didn't find it particuarly amazing simply because I have had two musical cats, and several others who definately reacted to music.

Today the Daily Mail has an article on Nora, the kitty who likes to tickle the ivories. along with the video. I think you will enjoy it, even if you have seen the video before. The original video is here, and there also is a sequel.

The Raven's Wing Studio has even more information and links, including a picture sent to Nora by Billy Joel.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Move Over Knut: Chicago's Brookfield Zoo Has Arki's New Polar Bear Cub

Move over Knut, Chicago's Brookfield Zoo has Arki Polar Bear's new cub! So far, he doesn't seem to have a name! The cub will need one to become famous, so I do hope we will learn that soon. Mother and son are pictured at the left. Knut is Berlin Zoo's heart throb Polar Bear cub, made even more lovable and famous after being orphaned and the recipient of several death threats.

Arki and his mom emerged from their den just Friday, and visiting Arki and the cub is sure to be popular this spring and summer. There are plenty of links over at the Brookfield Zoo website, so do have a look at this beautiful new cub.

Update: The Brookfield Zoo tells us: "In the coming weeks a public naming contest will be held on behalf of the itty-bitty bear." Itty Bitty Bear--that would be cute!

Further update on the naming contest

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day in Wilmette and Carbon Footprints

Happy Earth Day! I imagine you have a little dirt under your fingernails, too, seeing how good the weather is here in Wilmette! I found this great little quiz over at Bala's Blog, which you might enjoy taking, too. I got a 21, and surely could do much better if I could eat more locally grown food and take more public transportation. Unfortunately, there is a limited amount of each around here, so what's a person to do? When carbon footprints start getting discussed, we might as well cut out the Olympics. Sorry, Chicago! That's a high carbon footprint event; lots of jetting around and all. Does anybody ever worry about that? Wouldn't it be more sensible if they were cancelled? I would be happy to drive a super tiny car if they would just remove the trucks and suv's from the street, so reality intrudes into idealism.

I wish they had questions a little more relevant information to Wilmette on the quiz. What about the carbon footprint of tearing down an old house and building a new one? I would think that there are no net energy savings once you figure all the manufacturing of new materials, dumping of old, trucks involved, etc. I wonder why they never address these concerns anywhere. Unfortunately, it would seem that the best carbon footprint is hunting and gathering from a hut, or subsistence farming. Seems that the same people who are worrying about getting these people out of poverty ought to be celebrating their lifestyle instead. Well, the quiz will get you thinking a little so take a minute to figure out how you rank. When you're done, if you explore on the website you might find this link to the latest concern: electronic smog.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

How to Have a Beautiful Lawn

It's beautiful out today, isn't it? What a warm weekend! If you're hanging around inside, looking for tips on the Internet on how to fix your lawn after the long, long Wilmette winter, the University of Illinois Extension has some great help for you. With a full page of articles on Lawn Talk Topics, and information on how to care for your lawn in eight easy-to-understand lessons, you will be out of the house in no time! Do take a look at the articles, while there is still time to get a beautiful lawn by summer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wilmette Village Trustee Election Results:
It's Basil, Spillers and Terman!

Results from the Wilmette Village Board election are in! Congratulations to Mari Terman, Mike Basil, and Karen Spillers for winning the office of Trustee. With thanks to Joanne Aggens and Gale Teschendorf who ran honorably.

Wilmette Village Trustee 5 candidates --Counted: 35 precincts of 35 (100.00%)

Candidate Votes %
Mari D. Terman 1,951
Joanne H. Aggens 1,260 16.69%
Mike Basil 1,579 20.91%
Gale Teschendorf 461 6.11%
Karen Spillers 2,300 30.46%

Wilmette Trustee Election: Vote Spillers, Basil, Teschendorf

Get out and vote! Polls are open until 7PM!

On Tuesday, April 17, 2006 vote for Karen Spillers, Mike Basil, and Gale Teschendorf for Trustee. Previously, we endorsed Spillers and Basil. We add the endorsement for Teschendorf after speaking with him, reviewing his literature, and looking at his website. His straight talking and clear thinking will bring a sorely needed new viewpoint to the Board.

A friend wrote me an email about his candidacy and I quote it:

"I met Gale Teschendorf today; he was the the only candidate to ring my bell. His platform is full of common sense that seems to be lacking in our current trustees. on His website, includes an interesting 'tax game.' It's not a game I'd like to play, but we probably all will."

Wilmette Village Trustees Election: Vote for Karen Spillers, Mike Basil, and No One Else

Click here for information about the February 5, 2008 Primary Election

Get out and vote! Polls are open until 7PM!

Here at Wilmette, we previously endorsed Karen Spillers for Wilmette Village Trustee. We add to that endorsement, Mike Basil.The Wlmette election takes place next Tuesday, April 17, 2007. Voters serious about the future of Wilmette and responsible government should vote for these two candidates, and ONLY these two candidates. We need both Spillers and Basil on the Wilmette Village Board to return to a government that will serve all the people of this village, not just the few.

The type of nonsense that Wilmette residents have had to put up with from the current Village Board is typified in the current article by JB Powers on his blog, which you can read by clicking here. Candidates and current trustees, Mari Terman and Joanne Aggens. have been deeply involved in every sort of nonsense that is not the proper job of local government. While we salute people who give of their time and talent to civic affairs, both Terman and Aggens must be retired.

Local quality of life, and local problems in general have appeared to bore our trustees for a number of years now, and frankly their lack of interest shows, particularly in the downtown area. Of course, if you tried to walk anywhere during this winter, the abysmal job done in plowing the sidewalks is reason enough to turn out the incumbents. If the current trustees had spent their time focusing on the quality of life for local residents, rather than chasing windmills in the style of Don Quixote, life would be better for us all. It is the job of the elected Wilmette Trustees to serve the people of this village, not to use their position to advance personal agendas or to amuse themselves with government initiatives that have no business being considered at the local level.

It is also the duty of the Trustees to demand accountability in all areas of local government. Anywhere you drive in the village, you can see the effects of failure to enforce traffic laws, much to the detriment of local residents. Spending time on Kyoto protocols, rather than simple problems such as the inherently dangerous condition for pedestrians exiting the train at Green Bay and crossing Central heading South is reprehensible. Other traffic nightmares, such as the corner of Skokie Blvd. and Hibbard, remain unaddressed. Misguided and dangerous encouragement of bicycle/automobile traffic in a "share the road" program is a legacy of this Board. Depending on hired personnel at Village Hall to set priorities and solve problems cannot be applauded.

Did you ever have the pleasure of having your neighbor ask you to sign-off for approval for a permit on some home improvement project so that they could make changes to their property? Perhaps you lived through the nightmare of seeing how the village inspects that work. The inspectors wait until a complaint is made. Then they visit your neighbor and are kind enough to inform them of your complaint. If you have hot tempered neighbor, God help you. Oversight for construction safety and impact on neighbors simply doesn't happen.

Do you remember the old days, when you could buy a newspaper, a loaf of bread, and milk in downtown Wilmette? Some trustees apparently can't wait to get ride of all merchants. Currently, fhe pet store and the Chinese take out on Green Bay seem to be aggravating some trustees, who will never rest until they have a completely irrelevant village center.

Do you remember the Trustees' promise of trees in front of Mallinckrockt? Have you been by there lately? It is a concrete jungle, with possibly room for a couple of ornamentals in containers.

Does your vote count? It sure does. Very few people vote in local elections, so get out there and do your part for the future of Wilmette! Vote for Karen Spillers and Mike Basil on Tuesday, April 17, 2007.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Wilmette Trustee Election: Trees, Slide Rules, and the Wilmette Canopy

Get out your slide rule, folks, the Village Trustees are busy. A week or two ago, a friend alerted me to some new way that the Trustees are looking at trees. The Trustees remain terrified that some crazy illness might overtake our village residents, compelling them to cut down trees left and right. With fear that our midwest town will shortly become uninhabitable tundra, the Trustees are coming up with a formula to cut down trees that likely will require every resident to master advanced calculus.
Of course, the Trustees deserve to be worried. They have recently decreed that all ashes on public property will be removed. JB Powers has started blogging about the Wilmette canopy and the Emerald Ash Borer, and I would recommend his post to you. His approach seems sensible, even though he is new enough to Wilmette to have missed .
In the meantime, I continue to monitor the Village Board's seeming decision that tree worship is Wilmette's established religion. Seems that tree worship is not limited to our European ancestors. A brief online chat about trees this morning with blogger, Balaji, who takes his Hinduism seriously, established that today there are trees in India that are worshipped. While its good to know that we are global on the tree worship issue, let's elect some new Trustees this Tuesday, and vote for Karen Spillers and Mike Basil for Village Board.
Like the tree in the picture? It's not in Wilmette, but I am sure well-travelled Wilmette residents will recognize it. For the answer see the comments.
Previous posts on trees in Wilmette: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Update: I found a nice link about tree worship in Tamil Nadu, India.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

God, Exercise, and a Plea for More Play, Less Homework--for All of Us!

While the atheists would have you believe that you can live longer on lack of faith, doctors don't agree, according to the Sun-Times. Just click here to find out if going off to church on Easter might have also been a smart health choice.

Everyone continues to agree, however, that exercise is good for you. Blogger KO, after reading about Chicago's food choices for Superbowl, has been concerned enough to send over an occasional article on health. His latest is amazing. Seems that there's a new study, right here in Illinois, that tells us what smart parents already knew: push those kids out the door to play before doing their homework. Even more surprising, is how very helpful exercise is in improving people's brains, and not just the children. It will be enough to send you out-of-doors for a quick game of tag! For a fascinating article that will motivate you to turn off the TV and take the whole family on an old-fashioned, post-prandial stroll, just click here.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Protest Rally in Iraq Signals Political Change

Can you think of anything better than a peaceful protest rally in Iraq? I can't. While this is an anti-American rally, it seems to me that if the Iraqis are learning non-violent protest, that US troops will be going home sooner rather than later.

The downside is that the organizers of the rally appear to openly solicit the killing of Americans, which is hateful indeed. We, of course, condemn that. It's also unknown whether this is just a photo-op and a prelude to further violence.

Nevertheless, this is a new type of photo coming from Iraq, and it is quite stunning. The idea of advancing political causes through freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the ballot box, rather than through violence, is precisely the lesson that Iraq needs to learn. I am sure that they faster they they learn that lesson, the sooner our troops will be gone.

While cynics might say that this is mere propaganda, the truth is that most of those impacted worst by war--those who fight--generally have friends and family who love and care about them. When people go to peaceful protests, they return home hungry for a meal and in need of a nap. Those who welcome them home realize that this beats a martyr's funeral every day of the week. Before you know it, the whole family might be advocating this method of advancing political change, and I hope that is the case.

I remain adamantly opposed to those "good luck and good-bye" politicians who have zero commitment to the idea of democracy in the mid-East. I hope all the readers of Wilmette had a good Easter, and are as cheered by this news as I am.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

"And they bring him into the place called Golgotha, which being interpreted is, the place of Calvary. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh. But he took it not. And crucifying him, they divided his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. And it was the third hour: and they crucified him." -Mark 15:22-25

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Cat and Dog Food Recall: Home Cooking for Hungry Pets

At your wit's end with the pet food recalls? Tired of running to the cupboard after every news show featuring a story on the latest tainted cat or dog food? Thinking of just sharing your dinner with the pets? Dr. Jerome Williams of the Red Mountain Animal Clinic and Fox News has some dog and cat food recipes for you! Just click here. Dr. Williams speaks about pet food alternatives here. Hat tip: reader CB, via email.

Dr. Elizabeth Dole of Stack Veterinary Hospital says some human food is dangerous for pets to eat. Click here for further information from ABC's WYSR.

Update: Normally we don't like our Senator Dick Durbin's politics--except for his voting record on animals. We are pleased to see that one of Illinois' senators is working on problems that deeply concern pet owners. He will be holding a press conference on pet food on April 5 at 2:30 pm at Wicker Park and plans to hold Congressional Hearings. Hat tip: Blogger Spocko. America's farmers are wonderful farmers--I hope he will be talking about American food for American pets.

Even scarier: Blogger Adam assembles evidence that some of that gluten was food grade--fit for humans. Do read his post. What more can I say than American food for Americans?

More recalled pet foods: The FDA has been continuously updating its pet food page with the latest recalls; click here for the latest information.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Mixed Signals? Pelosi Moves Toward Hijab in Holy Week Fashion Statement

And to think that I thought Nancy Pelosi was a Catholic.
And that this is Holy Week.

“We might be wearing Hijab but we might be doing something incredibly wrong which cancels out the reward [for wearing it].”

"[T]he Syrians have not renounced their support for terror."

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Dear Reader: An Exciting New Game for You

You will love the video presentation of this simple new game, based on an Old Favorite--just click here! (If you're at work, make sure the volume is turned down)

(And do see the first comment--it's a must!)