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Showing posts from 2007

Pasadena!

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Whodathunk?

Thanksgiving Recommendations: Elastic Waistbands and “The Last Waltz”

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. In fact, I think I like it better than Christmas. It's a perfect combination of wonderful things. I have a ton of things to be thankful for and they all seem to come together on Thanksgiving. From my annual "night out" with my crew last night, to spending the day strapping on the ole' feedbag with my entire family both in Frankfort and in Naperville - I get to spend lots of time with the people that matter most to me.

The other part of Thanksgiving that I like is the traditions. From the family, to the food, to the weekend cutting down of the Christmas Tree - it's all fantastic fun. While all of those traditions were started without me and I'm simply a participant, there's one tradition that I've started that makes me enjoy Thanksgiving morning. While most Americans are tuning into Matt Lauer and Al Roker to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, at my place we're watching The Last…

Back to School (Or how I’m becoming a Wildcat…)

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How ‘bout the Illini, eh? Taking down then #1 OSU and having an improbable run to possibly 9 wins after back-to-back rebuilding years. I couldn’t be more proud to be an an alum of both the program and the university. The program appears to have turned a corner, and with all the talent that’s starting to pile up down the road on I-57, we should be a force in the Big Ten for many years. This doesn’t appear to be a fluke (like the 2001 Sugar Bowl was).

All that stands in the Illini’s way from a New Years Day Bowl Game and possible BCS bid are the Wildcats from Northwestern this Saturday. Should be a slam dunk win for the Illini, no? It should.

I’ll be going nuts, rooting for the boys from Champaign-Urbana, right?

Ummm….

Not so fast.

What? Am I questioning my allegiances? Sorta.

At age 29, with a day job that I love and a fiancé pursuing her PhD full-time, the time couldn’t be more right for me to head back to school and get an advanced degree. Earlier this fal…

Welcome Back, Illini Football…

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We've missed you.

Cross’ Pushing Suburban Strategy: Right Move in Illinois

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The Editorial Board of the Chicago Tribune laid the defeat of the bloated, ineffective transit bill at the feet of Tom Cross and the House Republicans. They argue that Cross and his Caucus are holding out for more funding for their constituents in exchange for their votes to eliminate any cuts to the CTA. The Tribune folks further argue that Cross is hurting the exact folks that he's trying to help: suburban voters. Their logic is flawed. Sure...there are plenty of folks who are using mass transit who potentially may be hurt by the cuts proposed by the Chicago Democrats and the bloated CTA, but there's more to the story.

Let's talk about strategy and why I believe the Tom Cross and the House Republicans made a great move. As a side note, I think Ron Huberman, who inherited this mess at the CTA is a good man, but he needs to bring the focus of his scapel internally before he starts crying externally. Cut some middle management out of the budget before you start cutt…

New DuPage GOP Website: Couldn’t Be Worse

The DuPage County Republicans released their "new" website this morning and its magnificently underwhelming. The only way this thing could be worse was if it was hosted at a .geocities.com domain. I hate to pile on fellow Republicans, but if DuPage is really the "most Republican County in the USA", this is embarrassing. The real sad part is, that I'm sure they paid someone a bunch of money to develop this and they're probably so happy with it. They built a wonder website for 1994.

We need to do better. The suburbs and DuPage County is battleground territory right now. The Turn DuPage Blue guys or whomever seizes control of the DuPage Democrats will certainly be more proactive and engaged online. So should the Chairman Cronin and the DuPage GOP.

Where to begin? I don't know. That silly splash page? Where's the data collection? If you're going to have one, which in this day and age is common, at least include an email box or contribut…

East Coast Help: Pretzel Vendors

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I need some help from the East Coaster's who read RhodesSchool. I've had nothing but bad luck from pretzel vendors. First it was in NYC, today the problem occurred in Boston. I enjoy the speed of acquisition and feel for food cart vendors on the street. I've done plenty of shopping from street vendors for "goods" and I will, on occassion buy a meal from a street cart vendor. I like that it's all cash. I like that it's a one-man operation. And...I like the whole thought about cart "turf" that I have in my head. (how do you get the prime corners? Seniority? Does the Outfit control the turf?, etc...)

In the midwest, where I grew up, we had "big" or "jumbo" pretzels that were served hot. They were always, without exception soft. They were chewey and usually had salt applied to them and if you were feeling friskey, you'd even dip them in some yellow mustard - they're fantastic. In both NYC and now in Boston, …

One Year And Counting Until Our Wedding Day

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September 6, 2008. 365 days away. If you head over to our wedding blog, you'll see the countdown widget is finally under the one year mark. Natalie and I were engaged last December, so we're 9 months into it with 20 to go. Seems like a long time, eh? It is. But for Nat, the planning never stops. I'm excited about gearing up for this year and all that it entails. We've secured the venue, the caterer, and the church. That leaves pretty much everything else. Nat's on top of it, so I don't have to be. We're having a discussion over the band as we speak. I want one group, she wants another. We all know who's going to win that battle.

There's so much to do and see that Nat has even started to write a secondary blog about all the wedding things she sees and reads about called i heart peonies. She's a great writer who puts a smile on my face. You should go subscribe to her feed on the site now. I'm excited that she's enjoying th…

New JoinRudy2008.com, Old Widgets Broken

I'm supporting Rudy Giuliani for President in 2008. I like who he's picked to head his campaign in Illinois: Tom Cross and I like what he brings to the discussion. I also think he can actually win in November and not make this election a referendum on Iraq. Over the long holiday weekend, the campaign launched a new website. Go check it out here. It looks nice, doesn't it? All shiny and patriotic, right? There's a few things wrong. First of all, there are zero feeds on the site. I can't subscribe to his news, blog, press releases, video. Nothing. Shame. I know I'm not the only one who would subscribe to the blog. (if it were actually a blog...)

They've made, what I consider a larger error, however. The campaign had offered some nice badges on the site as a way to embed some javascript and demonstrate your support for Rudy. I had one of them on this very blog over on the right. See where it just says: JoinRudy2008.com? That used to be a nice…

Spreading Some Chief Dollars and Traveling Fans

As Nat and I are packing our bags and heading out the door this afternoon for a drive down to St. Louis for the Labor Day weekend, my mind keeps wandering back to a post I wrote almost a year ago. We're multi-tasking in St. Louis: Nat is going to a wedding and I'm going to see my Illini take on the Mizzou Tigers in something they're billing as the "Arch Rivalry". I'll be tagging along to the wedding, and Nat has consented to joining me at the game, so it's a win-win for everyone involved.

While I'm putting on my orange t-shirt, I keep thinking that we should have a similar impact on St. Louis that Clemson has on towns they travel to. In fact, other teams could/should be doing this, too. The Hawkeyes of Iowa are playing NIU at Soldier Field tomorrow. Imagine all those crazy farm folks from Iowa staying at the Fairfield Inns and La Quintas around the Chicagoland area spreading out 2 dollar bills with yellow hawks on them at the Chi-Chi's and Oli…

Coming Soon: Wii Beer Pong

If you think Guitar Hero is popular on college campuses across the country, wait until they get their hands on this. Midway, the video game manufacturer, is coming out with Beirut or Beer Pong for the Wii.
Video game publisher Midway has a new game coming out for the Wii system. “Party Game” will consist of several games including shuffleboard, darts, and ski ball, but the game that will take over college campuses this fall is Wii beer pong. Or Wii Beirut. Or “Ping Cup” as Midway refers to it: The object of ping cup is to use the Wii remote to throw a ping-pong ball at a pyramid of cups.
Seems like that "Flippy cup" game is a natural fit for the Wii isn't it? A little flick of the Wiimote and you turn your cup over? That would round out the package.

Building out the Illinois 2010 for Governor Web Operation Playbook

I've been doing some thinking about the Governor's Race in 2010 here in Illinois. It's going to be wide open on the GOP side and I think that Lisa Madigan (whom I'm presuming will be the nominee) will be tough to beat. Doable, but tough.

The part I've been thinking about is (obviously) the web part of the media operation. I'm going to lay out some of what I would do here and give my thoughts. I'm pretty confident that most if not all of the campaigns that will be run in Illinois will be so buttoned up, that I'm not in any danger of someone implementing these. We'll see, though. Who would have thought that the House Republican Leader would have let me run his online operations for 2 years with a loosey-goosey blog, pre-YouTube videos, a persuasive game, and DraftDitka.com.

The Parrillo Online GamePlan for 2010 in Illinois: (Note...I'm not really going to talk about the actual campaign website. At this point, everyone will have one and t…

PrepsPlus is Better, More to Do

Today is a big day. It's the first day of the High School football season. It's huge in places like Texas and Florida, but it's a pretty big deal in the Chicago suburbs. I live in a community that works up quite the lather during the season. The Lincoln-Way East Griffins are perennial contenders for the 8A title and they've won it 2 years ago. Across town in New Lenox, there's both the Lincoln-Way Central Knights (my alma mater) and Providence Catholic (another perennial contender annually).

Tonight, the L-Way East Griffins play their annual game against Providence, and that will sure be a great match-up. L-Way Central heads to East St. Louis to play the powerhouse tomorrow. Either way, the season will be off with a bang.

With the big games slated for today (weather permitting!), the Chicago Tribune rolled out an expanded Preps Plus section on the web. They're billing it as "Your Illinois Hometown Report". In a further attempt to go "h…

Last Comic Standing: Lavell Crawford

One of the by-products of traveling for work is that you end up alone in a smallish hotel room with nothing to do but surf the web and watch television. If that wasn't bad enough, for me, it's been summer-time television - which means a lot of reruns, reality shows, and filler. Last night I ended up watching part of Last Comic Standing, which is a show that is trying to find the "best" comic in America. (as a side note, they must be looking for the best amateur, right? But...what really is an "amateur comedian"?)

Anyway, I think I might have found my new favorite comedian: Lavell Crawford. He made me laugh out loud repeatedly. This morning, one of the first things I did was look up some of his other material on YouTube.

It's priceless. I have no idea if he survived last night's show, but if his act was the only consideration, they should hand him the prize right now.

Memorial Stadium Overhaul

My old stomping grounds, Memorial Stadium in Champaign is getting a major facelift. They're adding new permanent stands to the North Endzone, and updating both the West and East Halls. The addition of a new press box and an assortment of luxury suites will bring the Illini in line with the majority of the schools in the Big Ten stadium-wise.

They have trained a webcamera on the Northside construction. I've been checking out the feed everyday. I think if I put this image up here, it'll show what's doing for you live on this blog. If you see little men working, hit refresh and they should have moved! Pretty nifty.

(picture taken down)

While all the talk recently has been on how tough a place to play our basketball areana, the "House of Paign" or Assembly Hall is, I think Memorial Stadium, when rockin' is a very formidable home. It has classic lines with the columns, and once the horseshoe portion is done (phase 2?) and there is a more direct link with…

Champaign (Engineering) Dreams

There's plenty going on down in Champaign and it's not all football related.

First, Yahoo announced that they're expanding to bring an office to campus, then Valleywag reported that the U of I will partner with the Library of Congress to preserve Second Life as a museum artifact.

All of it makes sense. It's a great engineering school who's churning out great talent. We need to do everything we can to keep those bright minds here in the state.

Friday YouTube Find: You Only Live Once

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I can't stop listening to this song. It's the Strokes from "Top of the Pops". Equation Boy/Man took me to see The Strokes a year or so back at the Aragon Ballroom. I bet they played this one.

BP: Beyond Petroleum My Ass

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Especially in recent weeks, with their focus of going more and more to the left (on purpose! Can you believe it?!?!?!), I haven't had too many mornings where I'm riding the train to the city and I find myself agreeing with the Sun-Times and the Chicago Democrats. Today, however, I was pleasantly surprised. First, there's this article about Alderman Ed Burke putting the screws to BP for attempting to dump more toxins into our Lake Michigan. The environment should be an issue that cuts across party lines. The GOP should seize this opportunity to stand up to big business. The Republicans can win on the environment if we want to. We should be winning on the environment, or at least, taking it off the table, should we? Outside of Congressman Mark Kirk, where's the GOP?
Chicago's most powerful alderman called Thursday for a boycott of oil giant BP -- by city government and consumers alike -- to stop the company's refinery in northwest Indiana from dumping mo…

My Biggest Mistake was Lovin’ You Too Much…and Letting You Know.

Someone, somewhere once wrote/said that The Band played Mavin Gaye's "Don't Do it" like it was their own. There are a few songs that a group or artist plays so well and so convincingly that it somehow/someway becomes "their" song.

This is one example.

Although some will squabble with this, for me, below is just about the most perfect piece of rock and roll ever created.

If I knew it was gonna be that kinda party…

I kinda-sorta made the Sun-Times today via Richard Roeper's column. In it, he takes on the Amy Jacobson story and points to some headlines in the blogosphere:
I loved all the talk about whether or not it was "newsworthy" for WBBM-Channel 2 to show that videotape of Amy Jacobson, formerly of WMAQ-Channel 5, hanging at Craig Stebic's house.

Let's see. A well-known and well-respected reporter who has been covering a high-profile case involving a missing woman and her estranged husband is seen on her day off at the couple's home while the husband is there. She seems comfortable and relaxed as she works the cell phone and watches the kids.

Uh, yeah. That's news. That's why the Sun-Times and Tribune had major media columns about the issue on Tuesday. That's why it was Topic No. 1 on the local talk radio dial. That's why it was a story on news stations across the country.

Among the headlines from blog-land:

"Pool Party!"

"The Worst Career …

It’s Time: Getting Back on Track

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Some of the folks who are reading this blog may be startled to find out that I was once an exercise fiend. Yup. I was in a daily routine that included plenty of exercise and a healthy consumption of food. Somewhere in the midst of training for my 3rd marathon, I had a severe flameup of some back issues and that's where I fell off the wagon. Aside from the occassional jog and a 5K here or there, I've followed the doctors order's pretty strictly. When I asked him what I should be doing, he said, "Stop running". So I did.

And guess what? My fitness level dropped like a stone. The "el-bees" piled on. I lost my focus. There's plenty of attention on how brides need to/want to/should attempt to get into shape for their weddings, but there isn't a general guide for grooms. We want to look our best, don't we? I think that, knowing Natalie, we'll have those pictures up in our house for a long, long time, so it's in my best interes…

Pool Party!

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The tragic story of the disappearance/killing of Plainfield resident Lisa Stebic took a bizarre twist yesterday. Her husband, who by all accounts is the chief suspect, apparently had some company in the form on NBC5 Reporter Amy Jacobson. That's her on the right with one of my other favorites from NBC 5, Anna Devlantes. (I sound like Steve Dahl with my "top 5 newsbabes", don't I? ) Apparently, "the Jake", as we like to call her, dropped by the Stebic's house in her bikini for a pool party with the accused husband, and brought along her kids.
Amy Jacobson, a reporter for WMAQ-Channel 5, is in hot water with her bosses for going swimming on her day off with the estranged husband of a missing Plainfield woman.

Dressed in a two-piece swimsuit, Jacobson brought her two young sons, ages 3 and 2, with her Friday when she swam in the backyard pool of Craig Stebic.

Lisa Stebic vanished from the southwest suburban home April 30. She and her husband, parents of tw…

Steve and Barry’s: Beyond all Expectations

Natalie and I celebrated the 4th of July up in Coloma Michigan on Paw Paw Lake. It's an (almost) annual tradition that includes a sunset boat ride that leads to 360-degree fireworks. Pretty sweet. Yesterday, on our way to Meijer to pick up some supplies (meat, beer, etc), we saw a new Steve and Barry's store had opened in Benton Harbor. Natalie immediately noted that we NEED to stop there because the new Sarah Jessica Parker line of clothes is only sold there. I told her that we used to have a Steve and Barry's on campus in Champaign and they were the store that sold "Buy one Illini t-shirt, get 2 free". Times had changed, she said. They've apparently expanded their offerings immensly. Their strategy seems to be one of filling up the space of older midsize boxes in commercial areas. Think of the space that JCPenny's would occupy. Or Sears.

We pulled in and boy, was I surprised. I'm definitely no clothes horse, as anyone who works with me c…

Free FeedBurner Features

As a few others have pointed out, FeedBurner became FreeBurner a few days ago. I'll claim it's because we're patriotic and we're celebrating our country's independence, but it's mostly because we have the ginormous resources of Google behind us that allowed to give up our MyBrand and TotalStats features for free.

This is the first of more things to happen as a result of the acquisition. MyBrand is especially important to publishers who want to ensure that they maintain total control of their domain, brand, and name. Freeing it up is the first step. The next step is implementation. It's not simple, but we're here to help. Here's some tips on executing it.

Wedding Details on the Blog…

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Natalie's been very "in to" our wedding planning lately and it's becoming a little contagious. She's been writing blog posts over on the wedding blog and just this week, she unveiled what I will call her wedding "touchstone". She calls it her "inspiration board". It's basically a bunch of reference points. She's done a great job of pulling together the details (which are more and more everyday). She's even gone so far as to participate in the wedding blogosphere. One way or another, Nat had her inspiration board featured on one of the more popular wedding blogs called Style Me Pretty. Natalie was really happy with seeing her work over there and reading all the comments about her style. I'm really proud of her. We didn't have a ton of traffic, but a pretty steady stream of regular visitors (friends and family) and quite a bit of search traffic (brides to be, I'm guessing based on their search terms).

The past f…

GameDay Crew Goes To VTech for Opener

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ESPN made a great decision this week. No...it wasn't that they're going to move away from their East Coast bias and stop burying the Big Ten in the middle of SportsCenters. They've decided that they're going to take their wildly popular pre-game show, College Gameday to Blacksburg Virginia, home of the VTech Hokies on opening day. The games a dud against Eastern California, but it shows that someone's thinking out in Bristol.
"Virginia Tech is a special place and the community is one of the most respectful and passionate we have visited," said Norby Williamson, ESPN's executive vice president of production. "Our coverage will be considerate of the emotional day facing the students, faculty, and people of Blacksburg and the country."

Virginia Tech football head coach Frank Beamer added, "Every time College GameDay has come to Blacksburg it has been exciting. This time, I think there will be a greater togetherness than ever before."
T…

I’m Lovin’ It

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I have a confession. I've been going to McDonald's. Yup. Guilty. I'm apparently not alone. The Sun-Times Ted Pinkus writes that McDonald's profits are soaring and has widened its lead as the world's largest restaurant network with an all-time high market cap of $60 billion, vs. $17 billion for Yum! Brands, $3.52 billion for Burger King and $3.18 billion for Wendy's. Natalie's hooked, too. No, we're not scarfing down Big Mac's and Fries, but we're there a few mornings a week picking up iced coffees and yogurt parfaits for her and the BIG 42 oz soda for me.

The article speaks to the methods in which McDonald's has really spread out it's offerings and they've done things to appeal to folks like Natalie and I. The drive through also helps, as our Starbucks doesn't have one. I'm not going to go out to McDonald's for lunch anytime soon, but they've filled a nice niche in our eating lives. Kudos to them for figuri…

The Life of A Salesman…

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With my new role at the new company, I've taken on some additional responsibilities when it comes to travel. At FeedBurner, I'd make the occasional trip for a conference or to call on a customer, but it wasn't a constant. From the looks of it, we'll be here in NYC quite often and maybe even a trip every once in a while to visit Rick and Don in Mountain View.

I've had other roles with different organizations that required traveling (for those keeping score at home, I used to sell Drywall Screws in a 5 state territory), so it's not something I have to get comfortable with. There's all the normal headaches of travel like delays, bad beds, lack of exercise, etc. With plenty of things brewing on the homefront, it's a little harder to get away this week. We have some major decisions coming up that give me pause, but there are also just the little things that aren't any fun missing.

Yesterday, one of those little things came and went. My little girl,…

From the Farmer’s Market to the Super Market to You: Locally Grown Food

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Last week, just like mycolleagues, I spent some time in the New York Office. There were plenty of things that were mentionable, but one item struck me particularly: in the cafe, they listed on a grease board all of the local farmers where their food supplies arrived from. They were boasting about the "Localness" of their offerings and for good reason. Serving the volume of food that they do, a company of our size can have an impact on local growers. I'm glad that they're so proud of helping bring local food and produce to the employees. There's a movement afoot in places like South Carolina to try to bring more locally grown food to residents. Sometimes it's hard to determine where things are coming from. Unless you go to your local farmer's market, it's difficult to know for sure if something is local or not.

In South Carolina though, things are changing. Agriculture officials there have unveiled a new effort to brand locally grown produce…

You Can Help: Yellowstone Buffalo Headed to the Slaughterhouse

If you're looking for something to spend a few minutes of your online advocacy time on, this seems to be a pretty good cause. Give them a hand by sending 3 simple emails.
Montana’s Department of Livestock is planning on trapping and slaughtering 300 wild buffalo – including calves as young as a few weeks, and their mothers. The agency plans to begin the roundup on Thursday, May 31.
For extra credit, make sure that you tell Governor Schweitzer that he "could" be the Vice Presidential Nominee in 2008, but this won't help him. Seems that the emails have already helped stall this terrible thing. They've put off the vote until next week. With your help, they'll reconsider.

Kjellander Demoted, Illinois Scores

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Just yesterday, the Sun-Times Lynn Sweet posted that Illinois' very own Bob Kjellander was named as the vice chairman of the 2008 Republican National Convention Committee on Arrangements for the 2008 Republican National Convention to be held in Minneapolis/Saint Paul. The Committee on Arrangements is the RNC body charged with the planning and management of the Convention.

It didn't take long for the fellas over at Jack Roeser's playpen to blast Kjellander and pronouce this as a "step down".
The Republican National Committee (RNC) has announced that Bob Kjellander, the disgraced Republican National Committeeman from Illinois, has been named Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Arrangements for next year's National Convention. The RNC dishonors itself by giving Kjellander any role. Still, a post on the Arrangements Committee is a big step down from Treasurer of the RNC, a title Kjellander held until January of this year.
Hmmm....I see this a little differently guys…

Friday Finds: A Punchup at a Wedding

Did you come just to start a fight?



A Punchup at a Wedding
Radiohead
Hail to the Thief

Wedding Buttons: “I’m just here for the Booze”

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Over on our wedding blog, we're trying to gauge people's honest opinions on these "buttons" for our rehearsal dinner. I think they're cute and a good way to get folks talking to each other. We'll probably have a pretty big sized rehearsal dinner, so we don't want people to not socialize. It's one of many posts that Natalie and I have collaborated on. Natalie is clearly the more clever, quick one of us. She wrote the punchline, which I think is pretty funny:
Buttons that have been rejected from the list include: "I slept with the grooms's mom," "I used to be the bride's sister, but now I'm her brother," "I'm just here for the booze," "I got a pity invite" and "I love lamp."
Go on. Head over to the wedding blog and give us your vote. I'm hoping that we'll get these done. We probably won't do buttons as much as we'll probably just do nametags run through a printer. N…

XRT Widgets….

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Here's a few XRT widgets that I fooled around with to show the XRT guys what they can be doing to help get their content disributed:

Get great free widgets at Widgetbox!

Get this widget!

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

The Widgetized Wedding

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We've been having a lot of fun over on our wedding blog. Natalie and I have been posting a lot. It's not the most compelling stuff for general consumption, but it's a nice way for us to keep in touch with our families, friends, and members of the Wedding Party. We're able to connect with the folks who will make our Big Day special, but it also allows us to share our experiences with everyone involved. We're trying to do things like polling the audience on how much they'd pay for a hotel as well as sharing our notes from our experience with our vendors.

Natalie has been good about giving me a lot of latitude on what I post and what I do with the blog. As we come closer, I'm sure the design/content will come under closer scrutiny. (Some folks were wondering how I slipped the Major League quote by her. Other's were just puzzled as to why I would slip it in there in the first place!)

Most importantly for me is that the wedding blog provides me with a…

Dismanteling the Oil Empires…

My fellow Americans,

You caved. That's right. I saw you there. You with your big gas guzzling SUV's and minivans. I thought we had a deal?!?! We were going to take Big Oil down to it's knees.

Oh...me? How'd I know? How'd I see these folks? Oh....um....my Camry was on empty. I had to go to the local Scholarship Night. I did. Seriously. But you? What's your excuse?

Sincerely,

Jake

All Politics Really is Local

The saying goes that "All Politics is Local", right? There's a recent great case of legislators making sure that they address a situation in their community through their bipartisan work in the Statehouse. When it comes to kids, we look to our leaders to act swiftly. In the case of teen drinking, a few members of the Illinois Legislature had a chance to address the situation and one that hit close to home. Two months ago there was a horriffic accident in Oswego that killed 4 teens were killed by a drunk driver. Turns out 3 of them were drinking, too.

Recently, the Illinois House under Tom Cross and the Senate Committee backed by Democrat Linda Holmes passed a measure that would stiffen the penalties for anyone under the age of 21 who is convicted of an alcohol-related offense (basically underage consumption or drinking). Currently, if you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar while down visiting your sister at Kam's in Champaign and you're only 19, …

“Lucky Us” - New Bob Dylan

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This morning on the drive into the city, Natalie and I were tuned into WXRT (as usual) and we listened to the movie review by the "Regular Guy". This week, he covered the movie Lucky You, which he said had a stellar cast, but was a below average film. They don't have it posted here on the XRT site yet, but it'll get up there eventually, I bet. His review was fun, as usual, but one thing stuck out for me: he said that there's a new Bob Dylan song in the movie.

Turns out Lucky You is directed by Curtis Hanson, the same guy who directed Wonder boys. Hanson must have the "magic touch" because just like he did with the great song Things have Changed, he somehow coaxed Dylan to put out a new track for Lucky You. The new song, Huck's Tune is a great number and a nice addition to the "latest" Dylan work. From what the Regular Guy said this morning, the song only plays over the ending credits in the movie, so I'm sure it's destine…

Spending the Sacagawea

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Somehow this week (stamp machine, I think), I came into a few of the sacagawea dollar coins. They've been jangling around my pockets for a few days and today, I decided to spend them. At the sammich shop down the block from my office, I ordered my meal, stepped over to the cashier, and gingerly handed the coins over to the young lady. She didn't even flinch. Gave me a few coins in change and I went on my way.

I couldn't help but feel like I just had gotten away with something - like I got a big discount.

Anyone use these things regularly? Did they stop minting them? Should I not be spending them, instead keeping them or something?

Letter From Senator Lauzen Re: SB600 and Doug Ibendahl

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Last night when I arrived back from work, I had, waiting for me, a letter from State Senator Chris Lauzen. He apparently, is a reader of this blog. Hello, Senator! Thanks for your cordial letter. I appreciate your interest in my blog. In his correspondence, Senator Lauzen takes issue with my position on Senate Bill 600 and this post.

It was nice of him to take time out of his legislative duties to correspond with me and I thank him for that. I won't go blow-by-blog through his letter, but I'll point out a few things.

Senator Lauzen states:
"I was surprised at the intensity of your sarcasm in pointing out how inaccurate your claim Doug Ibendahl's account was regarding the history of this legislation."
Surprised at my sarcasm? I guess you're not a subscriber, eh Senator?!? I hope that you subscribe to my feed via your reader or email. It's over there on the right. You'll get all my posts delivered to you!

Next, he includes roll call votes a…

Friday YouTube Finds: Mavis Staples Skipping Chicago (for now)

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Sad news via Greg Kots blog: Mavis Staples is performing to support her new record with folks including guitarist-producer Ry Cooder, drummer Jim Keltner and a few others, but she won't be making a stop in her hometown of Chicago. Too bad for us, eh?

For a primer on Mavis, check her out with Pop in this cut from The Last Waltz.
She's a gem and her voice is tops. (For you Band fans out there, you gotta love Rick Danko's gyrations, right?

Or...check out the great dance moves on SoulTrain in the classic "I'll Take you There":

Boy...I wish life was this easy. Wearing great threads. Shimmy-ing down the SoulTrain. Great tunes. Doesn't get much better than that, does it?

Confirmed: Michale Jordan’s Son to Play for the Fighting Illini

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Congrats to Coach Bruce Weber and the entire staff. After this very challenging year - with the multiple arrests, injuries, and the Eric Gordon to IU saga - the Illini Nation could use the very good news.
Jeffrey Jordan, the son of basketball legend Michael Jordan, said Friday that he plans to attend the University of Illinois next year and play basketball as a walk-on. The younger Jordan, a 6-2 guard at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill., where he is a senior, said in a news release that he chose Illinois over Valparaiso University.

"After I worked out at Illinois, (met) with the coaching staff and the players, and toured the campus with my mom, I just felt more comfortable with U of I," Jordan said in the release.
The insiders are saying that this plays well for the future. Jeffrey's younger brother, who many consider to be a much better hoops player, will be heading off to play college ball in a few years. The recruitment and signing of his older brother will give the …

The Shins and their Brian Wilson Influences…

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Unfortunately, I rarely get to sit down and listen to an entire record all the way through these days. I have an expansive collection, but it's largely gathering dust because I just simply don't have the time. For my birthday, my buddy Matt gave me some iTunes bucks and I went trolling for some new tunes. I settled on The Shins new record: Wincing the Night Away.

I only got about halfway through when something struck me: these guys have been listening to their Brian Wilson records, haven't they? I've since gone back and listened to the record a dozen or so times and that initial notion sticks for me. I'm by no means, a Shins Superfan, rather a casual listener, but to my ear, they've been heavily influenced by the Beach Boys and their once front man Brian Wilson- whether The Shins know it or not. As far as influences go, the Beach Boys are tops in my book, so it's not anything to be bashful about.

I've put up a few videos here below. Go ahead.…

Dallas Ingemunson Steps Down: A Lifelong ILGOP Leader

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The Illinois Republican Party just lost one of it's best. No, it wasn't through corruption or elctorate loss, it was just simply his time to step back. Dallas Ingemunson, the Kendall County Republican Party Chairman and "Honorary Chairman of the ILGOP" said his good-byes yesterday. While, I'm thrilled that Dallas his lovely bride Dodie can have some time together with their numerous grandchildren, we're really going to feel a HUGE void in the Party.

Ingemunson, the top Prosecutor in Kendall County for 24 years brought both gravitas and humility to the post of County Chairman - a post he held for 34 years. While the article in the Tribune mentions that one of his greatest accomplishments was his ability to bridge some of the "policy" divides between Moderates and Conservatives, I feel that Dallas' legacy will be that he welcomed young people to get involved and get active within the party apparatus and he embraced technology. He has a real …

First Impressions: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 for the Nintendo Wii

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A few nights ago, Natalie and I took it all in at the Orland Park Costco. In addition to buying a HUGE jar of Giardinara, enough yogurt to feed a football team, and of course, a $1.50 polish sausage/Diet Coke combo, I also picked up Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2007 for the Nintendo Wii. I've toyed with it in just about all of my free time the past few days. My first impressions: great extension of the core Wii Sports golf game. In playing all of the Wii Sports games, I found both bowling and golf the most fun games to play. That's largely due to the ability to go through the entire range of gameplay in both bowling and golf. Baseball would be great if you could run the bases, throw people out, and manage the game and boxing, well boxing is just too much work, frankly.

Tiger Woods 2007 PGA Tour brings all of that (the good stuff) to golf. You can create a player (which I already did), get him his tour card, upgrade his skills, and go head-to-head with the PGA's best. My ar…

Join Rudy Giuliani at Your Own Debate Party on May 3rd

Tonight, the Democrats running for President gather in South Carolina for their first debate. In a few weeks, on Thursday May 3rd, the Republicans will do the same, with their debate being hosted at the Ronald Regan Presidential Library. One of the things that will make this year different for Republicans than in the past is that there will actually be debates - we have many candidates! With the use of technology, ordinary folks are organizing across the country to host "debate parties". My guy - Rudy Giuliani is having his supporters host parties. If you're interested in one, you can visit this page to sign up. We'll be hosting one down in Frankfort (a private one!), and you should sign up to host your own!

Spinal Tap Reunion - For Real!

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Madonna, The Police, Beastie Boys, Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, and.....Spinal Tap?!?

You read that right! They're getting the band back together! Spinal Tap, the fake band, is fake reuniting for a gig this summer to benefit environmental causes. The show, coincides with their "new" release: Warmer than Hell. The best part? Rob Reiner also directed a new short film that chronicles the band and their current whereabouts that's being screened tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival. That needs to be on YouTube soon.

Back in 1990 or 1991, I caught This is Spinal Tap for the first time. My buddy Neil McAllister turned me on to it, probably through his older brothers. Immediately, it struck a chord with me. I ran back to the video store and rented the VHS a few times. Then for either Christmas or my birthday, someone bought me the tape. I just about wore it out. Then came "Break like the Wind". Released when I was in 8th grade, I again, collected …

Emil Jones and his “Silly Political Games”

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Emil Jones. Are you kidding me? A few days after pulling the ole "switcheroo" on one of your old potentially targetted Senate Members, you have the gaul to talk about "silly political games"? That's rich. For those who don't know what happened down in Springfield this past week, it's one for the ages. A politically targeted Downstate Senator passed a controversial amendement that would hold ComEd's feet to the fire with regards to their outrageous rate increase only to see his leader, Senate President Emil Jones kill it with what Capitol Fax's Rich Miller called " an obscure parliamentary procedure that nobody remembers ever being used."

Guess who's the biggest contributor to Senator Jones' campaign account. *ding* *ding* *ding* That's right! It's ComEd.

That's shameful enough for Jones, right? Wrong.

Jones then sent in another one of his stooges - Senator Rickey Hendon - to do some of his dirty work. T…

What Happens in Vegas…

The body needs sleep. There's nothing you can do about it. You can't put any time in the bank before you go to Las Vegas. You just need to pay the piper when you get home. I learned that lesson on Sunday night and last night. This morning, I could barely crawl out of the rack. It took me a few days, but I'm finally fully functional after my first excursion to Las Vegas. I'll do my best to recap and highlight some of the weekend - one which I really enjoyed and can't wait to repeat.

We left Thursday night and were delayed a few hours at O'Hare. That was time well spent in the Fox Sports SkyBox tavern out on the concourse. We had a small crew there at the airport because some folks arrived earlier, later, or on a different airline (Matt). I slept the entire way out there, thinking that I could bank the 2-3 hours for the long weekend I was in store for.

We arrived and spent quite a bit of time gaming. I believe it's either called "Old Town&…