Jimmy John's jumping on (right behind Google Chicago) the liberation train.
I like the visual, but not sure I can make the connection on their bread.  Is being draped in various salted cured meats followed by getting stuffed into my piehole being "liberated"?
On Addison Street in Downtown Elmhurst, there is this really pretty building.  Limestone front, crisp black awnings, iron railings.
Since I've been walking past it, a firm named Armstrong Aerospace has occupied the ground floor and what appears to be the second floor.  From what I've been told at some point there was a really neat authentically Italian coffee shop in the ground floor that apparently didn't have that big of a following.

Either the aerospace business is booming (and the firm had to move to bigger digs) or busting (and they're downsizing their space), but one thing is certain:  Downtown Elmhurst now has ANOTHER vacancy and opportunity to re-think Addison Street.  Coupled with the closing of the Magic Shop on the corner of 1st and Addison, and the former Papa John's storefront on York, there are 3 VERY high profile storefronts that will be filled with new operations.  What we don't (frankly) need is another salon!

The Downtown holds so much promise and has a few gems, but needs help.  Perhaps, with key tenants coming to these three locations, this will be viewed as the turning point for Downtown Elmhurst?  Only time will tell.
So glad the Marriott in Cleveland posted these signs in the lobby before I arrived.
I made it to the elevators without much trouble.
So that's what $8.00 worth of Jarlsberg looks like, huh?
Actually, it is just shy of $7, but you get the picture.  Nat and I were wondering around Whole Foods last week and the cheese monger was where I lingered the longest - as usual.  I didn't buy this cheese and in fact, I don't think I've ever had Jarlsberg ever.

For those of you who don't get the reference, see here.  And...yes....I'm lame for liking that movie!
There's a really nice story in Today's Detroit Free Press about how the Pure Michigan ads are moving online as a result of state budget cuts.  You all know the Pure Michigan Ads, right?  The Tim Allen ones?

Well...the State of Michigan - like most other states - is totally out of money.  They've decided to look at the ways they can cut spending and one of the options was to "go dark" on these ads.  But...they only decided to "go dark" on broadcast.

They're alive and well not only on YouTube, but more importantly on search advertising.  Head to Google and search "apple picking" or "fall color tour" or "cider mill" or "pumpkin farm".  They're savvy marketers and know that they can run their ads against those terms and have a huge amount of impact on tourists.  Sure...search ads aren't as evocative as the Tim Allen ones.

But...when you need to "do more with less", the search ads are a pretty good deal:

"When every dollar is being scrutinized, especially in tight state budgets, if you can point to specific data showing a return, you can make the case that it's paying for itself," said Google's Jake Parrillo.
We hardly knew ya!  We'll....actually, we didn't know you.
Yesterday when Nat and I were walking home, we noticed that the Papa John's on York Road closed it's doors.  I was always surprised to see it operating in town - what with the 10-12 competitors within a .5 mile radius.  Must have been the Elmhurst College kids who were keeping it afloat?   We've been in town just about 2 years and it had been here for at least that long.  Equation Boy/Man wasn't sure when it opened

Not sure if it is a sign of general economic malaise or a bad omen for Downtown Elmhurst or maybe it was just a natural business move when you sell shitty pizza?
I was at my in-laws place last night and my father-in-law subscribes to the Harvard Business Review.  Having a terribly short attention span, I didn't read even ONE of the articles inside - even though they're all probably terrific and useful.

Instead, I was caught up by the back cover and the "Gone Google" ad.
Nice placement, I think!
Lately I've been trying to get out to the garden in the morning before I get going on work.  It is nice and cool, there aren't many bugs and I can grab everything I can in 10-15 quick minutes.  We're clearly entering the heavy harvest time as I'm pulling out 2 buckets of tomatoes/zuchs/eggplants/peppers/onions every day.

Here's today's harvest - which included many tomato varieties including German Johnson, Green Zebra, Mr. Stripey, Pineapple, Beefsteaks, Caspian Pink, Napa Grape, Red Cherry, and my favorite the Roma.  Also are a few zucchinis, bell peppers, jalepenos, and a small  onion.    Some of them aren't perfectly ripe - and those were mostly the ones I either knocked off when picking ripe fruit or they were knocked off some other way and were on the ground.  I figured I had to pick those up and let them ripen off the vine.
The timing couldn't be worse - because it is going to be tough to make the sauce and can it, but we're going to try!
Found the kitchen scale.  More than 2 pounds!
When I put in my raised garden beds, I was expecting to see a slight increase in production of fruit/veggies because of the warmer soil conditions.  I was very careful to only use organic fertilizers that lack the power punch of chemicals when it comes to boosting the size of my tomatoes, so I figured I'd get fairly average sized fruits.  I hoped for the best.

Some of the varieties went like crazy and others are still mostly green.  The Mr. Stripey's however, are just ripening and there aren't very many of them.  Maybe 8-10 tops.  But...they're all absolutely HUGE.  Feels a lot like a 16" softball in my hand.  I can't quite grip it comfortably it is so big!

Being a parent, the "control" item in this photo happens to be a pacifier.  Could have used a quarter or something, but this was around.
I can't find my kitchen scale, so I can't get a precise reading, but when I used our bathroom scale, I stepped on then stepped off.  Then picked up the tomato and stepped back on.  My weight went up 1.8 pounds.  To me, that means this thing is almost two pounds of tomato-ey goodness!

We'll be sharing these beauties with friends and family the rest of the week!
It is as suprising to you as it is to me that I suddenly care about the playground equipment at my local parks, but I really do!  And, that's why this story about how Elmhurst is thinking about rehabbing some play areas in the Tribune (and Trib Local) grabbed my interest - which is where, incidentally,  I grabbed this photo from

Specifically, they're interested in getting feedback on the playground equipment at Wilder Park (and the park layout in general) - which is the most centrally-located park and the largest one that is close to our downtown.  They're thinking pretty big on some issues, but also working on some specific quality-of-life details like they are already considering a rubberized surface instead of the current wood chips (nice!).    Of special note to me is that they're using Google Docs as the host for their public presentation and YouTube to host their videos of the Wilder Park site.  Nice use of the Cloud, Elmhurst Park District!  The full deck for their public presentation is here.

The one thing that Nat and I are particularly attuned to is the playground equipment for really little kids.  We actually love Wilder Park because it has a set of equipment (steps, slide, these musical bars) that are specifically designed for smaller kids who can't play on their own.  The Babe has spent quite a bit of time this summer on this very playground (I have video I'll share at some point!).   I'm certain that they're not focusing on this younger segment (based on the article, they mention school-aged kids as their target), but hopefully they'll keep at least this one pod of equipment focused on younger kids.  

Ask me in ten years and I'll probably have a different answer about what should be in the parks, but for now, I'm providing my feedback on the Elmhurst Park District website and you can do the same here with their Wilder Park survey.
I think we might have spotted him on the South Side this afternoon.  He even is rocking a "PBA" license plate holder.
Always tough games when you go up against a Big Ten team. But the JAYS came out strong and now we're 3-0 heading in an off week.  Big day for the kickers, too.  1 FB, 3-3 PATs.

The Maroons have really great old-school uniforms and VERY prominantly display the Chicago Bears--esque "C" - which may be where the Bears logo came from!
For the past few months, just about every poll out there showed Senator Bill Brady with a small lead over Governor Pat Quinn in the race for Illinois next Governor.  I have been watching what Google's Insights for Search Tool was showing.  As you can see below, it has been back-and-forth with Quinn up occassionally - which it seems he hasn't been in most every other poll out there.  CapFax has posted a piece from FiveThirtyEight that claims Brady has a 90% chance of winning.

As we get closer to the election, it seems that the Google chart is pointing in that direction, too.  As of mid-September, Brady's taking claim to the Google Insights for Search Governor's Poll.

For the record:

Bill Brady is the Republican (in Red)
Pat Quinn is the Democrat (in Blue)

Here's the chart:

Hi there Lazyweb,

Anyone know what this is?  It is growing like crazy in our garden - and up our fence.  Unfortunately, I don't know what it is.  How is that, you ask?  Well....this thing sprung up from our compost.
All of my research on the web says that it isn't a pure watermelon - they sprout in much rounder shapes.  We have a few different types of gords growing (jack be littles and such), but they're all identifiable.  I remember what we had last year at Halloween time and remember throwing them all in the compost bin.  But....we didn't have anything like this.

Could we have created a super-beast?  A hybrid gourd out of our own compost?  I know that there are watermelon-colored gourds (see here) and that there are gourds that have half orange - half green.  This one is all green.  And...shaped like an eggplant!

The vine has about 8 of them growing, so perhaps I'll cut one open and see if the fruit is red?
This is what the Babe looks like when Nat tells her something wonderfully funny.  Scrunched nose.  Loud grunting laughs!
Look, Ma!  No teeth!
Our garden is just beginning to throw off the majority of it's produce.  Zucchinis, tons of varieties of tomatoes, pumpkins, gords, peppers, squash and....lots and lots of eggplant!  Yep....Nat and I are going to be the Forest and Bubba Gump of eggplant.  We'll make eggplant parmesan,  grilled eggplant sandwiches, eggplant lasagna and more.

Here's one of the black/purple beauties.  They're pretty big.  That tomato next to it is a HUGE heirloom variety called a Pineapple Tomato - like the size of a softball.
And...the tomatoes?  We're going to try to make Nat's red gravy and can it for the winter in jars, but after that, we'll probably end up with a few dozen dozen (you read that right!) extra red beauties.  (We *may* have planted too many this year!)  We'll have to open up a stand out front on Indiana Street for all the passers-by.
As promised, here's the rest of the photos from our visit to the Treemendous Tree Farm outside of Coloma Michigan from over the weekend.  That's a bit of a stretch - as these aren't really the 'rest' of photots, but a few that I pulled from my phone.

It isn't just Apples/Peaches at Treemendous.  They have a hayride and a little petting zoo.  With Billy Goats!
Here's a view of part of the orchard with my niece in the foreground.  Pretty spectacular day in Michigan.

Nat pulled the Babe on board and kept her entertained.  I'm claiming this was the Babe's 2nd visit, but Nat insists we count this as visit #1.  With my family being traditionalists, this won't be her last.

My usual pose from the orchard with a Golden Delicious crammed in my piehole.  This time with my nephew joining me in the hi-jinx.

In other news, according to Google's Insights for Search tool, [Apple Picking] seems to be the top fall activity for us folks in Illinois this year - running even with [Pumpkin Farms].
This afternoon, we went on our annual pilgrimage to Treemendous Tree Farm right near my folks place at the Lake.  Dyers and my mom joined us three.

I have a few more photos to share, but I took them all with my phone and I'm having difficulties getting a strong enough signal for them to upload to Picasa Web Albums.  Hopefully, they'll show up tomorrow!
Big win today for the Bluejays on the road up in Michigan.  A great 2-0 start with a game at home one week from today against the Maroons of University of Chicago.  Mixed bag with the kickers with a 38+ yard punting average, one touchback, and one field goal.  Had one blocked, but I'll insist that it was a snap issue.  A steady rain fell the ENTIRE game making it a hard one for everyone involved.
We opened up 3-0 last year so I'm hoping we can match that start again.
After the devastating storm that destroyed our pear tree, I figured the tree would just die.  After all, it snapped in half.   I took a peek at the tree yesterday and was pretty surprised by the growth that had taken over - right where the trunk snapped.
The bamboo pole in the middle of the shot is where the snap happened.  You can see the trunk (dark brown) right next to it.  Perhaps we'll have pears next year after all!
Pretty great video demonstrating the power of Google Instant.  As told by (at least one co-worker) the connection to Bob Dylan "going electric" wasn't lost on our creative folks.  Nice!

With all the buzz going around about what Google Translate thinks "Lady Ga Ga" translates from Malay to any other language, I thought it was time to unveil the new Google Search secret.   No...it isn't Google Instant.  That's soooo this morning's news.  This is way more important - and pretty stinkin' cute.
Thanks to one of Nat's friends, the Babe is sporting some new threads!  (note the "I'm Feeling Silly" button!)
For the second straight year, I missed my Fantasy draft.  Thankfully, Equation Boy/Man was there to draft my squad alongside his own.  Unlike last year, I provided some guidelines/recommendations based on a cursory search of the internets and a few IM's with two guys who I believe are die-hard fantasy guys.

Hard to tell at this point what I have team-wise, but at least I'll have something to keep me interested in the NFL- what with the Bears probably going 5-11 this fall.

QB - Drew Brees
RB - Cedric Benson
RB/WR - Santana Moss
RB/WR - Ronnie Brown
WR- Jeremy Maclin
WR- Chad Ochocinco
TE - Jermichale Finley
D - Colts
K- Robbie Gould

RB - Marion Barber
WR - Jacoby Jones
WR - Dexter McCluster
WR - Eddie Royal
QB - Sam Bradford
WR - Brandon Tate
TE - Tony Scheffler
I placed my first story in the New York Times over the weekend and it ran in this morning's print edition.  B4, to be precise.  The story covered the online frenzy of bed bugs and how a few advertisers have been able to capitalize on the trend and convert an interested audience into customers.
I have helped on stories that ran there before and contributed to pieces, but this was the first time at work where I ran with a story from concept to pitch to interview to fact-check all the way to print.  Hopefully it won't be my last.
I play the "Little Piggie" game with the Babe.  You know the one.  Our's goes:

This little piggie went to the market,
This little piggie stayed home.
This little piggie had roast beef,
This little piggie had none.
And....this little piggie went wah-wah-wah-wah-wah all the way home.

Turns out...I was saying it wrong.  As pointed out to me by Nat, in Geico's hilarious new commercial, the company points out that the piggie says "weeeee", not "wah".  Still not sure I'm going to change my version.

We've been back from our vacation in Charleston for a few weeks.  We did a bit of sight-seeing along with plenty of time at the pool/beach.  We ended up doing a short tour of the city and a tour of a plantation.  Came away with at least three new pieces of info that I thought I should share.

1.  Pirates wear one gold earring because that was the cost of a funeral.  Apparently, pirates feared NOT being buried, so if they were wearing the earring and someone found them dead, the hope was that they'd sell the gold and stick them in the ground.
2.  The reason streets are paved with cobblestones?  They came over on ships from England as ballast.  Ships came over empty - but for the cobbles - and the british dumped them here when they arrived.  Filling up on cotton and other American goods for the their return trip.
3.  The roots of the Virginia Live Oak grow "together", when there is at least two of them standing next to each other.  This makes them just about hurricane-proof.
This morning I was at our local Starbucks picking Nat up a beverage when I spotted this record at the check-out counter.

I really had to think hard to convince myself not to buy it.  I haven't bought a record in a long time, so this thing must have really spoken to me.  It is just a silly compilation they've titled "Let's Go", but is packaged really cute and the point-of-purchase location was tempting.  I know some of you guys have bought this.  What do you think?  I really can't remember the last time I bought a record, so I'm not sure I can be convinced to go get it.
Please don't embarrass me, Illini.  I'm saying 6 wins and a ratty bowl game.  Optimistic?  Sure is, but how else would you expect a fan to enter the season?

Big Ten football kicks off tonight with Indiana facing Towson tonight on the Big Ten Network.  I'm giddy to welcome the college football season to our lives.
Still neck and neck with Governor Pat Quinn and Senator Bill Brady in the Google Insights for Search unscientific poll.  Based purely on "interest" of searches on Google.com across the state, the race is a dead heat.  Other, official polls show Brady with as much as a 10 point lead.  I'll keep track of this right up until election day.  If you are looking for the inside scoop and not this drivel, might I suggest reading CapFax?

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