Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Fighting Illini Logo Contest

A student group called "Campus Spirit Revival" at the University of Illinois has undertaken a contest to try to find a new symbol.  Six years ago, Chief Illiniwek was retired as the symbol of the University of Illinois athletic teams, and some students believe that's long enough for the school not to have a symbol.

Currently, there's voting open to students only to pick the top 5 candidates from a group of 46.  You can see the breakdown of the choices here on The Dagger or you can see the full set of options in this Facebook album.

After looking at them, I tend to lean towards the military-inspired ones. I've put two of those in this post. The name "Fighting Illini" pre-dates the arrival of the Chief and was "bestowed upon the team in honor of Illinoisans who fought in World War I; the use of the name "Illini" dates to the 19th century".

Some of the submissions are good, some are funny, and some are strange.  The hand-drawn ones?  Or the state of Illinois with the boxing gloves?  These are undergraduate students after all.  I wouldn't rule them out!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Online Surveys as Profile Builder?

This week I received an email in my inbox from Speaker John Boehner asking me to fill out his 2013 "Speaker's Survey" on his TeamBoehner.com site.   The survey asks for your name, email and zip code, but doesn't ask for street address.

After the election, the team at OFA put out a similar survey for 'supporters' that asked questions mostly focusing on ones interactions with the campaign.

In thinking through these surveys for political organizations, they're really great trojan horses in terms of building a profile and layering data on top of said profile in a quick way.  I'd think that these are mostly filled out by the die-hards.  The dyed-in-the-wool political operative/foot solider type.

And that's a great place to start.  Wouldn't the Speaker's office know who exactly on their email list support the Keystone Pipeline?  They'd love to be able to activate/engage those folks on a moment's notice and this survey will get them closer to building that list.  (You can see some of the survey in the photo below.)

But...I think the real trick here is to figure out a way to broaden the survey's appeal - outside of political ranks.  Maybe some sort of stand-alone site that speaks to the future of a state (Illinois in my case) that has some paid media behind it to drive responses?  I'd think that there would have to be some incentive to filling it out, too?  Maybe give away a few nice trinkets?

Something interesting to explore as the primary season heats up here in Illinois.  I'd think we'll see some surveying going on as the candidates start to build up their own profile sets of voters in Illinois.



Monday, January 28, 2013

Vintage Beastie Boys/Run DMC Show Poster

Over the weekend, we went to Five Star Bar on Chicago and while we were hanging out in the back room/pool room, I saw this poster on the wall for a Run DMC/Beastie Boys gig at the Rosemont Horizon.

Cold getting busy!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pallets as the "Cinderella Story" of DIY

You can't swing a dead cat on a DIY blog/forum/magazine these days without seeing a re-claimed/re-used pallet project.  They are used for outdoor furniture.  Coffee tables.  Headboards.  All sorts of things.  I've had a few pallets laying around in my backyards after doing our paver patio a few years back and I couldn't have tried to get rid of them faster.  They were gnarly, dirty, full of huge nails and usually cracked up in various parts.

In this month's copy of This Old House Magazine (above), they call out the steps needed to use said pallets.  They say that bleaching the wood to disinfect the planks is a good piece of the process.

I don't want to forclose myself on doing any pallet projects, but the pallets I've seen need a heckuva lot more than some sanding and bleach.  Has anyone actually seen/sat on one of these pallet projects?

Friday, January 25, 2013

First one-inch-plus snowfall in almst a year

If you look hard enough, you'll see Ms. Maisy enjoying the winter day.

Been almost a year since we had a day like today.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Raw Milk in DuPage County


Have I told you guys about cheesemaking?  Not yet, you say?  Well... if you know anything about this blog it is that I tend to get 'into' my hobbies and I tend to share those here.  I've been nosing around the edges of artisanal cheesemaking for a while now and have made some soft cheeses in the past.

With the help of my brother-in-law, I'm set up with a cheesemaking kit and I intend to make some mozzarella this weekend.   That's the citric acid that came with the kit up there in the photo.   Sounds fun, right?

But, what about hard cheeses?  In reading the prep materials on the basics of cheesemaking, I've been engulfed with recipes and press ideas and ingredients for hard cheeses.

One of the things that sticks out is that you (apparently) don't want to (if you can help it) use pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized milk.  Good news for us, though!  Turns out, there's a raw milk place right here in DuPage County.  The Golden Guernsey operates out of their home in Glen Ellyn and if you bring cash, they'll sell you gallons of their farm-fresh milk.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New Carving Knife


Thanks to my brother-in-law Mr. Fox, I've upgraded my primary carving knife to this one in the bottom of the photo.  My old knife (the one on top) came with my kit of chisels.  This one has a thicker, more substantial handle and a one-sided blade.  I still have my gnome carving that I've been working on for a while, but with this new blade (and the stone/strop that I have now), I'm going to try to get serious and get the little guy over the finish line.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Meatheads Coming to Elmhurst City Centre

See that storefront right where Fresco's used to be - next to Chipotle?  As we learned this week from the State of the City address, we're getting a Meatheads Burger joint.

That will be (by my count) our fourth higher-end burger place.  First there was SmashBurger on St. Charles.  Then Back Alley Burger opened across the street.  Then Hamburger Jones opened up down on York Road near the Prairie Path.  And, now Meatheads.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have any problem with burger joints and if someone is willing to take the risk to open a business, especially in our downtown City Centre, I applaud them and wish them well.  I'll likely even go a bit further with Meatheads and try to support them with my business.  Unfortunately, it appears that their menu doesn't include Turkey Burgers (nor veggie burgers), but they do have chicken sandwiches.  If they had a strong Turkey Burger, both Nat and I would be all over them.

When I walked by on the way to the train this week, it looked like they were doing some serious construction/remodeling.  Guessing they're more than just a few weeks away from opening.  The summer months are going to be big for them as the fountain area outside their store is quite the community gathering spot.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Walt Marini for Mayor of Spring Valley Yard Signs

Do you live in Spring Valley?  I'm guessing not, but if you do, you can get on the Walt Marini for Mayor train.  I've volunteered some of my time last weekend to Walt's campaign.  He's got a real chance in the race and he's just started to roll out some of his yard signs.

Want to get involved in the Walt Marini for Mayor race?  Sign up here.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

My FitBit Year in Review - 2012

I started wearing my FitBit on April 27th, 2012.  Since then, FitBit tells me that I've traveled 1350 miles - or as they say "more than length of the Tigris River"!

The fine folks at FitBit sent out this 2012 summary note yesterday and they included a few little data points that are interesting.  Some of them I understand like Tuesday is my most active day.  That makes sense because for all of 2012, I've been going to Cardio-Tennis on Tuesday mornings.

The month of May was my most-active month and that kind of makes sense in that I had just started to track my activity, so I'm guessing I was motivated to get in those extra stair climbs or a few more steps each day.    Looking back at my calendar I can't quite figure out if there were any other dynamics at play that caused me to move a little bit more in the month.  Nothing jumps out.

Also, the June 7th date - as my most active - puzzles me.  That was a few days before the Bird was born so maybe I was running around?  I was also playing tennis on Thursday mornings during the summer, so that might have contributed to the big day, but in looking at my calendar and what I posted on social media/my instant upload photos of the day, there aren't any clues.

One thing that is disappointing in this report is that there is no status/update/wrap-up based on the data from our FitBit Aria Scale.  I didn't loose much weight this year (even though I was trying!), but I would like to see my weigh-ins, what my loss was, my BMI and whatever else the borg can glean from my usage.

Interesting to think that this type of reporting is going to be common place.  It is pretty fascinating to peek through.  I run Google Latitude on my phone and Gmail meter on my email.  From time-to-time, they send reports, but I'd love to see an auto-created summary of my location history sent to me each year.  What about my appliances and thermostat?  Send me summary reports that tell me when we use them and what we can to do maximize their use/conserve energy.  Same with my car.  I want data.  I have a feeling that the day for those reports are coming.  Can't wait.


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Equation Boy/Man's Ice Rink

Take a look at that backyard rink.  Pretty awesome.  Equation Boy/Man really stepped it up this year - his second as a rink owner/operator - by adding some length to the ice and building boards for behind the goal at one end.   He even (with the help of his daughter) painted on the Elmhurst Chiefs Hockey logo (see it there on the boards) and hung a cute banner (which is cut off from this picture because it has their last name on it!).

I walked down there one day last week and they weren't home and the ice was so clear that I was afraid to go on it, so I didn't even do a 'boot skate'.  Last year, Nat gave me a nice pair of skates and I played down there a bunch of times with very few injuries.  Hopefully the weather stays on the cold side so I get an invite to come down and play over the weekend.  I'll be padding up a bit more than I did last year, I think.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Meeder Industries Elmhurst - Renovation

Just north of the train tracks on the west side of York Street, there's a storefront for a contractor/builder named Meeder Industries.  They have had a sort of mock kitchen - with cabinets - set up in their storefront for as long as we've lived in town.  Seemed like nice stuff and I've seen their sign in a few yards around town on jobs they were doing.

They've recently begun to renovate/remodel their storefront (or as they call it a 'showroom' and have a cute marketing campaign out front that really calls some attention to them:  they've put up big bright signage and placed a construction marker and yellow caution tape out front.  Or, at least, I think it is a marketing move because there really is no apparent danger/need to avoid the area.

Pretty clever and I'm looking forward to seeing what they have in store.  For the Emhurst City Centre to succeed, we need a healthy mix of retail, restaurant, governmental and office/service uses.    Hopefully the renovation will provide Meeder a long-term home on York.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Boston Pencil Sharpener - Found At Estate Sale

Yesterday, we swung by an Estate Sale near the old hospital in our neighborhood.  After walking around the first floor and nosing around the basement and garage, we didn't find much that we liked.  As we were walking out, I spotted this Boston wall-mounted pencil sharpener.  I asked the homeowner if it was for sale and after considering it, she said it was.

After locating a screw driver and giving her a buck, I pryed this thing off the wall and took it home.

It really reminds me of my dad.  Growing up, we had one of these things mounted on the wall in his work room in the basement.  Doing math homework always required pencils and we didn't have the luxury of having mechanical pencils back in 1988.  So, everytime I needed a sharp point, down I went to the basement to sharpen up.  

At some point, when the Babe and the Bird head to school, they'll be using pencils.  Instead of a fancy electric sharpener, they're going to have to do what I did:  go downstairs and grind their lead to a fine point.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Treehopper Toys Yo-Yo's and More from Chicago

The Babe gave me this classic wooden yo-yo from Treehopper Toys for Christmas and she couldn't have been more proud of herself for picking it out.   This was the first year where the Babe nosed around the Christmas Renegade Fair with her momma and they came home with this yo-yo, a bear HopperJalopy for the Bird and also a set of transportation MatchStacks which she's taken to playing with at the dinner table most days.

Both of the products are wood and really well made.  I'll quibble a little bit with the finger loop on the yo-yo as my pudgy digits have a hard time wiggling through there.  (Those hipsters in their skinny jeans at Renegade all have tiny fingers, I guess?!?)  I haven't picked up a yo-yo since probably junior high but I've had a lot of fun playing around with it the past few weeks.

The site says that Treehopper is located 'outside Chicago' but they don't quite say where.  If you're in the market for a clever, US-made kid toy you can't go wrong with one of theirs.  Especially the Matchstacks!

Friday, January 04, 2013

Final Vintage Christmas: Twin Choir Boys

The last of our finds at the Great Lakes Antique Market on New Year's Day are these two matching choirboys.  Their price was just too good to pass them up.  Will they end up a gift next year?  Or in our decorations along with the other carol singers on the piano?

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Vintage Christmas Deer Bookends

We didn't stop at just the Mrs. Claus ornament at the Christmas sale.  We also picked up these deer bookends.    They were in the Christmas section (marked half off) and are stamped Japan on the bottom, so they fit in with our other Christmas stuff.  Nat tells me that deer are 'hot' in home decor trends these days, so it appears that these might not be destined to our Christmas collection, rather for either the Babe or the Bird's room for everyday use.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Vintage Mrs. Claus Ornament - From Great Lakes Antique Mall

As I said yesterday, while we didn't pull in any of the items from the 'motherload', we did pick up three different things.  The first of which is this Mrs. Claus ornament.  The light catches the inside really well and it brightens up and looks pretty neat.  She was just $0.75 but she won't see the light of day until next November because we are taking down our tree today.  And...by saying "we", I really mean "me".  Nat hates that I take our stuff down so soon after New Year's Day, but I can't stand to have it around and need to move on with a clean slate.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Vintage Christmas Motherload

While we were up in Michigan today for our annual NYE/NYDay trip, we stopped at the Great Lakes Antique Mall to try to snap up a few vintage Christmas pieces.  Last year, we bought a few little Christmas treats, but this year, we happened upon this display of what must be 100+ little porcelain Christmas figures.   This person clearly is focusing on carolers and angels, but there was one little spaghetti trim Santa (that's him on the very far left, second shelf from the top).

Unfortunately (for us), the prices were on these were a bit too high, but we did come across a few other Christmas pieces that we snatched up at 50% off their list prices.
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