Thursday, October 31, 2002

Quick rundown...

Kevin Holtsberry posted a gem of a comment on the Chicago Bears season...check it out for yourself. I can only say that because I'm an Illinois resident. :) I could have told you the season wasn't going to go well when they changed hotels after blaming a preseason loss on a 45-minute bus ride in from a Decatur hotel. I'm kind of disappointed that their season in Chambana hasn't been more competitive, but on the other hand a lot of people at work have tickets for December games they are selling. Dirt cheap. Hmmm...

I'm liking Paul Musgrave's site a lot. He has an interesting article today on the idea that college perhaps shouldn't be for everyone. Agreed. Sometimes I wonder how much a four-year degree is really worth in today's marketplace. Nobody has been beating down the doors for resumes of those with bachelors' degrees in my neck of the woods.

The hub and I took a brief "honeyweekend" up to the Wisconsin Dells. Well, we actually drove around the Dells and decided they were pretty tacky, but they might be a lot of fun if it wasn't 40F outside when you were wanting to play mini-golf or go on boat rides. The main attraction for us was the indoor waterpark at our really nice resort (Great Wolf Lodge). Highly recommend it to anyone passing through that "Moscow of the Midwest" area of Wisconsin. A real honeymoon is rumored to be happening in December...stay tuned.

Josh Claybourn and Bobby Allison-Gallimore brought my attention to, a sort of online gathering place for young female Christians with moral scruples. It's a really neat site, and I think it could be a great resource for late-teens women looking to find some friends and acquaintances that share their values. I have mixed feelings on their approach to dating though. Personally, I think that dating is an effective way of getting to know someone. I think it works much better when done in the right mindset (God first, others second, yourself third). On the other hand, I think I swore off men to my roommates sophomore year of college by saying something like the following, "God can just make himself at home here, because I have a feeling he's the only guy I'm going to be spending a lot of time with for the next few months." What happened about three weeks after that? My husband and I suddenly decided that we were such good friends, we should start spending more time together and the rest is history. I guess my advice on it would be to trust God on this one -- he'll handle your love life as he deems appropriate. Easier said than done I know :)

On the Wellstone/Mondale ordeal -- typical. Take one of the few genuine, well-meaning liberals that there are left and replace him with a prop for the phony, manipulative DNC attack dog types that now control the American Democratic party. I think I knew that "memorial" was going to be a disgrace from the second I heard that Cheney had been "asked not to attend". Props to both Trent Lott and Jesse Ventura for refusing to take the abuse lying down. Now if Jesse would just really show the party and appoint a Republican for the remainder of the term so that the MN GOP will get their "equal time".

Think that's it for the time being. Posting may be sporadic this next week, as I am trying to catch up from a week of ignoring my web classwork, but I will be around much more regularly. Take care!
Mrs. Illinigirl returns and gets personal...

After a week of emotions running wild, exhaustingly long days, and spiritually overwhelming experiences, I have returned to the blog a married woman. The wedding was wonderful. I don't even know where to begin. The few days beforehand were a complete blur. They involved tons of errands, numerous appointments with florists and beauticians, and far too much time spent twisting tulle to make favors and pew bows. Note to Ben Domenech, future Central Illinois blogger Spoons, and any other engaged folks out there in the Blogosphere -- the Bowdabra is a useful but frightening decorating tool.

To get serious about the wedding though, it was an incredible experience. I never expected to be getting married at twenty-four. I had totally bought into that idea out there in popular culture has adopted the idea that you are supposed to be perfectly established when you get married. As young people, we are supposed to be wild and free until we hit a certain age. Then after we've finished up all our adventures and become established in your career by age 26 or 29 or 33, then you are supposed to settle down, put down roots, strap on the old ball and chain. In my grand scheme of things, that age was 28. I figured I would have it all figured out by then.

Alas, life didn't go according to plan. I had a somewhat different experience. My husband and I met almost six years ago now. We met at a time when neither of us knew what we wanted -- from our careers, our relationships, our lives. He was 21, and I was just barely 19. In theory we were Christians, but our relationships with God were practically nonexistent. Watching our friendship and eventual love affair develop, I swear that God must have been guiding our every step along the way. There's no other feasible excuse for us weathering all the storms we have faced and growing into the people that we are today. The longer we were together though, the closer he and I became and the more difficult it was for us to keep leading separate, independent lives.

I wasn't very nervous before the ceremony, but I was near tears when I finally walked down the aisle with my father. When I got to the front of the sanctuary, I found my groom looking like he was about to pass out. I remember saying a really short prayer at that point, asking God to guide us through the ceremony. A few seconds later, a chill ran down my spine during the intercessory prayer. I looked up to find my groom beaming at me and from that point the ceremony flew by. Before I knew it, we had been pronounced husband and wife. We both seemed to be floating on cloud nine the rest of the day. (I generally consider that a cheesy, trite expression but it seems appropriate here).

If there's any real point to this post, it's this. For me at least, getting married didn't feel like any sort of ending. It felt like a miracle happening, like we'd just received a huge gift from God. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders, as we were finally free to begin our life together, free to be a family and live our lives according to whatever plans God might have for us. Plans that we are confident will be revealed in due time.

My favorite snippets from the ceremony.

We had traditional vows but personalized it with our scriptures and a poem we thought appropriate

Philippians 4:4-9 "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think aboutf these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you."

From Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman: "Camerado, I give you my hand! I give you my love more precious than money, I give you myself before preaching or law; Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?"

Friday, October 25, 2002

T-Minus 22 hours and 30 minutes and counting until the big event. Apologies for the lack of posts this week, but I've been a bit busy. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Mean, Lean Fries at MickeyD's

Not that this is a pressing issue of any sort, but let me offer a review on McDonalds' new french fries here. Blech. Gross. I want the old ones back. The past two weekends my fiancee and I have consumed value meals in two different cities while on the road completing various wedding missions. As soon as I dug into my little red cardboard container, I knew they were not the same french fries that I once knew and loved. Instead, they are a sanitized imitation of their former selves. They also leave a not-so-pleasant, greasy taste on the roof of your mouth like Steak N Shake french fries did several years ago. McDonalds is trying to mask the taste by drowning them in salt, but the overall verdict: D+ as opposed to their former B+ grade. I really think their business is going to suffer if they don't rework their "french fry formula" soon.

While I'm on the topic, why not start another discussion topic for the blogosphere...which fast food restaurant has the best fries? Here's my two-cents: Culver's A, Arby's B+, Dairy Queen B, Burger King B-, Hardees C+, McDonalds D+, Steak N Shake D.

This little tirade was brought on by a Friday report from Rush entitled "Keep Your Hands Off My Whopper". Apparently Tommy Thompson and the folks over at Health and Human Services are asking the fast-food giants to offer and "aggressively advertise" more fruits and vegetables, re-evaluate supersize portions, and basically offer healthier food.

I'm a bit torn on this issue. I think the folks over at HHS definitely have some valid points. Supersize portions ARE ridiculous, but I think the American public should be responsible for what it puts in its mouth. We should pay more attention to what we eat and not order so many french fries, but it should be our choice. It would be nice to have healthier fruit/veggie choices, but I don't think the American government should bully the fast-food giants into doing so. They will do so if their customers demand it. I don't have a problem with Health and Human Services educating the American public about the calorie content of fast food and telling them us that french fries aren't exactly health food. However, I do think our federal tax dollars could be better spent at this point in time.

I think Rush makes some valid points in the article about the school lunch program. As with restaurants, what is fast and cheap for school cafeterias to produce isn't always healthful. Even back in the 80s / early 90s, I can remember school hot lunches consisting of pizza, sloppy joes, chicken patties, etc. French fries and mashed potatoes were standard vegetables, syrupy cocktail mix from a can was the extent of the fruit offered.

In terms of restaurants, I can think of a few that have done well developing tasty, reasonably-priced products that the average American consumer wants to eat. Subway comes to mind. However, the fiancee and I don't go to McDonalds for diet food. We break from our healthier eating habits, forget about calories for a meal, and head to McDonalds for mouth-watering french fries...or at least we used to.
What US city is illinigirl?

I'm not sure what this says about me, but let's just say it's not a big surprise to anyone who knows me. I was hoping to be Chicago though, so it's a bit distressing. (Link courtesy jane-blog)

Congratulations, you're Washington, DC., the capitol of the United States.
What US city are you? Take the quiz by Girlwithagun.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Quote of the Day:

"Politics has hit a new low in Illinois,'' Ryan said. "I have never met anybody in politics that would say what he said. He wears a nice suit and he's got a nice-looking face, but you better worry about his character.''

-- Jim Ryan regarding last night's governor debate.

I think that's the smartest comment I have heard Ryan make throughout this whole campaign. I'll comment on Rod!'s comments when time permits. Until then, check out this report on last night's shouting match.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

You've got a friend in George...

The biggest news buzz in Illinois this week has been about our beloved lame-duck governor George Ryan and his latest attempt to go out in a "blaze of glory": reviewing the sentences of inmates on death row in Illinois. As FoxNews notes in this article today, these 142 convicted felons are currently making their cases for the jury to commute their sentences to life in prison. What kind of criminals is Gov. George hoping to spare?

Here's one example from the Fox News report: ""They got their trials, they have had their appeals. It's time to put them to death," said Sam Evans, whose pregnant daughter, Debbie, and two grandchildren were murdered in November 1995 in suburban Chicago.
The three assailants in the Evans case repeatedly stabbed the 10- and 7-year-old children, then shot their mother to death. The killers, one of whom was the father of the fetus, then cut open Debbie Evans' stomach and kidnapped the full-term baby. The boy, now 6 years old, lives with Sam Evans."

That's just one example of the atrocities that are coming before the prison review board this week. Twenty-seven year olds shot while they were working at liquor stores, senior citizens murdered in their sleep at rural farmhouses, women kidnapped from gas stations just off the interstate and brutually murdered for her automobile...the list goes on and on. In recent weeks, Governor Ryan has announced he thinks the system is "deeply flawed and in need of repair". Therefore, he has been hinting that he may commute all death sentences after his commission on the death penalty found flaws in the system and made 85 recommendations for change.

Needless to say, the victims' families are outraged. First they endure a trial to convinct the people who put their loved ones to terrible deaths. After testifying and sitting through sentencing hearings once, I'm sure these individuals thought the worst was behind them. Instead, here they are in Springfield testifying before state review boards about how their loved ones' died, trying to keep these animals from truly facing the consequences of their actions.

Where does Illinigirl stand on this issue? I'm not sure of much here, except for the fact that George's approach to this situation disgusts me. I may not have articulated it on the blog before, but I generally consider myself against the death penalty. Let's just say that it is a blend of religious, philosophical, and practical reasoning that has forced me to this conclusion. Religious in that the Bible promotes respect for all human life, philosophical in that I am not sure humans are justified in deciding which human beings get to live and die (an echo of my pro-life stance here), practical in that the legal process for the death penalty often costs more than keeping these disgusting excuses for human beings in jail their entire lives.

On a less idealistic and philosophical level, I think these sentences should stand. These prisoners knew they could face legal consequences for such horrendous actions. They made the choice to commit them regardless. You do the crime, you do the time. While I understand there may have been flaws in this system in the past, emerging forensic technologies have made it much less likely that any innocents will be put to death. Unfortunately though, the protection from double jeopardy doesn't apply to the victims' families. Instead, the state of Illinois is putting them through a terrible ordeal all so that George Ryan might have a "legacy". George Ryan had better hope these inmates appreciate his efforts. They may be the only friends he has left.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

I'm still alive....

Hi folks.... just been swamped with assignments and wedding preparations the past few weeks. Eleven days left now!!! I did take a brief break to attend a college football game last weekend, and I even had a brief run-in with Brian Urlacher in the flesh. Eat your hearts out fantasy football players!!! I will be around as time permits the next 10-12 days, and I shall return in full effect before Halloween.

My condolences to all the St. Louis Cardinal fans out there. As a life-long Cub fan, I generally still root for any teams in the area that make it into the playoffs. In some parts of Central Illinois, there is a very black and white issue. You either root for the Cubs or the White Sox, the Cardinals or the Cubs. Lee Bockhorn wrote a nice piece on the Weekly Standard last week, discussing why the St. Louis Cardinals should have been America's Team. Knowing what a nice guy Darrel Kyle was and how that jerky Arizona shock jock taunted his widow, I feel quite sympathetic and was rooting for the Cardinals myself. Alas, it was not meant to be. As we Cubbie fans know all too well, there's always next year!

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the sniper-affected states. I really hope we get to the bottom of this one soon. I'm beat so I must take off for the moment, but I hope to follow up with serious controversy at some point soon.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Where do I fall on the cruncy con spectrum?

Very little time tonight, so this will be brief. I just took a look at today's Goldberg file over at NRO, debating the various arguments for/against cruncy conservatism. While I do think some degree of crunchy conservativism exists in our society, I don't think simple black and white does this issue justice. Specifically, I can't buy into the "you're either a crunchy conservative or a normal conservative" argument. There must be dozens of different behavioral detours in between crunchy and normal. If you really sat down and took a poll, you would find that almost everyone has a liking for certain cultural pleasures that we currently view as liberal. Here's a short run-down of my list:

Crunchy, stereotypically liberal likes: Coffeehouses, "alternative sports" like soccer and lacrosse, Ani DiFranco, most art films (although my enthusiasm is usually dampened when one contains a blatant endorsement of moral relativism), art exhibits, eating fish, fowl and fiber in the interest of staying fit, old houses, volunteering and donating to charity, the fact that I'm probably going to use my maiden name as my middle name after the wedding in a few weeks.

Not-so-crunchy, stereotypically conservative likes: Shopping malls, SUVs, somewhat expensive clothing, red meat, television, 80s music, technology and gadgets, the convenience of cell phones, men who practice chivalry and lead in my ballroom dance class, the Bible as the source from which I derive right and wrong, the fact that I am in favor of reducing welfare programs whenever feasible.

So what does that make me? Not a crunchy conservative. Not a loony liberal. In my opinion, likes and dislikes do not necessarily dictate our political viewpoints. While writing this post, it struck me that perhaps it's more of a spectrum from crunchy to normal to materialistic. I'd estimate that 80% of the population doesn't belong at either end of the spectrum. So why limit ourselves to a couple stereotypes when most of us fall somewhere in the middle?

Monday, October 07, 2002

Hate is hate...

Good piece on National Review today in which David Klinghorfer attempts to define the faulty reasoning behind hate crime legislation. One line of this piece sums it up brilliantly in my opinion -- "Murder's murder, assault's assault, rape's rape." The concept of hate crimes has just never rung true for me, because all physical assault is an expression of hate in my book. I know a few homosexuals, friends/acquaintances from college and beyond. They were simply aghast when they learned that I was against hate crime legislation. Basically in their minds, it boiled down to the face that I didn't want to "protect" them.

Frankly, I don't believe hate-crime legislation really protects anyone. Like the death penalty, it rests on the concept that stiffer punishment will deter individuals from committing a heinous crime. However, this crime is only heinous when it is committed against individuals who belong to a "special" protected class. Here's your hypothetical situation: three teenagers are walking down the street, a homosexual teenager named Billy holding hands with his boyfriend and his younger sister Suzy who was walking a half-block ahead of them down the street. Three guys jump out of the bushes -- our actors in this little hypothetical situation (Billy, boyfriend, and Suzy) are each beaten to death with baseball bats by one of these men. With the hate crime legislation these people in West Hollywood are suggesting, the man who beat Suzy would spend at least two years more in the slammer. Why is her death any less of an atrocity than that of her brother and his friend? Why is it "better" to kill straight people in the eyes of such protestors?

In no way am I encouraging violence against anyone. I am a hate the sin, love the sinner sort of Christian. I think homosexuals should be protected by our law enforcement as much as anyone else. In my opinion though, someone crazy enough to commit such a crime in the first place is not going to balk at the prospect of spending two more years in prison if he hurts a homosexual. Even if it was, who is our government to judge that the lives of its homosexual citizens are worth more than the lives of the heterosexuals?
Tonight's speech...

Drudge Report is linking to an article on how the "Big Three" television networks have all declined to air the president's speech tonight! I'm a little bit conflicted on this issue. Since we live in a free society, they are perfectly free to do so. Similarly, people that pay for cable (like yours truly) are perfectly free to turn off Seventh Heaven or whatever else is on and switch our televisions to the speech FoxNews, MSNBC, or CNN. As for myself, I have been waiting for President Bush to make the case for Iraq for months -- to lay out the facts about Sadaam's usage of chemical/biological weapons against his own people and his desire to use them against Israel and the West someday. I won't be missing this speech, and I hope I won't be disappointed.

I do feel sorry for those dependent on rabbit ears who would like to see the speech. In some respects, here the media is truly controlling the knowledge fed to the masses. For those that can't afford cable, I suggest finding the speech on a local talk radio station. That's how I heard President Bush's "axis of evil" speech last winter, and it struck me as a wonderful medium for such a message. When you aren't concentrating on the President's tie or the faces being made by Senator Hillary in the audience, your mind is free to truly digest the words in such a speech and think about their significance. If more people did so tonight, perhaps they might understand the gravity of the situation in the Middle East and how it may drastically affect their lives if we don't do something to stop Sadaam soon.

Friday, October 04, 2002

News rundown:

As always is the case on Friday mornings, Peggy Noonan has a nice column up on New Joisey and the problem with Toricelli. In other news, I salute the Republicans in the U.S. Senate for having the guts to appeal this case to the Supreme Court. Let's hope they hear it. I realize this is a political issue in some respects, because it affects who controls the Senate. But in my mind, this is about so much more -- like upholding the rule of law when it comes to our electoral process. The Democrats in New Jersey have no shame. FYI, Kevin Holtsberry threw up some great comments about this on his blog the past few days.

FoxNews is running an interesting article on the hard knock lives of poor, unfortunate celebrities before they were stars. Boo hoo, Britney Spears had to wear hand-me-down clothes as a child. No sympathy child. Now Billy Joel saying that he just wants to "love and be loved like everyone else does"? I can handle that. Despite all his troubles, his heart seems to be in the right place -- one that's not spoiled and self-centered.

I can't decide whether to believe that September 11th was the first of three planned attacks, or whether this is some trite line that AlQaeda trained Lindh and other detainees to tell the authorities in the event of capture. Either way, it makes my blood boil to think about it.

Keep the folks in Montgomery County, Maryland in your thoughts and prayers today. Fox News has an interesting article noting that an Inspirations...from the Book of Jabez prayer book caught a shooting spree bullet. Perhaps not a sign from the heavens, but I think it's definitely appropriate symbolically.

Have a good day everyone. Posting may be light this weekend as I am headed back to my hometown for showers.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Ups and Downs:

It's been a really hectic week, the first of four more I'm about to face. Between work, classes, and wedding prep, I am pretty much exhausted. Lots of ups (my mood tonight, the temperature outside) and downs (my internet connection and blogger the past two days, Illinois's bowl chances). I don't really have much time to blog tonight, but I just get cravings to stop by and post here. I hate to neglect the blog and my readership -- thanks for taking time out of your busy lives to stop by and read illinigirl. I'm going to work on a serious long post or two this weekend, so make sure to stop by soon.

Disclaimer: Just for the record after tonight's pathetic work at the Metrodome, this blog is in no way intended to reflect support for the Illinois football team. It seems somehow that two mediocre quarterbacks have already shot the area's bowl chances for the year. Basketball starts soon though, even if it will be a rebuilding year for the Illini and we no longer have Damir, Lucas, or Arch the Grizzly Bear. But I digress...

Found a really cool site the other day while prowling around Ben Domenech / Kristin Knox's sites: Chasing Hats. The site's self-proclaimed missions is: "There is a certain feeling God has endowed man with - a feeling some try to supress. It's a feeling of absolute childlike joy, of the wonder of seeing a grand thing for the first time, or from a new viewpoint. The feeling you felt at your first live concert. The first time you saw the Statue of Liberty. The first time you realized the complexities of a single blade of grass. This feeling is what this site will be about - through essays and stories - experiencing that feeling, and the fight to hold it when you begin the slip into a bored state." That sounds interesting, but it's even moreso when you consider a later portion of their mission statement: their sense of wonder is based on principles found within classic Christianity. They see joy as God's special gift to man, to enjoy life and therefore glorify him.

I highly recommend going to this website and reading the organization's mission statement. It bears a lot of relevance for my life at the moment. I am by nature both a perfectionist and a pessimist, but I've been experiencing a lot of those little moments of joy lately as I prepare for this wedding. I had a wonderful time away on my "girls weekend out", my relationship with my sister has improved by leaps and bounds this year, my parents are finally coming to grips with the fact that I am making my own choices and living life on my own timetable, my fiance and I are finally making plans to start our life together. Although I spend a ton of time worrying about the little things -- deadlines at work, grades on assignments, how to fit everything into the 24 hours I'm given each day -- I occasionally stop and realize that life is good. Tonight as I tried on my wedding get-up one last time before the big day, I was struck by how blessed my life really is at the moment. Even with all life's messy complications, nights like tonight I can really see that God has been so good to me, to all of us. If you haven't chased a hat lately, I highly recommend it. I'm trying to do it more often myself.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Random Thoughts

Wonderful weekend, horrible cold. That about sums it up at the moment, as I awoke with an incredibly stuffy head and croaky throat at 4am this beautiful Tuesday morning. I poked around online last night, but I couldn't find many interesting stories to blog about. So I'm just going to offer a few random comments here.

Jason over at Antioch Road pointed out that Google now has a news site -- pretty cool stuff. It doesn't seemed to be very left OR right leaning somehow. Of course, I think Fox News is objective (albeit sensationalistic), so what do I know?

I know very little about Iowa politics, but he also has an interesting assessment of a liberal Des Moines editorial writer's assessment of Doug Gross's campaign for governor in the state. Nice bit on peaceniks trying to convince us to stay out of Iraq with poetry too.

Louder Fenn has a nice post about apple cider, and how ready availability of hot cider in the fall is a great benefit of living in the Midwest. I just thought I would throw this in here, since I totally agree. Love apple cider so much I considered serving it at the wedding, which incidentally is less than four weeks away now...

MarcV over at Spudlets has a nice piece on free will and surrendering to God. Links aren't suffering from the blogger curse though, so you'll have to scroll down to September 27th.

I really wasn't happy to see Torricelli pull out of the Senate race yesterday, although I do think he's a criminal. I am pretty certain that the New Jersey Democrats have devised a way to illegally substitute a new candidate, whether it be Bill Bradley or (heaven forbid) Ex-Prez Clinton as they have speculated over at NRO. I hope the Republicans fight it every step of the way.