Saturday, August 30, 2003


Jason Steffens adds his two cents to a discussion of the Top Ten Teen Movies of the 1980s and the 1990s. It's over at Thinklings weblog. I must confess I am not a regular reader, but after reading the running commentary on Dawsons Creek and The OC, I may have to be a regular. There's also an interesting discussion within the comments, on whether there is a societal attitude that women think they "putting up with" incorrigible husbands. In particular this discussion refers to Home Improvement and Everybody Loves Raymond, but there is an interesting discussion to be made of this outside of the sitcom world as well. Perhaps soon.

Thanks to Mark Byron for picking up a discussion on outsourcing to foreign companies within IT and other industry. I have a few more thoughts to offer on this subject, and I will try to do so by the end of the weekend.

The hub and I are off to the Chicago suburbs shortly, to attend a much-anticipated barbecue with college buddies and a visit with friends in town from Michigan this weekend. Will probably be back late Sunday evening - so maybe I'll comment before Labor Day. Regardless, hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Short rundown

Heaven help us all. I must say I saw it coming when that miserable "autobiography" was released. Somehow though, I think this Bush versus Hillary would be less competitive than Bush versus Howard Dean at this point. I know there are people out there who find some reason to respect Frau Clinton, but at least here in the Midwest I think many people see the manipulative, cruel Machiavellian shrew hiding behind it all.

The Port Authority transcripts released today are heart-breaking. Even two years later, I get choked up just reading them, imagining what those people went through. If we had reminders like this of September 11th every day, I can't imagine our national resolve with regards to Afghanistan, Iraq, et al would waver.

Not trying to sound whiny or paranoid here, but John Derbyshire's Monday column really got into my head. It details his sneaking suspicion that " a lot of the driving energy behind modern liberalism is the desire to affront and provoke Christians." There's a lot more to his article than that though -- definitely worth reading IMHO.

In that same article, Derbyshire is discussing some of the more worrisome features of contemporary America, and he revisits a recurring concern of mine. Specfically, he links to a Business Week article on the "new global job shift" -- how manufacturing jobs have already fled America and the "middle-class paper-shuffling jobs are following them fast". It doesn't seem like a topic of particular interest in the blogosphere lately, but for those of us out in the Business World it's a huge concern. This trend has struck IT, engineering, business consulting, physical therapy, and other lucrative fields in recent years. In my opinion, it's just a matter of time before these countries figure out how to produce professional lawyers, dcotors, and the like that are willing to work for much lower wages than your average American.

I'm a few weeks late on the uptake here, but the Spoons Experience is back up and running, producing quality blog material from a formerly ChiTown, now Champaign-Urbana perspective. I'll be adding him back to the blogroll soon. He has a nice idea for readers to make small donations to worthy causes in honor of Instapundit's birthday yesterday.

Coincidentally, Glenn happens to share the day with my father. Happy fifty-somethingth birthday to my wonderful, beloved dad! He doesn't read the blog, but I thought I'd throw that in anyways. Two great men born on August 27th!

Personal update: My calf muscle is not torn, but I definitely have internal muscular bleeding. This is both a good news and somewhat worrisome, as I nearly fainted shortly after the orthopedic exam yesterday. I'm having an MRI next week to rule out a few possible causes. I'm not the world's biggest jock, but I really have enjoyed exercising this past year and would like a fully-functional leg. Any extra prayers and good wishes are much appreciated.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Interesting Piece on Diversity

I don't read David Brooks very frequently, but I believe he's got a point in this Atlantic piece on diversity: "Many of us live in absurdly unlikely groupings, because we have organized our lives that way."
Rough week

Sorry for the gap in posts. I'm trying to get inspired. The week got off to a rough start as I had to run all over Central Illinois getting my old Dodge repaired. Car came through pretty well, but the whole miserable repair experience started me daydreaming about a new vehicle. Need to get that out of my system. Then I noticed some bruises on the back of my leg after I finished my jog Wednesday morning. "Gee," I thought, "It's odd that I have a bunch of little bruises right where my calf muscle has been bothering me every time I have jogged over the past six months".

By noon or so, I was practically crying from the pain. I called just about every orthopedist in town. The sports medicine clinic couldn't squeeze me in for a week, but they were nice enough to tell me that I probably had internal bleeding from a torn/strained calf muscle. I'm icing, downing large amounts of naproxen, and depriving myself of cardio for the forseeable future. I guess President Bush had a torn calf in late June and switched to swimming/weights when he couldn't jog. I'm looking into doing the same. It's amazing how tired/sluggish I have been without the exercise. I literally passed out on the couch, in front of the TV before nine three evenings this week.

After a nice relaxing weekend, hopefully I will get back in the groove this week. I say that every week though! We'll see.
Sunday Night Cable Ponderings

I just finished watching this week's Sex and the City, and it got me thinking about Josh's post on Candace Bushnell earlier in the week. Apparently her newest book, Trading Up is being considered for a series on ABC, about "a Victoria's Secret model who sleeps with men to get ahead and befriends women solely for the same purpose".

Aside from guest appearances by David Duchovny, Blair Underwood, and Ginger Spice, Sex and the City has been a tad boring lately. By the final season of this series, these women have exhausted their pre-occupation with casual sex. They don't revel in it anymore. Instead, they are obsessing about their relationships. With the exception of free-wheeling Samantha, each one approaches her significant other with skepticism and extreme caution. They have begrudgingly accepted that most of their relationships won't last forever, but they are still clinging to some ideal of exclusive, romantic, life-long love. At the same time, they seem filled with an increasing sense of self-doubt that perhaps they have been wasting their time dating all these years.

While they flit about the city hitting all the popular restaurants and exclusive clubs, most of the characters seem and worn out by the whole they would rather be sitting at home on the couch, watching movies with some man they really care about and eating Ben and Jerry's. Unfortunately, their girlfriends are the only ones with whom they can attain this kind of relationship. Is this just the way it has always been? Is this a Blue America phenomenon? Is this perhaps a result of society portraying men as the enemy all these years?

Regardless of that, casual sex does not lead to "getting ahead" for most women. It leads to uncertainty, to loneliness, to diminished perceptions of worth, to illogical attachment to destructive relationships. My point here? I guess it's that jumping into the sack with many men does not make most women happy. Why must Hollywood keep pretending that it does?
Bare Minimum Implications

Illinois's economy took quite a hit this weekend as HotRod! signed a bill drastically hiking the state's minimum wage.

Now we realize that minimum wage does not go very far, particularly in the Chicagoland area. My husband worked for years in high school/college at his local Kroger, busting his rear to stock shelves and help often-rude customers. He seemed to be in favor of the increase, as he can still related to how hard many workers toil for that minimum-wage cash. When he realized how large an increase was being suggested, he was incredulous. While the minimum wage goes up to $5.50 as of January 1st, 2004, it takes a huge leap to $6.50 as of January 1st, 2005.

I know all the general microeconomic theories -- hike up the minimum wage and drastically raise overhead, businesses will have to lay off employees. But I am having a bit of trouble visualizing the more less-direct implications of Illinois having a minimum wage that is much higher than all the states surrounding it. Will this prompt businesses in border areas to relocate into Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Kentucky? Will this lead to significant price increases for all goods bought in Illinois, as WallyWorld, grocery stores, cleaning services, et cetera have to pass the costs onto their consumers? Will it result in layoffs and reduced hours/services similar to what occurred on Illinois riverboats this month when the Guv laid obscene amounts of fees/regulations on the riverboat gambling industry in a desperate attempt to bail out the state budget? Will it result in a sudden flurry of hiring those under age 18 as they can be paid fifty-cents less each hour.?

Regardless of all the academic projections on how this will effect Illinois's economy, my gut feeling here -- this is not going to be good for the state's economy as a whole. I feel like my taxes just went up again...
More on Rod

I really don't have such a one-track mind, but this was too good to pass up.

On a side note, I attended several Illinois College Republican Federation conventions with Chapin Rose (#6). He was one of the few stand-up guys that I met there, and it doesn't surprise me he's state representative for the Chambana area's 110th District before age 30. Keep an eye out for his name in 10 or 15 years.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Algor part deux

Apparently, Hot Rod has his eye on the Veep slot for 2004. (Thanks to Greg Blankenship for bringing this link to my attention).

First reaction: Bwah-hah-hah-hah. Yeah right.
Second reaction: That was what I said about him becoming governor.
Third thought: This couldn't happen too, could it?

Of course, then he wouldn't be Illinois's problem anymore...but I wouldn't wish him on the rest of the country. I wonder if he'd eschew living in the White House to give his family a normal life in Chicago?

Sunday, August 17, 2003

problems with leaving no child behind

The Decatur Herald & Review runs an editorial today noting that five schools in District 61 schools have gotten caught by the new "No Child Left Behind" provision. This means that because the schools didn't meet standards, parents of children attending those schools are given the option to transfer their child to a school that meets standards within the distrct.

The problem here? Two out of three district middle schools failed to meet standards, Thomas Jefferson and Mound. If all the students were to follow this editorial's suggestion and transfer into Stephen Decatur middle would that solve the problem? Instead there would be one massively-overcrowded middle school that would likely not meet educational standards for long.

While in principle I endorse taking kids out of failing schools, this is just one example of how too much meddling by the federal government on education results in ineffectual policy. School reform issues are best left at the state/local level in my opinion. GWB shouldn't have capitulated to Teddy Kennedy on this one, in my humble opinion.
on the blackout

I know it was a big deal. It interrupted our financial markets and hampered productivity on the East Coast for a day and a half last week. However, I agree with Jeffrey Utech that we wouldn't have heard so much about this blackout if it had taken out all the major metro areas in the Midwest. (There's a nice satirical piece on it over at Citizens of Upright Moral Character elaborating on this point, link courtesy of Bobby A-G).

I can't help feeling like this blackout is being blown out of proportion. It's a blackout for crying out loud. The power went out for a few hours. It didn't kill bunches of people. It didn't destroy major national monuments. It's not likely to happen again anytime in the near future, and if it did the results would not be catastrophic. It was an inconvenience, not a tragedy.

If anything, this story should be viewed as an encouraging set of circumstances -- given that the crime in most major cities went down after the blackout began. There shouldn't be this huge amount of finger pointing. We have a problem with the East Coast power grid -- the utilities haven't fixed it, we push them to pursue a solution. I don't feel like it should be top-priority though. Between national security and economy, I think the country has more important things to worry about.
defending a guilty television pleasure

I'm a bit slow on the uptake, but I wanted to comment on a review that Ben Kepple did of a new show on FOX called The OC, "Hideous New Show Signifies Cultural Rot". Ben's main beef with the show was that it's whole concept was too unrealistic and far-fetched and the kids were portrayed as "tough" instead of the sheltered, milquetoast babies that they were.

He's entirely right about those points. The premiere held many scenes of "drinking, partying, and obscene displays of wealth". After watching the second episode though, I have noticed that most of these scenes of drinking/partying show the spoiled rich kids to be...well spoiled, rich brats. The exceptions here are Seth, extremely dorky, earnest son of the pro-bono lawyer, who befriends Ryan (his fathers car-stealing client from Chino), and Marisa, the troubled next-door neighbor who has just started to figure out how empty and cruel many of her OC friends really are.

Sure it's formulaic and not so realistic. Most TV is though. But hey, as Television Without Pity notes, Brandon and Dylan would have figured out a way to scrappily defeat the bullies who beat them to a pulp on the beach. I have enjoyed the first couple episodes, and if you're into teen melodrama, I would say the show deserves a chance.

I felt much better about my hour spent watching The OC and the moral themes it espoused than my 45-minutes spent watching the boring, morally vacuous Banger Sisters on HBO Thursday night...but that is a post for another day.

PS (For any Gilmore Girls fans, the character Seth is played by Adam Brody. This adorable young man used to be Dave, Lane's completely charming boyfriend on the Gilmore Girls. I hold him responsible for the fact that I am already hooked on this show. That's after they cancelled both Dawsons and Felicity within the span of 12 months. I had to look somewhere for my melodrama fix!)
off the wagon

I have been busy for several weeks now. I hit crunch time for a project that I am working on -- all of the sudden the deadlines were tight, days were long, tempers were short, and regular overtime was necessary. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. As for work, I have had a very rewarding couple weeks.

Personally though, not the most rewarding couple weeks. I have a strange reaction to stress. I deal with it well physically and emotionally -- somehow I buck up and pull it together, to meet the deadline or produce the high-quality output. Generally, I perform best under deadlines and pressure. It really must be a mental thing though -- because as soon as the deadline is past, my exhausted body rebels. My eyelids droop earlier each evening. My allergies and asthma flare up. My mind refuses to concentrate.

So that's where I have been the past few weeks. Working hard, meeting deadlines, trying to maintain some semblance of a personal life. Basically, I have been feeling void of serious posts and too tired to document to document the thoughts I do have. Call it blog burnout, lack of inspiration, or what have you. Hoping to get back on the blogging wagon this week, assuming my health cooperates.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

interesting read

I was perusing Jeff Trigg's blog tonight, and I came across one of my favorite e-mail forwards over at Random Act of Kindness. It's called the Bill of No Rights, and I had received it at work on several occasions over the past few months. He links to a Daily Herald article that credits this piece to a Mr. Lewis Napper, a computer systems analyst who wrote the piece in 10 minutes while on lunch break. He wrote this piece 10 years ago and using his associated celebrity, became a Libertarian state senate candidate in Mississippi. Lost the race but his ideas live on via the Internet.

It's kind of interesting to find out that he wrote it so long ago, as the themes seem even more relevant now in the age of government-sponsored prescription drugs and obesity lawsuits against fast food companies. It's perhaps a bit harsh in some of its assessments, but the underlying themes are most certainly true. Here for your pleasure...

Bill of NO Rights

Article I: You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.

Article II:
You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone - not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc., but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be ... and like the rest of us, you need to simply deal with it.

Article III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful; do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

Article IV: You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.

Article V: You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.

Article VI:
You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.

Article VII: You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV, pool tables, weight rooms or a life of leisure.

Article VIII: You don't have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of part-time jobs, education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.

Article IX: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to pursue happiness - which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an overabundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.

Article X: This is an English-speaking country. We don't care where you are from. We welcome you here. English is our language and like the one you left behind, we also have a culture. Learn it or go back to the country and the living conditions you were fleeing.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Still alive

Friday was the VBS grand finale, and then I spent most of this weekend visiting family in rural Iowa. We're talking two hours to modern civilization territory. The nearest town (Ottumwa) seemed stuck in the 1970s. It's a beautiful countryside, but I am not certain I could live that way. I really take my medium-sized city, quasi-suburban, full of modern convenience lifestyle for granted.

Tinkering with the blog template...let me know if you like/hate the changes.

William Buckley has two great pieces up on the gay marriage controversy at National Review today. One and two -- check them out if you are interested. I think that I like the way he is approaching the subject.

Quick observation: Does anyone else feel like the mainstream media is pushing this "The California recall has turned into a circus!" tagline the past couple days? My observation was that once Arnold entered the race, we started hearing a great deal more about Gary Coleman, Gallagher, DL Hughley, Evangeline, and the other "unconventional" candidates. I do think all the hype over Schwarzenegger is grossly unnecessary, but I don't know that this approach is the answer either.

Larry Miller seems to buy into the hype. He has a funny one up over at Weekly Standard -- on how his take on the California recall has changed since Ah-nuld entered the race. Interesting perspective since a good third of the "big-name" candidates seem to be actors at this point.

Hope to be around more the next couple days...

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

a bit surprised

I'm still in shock over Arnold's announcement this evening, as after the last few weeks I really expected him not to run. After listening to a few WLS newsbriefs today, I was thinking that it sounded like Gray Davis would survive. He'd put on his legal challenge to delay the recall, he had done a 180-turn to back a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to get drivers' licenses, he had the labor unions' backing.

Instead, he'll be facing the Terminator in a few short weeks. While Schwarzenegger is not perhaps my ideal candidate, I must admit this will be fun to watch. This is magnified by the fact that CNN is reporting shortly before this announcement, Gary Coleman filed papers to run for governor as well. "I'll be back" or "What you talkin about Willis?" What a choice! The article notes that after Coleman was told of Arnold's candidacy, he speculated that he would win and that Gary himself would be voting for him. The article also notes some interesting "others" who have filed for the race and risked turning it into a farce: comedian Gallager, actor DL Hughley, socialite/pundit Arianna Huffington, Hustler's Larry Flynt, and model Angelyne.

I doubt they will all actively campaign...but if they did, can you imagine the spectacle that race would be? Perhaps bigger than the Kobe Bryant trial.

Monday, August 04, 2003

bits and pieces

Interesting article by the Brits on kids who don't want to grow up. I don't think it's gotten quite that bad here...yet. Link via Greg Blankenship, who I will be blogrolling on my next template update

This is hilarious. (Flash/Shockwave required, but it's worth it for several hours of addictive fun and great laughter).

Jay Leno will be on Queer Eye for a Straight Guy. I considered turning on Bravo to watch a rerun of the show this weekend, just to check out the hype. At the instant my husband was about to change the channel, lightning took out a generator near my parents' house and left them without power for four hours. Coincidence or just a sign that I should not be watching reality dating, whether gay or straight.

More later...until then.
a. vacation bible school

q. where Illinigirl will be spending most of her evenings this week.

Exercising before dawn, working overtime every day, leaving work at 5, eating oh-so-convenient and kid-friendly church meals, then teaching VBS for two hours. That's how this week is shaping up for me.

Good news: VBS was surprisingly uplifting this evening. I'm working with second graders. I was really kind of anxious about it, but seven seems to be a lovely age. Too old for constant hyperactivity, too young to be full of themselves. Perhaps we just have a sweet group of kids, but it's really been enjoyable just to praise the Lord in fun, childish ways.

Bad news: I'm tired. Blogging may be light this week -- not that you may notice the difference since I've been a slacker this summer. I do feel a few good posts brewing on the gay marriage / Episcopalian flap. I just need a bit of time to write them...until then.