Monday, March 29, 2004

Sweet Sixteen Report

We are home. Hurrah! After about four days on the road, I just love coming home. It was a great weekend trip, in spite of the one thing that I obviously would have liked to see happen that did not. (Illinois beating Duke for those who cannot read between the lines). More on Atlanta later but for now a quick note about the games.

Friday PM: Got to Atlanta during rush hour, but luckily the roads were not bad traveling INTO the city at 5 pm. Made it to the Texas / Xavier game by the half. Let it also be known that for basketball, there are no bad seats in the Georgia Dome. We were pretty nervous about sitting in the upper deck, but we could still see the action. Tough to pick out individual players perhaps but easy to follow if you know their numbers.

Texas/Xavier: That was a pretty great game down the stretch. While I didn't have them picked to advance in my brackets, I must admit I was rooting Xavier. I have given up fighting it. I'm just a cheer for the underdog kind of girl. Texas was only down by three with about five seconds late, acquired two technical fouls and walked off the court. The auditorium was so tense it hardly noticed...until Matta's team started shooting. Six freethrow shots later, Xavier was up by seven points and the game was theirs. I kind of felt bad for the Texas fans around us -- they were incredibly gracious and congratulated some Xavier fans on the win.

Duke/Illini: Ouch. That pretty much describes my feelings about the game. Not one Illini player was having an "ON" night, as evidenced by something like 40% shotting from the field. However, the Illini boys kept making enough baskets and enough clutch plays to keep themselves in it. While Duke was controlling the tempo, they weren't confident they had won it until about two minutes remained. They didn't seem to be having a stellar game either, but apparently their overall stats were positive. As an Illini fan, I was more sad that they played so poorly than that they lost. If they could have played even at 70% of their Cincinnati performance, I think they would have taken down the Dukies. But they are young and most Illinois fans also root for the there's always next year.

My husband was livid by the end of the game. It's not Coach K or Duke that really got to him. They played good, clean, smart basketball...just disappointed by the loss. It was the rudeness/attitude of the Cameron Crazies that just made his skin burn. You really can't understand it until you experience it in person. It's associated with the program by default. That's why I suspect most of the nation roots against Duke.

Duke/Xavier: Half of Cincinnati must have been in attendance at this game. I kid you not. I have never seen a bunch of fans so excited -- saw several "Thad Matta for Pope" posterboard papal crows. We only stayed for the first half of this one, as we needed to start the drive. Duke was off their game missing easy layups, and Xavier was impressive. Apparently things turned around in the second half. We're still sort of amazed that XU kept it so close after Anthony Myles fouled out. Xavier put up the good fight though, eventually losing to Duke by two.

So that's it for now. Weekend came to its inevitable conclusion of Duke advancing to the Final Four, but it was still a great experience. The tournament games had a wonderful atmosphere and we highly recommend a regional semi-final if you ever have a chance to go.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Tired of Clarke and Commissions

May I just offer my two cents on this matter? First of all in my humble opinion, Dick Clarke seems like someone who gave his life to public service, was disappointed at how his career ended, and has decided to get back at the administration by pushing this book full of (at the very least) distortions. However that's a story for another day, that's not what I'd like to talk about tonight. As for the 9/11 commission hearings, I'm going to apply an equal standard of ignorance here to both parties. Before 9/11, no one could fathom 9/11. Yes we knew that Osama Bin Laden was a bad guy who wanted to kill Americans. But no one could fathom that kind of operation succeeding on American soil -- it was the stuff sci-fi movies are made of.

Here's the thing though. We're smarter now. If someone gets up and hijacks a plane, they aren't going to be allowed to steer it into a national landmark / skyscraper. We are vigilant, ready to sacrifice for our country, and attempting to be pro-active on several fronts. What more can you ask for? All I really want to ask for is this rehashing of 9/11 to be over. We are never going to be able to pinpoint one person who could have stopped that horrible day. Clinton could have tried to kill Osama Bin Laden on numerous occasions, passengers could have reported suspicious characters scoping out flights the week before the attacks, Clarke could have cried "Wolf" more often than he did rightly did over the past ten years, Bush could have started bombing earlier. I still doubt that we could have prevented the massacre.

Can we please stop rehashing the past and focus on the matter at hand? We have the next looming attack to prevent. This isn't a one-time battle, it's not over and done with. The terror networks are embedded throughout the globe and rooting them out is the long-term struggle that our generation must confront. End of story.
Carpe Diem!

Proving that we are still young and impetuous, yesterday morning my husband and I became the proud owners of two seats in the Georgia Dome Friday night. Illini and Dookies, here we come! We're taking a four day weekend and heading to Hotlanta for the Sweet Sixteen games. What can we say -- our boys have a shot to pull off the upset, elevate the program's stature, and redeem the Big Ten's honor! We have to be there to support them in the attempt...and even if they don't pull it off, we should see some fine college basketball.

Posting may be light the rest of the week, but I will throw in some updates from the road if I can find Internet access. This ten + hour drive is the longest one we've ever undertaken together, so any prayers would be appreciated as well.
Mancow Fights the Power

He can be crude and rude but he stands for something. Chicago shock jock (and Christian we might add) Erik "Mancow" Mueller is suing David Edward Smith in an attempt to bring attention to the First Amendment cause of free speech. Smith is a member of Citizens for Community Values which has logged 66 complaints about Mancow's show with the FCC, resulting in

In some ways, I think this is great. In other ways, I think Mancow as a Christian is missing the point. I too think we should keep the government out of the speech regulation business, that's why I believe so strongly that campaign finance reform is a huge joke. It's a direct violation of our rights to express our political beliefs -- the exact kind of speech that our founders sought to prevent.

However, there is something to be said for self-policing and voting with our business. I'm not sure that I think David Edward Smith was overstepping his bounds in anyway by filing a complaint with the FCC. If anything, we should be more concerned about changing the FCC laws and the definition of indecency. I'm not sure that Mancow is going to win this one, although it can't hurt to bring attention to the cause of free speech.

All that being said, I generally enjoy Mancow's show and Fox & Friends commentary. I just wish that sometimes he didn't take things so far in order to make his points. In doing so, people might take his opinions a bit more seriously. Chicago Report has more details and commentary on the legal matters, if you are interested in checking it out.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Must Enjoy While I Can...

I am probably one of the few women in this country who loves NCAA March Madness. For some reason my sports-repelling family enjoys watching college basketball on TV, and I have been hooked into bracket craziness ever since. Like Jeffrey Utech, I consider this my favorite non-holiday weekend of the year.

That does not mean my picks usually do well. Liking to watch games does not translate into picking them well. My brackets are usually doing poorly by the end of the Thursday/Friday session. However this year, luck is coming my way so far. As of 6:30 CST Saturday evening, I'm ranked in the 95th percentile of all brackets out there. Woo hoo! (Bracket can be viewed through Bobby or Kevin's Yahoo NCAA groups for anyone who is interested)

As my husband notes though, this will likely change shortly. I have a few picks for games tomorrow that I suspect will not pan out. Also, some of my success depends on whether Bill Self can be a successful tournament coach. I picked them to go down in the second round, because Bill Self could never steer the Illini past a team of equal or greater ability. I considered Providence one of those teams and predicted the Jayhawks to lose. Can Pacific pull out another great game tomorrow? Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

I had Gonzaga leaving next round, so that upset will not hurt me too badly. As of my final minutes of posting, Alabama just went up on Stanford. This wouldn't hurt my bracket too much though, as I had them going down to Syracuse next round. Ah the madness!

Updated 3/21 4:30 CST: Okay now my bracket is in the 99th percentile...which is still 5118th place, ahead of 33,364 other entries. Alas this will not last for long. While I picked the Vandy upset, I had Mississippi State losing to Kentucky in the FINAL round on this bracket. I'm sunk. I have a feeling some fellow bloggers brackets are coming to hunt me down soon.

Of course, Mississippi State losing opens up my Final Four spot from the Atlanta region. After finally beating a higher seed today for the first time EVER, could the Illini fill that slot? If they can play like they did today, they could beat Duke. While Illinois's consistency has wavered this season, they seem to be hitting their stride at the right time. It's possible folks. I'm willing to sacrifice my bracket picks (Duke taking Illinois, then Duke losing to MS State) for Illinois and the Big Ten's good name. I'm seriously trying to talk my husband into going down to Atlanta next weekend. Not likely but a basketball addict can dream, can't she?

Updated 3/21 6:30 PM CST: Still in 99th percentile but not for long. Thanks a bunch Kentucky, Wisconsin, Mississippi State. Three of my Yahoo Final Four died this afternoon, two of them in agonizingly close deaths.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The Best Show No One's Watching

I have to agree with USA Today on this one: Arrested Development. Fox is running this dysfunctional family sitcom tonight at 8:30 after American Idol in an attempt to boost its flagging ratings. (FX will be running a 6 episode marathon 2-5 pm EST on Sunday as well). I didn't realize that Ron Howard directed this show until today, but it proves that he has a quirky, delightful sense of humor.

Tonight is the beginning of Julia Louis-Dreyfus's guest appearance as Jason Bateman's supposedly-blind girlfriend. The two-episode arc will conclude next Sunday night at 8:30 pm. If you haven't checked AD out yet, drop your corned beef sandwich and NCAA brakets and do so this week. It's a bit complicated but truly entertaining, intelligent comedy.
Getting to know you...

Both Ben Kepple and Allison have filled out a questionnaire about firsts this week. To help any interested parties understand me better and get to know me as a person who does more than rant and rave maniacally, I have decided to toss some answers out into the blogosphere, deleting a few questions that I deemed a bit ridiculous or irrelevant. Enjoy -- feel free to copy and spread this one on!


* FIRST JOB: Hawking lotion at Bath & Body Works or babysitting. Depends which you count.
* FIRST SELF-PURCHASED CD: First thing I bought was The Jets album containing "I've Got a Crush on You" (Totally dating myself here)
* FIRST PIERCING/TATTOO: My ears -- it took me until I was 20 to work up the courage for that
* FIRST ENEMY: The "popular" girls in the cherub choir at my childhood church. Sad I remember it that way.


* LAST BIG CAR RIDE: Through traffic on my way out of Chicago last week
* LAST KISS: Tonight after a dinner of St. Patty's Day reubens. I'm married folks -- it's one of the perks!
* LAST LIBRARY BOOK: The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks. (Love the sappy reading at night)
* LAST MOVIE SEEN: The Station Agent
* LAST BEVERAGE DRANK: Lemon-flavored Propel water
* LAST FOOD CONSUMED: That reuben I mentioned
* LAST PHONE CALL: From my hubby at work
* LAST CD PLAYED: Switchfoot, Beautiful Letdown
* LAST ANNOYANCE: A heavy door getting slammed shut by the wind over and over while waiting for our table tonight
* LAST SODA DRINK: Diet Cherry Coke at lunch. Trying to cut down.
* LAST ICE CREAM EATEN: Edy's Grand Light French Silk Swirl -- delightful chocolate and mocha concoction
* LAST TIME SCOLDED: Last week when I was in a self-pitying funk.
* LAST SHIRT WORN: Lime green and blue stripped button down that kept me from getting pinched today.

I ....

* I AM: a perfectionist, happy yet conflicted, trying not to always want more.
* I WANT: spiritual peace and unlimited time.
* I HAVE: all sorts of blessings, much more than I need to get by.
* I WISH: I had the power to "fix" people.
* I HATE: when people won't acknowledge that individuals can hold different political opinions without being "stupid".
* I FEAR: that my job will get outsourced before I'm qualified for something else.
* I HEAR: not very well lately because my ears are constantly stuffed up.
* I SEARCH: For meaning and purpose, like most of the rest of us.
* I WONDER: what will happen to our national security if Kerry is elected, what would have happened if Gore had been
* I REGRET: partying like a rock star instead of really getting to know people my first year of college.
* I LOVE: My family and my friends, feeling content and like I am making a difference in people's lives.
* I ALWAYS: run a few minutes behind, because things take longer than I expect
* I AM NOT: a tremendous optimist. I wish I was though.
* I DANCE: only when I think no one is watching
* I SING: at church, along with the radio, on birthdays.
* I CRY: only when absolutely necessary.


* YOU KEEP A DIARY: I'd like to think this counts.
* YOU LIKE TO COOK: Actually yes -- and I'm pretty good at it when I can find the time.
* YOU HAVE A SECRET NOT SHARED WITH ANYONE: Yes but nothing deep and dark - I'm a pretty open person.


* HAVE A CRUSH: I'd like to think my husband and I are beyond that by now.
* WANT TO GET MARRIED: Moot point. It wasn't my main goal growing up, if that's what you're wondering. I think marriage is a wonderful thing though. It's been awesome for me so far.
* GET MOTION SICKNESS: Only on extremely ricocheting cruise ships
* THINK YOU'RE A HEALTH FREAK: Not really, although I'm trying to be disciplined about exercising and watching what I eat.
* CURRENT HAIR COLOR: Natural (golden brown).
* EYE COLOR: Green/Hazel
* BIRTHPLACE: Central Illinois


* NUMBER: Five
* COLOR: Green!
* DAY: Friday
* MONTH: October
* SONG(S): In Your Eyes (Gabriel), Rhapsody in Blue (Gershwin)
* SEASON: Autumn
* DRINK: Tazo Wild Sweet Orange Tea


* MILK, DARK, OR WHITE CHOCOLATE: I like the dark stuff.
* VANILLA OR CHOCOLATE: Vanilla I think. Too much chocolate can be overpowering.


* CRIED: No.
* HELPED SOMEONE: Probably not, unless you count figuring out something on Dreamweaver.
* BOUGHT SOMETHING: Does dinner count?
* GONE TO THE MOVIES: I wish. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is starting here soon.
* SAID, "I LOVE YOU.": A bunch to the hubby, once to each parent.
* WRITTEN A REAL LETTER: No. I don't even e-mail anymore. Sad.
* WRITTEN IN A JOURNAL: I would hope this counts
* HAD A SERIOUS TALK: Somewhat serious
* MISSED SOMEONE?: Yes - people and a very special huskie puppy.
* HUGGED SOMEONE?: Yes. You can never have too many hugs!

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Spanish Appeasement

I'm just sick about it. Every time I think about it, I get upset as my mind turns to which country Al-Qaeda will attack immediately before their Election Day in an attempt to tamper with the democratic process. It's not even worth me taking the time to post about it, as others have said it so well. See Josh Claybourn, Peoria Pundit, and David Frum for some of the best takes on this weekend's development.

Monday, March 15, 2004

NCAA Bragging Rights

I had this idea last year, albeit a bit too late -- starting an NCAA bracket group for regular visitors to the Illinigirl blog. If you've already got an entry online, why not join the group?

ESPN Tournament Challenge
Group Name: IGBloggers
Passtword: blog
Still an Undecided Likely Voter

Here's the funny thing: I AM the voter that all these potential Illinois Senate campaigns want to turn out tomorrow. Likely voter, registered Republican. If we actually get the 3-5 inches of snow predicted for this evening, I will shovel a path to my polling place. Why I am I finding myself undecided ten hours before the polls open?

Up until this weekend, I had basically decided. I was voting for Andy McKenna to make a statement -- that I am concerned about jobs in the state of Illinois. He's the only candidate with good conservative principles who seems to grasp what offshoring and manufacturing job losses and Blagojevich's policies are doing to the Illinois job market.

Unfortunately, it's the night before the election. McKenna's not polling above 14%. This was not of great concern to me until I saw a poll that claimed this is turning into a three-way race between Ryan, Oberweis, and Rauschenberger.

Call me unprincipled or call me a pragmatist. At this point, I'm not certain that it matters. As suggested by Peoria Pundit, I'm thinking about voting for Jack Ryan. Illinois has tilted so far left in the past ten years that I doubt someone running as a true conservative can win in November. Peter Fitzgerald's election was an aberration, one that occurred because Carol Mosely-Braun was so corrupt that the voters in Illinois couldn't ignore it for once.

The smear campaign that has been run against Jack Ryan over the past few weeks is reprehensible. The media is making a mountain out of an entirely speculative molehill of sealed files about a candidate's personal life. Someone on WLS Beyond the Beltway last night said that they knew what's in the file, and it shouldn't be a campaign issue. I'll believe that before I buy into any of the drivel peddled by Jim Oberweis's smear campaign this week. Supposedly he's been running extremely negative advertisements hinting at details of Ryan's divorce upstate. Bad move Jim. First you lost me by putting out ineffective, dumbed-down advertising on immigration policy crackdowns and buying prescription drugs from Canada. Stick to principles not pandering. Then by going so dirty and negative on Jack Ryan, the only thing you have secured is that I will not be voting for you tomorrow.

Another option I have is to vote for Steve Rauschenberger, an Illinois House representative that seems principled and has a proven voting record. Several of my friends that are very involved in local NRA chapters swear by this guy, and tons of newspapers have endorsed him for the Republican nomination. I think he seems like a great conservative and that he'll do well tomorrow. However, I highly doubt that he can win in November, so I'm sort of between a rock and a hard place here.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must note that I met Jack Ryan Saturday morning. His bus pulled up to the Sean Hannity rally at 8 am Saturday morning. He walked into the Decatur Indoor Sports Center and immediately started doing meet and greet with the crowd of 1500. He's extremely handsome, has incredible charisma, and seemed quite sincere. As Illinois Senate candidates go, we could do a lot worse. I'd wager to say that he could give candidate Obama/Hynes a run for his money.

I'm still not certain who I'll be voting for tomorrow, but those are the thoughts of one Illinois undecided on Election Eve.
A bit behind...

On taking the Libertarian purity test making its way around the Internet. Score: 37 -- 'Your libertarian credentials are obvious. Doubtlessly you will become more extreme as time goes on.' Hmmm. I'll have to stew on that one. Not quite as libertarian as I anticipated, but I was comfortable with my answers. Giving any more affirmatives would have been compromising my core belief that governmental control of certain aspects of day-to-day life is a necessary evil.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Divorce & the Illinois Senate Race

There's an interesting article up on FoxNews about the Illinois Senate race's focus on divorce. Specifically, the article discusses front-runner Jim Ryan's divorce from Jeri Ryan, actress of Star Trek Voyager / Boston Public fame. The investment banker turned inner-city teacher reports that their custody battle records were sealed to protect their nine-year old son in the future. The curious part about this focus is that while I knew Ryan's ex-wife is famous, I was unaware there was even a controvery about their divorce.

This article basically ignores the REAL divorce controversy in the Illinois Senate race, the domestic violence accusations hurled by Democrat Blair Hull's ex-wife throughout their divorce battle, but that has been the big story on Chicago newscasts this weekend. Blair Hull has dropped from front-runner to also-ran status in the past couple weeks, while Barack Obama has emerged as the upstate Dem favorite.

I haven't yet decided who's getting my vote in next Tuesday's Senate primary, but I suspect this will be an interesting general election regardless of who wins next week.

Amended: 3/9 10 PM CST - I am most certainly not a Trekkie -- Jeri Ryan was in Star Trek Voyager not Deep Space Nine. My bad.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Just call him John "Bleeping" Kerry

Does this surprise me? Does it strike me as presidential behavior? (Perhaps Clintonian). Do I think the mainstream press will even mention it? Not in the least.

Updated 3/11 -- The link to Kerry's website no longer works, but the details can be found here Boston Herald: Kerry's Website Keeps FCC on the Run and Drudge Report: Official Kerry website riddled with obscenities have the details.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Hannity in Decatur

In a move to put Central Illinois on the map, Decatur is the smallest city on tap to receive a visit from the Hannitization Tour 2004. Next Saturday, Sean Hannity will be spending a few hours on the Millikin University campus. Yours truly will likely be in attendance. For any local bloggers that might make the trip, let me know and maybe we can meet up.

When: Saturday March 13th, 2004
What: Book signing, 8:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Where: Decatur Indoor Sports Center, 1295 W. Wood Street
Details: Sean will be there to meet, greet and sign books. Tickets required -- $5 and available from WSOY or at the door. Contact News Talk 1340 WSOY for further details.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The New Hot-Button Issue

As I have become more of a blog lurker over the past two months, it seems that outsourcing has become the political topic "du jour". I've read quite a few good columns arguing both sides of the issue. However, I'm still not certain where I stand. On an academic level, I have gained a deeper understanding for some of the free-market arguments for outsourcing. On a personal level, I have seen the impacts of outsourcing at work...and it's not all pretty.

Overall, I'm not sure which "camp" I buy into. (Especially with my husband looking for an IT job once he gets his masters in a couple months). I think I'm falling somewhere in the grey area on this topic, and I hope to explain my reasoning on that soon. In the meantime though, Jeffrey Utech has up a nice piece on driving force behind outsourcing: Americans want things cheaper. He makes a good point in saying that the power to keep jobs here rests in our wallets -- are we willing to pay a bit more so that companies don't have to be so ultra-competitive with their prices? Good question. As always, hope to explore it further later this week.

I have hit another one of those lulls in my posting. This is due to a variety of factors -- draining days at work, busy personal life at the moment, and unexplained physical exhaustion lately. Most evenings at present it's an extreme effort to get up off the couch after dinner, and I'm a little worried that I'm this tired at age 26. It's probably just due to my exercise routine as I started a Strong/Bodypump weight training class in January. Regardless, any random prayers sent my way would be appreciated.

I'm also going through one of those lulls where I lack inspiration to post, particularly on political topics. I'm a bit disillusioned with the entire direction of the country at the moment, the culture wars, and the nature of the debate on many of topics in the press at this moment. I need to just suck it up and get over it, as it would seem that getting disillusioned. Regardless at present, I'm just a bit overwhelmed.

There's a study out right now that notes lulls in blogging are commonplace, asserting that perhaps blogging isn't proving to be the journalistic phenomenon that had been forecast. I'm definitely in the majority of bloggers that does not update once a day. That's primarily because I have a job, a husband, a body to keep in shape, meals to help cook etc. I still enjoy the interaction with fellow bloggers, reading their comments and writing my own in response when I can. I'm hoping to get back in the groove here -- although I may be more of a linker than a thinker until I get some energy back. I appreciate that you're continuing to stop by though. Come again!
Hello Wisconsin

As much as I love to root for Michigan State and my favorite classy coach Tom Izzo, I was cheering for the Badgers this evening. Illinois moves into first tonight after Wisconsin defeated MSU at home, the night before Bruce Weber makes his first trip back to West Lafayette as the Illini's head coach. The Boilermakers were able to upset Illinois at home earlier this's to hoping Illinois returns the favor tomorrow evening. If the Illini go 1-1 this week, they would still end the season in a three-way tie. In this case, I think it can't hurt to be a bit greedy.