Thursday, April 29, 2004

PeoriaPundit on Blago & the Chief

"Gov. Rod Blagojevich Wednesday came out in support of Chief Illiniwek, and said he would use the full authority of his office to support previous decisions by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees to keep the mascot.

The governor also said he would oppose any effort by Senate President Emil Jones to punish the university if it failed to comply with his demands to stop using the mascot."

Bwahahahaha! Just kidding! Blago would actually have to have a spine to say that.

In reality, Blagojevich refused to take a stand...cause hey, that might cost him votes! As Bill puts it in the rest of his highly-recommended post, "Blago made one of his typical non-decision decisions. But then, no one seriously thought he would make any other kind of decision."
Supersize This! (Go Soso Whaley!)

Perhaps the most encouraging, anti-idiotarian story that I have read all day. Thanks to Andrew Stuttaford at NRO for the heads up:

Debunk the Junk: Soso Whaley's McDonald's Adventure

In a smart counter-attack to Morgan's Spurlock's soon-to-be-released "McDonalds is so horrible for you" documentary, this lady has decided to eat all McDs for 30 days and show that it is possible to lose weight while doing so. She is running a diary about her experiences over at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (where she is an adjunct fellow). It has receipts, calorie counts, the whole nine yards. She's also making her own documentary about the matter. Wonder what kind of PR that will get?

This buzz over Spurlock's movie is enough to make me nauseous. Okay, we get it. You think McDonalds is bad, bad, bad. I will agree that Americans were not meant to eat greasy convenience food at every meal. It's a fact of life. But you know what? Eating a pint a day of the most wholesome ice cream on the market would make you gain weight too. It's about personal responsibility people, making sure that you eat a good mix of the healthy and not-so-healthy food groups...and that you don't eat too much of either.

For example, my husband and I once had a tradition of going to McDonalds every Sunday. We used to joke that our kids would love going to church, because they would remember what comes afterwards. Eventually we got further out of college and got married, and we decided that our waistlines needed to shed a few pounds. Our weekly trips became bi-weekly, sometimes even less frequent than that. (This decision also coincided with the arrival of their 'tasteless but healthy!' new french fries. Coincidence? You decide.)

The point is we enjoyed our trips there as a splurge in our diets. The thought of eating McDonalds on a daily basis makes me a bit ill. My tastebuds would find it too greasy, my body would rebel. But that does NOT mean that it's not a viable splurge, or a viable dinner alternative when the tummy desires. Get a plain cheeseburger and the smallest size of fries and regular diet runs me about 550 calories. While my body doesn't look like Cindy Crawford's, I'm a healthy, well-fed, happy girl. And you'd spend 590 calories on a small spaghetti with meat sauce and one breadstick at Fazolis. Mmmm Fazolis -- it's difficult to eat just one breadstick people. And if you are planning on adding meatballs to that spaghetti (1160 calories), Mickey Dee's is most definitely the healthier choice.

My point here? McDonalds is not the enemy. We are -- for our failure to take responsibility of our own health. We need to recognize the importance of reasonable portion sizes, exercise, and eating everything in moderation. It's about time someone emphasized this fact and encouraged people to evaluate their own diets and quit blaming the corporations.

Monday, April 26, 2004

User un-friendliness

Okay, so I was going to write a post about how I am just sick over the Pat Tillman issue. However, I logged on to Blogger this evening and find that my box in which to edit posts is all of ONE LINE long. Pretty tough to get the gist of what I am reading/posting given that fact -- especially when all the shortcut buttons (bold, links, et cetera) are hidden as well. I can code such links by hand, but that's no fun.

For a while now, I have been considering going to another host. Yes, last one off Blogger turn out the lights...I've heard that song and dance many times over the past couple months. However, I really like Blogger's price tag -- $0.00 per month.

Can anyone offer me some advice on other blogging/journal services and/or inexpensive hosting solutions? Not that I have a lot of time to devote to such things, but if I am to keep the blog running in any semblance of order it appears it could be a necessity soon. No promises, but I am pondering the possibility.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Fighting flies with vinegar

Greg Blankenship has up an interesting post on Illinois state budget woes. The AP is reporting that even with $421 million dollars in new fees and taxes, Governor HotRod's budget is going to fall about $100 million of his predictions. Basically that means that the state dollars short of the administration's estimates.

You can't say that no one saw it coming. Specifically, the Illinois Policy Institute released a report last fall detailing that an anticipated $541 million dollars in new taxes/fees would result in the following:

- 3,823 jobs lost
- $110 million lost in nominal investment
- Only $443.91 million of the $541 million in fee and tax hikes would be collected by the state. Resulting in anticipated revenues falling short by $97.09 million."

Turns out their 19% short estimate was just a tiny bit off. According to the AP's numbers, with $421 million in expected revenues the state will be falling 18% short ($77 million) of its anticipated revenues. I will point you to Greg Blankenship's whole post on the matter at a New Can of Worms for a more thorough explanation. Wonder how close they were on the other numbers?

To be fair, the governor inherited a not-so-pleasant budget situation from his embarassingly-RINO, self-serving predecessor. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Illinois has been bleeding jobs for the past 10 years now as this Illinois Leader article details, and what has Blagojevich done to help that since entering office?

"The state under Gov. Blagojevich has levied about $1 billion of new taxes on businesses. Mays estimates that with additional fees, an increase in the minimum wage, family leave requirements and related regulations, the cost to business has increased more than $2 billion."

That'll make the jobs stick around! Top this off with some of the worst malpratice-happy counties in the nation, an over-reliance on manufacturing jobs, and high insurance costs for businesses, and is it any wonder that jobs aren't flocking to this region? Something has to be done. As Illinois residents concerned about future opportunities in our state, we need to be alarmed about these developments and expressing this to our lawmakers.

Off the soapbox now -- forgve a girl who is a bit frustrated by her husband's fruitless job search at the moment.
Really, I do not watch too much television

Memo to NBC: Please move Scrubs again. Take the only promising comedy on your network and move it another time that my husband and I cannot remember. Seriously, we are enjoying forgetting that it is on every week.

Missed Scott Foley tonight. My chance to relive my Felicity watching from college days and see he and Donald Faison together again! Hey NBC -- air re-runs soon! Bravo maybe? I certainly don't have any other other reasons to watch your network now that The Apprentice is gone and American Dreams is over for the year.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Blogging About Not Blogging, Part I

In the grand tradition of blogging about blogging when you have nothing else to blog about, Kevin Holtsberry has up a post detailing why he hasn't posted in a week. I should probably have a dozen such posts on this site. Anytime I think of a topic I want to write about, I come across another blog capturing my sentiments exactly...and I'm much less likely to spent a half-hour of my time coming up with a post of substance.

So often my posts turn to trivial matters such as reality television shows like The Apprentice. (Despite my love for Kwame's earnest charm, Ben Domenech was right to pick Bill from the beginning. He was the only one whose business venture I had heard of before the show began. Now a friend may be tiling bathrooms for him in the ChiTown Trump Tower soon, but that is another story. As is the delusional Omarosa who is starting to remind me of the Mega-Streisand character from South Park).

Or perhaps I should offer my thoughts about this week's on Gilmore Girls. (Okay Dean you are about to illustrate why getting married at age 18 is usually not a good idea. Run fast Rory, back to your uptight Ivy League life...) Sometimes I really think I should try to land a recapping job at Television Without Pity. Between crying twice at Everwood and jumping out of my seat during Alias, I have been a major TV-groupie this week. But my life is not all television and monotony, honest!

What have I been doing this week you ask?

  • Cooked a mean spinach lasagna and three other casseroles besides. In a surprising development for a child raised on fast food, I love to cook when I can succumb the energy to do so
  • Ran a couple miles outside on the first nice day of spring. Allergies be damned!
  • Had a rather deep discussion with one of my non-believer friends about The Passion of the Christ and the nature of grace
  • Finished up a Lenten study on the Purpose Driven Life. There's more I'd like to say about Rick Warren's book, but that post would require some time that I don't have this evening. Suffice it to say that I didn't agree with everything he wrote, but I found value in his book. I'm hoping to read it again before I truly formulate my thoughts.
  • Read an older book called The Millionaire Next Door. Published about five years ago, the authors studied the characteristics of millionaires nationwide. While you'd think it's a get-rich-quick tome, it's actually an interesting commentary on materialism in our society and how even the high-income folks are not necessarily "rich" because of a lack of planning and what it costs to maintain their standard of living. I thought it was more about achieving financial independence than becoming wealthy.
  • Read a rather entertaining piece of chick lit by Meg Cabot of The Princess Diaries fame, Boy Meets Girl. This is one of her books for adults and while she turned her characters into caricatures on too many occasions, that did not stop me from laughing out loud on several occasions throughout. I'd highly recommend it as a beach read this summer.

That's it for tonight...hopefully more to come soon

Monday, April 12, 2004

Why I left academia as fast as possible, Exhibit A

It's accredited by people like these. PeoriaPundit writes on the North Central Association of Higher Learning's recent subtle threat to "review" the University of Illinois's accreditation due to concerns about how the university is dealing with "divided opinions" surrounding its Chief Illiniwek athletic symbol. By divided, they mean that 69% of students voted to keep Chief Illiniwek as their mascot in a recent campus poll.

My favorite excerpt from Bill Dennis's summary of the situation?

"TRanslation: We are going to yank you accreditation unless you yank Chief Illiniwek. What you want doesn’t matter. It upsets out delicate liberal sensitivities.

Someone, anyone, please explain to me what the Hell having a guy dance around in an Indian outfit has to do with the quality of the curriculum? If this is the stuff with which the North Central Association wastes it’s time and resources, perhaps the NOrth Central Association has outlived its usefulness.

At Bradley University here in Peoria, 70 percent of the students voted to keep the Bradley Braves as the logo and nickname for their sports teams. At one point, they had caved in and stopped sending a guy out in an Indian outfit to dance around.

It’s official now folks: If you are offended, you have a veto. Unless you are offended at unfair portrayals of white males."

Sincere congratulations

To Jason and Briana Steffens on the April 8th birth of their daughter, Hannah Elisabeth. What fabulous news...warms the soul a bit.
Sort of hating spring

It sounds almost criminal to say it, but that's the stance my household takes on the seasonal change occurring right now. Granted it's a pretty time of year, but pollen is an insurmountable foe in Central Illinois. Every blooming apple tree and fuschia-blossoming shrub represents a few days of respiratory agony. My husband's sick as a dog right now. I'm just stuffed up and squeaky, but I'm hanging in there.

I've been having a hard time figuring out what to post lately. Let's just say that a lot of my potential topics seem insignificant in relation to...Easter, the war, etc. I'm having a hard time staying positive at the moment. We're having one of those majorly discouraging "anything that can go wrong will" sort of months. Nothing major just the overall annoyances of adult life keeping hitting us, one after another in succession. Unexpected vehicle repairs, hit and run drivers destroying paint jobs, gross underwithholding of taxes realized too late, expensive dental work, no new job leads for my husband, yada yada yada. Overall I can keep it in perspective and realize we're still blessed, but it's been a crummy week. Presence of sinus pressure and lack of good rest exacerbates this overall feeling. As usual, hoping to get out of the funk and post more elaborately soon.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The Price is Height

For all those who are hooked on The Apprentice, it has an entire blog devoted to the show. (Credit Chicago Report and some random discussion between Eric Zorn and Mary Schmich at the Chicago Tribune).

For the record, I am now a junkie. Perhaps I just like the fact this is reality TV that doesn't totally insult one's intelligence. Perhaps I like the fact it reminds me of the real world and/or my day to day existence. Perhaps I just get a kick out of the contestants (who have been pretty entertaining the past month or so), because they seem to be real people with obvious faults and personality flaws just like you and me.

The only beef I have with this show is the importance placed upon having money and throwing money around on ridiculously lavish, ostentatious surroundings. Of course, that is Donald Trump's bag of tricks. I've got to remember whose show I am watching.

If I ever fall into a pile of cash like his though, I would like to think that I will dispose of it in a bit more philanthropic manner. That's not to say I wouldn't buy myself a nice house or a nice vehicle, but come on. How much money can one person really need? Money doesn't equal happiness...which Trump (who is now on his 3rd, 4th, 5th marriage?) should know by now.
"The only thing faltering is media objectivity"

Jack Kelly has an interesting opinion piece in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette on the state of the American economy. It's perhaps in better shape than most of the past twenty years...only the media are doing their best to portray it as otherwise. Check out the rest of the article for some more interesting details.

Two key points:

- The January unemployment rate was 5.6 percent -- the same as it was in Jan 1996, when President Clinton was running for re-election and journalists described 5.6 percent rate then as "low". Kelly notes this is a low rate in historical terms.

- The economy grew at 4.1 % rate in Quarter 4, 2003. Coupled with an 8.2 % growth rate in Quarter 3, 2003, the economy has experienced the most growth in any six month period since January-June 1984.
Trivial matters

I must say that after looking at the disheartening news from Iraq this evening, most of my posts lately seem trivial. What I'm really thinking about tonight is the men and women over in Iraq (and Afghanistan) and how self-sacrificing most of them are. The fact that they volunteered to risk their lives to help make the world a safer place, a more accepting place for democracy...well that means something to me.

I thought of that the other day as I was perusing the blog of Bob Zangas, a former Marine who was killed in an ambush while doing civilian outreach in Iraq last month . What those individuals serving in Iraq have done for us, military and civilian volunteers's courageous and generous, something that I find humbling as I sit here safe and warm and well-fed enjoying a lovely spring evening safe in my home. Thanks to all those who have served in Afghanistan/Iraq for making that possible.

Shortly after September 11th, I had wondered if this kind of normalcy would ever again be possible. Now two and a half short years later, I'm wondering if we are all taking it for granted. I guess it sort of goes back to the idea that "Freedom isn't free." Our men and women in uniform have paid the price for the relative normalcy we enjoy, and for this I salute them.
Play Ball!

As a life-long Cubs fan, this picture (credit MSNBC) breaks my heart just a little.

I must make my case. Please Mr. President, come around and support the Cubbies. I'd think associating yourself with a bunch of lovable underdogs from Wrigley would win you more votes. And the Cubs have fans in lots of states, so you wouldn't just be wasting your time on Illinois.

That being said, St. Louis is the flagship city of a battleground state. It's a fairly nice place, and it's full of good people. This was a lovely thing to have happen in a city that has had a lot of black eyes lately with TWA/American's pullout from Lambert International. Peoria Journal Star writer Dave Reynolds has a write-up with the details.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Least Favorite Weekend of the Year

While the first weekend of March Madness is indeed my favorite weekend of the year, this weekend happens to be my LEAST favorite. Perhaps not every year, but this year Daylight Savings Time and the end of the NCAA Tournament coincide.

I am completely alert right now at 10 pm. Alas when my alarm goes off tomorrow at 6 CST, I will be in agony as my body thinks I am arising at 5 AM. I tend to believe that Indiana has the right idea with skipping this time change nonsense.

Couple this with my sadness about the end of the NCAAs, and I am something of a mope today. I'm a bit sorry that I will be without my favorite spectator sport for about six months come tomorrow night's championship. I couldn't decide who I wanted to win the semi-finals, but I think it all worked out for the best. Georgia Tech played with a lot of heart and pulled it out down the stretch when Oklahoma State put together a run. Connecticut was darn impressive when they came together midway through the second half.

Tomorrow night I will be rooting for the Yellow Jackets to win their first national title ever. Then win or lose, I will virtually ignore sports until the Cubs get hot or college basketball starts again in November...whichever comes first.