Thursday, December 15, 2005


Semester is almost over. Final paper turned in? Check. Finance spreadsheets? Finished. Studying for an exam tomorrow that's almost half my grade? Uh, just starting that one. It's 11:30. Not my finest hour.

Luckily, I did work a bunch of the covered problems earlier in the week before writing madness set in. I do also have all day to study before an evening exam tomorrow. There's a pesky little thing called work in the way, but I only have to do that until noon.

Wish me luck and some energy. Even more energy to get my house cleaned for company Saturday night. Is Christmas here yet? With the semester truly over, I hope to soon resume light blogging (do I have any other kind lately?).

There's lots to blog about though. Good news from Iraq. Josh on John Mayer, which cracked several of my coworkers up yesterday. (But I do own a Jack Johnson CD now, so I can't talk. It's quite soothing and good for making me sleepy at work). All sorts of good stuff witnessed lately by the Illini basketball team. Eric Gordon, Billy Cole, the game against Oregon where it all started to come together. Hope to see you back here soon.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

On the NCAA's recent Illini verdict

I must give the Bloomington Pantagraph props for pointing out that Illinois is no different than Florida State's Chief Osceola except Chief Illiniwek has no Illini tribe to ask for support.

It's a good sensible editorial, at least according to my Fox-descendant hubby. Incidentally, he's not one you really want to get started on this subject, although it might make for an entertaining guest blog someday.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Privilege, Sam's Club & Pro-Family Policy

I noted several months ago that I'd been reading Ross Douthat's book Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class. It's a highly entertaining, somewhat insightful book that I'd recommend as a look at contemporary college life and snootiness within the Ivy League dwellers. A couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon a piece he wrote with Reihan Salam called "The Party of Sam's Club: Isn't it time Republicans did something for their voters?". I'm convinced it's one of the more insightful conservative policy-related pieces I have read lately.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those Chicken Little, "the sky is falling" conservatives. I realize that economies are cyclical, but I also agree with their point that recent research has indicated that Americans' incomes are not keeping pace with inflation at the moment. Paychecks aren't going as far these days. Lost manufacturing jobs are often replaced with more low-paying service jobs, and this is ultimately causing economic uncertainty for the middle and working class. While I support free market economic policies and think ultimately the entire world will be better off with them in the long run, I understand that American families right now are concerned about making ends meet for housing, food, transportation, paying for college tuition, and saving for retirement.

I won't waste time summarizing it in depth, but the basic jist of it? Given the political landscape at the moment and the fact that Bush seems set on remaining a "big government conservative", why not develop a coherent and sustainable "pro-family" agenda for the second term? Don't dwell on class warfare, but instead provide family-friendly assistance such as generous tax-credits related to child rearing, market-friendly health care reform, discouraging illegal immigration, and changing our approach to taxes. I lack the time to do it justice analysis-wise, but it's definitely worth a read for political wonks.

(And yes for those of you who are wondering, I'm technically online to do research for paper at the moment. Hence two posts tongiht. Obviously I'm being very productive...sarcasm intendcd)
One down, three dozen to go

Yes folks, it's college basketball season again! I couldn't let Illinois's first regular-season basketball game pass without comment. Earlier this week, Mark Tupper ran a commentary on the swagger that Dee Brown was hoping to see from Augie and the younger Illini-men. That article noted that Augustine had the attitude in several key performances last year, particularly in the Big Ten Tournament and early NCAA games, where he did just that.

My husband and I were at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis for the games against Farleigh Dickinson and Nevada, games in which Augie played like a man on fire. He had the superstar treatment that night -- the crowd roaring and chanting his name the whole evening -- and he seemed to revel in it at the time. That was one of the things that made his lackluster play later in the NCAA tournament even more confusing and disappointing. But the guy seems to have a good attitude though it all. I can't help but dig him.

That said, I was greatly encouraged to hear about Augie answering Dee's challenge and "playing with swagger" in Illinois's 90-65 win over South Dakota State last night. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to catch the game, but Mark Tupper has the high and low lights. Here's another take from the Herb Gould at the Sun Times as well. It appears that Shawn Pruitt and Rich McBride were pretty impressive in their first starting performances, while Dee Brown had some lackluster play most of the night.

But overall, Tupper notes that it was far from perfect but a decent start. They don't have last year's rhythm down, the motion offense isn't gelling yet, too many turnovers and not enough assists. Obviously they aren't going to be last year's team. They aren't going to go 37-2. They are going to lose, and my couch will have to adjust to more abuse from my husband. But I really enjoy Bruce Weber, his style, and the attitude he's imparted into his teams. Somehow, I have confidence in this coach. I expect to see them overachieve and eventually surpass expectations...but it may take some time. Until then, it should be fun to watch!

Monday, October 24, 2005

To paraphraise Twain...

The rumors of the death of the Illinigirl blog have been greatly exaggerated. I am still around as is my forlorn, rarely posted-upon site. I have had a heck of a busy month, personally, professionally, and academically as well. Let me tell you, this balance is getting tougher and tougher to achieve.

On the personal side, I have had quite a few lovely visitors in town, kept up a busy social calendar with friends from church and work, attended my five-year college reunion, and spent quite a bit of time with family. Illinihubby and I are getting ready to celebrate our third anniversary this week, which we still find unbelievable. Time really is flying!

On the professional side, I have received a promotion of sorts the past few weeks. No additional prestige or money, but more responsibility as I have taken the reins on a project and become a mentor for someone in my area.

On the academic side, school is just kicking my tail. Not because it's so hard, but because midterms have been demanding an inordinate amount of study time the past few weeks. If I had about 40 hours in my day, I'd be enjoying it. :)

But if nothing else, let me allay your fears to report that Illini basketball starts in just about a week. My fan perspective on Dee, Augie, and the new crew will be reported to at least some degree. We were hoping to attend the Orange and Blue scrimmage this Friday evening, but out tickets fell through. In the meantime, Mark Tupper will keep us in the loop with the latest on Bill Selfish's magical recruitment of Sherron Collins, the misfortune that b-ball recruit Eric Gordon had in attending Saturday's Homecoming football massacre by Penn State, and any other exciting developments. Until then...

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Fall TV Part I

I've been a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of blogging lately. It's not so much the task itself or the writing. It's the daunting prospect of getting my thoughts on important subjects organized enough to express them in a logical, informed manner. This is somewhat difficult given my schedule at the moment, as work has picked up dramatically at the same time as my family commitments, graduate classes, club meetings, church business, and other things in my life at the moment. So when I do get a few free moments to myself, it's hard to hype my tired little brain up for blogging.

But I'm rarely too tired to veg out in front of the TV for a little R&R. So here I am to blog about what I know well at the moment -- fall TV premieres. My husband and I rely on television for a lot of our entertainment. Not the kind of TV that you just flick channels and happen to watch for hours on end (although I love HGTV for this purpose), but of particular television programs. Somehow be it in book or television or movie or comic strip or comic book format, we are just big fans of serial storylines. He tends more towards sci-fi shows while I tend more towards dramas...and we both enjoy a good comedy to make us laugh on a regular basis.

Given our busy schedules right now...we videotape a bunch of things and plow through shows that we both like on the weekends. The summer was pretty easy...because there wasn't much that we both enjoyed watching. Other than a guilty pleasure episodes of the Real World and Hogan knows best, we both really enjoyed HBO's Sunday night line-up of Six Feet Under, Entourage, and The Comeback (RIP). I also caught a few episodes of the thoughtful and well-done Iraq war dramatization Over There on FX, and that was about it for summertime.

The fall viewing season has made things more complicated though, as we have way more shows we are interested in viewing and many are stacked up against one another (particularly Monday and Thursday nights). Hence here I am to provide a little commentary and insight on the shows I have seen so far. Anything I mention here is worth giving a chance, unless otherwise noted.

Sunday -- We'll be watching Desparate Housewives this evening, possibly some snippets of Grey's Anatomy while half-working. My household is always tuned to the Simpsons at 7 pm. In terms of new shows, we've watched The War at Home twice. The pilot was clever, the second episode not so. I've seen it described as a cross between Married With Children and Everybody Loves Raymond. It's politically incorrect as all get out, but still somewhat amusing. The verdict is still out as to whether it's too crass for my tastes.

Monday -- This looks to be the evening where quality comedies will all be on at the same time and slay one another. Arrested Development is one of our absolute favorite shows. If you enjoy challenging comedy with a touch of sarcasm, please turn it on and give it a chance! It needs all the help it can get ratingswise. I will warn you it's one of those shows with lots of inside jokes regarding past episodes -- consider renting the DVDs of the first couple seasons if you want to catch up.

Kitchen Confidential's premiere was humorous if a bit predictable. Bradley Cooper from (Wedding Crashers, Jack & Bobby, Alias) is charming though, and I think it shows promise. Against it up on CBS, we have How I Met Your Mother featuring Willow from Buffy (Alyson Hannigan) and Doogie Howser MD. Nice comedic timing and really cute show. Why put some of the best new shows up against one another? I just don't think I will ever understand network execs.

Tuesday -- Of course, there's the ever-watchable Gilmore Girls. At this point, it's looked forward to by both members of our household. As a huge Kevin Smith movie fan, I also forced my husband to give My Name is Earl a try. Kind of hokey but also charming and amusing. I understand that the premise of a redneck lottery winner trying to make amends with everyone he's ever wronged in his life may not appeal to everyone...but darn it if that show didn't just work.

That's it for this post, but hopefully I'll get around to blogging the rest of the week soon. Anyone else seen an interesting show they'd like to comment on?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Note of Remembrance

Just a quick note of prayer and remembrance tonight for the families who lost loved ones four years ago today. Hard to believe that it has been quite that long. Some days it feels like a lifetime ago and sometimes it feels like yesterday. However it's starting to slip into our national consciousness sort of like a Pearl Harbor, a D-Day, a day in the past on which we fly flags to remember but are less likely to consider its true emotional impact. Still, I am thankful that today was a relatively uneventful day...and I remember the thousands that perished and others that have put their lives on the lines since to keep America safe.

Michelle Malkin and Instapundit have nice link round-ups for anyone who is interested.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hail to the Chief

I can't remember a time when William Rehnquist was not Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He'd been on the Supreme Court since 8 years before I was born. I was about 8 years old when he was elevated to the post by President Reagan, so the words "Chief Justice" and "Rehnquist" are somewhat synonymous in my mind.

That said, my heart just sank when my husband came downstairs and told me the news that Rehnquist passed away today. Still all things being equal, it's how I always imagined he would go. Especially since his cancer diagnosis, I have just imagined him working up until the very last second he was able...assumedly because he could not step away from work of such significance. Fittingly enough, I was working to draw up a contract of sorts for our junior high Sunday Schoolers when I heard the news.

Sadly enough, the AP has already started to politicize his loss. The article linked to off Drudge Report editorializes Rehnquist's key career accomplishments as "oversaw the court's conservative shift, presided over an impeachment trial and helped decide a presidential election." Nevermind that these are merely a journalist's opinons and regardless of political position, this was a civil servant and an honorable man who donated decades of service to establishing law and upholding justice in our nation. That's how I will remember him. Rest in peace Justice Rehnquist.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

No Relief

So I almost got on Monday night and blogged that it appeared my fears had been unmerited and New Orleans had been spared Hurricane Katrina's wrath. I decided not to because I didn't want to jinx the situation. Alas, one of the worst-case scenarios with the levy breach has come to pass and the pictures coming out New Orleans are devastating. Not to mention the basic leveling and devastation that the Gulfport Mississippi area seems to have suffered.

I've been trying to reconcile the horror stories with my simple, fortunate day-to-day existence at the moment -- in all its 9 hours of work with a lovely house to go home to, a yard to putter around in, and Felicity reruns to watch -- and it's just hard to really grasp the devastation down there. My prayers go out to all those who are stranded, awaiting rescue, without a home, or have lost someone in the last three days. I can't even grasp what it must be like. Watch enough news right now, and it will remind you that high gas prices are nothing in comparison to what these people are facing.

There are some interesting questions about if and when New Orleans will rebuild. I have a friend who used to be in the military who said tonight that rebuilding the city on top after it has been flooded with the "toxic soup" of lake water, refinery offshoots, sewage, and decay would be against every EPA regulation in the book. Granted there's a good argument to be made that a city that could potentially suffer hurricanes should never be built in a bowl below sea-level. I have such fond memories of the city though that it's going to be difficult to imagine it not being rebuilt. My husband and I left on our honeymoon cruise from that port after a whirlwind two-night tour of the French Quarter, Pat O'Brien's, and Cafe DuMonde. I spent a week at a conference there last year during which we sampled all sorts of wonderful local cuisine - from the Redfish Grille to Mr B's Bistro to Emeril's NOLA to K-Pauls. Sure it was smelly and sweaty and had its share of problems...but it was a charming place to visit nonetheless. I wish all its residents, past and present, some relief this evening.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Prayers for the Big Easy

Major prayers tonight going out to the City of New Orleans and its inhabitants. I happenned to be in the Big Easy last year after the near miss with Hurricane Ivan. Just around that time I toured the hurricane preparedness center down there and viewed a variety of simulations of what would happen if a weak Category 3 storm hit the city dead-on. I believe they'd predicted 19 feet of standing water on Poydras Street in that scenario.

For those who aren't familiar with the city, New Orleans is basically a giant hollow bowl below sea level. There are approximately 19-feet levies surrounding most of the city to block storm surge...but right now Katrina's is predicted to be 28-feet. A direct hit would leave incredible structural damage and the city would be submerged in several feet of toxic sludge for weeks. I'm not sure where a preferable alternative strike location would be, but my prayers are definitely with anyone hunkering down there this evening...especially those with no way to evacuate the city.
Personal update

So I just realized that the blog has been dormant for almost 3 weeks. If it's not one thing, it's another at the moment. I finished up finals for a killer summer session class and at about the same time Illinihubby took an injury to his right foot during a rec league flag football game. After an initial doctor visit and two weeks of crutches with little improvement, we found out that he really has stress fractures in two we're in for a few more weeks of this.

You don't realize how much your spouse does around the house until they're laid up. Suddenly I'm the chauffeur, gardener, and runner of all errands in the household. Couple this with the fact that I've lived a wussy-girl existence and never mowed a lawn before last week and we hosted two parties the past three weeks, and it's a bit overwhelming. All part of that for better or worse bit though, so I'm happy to oblige.

That being said, my class schedule has settled down a bit and his foot is improving. I'm hoping to be online a bit more in the next few weeks. I've just got to figure out what I'd like to cover. I'm leaning towards a more local, economic, and pop culture focus at the moment. As much as I'd like to, I don't have the time required to do the thoughtful analysis that would be required for intelligent posts on the war and political issues. We'll see though, as the Roberts confirmation business should provide some interesting fodder in weeks to come. And of course the Illinigirl household is waiting with baited breath to see what happens with Illinois's appeal to the NCAA. If the university has to change its nickname, does the state have to change its name as well? Because that's the only way that ruling makes much sense. Coverage (and perhaps a guest column by Illinihubby on the matter) soon to come here at Illinigirl, stay tuned!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Comic relief

I received this article about Kim Jong-il from a coworker a couple days ago, and on first glance I thought it was from The Onion. Did you know that Kim hit 11 holes-in-one during his first round of golf? And he memorizes computer programs and cemetaries full of tombstones in one fell swoop!

For those who are interested in more satire and irony, Team America: World Police does a fabulous send-up of our favorite Korean dictator. Aside from sending Hans Blix down a chute to meet some sharks, Kim is loveable little furball whose rendition of "I'm so wonwey" steals the show. North Korea attempted to ban the film several months back in the Czech Republic of all places, because it harms their image. Well, it doesn't call Kim Jong-il a superhuman like their local squawk box, so we'll just assume it's not up to snuff.

Just a little random humor from a sleepy woman trapped deep in the throes of final exam writing and needing a little levity at the moment.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Other than buying cars, I do things with my life at the moment. Really! Right now they involve 40 hours of work each week and way too much time with my nose stuck in Harvard Business Review and Business Week. The class I've been taking since early July is a bear, and it's been eating up most of my time and desire to...well basically to think.

It seems this is a pattern in the blog world. A lot of the bloggers that I "came in" with have either closed up shop, combined to a group blog, or are taking hiatuses because their lives demand it. Some are child related, some work, some health, some other. I really enjoy having this little blog as my soapbox and way of communicating with many friends and family, but I don't have the time I'd like to devote to it at the moment. Things should improve a bit in a few weeks, but I'll post sporadically as I'm able in the meantime. Hope all is well with you readers!

P.S. We are still enjoying the new "baby" and got 26.4 mpg on our trip down to Central Missouri this hooray for Honda and our new little CR-V!

Sunday, July 17, 2005


A decision has been reached, and a purchase has been made.

From this...

To this...

2005 Honda CR-V SE in Pewter Pearl. The deciding factor over the Mitsubishi Outlander ended up being the lack of a center console, blue-grey color that I really liked, and better resale. We haven't had it long yet, but we're happy so far! It's the first car with "fun" features that I've ever had -- sunroof, leather, CD changer, and heated seats -- not to mention air I doubt the novelty will wear off anytime in the near future.

Now that the car drama is over, I hope to find some time for real postings in the near future. The summer class drama continues though, so posting still may be a bit light for a few weeks. See ya!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A Not-So Difficult Choice

There's an interesting article up over at NRO by Alykhan Velshi, a student at the London School of Economics. Velshi has some experience with radical Islamist groups at his university in London. He writes intelligently about the choice facing young Muslims today -- the need for moderate Muslims to "openly repudiate Islamist extremism" in light of the recent attacks on Spain, London, and the United States. It's a good read IMHO, and I recommend checking it out.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Vehicle Run-Down

For those who actually have an interest in such things, Illinifam still hasn't purchased the new vehicle yet. Instead of blogging, I've been spending my few free moments between work and school running around town to dealerships...a few outside of town even. After almost a month of test-driving, it appears we may have narrowed down the field to one car. Or three. It depends on when you ask me. I'm really not good with decisions sometimes, as I like to overanalyze things on occasion.

I think some of my issues are that I see this as my one fun vehicle where I can get some of the features I want before being practical. My parents swear I will want a minivan someday, but I can't see it happening soon. We're hoping to start a family within three years or so though, so I still have to keep safety ratings and carseats and the like in mind. I don't want to spend a ridiculous amount of money, but this is the one vehicle I kind of get to choose for I should like it right? Also, I like boxy cars and wanted something that sits higher off the ground, so that eliminated a few well-recommended choices like the Santa Fe and Malibu Maxx. All that being said, here are my thoughts on some of the vehicles we've driven.

Pontiac Vibe -- I have always liked the design of this vehicle, and it's what I thought I was going to buy. It drove fairly nicely and had a decent amount of pep, but it just ended up being way too small for my husband.

Mazda 6 wagon -- Nice little wagon but the hubby kept hitting his head at every bump. I kind of liked it though. Definitely had that Mazda zoom zoom factor. I think I'm more a station wagon person than a minivan somehow.

Mazda Tribute -- Solid smallish utility vehicle with a peppy engine. I really liked it on first drive, but Illinihubby wasn't comfortable in the back and thought the road noise was pretty loud.

Chevy Equinox -- I like how these look from the outside (and I like GM's employee pricing approach), so we drove one. It handles pretty nicely, kind of felt like a minivan ride, but the inside fit and finish seemed subpar.

Subaru Forester -- This handled the best of perhaps everything we drove, but we just didn't love the styling/design and the price for the options (such as several thousand extra for leather with LLBean stamped all over it).

Toyota Highlander-- Second runner-up? Honestly, we would have bought one of these by now if it wasn't quite so pricey. You could almost buy its Lexus RX330 sibling for what they are asking for a sunroof or leather. Really nice vehicle, good handling, good gas mileage for a 6-cylinder, but they seemed to be asking a terrible lot even a two-year old used model. Sharp Bluestone Metallic color though.

Mitsubishi Outlander LTD -- A strong second. I really like the exterior styling, and the engine and ride were impressive for a four-cylinder. My dad was riding with and couldn't tell it wasn't a six. Between this and the smart new Eclipse design, Mitsubishi seems like it may be turning things around. Alas, the cargo hold is a bit smaller, and while we'd be paying significantly less the resale value is still a bit disheartening.

Honda CR-V SE -- It wasn't even on our original list, but we stopped by the dealership two weekends ago just to check out all our options...and it's now the leader. Nice storage and ergonomics and a thoughtful design; no center console so one of us can someday reach the backseat if necessary to take care of (presently theoretical) kids. It has the leather and sunroof I wanted, decent price, great resale value if we need to trade soon, and a nice blue/grey color.

So that's where we stand right now. A vehicle that wasn't even on my original list of choices may prove to be the best fit for us. Now it's just down to making a definitive choice and the nitty gritty negotiations. Internet quotes are already proving to be quite helpful. I'd highly recommend them if you have to embark on this task anytime soon. I appreciate all the thoughts and discussion on the topic lately and hope to talk about something different soon!
Waiting for Dennis's Leftovers

You know you must be in the middle of a drought when you go to work on Monday and main source of excitement is that it's going to rain all week! We're awaiting the remnants of Hurricane Dennis here as I speak. The sky is a steely gray and looks quite promising, but no rain has started to fall from it yet. There are flood warnings out in Southern Illinois this evening, and my parents said there was quite a downpour as they drove through the Mt. Vernon area this afternoon.

My heart goes out to the people on the Gulf Coast who had to face this again just nine months after Hurricane Ivan...but every cloud has a silver lining, especially for the farmers here in Central Illinois this evening. Other than the Fourth of July, it's been an incredibly dry few weeks here in the heartland of Central Illinois. I know of more than one farmer that will be mighty glad to see this rain.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Independence Day

Just touching base after a nice relaxing Fourth of July weekend here in Central Illinois. One of my classes for this summer finished at the end of last week, so I had a nice relaxing 4-day break to take care of everything I've been neglecting the past month or so: serious cleaning of the house, visiting with the family, spending time with Illinihubby when he came home from a business trip.

Anyways, things that did not get done: e-mail, blogging, buying a car. All of which really need to have action taken on them soon. For the Fourth though, spending time with family and friends and reflecting on what freedom and independence really mean to made for a good weekend. Hope your holiday was lovely as well.

Hope to be around in the next couple weeks though. O'Connor's resignation and the replacement process should make for some interesting analysis in weeks to come.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Still Alive, Still no AC

Well vehicle searching, class work, and a project implementation at work have prevented me from doing much of significance this week. I appreciate all the hints and tips on the vehicles. We almost bought a couple used Highlanders, but to no avail. At this point, the leaders are the Toyota Highlander, Mitsubishi Outlander, or Mazda Tribute. However, I did stop and look at a bunch of Subaru and VW wagons today, and there's still a chance a standard car or 4-cylinder "cute ute" will come back in the running. Overall, I've determined that I really hate all the uncertainty, haggling and badmouthing that comes along with the entire process.

This purchase is an interesting conflict between my heart and my head. In my heart, I really want the profits from any vehicle I purchase to benefit an American corporation. In my head, I keep finding all the features I want on the foreign cars (ie high reliability/resale, good gas mileage and roomy interior). Of course, you can also look at all those employeed by foreign automakers here in the US, such as the Mitsubishi plant in Normal, and make a case for buying those products and supporting those workers as well.

I supposed I can attribute all the car-buying confusion to living in such a high-tech age and having perhaps TOO much information at my fingertips. It's either that or extreme caution about a purchasing decision after spending 8 years with a Dodge Intrepid with a sound engine/tranny but constant disappointment with almost everything else on the vehicle. :)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Auto Advice?

Sadly Illinigirl's vehicle is nearing its final days. The AC/air circulation system has kicked the bucket, and the repair is worth about 70% of Edmunds True Market Value of the car. I'm looking for something in the compact wagon to smallish SUV range - Vibe, Matrix, RAV4, Highlander, Equinox, Freestyle, Escape, Tribute, Mazda 3/6 wagons, Outlander, and Magnum are all contenders. We need cargo room.

Haven't done this whole purchasing a new vehicle thing before, and the thought of shopping on top of work/school is stressing me out a bit. I've got the newest Consumer Reports Auto issue, but otherwise no direction on the matter.

Central Illinois readers -- any dealerships to avoid in the Decatur, Peoria, Springfield, Bloomington, Champaign area? Any you recommend? Any dealerships worth driving up to Chicago for? All tips appreciated.
Free Katie!

Regular readers of the blog and longtime friends of Illinigirl will recall that my favorite television show was once Dawsons Creek. Now I'd like to say it was because I was young and impressionable, but I can still watch the reruns today and enjoy them I can't pass it off as that. Pass it off as a love of teenybopper TV (which has now resurfaced in guilty addictions to Everwood and One Tree Hill), pass it off as an adolescent crush on Joshua Jackson's mug, pass it off as what you will.

You can't pass it off as an admiration of Katie Holmes though. Something about this Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes thing though, it really just grosses me out. Best of luck to them if it's really sincere, but how many people get engaged on at sunrise at the Eiffel Tower and announce it at a news conference just a few hours later? Or spend their entire life as a practicing Catholic but toss it out the window for Scientology six to eight weeks after meeting a new beau? Or sit there and deny that it hasn't crossed their minds that this man is 16 years old than they are, that he has stepchildren half your age, and you don't find that weird at all? Now the rags are reporting this creepy bit that she was at she was his fifth choice for the role behind Scarlett, Lindsay, Jessica, and Kate Boswoth.

Count me among the doubters. The whole business just strikes me as very conveniently timed and staged for public consumption, and I'm sick of hearing about TomKat as the gossip pages call it. Of course, I have just wasted 10 minutes of my life posting about I'm probably part of the problem. But I still think the Free Katie t-shirts are funny. Just what my mind wanders to when it's trying to avoid serious thought I suppose.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Celebrity Sports Columnist Alert

Now I know this pretty far from a post of substance, but college basketball groupies like myself will probably get a kick out of Nick Lachey, Sport Journalist and his defense of Bob Huggins in the Cincinnati Enquirer a couple weeks ago. I particularly dig the byline "Nick Lachey co-starred on MTV'S "Newlyweds," and he is a former 98 Degrees band member". But I'm stressed out and easily amused at the moment, so don't mind me! :)

Of course, this is girl that ran all over the RCA Dome trying to get a good shot of the world's biggest Bearcats fan. It was for my little sister though, really! Seriously, I know it's not imporant in the grand scheme of things but it's a good thing I don't live in Los Angeles, or I'd be carring along my digital camera looking for "Stars, They're Just Like Us!" candids to sell to US Weekly.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Bad for Dee, Good for We (Illini Fans)

IowaWineGuy has already blogged on the big news of the day here: Dee Brown in all likelihood will be returning to the Illini basketball team next year due to a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot per the scoop from Andy Katz today.

I am sorry for Dee, because it sounds like he'd been working his butt off to have a shot at a late first or second-round pick. However, I tend to think that the big guy upstairs has a way of making these decisions for you sometimes. Perhaps Dee is destined to return and lead the Illini next year, make a solid run of things int he Big Ten, help the next-generation Illini establish their chemistry together. Maybe he's meant to return and lure Brandon Rush to Champaign. Maybe he's meant to excel next year and go in the first round...guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Either way the thought of Dee back in an orange jersey and on the court with Augie next year, it made my pulse race a bit. This basketball junkie can't wait until November!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Quarterlife questionings

So I was lucky enough to have a short visit with my good friend Iowa WineGuy over the weekend (and his wife and adorable baby boy). Along with another good friend of ours, we had some interesting discussions on where our lives have gone in the almost 10 years (?!?) since we graduated from high school.

Alas, I am not lost at sea after my all too-short cruising vacation, I'm merely swamped. When you graduate from college initially, you think there are all sorts of options. Work forever, quit in a few years and go back to school full time, keep working and go to school part-time. I think I realized all those choices when I graduated, but my renaissance-man curiosity kept me from deciding on a field in which I wanted to seek higher education...whether it was artificial intelligence or computer science or logistics or business or I/O psych or possibly even law. And so I headed into the working world and figured I'd go back to school later.

Today's my five-year anniversary at my job dear readers. Somehow that's hitting me a lot harder than turning 25 (hang in there Meredith!) or turning 27 even did. I guess I'm just not where I envisioned I would be after 5 years working. Don't get me wrong -- I do love my job most of the time. The documentation angle of being in technology may drive me crazy, but it's challenging, problem-solving work that I think I do pretty well. It's just the slowness of projects progressing and the lack of appreciation or understanding by "higher-ups" that sometimes gets to me.

Which brings me to school and the fact that my MBA classes are completely the opposite -- projects progressing too quickly, interesting subject matter but a complete lack of time dig into it all. I really feel that I may have a knack for this (which would make sense given that I was raised by two-generations of small-business owners), but I lack the time to knock assignments out of the park. Then there's my husband that I don't get any quality time with and feel like I may be short-changing. The devotions I've hardly had time for and the prayers I fall asleep saying. The friends I've been neglecting and that parties that I haven't been hosting or attending. The interesting topics that I haven't had time to research and the blog debates I haven't the time to begin.

No real point to this post folks, other than to point out that everyone experiences a "quarterlife crisis" of some sort these days. If you ask me, it has something to do with ALL the choices we face. Women in particular have so many more opportunities than we did thirty-years ago, but we also have so many more difficult choices to make. Should we go to graduate school or work? If we do both, will we be able to balance it well? When's the best time to get married? After we have kids, should we keep working and if so how much? What kind of impact will this have on our family's financial future if we don't work? What effects will it have on our kids, both positive and negative, if we do?

There have been a lot of books written on the subject lately that I believe hold some insight...such as The Two-Income Trap or the Quarterlife Crisis books themselves. But ultimately I think we all really have to search for these answers individually and find what works for us on a personal level...and the way we answer these questions may change over time.

As for myself, I'm struggling to find that balance on a personal level at the the blog has been neglected a bit. For that I apologize, because I really do enjoy the discourse and interaction that I get from my friends and perfect strangers who enjoy my writings. Despite all my complaining, I do feel blessed to be living the life that I have, even though I struggle with it at times. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to be back in a more frequent and thorough mode soon.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Your World View?

Interesting quiz compliments of Meredith over at Inner Monologues... Shockingly despite my cynical tendencies, I am an idealist :)

You scored as Idealist. Idealism centers around the belief that we are moving towards something greater. An odd mix of evolutionist and spiritualist, you see the divine within ourselves, waiting to emerge over time. Many religious traditions express how the divine spirit lost its identity, thus creating our world of turmoil, but in time it will find itself and all things will again become one.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View? (updated)
created with

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Note to myself

Full time job, two finals, and selling off a house...not something to be attempted at the same time ever again. My family has had a pretty crazy time here lately. Last final is tomorrow though, and then I'm off for a relaxing couple days on a great big boat in the Caribbean. Early next week we hope to sign away our old place, and then hopefully posting will resume a bit.

While I'm in "notes" mode, Mark Tupper writes about the notes he's been taking as he rides shotgun across Central Illinois with Bruce Weber. For those Illini fans who can simply appreciate this season's incredible ride and forget the words "rebuilding year" that are being bandied about lately, it should be a fascinating read. For those of us obsessing over the dreaded "rebuilding year" label, perhaps it may be a smidge reassuring.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Monday night laughs

Okay, it's sophomoric humor at best. Even if you think the Vagina Monologues is the best thing since sliced bread and National Review stinks, you'll probably still find this funny...hilarious mental picture that proves turnabout is fairplay at the very least. Just a quick note from a slap happy and swamped (paper and exam to do by Wednesday PM) Illinigirl here in the Heartland.

One of these days I will post on something of significance. Promise.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

The runaway bride story

There's much rejoicing Duluth, Georgia today as missing bride-to-be Jennifer Wilbanks has resurfaced in New Mexico. At first her story was that she had been abducted, but she later admitted that she got cold feet and took off. A wedding party of over 30 and 600 invitees? Even if she loved the fiancee dearly, I can understand how that kind of pressure could make a young woman head for the hills.

As much grief as her family may have gone through, I'm really happy that this story turned out this way. I was worried it was going to be another Mark and Lori Hacking situation. As the minister in the article notes, their prayers from yesterday have been answered -- it turned out she really was just a runaway bride.

Monday, April 25, 2005


There's an interesting article at National Review by a Gil Reavill about the coarsening and hypersexualization of American culture that particularly pertains to how hard it is to avoid children losing their innocence too soon in today...whether it's "tween" shows with seven year-olds trying to shake it or nine year-olds singing along with Eminem. Even if you aren't a conservative in any way, shape, or form, it's an interesting article with a lot to say from a cultural standpoint and worth a read.
Native environments

Kind of neat little quiz over at Blogthings -- although it isn't telling me much I didn't know already. We'd recently kicked around the idea of seeking jobs in the Austin/San Antonio, visit Atlanta pretty regularly, and the hubby loves San Diego. Hat tip to Accidental Verbosity.

American Cities That Best Fit You:

60% Austin

55% Atlanta

50% Denver

50% Miami

50% San Diego

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Force Widow this Weekend

You know how some people are hunting widows in the fall or golf widows in the spring? I am a Star Wars widow this weekend, at least for another seven or eight hours or so. My big, strapping college football playing, high-school quarterback of a hubby is at Celebration III in Indianapolis with his animatronic talking Yoda figure in his napsack.

Early reports are that people were lined up for blocks at 6:30 am, the hubby had to wait four hours to get a talking Vader at the gift shop, and he just hopes that George Lucas's appearance and Hayden Christensen's video feed draw people away from the autograph tables...for whatever it's worth. According to USA Today's blog, Lucas spoke today and announced there will be two live action Star War shows.

Anyone know where we can get a Darth Tater at list price? These are the big pressing issues at my household at the moment, for which I am very grateful.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Tuesday notes

I'm not Catholic, but I really found the selection of the pope today fascinating. We were in the car on our way to lunch when they broke in to our regularly scheduled pop-music programming and announced that in Rome bells were ringing and white smoke was spewing. By the time we made it out of lunch, it had been announced that Joseph Ratzinger had addressed the crowds and his name would be Pope Benedict the 16th. Stop by my friend Josh's blog for some interesting perspective on the pope's election from Catholic seminarians in Missouri.

On a less serious note, tonight Illinigirl must offer up a bittersweet farewell to Deron Williams, who today declared for the NBA Draft by signing with an agent. (For the basketball-impaired, this means there's no turning back for him. Deron, thanks for three great years of memories and best wishes in the future. I'll always be a bit bitter that he didn't stick around for a 4th year and give Illinois another shot at the title, but for that kind of money...who can really blame him? Mark Tupper offers up some fitting commentary on Deron's departure.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The taxman cometh...

The hubby and I paid about $50 this year, which is annoying in itself. I know that's the way you are supposed to do taxes -- make things equal out to zero so the government doesn't have your cash interest free all year. It's still very annoying to have to send the IRS a check come April.

While I wasn't able to post on my blog on Tax Day itself, I had the best of intentions to do so as I came across some interesting articles about income taxes. Regular readers will know that my libertarian tendencies come into play here. Just in general, I prefer that the federal government be in charge of as little of my money as possible. I prefer to specify the charities and programs that it goes to fund myself.

That being said -- here are a couple interesting articles to ponder:

Brian Riedl presents a fascinating analysis of how the government's $22,039 in tax money per household will be spent in 2005. $7245 spent on Social Security / Medicare -- Riedl notes that taxes would have to be raised $5200 by 2030 and $13,500 by 2050 per household if the systems is not reformed. here aren't enough workers to support all the Baby Boomers retiring. This is a simple fact that America must face sooner or later. I'm not saying that Bush's present solution has all the answers, but it is at least a start and I appreciate his attempts to make it viable for future generations.

Deroy Murdock discusses ideas for alternative tax structures that are worth some thought.

TechCentralStation's Andrew Coors offers up "Withholding an Opportunity Society: Why We Need Personal Tax Savings Accounts". A way to show Americans what they are really paying in taxes each year by making them write a big fat check at the end of it and letting them earn interest on their tax dollars in the meantime. Perhaps if we had more awareness of what we were pouring into the system we would ask the government to be more accountable in its spending. It's a thought at least.

Finally on a personal note for anyone keeping up on such things, Illinigirl and fam may have an offer on their old place. Our days of two mortgages may be numbered. Keep your fingers crossed for us! I'd say pray for us, but somehow it seems like there are much more important things you could be praying about, in my humble opinion at least.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Springtime musings

There are some incredibly heartening things about spring. It's the season of Easter, of new beginnings, of forgiveness. It gives you several hours more sunlight each day, which tends to make me at least less of a grouch. It's somewhat liberating to realize that you can go outside in just a sweater and not freeze your tootsies off.

Then things start blooming...and allergies find us here in the Midwest. The trees here in Central Illinois are gorgeous at the moment, but walking outside leads to seasonal allergies slapping me upside the head. Ow.

Funny article over at NRO about My Sharona on the presdient's IPod. Personally, I find it kind of humorous because I dig that song. I will admit that I am somewhat of a prude, and I fell in like with that song after seeing Reality Bites at age 16. Just because I dug a song and knew the lyrics word for word doesn't mean you secretly want to run out and do such things...or no parent in their right mind would let their teenage daughter listen to Ashley Simpson's La La lyrics. (Another catchy song that I can't help singing along with even though I would advocate very little of what the lyrics convey.)

Speaking of pop princesses, another sign of the apocalypse came about today. Good heavens. Any bets as to how far along she'll be when Mr. Britney takes off? Sorry to be such a pessimist, but I've been a bit cranky from headaches all day. Hope to be back and more chipper soon.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Turn, turn, turn

Over at IowaWineGuy, my friend Gregory offers up an great first-hand account of what it was like in St. Louis at the championship Monday night and some Edward Jones Dome pictures to boot. A couple nice shots of Brian Cook and Sergio McClain, but I must admit I am a bit miffed that he got to see one of my all-time favorite players Lucas Johnson and there are no pics of him?

Nevertheless, it's a nice upbeat tribute to the Illini...which is kind of nice after the mopey, disappointed faces I saw all day long. Alas, our neighbors down the street have it in perspective -- the Illini flags have been replaced with Cardinals (boo!) and Cubbies (yay!) gear. To everything there is a season...and we're into baseball's now. My blogging may turn a bit more political/cultural in the near future, but I'll break in with basketball tidbits as applicable.

Finally be you liberal or conservative, Illini fans must love National Review Online today because it has financial columnist and Illini grad Stephen Moore feeling our pain in St. Louis this morning, albeit a bit too negatively for my tastes. Yet I feel his pain.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Twenty minutes later

I've regained my composure a bit since the game, but I am pretty sad and likely will be for some time. I think Illini fans will always wonder if it would have been different if Luther hadn't turned the ball over and missed the threes, if Augie had been able to play more than 2 minutes in the second half, if more fouls had been called and Illinois had gotten to shoot more free-throws.

Stat of the game in my opinion - North Carolina free-throws attempted 18, Illinois free throws attempted 6. I must agree with Bruce Weber and say that how the game was called had a major effect on this game. This wasn't Illinois circa 2001 where the classic complaint was that Lucas Johnson, Robert Archibald, and Damir Krupalija were too physical. I'm not sure why there seemed to be such a disparity in this game.

This was a magical season, and I will always remember it fondly. Watching such a diverse, fun-loving, well-meaning group of guys play together like this and achieve like this was incredible. I wish they could have won it, for Bruce Weber and his mom, for Illinois's 100th season, for Lou Henson. Regardless, they have done a tremendous amount for the program and showed that Illinois basketball is not to be taken lightly and can be successful on a national stage.

Now bring on the quality recruits. After his performance in the tournament, I think that Dee will probably stick around another year. The three-guard magical offense will be gone, but I'm interested in seeing what Bruce Weber dreams up next. Illini fans will have to adjust to losing more next year, but there's still a lot to root for in this program's future. For this year, Clockwork Orange it is.

"That's what we get for rooting for a classy program. Good guys finish last...or second" -- Illinihubby
Liveblogging St. Louis

Intros: I can't help it. I look at North Carolina, I see a bunch of tough guys pumping up one another's egos. I look at Illinois, I see a circle of nice, everyday guys cheering one another on. Of course, if you can't tell by the name of this blog, I'm not the most impartial, unbiased source.

First half

At 15:13 just after the first TV timeout, quote from Illinihubby "I think they TV timeouts are going to help North Carolina, because the longer you keep them away from Roy Williams the dumber they play"

Illinois has had some great opportunities since that TV timeout and failed to capitalize. Felton just got his second foul though.

Sean May just intentionally ran down Roger Powell, and they didn't call the charge. I am further convinced that May is somewhat of a thug. Our tubby guy Deron doesn't use his body to hurt people like that. And Augie draws a charge? Ridiculous.

On a related note, an IU graduate that I work with today said he'd never forgive Scott May for showing up at Indiana-UNCs last game wearing an entirely Carolina blue outfit. Granted the guy's supporting his son, but I know what he's saying.

Overall perception at 10 minutes in? They're calling ticky-tack visible fouls against Illinois and letting UNC get away with some extremely physical play.

8:55 -- RIDICULOUS timeout. I can't believe they called that.

6:30 -- My husband thinks that was too long to leave Nick Smith in the game and on May and that Dee is taking some crummy shots.

I really dig Jack Ingram. Can I say it again? They made such a big deal out of his three-point shots earlier this year, but he's been hitting them repeatedly in the tourney. And way to get Manuel to pick up his third.

Ummm over the back on Sean May instead of Augie? Are they afraid to call fouls on him? And the mauling of Roger Powell continues. This is sort of unbelieveable refereeing. 32, 21, 34?

Not really happy with Illinois's play the past couple minutes. Quite a few defensive breakdowns and no one is getting it done offensively.

Interesting how they haven't reshown Sean May stripping Jack of that ball, perhaps because he mauled him? And the traveling that they've let May and McCants get away with the past few minutes is incredible. I know refs can't see everything, but come on people.

Not happy about this shot-clock ticking away. Hopefully Weber will be giving them a nice kick in the pants at the half. My husband's comment? "They're only down by 13 as crappy as they've played. If they're down by 13 with 10 minutes left, then we'll start worrying"

I just received a half-time phone call from my Michigan State friend whose message is "Calm yourself". What's happening when die hard Illini fans start talking like this? My response "What should I say? Way to go not make about a dozen of those 3-pointers you took in the first half?"

Second Half

Really sad for Augie, but they have got some momentum now.

Apparently someone turned the lightswitch from off to on for the Illini's three-pointers during the half. So should they keep taking them? Fortunately North Carolina's automatic switch has flipped off for a while.

13:46 -- Mark it in your calendars folks -- they finally called a foul on Sean May.

Illinihubby is fairly happy with the position Illinois has clawed back into with 10 minutes left. He is not happy with the fact they aren't calling many fouls on Sean May underneath the basket.

You call that foul on Jack Ingram (but not until he has a hand on the ball I might add), and then don't call anything on Sean May?

They've got keep this up. Strong and steady. Good anticipation by Deron on that last turnover, then Roger Powell grabs that rebound.

I am really sad for Augustine, out on three ticky-tack fouls with no points. We'll see him next year though and how about Jack Ingram. Felton just grabbed his fourth and Dee gets to shoot to tie! He did it. Hooray for Dee and his mom, who has the same hairdo incidentally!

Little bit worried about Ingram now. We think Powell's getting moved over to May. Hope the Reverend prayed at halftime. Felton & Manuel both have 4.

I'm getting a bit jittery -- this may be it until game's end. Luther just tied it again, 2:32 to go.

Darn Luther for not taking it to the basket. 26 seconds, not feeling good about it yet. It's over. A dream season over.
One hour to go

I'm nervous for the Fighting Illini, but I'm also excited. Win or lose, Illinois is making history today with its first ever championship game. But I'm guessing they haven't been shooting for second place all year. Team versus Talent kicks off in just over one hour! The fact that Illinois has been spun as the underdog the past few days -- it was me hopeful that we are about to see some amazing basketball. When the Illini feel they have been disrespected, they come ready to play and prove them wrong.

It's been a rough day for me (family funeral), and I hope the Illini come out ready to play and give me something to cheer about. It'll be a little bittersweet regardless, because I have gotten incredibly attached to this squad of players as I've watched them the past couple years. So Dee, Deron, Roger, Luther, James, Jack and the bench...give me something to remember you by! I'm home, so I'll be live-blogging as available.

Clockwork Orange or Destiny's Illini? The debate over which nickname is more appropriate should be settled in about three hours.
Brief political interlude

I stumbled across a couple excellent posts just now, and I must link to them. Over at asymmetrical information, blogger Jane Galt has up some thoughtful, reflective libertarian reflection on both the pros & cons of the argument to legalize gay marriage as well as a nice post on issues with privitization of marriage. She doesn't pretend to know the right answers to this question, but she provides some very thought-provoking analysis that should appeal to individuals on both side of the aisle.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

My sympathies

Before I sign off for the evening, let me express my condolences to all my Catholic friends and visitors on the death of Pope John Paul II. While I have never been Catholic, I hold tremendous respect for the majority of his views and appreciate all that he did to help eradicate Communism.
Finals Note

Finally, I must send my congratulations out to my buddy Iowa Wine Guy. Aside from offering up a great assessment of tonight's game and thoughts on Monday night, his younger brother's HORSE shooting prowess has landed him a ticket to the Edward Jones Dome action Monday night. I am WAY jealous, but unfortunately I don't have the extra moolah not time to journey to St. Louis Monday.

I'm very happy for him though, and I hope he gets to witness history firsthand. And if I haven't mentioned it here before, I must also congratulate him and the missus on the birth of their adorable son Max, the cutest little Illini fan ever!
Following the action

I'm working on an Illinois post, meanwhile Michigan State seems to be falling apart against UNC before my eyes. Hang in there Spartans! The Big Ten is pulling for you.

Michigan State just hit a 3-pointer with over 11 minutes left. Let's see what they can do...
Amazing Evening Under the Arch

It's finally happened. For the first time in it's 100 years of basketball, Illinois will be playing in the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game. It's still kind of hard to believe.

The game against Louisville tonight -- it wasn't necessarily pretty or showy, but it was impressive. It was Illinois basketball at its best. Not every Illinois player was having an great game, but as a team they figured out what they had to do, who to pass the ball to, and how to systematically dismantle the Louisville defense and offense. Key people stepped up and made the shots, and the rest of the team played really solid defense.

Once again, Deron Williams pulled off the defensive miracle, shutting down Fransisco Garcia in a Stoudamire-esque manner. Luther Head turned in an impressive offensive performance with little-to-no sign of the hamstring problems that plagued him last week. Jack Ingram had a hellacious game Dee Brown made a couple free throws, Nick Smith turned in a couple points

And the playmaker of the game, the man on the cover of every sports section's website at the moment...Roger Powell. You have to love the Reverend's heart. There was a point just after halftime at which this was a close game. Then came Roger Powell's three-pointer-into-a-monster-slam-dunk. Once CBS gets up their poll, I'm voting for that as the game-changing play of the semi-finals. Roger Powell refused to quit. At one point, I turned to my husband and said, "It's like John Belushi in the Blues Brothers. I think he really believes he's on a mission from God".

The jubliation of last Saturday night isn't present tonight, but there's something much more rewarding at the core of this. Pride. Pride in a team that plays so unselfishly and fluidly. Pride in a team of young men that even if they didn't start that way have turned into gentlemen on and off the court. Pride in such a diverse, varied group of young men that have come together as a family, and in some little way encouraged Illinois citizens to do the same. Pride in a once-unheralded coach that has made Illini Nation love him, has done so much with these young men and has been through so much in the past few weeks. Pride in a team assembly that win or lose, I will miss watching in this form after Monday night. Up at the Daily Herald, a Mike Imrem column describes my sentiments perfectly.

Bring on the Tarheels! (Or Michigan State if they can pull together the comeback. I have not given up on them!)

Monday, March 28, 2005

More Illinois coverage

Can basketball fans in Central Illinois get enough right now? Of course not! Work was buzzing today, and they had the navy and orange Illinois flag flying right beneath the stars and stripes. Let's face it -- Illinois hasn't had a sports team to root for in a while. We're primed and ready and this will be a crazy week.

Want to know what the bus back to Champaign was like Saturday night? Adam Rittenberg has some details at the Daily Herald. What were the Illini up to Sunday morning? Mark Tupper has some details. It includes a prediction for an Illinois-Michigan State final. Wouldn't that be sweet?

Overall media consensus is that the public wants to see our Fighting Illini meet UNC in the final.

Mike DeCourcy at the Sporting News names Jack Ingram's steal the play of the weekened.

Finally, congratulations to my buddy Iowa Wine Guy whose younger brother's HORSE shooting prowess has landed him a ticket to the Edward Jones Dome Final Four action. I am WAY jealous, but unfortunately I don't have an extra thousand dollars lying around at the moment. I'm very happy for him though and hope he gets to witness history firsthand.
Wasting time

Distracted from my work this evening, I have tuned into the first episode of the new Bachelor run. Long-time readers of this blog know that I enjoyed the first few season of this show, but that fascination ended around the time of . I watched the Season with Bob's castoff Meredith as the Bachelorette, but I haven't been an avid fan since.

I watched some of the Bachelor premiere tonight, and I feel like I just wasted an hour of my life. They have turned it into a bunch of shallow cheerleaders catfighting over a cocky a**. (Pardon my french). It saddens me that this show rolls on while quality television shows like Arrested Development and Jack & Bobby (not to mention American Dreams & Joan of Arcadia) may be nearing their final episodes.

American Dreams season (and possibly series) finale airs on NBC Wednesday at 7 pm CST. Watch good ones folks, please...especially since there's no basketball on!

Sunday, March 27, 2005


First and foremost, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter. Hope you had a glorious, awe-inspiring, life-affirming holiday.

After last night's incredibly exciting game and an Easter day spent running around Central Illinois to see family, I am spent (and hopefully not sick). Happily though I turned my assignment in two hours before the deadline and proceeded out into the blogosphere.

Great links for Illinois coverage
BigTenWonk's great summary of the entire game
UnderScoreBleach on media reaction to the Illinois comeback
Jay Mariotti admits this one was unforgettable
As always, Mark Tupper is great here and here

Also, hooray for the Big Ten! Big kudos to Michigan State for knocking off Kentucky today in 2OT. We really thought the KY player's toe was touching the 3-point line at the end of regulation. Props to Wisconsin for a valiant effort against North Carolina as well. Who can say this conference is down after watching the games this weekend? Very few me thinks.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

What a night

I have been trying to work on homework for my mba classes, but I can't stay off the net and am not getting much done. The adrenaline from the game has kept me distracted, but it's start to wear off.

I highly recommending checking out ESPN's heart-wrenching pictures from the game and its aftermath in their Illinois-Arizona photo gallery.
WOO HOO! 90-89!

That is all -- a comeback for the ages. Wish they had started playing like champs earlier, but I am so excited right now. First Final Four since I was in 5th grade -- how I am kicking myself for not getting in the ticket lottery last year now!

And you have to love Roger Powell for dancing in front of the camera giving credit to where credit's due.
8:20 pm

I eat my words.

The last words of my last post that I edited out? "I dare them to prove me wrong". They just did. I should dare them more often.

If they pull this off in OT, this will be a storybook ending. Unbelievable comeback just pulled off -- I just wish they could have started it about 30 seconds earlier. Or the fouling of Dee had gotten called at the end of regulation. Bill Murray is amazed too.

PS Apparently Augie didn't get charged with the foul.
Sad in Central Illinois

Defense has collapsed. Arizona's hit a shot every trip down the court. Calls are not going their way. Augie just fouled out. Not happy at our house right now. After as well as they played at the beginning of the season, I am saddened it may end like this. Elite Eight part Deux. But I supposed we could have always been Kansas or Wake.

I'm trying to keep it in perspective given the time of year and how basketball really does not trump my faith, life, family, and everything else...but I'm pretty darn sad right now with 4 minutes left.
Sweet 16 Weekend

Last year at this stage of the tournament, I was sitting in the upper deck of the Georgia Dome, still a bit heartbroken over Illinois's recent loss to Duke and cheering my heart out for Xavier and Thad Matta. What a difference a year makes to an Illinois fan huh?

This year an interesting confluence of events -- work, tons of work for my grad classes, Easter observance, and the fact that the Rosemont Arena / Chicago regional was sold out well over a month ago -- has transpired to keep me at home. I'm sitting here on my laptop trying to concentrate on a marketing project (due tomorrow night at midnight, Easter and the tourney must not be of significance to my prof) and trying to keep my mind off the Illinois-Arizona game tonight.

I should be feeling pretty good -- Illinois's play against UW-Milwaukee was impressive. They were hitting great shots and shutting down their foe offensively. James Augustine was pretty quiet, but I tend to believe that's because Dee Brown and Deron Williams were both inspired. Luther Head hit some key shots, despite playing with a sore hamstring.

Instead, I am a little bit weary of deja vu. About three years ago this weekend, I was out at a local Godfather's Pizza with my husband's family, watching Illinois take on Arizona in the Elite Eight. It was a brutal game that seemed to have one-sided officiating in that Illinois seemed to be called for foul after foul, with no one calling a thing on the Wildcats. To this day, my husband still claims it's because Lute Olson ran around the week before the game complaining about how physical Illinois was. I just remember watching Robert Archibald take shot after shot (think it was a career game for him) but still coming up short. Archibald and Lucas Johnson were two of my favorite Illinois players ever. It's probably their fault I'm such a nutty fan now. Man, was I heartbroken after that game though.

So I'm a little bit nervous about tonight, but I am comforted by one fact. This year, whenever Illinois has been confronted with a game that it views as a challenge, it came to play. Wake Forest, Gonzaga, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Michigan State. There were tense moments in a few of these games, but Dee or Deron or Luther or James always took charge and turned the team in the right direction. Any time they've had a clear-cut goal, they've achieved it. I'm fairly confident that they will do the same tonight. Let's hope they show up as determined as they did for all those key match-ups earlier in the season.

As this Daily Herald article quotes Weber as saying, "I think it will be a catastrophe (in the players’ minds) if we lose. They’ve set high goals. We’ve laid them out there. People know it...They want it. We’re in a position to get it. Will it be easy? No. We’re going to have to play a great ballgame. I’m hoping, like we did in some of the earlier games — Wake and Gonzaga — we’ll be able to pick it up again to another level.”

Here's to hoping for win #36. Go out there, avenge the earlier Wildcat defeats, and make Illini Nation proud. Build the Big Ten up a bit more (yay Michigan State and Wisconsin), knock Salim Stoudamire down a peg or two, and show the nation why we've been Illinois believers all season long.
Little fun reading for you...

ESPN's Jim Caple had a bit of fun at U of I over the past two weeks. It's a great account of how basketball fever has been sweeping Champaign-Urbana. Check out these accounts for a bit of a laugh -- there's funny pictures involving Tigger suits!

Day 1 -- Back to school at Sigma Phi Epsilon
Day 2 -- Classes, Brothers & karaoke
Day 3 -- Perfect storm of St. Paddys & FDU game
Day 4 -- Out with the girls

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Notes from the RCA Dome

We had an incredibly good weekend in Indy. We are beat as usual, but I must say: if you are ever pondering attending NCAA tournament games, go for it. The tickets are not that expensive and the atmosphere is incredible. Especially when you are one of the orange-wearing throngs cheering on the #1 team in the nation in a packed dome of a basketball stadium. Random notes from the front...

  • We arrived towards the end of the EKU vs. UK game on Thursday. Eastern Kentucky gave UK quite a scare. Some of the freethrows they hit were incredible. I wasn't sure who to root for -- the underdog or the team I have heading to the Final Four in at least one of my brackets!

  • For perhaps the first time in my life, I heard the crowd go nuts when the pep band walked onto the court, setting up for Illinois during the Iowa-Cincinnati game.

  • A teenage girl still lurks inside me somewhere, because I got a bit giddy and went Nick Lachey picture hunting after Cincy put Iowa out of contention. Sorry guys, but he's just as good looking in person. And the coaches say he's a nice guy!

  • Most of the RCA Dome was holding its collective breath as Dee Brown took his first few shots. But you haven't heard cheering until you heard that place after Dee hit a couple threes. The rough patch seems to be over.

  • Not sure how it looked on TV, but the Farleigh Dickinson game felt close. They had nothing to lose and were playing to win. The anxiety in the air was palpable at halftime. Half of the fans stayed in their seats, wringing their hands and willing a better second half.

  • Illinois exhibited flashes of brilliance throughout the second half of the FDU game. For two 4-5 minute streaks, they seemed back to their "normal" rampaging selves. Then they let up and backslid a bit. We're hoping Weber can break them of this habit before next weekend -- they need to be playing to win and not to avoid losing.

  • Either out of a love for the underdog or jealousy of the Illini, Kentucky fans wholeheartedly were cheering for FDU to pull off the upset...which just led to the orange masses cheering for Cincinnati on Saturday night.

  • TV timeouts -- I'd never really thought about them until this trip. But they seemed to be popping up every couple minutes, and WOW did they influence the momentum of the games.

  • James Augustine. WOW. What can I say? Augie dominated on both ends of the court -- an amazing performance against Nevada's Nick Fazekas. I think Nevada's defense limited the guards a bit, but James (and Jack Ingram) did more than make up for it. They set the tone of the game. Here's to hoping he can maintain this standard of play throughout the rest of the tourney.

  • As for the rest of the game, let's just say the Illini got their groove back. It felt like they came to play again, and the crowd was loving it. Here are a few details from the Sun-Times.

  • Around when Illinois was up by 20 points in the second half of the Nevada game, I mused out loud that I wondered if Bill Self was sitting at home, watching the game and feeling a bit sorry for himself. Several fans around us laughed, but no one seemed to take much joy in it. At that point Saturday night, the Illini fans were thrilled with the team and coach they had.

  • Onto Allstate Arena and UW Milwuakee! Here's the Bruce Pearl grudge match round up from the Herald & Review's Mark Tupper. I was 11 when it happened, and I could care less. Let's just see them put up a W and another fine performance to build some momentum for that ticket to the Final Four.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Madness is about to begin...

Illinigirl finally has a few minutes to herself, so I thought I'd post about one of my favorite topics. My favorite time of year has arrived. The NCAA tournament begins in just over 48 hours with the play-in game in Dayton, OH. (I'm rooting for Oakland in that game btw. How can I not root for the team who took a timeout seconds into their game against Illinois to capture the Kodak moment of keeping pace with the #1 team in the nation?)

How did I get so obsessed with college basketball? I wish I knew. I grew up in a household that didn't care much about sports. However, I basically grew up in the shadow of U of Illinois, so any games that my household watched or attended were in Champaign. As I got older though, basketball was the one that held my attention. I remember during high-school my grandmother became quite a follower of the Illinois women's basketball team in the mid-1990s, and she got me started watching collegiate games. Once I met my husband (Peoria-born orange-and-blue basketball junkie that grew up envying Sergio McClain's abilities), I was a goner. Now, I watch every Illinois game and almost all other college basketball games I can find. In a few short days, Illinihubby and I will take to the road again and follow our favorite basketball team to post-season play at the RCA Dome. We'll be in the cheap seats (still have two mortgages people), but we're still thrilled to be going.

We have mixed feelings on the Chicago regional bracket. My husband seems to think that Illinois got a somewhat rough draw, as the #2 seed Oklahoma State could well have been a #1 seed. With a better performance in their league tourney, Arizona might have secured a #1 seed as well, and the once lauded abd undefeated Boston College rounds it out as a tough #4. Similar thoughts have been echoed today by Doyel over at CBS Sportsline. The fact of the matter is though -- with all cylinders firing, the Illini can outplay any team in the country. With even a few major cylinders firing, they will at least give any team a good fight as evidenced in the Wisconsin and Minnesota games this weekend. Overall though, all the regionals seem stacked with the possible exception of Albuquerque. As evidenced this weekend, there seems to be a lot of parity in college basketball right now.

Illinois seemed above that playing field until the last week or so, which has been somewhat disappointing. Watching that Ohio State game slip away, and the hopes of the perfect season disappear...that was disappointing. Work was like a funeral on Monday. We've had some really bad things happen to people that I work with lately, and rooting for Illinois had given us something to cheer about. But whether or not the one loss was a good thing...that remains to be seen. At the very least, it seems to have sent Dee Brown's play into a funk that we hope he can break out of against Farleigh Dickinson on Thursday.

The story of Bruce Weber's mom sudden passing over the weekend...that was quite a heartbreaker as well. You just looked at the faces of the players and knew how much they felt for Weber, how much they wanted to make his life easier and honor his mother with a Big Ten tournament win. That made the frustration on Dee Brown's face even more evident, even more palpable every time he missed a shot. The rest of the team got it done though. Luther Head came up huge, Deron played a solid game even if his shooting was not stellar. Roger Powell Jr. was going after every ball and making some great shots, and Augustine played like a beast and was rewarded with the tournament MVP award. The weekend wasn't inspiring ball, not everything was clicking. There was a feeling though that with a few slight adjustments, it could. It could be an inspiring story and a great trip through the tournament. All the ingredients of a truly inspiring story are here -- they just need to be mixed well and to heat up at the right moment. Here's to hoping that can happen this week.

Some other great coverage
Administrative notes

Things are starting to settle down a bit, and the family laptop is finally equipped with a functional wireless connection. Therefore, I hope that regular posting will resume in the next week or so. There may be a hiatus as I make the groupie trek to Indy Thurs-Sun this week, but after that I'm jumping back into the deep end. Thanks for stopping by and check back soon.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Brief notes...

1. Want a true glimpse of Central Illinois local color? This weekend, TLC's What Not to Wear would like to introduce you to Ed, a 37 year old who works at a "large company outside Chicago". A good two to three hours outside but that's just details to Clinton, Stacy, and pretty much anyone from outside the Midwest. Anyways, here are airtimes for anyone who is interested.

2. Go Illini! I can't let a day go by without that. This area hasn't had a sports team to be proud of in so long, and I can't get enough of it. The team seems to be jelling at the right time -- keep your fingers crossed for no injuries and some luck!

3. Hiatus is going well so far. Got through an exam, did some more unpacking, having open houses for the old place, putting in the overtime so work isn't crazy. Once the stress level gets dialed down a bit, I hope to be back to posting a few times a week at least. In the meantime, there are great sites to peruse in the blogroll at right. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

First True Hiatus

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Well perhaps not that much...because I don't really have much time for it. Basically in the past few weeks, I have had to take stock of my priorities...because time is in such short supply for me that I can hardly keep my eyes open. Here's what's important to me right now, in no particular order

  • Work: Extremely busy and extremely frustrating lately. I could put in 50 hour weeks for the next 2 months, but life is not leaving me the time.
  • Time with my husband and family: Always seems to be in short supply, need more of it
  • Faith-related activities: Still has dedicated time (Sunday school, Disciples) but I am shortchanging my personal devotions
  • MBA classes and homework: Keeping up with the reading and assignments, but that's about it
  • Getting the house fixed up: We have a basement full of boxes that says it isn't going well. Our living room got curtains last night though, hooray!
  • Selling the old condo: We have spent a ton of time on fixer-upper activities but not enough time marketing this baby. Meanwhile two mortgages loom.
  • Watching Illini basketball: This is a once-in-my-young-lifetime kind of season, and one of the few things that gives me pure, unadulterated joy in my life right now. I can't stay away from it.
  • Staying in contact with my friends: Not doing very well at this lately

Where does blogging fall? Unfortunately, right now it's after everything on this list. I really do enjoy my blog, but I am a perfectionist. I hate making posts that I don't consider high-quality, and I am too tired to produce that kind of material right now. I don't have time to fully understand all the ramifications of recent developments in the Middle East or the new Social Security proposals, and those are some of the few political topics I have an interest in at the moment.

Hence, my first true announced blogging hiatus. While I don't want to close up shop here at Illinigirl, I cannot commit to posting regularly at this point in time. I've tried to keep up some semblance of regularity since November or so, but it's not working. At least for the next couple months, I will only be posting when I feel inspired. (Hopefully about Illinois's long run into the NCAA tournament if there is any justice in this world). I will keep reading my usual blogs and possibly commenting, and I look forward to rejoining the blogging community in an official fashion sometime soon.

(I am hoping for this to be a relatively short hiatus though, so I'd appreciate anyone who has pity on a busy girl and doesn't remove any links to my lazy blog quite yet. For what it's worth!)

Before I run out of here for awhile, I wanted to send out congratulations to Kevin Holtsberry on the arrival of his adorable daughter Ella Hope, and to Jeff Utech on his impending bundle of joy. And of course, my thoughts are with my old buddy Iowa Wine Guy whose bouncing baby boy is due in a few short weeks.

Hooray for babies! We love babies! (Perhaps a bit too much for a 27 year old who is not planning on having her own for approximately three more years, but that is another story for another day. Let's just say I would advise young ladies to get their masters degrees out of the way earlier before the maternal instinct kicks in.)

Monday, February 07, 2005

That's entertainment

This is how busy our household is lately: we DVRed the Superbowl. DVR is our new toy. We pay five dollars extra to the cable company each month, and we never have to wonder where our shows are again. Of course, the little 30 hour box is approximately half-full at the moment. Whenever I get around to watching the end of the Illinois-Michigan State game, that will make a dent in things.

We did watch part of the Superbowl though. Saw a couple cute ads, but which one impressed us the most? Which ad left my thoroughly non-alcoholic hubby commenting that he wanted to run out and buy some beer? The Anheuser-Busch ad honoring following our returning troops through the airport. As Michelle Malkin puts it, "simple, elegant, inspired, and inspiring".

Michelle has up some great commentary on this ad, along with a testimonial from an airline employee at Dallas Fort Worth airport who sees this happen on a regular basis. Read about it, watch it, and crack open a Bud if you so desire. Not that we buy much unless we're entertaining, but Casa Illinigirl will be voting with its wallet and purchasing Anheuser-Busch products when possible. Kudos to their marketing execs.

(Hat tip to Spoons for the Michelle Malkin link)