1.31.2007

Unit 4 foreign language instruction survey

Leeanthro, a frequent commenter on this blog, sent me a link to a survey Unit 4 is doing with parents and the Chamber of Commerce in Champaign. I'm not sure why it's limited to those groups, but okay.

Anyway, the survey is about foreign language instruction in the schools in Champaign. My views can be summed up with an old joke.

What do you call someone who speaks many languages?

Multilingual.

What do you call someone who speaks two languages?

Bilingual.

What do you call someone who speaks only one language?

American.

So, if you have kids in the Unit 4 schools, fill out the survey. I filled it out as well cuz I'm active in my nephew's schooling, so I would imagine if you have an interest in this, you could fill it out. It asks if you are a parent, Chamber of Commerce member, or other. I said other and specified I have a nephew in the Champaign schools.

It can't hurt to help incorporate other cultures and languages at an early age. Hablo espanol, pero solamente un poco, y no tengo mucho practica ahora. How about you?

1.28.2007

I will not sing karaoke, I will not sing karaoke, I will not....

I went out to Radmaker's this past Friday and I got Leeanthro and a few other friends who are married with kids to come out for the kid friendly happy hour from 5-7pm. It was crowded and there were *lots* of kids. And when we got there, the kids had banded into packs and were launching attacks upon each other. But once the karaoke guy started up the lights and the music, all the kids were on the dance floor dancing and a couple even sang some songs. We all ate dinner and had a few drinks.

They had jambalaya, chips, shredded beef, nacho cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and french fries on the free food buffet. I ordered a pork chop sandwich with swiss and mushrooms and got fries and jambalaya off the buffet and had a few drinks.

By about 7:45, the place started clearing out and by 9pm, there wasn't a child in the place. It was an amazing transformation. And you can still get Foudini's food on Thursday's in Tolono. See my earlier post for details, but they have quartered grilled chicken (that falls off the bone), ribs (which they sell out of quite often, so if you want those, call early), pulled pork (very yummy as well), burgers, and pork chop sandwiches that you can take home with you for dinner.

They also had Guitar Hero II going on one of the big screens for the kids to play, but I sang a karaoke song with a little girl Friday night, and I promise, I will not sing karaoke again.

Wouldn't you like to be a blogger too?

My friend, moon_grrl, has started posting again at her live journal. She has recently told me that she loves blogs. She's also been reading local and national blogs more and more and the bug has *finally* bitten her. Thank goodness---I wondered what was taking her so long....

She's got a post up where she confesses her "unholy love for Barack Obama." But my favorite recent post is her rant about the library construction on State St. I drive down State everyday---sometimes more than once---and I get quite irritated with the complete lack of planning. If you are gonna be blocking a lane with trucks and whatnot, at least *plan* for it and prevent the idiocy that I see every *week* on my way to work.

But her rants are usually quite good. So check out her blog.

Since you probably weren't watching CSPAN on Saturday....



There are over 8,000 photos on Flickr from Saturday's protest in DC.

1.18.2007

Whaddaya know....

Apparently, I'm part of a trend.

Is it just me or does it bother anyone else that they used a picture of a woman with her cat as the photo with this story in the NYT?

1.13.2007

Jim Shepherd out as Illinois announcer?

Fire Ron Guenther is reporting that Jim Shepherd will not have his contract renewed after 2007. He has been the announcer at Memorial Stadium and the Assembly Hall for as long as I can remember and apparently after the football season wraps up, he'll be gone.

I haven't seen anything else in the print or broadcast media to confirm this. I looked at fightingillini.com but didn't see anything there either.

1.10.2007

Fire in a glass

So...I got a call tonight from my old roommate who lives in Danville now. Her husband is from Iowa and they were in town to go to the Illinois game. Well, actually, they came to town to go to the game, but ended up staying at Guido's instead---where I joined them for drinks.

In the course of discussion, I discovered tomorrow was my friend's roommate. Which brought back old times....

I've known my old roomie since I was 19 and she was 18; I'll be 35 in April. She was my pledge-daughter as well. Her sister was in my sorority and by coincidence, the year my old roomie rushed, her sister was my rush group team leader. What that means is you have a group of about 5 or 6 people and all but one girl (usually the oldest) picks up a girl outside the house and brings her in to sit at a pre-determined spot in the house. After a few minutes, the team leader comes and pops in a conversation and "bumps" the team member. The bumped team member moves to the next spot and bumps and so on. You can meet 3 to 4 girls a session this way. After the session is over, everyone scrambles to the spot where they have a shoebox hidden so they can write down notes on little notecards. Great fun, let me tell ya....

Anyway, my team leader kept saying, please, don't pick up my sister---I don't want to have to "rush" my sister. And we didn't. But I ended up as her sister's pledge mom.

So, a few months later, I picked a good friend of mine to be her pledge dad. A lot of girls would pick pledge dads based on letters---kind of like picking a good corporation or neighborhood to be associated with. I didn't. I picked someone that I knew would be a cool person and they were friends all through college. In fact, when we lived together after college, we saw him on WGN being interviewed about how well the Cubbies were doing one year. We both screamed at the same time "There's Bilton!!!!"

There is a tradition that on Pledge Dad night, you do the cute-sy Pledge Dad activity---which I think was ice skating---and then we always went out to the bars. And in my pledge family, we had a tradition---every special occasion, every celebration, birthday, whatever, you had to do a shot of Wild Turkey. And not only the birthday person had to do it, the person buying it has to do a shot as well. You can't inflict pain without experiencing it yourself or it's just mean.

So, that night, at the bar, I bought three Wild Turkey shots---one for me, one for my pledge daughter, and one for my pledge husband. My pledge daughter begged for mercy. "I have to do a psych experiment tomorrow." "I'm on codeine for my dental surgery." Of course, being 19 and stupid, none of that mattered to me. She did her shots like a good little girl---and was sick as hell the next day. In fact, she was dismissed from her psych experiment because she couldn't actually perform the task....

I know, I'm an asshole....

Anyway, tonight, my old roomie's husband let it slip that tomorrow is her birthday. Immediately, the light bulb appears over my head---Wild Turkey. Waitress?

So, when my old roomie returns from the bathroom, she looks at the shots on the table and says "What the fuck is that? Is that Wild Turkey?"

My cackle ensued. "Yip."

"No. No way. NO. No way in hell." Old Roomie proceeds to tell her hubby the story of my ignorant meanness as a youth. And then she picks up the shot glass and pours half her shot into my glass until my glass is filled to the top.

"Ok. That's better. Ready?" And she picks up the shot. Great. Okay.... And we do our favorite oldie-but-goodie toast "Here's to you and here's to me and if we ever disagree...."

And we do the shots---or I do my shot-and-a-half and she does her little "sip." And my eyes water and my throat is on fire and I feel sick. Roomie's husband says "You two look like you just licked a cat's ass." I feel like it, too.

But, no, I didn't puke. And neither did she. But, boy, am I glad I still have her as a friend. Just don't tell her when my birthday is....

1.07.2007

Wanna mint?

Birth control pills are now available in a minty fresh chewable form. Just thing to freshen up after a Friday night syphilis buffet....

On a related note, John Bamenek has announced his candidacy for Champaign school board.

Perhaps this means he'll be too busy for "banter" on the AWARE listservs....

1.06.2007

If you can't win by the rules, change the rules....

I don't really have a lot of commentary to add on this because I *clearly* speaks for itself. Apparently, in the midst of the Abramoff scandal last spring, the White House and Secret Service signed an agreement that the visitor logs at the White House were off-limits to the public and FOIA requests. Now, Abramoff wasn't the first person whose visits to the White House piqued interest. You might remember the former-gay-prostitute turned right-wing-propaganda-puppet, Jeff Gannon/James Guckert, also visited the White House and many in the media wanted to know when and who he visited and whether he received a security clearance from the Secret Service. Of course, there are other instances where the logs have been investigated.
In the past, Secret Service logs have revealed the comings and goings of various White House visitors, including Monica Lewinsky and Clinton campaign donor Denise Rich, the wife of fugitive financier Marc Rich, who received a pardon in the closing hours of the Clinton administration.

The memo last spring was signed by the White House and Secret Service the day after a Washington-based group asked a federal judge to impose sanctions on the Secret Service in a dispute over White House visitor logs for Abramoff.

The chief counsel to another Washington-based group suing to get Secret Service logs calls the creation of the memo "a political maneuver couched as a legal one."

"It appears the White House is actually manufacturing evidence to further its own agenda," Anne Weismann, a Justice Department lawyer for 19 years and now chief counsel to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said Friday.

Manufacturing evidence---where have we heard that before? These guys don't learn.

Unfortunately for Bush, a conservative group, Judicial Watch, sued for access to the visitor logs in the 90s and won. I don't think that bodes well for Bush this time around, but we'll have to see what happens. At the very least, the White House can impede any access to the logs until it's decided in the courts and that will buy him some time.

And that's really the point, isn't it?

Go, Jimmy, Go!

So...my friend Jimmy (and his business partner, Juan, and "wife and life-mate," Christie, among others) just bought Radmaker's in Tolono.

If you've never been there, head south on Route 45 out of Champaign to Tolono. Turn left at the light and it's right over the railroad tracks on your left. You can't miss it.

They are going to be open Tuesday through Saturday. I don't know the hours, but I'll find out.

Me and couple friends went out there tonight to congratulate him and have a little fun. He plans on doing Friday night events for a while and a grand opening at the end of the month. Tonight (and every Friday night), he (and Juan and Christie et al.) offer free food from 5-9. That's right---free food. He had hot wings, cheese sticks, ribs, fries, tortillas with steak and chicken and all the fixings. He wants it to be family-friendly and I saw about 30 kids there tonight when I arrived at 7:30. A lot of families stopped by and had dinner with their kids and a drink or two and headed home. You can also order food off the menu. Radmaker's has oink, moo, and cluck---pork sandwiches, burgers, ribeye sandwiches, chicken, and sides.

I had snacks and drinks and then at 9, the karaoke started. Now, I'm not one for karaoke, but I had a blast. We sang a couple of songs and had fun. Unbelievably, two in our group claimed to not know the words to Paradise by the Dashboard Lights. Doesn't everyone know that song?

Jimmy et al. is doing some cleaning and changing of the structure over the next few weeks, but I'm sure it's going to be a hit. He used to own Tommy G's and he sold it a few months back---I believe it's Chief's now. He's been running Foudini's Catering in the meantime and, if you don't already know, the food is *yummy.*

So...look for the grand opening in a few weeks. Look for Foudini's to move to Radmaker's (it was at the old Sugar's coffee shop the past few months). And look for new spot to eat and have a few drinks just 5 minutes from Champaign.

Congrats, Jimmy....

1.03.2007

Better Late than Never

From AJ in DC on AMERICAblog:
I initially suspected that the execution would have little effect on the overall situation in Iraq, certainly not improving things but also not doing much to inflame people who hardly need, at this point, more motivation to hate each other. But I committed a blunder that is, for me, exceptionally rare: I assumed that somehow this, a historic and potentially inflammatory event, would be handled with even a minimal amount of decorum and professionalism by the Bush administration and the Iraqi government. Instead, the Bush administration turned over Saddam to the Iraqi government prematurely...to a band of thugs-as-executioners...who wore not uniforms but leather jackets and ski masks...who shouted Shia chants, including invocations of Moqtada al-Sadr...all of which was illicitly videotaped and then emailed around Iraq and throughout the world...on, no less, one of the holiest days of the Sunni religious calendar.
They weren't chanting "Iraq!" They weren't chanting "Freedom!" They weren't even chanting "Allah!" They were chanting "Muqtada al-Sadr!" (I'm not going to link to the snuff film---google is your friend.)

And just in time for the 3000th American soldier to die in Iraq.

Let's hope 2007 is a better year....