Monday, January 30, 2012

Some things to remember as fire, police, and teachers re-negotiate their contracts

I was debating if I should post this today, but on my way home from work, I heard Rahm Emanuel on the news stating what bad economic shape the state of Illinois is in.  He said that the state is projected to be so many billions of dollars in debt in a couple of years that he's fighting for pension reform now so as not to have our property tax doubled in a couple of years.  After hearing that, I thought there were two pieces of information I'd like to share. 

Not only is the state broke- but we've heard since last summer CPS is broke too and cannot afford to pay teachers their 4% raise...blah, blah, blah, and the list goes on.  Get a load of this real estate deal they made on the city's south side.  The Board of Ed bought a dump of a property "as is" for a mere 1.2 million dollars and now they have to pay for the clean up before a school could be built there. I high-lighted some of the most interesting details...

(To check out some interesting aldermen facts, make sure you scroll to the bottom.)

January 29, 2012
Chicago Public Schools' plan to build an elementary school on polluted property in the shadow of the Chicago Skyway and an expiring coal-fired power plant near the Indiana border is raising the ire of parents in the working-class East Side neighborhood.

CPS already has paid more than $3 million for about 2 acres near 104th Street and South Indianapolis Avenue, a triangular parcel near a heavily congested traffic corridor, train tracks and towering industrial plants.

Preliminary testing at the site, which had been home to a gas station and more recently a carwash, uncovered eight underground gasoline storage tanks, one known to be leaking, and unsafe levels of the chemical benzene in the soil. But an official with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency cautioned that the true extent of the contamination won't be known until more testing is completed.

No matter the level of pollution, records show CPS bought the property "as is", which means the district will cover all the cleanup costs before it breaks ground on school construction.

"It's a horrible site, and it would be terrible for students," said Jose Garza, chairman of the local school council at nearby Gallistel Elementary Language Academy.

Neighborhood residents have for years complained to CPS about overcrowding in their schools, particularly Gallistel, where 1,400 students — almost double the capacity — are spread among three campuses and an army of portable trailers.

But Garza and others are angry over the CPS plan for crowding relief and suspicious of the deals made to make it happen.

CPS bought an acre from a relative of Ed Vrdolyak, aka "Fast Eddie," the former Southeast Side political heavyweight and longtime alderman who had a reputation for wheeling and dealing. Vrdolyak was released from prison in November after serving 10 months for his role in a $1.5 million Gold Coast real estate scheme.

Though Vrdolyak's political career ended two decades ago, his name still resonates on the East Side, where longtime residents are quick to share stories about the former power broker and foil to former Mayor Harold Washington. So when they learned it was Vrdolyak's niece, Barbara Vrdolyak, and her husband, Gary Dorigan, a former CPS school engineer, who sold the land to CPS, they had questions.

The couple, who could not be reached for comment, bought the property in 1998 for $125,000, according to Cook County records, and built a successful carwash there. Despite the contamination, the school district paid $1.1 million for the property.

"Nothing gets done here accidentally in this ward," said Richard Martinez, a lifelong 10th Ward resident who lost a bid for alderman last year. "And nothing gets done without Ed Vrdolyak knowing about it."

Garza put it another way: "Why would anyone spend so much money to buy in an undesirable area if they didn't have to?"

However the deal was arranged, it's the children who lose out, said Patty Fisher, another longtime resident and member of Gallistel's community advisory group.

"This plan isn't good for anybody," Fisher said.

The neighborhood, like others in the region, is still recovering from the collapse of the steel industry three decades ago. Yet for all the vacant land and shuttered buildings, finding space for an elementary school is no easy task, said the ward's current alderman, John Pope.

Pope said he helped CPS choose the property and thinks it's a fine place for a school. He called the connection to the former ward boss a "nonissue."

"There's a desperate need for a new elementary school in this community," Pope said. "Are there potentially better sites in terms of a wish list? Sure. But they just aren't available there."

The deal to acquire the property was struck almost three years ago under the previous CPS Board of Education and former Mayor Richard Daley. Three independent appraisals of the site in 2009 valued the land and the carwash at $1.4 million to $1.9 million.

CPS negotiated a lower price, and ultimately condemned the property, because of the contamination and because the cleanup responsibility would fall on the district. The sale was approved by the current board in August.

Soil concerns aside, the neighborhood suffers from some of the poorest air quality in the state, thanks to a coal-fired power plant in nearby Hammond that is slated to close this year and thousands of trucks, cars and freight trains that roll through the area each day.

The new school would sit about a mile northeast of George Washington High School. In 2010, an air monitor atop that school recorded the state's highest levels of toxic chromium and sulfates, pollution that can trigger asthma attacks and heart problems. The BP Whiting refinery and the ArcelorMittal steel mill, two of the region's biggest sources of air pollution, are a couple of miles away.

In California, concerns over air quality prompted lawmakers in 2003 to prohibit districts from building schools within 500 feet of a freeway. Studies indicated the ultrafine particles kicked up by vehicles and noxious fumes were harmful to children's lungs and increased the risk of asthma and bronchitis. There is no such law in Illinois.

Erin Lavin Cabonargi, executive director of Chicago's Public Building Commission, which builds schools for CPS, called the environmental risks at the Vrdolyak property "nominal" and said the site was chosen after a careful review of the options. She said CPS was limited to searching within the attendance boundaries of Gallistel and nearby Addams Elementary, which is also over capacity.

Some residents say CPS overlooked the simplest, and perhaps, cheapest option: buying up available land next to both schools and expanding them.

"You're talking about putting children in a toxic environment or investing in the schools that are there now," said Garza, who has three children at Gallistel.

Pope said that scenario would have been more expensive and delayed development.

"Parents have the right to object and make their concerns heard, but we looked high and low for a location to make that school work," Pope said.

Original Article:,0,2321241.story

And to further show the hypocrisy of our politicians and those "in charge" check out the salaries of the aldermen.  Don't you wish you had a part-time job that paid this kind of money?

Chicago aldermanic salaries, 2008-2012
Go to the related story »
The salaries of Chicago’s aldermen rise — or even fall — with the city’s cost of living under a 2006 ordinance. But City Council members can forgo the raises and opt out of the cuts in any given year. As a result of those individual choices, aldermanic salaries now vary by as much as $11,000.
How this played out: 19 aldermen who took all the increases on the table and also decided against taking a pay cut in 2010 are being paid $114,913 this year. The three aldermen who declined all the raises have a salary of $104,101. The rest fall somewhere between.

Also of note: from 2009 to 2011, most aldermen took 40 unpaid days in solidarity with city workers forced to take unpaid days off work. The unpaid days practice has ended for aldermen and city workers alike, except for freshman 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar. He continues to take less pay to keep a campaign promise.

Besides their city salary, some aldermen have other sources of income, which they disclose in annual financial interest statements. Financial interest statements for 2008-2010 may be downloaded from the City Clerk's web site.
Source: City of Chicago
WardAlderman2008 salary2009 salary2010 salary2011 salary2012 salary2009 unpaid days2010 unpaid days2011 unpaid days
Base salary*$104,101$110,556$106,644$108,086$112,345
1Proco "Joe" Morenon/an/a$106,644$106,644$110,847n/a170
2Bob Fioretti$104,101$104,101$104,101$104,101$108,2039240
3Pat Dowell$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,91372413
4William D. "Will" Burnsn/an/an/a$108,086$108,086n/an/a3
5Leslie A. Hairston$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,91372412
6Roderick T. Sawyern/an/an/a$108,086$112,345n/an/a0
7Sandi Jackson$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,91315240
8Michelle A. Harris$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,913142410
9Anthony A. Beale$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,91315240
10John A. Pope$104,101$104,101$106,644$106,644$110,847152513
11James A. Balcer$104,101$104,101$104,101$104,101$108,203162511
12George Cardenas$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,91318120
13Marty Quinnn/an/an/a$108,086$108,086n/an/a11
14Edward M. Burke$104,101$110,556$106,644$108,086$108,086152514
15Toni L. Foulkes$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$110,55614137
16JoAnn Thompson$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,9130220
17Latasha Thomas$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$110,55616243
18Lona Lane$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,91315140
19Matthew J. O'Shean/an/an/a$108,086$108,086n/an/a2
20Willie B. Cochran$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,91313106
21Howard B. Brookins Jr.$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,9131030
22Ricardo Muñoz$104,101$110,556$106,644$108,086$112,345700
23Michael R. Zalewski$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,91315230
24Michael D. Chandlern/an/an/a$108,086$112,345n/an/a0
25Daniel "Danny" Solis$104,101$110,556$110,556$108,086$112,34517150
26Robert Maldonadon/a$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,9136190
27Walter Burnett Jr.$104,101$110,556$106,644$108,086$112,345152513
28Jason C. Ervinn/an/an/a$108,086$112,345n/an/a0
29Deborah L. Grahamn/an/a$106,644$108,086$112,345n/a10
30Ariel E. Reboyras$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,9137186
31Regner "Ray" Suarez$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,913152419
32Scott Waguespack$104,101$104,101$104,101$104,101$104,101152413
33Richard F. Mell$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$110,55621240
34Carrie M. Austin$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,91313813
35Rey Colón$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$110,55615160
36Nicholas Sposaton/an/an/a$108,086$108,086n/an/a3
37Emma M. Mitts$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,91311244
38Timothy M. Cullertonn/an/an/a$108,086$108,086n/an/a24
39Margaret Laurino$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,913152513
40Patrick J. O'Connor$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,91312414
41Mary O'Connorn/an/an/a$108,086$108,086n/an/a3
42Brendan Reilly$104,101$104,101$104,101$104,101$104,1010240
43Michele Smithn/an/an/a$108,086$108,086n/an/a3
44Thomas M. Tunney$104,101$104,101$104,101$104,101$104,10192313
45John Arenan/an/an/a$108,086$108,086n/an/a2
46James Capplemann/an/an/a$108,086$112,345n/an/a0
47Ameya Pawarn/an/an/a$108,086$108,086n/an/a55
48Harry Ostermann/an/an/a$108,086$108,086n/an/a8
49Joe Moore$104,101$110,556$110,556$110,556$114,913152512
50Debra L. Silversteinn/an/an/a$108,086$112,345n/an/a3

Original Source:

We need to all remember this as the city cries poor-mouth during contract talks and continues to spew how it's the fault of all the unions for running this city into the ground!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Coming soon to a CPS school near you!

Contract! What contract?

As we learn about the "paid protesters" that were taken on a field trip to support the proposed school closings, and the mayor continues to chip away at the unions day after day, here is just some of what is in store for CPS teachers next year as proposed by the Board of Education...

  • 110 minutes longer for the teacher each school day
  • 10 more days added to the school calendar
  • Less time to prepare for classes, grade papers, do lesson plans, etc. (even though teachers will be on the premises longer)
  • Mandatory Recess
  • Mandatory Breakfast and Lunch remain
  • Added medical training in the following areas:
    • AED (automated external defibrillators) - already in many schools
    • Allergies and the use of Epi-pens
    • Type I and Type II Diabetes
    • Asthma and its specified triggers which will "sensitize teachers to possible problems"
    • ADHD  - best practices regarding both identification and treatment
    • Colonoscopies for all males prior to graduation (okay just kidding on this one)
I guess they figure with all the extra time teachers will be spending in school, they could put out their doctor's shingle too.  They could call is CPScare

After doing some research, I found a video that will cure ADHD in minutes.  Check it out. :)

Seriously, with all the money that will be spent on training the teachers and staff and the possible lawsuits if something should go awry,  wouldn't it be more feasible to have a School Nurse in the schools each day to attend to such matters.  After all, that is what they were actually trained to do (and not just in an in-service or two).

As far as time in school, my husband suggests the teachers work in three shifts of 24 hours on and 48 hours off (sound familiar?).  This way there could be 'round the clock care.

Original news sources:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A winter vacation...even if it's only in my mind!

As I watched the snow falling all day Friday, I was reminded of my childhood when my grandparents took us on vacation in January of 1980.  Though it was over 30 years ago, it seems like yesterday.  This is what good memories are made of...

Here is a short excerpt from by book My Hero, My Ding which describes some of the beautiful fun we had! 

Montego Bay, Jamaica

"My most memorable and favorite trip with my grandparents was our trip to Jamaica. We visited cities like Montego Bay, Runaway Bay, Ocho Rios, and the capital, Kingston. This was the very first time I had ever been out of the country. The year was 1980 and I was in 6th grade.  Leaving the United States was a big thrill, but it didn't compare to the thrills that awaited me when we got to this picturesque island.

As we gathered our luggage at the Kingston airport, we were met by our driver, a lovely man (as we would come to know him) named Wallace. He helped put our things in a cargo-style passenger van and once we were all safely inside he drove along the sinuous, narrow roads as if he was a NASCAR finalist. The sweat that formed on our foreheads right then was not from the heat but from the audacious moves he was making especially when approached by oncoming traffic. It started to rain and soon there were puddles along the road. Our windows were down as an oncoming car careened around a corner while plowing through a puddle. What goes up must come down; so much of the water that was splashed into the air came cascading down on our van and subsequently in our windows. It was somewhat amusing as the water splashed in dousing the family members who sat on the driver’s side of the van. (Amusing to me, because I was on the opposite side of the van.) The most unexpected part was later on that day when we were stopped somewhere along the road, Wallace started speaking to a man in a car who turned out to be the man that had splashed us.  He kindly apologized for being so thoughtless while driving.

We were in Jamaica for two weeks and during that first week my grandparents rented a villa, and during the second week they had rented a house–both of which were unique and amazing to me. Until this time, I had no idea what a villa was, but as Wallace pulled his van up to our first week’s lodging I soon found out. I found myself staring at a huge fenced in yard, but this yard was unique in that it was actually the front yard. Entering the spacious courtyard was quite impressive with its in-ground pool and two-story house. Glass patio doors encompassed the first floor of the house. Once inside we saw the large living room area and eating area. There was also a kitchen on the first floor, but since we had two maids we only saw the inside of the kitchen after dinner hours when someone wanted a snack. The rest of the time we were waited on hand and foot. The upstairs was reached by an outdoor staircase and it was here where all of our bedrooms were located. Each room was spacious and had all the necessities of home and some nonessentials, like gorgeous flowers, for aesthetic purposes. While I thought this was grand, I couldn’t get over what I saw when I looked out the back patio doors to the "back yard." It was the ocean. I was astounded! Their backyard was actually the ocean!! There was a small patio where we could sit and an outdoor shower to rinse oneself off before returning indoors, but the majority of the backyard view was warm white sand and inviting azure-colored water. Wow!! So this was a villa!

We did lots of sight-seeing, but we also took advantage of our villa. The two maids that worked there were sisters named Merle and Hortenz

The villa was like its own little paradise. We swam in the pool and quickly changed our minds and went to the ocean. We could lie out in the sun, play games in the sand, buy souvenirs from the natives, or even take a ride on a donkey. I remember playing Tic-Tac-Toe on the beach with Grandpa, buying trinkets, and playing in the water. Being the water lover that I am I was in awe at the size and power of the ocean. One afternoon I thought I would "strut my stuff" and show off a bit of my pool prowess. I got my parents’ and grandparents’ attention and then I stood strong (so I thought) in the ocean facing the adults on the sand waiting for this huge wave to hit me.  And hit me it did! I can still taste the salt-water in my mouth and feel the burning in my eyes as the wave knocked me right over. The initial strike of the water shocked me and momentarily I was afraid I would not be able to regain my balance and pop back up from the bottom. Luckily, I wasn’t in deep water, but while I was underneath I felt like a cat entangled in a ball of yarn. Once I regained my footing and freed myself, I jumped up swiftly and with a quick "Ta da," smiled through stinging eyes, and quickly got out of the water."

Excerpt from My Hero, My Ding
Copyright 2010 the smell of salt water on a sandy beach would be welcome right now!

(If you enjoyed what you read here, you'll love the book!  You can click on the side panel to order or
for more information visit my website )

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Anonymous? Yeah...right!

The meanings of words these days certainly seem to have a "sliding scale".   The CTU (Chicago Teachers Union) just commissioned a survey through the University of Illinois to get a better understanding of what comprises a teacher's workload throughout the year.  Stated very clearly at the beginning is that this survey is ANONYMOUS.  My first mistake was thinking I understood what anonymous means. I now looked it up to double-check and I was right... lacking individuality, unique character, or distinction.  (Obviously, the union has a different definition.)

So, I spent 30 minutes trying to carefully answer questions accurately only to get to the last page and see statements that REQUIRE (this word they know the meaning of) you to complete the following information or your survey cannot be submitted. 

  • Area you teach...elementary, middle, high school, etc.
  • Grade and/or subject that you teach
  • Name of your school (FULL name please)
  • How many years you've been teaching at CPS
  • Type in the four-digit year of your birth (but if you don't want to answer that one you could put in XXXX) Aren't they thoughtful?
  • Gender
  • Race/Ethnicity
Now I've played 20 questions when I was a kid, how long do you think it would take for someone to figure this out.

Who am I?

I have no problem with stating who I am, but don't falsely advertise or promote anonymity when obviously that's not the case. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Facts every Chicagoan MUST know!

There are four seasons here in Chicago: tax season, the season of corruption, construction season, and yes WINTER.  Luckily winter only lasts a couple of months while the other seasons seem to overlap and continue year round.

YES, it is winter in Chicago.  I enjoyed every "fall-like" day we had since winter officially started and I  would have loved to see a snowless winter after last year's snow folly fun, BUT we live in Chicago and I have better chance of winning the lottery than we have of not getting any snow all season long.

AFTER watching the weather reports last night my husband and I knew when we turned in that we would be shoveling in the morning.

BUT when we got up and turned on the news I thought for sure we went to sleep in Chicago and woke up in Alaska...
Cordova, Alaska

We looked outside and realization hit me... It must be a slow news morning!

After listening to the facts:

  •  It really did snow
  •  The ground is covered
  •  You'll have to brush off your car if you don't have a garage

We did the only thing left to do...shovel.

UPON coming indoors again the news shifted their focus (with the big snow scare over), it was on to scare number two...IT'S COLD OUTSIDE!  Wow! I am glad someone told me.  The 6 inches of white, fluffy precipitation didn't clue me in to that.  Twenty degree weather may seem cold after enjoying 40's and 50's for the past month, but it is JANUARY in CHICAGO. 

Everyone who lives in Chicago for more than 20 minutes knows there will be snow, so why the rush to the hardware stores yesterday to go out and buy shovels?

Let's sum up the important facts:

  • Winter happens EVERY year in Chicago.
  • It snows.
  • Buy a shovel.
  • It's cold.
  • Buy a winter coat.
  • Stick around long enough and winter will end. (Too bad we can't say the same about the tax, construction, and corruption seasons.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Need a Laugh? Check out Dave Barry's "Year in Review"

I am a voracious reader and the types of books/articles I read vary from serious to comical.  Today, after returning to work from my wonderful Christmas vacation, I felt the need for a little humor.  With 2012  just beginning, and the memories of 2011 still fresh in my mind... Dave Barry, humor columnist, hit the spot with his 2011 Year in Review.  I hope you enjoy his column as much as I did. 

Dave Barry’s 2011 Year in Review
By Dave Barry      

Battle of the bulge, a tangled web and economic disaster far and wide

            It was the kind of year that made a person look back fondly on the Gulf oil spill.
Granted, the oil spill was bad. But it did not result in a high-decibel, weeks-long national conversation about a bulge in a congressman’s underpants. Which is exactly what we had in the Festival of Sleaze that was 2011. Remember? There were days when you could not escape The Bulge. At dinnertime, parents of young children had to be constantly ready to hurl themselves in front of their TV screens, for fear that it would suddenly appear on the news in high definition. For a brief (Har!) period, The Bulge was more famous than Justin Bieber.

And when, at last, we were done with The Bulge, and we were able to turn our attention to the presidential election, and the important issues facing us, as a nation, in these troubled times, it turned out that the main issue, to judge by quantity of press coverage, was: groping.     

      So finally, repelled by the drainage ditch that our political system has become, we turned for escape to an institution that represents all that is pure and wholesome and decent in America today: college football.

That was when we started to have fond memories of the oil spill.

I’m not saying that the entire year was ruined by sleaze. It was also ruined by other bad things. This was a year in which journalism was pretty much completely replaced by tweeting. It was a year in which a significant earthquake struck Washington, D.C., yet failed to destroy a single federal agency. It was a year in which the nation was subjected to a seemingly endless barrage of highly publicized pronouncements from Charlie Sheen, a man who, where you have a central nervous system, has a Magic 8-Ball.

This was a year in which the cast members of  Jersey Shore went to Italy and then — in an inexcusable lapse of border security — were allowed to return.

But all of these developments, unfortunate as they were, would not by themselves have made 2011 truly awful. What made it truly awful was the economy, which, for what felt like the 17th straight year, continued to stagger around like a zombie on crack. Nothing seemed to help. President Obama, whose instinctive reaction to pretty much everything that happens, including sunrise, is to deliver a nationally televised address, delivered numerous nationally televised addresses on the economy, but somehow these did not do the trick. Neither did the approximately 37 million words emitted by the approximately 249 Republican-presidential-contender televised debates, out of which the single most memorable statement made was, quote: “Oops.”

As the year wore on, frustration finally boiled over in the form of the Occupy Various Random Spaces movement, wherein people who were sick and tired of a lot of stuff finally got off their butts and started working for meaningful change via direct action in the form of sitting around and forming multiple committees and drumming and not directly issuing any specific demands but definitely having a lot of strongly held views for and against a wide variety of things. Incredibly, even this did not bring about meaningful change. The economy remained wretched, especially unemployment, which got so bad that many Americans gave up even trying to work. Congress, for example.
Were there ANY positive developments in 2011? Yes:
•  Osama bin Laden, Moammar Gadhafi, and the New York Yankees all suffered major setbacks.
•  Kim Kardashian finally found her lifetime soulmate for nearly two and a half months.
•  Despite a prophecy by revered Christian radio lunatic Harold Camping, the world did not end on May 21.

Come to think of it, that last development wasn’t totally positive, not when we consider all the other things that happened in 2011. In case you’ve blotted it out, let’s take one last look back, through squinted eyelids, at this train-wreck of a year, starting with …

… which sees a change of power in the House of Representatives, as outgoing Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi hands the gavel over to Republican John Boehner, who, in the new spirit of Washington bipartisanship, has it checked for explosives.
In the State of the Union address, President Obama calls on Congress to improve the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. He is interrupted 79 times by applause, and four times by falling chunks of the Capitol ceiling. In other Washington action, Chinese President Hu Jintao is honored at a White House dinner for 225 luminaries, who dine on prime rib accompanied by 17,000 little plastic packets of soy sauce. As the official state gift from the United States, President Obama presents Hu with a six-pack of Bud Light, this being the only American product the White House staff can find that is not manufactured in China.
The month’s biggest story is a tragedy in Tucson, where a man opens fire on a meet-and-greet being held by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The accused shooter turns out to be a mentally unstable loner with a history of drug use; there is no evidence that his actions had anything to do with uncivil political rhetoric. So naturally the blame for the tragedy is immediately placed on: uncivil political rhetoric. This results in a nationwide spasm of civil political rhetoric lasting about two hours, after which everybody returns to uncivil political rhetoric, which has been the norm in the United States for two centuries.
In Egypt, demonstrators take to the streets to protest the three-decade regime of President Hosni Mubarak following revelations that “Hosni Mubarak” can be rearranged to spell “A Bum Honks Air.” The movement continues to grow in …

… when “Arab Spring” anti-government protest demonstrations spread from Egypt to Yemen, then to Iraq, then to Libya, and finally — in a development long feared by the U.S. government — to the volatile streets of Madison, Wisc., where thousands of protesters occupy the state capitol to dramatize the fact that it’s warmer in there than outside. As the protests escalate, 14 Democratic Wisconsin state legislators flee to Illinois, where they barricade themselves in a hotel and, after a heated four-hour debate, decide, by a 7-4 vote with three abstentions, to order room service.
In other national news, a massive snowstorm paralyzes the Midwest, forcing a shutdown of Chicago’s O’Hare airport after more than a dozen planes are attacked by yetis. President Obama responds with a nationally televised speech pointing out that the storm was caused by a weather system inherited from a previous administration.
In Europe, the economic crisis continues to worsen, especially in Greece, which has been operating under a financial model in which the government spends approximately $150 billion a year while taking in revenues totaling $336.50 from the lone Greek taxpayer, an Athens businessman who plans to retire in April. Greece has been making up the shortfall by charging everything to a MasterCard account that the Greek government applied for — in what some critics consider a questionable financial practice — using the name “Germany.”
In a historic episode of the TV quiz show  Jeopardy!, two human champions are swiftly dispatched by an IBM supercomputer named Watson, which combines an encyclopedic knowledge of a wide range of subjects with the ability to launch a 60,000-volt surge of electricity 25 feet.
On Broadway, the troubled musical  Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark suffers a setback when three actors and 11 audience members are injured in what the producers describe as a “a catastrophic Spandex failure.”
In sports, two storied NFL franchises, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, meet in Super Bowl XLV, a tense, back-and-forth battle won at the last minute, in a true shocker, by Watson the IBM supercomputer.
Speaking of shocking, in …

… the European economic crisis worsens still further as Moody’s downgrades its credit rating for Spain following the discovery that the Spanish government, having run completely out of money, secretly sold the Pyrenees to China and is now separated from France only by traffic cones. In domestic news, the renegade Wisconsin Democratic state legislators are finally captured in a late-night raid by the elite Wisconsin State Parliamentarian SWAT team, which knocks down the legislators’ hotel-room door using a 200-pound, steel-reinforced edition of  Robert’s Rules of Order. The SWAT team then subdues the legislators using what one source describes as “a series of extremely aggressive cloture votes.”
On the national political front, Newt Gingrich, responding to a groundswell of encouragement from the voices in his head, reveals that he is considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination. He quickly gains the support of the voter who had been leaning toward Ross Perot.
In tech news, Apple, with much fanfare, unveils the latest model of its hugely popular iPad tablet computer. The new model, called the iPad 2, is similar to the original iPad but — in yet another example of the brilliant customer-pleasing innovation that Apple has become famous for — has a “2” after it. Apple enthusiasts line up by the thousands to buy the new model, even as excitement builds for the next iPad, which, according to rumors swirling around an excited Apple-fan community, will feature a “3.”
The troubled musical  Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark suffers yet another setback when four orchestra musicians are killed by what producers describe as a “freak clarinet accident.” Responding to the tragedy, President Obama delivers a nationally televised address, expressing his personal sympathy and noting that Republicans in Congress have repeatedly blocked the administration’s proposed $37 billion Federal Department of Woodwind Safety, which would create literally dozens of jobs.
In sports, National Football League owners lock out the players after negotiations break down over the issue of — in the words of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — “locker rooms being littered with reeking jockstraps the size of hammocks.”
Speaking of negotiations, in …

To read the rest of Dave Barry's Year in Review click link:

Remember, in truth there is humor.
Hope this makes your work week a little easier!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, launched a new website today "empowering Chicagoans" to be prepared for winter and to help their neighbors.  He even has a link where people can share their resources like a shovel or snow blower. If you live in Chicago and don't even own a shovel are you really planning to shovel your snow let alone volunteer to shovel someone else's?    

If you are lucky enough to still live in a part of Chicago where your block is made up of decent people who look out for each other (and these areas are becoming harder to find), you don't need the government telling you how to act like a neighbor.  During last year's snow storm it was our neighbors and us that did the shoveling and snow blowing for 3 days helping each other moving cars around to clean the streets and alleys .  We didn't let our elderly neighbors shovel, and we didn't wait for the government to tell us that was the proper thing to do. 

It is a real sign of the times when people can't even act neighborly because of how they live, where they live, or how they were trained from an early age to be dependent on others.  

I am thankful that I was brought up with a strong work ethic.  One of the best lessons I learned from my grandfather was that no job is above or beneath me. It has served me well thus far!

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