Saturday, September 29, 2007

Some Things Never Change (aka The Cubs Suck It)

This afternoon, we took advantage of the lovely weather and walked to a nearby park. My intention was to swing on the swings but all the swings were taken when we arrived. Oddly, they were not taken by children. They were full of junior high school kids. I could tell they were junior high school kids because the girls were all about a foot taller than the boys. The girls were also clearly more developed than the boys. It reminded me of that difficult time of growing up.

Since we couldn't use the swings, we sat down at a nearby picnic table. As I sat there watching these young teenagers, I was transported back to my own difficult junior high school years. I watched the interaction between these kids - the girls in their layered tank tops and short-shorts, texting each other on their cell phones. As the boys teased them, the girls pretended to be annoyed while putting on more and more lip gloss. The girls were outrageously flirting with the boys, although the boys had no idea what to do in response. The boys were still in their grade school forms - either still carrying their babyfat, or painfully thin and gangly. As they yelled to each other across the swings, their voices cracked and squeaked. The boys were all riding dirt bikes; the girls were all carrying new purses.

I smiled at the interations but realized how glad I was not to be living my junior high years. Those years were so painful and uncertain. Things are much more settled now. I know what I am going to be when I grow up. I've already decided what college to go to. I know who my friends are and know they aren't likely to stop speaking to me because I smiled at the wrong guy in math class. I know where I am going to live for the next 10 years and I like it. Life is so much better as an adult. Thank god those junior high days are behind me.

Just as I was in my little reverie, another boy rode up on his bicycle and exclaimed, "Hey! The Cubs are in the playoffs!! YEAH!" A couple of the other boys cheered as well. The girls smacked their gum and rolled their eyes. However, one boy (wearing a Cardinals T-Shirt) said, "Yeah, whatever. The Cubs are gonna lose. They always do." The first boy said, "Oh, yeah? The Cardinals SUCK!" He began taunting the Cardinal boy by saying, "Cardinals suck. Cardinals suck." I half expected him to add "na na na boo boo" at the end. The Cardinal boy responded, "OH YEAH. SUCK IT! THE CUBS SUCK IT! THE CUBS SUCK IT!!!!"

As I was walking away, I thought to myself - maybe things aren't so different when you get older. I bet at the exact same moment, there was a 35 year old guy sitting in a bar saying, "Cardinals suck." And another 35 year old guy responding, "Oh yeah? The Cubs SUCK IT!" Some things never change.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

But, Your Honor . . . It Was My Destiny

The first sentence of a recent appellate court order:

Juliane Bang ran a prostitution business under the guise of a massage spa.

United States v. Bang, No. 06-3060, (7th Cir. Sept. 24, 2007). Well, with a name like that, what would you expect? She was predestined to do something, you know . . . a little off color.

Apparently, Ms. Bang purchased the Osaka Spa in Rockford, Illinois in October of 2004 and claimed she didn't know it was a front for prostitution. She thought it was a legitimate massage therapy business. Umm . . . did she purchase it without seeing the place? I have been in many legitimate massage therapy businesses and, although I have only seen prostitution businesses on TV, I am pretty sure it would be hard to mistake the two.

Needless to say, the Court affirmed her 18 month sentence for conspiring to use interstate facilities to aid a racketeering enterprise and conspiring to commit money laundering. Let that be a lesson to you all. Never purchase a massage therapy business sight unseen. You know . . . look under the hood, kick the tires, that sort of thing. It's just good business.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Big Time

Of all the national news sources I thought would link to my blog, the Wall Street Journal Online was probably the last on my list. Well, actually, since I never thought a national news source would link to my blog, there was no list. But, if there had been a list, the Wall Street Journal Online would have been on the bottom. Or close to the bottom - there are probably a few conservative magazines that would have been lower.

But, believe it or not, it has happened. The Wall Street Journal linked to my post about my week at home with my sick child at the end of this article. Unfortunately, the article is entitled, "When Home Isn't Safe for Infants," which wasn't really what my post was about. I mean, I was going a little crazy, but my home was still safe for my child. I certainly hope it was merely an electronic key word search that caused the link, not some commentary about working mothers being unsafe at home with their infants.

To find the link, go to the article, go down to the bottom of the page where it says, "Blog Posts About this Topic." There I am, right before a book review called, "Mothering: A Spiritual and Practical Approach." Now you know it was just a fluke!

Of course, my fame is limited to the two people who have actually linked to my blog from the article. And one of them was a friend I told about the link. I don't think this should count as my 15 minutes of fame.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My Mother's Daughter

My mother once told me that the time she spent as a stay at home mother after my younger brother was born was "the worst six months of her life." I was four and a half and my brother was a sickly newborn. She lost her job because she was pregnant and didn't have immediate prospects for another one. In addition, my brother was an extremely difficult baby, making finding child care extra difficult. We were actually "fired" by two babysitters because they couldn't handle my brother.

I don't remember those six months at all, but my mother does. She went a little crazy - she tried to perfect her from-scratch biscuit recipe and tried to make as many ladyfingers and Charlotte Russes as possible. Needless to say, the baby fat didn't come off very quickly. She said she dealt with the residual frustration of losing her adulthood by attacking my dad when he came home from work with every minuscule problem of the day. Sometimes she even invented problems. She soon got another job, my brother grew out of the colic phase and life returned to normal. She was never a stay at home mother again.

When she told me this story, she emphasized that she didn't think it made her a bad mother - it just made her a different kind of mother. Some mothers are happy being stay at home mothers, some aren't. She believed she was a better mother because she worked and had her own identity. She also believed she was setting a good example for her children, which she was.

I've never given much thought to being a stay at home mother. Because I am the only income in the family, I really don't have the choice of staying at home. However, in the last week, I came to realize that I am my mother's daughter - I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom.

My son has been very sick for the last week or so, necessitating me taking nearly a week of sick time from work. Something funny happened to my brain in the last week - I went a little crazy. It could have been the sleepless nights rocking a feverish baby. It could have been forgetting to shower or brush my teeth until 2 pm every day. It could have been all of the bad daytime television. However, I think it was more likely the lack of adult conversation and contact. I felt lost - I felt as if the "me-ness" had been sucked away and all that was left was this mommy thing. This mommy thing that was good for soothing rocking, rubbing, consoling, wiping, and feeding. This mommy thing that served as a teething ring, dishcloth, washcloth, diaper, floor mop, and pillow. This mommy thing that was a cook, nurse, maid, and playmate but definitely not an adult woman.

Do I regret spending a week at home with my child? No. He needed me and our bond is stronger than ever. He said "Mama" for the first time this week. I would never give that up. However, he was very happy to return to day care this morning and I am very happy to be back at work.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pirate Names

According to the link on Knight in Dragonland's website (which I can't get to link here for some reason), my pirate name is Catherine Hagerty the Salty! I loved it so much, I thought I would get the names for the whole family. I have no idea how this works, but as you can see from my sister-in-law's name, it may be pretty accurate.

Me: Catherine Hagerty the Salty

My son: Swashbuckler Tom (perfect for a 25 pound nine month old!)

The dog: First Mate Maria Lindsey the Scurvy Toe (I'm going to go check her toes, yuck!)

The cat: Admiral Joseph the Thieving (I KNEW I should have called him Admiral Joseph)

My mom: Anne the Drunken (also very appropriate at times)

My dad: Scribe Horny Heart (yikes - I have no comment)

My brother: Joseph Fierce Wench (Wait, is that Joseph-Married-to-a- . . . oh, wait, no)

My sister-in-law: Jane Red Tongue (umm . . . no kidding)

My nephew: Jones the Burly (OK - not as good, since he is a 28 pound two year old)

My best friend: Commodore Bess the Bitch (that should have been mine, but it fits her too)

Arrrrrr! Have fun on Talk Like a Pirate Day!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Emotionally Needy Toys

In the last five years or so, toy manufacturers have invented a new type of toy - the toy that won't be left behind. Everyone with small children has experienced these toys. They are the toys that "call out" to a child after the child has walked away from the toy in order to encourage the child to continue playing with the toy. In my house, these toys are called Emotionally Needy Toys.

Emotionally Needy Toys have three things in common: (1) they play music, sing songs, and light up; (2) they make noise when they have not been played with for 30 seconds; and (3) they make noise based on movement (such as when I walk by them and move the floor slightly). I am sure the toy manufacturers have installed these characteristics to be most appealing to children and least appealing to adults. Of course, the adults feel guilty about taking toys away from their children, especially when they are their favorite toys.

These toys are not happy just to be played with for a few minutes and then left behind. They feel they must be played with all the time, to the exclusion of all other toys. They get jealous in the toy box. They beat up on the just plain wooden toys (you know, the ones that spark a child's imagination, not just their love of loud noises and bright lights.) We had three of these toys in my house but I had to exterminate one of them. It was just too needy.

Meet the neediest Emotionally Needy Toy:Looks perfectly cute and harmless, doesn't he? But this cute little puppy, Fisher Price's Laugh and Learn Learning Puppy, has serious issues. If you don't touch him for a few seconds, he lets out this sad plea, "HUG ME!" Frankly, I'm embarrassed for him. I keep waiting for him to say, "Love me, please, someone . . . LOVE ME! Come on . . . I'm deserving of love too . . . please?" He's like that geeky guy you just couldn't get rid of in high school. He'd ask you to every dance no matter how many times you turned him down.

While I would have liked to get rid of this toy by chopping its head off and stomping on the computer chip, I thought it was a waste of money. So I donated him to charity. Maybe someone else has more patience for Emotional Neediness than I do. We kept two of our Emotionally Needy Toys, mostly because they are my son's favorite toys at the moment - a musical bongo drum and a jazzy keyboard. These toys aren't nearly as needy (the drum calls out, "Let's go, baby!" and the keyboard says, "Rock with me!") and they allow me a few minutes every morning to blow dry my hair in peace. Call it a compromise.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Imagine This

It's 7 am on Saturday morning. The air outside is finally chilly so my windows are open, letting in a cool breeze. I snuggle further into the lightweight down comforter. For the first time in a very long time, the dog is sleeping in and the baby is sleeping in. Heaven. Silence.


My neighbor decides this would be a good morning to use his industrial-grade chain saw to cut down a few trees and (from the sound of it) metal items as well.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Review of Jill's on Galena

My family and I ate at the kitchen table at Jill's on Galena a couple of weeks ago. It was a celebration for my birthday. I had never been to Jill's but my family enjoys high-end eating and especially chef's tables. Here is my review of the experience:

Ambiance: I had no idea how large Jill's really was and the kitchen reflects the restaurant's size. Clearly, this is a kitchen set up for large banquet preparations. The chef's table was very nicely situated to see Jill and another chef to work on our meals. However, the remainder of the kitchen was not visible from the table. This took part of the fun out of the chef's table because we couldn't see everything that was going on. In addition, Jill's kitchen was considerably calmer than other professional kitchens I have seen. I suppose this is good, but it was not terribly entertaining.

The staff were all very professional and curteous. The service was very good, despite the fact that my brother rudely bossed everyone around regarding the wine. In explanation, I would like to say that he is a chef and the owner of a boutique wine shop (in another state). At Jill's, he asked to see at least eight different bottles of wine that he didn't purchase - he just wanted to look at the bottles. I apologize to any staff who thought he was irritating. I thought he was irritating, but I'm used to it. He eventually settled on four bottles of wine and one bottle of champagne, which were all wonderful. Of course, five bottles for four drinkers (one designated driver, i.e., my pregnant sister-in-law), was a little excessive.

Food: (The words in bold are the chef's descriptions of the course.)

First course - billed as an amuse bouche, it was Crab Salad, Orange Slice, Pistachio Dusting, Balsamic Vinegar Reduction. Although this tasted fairly good, it was not an amuse bouche, technically. An amuse is intended to be one bite of something to "wet" your appetite. This was at least four bites. I would have skipped the title and just called it first course, which it really was. The flavor of the crab meat was good but the orange slice was a mistake. It was too big to put the whole thing in your mouth but very difficult to cut with a knife. It was also a regular orange that had gone a little mealy. My suggestion - use a section of a mandarin orange (fresh, not canned), blood orange, or tangelo. This would achieve the balance of acid and sweet in the dish without the awkward toughness of the orange sections.

Second course - Pistachio Crusted Scallop, Bruschetta on Olive Baguette, Lemon-Parmesan Sauce. The scallop was wonderful - cooked to absolute perfection with a slightly caramelized crust. It was one of the best scallops I have ever had. I liked the pistachio crust, but was slightly put off by the fact that two dishes in a row had pistachios. I wondered whether every dish would have pistachios - if this was a "theme" restaurant. The bruschetta was OK, but I did not like the fact it was made from the same bread as was placed on the table as part of the bread basket. I thought the bruschetta was most likely made from stale table bread.

Third course - Pan-Seared Foie Gras, Strawberry Mousse, White Chocolate. It is because of this course (and the next one) that I will return to Jill's frequently. This is the most inspired combination of sweet and savory I have ever tasted. The foie gras was perfection and left simple on the plate to stand on its own, which foie gras is entirely able to do. It's richness was paired with a chunk of pure white chocolate (and I mean a CHUNK) and the heaviest strawberry mousse I have ever tasted. The mousse had the consistency of cold brie but the flavor combination was outstanding. I made a little "napoleon" of fois gras, white chocolate, and strawberry mousse. Wonderful.

Fourth course - Jill's "BLT" Pancetta Disc, Fried Tomato, Butter Poached Lobster, Chive Oil. This dish was fan-freaking-tastic!! I almost asked for seconds, but I thought it would have been gauche. The "B" was the pancetta - shaped into a disc and balanced on top. The "L" was actually lobster (although there were also greens on the plate) and it was so smooth and buttery, I thought I had gone to lobster-heaven. The "T" was actually a tomato, but a very sweet-tart heirloom tomato slice that had been lightly breaded and fried. I have seriously thought about this dish every day since I ate it. Wow.

Fifth course - Macadamia Nut Crusted Pan-Seared Halibut, Garlic Oil Bow-Tie pasta, Bruschetta. After the last two dishes, this dish was not quite as memorable or unique. It was good, although my mother said her halibut was overcooked. I suggested that the fish was purposefully a little dry because the garlic oil on the pasta balanced the dry fish. I could have done without the bruschetta, for the reasons mentioned above. I do not think bruschetta should be served twice on the same tasting menu.

Sixth course - Bacon-Wrapped New York Strip, Portabella Fries, Port Reduction. By this time, I was getting pretty full, but I was waiting with anticipation for the meat course. The meat course on any tasting menu usually is the grand finale of the menu and usually a place for the chef to show off. Unfortunately, I was bitterly disappointed by the meat course. First, the dish looked completely uninspired. The only things on the plate were the steak, bacon, and mushrooms. No greens, no starch, no garnish, no sauce (I don't remember the port reduction even being there). The dish did not make a statement, aside from the chef saying, "I am tired and I want you to leave now." Second, the meat was not good. It was a horrible cut of beef - tough and stiff. But worse, it was overcooked. It would have been a stretch to call it "medium." In my opinion, it was well-done. The center was barely pink. (This was true for all five of us, not just me.)

I was taught early in life that it was extremely bad taste to order steak anything higher than "medium-rare." My father said that, if we didn't like rare beef, we should order chicken. That in mind, I have never been to a higher end restaurant and been served anything more than medium-rare steak. (The Kobe beef at the French Laundry was practically still alive, it was so rare.) This is particularly true in a tasting-menu situation where the chef does not ask the diners how they would like their meat. It is assumed that if you are knowledgeable enough about food to request the tasting-menu, you are sophisticated enough to eat rare beef. It was incredibly shocking to encounter poorly executed beef in such a good restaurant, particularly a restaurant in the Midwest.

Seventh course - Plum Cake, Pomegranate Syrup. This dessert was the stuff of dreams - it looked like a dream and it tasted like a dream. The description does not come close to describing the near orgasmic nature of this dish. It was like pineapple-upside-down cake but made with half a plum rather than pineapple. It was a little tart but mostly caramelly sweet. Even though I was stuffed by this point, I ate the whole thing. If there had been an extra cake sitting around the kitchen, I would have shoved it in my purse.

In conclusion, I don't have a star rating. I think stars are silly. My review criteria is, simply, "Would I eat at this restaurant again . . . yes or no." As far as Jill's on Galena, the answer is absolutely yes. Although I probably will not be ordering steak, I am more than happy to have fois gras and lobster. Who wouldn't be?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Who Thinks Up These Things?

My computer at work kindly reminded me today that I needed to install certain software updates. So, being a good employee, I clicked "Install Now." Up popped this window that said, "Installing Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool."

It sounds so serious - malicious software removal. It sounds like a covert CIA operation or something. I started to think up other removal tools that would come in very handy. I wonder when Microsoft will get around to one of these:

Malevolent Man Removal Tool

Spiteful Waiter Removal Tool

Maleficent Neighbor Removal Tool

Vindictive Co-Worker Removal Tool

Shameless Self-Promotion Removal Tool

Rancorous Boss Removal Tool

Acrimonious Sister-in-Law Removal Tool

Horrible Television Commercial Removal Tool

Atrocious Breath Removal Tool

Appalling Manners Removal Tool

Dismaying Dirty Laundry Removal Tool

Heinous Haircut Removal Tool

Monstrous SUV Removal Tool

Mischievous Cat Removal Tool

Alarming Lateness Removal Tool

I would pay big bucks for all of those Windows updates. They might actually do something useful for a change.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 Observation - Half Mast Flags

As I was staring out my office window this morning, I noticed several flags were at half mast. I found myself staring at one of them from above and thinking about the events of 9/11 and remember all those who died that day and in the years afterward because of that day.

I looked at other buildings from my window and noticed not all of them had their flags at half mast. I was intrigued, particularly when I saw that the Peoria Public Library downtown did not have its flag at half mast. So, I decided to conduct a little research on my lunch hour to see how many buildings and/or businesses had their flags at half mast. Here are the results of my very informal study (basically places I drove by on my lunch hour):

Flags at Half Mast:
United States Courthouse
Peoria County Courthouse
Commerce Bank Building (downtown)
Holiday Inn City Center
Caterpillar headquarters
U of I Medical School
Great Central Insurance
City Hall
Becker Building

Flags not at Half Mast:
Peoria Public Library (downtown)
Hotel Pere Marquette
Cub Foods (Knoxville)
Uftring Chrysler (University & War Memorial)
Lakeview Museum
Southside Bank (Sheridan Village)
Bergners (Sheridan Villiage)
Peoria County Health Department
One Tech Plaza
Veteran's War Memorial (on riverfront)

I also checked the Civic Center but I couldn't find any flags on the property, which I thought was strange. I also could not see any flags near either of the hospitals downtown.

Then I decided to research online when the flag is required to be at half mast, if it ever is. As it turns out, there are several days that are considered "official" dates to fly the flag half mast. They are:

Peace Officers Memorial Day - May 15th
Memorial Day - Last Monday in May
Korean War Veterans Day - July 27th
Patriot Day - September 11th
Pearl Harbor Rememberance Day - December 7th

There are also special instructions for flags that cannot be flown at half mast (such as those often seen on private homes or on the Pere Marquette).

Now, I am not an overly patriotic person. I don't have stickers on my car or in my windows about America, the war, freedom, etc. However, I am very proud to be a citizen of the United States and love my country and believe I don't have to proclaim this by using bumperstickers or wearing patriotic clothes all the time. I do not support the war in Iraq and oppose the notion that the only true "patriots" are those who support the war and President Bush.

All that being said, I think all flags should be flown half mast on September 11th. And not just because it is an "official date" for doing so. It does all of us good to stop and remember those who died and the reasons they died and be thankful we are still living. At the very least, I believe our public buildings should be flying their flags at half mast including the Public Library, Lakeview, the health department, and the park district's veteran's memorial. Particularly that last one, don't you think?

Update: As of 3:15 pm today, the Public Library has lowered its flag to half mast. Although I would like to, I won't take the credit.

Well, Maybe This is Why They Point and Laugh

I was outside yesterday on my deck talking to my neighbor. He said, "Oh, the funniest thing happened. We were sitting outside over the weekend when we were watching our grandchildren. We had the baby monitor with us. As we were sitting here, I said to my wife, I think the baby is crying. She went inside to check on him and came out, confused, and said he was still sound asleep. We turned up the volume on the monitor and realized we could hear your son babbling in his bedroom. We must be able to pick up your baby monitor. Isn't that funny?"

I smiled and laughed but felt a little sick to my stomach. When I went inside, I started to think of all of the embarassing things they could have heard since I got the baby monitor 10 months ago. Yikes. I had no idea those things could pick up from other receivers in the vicinity. Thank god they don't watch their grandchildren every day.

But then I thought, I wonder who I can listen to on my baby monitor?

Monday, September 10, 2007

And the Neighbors Just Point and Laugh

When I bought my house more than five years ago, one of my first major purchases was a lawnmower. This being my first house and my first yard, I had never purchased major lawn equipment. I actually don't even remember my parents ever purchasing a lawnmower - I think they always got hand me downs from my grandfather.

I was a little nervous about the purchase - it was a similar experience to purchasing a car on my own for the first time. I felt as if I was invading "the land of men" by walking up to the Home Depot guy and asking about lawnmowers. When I asked for assistance, the guy kind of looked around, like he was thinking, "God help me . . . where is her husband?" When it became clear I was making this purchase, not my "man," he begrudgingly helped me.

When I told him what I was looking for - an electric lawnmower - he laughed out loud. He said, "You're kidding, right?" But he pointed to the three electric models on display. I thanked him and he left. I picked out my well-researched lawnmower choice and took it to my car all by myself. I loved my lawnmower - it looked like a smaller cute orange VW beetle, with a handle. I proudly mowed my back yard and then drove to the front, trailing the 150 feet of orange extension cord behind me. And the neighbors stopped in their tracks to stare at me. Who was this girl with her electric lawnmower??

I've gotten all sorts of questions over the years. The most common one is, "Why?" My answer is, "Several reasons." First of all, I have a fear of fire and all things extremely flammable. This is part of the reason I bought a brick house. The thought of having a can of gasoline sitting around freaked me out. Second, electric lawnmowers are quieter than gas mowers. Third, it was cute. (That reason doesn't earn me much respect among the guys.)

The best question I ever got was, "Don't you ever run over the cord?" My next door neighbor and his son-in-law asked me that question. I replied, "No - it's sort of like vacuuming. You don't run over the cord when you are vacuuming, do you?" I got blank stares in response.

I am sure some of my neighbors still point and laugh when I mow the lawn, especially the older men who think women shouldn't really be mowing the lawn anyway.

Friday, September 7, 2007

This is Why People Hate the IRS (and Lawyers)

I came across this exchange between an attorney and an IRS agent recently. I had to read it 10 times to really understand what they are talking about, but I am not a tax attorney. That's my excuse, anyway.

Q: Under a land contract, you hold the property, but there's still rights that are transferred to the buyer or the person who is paying the payments. They have to default before they lose their interest. There is a bunch of rights, and the same thing's true with the mortgage. In any event, my question is if there were an installment - and I know you don't believe the facts fit an installment contract - but if there were an installment sale, is it true that a taxpayer can say until I get payments to the level of my basis, I don't necessarily have to report this, because I haven't made any gain on it yet?

A: No. Actually, with an installment sale you would figure out based on the terms of the contract - let's say the contract says I made $100,000 profit on this transaction. I bought the property for 250. I sold it for 350. Even under the terms that this is an installment sale, okay, I receive the money - and there are special forms to report installment sales. That you would have to report the receipt of the first installment and compute if I made - if there is 40% gross profit based on the overall sales price, the 40% of that $100,000 I received goes toward - is considered profit for that year. Then in each subsequent year chances are you are going to be receiving interested on the outstanding balance. That's going to be reported annually as interest. And as each additional installment payment comes in, you are going to use tht same ratio. Same 40% ratio. If you get $10,000 a year for the next 10 years, 40% of that 10,000 is capital gains, 60% is return on the capital. So in an installment sale situation, you don't wait until the end. You report it in increments over the life of the installment contract.

Q: So, even though you haven't gotten your basis back, you still have to pay taxes on some percentage of what you get?

A: Exactly.

Folks, this is just one page of nine days of trial. I think my brain is melting.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Trouble with Erin Feis

I was reminded by JadedGirl about some trouble I had at Erin Feis a couple of weekends ago. Instead of leaving a long comment on her blog, I thought I would post my own.

I actually went down to the riverfront to observe the Duck Race on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, my son took a late nap and we didn't arrive until 3:30 and the Duck Race was over. But the weather was beautiful and I decided to walk along the riverfront. I strolled past the Duck Race area and intended to walk all the way down to the playground at the Riverplex. Before I could get to the playground, Erin Feis was in front of me. I thought, "Oh, this should be fun. I have never been to Erin Feis and there should be plenty to look at and to entertain us for a few hours."

I walked up to the gate with my stroller and the guy looked at me and said, apologetically, "It's seven dollars to get in." Rather shocked, I said, "SEVEN DOLLARS?" He said, "Yes." Since it was already 3:45, I asked when Erin Feis ended. He said, "Six o'clock." I said, "You mean I have to pay seven dollars for two hours?" I said thank you and turned my stroller around and walked back down the riverfront.

I was a little shocked by the price (especially after hearing from JadedGirl and others it wasn't worth the price) but my decision not to pay it was more cultural than anything else. If I was of Irish decent, I probably would have paid it to support my heritage. Actually, I probably would have gone earlier in the weekend and celebrated for two full days if I was Irish or if it had been a Scandinavian festival of some sort.

I was more shocked by the fact that, with only two hours left in the event, they were still charging $7 to get in, even though nothing much was going on during the last two hours. I was most shocked by the fact that Erin Feis blocked that entire portion of the riverfront. I literally could not walk from the area around the Pride of Peoria to the Riverplex unless I wanted to pay $7 or walk in the street (with my 9 month old in a stroller). I also heard that people trying to get to the Duck Race were blocked from getting to that event by Erin Feis personnel.

I don't dispute that Erin Feis has the right to charge admission and use the riverfront. What I am saying is that there should be a better way to allow more than one group and the public to have unfettered access to the entire riverfront at the same time. Perhaps this will be solved with an extension of the sidewalk beyond the Gateway Building to the Riverplex.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I'm Being Googled

As I have commented before, I enjoy looking at the statistics on my sitemeter. It just reinforces this notion that the internet is a truly amazing invention. I mean, before the internet, only the dog got to hear about my rambling rants. Lately, I have been keeping track of the search terms used on google that have pointed people toward my blog. Some of them are pretty funny.

"Gaudy gifts" from Boise, Idaho, referring to my post about rude invitations.

"Windy up skirt" from Seattle, Washington and "Dirty older men" from Amman, Jordan got people to this post.

"I look like Cindy Brady" from Babson Park, Massachusetts got to my randomness post.

"Eats Hostas" from Cleveland, Ohio; "dog keeps killing baby rabbits" from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; "dog hair deer repellent" from Framingham, Massachusetts; "liquid fence smell off my hands" from Geneva, Illinois; "killing rabbits Illinois" from Reston, Virginia; referring to my frustrations with rabbits and hostas.

"Natural Cheetos" from Savannah, Georgia. Apparently, someone was as shocked as I was.

"Bush's Trillions" from Englewood, Colorado brought in by my post on Karl Rove's impending departure.

"How to fix Diaper Genies that fall apart" from Prior Lake, Minnesota, found my baby stuff post. My advice? Just throw the damn thing away.

"Melissa and Doug duck lead paint" from Newburgh, New Jersey; "Chicco made in China" from New York, New York; "Lamaze Lead made in China" from Hoboken, New Jersey; and "Lucky jeans made in Mexico" from Swansea, Massachusetts came in because of my Made in China post. Apparently, people in the East Coast are very concerned about this issue.

"Baby blankie in Morton, Illinois" from someone in Elberta, Alabama. I have no idea how this got to my blog because it is a very specific search. I have never blogged about baby blankies or Morton, as far as I know.

"First time bra shopping" from Sunnyside, New York; and "Bra shoppping" from someone in the United States feeling my pain.

"Rabbit grapes" from Scarborough, Ontario and "Grapes fart" from Alberta, Canada got someone to my dog farting story.

"First boob squishing event" from someone else in the United States feeling my other pain.

"Strange coincidences" from Barcelona, Spain. I'm pretty sure they weren't looking for a post about the zoo.

A disturbing search called "kill my boyfriend" from Canada probably got a person to this post, but I wasn't trying to kill my boyfriend. I actually felt bad about the situation.

And the most disturbing so far: "Brother and sister playing strip chess." Yikes. Just to clear the record - I did not blog about brothers and sisters playing strip chess - I blogged about my sister-in-law playing regular chess by herself at Christmas.

Where did people find this information before the internet?