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Showing posts from November, 2014

Ferguson for parents

I'm old enough to remember the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. (LA had two NFL teams back then!) Rodney King was beaten by police after a high speed chase and the incident was videotaped. The police involved went to trial, were acquitted (yes, even with the video evidence), and it set off riots that caused $1 billion in damage, killed 53, injured 2,000, 12,000 arrests, and only stopped when the California National Guard stepped in. King eventually won his federal civil rights case which resulted in prison time for some of the officers who beat him.

So let's just say there's a long history of this sort of thing in the United States.

My kids are currently in the stage where they're just learning the rules of the grownup world and we're trying to send home the message that police are a trusted adult you can turn to when you're in trouble or need help. When they ask why we have to wear seat belts in the car, we explain that there are some rules even mommies and daddies hav…

Commissioner corner

I've held off writing much about my new post as a Transportation Commissioner partly because I'm still getting a feel for the position. Not to mention the first two meetings were no-brainers in my book. Resident-led petitions for stop signs or overnight parking on the street in front of their home. Those ideas both should get enthusiastic support in my world. Residential 4-way stops and crosswalks near a playground and the basic idea that someone should at least get the opportunity to park in front of their house or apartment are uncomplicated.

So I was fairly excited going into this week's meeting to see something I absolutely had no opinion about. Nothing. No previous thoughts going into the matter. Don't get me wrong, I had concerns to bring up. But no opinion as to the idea being presented. Wow me. Win me over with your persuasive argument.

The topic at hand was a request from the local high school to turn the block of busy street in front of the high school stadiu…

WhirlyBall with Chicago Dads Group

First things first...a plug for $ Interior Painting. One of the members of our dads group was generous enough to write the check to give 30 dads a free night out last Friday. If you need some painting, please see him. 
Also, if you're a father in the Chicago region you can find us on Meetup. Plenty more information on the City Dads Group website as well. We have playdates, family outings, golf rounds, Dads Night Out, and a fairly heavy rotation of events currently. 
"So what is WhirlyBall?" it seems like all my family and friends have been asking. It's a Chicago icon, for one. I can't believe I've lived here this long and never tried it. But the best way I can describe it is this...
You walk into a room that smells like something has been on fire (the floor is metal to provide power) to find sets of red and black bumper cars. The color is your team. You choose a plastic scoop hanging on the wall and seat belt yourself into your vehicle. By your r…

About that Duggar petition

The Duggars are crazy. Yet we love them. (We feel the same way about the Sister Wives gang, by the way.) We jumped off the 19 Kids and Counting train wreck about the time Josh Duggar took his new job with an arm of the Family Research Council. Until that point they were (mostly) harmless. Crazy-yet-harmless probably describes our family as well, actually. 
But things have gotten weirder lately for them. If that's possible. I know that the network filters out much of the religiousness for the sake of a viewership that decidedly disagrees with Duggar beliefs. We like watching their big family, but secular audiences don't want the Christian homeschooling and "Biblical" mindset that goes with it. Every once in awhile there would be some bleed over...but I think most Americans--contrary to the "religious freedom" complaints--are ok with others being vaguely, non-preachy religious around them. Or in public. It's a free country. Live and let live. 
After all, …

Active Transportation Alliance meeting

I had the chance last night to attend a little bit of the Active Transportation Alliance membership and advocate meeting. I'm not a member of the organization though very familiar with their work. And, with my new role as a Transportation Commissioner, I feel like I should be paying more attention to this valuable resource.

It was held in an old, converted warehouse-y space downtown. Friendly staff at the door helping with name tags. Nice open space with benches and tables and a projector to put the evening's presentation on the full wall. Plenty of finger foods and hot drinks. Bike valet. Supervised space to store coats. I scanned the crowd to see if I'd know anybody, but after a show of hands later it seemed like the majority were Chicago, city, rather than suburbs like me.

Being honest, I was there to hear about upcoming municipal election engagement. But it was interesting to see them take a voice vote to re-approve their governing board, hear from the board of directo…

Farm ethics and the politics of certification

Just in time for Thanksgiving, I'm starting to see the articles about how to know your turkey wasn't abused. The debate about labels has been ongoing in the coffee industry for years now...Fair Trade, organic, shade grown, rainforest friendly, bird friendly, direct trade. How do you know what you're eating is the best for the planet and the farmers?

My response as a coffee geek has always been that you should buy directly from the grower, if possible. With knowledge about how they run their farm. Or at least from someone who is transparent about the process and can be as detailed as possible about the who, what, when, where, how, why of their crop. This is, for me, the heart of the debate about so-called "ag gag" laws, GMO labeling, and farm freedom laws meant to protect the privacy and livelihood of those in agriculture. It's not that I'm a fan of undercover whistleblowing operations to call out Big Ag and horrible farm conditions where they exist. It…

Bonkers for books

What we recommend...

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts Charming story of a little girl who loves to invent, is ashamed of her failures, but gradually learns to develop a no-quit attitude thanks to her WWII airplane-building aunt. The words are in rhyming verse and the pictures have a graph paper and pencil quality. Inspiring for a whole new generation of scientists!
A Pirate's Life for Me! by Julie Thompson and Brownie Macintosh and illustrated by Patrick O'Brien This non-fiction pirate adventure was a pick by my 4 year old son with no help from me. And it's awesome! It features a "day in the life" with all the hard work and grit...but told in a non-scary and not overly-graphic way. The book walks the perfect line between educating, entertainment, and being age-appropriate for the kindergarten set. Even I learned about the reasons pirates wore earrings! (Body identification when washing up onshore and payment for burial.) 


My daughter threw up this morning...not completely uncommon for her when she gets herself worked up. No nap yesterday, a rough night after an early bedtime, so we weren't quite sure if she was sick or not. (She's fine.) The Mama had been up with her on the couch and I woke up with a headache. I was in a steamy shower trying to fix my head issue when I got a puke-covered 3 year old to join me for a rinse. When Mama suggested she take a sick day at that point, it seemed pretty logical.

Cole's felt fine so he went to school like normal. But in the middle of errands and Mama not knowing the usual procedure, she had to check about what time we leave for drop off and pickup. And was surprised at the time involved. The realization that she had time to go to the store during school drop off highlights one of my pet peeves as a SAHD. Though it holds true somewhat for parents, generally.

The time suck. The way that people assume because you're a parent--especially the at-home pa…

Post-election thoughts...

--Please quit calling it a "Republican wave." Yes, the GOP did very well. In mostly red-purple states. With a midterm, older, whiter electorate. That's not a wave, that's taking advantage of election cycles. In 2016 it's something like 20 seats vulnerable for Republicans and 10 for Democrats. Will a flipped re-Democratic Senate riding Hillary Clinton tails be a "wave?" Tell me what her electoral vote is then we'll talk. 
--Much is being made about Bruce Rauner's apparent win in IL. Take heart, Dems, we still have a supermajority in both houses in Springfield. We can still pretty much do what we want. 
--America is slowly inching towards legalizing pot as marijuana did well in both DC and Oregon. (Though medical marijuana did fail in FL.)
--It will be interesting to see how liberal/moderate Hillary positions herself going into 2016. That's probably her biggest choice to make right now. It's less about being a friend or enemy of Obama as s…

Adults, back to preschool!

It's Election Day in the US. The midterms, let's be honest, are about very little unless you want to get excited about the Senate switching hands for a couple years until 2016. It will be 2 years of Obama veto while we wait around for Hillary. We have a close race for governor here in IL, but the pollsters are putting it about 60% chance our Democratic incumbent will be re-elected.

So in a race about nothing, it's become a good time to talk about bigger philosophical issues. Those stubborn people who refuse to vote despite generations fighting and dying for that right. Partisanship in various places and how it's changing...yes, Texas is turning blue but not that quickly. And it's a good time to talk about the angry, cynical, ignorant American electorate. 
The Mama and I have been talking a lot lately about badly behaved adults and the relationship to teaching our children. As parents, we're firmly in the developmental stage where The Basics are a daily struggle…