Saturday, January 30, 2010

Derby Day!

Dear Readers,

I don't normally like to shill (wait, maybe I do....hey!  Do me a favor and click on those ad links--they're bound to be fun, with all the random topics I've been writing about), BUT today is the opening bout of the 2010 Windy City Rollers home season, and I'm so excited that I have to make sure I tell you about it!

If you happen to be in Chicago and have no plans for the evening, come out to the UIC Pavilion (doors open at 5 PM, game starts at 6 PM) and catch all of the action.  Tickets are $20.  Unk's doing the national anthem, and Power of Cheer is our halftime entertainment.  Honestly, if you've never seen Power of Cheer, come to the bout just for them.  They are the perfect combination of hilarity and awesome.

The bouts are Hell's Belles vs. the Double Crossers, and Manic Attackers (sporting new Manictards) vs. the Fury.

Fury star Kola Loka is back!  Also, tons of new skaters this year, including transplants Dinah Party (from Gotham Girls Roller Derby) and Jackie Daniels (from Grand Raggity Roller Girls, and she's one of the featured skaters in "Whip It").  The new crop of rookies are really impressive skaters, so this season should be fantastic.  After seeing several weeks of scrimmages, I'm really excited to see how these teams skate against each other.

Also debuting:  Several new refs and NSOs (non-skating officials).  As Intejill, the Assistant Head of Stats, I'm really proud of our staff and the work we do in making sure the bouts are fair and safe.  Plus, I'm especially pleased with my specialized integer pants (pants-by-number) which should debut tonight!

Hope to see you there--if you come, please give me a shout out!  I'd love to say hello!

Your pal,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Upgrade This

Dear Travelodge,

Within one day of our three-night stay in the Natick Travelodge, the Boy and I made a pact to earn enough money so that we never have to stay in a Travelodge again.

Oh, I understand.  Travelodge is a "budget-friendly" hotel, with reasonable prices, which we appreciated (as well as the free internet and the "upgrade" to the room with the microwave and fridge--a girl's stash of Diet Coke has to chill, you know).  However, is it too much to ask that all the lamps in the room have light bulbs?  And that the used towel hanging on the back of the bathroom door is removed before we check in?  And that the alarm clock isn't connected to the main light switch, so that if you flip the switch off, the alarm clock goes off as well?  Maybe Sleepy Bear doesn't need to get up in the morning, but I sure do, and having to set the clock from scratch every night is a pain in the neck.

Is this "you get what you pay for" pricing?

Just curious,
Your pal,

P.S.--I understand the Boy is freakishly tall.  At 6'5", he's quickly discovering he doesn't fit into much of Massachusetts, including the shower stall in this hotel.  Just another fun Travelodge discovery!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One Man's Trash...

Dear Wrigley's,

The Boy bought a pack of Doublemint for our airplane trip today, and we definitely noticed your change.  By change, I mean, "Wrigely switched to paper wrappers and saved about 850 metric tons of foil from going into landfills every year."

OK, that sounds really nice, but now aren't there 850 metric tons of paper going into landfills instead?  I mean, you could recycle the paper, but I tend to put my used gum in the wrapper, especially if I'm not near a garbage can and just can't chew it anymore.  I put it in the wrapper and then in my pocket or purse until I do find a garbage can.  You can't recycle that paper!  I can't be the only person who puts chewed gum in the wrapper!

Plus, what are all the MacGyvers of this world going to do without foil wrappers?

Just curious.  Thanks for your time.

Your pal,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

So, How Much Is Too Much?

NOTE TO READERS:  Although I do like writing snail mail, sometimes e-mail is much more efficient.  Tamara, a whip-smart woman I used to work with, got back to me right away with a really helpful answer that sheds a lot of light on the subject of yogurt (and it's frightening what some food processors will do).  What do you think?

Hi, Jill,

You raise an excellent question!

All yogurt will contain some natural milk sugar (lactose), even if it is unsweetened. As a rule, a typical 6 oz container of plain, American-style yogurt will contain about 11g of natural sugar (or, 1.8g/oz). A typical 5.3oz container of Greek-style strained yogurt will contain 6g of natural sugar (it loses some of the lactose in the watery liquid that is removed from the straining process).

Any sugar in your yogurt beyond these naturally-existing levels is added sugar.

So how much is too much? Well, keep in mind that every 4g of sugar is a teaspoon. Most experts agree that a reasonable upper limit for added sugar in a healthy diet would be about 10 tsp/day... though bear in mind that this refers to a "typical" 2,000 calorie diet, which is more than many women are eating (or should be). 5-9 tsps added sugar per day is more realistic (nutritionally, but probably not in practice) for many women.

So the question is: how do you want to spend your added sugar budget? If you don't drink sweetened drinks (including your morning coffee/tea) and rarely have desserts/sweets, etc.., then maybe you can afford to spend a few tsps of sugar on that breakfast yogurt. But even so, many choices still seem excessive.

Among the yogurts you inquired about, The Cultural Revolution yogurt at 11g for a flavored 6oz variety is a great option... and I love that it's organic as well. (It appears they produce a greek-ish style yogurt which is how they keep the total sugar low even though they add additional). A few brands you mentioned (Better Whey, Cascade Fresh) had 14g-16g sugar for a 6oz container; that's like 3-5g added sugar, or ~1 tsp. I find that pretty reasonable if you're going for a flavored yogurt instead of plain. Another good choice for flavored yogurt is Siggi's Icelandic Style Skyr (10-11g sugar per 6oz).

Once you get much past the 16g of sugar range for a 6oz yogurt, I tend to think it's a bit much, and might advise you to try buying plain (or even better, plain Greek yogurt) and adding 1 tsp honey per 6-8oz to sweeten it yourself. By this guideline, you'll probably disqualify 90% of the yogurts sold in the supermarket.

In other words, the Activia at 17g (per tiny 4oz container, no less) is outrageously has 2.5tsp of added sugar in that itty bitty little container. If you like the 4oz size, I'd recommend Stonyfield Farms Yo Baby yogurt; it has 12g sugar (~1 tsp added) per container, which makes it more appropriate for adults than babies, anyway.

Another big offender in my book includes the Stonyfield Farms Organic flavored varieties, which typically have 21-23g sugar per 6oz serving (again, that's 2.5-3 tsps of added sugar!).

As far as your question about the different types of sweeteners, there's no real difference between sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or fruit juice concentrate as far as how your body metabolizes them. No source is any better or worse than the other. So don't be fooled by "organic cane sugar" on an ingredient list as being somehown benign or healthier. Straight fructose (or higher-fructose sweeteners like Agave) is metabolized differently than the other sugars, but for the quantity found in a 6oz yogurt, it doesn't make a measurable difference one way or the other for good or for bad. Sugar is sugar is sugar. Having said that, I'd take real sugar over those artifical sweeteners in the diet yogurts any day; at least your body knows what to do with it. I avoid aspartame and acesulfame potassium in all foods and drinks as a rule. The only time I think these products are acceptable is for people with diabetes who need to strictly avoid sugar for glycemic control reasons, and even then, I'd recommend trying to develop a taste for a plain yogurt or (even better) plain Greek yogurt first before resorting to the artificial stuff.

Hope this helps clear things up! It makes me sad that our supermarket has become so complex that highly intelligent, educated people need to consult nutrition experts just to navigate the yogurt aisle... but I'm glad I could help in any event.

Your pal,


Monday, January 25, 2010


Dear Tamara Duker,

Hope you're doing well.  I have a question about yogurt, and I looked for the answer on your blog but didn't find it (though really, I would've loved to try the lactose-free yogurt you wrote about).  

From time to time, I get on a little yogurt kick.  Last weekend I stayed in a hotel, and at the continental breakfast spread, I opted to eat some Activia yogurt.  Tasty!  I should eat more of this!

Then I day 2, I noticed that my 4 oz. cup contained 17g of sugar, and that felt like a lot. Especially when the ingredients were (according to the website):


Am I right?  I mean, I feel like sugar or some form of sweetener is dumped into a lot of American processed food, and I'd like to get away from some of that.

This week I've been eating yogurt for breakfast every day, which I've really enjoyed.  I usually eat Kashi GoLean (fiber, baby!), but the yogurt is a nice change (calcium, baby!).  I've been trying a bunch of varieties--mainly various brands from Whole Foods, or Trader Joe's, selected by the sugar content.  Here's what I've tried:

Trader Joe's Greek-style: 5.3 oz., 11g sugar
Brown Cow All Natural Greek Yogurt: 5.3 oz, 17g sugar
Wallaby Organic: 6 oz., 19g sugar
Cultural Revolution Organic: 6 oz., 11g sugar
Better Whey of Life Protein Yogurt: 6 oz., 14g sugar
Cascade Fresh Fat Free Yogurt: 6 oz., 16g sugar

I have not tried the true Greek yogurts, mainly because they put too much of a crimp in my budget.  

I've also looked at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Private Label regular yogurts, which had way more sugar in them.  That scared me a bit.

So, my question--if you have some time--is, What's an acceptable sugar range for yogurt?  I understand it's going to have some sugar, but how much is too much?  And where should that sweetness come from?  I see all sorts of ingredients--from fruit juice concentrate to natural cane sugar to fructose.  What should I try to avoid in choosing yogurt?

Thanks so much for your time....hope all is well in your corner of the world and with school.  The Boy and I are moving to Boston in a couple of months--he got a job with a small consulting firm out there.  Good times.

Take care,
Your pal,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Cabbie Mold

Dear Norma I. Reyes, Commissioner, City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection,

I'm writing to send you a cab driver compliment.  The Boy and I had an awesome driver last night, one Bruce R. Vandergriff #56775, driving cab #391.  He provided efficient, friendly service...well, that really doesn't encompass how I felt about our cab ride.  Let me give it to you straight.

The Boy and I don't take cabs all that often, and last night we were debating on whether or not we should wait for the bus or take a cab.  We let one go by, then decided that the bus was too slow, so we flagged the next guy down.  As soon as I opened the door, I could hardly contain my excitement.  Could it be?  Really?  Yes!  An old white guy cab driver!

You might think that's a racist thing to say, and although I appreciate the diversity our great city has to offer, I am pretty particular about race/nationality when it comes to cab drivers--and after almost fifteen years of living in the city, I've experienced enough drivers to have a solid opinion on this matter.  The best?  The old white guys.  They've been driving a cab for decades.  They know the city like the back of their hand.  You don't give them an intersection, you give them an obscure address, and they'll know the back way that gets you there quicker.  They like to chat and have great stories about the city.  Old white guy cab drivers rock.

Notice I said old.  Young white guy cab drivers?  Not as good as the old ones.  These guys tend to be temporary drivers and aren't as invested.  They're still decent though.

Other really good cab drivers?  African-Americans, Hispanics, Koreans (we had such an interesting ride with a good Korean driver once), and Egyptians (more great conversation and decent driving).  Pakistani and Indian cab drivers are pretty decent and can be fun to talk to.  Their driving is OK.

Eastern Europeans are hit and miss.  I've had good ones.  I've also had the one who was watching a DVD while he drove us down Lake Shore Drive during the morning rush hour (sorry I didn't report that incident.  I was too shell-shocked after yelling at him to turn off the player that I forgot to get his number).

The worst?  Africans.  Usually the ones from Nigeria.  They need driving lessons.  They need to learn the streets.  It's no fun telling your cabbie--who can barely speak English--where Lake Shore Drive is.  That guy almost got us into an accident.  We did report that one, which your office took care of and kept us in the loop on.  Nice job!  We've learned that we really shouldn't take any of the maroon/purplish cabs because they tend to have worse drivers.  Sad, but true.

At any rate, Bruce took us where we needed to go.  He drove safely.  He was friendly and told a good story.  We wished we lived further away so that we could stay in the cab longer.  I don't say that about many cab drivers, but Bruce was really good at his job.  I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate cab drivers like him.  Could you create a mold of this guy and make all potential Chicago cabbies be like him?  Cabbies with different colors and accents, sure, but cabbies with the same great attitude and skill sets.  Our city would be much better off.

Thanks for your time.
Your pal,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Need the Housing Memo

Dear Homeowners,

I think we missed a memo or something.  How is it possible to afford a house?  The Boy and I are looking at a move to the Boston area (which might be our first problem), and we'd like to buy a house.  A single-family house.  However, even with a decent down payment (~10%), once you tack on insurance and taxes, it really looks like even a small house in a nice town on a commuter rail (which is what I'd really like) is out of our reach.  Or, maybe it isn't, if we were more comfortable with having housing take up pretty much half of our monthly budget.

Are we crazy?  Did we miss a memo?  Or would it just be wiser to spend another year in a rental rather than live with the stress of high monthly costs?

Let me know.  I've been watching way too much HGTV lately and feeling like I'm just clueless about the process.  How can all these 20-somethings be able to plunk down a ton of money for a house, while I don't feel like I can?  Is there some financing thing I'm missing, or am I just not comfortable enough with massive amounts of debt?

Your advice would be appreciated.  Thanks!
Your pal,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fever Commencing

Dear U.S. Olympic Committee,

Wow, you're good!  All I had to do was open my mailbox, see the solicitation envelope from you, and I was ready to donate.  Granted, I'm not able to donate a ton--just enough to get that snazzy (American made, perhaps?!) fleece jacket....and one for the Boy, since he looked a little forlorn until I said we could get two.  Well, actually, he said he'd make his own donation because he wanted to get his own set of US Olympic address labels too, but I quashed that idea because I didn't want you to spend extra money sending two mailings to one address.  That's just a waste.

Anyway, I'm rambling a bit, but that's what happens when I get the Fever.  What Fever, you ask?  Olympic Fever!  Can you believe Vancouver is almost here?  I'm so excited to see what these Games have to offer--I actually almost like the Winter Games better because the sports don't get so much TV time in these parts.

Speaking of obscure sports, I'd like to request that you put my $50 (which should hit your account soon--it went to the processing address, and I can't donate online because I don't have a VISA card) toward supporting our biathletes.  Oh, I know.  All sports are important (except for figure skating, which is mega-important), and all our athletes need financial help, but seriously, I want my donation to go into their budget, because biathlon should be more popular than it is, and these athletes deserve their due.

I don't understand why biathlon isn't a major sport in our gun-happy nation. I went to biathlon at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, and I tell you, it was the most exciting sport I'd seen in years.  Even watching it on TV has me on the edge of my seat.  Will he hit the target?  Will he have to ski a penalty lap?  Will he have enough energy to keep skiing at full strength?  It's a dramatic sport, and I think more Americans, if given the chance, would become big fans.  They just need the exposure to it.  Money provides exposure.  I'm providing (a little) money.

Thanks for your time and attention.  I'm looking forward to a great Games!  USA!  USA!

Your pal,

Friday, January 15, 2010

Suzanne Writes Back!

Whee!  A real response!  Suzanne Beecher of took a minute to send me a nice little e-mail:

Hi Jill,
Thanks for your email. It's always a pleasure to hear from you.
The hot water bottle giveaway will be coming up in a few days.
Stay warm!!
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
My best regards...
Suzanne Beecher
"A Friend to Readers and Libraries"
P.S. I'm trying to really promote the book clubs, here is a link to flyers I've put together. 
If you could print out a few and hand them out, I sure would appreciate it.

If you haven't heard of and the online book clubs, they are really neat.  I've gotten them for several years.  There are a number of "clubs" to choose from, based on genre.  Every week features a different book, and every day, you get a 5-minute read in your e-mail.  By the end of the week you've read maybe 25 pages of a book, and that's enough to figure out if you want to read the rest of it.  Plus, you get a daily column from Suzanne, who's done a really good job of making this endeavor feel like a community.  It's e-mail I look forward to getting every day (and I'm not saying this because I still want a hot water bottle).  Try them out!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Warm, Snuggly Hopes

Sent via e-mail

Dear Suzanne,

Oh, please, please, please, could I win a hot water bottle with snuggly cover, as mentioned in your giveaway column?  I live in a vintage apartment building in Chicago, and by vintage, I mean drafty.  Today we finally broke down and put plastic over our large bedroom window.  I hate the plastic because it means you can never pull up the blinds and let in the light; however, the temperature in the bedroom is noticeably warmer.  My husband and I will spend the rest of the winter looking at the plastic (which is actually a painter's dropcloth--the specialized window coverings are too thin for a Chicago wind), watching it billow out and marveling at how our landlords don't mind paying to heat a building that allows a good deal of heat to escape right back outside.

Even though we've got the plastic up, it doesn't do everything to keep out the cold.  The bed's piled high with blankets and we wear socks to bed, but our toes still freeze.  A hot water bottle would be most helpful to keep this wicked cold at bay!

Thanks so much for your time!
Your pal,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Beginning of a Bad Romance?

Dear Lady Gaga,

I spent the better part of yesterday figuring out who you are.  Oh, I've seen you around--hell, I live in Boystown, Chicago, so it's not like I just heard about you--I mean, the Boy and I will walk past the music store down the street that sometimes features big posters of you, and he'll ask me, "Who is this Lady Gaga?  Should I know her?"  To which I didn't quite know what to answer.  I knew you were a big deal in pop music, I just hadn't listened to your music and seen the spectacle that you are until yesterday.

Anyway, me likey!  The Boy, a different story, but it was fun to see him try to jam out to your songs in the kitchen while wearing a white button-down shirt, black pants, and black Cabela's belt with a mini Cabela's multi-tool attachment.  I like your catchy songs and the musicality you have.  I dig the fact that you actually sing when performing live, and of course, I'm fascinated with your wardrobe.

In fact, I'm really curious about the size of your closet.  Seriously, how do you store some of your clothes?  Especially the big structured outfits with the massive shoulder pads and huge, pouffy skirts (the little vinyl suits, I imagine, fold up nicely and fit into a sweetly sacheted drawer)--how do you store all of them, and what's the square footage of your closet?  Or do you have an entire studio apartment (or larger) designated for clothing?

Let me know when you get a chance--I'd like to know how to keep my fishnets, hot pants, and bejeweled couture in mint condition.


Your pal,

p.s.--If you decide to branch out into athletics, might I suggest roller derby?  You'd totally rock the track!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Need a Cheat

Dear Rockstar Games/Navid Khonsari,

I don't play Grand Theft Auto 3 much, but my husband (aka The Boy) plays a fair amount, and I end up helping him out from time to time, looking up cheat codes to make the game a little more fun.  He really dug the tank cheat!

However, the game is starting to bleed too much into my personal life.  For example, during my recent trip to Florida (Senior City), I wanted both a weapons cheat and a tank cheat more than a few times when patiently waiting for some Golden Agers to get a move on (or drive correctly).  Then the weather got cold, and one night I actually dreamt about finding a blanket code, at which point a blanket dropped from the ceiling and magically covered the bed, warming me adequately, for once.

I think this is a sign that there's too much GTA in my life.  Either that, or we need to play a different version.  What do you think?

Your pal,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Career Exploration

Dear Cori Rist,

Hope you had a good New Year's!  I'm not writing you about the whole Tiger Woods affair--I bet you're tired of the whole situation by now.  I'm writing you because I'm thinking about going on the Career Day circuit.  Being a writer, although it does sound glamorous, is a life filled with rejection, so I thought I'd have a backup career to talk about.  Your job as clubgoer intrigued me, and I wanted to ask you a few questions about it.

What sort of educational background do you need to have to be a clubgoer?  Does it help to have music and dance experience?  How long have you been a clubgoer?  What's the career path--at some point, can you be promoted to senior clubgoer?  What comes after that?

Let me know--I think the kids would really love to hear about this opportunity!

Thanks for your time.

Your pal,

Friday, January 8, 2010

Shop Local?

Dear HGTV,

Congratulations on another stunning Dream Home!  The New Mexico home is really something, and I hope whoever wins it will be happy with their beautiful abode.

Let's talk about being real with the viewers though.  Look, I understand Ethan Allen was a sponsor and provided the furniture, but don't send your designers to New York City to go furniture shopping and have them ooooh and ahhhhh over the Ethan Allen store.  Ethan Allen's a chain.  They're all over the country.  Save your designers the flight and trouble, and don't give us the idea that New York City is Chain Store Central.  Send them to the Ethan Allen in Albuquerque.  We'll understand.

Your pal,

Thursday, January 7, 2010

This Is Not a "Situation"

via e-mail:

Dear Wolf Blitzer and the rest of "The Situation Room" Team,

I understand that the recent announcements by some Democratic senators saying they will not seek reelection this year is a story.  It just happened.  But could you do us a favor this election year and not blow every fricking announcement out of proportion?

Because I was sitting in an airport yesterday, I happened to catch your program, and that's where I first saw the big deal made out of the possible power shift in the Senate.  But look, the power shift--if it happens--won't take place for an ENTIRE YEAR.  It's not happening tomorrow.  It's not happening next week.  It's happening next year.  In the meantime, these senators are still in office, and they still have a lot of work to try to do.

Wouldn't it be better to concentrate some of CNN's efforts and resources toward what the Senate is doing, rather than starting this big political contest that really isn't as big of a deal as, say, fixing the economy/the war in the Middle East/food safety?

The election races are going to change a million times between now and November, and for every little change in who's running or random opinion poll, your station and program seem to have some talking head commenting on what a monumental deal this minutia is.  It was hell to live through during the almost two years of the 2008 election, and it's one of the major reasons I care not to pay attention to politics anymore.  I feel bad about my attitudes because I really should care about what's going on in my country; however, the way media covers politics today makes it seem like our government is based on a popularity contest rather than issues.  Yawn.

Please--for the sanity of your viewers--consider not making this year's election races as important as national security.  We'll thank you for it.

Your pal,

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Until Next Year

Dear Kitteh,

For the past three weeks, you have been my nemesis.  Although only seven weeks old when we arrived in Florida, you instantly knew I wasn't a fan of cats and showed off your big brains by giving me a painful scratch on my wrist.

In the ensuing time we've been trapped together, you've bitten me and taken too much of an interest in my computer cords.  I, on the other hand, have spent considerable amounts of time figuring out how to get you to do nothing but sleep.

Yes.  Oh!  Are you surprised?  Do you think I played with you several times a day just because I liked kitteh?  No!  I wanted to wear you out, to stop you from pawing my toes with your sharp claws.  Look at you--you think you look so innocent, crouched with your favorite toy, a bottle cap:

I know better though.  I know you prefer getting your claws sunk into flesh, that you pounce on anything within sight, especially those older cats, who, you haven't seemed to realize, don't want to give you the time of day (hint:  if they hiss at you, they don't like you).

And don't think that curling up next to me for a nap will change my opinion of you.  I know what happens to kittehs:  They grow up to be cats.

When I see you next year, you won't have the time of day for me.  Not that I care, but I'm just telling you that I know what will happen.  And believe you me, I'm cool with that.

Your pal,

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Show 'Em Who's Boss!

Dear Brendon Gallagher, Alderman in DeKalb, IL,

Way to go!  I recently read an AP story about cities and counties rolling back corporate tax breaks for companies who donn't keep up their end of the bargain, and I wholeheartedly agree with your quote, "We will roll out the red carpet as much as we can (but) they are going to honor the contract."

If I was one of your constituents, I'd be so happy with the way you're standing up to Target, sending them a tax bill for $600,000 because they didn't keep up with their end of the bargain, saying they'd hire 500 workers for a distribution center in your city, if you'd give them a bunch of tax breaks.  Good for you finding out that they were 66 jobs short and enforcing the contract!

I realize it's a tough little dance, trying to attract corporations to your city so that your citizens can get decent jobs, but companies have to play nice too.  This democracy is by the people for the people, not by the corporations for the corporations.  Sure, a company might threaten to pull out, but if they have a bad reputation for not honoring their end of the deal in terms of job creation, what town will be willing to let them set up shop?  Keep strong, and don't let them bully you!

Your pal,

Monday, January 4, 2010

Man UP!

Dear Danny Treanor,

While I've been visiting my in-laws this Christmas, I've had the good fortune to catch your morning weather reports.  The weather's been something lately, hasn't it?  It certainly hasn't been what I've expected--being from Chicago, I was hoping for 70s during my three weeks here.  Sadly, most of the time, the weather's been pretty chilly.

The chill is why I'm writing.  Look, I understand that people in Florida have thinner blood, so I agree that these temps that hover around freezing at night are pretty startling.  You have to prepare for this kind of cold, but I don't think it's so deadly that your station needs to tell people to not go outside unless they absolutely have to [to be honest, I can't remember exactly if you said this, or if it was the male reporter who was so cold while reporting from the field he admitted on air he was wearing two pairs of socks ].  Bundle up?  Yes.  Don't go outside?  No.  Cold is nothing to laugh at, but if you prepare, you can enjoy it.

Please don't be one of those newspeople who just imparts fear in the viewers.  A scared population is not an effective population.  People deserve to be educated, and because the media is all about information, shouldn't you be concerned with imparting that information rather than imparting feelings?

Your pal,

P.S.--I've lived in Chicago most of my life, and I've never heard of "hawk winds."  I realize the Chicago Sun-Times has a definition of hawk winds on its website, but ask most Chicagoans, and you'll find it's not in the common vernacular.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hello, Baby New Year!

Dear 2010,

Look at you!  So cute, so fresh!  I just want to pinch your little cheeks and tickle your cute little toes!

Why am I so happy to see you?  Well, frankly, 2009 was one crummy year.  Granted, it had some plus factors, such as, my writing career, which improved dramatically.  And by dramatically, I mean I'm pretty sure my billings allowed me to cross the poverty level.  And this is only my second year at it!

However, the Boy lost his job, Pa Jaracz has been in and out of the hospital more times than I care to think about, and the draftiness in our apartment won't ever seem to go away.  The job loss meant that we didn't really have the money to enjoy living in a city, and let me tell you, dealing with the crappy aspects of city life just gets a person down.

Granted, the Boy recently got a new job, so we're leaving 2009 on a better note.  Still, you, dear 2010, look to be a year full of promise and adventure with new beginnings.  I hope (for your sake) you're good to us.

Otherwise, you'll be hearing from me in a year.

Your pal,