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BRRRRRRR (but spring’s a nearin’)

Sorry to say but it’s still winter, folks. By Saturn’s Day it will be meteorological-Spring, though the “official” first day of Spring won’t arrive for another 3-1/2 weeks. AND, there’s no guarantee we’ll have any more decent weather then than now. That said, we’re running at 11-hours, two-minutes of daylight, with an increase of about 3-minutes more, each day. That’s nice. However, at least here in ChiTown, we are on our way to posting the 3rd-coldest winter around here…EVER…with an average-daily temp of 18.9-degrees since December 1st.


BRRRRRRRRRR. Our fellow-Ts are experiencing temps of 48 in Atlanta; 34 in N’Yawk; 35 in Bahst’n; 45 in Frisco; 53 in Lala and 48 in Vegas. Us? We’re at a balmy 13, though we d have a beautiful azure blue sky with Apollo’s chariot racing upwards.


While it’s nice that the snow is melting and decreasing, it is causing ice dams on local rivers, which are serious enough that a bridge over the Kankakee River has been closed as the ice-jam’s even with the bridge; which when at normal pool, the water-level is around 20-feet below it. Less seriously, outside our windows, the snow’s gone from having a wedding sheet-cake look to a dirty, ugly grey-black. The cure?

A slow, steady thaw would do the trick.


OK, time to get started.


-A long time ago; after I left teaching I began working in the collections business as an outside rep. My job was to convince prospective companies to use our service to collect their past-due accounts receivables. I learned much from that with one tangential item. A guy with whom I had become acquainted, who I now consider a friend and always as a mentor, mentioned something to me while we were “talking shop”. He said that small manufacturing companies were the “canaries” of the economy. By that he meant they were the first to experience any economic “upticks” as the larger manufacturers were experiencing an increase in their orders as demand for goods was increasing. It also works in the inverse in that as demand decreases; so do orders. Over the years I’d spent walking and driving through industrial parks, I’d watch for indicators of this, with “Help Wanted” signs being excellent indicators.


Yesterday, while driving through an industrial park in Des Plaines on our way back from the Sam’s Club located there. (Yes,I know. It’s part of WalMart but they carry about a half-dozen or so items Costco does not. Thus, we maintain our membership. I guess I’m an effin’ hypocrite.) Anyway, as I turned on to Howard Street, I saw a “Help Wanted” sign on a metal fabricating business with about 6 or 7 openings. I commented to MBH that maybe we just had seen a “canary”.


This morning, I read an item that Navistar – read that, the old International Harvester – was adding 75-workers to its engine manufacturing facility in Melrose Park, Il.

Another “Tweety-Bird”. We can only hope.


Again, this morning, I heard on the news that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had paid back all of the $187,000,000,000.00 extended to them in the “bailouts” of 2008, with interest.



-I have a relative some of you are familiar with, who believes that Barry is the spawn of Satan; that he does not even possess the luck of a busted-clock in even being “accidentally” right once, much less, twice a day. Uh-uh. Any and every thing that has gone wrong in this country is all his fault. I’m not going to get into the DaGOPer/DaDEMer argument, here. He’s done some good things and some not so. Generally, that’s what happens with all presidents.


Anyway, what bugged her…and some other relatives by the way…was the ban on incandescent light bulbs. That they could no longer have been manufactured nor imported in the US as of January 1, 2014. Actually, 75 and 100-watters were banned in ’12 and ’13, respectively. The “other relatives” took up the “freedom” issue that the guvment was taking away their rights to purchase incandescent light bulbs…again, Barry. Back to the first relative who told me that due to “Obama”, she went to her local Menard’s and bought a pallet-load of incandescent light bulbs. You read that right. An entire pallet-load of incandescent light bulbs Why? Well, there actually is a reason. The CFLs were too long to fit into all her ceiling-can light fixtures, of which there are many. So, yes, I can understand her angst at having to replace all of them + the cost of an electrician. Also, that “other” relative nearly spat out “Obama” and cursed those “curley-q” lights…CFLs and how Obama wasn’t gonna keep him from buying incandescent bulbs…despite the fact that CFLs and LEDs are so much cheaper to use and longer-lasting than incandescents.


Here’s the thing. The law that mandated all of the above was signed – NOT – in ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13, or ’14…BarryTime. It was signed into law in, ta DA, 2007. Can you say Dubya?


Yes, there’s the dichotomy of the CFLs and mercury content and disposal and all. I understand that. The point I am making is simply, there is plenty of blame available for assigning. Just make sure when doing so, it’s assigned properly. And, Dub, who once said he did not veto legislation if his Party sent him a bill due to his being the head of his Party, thus , it must be good. In ’07, DaDEMS held the House and Senate. Thus by using his “reasoning” he easily could have vetoed it as it was NOT a bill sent to him by “his” least not all of them. Oh well.



-The CTA is set to begin work on its “Blue Line, which connects O’Hare Airport and the rest of its Northwest Side to Downtown.

That’s the “Bad”, as it will involve areas where service will be cut and shuttle buses will take riders to operating stations, which will take around 4-years. The “Good” is this. They are going to do the necessary repairs in what are now referred to as “Slow Zones”. These are spots where the infrastructure is so old, trains which at normal speed are running at 55-MPH, are slowed down to 15 MPH. I can tell you that when they opened the extension out our way, the sign over the station used to say, “18-minutes to the Loop”. Not anymore. Hopefully, it will once again as that trip now takes as long as 35-minutes, or longer.




IT’S ALMANAC TIME, SO LET’S SEE WHAT and have to say about what’s happened today in…


303,     The first Roman edict for the persecution of Christians was issued. It’s hard to write a comment as while I’m typing this, Sir Mick and the Lads are telling me that they know, “It’s only Rock ‘N’ Roll but they like it! Like it! Like it!” Yes they do!


1500, One of those guys who were “lucky to be King”, Charles V of Spain was born.


1510,   Pope Julius II excommunicated the republic of Venice. Wow, the effers in Venice musta really done somethin’, huh?


1821,   Mexico gained its independence from Spain.


1836,   A mere 15-years later, General Santa Ana began his march to The Alamo.


1857,   The first perforated postage stamps were delivered to the US Government. They  became so popular that they now cost $00.48, each.


1868,   The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson.


1885,   Chester W. Nimitz, the Admiral whom I think was more responsible for our victory in the Pacific than his publicity-hound, cohort, Douglas MacArthur; and for whom an entire class of USN aircraft carriers were named, was born.


1903,   The US signed an agreement to acquire the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which has been and continues to be a high-point in US history till this very day.


1933,   The final demonstration by German Communists was held. Betcha can’t guess why.


1945,   A scant 10-1/2 weeks prior to VE-Day, perhaps wanting to arrive “fashionably-late” to the “party”, Egypt and Syria declared war on Nazi Germany.


1947,   Adolph’s Vice-Chancellor, Franz Von Papen was sentenced to 8-years in a labor camp for war crimes. Keep looking! Keep looking! Take a good look, folks! Watch as a miscreant cleans latrines! Keep looking!


1968,   Perhaps as a mirror of schizophrenia of the times, these two items appear in my sources for today.

From “North Vietnamese troops capture the imperial palace in Hue, South Vietnam.”

From “US troops reconquer Hue Vietnam.”


2008,   Fidel Castro retired as President of Cuba. “Cuba, Si! Yanqi, no! Cuba, si! Yanqi, no!”


-”Trump putting name on North River tower”. Yes, we ChiTowners will now be treated to a 20-foot tall, backlit sign with the word “trump” (lower-case, intentional), facing the Chicago River. Maybe that’s not so bad. Now all the river rats can look up and see their name in lights.


-”Much needed rain, snow for parched California”. Spent a couple hours with T-Bill who was in town for a funeral. He’d mentioned that it’s pretty bad out his way. Here’s hoping it’s gonna get better.


-”‘Legendary’ spelling bee runs out of words”. After 47-rounds, a 13-year old and an 11-year old used up all the available words in their Spelling Bee. Apparently, no one thought of opening a dictionary, thesaurus, anything for more. Well, it was in Missouri, so….


-”Syrian rebels say senior al-Qaida fighter killed”. Abu Khaled al-Suri was killed by suicide bombers in Syria. He was al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri’s “guy” fighting with the “rebels” in Syria against the Assad regime. Guess he didn’t like some of the other rebels. Funny how Barry’s not getting spit-roasted for “going slow” in “arming the rebels” so much now. Could it be that those quite a few of those “rebels” who needed our assistance so much are now being shown for what/who they are…our enemies?





-So, newbie-Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers, “KISS”, are having a spat as to which members of their group will appear and/or perform at their Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of fame induction. I have a few question(s) which would be:


In the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame?

Are you Freakin’ kiddin’ me?



-WOWZERS! “True Detective” is heading into it final two-episodes and man-oh-man, this is one helluva mystery. It was a topic of conversation at a fam-get-together this past weekend. Here’s the thing. For any story to be successful, its main characters have to - at the least -make their audience want to watch them. Generally, there have to be some redeeming aspects to their characters but in Marty and Rust, that’s pretty difficult. I mean, at least in “Game of Thrones” or “Homeland” there are some folks you want to succeed. Not that we don’t want them to find the serial-killer(s). We do. But as people, they leave a lot to be desired.



The Olies are gone, along with that Ruckin’ Fusskie skating-judge hugging one of her country’s winners, from an event she judged; curling and Bob Costas’ pink-eye, which is fine with us. In their stead, we have, mostly, newbies of broadcast-network shows, among them being…


“The Blacklist”. In the “teases” shown during the Olies, Lizzie asks Redd if he’s her father. Stay tuned.


“Intelligence”. I was asked if I’d grown tired of it yet? No. The characters are beginning to get their sea legs. We got caught up over the weekend at it’s still watchable. However, last week’s premise came close to “jumping the shark”.


Evanston-native, Seth Meyers begins hosting “Late Night”, tonight. We may record this as he’s someone we both enjoy watching.


“About a Boy” had its premier last week. How to say this? Hmmmm. OK. I got it. No straight guy’s gonna give this more than 5-minutes and those 5-minutes will be to check out Minnie Driver. I mean, a show called “About a Boy” with One Direction’s “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” blasting in the background? Come on, man!



-It seems a well-to-do suburb of Atlanta, Buckhead, don’t want no “Biebs” movin’ in. Why? Perhaps they fear their town’s name may be changed as folks may say something like, “Buckhead. That place where that *uckhead, Bieber” lives.





-Yes, this is a semi-FEEL-GOOD MONDAY report on DaFlubs. How’s that, you ask? Well, on Thursday, their Spring Training opener is being shown on WGN-TV…don’t know about their cable outlet, Buck…but it’s at 2:05, Central. Locals can set their DVRs.


All y’all may be a-wonerdin’ why I would consider this a “FEEL-GOOD” item and here’s why. All those phenoms we’ve been a-hearin’ about but won’t see in the bigs, should be making appearances in these games. That’s why.


Some of the local sports-literati like to say our pro-sports teams don’t owe their fans anything, in that we fans have the option of not watching, listening to, nor attending games. They’re also the ones who say we “don’t want them to win” for any number of stupid rationalizations, mostly based around draft-picks of one sort or other. These baseless opinions were addressed in the S-T’s Dan McGrath’s column titled “Give me something to root for”. McGrath was the sports editor at the Tribune, then was let-go during one of their purges since filing their CH-11.


He addresses the “prospects”/”draft picks”/whatever-argument promulgated by the aformentioned, self-appointed sports experts in this town thusly: “And the amateur draft, despite its preferred status as an instrument of team-building, remains an inexact science. Accounts of Derek Jeter’s retirement offered another example: Of the five players chosen ahead of him in 1992, only two — Phil Nevin and Jeffrey Hammonds — enjoyed what could be described as journeyman major-league careers. Ever hear of Chad Mottola? Who’s to say he wasn’t the Albert Almora of his day?”


He also mentions having to pay “premium prices for an inferior product”, which has been mentioned here previously and is true. Nobody is being forced to go to a ballgame, much less pay for the privilege, so the “literatis” have that one. That said, with my ongoing dotage, I would like to be able to turn on the TV; tune into a ballgame with a 50-50 shot at seeing a Cubs win and/or a decently-played ballgame as well. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so. Note, “and/or” denotes neither are expected to ocuur simultaneously. She-yit! Talk about lowered expectations!



-As mentioned, T-Bill, my oldest friend who’s also a Sox fan, mentioned that he doesn’t see them doing much this year. They’re in a tough division what with Detroit and Cleveland and Detroyit each winning over 90-geams. That said, they have more to base a hope on than their Nort’Side cousins.


I really like Chris Sale. That kid’s fun to watch.



-The ban on plate collisions is in effect thi9s year. I know some of you were “deckers”. I was, too, but in 16-inch softball. Nonetheless, that play’s part of the game.


Here’s the thing and feel free to weigh in on this. There’s a whole-lotta-guys in MLB who just don’t know how to slide anymore; don’t want to or just never bothered to learn. So what happens when a base-runner rounds 3rd; doesn’t get the “slide” sign from the on-deck hitter as the throw’s off to or from the right side; comes in standing up but the catcher gets it; turns to do a “sweep-tag” on him  and they collide? I broke a guy’s nose on a play just like that. He slid but late and therefore, high. I took the relay from our 2nd-baseman; turned and wound up “tagging” him on the bridge of his nose.


AND, if this is now illegal, what about the base-runner who plows into the pivotman on a double-play, besides being called out on an “Obstruction” call?



-Their ship ran aground in South Beach, yesterday. That’s OK. Yeah, the local sportsters were making the comparison that the Rose-less Bulls were facing the LeBron-Less Heat. The rest of the Heat’s still better. That said, Noah still had his “ark” afloat. He’s another guy I really like.



-Here’s something Bears fans may find interesting. In a recent story on SFC/UFAs, the only QB ranked higher than Josh McCown was Michael Vick. Thing is, Cutty’s got a rep for getting hurt and missing a game or two. Without McCown, they’da been in the same spot as my Packehs, last year. By that I mean losing more games than they won while Rodgers was on IR.


He may choose to leave unless they make him an offer that’s equal to — or better than –whatever else he gets.


-Speaking of free agents…my Packehs have a ton of ‘em and some decent to pretty good ones, too. Among them are WR, James Jones; C-Evan Dietrich-Smith, he of the Donkey-Kong Sue-stomp; FB, John Kuhn; TEs Jermicahel Finley, who may be done with football, period and Andrew Quarless; CBs Sam Shileds and Tramon Willams; DL Ryan Pickett and LB, Mike Neal.

They live and die by Thompson’s “draft and develop” credo, which of and by itself isn’t a bad thing. But few teams can afford to lose that many vets. Just ask the Ravens.



-DaHawks with Gold Medal-winning CanuckLanders: Toews, Sharp and Keith; USA’s Kaner, along with Fortress Europans: Hossa, Handzus, Kruger, Oduya, Hjalmarsson and Rosival start all over again on Thursday. More on them later this week.


OK,  it’s getting late and my heinie’s gettin’ flat so will sign-off for now with this. As the snow melts away, remember that any day we can look down at our rosebushes instead of up at their roots, it’s a good one…even if the “high” will only be 20-degrees.









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