Friday, October 14, 2011

Well, Blow Me Down!

Thought for the day: The subject of criminal rehabilitation was debated recently in City Hall. It's an appropriate place for this kind of discussion because the city has always employed so many ex-cons and future cons.  Mike Royko

I understand it's a little windy in Chicago. I've never been there, but our youngest son attended school at Chicago's Illinois Institute of Technology, which, by the way, some magazine or another voted the school that looked most like a penitentiary. Anyway, when he was offered a full ROTC scholarship to attend that school, I warned him up and down about the frigid winters, but he assured me of how much he LOVED cold weather.

(Yeah, right. He was born and raised in Georgia. What did HE know about cold weather?)

Our concerns notwithstanding, he accepted the scholarship and set off for the Windy City. His first winter there was a record-setting one. For high temperatures. Piece of cake, right? The second year, however, set records in the opposite direction, and was unrelentingly cold, windy, and snowy for weeks on end. So, when he called me, I figured he was finally gonna admit that the cold weather was more than he'd bargained for ... not that I would've ever said, "I told you so." (But I was thinking it!) But no. He told me, "This is so NEAT! As soon as you walk outside, you can feel the hair in your nose freeze!"

So (ahem) turns out he really DOES like cold weather.

Okey dokey, let's take a virtual whirlwind tour of Illinois before we make fun of some of their laws.

This is Abraham Lincoln's home, located in Springfield. Before he was elected president, he served in the Illinois legislature, and practiced law in Springfield. With Lincoln's ties to Illinois, it should come as no surprise that in 1865, Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.

Like his home, Lincoln's tomb, just outside Springfield, is also a National Historical Site.    

Illinois is also home to the largest catsup bottle in the world. The 170-foot tower, located beside route 159 near Collinsville, was built in 1949.

On December 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi and a group of scientists built what you see in the drawing on the left. Constructed on a transformed squash court under a section of stands at the University of Chicago's Stagg football field, this stack of uranium-embedded carbon blocks successfully demonstrated the production of controlled heat. Called a pile, this was actually the first man-made nuclear fission reactor.  [Photo courtesy of University of Chicago archival photograph files.]

 In 1947, a plaque was unveiled at  the University of Chicago to commemorate Fermi's achievement. It reads: On December 2, 1942, man achieved here the first self-sustaining chain reaction and thereby initiated the controlled release of nuclear energy. [Photo courtesy of University of Chicago archival photograph files.]  Fermi is second from the right.  

On April 15, 1955, Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald's in  Des Plaines, Illinois. That building was demolished in 1984, and then rebuilt according to the original blueprint. It is now a museum.

The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, in Collinsville, documents the history of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico.


 The Home Insurance Building, built in 1885, was the world's first skyscraper, at 138 feet, and ten stories. Alas, it was demolished in 1931.

When the Sears Tower was built in 1974, it was the tallest building in the world, a title it maintained for nearly twenty years.

During prohibition, Chicago was notorious for bootlegging and mobsters. The infamous St. Valentine's Massacre of 1929 is depicted at the left. (There are actual gruesome photographs on the web, but I preferred this shot of Chicago policemen reenacting the event.) Al Capone hired hit men and ordered a hit on his arch-rival "Bugs" Moran. The hit men, disguised as policemen, arrived at the garage to do the dirty deed, but Moran wasn't there. Five of Moran's men, a mechanic, and an optometrist who "got a kick out of hanging around with gangsters" were lined up against the wall and shot in the back in a barrage of gunfire.

Time to move on, and check out those laws:


  • It's against the law to wear saggy pants. (That's saggy, not soggy. Of course, if they're real soggy, they're also apt to sag.)
  • You can be arrested for vagrancy if you don't have at least a dollar on your person. 
  • You must contact police before entering the city in an automobile. (I have a feeling this one's been on the books for a LONG time.)
  • It's illegal for a woman over 200 pounds to ride a horse in shorts.
  • The English language isn't to be spoken. (Only "American.")
  • In Champaign, it's against the law to pee in your neighbor's mouth. (There was actually a need to write this one down???)
  • In Chicago, it's illegal to eat in a place that's on fire. (But it's the hottest spot in town, officer ...)
  • Can't give a dog whiskey in Chicago, either. (Better stick to beer.)
  • It's also illegal to fish while sitting on a giraffe's neck. (Really? What's with all these giraffe laws?)
  • And you may not drink beer out of a bucket while sitting on the curb. (For Heaven's sake, stand UP! And while you're at it, pull up those pants!)
  • It's only legal to protest naked in front of Chicago's city hall if you're under seventeen and have a legal permit.
  • In Cicero, no humming allowed on public streets on Sundays.
  • In Des Plaines, wheelbarrows with For-Sale signs may not be chained to trees. (Booooorn freeee...)
  • In Evanston, bowling is forbidden. (Now, that's downright un-American!)
  • In Galesburg, no person may keep a smelly dog. (A law obviously enacted by people who never owned a dog who tears into the back yard, still wet from a bath, to roll in the first putrid thing he finds.) 
  • It's also illegal in Galesburg to burn bird feathers. (In case you were wondering.)
  • And you can earn a one thousand dollar fine for beating rats with a baseball bat. (Use a hockey stick.)
  • In Horner, it's against the law to use a slingshot, unless you're a law enforcement officer.
  • In Kenilworth, a rooster must step back three hundred feet from any residence if he wishes to crow. (So, do his owners have to mark the distance for him, or does he get his own tape measure?)
  • In Kirkland, bees aren't allowed to fly over the village or through any of Kirkland's streets. (Who's gonna stop them?)
  • In Normal, it's against the law to make faces at dogs. (Aw, come on! It's ... normal ... to make faces at some dogs.)
  • In Winnetka, you aren't allowed to remove your shoes in a theater if your feet stink. (So, who gets to tell that snarling 350-pound biker to put his boots back on?)
  • And finally, in Zion, it's illegal to give lit cigars to dogs, cats, or any other domesticated animal. (Stick to chewing tobacco, or let 'em light it themselves.)

Okay, boys and girls, this brings us once again to (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Srories of the Week

***  A family of four, including a three-week-old infant, got so hopelessly lost in a corn maze, poor ol' Dad had to call 911 for help. The sun was fading fast on Conner Farm, in Danvers, Massachusetts, so they ended operations for the day, unaware that stragglers were still wandering among the cornstalks. Until police showed up with a rescue dog, that is. Didn't take long to find the corn-fused family, either. Turns out, they were only twenty-five feet from the street. Not sure why they were unable to see the street lights or hear the traffic, but it's a safe bet the family won't be visiting a haunted house this year. They've already had their Halloween scare for the year.

[from YouTube]
***  Most people pace themselves to last through a marathon, but Brett Henderson streaked right past the other runners like they were standing still. Wait, no. He didn't streak past; he streaked. As in, wearing no clothes. His mother claims the borrowed shorts he was wearing kept falling down, so I guess kicking them to the curb was his solution. Police say otherwise, and call him a narcissist who refused to stop when ordered to do so. It took additional persuasion from a Tazer to bring him down. The offense occurred in May, during Cincinnati's Flying Pig Marathon, and the Ohio judge finally made his ruling this week. Henderson is banned from flying with the pigs in any future marathons. Flying pigs, they like. But the naked truth is, unfettered bouncing balls they can do without.

***  How do I love thee? More than the stars in the sky, the raindrops in a hurricane, the grains of sand on the beach. The grains of sand on a particular Cornwall beach, that is. And how much is that, you ask? I'll have to get back to you. Researchers are counting them now. That's right. Researchers from Australia, England, and the United States are conducting an erosion study to determine whether beaches are shrinking or being replaced. So, they're determining how sand moves by ... er ... counting it? The researchers have been planning this study for the past five years, and have some very sophisticated machines and a bank of computers to help them. Dr. Ian Turner said, "For every wave that runs up on the beach, the instruments used in this field study will give information on the transport of sand in the water column, the movement of the sea itself, and the net change in the beach shape." So, whatcha think? I'm thinking most of the locals would've been more than happy to give them an earful about how much that beach has eroded over the years. Hmmm, could be another Ig Nobel in the making.

***  What's not to love about a doctor who still makes house calls? For free! Only problem is, this boob wasn't a doctor. He wasn't as obvious as the dude in the picture, but this guy did go door-to-door with little black bag in hand, generously offering to perform free breast exams on unsuspecting (and unbelievably gullible) women. The Florida man was 76 years old when the authorities charged him with multiple counts of sexual battery and practicing medicine without a license, and now, at 81, his lawyers and prosecutors have allegedly reached an agreement. The judge will be ruling on the sentencing later this month. Dunno what that sentence is gonna be, but maybe those women he molested could come up with an appropriate one. Like maybe a few prostate exams or colonoscopies performed by volunteers?

                                       Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. First of all, I saw the news article about the family lost in the cornfield. Sorry, but they ought to be charged with some of the cost of the call. I've seen pictures -- there's signs throughout the maze to help you get out, not to mention you can just push through the cornstalks if you're desperate!

    I would love to see the ruins of Cahokia! But I'm guessing only the mounds are left. Still, it would be awesome.

    As for the giraffe laws, I figure the only explanation is a traveling circus where the giraffe-handler liked to take his animal pal out fishing in the local spots ... thus spurring anti-giraffe fishing laws everywhere he went.

  2. Believe it or not, I remember those old McDonalds. We used to have one on Route 6 in East Providence, and if we were very good, my mother would take us there for a treat. 5 cents was a lot of money to spend on kids back in those days.

  3. So an old guy with a black bag knocks on a door and offers to give the lady a free breast exam. Gullible women, no, me thinks there might be some Desperate Housewives out there.

  4. Ah one time fairly good food for a reasonable for a fortune.
    I think I'm going to start my own country...giraffes allowed, McDonalds prohibited. Any joiners?

  5. Only a boy would find great joy in his nose hair freezing. :)

  6. Hooray for Yammy Fridays and The Town That Billy Sunday Could Not Shut Down (I love Chicago)!

  7. "It's illegal for a woman over 200 pounds to ride a horse in shorts."

    What if the horse isn't wearing shorts? *grin*

    What is it about seeing your lists of illegal activities that makes me want to break all those laws?

  8. Susan, you've such a way with words - "the naked truth is, unfettered bouncing balls they can do without." tee he he

  9. Hi, y'all. Thanks so much for your comments.

    Dianne- I agree. It doesn't sound like they put much effort into trying to find their way out of that maze. My internal compass may be seriously out of whack, but I can read the heck out of signs. Hey, you could be onto something ... your theory about the giraffe laws is as good as any.

    Anne- I remember when the first McD's opened up in our area, too. Fifteen cents for a burger, and we actually thought they were tasty.

    Arleen- HA! You may have a point!

    Delores- Not sure if the taste of McD's food got that much worse over the years, or if our taste got that much better. And count me in on your country. Let's make it somewhere with moderate temperatures, okay?

    Connie- Ain't that the truth? Now, that son who loved cold weather so much lives in Florida with his wife and kids. (And hates the heat.)

    Austan- Yammy Fridays. Love it!

    Linda- I thought the same thing about the horse wearing shorts. (Great ... or is it weird? ... minds think alike.)

    Kara- Thanks. Glad to make you smile.

    Take care. I hope you all have a super weekend.

  10. Oh and one more thing Illinois is famous for-- Jacksonville, Illinois is the setting for my two Diamond novels! Yay!!! Jacksonville has 4 colleges-- Illinois College, MacMurray College (both private schools, very expensive), The School for the Deaf and the School for the Blind. It used to be home to the State Mental Hospital, but that was closed down in the seventies when the govt closed down all the state mental hospitals and let the residents out (leading to a huge homeless population). Just a few facts about one of my favorite towns! If you want to know more, read my books LOL.

    Go Illini!

  11. Hi, Karen. Way cool! Thanks for adding the personal touch. I plan on reading your books (along with those of a lot of other blogger pals) as soon as I get a Kindle. That's what I told my hubby I want for Christmas (if I can wait that long!) Take care.

  12. I'm not sure what was most shocking in this Friday's edition. But I sense some weird dreams coming tonight!

  13. Came here via Anne Gallagher's blog, and am so glad I did...the laws and the weird news brought me smiles!!

  14. I love Chi-town! One of my favorite places to visit. We have the same winters here so I am pretty used to the nose hairs freezing. :-) Happy weekend!!

  15. AG (above) says she would be taken to McDonald's for a treat. I've never been to one, but I understand that it's more of a punishment!

    Burning feathers should be banned EVERYWHERE.

  16. Lord love a duck! At the very least (and this is the very least), you have finally explained why the chicken crosses the road, at least in Illinois. And I'm with your son. (Not literally, Mom.) Put me on a greased plate and spin me, and I'll point north. I don't know if it's seeking cold or being repelled by heat, or just my Norwegian ancestry percolating up.

  17. are the "finish the limerick" winner. Email me your mailing address and jelly beans will be headed your way.

  18. Hi, Carrie. If you have weird dreams, blame it on the frog.

    Damyanti- Hi, and welcome aboard. Nice to know I made someone on the other side of the world smile. Thank you so much for visiting and for signing on as a follower. Hope to hear from you again soon.

    Tracy Jo- It seems that a lot of people are smitten with Chicago. Not sure I'd want to be there in the dead of winter, though. Freezing nose hairs don't float my boat. You have a wonderful weekend, too.

    Cro- Well, let's just say McD's isn't exactly a gourmet food kinda place. Their "milk shakes" are made of some unknown milk shake-like powdery substance, and I've seen better looking paddies in the middle of a cow pasture. Not my eating place of choice, but most kids seem to like it.

    Murr- There ya go, grasshopper. (Then again, in some city in Idaho, it's illegal for a chicken to even cross the road ...) As far as the cold weather goes, I don't mind visiting it, but I have no desire to live in it again.

    Delores- Woo HOO! I'm a jelly bean addict. Thank you, ma'am.

  19. Diane Salerni makes a lot of sense about the giraffes. I've noticed a lot of states where you mention the giraffe laws. :)
    I'm lucky the police never looked in my purse when I was in Chicago. Nary a buck.
    Tazer the runner?? Poor guy was only trying to win a race. I say if you don't like what you see, look the other way and let the guy run. :)

    Hard to believe how divided the country was in 1865. Illinois ratifying the 13th amendment following the war and out west they didn't know what the heck was going on in their craze for gold mining.
    Another excellent post, Susan.

  20. Hi, Manzie. You're right about how divided the country was in the 1860s, but in some ways, our country is awfully divided now, too. In different ways, but divided is still divided. And it's still a shame. Thank you for stopping by, dear lady. It's always good to hear from you.

  21. Ha! those laws are hilarious, as are your asides.

  22. Hi, Marcy. Thanks. Glad you enjoyed them.

  23. Okay, uh, I went to college in Vermont. What your son felt happens there too...and weirdly, it is cool. Even funnier is when you are foolish enough run to class with wet hair...your head clinks when you shake it.

  24. Hi, Liza. Well, now, I just feel deprived, because I've never had that particular ... er... pleasure. It got plenty cold in Maryland, but I can't ever remember my nose hairs going clunk. At school, swim class was on the opposite side of campus from chem class, so I never had time to dry my hair, either. Got plenty cold (and got plenty OF colds) but no frozen hair. Thanks for posting your comments, Liza. I do appreciate it. (And I don't REALLY feel deprived...)