Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Villa Nova Pizza in Stickney, IL

I was looking up Villa Nova's hours on Google, since I'm not used to ordering from them on a weeknight, and was moved to scribble something about Villa Nova pizza here.

Tomorrow is my son Daniel's birthday, and we're having a small family gathering at my mother-in-law's home to celebrate.  The typical birthday celebration there means pizza, cake and ice cream.  Here's what I have to say in my Villa Nova Pizza review on Google:

"This is my favorite pizza place.  The pizza has a very thin, almost flaky crust that has great flavor and stays very crispy around the outside of the pizza.  They cut it into squares "tavern" style.  When you order Villa Nova pizza with a group of people, make sure to call dibs on a 'corner' - one of the four triangular pieces.  On other pizzas it's the part that no one wants....on a Villa Nova pizza, people try to get them first - the crust is that good!  Their sausage is excellent.

Eating in there is a very minimalist experience, and just not for me.  My favorite is take out just as it's coming out of the oven, and getting it home while it's still piping hot."

Check 'em out.  I'm fairly certain you will not be disappointed.

Villa Nova Pizza's website

Villa Nova on Yelp!

And enticing shots of a Villa Nova sausage pizza.....yum!

Monday, August 4, 2014

How to cancel Comcast service online

Oh wait, you can't actually do that.  You have to call them.  Comcast TV and Internet is generally quite excellent, but if you need to do something that relates to giving Comcast LESS money, or there's a problem with your service?  They fucking SUCK.

Here's what came up when I entered the query "cancel service" on their "support" page.  Spectacular support I'd say.  Exceeds server limit indeed.

Bad Request

Your browser sent a request that this server could not understand.
Size of a request header field exceeds server limit.

Apache/2.2.15 (CentOS) Server at sitesearch.comcast.com Port 80

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lunching with Neil Steinberg

I had the honor today to lunch with Neil Steinberg, the Sun-Times columnist, writer, blogger and seemingly all-around decent person.  I was the lucky S.O.B. who correctly guessed his every-Saturday query "Where IS This?" on June 28th, when he decided to change up the prize from one of his posters or books to lunch with him.  Not many people read my mindless schlock here, but figured I'd give his blog a plug.  Thanks for lunch Neil, it was a pleasure meeting you, and you've solidified me as a reader of yours for life.

Every goddamn day - June 28th

No Longer 'Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor'

Posted: Updated: 
Print Article
"Give me your tired" and Republicans demand President Obama meet them at the border. Give me "your poor" and Republicans demand they be sent back immediately. Give me "your huddled masses" and Republicans demand there are not enough jobs for Americans already. Give me "yearning to breathe free" and Republicans demand President Obama be impeached because his policies have weakened border security and are too inviting. Give me "the wretched refuse of your teeming shore" and Republicans demand no thank you, they'll want to raise the minimum wage. Give me "send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me," and Republicans demand no immigration legislation, no pathways to citizenship, no back of the line. Give me "I lift my lamp beside the golden door," and Republicans demand to increase the National Guard and security cameras across the border with punishing signs "no longer give me yours."
Give me a surge of despairing women and children fleeing the misery of war and defying life-threatening odds and Republicans demand to purge them as welfare wannabes and maybe terrorists. Give me the dispiriting site of the crush of a humanitarian crisis at our border and Republicans demand to gag and curtain off Lady Liberty. Give me a president trying to dance in the middle and do right and Republicans demand recalcitrance. Give me hope and Republicans demand despair and fear. Give me a president that will not run for anything again and Republicans demand to poke a hole and drain his lame duck pond. Give me President Obama accusing Republicans of playing political theater and I give you President Obama playing political theater. Please, political elite class, no longer give me "your" inaction and divisive heartless sound bites.
This so-called "surge" of fifty thousand or so women and children are not in over-crowded refugee camps in Europe, Asia, Africa, or the Middle East. They are not trying to steal themselves into America. They are not a risk but are handing themselves over as victims displaced by war. Many are here to reconnect with their family already melted into the pot. There is no need for political finger-pointing to agitate one's political base over this crisis. Folks are already disgusted enough. This is happening at our border and although rare, this is not an unprecedented humanitarian border crisis for America.
Back in 1980, America managed another humanitarian border crisis. During the Mariel boat lift episode, well over 125,000 Cuban refugees that flooded Miami between a Fidel Castro and Cuban-American organized exodus were assimilated amongst the free and the brave. Many families were reunited for the first time. But crafty communist chameleon Fidel Castro slipped into the huddled masses many of Cuba's undesirables, their prisoners and mentally ill to free Cuba of this unwanted economic burden. Americans proudly lived up to Lady Liberty's ideal until discovery of Castro's ruse created such a political nightmare for President Carter that he had to turn off the "lamp at the golden door" to plug the dike to stop the leakage of "the wretched refuse of your teeming shore."
History also reminds us of "The Voyage of the Damned," where American's response was tragic, pathetic, and political. In 1939, the ship MS St. Louis carrying almost 1,000 huddled masses of "the wretched refuse" of German-Jews seeking asylum in the land of yearning to breathe free was turned away and had to return to a Europe being swallowed up by Nazism. Frantic anti-Semitism, especially from Southern Democrats, put pressure on President Roosevelt to lock the golden door.
Here is what needs to happen in our current crisis. Stop listening to wannabe-presidential-guy-in-2016 Texas Governor Rick Perry from ground zero trying to score points with some "constituency" as he explains this mess from his perspective, which sounds as though he must still be eating those painkillers that screwed up his shallow and foolish presidential run in 2012.
President Obama should go to the border "lifting the lamp beside the golden door." He should be photographed hugging the children and taking in the sorrowful sight of fleeing refugee children and mothers of war-torn Hispanic nations to remind the world that the man of drones and meta-data surveillance is compassionate and deserves his premature Nobel Peace Award. Why not hug the suffering, that's what politicians always do best.
As well, Senators and Congressmen throughout the land should be the first one on their block to go down to the border lifting up the lamp, hug the huddled masses and finally do some real work, spend time as relief volunteers, and while doing so, find commonality in their new found humanity to pass the best border and immigration reform legislation. They could even bring their bibles. No harm done. These are the images Americans need and deserve to see. No longer give me politics marketed in miserly, xenophobic, selfish, myopic, nihilistic and pettiness behavior. Pass the budget to pay the bills to keep the lamp lit to inspire our world.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Post from summer of 2011

Copying this here since I'm deleting the blog this came from originally.

I just got a Nikon Coolpix S9100 and it's rekindling my interest in photography.  When I was younger I was very interested in landscape and abstract photography.  Nowadays I'm more interested in the much simpler daily snapshot sort of pictures.  It takes a lot less effort, that's for sure!  So I'm going to start posting some of the pictures I'm taking with my new camera as I get familiar and experiment with it.  It's a GREAT camera BTW, though a bit expensive for a point-and-shoot.

A great friend got me this appearance card signed by Ron Kittle!!  Showing how much detail the camera picks up.  Pretty impressive!

My son Daniel being silly.

My car - 2005 Honda Civic EX Special Edition.  I love it.

ATM that I use a lot.

Damage at the family house from the June 21, 2011 storm.  They had no power for two days.

Driving east on Ogden Ave. at La Grange Road in La Grange, IL

Thursday, July 3, 2014

SCOTUS ruling on abortion clinics reminds us: Women fair game - Chicago Sun-Times

I have three very dear friends who have devoted their lives to religious endeavors, so I find myself biting my tongue a lot out of respect for their beliefs.  Every once in a while, I come across something that speaks to me more deeply than most.  I have neither the fortitude nor the capability (I tell myself) to express my thoughts and beliefs well, so periodically I gently borrow from others who do.  This is from Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times.  Here's a link to his blog where he posts entertaining and often enlightening pieces at least once per day, as well as his Sun-Times articles (which are equally entertaining and enlightening):   http://www.everygoddamnday.com/

SCOTUS ruling on abortion clinics reminds us: Women fair game - Chicago Sun-Times

SCOTUS ruling on abortion clinics reminds us: Women fair game

Police federal marshals remove anti-abortiprotesters from driveway clinic WichitKansas 1974.  |  Sun-Times library
Police and federal marshals remove anti-abortion protesters from the driveway at a clinic in Wichita, Kansas, in 1974. | Sun-Times library
Updated: June 30, 2014 2:17AM

If only women got divorced, but not men, then they might, on their way to consult divorce lawyers, have to push through a gantlet of abuse from self-proclaimed advocates of the sanctity of marriage, urging them to cling to their marital vows, no matter how dismal a prospect that might be.
But men also get unhitched, thankfully, so society permits both sexes to breeze through the process unencumbered, or at least unencumbered by the unwelcome intrusion of strangers telling them what to do.
Only a woman can get an abortion, however, so the rules change. Women, even in the United States, even in 2014, represent a second class of citizen who can be harassed to a degree seldom directed toward men.
Don’t get mad at me for pointing it out.
There are many angles to approach this: ethical, social and of course legal, as the U.S. Supreme Court reminded us last week, when it unanimously rejected a Massachusetts law requiring a 35-foot buffer zone between the protesters who gather to confront, howl at and, yes, occasionally “counsel” women trying to enter clinics.
This is, it saddens me to say, the legally correct decision; we can’t have laws handcrafted to stop a certain kind of speech at a certain sort of place (which is why a similar law in Chicago might withstand scrutiny, since it affects all health care facilities, even though nobody is confronting patients heading to get their flu shots, at least not yet). That urge, if indulged, could unravel the First Amendment. A law aimed to prevent the Westboro Baptist Church from showing up at military funerals with their neon “GOD HATES FAGS” signs would end up stopping people from showing up at Bruce Rauner rallies with “RAUNER’S A FRAUD” signs, and we need more, not less, of those.
But law is only one facet, only a rough approximation of our values, a blurry mirror. Law often misses truth. It sure does if you read the SCOTUS ruling, with its fantasy of grandmotherly counselors leading confused teens away from the abortion abattoirs. The truth is, if women entering clinics only faced, in the words of the Pro-Life Action League, “this peaceful ministry consist[ing] of gently reaching out to women,” then such “buffer zone” laws as the one struck down would never have been enacted. Nobody is trying to squelch those chipper young Save the Children canvassers who invade Michigan Avenue every summer. They might annoy, but they don’t threaten the way anti-abortion protesters do routinely.
The implicit threat, conveyed by tone, volume, proximity and past attacks, carries a burden that the law doesn’t see. Like Westboro, they carefully choose a moment of vulnerability. We are so accustomed to these encounters, so inured with their talk of notional babies, we forget that, stripped of dogma, these are groups trying to press their religious beliefs upon the unwilling.
Men would never permit it. Take another process that requires a person to enter a place — say, buying a car. Let’s say my reading of the Bible led me to believe that buying new cars is sin, and I led bands of believers to try to persuade people not to buy cars.
How long do you think society would allow my co-religionists to cluster around the doors of dealerships, displaying huge placards of starving children in Africa and fish killed by pollution and other supposed fallout from the evils of new car ownership?
Answer: not long.
Critics of the Supreme Court ruling point out that the Supreme Court itself uses law to keep protesters far at bay.
“A painted line on the sidewalk is easy to enforce, but the prime objective of the First Amendment is not efficiency,” sniffed Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., secure in the knowledge that he can go about his business without having to pass through a mob, which is not something abortion clinic workers nor their patients can claim.
The powerful always see to themselves. The powerless, aka women, particularly young women entering abortion clinics, need society to have their backs. We allow this abuse to take place because abortion is a grotesque procedure we’d rather not think about. Maybe it’s time we did instead of yielding the field to religious fanatics. We wouldn’t allow it elsewhere. Wouldn’t allow temperance bands to block bar entrances, nor church groups to block football stadium gates, trying to “counsel” fans to go to church instead. We can’t look to law to solve this problem. Instead, we should ask: What can we do to change things? To stop living in a society where it can be sincerely suggested that women lack the ability to make moral choices for themselves? How can we thwart those who deny women their rights?
Email: nsteinberg@suntimes.com
Twitter: @NeilSteinberg

Friday, June 20, 2014

4 strikes, you’re out: CTA bus bump sparks chain reaction of fear - Chicago Sun-Times

4 strikes, you’re out: CTA bus bump sparks chain reaction of fear - Chicago Sun-Times

Updated: June 20, 2014 2:21AM

It wasn’t much as far as accidents go.
No fireball. No fatalities. No screeching tires. In fact, one car wasn’t even moving, according to Bruce Hopkins, who was sitting in his blue Volvo wagon at the intersection of Courtland and Hermitage earlier in June, his 3-year-old son strapped in the back seat. They had just been to a class at the Old Town School of Folk Music.
A Chicago Transit Authority bus, trying to turn left, bumped into his car.
“The side of the bus is getting closer and closer, and I’m thinking, ‘Surely not,’ ’’ Hopkins said. “Surely they’re going to realize it’s too close. I’m tooting my horn and thinking: ‘Hang on. This isn’t going to happen.’ ”
As the alert reader will suspect, from the “surely not” and the “hang on,” that Hopkins is British, married to Natasha Loder, the Midwest correspondent for The Economist, someone I’ve shared a number of pleasant hours, trading tales of Rahm Emanuel. That’s how the story came to me, but not why I’m writing about it. I’m writing about it because of what happened after the bus hit Hopkins’ car.
The driver of the bus got out and accused Hopkins of driving into her.
Rather than being indignant, Hopkins really pegs himself as a fair-minded Brit by sympathizing with the dissembling driver.
“What really struck me,” he said, ignoring the bus, “is why would a bus driver feel, laying aside the possibility that they genuinely believed that a car stopped at a four-way stop sign was moving, why would a driver not feel able to say, ‘Sorry, mate.’ The level of fear somebody must feel that they can’t admit a simple mistake. People are generally decent. Why would somebody make something up about something so trivial?”
Why indeed. He went online, where all our answers dwell, and found bus “drivers, after a third accident, they’re fired.”
Actually, like much online, that isn’t true.
It’s four. CTA drivers get four accidents before they’re sacked, to use the U.K. term.
“If you have four minor accidents within two years, you can be discharged,” CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said. “If you were to have a major accident, you can be dismissed for up to one serious accident.”
Being British, Hopkins was not so much aghast at the minor damage or inconvenience, as the fear in the driver’s face.
“It seems terrible,” he said. “I don’t think a little scrape where nobody was hurt merits such a thing, or the fear of such a thing, particularly in a country such as America where losing your job can be disastrous for them and their family. Their health care comes with their job. People with chronic illness are going to die.”
See, that’s why we Americans are so loath to get an overseas perspective, to read magazines like The Economist (really, you should, it’s like having an extra brain). Because then we have to gaze into the mirror, full on, at just how screwed up we are. Get in a fender bender and your children may die.
“Why is the driver put in a position where they feel it’s necessary to not come clean about it?” Hopkins persisted. “What is CTA policy? Do they have instructions to deny liability? It wouldn’t surprise me.”
I asked Chase if they tell drivers to deny liability. Perhaps inevitably, she denied it.
“Our operators are definitely not instructed to deny anything,” Chase said. “There’s no truth to that.” She also pointed out that buses are silly with cameras, so assessing what happened is not much of an issue.
“If need be, there are disciplinary procedures,” she said.
Hopkins is concerned, but not for himself.
“In the global scheme of things, if the worst thing to happen in summer is the day your Volvo gets a bit of a scrape, the American dream still has a decent pulse from where you’re standing,” he said. “It’s troubling that someone would feel it necessary to not be able to fess up to simple misjudgment where nobody was hurt. Probably happens 100 times a day, every day. It should be no big deal, and it is ridiculous to be that upset about it. That’s what insurance companies are for. There shouldn’t be these severe consequences.
“I don’t believe the driver is a bad person, or anything would just make that up ...” he continued. “I kinda feel someone’s got to be incentivized by fear of consequences. The system shouldn’t be arranged that way. America should have a socialized health care system, so [if] somebody loses their job over something trivial, their dependent with a chronic health condition doesn’t die.”
But that isn’t the American way. Speaking of which, the CTA reviewed the bus’s video and this week told Hopkins what he already knew: The accident was their fault.
Email: nsteinberg@suntimes.com
Twitter: @NeilSteinberg