My Hinky Illinois I-Pass

Posted by Arthur in Illinois, Life in America

Yesterday I received in the mail our I-Pass transponder for the Illinois Tollway. The I-Pass is a little electronic box that we’ll attach to the windshield of our car. It allows you to drive through toll booths on toll roads without stopping, and you only pay half of the normall toll. If normally you have to pay $0.80 when you pass a toll then with the I-Pass it’ll only take $0.40 off your pre-paid account. Pretty good deal, and the transponder is basically free. You pay a $10 deposit for the device and have to charge it with $40 to start off. What could possibly go wrong?

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January 29th 2009 | 2:38 pm CET | 2 Comments »

Brita Water Filter from Target

Posted by Arthur in Shopping & Stuff

We bought two of these Brita water filter pitchers at Target the other day. They’re pink, to support breast cancer awareness, and they were marked down from $26.99 for only $13.48. I always find that tap water tastes too much like chlorine here, but with this excellent filtered pitcher our water taste great now. We no longer buy bottled water. The pitcher even has an indicator that tells you when to change the filter. The only thing I don’t like about it is the small lid in the top, it is not very secure and it keeps falling off. Otherwise it’s an excellent purchase.

I give it 4-and-a-half stars! 4.5 stars

Pink Brita water filter

January 28th 2009 | 3:13 am CET | No Comments »

Tintin Exhibit at Château de Cheverny

Posted by Arthur in Comic Books, Travel

Yesterday I wrote about the new Tintin movie by Steven Spielberg that started production this week. This reminds me of Château de Cheverny that we visited in the Loire Valley in France last year. Belgian comic book creator Hergé used Cheverny as a model for his fictional Marlinspike Hall (Château de Moulinsart in French), the residence of Captain Haddock. In the Tintin version the two outermost wings have been removed, but the rest is almost identical.

Marlinspike Hall and Chateau de Cheverny

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January 27th 2009 | 3:13 am CET | 3 Comments »

Shooting on Spielberg’s Tintin Begins

Posted by Arthur in Comic Books, Movies

Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment announced today that principal production has begun in Los Angeles on the first installment of a Tintin feature film, which will be directed by Steven Spielberg. The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn will be a 3D Motion Capture film to be released in 2011. I’m not a big fan of these motion capture films (I think The Polar Express with Tom Hanks looks just creepy) but maybe a comic book universe like that of Tintin should be animated. In any case I am very curious to see what Spielberg comes up with. They are already talking about a second (to be directed by Peter Jackson) and possibly a third film.

Cover of The Secret of the Unicorn

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January 26th 2009 | 9:57 pm CET | 2 Comments »

Tour of the ISS

Posted by Arthur in Space, Videos

Astronaut Michael Fincke, current commander of Expedition 18, gives a 4-part tour of the International Space Station with his hand-held camera. He arrived at the station aboard the Soyuz on October 14th, 2008 together with Russian cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov. What strikes me most about this video is the size of the place, it is larger than I thought it was, and the amount of stuff everywhere. There are wires, laptops, equipment, bags, tools and all kinds of stuff hanging all over the place. Astronaut Mike gives a great 35-minute tour of all the different areas of the space station. Very cool stuff.

You can find the other three parts here, here and here.

January 25th 2009 | 11:56 pm CET | No Comments »

Our Visit to Bald Eagle Watch 2009 at Starved Rock

Posted by Arthur in Birds, Nature

Today we drove down to Starved Rock State Park for the 12th annual Bald Eagle Watch. It was about a 2-hour drive and we got there nice and early at around 9 o’clock. The activities for the fair were split over two buildings: the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center on the north side of the Illinois River and the Starved Rock Lodge on the other side. There were educational programs, live raptor presentations, stands from companies and organizations and other activities in both buildings throughout the day.

We first stopped by at the visitor center and were immediately struck by all the Bald Eagles flying around and sitting in the trees:

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January 25th 2009 | 9:36 pm CET | 2 Comments »

Groundhog Days at Woodstock IL

Posted by Arthur in Illinois, Pop culture

One week from tomorrow is Groundhog Day, and we’re definitely going to check out the Groundhog Days Festival in Woodstock IL. The movie Groundhog Day was filmed in Woodstock in 1993, and the town has become a popular destination for fans of the cult classic. Every year on the days leading up to February 2nd, the city celebrates its movie history with many fun activities in the historic downtown.

Groundhog Days 2009

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January 25th 2009 | 3:13 am CET | 2 Comments »

10 Chicago Firsts: Famous Inventions

Posted by Arthur in Chicago, Illinois, Science & technology, Top Lists

Chicago is the home of the first African-American President of the United States, but it is also home to many other firsts, such as the world’s first ferris wheel and the world’s first McDonald’s. Here’s a list of ten Chicagoland firsts that you may not know about.

Home Insurance Building (1885-1890)
Home Insurance Building by drs2online

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January 24th 2009 | 3:13 am CET | 26 Comments »

Old School Skiing

Posted by Arthur in Forest Preserves

Today we went cross-country skiing at Old School Lake County Forest Preserve. They have some great skiing trails there and we had a lot of fun. Amy posted an article and some pictures on our birding blog Magnificent Frigatebird.

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January 23rd 2009 | 11:57 pm CET | No Comments »

Humongous Photo of Obama’s Inauguration

Posted by Arthur in Photos, Politics

Check out this huge picture of Barack Obama’s inauguration in Washington DC as he gave his speech. It’s a whopping 1,474 megapixels! You can zoom in and see all the faces of the people in the audience. I’ve been trying to find Oprah because I didn’t see her all day while watching the coverage on TV and I was wondering if she was even there. Can you find Oprah?

Huge photo of Obama's inauguration at Gigapan.org

 

January 23rd 2009 | 9:27 pm CET | No Comments »