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My Hinky Illinois I-Pass, Part 2

Posted on February 22nd 2009 by Arthur in Illinois, Life in America

(see part 1 for the beginning of this saga) It’s been over three weeks since I was instructed by the Illinois I-Pass service desk to send my I-Pass back. I had received it in the mail last month after ordering it online, but the activation code and account number were missing. When I called the service desk at the end of last month they told me to send it back and they’d send a new one. I included a cover letter explaining what happened. After three weeks I had still not heard back from them. I called them yesterday and this time another person, who seemed be more knowledgeable than the first one, explained to me that I-Passes ordered online are already activated! She put me on hold for about 15 minutes as she searched for my I-Pass and letter, but never found it. She was surprised that I didn’t understand that I-Passes ordered online are already activated and told me that I should not have sent it back. WTH?! More »

Foto Friday: Redpoll on the Birdcam

Posted on February 6th 2009 by Arthur in Birds, Foto Friday, Illinois

Today our Wingscapes Birdcam captured a Common Redpoll snacking on nyger seed among the usual American Goldfinches. This is the 15th bird to be snapped by the birdcam. These birds are usually sparse in Northern Illinois but this area is seeing a finch invasion this winter. How cool is that?

Common Redpoll


Kevin Costner Brings Minor League Baseball to Lake County Illinois

Posted on February 3rd 2009 by Arthur in Illinois

Kevin Costner playing baseballThis just in: Academy Award winner Kevin Costner, who played in baseball movies Field of Dreams and Bull Durham, is part of a baseball team ownership group that has selected Zion IL, right here in Lake County, as the site for a new Northern League baseball team!

The minor league team, which is still to be named, will begin playing in May 2010. Construction on a new stadium will start this summer. The new team will play in the Northern League. There will be an upcoming Name the Team Contest, where fans will be involved in submitting name entries, with lucky winners chosen among the entries.

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Bing! Six More Weeks of Winter

Posted on February 2nd 2009 by Arthur in Illinois, Weather

Woodstock Willie, Chicagoland’s most famous weather prognosticator, saw his shadow today in Woodstock and predicted six more weeks of winter. 🙁 The ceremony on Woodstock Square took place this morning shortly after 7am, after several days of events including a tour of the filming sites. Willie emerged from his tree stump (after we saw his handler put him in 15 minutes earlier, and the groundhog almost escaped!) and gave the bad news to Woodstock Mayor ­Brian Sager.

Mayor Brian Sager finds out if Willie saw his shadow

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Groundhog Days in Woodstock Part 2

Posted on February 1st 2009 by Arthur in Illinois, Movies

(continued from part 1) So we were waiting outside the Opera House for the tour of the filming sites in Woodstock and at 1:25pm we were still the only ones there. A police officer of the WPD confirmed that we were in the right place for the tour, but where was everybody? Then all of a sudden people poured out of the Opera House, where they had been for a Chili Cookoff, as they do in Punxutawney. There were about 50 people in the tour, which was led by Bob Hutchins, the location manager of Groundhog Day. He gave us a great insight in the filming of the movie and all the different filming locations in Woodstock. First off he explained how they chose the town of Woodstock.

Woodstock 055 (31-Jan)

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Groundhog Days in Woodstock Part 1

Posted on February 1st 2009 by Arthur in Illinois, Movies

Today we went to Woodstock for Groundhog Days. Since the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray was filmed in Woodstock, the town has been celebrating the days leading up to the February 2nd holiday with events inspired by the movie. We participated in an awesome walking tour of the filming sites with Bob Hutchins, who was location manager for the movie, and at 10:00 this morning we saw a free show of the movie Groundhog Day at Woodstock Theater.

Woodstock 027 (31-Jan)

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My Hinky Illinois I-Pass

Posted on January 29th 2009 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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Groundhog Days at Woodstock IL

Posted on January 25th 2009 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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10 Chicago Firsts: Famous Inventions

Posted on January 24th 2009 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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Environmental Foto Friday: Hybrid Vehicle Parking

Posted on January 23rd 2009 by Arthur in Environment, Forest Preserves, Foto Friday, Illinois

I love the Lake County Forest Preserves. They are doing such an excellent job, with 125 miles of trails, 26,800 acres of nature preserves, informative visitor centers and great facilities. We’re new residents here in Illinois’ Lake County, and with all the snow and cold weather we haven’t been able to enjoy the forest preserves so much yet these last few months. But come spring and summer I’m sure we’ll explore as many trails as we can. We’ve even got a canoe here, so we can try out some of the canoe launches.

The other day we were at Ryerson Woods Welcome Center, which is just 4 miles from where we live. The parking lot at the new Welcome Center had several parking spaces for hybrid vehicles only! Isn’t that cool? I had never seen this before. Next to the usual handicapped spaces they had some with signs that said “Hybrid Vehicles Parking”. Here’s a picture if you don’t believe me:


And a close-up if you can’t read the sign:

Hybrid Vehicle Parking