Category Archives: Off Topic


The First Week of February

It’s only the first week of February and we have had an unusually mild winter, but it is even more unusual to see the daffodils and a few stray gladiolas already poking their heads above ground.

They are jumping the gun.


Normally this time of year the ground is frozen solid, there’s at least a six inch cover of snow and along the parking area is a wall of snow three to four feet high that doesn’t melt off till April.

This year there is nothing.


The first week of February I usually don’t even go looking for sprouts. March 1st is more toward normal, but bird feeders needed to be checked and there they were, sprouting already.

This corner is protected from the north and west, the prevailing directions of our cold winter winds and in the mornings the sun, when it appears, beats down on this spot and reflects off the house walls. It’s the only small section of the yard that stays snow free through the winter.

I could see why they’re jumping the gun. Yesterday it was 45 degrees out and this morning when I found them it was 41. Not normal for the first week of February around here.

They are in for a rude awakening though.

The next 7 days shows a few days with highs of 18 and lows of 6, but a little further out we’re back into the 40’s again. Almost spring like. And it will still be February.

The first week of February and already a false spring. I’ll take it along with the unusually mild winter we’ve had.

As the wife said, “this is why we need to move south, imagine it like this every winter.”

I can imagine that.

And I can also start planning for that to happen.



Welcome to Smallville

I knew the Welcome to Smallville mural was around somewhere, but for as many times that I drive through town, I’ve never bothered looking for it.

Didn’t bother looking for it this time, but I stopped at an intersection and there it was.

Forecast had been calling for partly cloudy skies all day, but I was sitting under a low, overcast sky with no clearing in sight. I had a feeling my sunset cruise was going to be cancelled due to lack of sun, so I decided to go wandering around in Smallville in areas where I normally don’t go.

This town has been around since the early 1800’s. There’s an old section down by the creek. Old sections of towns have old dumping grounds filled with old stuff. Figured I may as well start there. I like finding old, abandoned stuff.

And that I did.

Buried in and tumbling down a hill, old stuff all over the place.

I imagine 100 or 150 years ago… just throw that there stuff down the hill by the creek.

And that they did along with the occasional newer item, as you’ll see in the pictures below.

Nature is slowly winning this garbage battle, but I imagine it could be another century or so till it overtakes it completely and that depends on whether humans keep adding to the pile.

As a testament to our warm fall weather, I came across a fungus that I can’t recall ever seeing sprout this late in the season. We did have recent wet weather and for this area, relatively balmy temperatures.

These were huge, also much bigger than I normally see, one on each side of a big old tree standing at the base of this garbage dump.

I know it’s edible when it first sprouts like this and I toyed with the idea of taking a big chunk of it home for dinner. But the tree is a good 75 years old, growing at the base of this garbage dump for it’s whole life and I didn’t have the heart to hack off a chunk of this beautiful fungus that struggled to come out this time of year.

At that moment, it didn’t seem like the right thing to do.


Silver Springs Assholes

Went out to Silver Springs State Park to my usual spot far off in a field to see if the sunset would amount to anything.

I first heard the buzz of their little engines far off to the southwest. I assumed the landowners on the edge of the state park were out running around their fields.

I soon realized they were circling around me, off to the south, then off to the east. I knew they would be coming down the same trail I was standing in. I decided, the hell with them, I’m not moving.

Four of them came around the bend. I couldn’t see their faces because of the full helmets they were wearing, but their body language said “oh shit.”

I refused to move, they barely slowed down as I made them brush up against the tall grass.

As they went by I raised my camera and took a picture, then realized I still had the lens out to 300 mm and I knew it didn’t work. One of them saw me take the picture.


I fixed the lens to 55 and raised the camera. The one that saw me take the picture had turned around, stopped and was now facing me. I had the feeling he was going to come back to say something I had no interest in, so I called his bluff and stuck my hand in my pocket.

He had a decision to make. Am I going to take my hand out of my pocket with nothing more than my Little Dicky and car keys in my hand, all that I had in there, or, in this day and age of concealed carry, was I going to take something out of my pocket that could kill him. I would have preferred the latter, but me carrying a gun around is probably not a good idea.

The bluff worked, he spun around and I snapped off another shot as he left.


Every day it’s proven to me that the world is full of assholes that think the laws and rules don’t apply to them.

I didn’t think I would run into them out here, out in the middle of nowhere.

I come here to get away from the assholes.


Farnsworth House

In April of 2001, when the state of Illinois was considering the purchase of the Farnsworth House and the 62 acres of land it sits on along the Fox River, I wrote a letter and sent it to damn near everyone I knew at the time that had anything to do with conservation, along with sending it to the Letters sections of all the papers.

I knew that in 1996, when the Fox had a 100 year flood event, it inundated the Farnsworth House and it cost $250K to restore it. As the infamous WGN radio host Spike O’Dell said at the time of the 1996 floods… “What did you think was going to happen when you paved everything over, water’s gotta go somewhere.”

I had studied architecture and knew all about Mies and the historic significance of the house, why it was built the way it is and why it’s located where it is… and none of that mattered to me.

Apparently I made that quite clear in part of the letter I wrote back then.

Common sense dictates that you don’t build homes in floodplains.

I think the emphasis on why the State of Illinois should purchase the Farnsworth property needs to be reevaluated. The purchase of the house would include 62 acres of land that borders the Fox River. The land alone, with or without the inclusion of the house, should be purchased by the state.
The Farnsworth property is next to, and across the river from, Silver Springs State Park. Adding the 62 acres to Silver Springs would protect a beautiful stretch of the Fox River from development, and guarantee public access to a body of water that is quickly becoming surrounded by private property.
As for the house, if it is included in the purchase, it should be moved further back on the floodplain. I don’t think moving it will have any effect on its architectural integrity. In the long run, the move will save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in repair bills as the house will no longer get damaged by floods.

The picture at the top of this post is from April of 2013, never did bother looking into what it cost to repair it that time. I know there was another high water event just a few years earlier. Those pesky 100 year high water events decided to almost become a regular feature of the river.

I distinctly recall having a conversation about this back then and suggested moving the house to the edge of the cornfield up the hill to the north and east of where it now sits.

Flash forward 14 years to an article that was in the Tribune’s Beacon News on June 19, 2015:

Trust considers moving Mies van der Rohe home on the Fox River

One of the three options being considered is what I suggested 14 years ago.

Ultimately this has nothing to do with the Farnsworth House, the legacy of Mies van der Rohe or whether or not you like glass and steel buildings. I think the world could do just fine with a little less glass and steel.

For me it became a revelation as to why I get bored and disinterested with “issues” so quickly. I have no clue why my brain draws conclusions as quickly as it does, but for many years I’ve felt compelled to share these conclusions with others only to have them met with disinterest and ridicule.

Which is why I now consciously avoid saying much of anything regarding issues.

Yet here it is 14 years and at least two damaging flood events later, someone came up with the brilliant idea that maybe this building should be moved out of the way some how.

Well, there’s a novel idea.

Maybe by the time it gets out of committee and I happen to live to be 90, I’ll see it happen.

But I’m not banking on it.

In the mean time I think an opportunity is being missed.

I hear that on a nice, bright, sunny day the Farnsworth House turns into the world’s largest convection oven.

Imagine the cook offs that could be done.

Maybe this is what Mies intended for the Farnsworth House all along.


Trout Is Good With Beer

Trout IS good with beer. I’m sure I can pick a trout species and find the perfect Sam Adams flavor to pair with it.

I have no doubt there are those out there scoffing and have an extensive list of white wines that would be better if only they could actually get themselves to eat one of their precious trout.

But I like beer.

Which is all besides the point. Point being, I thought I made it perfectly clear here back in January 2014 that I no longer wanted to be a Trout Unlimited member.

There are no trout in Illinois and I see no point in traveling to fish for them.

It took a few attempts at unsubscribing from their email to finally get that to work, but apparently nobody at the Oakbrook Chapter of TU seems to understand what unsubscribe means no matter how many of those I send back. I’ll still get an occasional email from them.

The paper mail still remains relentless though.

Seems like every week I get another offer from TU to subscribe. Each time offering still another enticement. Like I need another 10 flies that I can add to the other 100 or so I’ve received from them over the years. All of which go unused.

For some reason though, no matter how junky I think the junk mail is, I’m compelled to open it and look it over before tossing it all in the recycling bin. With the latest enticement from TU was a bumper sticker. It was about to get recycled when I realized that with a little doctoring, it would make a nice addition on the back of the Piece ‘O Shit Mobile.

So, there it now sits.

I think it looks good.

I never did finish my Is Good With Beer™ series to include trout. I do have one for Carp already done and up on my Skreened store and other fish species have long been planned.


I’ll need to get this done soon.

After all, trout is good with beer.

I should know.