Teddy Returns: Dog Cat Diplomacy Summit

Back on 3/2/11 I blogged about Teddy who is a maltipoo rescue dog we boarded last year, who helped inspire us to board dogs regularly as a home business with our www.BarneysHomeDogBoarding.com. ¬†Here’s the old post from March 2 about how much we love Teddy.

dog jumping
Who knows when inspiration will jump into your lap? ūüôā

Well after a long hiatus Teddy is back! ¬†Here is Teddy today jumping into my lap. ¬†Today he had a nice car ride with us, a few walks in today’s sunshine, and he is about to dine on the raw food that his parents left with us for him to eat. ¬†He also had a good time stirring up the next door neighbor’s three chihuahuas by sniffing them through our fence and having a barking party with them. ¬†ūüôā

Teddy is pretty cat friendly since we were able to give him socialization to cats by boarding him earlier in his puppy life.  Unfortunately one of our cats YoYo runs away scared from him, and he still finds it very fun to chase him.  The other two have a moderate truce with him, and have taught him to be respectful of them.

dog sniffing two cats
Dog-Cat Diplomacy Summit

Here I am with Teddy today letting him nose kiss the cats in a safe non-chasing environment. ¬†The cat in the right foreground is YoYo who still runs from him when they are both on the ground. ¬†There has been progress though. ¬†At the end of YoYo’s run to higher ground his tail is no longer fluffed. ¬†He doesn’t really think Teddy is about to murder him anymore. ¬†In his (fear-distorted) mind Teddy is no longer a huge monster, just a mean doggie. ¬†It’s progress!

The Global Activism Radio Series & its free upcoming Expo

Global activism - you can make a difference
Expand your world, help others, & have fun

Have you ever heard Jerome McDonnell’s Worldview program on Chicago Public Radio? Currently it is every weekday at noon CST but if you are reading this months later you can see when Worldview comes on by checking the Chicago Public Radio schedule. ¬†¬†The biggest reason I love Chicago Public Radio is that every Thursday of the Worldview show is called the Global Activism Series. ¬†Each show of the Global Activism series features one really amazing person or group that has done something to help make a difference in a developing country. ¬†There are always simple ways you can help if you want to be a part of this group’s work. ¬†Sometimes it’s people from the US who have founded a unique global charity such as Share Your Soles or Working Bikes, or sometimes it is a person from a developing country who is doing something amazing to help their country and is fundraising to continue their work. ¬†Catch up on old shows you missed here¬†http://www.wbez.org/globalactivism.

Each year there is a Global Activism Expo. ¬†This year’s expo is coming soon, and will be this Saturday April 30th from noon to 6pm. ¬†Read all about the upcoming Global Activism Expo 2011 here. It is free and will be held at the UIC Forum, just west of downtown. ¬†It’s a fun way for kids and adults to get involved and learn so much more about great groups making a difference globally. ¬†You could bring a used bike you want to donate to Working Bikes, bring items for and help put together toiletry kits that will be delivered to Japan, or speak to many other fascinating people who make a difference around the globe. ¬†Thousands will attend. ¬†Surely it will be a really diverse and engaging environment, with food and music too. ¬†I went to one years ago they held in Edgewater and definitely enjoyed myself. ¬†If you go definitely let me know how it was for you.

What I learned at my CAPS meeting tonight

McGruff drawing
I am choosing to be more informed

This was my first CAPS meeting I’d been to in at least 10 years if not longer, and the second CAPS meeting ever. ¬†It was more interesting than I remember, actually. ¬†It was pretty short, only 50 minutes long, and throughout the meeting they discussed specific addresses and what disturbances have been noted there, either by police or citizens. ¬†Many people came prepared with specific addresses and info, and the police were very informed and on the ball about it all. ¬†They said our CAPS meeting is generally the most attended in the whole city. ¬†Good for you Beat 17! ¬†Beat 17 is part of Albany Park and Irving Park neighborhoods.

Is it more disturbing to know literally what crime has occurred in your area recently, or not know at all? ¬†Honestly I am more disturbed now that I know, but I think after a good night’s rest the disturbing part will subside entirely. ¬†It was nice to be around so many citizens who care about keeping their streets safe. ¬†I think being more informed will encourage me to be more aware and I believe that those two things together will translate into increased safety. ¬†I love my Albany Park neighborhood, more than any other Chicago neighborhood I’ve lived in. ¬†I think it’s the tree lined streets and the variety of small homes and larger apartment buildings, and all the different front yards and porches each with their own unique character and personality. ¬†So my CAPS meeting was time well spent, and I will go again next month. ¬†Thanks to Martha Hack, our CAPS citizen rep who helped spread the word and let me know about the meeting. ¬†If you want to find out what Chicago police “beat” you live in, and when the CAPS meetings are for your “beat” then you can go to this link. Here’s another link with basic info about CAPS.

Our Dyson vacuum

Dyson DC14 vacuum
our Dyson vacuum, getting used

Here’s our Dyson vacuum. ¬†I had wanted a Dyson vacuum for years before we finally got one last September. ¬†Did we pay full price? ¬†Nooooooo. ¬†It was never the plan to pay full price, and I ended up buying this one used and one year old on eBay, for $161 including shipping. ¬†I had wanted a Dyson because of the hepa filter, which many vacuums have these days, and also the famed suction. ¬†It does blow some things into the air when you use it, so I end up using the super suction wand first to get anywhere I know is bad, then vacuuming everything.

I like the easy-empty canister so I see all I’ve picked up, yet not touch it. ¬†I like all the suction in the wand. ¬†I like the bright yellow color. ¬†Whatever mojo it has that actually gets me to use it, to vacuum my 3-cat, dog-boarding apartment on a very regular basis, I am grateful. ¬†Because when all is said and done, what matters is not the brand of your vacuum, but whether or not you actually use it!

Cookies, part 1

photo of a box of cookies w/string handle
Love this packaging, Trader Joes Snaquarium Cookies

When I saw this cookie box and that it was only 99 cents I had to buy it, well, buy two. ¬†I ate one box as I drove home from the store. ¬†They really don’t taste that great, but the fact that I was eating tiny cookies shaped like ocean animals from a box with a string was really great for my inner child. ¬†I’d show you the ocean animal shapes in a photo here, but I’m saving the other box for when I spend time with my “Little Sister” from Big Brothers Big Sisters this Saturday. ¬†She’s 10 years old, and in some ways she’s 10 and in some ways she has been exposed to so many adult things in music videos and lyrics, etc. she’s partially all grown. ¬†Also she may not have ever seen the animal crackers cookies boxes that come in a little red box with a string handle, so she won’t get the reference. ¬†Will she love these cookies? ¬†We’ll see.

chocolate chunk cookie from Trader Joes
A cookie you buy for the taste, not the packaging, melting in my hand

As a kid, a cookie just had to be a cookie for me to love it, except for those weird rum balls from the holidays. ¬†Now as an adult my husband and I both watch our carb intake and calories and sugar to some extent, so for me a cookie has to be worth it. ¬†Here is the cookie I’ve been nibbling as I type this. ¬†It’s a Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chunk cookie which comes in a simple white bag, found near the bread rather than the cookies in the store. ¬†Also their double chocolate chunk cookie is even better. ¬†Often now we try to go weeks without bringing any cookies at all into the house, which certainly makes it easier to behave. ¬†When we have cookies at home, like now, we pick a number of them in advance to put on our plate, and generally stick to it. ¬†I am hypoglycemic so my carb, sugar, and protein intake have to be appropriate. ¬†I had a big sandwich with lots of meat and only one piece of bread before writing this cookie post, to make sure my blood sugar would remain stable enough for me to enjoy my experiential writing exercise. ¬†So, it’s a little more complicated then when you are a kid and you think you could eat cookies all day. ¬†But with great power, comes great responsibility, right? ¬†Here’s to cookies.

My adventures in philanthropic giving with Kiva.org

photo of a kiva.org loan recipient
I just loaned $25 to this woman in Mongolia w/Kiva.org

I just loaned $25 to a woman named Oyunjargal Luvsanpurev in Mongolia through my kiva.org account. ¬†I didn’t have to pay anything new since this was money already in my kiva account. ¬†I have been a kiva.org member for almost two years now and this is my 13th $25 loan. ¬†I have loaned to men and women in 11 different countries around the world. ¬†Sometimes I will spend $25 plus the $3 or so operating costs to make a loan. ¬†Other times I have balance in the account because my old loans have been repaid. ¬†I have never had anyone default on my loans so far so I get to use the money again and again to make these microfinance business loans, except for that separate “operating costs” fee which is around $3. ¬†If you want to make a loan to this woman too, a clothing designer who will use the money to buy a sewing machine for her business, you can follow this link. ¬†Though she is asking for over a thousand US dollars, the loan will probably be fully funded within 24 hours. ¬†It’s really amazing to see all these people from around the world helping others through kiva. ¬†Oyunjargal is a widow and mother of two children. ¬†I love learning details about the people I am helping, and loooooove seeing their photo. ¬†I always am happy to see that they are gradually paying back their loan, which to me means that their business is succeeding.

I still have enough in my kiva account to make another loan, but I will wait until this Saturday and have my 10 year old “Little Sister” (through Big Brothers Big Sisters) help me to choose who gets the loan. ¬†She has helped me once before, and it was actually hard for her to imagine that there were people out there who needed money more than her family. ¬†When searching for a loan to fund on kiva.org you can specify if you want the loan to go to an individual or a collective group, and if you choose individual, a male or a female. ¬†You get to browse through the photos, read the people’s stories, etc. ¬†I’m a big fan!

The Crater- mostly vanquished, ditch & protruding metal thingie remain

photo of a patch in an alley
The crater has mostly been patched

Today as I was driving home, through the alley to my garage, it occurred to me that there was backtop patch in the alley! ¬†It had been fixed! ¬†I actually yelled, laughed, and hollered all at once. ¬†ūüôā ¬†(See the blog post above this one for more on the crater that was eating the alley).

alley photo
Note the ditch w/puddle in the center of the photo

I went back to examine and take photos, and I saw that there was still a muddy ditch next to their patch. ¬†Why didn’t they finish? ¬†Also that big piece of metal that sticks out menacing my tires is still there too. ¬†I took a good photo of it in the post above this one. ¬†Hmmmm. ¬†So, it’s a victory for civic involvement, for calling in issues to 311 and organizing neighbors and getting them to call. ¬†But is it a total victory? ¬†What do you think? ¬†I will say it is easier to navigate than before, and a ditch with a metal tooth is better than a growing crater with a metal tooth. ¬†Thanks for calling 311, and for “liking” my facebook post. ¬†Yay for Chicagoans who take action!

Huge crater eating a Chicago alley for years- Resident apathy or City incompetence?

photo of alley pothole turned crater in Chicago
No longer a pothole, this is a crater eating the alley

Here is a crater eating the alley near our home in Albany Park, Chicago. ¬†I had assumed this was a case of Chicago city incompetence, but when I was out photographing it for this blog, I interviewed a few residents and they all said they had never called the city about it. ¬†Two were private home owners whose homes and garages are just feet north of this crater. ¬†One said “We don’t hang out there, so we didn’t call.” ¬†The other said “I don’t drive that direction” in the alley, so she didn’t call either. ¬†Another resident with his garage further up the alley also said he had never called. ¬†He agreed that it was a big issue, and that the crater had been there for “at least two or three years” and that it had been getting “bigger and deeper.”

alley crater in Chicago
another view of the same crater, alley east of 4415 N Drake Ave

Here’s another view of the same crater, this time facing south in the alley. ¬†This view shows buildings that are right on the north side of Montrose Ave, which include a City of Chicago Streets and Sanitation building. ¬†I learned at my recent Town Hall meeting that Streets & San does not handle pot holes, but maybe they handle craters?

It takes a village to fix a crater. ¬†Help me to get this fixed. ¬†I have called 311 to report this on 3/23 and again 4/1. ¬†Please call 311 to report it too. ¬†Here’s what you will need to know for the call: ¬†It’s in the alley just east of 4415 N Drake Ave, between Drake Ave and St. Louis Ave, and the majority of the alley is regular road pavement except for the big, growing crater.

photo of crater in alley
Watch your tires! the metal piece sticking up out of the edge of the crater

Here’s an additional special feature of the crater. ¬†It has a big piece of metal sticking up out of it. ¬†It’s shown in this photo, just above my women’s size 10 sneaker which I included for perspective. ¬†I’d love to know why the heck it’s there, but more than that I’d love it gone so I don’t have to worry about hitting it and risking my tires.

So show me that some Chicagoans care. ¬†Show me you can call 311 and ad your voice, comment on the blog or “like” or share this on facebook. ¬†I will be sending this blog post to my alderman, and to a Channel 2 facebook account. ¬†I will be doing updates on this, and hopefully one day the crater will be gone. ¬†Help me vanquish the crater!