Monthly Archives: November 2006

International Plaza – Email Interview

I emailed Leo Plotkin about this coming Saturday’s rally to save International Plaza. He answered a few of my questions:

Who else is involved in organizing the rally?

All of the owners of the small businesses located at International Plaza will be attending the rally.

What businesses do they run at the Plaza?

The types of businesses in International Plaza consist of food restaurants (Japanese, Italian, etc.), beauty salons, workout gym, clothing store, resale shop, video rental (Blockbuster), currency exchange, gift shop, dentist, accupuncturist, tai chi business, cleaners, pro golf shop, Korean market, consumer electronics repair business, etc. There is a great variety of businesses in International Plaza and this list signifies the different types.

Why have the rally now? Did something happen to provoke a response from you?

There is a pending lawsuit between XSport Gym and the Village of Arlington Heights. If XSport Gym was to lose the lawsuit, International Plaza will be condemned as Eminent Domain.

What do you hope to accomplish with a rally? Press attention?

Yes, we would love to provoke media attention and to place pressure on the board to change their mind in regards to Eminent Domain.

Save International Plaza

From Christina Walsh at the IJ:

This Saturday, December 2, a new organization called Save International Plaza is holding a rally at 10am in Arlington Heights. The Village is considering seizing all of the businesses in International Plaza through eminent domain to replace them with a SuperTarget. These folks need your support, and we encourage you to attend and bring your family and friends!

RALLY to Save International Plaza
Saturday, December 2
214 E. Golf Road (International Plaza)
Arlington Heights, IL 60005

Free coffee and donuts will be provided. If you have any questions, contact Leo Plotkin at [email protected] We hope you can make it!

I plan to be there taking pictures.

The contact person, Leo Plotkin, runs Unigma Camera which I photographed a year ago when I first wrote abote International Plaza. I didn’t use the pictue because it wasn’t very good, but here it is:

Unigma Camera
Larger ImageUnigma Camera

Camera Buying Guide / Begging

People who know I’m into photography sometimes ask me for advice about buying a camera, so I’ve been planning to put together a holiday buying guide.

Amazon, however, showed me a better way. They have a feature called aStore that allowed me to build my own online store—called WindyShopping of course—through which I can sell products from Amazon’s Camera and Photo department. There’s a link to WindyShopping at the top of the left-hand sidebar.

I don’t own every item I sell in the store, but I have researched all of them and I believe they are good cameras at good prices. I’ve included commentary on every item explaining what I like about it.

I suggest you also click one of the Adorama Camera links on this page and lookup the same items there to compare prices.

Of course, if you buy through the Amazon store or through Adorama, I get a piece of the action. Even if you don’t buy what I recommend, just by following a link from my site to get to Amazon or Adorama when you make your purchase, I’ll get a piece of the action.

If you like what I’m doing here, I’d sure appreciate it if you helped me pay for the products and services I use to create this blog by doing some of your Christmas shopping through the links on this page.


What American accent do you have?

This is about what I was expecting:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak “Standard English straight out of the dictionary” but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like “Are you from Wisconsin?” or “Are you from Chicago?” Chances are you call carbonated drinks “pop.”

The Northeast
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Update: I think I speak “Standard English straight out of the dictionary” because I do. On what planet do “stock” and “stalk” sound the same? Northern cities vowel shift my ass!

Hostage Down

While most of us were enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with our families, Chicago police were dealing with a hostage situation that did not end well.

The standoff began early Thanksgiving morning after an armed man took what was then believed to be two young women hostage inside their apartment building. The gunman opened fire on authorities who responded to the scene.
—Andrew Wang, Chicago Tribune, November 24, 2006:

Chicago police held off launching a SWAT raid and chose to negotiate instead. Nearly 24 hours later, however, the hostage taker forced their hand:

The impasse ended when police heard a shot and sent a SWAT team into the apartment. They threw a concussion granade, known as a “flash-bang,” in an attempt to distract the gunman as they rushed in.

“When we hear one gunshot, then at that moment we make entry,” said Starks. “As we went in, we used a flash-bang. There was a lot of noise going off,” which might have masked the gunman’s second shot.

The hostage and the gunman were both dead.

There was some criticism of the police for not taking action sooner, but I can’t see how they could have known a raid would be necessary. From what I’ve read so far, it sounds like the Chicago police did everything exactly right given what they knew at the time.

You wouldn’t think so from watching movies and television, but for a hostage negotiation to end in the death of a hostage is incredibly unusual. Hostage takers may kill people before the police hostage team gets there, but it’s very rare for a hostage to die once the negotiations have begun. This is probably the first time it’s happened in Chicago in many years. Hostage negotiation almost always works.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the hostage taker had serious mental problems. Most hostage takers calm down as time passes, and they slowly conclude that their best choice is to surrender. An emotionally disturbed person, however, is more likely to become agitated as time goes by, especially if the hostage situation disrupts their medication schedule.

Update: Police are saying the hostage taker had a history of medical illness and hadn’t talken his medication.

Drinking and Driving

Just to let you all know, I’m planning to do some drinking and driving this holiday weekend. Not drunk driving, mind you—that would be illegal—just some drinking and then some driving.

I’m very nearly a teetotaller by inclination. I think I’ve had four, maybe even five drinks so far this year. No reason for it, I just rarely ever get that “I’d like to have a drink now” feeling.

However, the moral stormtroopers at MADD have launched a new Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving.

This Campaign goes beyond slogans and taglines. It is precisely what it says it is. We want to completely eliminate drunk driving. With your help, we plan on making drunk driving the public health equivalent of polio.

First of all, polio is a public health problem and therefore polio is the public health equivalent of polio. Drunk driving, on the other hand, is not a public health problem—not in the same way as polio or malnutrition or poor waste disposal—no matter how much the folks at MADD try to pretend it is.

Second, they keep talking about ignition interlocks for cars and advance technology for alcohol detection:

First 5 years:

We’ll focus on widespread installation of existing and emerging technologies on convicted drunk drivers.

Second 5 years:

We hope to see implementation of improved technology on large fleets thanks to cooperation from the auto industry.

Ten years and beyond:

We could possibly see voluntary application to general population with insurance premium incentives..

In other words, they want to put alcohol detection gear and ignition interlocks in every car in America. They say this would be voluntary, but when has anything MADD wanted ever been voluntary? MADD has a list of 40 laws that they want passed in every state. Almost everything on their Take Action page involves getting laws passed. I don’t believe for a second that the petty tyrants at MADD won’t be forcing this technology down our throats in a few years.

In protest of this policy, sometime this weekend, possibly today, I’m going to have a drink and then I’m going to operate a motor vehicle on the streets and roads of metropolitan Chicago. Just because I know it would piss them off.

What can I say? I’m a rebel.