Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Well, we spent the weekend packing, and have a closing this week and moving next week, so it is unlikely I will be blogging much until we are a little more settled. However, for your viewing pleasure I have posted three new pictures.

The pictures are of the Rockwell station on the Brown (formerly the Ravenswood) line of the 'L'. As is true on some of the older lines in Chicago, the Ravenswood runs at ground level for a mile or so, from Rockwell to Kimball. This is the first such station. The train runs through a beautiful little enclave called Ravenswood Manor. Since I was a little kid I enjoyed being on the ground-level part of the Ravenswood, as we travelled from the Kimball station into the city. Once we move this sort of trip will be a real indulgence, since the Ravenswood is nowhere near our new place.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I know that I did not put up a Sunday post. I am a very busy man, and can't be constrained by your expectations. That and I did not actually read the paper. I did, however, properly complete last week's Times crossword on Sunday.

It is snowing pretty hard right here. When I look out my window, I can see the Hyatt. There are about six people standing in windows just watching the snow. It is particularly nasty here, since the lake and river are two funnels for the wind, and the buildings create a vortex. Very nice. Truly sucky.

By the way, I was early for an appointment today, and I took some pictures. They are posted on the fotoside. The Harold is the Harold Washington Library, and all pictures are taken from, or of the ninth floor.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Editor's Note: Today is the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union between Scotland and England. As such, we have a very special guest blogger, Hamish. A few notes on useage. First, Hamish is from Not Around Here, so he insists that soccer is "football." For purposes of this blog entry, we will indulge him. Second, the poem at the end is supposed to look that way. It is called "Scots."

Your regular and loyal blogger has invited me, a subject of Her Britannic Majesty from the north of Her realm, to share two articles fresh of the press – Grand Alliance and Why Did Scotland and England Unite? – which discuss the pending three hundredth anniversary of the Act of Union between Scotland and England. The only instruction I was offered was to write “nothing crazy.” Had I been invited to comment on the Act of Union nineteen years ago, when the deranged manager of the Scottish national football team had persuaded the entire country that Scotland would bring the World Cup home from Argentina, crazy might have been an apt description, at least compared to comments that might have been offered nineteen-and-a-half years ago, when the deranged manager of the Scottish football team was forced to go into hiding, the country sobered up, and we rejected independence, albeit narrowly, in a national referendum. Only Margaret Thatcher could stir up again the heady brew of Scottish nationalism after that fiasco, although there was nothing to be done with the football team, a combination of circumstances that I truly believe led to the neither-here-nor-there halfway home of a Scottish Parliament with limited powers that sits, appropriately enough, at the very foot of a sizeable hill.

Ian Jack, in the first article above, does a very fine impersonation of a Scot who lives in England, helped, no doubt, by the fact that he is a Scot who lives in England. I lived in London for several years, which is almost like living in England, and, like Mr. Jack, was never told to get back to where I came from, was called Jock only occasionally, and only once or twice had to endure chronic renditions of what I assume were well-intentioned attempts at the Scottish vernacular (English people think Scots talk like Groundskeeper Willie (sound here), and, sadly, some of them do). He omits another peeve, which is the southern tendency to refer to the neighbors in the north as “scotch,” a description which, like the golden liquor itself, is good for headaches. He is right, too, I think, to suggest that differences between the nations have greatly diminished. The whole place, north and south, is slightly smaller than Oregon – a useful comparison if you happen to know the size of Oregon – and I once had occasion to realize how small a geographical footprint the kingdom has by taking a taxi from just north of London to Scotland at relatively little expense. It is unsurprising that neighbors pressed that closely together can begin, like spouses, to resemble one and other. I think it is also fair comment to note that since the Act of Union was sold to the rogues that used to run Caledonia, it has been a largely pleasant experience (the 1980s notwithstanding).

There has been for as long as I am aware a sign on the border between the two nations which, when entering from England says “Welcome to Scotland” and which, when making the return trip, says “Haste Ye Back!” There never used to be any sign for England, perhaps because the English didn’t know there was a border to the north. Now one can see “Welcome to England” from a good distance. This might be more significant than you would think: a novel development since I moved to the United States is that Scottish independence may no longer be a question to be decided by Scots. As reported in The Telegraph, a recent ICM poll found that a greater percentage of English people wanted Scottish independence than Scots. Although one might think that it would be an improved state of affairs for Scots to have a say in where their troops are sent and who their friends are in the world, or at least get to sing some of the songs, I think it may well indeed be the growth of English nationalism which determines the matter. Unless we can find eleven really good football players.

And why did Scotland and England unite in the first place? As intimated above, I’m with Burns on that one:

But pith and power, till my last hour,
I'll mak this declaration;
We're bought and sold for English gold-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!


Tuesday, February 06, 2007


OK, I take it as a good sign for the Bears that last week I finished my first New York Times Sunday crossword. I finished my second one this week. Of course, I did not really complete the first one, since I had errors on it, but I think it is a good omen for "next year" that I was able to jump right back on my horse, as I expect the Bears to do.

There is also a new picture on the foto blog.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


This is my 500th post on WAYLA. I was kind of saving it for a Bears Super Bowl win. Alas, there was a little more bad Rex than good, and it was not to be. Alas. Well, time to start over. XLII, here we come.

To add insult to injury, I thought I had the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle done last week, but as the eagle-eyed among you will know, 78 down, 92 across, and 93 down are wrong. What is a "PLATECREW" or "A Tale of 'ITUB'"? I don't know, but it seemed reasonable at the time. Like the Bears, I am starting over.

Finally, on-line and off-line feedback has helped convince us that Ida is probably off the list. Cecilia, Agnes, Anastasia, Clara, and Eleanor have replaced it. Cecilia is the patroness of music and musicians. My family stinks with musicians and L sings, so there is something there. Plus the Simon & Garfunkel tune. I like "Agnuska" as a nickname for Agnes, and we are moving to a Polish neighborhood. I have always liked Anastasia, but L is unenthusiastic. Clara and Eleanor are new to me, so I am still trying to figuring what I think about them.

By the way, no report on the Times. I spent the day packing boxes, then watching the Bears lose a Super Bowl.

Go Cubs (opening day is less than two months away)!