Monday, December 29, 2008

An interesting donation

Former resident offers $50,000 to fix Clinton church's bell tower -QCTimes

Its always neat to read about someone making something of themselves and then returning to make a difference for their home town. In this case, a man whose father was a pastor at a church in Clinton returned to the city for the first time in 42 years, and decided to put up $50,000 towards repairs to the church bell tower. I just read this article last night, and was interested to find out that the person donating the money, Curtis Priem, is one of the co-founders of NVIDIA, which makes graphics chips for computers and video game consoles. I've been using NVIDIA graphics cards in every computer I build simply because I prefer them to the competition. Now it looks like I have another reason to support this company.

Now if we could just get the CEO of McDonalds to put some money into the city he went to high school in...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays 2008

I hope everyone had as great of a Christmas as I did.

I'd also like to suggest everyone take some time to remember those who had to work on Christmas and Christmas Eve. Police officers and firefighters who keep us safe, the military of course, those in the medical professions, the oft-maligned Public Works employees out plowing the streets, newspaper delivery folks, Walgreen's employees, and anyone else who had to spend time away from their families to keep our world in order. This year I was lucky enough to be at home, but many others weren't.

I'm hoping to put together my occasional New Year's Eve wishlist for the Quad Cities, and even better, I'm hoping to post it sometime before May.

Again, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Skatepark In Winter (2008-2009 Edition)

Last February I took this picture, before the lights were installed and construction on the pavilion began.

Here's how it looks now:

This was the first time I'd been down there at night with the lights on, and I was surprised how bright they are. Its like daylight when you're under them. I was kind of surprised that some hearty skateboarders hadn't shoveled some ramps off, but this ice/sleet/snow/cement mixture that came down the other day isn't easy shoveling. Since the contractor didn't get the pavilion done by the end of the skatepark season, its fenced off with portable fencing.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Idiot Governor Open Thread

Nothing QC-related from me today.

Someone requested a thread about Blagojevich, so what the heck. What is there to say? The guy's either an idiot or crazy, and I don't think we'll see anyone jump up to defend him. When I first read the news I was pleased, because the sooner he's out of office, the sooner Illinois can get back to business like WIU:QC and Chicago-QC rail service, not to mention reopening parks and historic sites.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Just a few things

Hearing the long list of school closings as I drove home in the rain seemed silly, but I hear its a lot worse up north already, with more to come. After local drivers' performance yesterday, I suppose I can't blame the school districts for wanting to keep kids out of the demolition derby. Hopefully the weather doesn't get too bad and we can drive safely out there.

Scott County vehicles to be fueled by Davenport -QCTimes
This is a great example of inter-government cooperation. There are rarely lines at the city fueling stations, so why not get more use out of them (and make some money from a service the city already provides) by letting county vehicles use the pumps. My only question is why we built a brand new fancy fueling station in the middle of the Centennial Park-Crescent Park RiverVision area? I suppose that so much has already been changed from the old plan below that a bit more isn't a big deal.

Dogs might get to roam free at proposed Davenport off-leash area -QCTimes
My only question is why not fence off the fourth side and just call it a dog park? Reading this article after reading the article above (more traffic on Marquette Street) makes me wonder if having the only avenue of escape for dogs facing towards a street is the best plan. I'm historically more of a cat person, so maybe there's something here I'm missing. Again, we're a long way from the original RiverVision concept. (See above)

Ales may default on Marycrest building -QCTimes
One of the final pieces in the complete collapse of a rehab empire. Tax credit addicts beware.

Rock Island's historic Mitchell House open for tours -QCTimes
If only we had hundreds more people with the resources to do things like this, SoLo would be a very different place. Stuff like this proves that there is still hope for a lot of nearly-given-up-on buildings around the QC area.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Canadian Pacific Holiday Train in Davenport

Here are a few quick images from tonight's visit of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train to downtown Davenport. There was a great crowd considering that the temperature was around 25 degrees with a windchill of 10 or 11. They had metal firepits and propane outdoor heaters scattered around. It really made me feel like people in the QC will come out, even in the colder nights of winter, for the right kind of event. I'd like to see more stuff done around the holidays here. I think it would be great if we had a New Year's firework display over the river like they did in 2000 every year.

Canadian Pacific recently acquired the Iowa Chicago & Eastern (IC&E), which runs through Davenport. That's why we were added to their route for the Holiday Train. The last stop Friday night after Davenport was Muscatine.

One of the boxcars slide open to reveal a stage, and a band singing Christmas songs. They gathered a pretty good crowd around them.

The train was led my one Canadian Pacific locomotive and one IC&E locomotive.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday Morning Assortment

As a night shift person, Black Friday can just be considered more convenient shopping hours. Unfortunately, for the 2nd year in a row I made the mistake of visiting Younkers to try and spend their "$10 off anything over $10*" coupon. (*Excludes... everything.) It wasn't a good experience. First they mark anything remotely close to $10 to $9.99, and then everything else they call a doorbuster, great value, or red tag clearance and exclude it from the coupon. All I can say is that if they're going to act like lawyers about excluding things from their coupons, they should be equally worried about accuracy when it comes to labeling their products and displays. I spend 2 minutes looking around the display of Hawkeyes sweatshirts to make sure it wasn't excluded, only to find out that it was technically a doorbuster even though there was no sign and the price was inaccurate. I think I'll take a pass on shopping there for a while.

Speaking of old news, last Wednesday night (Thanksgiving Eve?) there was a police chase through Davenport. I never saw it in the paper, but maybe I missed it. Apparently the Illinois State Patrol initiated a stop, the driver didn't stop, and somehow made it into Bettendorf. When I first started listening to it on the radio, Bettendorf PD was chasing the car up Iowa or something and across Locust. They went up Tremont, Arlington, and Carey at what seemed like high speeds until they reached 29th, which they took east to Eastern. There they went north, and the driver made the mistake of turning down E 35th, which goes nowhere but back to Kimberly Downs. The interesting thing was that Davenport PD was essentially pacing the chase, but was clearly not involved. It sounded like they helped block the car in at Kimberly Downs, though, which is where they finally caught it.

I felt like the chase could have ended much sooner if DPD had been allowed to participate instead of just follow along. I doubt Bettendorf officers know the streets of Davenport as well, after all. I know I harp on this a lot, but the car running from the police could have 2 bodies or a kidnapped kid in the trunk, and unless it was known to be involved ina serious crime, Davenport officers would be forced to let it escape. The risk to citizens of being hurt by a police chase is outweighed by the risk to citizens of letting criminals get away. Fortunately this time they were caught.

Davenport lauded for green projects -QCTimes
Of course since this is a positive story about Davenport, there are zero user comments. This and other good publicity about Davenport's change from an abandoned industrial town to an evolving progressive city on America's greatest river is all part of changing perceptions of those both around the Midwest and here at home. I'm still waiting for a lot of people to realize how good we have it here, although the economic disaster on the coasts might cause more to take notice of our relative stability here. Reading some of the posts on's forums dating back to 2004 compared with current posts show a definite change in some of the Des Moines-area members' opinions on the QC area.