Archive for the 'News' Category


Last Post

Another “last post”!  It feels like I just got done writing one of these.  But while the last “last post” closed out our New Zealand adventure as we returned to Peoria, I’m happy to say that this post really marks the beginning of a new life for Angela and me.  As you’ve heard or inferred from the most recent posts, we’ve relocated to Oregon.  This is a wholesale uprooting:  resigning from our jobs, selling our house, and starting fresh in the Pacific Northwest.  There will be lots to report, and the blog format has served us well so we’ll continue with it.  (Sorry Facebook… your ephemeral updates will just not do.  And I won’t even discuss Twitter.)

You can now visit and bookmark our new blog, Oregon Life.  It has just been created and may change significantly as we decide what to do with it, but even in its current lean condition it is a good channel that will let us post about how things are going.

Lastly, as with NZ Life, the Peoria Dispatch will remain here forever.

Bye Peoria, hello Salem!

catlogoYou can catch Jim Owens on NBC’s “Meet the Press” tomorrow morning (airs at 8am central).  It should be interesting.  To date I’ve seen him on a number of interviews, but they’re usually pretty focused, such as the CAT opinion on the “Buy American” clause in the stimulus package, or some statements about layoffs.  Tomorrow’s show will be a roundtable to discuss the economy with host David Gregory, and CEOs from Google, Xerox and CAT.

“Meet the Press” is in my opinion the best of the Sunday morning shows (it was better with Russert though), and is watched by millions.  It’s great to have the head of CAT be one of three CEOs in the discussion, and I think this sort of press can only help to company (unless he screws it up).


Schock & Colbert

So our local political prodigy has just done a Colbert interview.  It’s OK, nothing particular funny or outrageous.  In fact anyone outside of Peoria probably couldn’t care less about it right now, but I think you’ll continue see more and more of Schock on TV.  Even Colbert made mention of him being “the new face of the Republican party”, and I bet the Reps will keep him on the fast track, unless he screws up bad.  So for what it’s worth:

In addition to the headline-making layoffs recently announced, CAT and Peoria have received some other attention you may not be aware of:

  • Obama’s Secretary of Transporation, Ray Lahood, most recently represented central Illinois (and Peoria) in congress.
  • CAT CEO Jim Owens was added to Obama’s economic advisory board.
  • Owens will appear on “60 Minutes” this coming Sunday, Feb 15th.  I’ve not seen this in the press, though it was announced internally.  Expect him to slam the “Buy American” provision of the stimulus bill.  I’ve seen him on CNBC a few times and he’s an effective speaker.  Try to catch this interview if you can.
  • Obama will probably be in (East) Peoria on Thursday visiting a CAT plant.  We’re such a good backdrop for messages about the crumbling economy.

It would be neat to see Air Force One land in Peoria.  It’s been here a few times recently but I’ve never seen it myself.  Of course the schedule of the whole event is under wraps so I’ll probably miss it again.



Actually somewhat boring… in any case, Aaron Schock, Peoria’s celebrity youth politician who is now running for congress, got to address the RNC in Minneapolis today. I don’t know where CJ over at the Peoria Chronicle found the clip, so you’ll just have to view the article there to see the video. Or you could do something else with your 4 minutes, as there’s nothing but standard platform platitudes in his brief talk.


Peoria in the news

Peoria was indirectly in the national news twice yesterday.  Most prominently was President Bush’s visit for a Republican Party fundraiser.  Bush usually stops by for some trade or transportation press conference with CAT as the backdrop, so this was a bit different.  The fundraiser was held at the Weaver Farms, just a few minutes from our house.  They reportedly closed off  I-474, and much of the surrounding War Memorial drive stretch, as the motorcade passed.  They surrounded the farm with City of Peoria dump trucks and some semi trailers as a temporary barricade.  For $500 you got lunch and a speech, and for $5000 you got a picture with Bush.  The whole affair lasted about 2.5 hours, and then Air Force One departed back to DC.

Aaron Schock is the primary beneficiary of all this and will have an even larger campaign war chest following the event.  Which brings me to a gripe:  do his fundraiser proceeds get debited for what it cost to fly Air Force One round trip, manage a battalion of Secret Service and state police, mobilize City of Peoria resources and block off roads?  I doubt it.  Who pays that bill?  The event was not public, and the press wasn’t even allowed in.  Schock would have probably had no problem winning in November anyway, so while it’s always interesting when dignitaries visit, this latest trip seems a bit wasteful.

On a completely different note, our Peoria Chiefs made the news by being part of a messy brawl in Dayton.  The worst part by a mile was Peoria pitcher Julio Castillo winding up and beaming a fan in the head with a baseball.  (The guy was injured but not seriously.)  Castillo has been charged with felonious assault, had his passport held, and I hope his baseball days are done (at least in the US).  If so he may well be sent back to the Dominican Republic to think for the rest of his life about what an insanely stupid thing he did.

(Both photos are from The Peoria Journal Star)

It’s pretty painful to watch a stock you bought at $45, like I did with Washington Mutual, plummet to $19, where I gave up and sold it.  On the other hand it’s quite redeeming to watch that stock continue to go way, way down, now to $3.23.  This is a positive (for a change) lesson in cutting my losses I won’t soon forget.

In any case, what a shockingly bad market……….



When we moved back to the US, we had already purchased my parent’s VW Passat as a primary car, and I began looking for a second vehicle.  Nothing caught my fancy, and I settled on a little 2004 Kia Spectra:

2004 Kia Spectra, perfectly ordinary

The Kia was an OK car, and the interior looked just about like my 2000 Civic, but there was nothing very fun about it and the city mpg was pretty poor.

About 6 weeks ago I officially decided I’d consider buying a new car.  It didn’t take me long to realize that not much even in crop of new vehicles was very interesting, so I seriously began mulling over getting a Prius, which I’d driven for a few days in Nevada and quite liked.  The fuel economy was a major draw, but I also just liked the car: looks, handling, interior gadgets, etc:

Prius rental in Nevada, planting the seed.

A month ago I plunked down a $500 deposit and ordered the car, sight unseen.  There was not a new or used Prius within 100 miles, and the Toyota dealer didn’t even have one to drive or show.  Had I not already been familiar with the car, I’d have been SOL.  Five weeks ago they told me it would be a 2-3 month wait, and when I ordered the car a week later it had become a 3-4 month wait.  I called some other dealers in the region and got the same or worse story.  The local dealer said his Prius selling rate had gone from ~1/week to ~5/week in a matter of a few months.  I decided it would be worth the wait.

1 1/2 weeks ago I received a call at work: for unknown reasons, a guy who was way up in the queue had canceled his order and stepped out of line, and he had ordered the exact same car that I had (color/interior/packages).  They offered it to me. Yes, I took it!  I scrambled to post my Kia for sale, rather than get killed on the trade, and managed to unload it in 24 hours.  Thank you

Yesterday, I picked up the car after work and have just been getting familiar with it.  There are a LOT of interesting things about this car that I’m not used to, and I’m having a lot of fun discovering them.  Though the Prius is known for its “green” audience and people mainly know about its 47 mpg (city), I can tell you this is by far the nicest car I’ve ever owned.  The build quality and materials are excellent, interior layout is good, and the whole car is very very well designed.  I think it looks good too!  I’ve posted some photos on Flickr.

2008 Prius, in all its new car glory.

By the way, if you’re interested in one, I wish you the same luck I had.  I at least hope you’re patient.  The dealership just told me that they’re taking deposits on new Priuses…. for delivery as early as next March!

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