Greetings from NOLA!

Greetings from New Orleans! My wife and I are down here for a bit, dog and house sitting for a friend. So far we've seen some great music (Snug Harbor might be my new favorite jazz club), and had fantastic food and drink at too many places to mention, both in the French Quarter and around the Bywater neighborhood we're we are staying.

Pictured above is St. Roch Market, a New Orleans landmark. It's a food hall in a historic building that was long used as a public market.

Hard to say if we'd ever want to live in New Orleans. The service economy here is something else. It's a booze, food and music town. That's a plus. But if you poke a bit beneath the surface, you see the infrastructure problems (and Chicago has some of those as well), and the worry about sea level rise and hurricanes. I loved living in Miami, but sea level rise and hurricanes are a big part of why we don't still live in Miami. So I'm not sure New Orleans is a long term place for us. But the people here are friendly and there's so much great stuff to do. So never say never.

It beats the shit out of Ithaca, that's for sure.

SONOS on a budget? IKEA Symfonisk!

Looking to expand your SONOS home audio system? Or want to get into the wifi zoned audio game on a budget? Check out IKEA's new Symfonisk speakers! Created in collaboration with SONOS, they are fully compatible with other SONOS speakers. I've got three SONOS speakers already (two Play:3 and one Connect:Amp), and it was a breeze to add this new Symfonisk speaker so that we could listen to music while preparing dinner in the kitchen.

Here are pictures of the white Symfonisk bookshelf speaker I picked up at IKEA a few days ago. With the cover off you can see the tweeter, mid-woofer and what must be a sound channel meant to increase volume and bass response.

Above, you can see the mounting bracket ($20 extra) and speaker mounted to my kitchen wall. Installation was easy. I was able to stuff excess power cord into the indent on the back of the speaker, the area around the power cord connection.

Below, you'll find a short video clip of the speaker in action. (This took a couple of tries to find a recording that I actually produced, to prevent the copyright police from taking action to block the video or sound. Please enjoy this snippet from 2004's "This is Organ Night" featuring Billy Holloman on the Hammond B-3.)

The verdict: Considering this is only $99, it feels like a good value to me. I'm happy with the sound quality and the price can't be beat. You could buy two of them and make them a stereo pair for under $200. Add a SONOS subwoofer if you think you need more bass. Or do like I did, and buy a single speaker just to extend the reach of your zoned audio system. We're very happy with the sound quality and it's great to be able to listen to our music while in the kitchen.

Love it or leave it? No. Improve it.

This "love it or leave it" garbage is not new. Fifty years ago people were pointing out how stupid it is. Here's proof.

From the July 21, 1969 Chicago Tribune: On the op-ed page, Sydney J. Harris wrote a piece headlined, “The ‘love it or leave it’ nonsense.”

“One of the most ignorant and hateful statements that a person can make to another is, ‘If you don’t like it here, why don’t you leave?’” Harris wrote. “Most people who want to change conditions do like it here: they love it here. They love it so much they cannot stand to see it suffer from its imperfections, and want it to live up to its ideals. It is the people who placidly accept the corruptions and perversions and inequities in our society who do not love America.”

From the Chicago Tribune.

Our new apartment!

I never planned to become a home owner -- it just sort of happened. But it's good to live indoors, and rents are going to keep going up.

Here's two walkthrough videos of our wonderful new space in Chicago. First, right after closing, and next, about a month later after we've gotten some furniture in place.

We've still got some work to do. Since that video we've replaced the bathroom sink, replaced most of the lighting, added more sconce lights to the living room and some other stuff. We've got plenty of more stuff to do, money permitting. We probably will next be replacing the old and beat up window blinds.

Goodbye, Croslene Kettle

Very sad to hear of our neighbor and friend Kettle's passing yesterday.

Here's what happened, courtesy of Block Club Chicago.

My wife wrote something up about him for her newsletter.

Our alderperson Maria Hadden shared this as well.

And finally, Jonathan Ballew of Block Club Chicago wrote this wonderful article that helps to explain what Kettle meant to us in Rogers Park (and vice versa).

Chicago: Rogers Park Viaduct Clearances Map

I just moved back to the Windy City, and I'm about to have some furniture delivered. Delivery of big items here can be tricky, with the "L" tracks overhead. Some movers even sort of try to B.S. you and say their trucks can't make it to a certain part of town. Which isn't true, if they check bridge clearances-- and this map helps you do that. This map used to be found on the prior alderman's website, which is now deleted. So I'm linking to it here. Hope people find it useful.

Here is a direct link to that Google map.

Here you will find a list of all viaduct clearances in the City of Chicago.