Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lone Woman Has Saviano on Edge

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Lone Woman Has Saviano on Edge
  •   Southwest News-Herald Newspaper Friday, November 02, 2012
Kathleen Willis was a long time activist in DuPage County at a time when the only thing a politician could be was Republican. So how did she end up in the center of a fight on the Southwest Side and suburbs?

Willis switched to the Democratic Party to run for State Representative against 10-term incumbent Angelo “Skip” Saviano in the 77th House District.

Saviano is known for his occasional temper tantrums but it’s the viciousness of his followers that caught my attention. Saviano’s supporters have made derogatory and personal attacks against Willis, referencing to her weight. It’s very unprofessional.

Rather than address Willis or contain the ugly personal mudslinging, Saviano has run to the media claiming he is a “victim” of Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.

When a do-nothing politician wants to distract voters from his poor record, they always try to make Madigan the issue. But Madigan has been on the right side of a lot of issues that have put him in conflict with Saviano.

For example, Saviano is best known for his defense of McPier, the political bastion of taxpayer waste. When it was controlled by disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his cronies, Saviano introduced bill after bill to dump funds into the sinkhole of spending at the McPier.

He claims Madigan is mad at him because of McPier and because he has slammed Lisa Madigan, the Illinois Attorney General, who has rightly challenged allegations of mob influence in a proposal to build a casino in Rosemont. But many of the people involved in that effort were close to mobbed up investors.

Madigan is a Democrat. He supports qualified Democratic candidates who seek legislative office. He’s been effective fighting hard for the region and the state. Saviano finds that difficult to understand.

Saviano attacked Madigan because the downtown Chicago media attacks Madigan. The notoriously biased Chicago Tribune, flagship of a collapsed Republican fiefdom, hates Madigan.

The Tribune endorsed Saviano claiming they can’t reach Willis, but I found her easy to reach. Here’s her Web page:

The Tribune hates Madigan because Madigan stopped the Tribune from getting tax money to bail out their former baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, and renovate Wrigley Field. The Tribune was forced to sell the Cubs and they have always blamed Madigan.

That’s “personal!”

Allies of Saviano organized a phony “community forum” in the west suburbs last week. Willis went to defend her record. When she got there, she was ridiculed and attacked personally. But she had one key ally, Southwest Side Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-12th).

As soon as Sandoval got up to speak to defend Willis, the organizers tried to shout him down. Sandoval’s message was clear.

“The Republicans have never cared about the concerns of the Latino community. It’s the Democrats who have supported Hispanics,” Sandoval said over and over again.

The meeting erupted into confusion. Saviano’s activists tried to push Sandoval to stop talking. But he refused to budge. Sandoval is not called “El Cabello” for nothing. Here’s the link to the video. You HAVE to see it!

I don’t know if Willis will defeat the whining Saviano. But I do know she is backed by a lot of good people like Madigan and Sandoval who continue to be shamefully slandered by Blagojevich’s pals.

When the going gets tough, Sandoval is the guy you want on your side.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and political analyst. Reach him at> — City & Suburban News-Herald

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Whole Foods: A whole lotta of hassle going on

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Whole Foods: A whole lotta of hassle going on
Anyone who has been following my writings know that I used to be a big Jewel Osco fan. I loved the store the way I loved the Chicago Cubs. It was in a competition with Dominicks, but instead of winning the World Series, Dominicks collapsed and disappeared, leaving only Jewel.
And as soon as the competition vanished, Jewel went down the tubes. The food stayed on shelves longer than usual, so that it didn't last as long when you brought it home to cook and eat. There was far more spoilage and far less enjoyment. Prices skyrocketed. But as the only game in town, they had no reason to care. It was either Jewel or a trip to Cubs Food which is a cultural disappointment.
So now comes a place called Whole Foods. I guess it's supposed to be some kind of a "green" type of save the environment place. They butcher animals but they do it in a nicer way. I don't think the animals care that they are naturally fed or chemically plowed with nutrients. Either way the poor animals end up on our dinner tables in a justified form of animal cannibalism.
But I need my tabouli and that means fresh tomatoes, green onions, parsley and cucumbers. And a bag of cracked wheat, which I used to be able to get from Jewel but for some reason has been discontinued. I always have to go to a mainstream store and then take a detour to al-Khayam, the Arab grocer on 159th Street next to the abandoned Orland Video Super Store.
Hating Jewel as much as I do, I had to go to Whole Foods. I actually loved going to that spot years ago when it was a borders Book Store at 153rd and LaGrange Road. Borders was my favorite store, too. But then they died, too, and left us with the culturally vacant and uncreative Barnes & Noble across the street. I might as well sit and sulk at Hooters for lunch.
My tiny basket with its small selection of food items that took me one hour to collect
It only opened a few weeks ago but the parking lot was packed, as packed as it was when it served Borders. I could manage. But when I got to the entrance of the store, it was frightening.
Does anyone know how to run a good grocery store any more?
The baskets were packed into the smallest entrance I had ever seen. Maybe that's why they made the baskets so much smaller than the American-sized Jewel baskets. By the time I struggled to pull a green basket out of the line of baskets, I was shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, all of them sour-pusses fuming steam over the annoyance of being near other people.
It was a nightmare. Did Whole Foods open during the Halloween season on purpose?
I couldn't walk two steps before people were snarking and pushing their carts in front of each other like a mad traffic jam on a snow covered Lake Shore Drive, struggling to find relief. As soon as I walked in, there was the parsley, and the tiniest cucumbers I'd ever seem for 2 for $300. The tomatoes were huge, and only five feet to my left. But that five feet might as well have been one mile of beachfront at Normandy on D-Day on June 6, 1944. Shoppers were strewn across the landscape, their dignity torn from their egos. Crawling through the maze of human hazard.
Who designed this place? Fire him. Or her. It's ridiculous. It's the tiniest grocery store I had ever been in, next to Trader Joe's. But I NEVER go to Trader Joe's to shop for groceries. I only swoop in for a specific food item. That place is small and packed. But Whole Food was like a cattle car packed with cows. And some of the shoppers were cows.
You know, we Americans are fat. We eat so much. We waste so much. Most of the people pushing those tiny little green food baskets that made them look four times fatter than they really are didn't need to be shopping on Sunday. They should be a Lifetime laying out a strategy to lose weight and improve their health.
Don't tell me all of those people can't help it. That's baloney. Maybe a few poor souls are overweight because they have no control over their bodily growth, but the some of them are stuffing their faces like pigs in a trough ready for the slaughter.
This used to be a Border's book store. Now, it's a sardine can for consumers
The aisles at Whole Food were so narrow they hold two and half people shoulder to shoulder. When two carts park across from each other, there is no passing until the puzzlement on the faces of the shoppers is resolved. Standing there staring at a shelve with neatly arranged cans of diced tomatoes and boxes of pasta.
I made my way through the store up and down the aisles, one at a time, looking for all that I needed to make tabouli. I was disappointed, of course. They have all kinds of "ethnic foods" limited to Mexican and Italian. Nothing else.
The deli counter was on the other end. It was crunched into such a small space that it was no fun. Yes, I have fun going to the deli counter in Jewel. I just wish Jewel's food was fresher than it is. I stand there and stare at the variety of salads, remembering when I could down a gallon of potato salad and still drive a car. Ah, the old days!
Worse, the store made the replenishment of the deli bar a customer hassle, not an employee problem. The Glass case opens out into the crowd, not into the employee section. 
Kind fo symbolized what the whole problem with Whole Foods is. This is about the store and its owners. It's not about the grocery store consumer. It's about them. And when you shop at Whole Foods is squeezing your way through crowded aisles is "shopping," you are quickly reminded that you don't matter much there at all. Not as much as the owners and their consultants who thought hey, let's take a neat idea and squish it into a match box and make a whole lotta money!
-- Ray Hanania

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Another new scam from Best Buy

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Another new scam from Best Buy
Best Buy is the worst buy. It's a place you sometimes have to go to, but a place you wish you could avoid. It's service is terrible -- although many of the employees are good people. But Best Buy is constantly trying to rip you off.
If it's not merchandise that doesn't work, it's a new one that Best Buy started to scam $9.99 a month from your cell phone. 
They text you from a phone number 951-662-9744 claiming"Your entry last month has won! Go to and enter your winning code 8372 to claim your free $1,000 Best Buy gift card within 24 hours."
The Best Buy statement is clear. "Claim" your free "$1,000 Best Buy gift card."
There is no gift card, of course. It's a scam to put a $9.99 charge on your monthly cell phone bill, to draw people in so they can fleece you of money and in return send you 3 worthless coupons you don't want.
Here's what you see.
First, they tell you to fill out their form. Then, they take you to a page where they force you to enter your cell phone number, twice.

Join the exclusive Couponz Mall Club today to get the latest coupon text alerts! ...and start saving today!  Print, download coupons or sign up for text coupons (3msgs/wk) Portal subscription $9.99/month for unlimited coupons.

At the bottom of the screen is this disclosure in small print, that is difficult to read:

Summary terms: You must be the account holder of this device or have permission from the account holder. AWCC and U.S. Cellular users cannot download coupons to their handset. Users on these carriers may only print or sign-up for text coupons. This is an auto renewing subscription service that will continue until cancelled anytime by texting STOP to short code 20834. Available to users over 18 for $9.99 per month charged on your wireless account or deducted from your prepaid balance for unlimited coupon subscription on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, Virgin Mobile USA, Cincinnati Bell, AWCC and U.S. Cellular. Print coupons from portal: all carriers eligible. Text coupon services (3 messages per week): all carriers eligible. Download coupons to handset: AT&T, T-Mobile Sprint and Cincinnati Bell. For Couponz Mall support: text HELP to 20834 , email or call 1800 235 7105 for automated help or call 1800 416 6129 for a live operator. Message and data rates may apply. Product is not compatible with all cell phone models. Your phone must support ringtones and wallpapers, be Internet-enabled, and have text messaging capability. Call for your money back within first 30 days of service if you are not satisfied. By signing up for this service and entering your personal PIN Code delivered to the cell phone number supplied by you on this website, you acknowledge that you are agreeing to the Terms and Conditions. Click here for Terms & Conditions. For Privacy Policy Click here

Wow! What a scam.

So I didn't submit my cell number, but I am sure that won't matter. Scammers are always trying to get your cell number to add the $9.99 fee to your cell phone service.

If you notice on the top left of the screen above, the word "PASS" is published in small letters. They don't tell you, but if you click that it will take you to another screen where they ask you to take a survey.

Frankly, don't waste your time. When a retailer like Best Buy has to resort to scams to rope people in to steal $9.99 a month from their phone line -- forcing unsuspecting people who believe they have won -- WON -- $1,000 in a Best Buy card, it's pathetic. Really disgusting that Best Buy has to resort to this kind of scam.

When you try to go around the scam, they try to cell you a new cell phone, probably to add another $9.99 scam fee to your cell phone account, hoping you won't notice.

Really, Best Buy. You are so sleazy! Disgusting. Maybe you should shut down your stores and find something honest to do. You disgust me with your tactics.

When you resist, they take you to several screens, including one that reads:

Last Step

Tell us where to ship your $1000 BestBuy Gift Card.

Of course, when you hit SUBMIT, Best Buy takes you to yet another scam page where they ask you to purchase more worthless services. Sign up for the Disney Movie Club -- probably at some outrageous fee. Or, sign up for something stupid (typical Best Buy strategy) called Onlingo, which also costs an arm and a leg.

Beware folks. When you sign up for anything Best Buy, they won't give you anything free. But it could end up costing another $9.99 a month on your cell phone bill.

I bet the majority of people who get scammed don't even realize it, because after the first page, the scam fee of $9.99 is never mentioned again. The ability to STOP the fee is also no longer detailed or offered. (Just send the word STOP to short code 20834. Do it just in case, anyway, as a safety measure because you can't trust Best Buy to do the right thing. You should receive a message that either your susbcription has stopped, or you will get a message that reads "You are not subscribed to any services. Call 1-800-235-7105 or email 

Probably more scam nets to take your money!

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, October 8, 2012

Boy Scout Popcorn glut and traffic jams

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Boy Scout Popcorn glut and traffic jams

There's a real glut of Boy Scouts selling pop corn. You can't turn a corner or enter a store without running into the young men and their scout leaders at a table selling pop corn.

Carmel Corn. Super buttered corn. Cheese pop corn. And Chocolate covered pretzels. OK. How did chocolate covered pretzels get into the mix? That's not popcorn.

Aaron, who is in his second year of Boy Scouts, and I filled up the car with boxes of popcorn. Add the table. Add the flyer in the plastic stand up with the prices and the Boy Scout logo. Who doesn't love the Boy Scouts?

We went to the Walgreens where we were assigned and there was another troop there. We went to the Jewel to see if we could sell there -- Jewel has the highest traffic and if you have clout in the scouts, your kid can get assigned there. But it was packed with scouts at both doors.

The traffic flow impacts sales. The higher the traffic flow the better the sale. The lower the traffic flow, the harder the sales. And, weather impacts it too. People don't want to eat popcorn when under 40 degrees outside. Popcorn is a warm weather snack.

Everyplace is packed so where do we go? Well, we drove to the HHGregg technology store in the small mall on LaGrange Road and I went in and asked the manager if we could set up a table in front of his store. The place seemed busy. Comp USA was already taken down the other end of the mall so I figured this would be far enough from the other scouts. The manager at HHGregg was nice and said sure, but not in the foyer. Keep it outside.

Outside, in the cold. Well, he was courteous and we appreciated his permission.

Aaron and I were bundled up for the cold. We had the popcorn bags laid out neatly on the table. We had little tags marking the different costs. We had our plastic holder with the sheets of printed paper -- that I printed on my new WiFi printer (works like a charm). We had single dollar bills.

I even had my iPhone and my Square credit card reader, so we publicized the fact that we could take credit cards.

At today's prices, who carries that much cash around?

Popcorn is expensive. Caramel corn with almonds is $10 a bag. The Cheesy popcorn was $15. The chocolate covered pretzels were $25. And single bags of popcorn were $1. Who buys a single bag of popcorn, even from the scouts.

The first couple that walked by looked and snorted.

Customers may be always right but they are almost always rude, too. Aaron was polite saying hello to everyone and asking if they wanted to buy popcorn for the Scouts. After all, the money isn't for us. It goes to help the Scouts and Scout charities and efforts.

Two older ladies stopped looked and asked why we didn't have cookies. Cookies are for the Girl Scouts I wanted to scream, my fingers getting numb from the chilled air. But we smiled and shrugged. And they walked off.

You really don't know how bad the economy is until you have to buy food at the grocery store and choke when the total rings up. Or, when you are selling popcorn to the public, even in front of a high end technology store like HHGregg. Several customers came up and asked when they could buy for $4. No coincidence. They both asked, separately, what they could buy for $4. We didn't have anything for $4 but we could sell them 4 single packs of popcorn kernels they could take home and microwave, if they had a microwave which I think every family does. Right?

It got really windy so we had to move over on the other side of the bike rack that no one really uses. Carrying the table a few feet just to stay warm.

I could take credit cards "with the iPhone" I said to assure people it wasn't a scam. People don't like to hand their credit cards over to people standing behind tables even in Scout uniforms. "With the iPhone" I repeated to people to give them some assurance. That's where life is headed people, so get used to it. I'm no big Steve Jobs fan at all. His products are designed to squeeze money out of our pockets repeatedly. Over and over again forcing us to spend money to upgrade, "improve" and replace things we spent hundreds of dollars already to buy only to be told it's no longer good enough. The month after I bought the iPhone 4S they said the iPhone 5 was coming out. $499 down the drain if I "upgrade" and buy the new iPhone for $500.

All these things were going through my mind as we looked at the little cigar box -- those are antiques aren't they? We sold two bags of caramel corn, and 9 single bags of popcorn kernels that had to be microwaved.

$29 total. One guy came up and gave Aaron $2 as a donation. He thought we were panhandling for the poor, even though Aaron was in his Boy Scout Uniform, which I admit, has changed dramatically since when I wore the uniform back in the 1960s. More colors. More designs. Millions of patches for everything.

At the end of three hours, we repacked the product into the boxes and I carried them one at a time to the car. Aaron stayed by the table just in case there was a rush of customers. "Hey don't close. I just spent $800 on a 40 inch flatscreen TV. I need to buy some popcorn. No. Chocolate covered pretzels. Don't goooooooo!"

But we were gone.

Maybe the Scouts should start selling iPhones. People seem to be able to afford them. But popcorn at a few bucks. The economy sucks too badly.

Thanks to HHGregg for being so generous. They deserve it for supporting the Boy Scouts.

-- Ray Hanania

Sunday, September 23, 2012

More racist hatred from Fran Eaton and Dennis LaComb, Tea Party bigots, this time against Muslims

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Racists and bigots Fran Eaton and Dennis LaComb of the Illinois Review are at it again on their rightwing hate web site "Illinois Review."

This time, the hate-duo targets all Muslims and blames them for the murder of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens who was killed in Benghazi by terrorists during a protest by Libyans in front of the US Embassy provoked by the hate video on youtube by the Coptic Orthodox Christian anti-Semite who claimed he was an "Israeli American."

Eaton and LaComb, who are notorious for their racist attacks against Arabs, Muslims and minorities, wrote a vicious column basically attacking a handful of American Muslims who serve on Gov. Pat Quinn's Muslim Advisory Commission. Eaton and LaComb argue that all Muslims are responsible for the acts of Muslims anywhere. In other words, the non-Libyan Muslims who are members of Governor Quinn's Muslim Advisory Council, according to Eaton and LaComb didn't issue an official statement denouncing the murder of Ambassador Stevens.

The Stevens murder was roundly denounced in the Arab World.

But the Muslim Advisory Council is responsible for helping Muslims who live in Illinois -- there are more than 1 million in Illinois (about 450,000 Arabs who are half Muslim and half Christian, and another 500,000 non-Arabs Muslims.

But racists don't know the difference between Muslims. For example, the Illinois Review identifies the Muslim members of the state advisory panel -- which is mandated to offer guidance and advice to the governor on issues involving Muslims in Illinois -- are mainly non-Arabs. There are no Libyan members of the Advisory Panel. But that doesn't matter because Eaton and LaComb, typically ignorant rightwing Tea Party fanatic haters, don't know the difference between Pakistanis and Palestinians, Iranians and Iraqis, and Libyans and liars like the Tea Party morons.

Eaton and LaComb argue that the advisory group has been silent on the murder. That's ridiculous. For example, why haven't Eaton and LaComb issued statements denouncing James Holmes, the White Man who murdered all those attendees at the Batman movie premiere. They haven't denounced the dozens of White men who have murdered thousands of innocent victims in serial killing sprees across America. They would NEVER denounce a White Man, or woman, who murdered a Muslim or an Arab, because, well, Tea Party morons are basically skinheads with hair.

(Thinking of Eaton, they are also ugly, too!)

Here is the published list of the Muslim Advisory commission members. At the end of the list is a link where you can email Governor Quinn and tell him that Fran Eaton and Dennis LaComb are idiots and should be denounced immediately. Hate web sites like Illinois Review should not be allowed in a Free America. But haters like Eaton and LaComb only believe certain kinds of people should be free. The rest of us, well, you can read their hate column at Illinois Review for yourself.
Samreen Khan (Council Co-Chair) - Senior Policy Advisor and Liaison to Asians and Muslims, Office of Governor Patrick J. Quinn
Kareem M. Irfan, Esq - President, Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago
Safaa Zarzour, Esq - Secretary General, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
Dr. Irfan Ahmad - Executive Director and Research Faculty, Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology/Agricultural & Biological Engineering, University of Illinois
S. Jafer Husnain - Partner, Lifeline Assets
Maryam Mostoufi - Director, Center for Living Spiritually
Dr. Inamul Haq - Adjunct Professor, Elmhurst College
Rami Nashashibi - Executive Director, Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN)
Dr. Mohammed Zaher Sahloul - Chairman, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC)
Ahmed Rehab - Executive Director, Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Murad Moosa Bhaidani - President, His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for the Midwestern United States
Clyde Elameen - Retired President, Olive Harvey College
Tariq I El-Amin - Executive Director, Bridging The Gap
Dr. Bambade Shakoor Abdullah - Executive Director of Leadership Deveopment Institute and Principal of Cmecca School
Anas Usman - Director, Sales Strategy and Operations, Americas, Google
Maaria Mozaffar, Esq - Principal Attorney, Law Office of Maaria Mozaffar
Eboo Patel - Executive Director, Inter-Faith Youth Core (IFYC)
Imad Rahman - Chief Financial Officer of Avicenna Community Health Center and Board of Directors, Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center (CIMIC)
Nia Odeoti-Hassan - Board Member, Islamic Society of Greater Springfield
Mumtaz Champsi - Founder, Enviro Capital
Jeff (Dzafer) Kulenovic - Senior Vice President, CenTrust Bank
Tariq Malhance - CFO, Cook County Board
Laila Muhammad - President, Alshamseyya Social Service Organization
Salim Al Nurridin - Chief Executive Officer, Healthcare Consortium of Illinois
Najjar Abdul-Musawwir - Associate Professor of Fine Arts, Southern Illinois University
Wesley Lebron - Vice President, Islamic D.O.O.R.; President, Latino Muslims of Chicago
To contact Governor Quinn, see information HERE.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Palos Heights Restaurant showcases local comedians

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Palos Heights Restaurant showcases local comedians

Sam Buca’s in Palos Heights will showcase a lineup of local comedians at a special performance Wednesday Sept. 26.

Performers will include longtime club owner and comedian Bill Brady, comedians Brian Hicks, Paul Kelly and a special appearance by Southwest News-Herald Columnist Ray Hanania.

The show begins at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $10 each with a two drink purchase minimum. Dinner is also available for guests during the show.

For information, call Sam Buca’s, 12231 S. Harlem Avenue, at 708-361-1226.


Friday, September 7, 2012

James Glasgow should run for Governor of Illinois

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The good news in the Drew Peterson conviction is that finally, after tolerating years of Peterson's outrageous arrogant taunting of justice and the public, he was finally convicted for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Peterson is a low-life skank, the kind of human trash that makes you wonder about how someone like that manages to become a part of a police department. Of course, a close look at Bolingbrook's controversy-plagued, corrupt-looking police department pretty much explains the "how" of it all.
But the real good news is Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow.

Finally, someone who is not afraid to stand up for the rights of the victims of crimes. Someone who is willing to roll up his sleeves and fight the good fight for real justice. Finally, someone who doesn't run for a tough battle but instead goes into it will all of his talents, convictions and relentless energy.

The real victory in the Peterson conviction is the rise of James Glasgow. This is a guy who clearly has shown he cares more about the people he represents than the politics that often corrupts the system and undermines true justice.

The people finally have someone who doesn't let fearing losing a fight prevent him from fighting, especially when it involves the rights of the public who oftentimes are an after-thought for most elected officials.

Glasgow is my candidate for Governor of Illinois. Maybe Illinois Attorney General. Maybe for the US Senate. But surely someone we need in Illinois to stand up and fight for us. Someone the public can trust to defend their rights, not abuse them. Glasgow is the person who we, the public, can give our trust, and then return to our everyday lives without becoming investigators or vigilantes because the current system has let us all down. Glasgow is someone we can proudly say "represents us, the people."

For a change.

Run for higher office, Glasgow. Run!

Fight, now, for Stacy Peterson, Glasgow! And then turn your sights on that cesspool of government corruption, Bolingbrook. The public is with you whatever you plan to do!

-- Ray Hanania

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Finally joined a health club, LifeTime, to lose weight and trim up

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You get older and your metabolism slows down. And as your metabolism slows down, you start to put on weight. Most people put on weight in "shifts." That means as you age 10 or so, your weight increases and adjusts to a new "normal." Many people try to off-set weight gain by eating healthy. But eating healthy isn't enough. Remember, your metabolism slows, so what used to be "regular eating habits" are now excessive eating habits for you. What you used to eat before, now is adding weight as the process of burning calories naturally slows with your metabolism.

So you have to exercise. Exercise helps compensate for metabolism slow-down. It actually helps boost your metabolism.

Well, in the 20s, 30s and even the 40s, my metabolism was always good. Now that I'm in my 50s, I can't rely on it to eliminate the calories and weight that I have been putting on. I reach a natural plateau in the 50s of 220 lbs. Everyone has a different natural plateau of weight. That's mine. But, when you enjoy eating the way I do, the weight starts to pack it in, and it doesn't spread around equally. For some reason, weight gain loves to hang around my waist. 

And that weight gain adds stress and the stress wears you down and pushes your metabolism down, too. It's a vicious cycle.

I tried dieting. I did the Atkins Diet in the 40s and 50s and it worked great. Sure Atkins died of a heart attack. Basically, everyone does, eventually. The Atkins Diet is great for fast weight loss but the real challenge isn't getting used to the boring daily menu of all protein for 10 days or more, but rather when you are done and lost 30 pounds, how do you keep it off.

Eventually, Atkins weight loss stops working if you do it too often. Maybe it causes liver problems or gall bladder problems, too.

I lost 40 pounds once on Atkins. I kept it off for about a year, but eventually it slowly crept back on with a vengeance. Lost weight doesn't like Atkins and when it comes back, it packs in the fat even more.

In the 30s and 40s, I used to belong to the East Bank Club downtown. It really wasn't to lose weight but to have fun. It was a power convergence point where you met clients, old and new. It was fun, more like a country club for people who liked to spend a lot of money on exercise-wear, the fashionable sexy stuff that looks great on models, people like Jillian Michaels and on TV commercials, but looks funny when on regular people. There is a whole industry in fitness clothing and now technology, too. 

Maybe I should find a fitness business for a client to help them because most really don't know how to market beyond the community demand they enjoy -- people who come to them rather than being led to them to join.

Teh Nova Plates at the EBC were great. The pool on the rooftop was the best in Chicagoland. Hot women, too. Isn't that why most men join a health club? To meet hot women? 

Maybe so. But that's before they start to put on weight.

So last week, after a decade of ignoring the physics of life, I decided to join LifeTime in Orland Park. It costs about $140 a month for a family of three, including my son.

Why not? I thought. I waste a lot of money other ways in life, especially on technology that doesn't last very long.

I have to tell you the past week has made a huge difference for me. I've moseyed on up to 2306 pounds. Yikes. I can't help it. I'm Middle Eastern and I love food. Being Middle Eastern is an advantage when it comes to healthy living. That Mediterranean Diet is phenomenal and does a lot of good. Though I had a heart valve replacement surgery several years ago, my arteries were clean and clear. Because of the extra virgin olive oil and the hummus and garbanzo beans and the Tahini. Believe it! That Mediterranean diet works and can help you clean your system.

Of course, some people are genetically inclined to bad health. My dad smoked for 60 of his 70 years, two packs of Camel filterless cigarettes a day. He lived 70 years, but probably would have lived 100 had he not smoked. (I smoked when I was in college but quit during basic training in the Air Force and never picked it up again. That was more than 40 years ago.)

In one week, I'm down 10 lbs. I went from 236 lbs to 226 lbs and I am eating the way I always eat. The only difference is I go to the healthclub every morning around 5:30 or 6 am -- sounds early but I am up at 5 am every morning and I usually sit at a computer and write for 2 1/2 hours before heading for a hectic day of managing media and political consulting clients who are ALWAYS ON THE FRONTLINES OF CONTROVERSIAL NEWS. In the media almost everyday. That's stressful, the other killer of people besides age.

I have a plan. I power walk one hour every morning. That's it. That translates into about 3 miles with the treadmill set at "3."

I was going to buy a treadmill. I found a ProForm 850 that normally costs $1,200 at Walmart for only $490. Almost bought it. Fortunately, I don't have an SUV any more so I couldn't get it home and changed my mind. The next day, I joined Lifetime.

Of course, the only problem with Lifetime is they have been doing this so long they don't care any more. The service there is pretty shabby. There's no follow-up. Just the fast-talking sign-up pitch and then pay. I was going to join anyway.

The equipment is out-of-date. So 80s. The treadmills don't connect to the technology. You can't plug in your iPod into the treadmill or any of the equipment. They told me they are going to install WiFi in September. If you have to wait that long, you obviously don't understand how important wireless is to today's society.

They have a wall of TV sets each tuned to a different channel and you can listen in to any of them by using an FM radio set to the channel. (91.1 FM, for example.) The problem is the system sucks. I don't want to go out and buy a radio. I dropped the radio and all the other technology that followed like the Walkman when the iPod and iPad and iPhone were born, about 5 years ago.

You can go to Radio Shack and buy a $20 adapter to plug into your iPod Touch or iPhone to listen to the TV FM broadcast signals of your choice. (There are about 10 of them). But they don't work on the iPod Classic or on the iPad which has a 10-12 hour battery strength. The iPhone lasts a few hours but you will be burning up battery power pretty quick.

So I set the iPad on the Treadmill ledge that is there coincidentally. Not as a ledge to hold an iPad but as a design feature. I just lucked out. And I use a Bluetooth earphone system -- Back Beat Go from Plantronics. And I play an audio book and listen while I work out.

It makes the time go faster, especially learning more and more about Internet marketing and media and PR from the audio book I purchased.

Lifetime is not the power location to meet clients, either. Which is good, I guess. It's worn down looking. The in-door and out-door pools are good, but we're members of the Orland Pool, which for $150 a year is the BEST! The only advantage of Lifetime is that their in-door pool is heated and open all year round, and a great choice after the outdoor pools there and at Millennium Park close for the Fall.

The food isn't bad at their little restaurant at the entrance. Very healthy and very affordable, too. A good buy.

Anyway, it's just been 10 days. But the results of daily exercising speak for themselves.

I'll keep you updated when I am down to a svelte 180 lbs and have a 8 ridge washboard stomach. Well, just  being able to look down and see all of my feet without leaning forward, well, that's something any baby boomer would hope for these days.

-- Ray Hanania

Friday, July 20, 2012

The assertion that “banning guns would stop the criminals” has a major flaw

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Well here is a fact, folks: "Don't outlaw guns, outlaw the criminals ... it's the criminals who get guns and kill people. If we ban guns, the only people who will have them are the criminals." 

Well, maybe that wouldn't be so bad, based on history: Think about it. 

James Holmes was not a criminal, just a 24 year old with no major criminal history, with an arsenal at his home. He killed 12 and injured 71. 

There was Seung-Hui Cho, who shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 people in 2007 at Virginia Tech. He wasn't a criminal, just an Asian American college kid. 

John Hinckley, Jr.'s shot Reagan, Brady and Orland's Police Chief Tim McCarthy on March 30, 1981. He wasn't a criminal, but he got a hold of a gun. 

The two kids at Columbine High school in 1999 in Columbine, Colorado were not criminals. But they got a hold of an arsenal of weapons. 

On Jan. 8, 2011, Jared Lee Loughner killed six and wounded at least 12, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, outside a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz. He wasn't a criminal either. 

On Nov. 5, 2009, Major Nidal Hasan, a psychologist with the U.S. Army, killed 13 soldiers and wounded 42 others at a base in Fort Hood, Texas. He wasn't a criminal and was authorized to have a legal weapon. 

On April 3, 2009 Jiverly Wong, 42, burst into a citizenship class at an immigration center in Binghamton, N.Y., and killed 13 and wounded four, before he killed himself. He wasn't a criminal.

On March 30, 2009, a gunman shot eight people to death and wounded several others at a nursing home in North Carolina. Most of those killed were elderly nursing home patients. The suspect did not have a criminal past.

On March 29, 2009, a man killed five of his family members, including his two children, and wounded his wife at a townhome in Santa Clara, Calif., before killing himself.

On March 10, 2009, Michael McLendon, 28, killed several of his family members including his mother and grandparents, and then went on a rampage killing 10 people in several towns in Alabama before killing himself.

On Dec. 24, 2008,  Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, dressed up in a Santa suit and showed up at a Christmas party at his ex-wife’s parents’ house in Covina, Calif., and killed nine people to death. He then burned the house and then killed himself.

On Feb. 14, 2008, a former graduate student at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., killed five students in a lecture hall, and wounded many others, before shooting himself.

This is just a partial list of the mass murders that have taken place. There are two dozen more I can cite. In EVERY CASE, the killers were NOT CRIMINALS, but regular people who got a hold of a weapon and then went on a murder spree.

It isn't just "criminals" who we have to stop from getting guns.

The 2nd Amendment was written for a different world, and there's no reason why it can't be changed to protect our rights in today's world.

-- Ray Hanania

(Some of the chronology data above is from WKBT News in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan hammers inaccuracies in the Chicago Tribune

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July 18,2012

Dear Members of the General Assembly:

As you know, the Chicago Tribune published several articles that implied conflicts of interest between my law practice and my position as Speaker. These articles provided ample speculation, but few facts. I have come to learn from individuals interviewed by the Tribune that the authors were provided information that directly contradicted the reporters' conclusions-but that information appears nowhere in the articles.

Despite the implications, it is clear that the reporters have failed to uncover any evidence of conflicts of interest or quid pro quo between my legislative acts and the interests of my law firm, or of any other unethical conduct on my part.

They have failed to find any evidence because it does not exist. Yet they insist on publishing articles that imply, if not outright state, that I have engaged in inappropriate conduct.

None of my actions as Speaker or as an attorney have been inappropriate or violation of any applicable law or ethical rule, I have imposed requirements on my law firm and myself, beyond what is required by the law, to ensure ethical conduct, and I go to great lengths to make certain there is a clear division between my law practice and my actions as a public official, Any potential law firm client who seeks a State benefit is not accepted, lf a client requests my intercession with a State agency, I refuse. lf a client expresses an interest in legislation, I recuse myself from consideration of the bill.

Even though the Tribune consistently ignores information that might cast their stories in a considerably different light, I am grateful to share such information with you. Enclosed you will find information relevant to the implications, as well as several inaccuracies found in the articles.

With kindest personal regards, I remain

Sincerely yours,

Monday, July 2, 2012

Have we artificially created the heat crisis?

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Have we artificially created the heat crisis?

When I was young, we didn't have air conditioning. So when the power went out, it wasn't about being hot. We were always hot in the muggy summers and the temperatures often exceeded 100 degrees.

What we did experience was boredom. No electricity meant no TV. No fans. No lights at night. No alarm clocks to wake us up when it was Sunday and we had to go to work on Mondays. We didn't use electric shavers, so dad could still get ready for work.

We didn't have all the computers and technology that requires electricity. We sat around with candles, talked. Walked outside and chatted with our neighbors. In Chicago, homes were closer together so there were more families on one block and we would socialize. The suburbs spread us out more but even then, we would come out and say hello. even though we didn't have a stoop to cluster around.

Nowadays, things are different. And I wonder, have we been spoiled by all that we have and take for granted?

Central Air conditioning is like a mandate in homes. In the old days as a child and even a teenager and young adult, we didn't have central air. We had fans. Small fans and tall fans that we put in the hallways, or entrances to our rooms. We circulated the air. We didn't open the iceboxes -- well, refrigerators -- I still call them ice boxes. We had one when I was very young, a box with a large ice block in it delivered every two days or so to chill the meat and the milk.

We didn't have bottled pop in the house. We went out to buy it. And We didn't have bottled water, either. We did drink water from the tap.

If the electricity went out during the day, we turned on the sprinklers and played on the front lawns to cool off. We had small rubber pools with metal rims that formed Square pools. 

And then one day, it just happened. We had little window air conditioners. They cost a lot, about $400. Back in the 1970s, $400 was a lot of money. Maybe the equivalent of $2,000 today. Just to buy one window sized air conditioner that dripped water, usually outside of the house, and hung in your window with the sill pulled down to hold it in place. It drained a lot of electricity, too. We had one room with the air conditioner. Usually mom and dad's room. Then, we bought a second one. And we tried to concentrate the cold, chilled air into one or two rooms.

There were no big news reports about power outages. It just wasn't news. Maybe a big snow storm was, like in 1967 when we had all that snow and the City of Chicago was buried in a foot and a half o white, cold powdered snow. But Walter Cronkite didn't waste time telling us that we couldn't survive the power outages. He told us about the Cold War, though. And Sputnik and the Commies and the threat of war from Khruschev.

That made us more uncomfortable than the muggy, humid air.

Today, when there is a power outage, it's the main story. The media finds someone who can barely make it and now they report on the people who died. They reported abut people who died from the heat in the past but it wasn't as dramatic. 

The advent of air conditioning changed everything. But it just came in with all the other technology that changed everything, too. The cold air felt so great when the temperatures hit 100. Unbelievable. And when the electricity went out, we started to really feel the hot, humid, muggy air. It became very uncomfortable once we experienced air conditioning. Having air conditioning made losing the electricity that much more dramatic. It made it worse. The more we moved into more comfortable lives, the harder it was to experience discomfort.

Air conditioning helped the world change. And power outages have never been the same since.

-- Ray Hanania

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Any consistency in watering regulations in the suburbs?

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Is there any consistency in water regulations? All of the suburbs buy their Michigan water through the City of Chicago, some through middle men like in Oak Lawn. SO we pay through the nose because Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is greedy and punitive when it comes to the suburbs. It's about money for him and his fast deteriorating, street gang plagued city.

But is their any consistency in water regulations?

The Village of Orland Park imposes an even-odd day system allowing resident to water 7 am to 11 am and 7 pm to 11 pm on their days. Home addresses ending in even numbers water on even days and home addresses ending in odd numbers water on odd days.

But that's just for people who water using hoses and manual sprinklers. The industry that makes these sprinklers have gone from bad to worse, replacing the metal sprinklers with plastic ones that barely last one summer season.

People who have "in-ground, automatic sprinklers systems" seem to be able to water any time they want with no repercussions. Is that fair? I don't think so. Actually, if a homeowner spends $3,000 to install an in-ground sprinkler system, you would think they would include an automatic system that can distinguish between odd and even dates? It's all digital these days.

But I see people watering all the time in violation of the even-odd system.

It's not fair.

I try to water about once every five days, front and back, moving the sprinklers around on the lawn in the morning and then in the evening. It seems to work, but it is a hassle.

I stopped a guy who was checking on someone's sprinkler system and asked him to give me an estimate on an in-ground system for my home, but he told me I should call his office. Don't want the business? No problem. You won't get it.

But can't we have some sense of fairness with water?

The mayor of Orland Park Dan McLaughlin did a robo-call tonight urging residents to conserve water this week when temperatures hit the upper 90s. Check on your senior neighbors, too. And watch electricity.

Checking on seniors is important. But why the rest of the constraints? Don't we have enough water and electricity to go around even when the temperatures are up there? I mean is 99 really that serious? Or have we just become overly cautious. When the temperatures exceed 100, I can see taking extra precautions. Cooling centers. Monitoring your neighbors. Conserving on water? But we have to do it every summer, regardless of the temperatures.

What do you do in your suburb? It would be nice to hear what restrictions are everywhere else.

-- Ray Hanania

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Outdoor cafes and restaurants in Orland Park

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Outdoor cafes and restaurants in Orland Park

I love Memorial Day Weekend for a lot of reasons including I get to relax and really enjoy the community. in Orland Park. And one of the real beauties of Orland Park in the summer are the many outdoor patios that several restaurants and cafes have here.

So I stopped by Shami Restaurant in the old Borders Book Store Plaza -- I miss Borders -- and sat out on the patio to enjoy some good Middle Eastern food, the great weather and the people who were buzzing about doing their shopping or just driving through.

Shami is one of the few Middle Eastern restaurants in the area, even though there are a lot of Arab Americans living here. Orland has the beautiful Mosque, and although the majority of Arabs here are Christian there is no Arab Church in Orland Park. That's too bad. Maybe it's because they can go to any church and worship whereas Muslims don't really have that many choices.

So Shami and a few other Arab bakeries including my favorite, Laila's Grape Vine on John Humprhey Drive in the Horton Plaza, really add some spice to the food options among the many great restaurant choices that are out here.

I ordered a small hummus plate, Jerusalem salad (diced tomatoes, cucumbers with tahini -- sesame seed -- dressing), a small hummus (crushed garbanzo beans with Tahini) and the Royal Plate which seemed to be a large plate of mixed chicken, lamb, ground beef with parsely (kifta kabob) and basmati (Persian) rice. And several cans of Diet Coke and enough bread to eat the hummus and feed some of the Sparrows brave enough to come near the tables and stare.

A lot of American soldiers returning from service in the Middle East have become patrons of these Arab restaurants. They went to Iraq to fight and came back loving the hummus, falafel, tahini, salads, kibbis and kabobs. Even the ones who went to Afghanistan, which isn't Arab or Middle Eastern, of course, but does share some of the same cultural foods.

The food was great but the weather was even better. And it was enjoyable, eating the hummus with cuts from the Syrian Pita Bread. One thing you learn when you serve in Iraq or visit a Middle Eastern country is that you can put the tahini-based salads on the rice to make it taste even better. That Tahini is great. (If you like Middle Eastern foods, go to my facebook page and check out one of the groups I belong to called Mediterranean Foods. You'll meet a lot more people who share their food recipes or experiences in Middle Eastern foods.)


Jerusalem, Tahini Salad

Royal Plate Chicken kabob, lamb kabob and kifta kabob

Shami is one of several restaurants in Orland Park worth checking out. And sitting out on the patio to enjoy the food makes the whole experience in Orland Park even more enjoyable.