Thursday, November 26, 2009

Normal Barbee

Just in time for Christmas: Normal Barbee! You’ll enjoy getting Normal Barbee ready for her day at State Farm, dressing her in one of her many corporate outfits. Then, get her to work in her new SUV, remembering to stop at her favorite coffee establishment to get a latté. After work, Normal Barbee passes the time in the local rush hour traffic by chatting with friends and family on her new cell phone. She rushes through yellow-to-red traffic lights, weaving from lane to lane. Uh oh, is that the front end of an NPD car sitting at the entrance to a subdivision? Better help Normal Barbee slow down or her nosy coworkers will see her additional speeding ticket listed on the McLean County Government web site.

When Normal Barbee gets home, she takes time to read the Pantagraph and then gets ready for an evening out at the newest local restaurant. A quick check of the Weather Channel to see if there are any weather emergencies (tornado warning, winter weather advisory, etc.) and then she’s out the door!

You’ll have endless hours of fun with Normal Barbee – getting her through all of the construction zones around town, clipping weekly coupons for her to use at local department stores, and keeping her informed about all of the local special events. You can also watch Normal Barbee go from a Normal newby to an experienced town resident, writing letters of complaint to the Pantagraph, expressing her opinions anonymously on web sites, and letting Town Council members know her concerns about proposed developments. For fun, Normal Barbee can occasionally send humorous items to local columnist Bill Flick.

[Clothes, SUV, coffee cup, cell phone, NPD car, Pantagraph, and TV sold separately.]

Coming soon: Normal Ken – a bespectacled ISU Professor, complete with his own razor for shaving off his thinning hair, his own SUV, and a bottle of blue pills.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Normal Carol Parody

Uptown Normal’s Nearly Complete
(To the tune “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”)

Oh! You better watch out
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I’m telling you why:
Uptown Normal’s nearly complete!

It’s taken a while,
It’s been a real pain,
But now we can smile
And drive through again.
Uptown Normal’s nearly complete!

The Marriott is open,
The curbs are all in place.
And when you use the Parking Deck,
There’s no scowl upon your face.

But there’s no need to drive,
The Trail’s right there.
So hop on a bike
And get some fresh air.
Uptown Normal’s nearly complete!

The residents come.
The students do, too.
They think it’s awesome,
So shiny and new!
Uptown Normal’s nearly complete!

The landscaping is pretty.
The Traffic Circle’s fun.
And we’ll have a great big party
When this project’s finally done.

So, take time this fall!
There’s no more delay!
Come see what Normal
Looks like today!

Uptown Normal’s nearly complete!

From the past two years:

Uptown Wonderland
(To the tune “Winter Wonderland”)

Detour signs do confound us
While the cranes all surround us.
It’s a chaotic sight
That’s got us uptight
Driving through the Uptown Wonderland.

When you come, you’re a-hopin’
That the street will be open
But parking’s alright
Well, just late at night
Driving through the Uptown Wonderland.

In the morning you can come for breakfast
And enjoy the quiet, there’s no doubt.
But if you leave when too much time has passed
Beer trucks will be blocking your way out.

Thank Mayor Koos, when you see him,
That there’s no Coliseum!
Enjoy our town
Even though it’s torn down
Driving through the Uptown Wonderland
(Can you say “work zone”?)
Driving through the Uptown Wonderland!

It’s Beginning to Look Too Much Like Normal
(To the tune “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”)

It’s beginning to look too much like Normal
Everywhere you go.
Try to get to the Garlic Press
Avoiding construction mess
And there’s another detour through the snow.

It’s beginning to look too much like Normal
Traffic cones in stacks.
But the scariest sound you’ll hear
Is the Amtrak’s whistle near
While you’re on the tracks.

A finished circle for cars as they go to the bars
Is the wish that drivers would send.
A bike path that’s clear with pedestrians near
Is the best environment’s friend.
And Chris and Mark can hardly wait for all of this to end!

It’s beginning to look too much like Normal
Traffic lights galore –
Towanda and Shelbourne’s gain;
What a hassle at Raab and Main!
And there’s the one outside the new Shnuck’s store.

It’s beginning to look too much like Normal
When will it be done?
‘Cause our patience is running out
And I’m sure they hear us shout
Down in Bloomington.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Normal Money Crunch

After hearing the discussion about finding new sources of revenue and making cuts in order to maintain general fund reserves in the Normal budget, I thought about how these changes might or might not affect me. Increasing property and sales taxes will have a slight impact on my finances, but increases to towing fees and parking fines will not (hopefully). Ending electronics recycling will affect me when my “old model” TVs die. I guess I’ll have to put them on the curb, unless there won’t be any more bulky waste pick-up. In that case, I’ll have to get creative and find new uses for them (coffee table stands?) or find alternative recycling opportunities.

If there is no more brush or leaf pick-up, I think someone should start a business providing curbside mulching for Normal residents. I can mow over leaves as long as they’re dry, but I don’t know what I would do with all of the branches that I prune off the trees and bushes. I’d rather see a less frequent brush pick-up instead of no brush pick-up.

I don’t apply for Harmon Arts Grants, so suspending that program won’t affect me. And I can read the Newsline newsletter and P&R booklets online. “City Vision” has some information that I don’t usually seek out on my own but if Normal is no longer included in the broadcast, I’ll just have to make more of an effort to locate any information of interest.

Raising summer camp fees and discontinuing preschool programs won’t directly affect me, although there might be an indirect effect if young children in Normal are left to their own devices and wreak havoc in the area.

And I sure hope I won’t have to pay an “auto extrication fee,” although the older I get, the more difficult it has become to climb out of my subcompact car!