Friday, February 25, 2011

Normal's Circle as a Square?

There is an article that discusses the importance of "public squares" in current (and past) citizen uprisings. The idea is that we need these (real, not virtual) public spaces to gather, share, and voice our concerns, especially regarding the need for political change. I think that, aside from the section criticizing the role of the U.S. in world politics, the article makes a good point about the significance of public squares.

Would Normal's traffic circle (or do you call it the roundabout?) serve as such a public square? (I can see someone with a megaphone, getting people riled up as they march around the circle, carrying signs!) Or would citizens be more likely to gather on the ISU campus? I'm not suggesting that there is any current need for a gathering to seek political change in Normal! Just wondering if the lack of an obvious central public gathering place in the business district (as opposed to public parks, for example) would inhibit efforts of residents to publicly join together to express their concerns about some issue.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Normal Population

Census data show that Normal's population is now at 52,497.  The U.S. (resident) population is 308,745,538. The world's population is at 6,900,417,038 (as of this posting).

And I'm just 1.

Kind of puts it into perspective, doesn't it?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Normal Mayor's Whereabouts

New York City's Mayor Bloomberg is facing questions about his whereabouts when not in town. In fact, the Council is considering passing a bill requiring the Mayor to provide notification of his whereabouts. (Isn't 'whereabouts' an odd word?) This issue might be unique to New York City because (a) the Mayor is very wealthy and can afford to jet off to places, including his many vacation homes, and (b) it's a BIG city so when there is a crisis (such as a major snowstorm), city leaders need to know who is in charge, for how long, and where to contact the Mayor in case there are questions.

Do Normal citizens need to know where Normal's Mayor is when he's not in town?  And since this is a part-time position, do we need to know only part of the time? Aren't public officials entitled to some privacy?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Normal Normal Snow?

Everyone agrees that we've had a lot of snow recently. According to one site, the average early February snowfall in Normal is around 6 inches. Regardless of the actual amount of snow that we receive, what is considered normal snow in Normal? Is it determined by how often people have to clear their drives? Is it determined by the number of snow days that the local public schools take? Or is it determined by the number of newspaper articles focused on how people in the area are dealing with the snow? Maybe there is never a "normal" amount of snow, just a "normal" amount of grumbling about winter weather!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Normal Sounds (and Smells?) of Happiness

There is a mayor who has suggested broadcasting around town the sound of birds singing because it's supposed to make people happier. Who wouldn't enjoy the sound of repetitive chirping, warbling, and squawking?  We could try broadcasting that throughout the streets of Normal. But why stop with sounds? Why not scents?  The smell of hot tar used to fill potholes should make people happy. The smell of freshly cut grass without fertilizer or weed killer would be a nice change. And the smell of creosote (or whatever train smell you prefer) would reassure folks that we do need to invest in train travel. (I've lived next to railroad tracks and, trust me, there is a distinct aroma.)

The one problem with broadcasting sounds is that it is somewhat reminiscent of the Soviet Union's attempt to "cheer up" the area around Chernobyl (after the nuclear disaster) by playing music over loudspeakers. I'm always reminded of that when I visit the local outdoor shopping mall. Gives me the creeps (but doesn't stop me from spending money).