Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Normal: What Can We Say?

There's a website that lists city mottos and nicknames. Some of them are clever, some mention local landmarks, and some lend themselves to jokes.  Here are a few that I think are worth mentioning (you'll have to look up the corresponding cities):

An Oasis of Recreation
A Place to Watch
A Slice of Heaven on Earth
Beauty and Progress
Capital of the Cow Country
City of Colleges
The City Different
City of Homes
City of Medicine
Cow Chip Capital
Dear Hearts and Gentle People
Everywhere Should Be Like This
Easy Living, Where Good People Count
The Friendly City 
Ghost Town
Giant Hog
Giant Cow
Giant Pirate
The Heartbeat of Agriculture
Home of the Corn Fest
It’ll Take You By Surprise!
It’s not the end of the earth, but you can see it from here
It’s the Climate
It’s the People
Little But Proud
Living With a Mystery
Old Town, New Spirit
On the Road to a Better Future
Something for Everyone
Timeless Beauty . . . Ageless Fun
The Town Too Tough to Die
The Town Without a Frown
To the Stars Through Difficulties
We are Here to Grow
We’re On Our Way
What a Hometown Should Be
You Couldn’t Pick a Better Place

I think these are the two mottos that would work for Normal:

It's All the Name Implies

Where the Name Just Says it All

Friday, April 22, 2011

Normal: Earth Day 2011

Happy Earth Day, Normal!
It's been 41 years since the first Earth Day. What could you do to observe this occasion?
*Visit a park.
*Plant a tree, flower, bush, or some grass seed.
*Unplug (as much as possible) today.
*Walk or bike.
*Plan to celebrate the earth every day!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Normal: Your Ad Here!

Cash-strapped states have started selling ad space on school buses, in school cafeterias, on campus parking lots, on school web sites, in prison holding areas, and in the waiting area at the DMV. It's one way to generate revenue.

Ah, I can see it now: at Normal Town Council meetings, the Council member who gives the introduction to the meeting (for the cable broadcast) will announce who is sponsoring that meeting ("This meeting brought to you by Hank's Barbershop -- we're hair for you!"), there will be advertising signs posted on the front of the table where the meeting members sit, and ads will scroll across the bottom of the screen. There could even be product placement at the meetings (cans of soft drinks sitting with their logos facing the camera with occasional close-ups of the cans).

Local parks could have ads on or inside the bathrooms, town vehicles could have ads on them, and the town's website (soon to be updated) could have ads on it. It's not so far-fetched when you realize that we already have bird heads stenciled on the streets and an ISU redbird painted on a water tower. Those are government properties that are being used to promote ISU. Advertising is everywhere and we've come to accept it.

This blog is brought to you by  The blogger's hair styling and wardrobe are brought to you by a local hair salon and various local department stores.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Normal: Cool College Town!

There are many, many ways to rank colleges and college towns. One article lists the "coolest" college towns, citing their restaurants with "authentic cuisines," the scenery, the sports, the museums, etc. I guess their definition of a cool college town is a place that offers something for everyone.

Normal wasn't on this particular list but we could argue that it has its own cool quotient. There are the obvious features, such as the festivals, museums and historical sites, parks/trail, sports, and the wide variety of eating establishments. But there are also features that make Normal uniquely cool.  For example, there is always construction taking place, which should appeal to engineering and architectural design types (and to those who built stuff with Legos when they were kids). City Hall is centrally located so anyone who enjoys democracy-in-action, animated NIMBY debates can get their fill. Bicycle vs. vehicle showdowns occur daily on local streets. And for avian entertainment, there are geese not only on local ponds, but also in parking lots, on sidewalks, and out in the streets. If Normal has an official bird, it should be the goose (which would leave us vulnerable to jokes but with a name like Normal, we can take it).

And there are the features of Normal's ambiance which also add to its coolness, such as the mixture of a rather conservative residential population and local government with what one would assume to be a somewhat liberal college population -- guaranteed to provide entertaining clashes on occasion! And Normal's weather provides challenges unmatched by climbing a mountain trail (take that, University of Virginia!) or looking at bats in a cave (big deal, University of Texas!): the wind in Normal whips your hair and clothes in seven directions at once; the bitter cold of January requires seriously heavy outerwear while the humid 90-degree days in August require the lightest clothing possible as well as a variety of sandals, and the frequent severe storms require the need for a basement, a reliable sump pump, and the ability to quickly change plans.

Still not cool enough? How about the Camelback bridge and the Corn Crib ballpark? Or how about the amazing feats of negotiating the streets around ISU during move-in day?

Normal? Way cool.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Normal: Cold Pavement (Warm Hearts)

I went to Hope College in Holland, Michigan, so this article about Holland's heated sidewalks and streets caught my attention. The heating feature was not in place when I was there, so I remember well what "lake effect snow" did to the sidewalks and streets. Can you imagine having clear pavement to walk and drive on even when it's snowing? The store owners don't have to spend time and money clearing the sidewalks and the city saves money by not having to plow and salt the main street through the business district. It's too bad that this feature wasn't added during the recent Uptown renovations. Retrofitting this kind of feature into existing pavement is probably so expensive that it would take many, many years to make up for the cost in what would be saved (the cost of salt, labor, and fixing potholes). Too bad. It would have been great.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Normal Park Ping Pong?

New York City is experimenting with an outdoor ping pong table. It's a fancy one so it cost quite a bit -- $3,490 to be exact. But what a great idea! Make the table and "net" from durable materials and rent out paddles and balls (or people can bring their own). It would bring people together in a public space, provide some exercise for young and old, and be a new form of entertainment that doesn't require much cost other than the initial purchase. I'd love to see one on in a local park or on a local college campus (hint, hint).

Friday, April 1, 2011

Normal College Town: A Good Place for Retirement?

This is an article about a trend of more retired people moving to retirement communities in college towns. It's a great idea because there is such a wide variety of events taking place on college campuses: plays, music, sports, celebrations, talks, etc. College towns also tend to have good public transportation, which helps the students and the retirees.

The article specifically mentions partnerships between colleges/universities and retirement communities. I think there are some efforts along these lines locally and I would like to see more of them. Both the colleges and the retirees can contribute and benefit from such partnerships.