Stop Telling Me When To Use My Cell Phone

•June 6, 2011 • 6 Comments

Column: Takin’ Care of Business
By Scott L. Clark

Today is day one of the first full week of vacation I’ve taken in 2011. While most people would probably traveling to tropical paradises or relaxing at home, I’m spending my extra forty hours in a classroom. That’s right, I’m currently taking a condensed 3-credit class over the course of one week. Sure, I’d rather be sleeping in over the week or sitting in my basement playing video games, but it will be really nice to get a class knocked out in such a short amount of time.

This particular class is called “Technology in the Classroom”, and is supposed to teach me how to use modern devices as teaching tools when I become a teacher. Within the first hour, the teacher had us watching a youtube video about how we need to keep students engaged using technology that they are interested in. She even told a story about a student who compared going to school like getting on an airplane for a flight: while sitting in the terminal, we listen to our iPod’s, text on our phones and use our laptops, but as soon as we get on the plane we’re asked to “please shut off all electronic devices.” I sat back relieved with the idea that finally an adult was speaking my language. How refreshing it was to hear a professor say that technology is a good thing that we should embrace. Then, she promptly asked us to turn off our cell phones and not browse the Internet during the class. /facepalm Continue reading ‘Stop Telling Me When To Use My Cell Phone’


Negative Nancy

•May 31, 2011 • 2 Comments

Column: Finding the Good
by Caitlin Ludwig

This past week, Rockford was awarded a distinction that wasn’t very flattering.  Rockford was named one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the US by  While this is something that saddens a pro-Rockford girl like me, I understand that sometimes difficult times put people in difficult situations with horribly devastating outcomes.  It isn’t a secret that our community has been hit harder than many in this economic downturn and the rise of crime is often an outcome of such hardship.

Nevertheless, I have always felt safe in this city.  As a single, white, female in her mid-twenties, I have never feared going somewhere by myself or driving after dark.  While I am safety-conscience, I do not feel afraid to live, work or play in Rockford.  After chatting with a few friends on the matter, I found that they felt the same way.  The Rockford region is our home and we are proud to say so.

But what bothers me more than the actual ranking is the speed at which the article traveled through my Facebook newsfeed.  For days, the story kept popping up with sarcastic comments about Rockford ranging from “at least we’re known for something” and “yep, that’s good ole Rocktown!”  Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Rockford a place we call home?  Aren’t we willing and able adults who have the choice to live where we want to?  If you’re going to poke fun at Rockford and constantly promote the negative without trying to work toward a better solution, why on earth are you here?? Continue reading ‘Negative Nancy’

Hail to the Queen!!

•May 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Column: Doorway to Diversity,
by: Darold Ingram

Ok, for the record…….I’m NOT a fan of Oprah Winfrey. Wrong gender and demographic. And to be honest, I just flat out dislike her show.

But I’m here to give Oprah credit where credit is due.

I remember growing up in the mid 80’s where practically every women I knew were glued to their TVs at 9am to watch the Oprah Winfrey show. All women made references to her show and topics. They made references to her hairstyle, her weight, why she wasnt married, and “how can a woman have a talk show so popular” (remember these were the days of Phil Donahue).

Oprah was a story all her own, even apart from the show. All women looked up to her, black women in particular saw her as the very defnintion of what a woman sould be, outspoken, wealthy and independent.

This week, the Oprah Winfrey show comes to a close. And after so many years its clear to me why she was so successful with her show, and her business. Oprah wasn’t much of a host, or even an interviewer. If you look at alot of her shows with major stars, she did more schmoozing than asking difficult compelling questions. No, Oprah’s great talent was to inspire a generation of women through her personality and just being successful. And through her inspiration, she generated a tremendous fanbase of femals that seldom missed an episode. They propelled her to heights that she probably never thought possible.

I think that one of the great things about her success is she was able to do this while carrying a diverse group of women. Young old black white, American and non-American; women from around the globe were avid followers of herself and her show, making her the queen ofthe daytime talkshow circuit for nearly twenty years.

So here’s to you Oprah. As a male, I certainly wont miss you show, but I’m sure there are millions of inspired women who will.

-Darold Ingram

A Story That Starts With No Friends

•May 17, 2011 • 3 Comments

Column: Finding The Good
by Caitlin Ludwig

A long time ago, in a fair away land… Okay scratch that.

Three years ago, I moved to Rockford.  Originally, I’m from Byron – a small town about 20 minutes from Rockford with three stop lights (they added one since my childhood days – we used to only have 2!), a nuclear power plant and a lot of heart.  I had recently taken a job as an Internet Sales Coordinator at a car dealership in town.  Basically, it was the furthest thing from my “field” and I pretty much hated the job but I had watched “Pretty Woman” every day for the last 3 months since college graduation and I desperately needed a job if for no other reason than to get out of the house.

I moved into a small, but cozy, one bedroom apartment on Sage Drive on the North side of Rockford.  I bought a living room set and a cute kitchen table, painted a wall in my kitchen red and decorated my apartment with pictures of family and friends.  As I sat on my couch to admire my work, I realized something… all my friends in the frames staring back at me were at least 2 hours away.  If I wanted to catch a movie or hit the mall, I had no girlfriend to call.  Though I was only 20 minutes from home, I had moved to a brand new city with not a friend to my name.  I think it was at that moment that I sat on my couch and cried… for the first time of quite a few lonely Rockford nights. Continue reading ‘A Story That Starts With No Friends’

Groove to the music

•May 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Column: Live It Up
by Karissa Kienast

This Saturday, May 14 is the 13th Annual Groove Walk! This is one of my favorite events in the city and it is a great way to explore downtown. This annual walk features 11 different stops, each with a different band or performer. The event runs from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. and tickets are just $7 in advance, $10 at the door.

The great thing about Groove Walk is that you can walk around downtown, or you can hop on the RMTD trolley for a free ride. And there is music for everyone: country, blues, rock, latino, classic rock, pop, and R&B music are all featured throughout the night. If you don’t have your tickets yet, head out to CJ’s Lounge, Deli Italia, Guzzardo Performance Music, Kryptonite, Rue Marche, Swilligan’s, or the On the Waterfront Office to purchase tickets in advance.

This year’s line up features:

Bar 3 – Prime Time Live
CJ’s Lounge – Lizzi Neal Band
Deli Italia Lounge – Mana Kintorso
Hawk’s Nest – Steve Ditzell & Blue Lightning
Irish Rose – Patte Armato Lund w/ Mike McIntyre
Kiwi Cafe – Bar Stool Bob
Kryptonite – Dean Moriarty Jazz Band
Rue Marche – Agnus Jackson
Swilligan’s Pub – Second Wind
The Office – Sweet Lucy
Brio – Emily Hurd

For more information on Groove Walk, head to

Have fun this weekend, and please go check out one of the best events downtown has to offer!

Always Wear Sunscreen

•May 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Column: Finding the Good
by Caitlin Ludwig

Tis the season of cakes with unseemly gobs of frosting, square hats and long goodbyes.  It’s graduation time!!  This past Sunday, I attended my brother’s graduation ceremony from Coe College.  It was a beautiful day and the ceremony was outside which made the two hour ceremony much more enjoyable…. except for one small problem: I forgot to wear sunscreen.

Now this is completely ironic to me.  Graduation always reminds me of a little “song” that was popular during my middle school years: “Everyone’s Free To Wear Sunscreen” by Baz Luhrmann.  The speech was to the Class of ’99 but somehow is still completely relevant over a decade later.  The piece starts out with very simple advice: Always wear sunscreen.

If you’ve never heard the song or it’s been a good 10 years since the last time you heard it, I encourage you to take another listen.  Perhaps every May should be honored by a quick listen to Luhrmann’s timeless words.

As I drove home with my parents from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA, I could feel the burn on my neck beginning to hurt.  If only I had listened to Baz’s words of wisdom, I not only would be assured that no matter how fat I think I look, how crazed I am about life and how worried I am about the future it’s all perfectly normal and completely unnecessary and I wouldn’t be suffering from a burn every time I turn my head.

For those graduating this year, I wish you well.  Graduating is a bittersweet time because graduating, no matter from what, means change and change can be difficult.

For those who aren’t graduating, take a quick listen to Baz’s words of wisdom.  It’s a good refresher on life lessons that sometimes we forget.

So no matter who you are, take a listen.   I promise you, it will be a great 5 minutes and 29 seconds of your day.


Not Classy Enough for B&Bs

•May 3, 2011 • 6 Comments

Column: Finding the Good
by Caitlin Ludwig

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to stay in my very first bed and breakfast (B&B).  Though I was looking forward to a night away tucked in at a Holiday Inn, when my hostess informed me that she had booked me a room at the local B&B, I was somewhat intrigued.  I’ve heard B&Bs are interesting places full of character, good stories and delicious food.  After all, B&Bs are supposed to be classy little joints for classy ladies and I consider myself just that – classy.   Well, apparently, my classy-ness only goes so far and it stops right before liking B&Bs.

First, let me say, I very much appreciated my hostess putting me up for the night.  I was singing in her wedding and she was very kind to book (and pay for!) my room.  Second, let me also praise the pure beauty of said B&B.  The mansion I stayed in was absolutely gorgeous.  Okay, with those two pieces out of the way, let me give you the lowdown on my stay at a B&B….

B&Bs are awkward – especially so if you’re staying by yourself.  Your room doesn’t lock from the outside – only the inside.  Granted, the amount of people that are in the B&B is quite small but it does make it difficult to leave your belongings and go out for the night and not be thinking “What if…” the whole night.

This particular B&B involved a shared bathroom.  Awkward again…. First, I have no idea how many people I’m sharing the bathroom with.  Secondly, I don’t know their schedule or if I should coordinate who’s taking a shower when with them.  What if we both have to be somewhere at 8a.m. and we both take an hour to get ready??  Pretty sure we’re going to meet both reaching for the hot water handle around 7a.m….

This particular B&B also involved a shared TV room complete with a TV from 1993 and romantic VHS tapes (anyone in the mood for Titanic?).  I don’t want to awkwardly walk in on a couple partaking in an “I’ll never let go” moment so I avoided the room all together.

My room, while stunning, was rather boring.  There was no TV and no place to plug in my laptop.  It was scarily quiet.  The only thought that kept creeping into my head was that this place would be the perfect setting for a murder spree with a young 20 something as a victim.  To pass the time in this extremely boring room, I played Angry Birds on my cell phone…. for about 4 hours… and tried to not think about the latest Criminal Minds episode I had watched.

In the morning, I was greeted to the sound of a piano… at 7:30 as well as the smell of bacon and eggs.  While that smelled delicious, I had a few conundrums.  First: Do I go take a shower??  How long is an acceptable shower in a shared bathroom situation??  Second: Do I get dressed before I eat breakfast??   Or are my p.j.s acceptable breakfast wear?  Third: Do I make my bed??  Leave it for housekeeping?  Fourth: Do I have to be at breakfast at a certain time??

I decided on the following: make my bed, lock my door and play Angry Birds for another hour.

Apparently, this was not the correct B&B etiquette because the owners actually came looking for me and asked me if I was coming down to breakfast.  I wasn’t dressed yet and decided I didn’t know anyone here well enough to grace them with no make up and just-woke-up hair so I politely declined but said some fresh fruit would be nice if they had any on my way out the door (AKA a banana to go).

I quickly grabbed the fastest shower (and therefore probably the worst shower of my life… I LOVE LONG SHOWERS) I’ve ever taken, tried to not notice that the bathmat was soaking wet from the person before me and scurried back into my room.  After trying to figure out where to dry my hair and put on my makeup in my room and proceed to pick up every little crumb possible from the floor, I was ready to get the heck out of dodge!  All my bags were pakced and I was ready to go.

I proceed downstairs, dropped by bags by the door and tried to find the innkeeper to give me key and grab my banana from.  To my surprise, there was an entire fresh fruit plate on a china dish at the kitchen table waiting for me.  While that was very thoughtful, I felt obligated to eat every single piece of fruit on the plate and chat with the inkeeper.  Honestly, it was the weekend, I had a cold coming on and I just wasn’t in the mood for small talk.  I bucked up, ate my fruit and left asap.

When all is said and done, I would compare staying at a B&B similar to staying at your grandparents but without grandma and grandpa – there’s not much to do, tons of antiques and one bathroom.

For this girl, I’ll take a Holiday Inn with my own TV, bathroom and door that locks over a B&B anytime.  Maybe I’m just not classy enough to see the appeal in B&Bs but you know what?  If that’s so, I’m perfectly okay with that.  After all, what’s classier than a bucket of ice, room service and two queen sized beds?  I’ll trade you the mansion for a Holiday Inn any day!


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