And now, a calendar that will remember your birthday long after you do: For just $79.99, Hammacher Schlemmer’s winter supplement offers a battery-operated electronic calendar that “can be programmed to remember special dates . . . and uses flashing red LED lights to remind you of them up to three days in advance. Its patented 60-year memory can be programmed with up to 2000 important dates.” Let’s see, put in the 1992 Iowa caucuses right away . . .

The campaign for the tax increase. “Child abuse reports unexpectedly increased 30 percent last year,” says state Children and Family Services director Gordon Johnson in a recent press release. “Yet, because of state government fiscal difficulties, we were not able to hire new staff to investigate those reports. This year’s increase means an even heavier burden for staff. Even on Christmas Day, on-call staff had to interrupt their family celebrations and initiate investigations into reports involving 43 abused children.”

No one knows how much vacant land the city of Chicago owns, reports the Open Lands Project, which is working to put more of it to good use. “Representatives of the City’s Planning Department estimate that there are about 8,000 parcels of surplus land” owned by the city itself. But “surplus” is not the same as readily available: “If a group wants to obtain land from the Real Estate Department, the process requires more than 30 steps and a minimum of one year to reach completion.”

Dept. of wishful thinking, from Loyola University School of Dentistry professor Christine Connolly: “The average patient wants a good on-going relationship with his or her dentist.”

But who will guard the rest rooms during the ceremony? “Tobacco-free schools [those where nobody, not even visitors, may smoke] can receive a certificate of recognition, a decal to put on the front door . . . a congratulatory letter from the president and executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards, and a fact sheet about tobacco-free schools,” says the IASB’s Newsbulletin (December 18). “The packet of materials also includes promotional ideas . . . such as a public ceremony to award the certificate of recognition.”

“What is long, armoured, and favored by Arab potentates?” asks Andrew Collier in the NORBIC Network (January 1988). “If you say an unusually edible turtle; you’ll be wrong. In fact, it is the stretch limousine”–starting at $45,000–manufactured by Moloney Coachbuilders, 2640 W. Belmont.

If you want to see a “lapse in judgment,” don’t look at Gary Hart, look at the Tribune and Sun-Times, says Bill Nigut Sr. in the Chicago Media Critic (January 1988). Neither they nor any other major U.S. paper have commented on the fact that the Kuwaiti Investment Office holds 18.35 percent of British Petroleum, which owns 53 percent of the largest single oil field in the U.S., 50 percent of the Alaska oil pipeline, and 2,300 miles of other U.S. pipeline. “Kuwait’s right-wing dictator now has a potential stranglehold on our domestic oil supply . . . while Reagan escorts his tankers for FREE and the alleged free press editors are silent.” You read it there first.

“The architect has a common touch or sophisticated smile as the setting demands,” writes Sidney K. Robinson in the Newsletter of the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago (Winter 1988). “From art to engineering, from concepts to materials, from culture to craftsman, architecture has it all. As an architect you must be able to talk about the great little restaurant just off the Place des Vosges in Paris with the corporate client as well as with the tile setter still learning English.” But which one gets the sophisticated smile?

Chicago schools need more money, says Voices for Illinois Children, but first they need to “place responsibility and authority where the key business of the school system takes place, in the individual school. School site governance is a two-way process: the school is given hiring and supervisory control over its staff, and the power to amend its budget and curriculum within state and city guidelines. At the same time it is held responsible for the achievement levels of its students.” Principals, they say, should not have tenure, but five-year contracts that are renewed depending on performance.

Dept. of astonishing research results, from University of Illinois business administration professor Greg R. Oldham: “Clerical workers in spacious, well-lit offices are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and less likely to leave than are workers in offices that are crowded and poorly lit.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.