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Category: Link

Urbana Park District hosting America Recycles Day on November 14th

On Saturday the 14th, from 11:00 to 3:00, the Urbana Park District will be hosting their version of America Recycles Day at  the Anita Purves Nature Center.

Patrons will be welcome to create something from recycled material and submit it to the R2euse Competition, butif you’re not in the crafting mood, come to see all sorts of creations made from recycled material and made by local artists. There will also be recycling themed games.

If you’d like to donate some recycled material, here’s what’s best:

  • Winter coats, gloves, hats, and scarves
  • Household batteries (single use and rechargeable, and small)
  • Cell phones
  • Ink cartridges
  • Mercury thermostats (in a sealed bag!)
  • 6-pack rings
  • Capri Sun packages.

More information can be found here via the Urbana Park District.


Visit Champaign County launches new website

From the press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    
November 5, 2015

Media Contact: Terri Reifsteck: (217) 351-4133 or terrir@visitchampaigncounty.org

New Website Launched Enticing Visitors to Champaign County
Champaign County – After nine months of research and development, Visit Champaign County proudly launched their new website at VisitChampaignCounty.org. Louder Design, a Texas-based firm known for award-winning Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) websites, created the site to attract attention of visitors regionally, nationally and internationally.

“It was vital to upgrade the functionality of our website,” explains Terri Reifsteck, Vice President of Marketing for Visit Champaign County. “There is a lot of noise in the travel sector when it comes to planning. We need a site that is a one-stop shop, visually representing our area and giving visitors an accurate understanding of all our community has to offer.”

A top priority for the new site is to ensure it utilizes responsive design so it can be accessed and fully utilized across a range of devices as analytics continue to show that 1/3 of visitor traffic comes from a mobile device. Additionally, as potential visitors research destinations, the importance of authentic photos continues to grow, especially with sites like Instagram and Pinterest providing inspiration for travelers. The new site shifts to using high impact graphics throughout all pages, listings and events.

All tourism-related businesses (shops, restaurants, hotels, museums, galleries, etc.) are encouraged to submit a high-resolution photo for inclusion to help highlight their business.

Among the many features to the site, visitors now have the capability of creating a profile and favoriting places or events they’d like to visit, as well as building trips and itineraries. Visitors can also discover businesses located within 1-5 miles from each other to quickly find restaurants, shops or hotels near points of interest.

The website typically experiences 15,000 unique visitors a month with the Calendar of Events consistently being the most visited page on the website. The new calendar allows visitors to select a specific date range, or narrow by week, month or category. Event organizers in Champaign County are encouraged to submit their event for review directly from the website.

The site, while recently launched, has already taken home the 2015 Davey Silver Award for Best Tourism Website. Reifsteck anticipates higher usage and more pages viewed as the site guides visitors to discover more attractions, restaurants, shops and various other things to do.

For more information about the site and its expanded functionality, please contact Terri Reifsteck at 217-351-4133 orterrir@visitchampaigncounty.org.

Champaign Park District hosting CUSR Cupcake 5K this weekend

Sunday, November 8th starting at 9 am, the Champaign Park District will be hosting a 5K Run, Roll, and Recreational Walk at Dodds Park.

To sign up, register at any CUSR or Champaign Park District facility or at the Park District website. It’s only $25 to register, and the proceeds go to a scholarship fund for individuals who need financial assistance to access CUSR (Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation) programs.

Perhaps most importantly — everyone that crosses the finish line will be rewarded with a cupcake. The top runners will also be eligible for prizes, but come on — all we really want is that sweet, sweet cupcake. Especially after running three miles.

More information can be found here, on CPD's website. When you combine cupcakes and charity, what's not to love?


WCIA’s comments section is the worst place

I mean, truly, the worst. Part of me apologizes to the folks that will read this here on Smile Politely, but honestly, this is one of the worst places on the internet, definitively:


The Chief may be gone, but the song he used to come out to still remains. One UI faculty member wants to change that.

Posted by WCIA 3 News on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

This isn't just like this for discussions surrounding the Chief, but across the board, it's bad out there in WCIA commenter land.

Here are some highlights if you're not interested in clicking over there. Believe me, it's a damn wormhole you don't really want to go down. There aren't enough facepalms in the world, honestly.

Virtually, this is the worst place around Champaign-Urbana.


Japan House has been burglarized

It appears someone has broken into Japan House just south of campus. It appears that nothing of that much value was taken, but still, it's jarring to say the least. More info can be found on Japan House's Facebook page:

Japan House was broken into last night. Little to nothing of value was taken, but we are saddened that this place of...

Posted by Japan House at the University of Illinois on Monday, 26 October 2015

On a side note, I'd just personally like to extend a message to whoever did this: Come on, guys. Japan House is a place of peace, education and tranquility. When brash and meaningless acts like this happen to good places, or good people, it makes it hard to have faith in humanity as a whole. So please, next time, leave Japan House out of harm's way - everyone will be better for it.


UPDATED: Ray Spooner injured during nation-wide bike journey

It is with deep sadness that we report that Ray Spooner, a terminally ill Champaign-Urbana resident who was seeking to ride his bike across the country to raise awareness for ALS, has crashed along ride in Arizona.

According to The News-Gazette, Spooner got too close to the curb while biking and fell. His injuries are fairly extensive, including three fractured vertebrae, three fractured ribs, a collapsed lung, a fractured humerus and a concussion.

Spooner is at least in writing shape, and blogged about his fall on his website. Donations for Ray's ALS fundraiser are still being accepted, and he's less than $6,000 from his $50,000 goal.

On behalf of the entire Smile Politely staff, our thoughts are with Ray and his family as they go through this rough time.

UPDATE: October 25th, 8 p.m. (PS):

Here's an entry to Spooner's blog, posted today:

"Blow this"

October 24th, Scottsdale AZ. It took me fifteen minutes to get out of bed this morning. Ian and Rae offered to help me get up but I was determined that I could do this on my own. When I’m on my back I tend to flail around like a turtle that had been flipped over trying to right itself. Eventually they ignored my protests, put their arms around me and said “this is going to hurt” and just hauled me up. I think more because they were done listen to my grunting and groaning rather than any altruistic desire to help

Ian, Luci, Lynny and Ira had various time constraints and we knew from the start that they were not going to be able to complete the whole ride. So while I mend here in AZ. Lynny and Ira, left today to head on down the route with the goal of completing the last part in Florida before they have to head home. Ian’s wife Kate is driving out from LA with their daughter Violet to pick Ian up. And Luci will be flying home to Minnesota. Which will leave Rae, Daniel, Andi and me to continue on towards El Paso hopefully Monday. Daniel and Andi will still be riding. So, for now at least, this is the last time we shall all be together.

So, do you want to hear my plan? Currently, between what we have ridden so far and what Lynny, Ira, Daniel and Andi will ride,there are miles that would not get ridden. So, I’m asking you to help make up that deficit. I would like people to ride and donate those miles. There is a site we’ve set up that you can log into and “Ride for Ray.”  Just click on the link below to log your miles. 5 miles, 10 miles, 100 miles. Anything you are able to do will help the cause.

Ride For Ray

Oh, and one other thing.  I would like you to submit a picture or a short video of you riding. Just a short ten second video and send it to me at the following email address: bychopath13@gmail.com. If possible can you tell me who you are and where you are from in the email. Then every day on the blog as we go on I will include a video montage of as many of the videos as possible of the people out there “Riding for Ray.” It will have a totally epic soundtrack. I really look forward to hearing from you.

I am contemplating things that someone who took 15 minutes to get out of bed has no business contemplating. Various thoughts have entered my mind about being able to ride the last leg of the route myself. I don’t want to just get on a bike at the Atlantic to ceremoniously dip my wheel. Obviously my physical condition will dictate what I’m capable of. But ideally I need to work for it. Maybe ride the last few hundred miles or so. I would need something on three wheels to do this. The problem with living in my head is that my brain is in constant motion.  Even when my body can barely move. I do not do stationary very well. This does not bode well for my future, I know. I’ve been in pain before but it’s been the sort of pain that I’ve been able to ignore. This pain is different. It makes itself known with every step and every breath.  The one good thing about all the pain though is that it is the only thing that has so far succeeded in occasionally making me forget that I have ALS. Despite this I’m hoping that it will be back to the level I can ignore by the time we get to Florida in a few weeks.

Now that I’m not riding, Rae has changed her focus. She isn’t shoving food in my face every second. However, one of the things that we were given in the hospital was an incentive spirometer. I have to inhale and exhale into it to maximally expand my lungs and prevent the left lung from collapsing further, and also hopefully prevent me from getting pneumonia. So now, instead of food, every time that I turn around Rae is sticking a tube into my mouth and saying “Here, blow this.”

A long time ago in the initial planning stages I sent Ian a text. “Ray and Ian go for a bike ride. What could possibly go wrong?” While this didn’t go off as planned, it added another chapter to our storied past. Thank you Ian for more than I can express in words.

Peace, love and midwives



CLAW to headline The Highdive on November 20th

Part of the reason I love living in Champaign-Urbana is simply because of the unique nature of the community. Those who want to organize unique activities are continually supported, and in turn, we have a vibrant performing arts scene that rivals some major cities.

One of these unique activities is C.L.A.W., or Champaign Ladies Amateur Wrestling. Complete with suited emcees and a backing band (Bookmobile!), CLAW is every bit as in-depth as you would hope a wrestling show would be, and it comes together to make one entertaining night of fun. In September, the group performed a set outdoors at Mike N Molly's for The Pygmalion Festival to a packed house, and if that atmosphere was any indication, their upcoming headliner at The Highdive should be a crazy time.

Los Despeinados and Jorts will also provide musical support for the evening, and tickets are available now for $12 and $15 at the door on November 20th — but trust me, you don't want to wait until then. This will be a packed house.


Champaign Park District presents 5 Nights of Hitch

Champaign Park District is anticipating Halloween by bring Hitchcock to the big screen at Viriginia Theatre, five times over! The movies start from October 26th to October 30th and each day will show one of Hitchcock's best films. There are two showings of each film, one at 7 pm and another at 10 pm for those of you with work or other obligations. Its going to be a terrfiying time! Tickets are only $6.

Suspicion - Monday, the 26th.

Sabotage - Tuesday, the 27th.

The Lady Vanishes - Wednesday, the 28th.

Spellbound - Thursday, the 29th.

Frenzy - Friday, 30th.

For more information, check out thevirginia.org.


All Polyvinyl cassette tapes are available for $5 until Thursday

Personally, I don't collect tapes. I mean, I totally used to growing up, and I think it's great that cassettes are actually on the way back. It's no secret that we have a deep love for Polyvinyl Records — and I noticed that all of their tapes in their catalog are $5 now until Thursday, per their Twitter account:

This past weekend was Cassette Store Day, so celebrate it if you so choose.