Category: Link

Japan House has a new website, and it’s kind of awesome

We have a lot of love for Japan House here at Smile Politely, and with good reason. Pretty much everything they do, they do well. My one teensy complaint has been their website, which just hadn't gotten the time and attention it needed.

Well, they've updated and now it is quite lovely and user-friendly, and it makes engaging with all of the happenings at JH that much easier. So please, go peruse for yourself and maybe makes some plans to visit. 

Photo from Japan House website


Save the bees with this beginner course

Have you been wanting to learn more about saving the world from destruction and peril? Or perhaps save the bees from extinction? If you're the person who plays the "Bees?" card during Cards Against Humanity, here's your chance.

The Central Eastern Illinois Beekeeping Association is hosting a beginner's beekeeping course that will run for four weeks (four consecutive Wednesdays), starting tomorrow, January 16th. 

Registration for the class is $50. From the Facebook event page:

This Beginner Beekeeping Course is all about beekeeping—understanding honey bee biology, getting started, managing bee colonies for fun and/or profit—and is designed to help you become a successful beekeeper.

This course is 4 consecutive Wednesdays starting January 16th.  We will have an outline of the course shortly.

Welcome to the world of beekeeping.

Fee: $50.00 per person.  The fee includes the materials required for this course.
This course is limited to 40 people so please sign up now.  To sign up, send a Facebook message to CEIBA and we'll get you on the list.

Top photo from CEIBA Facebook page 


The Orpheum is looking for volunteers

Did you make a resolution to give back to the community this year? Well here's a great place to start. Orpheum Children's Science Museum is seeking some folks to pitch in this winter. There are lots of opportunities, including helping with events, construction, animal care and more.

If you're interested, you can fill out a volunteer form here.


The Khans are the lead investor in new pro wrestling league, All Elite Wrestling

C-U's Khan family is extraordinarily wealthy — they own the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Shad Khan is frequently referred to as the "American Dream" — and they are making it known that they're diving into professional wrestling. 

Deadspin posted about All Elite Wrestling (AEW), to which they mention the Khans and their involvement in the new pro wrestling venture.

Here's the Khan's involvement:

According to Tuesday’s press release, Shad is “the lead investor, a supporter and a backer of All Elite Wrestling,” while Tony had previously been announced as the company president.

Earlier this week, SE Scoops wrote about the family's involvement in a lot more detail, which you can read about here.

Top photo from SE Scoops' story.


Carle, OSF roll out “transparent pricing” so you can see costs

While this isn't what I'd consider "light reading" for your Wednesday afternoon, I stumbled upon a discussion about hospitals and transparency within the structure of what services cost.

As of January 1st of this year, according to Carle's website, hospitals are required to "post their 'current, standard charges.'" which are available for your viewing pleasure (er... displeasure) now. There's an index, which isn't exactly user-friendly, but you can scroll through pages and pages of procedures and their corresponding costs. That said, this appears to be what the pure cost is and doesn't take into account insurance, Medicare, and things of the like.

OSF's is posted here. Urbana is listed first.

This ruling has been installed by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service, and I did a bit of reading on Congress Bill H.R. 6508 —‘‘Hospital Price Transparency and Disclosure Act of 2018" — so it appears to be an act installed nationwide. So if you're reading this from another city or state, you might look into what things cost at the hospital in your community.

While this doesn't really tell us a whole lot about our healthcare system that we don't already know — shit is expensive! — it is an interesting look into the belly of the beast.


Midwest Punkfest 11 happening June 13-16

Midwest Punkfest is back for their 11th installment in 2019, and it'll take place June 13-16 over in Bloomington at nightshop, as per the Facebook event. The venue is located at 517 N Main Street in Bloomington (and don't forget, they're a restaurant too, check out the review). Once they post the lineup, we'll be sure to report on that. But for now, mark your calendars.

Photo from the Facebook event


Go Greek at Grovestone

Grovestone, the specialty store in Champaign, has been hosting cooking classes for a while now, and they're almost always sold out. The next class is on January 17th from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and called "Clean Cooking Mediterranean Style" and is actually a cooking demo and wine tasting. There are still spots available. Hey now!

Here's the menu:

  • Roasted Garlic Hummus
  • Mediterranean Fresh Herb & Tomato Salad
  • Fasolada - Traditional Greek Bean Soup
  • Greek Lemon Chicken
  • Applesauce Cake

Sign up for the class online; tickets are $38. 

1707 W Kirby Ave

Top photo from Facebook


25 O’Clock Brewing Company’s taproom is now open

According to this post on 25 O'Clock Brewing Company's Facebook page, their taproom is officially open for business. It was just over one year ago when it was announced that Pizza M was vacating Cafeteria & Company to share this space at 208 W. Griggs Street in Urbana.* 

This is good news for beer drinkers in Urbana, especially given the time of year it is where drinking outside isn't really an option. 25 O'Clock's beer has been available around town for quite a while, and they've had a variety of pop up events and shows just outside the facility, but this is the official opening of the indoor portion.

* NOTE: According to some reader comments, the brewery is not sharing the space with Pizza M, though the sentence above seems like it alludes to that. Apologies for any misunderstanding on that front.

Photo from 25 O'Clock Brewing Company's website.


You should read this story published by Corrupt C-U

There's been a story that's circulating around social media published by Christopher Hansen, a U of I graduate and resident of Urbana, about his experience with the Champaign County judicial system, the Champaign Police Department, and beyond.

Fair warning: His story is extraordinarly long and dense with information and detail, but worth your time as he discusses what he calls "Corruption and Incompetence in Champaign County".

UPDATE: 7:42 pm: 

I wanted to share this story by Christopher Hansen based on it trending around on several forms of social media, thus deeming it relevant to our hyper-local Champaign-Urbana readership. That said, to be clear: Our title is not meant to validate said story — rather, we are just pointing out that it was a conversation happening in our community and demands attention.

Photo from 


Wolfram Alpha integration coming to Amazon’s Alexa

Wolfram Research is based right here in Champaign, and their technology via Wolfram Alpha is already embedded into iPhones via Siri. Now, that technology is getting intergrated with Amazon's Alexa. That's pretty excellent news, indeed, as Wolfram is just one of a ton of amazing technology companies in Champaign-Urbana. 

The move will allow users to ask more science and math-based questions and expand the knowledge of Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa.

Photo from Amazon


PNC Bank building in Downtown Champaign bought by owner of KoFusion for $2.73M

PNC Bank in Downtown Champaign has been sold to the owner of KoFusion, reports The News-Gazette. The building is located at 30 E. Main Street in Champaign, and this move comes after plans were announced for PNC to move to Midtown Plaza on First Street. The N-G mentions Janet Bubin, owner of KoFusion, is "planning a project that's a mix of retail, restaurant and apartments, though there have been no signs of work on that."

Photo from Google Maps


Some U of I students are launching a satellite into space tonight, which is kind of awesome

The satellite is called CubeSail, and it was constructed by CU Aerospace and engineering students, and it is set to launch at 10 p.m. central from New Zealand. According to the U of I aerospace engineering website, "the Illinois satellite will hitch a ride on a Rocket Lab “Electron” vehicle, as a part of the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites mission for NASA." There is a "ground station" north of Urbana that will be used to communicate with the satellite.

You can watch the launch via live stream here, and read up on the project here.

Photo from the aerospace engineering website