Owls should conjure up mystery and wisdom: Think of Minerva (Athena), not witches and evil.

… that the new speed limit on Sheridan Road will soon be posted at 25 mph.

… that street-sweepers will be on some streets in Zone 4 in south Evanston for a few extra days in November and December, weather permitting: the south and west sides of the street on Nov. 8 and Dec. 13; the north and east sides of the street on Nov. 9 and Dec. 14. Primary routes in Zone 4 and residential streets in special Zone 4 “S” areas will also be cleaned on these dates, as originally scheduled.

… that folks are getting ready for wintry times: mulching gardens with leaves, stockpiling salt and deicer, and sealing leaks on windows and doors. Some are predicting “exceptionally cold conditions” in the Great Lakes and other Midwestern areas of the country. And the City is selling firewood on Oakton near the old recycling center.

… that there will be sky shows through the end of the year, according to Earthsky.org., with the Taurids already slicing the sky with meteors and fireballs. Here’s what Earthsky.org reports about the North and South Taurids: That the South Taurids should peak late night Nov. 4 until dawn Nov. 5. “The Taurids are extremely long-lasting (Sept. 25-Nov. 25) but usually don’t offer more than about seven meteors per hour. That is true even on the South Taurids’ expected peak night. The Taurids are, however, well known for having a high percentage of fireballs, or exceptionally bright meteors. Plus, the other Taurid shower – the North Taurids – always adds a few more meteors to the mix during the South Taurids’ peak night. In 2016, the waxing crescent moon will set in the evening early, providing dark skies for this year’s South Taurid meteor shower.” The peak of the North Taurid shower (which occurs Oct. 12 – Dec. 2) should be late night Nov. 11 until dawn Nov. 12, but the waxing gibbous moon will obtrude.

… that the City is selling a few surplus vehicles and purchasing a new parking enforcement Ford Escape. Perhaps it will be used to sniff out (figuratively) vehicles whose owners don’t keep up with the new parking meter regs. Speaking of parking meters, the City is going to change a few sets of metered spaces: Lot 8 at 800 Main St., with eight metered spaces and a current annual revenue of just under $5,000, will be converted to permit parking; the six spaces at 1400 Elmwood, with an annual revenue of just under $5,000, will be converted to “Emergency Vehicle/2-hour parking”
(that’s what the City says – TG is not sure if that is one use – for emergency vehicles to park for two hours – or two, some for emergency vehicles and some for two-hour parkers); the 11 meters at 3100 Central, with an annual revenue of about $1,200, will be converted to two-hour parking; lot 23, with four meters and an income of about $1,200, will be converted to permit parking; and the 17 spaces on Washington between Chicago Avenue and Custer Street, with about $6,000 in annual revenue, will be converted to long-term commuter parking. According to a staff memo accompanying these proposed changes, “Meter costs inclusive of monthly maintenance far outweigh the revenue generated at these locations. Monthly back office charges alone are $7.25 per month per meter.” So now employees and commuters will have more convenient parking. Hope this does not adversely impact customer parking.

… that the City is proposing to limit the number of cell towers on poles on rights of way. The limitations will be on the number, size, color, and panel covering of wireless communication facilities on each pole and on the proximity to residential buildings (at least 25 feet away). These limitations, according to the City, will “enhance resiliency to natural & human hazards.”

… that GasBuddy.com reports that as of Oct. 24, average retail gasoline prices in Chicago had fallen 4.3 cents per gallon, according to its daily survey of 1,437 gas outlets in Chicago. This compares with the national average that in the same period fell 1.8 cents per gallon to $2.21 per gallon. The national average has increased 1.2 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 1.1 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

… that the third annual Pedal Bright event proved to be a great success, with more than 400 sets of lights (three lights in one set, including spoke lights, which proved very popular) installed and educational materials handed out at the Weber Arch and Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center. The remaining bike light sets will be distributed during Women Out Walking, Bike to Work Week, and Streets Alive.

… that a comment made at a recent City meeting, at which road etiquette was being discussed, was that a policy for bicyclists and drivers was “Don’t be a jerk.” TG believes this philosophy has even wider applications – for elected officials, appointed officials, homeowners’ associations, and the like. Why not have it as the City mantra: “Help Evanston be the most livable city in America: Don’t be a jerk.”

… that the Prairie Research Institute – composed of the Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois State Water Survey, and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center – has some interesting news about owls in Illinois. No longer deemed “Birds of omen, dark and foul,” as Sir Walter Scott put it, owls are thought to be wise, mysterious, and beautiful, though once considered harbingers of doom, death, and destruction. In Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches, and an owl’s call meant someone was about to die. Four species of owls are year-round Illinois residents: the barn owl, screech owl, barred owl, and great horned owl (also known as the hoot owl).

The barn owl occurs globally but was listed as Illinois-endangered in 1977 and is currently considered a threatened species in the state, according to research by avian researcher and monitoring coordinator Tara Beveroth of the Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois. The PRI reports, “Owls typically call most often at dawn and dusk, but on a clear, moonlit night with little wind, some may be heard calling periodically throughout the night. They are territorial creatures and use their calls to warn others to stay off their turf.

“To find owls, look for pellets on the ground near trees or barns. Also, look for ‘whitewashed’ trees, trees with white owl droppings on tree trunks or branches. For those who are courageous enough to venture into the woods at night under a full moon, the calls of the owls in the darkness are a welcome reward.”

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… or, hopes, that everyone had great Halloween, Zombie Scramble and Day of the Dead celebrations. Were there any sightings of Evanston’s traditional ghosts – Seaweed Charlie, the pilot who crashed into Lake Michigan by Calvary Cemetery; the jilted ghost bride of St. A’s; or the one in NU’s old buildings?

… that the “Great Pumpkin Compost” collection – this Saturday in the Levy Center and Civic Center parking lots, is a great way for non-composting residents to put their used jack-o-lanterns to good use.