Pictured left to right,  Alex Añon, Marcelo Añon, Cecelia Wallin, Tom Wallace, Gretchen Brauer, Jeff Balch, Dori Conn, Mike Moran, Mayor Stephen Hagerty, Christian Fredrickson, Hal Sprague, Barbara Miller, Jane Grover and Ben Schapiro bike to the Dec. 8 tree-lighting.

… that colorful crosswalks are sprucing up some of Evanston’s drab streets. Perhaps these will inspire others.

… that the City’s Bureau of Capital Planning & Engineering will hold a neighborhood meeting at 6:30 on Dec. 17 at the Mason Park Field House  to discuss plans to widen and resurface Grove from Florence to Ashland to Wesley. The City requests that residents on Grove between Dewey and Wesley attend the meeting; those who cannot are asked to contact Saat Nagar, Senior Project Manager at 311 or snagar@cityofevanston.org. The field house is located at Church and Florence.

… that the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts drier-than-average conditions in this area. This means less snow and fewer snowfolks but probably more icicles, as the temperatures vacillate around freezing. Weather wonks still caution about the possibilities of Arctic blasts, sleet, freezing rain and heavy snow during the three months of winter.

… that, speaking of winter, the City is looking for volunteers to shovel sidewalks and driveways for Evanston seniors and people with disabilities. The City will connect the volunteers to the residents. Registration is available online for both participants and volunteers at cityofevanston.org/snowshoveling. Readers will remember that property owners are responsible for clearing sidewalks. And folks will do a favor for the community by clearing snow from around fire hydrants.

… that the City will designate the block of Emerson between Wesley and Asbury “Nathan Haliburton, Jr., Way.” Mr. Haliburton has been funeral director of the Haliburton Funeral Chapel at 1317 Emerson for more than 43 years, is an active member of Mount Zion M.B. Church and has been a leader in the Youth Backers Scholarship Club.

… that a new study from GasBuddy reveals that consumers’ driving habits are 175% more “aggressive” during the holidays compared to the rest of the year, not only making the roads more dangerous but lowering gas mileage by as much as 40%. This means more money and time spent at the pumps. Illinois is not immune to this, but it did not make it into the top five states with the most aggressive holiday drivers. Those were, in order, Georgia, California, Texas, Louisiana and South Carolina. Checking out the southern locations, does anyone think that cold weather, snow  and ice keep aggression – such as quick accelerating, hard braking and speeding – down in the northern states? GasBuddy’s results from a Thanksgiving survey showed “aggressive driving habits occur most during the beginning of the season, with more instances happening during the drive to the holiday destination versus the return from. The actual holiday day — in this case, Thanksgiving — is when it is the calmest behind the wheel, followed by Black Friday.”

… that  for the Dec. 8 holiday lighting of Evanston’s new permanent tree at Fountain Square, Mayor Hagerty and fellow cyclists used the new Sheridan Road bike lane to make the trek from Lighthouse Park in north Evanston. Participating groups included Go Evanston, Evanston Bicycle Club, Citizens for Greener Evanston, Wheel & Sprocket, and Bucephalus Bikes.

… that folks can catch a ride on the Allstate CTA Holiday Train on the Purple Line Dec., 14, 15 and 20, as it travels through Evanston. Santa and his elves will visit every stop. On Dec. 15, the Elves Workshop Train will follow the Holiday Train – room for everyone. The typical hours for this train are 1-8 p.m. on weekends and 3-7 p.m. on weekdays. Normal fares apply.

… that inthesky.org reports the Geminid meteor shower peak on Dec. 14, though some shooting stars may be visible up through Dec. 16.

From our readers: TG: Has Evanston moved from an era of exclusive cable provider (Comcast) to a free-for-all in which multiple cable operators will be permitted to string wires in the alleys and entrench cable in the parkways? What impact will the laying of new shallow cables along our parkways have on the eventual replacement of deeper water service lines made of lead?  

From TG: TG had no clue about how to answer this and sought answers from the City. Public Works Director Dave Stoneback sent the following by email: “To my knowledge, Comcast was the only cable provider in Evanston because they were the only ones that invested in a cable infrastructure within Evanston. Evanston did not take any action to allow more providers, just more providers wanted to be available in Evanston and are installing the infrastructure to do so. Cable and communication providers are mostly regulated by the ICC [Illinois Commerce Commission] and the State establishes laws establishing what is allowable. The additional cable lines in the parkways will not prevent the replacement of water service lines made of lead. It will be no more challenging then crossing under a gas main or street light cable that is already in the parkways.”   

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that selecting “toxic” as the word selected as the Oxford Word of the Year for 2018 shows a great amount of reading, listening and thinking. Like every other Word of the Year, “toxic” is deemed to reflect the “ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance.” Though a cultural nicety, the word comes from the phrase for a poisoned arrow tip,  toxikon pharmakon,  used by the ancient Greeks – but from the word for “bow” (toxicon) not from the word “poison” (pharmakon). That bit of entomology, and more, come from en.oxforddictionaries.com: “The adjective toxic is defined as ‘poisonous’ and first appeared in English in the mid-seventeenth century from the medieval Latin toxicus, meaning ‘poisoned’ or ‘imbued with poison.’ But the word’s deadly history doesn’t start there. The medieval Latin term was in turn borrowed from the Latin toxicum, meaning ‘poison.’” …  Toxikon, which comes from ‘toxon,’ the Greek word for “bow” arced over into the Latin and on down.
Folks have used this adjective for an array of nouns. By frequency, the Oxford folks say, the top 10 nouns “toxic” has modified are chemical, masculinity, substance, gas, environment, relationship, culture, waste, algae and air. In many ways, 2018 itself was toxic.

Happy Christmas, everyone, and Merry Kwanzaa