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Number of recycled plastic bottles required to make one eight-inch-square, six-foot-long plastic black "timber" for Chicago Park District play lots: 1,200.

S'coughlaws. Just over a quarter of Chicago companies are "completely ignoring" the city's 1988 Clean Indoor Air Ordinance--which requires them to have a written smoking policy as well as separate smoking and nonsmoking areas. According to Loyola nursing professor Diana Hackbarth, "The problem is there's no enforcement mechanism." How about sending the offending employers to help out in a lung-cancer ward?

Schaumburg without a car? That dream may be a bit closer as the state of Illinois spends $110,000 this summer to build an eight-foot-wide bicycle path connecting the village's existing trail network with the Schaumburg Metra station, and to install a bicycle shelter and 20 bike lockers.

The bad news is that the good news did not apply to black people. Illinois' statewide infant mortality rate dropped 9 percent in 1990, from 11.7 per 1,000 to 10.7--but the rate for African American babies rose slightly, from 22.0 to 22.1 (Illinois Department of Public Health).

Culture shock. Jo McGowan in the Chicago-based U.S. Catholic: "When I mentioned to a friend here in India that I was writing an article on why it was better for childen to live with two parents than with just one, she looked puzzled and asked me to repeat myself. When I did, she looked even more confused. 'But what can you possibly say?' she asked. 'It's like arguing that it's better to have two hands than one! It's so obvious, it's boring.'"

How to observe Earth Day. In addition to other measures encouraging conservation, Ivannoel Salon on West Maple says, "Clients lucky enough to have a name with the word green in it (Greenhut; Greenwald etc.) or live on a street with the word green in it will also receive a memento."

"I think a lot of people are frustrated because they were born into real life when they really want to live in beer commercials," says Eric Sharp, quoted in the Chicago-based Critic (Winter). "In the commercials, everybody always has a good time doing exciting things, and nobody ever gets hurt, tired or has to clean up afterward. There are no drunks in beer commercials..."

How many Sears Towers would it take to provide the square footage occupied by Chicago's not-for-profit human-service and community-development organizations? According to figures extrapolated from a recent Illinois Facilities Fund study, 28.

Thank you for buying American. According to Valerie Denney in Chicago Enterprise (April), Illinois auto plants manufactured 10,084 fewer cars during the 1991 model year than in 1990 (when they made 557,853). Only one state carmaker produced more: Mitsubishi Diamond-Star in downstate Normal.

When the system won't work, you gotta work the system. Lorraine V. Forte, writing in Catalyst (April), describes how teacher Barbara MacDonald had to use "budgetary sleight of hand" to get a few science kits for students at Burke Elementary on South King: "The school's regular budget did not have enough money for the kits; state Chapter 1 money could not be used because science equipment is not considered supplemental. But [she] realized that if she taught summer school (a supplemental program), she could tap state Chapter 1 money. So MacDonald taught summer school, bought the kits and now lends them to other teachers when her class isn't using them."

Department of absolutely no surprise. U.of I. social work professor Andrew Halter tracked 113 General Assistance recipients in Pennsylvania when that state slashed GA benefits in 1982, much as Governor Edgar has done in Illinois this year. According to Chinta Strausberg in the Chicago Defender (April 2), "Only 42 initially obtained a job. At the end of a nine-month period, Halter said three of the 113 were still employed."

"Several years ago, I was appalled to learn that a friend of mine--a journalism student--had never heard of H.L. Mencken," writes Northwestern graduate student David Futrelle in In These Times (January 29-February 4). "It was, I thought, almost as though an aspiring theologian had never heard of God."

Headlines we wished would never end, from Reuter's Focus Report (West Howard): "The Diabolical Copulation of a Triad: Scientology, the String Teachers' Cabal, and the Violin Mafia."

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

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