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Thumbnail image for emily.jpgLike everybody else, as the election results rolled in last night, we wanted to know who won.

But that's not all. We didn't just want to hear the candidates' side of the election story, or the Kane County Board of Elections' side of the story -- we also wanted to hear yours. And while we heard from the county there were few complaints about the election process, mostly about signage, what we heard from you was there were some ridiculously long lines at area polling places and a few other "interesting anomalies."

Reporter Katie Anderson has that story in today's paper ("Kane voter turnout spors long waits at Elgin-area polls").

Here are a few more from our readers, in their own words...


Danise Habun

Danise Habun of Elgin knows she is the only Danise Habun in Kane County, but yet when she tried to vote at about 10:15 a.m., she was told that she had already voted by absentee ballot.

"I always vote on election day," Habun said.

At the polling location, Elgin Community Church, the judges said the computer they had showed she had voted, but a call to the Kane County Clerks office said she hadn't. Eventually, a technician was able to override the info in the computer and allow her to cast her vote anyway.

The judges said other people had had problems voting, too, Habun said, but she didn't get into what the problems were.

Once she was done, Habun said, she filed a complaint at Kane County. She then posted her story on Facebook.

And, she said, "I had some interesting responses about the anomalies that have occurred in our area with voting today."

-- Janelle Walker, Freelance Writer


More reader reports, ways to share your experiences, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for janelle.jpgI've picked up police reports in Elgin, Carpentersville, the Dundees and all over our area for 10 years now. I've written plenty of reports about home burglaries and have kept an eye out for patterns -- if houses in a certain area seemed to be getting hit, I'd make sure to note in the police report if those robberies seemed to be in a cluster and, hopefully, give homeowners a heads up that something is going on in their neighborhoods.

But the importance of those reports has a whole new meaning for me, now that it has happened to me.

I was out of town for several days for an aunt's funeral (breast cancer) in North Dakota. I spent an extra day there, too, because my sister and her husband sold their house and moved to Fargo, and they had to get everything out of the old house by end of Sunday. She was breaking down and needed her sister.

But on Sunday night, while I was driving in Fargo, my sister on the phone with my folks, trying to give them directions to her new house, my phone rang. It was my wonderful, dear neighbors telling me that when they went to check on my cat, they found my house had been burglarized.

They found the chain on the door, which was the first tipoff that something was wrong. They got the chain off and found my TV sitting on the living room floor. They immediately called 911.

I was 10 hours away by car. And really mad.


What was stolen, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for janelle.jpgNOTE: Courier-News freelance writer Janelle Walker has signed up for the second round of the "Elgin's Biggest Loser" challenge. Participants weigh in Wednesday nights, and Janelle is blogging the experience exclusively for The Courier-News.


I've been good. My friends have commented on how good I have been, how I manage to turn down things that are "not on the diet." They are commenting on how they can see the 20-pound loss on me, in my face and neck.

That didn't stop me, however, from completely blowing my diet on Tuesday night.

That's right, the night before the second-to-last weigh-in, I ate a chocolate brownie cookie, a couple of small slices of lemon cake, a scoop of potato salad and a couple of other things that, while not horribly bad, were not exactly part of the regimen.

The wheels have not come back on my exercise regiment since I got back from my high school class reunion, and I have to get back on the Gazelle and get my hour in a day. But, even on Thursday, other things took over -- like the dishes that had piled up, the stories that needed to get written... the blog post that Emily had to pester me about.

Still, I was down just around one pound at Wednesday's weigh-in, but I know it could have been better.

I think the question that I need to ask myself is "Why, Janelle, are you undermining your own success?"

Ah, here is where the introspection starts.


The introspection continues, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for janelle.jpgNOTE: Courier-News freelance writer Janelle Walker has signed up for the second round of the "Elgin's Biggest Loser" challenge. Participants weigh in Wednesday nights, and Janelle is blogging the experience exclusively for The Courier-News.


I haven't completely given up on blogging about Elgin's Biggest Loser. I just got very preoccupied last week, with the Frock Swap and all, and had no time to get it done. Thank you, Emily, for not asking.

I've been very good about the diet, and even with minimal workouts I have been averaging about 2 lbs. of weight loss a week. Now that the FS is over, I have to get back into my daily Gazelle routine. Apparently, running your BLANK off is really not as effective as really running for weight loss.

I will give readers an update, though. As of Wednesday's weigh-in... 19.7 pounds.

Yes, since June 2, I am nearly 9 percent smaller than I was when this started. I'm in a size smaller jeans and am seriously eyeing some smaller shirts and looking fondly at two dresses I am considering for the wedding I have in D.C. in October.


What's worked -- and HASN'T worked -- for Janelle, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for janelle.jpgThere was a lot of, "Ooh!" and, "Lucky You!" from friends -- both real life and on Facebook -- when I told them I was going to be at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

The reality, though, is while I was going to be on the grounds during the big concert festival at Grant Park in Chicago, I wasn't going for the music. Instead, I offered to work the booth for Hoosier Mama Pie Company, an artesian pie shop owned by friends in the city.

I figured even though it would be a working evening, I'd still be able to hear SOME of the music, and if nothing else, it still would be a worthwhile blog post.


The pie, the people and all the rest, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgHere at The Courier-News, we like to think of ourselves as "The Newspaper of Record for Faeries and other Magickal Peoples since 1874."

OK, maybe not, but between Readers' Reporter Emily McFarlan's 5 Questions with a fairy costumer, freelance writer Janelle Walker's coverage of the event and staff writer Mike Danahey gonzo festival crashing, we assembled a formidable team to cover South Elgin's World of Faeries Festival this past weekend.

Here are Emily and Janelle's articles...



And Danahey's photos from his magickal adventures...




www.flickr.com








The Courier-News' South Elgin World of Faeries Festival 8/7/10 photoset The Courier-News' South Elgin World of Faeries Festival 8/7/10 photoset




Did you attend the World of Faeries Festival? Share your summer festival-going stories here!


--Emily McFarlan, Staff Writer




Thumbnail image for janelle.jpgNOTE: Courier-News freelance writer Janelle Walker has signed up for the second round of the "Elgin's Biggest Loser" challenge. Participants weigh in Wednesday nights, and Janelle is blogging the experience exclusively for The Courier-News.


I went into Wednesday's weigh-in optimistic, but realistic.

I'd been out of town Thursday morning to Tuesday evening, back home in North Dakota for my 20-year high school reunion. I knew there was going to be a lot of food around over the weekend, with little time for a workout and alcohol in large quantities. So I figured, if I came back breaking even for the week, that would be enough for me.

Not that I totally blew the diet. There were THREE pizza opportunities last week: One with girls from my class; one with my sister, nephews and their families; and one with my folks. And you know what? Each time, I had the salad (with blue cheese dressing, no less). I nibbled at the toppings on my nephew's pizza at Zorba's on Ottertail Lake and had a tiny bite of the cherry dessert pizza off my great-niece's plate on Sunday (Amazing how a 2-year-old can give you a look that says, "Hands off, Nellie!").

I stuck to the diet in other ways, too. I ate the hard-boiled eggs I brought with for breakfast most days, with a piece of string cheese or Greek yogurt. Eggs and string cheese were great highway driving snacks, too. I had chicken, including fried chicken, a couple of times over the course of the weekend.

But there were times when I didn't stick to the diet.


The good, the bad and the results of the weigh-in, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for janelle.jpgNOTE: Courier-News freelance writer Janelle Walker has signed up for the second round of the "Elgin's Biggest Loser" challenge. Participants weigh in Wednesday nights, and Janelle is blogging the experience exclusively for The Courier-News.


Drumroll please... The Pre-20-Year Reunion number is... 12 (down TWO since last week!) POUNDS.

I am ecstatic about this number. I am no size 2 yet, but think I am ready to go down a size in my blue jeans.

Now, one of the "problems" with weight loss is the whole clothes-shopping issue. I gave up a lot of my "skinny jeans" a while back... mostly because the styles were long gone. And we all have seen makeover shows where the subject has lost weight, but they haven't gotten out of their "fat clothes" quite yet. These people always look like they are swimming in their outfits.

But, on the other hand, when your goal is more than 20 pounds, there are a lot of sizes to cover on the way down, and who can afford to buy clothes for each one of those size intervals?

This, however, gives me one more reason to be looking forward to the 2010 Frock Swap CCC. Yes, I am sneaking in a shameless promo here.


More shameless self-promotion, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for janelle.jpgNOTE: Courier-News freelance writer Janelle Walker has signed up for the second round of the "Elgin's Biggest Loser" challenge. Participants weigh in Wednesday nights, and Janelle is blogging the experience exclusively for The Courier-News.


If you heard a high-pitched squeal on Elgin's west side on Wednesday, say about 5:20 p.m., I believe what you heard was me. That was my reaction when I realized, belatedly, what Laura Dion-Jones was telling me.

I had lost another five pounds. In a week.

Now, when I lost five pounds in the first week, all I heard was "Oh, that is water weight," and it comes from just eating healthier. The body flushes out water or whatever.

But the five pounds this week just means something else to me.


Leave Janelle encouragement, why that's important, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for janelle.jpgNOTE: Courier-News freelance writer Janelle Walker has signed up for the second round of the "Elgin's Biggest Loser" challenge. Participants weigh in Wednesday nights, and Janelle is blogging the experience exclusively for The Courier-News.


Ever notice that when you start a diet or an exercise plan, there are some friends who are supportive and encouraging and other friends who seem to want to push you off the straight and narrow?

I will have to admit that I might, at times, fall into the latter category. Not that I would ever intentionally try to sabotage someone's diet or pooh-pooh their efforts to their faces. However, those from The Courier-News office will tell you that I might have an evil streak, too.

I told Laura Dion-Jones, the life coach who has put together Elgin's Biggest Loser, that I love to bake. I get bored at night or just need something to clear my mind, and I will start pulling out the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies or peanut butter chocolate chip cookies or banana bread with chocolate chips or a cheesecake or brownies. I usually have all of the ingredients needed for the above in my kitchen at any time.


How does baking make Janelle evil? Find out, after the jump.

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