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What was your reaction to the Drew Peterson verdict?

--Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgNOTE: The royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was 5 a.m. Friday, and more than 8,000 journalists from all over the world were on hand to to chronicle the royals' special day. The Courier-News staff was not among them. But that won't stop us from blogging about it!

I'm no Anglophile. To wit: I inaccurately referred to the Queen as "the Queen Mum" at about 4:30 this morning on Twitter. (To be fair, it also was 4:30 THIS MORNING.)

But I am a bride-to-be (in 23 days... but, like I said yesterday, who's counting?). And a journalist. That made watching the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and feigning interest in it in the wee hours of the morning kind of mandatory.

I'm not going to lie, though. Sometime between making fun of the fact the Queen's (again, not the Queen Mum) brooch had a NAME and it was THE QUEEN MARY'S TRUE LOVER'S BROOCH... and that Princess Bea looked like some evil creature from Fantasia... and the time Kate arrived at Westminster Abbey at 5 a.m., I was interested.

All the interesting parts of the royal wedding, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgNOTE: The royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is Friday -- at 5 a.m. Central time -- and more than 8,000 journalists from all over the world are expected to be their to chronicle the royals' special day. The Courier-News staff is not among them. But that won't stop us from blogging about it!

Reporter Mike Danahey already has enumerated the reasons he WON'T be watching the royal wedding.


And designer Julia Doyle probably is on the guest list. (More on that, later.)

I'm planning to watch it, too, albeit somewhat less enthusiastically. I'm a journalist and a bride-to-be in less than a month (24 days, but who's counting?). That makes it kind of mandatory. But I did pick up some tea and some cheddar bacon and chocolate caramel scones from Cafe Firefly in Algonquin to go with my wedding watching, which I plan to enjoy after crashing overnight at my friend Jen's.

What about you?

Are you planning to watch the royal wedding? Or not for all the tea in England? Share your thoughts in the comments! (And if you do stay up/get up early to party, send photos to We'll post them here on Between the Bylines!)

-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgIn case you haven't heard, Snowmageddon is coming. The Snowpocalypse. Or, as I like to call it, Snowverreaction.

Although, we'll see. Already, a light dusting of fluffy, white death is covering the ground here in Elgin. And the National Weather Service is forecasting the blizzard will bring at least a foot of snow through Wednesday afternoon to the Chicago area.

Meantime, we have some advice from the Kane County Sheriff and area municipalities in today's paper -- "Sheriff: Stay out of the weather & out of the way" -- and many more winter weather resources on our website. That includes:

  • Emergency closings (Elgin Community College already has announced it is closing at 2 p.m. today and reopening Thursday.)
  • Radar
  • Current conditions
  • Road conditions

We also want to see your photos of the snow, once it comes, or even your preparations for the Snowpocalypse. You can submit your photos here, using this easy form on our website.

AND we want to know: How bad will this storm actually be? Click here to vote in our poll: "POLL: Are you preparing for a major winter snowstorm?"

Not to mention, I'll be glued to our social networking sites as soon as the snow starts to fall. You always can share your stories and photos with us:

We'll run them in Thursday's paper.

Meantime, stay warm. Stay in! And drive safely.

-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgEvery year, we reporters at The Courier-News revisit the key players in what we think were the biggest stories from our beats. We run them as the "Faces" of the year, the people and events that shaped out communities that year.

We ran more than 10 Faces of 2010, and while we could tell you which we thought was the biggest local news story of the year, we set up a poll to hear what you'd pick. Turns out, we'd probably agree.

The Face of 2010, according to our readers, is...

The generous people in our communities.

You're the group of Elgin firefighters still planning a trip to help train fellow firefighters in a Chilean city still recovering from an 8.8-magnitude earthquake earlier this year. You're the Elgin Academy students who collected warm winter clothes for less-fortunate students in the Elgin area earlier this month instead of collecting birthday gifts. You're Chris Doing of Palatine, who donated his kidney to 2-year-old Nathan Saavedra of Carpentersville after reading about the little boy in The Courier-News.

And you took 43 percent of the vote. More, actually, if you count the write-in vote for "Elgin People Helping People - How our community has come together so faithfully throughout this year helping each other."

And even more than that if you count the 36 percent of the vote that went to late Elgin businesswoman Pat Keeney, the not-too-distant second-place finisher. Keeney's also is a story of a community rallying together around a true friend.

Check out how the rest of the votes shook out.

And thank you for voting. Even more than that, thank you for being part of our communities, which as you noted, have come together so faithfully throughout the past year.

-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

Top 10 albums of 2010

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Thumbnail image for jason.jpgNOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of a band and occasionally blogs about the local music scene (usually Wednesdays) on Between the Bylines.

This year wasn't so good in retrospect. An earthquake in Haiti killed 230,000 people. Monsoons left 20% of Pakistan under water. An Antarctic collision between an iceberg and a glacier gouged out a chunk of sea ice the size of Luxembourg. An Icelandic volcano ticked off a bunch of Europeans. Winter was so warm that Canadians couldn't even make fake snow for their Olympics.

Man just made things worse -- between the BP oil leak and this country's lawmakers not being able to balance a checkbook, it's been a stressful year to be an American.

But you know what? Despite all that, at least some great records came out in 2010. Here's my Top 10 of 2010...

1. Iron Chic -- Not Like This

2. The Dopamines -- Expect the Worst

3. Sundowner (of Chicago) -- We Chase The Waves

4. The Brokedowns (of Elgin) -- Species Bender

5. The Riverdales -- Tarantula

6. Alkaline Trio (of Chicago) -- This Addiction

7. The Methadones (of Chicago) -- S/T

8. Old Wives -- See You In Hell

9. Off With Their Heads -- In Desolation

10. The Queers -- Back to the Basement

What were your favorite albums, songs or artists of 2010? Share your thoughts below, in the comments!

-- Jason Duarte, Freelance Writer

Thumbnail image for emily.jpg"In a landmark 32 to 24 vote, legislation recognizing civil unions among gay and lesbian couples passed the Illinois Senate Wednesday afternoon. The bill now heads to Gov. Quinn, who has pledged to sign it."

That report, from our "mothership" paper, the Chicago Sun-Times.

The bill passed the Illinois House of Representatives yesterday. And when signed into law, it will make Illinois would the sixth state to recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Many have expressed their opinions, the pros and cons of civil unions since they have become law in those states. We could rehash those here. But we want to hear your opinion.

What do you think of civil unions coming to Illinois? Share your thoughts here in the comments!

-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgDo you wear the same apron? Use Grandma's roast pan? Dress your blond-haired, blue-eyed children up like pilgrims while they stuff the turkey?

Was that last one just a Thanksgiving tradition in my family? Because there definitely are pictures of me, about kindergarten-age, wearing a white bonnet and stuffing a turkey at my grandma's house in Ohio. (I'll have to look for those now. Meantime, enjoy this animated GIF of a bear dress as a pilgrim waving and hugging a turkey in front of a glittering cornucopia that says "Happy Thanksgiving!" in ye olde script that I found on Google Images.)

What are your family's Thanksgiving traditions? Share them with us, and we'll include them in a Thanksgiving Day article in The Courier-News!

thanksgiving Pictures, Images and Photos

You can share your stories and photos...

-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgIn yesterday's Courier, we asked five questions to a paranormal investigator Greg Stout of the Elgin Paranormal Investigators. (Read the article, "'Don't be afraid,'" here.)

Recently, we received six questions from Melissa A. Tanner of Glen Ellyn-based TnT Paranormal Investigators. Hers are six questions YOU should consider if you think your house may be "haunted."

TnT Paranormal Investigators Casper, Marv Rios, and Melissa Tanner investigating a home in Manteno

Here's Tanner, in her own words...

Have weird and unusual things been happening at your home and you just cannot make heads nor tails of why? It's possible you live in a haunted house! Before you jump to the paranormal let's consider some logical explanations for what is happening.

Here are a few of these things we consider:

1. Knocks and bangs: All houses make noise that is a normal part of the settling and aging process. However, what if your house makes a lot of weird noises? There are a few things you can check: Are all outside shutters secured? Are all doors, windows, storm doors, storm windows, and screens secured? Are the pipes in your house secured? Are you on central air versus radiator heat? If the answers to all of these questions are yes, then it's possible you have a haunting.

2. Hearing voices: Are you hearing voices that you cannot find a source for? Well, first check to make sure of a few things: Did someone leave a clock radio, stereo, TV or computer on? Are you hearing your neighbors? Is a baby monitor on? Do you have a hearing aid? Is there a history of mental illness in your family? If these questions do not help you find the source, then it's possible you have a haunting.

More questions to ask from Tanner, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgWe're not just telling you who won yesterday's election. We're also telling your Election Day stories here on the blog.

Here's another reader report from Laurie Faith Gibson-Aiello of Elgin...

Laurie Faith Gibson-Aiello

I began my election day at 4:15 a.m. -- ready to help out my friend and Judicial candidate John Dalton at the Metra stations by 5 a.m.

LFGA Election.JPG

There we stood, in below-freezing weather, greeting all the folks at the rush hour trains from 5:15 a.m. to 7:24 a.m., outside, smiling, talking, having a pretty good time with the folks at the Big Timber stop. Randy Hultgren's team showed up for the last two trains, with Randy hanging inside the coffee shop for warmth before coming out to try to greet potential voters.

I am proud that after 6 a.m. I saw many "I VOTED" stickers on the folks catching the train. These folks were up early and voting to carry on their American workday.

More of Gibson-Aiello's story, after the jump!

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