Unsolicited opinions on Austin shovelers and disenrobed chocolate

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By Dan Haley

Austin shuffle: On the east side of Oak Park everybody may not always see the upsides of living on the border with Austin.

The Trib reported Sunday that Austin had more murders than any other city neighborhood. I assume that was weighted against Austin having the city's largest neighborhood population.

On Halloween, those of us along Humphrey and other near-Austin streets see a spectacular arrival of West Side kids?#34;and adults?#34;for Trick-or-Treating. Quite a wonderful evening it is, too, though still somewhat overwhelming for new movers on our street.

But, to me, an increasingly lazy middle-aged white guy, here's a benefit of proximity to Austin that is growing on me: At-the-ready snow shovelers. It takes little more than flurries before teen-age boys from Austin come knocking, looking for the opportunity to shovel the walk.

On New Year's Day when I was surprised by the 4-5 inches of snow that had fallen with the arrival of 2008, I was delighted to pay $20 to have the walk well cleared.

Not sure if the lazy white guys living on Belleforte and Woodbine see a similar influx of eager River Forest teens looking for work.

Geography bee: Christmas at my house was a Ten Thousand Villages kind of holiday. The new shop on Marion Street was the hit of the season for us as kids and parents, aunts and cousins all got the fair trade around the world treatment. What? Maybe half the presents under our tree came from Ten Thousand Villages. It soon became the expectation that after holding up the gift that one had to announce its country of origin. Luckily there are social studies teachers in the family because a couple of the African nations threw me.

At the movies: In our Villagers of the Year coverage in today's paper, reporter Marty Stempniak asked co-Villagers David Pope and Tom Barwin for their favorite movies. Barwin's choice was "The Godfather, for sure."

If I'd taken a minute to try and predict Pope's choice I flatter myself that "Lawrence of Arabia" would have been on my short list.

Smothered? Drizzled? Perhaps Encased: Among the many, many treats that found their way to the WJ's conference room table this holiday season was a box of Hershey's Pot of Gold chocolates. Not bad. Not Fannie Mae in its prime, but not bad.

However, the copywriter at Hershey's must have been on a sugar high the day they wrote that the candies were "Enrobed in Milk and Dark Chocolates."

I disenrobed several but did not feel good about it.

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