Hoping for a better 2009

Bill Cassin-who, with his wife, Virginia, have been a mainstay of the local Hemingway Foundation (which turned 25 years old this year)-has had a tough autumn. He’s an outdoorsman, and, unfortunately, while he was outdoors in Indiana in September, he was waylaid, apparently, by a West Nile Virus-carrying mosquito. Soon, it morphed into near total paralysis, and the Cassins have been hospital hopping ever since.

Currently, he’s in RML Hospital in Hinsdale (a collaboration originally of Rush, MacNeal and Loyola medical centers). It’s a “specialty” hospital, which mostly means weaning patients off ventilators. And Bill is making progress on that front.

Bill’s wife, Ginie, has been heading out there every day at 8 a.m. and returning around 7 p.m. Bill can’t talk because they had to give him a tracheotomy, so he’s reduced to gestures-basically his thumbs and one foot. Ginie says the response from well-wishers has been tremendous. “I think he’s on every prayer list,” she said.

Doctors aren’t sure, but his symptoms are similar to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which would be good because there’s a pretty good rate of recovery with that disease. The damaged nerves eventually regenerate. But the recovery could take a while and they’re dealing with the usual problems anyone faces who has to lie flat on his back in bed for months. “We’re still in the desert,” Ginie said, “and we’re running into a lot of these little rattlesnakes.”

Nonetheless, “We’re optimists and people of faith,” she says. “We’re just keeping Bill surrounded by love and affection.”

Visitors are limited, but cards are welcome.

Not your average performance bonus

The Wednesday Journal Inc. sales staff was reportedly energized last week by the opportunity to be named Illinois’ newest U.S. senator.

Taking the sales staff incentive program to unprecedented levels, advertising manager Marc Stopeck has offered Barack Obama’s old seat to whoever posts the highest ad sale volume in December.

“No, this is the actual U.S. senate seat,” Stopeck said Thursday when questioned by an incredulous Journal reporter. Asked how he managed to acquire what is widely considered to be a ****** valuable treasure, Stopeck replied, “I just made a large ****** contribution to the Blagojevich campaign.”

Stopeck stressed the opportunity isn’t limited solely to Journal employees. “We’re also offering it as a bonus to full-page advertisers this week.” He acknowledged that recent developments may have made the offer less attractive to anyone with any common sense.

“We had a few people who purchased the full-page ads, but they opted out of the senate seat,” he said with a shrug. “What can I say? It’s ****** golden, and I’m not giving it up for ****** nothin’.”

In related news, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment Friday on the identities of Advertisers A, B, C or D.

Avenue lights

Last week’s update on the lights (or lack thereof) on Oak Park Avenue, south of Lake Street, needs, well, updating. A reader who called in wondered about the lack of lights adorning the trees south of the train tracks. It’s true those did not appear this year.

What lights there are have been up since before Thanksgiving. All the small fancy light poles have been wrapped in garland and lit with white lights.

The village is, again this year, splitting the cost of decorating with each business district up to a total match per district of $5,000. The village’s contribution survived the budget cuts and will continue in 2009.

We regret the misinformation.

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