My family noticed that Cindy Preszler has not been on KSDK Channel 5 recently. Has something happened?
-- Lee Ann Funk, of Mascoutah
Maybe she's been busy trying to extricate her cat from her vacuum cleaner.
OK, I'm being silly, but it's her husband's fault. If you haven't "liked" it yet, hubby Dave filmed his wife vacuuming her beautiful white cat, Snowy, and posted it on his Facebook page. There, like most cat videos, it immediately was adored by millions.
Cindy, of course, recently had to share the clip with her KSDK fans, assuring them that Snowy loves the attention. So she simply brushes the big, white shedder with her vacuuming tool while she's doing the rest of her house. And since Snowy is deaf, the cat isn't the least bit frightened by the noise. (I'd be clawed to within an inch of my life if I'd try that with my own furballs.)
In any case, the station assures me she's just taking a few days off, and her familiar voice is still on the station's weather-department answering machine. Until she returns, go to ksdk.com, search for "Preszler cat" and watch her Hoover Snowy.
When the stock market took a huge plunge recently, your cartoonist, Glenn McCoy, depicted a critically ill U.S. economy hooked up to a "stock market" slot machine for life support. I know Glenn leans conservative, but refresh my memory: Did the market do better under George W. Bush than Obama?
-- Stan Tucker, of O'Fallon
Let me put it this way: He's a super nice guy and a whale of a cartoonist, but I may not ask my friend Glenn to be my financial adviser anytime soon.
When the younger Bush entered office on Jan. 20, 2001, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 10,587 and change. During Bush's first two years in office, the market went into a tailspin, falling just below the 7,200 mark on Oct. 10, 2002, a 32 percent drop.
Then by Oct. 9, 2007, the market nearly doubled to 14,165, the highest mark in Bush's eight years, only to fall off the cliff again. As Obama was putting his hand on Abe Lincoln's inaugural Bible on Jan. 20, 2009, investors, skittish over the ongoing banking crisis, were erasing another 322 points to 7,949.
More sleepless nights followed as the DJIA dipped to a stomach-nauseating 6,469 less than two months later. But since then, the market has been on a generally upward march for five years before hitting a peak of 17,152, a 165 percent rise from its nadir, on July 17.
I'm just presenting the numbers; argue over them as you will.
Ham it up: Those hungry for canned hams can also find them at CVS and Walgreen's, I'm told by a faithful -- and budget-minded -- reader. The stores frequently have twofer sales, so you can stock up for camping trips and power outages. And they have tab tops, so you don't even need an opener. Just mind the high sodium content.
Going full tilt: Thanks to my friend Phil Kammann for suggesting a metro-east pinball repairman: A.P. Moore, of Wizard Amusements.
"(He) can repair anything," Kammann wrote. "He has supplied all the games and electronic equipment at St. Clair and Bel-Air bowls since 1977 and has been found to be impeccably honest and reasonable. Plus, he lives in Belleville, so let's keep the money here."
He just needs to advertise better -- unless he has too much business already. His number is 618-233-4043.
What's in a name?: With the help of John Keck, who is fascinated with French Colonial Illinois history, I've found an additional enlightening tidbit on the question of what to call the Okaw/Kaskaskia River.
According to John Mason Peck's "A Gazetter of Illinois" written in 1837, the name Kaskaskia was never pronounced in full by the early French inhabitants of the American Bottom. Instead, they only used the first syllable (kas)."
However, because of French phonetics (a la Inspector Clouseau), "kas" was pronounced "kah." So when they talked about the town of Kaskaskia, they referred to it as "au kas" -- on the Kaskaskia (River). To strangers, "au kas" sounded like "au kah."
This apparently was further anglicized by the pioneers of English stock from Virginia and Kentucky, who turned "au kau" into "Okaw." As a result, the Kaskaskia River became widely known by this perversion of the French abbreviation."
But just to muddy the waters even more, I've also found that Okaw may be a Native American word for walleye or perch, so perhaps somebody named it for the fish found in it.
What local connection did the metro-east have with German World War I pilot Paul Schulte?
Answer to Thursday's trivia: You've probably heard that most people have their "peccadilloes" -- their minor sins or faults. So if you have peccatophobia, you have a persistent and abnormal fear of sinning or committing a crime. Signs include typical symptoms related to panic: sweating, nausea, dry mouth and shaking. It's related to hamartophobia (from the Greek "hamartia" meaning "fault") and enissophobia/enosiophobia.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-239-2465.