Q: I traveled to Ohio recently amid all the flooding. I looked in vain for a website that would give a clear picture of closed interstates in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. I did find state sites for Indiana and Ohio closings but not one for Illinois. I tried many sites, including the state police and TV news websites but never found a good one that gave clear, concise and current information. At particular issue was the closing of I-70 near Pocahontas. The closing was announced on the radio but I could get nothing online. On the return trip the next day, my granddaughter searched for an hour on her smartphone for an I-70 status. Nothing! I chanced the I-70 route and got through the area in question but the water was up to the highway edge. After I got home Tuesday night KMOV reported I-70 closed in the area we just went through. Do you know of a good website that always has current road closing status?
James McAfee, of Belleville
A: You may mumble nasty things about it when traffic is slowed by construction, but the Illinois Department of Transportation might prove a timesaver and even a lifesaver for you under similar conditions in the future.
If you go to www.idot.illinois.gov, you can find its Emergency Road Closure page, which lists closed roads in each of its nine districts throughout the state. Under “Travel Information,” click on “Roadway Information.” Then, click on “Road Closures” and finally on “Emergency Road Closure.”
As of Monday morning, for example, three roads in our District 8 were still listed as closed due to flooding: southbound U.S. 67 from the Clark Bridge to Illinois 143, Illinois 100 at Illinois 96 and the Water Street truck bypass in Chester.
I’d also strongly recommend you follow IDOT on Twitter. In my research for this answer, I found that the agency even during the holiday week posted frequent warnings and updates, including the following (@IDOTDistrict8) at 9:45 a.m. on Dec. 28: “The Bond County I-70 closure is extended. The current closure limits are from (mile marker) 36 to (mile marker) 45: Pocahontas to Greenville. #ILTraffic” For the metro-east specifically, they recommended apps.dot.illinois.gov/stl-traffic.
I hope this suggestion can help you and others stay more informed during future calamities. But even in calmer times, you can stay up-to-date on road closures with IDOT’s map of construction sites.
Q: Can you please explain the 2, 3, 4 and 5 star ratings at the end of each horoscope in your newspaper?
Kathryn, of Collinsville
A: To borrow a couple of astronomical terms, those ratings condense your daily forecast into a number designed to show whether you should expect a stellar day or a black hole.
“The stars represent each sign’s emotional well-being for the day,” astrologer Eugenia Last says. “(They are) based on the movement of the moon. The moon takes two and a half days to move through a constellation so you may have the same number of stars a couple of days in a row.
“When you have a five-star day, you can take on whatever comes your way. But when you have a one-star day, you may want to avoid adversity and rethink your strategy before making a move.”
In other words, one-twelfth of the world’s population may want to say in bed that day if they believe such things. I don’t, but Last swears she knows what she’s talking about.
“Astrology is a mathematical science and an interpretive art,” says Last, who has made the stars her living for the past 25 years. “The math I could teach anyone. The interpretation is something else. It’s a gift.”
Calling herself the “astrological Ann Landers,” the 66-year-old Toronto-born woman of Romanian-Ukrainian descent says she has hundreds of clients around the world, including both celebrities and corporations. She has written five books and two computer software programs and has hosted a talk-show on Canadian radio. To her credit, she does urge people not to get too wrapped up in signs and prognostications.
“Man’s own will determines his destiny,” she says. “Therefore, take hold of your life and make the best of it.”
For more on her work or to ask her an individual question, go to www.eugenialast.com.
Q: In the past, I loved watching a program on the History Channel called “American Restoration” that starred Rick Dale at his shop called Rick’s Restorations in Las Vegas. The series this year has five different shops involved. What happened to Rick Dale?
Dale, of Swansea
A: The History Channel apparently thought the show itself could use a major restoration to boost its appeal, so season seven debuted on New Year’s Day with a brand -new format.
“‘American Restoration’ follows five of the best restoration shops in the United States as they not only restore pieces of America’s history, but create new and awe-inspiring works from vintage items,” it now says on the show’s website, www.history.com/show/american-restoration. “Each shop has a unique focus—from classic cars, to rare antique signs, to one-of-a-kind bikes. They’ll prove their prowess as masters of restoration, while exploring each item’s original glory, place in history and effect on pop-culture.”
Perhaps they thought a more diverse group of restorers would add interest; perhaps Dale asked for too much money. Neither Dale nor the channel has offered an explanation, but you still can keep up with him at www.ricksrestorations.com or on his Twitter page, where fans like Brettly Otterman have registered their displeasure and are trying to get #bringbackrickdale trending on Twitter.
Who was the only European monarch buried on American soil (right here in Illinois, in fact)?
Answer to Sunday’s trivia: Ironically, the nuclear reaction that helps make the hydrogen bomb so deadly — fusion — was at the heart of creating life in the universe, scientists say. The early universe consisted entirely of hydrogen, but funny things started to happen after the first stars formed. In the pressure and heat of stellar blast furnaces, hydrogen atoms fused into helium, helium fused into lithium, lithium into beryllium, etc., until the first 25 or so elements were created. Then, the stars exploded as supernovae, and the additional heat produced even heavier elements such as gold, copper and lead. Over billions of years, this material was strewn throughout the universe before some of it coalesced into planets and eventually gave rise to life. So it may sound romantic, but we truly are made of star stuff.