My Amish Home: Visit is nice, but there's no place like home

"And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:10-11

Top of the Morning, March 26, 2014

Editor's note: The April 3 class has been canceled.

The timing of this year's Severe Weather Spotters Training Class in Tilton packs a punch. It takes place April 3, 40 years to the day that 148 twisters rocked 13 states resulting in 330 deaths and more than 5,000 injuries.

That bad day in Boston

Like me and many other runners around the country, Hal Higdon followed the 2013 Boston Marathon online — watching the elite racers and tracking the progress of friends who were running the race. And then sitting glued to the computer or the TV, watching coverage of the bombings at last year's race and desparately waiting to hear of the whereabouts of those friends there.

Area history, March 25, 2014

Today is Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Here are news reports from 100, 50 and 15 years ago on this date:

Top of the Morning, March 25, 2014

A former Illini gymnast, Andres Saavedra didn't flinch when NBC asked him if he could perform on the high bar for a skit that would air during last Friday's "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon."

Even if it meant doing it wearing jeans. And shoes. And a wig that made him look like Kevin Bacon.

Minnesota students spend spring break helping Gifford

GIFFORD — Another wave of volunteer help arrived in tornado-battered Gifford Monday morning, brought in by bus from Northfield, Minn.

Area history, March 24, 2014

Today is Monday, March 24, 2014. News reports from this date 100, 50 and 15 years ago:

In 1914, the new "pick up" street sweeper for Champaign was unloaded from a rail car today. A representative of the Baker Manufacturing Co. of Springfield will demonstrate the machine tomorrow. Also, word was received that the city's new Peerless auto fire truck will arrive in Champaign this week.

Top of the Morning, March 24, 2014: From the archives

Mike Hopkins has the best aerial photo of Champaign-Urbana, but he had an advantage very few others do — he was shooting from the International Space Station.

A few years ago, when Google unveiled higher-resolution satellite imagery in its maps, it was kind of stunning to look at my car in the driveway from miles above the planet.

Reluctant Townie: Tangling with a toddler

For the past week, everyone in my house has been sick with the flu. Or the cold. Or the upper respiratory infection. Or some unholy combination thereof. Each day seems to bring a new set of symptoms. We consulted a doctor midweek and were met with a definitive shrug of the shoulders. Dr. Gregory House is, unfortunately, not in my provider network.

Studio Visit: Debra Richtmeyer

Studio Visit is a Q&A with a local artist. Here, a chat with Debra Richtmeyer. A professor of saxophone at the University of Illinois School of Music, she co-organized and co-hosted the North American Saxophone Alliance biennial conference that ended Saturday on campus.

Q: When did you start playing saxophone?