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Cell phone conundrum -- is it safe or for safety?
By Stephanie Penick | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 6/14/2010 12:05 AM

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Consider these thoughts and a few close encounters from last week.

The other morning while walking our dog later than usual, I came upon a youngster riding his 20-inch mountain bike down the middle of Whispering Hills Road. Approaching from behind, I could see by the way he was swerving slightly that he was riding without his hands on the handlebars.

Since little papillon Karl walks at a fast clip, we advanced past the teen. That's when I noticed he was talking on his cell phone.

I wondered in the name of safety, "What is he thinking?"

Rather than distract him by asking him to pay attention to the oncoming traffic, we continued home. Yet I can't stop thinking that, even though as a kid I sometimes rode my 24-inch bike with no hands, it's even more daring and downright dangerous while talking on a cell phone.

And wasn't the cell phone likely given to him to help keep him safe? What would you do?

Coexisting with nature: After a downpour cut short the Memorial Day Parade, leaving me resembling a wet rat, I called for a ride since the 1.5-mile walk home now lacked appeal. As we headed south along River Road near the church across from Safety Town, Jim spotted two red foxes in the bushes.

We pulled into the church parking lot, so I could snap a photo. The playful animals appeared to pose for my camera, but just when I set up a shot of the two of them, one after the other would scamper toward Berry Court. I could only capture their images one at a time.

Then Thursday afternoon, again heading home from downtown along Aurora Avenue, a young coyote ran across the road near All Saints Catholic Academy.

I've grown accustomed to coming upon a coyote stopping me in my tracks during midnight dog walks, but Thursday was the first time I had encountered one in daylight. Remember! Don't feed wildlife.

Old-fashioned hospitality: Earlier Thursday, during the four Rotary Clubs of Naperville Pursuit of Life Scholarship Breakfast at Meson Sabika, I was reminded how delightful it is to experience social networking around a table for 10 with live musical entertainment by the Waubonsie Valley High School Mosaic Choir.

For 2010, the Naperville Rotary clubs with Rotary Charities dedicated $73,000 from their philanthropic endeavors to fund 27 scholarships.

The Rotary Club of Naperville presented its Gene Drendel Award to Elisa Palluau.

Their other awards went to Stephanie Cheng, Danielle Hoffer, Kelly Hennessy, Lindsay Jansen, Meagan Keenan, Mitchell Roemer and Ryan Stanley.

Naperville Rotary Charities/College of DuPage Scholarships were presented to Gabriel Bernal, Nichole Collins, Ronda DePaola, Jessica Ewald, Kara Harden, Aleksandra Luszczynska, Evelina Pilipavicius and Shundarae West.

The Rotary Club of Naperville Sunrise/Pursuit of Life Awards went to Surbhi Agarwal, Margarita Altidis, Kathleen Cervera, David Hess, Alexis Rogers, David Unciano and Michelle Wang.

The Rotary Club of Naperville/Downtown gave Pursuit of Life Awards to Waubonsee Community College students Angela Aurand and Sherry Brown Messacar and College of DuPage students Jill Markussen (Sandoval) and Aruna Sasikumar.

Playing games: At a time when video games are the rage, I met a man visiting from Florida the other evening who calls himself a "board game publicist." I grew up playing cards and board games, so I was all ears.

Ryan Sylvander was carrying a couple of his family's favorite board games in a backpack and before I knew it, we'd played both of them!

His mission is to give children alternatives to video games. His goal is for families to discover thinking games with simple rules and tremendous depth that encourage strategic planning while having fun with two to six other people. He thinks Monopoly takes too long to play.

The board games he suggests run the gamut. The ones we played are his two children's preferences - the whimsical tile-laying game called The Kids of Carcassonne and the beautifully illustrated Dixit, a game that incites colorful narrative. I liked them, too.

Most of us have familiar board games like Sorry, Risk and Monopoly on a shelf that we rarely play in these computer game days.

Sylvander insists board games have changed, especially since 2000. He urged me to discover the advancements made in game play and component quality for all skill levels since 1933 when Monopoly was first published.

I'm on my way to Anderson's Bookshop to see what Becky Anderson thinks.

• Stephanie Penick writes about Naperville. E-mail her at