John Spinello of Bloomingdale may not be a household name, but his invention is a happy memory for millions: the ‘Operation’ game.

Spinello, a native of Chicago’s west side, was a sophomore at the University of Illinois in 1962 when an industrial design assignment resulted in the prototype for the game many of us remember for its funny bone, bread basket and a startling buzz for a wrong move.

He sold the invention in 1964 for $500. While he never made another dime on the game, he and his wife and children have had a good life. Enjoyment watching generations of children delight at the game, however, doesn’t pay the bills, and Spinello finds himself in need of a $25,000 operation of his own. Toymaker friends and fans of the game initiated a crowdfund website to help pay for his oral surgery as an expression of gratitude for his creation of an iconic family game.

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Average Salary (2013)

If you want to live in the Midwest, Illinois is your best bet for making the highest salary. The average worker here makes $52,588 per year. In fact, the state ranks head and shoulders above most of its neighbors. Only in Illinois and Minnesota does the average worker bring in more than $50,000 per year.

Even when compared to the whole nation, Illinois comes off well, with the 8th best pay in the United States.

Illinois comes out even better when you consider the state’s very reasonable cost of living.

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Greenwood Cemetery in Decatur

Halloween is centuries-old tradition. The fall holiday has transformed from a day of remembrance to a fun celebration of the supernatural that supports a multi-million dollar horror movie industry and an almost equally lucrative candy-selling business. Spending on Halloween is expected to reach $7.4 billion this year. While that may pale in comparison to spending for other holidays, it still means Halloween is big business in addition to big fun.

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Anastasia MakOur Illinois Artist of the Month is Anastasia Mak, a native of Ukraine who made our state her home and the subject of many of her paintings. She is inspired by Illinois artists, subjects, places and the state’s friendly people. Read on to learn more about Anastasia and see more of her artwork on her website.


ILI: How long have you been an artist or when did you start? Was there a single incident or moment when you realized this was your passion and if so, tell us about it?
Mak: I have been drawing/painting ever since I was able to handle pens, brushes and markers — which, I am told, started at around 2 years of age. My mother was very happy because I have always been able to occupy myself with art for hours, and she didn't have to constantly entertain me. Also, ever since I remember, I have wanted to be a professional artist. When I was 11 though, my dad broke it to me that it would probably not be feasible to earn a decent living in the arts, and when I go to college, I should study something "more useful." I remember that moment so clearly — we were sitting on a bench in New York's Central Park, having that conversation, and I was thinking: "Now what? My life has no meaning!" — at 11! So, well, in college I studied business. And then became an artist.

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Cooler temperatures, shorter days and colorful leaves are all a sign that fall has arrived in Illinois.

Illinois’ scenic byways are a great way to enjoy the fall, offering unparalleled views of changing tree canopies, wildlife sightseeing opportunities and other outdoor activities.

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