The "I Ogle Alton Eagles" buttons have caused much despair and jealousy in the avian world. But can you blame the non-eagles? No one's ever wearing a button that says "I Spy Sparrows" or "I Look Out for Loons." Make the other birds even more envious when you attend the "Eagle Meet and Greet" at the Alton Visitor's Center (200 Piasa Street, Alton, Illinois). From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, January 1 (and every Saturday in January), you can hang out with a real live eagle, learn about the symbolic bird and even get the resented, yet coveted, free button. But don't wear it on the outside of your jacket -- the sparrows will be on the lookout for you on your way home. Remember: They are small but numerous. For more information on these free events (and other eagle happenings), visit www.visitalton.com or call 800-258-6645. -- Alison Sieloff
Take a Powder
On a winter's day
If you're the type who drunkenly resolves to do something different, something healthier, something more noble every year around midnight on December 31 and then wakes to find a bleak, joyless, vice-free calendar year facing you, take solace in knowing you're not legally bound to keep those silly promises. You are, however, required to make a token effort. Here's an easy out: Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center (11715 Cragwold Road, Kirkwood) offers a guided hike along its Hickory Ridge Trail from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Monday, January 3. This free adult activity is sure to count toward numerous New Year's goals, such as losing weight, getting into nature, exercising more and hiking Hickory Ridge Trail. These hikes do fill up, so call 314-301-1500 to make a reservation. And should you miss this opportunity, take advantage of the next hike at Powder Valley on January 24. -- Jedidiah Ayres
We'll be honest with you: You probably won't see the Saint Louis University men's basketball team on the court when the Edward Jones Dome hosts the 2005 NCAA Final Four in April. It's been a rough season so far for the Billikens. Still, the beauty of college basketball is that one magical run can wipe out an entire season of frustration. Maybe SLU's run will start at 7:10 p.m. when the Billikens host the Southeast Missouri State University Indians at the Savvis Center (14th Street and Clark Avenue). Tickets cost $9 to $23; call 314-241-1888 or visit www.ticketmaster.com to make a purchase. -- Ian Froeb
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