It all started so innocently. Almost 10 years ago we kicked off a fun little promotion that we called Readers' Choice. The idea was to let people vote on their favorites in a bunch of different categories. Businesses would get recognized, readers would enjoy it and we'd sell a few ads. In most worlds, I think all of those are good things.

Never did we dream it would get this big.

Last year, we had well more than half a million categories voted on. It took all the fingers, toes, toothpicks, matchsticks and then some to tally it all. (By the way, this year we'll be entirely computerized with the voting, which should solve everything. I mean seriously, hanging chads . . . Florida . . . Al Gore . . . what could go wrong?)

And thus we arrive at the point of today's blabbering. Readers' Choice 2013 is almost upon us. The kickoff, which is super secret, will be announced sometime this week on our website. Again, super, super secret - but if I were you I'd start checking tomorrow.

We'll once again have tons of categories and tons of selections in each. We also adhere very strictly to the time-tested Chicago rule of politics, vote early and vote often. Does that mean that some businesses or individuals will try to stuff the ballot box? Do Illinois governors often retire to the state pen after governorship? Of course. Heck, we've had folks in the past stage elaborate campaigns. Some would put city and county politicians to shame.

In the end, the winners, runner-ups and honorable mentions receive a certificate suitable for framing to display in their choice of honored locations. And why wouldn't they? Heck, anytime your customers vote for you it ought to be a source of pride. Good for you for having products, services, businesses and people who are quality enough to gain votes.

For those wonderful critics out there - God love 'em - let me be perfectly clear about this. Readers' Choice is not, I repeat, not a scientific survey. It is not designed to be anything other than what it is, a fun promotion that gives folks a chance to say something positive about somebody or something. And Lord knows, we have enough people out there being negative. Isn't it about time that we gave folks a chance to let those positive voices be heard? And besides being positive, Readers' Choice has turned out to be something that draws huge interest and amazing participation.

I've already taken my shoes and socks off. Let the counting begin.

Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper Timmons, who's getting ready to start counting votes with fingers and toes, is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at