Sunday, March 07, 2010

Chicago Blues + MOSI Pictures

I've never been to Tokyo, Paris, Shanghai, San Fransisco, or many other major world cities other than Manhattan. However, I've been to Tel Aviv, London, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Dallas, and some other cities, and I've never seen another city that so looked and felt like Manhattan other than Manhattan, until I came to Chicago.

The width, texture, lights, traffic, and shops lining the highways and streets, the colors of the dirt, subway tracks, billboards, buildings, and sky (they even have yellow cabs), the outsides, insides, flooring, molding, doors, and windows on the buildings, the sounds, the smells ... it's all so Manhattan to me. No other city, at least none that I've been to, has that pitiless overwhelming iron-steel-concrete-dingy feel.

Rachel loves it; then again, Rachel loves Manhattan.

As a Gibson-reading cyber-citizen urban sci-fi lover, I'm probably supposed to love it, too; but I don't love Manhattan. I can't stand being in a place where I am surrounded in 26 directions by clusters of people. Yesh gvul.

Nevertheless, I admit that it's nice to have access to a place where you're bound to find something you want to do, see, or eat at any time for nearly any price range.


Thursday afternoon we left Rachel's busy bird-feeders in Oxford, OH and drove to Chicago. Thursday night we ate at Taboun, one of Chicago's numerous kosher restaurants. Decent.



Following several recommendations, we started the day with one of Chicago's famed architecture tours. While mildly interesting and educational, proto-skyscraper architecture is not interesting enough to me to have justified the time spent. Rachel loved it.

I could only think how Chicago would never have been built if the copyright laws were as strictly enforced back then as they are today. Every building copied innovations and styles from other buildings recently built or designed.

Gypsy Music

After the tour we caught the tail end of a live Gypsy band at the Cultural Center while we ate lunch. It was weird. It started in one place and then seemingly wandered randomly around for while before returning. I think it's an acquired taste.


Friday afternoon I finally did what I really wanted to do in the first place, which was hit the Museum of Science and Industry. I mistakenly thought I could get there from the end of the green subway line, but I ended up having to walk 40 minutes across a park and all of U of Chicago to get there. Take a bus or drive (or take the Metra).

I ended up having an hour and a half at MOSI, and I thoroughly regretted every moment I had wasted earlier in the day. MOSI is FANTASTIC. Unfortunately, I had to run through the rooms with barely any time to stop. The museum closed at 4:00 and anyway I had to get back to where I was staying before shabbat. It deserved at least four more hours, probably more.

Friday night was Carlebach davening and some lovely hosts. Rachel was scholar-in-residence.



No secret kiddush club. Sniff.


Sat night I decided that the Chicago experience would have to include some Chicago blues. I chose B.L.U.E.S. bar, since we could walk to it, it had good reviews, and the band sounded good. The band was awesome. The crowd was very heterogeneous: old, young, mixed races, probably gays and straights. A small place without much room to dance, but we found a way.

Stealing the bird seed.

A shot of a huge wind farm in Indiana.

Our architecture tour was along the famed street abutting the lake, where the earliest skyscrapers were built in the 1880s and after. The city was built out of stone and steel, following the great fire of Chicago.

Most skyscrapers have "legs", "torso", and "head", mimicking a style developed in Europe. Actually the entire city was planned out, and much of the inspiration came from Paris.


Apparently a federal prison. The guide wasn't going to point this one out, but I immediately noticed it because the windows on each level are not regular from level to level. Leading to the conclusion that the window arrangement must form some kind of secret code or message. More pictures at the link.

MOSI, just one of the buildings

Mailbox outside of MOSI

LEGO FallingWater in a room with other LEGO info and tables to build



Fire engines


A dollhouse; I don't know what a dollhouse was doing in a museum of science and industry

Some kind of Platonic solids

One of the best rooms was the following one about future technology.

Soccer playing robots. It could lie down and do pushups, balance, kick, and so on. I don't know if it could jump.

Another interactive table idea.

Interactive clothing

Another interesting room, this one attempted to explain the Internet.

You could buy an RFID card for $1 and pass through each exhibit scanning the card. Then various things would happen, such as creating an avatar with your face, a visual representation of your avatar being sent across the net, and so on. I don't know why they charged an extra $1 for this, as it prevented most people from experiencing it.

About Internet security.

Small part of Internet history.

Packet switching. You play the nuclear bombs, hitting the nodes in an attempt to prevent the data from getting through.

Someone convinced them to add a display of ESR's definition of hacker as white hat and cracker as black hat.

I posted about Mindball on Purple Pawn only a month ago. The object is relax your mind as much as possible, which causes the ball to move toward the opponent. This is the opposite idea from Mindflex.

She lost. It was easier for the middle-aged father to flatline his brain activity.

An ad on the subway. I'm sure that was meant to be a woman with a ponytail, but a few seconds extra looking revealed it to be an extra-terrestrial with a thick, bent neck. Which makes sense.

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