#772: The Antelope Takes Flight

April 3rd, 2017 § permalink

“Man,” she said, lapsing into silence for what my digital recorder tells me was six seconds.

Six seconds might not seem like a long time, but try it sometime. Sit in silence for six seconds at a peppy Streeterville coffee shop after work on a Friday while Fatboy Slim’s 1998 hit “The Rockafeller Skank” blasts about funk soul brothers overhead and you’re trying to explain to a virtual stranger with a digital recorder why you love something you love.

“Sometimes it’s the smell?” she said, laughing. » Read the rest of this entry «

#771: The Harold Washington Robot

March 31st, 2017 § permalink

If you watch the robot instead of the movie he gestured you to, it shifts in its chair.

Once or twice, it blinks, maybe cocks its head. They’re jarringly human gestures. They’re the little twitches and nods a man would make trying to get comfortable while you watched a movie about his life.

But the man has been dead for 30 years. At his desk, a robot sits, gesturing and blinking and being eerily almost natural as it narrates the life of Mayor Harold Washington to visitors to the DuSable Museum of African American History. » Read the rest of this entry «

#770: Quack Cures and How Bad They’d Kill You

March 29th, 2017 § permalink

I’m currently off in South Dakota with the family, looking at dinosaur stuff and chasing the wild jackalope. I’ll be back Thursday, but to tide my throng of fans, here are a few Chicago-based 1800s quack cure ads from a book I bought at Wall Drug, along with brief commentary on if they would kill you. » Read the rest of this entry «

#769: God’s Edmontosaurus

March 27th, 2017 § permalink

Years ago, I visited a creationist dinosaur dig.  » Read the rest of this entry «

#768: Rules for Not Being a Jackass Tourist (and Why Ferris Bueller is Crap)

March 24th, 2017 § permalink

The days are longer. Atypical languages like Italian are heard on trains. Selfie sticks are extended at an exacerbated rate on downtown bridges and the City Winery location on the Riverwalk has clear, plastic geodesic domes for rent so people can sip wine at sunset without freezing their jacquard knit popovers off.

The tourists are coming. » Read the rest of this entry «

#767: On Rooftops

March 22nd, 2017 § permalink

I wonder if I would think about rooftops so much if I didn’t live in Chicago. » Read the rest of this entry «

#766: What I’m Looking For

March 20th, 2017 § permalink

The two-headed calf stared at us as we walked in the door, or at least one head did. » Read the rest of this entry «

#765: Graves of Michigan Avenue

March 17th, 2017 § permalink

I don’t think the Fine Arts Building intended to house a company that hosts corporate team-building retreats where you escape from a room full of zombies.

But it does.

I don’t think the Chicago Musical College intended to become the home of a college bookstore with windows stacked with alumni hoodies, Harry Potter play scripts and zen-themed coloring books for adults.

But it has. » Read the rest of this entry «

#764: Atom Orbitals and the Charm of Being Lost

March 15th, 2017 § permalink

I was told the TV was mine, that the long day earned me a couch and control of the remote.

I looked at the couch and blanket and said “I’m going to watch a TED Talk about atoms.”

And within three minutes, I was. » Read the rest of this entry «

#763: Silence in the Library

March 13th, 2017 § permalink

They call it a library, writing Library with a capital L in the emails setting up the date.

“The Living Room is being used on Tuesday but the Library next to the Living Room would be available for you,” the email from the event manager read.

I have to tread carefully, as this was a work appointment. Not a “this website” work but Work also with a capital. The place that feeds me and clothes me and where I find myself saying things like “workflow,” “bandwidth” and “talk offline.”

So I’ll be cautious where I can and euphemistic when I need to. There’s nothing bad that will be said here at all, but a place where people say “Do you have the bandwidth for this project?” instead of “Hey, you got time for this?” is a place whose boundaries must be honored. They let me do my silly site, I keep them free from its pages. » Read the rest of this entry «

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