Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Going Potty

Casting spells

A photo from the local release party of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, last Friday. I've not been in a creative kind of mood lately. Sorry for my absence. Be back in the posting mood soon, hopefully. Until then, watch your back. There are dark wizards everywhere.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

See It Sunday--Sun

Tuscan Sunflowers

Tuscan Sunflowers--they really do all orient to the sun! Another place I could stand being in right now.

Happy Bastille Day

Boy do I wish I were in Paris right now!

Along the Seine

Crown Fountain

Crown Fountain

Thanks for all the wonderful comments on my pictures of the Crown Fountain. I decided to look the fountain up as I did not even know its proper name. The artist, Jaume Plensa, who designed it is from Spain. It is composed of two 50 foot towers made of glass blocks. Images of Chicagoans are projected onto the towers which have some sort of LED screen(I'm not sure how this is done) and water spouts from the mouths. Periodically a large rush of water falls from the towers which delights the children who play underneath. Some adults play too.
The quality of art is in the eye of the beholder but if public art is intended to become a part of a community, then Plensa is clearly brilliant. Millennium Park has proven to be a fabulous addition to down-town Chicago. New Yorkers beware!
For more on the fountain and Millennium Park, start here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lensday--Freedom

Filth, treason, blasphemy

Not a great picture but I worry that we have less and less freedom in a country that ought to stand for freedom (and liberty and justice for all). We've had erosions in our rights to freedom of speech, privacy and separation of church and state. Tap my phone, spy on my internet and library use, and tell me the next President of the United States has to be a Christian. What's next?
I don't want to pick any fights here, but I find it offensive that many people in this country would pick a candidate for president not on the basis of his/her qualifications for office but based on religion alone. I heard an interview of an Evangelical Christian saying that she would not vote for Romney because he wasn't a Christian. What's more, neither were Catholics considered Christian by this woman. Forgive me for being naive and thinking Catholics and Mormons were Christian, but this is beside the point. My question is what does that have to do with American politics? I'm not voting for the man but it has nothing to do with his religion or mine. I'd gladly vote for an atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Jew, woman, African American, Asian American or gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual individual if he/she fits my criteria for who is best to run this country. I would cheerfully vote the adulterer back into office if it would solve this country's bigger problems.
Nowadays all it seems to take to win the presidency is a rich, famous father and an insincere conversion to the "right kind" of Christianity. If you were pro-Choice last week, that's OK, recant and everyone will believe you. Oh, and no stem cell research unless your family member suddenly develops Parkinson's Disease. Then you can change your mind freely.
Preach family values to me and mine and it becomes O.K. if you cheat on your wife, your son is gay, your daughters are alcoholics and you try to seduce teenage interns. Actually I don't mind if your son is gay as long as you attend his marriage to another guy and if your daughters are alcoholics if you admit that you too are powerless over drugs and alcohol.
Forgive my rant. I couldn't help myself. And no hate mail, please. It's a free country, isn't it?
By the way, I read banned books too. Below are two books on the ALA list of most challenged books of 2006.



Monday, July 09, 2007

Looks Like a Koosh Ball

Still enjoying my fireworks photos.


Looks like a Koosh Ball

Sunday, July 08, 2007

My buds

Friday night the kids and spouse were out and I had nothing better to do so I decided that instead of hanging out in my local Borders Bookstore, I'd grab my camera and go hang out at the downtown Borders with a little photography on the way. The evening was pleasant with a pinkish sunset brewing. What more could I ask for?
I got a few pictures I liked including a couple of my latest obsession, taking photos of clocks. They really add to architecture, ya know?
As dark was beginning to fall, I discovered a new bit of Chicago a few miles from my home that I must revisit during the day. But this isn't the reason for this post.
It turns out that my destination Border's closed two minutes after I arrived downtown. Instead I went off in search of an open store I could buy some reading material which I planned to read in a cafe as yet to be located. Itchy feet won out and I found myself strolling through Chicago's Millennium Park.
I have already taken pictures at the Chicago "Bean", actually a reflecting sculpture known as Cloud Gate, and at the nearby fountains but this evening was perfect for photography. The real fun started while I was taking pictures at the fountains.
I was spying on a photographer who had a 6 foot tall tripod in place and was photographing the people at play in the water.

The Photographer

As I was doing so, the photographer was accosted by a group of fellows who asked him to take their picture. He apparently told them no because they started looking elsewhere. And there I was sitting with my Digital Rebel XT trying to decide if I should hide the camera so they didn't ask me next. But I decided not to be so silly and soon found myself faced with the same request.
As others have found out to my detriment, if you say please enough times to me I usually cave. These guys were a little boisterous but polite.

The Man

The ringleader told me that they were going to be famous, I think implying that I should be glad to be allowed to take their picture. In fact, I just liked their cheerful good humor and their high jinks. With a large crowd around me, I could see no reason taking their picture put me at risk and I was having fun.

Someday they'll be famous

I snapped a few pictures and got an e-mail address from one of the guys. I've already sent off the pictures and am hoping I will get a reply to let me know that they received the photos. I'll surely let you know if I just fell victim to some kind of scammer but I can't think how. Sometimes you just have to give a little in order to live life to its fullest.
It is funny but I only noticed the large bottles of booze the guys were carrying when I downloaded the photos. Maybe I would have thought twice about taking the pictures but I'm still glad I did so.
Chicago Rocks!

Sunday's Slippery Scribblings

Slippery slug

Slippery

What a word. So many connotations and so few of them savory--slippery as in serpent, Slytherin (from the Harry Potter books), slimy, slug, snake, sinister, salamander, and so forth.
There aren’t too many slippery things I like. I dislike slippery foods—oysters, raw eggs, uni (a slimy form of sushi). Similarly, few people including me like slugs. Surprising to many people, snakes aren’t really slimy. Neither are frogs, toads or salamanders. I happen to have a soft spot for reptiles and amphibians. Leeches probably are slimy. Yuck.
Some bacteria have a slime layer. A form of fungi known as slime molds can be quite disgusting looking. To see the creature known colloquially as the “vomit slime mold” or “dog vomit slime mold” check out this link.
They really do look like vomit, but vomit that moves and grows. Oh, barf! Now that I think of it I have seen these on the ground from time to time but didn’t realize what they were. I also didn’t try to look very closely, probably on the presumption that it was actually dog vomit.
Then think about moral slipperiness. If you are going down the slippery slope you have broken rules that will lead to the more egregious rule-breaking. When a former president was referred to as the Teflon president, it meant that he was on that slope but wasn’t getting caught.
Freezing rain is slippery. So too are oil slicks. Both cause major accidents.
I looked for a slippery quotation and here is what I found:

"To the best of my knowledge and belief, the average American newspaper, even of the so-called better sort, is not only quite as bad as Upton Sinclair says it is, but 10 times worse – 10 times as ignorant, 10 times as unfair and tyrannical, 10 times as complaisant and pusillanimous, and 10 times as devious, hypocritical, disingenuous, deceitful, pharisaical, Pecksniffian, fraudulent, slippery, unscrupulous, perfidious, lewd and dishonest."
-H. L. Mencken, 1941

Mencken who had a wonderful way with words put slippery in company of other loathsome characteristics. Can anyone define Pecksnifian for me? What a great word.
Well, my muse has slipped away for now. Or, courtesy of Simon and Garfunkel it has gone,

"Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

See It Sunday--dark

Fountain after dark

Millennium Fountain after Dark

Saturday PhotoHunt--Shadows

Manitowoc shadows

Manitowoc, Wisconsin

Friday, July 06, 2007

Tuesday Photo Challenge--Round

Ready for a little life in the round?

Round house in Provence

Provence, France

Round house

Wisconsin, USA

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thirteen Fun Things I've Done Already This Summer

Fireworks in Evanston

1. Gone camping.
2. Taken lots of photographs.
3. Gone to see fireworks (twice)
4. Gone to three movies.
5. Walked around a part of Chicago I didn't know very well.
6. Gotten together with friends.
7. Enrolled in an art class (more about this later).
8. Read several books.
9. Slept late.
10. Played a board game with my kids, husband and a friend.
11. Worked in my garden.
12. Started planning our August vacation.
13. Taken big kid and his friends to Taste of Chicago.

I'm trying really hard to be a fun and adventurous mom this summer. I have hopes for a theater outing, more movies (Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix is coming out soon!), reading the newest Harry Potter with the kids or listening to it on tape (the latter is highly recommended), going to the Dunes (Indiana or Michigan on Lake Michigan) and of course the all-important family vacation in August.
Have a great Thursday and weekend!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

What a show!

Jumping on another bandwagon

Free Online Dating

This is an ad free zone




The site tells me I used the word "dead" two times, now three. I gather this isn't good for the kiddies. Although judging from the nasty language the kids in the next room are using, I'd have to expand my vocabulary to offend them.
Which reminds me of a story. . . .
When older son was 10 he used the expression "sucks" one too many times in my hearing. Now, I find this especially irritating because modern kids use variants of the word as an adjective, verb, and adverb far too often for my taste. I have no major objection to using a four letter word when you stub your toe hard but let's not make it the most common word in one's vocabulary.
At any rate, son said the S word and I decided to teach him a lesson. I asked him, did he know what it meant, literally. He said no and I told him. His face went a bit white and he became very quiet for a bit. He also stopped using the S word. I'm not sure if I overdid it but it sure beats washing his mouth out with soap (which I won't do) or grounding him (which would have resulted in his inner conviction that I truly S----ed.

A Taste of Chicago Story

Taste of Chicago

The other day I took my son and his two friends to see Taste of Chicago, or more aptly, to eat Taste of Chicago. For those who are not in the know, Taste runs for the week of July 4th and showcases some of Chicago's wonderful food. Taste is like an overpriced Tapas restaurant where you can buy lots of little food teasers. This seemed like a perfect environment for three teenage boys.
I haven't been to Taste in a while; I got tired of the crowds and a certain drunken atmosphere that would start as the afternoon wore on. I have not so fond memories of intoxicated young adults carrying large stacks of giveaway beer cups as proof of their imbibing prowess. At some point I got too old for this stuff.
The weekend outing was a big hit. The guys ate potstickers, a Puerto Rican meat dish, pizza, cheesecake, and poundcake on a stick. I had some incredibly spicy Louisiana shrimp with corn on the cob. Unfortunately the former made a mess all over my shirt. The entire feast was consumed in less than an hour and the guys wanted to move on.

A Natural Harvest at the Taste

The committee voted for a movie and we walked to one of the downtown multiplexes. En route we encountered a set of tables with chess boards. My son wanted to challenge one of the guys to a game and began to play. While he did so, I took a few photos of the local scene.

Michigan and Jackson

It turned out to be a great place for people watching. We were at one entrance to the Taste and I could see people waiting for a bus, the chess players, tourists, a fellow on roller blades, a group of street musicians and an Amish woman giving out what I thought were religious tracts. I discovered later that she was giving out CD's of her choir.

My kind of town

The street musicians sat themselves down and started drumming on large plastic containers. Within minutes the police arrived and made them move on. I assume they needed some kind of permit they didn't have or were playing in the wrong place. There was a lot of muttering in the crowd around the players. I don't think they thought the eviction was fair.

No street musicians allowed

Like the street musicians, we moved on and headed out to our movie. Surprising to me, the guys voted to see Ratatouille which turned out to be a lot of fun. It is nice to see a rat cast as the good guy. I kid you not, I used to have a pet rat named Ratatouille. I called her Tooey for short.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy holiday!

Chicago does its fireworks on the night of July 3rd. Here is one shot. More to follow.

Fireworks

Sunday, July 01, 2007

What's my sign?

Dog and Pig

Sunday Scribblings asks what is my sign. I hope this is not a prelude to asking me for a date. With two sons and a husband, who has time for a date?
I'm a Cancer. This reveals that my birthday is coming up. It does not obligate me to tell you how old I am. If I tell you my Chinese astrological sign, you could guess my age, but after all, who really cares. We can all sing a rousing chorus to Happy Birthday to me, ok?
Being a Cancer makes me crabby and moody, a moon child. I'll buy that. The rest of the stuff means nothing to me. I really don't care to read my horoscope. I don't even find it entertaining.
My Chinese sign predicts that I'm a good match with my husband. That's good. I looked it up and I'm an Ox. I'm not built like an ox and really don't think my personality is like that of one. I'm not stolid or calm. High-strung probably would fit me better. I guess I might gore you if you make me see red. Here is the interpretation of the Ox from one web site:

People born in the Year of the Ox are patient, speak little, and inspire confidence in others. They tend, however, to be eccentric, and bigoted, and they anger easily. They have fierce tempers and although they speak little, when they do they are quite eloquent. Ox people are mentally and physically alert. Generally easy-going, they can be remarkably stubborn, and they hate to fail or be opposed. They are most compatible with Snake, Rooster, and Rat people.


I think I like the Chinese Zodiac better than the traditional western one. I also admit to liking the fortunes in fortune cookies. I've even been known to save one or two. My favorite fortune that I kept in my wallet for years stated: "Your lover will never want to leave you." The fortune lasted a lot longer than the relationship. The one that said that there are other fish in the sea was more apt.

Tagged again

I've been tagged--by a Snail (actually by the author of A Snail's Eye View) and also by Ren.Kat of Sidestepping Real. It took me a while to get around to responding.

Eight Random Things About Me.

1. I don't wear make-up. Basically I never learned how. It may be a side effect of growing up hyper-aware of feminism or I may just be too lazy to take time on my appearance in the morning.
2. People tell me I look younger than my actual age.
3. As a kid, I learned to program in APL (A Programming Language), Basic and Fortran. I still haven't learned HTML.
4. I once went snow-blind. I'll save that story for a later post.
5. Both my children were delivered by nurse-midwives.
6. I can curse fluently in French which came in handy when living in Paris.
7. I make a mean guacamole.
8. I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up. I didn't consider medical school until I was in college. So I did both.

I have trouble knowing how to impose on people by tagging them. I have a sense that some of my fellow bloggers (you know who you are) don't like being tagged. So if I manage to name eight people, you can ignore me if you don't want to play along or if you have already been tagged for this one.
Here goes:
1. Bleeding Espresso--I have a weakness for expat blogs. What is the opposite of expat anyway--inpat? Sounds like a toe nail disease.
2. Cheaper than Therapy--because she is so funny.
3. The Egret's Nest--lovely bird shots and otherwise.
4. Meeyauw--photos,cats and more.
5. Serotonin Rain--because Serotonin is my favorite neurotransmitter. Sorry Dopamine and Norepinephrine, but I'm playing favorites here.
6. The Thing of the Moment--good photos and humor too.
7. Time with Shelby--because I can relate.
8. Educating Petunia--because we like many of the same books.

Paradox

Paradox

So what is paradoxical about this? Submitted to Moody Monday "horny" since I don't have any toad pictures.

Russian and Turkish Baths

Russian and Turkish Baths

I thought this was a fascinating building when I saw it. I was even more interested when I looked up its history. This building has been offering Russian and Turkish style baths since 1906. the bathhouse is a product of the early 20th century melting pot that was Chicago at the time.
Unfortunately, when I photographed it, I didn't realize it was still a functional bath house so I didn't check to see if it was open at present. Wikipedia tells me that the women's side has been closed for for some time and portions of the men's side were closed for renovations as of February 2006. Since I have no personal interest in bathing there, I will leave any other research up to the reader. So if you need a bath, phone first.
Historical sources say that this bath was enjoyed by Chicago mobsters who could comfortably meet each other at the baths. It is hard to hide weapons while bathing in the nude. I can think of a few parts of the world that might benefit from Russian baths in this case.