got back home a bit ago, exhausted from the post-con traffic (and some truck trailer that apparently caught on fire) and 4 days of dealing with crowds, waiting in lines for hours, and an average of 4 hours of sleep per night. i have tons of photos of panelists, videos of most of the ‘the big bang theory’ panel, and tons of neat new books, but the high point was definitely seeing nathan fillion at his surprise signing today, just before i left. more to come – photos and videos will trickle out over the next week or so.
- Sea mammal blowhole. Any animal that spends appreciable time in the ocean should be able to extract oxygen from water via gills. Enlarging the lungs and moving a nostril to the back of the head is a poor work-around.
- Hyena clitoris. When engorged, this “pseudopenis,” which doubles as the birth canal, becomes so hard it can crush babies to death during exit.
- Kangaroo teat. In order to nurse, the just-born joey, a frail and squishy jellybean, must clamber up Mom’s torso and into her pouch for a nipple.
- Giraffe birth canal. Mama giraffes stand up while giving birth, so baby’s entry into the world is a 5-foot drop. Wheeee! Crack.
- Goliath bird-eating spider exoskeleton. This giant spider can climb trees to hunt very mobile prey. Yet it has a shell so fragile it practically explodes when it falls? Well, at least it can produce silk to make a sail. Oh, wait — it can’t!
- Shark-fetus teeth. A few shark species have live births (instead of laying eggs). The Jaws juniors grow teeth in the womb. The first sibling or two to mature sometimes eat their siblings in utero. Mmm … siblings.
- Human stomach. People can digest a lot — except for cellulose, the primary component of plant matter. Why don’t we have commensal bacteria in our guts to do it? They’re busy helping termites.
- Slug genitalia. Some hermaphroditic species breed by wrapping their sex organs around each other. If one of said members gets stuck, the slug simply chews it off. What. The. Hell?
- Quadrupeds. Let’s say you’re a four-footed animal. Now let’s say you get a wound on your back, or an itch, or a bug wandering up there. Tough luck, kid. You probably can’t do much about it. Hope there’s a low branch around.
- Narwhal tusk. The unicorn-like protuberance on a male narwhal’s head is actually a tooth that erupts through the front of the jaw and keeps on growing, up to 9 feet. Narwhal: “Doc, I have a toothache.” Dentist: “Indeed.”
great posts like this one about how niko tinbergen reverse engineered the seagull and beautiful site design. i wish his proposed redesign of the american airlines website would come to fruition because dear lord that site is a train wreck.
Thursday, July 2: fly into O’Hare at about 7:30. Take the blue line to meet Cecile and Matt at California, then we go to el Nandu for Argentine steak! Delicious steak and empanadas, plus super-dangerous sangria. Afterwards, Cecile and I hit City North for the 11pm screening of ‘Public Enemies’.
Friday, July 3: wake up early and take photos of Cecile peeling the tongue. Spend the afternoon/evening/night with good friends eating exceptional food. Cecile’s tongue pie is the best meat pie I’ve ever had! And putting red pepper flakes on the pineapple before grilling it is a fantastic idea – sweet and spicy!
We played the Battlestar Galactica game (I was finally a Cylon! I was finally on the winning team!) and then a few other board games – Crazy Cat Lady, Monster Squad – before Andy and Virgina had to go. then Jon, Cecile and I watched ‘Ghostbusters’ as a drinking game and pigged out grade-school-sleepover style on junk food.
Saturday, July 4: a rainy and kind of gloomy day, but we made the most of it. In the morning, Trent made breakfast for some of his friends and I got to meet some more new people who are aces with me since they let me share their food. Cecile and I left for Nora and Kate’s apartment as it was starting to sprinkle, and were very nearly there when we were sidetracked by the bargain store called ‘Pay Half’. We went in for the duration of the harder rain and came away with some dresses and cute purses – all pretty cheap.
Kate and Nora put on a great BBQ – delicious brats from Paulina Meat Market, pretzel buns, Mustard Girl spicy mustard (???), quinoa salad, cucumber salad, potato salad, sauerkraut, fresh watermelon and chili-chocolate brownies with what I think was a fleur de sel sprinkled icing. DELICIOUS! Oh, also some really good summery ales. Which we’d all had too much of, because when we sat down to play VCR Clue, we were all totally confused for about the first half hour.
The hour grew late, and I wanted to stop by Lindsay’s BBQ, so Cecile stayed to watch a movie with Nora and Kate, and I headed to the Ukrainian Village. Lindsay was throwing a cookout for her friend’s birthday so I got to see the tail end – grilled meats, dessert and present-opening. Most of the guests left for the California Clipper, and I stayed to talk some more to Lindsay. Outside, we stopped to watch some fireworks on the other side of the church across the street, and marveled at their proximity and the sheer number of fireworks displays happening in the neighborhood. As we drove around we saw they were EVERYWHERE! Every street in Chicago had a fireworks display going off – the whole city was celebrating.
Back and Cecile’s, I texted Katie to see about another BBQ and crazy fireworks display, but then started to feel the effects of three straight days of eating more food, richer food, and meatier food than I normally do, so I watched ‘Firefly’ on Hulu and did Kakuro until I fell asleep.
Sunday, July 5: Cecile left in the morning to go to Bikram yoga, and I got ready to meet Mark for breakfast. Our first choice restaurant was closed, but we went to our old standby, the Flying Saucer. Then, Mark came back to Cecile’s with me, and while I changed into kayaking clothes, visited with Lindsay who had come to pick me up.
Lindsay and I drove to Erehwon to get kayaking gloves for me, but they were closed, so we checked out the new big Whole Foods instead. Then we met Katie R. at the kayaking place and got started. We kayaked for two and a half hours and went six miles round trip. The view of the city from the river is fantastic, and we even got to hear bits of the architecture tour as those boats passed us. Kayaking is fun, but definitely work – my shoulders and hands will be complaining tomorrow, I’m sure! We also all got pretty wet, which was horrifying considering how dirty the Chicago River is. Every time a drop of water splashed into my mouth or, worse, my eye I felt a little panicky that maybe my face was going to rot off.
After kayaking we were all pretty hungry, so we went to Pockets for a quick bite. Lindsay dropped me off and I (thank god) showered and made plans for dinner. Cecile and I met Jon, Katie and one of her friends at Crust. I had a flight of two shots of their infused vodkas and they were really good, as was the arrabiata pizza and apple tart. We sat outside on the back patio and the night was perfect.
The next week I spent at home in the Quad Cities, where I went to eat at the usual places (Shanghai, La Flama) and saw a few movies. My mom and I also went to the Quad City Botanical Center. I got some great photos of the flowers and plentiful (and ginormous) bumblebees. I did the Bix at 6 and pushed myself too hard (again) but got to take a day off from activity before going to the John Deere Classic for the last two days of the tournament. Mom and I walked the course, following my Dad’s group (he’s a scorekeeper) around.
On Tuesday Mom drove me back to Chicago and I had dinner at Irazu with Lindsay and Scott, whom I hadn’t seen in years. After that I met Cecile at City North and we saw the midnight screening of Harry Potter. The next day I flew out – I good-length-ed and well-balanced vacation!
my parents usually have turkey bacon for sunday breakfast but a few weeks ago my mom fried up some real bacon she had leftover, prompting dad to say yesterday, out of the blue:
there are probably things we should carry regular bacon in the house for. …like, everything.
went kayaking today and my shoulder is going to be super sore in the morning. i already am having problems raising my arm in front of me. totally worth it though :)
the gategourmet trucks carry these big yellow plastic disks to cover the engine intake so the workers don’t get sucked in while they’re servicing the planes. the disk is secured to the side of the truck with orange webbing. looks like a giant waffle. i am SO HUNGRY.
I drove up to Oakland on Friday and got there by the afternoon. After lazing about for awhile, Eric and I went to Whole Foods and got stuff to make dinner. Deluxe burgers, watermelon beer, a salad that we forgot about but ate a few days later.
Saturday morning we got up early and drove to San Rafael, home of the Marin County Civic Center. The Marin Center was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and was used as a shooting location for the movie ‘Gattaca’. It’s a pretty cool place, and there was an art fair going on by the lake too, but the admission was sort of outrageous so we didn’t go in. After San Rafael we drove to Sausalito and walked around the little downtown area. We got fish and chips and vegetarian chili fries from the fish and chips restaurant attached to Lappert’s and ate by the water. Lunch was good, and it was clear enough to see San Francisco and the Bay Bridge.
Sausalito is nice and all, but even better is…The Bay Model! It is a two-football-field sized scale model of the San Francisco Bay. And it is AMAZING!! It’s huge and educational and was used in an episode of ‘Mythbusters’ to test an Alcatraz escape story. I highly recommend The Bay Model.
A quick trip over the Golden Gate and we headed over to Dolores Park to wait for this bicycle music festival to arrive. We got ice cream at Bi-Rite then walked across the street to the park. The park was packed and made for good people watching, but I fell asleep for about half an hour in the sun. When I woke up the band still hadn’t showed, so Eric and I decided to walk around a bit.
We walked up to the top of Kite Hill which is probably the windiest place on earth, then walked back to the park in time to catch some people setting up a makeshift slip ‘n slide. They had a giant roll of plastic sheeting and a few gallon jugs of water/KY/whatever that they were throwing all over the plastic and people were standing around in speedos and bikinis. One guy went down it – got about 1/5 of the way and then hit a hidden bump in the ground with his chest. The slip ‘n sliders dispersed soon thereafter.
We drove back to the East Bay on the lookout for a GameCube controller for a new game Eric got in the mail. The GameStop was in Temescal and I couldn’t help but notice Bakesale Betty was right there…so we got fried chicken sandwiches for dinner. SO GOOD! And huge. I can’t believe I finished it!
Sunday morning we got up really early so we could go to the Exploratorium before it opened and secure slots for the Tactile Dome. The Tactile Dome is this…dome…where it’s completely dark and you feel your way around. I’ve been trying to get into this place for, what? Four years? So by god, it was going to happen this time. We got to the Exploratorium an hour before it opened and had plenty of time to wander around the Palace of Fine Arts and call our dads to wish them a Happy Fathers’ Day.
The Exploratorium was totally cool! Everything is hands-on and education and fun. We got to go through the Tactile Dome as many times as we wanted and it was super cool and disorienting and great. I think we were at the Exploratorium for at least three hours. Afterwards we went to The Ramp for lunch, which has become infamous due to these unbelievably douchey Palm Pre commercials that mention it.
That night, Emma got back from her parents’ and we went to dinner with her, Dan, Mike and Tiffany. We went to a new place near Eric and Emma’s called The Grand Tavern, which had gotten great reviews on Yelp, so it passed muster for me. It was a fantastic place and everyone left full and happy and maybe a little drunk. We went back to Eric and Emma’s and played Boom Blox until everyone was ready to pass out.
Another great weekend in NorCal!