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I wish I could see everything through the eyes of a tourist

My previous post was a fine example for #FirstWorldProblem.

The kids and I survived. Of course. More than survived, we had a grand old time taking it easy playing really layback tourists in Chicago. The kids apparently inherited my love for hotels: we spent one morning inside the hotel watching the History Channel.

My view now by the pool on the 40th floor… #nofilter #sky #clouds #Chicago #hotels

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View from the rooftop. #Chicago #lake #sky #skyline

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Night swim. #swimmingpool #swimming

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As I lay on the lounge chair watching the kids frolicking in the pool on the top of the hotel under the moon and surrounded by city lights, I had to admit, with embarrassment, that I could no longer complain.

 

I am going to be staying at yet another hotel tonight. BlogHer 2013 is here in Chicago. I hope to see some of you in 3D. Be warned: I am hashtag awkward.

 

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Last week I mused about driving by myself with the kids to Mount Rushmore over spring break. 950 glorious miles. I am sorry if I let some of your down. That was just crazy talk. I was under duress: Spring break week happened to be performance review week at work. The boys seemed to be fine not going anywhere however. They have the entire Minecraft universe to roam about where they can build fanciful things, and probably more importantly, then blow them up. I wanted to make a special effort to do some non-Minecraft related activities because

1. Last Friday, at the beginning of Spring Break, 9-year-old Mr. Monk suffered first degree burns when I bumped into him and he spilled hot tea all over his upper chest. OUCH. He’s been a trooper even though he questions my skills as a Florence Nightingale every time I change the dressing. (I should also admit that when the disaster happened, I immediately Googled in order to find out what to do since I had NO clue whatsoever. Shouldn’t First Aid training be mandatory for people about to become parents?!)

2. On our way to see the doctor (for a followup visit) I actually told Mr. Monk, “I cannot deal with stupid people. Please don’t be stupid.”

3. After seeing all the creative, amazing plots inside Minecraft, I told Number One Son, “I am so embarrassed by your lackadaisical effort. You spend all your time on this, and you only have this pyramid to show for?”

 

Long story short: We went to Museum of Science and Industry, and a grand time was had by all. I realized one thing: Museum visits become less horrifying once all your children are out of the stroller and have attention span longer than that of a fly.

And really, what kind of monster can resist baby chicks? It’s a shame though: the process of a baby chick pecking its way out of the shell can take up to 10 hours. We did not witness any birthing.

 

 

 

 

I was very excited to be able to revisit the Twinkie experiment right before closing time. I wrote about this insane plan of MSI back in October 2009: they decided to test whether Twinkie indeed could survive a nuclear Armageddon by leaving a Twinkie out in a display case. I am happy (or actually, horrified) to report that the Twinkie is alive and well, and has not aged a bit.

 

Here is a picture of the good ol’ Swiss Jolly Ball at MSI. I can stand and watch this thing over and over again. It is a giant pinball machine, essentially. The tour of the ball takes more than 5 minutes to complete. I took a 2-minute video of it because it is awesome and I need more people to know something this fascinating exists near the exit of MSI. Yup. Most people probably don’t even notice it as they rush towards the exit. It bothers me.

Swiss Jolly Ball at MSI. One of the only two in the world. Click on the picture for the 2-minute video if you want to see it in action

 

Maybe this is exactly how the natural world works: repetitive, fascinating motions. There are many things that I could stand and watch at length. Just watching and being mesmerized. The giant Newton’s Cradle for one. And also something called Avalanche Disk. (The video below is only 30 seconds)

You’ve got to admit, it’s pretty darn cool. No medicinal aid required to get into a trance.

 

I thought, “Hey, instead of hitting play over and over again, I should just copy and paste the clip to extend it! Multiple times!” Soon, a song popped into my head. The perfect song to accompany my insanity. Oh, sorry, L’insanity. I know this post is now tl;dr. Somebody stop me! I am leaving this 5+ minute video on here because Mr. Blue Sky told me to. I am staring at this video and listening to this song until spring break is over.

Om.

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Splendid

February 7, 2012

in through the looking glass

Hundreds of Taiwanese release sky lanterns on Saturday, January 28, 2012, in New Taipei City, Taiwan. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Today is the Lantern Festival. I completely forgot about it. It was only when I noticed the headline on The Atlantic, “Chinese Lantern Festival 2012” that I remembered.

Today marks the end of the Chinese New Year.

Looking through the beautiful photos, I wish I could say, “Yup. These remind me of home.”  Of my childhood.

I wish I could say, yup, I am of that beautiful custom and of that exotic tradition.

The truth is?  I grew up in a concrete jungle much like every other cosmopolitan city around the world. Globalization is an overwhelming equalizing force indeed.  The pictures look much better than what I remembered of Lantern Festival back home. Mine for many years were cheap plastic lanterns, with light bulbs inside. Candles were simply too dangerous.

As I am writing this post, I now am remembering a special lantern that looked like a big pull toy dog made of white paper that looked like real furs. I remember now how proud I was of my special lantern. I could not wait for the day to arrive when I could go into the street, joining the children walking around with lit lanterns. (I guess it was fun way back when…) I am crying now because I also remember that my special lantern caught on fire and was burnt down not long after I joined the crowd in an impromptu parade.

I was inconsolable for days afterwards.

Wow. That flashback is rather traumatic…

[Regroup via visiting Twitter and talking to random strangers… ]

[Ok. I am back!]

The funny thing is, this picture showing sky lanterns was indeed taken in Taipei. However, releasing sky lanterns is a tradition fabricated (or perhaps “invented” would be a better, at least kinder, word?)  Taipei, like all cosmopolitan cities, are feeling the erosion of traditions. People are feeling the longing for a splendid past that frankly most of us had never seen. And so we decided to start making our own, and believing in the histories of it.

Self-invention. Us urbanites are experts.

Splendid.

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