Have you read Devil in the White City? I devoured Erik Lawson's true tale of a serial killer amidst the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair shortly after it came out, in 2002. At that point I'd lived in Chicago for almost 8 years, half of which I'd spent at the University of Chicago.
Lawson's book put the midway in Midway Plaisance, a wide strip of park and roadways that separated the main campus from a few of its northernmost buildings--including those where I took fine art classes and another where I made $8 an hour filing papers for a graduate department.
The 1893 Chicago World's Fair was a spectacle quite unlike anything we can imagine seeing today. Bigger than SXSW, the Chicago Auto Show and CES rolled into one, the World's Fair attracted an astonishing 27 million admissions, including 700,000 on a single day. Two hundred buildings were erected for the fair and an enormous Ferris wheel could be seen from miles around. It was a good 100 feet taller than the one at Navy Pier today!
But more important than its sheer size was the diversity of the exhibits. There were taxidermied animals from around the world, just-discovered fossils, new inventions, advances in industry--and most shocking to those of us today--entire villages reconstructed and populated with native peoples from around the globe.
What I didn't know until recently is that the Field Museum was founded to commemorate the Fair and that museum's original collections consisted of items originally displayed there. Many of those curiosities are now out of the vaults and on exhibit. I took Zoe with me to check it out and test drive the museum's new app.
Being able to see items that once enthralled the masses at the Fair is a real treat. Zoe and I particularly liked the stuffed sea lion and model giant squid (look up; it's hanging from the ceiling), the Peruvian mummy (you can look inside it via interactive CT scan) and the photos of the "primitive" villages brought to the fair for Westerners to gawk at. Impressively, an Inuit group tired of being on display in their fur coats in the Chicago heat and walked off exhibit only to set up their own, more profitable independent showcase right outside the Fair grounds.
The brand new Field Museum app is less impressive. I asked the staff taking tickets for the Fair exhibit if there was anything I need to know or do to make the 1893 World Fair tour work correctly within the app and they just said "no, just click on it" and waved us in. Zoe, fan of all electronics, commandeered my phone and used the app as kind of scavenger hunt list.
"Look Mom, here's the Accounting Ledger! What's an Accounting Ledger?"
The app gave a few additional details about select items within the exhibit, but if there were any videos or 360 views embedded within it, I couldn't get them to work. And bewilderingly enough, more than half of the items on the tour weren't actually in the 1893 World's Fair exhibit. (They may have been originally part of the World's Fair, but weren't unearthed from the vaults, but even that wasn't made clear.)
As wonderful as the World's Fair special exhibit is, it ended far too soon. So we exited through the gift shop and decided to look explore the rest of the museum. Periodically we'd see an exhibit with a QR code and we'd use the built-in scanner within the app. No dice. Even though the QR codes were green and looked for all intents like they'd work with the app, we kept getting error messages.
Finally I scanned the QR codes with a generic scanner. That worked better, launching a cluttered but information-packed mobile website with additional content and videos. Still, it was surprising that the two functions couldn't be better linked.
Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World's Fair is on display now at the Field Museum and will remain open through September 7, 2014. It is a ticketed exhibit, with a cost over and above regular admission. I recommend going right when the museum opens, at 9am, and parking nearby in the Soldier Field parking lot. Public transit is also an option as buses serve the museum campus. Use Google Maps for exact transit instructions.
I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, however all content and opinions expressed here are my own.
Monday, December 02, 2013
Sunday, December 01, 2013
|They say the blessings together so beautifully|
I went back to Jesse Stone and picked a new top for the master bath vanity. We lit candles for the first night of Chanukah and exchanged gifts. Josh surprised me with a pair of Miz Mooz boots that I'd been coveting (and savvily pinned to Pinterest).
|It's it pretty?|
I did a little Black Friday shopping (mostly online, but also a brief foray into Target, where the girls spent some of their savings on Our Generation doll accessories for Ada's Chanukah doll from my mom). Josh and I saw Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Josh took the girls to see Frozen. We attended Friday night Chanukah/Shabbat services and I packed a lot of boxes, finishing Zoe's room, Ada's room, the garage, the playroom and much of the kitchen. We drove into the city to pick up even more boxes from a friend who'd just moved and stopped at the Brown Sack for lunch because hey, we were within 4 miles of it, and that's close enough to make their chocolate-peanut butter milkshake worth my while. I also had my first ever kimchi and cheddar grilled cheese sandwich.
Anyway, it was good I could pack so much into the Wednesday-Saturday morning period, because by yesterday afternoon I was seriously flagging and putting a hit on the Kleenex supply. Yes, I have a cold -- the worst cold I've endured since my kids were snot-nosed preschool germ factories. I spent today reading, drinking tea, downing DayQuils and packing (because no matter how much I pack, there's still so much more to do).
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Monday, November 04, 2013
|Your school picture|
You see, musical instrument lessons are offered to fourth graders, and you've been struggling with the trumpet. Your elementary school music teacher suggested the euphonium might be easier for you. Of course, the euphonium rents for fully double what the trumpet costs, and given that you've yet to meet your weekly practice time goals, I said I'd only upgrade you if you put some skin in the game. I asked for one week of 40-minute per day practice, 20 minutes on each instrument. And you freaked out.
You're an amazing kid, Zoe. You're an excellent student--an avid reader who also loves math. You continue to excel at gymnastics, adore Hebrew school and have a wide circle of friends. Yesterday, at your birthday party at Xtreme Trampolines, you took the time to introduce all of your invitees to each other and made sure no one felt left out. You're even nice to your sister
Ten or fifteen minutes have gone by, and you've calmed yourself down and crawled into bed. You asked me to come up and read to you, and I explained that after how you've behaved toward me, that wasn't going to happen. Then you asked, nicely, if we could do the interview and I agreed.
What is the best thing about being 9? I don't know.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Author that illustrates her own books.
Do you want to be one thing or many things? Double, or maybe triple--author, librarian, teacher.
What is your favorite toy? Legos and my imagination. And books.
What is your favorite book? The Harry Potter series and Percy Jackson series.
What is your favorite TV show? Phineas & Ferb.
What is your favorite song? I don't have one.
What is your favorite movie? I'll have to think about that. Beetlejuice.
What is your favorite restaurant? Salerno's, Pompeii and any kind of barbecue restaurants.
What is your favorite cereal? Don't have one.
What do you love about Mommy? She buys me stuff. And is nice.
What does Mommy like to do? Roller skate.
What do you love about Daddy? Really nice.
What does Daddy like to do? Go on the computer.
What do you love about your sister? Nothing.
If you could change your name, what would you choose? Elizabeth.
Where would you like to go on vacation this year? Mexico.
What will your house be like when you grow up? Cozy little house.
How many children will you have? What will you name them? I will have two to three children. If two, they will be named Georgia and Ivy. If I have three, I will name them Lizzie, Jake and Samantha.
Last year's interview
Interview with 6-year-old Zoe
Interview with 4-year-old Zoe
Friday, October 25, 2013
Friday, October 18, 2013
Most people at this point have heard of 23 and Me, the personal genetics company that--for $99--maps your DNA and reports back where your ancestors came from and what genetic diseases you may be a carrier for.
I've long been tempted to have my "genes done," so when our rabbi invited our synagogue to a genetics seminar (taught by a geneticist from among the congregation) and dangled a free membership to 23 and Me, I jumped at the opportunity (and not just because the session overlapped with Zoe's Hebrew school class and got up out of the house for yet another showing). Why free? Apparently the founder of 23 and Me spoke at the Conference of Reform Rabbis and offered all of them 100 free memberships to bring back to their communities.
Why rabbis? Jews belong to a particularly small gene pool and are thus much more likely to be carriers for genetic diseases like breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer and heart-breaking childhood conditions like Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis. Although interestingly enough, Jews do so much pre-pregnancy genetic counseling and prenatal testing that our Tay-Sachs incidence numbers are now lower than that of the general population. In fact, our gene pool is so small that pretty much all Jewish women are descendants of four female individuals.
"Are those four women Sarah, Rebecca, Leah...?" a woman in the audience asked. "No," answered the rabbi, who went on to explain that while most Jewish men can trace their patrilineal lines back to Africa, those Jewish ancestors likely "left Africa and found nice non-Jewish wives in Europe."
As a product of intermarriage myself (Jewish mother and 5th generation Nebraskan dad), I can't wait to get the results of my 23 and Me test. I'm hoping that my diverse DNA won't show a lot of scary disease markers, but I'd rather be aware and prepared than not.
Monday, October 14, 2013
|Long table, amazing view|
|Planner extraordinaire in ivory|
Incidentally, the farm is owned by the same family that owns the 21c hotels and Proof (we had drinks there the first night and Sunday brunch on our final day), among other restaurants and bars. They raise bison, rare breeds of super-fatty pigs (including one that isn't cloven), flowers, orchard fruits and lots of hay for their animals. Their farm—like the museum hotel—has oversized sculptures and quirky art installations around every bend.