Many travels – Saint Louis

Many thanks to Kate for both hosting me and for taking all the awesome pictures.  Tim gets thanks for hosting too, and Tony gets thanks for driving me to the airport, and Cat gets thanks for just being awesome.

The *new* *improved* attraction of Saint Louis is the City Garden downtown.  Not only does this place have tons of awesome sculptures like the dancy chimes, the rabbits, and the giant-legged starhorse, but it was also chock full of fountains.  Prime fountaining location.  And they actually want you to play in them!









Bunny again!

Bunny again!

Giant-legged starhorse

Giant-legged starhorse

We also ran off to IL for a gathering with a bunch of Tim’s friends, which was lovely.  There was a nice fire, a delicious hammock, plenty of great people and good conversation, some learning about companion plants, a shrimp boil, and tons of other awesome food to play with.  I did get bitten by mosquitoes quite a bit, and the tent was a bit rough on my ancient bones, but otherwise, a splendid time.  I especially enjoyed playing with my food.


Finally, on Sunday I was part of the crowd watching True Blood at Cat and Tony’s place.  I had prepared for this, my first-ever viewing, by reading the wikipedia articles and all the online synopses I could find, and filling in my gaps with Kate’s extensive knowledge of the show.  I felt as if I’d seen the whole show from the beginning.  Alas, I had not, a deficiency which Ivy in Portland has decided she will soon correct.  And then I have to read the books.  In my copious spare time.

This concludes my travel section for the summer.  As of now, I am in Portland, settling in, mentally preparing for law school, and generally making a nuisance of myself.  Hooray!

Many Travels – Chicago Part 1

There are people who intersect your life not without impact, but without disruption.  A part of it has to do with knowing someone well.  Time passes, and regular communication may lapse, but still there is a strong connection.  Another part of it has to do with the pattern of a contrasting life.  Knowing someone parallels you in certain ideas, in humor or behavior, or in any number of other small kernels allows for you to walk in step with certain people more easily.  Jo is one of those people for me, so of course I went to Chicago to see her while she was in this country.  And it was good.  It was as if I’d spent no time away from my Jo-Jo.  It also allowed me to relax and for awhile not stress about all the life changes I have to worry about from moving cross-country.

The first day I was late to pick her up at the airport because I failed to correctly estimate how long it would take me to get out there on public transportation.  Point one against me.  Then we went into the city and just sat down to coffee and tea before we were supposed to meet some of my friends, Dave and Allie, for dinner.  Of course, then I totally messed up where we were supposed to meet them, and made them walk twenty minutes out of their way to find us.  Point two.  Still we had a lovely dinner at a reasonably authentic Mexican place, and Jo had a beer.  it was the first time I’d seen her drink alchohol in my life, since she’d taken a break from it while we were working together in China.  So here’s the shocking proof:



Then we headed out to Oak Park, to meet with Tina, who was our host and hotelier for the next few days.  Yay Tina!

The next day we went to Buzz Cafe, which is a breakfast place just around the corner from Tina’s.  Jo had never eaten pancakes before.  Evidently the crazy little island (GB) doesn’t have real ones – they just have crepes or dense Scottish-type things.  So she was all about the diner experience – we wanted to get her an asthmatic, cranky waitress named Dolores.  Alas, our waitress was perky and totally not embittered.  Still, she did get some delicious fluffy pancakes.  And then we were on to the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Robie House.

Tina had been to the Museum before, and I had as well back in the days of my youth, but she had not seen the coal mine.  Jo thought it would be fun as well – I guess that coal mines are a rarity now in the UK, like pancakes.  I did remember the giant bug from the first part of the exhibit, but I did not remember the other extensive part of this exhibit, which is waiting in line forever.  Let me share:



And it just gets better from here…


We decided we deserved, nay, needed ice cream afterwards.


We ended the day with a visit to the Robie house, a visit to the Trader Joe’s, and a nice evening of wine, bread, cheese, salad, and hanging out on the back porch overlooking Tina’s garden.

The next morning we were on our way when I discovered this sign.  I had to imitate:


(The sign says “Danger – Keep Off Tracks.  High Voltage”  The figure does…what I am doing.)

The trip culminated with a morning at Millenium Park doing samba (yay free samba every Saturday), a visit to the Chinese sculptures, and lots of pictures with the reflective bean and the spitting fountain.  I’ll leave you with a few.




Unattributable cost.

I’m very close to my family.  Sometimes I like to say that we are psychically linked.  My mom calls me out of the blue to check up on me and see how I’m doing.  If I’m having a great day but feel sad and don’t know why, I may check to see if my dad is sick.  My knee hurts – I ask my sister Shelly if her knee (which she’s had surgery on) is bothering her, in case I’m picking up sympathetically on her pain instead of realizing my own.

It’s the same thing with economics.  Certain variables in the system of price and supply and why companies work cannot be calculated.  There’s the idea of customer service and customer loyalty.  There’s an idea of ‘giving back to the community’ by some businesses that results only in costs for them, and may or may not give them increased sales.  There’s benefits from a thriving main street area, whether or not an individual living in a community visits one particular storefront.  We subconsciously react to variables we cannot compute in our everyday purchases, as well as our interpersonal interactions.

A new study has shown that such reactions may come from a further remove than you might expect.  At up to three degrees of separation, there is a notable impact between people on happiness.  That means a friend of your friend’s friend could make you statistically more likely to be happy strictly through their own mood.

It’s something of a scary thought – somehow, we’re all picking up on each other’s vibes from a bit of a distance.  Your friend is glum, which makes you a bit unhappy, of course, since you want only the best for them.  Another friend reads that from you, and is slightly off because of it, and the sadness ripples outwards, decreasing with each successive link in the friend chain.  We can’t know exactly where these feelings come from, but we know they are real and meaningful things.

But at the same time, there remains a choice.  You can be happy, or unhappy.  You can spread joy, or leak regret.  So far (by 9% versus 7% in overall impact on others), it seems happiness is winning.

The ultimate freaky.

Ok, my last post was basically about me being a freak.  But there are people out there who are more freaky than me.  Most of the ones I’ve found I love and have total respect for.  Most of them are incredibly intelligent, kind, and ballsy (just like me).  I have recently found that a few of them also have an odd relationship to Skittles.

It all started when I watched this new spot for skittles:

While this ad does slightly creep me out, it’s creepy in a good way.  Feet don’t generally disturb me.  Skittles on feet don’t even disturb me.  Eating Skittles off someone’s feet – well, I guess I’d just have to be really, really good friends with someone to do that.  I mean, really close, like licking-someone-else’s-foot close.  And that’s close.  Maybe I’m just a lickee, not a licker.  Or maybe I’d just really really like Skittles.

However, while watching this ad at work, Cathy came over and had her own comments about Skittles.  I love Cathy, she’s awesome.  She’s also one of those who really likes Skittles on occasion.  The occasion she specifically chose to mention today at my desk was as follows: “I like it when I’m in the mood for a tart tongue bleeding.”  Now, I’m all for that super-tart almost unbearable taste myself on occasion, but the whole tongue bleeding thing threw me.  I must’ve looked at her funny, because she tried to explain that the skittles and sweet tarts cut her tongue when she ate them.  And I can get that.  Sometimes candy is sharp.  I’m just not one to go around cutting my tongue just for that tart taste.  In fact, i find that a little disturbing too.  But I still give her major props 1) for being just as awesome as that Skittles ad creator and 2) for being unafraid to share her intense Skittles love with me, her pal.

My life could certainly be worse.  I could just be stalked by Skittles-hungry denizens of the city, all of them hungry for my feet.