2010 Chicago, Day 3

My driving in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston had convinced me that the parking space was a mirage concocted by parking garages to break down the will and force one to cave to their $16 a day demands.  Chicago swept away this belief as Kyle and I were perpetually blessed with decent parking spots.  I’m fine with that.

Rather than narrate the pictures of the Shedd Aquarium, I’ve added descriptions to the Flickr album, dive in for comments.

[flickr album=72157623088511393 num=34 size=Thumbnail]

The aquarium displays were itself was much better than I expected.  I rarely don’t see everything in an animal place and after six hours I’d still not hit Rivers of the World.  The opening presentation in the steam-punk/Victorian tank which featured a feeding was acceptable despite the usage of mood lighting to dramatize the trials of Nickel the turtle and her date with a boat that destroyed her buoyancy control.  On reflection the turtle seemed to subject to exploitation as fixing the buoyancy issue causing her hind portions to shoot skyward seemed easy.  Sea turtles modify their breathing to control their density and weighting the turtle seems like an easy fix as the tank has a very small pressure gradient.

The lobster tank was empty and the occupant was described as “off exhibit”.  I picture a donor to the Shedd pointing at it and asking “how much for that one?” My guess is that it was probably a $10-25k lobster that also came with a plaque that said “Benefactor”.

The mid-afternoon “entertainment” was Fantasea (get it?) which was a stunning example of why someone should invent eye bleach.  The feature included five sea animals of which one was a red-tail hawk.  Kyle described the show as what happens when Liberal Arts programs are too well funded.  I considered it a case of some donor stipulating that facts and information be banned from “oceanarium” or whatever term was used for the show tank.  The show progressed slowly involving a small read-headed girl using a medallion from beyond the stars to discover the wonders of imagination from a horde of Lady Gaga backup singers.  I took no pictures, had you been there, you’d consider that a courtesy.

The coup de grace was the penguin show.  Three penguins were brought out on some sort of penguin cart from whence they hopped and proceeded to not move a f#ing inch.  After a few minutes, a presenter picked up and relocated a penguin which then again didn’t move.  I hoped one would produce an “Animal Performers local #397” strike sign but none appeared.  It was spectacular.  Later, a man in a bird costume was brought in on wires and landed as a hawk was walked across the presentation area.  The show ended and we were quickly shuffled out.  I can think of few experiences that could more appropriately be called stupefying.  My rational faculties were devastated and had I been offered a timeshare or snuggie, I would have been quite the mark.

We left in a daze and recovered over Chicago-style pizza.  Based on my Chicago-style vienna beef and Chicago-style pizza I’ve deduced that Chicago-style means “throw a chunky tossed salad on the foodstuff”.  The pizza was presentable but not as spectacular as I anticipated but I thank Peter for the meal.  The after dinner conversation involved heated discussion over the maximum power of capillary action in trees and the effects of the human body being exposed to the vacuum of space.  I eventually won the point that it could cause bruising and learned that depending on the situation, eye proptosis (your eyeball popping out).

I also got to see Pants in his native element:


I had trouble getting to sleep as the steampipes sounded like someone was tap-dancing on them with a skill level between Tapdancing Jesus and an end-of-career Gregory Hines.  On to day four.