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Should you bring a baseball bat to the voting booth?

I almost brought my bat with me to vote

Every year my company, Tribune Media Services, used to have award ceremonies. One of the awards was Rookie of the Year with the trophy/plaque thing being an actual Louisville Slugger baseball bat customized with the recipient's name and his/her first year at the company.

I won the award in 2000. Today I was going to bring my Rookie of the Year bat into work. But then I realized I was going to my polling place to vote. I thought it would be strange to bring a baseball bat into the voting booth.

But my all-American friend Jed pointed out, "it seems appropriate. Baseball and voting are two of the most American things." Good point! And I could have driven a pickup truck to the polling place too--instead of walking over. Pickup trucks are so much more American than walking. ;-)

The year I won the baseball bat, the awards were at Harry Caray's. The walls in this restaurant are covered in baseball memorabilia. Upong leaving with a baseball bat in my hands, it felt like I was stealing something off the wall. However, the ride home on the subway felt very safe. Actually, not really, because carrying a baseball bat on the subway makes you feel like an instigator.

My cousin Peter Kreten points out, "If I saw someone walking down the street with a bat, I would get nervous." Especially when the person with the bat has a ski mask and scarf on--as I did today.

Now I wish I brought the baseball bat with me to the polling place. Just for the experience.

0 archived comments | | Tuesday, February 24, 2015
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How to say "honeymoon" in 65 languages

Honeymoon is such an interesting word. The Japanese have a fun way of translating the word (as covered on my wedding blog). The French literally translates it as "moon of honey," as seen on Etymonline.com:
1540s, hony moone, but probably much older, "indefinite period of tenderness and pleasure experienced by a newly wed couple," from honey (n.) in reference to the new marriage's sweetness, and moon (n.) in reference to how long it would probably last, or from the changing aspect of the moon: no sooner full than it begins to wane.

French has cognate lune de miel, but German version is flitterwochen (plural), from flitter "tinsel" + wochen "week." In figurative use from 1570s.

Specific sense of "post-wedding holiday" attested from c.1800; as a verb in this sense from 1821.
Given German's interesting translation of the word, how do other languages translate honeymoon? Here are 65 translations of the word honeymoon:

Infographic listing 65 translations of “honeymoon”

In text:
* Afrikaans: honeymoon
* Albanian: muaj mjalti
* Azerbaijani: bal ayı
* Basque: eztei
* Belarusian: мядовы месяц
* Bosnian: medeni mjesec
* Bulgarian: меден месец
* Catalan: lluna de mel
* Cebuano: honeymoon
* Chichewa: kokasangalala
* Croatian: medeni mjesec
* Czech: líbánky
* Danish: bryllupsrejse
* Dutch: huwelijksreis
* English: honeymoon
* Esperanto: mielmonato
* Estonian: mesinädalad
* Filipino: pulutgata
* Finnish: häämatka
* French: lune de miel
* Galician: lúa de mel
* German: Flitterwochen
* Greek: μήνας του μέλιτος
* Haitian Creole: myèl
* Hausa: gudun amarci
* Hmong: honeymoon
* Hungarian: mézeshetek
* Icelandic: Brúðkaupsferð
* Igbo: honiimuunu
* Indonesian: bulan madu
* Irish: mhí na meala
* Italian: luna di miele
* Javanese: bulan madu
* Kazakh: бал айы
* Lao: honeymoon
* Latin: honeymoon
* Latvian: medus mēnesis
* Lithuanian: medaus mėnuo
* Macedonian: меден месец
* Malagasy: honeymoon
* Malay: bulan madu
* Maltese: honeymoon
* Maori: taime
* Mongolian: бал сар
* Norwegian: bryllupsreise
* Polish: miesiąc miodowy
* Portuguese: lua de mel
* Romanian: lună de miere
* Russian: медовый месяц
* Serbian: медени месец
* Slovak: medové týždne
* Slovenian: medenih tednih
* Somali: toddobobax
* Spanish: luna de miel
* Sundanese: peuting mimiti
* Swahili: honeymoon
* Swedish: smekmånad
* Tajik: баланкиной
* Turkish: balayı
* Ukrainian: медовий місяць
* Uzbek: asal oyi
* Vietnamese: tun trăng mt
* Welsh: mis mêl
* Yoruba: ijfaaji tktaya ni ibr igbeyawo
* Zulu: kukankosikazi

My favorite translations have to be: Chichewa's kokasangalala, which means "to enjoy" and Haitian Creole's myèl, means "bee." Toddobobax in Somali just sounds fun to say.

Do you have a favorite translation of the word honeymoon?

0 archived comments | | Monday, February 02, 2015
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Croquet taught me the lyrics to MC Hammer's U Can't Touch This

Twitter account of @HammerTimeCroqu

The croquet twitter account @HammerTimeCroqu started following me today on Twitter. That is, they are following my croquet-dedicated Twitter account, @mightymauler.

The Twitter account for the Croquet Superhero

Yes, I have a Twitter account dedicated to croquet. Not just croquet, but my superhero alter-ego persona on the croquet courts, the Mighty Mauler. My Twitter account bio calls me "the croquet superhero®." This croquet superhero checks out @HammerTimeCroqu and also follow their Facebook page.

Hammertime Croquet's Facebook page

Now what do you write on the Facebook page for Hammer Time Croquet? Why lyrics from MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" of course. A Google search for "Hammertime lyrics" results in the AZ Lyrics website with the lyrics for "U Can't Touch This.

The lyrics "Break it down! Stop, Hammer time! It's "Hammer, go Hammer, MC Hammer, yo Hammer" And the rest can go and play" get copied and pasted onto the HammerTime Facebook Page.

Break it down, Hammer

Amused by my 90s flashback, I decide to listen to U Can't Touch This on Spotify. Since the lyrics are up in my browser, I sing along.

Part of the lyrics absolutely mystified me. I've probably heard "U Can't Touch This" a thousand times. I always thought he was saying, "Faster than a white boy take to learn" but it's actually "pass them a wipe or tape to learn"

What the freak is a "wipe"? Also, doesn't it make more sense for it to say "faster than a white boy take to learn?" Seriously, I've been singing those lyrics since 1990.

My lyrics:
You talking about a hammer, you talking about a show
that's hot and tight,
something something. Faster than a white boy take
to learn
something something something to burn
The charts. Legit.
If you work hard or you might as well quit.
MC Hammer's lyrics:
You talking about the Hammer you talking about a show
That's hype, and tight
Singers are sweating so pass them a wipe or a tape,
to learn
What's it gonna take in the 90's to burn
The charts? Legit
Either work hard or you might as well quit.
It took the Australian "Hammer Time" Facebook page for me to finally learn the true lyrics with MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" -- 25 years later. Truly this white boy needs to learn.

0 archived comments | | Tuesday, January 20, 2015
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How to find a resident of the planet Mercury

I am looking for a resident that lives on the planet Mercury. How do I search for this?

Do I do a search on Twitter for "Mercury alien"? or perhaps "Mercury resident"? However on Twitter, you cannot search the location field on a person's bio. Facebook didn't give me the results for anyone living on Mercury at all. I really need to find a resident that lives on the planet Mercury. I have some questions about living on this planet.

This question is posted on Facebook, Yahoo Answers, ask.com, Google Plus, and Twitter.

I was curious if the people of Mercury use a different number base than us. We have the base-10, I wonder what they use. What got me thinking about this is that I'm considered 145 Mercury years old, even though I am 45 Earth years. Certainly the older Mercury age is due to the planet spinning around the sun faster, but we are assuming the people of Mercury use a base-10 system for their numbers. We can't assume that until I get a chance to ask resident of Mercury.

Where can I find a Mercurian? Some funny responses thus far:

* Sorry mate, all communications are down while Mercury is in retrograde. (from Nicola Smith of Google Plus)
* No one lives on Mercury. It is a barren, airless, lifeless ball of iron and rock. There aren't even any robots on it, like there are on Mars and Venus (or the remains thereof, anyway, in the case of Venus). (from Logan R. Kearsley of Quora)

0 archived comments | | Monday, January 12, 2015
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How to photograph a window drawing on the bus or train

Snowman drawn on CTA train door

Time is short. People are watching you. Will you have the guts to draw something fun on a foggy window on the bus or train? These questions faced me this morning as with below zero degree temperatures in Chicago.

Commuters pack the train on their first day back to work after the Christmas holiday. All bundled up, I hobble over to the door where the window is completely fogged over. Even though my stop is coming up next in a matter of seconds, I draw out a fun snowman on the door. The train must had been going slow, because I was even able to take about ten photos of the snow man. My favorite photo of the ten is shown above.

Here are seven tips for drawing cartoons on the window on a bus or train.

The woman in this photo liked my Frankenstein so she started drawing her own, but then she killed it, so I put a mummy on her graveyard.

1) Just do it

People might be afraid to draw on a foggy window in public for the fear of what people will think. But you know what? Either people won't care. Or they might even say something nice. Only one time did I have a bus driver yell at me. Other than that, everyone loves to see a drawing on a bus window. In fact one time when I drew a Frankenstein on the window, this nice older woman drew a mummy!

Drawing on windows: Dog waving with two paws

2) Have something stock in mind

You can go freestyle on the window, that's completely cool. I prefer to have some stock characters that I know how to draw. I've got a dog, bird, and snowman.

The CTA bus window was foggy, so I drew a blackhawks logo on it

3) Look up something to draw on your phone

If there's a particular holiday coming up, do a Google image search on your phone to bring up some fun ideas. I've done that with a Frankenstein for Halloween. The Blackhawks logo during the NHL playoffs.

Variations of "Snowman on Window"

4) Take lots of photos

Just one photo won't yield a great image on a bus or train. The background behind your image is constantly changing. Often times the background may obscure your work of art. Jam on the shutter button on your camera/phone and pick out the best pic later. The middle one in the collage above is the one I ended up using, because I rather like how the woman's face in the ad is right over the snowman's shoulder.

Christmas trees drawn on window

5) Nighttime photography

If the night is hanging out during your artwork creation, then try to get some lights in the background. Break lights on a car can make Christmas trees glow red. Bright lights can give a shimmering glow to Count Dracula's buckteeth.

Drawing on windows: cat waving

6) Context

Getting close to your drawing, so only your drawing shows is fine. But also consider taking a photo of the entire environment. You are on a bus! Make sure people see that in your photo. Get some of the window frame. Or perhaps some of the people on the bus. You can make your cat drawing wave to people nearby.

instagram drawingonwindow

7) Post your photo online

Not only is it great for people to see your creation in public, it's really rad for more people to see your work online. If you post to flickr, submit your photo to the "Drawings on Windows group. Or if posting to Instagram, use the #drawingonwindow hashtag.

Have some fun and draw on a foggy window! I look forward to seeing your photos!

0 archived comments | | Monday, January 05, 2015
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My favorite albums of 2014

A great reason to use the free service last.fm is that it tracks your music listening habits across many platforms like Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes. With this database of records the site then gives you insightful analysis to your listening habings. For instance, you can sort your music by most-played in the past 12 months.

Using, this data from last.fm, here's a look at the top albums I discovered (or re-discovered) in 2014. They include a range of genres: Mashup, 90s, pop dance, hip-hop jazz, rap, techno soundtrack, Muppets, German pop, and British hip-hop. I'm actually quite surprised by this range, because these ten albums are strictly ordered by how often I listened to them in 2014. I didn't specifically pick them to give a diverse range of music types, it just so happened to fall that way.

1. Bruneaux – Pure Magic
A mashup album tops my 2014 new albums. With 115 plays in 2014 it demolishes the 67 plays from the second place album. Although "Pure Magic" was released January 9, 2012 I didn't discover it until November 2013.

It's an obscure album, according to last.fm, this album has been listened to by only 1,003 people.

Although technically, this is not my most listened-to album of 2014. There are four other albums that had more listens than "Pure Magic.":
* Torpeedoh – Party People
* E-603 – Torn Up
* Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy
* Torpeedoh – Buckwild
But I had been listening to those albums already before 2014. This is a 2014 new album list, so "Pure Magic" gets the top album for 2014.

Favorite track of "Pure Magic": Get It Right

2. INXS – Welcome To Wherever You Are
Technically I listened to this INXS album when it was released in 1992. But since 2007, this album sat dormant on my playlists--until this year when my cousin Peter Kreten asked about my most influential college albums. This being one of them on that list (I have yet to post that influential college album list).

Favorite track: Not enough time

3. Havana Brown – When the Lights Go Out
Honestly, I didn't even know what this album is when it appeared on my top five list. I had to look it up. Early in 2014, the track "Big Banana" made it onto my "2014 discovered" playlist, helping this album get more plays throughout 2014. The snappy song with goofy lyrics made for a fun 2014. There's a couple other fun pop dance songs on this album, like "We run the night" and "You'll be mine."

Favorite track: Big Banana

4. Us3 – The Third Way (Hand On The Torch Vol II)
Loved this album in college, with the hit single "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)." Twenty years later, Us3 releases the second volume of "Hand on the Torch." A nice review on Exclaim.ca.

Favorite track: I want one of those

5. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Code Red
Another college album, while I would exclude it from my 2014 list, because I regularly listen to "Boom! Shake the Room," there is a song on this album that I discovered in 2014, "I wanna rock." This track is great, because it has that original Fresh Prince vibe when he played in the clubs.

Favorite track: I wanna rock

6. Joseph Trapanese – TRON: Uprising
The Tron Legacy soundtrack is one of my top albums of all time. This particular "Uprising" album is for the follow-up animated series, which is also one of my top five favorite animated series of all time.

Favorite track: Lightbike battle (Really any of them are good, so I picked the first one)

7. Christina Grimmie – Must Be Love
A single-track album makes it onto my list, because I really like this song. She does have an 11-track album from 2013, but it does not include this song.

Favorite track: Must be love

8. The Muppets – The Muppet Show: Music, Mayhem & More!
Does not need any explanation.

Favorite track: Muppet Show Theme

9. Lena – Stardust
German pop artist, Lena.

Favorite track: Bliss Bliss

10. Rizzle Kicks – Roaring 20s
British hip-hop.

Favorite track: Skip to the good bit

This blog post is inspired by my cousin Peter's 2014 top ten album list. What is your favorite album of 2014? Please let us know in the comments on this (or Peter's) blog post.

0 archived comments | | Tuesday, December 30, 2014
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Packaging for art is art

my day job .@artinstitutechi - this is what I do

Unique styrofoam constructions hand-crafted by artists to support the safe transit of art.
A delicate sculptural bust is transformed from a bronze head to a rectangular box. All the space around the head is extended out to conform to cube.

From head to cube. Would that make packaging art a cubist artwork? Haha. Once the artwork is safely transported and taken out of the box, what is left behind? A box with the negative space of the bronze head.

Every parent experiences this with removing toys from their plastic shells. Maybe the people who make the structures of toys packaging should get into making packaging for fine art.

0 archived comments | | Thursday, November 27, 2014
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4,715 artworks currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago

collection results

Two years ago the Art Institute of Chicago had 3,976 artworks on display. Now they have 4,715 on display. The Art Institute has a great website that shows their entire collection. You can even search for which artworks are on display or not. By simply going to the "advanced search" section and clicking the "on display" field, it will give you all the artworks currently being shown.

0 archived comments | | Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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Dr. Seuss and Matt Maldre

Next to my quote about understanding is this awesome quote by Dr. Seuss

Matt Maldre quote next to Dr. Suess quote

I'm very proud that this Dr. Seuss quote is considered "related" to mine.

0 archived comments | | Tuesday, October 14, 2014
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Five fictional accounts respond to house with indoor basketball court

How would you react to discovering that an indoor basketball court is inside a 9,500 square foot house in the heart of one of Chicago's most expensive neighborhoods?

Some of twitter's funniest fictional characters offer their perspective.

Mother Nature in Chicago is under orders to always give this house good weather.

Lawrence Avenue up north is a bit jealous.

The most famous croquet player in Chicago wants to alter the house.

Even the Star Wars characters got in on the fun. The Death Star Librarian has a good perspective.

Of course an Ewok would want it to be a tree house.

Can you imagine if Walgreens sold houses like this? Your wagcares receipt would have a $3 million price tag on it. That would make the $3000 wagcares sweepstakes pale in comparison.

How do you respond to this indoor basketball court inside a house?

0 archived comments | | Monday, October 13, 2014
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Which is more valuable: $3000 wagcares sweepstakes or colorful leaf?

Texture of tiny leaf found on Michigan Ave in Chicago

What if you found a masterpiece painting laying on a busy sidewalk? Certainly you would look at it. Maybe you might even pick it up, or photograph it. During autumn we have millions of such masterpieces laying on our sidewalks. Filled with bright colors and amazing compositions. And you can actually touch them.

They are called autumn leaves. Trees are such fine artists producing these paintings every year. And then they give away their paintings for free. For us to enjoy.

Leaf as artwork

One such amazingly colored leaf lies on one of the busiest sidewalks in Chicago. On Michigan Avenue where the same colors on a designer shirt could cost in the thousands, trees produce their own fashion show for you to take and hold.

Walking on my way to the Wrigley Building Walgreens, this particular leaf really jumped out for its wide palette of color. Greens, yellows, reds, browns. The spotted pattern also created an immense texture on such a tiny leaf.

Wanting to photograph this leaf in macro, I picked it up and carried it with me into the store. While I purchased my bag of chocolate, I placed the leaf on the counter to continue the transaction. The cashier noted the leaf, "look at that!" I proudly picked it up to show her. Yes! This leaf was sitting outside! Wouldn't it look really cool photographed and made into a really large print? The cashier agreed, "fall is just so beautiful. I love this time of year."

She handed me my receipt with the wagcares sweepstakes; and I walked out with the leaf and receipt next to each other in one hand. The $3000 cash I could win by filling out the wagcares survey? That pales in comparison to the value this leaf brings.

To capture such detail in the leaf could not be done by an iPhone alone. Instead, I popped on my macro lens from Photojojo. This lens is amazing. Well, maybe you know that already from my photo. ;-)

Contact sheet of colorful tiny leaf

Initially the bright red in the leaf demanded my attention. I kept shooting the red section over and over. But the photos weren't quite capturing the beauty of this leaf. So instead my camera went to the middle of the leaf where the greens and yellows live. That sounds boring, right?

Texture of tiny leaf found on Michigan Ave in ChicagoNope! The center of the leaf brings out the masterful composition created by the tree. The strong brownish-purple line with a network of very thin white lines branching out from the main artery. Certainly this tree knows how to compose a painting! The fine touches of yellow, green, and brown dot the center of the leaf.

Where is this bright red to be found? Only at the perimeters of the photo. Let that be a lesson to all photographers. Often we are tempted by the bright reds on the perimeter of life. However, the standard greens and browns in the center can make for a strong photo.

I really enjoy the result of this photo. Chicagoist really likes it too, because they made it the primary feature on autumn leaves in Chicago.

Has anyone taken any photos of the autumn leaves? If so, leave a link in the comments.

0 archived comments | | Friday, October 10, 2014
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Placing origami postcards inside Walgreens with a wagcares receipt

A Chicago postcard folded into an origami butterfly

Transform the fun of tourist postcards into something beyond their normal function. Buy a tourist postcard and then fold it into a paper origami and leave it at the same postcard rack in the store. Make sure to leave the receipt with it too, so people know it's paid for.

This sounds like a fun project, so I gave it a go. First step is selecting the postcard. Make sure to pick one that is bright and colorful. You want your origami to look sharp!

When buying the postcard, remember to accept the receipt. Especially if the receipt is from Walgreens, because it will have that wagcares survey on it. When I bought the card for 64 cents, the cashier asked if I wanted the receipt. At first I declined, because really. 64 cents--who needs a receipt for that? But then I quickly realized, WHY YES! I do need that receipt! It's an essential part of this art exploration.

To fold this into an origami, you'll need the postcard to be square. Since almost all postcards are rectangular, not square, you'll need to rip off part of the postcard.

Ready to leave at Walgreens

For the card I selected, I opted to rip off the top of the postcard where it says CHICAGO. I'm not sure why, it just seemed to make sense.

Now that you have a square card, go ahead and fold it. Folding a postcard into an origami butterfly is rather challenging. The paper is just too thick. The initial folds are fine, but the later folds are like trying to close your suitcase at the end of a shopping vacation. I was putting all my weight onto the folds to make this butterfly happen.

If you bought your postcard from Walgreens, and you have the time, make sure you go to www.wagcares.com to fill out the survey for the $3,000 sweepstakes; and say something nice about your Walgreens cashier.

Now, the fun part. Put the origami back onto the rack! The Walgreens where I purchased my postcard is the flagship store in downtown Chicago. Their postcard rack is right by the back cashiers and the greeter. I kinda ignored the greeter when I came back into the store, hoping he wouldn't notice me.

But butterfly origami works perfectly with a postcard rack, because you can fit the slot of it's wings into the wire frame. Make sure to include that tellwag.com survey receipt too, so people don't think you just stole a card and folded into an origami!

Now take some pics and share! If you do this project, make sure to let me know!

0 archived comments | | Thursday, October 09, 2014
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The cracked screen project

Someone on the train is using a phone with a cracked screen. I ask the person to pull up a photo on flickr or instagram. Then I take a photo of the person's cracked screen showing the photo.

People using cracked-glass phones are very interesting to me. How the lines interact with the content on the phone. The fact that the person using the phone learns to ignore the lines. The very visceral nature of the cracks calls to mind the physical nature of our devices upon which we view the world.

What would be a good photo to show on a cracked screen? Should it be the floor of the train? That would provide a nice simple backdrop for the cracks. The photo of the floor would have some good texture to it. Not just some generic photo. But one close enough to the floor where you can almost feel the material.

I'm too shy to approach strangers, so this will probably never happen. But it's fun to think about how different photos would appear under various cracked screens. This idea was inspired by the book review for "The Camera as Afterthought: Defining Post-Photography." This looks to be a very interesting book. One of the examples in the review is a series of photos of paintings from museums that show the glares from the museum lighting.

I've done a series similar to this with Light on Ellsworth Kelly at the @artinstitutechi.
Light on Ellsworth Kelly at the @artinstitutechi

Anyways, back to cracked screens. What would make for a cool photo to show behind a cracked screen? Looking through cracked screen photos on flickr, the ones with the most simple background tend to show off the cracks better.

0 archived comments | | Wednesday, October 08, 2014
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Public spectacles don't always catch on fire

The house that wouldn't burn (Great Chicago Fire Festival)

Three wooden mansions floating on the Chicago River to be torched. Fire! Fire! Fire! For entertainment, everyone loves a good fire. A week before the festival, the wooden mansions sat by three Chicago bridges with a sign saying, "watch me burn." Such is the hype for the Great Chicago Fire Festival.

Every couple years Chicago has an event with such electricity among the crowd, you feel like you are participating in something special.
* Chicago Cubs one game away from the World Series, 2003
* Millennium Park opening of 2004
* Chicago's 2007 bid for the Winter Olympics
* Obama's election in 2007
* Oprah Winfrey's 2009 show on Michigan Avenue
* Blackhawks championship parade of 2010
* Transformers 2010 filming in Chicago

In all these events the crowd was on fire. The October crowd for the 2014 Chicago Fire Festival had an electricity. The chilly temperatures brought out only the brave. The evening twilight provided the backdrop for a unique event, a theatre on the river.

Panoramic of The Great Chicago Fire Festival

A sense of the unexpected was in the air. Just how would these houses burn down? What sort of dramatics will we see with mixing fire and water?

The crowd packed in along the Chicago River, on a young riverwalk under 10 years old. Everyone claiming spots to see one of the three houses burn down. The large crowd of all races mixed in with the spectacle of public theatre had the feeling of an Olympics opening ceremony. I commented to my fiancee, "this must be what it feels like to be at an Olympics ceremony."

We all stood around waiting for the festivities to start. Just how will they pull this off? A loud voice came over the speakers introducing the event, explaining what the meaning behind different caludrons being ignited by representatives of different communities. Ah yes! Instead of country representatives in the Olympics, there are community representatives.

The flame was carried in by an artistic steamboat. However due to the curve in the river, we couldn't see the steamboat. Only the voice of Mark Stafford, the MC, could be heard explaining how Chicago was a timberbox 142 years ago.

Then a pause. A long pause. Half an hour passed by without our house being ignited. The crowd chanted, "WE WANT FIRE! WE WANT FIRE!" and "BURN IT DOWN! BURN IT DOWN!" In response, the dismebodied voice explained over the speakers, "Ladies and gentlemen...we're having some electrical problems. But sit tight, this is going to be a GRAND SPECTACLE"

More delay.

The voice came on again, "Thank you for waiting, due to electronic problems, the fire will be set manually." The crowd said things like in these tweets:

The crowd chanted "GET A COW! GET A COW!"

The third house finally starts to burn on the Chicago River at the Great Chicago Fire Festival

A small fire was finally spotted inside the house. The crowd cheered with relief. The fire died out. The crowd laughed. This malfunction made it seem all the more like being at an Olympics opening ceremony. The 5th spire that wouldn't lift at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The 5th ring that wouldn't expand at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Now the houses that wouldn't burn on the Chicago River.

A few more minutes pass by and eventually the fire started to catch on slowly. Very slowly. It looked like watching a campfire where the wood slowly--s l o w ly--burns.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, the crowd left "feeling burned." But Chicago has a past with electrifying events dieing out. The 2003 Cubs were five outs away from going to the World Series only to lose the game. The 2007 Chicago bid for the 2016 Olympics ended up with Chicago getting last place.

But Chicago always manages to rise up from defeats. Chicago will rise again after the Burned Chicago Fire Festival.

0 archived comments | | Sunday, October 05, 2014
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How to worry less by taking more photos

Colored bricks like stained glass

Yeah! Take more photos! Taking photos makes you more observant of your surroundings. Pausing and considering things around you gives you perspective. Often I can get too wrapped up inside my head about life and worrying. To get outside of my head, I'll simply observe and be in the moment.

When I'm not observing and connecting to the spaces around me, I get stressed and worry about things. I'll get frustrated about work, or that certain things I do in life aren't working as well as I thought. But those are all things inside my head.

To get outside of my head, it's literally getting outside. my. head. By looking outside myself. Looking at the spaces around me. And not just looking, but connecting. One way of connecting is through photographing the space from many different angles.

Photo collage of colored bricksThis bricks photo is the result of 20 different photos. About half way through shooting these colorful bricks, I really wanted to shoot them in HDR, so the colors can REALLY pop. But that requires my camera to be steady, because it shoots a couple exposures. If I shake my camera, the exposures won't be aligned.

So being observant, a metal chair was sitting nearby in the plaza. I dragged the chair over for an impromptu tripod to steady my camera. So now, I was able to connect with the space but not just photographing it, but by interacting with the objects in the area.

All this is to get outside my head, and connecting with the space. This connections brings calm to my life.

That interaction gets carried even further when I share the photos online, and when people share appreciation for the photos.

When you engage with your surroundings, you simply worry less. It all starts with observing, and then taking an action in the space. In some cases the action is photographing. Sometimes the action is moving a chair. Sometimes the action might be simply hop-scotching along the bricks. But there is always an action that gets followed up by the observation.

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