A few things about the drive: It is very flat but quite pretty, especially now that the leaves are changing. Kia Optimas do not handle well. I felt like a driver in an old-timey movie in which they're moving the steering wheel way too much for just driving straight, but in this case it was actually necessary. Chicago drivers are actually good. They use their turn signals to switch lanes, and they actually do it ahead of time so that the signal actually serves a purpose. Left lanes are usually faster than right lanes, so that people can actually get to exits and pass people as expected. It's amazing. Pedestrians, however, will just walk toward your moving car when you have a green light, then when you brake, wave you forward as though they are a traffic director.
Relatedly, I don't know how to use crosswalks when there are no signals. It actually throws me off when cars are stopped, especially when it's a four-way stop and multiple cars are stopped. Do I go? Do I wait for the cars to go first? The cars seem to be waiting for me. But then if I wait long enough to make sure they're waiting for me, they'll go, because I'm waiting. So it's this awkward dance that is a result of the fact that I don't know how to cross a street without an explicit walk sign or jaywalking. I don't know what happens when cars are supposed to stop, because my instinct is that they will not stop. So they have to pull up all the way to the crosswalk and come to a complete stop before I cross the street, instead of me assuming they will stop and just walking across the street when they're farther away and making everything more efficient. Sorry, Chicago.
Today was beautiful out, but of course, I found this annoying. I don't really like the sun, and when it's really beautiful out in Chicago in September, that means it's really warm in the sun but still chilly in the shade. I don't like this because I'm uncomfortable both with and without a jacket. It is my nightmare.
I was advised by my friend Lily, who has a tattoo of UChicago's motto, to go to Harold's for lunch, where, as I later found out, Karlyn and her boyfriend have been for the past four Valentine's Days. A quarter chicken is $3.40, they give you bread instead of napkins, and the cashier is protected by bulletproof glass. The restrooms are also closed, so you will have no recourse when you have hot sauce smothered all over your hands. The only other place I've seen bulletproof glass to protect cashiers is at some gas stations and some post offices in New York. The chicken was amazing. Definitely worth the remote risk of a bullet. Covered in hot sauce but still amazingly crispy. I feel like they must fry it in lard, because I'm convinced only something as bad for you as lard could taste that good.
After lunch, and with remnants of sauce around my nails, I walked to the Point, which is a park along the lake. (I have no idea what lake.) It is a pretty park.
|Behind that sea spray is the skyline of downtown Chicago.|
|This is somewhat misleading, because most of the park is very green.|
I kept just barely missing the live science demonstrations, so I would advise you to plan out your day, and to ask where the things are supposed to be when you get to the general area, because it is not obvious or well marked. I probably could have made a couple if I had noticed the location the first time I passed it. There's a little bit of something for every kind of science nerd: trains/planes/cars/bikes, fire/lightning/waves/tornadoes, genetics/anatomy, energy/farming/coal mine stuff - it's pretty comprehensive. It seems ideal to go with at least one other person if not a small group, and a lot of the stuff is very interactive and meant more for kids than adults (except the Disney exhibit).
|Rats! For the genetics section.|
|The museum's own personal tornado. They also have a Tesla coil.|
- Penny doesn't understand science, because she is stupid.
- Penny is promiscuous.
- Leonard is too ugly for Penny, and he is lucky to be having sex with her.
- Sheldon is autistic.
- Howard is a creepy pervert.
- Howard's mom is morbidly obese.
- Howard is wearing a dickey and/or a novelty belt buckle.
- Raj defies traditional gender expectations.
- Raj can't speak to/get a girl.
- Something racist about either Howard (Jewish) or Raj (Indian).
- Amy is really uncool.
- Amy tries in vain to have sex with Sheldon.
Rinse and repeat. Add awkward pauses for canned laughter after jokes that are not funny. That is the entire series. There is probably an even shorter list for Two and a Half Men, which is produced by the same person. Television as a whole is getting better, but not this.
Anyway, Karlyn got home from work and met me on campus for a UChicago tour. The campus is very, very pretty. There's grass and trees and ivy everywhere, the buildings are gothic, and it's just gorgeous. The incoming freshmen just moved in on Sunday, so this is "O week" (for orientation), and houses are dressing up in themes together and doing freshmen things. Everyone looks really young, but both Karlyn and I could pass for freshmen in a heartbeat, so we're in no position to judge. (FYI, the stereotype that Asians look really young does mean that the flip side is that Asians native to Asia think white people look really old. I once showed my high school yearbook to some of my friends in China, and they thought several of the students "had to be" at least 35.)
The rest of the day was laundry time and another delicious dinner cooked by Karlyn and Mike, who plan out all their meals for the week every week. (She is a few years younger but has far surpassed me in adulthood metrics.) Today was a knockoff banh mi with chicken sausage, pickled carrots and onions, chipotle mayo, and spinach, along with a generous portion of chock full vegetable soup. (Yesterday was pulled pork tacos with corn and peppers.)
We discussed Mike's porn scholarship, in which he analyzed the dialogue in pornography (for a class), which was very interesting. I generally find porn to be fascinating, because it is so far off from what sex is like in real life, and yet is celebrated as a fantasy. I would say 80-90% of the things that are happening in porn are a good time for no one. It seems like you could even get the fantasy dynamic (whatever that may be) between the two (or more) actors without having such uncomfortable sex. I am also perplexed by the idea that longer is better. I mean seriously, how many women have an eight-inch vagina? Let's be real. The size thing goes both ways, too. I don't know any guys who would prefer huge boobs that look like a basketball was halved and superglued to someone's chest over normal, natural boobs of any size. Teenage boys: Do not base your sex life and/or expectations on porn. Porn sex is really, really bad sex. Please do not inflict it on anyone. It would be like a novice writer taking lessons from Nathaniel Hawthorne teaching the Scarlet Letter. It's not a good model, and you don't have the requisite skill anyway.
In all the Chicago excitement, I've missed a protest right next to my apartment in New York (not that I would have attended). Flood Wall Street, as I understand, was aimed at Wall Street's contribution to global warming. I know nothing about the subject, but I am generally sympathetic to blaming Wall Street for almost anything. It annoys me that getting a 401k is the financially responsible thing to do, because otherwise I wouldn't do it. I do not for a moment understand investing based on perceived upward trends as opposed to based on the actual product and/or service that the target company produces and/or provides. I think it incentivizes terrible corporate practice (probably including some environmentally unfriendly things), and it just seems like a nakedly empty economic transaction devoid of any real, solid value that you can then continue to build on. Is this not how bubbles are created? I don't feel that throwing money at a trend line without at least some substantive justification is something people should even be allowed to profit from. It contributes nothing, and I hate it.
But they'll be my clients next week, so I guess I should stop complaining and start... crying.