Friday, June 23, 2006

Trump Tower

After quite a lot of controversy, construction on the Trump Tower started last year. There was quite a lot of work to do before they could actually start building. Here's the progress as of today. You can see the IBM building in the background. Here's a picture of how the Tower will look when built.

Trump Tower, Chicago
Originally uploaded by buccaneerbetty.

The Trump site says that it will be delivered in 2008 (although wikipedia lists the completion date as 2009), with 98 floors, making it the second largest building in the world. In contrast, the Chrysler Building, which at the time of completion in 1929 was the world's tallest building, has 77 floors. The Chrysler Building was built with an average of 4 floors per week with no worker deaths. So far, it seems that the Trump Tower is not concerned with meeting that pace - but I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cracked under pressure

When people admire something I have on, I have a bad habit of telling them where I bought it and for how much (usually because I got it for cheap, at a cheap store, but I consider it a bargain). Today I was wearing one of those pieces of clothing. I was determined, though, to not tell anyone about it.
Just as the office building elevator doors were closing, a person from work snuck in. Despite the fact that everyone knows you are supposed to stare at either the floor indicator or the little information screen they have in there, she proceeded to stare right at me. She said, "pretty shirt." I thanked her but I could still feel the weight of her stare on me. I glanced at her and saw that she was staring at me and her mouth was hanging open a little - like she couldn't believe the stupid thing I had said - even though I had been quietly looking at the screen, following elevator etiquette. I couldn't stand it and told her that I bought it at Walmart for $7. I was kinda hoping she'd be embarrassed for me - after all - who admits to that kind of thing (except me)? Instead (to her credit) she said, "Well, that makes it even prettier!" AAAAnnnnd the stare went on. I made some inane comment about the weather while she just stared at me.
At our BBQ in Yosemite, I was talking to a couple of my friends and we agreed that everyone has some kind of karma. They each had karma that encouraged people to always cut in line in front of them. Mine is clearly one that calls for other people to stare at me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Oriental Institute

This weekend Cowboy and I went to the Oriental Institute at the U of C. Cowboy and I both went to U of C so it was interesting to see all the changes (for the better) that have been instituted since we've been there. There were tours - maybe freshmans or perspective students - whoever they were they looked YOUNG. Has it really been that long since I was one of them? I digress...
The Oriental Institute rocked! It is my second favorite museum in Chicago after the Art Institute. They've opened two new galleries, full of "new" reliefs excavated from tombs and cities. The building itself has been recently renovated (I believe to put in a climate control system) and is beautiful. It's an old stone building, typical of the gothic architectural style on campus, with exposed beams that are designed with (perhaps painted to look like?) inlay. The Persian Gallery is said to hold the best archeological collection of artifacts from the area now known as Iran. There's an amazing black limestone head of a bull in there (click on the gallery link and scroll just a bit so you can get an idea of the size!) that I always enjoy seeing. The Egyptian Gallery also has a gi-normous King Tut. And, from the Mesopotamian Gallery, here's a pic of the winged bull, or lamassu. This is just one of the amazing pieces they have on display - and they only display about 4% of their collection.

Many of the early excavations were led by James Henry Breasted who was possibly a model for Indiana Jones. When I saw a photo of him, his wife and son on an expedition, however, I wondered if he was also a model for Radcliffe Emerson in the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. In turn, I often wonder if The Mummy was based on the Amelia Peabody books. I have to admit, most of what I know about ancient Egypt comes from gleaning information from her books. I like to think that sounds worse than it is - she did get her PhD in Egyptology from U of C after all.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Incredible discovery

Cowboy and I happened upon the Food Network's Wedding Cake Challenge. Check it out and look at the slideshow of the competing cakes - they were really amazing! One competitor was Cakeman Raven who owns a bakery in Harlem. His cake was incredible - and it was red velvet. "What's that?" I asked Cowboy. He gave me an incredulous look. "You've never had red velvet?" His eyes lit up - knowing he was going to introduce me to something I was going to love. "We'll have to try it."
Meanwhile, I was really annoyed that there is a type of cake out there that I have never had. I looked it up on the web and found out that it is a cake with a mild chocolate flavor (only 2 tbs of cocoa powder) with a whole lot of red food coloring. I got a recipe and rustled up the ingredients. Using my new silicone bake ware from RoadRunner and Prince E, I made red velvet cupcakes. (Silicone bake ware HIGHLY recommended - so easy to clean) They were pretty good, but I think I need to try it from a bakery for comparison. Everyone seems to rave about it.
By the way, during my internet mecca for this mysterious treat, I found this great tribute to cupcakes (which helped fuel my need for cake even more).

Monday, June 12, 2006

Not so funny in real life

When I was growing up, my friend Amy had a Commodore 64. We played a game - I think it was called "Black Magic." It was a lot of fun. I remember, though, that your little man could get carried away by a falcon - which, depending on where you were in the level, could be good or bad. I remember yelling "NOOOOOOO!" plenty a time at the tiny monitor.
Recently, I found out that this has really happened at one time in history! New research suggests that a prehistoric eagle carried away and killed a Taung child, a human ancestor who lived two million years ago. Scientists originally thought a big cat killed the three and a half year old little hominid. However, claw and beak marks inside the skull suggest the bird plunged a talon into the child's brain through the eye and carried the poor little one to its nest. The fact that the skull was found among monkey and tortoise remains similar to that found today near nests of the African crowned eagle also supports this theory.
Can you imagine? That calls for quite a "NOOOOO!"

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

training pains

I ran last week for the first time in weeks. It kicked my dupa. I was nervous to try again, but I made it down to the treadmill and gave it a whirl. The first few minutes were full of pain. My muscles were like machines that had sat unused for a long time and were now being asked to chug away at full speed without the benefit of being oiled. I was even starting to wonder if I'd developed exercise-induced asthma. After a few minutes though, I think my body remembered what to do, and I relaxed into it. I can't say it was fun, but it went a lot better. At least I'm not dreading the next time.
What I have going for me is that I'm starting up my training program nice and slow. My schedule now compared to what I was doing before the wedding looks pretty pathetic. I gotta remember that next time I want to lounge around on a beach (or my couch).

Insomnia, swimming and appendicitis

Cowboy has had pseudo-appendicitis for over a week now. It's not appendicitis (at least not acute or ruptured) but he had symptoms that sure sounded like it, and sure knocked him out. To make a long story short, he has been sitting on the couch playing poker on the computer and watching Season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (This is the season Buffy goes downhill, in my opinion)
Anyway, I don't know if I've been suffering sympathy pains or what but I have developed insomnia over the last few days. As a result, I feel like I've been hit by a train - every morning - and it doesn't go away. Tonight, I was feeling achy and wide-awake, so we went for a swim at 11:30pm. It was so nice. The cool water felt perfect. It reminded me of going swimming at night in Hawaii. (Sigh.) Now we're back in our humble abode and I'm still wide-awake.
The upshot is that Cowboy has finally had enough of our uncomfortable couch and has promised me a new one for my birthday. Yippee! I've been gunning for this for over a year!

Monday, June 05, 2006


For Valentine's Day / 10 year anniversary, I got Cowboy 2 tickets to see Spamalot. I have to admit, I wasn't THAT excited to see it, and I even suggested that he take a friend instead of me. The date snuck up on us, and he forgot to plan it with his friend. I was looking forward to seeing a show, and thought I would even put up with a room full of dorky boys who can recite the whole movie from memory (Cowboy included). (I have seen the movie and I didn't really get into it.) Turns out, I LOVED it!!! It was so fantastically funny! Cowboy says it follows the movie, and while I recognized a couple of scenes, it definitely introduces some original material - not to mention the obvious addition of the songs. Basically, it kept the silliness level, and there were even a couple of songs about songs. There were lots of little surprises, though, and I was so delighted to just experience the spectacle. Anyway, I highly recommend it - should it come to your city.
The next one on the list is the Pirate Queen. This is about one of my favorite pirates Grace O'Malley - daughter of a chieftain in 16th century Ireland. The story the musical is based on fails to tell one tidbit that I like - when she was divorcing husband #2, she locked him out of her castle, barricaded herself and family inside, fought with him until they were divorced - all while running her pirate empire.