Field Museum Members Night

On Friday night, I went to one of my favorite yearly events in Chicago: the Field Museum’s Members Night. I’ve only been a handful of times but every time is a marvel. I love going behind the scenes at museums. Also, its fun to see new exhibits as well.

My favorite part are the behind the scenes parts. They open the basements and third and fourth floors to the public that night. In the past, I’ve seen where they treat animal skins and fish. There’s the room of giant objects including sarcophagi and canoes. The third floor reminds me of a history building at a university or college. It has that feel with all these offices with newspaper articles, photos, and cartoons taped to the walls. Various departments are represented there: paleontology, entomology, the library, and so much more.

This time, I found myself in one of the paleontology lab where one of the researchers was talking about the bones of a new dinosaur recently found in Utah. It’s named an oviraptorosaur. These were bones that the public probably won’t otherwise see. Very neat. Then we stumbled into the bird section. I have this weird fascinating with living and dead birds, so it seems. In this large room, there were dozens of bird specimens laid out, some from the Amazon region in the fields, while others were from Australia/New Zealand. And there was also a live hawk and a peregrine on the other side of the room. What magnificent creatures. We continued on to the hallway where there were more bird specimens including several pigeons of different sizes. Respect to the pigeon! In another room, we could actually touch stuffed birds. I got to hold a blue jay, my favorite bird as a child. There were two researchers preparing carcasses of an owl and a seagull that was mesmerizing. Guts and all! This room also contained the famous carrion beetles that help strip the bones. Apparently, they can finish a bird in a day. That’s pretty awesome and a little terrifying. After this room, we took a brief sojourn into the library where I saw a Carl Akeley sculpture of a gorilla, which was really sweet.


Dinosaur bones!





Peregrine Falcon

In the main hall, there was a lot going on. There were several large and small puppets including an impressive T-rex and a small friendly bumble bee. Readers of this blog know that I have a tremendous love for puppets. There was also African drumming (I think).




T-Rex Puppet


Bee puppet

After a brief dinner, we headed to one of the new exhibitions that I was really excited about: Women of Vision. It’s an exhibition of six photographers from National Geographic. I had actually seen two of them speak in the last year. Jodi Cobb spoke at the Goodman Theater through the National Geographic Live series and Lynsey Addario just spoke at the Field last Monday. Lynsey Addario is a photojournalist who just published her memoir It’s What I do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War. She had been kidnapped twice, once in Iraq and another time in Libya.  (I just finished her book).

What an incredible exhibition. All of the women have taken incredible photos covering myriad subjects including war, nature, people’s intimate lives, and more. The photos are so full of emotion and meaning. I was talking with someone about the issue of the gaze, particularly with respect to National Geographic. It’s a good question. How does one represent a culture that is not your own? Should one do so? I’m not sure. But Lynsey Addario’s words ring out to me: she’s showing a side of the world that we don’t get to see. But it’s important to think about the power of the person taking the photo versus the subject. And as a side note, I hate that natural history museums contain indigenous/ ethnic

We ended the night with a brief walk through of the new Cyrus Tang Hall of China, which is awesome. It’s got the best use of technology and artifacts that I’ve ever seen. On the way out, we had some fun with a green screen where my husband’s green shirt  blended with the green screen. I also got to pass some more Carl Akeley sculptures. Wonderful.

What a lovely event! We’re so lucky to have this opportunity to peak behind the museum curtain.

That’s all for now!


Wisconsin Adventures: Part 2

Before I talk about our last day adventuring in Wisconsin, I’m going to plug a small project I just worked on. As some of you know, I have been trying to participate in the Third Coast International Audio Festival’s Short Docs competition for the past few years. This year, they teamed up with Manual Cinema for this year’s competition. The following piece “And Through We Went” is my contribution this year:

I hope you enjoy!

Now on to our regularly scheduled programming! On Sunday of our trip, we were going to head back to Chicago making a detour through Milwaukee. We had a meeting at the Milwaukee Makerspace. In 2014, we had the chance of going to the Maker Faire up there. You can read about that experience here:

This time we were going to get a tour of their space. It was really cool. It’s quite an extensive facility with a wood shop, machine shop, and even pottery area. There was a man doing blacksmithing in the corner. There were giant CNC machines, several 3D printers, and beautiful organized supply areas. There was a full sized Dalek and a handmade wooden boat! The whole space was really impressive. I started getting ideas again of things I could be making…


Daleks at the Milwaukee Makersapce



Pottery Wheel at Milwaukee Makerspace

Afterwards, we decided to head to our favorite cheese shop in downtown Milwaukee: the Wisconsin Cheese Mart. We always go there after a trip to Milwaukee because it has the best selection. I always get 5 year aged cheddar, which is heavenly. If you have never tried it, you should find it and eat it all. It’s so much better than regular cheddar at the store. (They also had 25 year cheddar but it was super expensive!). They have lots of samples so you can try a lot of different cheeses. Plus they have Wisconsin beers, including New Glarus, and brats if you are so inclined. We’ve tried other cheese places but they have paled in comparison.

Then on our final leg of the drive home, we finally went to the Mars Cheese Castle. It was something we had been meaning to do for years but road construction and schedule always got in the way. This time we made it. The experience? Well, the outside building is kinda neat with the fake drawbridge and whatnot. Inside, it’s an overpriced store with inferior cheese selection. Alas. We had been warned that we may be a bit disappointed. But I’m glad we went.


Mars Cheese Castle

That’s all for now!


Wisconsin Adventures: Part 1

Now to regularly scheduled programming: In early April, my bf and I decided to take a little trip to Madison/Milwaukee. We drove up on Saturday morning on one of those classic crazy Midwest weather days. For the entire drive to Madison, it alternatively hailed, snowed, then cleared to a wonderful sunny day. We were staying at a friend’s who said that the snow accumulated and melted on his lawn three times in the morning.Sometimes visibility was no more than 10 feet. And as we neared Madison, Google decided to direct us off the road onto side roads for fun and giggles. We still don’t know why; I claim there is an adventurous setting on Google Maps (and no the “Avoid highways” wasn’t selected). But we did see some wild turkeys, which was pretty cool.

Once we got to Madison, we decided to head to Babcock Hall to cheese and ice cream. UWisconsin-Madison, my alma mater, has a giant agricultural school and part of it includes a store that sells cheese and ice cream made there. I picked up some aged cheddar (only about a year) and some delicious ice cream. We then decided to take a little stroll down memory lane— we walked up State street so I could see my old haunts. It’s amazing how much hasn’t changed. Some of my old haunts are still around while others are gone or moved. It’s been eight years since I graduated so it makes sense. At this point, the weather had finally settled on sunny and a bit cold. We walked the entire length of the street, ending up at the Capitol, impressive and imposing as normal.


The Capitol

Since the day had cleared, we decided to go on a short hike at Blue Mounds State Park, about forty minutes away. Google again decided to take us on a tiny adventure, off the highway in the backroads, but we eventually got there. We choose the Flint Rock Hiking Trial that was around a mile and hopefully would be scenic. We mostly wandered through the woods where it was a mix of dirt and snow. These giant stones, the flint rocks, appeared at various points that were multi-colored and imposing. Despite the mud, it was a lovely hike; it was nice to get away from the city and the human made world for a little bit. Before we got back to the car, we climbed one of the nearby observation decks to see the landscape just as the sun began to set. (We wanted to make sure we were done hiking before sunset). The landscape was astonishing: farmlands and distant radio towers.


Flint Rock Hiking Trail

On the way out, we saw a curious deer. Unlike most deers, she didn’t run away when we stopped. She stared at us, twitched her ears, and then eventually ran off. It was really a lovely moment.

For dinner, we went to a Laotian restaurant on Willie Street that was rather hoping. We ended up putting three people at a two person table, which worked! I had some tea and a curry dish with mango, squash, and chicken. It was pretty good. I found some pieces of tofu in it and I actually preferred the tofu to the chicken. Go figure.

That’s all for now!

Tomorrow is Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire 2016

Tomorrow, May 7th, is the day for the 5th annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire!

I can’t wait. Join us from 10am to 4pm for robots, food creation, crafts, 3D printers, and so much more.

Some additional blogs I wrote about some of the makers and sponsors:

Bit Space:

DuSable High School Wood Workshop:

I can’t wait to share all the fun things at the faire with you all.


Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire 2016 Part 2

Just a few days until the 5th annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire on May 7th. Two more posts about makers that I did:

Meet the Maker: Build Your Own Chicago:

Meet the Maker: Digital Media

That’s all for now!