CVH wanted to go to Minneapolis for our anniversary.

They have a convenient train there. Takes you from the airport downtown (and other places).

The Blue Line

Our hotel was pretty conveniently located, but there were portable police cameras parked out in front.

Seems likely there were there in response to a problem. Anyway, the Blue Line train was also able to take us to the Mall of America. If you lived through the 70’s, you recall that indoor shopping malls sprung up like mushrooms. Although few of them are still going concerns, this giant mall from 1992 seems to be chugging right along. There is a large book store, rollercoasters, and an aquarium. Alas, the Prairie Home Companion store is no more.

We walked along the riverfront to the falls. There are some cool bridges over the river.

The little tiny dots on the bridge are a group of young men out for a run. They had team uniforms on and spoke German. Maybe they were in town for a soccer game?

The old railroad bridge below is an now a pedestrian bridge.

We visited the flour mill museum, which was a lot more interesting than it might sound. CVH was taken by the story of Bisquick.

That evening we toured the Walker Art Center, an impressive modern art museum. It has an extensive sculpture garden with a couple of iconic items.

The Giant Blue Chicken
The Cherry – which is a fountain, too
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Xmas shopping, part II

It rained all day yesterday, and now CVH wanted to get out of the apartment. We took the good old 147 bus downtown.

We got off at the 900 Shops, a mall with a huge condo tower/Four Seasons hotel on top.

The mall was gaily decorated for Christmas, with a huge tree and a section where you could get your photo taken with Santa in his sleigh.

Earlier in the morning, they had hosted “Breakfast with Santa”, and there were still a lot of little girls and their parents roaming the mall. (There were very few little boys; I don’t know why.)

As we sat and ate in the food court, one toddler kept going by and staring at me. I smiled and waved. She kept coming by and staring.

“That little girl doesn’t know what to make of me,” I told CVH.

“She’s trying to figure out if you’re Santa,” she replied. Sure enough, in my red tunic and white beard and carrying a large bag, I’m sure I was confusing the poor thing.

OK, so I don’t look like Kurt Russell

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Football on TV

CVH and mama love watching football on TV. Although I don’t know much about American football, I’ll often join them. TV coverage of football has improved tremendously in the last fifteen years or so. It used to be excruciating to watch. I couldn’t figure out why it was so bad. It was as if the people in charge of the transmission had never watched TV before. I wondered if the networks sent their lowest achievers, the people they were about to lay off, to direct TV football coverage. But now it is much better.

Not being an football aficionado, though, my eye tends to wander around the screen while the game is playing. I end up seeing little details that regular fans don’t notice. And I wonder what some of these things are.

One of the first things I noticed was the C on some players’ jerseys. They come with a varying number of stars.

Not everybody has a C, and some teams have more than others. Thanks to Google, I was able to figure out that it stands for “Captain”, and indeed, some teams use them more than others.

The helmets are also interesting. They’re not all the same. Many have this five-sided flap cutout on the front:

But not all.

I don’t know why.

And some helmets have these little ovals on the front.

A lot of quarterbacks have them, but not all. Some the other players, both offensive and defensive, have them, but I haven’t been able to come up with a 100% correlation to specific positions.

Occasionally you’ll catch a glimpse of the guy on the sideline who carries the extra balls.

What’s the career path for this person? What job did he get promoted from? What do his kids tell the other kids that their father does for a living?

How about that plastic thing that holds the ball for the kickoff? Does somebody run out and pick it up right after the kick? Or do they leave it out there and hope nobody steps on it?

The color commentators never discuss these fascinating questions.

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Xmas Shopping

Everybody goes Christmas shopping. First, we went to the Christkindlmarket on Daley Plaza.

Happy Shopper

CVH got a Nepalese hat. Made in Nepal.

Nice hat

It was a little cool, of course, and some pigeons hung out around the war dead memorial flame.

We enjoyed some fresh German donuts. Any tourist hoping to see the Picasso might have been disappointed, though, as the market surrounds the sculpture. The Picasso was the big thing when I was a kid, but now everyone goes to Cloud Gate (The Bean). Sic transit gloria.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner downtown at the Godfrey’s rooftop lounge.

Mama had a good time, too.

Friday after Thanksgiving it was back downtown to see the official Chicago tree in the park. There were herds of people. We went to Marshall Field’s and were able to get into the Walnut Room and have the famous chicken pot pie.

Dinner at the Walnut Room by the big Christmas tree: check off another Chicago tradition.

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Friends, old and new, came to town this weekend. We took advantage of the Chicago Architecture Center’s Open House to see some iconic Chicago buildings.

We visited the outdoor deck at the Cliff Dwellers Club.

The Grand Banking Hall, where time zones were codified in 1883.

Our warmly dressed friends also visited the Art Institute
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Chicago Transit Authority

Today was the 75th anniversary celebration for the CTA. No speeches or fireworks, but they did bring out three old L trains and three old buses.

There was this 1969 Green Limousine.

I got to ride on this 1923 L car.

It was surprisingly nice inside. Check out the interior light fixtures!

I also rode on this bus from the early sixties. Maybe it was the very same bus that I rode in 1962! Well, could be.

The bus had this great old ad for Radio Free Europe that featured Khrushchev.

There was this classic 1959 L train. And a 1976 train in all its gaudy bicentennial glory.

I had a great time. When I got home, I told my wife that I had pictures of the classic CTA vehicles.

“I’m sure you’re very keen to see my pictures of old buses,” I said.

“Just beside myself,” she replied.

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Merchandise Mart

Nothing particularly special, it’s just that I went by the Merchandise Mart on my walk this morning, and thought it looked really nice in the sun.

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Chalk Howard Street

We took the L up to Rogers Park and the Chalk Howard Street festival.

Chalk artists from around the country came to chalk up Howard Street, including this shot of Chicago native Harrison Ford climbing up out of the ground.

Of course there were food and games. CVH played Jenga with other festival goers (I did not realize this was one of her talents), and had fataya from Badou Senegalese. We also bought some vinegars from Made With Love Organic Vinegars, and bread pudding from the Caribbean American Baking Company. Bob’s Red Mill was handing out free oatmeal and granola, so we got that, too.


A local artist had these Chicago winter prints, and now CVH has one to hang by her desk. As if we didn’t get enough Chicago winter as it is.

I took advantage of this trip to take CVH into Lost Eras (since 1969), one of those unbelievable “antique” stores that are full of more stuff than you thought existed.

Lost Eras in 1975

I can’t imagine how they run a business like this. I’m thinking the money-making part is in costumes and the occasional actual antique, but all that other stuff, and there is a lot of it – would have to be a cost accounting nightmare.

The hard-working Alderwoman who represents Rogers Park, Maria Hadden, was there and we spoke with her briefly.

Maria Hadden

There are very few policy issues on which I agree with Ald. Hadden, but she is certainly committed to her causes and seems honest, not something one always finds in a Chicago politician.

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Admit it: all your life, you’ve wanted to vacation in Milwaukee. Yet, despite the planning and scheming, it hasn’t happened yet. Well, we made the dream a reality.

CVH wanted to go to the state fair. There is an Illinois state fair in Springfield, but then we saw that the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee was closer and there were more things to do in Milwaukee.

So we caught the Amtrak to Milwaukee.

Our Train

The train dropped us off downtown, a short walk from our hotel. It was a lovely hotel, in a restored pre-civil war building. Our room had twelve-foot ceilings, distressed wood floors, and was very nice.

The Hotel

There are a lot of these old, impressive buildings in Milwaukee.

A surprising number of downtown buildings have large clocks.

The most amazing thing is that all the clocks work! No excuse for being late in Milwaukee.

Our hotel was also a block from Milwaukee Public Market, a food mall full of wonderful restaurants, bakeries, and toothsome delights.

Milwaukee Public Market – Eat here!

We walked down to the lakefront, and CVH claims the ducks in Milwaukee are extra large.

Big ducks?

The Milwaukee Art Museum is on the lake, and it sports a dramatic Calatrava-designed entry building.

The large “wings” open and close. We got to watch them close:

The next day we went to the State Fair. The Milwaukee bus #18 takes you from downtown right to the State Fair gate.

At the fair, we saw good looking dairy cows.

And young cows:

There was a substantial dairy display.

CVH with Wisconsin “cow”.

There was steer judging.

Of course, we also saw goats and sheep and chickens.

We tried a lot of fair food, including the 1st place contest winner, a pretzel-wrapped brat with jalapeños.

We were informed that it’s pronounced “brought”, not “brat”.

We visited the maple producers booth, and the honey producers booth.

The Case tractor people had a contest to test your farming knowledge. There were questions such as “The corn head cross auger pitch allows for better (pick one):”. Somehow CVH got the right answer to her question about rice, and won a hat. I think it makes me look like a real farmer:

After the fair, we went to the Milwaukee Art Museum and saw,among other things, their exhibit of Jules Chéret posters.

Friday we went shopping along Brady Street. We bought some cat toys at Pets on Brady, went to Glorioso’s Italian Market and the Peter Sciorino Bakery, and I even got a haircut at Classic’s Barbershop.

Everyone should have a vacation in Milwaukee.

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Cat Video Fest 2022

How can anyone possibly resist?

We had a great time, as always. Seen in the beautiful 1929 Music Box Theatre, the way movies are meant to be seen. Lots of popcorn, and a hugely appreciative crowd.

There was an announcement that there will be a Dog Video Fest next year, but I’m having trouble imagining that. It certainly won’t be anything like cat videos.

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