Friday, July 31, 2009

Feathered Friends: Sailing Away

This Caspian Tern was doing a little para-sailing around Montrose Harbor recently. I think the Caspian Tern has a real "Joe Cool" look. There are more pictures of the Caspian Tern at my bird-watching blog, which is here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Environmental Graffiti

We were over in Eggers Grove recently doing a little birdwatching when I noticed the dolphin graffiti on the huge electric tower. Eggers Grove is a nature area (that was previously a Nike Missile Site) known for good birdwatching opportunities. Maybe that's why even the graffiti has a nature theme.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Michael Mobile

Somebody's rolling tribute to Michael Jackson was parked at Dearborn and Monroe yesterday afternoon.

The car is covered with newspaper articles about Michael Jackson and has a sign on the hood that identifies it as the "Michael Mobile". I believe a lot of duct tape was used. The articles look like they might be on water-resistant paper. I tried to find some other information about this on-line but only found some twitter references to sightings of this car elsewhere in the Loop.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Two Views of ... The World's Largest Bug Zapper

Today's "Two Views" is of the Giant Bug Zapper that keeps all the bugs away from Millennium Park.

OK. It's not a bug zapper. (Nor is it the "Blue Light Special" Kmart headquarters.) It is the twenty foot tall beehive-shaped beacon on top of the Metropolitan Tower at 310 South Michigan. Its six 1000-watt bulbs light up the night sky. The day view shows two of the four buffalo that are part of the base of the light tower.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bughouse Square

Every year, the Newberry Library hosts a big donated book sale the last weekend of July. In conjunction, there are the Bughouse Square Debates in Washington Square Park.

A little history first. In the early 1900s, Washington Square Park was known as Bughouse Square and it was a popular free-speech space. Speechmakers stood on soap boxes to speak their mind and respond to vocal crowds. The Bughouse debates declined after World War II (spurred by crackdowns on socialists and communists) and had stopped by the 60s.

The Newberry Library started holding the debates again on their Book Fair weekend in 1986. They also re-enact an excerpt of the Lincoln Douglas Debates. This year's topics included Immigration Rights, Religion, the 2016 Chicago Olympics bid, Artificial Turf, Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable's Legacy, and the Chicago Parking Meter Debacle. The best orator receives the Dil Pickle award, in honor of the Dil Pickle Club which was, in effect, an indoor Bughouse Square).

I thought the most interesting speech was given by Haroon Rashid from the Friends of DuSable organization. His summary of DuSable's life and contribution to Chicago was rather educational and, perhaps because of that, I don't think anyone from the audience yelled out any comments. The most entertaining was the audience responses to the Chicago Parking Meter presentation by "The Parking Ticket Geek". Audience comments included "Wait - could you stop for a minute while I go feed the meter", numerous "Get a bicycle", "cars don't kill meters, people kill meters", "Yeah, we have high parking rates ... but we get a fireworks show twice a week".

(Click to enlarge the picture)
Photos (Clockwise from top left)
The Parking Ticket Geek,
Black Bear Combo,
Michael Krebs as Lincoln for the Lincoln-Douglas
Debates re-enactment, The Dil Pickle Award,
Haroon Rashid of Friends of DuSable.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Movies in the Park

Movies in the Park again last night. In addition to the movie, which was Groucho Marx's "Duck Soup", they were attempting to break a world's record for the most people wearing Grouch Marx glasses. Apparently, the current record is held by Springfield Missouri. Whether or not Chicago has the record, everyone put up a valiant effort.

I'm not a Marx Brothers fan. But, when there are Marx Brothers fans around you laughing at the silliest stuff ... well .. laughing is contagious. Plus, it was a rather pretty night. Can't beat that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two Views of ... DuSable Harbor

Today's "Two Views" is of DuSable Harbor. Now (on the left) and when it didn't exist (on the right).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Scenes from the Start of the Chicago to Mackinac Race

The 101st Chicago to Mackinac race started on Saturday July 18. At 333 miles, it is the "longest annual freshwater distance race". According to the website, 337 boats are participating this year and 260 of those are getting tracked by GPS. I think they start getting to Mackinac Island Michigan on Monday, but it seems they haven't had a lot of wind.

(Click on the photo collage to enlarge it)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Feathered Friends: Do These Feathers Make Me Look Fat?

Sometimes I catch birds in rather amusing poses. I'd love it to be intentional but it is the random click of the shutter that gets them just at a moment they are doing something odd-looking. When I was going through the pictures from our recent trip to Northerly Island, this particular one of a Savannah Sparrow made me laugh. And the caption "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" popped into my head.

Here is the Savannah Sparrow in a more elegant pose. More pictures of the Savannah Sparrow at Northerly Island are at my birdwatching blog, here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Coming in for the Mackinac

The Chicago to Mackinac race is this weekend. This is the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinac, in Chicago to escort the racers.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All the Wonderful People in the Dark (in the Park)

Yesterday was the first Movies in the Park downtown. There's just something really great about sitting in the park watching a movie - especially a classic like Sunset Boulevard.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Two Views of ... The Wrigley Building

Today's "Two Views" is The Wrigley Building. The first view is the building's reflection in the Trump Tower; the second view is the real building.

Monday, July 13, 2009

State Street Bridge

Although the bridges over the Chicago River are usually referred to by the street the bridge is on, most have more formal names. For example, the official name for the "State Street Bridge", which has these two decorative designs, is "The Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge".

According to the plaque and Wikipedia, Philippine and American troops had held Bataan for 14 weeks until finally surrendering it to the Japanese on April 9, 1942. The U.S. and Filipino army recaptured the island in 1945.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Feathered Friends: AAACK! A Camera

Caught this Killdeer in mid-squawk at Northerly Island. Killdeer can be rather loud little birds and have an interesting way of running and then suddenly sitting down in some grass as if to say "You can't see me now that I'm not moving."

A few more pictures of Killdeer are at my birdwatching blog, here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Catching the Moon

These two sailboat masts seemed, to me, to have captured the moon. The July Full Moon has many names:
One additional name for it is the Rose Moon. Pretty appropriate in this case since the light clouds give this moon a pink hue.

P.S. At 4:05 (and 6 seconds) today, it was 04:05:06 07/08/09.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Two Views of ... The Riverwalk

The work on extending the Chicago Riverwalk has been completed. So this "Two Views" is "During Construction" and "Done". I think they completed it fairly quickly (it was only March when they were still filling in the area that would be the walkway). There are plaques set in to some of the decorative boulders that discuss the tour boats, wildlife along the river, and historical events.


During Construction

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fluorescent Fishing

A lot of people fish along the Chicago River and along the lakefront. The fluorescent green and orange fish poles caught my eye. Apparently, the fishing is quite good for bass, bluegill, and carp and there is even a city festival promoting the activity. According to a study done by a local newspaper, the fish is safe to eat in moderation.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Big Bang Theory

Chicago holds its main fireworks display on July 3 at the lakefront. It draws a lot of people (somehow the crowd count is always "1 million people") and it's a good-natured crowd. Here are a few photos from last night's show.

After the show, the crowd disperses and, as one may expect when 1 million people leave all at once, some of the streets get backed up. Several years ago, they started closing Lake Shore Drive to traffic, allowing people to walk on it to ease the pedestrian congestion. It doesn't seem like too many people take this route anymore (in prior years it was heavily traveled), but the tradition continues.
Have a safe and happy weekend.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shadow Spotlight

A sunset from earlier this week cast a shadow up in the sky. I thought the gilded clouds were quite lovely, too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Theme Day

Where are the boats?

The slips by the Columbia Yacht Club are EMPTY!

The mooring buoys in Monroe Harbor are EMPTY!

But the Playpen
(the local name for the area by the Ohio Street Beach)
is FULL!

Today is the CDPB July Theme Day and the theme is EMPTY. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.