Extreme Mammals!

June 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

As I mentioned earlier this week, I spent last Saturday being trained for the new exhibit at the Field Museum, on Extreme Mammals.  Here are some random bits of knowledge I picked up that will perhaps make your Friday a little more interesting:

  • Bats are a great success story: among more than 5,600 living species of mammals, more than 1,200 are bats.
  • Today the typical mammal weighs about one-quarter pound, although for most of their history they were generally even smaller.  That includes humans, whales, elephants and every other large mammal you can think of.  Bats make up a large percentage of this average, as do rodents.
  • The shrew-like 1.5-inch Batononoides vanhouteni is the smallest land mammal that ever lived.  It was so tiny that it could have perched on a pencil and likely weighed about as much as a dollar bill.
  • The largest known land mammal is the Indricotherium, which lived around 34 to 23 million years ago.  This was a rhino-like creature that weighed up to 20 tons, or about as much as three or four African elephants.  Here’s a pic:

Like whoa

  • The largest living mammal today is the African elephant.  And since I’ve actually seen these up close and personal while traipsing through the African bush, I can attest that they are indeed huge.
  • The smallest living mammal today is the kitti’s hog- nosed bat.
  • There are more than 300 living marsupial mammals – they are so named because they have the characteristic marsupium, or pouch, in which they carry their young.
  • Most mammals live on land and some live in the sea (whales, for instance).  But only a few can glide through the air (hence the name flying squirrel) and only one group can actually fly.  That would be those bats once again.

That’s all I’m at liberty to say.  If you want to know more you should check out the exhibit (I can get you in for free!) as it’ll be with us until January 2013.  If you can’t make it to Chicago between now and then it is a traveling exhibit so you can always try to catch it later.  Or you can just bribe me with booze and I’ll tell you more.

Happy Friday!

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Wide World of Weekends

June 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This was the first weekend in the last few that I wasn’t traveling, so I was really looking forward to hanging around the apartment and enjoying the summer that this city has to offer.  I was not disappointed.  Friday evening found Scott and I at Ericks Tacos, a BYOB Mexican place conveniently located both near our apartment and a liquor store.  A friend of mine and her fiancée met us there as they just got the keys to their brand new condo, which they recently bought (man my friends are so grown up).  Their new place is just  few blocks from our own and we got the grand tour after stuffing ourselves with burritos and guacamole.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous of their two rooms, various closets, working fireplace and huge back porch but I know I’ll be over there hanging out often enough that I’ll be able to take advantage of it too (well, maybe not their closets).  Next year Scott and I will probably move to something a little more spacious but until then a girl can dream, right?

I got to sleep in on Saturday and then headed to the Field Museum, where I had training for the newest exhibit entitled Extreme Mammals.  It was really interesting and if you’re lucky, I’ll talk a bit more about it later this week.  It was a gorgeous day and as I walked into the museum I passed a cluster of tents in nearby Grant Park, but I didn’t really know what was going on.  There are festivals and such down there all the time so I figured I could check it out after my stint in the museum, but everything was taken down by the time I left.  I later found out that the first annual Veggie Pride Parade was taking place and of course I kicked myself for missing such a vegetarian-centered event.  I really don’t know what it even consisted of but I imagine there was lots of vegetarian friendly food, clothing and such and I’ll be damned if I miss it again next year.  Perhaps one day I can win Ms. Veggie Head, or something like that.

After my training, Scott and I headed to a nearby neighborhood where the annual Mayfest was taking place.  Mayfest is a huge German celebration featuring live music, food and lots and lots of beer (seriously – I think the stat I heard was that they floated a keg every 10 minutes or so).  I went a couple of years ago with some friends and had a blast but I don’t remember it being so godforsaken crowded.  Perhaps I’m becoming more anti-social in my old age?  I don’t know about that but I do know that there was barely room to breathe and I got very close to having a big problem with a super tall dude who didn’t seem to realize that his elbow was in my face while we were waiting to get more beer.  He’s lucky I’m swift and was able to duck and dodge appropriately.  I had a stein and a half full of some beer I can’t pronounce and it was delicious, as were the pretzels and slice of cake I also indulged in.  We were going to try to see a midnight showing of The Ghostbusters at The Music Box Theater but after the booze and food, I was ready for my couch once again.

Mmm beer…

Sunday I got to sleep in some more (and for someone who hasn’t managed this in what feels like an eternity, it was very much appreciated) then we decided to hit the beach, as the weather was warm and sunny once again.  This was my first trek to the beach so far this year and we were not the only ones out there taking advantage of the nice day.  People were having picnics as kids ran in the water but Scott and I simply enjoyed the sunshine on a blanket with our books.  Then, after saving some plastic bags for a dire fate in Lake Michigan and breaking up a fight over parking in the lot, we went to what could now be my new favorite place to grab a bite to eat – Vegetarian Express.

Yup, this is where I learned of the wonderous Veggie Pride Parade.  This place serves up salads, sandwiches, soups, panini’s, juices and shakes and it’s basically a vegetarian’s dream come true.  I had a soy bacon/cheese/tomato panini and Scott had a seitan roasted sandwich, both of which were delicious.  Seriously, I think even regular meat-eaters would approve.  This was all served with fresh sweet potato fries and we also ordered some homemade guacamole after seeing it being devoured at the tables next to us.  We ate all this around 3pm and I didn’t really eat dinner because I was still so darn stuffed.  The only downside to this place is that they don’t deliver right to my front door.

All in all, this weekend was one that helped me fall in love with Chicago all over again.  It also got me more than ready for an entire summer full of beach days and street fests, not to mention good eats and of course, cold beer.  This is the stuff that helps me get through the winter and I’m going to enjoy it for as long as I can!

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