Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Wheels

Wheels have many uses, and a few useless jobs.  One of the less important tasks is to take you up in the air.  Patrick Meehan, an engineering student, published an article in 1964 about the first ferris wheel, and I linked to it at the end of the paragraph.  Chicago began preparing for the 400th anniversary celebration of Columbus’ discovery of the New World in 1890.  They wanted a tall structure for the event that would rival the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

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George Ferris drew his model during a dinner, and the first Ferris Wheel was constructed from that sketch.  He was known as the man “with wheels in his head.”  The structure, completed in 1893, took 20 minutes to complete its first revolution without the cars.  Eventually, this engineering feat of the century, the ferris wheel had 21 cars.   Each weighed 26,000 pounds and held up to 60 people.  Three thousand of Edison’s newly invented light bulbs illuminated the famous wheel when it opened.  After the Exposition closed, the Ferris Wheel quickly fell into disuse.  It was moved twice, once in Chicago and once to St. Louis, before being blasted into bits.   For more information on the original Ferris Wheel click here.

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There was easily room for 4-6 people in the bright red car Randy and I rode.  From our perch on high we looked down at the other two wheels we wanted to ride next.  Randy wanted to go on the carousel, and I wanted the wave ride.

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However, as he freaked out while looking down, his ticket blew out of the car, never to be seen again.  We discussed who would get to ride the ride of their choice the rest of the way down.  It was his birthday, but he wanted me to ride.  As we exited the car, I asked the attendant what we could do about our lost ticket.  She took us to the front of a huge line, and got a replacement picture, so we both had the rides of our choice.

She was a big wheel at the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel Ride!  🙂

For more fun wheel pictures click on Cee’s icon.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

In the central Valley of California we can’t always see the horizon for the fog.  There is a certain romance about an obscured horizon if you are not claustrophobic.

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In the Midwest, where my brother, Randy, and I were born, the horizon seems endless, and very far away.  We had never been to Chicago, so on our way to Indiana, we played for two days in this metropolitan city.   Here I am looking in a northwest direction across Chicago directly down at the Chicago River which runs through the center of Chicago.  I wonder how far away the horizon is.


From 100 stories up looking out of the sky deck of Willis Tower in Chicago there is a haze which blurs the horizon just a bit, but no one doubts that there is a horizon.  Interestingly, when I tilted the camera from that height, the image of the horizon displayed the curvature of the earth.  I felt almost like I was in a spaceship looking down at the earth.


Here is a different view looking at the horizon across Lake Michigan.  It turned out a little less spaceshipish.


The next day Randy and I took a water taxi going from Museum Campus to Navy Pier in Chicago.  The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for a mid October day, 75 degrees and clear sky showed off this Lake Michigan horizon.



Randy, who is scared to death of heights, not only braved the Willis Tower, but agreed to go on the ferris wheel at Navy Pier.  The cars for the original famous ferris wheel in Chicago, built for the 1873 World’s Fair, held 60 people.  Riders would have had to be free of both claustrophobia and acrophobia to ride that giant wheel.  The horizon from this height looked fairly straight.

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I hope you enjoyed my midwestern horizons, and pictures of my play days in Chicago with my brother.


I don’t think Randy cared much for his view of the horizon from the 5 foot plexiglass cage hanging 100 stories in the air.  In spite of his acrophobia, as soon as I turned my back, Randy had disappeared.  All his protestations of, “I’ll never go out there,” went out the window when a pretty, young photographer asked him if wanted his picture taken.


All that was on his horizon at that moment was his determination to overcome his fear, and he certainly did a great job of that!

For more pictures of horizons click here.



Movie Review: The Butler

Knowing that I enjoy most things historic, a couple of months ago Vince took me to see the top box office hit movie, The Butler.  

downloadThis was the perfect year to release this film as we observe 50 years after the “I Have a Dream Speech,” and after the Children’s’ Marches in Birmingham.  As you might expect I got caught up in the story as it unveiled life behind the scenes of each President from Eisenhower through Reagan.  The larger historic setting played out through the children of the fictitious butler, Cecil Gaines.  The oldest son was first a disciple of Martin Luther King, Jr., then switched to being a Black Panther after King’s death.  The second child, also male, died in Viet Nam.  Gaines’ wife, Gloria, struggled with the problems of any non-working wife of a busy man, being left alone and figuring out how to take care of life’s situations by herself.  In the movie she fell prey to alcoholism and a brief affair.

Cecil Gaines had the pleasant personality of any person in service of a person in power, whether white, black or of any nationality. As an example of that same serving attitude, the telegraph operators in the movie Lincoln, although they were white, their response to President Lincoln was much the same as the butler in this movie was to the presidents.  They didn’t offer an opinion unless they were asked.  They did not interact in a familiar or intimate way with the President, but were respectful and courteous as fit their role.  Cecil Gaines acted the same way to his Presidents.


Like the average, uninformed moviegoer, I wrongfully assumed that The Butler was basically true because I hadn’t read the story or any facts that inspired the movie.  So on a Sunday, when I was not really blogging, I read the story behind the movie, the life of  Eugene Allen, who did serve in the White House for 34 years.  The Smithsonian has a documentary of several interviews of White House workers  which you can order for $14.95.  Here are several excerpts.

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The reviews of The Butler were different from other movie reviews I have read.  Some reviewers critiqued the display of politics in the movie.  Two reviews point out the diversion from the facts of Allen’s life as though it is a serious deficit.  In historical fiction the main character is almost always a composite person who could have existed along side of famous characters of the time. A movie goer should not expect the protagonist to be real.  Reviewers acted like it was their job to point out how unreal Cecil Gaines was, so that we, the unthinking audience, would not be confused.  Other reviews of movies based on best-selling books discuss how well the movie does or does not follow the book, and how well the actors portrayed their parts, so vivid in the book. See my review of The Great Gatsby.  In this case the book, The Butler A Witness to History was written after the movie by Will Haygood, who also wrote the original article that inspired film writer, Danny Strong.

The Butler and the Common Core Standards for Language Arts

As a teachers integrate Common Core ELA standards into history-social studies classes, I would recommend The Butler.  Historical fiction motivates students to do just what I did.  They enjoy the process of finding out what really happened.  In essence, studying history and the other social sciences is a sleuthing game.  What was life really like in ….?  What a great perspective to learn from someone who was in the White House longer than any President?  Even though California Standards do not take history past 1998, this book still matches most of the post WWII standards.

For other excellent reviews and an interview of Danny Strong, the screenwriter:

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue of You

I love most colors.  My house and clothes closet swell with many colors that reflect my love of variety and life.  I love contrast.  Blue might be my favorite hue because it is the color of both sky and water, it was my mother’s favorite color, my eyes are blue, and people compliment me when I wear blue.  I’m a pushover for compliments.

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My brother Randy and I took a cross-country trip, and saw many beautiful sights.  A picture that illustrates some of my favorite colors is one of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis where we attended when we were children.  All the colors are crisp.  I love red brick with white trim, dark green trees and perfect sky blue even without the clouds.


Here is one Chicago building I liked that displays many shades of blue. The color of aged copper  roof ornament contrasts with the reflective glass panes.  Set against a perfect sky, few pictures could show my favorite hues more beautifully.

One way to narrow down what you like is to throw out what you don’t like.  This next picture epitomizes the colors that depress me.

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I love green, but these green trees did not invite me to sit under them and have a picnic, nap, or a chat with a friend.  These sparsely clad autumn trees said, “You are welcome to hold on to me to keep from blowing away, but I may fall over, too!”  I love clouds, but these clouds are dirty gray, not even promising rain, just cold. Even the sand and turquoise water in Lake Michigan has a grayish cast. I don’t recommend visiting Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan in late October.

I hurried up to get this challenge post completed before the new one comes out tomorrow.  If you haven’t taken a look at other people’s posts, click here.

Wordless Wednesday: Pet Games

Kalev is not overly playful with toys.  She’s a lover.  She pulls your hand in with her paw, and puts it on her tummy to rub her.  She twists her body to get as close as possible.