Monday, March 19, 2007

Weekend at the Museum

This last weekend Mrs. Spiffy and I dropped the kids at her sister's and traveled 3 hours and one time zone into Chicago to see the Body Worlds 2 exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. She's a nursing student, and her anatomy professor highly recommended the exhibit to help with visualizing muscle groups in living (heh) color. The exhibit was an invitation to explore the philosophy, art, and science of anatomy. Very well done. It was an adventuresome trip, and before I get on with it I must say that while I lurve my Buick, it sucks large that I couldn't play my new OK Go (in-ca-redibly cool) CD in it. Stinkin' car came without a CD player. I wrangled one from the car dealer (he handed me a factory deck from a cluttered broom closet, said I could install it myself), but it didn't fit. I found this out after I had removed the entire dashboard. So we were reduced to finding strange stations in a strange town and listening until they got fuzzy or played something irritating. I get to Chicago at least twice a year; there's always something interesting going on, and try to hit the museum at least once a year. Fascinating place, all kinds of stuff to look at and read and stand in awe over/ under/ near/ of. We spent a few hours in the Body Worlds exhibit, and the rest of the day in the general admission areas. It was more crowded than any mall at Christmas, a thriving throng of living, breathing humanity staring in wide-eyed wonder at plasinated, departed humanity. The learning, people, oh the learning. It was immense. Things that would have bored me senseless as a youth were leaping out and fascinating me right upside the head. Stats like this: 26: The length of your digestive system in feet, from tongue to... end. 219 MPH: The speed at which signals travel the nervous system 2-3: The weight of the average brain, in pounds (about 1% of my mass) 20%: The amount of your blood supply required by the brain Rows and rows of well-lit, glass topped tables housed slices and bits and whole organs. Diseased parts were on display next to healthy specimens. The inside of a young, healthy aorta, about 18" long - slippery shiny smooth - compared to crotchety old aorta, sporting what looked like the frozen results of a rice krispies sneeze. Healthy livers next to the fatty, yellowing liver of a moderately heavy drinker, next to the dried-out coffee soaked sponge of a cirrhosis liver. Of course, they had a section on lungs and the effects of smoking. There was a video display with Yul Brenner's last will and testament. It was a one minute loop of him explaining how, since he got sick, he wanted to say one thing: Don't smoke. There was a clear plastic case where smokers could deposit their last packs. It was half full at 11 AM. One table displayed the difference between a 300 pound person's midsection and that of a 120-pounder. Dramatic, to say the least. Mr. 300 only made it to 50, his poor heart couldn't squeeze the blood through his mass and gave up on him. There were lots of very cool displays. Must be seen to be believed. The most interesting to me were the Exploded Man, which had an entire body expanded away to reveal how things fit together (about 12 feet tall, suspended from thin wires. Extremely striking visually), and then one where a man was beside himself. It had his entire musculature standing in a walking pose. Right behind and a little to the side, was his very own skeleton. Teeth fixed in that permanent skeleton grin, eyeballs completing the happy smile. I was a bit worried that I'd be a tad freaked out by all the explicit gruesomeness. It was actually not a problem, except for a few parts. They had a guy hanging in a closet. In slices. Body parts don't bother me, and the the exposed, denuded muscles and whole-body displays were well done and fascinating. But this guy, in his grey-complected, closed-eye segmentedness really got to me. The 2 inch slab that contained his face looked peaceful. Alas, there is more to post but I shall save it for another day. 10 hours of mind-draining work later and I'm only 1/3 of the way through this. TTFN

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