Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weekend Links

Sports (Awesome Things)
It's March Madness. We are about to finish the best 4 days of college basketball of the year. 

Nigel Hayes and his Wisconsin teammates are fascinated by the NCAA stenographer (This is really funny)

You want to see Roy Williams in a mosh pit? Of course you do.

The Bearcats might do one thing better than Kentucky (via Eric)

Keep a One-Sentence Journal to be Happier (Eric got me a journal like this for Valentine's Day! I am enjoying it a lot.)

Whatever Happened to GeoCities, Lycos, Netscape & Other Giants of Web 1.0? (I had soo many GeoCities websites. I have tried to go back and find them in the past few years - via the Wayback Machine, which is the greatest thing ever - but have no idea under what directory they were under.)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kansas City, MO: Power & Light District

The hotel I stayed at in Kansas City for the conference I was at was just a couple of blocks away from the Power & Light District. One night I had some time after dinner and went exploring!

It's an aptly-named area of town -- there are lights everywhere.

All the restaurants and bars are lit up, as well as the theaters! I love old-school theaters like this (or any building) with bulb lights under the awning.

This is a grocery store - Cosentino's Downtown Market. Usually on trips I try to bring back some kind of souvenir, and especially since Eric wasn't with me on this trip, I wanted to bring him back something. KC is known for BBQ, and Eric likes BBQ, so I picked up some barbeque sauce (Arthur Bryant's and Jack Stack's) here. I also got us some local beers. I didn't have time to go on any brewery tours so this was the other option. I picked up Boulevard's Irish Ale and Free State's Copperhead Pale Ale; both are pretty good. (I stopped here on my way after exploring, since I was walking a few blocks back to my hotel, and beer is heavy.)

The Sprint Center is a UFO of glass, and looks even cooler at night than it does during the day.


I didn't really go anywhere except the market (I'm not much for going by myself into restaurants/bars at this point in life) but it looked like people were having lots of fun. There were  We were in this area for lunch both days of the conference, and during the daytime this area is also nice! For lunch we at one day at BRGR - specializing in burgers, of course - and the other day at Drunken Fish, a sushi place. Both were good!

If you are looking for some place to go/eat/drink and are nearby, check out the Power & Light District! I didn't make it to any other areas of town except the River Walk area (where the Steamboat Museum is; we also ate at the Blue Nile Cafe one night for dinner in that area), so I can't vouch for those, but this was a fun place to spend some time walking around (both evening and afternoon).

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weekend Links

See Your Favorite Movies Reimagined as 8-Bit Retro Video Games (Awesome. Completely awesome. Now if you'll excuse me, I need my GameBoy and time to sit and play Zelda and/or Pokemon for several hours.)

Crayon Sculptures (via Kottke)

Florida Company selling "new" 1960s Ford Mustang (Yes please.)

Photo Finish (From NCAA Magazine, a really nice article about a photographer who's been photographing the Final Four for 60 years.)

D1 Sports Costs & Revenue in Indiana (The Indy Star puts out this article every year showing the breakdown of the various public D1 schools in Indiana cost- and revenue-wise for sports. Interesting stuff. Only public schools have to disclose this information.)

How Your Name Affects Your Success (My name matches up not at all with my location, is hard to say and even harder to spell, gets me TSA-searched almost every time I fly... yeah, names definitely matter. But I'd like to say that my list of names to not ever name anyone include all the ones on the most-successful list, so sorry to my future kids.)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Kansas City, MO: Steamboat Arabia Museum

Last week I went to a conference in Kansas City, Missouri. The conference was pretty good but sometimes I need to get away from really large groups of people for a while -- and go take a walk or be by myself. Before heading to KC I did some research about what I might like to see there if I had a chance. I've never actually been to KC besides driving through (Eric and I once drove to Los Angeles from Indiana and we stopped in Independence, but not KC) and had no idea what was even available to me.

I found the Steamboat Arabia Museum listed as being a great attraction and, well, it's something to do with boats, lost treasure, and finding lost treasure, so I had to go check it out. It was about a mile north of the convention center where the conference was held and took me about 20 minutes of city walking to get there.

Upon entering the building where the museum is, you're greeted with a life size turning paddle wheel. You can see this part even if you don't want to go into the museum (like if you're in the River Walk area and just want to pop in for a minute).

The wheel is cool. I have always wanted to take a trip on a steamboat, mostly for the wheels, but have yet to do so.

The entrance to the museum is in the interior of the building, in the museum's gift shop. 

I entered the shop just as the next tour group was about to take off, so I quickly paid the entrance fee (not exactly cheap, but I felt it was worth it, especially since it was the only tourist attraction I'd be able to see during my trip) and joined the group. Two other people were on the tour, but I saw several more people wandering around the museum.

Our tour guide was awesome. It was apparent that she knew pretty much everything about the Arabia and its excavation. She also had a great presentation style, which (as a former tour guide and theater kid) I appreciate.

So what is the big deal with the Arabia? Well, she hit a snag and sunk in 1856 in the Missouri River near KC loaded with over 200 tons of brand new merchandise -- including 400 barrels of Kentucky's best bourbon -- headed out West to the frontier. And she sunk so quickly that virtually nothing except the people (all of them!) was able to get off board before she was gone underwater.

During the years that followed, some people tried to find her, mostly to get the bourbon. But it was expensive and a lot of work to get a 171 ft steamboat like the Arabia up out of the Missouri River. Then, in the 1980s, a local KC family and some of their friends heard about the Arabia and decided to dig her up. The men involved each had a special skill set to bring to the table (excavation, refrigeration, etc) and they decided to go for it.

After doing extensive research, they located the Arabia in a cornfield near the river (rivers move), found her exact location, and dug 45 feet down. The hole was bigger than a football field. They had to install several huge water pumps, running constantly, to keep the hole dry.

And when they found her, they preserved her. Even more research went into preserving the boat and its contents (remember this was before the Internet as we know's 1988).  This whole piece was literally showered with a special preservative to keep the wood from shrinking in the air. It sounded like a fascinating process and our guide told us all about it.

But besides bringing up the ship, the men found those 200 tons of brand new merchandise -- buried treasure. The ship had sunk so quickly that almost everything on board had been completely preserved. The fabric was still wearable, including the silk. There were hundreds of pairs of shoes that we could still wear today. Even the jarred pickles were still good (they tried them!).

It is the biggest and best preserved haul of pre-Civil War artifacts in the world.

I would have been freaking out about such a find. I was kind of feeling it in the museum, too, even though I hadn't been the one to find any of this stuff. One of my main goals from childhood - and okay still now - was to find some kind of journal/diary/artifact of some kind from a long time ago. This kind of thing would have been a dream.

The artifacts are set up general-store style, which was an awesome display idea. I think the tour guide told us they have cleaned and preserved about 20% of the haul so far -- and they'll be cleaning and preserving the rest of it for dozens of years to come.

What they have on display is awesome. Here are a ton of pictures:

The perfume smelled pretty good. This is a replica of one of the actual perfumes from the ship.

One of the coolest parts of the museum is that you can see someone actually working on preserving artifacts.

This lady was working on preserving shoes. She has to keep them wet (like they were for over 130 years) so the material won't disintegrate or set funny. Then she stitches them back together. The rubber held up underwater, but the cotton stitching didn't, so the museum is restoring all of these hundreds and hundreds of shoes. Awesome. Once she's done with that, they go in the deep freezer (machine above) to very carefully dry out so they can be displayed.

This is the actual snag that sunk the Arabia. It was found with the boat when she was dug up. The Missouri River was well known for being hazardous, especially from these snags (thanks to logging along the river), and we were told there are over 400 other ships sunk in the river around KC.

This was another great part of the museum! The engine was brought up and you can push a button and watch it "work" - the pistons move.

One of the best parts about the visit was that one of the men who actually dug up the Arabia was there the same day I was. He even came by our tour group (all three of us) to visit after we watched the movie section of the tour. It felt like a celebrity entered the room, and he was very nice and talked a bit more about the dig.

If you are ever in KC and like steamboats, history, or old stuff, I would definitely recommend this museum. I only had a couple of hours and blew through it, but I could have spend half the day there at least.