Monday, July 31, 2017
Portland Bound!

The airport has been remodeled since we last flew in 2014. Three big TV screens face me, all tuned to sports stations. Classic Rock is on the radio.

"Hotel California" may be a mythical place. "The Kennedy School", however, is not. It used to be a school in Portland's early history. Now it, and one building addition, is a hotel. The last time I visited Portland was in 2011, with Julia for a Mensan convention.

This time is a solo trip, but I will soon meet up with friends I've mostly known via the web. The last solo trip was in 2012, to NYC. A lot can happen in five years...

I know I will return a changed woman. The best kind of travel always does. Memories! I will have new memories, to recall during mundane Monday mornings or any time I want to relive them...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Pompeii Exhibit

I sit very sleepily in the Courtyard restaurant, which is the main restaurant. It used to be the school's cafeteria. I don't think the children enjoyed a decor anywhere near as nice as this, though they would have still had the sun streaming in through the tall windows:

How did I earn my sleepiness? I had for today's activities two choices: OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) with its POMPEII exhibit or the Portland Art Museum. Which to pick first? What would I most miss were I not to visit?

OMSI opens 1/2 hour earlier than PAM. I did see PAM back in 2011 when Julia and I visited. My camera did me a dirty and only gave me 640x480 pixel size photos for most of the visit, so I could definitely revisit with a better behaving camera.

But I'd never been to OMSI. More importantly, the POMPEII exhibit sounded fascinating. So I had the hotel desk clerk call me a cab and off I went.

Good choice! I started the day's visit with an IMAX movie, "Dream Big", about various engineering feats around the world. I recognized the voice of the narrator, but couldn't name him: Jeff Bridges!

From a Turkish lady architect figuring out how to design earthquake proof buildings, to a young woman who decided to go into benevolent projects, rather than just get rich, it's being made clear from the start that engineering isn't just for middle-aged rich men. The people in remotes villages sure appreciated their bridges.

Next, they featured a high school team from my own state of Arizona (Carl Hayden School), and their attempts to build an underwater robot. They didn't have the money those from the fancy colleges like MIT did, yet their robot, nicknamed "Stinky" for the smelly glue which held its pipes together, received first prize. I felt so proud of them, tears came to my eyes.

Next was how to design a really, really, really tall skyscraper in one of the world's most populous cities (Shanghai?). The architects twisted the building's walls so winds could be safely deflected.

Nexr, onto POMPEII. Wow! I'm so glad I went. So many bronze portraits and deity statuary survived in perfect shape after they were cleaned of volcanic debris. One example here:

Male Bust
Bronze and glass, 1st century BCE
Pompeii, House of the Citharist

(From the info card): "Two busts, one male and one female, were found together at the House of the Citharist and likely portray the owners of the house, belonging to one of the oldest and most influential families in Pompeii. We cannot be sure whether this couple was still alive when this portrait was displayed in the atrium, but we do know that it would have been important to be lifelike. Roman portraits were made for reflection, and sculptors were to capture a person's character."

They really showed how the people lived. Their cookware, even colanders, looked so similar to ours, except for more elaborately designed holes:

Bronze, 1st century BCE

(From the info card): "Colanders were abundant in Pompeiian households. The geometric patterns punched into the bowl provided a decorative element, as they were stored on kitchen wall."

Even their tools, such as a compass, looked similar.

After we viewed all those pieces, we went upstairs, where there was a dramatic movie that showed the timeline of the earthquake and volcano destruction. Somehow they made the floor shake, which I felt keenly, as I was sitting on the carpet.

After the movie, they opened the doors to the final part of the exhibit, the plaster casts of the people felled by the volcano, I didn't photograph the sad mother and child, nor the man caught permanently in the throes of agony. They also had a cast of an unfortunate dog who had been tethered to his masters' house. The brass studs from his collar survived. They were there in the plaster cast.

I felt like crying. So suddenly life can be taken from us.

When I exited the touring exhibit, OMSI had a small display about when Mt. St. Helens blew in 1980. They had copies of people's letters describing their experiences. One woman's friend had just sold her property that was at the foot of this mountain. I bet she was relieved. Fifty-five or possibly as high as sixty people were killed in its eruption, but if the eruption had occurred one day later, when loggers would have been at work, rather than on a Sunday, the death toll would almost certainly have been much higher. (Source: Wikipedia)

Next, I ambled through an exhibit of the growing fetus. The examples were displayed so much more nicely than they did in the 70s at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. Preservation techniques have really improved since then.

When I exited this exhibit, I realized I was feeling rather pooped. I gave into the weariness and had the concierge call a cab for me.

My chicken caesar salad has revived me enough to have a nap!

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