Monday, September 03, 2007


Body Worlds!

Edit: If you're just interested in the Body World synopsis, scroll way down.

My wife, J, and I arrived in Charlotte around 11:30 am on Saturday. I dropped her off at the SouthPark Mall (Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman were sadly nowhere to be found). She bought a couple dresses and a pair of sunglasses and a couple other things.

While she was spending our hard earned money, I headed over to Inner Peaks, a most excellent indoor rock climbing gym. They had so many different holds and different features on their walls. They had a big bouldering cave with some very nice roof sections. Some really tough routes, or "problems", and some not so tough ones. The one thing I wish our wall had at Clemson was a roof. We have a small cave but the decline is only about 30-35 degrees, where as a roof is completely parallel to the ground. Great upper body workout but foot placement is still very important. I always enjoy a good roof with big beefy holds aka jugs. Bouldered for about an hour, laughed at the little girl who was crying because "the green hold was too far away", she wanted to reach the top so bad but seeing as how she was 5 or so, just couldn't reach it. The woman from one climbing couple had a very nice Blue Jay on her shoulder. I told J about the lady's Blue Jay and she pictured some lady climbing with a bird sitting on her shoulder eating bird seed. I love the weirdo I married.

Left the gym, hit the hotel to check in and change shirts, then delved into the mall. Damn. This is definitely the "nice" mall of Charlotte. Burberry, Louis Vitton, Nieman Marcus, all the big names were there. There was a new one though that we hadn't heard of. Billy Reid. Apparently he's a designer from Florence, Alabama (near where an uncle lives) and has stores in Dallas, Houston, Florence and Charlotte. Atlanta might get one next. They had just gotten in their fall line and were very excited about it. His clothes struck me as manly and rugged yet refined. If I was going fox hunting or just relaxing around a fire with a book, his clothes are perfect for both. His store gave off a posh lodge vibe with the real magnolia branches and dark hard wood floors. Definitely a nice change from the Juicy store next door. Good luck Billy! I hope you do very well for yourself and help Alabama's image a bit in the process.
Picture of Billy's Houston store:

Pic and this quote stolen from Heather Staible who is the Shop Girl for the Houston Chronicle.
For men who might not want the total hipster look, but know better than to wear a short-sleeve shirt with a tie, Billy Reid in Highland Village is an upscale and decidedly Southern take on men's fashion. The high-quality clothing is functional and fashionable. It appeals to men who may not be too keen on a distressed blazer but would love a contemporary take on a jacket. Billy Reid is for the man who doesn't mind paying more for investment pieces and recognizes the value of a great-fitting pair of pants.

Haha! Haven't even mentioned Body Worlds yet. I'm getting there. Patience.

Back to the hotel, rested and then I realized that I had completely forgotten shoes. I was wearing flip flops and they won't let you autocross in flops, but luckily I need a new pair of shoes anyway so it was off to REI! I love love love REI so I won't get into how awesomely amazing REI is but I am very proud to be a member of the REI co-op. I picked up a pair of North Face Prophecy, a cross training shoe and the first North Face product I've ever purchased.
So far I really like them. They replaced my blue Adidas Climacools, which were good shoes and I loved the open ventilation unless it was raining and then the ventilation became water inlets.

Leave REI to head downtown and get dinner. We ended up at Arpa Tapas Wine Bar & Grill. We sat on the patio and had a nice breeze. There was a table numbering mix-up and we kept getting dishes we didn't order. The food we did order was very good although too big to be tapas in my unprofessional opinion. The roasted mushroom salad was pure fungi and delicious! I mentioned that it was my birthday dinner and they brought out a molten lava cake with a candle. Ooey gooey and super chocolatey deliciousness. They had an extensive wine list and I tried a Murphy's Irish Stout. A very crisp clean beginning with a darker finish. Very good beer.

Scroll down to the previous post for the scoop on all the autocrossing action.

Got back to the hotel about 8:15, hopped in the shower, talked with J a bit who was up at her weekday wake up time and then we both slept until about 11 am. Headed downtown, parked in the Discovery Place, DP, parking deck, $7, and then walked to lunch. We had a bit of trouble finding the DP but I saw the Rock Bottom Brewery and knew that was where lunch was happening. I had a good burger and J's club on foccacia with chipotle mayo was really really good. You could taste the chipotle before you even took a bite of the sandwich but it didn't overpower the meats and cheese. I think it was called the Brewmaster Club. Close, the Brewer's Club. We also chose the beer sampler. $5.50 and you get a small glass of all 7 of their beers. Their Iron Horse Stout was really good with a coffeish finish. Their Prospector's Pilsner made me wonder why anyone would ever drink a lager. This stuff had America and ball games all over it. They also had a seasonal Belgian white beer that had a hint of lemon that I could've drank all day, but apparently we snagged the last few drops of it for our taste.

Then it was off to the Discovery Place for Body Worlds! Hooray! The people in front of us paid $44 for 2 tickets where as I paid $50.60 to pick mine up at the same spot. (stupid internet and its surcharges, but at least we were guaranteed tickets) Wandered over to stand in line and looked around the Discovery Place. Standard really cool exhibits that are super hands on and kid friendly. I have loved these places ever since our grade school field trips.

As we were waiting inline I was trying to get a sense of the demographics. Mostly caucasian and that was about it. Men, women, a few kids, teens, us, Baby Boomers, grandparents, everybody. There was even a pregnant lady who I really wanted to be near when she saw the preserved pregnant lady, but I missed it.

We enter and it starts with a few innocuous bones. A femur split down the middle (that's the big one on top of your leg) and they had the smallest bones in the body, the anvil, stirrup and hammer. They were really small. All 3 might fit on your thumbnail if you place them right. Then they ease you into plastination with the muscular system. There's a guy standing. There's another guy with some of his muscles pulled back so you can see the others. They have some preserved parts from folks with hip replacement surgery and knee replacements. How they get metal and bone to coexist is beyond me. Then there's the Basketball Player. He's posed with a basketball and the sign tells you that he has the most developed muscles of anyone yet plasticized. His arms are pretty cut and his pecs are gorgeous and huge. It helps that his skin is gone so you can really check them out. You can see his bladder just above his penis and testes in the pelvic cavity. Yeah, there's a fair bit of nudity, a few boobs and quite a few penises.

From the muscles it's onto the nerves! Yay for nerve impulses! The cluster of nerves around the hands was really cool. They had one guy sitting playing chess and they had removed some of the spine so you could really see the spinal nerves, they look like a root system branching out, and see the sciatic nerve that goes from your pelvis down to your feet. I heard someone comment that they were only men so far and just as she said that we came across a lady with some muscles and nerves. She was standing next to the lung and heart display. They showed a normal sized heart and then an engorged heart. It was about twice the size. The sign explained that athletes can have bigger hearts but every other reason is an adverse medical condition. Some even grow up to 800 grams (1.75 lbs.)! All the measurements are in the metric system with the english equivalent in parentheses. The lungs were bigged and explained about the bronchi and bronchioles. Then they had smoker's lungs! Oh no! Black and grey and gross. The sign noted that "only" 20 cigarettes a day for a year is the equivalent of pouring 5 ounces of tar into your lungs. You try breathing under tar.

Then they had a separate section around a corner with an arrow marked "Prenatal development". Babies. They had fetuses from 4 weeks (very tiny) up to 33 weeks (normal baby sized). J's favorite was the 8 weeks fetus cuz you could see the tiny hands and toes. They used 2 liquids with differing densities to get the preserved fetuses to float in the middle of the container. One of my favorite chemistry tricks. Then as you round the corner, there she is. A sign before you entered explained that she had a serious disease and got pregnant. She passed on and they could not save her baby so it went with Mommy. The fetus was fairly large (11 inches) and had already rotated head down for an "easy" natural delivery. It was really cool seeing how the organs moved around and squished to accommodate this kid that just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Very good and educational mini-exhibit. I'll delve into what emotions were stirred in me in a later post. Yes abortion-talk will come into it.

You leave there and are greeted by the Winged Man. His muscles were spread out to expose other muscles and bones and it looks like he has wings.

Cardiovascular system! They had preserved the veins from a human head. There were so many! No wonder head wounds bleed like mad, you probably cut 40-60 veins in one fail swoop. It was really cool seeing all the thousands of blood vessels and how they travel throughout the body.

Wow! They had an entire horse! It was to showcase the difference in bone structure and the ole go-to for us humans: Look how small its brain is! The horse's lungs were gigantic. They left a strip of fur down the back with the tail. I believe they did this to hide the prominent anus of the horse. It was like a big tube. Gross.

They had cross sections of a fat (300 lb.) man and a skinny (120 lb.) man. The fat guy's organs were bigger and had to work harder, he had tons of fat and the sign said the fat guy died at 50.

They had some livers. A healthy liver. A fatty liver which was caused by immoderate alcohol use (binge drinking?), but said that if you cut back on the booze, it would heal itself and go back to normal. Then we had the liver with cirrhosis. It was tiny and bumpy and looked awful. I could just see the liver giving the middle finger to the alcoholic who did this to it. Also thanks to Google who offer suggestions for misspelled words cuz I was pretty far off on cirrhosis (cyrohisis) but it guessed right.

Then the endocrine system. Testes, kidneys, penises and I saw the prostate gland too. It was so small, how does it get cancer? Then I was wondering why those sadistic doctors have to jam a finger up your ass to inspect it. I found out why. They had a cross section of the pelvic area. The rectum was directly next to the prostate. Fuck, so that's why they go up there. I'm really not looking forward to prostate exams, if anyone was wondering.

They had a couple employees with models of lungs and such that you could touch and feel (no touching anywhere else in the exhibit). One kid commented that the lungs were soft and spongy. I guess I used to think they were like plastic bags that filled up with air too. Then as you're leaving they had the cardiovascular system of a rooster and a duck.

My fun fact that I didn't know beforehand was fraternal twins have 2 placentas and identical twins share a placenta.

Congrats to Dr. Gunther Von Hagens for coming up with the ingenious method of plastination. (They drain the body of fluids then drop it in acetone for about a week to get rid of any excess water, then they drop it into the plastic goo and then drop the pressure which forces the plastic into every nook and cranny and then you're plastic!)

Excellent exhibit. I might not take kids, at least not little kids, maybe middle school up. Very educational and shows what certain "lifestyle choices" can do to your body. I thoroughly enjoyed Body Worlds.

Then J made me drive home. She was in the hotel room all night and the guy who was in a parking lot for 8 hours and got 2 hours of sleep AND whose birthday it was had to drive home. Nice.

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