Last Quebec City Day

Just a couple of observations before launching mostly into more enthusiasm
about museum technology.

Sloooowly, more people take my French somewhat seriously. Everyone
knows immediately that I’m a dilettante. But some — -mainly young
people — -will make the effort of speaking French and waiting for my
irritatingly halting responses. Others just answer in English and will
do so, even though I’m getting more pig headed about staying with
French. It’s so important to give people a chance to hone their
linguistic skills.

Anyway, I was out of cash. Entirely. Because of my willingness to help
out keeping money from this building by paying cash:

Ministry of Finance: keeping revenue from them is why I’m out of cash

So, I’m in the bank that has the best exchange deal when I’m
approached by two men asking me in scandalously atrocious French
whether I have change for their five dollars. So irritating was their
French that I immediately switched to German. You could place them as
coming from the Northern part of Germany as they spoke French. I felt
rather superior. I am, actually. Northern Germany! Hoititoytie ‘high’
German. Not that I’m a language bigot.

Well, we all proceeded to the inside of the bank because I likewise
needed fives for a twenty to leave as tips. They and I engaged
neighboring tellers with our exchange requests.

So eager was I to impress the Germans with my superior travel
preparedness and worldliness that I accidentally asked my clerk for
four twenties in exchange for my twenty. She politely declined,
explaining that this exchange would not work.

Once the German rabble had their coins, and left I tried to rescue the
situation by ingratiating myself to their teller while mine was
getting fives in back.

“Ah, les touristes!”

I exclaimed in assumed fellow exasperation with him. And again, I lost
the high ground. His answer (in French!):

“We are all tourists on this earth,”

Damn. Touche.

Museum of Civilization

I picked two exhibits in the Museum of Civilization: “Cats and Dogs,”
and “Nanoparticles.” I had dismissed the first as likely
frivolous. But was I ever wrong. While I definitely learned, what I
loved was the exhibitors’ attention to children.

Exhibit 1:

Run slalom! Run as fast as a dog…if you can! And why not try it on all fours? Note the comparison chart at the goal.

A sub-second stop watch allowed kids to run through this slalom and
compare their speed with that of dogs. An ingenious subterfuge for
draining some energy before the exhibit.

Next: a game

Kind of like the game “Sinking Ships?”

You and your partner each have picture cards showing dogs of different
breeds. You get to ask each other questions, thereby eliminating some
of the breeds that your partner must not have in their collection,
based on their answer. The job is to guess the breeds on the cards of
the partner.

Next, a true/false game:

The answer to the first two questions:

The next exhibit allowed you to pick example movie snippets of animal

Lastly, you could see a 3-minute movie from three perspectives: human,
cat, and dog. The action was a woman reading on a couch in the
presence of a dog and a cat. The woman takes the dog for a walk; they
encounter another dog, and go home. If you run the movie from the dog’s
perspective, only very few colors are perceived, but you hear the dog
whistle. Smells are shown as vapor rising from a spot on the ground.

Similarly for the cat: but more color, and other differences. Very,
very interesting and engaging.

The exhibit did not at all favor these pet accessories in their plaques.


I won’t go into the details of the information itself, though what was
most interesting was all the examples of naturally occurring nano
particles. Including these luminescent butterflies:

Luminescence stems from naturally occurring nano particles.

What was special, though, was that you got to vote on seven questions
about nano particle policy, such as one shown below.

On entry you took a duck from the pool, and placed it on a sensor to
register your initial attitude towards nanotech: Yes, or no.

At the exhibit entrance: take a duck, and place it on a sensor on one side of the room or the other. To the right if you are generally pro nanoparticle development. Else to the left.

The questions were posed throughout the exhibit, and you placed your duck
on the spot that corresponded to your answer.

You place your duck on the sensor that corresponds to your opinion. The spot lights up.

I could not quite figure out how the final tally worked. I believe
they weighted your answers to determine whether you were swayed from
your initial answer by the exhibit. A wall sized display summarized
answers from all visitors.

Tally of policy opinions changing with visitor input. Of course, I saw one kid work with four ducks…

I’d love to build such exhibits.

The Lies

Remember my art historian at the Ursuline Museum calling the Place de Royale “a lie?”

The “Lie”: Place Royale was destroyed by the British. These buildings are reconstructed. Still. What the hell, right?

I practice telling who might be Jewish, based on appearance. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes not. I’m fairly confident that this nurse-to-be on the cover of a 1953 nursing text is not. (I know…an odd pastime)

Not Jewish

An OCD’s Dream

I have problem with California’s pedestrian crossing buttons. The ones you press to get the pedestrian light to turn for you at an intersection? Do you know how many finger tips have touched those buttons? I always wait for someone else to press them, or I try to use my knuckle to push. But many buttons are protected from rain by a metal dome that allows access only by a finger tip. Those are the worst. But after the touch-free public toilet flusher, voila! The touch-free pedestrian light request facility:

Touch-free pedestrian light change request installation. I totally love it. The most freeing invention since the accessibility door opening button, which you can operate by using your elbow to avoid touching the door handle.

No Reasonable Map!

I tried in vain to get a normal map of the old parts of this city. Is it too much to ask? Some squares? A few letters at the top; numbers along the side? An index? Look at this “map”:

No squares. Most of the streets missing. No alpha index…
I had almost no mental trouble crumbling this one. A little bit of anxiety. But I hated this map.

Street Music

I’m not a musician, and have zero claim to expertise. But this violin player impressed me. He had some pieces with individual pizzicato pulls interspersed with passages like the ones in this video. He said playing in the street during the summer works for him. He composes, sells his CDs in the street, gets known. In the winter he teaches violin.

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