When I went to Chicago a couple weeks ago, it was for the first time. I don't count being at O'Hare or Midway Airports "being in Chicago".
On Tuesday, September 2, my colleague Amelia and I got a ride to the airport with the library director, Darrin. I think he was going to miss us; moreover, he'll miss the fact that we won't going to be doing library reference all week, and with one librarian on vacation that day, and another out sick, our departure left him bereft of his entire staff for the rest of that day.
This is the first time I had flown since the airlines - in this case, United - started charging for luggage. I suppose I could have gotten a couple smaller bags to squeeze on the plane, but I think it just clutters the overhead compartments. The guy checking in in front of me, coincidentally, was named Roger. Waiting for the plane, I see my friend Philip from church and my colleague from Kingston Arnaldo walking together, or so it seemed. Philip was returning from Kentucky while Arnaldo was taking our flight; they just happened to be proximate to each other. The flight itself was relatively uneventful, though there was a baby on board that was crying. I'd never taken Lydia on a flight, not because of her possible discomfort but because of the possible annoyance it might have on other passengers. Interestingly, the crying child didn't particular bother me, as it probably would have, say six years ago, as I just wanted to comfort him or her. (I didn't actually SEE the baby; it was only an audible experience. Someone else's subsequent flight, though, would be affected. A passport was found on the floor immediately behind me. Afraid I might have dropped mine, I started to claim it, only to notice that her photo didn't look anything like me. She had been on the previous flight. I hope she didn't need it for where she was going that day. One of those odd things is that many areas around airports look kinda sorta alike. Arnaldo, Amelia and I took a cab to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency, but as we departed, I'm saying, I want some CHICAGO architecture. Soon enough, I see some housing stock that have a particular look. Then, finally, the Chicago skyline. After we check in, Amelia and I go out for pizza with our colleague Mary. We end up going up storied Michigan Avenue several blocks before turning, on Superior, I believe, to go to Gino's East, where we have a spinach and cheese deep dish pizza. We should have gotten a small pie, for we had more than we could consume in a medium. Failing that, we should have taken the remainder to go, for on the return walk, we came across a number of people with signs indicating that they were hungry. The other notable feature of this walk is that we saw a number of buskers. I'm used to seeing the sax player or violinist playing for change, which I saw. But we also came upon, not one but TWO drummers, with full gear, right across the street from each other.
Wednesday, Amelia and I went to the conference room to prepare for our presentation. The guy in the room before us was named Roger, the only other Roger presenting at the conference - I checked - and I thought that was pretty weird. Amelia and I did our presentation on Blogging for Your SBDC, which went well. I did most of the blogging stuff, and she talked mostly about RSS feeds, Twitter and other "Web 2.0" technologies. After lunch, I attended a couple workshops.
Then I decided to tackle Chicago mass transit to get to the Cubs-Astros game. I went up to the brown line rather than going down to the red line, but eventually met up with Gordon. This has already been described here and here. Thursday, it rained all day. Went to four sessions, about which I'll describe eventually on my work blog and link here, broken up by the luncheon. That evening, I got into a three-hour conversation with Jim Poole of J.J. Hill Libraries about politics (May 1972 was a pivotal month for both of us; he was for Hillary in 2008; and lots more.)
Friday, I was up early so I took a walk down by the river. I love how this city is at times in several levels, particularly around Wacker Street. I also appreciated how the city provides access to the river, unlike what happened to Albany, where the highway cut off access to the Hudson, although some attempts have been made to lessen the damage. Went to a couple sessions and later got access to a computer so I could print out my boarding pass for the return flight. For lunch, I was wandering about when I came across the headquarters for the Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. The museum itself museum was seven blocks away, but there was a charming restaurant within the HQ building called the Backstage Bistro where one could look in to see them preparing the food. the drink of the day, the BackStage Pass, was cranberry juice, orange juice and Sprite. I'd made that myself, but using ginger ale; does this means I could be a restauranteur? That evening was the awards banquet. In the tradition of the event, every time the photo of New York's star performer, Myriam Bouchard, came up, the dozen of us yelled wildly. Saturday morning, Mary, Amelia and I went to the airport. It occurred to me that I probably could have taken public transportation if necessary, but I wasn't that bold. The flight back was fine until we got to about Buffalo, when the turbulence caused by Tropic Storm Hanna gave me a wretched earache. My mother-in-law, my wife and my daughter picked me up, and while I had a great time, I was glad to be home.