Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Finally all home.

I haven't been posting for a few days because I was in Kansas at a conference. Many exciting adventures to tell you about. (Most of them are only exciting to me, though.)

(1) I was supposed to fly out of Pearson at 9:30am last Thursday to Detroit, and then on to Kansas City. Ended up leaving at 8:50am bound for Minneapolis. Thunderstorms in Detroit apparently made my plane late, and since I had a connection to make, they rerouted me through Minne instead. When I boarded the plane at Minneapolis---which looks like a really beautiful city from the air, and has an amazing airport---I discovered that I'd been booked into a first-class seat! So, I flew first-class, Minneapolis to Kansas City. Too bad, as the man beside me remarked, it was only an hour-long flight.

(2) There is free WiFi at the Kansas City airport. So, that's what I did while waiting for unknown (to me) JL to come pick me up. He's a friend of my friend EW, but we'd never met before. Good thing he sent me a photo beforehand, so I'd know what he'd look like!

(3) I stayed in Lawrence, KS with EW's parents. They are super-awesome. Lawrence, by the way, seems like a really nice town. An island of liberal blue in a sea of red, says JL. Cute downtown, and nice residential neighbourhoods with relatively inexpensive little houses. Lots of trees. The University of Kansas (KU) has a really beautiful campus. Very nice place to live, work, go to school, it seems.

(4) My paper went well. At least, I think it did. Yay!

(5) The other panels I saw were good, too. I mean, this is a serious academic conference, so it's not the most exciting thing sitting and listening to people read for 20 minutes, but it's interesting enough. I learned some stuff. Most importantly, though, I got to put names to some "famous" (for me) faces.

(6) I talked to all the profs and grad students I wanted to. All very nice and potentially good, useful contacts. I definitely need to go to this conference in later years. Collected a handful of business cards, which I will put to good use over the next few days following-up on some conversations.

(7) The prof. I was most excited about meeting did come to my talk. He then took me on a tour of campus, the town, and out a bit in the surrounding countryside. Very nice, down-to-earth man, if not super chatty. I'm a fan, for sure. And, I got to buy his last 3 books for 40% off! I figured I'd be able to get them with a conference discount, but I guess because the conference was at KU, and his books are published by the University of Kansas Press, the discount was double the usual 20% off. Awesome.

(8) American accents. Who know there were so many?! Not me. I was really quite amazed, though I guess I shouldn't have been. I especially like the older southern "gentlemen" I talked to. Very nice people, all. And everyone else I talked to was nice too.

(9) Got to talk for a long time with Juan Cole. Okay, mostly listen to him talk. He's very chatty, very knowledgeable, super-approachable, and not arrogant... though perhaps a bit of a name-dropper (in a good way). I really liked him, and didn't think he was at all like the man the neo-cons like to disparage. On a related note, I was surprised that it seemed like everyone at the conference was pretty liberal. I don't think there were any pro-Bush people there at all.

(10) I flew back to Canada on Monday with friend DS. Good times. This time I did head back through Detroit. Oh, and the Detroit airport is pretty neat too. There's this big tunnel with a huge art installation of sorts in it. The whole tunnel is filled with music and lights that change colour. I can't really explain it, but it was cool. And in the Northwest terminal there's an indoor train thing! We took it to speed down the terminal to our gate. I should mention too that I had chilly fries with cheese for dinner. I started to remark to DS that, "now I know why Americans are so fat!" until I realized that I was surrounded by Americans, so perhaps I shouldn't finish the sentence.

(11) When I got to Pearson... my luggage wasn't there! It was left behind in Detroit. But I've got it now. Which is why I'm "finally all home."


Anonymous said...

welcome home JP!

Rufus said...

Well, I think it's exciting. I've been wanting to go to some far-off conference, but I can never get the money together, and our department funding for conferences is like $20 and a tank of gas. Anyway, sounds like fun.

Anonymous said...

phew. you're back!

Anonymous said...

you only got to see the nice, new terminal in Detroit. Fly anyone else other than Northworst (which, by the way, you now know why they are called that) and you are stuck in the ghetto terminal!

E :) said...

Howdy! It was great to meet you but I'm sorry we didn't get to hang out more. Juan Cole was an interesting guy. He and I had some minor academic agreement about morality or something. Weird.