Thursday, August 27, 2015

The trip - first day back

I updated the blog slightly yesterday, but have quite a few posts to try to get to over the next week.

Traveling back to Toronto was generally a breeze, compared to the trips we had to make over the Rockies to get to Vancouver.  Now there was a snag in that the postal rates for packages to Canada has gone up yet again to the point where sending packages is simply uneconomical.  They wanted $90 to send this box, and Porter would take it as a checked "bag" for $25.  It's so crazy that high postage costs are undoing globalization at the micro-level.  I know quite a number of small merchants who simply can't afford to send packages outside the U.S.  I'm trying to cut down on my purchases of books and CDs (and am generally doing pretty well when compared to 10 or even 5 years ago) and the high shipping certainly helps.  If I was still in that mode of making major acquisitions I'd probably get a drop box in Buffalo and go down once a month.

Anyway, the house is still standing and in pretty good shape.  The main issue was that the dehumidifier stopped running (which I expected), so we'll have to let that run through the weekend.  I managed to do some laundry and get some basic groceries before we all crashed for the evening.

In terms of what I did on the trip, I visited 4 major museums (Albright-Knox, St. Louis Art Museum, Art Institute of Chicago and the Milwaukee Art Museum) and a bunch of smaller art museums/galleries in Chicago.  I probably can't go into great detail about each, but I'll post some impressions soon.  The kids came along to the Art Institute and the Milwaukee Art Museum.  We didn't have time in Chicago, but we did the children's art projects in Milwaukee.

There's a lot going on in my daughter's picture, including several flowers and clouds (I think) and the small animal to the right is actually a cat.

My son's picture is supposed to be dark and foreboding.  I think he said there was a dragon at the centre.

This is mine actually.  It is much closer to what I had wanted to go for in my artwork for the house, though it would have been more of a red wash, but I couldn't get the paint to cooperate.

In addition to all this art, I saw two plays (it was supposed to be 3 but one sort of fell through) and presented a paper at the American Sociological Association and went to 2 receptions to catch up with some old friends.  (Still, this will probably be my last ASA meeting unless they travel up to Toronto or Montreal.)

I finished Moby Dick the morning that my wife and I saw Lookingglass put on their version of Moby Dick.  To simplify matters they compressed the three mates to two (though only Starbuck had any meaningful lines) and the three (actually four!) harpooners down to two and renamed one.  Then they renamed Pip, which seemed completely unnecessary, and slightly changed the story of how he ended up in the water and was rescued.  They also had one of the sailors fall from the mast and drown, which didn't happen that way in the book.  Generally, things were amped up a bit more than absolutely necessary, but on the whole it was an interesting production and quite gripping at times.

I got through two more books on my TBRD pile (only making 100 pages into Rose Macauley's The Towers of Trebizond, which I obviously didn't care for).  I also read Robert Walser's Jakob von Gunten and John Litweiler's Mojo Snake Minuet, which is an alternative history set in Chicago where Africans colonized Europe and North America.  While religion and politics are turned on their head, somehow the jazz musicians still practiced their craft much as they did in the 1950s and 1960s.  Also, Chicago has the same street names that it does in real life.  Strange...  What it really reminds me of is one of those Chester Himes detective novels set in Harlem.

As it happens, my reading list is about to get completely upended.  I inadvertently had a new play Constellations put on hold and it was sent to me on the day before I was scheduled to go on the trip.  To avoid a fine, I had to have the librarian suspend my holds, but then they all activated at the same time (yesterday).  Despite trying to put most of them back on inactive, 12 books are being sent to me all at the same time!!!  I've looked through the list and 3 I'll just return right away and then put back on hold.  I'll then do some triage and work through the ones that are in demand and on hold (and thus can't be renewed) -- and of course some I may find are not really of interest after all.  I don't know quite how many I'll get through, but probably somewhere between 6 and 9.  It's an annoyance certainly, though not the end of the world.  And on that note, I do have to get ready for work,* so I'll circle around and get into details of the trip later on.

* I really could use a vacation from my vacation, though I think I'll be able to relax a bit over the weekend.

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