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An Expedition to the Midwest (I)

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Jeremy and I spend about two weeks in the Midwest.  The main purpose was our annual trip to the convention of the  IAGSDC [the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs], held this year in Cleveland.  Jeremy and I met at the convention in Portland ten years ago, so this is an easy way for me to remember our anniversary.  About one thousand people usually show up, and we have a great time dancing–and visiting.  At this point, I probably spend more time visiting with friends than I do actually dancing.

Though, as one of these friends says, these are friendships that are “a mile wide and an inch deep”.  We see each other once a year, and in between usually don’t keep in touch.  That’s not to say that it isn’t a real pleasure to run into folk.  Partly, there is also the problem of being slightly distracted by yet another person walking by that I want to say hi to.  And, somehow, I seem to feel that if I don’t take some time right now, I won’t have another chance.

There’s always a big banquet, and that’s where Jeremy and I met, so I’m glad to reminisce.  At the conventions that I went to before Portland, seating at the banquet was always a scramble–the doors were kept closed during the set-up, then at a certain moment, everyone was admitted, and people wandered around trying to figure out where to sit, and with whom.  It was a zoo–and I wasn’t a huge fan–to say the least.  So, when I arrived at Portland, I found that the organizers had put up a map of the hall, and allowed people to make “advance reservations” at half the tables.  I said to myself, what a great idea–and I signed up for one of the tables as the first of twelve.  Shortly thereafter, a friend came along and signed up, thinking–I’ll sit here.  Then his ex signed up, with his “entourage”–so the table was full.  So Jeremy was a “friend of a friend of a friend”.  We were sitting too far from each other for easy conversation; but at desert, people tend to table-hop to visit other friends, and we took the opportunity to get acquainted.  Our connection took off from there.

But back to the present.  We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in the City Square district–not too far from Civic Center.  I think that we were both surprised at how much life there was in the evening–there were quite a few clubs with live music.

One thing that we had to get used to was the fact that midwestern portions at restaurants are, shall we say, generous.  In fact, one evening three of us went out and shared what was “officially” a dinner for two–it was plenty for all three of us.

There are a number of hotels clustered around a shopping mall that includes a “food court”.  Astoundingly, the food was both good and cheap.  And fresh–there were a number of establishments that prepared food to order.

But I most wanted to mention an amazing water feature.  In a long oval, there were between ten and twenty jets.  Each one generated an absolutely smooth column of water that arced back into the pool–almost a parabola of plexiglass.  There was also a sound system playing various selections, some classical, some country, some pop.  And, in an unpredicatable but seemingly choreographed way, a jet would suddenly stop, and the column of water seemed to leap from the jet into the pool.  It was a truly remarkable visual effect.  Jeremy and I made a point of visiting most days–besides, it was on the way to coffee.

Since we were “in the neighborhood” we also stopped in Bloomington, Indiana and Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.  More about them next time.  On top of everything else, it got Jeremy to two new states–Ohio and Indiana.

A quick apology

Monday, July 21st, 2008

To my regular reader–if any–I’m sorry that I let you down.  Partly, I was away, and I found it remarkably difficult to blog from out of town.  At this point, since I don’t have a laptop of my own to connect via WiFi, it turned into an expedition to find somewhere just to print boarding passes for flights.

The other thing that has taken me away from writing myself is getting lost in the blogosphere.  There is waaaay too much interesting stuff out there.

For the nerds among you, I cannot recommend too highly the site [see the blogroll].  The guys who run it are major statistics geeks; and their goal is to try to predict–as accurately as possible and with minimal bias–the results of the election in November.  Or rather, I should say elections, since they have recently added predictions for the Senate races.  I’m really impressed with their dedication, their transparency, their methodology, and their general geekiness [that’s meant for a compliment]. 

afghans for Afghans–personal knitting for global connection

Monday, June 16th, 2008
A week or so ago, I got an email newsletter from a local yarn shop that included an invitation to knit a rectangular shawl for women going into a maternity hospital in Kabul.  This is only one of the projects of [Continue reading this entry]

Naked Night at Blow Buddies

Friday, June 6th, 2008
Given the name, I suppose that you won't be surprised when I tell you that Blow Buddies is a sex club in San Francisco for men who want to find other men for, shall we say, oral enjoyment.  It's always ... [Continue reading this entry]

Other Countries, Other Customs–Obama and TUCC

Thursday, June 5th, 2008
When I was studying German in high school, I learned a proverb that has passed the test of experience: "Andere Laender, Andere Sitten"--Other Countries, Other Customs.  My version wouldn't be so much "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" ... [Continue reading this entry]

Entering the U.S. in Vancouver airport

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Well, I headed back to the U.S after my visit to Vancouver.  For people who haven't taken a plane from Canada to the U.S., the process is a bit unusual.  After checking in, I proceeded through duty-free shopping, and then ... [Continue reading this entry]

Van Dusen Garden in Vancouver

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
Jeremy and I spent a wonderful afternoon in Van Dusen garden.  This is a 55 acre garden [about 20 city blocks] in urban Vancouver--not downtown, a mostly residential area.  The garden was established in 1975, so ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Aquatic Center in Vancouver

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
When I'm traveling, I seek out certain home pleasures.  And one of those is swimming.  I'm here in Vancouver, visiting with Jeremy.  With a little research on the web, I was able to find a great place to swim--the Aquatic ... [Continue reading this entry]

One Activity, Two Cultures–Gay and Non-Gay Square Dancing

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
Jeremy and I are getting ready for our annual expedition to the gay square dance convention.  For those of you who haven't done any square dancing since seventh grade, this is meant for a refresher--and a discussion of some differences ... [Continue reading this entry]

HIV+ tourists are still banned from U.S.

Monday, May 5th, 2008
I'm getting ready for my annual trip to the convention of lesbian and gay square dancers.  This year it's the twenty-fifth annual convention, and it's in Cleveland [Touch a Quarter Century].  So, of course, I'm looking ... [Continue reading this entry]