And the touch of a world that is older
So there were stresses and problems and sacrifices in getting organized for the conference. One was that the conference didn't give strong signs of being organized. bunny_hugger particularly had a very hard time getting things like a reservation at the conference-recommended hotel. She had to resort to nagging the conference organizers to get a confirmation code for the reservation, the sort of thing that really ought to have been automatic and really ought to have gone through the hotel rather than the conference anyway. She doesn't like nagging, arguing, reasonably, that people ought to do the things a job ordinarily requires. I'm not fond of nagging either, but I accept how it's sometimes what the world requires to work the way it should, and can fit it into my normal daily compulsions. But she got that worked out, ultimately, on her own. We could feel reasonably confident that when we got to Mexico City there would be somewhere we could sleep.
Another stress: paper-writing. The best that I could do to help was fetch books from the Michigan State University library when bunny_hugger needed them. Also to offer my confidence that of course she could edit the paper from the previous conference, and write enough of a paper to present at this one. I'm not good at offering my confidence in her paper-writing abilities, and I'm not at all sure I made anything better by insisting she'd have it done. She did finish at least enough of a paper to have something to present, but without any confidence that it was enough. People at the conference seemed to like her presentation, but I get to see it without experiencing the dread of writing.
A sacrifice: my parents. We had loosely figured to visit my parents over the winter break at school. But the break between semesters was already unusually short. And we just couldn't think where there'd be a week to spare to visit. We thought briefly about whether I might visit my parents alone, but that didn't really appeal. My parents understood, and are glad to have us whenever we feel like we can visit, and that's fine. Maybe we'll have the time this summer. Or if work ever wants to see me again I can piggyback a visit there on the work trip.
A minor problem: what there might be for me to do. The conference organizers were insistent that there just weren't any of Mexico City's big tourist attractions in the area, and there wasn't a subway station nearby, and there weren't any bus lines near the hotel (this last was wrong), and the hotel Internet was rated as ``abysmal''. And I don't speak Spanish. bunny_hugger warned me there might be nothing for me to do for a week. I was fine with this, and got ready a bunch of paperback novels I hadn't read and e-Books I hadn't read and podcasts I could listen to. If I was to spend a week doing nothing ... great! You know how long it's been since I had an extended time not doing stuff?
Another problem: our cell phones wouldn't work in Mexico. How would we get in contact if we needed to? We're hardy folk, doing without phones in places like amusement parks because for goodness' sake so what if we have to wait for our rendezvous at the Super Round-Up? But we'd probably not be in the same area. Also our mi-fi device, tied to primitive US cell networks, wouldn't work. We toyed briefly with the idea of getting disposable phones at the Mexico City airport. I've never had a burner phone and found the idea thrilling. But this was too muh work and we figured to make do with the old-fashioned way of just not worrying about maybe going hours without being able to speak to the other.
Something or other: I needed to buy some more pants. Well, I normally wear stuff until it has too many embarrassing holes in it. And on doing some careful counting I figured I didn't have quite enough pants to last the whole trip. So I'd have to wear clothes several times (not my favorite thing) or do laundry (well, if I have nothing to do all day, I could do that in the hotel laundry) or buy some more. I rationalized this as, well, I was going to have to get more clothes anyway. I got cargo pants, of course, because I have a great number of goods which I must transport to and from exotic climes.
A minor problem: how to feed the fish while we were away? We considered asking a friend to check in. But it's an imposition. And it's hard to convince someone not to overfeed fish which, in the wake of our nitrate spike, was especially important to do. Theoretically goldfish should be fine going without any food for a week, but this was eight days, maybe nine if weather made trouble for us getting back. There are such things as timed feeders. But when they break, it's too easy to dump a week's worth of food at once, to the fish's ultimate regret. We finally got some spinach leaves and hooked them to clothespins, dropping them in and giving the fish plants that they could --- and, eventually, slowly did --- nibble on.
A problem we wish we had: housing Columbo. We'd always left our rabbits with bunny_hugger's parents before. But we'd gotten to where we expressed his bladder daily, and he was going on melixocam for what we supposed was just a general pain, and we weren't sure it was fair to impose these medical chores on them. Especially with her mother recovering from that back trouble yet. We were talking seriously about boarding Columbo with the vet's, as troubling as boarding can be for a rabbit. We didn't have an answer when that terrible December Monday took away the problem we'd rather have.
One more problem: we were going to be away for a week-plus in January. What if it snowed? An unshoveled sidewalk would advertise how we were gone. Plus it's bad for the neighborhood to leave sidewalks unshoveled. I take pride in getting the whole sidewalk clear and as dry as possible. The alt-weekly had run, forever, ads promising ``Reasonable'' rates for snow-shoveling in winter, lawn care in summer, from someone named Dave. I called Reasonable Dave to see if we could put him on retainer. But Reasonable Dave, it turns out, hadn't advertised in months, and nobody responded to the voice mail I left with them. We had to just hope there wouldn't be a significant snow, or that if there were that the guy on the street who sometimes drives his plow down the sidewalks comes around. That wouldn't obscure that our driveway and walk were un-shoveled and the car had snow on it, but at least it would mean people could walk past our house. The last forecasts before we left were for no snow and days poking above freezing, and that seems to have been what happened. We don't know whatever became of Reasonable Dave.
Trivia: The Works Progress Administration built 16 new playgrounds in Flint, Michigan, in 1935. An estimated 54,000 children used them each week.
Source: Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Bruce A Rubenstein, Lawrence E Ziewacz.
Currently Reading: The Hungry World: America's Cold War Battle Against Poverty in Asia, Nick Cullather.
PS: Did The Greatest Generation Hosts Get As Drunk As I Expected? A check-in on a post about a podcast.
PPS: Some more of the VFW.
Detail of the outlane and lower playfield of Williams's 1989 Bad Cats (meow mewmew meow), with a heap of Python Anghelo artwork. The game's got a cartoony cats-and-mice mayhem theme and while you might feel awful for that cat with the paw caught in the trap, man is that some expressive standing by the mouse beside it.
bunny_hugger working out how she'll swipe the classics pinball trophy.
After the tournament we were at liberty to play anything of interest, and there's a lot there. Here, staff opens up and gets unstuck something on one of the woodrail games, 1950s pinball tables that have the grammar of pinball all weird and wrong.