April 24th, 2018

krazy koati

Miss the Start, Miss the End

Wednesday in Mexico City was the one day bunny_hugger couldn't possibly skip the conference, even were she inclined. Not without a mass of trouble. It --- the last day of conference events --- was the one her talk was scheduled for. In the afternoon. When she first saw the schedule she had regrets, since why couldn't she have gone to the state pinball championship on Saturday and then flown in to town Sunday or Monday? Many people did attend only part of the conference. The disadvantage of a seven-day academic conference is it's harder for people to attend the whole thing.

An for that, it was the one day I was determined not to miss. I love seeing bunny_hugger giving her conference talks. I don't get enough chances to see her doing her stuff. Which, yes, didn't mean that I was particularly tempted to go to other days at the conference. Well, I mean, I can follow along some of what they're talking about. But it is specialists talking about their specialty, and that's hard for an outsider to jump into. I don't want to spend all my time listening while leaning over for bunny_hugger to give me the prerequisites.

Also we had to get going early. I take a long while to get going in the morning, even when rushed. And we had to be there for the conference bus. There were three buses leaving over the hour before the proceedings started, but we're not courageous enough to wait for the last one even if it means twenty more minutes' sleep. The bus did putter down the route I was expecting, down the expressway that I'd gotten really good at walking along and turning onto another expressway, the one passed just before getting to the pyramid of Cuicuilco. Then heading north just a little bit and right onto the campus. Just opposite the Olympic Stadium and, at that, near the Olympic Village that was just opposite the expressway at Cuicuilco. Also where the taxi driver bringing me back from the Frida Kahno museum had stopped to point out a tower. So the campus was where I had concluded it was. And I could at least have walked to some point in it, although the particular spot where the conference was would be a mystery to me.

bunny_hugger knew the way, and led through a twisty maze of three- and four-story buildings with hallways exposed to the elements that reminded me a lot of the National University of Singapore campus. This would be a recurring thing; a lot of Mexico City made me think of what things were like in Singapore. The size and seemingly endless duration of the city made me think of the urban corridor in North Jersey, as well, so that for all that the place was one I'd never been to and never expected to be to, it felt curiously home-like right away.

So we got to one of the big lecture halls for the keystone address for the day. This would be delivered by someone over the Internet, so the talk was preceded by a lot of nervous-looking people walking back and forth and checking that things are plugged in. The speaker was a person from Spain who, if I'm not mistaken, addressed the gathering in Spanish. So there would be individual words that I could pick out, but there were pictures along the way that reassured me that the subject was basically depressing. It's an occupational hazard in studying the ways that humans interact with animals: even the happy stories usually have some sour edge to them. Afterwards there was a short movie shown, a video of a scarily large murmuration of starlings recorded in the Netherlands(?). One of those things with maybe eight hundred billion birds moving in enormous sweeping hypnotic patterns. Hard to look away from.

Then it was time for the first break of the day, snacks and coffee on the open quad while I worried about rain moving in. (It wouldn't, and it would look clearer and nicer over the day.) bunny_hugger gave me a little tour of the area the conference had, a couple of buildings that the law school at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. There were plenty of students on campus, in the areas outside the Law buildings, leaving us with the question: the heck? We don't know why the law school didn't need any of this space for the week-plus of the conference. If it was between semesters there were a lot of people hanging out then. If it wasn't between semesters then why did the school have all this excess class space?

And then to the first sessions of the day, including the hour with bunny_hugger's talk, the one she was not at all satisfied with when she finished work on it. The sessions were to be three panels each and only two in her set showed up, which is about average for this sort of thing. Her presentation was about the follow-on problems that can result from the recent movement to establish some person-like autonomy for animals. (You maybe remember an argument in the courts about who owns the copyright of a selfie that a gorilla took.) She didn't think her own argument well-formed enough. Nobody agreed; she got a healthy number of interested questions and people coming up for the rest of the day, including into the evening reception back at the hotel, who were impressed with the talk. (Should say, as an interdisciplinary conference Minding Animals attracts people who, for example, aren't philosophers. So that a matter of thinking-through-the-implications that bunny_hugger considered nothing outside the obvious thoughts struck people from other fields as important issues they didn't realize were there.) And she got to give out bunches of her business cards, using the snazzy business-card-holder that she had forgotten to bring to the talk in France three years ago. Wild success all around, and it wasn't even lunchtime.

Trivia: In 1877 the SS Paraguay, using an ammonia-based cooling mechanism, first successfully transported a cargo of frozen meat from Argentina to France. Source: Food in History, Reay Tannahill.

Currently Reading: The League of Regrettable Superheroes, Jon Morris. So this thing went to bed just before it turned out everybody loves Squirrel-Girl, that's nice to know.

PS: Hanging around Cedar Point on a formerly very wet day!


I just know the rabbits are talking about us.


Emerging from the Frontier Trail into ... Frontier Town ... and also from the dark of the rainstorm into the bright evening it proved to be.


And just a few minutes later it was perfectly glowing.