No Longer AWOL
Well, for the past week or so I've been pretty busy in the real world - or my version of it anyway - so I've been away from the blogosphere. Sometimes that's a good thing.
What was keeping me so busy?
1) Administering, grading and recording the final exam for the course in which I am a TA, Environmental and Energy Issues.
2) Heading to Chicago so I could present at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association held in the heart of the downtown Loop at the Palmer House Hilton. I presented my paper at 8:30 on Friday morning.
We stayed not at the solidly booked, pricey Palmer House, but at a guest house up in trendy Lincoln Park. We had an entire apartment to ourselves for two nights! Kinda cool - although it still cost almost as much as our monthly mortgage payment for about half as much square footage.
We took Amtrak, which was surprisingly effortless. It was only about a 1/2-hour late getting into Chicago Thursday night on the Ann Rutledge, and almost on time returning to St. Louis Saturday night on the State House.
I was surprised that CTA El trains do not serve the very busy Chicago Union Station directly. But riding the El and the Red Line subway was quite a treat. Sure, the Brown Line particularly is old, rusty and creaky, but trains come very frequently, and they are really heavily used even by people in fancy-looking suits who work in the financial district. We also rode a CTA bus a few blocks to get to Union Station on Saturday. (Thursday night we took a cab directly to where we were staying.)
The most tedious sections on the Amtrak route, really, are in the Metro East and in Chicagoland. Occasionally there were brief delays in central Illinois as well, to allow freights or other Amtrak trains to pass. But nothing unexpected. Nevertheless, the trains operate at very slow speeds throughout the East St. Louis and Granite City areas, so it takes about an hour to reach the first stop northward, Alton IL.
Interestingly, the train took slightly different routes entering and leaving the downtown St. Louis area.
Going north, we crossed the Mississippi via the MacArthur Bridge on the south edge of downtown, then headed over the Poplar Street Bridge and under the MLK Bridge.
Coming back home late at night, we had a panoramic view of the night skyline and the Arch from the Merchants Bridge and its high-line approaches, before turning south through the North Broadway industrial area and then under the MLK and Eads bridges, into the tunnel under the Archgrounds, and then west to the 16th Street Station. Pretty cool!
3) Last night, I had a lot of fun representing my State Rep, Jeanette Mott Oxford, in seeking the Democratic primary endorsement of the 15th Ward Democrats. Naturally, JMO was (and is now) very busy in Jeff City.
Our opponent, Mark Rice, did not attend nor did he send a representative.
Other candidates in attendance included:
Gregg Daly for Collector of Revenue
Marlene Davis on behalf of Mike McMillan for License Collector
a staffer whose name I don't remember on behalf of McCaskill for Senate
Jim Frisella for Congress
Kacie Starr Triplett on behalf of Russ Carnahan for Congress (Russ himself showed up later)
and in the State Senate District 4 race...
Susie Anderson-Bauer on behalf of Jeff Smith, who was teaching at WashU
Billie Boykins on behalf of her daughter, Amber, who was in Jeff City
(nobody came for the El-Amin campaign)
Very interesting to be a part of this process, and there really was a good crowd there.
I'm working on the campaign website for JMO, which should be ready for prime time by the end of this week.