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Chillin' in MilAMWAukee - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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December 5th, 2010


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06:17 pm - Chillin' in MilAMWAukee
It was that time again! Time again for the AMWA Annual Conference, this time in scenic Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

That sounds sooooo exciting!

Hi, Gerald. How you been?

Hungry.

I'll bet. All right, whatever, let's do this. Can we get through five days in a reasonable amount of time? We don't want to bore the living crap out of everyone. They don't care about my medical writing conferences. Except for nsfinch. She cares about everything.

I'm going to gobble her up one day!

Thanksgiving humor. Cute.

No, I mean it. Gobble.

Let's just get on with this. How about we skip the plane trip to Milwaukee, except for the time where I texted schnappycat in Denver and she waved at me.

So what'd you do once you got to your hotel, the Hilton City Center Milwaukee?

I walked to POTBELLY, dude! They had a Potbelly! And I needed a chicken salad sandwich with that great mix of peppers. Also, an Oreo shake.

See anyone interesting in the establishment?

You bet I did! There was this guy reading The Living Dead 2, and I told him that was a good choice and pimped Feed to him since the anthology contains "Everglades," a Mira Grant story set in the same universe. He recalled that one being good and thanked me for the rec.

That woman owes you so many toasters.

I know, right?

So then you walked back to the hotel and checked out the indoor water park.

NO! I totally never got around to doing that, even though I saw signs. What the hell, indoor water park. It wasn't really the right weather for that anyway. It wasn't super cold, just mildly chilly. At the moment. It would get colder over the weekend. For now, I went back to my hotel room and maybe did my second run-through of my cancer pharmacology workshop.

Which you were teaching for CREDIT this year!

I know! I was kind of nervous because I hadn't had a lot of time to rehearse. I got through it even more quickly than I had the night before. P.S. I might have actually done this run-through on Thursday night. My memory is shot. I'm old. Anyway, yeah, that was probably when I did it, since this afternoon, I went over to the convention center to pick up my materials and get ready for the Conference Coach Connection. But who should I run into while I was there but Liz!

Who?

The woman I met in Atlanta at my first conference. We totally hung out a lot and talked about co-teaching a workshop, but that didn't happen, although she was co-teaching a workshop at this conference as well as leading a breakfast roundtables on CRFs that I was taking. Also, she got married and had a kid. That's what people do in three years.

Except you. Because you're a loser.

Fuck you, dragon. Like you've done anything in the last three years.

You're mean.

She was a conference coach too, so we scoped out the area and sat at a table to continue chatting. The tables were assigned by last name, and the table we chose was not either of ours, but people arrived and sat down and it was kind of awkward to leave, so we talked with them too. And then we went to our respective tables, where only one of my coachees showed up, and I gave her sage advice about making the best of the conference. I've learned much over the years! I am now passing on my knowledge to, uh, people older than me who are attending the conference for the first time.

What about the reception? How'd that go?

Well, while I was in line for some food, I met this kid who was at the conference with his mom!

Aw, how adorable.

They were both first-timers trying to break into the exciting world of freelance medical writing. The kid, let's call him Woolly Bully, was also a musician. I gave him sage advice because I am so old. He was a cool guy, but, unfortunately, he left on Friday, so he could not join my traditional Saturday lunch group.

Who else did you see at the reception?

Oh, you know, the usual folks. SR-71, who was now ST-71 since she'd gotten married but that's not the name of a plane. Jimmy Pop. Jimbo, of course, had been his usual droll self at the conference coach table: I had recommended that newbies go talk to people with lots of ribbons, since it meant they were long-time, active members of AMWA, and he looked down at his string of ribbons and commented, "We call this...Charmin'." There was getting of food and saying hi to folks. And then there was Patrick.

Patrick?

I was standing in the room, looking for someone to talk to, and he approached and began talking to me, seizing the opportunity to introduce himself and tell me his whole life story or whatever. It was a good technique, as I have used it before: if someone is looking for someone to talk to, why not be that person? He was very friendly and forward, though, and I don't respond well to people like that because I wonder what their ulterior motive is. Why talk to me, of all people?

Because you're awesome!

Fuck you. Wait, what?

Sometimes I say nice things. SOMETIMES.

He caught me in the hall the next day and started chatting me up, and it took me a minute to recognize him. And he greeted me a few other times throughout the conference. But, okay, let me tell you about the best part of the reception.

Please tell me about the best part of the reception.

I was at a table with SR-71 and a few other women near the end. Oh, before the best part, we were playing with the centerpiece, which was made of colorful fiberoptics. Someone found the switch on the bottom that would make it change colors. We were easily amused. Ah, we thought, now we had made Magic in Milwaukee or whatever the napkins said.

But no! The Magic referred to actual magic!

Yes! No. Not actual magic. But actual magic. Performed by a magician. Who came by our table to do some tricks!

Illusions.

Whatever. Anyway, he reached into his pocket. "Five of hearts!" I said, anticipating the routine. Everyone laughed. The magician, James Sanden, liked us. He pulled out a couple rubber bands and did a trick he purportedly learned from David Copperfield. The thing where the rubber bands go through each other. It was crazy! He even let SR-71 have one of the rubber bands, and he still made it work. And then he turned the rubber bands INTO A DOVE.

HOLY SHIT.

Okay, he didn't really. But he did turn them into something. Then he did a funny coin trick where fifty-one cents kept appearing in his hand even though he was putting them in his pocket. I knew it involved palming somehow, but I couldn't see it. And then at the end when the two coins became a ROLL OF PENNIES, I didn't know how the fuck he palmed that shit.

Did he do a card trick? I love card tricks!

Oh, he totally did an awesome card trick. It began with an empty box. It was empty. There was nothing in it. He told SR-71 to take the nothing inside and put it in her pocket, which she did. "You totally committed to that!" he said. And then he pulled out a pack of cards. "Five of hearts!" I cried, and we laughed. He had all of us pick a card and look at it before we all put it back in the deck, as you do.

Did you—

I got the six of hearts!!

Not bad, not bad.

Then he revealed all of our cards in different ways. He, too, was impressed that I pulled the six of hearts, but I forgot how he found it. My favorite reveal was a very masterful maneuver whereby he picked the card out of his pocket.

That's not too special.

Oh, but it was the wrong card. And then he picked the wrong card again. He kept picking cards out of his pocket until, like, the whole deck came out and he said, "Oh, I did this backwards," and we looked at this left hand, which had previously been holding the entire deck but now held the desired card.

WHAT THE FUCK.

Classic misdirection! It was brilliant.

Presti-fucking-digitation.

But, oh, wait for the grand finale! After he had astounded us by finding all of our cards, he reminded us that there was still the matter of that magic box. And oh man, I forgot the funny bit about that. Before he opened the box, he asked us what we thought was in it, and I said, "A frog." And SR-71 said she was also thinking frog. Ha! James was amused.

Cute. So what about now?

Well, the box had been on the table the whole time. Of course, we had all been so focused on the card tricks that we hadn't paid any attention to it, but unless he had a third hand, how could he have put anything in there? Of course, we knew something was in there. This was magic. So he opened the box. And inside...was a card folded up. He told me to pick it up. I unfolded it.

No.

IT WAS THE FUCKING FIVE OF HEARTS.

HA HA HA THAT IS AMAZING.

BEST. MAGIC TRICK. EVER. He told us that, seriously, he doesn't tell this to everyone, but we really were his best audience tonight. And we knew it. We were a pretty great audience. But! Before he left, I dug through my backpack for a marker so he could sign my card. He signed it to the "best spectator ever." Aw.

And then he went off to perform for another table who clearly wasn't as awesome as yours.

And I went off to the creative readings, although I was delayed by talking to someone or other. Geez, this was only a couple weeks ago. I thought I was going to be late, but in fact only two other people had signed up (and one of them was Woolly, whom I had told to come and sing a song). This year, I had some friends in the audience, as SR-71, Liz, and possibly Jimmy Pop came to see me.

The first guy did a piece on how to make Chuck Norris jokes, and it was pretty funny. Especially because he'd printed out an earlier version of it and there were pieces missing or something. Woolly broke out his guitar and sang a couple songs. He was good! I liked the first song he sang. And then it was my turn.

What'd you do this year?

I didn't think I'd have anything, but recently I had been convinced to write a monologue for the December Theater Pub, which was about how you found out Santa Claus wasn't real.

But you didn't have Santa Claus!

Exactly! I had Vishnu Claus!

...What?

It was just a joke, but I pulled a four-minute monologue out of the idea, which I read to everyone's enjoyment. I should have known that a group of medical writers would appreciate my joke about "two independent Clauses."

Har har.

There were a few Indians in the audience, and I think they laughed a lot. One of them told me she really liked my piece and thought it was very funny. So I hope it goes over well in December.

Then there was a drawing for prizes, and I had a 100% chance of getting one since there were three prizes for the three participants (the least I'd ever seen!). I won a medical cartoon page-a-day calendar for 2011. Sweet! Although I would have liked the 101 Ways You Know You're a Medical Writer book. The woman who put it together read us a few of them since we had time.

And then you had your traditional late dinner at the hotel restaurant?

Not this year! This year, I met with the team of bloggers at the hotel bar.

There's a team of bloggers?

Someone's got to update the AMWA conference blog! And post to the AMWA Twitter account. Wave of the future! We talked about how it worked and suggested ideas. I said I'd write up some conference tips that I'd shared with my coachee. I also had some fried fish that wasn't that great. I cut out early.

Why?

It was Wednesday night, man! Psych and Terriers! This was Central Time, so I was at a disadvantage, but Terriers repeats immediately, and Psych repeats a couple hours later, and I had a blog post to write anyway, so it all worked out. I could be all laptop-y in bed, too.

How'd the blog post turn out?

See for yourself! I don't know if anyone read it. Well, I know Hal did because she told me she liked it the next morning. I'm pretty sure I saw her at registration too, for the record. If you're keeping track. Which you're not.

No one is.

The next morning was the breakfast roundtable about CRFs, led by Liz, and it was pretty good. I sat next to her, and we were kind of the experts. Some people didn't really know what CRFs were for or how they worked.

What the hell is a CRF?

Case Report Form. It's what clinical sites report data on. And they have to be designed well or your data will be crap. We talked about that, as well as various uses of EDC (Electronic Data Capture) systems. This caught the attention of one dude on the other side of the table, who approached me later to ask if I'd be willing to give some sort of webinar for him about EDC systems and entering data or whatever since his clients weren't familiar with it. I told him I, you know, had a job, so I prooooobably couldn't do something like that, but we exchanged business cards. Networking!

Then there was the keynote address that you couldn't stay awake through.

I was tired, man! Even though it was an interesting topic. A little more interesting than the open session on style guides that I also couldn't stay awake through. Woolly was there. And then there was lunch, where I probably talked to people maybe. The speaker gave a nice counterpoint to the morning's talk, and it led to an awesome moment during the Q&A.

Oh?

The speaker was taking a controversial stance, basically saying that there's no actual evidence that drug companies are as evil as the media makes them out to be, and the morning speaker had sort of said the opposite, focusing on the fact that we have to be wary about potential influences and biases. And this woman came to the microphone and said that he was saying one thing, and the morning speaker had said This Other Thing. The speaker answered her tactfully...but then a man at the table by the stage stood up and simply said, "That was not my interpretation of this morning's talk."

It was the morning speaker?

Got it in one. Heh. PWNED.

After lunch, it was time for your first workshop!

Look, if you already know what happened, why am I telling you?

I'm just trying to move things along more quickly.

Well, fine. My first workshop was on the ISS (Integrated Safety Summary) of the NDA (New Drug Application), and it was taught by Peggi, so that was cool, although I still felt very confused by the end of it. It's a complicated topic. Amusingly enough, SR-71 and Liz were also in the workshop! Or maybe just Liz. And someone else I knew. I don't remember. I do remember the refreshments, though!

Oooh, cookies!!

Well, no cookies. But they had hot chocolate! And whipped cream! And marshmallows! It was adorable. So I mixed it with some coffee for a makeshift mocha.

Afterwards, I went back to my room for a bit before the Chapter Greet-and-Go. And who should be there but Ali! Even though he's a Bay Area guy, this was the first time I'd seen him since last year's conference. He and Jimmy Pop and I stuck together, and we acquired another Bay Area buddy, Mark.

Where were you all headed?

The destination was the Red Accordion, an Italian tapas place. But we left at the same time as another group, so we had a couple dozen people walking the sidewalks of Milwaukee. And, uh, somehow we ended up following the wrong group. But Jimmy Pop had a smartphone that let us know we weren't far off, and we found the restaurant. And we had a table all to ourselves, since the rest had mostly filled up. There were some of my other medical writing buddies, like Nice, that I didn't get to talk to very much. But we had a good time at our table. We were joined by a quiet, vegetarian Indian woman and some guy who arrived late.

What kind of crazy food did you have?

Well, there were a lot of seafood options. The chicken satay was really good, as were the scallops and various Ahi tuna dishes, but my favorite was, surprisingly, the Thai tilapia wings.

Uh, tilapia don't have—

I know, but you get the picture.

...I really don't.

It was fried fish wing-style, with Thai wing sauce. It was very good.

And then you went to your little klatch thing?

Nah, I skipped it this year, as it had never really been very successful. Instead I went back to my room and tried to catch my Thursday night shows, but I only made it in time for Outsourced. That gave me more time to stress over my presentation and catch up on work and whatever.

So, Friday morning.

Breakfast with the exhibitors! I ran into SR-71, but, more importantly, I ran into Holli. So we took over an exhibitor's table and chatted for a bit. And while we chatted, Soni paid me a harried visit: she was at the conference but stuck working on a manuscript the whole time, which sucked. So I didn't get to see her much.

Wait, isn't Friday morning when your workshop is?

YEP. OH NOES.

Get to your damn room and set up, boy!

Okay! So I did that! Except I didn't know where I could set up my laptop, and I needed to get the Internet access to work, and the screen resolution was weird, and I wanted sound to work, and, geez, didn't I ask for all this to be ready in the specs?? Hell, I didn't even have a laser pointer, but one of my students lent me one, so that was good.

How'd the workshop go?

Surprisingly well, given that I'd only had time to rehearse it twice, and both times I went way too fast and skipped bits I meant to speak about. This time, I think I managed to hit all my speaking points, and I didn't speak too ridiculously fast. I enjoyed myself, especially the part where I explained overexpression of growth factor receptors by threatening to throw mints at everyone.

What about the students?

As usual, I wasn't that great about answering questions since I don't know everything. There was one person who didn't know some basic stuff (how can I explain how one optimizes a compound?), and there was a woman in the back who raised her hand like fifty goddamn times, sometimes to provide helpful information when I was faltering but mostly to ask me questions I couldn't answer (not to show off, but just because she happened to be curious in ways I could not satisfy).

Did you finish with time to spare?

I did, which was okay because it meant I could use some of my nanotech slides, which I hadn't really rehearsed, but I mostly just had to read off the slides for them, so it was all good. And then they had time to fill out their evaluations and give me a great score, hopefully.

Did you get good feedback?

I'm sure some people thought it sucked and I didn't know jack shit about cancer pharmacology, but a few people did come up and tell me how helpful it was and how they felt like they knew SO much more now than they did before. One woman, the one who had lent me the laser pointer, said she was going to tell her husband to come to the conference next year just to take my workshop, which was extremely flattering.

You're a badass!

Eh, someone else could do better.

Yeah, but someone else is lazy.

I'm lazy!

That's true; you took forever to write this fucking post.

So, let's move on to lunch, where I can't find a place to sit by anyone I know, so I sit at a table of people I don't know, next to a blonde woman named Mari and across from a girl I thought looked twelve but turned out to be my age or possibly even older, to my surprise. Mari was Canadian, and she was going to have to fly back tonight, although she was having issues checking in to her flight or something.

I'll bet this will be important later, I'm sure.

I don't bother pseudonyming people for nothing!

How about the lunch speaker?

WORST. SPEAKER. EVER.

Seriously?

At least at an AMWA conference. I had high hopes because she was a successful, attractive Indian woman doctor, but her "talk" consisted mostly of showing news clips of her doing relief work in Haiti and reporting on different disasters. I thought she had a point somewhere in there, but every time she started making a point, she got sidetracked by how awesome she was. She had no idea who her audience was: we were not news media, and her work was of no relevance to us when trying to convince us to "keep doing what we're doing." I have no idea what her point was supposed to be. It was just awful, and I left as soon as she was done speaking.

At least the food was good?

Um, no, The vegetarian option was some rice and vegetables. Like a handful of each. I was so goddamn hungry in a couple hours I strongly considered walking out of my workshop to get something to eat.

What workshop?

Introduction to the Endocrine System, which was actually a really good workshop! I learned a lot, and the course was well organized and well taught by people who knew what they were talking about. But holy crap, as soon as it was over, I went straight up to my hotel room and ordered a chicken quesadilla from room service. Relatedly, I love Hulu.

It's very useful!

I watched Fringe on my laptop in bed while eating a chicken quesadilla. In bed.

Really living it up, boy.

Then I put on a tie for the Awards Dinner. There was a little reception outside the room where people were getting their drinks. And, to my surprise, there was Mari. Who had gone to the airport and then discovered her flight was cancelled. So now she was stuck here an extra night, and, because she wasn't supposed to be here, she hadn't bought a ticket for the Awards Dinner. She said she was going to go drown her sorrows at the hotel bar.

So who did you sit with at dinner?

I waited with SR-71 while she got a drink, but I ended up going with Jimmy Pop to find a table, and we finally chose one at the very end of the hall. I sat next to Hal, and we talked about my cancer pharm course. Which Jimmy Pop had been in!

That seems like a crucial piece of information to have mentioned before.

Look, I'm old.

Discovery: Hal had been my reviewer last year! She was the secret AMWA spy evaluating whether or not my course was good!

BETRAYAL!

What, I got to teach it for credit, so clearly she gave me a good review.

Oh right.

Anyway, I had forgotten that the food at the dinner was actually pretty good. My mushroom steak was much tastier than I expected. There were awards and speeches, and it was all very nice.

And then you went to see if Mari was still drowni—

You know me too well.

Well, I am you.

Don't get all Fight Club on me, Gerald Durden.

Go to the bar and take Jimmy Pop with you.

MAYBE I WILL. I mean, yeah, we went down there, and there she was, so we chatted.

And you brought her popcorn!

Dude, I am telling this story.

Sorry.

Jimmy Pop and I spent a long time talking about music and concerts. He goes to at least two concerts a month, so clearly we have to go to more shows together. Mari joined in as well, extolling the virtues of Mumford and Sons. Every time we mentioned that we knew "the one song," she reminded us that they do have more than "Little Lion Man." She wanted to go see them in concert but wasn't able to, but she was going to try to go to a session at the local radio station. Apparently you just had to show up, as opposed to having to win tickets.

They drank various beers, and you drank water.

Yep. And eventually Mari discovered the popcorn machine, so she brought us some popcorn to munch on. And then it ran out. And then she looked longingly at the popcorn machine. Jimmy Pop also thought it would be good to get more popcorn. But neither one would actually go and get some, since they were busy chatting. So I quietly went over to the machine, filled up some popcorn, and brought it back. As I do.

You're so sweet.

One day I will be sweet to the right woman.

How long did you guys hang out?

Far longer than I'd intended! Because I had a roundtable early next morning, I had to cut out after a couple hours and crash. But it had been fun! Mari asked if we were on Facebook, so we could keep in touch. AMWA conference bonding!

That's what it's all about! Now move it along, move it along, Saturday.

Saturday! Breakfast roundtable about using the power of design in slide presentations. Unfortunately, the original leader had to cancel, and someone had to fill in, and the fill-in was fine, but I don't know whether we talked about what we would have talked about. Slides are hard, and everyone likes doing it the sucky way even if it sucks, so no one wants to actually make good slides.

Morning workshop!

Epidemiology! Which I was very sleepy during, and also I learned more about epidemiology from the homework than from the workshop.

Lunch!

Wait, slow down, this is the fun stuff.

...Luuuuuuuuunnnnnccchhhhhhh.

So for my traditional Saturday afternoon lunch, I had invited Jimmy Pop, Ali, SR-71, and, to continue my tradition of having at least one new person, Mark. Who was late. More late than SR-71. 12:15, people, come on, we're on a schedule. We waited for everyone, though, and then we headed out...into the rain. Which had just begun a couple minutes ago. Had we left in time, we would have probably missed it! Luckily, I still had the travel umbrella I had borrowed for my Europe trip.

Hey, when are you ever going to write about that, anyway?

Can we just get through this first, dude? Seriously.

Fine.

It was a small umbrella, but it sort of covered me, and I let SR-71 share it too. Our destination was Kiku Japanese Restaurant, which Wooly had said was "amazing." And Wisconsin is known for its amazing sushi, right? ...Right? It was only a few blocks away, and I had seen the signs proclaiming it to be the Best of Milwaukee, so it looked promising. And they had quite a menu! I'd never seen lobster rolls, so I had to get some of those, as well as the crazy rainbow roll. Oh, the tempura rock shrimp looked good—and it was. The lobster rolls were basically like California rolls with lobster instead of crab, and I couldn't really tell the difference. But we gorged ourselves on sushi; there was so much to go around. SR-71 and I, though, had workshops to attend at 2:00, so we were a bit antsy. We managed to get out of there in time.

Did you have good conversation?

Absolutely! Although I cannot for the life of me remember what we talked about. I think it was professional and everything! Wait, wait, something's coming to me. No, I lost it.

So we high-tailed it back to the hotel and convention center. It was a goodbye to Ali, who was leaving.

Afternoon workshop?

Cancer biology!

But you already know cancer biology.

Exactly! But I had to make sure. And it turns out that, yeah, I do know cancer biology. Whew. Although she had different explanations for some things, so I need to do some more reading. But, dude, holy crap, she was a PowerPoint whiz! She created all these badass animations of cell stuff and signaling and it was so flippin' cool. I didn't know you could do all that with PowerPoint!

Was there anyone from your cancer pharm course in there?

There was! Like the woman who lent me her laser pointer. She lent the instructor her laser pointer as well. And extolled my workshop when she pointed to me as a source for cancer pharmacology knowledge (funnily enough, whereas I got some people who took my course wanting to learn about cancer biology, she got some people taking her course wanting to learn about cancer pharmacology).

Man, people are dumb.

That's why they take workshops! To become less dumb!

And then the conference was over!

Well, not quite. There was still the kickoff reception. Next year's conference is in scenic Jacksonville, where they eat, uh, shrimp sandwiches and...chips or something. I didn't eat a lot at the reception. But I did find Jimmy Pop and Mark, and then I ran into Tab and Bek!

Who? Give me a link here.

Oh, I've linked the Atlanta conference enough times by now. They were the women from Jellyvision I hung out with. And they remembered me! Bek, like SR-71, was now married, because that's what people do when they don't see you for three years.

Did you rope them into your dinner plans?

Don't get ahead of me! Our original plan was to check out the Safe House, a spy-themed restaurant, but they were completely booked for the evening. Mark had suggested we go to Mader's, a German restaurant his partner had raved about, so he called and had a very literal and amusing conversation to make reservations. And, yes, we did invite the Jellyvision women out with us, and the restaurant said that if we got there RIGHT NOW, they could fit us in, so off we went! Jimmy Pop, Mark, SR-71, and I walked, and the Jellyvision women took a cab. It was now kind of chilly, but, still, the walk wasn't that far; the place was right by the Red Accordion.

The place had an interesting decor, and the women wore cleavage-enhancing German garb, but the men did not wear lederhosen. They did, however, serve beer in boots. You had to watch out for the bubble!

What did you eat?

There were really only two authentic German options, the chicken and turkey, and they were all out of turkey, so...chicken schnitzel with spatzle it was. It was all right, nothing special. WHATEVER, GERMANS.

Mmm, I could go for some spatzle.

Hey, wait, how do you know how to pronounce it?

Spatz-lay? Everyone knows that. And by everyone, I mean me and Bek.

Shut up, it should totally be spayt-zul.

Anyway, it was SR-71's birthday, so I had the waiter bring her a piece of cake with a candle and we all sang to her.

It was her birthday and you secretly conferred with the waiter to make sure she still had a special night? You're so sweet.

I know, I'm the best, really.

Don't get cocky.

I wouldn't dream of it. Dinner was fun, and we talked about many things, and SR-71 and one of the new Jellyvision women discovered they worked right next to each other or something, so they exchanged information. The Jellyvision women once again opted for a cab, and we braved the walk back to the hotel. Where we proceeded to stand in the lobby and chat for, like, half an hour, unsure whether we were going to go play games in my room or something. Meanwhile, some other group kept appearing with Monopoly. We didn't know why.

You just stood in the lobby and chatted?

We didn't really want the night to end!

Aw.

But end it did, as people had early flights. And so we retired to our rooms.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

The big day! So a few months ago, I met up with a friend of mine from high school when she visited SF with her boyfriend, and since she lived in Madison, she said they'd come hang out with me in Milwaukee. So on Sunday morning, I checked out and walked the chilly walk to Mo's Irish Pub, where I had a boxty. The boxty is an authentic Irish potato pancake, but I don't think it authentically features chicken and shrimp and jack cheese and barbecue sauce. It was like an Irish enchilada. But it was good! And my waitress was great. I told her I needed to get out of there by noon, which was when Angela and Mike would be picking me up, and she made sure that happened. And she checked to see whether I was allergic to sausage, since it usually came mixed in with the boxty mix and they would be taking it out for me. And she refilled my water when I just hung out in the pub after paying the check because I didn't want to wait in the cold. I left her a big tip, courtesy of my company.

Also, she was pretty.

Well, that goes without saying.

Angela and Mike picked me up from the corner, and we were off to Discovery World, which was a science museum geared toward kids. First, we learned all about water! There is a lot of it! But not a lot of it is drinkable! Ooh, Great Lakes. Ooh, water purification processes!

BORING.

No, actually, it was pretty interesting. There were some cool fossils and bones, too. And then we played on a ship.

Did you—

Yes, both Mike and I proclaimed that we were on a boat.

Good job.

The crew quarters were tiny! How could anyone live on a boat like that? Man.

Then there was a place to play with levers and wedges and pulleys and stuff.

I'm hungry. Hungry for...seafood.

Well, you're in luck, because there was an aquarium, and we were fascinated by jellyfish, and then we learned that the government wants us to eat carp. They are actually delicious.

But but but we totally saw something awesome!

What what what??

There was an anglerfish, and the woman was trying to feed it a goldfish or something, and the fish was too smart and kept swimming away. One time, one time, the anglerfish EVEN GOT OUT THAT FREAKY BAIT THING. IT'S RETRACTABLE. WHAT THE FUCK. IT JUST COMES OUT.

And then she went and got a stupider fish, and it was a little slower on the uptake, and the anglerfish didn't even bother with the bait: without warning, suddenly, GULP. Just swallowed the goddamn thing whole, just like that. Blink of an eye. TERRIFYING.

What else was in the museum?

Well, there was a section dedicated to MACHINES or something, and I flew a flight simulator. Unlike many other things in the museum, it actually functioned. Oh, there were all these cool and amusing automatons. And a robot playing Tic Tac Toe, purportedly. And a DNA staircase. It was a fun little place.

Conveniently located, too, eh?

Yeah, it was right next to the Milwaukee Art Museum! Which foiled our attempts to be efficient since they wouldn't allow food or drink in the exhibits, forcing Angela and Mike to drink their caffeinated beverages more quickly than intended. But then we started out with the special exhibit about European design, which was like being in a furniture store where you weren't allowed to sit in anything. So frustrating! To my surprise, I liked much more of the furniture than I expected. A lot of it was pretty cool. I mean, not the chair made from hay or whatever, but some other stuff.

Without any pictures, I am bored. I do not care about your opinions. Please move on.

Fine! We moved on to the museum proper, and there were some nice pieces, but the best part of the museum was what Mike referred to as "bread crumbs." There were all these notes left lying around. We had no idea who had left them. We suspected a group of teenage girls but had no evidence. It was like a scavenger hunt! The arrows may have been incorrect, but there WAS an Infinity Chamber (not nearly as cool as the one in Phoenix) and a suitcase to the reef.

Neat!

I know, right? So much fun. All art museums should have these. Sometimes our mysterious scavenger hunt leave snarky comments about the art.

Art museums! Always a good time with friends!

It's true. And it was appropriate since when they had visited SF, I had met them in the MOMA. Which is where I took this photo, so of course I had to take this one.

Look, Angela's tired of art, so let's get on to dinner, how about that?

Fine. We left before the museum closed at 5, so we didn't get to see the closing of the sails. We made our way to the Safe House and looked for parking, which we found fairly close by. The Safe House was hidden in an alley. When we entered, we were asked for the password. None of us knew it, but I guessed "asparagus," which was incorrect. Angela guessed, "I need a safe house," to which the girl replied, "Do you believe everything you read on the Internet?" Mike didn't even try. Since we didn't know the password, we were forced to do a crazy dance for ten seconds to prove our spy skills. Then we were let in.

Cute!

Yep. For some reason, even though we hada reservation, we were seated in a back room all by ourselves. It was kind of freaky, like they were going to send in someone to kill us soon.

Oh no!

Don't worry, no one died. Mike and I had a lot of fun exploring the restaurant, which was full to the brim with spy kitsch and intriguing doors, like the bathroom door that opened into a brick wall. There was also a peephole that showed you the view from a camera directly behind you. Oh, and remember the crazy dances? Everyone was watching. This place was too fun. I mean, there was even a giant spy puzzle that moved!

But how was the food?

It was pretty good! The chicken tortilla soup was very good, and the fried cheese curds were tasty, and my chicken in avocado sauce and Pepperjack cheese was also good. Good times all around!

And then it was off to the airport!

Sadly, yes!

I feel like you left a lot out, sir.

Please, I can't remember EVERYTHING. It's been weeks! I didn't take notes. Live with it, dragon.
Current Mood: hungryhungry
Current Music: Linkin Park - Wretches and Kings

(11 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 6th, 2010 03:23 am (UTC)
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"CRF" in my world means "contingency response forces." So, um, that's a thing.
It sure is.

Angler fish creep me the fuck out.
Right? I had to check Wikipedia to make sure that was true (that is a very sad statement, I know).

Your statue poses are fun.
Yay!

Your dragon makes me laugh.
Thanks, toots!
[User Picture]
From:miniglik
Date:December 6th, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
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Wait, so your "five of hearts" crying was unprompted and he just totally worked that into the trick? Neat!
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 6th, 2010 05:56 am (UTC)
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YES! ISN'T THAT TOTALLY AWESOME?!?!
[User Picture]
From:thetheatremouse
Date:December 8th, 2010 02:39 am (UTC)
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I've gotta say, man, I love when you do these conference posts. Separately, Except I didn't know where I could set up my laptop, and I needed to get the Internet access to work, and the screen resolution was weird, and I wanted sound to work, and, geez, didn't I ask for all this to be ready in the specs?? Hell, I didn't even have a laser pointer, but one of my students lent me one, so that was good. surprised me. I guess I'm spoiled by the conferences I go to annually, because they have this policy that presenters/workshop leaders have to turn in their presentations/slides/etc in advance, and everything is preloaded by conference staff on Conference Laptops. So it's all tested (by them) and known to work in advance and all you have to do is show up in the right room and do it. They even provide laser pointers, and you have your choice of handheld or podium microphone. Other than that usefulness, your conferences sound way more interesting than mine. You certainly have better adventures.
Introduction to the Endocrine System
Any discussion of CAH treatments in that one? Just curious and apologies if that question is way off base and makes no sense in this context.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 8th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
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I've gotta say, man, I love when you do these conference posts.
The few, the proud.

So it's all tested (by them) and known to work in advance and all you have to do is show up in the right room and do it.
Yeah, this isn't one of those large, fancy-schmancy conferences.

You certainly have better adventures.
Adventures are the best part!

Any discussion of CAH treatments in that one?
No, but we did talk about JFK's secret medical conditions.
[User Picture]
From:thetheatremouse
Date:December 9th, 2010 10:21 pm (UTC)
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How many people were at this shindig?
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 9th, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC)
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I don't know. Probably under a thousand.
From:jaye_w
Date:December 17th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)
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That's my city! Mine, mine, mine!
After reading your posts all these years, it's so surreal to hear you talk about the Art Museum and the Safehouse... For the record, your friend was super close to the password.. she just missed one word. (And Mader's... yuck. I hate. I'm not a good Milwaukee-an, I guess.) I even enjoyed hearing about your conference stuff! I would have come to see you if I would have known you were in town.. Cancer pharmacology? Right up my alley! Xoxo
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 17th, 2010 03:48 am (UTC)
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Oh no!! I didn't realize you were there, or I would have tried to meet up too.

After reading your posts all these years, it's so surreal to hear you talk about the Art Museum and the Safehouse
Aw.

For the record, your friend was super close to the password.. she just missed one word.
DAMMIT! What word??

(And Mader's... yuck. I hate. I'm not a good Milwaukee-an, I guess.)
Heh, well, I wasn't too impressed either, so.
From:jaye_w
Date:December 17th, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)
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It's "I'm looking for a Safehouse" not just "I need a Safehouse"... I think they not used to care so much if you were close, but the antics they make people do to get in if they don't know it is quite humorous. Dance, little monkeys, dance!!

No worries about meeting up... I'm glad to hear you had a good time in my city. I'm not sure how I would have brought it up to my husband that I was off to meet someone from on the wide wide world of web... ("We have the same birthday! He's an A+ Virgo!") He knows how much I used to love love love VM, but he was traveling and in school for much of the old VM4 heyday. You guys all kept me (realtively!) sane while he was away...

Miss you!

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