Monday, December 29, 2008

Beat travelogue from my trip to Philly

Here are a couple of highlights from my whirlwind trip to Philadelphia to present at the American Philosophical Association conference.

Air travel to Philadelphia from Portland was straightforward enough. We had a slight delay, and were completely boarded, seated, and waiting at the jetway. All cabin lights were on, the air was running, etc. Noisy. The captain came on and said "Good morning from the flight deck. This is Captain Joe Something-or-other. Our first mate is going to fly us to Philadelphia this morning. I apologize for the slight delay. It's a busy day in Philly and air traffic control has us waiting just a bit. We have a departure time now of 12:45, so we are going to taxi out and wait on the runway for the go-ahead. It's a good thing we've boarded because that gets us into the system and ...." Power loss. Lights off. Air stops.

We hear him say, "Oh, Jesus!"


A few nervous twitters.

Several minutes later power comes back on and the captain says that these new planes are kind of like laptops and he fixed it with Control-Alt-Delete.

Those of us aboard hoped that Control-Alt-Delete would work very very quickly in case we lost power at 20,000 feet.

U.S Airways. You gotta love it.

Anyway, I got to PHL safely. I was traveling light and only had a carry on, so it was right to ground transportation and I caught a taxi to the downtown Marriott where the conference was located and where I was staying. $28.50! Jack would have hitchhiked.

Checked in. Grabbed some food and a couple of Yuenglings at Thirteen, the restaurant at the hotel. Started reading The Beat Face of God: The Beat Generation Writers as Spirit Guides by Steve Edlington. I got two copies for Christmas - one from Crystal and one from Kath. When someone buys you something from your Amazon wish list, take it off.

Caught a nap in the super-comfy bed in my sixteenth floor room.

Later caught up with Adrianne and Joe. Waiting in the hotel lobby bar for her to park the car I heard someone call my name. It was Elliott from UMF. I had just said to Joe that I would probably see someone I knew before too long, having been a lifelong resident of Pennslvania until 2006 and doing a bunch of work in Philly. I didn't expect to see someone from my university in Maine!

Ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe with Adrianne and Joe. Had twisted mac & cheese with chicken and a Stella. Yummy.

We adjourned to the hotel lobby bar and I downed a few Yuenglings and we discussed the presentation the next day and people watched and just generally hung out. Gave Adrianne a copy of The Beat Handbook for Christmas.

Up early. Showered. Grabbed coffee and a donut at the Starbucks in the hotel lobby.

On the way to the presentation I saw Cornel West coming out of the elevator. Cool!

Presentation went well. 9-11 AM. Early for a Sunday morning and yet there were 13 attendees. Our topic was assessment. My specific topic was self-assessment a la Carl Rogers' freedom to learn. One articulate attendee made a comment after I spoke that said everything that needed to be said because he railed against self-assessment arguing with all the un-questioned assumptions one would expect from someone conditioned by traditional schooling.

One of the presenters was from Alverno College in Wisconsin. They do not use letter grades, campus-wide. They use ability-based assessment and self-assessment. Pretty interesting. Every professor on campus uses the same writing feedback rubric. She said she wished I could teach there. I said I wished her college was in the southwest. If I ever leave Maine, it ain't gonna be for Wisconsin winters.

After the presentation I cleared out the room and took the hotel shuttle (Tropiana) back to the airport. 10 bucks. Should have done that the other direction. I was the only passenger and the driver gave me a guided tour of every important landmark along the way. The Roman Catholic high school, the U.S. Constitution (fastest steamship crossing of the Atlantic), Ben Franklin Bridge, Philadelphia Sports Complex, where the new casino is going, etc. Very interesting and I tipped him well and told him why.

Skye, my friend who used to live in Mansfield, was manning the TSA security checkpoint when I went through and we got to chat across the baggage belt for a minute. Nothing extraordinary on the rest of the way home to Crystal and Maine except they changed my gate somewhere during my two-hour wait and if I weren't a seasoned air traveler I would have sat right there at B10 waiting and waiting while my plane left out of B16. Knowing that there should have been some boarding activity by a certain time, I re-checked the monitors and, sure enough, there'd been a gate change. They probably announced it on the public address system, but if you've ever flown you know how futile that is.

While waiting I had deep-fried pulled pork-filled ravioli and a couple of Yuenglings (can't get it in Maine) at Friday's.

The drive home was very foggy. Crystal had baked tortellini casserole and wine by candlelight waiting for me. Sweet!

By the way, Jack would be proud of me for flying under the radar and not paying the conference attendance fee. Hey, I was a presenter and I flew at my own expense from Maine. Adding a conference fee to that is adding insult to injury.

Anyway, glad I did the thing. Glad it's done.

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