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Wordcraft Gathering in April '07: Chicago Login/Join
 
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Yep, it was freezing all day, and the forecast is the same. We won't be spending a lot of time outside, I am afraid.
 
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I'll just have to enjoy my last day in sunny Partridge Green even more, then. It's only just after 0800 and the sun is already warm and there's not a cloud in the sky. I'll take a walk later and see if the bluebells are out yet.


Richard English
 
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We had to go to Las Vegas on an emergency trip... We encountered snow, warm weather, very hot weather, thunderstorms, and came home to cold. My tulips and daffodils are up though not blooming, and I am worried that the cold weather and predicted snow later this week will prevent them from blooming. I still wish I could come to Chicago, but this trip makes it all the more not possible, since it wiped me out. Y'all have a good time now, and if art and great quilts float your boat, the Rosemont Convention Center is home to the Chicago Quilt Festival this coming Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Thousands of quilts from all over the world. whimper....
 
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So sorry you couldn't join us, Jo.

Bob, Phil, Shu and I had a great time yesterday at the House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and then at the Safe House in Milwaukee. Bob has a great camera so we let him take all the pictures. He took a lot!

Well, sad to say, Bob accidentally deleted all the pictures so we now have none! We are hoping our local camera store will be able to retrieve them, though Bob thinks that will not be possible. Darn!
 
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Here's a link to a $29 download that will help rescue all the photos. My husband uses this and swears by it.

Wordmatic
 
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Thank you, wordmatic. Bob was very excited to see that and will check it out when he returns home.

Saranita, Richard and Margaret arrived today, and we had a grand celebration of Bob's birthday tonight at Goose Island.

Please keep this place active during our meeting, Wordcrafters. Thank you!
 
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Bob ... will check it out when he returns home
I may be stating the obvious to Bob here, but he shouldn't use the same card to store new photos or the old pictures will be irretrievably overwritten.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Thanks, Arnie. He did start a new card. We're just hoping that Wordmatic's solution will work. The House on the Rock has these wonderful animated music machines that play beautiful music, and Bob took videos, which also had the audio, that would be wonderful to see. So we've crossed our fingers that Wordmatic's husband's suggestion will work.
 
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Today we visited the Museum of Science and Industry, the high point of which was the viewing an entire submarine! The U-505 is the sole German U-boat, from WWII, to have been captured intact. In the past we Chicagoans have been able to walk through it, but they have recently created around it an entire exhibit detailing the submarine, the amazing story of how seamen managed to capture it, and the importance in the context of the War.
 
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A type IXC U-Boot. Here's some interesting photos and links about the U-505. And here (mostly in German though and you have to use their search function, because there are no direct links). One of the boarding party was a friend of our own JT's.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Well, our time is about to end. I will be flying off to a conference in California tonight, and Bob, Phil, Richard and Margaret will all leave tomorrow. Saranita left this morning and CW and Simon left yesterday. We were sorry to have missed CJ.

A few more highlights:
~ The Art Institute...always my favorite. There is a wonderful exhibit there, "Cezanne to Picasso" that I must get back to because I just didn't have enough time.

~ From the Art Institute we went to the Lincoln Park Conservatory. It was wonderful, though it was raining inside either because it was leaking or Richard said it might be because the snow supercooled the glass.

~ We lost ourselves in Bookman's Alley in Evanston. We bought a wonderful copy of Burns' Poems, but Bob outdid us all. He purchased so much that the owner gave him a "deal."

~ The weather has been dreadful, I am afraid. It hasn't been above 40, and we had a rather significant snow on Wednesday. I never should have warned people that it could snow! It was the heaviest snow in April in 27 years, but of course it won't last. In fact, next week it's going to be beautiful.

~ We had a delightful time at Goose Island on the 9th celebrating Bob's birthday (as you saw in CW's pictures). Unfortunately, most of their beers were unavailable (bad lines or something), but we managed with what they had (you know Richard!).

~ We played a fun spoof on Richard at the Yard House, where they have around 100 beers on tap. We had planned with the bartender (Ron) that we'd ask him to pick out something special for Richard, our beer connoisseur, and Ron would give him a Bud. Well, it was really funny! Richard's first words were, "It doesn't taste like beer." But we kept poker faces and tasted it and declared that it was good. He'd try again, and say, "Well, I don't like it." Finally we all had a great laugh together. Here is my double dactyl (with some assistance from Wordcrafters):

Budily Weiserly
Richard, our Wordcrafter,
Oh so politely said,
"Pour me a drink."

Bartender Ron, being
Machiavellian,
Served him a Bud, asking
"What do you think?"

[BTW, by far, Bob's favorite gift was the pop-up Alice in Wonderland book that CW gave him. CW, he is still finding surprises in it! We all looked a little strange in Goose Island with our beer, our bunny ears, and reading pop-up books. Big Grin]

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Kalleh,
 
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One of the boarding party was a friend of our own JT's.

THAT is truly cool! JT - I'm going to hound you for more information on that! I was really amazed at the story of the U-505's capture and the bravery of those men in the boarding party. It was an excellent exhibit - maybe even worth you coming back to the mainland someday!

Kalleh and Shu are the world's best hosts. So much work and effort they put into it (especially K), and we all had a great time together. It was truly wonderful to meet people face-to-face.


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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CW wrote ..... I'm going to hound you for more information on that!

No need to hound me, CW. Here is more information on that

Philip Trusheim, coxswain of the motor whaleboat that transported the boarding party to and from the U505, is my sister's husband.

<< read more >>
 
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It was the heaviest snow in April in 27 years
We've been basking in a mini-heatwave (for April) here. Temperatures have been well up into the 70s.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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We've been basking in a mini-heatwave (for April) here. Temperatures have been well up into the 70s.

Driving back to Columbus on Wednesday was every inch of horrible. Snow in Chicago, sleet/hail/rain the rest of the way, and road construction to boot! Blah! Why the h#ll don't we have trains that could take us?!


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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You really don't want to hear my answer to that one. It is a political rant totally inappropriate for this forum. Just note that there was a time when you could go just about anywhere in this country by train.
 
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I'm sorry, CW. We wondered about you.
 
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BTW, it is in the 70s now. Oh well!
 
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We hit 70 here in Pennsylvania today also. It really feels like spring, finally, and my allergies are in full bloom just to prove it!

WM
 
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Just note that there was a time when you could go just about anywhere in this country by train.

Sadly that's not the case now, even in the UK where we have probably kept a far higher proportion of our railways than has the USA (and certainly Canada where almost all have gone).

But it's still possible to travel by rail in the USA; Margaret and I went from Chicago to Seattle and back on the Empire Builder - which was a wonderful experience. If more people were to use the railways then there would be more justification for the expenditure of Federal funds on rail subsidies (which are massive in most countries).


Richard English
 
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I travel only by train or car, and I can assure you that most of the year Amtrak is full up. It is difficult to get a sleeper or bedroom, and fairly often the coach cars are crowded to capacity. Despite high ridership this government has failed to support passenger rail for years and years. In fact there are years when Congress has failed to provide any funds at all until massive outcry forced "some" funding. Airplanes get far more government support. And of course, highways and automobiles. Amtrak was forced to eliminate its LA to Vegas run, which was extremely popular and always sold out, because the gov. did nothing to stop the railroad practice of putting freight before passengers on every single run.

Obviously, this is a soap box issue for me. If passenger trains are eliminated in this country, as some politicians have open advocated, it will mean the elimination of the only means of travel for many people. There is no reason we should be forced to endure plane phobia; and some of us never will.
 
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I know that Bush's Administration and Appropriations Committee had tried to eliminate federal support for AMTRAK for 2006 but failed. Support was actually increased for that year by an additional $626 million to a total of $1.2 billion. Although that's a largish amount (it would run the war in Iraq for days!) it is less than many other Governments spend on their rail infrastructure.

US Government subsidy for airlines is a very sore point in Europe where many airlines were allowed to go broke in the aftermath of the September 11 downturn. Had the US Government not subsidised them by billions, many US airlines would also have disappeared.

My own experience of AMTRAK (a return journey on the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle) is hardly evidence, but I can tell you that the train was not full at any time in either direction. But even had it been full, the fares charged were so low that I doubt that it would have been profitable even had it been. Somewhere there was a good subsidy.

But your point about freight priority is a good one. The end to end average for the Empire Builder is only 50 mph - a derisory speed for such a powerful train. But even more of a barrier than freight conflict is the deplorable state of the permanent way. On many long stretches our speed was down to around 20 mph simply because the track was so bad. Even at that speed it was difficult even to keep in one's sleeper and dangerous to walk around. I have travelled on railways throughout the world and have never experienced such bad riding. The ride on good stretches was excellent, so the fault is with the permanent way, not the train. In the UK our fastest service is that offered by the Eurostar and I have travelled on that at over 150 mph and there is little, apart from the evidence of one's eyes, to tell what the speed is. Indeed, it was only a message from the driver (engineer) that alerted us to the speed we were travelling. And the UK does not even hold the record for high-speed rail travel in Europe.

I, like you, think it is disgraceful that other interests, especially road interests, have been allowed to gain such power to the detriment of railways. Such interests were able to eliminate trams (streetcars) from most US cities half a century ago and nearly managed to do the same with railways. Fortunately, the oil crisis we are now experiencing, has a bright side so far as railways are concerned - which will save them and eventually lead to their resurgence. Railways, unlike any other form of long-distance, high speed transport, can run on electricity and most railways in developed countries outside the USA are already electrified. Electricity can be generated in many ways that do not need oil and can easily be transmitted to the point where is it needed - a railway track, for example. But there is as yet (and maybe never) no way of storing electricity efficiently and thus any vehicle that carries its own power supply will, if using electricity, be very limited as to its range and power when compared to its petrol-engined equivalent.

When Governments wake up to the realities of oil disappearance then they will realise that railways are an integral part of future transportation. Let us hope that there will still be enough of them left to deal with that problem when it comes.


Richard English
 
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Here's a new Amtrak site for all the "train-o-philes" out there.

I, too, love a train ride. My last trip, Philadelphia to Albany, involved a change of trains in New York City. I missed my connecting train in NYC, and by the time I stood in line to exchange my ticket, the next two trains going north had filled up, so I think that trains in the Northeast Corridor are as Jo describes: filled to capacity. I'd love to take the western trip that Richard and Margaret took, one of these days. I'd also like to take a riverboat cruise down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and stop in every river town where there is major league baseball team and see a game. I guess that wouldn't it too many towns or games, though (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis and....up river to Minneapolis?) and so I don't imagine anyone's actually organized a tour like that.

Wordmatic
 
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so I think that trains in the Northeast Corridor are as Jo describes: filled to capacity.

Just as is the case with any system, there will be times when demand exceeds supply and times when the reverse is the case. Because transport is the most perishable commodity there is (an empty seat has zero value from the time the vehicle leaves), it is a huge challenge for transport operators to maximise their load factors (the number of seats sold as a percentage of those available) - hence the plethora of different fares and discounts, all designed to reduce unoccupied seats to around 1% of capacity, thus achieving the optimum 99% load factor.

Because most people travel at peak times (obviously, since they would otherwise not be peak times!) a false impression is often gained by passengers that the true overall achieved load factor is higher than it is. Check out the achieved load factors on that Northeast corridor route at less popular times and you might be surprised.

By coincidence, just yesterday I saw a report that the Conservatives (our present opposition party) have declared that will be looking to re-open closed railways since the capacity is now needed. Sadly many of our closed railways (like the line that runs past the bottom of my garden) have been turned into cycle ways and could not be re-opened without much effort and expense, since much of the width of the trackway has been reduced to that needed for pedestrians and cycles only.


Richard English
 
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Because there are always 2 sides to things, I will play the Devil's advocate on this one. Mind you, I love trains and take one every day to and from work. As a matter of fact, Chicago has wonderful train service. Shu and I always brag that by walking 2 blocks from our home, we can get to anyplace (served by trains, busses or airplanes) in the world. Not bad, when you think about it.

First of all, at this point in time, I don't think the savings in fuel would be significant with trains. Perhaps if they figure out how to use electricity, they would be, but not now. Second, let's face it, the U.S. is much different from England in terms of size. No matter how fast trains are, it still will take more time to get from NY to LA than most people can afford.
quote:
I have travelled on railways throughout the world and have never experienced such bad riding.

How negative, Richard. Yet, you shared with us such a delightful story as to the superb customer service you and Margaret received on the train. Let's present both sides in this discussion.
quote:
Electricity can be generated in many ways that do not need oil and can easily be transmitted to the point where is it needed - a railway track, for example. But there is as yet (and maybe never) no way of storing electricity efficiently and thus any vehicle that carries its own power supply will, if using electricity, be very limited as to its range and power when compared to its petrol-engined equivalent.

Well, that doesn't sound optmistic to me. Remember, we would need trains that aren't limited in range because our country is relatively big.
 
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I fear that I didn't make myself clear. Let me try again.

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First of all, at this point in time, I don't think the savings in fuel would be significant with trains
Presently, maybe not all that significant. We were told that The Empire Builder consumes diesel at a rate of around 3-4 gallons per mile. I don't know the train's capacity but I would guess it to be at least 500 passengers in both classes. So that's better than one gallon per person, per 100 miles, if my mental calculations are correct - so even now it's probably better than most other forms of transport.

quote:
No matter how fast trains are, it still will take more time to get from NY to LA than most people can afford.
Presently it is clearly worth flying 2500 miles, regardless of the speed of the train. But trains are getting faster while air travel is getting slower and the "break even" distance is increasing year on year. Few people would now consider flying from London to Paris or Brussels since the train does the journey in around two hours, city centre to city centre. You certainly couldn't do that journey by air in under double that time. The best European expresses are now travelling at 150 mph plus and an average end to end speed of even 100 mph would make a big difference to journey times, even in a country the size of the USA. Chicago to Seattle, for example, would take just one day, not two. When I started studying transport, it was a truism that around 200 miles was the distance at which rail, road and air all took about the same journey time. This was why, in the UK where many of our major centres are thus far apart, we had competing services by all means of transports. However, that distance has probably increased to around 350 miles in the UK, so far as air is concerned, as can be seen by the reduction in domestic air services on our shorter routes. Road congestion has meant that driving times have also increased, thus giving rail an additional speed advantage.

Trains have not yet reached their theoretical speed limits and plans for 300 mph trains are on many drawing boards. Once they are in use, air travel on competing overland routes, of almost any length, will largely disappear. Routes where hypersonic sub-orbital aircraft can operate will be worth operating although these will generally be those over water since few countries will be prepared to accept the disturbance caused by the sonic booms implicit in such air speeds.

quote:
Yet, you shared with us such a delightful story as to the superb customer service you and Margaret received on the train.
The service on the train was excellent and the staff put themselves out greatly to help Margaret when she was ill (with the same kind of gastric upset that Shu had). The food, too, was grand and the accommodation good. I complained about none of those items. My problem was with the riding of the train on some track sections which was dreadful. This is a fault with the track and not the train or the operator. A train that cannot run at more than 20 mph because of track deficiencies is not going to attract much custom.

quote:
Perhaps if they figure out how to use electricity, they would be, but not now.
But this was the very point I was trying to make. Trains throughout most of the world (such as each and every one of the trains you had taken on your several trips to the UK) are all powered by electricity. The USA is probably the only major country where this does not apply (although China had been reliant on coal until quite recently. It is very, very easy to get trains to run using electricity and we have been doing it in the UK for over a century. The world's oldest electrified railway is still running just 14 miles from me, in Brighton, and I'll take you to see it next time you're here, if you like. http://www.volkselectricrailway.co.uk/

quote:
Well, that doesn't sound optmistic to me. Remember, we would need trains that aren't limited in range because our country is relatively big.
The whole point about my comment is that trains are almost the only means of transport that are NOT limited in range by having to carry their own fuel (the major problem with electricity as a power source for vehicles is storing it in a portable system). the electricity you use in your home is generated many miles away and transmitted to you by cables. That same electricity could as easily be transmitted to a railway track and thus to a train via a third rail (as in southern England) or via an overhead catanery (as in most of the rest of the world's railways.

After 75 years of failing demand, trains are due a resurgence and the increasing oil crisis will surely help this resurgence.


Richard English
 
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I have always like the idea of the "rails to trails" movement which has been reclaiming the space that railroad tracks have taken to make bike trails. I see now, however, that we'll never be able to get back to a less car-dependant position if we continue to do such rennovation. I would love to be able to travel by train, but alas, my own town doesn't have any passenger trains at all. And Columbus is the largest city in Ohio! Trains would be a great way to invest money in R&D so that we could have a feasible national public transport system. But as was pointed out in the gun discussion, we have some VERY powerful and influential lobbyists who are paid by the automotive industry (and unions). I fear that our political system might be too corrupt to support such a green course of action.


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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This area has heavily invested in light rail. One can now traverse the Portland metro area west to east, and they're now installing a north-south system. They're also proposing a standard rail link from the "Silicon Forest" high tech area to a new high tech area south of the old one. That one will cross three counties. Commuter rail use is high here, but people keep pouring in to Portland faster than the infrastructure expands. The answer? A population cap, at 3/4 of what we've already got! Roll Eyes
 
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And Columbus is the largest city in Ohio!

I swear that Columbus is the smallest big city around. Does either Cleveland or Cinncinati have trains? They both have professional sports teams, which often are measures of how large a city is; yet Columbus (as far as I know) doesn't have a professional sports team. And Ohio State University doesn't count. Many cities have universities. Had I not met you, CW, I would have laughed if anyone said that Columbus is the largest Ohio city. I wonder why it is the largest city in Ohio and yet most people don't realize it. Strange.
 
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I have always like the idea of the "rails to trails" movement which has been reclaiming the space that railroad tracks have taken to make bike trails.

It maybe made some kind of sense in the 1960s, the heyday of rail closures, but it makes no sense at all now. In the UK we had the famous "Beeching Axe" where a certain Dr Beeching, an industrialist, was charged by the Government of the day (whose transport minister was a certain Ernest Marples, one of the Marples Ridgeway road building firm) with the job of making the railways "pay". A daft and impossible idea. It's a pity he wasn't given the job of making the roads "pay" then the idea would have been shown up as the impossibility it was.

He got cracking and rapidly set about closing the "non-profitable" lines (although he kept the line open from London to East Grinstead, where he lived). Thus many of our less heavily-used lines were closed and it then became clear that, although many of the smaller lines didn't make a strict financial profit, they served all sorts of social purposes and, of course, fed passengers into the main rail network.

It's much easier to close a railway than it is to build one and we are now suffering, especially in the south east, from massive road congestion as we have many more houses than we did half a century ago and no way to move people apart from the roads. Many other cities, in most countries of the world, are in the same situation and, apart from the traffic jams that are now a daily occurrence, the rapid depletion of oil reserves means that something must be done - and railways (with their cousins, trams ([streetcars]) are one way forward.


Richard English
 
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Kalleh and CW, I tripped over that Columbus statement as well, but I have not lived in Ohio since 1967. When I was growing up in Cincinnati, I think the pecking order was Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus, with Cincinnati having about half a million and the metro area was more line 1 million. I just googled Ohio population stats and came up with the same top three, but Columbus is on top, and if Ohio State has, what, 85,000 students on X campuses, subtracting the university population won't change the order:

1 Columbus 730,657
2 Cleveland 452,208
3 Cincinnati 308,728

When we were back in Cincinnati last fall for the first time in 17 years, we found that so much had changed. Lots of the population has moved out into what used to be thought of as the distant suburbs (but which because of the Interstates running all the way through town are really quite quick and easy to reach). I have no idea what the comparative sizes of the metro areas populations are, but I'll bet Columbus still comes out on top. When we drove by Columbus, it went on forever, and it didn't used to do that.

As for the size of any Ohio city compared to Chicago, well, Kalleh, we bow to your superior numbers!

Wordmatic
 
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P.S. I don't know about train travel from Cincy anymore, but the Union Terminal there is or was a tourist attraction--an old WPA project with great murals. Actually, I know it is possible to travel by train from Philadelphia to Chicago, so I'll have to check the Amtrak schedule to see if it passes through Cincy. When I lived there, there was excellent bus transportation inside the city, but I am not aware of trains going to any of the nearby towns, as we have here in the Philadelphia region (just not to my town, unfortunately).

WM
 
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Hey...how about Philidelphia for our next Wordcraft Gathering? I love Philadelphia's history. Just a thought.

I'd enjoy taking a train from Chicago to Philadelphia. I doubt that it would even be that long.
 
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Philadelphia, or Boston, or Williamsburg.

Williamsburg and Boston would mean a train trip on the Capitol Ltd. which to my mind is one of the best trains in America.

The train to Philly not so nice, but a beautiful ride.
 
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Do we have members in that area who would be willing to take on the job of coordinating the ground arrangements?


Richard English
 
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Yes, me, but I have difficulties with driving due to vision problems, which would mean that I would have to enlist the help of others, which would mean at the very least conning George into helping with this. Right now is not the best time to ask as he is recovering from a small surgery....But let me think on it and also if there are other ideas in the interim, this strikes me as something that I could do better once I am retired, because in no way do I have Kalleh's energy!

Also, possibly a decent interval would pass between gatherings, such as a year? Wink

After posting that bit about the train between Philly and Chicago yesterday, I looked it up, and it actually goes Washington D.C. to Chicago and apparently is the only train that ever stops at Union Terminal in Cincinnati anymore. I didn't check into actual time on board, though, but it does sound like a fun train trip, so Kalleh, maybe one of these days I'll hop that train myself and come to Chicago.

Wordmatic
 
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A year would be a logical gap; the Chicago gathering this year was less than a year after Birmingham because we needed to fit in with some members' work commitments.

I would be quite happy to consider a spring 2008 meeting in Philadelphia - what do others think?

The idea of taking the train from Washington DC is appealing - and I might then continue on to Chicago and thence to Seattle again.


Richard English
 
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I think it sounds great. The beauty of the East coast is that the cities are so close. It's not that far from NYC, Boston or Washington DC, relatively speaking.

I really don't think it that important for someone to live there anyway. We can all plan together on the Internet. I don't want to put Wordmatic on the spot. We can take cabs and public transportation. Actually, in thinking about it, maybe even Washington DC would be better. The public transportation there is phenomenal. There are so many museums and monuments that it's amazing (just don't bring Phil, Bob, since he hates museums!). Georgetown is delightful, and if we gather in April, we can see the cherry blossoms. I travel to Washington DC a lot and would surely be able to help there. We have time to think about this.

BTW, in a few weeks the 17-year locusts will emerge in Illinois. That would have been interesting for the Wordcraft Gatherers. There are outdoor weddings being replanned and our local outdoor concert center is making special plans to stifle the noise; it's quite a time! We'll get some pictures. Wordmatic, it might be a nice time for your train trip to Chicago (if you don't mind bugs; they're actually kinda cute). We'd love to have you (and George) whenever.

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I really don't think it that important for someone to live there anyway.

I am inclined to disagree. In many years of arranging travel and gatherings I know how important it is to have a competent person on the ground. It's not just the work (although work there will be) it's the presence when things go wrong (as they inevitably will). Plus a local's knowledge of the area can never be replaced by internet information.


Richard English
 
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I tend to agree with Richard. I think the recent trip shows how much more fun it is when you have (and in my case stay with) local people who know and love the area and can give you all kinds of great suggestions for things to do based on their own personal experience. I don't think it would have been nearly as enjoyable if I hadn't been visiting friends.


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So is Philadelphia winning out over Columbus for '08?


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I, Wordmatic, being of sound mind....am not on the spot, but:

  • I will be glad to host a Wordcraft gathering in Philadelphia at some point in the future, but probably not as soon as the spring of 2008. Summer of 2008 is a possibility, but April and May are terribly busy times at my job, and not workable for me. Spring of 2009 could also be possible, if I am retired by then (all up in the air at this point, but if we win the lottery, then sooner!)
  • Unfortunately, we are not really set up to host people very graciously at our home, what with fairly limited space and the grown sons' bedrooms having been taken over by George's creeping photography business. We are 30 miles outside the city, not near a train line or convenient bus route (it takes from 2 to 3 hours to get into Philadelphia by public transportation from our home.) But I would be very glad to recommend hotels where we might all stay in Philadelphia (I would also, just to not have the hassle of going back and forth for a couple of days. That would be fun!) Many of the best places to visit are right in town. Depending on the size of the group and the destinations, we could take public transportation, taxis, and/or find people to drive.
  • I agree that it is good to have someone "on the ground" in the location, to run interference and recommend restaurants and sights to see, and especially if I can con George into helping, we could perform that service decently(George has worked in the city for the past 25 years and knows it inside and out. I have only been the occasional visitor, especially since it became difficult for me to make the drive there myself.)


So, fellow Wordcrafters, think two years, not one, and possibly think of some other locale for the next convention. Or declare them biennial....

Thanks for the invite to Locust City, Kalleh. I may take you up on that. Our last returning cycle of 17-year cicadas here was a couple of summers ago, and it was very strange that they seemed to emerge in clusters in very localized areas. We had almost none in our neighborhood, but 10 miles up the road, near our veterinarian's office, people were finding the cicadas' dried shells piled up a foot deep around certain trees. It seems that the rise of lawn care services applying chemicals had killed them in patches here and there. These critters also woke up and plagued Cincinnati when I was about 7, and I can remember running around with my sister and collecting the empty shells from tree trunks and putting them on our shirts, where they would stick, like grim little brooches.

Wordmatic
 
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I heartily disagree with all of you.

What a miserable life if everything had to be planned with someone knowing the ins and outs of things first. Ken and I went to Paris knowing no one there and only using the books we bought. We had an absolutely fabulous time. Anywhere has books for restaurants, hotels or other sightseeing events. It is absolutely not necessary for these Gatherings to be where someone must live.

On the other hand, Philidelphia is a great historical city, and I've always loved it. We could find a good hotel via the Internet and set up a few restaurant reservations that way, too. Of course we wouldn't think of imposing on you, Wordmatic. The only reason I offered our home was because right now all our children have moved out, and we just had the room. Besides, we live close to public transportation and businesses in our area. Before I even got up some days, the crew were out having breakfast at our local Panera. That all made it so convenient.

Perhaps I am just more the independent type...or maybe it's that I travel so much with my job and I am forced to find things to do and places to eat...but I just don't think we have to plan a place where one of us lives. I think it's fun to adventure into the unknown. Heck, I have found the most mundane cities to be wonderful. My family laughs at me when I say how great Dubuque, Iowa is, or Cleveland, Ohio, or Lake Morey, Vermont. I'm going to St. Louis tomorrow and just can't wait! Oh...and then there's St. Paul, Minnesota...lovely! And Savannah, Georgia! Oh, and Portland, Oregon is one of my favorites! And...

By the way, April and May are especially busy for me as well. The summer is much better for us, though we perhaps we could fit it in. Even this last one was hard because I had to miss a big portion of a conference that I was supposed to attend, and even then I had to leave our Gathering early to make the tail end of that conference.

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So, does anybody want to do my idea for a riverboat cruise (an idea I had a couple of weekends ago and brought up during the chat) of a riverboat cruise in which you stop at every city with a baseball team and see a game?

Nah, well, it's just an idea.

Happy wanderings, Kalleh. I like to explore different places too, but I don't think my feet are quite as itchy as yours!

WM
 
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I know I didn't manage Chicago, but I must put in something on the earlier meeting in Birmingham, England. Although Richard put in a lot of hard work organising the event from 100-odd miles away, it was really useful to have a local on the spot in the form of Bob. His suggestion of the visit to the Black Country Living Museum, in particular, was inspired!

Although a local person may not always be necessary, I think it would always be better if there were someone around who knows the area.


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Spring of 2009 could also be possible, if I am retired by then (all up in the air at this point, but if we win the lottery, then sooner!)

Spring 2009 in Philadelphia sounds delightful - but I'd like to think we'll be able to meet again before then. Now that we have managed to have two gatherings in two years I would like to think that we can maintain the impetus. That there was only six months between gatherings this time was a question of some people's availability - that won't always the case.

I would certainly like to have another meeting in 2008 and I don't much mind where it is. The USA has a major claims since that's where most of our members live - but the main criterion has to be that it is where there is someone willing to take charge - and the more local that person the better. Kalleh's point about visiting new places and enjoying the serendipity of exploration is a good one - but for solo travellers. Indeed, for solo travellers it is often the only possibility. However, for gatherings where people are travelling from all over the world to meet others of like interests, representation on the ground is of significant benefit.

Those who organise conferences will always have a locally-based representative and will also make a number of research trips to assess the suitability of the venue. As others have said, the success of our two Wordcraft gatherings has been in large measure due to the local presence of those who have been prepared to give so willingly of their time and effort.

Margaret and I will be crossing the Atlantic again in early 2008 - possibly in May - so Canada or the USA would fit in quite well for us. But, as I said, I am happy to consider anywhere.


Richard English
 
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Kalleh's point about visiting new places and enjoying the serendipity of exploration is a good one - but for solo travellers.

Okay, I am going to be brutally honest, and I hope I don't offend anyone. I felt a little "on the spot" for the Chicago Gathering, and it was not easy keeping everyone happy. It is the one disadvantage about leaving it up to only one or two. I'd never think of traveling anywhere without reading about the place first (and I had read about the Black Country Museum), and I suspect most Wordcrafters would agree on that.

I, too, would like to see us have something in 2008, but maybe we should just wait until 2009? I am undecided on that. May would most likely be a disaster for me, though.
 
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I felt a little "on the spot" for the Chicago Gathering, and it was not easy keeping everyone happy

But you did a wonderful job and I am sure that we all really appreciated it - the more so since we know how busy you are.

Which is why I'd certainly not expect the same person or family to oversee the event twice in succession. There is a lot of time and effort involved and the larger the gathering the more the effort. However, unless the gathering becomes so large that we need to seek professional help (and the attendant expense that such help would involve) then the help of willing volunteers is important.

So far as pre-trip research is concerned - it's something I always do in depth. I used always to rely on the printed material I could buy at Stanfords (the world's best map shop) - http://www.stanfords.co.uk/ but these days I also check the internet. I feel half naked if I don't have a decent map with me when I travel and it was surely a blessing as we travelled across the USA on the Empire Builder.

Wherever the 2008 gathering is, I shall be there - with my map and guide-book.


Richard English
 
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There is a lot of time and effort involved and the larger the gathering the more the effort. However, unless the gathering becomes so large that we need to seek professional help (and the attendant expense that such help would involve) then the help of willing volunteers is important.

You see, it's statements like this that would scare me away. I think we should keep it free and easy or I am afraid they won't ever happen again. If I were to do this in the future, I'd suggest we have a list of things to do and let people pick from that. There would always be time to gather together. I tended to pick places I love, like the Art Institute, which obviously weren't "loves" of everyone. Yet people seemed to wait for me to give them the plan of the day. I think these should be done more individually (when people know what's available) with certain places where we'd all meet. Then the onus isn't on someone and there isn't a "lot of time and effort spent."

BTW, CW, I also think Columbus would be a fabulous place for all of us to meet.
 
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Columbus has wonderful gardens, some great museums, and the Air Force Museum is not too far away. That is whole day in and of itself and a fascinating place. I had a grand time in Columbus when we had our quilt classes there.
 
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