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Jan. 17th, 2010 | 07:26 pm
mood: okayI need new tires.
music: OK Go - Needing/Getting | Powered by Last.fm

Put them fancy gold vestments away.

I'm back home with no plans to travel anywhere for at least three weeks. On Thursday I went to Columbus for a conference, returned last night, and then went with my class group to Macomb Township this morning to stake out the semester-long project we'll be doing there.

Downtown Columbus windshield survey

After a feverish bout of flyering for an urban planning event next week, I left Ann Arbor around 7 p.m. on Thursday and had a very boring drive. At the least, it's nice that reflected snow cover makes it not so dark. I checked into my hotel and attempted to organize my conference talk a little bit (if you're interested in the conference, see here). On Friday morning, I made my way to the conference site by 8:45 a.m. and was there until a little after 5:00. Some of the projects sounded pretty standard digital humanities, but I liked many of the Ohio-specific community journalism and oral history projects, and one of them even inspired me to take a surprise detour on the way home that I'll detail in a later blog entry.

After returning to my hotel to veg for a while, I joined 16 of the attendees for a long dinner here. Good navratan korma, and several of the hottest conference goers were seated near me, so it was fun (but they're all not only straight but married; boo). We spent a lot of time discussing the Rust Belt towns everyone grew up in, which is helpful context for me, and everyone expressed horror that I'm an urban planner but haven't seen The Wire. So now I have an assignment.

I woke up Saturday morning and managed not to be too jittery for my presentation; see, I was expecting to get 10 or 15 minutes to speak my piece and then have a tiny bit of Q&A, maybe. But the unconference model meant that we had enough time for most presenters to get a full hour. And that's what I got. It was little nerve-racking to think of how I'd fill that much space, but in the end I talked for about 25 minutes and then got a ton of feedback from the 6 attendees. And I don't think 6 is bad for the first conference presentation I've ever done. Following that I started guzzling coffee as I zoned in and out of the next two sessions, which also had an urban studies flavor before the conference wrapup.

CSCC conference center, our host

I spent a little time driving around abandoned neighborhoods following that, then got on the highway to my secret next destination. There was mega-fog on I-75, but if anything it made the countryside more interesting (sorry, western Ohio natives, but I didn't find it particularly scenic). Following the secret stopoff, I kept driving toward home and was sufficiently restless and bored that I stopped in Toledo to do the grocery shopping I'd need to do when I returned anyway. I finally made it to Ann Arbor around 7:30, and finally watched The Hangover with Glenn, Mike, Kyle, and Justin; good flick. Mike Tyson should star in more movies as himself, giant face tattoo and all. Anyhow, I went to Gautam's party after that, and although the boys were cute and the gin was cold, the law school shop talk got old fast, so I ended up meeting Tom and Paul at Aut Bar. Only one drink and about 30 minutes spent there, but a guy named Austin got my number; I'm pretty certain he's lying about his age but I doubt I'd care if he ended up in my bed. He called me at 2:30 in the morning, long after I was already in bed, but let's see if he does again.

As much as I like my new wiper blades, I really didn't want them in this shot.

Regarding the Macomb Township trip today, it wasn't all that long, and Miranda drove so I just had to take notes on what we saw. As for the project, we're a bit limited. The fact that their homepage assigns to "sprawling subdivisions" a positive connotation is telling. I'm happy that they want a pedestrian master plan, but realistically not many people are going to attempt to leap across six lanes of traffic to get to the library, even if the crosswalks are nice. Still, we'll do as we're asked and might have the most success with suggesting riverside trails that can widen into a linear park in one or more places. And one of the advantages of working in a fast growing place like this is that they do have the funds for some such projects. I'll update extensively as the project moves forward, probably.

Maybe I should do homework for the first time in 4 days now.

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