beige_alert: (Science)
I went to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, for the American Society for Mass Spectrometry conference. This was, naturally, business-related travel. I know that people who travel for work all the time mostly hate it, but I very rarely get sent on business trips, so it really does remain a fun adventure for me. Mostly, actually, I go to someplace in the Chicago area, the next big city over, which isn't so exciting because I grew up there and travel there for fun frequently, but it also isn't very hard to do, just two hours of driving, or 90 minutes on a train to go to the actual city center. Trips far away are much rarer and, as I say, are a fun adventure even if the actual travel is something of a nuisance.

lots more )


Mar. 2nd, 2007 10:33 am
beige_alert: (beigeland)
Pittcon is not a science fiction convention, it's a science convention, the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy. This year it was held in Chicago at McCormick Place. Chicago being easy to get to from Milwaukee, they sent me there on Thursday, which was free admission day.

It turns out that there are a remarkably large number of companies selling stuff related to chemistry, and most of them where there. If you like talking to sales people, this is the event for you. At least one of them recognized me from his previous visits to our lab when he worked for a different company. I came away with a vast number of catalogs, lots of pens, notepads, timers, and other miscellanea with various logos printed upon them.

The coolest thing I saw, though with no relevance to anything I actually do, would probably be Hitachi's TM-1000 tabletop scanning electron microscope. The thing is tiny. You could set it on your desk at home next to your computer or ham radio or whatever and be all ready to magnify stuff by 10,000 times. Just under $60,000.

Though it was snowing pretty vigorously here in the morning, my trip to Chicago by Amtrak was as uneventful as it usually is. Though all manner of storms were forecast, I didn't get rained on much at all in Chicago. The bus ride to and from McCormick Place was the big-city marvel of walking up to the bus stop and thinking "I wonder when the bus will arriv---oh, there it is."

After the show I wandered a bit in fairly dense fog, which was fun. The city is pretty in the fog. Maybe London is prettier in the fog, I don't know, but it was nice. It does disrupt my normal Chicago navigational method, which consists of looking for the really obvious landmarks such as the Sears Tower, the whateverthehelltheycallitnow building that I still call the Amoco building, the Hancock, maybe Marina City or Lake Point Tower. In the fog, it's all just fog in all directions. Fortunately, the area is getting fairly familiar to me. And yes, I did stop at Moonstruck Chocolate, as usual.

photos )


Jun. 17th, 2006 10:43 pm
beige_alert: (10m)
I spent the day in Chicago, wandering. It's been way too long since the last time I did that. Amtrak will take one between the station in Milwaukee and Union Station in Chicago in a bit over an hour and a half for $20 each way. It's a nice ride, in a spacious and quiet train. They even have electricity, standard mains sockets along the wall by each seat. Handy for iPod recharging. Maybe someday we'll have WiFi like our European friends. For now, just having some means of travel besides driving is nice.

I wandered through Millennium Park. The "bean" is cool, an oddly-shaped highly polished unit of art. The curvy bridge is neat. I think I have been near Buckingham Fountain before, but it's been a long time. I went to the Hancock Center's observation deck, on the 94th floor at 314 meters. Quite a view. You get to look way, way down onto the rooftops of buildings that would be towering skyscrapers in a shorter city, such as Milwaukee. (The tallest building in Milwaukee is the 42 floor 183 meter US Bank building, which I just learned while looking up the height was, like the Hancock and the Sears Tower, one of Fazlur Kahn's designs.) There is a section with mesh to let you feel the breezes and hear the noise of the rooftop air conditioning equipment on the neighboring buildings. I even found a gift in the gift shop. You'll know if I got it for you.

I had forgotten that there was a Moonstruck Chocolate shop in Chicago, but I walked by it and stopped in for a chocolate milkshake.

It is fun just wandering around. Milwaukee is gradually turning into a place where things happen and people live and you can find people walking about other than me, but Chicago is in a whole different category. I think even the New Yorkers and the Londoners will have to admit that Chicago is a Real City (TM), too. I like Milwaukee, I really do, but if you live in, say, London, England, and are not thinking "golly, on my next vacation I really want to visit Milwaukee, Wisconsin," I can totally understand why.

I am planning some museum visits in the near future.


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