Sunday, October 4, 2009

Notes on Another Business Trip


Lovely town, Milwaukee. Nice people, good bars and copious amounts of beer. We stayed in what is now the Hilton and was once the Schroeder, a charming 1928 Art Deco edifice. One of my fellow conference attendees woke in the night to the sound of ballroom music and saw someone or something sitting on the foot of her bed. According to the staff, this happens a lot.

Amtrak is a pleasant change from flying. I eavesdropped on a toddler conversing in her own language with a very patient Seeing Eye dog named Verna, from Bloomington until the child’s mother removed her at Joliet.

In Union Station three fresh-faced Amish teenagers watched, fascinated, while a trio of plainclothes cops frisked a young man with a guitar case.

A two-hour layover in Chicago gives one ample time for a side trip to Fishman’s and Vogue Fabrics, conveniently located less than a block from each other. I have recently taken the Wardrobe Refashion pledge and so I only bought a belt-buckle (sigh).

Learned the story behind the Great Milwaukee Fry-Up of 2009. Turns out that a young man home from Iraq had brought his little brother an M158. Popularly known as “red star clusters,” these are pyrotechnic devices designed to shoot a flaming trail of red sparks high into the air as a pre-arranged signal during combat operations.

Unfortunately the two of them fired it off in proximity to the Patrick Cudahy Co. food-processing complex and some of the residue landed on the roof of the bacon-processing plant. The resulting fire forced local officials to evacuate a one-mile square area of adjacent neighborhoods and took twenty-seven fire departments two days to control.

(Next time your brother asks for a souvenir, son, get him a t-shirt).

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