SAM Roundup 

Wherein Pete violates one of his Conference Admonitions and is nearly denounced... 

My role on the Society for American Music web committee meant that I should, if at all possible, show up at the Society's annual meeting (held a couple of weeks ago in Chicago). I was actually unsure about attending, especially since I wasn't sure I could afford it now that my conference activities are no longer subsidized by a university. Still it was going to be an excellent chance to meet up with friends (and legions of devoted POTS Sayz readers), and I'd never been to Chicago, and the University of Sydney ended up paying for the fancy hotel room, so it looked like I could go. Actually the straw was being invited to participate in a discussion/roundtable on extra-academic research tools in the pursuit of academic topics. As I relied almost exclusively on materials produced outside the academy for my book, I was looking forward to giving a short spiel.

In doing so I essentially broke my Ninth Admonition: Thou shall not try to extemporize from notes at the expense of reading from a prepared text. C threatened to show up and denounce me as a hypocrite (and possibly as a counter-revolutionary as well...). However, in my opinion the session was not a "research" session like most of the others at the conference, and which I had in mind when I wrote the Admonition, and was likely to be lightly attended. For these reasons I felt I could do more of an unscripted presentation and talk more informally about my research. Thankfully, an ugly confrontation was avoided when C decided she couldn't be bothered with upholding her revolutionary duties and instead slept through the session in the comfort of the Heavenly Bed™.

I decided to try Keynote in a real-world situation and built most of the presentation on my 2004-era iMac using the demo version that's part of iWork 06. I forgot, however, that I wouldn't be using the iMac for the presentation but would have to rely on my 2001-era, first-generation "400 screaming megahertz!" PB G4 during the session. The laptop was totally underpowered for Keynote as I discovered before the session, but I fortunately resisted C's devilish temptation to walk the short distance from the hotel to the Chicago Apple Store and buy a brand new laptop. Her reasoning? Since I had "convinced" her to buy her first Mac laptop years ago, it was only fair that I return the favor (there is a certain excitement one feels whenever someone else buys an expensive new toy in one's presence).

Doubly fortunate was I because when I showed up to the session 30 minutes early to make sure I knew my technology (see the Second Admonition) the projector was all wonky. Everything was overlaid with a darkish red hue that couldn't be fixed using the image controls on the projector. I thought it was my underpowered laptop again, but the session chair's ultra-new PC laptop was also affected. We swapped out projectors (no fix) and finally swapped out VGA cables. A new cable did the trick and we started exactly on time. However, by that point I'd converted my Keynote presentation into a PPT presentation and loaded it onto the session chair's laptop (there were almost as many USB thumb drives in the room as there were audience members). So much for the fancy animation I'd labored over using the iMac.

Anyway, the presentation itself went fine, though between five and seven people were in the audience at any one time. Sunday morning at 8:30, you see. Also, we were booked into the largest room available for the conference (in fact we'd just held the annual business meeting of the society the previous evening in that room -- that's how big it was).

Oh yes, fun things: C and I took the EL northward for a pilgrimage to Wrigley Field. Very neat, even if lots of construction was happening on the outside of the outfield wall. The Cubs have been in a struggle for years with the owners of the brownstones immediately outside right field and the Cubs are building 1800 more seats that will also further obscure the views of the people watching games from the roofs of the brownstones. We had a nice chat with the owner of a local souvenir shop, a guy who's lived in the ballpark neighborhood his entire life, and we learned that the 11 owners of the brownstones will be paying the Cubs $2 million this season to continue renting their roofs to very wealthy baseball fans.

Other fun thing: after my presentation on Sunday morning I spent several hours walking around downtown looking at the amazing architecture and generally exploring. I capped off my Chicago trip with a $12.00 ride up to the skydeck of the Sears Tower and took in the views on a superbly cloudless day (what luck!). Pictures to come...

Posted: Sun - March 26, 2006 at 10:46 AM          

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Published On: Mar 26, 2006 03:18 PM
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