Good and Bad

In précis, while I remember.

Left St. Paul last Wednesday around 3:30pm. Drove highway 94 to highway 90 to highway 39 in Wisconsin. Found Wisconsin quite cheesy. Stayed the night in Edgerton, Wisconsin—thought that was sort of odd given my recent interest in Harold Edgerton, who is from Aurora, Nebraska—not Wisconsin. Found out that there had been tornados near the Twin Cities the night we left.

Took highway 39 to highway 80. Considered going to Toledo, Ohio for the heck of it. Didn’t. Went to the Indiana Dunes instead; remembered my mom’s story of visiting the “beach” from Gary, Indiana around 1941. Decided later that this was probably the beach she was at. Abandoned highway 80 for highway 94, and ended up in New Buffalo, Michigan for dinner at a pub called “The Stray Dog.” Encountered an accident outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan—then forged on to Ann Arbor by evening. Found out that storms were dropping golf-ball sized hail on Edgerton, Wisconsin.

Arrived at the University of Michigan conference Originality Imitation Plagiarism: A Cross Disciplinary Conference on Writing. Listened to interesting papers by Maria Cochran from Iowa State, Michelle Cox from the University of New Hampshire, and Katheleen Keating from Greensboro College. Really enjoyed the exhibit of pop art in the museum across the street. Watched Lessig’s keynote, and kept wondering about the leap we make jumping from discussing creative products as property to discussing the dispersal of knowledge as property.

On Saturday morning, Hurricane Rita struck. Saw interesting talks by Charles Bazerman, Siva Vaidhyanathan, and Jessica Litman. Delivered a paper centered on the disputes surrounding the photography of Anish Kapoor’s Cloudgate located in Millennium Park in Chicago. Decided that it would be best to leave right away, because Krista and I have heavy obligations this week. Drove highway 94 back to Benton Harbor, Michigan. Would have stayed in Paw Paw (for the town’s name as much as anything else), but there was no room at the inn. Discovered that the Nikon 8400 digital camera I had fallen in love with over the summer was now broken and unable to focus.

Woke up Sunday morning and went to the Walmart and bought a Panasonic DMC-LZ2 digital camera, because I really wanted to photograph Cloudgate. Krista read the manual while I drove into Chicago. It was raining intensely all the way in, but when we located Millennium park, it stopped for the moment. Shot around three hundred photographs in the park, and talked to the photographer at the center of the controversy over the sale of photographs of Cloudgate, Bob Horsch. Great guy, really. Very glad I stopped. Got back on the road, and ended up in the Indian section of Chicago; Krista was shooting out the window as I drove. When we made it back to highway 94, the rain started again. By the time we got to Milwaukee, I could hardly see. Debated about driving straight through to the Twin Cities, but ended up staying the night in the Wisconsin Dells.

Toured the studio of the photographer H.H. Bennett, who set up shop there in 1865. The studio facility he built in 1875 still survives as a national landmark. It is very impressive, and there is a lot more to be said about it. This last stroke was just pure dumb luck—but in many ways, it was the best part of the trip. Moments after leaving this studio, I dropped the brand new Panasonic camera on the ground and broke it.