My trip to the US began with a very pleasant detour to Boston where I stayed with diceytillerman. I'm just sorry it was such a short visit - really only a few hours.
I'd forgotten what colourful names the stations on the T have: there's something rather wonderful about getting a train to Alewife, Maverick or Wonderland. Then again, I might think the same about Cockfosters if I weren't used to it...
The trip was smooth, except that when my suitcase appeared on the baggage claim belt it was swathed in tape, courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration, who had broken the lock off and inserted the following billet doux:
There seemed to be no one to blame, except perhaps for Osama bin Laden, so I bought a new padlock and thought no more about it. (This new lock was, as it happened, one of the TSA-approved 'Safe Skies' variety.)
The next day there were traffic control delays, and in the end I was rerouted to Columbus via Washington. I wasn't too surprised on reaching the end of my journey to get an email telling me that my luggage hadn't been on the same flight as me (after all, something similar happened last year when I got a tight connection to Tokyo) but it made for a rather sleepless first night in Columbus, having no clean clothes to change into and hoping that the case would catch up some time overnight.
In the morning it duly arrived, and just like last year, there was a moment of intimacy between suitcase and human being:
The poor thing had, once again, been visited by the TSA, who had removed the TSA-approved lock and left another note apologising for doing so. Was I just very unlucky, or does this happen to everyone's luggage?
Anyway, so far Columbus is fun. The conference is excellent, the weather not quite as diabolically hot nor the air-conditioning as brutally cold as I'd been fearing, and I've been hanging out with friends old and new. I gave my paper on Puella Magi Madoka Magica at 8am this morning to a select audience of early birds, but it went pretty well - and in fact one of the major journal editors invited me to work it up into an article. Which I'd been thinking of doing anyway, but certainly will now.
As promised by kalimac, I'm staying right across from the Statehouse, which boasts a large bronze statue of William McKinley, flanked by two groups of allegorical supporters, of which this is the more inscrutable: