All posts tagged travel

First thoughts on Friends General Conference

So I get it — FGC is like a bigger version of yearly meeting.

I had the pleasure of meeting Chris M. of Quaker blogging fame for the first time, as well as Karen Street. Chris has a list of other bloggers here, though Micah Bales is the only other one on the list I’ve talked to. (I’ve also seen Kody, and will probably see Staśa this afternoon. Update: Also ran into Peterson the day after his plenary performance, and had the pleasure of meeting Robin, Liz, and Jeanne.)

Nontheist Friends events, including my and Robin Alpern’s interest group “Theist and Nontheist Friends in Conversation,” are going very well — attendance is significantly up from last year, they tell me, and the energy is very clear.

In addition to our previously scheduled events, this afternoon there’s one billed as “The Great Theist-Nontheist Conversational Smackdown of 2008″ between Chuck Fager and David Boulton, which I will try to record and post here. (Apparently it was a last-minute idea of Chuck’s.)

Quaker nontheism, membership, and the recent YAF conference

Last night of conferenceThe interest group on nontheistic Quakerism I facilitated at the aforementioned young adult Quaker conference went rather well – a report may be coming on the Nontheist Friends website. (I posted one to the email list, but would want to edit it down a bit.)

Both the interest group and the conference generally changed something for me, and I find a new sense of commitment to the Quaker experiment.

I first started attending Quaker meetings back in 2002 at North Shore Friends Meeting in Beverly, Mass., and officially became a member a few years later. I’ve been living in the city for two years now, and in the past few weeks finally decided I really really felt right about transferring membership to Friends Meeting at Cambridge. I just sent North Shore a long letter of transfer, which is found under the cut.

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Yves Saint Laurent, 1936-2008


A strange coincidence: this afternoon I was looking at a major Yves Saint Laurent exhibit, and around the same time the man himself died in Paris. It was already fabulous, but now there’s even more reason to go (ends 9/28).

(Image from the MMFA)

Mutek Non Stop

Went to the Friday evening show at Mutek, an annual electronic music festival in Montreal. (continue reading…)

I’ll sink the Midwest

Tomorrow I’m riding 16 hours in a van (and perhaps driving too?) to Indiana for the aforementioned conference. After that comes Kansas City – any hot tips on fun things to do in KC are welcome…

Young Quaker conference at Earlham

Later this month, May 23-26, a young adult Friends (YAF) conference is taking place at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. I’m going, and will be leading an interest group on theistic and nontheistic Quakerism in dialogue, if the organizers approve it.

Registration closes this week, so if you’re interested in going, hurry up!

Still mulling over what place (a) Quakerism, (b) humanism, and (c) just being a regular Joe each have in my life, but I feel a resolution (for the medium term anyway) coming soon.

A night at Lee’s Unleaded Blues

So when I was in Chicago last week I made the de rigueur blues club visit, at Lee’s Unleaded Blues.

Ironically it was a soul night, but a good time was had nonetheless.

I was mostly trying to listen, and talk to an interesting musicology student doing her thesis on Lee’s and another club called Rosa’s Lounge, but I did manage to take a few blurry photos, and a lousy “video” clip of the excellent house band, which nonetheless has a certain charm —

(Clearly I need to get some better recording equipment. For audio I’m leaning towards the Zoom H2 or a Roland, don’t know about video.)

Since it was an open mic, the aforementioned student later played some viola with the band(!), and in good time I got up to sing 2/3 of the lyrics to some Marvin Gaye. I wanted to sing Sam Cooke’s “Lost and Looking”, since I actually, you know, know the lyrics to that one, but the band didn’t know it :(

At the end I ask the MC how he tied his crazy tie, which had more knots than one would reasonably expect. He goes, “Oh, it’s a clip-on,” and reaching behind his head, “Do you want it?”

This is why I’m hostelling

(I.e., because it’s fly.)

The Loop area near the hostelSo I’m in Chicago for two days (a half day left), en route to New Mexico, staying in the downtown hostel. One of my roommates is Chinese, a poli sci student, and last night I asked him about Tibet.

He sighs, and says it’s hard to know what to think. The Communist Party tells the Chinese that the Dalai Lama is a “conspirator,” but Western media outlets say there is a big crackdown by China. The important thing is for everyone to live in peace. Both parties need to understand each other’s intentions better, and perhaps the atheistic Community Party should learn that religion is important for most people in the world.

He mentioned a YouTube video (perhaps this one) that claims Tibet was, is, and will always be a part of China. He and his friends find it funny, because the video lacks evidence. We are civilized people, he said, and when we say things there should be some evidence for them — otherwise it’s just propaganda.

Another person asked him why he’s come here to study politics. He said he feels the biggest challenge in China is political reform, and that the Chinese need to know more about other systems of government, e.g. democratic ones, so that they can, perhaps, join the free world sometime — which he said with a smile.

The Green Tortoise Hostel, Seattle

On Friday I stayed at the Green Tortoise in Seattle, which was a wonderful place. My plane (JetBlue) arrived after the last buses south, so I had to stay the night in the city. A bed in an 8-man room is $25, private rooms were around $40 I think, and there were several options inbetween. Breakfast, wi-fi, awesome.

A lock, maybe, for your storage locker. I didn’t ask, but I didn’t see any indication they rented them out.

The concierge, who seemed stoned, annoyed me greatly by taking an inordinate amount of time to check me in. But then he made up for it by helping me find a quiet place where I could talk on the phone.

The next day, I tried to take the Shared Route biodiesel bus to Olympia, but it never showed up, and their phone just played an old message saying the bus ride for the 26th was cancelled. Hippies…