I have the power…

This latest trip to Chicago was productive, enjoyable, eventful, and tiring (I think exhausting probably sounds better, but that might be a bit of hyperbole). I stayed at four different locations over seven nights, and really made the most of my time in the city. The kindness of Chicago acquaintances and friends (both new and not-so-newish) remains overwhelming to me (not hyperbole), and I really do have a pretty fun dissertation topic. Nevertheless, on this trip in particular, I found myself regularly preoccupied with… battery life.

When I visit Chicago, I rely primarily on public transportation, and thanks to my trusty research tool extraordinare, aka the iPhone, plus the google maps app, I can get around pretty well. However, using the map frequently and consistently doesn’t bode well for my (relatively not new) phone’s battery life. I regularly found myself scouring a venue for a power outlet for fear that my phone would die before I managed to memorize the train stops, bus numbers, and directions to get me back “home.” Of course, as I wrote about here, not even having a charged phone and the app can keep me going in the right direction.

Just one of many places I charged my phone

Just one of many places I charged my phone

In (another) one of my less-than-smart moments, I ended up in Chicago for an entire week without my laptop charger. Considering the primary reasons for this trip were to document items at the Chicago History Museum, and to organize and clarify data/photos/documents from Bloodshot Records, the laptop was kind of necessary. After discovering the cost of a new charger was out of my budget ($80!!!), I opted to “borrow” one from Best Buy. The only catch was that I had to be in the store for about 35 minutes, just hanging out next to the macbook display. No one seemed to mind, and only one employee asked me if I needed help… as I was walking out the door! Also, thankfully, I stayed with someone for a couple of nights who also had a mac, so I got another charge there. These two charges gave me enough battery to do what I needed to do and get my work done.

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Doesn’t everyone take their Jamba Juice smoothie to Best Buy’s Apple display?

I didn’t realize until I walked into my house latelatelate on Wednesday night (or earlyearlyearly Thursday morning) how much brain space had been devoted to thinking about charging my electronic devices. Having many chargers and even more opportunities to charge my devices, along with knowing how to get where I’m going most of the time are all luxuries that I am not taking for granted this weekend!

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Notes from the “field”

I have mentioned my ambivalence when it comes to categorizing my research as musicology or ethnomusicology (and also what “-ist” I call myself). Regardless, I am in Chicago conducting research of various sorts (hence the quotes around field in the title), and here’s a story based on my 22 or so hours in Chicago so far.

Do you know what’s really helpful when traveling? Going in the right direction. It seems obvious, yes? Well, when I’m dealing with the CTA, it doesn’t always work so obviously. Case in point: yesterday I was trying to get from the airport to my hotel. Thanks to my iPhone (research instrument extraordinaire) and the google maps app, I had a route set involving one train and one bus.

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Part of the journey from inside the airport to the train

The train part was a piece of cake, as there is only one train departing in one direction from Midway. I got off at my stop and proceeded to the street to find the bus stop; conveniently the stop was right out the front door of the train station. Not so conveniently (for me), both the northbound AND the southbound version of this bus arrived at that stop. I did not notice this…. because as I was walking out of the train station, what I thought was my bus pulled up.

I hopped on, pleased with the fortuitous timing. My phone was dying, so once I got on the bus, I put it away; but after a few stops, I decided to check my progress. It was at this point that i realized my blue dot was NOT on the blue line heading north. I tried to remain calm and immediately got off at the next stop. I and my luggage trudged across the street and back north a block or so to find the nearest bus stop for the NORTHbound bus. I waited a solid twenty-five minutes; finally, I was on the bus headed toward my hotel.

The happy ending is, of course, that I made it to the hotel (eventually). But here’s the more interesting coda: There was a man that got off the train when I did. I remembered him because he let me exit the train before he did, and when I was trying to find the elevator, he pointed me in the right direction. When my northbound bus got back to the train station, he was still waiting and got on the northbound bus! Assuming he had been there since we disembarked from the train, my stupidity did not cost me any extra time, only a bit of embarrassment and a slew of frustration!