Saturday, January 01, 2005

There Ain't No Gold and There Ain't Nobody Like Me

I headed out from Toronto to Boston on Tuesday. I took the Greyhound bus, so the trip was fourteen hours (actually, it ended up being twelve and a half, but that's because the driver on the last leg somehow managed to get an hour and a half ahead of schedule). Boston isn't far from Toronto as the crow flies; but a bus has to go around a Great Lake. It turned out to be even cheaper than I expected, which meant that even on a grad student's budget I could afford a little splurging here and there.

This is Peace Bridge, between Buffalo, New York and Fort Erie, Ontario. Over $7 billion (US) in commercial merchandise is carried over it each year, making it one of the most important ports of entry in North America. It was constructed to commemorate 100 years of peace between Canada and the United States, and was dedicated August 7, 1927 (I noticed this in particular because August 7 is my birthday). The site was chosen to be near where the last shots of the War of 1812 were fired, and the revolutionary decision by Canada and the United States in the aftermath (due in great measure to Richard Rush, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State after the War of 1812) not to put defenses on the border. May God grant that the example for which it stands be remembered and admired through the ages.

In any case, having crossed Peace Bridge without much trouble, I continued on the bus, via Syracuse, to Boston, arriving on Wednesday. I got a bit lost trying to get where I was trying to go, but got a nice exposure to old Boston in the process. Bostonians, by the way, are quite courteous; I was very impressed. I checked into my hotel, the Boston Milner, which I thought a nice hotel. If you like big rooms, you wouldn't like it, though; I got upgraded to a bigger room when I checked in, and it was still one of the smallest hotel rooms I had ever been in. Given the price of the rooms, which wasn't bad but also wasn't cheap, it might turn people off. On the other hand, the staff is quite good, and it has a great location - I was in a much better part of the city than those silly people who actually got rooms in the Marriott where the convention was held. I tell you, I don't know what people are thinking when they only fly into conventions on planes and only stay at the hotels in which the conventions are held; one might as well eat entirely at Burger King whenever you're in a foreign country, for all the worth you get out of such a plan of action.

But I'm rambling again. By the time I got to the hotel, I wasn't feeling that well; I went to registration to check in, but felt progressively worse as time went on. I had intended on going to the Society of Christian Philosophers session that evening, but wasn't feeling well enough to do much of anything. I just stayed in my room and watched TV. It is astonishing how little there is to watch on cable. I ended up watching Dogma. I had seen the ending before, but never the beginning. It's a very neo-Gnostic movie, complete with Metatron and a forgotten apostle. Quite interesting, actually, despite a lot of bad humor; but, then, I've always thought that Gnosticism sometimes makes good fiction even where it obviously makes absurd theology.

I felt much better the next day and attended a nice colloquium later on early modern epistemology - there was more Leibniz than I really liked, but I was glad to have caught it. James Bednar of Vanderbilt had an interesting paper on Hume's Dialogues, good enough that I will have to say something about it here at some point. And then I caught the bus home, returning this time by way of Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls.

Despite the mysterious illness of the first day, I enjoyed myself considerably. Reading around at what other people have said, I'm not sure if that's due to the objective goodness of the time I had or my subjective cluelessness as to what was going on around me. But it was still enjoyable.

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