Chicago – Final

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Sat night was the Teamsters threw a bbq for us out on a lovely patio overlooking the lake. Free food – I was all over that! The hotel food was ridiculously expensive so we were always looking for other angles. The BBQ was followed by the final evening keynote address given by the blog proprietor, Markos Moulitsas. Kos to most of us. He started us out with tears right away. I posted some months ago asking for prayers for a Dkos member named Station Wagon. Unfortunately she did lose her battle with cancer. What impressed and touched me was that in Kos’ opening remarks about voices we had lost in the past year – he mentioned Station Wagon. I had expected him to mention a few more famous ones from the blogosphere, but to have him pay respects to one of ‘general population’ really was touching. It got better from there. As I listened to him, all I could think of was about many other bloggers on the right and on the left who have tried to tear him down. Typical once you do become so popular. But I have the feeling that if any of those critics who generally post some ridiculously outrageous stuff could just meet him in person, hear him talk, well, they would at least come away with respect. He started a website. And it became a movement. Pretty damn impressive.

Sunday morning I attended my annual church service 🙂 The Interfaith Service given by Pastordan who runs the Kos sponsored site on religion and politics called Street Prophets. He puts on a wonderful blend of all religious faiths including the non-religious by inviting an atheist to present a reading. He also gathers some wonderful musicians to play. As with last year, the end of the service saw more than a few in tears. It’s a beautiful thing.

The service was followed by the Bloggers Brunch, and at this point we are all sadly saying our goodbyes. When people asked me leading up to this trip why I was going to Chicago I would answer ‘to visit with friends’ – it was easier than trying to explain DailyKos and the convention and….Sure, I’ve written about panels and politicians, but really, REALLY, this weekend WAS about friends. As dear friend Brillig put it at the brunch – here’s hoping that we pause before we type some nasty retort to someone who says something we disagree with. Because now, we know them. They are NOT just 1’s and 0’s. They never were of course, but it is so easy to bang away at the keyboard and yell from behind a monitor. We must remember though, that there is flesh and blood behind all of those crazy usernames.

Oh yes, and I somehow dragged my tired butt into town and met Rambling Mom for a few hours at the Art Institute and a lovely Italian dinner . I have a book with me now to read on the Impressionist Collections there and ideas on how to display replicas on my stairway wall.

The unpacking and catching up of things at home and work? Yeah, I’ll get back to you on that!!

Day 2 from Chicago

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Had about 6 hours of sleep last night which is twice as much as the first!

There was an 8:00am keynote speaker – General Wesley Clark – who did such a good job talking about the situation in Iraq. He woke us right up 🙂 From there, I went to a panel talking about building a bridge between Religion and Secularism. This panel was run by PastorDan who runs the Street Prophets site (I am too tired to get into linking tonight!) and the conversation was so damn GOOD! The session was too short for sure and even 90 mins. I consider PastorDan a friend as he is also a long time C&Jer as is his wife, but it is so awesome to see him in his element talking about religion and politics. For me personally, he makes organized religion not feel like so much of a threat to me. From there I was thrilled to run into a lady I met last year in Vegas who was returning home to San Diego after that conference to start treatments for breast cancer. One year later she looked exactly the same to me – of course, I missed her months without hair (or eyebrows as she reminded me!) and her smile was as bright as ever. That really warmed my heart as returning to this group had made me wonder how she was.

From there I was going to sit in on a meet the candidates session, but Common Sense Mainer called me and invited me spur of the moment to go into town to the Sears Tower since the weather was gorgeous. So – I did! When I get home I will upload more photos, but I added a few to Flickr from today. We had a wonderful time at the tower, then taking a water taxi to the Navy Pier and then having lunch and wandering the pier. This is such a beautiful city (in the summer!!)

A note from yesterday – I need to look to see if an interview I did with a Denver Post journalist made it in print or online.

I came back to the room and napped and then a group of C&J ers gathered for a lovely italian dinner in town. Then it was several hours of talking out on the patio until now.

Tomorrow is the big Presidential Leadership Forum. The Premier Event for sure. Must get sleep!

Oh – Jax – I got you another Obama sticker!

Day 1 from Chicago

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Today has been mostly a social day. I’ve greeted all my C&J friends who are here so far. However, I was exhausted. I got to the room after 1:30am. My roommate arrived around 2:00 and stayed and talked for a bit, but was still in party mode and left again after 3:00am which was when I finally went to sleep. I really wanted to be up early for an 8:00 session, but that was not to be! Consequently I am not terribly coherent right now. I did come up for a nap for about 30 mins which helped me get through the night.

The afternoon MotherTalkers caucus was awesome. Not that many so we could sit with the chairs in a circle and just respond to Elisa as she threw out topics. Since we were already really familiar with each other the discussion went smoothly and many great points were made. How mother’s issues are really everyone’s issues. Elisa made the point about how the Family Leave act is thought of as JUST for maternity leave, but really is supposed to be used also to care for a sick parent for instance. It is NOT isolated just to people with children. And that is a shame because as issues are framed one way or the other, then voters tune out thinking it “doesn’t apply to them.”

The evening key note speaker was DNC chair Howard Dean. Ah, that man can SPEAK! Fired us right up and had us standing several times for him. This was followed by a Pub Quiz. Several teams had been formed in advance for this event and I wanted to attend just to learn something and see how these blogging/political geeks did 😉 I was there with my roommate Patti and our friend John and we soon noticed that these people were not as serious as we had first feared. In fact, in between rounds they were throwing paper missiles at each other! So, we started making rather immature and snarky comments out loud and cracking ourselves and nearby tables up. Oh, but did my ribs hurt at one point from laughing! Really though, it was amazing how much these people knew. I followed that up with some time outside with the smokers – always the best crowd I swear! I ended up meeting two people for the first time and having this great conversation about So Cal republicans and the dem presidential candidates and …well..just the coolest political stuff that I really eat up right now. For whatever reason I am almost as passionate about my political involvement as I am with sports stuff :->

Anyhow, many of them are still down there at the bar or out on the patio, but I had to come up to sleep. There are two more full days of increasingly great meetings to attend and I want to be rested.

Countdown to Chicago

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Leaving Aug 1 and returning Aug 6. I will get to immerse myself in lots of things I love: friends, politics, baseball, and art. Here are two items that I am specifically looking forward to seeing again:

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte-1884 by Georges Seurat
Two Sisters (On the Terrace) – 1881 by Auguste Renoir

I saw both of these when the August moms met in Chicago in October 2004. (The image I stole of the Renoir is actually from the Art Institute in Oct ’04 from someone else’s vacation 🙂 ) I was lucky enough to tour the collections with a very knowledgeable member, Alto2. She was moved to tears when we came upon the Renoir, and educated me on pointillism, the technique used by Seurat. I remember that I loved learning about the different artistic periods and techniques in my European History class in high school. Sadly, I never took the very popular Art History class at that time. Now I wish I would have! No matter, I can always learn now. That visit to the Art Institute rekindled my interest. I want to study some in June and July before my visit. Does anyone have any reading recommendations for me? I’m hoping to be able to go on my own and take one of the audio tours and wander at my own pace. I’m also going to buy a few things from their store and ship them home. Class up the joint a little, ya know? :->