Oshkosh kicked off its holiday festivities a couple weeks ago with a big gathering in Opera House Square. There was caroling, kid games, and food from some local restaurants (including my favorite new downtown cafe). Apparently this was the biggest party going on in the world that night, because Santa chose to stop by our town to meet the kids! Unfortunately I had only my crappy cellphone camera to document the scene. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the party, despite it being one of the first really cold days this year.
The next day Jodi and I stopped at the Fox Valley Mall in Appleton for some shopping. It's a fine mall if you need something that's there, but not really worth a trip unless you're in the area. But I guess Santa had a layover before heading back to the North Pole, because there he was again! I hate to say it, but he looked a little bored until a kid came by to chat a few minutes later. He must have been doing some market research, but he should really get back to the office to oversee production. No wonder there still aren't enough Wii's.
Today was our second Thanksgiving in Wisconsin, and also the second Thanksgiving for which there is snow on the ground. On Monday morning, we woke up to this:
Yup, that would be 4.5 inches of snow, the first real snow of the year. I must say, the true sign that we have lived in WI for some time is how I was only briefly moved by how beautiful the snow was-- I just kept thinking, "here are the four months of the year when I try to avoid re-spraining my ankle on the ice." Still, the town and campus did look aesthetically pleasing in the snow, and I'm finding that temperatures in the 30s really don't feel that cold anymore. I enjoyed inhaling the crisp snow smell while I walked across campus.
We are having a very quiet Thanksgiving weekend, mostly cleaning, grading, and getting some much needed rest. This morning I ate a bagel with lox (for nostalgic purposes) while watching the Thanksgiving Day parade and missing New York a bit. I never actually went to the parade but did go the night before the parade to see the balloons being blown up, which is an awesome experience. The parade is sheer commercialism and kitsch but I'm a total sucker for it (although I am concerned about the current relaunch of the Muppets-- I'm excited to see them getting some exposure but thought the cheesy Christmas song was so earnest that it desecrated the long history of Muppet irreverence).
This afternoon we went to some friends nearby for The Meal, and their table looked very fine indeed:
After the main meal and before dessert, we all went for a walk in the local park, which is still snow-covered. The annual winter light display throughout the park was already set up and we wandered around looking at the lights and throwing snow balls (always an excellent thing). At the top of this post is my favorite image: a man ice-fishing, in lights, right beside the lake where people will soon be ice fishing. [Note: the lake is not yet frozen. The top of the Fox River IS frozen, but it's not "safe" for ice-fishing the way the lake eventually will be]. A good, frozen time was had by all. We also ran into some friends who live in the same part of town and their extremely adorable daughter.
As we walked, we all talked about how Wisconsinites really have all of these structures in place to make the winter fun and more bearable; some people embrace the winter whereas some just muddle (or drink) their way through it, but there is really quite a lot to do here even once it gets bloody cold out.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night.
At the end of October we spent a long weekend in Chicago; while Jodi attended a conference, I got my own work done in the beautiful public library. I like to see the main library buildings of the cities I visit, and this is the first time I had made it to Chicago's, although I didn't take the time to really tour it properly. But check out this scene, which shows only a small portion of the public computers they have available! And look how packed they are -- anyone who thinks libraries are still just places to find a book hasn't been to one for a while.
The reason I was working at the library rather than the very swanky hotel hosting Jodi's conference is that they charged $60 for Jodi's wi-fi and I didn't feel paying again for my own laptop. But I'll say one things for fancy hotels -- if they're really good, they manage to integrate modern amenities into their "classy" decor. Witness the Badgers above on a pair of beautiful flat screens. The best thing about the hotel is that it was literally right next to the park where the city was preparing for Obama's victory speech the following night. Heidi blogged about our tour of the scene (and what she got to see the following night!). We would have stayed the extra night, but we booked it well in advance and wanted to make sure we got home in time to vote. This is before we heard about early voting. D'oh!