November 13, 2007

Chicago! (Whoa-oh!)

CHICAGO, Nov. 9 -- SO THERE I AM in Chicago with my friends Mark and Norm and we're standing in the lobby of the Chicago Board of Trade on Friday afternoon, trying to wheedle our way into the glorious temple of capitalism. Alas, it was not to be: not only had the exchange closed before we arrived, it was no longer open to the public, and like many of our nation's grand institutions it now required Knowing Someone on the Inside to visit. You know, for security reasons.

Gee, was that disappointing. I mean, it's the CBOT -- where commodities of all kinds are traded, in the name of God and profit, by crazy people wearing funny looking jackets. After being denied at the security desk, I had thought to myself that perhaps we could harass one of these traders to let us in, as a few of them were rushing about. But that didn't seem to be much of an option, because those traders had looks on their faces that seemed to say, "Christ! I'm down-limit on pork bellies!"

So we were disappointed and left without seeing the floor of the exchange. That said, I have to think this whole matter of "security" seems a bit much. I mean, it's the CBOT. If there's any group of people capable of ripping apart limb from limb those who would disrupt their work, it's the people on the CBOT floor.

So yeah, I was in Chicago this weekend on a business trip. Fun stuff and enjoyable all the way around. Got in Friday afternoon and went into the city for much of the day. After dark, we saw the cityscape from the top of the Sears Tower, and it was starkly beautiful; it looked like something out of a science-fiction movie. Then, we made our way back out to O'Hare, where our conference was being held, with a side trip to procure beer.

READER: So where was your conference held exactly?

Shoeless Joe's Sports Bar in Rosemont.

READER: Wait, what?

OK, it was actually held in the Sheraton on the other corner, but much of the scant free time we had was spent in Shoeless Joe's. This was a great sports bar, and especially good for anyone who likes Big Ten football, like I do. Another advantage: Midwestern portions. On Saturday night, whilst watching the Boston College-Maryland game with my friend Norm, my friend Norm got an entire chicken coop's worth of wings, while I can say my order of fried calamari represented the first time I've been presented with a whole squid.

It was a crazy weekend for college football and I am actually glad I didn't get to see most of it. Amazingly, all three college teams of my crew lost this weekend -- Michigan, Ohio State and Boston College. It was downright bizarre. First, Michigan fell to Wisconsin, and then the Fighting Zooks of Illinois stomped Ohio State, and then Maryland beat the Eagles. I did, however, get to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers make an amazing comeback against the Cleveland Browns in NFL action. True, I had to watch at a cramped bar in Concourse B of the United terminal at O'Hare, but I still got to see most of it. I would have preferred, though, to see the game at Billy's Sports Bar back here in Manchester, if only because I think Hapless Browns Fan Rick's head may have exploded.

I'd like to say Pittsburgh, which is now 7-2, is the No. 2 team in the AFC. However, I can't. Such a statement, you see, relies heavily on the idea that one actually knows which Pittsburgh team is going to show up in any given week. There are some Sundays when we look like a Super Bowl team and others when we look, well, like we did last year. Ugh. Still, I think all can agree that Pittsburgh remains the No. 3 team in the AFC, and that ain't all bad.

But back to Chicago, whose football team stinks this year. I like Chicago. I was duly impressed with its mass transit system, which actually works. A good mass transit system is invaluable if one lives in a big city and Chicago's seemed to fit the bill. My only regret is that I wasn't able to get some Chicago-style pizza while in town -- but hey. If I ever truly have the yen for it, I can order it on-line!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at November 13, 2007 12:18 AM | TrackBack
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