An underground view of an academic conference [NOOK Book]


An underground view of an academic conference - Including unauthorized visits to the women’s bathroom and a breakdown on the interstate highway

Bill is a member of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations (ISCSC). This organization’s annual conference in 2009 is held at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Bill and a fellow member ...
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An underground view of an academic conference

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An underground view of an academic conference - Including unauthorized visits to the women’s bathroom and a breakdown on the interstate highway

Bill is a member of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations (ISCSC). This organization’s annual conference in 2009 is held at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Bill and a fellow member of the Society drive to Kalamazoo from St. Paul, Minnesota, to attend the conference.

The three-day conference features papers presented from civilization scholars around the world. Bill himself chairs a session. He tries to explain the mechanism for the decay of civilizations in terms of what he calls “self-conscious” thinking. He also befriends an artist from Boston who believes that prehistoric cave drawings were an early form of writing.

In this otherwise staid academic gathering, Bill notices two good-looking, well-dressed women taping the sessions with a video camera. It turns out that they are from a teacher’s institute in Siberia. Bill attends their session which is about moral instruction in Russian schools. The current government of Russia is trying to revive studies in Russian Orthodox Christianity as a means of strengthening Russian identity.

The dormitory arrangements are a problem at this conference. The two sexes have to be lodged in the same building. Because more men than women are attending the conference, some of the male participants, including Bill, have to be placed in the “women’s wing” of the building. The bathroom immediately across the hall is designated as a woman’s bathroom even though it has a urinal while the bathroom in the other wing of the building does not.

Bill is worried about having frequently to use the bathroom at night. The official “men’s” bathroom, which seems more suitable for women, is in the other wing of the building while the one across the hall is officially off limits to men. After someone tells Bill it is all right to use the bathroom across the hall, he uses it without incident for the rest of the conference and even takes showers.

Bill’s friend from St. Paul tells him that some women have been complaining about men using their bathrooms. Bill thinks he is talking about someone else. Then, on the final evening of the conference, Bill again enters the bathroom across the hall. When he looks up, he sees one of the Russian women looking back at him. She seems to be smiling. Bill beats a hasty retreat.

Now the conference is over. Bill and his friend drive back to Minnesota, a distance of five hundred miles. Twenty miles south of Tomah, Wisconsin, there is a loud screeching noise. The car scrapes the pavement for several hundred feet and then comes to a halt in the passing lane next to a concrete construction barrier.

It is a dangerous situation. The friend tries to flag approaching traffic while Bill walks toward a road sign so he can read their location. Eventually, a truck stops to help. The driver attaches a rope from the car’s front bumper to the back of the truck and hauls the car across the highway to the shoulder on the other side as another truck blocks traffic.

When the state trooper does arrive, the friend arranges for a tow truck to move the disabled car to a repair shop in Tomah. There is a further problem: The friend has to be at work at 6:00 a.m. on the following day. Bill borrows the cell phone and calls a friend in Minneapolis. The friend agrees to drive the 160 miles between Minneapolis and Tomah to pick up Bill and his friend.

On the way back to Minnesota, Bill excitedly tells his friend from Minneapolis about the conference. He then realizes that this has been quite an adventure. Not only was he exposed to interesting ideas about civilization but also to the “human” aspect of attending academic conferences.

This is the fifth in a series of Bill Mack’s personal adventure stories. Bill, a college-prepared idealist, is someone ready to act on his ideas even if some of them are unrealistic. In this case, Bill encounters personal drama at a conference intended to discuss themes of world history.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940012774682
  • Publisher: Thistlerose Publications
  • Publication date: 6/26/2011
  • Series: Adventures with Bill, #6
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 69 KB

Meet the Author

Bill Mack (not his real name) developed a new theory of world history which envisions that the story of human civilization can be told in five "chapters" having a consistent theme. He published this theory in a book titled "Five Epochs of Civilization". An accompanying web site is

Bill joined the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations (ISCSC), attending its annual conferences in 2001 (Newark, NJ), 2002 (Frenchman's Cove, Jamaica), 2004 (Fairbanks, Alaska), and 2005 (St. Paul, MN). After a hiatus of four years, he then attended the 2009 conference held at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where the ISCSC president, Andrew Targowski, was a business professor.

The ISCSC is an international group of scholars interested in civilization. A highlight of the 2009 conference was a pair of Russian educators from Kemerovo in Siberia whose youth and personal glamor stood in contrast with the staid personalities of some of the other conference attendees, Bill thought. They were attending the conference to discuss moral education in Russia, which meant education in the Orthodox Christian faith.

That does not mean that the ISCSC did not include many interesting presentations, some of which are described in this story. However, Bill decided to focus on some of the "human" experiences had at a conference such as this. His unintended encounter with the younger Russian woman in the women's bathroom - it was innocent and brief - and the breakdown of his traveling companion's car on Interstate highway 94 in central Wisconsin, 160 miles away from home, are two such experiences.

Bill is a 1964 graduate of Yale University whose career was in accounting and rental-property management rather than education. However, he has written and published seven books on various subjects and is proprietor of several websites with extensive traffic. In 2011, he was program chair of the ISCSC conference held in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he had campaigned for President seven years earlier.
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