Monday, October 10, 2011

Most of all, I miss the stuff

I have to admit that as much as I've liked being a librarian, I don't miss my job.  I would miss my friends I made at work but since I still keep in touch with them and see them at least every two weeks, that doesn't apply.  One of the things that I think about around this time of year though is the conferences.  The trips with friends and colleagues to different cities (where we always tried to squeeze in some time for sight-seeing) and also catching up with the various vendors (sales reps) that I might only see every few years, otherwise.

Various items I have in my home office
But, I have to admit that I mostly miss the stuff.  By stuff, I mean the free stuff that the vendors give out from their tables set up in the vendor hall.  The big conference for us (medical librarians) was always the southern chapter (ranging from South Carolina down to Puerto Rico) of the Medical Library Association.  It's always held in either late October or, less frequently, early November every year.  Which means it should be coming up shortly.

The last one I attended was held at the Peabody Hotel (yes, the one with the live duck march twice daily in the lobby) in Memphis, Tennessee.  It's nice that it was not only a good conference (two colleagues and I presented a poster) but it was in a great city to explore.  The vendors like having it in a fun place, too, since they have some down time and also like to look around.  The pictures at right illustrate just a few of the types of things that vendors give out at these events. The biggest freebies are pens.  We usually came back with more pens than we could use and distributed them to other staff members and even family in order to spread the wealth.  Also, there were items like flash drives, stress or squeeze items, pins, keychains, notepads, tee shirts, caps, pencils, hand sanitizing liquid (that was a fairly recent one), tote bags, etc.  I'm sure you get the idea.  Of course, all items are emblazoned with the company name and/or logo.

I heard one librarian once refer to it as adult trick or treating.  Good analogy since this conference usually comes up just before Halloween.  Oh, I forgot to mention candy and mints.  They had those, too.  The Memphis conference actually ran during Halloween which made it a bit of a problem for anyone attending who had small children at home who expected to go trick or treating.

While in Memphis, Linda and I actually managed to squeeze in a trip to Graceland.  At first we thought it would be kind of a corny thing to do since neither of us was a huge fan but after we went, we were glad that we did.  It was actually kind of cool seeing Elvis's Grammys and costumes, etc.  We both admitted that we  enjoyed it a lot more than we thought we would.  They take your picture in front of a fake backdrop before you get on a bus to go across the street to the actual house and grounds complete with the gravesites of Elvis and his parents.  We also managed to take a tour of the Gibson guitar factory (very cool) and I ran out at the end of one of the day's events (around 4pm) to walk though the Rock 'n Soul Museum which was within walking distance of the Peabody.  They had a lot of interesting items like the original bandstand that Dick Clark stood behind and the piano that Ike Turner learned to play on.  Also, lots of costumes donated from various artists including more Elvis Presley clothing.

Beale Street was interesting -- neat shops and barbecue places.  I was probably the only person in town who doesn't care for barbecue but I did have some good meals there.  That's another thing that's fun to do is check out places to eat.  Did a lot of that when we had the conference in Charleston, S.C. and Savannah, GA.  Atlanta wasn't too shabby in the eats department, either, and I had the best chicken and yellow rice I've ever eaten in old town San Juan when we met in Puerto Rico.  San Juan also gets points for the best bakery (I have an unbelievable sweet tooth) which was, unfortunately for me, directly across the street from the conference hotel.   Too many trips there but I met an awful lot of very nice people.  The Puerto Rican people were some of the friendliest and warmest people to chat with that I've come across.  

Ahem, now for the places that weren't so great -- for various reasons.  Only two really stand out.  One was in Mobile, Alabama.  The hotel was downtown and very nice but I made the mistake of deciding to spend the afternoon (after attending a CE course in the morning) exploring downtown Mobile.  This is something I enjoy doing -- often on my own -- to explore the city if it's within walking or public transportation distance of my hotel.  Yikes.  This was  a few years back but there were a lot of homeless men on both sides of the street going back to the hotel.  A number of them seemed unconscious but I ended up walking almost down the middle of the street.  Luckily, due to the dearth of traffic there I was in no danger of being hit. 

The other town I didn't care for, despite it's being very pretty, was Greenville, South Carolina.  I should admit that the fact that I was sick with a horrendous migraine for two days while there did color my opinion of the town but there really wasn't much to see other than an old historic cemetery near the hotel.  I guess it was as good a place as any to have the migraine from hell.  I stayed in my room for two days with the curtains drawn in the dark.  I ordered room service for every meal.  I had to look scary -- I felt like Vampyra with my hair loose and dark circles under my eyes.   Luckily, this was the only time I was ever sick during a conference.

So, this year I won't be collecting any pens or other items for the first time in a very long time.  Sniff.  Yes, I'm that shallow.

One nice thing about my second career though is the ability to set my own hours.  I've always been self-motivated so that's not a problem for me.  I've found that I do need to get out more than I used to to see other people (George and the dog don't count).  Also, I've gotten into a terrible habit of keeping George's hours which involves staying up very late at night and, naturally, sleeping late the next day.  I think he's trying to turn me into George 2.0.

Enough nostalgia for now, I need to get into my recording booth to finish up a crime short story for a book for Iambik.  I have to kickstart myself (and my week) into gear.  This is some early Reef from the UK.


  1. Once again, I just love George's photo. Really beautiful.

  2. Thanks! Any time you'd like a print of one, just let me know. No charge. :)

  3. Allison just came back from So. Chapter for this year in Augusta, GA. She said it was a good meeting, but it seemed a little less attended this year, maybe because most of the Shimberg librarians did not attend. She also said that while she didn't get out much to sightsee, the town seemed like it was up and coming more than arrived, i.e., not great for tourists yet.

    I haven't been to many conferences, but have enjoyed the few I have gone to, including Memphis, Charleston, and St. Pete (twice). Food, fun, and shopping--oh, and conference stuff. Memphis was a blast--I'd really like to go back. And the Peabody Hotel is beautiful. I could hardly see the ducks because there were so many people there watching them parade back and forth. Yes, there we are at Graceland. That really was fun.

  4. It would be hard to pick one or two pictures from the Howlett collection, but I'll let you know.

  5. Ah, great memories of Memphis and Charleston.

  6. Memphis was a great conference.

  7. Yes, it was. Glad my last 'big' one was a good one.