|Various items I have in my home office|
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.
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.