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CNMC Fun Followup

So during the Catholic New Media Celebration I live blogged the event from my Blackberry, proving that I really need a standard size keyboard to write anything longer than a tweet. Notice the complete lack of links and photos.

I've decided to do this second post about the non-conference fun stuff as well as some impressions of the conference itself.

Conference Prep

I checked into buying a conference display setup like you see at trade shows and after finding out that they ran about $600 I figured a trip to Lowe's for PVC and rubber bands at a cost of $25 would be a much better investment. I spent the morning before the conference cutting and gluing pipe and was very proud of the end result - a 3x6 free-standing frame that would hold our Aquinas and More and Tiber River banners and would fit into a three foot long tube and weigh under 15 pounds. Pride comes before the fall.

When I was getting ready for this trip I decided I was going to pack very lightly. I have an aversion to spending money on taxis and since I also missed the deadline for a hotel reservation at the Omni Center hotel and was going to be staying a few blocks away I decided that everything I was taking, display included, would fit in a giant home-made Toblerone shaped box and my laptop case. Since I didn't need to take clothes for Mass this turned out to be easy.

For this conference we decided to promote two things - our new line of Aquinas and More Catholic Classic E-books and our Tiber River blogger review program.

I also remembered to print off directions from the airport to the hotel but I forgot to print the map (*).

* This will be important later.

Arrival in Boston

I knew the address of the hotel and I knew that I needed to take the blue line to get close to it. What I didn't know, since I forgot my map, exactly where the hotel was in relation to the station that I was supposed to get off at. So I guessed. Poorly. I decided that, in spite of the directions I had, that transferring to another subway line and going another stop closer to the hotel was a good idea. This actually was a good idea but when I got out of the station I went the wrong way, turning a walk of about eight blocks into a two mile trek through Boston. From a national security perspective this was actually a good thing because I was able to prove that the MCP from Tron has moved out of cheesy 1980's movies into the real world:

The Hyatt in downtown Boston can only charge the high prices it does because it is downtown. There isn't anything about the hotel that makes it any better than a Best Western except its location. In fact, a Best Western would be a far better deal at the same price as the Hyatt because at Best Western you get free wi-fi ($9.95 a day at Hyatt), free full breakfast ($9 for a fruit cup and $16 for a breakfast at Hyatt), regular cable TV (everything on TV at the Hyatt costs $$).  In fact, the only thing that I received complimentary at the Hyatt was a defective can of shaving cream and a razor that I was worried I was going to break because the handle was so flimsy.

Opening Night

Since I had a little free time after arriving but not enough to take the CNMC Boston tour :-( I took the scenic route to the Meet and Greet through the Boston Commons (Boston's version of Central Park) and a couple of cemeteries.

Famous Fountain, Famous Church

I don't know the significance of the fountain but the church in the background was the site of one of the first abolitionist speeches.

A civil war memorial in Boston Commons

A civil war memorial in Boston Commons

This cemetery has a bunch of famous people buried here including Sam Adams, Paul Revere, the dead from the Boston Massacre and others.

Death headstone in Boston Cemetery

Death headstone in Boston Cemetery

Samuel Adams Grave

Samuel Adams Grave

Another odd tombstone

Another odd tombstone

View of the whole cemetery

View of the whole cemetery

Headstone for the dead of the Boston Massacre

Headstone for the dead of the Boston Massacre

In this Star Wars view of a headstone we see the names of famous Pilgrims and descendants who were buried in the King's Church Cemetery next to the formerly Anglican, now Unitarian, church next to the Omni Parker Hotel.

Tombstone for famous Winthrops buried in King Church Cemetery

Tombstone for famous Winthrops buried in King Church Cemetery

After my cemetery tour I went to the very fun Meet and Greet sponsored by the Catholic Company. Thanks, guys! I somehow managed to leave my camera at my hotel so I have no pictures. Instead, I invite you to go to Matt Warner's photo gallery where he had people write on a white-board before taking the pictures. It was great seeing Barb from Nebraska, Angel Steph, iPadre (he got his Communion rail in) and so many other bloggers and podcasters that I've met live and online. Like Barb said, "it's all about the friends."

After the Meet and Greet a crowd of us including Jeff, the  Catholic Foodie, Danielle Bean, Rachel Balducci, Shelly and Lisa, the Sound Mind and Spirit Sisters, Tom Peters, Jeffrey and more walked to Fake Cheers for dinner. While we had a great time the restaurant is not on my "must do this again" list as the food was mediocre and apart from the bar resembling the one from the tv show and cardboard cutouts at the door, the place bore little resemblance to Cheers.

Matt Warner and Sarah Reinhard at "Fake Cheers"

Matt Warner and Sarah Reinhard at "Fake Cheers"

I did have a great time getting to know some of the attendees: I learned that Shelly is a professional archivist working for NASA, Nicholas from the Catholic Company is a Colorado native - Poor guy to have to live on the East coast, Scott is an Android fanatic, and Tom Peters was probably the youngest person at the CNMC who wasn't in the kids' track. We also found out that you don't want to stay when the drunk people start doing karaoke.

Daniel Bean and Rachel Balducci at "Fake Cheers"

Daniel Bean and Rachel Balducci at "Fake Cheers"

I got back to the hotel around midnight and almost didn't go to bed since I had to be up at 5:30 to make sure I caught the shuttle to the conference. On the way to the hotel I stopped by the Old State House and when I turned around to go to the hotel I saw a huge bronze frieze that I recognized from the movie Glory. I had no idea that the monument was here but since Cnl. Shaw was from Massachusetts I guess it makes sense.

Cnl. Robert Shaw Memorial, Shown in the movie Glory

Cnl. Robert Shaw Memorial, Shown in the movie Glory

Conference Day

The conference was held at the new Archdiocese of Boston Pastoral Center. It used to be some tech company's headquarters but then sat empty and was donated by a wealthy Irishman shortly before he died. The only picture I have is this one of the chapel. Sorry about the quality. Blackberries are good for many things but photography isn't one. The gold bird over the altar is a Holy Spirit tabernacle. I've seen one in a picture from a medieval church but I can't find it now.

Chapel at the Boston Pastoral Center

Chapel at the Boston Pastoral Center

Be sure to read my post about the actual CNMC conference content!

Fortunately I was offered a ride by Dan Burke of Circle Media so I didn't have to take my stuff on the shuttle. I also got to ride with Mark Shea, blogger and apologist extraordinaire. Mark has the gift of being funny in real life just like on his blog.

As soon as I got to the conference and started setting up I realized that I was in trouble. The sign frame that I was so proud of and had so cleverly constructed required two threaded couplers to join the top and bottom halves. I am pretty sure that those are still on my desk at work. So let's do the math: one $25 display+ $25 baggage fee each way - two couplers = $75 of waste. Fortunately I now have a perfectly good frame for next year. I'm going to hermetically seal the box with everything in it so I don't forget parts next year. Now I just have to find a safe place to keep the box...

Tom Peters and Lisa Hendey

Tom Peters and Lisa Hendey

The day was great. Getting to meet and meet again a bunch of enthusiastic Catholics like the Willits, the Barrons (at least Katherine), and the Sweenies and sponsor Lino Rulli's talk were just some of the highlights of the day. I also got to see my sister-in-law, Sister Elizabeth, who is with the Daughters of St. Paul and was able to come to the show because her mother house is in Boston.

We gave away free copies of our new line of Catholic Classic e-books to attendees (tweet me if you missed the link at the show) which a lot of people seemed to be interested in.

On the way back from the conference to the hotel we tried to use Dan's GPS. Unfortunately there are two School streets in Boston - one in Cambridge and one downtown. The GPS chose the Cambridge one but we still managed to make it back to the hotel in time for dinner.

For dinner after the conference SQPN took all of the sponsors and speakers to Kingfish Hall for dinner, courtesy of the Knights of Columbus. We walked from the hotel and I took this neat picture of the Boston Customs House.

Boston Customs House

Boston Customs House

I got to sit with Melanie and Dom Bettinelli, Sr. Anne and Sr. Margaret from the Daughters of St. Paul and Bryan from the Knights of Columbus. We got to share marriage proposal stories, including Sr. Anne who told us about her sister who got married when she was 50 to a trailer repair man who was fixed the FEMA trailer she was living in after Katrina.

Sr. Margaret (left) Sr. Anne (right) Daughters of St. Paul

Sr. Margaret (left) Sr. Anne (right) Daughters of St. Paul

I also got to catch up with Melanie with whom I attended college at the University of Dallas. We spent the same semester in Rome and hadn't seen each other in fourteen years! (Sorry about the bad flash in the picture, Dom.)

Melanie and Dom

Melanie and Dom

I had the clam chowder, Lobster role and key lime pie for dinner. I must be spoiled by my wife's chowder or had elevated expectations being in Boston but the chowder seemed long on cream and short on clams. The lobster role was delicious and contained a lot of large chunks of lobster. The key lime pie was a disappointment. It was in a too thick and hard graham cracker crust with a rock-hard cookie on top and only had about a 1/4 inch of filling. under the whipped cream. Fortunately the beer, main course and great company more than made up for it.

Once again, I managed to get back to the hotel super late so I only had about four hours to sleep before getting back to the Omni for a ride from the airport with Dan Burke and Mark Shea. Thanks to a suggestion from Mark, we left the hotel an extra half hour early to make sure that the ten minutes it took to get to the airport gave us plenty of time to sit around at the terminal.

On the flights home (one to Dallas and one to Colorado Springs) I had back to back early arrivals. I have never heard of this happening before. Our flight to Dallas got in 35 minutes early and our flight into Colorado Springs was about ten minutes early. Pigs will start flying any minute.

So after a great weekend and a nap on Monday to try and make up for the sleep I missed in Boston I'm back to work and ready for next year's conference. Thank you Pat Gohn from Among Women for doing the lion's share of organizing the conference and thank you Maria from SQPN and Dom from the archdiocese of Boston for being so helpful throughout the day!

Oh, packing everything into a laptop case and a box? Worked great. I'd do it again.

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Paul August 10, 2010, 10:14 am

    Even though I grew up working in Philly, and can usually navigate a city fairly well, I found that if you know your destination is near your terminal but not certain, it makes a cab fare worth it vs walking a half hour in the wrong direction.

    That, or setting everything down and sitting on a street corner with Google Maps to get your bearings…

  • Jeff Geerling August 10, 2010, 11:40 am

    Awesome reference to Tron, btw.

    • Ian August 10, 2010, 11:58 am

      I also noticed that the control tower at Boston Logan was a very poorly disguised sentinel from the movie:

      Boston Logan Airport control tower

  • Stephanie August 10, 2010, 11:41 am

    Great to see you again. Thanks for the blog link and mention. It was a great weekend and hope to be able to make it again next year. My blog post (or multiple posts) will be coming soon. :)

  • Barb in Nebraska August 10, 2010, 12:05 pm

    Thank you for the blog link and mention too! It was a wonderful weekend. Now shifting gears and beginning to think about the new school year and wondering which statue I should add to my Saint Corner. Perhaps St. Thomas Aquinas?!

  • Greg Willits August 10, 2010, 12:10 pm

    “(At least Katherine)”


    And for the record, if the chowder at the Saturday dinner was all you tried, you missed out. The best chowder I had was actually the bowl I had at the hotel’s restaurant. Even the chowder at the airport was better than the chowder Saturday night. But I still enjoyed all three bowls I ate while in Boston.

    • Ian August 10, 2010, 12:39 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who wasn’t impressed with the chowder. It wasn’t a bad tasting soup or anything, it just wasn’t clam chowder.

  • Lisa Hendey August 10, 2010, 7:00 pm

    Awesome post Ian – I loved your photos! You actually saw some of the city, which is more than I can say. I hope we are able to get together again soon – and good luck finding a safe place to store that box. I always fail at stuff like that!

    • Ian August 10, 2010, 8:52 pm

      Hopefully you can make it to Colorado sometime. I realize your kids take precedence so I won’t hold it against you. Much.

      Last time I was in Boston all I saw was the Daughters of St. Paul motherhouse so I was determined to see a little more of the city this time even if I had to be up at 5am to do it!

  • datechguy August 10, 2010, 7:56 pm

    It was a pleasure meeting you at the conference. An FYI: My short interview with you is now available at my blog:


    • Ian August 10, 2010, 8:50 pm

      Great to meet you, too. Thanks for taking the time to do the interviews!

  • Mark P. Shea August 11, 2010, 1:56 am

    It’s important to sit around terminals. It builds up spiritual fiber. You’ll thank me when you get to heaven.

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