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