Monday, February 25, 2013

I could really go for a good conference right now

Almost exactly a year ago, as I looked ahead to my impending graduation, I wrote a list of things I thought I would miss––and not miss––about college life. I said it would probably have to be updated in the future, but it actually turned out to be remarkably accurate as to how I feel now.

This fall though, I realized one thing I could have added to the "things I think I will miss" section. That is going to conferences.

Conferences in and of themselves basically embody everything I enjoyed about college with none of the things I didn't enjoy. You get to learn things––but there are no tests, there's constant activity, you drink gallons of coffee, you're around lots of like minded people, and it takes significantly less creativity and self-deception than usual to imagine you're important and have a purpose in life. On top of that, you get to travel, and spend a few days exploring a new place.

So, a few months ago, when a friend asked me if I'd like to go to a conference with her, I said yes. It was the Justice Conference in Philadelphia, and while I'd never been before, I'd heard and respected a couple of the speakers from other conferences. Also, it seemed likely that some people from Bryan––where I went to school––would be there, and since I haven't been able yet to make the 14 hour, $200 drive from my home to Dayton Tennessee since graduation, it seemed like a good opportunity to catch up with some of them.

So last Friday, we set out from Mansfield––on the opposite side of the state––and made the four hour drive to the house of a friend of a friend of a friend.

This would be a much more interesting blog post if something bad had happened. Fortunately, everything went very smoothly, and this post will remain on the mundane, informational side of the spectrum.

The drive went easily, the friends of friends of friends were very chill, the weather––while kind of nasty––felt warm compared to home. There was the odd adventure with parking and public transportation to be sure, but nothing really worth mentioning.

The conference itself was good, but honestly not particularly memorable either. The people I agreed with were people I'd heard before, and the people I disagreed with didn't say anything to convince me I should agree with them. It could be I'm just getting old and my intellectual plasticity isn't what it used to be, but that was how I felt.

Anyhow, it was an enjoyable experience for the most part. I got to catch up with some old friends (though not the ones I'd been expecting), make some new ones, drink lots of coffee, and think about some things that––while I'd thought about them before––are good to keep in mind (and hopefully more than my mind).

I think in the end my favorite part was the fact that the Pennsylvania Convention Center where the event was held was just across the street from the Reading Terminal Market. I think I ate my weight in ethnic food and cheese-steaks (I know Philadelphians aren't supposed to actually like cheese-steaks, but you know what? I'm not a Philadelphian).

So it was a good conference. Not a great one, perhaps, but a good one.'

Just what I'd been missing. 

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