I’m home! And ready to sleep for a week.
This morning I took one last trip to the convention center. Caught the very end of Cokie Roberts’ closing speech, but not enough to really say much about it. After that, I talked to a final few vendors on the exhibits floor. By this point the booksellers were almost giving stuff away, just so they wouldn’t have to ship it back to home base afterwards. But I really didn’t want to ship another box back home 🙂
Jumped back on the shuttle to Loyola, packed up and sat in the shade until the airport shuttle arrived. That shuttle driver had some amazing statistics. Pre-Katrina, the airport shuttle company had about 150 vehicles. Today they have 22. Their staff is even more vacant. But they still did a fine job of getting me (and the other nine in the van) to the airport in plenty of time. It was a crazy day for airport transportation in general – our driver called the day “the biggest exodus since the storm”.
My flight back to Nashville was uneventful. I was tempted to take the offer of a travel voucher to get bumped to later tonight, but I really wanted to get home. The very pleasant two hour drive from the airport gave me a bit to start decompressing. I’ve decided I really enjoy driving the Nashville-Huntsville stretch of I-65.
On the subject of the Loyola dorms, I give ALA an amazing amount of credit for setting that up well. The rooms were clean, safe, and well supplied with sheets and towels. The student working the checkin desk was knowledgeable, and had tons of handouts on things like ALA shuttle bus routes. And most importantly, the shuttle ran pretty close to on time. It stopped in a slightly different place each time for some reason, but that wasn’t a big deal. All of these details (and any number of others) could have been overlooked, and frankly I was worried they would be. But really, the only thing missing was a pool 🙂 As a nice touch, each bedroom had a Rand McNally folding map of the city in it. And someone even set up a “take a book, leave a book” exchange in the first floor lounge!
This conference was a very different experience from when I went last year. For one thing, I could ignore the placement center this time and focus on other goings on. In 2005 I don’t think I made it to more than two sessions. This time I hit a whole bunch more, and did a much better job planning out my attack in advance. Plus, I spent last year mostly meeting people for the first time and feeling generally overwhelmed. And vendors didn’t stop talking to me the moment they found out I was a student 🙂 Overall, this time I felt a little bit less like a chicken with it’s head cut off, and was able to get a lot more accomplished. And it was really nice to be able to support New Orleans in the city’s recovery. Everywhere I went, everybody was gracious and happy to talk to us. But they need all the help they can get.
My award for strangest swag item of the conference goes to the Google Trout keychain:
Nobody at the Google booth knew what it is supposed to represent, except that it is called the “Google Trout”. I heard them asking each other if this was their new mascot, but got no answer. All one of them could suggest was “Maybe the eyes are googley? Nope…” But it is sort of cute.
My Flickr photoset of the conference has been updated one final time.