This evening I've been looking through the options for the NSTA conference in Boston later this month, and I'm feeling completely overwhelmed. During any given hour there are nearly 200 different presentations happening. They're located all over the place: Renaissance Hotel, Westin Hotel, Convention Center, and the Seaport World Trade Center. I have no idea where these venues are in relation to one another. Is it walking distance, does it require a subway, shuttle, or cab ride, are they directly adjacent or halfway across town from one another? Which ones are going to have space, which will be filled to capacity, which will be interesting, which ones are lame, which ones are appropriate?
I'm trying to put together a tentative schedule, but it's taking forever due to the sheer number of offerings.
We're having a meeting tomorrow at work, where I'll meet with the other two staff members who are attending. My boss made it clear to me last weekend... she called me at home at 9:30 in the evening... that, "as the man," it is my duty to "look after the ladies" during this trip... even though we're on different flights leaving and arriving at different times and staying in different hotels and being funded by different sources, and despite the fact that they, not I, are the "senior" staff members.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against helping the others to the extent I am able. But, I've heard stories about these conferences. People from Hawaii, their main interest is usually food. Arranging breakfast, arranging lunch, arranging dinner, and arranging snacks in between. I was kind of looking forward to keeping myself busy at the conference and maybe bopping out to a nearby McD's for a quick bite... and getting to sleep early every night.
I'm sounding like an old guy, aren't I? Tune in to Lawrence Welk at 6:30, quaff a tumbler of Geritol, put my teeth in a glass and be asleep by 8:00.
Who knows what kind of room-mate I'll end up with? Some kind of chain-smoking insomniac TV-a-holic who snores like a bulldozer, no doubt.
The only "free day" will be Wednesday, the day I arrive, when the only events taking place are "invitation only," and I'm not invited. Depending on how long it takes to make the transfer from the airport, and whether I can check in at the hotel, and how tired I am, I was hoping to be able to hop the subway to the Samuel Adams Brewery for a tour. The tours only run from noon to 3pm weekdays.
At this point, I don't know if I'll have the chance to check out parts of The Freedom Trail or any other cool Boston stuff. "Cool" may be the operative term: my neighbor used to live in Boston, and he tells me they occasionally had snow in April, and that the weather will likely be freezing. (The current long-term forecast calls for highs near 40-F and lows in the mid-20s.) Hardly the balmy July blue-skies I'm picturing based on my one previous trip to Beantown some years ago.
Anyway, I'm not going to have my tentative schedule completed by the meeting tomorrow. It's taken me over two hours to plan... two hours!
If this were Comic-con, I could probably get more jazzed about it. That's pretty pathetic, isn't it? It's not that I think the topic material at Comic-con would be so much better; rather, I'd be there on my own dime, and responsible only for myself, so I could do what I found interesting without feeling obligated to offer a "return on investment" to my financial benefactors or to serve as a bellhop.
Selfish, aren't I?
Since the Woods Hole thing is sold out (altho' first thing on arriving I'm going to check with the registration desk about openings), I may be able to make the "New Creationism" lecture after all! Bill Nye, however, conflicts with one of the "mandatory" seminars. I only throw that in because he's a "name." I've never been a particularly ardent fan of Nye's TV shows. The pacing is too manic, even for my short attention span. Don Herbert is more my speed.
I'm feeling overwhelmed by all this big city stuff, and I haven't even left yet. You have to realize, I live in a town where the postal clerks know my name, and the barber (yeah, regular old-fashioned barber shop) brings customers up to date on who's new in town, who died, and which buildings are for rent while trimming their hair. In fact, I was gonna write up a piece on my hillbilly shell-shock after visiting "the mall" when I had to get my computer fixed. Maybe some other time on that.
Unless this event unfolds considerably differently than I'm expecting, I'm thinking my first educational conference may very likely be my last. No more volunteering... or "being volunteered," for me!