Pros and Cons

I’ve had to decline a heartbreaking number of invitations to come to conventions and/or conferences this year. In several cases, I was invited to speak or lead sessions and I just couldn’t do it. Being in a job situation without vacation contributed a lot, where I would have to not only pay my way plus lose several days pay. Being exhausted for a big chunk of the early part of the year also didn’t help, which led to me skipping some things that I could have driven to. Here’s a tally of things I have said no to, every one of which I wanted to attend:

That’s the downside. Here’s the upside: in the latter half of the year with a new lease on life, a new work situation, vacation days and a little more breathing room I’ll be attending more events.

Podcast Expo y’all know about. Converge South was a big blast last time. It’s where I met Amanda Congdon and Mario Librandi, first met Dan Conover and Janet Edens in person, got to hang with Ed Cone and buy Dave Winer breakfast right after he sold My video of the event is still out there. I expect to have a good time and will try to make a point to meet and say hi to Elizabeth Edwards, renew acquantances with the Greensboro blogging contingent, eat my body weight in BBQ at Hoggard’s house and generally pass a good time.

I’m also looking very forward to going to Orycon and participating in the programming. I hope to carry the Marantz with me and interview writers and other people there like a banshee the whole time I’m out there. I went to almost every Orycon when I lived out there, and I’ve returned for a few since. When I was telecommuting to Portland, I made it a point to schedule a work trip that coincided with the con (free flight for me). I’ve been back for one on my own dime, but this is the first in a few years. I’m happy to see that they’ve moved the con from Jantzen Beach to downtown. Jantzen Beach is nice and all, but it was a huge drag to try to do anything in downtown like go to Powell’s – particularly if you didn’t have a car. Since they have this great bustling and walkable downtown, it sucked to not be able to take advantage of it. Now you get it both – hang out at the con at the riverfront and also walk across the Morrison Street bridge to Montage (if it is still open), and so forth. I might even try to renew my favorite lunch jaunt – a bus ride down Burnside to Future Fantasy and gyros at Foti’s (again, if they are still open.) I used to do that every week or two and I miss it. Best of all, with any luck I get to see old friends like Jonny X, Mark Bourne, Mary Rosenblum and the whole PDX crowd.

So, all in all I’m looking forward to working a little more enjoyment and travel back in the mix. Doing nothing but working in your home office 70 hours a week is fun and all, but getting out and about and spending time with my friends and internet acquantiances is good. If you see me out and about, come talk to me!

Update: Added dates. Let’s hang out, PDX folks!

More on Podcastercon

I am listening to Skepticality and they are going to PodcasterCon. Damn it! I enjoyed meeting Swoopie last year and it would be nice to meet Derek. However, the giant pile of work is still there and in fact is higher now than it was a few days ago. The day job has a big deadline soon, and I am behind on everything I could possibly be behind on. I wake up tired every morning lately and spend a lot of my day trying not to stress out at the enormity of it all. As much as I’d like to go, I would pay for it dearly and with heavy interest. Usually I’m not one to deny myself something I want simply because it is a bad idea, but this time I am.

I’ll miss y’all. Hope it is a good time.

EGC Clambake for January 3, 2006

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for January 3, 2006.

I play another song from Michelle Malone’s upcoming album; I play a clip from Jimbo Wales on Better Bad News and talk about Wikipedia; I play a song from Harvey Danger; I explain why I won’t be at Podcastercon this weekend after all; I have decided I want to be to podcasting what the Church of the Subgenius is to religion; Kill Rock Stars doesn’t mind you playing their music in podcasts! I play a song by Phranc and head it out.

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Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. For the time being, $25 of your purchase goes to the Mercy Corps.

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No Podcastercon After All

I’ve been thinking about this long and hard, and I’ve decided to not go to Podcastercon in Chapel Hill. It sucks because I’d like to but it just wouldn’t be prudent. I have a ton of work to do and have lost a lot of my discretionary time for personal projects over the last month. Three of the last four weekends have been pretty unproductive due to holidays, and I just can’t afford the hit. I wasn’t planning on staying the night, so if I stayed for dinners and the like it would have been a 18 hour day with a 6-7 hour round trip drive included in there.

On top of all that, another big part of this is unfortunate timing. Having been to (or near) three different sit-around-and-talk conferences since September (Duke, Converge South and PME) I feel like I’m talked out. Add to that the fact that I want to have the first organized hands-on Uplifter meeting in Conway in February, it just all reduces my urgency to go this weekend. I went to remove my name from the attendee wiki, and found the page locked so I can’t. Just so y’all know, I won’t be there.

I should point out that I am not at all troubled by the thing that made Dave Winer pull out. Sorry Dave, I know you think we don’t disagree on these sort of things but I do. It just doesn’t bother me if there is a box of free books sitting there, regardless of the promotional value. In fact, as the technical editor of a book competitive to the one being passed out, I probably have more direct reason to feel umbrage and I feel none. My problem is almost the opposite. I’m not wild about the “no vendors talking” rule. If I’m driving all the way up there and losing one of my personal working days, not being able to talk about AmigoFish really sucks. If I can’t work on it, then I want to have the option to talk about it. The idea that someone else could bring it up but I’d have to sit by silently — despite being the person who both uses it most and knows most about — is absurd.

When I was thinking about the Myrtle Beach blog shindig, I was not going to have the “no vendor” rule, replacing that with gladiator-arena style thumb voting if you felt pitched to and uncomfortable. That would give the session leader a good read on the zeitgeist of the room and allow them to cut someone off if they were violating the spirit of the proceedings. There are times it is appropriate hear from a vendor and so blanket condemnation of vendors speaking on their own stuff doesn’t serve my needs. Sure that privilege can be abused but I feel like I’m losing more from the silence than the risk of the pitch, particularly if everyone in the room has a mechanism to communicate when they’ve had enough.

So in summation, the combination of too much work; prohibition from talking about the stuff I am most excited about; timing; and conference burnout has led me to not go to Podcaster Con this Saturday.