Thursday, September 06, 2007

I applaud only out of obligation.

When I hobbled downstairs to check in last night, finding the conference rooms with no problem, I was told to return at "half past seven" this morning. I slept well, though the sirens woke me often. But I would roll into a different pile of pillows and snuggle myself back to sleep.

I looked at the clock around 6:30 and slowly got ready. Wearing my pretty flowered skirt and pretty pink top, I made my way down to the conference area and got my badge. I then remembered to ask about posters and the same woman told me to go ahead and put it up. So back to my room I went, wincing at the boot as it tugged on my ankle even as it stabilized it. I got back downstairs with my poster, then asked for a program so I'd know where to place it.

"Wherever." The registration woman said in her lyrical accent, and I frowned. Perhaps I hadn't made myself clear.

"Are there numbers? So the posters know where to go?" I asked. She shook her head and waved her hand toward the boards. I picked one at random and put my poster - which is really lovely - up with six thumbtacks. I had been concerned when my poster and talk had been scheduled at the exact same time. Now that the posters had no order, I was befuddled.

Yet I grabbed some coffee and searched fruitlessly for water, then hobbled toward the large room that would house the talks. I brightened when I saw pitchers of water at each table draped in white cloth. There were tiny candies in shiny wrappers on a small plate between the two halves of each surface. I selected a seat near the door - no reason to walk farther than necessary - and sat. I poured some water, sipped my coffee and found there was free wireless in the room. Things were looking up.

"Do you have a program?" The man in front of me asked at 8:20. I glanced up from my laptop and shook my head.

"I think they're not ready yet." I told him. "But we were supposed to start at 8." We talked for a few moments before I remembered the copy of the schedule I'd been emailed. I handed over the laptop, wincing when I recalled my book was on the desktop as well as my talk and some papers I'd been reading.

When it neared 9, the president of this society again got on stage, fiddled with his laptop and read the welcome letter that he put on the screen. He apologized for the late start, but continued to read - word for word - what we could see displayed. I don't like it when people read to me. I grew vaguely bothered.

When he invited the first speakers to join him at the front, he started his presentation but his laptop refused to sync with the projector. I scowled with irritation as more time was wasted as they attempted - and failed - to fix that problem. The speaker who had been absent arrived and tried to help. So the first two speakers rushed through slides and showed their notes pages since Vista stubbornly refused to display the slideshows. The problem is that they could have just skipped their talks completely. A) 15 minutes is never adequate time to get through 45 slides. Don't be a moron. and B) If you're just going to flip through everything, noting we're late and you don't have time, just save us the trouble and keep the presentation closed. Honestly.

We took an unscheduled break to fix that problem, then returned for more talks. They went reasonably well and programs were handed out shortly before 10. FedEx had arrived, I thought, and flipped through the document that contained no mention of posters and no abstracts for talks.

Speakers finally gave up on Vista and started carting their laptops with them to the podium. This normally bugs me, but it was considerably faster than trying to coax information from the Windows OS.

But between a ruined schedule, speakers failing to show up or giving talks that had to have been written for a different purpose, I'm decidedly unimpressed. Also, when you shorten breaks and urge people to quickly return to the meeting room, it seems you would screw over your exhibitors. That's not great either. But I felt OK that my ankle and head hurt and I left early to nap.

My talk is ready and my remarks are mostly memorized. I'll practice a couple more times, then call it good. Though I could have joined the ranks of other speakers and skipped this altogether, I think. Disappointing. As is the fact that I have yet to leave the hotel. I've never tried to travel while injured and it sucks. A lot. Perhaps my mood is derived from that in addition to Mom not feeling well at home, Little One continuing to be sick and Chienne not being particularly sympathetic to either condition.

But at least room service is good! And I get to go home on Saturday morning.


Psycgirl said...

No numbered posters?? That's just chaos!!

Good luck on your talk. I know it will go great and I'm sure you'll be organized, which will impress everyone with its contrast to how the conference has been going so far!

Anonymous said...

hehe , i love your title!

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