how to attend a conference


I went with some colleagues to a conference this weekend and I thought I would offer some tips for those who have never been to such an event. After all, there is much more to travelling for work than you might think and it’s best to be prepared.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that you have a successful and rich experience.
*Note* I was only at the conference for about 31 hours so adjust these suggestions accordingly.

1) Wake up at 4:15am to the sound of your phone ringing, not your alarm clock as you had expected. It’s your cab driver telling you he’s at your house. The next couple of hours are a blur, as you have broken every law of physics and probability in order to make your flight, and don’t worry about double checking your bag. Everything is probably in there.
1-A) Buy a toothbrush and other forgotten sundries at the airport of your connecting flight. You should have checked your bag.

2) Upon arrival at said conference, don’t go straight to your hotel room. Instead, take all your stuff with you to a workshop and grab any random sack lunch off the table on your way. Don’t worry that you’re not a gluten free vegan. There’s probably a piece of fruit or, if you’re lucky, a pot brownie in there.

3) Lose your wallet with all your taxi receipts and cash.

4) Less than 36 hours later you arrive back in Baltimore thinking that you’re almost home. This is particularly important because you woke up with a sore throat and headache, and now you have a fever.

5) Your 5:40pm flight is now 6:25, then 6:45, 7:00, 8:10, 8:40, 9:00. You ask the nice man at the gate is they will let you sleep in the barn if your flight is cancelled. No. You cry.

6) Now you feel as though you’ve been held against your will with no end to this ordeal in sight no matter how hard you pray. So like any good Episcopalian you go to the bar. If the bartender asks you if you want a double because you’ve clearly been crying, just tell him to put the bottle on the bar and walk away.

7) You arrive home 5 hours later than you were supposed to, sick, tired and cold.  It’s okay though because the conference was great and you work with some amazing people.



welcome home. it sucks here.

My last post was on January 7th.  It was clear, cold, and windy with no indication that, in just a few weeks, we would be a different city….a different people.  Why?  Well, in case you haven’t been paying attention to the news, the posts, the tweets, the memes, or Buzzfeed, Boston has had a lot of snow.  So what’s the big deal?  Boston is a tough, winterized city where people go jogging in sub zero temps and frostbite is a badge of honor.  Nothing keeps us down. We can handle just about anything.  Until now.
Now, on February 19th, we are transformed.  We’ve seen 95.7 inches of snow since my last post and there’s more on the way.  The landscape is desolate, transportation is shut down, and people shuffle along un-shoveled sidewalks and crowded roads in alternating states of shock and resignation.  It looks not unlike a zombie apocalypse only we’re not eating each other, yet.  We’re also not speaking to each other, not politely anyway, and lately we get into fist fights over whose space saver lamp that is, and God forbid you ask someone how was their day.
You’ve heard the term, “misery loves company.”  She doesn’t.  Misery wants to be left the fuck alone in her dark, cold apartment until April.  Misery just wants this shit show to be over but it just.won’t.stop.  Misery can’t go anywhere besides work, Star Market, and home.  Misery can’t remember what her neighbors look like.  Misery is sick of shoveling and shelling out hundreds of dollars for plowing (grateful though she may be), and taking ten minutes to put on enough clothes to go outside.  
Our Mayor has asked us to please stop jumping out of windows into the snow.  Would he rather us just jump out a window?  I’m close, because humans were not meant to live this way.  I mean, just look at all the people lined up outside this real estate office!  

But, if all the media attention isn’t enough or you’ve been in space for the last few weeks, here’s some of my favorite snow porn for your amusement.

What record-breaking snow really looks like

Boston snow photos you won’t believe

Snow keeps piling up

What it’s like living in Boston right now

My point is this.  We have become a tired, angry people with little regard for our fellow man. Right now, outside my window, Boston is taking “Masshole” to a new level.  One that is both frightening and fascinating.  It is a test of our mettle. So come April, when the mountains of snow are but molehills, we will see who is left standing and who is beaten.  And may the survivors rise up and regain their sense of humanity, get the trains running, fix the roads, and start to build a Brave New World.

P.S. GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE before I lose my mind and go on a spree….killing, looting, or shopping, take your pick.

binge watching the walking dead: a memoir

1. Every episode is grosser than the last.
This is the grossest show I’ve ever seen on TV, really.
2. They have like five different cars a day but they never seem to need fuel.
Our heroes have limitless sources of transportation, what with all the abandoned vehicles and everything. Sometimes they hang on to a favorite truck for several episodes but they never stop to siphon or otherwise obtain fuel.
3. Carl is the only one who wears the same thing every day.
Okay he’s like ten, but where are the others getting clothes?  Not from dead people. Their clothes are ripped and covered in blood and gore.
4. Everyone instinctively knows how to use a variety of weapons.
There is a spectrum of firearm competency among our heroes, ranging from seasoned sheriff to sweet farm girl. Somehow all of these people can pick up an assault rifle, a crossbow, a Colt Python, a smoke grenade, or an Uzi and hit a moving target in the head at fifty yards.  The assortment of fire power on this show is staggering.
5. All of the stores have been looted, obviously. Yet, our heroes can walk into a deserted bar and find it fully stocked. 
I call bullshit on this.  The bar would be the first thing to be picked completely clean, followed by the pharmacy.
6. Rick’s and Merle’s beards are always at 5 O’Clock shadow.
7. Where’s the food?
I’ve never seen them eat anything, ever.  Okay Daryl ate a squirrel once.
8. Why can’t anyone get that piece of glass out of the Governor’s eye?
I mean really.
9. How do they all still have power and water?
And ammo. They never run out of bullets, arrows, or grenades.
10. Despite the ridiculousness of the whole zombie plague / apocalypse notion I find my mind wandering at times, wondering if I should make a plan.

behavior modification

You know how some people use the vacuum cleaner as a behavior modification tool for their pets?  Like when Fluffy is scratching at the bedroom door in the middle of the night so they turn on the Hoover to make him scram.
I think the people upstairs from me employ this practice with their eight year old son.
Every time I hear the vacuum turn on, he starts screaming and throwing what my mother calls a wall-eyed fit.
The screaming is always accompanied by the sound of feet running across the house, followed by the slamming of a door.  Then the vacuum stops and all is quiet.
Is this just a coincidence?  Does he just get scared when mom or dad cleans the house, or is there something more sinister afoot?
We shall see.

dictator of recess

Today I discovered a new vantage point on the playground at middle school recess.  If I stand in the top corner of this piece of equipment I will be in the sun, and I can look down on the entire playground like a sniper in a prison yard tower.
I can watch their tag game, their dangerous swing set activities, running down the slide, and I can see the make-out tree.  From my tower I can point and yell at them to please stop standing up on the see-saw.  I can gesture at the kid who, every Friday, pushes his friend into the swing set frame repeatedly until I make him stop.  I can also lend an ear to the kid who wants to tell me an entire story with no perceptible beginning or end, only a very long middle.  The same kid then runs away screaming, “I’m having so much fun!”  He comes back a few minutes later to ask if I would like the 21 cents he found on the ground. “No thank you,” I say. “You keep it.  You’ve earned it.”
Sometimes things get crazy and I have to confiscate a cell phone.  Those are the dark times, but they rarely argue and they forget about it almost instantly.  
But in spite of the one or two rules I have, and the occasional violation of their civil rights to texting, they love me and we have a great time.
Yes, I am the benevolent Dictator of Recess.  

we all have a dark side

I spent Halloween weekend playing in New Orleans with some friends and over the course of a dinner conversation, I learned something shocking and hilarious about one of them. It turns out that someone I have known for a long time is afraid of little people, only she used the “M” word.  
Me: “Wait, you’re actually scared of little people?  Why?”
Her: “It’s like Tatu from Fantasy Island.  He looks normal when he’s standing there by himself but when you put him next to a human being, it freaks me out.”

Yes, that happened.

why i love shark week

When I was younger, at the age when most kids are obsessing over dinosaurs,  I was obsessing over sharks.  This was years before they were glorified on the Discovery Channel.  I was reading everything by Jacques Cousteau that I could get my hands on, and I desperately wanted to be a marine biologist even though I didn’t know what that meant, other than I got to be in the water and study sharks.  I even caught a young blacktip off the coast of Florida when I was 12 or 13.  I was so proud and awestruck that my dad spent a lot of money having it stuffed and mounted.  Now I realize that I should have let it go but I didn’t know better at the time.  I just knew I loved this creature and wanted to keep it.
You can imagine how excited I was when Shark Week first aired on cable.  Even though most of the programs were sensationalized to get people interested, the science and research was fascinating to me.  I mean, Great White sharks off the coast of Africa breach when they hunt seals?  How fucking awesome is that?!?
So here’s my PSA.  I started donating to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy so we can learn more about how the sharks around here migrate and hunt and do their thing.  I’m not suggesting you do the same, I merely implore you to do some research of your own.  Most importantly, sharks don’t eat people.  They don’t want to eat people.  We are displeasing to them.  They want delicious, fat, oily seals.  Moral:  Don’t look like a delicious, fat, oily seal and don’t swim near them.  Or if you do, be prepared to use them as a “human” shield.
Also, please consider supporting anti-finning programs, and the like.  I mean really, is shark fin soup that much better than chowdah?  Just sayin’.


The devil is in the details.