Monday, August 6, 2007
Get down to the meat and bones of my experience at the Blogher conference that is. I'm going to go out of order and start with food! You know I can't help myself! As you can see from my plate, I ate it all up!
On Friday night, I went to Lao Sze Chuan in Chicago's Chinatown with a bunch of food bloggers. What a great group of people! Now just getting to the dinner was a bit of an adventure. I'll have to backtrack a bit, well a lot actually, so please bear with me. Friday was the first day of the conference. I admit to missing the opening ceremony, because I don't like mornings in general and my flight was delayed because of thunderstorms, so I got in later in the evening than I had planned.
The pilot, who was a woman by the way, which I thought was very cool, kept us informed about the storms and that she was flying around them, so we diverted from the normal route. I thought it was very appropriate that my first flight with a woman pilot was on my way to the Blogher Conference. Oh and this was my first time flying first class. The food was good and I liked the toasted nuts in the little bowls. However, the people who I sat next to didn't make eye contact or say "hi." I don't think that I'm that chatty, but I usually will at least make eye contact and greet whoever is sitting next to me. Oh well, I had a great book to occupy my time. I read The Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. I loved this book and didn't want it to end. I think it's being turned into a movie from what I briefly saw on her blog.
After we landed and I got my luggage, I was able to quickly find an Airport Express Shuttle to take me to the hotel. It was a flat fee of $25.00 for everyone, which I appreciated. When I walked up to a guy standing near the shuttle, I asked him about the price. He said it was $75.00. I was like "What are you talking about??!!!" He smiled and I started laughing. Then a woman who was working with him came over and said the real price. She also had these very cool glasses on that I noticed many women wearing. I need some new glasses and may get some. They were both very nice and on the way to my hotel we passed a wild looking McDonald's that was about three stories and had all these arches all over the place. I stayed at the Chicago City Centre Hotel, which was great. I would definitely go back there again. From what I've read on other blogs, people who stayed at the W Hotel were not happy at all.
In the morning, all I wanted was some caffeine and to get my bearings. I took the shuttle bus from my hotel over to Navy Pier. I was really happy that everything was so organized and there were always free shuttles available for us. When I registered, we got these really cool bags and all kinds of Swag. GM OnStar was a big sponsor and whoever picked out their gifts did an excellent job. The spa set is awesome! I'm not in the market for a new car and if I were, I don't know if I'd buy a GM, but I wouldn't rule them out as quickly maybe and OnStar does seem pretty cool. Whoever their buyer is has good taste.
AOL provided some back-up memory, which I haven't tried yet and a really nice laptop bag. Yahoo! gave some cool round paperclips and had an espresso bar, which was highly appreciated, because I needed stronger coffee than what was provided at the main conference area. I read on someone's blog that they thought the Butterball pot holders were lame. I don't think they were a food blogger. I really like mine and can always use another pot holder. I've already used it!
After grabbing some coffee and a pastry, there was a "Speed Dating Event", which was not speed dating, but basically a big card exchange. Everyone formed two circles around the perimeter of the room facing each other and moving in opposite directions. I couldn't get in at first, because it was so crowded, but I finally found an opening and got in. I introduced myself, my name and blog, and gave my card. The other person did the same thing and we talked about what we blogged about. Then we moved on to the next person. It was fun, but kind of exhausting.
One of the coolest things that I got was a beautiful card holder that was made by Rhonda. She made hundreds of these and they were given out by a friend of hers. Mine is the pink and black print that you see in the back in the picture above. I used mine to carry all that cards that I collected. Rhonda's husband is fighting in Iraq and that she took the time to make these for all of us. Her kindness - it took my breath away. Thank you again Rhonda. Also inside was an Origins Smileage Plus Liptint that I've been using everyday. I love it!
My first and only session on Friday was not the one that I originally intended. I wanted to go to Business of You: Self-branding and Self-Promotion. It was standing room only with overflow into the hall. I figured that it was not meant to be, so I attended Digital Exhibitionists or Chroniclers of their Time: Will Naked Bloggers Make History? It was pretty interesting and one of the things that came up was the notion of anonymous blogging and how honest we are about ourselves. I think the concept of anonymous blogging is an oxymoron. Nobody is anonymous for long, people always find out. And I also started to think about how much I self-edit and how much of my life is left out of the blog. I guess we all do it, well most of us. Some people on the panel and those who asked questions seemed to just let it all hang out. I'm much more reserved than that and didn't ask any questions. I just took it all in.
After this session was lunch. We all had signed up to eat with other similar bloggers, so I was going to eat with the food bloggers. I walked around and around looking for the sign and couldn't find their tables. I was tired, hungry, and just wanted to sit down, so I saw a woman who was sitting by herself. I figured I'd go and sit with her. Long story short, turns out we had a ton in common. We talked for close to five hours and I didn't attend any other sessions that day. Her name is Falise. Hey girl if you're reading this!
Here is her website called 24/8 Book Club. She is also an attorney and has started her own business. I felt instantly comfortable talking to her and we had a million things to talk about. She so reminds me of a good friend of mine who moved away to Michigan. It was like I knew her forever.
First, she has been looking for a new job, so she started seeing how difficult it can be out there. She started doing a local radio show where she interviews all sorts of people who have been super successful in their careers and finds out how they did it. She has interviewed Craig. Yes, that Craig. The one with The List. In addition to her radio show, she and her business partner started a website where they help authors promote their books by having events for them in the local Chicago area. Also check out her blog. She was at the conference trying to learn more about the blogosphere, so I told her about my blogs and my experience with blogging. Falise's book events sound really fun, so if you're in the Chicago area, I hope you'll check them out.
So after talking to Falise, I realized that the whole day had basically passed. I decided to pop in to the reception before heading over to the food blogger dinner. The first person I met also happened to be heading over to the dinner. Her name is Tanya and she has a cool blog called I Ate A Pie. What an interesting lady! She is a food scientist for her day job, but she reviews food products for her blog. We decided to go to the dinner together, but neither of us had any idea how to get to there. We walked outside and saw some people and asked a guy about taking a taxi. He didn't seem to think we could get one too soon, so he offered to drive us! What a sweetie pie! He happened to be one of the shuttle bus drivers, so he dropped off people at their hotels and then drove us over to the restaurant. We gave him a nice tip and thanked him profusely!
Sorry to be a tease my friends, but I have to end now! Come back soon for Part II!
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