I knew my hotel was within walking distance of the venue but I had no idea it would only take me 5 minutes to get down there. Podcamp was being held at the Art Institute-Pittsburgh, home of Creation Rex.
Rex writes an amusing blog about his adventures in being a carnivore and trying not to get tranq’ed by his curator, Norm.
I checked in, got my bag of swag and VIP shirt (which is earned by donating $25 to go to a free conference) and found a seat in The Hub. As I looked about the room, I began to feel very, very, O.L.D. There’s a real cross section of old and young, men and women, almost everyone but me is furiously working on their iPhones or laptops. People are clicking and bumping and streaming and chatting and tweeting, while I sit there with my antiquated pen and paper. Not an auspicious start.
So, I flip on the Terminator Scan… Blip… Blip… Blip…
Still no sign of Ginny, aka: PittGirl. Also, no Baggers or Bitches. I’m all alone in here today.
A full house awaits the beginning of Podcamp Pittsburgh 5.
Shortly after 9:00, it kicked off. Norm, one of the Podcamp founders, began the welcome, orientation, and gave the ground rules. Then he introduced the opening speaker, Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto.
Suddenly, during the Councilman’s presentation: Target Acquired! PittGirl is in the room. I saw her come in the side door and sit on the floor just inside the doorway. Upon the wrap-up of the session, I would commence stalking.
At the conclusion, she headed back out the same door. It took me a while to get out of the room because all the desks are not lined up in rows, so there was no real escape corridor. I had to lumber through the randomly placed desks, carrying my coat and notebook, and try not to crash into anyone or turn over any desks.
I got out of the room just in time to see her disappear down a hallway with an exit sign. It turned out to be the stairway. All the classes were either on the 4th or 7th floors, so up to the 7th I went as the chase began. (Yes, that’s where my next session was, so I had to go up there anyway.)
At Podcamp, there were always 6 different sessions going on at the same time. You had to select the one you wanted to attend and go to that room. So after consulting the schedule last week, I had my intended sessions mapped out. It just so happened that PittGirl chose the same 1st session that I did.
Booyah! Same room! Only thing was, the room was already packed. She found a spot up front. I stuck to the side wall along the back.
The session was “10 Ways to Creat Social Media the Matters”, by Justin Kownacki, another Podcamp founder. Justin produces online video shows; which based on his presentation, I will have to investigate. He was a lot of fun, and reminded me of a cooler, funnier Michael Cera.
When the session was over, PittGirl went out the front door, I had to go out the back. I wasn’t worried about following her though. My next session was being given by Michelle from Burgh Baby, who I know to be a friend of Ginny’s. I expected PittGirl would be there.
I was also anxious to meet Michelle. I’ve been reading Burgh Baby almost as long as I’ve been reading PittGirl. She writes a site as a veritable love letter to her daughter, who is now famous beyond her comprehension. She was also originally scheduled to come to the Darwinfish Fry but had to bail at the last minute. So as I crossed in front of the room, I saw Michelle standing by the side and I introduced myself. It was great to meet, at long last. She said I didn’t look like she expected, and certainly not like my avatar.
Maybe if I chewed on some eucalyptus.
Anyway, I took a seat in the back row, which turned out to be a good idea. Because next thing I knew, TARGET ACQUIRED! TARGET ACQUIRED! Here came Ginny, walking along behind the seats. Not knowing what else to do, I just stuck my arm out behind the seat, as if to scoop her up if she tried to get away. She looked a bit startled until she spied my nametag, which I was trying to twist into view.
Finally, we meet! Of course we really couldn’t talk just then, with the session about to start. She gave me a hug and said we could talk at lunch. Deal!
So Michelle gave a great session on how to generate blog ideas. She does a post every day, rain or shine, sickness and health, and while I already do a number of things she recommends, I took some good advice from her talk.
Michelle, giving doing her session. That’s Ginny in the white shirt in front of me.
Free lunch is part of the deal at Podcamp so after Michelle’s session, I went downstairs to the lobby to claim my eats. Man, two steps to the right off the elevator and suddenly I’m going against the line. I doubled back but the line was growing faster than I could get to the end. I ended up in the back of a loooooong-assed line.
Luckily, who should mosey by but the Bitchburgh Bitches! Wormy said, “Come out to lunch with us!”
As you may recall, it’s not wise to say no to these chicks, so we scooped up Mr. and Mrs. Bagger and headed out to Market Square and lunch at Moe’s Southwestern Grill. Having lunch with the Bitchburghers and the Carpetbaggers was great… if we could have added the Cherlocks and Sisters From Different Misters, it would have been like Darwinfish Fry Part 2. The menu board was cool… loaded with pop culture references.
You can spot references to Seinfeld, Caddyshack, Back to School, and many others. I ordered the Joey Bag of Donuts Burrito.
We were a bit late coming back from lunch, which was a bummer, because the next session I wanted to attend was Tall Cathy’s Twitter session. The room was jammed, Ginny was in there too, so I went to the “Overflow Room” next door. There, they had a video and audio feed from the next room. The only problem was that the picture was faint and the audio was very hard to hear. I kinda got the gist of it (Twitter Rockz!) but I’ll have to access the streaming video online, once they put it up.
So when the session ended, I beat it out of the room and stood outside the main room to wait for Ginny to come out. (What? That’s where my next session was, anyway.) So when she did, we got to talk. It was only for a couple minutes, but I managed to get through it without saying anything too stupid. I tried not to embarrass her with praise but I fear I was unsuccessful. She’ll just have to live with it, I guess. By the way, she’s even lovelier in person than she is in pictures.
Oops, I did it again. But she was a dear… Ground Zero for Pittsburgh bloggers, at least in my universe. I was glad to see that my admiration was not misplaced. And I was even gladder that I didn’t have to stalk her any more.
Next session was a rollicking affair from the Bitchburgh girls, including Mindbling, who just had her baby the preceding Tuesday! That’s one tough chick.
Their session dealt with on the Real Life Effects of Living Online. In other words, be careful about whom you talk shit!
Mindbling, Hot Mama and Wormy, being awesome.
It was hard for me to follow everything, because I ended up sitting beside the previous presenter, Tall Cathy. Yes, she is indeed tall… at least as tall as I am, but obviously much cuter.
My last session of the day was a panel discussion on political blogging. I was anxious to see all the stuff I was doing wrong so I got to the room early. I knew it was the room because the first sign I saw was for the overflow room. So the actual room would be next door again, right? Right?
Wrong. As the speaker was tuning up his slides, I recognized the subject matter as coming from another session. I peeked outside and of course, I was in the wrong freakin’ room. By the time I got to the right room, it was jammed and the session was underway. So I went to the session that was in The Hub, which was the one given by Secret Agent L.
Secret Agent L (aka Laura Miller) was doing a session on Social Media and The Kindness Movement. Her site is devoted to recruiting people to go out and secretly do random acts of kindness, then report back. It’s really quite a story.
She had been anonymous up until this July, when she “came out” in a fundraising gala. She has “Secret Agents” all over the country and the world. Not bad for a model/actress/administrative assistant at Duquesne University. (Alma Mater of both my parents… Go Dukes!) She was tall and quite striking, as you might assume from being a model, and spoke with intelligence and a dry wit. I enjoyed the session more than I anticipated.
If you’ve read me long, you know I’m not exactly known for spreading sunshine and roses. But I’ve decided to take a cue from Secret Agent L. If, by posting my writing, I can inspire someone to someone to yell at some moron blocking traffic, or to make bad faces at some screaming toddler in the grocery store, then all my hard work is worthwhile.
Next up: Podcampers encounter Station Square and the dreaded 6-4-9 shot.