beer & food

My review of Bob Skilnik’s book was published yesterday, and the first comment that I received was a snarky commentary on a misspelled word. Sheesh. I have written many reviews over the past year, and most of them have at most received a comment from the editor that published them. Not the most pleasant way to wake up in the morning, let me tell you.

Anyway, the book was interesting, albeit not exactly an exciting read. I’d recommend it if you are interested in beer, food, and history, as well as old recipes.

I’m about half-way through a book on the history of Guinness, and I hope to write the review of that this week.

Oh, and for those who are keeping score, this is #25, which means I’ve read half of my annual goal.

ala midwinter seattle day one

How much swag is too much swag?

I arrived in Seattle yesterday around noon, thankfully without incident. I opted for taking the shuttle rather than taking my chances that the pass would be okay both going and returning. Plus there’s the whole finding and affording parking in downtown Seattle.

After getting checked into my hotel room, I went up to the convention center and picket up my badge holder and packet. ALA has got this conference thing down to a science, it seems. I haven’t been to an ALA conference since 2002, and I had forgotten how organized it is. The signage is very helpful and well placed.

My first official event was the Innovative Users Group meeting. The first part was all about the upcoming IUG meeting in Chicago, which I’m not attending, so it wasn’t of much interest. I took that time to make use of the free wifi and catch up on email. After that, Dinah Sanders did a presentation about III’s upcoming “discovery services platform” called Encore. It looks really good – lots of Library/Web 2.0 widgets done in a helpful and tasteful way. It’s not meant to be a replacement for the OPAC, just a different layer for delivering resources for basic information needs. Seems like something public and undergraduate libraries would find very useful, if they can afford to purchase the product. Knowing the pricing that tends to come with these things, it may take a while for it to catch on, no matter how cool (and useful) it may be.

After that, I attended the author’s forum. It featured three science fiction and fantasy authors talking about the rise of sf/f since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They all agreed that the premise of the talk is a bit off, since sf/f was already on the rise when that happened, but that world events leading to the attacks and the rise in popularity of sf/f are linked. Two good reasons are that sf/f presents a relatively non-threatening way of discussing current problems and possible solutions, and that readers are able to escape (in a good way) for a little while to a world where at some point there will be a resolution of something. Of course, depending on the series and author (*cough*Robert Jordan*cough*) that resolution may not come at the end of the book.

The grand opening of the vendor hall followed the author’s forum. This was yet another ALA conference — specifically ALA midwinter conference — event that I was not prepared for. Apparently this is a free-for-all get as much swag as you can while chowing down on the finger food event. I now know to leave the laptop in my room along with my heavy winter coat before embarking on that quest. By the time my group was ready to go to dinner, I was dragging from the weight in my bag, and I really didn’t take much of the swag.

nasig day one

The opening program was one of the best I’ve seen so far. The local historian, Dr. Tom Noel, gave an entertaining and informative overview of the Denver area and Red Rocks in particular, complete with a slide show of images. Equally entertaining was Jeff Slagell’s presentation of this year’s award winners.

The evening at Red Rocks was dreary, but I took a few photos, anyway. My only complaint there was the lack of sufficient seating, but after a couple of hours, enough people left and I was able to snag a chair.

Friday was a long day that didn’t end until early Saturday morning. I have notes from the sessions I attended, and I plan to flesh them out into a future post. The main take away things I got from the sessions:

  • Don’t fear technology and social networks, but make sure that the intentions brought to them are good.
  • eJournal checkin isn’t checkin per se, but more a systematic and proactive verification of access.
  • SUSHI will rock your socks off, so be on the lookout for implementation.
  • The current publisher/academe/society relationships aren’t sustainable and must change.

For dinner, B took us to an Ethiopian restaurant. The food was very yummy and we were quite satisfied when we left. There was a bit of an incident with the rehab folks on the bus to the restaurant, and the return trip was bland in comparison. In true NASIG fashion, we closed the bar before heading back to our rooms.


Yesterday was a looong day. After staying up late getting ready to go to NASIG, I was up early and driving to the airport. The flight was nice, and I was very impressed with the plane and amenities. Frontier must be one of few airlines still giving out snacks for “free” on flights. We landed about fifteen minutes early, which was nice, but I still had about an hour wait until J’s plane landed. We waited a little while for B & M’s plane to arrive, but then decided to get our shuttle tickets and go the hotel. Just after we purchased them, C and M arrived, so J and I hung around chatting with them. They were waiting for JG to arrive with coupons for a discount on the shuttle ride. (I somehow missed this option, but it was only $4 off.) B & M got there before JG arrived, so by the time everyone had their shuttle tickets, we pretty much took over a couple of shuttle vans, which was amusing to me.

After getting settled in my hotel room and taking a shower, I met up with E, B, M, and L, and we all went out to a brew pub for dinner. The food was excellent (fried chicken! with gravy! and a biscuit!) and the beer was quite good, with the exception of the beer brewed with herbs instead of hops. It was some old recipe, and if you like beer flavored tea with lots of lemon, you’d probably enjoy it. I didn’t care for it so much. My favorite of the ones I sampled (I tried six of the twelve available) is the Sagebrush Stout. It was very creamy with a nice almost chocolate flavor, and it took a bit longer than usual to get to the slightly bitter hops taste.

The evening ended in the hotel bar, as most evenings end at NASIG. I like this hotel bar best out of all of the hotel bars I’ve been in since NASIG 2003. It’s an open space with lots of sound absorption, so we could all sit in couches and chairs around a large square coffee table and still be able to hear each other. There is another conference in the hotel that is ending today, and after that we’ll pretty much have the bar to ourselves. Yay! The NASIG social evenings are back!

Oh! One more small amusing thing. Keep in mind that when I arrived at the Denver airport, I was functioning on about four hours of sleep, one of which I got on the flight. As I’m beginning to wonder if I missed Jeff’s arrival and I can’t remember which airline he was on or exactly when it was supposed to arrive, I start thinking about heading to the hotel on my own. At which point, I realize I can’t remember the hotel name and I don’t have any documentation on me (for once I didn’t print out my confirmation). I tried calling Emily, but she didn’t answer her phone. Bonnie is still in the air, and the number I have for Jeff isn’t working. So I called Shana, who seemed to be quite amused at my question. “I’m at the airport in Denver, and I can’t remember the name of the hotel where the conference is – Do you know which hotel I’m supposed to be at?”