Monday, January 31, 2011

Thirsty about the Huge National Conference

I, too, went to a Huge National Conference this month. And it's the last day of the month, so let's think about those HNC mysteries and try to answer a question or two.

What surprised me:

1. That guy I saw just last year (or two years ago?) seems much older. Does everybody think I look older, too?

2. Big, non-academic, for-profit companies seem to be sending more of their employees to the HNC. ("Wow, Facebook really paid that employee to come here? Cool.") Not a huge number, but it still seems like more than in the past.

3. I can't believe so many people still crowd, like lemmings, into those huge conference halls to listen to boring presentations. Huge numbers of people with no real opportunity for Q&A.

4. Those women who wear high heels. How? Why?

5. More than once, I couldn't remember which town I was in. All convention centers seem to look the same. Life goes by so quickly. I wish convention centers would do something to distinguish themselves--like the Atlanta airport did with its white rocking chairs. I'd like to be able to anchor the experience a little better in time and space.

6. Oddly enough, there seemed to be less desperation than I expected. Which reminds me: I wonder how Darla's job search is going. If I saw her at the HNC, then she certainly didn't seem desperate. Maybe my radar wasn't working very well. Or maybe the people who really, desperately needed another job or a promotion couldn't afford to go to the HNC.

7. My school paid for my entire trip (or, rather, will reimburse me next month). Why? I didn't do anything except maybe avoid embarrassing the school.

Q. What surprised you about your HNC?

A. Dammit, be honest.


  1. The white rocking chairs are in Charlotte's airport. :-)

  2. Thank you, Surly. That's the first time I've laughed today. This post might say more about me than it does about HNCs.

  3. I haven't been to the HNC in my field for several years now. There's no reason for me to go, since I have tenure and am not actively job seeking. There are also just too many people I can't stand in attendance. I do still go to smaller, specialized meetings, where it's possible to learn some science---and to show some off, effectively.

  4. P.S. Now that I'm about to publish my textbook, I suppose I'll have to start attending HNCs again. Oh, joy and delight.

  5. What surprised me was that I had just suffered a personal tragedy and absolutely every one of my colleagues in my field who knew was gracious, kind, and lovely. I think of HNC as a carnival of humiliations and faux pas (what's the plural of that?), but this one was not in the least.

  6. I was so fortunate to get 5 HNC interviews, and so far I've had 2 campus visits with 1 more pending. I met some really cool people at the HNC, and have stayed in touch with them since.

    What surprised me about this year's event was how much fun so many people were. I don't have a ton of HNC experience, but I always feared a dry academic meeting. But this was the opposite.

    Whether I get a job or not this year, and who knows, I'm going to HNC next year for sure, and packing my dancing shoes!

  7. So DK must be the long-lost Darla Keef, who said she had 5 interviews. 3 campus visits is great, Darla -- keep us posted!

  8. Sometimes we're worse than students when we're supposed to be listening to a presentation. ;o)

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  10. "2. Big, non-academic, for-profit companies seem to be sending more of their employees to the HNC. ("Wow, Facebook really paid that employee to come here? Cool.") Not a huge number, but it still seems like more than in the past."

    It's the ersthwile ComicCon phenomenon, people. I've stopped following all cons, given how disgustingly flooded they've become with people promoting their television shows and stuff. If I wanted to watch that, I'd be sticking my nose to my TV screen and buying gossip mags, you pea-brained little twits.

  11. I'm one of those women that wear high heels.

    I work at a business college (for now). They are part of my uniform, quite honestly, as I'd been told my flats of all shapes and varieties just weren't what they were looking for.

    So I bought myself some wedges, and eventually I could wear heels.

    Furthermore, since I have to work 14 hour days during student orientation, I found a brand of heels less likely to give me sore feet and blisters than my running shoes.

    Guess what I wear to conferences? It's not the comfy looking sneakers that evilly eat my heels!

  12. @My Little Proffie: eek! I definitely understand the "for now" part. I'd be sorely tempted to rebel, via some combination of a note from my doctor, reference to peer-reviewed research demonstrating the longterm harm done by wearing heels, wearing men's dress shoes (and, if necessary, the rest of the outfit that accompanies them), reference to Millicent Fenwick, and/or threats of a lawsuit. But I realize that none of the above would be good for your career. I hope you can escape soon, and am glad you've found semi-comfortable heels in the interim (though I'm not sure that comfort and avoidance of long-term musculoskeletal damage are quite the same thing).


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