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March 29, 2007

On the Road Again

I missed you yesterday, dear Reader, but I have a good excuse for not posting: I was en route to Baltimore to staff the ICPSR exhibit booth at the national meeting of the Association of College and Research Libraries.

I arrived safely yesterday, checked into my hotel, and spent the evening wandering around the harbor area. Today I went to the Convention Center first thing in the morning to get my exhibit booth set up. This was the scariest part of the whole trip. I had a very half-assed training on setting up the exhibit booth, which pretty much consisted of the ICPSR human resource assistant telling me that I am too short and that there is no way I'll be able to do it myself. The exhibit booth is a 10x10 foot pop-up frame, which then gets plastered with ICPSR information. I have a friend who used to design these things for a living, and she said the challenge was to create an impactful booth that could easily be assembled by one person. I guess the designers of our booth weren't imagining it being set up by a 5'3" tall woman. Fortunately, when I got to the booth space, there were two tall chairs and, standing on these, putting the booth together was actually pretty easy. The hard part was turning the booth's shipping case into a podium. There are some extra pieces that snap on, and then velvet panels that go around the whole thing, attached by magnets and velcro. But I just couldn't get the side panels to stick, so they are standing out at an angle, making the whole thing look pretty low-budget.

I expected it to take about an hour to set up the booth and it ended up taking two, so I'm glad I went early. The most infuriating thing, however, was the people who work here, who are supposed to be here to give any help we need. The whole time I was setting up the booth, four of these guys were standing around chatting in the booth next to me. They never once offered help, though they did make eye contact with me a few times. Instead, they were busy loudly discussing:

  1. The fact that restaurant smoking sections are too small (one guy said that he wanted to open his own all-smoking restaurant, where the nonsmokers have to sit in the basement

  2. The fact that the surveys showing that a majority of Marylanders don't like to be around smokers are biased because they only survey Democrats

  3. Why they need guns

  4. The overly restrictive nature of Maryland's concealed weapons laws

I wasn't quite sure why they had to have this conversation right next to my exhibit booth but, as soon as I finished setting up and left to wash my hands, they disappeared as well. In any case, my booth is set up, no thanks to them, and now I'm off to find some breakfast.

Posted by eklanche at March 29, 2007 09:52 AM


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