The Tuesday morning of the SBL Annual Meeting tends to be a bit of a non-event. There are sessions still going on, but they are attended by the speakers and just a smattering of people, those who are not yet fatigued and those who do not have a flight to catch for a while. I once had to speak on a Tuesday morning, Boston 1999, but on the whole I have been lucky since then. I do try to make it to Tuesday morning sessions when I can, but this year I could not.
I had a nice breakfast, though, at the Corner Bakery opposite the Hyatt Regency, where I was staying. And from there, I took the metro to the airport -- much cheaper than a taxi -- and was lucky to meet friends at the airport and to have one last Sweet Water 420 before flying.
I enjoyed this SBL. I found the Saturday, with my three speaking commitments, so exhausting that the Sunday and Monday seemed so much more gentle and relaxed in spite of the fact that I had lots on. The session highlight for me was the inaugural Blogging and Online Publication section, and it is good to see that several of the papers from that session have already been posted on the blogs (e.g. Paleojudaica; more below).
Another highlight was going up and down in the funky lifts in the Hyatt Regency -- I really liked them. I was a bit disappointed to discover late on Monday evening, when we tried to go all the way to the top, that the top two floors are closed off for the elite.
I heard several good papers this year and several pretty ordinary ones. I must admit to being disappointed that everyone seems completely devoted to reading papers rather than presenting them. I would like to see more people looking at their audience. On the other hand, I was pleased with the number of clear handouts. There were several papers that would have been greatly improved with nice handouts too.
It was interesting to see that several people did use Powerpoint and Keynote in spite of the charges. I was pretty horrified about the $25-$75 speaker charges and hope that this is not repeated next year. Three were especially memorable -- Bob Cargill and James McGrath at the Blogging session and Joe Weaks at the Synoptic Section. Those three really showed the value of a strong illustrated presentation.
As usual, of course, the real highlight was the socializing with old friends. I particularly liked the Irish pub, Meehans that was just down the road from the conference hotels.
And did anyone else take a day or two to realize that the book exhibit was in two different rooms?