A chronicle of my trip to San Fancisco.
Skip to the part about The Blind Side, if you so choose.
Last week I attended Eye for Travel’s Social Media Strategies for Travel conference at the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf. I haven’t updated the blog in a while, so I thought I’d write about the trip in general and the conference specifically.
First, for what it’s worth, I didn’t have any trouble with the signal on my iPhone while I was there. But, I stayed near Fisherman’s Wharf most of the time.
I flew out at four on Tuesday, so I had time to rally the office (and some people from other nearby offices) for #takotuesday at the Boka Tako Truck. The tacos were great and I highly recommend that you check them (they post their schedule on their web site and on Twitter).
The conference, which was all day Wednesday and Thursday, had an interesting format—it was organized into panels, but the panelists gave presentations individually, then answered questions from the attendees as a group. As you can imagine, the results were somewhat mixed. I particularly liked the presentations by Virgin America, Google, InterContinental Hotel Group, Forrester Research, and Vail Resorts. The conference organizers promised to make the slides available, and if they’re on the web somewhere, I’ll link to them with some more detail about the presentations.
There was some talk about Foursquare at the conference (but not as much as I thought there would be, considering all the hotels represented) and someone added the event as a location, but after just two checkins at the hotel restaurant I was awarded mayorship. I guess I was the only one willing to publicly declare my presence in a hotel bar.
I’ve been to several SMCRVA events, and even a social media conference in Fairfax, so I was curious to see if people outside of Virginia had anything different to say about social media. I did learn some new things about how hotels and other locations are using social media, but for the most part there doesn’t seem to be anything big we’re missing in RVA. I wonder if a general-interest social media conference would have been a different experience.
A buddy of mine from college happens to live out in San Francisco, so we caught up on Thursday after the conference. It was great to see him, but my main takeaway from the experience was that I’m old: I hadn’t seen him in nearly ten years.
(Skip the following long story about my flights home.)
Friday morning after breakfast I stopped by the hotel’s business center (a euphemism they use for a closet with two crappy computers with credit card readers on them) to print my boarding pass. (Fortunately, they did provide the ability to print boarding passes for free.) That’s when I found out my one o’clock flight was delayed until after three. Meaning I’d miss my connection to RIC. Delta’s web site nicely offered to let me book an alternate flight, but the slow-as-molasses “business center” computer had time limit, which expired while I was looking for a new seat.
I called the airline who nicely offered to let me stay overnight in Detroit and fly back to Richmond in the morning. Thanks, but no thanks. I tried to talk them into booking a different airline that would get me back to RIC around midnight as planned, but the best I could do was book a 10:45 p.m. red eye to Atlanta, to arrive home at 10 a.m.
For some reason, my boarding passes would not print from the Delta site. Expecting a problem (my day hadn’t been going swimmingly so far), I cut short my tour of San Francisco and headed to the airport four hours early (unwisely subjecting myself to rush hour). I checked in at the ticket counter, and still didn’t get a boarding pass—I would have to get my seat assignment at the gate just before boarding.
When they finally started handing out seat assignments, I had the sinking feeling I’d end up jammed in a center seat for a 5+ hour flight. They asked for volunteers to get bumped to morning flight. Figuring I would rather be comfortable in a hotel in SF than jammed on an overcrowded flight, I jumped and was the second volunteer. And the offer of a $400 voucher didn’t hurt either.
As it turned out, they were able to put me on a flight through Cincinnati (which, for airline purposes, is actually in Kentucky) only an hour later than the flight I volunteered to give up. And the only seat left on the flight to Cincy was in first class. Yeah, we call that a bonus. Snuggled cosily in my first-class seat, I watched the in-flight movie:
The Blind Side
I do my best to go into movies with, at best, neutral expectations. I find it leads to much greater enjoyment of all kinds of movies. So, I wasn’t expecting for this to be the best movie ever, or to get bowled over by Sandra Bullock’s performance. And in sports movies, I expect a certain level of cheesiness. The Blind Side, however, failed to meet even my minimal expectations. The acting was fine, but the writing and directing… sheesh. I’m not sure I even have the vocabulary to describe how corny it was.
Now, I happen to have known a little bit about the story going in, from reading about the book (and even reading some excerpts in the New Yorker). Perhaps that colored my experience with the film, but I’d like to think I still would have groaned at the part early in the film where the teacher told Bullock’s character that “Big Mike” was basically an idiot, but he scored in the 98th percentile on “protective instincts.” Have you ever been given a test that graded your protective instincts? Is that something they only give to foster children? And then I groaned again when it came up in the scene where Mrs. Tuohy knew better than anyone on the practice field how to get Michael to be the best damned left tackle ever. (“Your team is your family; protect them like you would me and SJ.”)
Here is my summary of the movie:
Voice over, sad part, groan-inducing part, training montage, groan-inducing part, inappropriate laugh, more voice over.
Oh, and that training montage? Playing the Mickey Goldmill role was the youngest Touhy, SJ. Maybe I left my suspension of disbelief back at the airport. Good thing the little white boy was there to teach the big black boy how to play football.
I thought Sandra Bullock was good, but that Tim McGraw was better. The best part was the parade of cameos by current and former Division I college coaches.
Now I’m back safe and back to work on Monday.