This was my first conference. I've noted that while I have many interests, I'm rarely dedicated to them, so I tend to be an outsider everywhere.
I feel that way about blogging as well, like I'm not really part of the "gang", that I'm a "hobbyist" in the midst of serious folks.
Despite that, I very much enjoyed the day at the 2nd annual Virginia Blogger's conference sponsored by Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. I got to meet a lot of people in person that I had previously only known through the internet -- and none of them were dissappointing.
I don't remember everybody's name anymore -- it was easier when people were wearing name tags. I think I've got a couple names saved off, but most have fallen out of my (very) short-term memory. I'm good with faces though.
I had my daughter with me, and we had a good time hanging out together and watching the wheels of politics turn slowly and mostly uselessly. We got to see the senate vote to repeal the abuser fees, at least twice because they had to vote a couple of times to catch all the stragglers.
Vivian Page, who also attended, blogged the event in real-time, and others have blogged a little about it. One woman whose name I can't remember does a pictoral blog that I think she called "conservative tivo" but I haven't found it. If I did, I'm betting there's lots of good pictures there of the event.
I like to look for things that aren't on the radar of most people, often things interest me that are ancillary to the real world. One for me was a vote on a bill to allow Virginia ABC stores to sell a magazine about wine. Ken Cuccinelli opposed this bill on the solid grounds that Virginia has no business selling magazines when there are magazine stores perfectly capable of doing so.
Someone, maybe Ken, made the more cogent point that we have little business selling wine in ABC stores, and maybe we have no real business running stores to sell liquor at all. It certainly seems that there are plenty of businesses out there that are perfectly capable of selling booze, and magazines, and whatever else it is that virginian's need. I'd hate to see Virginia getting into the chocolate-selling business.
Of course, most people didn't see the problem with state-run stores competing against private business that has to pay taxes and make a profit, I think 9 people voted for Ken's position. But at least there is somebody making the argument.
We had a session with four interesting guests, including Jackson Miller, Delegate 50th district. He's a local guy, not mine, but I've heard him speak before at our committee meetings, and he's always a straight shooter and an well-received speaker. Vivian gave him a hard time, not sure if it was serious or not, about a comment he made about bloggers and basements. I expressed mock shock that Vivian did not blog from her basement, and noted that at least he didn't mention pajamas.
He also talked about Brian Kirwin being a peeping tom. IT was just an example, but Brian didn't seem to surprised at the reference. :-) Seriously, it's a bill Miller is pushing to allow police to detain misdemeanor offenders if they feel it is necessary. He relayed it as part of an interesting story about how the VCDL was attacking him in conjunction with the ACLU over the bill, noting that politics can make strange bedfellows.
I also tracked down Jeff Frederick at the end of a house hearing, and said hi. I'm not in his district either, but I've spoken with him many times and find him to be both accessable, straight-forward, and a fine person. He's also hard-working and is right on most of the issues that matter to me.
Later I got to sit down with one of the Virginia Federalist bloggers (I remember his real name but not his blogger name), and the aforementioned picture-blogger woman. I truly enjoyed our conversation, and will assert that if blogging consisted of nothing more than a continual written conversation about issues like we barely scratched during that conversation, we could change the world for the better. It is what I always wanted from blogging, a chance to flesh out ideas and debate serious issues to find common ground and solutions.
It is sad that most of blogging instead is quick gotcha comments and mindless shilling for political parties and candidates, much of which seems to scream "don't take me seriously".
Ben Tribbet was also there. He received some praise for his analysis work, along with some ribbing for his other blogging activities. Ben and I are going to be on a panel about blogging for the Prince William Committee of 100 this month, and we spoke extremely briefly about that.
Mostly though my daughter and I just hung out, enjoyed the architecture and statues and the walk around the area. Even the part where we walked the wrong way around the lt. governor's office building and ended up just feet from the door, but one floor too high and one fence to large to scale.
I might have a picture of that somewhere -- I took some pictures, but haven't unloaded them yet.
The culmination of the evening was dinner on Bolling's tab. My daughter and I sat directly across from the Lt. Governor and his charming wife, Jean Ann. Mrs. Bolling and I discussed her sons, and theme parks (as readers know, I am somewhat of a theme park fanatic).
Bill Bolling was a very gracious host. He was coming off a rather severe cold or flu (Randy Marcus had to skip the event having been infected with whatever it was), but still attended to all our events.
When we first arrived, we all were sent to Bolling's conference room. The table had a few chairs, most taken when my daughter and I arrived. But the chair at the end was free. I knew that would be the Governor's chair, but being what I am, I sat down there anyway. It was very comfortable. After noting to my daughter that I would shortly be asked to move, a somewhat contrite Jeremy (Randy's replacement) mentioned that I was in the governor's chair, at which point I noted the appropriate biblical reference and moved another chair to the table.
However, I was mildly amused when I was told that I was the first person they could ever remember who had sat in that seat. I found that amazing, because it just seemed the natural thing to do for me, and I'm not really that much of a maverick. Anyway, you know what they say -- there's no such thing as bad publicity. And it was a very nice chair.
Well, that's about it for me for now. I might post pictures later.