Monday, April 23, 2012

The OooShiny! Blog Con CLT Experience

As we mostly do news and opeds, this is going to be a little different. It's been awhile since we just had a blog on the site, but I felt it necessary to describe this past weekend at Blog Con CLT.

For those of you who didn't go, or didn't know about it, Blog Con CLT was a blogger's convention that took place at the Hilton in Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend. Freedom Works and The Franklin Center were extremely kind enough to put it on for us. The amazing Tabitha Hale, did such a great job with running things.

I started off leaving Thursday morning, taking my first plane trips in six years. No, I don't hate or fear flying, I just really love driving. Honestly, hoping that when I get to go on one again, I'll be able to make a road trip out of it, picking people up on the way. Talk about oooShiny!

I was very excited for the trip, and found that I had a really hard time concentrating on the book I was reading. Last year when Blog Con was in Denver, I couldn't get it off work, and so only made it there the last night. I felt like I had missed out on a lot, and very much wanted to take advantage of all that this one would have to offer.

Especially exciting to me was meeting people I hadn't yet, and seeing people I'd met before, that I really enjoy being around. Another primary goal was promoting this site. We're still little, and I knew this would be a great chance to network and find more writers.

The flight to Dallas, and the second to Charlotte, were fairly uneventful. When I got to Charlotte, I had a first. See I'd never been in a taxi before. I don't even think I'd had the opportunity to use one before. Definitely not the need. O twasn't anything exciting or anything, but definitely a first. Check it off the list.

I got to the hotel, checked in, dropped my bag off, and off I went to join everyone at Ri Ra Irish Pub. Got lost on the way, thanks to the directions the hotel gave me, but thankfully ran into an awesome security guard who didn't know the Pub, but did know the street. Luckily I was only one block away. Had I kept going the way the hotel sent me, I would've really gotten lost and been past the place.

As soon as I was at Ri Ra's I ran into one of the first people I'd ever met off of Twitter, Michelle, and got my first big hug, which was quickly followed by another from Ree, whom I hadn't met til then, and an introduction to Greg. Blog Con was off to a great start.

Checking into foursquare and the Blog Con CLT hashtag on Twitter, I saw several people I needed to meet were there. Went about doing my rounds meeting people, and seeing those from before as well. Food was becoming a priority though, so I grabbed a bacon cheeseburger from the place, they wouldn't do a double :(, and had drinks and some conversations with new meets like Andrew Lawton, Karen, and Holly; old friends like Jimmie Bise (who had been so helpful to met last year), David, Amelia, Irina, Andrew, Kemberlee, and April; and met some that I hadn't known even on Twitter yet.

With Sarah
Once I was done eating, got back to making rounds, and ran into two of my favorite people ever, Sarah and Kira! For a bit there was some salsa dancing, which I had fun with even though I was rusty by ten years. I kept mingling and finally got to meet both Katie and Jamie! Both of whom are so completely oooShiny and I had been looking forward to meeting, and am very glad I got to.

After a bit, some of us (20-30) decided food was again wanted, and Ri Ra's kitchen was closed. So off we went, and ended up at Carolina Ale House. They knew what a 'double' bacon cheese burger is. Though they didn't have pepper jack cheese either. I believe I found out that North Carolina only carries cheddar for burgers. Whilst there, we all sang happy birthday to Katie, who'd just turned 25 the day before.

Somewhere during the time at Ri Ra and Ale House, Stephen Kruiser saw me, and not only remembered me from last year, but knew stuff about me. That was an awesome moment for me, as he's someone I very much look up to.

With Katie
Ale House eventually had last call, somehow no one got cut off before then, including the one who totally dropped his (name withheld to protect those who couldn't hold their liquor ;) ) glass when going for a toast. We went back to the hotel, where some of us (Katie, Jamie, Kruiser, Fingers, Thomas, and I) went up to Fingers' room. That time there, was one of the funniest times in my life. I literally ended up rolling on the floor laughing. Thomas, is seriously one of the funniest drunks ever!

Around 2 tiredness was starting to kick in, so we all went our separate ways. The first night of Blog Con was over. Friday was the beginning of the actual conference.

I was so proud of myself Friday morning. Despite everything I woke up at 7, so as to be sure to be there for all of the conference. Stupid me though, laid back down after showering, and next thing I knew it was almost 10. I'd missed the first two hours of everything. Total fail.

Rushing down stairs, I found the remain of a continental breakfast. At which time I tweeted my lament: "No mimosas or rum & juice? What kind of continental breakfast is this?" But seriously the breakfast was great, and just what was needed. Good news was my roomie, Sam, had finally made it in, after his flights had been delayed. During the first day I ended up sitting next to Scott, great sarcastic comments and jokes were made all day long. I got to meet such people as Lori, Mary, Sister Toldjah, Jen, and Eye on Politics

Not long after I made it into the conference room, Matthias Shapiro and Alex Lundry began a talk on data visualization. If you know me, you know I'm not a graphics guy or that artistic. But I definitely appreciate it, and that was a great lecture. I learned some things from them, that hopefully I'll get to use. Matthias' debt road trip video is awesome, and you need to watch it, if nothing else for the knowledge you'll gain.

They wouldn't be the last to teach me things. Lee Doren's talk on how to use youtube effectively was brilliant. He was followed by Steven Crowder who gave an inspiring short speech, that rallied the troops. Following that was Katie Pavlich, who's book, Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and Its Shameless Coverup, you should really check out.

For lunch there was sandwiches provided for us, though many people left for other places. Around then I ran into Matt, who if you didn't you missed out as he's got a bright future ahead of him. Those of us who grabbed food and then came back for Jimmie and Finger's discussion on how to podcast, made a great choice, as that was an extremely informative talk, that hopefully I'll be putting to use by the end of summer.

After their talk was probably the one time that everyone was actually in the same place. The debut of part of Occupy Unmasked by Citizens United left us all wanting to see the whole thing. For some it was a difficult time, due to Andrew Breitbart's predominant role in the film.

The movie was a great start to the tribute for him. The unveiling of the poster brought many of those who hadn't yet, to tears. It was a completely emotional time, and further united us.

Slaying the legacy media, was the next workshop. Pamela Gellar, John Nolte, and the others on it gave us some great information on how to fight against the evil empires of main stream media. During that time the hotel put out a great spread of dried fruit and nuts, powering us through the afternoon Lachlan Markay and Trent Seibert followed with information and resources on how to dig deep to find what you need for a story.

From there we moved on to a candidates reception. Sadly there was no free bacon with the free alcohol. Sean Bielat, who is running in Massachusetts was the highlight there. America really needs him in office. At the reception I got to meet many more people, including Kat (who I had many great convos with throughout Blog Con), Gay Patriot, John, Melody, and Duane. Tony Katz was awesome enough to talk to me some more, and go over some basic radio production things.

Kruiser Kabana
Eventually, a group of us made our way over to Jackalope Jack's for karaoke. Much great times were had, and lots of hoarse voices were the result. From there I ended up going back to the hotel, going up to the Kruiser Kabana!

There I continued meeting a few people, including Sean (apparently the first blogger there ever was), Kevin, and Laura, but mostly got to chat more with people I'd already met.

Unfortunately, we (well some of us) were too loud, and ended up pissing off the hotel's night manager. A little drama ensued, but everything got worked out, after the agreement that there'd be no more Kruiser Kabana that night or the next in the rooms.

Saturday's conference began a little bit later, so we all got just a bit more sleep. I was luckily enough to sit with Katie and Jennie throughout the day, as well as Ree for a bit, and we had some great laughs.

Again great speeches. Matt Kibbe began, reminding us that the government had n"ever seen a million people show up on the mall, demanding less". Dean Clancy gave us great hope, with his prediction of a 60% chance of Obamacare being overturned in it's entirety. He was followed by Liz Mair, Dana Loesch, Guy Benson, and Tony Katz. They explained ways to promote yourself, and your writing, without being annoying.

During lunch Ben Howe and Duane Lester showed us how to edit a video to make it get more hits. 11 Reasons to Vote For Democrats was a huge hit at the conference. And later, in the afternoon, the real trouble started. Twas then that the hotel put out a table full of candy, popcorn, and crackerjacks for our snack. Great idea for bloggers, most of whom were just finally getting past hang overs, and had been pounding caffeine. But seriously it was amazing!

Kurt Schlichter and James Skyles gave us some very important information on some legal issues. Especially making it clear that you need to have someone who is on the bar, in your own state. Schlichter apparently won't work unless there's the possibility of river front property. In the midst of that the excited screams from Kristina Ribali began. Senator Orrin Hatch was going to face a primary in Utah! Mandy Nagy and Brandon Darby explained how to dig up dirt on the opposition. And then to close it all came Kruiser. His speech totally fired me up, and just thinking back on it is pumping my blood faster.

Saturday night, a private room with our own four bowling lanes, a bar, pool tables, and pizza had been setup for us at Strike City. I personally took great enjoyment from lots of bowling, til my shoulder started getting sore (funny how nearly 75 frames will do that). After that I mingled and met some more great people including Cameron, Emilia, and Amy. Some of my favorite conversations of the weekend took place whilst there.

A group of us, then left in search of a new bar to go to. We first tried Howl at The Moon. None of us will ever go there again. They had a cover, as did many of the places around there. But they also had a 4square offer that if you checked in, you got in free. We all checked in, and they refused to honor it. Howl at The Moon, officially became boycotted by Blog Con after that. And remember this if you're ever there, go anywhere else.

Eventually we ended up at Fitzgerald's Irish Pub. That was a great decision. Chill place, where we all found drinks we liked and had fun. Though we did see people line dancing to rap there. After a while there, we heard that Kruiser had managed to get the hotel to have a private party for us at their bar, so we headed back.

With Kat
After many more great conversations, my energy started crashing though. So went around to all who were still there, and made my goodbyes. On the way out, I realized I hadn't gotten any pics with anyone the whole time. Luckily I did manage to get three over the next couple minutes. Those pics are the ones you've seen in this blog.

The next morning I got up, had a few more goodbyes, and went my way to the airport. There I was lucky enough to spend some time before my flight, chatting with Jamie. Actually almost missed my flight. Good thing they paged for "Passenger Sangster".

Ironically, most of us went home on Earth Day. So Blog Con CLT celebrated by either flying thousands of miles, or driving hundreds of miles. When I got home, I was met by my dad in his 8in lifted off roading monster of a Jeep.

All in all, Blog Con CLT was an oooShiny time. Tabitha, her team, Freedom Works, and the Franklin Center did an amazing job with everything. Without their working so hard for us, it would've been a lesser time. I honestly can't think of a way they could've improved it. O wait, there's one, bacon.

We all got to see that not only is conservatism big on Twitter, but for many of us it is big in our lives. This country matters to us, and we not only will do, but are doing our best to see it saved and improved.

The Hilton City Center, was great. Spectacular jobs by the staff. Even keeping the bar open late for us, and treating us all extremely well. If we were to have another conference in Charlotte, that'd be the place to do so.

This blog, which has become an epic length, doesn't even cover all of what went on, nor in any detail. Whoever you are, if you're reading this, and you're interested in saving the United States, blogging, conservative politics, and having fun; you really should get to the next Blog Con.

If I don't mention you above, sorry! Y'all meant a lot meant to me, and I really didn't mean to leave anyone out. Some of you, I can't remember your twitter handle, others your real name, some of you neither (I know total fail on my part); but I do remember your faces and the great memories you gave me. Who knows, I may have a sudden mental click and you'll find yourself added later.

Thanks to Kira for letting me add the compilation video she made of Blog Con CLT Pics: