First day musings [from the American Historical Association’s annual meeting 2009]…[ed. note: Eat your heart out, Rate Your Students–my correspondents have reported first!]
I think the Friday start is a bit disorienting for folks. (That, and the crush of New Year’s vacationers leaving as the frumpy historians arrived gave the Hilton a sense of strangeness.) My memories of AHA openings is that they are rather tame, but this one was far more active. Registration opened at 12.00pm, and you would have thought they were giving out free booze. By 12:08, the very large promenade was packed and the printers serving up badges had suspended business due to overuse. (They were up and running shortly thereafter, but the lines took a solid hour or so to settle down to normal volume.) All I could think of was the Coconut Grove. [Ed. Note: Have no historians mastered on-line registration yet?]
More disconcerting for most was that the book exhibit did not open until 3:00pm. And really, this is the highlight of the conference for most, if not all. Picture the AHA without the book exhibit, even for five minutes. Grim.
On the job front…well, there isn’t much of one this year. The smell of fear that normally permeates the cattle pen is a bit more stale this time around. [Ed. note: it’s a little known fact that Hotshot Harry lived in Potterville before he decamped for Tucumcari, so this greenhorn knows from cattle pens!]
As for the attire, there were some folks who seem to be trying for Soho hip and have missed the mark a bit. Otherwise, standard AHA attire is in effect. Manufacturers of wool have little to fear, despite the economic downturn.
UPDATE, 1/3/09: RYS has posted the first-day at the AHA impressions of Archie–which brings back memories for me. Consider Hotshot Harry’s post here the briefer, G-rated version of what Archie has to say. Archie also provides more of an explanation for those long registration lines yesterday:
So just to prove that academics shouldn’t even be allowed to plan a cluster f*@k, this year’s meeting features an “improved” registration system. If you pre-registered, you wait in line to use one of several laptop computers. You look up your name and press print. Then you go stand in line and wait for one of the graduate student volunteers to call your name and hand you your badge. How this constitutes an improvement over the cardboard box full of alphabetized envelopes is beyond me. In the twenty minutes I stood there, the system crashed twice, and the whole show ground to a screeching halt. Only an a$$hat academic could have been talked into paying someone for this. On a related note, they made the poor grad student workers wear these red AHA T-Shirts that make them look like they are trying out for Santa’s workshop. Just sad.