Posted by: Michelle Mitton | July 24, 2008

BlogHer Awards Big and Small

BlogHer 2008 in San FranciscoNow I hate to bring up a sensitive subject but if you didn’t make it out to BlogHer last week you might be interested in a few of the things going down. Maybe the list will bring up painful issues about why you couldn’t go (why don’t I just give you a paper cut and pour lemon juice in it, right?) but then again maybe it will console you that there were things that were fine to miss in the land of cable cars and conferences.

So without further ado I present my BlogHer 2008 awards:

Joby Gorillapod1. Best Swag Award. This one is tough–I’m tempted to give it to my cute little Joby Gorillapod or maybe to Mom Select who hosted a semi-secret swag room full of blankets, diaper bags and clothes for kids. They greeted you at the door, told you to grab and bag and fill it with whatever you’d like and I think I outfitted my niece for the next year. Well maybe I’m exaggerating just a tad but it was impressive, very impressive.

“Is this heaven?”

“No, it’s a BlogHer swag room.”

Merci Chocolates from Emily Post InstituteHowever, despite all of this I think I have to give the Best Swag Award to the Emily Post Institute who, when I walked by their table, decided that I looked like I needed more meat on me or something because they handed me–no lie–six boxes of gourmet Merci chocolates totaling approximately 25 or 30 pounds of good stuff. Though I have to ask: if I eat 25 pounds of chocolate why do I gain more than 25 pounds of fat? There’s something wrong with a world where that’s the reality.

Susan and Janice from 5 Minutes for Mom2. Fastest Talker Award. Goes out to the lovely and talented twins, Janice and Susan from 5 Minutes for Mom–though Janice might have Susan beaten out by a nose. I met up with them deep in the catacombs of the Westin St. Francis first thing upon arriving at the hotel for a video production they’re creating featuring footage from BlogHer (it’s just wonderful and you can view a trailer for it here–can you spot me?).

They’re kind and friendly and glamorous and . . . the fastest talkers in the west. And that’s saying something as I can keep up with the best of them when it comes to lip speed. Of course the fact that they’d been interviewing all day, changing clothes for each segment, trying not to sweat their makeup off in a room filled with lights all while running upstairs intermittently to nurse their infants probably contributed. Just a bit.

It was such a treat to work with them and I’ve never felt so glamorous in my life as I did when I sat down in the chair to have the makeup artist work her magic on me. See that picture their crew took? You’d never know I have warts all over my face would you? Amazing!

3. Most Lifelike Award. Goes to Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom–the second person I met at the conference and one whom I would have known anywhere. Easy to recognize from her fabulous sense of style and beautiful curly hair she gets the award for being the most like you’d expect her to be (not to imply every one else was just faking it–please don’t infer that) and I enjoyed talking with her.

Though I have to admit that when I got off the red eye flight from Anchorage (where dressing up means wearing pants not held together by duct tape) I was wearing a mere white t-shirt and jeans for traveling comfort. Seeing how nicely she was dressed induced a quick panic attack of “Oh my gosh, who knew there were places in the world where people wear more than just jeans and t-shirts everywhere?” At least they were a new pair of jeans–does that count?

4. Best Celebrity Moment Award. This one is easy and it goes to Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks. The first time I discovered the world of momblogs I saw Karen’s blog about her life in Trinidad so I timidly made a comment and within 15 seconds she’d sent a kind reply. It was about 5:30am in Anchorage and I think I woke Andrew up with my squealing but I read her blog faithfully in devotion. She has since moved to Texas and runs a photoblog but when I saw her at Guy Kawasaki’s party Thursday night I knew I had to embarrass myself and say something to her. She was as gracious in real life as she was on her blog though I wasn’t gutsy enough to ask for a picture with her–I’m a coward at heart you know. I have to also mention Foodmomiac–another blog I found at the early stages of Scribbit–and when I ran into Danielle in the halls of the Westin she actually recognized me and said hello and I got a little star-struck! That’s going in the journal my friend.

5. Shyest Moment Award. Speaking of being a coward that would lead naturally to my shyest moment which would definitely be at Guy Kawasaki‘s Alltop party at his beautiful home in Atherton. I met some wonderful people and wanted to say thank you to Guy Himself but was waiting for a better moment than to just run up and interrupt his conversation by squealing, pumping his hand in a handshake and asking for an autograph. Kind of throws off the flow of things you know?

The moment never really came so I never said anything and ended up leaving without speaking to him. Gutless aren’t I? I have the hardest time just walking up to someone and introducing myself, and then it’s kind of awkward to say, “I’d love to speak with you but I’m much better at writing so how about I just send you a note in a few minutes after I’ve had time to edit out all the dumb things I’m sure to say?” That’s why I blog folks, that’s why I blog.

6. Best BlogHer Panel Award. Well besides the FAQs for Beginning Bloggers (which I heard was just breathtakingly AMAZING of course–that tall girl really knew her stuff) the best panel award is to be shared by the “There’s More to Monetization than Advertising” crew and the “Blog to Book Redux” trio. When discussing monetization Dana Loesch from Mamalogues had interesting insight into advertising networks that got me thinking. It wasn’t that there was anything earth-shattering revealed and much of the affiliate information the panelists shared was technical and full of jargon–but hearing each of their backgrounds and areas of expertise gave me ideas about where I could take things here. They were personable and entertaining and it was kind of like a quiet little back row brainstorm session for me as they shared their thoughts about the industry and was time well-spent.

In the “Blog to Book Redux” panel the best part was demystifying the process of writing a book and getting me to think that if I can churn out 1000 posts here at Scribbit that maybe I yet have a book in me. Though the panelists dodged that pesky question that everyone wanted to know, namely, “How much traffic should your blog have before you can pitch a book?” Rita Arens sidestepped that one–the proverbial elephant in the room–and left us still wondering about the mysterious question of traffic but it was definitely worth the time to attend.

Sidenote: Least useful session award? Any session or meet-up where the moderator or panelists said something like, “I really haven’t prepared anything to say I thought I’d leave it up to you guys.” That’s just a little bit irritating because if I came prepared with questions I’d like answered why couldn’t they have done the same? But no grumping here, overall I was pleased.

7. Biggest Disappointment Award. Well besides missing opening night of The Dark Knight? Not getting to meet a few of the bloggers on my list: Rancid Raves, The Not Quite Crunchy Parent and Julie Pippert to name a few though there are others. Next time I’ll have to do a better job of emailing and scheduling meet ups which is how I had such a lovely lunch with Jessica from Zakka Life Crafts in the basement at Macy’s Thursday afternoon. Maybe I can convince Elisa Camahort Page and Julie Stone to hold BlogHer 2009 in Anchorage? Anyone willing to campaign with me? We’d set you up in style!

8. Strangest Party Award. Goes out to Macy’s for the Saturday night party held after the infamous closing interview with Heather Armstrong (a.k.a. Dooce)–which could be a post in itself but don’t worry, I won’t subject you to more about BlogHer. Macy’s is next door to the Westin St. Francis and the party there was rather dreadful. Yes, “dreadful” would be the right word to use here and for several reasons.

Macy’s didn’t close the store but crammed us all in there among shoppers craning their necks to figure out why we were in their way. We were like veals I tell you. There were security people checking tags at various places which created horrible congestion and the whole thing made it feel as if Macy’s was corralling us there to get us to buy their stuff and perhaps write about how wonderful it all was but without any care as to what they could do to create a comfortable experience.

The food was . . . alright. A couple of the things they served were fine but the dessert consisted of fluorescent pink cardboard cookies glued together with spackling paste and they had nothing but wine to drink. Can you believe that? A party full of women and all they have is wine (and cheap wine I heard) so anyone nursing, pregnant or (like me) who doesn’t drink was out of luck in that stifling crowd. I finally got them to give me some mineral water which is barely a step up from swilling a glass of crude oil in terms of pleasure–even for an Alaskan.

The party was sponsored by KY. Lovely. They had a table set up with samples though I heard they weren’t giving them out because of “airport security issues” and those who wanted samples had to sign a mailing list. Odd. Apparently they’re worried about a lot of women getting patted down for smuggling KY samples out of SFO. So instead of going out to dinner with a great group of ladies who’d invited me to join them I ended up in the lingerie department of Macy’s, feeling rather homesick, dehydrated and staring at KY jelly displays. Sigh. I guess it could have been worse? Somehow?

9. Best Conversation Award. So why did I stay at the party? Well there were a few people I still hadn’t met yet and I wanted to catch them before leaving the next day. I didn’t get around to all of them unfortunately but the highlight was seeing Susan from Foodblogga–one of my most favorite bloggers–and her husband Dr. Jeffrey Benabio who writes at The Dermatology Blog who were up from San Diego for the event. It was one of those times where you enjoy talking with someone so much that suddenly half an hour or more later you look up and notice the party’s over and everyone’s gone. Getting to know them a little better made the evening worthwhile.

Megan Jordan of Velveteen Mind10. Funniest Blogger Award. This one is too easy and anyone who was there will agree with me that Megan Jordan of Velveteen Mind goes home with this one despite her desperate efforts to get me to say something incriminating.

I could try to list some of the funny things she said but it would kind of be like Hillary Clinton trying to recreate a Steve Martin SNL sketch, I’d be that successful. So you’ll just have to take my word for it that the woman’s got a wicked sense of humor and every time I talked with her I was laughing. In a good way.

11. Tastiest Treat Award. This could also be labeled “The Man I Was Most Tempted to Kiss Award” and it goes to the guy running the espresso cart next door to the grand ball room. You could–get this–walk up to him, smile and say something crazy like “I’d like a hot chocolate please” then he’d say “Whipped cream?” and I’d say, “You bet your patootie!” and he’d make up a hot chocolate for me. FOR FREE. Nothing says “I’m in love” like free fancy hot chocolate.

I kept coming back for more and considering how painfully frigid the entire city of San Francisco is (no offense to all you cryogenically preserved people living in the Bay Area) he is the one solely responsible for my survival that entire chilled weekend. I think air conditioning was invented in San Francisco or something because it’s like it’s made there and they bottle it for export to other markets. Freezing!

Scribbit, Loralee's Looney Tunes, Crazy Bloggin Canuck and GlossyVeneer12. Best Roomates Award. Definitely goes out to Amber at Crazy Bloggin’ Canuck, Jill at GlossyVeneer and Loralee from Loralee’s Looney Tunes who made me feel very welcome and put up with my nonstop jabbering for the entire time–they didn’t even kick me out of the room, how cool is that?

Loralee seemed to know everyone and if there was any squealing to be heard you could bet she was involved–her stamina was amazing. Jill has been blogging since 2001 which in blog years is, like, 79 years or something. She’s pretty amazing in her own way, the only person I saw who could walk up those San Francisco streets and not get winded–I even caught her doing Pilates before one of the parties. Amber has terrific business sense and besides being kind and sweet she was generous enough to share her Bacon Mints with the rest of us. Mmmmmm . . . bacon mints. Oh and if I haven’t confused you all enough the picture shows me, Loralee, Amber and Jill from left to right, tallest to shortest.

My Legs on Alaska Airlines13. Customer Service Award. I’m totally giving this to Alaska Airlines. First, the red eye flight down to San Francisco was half full (nice of them to arrange that for me) and through careful planning and sneakiness on my part I was able to snag an entire row for myself with enough pillows and blankets to get an hour of sleep.

Then get this, on the return flight when I went to check in I walked up to the ticket counter and the friendly, perky agent said, “I see that you’re tall [you noticed?] would you be comfortable in a seat with a little more leg room?”

In response I jumped up and down and danced around in glee until they had to call security. I had one of the emergency exit rows with no seat in front of me and here’s the picture as proof. It may never happen again so I had to capture the moment. Though now that I look at it I wonder if I couldn’t have got a more flattering angle on those thighs . . . 25 pounds of chocolate . . . maybe I shouldn’t have eaten it all myself.

Anyway, it was a good weekend and quite productive though I was so happy to be home I clung to Andrew for quite some time in joy–I’ve gotta say I’m tired of sleeping with women, even such nice ones, which is kind of funny because I get to finish out my week chaperoning at our church girls’ camp and sleeping with more women. Here’s to BlogHer 2009!

Sponsored by Oaki at Outdoor Adventure Kid Company–Gear for kids who live outside.

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