Thursday, October 22, 2009

fabulous las vegas

i've just returned from the blogworld expo in las vegas. what an experience. i suppose vegas is designed to be an experience. but there is so much more that impacted me.

vegas is a strange place. it comes alive at night. for a jet lagged south african like me this actually turned out to not be a problem. my body had no idea what time it was anyway, so the circadian confusion was minor.

the american people i can only describe as friendly. unfortunately i think this is more of an indication of what we are like in south africa. we are aggressive or maybe defensive, probably because of the environment we live in. they probably are normal, but compared to us they seem friendly. strangers are forever greeting and asking how you are. it's difficult to get used to. one incident caused a certain amount of introspection on my part. a group of us caught a taxi together. apparently we had too many people in the taxi (too many people in a taxi is an unknown concept in itself in south africa). one of us got out and we were off. unfortunately, by their laws, two should have gotten out. the driver didn't notice the discrepancy and we were off.
half way to our destination, about a minute later, the driver realised his mistake and questioned one of us. his tone was sarcastic. the americans brushed off his comments. i was sitting right at the back but i felt my blood boil. i wanted to move to the front and explain his ancestry to him in true cape flats fashion. but i held my tongue and waited to see what the americans did. they remained calm and even conciliatory. i stepped down.

but the true joy of this experience was the people i met. i met blogging legends and some truly fantastic people.

i met val jones of better health. i was amazed. someone who has the type of drive to get something like that up and going simply is not supposed to be so nice. she was stunning!!! what a wonderful person. and she is pretty good at her job too. she was also the reason i was allowed to attend in the first place.

then there was ramona bates of suture for a living, the great quilter of the medical blogoshpere. she is also probably the most prolific blog reader and commenter. i personally believe she has encouraged many a fledgeling medical blogger into forging ahead and building a successful blog. she is also probably the person i most wanted to meet at the conference. she is truly a selfless, giving person without equal.

the legendary nick genes of blogborygmi and the father of grand rounds was also there. he showed me karaoke can be fun, to watch at least. nick, maybe one day i'll be able to see new york for myself.

the actual driving force (yes he took a car) behind the karaoke night was enoch choi. fun and friendly guy. and he can sing!!

the last member of the karaoke team was gene ostrovsky of medgadget. gene, your pens are being spread around the lowveld as we speak.

then there was allen roberts of gruntdoc fame. as a general rule i like emergency doctors and gruntdoc fell sweetly into the reasons why.

even if his job sounds boring docwes was anything but. i suppose even cardiologists are people too.

another legend i met was the prolific kevin md. as a blogger he it totally out of my league but face to face i though he was a nice, down to earth over achiever.

i actually got to meet the llama doctor, doc rob of musings of a distractable mind. i even watched as he helped on some of the finer points of drawing a llama. i hadn't realised it was so technical. his blog is an absolutely worthwhile read.

then there was bob coffield. even though he is a lawyer he was a really decent guy. he also hung with the medical bloggers so seems to be slightly more our side of the fence.

i now have the privilege of saying i have actually met the great doctor anonymous in person. quite a privilege.

then there was mother jones of nurse ratched's place fame.

the well known patient blogger kerri morrone sparling of sixuntilme fame was also there. her inadvertent discussion with what i can only describe as an intellectually impaired taxi driver about the movie revenge of the nerds gave me quite a laugh.

also a new acquaintance was doctor v (v stands for vartabedian, as you probably could have guessed). he is a paediatric gastroenterologist, something so specialised the speciality, as far as i'm aware, doesn't even exist in south africa.

thanks to marc monseau of johnson and johnson (his son i assume) who were a great financial drive behind the medblogger track.

bob stern of medpage today was also financially significant.

i only briefly met gary schwitzer of health news review. nice to meet you.

unfortunately the legend, paul levy of running a hospital couldn't make it in person, but he did make a telephonic appearance. i suppose he had a hospital to run or something.

all in all it was an absolutely terrific experience. i hope to repeat it next year. also i tentatively hope to see some of my blogger friends on our shores some time. i'll teach you guys how to survive south africa without picking up a lead trinket.


Dr. Val said...

It was soooo great to meet Dr. lower case-blog-writer in person! Isn't it amazing that you can really get to know someone's character by reading their blogs? We really did round up some of the best of the best for the conference - no wonder we all felt like bursting into song. And for the record, you're one heck of a nice SURGEON. The only one that made the cut... ha ha! xo Hope to see you again soon. If your schedule permits, there are a few other US blog conferences coming up where you'd make a smashing addition. Perhaps we can lure you back?

rlbates said...

Don't know what to say. It was "awesome" meeting you and everyone else. Friggin awesome!

Vijay said...

friggin awesome!!

(a phrase that i learnt via the medbloggers at bwe09)

Marc Monseau said...

Great to meet you too -- and so glad you made it out to LV for the meeting. And actually the "and" Johnson was the other Johnson's brother. (We actually have a blog for that -- Kilmer House -- that talks about the history of the company.)

anyway, look forward to seeing more posts from South African.

DrO said...

It was nice to meet you. Were you able to make a trip to Zion or Bryce Canyons?

Jabulani said...

It's fantastic that you got to attend this event, and the photos coming from Dr A have been great too. And I will confess that when I saw you and Bob Coffield, I wondered if you'd encountered an OK lawyer (perhaps the first...and only!!) It looks like Vijay and I had good reason to head up the #bwe09sulk!!

I did sq2m though when I read the bit about you "explain(ing) his ancestry in true cape flats fashion..." -- reminded me of an earlier post of yours when you and Amanzimtoti encountered a European. Seems to me that cape flats culture has rubbed off on you ...

And you absolutely MUST get to New York. If you thought Vegas was great, New York will be a stupendous experience. Actually, it's Friggin' Awesome!!

I heartily agree with your comment about Ramona too. Totally selfless woman ...

Mal Content said... the conference was fun...but seriously...did you like the steaks ? Did you win any money at the tables?

rlbates said...

Mel Content, I witnessed bongi turning a 300% gain on his gambling money. (sq2m)

Kerri. said...

It was great meeting you, too! (And I'm sorely disappointed that the cab driver didn't even encourage a burping contest in our cab ride. Not even a hint of one. Sadness.)

Hope to see you next year! :)

Miss Purple Stethoscope said...

Ooh I'm so jealous - what a great conference?! Wish I could've attended :-P Note to the organisers: make it in Sydney next year please! It's not, erm, Vegas... but we have fun things to do here too :-D

Jabulani said...

Sascha: I think London's a MUCH better location. It's more central for all those worldwide people to get to!!! And a WorldBlogExpo really should go round the World, not just stay in one place - shouldn't it?? It would be Friggin' Awesome if it did...

DrWes said...

I don't know, I kind of would have enjoyed seeing the tongue-lashing a S.African doc blogger could have unleashed on that cabbie...

And cardiology boring? I guess compared to hippo bites, it is...