Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Best Bargain In Virginia

When I was a kid, about Kenton's age, 50 bucks was a pile of money, just about enough to buy two Murray bicycles at Montgomery Ward. It's still substantial, but not quite like it was then. This morning before dawn I spent 50 bucks filling the tank in my car. This afternoon I spent half that amount paying for 3 lunches at Honduras Coffee in Stuart (very good lunch companions and the best chicken salad ever).

I also just spent 50 bucks paying my registration fee for the Blogs United in Martinsville for free Speech conference. That was the best bargain I've made all day.

For that most recent 50 bucks I get to meet three of the best unpaid writers in Virginia; Jerry Fuhrman, Norman Leahy, and Katheryn Wilton.

That 50 bucks also buys me the opportunity to meet 2 out of 3 of Virginia's statewide office holders; Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, and Attorney General Bob McDonnell. The organizers of the conference are throwing in the two preeminent ladies of Virginia's Democratic Party,Leslie Byrne and Mary Sue Terry, for free.

But that's not all. Let's not forget Ben Tribbett, Virginia's walking database of election statistics, rumor, and forecasts. He'll be there too.

And I'm still not through. That 50 bucks buys me a fantastic dinner at Martinsville and Henry County's prestigious Chatmoss Country Club, and admittance to a private reception afterwards at Uptown Martinsville's Artisan Center. There we'll get to meet BadWill, the only Virginia employee ever suspended for making fun of a jingle.

When Friday evening draws to a close we are still not finished wearing out that 50 bucks. Saturday morning, after hearing speakers Bob McDonnell, Chris Saxman, and Dickie Cranwell, the conference will provide workshops designed to improve your blog, or your mind, or both.

It's been said that experience is the best teacher. I've always disputed that because it gives you the test first and the lesson afterwards. At 9:45 Saturday morning you will be able to turn it around on that ol' teacher, experience. Sit in on the "Bloggers and Libel" workshop hosted by Eric Helms Monday, Conaway Haskins, and Greg Letiecq. Greg provides the experience, Eric doles out the legal advice, while Conaway navigates us through the ethics involved in writing sometimes unflattering articles about other people.

After that you will be able to participate in a roundtable discussion that includes Norman Leahy and Jeff Schapiro, as well as Jerry Fuhrman and Dan Radmacher. That tag team match alone would cost 50 bucks if Vince McMahon was in charge of this conference.

At noon on Saturday your 50 bucks still has enough life left in it to provide a lunch to die for, catered by Pigs R Us, the official caterer of NASCAR's Martinsville Speedway and winner of numerous prestigious BBQ cookoffs around the country, including the Best in the West Rib cook-off in Reno, Nevada and featured on the Food Network.

Your Luncheon speakers will be U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, John Brownlee, and the previously mentioned Leslie Byrne. We will try to get Mary Sue to grace us with some words at lunch as well.

Some of you will decide to stay over on Saturday night, rather than face Virginia's deplorable Transportation System in the dark. You will be able to enjoy a very informal cookout-hangout-kickback-and-yack event at Martinsville's best kept little secret. The Firemen's Cabin is nestled back in the woods on the shore of the Martinsville City Reservoir, and it's been recently remodeled and upgraded.

When the fires die out at the cabin, late on Saturday night, you will have finally used up all of that 50 bucks. But wow, look at what all it bought.

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