Before I move on to the topic that is at the top of everyone’s mind — CMEpalooza bloopers, of course — I do want to take a quick moment and thank everyone who submitted an abstract for CMEpalooza Spring. As always, Scott and I are humbled and honored that so many of you would take the time and effort to put together an idea for our little event. We have some interesting and creative ideas among our accepted sessions, and I’m particularly excited that we will have a number of new faces popping up this time around. Our goal is to hopefully have the agenda up for you sometime next week, fingers crossed! (As usual, I am the slow one, so blame me if it’s not up by then…)
And now, on to the bloopers!
While I was at the Alliance conference a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with someone who mentioned that she was always impressed with how smoothly CMEpalooza ran, and “Did we ever have anything go wrong?” After I finished wiping away the tears of laughter from my eyes, I smiled politely and said, “Oh, yes. All the time.”
That is, unfortunately, all too true. We have small, easily resolvable glitches, like someone needing to use a different web browser because their video isn’t working. And we have bigger screw-ups which, for some unknown reason, seem to happen more frequently on my watch (no reason to analyze this in any more detail. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. Also, Scott might screw up all the time and just never tell me. This seems pretty likely, actually. Let’s go with that.) The nice thing about running a virtual conference is that most (but not all) of the things that go wrong happen before we go live on the air, so Scott and I come across like we actually know what we’re doing (haha). This list of Top 5 CMEpalooza Bloopers is a little glimpse behind the CMEpalooza curtain, for better or for worse.
#5: The time power went out on my entire block. This happened during my first session of the second day of the palooza last spring (we experimented with making the palooza two half days instead of one whole day. It wasn’t great.) and was actually remarkable timing. The session was just finishing up, and I was getting ready to close the Hangout when I suddenly got a message saying I was disconnected from the Internet, which was very confusing. Then I looked around and noticed all of my lights were off. Then I looked out my window and noticed all the lights were off EVERYWHERE. It was perfect weather outside, but for some reason the power had been knocked out on my entire block (I still don’t know why). I had about 30 minutes before I had to get my next session ready, and I had no Internet service and none of my neighbors had Internet service. I called a friend who lives about 15 minutes away and she graciously offered her house and Internet for me to use for the rest of the day. I sprinted up the steps to my third-floor office, grabbed the laptop and threw it in my bag, sprinted/tripped back down the steps, and was reaching for my car keys when the power came back on. Breathing a sigh of relief, I went back to my office and got the Hangout ready for my next session with minutes to spare.
#4: The time we couldn’t figure out how to pronounce Vivacity Consulting. I still feel badly about this. Erin Schwartz and her CME consulting company Vivacity Consulting were the very first sponsor of CMEpalooza and deserved so much better than Scott and I repeatedly stumbling over a not-that-difficult-to-pronounce name. Those of you who have ever watched CMEpalooza know that we always have a slide with all of our sponsors listed, and we read off all the sponsor names at the beginning of each session. As I was reading the slide for the first time, I realized I had never said “Vivacity” out loud before and was not exactly sure how to say it. I went with “vivuh-city” because that’s how it sounded in my head and also, I’m an idiot. Scott also got it wrong during the session after mine (ergo he’s also an idiot). Poor Erin sent me a message to try to explain that the correct enunciation is “viˈvasədē”, but I was a lost cause. I got it wrong every time, though credit to me for creativity with a different pronunciation each time. I think Scott eventually got it right by the end, but I never did. It was pathetic. Lesson learned, though, as now I always practice the sponsor names ahead of time.
#3: The time roofers came to install a new roof outside my office window. They were supposed to come the day before CMEpalooza. Then it rained. Guess who showed up to hammer and saw five feet from my office window just as the first palooza session cranked up? Thankfully, they were only around for the first two sessions and I’m the Quick Draw McGraw of the mute button, so most of the ambient noise was kept to a minimum. Even so, you can still hear hammering and sawing in the background if you listen closely enough.
#2: The time I told Graham McMahon the wrong time for his session. Yes, I asked the CEO of the ACCME to participate in a CMEpalooza session with Lawrence Sherman, he (somewhat to my surprise) accepted, and I then proceeded to tell him and his staff the wrong time it would start. And continued to repeat the wrong time for the next month, only realizing my error when Dr. McMahon’s assistant questioned me about it at 9 a.m. on the morning of CMEpalooza. His session was at 1 p.m. ET, noon CT, and I kept telling everyone that it would start at noon ET. I don’t know why. I think the time zones confused me, even though I double and triple checked. It was one of the worst stomach-sinking experiences I’ve ever had when I discovered what I had done. Remarkably, the revised time still worked with everyone’s schedules and the session went great, though it took me about a week to stop being mad at myself.
#1: The time Google Hangouts shut down in the middle of a session. I made this #1 because it was the only one of the top 5 bloopers that had an obvious impact on the session. It was during our The Brief, Wondrous Life of a Grant Request session at CMEpalooza Fall 2016, the first session of the day, and I knew something was going wrong because everyone on the screen was frozen, even though their audio was perfectly fine. I texted Scott, who said everything on the screen looked fine, so I just let it keep going in the hopes that everything would work out OK. It did not. As I was watching, the Hangout that everyone was on suddenly just…disappeared. It just went away. I sat there stunned for a few seconds, not knowing what to do. I got a text from Scott telling me the video feed was down (very helpful, Scott, thanks). I took a few more moments to think and then quickly brought up a new Hangout, emailed the new link to all the panelists, and then posted the new video stream on the website. In all, it took less than 5 minutes to get back up and running again. I got a new laptop and router the next day.