Mar 252011

Yes, yes, I know that I’m rather late in writing up my report on the fabulous awesomeness that was SnowCon 2011 — Front Range Objectivism’s mini-conference in Breckenridge and then Denver. However, I’ve been very busy lately processing and posting all of audio and video recordings from SnowCon. (There’s more information on that below. You can purchase the whole package or just selected lectures for a discounted price before April 13th. On that date, I’ll be re-recording my own lecture on “Cultivating Moral Character” in a live webcast, and I do hope that you’ll join me for that!)

SnowCon took far, far more work for me to put together than I ever imagined when I announced it back in December. I didn’t have much time to plan, and the work of coordinating events, venues, speakers, registrations, attendees, materials, and everything else was overwhelming. I had to put aside almost all my other work in the few weeks leading up to SnowCon, but I kept a good handle on what needed to be done through my GTD methods in OmniFocus. Still, the stress was often overwhelming, to the point that I wondered whether the whole conference would turn into a disorganized disaster. Also, I wasn’t helped by the fact that I was hampered a cold in the ten days just before the start of SnowCon.

Despite those harrowing preparations — or rather, because of them — SnowCon was a fabulous success!

(This group picture was entirely the doing of Tom V., and I’m so glad to have it!)

About 19 people joined us for the play in the mountains in Breckenridge. Happily, we had great weather — first a bit of powder, then warm sunshine. The 6 to 8 skiers and snowboarders were able to meet up and stick together without much trouble, exploring runs together and then chatting on the lifts and at lunch. (Alas, we did have one serious knee injury on the first day.) Others in Breckenridge spent most of their time lounging about and chatting, although a few joined Paul for one of his days of snowshoeing.

In Denver, we had 50 people for SnowCon itself, then another 10 for just Kelly Elmore and Jenn Casey’s keynote supper talk on Saturday evening. Many attendees were from out-of-state — and while many of us knew each other from OCONs or elsewhere, some were meeting each other for the first time. (Hi Jenn! Hi Tom! Hi Chris!) That was awesome. The lectures and other events went very well — and some were quite stellar. People were friendly, easygoing, and darn fun, so we had lots of great conversations and laughs outside the formal schedule.

Undoubtedly, much of the success of SnowCon was due to the careful and detailed planning that I did beforehand. However, I had some stellar help too. Kelly Valenzuela and Sarah Jenevein did anything that needed doing in Denver, and I’m quite sure that I would have melted into a puddle of stress without their assistance. However, more than that, everyone seemed willing to pitch in with help as needed. That made a huge difference in my own ability to enjoy the conference — which I did, a whole lot!

Of course, we had a few hiccups — and a few things that I’ll do better next time. I scheduled too many events on Saturday, and by the afternoon, many of us were dragging. So I think we could have used an hour or two to recharge, whether alone or at a nearby coffee shop, to relax before the dinner and talk that evening. Also, it didn’t help that the restaurant that night was a bit noisy and hot. (The food was super-yummy though!) We were sadly lacking in bacon for Sunday’s brunch. (A crime, I know!)

However, the true “OMG WTF!” moment of SnowCon 2011 was the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Denver right where most of us ate lunch on Saturday. That seemed fine at first, although the restaurant was a bit more crowded than we expected. However, then the insanity came, in the form of deafeningly loud bagpipes and drums inside the restaurant. The music was well-played, but inside an enclosed space, just a few feet away? AAAAUUUUGGGGHHHH! Six songs later, I thought that my brain might just be oozing out my ears. But hey, it’s funny in retrospect! And maybe we’ll use that as a slogan for next year’s SnowCon: “Just as awesome as SnowCon 2011, but with fewer bagpipes and drums!”

Speaking of SnowCon 2012, I’ve decided to do something very similar in schedule — meaning three days of play in the mountains, then two days of lectures and events in Denver. However, to accommodate the schedules of students and academics, I’ve decided to hold it earlier in the year — from January 11th to the 15th. So mark your calendars! I’ve already talked to a few people about lectures, and I’m sure that we’ll have an awesome program, not to mention tons of fun!

Here are some of the photographic highlights of SnowCon 2011, including the bagpipers and drummers!

If you missed SnowCon — my condolences! However, we hope to see you next year. Also, you can capture a bit of its goodness via the recordings — audio and often video too — now available for sale.

Overall, the webcast of SnowCon worked somewhat better than I could have hoped for, yet we did have some pretty serious glitches. The room was too dark to record video for Kelly Elmore and Jenn Casey’s talk on Saturday night, so we were limited to audio. And due to an unexpected change in the interface of my webcasting console, none of the SnowCon lectures from Saturday morning were recorded. (AUGH!) Also, I had trouble managing the audio levels for Hannah Krening’s piano recital.

However… never fear!

Kelly and Jenn’s audio stands on its own. Hannah Krening generously re-played her recital and discussion of Beethoven for me to record, and that turned out fabulously well. (It was a real treat to hear her presentation again!) Paul re-recorded his lectures with the slides.

As for my own lecture on “Cultivating Moral Character”… That went really well at SnowCon, so I’m quite sad not to have a recording it it. I could record it again from the quiet of my office, but then I’d miss out on the audience participation built into the lecture, which definitely added value.

Hence, I’ve decided that I’ll re-record that lecture in a live webcast on the evening of April 13th at 6 pm PT / 7 pm MT / 8 pm CT / 9 pm ET. Here’s its abstract:

In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle speaks of cultivating virtues by repeatedly doing certain actions in certain ways. However, he never clearly explains the relationship between a person’s thoughts, emotions, actions, and character. So, we must ask: What is character? How is a person’s character formed? And what is the role of character in a person’s life? This webcast will draw on Diana Hsieh’s dissertation to answer these criticial practical questions of ethics. The live audience in the text chat will be invited to participate in the discussion, as well as a question period at the end.

This lecture on ethics will be part of the “SnowCon 2011 Webcast” package. To access this lecture — whether to participate in the live webcast, watch the recorded video later, or download the audio recording — you must register for the SnowCon 2011 Webcast. (SnowCon attendees get access to all the audio and video for free.) You can register for the whole webcast — or just part of it. Register before the April 13th webcast for a substantial discount!

(Note: Contributors to my Rationally Selfish Webcast will be able to attend this live webcast and/or watch it later for free. And they can get $10 off the whole SnowCon 2011 Webcast.)

Before the April 13th webcast by Diana Hsieh, the whole package of SnowCon 2011 lectures and workshops costs $50 ($20 for full-time students). Or you can order lectures à la carte for $15 each ($5 each for full-time students). After April 13th, those prices will double.

The full package of lectures and workshops recorded for the SnowCon 2011 Webcast includes:

  • Diana Hsieh: “Cultivating Moral Character” (webcast on April 13th)
  • Paul Hsieh: “Is It Right to Bear Arms?” (audio plus slides)
  • “Activism Panel” with Paul Hsieh and Ari Armstrong
  • Atlas Shrugged Reading Group Workshop” with Diana Hsieh and Jeremy Sheetz
  • Jenn Casey and Kelly Elmore: “Effective Communication: How Objectivists Can Use Positive Discipline Tools in Their Adult Relationships” (audio only)
  • Diana Hsieh: “Live Rationally Selfish Webcast” (video, with the audio freely available via NoodleCast)
  • Santiago Valenzuela: “Conservative Follies on Immigration”
  • Piano Recital and Lecture: Hannah Krening: Malevolence and Benevolence in Beethoven’s Piano Music

Unless otherwise noted, the recordings include streaming video and downloadable audio files. Further information on these lectures and workshops can be found on the web page for the SnowCon 2011 Webcast.

Please register for the SnowCon 2011 Webcast — in whole or in part — using the form below. Once you register, you will be e-mailed the url, login, and password for the recorded lectures and upcoming webcast. You will be sent an invoice for payment shortly after the April 13th webcast.

Again, for more information, visit SnowCon 2011 Webcast.

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