A digital commonplace for a Regular Guy called Charlie Pharis

Month: July 2023 (page 1 of 1)

Random Notes from That Conference, Day One: The Preliminaries…

Georgia World Congress Center main entrance and sign at Twilight with traffic streaks.


I wrote in this space yesterday about my anxiety about attending a large conference for the first time in a long time. Let me give you a little recap of Day One, just to keep both of you loyal readers in the loop.

  • If you know anything about Atlanta, the event venue is Building B of the Georgia World Congress Center. It’s next to Mercedes Benz Stadium, State Farm Arena, and Centennial Olympic Park. I parked at our headquarters building just across Northside Drive from The Benz, and decided to walk across the street to the conference. At 3:30 pm. In mid-July. It was HOT! Did I say it was HOT? Let’s just say I’ve already paid for closer GWCC parking for today.
  • Check-in was a breeze. Lots of nice smiling folks to get you where you needed to go. But $100 to replace a lost ID badge?
  • I thought my team members would be there already, but they (wisely?) decided to wait until closer to the start of the main session to show up, so I wandered around by myself for a bit. (Fine by me…don’t get me wrong!)
  • I meandered down—and down—and down—and down again to the exhibit hall. That part was wall to wall with vendors of all kinds, hawking everything you could imagine—and some things you’d never think of. I didn’t go to every booth or table, but I was disappointed in the swag—or lack of it. Maybe there’ll be more today.
  • Unless you’re absolutely starving to death—and I mean that literally—you might be wise to avoid the “Philly cheesesteak” booth in the exhibit hall. Just sayin’….
  • I met a few of my colleagues—three women, I’d guess late-30s/early 40s—in the lobby, and went with them over to the Once and Former CNN Center while they ate. And while I washed away the afterthought of the “Philly cheesesteak” with sweet tea from Chick-Fil-A. A wide-ranging, but pleasant enough conversation ensued.

Another installment shortly, in which your observant scribbler reports on the actual content of the opening session. Stay tuned…


Into the Crowd…

Today marks the beginning of the first conference/convention/etc. I’ve attended in a long time. I’m a little bit anxious.

It’s not that I don’t like people. I do. I think I have a servant’s heart for people. I do. But as I get older, my tolerance for people’s BS has diminished. I don’t relish the thought of sitting/milling around/interacting with a crowd.

Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. Get ready to send in the rescue team.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023…

It’s taken me almost a month to get used to the pocket sized Moleskine again, but now it just feels right, like the good ol’ days, or something.

Here’s fair warning to all both of you, loyal readers. This post will not be earth-shattering, life-changing stuff. It won’t. It’ll be a couple of random lines, mostly copied from somewhere else to accomplish two things: getting my mind and fingers working, and boosting that word count up to 300 for the day. You’ve been advised, so you can probably go ahead and move on to something more profound and productive.

How Does it Profit the South?

John Slaughter writes over at The Abbeville Institute about how the South as we know it is being homogenized away by encroaching factors mostly beyond our control. Now, I understand there aren’t a lot of folks who love the South out loud (the result of those “encroaching factors”), but I am one. You can save all your blah blah blah about racism and Lost Causes and backward ignorance and all that. That’s not the South I love and it’s not what I’m talking about here. It is true, however, that Aunt Pittypat (from the Book That Shall Not Be Named—and Film That Shall Not Be Named) was quite prophetic: How, indeed?

But back to Mr. Slaughter:

We are already seeing our rich customs, traditions, and values being overshadowed or discarded in the relentless pursuit of profit and conformity. How many statues and headstones now lie in ruins or hidden away in storage lockers because transplants brought forth by the lure of money and employment sought to turn the South into little New England?

The consequences of large corporations dictating our cultural landscape weigh heavily on my mind. In a world driven by mass consumption and fleeting trends, I can’t help but worry that the vibrancy and authenticity of our Southern traditions may be reduced to mere commodities, stripped of their true essence and significance. The introduction of conflicting values from diverse backgrounds further compounds these concerns, as it threatens to dilute the very core of our heritage and erode our collective identity.

Moreover, the rapid expansion of urban centers raises valid concerns about the displacement of longstanding communities. Iconic cities like Atlanta and North Carolina’s Research Triangle now wield significant influence, overshadowing rural areas and threatening the very fabric that has nurtured our customs and shaped our collective memory for generations.

Reflecting on this situation, I find myself drawn to Christ’s words in Mark 8:36, “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Are we willing our identity for GDP and manicured lawns? Is increased tax revenue worth forced cultural amnesia? I for one do not want a South that is indistinguishable from Ohio or Illinois.

Eleven Reasons for Stories

Nicholas Bate reminds us that stories are powerful means of communicating important material. After all, the Great Storyteller and some who followed in His footsteps have been good examples.

Among the eleven reasons Mr. Bate gives for good stories, this one sits in the middle:

Stories use language not just words; it requires an engaged brain to use a story. And the latter is an increasingly rare commodity on a Zoom/Teams call.

Toni Cade Bambara reminded us to take words seriously.

And finally, this morning, Mitch Chase engages Proverbs 15:30 to encourage us to be, well…encouragers!

And would you look at that? That 300 word goal? Well, it almost doubled! Take that, inertia!