Back now and braindead though a combination of travelling miles and miles and not getting very much sleep while at the conference. Most of the carefully chosen papers I went to did not fail to deliver, though when I turned up early, some papers I had to sit through to get to the one I wanted to hear were not always my kind of thing and several were badly timed.
The secular session was interesting and in terms of presentation, irrespective of whether the individual papers were agreeable or not, it could not be faulted for entertainment value. One of my problems was that there was too much agreement, esp. on a topic that we all know there is some extreme disagreement among biblical scholars. One reason for this, I think, was that it was an AAR panel and, with some honourable exceptions, biblical scholars of an opposite persuasion are, obviously, more likely to look at SBL papers than AAR papers. That said there were about 75 people present, a very good size. The debates over all this rumbled on over the meeting as a whole.
Due to a chronic inability to keep looking at the programme, combined with a lack of sleep (I am partly to blame of course but I still don't understand why I wake up so early all the time at these North American conferences) I missed papers I should have gone to. I promised Danny Zacharias that I would go to his paper but I made that promise late just after I beat him at pool (before he moans, he won the first - but it doesn't count as much unless I am stone cold sober). The whole social side - a much underrated part of learning in my experience - certainly had its good moments and some very entertaining and lively debates. The location was not as good as Philadelphia for food and drink (though that will always take some beating for me) but there were some good places a bit out of the way (Salvadorian cafe = good).
It was very good to see some old-ish friends around and sharing the same hates. The Sheffield receptions were, naturally, excellent. I saw countless bloggers walking around. Weirdly there was an unholy social alliance of two secularists and a group of evangelical bloggers. I think we all feel so misunderstood and unloved that together we can cry as one.
And Paul Nikkel comments on the romantically lit room. I should have posted these strange his 'n' hers dressing gowns provided with the room as they really added to the atmosphere.