Thoughts on this year's convention

LAST OCTOBER, FOLLOWING A moment of inspiration, I convinced two of my fellow Latina colleagues to join me in an adventure over the border: attending the Toronto APA Annual Convention. We had all previously attended over the years as students and later as members, but never formally presented. I was determined to cross that last frontier and dragged as many people with me as I could! Little did we know that SARS would scare some and provide a good excuse to others to miss this year's convention.

I have issues with change, though. Once I make up my mind, I rarely adjust it despite a good dose of psychodynamic treatment. We showed up, and after a picturesque tour of the various construction sites at the airport, finally, in the horizon: the CN Tower!

We didn't let a very modest turn out prevent us from giving a full presentation. It was our moment and we savored it. The rest of my stay was full of minilessons. I learned that the name badge helps others decide how they are going to speak to you; that one can be indisposed and still make a contribution if one wants to and make audience members like me happy (thank you Dr. Albert Ellis); that self-hypnosis is excellent for decreasing takeoff, landing and antiterrorism luggage check anxieties (muchas gracias Dr. Philip Zimbardo); and that psychology continues to be one of the most exciting fields that one can be part of--full of useful ways to contribute to the development of resilience in all members of society and to worldwide peace efforts.

I am now looking for a good pair of hiking boots to withstand walking on lava in Hawaii. See you then.

New York, NY

THE TORONTO CONVENTION was great. Local residents were so grateful for our presence. I attended many excellent sessions and renewed old acquaintances. But I remain very frustrated by APA's inability and/or unwillingness to make core changes in the structure of the convention that would enhance the benefits of attending.

Fifty-minute sessions should be mostly eliminated. They are too short for sufficient depth of topic coverage and virtually never allow time for questions. The opportunity to share perspectives between presenters and audience should be a priority at the convention.

Ten minutes between sessions remains insufficient time to cover the often great distance between sessions and results in either people having to leave early or arrive late, while rushing at an unpleasant pace.

I recommend session lengths be changed to 75 and 135 minutes, with 15 minutes between sessions. This would resolve all the above problems.

Although it would also result in fewer presentations, there is an excess of currently "politically correct" topics and current APA political topics. I don't think it would be that difficult to reduce the number of presentations, which would not only make it easier to choose among competing interests but also reduce the number of sparsely attended sessions.

Needham, Mass.