I volunteered to chair a session at a conference this summer at the last minute, and got an email from the same guy asking if I wanted to be "local chair" for another conference in 2010. I didn't know what that meant, but it sounded like the previous "chair" responsibility, maybe reviewing abstracts or something, so instead of asking what it was, I said yes.
He wrote back,
"Given your proximity to the area and your interests in the section, we thought you would be ideal for the role of local chair.
Local chair’s responsibility usually includes physically reviewing the local venue (if possible), advertising the conference to the local community including government organizations, universities and private companies, working with the chairs and [professional organization] staff to organizing the local logistical details for the days of the conference and also organizing the social event on the second day of the conference. We hope you will be able to accomplish this by committing not more than a day per month over 12 months preceding the conference.
We will set up a conference call soon to kick off the planning sessions."
Is he joking? No way!
I wrote back right away and said that I had misunderstood the role of local chair, apologized profusely, and would be happy to review abstracts or do something academic for the conference.