Monday, September 28, 2009

Setup day in Bangkok

The monitor meeting kicked off at 8:00 am and we started the General Session setup at 9:00. Kenny's crew rocked out the setup really quickly and perfectly.
A shame though.... We were basically done with the entire setup by noon, and then had nothing to do but sit around all afternoon which is hard to do when you are sleepy.

Bangkok GS

Tom finally landed after his plane from SFO got turned around because of an unruly passenger or two. He landed late in Tokyo and they put him up in a nice hotel, so, He finally got here around 3:00 or so.
We then went into an unplanned full rehearsal. That seemed to drag on forever! I was really dragging and just wanted to go to my room and call it an early night.
Tom and Steve are leaving today though, and Tom had to get downtown into Bangkok on his only day here, so, after we finished up, we hopped in a cab and went downtown to the Pat Pong night market again.
We hit the Happy Beer Garden and they were happy to see us again. The Indian guy that I bought my watch from the day before strolled by and we made some deals with him for more watches for Tom and Steve.






We then walked through the market... had a great time and bought some more stuff. After the market, we went back to the Happy Beer Garden for one last drink. I had told the girls at the beer garden that it was Steve's birthday (which it really was) and when we went back to the garden the second time they came out with some little cakes and sang happy birthday to him. It was really great! They were very nice to us, and it was a really pleasant experience... plus a lot of laughs... we finished up there and then got a cab back to the hotel.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Where to begin???

I landed at BKK around 6:30 am and it took about 45 minutes to walk through the terminal and get through customs. Even though I sprinted through IAD and barely made my flight, my bag made it and was sitting there in the baggage claim belt.
I went out through the terminal and found the shuttle service to the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport hotel and about 10 minutes later I was checking in.

I found the office where Michael was working, and after chatting with him for a few minutes, we decided to go get breakfast at the hotel Buffet. The breakfast buffets in the hotels I have worked at in Asia have been spectacular. I never eat breakfast in the states, but over here, it is a treat not to be missed! I will try and get a picture later this week.

Our AV vendor Kenny Li was already here at the hotel and after breakfast, we met up and got the gear loaded in, and started to set up the Monitor meeting.
Kenny is such a pleasure to work with. He is such a professional, and totally gets it. Steve arrived around 12:30 and after he got cleaned up, we walked through the ballroom and the monitor room. Everything was golden, so we hopped in a cab and went out to explore.


Steve is only here for 2 days, so, we went right to MBK shopping center and started looking for stuff for his family.
The shopping center at MBK is really like nothing you see in America, and we were just amazed at the enormity of it all.
MBK Shopping center


After we got tired of walking around MBK, which, we only saw about 10 percent of, we hopped in a Tuk Tuk, and the driver took off. After about 20 feet, he got flagged over by a local cop. The cop reached in and took the key out of the ignition, and Steve and I were wondering what was happening. We watched the Tuk Tuk driver pay off the cop and away we went, rocketing through the city risking life and limb but laughing all the way.


The driver dropped us off at the night market, and we got there a little early. So, we went across the street to the Happy Beer Garden, and sat right at the sidewalk, had a cold Singha beer and watched the madness go by in front of us.
Then we went into the night market and started bargaining for watches, Bags, Lighters, and Silk clothing. It was a lot of fun and we did pretty well.

Then it started a torrential downpour and we hot footed it back to the Happy Beer Garden to get out of the rain.

After a while, we went back into the market to do a little more shopping and then hopped back in a cab to get to the Hotel.
It took about 40 minutes in the rain to get back and I dozed off probably about 4 times.
Back at the hotel safe and sound, and asleep about 15 minutes later.

I woke up around 2:00 am and was awake for about an hour. I was able to fall back to sleep and then woke up at 6:00 am or so.
Steve and I had breakfast at the buffet again, and kicked off the monitor meeting..... oh yeah, we are actually here to do some work.
Now, we are setting up the general session room and hope to finish around 5 or so and jump back into the city for another evening of exploration.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The games have begun!

The show ended at about 3:45 pm, and Steve the Technical Director took off in a car to go all the way to JFK in Friday rush hour traffic.
Tom had a 5:45 Flight so, he was going to be taking off soon as well.
Staging Horizons was just getting started when a guy walked into the ballroom and told me that his group was coming into the ballroom to start setting up their event at 5:00 pm for a 7:00 pm start.
I was kind of shocked that the hotel didn’t bother to let us know about a little detail such as this.
I told him that we would do our best to get out as fast as we could, then I let the crew know. Surprisingly enough, they took it in stride and rolled with it. Not that far of a stretch for those guys.. they always have a good attitude. I suppose it is just one of those pleasant surprises.
It was no fun with the added stress of a group waiting in the door way (literally)
However, we rocked the load out and pretty much had it in the truck by 5:30.

The best part of the story from here on is this….. I took the elevator to the second floor, walked down a hallway and was on the skybridge entering Terminal C.

Hotel to Airport commute, 1.4 minutes.

I checked in at the United counter and everything went really well. I was able to get all my boarding passes there, even the Code Share one on Thai Airways.
The line at security was about 8 people, so, all in all, my Philly airport experience was doing quite well.

I got a burger at Burger King… Wolfed that down, and then called my parents and chatted with them for a while. I donated some photos to various things in NY state, one of them being a charity auction, and they excitedly told me that a couple of my images sold in the silent auction. That made me really happy. It is a pretty good boost for your ego when stuff like that goes down.

My plane finally boarded, and the pilot came on the microphone and told us that the weather in Washington DC was about the same as it was in Philly but a bit less wind, and then he said that we were going to leave about 10 minutes early and that would put us into Dulles 10 minutes early.

We taxied away from the gate, and I for some reason hit my stopwatch. I think I did it because, they kept saying that the flight from PHL to IAD was a short 35 mintutes, and I feel like that is misleading. Sure, you may be in the air for 35 minutes, but even the best of flights take at least 10 minutes on each end to taxi to and from the run way.
So, I wanted to see just how long a “35 minute” flight really was.

We stopped somewhere out on the tarmac and waited… and waited…
The pilot came back on and told us that the traffic was all jammed up and that was because all the flights that were landing had to taxi across the outbound runway.
These are things I would just rather not know. I don’t wanna know that someone’s stupidity is really going to mess my plans up.

I pulled out my stopwatch and looked and my 35 minute flight was already at 40 minutes and hadn’t even left the ground.
The pilot shut down the engines (never a good sign) and then walked back through the plane to go and use the bathroom.
This is when I got on the phone to United to see what my flight options were going to be.
When the pilot got back on and told us that we were in line to take off, but that there were 22 planes ahead of us, I was sure I wasn’t going to make my connection in Frankfurt.
Well, to make a long story short…. (yeah right steve) We finally took off about an hour and forty five minutes behind schedule. We landed around 9:10, and by the time we taxied to the gate, it was about 9:20. Then we sat there… nothing worse than being so close, but so far away. The Pilot announced that our gate was occupied so, there was change. I Finally got off the plane at about 9:30 and started running. The problem with running at the airport in DC, is that if you have to switch terminals, you are at the mercy of a shuttle bus that leaves every 5 minutes. I got to the bus just after it left. So, I had to wait. Finally got across the terminal and ran ran ran down to gate C7 I was about 10 minutes from them closing the door, and sweaty, and out of breath I hit the counter and asked…. “ Did I get the upgrade?” I was on the waitlist for a business class upgrade to Frankfurt, but totally expected him to tell me no because I was so late.
He surprised me with a pleasant yes.. and I slid in to the plane just like there was no problems at all. So, this is a story that has ended well so far. I have to change planes in Frankfurt and hopefully that will go smoothly.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Running through Washington Dulles

Yeah.... More to follow, but they are shutting the airplane door.... Needless to say... Out of breath, sweaty, but I made the flight!

Let the Games begin

General session is going well. Boring as all get out, but the tech end is rocking and rolling.
There is a feeling of excitement and anxiety as we get closer to the end of this day. The crew from Staging Horizons is showing up around 4:00 and once the meeting breaks, there will be no stopping them.
I will have to burn a couple of CD's of the audio recording files from the show, pack up my gear and then head to the airport to go to Thailand.
There are a lot of moving parts at the end of this show. Steve will be in a car heading to JFK 15 minutes after we break. Tom and I will be getting all of Rick's gear put together to ship out to the next gig and we have to pack up 50 conference mics and pack them to be shipped as well. The printer rental company is supposed to show up around 4:00 to pick up the rental printers, and the Radio Rental company should be around about the same time.
The pressure will be on to expedite all of this and then catch my flight to DC.
Tom has a 5:45 flight out of here to Dallas, so, I will be last man on deck.
Good times!

Philly Marriot  Salon A

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Setup Day in Philly

Call was at 7:30 am... I showed up with bells on... I was pretty jet lagged. It was 4:30 am my body time.... Staging Horizons showed up at 8:00 and loaded the gear in. Those guys rock! I don't know why it surprises me every time, but they always have great attitudes, attention to detail, and they work very hard and very fast. Our entire General Session room was up and set by 12:00 noon. Thanks guys!

The rest of the day was spent tweaking... putting out little fires here and there, booking travel for the next show in Chicago, and helping out our clients as needs arose.
All in all, it was a good day to be in the corporate theater and we finished it up with a nice little dinner in the hotel bar.
I had a great Seafood Linguine with Shrimp and Scallops. It was just the right size... I am not stuffed and will sleep like a baby tonight.
Tomorrow morning the call is at 7:00 am and thus will start the longest day ever that won't seem like it has an end to it.
Show till 3:30 or so, strike the gear, then fly to Washington DC at 7:30 pm. Then Fly from DC to Frankfurt Germany at 10:00 pm and land there the next day at noon.
3 hours later I fly from Frankfurt Germany to Bangkok Thailand and land there at 6:40 in the morning on Sunday. Only it won't really be Sunday. It will really be 6:40 PM on Saturday. So, 23 hours of travel after a 12 hour work day I will be in Bangkok first thing in the morning and ready to start work again. If I go to sleep when I get there, it will totally destroy any chance I have of existing there and feeling normal in that time zone. So, I have to sleep on the last flight and try to wake up like I just got a good nights sleep. Should be interesting.... Oh.. and all of these flights at this point are in economy.
I am not complaining though, I am very VERY thankful for the work, and totally excited to spend some more time in Bangkok.
I have my camera gear all ready and 28 gigabytes of blank memory cards just waiting to capture some of Thailand.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Post for Mike

I woke up as the sky monkeys were banging closed cabinet doors, yelling at people to put their seat backs up 2.75 inches or we are all gonna die... you know... everything that they do when you are landing.
My next flight was at 1:12. We were supposed to land at 12:18 pm.
When we got low enough to pick up the cell phone network, my phone vibrated and I pulled it out to look at the emails, and noticed that the time said 12:47
The wheels touched down at 12:48 basically meaning that I had 14 minutes to be at my next plane or they would shut the doors and leave without me.

We finally hit the gate and I started running. When I saw the clock hanging from the ceiling, it was 12:54. Of course, We landed at C 18 and my next flight was B 9
As I ran by the departures monitor, I caught a glimpse that my Flight to Philly was leaving out of B18 so, I ran down the escalator ran across the people mover, and then ran to the gate... only to find out that it wasn't at B18 and was at B9.
I missed the flight by about 2-4 minutes... they closed the door and sent that plane a flyin!

So, I am now re-booked on a 4:10 pm flight and after they changed the gate on this one as well.... I am sitting here wondering what I did in a past life that causes me so much grief at the airport.
Oh.. and sitting next to me is a dude talking soooooooooo LOUDLY on his cell phone, you could hear him from C terminal.. or maybe even from Indiana and across from me are two middle aged women that think this seating area is their own personal red hat club and are carrying on with useless chatter about everything and nothing at all.
Verbal Diarrhea I call it.

I also lost my first class upgrade cuz they made me miss my flight... so, I am expecting that once we start circling over Philly, they will announce that they are going divert us to Wichita because of weather.

Heading to Philly

It is just after 5:00 am and I am sitting in the airport in Sacramento waiting to head to Philadelphia. Allen was kind enough to drive me to the airport... I owe him one! Today's flight takes me through Chicago. Last week I went through LAX and met some really great flight attendants. I showed them some of my photography and we had a great time chatting. They were staying at the same hotel as I was, so we met at the hotel bar for drinks and I introduced them to the other guys on the crew and we had a fun time.... a bunch of people that travel for a living sharing an evening. It was really nice.

Today's trip will take me to the Philadelphia Marriot. The Marriot is attached to the airport, so I will never even leave the airport property. It is only a one day show, so it doesn't really matter that I won't get out and about, and the plus side is that after the show ends, I have to catch a flight to DC and then from there, fly to Frankfurt Germany and then on to Bangkok Thailand.

I am excited to go back to Bangkok! The last time I was there was over a year ago in April, and it was hot.... I mean 108 degrees hot with 100 % humidity. It is about 91 degrees there now and I am sure about the same humidity, so, that should be a little bit easier to take. Probably not much, but a little.

In Bangkok we are doing our show at the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport hotel. It is a 4 star hotel, so that should be nice, but it is at the airport which is about 30 minutes outside of the downtown area. That is kind of a drag. Hopefully we will have enough energy to get out and catch a cab to the city after we get done working. it is a two day show there, and the guys I am working with have to jet out to Amsterdam after the first show day to work on another show.
I will be finishing up the show with our Chinese AV guy, Kenny Li. I have worked with Kenny in Beijing, Bangkok, and Shanghai. It will be good to see him again. He is such the professional, and it is comforting to know that when you land in what I will call an "extreme" place such as Bangkok, that you have a support team in place that gets what you are trying to accomplish and is cool as well.

At the end of the show, I am going to stay a couple of extra days and do some sightseeing and shoot a ton of photos I hope.
I will post more from this trip as I go along.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bad Service

We are at an airport hotel here in Philadelphia. I won't mention the name cuz I don't wanna start anything, however...
First of all... exhibit A. This little fella was slowly crawling across the lobby at 7:30 am this morning and was kind enough to pose for a quick iPhone picture.

The Philadelphia Airport Hotel... nice....

I don't think I have any more to say about that....

The load in went smooth... it took us about 3 hours to get our power distro hooked up... the engineer left in the middle of the fiasco to go to a pre-con, we ended up setting up and wiring everything with out power... this is a little unsettling... it makes the setup go faster, cuz you aren't checking everything as you go along. It also means that once everything is wired, if something doesn't work, you are going to have a hard time finding the problem.

So, we finally got power and fortunately most everything was in working order.. we had to troubleshoot some microphones that weren't working. That's when IT guy came in. He was just about useless... we told him we needed two phone lines and two internet lines. He left and you could immediately tell that he was just not good at hospitality, or service. He dropped cables on the stage and left.. we called him back and told him where we needed the phone lines run to. he was not very cooperative. Then later I checked the phone lines, and only one was working. We called him back again, he mumbled something or other.
Then we asked about the internet lines, he asked us if we had run his cables. We told him that we expected him to run the cables. Then he asked if we wanted him to show us were the hotel's router was in case there was any issues.
That was the final straw. I told him "Absolutely not" I told him that we were not interested in being involved in fixing the hotel's internet service. I then asked him for his cell phone number in case there was an issue. He basically refused to give it to me and told me that he would only be around for a couple of hours in the morning, because, "I don't normally work on Saturday" Then he told us that if we had a problem, the banquet captain would be taking care of it. I asked him for the banquet captains number and he held up his phone and said here it is.
At this point, I almost lost it. I told him, that from a service perspective, the least he could do was to right the number down and deliver it to us. He looked at me like I was asking for the crown jewels and then walked away.

We got in touch with the conference service manager, and told her that we expected him to be on property during the meeting tomorrow, however, it is apparent that we might as well have Mickey Mouse fly up from Orlando and run around in his costume. That might be a better solution to our problem.
They best part of this whole sorted mess, is that jocko's tie is a computer geek tie. It is a Nintendo style key pad printed on the tie complete with buttons and a little track pad.

If I was the GM of this hotel, I would just tell that guy to leave, don't bother changing your tie. It is a clear sign that you don't fit into the world of service and hospitality and you should apply for a job at game stop, because your value won't be lost on 15 year old skater boys.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blue Tooth Abuse

I am sitting in the Airport in Sacramento and it is about 5:30 in the morning.
The line for Starbucks is about 18 people deep, which is just downright incredible. There is no problem with the economy if people are still paying Starbucks Prices.

Anyway... About 35 feet away from me, is a woman who is wearing a blue tooth ear piece, and is talking so loudly that it is driving me crazy. I can't imagine if I was standing in line with her. I just might have to turn around and give her a dirty look and tell her to not be so lazy.... hold the phone up to her ear and stop bothering the entire population. It never ceases to amaze me when people don't have a natural volume control. If Billy Mays was still alive, I think I might just pitch him with a knob for the back of peoples heads and if you buy it, you get a free slap chop... but wait there's more...

I must be a bit cranky this morning.. but hey... it is 5:30 am.