Thursday, November 18, 2010

America's Favorite Past Time

The show is in the truck and as Jonny said it in his Facebook post. Peace out Florida!
Yesterday the general session ended at 9:30 am and it was game on. We had about 20 people working to pack up all the equipment plus whatever Mike had on his lighting crew. So, you can imagine the energy in the air as all these people scurried around like a small army.
Once the stage was cleared, the lighting truss came down and the set was unbolted.
It was a pretty fast strike, and just about everything was pretty much in it's case around noon.
We pushed the gear that was ready down to the truck and they started loading it. The 11 breakout rooms were still going and finally they ended, so a crew of guys went on to strike them. Meanwhile our AV sub rental vendors showed up, so we had to rush and get all of their equipment ready to go. When the break out rooms were struck and the equipment started rolling into the ballroom, I started sorting it and putting it back where it belonged. Front of House cables in this case... PCS Microphones in that case...  wait.. where did that EQ case go? ""Will someone go get it off the elevator, it wasn't supposed to go until it was full."
It was good work though. I have no doubt that as the show gets unpacked at the shop in Phoenix, there will be a lot of cables that didn't make it exactly where they were supposed to go.
We finally had sent everything down to the truck that was ready to go, and now we had to wait for the two last rooms to finish. About 6:15 they broke and in about 40 minutes we had struck them and were rolling the equipment to the truck. When we closed the doors on the truck in Phoenix, Eric said that he thought this truck was the most packed truck he had ever sent out. When we loaded it this time, we disassembled some scaffolding and tightened it up even more. This was because we wanted to get 22 more cases on the truck. All of the projectors that were rented out of Houston had been shipped out to Orlando at a big expense. So, if we could pack the truck tighter and get the Projectors on the tail, Jonny could stop in Houston and save some money. It was very difficult to figure out how to put the last pieces of this puzzle together. It was like we had 10 feet of truck left, and 12 feet of equipment to put in there.
We finally got it to all fit, and closed the doors to the truck.
A few of us staggered over to Blue Zoo to meet a few of the guys for a drink, and that was nice, but all of a sudden my body said "Stop sitting here and get some food and then go directly to bed" Fortunately I had the common sense to listen to it. Evan, Allen, Jonny and I went over to "The Fountain" restaurant, and I got a bowl of chicken noodle soup. While I hadn't really eaten much all day, I was so tired, I just didn't feel like I could eat much of anything. The soup was good, and at the end of that, I went back over to Blue Zoo to say goodbye to the guys.
I went back to my room and packed, and then fell into bed exhausted around 11:00 pm. I set my alarm for 4:00 am and then called the front desk for two wake up calls.
This morning, Jay, Eric, Allen and I shared a van ride to the airport and got on a plane headed for Phoenix. I feel right asleep once I got on the plane, and have no recollection of us pulling away from the gate or taking off. I woke up about two hours into the flight.... Flying coach is no fun. US Airways isn't horrible, but when I fly United, most of the time I get the upgrade to First Class. Even when I don't get the upgrade, there is Economy Plus Seating which gives you an extra 5 inches of leg room and it just doesn't feel so crowded.
On the positive side, US Airways has Wifi available on the plane. I am currently writing this little story at 35,000 feet or somewhere way up here.
In a few hours, Allen and I land in Phoenix. We will relax at Eric and Audra's today and tomorrow hop in the Jeep and drive back to Folsom. It has been a solid month since either of us have been home, and I am really looking forward to being able to get home.

There was really something special about this show. First of all, I have to say thank you to Rick for having me on it. We basically just rocked out the AV for America's Favorite Past time.  It is pretty cool when you get the chance to be involved in something as big and as cool as this is.
Rick has over time put together a very cool team of people. When we first see each other, we greet each other with big hugs and it is always really good to see each other. Not many people would say in their lives that they were really excited to see their coworkers. Even our clients comment on this. Our MLB client mentioned that she thought it was pretty cool that we all hugged each other.
I also want to say a special thank you to Eric for bringing Allen and I down to Phoenix and giving us a months worth of work, putting us up at his house and feeding us Chili Cheese Coney hot dogs with  Jalapeno peppers at 9:00 am in the morning for breakfast. It has been a great month full of laughs and hard honest work. Lastly, thank you to Audra Gilbert. Eric's wife Audra is amazing. She takes amazing care of us throughout all of this madness. Home cooked meals, rides to the airport... Rides from the airport. Audra is a wonderful host and she and Eric have become close friends.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Major League Work

I am working on a show in Orlando for Major League Baseball. While it is a nice change from all the Pharma work that I normally do, it is a massive show and that means a massive amount of work.
For the last three weeks, I have been working in Phoenix at my friend Eric's shop prepping gear, doing little shows here and there in the Phoenix area, and getting the shop ready to make this show happen. About 1400 feet of 1' x 2' steel was purchased in 20' and 24' lengths, and three of us made an assembly line. I measured and cut the steel, Jonny welded it into frames that were 10' x 4' and 8' x 4' with 2' blocks in the center. Once they were cut and welded, Allen ground all the welds smooth. 
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Then we had to drill holes in strategic places to connect the pieces to each other, and build carts for all of it to ride in. Once all of that was done, which took about 3 straight days, we had to build a podium to match and a table.
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We set up some lighting truss out in the parking lot and flew a couple of test pieces of the set to make sure that it was all going to work.
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 All of the steel went to a powder coating company, and a couple of days later, we picked it up and continued to to build on the set. We had to rip pieces of wood into 1" wide strips and attach them all around each set piece and inside the podium. In the midst of all of this construction, emails are flying through cyberspace changing the big picture plan all around us. Equipment was being purchased. Gear was being rented like mad. Eric, Jonny, Allen and I were pulling the show, labeling equipment, packing stuff in cases, and getting all of this madness ready to be loaded onto a 53' semi truck. While Allen and I were building stuff at one of the shops, about 200 feet away, Eric and Jonny loaded the tractor trailer. The load was packed floor to ceiling, front to back, and there really wasn't a bit of room left in the truck when we closed the doors. 2010-11-15 03:22:42 GMT
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We had a nice BBQ at Eric and Audra's house with some good friends, and then Jonny left around 5:00 am in the truck and drove for the next 4 days across the country to Orlando. Allen, Eric and I all flew to Florida, and on Friday morning, at 7:00 am, the truck doors were opened and the set was rolled into the ballroom and assembly was started. we worked for about 2 hours on the set and got a good jump on getting it together when the rest of the crew arrived, and we all started to unload the rest of the truck. This seemed like it took forever and was a tremendous amount of work because there was so much equipment in the truck. The push from the truck to the elevator and from the elevator to the ballroom was pretty long, so everyone was pretty tired by the time everything was offloaded.
We divided into teams and everyone worked very hard putting all of the pieces of this huge show together. We had about 40 people working like ants moving equipment around and unpacking cases. It is always exciting to see how a truckload of boxes comes to life and through the talent of many diverse technicians, it grows into something so large, you would never believe that it came out of road cases.
Through out the day, the lighting, audio, video all flew up in the air on lighting trusses, as well as our creation, the set.
Once, the entire set was hung from the lighting truss, long sheets of vinyl were stapled to the frames and stretched tight.
When it all finally was put together, and lights were focused, video projectors were aligned, the set came alive.
MLB1 lr

Photo: Courtesy of Mike Steighner

While it would seem like that is entirely enough work for anyone to do, the main ballroom is only a portion of this project.
The following day we started on the break out rooms. We have 11 rooms with full audio, and video systems that have to be put together. We spent the entire day scurrying around with a ton of gear and about 16 people setting up these 11 rooms.
The setup day we worked about 13 hours, day 2 was about the same, and today we finished up the breakout rooms and had rehearsals going all day and most of the evening. Today was about 13 hours as well. Evan and I ran around the entire day from room to room and floor to floor troubleshooting problems, delivering cables and equipment to technicians and fielding questions from clients. I am pretty exhausted and tomorrow will start the first official day of meetings for this show.
It is a great feeling to work with a world class crew and be able to be a part of something so enormous.

More to come......

Monday, September 20, 2010

Scottsdale, AZ

The alarm went off and it was very difficult to get out of bed. I finally did and finished packing, hopped in the car with Allen and back to the airport. No problems with my flights and Eric picked us up at the airport. We went to the hotel in Scottsdale and picked up Larry and went to a great place and had a fabulous dinner with Eric and Audra.
On Sunday morning, we loaded into the ballroom around 9:00 am and pretty much set the ballroom and breakout rooms by around 3:00 pm. It was great working with the crew and everything went very smoothly. It helps when you have good people and good gear.
Celgene 1

A drink and an appetizer with Larry, Dan Kathy and Allen at the hotel bar, and I went back to the room to get a good nights rest.
This morning, Allen and I got up and drove off property for an Egg McMuffin and then back for a 9:00 am start. All morning we have had very low key rehearsals and everyone seems happy with the support we are giving them.
We will have a quick lunch soon and then back to the ballroom for a 2:00 pm start.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Prague and then Home

Austin and I landed in Prague and there were a couple of drivers there to pick us up.
I got to the hotel and Rick was standing there in the lobby waiting for me. It was great to see him. I checked in and dumped my luggage in the room and joined Rick, Miles, Priti and Elaine for breakfast. Evan and Tom had gotten delayed coming out of Moscow and missed their flights in London. After we got done eating, I went up to the meeting room and joined Andrea and Stephan who were already starting to setup the equipment. After working for most of the afternoon I was about 90% done and at a stand-still till the room was finished being set by the hotel. I was really dragging by then, and decided to go and take a nap so that I could have some energy for dinner.
When I came back down to the room a couple of hours later, Evan was there and was already half finished with the work that I had left to do. That was a nice surprise. We finished up and met down in the hotel bar for a drink before dinner. I could see that no one was in a real rush to go eat, and finally Rick, Tom and I bailed from the group to go get some food. 
We walked to the historic square which was pretty close to the hotel. Tom hadn't been to Prague before but has traveled extensively and I am sure he was tired of Rick and I telling him how cool everything was. We strolled around and found a little Czech place to eat and had a nice quiet dinner. Afterwards, we walked over to the Charles Bridge and walked across to take in the views. It was really nice and not crowded at all. I was feeling great because of my little afternoon nap, but didn't want to push it, so we went back to the hotel and I got a good nights rest. 

Call was at 7:00 am and the show started at 8:30 am. It was a short day and ended around 12:30. we grabbed some lunch and then went to help Andrea and Stephan strike the gear and load it into the truck. By this time, we were all pretty tired and after a farewell drink with Andrea, I went back to my room for another nap. 
It was really hard to get up from this nap, but I did, and we all met in the lobby to head to dinner at our favorite restaurant in Prague called "Cartouche"
It is a medieval restaurant in the basement of an old building and there are rough cut timber tables, brick walls, a huge wood fired oven where your food gets cooked, and about 80 percent of the restaurant is lit by candle light. They keep replacing the candles and never disturb the wax, so there is this beautiful mound of wax that has dripped off each candle placement. It is such a great restaurant and the food is outstanding. We all got huge platters of meat for entrees. Rick and I shared the medieval meet platter and ate until we were sick. At the end of the meal, I had this amazing desert of cheesecake and vanilla ice cream over warm strawberries with hardened caramel on top. It was just ridiculously good, and at the end of the meal we had a great conversation about a plan to replace some equipment that we needed.

We walked around the square and did a little shopping while Evan and Tom snapped some photos. I had decided that I needed to be back at the hotel by 11:00 pm because I had a very early departure from the hotel in the morning. We all met back at the hotel for a drink and I got to say goodbye to Miles and Priti as well as the rest of the boys. I went up to my room about midnight and packed my luggage. I had developed a pretty painful headache in the last 15 minute and was glad to be able to get into bed.

The alarm went off at 3:15 am and I was pretty confused as to what that annoying sound was. At the same time the phone started ringing and I got up to try and make it all stop. Then the clouds started lifting and I realized what was happening, shut the phone off.. took the wake up call, and then got ready to go. My driver was waiting for me and gave me a quick trip to the airport. At 4:00 in the morning, it only took about 15 minutes to get there, and I checked in and got a quick bite to eat. 

The flight to Frankfurt was pretty quick… it only took an hour and fifteen minutes or so, and then I had about a 5 hour lay over. I went to the Lufthansa club, and got a couple of free cokes, and then wandered the terminal a bit. I plopped down somewhere and watched the movie Avatar to kill some time. Just before I boarded the flight from Frankfurt to Washington DC, I went and got a little Pizza and wolfed it down. The food on the plane wasn't going to be that good, and I figured if I could just get on board and get to sleep, it would be the best thing I could do.

I was successful and woke up with only about an hour left on the flight, and I felt pretty refreshed. When I got off the plane and went towards Customs and Immigration, it was really crowded and as I turned the corner, I could see I was towards the back of the line behind what was about 1000 people. The Customs staff were doing a very poor job of getting people where they needed to go and kept saying that the line was moving pretty quickly. They only had six Immigration officers in the booths and long story short… it took almost 2 hours to get through. I had plenty of time though, so it was nice to not have to stress. My flight to Sacramento left on time, and I landed, got my bags took the shuttle to the economy parking lot and got home around 11:30 pm. 28 hours and 41 minutes since I left the hotel in Prague, I threw my clothes from this trip in the laundry and went to bed because I have a 2:00 pm flight tomorrow to Phoenix for another show. And this is Life In The Corporate Theater.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The show in Moscow

The good news was the group that was in our room finished early so we got access to the room at about 5:00 pm. Evan called Maria our AV contact and she told us that the crew was not going to be able to get there before 7:00 pm. We asked her if we could start setting up without them, and we were told no.
In the mean time, one of the Doctors who was supposed to be the trainer for the meeting first thing in the morning, called in to inform everyone that the Airport in Tel Aviv had gone on strike, and that he wasn't sure if he was going to be able to get on a flight. So, we had to work out a solution using Skype to video conference him in and still get his presentation to the attendees.
We went to a computer store and picked up some speakers and a web cam and did a test with skype. It all worked just fine. Even though we were struggling with the AV Equipment side of things, the one thing that was really good in Moscow was the bandwith at the hotel. There was 15MB Download and 17 MB Upload. So it was a really fast connection and skype looked great!

We waited around till 7:00 pm and checked in with Maria. The crew was stuck in traffic. Big surprise....
8:00 pm rolled around and no sign of the crew. Evan told Maria, we were going to start setting up without them, and to please get the hotel to unlock the room with the equipment.
She agreed, and about 30 minutes later, we finally started getting some equipment.
Just after 9:00 pm, over two hours late, the crew started showing up. The setup went pretty well though. All of the changes that we had asked for had been made, and we ended up with close to the right tools to do the job. We finished about 11:00 pm and said good night to the crew.

The next morning, everything went well... the show started at 1:00 pm and finished about 45 minutes early.
I went back to my room and took a 30 minute nap. It was really hard to get out of bed to meet the guys for a little photo excursion, but how often are you in Moscow Russia right?

We walked down to Red Square and started getting ready to shoot some photos. I immediately got stopped by the Russian Police for using a tripod in Red Square. Apparently you have to have a permit to use a tripod there. So we walked on and shot out of our hands.

Tripod Police

After about 45 minutes of shooting and walking down to the river past the Kremlin, we were all starving and went back to a cafe in Red Square.
After we got a bite to eat, it was dark and as we walked through Red Square, there was a guy shooting photos with a tripod, so we decided to take a chance and get a shot.
I walked out to the middle of the square and extended the legs of my tripod, put the camera up on it and was just about to take my first shot, when I heard vehicles reving up and turned around to see the cops...two of them in two different police cars racing in my direction from each side of the square.
I quickly and as discreetly as I could, popped the camera off the tripod and started heading for the exit, doing my best to make it look like I was just holding the tripod and not using it to shoot photos.
Evan had rushed over and we both thought it best to double time it into the crowd and try to get lost. The cops drove past us and went over and started yelling at the other guy we had seen with his tripod.
My heart was racing a bit, and I think I dodged a bullet.
moscow 5
Evan and I jumped in a cab and went back to TGI Fridays for a drink, and then an early bedtime because we all had early car service to the airport.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Let the Games Begin

I met Austin in the lobby and we took off for a bite to eat and to explore a little. I hadn't eaten anything since dinner on the plane the night before which wasn't that good, so the first restaurant we stumbled upon was TGI Fridays and we both agreed that a cultural experience was not as important as ensuring a solid meal that would help get us refreshed. Lunch was good and we wandered down to Red Square absorbing the culture and shooting some photos. I didn't shoot too much and haven't had time to process what I did shoot.
Russian Billboard
 As we came into Red Square, the view of the Cathedral was blocked by a huge grandstand that was being torn down and I was very disappointed. I am hoping that it will all be taken down by tomorrow evening and I can get a clear shot of Red Square with the cathedral in it. Here is a shot of me in front of the Cathedral though.
Steve in Red Square
Moscow 1
Austin and I were started to get weary so we stopped at a cafe on the Square and ordered a Spaten.
We hung out there for a an hour or so and then Miles, Priti and Elaine joined us. Eventually, we headed back to the hotel and Elaine and Austin both broke away from us. We stopped back at TGI Fridays for a drink and to see if the football game was on. They didn't get any stations that showed American football, but we hung out anyway and waited for Tom and Evan to arrive. Once they got there, we stayed until the place closed and I finally got back to the hotel at about 1:00 am.
I am pretty shocked that I didn't pass out before then, considering that it had been about 36 hours since I left my house in Folsom and only got about 2 hours of sleep on the plane. I slept like a baby, and woke up around 7:00 am. The bed here at the Marriott is great and it was really hard to consider leaving it.

Evan and I met out AV Vendor, Maria in the lobby and talked about the upcoming workday. We were supposed to start our setup at 9:00 am.  Maria told us that the truck was stuck in traffic and that it was going to be 10 minutes late. In Russia, 10 minutes means a half hour or greater. A couple of things you learn working over here are: Everything is going to be late... Something is going to be wrong and no amount of preparation is going to change that... and lastly.... it is what it is... you can get all worked up about something but most likely, the only thing that getting worked up is going to affect, is your mental health.
So, The truck was later than we were expecting.... We have all day to setup and the meeting doesn't start until 8:30 am tomorrow. Not a big deal.
Maria got a phone call that the gear had showed up, and we went up to the ballroom to get things started.
When we got there, we found that the room was not even close to set up, and that one of the airwalls was still closed. Our setup is supposed to be round tables for 80 people and the room was set up classroom style. Evan went to a meeting with the hotel to ask them to get the room setup as soon as possible, and about 15 minutes later, he came back in and told us that we were screwed. The reason that the room is set the way it is, is for an event that runs until 7:00 pm tonight, and there is no changing that.
We immediately decided to have the AV Vendor show us all of the equipment so that we wouldn't have any surprises as 7:00 pm.

To start off, we requested a 16 channel mixer, with a minimum of 10 XLR inputs. They provided a 12 channel mixer with 8 XLR Inputs. We requested a minimum of 4 channels of graphic equalizers, and they provided 1 channel. We asked about the wireless microphones, and fortunately, the 5 microphones we requested were there, all thrown kinda loosely in a case. They informed us that they had  "Madonna" mics and we asked if they had regular Lavalier mics. They said they did, but that the "Madonna" mics worked much better. We told them that we understood that, but that the presenters would never wear a Madonna style headset mic. It turns out that the Lav mics are omni directional, and I am going to have to struggle against feed back for sure.
Next they showed us the video switcher, and while it was a lot closer to being right than the DJ Mixer that they gave us in St Petersburg, it was only a two channel input switcher and we need four channels.
We asked about cables for everything and while they may have brought enough for what they thought we would need, it was clear that they underestimated what we really needed and we had to make a quick inventory on paper of what we wanted.

I decided that while they were shaking their heads yes, and telling us that they would get us the equipment that we wanted, I wanted to make sure that there was no room for interpretation. I grabbed a pen and a pad and drew a diagram of the entire sound system and labeled everything so that everyone was clear. Tom drew a diagram of the video system and I went over both drawings with the vendor.
By the way.... most of the technicians don't speak any english and the ones that do are pretty limited. You have to keep this in mind because, while they will shake their head and acknowledge that they understand what you are saying, they may not be getting it at all.

We went over all the elements of the show and I think we are about 90% confident that they now understand what we want. We are about 40% confident that they will provide it, but we are 100% confident that we can piece together a show and keep our client happy. The only thing left is that we asked many times if they had drape to setup in between the screens so we could put some lights on it and make it look good. Each time we were told that it was difficult to find, and they had to get it from St Petersburg. Before we sent the crew off until 7:00 pm Evan and I decided that we should see the drape and also see the support system that they were planning on using to hang it.
It was only then that we found out that all they were intending on providing were drape skirts for underneath each screen. We were trying to explain that while we wanted the screen skirts, we also wanted thirty feet of pipe and drape for in between the screens. This resulted in a lot of back and forth in Russian and you could tell this was going to be a problem. Maria finally told us that they were making calls and trying to locate the drape. With that, Evan asked her to interpret for him to the crew and he was very gracious. He told them that he was sorry for the confusion, and thanked them for being willing to work with us to accomplish this show. For the record, Rick sent them pretty clear specifications about what we needed, however it was a good move on Evan's part, because none of these guys were involved with the planning process and we need them to be on our side. After Evan finished, one of the techs said something back to Maria in Russian, and she interpreted it for us. His statement was simply, "It happens" and everyone chuckled a little. It was a sign that at least everyone there understood that this is all part of the business and this is what we are all here for.

I am now going to take a nap, and then grab a bite to eat before we start our setup 10 hours later than we were supposed to. The only scary thing is that we don't know if they are going to be able to get us all the gear, and that if something is really messed up, there probably won't be enough time to do anything about it. Other than that... everything is just great!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Touch down in Moscow

About 17 hours later I am checked into my hotel room in Moscow. United Business Class was lovely. I didn't sleep that much buy having a fully reclining seat made a huge difference. I went through passport control and they stamped my passport without ever saying a word to me. That is the perfect situation if you ask me. I retrieved my suitcase from baggage claim and went through customs. They made me put all my bags through the X-ray machine and the customs dude kept talking at me in Russian. He went over to my luggage after it went through and said a couple of things and then realizing I had no idea what he was talking about, he finally just looked at me and said... "Ok" and I was on my way.

The airport reception area was packed and I was looking for someone holding a sign that said Johnson and Johnson. I found to young people with the sign, and introduced myself to Igor and Nadia. We waited for about 20 minutes for one other person who was supposedly on my flight. Austin our Audience Response Technician showed up and it turns out he was on the same flight as I was. I have never met him so we exchanged introductions and followed Igor and Nadia to a tiny little Nissan car. After we jammed our luggage into the car and squeezed in, we were off for about an hour ride to the center of Moscow where our hotel is. 

We passed the Kremlin, which was cool to see. It is about a mile away, and then got dumped off at our hotel. 
All in all, it was about as painless an experience as you could hope for. The hotel is very nice, and a hot shower was quote possibly the best thing in the world. In about 45 minutes or so Austin and I are going to meet in the lobby and wander a bit looking for something to eat.

It was nice to have a direct flight from Washington DC to Moscow. Evan and Tom are flying through London Heathrow and won't be arriving till about 8:30 pm tonight. 
Thats all for now.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Heading to Moscow

I am embarking on a whirlwind set of shows today. The first stop is Moscow, Russia. Evan, Tom, Austin and I make up the crew for the show, and we will be joined by Miles, Priti, and Elaine.
The Russian AV Vendor hasn't given us any level of confidence as of yet, so we all board our planes today with a bit of a feeling of impending doom. I will arrive Sunday morning and we start setting up on Monday for a show on Tuesday. I will fly out Wednesday morning and meet Rick in my favorite city, Prague.
We will set up the show on Wednesday and run it on Thursday. I will fly home on Friday and land around 11:00 pm. Saturday morning I will head back to the airport and fly to Phoenix for another show. I am looking forward to being completely wrecked by then, and am just hoping that I don't get sick! On a brighter note... Even though the budgets were tight, I was able to use two system wide upgrades to fly first class and business class for all but one of my flights on this trip. This will make a huge difference in my ability to land in Russia not feeling totally wrecked. Thank goodness for airline status!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Airport Rd,Sacramento,United States

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

4400 miles

I got up in Santa Rosa after a pretty good nights rest and was on the road by about 8:00 am.
I filled up with Diesel right away at the Loves truck stop in Santa Rosa and really didn't make any stops until I got to Gallup, NM. I don't know what people do when they live in Gallup, cuz it is out in the middle of no where, but they have a lot of restaurants there, and I stopped at Sizzler for lunch mostly cuz they have a huge salad bar and I really couldn't bear to eat another sandwich out of a paper wrapper.
Lunch was good... I was careful not to over eat... too much. I was back on the road and heading towards Phoenix. The short term goal for the day is Flagstaff. Once you get to Flagstaff, you get to make the first turn on to a different highway in about 8 days. I was happy when I turned onto I-17 south and new I was only about 2 hours away. In the distance I could see some big storm clouds and huge bolts of lightning were flying out of them and striking the earth. I couldn't tell if the storm was before or after Phoenix, but I was hoping that I wasn't going to have to drive through it. About 30 minutes outside of Phoenix, I drove through about ten minutes of torrential rain. It was no fun, but it didn't last too long.
I arrived at Eric's shop around 4:00 pm and unloaded the van, my trip was over.

Santa Rosa to Peoria

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to Santa Rosa

I left Van Buren this morning at about 8:30, stopped for diesel and then mashed the pedal to the floor.
Today was pretty uneventful though and I drove through the rest of Arkansas, Oklahoa, Texas, and then into New Mexico. I booked a room at the Hampton Inn in Santa Rosa, NM and got here about 5:30 pm.
I have to say.. I am sooooo tired of McDonalds, Wendys, Subway, Taco Bell, and pretty much every food place that you find at the highway exits.

Van Buren to Santa Rosa

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A long day on the road

I left Morganton, NC about 8:00 am and started heading West. I took a quick stop off the freeway at Gatlinburg Tennesee. There is a huge store called the Smoky Mountain Knife Works. I spent about 45 minutes wandering around there. They have thousands and thousands of knives for sale. There is every model from just about every manufacturer. It is pretty cool, and I picked up a couple of cool things there.
I got back on the highway and was making good time. I only stopped for fuel the rest of the day and landed in Memphis around 5:00 pm. I had planned on stopping for the night in Memphis, but decided to push on to Little Rock, Arkansas. 
When I got to Little Rock, I figured I would drive across the city and find a hotel on the other side so I wouldn't have to deal with any kind of Monday morning rush hour. I passed the Hampton Inn that I stayed at last time, but decided to keep going because it is a little bit in "The Hood"... I think Little Rock is mostly in "The Hood" 

Once I passed through Little Rock it was just after 7:00 pm and I punched in "Van Buren, Arkansas" to see how far it was. It turned out that it was just another two hours away, and I was feeling pretty good, so I kept the gas pedal down and rolled in to Van Buren around 9:30 pm.
Today's Mileage....  836 miles.  It was a long day, but I pushed a little and with the time I put in yesterday after the show ended and a little extra today, I have been able to cut a full day of driving off the trip.

Morganton to Van Buren

Saturday, August 21, 2010

And out the door I went!

The show went well.. a little hectic, but all's well that ends well.
We hired a local guy to help us with the setup and strike. Local was actually about two and a half hours away. Just before the show ended I got a call from him saying that the car had broken down, and he was 40 minutes from Cary. The show wasn't that big, so it wasn't the end of the world, but Townsend's flight was at 4:50 and it was 3:00 pm when the show ended. Townsend and I struck most of the equipment in record time, and he helped me get the biggest, heaviest case into the van, and then he got out of there at about 4:20. The airport is only about 10 minutes away from the hotel, so fortunately, he made his flight and I was appreciative that he helped as much as he did!
I then had to haul all the gear down the service hallway, around the corner and into the elevator. Then on the ground floor, around another corner and down a hallway out onto the loading dock.
It is Saturday so, thankfully, the loading dock was pretty dead, and I was able to leave the van parked in one of the bays.
I got everything loaded and then saw that my front tire was pretty flat. It was about 5:15 or so and I had to take care of it before I got rolling.
I found a gas station and put air in the tires and started heading west. I drove for about 3 hours and landed in Morganton, NC, where there just happens to be a Hampton Inn!

I have to look at the map now and plot my course for tomorrow's drive. Oh.. wait... It is I-40 West.. for the next 4 days.

Night everyone

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Trip

I got up and about on Wednesday morning and went to a 24 hour Fed Ex office joint. I was able to print, fill out and overnight more Russian Visa paperwork and then I continued to head East on I-40.
A couple hours later, I stopped in Dandridge, TN to have lunch with my friend Dan.
We had a really great time hanging out and then both of us had to get back to work. My work was driving to Winston Salem, NC.
I landed in Winston Salem, and checked into.... you guessed it... another Hampton Inn. I went to the Village Tavern for dinner, and got a good nights sleep.

This morning I got up around 5:00 am and was on the road by 5:30. I drove the last hour and a half and landed at Raleigh Durham International Airport... Well.. actually at the Waffle House by RDI and waited for Townsend to land on his flight from Jersey.
He was about 20 minutes early which was good and I picked him up and we went to the hotel.

After a quick load-in of a few pieces of the gear, we set up the office and slide review room, made the client happy and then drove out to starbucks for some breakfast.
After breakfast I went to my room and pretty much fell asleep until 12:30 pm which was a nice, unexpected treat!
We went for lunch with the client, who is super cool and after some chicken fried chicken at Cracker Barrel we went back and loaded in the rest of the gear and set up the show.

At 6:30 PM or so Townsend and I went to a sports bar called Woody's that one of my friends had recommended last time we were here, and had some chicken wings and a beer.

Tomorrow's call is 6:30 am and when the show ends at 3:00 pm we will pack it up and as hard as I am finding it to believe, I will be heading West on my way back to Phoenix. Only 2200 miles to go!

The Trip

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 3

Van Buren to Nashville
The alarm went off at 6:00 am and I was really lazy.... I snoozed till 7:00 am and finally got on the road about 7:45.
The driving was going without incident, and I stopped for a bite to eat once I got through Memphis. I almost stopped in downtown Memphis for lunch, because I had gone to a place once that had a 4 pound cheeseburger. Then I realized I was not going to actually order the 4 pound cheeseburger, so I didn't waste time going into downtown Memphis and just continued on.
I was going to land in Nashville around 4:30 pm and was looking forward to a nice dinner and also the ability to find a FedEx office that was open so I could send off some paperwork that I need to mail for my Visa Application for Russia.
About 75 miles West of Nashville, I started hearing chatter on the CB radio about an accident up ahead. The truckers were saying that we should get off the exit before the accident and detour around it. I popped open the computer to bring up Google Maps and just as I was about to type in "Nashville" to search for a detour route.... the last exit zoomed by and then about 2 miles later I was sitting at the tail end of a couple of miles of traffic that wasn't moving anywhere.
Fortunately, I had a pretty full tank of diesel though so at least I could have air conditioning.
I popped onto the Tennessee Department of Transportation website and found the map that showed the traffic incident report and was dismayed to find out that they estimated that the road would be cleared by 6:00 pm!
I put the van in park and spent some time working on an image I shot in New Mexico. After that I chatted with some friends online and talked my Dad through a Windows XP problem he was having on his computer. Then I finally watched a movie for about an hour or so.

Finally the traffic cleared up and started moving. I really REALLY hate it when you sit and wait for an accident to get cleared up so you can get by, and by the time you get to the scene, everything is gone except for the skid marks and broken guardrails. It is just downright annoying. If I have to sit on the highway for two hours, I want to see some destruction!

I finally rolled into Nashville right at the tail end of rush hour and when I got to the hotel it was about 6:30 pm I got some dinner at Ruby Tuesday's and then crawled into bed.

Here is the image that I was working on from Monday afternoon in New Mexico.
New Mexico Sky

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Santa Rosa, NM to Van Buren, AR

Well this blog will most likely be about as boring as my drive was today....
No problems with the van, and considering it is all on I-40 heading east, there is not much chance of getting lost.

I left Santa Rosa this morning at 7:00 am and drove all day pretty much non stop.
Rolled into Van Buren around 6:00 pm with a time change to the central time zone.
613 Miles today
1189 Miles so far
Peoria to Van Buren

I am sitting in Frank's Italian Restaurant, waiting for a Chicken Parm dinner.
Tomorrow's trip should take me into Nashville.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, August 16, 2010

On the Road

On Saturday the 14th of August, I flew to Phoenix and had a great weekend of hanging out with Audra and Eric. On Sunday Eric and I went to the FOH Productions shop and pulled the equipment for a little show in North Carolina. We loaded it in a sprinter van and first thing this morning, around 7:00 am, I set off on a 2200 mile drive to Cary, NC. The drive today went fine. I had a little rain in West New Mexico, and pulled into Santa Rosa, New Mexico around 6:00 pm.

PHX to Santa Rosa

I checked into the Hampton Inn which is on Historic Route 66, and then went to a little place down the street called the Route 66 Restaurant. While I am sure there are probably a million eating establishments on Route 66 with the exact same name, it was still a cool looking place.

2010-08-16 19:18:51 -0600

That was about the extent of it's coolness though. The food was pretty bad, and the service was worse. Last time I ate in Santa Rosa, it was at Dennys which is right next door to the Hampton Inn. Although very convenient, The food was awful there as well. It was so bad in fact that the chicken I ordered was not fully cooked and I sent it back. By that evening, I was completely wrecked with food poisoning and for about 2 days, I was in the bathroom every 15 minutes.
So, while Santa Rosa is a convenient place to stop driving for the day... The food so far is pretty terrible!

Tomorrow, I will drive through Texas and Oklahoma, and call it a night in Van Buren Arkansas. There is a cool little Italian place next to the Hampton Inn there and I am looking forward to a decent dinner!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

San Francisco

I got a call on Monday from one of my clients to see if I was available this week to head to San Francisco to be a technician in a breakout room at an Advisory Board for a Pharma company.
I was happy to be able to say yes after a gig in Buenos Aries was cancelled.
The gig was Thursday and Friday, however as the call time on Thursday was 7:00 am I decided to get a hotel room on Wednesday night so I wouldn't have to get up at 3:00 am and drive through morning traffic.
I got a good deal at the Four Points Sheraton and cruised in with no problems. I stopped at the Golden Gate bridge for a quick photo, and I mean really quick. It was so cold and windy, that I didn't spend more than 15 minutes there.

The Golden Gate Bridge
I met Bill and Tony at their hotel at 6:45 and we walked across the street to the office building where the meeting is being held.
Tony and I set the break out rooms up and we were done by about 7:45am.
Now I will basically sit around and wait till they go to the breakouts at 2:45 pm today. It is going to be a long long day of sitting around with nothing to do.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Denver Wrap Up

We finished the awards dinner, and some of the guys showed up to help take it down.
I think I only expected one or two guys, but there ended up being seven of us in total.
It was about 10:15 pm when we started and in walked Mike Steighner walked in wearing a cowboy hat that the client gave out.
He said he was packing up his hotel room and just wanted to come down and hang out with us.
Jay and I struck the audio while Eric, and Jon worked on the lighting. David and Frank worked on the scenic, and Rick and Mike helped out with pretty much every thing.

So, the eight of us loaded everything into the truck and finished just after 11:30 pm. We all met on the 27th floor of the hotel in the peak's lounge for a final drink together. It was low key because we were all pretty tired. We all said goodbye and the following morning everyone flew to their homes.

It was such a great show and the client thanked us all telling us that the show was flawless. It was so nice to be part of a great crew, and amazing boss, and a wonderful client, not to mention great friends.

Here are just a few photos I grabbed that night.

2010-07-29 18:27:59 -0600

This is Mike and Frank... Two truly amazing guys.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Winding it all down in Denver

The General Session ended and the local crew arrived, and started ripping the beautiful room apart.
It never fails to amazing me how quickly the room gets taken apart.

Here is a shot of the room during the session, and then another shot exactly one hour after the crew started working.
Aegis GS 2

one hour later

Exactly one hour after we started striking

Some of the equipment from the strike didn't go on the truck though. It went upstairs to the Capital Ballroom where we set up the Audio and Lighting for the last dinner. (not to be confused with the "Last Supper")

I will run audio for the room tonight and hang out with Rick who faithfully attends this closing dinner to be with his client.
2010-07-29 18:27:59 -0600

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rodeo Time

Wednesday night on this show is the client offsite event. This time it was held at the fairgrounds and featured a rodeo.
I was asked to go and shoot video at the rodeo so that it could be edited into the closing candid video module that will show tomorrow.
While I am not really a camera operator, I think I managed to get a few usable clips.
While I was shooting video, I snapped off a couple of shots. Every time I use my Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8 lens, I realize how sharp and great it is!
Time for bed now, but here is a shot I was able to catch tonight.
Whenever I see these kind of events, I always root for the bull.

Bull 1 Cowboy 0

Show time in Denver

Up until this point, all the meetings that have been going on have been breakout meetings. The General Session room has been all about rehearsals. David has been managing all the breakout meetings flawlessly. Today is the first day of actual General Session meetings, and I have to say, the guys in that room have the show locked down tight! The room looks great, and sounds great. The lighting gives the room great color, and the video screens are beautiful... there really isn't a bad seat in the house.

Aegis GS

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bed Time in Denver

The day went well. General Session was rehearsal time.. all day.... Those guys sat in that room freezing cuz the air conditioning was turned down so low to accommodate 700 people worth of body heat... only, there were no attendees today. So, while it was 98 degrees outside, it was like 67 degrees in the ball room.

At the end of the day, I got a call from one of the clients asking me to shoot a couple of photos for them, so I went over and took care of that, and then met Evan, Eric, and Jay in the hotel bar before we headed to Coors Stadium. Rick went and bought us all tickets to the Rockies vs the Pirates game. We got over to the stadium and hung out, had some nachos and watched the game. It was really REALLY relaxing, and even though I am not into baseball, I had a great time, and it is a beautiful ballpark.

Eric and I were hungry and left after the bottom of the 8th inning and walked back to the Tapas place that Rick, Frank and I went to the first night I was here. We had amazing food and were stuffed. After a nice walk back to the hotel of about 10 blocks or so, it is bed time.

Tomorrow, I am going to the client's offsite event which is a rodeo, and am going to shoot some video which will get edited into the happy face video that they will show at the end of the week.

2010-07-27 22:31:25 -0600

Denver Part II

It has been really good to see all the guys.
This is one of a couple shows per year, where a good majority of all the guys get to be on the same show at the same time.
It is a privilege to be able to work along side of these guys, hang out with them after work, and be able to bounce ideas, share stories, and pretty much laugh constantly because of the antics that they all do.

Our fearless leader Rick has had this client for over 20 years, and it is a really REALLY good gig. They treat us with a ton of respect, they are friendly, and while they have high expectations, it is always accompanied with the resources to accomplish whatever they ask.

Interestingly enough, that ties in beautifully with the way Rick runs his company. He treats us with respect, ensures that we have the resources to make the client happy, and he does all this while having a great time. It is like a big family, and again I say it is a privilege to be a part of this.

After work last night, we met at the hotel bar, and Evan, Mike, Frank and I hopped in a cab and went to a place called the Uptown Tavern. The patio was great, and the food was good... but the service was really slow. We had fun though and laughed like crazy the entire time.
Afterwards, we took a cab to the Denver Capital building and got to shoot some photos. It was super dark out, but we all wandered around with our cameras clicking off shots until about 10:30 and then headed back to the hotel.
Here are a couple of shots I created from last night.


Denver Capital Mall

Denver Moon

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Flying from Boston through Chicago was no easy task. The weather was pretty bad in Chicago, so after about a 45 minute delay on the tarmac in Boston, the pilots took us back to get more fuel and then we finally took off. Once we landed in Chicago, I had about 10 minutes to get to my next gate. Fortunately it was just 3 gates down and I walked right on the plane. For those of you who have read some of my blogs, you will know that this is not the normal way of life for me in airports.
I landed in Denver right on schedule and met Rick in one of the client offices where we set up some printers and a fax machine and then off to Bubba Gump's for a bite to eat.

After a good lunch, we finished unpacking some more office supply stuff and then walked across town to pick up some paper for the copiers and printers.
We should have taken a cab back, but instead we bought a package deal on 6 boxes of paper that included a free hand truck.
10 city blocks later, and about 3 gallons of sweat, we finally got back to the hotel with our paper and I thought I was going to pass out.

We called it an early day and went walking out in the city and met our friend Frank Sollecito. We then walked to the Baseball stadium and went to the Breckenridge Brewery for a beer. After a drink and some great laughs, we went to dinner at a Tapas Restaurant. I pretty much went to bed after that.

Friday, July 23, 2010


I am wondering when the day will come when my body becomes like my father's and my internal alarm clock will start waking me up at 4:00 am naturally. It certainly isn't now... that is for sure.
My alarm went off at 3:30 am and I got up and headed to the airport. I was hauling a lot of luggage this time. My suitcase, my computer bag, a Pelican case with a telephone interface, a Pelican case with a DVCAM deck, another Pelican with my recorders and other miscellaneous audio stuff in it, and my Camera Bag. 6 Bags in total to haul around the country. They weighed well over 175 lbs. Fortunately, Allen got up at 3:30 am to give me a ride to the airport so I didn't have to fight parking and hauling all this stuff onto the shuttle buses.

Taking advantage of Continental airlines joining the Star Alliance, I got on the plane and remembered how much I like United's economy plus seating. 5 Inches of leg room in Economy Plus = Your knees not getting mashed when the person in front of you reclines their chair.
Sacramento to Houston, and then Houston to Boston with an hour ground stop delay, I finally arrived in Boston and gathered my entourage of road cases together and hailed a cab. I checked into the hotel and grabbed my camera and wandered off around Quincy Market. I went to this fountain that we shot last time we were here and tried to get a good capture of it again. My first time shooting it produced less than good results so I thought I would take another stab at it.

Boston Fountain

Quincy Market 2

Quincy Market 1

I had about 2 hours to walk around and grab a bite to eat before I was tired and went to bed. Thursday we loaded in and worked till about 6:30 pm and grabbed a quick dinner with the producer of the show, Josh. He is a super cool guy and I really enjoy working with him. He is totally laid back and just really nice to be around.

Show call was 6:30 am this morning and the show pretty much goes all day followed by the strike. Tonight I have to move to the Marriot out by the airport and then fly out first thing in the morning to Denver.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Home from Texas

The show went well, and we tore it all down and got out of there at about 4:30 pm. Dave and I headed to the shuttle that would take us to Terminal E and found that walking outside was enough to make us pass out from heat stroke. Finally through security and then we hung out in a little mexican restaurant and had a bite to eat while we played 18 holes of golf on the iPad.
He won and then had to get on his flight. I had about another hour to wait so I went to my gate and watched a movie. The plane was late getting in, and they did a rushed turn around. We finally got to Denver around 8:30 pm and that gave me about an hour before my next flight to Sacramento.

I landed in Sacramento about 11:30 pm and after I got my luggage, I waited for the shuttle to the economy parking lot and loaded onto it with about 30 other people. I checked my iPhone notes to see where I parked, and I had typed in 40G so I got off the bus around midnight at 40 G and walked up and down the aisles looking for my Jeep. It was no where to be found After about 30 minutes of wandering around the parking lot. I finally decided to look in the 41 G lot. 26 Aisles later, I finally stumbled upon my car. I must have typed in the wrong aisle number when I left!

40 minutes later, I was home in bed and completely passed out till about 8:30 am this morning.

Now, I am getting hungry... time to get up and figure the day out.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I am Cold

It is 98 degrees outside... supposed to hit a high of 103 today... and I am freezing...
while I am sitting here at the console with a sweater on. I am not complaining... just sayin...
2010-07-17 13:11:59 -0500

The last day in Dallas

The show ended at 2:45 pm yesterday, and I found myself still sitting at the audio console at 5:00 pm. The client decided to do a little slide review/rehearsal in the room and we had to change it over from round tables to a U-shape table configuration.
Once they were finished, we rocked out the change over and waited for Security to show up at 7:00 pm. Then we went to the front desk and inquired about getting passes to the airport terminal for a different set of options for dinner.
It was interesting... Dallas Police had to come and fill out forms, call in our drivers license's and once that was done, security was even more aggressive than normal. First a pat down, and then everything that we were carrying... wallet, phone, shoes, everything had to get sniffed for explosives.
Apparently because we hadn't bought a plane ticket, the TSA doesn't have the chance to run our names through the system and see if they should flag us. So, they assume that you would have been flagged and do the additional screening anyway.

We got through that and decided to go to a mexican restaurant in Terminal D. While it was nice to have a different option for dinner than just the hotel restaurant, You know you are ready to go home when you actually choose to battle security for the option to eat airport food.
The food wasn't too bad, and the service was ok. Interestingly enough... the knife that we got with our food was plastic, but the fork was metal. Now, you know know if you carried that metal fork through security, you would have gotten tackled like you were in the NFL and about to score the final touchdown to win the game.
It got me thinking.... if you were going to do something bad... how many things could you find in the airport terminal to Macgyver together something bad.

After dinner I pretty much went straight to bed and feel asleep within 15 minutes of crawling into bed. I slept like a baby, and while I feel sleepy right now because it is still early, I think I am going to feel better today than yesterday.
After the show this afternoon, we do a quick strike and then I catch a 7:27 pm flight back to Sacramento through Denver. I think I land at about 11:00 pm.
Just another day at the office.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Almost Lunch Time

The Alarm went off at 5:30 this morning.... I snoozed it... then the wake up call... Rolled over on that too.... Then the second alarm... followed by the second wake up call.... You get the idea... 40 minutes later, I finally decided I had to get up. 20 minutes later, I was down in the ballroom firing up the sound system... putting batteries in the wireless mics, and setting up a printer for the client. Too early O'Clock if you ask me.

The show has been going well... it is only 15 people in the room, so it feels pretty laid back. We have about 15 minutes before we break for lunch.. and then just about an hour and a half left for the rest of the day.

I think it is nap time once we finish.

Here is a shot that I took from my hotel room this morning.

DFW From the Grand Hyatt

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I got up at 4:30 am to head to the airport for a show in Dallas. My flight was at 7:21 which was nicer than the normal 6:00 am flights. I flew United through Denver and finally after a little delay got to Dallas around 4:45 pm on Wednesday.
While I was in Denver, I found out that the client didn't have a hotel room for me on Wednesday night. Rick, who was in Stockholm Sweden on a site survey found that out and was nice enough to book a room for me at the Westin which is about 2 miles from the airport. I met Dave Cole for a nice dinner at the Westin and then got a good nights sleep in a Westin Heavenly Bed.
This morning I checked out of the Westin at 10:00 am and went over to the Grand Hyatt DFW to help Dave get the client all set up with Internet and Printing.
A little Lunch and then I hung out in my hotel room for the afternoon. The hotel is right in the Airport Terminal, so it is not like there is anything to do or anywhere to go. Around 4:00 pm we met for some dinner. I had a little bit of sushi and then it was about 5:30 so we went to the meeting room to get set up.
We were just about ready to tape all of our cables down... everything was working... and then in came the client. They had some changes and finally decided to change the room set up from a U-shaped set up to round tables.

We had to rip up everything that we had already laid down and tested, wait for the hotel to reset the room, and then put it all back together. It really wasn't too bad and the local AV company people had pretty good attitudes about the whole thing.

Finally finished around 9:00 pm and now I am going to get a good nights rest. A 5:30 am wake up call will start the day tomorrow and we will work till about 3:30 or so. Then do it all again on Saturday.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The iPad

I picked up the new iPad yesterday. I actually wasn't planning on buying one quite yet, but after standing in line just to play with it, it seemed like a waste to delay the inevitable. All in all, it is a really cool toy/tool. It doesn't replace the laptop, but it does stand in for it pretty well for certain things. Mostly, instantly getting to the Internet. The games are fun, maps are cool on it, and there are a. couple of cool apps like Zillow that are really powerful and well laid out.
I have no doubt that on an airplane, it will be wonderful!

That's all for now, I just wanted to test the blogging app on the iPad.
So, see... I haven't blogged in months and the iPad has me back writing...
It must be good for something.

Location:Home in Folsom

Friday, January 22, 2010


Orlando is one of my least favorite places, but I must say that 75 degree weather was pretty to step off the plane to yesterday.
I met Rick in the airport and as I walked up he was holding a sign that said "Albert" which is a long standing inside joke.
We went to the hotel where I am staying and met Evan who was tending to the clients there.
We went to the other hotel where the general session was going to be and met the AV company that was providing the gear.
Setup was around 6:00 pm and we rocked it out by about 8:30 pm or so and then struggled to find a place in the hotel to have dinner. All the restaurants that were open were packed and we ended up in the lobby bar which had some pretty tasty appetizers.
Back to the hotel for a couple of hours of sleep and then a 5:15 am wake up call.
We met in the lobby and took a taxi over to the Marriot and now are just counting the hours till the break for lunch!