Thursday, November 18, 2004

Gail and The City

I'm still recovering from the hectic, frenetic pace of the last week and a half or so... It culminated on Tuesday, when I went to Manhattan for Paperloop's 12th Annual Global Outlook Conference. Both Ross and Kevin were asked to speak, so I'd spent last week in Vancouver preparing the speeches and working on our big monthly report.

I make it a point to not talk about work on my blog, but I thought I'd make an exception this time.

Paperloop's 12th Annual Global Outlook Conference, Roosevelt Hotel

Ross presenting.

Kevin presenting.

Originally, only Ross was speaking, but the Paperloop people asked Kevin to speak about a week and a half before, so I had to work on two presentations. This wasn't such a big deal, since Kevin's speech was a modified version of one he'd given in Portland to another association a couple of months ago, but with the monthly report looming in the foreground, this was still a lot of work!!

I wanted to take the opportunity to attend this conference so I can see my work up on the big screen. (I have never seen, in more than 6 years, either Ross or Kevin present at a conference, not even in Vancouver!) I wanted to check out the colours, fonts, transitions, which graph styles worked best, and to compare them with other presentations. I might sound biased, but even the IT guy backed me up on it: most of the other presentations had FAR too much data and were difficult to read. You would think, after years and years of electronic presentations (and, before those, years and years of presentations using overhead projectors) that people would learn that there is such a thing as too much on a slide. Especially in a room this large!

As you can see here, I was on the main floor at the back of the room for Kevin's presentation in the morning, and went upstairs to the balcony to view Ross' presentation in the afternoon.

To get to Manhattan for Kevin's speech shortly after 9am, I had to catch a bus at -- eek! -- 5:35am from Scranton. I couldn't believe that people do this every day. I brought along my iPod, DVDs, and other things to amuse myself for the 2.5 hour journey, but I'd imagine most people try to sleep.

It's easy to be anti-commuting when you're single, but I can understand if you have a family and you want to live in something larger than a shoebox, you'll end up commuting. It's just so much wasted time, though. At least on a train or a bus you can do things, instead of just sitting in your car, trying not to go into autopilot. I looked out the window at the beautiful sunrise -- thanks to quality pollution -- and the endless traffic through New Jersey. I realise New Jersey is supposed to be the Garden State, but all I have ever really seen on trips through NJ is desolate wasteland and terrible roads. I've got relatives in Randolph, so I'm hoping to see something more when I visit them.

The traffic into Manhattan was chockers, so I didn't get into the Port Authority until nearly quarter to nine. I took one look a the taxi queue and decided to walk it, instead. It was a fine morning, and I had a vague idea of what direction to go in to find the hotel, so I headed off that way...

My mental map of Manhattan from previous trips served me well, as I only had to ask one doorman where the Roosevelt Hotel was. I saw him later, when I left, and thanked him... jovial guy.

I did have some moments of panic at the conference, though. After observing and recording Kevin's speech on the digital recorder and my digital camera, I had to deal with Ross' speech, which I'd only e-mailed hours before and brought on CD. I'd found the IT guy -- or, rather, he found me -- and he told me that he got my e-mail from 1:30am (yeah, I didn't have much sleep the previous night), showed Ross the file, and Ross said a slide was missing! My heart skipped a beat while Rick explained that it was in the original black and white version I'd e-mailed the week before, so the only difference was that the last slide was not formatted. That wasn't acceptable to me, although he said Ross was OK with it.

I went on an immediate search for an internet connection, which took a while. Eventually, I was able to get a conference person to hook me up via ethernet to a free connection in the their meeting room. I went into the office server, retrieved the file and worked on it locally. But, I had to use Kevin's PowerBook to check the slide in XP because even though I'd loaded Virtual PC on my PowerBook, I forgot my XP CDs at my apartment in Vancouver... argh! What a mess! Anyway, I got it all fixed before lunchtime, so the panic was short-lived. Ross, Kevin, and I went to an Irish bar and grill nearby, and I could finally relax for a while. Had this fantastic Irish cider called Magner's that reminded me of the great cidre I'd had in May in Brittany, France.

I didn't hang around long at the hotel after Ross' speech, as I had to catch the bus back to Pennsylvania -- I wanted to observe David teaching a class at the Civil Air Patrol meeting (they're always on Tuesday). I did get to meet Martin Glass from EMGE, an associate from the south of England, and I showed he and Kevin a couple of videoclips of barrel rolling in the sky last Sunday. He was impressed! -- turns out he has a pilot's license, too.

I headed back to Port Authority in the warm early-evening sunshine, walking along 44th Avenue, passing The Algonquin Hotel (see left) where David and I stayed a few weeks before, then through Times Square. It reminded me of nearly two years before, standing with 600,000 other people, waiting for the ball to drop for New Year's. It also reminded me that I should get in touch with my aunt and uncle who live in Chelsea, who have no idea that I'm around!!