Thursday, May 15, 2008

The final BER tryout: Providence

A car commute to our next destination rather than flying, which was a welcome change: no schlepping through airports, no belt/jacket/shoes off, laptop out inspections and cramming oneself into an airline seat designed for people the size of a pre-teen. Desperate for coffee, too, as the drama of speaking on one's feet all day combined with a late night and relaxing car ride can do that to someone. For dinner on Monday, I chose to stay in the hotel and eat at Audrey's (could it be, perhaps, the 10% off incentive?). Along with some excellent french fries and an indifferent Cuban sandwich, I did enjoy a Harpoon IPA, a Newport Storm, and a powerfully aromatic yet only mildly fruity tasting Wachusett Blueberry. Interestingly, the Johnson and Wales Inn was also hosting the Johnson and Wales University athletics banquet, which proved to be entertaining, as the bartender was forced to deny service to some athletes with me as witness, as he was instructed to do. Based on years of observations and coaching, I am sure the kids were wrestlers, too.

Housed in the Johnson & Wales Hotel, my final tryout for BER went, in my estimation, only reasonably well. Unsure as I am about certification rules in the Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island tri-state area, it seemed that the session's 25 or so attendees were only there to fulfill some sort of continuing education requirements, as there was some scrambling at the registration table to secure certification numbers in advance of the program, and to complete the paperwork. My marks were a bit more erratic on this occasion, and the trend continued with people complaining about the facility (temperature, no provided lunch or afternoon coffee, etc.).

Alas, the quest for the elusive 93% approval rating that's required for me to continue my BER employment is moot, as the company has determined that the demand is not enough present, and I am not being retained. No matter, as the entire affair -- the authoring of the introductory essay, the handbook, the preparations of the 170 slide presentation, and the travel and lectures themselves -- proved to be really good for me in terms of my own professional development, and my ability to take risks and accept challenges. Thanks to BER and Boyce Heidenreich for the opportunity. But most of all, thanks to Tiffani for all of her editing and personal support, I would be nowhere without her assistance, and it's now time to start spending her BER provided shoes and handbag fund.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

BER #3: Manchester NH

The trip east was somewhat more eventful on this occasion, considering my continuously failing the metal detector at the airport, and the bouncy weather the plane enjoyed on the initial leg. With the TSA folks, I tried to be as cooperative as possible, so as to not end up detained in Guantanamo. I was craftier this trip, or thriftier, as I telephoned ahead for a shuttle to the surprisingly nice hotel, in lieu of a taxi. After checking in at the front desk and with Tiff at home, some work and golf watching, it was time for a walk and talk with mom for mother's day and dinner. What gives with no sidewalks in Manchester? Quite the trek in the dark on the return.

After meeting with my BER mentor last week before and over an indulgent dinner, taking several pages of notes on his suggestions, I felt like I well de-emphasized aspects of my chat that he felt were less important, and I attempted to be more in-depth with others that he liked to make up the lost time.

Today's facility was terrific, designed perfectly for events like these. The tally totalled 25 attendees, and the conference room had ample seating for perhaps a dozen more. I worked from a tricked out lectern, housing my laptop, integrating with my audio and visuals and controlling every aspect of the room from a touchscreen. There was a rich, integrated sound system, and 4 ceiling-mounted data projectors with paired screens -- which allowed me to roam the room, but not force me to look back at the screen behind me. Not a detail was overlooked in the design of the room, or for the day's event, and lunch was even included for the 2 BER employees.

An aside: I enjoy being out east and hearing the accent, but no one is good as this fella.

An additional aside: The folks in New Hampshire must be shy, as the urinals in the restrooms at the conference center had their own stalls and latching doors. Quite the private lot, they must be.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

BER Assignment #2

Monday's lecture in Rochester went well, considering the room volleyed between 85 and 55 degrees in the first fifteen minutes. The turnout was 6, with 7 registered. Regardless, the attendees were enthusiastic, and working in the same facility in which you are residing is advantageous: I requested a late check out, and was able to duck up to my room for lunch to relax.

Tuesday's event was much better attended, and perhaps, much better performed; we had 43 participants. In the afternoon, there was a loud party next door, sponsored by Proctor & Gamble, complete with well-broadcasted Fifties music and, exasperatingly, an open bar. I was forced to compete with the noise, and maintain the attendees attention.

Another interesting ride on this day, Jack from Jack's Transportation Service, and his economic, political, and sports tirades. Jack's rants were great for their conspiracy theories, and because I didn't disagree with his political foils. If you need a ride in the greater Cincinnati area, do give Jack a call @ 513-673-3202.

Thankfully, I avoided trouble in my travels because I didn't build any wide stances.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

First BER assignment

My first trip for business where I am flown, and it hasn't been terribly inconvenient so far. Post-September 11 TSA requirements dictate a time further in advance for arrival at the airport, and the only surprise for me this morning was the request to remove my belt. It takes a little while to put your bag back in order, considering the laptop in one box, shoes in another, phone, belt, and jacket, and your clear, zip-lock 1 quart bag filled with toothpaste and deodorant.

For the short jaunt to Detroit, the young woman next to me was crying when I joined her in row 6, sadly, and for the rest of our time on the plane as well. Of course, one would like to offer condolences, but my inability to invade her privacy was more powerful.

Another observation in airports, Lansing, Detroit, and otherwise: the laptop users busily tap tapping over their machines are overwhelmingly Macintosh users, surprisingly. These anecdotal numbers do not jibe with the conventional wisdom that the PC market dominates Macs in market share by a margin of 95% to 5%, and is certainly encouraging for those interested in common sense computing.

A whiplash $15 cab ride to the hotel, a mediocre iceberg salad lunch, then back to the room to work. A delightful aside: Tiffani Skyped me, and I was able to see and talk to her and the kids before they departed for a bike ride. Ooof, I'm missing out on family fun and time with the kids.