Friday, January 25, 2008

I left my [wife for] San Francisco

Well not permanently or anything.

You see, I was invited to speak at a sales conference hosted by the fine folks at GoldenGate Software. This had been pre-arranged some time ago, and I thought it would be a non-event. What I didn't know was that I was the keynote speaker at this conference. I guess they didn't want to burden me with that pressure.

Anyway, they say getting there is half the fun. I wholeheartedly disagree, but staying there was ALL the fun. I will explain.

Monday past, we received the largest snow storm in quite some time here in the SLC. The official measurement was 16 inches at my house. 14 of them had fallen on the ground by the time I needed to leave for the airport. I taught Sherise how to use the snowblower and then let her make a hole while I showered and finished getting ready to leave. The fine folks at Delta reassured me that despite the large snowfall in such a short time, that my flight was still on time.

So I had Sherise drive me to the airport. My rationale being that the time saved not having to figure out parking on a very messy snowy day would give me the precious extra time I would need to offset the longer drive time due to weather. This proved to be academic. While having her drive me certainly saved time and frustration, the fine folks at Delta announced 10 minutes before boarding that our plane had not yet left San Francisco. And oh, by the way, it's approximately a 2-hour flight. In other words, they knew 2 hours before scheduled boarding that the plane was going to be late but didn't bother to let anyone know. Did you know that DELTA is an acronym for Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport?

There was one other problem with having Sherise drive me - she couldn't get back home. The 14 inches on the ground when we left were 16 by the time she got back home. Only problem was the snow was still on the road leading up to our house. And the snowplow hadn't been by yet. And it's uphill to our house. You can see where this is going, Sherise got stuck trying to turn into our street. With the help of a neighbor, she dug herself out and was able to get back onto the main road.

He suggested that she go around the block once, and then take a big run at it. She tried that. And got about 20 feet further up the street than she did last time. She called me and asked me what to do - I suggested that she back out, turn off the traction control, and take an even bigger run at it. She did that too. And got about 20 feet further still.

Sherise managed to get the car over to the side of the road where she parked it and hoofed it back to the house. Another neighbor watched the whole thing (from the comfort of their home) and offered to help get the car back to the house. The solution? He'd fire up his snowblower, Sherise would fire up ours, and they'd dig - he from the car, she from our driveway and they'd meet somewhere in the middle. And that's just what they did.

I want a refund on my property taxes.

Anyway, after 3 hours of delay, I finally got on the plane and left the SLC for San Francisco. Upon landing, I found a nice guy holding a sign with my name on it, and a lovely Town Car to take me to the St. Regis Hotel downtown.

The cool part was the hotel itself. I've stayed in a lot of hotels through all my years as a traveling consultant. Some were very nice, some were holes. They all suck compared to this place. These guys thought of everything when they designed the rooms. The lights turn on automatically when you open the door to your room. The alarm clock controls every light, the window shades, the climate system, the TV, and the media center. It even knows your name:

They also solved one of the age-old problems present in every hotel room I've ever seen in a very clever way. Finally, you can have the big bathtub right next to the bed (where it belongs) but also provide privacy as needed:


The view out the window was also quite nice:

The sweet little girls in GoldenGate's marketing organization who coordinated the whole thing also left a HUGE gift basket full of every kind of chocolate Ghirardelli makes:

Big ass basket

As for the rest of the trip, it was much like attending any of the other conferences I've gone to. The feedback on my presentation was good. The food/socializing/etc at the conference was good. I got to explore the city for a couple hours the next morning. The trip home was boring. You can hardly see my house from the street because of the huge snowdrift in front of it.

And I really like downtown San Francisco.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

The holidays are always fun.

This past week has featured at least 3 forays outside with the snowblower and high temperatures below freezing. Winter is finally upon us. We need the snow so that people from out of state can come and ski on our mountains, and so we can meet our legal obligations to ship our water to Nevada and California (who don't appreciate it, but are happy to waste it).

Cleaning the dreaded basement finally percolated up to the top of the to-do list this past week (remind me NOT to take vacation days unless I'm going somewhere), and the junk has been a-flyin. Highlights of the treasures found so far:
- My 1992 COBOL text book from college
- Hate mail from the parents of the girl who was not accepted into Madrigals when Sherise was teaching high school choir
- Multiple Franklin Planners and binders of "archived" pages
- A trash can full of ... trash
- A dead plant
- Marketing swag for large companies that no longer exist, such as MediaOne Cable, AT&T Broadband, and American Management Systems

We really shoulda cleaned out the basement before letting the big burly movers come and pack it all up.

However, there were some high points. Sherise's brother and his family came to visit, and his kids and our kids couldn't have been any happier if they were pigs in $@!+. We were pleasantly surprised to see that they have been training their (almost) three-year-old to be a cage fighter:

Video footage comes courtesy of Calvin.