Getting together with a few friends -- 01/13/04

So I'm spending this week with a few friends and colleagues in Las Vegas -- slightly more than 16,000 of them. Here we are at the MGM Arena at the MGM Grand Hotel -- yeah, the one where most of those boxing matches, etc. are held.
The picture above was taken at the Sunday evening meeting (when I had seats up in nosebleed territory) and the one on the left was taken at a Monday meeting (when I had seats only four rows from the boxing ring they used as a speaker's platform).

That's a big crowd!
Up very early Sunday morning -- off to the airport very early to get through security (which actually doesn't tend to take very long at the Providence airport, but who wants to be stuck in a security line while your plane takes off?)... 9 a.m. flight, change planes at Detroit, reach Las Vegas about quarter past one (three hour time difference, so that's quarter past four to us), takes a while for baggage to be unloaded, etc. (but we are able to check into our hotel -- including getting our room keys -- at the airport), finally get to hotel, find our rooms -- because of the expense of this week of meetings and training sessions we have to double up on rooms and I am sharing a room with Hamid -- and then find the conference registration area. (The 16,000 attendees are spread among five hotels: MGM Grand, Balley's, Paris, Mirage, and Venetian.)

By the time we have registered we are told that we will not be able to catch a shuttle bus that will get us to the MGM Grand in time for the meeting so we decide to walk (it's not really that far, less than a mile) -- I swear that once we reached MGM, the walk inside through the casino and restaurant and shopping areas was longer than the walk from our hotel had been. The meeting lasted until around eight o'clock and then we headed off to dinner, split between the largest ballroom area in MGM and a gigantic tent area outside. (Please note that to Eastern Standard time zone stomachs, this meant we were eating around eleven p.m.)

Monday's presentations began at 7:30 a.m., mostly at the Venetian (although some, especially those involving hands-on computer labs, were at the Mirage). We called them presentations or sessions, but they were mostly training sessions, a series of brief technology classes, although there were also some special sales meetings for those on the sales side of the business.
At eleven there was another gigantic meeting back at the MGM Grand for all 16,000 of us, followed by lunch. This is one side of the tent area, which was only one of the venues for lunch...

Another session back at the Venetian in the afternoon and then a meeting for a subset of about twenty-five hundred of us at Balley's from six to eight, followed by dinner.

Yes, there is a huge fleet of shuttle buses.
Today my classes began at eight a.m. -- three morning sessions followed by lunch and then two more sessions in the afternoon (I have mostly signed up for technical sessions related to web portals and to J2EE, although I have slotted a couple of non-technical topics such as active listening and managing stakeholder expectations) followed by another six to eight p.m. series of executive speeches back at the MGM Grand Arena.

I did something very stupid this afternoon -- I spilled a cup of freshly poured hot coffee (I take it black) on my right foot, badly blistering my big toe. An EMT at the first aid station at the Venetian conference center took good care of me but my toe hurts and there is a lot of walking involved in getting from one session to the next.

I don't know when I am going to get this posted to my site. I've just tried the supposed broadband connection in my hotel room and can't get a connection. I may try a dial up connection but not tonight because I am exhausted and need to get to sleep. But, if you are reading this, obviously I did get it posted at some point.

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