July 13, 2010: Speaking in Washington, D.C.

I got up early this morning to make sure that I was all ready for the big day today.  There is a lot to do.  My sport coat and shirt were horribly wrinkled after the long drive to New York, several weeks of being in New York and now the drive down to Maryland so last night I hung them up in the shower in my suite and took a hot shower which seemed to get the bulk of the wrinkles out.  I then left them in the shower overnight and left them in the shower while I took another shower this morning.  Luckily the shower is large enough that they can hang in it and not get all wet from the shower while getting quite a bit of steam.

We were running a little late when Brian and I managed to hit the road and leave John and Michelle’s home on the Magothy River.  We had built in a lot of extra time, though, to make sure that we were not going to be late when we got to Washington, D.C.

The drive in to Washington, basically identical to my old commute from a decade ago, went pretty smoothly.  Brian drove to make things easier so that I would be able to just jump out of the car if necessary.

We ended up getting to the conference pretty early, which was good.  I wanted plenty of time so that I was not rushed.

We drove around the corner and stopped by Subway to grab a quick lunch before I headed into the conference.  It was a good use of the time.  Then Brian dropped me at the conference and Jay met me outside and got me checked in with my badge and everything.  We headed out to the expo floor to check out the speaking space.

The stage at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference was the “Live Stage” on the Expo Floor.  It was a really neat speaking setup consisting of a very large circle with broken sides for people to ingress and egress.  Seating was all on extra-firm beanbag style benches.  There were multiple commercial video cameras and sound equipment for high quality recording.  Pretty slick.

After checking in with the presentation staff and getting situated we went looking for some food for Jay.  There were really no options inside the conference so he was stuck grabbing a bite at Starbucks really quickly and we were on our way back to the stage area to prepare.

The talk started at one and just ran for twenty five minutes.  It was a very short talk but that made it a lot lower key and more casual for people to just sit down and watch.

At the beginning of the talk there were very few people in the theatre but as Jay spoke it filled up pretty rapidly.  By the time that it was my turn to speak we had quite a good turnout.  The session was recorded too so we will be appearing on “Microsoft Television” sometime tomorrow or possibly sometime tonight.

Overall I think that it went quite well.  People seemed to be really engaged by the talk and one person pulled me aside at the end to talk to me about what we had been speaking on – which was Social Media in IT Communities.  One of my favourite subjects.  This was heavily related to my talk at SpiceWorld 2009.

As soon as the talk was over I was out the door.  Brian was “circling” the building to be ready to pick me up and we were in the car and on the road in minutes.  We pulled over a few blocks away so that I could jump into the driver’s seat to get us out of DC since we were in an area where I used to work and knew pretty well.  I got us right out onto I66 without any problem and we were on the highway to Front Royal in no time.

While I was at the convention, Brian had managed to get to a Verizon Wireless store to pick up the cable that I needed in order to be able to work from the car while we were driving.  We had thought that we were going to have to get one of these on the road so this worked out great.

The drive went pretty well.  We were both pretty well rested and the weather was agreeable.  Brian took over driving pretty quickly so that I could get onto my laptop and work tethered to my BlackBerry Tour for much of the journey.

Coming from Washington, D.C. makes the trip much shorter than from just about any other location in the north than I ever drive to or from.  We were more than an hour “into the drive” than we would have been even leaving directly from John’s house let alone coming from Brian’s place in Chalfont or mine in Peekskill.  This is a shorter drive than we are used to doing.

My Verizon 3G connection did great and actually stayed connected all of the way through Virginia from Washington to Bristol!  You really cannot ask for much more than that.  It ended up being a very productive day.

It was between nine and ten o’clock when we got into Knoxville.  We were a little tired and were beginning to suspect that we may not be able to push on all of the way to Dallas tonight.  That is going to be crappy as I had really hoped to have been able to have gotten to the office around ten in the morning and to have been able to work a “normal” day once arriving.  We decided that stopping for a short break and getting dinner would be better than driving continuously.

Since we were in Knoxville we stopped at the SpiceRack and got fish tacos.  We did not stay long, though, as we wanted to get as many miles done as we possibly could.  We did pretty well for several more hours.  Around two or three in the morning I was just too tired to keep driving, though, so I decided that that was going to be it for the night.

We ended up getting a room at the Comfort Suites in Forrest City, Arkansas.  Not nearly as far as we had hoped to have been able to go but it is what it is.

Brian slept well.  I had insomnia a bit and only got three hours of sleep at best if not far less.  I did get a chance to take a nice, long, hot shower, though, which for me is almost as good as getting sleep.

Leave a comment