6:40 PM, Oct 10, 2005
So How Was Orlando? - Part 1
I spent all day, last Saturday, sitting around, packing, and getting ready for the trip to Florida. Not wanting to fly hung over, I spent the evening in, so I could get a full night's sleep and all that.
I woke up on Sunday morning refreshed, and ready to go, so I called Loor, over at Atlas Cab, for a ride to the airport. The trip went uneventfully, besides the fact that I still really just hate the hassle of flying. As the plane started its overly drawn-out descent into America's tourist haven, my phone started vibrating with calls, alerts about missed calls, and text messages. I felt popular. It turns out that I was just being chastised for holding everyone's dinner up, as they all expected me at the hotel at a the time I had told them, as opposed to that time indicating the target time for the plane to land.
A wall of heat, humidity, and insects washed over me as I stepped out of the baggage claim area to get a cab. I just don't understand why there are fifteen million people living in that place. I started sweating immediately, and found that I needed to walk three hundred yards down to the "taxicab area," with my luggage, sweating some more. I was a little irritable by the time I made it to the taxicab stand, where i had to put my name in for no line.
The ride to the hotel, on International Drive, was a quick one, for a goodly $30 fare. I checked in, signed what I needed to sign, had a couple of "sidebar" conversations with various coworkers, and headed to "Amigo's" with Geoff, for dinner.
The conference I attended all week was of the sort that only career military types could really appreciate, with plenteous bursts of "HOOAH," from random spots all around me, and enough acronyms that I suppose that the conference would have taken another three days if they had said everything in its expanded, unabbreviated form. Mostly, I just took notes on programming ideas that I got, in lieu of losing my mind from boredom.
On the second day of the conference, I demonstrated the monthly report application I wrote to some of the senior executive types in the program, and they loved it. I have been tapped as a project lead to make the application work for everybody, with help from two other guys to document it and make the site prettier. As you can see from this website, and from my clothes, I don't really have much of a sense of what looks good. It looks like work'll want me to fly out to Seattle in the coming weeks, to get some structure requirements for other kinds of users, and so I can go to some brewery tours.
On the third day, Geoff and I met up with some people with whom he used to work, when he lived in Orlando, two years ago. We drank entirely too much, and ate entirely too little, resulting in a rash, drunken decision to go downtown at 10PM, and drink more. We went to the Back Booth
for 80s night and great beer on tap, and floated from there to other places until about 2AM, consuming a total of about 15 or 16 drinks. Everything would have been fine, but for one thing: on my recommendation, we stopped by McDonald's on the way back to the hotel, where I got the biggest, greasiest, stomach-stretchingestly disgusting burger on the menu, shoved its dripping greasy mass down my throat in three bites, and went to sleep.
I woke up to the space shuttle launch noise of my phone's alarm clock at 7AM. It was horrible. I hadn't even slept long enough to be hung over. I was just sleepy, in a worse way than I had felt in a long time. I did the best I could to clean up, and trudged downstairs, just in time for Thursday's thrill-o-rama of acronyms and hooahs. I struggled through the first hour and a half, holding my eyes open like beartraps longing to snap shut, wisking me off to slumberland.
Geoff missed reveille altogether, so I went and woke him up about an hour into the proceedings, to find that he was no better off than me with an extra hour of sleep. At the first official break, Geoff came in, and asked me how I was doing. With heavy eyelids, I told him I was exhausted, and at that precise moment, a small tremor broke out in my digestive tract. I immediately thought, "Double quarter pounder. Shit." I gingerly walked out of the conference room, taking deep breaths of recycled, air-conditioned, but still heavy and humid Florida air.
If I had been in Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, or anywhere else that has normal autumnal weather, I might have staved it off with some cool, dry October air, and a pleasantly violent trip, a couple of hours later, to the thinking chair, over a chapter of Clear and Present Danger
, but as it was, I didn't even make it to the bathroom. A fountain of stomach acid, brown, body-warm water, and hamburger fixins splashed impressively on the previously reflective floor of the Embassy Suites' crowded main conference hall, as I, in a futile attempt, tried to block the flow with my hand. This, in addition to being useless, also served to cover my clothes with what had only moments before been in my stomach.
Twice I stopped, on my forty-foot route to the bathroom, and made people turn their heads away in disgust, cringing at the horrible screaming noise I was making, in my misery. I finally made it to a stall in the bathroom, and busied myself wiping off with toilet paper, but rejoicing that my stomach had nothing left to give. When I emerged from the bathroom, the mess I left on the carpet had already been covered with lye, and the other spot had already been mopped up. Noticing this, I thought to myself that the Embassy Suites must be pretty well-managed. These thoughts were quickly replaced with overwhelming shame, however, as all eyes were drawn to me as I made my way to the elevator.
In three minutes that felt like three hours, I was back in my room, pulling off my soiled clothes, and trying to regain some breathing through my nose. The nasal passage, while filled with elements of what my stomach had expelled, had completely swollen shut, making me breathe burning acidic breaths through my mouth. I left a conciliatory message on my boss' phone, showered the remains of "it" off, and lay down to drift in and out of a fitful sleep in 10-20 minute segments for about the rest of the day, as my nasal passage slowly cleared over a period of about seven hours.
By about 4PM, I was feeling fine, relatively. I was hung over, but the discomfort from that was nothing, compared to the wrath of the hamburger, that morning. I rejoined everyone to chuckles and stories about my little, "show," that day.
I went to bed early that night, and even though I had spent most of the day resting, slept straight through to feel surprisingly chipper on Friday morning. While shortened to less than half a day, the conference was very sing-songy, and resounded with hooahs all around, along with numerous awards given to the executives by each other. With no illusions intended about paying attention, I brought my computer downstairs, paid my bills, and worked on some perl during the bulk of the proceedings.
Wait, there's more? Indeed there is