Road Show -- October 28, 1999

Locale: Dallas, Houston, Kansas City

Consecutive Days Wearing a Suit:
  4
Tired Factor (1-10): 7  (stress factor depreciated since it was an non-existent metric)
Hours of Sleep Last Night: 4

Total time Spent Playing Pocket Pokemon: 2:42
Number of Pokemon In Pokedex: 6

Best score in Nokia Snake: 300


 The "Breakfast Meeting"

There's nothing quite like a 7:15am meeting. To make up for our sleep deprivation, the investors supplied us with bagels and fruit. Despite the early hour, Louis and Vic are "on". Oh, it's even worse since we lost an hour from EST!

We have another meeting here and then we fly to Houston. We're flying on Southwest... I'm one step closer to my free ticket! After flying home to LA for Thanksgiving, I'll be able to fly free to anywhere Southwest flies. I'll probably use it for some killer snowboard trip!

I tried to upload the web pages again. The upload kept failing... I can't wait to stay in a hotel with big pipes. I'd love to be able to set up DHCP and then plug and go! I'm sure it exists.

I read an article in Wired about a Smell-o-vision. It sounded neat, I'd love to try it (they're local, in Oakland).

I have no pictures from the first meeting. It was too early to be a photographer!


View of Dallas from Meeting #2.

Another view of Dallas from Meeting #2.

Conference Room of Meeting #2.

Lobby of Meeting #2.

Southwest

There's something I just love about Southwest Airlines.  I fly it often between SJC and BUR/LAX  (San Jose, Burbank, Los Angeles International airports).  Maybe it's all the free flights and drink vouchers I rack up.  Maybe it's the friendly staff.  Maybe it's because it's like a bus -- you make a quick reservation and you hop on.  Or maybe it's their cheap prices or peanuts.

Well, whatever it is, when I saw that they had a "Customer of the Month" program, I got psyched.  I asked the employees at the gate how to be a winner.  They said that the winner is nominated by customers and employees.  I immediately started lobbying for this honor.  See my picture below with Jenna.  I worked the flight attendents hard, but they insisted that the program doesn't exist anymore.  I didn't believe them....


Jenna, my first proponent in the quest for "Customer of the Month".  Notice the plaques of past winners behind us!

Houston

The Houston meetings were quite an experience. The office of the first was totally high-tech. You walk in and the first thing you see are two of those 42-inch plasma displays. One has some crazy ticker and the other has MSNBC. Every trader has 6 (6!!!) 15 inch LCD displays and an Aeron chair. Talk about screen envy! I could do some damage with that many screens (seriously, I should get another screen, it would simplify development!) They hooked us up with a box lunch which was cool.


Vic calling his bookie for payout on the World Series.

Receptionist showing of her plasma displays.

Screen Envy!

View of Houston from screenville..

The second meeting was in an exquisite building. We were on the 45th floor. To get there, we had to take the elevator to the 51st and then another elevator down. I think there were 60-something floors! Each elevator had marble from a different quarry. There was a plaque which would name the marble and the location of its quarry. The security of the building was able to settle the shot tower issue, by surfing for it (although Bailey gets huge props for finding it first; I just hadn't found web access in time). The offices themselves were nothing special. But, the building was tall and was covered with reflective glass. Also it was the only tall building for miles so it stood impressively.


We are one of many Road Shows at this place!

Louis amazed that a shot tower actually exists.

View of Houston.

View of Houston left.

View of Houston right.

View away from Houston.

Next to the building was a beautiful water fountain. I noticed it while we were walking into the building. During the the meeting, I ran downstairs to check it out. I might go so far as to call this place a shrine. It was a textured half-cylinder with steps at the bottom with water continuously flowing down it. You would walk in the space of it and a tingling mist would embrace you. A beautiful pink noise shrouded your ears, like a wave continuously crashing on the beach. I stood in the center, closed my eyes, and breathed. It felt fantastic. There was a great energy there, unusual for a piece of man's creation. I chatted with some young locals who were enjoying their lunch. I envied them for having such a beautiful thing to visit for lunch. (But, it's easy to forget that we have very nice trees in front of Immersion).


Approaching the fountain.

falling water

beauty

bliss

The glass tower as seen from the fountain.

Is Kansas City in Kansas or Missouri?

The answer is both! As Abby would say, who knew?

The flight to Kansas City was fine. There were a group of French tourists at our gate. I was too timid to speak with them, missing a great opportunity to connect with some interesting people, welcome tourists to our land, and to practice my French. Oh well...

So, I was finally successful in making Louis and Vic realize that I am insane. Louis' exact words were "Evan, you are one strange guy". I was flattered, I guess. I don't try to be unusual (or strange or whatever), but I do try to make life interesting. I love to amuse myself...

We are staying at the Ritz. Life is rough...

We ate at the hotel. Although the menu had absolutely no vegetarian entrees, the chef prepared me a delightful vegetarian plate. It consisted of grilled asparagus, an incredible marinated Portobello mushroom with gorgonzola melted on top, and wild rice. I had an heirloom tomato salad with it. Louis entertained us with stories from his summers at Armstrong labs.

I think I've forgot to mention that we now have Paul from H&Q with us. He is young (23), but quite professional and very nice. Jonathon went back to SF to do other work.

To end the evening, I wandered around the shopping district near our hotel. There were many nice stores there. I called my Mom. Then I called my brother. He tried to convince me to go to Las Vegas with him for the weekend. I said "Yes" at first, but then I called him back to decline his invitation. I just have too much traveling to do...

I went to a place called Tomfoolery. It was pretty fun. I listened to local blues/jazz band. They were good. They did a rendition of "Riders on the Storm", which used to be my favorite tune. This place was recommended to be by the lady at the reception, Jamillah. She showed up there with her friends. This was unplanned since they are "not allowed to fraternize with the guests". I was glad they showed up because I was getting lonely -- there's only so much hockey one can watch on a bar's TV (sorry Alex), and the rest of the people didn't seem open to new friendships. So we all hung out despite hotel rules. They all worked at the Ritz (two in communication, one in housekeeping management, and one in reception). We didn't have too much in common, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. I actually felt bad that I didn't speak more with them. They talked a lot about work. I don't blame them; I do the same with my coworkers.  By the way, if you ever want to learn how to develop a strong service-oriented, empowered, loyal work force, read a case study on the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain. These ladies were very kind and they loved their work environment. Hearing them discuss work was a testament to the success of the Ritz. It totally shines through in the service the hotel provides.


Paul and Louis, just chilling....

The Ritz at Night

Yesterday -- Tomorrow