CISO Exchange West Event – Sunday Was Speaking and Eating

Having survived the night and getting some good sleep, I was ready to tackle the day. Being that I did not actually speak until 3:30pm, I had plenty of time to prepare so I decided to take a walk around and grab some breakfast.

A typical view across the table for the road warrior

San Francisco is a very beautiful place. My hotel was right beside the Moscone Center and across from the YBCA (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts) which has a beautiful park setting and backs up to some shopping. I ended up eating breakfast at the iconic “Mel’s Drive-In” and continued to enjoy the area.

On my way back, I stopped by where the event was, checked in and made sure I knew how it was going to work. I like to make sure I am ready for issues, which proved to be a good idea later. I spent the next couple of hours in the hotel room checking and replying to emails while waiting.

At about 2:45 I suited up and headed down to the conference. When I got to my room, they had a laptop already set up, however the slides that were loaded were old, they were also in 4:3 format when I usually use 16:9. I’m really not sure where the deck came from (they looked like ones I used at another event for these folks a few months ago), but the race was on to correct the issue. When you do this sort of work, nothing is surprising, so you simply adapt and overcome. I had to do a high-speed rework of the slides I had in to 16:9 format since the projector and screen were 4:3. I got it done, but barely. My mad skillz in PowerPoint bailed me out. 🙂

The session went well with a lot of interactive discussion. I didn’t make it through the whole deck, but I had expected that if we had good Q&A so it was fine. I even got to meet a gentleman I recently did a webinar with. It was very cool.

Even the garlic is cooked in garlic sauce

After the session, I hung out at our booth for a bit and learned some from the sales guys. From there, it was dinner time. I suggested that we go to “The Stinking Rose” for dinner. This is another iconic SF place to eat, and the general premise is to cook everything in garlic. Even the garlic is garlic roasted. Good times and good eats with my sales brethren. At dinner I was introduced to a drink called “Grappa” which is the grape waste products from making wine. Basically, they take the dead, crushed husks of the grapes after pressing for wine and let it rot (aka ferment) and squeeze the juice out of it. It tastes just as bad as you may imagine.

From there, it was walking back to the hotel to catch some sleep (in the warm pink glow of the Buddha of course) so I could get up and get to the airport for my 8am flight.

Tampa to San Fran for the CISO Exchange West event

Yesterday was one of the longer trips I’ve had in a while. This trip was from Tampa two DFW, then To San Francisco. It’s a pretty long day of travel when you’re going across the country like that, and that just means more opportunities for interesting things.

In this case, we started out in Tampa boarding a “Super 80” aircraft. Now let me tell you, there is nothing super about a “Super 80”. It’s about 116 years old and considered a narrow-body. That means two seats on one side of the aisle and three seats on the other. This is an updated version of the DC-9 and was launched back in 1979.  Let this be a reminder to me to double-check the aircraft when I book flights.

 

So I got on the plane, and got to my seat. For me this is the most important part. I just want to get in my seat let everyone board and relax. As we were all loaded up and getting ready to head out, I started hearing some noises even through my Bose headphones. It was sobbing and hysterical crying from the gal two rows ahead of us.  My first reaction was to be a little annoyed, thinking that this was just a case of someone afraid to fly. However, it became fairly clear that it was more than that. I was able to discern some phrases related to somebody passing away, So I felt a bit bad for her. I felt even worse for the people sitting next her, who did not know her and were now quickly becoming a part of the drama.  I personally was in flight heaven, because the middle seat in My row was empty. Once that was clear to me, I could deal with just about anything… so I thought.

 

Mah knees!

About an hour into the three-hour flight, the person in the seat in front of me decided to recline. This was not a gentle action, this was more of the action of an angry Hun who’s decided to lay back. If I hadn’t had anything on my tray table, it would’ve been game over. Another side effect of the ”Super 80 “ is that the seats were apparently designed to recline completely into somebody’s lap. Maybe things were more friendly back in the 1930s when these planes first took to the sky, but I was practically gaining a family member here. This did not deter her however, and we spent the rest of the flight like this. I have to admit, I was a bit annoyed around landing time, as the attendance did not have her put her seat up for landing. Now for me, it seems like if the seat is even slightly reclined they’re all over me like a pack of wild hyenas when it comes time to land.
So we made it on the ground safely, and as we’re getting ready to deplane, any sympathy I had for the lady that had been crying was lost. Now I was a sailor and supported the Army for a long time, but the string of obscenities coming from her mouth, very loudly, would’ve made a 1st Sergeant blush. There was a lady about two rows ahead of her who I’m pretty sure was filing her toothbrush down to a shiv so she could shank the lady as she walked by.  If looks could’ve killed, this lady would’ve been vaporized where she stood.

 

Not a bad view at all

Having survived this flight, I was able to move onto my next connection to San Francisco. This was mostly uneventful, with exception of the boarding. What was unusual was, the TSA was at the gate in force. They did an identification recheck on everyone boarding, Then as we went down the hall toward the plane, they had a dog sniffing every person, and Johnny McBigKnuckles standing at the end of the walkway. I’ve never been so intimidated by rubber gloves. This flight was on an Airbus 321, which was a world of difference. Everything is better on those planes including the in-flight entertainment.  Over the next four hours or so flying, I did watch the Deepwater Horizon movie and thought it was pretty good. We landed without incident, And I was able to find an Uber pretty quickly. The ride into town was mostly uneventful, with the exception of the driver who thought he was in some sort of race. Let me tell you, in the hills of San Francisco, a fast driver can give you all the butterflies in your belly you ever need.

 

First hotel I’ve been to with a glowing statue in my room

I’m staying in a very nice hotel called ”The W” in downtown San Francisco. It’s a very nice hotel, but a little more upscale than I’m comfortable with. I’m a blue-collar meeting potatoes sort of guy, in these folks are all refined and whatnot. On a plus note, my hotel room is full of booze, and a very interesting glowing Buddha.  At five bucks for a bottle of water, I can’t imagine how much they get for the Patron.

 

This bed was one of the more comfortable ones I’ve been in at hotels. My sleep was therefore fantastic and my dreams were filled with happy visions filled with the soft pink light of the glowing Buddha. I was up a bit early as expected due to the time change. I’m trying not to adjust since I’m only going to be here through tomorrow.

 

Today should be a lot of fun as I’m doing a very interactive talk. I really like the sorts of events. I look forward to sharing with you how my day goes tonight or tomorrow morning. Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

Welcome to “Stories From The Road”

Yea though I walk through the valley of flights, I fear no evil…

Well, that’s not exactly true. You see, I do a lot public speaking and therefore travel a lot. Some things do cause me some stress, maybe not exactly fear, but definitely stress.

Mostly this revolves around the fact that I am an airline snob. Yep, I will freely admit that when I fly, I place a high value on the experience. You see, I really hate the traveling part of travel. More specifically, I hate the flying. I’m not afraid to fly, but the experience is not pleasant or exciting for me. I love interacting with the people once I reach my destination, but until that point, I could do without the travel part.

I have decided to document my travels a bit because they can be pretty entertaining. Who knows, maybe we can even learn a thing or 2. Either way, I hope we can have some fun with this. These will be documented under the “Stories from the road” category.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss any of these future episodes, subscribe to this blog up on the top right and you can get notified of my updates via email.

Life on the Road – Cats, Cold and More

My job takes to a lot of places and I love that part of it. Seeing the country and gaining the experiences is something I love to do. There is an old saying about the journey being a big part of the fun. I cannot agree more.

Some of these travel posts are going to sound like complaining. I assure you, they are (probably) not. They are really about the funny stuff I get to see. It’s humorous story telling that may (or may not) embellish a tiny little bit. All of it is based in truth though, and only the details might be, um… “enhanced” a bit.

Having said that, let me give you a little background. I am an airline snob. I admit it. I don’t care much about the hotels I stay in, or the dinners I eat, but I do care about the airline experience. I hate being rushed, I am dismayed by the fact that people often revert to Lord of The Flies like behavior when it comes to air travel.

Take for example the carry on baggage rules. 1 personal item and 1 carry on item. The carry on item is limited in size (stuff it in this box over here and see), but the personal item seems to be magically unimpaired by size restrictions, or at least the rules are unknown and unenforced. I see folks with bags bigger than my checked bag going onboard as a “personal item”. The other thing is animals.

Get These @#&! animals off the @#&! Plane!

Yeah, there was a time when animals travelled in crates in the belly of the plane. Now, it seems, they are everywhere. Comfort dogs, pot-bellied pigs, and worst of all… CATS!

Now, I like cats, but folks, 30,000 ft and 600mph is no place for a feline. Southwest Airlines seems to gather more than it’s fair share of animals. Yesterday was a perfect example. I was going from Tampa to Columbus. I normally avoid Southwest when I can, as I hate the open seating thing, but it was the only direct flight. I get on board as part of the “A” group and take my customary window seat. This was about row 10. Now, with an entire plane full of empty seats, I am joined by a couple with a lovely blue carry-on containing a rather unhappy looking tabby. It’s eyes gleamed yellow out of the mesh on the ends of the soft-sided carrier. For some reason, it looked right at me, right in to my soul. I was scared. Terrified really. I believe my very life was being weighed by that creature (That was likely called something cute, like Fluffy, or Tom, or Mr. Tinkles). For a reason I have yet to understand, I believe the cat blamed me for its current predicament, and it wasn’t happy.

It looked meaner in person!

Why these people decided to sit beside me, in a barely filled plane is still beyond me, but I wasn’t going to move. I was trapped in my windows seat, and any chance of escape involved passing the pointy parts of the Hell-spawn in the seat beside me. I just tried to avoid eye contact.

Another thing that Southwest does well is cater to families. That means children, and children are magically attracted to my part of the plane (whatever part that happens to be), especially when they are going to act up. This was no exception. Little Tommy, (we will use that name) decided he wanted no part of the plane thing without fully exercising his well-developed lungs. When Tommy let loose, even Mr. Tinkles took notice! He was now even less thrilled than before. I began to fear for my life.

Fortunately, the rule says livestock must be stuffed under a seat for takeoff and landing. It seems nobody wants an angry, airborne murder-cat loose in the plane in the case of a rough takeoff/landing. Good idea! Mr. Tinkles got unceremoniously stuffed under the seat much to my relief, now he could only plot the destruction of my Achilles tendons rather than my throat. That was the good part.

The bad part, was that the cat decided to become… “musical” and join Tommy in a serenade of noise that no sound cancelling headphones can dampen. This continued on for most of the flight. Once the cat started, there was no “off” button. He did modulate between simple loud meows and “I’m caught in a blender” yowls, so we had that going for us.

By the time I hit Columbus, I was ready for the 5 degree weather if I could just get off the plane.

I am currently back in the airport waiting to board another tube-of-hades to return to Tampa. I ended up in a “B” boarding group, so I’m hoping for the best. I’ll let you know if the return goes off the rails.