Monday, June 26, 2000

I got up at 7:00 to check out the fitness center. I dressed and made my way to the fifth floor. Once in the fitness center, I was approached by a young woman who works there. She told me that it would cost $18 per day to use the center. My jaw must have dropped, because she followed up with "We do have three- and five-day passes." I asked how much the 5-day pass is. $72. I told her that was more than I wanted to pay and walked out.

I got my workout by going up and down the stairwell for a total of fifty stories, ten floors at a time. Then some sit-ups, push-ups and stretching in the room. I then showered and dressed for breakfast, again in the hotel restaurant. Coffee, juice, cereal, fruit, and a croissant cost $13.

Back at the room, I packed up my laptop bag and headed down to the lobby. Bob was waiting for me, and we hopped in a waiting cab for the convention center. We arrived with a $5 fare. I told the cabby to add a dollar and handed him a twenty. He asked if I had anything smaller, but I didn't. He gave me $15 in change, missing his tip for lack of ones.

We headed into the Jacob K. Javits convention center, found the booth where I got my Exhibitor's badge, found the booth where I got our badge reader for lead collection, then found the Palm pavilion. What a madhouse! None of the demo stations were set up or wired. Electric workers were everywhere, hooking things up. It would be at least an hour before we could set up our station. We found a place to sit and started configuring my laptop for the demos.

An hour later, we checked again, to find that almost nothing had happened with our station. There was an electrician working on the station, but he said he was going to lunch in 15 minutes. When I asked how long he thought it would be before the work was done, he said, "About 20 minutes. But then the network guy has to do his work. I don't do that 'cause it's 'outside the house.'" I love unions. I noticed he was planning to go on lunch break with five minutes of work left on my station, too.

I asked Kelly, our contact at Palm, what we should do. She asked if we had any giveaways or data sheets. We did, and I knew they were shipped to the show from Scottsdale. Kelly would check her storage areas for them, but advised us to check with the show's freight department, too. We decided to check on the station set-up again after lunch.

Nothing had changed after lunch, so we kept sitting around, working on our spiel for the show, making sure the database was set up properly, periodically checking on the demo station. At 2:00, we were really getting hot where we were sitting. We decided that we wouldn't need much time to set up once the station was ready, so we headed off in search of a cool place to wait. We found coolness in the food court on the lowest level of the convention center. We cooled our heels there for a couple of hours, periodically getting up to walk around.

Then, at 4:00, we went back to the Palm pavilion. It was still a shambles, but our station appeared to be set up. There was a small counter with a cabinet underneath, and a work-surface extending from it. We would set up our badge reader on the counter, and store our extra giveaways in the cabinet. Above the station was a 37" Hitachi flat-panel display that we could hook up to the laptop to demonstrate ACT!. There was also a miniature camera that we could aim at the Palm device to display it on the flat-panel screen. We tested the system by setting up the laptop and the Palm cradle, and everything worked.

We played with our system for a while, then took it down just before 5:00, in time for our booth meeting. The meeting consisted of a pep rally from the Palm team and a demonstration of the videos they would be showing in various places in the pavilion during the expo. After that, we were given some guidelines on what to do for press people, and generally what to do and what not to do during the show. There were also hors d'oeuvres and drinks. By 5:30, we were out of the convention center and trying to hail a cab.

There was a twenty-something woman standing on the same corner as us, also trying to get a cab. She had been there before us, so I asked if she was going anywhere near the Hilton. She didn't know, but thought she was going in that direction. She offered to share her cab with us. Right then, a cab pulled up, and Bob and I got in with the woman. She got out at a department store, and gave me a $5 bill (the meter read $6.20 by then). We then headed for the hotel and got there with only $8.50 on the meter. I gave the cabby a ten, figuring we had gotten a pretty good deal out of the ride.

Across the street from the hotel where hundreds of protesters with signs saying things like "George Bush = George Wallace" and "Murderer! 136 down, 19 to go." We didn't know it at the time, but George W. Bush was staying at our hotel that night. I decided to get a picture of the protesters. As I pulled the camera out, I dropped it on the sidewalk. The batteries popped out when the camera bounced off the concrete. Cringing, I scooped it all up, stuffed the batteries back in, and turned it on. It worked! I took a couple of pictures, then headed inside.

Bob had tickets to Cats, so he quickly went to change. I hadn't made plans, but decided to check out the Empire State Building. It is within walking distance from the Hilton, and I got there around 9:00pm. I stood in line for tickets, then stood in line for the elevator that took us to the 80th floor. Then another line for the elevator that took us to the 86th floor. That's where the lower observation deck is. There is another deck on the 102nd floor, but it was closed for renovation.

The view was pretty good, even though it was a little hazy. All I could see was lights from buildings and traffic for miles around. I spent about 30 minutes wandering around, looking at New York at night, and taking pictures. Then I headed for the exit. Back at street level, I walked the eleven blocks to the hotel, then fell into bed.


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