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First Day At My Conference

Posted by on Oct 13, 2010

I’m not at home right now. I’m in Fort Lauderdale, FL, at the Annual National Institute of the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management. It’s a national organization for basically the people who bring money into either hospitals or physicians groups, or any other type of medical entity there is that has its own billing people. That’s a job I did for many years until going into business on my own, and I still consult in that field, of course. I’m also the local chapter’s president once more, so I’m down here at a conference in an official capacity, which earns me free passage to the conference other than paying to get here the hotel room.

I came in Tuesday, and actually it’s not the first day of the conference for everyone. I came in because there was board business to get to, and thus we had to be here a day earlier than everyone else. Still, it was an adventure on the day, so I’m going to talk about it.

The morning started at 4:25 with the alarm going off. My plane was leaving at 6AM, but it’s never crowded in the lines at the airport, so I figured I’d take a little bit more time than I normally would. I had also stayed up late trying to watch the football game, but I finally decided I needed at least 4 hours of sleep and took my silly self to sleep.

Got up, showered, put the last bits of things I wanted to bring with me together, and my wife and I finally leave for the airport, which is just over 10 minutes away; that’s pretty lucky. I check in easily enough, and then the first little snag hits; the bar that comes up on my suitcase so I can pull it around doesn’t want to go back down. So I’m standing there with the guy who’s waiting to xray the bag slamming down on this thing, and you know the last thing you want to do with any of these guys is have your bag look like there’s something wrong with it. I finally do get it down, though, and he just laughs; I hope it’s because he’s seen that before.

I go up the escalator to go to the gate and run into surprise number two; the line is long! Whoa; total miscalculation on my part! Now I start worrying a little bit; it’s 5:15, my plane leaves at 6, which means they’ll start boarding in about 20 minutes; ugh! But there’s nothing I can do so I just stand in line, and luckily someone comes in and opens a second line, and things start moving better. I’m carrying two things, my laptop and my CPAP for the first time; guess what they want to examine? Nothing I could do about that either, so I make it through the scanner without anything going off and take my time putting all my stuff back together until he brings my CPAP back to me, fine and dandy. I get to the gate just as they’re boarding the plane, and since they now load in zones I breathe a sign of relief that they haven’t gotten to my zone yet.

The first trip from Syracuse to Washington D. C. was fairly nondescript. I got to share my little row of seats with a very attractive young lady, but who’s in the mood to talk that early in the morning, right? I put on my headphones and listen to a book on my MP# while she falls asleep. The first trip took about 50 minutes, and then we had to wait outside the gate about 15 minutes because the plane arrived a bit ahead of schedule, and another plane was at our terminal. Once we finally get in I realize I have 50 minutes before the next flight; time to get something to eat.

Now, y’all know I’ve been on an eating plan (actually maybe you don’t), but it’s now a trip, and the doctor said if I went off my plan during my time away not to worry about it, just do what I can do. So what’s the first thing I see? Cinnabon! Yup, popped over there and got a cinnamon bun; yum! But I knew I needed some real food as well. There was a place called Five Guys, and they were serving egg sandwiches, and you could add a hamburger with it; do that bad boy! I ate my sandwich, then my cinnamon buns, and walked to my next gate, where five minutes later we loaded for the next flight, this one to Florida.

This time around I have an older gentleman next to me and I assume his wife, though I could be off on that one. It might have been his daughter; now that’s kind of scary. And his breath; oy! But there’s nothing one can do about that. Now, one thing I noticed on the first flight, and then again on this one, is how easily I can fit into the seats. Exercise and losing some inches is really working!

Get into Ft. Lauderdale and what hits me immediately is the humidity; it’s supposed to rain my entire time here off and on, and with the heat and the ocean it’s not the best combination for me. I go to baggage claim and my bag is the 4th one off the carousel; that’s never happened before. I want outside and ask for a cab and it’s there; wow, two for two. I just might make that noon meeting after all.

I get to my hotel, check in, and see I have 5 minutes to make it to the meeting. Man, I’m hungry, as it’s not 4 1/2 hours since I last ate. Nothing I can do about that, so I rush to the other hotel, since I’m not staying in the same hotel as the convention (why not? My hotel is costing me $79 a night; the other hotel would cost me $250 a night). I get there and can’t find anyone; turns out the thing doesn’t start until 1PM. Ah, time to find food.

I come back to my hotel, then realize their restaurant is gone; under renovations and won’t open until spring. This young lady tells me there’s a grill in the other building that serves lunch. I head over there, and the woman there tells me that because of the weather lunch is being served at the bar that I just walked past in the other building. I go back and the guy says they won’t start serving lunch until 1PM; what the hey? Nothing I can do but go to the other hotel to see what I can find there to eat.

Other hotel, a Marriott, has one thing open for lunch. Most of the food on the menu looked, well, yucky except for one thing; a hamburger. And that hamburger… $15! Talk about being a captive audience! I’m stuck, so I go in, order my hamburger, and then greet someone I know, who invites me to her table. I go there, finally get my burger, ask for mayo and the woman brings me two packets; I’m paying $15 for a burger and I get packets?

Finally I’m feeling good, and we head to the meeting. I find that they’ve put me on the legislative committee, which means we discuss which policy initiatives we’d like to present to government officials that can help us with medical billing issues throughout the country. My committee, led by someone else, debated this thing for more than 2 hours. I’m going along with the recommendation, even though I tend to think it won’t really solve our issues, but I’m not going to say what it is since it’s official business and not just my business.

Finally get out of that and the rest of the day is ours. I come to the hotel, hook up internet ($9.95 a day), turn on the TV and I’m watching Voyager while trying to do some things online. I learn there’s a Ruth Chris Steakhouse about 10 minutes away, so I call another friend down here and off we go in a cab for dinner. Man, I ate a lot, but it was worth it, since the nearest Ruth Chris to me at home is in NYC, 6 hours away.

I come back to the hotel feeling sluggish, and I decide I need to hit the treadmill. I do 40 minutes on the treadmill, sweating up a storm, come back to the room to watch poker, and the night is done.

I’m going to be here through Saturday, and I may not recount everything else like I did here. I did want to get a post in, though, so you know where I am if I skip another day. I want to relax some, work some, and finally try to see what this place is all about. I hope y’all are having a great week wherever you are.

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Enjoy your conference Mitch. Sounds like you enjoying the food so won’t ask what the blood sugar is….not for now anyway lol
Patricia Perth Australia

October 13th, 2010 | 9:54 AM

Thanks Pat. Actually, I can’t find my glucometer, and I’m hoping I didn’t leave it at home.

October 13th, 2010 | 12:28 PM

Enjoy your stay and I hope your conference wont occupy all your time and also I hope you wont get any more troubles in finding places to eat.

I saw a tweet about you packing your bags but I didn’t dare ask why :P.

The internet $9.95 a day whooww, are there no wireless hotspots nearby ?

October 13th, 2010 | 1:04 PM

They have a business center, but I’m much more comfortable doing stuff from my room than the back lobby area.

October 13th, 2010 | 1:28 PM
Althea Garner:

Whoa, Mitch! Humidity? Get OVER yourself, already! This is BEAUTIFUL weather – BEST time of year in Florida, from now till February! LOL! You should have been here 4 weeks ago – we couldn’t breathe!

Seriously, WELCOME [BIG welocme] TO BEAUTIFUL FLORIDA – we’re delighted to have you here! You’ll gather that folks are very friendly here and that’s before you meet me! [smile]

Conferences! The government part of any conference is always dreary, but depending on how involved you are (and I am VERY involved in mine) depends how interactive you need to be. You know me…. can’t keep my mouth shut for anyone or anything, so I am always very ‘interactive’! LOL!

I find that when I am on conference I walk for MANY MILES, doing what I normally do in a few steps. I have never yet remembered to take a pair of walking shoes with me (but I will, when you and I meet!) Sore feet always makes me cranky, for some reason.

Like you, I also prefer to take care of Internet business (and since I do most of my business online, there’s a lot!) in my room. $9.95 seems excessive for Internet – speak to your hotel manager – I usually pay about $5/day. At that price, it’s more worth your while to get T-Mobile for a month – otherwise find a Starbucks for free connectivity. We must stil make a seasoned traveler out of you!

Please remember that Florida residents don’t pay State tax, so ALL our State revenue comes from tourism and you are part of that! [sorry!] All the same, I hope that you enjoy Fort Lauderdale and that you will bring Robin back for a romantic [second, third, etc….] honeymoon – perhaps at the Keys. If anything appears to be sub-standard, please complain to management IMMEDIATELY. DON’T accept second best – ever – but least of all in Florida, where we pride ourselves on our tourism.

I hope to show you Las Olas Mall on Friday, which is world renowned (and expensive!) – dress down, wear walking shoes and don’t expect your hostess to be beautiful…. she’s old and doing the best she can!

See you on Friday!

October 13th, 2010 | 8:49 PM

Nope, it’s too hot and humid, and if it weren’t for conventions I probably wouldn’t come here at all. Remember, in CNY in the summer it’s too humid for me; y’all have the ocean, we have lots of lakes and rivers, and Liverpool was built on a swamp, which is kind of in my back yard. But we don’t have this year round, and getting the remnants of a hurricane doesn’t please me one bit either. I’ll take NY any day. lol

But we’re definitely going to have fun come Friday; can’t wait!

October 14th, 2010 | 3:45 AM

I am in nearly the same situation right now. I am going to Laos tonight. A bit exotic vacation. Never been there and always wanted to visit the place. It is really crazy because with about $1000 you become millionaire.

October 14th, 2010 | 2:30 AM

How far are you from Laos? I hear you can get good food there.

October 14th, 2010 | 3:47 AM

Yeah New York! Gotta love that snow (over hurricanes, tornado’s and earthquakes!)

Have a great time when you can sneak a little fun in!

October 14th, 2010 | 6:04 AM

Carolee, this is the first conference in 10 years of going that I’ve actually had any real fun. The last two days have been a blast, and I have one more day that I know is going to turn out that way as well.

October 14th, 2010 | 5:51 PM

I like the food they serve at conferences. It’s usually sophisticated food (in small amounts of course), and gourmet desserts. Yummy!

October 14th, 2010 | 6:11 AM

Mia, I don’t like sophisticated food. Anything I don’t recognize, I’m not eating. That plus I don’t eat food that fights back.

October 14th, 2010 | 5:52 PM

I laughed at this:

“Iā€™m paying $15 for a burger and I get packets?” I’ve said the same thing about salad dressing. No matter how high the prices or how nice the restaurant, packets make it all look like fast food.

I hope you enjoy the rest of the trip. Get home safely!

October 14th, 2010 | 12:49 PM

Exactly Charles. Packets; what the heck is that?

October 14th, 2010 | 5:52 PM

You know a couple of years ago I got certified in medical billing and entertained the idea of freelancing but never followed through with it? I guess blogging took over.

Nice room and as my Granny says beige and blue go well together especially complimenting the beach and sand outside. And that flatscreen is screaming “Watch me!”

October 14th, 2010 | 4:59 PM

Caleb, I have to admit that this is the first quality room I’ve had in the 3 times I’ve come down here. It’s also the first time I’m NOT facing the ocean, which is partially a drag, but I’ll take the niceness over the sandy beaches and (sigh) free bikini shots any day. lol

October 14th, 2010 | 5:53 PM

All I heard was Ruth’s Chris which I absolutely love their steak. I never had a Cinnabon out of one of their stores/kiosks but I did try the ones they have in the store now in the refrigerated section. They are awesome. I noticed when I travel I do eat a lot for some reason. Have fun Mitch.

October 15th, 2010 | 10:33 AM

Thanks Karen. The convention is officially over now, so I have to figure out what I’m doing with myself my last night here.

October 15th, 2010 | 5:42 PM

Karen, I love Ruth Chris myself, but I always get their one chicken meal. Not only is it wonderful, but you can’t get it anywhere else, whereas I can get a steak anywhere.

October 16th, 2010 | 1:10 AM