Monday, December 04, 2006

P.E.’s C.E.’s and MOI!

I have a horrible disease. It got me into a LOT of trouble as a kid. Unfortunately it’s not one of those childhood things that you can outgrow. What’s my disease? “Gotta-know-itis”. It’s symptoms, among others, include reading literature that you barely understand, listening in on other peoples conversations, and enjoying attending conferences. In fact, I am so badly infected, I wish I could be paid to attend conferences. Not because they’re always well developed, thoughtfully planned out, and informative – but because I can usually learn something from any conference.

On Friday I flew into Nashville to help a friend do some client entertainment and marketing. In a totally different field than I work in, a really, really different field. Engineering to be precise. (Let us pause for a moment to consider the absurdity of MitMoi, who cannot measure – or add, or subtract, working on a marketing project with Engineers. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, okay back to the topic with a straight face) . So I landed, grabbed my rental car, buzzed over to the hotel, checked in, and went down to the conference. Now, this is NOT what my traveling companion (heretofore referred to at T.C.) EXPECTED.

Apparently I was to sit in said hotel room and surf the net, read my book, or do business until the conference ended. Of course my Gotta-know-itis would not settle for any of those options. Happily I trotted downstairs to the conference room and settled in next to T.C. The topic of this seminar? Engineering Liability, specifically the course was entitled, “Liability of Engineers: How to Stay Out of Trouble”. Are you yawning already? Eyes rolling into the back of your head? Well not me! I thought it was fascinating. The presenter was a lawyer from New Jersey. His undergraduate degree was from Princeton Engineering and he received his law degree from BU. (Boston University, not Boise).

What I found interesting was “I” knew some of the answers to the segments I sat in on which were, “Documentation and Why It’s Critical” and “Dispute Resolution Options and their Benefits over Litigation”. (Which I would hope most sentient human being would also know.) Of course, I wasn’t entirely accurate above when I said I knew NOTHING about this industry. My first job out of college was working for one of the 10 biggest Architecture/Engineering/Planning firms in the US. Albeit as a receptionist and helping out in the marketing department.

Another thing I enjoyed was watching the presenter. I wanted to see if he’d captivated the audience. And, if so, what caught their attention and what lost it. Did he have any tools/tricks I could use in my own seminars. (Answer – no – his presentation was boring and stale and depended on an OVERHEAD projector and a flip chart for making lists. Can you say, “Get current?”)

When the conference ended we headed down the street and to music row. Had a drink and appetizer (lunch for me) at Bailey’s, wandered over to The Stage at Broadway and then strolled to Legends on the Corner and took in another live act. It was early in the evening – so the acts were passable, but nothing to keep us out much longer.

Then came the GOOD part. I chose where we had dinner. If any of you live in Nashville, or will be attending a conference in Nashville, I highly recommend the following restaurants.

F. Scotts Our dinner reservation wasn’t until 8:30 pm, but we arrived around 6:30, hoping to be seated earlier if something came about. It didn’t but we completely enjoyed ourselves as we sat in the lounge and listened to John Birdsong – an outstanding upright bassist play. While we waited for our table we indulged in Martini’s (T.C.) and red wine (moi, because I’d already had 2 scotches out on music row and didn’t want to become unhinged). Plus we started with an appetizer and a soup. The Artisanal Charcuterie Plate was amazing. There was a duck pate, with a piece of smoked duck beast embedded in the pate, wild bore sausage served on a toast point with homemade mustard, and some liver mousiline with itty-bitty cochons.

Suffice it to say dinner was outstanding. T.C. had the Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Foie Gras Wine Reduction, with Creamed Spinach Roasted Garlic Potato Purée and I had Smoked Long Island Duck Breast, Wild Mushroom Carnaroli Risotto, Brussels Sprouts, Port Reduction – because I am a fool for duck.

Saturday we were up and at-‘em pretty early. No, really. We were on the road and on our way to Lynchburg by 9 o’clock. It was a fairly uninteresting drive, if you don’t count the discussion about the merits of maps vs. Google driving directions. Eleven o’clock saw us entering the Jack Daniels Distillery You can find me somewhere in this picture! It was a fun tour, and I would recommend it to anyone, except the following:

  • The hung-over

  • The pregnant

  • Those wishing to sample the product

    Notice the last item? Yep you read that right. Crazy Tennessee. Moore County, the county who’s main economic backbone is the distillery is DRY. As in you cannot buy or serve alcohol for purchased in this county. However, with a specially passed referendum in the mid-nineties the distillery can now SELL their product – only at the distillery.

    We toured, we pictured, we laughed, I flirted with the tour guide – come on, he was this cute gray-haired, flinty eyed man in his 70’s, and we purchased a case of the “product”. After the tour we stopped in Lynchburg for lunch, watched the Christmas parade – all 15 entries, and then returned to our hotel in Nahsville.

    I lied. We didn’t return directly to the hotel in Nashville. One of my co-workers had suggested we stop by the Grand Ole Opry to see the Christmas decorations. We drove to the exit of the Opry Mills – and I quickly decided there was nothing in this world that necessitated me sitting in traffic for a ½ an hour to get to a parking space so I could fight more people to see a bunch of lights. T.C. took one look at the traffic and told me if I wanted to traverse it, that was fine, but he was opening up the “product” right then and there! Needless to say, we scooted on to our hotel and consumed a little of Jack’s finest before meeting up with the clients and dinning.

    Dinner Saturday night was at Café Margot’s. It was another wonderful meal. I … ate, and drank. Hmmm, now what did we eat and drink? It's all kind of a blur at the moment. I know what we started out drinking, a lovely house Pinot Noir. And for appetizers we shared homemade potato chips with Gorgonzola dipping sauce, Oyster Stew (yummy, yummy) and an aged blue cheese with candied kumquats.

    For main courses one of the clients had scallops, two of us had duck, and T.C. had a beef tenderloin. It was all amazing. As was the two bottles of La Roncaia, Il Fusco, Veneto we (I) ordered to accompany our meals.

    Not only was the food and wine terrific, but the clients were witty and entertaining, and our waitress was THE BEST. She read the mood of the table well, knew when to intrude and when to delay our plates just a little longer. She also was a very good sport when T.C. tried to buy her earrings off of her! Repeatedly. Stretching his bid to $500.00 dollars, and yet she still gracefully turned it down.

    Sunday T.C. and I jumped on the plane to our separate destinations – and I slept through both legs of my flight, a very unusual circumstance for me. Yet another instance of old age showing up. Without 8 hours of beauty sleep, I am toast.

    Hopefully some more business will develop from this start, but I must say, P.E.’s, C.E.’s and Moi aren’t so bad together.

  • 1 comment:

    JMom said...

    Sounds like a great trip, especially food wise! I'm the same way about conferences. I like attending them, even though I have no idea what some of them are all about most of the times. I even attend grand rounds and I'm not a doctor. lol! Like you, I like people watching.