Sunday, March 24, 2002

I'm back from SLC, after a roller-coaster landing and crazy cab ride home from the airport yesterday. I'm happy to be back on land and not flying for a while.

I was busy drinking at Port o' Call Wednesday and Thursday nights, so I forgot to update the blog.

Wednesday evening was the Styx concert. I'm going to re-post my comments from an earlier e-mail I sent to a few people:
It was an excellent show. They played everything from Styx Classics 15, except for "The Best of Times," "Babe," "Mr. Roboto" (actually a quick interlude of it, but only about 5 seconds), and "Don't Let It End." They did a few other songs I didn't recognize, but since I realized several years ago that songs like "Come Sail Away" and "Too Much Time On My Hands" are better than their later stuff, I went away happy. There are only two original members left, James "JY" Young and Tommy Shaw, but the band sounded just the same. In particular, the guy who replaced Dennis DeYoung sounds just like him, only without the rock opera pretentions. They are old, but they did a high-energy show and the crowd seemed to be into it. There were no assigned seats, so I was about 15 rows back from the stage, 2 rows up from the floor and I had a great view. I got a few decent pictures with my digital camera, too. All the songs were great, and it's hard to pick a favorite, but I think I did the most air guitar and spastic body movements to "Come Sail Away" and "Too Much Time on My Hands." Overall, I had an fantastic time.

Thursday evening was Meet the Experts, which would have been more useful to me if I'd come with a list of questions to ask. Since I didn't have too many issues to bug anyone about, I used the time to compliment the people who represented the technologies we use and like. Some of them were pleasantly surprised that I didn't have a complaint or loudly take them to task for making something that didn't work. I suppose that's what most other people used the time for: to abuse the people who can help them. I don't know if I made any sort of an impression, but over the course of the conference I made a few contacts that may turn out to be helpful later on.

On Friday afternoon, the conference ended at 4:30 PM, so I had a chance to sightsee and take pictures. I went to Temple Square and took the half-hour tour along with another family, given by two Mormon missionaries. The tour left me feeling creeped out and a little dirty. The tour guides were pleasant and not overtly "conversionary," but they did use the tour and the exhibits to tell us about their faith. I was impressed with the size of the temple (enormous) and the Tabernacle (much smaller than it looks on TV) and the architecture was fascinating. Also, the entire Square was peaceful and seemed like a great place to sit and reflect. OTOH, they asked us to fill out comment cards with our names and addresses (I used my work address) and invited us to ask for more information or our own copy of the Book of Mormon. Of course, I politely refused and got the heck out of there. I had to keep reminding myself that their beliefs are no stranger than mine, that the idea of Joseph Smith being the only one who could translate the golden plates that became the Book of Mormon is no weirder than the ten plagues on Egypt or the parting of the Red Sea.

On Friday night, Jeannine, Amy (Jeannine's friend) and I went to the Wagonmaster Steak House, south of SLC. Jeannine found out about the place at the Salt Palace visitors' center. The interior of the restaurant was designed like a old West town, and all the tables were booths set up as covered wagons. They even had a few guys dressed as cowboys and marshals who had a little shootout. The food was OK, but the steak wasn't anything special. The best thing I can say about is that the steak tasted much better after I dumped A1 sauce on it.

And that was about it. I'm happy to be back home. Liz and I are settling in to watch the Oscars. This year's bet is that the winner gets to take the loser out for a day of whatever the winner wants to do. I won last year, but I'm not too confident about my picks this time. It should be a fun night anyway.

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