Last Saturday, I took the dogs to the kennel and hit the road to DEN for a flight.
Since, oh, 2005 or so, I've been a fairly regular speaker at the Texas EMS Conference, which rotates between Austin, Fort Worth, and Dallas (the first two being the most frequent). I'm fortunate to count among my friends two members of the conference staff, and they've made it known, if not in so many words, that if I "submit something interesting, it will be selected".
So then, the challenge is on me: Come up with something new and interesting.
At any rate, I've been avoiding submitting for the past 5 years or so... I have been out of clinical medicine for so long, I don't feel like I have the credibility to speak on clinical topics. Plus, in the years past, any spare money I happened to have was given to the wife for child raising expenses, and coughing up a spare thousand dollars or so to go to the conference simply was not going to happen.
But this year, I send in a couple proposals, and was selected for one of them: "Data Security in EMS".
Thus, on Saturday, I caught a flight from DEN to DFW. We were delayed getting airborne due to some freezing rain that was falling, necessitating the plane getting de-iced. But eventually we took off, landed without incident 2 hours later, and my close friend Brian picked me up at the airport. He offered to let me stay at his place on Saturday, so in return I picked up the tab for some sushi dinner and a couple beers. We sat up somewhat late, catching up, shooting the bull, etc.
Sunday, Brian dropped me off at a local cafe on his way to work, and I had a late breakfast (brunch, really) and then caught an Uber ride to DFW to meet friends Larry and his wife Kris, where we all three shared another Uber ride to the Fort Worth Hilton. Here we met up with Gary, Jules, Donn, Kelly, the Other Gary, Stu, and a slew of other friends. Got checked into the hotel, went over to get our conference credentials, did a short walk around the exhibit hall, and found a quiet spot for a few pints. Donn was set up in the JFK Suite -- The Fort Worth Hilton is where President Kennedy spent his last night before he was assassinated, and Donn had reserved the Presidential Suite for the duration of the conference, so we all used that as a base camp for socializing.
Sunday evening found us at The Capital Grille, a rather upscale place just adjacent to the hotel, and we feasted on some amazing food. I had an appetizer of prosciutto wrapped mozzarella served with crostini bread, a porcini rubbed one in ribeye with 15 year aged balsamic, grilled asparagus with lemon mosto, and a couple glasses of wine.
I saw the prices on the menu, and while I knew this was going to blow my food budget out of the water, the simple fact was that I did not care.
This steak was DIVINE.
Y'all, I was able to cut it with my fork.
So, yeah, that dinner set me back about $140 all said and done, but sometimes a man has to treat himself.
Turned in early Sunday, and got up Monday to give my presentation. It went well, and I had some good audience interaction/participation -- from the few folks that showed up. I estimated around 35 people, which was disappointing, but IT and Data Security isn't exactly an exciting topic, and we are talking about high-speed low-drag adrenaline junkies here, right?
After my session ended, I grabbed some lunch, watched a few presentations from other friends, and we eventually found ourselves back at the JFK Suite for drinks. Most of us went to Riscky's for barbecue, which was acceptable (decent, not great, but it was affordable and in walking distance), and then a handful of us went to Pete's Dueling Piano Bar for some singalong fun and last beers.
Tuesday, the rest of my crew had classes to give or attend, but I had to head home. I called for yet another Uber car, made it to DFW, and hopped a flight home. After getting to DEN and collecting my bag, was but a short drive back home, where I got my dogs, unpacked, and fell asleep around 9pm, totally wiped out.
It was a good time, and it's always nice to see my people.
Thank you to the Texas EMS Conference for having me, and thanks to the wonderful City of Fort Worth for hosting us. See ya next year.