Thursday, March 10, 2005

New York Newbie

This week was my first client engagement in my new job at Flatirons Solutions. Our client: McGraw-Hill Education in New York City!

I flew out on Sunday with our Chief Technical Officer, Eric Severson. He’s an amazing guy with years of experience dating back to the SGML days. He started his own company, Avalanche, was a VP at Interleaf, then at IBM, and now a founder of Flatirons Solutions. He worked on the CALS Table Model, and was a President of SGML Open and OASIS. I’m trying to learn as much as I can from him.

We cabbed in from La Guardia, and got to our hotel which was in the middle of Manhattan, and I mean in the middle! In one direction, I could walk to Times Square, in another to Madison Square Garden and the Empire State Building, and in another, Grand Central Station.

Here's the view from the hotel room:

I’m only disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to visit the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, see a show on Broadway, visit Trump Tower or visit the site of the 9/11 terror attack.

I also didn’t get to see the Hudson River, but did have meetings in the Hudson conference room! :-)

I tried to get as good of a taste of New York City as possible, and our host Ed was a splendid guide! Our first day for lunch was at a terrific sandwich shop. I had an Italian muffaletta and a cup of gumbo. For dinner, we met with our Documentum rep, Gary, at City Crab. I’m not a big seafood eater, but the jumbo fried shrimp and chopped salad was just great!

The next day started out rainy (gotta remember an umbrella next time), then was a blizzard of snow at lunch (gotta remember my USAF trench coat next time), and howling freezing wind by dinner (gotta remember a hat and gloves next time)!

For lunch, we went to The Stage Door deli and had an awesome hot pastrami and some of the best pickles I’ve ever had. For dinner, I was able to meet up with my college roomie and good friend Danny.

I was supposed to meet Danny at Grand Central Station, but couldn’t get a cab outside of Madison Square Garden (where our client meetings were), so I thought I’d start walking toward Times Square and hail one on the way. Because of the bitter cold and driving wind, it was next to impossible. I got all the way to Times Square, took a few pictures, and finally got a cab. I told him Grand Central Station, and he said I was headed the wrong direction. Well, I’m a noob. What can I say? :-)

When I finally met up with Danny, he had made reservations at Becco over near the theater district. So, we walked basically all the way back to Times Square and Broadway, and had to resort to buying some knit caps in the Fashion District on the way.

At Becco, we had a great 3 pasta continuous serving, and a very interesting black currant martini, and a delicious dessert sampler, including New York Cheesecake, gelato, custard, and chocolate mousse.

We hailed a cab back to my hotel, and Danny went on to Grand Central to catch a train home. What a fun time!

For lunch the next day, we went to a great little Greek place with the best Gyro I’ve had in a long time. It was huge, with lots of lamb and sauce. I should’ve gotten the Greek salad version though; it would’ve been a lot less messy, especially eating in the conference room.

We had a really long day, from 9 to 9, and then Eric and I went to Tir na Nog, a really neat Irish pub across from the Garden. I decided to order a New York strip steak, and it was great. Our hostess was from Northern Ireland and I had a Harp lager, so we really experienced Ireland!

For lunch the next day we went to Gray’s Papaya – home of the best hot dogs in NYC. The price is right, and the papaya drink was marvelous to wash down the three dogs…

After the meetings, it was off to La Guardia again. We may have left a little too late, because I got to experience the New York traffic jam. We still made it to the plane with plenty of time to spare, even with a really long line at security.

I’m definitely glad to be home again. While we had some very interesting meetings with a great group of folks, I missed my wife and kids terribly. And besides that, I got to spend about 2 hours with my wife for our 9th anniversary! (Happy Anniversary, babe!)

Thanks, New York!

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