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Alice's Restaurant: Technology failure circa 1965

As seems to be the case nationwide, the local classic rock radio station has a long tradition of  filling up its Thanksgiving playlist with the Arlo Guthrie’s brilliant, comic, 18 1/2 minute ode to hippie sensibilities, “Alice’s Restaurant“. Although I’ve listened many times over the years, it wasn’t until recently that I realized the song’s lyrics/monologue convey an important lesson about making sure your technology will work as expected before your presentation is due to begin.

We walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, sat down. Man came in said, “All rise.” We all stood up, and Obie stood up with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures, and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog, and he sat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing eye dog, and then at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog. And then at twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and began to cry, ’cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American blind justice, and there wasn’t nothing he could do about it, and the judge wasn’t going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. And we was fined $50 and had to pick up the garbage in the snow, but thats not what I came to tell you about.

If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and listen to the entire song. The text alone, without the music and without Arlo’s dry, satiric delivery doesn’t do it justice.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey Days

Do you expect to be attending any important business meetings in the United States this coming Thursday or Friday?

©iStockphoto.com/Suzifoo

I didn’t think so. It’s safe to say a that large percentage of my readers are expecting to spend this Thursday (Thanksgiving) through Sunday eating, drinking, shopping and hanging out with family and friends.

However, say you had absolutely no choice but to hold a meeting this Friday due to extremely desperate circumstances. Perhaps there is emergent fallout from a worldwide economic crisis that has to be dealt with immediately. Unfortunately, this situation isn’t as unusual as it once was.

Needless to say, it’s not out of the question that a meeting could take place over the Thanksgiving holiday. BUT, you can be absolutely certain that an experienced meeting planner will take the date into account and will make special plans to ensure things go smoothly. For instance, chartered flights might be used rather than commercial airlines. Special arrangements might need to be made for accommodations due to all local hotels being booked solid. Arrangements that would ordinarily be considered routine and low risk might need to have several levels of backup just to be certain everyone is where they need to be when they need to be there.

What about other dates that are equally disruptive but aren’t as well know as Thanksgiving? For instance local holidays or events.

I was once involved with preparing a presentation for a major meeting mandated by a federal agency that just happened to be slated to take place in early Spring in Washington, DC. Imagine our surprise when we discover that it was virtually impossible to find enough hotel rooms for our entire team. It turns out our meeting was taking place right in the middle of a little local event know as the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

“More than 700,000 people visit Washington each year to admire the blossoming cherry trees that herald the beginning of spring in the nation’s capital.”

We ended up staying in the far suburbs at a non-preferred hotel and had to make special arrangements to be sure we all got to the actual venue on time for the meeting. If I remember correctly, these arrangements included a very early morning departure and a massively unpopular boxed breakfast on the bus. Overall the meeting was a success but I can’t say for sure that we arrived primed to reach peak performance levels.

We saw the cherry blossoms through the bus windows on the way into and out of town and, believe it or not, we found them less than charming.

Just to be on the safe side, if you are planning a big meeting or giving a high-stakes presentation, check well in advance to see if there are any local “turkey days” that might have an impact on you calendar decisions, travel arrangements or the way you prepare to present. This is especially important if you will be depending on local resources to help create presentation materials or if you need a lot of hotel rooms.

Hope you all have a great holiday. I’ll be back on Sunday with this week’s Might Have Missed List. The only venue-related planning I’m going to be doing this week is figuring out how to claim the comfiest chair in my sister’s living room after doing serious damage to a turkey day dinner.

Related resource:

HotelChatter — Stranded at the Airport Over Thanksgiving? Check-In At These Hotels

Your turn:

Are there any local events or holidays where you are located that might have an negative impact on a meeting or on someone’s ability to present that aren’t well know outside of the immeadiate area? Have you ever fell victim to one of these local events or holidays? Have you ever seen the cherry blossoms in DC?