Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Convention Part 3: Days 2 and 3; then HOME!

[For bloggers who have not followed this series, you may be interested in Hot Springs National Park Convention-Part 1: Arrival and Convention Part 2: Dining with the Wined and Soused for history and background so I am not redundant to regular readers.]

After the disappointing opening night dinner with the wined and soused, I looked forward to the next day's activities, especially the afternoon workshops on various topics of interest for local government officials.

The day began with a breakfast buffet of traditional, not necessarily healthy, selections: bacon, sausage, giant biscuits [with gravy, butter or jelly]YUM! YUM!, sausage, fresh fruit, orange juice, milk and coffee. Breakfast was served in the exhibit area, so the exhibitors had a captive audience.

Exhibits were goods and services local governments need or use. Exhibitors had drawings for WalMart gift cards, free pens and other advertising gizmos to attract us to their exhibit. I collected many free pens and signed up for many WalMart gift cards, but did not win anything. I collected a unique paper clip dispenser, paper pads, and two coasters for cups or glasses.

The morning assembly consisted of Arkansas Municipal League (AML) and state legislative agenda reports of interest to local governments. Although somewhat tedious, these reports often have a few morsels and tidbits for every city, large or small. My city has issues with fireworks and dilapidated housing, topics of which there was new legislation.

Following the morning sessions, there was a luncheon for past AML presidents which we attended. MORE FOOD: chicken breast, rice, spinach salad, roasted vegetables, huge roll and butter, chocolate bundt cake, coffee, tea and water.

The afternoon was fun. There were three workshop sessions; each session had six topics. I chose Land issues (my friend was a speaker), How to Avoid Dumb Mistakes as a City Official (really funny), and Parks and Recreation Ideas.

The Dumb Mistakes was a staged telephone conversation between a Mayor and an AML attorney. Most of the scenarios I already knew. I learned that Arkansas does not have a nepotism law (but my little city does). The big mistake city officials make is they act, assuming they know the law, and then call for verification or legal advice after the fact. Usually someone has questioned their actions!

Following the workshop sessions there was a buffet and happy hour sponsored by two entities, one of which was ENTERGY which supplies electricity to a large area of Arkansas. I can't begin to list all the finger foods and drinks available in two locations. I had coconut chicken bites, fresh fruit, a yummy lemon square I shared with my friend, and Coca Cola-no diet drinks available and I avoided the alcoholic route. We avoided our table companions of the previous night.

We both were tired so we left this function early, even though Ronnie McDowell was to perform country and western music. McDowell is a Elvis Impersonator, but a vocalist and musician in his own right. Here is a YOU TUBE video link of his Elvis impersonation and another of his own work .

Following the concert, at 9 p.m., there was dessert and cordials buffet. We were just too tired to participate, even though desserts were certainly tempting.

We decided to rest and people-watch on the indoor mezzanine of the historic Arlington Hotel.

On the third day of convention we had two morning assembly sessions following another buffet breakfast. These sessions were AML financial reports and availability of federal stimulus monies. The latter was disappointing as second class cities were obviously excluded by provisions.

Most stimulus funds required "shovel ready" project plans. This means detailed plans which require civil engineer reports and other information. Small cities do not have funding for preparation of projects which may never see fruition.

The morning session was followed an awards luncheon, the final event of the convention. Menu: baked catfish, potatoes, lettuce salad, coffee, tea, apple pie, carrot cake. I tanked up on coffee as I had a 4-hour drive home.

The drive home was uneventful. I was fortunate to beat the Friday 3:30 - 4 p.m. exodus out of Little Rock, the capitol city of Arkansas.

At my age these events are somewhat stressful even though I always gain useful knowledge. It will take the weekend plus a few days to energize myself again.

So I repeat the opening sentence of this 3-part series:
"Arriving home after conventions is a pleasure and relief--something about the relaxed, safe sanctuary of home once more!"

[I had another photo I took of my convention goodies, but it kept posting as if I rotated it 90 deg. to left, which I did not. I took it in landscape mode with my camera and only edited for picture quality. If you have had a similar problem and solved it let me know. I have reduced size and tried several settings. Guess I am just a nitwit!]


Arkansas Patti said...

Holy Moly, I gained 5 pounds just reading this.
I can only be good if not tempted. Love your dispenser, such a cheerful fellow. I haven't heard Ronnie McDowell in years. thanks for the link.Sorry you didn't get to see him.
Kick back now and relax. You have earned it.

NitWit1 said...

When I arrived home Friday and hopped on scales, it showed 2.5 lbs. However, I buckled down and got down to 1 lb. today, Weds. which is weigh-in day for me.

They certainly feed well. I will say the desserts were small, as they really should be.

Liz said...

No place like home is very true.

Please post a photo of biscuits and gravy. I don't understand what biscuits are or how you'd have gravy for breakfast. Please explain.

Sweetie Pie said...

The seminar about dumb mistakes does sound like fun!

You certainly had a very busy time, and, an Arkansas summer alone is enough to leave a person pooped! I hope you are resting up and recharging!

Biscuits and gravy could easily do me in! Especially if the gravy is of the sausage variety OR the chocolate variety. Chocolate gravy is one of my favorite Arkansas foods EVER!!