Of course the inevitable happened. Went to sleep at 9pm and I woke up for the first time at 1:45am. The fact that was phone was vibrating because someone was calling me from SA didn’t help but I suspect I was waking up anyway. I forced myself to try and sleep for another few hours and dosed on and off until at 4am I eventually gave up and started clearing emails on my blackberry. It was going to be a long day because I had meetings until 7pm and then a dinner straight after that as well. At 7am I was starving and so headed down for breakfast. Of course breakfast choices are unlimited. You could do an a la carte breakfast (with about 20 choices) or go buffet (with 3 choices). I must have looked confused because the waitress made a suggestion what I should do and that is what I did. And you never have to worry about going hungry in America because you know that whatever choice you make, the plate is going to big and full. The best part of breakfast was the bacon (Apple smoked) – I just had visions of Michael loading up his plate and only eating bacon. At the end of breakfast the waitress said that I could have a “coffee to go” if I wanted it (that was after I already had 2 mugs). I declined but I probably should have accepted as I needed all the caffeine I could get.
I had the rest of the morning free as my first meeting was at 2pm. I spent the morning working but at about 11:30 I had such a splitting headache I took some painkillers and lay down and got an hour’s sleep (which I reckon was a real winner to enable me to get through the rest of the day). I had my first IAA (International Actuarial Association) meeting at 2pm. Half way through the meeting a sent a text message to one of the other South Africans at the meeting which said “If I have to attend these meetings twice a year for the next four years I might commit suicide”. It was incredibly boring and tedious. Think of the worst meeting you have ever been to and then multiply that by 2! It started with a spanish speaking person presenting telephonically from Washington. That was followed by a presentation from a French speaking gentlemen from Togo. As French is an official language of the IAA (who knows why), the chairman repeatedly invited him to do his presentation in French. I thought once was being polite but he almost insisted. Fortunately the man didn’t take him up but one of the other members did the presentation in English. It was still bad and I caught myself wondering what it would have been like in French.
I was sitting next to a gentleman from Japan who slept though the whole meeting. At once stage he was so deep in sleep that I thought he was going to fall off his chair and against me. Fortunately he woke up and caught himself just at that moment. I have never seen anyone sleep through a meeting like that before. I had a lot of respect for him at the end of the meeting because if I could have fallen asleep as unashamedly as that I might have made it through the meeting a lot less painfully. I have made a mental note not to ever attend that meeting again. Themba (the President of the Actuarial Society of SA currently) left at the tea break and afterwards told me that you only make the mistake once of staying after tea! I thanked him for warning me (I will get him back still).
After that meeting we had a 6pm meeting lined up with the Canadians. Fortunately they didn’t speak French through that meeting (though 3 of the 4 of them were French speaking). After that we had dinner lined up with the other South Africans present in LA. We went to ‘The Farm’ which advertises itself as “Innovative American Cuisine” and “the food is like Mom would make, only better”. I haven’t yet figured out what American Cuisine is so it was hard to place what was innovative about it. And there definitely was any aspect of the menu that was ‘food like Mom would make’ let alone the ‘only better’ part (see Mom … still prefer your cooking to a restaurant … looking forward to my next meal at your home …). Hopefully that bracketed bit will get me another favorite meal of tripe and onions when I next eat at my parents place!
So it is now 9:10pm and so I have made it at least to the same time last night. I feel like I can go for another one or so before needing bed which is a good sign. I have a 7am breakfast meeting tomorrow (for those of you who think international travel is glamourous). What I haven’t told you about is that the hotel is not only hosting the IAA meetings but all a Guess conference (Guess of the jeans brand). It looks like a much more interesting conference going purely on looks. (This part is the PG rated part including Helen and my parents). 90% of the delegates are female and 89% either are or could be models. If I wasn’t married to such a beautiful and lovely wife I might get distracted. Paul (on the other hand) is constantly drooling. I need to speak to Tina when I get back.