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2015 Chronicles: Grand Central Surgery

The very next week after LA, I had a two day conference in NY at the Grand Hyatt, attached to Grand Central Terminal. I love this area of Midtown NY with the juxtaposition of old and new architecture, some of the most iconic NY landmarks and easy access by train.

Well, I didn't take the train. My wife came along so between our luggage and some gear I had to take, driving was the only option. Getting to NY is easy, but getting through NY is a challenge given the overly aggressive drivers, especially taxis who honk incessantly.

I was relieved once I dropped my car at Valet parking ($80/day) at the hotel.

It took forever to check in - it was also model UN week so the hotel had 500 students from around the world.

My wife got a room and I went over to the meeting room to work on setup. This event, the Global Hernia Symposium, included live surgery. We did some testing with the video bridge and figured out the workflow with the AV guy.

Most live surgery as previously mentioned, is point to point via satellite - one source, one destination.
This case however was multi-points of source to one destination, and over IP, not satellite. This takes a lot more planning, like months to get everything aligned. We use Intercall and Stratosphere, two NY based video conferencing vendors, to handle the bridging and video conference technology. My job is to get all of the participants aligned, and it is not uncommon for me to send emails with 15 recipients.

Fast forward 12 hours and it is the main event - we had 5 hours of live surgery from NY, Brazil and Colombia one two projectors and 2 80" LCD monitors, with real time Q+A from the panelists and audience. This was then followed by more traditional lectures and discussion until we ended on Saturday afternoon.

My job also included event photographer at the event, and on the dinner cruise.

There was not too much time for fine dining, but I found a couple of good sushi restaurants for takeout. Then on the way out of town on Sunday, my wife and I went to our favorite place to get all sorts of food, Zabars. I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

With a car full of appetizing, we could not wait, and stopped along the Saw Mill for a bagel, cream cheese (shmear) and lox picnic.

Ok that's it, it is now April!

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jun 11, 2015 at 7:14:59 pm event AV, live surgery

2015 Chronicles: LA Story

If you read my post about Los Angeles last year you can refer back to that - same basic deal. This time we used the in-house AV group, and they did mostly fine. Setup was done by about 8pm, leaving time for some sushi before bed.

The whole week, each night, Hollywood Blvd was shut down for filming a TV pilot called The Lucifer Chronicles, or some such thing. It was interesting to watch and char with some of the crew between takes.

I met up with my buddy Lando for a late night Falafel dinner on Sunset Blvd, and ate mostly sushi the rest of the time.

A new responsibility at this meeting was managing the distribution and collection of lead retrieval scanners, and I was once again stills photographer.

$50 cab ride to the airport, redeye home, rinse and repeat! The USAir terminal at LAX is a dump. Philly is improving, especially the newer regional jet terminal.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jun 11, 2015 at 6:52:58 pm event AV

2014 Adventures Part 9: Windy City Blues

With only 2 days in the office to get ready, it was off to Chicago for another big medical conference. I don't recall exactly what day of the week it was, though I do remember feeling a little sleepy during dinner the first night.

Let's start at about 4am at BDL, which can be quite busy at this hour.

Then, 7:30am at MDW can only be described as a sea of people.

I usually take the Orange line train from MDW to downtown.

While dragging a suitcase around the inner loop is a bit taxing, the city was quite pleasant this fine August morning.

This event was at the historic Palmer House Hilton. We had one of our preferred AV vendors on the case, and for this one we decided to do a large wide screen blend to add a little extra visual interest to the meeting. Each day started with live surgery via satellite, followed by full days of lectures and discussion. Pretty routine at this point.

Meals during this trip included a popular place with our staff, Rudy's Bar and Grill. Decent burgers but lots of fried food and everything seems to be focused on the pretzel roll - must be a local thing.

I ate with the AV crew the first night after setup.

Another night it so happened that for only the second time in 20 years my dad and I were in the same city at the same time. We at at the famous Miller's Pub, known for their baby back ribs. They were great and it was of course awesome hanging out with my Pop.

The final night we had a group dinner at Rosebud, then it was home.

I didn't have a chance to work on the previously mentioned video edit, so the next few weeks were spent on full tilt post-production on numerous recent projects. Most importantly was the fact that I did not have another trip planned until October.

Seeing as this was August, it wasn't actually very windy in Chicago.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jun 11, 2015 at 5:10:03 pm event AV

2014 Adventures - Part 4: The Walk of Fame

A few weeks to go until our annual diabetes conference in LA. The course director asked about having a live Twitter feed ticker under the main content. This was a technical challenge, solved in part here on the COW:

As the thread describes, we used a website called Crowd Convergence, which allows social media feeds in a variety of formats and shapes. But since we were not in a broadcast studio, we had to jury rig a solution using 3 video switchers to be able to independently add or remove the ticker, switch I-Mag cameras within a PIP window and switch slide content in another PIP window.

The conference is held in the Ray Dolby Ballroom - the same venue where the post-Oscars Governor's Ball is held. It is kind of cool knowing that the room itself has hosted innumerable filmmakers and actors over the years. Oddly, the space is managed by Wolfgang Puck. Since he caters the Governor's Ball, he decided to build a kitchen and ballroom within walking distance of the Oscar's - or something to that effect.

The ballroom is on the top of Hollywood and Highland, a massive outdoor mall and entertainment complex, next to the Dolby Theater and Chinese Theater. Also adjacent to the Loew's Hollywood Hotel where part of the conference is also held.

And all of this is on Hollywood Blvd, a popular yet seedy part of LA. Most big cities have a Times Square like area, and in LA it is this stretch of Hollywood Blvd at night where you have an odd mix of tourists, costumed characters, homeless teenagers, people cooking sausages and peppers on small gas-fired wagons, lots of traffic and bright lights. Yep, Times Square.

We finished the AV setup about 9pm, and I continued the late night sushi tradition at an awesome place in the complex. Apparently there was a famous actor at the next table, because another patron asked to have a photo taken with him. I quickly turned around to look and it was either Aaron Paul or Dustin Diamond - I have no idea. Why a famous person would go to an outdoor mall for dinner I don't know, although based upon the number of Bentley, Maserati and Porsche cars in front of the Loews, I guess it is a popular spot.

Next 3 days of the event went off without a hitch.

Well there was one potential hitch. One of the presenters, who was to receive an award, was stuck in Europe due to an illness. I was tasked with helping him appear via Skype. Using Skype to talk to a business associate or your parents, computer to computer, or iPad to Android, works ok. But putting this interaction up on a 16 foot screen for an audience of 700, with a total of 15 minutes to test before the main event, is a little dicey.

Luckily we had Rick Disco Duck Dees moderating the session , so we were in good hands! Everything went fine thanks to the use of a mobile hotspot (the wifi provided in the ballroom was dismal, as is often the case in meeting facilities). After the talk, some of the faculty actually posed for photos with the remote presenter on a laptop.

Dinners on this trip included the previously mentioned sushi dinners, a group dinner at Tinhorn Flats (a generally awful Tex-Mex place across from the hotel), and a unique dinner with my old pal from college at Hollywood's historic Musso and Frank's Grill. Google it - interesting place.

My friend, let's call him Lando (he lost that ship to me fair and square) has a variety of entertainment gigs in LA, from play by play during MMA fights, to local tv commercials and gets invited to parties in the Hollywood hills.

Then ol' Lando took me on a walk down Hollywood, past the Scientology building, and down La Breas to Mashti Malone, a unique Persian Ice Cream place. I had coconut, mango and another flavor that escapes me.

With this assignment done, it was off to LAX for a red-eye through some city, and back to Hartford.


This left me less than two weeks to get ready for Part 5....

Stay tuned.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Aug 28, 2014 at 10:29:31 pm event AV, travel

2014 Adventures - Part 2: AV State of Mind

In early February my itinerary showed Washington DC as the next locale. I use the Tripit app, and sometimes I am not sure where I am going until I get to the airport. Recently I was not sure if I was in DCA or MDW.

The venue for the meeting, the Mandarin Oriental, is very swanky, but isolated from the rest of DC. Sure you could take a cab for dining and entertainment, or in my case, my brother picked me up for dinner one night, which was great.

We went to a restaurant called Poste, in the Hotel Monaco. Interesting menu. Supposedly Secretary of State Clinton had her morning staff meetings there. We did not see any politicians, though there was a lot of pork on the menu.

After we walked over to a gelato / cupcake place in Penn Quarter (I think).

The main event was a Breast Cancer conference that we manage. My task as usual was to oversee the AV setup and ensure high performance and quality. First day setup went until about 10pm after a 10am load-in. This was our first time working with a new AV provider. You never know precisely what you will be getting, which is where I come in. My job is to supervise the setup and do a quick technical run-through of the major functions with the crew, lay out expectations of performance, discuss the event schedule, etc.

I had dinner at the hotel restaurant - sushi I think, though it could have been Fruit Loops at this hour and I would have been happy.

This one was easy.

Next up, the first of three trips to Colorado for the year, and something a little out of the ordinary.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Aug 28, 2014 at 9:41:04 pm event AV

I have a passion for my job, which entails training for medical professionals such as surgeons, nurses and administrators, not to mention various industries.

Technology is great, but how you apply your skills is what pays the bills.

Years ago I canceled my Media 100 support contract upon discovering what a treasure trove of helpful advice can be found on the Creative COW website. I am proud to be a part of this fantastic community.

In my blog I talk a little about media production, a lot about travel and workflow, and occasionally about cooking, nature and my four-legged friends.

Follow me on Twitter: med_ed_mike

I'm also on LinkedIn if you can't get enough of me!


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