2011 Jun 18 | AOA Optometry's Meeting in Salt Lake City

First order of business: get food at the welcome reception.

The menu said "heavy hors d'oeuvres," but it was a fair amount of food. There were three different food areas with different items at each, in addition to a dessert bar.

And a real bar.

The next day Lauren and I wandered around Temple Square. Thankfully a nice greeter gave us some info and this map.

Going in.

There were lots of flowers.

Assembly Hall.

Nauvoo Bell.

The hall from the other side.

A neat fountain and pool.

Statues of Hyrum and Joseph Smith.

Funny trees.

Front door to the temple.

The side of the temple.

Huge organ inside the Tabernacle.

The law, government, liberty, and the way.

A waterfall on the conference center.

Neat skylight.

And fountain below it.

Another huge organ, although not quite as big.

There were lots of paintings of Jesus.

And some more.

Paintings explaining the stories from the Book of Mormon.

My favorite.

Jesus visiting other cultures.

Another view of the fountain, this time from the top.

Jesus and the twelve apostles.

More recent apostles in the church.

A beautiful stained-glass window of a painting.

Joseph Smith seeing God as the Father and the Son.

Busts of more recent apostles.

Brigham Young and Joseph Smith.

They are all facing towards Jesus at the center.

This is why we really wanted to go to the Conference Center: the rooftop.

Sandblasted stone showing Mormons from around the world. You see yourself "with" them in reflection.

A neat house off to the side.

Plants that were native to the area.

Really pretty.

A fountain.

The view back towards the Temple.

The Temple straight ahead and the Tabernacle off to the right.

Cute eyes in the crosswalk sign.

The Temple.

A nearby pool. If you stand on the edge, it looks like you're standing on water, heh.

The pool and the Temple.

Another view of the pool.

Lots of flowers.

Neon orange flags were placed at various crosswalks. You'd take one while you were walking across so cars could see you better.

Gotta love free conference lunches.

You could grab ribbons for any organizations you were a member of and put them on your badge.

Probably the most popular booth in the entire hall because they had freshly-baked cookies and coffee.

Alcon's booth had these models with fishbowls on their heads to match their ads.

All kinds of free stuff: gift cards for filling out surveys and cards to get stamped at various booths and then turn in.

Aw, man, I was expecting a real fortune.

A lot of the frame manufacturers had huge discounts, so they were swamped from open to close.\

We were supposed to dress Texan for the quiz bowl, so I stopped at some thrift stores along the way and picked up a hat and boots. I already had a bandana and a belt buckle.

It was extremely crowded.

And insanely loud.

People were cheering...

... and waving things...

... and holding other people up...

... and wearing crazy outfits...

... and hitting these tubes together, which were surprisingly loud.

Another girl getting held up.

After the crowded craziness of standing outside for 30 minutes, they finally let us in.

Our Houston group of cheerers.

Even had some profs, attendings, and the dean there.

The judges.

The contestants.

I loved some of their crazy outfits.

Loved the light-up hats.

The contestants at the ready.

Actually, most of the questions were pretty easy.

Well, at least they are for me now. A few years ago I'm sure I wouldn't know half of them.

But just like in Jeopardy, the most important thing is buzzing in at the right time, since I'd guess that all the contestants knew the answer on like 80% of the questions.

Whoa, fireworks.

Did they clear that with the fire marshal?

Hey, what's this? Ooh, a dunk tank! I wonder who's in it.

It's dean Smith!

There he goes.

All wet.

Back up for another round. He was really having fun with the people throwing the balls, egging them on and laughing at them when they missed.

And back down again.

A mighty throw.

After a bunch of people missed, this guy walked up and pressed the button, haha.

They had some snacks and even a climbing wall.

Just need someone to distract the reps while I slip these into my bag.

Oh, how cute, little cookies with pictures on them. And they actually tasted good.

Gotta love free food.

Buck a beer.

The multi-colored nachos are so cool.

It was weird how some of the CE were held in these little cubicle-like rooms around the edge of the main hall.

Lots of posters over in this corner.

Free dinner from B&L and free dessert from Walmart. The dessert event was first, but hey, I like eating dessert first.

Custard and mousse.

That's a lot of toppings.

More nummies.

And then dinner. The rep and I were the only ones at our table, and she kinda freaked me out when she asked where I was staying.

My Post-It in my badge with all the important events (like when drawings are held).

Alcon had educational posters, but they were printing them out there. Which seems weird; why not just print them ahead of time? After all, you have to bring all the paper anyway, and now you have to add the printers.

There were lots of free iPad drawings, but this one seemed a little slimy; it appears that you don't really win an iPod but an equivalent amount off of their service. =/

Yeah, I won something in a drawing! $600 worth of services from EyeCarePro.net, which is a year's worth of service of them building and maintaining a website for optometrists. Not sure if I'll use it, though.

I was going to actually have to pay for food this time, but this woman was behind us in line and when I mentioned it, she gave me one of her extras. How nice! :)

Everyone crowded around for a drawing. All of the official ones you had to be present to win, and some times they'd call 5-10 names before someone won.

Cool interactive chess screen.

Another drawing.

That afternoon Lauren and I hit a couple of other sites in the city. First stop was the old City and County Building.

The front.

Another side.

Neat little area with a waterfall, sculptures, and knitted flowers on the railings.

Next we checked out the public library.

Inside the library.

Another government building.

Then we headed to the Grand America Hotel. I was looking at the maps on my phone, trying to figure out exactly where it was. Lauren said, "Do you think it's that building?" and was nice enough to leave off, "the only giant building anywhere around here that could possibly be the hotel; maybe you should look around for two seconds rather than using your dumb phone."

The entrance.

A garden.

A sculpture of a deer family.

I like these old telephone cubbies.

It looked pretty expensive.

Including the chandeliers.

This is confusing. There's a train rail to the left, a stop light that's only for pedestrians, and the bike lane is in the middle of the traffic lane.

After an hour's drive, we got to the Great Salt Lake.

Oh, that's just great.

Looking east.

Looking back north towards the causeway.

Buffalo crossing?

Oh, hey, there one is!

Two of them.

A couple wearing some goofy-looking headgear because of the insects, heh. Although there were a ton of bugs flying around.

A plaque talking about how the road to the island was made. It was actually annoying because you could get to the island in like 15 minutes if there was a road from the south of it. However, there isn't, so you have to drive 30 minutes north of the city and then west and then south again to get there.

Explaining the buffalo statue.


I wanted a picture sitting on top of it, but there was a sign saying to not even touch it. :(

The beach.

Lots of birds.

Hey, what's all that black stuff?

Oh, gross, it's a bunch of bugs, and when the kids run through them, a path of no bugs is formed. Ick.

Lauren standing in the Great Salt Lake.

Looking up from the beach.

Lots of pretty mountains.

What in the world are these?

Oh, that explains them.

The entertainment that night was Kathleen Madigan and Wayne Brady. I'd never heard of Kathleen before, but she was actually really funny.

Wayne Brady basically did a lot of Improv, just like Whose Line.

They can't move unless this guy and girl moving them.

Making them walk.

The girl was pretty drunk, though, and she kept messing up, in addition to constantly grabbing the ass of the guy she was supposed to move when she wanted him to walk. Here she was supposed to move him to do pushups and she ended up just doing them on her own, haha; maybe she thought he was supposed to follow her lead.