In December we will be hosting the annual winter meetings for TC 171 SC2. It's a week-long deep-dive into PDF standards for Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from around the world. The committees for PDF Reference ISO 32000), PDF/A (ISO 19005), PDF/UA (ISO 14289), PDF/E (ISO 24517), PRC (ISO 4739) are all scheduled to meet.

The planning for a big meeting of this type goes something ike this:

  • Figure out where it will be held and what the meeting facilities will be
  • Find out what hotels are nearby and figure out if you are going to book a block of hotel rooms or if people are going to get their own
  • Find out what sorts of restaurants are nearby for lunches and dinners
  • Figure out who is responsible for things like breakfast nibbles, afternoon snacks, coffee/tea, and what have you
  • Put together an event of some sort for one evening of the meetings so that delegates can network and unwind in a less formal and stressful setting than a meeting oom allows
  • Come up with some sort of material to send to delegates telling them about this stuff

Since these are ISO meetings and AIIM is the Secretary for TC 171 SC2, they get to do all the chosing of who is hosting and where, and we’ve agreed on who is handling which nibbles (and just left the meeting beverages up to Microsoft’s never-endingly supplied kitchenettes), and I’ve been figuring out the particulars for the rest.

First, was choosing the meeting rooms. We’d decided to meet in Redmond, but Redmond, at least around here, really means anywhere at the Microsoft Puget Sound facilities. So I had a fun romp through the corporate maps and floor plans figuring out where there were rooms of a certain size, deciding which had the best locations in terms of lots of nearby hotels and restaurants within walking distance, and – let’s be honest here – which of the buildings had the nicest accommodations.

I found, in my search, a really fabulous conference room, just about the right size, in one of our buildings in downtown Bellevue. It’s on the 20-somethingth floor, facing west, with a stunning view over Lake Washington, Seattle, and the Olympic Mountains. State-of-the-art AV and teleconferencing system. All the bells and whistles and then some. It’s possible there was a secret entrance to some Bat Cave in the basement of the parking garage under the building from that room. The building is right in the heart of downtown, with the shopping mall across the street and something like 30 eating establishments within a 3-block radius.

And it wasn’t available. I am not ashamed to admit I tried bribery. I even begged. And I do good bribe, just ask anyone I work with. I couldn’t get that room for even one day. So we are meeting in a different building in downtown Bellevue, on only the 19th floor, in a nice conference room with a good AV system, and a stunning south-facing view of some of Bellevue’s finest condos. Oh well. At least we’ll be able to better concentrate on PDF.

Once the conference room location was set, I asked our meeting planners to query the hotels in the area and find out if there were any deals. I talked to the SC2 Secretary, Betsy Fanning, and we decided to just let delegates choose their own hotels, so I put together a list of the hotels in the area, and a map, and some links to information about Bellevue.

That last part was interesting. I learned a lot about Bellevue putting together those few links about restaurants and activities in the area. Bellevue is one of those places I usually go to hit the mall or meet friends or family for dinner (usually somewhere near or at the mall). And it’s one of those places I general avoid at all costs during the month of December because the traffic around said mall makes trying to get anywhere, and park, an experience only the makers of straightjackets can truly love. The whole downtown of Bellevue is a shopping Mecca. Which will make at least one of our delegates ecstatic and me willing to get up at some indecent hour of the morning so I can be in Bellevue and securely inside the Microsoft offices well before any shoppers even have their first cup of over-roasted-holiday-assault-on-the-shops-planning java.

That traffic I despise has meant not only a boom in shops in downtown Bellevue over the last several years, but also a huge number of new restaurants. Yes, there are dozens of chain establishments around the mall and sprinkled here and there (but don’t expect a drive-thru at the McDonald’s – Bellevue has a Mickey D’s, but you’re going to have to walk off a couple of calories to get your grease bomb), but there are also a lot of good, locally owned and run restaurants that have opened up in the downtown core. The Bellevue Local Table website has good information on many of them (and some of the chains too). Where there used to be only SeaStar for a good fancy dinner, now there are a dozen or more nice restaurants to choose from. I was even pleased to find that Bellevue has a Brazilian restaurant – SC2 tends to find one in almost every city where we meet (pardon the pun) and the night we all go out for Rodizio is usually our most fun, not to mention filling.

The other thing that all that traffic means is that there is a lot to do in the evenings. So after dinner, if the delegates want to unwind, there’s more than just heading for the local pub. There’s one or two of those as well, but the shops are open late since Christmas is nearing, and the Downtown Bellevue Association event calendar lists a plethora of events happening in the area without having to head into Seattle. Though heading into Seattle is always an option.

We had planned to take delegates to the Bellevue Botanical Gardens light show as part of our event, but decided that with the changeable weather in December, we would do something else and suggest they make the trip on their own, weather permitting, sometime during their stay. Our new event will be drier, warmer, and everyone will enjoy it more, I think. Plus it will include a trip to one of Seattle’s landmarks. No, not that one. And not that one either. (Hint: It rose from the ashes in 1988, one month less than a year after it burned to the ground despite being nearly surrounded by water … but they don’t serve mythical birds … at least I hope this is what we are doing!)

One of the most fun parts of the preparation I’m doing for the event is checking out the eating establishments near the meeting rooms. The area right around the mall has tons of restaurants, food stalls, coffee shops, etc. The area around The Bravern, where the new Neiman Marcus store is and the downtown Microsoft offices where our meetings will be is 6 blocks away. Not far, but when you want to stay close for lunch, that uphill can be a killer – the uphill halfway each way that is. So I’ve started looking at the restaurants a little closer. Including those in The Bravern, but also those in the surrounding blocks, which is how I found the Brazilian place. It’s a tough job. I haven’t figured out yet how to sneak this one past my manager on my expense account. I’ll have to work on that. Good thing there aren’t as many as over near the mall.