I am almost certain that I heard a radio story recently about a survey of favorite foods for each state. Iowa’s favorite food was “buffets.” I thought, “Wow.” I have sought confirmation of this story on the Internet, without success. But for the sake of this story, we’re sticking with it.
So this is a treatise on the humble buffet; a long stretch of serving island that is generally piled high with a cornucopia of food. Some food is actually fresh and kept cold in islands of crushed ice. Some of the ice is also covered with ranch dressing, which makes it look like melting snow.
Other foods are hot and kept so by steam baths. These selections are identified by steam that rises menacingly from the edges of the trays, not unlike manhole covers in downtown Chicago in January. I am often surprised that I have any remaining arm hair after reaching for a ladle of brown gravy.
Many buffets are also known for a bias toward deep fried offerings, which essentially makes breaded fish taste like French fries, which taste like broasted chicken, which tastes like hush puppies.
It is my personal opinion that you know you have stumbled onto a world-class buffet when it includes both black olives and pickled herring. But that may just be me.
I have yet to see a buffet with an AED (a heart defibrillator, to those not as old as I am, and therefore increasingly relevant in my world) at the end, but this seems like an idea whose time has come, like plastic sneeze guards. It might also make sense to hire moonlighting cardiologists as cashiers.
Essentially, a buffet is a one-stop shop that attempts to provide a variety of foods that will serve (and over-serve) a wide variety of tastes and appetites. It is sort of a Walmart restaurant.
I have previously stated my belief in the value of conferences. The recently concluded DistribuTECH show in San Diego essentially provided one-stop shopping for the 11,400 attendees. The conference provides an information exchange and educational opportunities that focus on electricity, technology and water. For those with responsibilities in these critical infrastructure industries, this was a conference at which you could feast on all the latest and greatest technologies and information.
More than 480 exhibitors displayed everything from current approaches to the latest-and-greatest technologies. Industry experts taught 26 “Utility University” classes that dealt with timely industry issues. Week-long networking events provided plenty of opportunities to meet and talk with clients, suppliers, peers and industry experts.
Perhaps a listing of the six mega sessions can provide a good overview of the types of issues discussed at DistribuTECH:
- Grid 2025: What Will the Future Grid Look Like, if There is One?
- Future of the Grid
- Reforming the Energy Vision in New York
- Bridging the Divide – Finding Common Ground Between Utilities and Connected Home Service Providers
- Key Accomplishments of the DOE SGIG-funded AMI Projects
- Damage Assessment and Mother Nature’s Fury
DistrubuTECH provided another example of why working in this industry is so rewarding. There are constant challenges and opportunities to learn and grow. New technologies and practices continue to move the industry forward in helpful and interesting ways. And finally, the industry contains a number of amazing people who are doing great things to improve lives by providing services that create more reliable connections throughout the world.