A week ago, Dennis was the seminar presenter at a FABI (Florida Institute of Building Inspectors) conference. He talked about toxic drywall - what it was and how to recognize it. Then he had a session on Portland cement, it's history and composition. He took them on two walk-throughs of tricky inspections he had done. And last, he had a session on the chemistry of building materials.
Now I'll be honest, I couldn't imagine how he'd keep their attention and presence in that last lecture, but he did. I've seen one of his training videos and Dennis is a talented instructor. He keeps it light and interesting using jokes and a few magic tricks and he talks directly to the audience without any notes. He doesn't mind questions. But what is most impressive is how he deals with someone saying they really don't understand something. Instead of just saying it again, but slowly, he actually approaches the subject from a completely different point of view, explaining it so that the person can understand it. It's a gift.
The conference was held at the Mission Inn which is located in Howie-in-the-Hills. The Mission Inn is a beautiful resort hotel which we've been to once before. This time was even better. FABI put us up in the Valencia Suite, next door to the FABI Hospitality Suite. What a beautiful room and it had an even better view! Actually I don't think there's a bad view anywhere. I neglected to take any pictures on this trip so this view on the right is from our room during our first visit to the resort. In the suite, however, the balcony ran the length of the bedroom and the living room.
I didn't stay the whole weekend. Mom had gotten tickets for us to go to a fashion show at On Top of the World but we weren't certain about the date until after I had agreed to go with Dennis on this weekend. So Saturday, I drove to Ocala to attend the (three hour) fashion show and then drove back to Howie-in-the-Hills for the remainder of the weekend. Luckily it was only a 65 minute drive. But I had to miss almost all of Dennis's lectures.
Sunday morning was lovely. Although we stayed on the comfy couch, we had the doors open to the balcony and we were sitting with our coffee, eating the fruit and cheese that was included with the room, listening to the birds sing and watching an eagle (we think it was an eagle) feeding a hatchling.
Dennis had a lecture at 9:30 and then things kind of fell apart, for me. He sent me back to the room for a camera. I couldn't get in - the key card wouldn't work. Well, I'd noticed it didn't always work the first time from the beginning but thought it was operator error. I went down to the front desk and got a new card and returned to the room. *sigh* That one didn't work either. So, still thinking it was operator error, I went down to the desk again and asked for assistance. The doorman tried the key card and it still didn't work so he called for assistance from Engineering. They had this contraption that would open the door manually. Todd, the first man to respond to the call, couldn't work the contraption right so he called for Richard, who had more experience with this sort of thing. Apparently it was a dead battery in the door lock. Yay, not operator error after all. However, Dennis was getting worried because I had been gone nearly 90 minutes.
When I finally got back to him he was on the chemistry lecture and I was amazed because 90% of the conference participants were still there. It's a testament to how interesting they found him that they were willing to brave a session on the chemistry of building products. And many stayed afterward with questions. He definitely held their interest for the whole weekend. A number of them told him he was the best presenter they'd had. I was very proud of him.