Sunday, June 13, 2010

Now, THIS is What Continuing Legal Education Should Look Like!

This seems as good a time as any to post a few pics from our recent trip to St. Pete Beach for our Multi-state Labor and Employment Law continuing legal ed conference. As usual, the sessions at the conference were worth the trip. I even got a lot out of the session with the AFL-CIO lawyer, who managed to stay alive in a roomful of employers' lawyers that he pounded with tales of the magnificence of the current administration and its mission to give the unions whatever the heck they want. Watch out -- EFCA is coming back! Do you think Blanche Lincoln will cozy up to the unions after they gave their all to unseat her in the Arkansas senatorial Democratic primary? I'm guessing not!

Anyway -- we were at the Don Cesar -- a beautiful old art deco resort that F. Scott and Zelda used to frequent. You could easily picture them floating down the ornate lobby, cocktails in hand.

Our friends, Doug and Toni are in charge of interesting cuisine and places to see on these annual excursions, and they didn't let us down! (You might recall last year's The 2009 Barbecue and Mexican Food Tour of the Texas Hill Country.)

I have dubbed this year's trip the 2010 Tapas, Grouper, and Lamppost Tour of the Greater St. Petersburg Area.

Everywhere we turned, we were faced with tapas, Cuban cuisine, and grouper! I probably O.D.ed on fried foods -- but they weren't heavy-fried; very light. I loved the sauteed garbanzos, grilled shrimp, and pork everything at Bella Habana -- and ya gotta admit that it's hard to beat 2-for-one Mojitos! The old "under new management" bugaboo came out to bite us, though, because the first 4 things we ordered "weren't available yet." Nonetheless, our waiter looked and smiled like a young Mario Lopez, and there was live music on the deck with an onshore breeze, so we had a pleasant evening anyway.

Finding interesting things to do that didn't include bathing suits, sand, or watercraft proved a bit more problematic in that part of Florida (our waitress in the hotel bar recommended a couple of movie theaters and shopping malls -- geez!), but we soldiered on and came up with some pretty cool spots.

There were fascinating artsy galleries in Pass a Grille (see the "Flies on a Wall" above); a wonderful old defunct casino, now used as a special events center, brightly landscaped yards on an arts walk, and a terrific hole-in-the-wall bar that was ideal for people-watching on the beach in Gulfport; and my very first ever trip to a dog track! Man, those hounds can move! And, if you want to know where the retired folks wearing mismatched clothing and black socks with sandals are on a Saturday night in Tampa, check out the dog track -- they're sitting next to the young, generally underdressed (or, at least under-covered!) twenty-somethings looking for entertainment on a budget.

It was a wonderful, relaxing getaway, and a nice opportunity to see old friends from all over the country that we've been doing this with for more than 15 years now. I hope the program can recover from its financial slump and scare up a new sponsor since we lost our sponsor after this year. Darned economy! It's so nice to be able to get all those required hours in during one trip.

But, as always, it was good to get home to the pups. We were hardly even "punished" -- for long. Sorta.


  1. Wow! That sounds like my kind of required learning.

    Moogie, I am so way jealous right now. We need a vacation like we never have before right now. I'd settle for a "working one." But, it ain't gonna' happen.

    Darned economy. Thanks for giving us the run down.

    I shoulda' been an attorney...

  2. Ooh! Bite your tongue! While I don't want to let the license go, the actual practice of law was never really for me -- too much bad karma in what my old firm assigned me: domestic relations and insurance defense.

    I did enjoy teaching law, however. I liked guiding college and grad students in their discovery of our Constitution and growing-like-Topsy bureaucracy. It helped solidify my conservative bent, too.

  3. Is that a mojito in the way-too-damned-cool candlelit cocktail pic? It looks like a marg to me!

    I'm with Andy. My "professional" seminars were never held in such cool places, and I include the Hill Country in that statement. We use the term "professional seminar" VERY loosely, as well. ;-)