Re: What is important?
Disclaimer: I live in the bay area. My numbers while subject to a bit of hypberbole are not unreal. You would have great difficulty buying a house here at 65K if you even could. As you've noticed we're not quite sane around here.
One other thought as a matter of perspective. I think, don't know this for sure anymore, that Frank Doran probably has a going rate in the range of $500/dy. I likely could attend that seminar for well under $50/dy (hell I could drive to his dojo and get him for $10). Conversely a 5 day SQL Server 7 (Microsoft database) training course will run you in the neighborhood of $1,500 or more. Your instructor will in all likelihood be an independent contractor earning in the range of $600 to $1,000/dy (probably on the higher side). Frank Doran is a key reason we have Aikido in the bay area and has been doing Aikido over 30 years. Your Microsoft instructor will probably have no real-world experience and could easily have less than 2 years experience teaching probably less than 3.
We sure get it backwards don't we.