Tag Archives: conference

I should have known

ap windowI’ve been sick. Not earth shatteringly sick. Not the kind of sick that people should worry about. I mean I haven’t spent the last month ticking off the boxes on my “things I need to do before I die” list. Which, as you know, I don’t have but if I did, this would not have been the time to use it. Really, I should have known. About three weeks ago I got off a plane, one that I had spent five hours sitting on beside my friend who had a cold. She can’t help it. She has little kids and that’s what happens when you have little kids. But I don’t so I can only conclude that you don’t have to have little kids to get sick if you are sitting beside someone who does. For five hours. On a metal tube without any real ventilation. It’s not like I could have opened the window and stuck my head out to get some fresh air. They frown upon that on a plane. So there wasn’t too much I could do except sit there and get sick. Hence, for the past three weeks I have not been feeling that great.

Looking back at it now, as one often does when one finds oneself in situations such as this one, the worst part was not the sneezing, the sore throat or the alternating between too hot and too cold for no apparent reason. For sure, none of those things were that great. The clincher was the coughing, mostly because one day I coughed so much that I pulled a muscle in my back. And that’s what’s been keeping me up at night and making my life generally miserable for the past three weeks. It’s also why I haven’t posted on the blog which is really what all of this has been leading up to. As a shallow person you would think I wouldn’t have to explain my absence but I do. Because it there is one thing I’m not shallow about, it’s the shallow blog. Ironic, isn’t it.  Ok, enough with the kvetching (google that if you need to). I’m starting to feel better so here I am.

The thing is, before I got sick, and the sole reason I was on that plane, was to attend a conference. It was a good conference, much like most of the conferences I have attended in the past. Lots of speakers, lots of people, lots of stuff to take up my time. I had thought I might write about what I learned at the conference but I’ve done that before and, to tell the truth, other than discovering that I still abhor hot, sticky, rainy weather that makes my hair go curly, I didn’t learn too many new things. So I had decided that rather than write about what I learned I would write about what I did while I was at the conference.

Now I should tell you that five hour plane ride took me to the land of a million theme parks and I come to that number only because I figure if you have a theme park called the “Holy Land Experience” it has got to be one in a million. And, in retrospect, as prudent as it might have been to have used my shekels to have Jesus (yes apparently he was resurrected, at least for this gig) heal my ills, I didn’t make the trek to the Promised Land on this trip. Instead, I chose to meander through the rather more secular and pedestrian world of Universal Studios where the wizards carry wands rather than sceptres. So, in keeping with the whole movie theme, I had decided to share my experience of that day by relating to you “the good” (the Simpson’s ride has got to be my most favourite ever!) “the bad” (we walked 9 miles in that hot, sticky weather and by mid-afternoon I had little choice but to shove my no longer sleek hair into the hat I had so fortuitously brought with me) and “the ugly” (given the number of amusements I had to pass on due to their propensity for making riders either very wet or very sick I figure this outing cost me about 20 bucks (yea, that’s U.S.) a pop).

But I didn’t write about any of that because, as you now know,  I got sick. Which is why, instead of reading all about what I did while I was at the conference you have instead, just finished reading this.

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It’s Christmas in Orlando?

christmas orland0Here I am again at 38,000 feet only this time I’ll be landing in about 3 feet of snow. And while some things change, some things stay the same so while I’m heading in another direction I’m doing it all the while listening to my old friend Brandie. Truth be told it’s not so surprising since she’s all I’ve got on iTunes. Keeps life simple and decisions easy. And you know how I like simple things. Which is why I was pretty happy to be attending a conference in Orlando because, to be frank, I anticipated that a city full of people who lust after a little mouse would be the perfect setting for the shallow blog. Surely I would find plenty to write about in a town where you can explore everything from Space to the Holy Land, replete with gift shops.

But a funny thing happened while I was there. From the get go it became clear that there was more here than meets the eye. I mean how often is it that you find yourself in a deep and engaging conversation with your Master’s prepared server at the local sports bar? And how about those taxi drivers! Each and every one of them had a story to tell and tell it they did. Like the fellow from Haiti who longed for the peace and solitude of his home in the mountains, the one where all of his buddies came to visit each afternoon and where he never had to lock his doors at night. Or yet another Haitian who, halfway through the ride realizing he had forgot to turn on the meter, suggested I could pay him, or not. Because life was about more than making money and he so enjoyed our chat. Shallow? Not so much. Which is why, left with little choice, I decided my best bet would be to fall back on my tried and true “things I learned at the conference” (now Part 1 of 2) since I did learn some things at this one too. Without further ado, and because I know you are anxious to know what I know, here they are.

Things I learned at the conference (Part 2 of 2)

  1. Disney in the rain isn’t the happiest place on earth. I know that for sure because, if it were, my hair would have stayed straight.
  2. Germans, if I may be so bold to say, don’t like American beer. Now that I think about it, even most Americans don’t like American beer.
  3. If you only put half your face on your business cards people will think you are more attractive than you really are. This, my friends, is a scientific fact having something to do with symmetry, but I won’t go into that here. Still, it makes me wonder if the same would hold true for the rest of the body.
  4. Sharing hotel swimming pools with resident ducks just doesn’t seem to me to be a “good thing”despite the fact that good things often come in small packages.
  5. Conference presenters need to stop apologizing for making bad slides. Just stop making them.
  6. It’s not all bad when the people beside you on the plane fall asleep. As a matter of fact, sometimes it’s even better.
  7. Talking to strangers in the airport just might result in an offer for a ride home. Before you accept you probably want to make sure they’re not too strange.
  8. Apparently I never get tired of listening to Ms. Carlile. But most of you knew that already.
  9. A cursory glance at the people walking the streets of Orlando leads me to conclude that it’s painfully clear many American restaurants serve portions that are way too large. Oh dear! Was that my outside voice?
  10. No matter how many decorations are put up, lights made to flash or songs played, without snow it will never really feel like Christmas in Orlando.

In case you are wondering I learned some other stuff at the conference too, most of it related to things I do during my days at work. But you’re not really interested in that, are you.

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I Have an Idea

light_bulbI’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s because it’s summer and there’s not much going on. Or perhaps I’m still a little tired from my sojourn in St. Louis. I don’t think it’s because I spent the last 5 weeks looking at pictures of my friends saving the lions in Africa. I mean, if it was me saving the lions it might be the problem. But I’m just sitting in my chair looking at the pics so that can’t be it. I know it’s not because I have changed. And it’s certainly not from lack of trying. I’ve been wracking my brain for the last week trying to come up with something, anything really. I’ve tried everything I can think of, short of reading other people’s blogs of course. Even so, I can’t seem to put my finger on it. If I was someone else I might say I had writer’s block. But that just seems so presumptuous in my case given that I have never actually professed to be one. A writer, that is. Nope, no matter how hard I try I simply can’t come up with something shallow enough for the shallow blog.

You may not know this but I spend a good deal of my time keeping my eyes and ears peeled, looking for topics to write about. Normally it’s not all that difficult to snag some inspiration from something I overhear someone say at the next table during coffee. Because I listen. I’m nothing if not attentive. But strain as I might, this week I came up empty. This week there was no fuel for fodder, no drops in the bucket, the cupboard was truly bare. I suppose I could have set my sights on the ongoing landscaping escapade that I’ve been witness to each day for the past year and a half, while enjoying my morning tea at my local Starbucks. To be honest though, it’s been rather painful watching the workers plant and then pull, plant and then pull as each of the clearly misbegotten, “sustainable” landscaping innovations have failed to produce the desired effect. Or any effect at all really.

And I thought I had hit pay dirt while watching the current bachelorette date her “true” love, or more accurately, one of her final three “true” loves. That is until he dumped her and we watched as they cut to her crying and then him crying, her again, him again, then her, and, you guessed it, him for what I am sure was a full ten minutes. (Word on the street is that they end up together but I’m thinking that since we all pretty much knew that from the “get go” they had to do something to manufacture suspense.) Had I not been playing computer games while this droned on in the background I likely would have changed the channel. I didn’t but when it came to putting pen to paper I just couldn’t bring myself to writing about it. You gotta know it’s bad when it’s too shallow for the “shallow gal”.

And that’s when it hit me.  I have an idea!  Why not ask my readers (have I mentioned I now have 39 followers?) to tell me what they think I could write about. I mean you’ve been reading this blog for more than a year now so surely you have some suggestions. Or perhaps some questions. Maybe a “how to”. Anything will do. The more the better because, as you may recall, I’ve paid for another year which means I still have eight months left for my 18 bucks.  And that my friends, is a whole lot of shallow!

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Friends, Links and Twits

linksIt seems to me that these days there’s a whole lot of connecting going on. By now you understand that as a shallow person I don’t like to judge or make pronouncements about what’s good or bad, right or wrong. But there are simply times when something needs to be said and while I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade or seem like the proverbial party pooper, I am beginning to think that this whole social media “get together” thing is just a tad overrated and perhaps, getting a little out of hand. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m probably as connected as the next person (provided the “next person” isn’t your average 18 to 24 year old with 510 “FB friends”), with active accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn and yes, even Twitter. To tell the truth, there’s nothing I like more than sitting in my chair, looking at pictures of my friends’ travels to exotic places like Africa about two minutes after they take them, which sure beats having to sit through those interminably tedious “vacation travelogues” where the world travellers struggle to remember which lake provided the backdrop to the “most beautiful sunset they had ever seen” or whether the magnificent stained glass windows were in St. Pauls or Westminster Cathedrals, or possibly taken during a previous trip to Mexico. Besides, there’s nothing better than engaging in an online, challenging game of WWF with one of my “real” friends. Not to mention that I always post this blog to my FB page. So I guess I get Facebook.

But then there’s LinkedIn which is a horse of an entirely different colour and from where I sit, one of the busiest sites on the WWW.  I’m on it but unlike Facebook, I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing there. From what I understand this is supposed to be a more “professional” oriented social media space where I get to showcase the talents I have acquired over the many, many, (do I need to add another one of those?) years I have been working. Once I do that I “link” (get it) with others who, apparently, do something similar to what I do during my working days. They in turn link with others and together we grow a long list of people we know or, more accurately, might know. After that I can’t say I can tell you what happens because so far, nothing really has. Unless of course you think that having people who have a rather spurious knowledge of your accomplishments endorse the skills that you have attributed to, you guessed it, yourself, is something. I’m not sure that it is and yet I am there, with you, checking out your connections and, on occasion even endorsing your skills. Which is ok with me because, when push comes to shove, it’s not really all that intrusive and I can do all this from the comfort of (have I mentioned it?) my chair.

This may not be the case once a new technology I just read about gets off the ground because it takes connecting to a whole new level. Before I get into it I should tell you that I have pretty much perfected the art of making myself invisible in a crowd which, in my estimation at least, is a skill that I can legitimately be endorsed for. In fact, I’m so good at it that I can actually attend a five day, in person conference without anyone knowing I was ever there which is why this new app sends veritable shivers down my spine. What it purports to do is allow you to figure out which of your connections (yes your “friends” and “links” and probably your “twits” too) are actually in the room at the same time as you are. You heard me! No more hiding in the farthest corner or sprinting to the nearest exit when someone you really didn’t want to see comes your way. Mastering the art of, what I like to call, “eye contact avoidance” isn’t going to get you anywhere. There’s no getting away from them now. Those virtual friends of yours will be connecting with you in real time and real space because that app is going to let them know you are there. But what seems odd to me about this “whole new thing” is that if I had wanted to connect with someone I likely would have contacted them ahead of time and made arrangements to meet. And if I didn’t do that, well you get my point.

Next week Wade and I are off to St. Louis to speak at an eLearning conference. Funny story. We were walking down the streets of Denver trying to figure out where we were and this lovely, young woman approached us and offered to let us use her phone. After some chit chat she decided to join us for the evening’s activities. Turns out she organizes a conference for a group of eLearning professionals in Missouri and, after a while, mentioned that she would be needing some speakers at their upcoming event. Now we are on our way. And that, my friends, is what I call a great connection!

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Google This!

phoneLast week I was in my local big box bookstore which of late, to be honest, seems to have morphed into a purveyor of fashion and home decor and, now that I think about it, makes what I learned at the conference about matching books to my paint colour evermore useful. But already, I digress. As I was walking past one of those tables laden with “books you might like by subject” I was struck by the bright red lettering of one titled “The Day My Brain Exploded”. Beside the title was a cartoon-like picture of a bomb primed to detonate. My first thought was “What’s to write about? I feel like that almost everyday!” Of course, my curiosity got the best of me and so it was that I learned this particular title was more literal than figurative as the author recounts his life story of survival after a cerebral hemorrhage with, as the jacket tells me, humour. I guess that was a good enough reason for the publisher to have included the little “bomb” thing on the cover. Having dealt with the requisite guilt of making light, if only in my own mind, of this literary work I had to admit that, as my week progressed, the title stuck with me. In fact, as I continued to mull it over I realized that it provides a remarkably accurate description of how I feel a good deal of the time.

This feeling of mine became particularly intense during a recent 2 hour workshop I attended that promised to help me learn everything I need to know about Google Docs and in so doing, inevitably make my life immeasurably more productive, if not better. And this, I am led to believe, will be simple to accomplish as all I have to do is learn how to use Google Docs the “right way”. Now if you have learned nothing else from this blog you surely know that, as a shallow person I like things to be simple. I mean if I had to boil it down, along with being irreverent (see paragraph above) the one most important piece of advice I can give to those who aspire to this way of life is to keep things simple. And by simple I mean, not complicated. (Please note: I throw in these little tidbits of advice to meet one of the mandates of this blog which is to help others help themselves become more shallow). So I had high hopes as I walked into the workshop and my friend the trainer, who I must admit is perhaps just a tad overly enthusiastic about the possibilities of this suite of online tools, began sharing with us his extensive knowledge of all things Google.

Now I’m no slouch when it comes to technology as the use of it contributes substantially to my standard of living. And I’m open and willing to learn new things. Not only that, but I figure I’m kind of a Google Docs expert since I use it to write this blog. You see it allows me to access my document from anywhere which is important because I never know where I’ll be when a shallow thought strikes me. So when I sat down in my chair I was optimistic that I would be leaving with new ideas on how to simplify the work that I do, and by so doing, my life. And for the first few minutes he had me hooked as he explained how I would no longer need to share a document by attaching it to an email message and sending it to the many people who need to see it. Sounds good to me so far. I can use Google Docs to share stuff. Ok. Of course, in order to really make this work he suggested that I set up a Google Group and a Google Site so that I can put my Google Doc in the Google Site and then proceed to share it with my Google Group. He warns however, that I could run into trouble finding the Google Doc that I want to share with my Google Group so, to avoid this inconvenience, I should create a set of naming conventions to share with the members of my Google Group in order to ensure that I can find said document by searching, using boolean logic, through the potentially thousands of Google Docs I will accumulate in my Google Drive.

That’s when it happened. My brain exploded. At which time I turned to my neighbour and asked “what the heck is he talking about?” using not exactly those words. Because at this point it seemed to me that it was all pretty complicated and the better option would have been that attachment to the email we talked about at the start. Now don’t get me wrong. This revelation had nothing to do with the trainer who was very skilled in his craft and I am sure that the others in the room benefitted greatly from his knowledge. But I’m a shallow person who likes things to be simple and this simply was not.

Having thought about it for a day or two I’ve made a decision. From now on, if you want to share something with me, just give me a call…on my landline. And if you don’t know my number, you can probably google it.

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