Saturday, June 26, 2010

ISTE 2010, Day 1

The moon was full and hanging low in the morning sky when I let my house at 4:30am on Saturday. It was covered with an orange haze that reminded me of some sort of old style vampire movie. Thankfully there were no soulless undead creatures laying in wait, just a very thorough TSA security agent that thanked me when he was finished.

Finally heading to Denver for ISTE 2010, I was surprisingly calm, but it could be that I was not fully caffeinated.

Travel, this time, was a very different experience for me. I have flown many times before, but it has been a long time since I have gone anywhere so far away from home without my family.

Normally, Amy is the important documents person. She says where we are going, and how we are getting there. Her job is important.

My job is important, too. I am in charge of security, crowd control for the three kids, and the lifting and carrying of the heavy stuff.

I take my job very seriously and I might say things like, “Stop that!” and “No, Put that down and come over here.” and every once in a while, “That is disgusting! Not funny!”

So traveling alone is quite stress free once I figure out where I am going and how I am getting there. For example; riding the elevator is a simple thing, but for me it is a huge problem when I miss the part where the desk clerk said to go to the second set of elevators to get to the 29th floor. It is a good thing no one saw me standing in the elevator that only goes up to the 21st floor trying to figure out how to make it go to the 29th floor.

Next stop, Banjo Billy’s tour of Denver!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Packing for ISTE 2010

I was born to procrastinate. I had planned to begin packing 3 days ago. Then I changed it to two days ago, and so on. I think I’ll pack tomorrow- I have to since I will be leaving for Denver Saturday morning at 4:30 am.

I have taken the giant step of looking for my suitcase and my backpack computer bag. That’s not really true since they weren’t hidden. I left them out in the open so that it has seemed like they have been waving at me when I walked by them 20 times a day over the past 2 weeks. I wave back and just keep on going.

Finally, I got around to checking the bags the other day and I found the strangest stuff in my backpack and suitcase. I wonder what that says about me? It can’t be anything good; pack-rat, hoarder, or if I am lucky, forgetful.

My backpack is a gum magnet. Is my breath that bad that I need 2 and a half packs of gum? If you know the answer, please be kind. I do gulp down a lot of coffee but it does bother me that people might call me “Dragon Breath” behind my back.

Why do I have so many batteries in my laptop backpack? Do I need 7 AAA batteries and 2 AA batteries? I should probably get more AA batteries just so they are equal with the AAA’s. In case there is some sort of battery war when I am not looking, the sides should be even. AA’s are bigger than AAA’s, so should I adjust the numbers to reflect the size difference and keep the fight fair?

I found an unopened Easter egg filled with M&M’s in my laptop backpack. Lunch for today…

Five single use packs of sunscreen, SPF 30, were in a side area of the computer bag. I left two. Maybe it will be useful. Sunburn is never fun, but I hate putting lotion on. Is there any logic in the things I do? Like just carrying around the sunscreen packets will keep me safe from the dangerous UV rays of the sun.

There was a water bottle carrying hook with a carabiner for hooking onto your belt that I have never used, hidden in my backpack. I think I carry it around because I am secretly hoping someone will ask me about it and then I can say, “carabiner.” I like to say that word, but it is really hard to work into a conversation. I left it in the bag.

I also found a shower cap from Atlantis. Maybe I should keep that in there since I am not taking an umbrella to Denver. A brave man likes to feel nature on his face, but does the weather need to mess up his hair?

When I went to Atlantis with my family in April we had two rooms. I decided that I had to collect all the shampoo, conditioner, bath soap, face soap and shower caps that the housekeeper left in both rooms. I don’t know why I brought all that stuff home, but I pulled 25 containers of shampoo and conditioner alone (It was so much stuff it covered the dresser top!) out of my suitcase to make room for my stuff going to Denver. I had emptied everything else out of the suitcase, but left all the toiletries. Odd…

There is a Redskins ticket stub in one of the zipper pouches of the suitcase from a game I went to 2 years ago. I left it in there. It doesn’t take up space, makes the bag no heavier, and it is like a social experiment that I am performing on myself. How long will I leave the ticket in the suitcase?

Maybe the reason that I am not packed has more to do with my distractibility than procrastination. I should have just turned each bag upside down and shaken them until everything fell out. Instead, I examined each bag carefully and analyzed the contents, while laughing at myself. I am shocked that I ever get anything accomplished.

If anyone sees me in Denver, ask me if I have a water bottle holder so I can say “carabiner!”

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Preparing for ISTE 2010

The most important things to pack for any trip are deodorant and a tooth brush and toothpaste. No one cares who you are, or what you have to say if you stink. I have that covered, but if I forget -that will be my first purchase in Denver.

I do want to assure anyone who might be going to ISTE that I am the goofy, imperfect, and socially inept person that I present myself to be in my social networks and this blog. I am harmless, unless there is danger, and then I go into ninja mode (Not really, I just like to say that. Except; there was this one time when I almost killed a guy with a ninja star, but he was a friend, and it was a total accident.). Of course, I could be lying about who I am, but really, if I was, wouldn’t I try to present myself better than this?

Last year at NECC in D.C., I walked every day, for what seemed like all day long. After mapping the area around the Colorado Convention Center, I think my exercise routine (laying around as often as possible) will have me in sufficient shape this year, except I don’t know how to factor in the whole being a mile above sea level thing. This could be an issue since I live, work and play at about 20 ft. above sea level.

I have no idea what to bring with me to wear at ISTE. I have been checking the weather in Denver and have decided that it is not so drastically different than Virginia Beach in June. Maybe it is cooler during the evening, but that is about it. I know that if it rains and I am outside, I will get wet. I don’t really have a lot of choices of things to wear anyway, so I am not going to worry about it.

Last year at NECC, I realized that I was spending a lot of time filling out forms so that I could enter drawings. All the smart people were just turning over business cards. So I made business cards and slapped my silly face on them. After all, I don’t want to be taken too seriously; I just don’t want to fill out a bunch of forms!

Tomorrow, I will pull out my suitcase and begin the loading.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

ISTE 2010

Since I returned home last July from NECC (now called ISTE), Amy kept asking me if I was going to go to ISTE 2010 this year. My wife is wonderful, and very supportive of my interests, but I kept telling her no, I was not going because it cost too much. Finally, in April, she said, “You should go. I am going to look up the airfare and book it.”

I immediately tried to run through all recent events in my head to figure out when I had behaved so badly that she would want to be rid of me for 5 days. Did I offend the neighbors? Act obnoxious in front of her mother? I was worried, I do these things so often that I had plenty of examples to choose from.

Then I realized that Amy was angling for a Christmas time New York City trip. It all made perfect sense! Yes, I am terribly obnoxious, but Amy just wants to go on a trip with the ladies. So I dove right in and made the arrangements.

Forgetting that I was being kicked out of the house, I began to relive last year’s experience and plot my return to the biggest educational technology conference this year. Last year, I made no plans and had an awesome time. So this year, I thought I would try to do a better job of planning and see if I could squeeze in more fun. Is it possible to have more fun than last year?

I do have concerns about the money involved with this little trip, but I have a theory that if I attack the
SWAG, I should be able to break even in pens and free stuff I collect from the conference. Right? Last year I cleared 12 T-shirts and 20 lbs. of random stuff. Maybe they will be Christmas and birthday gifts for friends and family. Who doesn’t want a blaze orange Promethean T-shirt? They are awesome! At the very least my kids will get a kick out of wading through all the stuff I bring back.

I must be on mailing lists now, and this combined with my Twitter account have helped me to line up meals and beverages day and night at ISTE. It feels kind of strange to have people I don’t know feed me and give me free drinks. However, this year I am going to see if I can live off of the generosity of companies that supply my school with the hardware and software that keeps me in a constant state of confusion. It does seem only fair.

Last year at NECC, I had a plan to meet many of the people I follow on Twitter, know from Second Life, or people who write the blogs I read. I decided this year that was just way too creepy.
It felt like I was studying to become a stalker, and with the anti-stalking laws that are out now (and for good reason), it is probably something that I should avoid doing. Besides, being approached by an enthusiastic stranger is more of a deal breaker than a relationship builder.

I am a little upset that I waited so long to get my reservations because I think I ruined my chance at getting a roommate. Maybe that is a good thing because Amy says I snore. I think she is making that up, but it makes me uncomfortable to think that I would subject someone else to that noise. I think my wife has earned the right to enjoy that noise all by herself. On the plus side, having a room alone with two big beds allows me to live my dream and create “Mega-Bed” by shoving the two beds together I can make one ginormous bed. I don’t plan to spend a lot of time in the room but seeing one big bed when I walk in the room will make me laugh.

I am very excited about my upcoming trip to Denver, but I am trying to downplay it so my children don’t start calling me a geek again.

Tomorrow I will begin to pack, but I am leaving the Star Trek shirt at home.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tie a Day- It's a Wrap!

On September 16, 2009, I decided that I would wear a different tie every day of school for the entire school year.

I know, 116 ties does not sound like a lot of ties when the school year consists of 182 days, but here is how it breaks down; Every Friday is jeans day. There are roughly 36 Fridays in the school year, so that leaves 146 days. I missed maybe 10 days this school year between personal sick days, family sick days, and professional leave days, so that knocks down the number to 136. One day a month we have an optional jeans day that you can participate in if you donate $2 to the Relay for Life team we have at school. There are 10 months in the school year, so the number now drops to 126 possible tie days. For the last 10 days that I did not wear a tie that I could have, I have to say that maybe I didn’t because it was a half day of school (3 days), I had a ton of cleanup work to do and didn’t want a tie to get in the way (4 days), or I just got plain ornery and decided I was not wearing a tie just because I didn’t want to that day (3 Days). This is how I justified wearing only 116 ties in 182 days of school.

I created a video so show most of the ties that I wore. I left out some ties because you may notice from the first tie post that I decided to record the ties after the school year had begun. I tried to catch up quickly and take pictures of the ties I had already worn, but of course I took the pictures of the first ties differently from all the rest, and it created problems for me when I decided to make the video below.

If you are interested, here is how I made the video; I used Paint Shop pro to cut out all of the extra stuff in each picture and just leave the tie. Then I converted the file to a transparent png file. I had my oldest son, Calvin, take a picture of me wearing a shirt all buttoned up without a tie. Next, I opened up PowerPoint 2007 and clicked on create a photo album. By selecting all of the plain tie pictures I inserted them all into PowerPoint at once. Then I went into the slideshow and inserted the picture of my buttoned up shirt as the background on all slides. I had to make minor adjustments to align the ties on each slide onto the shirt correctly. I have a Camtasia add on in my PowerPoint, so I recorded the slideshow playing. I saved the file as an AVI and then opened it in Movie Maker and added a Soundzabound’s file as background music. It sounds like a lot of jumping around from program to program, but it was a rather fast and smooth process.

Highlights of the year in ties
I invented the words- tie-cation and tieja vu , or at least I believe I invented them.

I created a new World Record- Most Neckties Worn By A Computer Resource Specialist, sort of a bogus record because of the limitations of the record I created.

Lowlight of the year in ties
I still have 30 or so ties still waiting for their chance to be worn.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Final Tie, Number 116

Large blue and pink paisley designs, I finished up the year wearing a good tie. I love paisley and blue is one of my color mainstays. The only thing that’s bad about ties that I like is that they are worn out much more quickly. This tie has had the tie loop that holds the back half of the tie down, ripped so that it just dangles.

I am kind of sad that the Tie a Day project is over. While there was always work involved in the process for me, it was something to look forward to each day. Many days went by that I didn’t wear a tie, but I wore one everyday that I needed to and some when I didn’t.

Tomorrow I will post my ties video that will show almost all the ties I wore for the past school year.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tie a Day, Number 115

This is the tie I wore yesterday. Number 115 is a nice tie with a solid background of dark grey it looks pretty good. The diagonal stitching incorporating light blue and pink boxes are very subtle and ideal for bringing a touch of color to any outfit.

The one thing that does bother me about this tie is that it has a couple of ugly wrinkles in it. One very noticeable fold is at the bottom of the tie. I must admit that it was my fault for not storing my ties correctly. I hate wrinkly ties but was in a rush and neglected to try to iron it out.

Ironing a silk tie is tricky business. Most people would say you shouldn’t, but I have pulled it off a couple of times without ruining the tie. It is important that the steam is not on, and that no matter what, the iron never touches the tie. So I normally use a t-shirt as a barrier. I run the iron over a couple of times and I check it to see how it is going, and it usually works.

But on Thursday, I did none of that and wore a poor little wrinkly tie all day…

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tie a Day, Number 114

Tie number 114 was not the most attractive tie I have ever worn. Grey, red and blue dominate the design which has the appearance of a repeating plus sign surrounded by circles.

Made of silk, it is nice to the touch, but it is a bit on the thin side. The shirt and tie combination were probably not a good choice, but I survived the day without any mocking comments by my peers.

I would have to guess that this time was an 80’s tie, but I have found no way to be 100% accurate.

I am getting close to the end of the school year and my guess is that I will end the Tie a Day at about 116 or 117. And I will still have ties left!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tie a Day, Number 113

This tie is only the second tie that I have purchased for myself. Tie number 107 is the other tie that I bought for myself. I don’t know why but that really seems odd to me. I have somewhere around 160 ties and I have purchased only two.

I guess it is enough to say that I like the tie, it has the color blue in it, and it is made of fine silk.

I have often wondered what to do with all of these ties that I have. I mean, giving them away is always an option, but since most of these ties are from my father, it feels wrong to just drop off a pile of ties at the Salvation Army. Wearing all of the ties on a regular basis is not really an option because there are just too many.

In my quest for tie information I came across a blog called Ties to Pillows. I am pretty sure that I don’t have any skills to pull off such a crafty tie transformation, but I really like this idea!

I wonder if I can talk my mother-in-law into making a tie pillow for me, or maybe a tie quilt. I think that would be a meaningful thing for me to hang onto, and maybe even be passed onto to my kids.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tie a Day, Number 112

Tie number 112 is another from Countess Mara. I am estimating that about a fifth of my ties fit into this category. I can tell because they all have the little CM and the crown on the front of the tie.

The black background with the small blue ovoid shapes is sure to not upset me as some of the previous ties have done. The tan trim, around the blue shapes, means that the tie will go with brown without a problem. So wearing the tie is a win for me. I can almost wear it with anything in my wardrobe.

Looking up Countess Mara, I found out that Lucille Mara de Vescovi was a real person but not an actual Countess. Perhaps that is not very interesting, but she did build a men’s neckwear empire by making tie that appealed to the elite buyer. At the bottom of the article I saw that Countess Mara ties stopped using the CM and the crown at the bottom of the ties before the 1990’s.

That would make this tie over 20 years old. I feel Like Kramer with my extensive vintage-wear collection.