My Real Life

January 30, 2010

Been Gone So Long

Okay, technically, I was only away for one night, but I didn’t have internet access in my hotel room, and then I was pretty exhausted the night I got back, and so although it’s only been a few days, I feel like I’ve been gone from the blog for a month!

I returned, yesterday, from a trip to Atlantic City, where I was asked to present at the New Jersey Association of School Administrators Techspo 2010 Conference.  It is a fabulous conference that centers on educational technology, which is kinda my thang.  Love it!

So, I was asked to share my presentation called Social Studies 2.0:  How to Effectively Integrate Technology into Your Social Studies Classroom Without Having to be a Guru.  Long title, but it helps to be specific.  I presented a few years ago, but haven’t been able to make it back until this year, so I was thrilled to be invited, once again.

I left home around 6 am on Thursday morning and arrived in Atlantic City around 8:15 am.  I checked-in with conference registration (hotel check-in wasn’t until 4 pm) and then had a bite to eat from the conference buffet.

The first speaker was Alan November, one of the biggest leaders in the educational technology movement today.  I’ve heard him speak 3 times already, so although he is always a delight to hear, I had heard the schtick before.  Nothing really new, except for an online solution finder  Basically, you type in any equation and it solves it for you, and shows you the steps.  An absolute dream, I think!  Kids can check their own homework online and work through the problems on their own.  Love it.

Then, I went to another presentation on the use of Moodle in schools, and while my district is already using Moodle, there were some neat additions that I hadn’t heard about, so it was informative.

After that, I grabbed the box lunch that was offered to participants, and then went to set up my laptop and projector.

As I’m putting everything together, I realize that I don’t seem to have the power cord for the laptop.

Panic sets in.

The people who had presented in that room before me were still packing up, so I asked them to watch my stuff while I ran to the car.  They said, “No problem.”

So, I ran to the elevators (we were on the 6th floor) and took the elevator to the 3rd floor, where I had to cross the hotel to catch the elevator to the 8th floor of the parking garage.  Follow that?

I opened up the van and…

…no cord.

No cord!

My laptop had been in hibernation mode in the car, so there were no batteries for it to run from.

I walked (not ran) back to the presentation room and thanked the people for waiting.  I stood with my hands on my hips (my thinking pose) and tried to figure out what the heck I was going to do.

Then, I said to myself, “Amy…you dunce!  This is the TECHSPO conference!  Every vendor out there is hawking some type of educational technology, and they ALL have laptops!” 

So, I went out to find a vendor that was selling a type of laptop that I thought I’d be comfortable with, and offered the guy a deal.

If he lent me his laptop for my presentation, I would name drop his company name throughout my presentation, and even add a slide in my PowerPoint thanking them for helping me out.

He agreed and my problem was solved.


Hang on.


I opened up the van and…

…the cord was there!

The rest was just one of the thousands of stories I made up in the elevator on the way to get the cord.  I’m a huge “What if” story-teller, and every time I’m faced with a possible crisis, I imagine a gazillion different scenarios.

Thought you might enjoy that one.

I did.

Anyway, I got the cord, went back and thanked the people who watched my “stuff” and got everything set up.

Cute little room in the Atlantic City Bally’s.

I also love the little digital sign outside of each presentation room.  My flash mucked up the picture a bit, but I figured I’d still share.

I was in the Lincoln Park room.  Not the Link’n Park room…that would be quite a different room.  Not a bad room, just a different room.

The presentation went great.  My audience seemed quite receptive.  Lots of head nods and smiled as I spoke.  One man came to ask some questions afterward, and another asked for extra copies of my handouts to share with his colleagues.  It went well, but I was glad to be done.

After packing up my equipment, I went to another workshop that was informative, and by then, it was 3:30.

So, I went through the cross-hotel elevator trek again, got my suitcase out of the van and checked in.


All mine.  No chance of little monkeys crawling in at 4 am and waking me.  King-sized nirvana.

It was about 4 pm, so I kicked off my shoes and turned on the tv, thinking I’d watch Oprah, who I haven’t seen in years.

Turns out, she was interviewing Jay Leno who was, in my opinion, acting like a bit of a jerk, so I decided to check out the bathroom and perhaps take a bath.

I’m sure my neighbors were concerned about my squeals of delight as I flipped the switch in the bathroom.

I don’t get out much.

This was all very exciting.

My favorite part?

…because you never know when you might need to make an important call from the toilet.

So, I decided to haul out my book and soak in the tub and read for a while.

I realize this may sound mundane to many, but you need to remember that I can’t even remember the last time I had a shower without someone sitting on the floor outside the tub, “keeping me company.”  It’s usually Monkey in the Middle, because he’s the only one up when I’m getting ready for work.  Heck, half the time he’s the reason I’m up, and I let him come in so he doesn’t wake up anyone else.  He sits outside the shower and just chats away, on his side of the curtain, about whatever is taking over his five-year old mind at the moment.

So, the idea of a bath?  Wonderful.  Reading while in the tub?  Delightful!  Doing so without feeling guilty because someone is on the other side of the door needing something?  Positively unheard of!

I soaked and read until the water got cold, then I hopped out, donned my sweats and headed back to the room.

I realized that I hadn’t opened the curtain yet, so I decided to check out the view.

Not really the most beautiful scene in the world, but it took my breath away, as I don’t get a lot of ocean view from my part of New Jersey.

Looking down, I saw this view, as well…

So, I chose to look up, instead.

At this point, I realized I could either go downstairs and grab something from one of the hotel restaurants, grab something to eat from gift shop, or order room service.

I looked at my sweats and decided room service it was.

Yes, that’s right.  I wouldn’t pay $12.99 for internet service in my room, but I did order room service.

I deserve it.

So, I ordered soup, salad and a cheesecake.

I ate the soup and salad, and had about half of the cheesecake.

I snuggled up under the covers and watched “You’ve Got Mail”, then a repeat of “Two and a Half Men,” a repeat of “Family Guy.”  I called the monkeys to say goodnight, watched “The Vampire Diaries,” then chatted with Real Man when he called after putting the monkeys to bed.  Finally, I turned on “Fringe,” and was out by 9:30.

I’m so wild.

The next morning, I woke up at 5:45, but when I realized that Monkey in the Middle wasn’t there sniffing me, I went back to sleep until 8:00.

I took my shower, packed my bags, and took everything to the van.

I headed back to the conference where I grabbed some breakfast, and then listened to Gary Stager, the Friday morning keynote speaker.  After he finished, I stayed for his informal chat workshop, and was really impressed.  He’s a total no-nonsense kind of guy and I really appreciate that in a speaker.  Particularly when the topic is education.  New Jersey is headed for tough times with our new Non-Public Education Friendly governor.  Forget getting kids engaged and involved in their learning.  Let’s just test them to death.  Ick.

Sorry…didn’t mean to get political.

Yes, yes I did.

Anyway, after that was over, I looked through the brochure and saw that the remaining workshops didn’t really apply to myself or to my district, so I checked out.

Let’s flashback for a moment to Techspo 2008.

I had only been to Atlantic City once before and am not a gambler, by any stretch of the imagination.

However, I figured that I couldn’t be in AC and not try my hand at a little gambling.

So, I walked over to a $5 slot machine, stuck in a $5 bill and won $500. 

Yes, that’s right.  My first $5 ever and I won $500.

Never happened  before and will never happen again.

I don’t win stuff.

That’s just not my general luck.

I pulled out my tickets, jumped around like a loon, all by myself in the casino at 10:30 am, cashed it in and got the heck outta there before I could gamble it away.

So, this time, I knew I had to at least try.

The odds were against me, but to not try would be admitting defeat without even giving it a chance.

After checking out, I went to the same casino room, found the same $5 slot machine, put in my $5 bill and…

…no, I didn’t win $500.

But, I did win $55!

So, again, I cashed out and practically ran to the van, with the slots calling my name, daring me to win bigger.

Now, I’m home, $55 richer, and oh so happy to be woken up at 4 am by both Monkey in the Middle and Baby Monkey who needed to be as close to me as possible. 

I had an incredibly relaxing night away, but I miss Real Man and the monkeys when I’m not with them.

Away is fun.

Home is always better.

Oh, and if you’d like to view my presentation, here it is:


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