OK -- point of a blog is regular, if not daily updates. But I'm taking a real vacation -- two weeks, not business related.
A couple of notes from the road. Atlanta is a great place for the family, but there is a lasting impression for my daughter, Ashley. At the Georgia Aquarium, she was first overrun by a youth group that pushed her aside to go up the kiddie slide, only to twice rejected by the attendant because she was too tall. She sent her away to take off her shoes, only to send her away -- pretty rude, I might add -- a second time.
Second event that gives my dear 10 year old a lovely memory. At the Braves game, the dugout crew was tossing out tee-shirts along the outfield fence. I'm standing behind Ashley, and can see that she's made eye contact. Maybe this makes up for Aquarium wench. Unfortunately, a 16 or 17 year old reaches in for the interception. The good news? After badgering several people who tried to sit in our section, her dad learns from the ushers that indeed he is sitting in the wrong area and they move them in the fourth inning.
Otherwise, Atlanta was a great time -- with the exception of that one person the Aquarium was a huge must see. The zoo was fantastic. Ashley is a huge panda girl, and we got to see so much more of the bears than other zoos. Huge two thumbs up for Gladys and Ron's Chicken and Waffles, well worth the effort.
On to Florida and beach time for my wife. Back in the office and prep for the fall semester next week.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
OK -- point of a blog is regular, if not daily updates. But I'm taking a real vacation -- two weeks, not business related.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Thanks to all the CoSIDA members who have had nice things to say about my presentation on SNWs. If you need the info -- PPT and PDF -- they are linked off my bio page at LADYBACKS.COM.
One person said afterwards that they thought it was effective because I had the right amount of dark presence to sell the problem. Umm, hmm, I think that was a compliment. Either that or scaring the bejesus out of people really is my strong point.
Lots of folks have asked about policies on SNWs. We've got one, but it's been poorly enforced. Some summer work is going into a better one that focuses on education and consequences. Later in the week, I'll post some outline notes from that regarding a plan to present to our athletes at orientation in August.
I mentioned this in the early DC posts, here's the upcoming Ozarks At Large script on travel. I did this before heading to DC with Ashley.
WALKING OFF THE AIRPLANE, AND STRIDING THROUGH THE PARKING LOT, THERE IT WAS. A CLASSIC VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE – JET BACK WITH THE ORIGINAL CHROME ACCENTS. IMMEDIATELY I WAS TRANSPORTED BACK 40 YEARS TO MY EARLIEST MEMORIES OF ARKANSAS, CRAWLED INTO THE LUGGAGE SPACE BEHIND THE REAR SEAT OF MY MOTHER’S BLACK 64. I COULD LOOK STRAIGHT UP OUT OF THE REAR WINDOW, MY OWN SUN ROOF, BOUNCING ALONG IN THE PRICKLY PEAR FABRIC. THE GREY AND BROWN SPECKLED JUTE UPHOLSTERY HAD A UNIQUE SMELL, A SPECIAL FEEL. IT WAS WHERE I RODE TO VISIT MA-MA IN THAT TINY LITTLE HAMLET OF ARKANSAS CITY. I REALIZE ON THAT AFTERNOON THAT I AM A TRAVELER NOT ONLY BY NATURE, BUT BY BIRTH. MY FATHER, ILL ALL MY LIFE WITH A LAUNDRY LIST OF MALADIES, NEVER LET HIS HEALTH KEEP HIM FROM WORK, AND AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, TRAVEL. A MAN WITH AN EIGHTH GRADE EDUCATION, HIS ADVANCED DEGREES CAME FROM LIFE ON THE ROAD. HE OFTEN SAID THAT HIS WISH FOR ME WAS TO SPEND A YEAR ON THE ROAD – OH SO KEROAC FROM THE MAN WHO GREW UP AS THE SON OF A MULE TRADER AND SAW THE SOUTH PACIFIC COURTESY OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY. I HAVE NO DOUBT HE WAS CORRECT. I LEARNED PLENTY OF THAT LIFE AS A QUASI ROADIE FOR PERCY SLEDGE, THAT CROONER OF SOUL, AS HE MADE HIS WAY THROUGH HONKY TONKS IN SOUTH LOUISIANA; ROLLING ACROSS AMERICA WITH COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL TEAMS. CALL ME A ROADS SCHOLAR – AS PROUD OF THE DEGREE EARNED FROM DECADES OF TRAVEL AS THE ADVANCED DEGREES BESTOWED BY INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING. IN THE END, WHAT I SAW AND LEARNED FROM THE ROAD, ABOUT AMERICA, ABOUT LIFE, IS THE EQUAL OF MY ACADEMIC TRAINING. MANY DAYS OF THE WEEK, MORE IMPORTANT. AFTER THIS FATHER’S DAY, I REMEMBER AND HONOR THAT ADVISE AS I TAKE MY DAUGHTER ON HER FIRST MAJOR SOJOURN – A TOUR OF THE NATION’S CAPITAL; JUST LIKE THE ONE HER OLDER BROTHER RECEIVED IN FOURTH GRADE. I CAN ONLY HOPE THAT SOMEDAY, THEY’LL SEE AN IMPOSSIBLY LONG ESCALATOR AND SMELL THE OZONE OF ELECTRIC MOTORS AND THINK ABOUT THOSE TIMES SPENT IN THE DC METRO. LIKE THE OLD BLACK BEETLE, I PRAY THOSE MEMORIES WILL ALLOW THEM TO CARRY ON THE FAMILY TRADITION.
I think that after the trip, I achieved the goal.
In the catch-up from last week's handheld debacle . . .
John Boozman gets the genuine nice guy elected official award. His office did the usual constituient service with a capitol tour for my daughter, but Boozman took time to meet with us twice, really three times when we had two chances to chat during a photo op. He made a connection with Ashley, and impressed me with his interest in all the folks on the tour.
OK, it's his job to be sensitive to our needs. Here were the differences:
When Will came to DC back seven or so years ago, the congressional staffers that were friends of friends of the family that were suppose to hook us up on the Hill were no-shows. Being there counts, so older brother never got his backstage tour.
I've had the privilege of several DC trips with our teams in official capacities. We saw the congressman more than any other politician, except for our Oval Office visit with Clinton. Here's another person that is a nightmare for staff because he wants to spend time with visitors.
Past relations with the Boozman staff proved that his people are in tune with staying close to the voters; now I can see it comes from the top.
Moving on to the rest of the trip, let me say there is nothing quite like sitting in the front-row recliners for dinner at ESPNZone. Ashley ranked that pretty high since she could watch Shameka Christon's key blocked shot to send the Liberty into OT up close and personal.
After an initial concern about shelling out the money, International Spy Museum was well worth the admission fee. Maybe because we had to pay vs. Smithsonians and others, Ashley and I spent a considerable amount of time with the exhibits. Three hours later when they kicked us out at closing, Ashley told her mom and friends that her top things in DC were the capitol (see above), the pandas and the Spy Museum.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Here's an important piece of advice: Never run out of plush panda dolls on a panda's first birthday. It was -- OK, here it come -- pandamonium when the one sponsor table with the stuffed pandas ran out for a moment at the National Zoo.
It's not so much the running out -- that is bound to happen -- but what happened next that was a bit scary and revealing. Ashley and I had worked to the front of the line just as the pandas ran out. She was OK with that, knowing that she'd already received a stress panda and some other items. Plus, for working with the Pennies for Pandas program, she knew there was a gift basket waiting for her.
But when more pandas were found and the annoucement was made -- for kids only -- and they started passing out pandas over her head; well, that's different. Knowing the workers were ignoring the adults, I just tried to get their attention by pointing at my daughter. I guess they thought I was attempting to get one for myself, but finally I got one of the police officers tasked with crowd control's attention and he nudged the folks behind the table to pay attention. Ashley got her bear and we escaped for the other end of the zoo.
Seeing the pandas was almost anticlimatic by the end of the day, but we can say we did and were there on the birthday. As much as the pandas, the O-Line with the orangutans free climbing overhead was the highlight of the day.
After a long day of walking (by the way, do not trust a bus shelter map over your sixth sense for direction), Ashley and I got back the Harrington just in time to click over for the World Cup final. Minutes after flipping the channel, there it was -- Zidine's massive head butt. I still can't understand why, but it served as one of those huge moments of reminding us why sports matter.
My daughter, a soccer player but of passing interest in the WC, turned to me with a stunned and pained expression on her face. Why did he do that? For the rest of the night as we went across the street to ESPNZone for dinner, she would point out the man with the head butt on replays on the screens. That image has stuck with her, and she now remembers his name, his country and what his action cost.
Here's a little American girl, with no sense of what this man's life or career means, but she has a very clear understanding that Zidane equals bad sportsmanship.
Soccer teaches once again during this WC, just not the sugary sweet Disney fairy tale the marketeers wanted.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Here are some of the really important things I learned today:
Never walk away from a Starbucks in DC and assume you'll find another. I could not believe it, but to save some blocks and time, I convinced Ashley that we could avoid the Starbucks a block up 11th to pick up breakfast along our forced march through the monuments in the pre-Smithsonian opening hours. Who knew that besides Fayetteville, Ark., there was another place on earth that had not achieved total assimilation into the coffee borg?
Never hike the monuments first; Smithsonian second. Lord, do that on two separate days. I did this in reverse with Will about seven years ago -- those seven years make a difference on the feet.
Do take advantage of the 9 a.m. opening of the first floor at Air & Space. We trodded up at 9:05, and it looked so quiet that I thought I had made a mistake. Walk straight in. Ashley walks straight into the Cessna simulator and has it all to herself for as long as she wants. By 10, things were picking up. The proof came four hours later when I had to loop back through A&S to validate my Smithsonian membership. We went through the back door that faces FAA HQ (that almost no one remembers) and we passed through security in about two minutes. The floor was a crush of humanity, and walking out the front door there was a line for bag check and security that looked like it would take 15-20 minutes to clear AND standing in the sun.
Don't waste much time with Museum of American History. It's scheduled to close in September for a year-and-a-half retrofit. I'd guess that at least half of the building is closed now, what's left running is in pretty sad shape. However, the military history and transportation exhibits are nice new additions. Caveat: when did the History Channel become the authority for Smithsonian videos? Almost all the new stuff was branded to HC; not that it's a bad thing, but just a surprise that after years of trying to be non-commercial the Smithsonian is suddenly very commercial.
Union Station remains the bomb. Oops, maybe I should use another image since that's a word that sets off (oops again) folks in DC. Nevertheless, the food court is one of the best buys for kids, its filled with local or at least regional chains.
Off to soak feet . . .
Welcome to DC -- Ashley and I are making the family tradition trip to the nation's capital. She's heading into the fourth grade, and about the same age her older brother got the tour. Settling into the Hotel Harrington, it's not quite as scary as some of the reviews said. Still, it's not the Riz, but I kind of like hte funky nature of the family hotel. This also is the first road trip that I've left the laptop behind to do some PDA experiments. If it works the way I hope, this should lead to some lighter weight road trips in the future. Tomorrow is Smithsonian day, Sundya wil be for the Zoo. Ashley was a participant in fundraising for Tai Shan, the baby panda, with her Pennies for Pandas program that she did with a school friend. Sunday is the panda's birthday, and Ashley gets to be a part of the celebration. Right now, she's amazed with looking out the window and seeing the night traffic on the street.
If we get the chance, I'll try to remote back to my desktop and post my recent commentary for Ozarks at Large about travel, you know, keeping with Road Scholar reputation.
(OK -- post-note; this was what I got typed into the PDA, and all was well until I hit that java wall. Now that I'm back, I'll set up that email to your blog thing -- live and learn.)
This will be a series of catch-up posts that really happened over the past five days, but thanks to the discovery much too late that my little Dell X51 can surf just fine but when it comes to things like this website, not so much. I'll follow with my what would have been posts from the DC trip -- fulfilling the other half of this blog purpose.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
I've posted the PPT and PDF from my CoSIDA presentation on my bio page at LADYBACKS.COM.
I know several folks asked if I was available to come onto campus and scare the bejesus out of your student athletes or administrators. Yes, and I won't wait until Halloween. Contact me direct and let me know if you're serious, and if it fits my schedule.
Thanks for all the comments and feedback after my presentation on Wednesday. I hope that it wasn't too long or sounded a little windy -- I was a little worried about opening up with Aldus Huxley and George Orwell. And Neil Postman brings it all together in a single line:
In chatting with other SIDs after the session, both young and "old", I am even more convinced of the central premise of the presentation: the end users, in this case, Millennial generation college students and precollege students, have absolutely no understanding of what the dangers are.
Let me share a couple of post meeting items:
Another school SID said he has repeatedly advised his female student-athletes that its a bad idea to post schedules, and now, without thinking about the security impacts, had been using the "where are you now" function to say she was at the study center in the middle of the night. She didn't give a moments thought to the fact she'd just broadcast exactly where she was, and where she was going shortly, her dorm room address.
I received further confirmation of the use of Facebook by our NCAA preditors -- agent "runners" and gamblers -- from a couple of schools. Both nipped the attempts in the bud, but they are receiving incredible amounts of intelligence.
There was great interest in proprietary information restrictions, as there should. Think this example through. It's Thursday of game week. Star player twists a knee. Teammates, roommates, maybe even star himself, posts on Facebook he's on his way to the doctor, or gives a prognosis. That's a golden triple play -- we've got a HIPPA violation, advantage for the opponent and a piece of information tout sheets in the past spent considerable time and money to gleen for the betting line.
Still think student's right to free expression outweighs the institution?
Also, for those that asked, the PowerPoint is being shipped to CoSIDA.com for posting, and I'll try later today to put back-end links at LADYBACKS.COM for the PP and PDFs.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
When your national workshop runs over the Fourth of July, don't expect a lot to happen. Early morning computer technique sessions then on to golf-softball-etc. Myself, quality time spent making final edits to tomorrow's presentation on the dangers of SNW for college students and World Cup.
Speaking of, if I see the hot dog eating contest one more time on ESPN tonight, I anticipate a reversal of fortune. Can we please see World Cup instead?
Tonight, Nashville's downtown fireworks viewed from the LP Coliseum skybox. The down side -- the fireworks were detonating directly overhead and not that visible. The upside -- the fireworks were detonating about 50 yards away. It was the most intense Fourth of July experience we've had at CoSIDA, edging out Cleveland (where the fireworks are launched from the roof of the hotel of the convention) and last year's Philly show (really close with about a half million other folks and Elton John). Without a doubt, best ticket (or two) in town.
We'll see how many fireworks continue tomorrow.
Monday, July 03, 2006
Neil Postman is a favorite author, but I had not had a chance to read Amusing Ourselves to Death from cover to cover -- mainly because the Fay Pub Library has lost the only copy it had. Nevertheless, Nashville comes through and I highly recommend it to anyone dealing with the challenges of the internet.
Just as a preview of Wednesday's presentation here at the CoSIDA convention, Postman in the early 1980s was concerned about the rise of performance over substance in our culture. Replace TV with internet, and he's spot on regarding the social networking websites. Didn't really change any points in the presentation, but reinforced several. His words are better, so I'll sprinkle in some Postman quotes.
Meanwhile, it appears the organization may be losing its mind regarding some future planning initiatives. Next 24-48 hours should be interesting to see if the leadership listens to the membership or is bound and determined to set sail on its own ideas.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Opening day of the CoSIDA meetings. Always an interesting mix. Digger Phelps started the evening with a passionate speech about education and a project he's working on. Should prove to be even more interesting as the business portions of the meeting move forward.
Good to see Tammy Boclair, late of Vanderbilt, who went "over the wall" into the private business. When the site selection committee chose Nashville years ago, it was in large part due to Tammy and her work with the Nashville CVB.
Site work today was very interesting -- that won't be out until later in the week. Let's just say that unlike one school who loaded the entire office up in the university van, very few will be driving to the likely 2011 destination.
The hotel is adjacent to the downtown Nashville library. With a little slack time between committee meeting and first session, I crossed the parking deck to see if I could locate a copy of a book I hoped to use in Wednesday presentation (it's apparently gone missing at the Fayetteville Public Library). Found it and an incredibly impressive building. Great marble halls and an impressive center garden. Even better -- Neil Postman's book was on the shelves. Now I just have to cram in the read before Wednesday.