Persian Lime

I ordered Myer Lemon trees and a year later realized that I was watering a Persian Lime tree- so much for making lemonade.

South Florida Beauty

Residents of South Florida are blessed with scenes like this one almost daily- I captured this training for one of my 1/2 marathons.

Reflective Self-Portrait

A quick self-portrait while photographing every day objects in a local North Miami Beach park. I love our local parks.

Fins Up!

Whether it's the marine life or American football, I love Miami's Dolphins. Go Fins!

Cool Water, Good Books and Fresh Air

One could argue that all is needed for a good life is warm sun near cool water in the fresh air with good book and perhaps some good company.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

#BbWorld Day 1 Review

+Blackboard Inc. 's #BbWorld13 Day 1 Recap Video

A shout out to all the new VIP or non-VIP bloggers and to all the new #BbWorld attendees like myself.  Did I have any idea what would be in store for me?  Not a chance.

My journey started months ago when I entered a contest that I didn't think I'd win and did actually win.  I was chosen to be a VIP #BbWorld blogger.  So excited, especially since I've never been to Las Vegas before either.

Fast Forward to Vegas and I have my VIP blogger packet.  I try to enter the exhibit hall to "help" a friend (@MattAcevedo) set up his poster session.  Your VIP blogger pass does not unlock all doors- I was not allowed to enter the exhibit hall unless I stood on my head reciting the alphabet backwards, AND had an orange wristband.  No worries.

Soon after the reality of my VIP Blogger  badge was shown to me, John Chen (the happiest man ever?) told me about GooseChase and the #BbWorld13 Scavenger Hunt.  At first I wasn't going to enter, then I changed my mind when I saw how easy the initial missions were.  Participating in the Scavenger Hunt does help you see a large portion of what's available at the conference (the picture above was taken to "introduce myself"- score 10 points!) I did give up within 1 hour of the exhibit hall being open that night when one player had over 5k points and I was somewhere near 300.

The information above was written while at #BbWorld13 with the best intention that at the end of the day, I'd have a great recap.  Never got around to that, whether it was Vegas, those deep bathtubs with TVs in view or awesomeness-exhaustion, we'll never know.  I was even going to do a compilation of #bbworld13 tweets, organizing them.  Storify is a great way to do that, btw. What I remember about Day 1 is Clay Shirky's keynote, talking about LOL chickens (who knew there was such a thing) and getting my picture taken with him.  Did you know that people think he looks like Tom Hanks, with less hair of course?

I also met some super great  blogger folks (I'd be crazy to try and name them all for missing one would sadden me, but I did spend a lot of time with +Shayla Burroughs .  I would so do this blogger gig again.  It was awesome.  I think it made fitting in, finding my place in this HUGE conference easier.  I got to really connect with a few people, which if I wasn't a blogger the opportunities might have slipped through the sidewalk cracks.  I'm so happy that +Josh Murdock  blogged about being fitted for his Google Glass on his website and +Melissa Stange allowed me to check out her Glass.  I love tech so it was a little like Christmas in July!  Of course there was lots of tech at the conference, especially in the Exhibit Hall. I refrained from picking up most swag because I'm trying to live simpler, but swag was available with product demonstrations galore.

Day before the conference, I learned to: arrive early, pack a change of clothes in your carry-on and stay hydrated.  First day of the conference I learned that even though I love my purple wig and it definitely made me easier to approach/more friendly, it sho' is hot.  Can't imagine wearing it every day, all day.  It only lasted 2 days of the conference, unlike my excitement for #BbWorld which is still beating along like an Energizer bunny.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Maniac Monday (Wish it was Sunday?)

I'm coming to you ahem- live from the Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada- one day before the most exciting #BbWorld13 conference begins- where technology and education collide in 4th of July fireworks-style.  Attendees have been trickling in all weekend, either to get a few more days in Vegas, baby! or attend pre-conference summits/#DevCon13.  Not all roads were paved smoothly.  @certtechpro (Melissa's) luggage was lost. +Shayla Burroughs (@shaylamsb) flight was delayed [and Shayla's luggage is MIA- missing in action, but maybe also in Miami [revised to include the delayed @kellymedu (Kelly) and delayed @bhgd13 (Bill H.).  And well, I almost missed my flight because I was wearing new shorts with shallow pockets and in my pocket was my phone with ID & ATM/CC.  Said items fell out of my pocket in the car and only because the kindness of strangers (and not-so-strangers... Thanks @mattacevedo!), the fact that I was super early and the fact that I have an amazing partner who returned to the airport after dropping me off to return said very important items to me, did I actually make the flight.

Fast forward to an excellent uneventful flight via +American Airlines (thank you!) , a not-so-short stint of waiting for Godot
on the shuttle bus to the hotel(s)... I arrived dehydrated with a slow growing headache.  $6 for a bottle of powerade in the room and I didn't even blink as I downed that sucker. This was at 9am Vegas time.  After enjoying a lovely latte from Tintoretto Bakery when I finally ventured outside to go to Walgreens, I walked out into an oven.  I am used to heat.  Not complaining, just stating.  Miami is a sauna and Vegas is an oven.  Headache is retreating- have to prepare for celebratory "we (eventually) made it to Vegas" drinks.  For reference, Walgreens has a good selection of decently priced beer, wine and hard alcohol (that section is as big as or bigger than the healthcare section).

On a different note, the Venetian/Palazzo app doesn't have a "you are here" feature but when you can use the search function and it will give you directions from a point that you select to your destination.  Not as good as you are here, but well enough.  On another note, if you are not here... you should be.  If you can't though... me and my fellow #BbWorld13 bloggers will give you a glimpse into the awesomeness that is happening here.  Follow us here in the twitterverse!

I haven't seen one Elvis yet!  However, if you see the Chaos Monkey... let me know, @UXMoose wants to buy it a drink.  You can reach me via my telephone in my toilet closet/bathroom or at @skyvking (aka purple-wig wearing turtle lover).

Welcome to Vegas, baby!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Nothing To Do in Vegas?

Official VIP #BbWorld13 Blogger
aka Color Commentator
As you might know, I've been selected as an official VIP blogger for #BbWorld13 which according to my unofficial sources is the best conference every year to go to in my field- it also helps that we use Blackboard as our Learning Management System.  It's in Las Vegas, NV which I will now refer to Vegas because I can and life is short.  I've never been to Vegas (which neither has my partner and it's sad she can't come) and I've never been to a #BbWorld Conference.

If you know me at all, you know I'm a planner.  +Blackboard Inc. makes it easy to plan with their mobile app.  Please note that when I added the sessions to my iCalendar, it made each event 1 hour later than it is actually so I had to edit each one before I saved it to my calendar- don't even try it with iOS7 (beta).  One of the "must see sessions" that I won't miss is "The Ins and Outs of Designing an Exemplary Course on 7/11 from 4:15-5:10 in Venetian 1.  One of my top-notch collegues (Matt Acevedo) is co-presenting highlights from his Director's Choice winning course (the link shows a course tour video). Hopefully next year, I'll be doing the same as Matt (aka "the Doctor").

Need an idea of the amazingness of #BbWorld?  Check out this video for a taste test.

It may not be ALA battledecks, but even #BbWorld has it's own gaming (ahem, not gambling) through its Scavenger Hunt (click on the link for a video introduction to the hunt).  Maybe there will be another flash mob this year or some special guests?

Even after all this, there is VEGAS, baby!  Want to see the sights... check out the "strip?" Most #BbWorld goers got a sweet deal at a stay at the Venetian and Palazzo (they have an app for their property too!) Nearly every Vegas hotel on the strip has some kind of novelty to enjoy, like the fountains at the Bellagio.  From the Luxor, another great deal for a "slight" discount to see the sights.  Check out @Blackboard's suggestions for what to do during your conference downtime. My silly choice is to check out Toby Keith's I love this bar and grille just because I'm down home like that.

Less that a week #BbWorld13 or bust... And for future reference, what happens in Vegas- doesn't stay in Vegas (I'm a VIP Blogger, yo!).