Conference Dinner Parties. Awkward.

I’ve decided when I attend a conference, I need to take some time to contemplate the experience before I blog about it (and on advice of counsel).

Plus, I’m usually jet-lagged and need to catch up on my sleep (advice from Buddy the Dog).

The exception to this plan is when something horrific happens during my travels and I feel the need to immediately post the details of the occurrence (humiliation is best shared with blog readers).dinner party

Sadly, my trip to Phoenix was pretty quiet.

Although two kind strangers went out of their way to make the trip slightly memorable.

First, I got felt up in the airport (thanks TSA guy named Dan… we always have those special 2 minutes together at 5:00 am in the St. Louis Airport).

And secondly there was a nice lady sitting next to me on the return flight who was kind enough to drop her half eaten breakfast burrito in my lap (I still smell like eggs, cheese, and salsa… ah, who am I kidding… I always smell like eggs, cheese, and salsa).

Travel stinks.

I don’t know how people do it as a regular part of their jobs.  But I digress.

The conference was great.

The one thing that sticks out is I felt like an idiot from the very beginning.

I know this is true because I am very familiar with this feeling.

It washes over me about twice a day.  Get up. Feel like an idiot.  Shower.  Shave (if I have to).  Go to work.  Feel like an idiot.

Welcome to my world.

This feeling becomes even more overwhelming when I’m asked to do one certain task.

Speak in public?


Eat a spider? 

No (and this is a whole different blog).

Face almost near certain death?

No.  This will be a nice break in my otherwise hectic existence.

What could possibly be worse than public speaking, eating spiders, and death?

The always awkward and painful pre-conference 5 hour dinner with total strangers.

If you haven’t experienced this odd human event, let me fill you in (and warn you).

They are a national conference staple.  Especially if the parties involved pay for your flight (Warning!  Warning!  Warning!)

Nothing in life is free (but if it is, please feel free to send it my way).


Not even death (Have you priced a funeral lately?).

If someone offers to fly you to a national conference, pay for your hotel suite (it’s a requirement of my contract… along with only certain colors of M & M’s), and feed you like a King (or Queen)… know one thing.

They are going to make you attend 1-3 conference dinners.

And they are long dinners.

And I mean looooooooooooooooooooooooong.

People (and by people, I mean women) give birth in less time (except my wife and she will be more than happy to tell you all about how long it was… and it seems to get longer each year)

Now my theory: If God wanted us to spend half a day eating dinner, he wouldn’t have invented fast food.

But that’s just me.

I don’t need 4 courses of food I can’t pronounce spread over 300 minutes with total strangers (which by the way aren’t strangers by the time you’re done eating).

You might be thinking I’m implying my dinner companions were boring, and it was painful for me to sit with them for this lengthy amount of time.

I am not.

I’m implying I’m so boring it’s painful for me to sit with me for this length of time.

This is especially true when I’m not sure if I should order the wild boar, seal, or the baby kitten (I’m telling you I had no idea what was on that menu).

The other challenge of spending this much time with strangers is you have to be interesting which is something I’m not willing to do.

This takes effort.

And I’m not that ambitious.

I would much rather listen than talk because quite frankly after 496 blogs, I need some new material.

Plus, probably the only thing that is remotely interesting about me is that I’m a superintendent who blogs.

This little fun-fact would make wonderful dinner conversation, but then I would have to explain what a blog is, why I do it, how many people read it, and how I’ve managed not to be fired from my day job.


Plus, if I mention this to the nice people at the dinner party they might be hesitant to talk about their lives because it could end up on this blog.

And they would be correct.

So if you invite me to a long-drawn out dinner party know 3 things.

One, I’m a busy man who likes to eat quickly.

Two, if you say it, I will use it against you (future blogs…  be afraid, very afraid).

And three, anything deep fried is tasty.  Including wild boar.

At least I think it was wild boar.

How many forks does one man need to eat dinner?  Correct answer:  One.

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School Administrators Need to Limit Access. Huh?

Embrace Technology or Get Left Behind.

At the District Administration Magazine conference this week in Phoenix (yes, I said Phoenix), there was a discussion on social media and its use in schools.

I’m never shocked when school administrators talk about limiting access for students (I’m not happy, but not shocked).

I was surprised when several superintendents talked about why they don’t personally use it.

Their reason?  They don’t want to give parents and community members any more access to school business than they already have.


Color me dumbfounded.  And tan (yes, I said Phoenix).

I assumed everyone knew it was 2011 (although I know what happens when I assume).

Everything is accessible.

The world’s a big place and it’s getting smaller.

Parents are demanding schools be more open.  They want to know and see what their children (and teachers) are doing.  They want information, and they want it immediately.

If you don’t believe me, Google it.

Our lives are no longer just our lives.

People have access to us whether we like it or not.

I think we have two choices:  use and understand social media or stick our head in the sand and hope it goes away.

And I’m pretty sure it’s not going away.

If you don’t believe me, Google it.

Just so you know, I’m typing this on my resort balcony.  Sure it sounds fun, but there is a slight glare on my computer screen as I enjoy the 94 degree sunshine.  And if that wasn’t enough, the ice cubes in my drink are melting ever so slightly.

It’s not easy being me.

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Traveling is Fun. Pre-Travel is Not.

I hate pre-traveling.

The planning.My Packing Skills Have a Lot to Be Desired.

The scheduling.

The packing.

The over packing.

The drive to the airport (2:45 am wake-up call).

The sleepless night because you lie in fear you won’t hear your 17 alarm clocks, and you will miss the whole thing.

The arriving at the airport 2 hours early, just so I can make my way through security in 43 seconds.

While 43 seconds sounds quick, it’s a lifetime when you’re being touched in places where you shouldn’t be touched (how many people on the no-fly list do I share a name with???)

The checking in at the hotel only to discover I’ve forgotten something I reminded myself over and over not to forget (mental note… don’t forget toothbrush… and pants).

You may be asking why I travel if it’s such a hassle?

Because it’s free!  And you know how I love the free stuff (email me if you have any questions… and free stuff).

Once or twice a year, I accept a very gracious invitation that has me show up and attend meetings at a location that’s at least 40 degrees warmer than the one in which I live.

This time it’s the good people at District Administration Magazine.

They have been kind enough to fly me to Phoenix.  They are also going to provide me with some professional development.

And golf.

But mostly professional development.

With some golf.

I can’t thank them enough for the airfare, resort hotel, the opportunity to learn more about technology, instructional design, health care budgets, drop-out prevention, and school wellness.

And don’t forget the golf.

Now if I could just do this without all the pre-travel hassle.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.