I’ve been back home for two weeks! A few things in no particular order:

My hair is happier here, but my allergies went bonkers almost immediately, and only let up when we had a couple of days of rain. I’ll put up with that, though, because I was struck once again by what first amazed me about this region: THE GREEN. Coming back at the end of May means jumping directly into the manic growing season. Everything is green or flowering or both. My front yard grew a foot while I was gone. And it was a long drink of water for the heart after being in dry crispy SoCal. Yeah, it rained a bit while I was there, but it’s just a dry place, and this thousand-year drought…the saddest thing I saw, in some ways, was all the dying bamboo at the Huntington Gardens. We helped the neighbor put up a fence over Memorial Day weekend, and they have a huge zone of bamboo in one spot along the fence line. The contrast was quite vivid!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, last Saturday I spoke at AlterConf in Seattle. It was the first time I’d given a presentation in public since my HighEdWebDev talk in 2004! THE NERVES. The worst part, really, was entirely my own fault: I got accepted maybe a week before I left for SoCal, and I was “going to” work on it while I was out of town. [nope.gif] Well, I did spend one morning at Copa Vida making notes, which I guess was helpful, but I didn’t really tackle it until, um, my first week back in the office. Thankfully I had Justin’s slides and notes to work from, since he presented on the same topic from a different angle back in March. His slide design is fabulous: mostly what I needed to do was find my own voice.

So this was interesting, having not worked on something like this in forever: I know my subject matter pretty well, so what I did was close my office door and start talking out loud. I stopped pretty often to scrawl concepts or phrases on my office whiteboard, and once the whiteboard was full, I sat down and wrote it out in Evernote. It wasn’t until I had that mostly worked out that I went back to the slides to figure out what I wanted to keep, what to toss out, and what I needed to create for myself.

I only really practiced in front of other people once: for Susan and Justin on Friday. (!!!!!) But they gave me some good ideas for things to adjust, and overall just worked on boosting my confidence. (I opened my door at one point to take a break, and Susan asked how I was doing. “I’m going to throw up and then run away.”) I was still working on the slides ON THE BUS on Saturday, and even in a coffeeshop right before going over to the venue. But for all that, I feel pretty good about how the talk actually went. Parts of my brain are still THAT WAS TOO FORMAL or YOU ARE A TERRIBLE AWKWARD DORK or DID THAT EVEN MAKE SENSE, but I just keep telling them to STFU, because the actual feedback was good. (And I will always be thankful to Ryan Macklin, who I finally met, and to Ashe Dryden, for both being such engaged listeners that I could always look at them at any point and feel like SOMEONE was listening and got it.)

As for the rest of the day: I didn’t have internet, because reasons, so I don’t have live notes. Plus also nerves. But it was really interesting, different from anything I’ve been to before, overall I would highly recommend it. Joe Larson has a good summary of the day, if you’re curious. All the talks were good in very different ways. And Anna Zocher’s very short talk about disability got me to look into my own long-term disability insurance at work. (FYI for state employees: if you sign up after the grace period when you start, there’s an eligibility form; the first two years of insurance are Own Occupation, and if you’re disabled after that, it’s Any Occupation.)

Oh: I bought a car! Weird how that’s an afterthought about the last two weeks. Long story short: it’s a Mitsubishi i-MiEV, an all-electric car, a 2012 that’s like-new, less than 10000 miles. I’ve been calling it “the bubble car” because to me that’s what it looks like. I love driving it, and best of all, I was able to get to Lakewood on Saturday, eliminating the shittiest part of taking the bus to Seattle. (Oh, Oly express bus schedule, how I hate you.) Got there and back no problem, still with maybe a quarter of a “tank” left when I got home Saturday night.

Being at DrupalCon and taking a ton of photos in SoCal got me inspired to work on my own photo site, and hopefully I’ll have something set up soon. At the moment it’s on a local computer for faster development. It’s been fun figuring out how things work, and what I really want out of a photo site, and at the same time as doing dev for converting the CMS at work to Drupal. The learning goes back and forth across the two projects!

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