Thursday, February 7, 2013

Part 3 - The People - It's all about the people

In this 3rd installment of what we did on our summer vacation, I mentioned that it would be about the people. Our jobs are people, students, faculties, friends and most especially families. But we are all about people in some way shape or form.  Part 1 is the trip to the destination of Washington State and the people we visited along the way. Part 2 was the trip home, so this is Part 3.

I happened to mention on Twitter that we were going to the Pacific Northwest one night and that I needed to look for places to stay and was wondering if anyone had any recommendations. I had decided to not attend ISTE12 in San Diego so I figured that most people in that part of the country would be gone anyway. Then I started to get some DM's from folks in my network. Stop by and visit, would love to meet you and visit. Then I received a message from Julia Fallon. When are you heading this way? What are the dates? After an exchange of messages Diane and I suddenly had a home base to work out of and a place to stay while in Washington State. Julia would be leaving for ISTE and we were more than welcome to stay at her house while in Washington State. We took her up on it.

Kelly Dumont always seemd like my kind of guy from the first time I started to interact with him on twitter. We stopped to visit with Kelly and his family while watching his son play in a baseball playoff game. That was a fun time. On one side high school ball players and behind us beautiful mountains. Kelly loves baseball like I do, He has played it I believe and I know he has coached it and he went to the same game in Baltimore that we went to when ISTE was in DC. Down to earth and so real it was nice to be able to share some time with kelly and his family.

Julia Fallon and I first met in Denver. I vaguely remembered that after she refreshed my memory. A bunch of people came out to our Denver ISTE Mansion and visited and I drove her and some others back to their hotels from the house. As with so many people on Twitter or at least in my network of folks, I have shared things, more privately than publicly but am always grateful for the people I know. Julia and I have listened to each other, shared with each other, worked together as a result of her working with John Pederson and Todd Sanders and their Mercedes Benz Super Bowl race. That was when I really interacted with Julia as so many of us did. To me she was the organizer of the chaos that was the race. Upon our arrival we sat and talked for a bit and then the next morning she was gone.

Jennifer Dhalby - While I don't know how I ended up with Jen in my twitter stream (probably thorough seeing her talk with Alec Couros, Stuart Ciske, or Tim Lauer) but anyway she constantly gets grief for the ever changing avatar picture but is incredibly thoughtful with a great deal of depth. She invited Diane and I out for a visit so we made our way out for a visit. We spent a few hours at her place visiting with the children and talking work and networks and life in general. Then she offered brownies that had been made. Good eats are always worth the trip but the opportunity to meet people face to face makes it that much better.

Luann Lee - I can't remember when Luann showed up in my network but I knew she was a passionate science teacher and for her it was all about the students. And then she started posting pictures of the "farm." A place they lived on the edge of Yamhill. Beverly Cleary Yamhill. So a trip out to the farm. We missed it the first time going down a winding two lane road and then on the return we actually saw Luanne coming down the drive. Such a beautiful area. She invited us to lunch, had a beautiful black lab named Jake that could practically knock you over with his tail wag, and a great setting out on their deck. We talked and laughed and Luann and Diane made a connection while talking about students, special needs and dyslexia. Fresh, cool air out on the deck, Jake waiting for something to fall from the table and wonderful conversation. Then we did some walking and looking around the place and were able to see some of the things they had been working on and just talked and relaxed. The visit was a good time and just showed us the beauty of the countryside as well as a wonderful person.

Tim Lauer - Seemed that every time I had tried to get to the Pacific Northwest, with the intention of visiting Tim Lauer I managed to mess something up on my body physically. One year it was heart the next year it was foot/ankle. Tim entered my network on the recommendation of several people. But alos the same way that Bud Hunt and several others entered it - reading one of Will Richardson's books. Tim also reached out to me in a very special way when I was in the hospital trying to figure out the problems with my heart. He asked if he could call me in a DM and I gave him my number and we talked for about a half hour. A strong, sensitive, caring man who quikly became a friend not just online. When I left my phone on a bus in London I tweeted out that I needed someone to call my wife and let her know what was going on. Tim answered that request. I could only imagine the look on Diane's face as she listened to who it was and just exactly why he was calling. I got my phone back two days later. Tim showed us some of Portland, Powell's Bookstore where Diane continued her affair with the written word in a hardback form and pizza as we got there on a Friday evening. Family all around and a lovely, warm family and house.

Then came Canada and Dean Shareski and the Alec Couros family. When I first entered the twittersphere I went through several people's profiles and followers to see who I might follow. Dean Shareski was one of those individuals. One day on twitter he announced that he was streaming a tour of his former house so I clicked the link. I hollered at Diane and explained what was going on and she watched over my shoulder. When Dean finished Diane said we didn't get to see the kitchen and I explained he had already been throgh there. Her response "ask him to go back so I can see it." I said there was no way I could ask him to do that as he didn't know me. Today I know that if I had asked he probably would have done it. The king of sharing online, from stains to work, to pictures, Dean is usually in the middle of it. Calling on all of us to have our work somewhere for others to see and comment on. We showed up at his door knowing that he was in San Diego. Our shot at having some fun. His youngest daughter was there and thankfully she did not invite us in. We spoke with her at the door, took some pictures of the house with the Prius in the driveway along with Diane and then kidded him about it a bit on twitter. In no way did I want him to feel bad, just having some fun and yet he still will ocassionally tell me he wished he were there. Kind thoughtful and always telling stories, but yet that is what he also wants us to do, tell our stories. I am still trying to live up to what he has shown me and I am so glad to call and be called friend by Dean.

Alec Couros also got in my stream the same way that Dean did, my grabbing him from someone else's twitter followers. Reading through some of Alec's posts, there was an immediate draw as he talked of social justice, education, and working hard to be open and transparent in the work he did. I first met Alec face to face at Educon 2.1 and was engaged from the start. I had been online working with a social media class at the school and mentioned it on twitter inviting people to come answer questions, and Alec didn't hesitate even while he was on sabbatical. His family, all 3 children and his wonderful wife are all fantastic people to be around. True, rich, warm conversations that call you to give your best are so meaningful. Easy to visit with, we headed out to their favorite Greek restaurant and had a blast.  The children were awesome listening to a bunch of old folks talk and I finally got the 2 year old to pay attention to me by playing a simple game of hide and seek through the use of a cloth napkin at the restaurant. She was so cute but all of their children are precious and beautiful. Alec has been one of those epeople that makes me truly think, think about direction, what is best, how to improve and how to serve. To sit with Alec and his wonderful wife and hear their story and the story of Canada's native people opened my eyes a bit to why he is the person he is and that was meaningful to me.

The things I have written about the people in this entry could be said for all of them and so many more in my network. I will be adding to this and linking and dropping in some more pictures but this is way overdue. If you have gotten to this point thank you for hanging with me to the end. I know it is long but it truly is all about the people, and these are some wonderful ones.

So very much more to learn and so very little time.