September 14th, 2003


New Career Step

I am hitting a new milestone in my career next month. I am speaking at a technical conference in California, the Intranets 2003. I haven't talked about it much yet, nor have I posted it at all...mostly because I feel pretty weird about it. I'm almost embarrassed. Does that seem strange? I feel like I'm doing something I'm not "supposed" to be doing, just because I haven't done it before. It's exciting and scary, both at the same time. Although I did teach a few classes at my previous job, speaking at a conference like this is a completely new experience for me.

This is a fairly small conference, but I'm told it's a good one. C has spoken at it and attended it a few times in years past. C is the one who convinced me to submit a paper several months ago. Not only did he convince me, he helped me with the actual proposal...I wouldn't be doing this at all if it weren't for him! It wouldn't have occurred to me to try such a thing.

Even when I submitted the proposal, I still didn't really expect it would get accepted. After all, nobody has heard of me, and I have no speaking credentials or anything. Still, it seemed like it'd be fun to at least try. Ya gotta start somewhere, right? I looked at what they were planning to cover, picked a pertinent topic with which I have some expertise (Interpreting User Requirements), and threw together a paragraph describing what I'd like to say. C helped me tighten it up, plus he put in a good word for me with one of the organizers he knows.

I assumed that they'd reject it, but I was still pleased that at least I'd given it a shot. When they told me they wanted me to come speak, I was floored! They only gave me a half-hour time slot, but still...they wanted me to speak! At a professional conference! Wow. It took me a long time before I even believed it myself, and much longer before I stirred up enough boldness to tell other people about it. It felt to me like it was all so inconceivable, people would just laugh if I told them. Plus, I kept expecting that something would go wrong, that I wouldn't end up doing it for some reason...then I'd just feel embarrassed that I'd mentioned it.

Tonight though, I made my plane reservations. I guess it's official...I'm going! A month or so ago, I wrote my paper and created some PowerPoint slides. (Heck, I hadn't even used PowerPoint before writing this; that shows how new to this stuff I am.) I still need to make hotel and car arrangements. I also need to look over my paper again, tweak it, and make sure the timing and such is right. There are lots of details left to be addressed, but I'm doing this. A new feather in my resume, even if it's just a small's all very exciting, even while it's overwhelming!

Bicycle Built For Two

Daisy, Daisy
Give me your answer do
I'm half crazy
All for the love of you
It won't be a stylish marriage
I can't afford a carriage
But you'll look sweet
Upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two

This morning I dragged my sleepy butt out of bed at 7:30, in order to go bike-riding! How is this possible, one may wonder, since I don't currently own a bike? Well, I rode a tandem bicycle. I have been talking to a friend of mine who speedskates with me. He is an avid bicyclist, and he has been giving me advice on what to buy. He suggested I join the cycling group for their usual standard saturday-morning ride. I rode with him on the back of his tandem.

It was initially disturbing. You have to give up control when you're on the back of a tandem. Not only did I have to go where he went, stop and turn when he did, but our pedals were even connected together. This meant that I had to pedal at the same speed he did the entire time. It was very disconcerting to begin with.

After the first few miles though, I started to get a feel for things. I came to understand how I could actually help with the pedaling, providing extra pressure and muscle, instead of just being some dead weight for him to drag along. I stopped being nervous about the turns and such. I relaxed and had a good time.

We rode around 40 miles, and we averaged about 20 MPH. It was a fun ride! There were around 20 really good bikers riding along with us, and they were all friendly. They did a lot of trash-talking among the group, everyone clearly knew one another and were having a good time, and everybody seemed pretty cool. I enjoyed myself. It was really neat riding in a pack like that.

Unfortunately by about mile 20, my butt was pretty darn sore. My legs are in shape, but my butt-bones are not!! I haven't ridden a bike in about a year, since it was over a year ago that mine was stolen. We stopped half-way and had coffee, which was a welcome relief. Of course, putting my sore butt back on that saddle afterwards was a challenge. By the time we were through, I was very relieved. My muscles were tired but feeling good....but my butt felt very tenderized ...ouchey!

It was a good workout though, and a beautiful day; I'm glad I went. I also got some additional bike-buying advice, and we wandered around a store comparing equipment afterwards. Hopefully soon I'll buy my own bike, so I can enjoy it a little bit more this season before the snow comes!