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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Ericast 258 - The Southwest Adventure

I'm back!  Where'd I go? I was fulfilling a near-lifelong dream. Wonder what it was? Here's your show.

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So much for the good regular show-habit... but there's a good reason.

When I was a kid I was a huge Road Runner cartoon fan; I loved the background scenery. So, for years, I've wanted to get down to the desert southwest and see if for myself. I decided this was the year: Stop dreaming and start doing!

Ruth is back to teaching, in our same school district, so she and the girls have the same break. But, "break" for teachers doesn't mean "do nothing."

So, how about a June road-trip, rather than to do Duluth?  But "Desert in Late March" is different from "Desert in Late June"

So, how about I hop a cheap flight to Vegas and drive north to scout it out?  Good idea... and once you get a hotel and rent a car and are buying meals... for just the cost of one more plane ticket I could add Candela.

So that's what I did.  It was spectacular.

Sunday night it snowed in St. Paul -- 6" or 7".  (We needed the moisture in the ground!)
Monday: Take off around 7:45 a.m., land at 9:00-something, get a car, stop at McDonalds, and head north!
Virgin River gorge at the Arizona border - wow!
Zion - shuttle buses because it's already the start of the busy season there
Tuesday: Back into Zion, then out of Zion, north to Bryce Canyon
Tuesday night: Astronomy!
Wednesday: Bryce Canyon itself. The surrounding area looks like northern Minnesota.  (It's here that Candela goes "splat" on her knee while admiring the view like I told her to.)
Thursday: Out through Red Canyon, north end of Zion, St. George (tabernacle, temple, petroglyphs)
Thursday night: Mesquite (and big comfy waterproof band-aids). Outdoor hot tub
Friday: Out through Valley of Fire, a depressing Lake Mead, a few blocks of the strip
Early to the airport thanks to quick rental car return and TSA-pre treatment for some reason
Rented a locker and wandered the terminal to kill time
Flight home at 11:55 p.m.  Candela managed to sleep a bit, but was asleep for the initial descent and hosed her ears
Picked up around 5:30 a.m. Saturday
Home to sleep, then off to the circus at 2:30 p.m.

Conclusions: Utah and Nevada (and Arizona) are beautiful.  But so is Minnesota, in a different way.

Want to see the photos?  Here's the entire vacation album of Eric and Candela's 2015 Utah Trip...

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Ericast 257 - A Million Hamsters

Have you ever misheard a song lyric? Sure you have. Can you turn that into an entire podcast episode? Let's find out.  Here's your show.

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When is our birthday?  The first Ericast episode was March 7, 2005. So it's this week, or next. When you're this old, forgetting when your birthday is could be a "theme."  Next week might be a fairly deep-ish topic on "arrogance" lining up with Episode 2; we'll see.

Background:  I like "dance music" -- e.g. Ace of Base. (On Pandora, it's epitomized in my "Ace of Base Radio")  But my current Pandora favorite is Basshunter.  (Note that it's pronounced Base-hunter; it's not music related to fishing.)

"Tweets do not imply endorsement"...?  Pandora stations are somewhat the same for me.  But I can endorse these: My oldest is "Eric's Dance Radio" and you can also enjoy "Eric's WI Memories" from "the golden age of dance music - 1990, give or take a year or two."

So, that explains the music part.  You also need to know that when my wife and I were first married, we had a pet hamster.  (More than one, actually. But not at once.)

This episode topic crossed my mind.  And then I mentioned our hamster piterest in Jeff Goins' MOOC.  And then Paul Debeddings mentioned hamsters:

Paul DeBettignies | February 28 at 10:13pm · Minneapolis, MN

For the next 36 hours I am going to stay away from any topic that can turn into a debate. So I am only going to post hamster videos and Kenny Chesney videos. If you don't like hamster & Chesney videos, well... that's on you ‪#‎36HoursOfHamsterChesneyVideos‬

That clinches it.  I needed to do a podcast episode about this.

So, that brings us to "Paradise" by Sam La More, originally from Sydney Austraila. (He's almost exactly one year younger than I am, which means he's old.)

I know he's not talking about hamsters... but, you have to admit, it sure sounds like he's talking about hamsters!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ericast 256 - The Choosatron Adventure

Reminiscing is fine... but how 'bout we bring the next generation along for the ride down memory lane? In a modern way?  Here's your show.

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Featuring The Choosatron, which I fell in love with at the August 2013 MinneDemo in Minneapolis.

The Choosatron Deluxe Adventure Matrix is a Wi-Fi connected Choose Your Own Adventure®-inspired story printer, blending digital and analogue storytelling. It is designed to be easily assembled by kids into a small interactive fiction game box, and encourage social reading, learning, and play.

And I have one.  Now.

Also... I have to admit, it's really weird seeing "256" as an episode number on the Ericast...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ericast 255 - Driving the Beam

You know those "iPad-on-a-stick" robots like the one Sheldon was driving in "The Big Bang Theory"? Ever wonder what it would be like to drive one of those?  I did.  Here's your show.

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This past week has been a really strange blip in the personal and professional schedule.  (See "Gus T. Guppy" as an example, though you have to listen to the episode to find out how that's even relevant to anything.)

Note to non-Ericast-fans: The core of the Beam discussion starts at the 8:00 minute mark.  If you want to skip the context on who I am and what I think of remote conference attendance, you can jump to that point.  But if you can spare eight minutes, I'd suggest listening to the whole thing...

So... the primary focus of this episode is my driving a Beam Pro robot from Suitable Technologies.  (Which is quite a bit more elegant than Sheldon's "Mobile Virtual Presence Device")

The venue?  The EduCAUSE ELI 2015 conference in Anaheim, California (which generated a lot of Tweets with the #eli2015 hashtag...)

How'd I get picked?  I said "Yes".  I'm not sure if having met Malcolm Brown had anything to do with it, but I had indeed met him in Madison, Wisconsin at the 2008 EduCAUSE "Learning Technology Leadership" program.
  • Driver's Education memories.  Scary, unfamiliar.
  • Robocop reboot movie mirror "reveal" moment.  Clip below (not for young kids!)
  • Paparazzi. Now I know exactly how the stars feel, except that I totally don't.  Being a Beam driver was a privilege, and I'm not complaining, but it's still distracting to have "fans"
  • Accessibility.  Being dependent on a technology-mediated experience and human "handlers;"
    • I knew I was being awkward/embarrassing to those around me -- trying to have the experience but also trying to be out of the way.
  • Cool to encounter people. "Felt" like making connections Malcolm Brown and Veronica Diaz when I saw them in front of me.
  • Might not be terribly practical, but most F2F stuff isn't.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Ericast 254 - Try Exposing Yourself!

If you don't say anything to anyone, you won't hear many complaints. But is that a good way to live? Here's your show.

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Everyone: Call 206-339-ERIC (206-339-3742) and comment!

This week: A week-in-the-life. (And, my studio chair squeaks. FYI)

Years ago we asked a post-event review question of "Is there anything that could've made this better?"   Someone's answer?  "Get rid of Eric Larson as a presenter. He uses too much self-deprecating humor."

It's at that point I decided to stop doing that, and to start deprecating others.

That weird bitter shot gave me my best self-deprecating joke ever! It's awesome!  I would've done just fine without that feedback, and I do just fine with it.  So don't fear feedback.

"With all those windows on the west side, in the afternoon, that side of the 4th floor just gets baked"

"Yeah, I've heard.  But what about the sunshine?"

Panel Discussion on tips/tricks/experiences with "synchronous online learning," where I was facilitating (vs. moderating).

Say you want to buy a car.  Ford vs. Toyota.  How not to get ripped off at the dealership.

"Wait!  I don't buy into this whole 'car' thing"

That could be outdated bias -- "My uncle sells buggy-whips and he thinks sales are picking up!"
Or that could be wise insight -- "Have you seen light rail and the bike-share programs?"

But that's not the right world -- not the right direction or set of questions -- for the people who've decided they need a car and are going to walk in a dealership and need some tips on negotiating or brand comparison.

Did we miss-market the event?  Well, if we'd been really specific and targeted really well, we could've had a quarter of the numbers in the room and they'd have all said we were awesome. And that would've eliminated the bottom 10 percent who made some really snide complaints

But what about that extra 50, 60, 70% in the middle?  Who got exposed to some new stuff and thought it was pretty good and have some new stuff to think about?

This isn't a call to be sloppy or unclear.

But if you've got a message you believe in; if you think you're doing good work, if you think you have something to offer to the right people... be willing to expose yourself to the wrong people, because that's what it's going to take if you speak up and seek out the right people.

Reflection:  I've got my stuff together and want to do _____.  Maybe you do, maybe you don't. "Humble learner" is a difficult position.  Coaching someone into humility doesn't work; that's basically seen as the definition of arrogance (and maybe it is).