Ten Reasons to Join Us in Minnesota

The NAI National Workshop in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is fast approaching (November 8–12), and online registration closes this week. So go to the Workshop website and register now. Do it now!

Every October, I write a post about why you should join us at the NAI National Workshop. The actual reason is that it’s an inspirational and worthwhile professional development opportunity. And not only that, you just never know what sort of fun you’re going to have there. You may end up sharing a meal with a leader in the field, coming up with great ideas for new programs at your site, or witnessing two tubby knuckleheads getting their heads shaved against their wives’ wishes.

With that, ten reasons to join us at NAI 2011 next month!

  1. Saint Paul was established by the first-century apostle Saint Kirby Puckett, patron saint of Twinkies and dingers. (I may have to stop doing all of my research on Wikipedia.)
  2. Shea and I will present a concurrent session about blogging (Wednesday, November 9, at 1:00, for those of you marking your calendars). If you like reading Shea’s 150-word sentences with no punctuation on this blog, imagine hearing them in person! (If that doesn’t interest you, you can see the full list of other sessions here.)
  3. In the course of researching Minnesota culture and customs over the last year, I came across this thing called a Tater Tot Hotdish. If that doesn’t make you want to go to Minnesota, then we don’t want you there. (Photo by SEWilco.)
  4. Shea and I will be auctioneers at the scholarship auction. The event supports up-and-coming leaders in the field, and offers great deals on all sorts of goodies. Bring your own rotten fruit and vegetables to throw at us, free of charge!
  5. The largest ball of twine ever made by one person is located in Darwin, Minnesota, just under 70 miles away. You’d better believe Shea and I will be road-tripping there, and we’ll be singing Weird Al Yankovic’s “Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” all the way there.
  6. The Minnesota Timberwolves have two games scheduled while we’re in town. If the NBA’s not on strike, we may try to win the T-wolves’ “Lucky Fan Gets to Be the Starting Point Guard” contest.* I will take my Christian Laettner Timberwolves jersey** to see if it brings me luck.
  7. Friday at the Workshop, we’ll celebrate 11:11 on 11/11 twice (though the second time will be after Shea’s 9:30 bedtime). Can you imagine celebrating that event with anyone but the IBD Nerd Herd?
  8. If it’s warm enough, we’ll go for a dip in the Mississippi River. We haven’t checked the weather forecast, but we’re going to be optimistic and take our bathing suits.
  9. Saint Paul is responsible for 14 of the epistles in the New Testament. (Sorry, that’s the actual saint, not the city in Minnesota.)
  10. You just never know who’s going to get their head shaved.

See you in Minnesota!

*Our first NBA joke on IBD!
**I actually do own a Christian Laettner Timberwolves jersey.

Saint Paul photo by Alexius Horatius.

The Good, the Bald, and the Ugly

I’ve had a week or so to reflect upon the NAI National Workshop in Las Vegas. And when I say reflect upon, I’m referring to the glare emanating from our newly bald heads. In a week that was full of highlights, a few moments stood out.

IBD Preworkshop
Before it was a blog, a book, or irritable bowel disease, IBD was a concurrent session at the 2003 NAI National Workshop in Reno. We’ve presented at every NAI Workshop since then, this year in the form of an all-day preworkshop with 30 terrific participants.

Meeting IBDers
As a member of the National Association for Interpretation staff, I’ve always loved the annual opportunity to meet and reconnect with the people I truly work for—the NAI members. (The people who I officially report to and who sign my paychecks are out of the country at the moment, and also do not read this blog, so I can get away with temporarily redefining who I work for.)

Since we’ve started writing this blog, Shea and I have particularly enjoyed getting to meet in person the people who contribute regularly through comments. Pictured here are prolific contributors Canadian Joan, Uber Jeff, and Ranger Amy, who just all happened to be in the exhibit hall at the same time.

Wait Wait..Don’t Tell Me!
If you’re a nerd—and you are a nerd if you’re reading this blog—then you likely are a fan of NPR’s weekly news quiz, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! I certainly am. It was an amazing confluence of luck that the show was being taped at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas the week of the Workshop, that the taping took place the one night of the week that I was not obligated to be at a Workshop function (though I was sorry to miss seeing Friend of IBD Kelly Farrell receive her NAI Master Interpretive Manager award that evening), that Nemesis of IBD Phil Broder thought to write to NPR to ask for free tickets, that he got those tickets, and that he offered them to us.

There’s certainly nothing Phil could do to end this new era of good will.

The Comic Sans Bus
This thing tormented me the whole week. Every time I went out on the Strip, there it was, in all its outlined Comic Sans glory. Also, with those American flags, it looks like someone used a heavy dose of the Emotionator that came free with their Make My Logo Bigger cream.

Students Berating Me
As much as I like reconnecting with longtime friends at the Workshop, I try to meet as many new folks as possible. We had the opportunity to sit with a lively and fun group of students from Humboldt State University during the closing banquet. I knew right away that this would be no ordinary conversation when it started with, “Are you the guy who does Legacy? We have some ideas for you….”

Splitting 8s
There’s nothing better than splitting 8s against a dealer’s 7 and winning both hands when the next three cards shown are face cards. Am I right? Well, this did not happen to me.

Phil Broder Sticks it to Shea
When we were asked to participate in the annual scholarship auction as auctioneers, we jumped at the opportunity. We thought, we’ll have a microphone and a captive audience, what could go wrong? Then we thought, we’re going to have to do something really different, and by different we mean stupid.

So then we had the perfect idea: We’ll have a competition to raise money and the loser gets his head shaved. I can’t possibly lose! (Keep in mind, we’re both thinking this.) So we should have known that when the final results of the competition were announced (I forget what the final verdict was, it was so long ago), Nemesis of IBD Phil Broder would come storming to the front of the room with a fistful of cash yelling, “Whatever the difference is, I have enough here to make it a tie!” So much for the era of good will.

And we should have known, too, when we auctioned off the right to actually shave our heads, it would be the fine people at the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, who brought us to Los Angeles this past summer to present a two-day workshop, who would pony up the cash to do so.

Sarena Gill to the Rescue
And finally, in a display of the human kindness that makes interpretation so great, that last day of the Workshop and my first day of baldness, Sarena Gill showed up at the registration desk with argyle beanies for Shea and me to help keep us warm. And, of course, it was Phil Broder, moments later, who said, “I didn’t pay $69 and change to see you two wearing hats!”

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Posts for this World Series Update

Paul and I became friends in 2003. The idea of IBD was conceived (a word I don’t usually used in describing my relationship with Paul) not long after we first presented a concurrent session together at an NAI National Workshop in Reno, Nevada. It wasn’t long after becoming friends that we discovered our shared passion for baseball, along with other common emotional issues: the need for hot wings, obsessive compulsive disorders, and great taste in women.

As anyone who knows us or who has ever visited this site knows, Paul is a fair-weather Philadelphia Phillies fan and I am a die-hard New York Yankees fan. Up until this point there have been few issues between us (besides one embarrassing water-spewing incident in a restaurant, which I still maintain was more Russ Dickerson’s fault than mine), especially in relation to sports. For the non-baseball types (approximately 99.9999% of our readers) who are still actually reading this post, the Phillies are in the National League and the Yankees are in the American League. The only way these two teams can meet is in interleague play during the regular season (which happens every year) or in the World Series (which last happened in 1950).

This season was different. From the very beginning the collision course of our teams seemed possible but not probable. But due to the progressive management of the Phillies and the king-sized checkbook of the Yankees, the two best teams in MLB (Major League Baseball) made it to the World Series. At some point you have to know where to draw the line. Last night, with the start of the 105th World Series, this all changed. (Phillies lead 1-0.)

I give you this background information to tell you that over the next week to ten days life as you know it on IBD may not be normal (not that many would describe it as normal in the first place). Posts that were scheduled to be posted have been preempted. You can expect random posts, snarky comments, and overly superstitious pieces of writing as to not jinx our teams. As a Yankee fan I have become accustomed to a winning tradition and feel that I can handle the ups and downs of the series. Phillies fans have faced years of frustration (despite a current respite and stint as the current World Champions) and fulfilled themselves with bread, steak, and cheese wiz. Since the long-term effects of cheese wiz is still not known, I’m not sure how Paul will respond.

So how does this affect you? Not greatly, really. Just hang in there as one of our obsessions extends into this forum and be pleased that it is not pictures of us eating hot wings at some sort of chicken convention.

For those who came here today hoping for something more than baseball banter, here’s a throwback to an earlier post, Mini Me: Web-based Photo Manipulation Software (mildly baseball related) that may be of interest to you. If you haven’t played with TiltShiftMaker.com check it out. If this post has left you for a hankering for a real throwback, here is a video with some clips from the last time the Phils and Yanks met in the World Series (1950, Yankees win 4-0).

Go Yankees!

Free Beer (in Australia) for Interpretation By Design Readers


First, a shameless plug: Regardless of where it’s held, the annual NAI International Conference is an incredibly worthwhile and energizing event. I have been fortunate enough to attend all four of them so far (in Puerto Rico, Vancouver, South Korea, and Greece), and honestly, the enthusiasm for the profession and the individual connections one makes at the event will change your worldview.

The next one will be held April 2010 in Australia, and if you want to present a concurrent session, the Call for Presentations is open until September 30, 2009. And my own personal pledge: I will purchase a large can of Foster’s for any IBD reader who comments on this post to indicate their plans to attend (and who actually attends).

Even though the conference is more than half a year away, I’ve started getting fired up for Australia. The first thing that got me thinking about it in any sort of real way was setting up the event’s website. While I have never been to Australia, I have certain preconceptions about the location:

  • The country’s natural beauty was featured prominently in the Lord of the Rings movies. (Note: That’s not Australia. That’s New Zealand.)
  • Brett and Jemaine from the band Flight of the Conchords are hilarious. (Note: Also New Zealand.)
  • Everyone who lives there can wrestle a crocodile to the ground and then make boots out of it, and will do so repeatedly in as many sequels as they can squeeze out of one shaky premise. (Note: Those were the Crocodile Dundee movies.)
  • That’s not a knife. This is a knife. (Note: Also Crocodile Dundee.)

Okay, so clearly, I know nothing about Australia, which created an interesting set of challenges when I sat down to design a website for an event to be held there.

TownsvilleSkyline08The site of the conference is Townsville, Queensland, which is a coastal town along the great barrier reef. I started with royalty-free images found on Wikimedia (which is a very useful site) and stock.xchange. I derived a web-friendly color palette (cool colors and warm neutrals, nothing too bright) from a photo by Jenny Rollo, then added an image of the skyline (pictured here) that I found on Wikimedia. Since the colors in the skyline photo did not work with the website’s color palette, I used Photoshop to turn it into a duotone that did work.

identity-2010-australiaTypographically, I aimed to create something bold yet friendly. I used a thin stroke width of Helvetica on the large word “Australia,” then used a blocky, slab serif (kind of) for the text on “2010 NAI International.”

I implemented a grid, because that’s what I do, and flowed in the information.

While my background is in print design, and that’s what I prefer to do, I enjoyed working on this project. I probably enjoyed it more because I’m excited for the event, but also, there’s a certain satisfaction in taking ideas and mental sketches and watching them turn into something real.

I hope you’ll have a look around the website, and more importantly, I hope I’ll have a chance to buy a lot of Australian lagers for IBD readers.