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Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

I’ve had a couple of days now to reflect on what the 2009 ASAE Annual Meeting taught me. Learning is what it’s all about, no? Educational sessions, “Thought Leaders”, social media opportunities, vendor products and last but certainly not least, networking. Yes, each of these areas taught me one or more somethings, but not necessarily what I thought I would be learning.  So, in no particular order, here are some of the highlights for me of #asae09.

1. Realizing what a great divide there seems to be between associations who are unafraid to understand what it may take to move forward, what tools are needed now, what trends to watch– and those  who don’t appear to realize business is not “as usual” even if what they are doing is working today. “Today” is a short period of time if you think about it.

Social Media is a key indicator of this divide, as conversations with others showed me. Those who understand the potential and use it now;  those who know there’s an unknown element and risk involved, but who are willing to try; vs. those who are “leaving it to the younger crowd”- -for which I responded with the well publicized statistic that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is women between the ages of 55-65.

2. Once again, learning much valuable information, whether from insightful people such as Gary Hamel, Li, Shirky, or Jeff De Cagna’s wonderful, thought provoking session looking toward the future (including his recent post about 2010), and other sessions of importance to me and what I needed to learn for my organization — to Fareed Zakaria’s closing session (once we finally got to him!). I agree with my fellow twitterer @bkmcae, who thought FZwas a brilliant writer but not the best of speakers. I bought his book and already can tell how much I will learn.

Were the sessions relevant to what associations needs are today/tomorrow? Only each attendee can answer that as we vary so. Don’t know if this is feasible for 2010 or beyond, but it would be great to indicate “for beginners” or “advanced”, etc, per each session description. Many of the social media sessions could have been tagged in that manner – so that those who needed the “how to” could get that info, while those looking for “ok you have it, now how do you maximize it, measure it, get ideas from it” could focus, exchange experiences, etc.

3. Really enjoyed the whole “twitter thing” (I am @christytj).  Not only learning from other’s tweets (found myself checking out #asae09 constantly for new info or insight), but discovering that there were so many folks who couldn’t attend the conference who were closely following our tweets and seemed to learn right along with us.  How useful this was too for staff who couldn’t attend, who passed along questions via tweets that were answered by some session speakers directly. How cool was that!

Maybe ASAE should get all 2010 session speakers into tweeting for increased communication before, during and after! Or Facebook, or podcasts, or whatever form of social media is hitting it’s peak next summer.

4. Also am seriously thinking about the questions that are being raised now via post #asae09 conversations. Do I think dues paying membership organizations are a thing of the past? Do I think social media is the only wave of the now & future? Do I think ASAE can change so much between now and 2010 (can any of us)? Will I find the answers in any of the books I bought during #asae09? In reviewing the sessions online? In the tweet exchanges? On Facebook or online articles? Probably not all of the answers, but certainly a lot of input that would never had occurred to me if I didn’t review any of these resources.

In case you missed it: content availability: ASAE’s the Hub has made it easy to find opinions, videos, Twitters, etc. I found I didn’t visit it as often as I should have as I was caught up in tweeting myself  but check it out if you haven’t. Also – just remembered, the book “Free” by Chris Anderson (of Wired mag) was mentioned over and over again – I’ll be getting that too.

And lastly as I sit and face piles of catch up work (yikes), I smile as I think of the numerous conversations I had (and am still having) with old/new friends from #asae09, whether in person, or via any form of Social Media. Can’t wait to continue these, I think of them as the “future is now” chats as I face forward to catch new ideas, new concepts, new things that worked for someone else and take advantage! Thanks.

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A beautiful day yesterday, now only in memory as the summertime starts up with humidity hitting the airwaves.  I’ve learned the trick of adjusting (somewhat) to the DC metro area. Make sure to spend a bit of time in the humidity and not just hide behind an AC somewhere. The more time you can spend outside, the more your body becomes adjusted and the next summer you find you can last a little longer before the “enough already” sets in and you run into the nearest building. If you are a tourist fortunately there are plenty of museums, free ones at that, which offer coolness and even refreshments to help you cool down.

But then there are those nights that you want to brave the humidity and get caught up in fun and rhythm and music to keep your toes tapping or even dancing. Not too far from DC, on the Maryland side is a town called Silver Spring that offers great music for free from June through August. A few examples of the types of live music being showcased this summer include: rock & roll, oldies – 50’s and 60’s, Celtic, jazz, blues from Spain, salsa, reggae, pop, funk, soul, bluegrass, West African, rock and zydeco. Phew, I am mopping my brow with a smile on my face already.

In addition to the wonderful music, the offerings include SilverDocs, “an eight day internationally recognized film festival that celebrates independent thinking and generates global media attention.”  The other thing about the SilverDocs movies (over 100) – you are inside in the cool AC, so if the heat or humidity is too high, and you want to see the unusual, this event is for you.

Downtown Silver Spring has a bunch of other activities, from books to booze (there is a relationship in there somewhere). I know most folks spend the majority of their time going to the beaches, driving hours in congested traffic, waiting in airports, in hotel lines, or even on the spare couch cushion at your cousins. But if you are in the DC Metro area or are just visiting, get away from the usual “spots” and go visit a fun place that’s only minutes away.  I know I will.

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I spent an unexpected amount of time this weekend watching Drew and John use newly designed tools to fix a broken object. From that description, sounds like I was watching a weekly PBS or cable show on home repair with a couple of hardware handymen. Nope. I was watching Astronaut/Astrophysicst John Grunsfeld and Astronaut Drew Feustel up in space giving the Hubble Space Telescope a tune-up. And if you access this blog post this Monday morning (5/18), click here to also watch the folks in space walk around your world, it’s awesome!!

One of my twitters from Saturday:

@christytj Astronaut John with red strip on back designating “free floater, wiggling his toes, 350 miles above Queensland Australia #nasa.

And a twitter from Astronaut Mike Massimino just a few minutes ago (Monday morning 5/18).

@Astro_Mike From orbit: At the end of my spacewalk, I had time to just look at the Earth, the most awesome sight my eyes have seen, indescribable.

Don’t let us forget Astronaut Megan McArthur, the women the other men constantly refer to in their space conversations. Why? She is operating the robotic arm that either holds them, their equipment or other important objects. Competent and invaluable it appears.

Either by watching them work in space, following their twitters, reading stories in your local paper or via the regular tv shows, take a moment and follow what’s happening in space. It is amazing. One last point, an answer to that often unspoken question, “Ever wonder how astronauts pee in space?

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I’m taking a break from headlines, horror stories, and other fears that are seemingly being blown out of proportion. I happened to receive an email this morning from a friend of mine, Anita Singh Soin. She and her husband have just posted a new website for their company, Ibex Expeditions,  highlighting the eco tours they provide in some of the most majestic places in the world.

Rated “amongst the best adventure travel companies on earth,”  by National Geographic Adventure, I just have to talk about them here. They are one of the most environmentally committed couples I’ve met (and working for a tourism association for fifteen years, I met many!). They truly care about this planet of ours and having heard how eco-conscious they are from people who went on their tours, I have to applaud their efforts.

Have I ever been on one of their tours you ask? No — time, distance and being out-of-shape my excuses. I have been to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other parts of that world though and know the beauty, not only of the scenary, but of the people (check out my Travel, Travel, Travel blog).  I consider myself very lucky and expect to go back someday, maybe even start working out to get into better shape to take one of those treks…

Meanwhile, I’m not going to let fear be my decision maker, either for where I travel, or whom I meet. I’m a firm believer in taking precautions and  being pro-active to learn what I need to do/watch out for, but not in just refusing to try something, go somewhere, or shake someones hand because of headlines in the news.

Speaking of headlines, I can’t resist, here’s one that’s worth a read! Wage Gap Study arrives in time for Equal Pay Day.

“A state-by-state analysis of male and female earnings provides fresh fodder for today’s Equal Pay Day. Among women with college degrees the widest wage gap was in Nevada. The widest wage gap overall was in Wyoming.”

After you check out your state and realize how much less money a woman makes than a man, go check out the IbexExpeditions web site, there’s nothing like dreaming of how you would have spent that money you would have earned.  Besides, ecotourism is still a great thing and something we all should focus on a bit more when we can. Enjoy.

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What a place to have a conference, Disney World, Fla. And what a conference, Digital Now, where fascinating information flows from sessions devoted to social media, improving communication and leading edge tools via the Internet.  It’s the end of the first day, and I’ve listed some of the neat tools mentioned by various speakers. I’ll let you explore what they can do for you and/or your organization:

I’ve been twittering (@christytj), and will be doing more tomorrow, if you are interested in other tidbits of info from the Conference. Fascinating stuff. But, too bad, can’t share with you the wonderful Disney service, you’ll have to come down here yourself!

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The temperature in and around Washington this morning is a crisp 35 degrees, colder than usual for this time of year. We had a late snow not too long ago and clouds have hidden the sun for most of the days recently.

And yet, and yet! Spring has managed to find it’s way to our shores and I could feel the smile on my face even as I could see my breath.  On the way to work, I exchanged an unexpected smile with another driver as we waited for the light to change and both of us were looking at a few early tulips in bloom. Exchange a smile with another commuter on a Monday morning? A miracle indeed.

Here’s  what made us smile – as taken with a cell phone, leaning out of my car window:

Spring Tulips

Spring Tulips

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I’ve been called a “Goddess”  while an entire town bowed to me, offering the gift of a shrunken head. I’ve eaten unknown “delicacies” from tops of monkey skulls, inside snake skins or wrapped in what was later termed, “dried dung”. I’ve traveled by plane, train, automobile, balloon, ship, ferry,  tugboat, canoe, rowboat, bicycle, unicycle – as well as camel, elephant, horse and donkey.

I’ve hiked mountains, forded streams, crossed channels, through cities and into many a pub at the end of a long day. I’ve biked up hills, through valleys, in rush hour, all with 60 pounds of equipment. I’ve even been at the back end of a dog sled, with wobbly knees, desperately trying to stay on.

I’ve refused to hang glide, gotten sick in a small plane, dived too far down for my own good and watched as a flight attendent duct-tapped the passenger door of a 747 shut before take-off. I’ve been stopped by Tamil soldiers, held at gunpoint (nothing taken), watched two tribes fighting it out with bow and arrow, and was robbed in one of the finest hotels in Asia.

I’ve traveled by myself, with family, friends, colleagues, and with many a stranger – sharing a close moment for a few minutes, hours or even days. I’ve had a nun promise to pray for me after I accidentally rescued her, a monk stop and whisper prayers on my behalf and a Baptist minister tell me I’m going to “hell”. 

I’ve read many a travel book, parused online travel guides, had a few travel articles published and even found a new one, “10 links a day” that wets my appetite for more. I’ll have to tell the men in my life about their latest post, “Man Spas” talking of new treats.

That’s only in real life – I’m now beginning to add on new adventures via the virtual world! And no, I don’t represent your typical world traveller type, my physique doesn’t match, my luggage isn’t name brand and my wallet is actually pretty small. So for those adventurers out there who may be hesitating — go for it!

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