Georgia on My Mind….

I have to give my mom credit for the title of this post. When I found out I was going to Atlanta, Georgia for the Teaching Professor Technology Conference, I invited her along with me. For the next couple of weeks her email titles were very similar to the one on this post.

First up though, I wanted to show you this:

Fit to Teach Stats

Pretty exciting! Not really sure what is going on here, I know it has something to do with Miss Evanoff’s post but a lot of the views and visitors are random today. This little notification reminded me of playing the Sims and something like this would pop up:

Sims

Unexpected but always delightful.

Anyway, any traffic is good traffic, so keep it coming! Now let’s talk about some Atlanta adventures! I’m not going to tell you from start to finish because:

…but I will tell you some highlights.

When we first arrived in Atlanta we headed on over the Georgia Aquarium, which was the largest aquarium in the world when it opened. I am a poisson lover, with my very own tank of beauties, so this was very exciting for me. We immediately started off with the Dolphin Tales Show which we were told was a ‘must see’ by the front desk. I was expecting a lot of dolphins doing flips and shit but it was mostly this:

The creature in the middle singing with his merry men at his side. The highlight is when he dances out and twirls around the stage in an LED cape. My mom and I were laughing so hard we were crying. My initial impression of the aquarium was that it was ridiculous. It totally redeemed itself though when we got down to business and found the actual sea creatures that I hold so dear. The picture-taking was impressive:

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They also had a gigantic aquarium with thousands of fish in it, including whale sharks, nurse sharks and the biggest sting rays I’ve ever seen. They built it over a tunnel so that you could go underneath and literally feel like you are swimming with the fishes. Luckily we were there during feeding time so we enjoyed the added bonus of scuba divers.

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With the Aquarium under our belt, we felt we had a good start on the ‘touristy’ aspects of Atlanta.

Another obvious highlight for me and the whole reason I was able to go to Atlanta, was my presentation at the Teaching Professor Technology Conference. On Friday night, I did a poster presentation on my look at using social media in the college and university classroom. While it may sound like an obvious idea to use Facebook or Twitter with students, I’m finding there are only certain subjects and even certain programs that really adapt well to the use of these tools in an educational manner. Being the tech wizard that I am, I set myself up in e-poster form and the finished product looked like this:

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Those handouts on the right hand side of the table were gone in less than half an hour, so needless to say, it was a busy night. I also have an affiliation with the Teaching Professor because I recently published in one of their online magazines. I feel like this is a great time for a shameless plug, so check out the article here: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-careers/advice-for-new-faculty-six-lessons-from-the-front-lines/

I made a lot of interesting contacts that night and absolutely loved talking to my fellow instructors in America about our Canadian education system because talking to Americans, about anything, is always a good time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZE0TuKTpo4

I kid. No one at the conference thought we live in igloos.

On Saturday after the conference, we decided to do a little shopping. We also decided to take public transit. First step in the journey was this escalator:

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It was the longest and steepest escalator of my life. I hated it. I had to close my eyes and Brennie told me when we got to the bottom.

We then encountered the issue of buying a ‘Breeze pass’ to get on the subway. As I stood there trying to use my credit card, the machine rejected me multiple times. I became pretty frustrated and complained loudly for a couple of minutes to my mom until a heavy set lady beside me started mumbling to herself about ‘all my noise.’ She then progressed to half facing me and saying, ‘You’re making all dis noise and nuttin’ happenin. Nuttin’ happenin!’ It was perhaps my favourite line of the trip. I wonder how many times random strangers have wanted to tell me and my friends and family members off when we randomly wail about something not working correctly or make way more noise than is necessary when something ‘bad’ happens. Good for this lady for finally telling me to shut it.

My mom and I made our way down to the platform and spotted an empty space on a bench. However, part of the bench had a piece of half eaten cake on it in a plastic container. Immediately my mom and I saw the cake and said almost in unison, ‘Oh look, cake! I sure am hungry.’ Which prompted the questionably homeless man beside the cake to put his hand on the plastic container and ever so slowly slide the cake over beside him. We’re still not sure if it was his to begin with, but we saw him get off the subway several stops later cradling that cake like it was his newborn child:

Image Source: http://julie-and-michael.blogspot.ca/2010/03/icing-on-cake.html

Later that evening, we decided to continue on with our public transit party and take it all the way to Marietta, Georgia, as we were booked for a ghost tour. By taxi, Marietta is about 25 minutes away. By public transit it is one subway, two buses and a short taxi ride away and boy was it a good time! People really were quite friendly and helpful but at the same time, I did fear for my safety when I was told that they only way to get off of the subway during peak time was to, ‘duck my head and charge through the crowd like an Atlanta Falcon.’ Now six months ago, they would have had me at using my body as a weapon but nowadays, it really isn’t a viable option.

Marietta was darling and the tour was pretty good. It was a little over the top, as I highly doubt that every store and street corner in the town is truly haunted, but you never know. The creepiest part of the tour for me was definitely this guy:

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He was sitting in a window display in one of the hundred haunted stores in the town and I really just wasn’t liking his vibe. He had a couple of other buddies in the window that were not my cup of tea but he was the worst.

I also wanted to show a picture of their central park. The city does a scarecrow competition around this time of the year and places them throughout their town square. There were lots of amazing entries, but this one was my fave:

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Mainly because it reminded me of Mark dressed up like a lady:

Spitting image right?

Sunday was the last day and the conference ended at noon, so my mom and I headed out to another must see, the Ferndale Natural History Museum. I actually love museums, so when this was recommended multiple times, I was down. It was probably the most beautiful and pristine museum I have ever been in.

Ferndale Natural History Museum

It had a lot of dinosaurs (a particular childhood fave of mine):

T-Rex

And it also had one of these guys:

Giant Tree Sloth

….a giant tree sloth. Which unfortunately don’t exist anymore. If they did, I’m pretty sure the panda and baby polar bear would be SOL in regards to being the most sought after zoo animal.

After perusing the museum for a few hours, it was time to catch our flight home. So we sped off to the airport in a fast and furious fashion……only to have our flight delayed by 5 hours due to Tropical Storm Karen.

They closed the airport for 15 minutes because of torrential downpour and during that time our flight came in, circled and went all the way back to South Carolina, hence the rather large delay. On a happier note, my mom and I watched The Heat on the way back with Sandy Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. So hilarious. My mom was laughing the entire time and she has a LOUD, infectious laugh. I loved it. It really kept my spirits up but I’m not sure about the other people around us who were clearly trying to sleep. It was the perfect way to end an amazing trip.

I don’t think I would go back to Atlanta because there are so many other cities in America I would like to explore but I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is thinking of traveling to the Dirty South:

Dirty South

To end the post, a few other random goodies from the trip.

1) The view from our hotel room:

Westin Peachtree PlazaBy Day….

Westin Peachtree PlazaBy night….

Yes please! Our hotel was the Westin Peachtree Plaza, which is the tallest hotel in North America and they certainly make the most of their view.

2) The food!

Nachos

Everyone from Canada who heads down to the States is just amazed by the portion sizes down there. Case in point, my mom’s salad:

Taco Salad

It was bigger than her head. However, she dealt with it like a champ. I ordered nachos and the same thing. Needless to say, no dinner was needed that night for either of us.

3) My mom would be very disappointed in both me and this post if I did not mention that at one point on the trip we tried to get on a Japanese tour bus. I have a proud history of getting on tour buses from other countries that clearly are not my own. I will stand there looking around until someone realizes I don’t belong and kicks me off. They laugh at me like I am a silly white girl and send me on my way. I find this very amusing. It’s been a lonngggg time since I did this, so my mom decided she wanted to give it a try. We followed behind a group of Japanese tourists and were just about to step on their bus when one of the passengers looked at us and said, ‘Where you think you going?’ Busted. The bus driver told us we clearly did not know what we were doing, to which my mom slyly lifted her sunglasses and winked at him. Again, we were laughed at and sent on our way but the memory will live on for a while from that one.

Next week I will tell some tales from the Wild, Wild West. But for now, I have a stack of midterms calling my name…..

Have a wonderful week friends 🙂

A Fabulous 50th – ON A BOAT!

It’s been busy up in here. So much so that I will be breaking down my weekend into a couple of parts. It was a long weekend here in Canada land too, so I think that’s OK.

On Friday Mark and I were invited to the 50th birthday party of Marie, the mom of Mark’s  friend Cory. There was limited space on the boat so I was pretty honoured to be invited. It was also being held aboard the good old Woodman in Port Perry, which made it even more exciting. While I lived in Port almost my whole life, I’ve never been on the Woodman because it’s a pricey little beast, so it was amazing that Marie rented it out for the entire night. It was all decked out for the occasion:

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I also enjoyed Marie’s sense of humour:

Woodman

Marie was also looking amazing for her big day. She had extensions in and was a total birthday fox. Mark said he may even need to make some inappropriate remarks to Cory about his mom; always a guy’s dream. At the beginning of the night she was going around introducing herself to people because some of the guests didn’t recognize her. I loved that.  I can only hope I’m looking that good when I turn 50!

While we waited for the ship to set sail, Markus and I had a little couple time at the front of the boat.

Mark and Dawn

And admired the beautiful waterfront of Port Perry:

Port Perry Waterfront

The weather was supposed to be a steady downpour, so when the sun ended up shining for most of the night, we were pretty happy about this. It also gave us a chance to admire the effects of the sunset on the skyline:

Sunset

We headed inside after chatting with some friends and Marie was cutting the cake. I tried to get a picture of her with her family and this is what I ended up with:

Family

So clearly that worked out well. I did do a little better though with the cake cutting picture:

Cake Cutting

And for a little close up on Marie’s cake, because yes, those are giant breasts frosted on top:

Funny Cake

This was totally my kind of cake. I loved it. I had a similar cake for my bridal shower last summer bit it was a little less appropriate, so I’ll leave it to your imagination. Let’s just say it featured a pair of men’s shorts on the beach with a little something peeking out of them 😉

After the cake there were a few drinks for the boys:

The Boys

Mark enjoys being the meat in a plaid sandwich. Wink Wink.

Then we headed upstairs to get down on the dance floor:

 

Dance Floor

At one point when we were downstairs getting a drink, the dancing upstairs was so wild that the entire roof was shaking. The older folks on the boat looked a little concerned but Mark and I ran right back up there to contribute to the noise.

And this is random but one of my favourite finds of the night….Marie had a bunch of DVDs of pictures that were playing on a TV on the boat. On the front of one of the DVDs is her husband from back in the day when he had a glorious 80’s mustache. I absolutely needed a picture of this:

Mustache

And you can tell the night then progressed into sloppiness for some people:

Chris Pinskey

I was DD, so drunk fools like this made my night. I also have a beautiful story with this young man from about three years ago featuring a blurry jeep ride, forgotten purse and an old, old man that I will tell one day when my life returns to curriculum and marking and I need to spice up the blog a bit.

While the mustache DVD was a highlight of the evening, the true treasure of the night was Barry, who had a real life mustache. Barry appeared to be the captain of the Woodman and I wasn’t too sure about him at first. He looked he could go either way on the niceness scale but he ended up being a gentleman and a scholar. After several attempts to get a picture with him (my camera was NOT co-operating in night mode) I finally managed to snap one of the two of us looking like we’re at prom together:

Barry

He did not give me that rose, Marie graciously provided them for all the ladies, but he did give me one of the balloons off of the Woodman. I treasured that balloon all weekend until it lost its air and had to go into the garbage. However, my memories of Barry will never end up in the trash. Mark was a little jealous but I told him, you can’t hold a playa like Barry down.

Tomorrow I will tell you the tale of the rest of the weekend, but it was a beautiful way to kick it off!

Tales of the Tartan

As mentioned yesterday, my Friday was so filled with fun that I needed to break it into two posts. Warning: those of you here for fitness or food, this post has none of that. This is all about another kind of good time, so if you like to smile, stay with me!

After coming home and cleaning up a bit, it was time to continue reliving my youth with one of my oldest and best friends, Emilio. Here is a picture from a few years ago when we stole a wheelbarrow from Hope Depot.

I kid, but isn’t that what it looks like we’re doing?

Emily and her beau Cork came over around 8PM and we had a few pops before heading over the local watering hole, the Tartan Tavern – http://www.tartantavern.com/

Now, the Tartan and I do not have a great history. Back in the day when I was a younger lass, I was removed from the establishment for singing karaoke when it was not karaoke night. I was also removed on my 28th birthday because someone mistook me for another girl who was ‘reported falling all over the bar.’ This girl was a brunette. Not really sure what was going on there. However, now that we’ve moved, I live so close to the Tartan I thought, ‘Why not? I’m a 29 year old PROFESSOR, so things should be copacetic.’ I’m so happy to report that they were! When we got there we immediately met up with these two lovely ladies:

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Renee

…..and Sherrie. Note: I did not have an appropriate picture of Sherrie from the evening, so I admit I stole this from her Facebook profile.

Something magical was happening at the Tartan that evening. Not only did I get to stay in the establishment the entire night but several individuals apparently popped some tags at Value Village before coming to the bar. We actually asked them if this was the case and they confirmed it. It was an instant connection. First, we saw these tight pantalons on a young gentleman:

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And then there was this creature, truly a kindred spirit:

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Yes, a leopard pose for a leopard vest. He was also wearing tiger pants and Emily and I felt it was necessary to pick him up to show these off.

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After a little bit of socializing with our new friends, we also decided to do some justice to the dance floor. Mark likes to pick me up when we dance and I was very afraid I was going to be removed from the premises if he kept up with these shenanigans, so I felt it necessary to inform the bouncer that we were fully in control and that no one would be injured. He said he liked our moves, so I felt comfortable enough  to get my Patrick Swayze on. I got someone to take an impromptu pic to showcase our talent:

We practice our lifts in the water, so it always comes out just right.

This image was more or less for Leanne and Julie, so I hope you appreciate it girls 😉

Overall it really was a great day and night. Emily texted me the next day and said she was in such a great mood from the Friday we had just had and I have to agree, it really felt like I was 18 years young again…except I’m not. I can happily say I can go out to an establishment and not be targeted for removal and that I can have a really amazing time without doing anything that jeopardizes my professionalism. When I first started blogging, I worried about my students finding my writing and then I thought, I’m not doing anything that I wouldn’t want them to do. I’m not setting a poor example or being a bad role model. I’m young(ish), like to have fun and I think that makes me a better educator. I can relate to my students and I hope that they can relate to me too. It also makes me a happy person to be around most of the time. I’ve also realized through my recent friendships with my high school teachers that really, past a certain age or maturity level, we’re all the same. You grow up, but you don’t grow old. That is my life lesson for the day. On that note, Corey, Emily, Mark and I would like to say goodnight and have yourself a terrific Tuesday.

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Am I a good group photographer or what?