There are two things I love about the month of October. You might be surprised, but Halloween is actually not one of those things. A bit odd given today is that special day right?
Instead, the first thing that I love about October is the fact that my wedding anniversary falls in this month. The second is the fact that October is generally the month one of my professional organizations has their annual conference "up north".
For the past two years, the MAEDS (Michigan Association for Educational Data Systems) annual conference has been held in Traverse City, MI.
Actually it is held at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa which is actually located in Acme, MI. It's a pretty small distinction as Acme is just a short trip around the East Arm of the Grand Traverse Bay from Traverse City.
Traverse City is one of the more well known towns in Michigan. It hosts the national cherry festival every year and it is well known as a playground for the rich and famous across the globe. It isn't uncommon to see private jets coming and going from the local airport. I know of at least five celebrities off the top of my head who are known to have vacation homes in the Traverse City area.
Unfortunately, I got stuck on the third floor of the hotel. If I had been on the 15th floor, I am sure my shots of the bay and sunsets would have been a lot better than this.
The conference this year leaned really heavy on security as well as the theme of "what do we do now that the pandemic is "over"". It appears that even school districts are not immune to ransomware and hackers anymore. Due to that fact, the insurance companies that support school districts have been leaning really heavily on them to put things in place to protect themselves.
I'd like to think I do a pretty good job of keeping our data and our users secure, but there is always room for improvement. I am planning on reviewing our Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). I am also going to work on making sure we have everything we need to get back up and running should an incident occur.
As I said, there was also a lot of content about what to do now that the brunt of Covid is over. Due to the pandemic many districts were forced into a one to one or remote environment. What do we do in the aftermath of that? Do we go back to the old way of doing things or do we move forward taking what we learned and improving on it. There is going to be a lot to unpack after these past three days at the conference.
I was pretty excited that my worker @iikrypticsii was able to come to the conference with me this year. I think he had a good time, but I will leave it to him if he wants to write his own post about that.
They generally feed us pretty well at these events. The cost of meals is included in the cost of the conference. It's sad because Traverse City is quite the foodie town. There are a lot of great places to eat if you are willing to take the short drive and you want to pay the money.
Since the school district pays for the conference, I always feel obliged to stick around and eat on site.
It's buffet style, so as long as everyone makes it through the line once, it's pretty much all you can eat. I don't think I have ever went back for seconds though.
The first night the brisket was a bit fatty for my liking. They should have done a better job of trimming it in my opinion. The chicken on the other hand was delicious.
This Mexican street corn salad they serve with pretty much every meal. It is delicious, but after a while you kind of start to wonder how it really fits in with some of the other meals. I think what it comes down to is the fact that the conference organizers really enjoy it, so they told the kitchen staff to go ahead and include it at every meal.
Dessert for the first night consisted of a chocolate covered Cannoli and a bourbon caramel bread pudding. I'll be honest, I have never been a big Cannoli guy, but I thought I would try it anyway. It was just meh for me. The bread pudding was pretty amazing though.
I'm going to hold off posting my other food photos for a separate post. This one could easily get taken over by the food photos.
On the second night of the conference, the organizers usually supply some form of entertainment. Last year they had trivia night. This year it was a local band that they hired to come and play.
The name of the band is called Blue Footed Booby which I think is actually a kind of bird. They play a variety of music including Irish jigs, folk music and bluegrass.
I'm sad to say that a lot of the attendees cleared out after they started playing. I guess I understand a little. This type of music isn't for everyone, but if you can learn to appreciate it, they were pretty fantastic.
I stayed until the bitter end singing along and drinking even though I ended being all by myself at a table. Those of us who stayed for the whole thing were not disappointed.
I thought my pictures came out clearer than they did, but like I said, I was drinking, so I guess who really knows what was going on. This is my first time looking at them since I took them. I did take some video, but without putting it on YouTube or doing a full 3speak post, it isn't really easy to share short video clips here on Hive.
Instead, I will share with you a YouTube video that someone else took back in 2012. That's right, 2012, this band has been kicking around the TC area for quite some time now.
They joked that usually when they do these corporate events they are playing to an empty room after about an hour, so they were very appreciative to those of us who stayed. If I had to guess, there were maybe 75 people in total in the room by the time they played their last song.
Which might not seem to bad if you figure most bars and pubs probably only hold about that many people.
In this case though, the conference had over 420 attendees, closer to 700 when you consider all of the vendors, so only having 75 people stick around for the entertainment is a little sad.
The band probably didn't care, they get paid either way!
At lunch on the last day of the conference, they have their annual membership meeting. After the meeting, everyone throws their name tags into a box and they start pulling names out at random to hand out the door prizes.
I was lucky enough to win a free Tile. It looks like these only run about $25, so it isn't like it was anything special, but it is still cool to go home with something more than just the information and free pens you get from the vendors.
I haven't figured out yet what I am going to use this for. There isn't much that I have a problem keeping track of. I am sure eventually I will think of something!
In all, it was a fantastic conference with some really great information. It was cool to see how excited my worker was about the whole thing and I couldn't help but smile when he told me on the last day he didn't want to go home because he didn't want it to be over!