On the morning that we left the Smoky Mountains, we woke up to, and packed up the campsite in, extremely heavy, dense, fog.
Of all of the things that I have done in connection with my work at Elsevier, learning how to tango is probably one of the most unusual.
By “learning to tango”, I mean “had two, half-hour, lessons from a co-worker on the basics of Argentinean and Vintage tango”.
Every year LexisNexis puts on a day’s worth of presentations, workshops, speakers, demos, etc etc etc for World Usability Day. I have always been involved in the organization committee to some degree or another, and have generally enjoyed it. Last year at the end of the event, the guy who had been spearheading the event announced that he was stepping down from that position, and that someone else would have to take up the banner. I volunteered.
Organizing and running an event is tough and takes a lot of time. You need to find people who are willing to run presentations and workshops. You need to find a keynote speaker. You need to find someone to run the panel discussion, as well as people to be on the panel and discuss stuff. You need to find people who want to run demos or do posters. You need to organize food and drinks and posters and programs, and audio-visual equipment, and a location for everything to take place in… and then on the day of you need to run around and worry about everything going smoothly and whether or not attendance is “good enough” and if everyone is having a good time.
But seeing something like that come together really well, and be an event that everyone seems to really enjoy and appreciate is pretty addictive. I will be doing this again next year.
Oh, the tango? Well one of the workshops for World Usability Day was on using tango to learn how to do ethnography. The workshop organizer wanted to have several couples of dancers to dance and be observed by the rest of the workshop participants. She had plenty of male dancers, but not enough female dancers. Being a dedicated event organizer, I told her that if it wouldn’t matter if the dancers were inexperienced or not then I would be willing to give it a whirl. Which is how I ended up getting “private” tango lessons in the lobby of the office building at 7am, for two days running.
I enjoyed it. Yes, I was nervous about stepping on his feet (which I didn’t actually do) or messing up (which I did, several times, but it turns out the one of the keys is to pretend that you know exactly what you are doing, and no one will notice) or looking like an idiot (which apparently I did not… to the extent that several people disbelieved that I was a complete novice) but I had a lot of fun.
Maybe I can convince John to try some ballroom dance lessons.