Buffalo crowd

A Love Letter to HighEdWeb Folks

Back in college, I had a very close knit circle of friends – partly because I was much more introverted then, but mainly because we had so many things in common, from taste in movies and music to love of role-playing games and love of playing cards. Sometimes we went out and did things, but for the most part, we were content as a group to just ‘be’ together. Not doing anything but talking, passing the time, and enjoying each other’s company. At any hour of the day, you could probably find a few of us in the lobby of our dormitory, in our chosen set of couches, laughing and having a great time. We were called the ‘lobby lizards’ (in retrospect, I don’t know if that was a term of endearment created within our circle or by others in the dorm, but it really doesn’t matter, cause I wear it with pride today irregardless).

Since college, I’ve had a lot of friends. But for the most part, that particular form of magic has been hard to conjure again. The dynamic is different: friends with family are more about being in the moment for the kids than for the adults, and the friends that want to just hang out tend to be a smaller or solitary group.

As the 2013 Higher Education Web Professionals Conference was wrapping up, in the wee hours of the morning (the time is irrelevant to this story, and I will deny everything), Sven Aas took the following snapshot and posted it to Facebook. A little while later, one of my college friends responded  as follows:

Yes. This IS a lobby.

Holly totally nailed it. This is my new lobby. This particular magic has been rekindled and added to the already brightly burning spark of life. I’m happy to have all of you guys in my life – both to make me laugh, to inspire me, and to help encourage me to do things better.

And not just this group, but everyone that makes up the greater Higher Education Web Professionals Community. You are all a special group of people, working in an vitally important part of modern society that is constantly in flux, isn’t fully appreciated, and is often thankless. AND YET YOU PERSIST AND OVERCOME. It’s like watching Sisyphus finally kicking that boulder like Kal-El and watching tumble into the stratosphere.

These are the memories of friends I’ll be taking from this year’s conference:

  • Journey to Niagara: Lacy Tite, thank you for being my wingman it taking in all of Niagara, fromt he Maid of the Mist to the Cave of the Winds. I’ve not had a carefree laugh like that about the sheer wonder of nature in a long while. Like James T. Kirk and Gensis, I must go back to this place – this time with the wife and kids. Oh, and a massive shout out to Aaron Knight
  • #karaokeplane: WHAT. Seriously. I expected some thirty or forty people, not closer to a hundred and fifty. It was standing room only in the Q bar. Thanks to Kerri Hicks for joining me in our third annual Meatloaf tribute, Dave Tyler for giving me my George Straight fix, Jeffrey Martin for sharing his spot-on version of New York State of Mind, and my hug huddle group for the Beatles, Robin Smail, Georgy Cohen, Tom Cochrane, Sarah Ryder, and Jeremy Rex. Oh, and local dude who sang Sweet Transvestite from Rocky Horror: you are epic.
  • Making new friends: Taking the advice that I and others kept making, I stepped out of my circle to meet new people this year, and it was a great experience. It was a pleasure to meet Annalisa Boccia, Jaclyn Vetrano, Julie GrundyBeth Fox, Chris D’Orso, Jennifer Godwin, Lydia Rediske, Gabriel Nagmay, Kimberly, Katye Munger, and Kaitlyn Goodall. Thank you for exploring the city with me.
  • B-52 Milkshakes.
  • Heads Up. That was an amazing game. I never knew RuPaul was the cross-dressing former director of the FBI. Sorry to the one participant who dogged me for the rest of the conference for not coming back for the rematch.
  • Dan Demmons and his amazing fall concoctions.
  • Tom Wojciechowki for being infectiously cheerful.
  • Introducing Cliff Jenkins to Cards Against Humanity.
  • Reciting the entire dialog to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Anne Peterson and Lori Packer.
  • Sharing an Elvis, the most decadent breakfast pizza of all time, and lobster donuts with Jacob Dolan.
  • Dancing to Tom Petty with Meaghan Milliorn Fikes, who had the grace to ignore my inability to do much more than a Cosby Shuffle.
  • A random conference goer who pointed at me and yelled “You! You’re that avatar! Guys, he’s that avatar!” Yep, that’s me.

That’s some powerful ingredients for a spell of awesome. I hope to build on these ties in the upcoming year and get to know my new Lobby better. And here’s to crowding the lobby of some hotel in Portland next year!
Cave of the Winds, Niagara Falls Niagara at Night Approaching the Hurricane Deck At the foot of the falls Lacy at the Cave of the Winds Cave of the WindsNiagara Falls Tonya and I en route to Buffalo Me and Robin and Chris They know us so well Robin, Karlyn and I 2013-10-05 17.42.11 Curtiss, Robin and Georgy Liberty Building Along the trolley line Don't touch the buffalo! Electric Tower Buffalo City Hall

See More HEWEB 2013 Photos on Flickr

For my professional takeaways from the conference, please visit kernabout.com

6 Responses to “A Love Letter to HighEdWeb Folks”

  1. Aaron October 25, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    Glad to have enabled your Falls trip – and I swear, my trading in that car this week had nothing to do with it. My only regret is various fatigue/commitments kept me from a game or two of CAH with y’all :)

  2. Jackie Vetrano October 25, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

    JEFF this was wonderful. Feelings are mutual! It was so great to meet you (and everyone!) in Buffalo and becoming a part of this amazing, crazy, fun, and supportive community. Hope to see you in Portland, or even before! :D

  3. Dave Tyler October 25, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

    David Allen Coe, but close enough. Really awesome post Jeff.

  4. Susan @ilikephysics October 25, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

    Perfect post. Sad I missed Buffalo b/c I missed all of the people.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A Niagara of Ideas | kernabout.com - October 25, 2013

    […] For my personal takeaways from the conference, please visit gorillaofthegasbags.com […]

  2. HighEdWeb 2013 Annual Conference in Buffalo | Hamp-IT - November 4, 2013

    […] A couple posts from Jeff Stevens: A Niagara of Ideas and A Love Letter to HighEdWeb Folks […]

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