Friday, February 1, 2013

A cold day in ..... Boise

Vandal Bilers reunited... My great friend Eric and I.
For those who know me, my Twitter username and profile say it all: @vandalgrad:  Husband, Father, Musician, Educator, Runner, Cyclist, Swimmer, Golfer, Blogger, Tech Geek. Further, those who know me, also know of my stubborn disdain for certain things such as Apple Computer marketing, pretentious Apple users, and even certain sports teams, specifically, Boise State University Broncos. I've made no bones about it repeatedly, ensuring that my stubborn and polarizing opinions were well known by all, even going so far as to make it a point of pride wherever I went. "Who do we hate?? Boise State!" was one of my mottos and I often made it a point to let people know that my 2nd favorite team ever was anyone playing Boise State. But rather than elaborate further on the hate, I'll move on.

Recently, a few events have drastically changed my feelings and opinions in these areas and I think you'll probably be shocked to learn. First, I have been seeing some significant gains by my daughter, Gemma, due in large part to the myriad of iPad applications available on her refurbished iPad (1st generation). Seeing that progress has prompted me to encourage, foster, and implement iPads throughout our school district. This was further reinforced by a presentation I gave to an elementary staff on the iPad and Apple TV in the classroom.  Unlike many presentations I have given in various settings, the Apple TV and iPad performed flawlessly. No, seriously, I don't think I can emphasize this enough. I have never given a presentation where every piece of technology worked as intended and advertised. After that moment, I began to value and appreciate how well those things worked and vowed to have an open mind for future possibilities. Now, parts of Apple's marketing and attitude still really makes my skin crawl, and some very condescending Apple users still bother me to no end, but I really think there are some wonderful benefits that Apple products can provide. I also began using a Macbook Air that we bought to manage the increasing amount of iPads throughout the district and I didn't hate it! In fact, I rather enjoyed the simplicity and efficiency. More on that later. 

Move forward to January 28-30. A group of teachers, administrators, and some of my IT Staff made a trip to Boise for the IETA Conference, which was held at... wait for it.... Boise State University. I kid you not, when I disclose that one of the primary reasons for me not attending the last 2 years was due to  them moving the conference from downtown Boise, to the BSU campus. Yeah, I was pretty intense that way. On the 2nd day of the conference, I decided to pay a surprise visit to a very good friend of mine, whom I met at THE University of Idaho, and now works in the Athletic Academic Advising Dept at BSU. My wandering miraculously took me directly to his office and the look on his face was worth the trip in itself. It felt good to reunite after many years of not seeing each other. Schedules were tight, so we snapped a quick picture and went on our way. But the story does not end there. 

The next day, we had some time to kill. So I contacted my friend again. I told him I'd love to see him again, and although lunch didn't work out, he came and picked us up (my wife and one of my co-workers were with me) and proceeded to take us on a full tour of his dept and the BSU athletic complexes, including Bronco Stadium (Yes, the smurf turf) and the Stueckle Sky Center. The entire time we visited and toured, I kept remembering how great of a friend this was, and how he also was a Vandal. We even visited about some of the hateful comments I had made on Facebook and Twitter about BSU. All of this caused me to really examine how juvenile my attitude had been. Although I'm far from a BSU fan, I did gain a tremendous respect for what they have accomplished over the past decade or so. Knowing the exceptional character of my friend, and his attitude, really forced me to rethink my feelings. Actually, when it came down to it, I realized that most of my negative attitude towards BSU was caused by my disappointment in my own Alma Mater, and their decade plus of sub mediocrity. I'll stop there, as I could elaborate on the failings of my mighty Vandals for paragraphs. 
Yep, that's me, on the blue turf. Shattering stereotypes every day!

So, to summarize, a lot has changed over the past few weeks, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm vowing to put away my harsh attitude towards things such as Apple and BSU. Where I'm not ready to proclaim Apple the best thing ever or adopt their motto "It just works," I'm very interested in learning more about how iPads etc can enhance our teaching and learning. Similarly where I still may not root for the Broncos when they play out of state foes such as Georgia, Washington, or TCU, I'm definitely going to appreciate and respect what they have done and enjoy and respect what they have done for the State of Idaho. 
Eric and I  pose on the blue turf. Great experience. Impressive facility! 


As a co-worker commented this week, as I set foot on the blue turf and even jokingly donned a camouflage BSU Bronco hat, "is hell freezing over?" Another friend commented "I have renewed hope for world peace." I'm sure I'll get my share of ribbing from friends. But I'm simply choosing to stop spending energy on juvenile hate, and rather appreciate and respect things that are worthy. Life is too short to let bitterness and negativity consume us. Heck, if I can take that step, surely others can.