Headless chicken impression

| conference

Today is not my day.

As it turns out, my presentation on “Blogging Your Way Out of a Job… and Into a Career” for the Concordia University Alumni Association is tomorrow evening, not Friday evening as I thought. (Next time, I should create a calendar entry while reading e-mail, instead of relying on my memory!) Apparently it’s been quite a hit, with over 60 people registered and people pleading to get in. If I do this right, it might even result in more business for my team at IBM. (Must remember to put in a slide about who I am, and add something like that to the closing.)

I wanted to print my handouts on business cards. Bringing home something physical from an event is a good way to remember to act on what you’ve learned. But the printer at home stubbornly refused to feed the Avery business card forms I picked up, and Staples.ca didn’t seem to let me make totally custom business cards. Taking off on Jonathan Coulton’s “Big Bad World One”, I couldn’t help but sing, “I quit, I’m done, I don’t think it’s going to turn out okay. It’s no fair and it’s no fun if every time it’s gonna print the same way: Me zero, big bad printer one.”

So I threw up my hands and considered my backup plans. I could just point the audience to one URL and have them look up the resources from there, but there’s something about taking a visible reminder home. What else could I do?

Fortunately, I had plenty of blank index cards lying around, thanks to my experimentations with paper-based productivity planning. After much tweaking, I got the printer to print on index cards. The margins are off because the printer won’t let me print less than an inch from the edge, but I limited the number of lines and the result looks deliberately balanced.

Now all I have to do is actually build the page, update the presentation, rehearse it, and get everything sorted out. Oh, and do the rest of my day job, too. But something I’ve noticed–and I don’t know how I learned to do this–is that even while part of me can flail wildly about in a headless chicken impression, part of me is always looking for the humor in the entire thing, part of me is always planning ahead and thinking of backup plans, and part of me just focuses on getting the work done.

Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.

Michael Caine, actor


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