Salamanders and the Macarena

After what felt like an entire day of travel (isn't that the case for any trip out of a small airport town?) I finally made it to sunny and humid southern Florida. I haven't been here since 1999 and judging by the pictures taken on that trip, it wasn't as humid then. Although, it was in May, not July, so that might make a difference.

I was also 18 then. Maybe hair on an 18 year old flows perfectly and doesn't poof up. It was effortless to be perfect fresh out of high school. The older I get, the more work I have to put into such a task.

I would like to bring up a couple of nice welcoming touches that Ft. Lauderdale prepared for me. The first was the baggage claim at the airport. This wasn't just any baggage claim, this one came with a special treat. You know how most baggage claims warn you to start paying attention and get off of the luggage belt/track with what seems like the most startling alarm system known to man? Usually they come equipped with an alarm that rivals any tsunami warning alarm I've heard of (which isn't many... but I know they exist and I'm sure they prove to be effective). Not this claim. This claim came with the...

wait for it...

MACARENA!!! Did I hear that right? I'm sure I did. The person I'm here with thought the same thing. Two smart people can't be wrong, can they? The moment was saved because unlike Jr. High, people didn't break out into synchronized arm movements ending with a quarter jump to your right.

Had that happened, the charm would have been lost and this post would have a different tone. Instead people just went on about their bag waiting business. Actually, not one single person seems phased by it. Maybe they were used to it.

The 2nd welcoming touch that goes above and beyond the usual touches is my new room pet, a salamander. Yes, one of those creepy, practically see through, kind of slick looking lizard like things. It crawls on the wall of my hotel room and hides behind a decorative mirror. I think I'm as leary of it as it is of me. I'm not as happy with this touch, but it's certainly unique. Hopefully it will be gone by tomorrow.

It kind of creeps me out.

Or grosses me out.

Either way, I'd be happy to see it pack it's salamander bags and head on out.

I've been thinking a lot about what I want to take away from this year's conference. I have a different perspective going into this than I did a year ago. A year ago I was unsure, nervous and completely apprehensive. This year I'm not. Actually, there isn't one ounce of those other things this year. This year I'm feeling good about where I am, where I'm headed, what I've learned, who I know and how I need to get there. I really feel as though I have my stuff together. So with that, what am I looking for this year?

I have some guesses... I suppose only the next few days will tell me what it is I'm here to learn this time around. Whatever it is, I'm sure it will blow my socks off in the same way they were blown off last year. I'm always amazed by that.

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