Web Directions North, the story

Web Directions North is over and I am still sick, but at least I now had the doctor coming over and he prescribed me some medication. When we arrived in Canada we hang out with Jeremy Keith and Dave Shea and enjoyed the local coffee art as you’ll see when I upload my pictures. It’s really cool what they do with the milk. You got to see them doing it to better grasp it but they wouldn’t let us film it.

The conference and my session.

One big disadvantage of having to speak on the last day is that you don’t get to see the sessions because you use the extra time to prepare and rehearse. It’s in my nature to try to make things as perfect as possible. From what I saw and from what Geert told me the conference was very well organized and everything started on time. John, Maxine, Derek and Dave did a great job in making this a success. One of the more fascinating things that Geert told me is a new way of embedding Flash into a webpage via CSS. It’s something that Aaron Gustafson came up with and I’m sure we will hear about it a lot in the coming weeks. I’ve always known Aaron was a really smart guy 🙂

Before it was our turn I felt that my energy level was way too low and I felt tired. I had this feeling the day before too. I had trouble concentrating and such, a headache, trouble sleeping etc. I thought OK, this is just a jetlag. So at lunch before I got to speak I forced myself to eat something more then just a salad and hoped that this would do the trick. I kept saying to myself, “you’re gonna do fine”. The first part of our talking worried me since I had to speak for a while and I had trouble remembering all the sentences while I was rehearsing. I though OK, if I have my notes with me I’ll be fine. That was such stupid mistake. I should have just kept keywords and bullet lists with me not the full notes. The first part didn’t go well at all, the 2nd part did and I enjoyed that part. I didn’t rehearse any of that, for me this was easy and it was entertaining I think. There was some laughter now and then. Guess I learned my lesson not to try too hard or it blows up in your face. The 3rd part was also OK and the 4th part…we’ll we never got to the 4th part. People were asking questions in between and that broke our schedule totally. I got the feeling I only said 50% of what I prepared. I’m still not sure how I feel about it all to be honest. Lots of people came to me they really enjoyed our session so I’m happy to hear this. I’m hard on myself, I’m a perfectionist 🙂 I try to remember part 2, the Geeky Chix part which was fun. Dave being the client and I the designer. I hope to launch the site pretty soon (before I leave for SXSW).

The final session of Jared Spool was the only session I saw and it was really unbelievable. Man is he an entertaining speaker and even when I was already half sick I still managed to hear all of it.


On Friday Geert and I did a half day of skiing so that was nice and I was glad that I still had it in me after all those years. I had a terribly headache but I forgot about it when I was at the very top of Whistler mountain, skiing down with the iPod earplugs in. Geert waited for me in the mid station so I was on my own skiing my own speed. I was following signs but then it appeared I wasn’t following the right ones and I had to ask directions. A couple handed me a map since they could miss one. I was going in the wrong direction but thanks to the map I made it back just fine. I just skied a bit faster to make sure Geert wasn’t worried. It’s really a long way up to the very top and a long trip down, which is wonderful. Geert did pretty well too for his second time. Whistler is nice but just too bad it was foggy and grey. I really would have liked to see some blue skies and sun. After the skiing we went to the Microsoft lounge to eat and talk. They did a great job in making us feel comfortable and supply us with everything we needed. That’s when I started to feel that my voice was going completely away and my throat was really soar. I did loose my voice for a bit already at the party the evening before but I thought that was just because of the music and trying to talk above it. I also had this terribly headache that wouldn’t go away. I just thought it was because I was tired but apparently there was more going on. I stayed in the lounge the rest of the afternoon since I wasn’t up for anymore skiing. It just took all my energy already.

Being sick in foreign country

The next day was the worst day in my life so far. My head and throat did hurt so much that even moving on another side in the bed was too much. I couldn’t get out of bed, I cried because of the pain and also because Geert needed to wake up at 6 am to return the ski boots. He was already starting to feel the same thing only he thought he could make it through the day and didn’t want to bother someone else with all the returning hassle. Since then the story is that we both stayed in bed as much as possible to get better for our long trip back home. It’s on those occasions you suddenly realize that all those other countries may be bigger but that they could learn a lot from our healthcare system. In Belgium the Doctor is only a phone call away no matter if you stay in a hotel or not and that’s what is really missing here. I feel for so many other friends who are now suffering from the same thing too. It’s like a virus that invaded the conference in one hard swoop.

The journey home and another British Airways delay

On our last day we tried to rest as much as possible to store enough energy for the long journey home. I felt a little bit better. After a hectic taxi ride during rush hour we arrived at the airport ready to drop our bags off. Only minutes later we learned that our flight was delayed from 20.30 till 21.45. Another delay that screws up our connecting flight from Heathrow to Brussels. So the same horror story as before when we finally arrived in London.

British Airways commercials on the plane shows an air hostess picking up a little doll dropped by a child telling you they care about you the passenger. Too bad reality is more like an air hostess with an attitude that says “nothing mush we can do about it” when I told her in a friendly way that it was like a horror story repeating itself. Or a person behind flight connections that does sigh everytime she needs to get up or promises us that they will let the airport taxi know we are not coming. We finally arrived at home at 22.15 because you already guessed it BA didn’t let the airport taxi know. Now we are still both sick as a dog and the doctor just said we have the flue. Now I am going back to bed so that I’ll be my old self as soon as possible.

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