NCMPR presentation

Since I have been tragically poor at reporting in at the ol’ blog, I’ve missed out on sharing some fun stuff over the last two months. Notably, for the first time ever, I presented at a regional conference. On Sept. 24, I gave a breakout talk at the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations District V conference in Bloomington, Minn., called “Using Off-the-Shelf Software to Build a News Clip Tracking System.”

I wrote a bit about my initial process for building a system in Filemaker Pro for tracking media mentions back in July; it took me until just a few days before the presentation to get everything perfected, but the system is now working the way I had originally envisioned.

I had about 45 minutes to present, and my breakout was late in the conference and opposite a session with tips for online advertising. The conference was small to begin with, about 65 attendees to start, so by the time my presentation rolled around I had maybe 18 in my session. So it was a nice small audience for me to deliver my first presentation.

I started out pretty well, but nerves hit after about 15 minutes and I’m not sure I ended very strong. I thought I had some troubles explaining my general concept for building the application — assigning a unique identifier to each news release in a list of stories, tagging media clips with that unique identifier when necessary, then using Filemaker functionality to make a list of clips that are tagged that is accessible directly from the release list. If I had a chance to give the presentation again in a different venue, I have some ideas for how I’d completely redo this section with some better visuals to make what I tried to do more clear. I know I could do better the second time around.

Overall, though, the presentation was successful; I got a lot of questions afterward, some of which branched out into other topics like social media measurement that weren’t even part of what I had prepared for. Most importantly, I learned a lot about processes for presenting and what sort of things I need to keep in mind to polish up when I next have an opportunity to present. The presentation also reinforced that I’m on the right track for my general presentation philosophy — lots of full-screen graphics when necessary, and very minimal text on the screen. My presentation ended up being heavy in terms of total number of slides (I was around 70 for what turned out to be about a 25-minute presentation), but I thought it was clear and kept the reading burden for the audience to a minimum.

It would be fun to find another opportunity to present and continue to practice. I think it’s something I could get to be pretty good at in time.

Pouring one out for the Lutes Circle house

So, my old neighborhood is gone.

First, some back story. This past Friday, Helen and I were having some random conversation about things that are of import to eight-year-olds, and at some point she started asking about stitches – specifically, if I had ever had any. I told her I had, and told her about my largest wound that necessitated stitches – the puncture wound in my left palm from a sharp rock when I was in the second grade. She asked where it happened, so I told her about the place I lived at the time – on a corner on Lutes Circle in Fort Bliss, Texas.

Due to the power of the Internet, I told her “I can even show you exactly where I fell. We will get on Google Maps and I will show you my house and the park where I got hurt.”

It didn’t work out that way. I found the neighborhood easily enough. But every single house in it is gone. The only thing left of the entire housing development are paved roads and dirt.

I lived here.

You can see these odd marks in the dirt with residual vegetation that show you where the houses sort of used to be. Emphasis on “used to be” – they’re all gone, every single one of them. Single-family houses, some 2-3 story apartment buildings, the little convenience store in the middle where I can remember buying pens and comic books. Just gone.

I haven’t seen any of those buildings in 30 years, but it’s still a little weird to look at this picture and realize the whole thing is just… gone. You think of houses being lost to things like fires or natural disasters or something like that; my old neighborhood had a stray foundation for a house that had burned down and never been rebuilt. We used that foundation as a launching pad for bike jumps. So you just know that kind of thing can happen. But an entire neighborhood, just wiped away? That’s a little weird.

I’d really be curious to know why this happened. It looks as if the neighborhood was leveled in 2011 and is planned for replacement because the homes had basically fallen into disrepair.

It looks like the neighborhood is being replaced with this: