Friday, July 25, 2014

Awesome and amazing CA trip, with the shirt to prove it.

I'm catching a ride to LAX around 4:30 am tomorrow to be home by Saturday afternoon.  I'll be honest, the last month I've been having some serious second thoughts about this conference.  I just came back from the Washington state trip and then headed LA via Vegas within the same week. After nineteen days away in July, I'm ready for some porch sitting with my boys and nothing to do before we head to Florida next month for my final summer trip. I'm a homebody by nature and frankly once I got the agenda, I was a little worried I'd be my own island in a sea of red state voters. The same people who I imagine want to lick this giant portrait of Ronnie in jelly beans.

I'm glad I came.  Not only because I wouldn't have wanted to be blacklisted from any future Gilder Lehrman conferences if I bailed so late, but because it has been an amazing week.  The Reagan Presidential Library is in a spectacular location overlooking Simi Valley. This was the view from our first night welcome reception.

Early in the week my roommates grabbed In and Out at my request.  While I didn't order a double, double animal style, I did laugh when one of my roommates (also from a Non- In and Out state) looked as if I had invited her to watch porn back at the dorm when I announced what else was available on the menu.

Later today I will present my research project on the differences between the draft and final versions of the infamous 1983 "Evil Empire" speech.  To my surprise the final language was never intended to be included and was slipped into a speech on religious freedom and prayer last minute.  The how and why was too good not to spend more time researching given the resources in the library available to our group all week.

*Plus, did I mention they had a bar?  A BAR in a Presidential Library.  I bet Silent Cal Coolidge can't say that (or anything else about HIS Presidential library.)

The museum itself was short of Smithsonian-level packed with nerdy awesomeness with a solo focus (obviously) on Reagan.  Among the coolest things I saw was a full sized Air Force One used during his administration, parts of the Berlin Wall (including a fake East to West Berlin tunnel for children visitors that had simulated barking, for real, this scarred ME), and a mock simulation including oval office, press room, and command central.

I got to play Press Secretary and get my CJ Cregg on during a mock press conference.  I couldn't resist a little liberalism when asked  who my favorite news personality is/was.  All homage to the indomitable Tim Russert who didn't shy away from asking the hard questions equally from Democrats and Republicans.

No worries that I have drank the Kool-aid and am coming home with a "Reagan Country" sign for my classroom.  I am returning with a glass container of jelly beans with the Presidential seal for my display of all things Government-y. Yes, I have met a very few singled minded people this week who seem to think that regardless of the person or topic, there is only one set of talking points to a fault of being in-your-face rude.

More importantly, I've also met some great people who while I don't agree with politically, are fabulous teachers with great ideas to try with my students. Collaboration is and will always be the reason, outside of personal interest, to come to processional development on my own dime.  In the usual talk of who has been to what seminar/institute, I seem to be of legend to be been accepted into two seminars in the same summer PLUS be accepted into the Supreme Court Law Institute last year.  I may have gotten myself talked into applying to be an AP reader for exams next summer.

*When in doubt and you need to use the Red phone to Moscow, down some jelly beans first.

I tell my students prepping for Friday debate, you need to know not only your own position, but that of your opponents even more.  This is the approach I've taken all week as I have politely listened to those I disagree with on topics such as the Common Core, the rise of the Tea Party, midterm and 2016 elections, judicial interpretation of the Supreme Court, and of course, hours upon hours of conversation about the eight years that Ronald Reagan led our country.  I've hoped that I have presented my best argument, supported by facts, and grounded in reason rather than emotion.  Even I get a little lump, when I use the election campaign, "Morning in America" in class.  Never fear, it was on a continuous loop interspersed with "God Bless America" set to soothing heartland images.

Last night our group drove out to Malibu to a beach bar and shrimp shack.  One of the participants had rented a convertible and asked if I wanted to ride with him.  Let me think....I'm in California with the opportunity to ride in a convertible along the Pacific Coast Highway.  Nope, didn't have to think twice.

Thanks California, you have been an awesome and amazing experience.  I even have the shirt to prove it.

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