The past two weeks our schedule got turned upside down in our house when I got an email last week informing me I was a finalist to participate in a #CarterCenter G+ Hangout with President Carter on #globalhealth. That email began a very detailed and hectic busy-ness trying to arrange tests on internet connections and laptops and webcams etc to be sure I had the correct technology to even keep being considered as a panelist.
First, we tried to get this set up to occur at R's one day of school, Community Day, which meets every Tuesday at the Boys & Girls' Club in San Marcos. The G+ Hangout was scheduled for the middle of the day when we'd be at school. It was my plan that if I was selected we could have our middle school students watch live and then we'd use it to launch our school's brand new Kids For Peace chapter by discussing how they want to help children in developing countries.
Since the staff there was in the middle of quite a lot that week, it took a little longer than I hoped to get the test run. While I was playing phone tag (and starting to feel like a nuisance), a new email arrived. It was from one of President Carter's aides, asking of she could talk to me about being a finalist. ACK! I quickly changed out of my pjs into a dress, shooed R to the bedroom and prepared for a live G+ Hangout with the aide and a Google employee. So excited by this new development, I decided we better run a tech test here at home in case things didn't work out at the B&G Club.
Alas, the internet speeds at home were NOT at all up to snuff. : ( And when I was able to get in touch with the director of operations at the B&G Club, they couldn't get the test run, so we had to scrap that site, too. Ohh I was getting nervous - it was Friday by then and the Hangout was ONLY 4 days away!
Luckily, I asked my amazing darling to run the speed test at his office (knowing there was NO WAY the San Diego Supercomputer Center wouldn't be fast enough), and yeah! His office and laptop was perfect for me to use if I got chosen. But there was still a few other tests we needed to run with the tech company Google uses for these high profile Hangouts, so we had to go over there on Sunday afternoon to run those. Everything went fine, but they wondered if I had a webcam to try out if necessary. We did - somewhere at home.
Early Monday morning, after my Darling has already left for the office, I found out they needed me to go back to the office to run more tests WITH that webcam we hadn't located yet! R & I packed up some school stuff for him to do since once my Darling came to get us and take us over to his office, we'd be staying all day. Darling located the webcam and we grabbed our stuff and headed back out into morning traffic. On the drive over, the official notification of being chosen as a panelist came through on my phone!
We got to the office and decided we needed to find another space so I wouldn't be taking up my Darling's office for two days and disrupting his work even more. I ended up with access to one conference room, where we tried to set up and test before we learned it had no Ethernet without a 48 hour notice. We were given access to another conference room a floor up, and that one was perfect. I wrote in on the schedules posted on the doors "G+ Hangout with President Carter."
Monday was filled with rehearsals and finalization of tech details. And trying to get R to focus on school while we were in other offices and dealing with all of this. I still needed to find a minute to do a million other things AND write out my questions for the panel. Somehow I found time to get some really great questions tweaked and emailed. PHEW! Plus, I called my daughters and dad to let them know all about the Hangout. We emailed and called lots of folks, plus I started promoting it all over FB & G+.
As soon as I got up on Tuesday, I checked my phone and there was a request to revise & edit my questions! Now, I am an editor and I know it goes, so I rewrote two before I called the aide back to discuss the changes and where I was going with the third one. I left for the SDSC ready and nervous.
We got everything set up in the conference room and my Darling went back to his office & R so they could watch live from there. I had to move around the table until the folks at Google were happy with the lighting, the composition of the scene, etc etc. I had my revised questions printed out and folded over the laptop screen so I could see it without having to look down - there hadn't been a lot of time to memorize them with all of the tech stuff we had to take care of.
Minutes before we were going to go live, I noticed the laptop power cord was NOT fully plugged into the outlet so I pulled it out and firmly plugged it into the one next to it. OH NO! Wrong move! Everything went off! Now, usually one could JUST plug it back into the other outlet and get things turned back on in seconds....which I did, however the issue was that my wonderful, beloved Darling uses passwords I do not know and his computers keyboards are ALL set to Dvorak which I do not know. I began panicking and tried to get it to English, but no go. I called him and said "I need you now!" Darling ran all the way from his office up to the conference room and was sweating and puffing while he set everything back up so I could log back in to the Hangout.
I was horrified that I had blown it at the last moment. In the end, no one else even noticed I had dropped out of the screen. So lucky I had my own amazing tech guy who loves me so much. Other than that one terribly timed dumb move on my part, everything went smoothly.
The Hangout is on YouTube now and I am so thrilled to have been part of it. It's crazy the amount of prep time necessary to put on a 25 minute live event from multiple locations. Technology is brilliant to give us these opportunities and I hope to be part of many more such events.