Since last Thursday, folks have been heading to Junction City to attend the Scandinavian Festival to enjoy the fabulous food and dances that have become such a tradition in the festival’s 54–year history.
I, however, went to Junction City on Wednesday (the day before the festivities) to do a PowerPont presentation about Oregon’s coastal bridges at the Junction City Retirement and Assisted Living facility. It had been on my schedule for the past six months.
I talked to Nanette, the staff person in charge of programs and social activities, the day before and she gave me better directions than I had from MapQuest.
Because Tuesday would be a full day with Florence Festival of Books stuff filling the entire day, I practiced my bridges program on Monday, tweaked it, and got everything ready to go. So my large bridges chart, props, laptop, and projector sat by the door two days before they were needed.
On Wednesday the day of the program, I did some watering on the decks, got ready, and was gone by 10:30 a.m. There were a couple road work stoppages and lots of traffic, but I got there by 12:30 p.m. That gave me time to eat the lunch I had packed. My plan was to start setting up by 1 p.m. I walked in the retirement facility at 12:55 p.m.
Nanette met me, and we got everything unloaded and set up by 1:30 p.m. Perfect! I was able to meet with folks as they came in and hear about when they rode the ferries over on the coast and how some of them saw some of the bridges being built. They were clearly looking forward to a PowerPoint program about the coast bridges. So far, so good!
At 1:55 p.m. the projector light went off and my laptop program disappeared. But the power was still on!!
I spent about six or seven minutes trying to get first the projector working, which I did. And then the program back on the laptop, which I did. But I could not get the program to pop up on the screen. It was as if the connection between had been broken. Very frustrating, and it was time to begin. So I went to Plan B. I had had problems with this computer only once before, and then, I got the program back up and running. Not this time.
I didn’t really have a Plan B, so I used the script, which I’m comfortable with, for about 1/3 of the program. Then, when I got to the part where all the bridges would show on the screen one after the other in order, I asked Nanette to pass out a copy of The Crossings Guide to the 15 or so in the audience. Then we went down the coast bridge by bridge and they followed along in their books as I talked about each one. After that, I told them the story behind the spectacular cover photo. Then I shifted their focus to the large bridge chart I have, which shows all of the coastal McCullough bridges starting with the longest and ending with the shortest. That was of great interest. Then I went back to my script for the last five minutes.
So we had a 40-minute program as promised but not exactly the way it had been planned. The audience was terrific, they all seemed to be able to hear and laughed at my jokes. And nobody left when they realized there would be no pictures––just some muttering about “modern technology.” After the program there were some questions and comments. And I sold a few books. All in all, not a bad day.
While I was leading the group through the book page by page and then pointing out bridges on the bridge chart, I felt like I was back in the classroom teaching my first graders. I guess, once a teacher, always a teacher. Those skills of long ago came in very handy.
As soon as I got back home I hooked up my laptop and projector and, of course, everything worked perfectly! I have no clue what the problem was! I guess the moral of the story is to always have a backup plan when Plan A doesn’t work out.