Now That it’s all Over

Posted: November 15, 2010 in Career, Events, SQLServerPedia Syndication

PASS Summit 2010 is in the books, and I think this marks the end of the conference season. Recently we had the SSQUG Fall Conference, SQL Connections, and I have no idea how many SQL Saturdays. Yet I do know there are many SQL Saturdays to come and SQL Rally is just around the corner plus, I believe, a SSWUG Spring Virtual Conference, but now is the time to reflect. So as I sit in the airport waiting for my flight back to Denver I cannot help but think of the positives and negatives of the past 3 months worth of events. If nothing else I hope you can use this list to maybe help you make decisions when you look at what events to consider in the spring. At the end I have a couple of questions for you to see what you think. I hope you take the time and join the discussion so that I may learn from you.

Positives

  • Lighting sessions at Pass – The format for these is just a lot of fun. Really no other way to say it, but, not only is it fun I think it gave us an insight into a number of topics in a very short period of time. The way these work is a session is set aside, and speakers are picked to do a 5 min session on a topic. The slides do not have words, just pictures, and the speakers are on the clock. What makes these sessions great is you get the overview and the keywords that you should be looking up if you want more technical information. Keep in mind you are not going to be able to get everything there is to know, just the pointers. Of just if you were wondering. Rob Farley had the most humorous session when he helped everyone understand what collations are by comparing the “art” of English from the views of 3 countries.
  • Vendor Parties – If you were thinking that you would have a chance to catch your breath from the day to day work while you are out of town, you are so wrong. I have not been this busy since I was in Boot Camp. Every waking minute there was something to do. And there were some great times to be had everywhere. Not just at the Vendor Parties, but at the after event parties as well.
  • Seeing a city from a different view – Out of consideration for my friend he will remain nameless for this post. However, I can tell you that he was the best host ever… I saw parts of the city I never thought I would, I was able to sit down and have a meal with his family then went on another tour that included the locks and eventually concluded with the best skyline I have ever seen. One of the locks was empty for maintenance and according to the locals that were walking by it was a sight for everyone not just us tourists. The lock was 65 feet deep and had a simple 3 foot wide walkway to cross, it was just awesome. My friend and you know who you are, I can tell you Friday night was awesome and thank you for taking time away from your family to spend it with me.

 

Negatives

  • Catching up with everyone – Is it just me? Really 3 or 4 years ago when I would go to an event like this there were some people that would come by and say “Hi”. There were attendees that had read something that I had written that would want to ask a question. But I am near convinced that with the popularity of Facebook, and Twitter that there are so many more people that want to visit. It’s like someone opened a can of Social Light when I wasn’t looking. Now don’t get me wrong… I love talking to everyone. It was a real treat, but I did not have near enough time to visit with everyone. There are a number of friends that I stood up for dinner, or just did not have time to catch up with. So in my fashion, I have to ask… How would I improve it? You know what, I just don’t know. It could be that just after all the years of doing this I have a number of friends and well I need to just manage my time better. But there was a guy named Brian who wanted to connect and wanted to grab a drink after I told him how important that aspect to the conference was. But each time he asked me I was busy, and then there were the dinners that I should have done but I didn’t. Next year there will be a new plan. What I am not sure yet.
  • Sleepless in Seattle – I really don’t mean for this to be a political statement at all, just an observation. I spent almost 7 days in Seattle this year and well I can tell you why there are so many those who are Sleepless in Seattle. It may have a bit to do with lost love or love not yet gained, but from where I sit the truth appears to be more in the direction of they don’t have a place to sleep. Each day I would walk the 4 or 5 blocks from my hotel to the convention center and I would be approached by countless homeless people in Seattle. I cannot tell you why there were so many here. I can tell you that I have never seen so many. I have been to major cities such as L.A. and it was nothing like my experience this last week. So you have to ask yourself, do you pass them a couple bucks, and if so are you really helping them. I heard from many people that there are a number of programs they can get into a number of shelters where they can sleep and food kitchens where they can eat. So why is it such a problem? So many of the hotel staff would not know how to react when I asked about the homeless: should they be shown compassion or frustration? To be honest I was not sure myself. The first part of the week it was compassion, but after a week I just did not have anything more I could give, and yes I did pass some along. No matter the reason I would beg the city of Seattle, the companies that call this home or the hotel where I stayed to take action. This is just wrong. I will leave the debate on what action to take but I can tell you that no one should have to sleep outside in a doorway.
  • Flying in general – Well for anyone who knows me, you may know that I hate to fly, yea I know there are many of us that don’t like it, but really I do hate it. There is the whole airplane in the sky fear, but beyond that the attitude from everyone at the airport is just so darn positive. Really who hires these people, do they look for candidates that could not make it as insult comedians? Really, I do understand they cannot control if a flight is delayed, or bumpy or if the lines are long. And well, us non airport people I am sure are just pleasant as can be. But I cannot tell you how many times I could see people so close to losing their mind with all the back and forth that is going on.
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Comments
  1. RalphWilson says:

    Another negative (besides the temperature range of about 41F to about 45F!), at least for _me_ was the fact that every route I tried from my hotel to the convention center resulted in my walking in a haze of second hand smoke because it seemed like 9 out of 10 people on the sidewalk were smoking. Those were people who had gotten hooked on cigs prior to the knowledge that they are deadly but, rather, young people who should have known better than to start in the first place.

    As for the flying part, I didn’t mind the airports . . . it was the sardine can conditions of the airplanes!

    That being said, PASS was wonderfully affirming, enlightening, and mind-blowing, all at the same time.

  2. Jerry Foster says:

    Concerning the homeless. This is a difficult situation with no easy answers. It is so hard to distinguish between those truly in need, and those that are in that situation because they choose to be.

    I always recommend against giving money. Odds are it will be used simply for alcohol or non-substantial spending. One thing I often due is to simpy eat a half-portion of whatever I order at a restaurant (which is a healthy choice anyway), make sure I get a doggy-bag, and provide it to a homeless person on my way home.

    A second suggestion, on a bigger scale, would be for the local shelters and aid groups to provide food/lodging vouchers at various locations, including the hotels. You could *purchase* a voucher that could be handed to a homeless person along your way. This would be a win for everyone – the shelter is reimbursed for their expense, the homeless get a good meal or nights rest, and you are sure that your money is spent wisely instead of drugs or beer. Just my $.02.

    • Chris Shaw says:

      Jerry,

      I like the ideas, and I believe I heard from a local at some time they were looking at options, but I have to admit that it was a real shocker when you are walking into a hotel that is $200.00 a night and yet people just down the street were not eating.

      Thanks for your input.

      Chris

      • RalphWilson says:

        Chris,

        I have taken a slightly differnt approach to providing food to street people.

        If I am on foot, I will often offer to go into a McDonalds/Burger King/whatever and to buy the person anything and everything they want. I used to do that a lot when I was working downtown in Memphis because there was a BK right across the street from where I worked. However, I can’t tell you how many times the response was, “Nah, man, just give me the money . . . i don’t want nothing to eat!”

        If, on the other hand, I am driving and encounter someone on a street corner with a sign about a pathetic situation, I am prepared for that, too. My wife and I make up 1 gallon freezer bags in which we place a bottle of water, a small canned ham, a can of fruit, some plastic eating utensils, and a small can of viena sausages. (I have also been known to add a business card from a local shelter and even the occassional pocket New Testament ;-). I offer one of those bags to the person on the corner.

        Interestingly enough, I have some great memories of the reactions of people who accepted my gifts (including a woman in Dallas and a man in San Antonio who each literally _danced_ back to their curbside station after getting a food bag). I have some memories, also, of those who turned down the offers but I tend to dwell on the former memories. ;-)

        As for the reasons behind the homeless people? Well, I know some who simpy stopped taking their meds for bi-polar disorders or some other psychological problem (usually because the meds made them feel “not normal”). While they are on their meds, they are able to function in society but when they aren’t on them, they aren’t. Of course, if they are institutionalized and forced to take their meds, once they get “functional”, they can’t be kept in the institution and they can’t be forced to take their meds.

  3. tomroush says:

    Hey Chris – (and others) – should you ever be curious about the locks – you can find them written about here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiram_M._Chittenden_Locks – and if you’re a fan of “Deadliest Catch” – you have to walk past the place they do the end of the series interviews at, the “Lock Spot Cafe” http://www.yelp.com/biz/lockspot-cafe-seattle – Chris… I think I found us a new place to go hang out with your nameless friend next time you’re up in this neck of the woods. :)

    As for the homeless – the weird thing is I run into them every day – even when there isn’t a convention in town… I’ve bought some of them burgers, gave some who were just waking up a coffee cake I had and got some coffee for them (sleeping in a doorway just can’t be warm) – and the thing is – there are some out there who are just looney – they hang out at the bus stop I’m at after work – I see them every day. Some do drugs. Some are clearly not doing the drugs they’re supposed to be doing. They’re in your face and stand there with their cardboard signs simply expecting you to do something. A friend I trust saw a bus (yes, a bus) unload a bunch so they could hang out and panhandle. I don’t know what to think, other than those who do that give those who really are down and out a bad name… And then there are some – I’ve got a blog post coming up myself about one of them – he was on the bus with me, looking for a shelter. He’d been in demolition before the financial crisis, then his house burned down, and his job AND house were no more. He was trying to make ends meet, lived with his kids for awhile till he realized that wasn’t giving them the privacy they needed, so he’s moving from shelter to shelter.

    • Chris Shaw says:

      The only thing missing in the photo http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/-lPU9_G_b07xl7ryTaIwwA?select=KRuvlR_HvcUZMcUl8c43sg is a baby blue 1964 Saab. And a couple of buds kickin back some fish n chips.

      I hear ya on the homeless thing, there was a couple that we saw that were well I am not sure how to say it, but they were polished, they just didn’t fit. Not saying that fitting is a good thing. Either way it tugs on the heart strings.

      Thanks for the links on the locks, I will be reading for an hour now. I will be up there last week of Feb. wonder if there will be time for the fish ladder.

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