When I sat down to write about SQL Saturday #118 I quickly realized it would be about many things. It’s about a road trip. It’s about public speaking. It’s about #SQLFamily and new friends. It’s about cows, kilts, and beer. And it is, of course, about SQL. I am going to split things up a little and this post is mostly about the #SQLFamily. If you don’t want to hear me gush about all of the cool people I met the day before SQL Saturday then you can probably skip this post and read about What I learned at SQLSAT118 or My First Time presenting in the posts that follow. I confess that this post is mostly for me, but if you haven’t been part of a SQL Saturday it might also help you understand a large part of what they are about. Sure there is great training, but there is also great people.
My SQL Saturday started at about 11am on Friday when I hopped in my car to drive to Madison, WI. Through the magic of Twitter I arranged to split the driving with an acquaintance from PASSMN meetings, Mark Vaillancourt (Blog|Twitter). I knew that Mark was presenting in Madison so back in March I sent him a message asking if he wanted to carpool. We could save some money and save the planet (which worked out well since our drive back was on Earth Day). I picked up Mark at his house and we set off with great excitement. Here I was on a road trip without kids for the first time in years; truly an adventure was starting. The miles went quickly as we used the four and half hour drive to share our stories and get to know each other. Mark has a great geeky sense of humor and because he is a seasoned speaker he made a great guide for me on my first venture into SQL Saturday presenting.
We arrived in Madison a little early and after getting settled into the hotel we drove over to the event venue and offered our services to help for the next day’s preparation. We bumped into Norman Kelm (Blog|Twitter) as we wandered around the MATC campus for a few minutes. Mark introduced us, but it wasn’t until later that we realized Norm and I shared an interest in all things SSIS. When the three of us finally found the SQL Saturday volunteers they were wrapping up for the evening. You can imagine our disappointment when we learned that the only thing left to do for the evening was to go out for a couple of beers.
It was here that I met the infamous Jes Borland (Blog|Twitter). Jes is the organizer for SQLSAT118 and a SQL Server MVP. She recognized Mark and ran over to give him a hug. She then surprisingly greeted me with a hug as well. I was caught off guard at the time, but in retrospect it seems a fitting way to meet Jes for the first time. Jes doesn’t know this, but it was when I watched Jes doing a presentation on Partitioning earlier this year that I decided I might be able do some presenting. That may come across as,”Heck if Jes can do it, how hard can it be?” Nothing could be further from the truth (although she did make it look easy). I watched Jes give a straight forward presentation showing information that was well organized and full of great demo’s. The thing that clicked for me was that I already knew most of the facts she was presenting, but I had never sat down and organized everything well enough to explain it to someone else. And I also knew there were people “in the room” (it was a webcast) that were learning something new for the first time. That afternoon I wrote down five subjects I thought I could give a talk about and this past Saturday I presented one of them.
But I am getting ahead of myself. After failing to be of any use as volunteers we joined everyone for a quick beer at the Ale Asylum. I met several people who I until that moment I only knew from the twitterverse. For posterity: it was while enjoying a Baliistic IPA that I met Dustin Mueller (Twitter -who despite his twitter handle failed to bring me a cheesecake),Doug Lane (Blog|Twitter), Bill Fellows (Blog|Twitter), Gill Rowley (Blog|Twitter), Bob Pusateri (Blog|Twitter), Tim Ford (Blog|Twitter), and Erin Stellato (Blog|Twitter). I am sure there were others, but they say that the memory is the second thing to go.
We migrated from the Ale Asylum to Benveneto’s where one of the sqlsat sponsors, Melissa Data, provided a dinner for the speakers. I ended up at a table with Mark, Bill, Norm, Bob, Eddie Wuerch (Twitter), Aaron Lowe (Blog | Twitter) and his lovely wife.
The food was good, but that wasn’t really what it was about. It was about having dinner and conversation with a group of people who got each others’ jokes. When was the last time you were at a dinner that became a paper airplane fight?There was some shop talk because, lets face it, the reason everyone was there was SQL Server, but no one minded because SQLserver was the reason everyone was there.
After dinner I went back to my hotel room and rehearsed my presentation one last time. I went to sleep dreaming about SSIS configurations and was oddly not nervous at all.