PASS Summit 2012 in a nutshell

I truly don’t even know where to start this post. This year’s PASS Summit was a bit of a whirlwind for me! I’m going to do my best to condense it all down a bit (this seems an impossible task, but here goes nothin’)!

Before the Summit

This pretty much describes most events that happen with the SQL Community – one of the reasons I love them so much! πŸ™‚

The week started out with a trip to Archie McPhee’s. What a fun store! This is not only where the unicorn mask came from, but also where new animals were added to our mask collection (namely, a panda and hippo). We then recorded a new video, just for fun.

If you look closely, you can see the Seattle City lights behind us. This was us on the Observation Deck of the Space Needle after dinner.

Monday night, Jason (@StrateSQL) and I had a date night. We went to dinner at the top of the Space Needle in the SkyCity restaurant. The restaurant turns while you are dining, making one complete rotation in about 45 minutes. The view at night was incredible. The food was pretty good, though I felt the $150 we spent on dinner was a little steep! The portions were probably just about right by a nutritionist’s standards, but I could have easily eaten dessert before I was full.

Spouse Event

On Wednesday, a couple of the speakers’ wives and I went out to lunch at Chihuly’s Collections Cafe, and then to take a tour on one of the city’s Duck Boats. Thank you PASS for sponsoring this event! I want to also say thank you to Kris (@nodns) for putting the plans for this fun event together.

Lunch was interesting. Most of the food on the menu, I had no idea what it was. I ended up getting a pasta off the appetizer menu, and some cheese curds. I was shocked to find out that 2 of the wives had never heard of or had cheese curds! Of course, the other Sarah (who was from WI), and I had to teach these women about the joys of cheese curds. They thought the idea of “squeaky cheese curds” sounded pretty gross. They don’t know what they’re missing!

The Duck Boat tour was pretty fun. Our Captain, Captain Chaos, definitely added to the adventure. I was really impressed that he was able to remember where everyone on the vehicle was from. It was supposed to have been a cold, rainy day. We lucked out, and it was a gorgeous day in Seattle, WA! They did have blankets for us to cover up with while we were going at the top speed of 35 MPH, but they were barely needed. We happened to be out on the water just as the sun was getting ready to set near the Space Needle. It was pretty awesome.

Volunteer

This picture shows about half of the First Timers that came to the orientation on Tuesday night.

The 2 months or so leading up to the Summit was incredibly busy for me. I was on the First Timer’s Program Committee, and admittedly, it ended up being a bigger job than I expected! It was worth it in the end, because I had people coming up to me all week thanking me. The First Timers really appreciated the emails they got from their Alumni Mentors leading up to the PASS Summit, the Networking Sessions offered to First Timers, and the Orientation that was offered. Overall, things went much better than last year, but I think we also learned a few things to do differently next year. I would appreciate feedback from both mentors and first timers.

Updated 11/19: The day before the official start of the Summit was a day full of meetings. Mostly for Jason, but I was in the SQL Saturday Round Table Meeting as well. This was a meeting with a few board members, the Community Evangelists, and a group of people who have organized SQL Saturdays before. We talked about the growth of SQL Saturdays, and how to run one on a “tight budget.” As Americans, we tend to always want to make things bigger and better than the last one, but the Europeans (and other Internationals there) reminded us that we really only need to have a location (with liability insurance), speakers, and water. My favorite quote from my notes that day: ” Focus on our goals – we want to offer a free education for people. Take the basic needs, and then add your upgrades as you get the money!” We also talked about ways to market your SQL Saturday, including having your user groups spread the word at their places of employment. Who knows, you just may end up with another sponsor!

At the Summit, I also volunteered as an Ambassador (my favorite job). I got to wear a red vest, and answer questions people had, helped direct traffic, etc. The best part, was standing at the top of the escalators greeting half-asleep/hungover introverts who just wanted to get to their sessions without talking to too many people. I didn’t let them off the hook without eye contact and a smile! πŸ˜‰

Laughing it up with Laerte Junior from Brazil, and Wendy Pastrick.

I also had the pleasure of sitting at the Community Zone with Karla (@karlakay22) and Niko (@NikoNeugebauer), PASS’s two fabulous Community Evangelists. They are great people to volunteer with (though in all honesty, I think I was the least helpful here). Hanging out at the Community Zone was a great place to meet some people I had talked to on twitter, but had never met in person. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting people both from the U.S. and many other countries!

I’m not even touching the evening events, because they deserve their own post on sqlkaraoke.com. πŸ™‚

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