Every spring, ASUG volunteers are busy as bees. We kick off the start of the conference season by meeting in January as a group, to correctly classify and review all the submitted abstracts. We try to determine which ones will be of the most interest to our community, and which speakers have shown their due diligence by the depth and breadth of their abstracts. This is not always an easy task! Sometimes there are just too many good abstracts out there, and you wish you could add another day of sessions.
After that meeting, we settle down to work from our desks. We contact the speakers, vet the presentations, make sure to remind people to get their housing straightened out. Sometimes we even plan extracurriculer activities, which span Interest Groups, and can bring a great group of people together. What fun!
As conference approaches, the activity intensifies… Sometimes a speaker needs to bow out, and an alternate will be contacted, hoping against hope that they are still willing to speak. The emails fly back and forth, between ASUG volunteers, speakers, ASUG HQ staff, friends from far and wide.
“Will I see you in Orlando?” I always ask.
“Wouldn’t miss it!” is my favorite response.
Then, some time spent worrying about my own logistics – Should I have taken another flight ? Is there time to order my infamous Flashy Blinky lights ? Who will take care of my kids while I am away (well, that one’s easy, it’s always Grandma and Grandpa).
Then, Bang! The whole spring crumbles in one minute, trying to move an air conditioner so I can get to my suitcase. Back pain, leg pain, numbness down the leg. A visit to the Doc indicates a ruptured disc, but that’s nothing compared to the disappointment at not being able to go.
I spend the week on anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and pain meds. It’s not as much fun as it sounds. For at least six months, my focus has been on attending conference, and now, the opportunity to meet new folks, learn cool stuff, and re-connect with old friends, is blown out of the water.
I zealously (and jealously?) read blogs and emails from folks who are there. I am following people on Twitter, trying to alleviate the heartache. The back will heal – it takes time – but an ASUG/SAPPHIRE conference, well, that comes around only once a year. Adding bittersweet touches, I receive mail from Mark Finnern; I’ve been selected to be an SAP Mentor! What an honor! And then, someone from the TechEd Design team sends me a note, asking if I will submit a presentation for TechEd on Workflow (one of my all-time favorite topics, next to my kids and sailing).
I read the blogs of one of my friends, Jim Spath, and examine every photo to see if familiar faces are captured there.
Here are some of the people I was planning on seeing: Karin, Gretchen, Dawn, Chris, Mike,Mark, Marilyn, Jim, Rob, Dan, Shalini, David, Jim, Trina, Peter, John, Jon, Tom, Ginger, Dale, Thomas, Ralf, Tom, George, Katherine, Sue, Joe, Sarah, Mark, Alon, Rick, Karen, Andrew, Michael, Robert, Butch, Steve… Well, you get the idea.
And now the dust has settled, and folks are making their way home, done with all the networking, and demo’ing, and the Vendor Floor (no doubt, with a knapsack full of goodies).
Whether or not I get to go to TechEd, there is something about the Spring Conference which is unique. Yes, you get some great sessions to attend, and yes, great entertainment. But nothing beats the chance to meet up with friends and peers, and this is, perhaps, one of the most valuable experiences you can take home from a conference. And if you didn’t make it this year, then let’s catch up next year. Cause slipped disc or not, I won’t miss another one!