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SQLShot – Growing New Speakers

I was talking at SQLSaturday #161 East Iowa with one of the newer PASS Chapter Leaders, Sheila Acker [t] of Quad Cities PASS, about ideas for growing more local speakers. I described a little program called SQLShot that we do in Orlando at the OPASS meetings. Sheila thought something similar could work for her group and that other Chapter Leaders might like to hear about it as well. Here’s what SQLShot is all about.

You know how during the networking time at user group meetings, you’ll often overhear one person sharing with another something they did at work that day that really helped their company or just made their day easier? Or maybe you hear the opposite conversations – a DBA talking about what a brute of a day they had trying to figure something out, and the other person sharing a technique or tool that might help. What these database pros probably don’t realize is that so many others in the room might also benefit from that knowledge.

This is when you, the Chapter leader, strike and ask the member if they’d consider doing a presentation on that very topic at an upcoming meeting. Of course, as most of us know, DBAs as a whole tend not to be that outgoing, and the thought of talking in front of an audience of their peers can be terrifying.

At OPASS – the Orlando user group started by Andy Warren [b|t] years ago and now led by Shawn McGehee [b|t] – we do what we call a SQLShot , a 10- to 15-minute presentation typically done by someone who has very little, if any, previous speaking experience.

Of course, you can ask during the opening announcements if anyone is interested in doing an upcoming SQLShot. But usually all you’ll hear is the crickets. That’s why it’s important to recognize opportunities like those mentioned above and reach out to specific members on topics you know they can talk about.

As your user group’s leader, you are also a mentor. Your members just need someone to encourage them, someone to eliminate the obstacles going up in their minds. Explain that a presentation on what they were just talking about could benefit others. Let them know it doesn’t have to be some super-polished PPT that they spend hours on, trying to think up (dare I say it) bullet points. Paint the picture; keep it simple. Let them know their presentation might involve just opening up SSMS, showing off the query they created, and describing what the problem was and how this code helped.

The typical rebuttal is, “That won’t even fill 10 minutes.” Tell them that’s fine. Because, just wait… once they are up there and start talking about their solution, before they know it, they’ve shared for 30 minutes. Database pros are excited about what they do, and that excitement usually starts pouring out about 2-3 minutes into the demo.

The next retort will be, “Everyone knows this already.” As we all know, even the most seasoned DBAs learn at least a thing or two in almost any session they attend. Remind your novice speaker that many of the audience members are beginners, and even if they’re not, they’re attending the meetings to learn from their peers’ experiences.

Now here’s a rebuttal I often hear from user group leaders: “I just can never get anyone local to present at our meetings.” I’m not so naïve to believe that all user group leaders are outgoing and can easily approach others and dare to “ask” someone to do something as bold as present. Times like these are YOUR chance to improve your leadership and mentoring skills.

If you’re reading this thinking “that’s me,” brace yourself. My recommendation is that YOU do the SQLShot for your next meeting! There are so many benefits to presenting the SQLShot yourself. You get to learn more about it yourself, mentor others what to do, and lead by example. Show them just how easy it is to do a brief demo. That will be all it takes to generate others to give it a shot! J

We are planning here at OPASS to order some custom SQLShot glasses and coffee mugs. Unfortunately the ones we want from 4imprint are a minimum purchase of 72 each.  If you’re a user group leader interested in doing SQLShots at your meetings, and would like to be able to provide a prize like these as well, let me know.  We’re hoping to maybe get 5 or 6 others interested to help with the costs.  Here are the two items we’re looking at purchasing:

http://www.4imprint.com/search/shot%20glasses/product/111769/Square-Shot-Glass-2-oz

http://www.4imprint.com/search/coffee%20mugs/product/6184-C/Seattle-Mug-Colored

 

SQLSaturday #144 Sacramento: Northern California Makes Its Mark!

After a much needed 6-week break in travel, my FY2013 adventures began at Sacramento’s very first SQLSaturday. Having lived there long ago, I was a little leary of Sacramento in the middle of summer, but was pleasantly surprised to arrive at record low temperatures in the 70s. It made for a beautiful weekend at what was a superbly run event!

Let’s start with the speaker dinner. More and more organizers are hosting the dinner at a home versus a restaurant. It makes for such a nice environment for conversation and for being able to move around and talk to everyone without being confined to a table. For SQLSaturday #144, one of the organizers, Will Meier [t], hosted the dinner and prepared all the good eats, featuring North Carolina-style BBQ right down to the slaw. Dinner entertainment was provided by another organizer, Angel Abundez [b|t], who sang and performed an amazing array of upbeat music via, of all things, a harp. Don’t believe me? Check out the unique treat here.

Onto event day and a quick look at what worked well and lessons learned. The event had to be moved from a local university to a hotel late in the game, which always makes me nervous because of costs involved with hotels. SQLSaturday budgets typically can’t afford such a venue, but the Courtyard Marriott gave the team a really good deal because they were in a crunch. The hotel provided the back lobby area for registration, which was one of the smoothest registrations I’ve seen for a first-time event.

Sacramento used SpeedPASS and never had a line waiting at check-in. The team did a great job the week before the event reminding registrants to pre-print and cut their SpeedPASS. In the first hour registration was open; only eight attendees hadn’t pre-printed their SpeedPASS. Lead organizers Eric Freeman [b|t] and Dan Hess [b|t] were pleasantly surprised, but the team was prepared for the worst case, having pre-printed and organized all the SpeedPASSes in advance. Now, they know they won’t have to go to the extra effort and cost at their next event.

The hotel provided four meeting rooms and the hallway in front of those rooms for the sponsors. It also catered a nice variety of box lunches, which included some of the best wraps I’ve ever eaten. However, although the event’s final head count was around 200, it did have an unexpected high dropout rate, so a lot of pre-ordered lunches based on registration numbers had to be donated.

The Sacramento event had a few factors working against it. Two other events were going on in town the same day, one of which was the State Fair in its final weekend. Why would anyone go to a State Fair when they can be going to a SQLSaturday? :) While the DBA in the family might have preferred the SQLSaturday, their family likely had other desires. The lesson here would be for event organizers to do more messaging the week before the event to make sure those who have made other plans opt out. A lot of people fear they are spamming the week before the event, but we’ve seen that the SQLSaturdays with lower percentages of no-shows are typically those that have done a lot of messaging those last few days. It really does help organizers get a more accurate headcount and keep costs down.

Something else to mention on the topic of competing activities in your area, especially since it has affected two recent events, is to be sure you check with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) before locking in your date. The BBB should know in advance if any major events are happening in your city the same day you are looking to host your event.

Those who didn’t attend SQLSaturday #144 missed a great lineup of speakers, including a fantastic Women in Technology (WIT) lunch panel including PASS Board member Denise McInerney [b|t], PASS WIT Virtual Chapter leader Meredith Ryan of The Bell Group [b|t], Microsoft SQL Server MVP and author Kalen Delaney [b|t], Confio’s Janis Griffin, and Cal State’s Helen Norris. The event sponsors filled the entire hallway and then some, with Southwest PASS Regional Mentor Phil Robinson [b|l] helping me at the PASS table. Team organizer Mitch Bottel [b|t] scored SQLSaturday temporary tattoos at a great price for all the attendees – you know I had to sport one of those! The end-of-day raffle was in the back lobby area with plenty of room to spare, and the After Party was on the back deck at Chevy’s overlooking the Sacramento River, a perfect setting for an evening of networking.

The Sacramento team made its mark on the SQLSaturday map, hosting a very successful event. This makes two Northern California events in just 4 months and the attendance at both SQLSaturdays shows that this region is definitely hungering for more dedicated SQL Server training.

SQLSaturday #132 Pensacola Recap – Teamwork Prevails

With all the buzz around the flood in Pensacola, I thought I’d take time to do a brief recap of the event, and to say “thanks” to some awesome volunteers. This certainly was a team effort this year, and I for one cannot thank everyone enough. I’m sure I’ll forget some names here, but I’ll do my best, so here goes…

Friday, Pre-con Day

  • Jamie Beck for being onsite early and getting security wrangled up to get the doors open in time and helping me out with the check in process.
  • Rodney Landrum for helping out with the coffee and bagel pickup, and for the extra run back for the missing sugar and creamer, oh, and waters for the speakers.
  • Kelly Thompson of CTS (one of our sponsors) for helping me get the bags stuffed. There wasn’t much to stuff this year, so between the two of us we were able to get it done in under an hour.
  • Mark and Jeannie Holmes for making the Sam’s run for sodas, snacks and other misc. items.
  • Robert Davis and Argenis Fernandez, our pre-con speakers, for putting on a fantastic day of training.  Each break you could just hear the excitement by the attendees on what they were learning.

Saturday, Game Day

  • Shawn McGehee for driving Friday night all the way from Orlando (7 hours) to bring the yard signs, as the Pensacola ones that I had made last year were stolen. Shawn also handled the non printed SpeedPASS line, as he did last year, so super glad to have his experience onsite.  This was the second year in a row for Pensacola to use SpeedPASS, and once again, less than 10% of the attendees didn’t pre-print, with the bulk of this being the speakers, which were to have been pre-printed but apparently time ran out to get that done in advance.
  • Shawn and Rodney for combating the downpour and getting all the yard signs posted around the campus.  They were gone a long time, and came back just drenched!  Apparently they did a great job because comments were made that the signs did an excellent job leading you right in to where you needed to be.
  • Carston Bahnsen, Michael Wells and Victor Rojas for handling the regular registration line. They were fast and efficient, and definitely key to making check in smooth for our attendees.
  • Mark and Jeannie for making the second Sam’s run, and tackling the donut snafu. They also came back with battle signs from the monsoon.  Also for getting the Event Evals stuffed into the name badge holders the evening prior, this made it easy for us to be sure to collect them at the end (they were bright orange, couldn’t miss them!)
  • Kimberly Smith for being the photographer for the day, also filling in where we had gaps for room monitors, posting the door signage around to all the rooms, and getting the speaker evals to the rooms. She literally was all over the place, and fast!
  • Phillip Kirkland (of another sponsor, BitWizards), Jamie, Shawn, and Rodney for helping get the cart of sponsor’s tables unfolded and set up everywhere.
  • Carston leading a couple of others in getting the raffle boxes assembled for the sponsors.
  • Calvin Jones for helping out with miscellaneous items both Friday and Saturday, and for also filling in with room proctoring.
  • John Baldwin, lead of the Birmingham SQLSaturday, helping Jeannie manage the volunteers as they checked in throughout the rest of the day.
  • Barry Coker for being the upstairs greeter and making sure folks could find their way across to the auditorium.
  • Pat Byrne, Michael Viron, Victor, Allen Kinsel, and a couple of others for helping get all the lunch boxes into the building…DRY!
  • Jorge Segarra, Southeast PASS Regional Mentor, for helping out at the PASS table while I was running around orchestrating.
  • Victor for risking his own life in the monsoon and flooded streets to get the leftover lunch boxes to the Waterfront Mission for the homeless, whose shelter had been flooded, so he had to do some searching to find where they had all been relocated to. True dedication to taking care of others resides in this man’s big heart!
  • And lastly, to Mark and Jeannie for all their work leading up to this event, and for putting up with all my “poking and prodding”.  I know they realize now it was all worth it!

A HUGE THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!!!

I’d also like to thank all the attendees for weathering the storm, oh wait, that’s right, we pretty much had you captive. heehee. No really, I’m proud to say that Pensacola has consistently ever only had about a 13% average in “no shows” each year, with most other events having anywhere from 30-50%.  When you say you’ll be there, you are! Thank you!

This year was definitely the year of teamwork for Pensacola.  For the first time in four years, we actually had the bulk of the volunteers arrive early, which really helped to get the event kicked off on the right foot and running smoothly all day long, even with all the havoc Mother Nature was throwing at us.

 

March Madness with PASS and SQL Server 2012

March brought the much anticipated SQL Server 2012, and with it a slew of events, including Microsoft’s Special Ops tour, several PASS SQLSaturdays, and rounding out the month with DevConnections and SQLBits X.

My own March Madness took me to three of the month’s SQLSaturday events. Two were first-time events: #103 Silicon Valley, organized by Mark Ginnebaugh [blog|twitter] and his team, and #105 Dublin, organized by Sandra Gunn [twitter] and her team. The third, #110 Tampa, was organized for the fifth straight year by Pam Shaw [LinkedIn|twitter] – the Queen of SQLSaturdays and my mentor.  All three events were very successful, with strong attendance and fantastic speaker lineups, great sponsor support (all with several exhibiting onsite, always nice to see), and as much SQL Server 2012 content as you could pack into a day.

Registration and logistics flow at the veteran Tampa event coasted along smoothly, with the first-time SQLSaturdays experiencing a few bumps, as is typical. There’s still more we can do with mentoring new events in this area, although sometimes you just don’t know the best layout for registration and sponsors until you’re onsite and shifting things around.

The events all resembled each other, as they should since there is a “model” to follow for a SQLSaturday – most importantly providing high-quality free training to attendees. But it’s always fun to see how each team puts its own stamp on SQLSaturday, often expressed in the speaker/volunteer appreciation parties. March brought some very special touches.

Silicon Valley catered to the Big Geek in all of us by having its Friday event at the nearby Computer History Museum.  I think we were all more interested in getting our picture taken in front of the Charles Babbage’s Calculating Engine than eating what was probably the best food I’ve ever seen at a SQLSaturday appreciation party (my particular favorite was the asparagus spears wrapped in pancetta, had to fight Denny Cherry [blog|twitter]over these).

Closer to home, Tampa’s Friday evening featured the traditional sit-down Italian dinner, fostering that comfortable feeling of family. The SQL Florida Mafia (yes, we really do call ourselves that – ask Scott Gleason [twitter] why) was joined by many of our out-of-state SQLSaturday circuit speakers, and even the godfather of SQLSaturday himself, Andy Warren [blog|twitter], was present, rounding out the #SQLfamily dinner.

And Dublin, the last of my SQLSaturday March tour, provided dinner on a barge, which turned out to be much different than what I first envisioned.  The barge wasn’t the large bare-bones steel ship that you see transporting goods or military supplies. This one was a large cabin cruiser-style boat, with a cozy dinner room downstairs, décor in a lavish plum color, and soft lighting. In between courses during the 3-hour canal cruise, we took in the wonderful evening weather from an open upper deck. I’m pretty sure this type of party was a first for a SQLSaturday event.

SQLSaturday #103 Curacao Recap – Planting Seeds

This past weekend, there were two SQLSaturday events: #108 in Redmond and #103 in Curacao. I heard all the “Oh sure, tough choice there” comments, but my plans early on were to be in attendance at the Curacao event.

The original vision for this new role as PASS Community Evangelist was to get to one first-time venue each month to talk to attendees who might not be familiar with PASS. In addition, my being onsite to assist with some logistics and last-minute details at these events helps out the first-time organizers as well. Plus, I can see what areas I need to make sure I’m mentoring on before event day.

This trip was only 3 hours from Miami. I was greeted at the airport by event leader and local PASS chapter leader Roy Ernest [blog|twitter]. Roy went out of his way to not only pick me up, but to also pick up each speaker who came from over from the US. None of us arrived at the same time, so it wasn’t exactly convenient for someone already with so much stress of his approaching event.  SQLSat #103 had three non- local speakers – Bill Pearson [blog|twitter], Rob Volk [blog|twitter], and Tim Radney [blog|twitter] – and two local presenters: Roy and one of his volunteers and co-worker Rohan Joackhim [twitter].

Friday evening’s speaker appreciation dinner was at a great Indian restaurant – one of many in this renovated fort called Rif Fort. From the outside, it looked like a castle, but when you walked in, there were all kinds of restaurants on several levels, all with open seating. You could look out in one direction and see the beautiful crystal-clear, aqua-colored ocean and then look inward around the fort at all the entertainment, from drummers and bands to folks dancing in the open center area. It was really a unique setting; I would say the only downfall was that the band was so loud, it was hard to hear even someone sitting directly across from you.

The event had two tracks, DBA and BI, and was held at the University of the Netherlands Antilles, courtesy of the head instructor, Rinnus Felipa.  It’s always nice to meet those who help make a SQLSaturday happen, and kudos to universities such as this, which offer their venues for free to the IT community. It was obvious that the success of this day was important to Rinnus – he was onsite all day and meticulous about details that the university was responsible for, such as lunch. On the lunch menu was “Steak de Wea,” a local combination of rice and steak covered in a savory sauce, with fresh green beans and salad. It was delicious, and I enjoy trying something local and new to my taste buds. SQLSat #103 didn’t charge attendees for lunch, and the university kept the cost very reasonable (I believe each plate was around $7 per person).

The morning of the event, there were 95 registrants, including those who opted out the week prior. Actual attendance ended up being around 60 – so as typically seen at SQLSaturdays, about a 30%-35% drop-off. The event had only three sponsors: PASS, Redgate, and O’Reilly. But even with the little budget he had to work with, Roy managed to put on a great event for his community. As I talked with attendees during breaks and addressed the group as a whole at the end, many comments rang a common tune – they want to see another SQLSaturday… and most don’t want to wait another year for it (hint, hint, Roy!). As always, I stressed to the attendees that they should work on becoming presenters themselves for the next SQLSaturday event, and they could start sharpening their SQL and presentation skills by speaking at their local user group.

This post would not be complete if I failed to mention another key Curacao volunteer: Surenda Djaoen [twitter], another of Roy’s co-workers and someone he is mentoring to become the new leader of the Curacao SQL Server User Group. With Roy doing so much running around on Friday, and still prepping his own presentation for the big day, Surenda took on a lot of the last-minute details for the SQLSaturday. One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting time to talk with her about running a user group and some tips on growing the local speaker pool. It’s always rewarding to see volunteers’ eyes light up with excitement as their minds start racing with ideas. That’s all it takes – just plant a few seeds, and watch them grow!

Some personal comments and tips on this trip.  Nearly all the hotels are with an ocean view, most have casinos, it is also a port for cruises, so lots of great shopping, snorkeling (which Tim Radney and his son managed to get a couple of trips in while there), and all kinds of great cuisine to choose from.  Like most islands, you just instantly feel relaxed, even with the feeling that there is a nonstop party going on all around you.

Admittedly there was one thing that kept me from completely relaxing and that was the interesting local wild life, a wide variety of lizards. Most know that Florida is covered with lizards, but these were no ordinary lizards folks, we’re talking mega sized lizards, some with double tails (I kid you not, freaky looking!).  The so called small lizards were about 7-8 inches in length, and just like lizards here in Florida, you’d walk down the side walk and they would scurry out of your way, however the lizards on my way to the cafeteria were closer to >12 inches in length and a bright green.  I was jumping my way down that sidewalk, not walking.  Then your next size up after that were the 18 inch and larger, these.  Let me tell you, they don’t have armadillos or possum as road kill, they have iguanas, and yes, I had the unpleasant chance of seeing one on the way to the hotel.  But don’t let the lizards and iguanas deter you from making a visit there, they are all harmless and either run or act like you aren’t even there.

One interesting thing you must see when you go is the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge.  This bridge is supported by 16 floating pontoon boats, it separates the two halves of the city, and swings many times daily to allow ships and large barges access through the harbor.  If this happens when you are ready to cross, a ferry free of charge will transport you to the other side.  Here are some other great pics of this bridge:  http://lazytoad.com/travel/cruise/curacao-Pages/Image6.html  and http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g147278-d148574-r32109942-Queen_Emma_Pontoon_Bridge-Willemstad_Curacao.html .

A couple of benefits for US citizens visiting Curacao, you don’t need a special converter for your electrical items, they take US dollars everywhere including the slot machines, and most everyone speaks very well English.  It was like being home without all the “noise” that comes with day to day life.  I’m already planning a mini-vacation in September for Rodney and me, as he didn’t get to go this time, and it is indeed a great place to escape to for a little romance!

SQLSaturday History Has Been Made! #100 Brazil Recap

If you are part of the SQL Universe, you know that SQLSaturday #100 was held in São Paulo, Brazil, a week ago. I can hardly put into words just how epic this event was and how thrilled I am that I was able to be there to witness not just SQLSat 100, but the very first of these events to take place in Brazil.

Our journey began on Thanksgiving (Rodney luckily had enough SkyMiles to go with me and present), arriving in São Paulo Friday mid-morning.  Including layovers, this trip there was a full 24 hours from when we left Orlando.  We were greeted at the airport by two of the main SQLSaturday event organizers, Felipe Ferreira [blog|twitter] and Laerte Junior Poltronieri [blog|twitter].

Let me tell you, these two gentlemen are my heroes. They have been putting up with my twitter “pushing and prodding” to host a SQLSaturday since about February.  When I saw their official event request come through in July, the very month I began working for PASS, it was like the icing on the cake for me!  I don’t think they really believed at first that a SQLSaturday could happen in Brazil, but these guys, and an energetic, sweetheart of a volunteer, Andressa Martins [blog|twitter], totally brought it!  They had a lot of support from Microsoft Brasil’s João Nunes and Viviane Ribeiro [blog|twitter], as well as expert speakers from all over this large country, several of whom are PASS user group leaders. Right away you could sense that there is a strong SQL community across Brazil, and it was wonderful to see them all supporting each other at this event!

The event had a cap of 300 attendees, which it reached within the first month of being posted. The wait list was over 200 by the day of the event, and around 250 people attended. The event team released 40 from the wait list, but hadn’t forecasted what the drop-off rate would be. They plan to make sure to release more for their next event, good lesson learned for all SQLSat organizers.

Friday evening they held the Speaker Appreciation dinner at a restaurant that was at what looked to be at the bottom level of this large shopping mall.  About half of the speakers were in attendance, which is about average at these events it seems like lately.  Met several SQL tweeps that I’ve been following since this event was announced, Diego Nogare [blog|twitter], Fabiano Neves Amorim [blog|twitter], PASS chapter leaders Dennes Torres De Oliveira [blog|twitter] and Rodrigo Crespi [blog|twitter] (also a huge help as a volunteer on this event), to mention just a few.  (Quite honestly, I was so overwhelmed by all the hugs and cheek kisses that I cannot remember everyone who was there.  Brazilians are quite affectionate people when they greet you.  Something I did not know and not something that you see much of at all in the states). The food was a large display of what I believe to be tapas, much like an American buffet, ONLY, this food was AMAZING!  Everything we had to eat in Brazil was by far the best food I have ever eaten.  I wasn’t really hungry, as we had a very large lunch with Laerte and Felipe at Fogo De Chao.  One of those all you can eat Brazilian BBQ restaurants that I’ve only always heard about but never dared to try (can you say Meat Hangover!), but there was no way I was passing up on tasting the variety of morsels at this dinner.  With the limited amount of time we were in Brazil, I wanted to be sure and experience everything that I possibly could.  The conversations we had were a wide range from documentaries, books, and travels.  Their English is very well spoken, which was encouraging for Rodney, as he was very nervous about presenting the next day to an audience that may not catch all his jokes.  (Oh wait, even folks in the states don’t typically catch onto his obscure humor).  The group talked for hours, arm wrestling matches commencing, much to Rodney’s delight, and we ended up closing out the place to the point they were asking us to leave.

Most all travel was via taxi, and thanks to our hosts, they made sure to get us where we needed to be the entire weekend.  Picking us up bright and early Saturday morning to head to the event venue, Microsoft’s offices which were so kindly donated as part of their sponsorship.  If you don’t know this already, Sao Paulo is the 7th largest city in population.  Buildings as far as you can see even from the roof tops and due to the congestion and sizes, most of the structures are growing vertically.  The MS office was one of these very tall buildings.  The event was held on the 31st floor, so making this not only the first SQLSaturday in Brazil, but at least for me, the highest one!

The event came staffed with Microsoft employees handling the check-in process, while the volunteers filled nice backpacks donated by sponsor Ka Solution with swag. In addition to Ka Solution and PASS, SQLSaturday Brazil sponsors included SolidQ, Mainwork (a Confio partner), RedGate, and SQLSentry. It was nice to see the continued support of these companies for a SQLSaturday outside the US.

The line of registrants quickly grew very long, snaking from the bottom floor (where they were checked through security) up to the 31st floor, and all the way down the hallway, past the elevators. The anticipation of this event and the eagerness to learn some SQL was all over their faces!  Things opened up with a keynote from Microsoft and opening comments from the organizers.  At this point, everything was being spoken in Portuguese, so I had no idea what was being said, other than I could tell when they mentioned that Rodney’s session would be in English (sure glad they made that clear to everyone ahead of time).   They had three tracks totaling 18 sessions.  Met more SQL tweeps, presenters Nilton Pinheiro [blog|twitter] , Thiago Zavaschi [blog|twitter] , presenter and PASS chapter leader,  Luciano Moreira [blog|twitter], and the Brazilian SQL couple (just as adorable in person as they are on twitter), Edvaldo Castro [blog|twitter] and Socorro Vieira [twitter].  Rodney [blog|twitter] had over 30 brave souls in his session on T-SQL Alphabet Soup, and surprisingly many laughs from the audience, luckily they are very familiar with American sitcoms.  They had two coffee breaks with more delicious good eats, and sub sandwich combos for lunch.  (Personal lesson learned on this trip, do not attempt to drink Nespresso by the gallons, like you do coffee in the states.  My head felt like a ping pong match was going on inside!).  The day ended like most SQLSaturdays, sponsor raffles and end of day announcements.  During my spiel on PASS, I queried the crowd on whether they wanted to see more of these events happen in Brazil, and literally before I could get the words out, they were all cheering and clapping profusely.  Needless to say, there are now several conversations going on with leaders and volunteers to host several more SQLSaturdays in Brazil.  It is a very large country, my guess is that it could sustain an easy 4 or 5 of these events there a year.

The after event get together was yet again some of the most amazing food ever and lots of cold beverages, again by the generosity of João Nunes.  Besides all the great conversations, bonus at this venue was entertainment by a “Big Band”, full on with saxophones, trombones, and drums!  The entire ensemble was over a dozen instrumentalists, in a bar!  Just something you don’t see every day, at least not in an equivalent type of place in the states.

The room filled with cheers to the end of a very successful event.  Throughout the day and evening, every other person was thanking us for being there and for PASS’ support in helping to bring this event to Brazil.  It was wonderful to see what standardly happens at all SQLSataurdays, the connections being made and the SQL Community coming even closer together.

There are many links to blogs and pics from this event, here are just a few.  You can find more on the #sqlsat100 hashtag begin tweeted up daily (by far, this event has more tweets post the event than I’ve seen on any other SQLSaturday…the buzz is still going strong there!).

Sunday we were able to get a little bit of site-seeing in before our flight out that evening.  Laerte picked us up at the hotel which had the most amazing view of the city as it was positioned on a small hill, and looked directly across the highway where the MS office building was at.  Some interesting facts that we learned on this trip:

  1. Like any big city, traffic is horrible there, with many accidents every day, so helicopters are being used more and more frequently for people to travel to work daily.  They land right on top of the buildings. They are so frequent, we watched within a ten minute span, five helicopters land on the MS office building alone.  This is not counting the few that landed on the buildings directly next to this one.  One poor guy had to go down in between two of the taller buildings and land on top of a really short building between them.  Definitely entertaining while we drank coffee poolside.  Apparently helicopters are used so much now, that even the traffic in the airways is becoming a problem.
  2. Prior to going, a couple of people made reference to being careful of monkeys stealing our belongings, especially backpacks.  They apparently can just take them right off your back!  Well, folks, sorry to disappoint, but São Paulo is ALL city, no jungle, thus no monkeys! J
  3. Also prior to going, it embarrasses me to even repeat this; we received many warnings to be careful, “don’t get kidnapped”.  Laerte reassured me that we would have nothing to worry about whatsoever, and he personally escorted us most of the time.  On the couple of occasions that we took a taxi without him, and little did we know this until just prior to leaving, Laerte was taking pictures of the cab drivers faces and their license plates.  HAHA!  So…in hindsight of now knowing this, did we REALLY have nothing to worry about?? Hmmm…

Sunday afternoon we took the subway to a popular part of downtown, Paulista Avenue.  Didn’t do any shopping, as that is just not my thing, but did browse through a nearby street market much like a typical festival in Pensacola would look like.  We had lunch on the outside patio of a small restaurant that had quite an enormous beer selection.  Even though not a pizzeria, we ordered what was for me one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten.  I’ll just say LOTS OF GARLIC! YUM!!!

Getting a taxi back to the airport took some doing, and thank goodness Laerte was with us to get this arranged as it was very difficult to find a cab that accepted a credit card, as we definitely did not have enough Reals left on us to pay cash (the airport was nearly an hour away, cost from Paulista was 100 reals, which is only about 55 USD, but we only had about 35 Reals left on us).  The flight back was a bit more direct, only one connection which was Atlanta, so needless to say, a very full flight.  But even with only one connection, the total travel time back was still about 15 hours.  I took the remainder of Monday to sleep (poor Rodney had to go straight into work) and another couple of days to lose my newly adopted broken English that I had grown so fondly of. J

Brazil, we will be back and with more time to actually visit.  I highly recommend a trip there to anyone with the chance to go.  Do know, you will need a Visa, it is the only South American country that requires it, and apply early!  We got our Visas’ the day before we flew out, and I feel certain that we only even got it then because of me calling every single day the week before we were due to leave.  Talk about some serious stress that week!

Thank you to all of the Brazilian SQL Community for your kindness and making us feel so welcome!  SQLSaturday #100 was a success because of all of you!  Keep them coming!  And an extra special thank you to Laerte for taking such good care of us.  We look forward to seeing you again soon my friend!

Hurricane Café n00bs!

You’ve heard of “Second Breakfast”, well here comes “Second Dinner”.  Monday evening post the Networking Dinner being put on by Steve Jones [blog|twitter] and Andy Warren [blog|twitter], Rodney Landrum [blog|twitter] (my hubby if you don’t know by now) and I will be making our way over to the Hurricane Café.  In a nutshell, a cheap, greasy spoon restaurant, with fantastic eats and lots of it.  Especially the hash-browns!  The perfect post-drinking restaurant, although if you aren’t done drinking yet, they actually have a full bar there as well.  It’s the one really bad tradition for us each year the week of PASS Summit, well, outside of drinking at TheTap House every day occasionally that week.  We’ll likely make our way over there around 9:30 from Lowell’s.  Feel free to join us for the stroll over, or meet us there.  Be prepared it is a bit of a walk from Pike Place Market, but you’ll work up a good hunger to devour all the really bad for you delicious good eats!

If you’re certain you’ll want to join us from Lowell’s, send me a tweet (@karlakay22) or email (karlakay22@msn.com), so we’ll be sure to lookout for you before heading over.

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