It hasn't been 24 hours since I left behind a slew of new and old friends in Seattle, and I already feel – as someone else put it – that I've left summer camp for another long, cold winter. Okay, it's not going to be that bad – I'll soon be heading home to my new wife, and ramping up in my new job. But still, it is weird to be leaving.
PASS brought a lot of things together for me. I got to spend a lot of time in the booth with the SQL Sentry team; I got to spend two days and several evenings with many of my fellow MVPs; and I got a lot of insight into the things that went into (and didn't make it into) the next version of SQL Server. I have posted several blog posts about Denali over the past week, and have several more in progress.
I am now in Vancouver visiting some great friends. The circumstances are not exactly the most spectacular, as several of you at PASS know. But it is still to be visiting and helping them take their minds off more serious issues. Today we were at a Starbucks, and became a part of three conversations with fellow patrons (also waiting for overpriced but tasty drinks) – they weren't deep conversations, just comments and follow-up on the concoctions people come up with ("grande triple caramel latte with extra dribbling"). It reminded me how Canada compares to the United States the way the SQL Server community compares to some other technical communities. In most communities in the United States, the conversations we had at Starbucks would have never taken place. People are too self-absorbed, or too twitter/facebook/blackberry/SMS-absorbed, or remain faithful to the "thou shalt not talk to strangers" commandment handed down from above when they were children. I'm not trying to sugar-coat Canada, but I have only been here for a few hours and I am already reminded how much friendlier people here are in general.
I feel the same way about the SQL Server community – at PASS, over 3,700 people converge on Seattle and just get along. In the halls of the convention center, or the lobby of the Sheraton, or after giving a horrible rendition of a bad song at Bush Garden, you can strike up a conversation with just about anyone about virtually anything.
For the people out there who think there is little value in attending a local user group meeting, a SQL Saturday or a full-blown conference like Connections or PASS, I have news for you: while the online SQL Server community is a fantastic resource, the in-person SQL Server community is an order of magnitude better. My experience at Connections and PASS has renewed my energy for speaking at events around the country – I've already submitted abstracts for SQL Saturday #60 in Cleveland, SQL Saturday #65 in Vancouver, and SQLRally in Orlando. I hope to see many of you at each of these events!