SQLPam's Blog

May 9, 2012

Sad Day

Filed under: Personal thoughts — sqlpam @ 7:24 pm

We knew this day was coming since near the beginning of the year. We said goodbye to Ziggy, our beautiful, deaf cat. We have had him for almost 12 years. He and Ryan grew up together. He was Ryan’s constant companion and sometime play mate. They were often caught playing tag with Ryan having the scars to prove it.

Bobby brought home a spindly white kitten to be the Goober to our black cat – Boog. Boog was highly offended that we brought this upstart into her home. I don’t know that she ever got over it. After seeing his eyes though – he became Ziggy after David Bowie’s character Ziggy Stardust. He had odd eyes – one blue the other golden/green.

Ziggy seemed extra calm – especially considering the loud noises that were going on with a four year old in the house. We had him almost a month when we discovered he was deaf. Boog took off as soon as the lawn mower was started. He only ran with the gust from the blade startled him.

His deafness made it hard to train him. It also seemed to make him grumpy. His would swat anything that irritated him – which was most things. Ryan saw it as a game – so life was pretty good. He stayed indoors, slept in our bed and got big – twenty pounds big.

Over the holidays we noticed what we assumed to be a cyst. By the time the time our schedule allowed for a vet visit – it had grown. By the time surgery could be arranged – his vet said it was too big. We found another vet. Unfortunately, the surgery revealed that it was cancer and our budget did not include room for radiation treatments at 5K a pop.

The growth came back with a vengeance. He was starting to have trouble walking and showing signs of bowel incontinence. Ryan made the call to see the vet today. But as chance would have it – he seemed to be doing much better today. We found that the tumor had ruptured and was oozing out to relieve pressure. After agonizing over the decision, we said goodbye. The vet did not push and showed the patience of a saint.

We will miss him – grumpy Gus that he was. I don’t think he knew he was a cat. He would wait by the door for us and meow loudly to greet us home. I think that is what I will miss most – he was always glad to see us get home -even if it was that he hoped we would feed him something extra. Good bye old friend – you will be missed.

May 2, 2012

Speakers with too many choices

Filed under: Community,SQL Saturday — sqlpam @ 11:39 am

I just got thru reading Eddie Wuerch’s ( B | T ) blog on Cross-Submitting to SQL Saturday Events. I consider myself both a seasoned organizer and speaker when it comes to SQL Saturdays. I do understand both sides of the event very well – which is why I am thrilled every time I am selected to speak. There are choices the organizer has to make and some of them are very difficult.

When selecting sessions, I usually go for a 2 step process. The first step is to narrow down the speakers. This has only been truly painful one year where I had 55 speakers submit and only 42 slots. Sending out the “sorry you were not selected but may be an alternate” emails really hurt. Once I select the speakers, I send an email that they have been selected. If they only submitted one session they know what they are speaking on immediately – otherwise there is a delay. I ask them to commit at this point and only assume the commitment after I receive the response. I had one exception to that – but that won’t be applied next year. In my mind, until there is a 2 way commitment – there is no contract. These speakers are doing this out of the kindness of their hearts at their expense. If I do not get a commitment – they do not go on the schedule and someone else may be added or another speaker gets multiple sessions.

I now know who my speakers are going to be and can organize them into a schedule. My speakers also know – so they can get travel scheduled early enough (hopefully) to get a break on the cost of travel. They may not know what they are speaking on yet – but they know they need to arrange to be here. I now have a little breathing space with the schedule.

This is where the time consuming piece is for me. It is a good thing to have choices but sometimes the number of choices can be overwhelming. As part of the “You have been selected” email, I ask my speakers if they have time constraints on when during the day they can speak. I have a number that need to either leave early in the day or will arrive late in the morning. They are paying for their travel – so whatever it takes works for me. I found this avoids a lot of last minute changes to schedules. I also have a little time to get the local group involved in making some of the choices.

Once the final decisions are made the speaker gets a notification of the session selected. If they need to cancel – I hope and pray they cancel before everything goes to printing. I usually at this point just ask someone already on the schedule to add a session – I usually don’t get complaints about that. Cancelling the day of the event is where I get frustrated. There are legitimate reasons – death in the family, car accident, or travel delays are several that have actually happened. I have had no shows with no notification or inadequate notification – these are issues that place the speaker on a special list for future events. This is not to say they never have a chance at any of my future events – just that a backup will be in place ahead of time if they are selected.

So for me – if a speaker lets me know early in the process – it is not an issue. It would be nice to know which speakers are cross-submitting so that I can be prepared for a back out. But having them back out before the final session selection does not hurt my feelings or my pride. This is about community. If they are backing out of my event for another SQL Saturday – the community is still winning. As long as I know before the schedule is printed – it is no skin off my nose.

Having so many SQL Saturdays that this is becoming an issue for some is not a bad thing. Sometimes it feels like we just need more Saturdays in the year.

 

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