11 Aug

Warning: this is going to be a grilled cheese post.

I woke up this morning, amazed there is an August 10th.  I mean, I knew there was a full August this year, but for the last two months I haven’t given much thought to any date past August 9th, the date of CodeStock.  I’ve pretty much wasted the whole day – slept in, made a run to Sonic, played Rock Band with Cicelie and the girls and made it through another level in Bad Company.  I figure (hope) many people will blog about CodeStock, so instead of giving the overall picture, I’ll tell you what my day was like.

5:30 am Alarm goes off.

6:15 am I wake up, realizing that somehow I fell back to sleep.  I need to be at Pellissippi by 7am and it’s a 20 minute drive.  The truck isn’t loaded with the 4 boxes of shirts, 3 boxes of bags, 2 boxes of books, and many other boxes of giveaways, and misc. needed items.

6:45 am After an amazing display of speed and strength, Cicelie and I are on the road to Pellissippi with a fully loaded truck.  I even remembered to get dressed.

7:05 am Glenn Zahn and the RecruitWise are already at the Performing Arts Center (PAC), as well as Gabriel (a volunteer).  We unload and begin setting up the registration area.  Catering is setting out juice and coffee, I grab a badly need cup.  This would be my first of 5 cups of coffee that I grab, take one sit, set down somewhere and can’t find it later.

7:30 am Cicelie and Lisa (of RecruitWise) have the registrations down to a science.  I keep trying to help, but I’m just making things worse, so I setup the giveaways on stage.  I’m also getting a question every two minutes, but I’m delegating tasks as much as I can so my constant distractions don’t seem to be a problem.  I have an awesome team of volunteers.  Thanks Cicelie, Jim, Gabriel, Crystal, and the RecruitWise team.

8:05 am At 7:55 it looked like there was about 20 more minutes of registrations – I underestimated how fast Cicelie and Lisa were, because at 8:00 there was no one in the line.  We start only 5 minutes off schedule.

8:20 am My opening over, I hang around the ticket booth.  A number of small issues seem to work themselves out.  Example, Alan needs power strips for Open Spaces, Wally calls on his way in asking if we need anything – so I tell him power strips.  There is something Zen going on, and I’ll not dare question it.

8:40 am Scott Spradlin is here from INETA to film interviews on the “making of” CodeStock.  I help him setup a T-shirt for a back drop, and then do a short interview.  Not thinking of Murphy, I talk about how well planned everything is.

9:00 am The last 20 minutes felt like three hours – that’s the speed difference in the day from the morning registrations.

9:30 am Right on time, attendees are in their first sessions.  I grab my camera to snap photos of the speakers in action.  I fail at getting a shot of Amanda Laucher without her noticing.  I also get flipped of by James Bender.  I have photos to post later.

10:30 am It occurs to me that offering to help Nathan Blevins fill in for Wally McClure’s session has put me in a session right before lunch (also known as the next chance for panic).  I fill Glenn in and ask him to lead setting up a “human chain” to direct people to the cafeteria for lunch.

12:00 pm Session over, it went okay but I’m feeling it sucked hard.  This is mostly because this was an ad hoc session and I’m used to my highly planned sessions.  Having never rehearsed the session together, the handoff’s between Nathan and myself flowed almost as smooth as wet cement.   The content is good however, and we can turn this into a pretty good talk in the future.

12:05 pm I expected to find a long line of people waiting for lunch, and some catering crisis in the kitchen.  What I found was everyone had their lunch and was sitting down eating and having a good time.  This was the best execution of a lunch I’ve ever seen at a community conference – and I had little to do with it.  I grab a box and talk to a few people before going back to the open spaces room to eat.

12:45 pm The open spaces room is attracting a lot of people during the lunch hour.  I get back to the ticket booth and round up 3 other people to hear out to the after party tents so we can setup tables and chairs.

1:05 pm The running track around the pond at Pellissippi is covered in an amazing amount of crap.  All kinds of crap: bird crap, dog crap, duck crap.  I see people running on this track all the time and think to myself if running on crap is as healthy as these people think it is.  I walk beside the track in the grass.

1:10 pm The tents are filled with about 30,000 gnats.  Freaky ones I’ve never seen before – they look like a mosquito but instead of a sucker for a mouth they have two little fuzzy balls.  They don’t bite, but no one would eat a hot dot with these guys around.  They appear not to have come from the pond around the tents, but from the stack of chairs left in the tents.  There are also a few wasp nests under the stairs leading up to the stage.

1:20 pm Glenn and crew will finish setting up the chairs, I’m off to buy an arsenal of anti-gnat weapons of mass destruction.  On the way out I run into John Kellar and Brian Prince.  John organizes DevLink and Brian organizes CodeMash – the two “biggies” in our region.  We joke a bit and then Brian mentions Kentucky Day of .Net is in 3 weeks – both John and I (who will be speakers at the event) are shocked it’s so soon.  Just like I didn’t see past August 9th, John’s not thinking past August 22nd and DevLink.  I’ll call this condition “conference blindness.”

2:45 pm I return with my gnat WMDs and launch a full scale invasion with outdoor foggers and citronella candles.  I also drop 3 wasp nests before I run out of wasp spray (the kind that shoots a stream).  The cans of fogger say they kill wasps, and there are a few wasps that escaped, so I hit them with the fogger.  Do not use a fogger on a wasp unless you really want to piss it off.  Axiom: if it doesn’t kill on contact, don’t use it on a wasp.

3:00 pm I call Cicelie to she if she can send out a few volunteers to watch the tents for an hour or so.  I have 10 citronella candles burning under two tents and I think it’s against fire code to leave them unattended (probably against common sense too).  The band will be there to setup at four, and they can come back to the PAC then.  She finds someone from RecruitWise (whose name I can’t recall) to relieve me.  Update: His name is Eric.

3:30 pm Things are quiet from now until closing – I mostly hang around the registration desk and chat with passing speakers.  Nathan juggles Microsoft stress balls, and I learn Dave Redding called attendees jackasses, one guy an asshole, and gave my ex-wife beer all during his session.  I make note to attend Dave’s sessions in the future.

5:00 pm Closing, and raffle off of the goodies.  I pretty much just rattle off ticket numbers for 30 minutes, and let people choose their prize in a “first come / first choice” fashion.  We picked up so much extra items to raffle off during the day it’s crazy – including a Halo 3 Legendary Box Set (the one with the Master Chief helmet) from Brian Price and Microsoft which went second to the MSDN subscription donated by Wally through Scalable Development.

I had five copies of Petzold’s Turing book to give away, and was amazed at the level of interest among speakers to win the book.  I’m pretty sure one speaker (I won’t name them) stole the book off the stage during the raffle.  There were some speakers opting not to take anything when they won, letting me draw another number, so a swap could have been done instead of theft.  I want to find out the rest of the story – what happened, and was the book really that sought after?  It’s a great book, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a little crazy to think it would cause such a commotion.

Update: Got the whole story, no thefts just some mixups, and the Petzold book was really in demand.  I guess I did a good sales job holding up the title and talking about my review!

5:45 pm Steve Andrews, Cicelie, and I do room checks to make sure nothing is wrong with any of them and clear out trash.  I’m impressed that the rooms need very little cleaning – people took care of the place.  I stop by as Scott is finishing an interview and do a short interview on end of the day thoughts.

6:10 pm I arrive at the CodeStock After Party, slightly late.  My biggest blunder of the day was forgetting to tell everyone there was food (hotdogs, chips, and drinks) at the party.  About 20 people are there, looks like many had left to eat.  Hanover Fist put on a great show, and I got up and sang “Oh Well” by Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac.  I dedicated the song to my MVC brethren.

7:45 pm The band finishes the last song, and people start heading home or to Alan’s “After After” party.  I tell people I plan on getting to Alan’s around 9:30.  I stay behind with Cicelie and my brother Willie to fold up chairs and tables.  I thank the band and drive home.

9:30 pm I’ve been trying to talk myself into going to Alan’s party for the last 30 minutes, but I give in.  Cicelie, my daughters, and I share some ice cream.  I went to bed right after.

  • Gabriel.

    "as well as Gabriel (a volunteer)" …

    *a* volunteer? Don’t you mean *the* volunteer? Pretty sure 100% of the other staff was spouses or recruiters.

  • You did a an amazing job Michael and I’m serioussly impressed with the event. I’m bummed not more people came to the after party. I enjoyed the band and the food 🙂

    You rock!

  • Steve Barbour

    I couldn’t stay for the after party, but the day itself was excellent. Great jobs all around!

    Dave Redding’s talk was good, especially considering we were all in that post lunch coma. I did score a beer myself though. Best schwag ever.

  • Christine Jones

    I think you did a damn fine job with the conference. I had fun and learned more about .Net.

    Have you started planning CodeStock 2009? 🙂