I'm sipping my morning coffee and preparing for my last truly big push of the user group season... and boy oh boy, it's a big one. In just a few hours time I'm headed off to beautiful British Columbia for the Victoria (SUAVe) and Vancouver (VANSUG) user group meetings. It's always a real pleasure for me to head to the left coast and spend time with two truly tremendous executive committees. This time, they've managed to dazzle me once again; even before the meetings themselves take place!
In the spirit of growing and connecting the SAS community in British Columbia, several of the executive committee members have committed to an 'executive exchange' of sorts. Nate Derby and Colleen McGahan of VANSUG will be travelling to Victoria to deliver two technical presentations and then Cheryl Sivertson and Mike Atkinson of the SUAVe executive will repay the favour the following day in Vancouver. This spirit of collaboration is fundamental to the success of my desire to further grow and connect the network of SAS users, especially here in Canada. While executives sometimes do take part in this type of travel, this situation is a 'first' I believe: I can't recall ever seeing members support each others groups in such numbers and with such fervor.... awith pologies to all the groups in the Greater Toronto Area, of course, who have geography on their side and are able to pick and choose where to go much more easily!
I've previously mentioned how I feel very lucky in my role here at SAS. Not only do I get to travel this beautiful country but I get to meet many of the wonderful people who inhabit it. From Halifax to Whitehorse, there are tremendous SAS users everywhere. I must admit, however, that the BC groups never let me down in terms of connecting with SAS users, learning new SAS tricks and, critically, laughing. Yes, we have fun together: a lot of fun. Remind me to tell you all the story of 'The Big Cookie' incident in Victoria at a previous meeting sometime: the Cole's notes version is that I was (almost) bested by an enormous virtually-raw cookie the size of a dinner plate, with both executive committee members and the kitchen staff taking bets on when I would give up. I could also tell you about the time that 6 of us gathered around a tiny table at the trendy restaurant Guu in Vancouver, eating tiny plates of food and drinking large saké-flavoured mojitos until our laughter was the only thing you could hear in the otherwise noisy restaurant.
I could also tell you tales of incredibly dynamic and engaged meetings. I've seen the SUAVe group erupt into fierce - yet friendly - debate around the virtues of a variety SAS programming techniques in the 'Solution To the Posed Problem' element of their meetings... and I've grinned in Vancouver as Colleen McGahan tells the 75+ attendees the rules of their famous ice-breakers: an extremely effective technique for bringing together strangers into the common bonds of SAS-founded friendship. I have no doubt that the next two days meetings will be just as amazing. If you're in the area and can attend, please do use the registration links found on the websites I've linked above: I'd love to see you!
Two more quick notes from me before I scramble to complete my packing. First, my colleague - and SAS rookie! - Kerry Blanchard will be headed to Ottawa for their massive user group meetings on Wednesday. She'll be 'guest posting' her experiences and impressions shortly after that, so do stay tuned! There's truly no rest for the wicked (or for me either! ;) ): I land back in Toronto around 11:30pm on Wednesday, my head touches the pillow for a few minutes, and I'm off to help with the Health User Group in Toronto on Thursday, November 18th. I hope that Kerry or I will see you at one of the four meetings this month!
Time to fly, so I'll say so long for now. Here's hoping you all have a fantastic week and I'm looking forward to posting lots over the next few days... now, where's my passport?