Thursday, September 8, 2011

Catching Up & Looking Ahead

It's been a long, long while since I've updated this blog. I'm the first to admit that I've been wracked with guilt about not posting in quite some time. It does seem that sometime life - and work too! - get in the way.

We've had an exciting and strange summer here in Toronto. It began with the infamous 'heat dome' settling over much of Ontario and the north east... I guess they called it a heat dome because it felt as if we were all passengers in Darth Vader's helmet as he went through extreme cardio training on the desert planet of Tatooine (wow, too much inner nerd coming out to play? Methinks so). We had almost a month of solid 40 degree celcius temperatures almost daily. For our friends in Cary, this might seem like a walk in the park: but for we of the frozen tundra it was a little much to bear.... especially those of us who lacked air conditioning!

Mother Nature threw us another curveball with a brief, mild 10 second earthquake. Originating far south in the state of Virginia, Toronto seems to have been the extreme edge of the tremor zone. We don't get earthquakes often (read, EVER) in Ontario so it was became quite the event around the office. I couldn't help but think that this would be a good lead-in to the VanSUG user group meeting taking place on November 2nd in Vancouver, featuring Jim Metcalf (Director of Analytics) discussing his geological work around measuring the impact of the earlier Japanese earthquake/tsunami on British Columbia. I myself have experienced the earth move once or twice in my visits to San Diego, so it didn't particularly perturb me... but it was a strange feeling on my home soil, to be sure.

Speaking of San Diego, the final massive seismic shift - at least in my life - was that I proposed to my longtime girlfriend... and she happily accepted! I suppose this has been one of the major reasons I haven't been as active blogging as I would like to be: the planning, the nervousness and finally, the release of emotion was truly an emotional rollercoaster. But I'm back in the saddle and highly motivated to share my expectations, my experiences and most of all, my adventures on the road as I continue to support SAS users from coast to coast through the user group program. You can find a full list of the dates of the upcoming meetings here, and I do hope to connect with you in person at one or more!

Another cause for my long-time disappearance from blogging has been the emergence of the SAS Canada Community. This is a great initiative to be involved in for me, as it marries two of my greater passions: the SAS user community and the online world of social media. Over a few years I've been slowly but steadily trying to build support engines for SAS users in as many online places as possible. There's a whole host of user groups on LinkedIn as well as Facebook, and I've had quite the active Twitter stream for quite some time. My feeling around engaging in these spaces is that while it certainly isn't for everyone, there's definitely something for everyone. Confusing? It sure is.

What I mean is that there's so much more than simply exposing your personal and private details to friends, strangers, employers and prospective business partners. If you know how (or are willing to learn) and have the patience and drive to do so, you can actually help create business, grow your own reputation and credibility, and create value for friends and customers alike. The SAS Canada Community certainly helps to address most of these issues. While a work in progress, it's already grown quicker than my expectations. We've had great success in needling, begging and cajoling domestic SAS staff and supporters to share their knowledge with the greater Canadian SAS community. There's a hunger for on-demand, Canadian-centric SAS knowledge out there... and we're quickly growing to support it.

While we still have a ways to go, early signs are that we're on to a good thing here. Social media guru Katie Paine - AKA The Queen of Measurement - recently mentioned to a group of SAS Canada employees that Canadians are almost MORE hungry than our American cousins for the knowledge and networking opportunities which exist through social media: we're just a lot more reluctant to stand up and shout about it online. We're more content to sit back, learn, absorb, and connect when the time is right. I firmly believe that the steady growth of the SAS Canada Community puts the proof to the pudding, so to speak... and I'm excited to see where it takes us next.

But enough rambling for now. I wanted to get back into the swing of blogging, and as these words have flown out of my fingertips I've realized how much I've missed it. Tomorrow, I'll be writing more about the upcoming TASS user group meeting: what to expect, what to anticipate... and a few of my own thoughts as well.

Thanks to those of you who have been patient during this sabbatical from writing... and thanks for obliging me as I've meandered my way through this return to the written page. Look forward to writing more soon.

Until then...

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