This year I was really looking forward to going to the PASS Summit. It's worth every penny in the knowledge you'll gain and the networking opportunities you'll encounter. You know, a lot hasn't been said on the later, but let me throw my two cents worth in here (since we're talking about pennies). The friends I have made and the relationships I have expanded on through the one PASS Summit I was able to attend have been extremely rewarding to me personally. I tweeted about how I consider a few folks my unofficial mentors in Steve Jones and Andy Warren. Being able to meet them and really get to know them at the PASS Summit was the main highlight of that conference for me. It's where I learned a lot more about them personally, where they come from, what their backgrounds are, and that time spent, along with other opportunities over the years, has been the reason I so value their wisdom and advice. But I've met and built relationships with other folks, too, through that conference and you know, if you were to sum up the hours I've spent talking, trading emails, getting technical advice, bouncing ideas, etc. off at a regular consultant's bill rate, I've come out way ahead. It's not about bill rates for me, don't get me wrong. But a lot of folks are not going to be able sell their manager on "relationships" in a lot of cases. So we need to take something that business uses. So if we're talking about something business can use to understand the benefits of sending its people, that's money. If I added up the bill rate for all those "consulting" hours that no one paid for versus what it costs to go to one conference, travel and accomodations included, business comes out incredibly ahead. Maybe that's another way to approach asking to go to the Summit or any other major conference like TechEd.
So back to what I was saying, I was looking forward to going to the Summit. There are a lot of folks I want to meet in person. There's a lot of stuff I want to learn about. This year was the first year I had a topic selected. And I'm a SQL Server MVP this year, and while I hope I'll be renewed come January, I know that's not a given. Plus, the recent PASS elections and some comments made by folks I respect (Andy Kelly, Adam Machanic, to name two) have made me realize that there PASS is a community and it's a professional organization, but it needs cash flow, too. So I wanted to talk to folks and see how I might help in that regard. Being a gopher and making phone calls and sending emails is something I can do, even if I don't have the business background of some folks. It's a way I can contribute to help PASS get better. And I figured the Summit was a good way to talk face-to-face with the right folks. So there were a lot of things saying, "Go west, young man!" But ultimately, it's about choices and priorities. I blogged about how I was impressed with a statement Brian Moran made. Here's his statement again:
"I’ve learned over the years that there are a lot of things that I can delegate to other people. I can’t delegate being a good husband or father. I prioritize those jobs on a daily basis even when I’m super busy with other professional responsibilities."
I'm of the same mindset. I can't delegate being a proper husband and father. I also won't abdicate or shirk those roles. Yesterday, when my wife and I went for our 20 week ultrasound, they noticed twins. Yeah, we were shocked. So were the nurse and doctor. Nothing previously had indicated twins, including the initial ultrasound and some of the screenings that have been done. As they examined using ultrasound, they could only see one placenta (which likely means identical twins). So that kicked us into "high risk" and we've got a referral working to doctors at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. I make fun of USC all the time due to their repeated futility in college sports, but their high risk pregnancy docs are great. I know, because the previous pregnancy we had to see them for a different matter (which has repeated itself in this pregnancy). The referral appointment may reveal that there are two placentas. And we drop back out of high risk. But it may also mean additional tests and checks, because they weren't able to get all the things they wanted to get on baby B (who was starting a trend of being uncooperative with the doctors... repeating the behavior of our 4 year-old daughter) even though what they were able to get on both, everything looks good. At this point we just don't know. The referral appointment should come in the next week or so, but most likely during the week of the Summit.
So as disappointed as I am, it wasn't a very hard decision as to what to do. I had already thought of this back in June because of a question Brad McGehee asked with regards to SQL Connections, when they were no emotions and no concerns and I could think through it in a coldly logical fashion (like Lori Edwards does). But even without that prior question, we're talking family. We're talking my wife. And that makes it a no-brainer of a choice. I've talked about my faith and that will always be first. But she's next on the pecking list. In fact, my faith says that had better be the way it is in my life. So while I will lament the fact that I can't be at the Summit this year, I won't lose any sleep over making this decision. For those who were looking to meet me, the couple of you out there, I hope we'll meet at other venues soon.