In my early IT career, I was the archetypal desk-bound DBA, confined largely to an office cubicle, with the occasional treat of a trip out to our offsite storage facility. However, in the last 10 years I've been fortunate enough to spread my wings more widely, visiting SQL conferences, and occasionally presenting, in various far-flung parts of the USA, as well as the Wider World, including such countries as Brazil, Spain, UK, and Norway.
Often, having visited a place where the culture is different and exciting, the landscape is stunning, the beer and food is good, and where all of these experiences have been enhanced by the welcoming warmth and friendliness of the local SQL community, I find myself wondering "could this be home?" Could this be a new place where I could put down stakes (assuming the consent of my lovely wife, who has 50% ownership in those stakes)?
Currently, I live and work in the happiest place on Earth and may choose to stay here. However, since I now work from home, and so "home" could in theory at least be anywhere, I like to reflect on such possibilities. I've learned SQL in many wonderful places. I've loved the hustle of New York, Boston and Paris, admired the Southern charm of Savannah, marveled at the majestic sweep of the Colorado Mountains, sampled exquisite seafood in Barcelona, been immersed in the history and learning of Cambridge, dropped my jaw in awe at the stunning scenery and $12 beers of Oslo.
All fine places for sure, although often there are personal factors that would make me hesitate to commit to actually living and working there, such as climate – I rule out anywhere subjected to prolonged snowfall, or to the kind of cold that requires 5 layers of woolen underwear – or cost of living.
Inevitably, my musings usually lead me back to where I am now, Orlando, Florida. It absolutely never snows here. We are a short drive to Tampa and Daytona so can, in one day if we're feeling adventurous, enjoy both the vistas and seafood of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. For history, we have St Augustine, only 2 hours away, the oldest settlement in the United States. And on top of all this, we have one of the most active and thriving SQL communities in the US.
So, the next time you have a spare long weekend and an inclination to travel and learn, I encourage you to come to one of our many SQL community events. Such travel enhances our minds with more than just SQL. It exposes us to new cultures, people and possibilities. Even though my travels have left me with the realization that I am home already, for the time being at least, I've loved learning new SQL, while seeing new lands and meeting new people, and have very fond memories from many different places. I would not trade those experiences for anything, and as we embark on 2015, I raise a glass in anticipation of new travel and learning to come, and in appreciation of all of the kind hospitality I've received over my past 10 years from the SQL community, in various parts of the World. Share with us your thoughts on the places you've especially loved learning SQL, and why.
Rodney Landrum (Guest Editor).