DrupalCon Chicago + an epiphany

Posted in: 

 I had so many favourite moments the week before last at DrupalCon Chicago, I started jotting down a list so I wouldn't forget them all. Here are some highlights:

  • Witnessing Chris Shattuck meeting Kristof De Jaeger (aka. swentel), finding out that he is the creator of Display Suite, and promptly hugging and thanking him.
  • Getting one-upped on travel tea-drinking by Johan Falk (aka. itangalo). I tote an insulated thermos and tea bags around with me. This fellow brings a pot of loose tea and not one, but two tea infusers.
  • Greg's (aka. heyrocker) tweet about Johan's aforementioned dedication to tea drinking: "I have an idea for a module and I'm so excited about it that I feel I am wasting time getting tea".
  • Hanging out in the Sheraton lobby the weekend before the con with all the keeners. It was just plain awesome.
  • Meeting Rob Loach the Friday before the con (there were about 5 of us who'd arrived by then). I recognized him but wasn't sure who he was. When he told me his name, I had to share the fact that he'd had a blog post on his homepage for a couple years with one of my Flickr photos embedded, making it one of my top viewed photos (thanks to robots?). Turns out he's from Toronto.
  • Witnessing the standing ovation Angie (aka. webchick) got during Dries' keynote for her awesome work on Drupal7. Well earned.
  • The party at the Field Museum was awesome. I almost didn't go, but am so glad I did. Got to catch up with lots of great people, forcefeed Angie some dinner, and see dinosaurs!
  • Dave and Patrick getting super excited nerding out on mapping in the lobby late in the week.

DrupalCon Chicago - Dave and Patrick geeking on maps

  • Did I already say dinosaurs?
  • Catching up with so many favourite Drupallers through the week. You all know who you are, and you are awesome.
  • The Gatorade fairy. I had a stomach ache (what else is new?) the morning of my second talk, and was desperate for some electrolyte-love. I tweeted, asking if anyone had seen any nearby. I later arrived at the room I was speaking in, and there was a Gatorade bottle sitting on the table. My co-presenter Jennifer said that it was dropped off for me. I don't know who you are Gatorade fairy, but thank you so much. Not only did that really help me get through the morning, but it also reinforced how awesome this community is. I felt very supported.
  • Also, I feel like I rocked the public speaking! I did one short talk, and one long one, both co-presenting with Jennifer. Having her there definitely helped me feel at ease, she's such a pro. But I was far more relaxed than I've ever been before doing public speaking. It felt great, and now that I've broken through the fear, I feel like I can work on becoming a more engaging speaker.
  • Trivia Night! OMG it was just awesome. My intended team was late getting back from dinner, so I ended up teaming up with Katherine Senzee, Gabor, and Fox. We held a lead the entire night and ended up winning! But that was just the icing on the cake - it was a reaaaaaally fun gathering, and the questions were challenging and fun. I was even a voice clue (which led to stealth psych-out tactics against the team that was hot on our heels and sitting behind us). Thank you so much to Alan and Stella for planning this! Also, Drupallers make funny team names. Except for tables 9 and 11. You are not funny. ;)

DrupalCon Chicago - VICTORY!

  • The Docs Sprint!!! Holy cow so many people came and wrote docs all day!!!!!! I was super tired and hardly had a voice by then, but I held out the whole day, and helped everyone get rolling and get oriented. It was so great seeing how many people were up for helping out - thank you so much to everyone who came and also to everyone who's continued to work on their issues since the con! Lots of the attendees posted on g.d.o to show their attendance, Drupal karma points to you all! Also, super excited to see the progress and interest in improving the Docs infrastructure, thank you to those who've stepped up to help with that as well!
  • Watching Dries and Sam Boyer create the Drupal 8 development branch, and discussing the development process with a roomfull of passionate core contributors.

DrupalCon Chicago - Dries + Sam branching D8

  • Hanging out with everyone the last evening at the Sheraton and chatting and laughing.
  • Spending two weeks with Bruno (the week of the con and the week after) - awesome is an understatement, and also seeing how stoked he was to get involved in working on Media and Workbench modules.
  • Also the last evening, loved the card game Johan brought out, I have no idea what it was called. My brain functions highly for that kind of stuff when I'm tired (just like I play Tetris better tired), so it was pretty intense and fun.
  • And a final awesome moment of the last evening there, listening to Narayan explain the UID increments and offsets for Drupal.org, and why they're necessary. Everyone was super absorbed in the explanation, and I think I actually sort of understood what he was saying. I hate to use the word, but it was an "epic" geek-out moment.

THANK YOU DRUPALCON ORGANIZERS, IT WAS FANTASTIC!!! I would hazard to say that you really got it right with how to keep the con personal, fun, and interesting amidst the huge growth in numbers of attendees. Thank you, you've totally restored my faith and enthusiasm for the North American cons. 

ps. Yes I realize I said "awesome" far too many times, but it really, truly was!

Finally my epiphany of the week... 

If you read my blog regularly, you'll know anything that requires physical exertion is hard for me. I tire so easily, and take a longer time to recuperate than most people. This conference being right at the hotel was soooo great for me. Sure, it would have been immensely easier if I'd had any cooking facilities, but the energy conservation couldn't be beat. I was glad in the end that Bruno and I decided to stay in the Tower both because of this and how fun it was hanging out in the lobby with everyone during the evenings and weekends.

I exchanged a couple tweets with Theresa Anna after the conference, and realized something. I think part of the reason why I've taken to Drupal so enthusiastically is because, aside from two action packed fun and exhausting weeks a year (plus a few other weekends here and there), most of the involvement is virtual. 

Obvious yes, but I never realized how much that has affected my ability to get involved and excel at this. People remark sometimes that it doesn't seem like my health restricts me much from doing a lot. But in this case, it hardly matters how I'm feeling, I can almost always work and talk to other Drupallers while resting at home. I get to collaborate with people I think are great, learn, and contribute without tiring myself out. 

This might not sound like much to some, but it's been such an amazing opportunity for me, and I'm glad that I have realized how important this is and will continue to be.

Signing off with a dose of #drupallove - see you next time!

Freezing! (crazyhair c/o Chicago wind)