How to organize a conference in your home town, and then not attend!
So last weekend (January 14th specifically) was the 4th Orlando Perl Workshop aka “Perl Oasis”. From the feedback I’ve seen people generally had an excellent time. Which is good because I missed most of it.
Friday I taught the Moose course to four excellent students, afterwards we had a wonderful welcome party that started in the foyer of the conference area and eventually moved up to the Hospitality Suite that we’d booked for the weekend. People contributed money towards ordering Pizza and Drinks, and everyone hung out until around 2am. Or at least thats when I went to bed. Unfortunately the sleep wasn’t to last long.
About 4am my phone rang. I hung up. It rang again and woke me up enough to notice it was my mother-in-law calling. She was the grandparent we had left my son with1, and if she was calling it probably was important. During the night our son Eoin had started having breathing issues and had woken them up coughing and wheezing. He’d reached the point in the night where needed to go to the ER.
Since my wife, Jamie, had partaken a bit more heavily of some of the adult beverages than she’d intended2, I was the one sober enough at 4am to drive across town to the hospital.
My son has had breathing issues since he was born premature. It has been in fact the only lasting effect of the time he spent in the hospital after he was born. So the time I spent on saturday sitting in an ER waiting for his O2 levels to rise to acceptable levels was not unfamiliar. My wife on the other hand woke up to being the lead organizer for a Perl Conference.
When my wife showed up at the conference venue (happily downstairs from the hotel rooms!) she’d discovered there had been a mis-communication between the staff and the kitchen and the buffet we thought was to be served in the conference foyer was instead being served in the restaurant … and involved coupons we never received and couldn’t give to attendees. Recovering from this only pushed the conference start times back 30 minutes.
The amazing Mark Keating stepped in and helped organize things. This was familiar to him as he’d only just finished being lead organizer for the London Perl Workshop. Between him and Jamie they managed to get talks going and run things until 3pm when my son had been formally admitted to a hospital for observation and I could return to the hotel and switch off with Jamie.
I arrived in time to hang out a little bit before the lightning talks started. Mark again stepped up and provided introductions to the Lighting Talks, and I got to watch several excellent and enthralling talks. This was only a slight problem as I was supposed to be timing the talks and giving notice when they were getting short on time. I got so wrapped up in a few talks I was late giving the notice and a few of them almost ran over.
After the lightning talks came Cory Watson’s Keynote. I’d asked Cory to give it last year knowing I wouldn’t have to worry about it again. I was proven exactly right, Cory knocked it out of the park. I’d been approached afterwards by people who were absolutely not technical people who told me that the talk was excellent. Hopefully he has a chance to give it again this year at other events! (If you’re an organizer this is a blatant hint.)
So Perl Oasis 2012 turned out to be a success, despite the organizers hectic lives. We had 30 attendees from at least three continents again3, we had 18 talks over two and a half tracks, and we had 3 excellent sponsors:
My wife and I were so busy this fall that we came into this event thinking that perhaps it would be our last. We both had so much fun at the event, despite everything else going on in our lives, that we’re ready to go again next year. Mark Keating has even started recruiting volunteers to help us organize it again.
We operate under a divide and conquer policy with the kids. The girl went with one grandmother, the son with the other. That way they can’t team up on either of them. ↩
I honestly blame Ella for the Absinthe. That stuff is evil. And, despite Casey West’s efforts to regulate her intake, Jamie (who rarely drinks) over did it. “I kept trying to give her less and she kept noticing.” – cwest. ↩