My first PASS conference was in 2003 in Seattle, and PASS had as its SIG challenge a project. The people who showed up were divided up into teams, and were given a project that had a Dev, a DBA and a BI component, and had to have the project completed by Friday noon. We weren't allowed access to the project room during conference session times, but were allowed in from 6:30am to 11ish pm each day. My team consisted of four DBA's - myself, Johan Bijnens from Belgium, Morten Baden Rohde from Denmark, and James Loesch from California. We didn't win the competition, but Johan, Morten and I get together every year at the PASS conference. (Not sure whatever happened to James.)
The most entertaining stories came from the 2006 PASS conference, also in Seattle, where I had my first opportunity to speak at PASS. The dirty stories Joe Celko told in the Speaker's Lounge were hilarious - he truly has a gift in that sense. Gert Drapers also related to us the story behind xp_smtp_sendmail and how it was originally supposed to be included in an update to SQL Server 2000, but because it wasn't able to receive mail, it was axed, so Gert put it out on his own website - I truly made use of that tool.
Also in 2006 I'd brought a young developer (John Sobolewski) to the conference and introduced him to Johan and Morten, and we went out one night to the variety of vendor parties. Well, he and Morten ended up walking around downtown Seattle until 5am talking. I'd wondered where he was when he didn't show up for breakfast the next day. :-)
The 2004 PASS Conference in Orlando was the first where I'd paid for the pre-conference sessions. That was also the year that Hurricane Jeanne came through. (I remember the name because it was the same spelling as my mother-in-law's name.) Our flight from Cleveland was cancelled on Sunday, and they couldn't get us out until Tuesday, so another developer buddy (Joe Kuemerle) and I rented a car and drove. We got as far as Florence, South Carolina that first day and stopped for the night. On Monday morning we hit the road again and got hit by the hurricane as we drove through southern South Carolina and into Georgia. It was scary at times but we made it to Orlando on Monday afternoon. The Monday pre-conf sessions had been cancelled but we were there for the Tuesday sessions. (The other funny thing was that the Gaylord was hosting some nursing home residents because of the storm, so for the first couple of days every time I went in or out of my room, the guy across the hall would open his door and peek at me from behind the door, then close it again as soon as I'd look at him.)
The 2005 PASS conference in Dallas was uneventful except I found it amazing that I had to wear sweatshirts in the conference rooms because they had the air conditioning up so high, yet it was in the 90's outside.
In 2007 I was at the PASS conference for my first time as a SQL Server MVP, and that was an amazing experience, both from meeting and getting to know the people who'd helped me get to where I was through their writing in books, magazines and web sites. I helped Louis Davidson with the SIG Challenge Jeopardy game, which was a real hoot. The bowling party was crazy fun, and the final evening dinner where Itzik Ben-Gan stumped us all with his puzzles will always be a fond memory.
Tags: Kalen Delaney, Paul Nielsen, Louis Davidson and Lara Rubbelke!
Thanks for the tag and the kind words, Kevin. The next "fermented beverage" is on me.