Murphy (of Murphy’s Law fame) was in attendance at my Lightning Talk presentation earlier today. First, I followed an outstanding and precedent-setting performance by Rob Farley (Blog | @rob_farley | SQLPeople) accompanied by Buck Woody (Blog | @buckwoody | SQLPeople). They presented an original song about query tuning written by Rob. It was phenomenal!
I was the next speaker.
I put a lot of work into this five-minute presentation. First, Lori Edwards (Blog | @loriedwards | SQLPeople) – organizer of Lightning Talks at this year’s Summit – granted permission to turn in my PowerPoint slide deck beyond the deadline once I explained my plan. What was my plan? I’m glad you asked. My plan was to create a presentation called Some Thoughts on Community, and to tweet the topics of my slides throughout the first half of the Summit using the hash tag "#Community_is”. I also wanted to capture pictures of people attending the PASS Summit to support these slides. I carried my point-and-shoot Canon camera in my pocket for three days, capturing the photos that would support the tweets. I stayed up late last night assembling the PowerPoint deck; submitting it at 12:30 AM this morning. It was a lot of work, but it was also going to be a presentation that balanced the heartfelt and humorous.
Did I mention Rob and Buck had just finished an awesome presentation and song?
I clip on the microphone and walk up on stage in Room 201. As soon as I’m about ready to begin, the mic unclips and hits the stage floor while turned on. THUMP. I pick it up and as I’m standing to clip it back on, I hit the back of my head against the low ceiling in 201. THUMP (#2). It gets worse. I hit my head right on my bald spot. No cushion. Scalp meets wall. The entire audience moaned in sympathy. They felt my pain.
I opened the presentation and saw an error I’ve never seen before. The message box said something about corruption and offered two alternatives: Repair and Close. I had five minutes to complete the talk. I clicked Repair. My presentation loaded and I pressed the F5 key to start the deck. I saw about the top 20% of the first picture on the first slide. None of my other pictures appeared. Not one. The options that crossed my dazed mind were (in order):
- Step off the stage.
- Step off the stage and walk out of the room.
- Step off the stage and run out of the room screaming like a little girl.
- Deliver what you can.
I opted for option four. I tried to explain some of the pictures as I walked through the slides with a headache. I don’t remember all I said – it will be on the recording. I did my level best to express my beliefs in community – especially in those assembled to hear the Lightning Talks. Friends were encouraging afterwards, and I appreciate that.
Everyone has bad days or bad times during a day. It was my turn. I was due. I once heard someone speak about being compelled to deliver what you can. Paraphrasing, they said something like this:
If I am compelled to travel from Virginia to California, I will begin searching for the earliest flight to California. If I cannot afford the flight, I will get into my car and begin driving west. If the car isn’t working, I will begin running to California. If I can’t run I will walk; and if I can’t walk I will crawl; and if I can’t crawl I will stand and fall in the direction of California.
Sometimes it’s about doing your best, whatever your best happens to be at the time. As it turned out, I could not have demonstrated what I mean by Community better by anything I could have said or put on a PowerPoint slide. The community supported me, sympathizing with my self-inflicted head-knock; and applauding when I was done.
To quote one theme of the PASS Summit 2011: This is community.
PS – Many thanks to Allen Kinsel (Blog | @sqlinsaneo) for encouraging me to blog about this.