Keeping Quiet Busy

March 26th 2014

I spent a lot of time keeping quiet about what I'm working on, but that doesn't mean I'm not busy. 2014 is turning out to be a great year:

Firstly, I'm an organizer for a new Madison based user-group: the Madison Modern Excel User Group. This user group is going to be focused on tools found in Excel 2010 and later that didn't previously exist (Power Pivot, Power Query, Power View, Excel Web Apps, Excel Services): what these tools can do for you, your organization and your career. The group is aimed at Excel power-users, so if you know how to do a VLOOKUP or a SUMIF. This is not an IT user group by any stretch of the imagination. Our first meeting is tonight at the Madison Public Library downtown.

I'm also, as in previous years, on the organizing committee for SQL Saturday Madison 2014. This is our 3rd year in a row running the event, and we have a fantastic schedule lined up, with many MVPs and other SQL-celebrities flying into Wisconsin for us (as well as our home-grown speakers of course). Last year we had about 280 registered attendees - this year we look set to break the 400 mark (although we only have capacity for 350, so sadly some people won't be able to come). Awesome growth thanks to great organizers, volunteers, sponsors and speakers.

Additionally, for the first time this year, SQL Saturday is hosting pre-cons. These are separate training events being held at Globe University on Friday and we have 80+ attendees registered for them - a sell-out success by all accounts. I'll be helping on both Friday and Saturday getting attendees checked-in. On Friday I'll also be the guy responsible for providing coffee, water and soda and for the Saturday event I'm the one who answers questions from attendees (and there are a lot!). I also manage the wait-list and get to write the mass emails that we send out telling people to print their SpeedPASS. (Yes, print it already!)

Then, next week, Megan is going on vacation by herself. Hurrumpf. She'll be off to Seattle and I'll be home with Dexter. We also recently took a big step as a family but I'm keeping quiet on that.

At work, I'm working remote full-time for the first time, which I'm excited about. There's something much more productive about being able to roll out of bed and get a couple of hours of good work done when you'd normally be showering and commuting. (I work best in the morning!).

Finally, I've been an American for over a year now. I have yet to vote on anything, but I have a feeling they'll be more election-fever than I can handle next year. I've spent the last 3 months reading Team of Rivals about President Lincoln. It's a fascinating read, though very slow going for me (I'm only up to March 1861). Two things that have struck me so far: how similar the politics of the age was to modern politics (in terms of Congress and Senators and Representatives and the importance of building consensus), and how pervasive death was in the first half of the 19th century. Back then, people died all the time. They died in childhood from diseases, they died as teenagers from diseases, they died from giving birth. Death was all around them. Of course people die today, but not in the same volume nor at the same young ages that used to be so common. Something else that has changed since the 19th century appears to be how the founding fathers and the constitution are perceived. In the 19th century, America was new and was fighting for survival. Government by the people for the people was seriously revolutionary whereas today it is more of a defacto standard. It's certainly a good read for a new citizen.

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