With all the criticism out and people voicing their experiences with last week's fiasco in London it is time for me to pivot and write about the many positive experiences that occurred over the last two weeks.
Atlanta & Connect.tech
I arrive at conferences early just to decompress from the travel and everything to do with the travel process so I usually spend day alone and try to sleep. I always get this feeling of anticipation to see everyone at Connect.tech(CT) like a kid on Christmas Eve.
The usual suspects are always there and it is always good to see them all. I get to meet new people every year and the amount of friends keeps growing with each year I attend/speak. Pratik and Vincent, the organizers, not only do I enjoy seeing them and talking with them, they put on a show.
It is a beautifully choreographed masterclass in how to hold, run, and work an event from a organizers perpsective. From an attendee/speaker perspective? They know how to treat their people. Speakers get swag and a speaker dinner, after-parties, events inbetween and even after the day of speaking is over! They treat their sponsors like gold. I never see a sad face, a mad face, or an unhappy face from a sponsor.
Giveaways after the final keynote and just plain fucking fun. I can't say enough about Pratik and Vincent. They work hard, they know how to run an event.
I have had the fortunate opportunity to speak at CT the past two years about accessibility and this year, the work I am doing in the W3C. These two actually gave me my first live speaking opportunity at CT '21! I can never express my gratitude to them and for giving a 50-year-old guy a platform to share my experience and work.
CT is always a great week to catch up with my family. Jeremy, DeMars, Nerando, Homer (Hank), Mike, JD, Val, Cecelia, and scores of other wonderful people. It's become a family for me, a family that every time I think about it (like now, writing this) I tear up a bit because they support me in my quest to stay sober.
I cannot express how much that means to me. When I'm doing great and in a good headspace or when I am not in a good headspace and thoughts creep in, someone is asking me how I am doing and checking in. That means the world to me. These people I'd jump in front of a moving bus for.
New friends, many new friends and hopefully to see them again. Always finding a commonality when talking. I can never get enough of the friends made at CT.
this was my first international trip in over thirty years. Everything, naturally has changed a lot. Lots of construction but it all seemed so brand new which was part of the excitement of getting back over to England and seeing the city.
I arrived very early. Flew from Atlanta, and got in on Saturday. No one was there for the first couple days and Monday was my day I wanted to head down to Brighton.
I went down with Austin Gil and we met up with Cassie Evans and had a good walkabout Brighton, had lunch at a nice little place along the seaside, and chatted for awhile. Cassie is an absolute delight and showed us around Brighton, we walked around The Lanes and all the interesting shops and places in the area. It was very cool and a terrific experience led by a terrific tour guide.
It was a wonderful time, I enjoyed the banter and the lunch (fish and chips) and Cassie went off to do some work so Austin and I went to of all places, an American diner. Ironic, but they had wifi I could connect to. I needed a lemonade (I can safely say I love the fizzy lemoande they serve over there).
At the diner (and they did a spot-on job with the American diner vibe) had a little snack and sat and I had a meeting I had to hop in on. A couple of folks from the Boagworld Slack, Tristan and Paul, came over to meet up and see me.
Austin left to go back to his hotel so I sat a bit and the three of us talked for a bit, then had another walkabout Brighton. It was great to meet up with some of the BW folks. I was a bit sad I didn't get to meet up with others, but some day there will be another visit.
As soon as everyone started to filter into the area, we met up and we went out to eat, and as always, had fin, great chats, and fun like we always do. Although I have only known most of these people for a couple or three years, it feels like I have known them for a lifetime.
I never before in my life since I was in my twenties, had never had that feeling of friendship and family. It's been a long time, it's still a little new to me, but these folks are special people, good people. I think DeMars is the one I've known the longest and that is around 2019. Damn... someone is cutting up onions in this motherfucker.
Again, I meet up with new people at the speaker dinner and in the speaker lounge during the event. Scott, Daniel, Mark "The Mayor", Hidde, Liran, and a score of others. New friends are always welcome to the people I call "the speaker family". That family is on display as we form in solidarity after the event and we had to voice our opinions.
JD and I have come to the conclusion that we should have skipped the speaker dinner and go see Clutch in Brighton. I kick myself a little still. I'll see the band again live soon. Phoenix does not have a venue where I can sit and enjoy the show though. Or at least they haaven't played at a venue that is very accessible.
After walking around the city, after going by places I haven't seen in over thirty years it brought back a little bit of memories. If you know me, or are a guy like me that has a thirty year span of very hazy memories due to excessive and problematic drinking? Then you'll know that I had to soak it all in with pictures and memories.
It was a lot of cognitive overload, but getting back to the hotel to process allowed me to handle it all.
From walking to Buckingham Palace to riding the Tube and Overground, to gazing up at Big Ben, I soaked in as much as I could because I don't know when I'll be back, but, I hope to be back soon. I loved London. The people were so nice, welcoming, and wonderful wonderful people both in London and in Brighton made this enjoyable.
Wrapping It Up
I've been stewing in the problems that the speaker family has been talking about for the last week and I decided it was time to write the positive. Because there was so much more.
We were there with our friends, our speaker family, our new friends. That's something that always gets a little lost with me after experiencing something bad. Something I have to remember, not to let dictate the time spent in the positive.
The people I met that I am connected with, if you are reading this and we didn't get a chance to chat a lot, just know that I cannot wait to see you at another event hopefully and that I hope we chat soon again. I had a blast, regardless of the negative, and just had to write about the positive.
I hope you got some positive out of this post, our meeting if we met up, and hope you'll share your positive experience at both or either event as well. If so please let me know so I can link it up and let's start a chain of positive blog posts!
Thanks for reading.