So right now I /should/ be in Las Vegas with Sam at a five star hotel... but instead I'm still in Vancouver and Sam's in Vegas by herself. We're going to Vegas with a few friends this weekend and me and Sam wanted to go down a bit early to have a night to ourselves. We drove down to Bellingham last night to stay in a hotel so we didn't have to stress about the flight the next morning (way cheaper to fly out of Bellingham). While we made it out of bellingham, we didn't both make it out as planned :)...
I've been pretty quiet online lately, and was even asked the other day if my camera was broken since I hadn't posted any photos for so long! Well, fortunately my camera /isn't/ broken, and Sammy bought me a new one for my birthday!!! (the S95 for those who are curious :) ).
The past few months have been pretty hectic and in fact it's been quite an insane year for me (and I think probably Sam as well :) ). Reflecting on the past year, I thought I'd just post a few of the cool things that have happened:
The year actually started out with me flying in a tiny little airplane. Sam's sisters boyfriend Nick took me up while he was doing training. Really quite an unforgettable experience! :)
A month later Sam and I took a weekend away to an amazing "lodge" where she "reverse" proposed to me and we got engaged! The whole weekend was amazing beyond words.
I flew back to Vancouver only days after our engagement for the Olympics and got to watch the Mens curling team take gold! :)
I was only in Vancouver for a month, before flying back to South Africa with Scott Mac and we did three week road trip from Kruger park to Cape town to Sodwana bay, almost completely circling the country (we really only missed the north west corner). Along the way we saw tons of wild animals, wine tasted in the cape, went great white shark cage diving (where I spent most of the time sea sick over the side of the boat), rode ostriches(!?), went scuba diving, and ended the trip by attended a friends wedding. Some of the driving through rural South Africa is pretty insane, and you really do feel like you're in "Africa". Fortunately out of sheer coincidence Scott Mac was driving through almost ALL of the crazier sections of the road, so Sam and I were able to sit back and just hope we survived.
Shortly after Scott left, Sam and I started apartment hunting in Cape town. We put in four offers in two weeks and our last offer was accepted! We bought our own apartment in Cape town!! w00t! We started doing reno's on it immediately, and as many of you already know we had quite some troubles with our builder. We ultimately had to fire him and mostly start over getting things fixed that he'd essentially broken. We weren't able to 100% complete the reno's before we left in August, but it was done enough that we could have friends and family stay there while we were away.
Our apartment is located only a few blocks from the Cape town soccer stadium and the FIFA world cup started only days after we moved in! The vibe was super amazing. The vuvuzela's (pronounced voo-voo-zella) were a little tedious at times ;).
We flew out to Europe in mid-august for Drupalcon and did a quick trip through a few big european cities (Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, and Paris).
When we got back to Canada, we almost immediately left for a road trip across Canada with me dad in the motorhome! We stayed at my brothers farm in new brunswick for about 3 weeks or so until just after thanksgiving.
We then settled down into Vancouver for a few months and Sam experienced her first "real" snowfall ever! Which she celebrated by face planting herself in a pile of snow. We spent Christmas in Vernon and now we're here!
Through all of this we were also quite busy getting our business wedful.com ready to launch. Which it now finally is!
So ya, it was a fun year to say the least! We got to spend time with so many of our awesome friends too which unfortunately is one of the toughest things for us when moving around so much.
We've got tons of plans already for the new year, and I'm sure it's going to be just as wild as 2010 :). But if all goes to plan, we should have a bit of a slow down in 2012 which should be nice ;-).
We left for the farm last Monday and if all goes well we've got only one more day of travel before we arrive on the farm. For those who don't know this already, my brother and a few of his friends decided (mostly on a whim ;-) ) to move out to the east coast and start an organic farm. This is their fourth season on the farm (correct me if I'm wrong, Mike) and they're still going strong. But always happy to have some extra hands out there, so we like to come out every once and a while and pull some weeds and eat their food ;-).
With Drupalcon Copenhagen now behind us and Drupalcon Chicago approaching, I've found myself thinking about what Drupalcon is and how it's changing.
My first Drupalcon was in Barcelona, I was lucky enough to get to tag along with theguysfromBryght. I had an absolutely amazing time and met dozens of people, many of whom are now quite close friends. To top it off I also met my now fiancee and a future boss (no longer my boss, but still a good friend).
Since then, the twice yearly Drupalcons have consistently been highlights in my year. It's often the only time I get to see many of my friends in person.
Drupalcon is not a conference. At least not in the traditional sense. It's a time where some of the smartest people in the community get together, work on code, figure out problems, and teach each other what they know. It differs from a traditional conference in that there are no paid speakers and it doesn't come with a $2000+ price tag. In addition almost everyone attending is also a participant, whether they're there to hack code, present, contribute to BoF's, etc., everyone at Drupalcon makes it what it is.
Or I should say Drupalcon was that.
Since the first Drupalcon in Antwerp (correct me if I'm wrong), the number of people in attendance has almost consistently doubled every time. With 3000+ people at DCSF and a planned 4000+ attending Drupalcon Chicago, maintaining the personal feel that Drupalcons have traditionally had is simply no longer sustainable and I don't believe possible.
A few of the signs that lead me to believe this are:
* One of the stated goals of DC Chicago in the opening keynote at Copenhagen was to make it the "biggest" Drupalcon ever. I recall in Barcelona the goal was "Best Drupalcon Ever!". Biggest is still a great goal, but it doesn't say anything of the quality of the con, nor if people will enjoy it or not.
* At the end of each conference, traditionally the final keynote includes a slideshow of flickr photos from the conference. This to me is a reminder that the conference was about the attendees. It's an important reminder that the conference isn't so much about the sessions and learning, as it is about the experience of having everyone there in one place at one time. This was absent from this years closing keynote. In fact, this years closing keynote seemed more like the season finale of a reality TV show, than the closing keynote of a Drupalcon.
* DC Chicago will select a set of more "well known" speakers prior to opening up the session proposals and voting to the public. While this is actually quite beneficial to people who need to convince their companies to let them attend it is a big change (possibly the biggest in my eyes) to the way Drupalcons are traditionally a bit more open for anyone in the community to present their ideas. I see this ultimately heading down the road of having the conference organizers select all the speakers, and possibly even moving to the paid speaker and expensive conference price tag model. When the vast majority of the attendees shifts from Drupal contributors to people trying to learn what Drupal is and how it can fit into their company, this is really only natural.
* Lastly, Drupalcons are now being planned multiple years in advance. This is quite different from the planning that normally occurs one Drupalcon in advance.
None of these changes are necessarily bad things, they're just a sign that times are changing.
For me personally, I think Drupalcon will soon no longer be something I look forward to and anticipate, but instead something I go to out of obligation for the work I do.
This doesn't mean I'm not still super excited about the community and new things that are happening in Drupal, but instead that it's time to redirect my energy elsewhere. I think the stuff I'm really gonna be excited about in the future will be the local Drupal camps, and things like the upcoming PNW Drupal Summit (which unfortunately I'll be missing :( ). Also, I think there will be some very cool community stuff happening in new areas with Drupalcon like conferences happening in Asia, South America, and Africa.
The most important aspect of Drupal is the community. It's sad to think that Drupalcons are leaving that behind a bit, but I also don't think there's any other way it can go.
With that said, I had an amazing time in Copenhagen. There were a few issues (as there always are) but overall the conference organizers did a great job putting it together and I thought the sessions had a very good balance from intro to advanced. And I'm definitely looking forward to seeing everyone in Chicago :).
I've been thinking a lot lately about the idea of trust. What it means to trust someone or for someone to trust you, trust in new/foreign situations, and most importantly the risks associated with trusting or not trusting. Over the past two years or so of traveling Sam and I have been confronted with a lot of unfamiliar situations and unfamiliar people. Fortunately, both of us have a very good eye for spotting bad situations and if one of us misses something that's potentially off usually the other will catch it.
We've been lucky to have really only been "screwed", taken advantage of, conned, whatever you wanna call it, by only three people in the past two years. The most recent situation was the worst by far in terms of the stress and money involved and I suppose it's the reason I've been thinking more about this now.