We had such a great weekend in Vancouver for SQL Saturday I just had to write. By the way, if you haven’t gone to a SQL Saturday, let me just say it’s fun, you learn a lot, and it’s free.
Getting there was a challenge. Although we left early on Friday, from Everett to Bellingham it was like a hurricane — tall pine trees bowing and creaking, and freezing temps. Past Surrey the winds died down but we were in for a new treat: Vancouver rush-hour traffic. I thought I was being clever by planning to arrive between 3 and 4, but in fact they switch the traffic lanes just around 3, to allow people to get out of Vancouver. As a result, if you are coming in after 3, you are tearing along at around 100kph, see the lane light flash yellow, then red, upon which traffic comes to a screeching halt as 3 major highways (ferries, TransCanada Hwy 1, and 99 from border) are routed into a single lane.
It was pretty entertaining – all kinds of people were of course trying trying to squeeze ahead even a car’s length or two by driving on the shoulder, but a lady in a Porsche just ahead of us managed to swerve her little sports car back and forth across three lanes, dealing disappointment to line-cutters. We were extremely impressed by her moxie as we trailed her for 2 hours.
We still got to the hotel just in time to see the best sunset ever. I had booked a room at the Coast Plaza Hotel on Denham, an easy walk to Stanley Park and totally dog-friendly. Vaguely guilty that Satoshi would be stuck watching the dogs, I had splurged and signed up for a jacuzzi room on a high floor.
Alors! (trying to be Canadian here..) when we got there, it turns out dogs are not a good fit with jacuzzi rooms. (One can imagine what a Labrador would do with a private pool so close at hand…) So they gave us the honeymoon suite at the same price — which is a corner suite on the 27th floor. We had floor to ceiling, jaw-dropping views of mountains on one side, bay to the other. Satoshi is a notorious cheapskate but on this occasion he was happy to have the premium room.
It was hard to tear ourselves away from the view, but the dogs insisted, so we strolled around the park and got them really tired. Satoshi got to repeat the exercise four times the next day on his own, maneuvering three dogs up and down the elevators. Lick of course was freaked out by the elevator and would try to dart out just as the doors closed, or Rolo would wave his tail right into the sensor, causing the elevator door to do that stuttering thing as Satoshi frantically jabbed at the Close Door button, hoping to forestall people from joining him. (Though most people took one look and waited. Once outside the dogs would charge off at full speed in every direction. Since it snowed overnight, there was a nice coating of ice on all the sidewalks making control of the three-way team a reall challenge. I was rather amazed to get back from the conference and find Satoshi in one piece. He sure got a workout.
The conference was fun and informative: I went to two BI talks on SSIS data flow and flat file processing by John Welch, and one very nice intro to Tableau. Then there was a great lunchtime session that included a panel on women in IT, and a demo of SQL Azure. Last for the day was Kendra Little on the vagaries of date-time data types. An amazingly fun session, and though she had clever slides, she was not fazed when the breakers for the room tripped, leaving the projector dark. Now that’s a well-prepared presenter! Great blog too.
Our only regret was that the overnight snowfall discouraged us from trying to visit Aberdeen Center for Chinese food, but it’s a good excuse to go back again. Thanks Vancouver for a great time!