Sitting on the flight back from this week's fifth Irish Lotus User Group meeting, I can't help but feeling frustrated.

Why?  I'm frustrated....

  • ...that only 200-ish customers and partners had the opportunity to attend a first class conference, with some of the best speakers in the industry covering timely and useful topics
  • ...that we don't have more opportunities to take a labfull of talented engineers from Dublin straight to customers, because the hands-on labs and ask-the-experts tables were easily worth the price of admission alone.  (Oh wait, it's a free conference!)
  • ...that I couldn't get to Belfast in time for the conference opening session on Wednesday; when we first talked about doing it in Belfast, Ryanair was still operating there, and the flight connections looked a whole lot better then than they actually were now.  Two airports and still the connections to get there took six hours or more for those coming from Germany, Belgium, Israel, Italy, Malta, and other points east and south.
  • ...that someone I've never met before figured out my secret to success...telling me on the way out of my Notes/Domino strategy session, "Thanks for the honesty".  I wouldn't have it any other way.
  • ...that I missed most of the non-business sessions -- Steve McDonagh's history of Ireland, Warren Elsmore's LEGO demonstration, and the sight of 200 geeks singing "Happy Birthday" to Kathy Brown (though I did see the after-effects).
  • ...that even with a small conference, I still didn't get to talk with everyone.  I feel this way leaving Lotusphere, too.  I'm told that some read my inability to engage in long conversations with new faces at these conferences as aloof.  I do try really hard to be as approachable as possible to those of you who are brand new to the scene as I am with those I've been friends with for fifteen years.  The struggle is that there is a cumulative effect....I know more and more of you at every conference, and the time-slicing still deals with a finite resource.
  • ...that we as a community did not do enough to recognize the leadership of Paul Mooney and Eileen Fitzgerald, along with a team of a dozen "green shirts" and sponsors, to make a quality conference happen at the low low price of £0.  THIS IS NOT THEIR DAY JOBS, people, and yet year in and year out Paul and Eileen have managed to run a flawless conference.  Thank you, ILUG team.
  • ...that I only had enough spare personal time to see one wonderful part of Northern Ireland -- the Giant's Causeway -- but at least I had this tremendous opportunity to fulfill yet another "must do" on the list.
  • ....that after more than a decade of visiting Ireland, I still don't like Guinness.  
  • ...that my real family wasn't able to join me with my professional family.
  • ...and that I feel genuine pain and sadness leaving my professional family behind, even knowing that I will see some as soon as next month's View Admin conference in Copenhagen and most in eleven weeks at Lotusphere.  
This week in Belfast, I saw that the familial and friendship bonds in this community are deeper than ever.  Not just that people will spend hundreds of Pounds or Euro of their own personal money to throw wine and cheese parties, buy a round, or take personal leave from their jobs just to attend the conference.  But that Julian Robichaux is brought bacon, that Francie comes home with duct tape and bananas, that the registration desk has piles of international chocolate all throughout, that Thomas Bahn brought me my first Christmas card of the season (complete with Bremen chocolate), that Bill Buchan ensures that I have a beer, that Sean Burgess finds a great dinner and takes one for the team to make it work as advertised, that Theo Heselmans gets a sparkle in his eye showing off iPad applications, and that wives, husbands, siblings and others turn up just to be part of the family (Lynne, Colette, Kim, Val, Kitty, Sarah, this shout's for you).

I can't imagine a conference for some other technology in market today being this personal.  Long-time readers know that I tend to get wistful on the close of any of these events; I reflect on younger days, on previous events, on all that has happened in the eighteen years I have been associated with Lotus products.  Maybe I'm just getting older, but I never really expected my life to be full of this joy, professionally and personally.  Thank you to all of you for creating the energy, passion, emotion, and craic to make another ILUG successful.  

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