First Stop on the Journey: A Warm Welcome in Phoenix
And I’m not just talking about the weather. Which is, of course, quite lovely and warm. Just like NYC. Or not.
But weather aside (did I mention it was warm?), from the moment I got off the plane this afternoon, I’ve experienced nothing but love here in the Valley of the Sun. It started with the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf right outside my gate at the airport. Talk about a sight for sore eyes. Is there a better beverage than a pumpkin spice ice blended? I think not.
Next up was Bruce, the guy from the car rental place, who immediately smiled when he saw my Yankees t-shirt and said, “Now that’s the kind of person I like: a Yankees fan!” Turns out he’s a huge Yankees fan and we chatted about the great Yankees of old (Mantle, Maris, Yogi), and the great Yankees of new (A-Rod, Jeter and even Nick Swisher).
After setting out in my sweet Chevy Lumina (yes, a Chevy Lumina), I arrived at my lodging for the weekend, the apartment of my host, Tyler Hurst (aka @tdhurst). It’s always great to see Tyler, who encouraged me (along with Pam Slim) to come out to Phoenix for Geek Week and enjoy this fantastic geek/nerd community. I originally planned to come for just Friday night through Sunday, but with the recent changes in my career, I changed my trip so I could be here for both Word Camp and Podcamp AZ 2009, and enjoy a little Arizona Fall League baseball. The timing could not be better as I embark on my journey.
At Tyler’s suggestion, I stopped by (aka crashed) the happy hour at AZEC 09. Oh yeah, I did manage to get myself lost in Phoenix on my way there, making a wrong turn, going through downtown (past Chase Field) and finally making it to the 10 East after asking a cab driver for directions. When I finally hit the freeway, I wasn’t too surprised to see that traffic was about the same as in LA.
When I finally arrived at the conference center, I introduced myself to the fantastic, warm and welcoming Joan Koerber-Walker. After Joan chastised Tyler for leaving his guest unhosted and alone, she told me to say hello to Heather Herr (aka the fabulous Ms Herr). Though I barged right over and interrupted her conversation with Sean Tierney, Heather didn’t skip a beat and immediately welcomed me to Phoenix and to the group. I’d heard a lot about the warmth and openness of the Phoenix geek/nerd/social media community, but this was more than a cynical New Yorker could hope for.
As the happy hour dwindled, Ms Herr spearheaded a post-happy hour venture, and we caravanned (is that even a word?) over to George & Dragon for beverages and dinner. The crew consisted of Ms Herr, Sean Tierney, Brian Shaler, Ed, and Vlogger extraordinaire Clintus.
As we watched Rutgers beat up on USF and the Bears-Niners struggle in an NFL suck-off of epic proportions, we discussed all kinds of social media related things, as a little preview of what’s to come for the weekend. One thing I found fascinating was our conversation regarding the advent of “anti-social media” (in the words of Brian Shaler), a new phenomenon in which social media is being used to avoid actual social interaction. Don’t forget that sometimes a phone call is actually more effective and easier than an email exchange. Although Ed countered [correction: “countered” should be “joked”] that “If it can’t be done on the web, it’s not worth doing.” I’ll let you ponder that, as it’s late and I have to be up really early tomorrow.
Thanks again to everybody who welcomed me to Phoenix so warmly today. Based on what I experienced tonight, I can’t wait to learn and experience more at Word Camp and PodCamp.
Until next time, the journey continues.