devLink 2008: Open Spaces and Waffle Houses

I had the pleasure of attending devLink this past weekend in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  Honestly, I almost blew this conference off.  The sessions really didn’t appeal to me, and it was a bit of a hike to get to.  But then Amanda Laucher announced the DevLink Bus. And I started to waver…  Then I heard that Alan Stevens would be organizing Open Spaces during the conference. I was sold.

Wednesday evening around 7:30, my wife dropped me off at Sadukie’s house. Brandon Joyce was already there, watching Family Guy.  After Sadukie finished gathering up her wares, we piled into her Durango and headed off to pick up Corey Haines. A quick trip across town and we were on our way to Toledo to catch the bus.

Well, more accurately we were on our way to Toledo to wait for the bus.  The bus apparently went to the wrong side of town and it had to turn around to pick us up.  This wasn’t entirely bad.  It gave us enough time to pick up beer and for Corey to have an impromptu parking lot concert. And what’s better then beer and music?

Eventually the bus arrived and we REALLY began our journey.  A journey of corny movies and lack of sleep.  After much tossing and turning and cursing of lack of leg room, we arrived in Tennessee about 9am.  At which point I collapsed in my hotel room and passed out. Waking up in the evening, I followed my instinct to the local hotel bar/restaurant. Later on, I ended up making my way to Alan’s room where a party was going down.  Guitars, Cigars, and Beers were being passed around with abandon until hotel security came to the door and asked us nicely to stop.

The rest of the time in Tennessee is really a blur.  I wish I could give a detailed synopsis of each day, replete with details and names.  But honestly, the days meld into one another, linked only by great conversations, new experiences, and wonderful people.  I can’t stress enough the amount of knowledge I gained, and the success of the Open Space format that was put into place.

Alas, it was over much too soon.  By Saturday night it was time to board the bus once again, and make the long, movie filled trip back to Ohio… Who knows, maybe this time I could get some sleep? I cuddled up to the window and slowly drifted…

“THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP!”  Okay, so sleep wasn’t going to happen.



A blown tire. Great, James Avery’s ribbing about “Everyone was screaming… except Cliff” went through my head.  It didn’t help that we passed a sign commemorating a 1988 bus tragedy (no joke). The bus slowly inched along, until we pulled into a gas station in English, Kentucky.  Our faces aglow in the soft light of nearby Waffle House.  We waited.  And Waited.  Cooter showed up, and proceeded to sheer three bolts off the wheel.  So we continued to wait.  But while we waited, a remarkable thing happened.  Incredible conversations took place.  On Comments, on SRP, and any number of things.  The Open Spaces continued into the most open space possible, the world beyond the conference. Then the acetylene torch came out.



So we waited a bit more.  Marriages came and went we waited so long. Eventually a new tire was on and we were off.  By 1pm I was home holding my daughter and reflecting on a fantastic conference.  I was thankful I ended up going, though some images will be seared into my brain, forever.

I’ll at least be able to say I shared a tour bus with a member of Ratt.

The best part is that the conversation continues at the Heartland Open Spaces Wiki. Be sure to stop by and join in!

Next, I’ll be at Agile Summer Camp, and then I’m home until CodeMash in January 2009.  To all my new friends, old friends, and friends to be, I hope to see you there!