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Maria Zakourdaev

SQL Saturday on Monday

“No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.”
― Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


The idea to organize SQL Saturday is so exiting and scary at the same time. For me - this is my first SQL Saturday. For SQL Saturday - this is a first time in Israel.

All my religious and not so religious friends are energetically making it clear to me that no one will show up on Saturday. Ok, no problem. We are focused and determined. We settle for the only day that has yet to host an SQL Saturday - Monday.

From here "SQL Saturday on Monday" is starting to take shape. My two friends, Geri Reshef and Itai Binyamin, are allowing themselves to get involved into this risky adventure.

We are enthusiastically brainstorming and discussing the details. We are discussing a possible venue. We are discussing the potential speakers. We are discussing how to get some sponsorship.

We are meeting someone, who is temporarily filling the product marketing position at Microsoft. He tells us that he will help us with everything he can. He looks reliable and trustworthy. He books 2 conference rooms for us and promises the winter rain cover for the open terrace, intended for lunch. He likes our beer party idea and is certain that together we will set up an awesome event. Few weeks later he disappears. Like Bilbo Baggins at his birthday party. But he works in Microsoft, right? Nothing can go wrong if you work with Microsoft, right?

The event planning goes smoothly forward. 13 Speakers are being chosen out of 90 terrific submissions. 3 of them from are MVPs from overseas. Two generous sponsors, Xplenty and Pyramid Analytics make their mind to be a part of our SQL Saturday and we are extremely excited. Valinor, a project consultation company, agrees to sponsor the beer party at the end of the day. Everything appears to us so flawless and faultless: we visualize breakfast on a sunny deck, accompanied by music by the SQL DJ, our attendees mingling with sweet warm pastry in one hand and the aroma of coffee lingering in the air. Attendees are studying the schedule, discussing how hard is to decide to which session to attend because all of them are so appealing. A big crowd surrounds the SQL Clinic during the breaks, where top SQL problem solvers are answering the attendees questions. Beer party at the end of the day, everyone discusses how awesome PASS organization is, how great was the idea to arrange the SQL Saturday and of course everyone hopes there will be another one next year.

One month prior, the event plans fall under serious risk. After many unanswered emails to Microsoft finally we are allowed to meet our new contacts who will be responsible for the events. Wait, what do they say? The venue will not tolerate any music, alcohol is not allowed and the patio will not have a winter cover which means there will be no place for lunch. But don't worry! They have much better solution for us. Maria, please don't panic. Listen carefully. There is another place for the event, much better. It has very big auditorium and a fancy entrance area, however somewhat limited in space. Sponsors don't really need a table, they can hang out in the corner with small rollup, cannot they?  However, we can bring in the beer and have a music. Isn't it a great idea? We can do 30 minutes sessions to squeeze agenda from 2 planned tracks in it. This will be very cool event. Luckily, my peaceful and self-confident friend Geri is here with me. He nicely stops my hysterical remarks and thanks them for their efforts. I am drinking Valerian Root to calm my nervous system.

Patience is a best solution to most troubles. Somehow the things around us are getting  sorted out slowly. Game room, located near the auditorium, once declared to be closed for sponsors and eating guests, now can serve as a second track room where people can also eat and play the piano. Microsoft is extraordinary generously proposing us Platinum sponsorship and now we can have really tasty “Speaker & Volunteer Dinner” on the day before the event , buy t-Shirts and funny attendee bags.

One day before the event at 10 am the morning I receive an email that the event is cancelled because we haven’t filled correctly some insurance form for the catering. I am enjoying my second heart attack, but few hours later we learn that we didn’t actually need this form. My next heart attack comes at 5 pm in the evening, when we are told that alcohol is not allowed in the venue. Half an hour later we are notified that it is allowed. But a few minutes after the the alcohol approval more information comes in. Beer bottles are ok but the beer cart with draft beer cannot enter the venue without that incorrectly filled insurance form. I am drinking Rum mixed with the Valerian Root. Around 9 pm, during the”Speaker Dinner”, we receive our final approvals. We are still not 100% sure that the event will take place.

And THE DAY finally arrives. We seem to be out of the mud at last. Everything works out just as it should. I have never realized how stressful the work at the registration deck is. We are learning the art of finding the name tags for arriving guests, every time missing something important. One guest is not marked as present in the list. Another reminds us that he hasn't received an attendee bag. A third gets offended that we didn’t remember his name. Itai, while the venue owners are not looking, is barbarically sticking all kind of instructions to the brightly white walls using scotch tape. Geri exists simultaneously in two rooms and waves a sign “session is over” at the enthusiastic speakers. SQL Doctors in the green surgical bathrobes and caps, wearing toy stethoscope dissect attendee’s SQL problems. The amazing Steve Simon, Lenni Lobel and Peter Larsson, who flew across the half of the globe, are making this event special and unique. The food is delicious. Despite the fact that the amounts were calculated for 200+, 160 attendees work really hard and do a great job of devouring all of it.  And, of course, everyone discusses how awesome PASS organization is, how great the idea was to arrange the SQL Saturday in Israel and everyone hopes there will be another one next year.

Now, I have a question. Is there such sickness as being addicted to organizing an SQL Saturday?

Published Thursday, January 29, 2015 9:51 PM by Maria Zakourdaev
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Brent Ozar said:

HAHAHA, wow, sounds exciting!

January 29, 2015 7:05 PM

Anonymous said:

Sounds like a great event! I wish I could have been there.

January 30, 2015 11:22 AM

Maria Zakourdaev said:

It would have been even more great If you could have been here ;-)

January 30, 2015 2:08 PM

Larry Ortega said:

Congrats on a unique, successful event.

February 1, 2015 12:53 PM

Maria Zakourdaev said:


February 3, 2015 5:18 AM

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About Maria Zakourdaev

The shortest word in the English language that contains the letters: abcdef is… feedback! Let me know if I have touched something that is alive in the cosmos.
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