And, yet, somehow, I was reasonably confident that if I began my trip to Australia by attending the annual SAGE-AU conference I would have found my way of getting to know people around the country. And by gum this turned out to be the case. I remain grateful for the friendliness and hospitality the Australian geeks showed me.
Only nine months later on one week's notice, I came back to Australia. I sent email to some of the folks I'd met who live in Melbourne, hoping we could meet up when I got there. Every single person I wrote answered within a day, with a lovely friendly response. The delightful Jacinta even took over the organizing of two group dinners, one each week I was in Melbourne. Here's a picture of Jacinta:
Imagine a world where it doesn't seem particularly notable or exotic that your dinner companion grew up in Alice Springs, as Jacinta did. Jacinta is something of an uber-geek, as she and her husband Paul run Perl Trainiing Australia. Here I am with Paul:
I think the pictures, simple as they are, convey how engaging Paul and Jacinta are.
Oh, and here's a goofy picture of Nick (who had included a picture of me in the Men of SAGE 2006 Calendar he put together after last fall's conference, so this is turnabout):
Rounding out the merry group of weekly dinner companions were Tim, and of course Geoff (mrrrules) who really was my main tourguide and social director for the entire trip. At our first weekly dinner I took a silly photo of Tim, so the next week he was prepared. When I whipped out my camera, he whipped out a goofy hat:
Then I whipped out a goofy hat, and Geoff poked his head in the picture:
Mike C. joined us later, but I'd already put the camera away.
Jacinta was overheard saying to somebody that the group should get together for dinner even when Steven Levine isn't in town.
As I write this, all of the people I mention here are attending this year's SAGE-AU conference, which is in Canberra. I miss them and wish I could be there.
I'll let a photo of mrrules sign off for me. I think the amused look and empty glass of red wine say much of what you need to know about what it's like to hang out with the Geeks of Australia.