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How to waste time with people you highly respect

What do you do if you happen to be sitting at the same table with David Chappell (SOA and architecture guru), Steve Swartz(Architect for BizTalk and in charge of many many people at MS) and Clemens Vasters(Architecture Guru)?

After the speaker dinner at TechEd EU Barcelona(traditional dinner where speakers gather at the end of the conference to talk about how cool we think we are and pat each other on the back, while eating good food), a bunch of us decided to head down to the beach front and find a nice club to sit or maybe dance a little in.

Update - OK, that sentence came out way to cynically - it's a great event where presenters are thanked for their hard work and devotion to the subjects, and awards are presented for best speaker scores etc. It's also there so we can thank the event organizers for all of their really hard work in making this happen and work smoothly. Still - you can't really beat the amount of Ego present in that single room at some point - it's Huge. Can't say I didn't enjoy every minute though- I'm corrupt just like the best of 'em..

Udi and myself ended up in the same table as David,Clemens and Steve for a reason unknown to us. We thought this would be a great opportunity to talk shop with some of the industry's most brilliant guys, when suddenly Steve mentioned something about pianos and harpsichords - to which David Chappell responded with a mesmerized look. at that point they started talking to what seems like forever about tunes,sounds, past years and favorite bands and basically everything that is not "shop".

Hell, Clemens Vasters was right there looking at both of them, helplessly trying to join in the conversation, but not really succeeding. They were going at it like two ladies at a hair salon - and they were loving every minute of it.

At some point Udi asked David something about SCA. When David started answering him, Steve cut off the conversation midway saying "geeks! do not talk shop now!" or something of that sort.

I was amazed at how the opportunity to listen to something really interesting had just vanished so quickly, and realized that my mind was beginning to wander as they, yet again, started talking about pianos and music.

Don't get me wrong, I like music, but that was a conversation that even if I really wanted to I couldn't contribute to. These were two dinosaurs talking about the "old days" and comparing flutes and harmonicas. If you'd hear two regular joes on the street talking about these things you'd be inclined to hit them on the head with a frying pan to make them stop.

It's really the far far equivalent of having Rembrandt over for dinner and have him talk about nothing but cooking all evening: You're glad he's just there with you, you wish he'd talk about what he does every day, but you don't want to alienate him and seem like a crazed freak who just wants to talk shop and drive him out of your house. In short -  A big waste of time for shop-talk, although a good time was had by all nonetheless - it was a bar, there were girls hanging around looking pretty and drunk, and we were all relaxed after finishing what seemed like a great conference.

It's at times like this you get to know the person behind the celebrity and all that (and they are great people! David in particular - Steve Swartz is - kinda tough for my taste) but hey - if you get the opportunity to talk to people who shape so much of your technical worlds and beliefs up close and personal  - you can't blame me for feeling almost cheated out of a good conversation :)

I even told them what I thought - they both replied they totally understand, at which point the conversation turned to other matters, not music - but then again - anything but shop talk.

Udi was seriously looking for a fight that night, so while Steve Swartz (aka No-Tech-Talk-Cop) went to get a beer he started telling Clemens, who was standing by just trying to get some interesting conversation out of these guys, some thoughts he had on SOA and stuff like that.

He got in about 17 words before Clemens stopped him mid sentence and said something (and I'm paraphrasing here) like "oh you are SO wrong!". He then started out telling Udi all he knows about SOA, and then Steve Swartz came back, interfered again  - stopping the conversation completely. I was pretty drunk at that time so I was just having fun watching sparks fly.

Seriously - it was a lovely conversation, and good times were had by all. Just do yourselves a favor - if you find yourself in a table with someone who you feel it's one of your best chances to have a conversation with - beware - Steve may be listening ;)

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