I boarded BA flight 218 to LHR last Wednesday evening, eager to attend and present a tutorial at ACCU 2010. I had heard about the volcano in Iceland weeks ago, but never knew it had potential to disrupt flight until we were about to board the plane. About midnight, after dinner and well into a movie, the pilot announced we were turning back due to the volcanic ash cloud. Wow, I was glad to be safe, but extremely bummed about ACCU. Even if the plane took off the next night, I couldn’t make it in time for my session, so I had to call the whole thing off.
As we all know now, tens of thousands (millions?) of people have now been inconvenienced or worse by the ash cloud. I was grateful not to be stranded in an airport away from home, and there was plenty to do back at work! But this cloud has a silver lining, at least for some of us.
Friday evening I checked Twitter as I worked. I noticed a tweet from @Dr_Black about visiting the Tattered Cover. That’s in Denver! Where is she? I didn’t know Sue Black personally, but I follow her on Twitter and know about her work for Bletchley Park, thanks to Antony Marcano. As a supporter of Bletchley Park, I also follow Kelsey Griffin. She and Sue were in Denver for a conference on museums and the web, presenting a session “Can Twitter Save Bletchley Park?”
We arranged to meet for breakfast on Sunday. I was so thrilled to meet them both – what a great opportunity! A few minutes into breakfast, Kelsey turned to me and said, “Are you the Denver speaker who couldn’t make it to ACCU?” She had heard all about it from a friend at ACCU. Such a funny coincidence, thanks to the ash cloud!
New Friends & Colleagues
As their flight had been cancelled, they decided to go to D.C. the next day, but Sue and Kelsey had Sunday to kill. I asked if they’d like to come out to a ranch, and see a bit of Colorado outside of Denver. We had such a fun day together, driving in the foothills, and playing at my friend Anna Blake’s Infinity Farm. Sue and Kelsey each had a ride in the donkey cart, pulled by Chester – Kelsey even drove! Sue had a long ride on the lovely Max, with coaching from Anna. Edgar Rice Burro, the large pinto donkey, fell in love with Kelsey, and followed her around resting his chin on her. A great time was had by all.
Then we visited Garden of the Gods, a park in Colorado Springs with stunning rock formations at the foot of Pikes Peak. I was surprised that Sue and Kelsey had energy left over for dinner with me and my husband Bob!
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to spend time with these inspiring women, learn about Bletchley Park, pick their brains about how to organize volunteers for our Women in Agile project, discuss agile development, and just enjoy new friends. If not for the volcano, I’d have been having lunch in Cirencester with Dave Evans, Marta Ferraro and Mike Scott. Instead I spent the day with two Londoners in Colorado!
#ashtag Connections Around the Planet
Lots of people stranded by the cloud are making lemonade. Some ACCU speakers are holding Open Space London – Volcano Version on April 20. Enrique Comba tweeted that he’s in Chicago visiting Obtiva, Corey Haines and other developers. My co-author Janet Gregory was stuck in Oslo after teaching our Agile Testing course there last week, with our ProgramUtvikling friends offering to help her out, but she managed to get out today (Monday) and back to North America. As I follow the #ashtag tweets, I’m surprised how many people I know that are stranded in various parts of the globe, and I hope they all get home soon. If you’re stuck somewhere, I hope you’re able to make new connections and learn more about the part of the world where you are!