30 April 2015

Traveling to ApacheCon :: Bruce Snyder's Status

Several weeks ago I traveled to ApacheCon, the annual conference for the Apache Software Foundation, and it was the best experience I have had traveling since my accident almost one year ago.

For the last 10+ years, I've done a lot of business travel. I've been through many cities in the US, Canada, Germany, Poland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, UK, Spain, France and Japan. Traveling was always difficult both mentally and physically unless I was with my family or just my wife, and this only served to soften the blow. But compared to what I experience now when I travel, all of that previous business travel seems to have been a lot easier. 

Even almost one year after the accident, it's still difficult for me to sit for a long period of time. When I say long period of time I'm referring to a span of two plus hours. I have taken several flights of 2-2.5 hours and I can achieve these without too much difficulty. But I have not taken a longer flight yet, especially a flight to Europe. I'm hopeful that I will have an opportunity to do this soon.

Dealing with life in a hotel room for several days certainly presents some challenges, but nothing that I was not able to handle. This is still a new experience for me because I have never been presented with such issues for all the years I've been traveling. For example, when I am at home, I still use my wheelchair when I get out of bed to the shower. This is because I am not yet wearing my leg braces (which allow me to stand and walk) at this time in the morning. So I either muscle through this situation by either using just my crutches and going very slow or I use the wheeled office chair in the hotel room. Another example, in the shower I need to use a padded bench. Getting a bench seat in a hotel isn't a problem as long as I plan ahead and make the proper arrangements, but I do not travel with my wheelchair at all anymore.

Making it to ApacheCon was a good experience to get out of my comfort zone, hang out with some old friends and even make some new ones. I was struck by the opening keynotes on the first morning of the conference because they were so overtly driven by vendors. One vendor even stated that it was starting a new software foundation and charging $1000 for other vendors to join. This was quite a surprise given how community driven the Apache Software Foundation has been since the beginning. But I suppose the realities of financing a software conference at a pricey hotel in a large city has driven ApacheCon in this direction.

I'm very happy that I was able to attend ApacheCon this year because it was only three weeks after ApacheCon 2014 when it took place in Denver, CO that I experienced my accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury. So for many people, this was the first time that they have seen me since last year's conference. At any rate, it was great to see friends and prove to myself that I can get along outside of my comfort zone.