Digressions & Diatribes

by Kort E Patterson, Editor

Atlanta AGA 2007

My trek to the Atlanta AGA was long but uneventful. Getting through security didn't take anywhere near the recommended allowance of two hours, so I spent several hours killing time wandering around airports. The only connection that was a little tight was the one in Denver on my return, so of course the flight to Denver from Atlanta was the only one that was delayed. I just made it to my flight from Denver to Portland as they were closing the doors, so it all worked out all right in the end.

I had seats over the wings of Frontier Airbus A319s on every leg, and noticed a number of unfamiliar mechanical sounds occurring at altitudes when things probably should be happening. It was admittedly reassuring to hear the same pattern of sounds on every flight. It must have been the European accent of the plane's systems, or maybe just my location in the plane. Gotta find distractions where 'ya can find 'em on long uneventful flights.

About the only complaint I have is that so many people passing through the Atlanta airport know so little about flow dynamics. The middle of the corridor is not the proper location to stop and have a casual conversation with a group of your friends and relatives. Just because you don't want to get to where you're going, doesn't mean the rest of the world wants to waste their time stalled in the traffic jam you're creating. If you're not moving, get out of the way of those who are! You'd think they were all Oregon drivers!

I heard somewhere that it's supposed to get warmer as you travel south. Contrary to the stereotype, when I left for the AGA it was 102F in the supposedly cool Pacific Northwest. It was nearly 20 degrees cooler in the supposedly sweltering South. So much for the stereotypes.

The AGA attendees were a mix of regulars and (initially) unfamiliar faces. I enjoyed meeting some interesting people, and catching up with old friends. This was the first AGA I was attending as Intertel's president, and some of the other attendees seemed to laboring under the expectation that I would somehow know more than usual about what was going on. Fortunately there were a number of seasoned members available to help keep things on track.

While I undoubtedly fall short in the pomp and circumstance area, I like to think my first executive board meeting as president managed to do a reasonable job of taking care of Intertel's routine business. We may have even accomplished some good things for Intertel. And we only ran 40 minutes over the schedule - at least in part because the meeting started late.

The member meeting the next day was unique for another reason. For the first time in at least a decade, we had enough attendees and proxies to actually conduct business during the member meeting. Not that anyone came expecting to do any business during the meeting. Maybe that was a good thing...

The Clarion Hotel staff was consistently friendly and helpful, and repeatedly went out of their way to make our members comfortable, and our event a success.

The AGA committee did a great job - especially since the committee consisted of just Linda Woodhead. The AGA went off smoothly, the hospitality suite was well stocked with food and drink, and the presentations were interesting and informative.

Iloilo Jones was again gracious enough to provide an informative and inspiring presentation on the "Last peaceful defense of our civil liberties" - the role of informed citizen jurors as a critical check and balance on tyrannical government power.

"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."
Thomas Jefferson

Spencer Young's presentation, Magna Est Veritas Et Praevalebit ("Truth Is Mighty And Will Prevail"), explored the erosion of ethics and morality in large corporations today, using his personal experiences working at JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley as examples.

Bruce Holland both entertained and informed with Team Trivia. The key was to have a diverse team. There were whole topics were I didn't have a clue, but was lucky enough to be on teams where someone else often knew the answers. I was on one winning team and one losing team - the scores were pretty close in all of the games.

Our keynote speaker was Angela Bean, of FairTax.Org. "The FairTax Plan is a nonpartisan proposal that replaces all federal income and payroll taxes with a progressive tax on consumption (national retail sales tax). It includes a cash 'prebate' that ensures no American pays federal taxes on their spending for essential goods and services up to the poverty level."

The presentations and keynote speaker may have given us a lot to think about, but that didn't get in the way of enjoying ourselves. The hotel provided a very nice beer and wine reception prior to the banquet. The buffet style food at the banquet was quite good - pork chops and fried chicken. The mixed vegetables were fresh and cooked just enough to still be crunchy. The hotel restaurant was also quite good. The rest of the time there was plenty of food, drink, games, and conversation in the hospitality suite.

The big news from the AGA is that we are going to sea for the 2008 AGA!

Region 6 will be hosting the next AGA on a Carnival Cruise ship bound for Cozumel, Mexico and Progreso, Yucatan. We'll be leaving Galveston, Texas on Sept. 20, 2008 for 5 days of the usual AGA attractions mixed in with the various distractions offered by the ship and shore destinations. This promises to be yet another unique AGA - likely a good deal more unique than usual!

Note that we are also offering non-Ilians the opportunity to join in our group rate - the more individuals join us, the more Intertel earns! (Our Intertel-specific meetings and functions will still be members-only.) Invite the members of other Hi-IQ societies (Mensa, Triple-9, TOPS, ISPE, Poetic Genus, etc.), friends, neighbors - the offer is open to anyone who wants to come along for the fun.

The Xboard also approved something in which I have a particular interest - the Intertel Server Project. Funds to purchase the hardware were donated by Tom Murphey of TN., and the Xboard approved the ongoing costs for a dedicated DSL service. I volunteered to build the basic server and get it connected to the Internet. At that point it will be possible for our team of volunteer sys admins to take over adapting it to Intertel's needs - a process that will likely always be a work-in-progress. At this point we have four volunteer sys admins scattered around the globe (Oregon, Illinois, Tennessee, and Germany).

In addition to organization-wide services, the Intertel Server should also be capable of providing member-only resources on the regional and local levels. For example, local areas could make their party schedules and directions available on a members-only website, and use the mailing list server to send out party reminders. It's my hope that the Intertel Server will provide the kind of infrastructure enhancement that enables future uses that we can't even imagine today.

Intertel may be headed for interesting times in the years ahead - hopefully along with more of the same.

I haven't yet fully recovered from the Atlanta AGA, and I'm already looking forward to the next one. Starting planning now for the AGA-At-Sea in 2008! Remember - you'll need a passport for this international AGA!

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