Digressions & Diatribes

by Kort E Patterson, Editor

Your Editor Attends the AGA!

The 1999 Intertel Annual General Assembly in Denver was the first AGA I've attended. For a variety of reasons I tend to be resistant to travel nowadays, but this AGA was being held in our region, and I am the editor of the regional newsletter. Yielding to the entreaties of a number of very persuasive individuals, I boarded the plane for Denver with more than a little trepidation. (All of my previous experience with airplanes was back when I was a sport skydiver, and this would be my first time in a plane that still had seats and didn't have a gaping jump door in the side. Not only that, they actually expected the passengers to land INSIDE the plane! What a novel concept!)

Upon arriving at the hospitality suite, I was immediately struck by how well labeled it was. Here was a room full of people I'd never met personally but who welcomed me as one of Intertel's big happy family. Even those with whom I've had substantial (and sometimes vigorous) differences of opinion on Top1 were exceptionally warm and friendly in person.

While the occasional discussions of politics and philosophy did occur, we all seemed to get along quite nicely regardless of our differences of opinion. Or perhaps since some might consider me to be a bit more outspoken in my opinions than the average Illian, a more appropriate perspective might be to observe that those who disagreed with my views showed no reluctance at socializing with me. Either way, this most comfortable and appealing atmosphere continued throughout the entire AGA.

The event was held in a very nice hotel, but I hardly spent any time in my room. There was also plenty of food and drink in the hospitality suite, but interesting conversations often resulted in my glass being empty for hours at a time even though refills were only a few steps away. It's hard to leave a conversation when you don't want to miss anything that is being said. And in a room full of Illians, there were almost always multiple interesting conversations in which to participate.

I'm not much of a game player, but there were a variety of card and board games available to those who play. There also seemed to be at least one jigsaw puzzle in progress at any given time throughout the fours days. While I mostly constrained my contribution to kibitzing, even I was enticed into fitting a few pieces into the puzzle on the last day (with a pair of scissors and enough force, its easy to fix the pieces in - I don't see what the big deal is all about...)

There were some structured events during the AGA, and they were well worth attending. But the nature of many Intertel members seemed to favor an environment where they could express their individuality and control their own lives. Expeditions to restaurants or local attractions tended to be rather impromptu affairs. Order and structure was available for those who wanted it, but for many free-form seemed to be the preferred defining principle.

I had a good time at the AGA and can personally recommend the experience to all Illians. Barring the end of the world or other unexpected obstacles, I expect to attend the Tampa AGA in 2000. See you there!

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