I’m Not Ready for Maskless Conferences Serving Finger Food.

At a conference in Belgium this week, Steve Jones posted a video:

My first reaction was, “That’s an awful lot of people in really close proximity, talking loudly at each other, and none of them are wearing masks.”

And then I saw the finger food. No sneeze guards. Just get your dirty fingers in there and serve yourself.

I feel sick to my stomach just watching that. I’m not ready for that.

Let’s set aside any discussion of this specific conference. The organizers chose to do what they chose to do, and I’m not here to say whether that’s right or wrong. I don’t want to turn this into any blame about the organizers or the attendees. I only want to have a discussion about my own personal readiness for conferences right now, and the kinds of precautions I’d want organizers to take before I’d attend.

A mask is like a seat belt.

When you get behind the wheel of a car, you put your seat belt on. Years ago, seat belts were controversial, but today, we just accept it as the right thing to do for ourselves and our loved ones, and we buckle up. It’s a quick, easy, harmless measure for most people to do, and it’s a litmus test for whether someone should really be behind the wheel of a car.

Similarly, because wearing a mask indoors is so easy and harmless for most people, I get nervous when people won’t do it. I start to question their judgment about other less easy-to-see things, like whether they washed their hands, avoided shaking hands with people, and whether they’d stay home if they had COVID symptoms. I hate to say this, but I even question whether or not they’re telling the truth when they say they’re vaccinated or already had COVID.

Now, don’t get offended: I’m not talking about you, dear reader.

You and I have years of history and friendship. When it comes to masks, I know that you know that I have asthma, and my health is already at risk. I’m doing the best I can to protect myself, of course – I wear a mask, wash my hands, and I’m vaccinated twice over with both Pfizer and Moderna. However, that still isn’t a bulletproof defense: vaccines aren’t 100% effective, and there are plenty of examples of breakthrough cases. I know that you and I have a good understanding that if I saw you, and you weren’t wearing a mask, and you told me you had a medical reason not to wear a mask, I’d probably give you a pass because I’d just be so excited to see you. It’s been so long, hasn’t it? Come on over here and give me a hug, you big lug.

A stranger who won’t wear a seat belt
makes me nervous.

I’m not talking about you – I’m talking about strangers and the people that I don’t know as well. You know the ones I’m talking about – the ones who make incredibly bad decisions with their databases every single day. They only run CHECKDB once a week, but they’re deleting log backups older than 24 hours. They don’t even understand the process of how to recover from corruption, let alone rehearse it on a regular basis. They’re running around without scissors every day.

It’s bad enough that they take database risks, but if a stranger takes a risk with my health, I start to get really nervous. I don’t want to go near them, but people will default to getting close to each other. Event organizers probably aren’t going to say, “You need to distance by default, and only go closer to people when they have verbally invited you to get within a meter of them.” They’re going to assume consent – which is an awfully odd default in the day and age when we’re trying to get people to understand that consent is not the default answer: you have to ask for consent first.

And of course, those people are the ones breathing on the finger food. Coughing on the finger food. Plucking one of the finger foods with their unwashed hands, and moving the food around.

A room full of them?
Forget it. I’m out.

When I see a roomful of strangers meeting each other for the first time, and they’re taking good precautions like wearing masks and socially distancing, I get excited. I’m much more confident that they’re making good decisions, and that they’ve also washed their hands, avoided handshakes, and got plenty of antibodies running through their veins. I know they’re not only doing their part for themselves, but for others as well.

But on the other hand, when I see that video at the start of the post – a roomful of strangers indoors, networking closely with each other, eating finger food out on public display with no sneeze guard, not wearing masks….

As much as it pains me to say it, I can’t go into that room. I would do a U-turn and leave immediately.

Because they’re strangers, I can’t trust their judgment. They might have taken every precaution – but I’m just not comfortable making that assumption.

If you’re okay with it,
that’s fine. I respect you.

You, dear reader, are well-qualified to make your own judgments about your health, my health, and the health of those around you. You’ve done your own research, and I respect that you’re making well-informed decisions based on science, not feelings. You’re not just going to a conference maskless because you’re desperate to recreate 2019 – you’re going to a conference maskless because you believe it’s the right thing for you, your family, and those around you.

Again, I’m not talking about you.

I’m talking about the roomful of maskless strangers.

They’re the reason why I’m not ready to go to in-person conferences yet, even though I’m vaccinated, and even though I’m wearing a mask.

How about you? Are you ready to go back to a conference that doesn’t require masks, doesn’t default to social distancing, and serves food the same way we did before the pandemic?

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172 Comments. Leave new

  • Working for a hospital I’ve been exposed to more regular communication about this. I can say that I’m not ready to go to conferences that aren’t masked. I have three kids in the house that can’t get vaccinated and while it’s less likely that vaccinated spread COVID it still happens. We’ve had two outbreaks in my state that were traced back to weddings where everyone was vaccinated.

    The food part of it doesn’t bother me any more than it did before. You raise very good questions about hand washing but studies have shown that because COVID is a respiratory illness that’s not how it spreads. Other diseases will and eating (which pretty much requires being unmasked) does increase risk of COVID transmission. Unless you’re inhaling your food eating something someplace where you’re alone is extremely unlikely to give you COVID. But that also makes mingling hard.

    If my household were fully vaccinated and I didn’t have contact with any high risk populations I may be comfortable with it. Being vaccinated does decrease the risk quite a bit and I don’t have any pre-existing conditions. But I can’t help but think of the other people around me that I may be putting at risk.

    • Chris – I’m glad that you’re considering the other folks around you that you may be putting at risk. That’s definitely the big point of the post: most people aren’t considering that, and it’s a bummer. They’re only concerned about themselves.

    • Everyone should make their own decision obviously but here are some facts and a little perspective. This audience likes stats so here we go. Here in the US as of October less than 1/4 of 1% of people have died from Covid. Of that 1/4 of 1%, 76% are over the age of 65. There has been approximately 4000 deaths total of people under the age of 30. Most of whom had underlying conditions. There are 12 million reported cases of covid for those under 30. That means your statistical chance of dying from Covid if your under 30 is .03%. There are many things we do every day that put you at much greater risk than catching no less dying from Covid if you under 30. Covid is a dangerous disease for those at high risk take whatever precautions you think are necessary for yourself but the hysteria needs to be toned down.

      • Bill – when you get a few moments, would you mind reading about my friend Gareth Swanepoel?


        I appreciate your time. Thank you.

        • Jonathan Gardner
          October 13, 2021 10:28 pm

          I miss Gareth

        • Brent,
          I’m sorry for the loss of your friend. Sounds like he was a great guy. I understand many people have lost loved ones and close friends.
          I don’t mean to minimize anyone’s loss. I’m just stating some actual statistics. People should take whatever precautions they think are necessary to protect themselves. I am just very very against government mandates and authoritarian rules. Enough said.

          Again, sorry for the loss of your friend.

      • When you get vaccinated for anything you aren’t just helping yourself, you are helping everyone else too. Personally I know someone who is extremely vulnerable, 40 years old with sarcoidosis. He can’t even get vaccinated due to this. Everyone who is getting vaccinated is helping people in these situations stay alive.

        This transcends covid vaccines and applies tethers as well.

      • Brian Boodman
        October 15, 2021 1:09 pm

        > Here in the US as of October less than 1/4 of 1% of people have died from Covid. Of that 1/4 of 1%, 76% are over the age of 65.

        That’s *a lot* of people. 10X more people die of Covid than crashes!

        • it is a good number of people. It is a virus however. Hopefully those at risk will get vaccinated. Those that recover from the virus naturally have stronger immunity than vaccinated people, there is no need for them to get vaccinated. Masks are just about useless. Its like trying to keep a mosquito out of your yard with a chain link fence with big holes in it.
          Again , I was just stating some statistical facts.
          Something that is very interesting is that we have higher deaths this year in 2021 in the US then we had all of last year even though supposedly more people are vaccinated. Makes you wonder.

          • Bill,
            The Canadian Medical Association Journal published a peer-reviewed study last week that tracked 212k cases of COVID-19 this year. They found that compared with the original strain, Alpha, the Delta variant has a 133% higher chance of death and 235% higher chance of ICU admission. The Delta viral load is roughly 1000 times higher in people infected with Delta than Alpha. 1000 times.

            COVID-19 was the leading cause of death for Americans 35-54 in September.

            Approximately one-third of all COVID-19 cases studied in the UK have resulted in “long-COVID” where significant to devastating issues remain more than six months after the initial infection.

            Even if – in the grand scheme – the total numbers are a small percentage of the population, one of the primary problems is how many people have been sick at once. It is that sudden flood that has brought our healthcare services to their knees in so many places.

            Masks simply reduce the dispersion of particles. They have been repeatedly found to reduce viral spread. The vaccines are not perfect, but they are doing their job as well, reducing hospitalizations. The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for normal use by the FDA. If we didn’t have public health mandates, we would still have smallpox, polio, and other devastating illness. Protecting the community is what government is intended to do; hence drivers licenses, auto inspections, seat belts, OSHA, the FDA, etc.

            I appreciate this discussion, and it shows how difficult it is now, and will be, to have successful conferences that meet the needs of the whole community.

          • @Anne Hills – I disagree with several points you made. I have not seen any scientific studies that say masks stop the spread of covid. In the US there has been virtually no difference between states that have forced mask mandates and those that do not.
            Doesn’t it make you wonder why many Doctors and Nurses who deal with covid far more than you or I have decided not to get the vaccine.
            My biggest disagreement is what government is “intended to do”. I am an adult you are an adult we don’t need government forcing us to do anything and they should not be in a free society. There is huge difference between drivers licenses, seat belts and injecting a drug in your body.

          • Bill – your disagreement has been noted. Thanks for stopping by.

          • I agree with Bill. People can choose for themselves. Forcing someone cover a part of their body to make you feel more comfortable has no place in free and liberal western societies.

          • You mean you disagree with businesses that require shirts and pants in order for you to enter?

            That’s an intriguing stance.

  • I’m also Asthmatic, take all the precautions I can, and my feelings on the subject are very much the same. I’d love to feel comfortable going back to an in person conference, but I don’t think I will for quite a long time, the way things are.

  • I REALLY miss conferences, from the before times. As much as I would love to get to one now, it’s not the right situation yet. I’m not looking forward to more online virtual conferences (PASD & Ignite), bit it’s what’s available to me for now, so I will watch ony screen for now.

    The thing I will be curious about is once we DO get back to a situation where conferences are back to in person in general, what will those first ones be like, and the after-hours happy hour events? So much pent up energy of being back at a conference after 2-3 years, some people may forget their limits. It’ll be like your first time attending a conference all over again.

    • Mike – yeah, you see that in bars & restaurants in cities where conventions are open now. San Diego has conventions open, and the Gaslamp district is packed with folks without masks.

      • It’s worse in San Diego. There’s a group called Let Them Breathe, who demonstrate against and sue any mask mandate. Currently suing the school system, which doesn’t allow personal beliefs exemptions because they know groups like that will abuse it.

  • Not to sound cliche (as it is today) but I really appreciate all the virtual conferences that have been happening. It’s so much nicer in so many ways. I just don’t see any draw to do them in person. Of course, I’m only looking to learn and not looking for interpersonal networking, so that might be why. All those people just get in the way 😉

  • I don’t typically go to large gatherings to begin with. But I don’t wear a mask because it gives me anxiety. Also, most people don’t wear their masks properly and wear the proper kind of mask so they are mostly just theater for most people. How many people sanitize their hands before putting on a fresh unused mask? How many people make sure to not touch their mask after putting it on? How many people make sure to put on a fresh mask regularly? Most people don’t do any of those things.

    But generally, when going out to eat, I will eat outside. I work from home, so I’m good there. Also, I’m making sure that my weight is at a healthy state. Per the NIH I’m making sure that my vitamin D levels are healthy. I’m also taking vitamin C and Zinc. I also make sure to eat healthy whole foods. All things to help my body fight Covid if I ever get it. But I don’t want to get it.

    • Jon – okay, so lots of words in there, but lemme just make sure I understand: you agree that you’re not ready to go to a large conference and eat finger foods indoors?

      • If I was interested an something enough I would definitely go. And we know that covid doesn’t spread on surfaces. So, I don’t know why finger foods would be a big deal regardless – we’ve known that for well over a year now. It’s being indoors that is the problem.

    • “All things to help my body fight Covid” including a vaccine?

      • I have very low trust tolerance when things become overly politicized. Also, I only take experimental medicine if I feared for my life or those of my family. But we are all healthy and are very careful when we get a sniffle not to go out in public.

      • And to be clear I do advocate that people that are high risk to get the vax. But people that are vaxxed can still get and spread covid. So, logically, it only makes sense to take the vax for yourself and no one else.

      • Also, this disease is a disease of the sick and elderly. The numbers are out. The US had about a 20 or 25% increase in death by year. Sweden you can hardly even see a bump in excess death. So, the real message people should have been getting was getting healthy. Most of the kids that have died are obese. Many of the adults too. Not to minimize the awfulness of these deaths. But really, what we should be doing is teaching people to get healthy, just like Fauci said before he was politicized about this disease.

        • When you get a few moments, would you mind reading about my friend Gareth Swanepoel?


          I appreciate your time. Thank you.

          • Yes, I remember reading that article when you first wrote it. It is sad. And if you read my comments you can see that I’m not trying to minimize this disease. But I’m also not trying to over blow it like the news stations do. The biggest thing you can do for this disease is getting healthy. If you don’t want to do that then get the vax – but it appears that the vax efficacy doesn’t last that long. So, really, getting healthy is the most important thing. Another person commented here that they are very careful about crowds. That is another approach – that is what I do also.

            But really, here in the US, the biggest thing you can do is get to a healthy wait. Do moderate exercise during the week with occasional more intense exercise. Eat whole healthy foods. And also, follow the NIH’s advice and make sure that your vitamin D, Zinc, and vitamin C levels are in a good range.

            Was your friend overweight or obese? Did he have any other health issues?

            Even with the flu good people die every year – a blog I follow his 20 something year old nephew died of the flu – very sad. We are all mortal. We will all die. We can try to mitigate those risks as best as possible but we have to choose which is more important to us, avoiding danger or living life. It is an individual choice we all must make.

            Like I said, I take precautions. I’ve gotten into better shape and am now no longer overweight and get plenty of exercise. I eat outdoors at restaurants. If I get the sniffles I make sure not to go around people. But I choose not to get the vax as they appear to not work all that well ever a short period and I like having more long term data. Now, if I was in a higher risk category I would definitely take the vax as the tradeoffs would seem fair to me.

            This is all a personal choice everyone must make. It is sad when people die. But that is part of living. We all choose what risks we are willing to take. Sky diving is extremely dangerous. Riding a motorcycle is extremely dangerous. But some people like those risky behaviors. I don’t. They are too risky for me. But I’m not going to stop others from living their lives how they see fit.

          • No, Jon, he was not obese.

            Further suggestions that those who die of COVID are at fault themselves is not a good look for you.

          • Gulema Gerressu
            October 14, 2021 7:17 am

            Jon the best thing you can do to be safest against covid in a short timespan is actually getting vaccinated over getting healthier. Of course getting healthier is very important too but the vaccinations are 85+% effective.

            Some people also have underlying conditions and others are unable to exercise. They can protect themselves by vaccinating themselves but the vaccines are not 100% effective. So until more people get vaccinated and the virus starts spreading less they won’t be safe.

            By vaccinating yourself you are not only protecting yourself but you are protecting the more vulnerable people also. I keep seeing a study cited saying that vaccinated and non vaccinated people who get the virus have similar viral loads however this doesn’t account for the fact that vaccinated people are less likely to get the virus in the first place.

            The vaccine is also not experimental. It has completed all the necessary clinical trials that to the fda require. Any claim that it is experimental is incorrect.

        • I suspect you are committing the just-world fallacy. It’s something people often do when something feels out of their control:

          While it is true that all those things change the odds, the fact is many of the people who have died were perfectly healthy and already did all the things you mentioned.

          To be more blunt: It’s possible to have the perfect exercise and diet, take the vaccine, wear a mask, isolate as much as possible and still be in the wrong place at the wrong time, get the disease and die. Even if you aren’t old.

          The world just isn’t fair.

          • Jon – blaming the victims for being unhealthy is like blaming rape victims for what they wore, and not productive. I see you say how sad it is that people die, but it’s more than “sad” for those suffering the losses.

  • YoureMyFavoriteDBA
    October 13, 2021 4:09 pm

    Wouldn’t bother me a bit. However, masks and vaccines are quickly falling into the “religion and politics” area of discussion. Let’s stick to SQL, please.

    • If you’re trying to tell me what to blog about, I would kindly point you to the close button on your browser. Cheers.

      • YoureStillMyFavoriteDBA
        January 3, 2022 7:24 pm

        You asked our opinion, and we answered. Sorry you didn’t like the answer, boss n

        • No, I didn’t ask for your opinion about what I should blog about. I asked if you were ready to go back to a certain kind of conference.

          It wasn’t that I didn’t like your answer – I didn’t like the fact that you didn’t even read the question.

          Best of luck on your journey.

    • That’s a big problem, it shouldn’t be. It’s a public health issue.

    • @YoureMyFavoriteDBA

      Brent was only talking about health concerns. If someone else wants to read politics or religion into a health issue, then that is, quite literally, their problem. We have to be able talk about a health problem as it relates to technical conferences, even if that health problem has been politicized.

  • I hear you on that one. I get hives going into the grocery store 🙂 I think I’ll wait a bit longer before going to any conferences.

  • TechnoCaveman
    October 13, 2021 4:14 pm

    In my opinion: It really depends on un seen health profile and family experience. How well did a family member tolerate their COVID-19 incident.
    American movie theaters that serve food have been open for months.
    As for vaccine rates – I’m confused. Michigan and other high vaccination states have suffered COVID losses.
    I am ready for conferences to start. Zoom and TEAMS do not allow for side conversations and groups very well.

  • With you 100%

  • Christian Benvenuto
    October 13, 2021 4:15 pm

    Personally I don’t have an issue with wearing a mask and I’m already vaccinated, but something like this wouldn’t prevent me from going to a conference and I wouldn’t wear a mask if it’s not required. It’s your decision to attend\not attend an event.

    • Be careful what you say. You’ll be pointed to the “close” button if you disagree with posters here. That’s the trend in media these days. You are either with us, or you are a threat to society.

      • No, you’ll be pointed to the “close” button if you try to tell me what to blog about.

        Or if you try to twist my words, you’ll also find a one-way trip to Banville. Enjoy the journey.

  • I am sorry for you, that must be very difficult time now. God bless.

    • Christian Benvenuto
      October 13, 2021 9:18 pm

      No, it’s not difficult at all. Like I said, if masks are required I’ll wear one without complaint, if they aren’t required I don’t wear. I’m already vaccinated, so I don’t really even think about covid anymore.

      • Leslie Andrews
        October 14, 2021 12:50 am

        I’m vaccinated and currently quarantined for my birthday, missed a Dave Matthews concert, and going out with a coworker coming through town due to a symptomatic breakthrough infection.

        I have felt bad for days and if this is the “mild” version I feel for those who get the full blown non-vaccinated version.

  • Agree with you 100%. Our software vendor was going to have a small conference this year (limited to 75) in Vegas in Sept, but cancelled (as did my husband and I for vacation, sigh). I work in a place where we all got Moderna in Jan/Feb, and one person caught covid from another vaxxed person, passed it on to another vaxxed person plus 2 young kids. All are OK, thankfully. One good word for Moderna – people don’t wear masks here at work (except me and one other person), there’s lots of 20-somethings who have to be going out, plus parents of young kids, and there hasn’t been any other cases. If someone got it here, it would spread due to how close people need to be at times.

  • Me personally, I’m ready. I’m relatively healthy and my personal risk factors are extremely low given vaccination and known past exposures.

    I also fully respect anyone who wishes to not attend these types of events. I think everyone needs to evaluate their own personal level of acceptable risk, and make decisions based on that.

    It’s no different than database servers… is the data rebuilt from scratch on a regular basis? then I’m probably not going to waste a lot of time on extensive backup schemes and just stick to the basics. Is it mission critical and data loss would cause major harm? Then I’m going to spend more time on replication and backup processes. It’s a matter of evaluating the risk in both situations.

    • If we are insisting on tech metaphors, this is a bad one. A better one would be to compare this to the culture of your IT org.

      Are you successfully embacing a shift-left on security culture at your org? We can talk all day about personal responsibility, but would you, as a DBA, trust the developers to deploy their dynamic SQL to prod without attending any training or demonstrating any sort of awareness about SQL Injection vulnerabilities.

      That small cluster of “rockstar” developers could do a lot of harm very quickly.

  • Robert Sievers
    October 13, 2021 4:30 pm

    I’d have absolutely no problem attending such a conference. I’m vaccinated. If you are scared to attend such a gathering, then by all means don’t do so. COVID isn’t going anywhere. The only way out is for all of us to catch it and get natural immunity. I highly recommend everyone be vaccinated so that the effects will be mitigated when you eventually catch it. But pretending that masks and social distancing are some silver bullet is self deception. It may prolong the inevitable, but it won’t stop it.

    • “It may prolong the inevitable, but it won’t stop it.”

      By that logic, might as well commit suicide and get it over with, right? We’re all gonna die sooner or later.

      That’s an interesting take. I think I’ll let you go first on that one.

      • Robert Sievers
        October 13, 2021 6:00 pm

        Part of the reason this topic has become so heated is because people take an “all or nothing” approach. Life is full of risks, and yes, we are all going to die someday. I take risks, yet I do what I can to mitigate them. Vaccination is an example. But believing that you can cut your risk to zero by forcing everyone else to take the steps that you feel are appropriate is a losing game. Brent, I respect your reasons to stay ultra cautious. Please respect mine for taking a more middle of the road approach.

        • Except you’re *not* doing what you can to mitigate them if you ignore masking.

          I can’t respect your reasons when you say, “I’m doing what I can,” but then you actually don’t do what you can.

        • Scott Buchholz
          October 14, 2021 5:53 pm

          It’s true that we’ll never eliminate the risks of living and I too have no interest in wearing masks once the risk of COVID has reached normal flu levels. But the point of continued masking right now, that so many seem to forget, is that we’re trying to work together to flatten the curve. Yes it’s true that most of us don’t see the direct health impacts of COVID day-to-day, but our healthcare system is very much seeing the impacts and the difficulty in treating non-COVID-related emergencies or even to just get some elective yet important surgery done. Aside from sheer bed space, a burned out doctor or nurse is never a good thing. I’m vaccinated too. And I have very little worry that I’ll get severely sick. But it’s not about me. I can still potentially spread the virus. And I can certainly help set the example for others that we work together. In service of others. Like we did in the military. Like first responders everywhere do.

      • Stephen Price
        October 13, 2021 8:46 pm

        Robert is doing what he “reasonably can” to mitigate the risks.
        His assessment that COVID is endemic and that we will all get it eventually, whether it be via vaccine or natural infection, is quite accurate. Masking and distancing made sense at the beginning of the pandemic. Now that vaccines are available with greater knowledge of the risk categories, it is now time for the off boarding.
        You seem to misunderstand Robert’s line referencing risks and mitigation. Let me give you an example.
        Risk: I am going to a conference with many strangers and finger foods
        What I can to Mitigate: Actions that I can do are ones that I deem appropriate considering the circumstances. The litmus is not what you “feel”.

        It will be challenging for people as they have become hyper-cognizant of health risks that they have actually been living with their whole lives. If everyone wears masks until COVID is gone, then people will wear masks until the end of time. Brent, You fail to be able to argue against his logic, so you attempt to mince his words.

    • Covid can go to somewhere. It can go to the same place that small pox and polio went, after everyone was vaccinated. Look it up. It works.

      • Stephen Daniel Price
        October 13, 2021 8:51 pm

        Sorry Steve. Covid is not the same type of virus as Polio or Small Pox. Look it up. It will most likely continue as many variants such and transmutate into another endimic cold virus just as the Russian Flu of 1889 has done. Polio and Small Pox (fortunately) were not fast mutating strains. The extreme threat of COVID is that it is Novel. As soon as we get either a vaccine or infection, the novel aspect will fall away and we will fight it off as another flu or cold virus year after year. No serious scientist in this world believes it will ever be irradicated. Lok it up

  • I respect each person’s decision. We all need to do what makes sense with our personal risk analysis and comfort level. Personally, I would have no problem attending a conference without masks, that did not require social distancing, and that had finger food available. I would actually skip a conference if I were required to wear a mask all day. That’s just not happening and not worth it to me.

    • Bryan – I also find this really interesting because I do agree that there will be a LOT of people who refuse to attend a conference that requires masking. It’d be a real bummer if the community split into mask-required and mask-optional conferences, because I think it might lead to some disappointing divides in the community.

      It’s going to be a rough couple of years for the conference business, for sure.

  • I have an immunocompromised MIL and a son with asthma. I would love to get back to the old conference scene and, like you, am vaccinated. Yet I’m simply not comfortable with the real and/or perceived risk with a conference without significant (validated vaccine status, mandatory masks, proper air filtration, etc.) safety precautions. There are just too many people out there who have fallen victim to the false perception that the vaccine should be a political football instead of a public health issue.

  • John Ballentine
    October 13, 2021 4:36 pm

    Thank you for this post. It may help some people understand why my wife and I haven’t gone to a restaurant even when places opened up again. We would have to assume that the staff is vaccinated and/or tested, that no one that has come in over the past 14 days wasn’t sick… We are nervous even getting take-out. We do it, but we know we’re playing Russian roulette. Going a vacation/conference to a hotel? Not even a consideration for now.

    Secondly, sorry to be this sort of person. “They’re running around without scissors every day.” Sounds like a good idea to me! 🙂

  • You can keep doing all that if you want – wearing masks, vaccinating, re-vaccinating, scratching your nose with tests everyday, but what you’ve just shown in your post
    is simply called normal life.

    And I am very sure it will return eventually, whether you like it or not. But of course you may keep hiding at home and shaking with fear, if that’s your choice.

    And honestly, Brent, let’s stick back to SQL Server, we’ve had enough of that propaganda pouring out of everywhere.

    • Let’s avoid the “stay in your lane” admonishment. Thanks.

    • I don’t think wearing a mask and getting vaccinated against a worldwide pandemic equates to “hiding at home and shaking with fear”. It’s not one or the other, you know. And from the vids I’ve seen, Brent is def not staying at home shaking with fear ?

    • Honestly, NoFear, let’s stick to letting authors write the content on their blogs they wish to. The option exists not to consume the content if you’re uninterested or of a contrary opinion.

      Brent and I don’t always agree on everything, but just about every blogger would agree that we get to write about the topics we find interesting, informative, and observational; whether you read them or not is where your choice comes into play.

  • I’m with you Brent. I’m bummed out about it, but I’d also rather err on the side of caution.

    That said, virtual conferences aren’t as fun, so I hope we’re able to get back to in-person safely at some point, understanding that everyone has different risk thresholds.

  • Keith Worthington
    October 13, 2021 4:39 pm

    I appreciate your highlighting that it is everyone’s personal decision. I’m ready to attend in person conferences but I’m with you on the slobber guards. I’m not a clean freak but some people could use a class on basic hygiene.

  • Lets go Brandon!

  • Lets go Brent!

  • Dennis Wagner
    October 13, 2021 4:44 pm

    Then throw in Judge Reinhold, ala Seinfeld, as a really close talker – scarier than a Nancy Pelosi Halloween mask! My wife is immuno-deficient, so I have to practice COVID precautions like it’s a religion.

  • James O’Doherty
    October 13, 2021 4:46 pm

    Totally agree. Masks are a simple preventative measure not just for Covid but also for other respiratory illness. People have been wearing masks for years in Asia.

    I’ve never been comfortable with finger food and buffets. I’ve seen enough examples of people not washing their hands and then sticking food in their mouth to make buffets a no-no for me.

  • I enjoyed your take on this very much.

    I’m sad for the folks that perished in the plague worldwide. I’m equally sad for the many millions who contracted COVID-19 and survived because their health may be impaired for many years to come.

    And yet, I’m extremely hopeful that the younger generations will find inspired discoveries to battle plagues, and to battle other global emergencies, and even combat objects in space coming our way.

  • Kendra Little
    October 13, 2021 4:50 pm

    I’ve also been thinking about what my personal “rules of engagement” for events are.

    I really like what KubeCon did (also this week) – https://events.linuxfoundation.org/kubecon-cloudnativecon-north-america/attend/health-and-safety/

    Events may not choose to implement all those protocols, esp smaller events, but I definitely want to know what events are doing in all those areas specifically (vaccination requirements, masks, temp checks, distancing, food safety, sanitization) before I decide to speak or attend in person.

    Thanks for fostering this discussion ??

  • Gordon Feeney
    October 13, 2021 4:53 pm

    In the last couple of months I’ve been to the cinema (twice), several bars and have a wedding reception coming up. I will adhere to the restrictions regarding wearing a mask on the way to my seat or table but I wouldn’t have attended those places if I had to wear a mask throughout. I’d rather not go. So i for one would be happy to go maskless inside the conference space. I would probably avoid finder food though.

    We are now (mostly) vaccinated – if you’re not you’re on you’re own – and I have a boster coming up so I now intened to live as normal a life as possible.

  • Adam Machanic
    October 13, 2021 4:55 pm

    Finger food sans tongs — hell, maybe even with the tongs — was gross since forever. Too many people don’t feel the need to wash their hands. (And no, smearing some hand sanitizer all over your fecal-coated fists doesn’t make me feel any better. Alcohol-spiced dung is still dung.)

    As for the masks at larger gatherings, I’m a bit on the fence at this point about whether or not I’d go for it, but I will point out that I’ve gotten a cold at just about every conference I’ve ever attended. So I’d say that masks certainly wouldn’t hurt, now and forever. Speaking to an audience of masked people, though, does sound less than appealing. (For the same reason that I’ve never loved doing webcasts.)

  • TryingToBeAnAdult
    October 13, 2021 4:56 pm

    I don’t understand all the resistance to suggestions for practicing what amounts to good hygiene and thoughtfulness for others. Is it because they come from government? I do understand mistrust in that case because regardless of who’s there, there seems to be a continual lust to take more / control more. But this isn’t about that. it’s about taking care of each other so that we all make it another year. Why is that so hard for people? There wouldn’t be any controversy if we just took care with each other.

  • Imagine all these lovely people on the conference wearing a seat belt… will it be a drivers club?

  • That this is even a remotely controversial post is rather telling about the current state of affairs. Brent’s posting about what *his personal* amount of acceptable risk is and is, I presume, attempting to informally gauge where others are at right now, after having seen video evidence of behavior he personally would not want to engage in.

    Yes, this is absolutely relevant to SQL Server and the broader IT community. In-person conferences are resuming in the middle of a pandemic. If you have an employer who likes sending its employees to conferences, you’re going to have decisions to make. Sure, there’s always some sort of risk involved with attending a conference, but it’s typically not something you consciously think about (unless perhaps you have an aversion to flying). The equation has now changed, and you have a new factor to consider (or not, as it seems is the case with some, but that doesn’t change the reality of the situation).

    I, personally, do not see myself attending an in-person conference again. They weren’t my thing to begin with, but I suffered them because I did gain knowledge, and networked and all that jazz. Now that I’m more informed about how airborne transmission of respiratory viruses works, the idea of spending an hour or two in an overcrowded, small room with people from all over the globe is possibly the least appealing thing I can think of. This is not just about SARS-CoV2 — I haven’t had so much as a cold in almost two years, which, for me anyway, is novel. As a fellow asthmatic, I would not all mind keeping that streak going.

  • To me it’s all about your own personal perspective. My wife and daughter got VERY sick, my wife’s Mom DIED and I spent weeks in the hospital with Covid AND we were very careful, gloves, masks barely going out. This was a year ago. As I waited in the rain on my front lawn for the ambulance folks to prep to allow me in, there was a demonstration down the road in my town protesting masks. So, now over a year, still with lasting lung damage, I don’t want to “force” anyone to do anything BUT, I’ve been through the gauntlet and so has my family. All I can say is, if you want to pretend this is NOTHING, then you are rolling the dice….and if the dice come up snake eyes for you, it’s TOO LATE. I do EVERYTHING I can, including vaccine (made me very sick again both shots for 3 solid days, but I’d do it again and I will again with the booster when it’s approved — Moderna), wearing a mask and avoiding people as best I can. I DO NOT WANT THIS AGAIN! Frustrating to me all the fighting about everything associated with this situation. I’m lucky….I lived.

  • BigStrongDude
    October 13, 2021 5:13 pm

    Yesterday I was in an elevator with 3 other people and I ripped a sour ipa beer fart from the party the night before. It was silent and it was deadly. All of us acknowledge the foul smell with our groans and uneasiness.
    I was wearing underwear and jeans and we were all masked.
    Somehow that smell made it past all of it and went right into everyone’s olfactory!
    Call it redneck science, but I’m pretty sure that the bat flu virus is smaller than ass gas!
    Maybe mask dont really work.

    • You’re exactly the kind of person that I’m concerned about when it comes to conferences.

    • Argenis Fernandez
      October 13, 2021 5:29 pm

      @BigStrongDude Yeah, you definitely don’t understand how masks work and how they help with COVID-19 and other diseases. Please stick to real science, not redneck science.

      • BigStrongDude
        October 13, 2021 5:50 pm

        The mask works like my fruit of the looms, it will keep your face from getting speckled, but it wont keep you from tasting the sourness of the night before.

        • So by that logic, we shouldn’t even bother with underwear?

          You’re losing here, man, not winning. May wanna take a break from the keyboard and think for a while.

          • Wait, you guys are still wearing underwear? Next youll be telling me you still use deoderant!

            @bigstongdude, you are expecting too much of your underpants. There is a next level of ppe: diapers.

    • It’s probably a profound error to assume good faith here, but you should actually look into relative sizes of particles perceived as smells (like, for instance, sulfur dioxide) and respiratory viruses (as well as the larger aerosols they are often attached to). Yes, you can absolutely smell things through a good (eg N95) mask.

      • Scott Buchholz
        October 14, 2021 6:08 pm

        Ahh redneck science. As a former redneck I too was a believer, until I went to college. Redneck science would have us believe that throwing more memory at a query, even when it doesn’t need it is better, right? More memory means faster! Thankfully we all have the option of embracing that we don’t know what we don’t know and we have excellent resources like Brent to teach us.

    • >> I’m pretty sure that the bat flu virus is smaller than ass gas!

      You have your facts ass-basckwards (pardon the pun). Covid-19 is 0.1 microns wide. Methane (CH4) has a Kinetic diameter (pm) of 380, i.e. 0.00038 microns. That is a gigantic difference in scale and size. I postulate that your sour IPA driven ass gas theory is all HOT AIR.

      Have a look at Dunning–Kruger effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

      The resemblance is uncanny.

  • I would have trouble enjoying it with a mask on, but that just means I prefer not to go to any event like this until COVID is finished.

    No conference is important enough.

    Requiring proof of vaccination would be a good start. But I’d have to fly in so the airline would have to require proof of vaccination as well. And then I’d be in a city maybe full of people who aren’t vaccinated, and so it would still be too dangerous.

    Fingers crossed it’s gone one day. I can wait a few more years.

  • Those people in the conference are the ones that asked if I can run a SQL Server database without a transaction log.

  • It’s been a weird, weird couple years!

    While I think you could make a rational case that COVID is respiratory / airborne, and the finger food is less specifically relevant to its spread, we’re pretty much done with buffets, almost like something changed in our brains where we were in denial of how (potentially) gross they are and 2020 snapped us out of it…

    There’s also a big introverted part of me not ready for the “everyone shouting at everyone in a poorly ventilated room” extroversion extravaganza that I remember from conferences. It’s been nice having a good reason (not that one really needs one) to avoid it anyway.

    There is a huge sense of denial in parts of the population that I saw creeping out at various times over the course of the pandemic. People just get tired, and give up…want things to be back to normal, and I think mentally backfill the justifications (thank you Youtube “research”). Stoic endurance and what the Finns call “sisu” has not been something on great display lately, sadly.

    BTW I laughed at “You’ve done your own research”, of COURSE stated without ANY irony whatsoever, right? 😉

    Cheers and enjoy socially distancing from the USA at your new place in Cabo! 😀

  • Jennifer Stirrup
    October 13, 2021 5:44 pm

    I wish I could ‘like’ some of these comments. I feel safer at virtual events because:

    – I believe that there is reduced harassment and bullying at virtual events which is why we need a CoC in the first place! People don’t always behave well and we can’t expect good behavior at physical events.
    – People have different standards of hygiene and different views on COVID. I respect other people’s rights to have an opinion, but I am not taking COVID home because of their right to hold opinions. We need to respect one another and that involves empathy and respect, but also the right to look after ourselves and loved ones.
    – I have lost people to COVID. It is a horrible, horrible way to die, and it hits people at their physically weak points. If your lungs are weak, it is going to hit you there. If your immune system is weak (Multiple sclerosis, or other invisible conditions), it is going to hit you there. Weak heart? COVID is after that. My Dad fought cancer and was going through chemotherapy during the lockdown – but he obeyed the rules, being appreciative of the science and healthcare professionals and their endeavors to save him, and he did everything they asked.

    I delivered a panel session at DTX360 where all the panelists sat away from each other at a healthy distance. The event strongly recommended we all masked up, and provided First Aid points if you developed a sudden temperature or felt unwell. https://dtxevents.io/europe/en/page/covid-19-guidance This is a good community model. They did not provide food, but the venue vendors made sure that everything was done at a distance for their staff as well as visitors.
    I’m not some scaredy-cat. I’ve seen the evidence, the deaths, the illness, and the tragedy that COVID brings. I am not wreaking that on myself or anyone else. I am risk-averse and cautious and it serves me well. I am looking after you as well as me and my family. Our event conference venues are empty because of the love that we are showing for one another. As for getting back to normal, I’m happy to wait.

  • I 100% agree with your notion to not be in a crowded room with maskless people. I, for one, have no plans to be in a crowed room with masked people anytime soon. We are pretty lucky in our line of work that we can afford to do that in most cases. I do have concern that at some point I/we may be doing more harm than good with regard to our bodies ability to fight germs and disease long term (likely only true for the vaccinated and healthy)… but still.

  • Adrian Sanchez
    October 13, 2021 5:49 pm

    A majority of them are probably vaccinated. At some point, most of us, have to be ready to see each others faces again and accept this dangerous world.

    • A majority of people driving on the road aren’t drunk. And even if they were, chances are they won’t hit YOU. And if they do and you drive a big healthy truck, you probably won’t get hurt that bad. So we should accept them, let them make their own choice, and accept this dangerous world.

  • Dave Machanick
    October 13, 2021 6:12 pm

    I am in good health eat well, and exercise.
    I have also had 2 Pfizer shots and thinking about getting a booster soon.
    i think people going to conferences are nuts – which now include Microsoft conferences – one big one going on right now in Houston for Microsoft Dynamics users.
    Personally, I am still masking, working remote and using takeout, deliveries and curbside for everything.
    One day this will all be over, and I hope my family and I will be there to see it and enjoy it.

    • To be fair, that Dynamics conference in Houston is not organized by Microsoft–it just uses the Microsoft name because it’s about Microsoft technology. Microsoft-run conferences remain online only, in recognition of the ongoing pandemic.

  • I will not be attending in-person conferences again, perhaps ever. The air filtration systems are just not up to the task and outside of Asian nations, I do not see sufficient people wearing masks or taking them seriously enough. I am old (54) and fat (220 lbs), so am concerned about devastating illness. I had a mild case of Alpha that stuck around for six weeks following a business trip to Boston in early March 2020. I got fully vaccinated with Moderna this spring and attended a business event mid-summer. Although it was outdoors, people didn’t wear masks and spoke loudly face to face. Seven days later I got Delta. It was a blissfully mild case that lasted three days, and I’m certain the vaccine is the reason I barely noticed it. I don’t want this again, or any new variety of it. I agree completely with Brent.

  • I feel you, man. I’m asthmatic myself and my sister works in a hospital so I hear tales. DO NOT WANT.

  • Uhg, let’s keep the posts about SQL Server please…

    • Blogging about SQL Server conferences has always made up a pretty significant amount of content on this blog. Searching for “conference” pulls back 16 pages of results.

      In fact, when it comes to SQL Server conferences, Brent pretty clearly qualifies as an expert.

      …Or do you just not agree with him & don’t want to be exposed to things with which you disagree?

  • (redacted)

  • Thanks for posting this, Brent. I really appreciate bloggers who recognize that life is a complicated mix of issues, and issues of global importance (like a pandemic affecting every aspect of our interpersonal communication) are inextricably linked to our lives as technology professionals. Thank you for continuing to share about all sorts of topics that affect our lives.

  • Yup, 100%. Masks are required at my local grocery and hardware stores (the only places I really go), so this “open maskless social eating and mingling” just seems so foreign to me right now. I’m sure in time I can adjust, but I need more time.

  • Maybe this is a good use case for augmented reality? Not sure about holographic finger food though…

  • I totally agree with you Brent.

    Many people don’t understand that we wear masks not for our own safety but to protect others, in case we have an asymptomatic COVID.

    For those who says that wearing a mask is too much of inconvenience, have a look at YouTube lecture from Harvard by David Malan – CS50 2021 – Lecture 6 – Python
    If he can talk for over three hours wearing properly fitted mask, it shouldn’t be a problem for most of us.

    “Show you care for your fellow colleagues, classmates, family, and friends, and help hold each other accountable. Please be patient if someone makes a mistake. We are all learning to adapt to new habits. As we confront the pandemic with tenacity and resolve, we must remember to be kind.”
    Quote from Harvard website

  • I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. Even before the apocalypse of 2020, I would’ve been a bit hesitant about a conference with that much finger food and no protections; it just seems like an unnecessary risk to me. On the other hand, I regularly go to Universal Orlando (which doesn’t require masks) and Disney World (which requires masks indoors but also packs people in tight places), and I recently went on a cruise. My level of acceptable risk is higher. Then again, I’ve been vaccinated since September 2020 and received my Pfizer booster about a month ago. I wear a mask when required, and I don’t argue with people about masks because it’s a lose-lose scenario, and at this point nobody is changing their mind. I did appreciate the precautions onboard the cruise and felt safer as a result. The buffets had the crew doing the serving and there was a definite separation between vaccinated (about 99% of passengers, 100% of crew). Each to their own, as you’ve said.

  • Week after next we are being forced back into the office to aid “collaboration” and they have taken all COVID measures yadda yadda yadda -however they are based in a city centre with no parking and the only real way in is to use the railway which is packed with commuters. My wife and I do isolate- we’re both in the mid 50’s and the closest I get to a racing snake nowadays is to compare me to a boa constrictor after it has eaten a cow. My wife cares for people with life limiting issues etc and has been triple jabbed

    Unfortunately, it is a case of I will have to – I am busy trying to find a new job with remote working

    UK based if anybody knows of anything

  • I am also high risk, so I’m not going to anyplace indoors (outside my bubble of dwelling units) that isn’t requiring proof of vaccination and ENFORCING masking. If there is a low density of people relative to the amount of air space/circulation, I can be OK with only ENFORCED masking. I haven’t been to a movie or the gym or eaten inside a restaurant since Feb. 2020. I’d love to go back to in-person events, but not while the daily new case rate is anywhere near this high and people are taking their masks off.

  • Thank you, Brent for this timely discussion. It’s unfortunate that masking and vaccination has become such a political issue. I feel sorry for the people who are against masks and vaccination because they believe politicians without questioning them why they took the vaccination before telling public.
    We should look at the big picture that by wearing mask and vaccination we are not only protecting ourselves but we are protecting our families, our communities, our country (saving from both health care expenses and economic recovery), and the world. This impacts everyone and everything. Unless we all take this global view we are not going to get out of this virus including people like you and me who are taking all measures to stay safe and healthy. People who say this is my constitutional right not to wear mask or take vaccination ok then it’s also not their constitutional right to put others at risk to get/give virus.

    • Sarita – you’re welcome. I’m bummed out too that it’s become so political. I don’t understand why folks want to inject politics into a science discussion. Imagine if we had this happen every time we talked about science – “Hey, no, listen, I’m from the ___ party, and we firmly believe Pluto has the right to life.”

      • Gulema Gerressu
        October 14, 2021 7:32 am

        The funny thing is that it’s the people who say that we shouldn’t politicise this are the people who are in fact politicising this. Your blog post doesn’t even have a hint of politics on it.

  • When I started reading this post I disagreed with you. Somewhere in the middle and then towards the end I am now totally in agreement with you. I get it I’m with ya, I respect it.

  • I appreciate and agree with your stance on this. Although it’s turned into a political issue, indoor mask-wearing is common sense. I like your analogy of the seat belt. However, unlike not wearing a seat belt, by not mask-wearing people have the ability to seriously harm strangers. As a society, we’ve come to realize and generally agree that secondhand smoke is bad for others and there are laws in place so that we don’t need to be subjected to it. My hope is that one day we’ll come to the same general consensus about the pandemic too. It’s one thing to not care if someone wants to do something that might harm themselves, but where it crosses the line for me is when it has the ability to directly affects others too.

  • Ronald Dameron
    October 14, 2021 1:51 am

    I too cannot give you a date when I will visit a crowded indoor venue again.
    I’ve done a few Disney cruises. It will be a LONG time before I do another one.
    I’ve let my Disney World annual pass expire.
    I’d love to see the new Bond movie or Dune or the next Marvel movie in a theater but given the state of affairs here in Floriduh, who knows?
    Thankfully, I have been able to continue to play softball two nights a week.
    I haven’t had any issues as long as I stay outdoors. I get to work remote 100%.
    I am fully vaccinated.
    I mask up in the grocery store and Costco. It’s far easier than the mask I wore for chemical warfare training in the USAF.
    C’mon people, wear a mask and get vaccinated.
    It’s still scary. My wife is a teacher and because of our moron governor, masks are not required in schools.
    This won’t end until the majority of people starting thinking about the common good.
    I think in-person conferences are like playing Russian Roulette right now. Not interested.
    Thank you for this post.

    • Ron! Good to hear from you. I really miss cruises, too. I stare at the cruise ships leaving out of San Diego, and I would loooove to get on one, but…not yet.

    • Well said Ronald. I just got the booster because I have to fly to FL to visit my parents and with the state of things there I wanted to take as few chances as I could. Its mind boggling why masks have become the epicenter of the culture wars but here we are.

  • A_Lonely_Lowly_DBA
    October 14, 2021 1:51 am

    Ok, I wouldn’t normally get involved with a blog post like this, but I’m gonna.

    First, please read fully before passing judgment. I am not vaccinated, but I’m not anti-vaccine (just got the flu vaccine last week, even though I don’t typically/annually, and had a reaction that has lasted more than 7 days; I’ve always had reactions to vaccines, thankfully never to the extent of anaphylaxis). I don’t wear a mask because between my asthma mixed with my general anxiety and my fear of drowning/being suffocated, I cannot last in a mask for more than about 15 minutes without going into a panic attack. I’ve tried multiple times, and I’ve practiced, but never get past about 15 minutes. So for me, this has been very difficult for almost two years. I am also very much at high-risk health-wise (some by my own doing, or lack thereof, and some through heredity).

    I don’t want Covid, and I don’t want people to die from it either. I don’t even deny its severity. However, I’ve just had to look at the fact that it’s a risk I have and I have to be careful. And that includes being careful of others. So, for the last two years, I simply don’t go to anything indoors. My wife and I have all of our groceries delivered. We’ve had our medicines delivered. We’ve had our clothes delivered. I’ve worked from home since the beginning and I’m continuing to work from home even now. All of my doctor’s visits have been telemedicine, and blood work and labs have been done from a car with a provider who knows and works with me since I struggle.

    Luckily for me, choices like vacations, etc. are still ok because I never went anywhere crowded or fun (according to most). My wife and I actually go to the mountains with no one else around and anything we do is outdoors and away from people (was that way before Covid, and will likely always be that way). I haven’t done any form of conference or gathering for work since 2011. And that conference was only my second ever. Never liked the crowds. Before Covid, I couldn’t even go into a city because I hate them. The sounds on the streets are too loud, the smog bothers my asthma. Looking up at buildings made me motion sick. It’s probably ironic, but I was born and raised in a city, and as soon as I was 24 I moved away from the city. I may actually avoid cities more than I try to avoid Covid to be honest. So in many ways, the way I was before Covid is really still who I am and hasn’t really changed me.

    Please understand. I’m not against masks, and I’m not against people wearing them. I’m not against vaccines, but knowing how I react to them and knowing that the reactions for most have been worse from these, I’m not ready to eat that bullet. I still live my life, and I respect others living theirs. And if there was a place I’d be comfortable going, but knew others would be there, then I’d just stay home so as not to give anyone a feeling when they see me without and so that I don’t get it from anyone there.

    • You’ve got a lot of words in there, but help me out: the question in the post was, are you ready to go to a maskless indoor conference and eat finger foods?

      I get the feeling from your words that the answer is no, but that you just wanted to get a lot of other things off your chest. Can you do me a favor and sum it up by answering the question? Thanks.

      • A_Lonely_Lowly_DBA
        October 14, 2021 2:18 am

        Brent – Understand, and that propbably was me just getting a lot off my chest.

        The answer is no, but not for any of the reasons mentioned (Covid or the thoughts of getting sick). I guess I didn’t just sum it this way because that would make people think I was automatically “against masks” or a “Covid denier.” Sometimes keeping it too simple leads people to formulate opinions without actually have more information. We all do that; formulate our thoughts/opinions sometimes without all the info. That’s why we come to you … so you can point out our lack of understanding with MSSQL and enlighten us with the information. In the end, it’s all to make us better, not worse off. But admittedly, I’m sure no one cared to read my message and I’m sure everyone who comes here wants to read yours…. lol.

        Thanks Brent.

        • Your post was read, my friend. I’m not normally one to dispense advice, or generally to even post a comment, but I guess I’ll make a second exception today. Given the handle you chose to post with, and some of the things you’ve said, I daresay your extreme isolation seems to be taking a toll on your mental well being.

          Have you talked to your doctor about your concerns over your potential reaction to the vaccination? It sounds to me like you might want it, but that you need to have your concerns allayed first.

          You probably will have some sort of reaction, most do, but ask yourself, what’s worse, a day or two of feeling a bit lousy, or continuing to suffer in total isolation (with the additional bonus of potentially coming own with Covid anyway despite your precautions, which would almost certainly be worse than whatever reaction you might have to the vaccine)? I realize I’m making assumptions here, but people who tend to spew their guts out on the internet like this are often unconsciously asking for help.

          Take care!

          • A_Lonely_Lowly_DBA
            October 14, 2021 4:04 am

            Thanks for reading, David. I appreciate that. I agree that it is somewhat a rant because of isolation.
            I’m certainly not one who likes big crowds, etc., so for conferences, I’m ok with not going.

            I think the real issue is that I have consulted with my Doctor and they don’t recommend I get the vaccine because of the issues. I know it might sound personal, but the flu vaccine ended up with me having a high fever for over 7 days along with lots of the other typical symptoms. The doctor even thought I might have had Covid due to the severity of the symptoms, but all of tests came back negative.

            For me, the real struggle has been that conversations like this often, and maybe not intentionally, put me in a basket/camp of being an anti-vaxer or against masks. The comments I got from friends and family because I wouldn’t go out to a restaraunt, etc. I’ve lost many friends and colleuges since they placed me in that camp. If I could get the vax without potentially serious issues, I would. If I coud wear a mask, I would, but even that has been a challenge.

            I do think I’ve been isolated, just not like the majority of the conversation, and that is, I think, why I wanted to share. Because there are some people who can’t, for actual reasons, not just because they want their “freedom” or “disbelief.” And the possibility of losing my job over the vaccine mandate while I work 100% remotely scares me as I’m not on Brent’s level with the ability to simply retire. And truthfully, I’m even more scared that I’d have a difficulty finding a job if I were dismissed since most places are picking up on the mandate. That … that … is what scares me and honestly, could take me to dark places.

            So yes, I guess I am making a cry out, but not in the way most would look at it.

            Thanks for at least readin! I appreciate it.

  • Yikes, my long comment got lost.

    I work for a pretty big health system. By the end of April 2020 we had 10,000 inpatient admissions and 2,500 deaths. I was asked to write a report showing off-label presciptions for covid, so that corporate could come down on the doctors who were doing it.

    The problem was, our data showed that many of those medications worked. Our data corroberates the Henry ford study:


    When I brought this up, I was taken off the covid team. By the end of May 2020, patients had all but stopped dying from covid at our hospitals. There were several months in the summer of 2020 where we had zero patient deaths from covid. It didn’t seem worth getting fired over – the doctors had figured it all out by themselves.

    I’m very sorry about your friend – if you got covid in Jan 2020, and you had even one or two health conditions, your chances weren’t good. If we knew then what we know now, maybe he could have lived.

    These sort of decisions must be a personal choice. If you are not comfortable, no explanation is needed. It’s a conference, not a battlefield. However, I would encourage people to live their lives normally.

  • I live in Melbourne where everything is still shut, we have had the longest lockdown in the world and I cannot wait to escape.. but no, I am not comfortable with this.

    I am fully vaccinated but the thought of being a room with a large number of people still makes me feel pretty nervous. Each to their own but I will be taking any social activity pretty slowly, happy when I can sit in a large space outside with a few close friends who I know do the right thing.

  • Thierry Van Durme
    October 14, 2021 5:58 am

    Don’t forget what a famous man once said: Belgium is a hellhole…

  • Personally, I think vaccination is like a seatbelt… wearing a mask when you’re vaccinated is like wearing a helmet when driving a car. it’ll be good if we can scientifically calculate the risk and benefit of wearing mask after vaccination, accurately.

    But, it’s a personal choice, if you’re happy to keep wearing mask, as long as we don’t start forcing people to wear mask.

    • Bingo. People use the seatbelt analogy because it’s something simple which everyone does. But the reality is the seatbelt is there to save you – just like the vaccine. The mask is a personal comfort blanket which makes you feel more protected, just like a crash helmet would.

      I wonder if people who believe we must wear masks for the rest of our days, even ride the bus or the subway? And if they do, do they bring their own bungee cords so that they can feel like they’re wearing a seatbelt?

  • Brian Robertson
    October 14, 2021 7:00 am

    I agree. I’m not keen to join big gatherings of people, especially if precautions aren’t being adhered to. COVID is still with us and vaccines only give a degree of protection at the moment.

  • Simon Richardson
    October 14, 2021 8:37 am

    It saddens me when many see other people’s fears and anxiety as a mandate or a challenge to their personal freedoms and choices. I am fully in the same camp as @Brent I would not choose to attend such a conference, but then again, I never attended many before C19 because I have a mental health issues and crowded spaces are often a trigger. That said my biggest anxiety is the areas where I have no choice; because unlike those who do have the option to go mask less, to not Vax; If work says you must come into the office, or I must go somewhere that is unavoidable; I can’t refuse simply because others exercise their freedoms. I truly wish our lives were not being tormented by these situations and please understand I am NOT trying to debate the ‘if one person’s freedoms infringe on another’s they really free’ I am, like others like me, simply asking for some understanding and compassion, this is not wrong or right it’s about caring about others even if their view is not aligned with our own.

  • Each to their own, but I wouldn’t feel happy or safe in that environment.

  • Leonardo Carneiro
    October 14, 2021 11:50 am

    Well, I live in Brazil. I’m just fucked.

  • I live in Belgium and have friends who participated in this event. A small country divided in 3 regions. First region “A”, with almost all the population vaccinated and COVID controlled. Second region “B”. Not even 50% of the population vaccinated, COVID controlled?! The third region is so small that nobody cares. So region “A”doesn’t use masks anymore, no distancing measures. Region “B” has distancing measures + masks + COVID Save … no one uses them.The 9 ministers of health in Belgium do not understand that a virus do not respect borders.
    With this I work from home, watch Brent videos 😀 Eating Doritos with my fingers clean 😀

  • With you Brent. No masks and shared food platters? No way. Dozens of comments telling you to: “stay in your lane” or downplaying the seriousness of contracting COVID or complete misinformation about how the virus spreads. These are more reasons for me to not attend conferences with people who aren’t taking things seriously, who are flippant, who are ignorant, or those who are selfish enough not to respect the health of others.

    Love your blog and your attitude. Cheers.

    • “Respects the health of others”

      My health is my problem. Your health is your problem. If standing next to people who breathe normally is such a problem for you, or being around people who will not participate in a pharmaceutical experiment is a problem for you, it is your right to choose not to associate with those people.

      • The only difficulty with this occurs when your ill-health is my problem because you took up the hospital bed my child needed for a burst appendix etc. If there are enough of you, no beds remain and health-care services fail. Now your choice is directly impacting me and my health.

        Or . . . my normal breathing next to you kills you because surprise! you’re susceptible to the disease and either I’m not or not taken down fast enough to prevent me from being there. Obviously, if either of us are worried about it, we don’t have to stand there, but suppose we don’t have a choice. I may be your co-worker, or grocer, or dentist, or taxi driver, etc. Suppose you and I ride in the same elevator. One of us can stand at the bottom all day waiting for an empty one, or you and I could both care about one another enough to vaccinate and mask up. The Pfizer vaccine is now fully FDA approved according to all standards. Nothing about it is experimental or on an emergency basis any longer. To each his own only works if we are all hermits.

        Considering Brent’s question on conferences, I anticipate that people who aren’t worried about catching or spreading anything will go, and people who are fully vaccinated and also un-worried will go. The others will skip it, so in-person conference numbers are not likely to return to what they once were, for years or ever, but I don’t think the community will divide into safe conferences and not. I just don’t think safe in-person conferences are possible or desired by a sufficient chunk of the community. I think a percentage of people will simply attend remotely or not at all, which sucks. The experience is nowhere near as good. Perhaps technology will assist there with VR and other possibilities to improve virtual gatherings.

        • [redacted]

          • James, we’re going to refrain from personal insults and attacks here. I do appreciate your comments, but I’m putting your ability to comment on hold here. When you get a chance, drop me an email at brento@brentozar.com and we can talk about reinstating that. Thanks for understanding.

          • Scott Buchholz
            October 14, 2021 5:19 pm

            Not cool James. Do you treat your co-workers this way? Anne very rightly pointed out the deep flaws in your thinking that you live in a bubble and your actions don’t directly impact others. And then you decided to make a thinly veiled personal attack. We expect more from grown-ups in this professional forum.

          • The FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine on August 23, 2021 (https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-covid-19-vaccine).

            I don’t use twitter. COVID-19 is now the number 1 cause of death for 35 to 54 year olds. COVID-19 has killed more Americans than WWII or the 1918 Spanish flu (and all other pandemics).

            If sufficient obesity related hospitalizations were filling all ICU beds the way COVID-19 is, then we could talk about additional public health initiatives to reduce or eliminate that. Meanwhile, unvaccinated people with COVID-19 are the cause of our failing healthcare in several states.

  • Scott Buchholz
    October 14, 2021 4:32 pm

    As a Desert Storm vet I’m used to following rules in service of others and since masking and vaccination are as much about protecting others as they are about “personal” protection I willingly do both. Masking is a pain but I feel it’s a very small sacrifice to make for the sake of others. It used to be this persective was honorable but too often these days it seems it’s taken a back seat to self-centered behavior in the name “freedom”. It also baffles me how so much can be made of not forgetting the roughly 3000 Americans that died on 9/11 however 700k+ Americans dead due to a pandemic (over 4.5 million people worldwide) is apparently a big nothingburger. I find these perspectives to be decidedly un-American (un-Human really).

    • Scott Buchholz
      October 14, 2021 4:47 pm

      And I guess to more clearly answer the question…I think until COVID cases and deaths drop to “normal” annual Flu levels we should not be having in-person conferences or stop doing all the other things we can to limit the spread.

    • Well put Scott. I’m a DBA with an RN license, not ready to go back to conferences with no masking. I’ve lost and nearly lost several friends/relatives this year. Just had another friend in a car accident with a brain bleed that couldn’t be taken to the nearest hospital because it was too full with Covid cases. It really is a small sacrifice to wear a mask for most of us. I’ve helped with vaccination efforts in addition to my day job – military members coming through clinic always had your great attitude. Thanks!

  • I agree 100% Brent. If I saw this I’d do the same thing – turn around and leave immediately.

  • I didn’t like people even before Covid… I like it much much less now 😀

  • Thanks for speaking up on this, Brent. Miss you both, and hope you’re well!

    I’m not ready either. And we didn’t like people before Covid either lol.

    I like how Kendra said “defining rules of engagement”. We have two kids under 4 and don’t want to put them at risk. We had to make hard decisions to step outside of a bubble, and put the kids in fulltime daycare. Already, we’ve had to keep 3yo home because of a positive COVID case, testing was optional, and the baby was eligible to still attend. We’re both vaxxed, but Leif is higher risk by age.

    Now we’re in Florida, and there’s an in-person conference coming. I thought initially, “oh great way to network locally”, but I also believe that things will never go fully back to normal and wasn’t interested in risking my family (and others) just to network. I can do that virtually if I really try, but it isn’t as easy I agree.

    I’ve been doing online groceries and food delivery since before COVID because kids and full-time job, and don’t ever see that ending lol. We wear masks and limit involvement with everything. The only exceptions we’ve made is we do eat out at restaurants occasionally, if there is outdoor seating. I did check out a gym, but the class was way too full and I can’t bring myself to go back.

    The one thing I think wasn’t addressed, which is not valid excuse to stop taking precautions, but is valid for impact on folks who may jump at chances like this – pandemic fatigue. We have no family or friends within 2000+ miles to us, and we’re raising 2 kids alone. None of my family or friends have met my daughter. And yet, there is still this push to keep doing as much as possible (working, etc.) without help. And we’re some of the privileged to be able to make these choices. There are so many that can’t take extra precautions (like remote work) because they are front-line workers and HAVE to have kids in daycare, with limited support so may have to take what is available – but that’s a different topic too.

    • Hey, good to hear from you, and hope y’all are well!

      Yeah, I totally agree about pandemic fatigue. I know it’s real, especially for extroverts who are desperate for the human contact. I’m okay staying at home longer for now, but I do miss it too.

  • Outstanding post Brent. Agree on all points!

    P.S. I got my Pfizer booster shot yesterday. No side effects and I feel like a million dollars. My mRNA level now goes to 11! I have a family member that refused the vaccine, got really sick then complained about how painful the remdesivir shots were. Once I knew she’d pull through I gave her hell about not getting the vax and told her, “hey my jab felt like a tickle”. You can lead a horse to water….

  • Richard Benner
    October 17, 2021 10:59 pm

    I used to love conferences but I’m of the same opinion as you and won’t be returning any time soon. I’m double vaxxed and wear a mask, but I’ve got 2 children under the age of 10 who can’t get vaccinated. I’m not going to risk their health either by my direct actions or by the proxy actions of somebody who thinks that their health is more important than anybody else’s. It’s just not worth the risk. If they’re able to get vaxxed at some point then I might consider returning, but that’s not likely to be until after 2022.

    I honestly don’t understand how this has become such a controversial subject to talk about. Some people really just don’t like being told what to do I suppose. It’s frustrating because in countries that take precautions, even ones more heavily populated than the US (looking at you, Japan) the virus has dropped down to basically nothing. One of the main differences being that people just wear masks without complaining.

    Imagine being one of the countries with the largest and most advanced pharmaceutical industries with very easy access to a vaccine that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and still refusing to take it. Mind boggling.

  • Nelson Petersen
    October 21, 2021 11:27 am

    Richard Benner, I don’t know you, but I’m quite sure you didn’t mean to say that the USA has “very easy access to a vaccine that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.”
    I strongly suspect you intended to say something along the lines of “… a vaccine that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.”
    (My apologies if I’m putting words in your mouth.)

    As DBAs, we pay attention to data and details. Sometimes we even notice when these are missing.

    I agree with many of you and am not prepared to resume attending conferences.
    We know that all viruses spread by travel. I might change my mind eventually, but at this point, I’m not going to travel to meet with other travelers.
    I live in an area where local travel was severely restricted while international travel was allowed to continue, so I could be more biased than some of you.

    I pay attention to the science. I’ve noticed the pattern that it takes time for science to figure out the harmful effects of technologies and materials.
    Sometimes it does that quickly. Sometimes it takes decades.

    • Nelson Petersen
      October 21, 2021 11:34 am

      There was a phrase omitted from my reply:
      The sentence,
      “I strongly suspect you intended to say something along the lines of “… a vaccine that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.” ”
      should have read
      “I strongly suspect you intended to say something along the lines of “… a vaccine that drastically reduces the severity of a disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.””

      The phrase “that drastically reduces the severity of a disease” was dropped because I had tried to highlight it with angle brackets and apparently those are special characters. (I’m reluctant to use them now.)


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