Humor writer and Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist Dave Barry inspired SAS Global Forum attendees during his keynote presentation at the Technical Session.
Dave Barry introduced his topic: “High-speed access to DBMS data using SAS 9.1.3 Data Engines”
No, that wasn’t it. He just plucked that from the schedule.
Then he started with an honest statement: he had never heard of the SAS Global Forum. So he went to the Internet to do some research. And do you know what he found? He found “that there is a lot of pornography on the Internet.”
When Dave was sitting backstage listening to the technical demos, he was really intimidated that the audience probably understood all of these technical terms that were being used. He gleaned from the presentations one really good word that, if you are in business today, you should use whenever possible. That word is “algorithm”.
If your boss asks you to do something, and you aren’t sure how to do it, just say something like “well, we’d have to build an algorithm for that.” It works against managers like garlic works against vampires.
Dave admits, “I’m not a computer expert. But I do use a computer. I have a computer that informs me, regularly, that I have unused items on my desktop.” Not quite sure what to do about that.
Dave spent some time talking about where he lives: Miami. “I moved there in 1986, from the United States,” he said. He found the driving habits of Miami residents difficult to get used to, until he began to understand, “in Miami, everyone is driving according to the law -- of his/her country of origin.”
Dave related the story of a 73-year-old man who drove his Chevy Cobalt onto runway 9 of the Miami-Dade airport. “I can’t even get near that place with shampoo. But this guy got in with a Chevy Cobalt. Maybe he had it in one of those see-through zippy bags that makes everything alright.”
Dave also recounted the story of a 75-lb bale of cocaine that was thrown from an airplane and almost hit the chief of police in Miami. That sort of thing doesn’t happen in Milwaukee. Miami’s department of tourism slogan: “Come back to Miami, we weren’t shooting at you.”
As a humor writer, Dave described his job like so: ”I sit around, in my underwear, and make things up. Sort of like a consultant. [boost of applause from the audience] Except that a consultant would be wearing your underwear.”
He relayed a few embarrassing stories about himself, including one about an impromptu (and perhaps unwelcome) conversation with First Lady Barbara Bush, and his use of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile to pick up his son from middle school. Experiences like these have informed his scientific opinion of what causes spontaneous human combustion. “Sometimes, that’s your only option.”
On getting older and medical exams: “We need a way for the doctor to get to the prostate gland other than the way they do that now.” Dave recently experienced his first colonoscopy, but it wasn’t as bad as he feared. However, the preparation was less than pleasant. “The doctor prescribes a nuclear laxative. It’s so explosive that your bowels travel into the future, and you expel food that you haven’t even eaten yet.”
Has Dave Barry ever written a column that he later regretted? Yes, there was that one making fun of North Dakota’s (yes, the state) effort to boost tourism, for which they considered many ideas, including perhaps removing the word “North” from the state name so as to appear, oh, less cold. He received many angry letters from North Dakota citizens, which culminated in Dave Barry being invited to North Dakota, during January, to commemorate them naming a public facility after him. The “Dave Barry Lifting Station 6” – a sewage lifting station.
Dave, like everyone else at the conference, had something to say on the economy. Obviously it’s in horrible shape, but Dave says not to worry. Congress has a plan to spend hundreds of billions of dollars with no idea as to who’s getting it. “I don’t see how that can fail, do you?”, he asked.
On to the inspirational story… One of Dave Barry’s favorite columns was about a group of guys who had to overcome an obstacle, and they were very innovative about it. He’s speaking, of course, about the Oregon State Highway Division and their effort to clear an Oregon beach of a large whale carcass -- using dynamite. I won’t relay the story here, but there is a web site dedicated to the event and others like it.
Dave closed with an excerpt from his book Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys. The story illustrates how different the thought processes are between men and women – mainly, that women think a lot, and men, as difficult as it is for women to believe, actually think very little. His advice to women: “Lower your standards.” (Honey, are you reading this?)
[Want more? Go "behind the scenes" with Chris' interview with Dave Barry on The SAS Dummy blog.]