Now you went and did it Annette:
I have thought of all the help that members have given others here over the years, and some are simple things like donating an old smoker or hive tool, to giving a newbee a good and healthy hive to get them started, to going hundred and (look at Geoff) tens of thousands of miles to meet other members.
I have belonged to many forums over the years, old newsgroup ones before today's modern forums were around, etc., and I can honestly say that except for the massive forums, sponsored by huge companies like Camping World, etc., I never remember seeing such a great interaction and helpful attitude as we have here. I can only wish other forums would stretch out and go that extra mile to make such differences in other peoples lives.
I remember Big Rog, some of you old-time members may too - He was the FIRST MEMBER I ever met, he came here, spent the night in my motorhome and the next day we packed up "The swarm that found me" two posts I need to find links too. But anyway, Roger hadn't had a bee and just had some minimal equipment, but he had no fear of honeybees. We did a really amazing job of using 1"x4" boards screwed in all sides and screened in the top for great ventilation and he took it home to Richmond, VA about 6 hour ride in the front seat next to him.
It was one of those weird moments, where Rog had been a moderator (can't remember if before or after then) but he was really impressed at me in shorts and teeshirt prepping the hive for the journey, it gave him confidence seeing that it really can be that simple to work with bees.
It was also strange, because we all know that us humans tend to build a picture in our minds of how someone looks if we never met them before - Rog and I had talked on the phone and I had a real idea of his conservative beliefs, then I met him - about 6'3", well bit with a bit of a belly and hair nearly down to hit butt - it was an interesting combo, especially in his tie dyed shirt and purposely mutilated jeans, he looked as opposite as you can imagine a conservative should look.
We had a blast that night and following morning, he was returning from his Brother's home in Long Island, so I wasn't too far out of the way - plus (and though I find it silly) he was excited to have a hive from BEEMASTER
There sure isn't any celebrity status about running a forum, it is something I take pride in, but surely nothing beyond pride. Rog though was ecstatic about it all.
Soon after (about 6 or so months) Rog kinda disappeared from the Earth, nothing in email or PMS, no posts and I wrote him regular mail and made many phone calls - I have a sad feeling that something happened to Rog, he was seriously depressed after losing his Mother and I don't think he recovered well from that. Of anything ever to happen in the forum, it is the fate of BigRog I most often think of.
I guess my point is, if given a chance to meet up with members, please do so. Opportunities are sometimes a single possibility, Geoff may never return to the US from Australia, but I would love it if and when he does, and I missed an opportunity to meet Understudy (Brendhan) when he was only about 40 miles away, but NOW I will be seeing him, likely during the whole drive to and from Bud1's house during the up and coming gathering of the Southern Beemaster Members - he may ride there with PDMattox and me - that's a 6 hour ride up to PDMattox's, then another 9 hours to Buds, so I really get to make up for missing Brendhan the first time. But sometimes such a chance to meet up again may not happen, so I'm making efforts to meet all the members I can as time and finances allow.
I hope to someday make it to the West Coast, one of the places I hope to see in my life is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum, and if that day happens, or any chance to get to the West Coast comes, I will surely meet up with as many of you as possible.
So, take the bulls by the horns, if you can wing it and host a casual gathering of members in your area - I hope you do. As well as, if you see on occurring, do your best to meet up and bring a camera, we all like to see these gathering even if it is just the story and not captured with photos and videos.
So Annette, meeting Ray was another milestone for the forum - every meeting is a magical moment allowing us all to better know the other people on their sides of the keyboards. It's an awesome thing really, and next month I'll have about a dozen new members I can add to my own list, and that is just a neat thing that makes how our members go beyond posting to becoming friends to people they may have never met otherwise.