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T-SQL Tuesday #57 – SQL Family and Tripping the Light Fantastique

T-SQL Tuesday #57

Jeffrey Verheul (b|t) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party.  (Hey Jeff, what’s up?)  If you are not familiar with T-SQL Tuesday, well it was started by Adam Machanic (b|t) five years ago and invites a different blogger to host a topic and various bloggers choose to participate when the subject so moves them. This month’s topic is regarding SQL Family and Community.  I have blogged numerous times about SQL Family and if you never experienced the awesomeness that is SQL Family in person, find me and I will give you a #SQLHug and show you just how awesome of a phenomenon this truly is.

Personally, I have been gainfully employed in the IT field for almost twenty years and have been hacking (yes that is the correct term not the one bastardized by the media and laymen) since the Christmas of 1982 when I got a Timex Sinclair 1000.  During this lifetime, I have never experienced the phenomenon that is SQL Family, ever.  Let the weight of that statement sink in for a moment.  In other words, having met all sorts of IT professionals over the years at many conferences, user groups and meetings, no one community has struck me dumbfounded and with wonderment like that of the SQL Community.  It is unparalleled in my opinion.

(Ed please get to the point and stop skipping the light fandango)

In The Beginning

Several years ago, I was severely burnt out.  I had started back to college to possibly change careers. (yeah it was that bad)  I hated what I did for a living.  I cannot stress how much I hated what I was doing for a living.  At that point, my good friend and fellow DBA Brent Kraus (t) invited me to a user group meeting with the Tampa SQL User Group.  “Free pizza,” he said and we could meet a couple of guys and get a better job.  I said how do you know and he said “hey Jorge Segarra (b|t) sat in that same chair and got out of dodge and now he is a SQL rock star now making it rain with groupies to boot.”  The story may not have gone exactly that way, but hey it’s called dramatic license for a reason.  If the day Buddy Holly died was the day that the music died, then this was the day that the music was reborn like a phoenix rising out of the ashes that was my career. (This story is getting good…even I want to pay attention now and trust me I was bored with it up until this section)

The meeting was horrible, there was a speaker on a speaker phone.  I do not remember who it was or what he spoke about but it was pretty bad mainly because of bad phone connection and a language barrier.  I met a few people and I remember thinking “this blows!”  Then Pam Shaw (b|t) gave me a free book for a being a first time attendee.  Remember, I had a bad attitude about my career so this reflection had nothing to do with Pam or her user group.  I remember on the drive home thinking hey free pizza and a free book (and don’t forget the SQL tchotchkes), maybe I will go back next month.

SQL Saturday

Enter Brent again…as he said hey they do this crazy, free training thing and you get to meet a lot of SQL people and we are sure to find a better job there.  So we ride over one Saturday morning to Orlando.  I liken this to the moment I heard my first Beatles record.  I was hooked, an addiction was formed.  I met so many people and I could name drop all day but there is one key figure that I met that day….Karla Landrum (b|t).  She was welcoming and passionate about the community.  Karla is definitely the mother of this SQL family.  Actually she is more of a foster-mother, she takes in the strays feeds them some good food, acclimates them to the environment and then challenges them to succeed.  Like any good Mom, she doesn’t take no for an answer.  Within a year from that moment she had talked (coerced, dragged me kicking and screaming, or tricked?  You pick!) me into speaking for the first time.  I had a supreme fear of public speaking.  How did she talk me into this?  I wanted to run like Forrest, but I didn’t even drove through a flash flood that day to not let her down.

During that year, I became active in the user group, became a SQL community promoter on twitter, and attended a few SQL Saturdays.  Suddenly I didn’t hate my career as much, oh do not get me wrong the job I had sucked but I was not ready to jump ship on my career just yet.  What happened to Brent?  Oh yeah, he got a better SQL DBA job.  Mission accomplished.

Speaking

That first time was horrible, I scripted the whole thing and barely looked up from my trembling body.  They gave me an award for the funniest presentation.  These people are nuts, I do not think they saw the same presentation that I did.  Afterward, several people told me how awesome it was and that they were happy to see me presenting.  Wait?!?! What?!?!?  It was horrible.  These people are my brothers and sisters in the SQL Family.  They were loving and encouraging when I needed it.  I am sure that they knew it was horrible but they had been there too.  I am not going to call them out but I do try to pay it forward with every new speaker that I meet or see or even here about.  I want to be that same awesome brother that tells you about dating and girls and how to…wait I digress, sorry.

It was at this point that I wanted to speak again, and again.  All the world’s a stage and I wanted to get better, to be as good as they were, to teach and give back.  I was learning SQL Server like never before because I was teaching it to others.  I was now in love with my career again.  Not the obligatory kiss your grandmother love, but the super smart, nerdy librarian looking girl who likes you because you aced Calculus passion making out in the reference section next to the map rack.  Yeah you know what I am talking about.

SQL PASS

All everyone talked about once you get inside the SQL Family is the SQL PASS Summit in Seattle.  Like any good addict, I had to try this drug.  Have you ever had that moment when you said to yourself “wow these nerds are my people, they get me!”  That first year was my moment.  Like any good Amway presentation, I wanted what they were selling.  I met so many people…authors, bloggers, crazy people (yeah I bet two or three names came to your mind when I said that and yes that is who I was talking about), DBAs, developers, and rock stars of the SQL community.  They all had one thing in common:  SQL Family.  At no point did I ever feel not welcome or like an outsider even with my First Timer badge on.  If there was a funny story that they all knew someone was more than willing to bring me up to speed on how that one guy did that one thing that one time and it was epic.  Yeah you know who you are and what you did that one time.  Dude!

At that first Summit, I met several DBAs from Atlanta.  I kept running into them everywhere I went around Seattle.  They invited me to sit with them at the Chapter Lunch.  I was home.  These people were my people.  One problem though…I lived in Tampa. (This is a foreshadowing moment, keep that in mind here)

Atlanta

In 2013, I decided that in order to take my career to the next level, I needed to move to Atlanta where the DBA jobs were flowing like wine and after 42 years in Florida a change of scenery would be good.  Most people think leaving Florida was a Paradise Lost, but being a tourist is the greatest part of Florida at this point in my life as I grew up on the sunshine, beaches, and Disney.  Been there, done that, and got the t-shirt.  However, I felt at home with the Atlanta group and they had become really, really good friends over the last couple of years.  You see I was 42 years old with hundreds of friends or as I like to call them wonderful acquaintances.  You know the kind, the ones that will go to a birthday party for a mutual friend and be happy to see you and hand you a beer from the cooler.  But if you need someone to help you move, all of these friends that you have seem to be busy.  My life was full of these friends.  I had a couple of really good friends, do not get me wrong especially if you are one of them are you thinking to yourself what the hell dude!

However, with the SQL Family, those friendships always seem to be so much stronger.  This was the impetus for me moving to Atlanta.  Those friends there seemed to be the kind of friends that would help you move (and they did come 2014).  Did you remember the foreshadowing moment?  Good, you were paying attention.  After moving to Atlanta, I began traveling across the country spreading my wings speaking in Nashville, Las Vegas, Louisville and I will hit Birmingham, Orlando (where it all began) and possibly Charleston before the year is done.  All of that is on my own dime.  Why?  SQL Family.  I love visiting different family members and spending time with them and sharing my love of SQL Server and SQLKaraoke with them.  I look forward to breaking bread and sharing a pint with them sharing stories and dancing like a mad man.  The social aspect of SQL Family is unparalleled as well.

I am now a Data Services Consultant, working for a dear friend from the SQL Family.  She brought me on board here where there are about a hundred brilliant consultants including several other SQL Family members.  I love my career, and I love my SQL Family and now I love my job.  Thanks, Julie (b|t).

So after reading this and if you have met me in person, have you figured out which family member I am?  I am that crazy uncle that everyone has who sings everywhere and is so much fun to be around (at least in my opinion lol).

Mi familia está loca! (For Jorge)

 

P.S. Did you get the title reference and all the tie-ins?  Tripping the light fantastic means to dance about with the music and being in the SQL Family makes me want to sing and dance every day.  Milton (tie-in) and Shakespeare (tie-in) spoke of such phenomenon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles (tie-in) had an album entitled Tripping the Live Fantastic.  Tarantino (our greatest living director) used the line as I did in “Inglorious Basterds” for the final tie-in.  Those were chosen because of my love of those things and my ability to wax poetic about my passions.  Long Live the SQL Family!  Oh, I almost forgot the “skipping the light fandango” tie-in (glad I proofread this before submitting it) but that’s a line from “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procul Harum.  So now you have my passion for poetry, movies, music and SQL Server, all that in one blog post for the low, low price of $19.95…but wait, there’s more….stay tuned next time.

Presenting at Summit 2013

Today I was thinking about the SQL PASS Summit which begins next Tuesday and I just realized that I have yet to announce that I was chosen to speak for the very first time at the Summit.  I am so humbled and excited at this opportunity. I cannot begin to thank the program committee, PASS headquarters, and the SQL community enough for everything they have done for me in the past few years.  At this point in my career, I truly feel that my career has exploded thanks to my involvement with SQL PASS.

Rob Volk (b|t) and I had this idea to do a humorous session where we play Laurel and Hardy depicting the interactions between junior and senior DBAs.  It should be a good time for all.  Our session is Wednesday at 3pm, come by and say hi.  Enjoy!

Next Vacation: St. Louis

Growing up with a stepfather from St. Louis, Missouri, we went there at least every summer it seemed as a small child.  These were fond vacations from my memories: eating at the McDonald’s on the Mississippi River, going up in the Gateway Arch, fishing in the Ozarks, catching a  Cardinal game in the old Busch Stadium, going to the zoo, and who could forget all of the museums.  Great memories indeed.

My wife and I were trying to decide what new adventure we would take together on our anniversary.  Being that her mother is originally from St. Louis and she hasn’t seen her family there in about twelve years, we thought this would make a great vacation getaway.  I could meet some of her family, take in a Cardinals game on opening day in the NEW Busch Stadium, and ultimately relive a great many childhood memories with my wife who experienced many of those same memories separately.

What would make this even better?  Meeting up with some #SQLFamily members or even a SQL Server User Group meeting along the way.  No such luck in St. Louis as apparently they only meet once a quarter and their meeting was this month.  Does anyone know of any meetings nearby or on the way?  Any of my #SQLFamily on the way or close by that they would want to meet up?  I will be coming through Atlanta as well.  Maybe we can get together?  Enjoy!

Summit: The Final Day

Today is the final day of the PASS Summit 2012.  There are still a few great sessions that I want to see today, but I am sad that the conference is coming to an end.  However, yesterday I began looking for a hotel room for next year’s conference in Charlotte so that I can see all of my new friends again.

Last night was the Customer Appreciation Party at the EMP museum which was a fabulous venue for the rockaraoke event.  I also spent some time a group of SQL peeps from South Africa, Holland, Germany, and a Scottish-Australian.  We all had one thing in common:  a love of SQL.  This conference is simply amazing, come join in me in Charlotte next year.  Enjoy!

 

Summit Women In Technology Luncheon

Today I was honored to attend and blog live from the tenth annual Women In Technology Luncheon at the SQL PASS Summit 2012.   This is my first Women in Technology luncheon at any level.  I have attended several SQL Saturdays but there has not been a WIT event at any of those events.

There was a phenomenal turnout and many people, men and women alike, are sporting the #SQLKilts in honor of the event.  Wendy Pastrick hosted the event and the panel included Kevin Kline, Denise McInerney, Kendra Little, Stefanie Higgins, and Jen Stirrup, the PASSion Award winner for 2012.  Wendy noted that the room was setup for 720 people and from my perspective it appears that the room is close to full, I found out afterwards that their were 695 attendees from the count.

The luncheon was streamed live via PASS TV and on twitter with the #PASSWIT hashtag  and was sponsored by SQL Sentry.  The recording is available here.

Stefanie Higgins, founder of the original WIT luncheon, began by discussing the lack of women in her college computer science program which continued later into a certification course that she attended where she was the only woman in the class.  The instructor ignored her throughout the week and later admitted after she passed the course that he ignored her and was intimidated by her presence in the class.  Stefanie stated that “I think we’ve come a long way, we have more to go though.”

Denise McInerney then discussed that back at her first Summit in 2002 there were only 1 or 2 women in each session and how WIT has women’s participation in the organization as well as SQL Saturday.  She stated that in 2011, the first year that the statistics were collected by PASS, the organization consisted of 15% women among attendees and speakers for SQL Saturdays.  She also stated that women leave technology careers twice as much as their counterparts.

Kevin Kline then discussed the SQL community and how the board grew the Summit into a friendly conference as opposed to bigger conferences like those sponsored by IBM and Oracle.  He also discussed his perspective in raising six daughters and their struggles with technology coming primarily from their friends and not as much from patriarchal structure of society, which has gotten better but still exists.

Jen Stirrup then spoke about the declining percentages of women in technology across Europe.  She also discussed their efforts to grow the WIT organization across Europe.  Although they have had low numbers of women attending the SQL Saturday WIT events, they are seeing many men attending and discussing the issues surrounding WIT and it is encouraging for the future.

Kendra Little, MCM and MVP, starting speaking at SQL Saturday events and she discussed how that changed her outlook as an “employee” and then she started connecting with people in her sessions and that led her realizing that she could be a mentor and a teacher.  She started to feel like she could be a consultant and own her own business whereas when she was an employee previously it had never occurred to her.  Now she encourages other women to start speaking and sharing.

It was at this point that the luncheon was turned over to the floor for questions and comments.  There were many insightful observations and questions from several audience members.  Many people wanted to find resources for their local area so that they could become affiliated with the WIT organization.  They were referred to wit.sqlpass.org, which has resources available for everyone if they are interested in starting their own WIT chapter or looking for more information in order to make their local groups more successful.  The wit@sqlpass.org e-mail address is also available.

Personally I would like to see more being done in my area with my user group as well as my local SQL Saturdays throughout the State of Florida.  Maybe the discussion will begin with this blog or sometime during the planning of our next SQL Saturday scheduled for March.  Enjoy!

Summit: The Third 24 Hours

The third 24 hours in Seattle were even better than the first two, if that is possible.  I attended Grant Fritchey’s pre-con on Query Performance Tuning yesterday and was blown away with knowledge.  I cannot wait to watch that on DVD to recap my learning.  I then attended the First Timer’s events followed by the Welcome Reception.  These were both great events with an excellent dinner and networking opportunities and I enjoyed them thoroughly.  In the evening I checked out the Tap House and realized that Seattle does not understand the concept of increased air conditioning when you have increasing amounts of people in a building.

Today began the real sessions kicked off by amazing keynote presentations.  I attended a few great sessions and spent a considerable amount of time speaking with vendors about my upcoming project to compare SQL tools.  This was a great chance to talk with the vendors and explain to them what I was looking for and how their tools could help me.  The networking opportunities today were immense and amazing.  Tonight is #SQLKaraoke, stay tuned tomorrow for the updates!

Summit: Second 24 Hours

The second 24 hours in Seattle were even better than the first, if that is possible.  I knew #SQLFamily was amazing, but never realized the level of amazing.  After Redgate’s SQL in the City event, I attended the Andy Warren (b|t) and Steve Jones’ (b|t) networking event at Gordon Biersch.  All I can say is wow, it exceeded my expectations considerably and then some.  I expected a bunch of awkward table conversations as introverts struggled to network.  There were so many conversations and people circling the rooms and introducing themselves stopping at each table.  I met so many people and several of my twitter friends.  The #SQLFamily was so welcoming at this event, thank you Andy and Steve.

From there, several people decided to move onto Bush Garden for the first round of #SQLKaraoke.  It also far exceeded my expectations, but the place was much smaller than I imagined, but I had a blast.  Jason and Sarah Strate were great hosts and now I cannot wait for the next time #SQLKaraoke night on Wednesday so I can sing.

Until next time, enjoy!

 

T-10 Days Until the PASS Summit, More Scavenger Hunt Ideas


With the DATEDIFF script returning 10 today, I thought I would continue with yesterday’s blog idea of a scavenger hunt for the PASS Summit 2012.   Here is an updated list with new items in bold:

  • Get a picture with a Brent Ozar PLF employee (each one counts separately)
  • Get a picture with Grant Fritchey
  • Get a picture with Steve Jones
  • Get a picture with both of the Midnight DBAs (at the same time)
  • Get a picture with Buck Woody
  • Get a picture with two or more Pragmatic Works’ employees (at the same time)
  • Double points if the Midnight DBAs make faces or other gestures such as rabbit ears
  • Get a picture with Robert Davis
  • Get a picture with Argenis Fernandez
  • Get as many pictures as possible with other MCMs
  • Get a picture of an MCM or MVP sleeping during a session
  • Get a picture of a presenter sleeping during their own session
  • Negative points if the person is a Sharepoint MCM or MVP
  • Double points if any of these people are in kilts or mullets
  • Double points if any of these people are wearing costumes such as StrateSQL’s Unicorn
  • Get a picture with five or more MVPs in the shot
  • Get a picture with five or more people holding Starbuck’s cups
  • Get a picture with a 2012 Summit Presenter
  • Get a picture of your tweet popping up on a presenter’s screen while he/she is presenting
  • Get a picture singing #SQLKaraoke with any of the people on this list
  • Get a picture with an Ambassador giving you directions when you cannot find your session
  • Get a picture at a bona-fide tourist location with any of the people on this list

Therefore if you sang a song with five MVPs, had your picture taken during the process, all five of them had their MCMs and were wearing a kilt or mullet during the process you could end up with 12 points unless one of the five were listed specifically on this list which would be an additional point for each person.  Sound like fun?

Haven’t registered for Summit yet?  Why not?  Come on you know you want to!  See you there!  Enjoy!

T-11 Days Until the PASS Summit, Scavenger Hunt?


With the DATEDIFF script returning 11 today, I thought I would share a fun idea that I had last night while discussing the PASS Summit 2012 on twitter.  Several people were discussing that they had a list of people that they wanted to meet up with in Seattle.  An idea was hatched, a plan, a scheme…I thought I would take it to the next level and turn this into a scavenger hunt, mainly because I am competitive and I try to make life fun at every turn possible.  Maybe we could even get a sponsor, who knows.  Here is a starting list:

  • Get a picture with a Brent Ozar PLF employee (each one counts seperately)
  • Get a picture with Grant Fritchey
  • Get a picture with Steve Jones
  • Get a picture with both of the Midnight DBAs (at the same time)
  • Get a picture with Robert Davis
  • Get a picture with Argenis Fernandez
  • Get as many pictures as possible with other MCMs
  • Double points if any of these people are in kilts or mullets
  • Get a picture with five or more MVPs in the shot
  • Get a picture with a 2012 Summit Presenter
  • Get a picture singing #SQLKaraoke with any of the people on this list
  • Get a picture at a bona-fide tourist location with any of the people on this list

Therefore if you sang a song with five MVPs, had your picture taken during the process, all five of them had their MCMs and were wearing a kilt or mullet during the process you could end up with 12 points unless one of the five were listed specifically on this list which would be an additional point for each person.  Sound like fun?

Haven’t registered for Summit yet?  Why not?  Come on you know you want to!  See you there!  Enjoy!

T-14 Days Until the PASS Summit,Budget Day


With the DATEDIFF script returning 14 today, I thought I would share how I spent the last hour of my day in preparation for the PASS Summit 2012.   Today is budget day, so breakout the spreadsheet.  I spent the last hour thinking about my week at the Summit and planning my activities as well as getting a mental image of the amount of money that I need to have available to ensure that I have a great first time experience.

This spreadsheet will help me during the week to ensure that I remain within my projections so that I do not have any surprises art the end of the week when I go to check out of the hotel.  It is also a great guideline in case new activities come up within the next two weeks before I arrive in Seattle.  I can simply add them into the spreadsheet and either shuffle priorities or make adjustments as needed.

Haven’t registered for Summit yet?  Why not?  Come on you know you want to!  See you there!  Enjoy!

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