What do you want?

My last post was a quick look back at what’s been happening, this one will look forward.   Based off a post by my friend Ryan Desmond’s similarly titled post ‘What do you want?’, and a recent conversation with Natalie about what is it that I want, I’ll start rambling to see where it leads me, as I don’t really know.

The title question is broad, and thats ok, I’ll address several areas of what I want and what I’m trying to achieve and see if any of those can give us a meaningful answer of the future.

Easy..the physical

This past year I ran the Gasparilla Half-Marathon and missed my time, I’m going to try to beat that.  Last year I was doing Crossfit 3-4 days a week and running.  In April I had shoulder surgery to fix a small issue, and never found my way back to the gym. For those of you who suffered a major injury or accident and needs reconstructive surgery, contact Dr. Benjamin Swartout at (310) 274-6005. Part of it was the recovery process, physical therapy, but once that was done it was the schedules invovled with raising 3 kids and working.  I just couldn’t make it happen.  There is no reason, why I haven’t been running, so I have started that up again, which will give me roughly 84 days to get it together and run consistent sub-10 minute miles.  Easy!

If I put in the miles, and watch what goes in my mouth I should be able to obtain my next goal.  Lose 25lbs    I’ve been trying for a few years to get down to 175 which is a good running weight for me, but I haven’t been consistent enough with my workouts or food intake to make this happen.  More focus, less junk food (my weakness).   It’ll happen.

Focus on….The Paper

I’ve went to some form of college on and off for approximately 12 years now.   I have 80 or so credits towards a Bachelors degree from a few different colleges.  My last attempt was Fall of 2015 when I enrolled at the local Community college to knock out a single Math Class.   That didn’t work.  Now I’m at WGU which is working well for me. Within the next  12 months, I expect to finally earn my Bachelors Degree.

As part of that process, I have already obtained several entry level IT certs which reaffirm my knowledge in those areas (Comptia A+, Comptia Network+, Comptia Security+) and will earn a few others which will unlock new opportunities for me to explore in my career (Oracle Database Developer and Oracle Database Administrator)     While I don’t normally place a lot of weight on certifications when hiring experienced professionals, I find them pretty fulfilling when trying to learn a new subject.  In my case, Oracle is completely foreign to me as a DBA, so its new paper I look forward to earning.

Do…The Work

I’ve been working since July as a consultant at a large company helping with a large data center consolidation project.  My role includes building new Microsoft database servers and moving the data from the old.  The MSSQL work is nothing new to me, it’s quite similar to what I took part in at Raymond James.  The difference is this one is bit more disjointed, with much less organizational structure to keep things standardized, so it’s a bit more interesting than before with new surprises every day.  I like the work, and have been tentatively accepted back for the next phase of the project, 2017.

As I look forward, I feel secure for the next year, or two as this project is huge and the internal team likes me, but I’ve become luke-warm on MSSQL.  Pair that feeling with the ‘automate the world’ features that are coming out and it makes being a not-so-enthusiastically-engaged DBA in the future a scary prospect.  I’m likely ready for a new pivot, or readjustment of my career projectory, but I’m unsure where to aim that cannon.  Stay tuned on this one I guess.

Finish… The House

Back in February I started ripping out the walls surrounding the island in the kitchen to open it up create an open concept kitchen.  Removing a single sheet of drywall at a time, slowly but surely I finally got done with most of the work just before the job change.  During the time off between the jobs I submitted the permit and waited…..3.5 months later, a few other issues, and finally, just last week we got our first inspection approval.   While the bulk of the work is done, we still have to close up the walls (drywall…ugh) and paint.    Along with the required items, we’re going to retile the kitchen and reface the cabinets.

Did I mention that I’m going to attempt to make all the new doors?   I’ve spent the last few weeks cleaning out the garage and setting up a workable woodworking setup.  The test pieces have been getting better, so hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll start seeing some actual cabinet doors coming out of Jason’s Cabinetry Inc.

 

Overall

While the title question is broad, I don’t have a definitive answer as to what do I want.  I feel I’m doing things that contribute to the over all goal, but I can’t say what the actual target is.  For the time being, I’ll keep moving forward evaluate this questions on a recurring basis to see if I can find a

SQLSaturday Tools

Much has been said about SQL Saturday tools and how PASS is pulling back from development of those tools past a few active items, and letting SQLSaturday go “off to college as we play catch with our other kids”  To get back to its “by the community, for the community“grassroots.    Isn’t that what all of PASS is?   I’m confused.

It seems, I’m not alone in that confusion.  Andy Warren outlined a plan end of last year, a call to action for the PASS Board if you will, and he just published a follow up post recently, which seems to have left him a bit perplexed about the situation. I too am perplexed.

The problem, as we are told, is the budget is a hot mess and there’s no money to do anything. Andy shared some details about what he knows regarding the budget in his posts and I can understand that running an organization takes money. This post isn’t about the budget. Its about the organization, what IS it?

To be clear, I wasn’t involved, or even in the periphery,  at the forming of PASS in 1999 so I have no insight into what the initial goal of the organization was at the time beyond what was written into the Bylaws, nor do I have any understanding of how the Board understands the organization, thus I can only use the data available to me for my position, and that is the PASS website. The website says that “PASS is a not-for-profit organization run by and for the community.”    We are the community.   The locals who attend the monthly user group meetings,  those who live away from civilization but drive to their nearest metropolis to attend SQL Saturday,  those who can’t get out but attend online Virtual meetings.  WE are the community for which this organization is ‘for’.

WE are Community

Looking further at the definition of PASS, we see it says it is ‘run by’ the community, which as I know it, it is.   At the internationally level, the Board, executives and directors are all members of the community, chosen by us every year to represent our wants and needs for the direction of the organization.    At the local level, I am part of a team that runs my local user group and take part in organizing our local SQL Saturday, so yes, I am part of, and help run the community.

In any community, some folks are destined to do great things: to step up and handle the big picture items, do things at scale.   I admire those guys who have the time and inclination to tackle the big things, its a thankless job that has to be done.  I’m not there yet.   Others of us, and a much large majority, are just meager local volunteers trying to do their part where they can.  One of the things I volunteer with is SQL Saturday, I’ve been assisting in someway to organize our local SQL Saturday for the last 4 years, running a local user group for ~3.    All volunteer positions because PASS is a volunteer organization and I love helping these events come to life.

One part of running these events are the tools we use.   For our local user group, we’ve simply found an alternative in Meetup.com, its just easier and works better for us, thus we simply moved,  but for SQL Saturday, I can’t easily take my ball and go home, I must use their tools, their website, their mailing functionality, their printed tickets and they don’t always meet the need.     The problem is, we have a very technically inclined community.  A community of volunteers that would love to help make the tools better.  Personally, I like to consider myself fairly technically inclined,  having done a few days as a software developer and manager.   I’d by willing to do the work to add the features needed, but I can’t.

Help Me, Help You

When asked in various forums about open sourcing the SQL Saturday or PASS Group tools,  the response has been ‘budget’, againagain, and again.    In the Q&A session put on by Grant Fritchey, current PASS President and member of the PASS board since 2015, the SQL Saturday Tools topic came up multiple times, and Grant was quite amazing at sticking to his position and deflecting every, single, time.    But the answers were circular (paraphrasing below)

Q:  “How much money will it take?”
A:  “We don’t know”

Q:  “How do you know you can’t afford it, if you haven’t even looked into it?”
A:  “Because, it will take time, which is money, for one of our IT guys to look into”

Q:  “Could the community sponsor it?”
A:  “We would need to know how much it costs to do that, and we don’t know”

Q: “Could we form a small committee of volunteers to investigate the costs so we have an idea moving forward?”
A:  “Thats not something we are looking to do right now, we don’t have budget”

With a  community of volunteers, very technically inclined volunteers at that, knocking at the door trying to help, we, as an organization have done nothing to allow for those with the skills necessary to drive forward the wants and needs of those at the ground level, closest to the membership, closest to the problems that need to be solved to step up and do their part.   We won’t even have the conversation about how volunteer labor, outside the management of local events, could further the cause of our organization, save that conversation for another day.

Its Hard

I get it, Governance is hard, it’s nuanced, and it can be complex, but refusing to start the conversation is a cop out.   If you cannot deliver on the wants and needs of your community, it will fracture and become its own thing.  If this is an organization about the community, for the community, lets put our ‘free labor’ where our mouth is and make some honest movements towards the community rather than simply being a fund-raising wrapper for PASS Summit and its organizing company.

Whats Next?

With much respect for all those stepping up and serving on the board,  you have to do more than stonewalling.  Setup a small volunteer committee to investigate the process.   Use your standard NDA to protect what needs protecting,  give the committee access to the code repo for initial analysis, use your pre-existing conference call softwares to host a call and start the conversation.   START the process.   Engage in an honest effort to engage the community in the places we can best help.

Finally, an Update

Looking at the last post, its been just over two years since I’ve posted, and reading an update from my friend Ryan about ‘What Do You Want’ inspired me to write-down a few things, this post will be an Update, the next my answer to What Do I Want.

Updates:

In the last two years I have:

  • Increased the family size
    • August 10, 2015 Natalie and I welcomed another girl to our brood. Kennedy joined us and over the last 15 months have figured out that all children are different, Kenna is nuts!
  • Natalie Stays Home
    • January 2016, we decided that it would be beneficial if Natalie stayed home for a bit and focused on the kids.  For the entirety of this year, she has done just that, and the kids are excelling on every avenue.  I couldn’t be happier with the results.
  • Ran a Half Marathon
    • February 2016- I ran the Gasparilla Distance Classic Half Marathon.  My goal was 2:10 and I hit 2:17 (i think)  I hit the wall around 10 miles, and I blame that on waiting on my friend Renee do his business around mile 7, standing around for 6-7 minutes was not a good idea and it caused me to seriously freeze up.  Will try again next year.
  • Remodeling the House
    • February 2016 – Lets open up the kitchen, knock down some walls and see what it looks like.   As of last week, I have permits and can start closing up the walls.  Progress pics here
  • Tried out for Microsoft
    • I thought about not adding this but I think its important as part of the story.  A friend invited me to interview for a Premier Field Engineering role at Microsoft, to which I interviewed.  Feedback indicated I was technically sound but didn’t have enough experience working with a team, which is baffling as I built the entire DBA team at my current gig.  I think the Army guy interviewing didn’t like that I was a Marine.   Not getting this was a blessing in disguise.
  • Lost Job
    • June 2016 – The company I was previously working was bought just 3 months after I joined,  hired a new CTO, and completely restructured the company, in the end shutting down the Tampa office, which was quite unfortunate, but I learned a great deal about my self during that time and hopefully can continue to grow from those experiences.
  • Started New Job
    • July 2016 –  I started a new job as database consultant for Taos.  I’m currently engaged in a multi-datacenter consolidation effort in which I am in charge of MSSQL and MySQL.  Brushing up on MySQL skills has been refreshing as its also brushing up on my Linux skills, which will set me up to take a look at Oracle in the future.  This position is work-from-home, which is awesome, since I get to see the girls throughout the day.
  • Started College…Again
    • I found a college that works well for professionals who can work at their own pace.  Western Governors University is working well for me thus far.  I was able to transfer some old USf credits as well as my Microsoft Certs in for credit.  In the last 4 months, I have been able to knock out 29 credits.  I have 2 months left in this semester and would like to knock out 4 more classes which is quite doable.

 

These are the major items that have come and gone since I’ve last posted.  Stay tuned for the next update, which I’ll add some short term goals I’m looking at.

 

 

Game on, Speaker Idol at PASS Summit

This week I am attending PASS Summit 2014 in Seattle, Washington. PASS Summit is  gathering of SQL Data professionals from around the world who come together to learn more about our craft.  As most of you reading this site will know, I enjoy sharing and speak at the regional SQL Saturday events.  At some point I would like to be able to challenge my self to speaking at a broader audience, and while not an official speaker, I have been selected to compete in a competition for new speakers while at Summit.

This competition is known as SQL Speaker Idol.  It will be held in the style of the American Idol singing competition, fortunately for everyone, no singing will be involved.  Instead, 12 speakers will be selected to  present a 5 minute talk on  subject of their choosing, with judging to be done by an expert panel.

So not only will I be speaking, folks will be actively judging me and telling me how terrible I am.  On the bright side, I have had lots of support from my local user groups.  Both Pinellas SQL Pass and Hillsborough SQL Pass User groups have allowed me to give my presentations at their users groups over the last few weeks.  I’ve had comments and suggestions from SQL MVP and MCM folks who have been presenting for years, so I feel somewhat prepared and very well supported.

Luckily my session in on Friday morning, so I have a few more days to prepare, and prepare I will.  I have asked a few folks to allow me to take a few minutes of their time over the course of this week to present the session to them and get more feedback; an audience is always better than jabbering away to my self.

So there it is folks.  For anyone at PASS Summit, come over to the Community Session room 400 on Friday at 10:15 to cheer me on.  I’ve already put the Speak Idol Final on my calendar as I am an optimist.  If you’ve got the same faith,  put the final on your calendar as well, same room at 2:45.

The Church of Mercy – Pope Francis

The Church of Mercy
Pope Francis
April 25, 2014
April 25, 2014
Audio Book
168

In the year since he was elected, Pope Francis’s simple message of mercy, service, and renewal has spread to every corner of the world. Through his gentle demeanor, selfless actions, and welcoming call for service to others, Pope Francis has captured the attention of a world longing for an authentic message of hope—we want to hear what he has to say.

Collected from Pope Francis’s speeches, homilies, and papers presented during the first year of his papacy, The Church of Mercy is the first Vatican-authorized book detailing his vision for the Catholic Church. From how to be citizens of the world to answering God’s call for evangelization, Pope Francis's deep wisdom reminds us that the Church must move beyond its own walls and joyfully bring God's mercy wherever suffering, division, or injustice exists.

Named TIME Magazine’s 2013 “Person of the Year,” Pope Francis is helping the Church continue toward an authentic Christianity that is faithful to the Gospel and resonant with the world’s greatest needs. The Church of Mercy encourages each of us to ignite the flame within to help share the light of Christ and revitalize the Church.