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

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.

The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin – Masha Gessen

What you tolerate you perpetuate.

The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

Riverhead Trade
March 5, 2013
AudioBook
336

In 1999, the “Family” surrounding Boris Yeltsin went looking for a successor to the ailing and increasingly unpopular president. Vladimir Putin, with very little governmental or administrative experience—he’d been deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, and briefly, director of the secret police—nevertheless seemed the perfect choice: a “faceless” creature whom Yeltsin and his cronies could mold in their own image. Russia and an infatuated West were determined to see in him the progressive leader of their dreams—even as Putin, with ruthless efficiency, dismantled the country’s media, wrested control and wealth from the business class, and destroyed the fragile mechanisms of democracy. Within a few brief years, virtually every obstacle to his unbridled control was removed and every opposing voice silenced, with political rivals and critics driven into exile or to the grave.
Masha Gessen has experienced and reported this history firsthand, and brings it up to its present moment of unrest and uncertainty. Her spellbinding account of Putin’s rise and reign will stand as a classic of narrative nonfiction.

Dad is Fat – Jim Gaffigan

Wanting to take a break from the more serious natured audio books I’ve been listening to recently, I found Jim Gaffigan’s Dad is Fat in my recommended reading list.  Since I’m a fan of his comedy and wanted something a bit lighter, I added my namJim Gaffigan - Dad is Fate to the hold list at the local library (using Overdrive of course) for the audio book.

Starting off, I immediately recognized the narrator as Jim Gaffigan himself, an added bonus.  In this book Jim offers short chapters about various portions of being a new dad, figuring out the new additions as they come, managing  as a dad, and juggling life’s responsibilities after becoming a dad for the fifth time.  While I can’t relate to that level of mastery he has seemingly acquired with five kids, I recognized many of his struggles and oddities as those that I’ve faced with just two kids.

The whole books comes across, intentionally or not, as an extended ode to his super-hero wife Jeannie.  Jim, like many of us dads, assumes that the more attractive partners in our relationships have had special instruction in child rearing, but throughout the chapters in this book you see a story of a dad who figures it out, and makes it work, documenting all the idiosyncrasies of fatherhood along the way.

Any parent who has balanced work / life responsibilities while raising their little ones will likely find this audio book an entertaining reminder of the joys that we have been through, and the joys that our kids bring us. For  any expecting parents, this is the book of things they don’t tell you in official parenting books, give it a read to know what you’re REALLY about to get into.

Dad is Fat

Parenting and Family
May 7, 2013
Audio Book
288

In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald's, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids") to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”). Reminiscent of Bill Cosby’sFatherhoodDad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.

It Hurts to Look this Good

Matias and the Plyo Box

Simple DIY Plyo Box built with Instructions from EndOfThreeFitness.com

Ohh how I ache this morning..  Currently I am recovering from last night’s workout of: three rounds of  24 Switch Lunges,  110 lb Farmer Walk @ 200 feet and a 264 yard backwards run, but that’s not the story, lets talk about my garage gym that helped me feel these ‘growing pains’

About 18 months ago, I joined TNL CrossFit Tampa.  I lost my cookies on the first visit and I was hooked.  It was a bit pricey compared to a regular gym and the only time I could fit in the schedule was butt-crack early in the morning.  Anna was only a few months old, Natalie was just starting back to work, and right in the midst of it all, I changed to a job that required constant travel, so I stopped.

Last year I was running late at night, making quite the habit of it for some time.  I would help put the kids to bed, and go for a run.  It was good, I was feeling great, continually increasing my pace and endurance, then life happened and that habit died as well.

Earlier this year I hit a number on the scale that is OK for most guys my age and height, but for me, it was a high point I’ve never seen, and I wasn’t particularly comfortable with.  My clothes were tight, carrying the kids got me winded, and then I realized, this is not how you age gracefully.

A few months ago I started watching what I ate which helped me get back to a more reasonable weight, but still not to ‘sexy beast’ level that I was aiming for.  Since I am the worst person in the world to keep to my diet, I knew I had to find something to compensate the occasional doughnut or the late night cereal cravings, I had to get active again.

After evaluating the gym options, pricing, and location I decided that I should just build my own gym in my empty garage.  Since CrossFit style workouts work well for me, that was the type of equipment I would need.

Craigslist Weights

Go a good deal on a couple bars, kettle bells, and 250 lbs of weight from CraigsList

After coercing my brother-in-law, Wes, to join in my adventure, I started to procure equipment.  I found some on Craigslist, built a few items, and picked up a few  items from a local gym supplier.   For me, the accountability of having someone show up at your house makes it hard to allow myself to skip a day, and working out with friends/family is a good enough motivator not to slack during the workout.  It is a good setup for me.

So far I have built 2 PlyoBoxes, Pair of Parallettes, and a Pull up Bar.  I bought a set of weights, bars, and heavy kettle bells from a guy on Craigslist (pictured here) and we stole got a really good deal on a squat rack from Craigslist, and to round out the initial collection, I picked up some odds and ends from a local retailer called Valor Fitness (their prices are MUCH more reasonable when you go to their warehouse than those listed on their website)

So far, we’ve been going at it for three nights a week, for about a month or so.  There are a few other piece of equipment I want to pickup, but none are essential at this point.  We have a friend who does power lifting who joins us on Sunday morning workouts, as well as a friend who is a CrossFit coach who is scheduled to start joining us soon as well.  I get to squeeze in some people time during our workouts in great, as occasionally forget to do with our busy schedules. Life its good.

As an added bonus to being in better shape, I have met a few neighbors who also workout in their garages; building the community bonds through sweaty garages is awesome.