Looking Ahead to 2011

For as much as I write tasks/to-do items down, am unhappy when I don’t get things done on-time, and really enjoy learning and doing new things, lists of Goals sure rub me the wrong way!

2011 Task

Just don't call them "goals"

I’ve always been that way and I haven’t been able to figure out what my deal is. At first, I thought it was the idea of someone else dictating to me what I should do, but I feel this way when I cook up “goals” for myself, too. It’s not being adverse to work, because when it’s fun, it doesn’t matter. Fortunately, just about everything related to IT that isn’t writing .NET code is fun to me, so it’s not that, either.

If nothing else, I at least understand that I’m in the minority here, and can play along at work (err, “play along” sounds a lot more negative than I mean it to be) and understand that Goals make the world go ‘round. I’ll fill out the tool, put them on my Task list for myself (maybe even put “Goals” in the name), and everyone will be happy at the end of the day.

At any rate, since this can’t be a “goals” post ( 😉 ), it’s just going to be some random mumblings about where I want to go next year.

2011: The last full year

OK, I don’t really think the world is going to end in 2012, because No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition! and Mathew 24:36. You’re right, that was dumb. Let me try again.

2011: I pick a direction and [maybe] stick to it

The biggest thing coming up next year for me is career-related.

The whole reason I switched from being a Sysadmin to this DBA thing is because of Business Intelligence. I’m doing the plain-Jane DBA partly because it was there and partly because I saw it as a way to get my foot in the door of “real” data land. For the most part, that has worked out quite well, and, as it turns out, I like doing this full-time, too!

What this means is I need to decide which way I want to go with my life: Do I want to stay a full-time DBA or do what I can to follow what SQLChicken (blog | @SQLChicken) has done, and switch over to full-time BI work (he actually reminded me the other night that Pragmatic Works is hiring, but I said that the travel wouldn’t work for me. On the other hand, if I could drive or fly a little airplane around TN, then we’d need to talk 😀 )? There’s the potential for a heavy BI opportunity at my current job, but I don’t yet know how that is going to play out. It might be a good way to test the waters a bit, but I won’t know that for at least a month or two.

Regardless of how that goes, I need to get some new things going on job-wise soon, because I’m so over SQL 2000, I don’t even know what to say about it.

Other Data Stuff

SQL-related travel is something that we should be doing more of. Neither one of us has a very good (ie, all but nonexistent) travel budget at work, so we have to foot the bill for this on our own. Yes, we know.

We couldn’t swing PASS this year, and that wasn’t any fun. I’ve got SQL Rally on the calendar, but that still remains to be seen. It would be much easier for us to pull off, plus can easily be driven to (we’re done flying Part 121 ops for right now, thanks to the TSA). There are some SQL Saturdays that aren’t terrible to get to, and those are, of course, good events in their own right.

The biggest problem we have with travel these days (and this goes for all travel, not just SQL travel) at the moment is the dogs, since we haven’t been able to figure out what to do with them since moving down here. Taking them along is almost impossible (lodging at destination), and Boarding them at a place that doesn’t just leave them in crates all day gets real expensive real fast. We could get an RV, I guess, but we’d quickly become that couple at events, hahahaha. Still working on this.

Next year, I want to do more experimentation/exploration/goofy stuff with SQL Server at home. I’ve got a couple instances running now, but I’d like to branch into playing with pre-release stuff. This would be easier with a hardware budget, but I’m pushing that envelope as it is, already. Part of what’s holding me back in this department right now, is the simple fact that I don’t really know what to do with myself if I don’t have big DBs with a lot of users hitting them really making things work. Basically, I don’t function well when I don’t have a problem to solve :-)…I’m going to work on either fixing that next year or figure out a way around it.

Big Bookmark, Skinny Book

I'm going to have bookmark problems

I’m going to try to read more next year. I have no idea how I’m going to pull this off, because I read stupidly slow, so it takes me forever to get through anything. I’ve cleaned up my backlog of SQLServerCentral dailies so they’re not so overwhelming, and cutting my losses on some older SQL books that I haven’t made it through. I don’t think I can do anything about my blog feeds, because so many of you guys out there write good and useful content (unlike me).

I hope to get a quick win on the book front by reading Tom LaRock’s (blog | @SQLRockstar) book, since it’s thinner than pretty much everything else I have around here. In fact, it might be a little too thin (see pic). I’m hoping that a quick win there will help me build some momentum. Maybe I’ll magically be able to read faster, too.


The first other topic is this Blog. I need to spend more time and effort on it, especially when it comes to writing good technical content. So far, I haven’t done a good job at that. That’s partially due to my job situation, but I could be doing more anyway. I hate setting arbitrary numerical goals, but I think I’m going to do it here: 26 posts. That’s an average of one every two weeks, and I should be able to pull that off. I’m not going to get overly detailed and say that “20 of them need to have good technical content”, I’m only going to go for an overall number.

I used to bicycle a fair amount. It hasn’t been the same since I was in college, where I put 30-35 miles a week on the bike just going to class & work. Back then I did a fair amount of mountain biking, too (which is what I’m really in it for), and spent a couple years running races in the Indiana statewide series, DINO. The last few years have been really lacking in that department, both causing and exacerbated by me being fat.

Next year, going to fix that & spend more time on the bike. I’ve already started to do some work on the trainer, and when it warms up, I’m going to move it to the road around the house. We live almost as far away from good bike trails as we did in IN, but I’m going to make an effort to not let that be in my way as much as it has been in the past.

This talk of biking has made me realize that I’m going to need some form of case or other padding for my new phone. The one time I went on a trail this year saw me doing an awesome, completely unintentional half backflip on the bike. I wound up flat on my back, still clipped into the pedals, holding the bicycle up in the air above me. The problem is that I carry my phone in my Camelbak; although the old Samsung i760 lived through that without a problem, I’m pretty sure the Focus would be broken in half. Soooo, need to do something about that.

My Non-Y2K-Compliant Logbook

My Non-Y2K-Compliant Logbook

The final thing for next year is flying. I got my Logbook out recently and thumbed through it. There’s some good stuff in there. The last time I flew was February 2005. I don’t even have the tail number of the airplane or the hours of the last two flights. Just have the landings (2 for one, 1 for the other). I know they were both in one/some of the Skyhawks at Lafayette Aviation, Tammy was with me for one of them, and I had to wait to take off on the single landing one because the visibility was crap**.

Anyway, since then, I’ve waffled back-and-forth between missing flying and being OK with how things are, because flying is freakin’ expensive. But, with the TSA thing and me more and more wanting to get back into it, I want to start flying again next year if I can find the money for it. This does mean that I am supposed to work on my Instrument rating (so I can fly in the clouds, basically), because I promised myself that a number of years ago. So… there’s the last thing for next year: Get Instrument Ticket if I can find the room in the budget.

There we are. 2011. Please don’t hold me to this stuff, because, you know, they’re not goals; just stuff I want to get done 😀

**That one was actually sorta fun, because it was late in the afternoon and the visibility was crap due to a fairly dense haze layer. We finally took off (oh hey, this is the one with Tammy. This means she was only with me for one landing. Hahaha, stay tuned for awesome stories.), flew around the pattern, annnnd then turned final, which happened to be directly into the sun. Bam, couldn’t see anything. I mean, seriously, in-flight visibility was maybe 1/2 mile, and I was on a mile final. I grumped about this to the controller as I flew runway heading, knowing that it would eventually show up ahead, and he was all, “Yeah, the last guy said it was pretty bad.” Yeah, thanks for the heads-up, pal.

Restart! [<BOOM>]

I agonized for a while with what to do for the first sentence for my attempt to re-enter the blogging community and finally deciding to wimp out and write about the opening sentence instead. Goal #1: Completed!

As I said, this is technically the second blog that I’ve run. The first one I started a number of years ago, with no firm goal in mind—I was just going to mumble about whatever was going on or whatever I felt like talking about. I didn’t do too bad getting things written, but since it was somewhat lacking a purpose in life, I got a little bored with it. This time around, I’m going to focus on writing technical content, as it should help me to learn more about the things that I do every day. Of course, there’s also the part about how all of the cool kids in #sqlhelp are doing it.

I had been kicking around the thought of doing this for a while, and actually it was Mike Reigler’s first post about SQL Cruise that finally pushed me over the edge. Reading his awesome post about the cruise and how he decided it was worthwhile to go for whatever reason finally made me decide that I wanted to do it, too. I’m in no way, shape, or form a good writer, so I don’t know how well this will go over, but I’m going to subject you guys to it, anyway (at least until you decide this is lame).

My goal here at the beginning is to get a post up once a week. It’s not very much, but since I don’t do a lot of crazy stuff at work, I will be doing good if I can pull that off. Who knows, maybe I’ll start to get a bunch of cool stuff going on and I’ll be able to pound stuff out all the time. I hope that I can keep it technical and useful enough to live up to the high standards of SQL bloggers 🙂

The <BOOM> Thing…

This is going to be one of those long crazy stories that I have that will only make sense to me and nobody will read all of. It’s OK, I understand.

The Boom… I used to eat, breathe, and sleep aerospace-related stuff. Until I was in middle school, I wanted to be an Astronaut. This means that I would watch every space- and flying-related show that PBS would put on (<insert shout out to WTTW here>).

Somewhere along the line there was an episode of something that covered the X-15. One of the things included was the time that one of the test airframes blew up on Scott Crossfield during a static engine test. The way I remember it going down, was the engine flamed out, someone said “restart” over the radio, and immediately after that, it exploded. For as long as I can remember, whenever someone says “restart”, my brain fills in an explosion right afterwards. Sometimes this is funny, other times, not so much.

That’s where the <BOOM> is from.

While thinking about putting this story down on paper, I realized that due to the awesomeness of the Internet, there might be some tape of this incident on YouTube. Guess what? There is! Awesome right? Run it up to the one minute mark for the juicy bit:

(link if embed fails: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXpEPZ6ZZIs)

Turns out, it’s a little bit not-so-awesome, because it appears to have been a planned shutdown of the motor, AND, as you can see/hear, the voice on the radio didn’t say restart, they said reset. Obviously this destroys like 20 years of nostalgia, and now I’m lost in life because my “restart <boom>” thing is all wrong.

The Internet giveth, the Internet taketh away (apologies to God).