Seattle for Summit 5×5: No. 3

Couple of boats in the Ballard Locks in 2011

In the last post of this series, I talked about things to see/do in Seattle that are close to downtown and/or otherwise fit into the usual conference intraweek schedule. Today, I’ll hit five things that likely will require an extra day (or two) in your trip. It may be too late for extra days this year, seeing as we’re two weeks out, but maybe you can work one of these into your next trip to SEA.

Hiram M. Chittenden (“Ballard”) Locks
3015 NW 54th Street, Ballard, WA
OK, this one may be a little goofy, I know. North of downtown Nashville, there are a set of locks built between Puget Sound and Salmon Bay, which is connected to Lake Union, and eventually Lake Washington (Lake Washington is the big body of water between Seattle and Redmond/Bellevue). These are part of a full canal connecting the sound with the lake built 100 years ago to aid/assist shipping between the bodies of water. They’re still used today, and even during the time of year when Summit is going on, there can be a fairly steady stream of traffic. For someone from boring landlocked flyover country, this is a fun thing to watch.

There is also a fish ladder, primarily serving migratory salmon heading back upstream into fresh water as part of the complex. There’s a viewing area as part of that, where you can watch the fish swim upstream. The salmon are usually done swimming by the time of year that Summit is going on, though.

The city of Woodinville is located northeast of Seattle, across Lake Washington and outside of the 405 bypass. The main point of going to Woodinville (at last for us) is for wine and the occasional distillery. There are a lot of tasting rooms and the like in town, and it’s possible to drive (Lyft, whatever) out there and walk to a bunch of places in one morning/afternoon/etc. There are a few “districts” with clumps of tasting rooms/wineries that make this easy. There are also scheduled events that go on, if scheduling works out while you’re in town.

The Museum of Flight
 9404 E Marginal Way S
Located on-field at Boeing Field/King County International Airport (KBFI) (You know that other airport you drive by between SEATAC and downtown? There.), this is the largest aerospace museum in the world. It is home to a nearly-endless stream of aircraft, related artifacts, and other air-and-space exhibits. There’s something here for anyone with even a passing interest in aviation and possibly even those who don’t–although those folks will probably be more interested in walking around the Aviation Pavilion, the outdoor static display of large aircraft that’s part of the museum, where there are a good chunk of airliners–old, new, fast, and slow.

Boeing Factory Tours
8415 Paine Field Blvd, Mukilteo, WA
The Boeing Factory at Snohomish County Airport/Paine Field (KPAE) has the fun distinction of being the largest airport in the world by volume. Boeing lets us go on tours of their production lines here, which includes 777s, 787s, and the Queen of the Skies. There’s also the Future of Aviation center here, which is another museum-type apparatus.

Also on-field at KPAE is Paul Allen’s (yes, that Paul Allen) private collection of 1930s and ’40s aircraft/aviation equipment and WWII hardware.

Grand Coulee Dam (Brace yourself for 1996)
WA-155, Coulee Dam, WA (this is literally the best I can do for an address)
This is where things get super-nerdy. See, my wife and I have a little bit of a thing about dams, so we make strange trips to, well, see dams. There happens to be a giant one–it’s almost a mile long–about four hours east of Seattle! We’ve still never actually made it out to this, because it’s probably a two-day thing due to the length of the drive. One of these years.

Seattle for Summit 5×5: No. 2

This was on the waiter’s station at Bush Garden in 2011

For installment #2 of this brief series on visiting Seattle for PASS Summit, we have a semi-touristy-flavored list of things to do/places to go. These are items that can (or should) be worked into your “normal” conference schedule, without needing to have extra time in town, a car, or such. This list doesn’t include the Pike Place Market, because that’s kind of a gimme, and you’re probably going to do that, anyway. These are other items that are either unofficial parts of the Summit experience itself, or other places that we like to visit for various reasons.

Things to Do: Semi-Touristy

Bush Garden
614 Maynard Ave S
You’ve heard of “SQL Karaoke”, right? Up to, and including the party that we (DCAC) have thrown on Tuesday evening for a few years now. But before there was that, there was Bush Garden.

Bush Garden, you see, is this little place that’s cheap Asian food place by day, karaoke bar by night. I’m not sure who found it first, but it has been a near-nightly place to go during Summit for good number of years now. There’s been Jägermeister incidents, bad singing, good singing, my wife doing dishes one time, and then there’s the green couch.

This will be the second year that “the building has been closed, so Bush Garden could go away at any moment” rumors have been present, so as long as they’re still open now–which I believe they are–you gotta go at least one night this year, because this may be it.

World Spice Merchants
1509 Western Ave
Tucked behind the Pike Place Market towards the sound, this is a favorite place of us to visit. World Spice Merchants is exactly what it sounds like–a place to buy spices. Also having teas, the walls of this place are lined with little glass jars with raw/bulk spices in them that you peruse, taking notes on what you want and how much of it on waiter pads. At the end, you hand your list over to the staff, and they pack everything up for you. Take it with you, or they will ship it home for you. They’ve got lots of stuff that may be otherwise hard to find (especially for us), so if you’re into cooking, don’t skip making a trip down here.

Wines of Washington Tasting Room
1924 Post Alley
If you’re into wine, you know how good PacNW cabs can be, and this is an excellent place to experience them. Set up almost like your friends’ living/dining/family room, with small tables and board games on shelves on the wall, this can be a fun place for either hardcore wine tasting (we ran them out of glassware one afternoon) or a cool place to just chill with friends in the evening. You can of course buy bottles here to take [home] with you, and they also have a club.

13 Coins (at 3 AM)
125 Boren Ave
So, you see… There aren’t many places open really late in Seattle. Except for 13 Coins. They’re open 24 hours, so no matter what you’re doing (or when), you can count on being able to stop by here for some good eats. Up super-early because your body’s still on Eastern time and it’s 7:00 AM where you “are”? You closed down Bush Garden and now you’re hungry? Here ya go. They have big booths, good food, and can be quite accommodating when a dozen people show up together in the middle of the night for, uh “breakfast.”

Clay’s Market (“The bodega at the convention center”)

815 Pike St
Outside the convention center (but in the building), up the street a little bit from the Crepe place and the Subway, kinda hidden underneath is Clay’s Market. This is a handy (although admittedly a little seedy) very handily-located place to buy the kinds of things you would buy at, well, a bodega. Due to its proximity to the convention center, expect prices to be higher than you may otherwise like.

There’s also another, larger place a few blocks further up Pike that has more items and more reasonable prices. If you don’t mind the walk there or need to buy ten little bottles of orange juice, that may be a better stop.

City Target

1401 2nd Ave
Bonus item!
My wife and I are from rural Indiana, and we still live a little bit out in the country, doing our shopping/such in the classic suburban situation, where there’s more parking lot than there is store. Therefore, when we first went walking around downtown Seattle, we were enamored with the “City Target”, a small-in-area-but-three-levels-high Target store right in the middle of the city. Individual bananas for 25 cents, shopping cart escalators, and a smaller selection of everything you’d expect from a Target. Usually full of locals doing their normal shopping, this can also be an excellent place to pick up some food if you’re tired of eating out at restaurants all the time and have a way to cook it, if you don’t mind the walk down towards the waterfront.

Seattle for Summit 5×5: No. 1

Seattle Coffee Works sign

via max137; Creative Commons

It’s now October (OK, over a week in), and that means for a lot of us SQL Server folks, we have the PASS Summit in Seattle to look forward to at the end of the month. Yes, fine, it tends to fall in November more often.

ANYWAY, a lot of us have gone there for a lot of years, and so we’ve seen a good chunk of downtown and know some good places to eat/such and things to do. So, although Denny’s already done his annual “Summit Firsttimers” webcast, I’m adding some more places/things for newbies and veterans alike. I’ve got five lists of five things coming up over the coming weeks to help you find some good coffee, fun things to do, and where to find all of us crazy people who tend to stay up too late most nights.

Coffee & Quick Bites

There’s a lot of good coffee and good food in Seattle, a lot of which is close to the convention center or otherwise within walking distance. This list of five places–in no particular order–are some of my favorite places to fuel up during the long week of partying learning.

Victrola Coffee Roasters
310 E Pike St
I tend to forget the actual name of this place, so will refer to it as “telegraph” or similar old technology thing when I can’t get it together. This place is up on Capitol Hill up Pike St from the Convention Center and is home to some of the best coffee in town. It’s one of Joey’s favorite places to go, although it is a bit of a hike to get there, plus it can be a total house in the mornings. It’s still worth it, as the coffee truly is great.

Seattle Coffee Works
107 Pike St.
In the opposite direction, down towards the Sound and the market and also on Pike Street is Seattle Coffee Works. As drinking coffee from the same place all week may not be what you’re looking for (also, you’re in Seattle, spread the love), this is another great option.

Cafe Campagne
1600 Post Alley
Do you like Croques Madame? Do you know what a Croque Madame is? If you answered yes to these–or you just looked up what it was and decided you can’t live without one now (good choice)–there’s this awesome little French restaurant/café in Post Alley in the Pike Place Market. Croques, real baguettes, the menu’s mostly/all in French, so yeah. If you’re into this sort of thing, it’s a nice Saturday or Sunday morning before you head out of town stop, but get there early, because this place gets pretty busy pretty fast in the mornings.

La Creperie Voila
It’s in the Convention Center. On the street. Next to the Subway. No, the other Subway.
This is handy for grabbing breakfast on the way in or a mid-afternoon snack. Pretty cheap, pretty good, and location, location, location.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room
1124 Pike St
Yes, not everyone likes Starbucks, I know. But, a few years ago, Starbucks built this enormous coffee roastery, tasting room, and general temple to the coffee bean. It’s a neat place to go to due to the elaborate coffee conveyor belts that populate the place to feed the roasters. They’ve got some good single-source coffees here and other stuff that you can’t get in regular Sbux stores, and unique mugs & such.

PASS Summit 2012

I feel really bad about not getting a post up about this before now. Since it’s to the point where people are already on their way to SEA or already here for this year’s Summit, it’s not like I’m going to be able to talk anyone into spontaneously deciding to go. I mean, unless you’re totally made of money and this last-minute of a flight and full Summit price wouldn’t be that big of a deal to you. In fact, I’m writing this (posted later) from the starboard-side exit row of a Southwest 737-700 rocketing along at FL400, typing on my Surface’s Touch Cover, which I’m only about 2/3 happy with (some of it is due to the seating arrangement, some of it due to not 100% being used to the keyboard yet).

SWA 2410 Flight Tracker
Not really willing to trade flying ourselves for this kind of speed and altitude, but I do it anyway.

This is only our second time to go to Summit. Last year was the first, and was also the first time that we met a lot of the #SQLFamily that we felt like we already knew, mostly due to Twitter over the couple-three years before. ‘Course, now we actually do know a lot of people, and they’re some of our favorite people around.

Summit gets talked up a lot about being a near-sleepless, heavy learning, heavy partying networking event that’s second-to-none. For a bit, before we came last year, I didn’t think it could be AS GOOD as everyone says it is. And, well, I was wrong. Every good conference should have your brain melted by the time it’s all over. It’s two, three, four days of hours of learning, lots of time about stuff that’s at least partially over your head; that does wear on you.

I’ve been to conferences before, so that part of it wasn’t new to me. What was new is all the other stuff–all of the stuff that happens after the sessions are over for the day. Everyone always says it, but it bears repeating: If you eat dinner by yourself (or maybe with some coworkers that came in a group) and then go up to your hotel room by yourself for the rest of the night, yer doin’ it wrong. Summit is not the place to be That Guy. I know, because I used to be That Guy.

I will be the first to tell you that being That Guy does have some advantages. It allows you to review what you learned that day. If you have enough/the right equipment with you, you might even be able to tinker around with some demo code you picked up that day, or experiment with some new way of doing your nightly index maintenance.

Those are all good things. Possibly even good things to do while you’re at the event. But, when SQL Family is involved, there’s something even better to do–hang out. Talk to people. Go to SQL Karaoke. Go to dinner with the guy who presented on your favorite topic that day (OK, that one might be hard to pull off, but I can tell you from experience, it IS possible). I think it’s better to take good notes during the day (I can type faster than I can write and still be able to read it later, so I plan accordingly) so when you review them a few days later on the airplane ride home, you are still able to apply what you learned. Even better, recordings of all the main conference sessions are available for purchase before and during Summit, which makes it even easier to refresh your memory about what you learned long after you’re back home.

In Conclusion…

If you’re going to be there next week, come hang out with us. I’m not quite one of the cool kids, but they humor me, so it’s all good. See, that’s another good thing about networking at Summit–as I’ve said beforeabout this group of people, they’re all awesome, and they all understand–What you do, why you do it, what keeps you up at night… All of it. This is why SQL Family are some of my favorite people around.

See you guys at the Tap House.

Recap: SQL Saturday 160 (AZO) and Some Other Driving

This trip to Kalamazoo was, at first, supposed to be the front end of an epic road trip involving SQL Saturday 160 and SQL Saturday 149 in MSP. Those plans wound up scrapped when Tammy’s brother announced his wedding date on the same day as 149. Instead of spending the week between visiting friends & family in NW Indiana and doing stuff in Chicago, we only did some of those things; for the most part spending time in/around Indianapolis. It wasn’t all bad, as we were able to spend more time with some people than we otherwise would have; those people just weren’t #SQLFamily 😉 .

SQL Saturday 160 was the second SQL Saturday that Tammy submitted a session to. The first was Kansas City back at the beginning of August (159). The one that started it all was kind of a non-standard submission: Long story short, Andy Galbraith (blog | @DBA_ANDY) said on Twitter that they had five (or so) speaker slots still available and anyone interested should submit a session. I more-or-less threw Tammy under the bus publically on this, she did submit her “SSRS for Nubs” (not really its name) session, and it was accepted. Yay, speaker!


Packed car

I could say that we had a bunch of extra stuff for Tammy’s mom, which is true, but we still pack like a family of four going on a month-long trip to Europe

We steamed away from the house on Thursday morning. Left so early because we were going to stop for a bit in Indianapolis to visit Tammy’s Grandma, who is still in the hospital recovering from open-heart bypass surgery. We wouldn’t have otherwise been able to get to Kalamazoo in time for the Speaker’s dinner if we had waited to leave & do all of that on Friday.

After eight hours-and-change in the car, including my first-ever speeding ticket while driving through Louisville (because I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing), we made it to Kalamazoo and checked into the water-logged hotel. Turns out something happened to a sprinkler head on the third floor, and drenched half the hotel (and by “something”, I mean, “some guest allegedly broke it”). This means that half of the people staying in the hotel that weekend were going to have to be moved somewhere else. Probably the only thing that got us a room for the weekend was the fact that we got there on Thursday instead of Friday. Everyone who had a reservation had a room in one of two other hotels (one of which wasn’t part of their chain), so that was good.

The Good Stuff

Friday was a nice, relaxing day, where we didn’t actually do much. We kind of needed that.

Had the Speaker’s Dinner Friday night at Tim Ford’s (blog | @SQLAgentMan) place. I love Tim, and after this weekend, pretty much his whole family, too. He had a head-start on that, being a fellow Pentax shooter and all. We had been to a SQL Saturday Speaker Dinner once before, ahead of Nashville’s first SQL Saturday two years ago (they had invited volunteers to it), but this is the first one where we were actually there as a speaker (well, Tammy’s the speaker; I’m just Demo Tech Support). I’m still not quite used to being one of the “cool kids” yet, so I spent some time simply weirded out by being where I was with who I was Friday night.

Saturday itself went really well from my perspective. We didn’t get to the venue as early as I would have liked (my fault), but it was a great venue and there was even some breakfast available! I went to a session in every time slot, as there was interesting stuff for me, and it’s not like I had to sit around and be nervous about speaking later.

My favorite session (criteria: general “interestingness” of the topic/session and how many detailed bits of info I learn and can take away) is probably a toss-up between David Giard’s (blog | @DavidGiard) Data Visualization and Allen White’s (blog | @SQLRunr) “Manage SQL Server 2012 on Server Core w/ PowerShell”.

David’s was nice, because it’s full of little ways to improve data visualization that might not seem so obvious until they’re pointed out…at least not for me. I maybe got more “don’t”s than “do”s out of it, but that’s still OK. Some of the “don’t”s are really good. I especially like David’s use of Charles Joseph Minard’s chart of Napoleon’s army during the French invasion of Russia in 1812. Full res of the chart is on Wikimedia here, and is inlined in the Wikipedia page on the invasion itself. The chart is sweet, because it shows so many different pieces of info all at the same time in a fairly easy-to-understand and interpret package. Lots can be learned about data visualization from that one single chart.

I got a lot out of Allen’s session, although possibly not what he exactly has in mind. I’ve recently begun building a new test environment at the house, self-contained on a Dell PowerEdge 2950 that I picked up a few weeks ago. My intent with this is to do everything all ultra-modern. The metal has Server 2012 Core installed on it, running Hyper-V. Everything will be virtualized in that environment. I’m doing this for a couple of main reasons, but I realize that talking about it too much here is fairly off-topic, so I’m going to skip it for now. Anyway, I was a fan of just watching Allen work within Server Core, because although I’ve got our server set up from that standpoint, there was a lot of Googling semi-randomly, running either legacy commands or PS snippets that I barely understood. I have everything written down that I ran, but now I understand a little more of it. Additionally, I know what I need to set up SQL 2012 on Core, which is a task that is coming up after everything going on in the next month or so calms down (that’s another blog post, too).

Tammy participated in the Women in Technology lunch panel discussion, which I think is the first one of those I’ve gone to (not sure how/why). This particular one didn’t have a specific topic to discuss, which led to a lot of varied conversations. There were a couple of audience members who got specific answers to questions that they had, which was really cool to see.

Tammy’s presentation was in the last slot of the day, which led to a slightly tough crowd. It went well though, with one minor hiccup. I like her presentation in general, and so far she’s been getting good feedback on it. Although this is only the second SQL Saturday it’s been done at, she’s given basically the same training to a couple hundred people internally at her company, so the content is fairly refined. It’s done in SSRS 2008 R2 at the moment, and we’ve talked about upgrading the demo to 2012. For right now, it’s going to stay where it’s at, because we don’t get the feeling that 2012 has reached enough of a critical mass, especially considering the intended audience of this session. In fact, one of the attendees in the session asked a question related to running reports against 2005 instances, because they’re currently stuck there and can’t upgrade.


The after-event was held at the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange. I know very little about this place, other than they have a lot of beers on tap, whose prices are all driven by demand within 15-minute chunks. I hoped this would be good for us, because of our propensity to drink Porters & Stouts. Due to the number of taps they had (and that we’re in Michigan), I also hoped for a good selection of said beers! I wasn’t really disappointed on either point.

Tammy and I both had Dark Horse (Marshall, MI) Thirsty Trout Porters to start out with. I was a big fan based on its name alone, just because it’s a big giant mouthful. I thought it was good. Didn’t write any notes or anything, but I classify it as “definitely a porter”, which all but guarantees I’ll like it. One of the things the KBE has is one cask beer available. When we were there, it was Arcadia Brewing’s (Battle Creek, MI) Baltic Porter. This stuff out of the cask was ri-dic-ulous. Have no idea what it tastes like out of a bottle, and I don’t know if I’d ever even want to after having it like this. It was really that good.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see how their food is, because there was a slight fiasco with getting seating. Apparently the place doesn’t take reservations (which I can understand), and have limited space for even medium-sized (not to mention large) groups (which I can also understand). Long story short on that is we didn’t get to eat there, as some of us basically decided to bail and head back to Tim’s house. Good times were had by all, on all accounts. #SQLCAH

This is one of the best SQL Saturdays we’ve been to but we honestly haven’t been to all that many, so I feel like I’m not saying much.

Back to the Driving

Mostly at the last minute on Sunday, we decided to go to Chicago for the afternoon. I love Chicago. I also love driving to/in Chicago.

It was refreshing to blast up the Dan Ryan at 80 behind a BMW 6 and not have to work too hard to do it, even though traffic wasn’t exactly light. See, Tennessee drivers don’t exactly “get” the whole “keep right except to pass” thing (or, in the form of Kerry’s Driving Rule Number Two, as applied to Multi-Lane Interstates: Only be as far left as your speed and traffic dictate). In fact, when traffic is light-to-light/moderate, the lane where it’s easiest to go fast is usually the far right (#1) lane. Once to a certain point, no clear winner emerges—either you have to just take the speed you can get, or expend a lot of effort—and greatly increase your risk—to weave around in traffic. Bonus points for the guy going 10 under the limit in Lane 1 during rush hour. So, driving on a five lane wide slab of concrete where things work like they’re supposed to is pretty high on my list of favorite things to do.

Did I mention I got a speeding ticket in Louisville on our way up on Thursday? The first one I’ve ever gotten? Because I was spending more time looking at airplanes than paying attention to how fast I was going and the Edge goes fast kinda easy? Yeah. That. Everything makes sense now, doesn’t it? 😉

Steaks at Michael Jordan's

This happened…

Anyway, walked around some there, got our Sunday night steak at Michael Jordan’s restaurant (convenient more than anything), took some pictures, and took the Skyway back to Indiana.

Then more driving, we stopped at my parents’ place, spent some time in Lafayette to see some friends and some other family (and get a DenPop), then time in Kokomo and Indianapolis, Tammy’s brother’s wedding, etc, etc, back to the Osburn Hideaway just in time for Sunday steaks again.

All in all, a really good trip. I’m pretty happy for the time off, even if we were really busy most of the time. It’s always so nice to sleep in our own bed after a trip like this. I don’t know how some of our #SQLFamily do as much traveling as they do. You guys are crazy. And awesome. But possibly mostly crazy.


SQL Saturday 160

Chicago/Indiana/Assorted Flatness; Also, giant turbines