What do you with you knew when you started in SQL?

I have a request.  I’ve been given the opportunity to teach a course at our local community college on Database Design and Development and they’ve given me room to come up with my own curriculum.  I want to create a balance of theory, practice, quizzes, and projects, but one of the things I feel like I have a great opportunity to do is to pass on some really great knowledge that I’ve picked up over the years.

Please comment below and give me examples of things you wish you knew sooner.  I’d like to put as many tools in my students toolboxes before they get moving.  Feel free to leave advice on teaching in a formal setting, keeping people’s attention and the most important thing….

How do I keep people’s attention if the class if FOUR HOURS LONG?!?!?  Two hour lecture, two hour lab, once a week.

as an example – someone mentioned on twitter that one of the most important things they’ve taught their students is the practice of always writing out a select statement to get the right number of records, THEN changing the select to update/delete, etc so as to not inadvertently have an Oh $#!& moment.  (my apologies, I went back through my feed and couldn’t find the post posted by Brian Hogan)

Professor Cushing

My daughter is going to be a senior in highschool, but for a long time now, she keeps asking “Why aren’t you a teacher?”  Seems she and her friends liked the way I taught them how to roll sushi!  I’ve taught martial arts for years at a time, and I guess people liked the way I did it, because I always got a positive response.

She and I were on our way home one night from her friends, and as we were driving past the local community college, she brought it up again.  My Dad used to work near where I live now and had taught a class for a few semesters, so she wondered why I couldn’t.

“Why not?” I thought the next day.  I wrote to the Chair of the department to ask him about what credentials were needed to teach, and turned out he could grandfather me in as an adjunct because of my work experience.  We had gone back and forth over email for several days, but something clicked because we hit it off and I go to sign the HR paperwork on Monday to teach a Database Design and Development class in the fall.

Psyched/Freaked as hell, should be a lot of work, and a lot of fun.  Wondering if I’ll end up with students who are friends with my kids since some of them are going there.  Anyway, this is a reminder to everyone – you gain nothing by not risking anything.  Granted, I wasn’t risking much with an email, but here we are.

Wow!  Now I have to design my curriculum!!!

When you like where you work

I spent way too long chasing the title and the paycheck, only to turn around when I thought I had ‘made it’ to realize that I was miserable.  Job environment aside, I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do, and as time passed, I was moving further and further away from hands on development.

Took some time, but with a lot of encouragement from #SQLFamily on twitter, a bit of belt tightening, and a move to a pure dev job, I finally felt like I was on the right path.  Thanks to the universe throwing me a seriously good bone, I landed in a job I like to do, working for people I respect both personally and professionally, and things are amazing.  The company I work for shares a lot of the same moral views, so instead of getting behind a company to help them succeed so I can keep my job, I can get behind the message and morals of the company.

I was visiting with some friends this weekend and they all kvelled at  my getting a position with such an amazing company.  I didn’t realize it until someone pointed it out – whenever I talked about the company or someone here, I was grinning from ear to ear.  Granted, I have been here less than two months, but I had a good laugh at the fact that yesterday afternoon, I was looking forward to coming in today.

We all deserve to be happy.  Like I said, I got REALLY lucky that this one fell into my lap.  The point is, look around at your situation.  I’m not saying that everyone needs to change jobs or be as drastic as I was.  Just open your eyes and look and see what  you’re doing and see if it makes you happy.  If not, what does?  And What would it take to get to that?  Is that realistic?

Good luck!

It’s all about what and where you do things

I started my career out of college with a bright, shiny degree in Accounting working for Accounttemps doing everything from payroll to filing to accounts payable.  Landed my first fulltime gig after a 6 month temp to perm working as an internal auditor for a company in Texas.  Great company, wonderful people.  I realized very quickly that if I had to do bank reconciliations for the rest of my career, I’d end up in a loony bin.  I was good at it too, found some shifty stuff, but knew it wasn’t my long term gig.  Got a break when the IT director called me into his office and explained that if I was going to defrag and improve performance on the computers in Accounting, that I should come work for him and do it fulltime since I enjoyed it.

That was my first help desk gig.  Knew I was in the right place within a few hours.

Fast forward over the years – got more interested in titles and cash than I did in being happy and doing what I liked – programming and data.  By the time I realized that I wanted to be the one elbow deep in code and not dealing with HR crap, I had almost ‘managed’ my way out of development all together.  Again, I was good at it, I just realized that once I had the title and the $, neither were worth how miserable I was, nor how much I missed being in development fulltime.

Took a salary cut to get a fulltime gig doing what I wanted to do, but I had done a lot of looking at myself and my life and realized that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, but I hadn’t been there long and I wanted to give it a chance.  A once in a lifetime opportunity dropped, literally, into my lap and now I know what I’m supposed to be doing, and I’m where I’m supposed to be.

Think about this.  Work is going to take a majority of your time,  your sanity, and in my case, your hairline 🙂  I had found a bunch of jobs with great environments, but wasn’t doing what I knew I should be, or at least I knew I shouldn’t be doing what I was doing.  Been to one or two places where I was doing what I wanted to do, and even with the people I wanted to do it with, but the environment wasn’t conducive to staying sane.

Don’t stop learning, experimenting, pushing your boundaries.  Sitting there being miserable is a bad cycle to be in – trust me, I had plenty of these moments.  Do some online training, read a crap-ton of books, talk to people, network like a fiend.  If you work hard, and consistently, you’ll be ready for that once in a lifetime opportunity.  I found it, and it’s opening doors of knowledge for me I didn’t even know were there.

Never stop striving to better yourself, but make sure you take the time to be mindful of what’s going on around you, and thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved.

Most importantly, give back when and where you can.

Turn the page, again :)

I’ve been at my present company for about 9 months, I’m happy here – getting the hang of things, supporting this, coming up with some cool solutions to make things easier for people.  The commute is about an hour each way, but it’s worth it.  I’m happy, I get out on time, have a really good home/work  balance.

Then a recruiter drops me a line and throws everything into a spin.  I wasn’t looking, hadn’t even updated my resume.  Calls me with an opportunity to work for a really great company, less than two miles from my house.  I had no idea this company was even there.  Had a great interview, really liked what I experienced there and what they’re offering as far as tech and solutions they’re looking to build.

On April 10th, i’ll start at Applegate Farms as a Business Intelligence Developer, working with a great bunch of people.  I’ve never had more of a stake in a company than I will with this one – they were one of the first products we found when Gillian was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2007.  They make meats and cheeses, and I gotta say, some of the best bacon I’ve ever had.

Sometimes the universe just lines things up for you.  WOO!

What are my Reps doing anyway?

So, I was curious about things and wanted to educate myself, especially since it looks like we’re all going to hell in a handbasket (or is it hen basket?).  Regardless of who you voted for, even if you won’t admit it, you have to have some misgivings about the man who will become our next president.

I will always respect the position.  He is the duly elected leader of our country, and deserves our respect.  In this case, and I will not use his name here because I feel like he’s addicted to click-bait, I will respect him because of the position he will be in, but I will never respect him as a person.  Bush Sr, as much as I didn’t like his policies, I respected the man, and the position.  His son?  Okay, I respected the position 🙂

What really shook me was a realization I had the other day.  Something occurred to me that made me stop and think, which I don’t think i’ve really been doing enough of lately except at work.  Senators and Members of Congress are elected by the people.  All hollywood and TV stuff you’ve learned aside, they are our voices in DC when it comes to making and passing laws, making the government work, and generally getting things done.  I won’t pretend to understand what either of the jobs entail, but my understanding is that they are there to promote the common good of the state and people they represent and help us continue as a nation.

Again, I’m woefully ignorant and fully admit that I have not been keeping up with political things until it becomes some kind of crisis – for me that was the two Bush W terms, and now this fiasco that we find ourselves in.  From what I can see, people who were hesitant to come out and speak against the president elect, are even more so now.  People who have publicly spoken against him, are now praising him.  Sure, people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are trying to shed light on what’s going on, but I think the tactic of those in power, is to shine lights on things that are not as controversial as what they’re trying to get away with and in some cases, the media is along for the ride.

More and more I see in all facets of this predicament, it comes down to one thing – Money.  Who can make the most, who can get away with the most to make the most, and who can hide the most to get away with the most to make the most.  I’m not going to go into all the ways I believe the American people are going to be shafted in so many ways.  I’m not going to get on my high horse and start asking why no one is accountable anymore.  I’m seeing the sons and daughters and the members of the cabinet starting to circle around like a pack of vultures on a carcass.  It feels like they’re going to be feeding on the US until it becomes said carcass.

Rather than sit and bitch and moan and wring my hands, I’m going to get educated.

So the title of this post is about Congress and the Senate.  I had to look this up, but a Senator’s term is 6 years, and a Member of Congress is 2 years.  Let me ask you this – do you even know who your Senators and Reps are?  Did you bother to look them up to see what they stood for, or like me, just voted party line?  I’m working on that, I am, truly.

So in my research, and yes, this is just me googling stuff and coming back with what I found, so it might be off, I saw that the average term of service of a Senator is 10 years and a Representative is 9.  So in most cases, the average is about 2-3 terms.  That average sounds pretty good, and I don’t have an issue with that.

What I do have an issue with is people who have been there for more than 20 years.  The longest tenure for both bodies was over 50 years.  McConnell has been in the senate for more than 30.  The issue is this – How can someone who has been in DC for that long, really understand what it’s like to be from the state they represent?  How can someone who is making an average amount of $174,000 a year really understand what it’s like living pay check to pay check?  And if you serve more than 5 years, you get most of that in a pension.  And yet, it seems that’s where they’re looking to make cuts – at the very heart of things they depend on.

I guess what I’m getting is the problem is money.  Why would they want to give up their jobs, threaten their own re-elections, if they have it pretty good?  I mean come on, once you get in office, it’s gotta be pretty cushy 🙂  I’m sure its a lot of work, and you have to have the right set of skills, but once you’re there it seems like most of them are more interested in staying there than doing their jobs.  Where most of us are working around 250 days (if you have two weeks vacation and holidays off) where they only work about 130-150 (in session).  Yes, I know that they are working on days that they are not in session, but the appearance is that they’re doing very little but passing stuff that will increase the profits of someone other than the american people.

Yes, this might have been a very naive post, and maybe I’m deluding myself into thinking I can make a difference, but it’s been on my mind and I’ve wanted to at least write it all out, even if it only makes sense to me.


How will you change the world?

Hope is great word.  According to Wikipedia Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.

Is hope more than just wishful thinking?  To me it always seemed a passive attitude, like you were waiting for something to happen.  To me, I always wanted to help it along by doing anything possible to make what I hoped happen, to actually happen.

I feel like with enough people with true hope, the world could change for the better.  I also feel like people are swallowed up in the immediate and material that people are distracted away from the real point we’re here – at least what I feel like is the real point we’re on the planet.  To make a difference.  I’ve spent the last several years so wrapped up in trying not to be miserable at work, trying not to bring that home, trying to save enough to do the things I want to do without spending so much that I can’t save, etc.

I feel like I have a lot to give.  I’ve done a decent job, imho, raising two wonderful children and giving back through the community and getting involved in things.  Lately tho, now that I have time to sit and think, i’m coming to the realization that I can do more.  With the technical skills I have, I want to try to help non-profits or agencies that help homeless and mentally disabled people do more to stretch their taxed budgets.

I have some ideas on who to contact and get that moving.

What are you going to do?

Happenings of a travel newbie…

I decided to start what might seem like an obvious list of things to bring when travelling, that I nonetheless figured out the hard way.  Feel free to comment, I’ll add it to the list.

  1. Do not bring two small containers of conditioner, shampoo is necessary.
  2. Take that old beat up pair of headphones and stick them in the bottom of your bag.  You will need them when you forget your decent ones and you’re on a flight surrounded by a group travelling halfway across the world who thinks it’s necessary to talk the whole three hours of the flight minus the ten minutes before landing when most of them fell asleep.
  3. Air horn to set off once ChatterBoxPackOfTravellers falls asleep.
  4. Comfortable clothes to travel in.  Thought about it, and had the clothes, next time I’m changing into sweats.
  5. Smaller device to watch movies on than my 17in laptop that I couldn’t open all the way.
  6. USB charger to plug my dying phone into said humongous laptop.
  7. Sharp pointy things for my elbows to move the butts of the people who leaned against my chair waiting to get to the restroom.
  8. Upgrades to move from the 2nd to last row before the bathroom because I have so little status with United Air.
  9. Extra pair of reading glasses to try to do crossword puzzle on my dying phone.  One of the butt leaners stepped on my glasses the .0000001 seconds after it fell from my pocket because I leaned forward away from the stinky breath of the traveller behind me trying to talk to my neighbor.

Yeah, it was all kinds of fun 🙂

Be Thankful & Get Off Your Ass

With everything going on in the world from Hurricane Matthew(no relation), to deciding which shiny turd to vote into office, to Clowns roaming neighborhoods on the east coast freaking people out – you have to take a minute and realize that you have a lot to be thankful for and you have a lot to do.

Life can change in an instant, do you want to be left standing there after a huge loss/disappointment/tragedy or even at the end of your days saying “I should have…” or “I wish I had…”.  There have been a lot of videos that I’ve seen lately that talk about people on the verge of death or late in life having things they wish they’d done when they had the chance.

The big question I keep asking myself is “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?”  I’ve been thinking lately that I’m a good man.  I’m a good friend (most of the time when I reach out to people), a good husband and father, and just good in general.  I like helping people, it makes me feel better about my own little world.  Lately, i’ve been feeling really mortal.  Having just left a bad situation, i’m slowly recovering, and thankfully some of the health issues I had going on are slowly but surely fixing themselves.  I’m no longer sweating through my undershirts by 10am or having trouble being around people 🙂  One thing that I do have to do once and for all is get my sinuses fixed.  Having surgery tomorrow to reduce some of the swelling in the internal bits and fixing a deviated septum I didn’t even realize I had.

Other than that, I have been making an effort to make myself uncomfortable by taking on things that are not in my sandbox.  I’ve fiddled around with the bass, but I’ve always wanted to be that guy that picks up an acoustic and plays campfire stuff everyone can sing along to.  So I finally decided to do something about it and was playing my daughter’s acoustic, which is smaller than normal and hard to learn on.  A good friend who is an excellent blue guitarist went out and bought me a new acoustic to play on and I committed to taking lessons.  Here’s what I sound like after two weeks:  (admittedly, I need to stop being so negative about my playing.  I’m going to be recording more on a weekly basis before my lesson to track my progress.  This is supposed to be Lyin Eyes by the Eagles.

It’s frustrating, my fingers are still hurting a lot, but you know what, it’s so satisfying when you get something.  It’s totally different from what I expected, and truthfully, it’s harder than I thought it’d be, but 1000x more rewarding.

So, in a long rambling way, I guess I’m saying that you should just go for it on something you’ve always wanted to do.  Worst case scenario, you can cross it off the list of “I wish I had” and move onto the next one 🙂

Good luck and let me know what you’re working on.  I’ll be your cheerleader!