First class is in the books

Standing out in the hallway, feeling a little awkward being back on a college campus after so many years.

“Am I prepared?”
“Will they listen?”
“Will they get it?”

Deep breath…..”Let’s roll….”

First 10 minutes or so was a little awkward, going over the syllabus, talking about me, talking about them, talking about the class requirements, etc.  Started bouncing around too much, reined it in.  Deep breaths.  Started slow, asked them about their experiences, found out more about them, used that in making my points as the class went on.
What I learned:

  • Talk to them, not at them.
  • Get them to ask questions, especially the quiet ones.
  • Appreciate ‘that person’ for speaking up repeatedly and then ask “Anyone…except Jane/Jim” and chuckle.
  • Stare at the guy on the phone until he realized you’ve stopped and everyone’s looking at him 🙂  (not have to worry about it going forward now 😉
  • Relax
  • Have Fun
  • Don’t drink your water so quickly, it’ll make you squirm while you lecture
  • Prepare differently – put together more general notes instead of specifics and stick to that list in the order you lay it out.

That’s what I learned from teaching my first class last night.  It’s a Database Design and Development class at the community college right near where I live.  22 people, FOUR HOURS, once a week.  Broke it up to give them breaks (and allow me to pee), and mostly stuck to the agenda in my head.  All of the pages of notes I wrote out sat on the desk, I didn’t even read them.

You really owe it to yourself to find something that you really enjoy doing.  If you are lucky enough, then you’ll never do a day of work.  I have to say, I’m DIGGIN teaching!  Got so fired up when they started discussing and asking questions.  Saw several ‘AHA’ moments and those are the things that make you feel really good.

Had one guy come up after class, we’ll call him G, to ask a few questions after I let them split a few minutes early.

G:      That was a great class, the best four-hour session I’ve had here.
Me:   Wow, that’s great, I’m really happy to hear that!
G:      I’m really interested in the material, but you made it so much easier to understand.  I love the way you get into it, you can tell you really love what you do and that you love teaching.  How long have you been teaching?
Me:   *looking at the clock* Um, about 3hrs and 40 min.  *smiles*
G:       Nice.  How long have you been teaching all together?
Me:   *looking back at the clock*  About 3hrs and 41 min  *smiles*
G:       That was your first class?  No way, that’s awesome!

Had a few other students walk up at that point and ask the same thing.

All:    Can’t wait till next week, Have you done lectures/public speaking before?….

and several other really nice compliments.  Ended up walking out, talking to G after closing everything down.  He’s transferring to my son’s school in the spring and was curious what I thought etc.

G:    Have you thought of teaching more classes?  You should definitely try to do more, we need more people like you here!

Even if I only reach this one kid, I’ll count this semester a success.  You know that teacher that you had for some subject in some school that you still appreciate and think about?  Yeah, that’s who I want to be.

To everyone who is thinking about breaking out of their mold/rut/routine to try something new and scary….


I did, and I’m stoked I did.

Giving back

One thing I’ve learned being part of the SQL Community is that they are an amazing group of people.  So many people have been incredibly supportive through my journey of the last few years, riding the highs and lows with me the whole way.

Now it’s time for me to give back some of that support.  Tonight is the first night of my class at the local community college, teaching Database Design and Development.  Four-hour class, once a week.  YIKES!

Excited, nervous, panicked, elated – I’ve been running the gauntlet of emotions for the last week, I just want to get in and start kicking stuff around.  Wish me luck!

SQL Summit Post

I’m creating a post that I will update as I go along.

I’ve gotten approval from my company to go for the whole week.  If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that sees the benefits in investing in their employees, be thankful 🙂

Got the room through the site for the week, we’re flying in Sunday & flying out Friday night (late).  Wife is coming with me and bringing her bestie so they’re going to go exploring while I’m at the conference.  We’re hoping to meet some friends for dinner and go to the airport afterwards.


  1. Look for discounts and sign up before they expire.
  2. Sign up for the First time attendee presentation by Denny Cherry & Assoc link is to the 2017 presentation.  I’ll update more once it takes place.
  3. Use Lyft or the train to get from the airport to downtown.  If you don’t have to rent a car, don’t.

Links to convince them it’s a great opportunity for you AND for them:

New to Pass/Summit links

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.