Thankful in November

I’m taking a short break from technical talk today to spend a few minutes thinking about life. My wife started the Thankfulness challenge in November, and while I didn’t participate, I’ve been thinking about life as I watch her posts.

This is a career and learning blog, and much of my life has been about growing my career. However I’ve also had many things outside of my career that are important to me and occupy much of my time. My wife, my kids, my health and fitness, and various hobbies keep me busy, not to mention occasionally filling in as the ranch hand for my wife. I even got some unexpected, but very appreciated thanks this week.

However there is something that I was amazed by this week. The outpouring of support for my call to make a #sqlwish come true was incredible. I was truly touched that so many people came together and donated money that allowed us to raise the entire amount in a day. Not even a day. This is one of those things that makes me think the SQL Server community, the #sqlfamily, is truly a special and amazing thing.

Life is Hard

I do struggle at times with the overall load. I struggle with stress at times. I have plenty of guilt when I’m away from home and something happens. I definitely find that I don’t always have the time I’d like for myself amid all the chaos in life.

However I’m very lucky. I have a wonderful wife I love dearly. I have three kids, well two kids and an adult child, that are all healthy and successful in life. I have a good job that I enjoy. My family is financially secure. We don’t really have any complaints, and I definitely appreciate all that I have. I truly do try to stop and think about the amazing times I’ve had. I use Timehop to revisit memories in my life. I stop as I travel and reflect on the good and bad I see, while considering how I can leave the world a little better than what I found.

I wrote about a fundraiser yesterday, trying to make a #sqlwish come true. I can’t imagine for a moment how my life would be different, or how much things would change if someone in my family were sick. I can’t really imagine the situation, and my heart goes out to Lucy and her family.

As great as it’s been to make the wish come true, I also would like you to reflect a moment on the good things in your life. Your family, your health, your beliefs, the people around you, I’m sure there is some good around you. Stop for a minute and give thanks.

I do hope that all of you reading this are well, and you are able to create a great career doing something you love. I will help where I can, and hopefully SQLServerCentral does that. However I know that life isn’t always easy or smooth. I hope that when you experience tough times that you have someone to help pull you through. If you really need an ear, the #sqlfamily is great. On Twitter, or in our wild and wacky thread, there are plenty willing to listen.

Make a #SQLWish Come True

A few weeks ago I was sitting in Farestart at the annual Friends of Redgate dinner when my eyes teared up. The waiter was explaining the mission of the organization, and I was proud that Redgate chooses to support them. However I was also touched that people choosing to help others when there is so much pain, strife, and suffering in the world. I’m glad the speech was short or I would have had a wet napkin.

I have been lucky in life. I’ve had career success, my family is healthy, and we really don’t have any problems in the world. The difficulties we have are really minor annoyances compared to what so many must deal with. I suspect many of you are in similar situations, working in technology and making a good living. However not that’s not the case for everyone.

We have a prominent member of the #sqlfamily whose child, Lucy, has been sick with a life threatening illness. Mark Broadbent has spent the last few years volunteering his time, helping with the user group and SQL Saturday in Cambridge, UK. He has volunteered to speak and write about SQL Server. I would venture to guess that some portion of you have been helped by Mark’s willingness to share his knowledge. At the same time Mark and his wife, Lorraine, have been dealing with Lucy’s struggles at home.

I’d like to make a wish come true for Lucy and her family. Lucy loves Disney, and I’d like to send the entire family to Walt Disney World in Florida. This is a gift, a gift for a person in our community, a gift that will bring some joy after all they’ve been through.

I’m asking you to join me. I’m asking you to donate funds to help us bring the Broadbents from their home in the UK to the US for a vacation, for a break from the strife in their lives. Lucy is doing well, but she has a long road ahead, and I’d like to bring some joy to a little one that didn’t deserve the struggles she’s faced. I’m asking you to show some love for a member of the #sqlfamily that could really use it.

I’ve set up a fundraiser on, and started off the donations with $200 of my own money. I rarely attach my name to donations, but in this case, I’m hoping to inspire a few of you to join me in trying to raise the $15,000 this will cost.

Whatever you can give is appreciated. $5, the cost of a coffee, or maybe the $10 cost of a quick lunch, or more if I’ve touched you. Maybe a few of you might even get your company wants to participate. Every bit helps, and we’d very much appreciate your generosity.

I’m asking you to pause in your life when you read this. Imagine your child were sick, or a niece or nephew, or even the child of a good friend. Imagine the worry about the child’s future. Imagine the stress from bills and the struggles as you try to somehow work while a child suffers at home or in the hospital.


Now reflect on your good fortune.


Join me in showing the world just how amazing the #sqlfamily can be and make Lucy’s #sqlwish come true.

View the fundraiser at Youcaring

UPDATE: Thank you very much for your support. We achieved our goal in one day and I’m am so proud of the #sqlfamily out there. On behalf of the Broadbents, thank you for your generosity and support.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

Listen to the MP3 Audio ( 3.9MB) podcast or subscribe to the feed at iTunes and LibSyn.


Culture Differences: US v UK

This is a bit of an off topic post from the technical stuff, but there’s a bit of a tie-in, so stick with me.

I had to get a tire fixed this morning. I actually owned a replacement tire, so I just needed someone to mount it on the existing wheel (the existing tire needed to come off). I stopped by Discount Tire this morning in Parker, and I had a quick conversation with the salesman, Brian. He arranged for the service, even gave me a discount, and told me it would take about an hour.

At this point I knew I needed to do some work, and at 9am, I wanted some coffee. I mentioned this to Brian, who said, “It’s a long walk to get coffee.”

He noted that Starbucks was quite a distance for a walk. Certainly it was a hot day, approaching 85F as I exited the shop with my laptop, but a long walk?

My friends and colleagues in the UK would laugh at this. I had to go down a busy road, and it was warm, but 0.6mi is “long”? I think not. Certainly no navigational issues following the blue dotted path.

2015-07-27 12_53_47-Starbucks, South Parker Road, Parker, CO to Discount Tire Store - Parker, CO - G

This struck me as strange as I walked along the road. Certainly I think lots of people in the US might see this as a long walk. They would perhaps ask the shop for a ride, or they’d stay in the store and skip coffee. I suspect that lots of people think any distance outside of the parking lot of an establishment might be seen as “long”.

Far too many of us in the US as lazy in this manner, not willing to move dozens, much less hundreds, of yards. I’ve seen people wait minutes for a close parking spot to a store, when there were plenty of parking spots seconds away.

I thought about this as I walked, and as I walked back. The thought bothered me a bit as I tried to answer some emails and check on SQLServerCentral. Why do we struggle with simple movement in the US? Are so many of us really wedded to cars that much? A summer morning is hot, but it’s a few minutes in the sun.

I was curious how far I traveled in terms of steps, so I checked my Fitbit before leaving Starbucks. It was around 3,100 steps for the day. I checked when I got in my car, and I was at 4,500 steps. That’s about 1,400 steps for a cup of coffee. Each way, of course, but just a mile.

When I think about how little we need to walk, it’s amazing. My job is worse than many in some ways. My meetings are at my desk. My commute is a few dozen steps. Getting lunch in the kitchen is maybe 50 steps. If I don’t make a concerted effort to move, I can easily spend a day at work and get to 6:00pm having traveled less than 2,000 steps.

That’s sedentary.

I do make an effort to exercise and move. Certainly I could do better with my diet, but I am at least attempting to move. That goal was one thing that kept me going on my running streak. I often felt refreshed and no matter how much time I’d spent in front of a computer, I at least ran a mile.

We can all make an effort to move a bit more, especially those of us that spend lots of time in front of a computer. Taking breaks, walking up and down stairs, parking far away, scheduling walking meetings at times, or just making sure we spend some time before/after work moving.

Many of you will have long lives, regardless of how you treat your body. Your career might not be affected at all by poor physical health. However the quality of your life is lower, in my opinion, if you aren’t taking care of yourself a bit.

In the past we often had daily exercise as we lived. We walked around, we had to work to grow our food, or transport it, or just to find social company. Today we can avoid much of that, but I’m not sure we should.

Find some exercise in the margins, find a sport you enjoy, or just take some long walks to contemplate life and enjoy your own, or a friend’s, company.

The Importance of Our Work

My wife has often uttered a particular saying during stressful times in her career. She spent 20 years working in computer telephony and speech, often in sales, and would remind her colleagues that they “weren’t saving babies” as they worked with customers.

It was a reminder that most of our work isn’t, ultimately, that critical to the world. It matters for our businesses to success, for our careers to move forward, but most of the time we should keep some perspective on the value of the time we spend at work versus the rest of our lives.

I ran across that saying recently in a post from Scott Hanselman, and like him, I’ll apologize if your work is actually affecting life. If so, I agree with Mr. Hanselman, make sure you have unit tests. Lots of them.

However for most of us, we’re trying to improve commerce in some way. A few of us work for non-profits or the government and hopefully are trying to make the workings of that organization more efficient.  Some of us might be building systems using open data to improve society in some way. No matter what you do, remember that there is some life outside of technology.

Remember to spend time with your family, with friends, even taking care of yourself. Not only is it healthy to get away from work, it can help refresh you and give you a new perspective on the work you do. Work is important, but keep your efforts in perspective.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

Listen to the MP3 Audio ( 2.0MB) podcast or subscribe to the feed at iTunes and LibSyn. feed

RIP, Mr. Nimoy

I’ve got a lot of memories of Mr. Spock. Played by Leonard Nimoy in the iconic Star Trek series. I grew up watching him, and enjoying his character. While I liked Scotty, I think Spock might have been my favorite of the main characters.


He died today at 83, which I should have expected at some point, but after seeing him in the latest Star Trek movies, I thought he might live for quite some time. It’s a huge reminder of my own mortality as I see more and more people I’ve known, or enjoyed, for most of my life.

A sad day indeed, but I’ll have many, many fond memories of Mr. Nimoy in the years to come.


Lemonade and Life

I’ve got a torn ACL. I found out yesterday at a visit with a surgeon that gave me the results of his exam and an MRI I had last week.

Don’t feel too bad for me. I’ve had this for (I’m guessing) eleven years. In that time I’ve

  • run every day for over 4 years,
  • studied karate for 5 years and earned a black belt
  • snowboarded over 150 days
  • played 6 seasons of baseball at all positions outside of pitcher/catcher
  • played volleyball
  • practiced yoga and Pilates
  • picked up and carried my kids plenty of times
  • played weekly volleyball for over a year.

I’ve done plenty more and felt fairly normal. The knee has been slightly unstable at times, but I’ve just limited, not eliminated, activity.

I need to get this fixed. It’s becoming a problem, and it aches fairly constantly. It also limits my ability to engage in some activities that I think are important for my long term health. Not having an ACL also potentially means that I am hastening future issues as I age. It’s a fairly routine and simple surgery, and I should be walking on my own inside a week. The downside is that I can’t fly for 4 weeks afterwards because of potential blood clot issues.

This means I need a 4 week hole in my schedule, which can be hard to find. I may cancel or miss some events, and I’ll apologize in advance now. I’ll give as much notice as possible, but something will have to give, and it will likely be in the Apr/May/June time frame.

Let’s be clear. I’m not complaining here. My life is amazing and I couldn’t ask for things to be going better. This is, at worst, a minor hassle in my life. Surgery is dangerous, and there could be complications, and I’ll lose a few weeks of activity, but that’s a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things. I’ll get this fixed and move on.

Life does throw issues at you. Many of you have had much worse situations than this minor injury. I’ve had worse things for sure, and I try to remember that the trials and troubles I face are a part of life. I can let them get me down, and sometimes they do, but I can also look past them and remember all the good in life I’ve had, and look forward to the good things I’ll find later.


I have a dream

It seems fitting with the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech that I would write about discrimination this week in my piece “Stunned”. There’s a long discussion over at SQLServerCentral, and along with a phone call with a friend, I thought a bit about what I wrote.

I wasn’t present for the quote. I don’t know if there was nuance, or intent to joke, intent to annoy the listener, or something else. The written word doesn’t convey everything, and I decided not to dig deeper, identify the speaker, or take any actions as it’s all hearsay to me.

However, I do think something along the lines of what you read, was said. I think there are still people that think this way, just as there are people that think various minorities are not competent, trustworthy, or something else.

I have a dream that we will get beyond this as anything other than a rare occurrence. I don’t believe we will ever eliminate racism, or sexism, or really any type of discrimination. But perhaps we can reduce it to a very, very tiny level, get more people to think about there inherent prejudices and work to overcome them.

I’m prejudiced in some ways. I recognize that and try to not let it affect my actions. I try to treat people fairly, and professionally. I try to treat them as I’d expect they will treat me. I want to accept them as they are, work with them with their strengths and weaknesses, and try to ensure I make an effort to increase diversity in my life.

My intent today was to raise awareness. I wanted people to think about the actions, to talk about issues, and recognize that there are still problems in the world, including our tiny SQL Server, data professional world, that we should deal with.

My hope is that we work to ensure this type of attitude is not tolerated. I hope for a frank discussion at user groups that note discrimination is not a part of the group. I hope that both minority groups (females, races, etc) and event/group leaders make efforts to include more disparate people. I hope more women and others make an effort to join in the community and share their knowledge. I hope more leaders choose to include more diverse speakers. If you have two people that are qualified, make the choice for diversity some of the time, rather than perhaps the more well known or safe choice.

I hope we grow closer, not further apart, as a community.

Back and Better

It’s been a great couple of weeks for me. Even though there was a work trip in the middle, I had a couple days off, travel, two partial work days, and then 3 days with my daughter in Northern California.

It was a blast, SQL Saturday was great, and I feel much better coming back to work.

The Vacation Struggle

poolIt’s a little over halfway through the year and once again I’m struggling to get away from work and get through my vacation. It’s not that my boss won’t give me time off, which is a common complaints from many workers in the technology industry. Instead it’s my fault. I’ve got a lot of ongoing work to get done, various commitments for events, preparation for travel, and most of all, I enjoy my job. I’ll add that a few family events have prevented us from executing on vacation plans along the way as well.

Skipping vacation is not the best way to go through your career, and during the last month I’ve stopped to take stock of the situation and do something about it. I have a generous vacation allowance and there’s no need to hoard it, saving for a once-a-year-two-week trip. I have some family coming into town soon, and I booked a few days off while they are here. I’ve also extended one of my trips, planning on a mini-vacation with my daughter. I plan on saving some days to ski near the end of the year, but I’ll also be taking some long weekends and trying to recharge my interest in life, coming back to work refreshed.

It can be hard to plan and take vacation, and I’m sure many of you have tips and tricks that you’ll share on how you get away from work and enjoy your life. Many of us see our careers as important, necessary, and hopefully fulfilling, but we also need breaks away from the stress and pressures of work.

We should work in order to live, and enjoy, the rest of our lives. Time with family, friends, hobbies, and more is important. Life passes by quickly, and sometimes unexpectedly. One of the things I’ve learned as I age is that each day is precious, and that could end at any time. I seem to lose friends and acquaintances  all too frequently. All too often I find people passing that are well below retirement age, which is sad, tragic, and a reminder that life is short.

Take your vacation. Get away from work when you can, if for no other reason than to see what else in the world there is for you to experience.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcasts

We publish three versions of the podcast each day for you to enjoy.