Transitions and Regrets?

I was originally going to write a bit on the death of Queen Elizabeth II and reflections of mortality in general but thought I’d talk about a bit more about a more personal change.

It’s not news to my readers that I’m working to get into PA School. If all goes well, this means eventually I’ll move completely out of being a DBA and purely into the medical world. But this is not a quantum leap (which I have to say, I was pleased with the premiere of the new series last night). Things are not happening over night. I still have course work and patient contact hours to get in. The process is somewhat gradual. But, due to a biological need to sleep, it does mean I need to balance my obligations and in some cases turn my back on certain things.

I was reminded of one of those yesterday: PASS Summit. I’ve written about my previous experiences here and here and more. I’ve really loved my time visiting Seattle to attend it. I also enjoyed presenting, albeit it virtually. Besides being a great opportunity to meet with vendors and to attend a LOT of great sessions, it’s a great place to make friends and to catch up with friends. And yet, I’m not going this year. Under the old scheme, I had the advantage of being a User Group leader and as such getting a free pass. This helped me cost-wise, which as an independent consultant was a bonus. That wasn’t available this time around, so that figured into the decision a bit. But perhaps far more decisive was that I really don’t feel like I can take the time off from school.

What makes this doubly tough on me is that there are a lot of friends I really was hoping to catch up with in person and the fact that for the first time, I’d be an actual Friend of Redgate, an honor I’m proud of and with Redgate being the folks in charge, something I wanted to be more a part of than in the past.

I also did not put in to speak this year, because I knew I’d have classes during this time. I had been excited to be picked in 2020 to speak. The impact of Covid forced the conference to go virtual which dampened my excitement some.

So at the end of the day I had decided not to go and pushed the decision to the back of my mind. I figured I had no real regrets.

Then yesterday, a client asked me some questions about Summit and asked me to suggest some sessions that his people might get value out of and to give him some other notes about Summit.

So I had to pull the scab off the wound and to look at all the sessions. I of course saw a lot that applied to my client, but also some I knew I’d be interested in. And of course I saw easily a dozen names of people that I knew. This reminded me how much I’ll miss the social aspect of Summit. So it hit home. I’m going to miss Summit. The regrets are there.

I’ve given a lot of thought over the last 9 months about how my decision to apply for PA School would impact my life. Slowly pulling away from the #SQLFamily is one of them.

This doesn’t mean it’s going to be a complete break just yet. I actually have hopes of applying to speak at Summit next year since by then I should have all my pre-reqs done and have the time to attend. But in the meantime, I have to sometimes pull back from #SQLFamily events to focus on school and I’d be lying if that didn’t hurt a bit. What smooths this some though is exactly how much I’m enjoying my work to move towards PA School. So, on the balance, it’s worth it so far.

Why Bicycling Can Be Hard

I’ll start off my apologizing for two things: First there are no pictures, and second this is basically a rant.

As many of my readers know, I love to bicycle. Last week I wrote about buying my new bike. The first few days I took it out for short rides, call them test rides. I have been slowing expanding the envelope of how comfortable I feel with the bike. For example its braking characteristics are a bit different so I’m learning how fast I can safely stop.

So that said, Sunday was the 2nd annual CASSUG BBQ. The location is about 10 miles from my house. I did this ride last year and figured a good 20 mile round trip was a good expansion of my test rides (more on that distance in a little bit). One nice thing about this particular ride is that a fair portion of it is on a bike trail. Despite a headwind from the north, I made it to the bike trail without much problem. Then about 1-2 miles in I approached one of the underpasses and started to note debris all over the trail. For the next 1/2 mile or so the trail varied from covered with sticks, sawdust and other debris to totally rutted. From what I could tell, some maintenance crew had been through clearing trees and replacing probably a water line or other underground line. It was quite clear there was little regard for keeping the trail passible while this was done. I preserved on, but was annoyed.

I was even more annoyed when I noticed at the north end of this area of work, there was an actual detour sign. There had been no such warning coming from the south. This got me thinking, you’d never see this on a road for cars. In such a case, even if the road were left open, there would at least be signs in BOTH directions warning drivers.

After the BBQ, because I was feeling good and because I have certain goals each month, and one of them is a long ride of a particular distance, decided to try for that goal on Sunday, in this case 40 miles. So I rode further along the trail before turning around. This was a nice pleasant ride and I got to see more than I had in the past. For those who are local, this included biking UNDER the Twin Bridges, which was sort of cool.

Once I turned around, I figured when I hit the detour, I’d follow the signs and end back up on the trail past the bad section. Sure enough I followed the first detour sign and then… nothing. There were no more signs showing how to get back on to the bike trail past the broken up section. Again, I can’t imagine road maintenance would be quite so blithe about such a thing (and in fact, right near my house there’s been a bridge under repair for 3-4 months now and all the detour signs are clearly posted).

Fortunately I had a good sense of where I was and a good sense of direction so I followed the city streets in the right general direction. Suddenly I came across another, different bike trail headed in the right direction. I figured this was great, I’d avoid traffic and enjoy the ride.

Sadly I was again mistaken. This bike trail varied from paved for about 100 yards to gravel for another 100 yards back to paved and then back to gravel. There seemed to be no rhyme no reason for these changes, it was almost like someone randomly decided to pave only sections of it. This trail eventually dumped me out on one of the most potholed roads I’ve ever been on.

Fortunately that was only about 3 blocks from the end of the original bike trail and from there I was back on track. I finally got back on course and headed south. Of course by now the headwind had done a 180 and was now coming from the south. (This seems to be a truism on bike rides!)

In any event, I decided to take a different route home in order to hit my 40 mile mark. It was bit slower than I would have liked, but I made it. So that goal for the month was complete.

But, I’ll admit, I’m still annoyed. Bike trails are often afterthoughts and even when they are built are often poorly maintained or when work is done, treated as the bicyclists aren’t important.

I love to bicycle and have for decades. I will bicycle for pleasure. I will bicycle to run errands. I will bicycle to save gas and cut down carbon emissions. I will bicycle on back roads, bike trails, or even busy streets. I’ll bike wherever it’s legal.

I’d love it for more folks to bicycle. But honestly, it’s hard to encourage others to bicycle when the routes dedicated to them are often poorly maintained or don’t go where folks need or want to go. I’m glad to see there’s a growing network of bike trails near me. I’m just hoping that they’re correctly maintained and when there are necessary closures and the like that we get proper signage and detours.

Anyway, this post is rambling, a bit like my ride, but I hope you get my point. Let’s not treat bike trails as an afterthought.

T-SQL Tuesday – The Conference That Changed Everything For Me

My faithful readers get a double dose today, only because when I wrote my earlier post I had not yet seen the invite for this month’s T-SQL Tuesday. Otherwise I would have started with this post (and perhaps written a better version of it. This will be a bit hurried).

Like many I’m picking PASS Summit. No, not very creative, but true and accurate. I should note my first conference was SQL Connections back in I believe 2006 or 2007 in Orlando and that had a fairly important impact on me too. But my first PASS Summit in 2015 had a bigger one. I managed to go in the place of our SQL Server User Group organizer provided I attended the User Group update the day before and also represent us officially in that capacity. I of course did both.

But I also had an ulterior motive for going. Two of my best friends from college lived in Seattle and I had not seen them in years, in fact in well over a decade. So it was a good chance to catch up with them. (Let me just say, flying from the east coast to the west coast and trying to go to bed at 1:00 AM West coast time, but waking up at 7:00 AM doesn’t work well!)

That said, the real reason this conference was so important was because I met Kathi Kellenberger @AuntKathi. She gave a presentation on how to get published. For years I had given thought to writing a book and with the recent death of my father, who had always wanted to write the Great American Novel this seemed like an interesting session to attend. She of course gave a great presentation. I spoke briefly with her afterwards and then went on to the next session. But her session stayed in my mind. Later that day I tracked her down and asked further questions and before I knew it I was introduced to her rep at Apress.com. Very quickly I was discussing my idea with him and before I knew it, he expressed and interest and suggested I submit a more formal idea via email. Within a few weeks of the conference I did so and my idea was accepted. That was the easy part. Translating my thoughts to paper was a bit harder. But a year later by the 2016 Pass Summit I was a published author. My dad wasn’t around to see it, but the book was dedicated to him. It wasn’t the Great American Novel and honestly, sales never lived up to even my more pessimistic expectations, but that doesn’t matter. Someone paid me for my writings! And you can still buy a copy of IT Disaster Response: Lessons Learned in the Field, my take on combining IT Disaster response with thoughts on plane crashes and cave rescues. It’s not the most technical book, nor was it intended to be, but it was meant to be sort of a different and more holistic way of looking at responding to disasters. Instead of talking about “do backups like this” it talks about using ICS (Incident Command System) and CRM (Crew Resource Management) techniques to help respond to your disaster.

I’m not here to sell you on my book but talk about how that one conference and that one chance encounter with the right person changed my life. But I won’t stop you from buying it. It’s a quick and I thikn fun read! And you might even learn something.

I’ve enjoyed all my PASS Summits, including 2020 when I finally had a chance to present (albeit remotely) and SQL Saturdays (where I’ve learned a LOT and owe too many people to name a great deal of thanks for all they’ve taught) but that first Summit was the one that probably had the most impact.

Thanks for reading.

A Hole in the Ground

A close friend of mine had asked me earlier this summer if I could take him, his daughter, and a work colleague caving. I immediately said yes. I also tried to schedule to take a couple of other folks caving, but alas, life got in the way. I had to postpone once, but was able to finally get underground this past Sunday.

For anyone who has been living in the area or watching the weather, you’ll realize exactly how hot and humid it’s been lately. Fortunately it’s cooler and in this case less humid underground. Because of the heat and humidity I was glad to have a chance to get underground. The only danger of course is overheating in your cave clothes before getting into the cave.

Often when I take beginners, I will take them to Clarksville Cave also known as Wards-Gregory. I’ll state up front it’s not my favorite cave in New York but it’s a decent beginner cave because it has a bit of everything and given the fact it has 3 entrances, one can plan several different types of trips from a pure walking with only a few spots of crawling to a trip with a good deal of tight crawling. You can stay almost completely bone dry to getting wet up to your neck. So it has variety. It is also not to far away and the hike to the entrance is an easy one.

The main entrance is a bit of a climb, but honestly, almost anyone can do it. This opens up into a large sized room with where I can start to orient folks to the cave and caving. One question that often comes up is “is this cave going to collapse on us?” The reality is no. The fact is, especially in caves as well travelled and large as this one, if it were to collapse completely, it would have collapsed long ago. That said, things do change at times. In this case, one thing I’ve noticed, is that after Superstorm Irene, the hydraulics of this cave did change a bit. The stream that travels the length of it and that used to commonly flow through this room has diverted a bit to one side and this room is often bone dry. I point this out to newer caves. I also tell of the time, decades ago that on a particular Friday night trip after a major rain storm, the water was so high in this room there was a rooster tail of water where the water was entering and then backing up. We cancelled that trip.

But that was not the case this Sunday. The water level was among the lowest I had seen it. On a typical beginner trip we headed up stream to what is known as the Lake Room. Often this requires some wading through toe deep water, but not this time. It was dry enough one could keep their feet wet the entire time. There’s some crawling required to do this, but not much. Often beginner trips will simply be a trip to the Lake Room and then back out. This is known as the Wards section (originally Wards Cave) But I had told this group we would head back past the entrance we came in (the main aka Ward Entrance) and go through the Gregory section (no relation to my name). This has what’s known as the Duck-Under. This isn’t really a bad section of the cave. I mean the ceiling is about 5′ above the floor. However the water is often 4.5′ deep here! Very rarely it will reach each the ceiling and sump this part of the cave. I was in the cave once (but not here) once when this happened. Folks went in the Gregory entrance sump dove the Duck-Under and apparently got disorientated and needed a quick rescue.

As I had mentioned, the water level this time was particularly low so there was closer to 1′ or more of headroom here. This still means getting pretty wet and trust me, going from being wet up to your knees to just past your waist is… not necessarily fun and often causes more than a few yelps from the cold water hitting sensitive spots.

But I was with troopers and we managed this without too much gasping at the cold water.

Now I’m going to share a little secret. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve done the Wards side of the cave. As I mentioned, it’s an easy beginner trip and one I’ve done often. But the Gregory side I’ve explored far less and I suspect there’s parts I haven’t seen in decades if at all. Partly because by the time one gets in there, one’s got a goal of “get through the Duck-Under and now that we’re wet, get out.” (and to be fair, the more interesting stuff is before the Duck-Under, so once through it, there’s not much left to explore.).

In any event, we got through the Duck-Under and headed towards the Gregory exit. We hit the hot, humid air and I swear I was MORE soaked by that than the Duck-Under. With the Duck-Under I had managed to keep my upper chest and head dry. Not so much outside in the humidity.

But it was still a great end to a good trip and their were smiles all-around.

It was only later that I reflected, I think this is the first time in 3 years I’ve been in a cave purely for pleasure. I have been in caves (including Clarksville multiple times) over the past 3 years, but every time it was for cave rescue training. Those trips aren’t really caving per se. Yes, I’m in a cave, but not really showing it off or exploring it. I realized exactly how much fun I had had on this trip, especially with an enthusiastic bunch of new caves.

I’m hoping to plan at least one more trip with some beginners in the next few weeks as well as an Orientation to Cave Rescue class (which will use Clarksville on its second and final day). I don’t know if I’ll take this group to Clarksville or another local cave. We’ll see. Perhaps that time I’ll remember to take pictures!

And as always to my faithful readers, I extend the invitation if you ever want to try out caving, let me know. I can tailor trips to your level of interest and physical ability.

Sorry, Neither

I heard the sad news on Sunday of the passing of Nichelle Nichols. I had always been fond of her character Nyota Uhura on the original Star Trek. Growing up in a fairly liberal household and only catching the original series in reruns, I didn’t find her presence on the bridge of the Enterprise all that surprising. It seemed normal. Of course I was young and honestly naïve and didn’t realize until years later exactly how groundbreaking her presence was. This of course was in contrast to a young African-American woman named Whoopi Goldberg.

Well, when I was nine years old Star Trek came on,” Goldberg says. “I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!’ I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be.”

That said, there was always a scene from the episode The Naked Time that stood out to me. Lt. Sulu, under the influence of the polywater and in swashbuckling garb, grabs her and says “I’ll protect you, fair maiden.”

Oh my!

Her response, the title of this post “Sorry, neither” is perhaps the shortest quote that stands out from any of the Star Trek series. However, it wasn’t until recently I learned that some folks interpreted it different from me, and I realized they had a point. They interpreted the neither to mean Uhura was declining the protection and demurring against the “fair maiden” part of the quote. And I certainly can see it that way. And I always figured that was part of it. She was quite clear, she was a Star Fleet officer, as highly trained as Sulu, and not in need of any particular form of protection. This perhaps more than anything else I think helps define her position in Star Fleet and Rodenberry’s and her concept of Uhura. She wasn’t a token.

But, over the years I had focused a bit more on the fair maiden part. I’ve often thought the neither was used to negate both parts of that. Let’s be clear, Nichelle Nichols was by any token a fair woman to set ones gaze on and the camera work in the early Star Trek often used softer lenses to highlight the female cast members. But, as Uhura, while she had the voice of an angel as demonstrated in the Episode Charlie X, it again was clear she wanted to be first considered an officer and a competent crew member. Perhaps in off hours calling her fair would be taken as a complement, but on-duty was an insult.

So that leaves maiden. One often associates the idea of a maiden with being virginal and with that again a certain level of helplessness or having others determine ones fate. Uhura was making it clear that she wasn’t virginal, helpless or incapable of determining her own fate. While in the original Series we never really saw any romantic relationships with her, she in a single sentence made it clear she had probably had them and had a say in how they developed and progressed.

In the end, regardless of how you interpret it, those two words spoke volumes. Nichelle Nichols was playing a character who was capable, confident, competent, and had earned her place on the bridge of the USS Enterprise. Since Star Trek, especially then, has always been an allegory to hold up to the real world, Nichelle Nichols in two words seemingly spoke for every African-American out there.

On a more personal level, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting her and with my daughter getting a picture taken together. This was in 2019 and while it was clear she didn’t have the verve she had from her youth and was seated the entire time, her presence was unmistakable. We were standing in the presence of greatness. I was honored to be there.

Hailing Frequencies Closed.

Missing the Old Ways

I’ll admit, sometimes I’m a curmudgeon. Sometimes I miss the old ways. Last night was a case in point. My wife asked me to look at her computer. For some reason suddenly all her Office Apps had stopped working after a reboot. I tried a few simple things and sure enough I’d get a pop-up saying “This App can’t Open” every time. Googling brought up a page that seemed helpful and had a number of recommendations. I resisted the 2nd option of creating/using a new Microsoft account because I’m not keen in extra accounts, etc. I’ll save you the trouble of reading the rest of this post and say, I finally did that, using MY existing Microsoft account and magically everything started working. I then removed my account and things seem to continue to work.

But I’m frustrated. I miss the old days where one installed software and it well, frankly, stayed installed. I really don’t think one should have to worry about software like Office suddenly breaking because an online account isn’t available or the like. I’d be ok with certain features not being available (e.g. saving to the cloud automatically) but basic functionality shouldn’t suddenly break on a reboot.

I’ll admit there are days I miss DOS when things were really pretty simple.

Of course the irony is I’m writing on this one a dual screen computer running 16 gigs of memory with an ungodly number of programs open and an even larger number of tabs in browsers open. So I’m not entirely against new things. But I do want basic stuff just to work.

And that’s my thoughts for this week.

It’s Not Their Responsibility

Imagine if you will, a friend tells you they found an unwelcome guest had been in their house. Not necessarily a burglar or anything like that, but simply someone who saw the door was unlocked, and decided to walk in, grab a cold one, pop it open and then put their feet up and start watching TV. Finally they finished watching TV and left. The only thing left behind was a note that said, “Hey, I noticed you had a really nice house, and a nice taste in beverages and your TV is really kick-ass. Hope you don’t mind me checking it out. I’d love to get to know you better and perhaps replace the cold one I drank. Thanks”

Your friend is understandably upset. They feel violated and they post their anger about it.

Now I want you to ask yourself, how would you react?

Would you tell them, “well you should lock your door?” That may seem like good advice, but I suspect your friend has already thought about it. And perhaps they had good reason to leave the door unlocked (perhaps they were just out for a bit and expecting an actual welcome guest to pop in?) In any case, probably not the most useful advice and in a sense is putting the burden on your friend.

Would you commensurate with? Give them a hug and tell them how you sympathize and how you share their concerns? I’d hope so. Your friend has just shared something traumatic with you. They are most likely looking for some comfort.

Would you suggest to your friend that perhaps they should figure out who this person is and take the time to tell them that going into people’s houses uninvited is not a good idea? Let’s ignore the difficulty of figuring out who the person is (perhaps they left their address in hopes your friend would contact them). I would certainly hope you would not do this. First of all, it’s not your friend’s responsibility to tell a complete stranger how to behave. Secondly, you’re now putting the pressure on the victim here and potentially adding to their trauma. There really is no upside to this approach. Just DO NOT DO THIS!

Now, imagine it’s the complete stranger is actually your friend who did this. You hear their story of how they basically played Goldilocks for a day in someone else’s house. This time, ask yourself the question, would you expect the home owner to tell them what they did was wrong or would you think perhaps you as a friend should point out how egregious their behavior was. This is where your focus should be. Making sure the people around you don’t do this. Not telling the homeowners to give this lesson.

To whose who are saying “well the above is a made up scenario” you’re right. It is.

But replace the house and the cold one and the TV with an unsolicited email via a professional site like LinkedIn. It’s the same effect.

Let’s play a little game here. You may recall it from Sesame Street. It’s called “One of these things is not like the other.”

  • Grindr
  • Tinder
  • LinkedIn
  • Adult Friend Finder

Or another

  • SQL Saturday
  • Local User Group Meeting
  • Your local Singles Group

In the first case, one of those sites is definitely not a place to try to hit on people. It’s a professional site to maintain professional contacts. The other sites are designed to find dates

In the second case, one of those places is definitely a place appropriate place to try to hit on someone. The other two, not so much.

If you can’t tell the difference, my advice, stay away from all of the above until you can.

The take-away: Don’t put the burden for teaching proper behavior on the subject. Take it on yourself and make sure you don’t know anyone who would presume to use a professional site in such an unprofessional manner.

This post may or may not have been inspired by true events. Does it matter?

Learning the Lingo

“Now, in the ’60s, there were only two other cars made in America that had Positraction, and independent rear suspension, and enough power to make these marks.” – Mona Lisa Vito

In my first stint as a computer consultant, I was visiting a potential client and noticed a magazine called I believe The American Bee Journal. I was a little surprised at first that such a magazine even existed, but then it dawned on me that it made perfect sense and that probably every specialty had a trade magazine or the like of its own.

In the world of SQL Server we’ll talk about query plans and clustered indexes vs non-clustered indexes and use other words specific to our trade.

In caving we’ll talk about speleothems and karst and other words that the average person might not recognize.

And mechanics can talk about Positraction and skid marks.

Knowing the language of a particular specialty can be important when it comes to understanding it.

I’ve been reflecting upon this lately as I continue to study so I can apply to a Physician’s Assistant program. I’m about to finish up my first semester of classes and one of the classes I’ve been taking and really enjoying is Anatomy and Physiology I. I still have a second class to take, but I’ve been loving things so far. It is, to me, absolutely fascinating to learn how the body works. For example, learning the physiology of muscle contractions is in three words, absolutely fucking cool. And any caver who has vertical experience would realize it’s not much different from how we ascend a rope.

Part of what I’m learning to is the language. In fact one of the first lectures and labs was simply on the language to use describe where things are. To someone not familiar with the language, it may sound like gibberish to say that the tibia is lateral to the fibula and the lateral malleolus is at the distal end, but such a description can help someone who knows the language orient themselves as to its location. Similarly if someone says they have a sore sternocleidomastoid muscle, I’d know where it is, based simply on the name. (I’d also honestly wonder why they simply didn’t say they had a sore muscle in their neck). In that case, the name of the muscle basically describes its origin (the sternum and clavicle or cleido) and insertion (the mastoid process). (If you’re curious, if you turn your head to the left, you can see the right sternocleidomastoid sort of bulging from the right side of your neck).

Honestly, at times I feel like I’m at a Broadway play and the orchestra is playing the overture and the curtain is slowly being drawn back to reveal what’s behind it. I’m excited by what I’ve learned and seen so far and excited to see what more I’ll see as the curtain continues to be drawn back!

Woody Woodpecker

There’s an old saying in the software industry that “If houses were built like software was, the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.”

I was reminded of that last week in both ways. First I was sitting at my desk when I heard what sounded like someone banging on a tin drum of some sort. I went up to the porch outside my office window and saw a bird fly off. Seeing that only solved part of the question in my mind and created a new one. The new one was what the heck was a woodpecker doing on the corner post. It’s pressure-treated and there’s no signs of any sort of infestation. But even more so, why was it so friggen’ loud and metal sounding? About 20 minutes later it was back. I chased it off again.

This cycle has become a daily event with it coming back 3-4 times a day. But I finally got a partial answer. I had forgotten that on the far side of the post was the copper downspout for the gutters. As far as I can tell, it’s hitting it directly (though I can’t imagine why) or close enough that the entire downspout is acting like a drum. Annoys the heck out of me, but the woodpecker doesn’t seem to care. And the good news is, despite all this, my house is still standing.

The other reminder was an error message I had received from an ETL process I have written for a customer. It takes data from a vendor and loads it into my client’s Salesforce instance. The error was one I hadn’t seen before (but had thankfully planned for). So I went into the package and started to investigate. It seemed all the new records had simply failed to load. I looked closely and could not see an issue, so I attempted a manual load and it instantly failed. This was unusual and troubling. My first thought was that the vendor had somehow changed the data format and that was causing a problem, but nothing really indicated that (and had that happened it most likely would have actually generated an error earlier in the process).

After some digging I realized that it wasn’t the vendors fault. As part of the ETL process, one of the steps that happens is a lookup into Salesforce for a Vendor ID to make sure the data coming in is tagged with the right ID. This step is somewhat important because the ID, being an internally generated one in Salesforce, is different between the UAT instance and the Prod instance, so rather than hardcoding it, it’s a lookup. And while the ID itself in an instance can never change, the keyword associated with it in theory can. In practice it shouldn’t. Normal users don’t have permission and admin users should know that changing the keyword should never be done, or if it is, needs an entire change process.

Sure enough, my lookup, which was basically doing “Where Vendor_ID=’Adventureworks'” was now returning nothing. So the insert, which needs that Vendor_ID was failing. A little digging showed that an admin had changed it and not to something like ‘Adventure Works’ or something that might have been close and thought to be a trivial example, but had changed it to something like ‘Bob and Mary’. It wasn’t even close.

Needless to say, better controls have been put into place, but apparently a woodpecker came along and broke my ETL.

Fortunately, that one isn’t coming back.

Code strong, code robustly, and have good error checking.

An Ode to my Mom

Three-quarters of a century. That time frame seems both like forever and a blink of an eye. They say one doesn’t speak of the age of a lady, but I think in this case, I’ll make an exception. This past weekend, besides celebrating Easter a day early, my family and I celebrated my mother’s 75th birthday.

Now when one thinks of an Easter celebration, one might think of a ham or lamb dinner with all the trimmings, or at the very least some sort of formal sit-down meal. And yes, for much of my life that’s what we had, especially when we would celebrate at my grandmother’s.

But no, this year my mom, now the matriarch of at least this little corner of the family decided she’d rather do take-out sushi and loads of Thai food from a local restaurant. And a great repast it was.

That’s not to say we eschewed all tradition. Ever since my kids, her only grandchildren have been old enough, she and her partner Jimmy have hidden plastic Easter eggs around their house for the kids to find. Even at 22 and just about 19, they still enjoy the tradition and while being quite competitive about it, end up sharing the rewards equally. And inevitably there’s one plastic egg that seems to go missing.

This year, that tradition was changed a bit to accommodate my cousin’s children who are much younger. For them, the eggs were multi-colored and placed on the floor. And yet, they still managed to find a few of the ones higher up. I suppose a child’s reach should exceed their grasp.

And of course, as always in our family there was the tradition of cracking colored, boiled eggs.

Easter Eggs, ripe for cracking

But as I mentioned it wasn’t just an Easter celebration, it was a celebration of 75 years of my mother’s life travelling around the Sun. Of course I wasn’t around for some of those years, but I know she’s always been the unconventional one in the family. She’s the one that went to art school, the first to get married, the first to get divorced. She was the one that opened a store for interior design in a small town in Northwest Connecticut. She later managed one of the first antique centers in the area. While she may not have had the formal education of some of her peers, but she often could out smart them anyway.

During college, I’d often stop by after a hiking trip with friends in tow, and no matter how many, she somehow always had food in the house to feed them all, no matter how muddy or stinky we might be. I even managed to get her into a couple of caves one time.

Other times I’d come home from college for vacation or break and we’d end up in deep philosophical discussions or discussions about politics. We still do from time to time, though now, more often on the phone.

She’s taught me much of my appreciation for music, and I will never think of Joni Mitchell or Billie Holiday without her. And my kids will always have memories of sitting on the floor eating sushi with her. You might start to notice a theme here that involves food. I will add “wavy pizza” without any context.

I think I should add at this point that my mom is, in my opinion an awesome cook and I developed my love of cooking and baking from her.

All these memories and many more have been running through my head over the past few days. 75 seems like a magical number and I think it is. And the truth is, given the events of Covid over the past few years, this honestly was perhaps the best Easter and birthday I recall in awhile. I’m glad I was able to celebrate it with her and look forward to many more.

And while as she admit, her body is showing her age a bit, her spirit hasn’t slowed down one wit and I love her for that.

And Mom, I look forward to celebrating number 76 and many more with you. In the meantime, don’t trip over the robo-vac and enjoy all the flowers and so much more in your life.