Fair and Equal Medical Treatment

Today is International Women’s Day. I was reminded of this from a semi-unrelated post by a fellow #SQLFamily member, but this post is an intersection of a variety of Facebook posts and discussions I’ve had over the past week that touched upon women’s health. In the interests of privacy and protection I am going to anonymize a bit what happened. I’ve mentioned in past posts how we as DBAs have to take into consideration topics such as gender and more. We’re here to describe the world, not to prescribe it. But, if my hoped for career change to become a Physician’s Assistant passes, topics of women’s health will become even more important for me to take into account.

Let me start with the first discussion I had: menopause and Nuvaring. A friend mentioned she’s going through menopause and her physician had suggested the Nuvarin as a form of hormone replacement to help reduce the effects such as hot-flashes. She looked into what her insurance covered and found out that it would cost I believe $360 for 3 months of coverage. But, Viagra was free. That’s health insurance in America. Want to get an erection, if you have good health insurance, it’s free. Want to avoid feeling like you need to rip off your clothes in public because you’ve gone from cold to sweating hot in seconds, sorry that’ll cost you $120/month! Perhaps it’s time to rethink how we allocate some of our funds.

The other discussion that came up was someone that I know more vaguely, but who is a trans-woman. She mentioned how doctors have turned her away. Pharmacies have refused to fulfill prescriptions for her that they routinely fill for cis-women. In general, because in their minds her physical presentation doesn’t match their expectations, they treat her as an outcast. Let me be simple and blunt: I’m offended and angry. She deserves access to the same treatment as any of the cis-women around her (and as the above discussion suggests, women in general deserve better treatment).

Writing this, I realized, I lied a bit, unintentionally. The above paragraph was prompted by a particular post, but I know several women to whom it could apply. So no need to try to guess who she is among my friends. She could be and is in fact a compilation of several.

Before I close, I want to recommend a Youtube channel I spend some time on: Dr. Momma Jones. While I don’t think my specialty will involve Ob/Gyn (I’m more interested in emergency medicine), I love watching her posts because I learn a lot, both medically and about gender bias and topics that I’m generally less familiar with.

That said, in closing, if I become a PA, I will work at treating all my patients equally and equitably and to the best of my abilities, regardless of their identity. Even if I don’t become a PA, I will continue to work to fight for the rights of all and to treat all equally and equitably .

So on International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate and remember all women.

P.S. and in the meantime, let’s fight against the rules put in place in Texas regarding medical treatment and discussion around trans-children and against the “Don’t Say Gay” law being voted on in Florida. I will say right now: children will die because of these rules. They will commit suicide.

T-SQL Tuesday #148 – Advice on Running a User Group

Today’s T-SQL Tuesday edition comes from Rie Merrit and she is asking about “Advice on Running a User Group.”

Fortunately she’s only asking for 1-2 ideas, not an entire book (though there’s at least one book out there on the topic, which I’ll admit I’ve skimmed but not read cover to cover).

It Starts at the Door

This is actually an area I’ve not done as well in as I’d like, but I’m going to continue to work on. For your in-person meetings (we remember what those were like, right?) find one of your more outgoing, sociable members, ideally someone who is good with names and details, and position them by the door to greet people. When someone new comes in, this person should make sure they get their name, ask them if they have any particular interests, and then introduce them to others, ideally with similar interests.

It can be very intimidating to walk into a new User Group meeting where you know no one, and every already there is already happily chatting away and you end up feeling like an outsider.

By assigning someone to the role of greeter, ideally any new person instantly can be made to feel welcome. Besides simply introducing them, the greeter can explain how things work in terms of schedule, where the bathrooms are, where food is at, etc. This keeps newcomers from feeling lost and left out.

On the flip side of this advice, the greeter has to make sure they’re not too enthusiastic either. If the newcomer indicates they’d rather just sit in the corner and listen and leave, that’s fine too. The goal isn’t to force everyone to socialize. The goal is to make it easier for those who wish to.

I can guarantee that if you make people feel welcome, they’re more likely to come back.

It Pays to have Sponsor

Or more accurately, its sponsors that make it possible to pay for food and other costs. Several years ago at a User Group Leader meeting at PASS Summit, I listened as a speaker talked about looking for sponsors you might not normally consider, i.e. going outside of getting sponsorship from technical companies. This has worked really well for me in the past. But before you even go that far, you need to get some data. And since we’re DBAs, we should be good with data. I recommend once a year, collecting data about your group with some questions such as:

  • How many people receive your weekly or monthly emails. You don’t need an exact number, but is it 100, 300, 500, 1000?
  • How many people typically attend your meetings? (and now ask in-person versus on-line if you’re doing hybrid)
  • Where are they coming from?
  • How many years have they been in the industry?
  • Do you have a breakdown by age range?

You’re trying to get a sense of demographics. This will come in handy when you look for sponsors that are non-technical (for technical sponsors you will want different demographics). But with the data from my group, I have approached a number of different sponsors such as banks, insurance agencies and the like. My sales pitch is generally along the lines of:

I can put your name in front of 400 people via email and 20-30 people in person that are in your demographic (generally 40-50 years of age, higher income) that are probably in the market for your services (such as life insurance, investment opportunities, etc).

I’ve had a lot of luck with this approach. Sometimes I’ve gotten a check right there, sometimes they’ve had to go up their chain of command, but now they have data to sell the idea to their boss. And sometimes, you find out a prospect is not a good match. This happened with me when I approached a contact at the local, then new casino. Turns out their target demographic was older, retired women. Apparently they spend a lot of time and money at the casino. In contrast, mid-life professional DBAs don’t gamble much!

The other key detail when approach a sponsor is being clear on what you’re selling them. You probably recognize this without really realizing it. At any conference you’ve been to you’ve seen Platinum Sponsors, Gold Sponsors, etc. The more someone is willing to pay, the more mention they get, the bigger their logo may be featured, etc. This works for user groups. My advice here is to not overdue the number of sponsorships and to deliver on what you promise. For my group, pre-Covid, I would typically try to have no more than 3-4 sponsors at a time, and total over a year, perhaps 6 or so. Some sponsors would sponsor for 3 meetings, some for the entire year. There were discounts for an annual sponsor as opposed to a quarterly sponsor. If you were a quarterly or greater sponsor, besides having your logo in emails and being mentioned from time to time, you were given the opportunity once a quarter or so to give a 5 minute pitch before the group. Some took advantage of that, some didn’t. But I have to say those who did, I think made a better impact when they could introduce themselves and point to the food and say they were glad to sponsor our group.

I’ll close with one final comment on sponsors: not all need to provide a direct financial contribution. We have a local hotel that has provided us 1-2 free room nights a year. We typically use one to put up a speaker who is coming in from out of town, and the second as part of our annual holiday raffle. We also had the local garbage collection company provide a free year’s service as a prize for our annual raffle. That was surprisingly one of our more popular prizes. In SQL Server you don’t have to worry about garbage collection and for a year neither did one of our DBAs!

In Conclusion

I can’t speak for other user groups, but I do know we’re probably very close to going back to in-person meetings in the near future so I’ll be dusting off the playbook and doing the above as well as other things in order to build up our successful in-person attendance again.

I look forward to seeing what other group leaders advise!

A Birthday

For most people, today stands out in two ways: the one that happens every year is the anniversary of Washington’s Birthday. The other is fairly unique to this year, it of course being the date of 2/22/22 on a Twosday… err Tuesday. And of course at 2:22 AM (when most of us are asleep) or 2:22 PM for those who us who are awake. I won’t be doing anything special at that particular time, other than taking notes for class.

But for me, February 22nd has always had a different meaning in my heart, and this year even more so. My father was born 75 years ago today. He always got a kick out of sharing his birthday with the Father of our Nation, but for me, it was always more important to share it with the Father of me.

It’s been just under six and a half years since he left my life. But that’s not entirely accurate. While his voice has faded in my head and he’s no longer a physical presence in my life, he’s still there. More than once I’ll say something to my kids like “Oh your grandfather would….”. They were fortunate enough to be old enough to know him when he died, but of course I have far more memories of him than they ever will. Part of the reason I say such things to them is that it helps to keep his memories alive one more generation. I think that’s a worthy goal. And one I think he’d support.

He was an English major in college, so of course became a builder to pay the bills, and later in life an architect. He understood the power and the value of “the story” no matter what the story might be about. While we didn’t agree on genres, we agreed on that much. He was never much of a fan of Star Trek for example, but even years ago when the only Star Trek was the original series, he respected the stories it told and the archetypes it often drew upon, such as its reliance on Greek mythology and Shakespeare. So, I think it would tickle him pink to know he’s become a part of oral history, if nothing more.

A few weeks ago, I wondered to myself, “I wonder if my dad would be proud of what I’m doing (going back to school).” I immediately corrected myself and said “I know he would be.” Back when I first went to college, he decided he couldn’t be a builder his entirely life, his body just wouldn’t handle it, so he decided to become an architect. I’m still not entirely sure how he talked his way into Columbia, but he did. So for awhile we were both in college at the same time, me getting my Bachelor’s, him getting his Master’s. And to show that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, his mother, Chestene, at the same time decided to take some classes at her local community college in New Haven.

And in sort of an echo to the past, I find myself in college at the same time as my daughter. So history repeats itself.

I started by mentioning he would have been 75 today had he not succumbed to C. Difficile Colitis in 2015. It of course saddens me to know he’s not here. I won’t hear his voice again. I can’t ask him for advice on something. I can’t even argue with him over some trivial point where neither of our stubbornness will allow us to concede. He was part of my life for decades and I had hoped he’d be there for decades more. He was simultaneously one of the wisest and most compassionate man I knew, and also the most stubborn. He was a giant to me, both figuratively and at 6′ 4″ literally. And yet my memory of him, laying their in his hospital bed, he’s so small.

As I like to say, he wasn’t just my father. Biologically that’s the easy part. He was my dad. And at that, while sometimes he stumbled, he always would strive to do better. And this humble jumbled attempt doesn’t do him the service he deserves in recognizing him. But, I have now, included made you part of his story. And though not here, and he’d never admit it, I think he’d appreciate that.

A Month In

As I’ve previously talked about, I’m enjoying taking classes as I prepare to apply to Physician’s Assistant School. I’m a month in and still loving it.

As a toddler I apparently had a habit of turning on and off light switches. As a toddler, I have a vague memory of going with my parents to visit a friends apartment (which means it was probably in New Haven) and turning on and off a switch, not immediately sure what it did. I’m not sure it turned on the light in a closet or in the room at the end of the hall, but it wasn’t immediately obvious to my 2-3 year old mind what it did. But I was committed to flipping it until I found out.

I’ve always had a curiosity about how things worked. For some, simply knowing “it works” or “this is how I do something” is good enough. And to be honest, I often apply that in my own life. But, I have a strong bias that understanding the fundamentals goes a long ways to improving ones ability to do their job. In the world of SQL Server for example, I know many programmers who know enough to write a select statement, but have no clue how that’s executed under the covers in SQL Server. And for them, that’s fine. But as a DBA I’ve always wanted to know more. It’s a reason why I’ve read books such as The Database Relational Model by CJ Date and others. I want to understand better how things work.

And so, I’m loving my current classes, especially Anatomy and Physiology I. We’re still in the introductory phase, but starting to dive deeper. Yesterday afternoon’s class for example we started to dive into things like Carrier Mediated Transport channels and chemically gated ion channels and more.

Did you know that the inner well of the plasma membrane of a cell is typically at a -70mV potential compared to the outside, and this is due mainly to the cells ability, nay, requirement to transport Na+ ions outside to the extracellular medium? Well now you do.

“But why would one care?” you might ask. Well, from this we get to the point where in certain cells, by properly manipulating this potential we can cause cells to contract and then un-contract (I hesitate to use the word expand here). And by doing that, when we have large groups of specialized cells, we have muscle fiber and with muscle fibers we can build muscles, such as the heart.

And this all starts with a miniscule voltage difference between the inside and outside of a cell.

Honestly, the more I learn about just the basics of how a typical cell works and the amount of chemical activity in it and across its plasma membrane, the more I sit back and just say “Wow, that’s just so incredibly cool.”

So yeah, I’m over a month in now and still loving it.

SQL Upgrades

Fear

Today’s another T-SQL Tuesday, thanks to Steve Jones. This month he’s asked us to talk about SQL upgrades.

I thought I’d write about a SQL Upgrade that wasn’t.

As a DBA I’ve worked with SQL Server since 4.21a. Yes. I’m that old. And a common experience I’ve had, which I suspect I share with many DBAs, is that every company I’ve worked with, either as an employee, or as a consultant has been reluctant to upgrade.

And often it’s understandable. Depending on their licensing situation and finances, an upgrade can be costly, especially for a smaller company. So companies often soldier on with older versions. In fact, just the other day on Twitter, I saw a post from someone asking about tuning queries on SQL 2020. In any event, especially as a consultant, I’m not alone in seeing resistance to upgrades.

But one client really stands out. I started working with them about a decade ago. They were running SQL 2005. Now, if you do the math, you’ll realize that by this time SQL Server 2008 and SQL 2012 had come out.

Technically I was brought in for a separate project, but when they became aware of my skills, they asked me to help tune their current database. There were some easy lifts (such as removing a duplicate index on a particular table that did nothing to help select performance, but obviously hurt insert performance). But by far one of their worst performing procedures was one that was handed an XML string which it then had to parse. I made several recommendations but realized that as long as they were depending on this stored procedure to parse the XML and were using SQL 2005, this would be a huge bottleneck. There was a pretty common and known issue with the way that SQL 2005 parsed XML.

The simple and obvious upgrade was to upgrade, ideally to SQL 2012. The answer was a firm “no”. It wasn’t even the cost, it was fear. It seems they, like many folks who had done the upgrade from SQL 2000 to SQL 2005 had hit several performance issues due to changes in the query optimizer and were afraid that they’d have as bad or worse issues upgrading to SQL 2008 or SQL 2012. They were far more comfortable with the devil they knew than the devil they didn’t.

Now, I can fully appreciate this, but it was frustrating. It was more frustrating because their business was fairly seasonal in nature, which meant that they could have done the upgrade soon after their busy season and had 8-9 months to debug performance issues. They would have also gained other benefits from the upgrade.

I’d love to say I finally had shown them enough proof of the advantages, had shown them how low the risk would be, and how to mitigate such risks. Alas, I didn’t. They decided (and to be fair there were other reasons completely unrelated to their SQL Server concerns) to migrate to a full LAMP stack. SQL Server was out, MySQL was in. Of course they had other issues there, but those weren’t my problem.

Upgrading SQL Server Today

I knew then, and still know now, that the upgrade would have been far less of an issue than they feared. But, I couldn’t and still can’t completely dismiss their fears. They were far from the only company that had been somewhat burned by the SQL 2000 to 20005 upgrades. I’ve heard of other companies that resisted upgrades during that era for similar reasons .I still sometimes hear echoes of such fears. And let’s be honest, often a database server is absolutely essential to the core of a company. Unlike front end code that might be easily rolled back, often SQL upgrades are very hard to roll back. (In reality it’s not as bad as some think, but it’s often non-trivial also.)

I will give Microsoft credit for listening. Since then, I know they’ve taken a lot of steps to mitigate such fears and have made backwards functionality a far higher priority than they used to. Other than licensing costs, honestly, at this point, I think companies should be on a regular update cycle. There’s almost always performance benefits and these days, the drawbacks are pretty minimal. And honestly, if you’re on Azure, you’re being upgraded without knowing it.

My advice, don’t fear the upgrade, anymore.

Time Management

One of the side effects, happy I tend to think, of taking my prereqs for PA school is that it’s forced me to better about my time management.

I’ve often said that one of the advantages of consulting is I can set my own hours. And there’s truth to that. But there’s a flip side. Sometimes it can be hard to get started on projects or to even get motivated. With projects sometimes I feel guilty if I’m setting aside time for them and not hustling for more work. Or, motivation is low because well, sometimes it’s tough to get motivated when the highlight of your day is “Can you add this user to the database?”

But now, I have approximately 12 hours of the week I absolutely have to block out. I can’t make excuses to myself of “oh, I can do that later” or “Oh, I should be trying to drum up more work” etc. I have to be in a room or lab, focusing on a particular topic.

But more so, on top of that, I have to block out time pretty much every night and so far one day of the weekend, to go over notes, study the past week, prepare for the next and work on study aids. So this has forced me to get better about time management. Fortunately I’m not in the stage where it’s highly stressful. If anything I’m feeling a bit better. I feel like I’m accomplishing more. So, a side effect of my school work is I actually feel a little more charged because I feel like I’m using my time more effectively.

And part of that, is making sure I get this blog out in time to take care of the rest of my day.

Week 1 Update

Because last Monday was Martin Luther King Jr Day, my classes didn’t start until Tuesday. So technically I finished my first week yesterday and I’m starting my second week today.

And wow, I have to say, so far, I’m loving it. But there’s more to it than just that.

I’ve had a few friends close in age say, “Wow, I could never do what you’re doing!” Or, “Wow, I’m done with school. How are you doing it?”

For all of them, I understand. For one, everyone is different. Some didn’t have a great experience in school. Some are too busy. Some just don’t have the interest. I get it. But for me, wow, it’s been a great and heady experience and parts of me wish I had done this years ago. Of course I have to temper that with “it’s your first week Greg, give it a few more weeks.”

It is definitely a strange experience being the oldest students in the class. The only reason I say oldest student and not oldest person is because the four professors I have area all close in age to me or older. I’m only taking three classes, but my Bio I lab professor is not the same as the Bio I lecturer, hence having 4 total.

Bio I – so far, all review for me. Basic chemistry and some basic definitions. The professor has made a good point that we all have to start someplace and I agree.

Bio I Lab – basic safety and use of the micropipette and spectrophotometer. Good stuff. But not the most exciting. I do hope it gets better.

Psychology 100 – Strangely the class I felt oldest in for a minute when he was talking about the theory of playing classical music in utero and if the idea it might have an impact on fetal and baby intelligence. It was just a brief comment, but I had to remind myself, I was alive when this was all the rage back in 1998, including the governor of Georgia wanting to send CDs with classical music to all pregnant mothers. Meanwhile, the other students in the class, if they had heard of it, it was either as history, or because they heard the music itself!

Anatomy & Physiology 1 – The professor was out due to Covid for our first two classes and lab unfortunately, so we did stuff via Zoom. I can already tell I think this is the class I’m going to have the most fun in. It’s also probably going to include some of the most amount of rote memorization. So flash card time! I’ve already warned Randi on longer road trips I may have her ask me questions while we’re driving.

Besides enjoying the classes, I think I’m prepared to be a better student than I was 30 plus years ago. There’s a number reasons. For one, I’ve simply just accumulated a lot of general knowledge over that time between a lot of reading and then the learning and teaching I’ve done for NCRC and other programs. So for example, I’m already ahead on some of the terminology in A&P.

But it’s more than that. I’m simply a bit more focused, though that will be something I’ll have to keep an eye in, including keeping the balance with consulting in place.

But also, the technology obviously is different, and this has honestly helped me. Being able to communicate with the instructors via email (and Zoom) works well for my style. And the other thing I’m taking advantage of is my Rocketbook and OneNote to better take notes and organize things.

I have yet to really meet any of my classmates or learn their names and this being a community college and all of us are on different tracks, I suspect I won’t get too close to any of them. If/when I get into PA School though I suspect that part will change, in part because we’ll all be focused on the same thing and because having study partners will be an absolute requirement.

So, it’s only been week one, but I’m really enjoying it and looking forward to the rest of the semester.

In the meantime, an update on the Lego Saturn V I received for Christmas:

Lego Saturn V - S-IC stage sitting on a dining room table.
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The Dream

The dream is always the same. … and I… find myself in a room full of kids taking their college boards. I’m over three hours late; I’ve got two minutes to take the whole test. I’ve… just made a terrible mistake. I’ll never get to college. My life is ruined. – Risky Business

Today is the day. For the first time in over 30 years I’ll be sitting down in a college classroom and taking a class. I distinctly recall taking my final exam for college. It was in Microbiology. I wasn’t overly concerned. I need to get something like a 40% on it to pass the class (and since it was counting as transfer credit, my actual letter grade didn’t matter as far as RPI was concerned.). It was multiple choice. Once I was confident I had gotten well over 40% I put down the pen and walked out. (For the record I ended up well over 80% on the exam.)

But I have to remind myself, that technically while that was the end of my undergrad career, I have taken classes since then. I took a class on SQL Server a few years later, I studied for and got my MCSE a few years after that, and starting in 2002, I started my career with the NCRC where I have since become an instructor.

But, this is different. For one, it’s 12 weeks of classes. There will be a lab. There will be homework. It’ll be harder in its own way than the other training.

Like many, for years after I graduated, I’d have a dream, usually around May, where it was exam time and I realized there was a class I had never attended and now had to take an exam in it. I’d always wake up a bit upset. One year though finally the dream changed. This time the setup was the same, but when I went to take the final exam, I aced it. Don’t ask me how. But I literally stopped having these exam dreams after that.

So I figure it’s appropriate that I had a dream about starting school last night. In my dream though, I was over in Schenectady (about 15 miles from the community college I’ll be taking classes at) trying to get folks to tell me what time it was, since I had to be at class at 2:00 PM. None would give me a straight answer at first until I got upset. Finally one person told me it was 1:45 PM. I was panicking because I knew there would be no way I’d make it to the Torrington CT Campus of UConn. It was then that I recalled that fortunately I didn’t have to drive that far.

All this is a setup to admit that yes, I am actually both excited and nervous. I’ve gone in a few short weeks from a feeling of ennui when it came to my career and life to one of stress and even a slight bit of panic. Of course it didn’t help that I had to get my vaccination status cleared, and then a bunch of other paperwork finished up late yesterday before it all became official.

I honestly have very little idea what my experiences over the next several years will be like. But I’m looking forward to them.

And more in the future.

Change My Mind… T-SQL Tuesday #146

Andy Yun (t | b) is this month’s host. Our challenge this month is:

 …to think about something you’ve learned, that subsequently changed your opinion/viewpoint/etc. on something.

I’m going to give a twofer for this one, since he’s also allowing non-technical answers.

8K Blocks

“SQL Server writes everything in 8K blocks.” I recall learning this probably close to 2 decades ago. And, it makes sense, at a lot of levels. And it was “confirmed” when we reformatted the disks on one of our production servers into 64K blocks so SQL Server could read/write 8 blocks at a time. Performance definitely improved. But, then I learned from Argenis Fernandez that this isn’t necessarily true. SQL Server will write what it wants to write. And if you think about it, that makes sense. If you update one record and it’s a single value you’re updating, SQL Server isn’t going to simply sit there and not write your 1 byte change to disk. And it’s not going to make up random 8191 bytes just so it can satisfy this rule of 8K. Yes, SQL Server will try to consolidate disk I/O and be efficient about it, but even then, it may not matter. Gone are the days where we’re writing data to bare metal (some of us are old enough to recall an option in early versions of SQL Server where one could create a database on a “raw” partition to get a performance boost). No, today we’re probably writing through multiple layers, more than we realize. For one client for example, a disk write from SQL Server will pass through an encryption layer, then to the OS, which will pass it through a disk driver layer that will then pass it on to the VM which will have its own layers. At that point, even if SQL Server were trying to only write 8K blocks, it’s quite possible every other layer has its own rules.

Yes, changing our disk formatting from 8K blocks to 64K blocks helped. It helped us. But, your requirements and situation may be different and ultimately you may end up writing more or less than 8K blocks all the time. (and I hope I summed up Argenis’s position accurately.)

Toss the Rope Down

As many know, I’m a caver. I’ve been caving for decades. Early in my caving career I learned vertical caving and back then we still used what was known as a “3-knot” system or “prussiks”. That hardware has improved and changed. But one habit took longer. It was (and unfortunately still is) common to tie one end of the rope to a tree or other rigging point, and drop the rest down the pit. Sure, you ended up with a pile of rope at the bottom, but no one really cared, as long as you didn’t step on it (which is another myth for another time). This helped guarantee that your rope actually reached the bottom. The only thing that sucks more than rappelling down a pit and reaching the knot at the end of the rope 50′ from the bottom of the pit is rappelling down a pit and realizing 50′ from the bottom of the pit that you forgot to put a knot in your rope.

But somewhere along the line, folks started to realize, “hey, that rope at the bottom of the pit is useless. It’s FAR more useful if we can leave it at the top of the pit.” As the depth of most pits are known, it’s actually not that hard to measure out the rope you think you need (plus a bit extra) and then rig the rope so that you have extra at the top. Why is this important? Some call this “rigging for rescue” (or more accurately, one part of the bigger concept).

Imagine the scenario where you’re ascending the rope and have an equipment failure. You can’t go up and can’t go down. If all the extra rope is below you, it doesn’t do you any good. You can’t do anything with it. But, if that extra 10′ or 20′ (or more) is at the top and you’ve rigged correctly, someone at the top can, without too much effort, safely change the rigging (with you still on the rope) to a 3:1 or if nothing else, a 2:1 haul system. Suddenly that extra rope sitting at the top of the pit becomes useful.

Beginners will still often toss the extra rope to the bottom of the pit, but more experienced cavers will rig it to stay at the top and this may literally save lives.

Conclusion

Stop and think about practices that you do now that you may have learned that could be wrong or no longer applicable. And more importantly, do those bad practices interfere with doing something that’s better or safer? With SQL Server, over the past few decades, a lot has changed and improved, but are you still doing something you were taught 2 decades ago because “well that’s the way things are done.” A lot has changed in 2 decades. Make sure your knowledge is still valid!

Wow…

As I posted in my 2022 Year in Preview on Saturday among other goals, I had decided to work towards a career change. On Facebook and elsewhere I asked folks to read it and by extension, for support.

Wow, I got it in spades. I’m humbled and thankful. Now if I could say I wasn’t nervous or even already feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I thought I’d provide a quick update.

One of the first steps I need to complete before I can even apply for PA school is to fulfill a bunch of prerequisites. This means taking a fairly full class load at the local community college. To do that, I needed to actually register for classes. I figured that would be the easy part, so I set off full of hope yesterday morning to do so. Their offices were closed last week, so yesterday was my first opportunity.

And I hit my first roadblock. I was told I needed to prove my vaccination status to the health office first. Well that’s a bit of a problem because for various reasons, I didn’t have access to my health records from when I was a kid, when I would have received the required vaccinations. After series of calls to various providers and the community college health office, I learned I could, if necessary get the shots from the health office. But, I needed to be registered for classes first. So effectively I couldn’t register until the health office said everything was OK, and the health office couldn’t say everything would be OK until I was registered for classes. Welcome to the classic Catch-22.

Eventually I was able to cut some red-tape and am registered and on the way to solving my vaccination status issues.

So, first hurdle cleared.

Then another one hit: I may have underestimated what prereqs I need and if that’s true, will have to 100% definitely push back one year for the whole process.

I’ll admit that gives me very mixed feelings. One one hand, it may mean a lot less pressure to get everything done this year. On the other, it definitely means another year before I can fully change careers.

So, yesterday was a roller coaster of emotions.

And it was just the first week. But I didn’t expect it all to be roses and flowers. But I’ve decided to t least share most of my ups and downs with my readers.

Oh and one upside: I finally got a Christmas present that I had wanted for two years: the Lego Saturn V. Thanks Ian. I’m going to take my time building it, spread out the enjoyment.