T-SQL Tuesday #99 : Singing and Music

T-SQL TuesdayThis month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Aaron Bertrand (b/t), and he offers as a topic what he calls Dealer’s Choice. We can either share something about which we’re passionate outside of the world of SQL Server or we can discuss a T-SQL bad habit. I’m choosing the former.

I’ll start with singing and music. I grew up in a musical family. My grandmother played organ at her church for decades. She started when she was in her teens and kept going for a long time. imageShe also gave private piano and organ lessons. She directed children and adult choirs along the way. All of her children are musical in some way. My mom played cello and piano and sang soprano for quite some time. We lived next door to my grandmother in an old (1700’s) duplex home so I was over there regularly to play around on the piano, color, sneak a cookie or other treat, or just to visit. Along the way, I got free piano lessons until I eventually switched over to clarinet and saxophone.

I played clarinet as my primary through HS and added Alto Sax for our school’s jazz band. I never made the State band, though part of that was because I tended to not work as hard at my music as I should have. I had quite a bit of talent to handle first chair in our school band with little effort and was not very disciplined to practice harder for outside auditions. I knew music wasn’t going to be my career even then, but still enjoyed playing. Our band did pretty well at band competitions and it wasn’t until I left that I realized how many talented and gifted players we actually had in that small school. I miss playing in that band, but I don’t miss the q-tips we wore during marching season.

Once I got to college, I continued to play clarinet in the Wind Ensemble for fun. However, I was introduced to Barbershop style harmony during my time. One member dragged me along to a local chapter meeting and I was hooked. I love the tight harmonies, the a capella style, the “old songs” and the new ones done in that style. I hadn’t actually done much singing since about age 10, but found I had a pretty good voice for singing the “Lead” part (2nd Tenor) in Barbershop. That’s stuck ever since and I’ve joined a local chapter everywhere I’ve lived.  When I travel, I try to visit the local chapters to join them.

VM_6 1200w.jpgI currently sing with the Vocal Majority, a 160 voice men’s chorus in the DFW, TX area. We sing more than just Barbershop, branching out to show tunes, pop tunes, and other styles. The chorus has won the gold medal at the annual Barbershop Harmony Society conventions 12 times. I was there for 3 of those. You can see some of our videos on YouTube.

imageI’ve helped out by singing in pick-up quartets to deliver Valentines and currently help run the attendance app for meetings (developed by another member, but it runs on a SQL Server backend).

The bass is 5’26” – and has almost resorted to making cards to hand out with that information. He’s a great guy all around and enjoyed going into the high schools.  The number of students trying to snap selfies with him as he walked down the halls was pretty amusing.

During the week, I sing in my local church choir. I find that a great use of the skills and talents I’ve been given. I appreciate that we are encouraged to be worship leaders, not just performers or people singing on a stage. The church encourages musicians of all types and ages, and has a worship orchestra for members who want to play instruments. If I weren’t singing, I’d pull out my clarinet to join them. My oldest is able to sing along with the student choir. The little ones are encouraged to sing and play instruments from a young age. I’m glad that they get to enjoy that and are trained by people who love music.

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TSQL Tuesday #96: Folks Who Have Made a Difference

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This month’s T-SQL Tuesday, hosted by ewald, touches on the people who have made a positive difference in our journeys in the SQL Server world. Please pardon if you’re reading this and feel left out – that’s not my intention. There are so many people who’ve made a difference for me along the way that it’s hard to list them all.

My first shout-out goes to the folk I worked with way back when I was just starting out. I worked for a company just coming out of start-up mode with SQL Server 4.21a.  The first time I heard of “sequel” server had me scratching my head until I saw the posters around for “SQL” Server. I was given an opportunity to learn, mostly through BOL, SQL Server and become an MCSE through much studying and some horrible exams. I discovered that I kind of liked this database thing and learned more, got better at my TSQL, and learned where to ask questions from the people who were really involved in the product.

I owe a huge debt to the folk who regularly participated in the old “microsoft.sqlserver” USENET groups. I could search through those posts for people with similar problems to what I was trying to solve, or just interesting questions. I would find out pretty quickly about major bugs (anyone remember SQL 6.5 SP2 and SP4?).  Regulars there such as Joe Celko, Steve Jones, Andy Warren, Andy Leonard, and Jamie Thomson would all respond pretty quickly and often provide additional food for thought.  I could follow along with people wanting to argue with Mr. Celko about proper ANSI SQL – usually good for some amusement. I could learn some interesting tips for making DTS jump through the hoops necessary to move data around.  One thing I learned from those USENET groups is they were vastly different from other tech groups at the time. If I asked a question in those forums, I got a real response – not just a terse “RTM and go away” that I saw so often in other forums. I knew that the SQL Community was much more welcoming than other groups at the time and that was quite attractive.

I have to give a shout-out to co-workers along the way who challenged me and let me bounce ideas off of them, as well as for sharing a laugh when the situation didn’t really call for laughing. Jeff Rush, Mark Hill, Nick Floyd, and many of the people from Fellowship Tech, several along the way from First City/Drive/Santander, and many at my current gig at Healthwise.  I appreciate the desire to follow through, think of new ways to solve problems, and do all sorts of cool things along the way to increase our efficiency by spending less time on “keeping the lights on”. As an admitted “lazy DBA”, I can definitely appreciate time spent doing meaningful work instead of busywork.

The people in the SQL Community – many of whom I have not met face to face, but chat with in the Slack forums.  There are just too many to mention here, but I appreciate the regulars who share a joke, a neat way of doing things, ask questions that make me think, or answer questions I have because they’ve been there already.  If you’re in the Slack community – you’re likely in this group. Thank you. I appreciate you all taking part not just in general chit-chat, which is fun, but in helping everyone grow in their skills.

The folk in the PASS Prayers group. As a Christian, it’s great to have a group of people who will pray for each other. Yes, we have that in our local communities, but it’s great to have a group of people who share the same types of career and can join together with a bit more understanding about our day-to-day struggles. It’s also great to meet up with them when I actually get to attend the Summit.  Thanks to Mike Walsh and others for getting us all together.

I know there are groups that I’m leaving out and that’s because there are so many people who’ve been helpful in this journey. Thanks for taking the time to walk with me or guide me. I hope that I can provide that same assistance to others along the way.  And a hat-tip to Ewald Cress for a timely TSQL Tuesday Topic.