Being Thankful

20 November 2013

We’re quickly moving into that holiday season. My family and I have been amazingly blessed. We have a roof over our heads, we can share meals together, we have kids that make us proud and we love each other. Honestly, every Christmas season, when asked, I can’t think of a single thing that I want because everything that I need is fulfilled.


The only thing that makes me somber during these days is the thought of those whose day to day living is harder. I’ve lived through times like that – days where I told my little boys that we couldn’t rent a movie – I didn’t have the extra $3 to do that. It wasn’t about teaching a lesson or showing the value of money – those $3 had to go towards food. I know the stress that it can cause a family when every day is hard and the thought of doing something special for the holidays is impossible. Those times can occur when people run into unexpected emergencies or make some insanely bad decisions.


My hope is that, if families have the overabundance of love that we have, that we share it with those don’t have it right now. I know of people in the community already that have made decisions that will positively affect others for the rest of their lives. If we could all just do what we can, whether it’s time or money – I still think that it could create a genuine change for those who receive it.


When I was younger, I served with a community service organization for about 10 years. Most of our service was for young women and children, and one of the places that we worked with often was a shelter where women with drug issues were court appointed to spend their time. Most of these women were pregnant and/or had young children with them. Being pregnant with my first at that time, I couldn’t imagine that plus being addicted to drugs. We spent time with them, talking with them, talking about possibilities for the future and playing with the kids that were there. During the time that we served there, we saw many women come and go. A couple of years later, I was having breakfast with a friend. A young women, appearing very professional , came up to me and asked if I remembered her. I didn’t at first, since the change was so great. She told me about how she’d gotten her life back on track, was raising her child and working at a regular workplace. One thing I remember her saying was “We could never understand why you guys would want to come and spend time with us. We knew that you had families and other things that you could be doing, but it always made us feel good that you took time for us”. I know that she made the hard choices and that she did the work to pull herself up. I’m just glad that maybe I could be a small stepping stone or someone that shined a light that showed her a better future. I didn’t spend a dime, I just took the time to listen and have a conversation with someone many people might pass by.


This is the way that I want to express the thanks that I have for everything that I’ve been blessed with. I hope that others do as well.

July is definitely a painful time to be in Tucson.  It’s hotter than all get out and monsoon season has usually started, so for awhile we have heat AND humidty.  Oh joy.  Fortunately we have some SQL

At least this calendar has green on it...

At least this calendar has green on it...

Server based events coming up to take our mind off of the disagreeable weather.

 

Tim’s heading up the new incarnation of the PASS Performance VC.  On July 6, Jason Strate (Twitter/Blog)  is going to be presenting a webcast for them entitled: ‘Performance Impacts Related to Different Function Types’.  It should be a great session.

 

On July 17, Phoenix is having it’s first SQLSaturday.  That in and of itself is pretty exciting, but Tim and I are going to be presenting two sessions there.  This is our first time presenting, so it’ll be a great learning opportunity for us and a potential opportunity for up and coming hecklers.   If you’re somewhere around Phoenix, you should take advantage of the opportunity.  If you’re not around Phoenix, but want to see what it would feel like to step into an oven, come on out.  (see note below)

 

Then on July 21st, Quest is holding another Virtual Training Event on Performance Monitor and Wait Events.  Brent Ozar (Twitter/Blog), Kevin Kline (Twitter/Blog), Buck Woody (Twitter/Blog) and Ari Weil (Twitter) will be presenting.   It should make for an interesting and potentially hilarious training event.  Aside from it being a great training event, it’s relevant here because they’ll be presenting live from beautiful Tucson.  Hopefully we’ll be able to meet them for dinner and take them to another top-notch Old Pueblo eatery.

 

One final note – the final session lineup for the PASS Summit 2010 will be finalized in July.    This is due to a huge amount of great work by the volunteers from the Program Committee.  If it’s June and you’re reading this, send some good thoughts their way – they’re busy.

 

 

Update:  The SQLSaturday in Phoenix has been postponed until Jan/Feb 2011.  Hopefully many more people will want to come to Phoenix when it’s not 110 degrees out.

The SQL Server community never ceases to amaze me.  The number of people that are willing to take time out from their jobs and families to volunteer is especially impressive.

 

I’ve had the good  fortune to be able to volunteer for the Program Committe this year.  My job is to pull together special projects and whatever other slave work Allen thinks up for me.   I’ve had a number of volunteers that have put great work into our current project.  This project has multiple steps and has required a ton of coordination between the volunteers – but it is all coming together.   It’s something that’s been needed for awhile  and now it’s going to be a reality.   I’d name names, but I know that I’d forget someone.   So thank you to everyone that’s helped out.

 

A big (virtual) cake for all of you!

A big (virtual) cake for all of you!

It’s not just me, though.  Tim’s in the process of re-starting the Performance VC.  He had mentioned the need for volunteers through our blog, Twitter and Blythe Morrow(Blog/Twitter) put out a call for volunteers on the PASS blog.  He’s been overwhelmed at the number of people that have asked to help out.

 

For all of you that volunteer for PASS – kudos to you!  For those of you that are thinking of volunteering, but haven’t yet,  get ahold of Tim or me or go here for additional volunteer opportunities.

Not-for-profit organizations can be awesome and extremely tough at the same time.   About 15 years ago, I joined a not-for-profit community service organzation.  Much like PASS, there were local groups, regions and  an international level.  On all three levels, this organization was definitely able to make a difference. I was fortunate to serve at both the club and regional levels and take part in an international event in Japan.  It was definitely a life-changing experience.

 

One of the problems that I noticed while I was serving on the regional board was that the more that we were able to accomplish, the more that was expected of us.  That was great and it was exciting to see the possibilites, but the problem that we faced is that our resources hadn’t changed.  Because of our tax status, we had to be very careful about how we used the funds raised during our fund raisers and the vast majority of that went to other non-profit organizations that we supported.  In order to give the regions and clubs more funding, we had a couple of options: raise dues, raise conference attendance costs or have more fundraisers during our conferences.  Raising dues and raising conference attendance had the possible side outcome of fewer members or fewer people attending conferences.  Additional fundraisers at the conferences took time away from what we were meeting about.  So we made the decision to make better use of what we had and revisit those ideas in the future.

 

I see a similar issue with PASS.  We’re incredibly fortunate to have an organization that provides as many resources as PASS does and with a free membership.  While there is a great staff at PASS, much of what gets done here is because of a community of dedicated volunteers.   I’ve been fortunate enough this year to be a part of the program committee and that has allowed me the opportunity to understand more of what goes on at PASS.

 

There have been many discussions about what PASS does well and less well along with what they should be doing.  The latest discussions have been about the PASS Summit survey results.  There have been a number of blog posts about it - Brent Ozar (Blog/Twitter), Tom LaRock (Blog/Twitter), Steve Jones (Blog/Twitter) and Andy Warren(Blog/Twitter), to name a few.  I’m not picking on these particular bloggers or even this particular discussion topic.  They all make valid points. 

 

The questions that I found myself asking (and answering) are:  Is this survey the best possible survey?  Probably not.  Did it provide PASS with valuable information?  Yes.  Are there people in the community that might be more skilled in writing/interpreting survey results?  Possibly.  Is paying for a company to write and interpret surveys for PASS the best use for our funds?  I don’t know.

 

If I were to look at the wish list for PASS, I’m sure that it would be huge.  Especially when it comes to items that require funding.  If there are additional things that are needed that will require additonal funding, that money needs to come from somewhere.  Do we increase the registration cost at the PASS Summit?  Do we institute dues?  Both of those choices have a direct affect on PASS membership and the members that are able to take part in the PASS Summit.  Short of that, we have to look at either companies or individuals that are willing to donate their time and resources.   Anyone that has volunteered for not-for-profit organizations know that getting companies and/or people to donate isn’t always the easiest thing.

 

I believe that members should continue to provide (constructive) criticism of PASS when it’s needed.  I don’t believe that there should be a step up or shut up attitude.   But if you can’t volunteer, then understand that PASS can’t continue to grow without also growing its resources.  If you have ideas, provide them.  If you have time, volunteer.  If you find that leprechaun at the end of the rainbow, take him out, steal the pot of gold and donate some of it to PASS.

 

I think most of us will agree that PASS is a pretty amazing organization.  It’s up to us to make it even better.