Showing posts with label Personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Butter in My Coffee and Low Carb Tortillas: Keto Day 2

Hello Dear Reader, just a quick check in, I had originally planned to blog yesterday.  However, screen shots of apps made for a terrible looking blog.

Fortunately I found that Lose It! has an option where you can email a daily report in .csv format to yourself.  After a few edits to add some health data, I can use Power BI to make a nice way to track and chart my process.

So on Day 1 there was no work out, but I did clean the garage so I would have room to work in some weights and an exercise bike.

While the majority of my goals are running I'm only running 3 days a week and giving myself two days of rest between weeks.  I want to start with light activity, but I would like to remain active or exercise daily.


My first day, not charted below, I was way to high on protein and not high enough on fat.  One of the things that helped me with that is a Keto coffee, sometimes refereed to as Bullet Proof coffee.  Bullet Proof is a brand that popularized this type of coffee.  If you want to go with them, feel free.  They are fantastic.  However, if you are on a budget or looking to save some money here's what I normally do.

  • Use a good drip coffee brand like Starbucks - brew 12 fl oz
  • 1 Tablespoon butter.  Non-salted.  Real cream butter, don't cheap out here go for the good stuff.  I recommend Kerry Gold.  You can find this for about $3 at any grocery store.
  • MCT Oil.  If this is your first time use 1 teaspoon.  This ingredient is important.  I use a gluten free version, here's the bottle I buy.  I use about 1 tablespoon now, work up to it.  This bottle will last me well over a month.
  • I add two packets of Splenda 

You feel the energy kick right away.  I find this helps increase my focus as well as my energy.  It's about 225 calories.  As I get going this will be all I have for breakfast eventually.  Some people put heavy cream in their coffee to add more fat.  I don't tend to do this, as I use those calories other places during my day.


I was planning the evening meal for the family when I was genuinely surprised to find low carb tortillas at my local Publix.

It was Taco Tuesday last night.  This would have meant Dad eat's a bowl of meet, cheese, onion, avocado, and cilantro; while the family eats regular tacos.  Part of keto that I've never enjoyed is the having to watch people eat something while you go without.  This opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

Enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, toasting them to make chips with olive oil, sandwich wraps, or breakfast burritos the mind boggles at the possibility.  Part of what makes them low carb is the fiber. 

That's right FIBER IS OUR FRIEND.  You subtract carbohydrates from fiber to get net carbs.  Net Carbs are the number you are counting for keto.


Peter Schott had asked me which tortillas I was using.  I've added a picture above.  Here are the details.

LaTortilla Factory Low Carb Whole Weat Tortillas.  LaTortilla offers a whole wheat and flour low carb tortilla.  I prefer the whole wheat because they are 3 g of net carbs vs. the flour which are 4g of net carb. 

The flavor is good, they toast well in a pan.  This morning I had a scrambled egg, cheese, and avocado spread (my own recipe) for breakfast.  At this point i wish i had taken a picture, I'll have to remember to do that next time.

If you do not have a Publix where these are stocked, it looks like you can also buy them on and  Normally at Publix and 8 pack is less than $4.  Third party companies look to be selling these and charging upwards of $10 per.  There may be better options if you cannot find them at your local store. 

I say all this because I would normally post links for purchase.  Looking at a price of $10.95 to $14.95 when I'm paying less than $4 seems like highway robbery, so I shall let you search for yourself. 

Thanks for the question Peter!


I've stayed below my calorie count regardless of exercise or move bonus for the last two days.  Even though I'm exercising I'd rather not over eat. Day 2 brought the first work outs, stretching followed by a 2.05 mile run.

Lots of work to do on my pace, but to quote the old Chinese proverb "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".  The journey has begun.

Alright Dear Reader, that's it for my morning.  If you are trying to find your way to the gym, good luck and stay safe!

As always Thank You for stopping by.



Monday, January 14, 2019

My New Year Challenge: The Kessel Run and Keto

The Kessel Run Medal for 2019
Hello Dear Reader, it's been a while since we talked.  Part of the new year is setting goals.  I plan to blog more.  I also plan on trying to get in better shape and lose some weight.  Weight loss has been a constant issue with me since my thirties, now in my forties, and I imagine it will chase me for the remainder of my life.  This year I'm going to try using the Keto diet and some training.

I've signed up for a few moderate to long distance running races, and I need to get moving.  I've run in the past, but then I hit a lull and the weight catches up with me.

The big goal is the Kessel Run & the Star Wars Challenge that will come with the completion of a virtual half marathon, a 10 K, and a half marathon at beautiful Walt Disney World.  There's still time to join if you are interested!

These are some lofty goals as I have not run since September, I have not been dieting, and I came to the realization squeezing my beer no longer counts as bicep curls.  There will be cheat days.  There will be days that I fall off the wagon.  To hold myself more accountable, I'm going to attempt to blog about this every day until April 8th, 2019, the day after the race.  If my buddy, Gareth Swanepoel (@GarethSwan), and I get our act together it may be until Monday April 15th.


So I'm out of shape, overweight, and I've got a lot to accomplish.  To do this I'll be using a few apps to track my process and progress.  I've been using Lose It! for almost 2 years now.  Meals, recipes, calorie tracking, and weight loss & gain will be tracked using Lose It!

For my initial run training I'll be using C25K, I've found this app really helps me when I first start going.  Once I can hit two and a half to three miles on my own I'm going to start using Seconds ProSeconds Pro is a great interval timer that allows you to do Tabata like works outs.  I used this once before and it really helped me step up my pace once I was in better shape.

The method was suggested by a friend of mine.  The method is for the first minute jog 30 seconds, job faster 15 seconds, and sprint for 15 seconds.  Then for the following minute walk.  I look forward to working up to using this again, it helped me move from 3 miles in a run up to 6 miles.  I would like to be at that point before the race in April.

The built in Apple Health Activity App on my Apple watch will track the calories I burn per day and while I exercise.  Those calories will feed straight into Lose It!.


I had originally written this post and neglected to add that I'm an asthmatic.  I have allergy and athletic induced asthma.  I've had this since I was a young teen.  As I've grown older this has made me particularly susceptible for bronchial and lung infections.

Fifteen minutes before I run I will use my rescue inhaler.  I wish I didn't need this, but I do.  I wish this went away when I get in really good shape.  It does get better, but it is still there.  This is just me trying to say, if you have asthma don't let that stop you.  I have had my inhaler with me when I played football, wrestled, played soccer, or played any other sport for my entire life.

The biggest issue I will face will be not pushing myself so hard that I pull a muscle, at this point I can handle my asthma.


I blame my good friend Jorge Segarra (@SQLChicken) for this.  The Keto Diet entered my life almost 2 years ago this coming September. Click on the link above for more detail on the Keto Diet, my quick 10,000 feet overview is it is a low carb diet where you flip the food pyramid on it's head and fat is the most important nutrient for our body.

One of the really amazing side effects of Keto is that the hunger feeling you have known your entire life goes away.  Seriously.  You feel like you have a lot more energy.  While you can find many different opinions on this, the evidence I have is based on my own experience.

I went Keto before a half marathon last year and I did not need anything but water, and lots of icy hot, until the race was over.  My pace was 3 hours and 34 minutes.  I didn't carbo load anything, I didn't use power gels, or snacks along the way. As a matter of fact I did the opposite, you have to be at the race by 5 AM.  My 4 AM breakfast was two eggs over easy, two sausage patties, three slices of bacon, cheese, all topped with homemade ranch dressing.  After 3 hours and 34 minutes of exertion almost 6 hours after my breakfast I was finally hungry again.  During the race I focused on staying hydrated, re-applying sun block, and the occasional use of my inhaler. 

If I can do that again I'll be happy.


I've signed up for a couple along the way, so here are the dates:


Along the way I'm going to attempt to do a daily update with a screen shot of my meals and weight tracking in the Lose It! app, updates on the activities I'm doing screen shots of pace and calories burned, recipes, or products if I find some good stuff along the way.

83 days to go until race day.

Whether you are hear for a moment, or along for the ride Thank you as always for being here Dear Reader.  I hope you have some goals for the new year as well, and I'd love to hear from you if you have one.

As always Thanks for stopping by!



Monday, February 29, 2016

Goodbye Pragmatic Works

Normally when I write a blog, I start out will a Hello to my Dear Reader.   Not today.  This was almost a blog I didn't write because I didn't know where to start.  So let me start with the people and see if it moves along from there.

To the Consultants

You are an amazing group of women and men.  The amount I have learned from you and with you over the past four years has been staggering.  I say this to those who have left and those who remain.  It was my privileged to work with you every day.

We have too many fun memories for me to count.  I went through my pictures and found hundreds.  I think that speaks well of the times we had together, because it was important enough to take those pictures.

I've said my fair share of mushy goodbyes, listened to Baz Luhrmann's Sunscreen way to many times, and rambled on about coffee filters.  There are some words that you say in life, there are those whose meaning you know intimately because emotion surrounds them.  When I say brother, sister, call someone buddy or big guy, those words have far more meaning than their surface value.

 Each of them is the embodiment of love and relationships that have been built over time.   When I use them my heart thinks of those people in my life and those times when those words were made noble to me.

Team Ball will forever be one of those words now.

 To the Management Team

Thank you for the opportunity to be a leader.  Not just in the community but to a staff that I count as close friends.  There were challenges, struggles, loses, and wins.  The ability to shape the direction of a company is a strange and powerful gift.  So my parting advice to you is so much more simple.  Don't mess it up.

I don't say that to be glib or short, you did great before I was there, and I'm confident you will do great after I am there.  That is my hope for you.  So let me explain.

You've built something special and great.  You have an environment where people come to work with one another as part of their passion.  In my time with you I've learned just how critical proper and constant communication is to everyday success.

There is no book that tells us what to do, or how to lead or grow this company.  There will be trial and error.  Remember to listen to employee concerns, don't change course too quickly or too many times, most importantly remember Why you do what you do.  If you start with Why good things will always follow you.

You have a fantastic team.  I'm very proud to have counted myself as one of them.


For everyone else reading, the next question is where am I going.   Here's a hint.

 Thank you Dear Friends.  I'm sure I will talk to you soon.



Monday, September 15, 2014

Outstanding PASS Volunteer

Hello Dear Reader!  In June this year I was recognized by PASS as with an Outstanding Volunteer Award.  In an unusual move I found myself speechless.  This is a very quick post to give the true credit where it is due.  June was a very busy month for me and I had a blog post scheduled to post it in July, but… let’s just say a couple things happened on the way to the theater.  The timing felt a bit wrong.

“So Balls”, you say, “Why blog about it now?” 

Great question Dear Reader.  The original blog was a big Thank You, and I want to say that in earnest.  The reason I received my award was for a lot of the work and presentations I’ve done this year. 32 presentations so far in 2014 with 9 more planned out and hopefully a couple more to come. 

These presentations don’t happen in a vacuum.  I’ve been very blessed as a presenter and community member.  I’ve written recently about how SQL Saturday’s impacted my life.  This year friends in the community invited me to new and wonderful locations.  Mike Walsh (@Mike_Walsh| Blog)  and 1/2 of my future law firm of Biguns & Balls Jack Corbett (@UncleBiguns | Blog) started out my January in New Hampshire from there I've presented physically and remotely in Florida, Puerto Rico, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Missouri, Texas, California, North Carolina, Virginia, Oregon, Colorado, Georgia, with more before the end of the year.  That doesn’t include Webinars where people from all over the world signed up to attend.

If you attended, were forced to attend, dragged, cajoled, or otherwise persuaded to attend I Thank You.  Dear Reader without you it doesn’t happen.

For the organizers, who put in their time, put on events, get sponsors, volunteers, and manage the process Thank You.  My time to present is a pittance compared to the effort it takes to lead a group and the hours that you put in.  Many Thanks for letting me be part of your group.

To PASS, the volunteers (the literally HUNDREDS of volunteers from SQL Saturday’s, program committees, Leadership Staff, down to the volunteer picking up coffee a noble and thankless job), Chapter Leaders, the employees whom I see and send emails to for the Summit or SQL Saturday’s, and all of those who I do not see Thank You. 

Your hard work helps create an environment that allows our community to thrive.  There have been lots of fantastic winners already this year.  I encourage you to check out the PASS page of Outstanding volunteers here.  Chances are if you’ve been to an event this year one has touched your life.

A Quick late-CONGRATULATIONS to my friend Shawn McGehee (@SQLShawn | OPASS) who is the August Outstanding volunteer.  Shawn is the Chapter Leader for OPASS and has done an incredible job.  He is leading the charge for our Pre-Cons for SQL Saturday Orlando amongst many, many other things!  Way to GO Shawn!!

To my friend who nominated me, the beers on me.  To anyone who wants me to present and I haven’t presented for you. If I’m in your area or you need a virtual presenter, shoot me a message on twitter or an email at  I’m always happy to help.


“So Balls”, you say, “You’ve said Thank You, anything else?”

Why Yes Dear Reader!  Yes there is one more thing, actually 4 more things.  I got something big that I cannot share quite yet.  In celebration of the community and the influence you’ve had on my life I want to give something back.

So in October I’m going to blog a community script a week.  These will be scripts that people have asked for, as I’ve presented that I never found the time to get out there, plus a couple new ones.  One a week leading up to the PASS Summit in November.

As Always Dear Reader, Thanks for stopping by.



Friday, August 9, 2013

The Man Who Thinks He Can

Hello Dear Reader!  I got a lot of great questions during the 24 Hours of PASS last week and I'm working on several blogs to line those up.  The silence this week, was more due to getting busy with work and some personal things cropping up.

Life is full of ups and downs.  In my down moments I will often look for inspiration.  One of my favorite places to draw from is the poem "The Man Who Thinks He Can" by Napoleon Hill.

My Grandma Schroeder was a wonderful lady.  I loved her very much.  She used to clip out coupons from the newspaper and send them to me at college.  She would send me checks.  And then she would give me hell, because I was an 'ornery little shit'.  You see I didn't use them.  Or cash the checks (unless I was really super COLLEGE BROKE).

I'm kind of sentimental like that.  I still have movie stub's from when I was a teenager, and most of the movie stubs from any of the shows that the kids and I have sat threw.

I loved it that she cared for me so much that she would clip a coupon and send it off to me in the mail.  I could see her sitting at the kitchen table, paper spread wide, Sudoku and crossword filled out, and smell the coffee that she had brewed.  I could see the light streaming in the sliding glass door behind her in the morning.  I could see her spot a deal and think "Bradley could use this", and clip a coupon.

She would get out an envelope and a stamp from the same drawer that held the playing cards, the dice, and the Wrigley's DoubleMint gum in the green case.  I could smell the mint as she opened it.  She would, look up my address from her address book.  Fill out the envelope, and later in the day she would walk it down to the mail box.

As a child I played there, and it would always surprise me how small everything seemed when I returned.  Looking down at the table instead of up at her.

When I close my eyes now I'm still looking up, and I see her in the bright sunlight.  I see the front yard that Grandpa kept so neat.  I remember looking down at the back yard and Grandpa's rose bushes from a big red porch on the other side of the sliding glass door.

I would hold those moments whenever the road seemed long, whenever I felt very far from home, or anything that resembled victory seemed equally out of reach. In those moments. I would close my eyes and be back in Illinois, looking at Grandma at the table.

Those coupons were worth far more to me than if I had ever used them.  I think I still have a couple.  The prized possession arrived one day in the mail.  It had been a very hard year.  She had clipped out of the Peoria Journal Star the poem "The Man Who Thinks He Can".

I re-read it today and thought that it would be worth sharing.

If you think you are beaten, you are;

If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win, but think you can't
It's almost a cinch you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you've lost.

For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will:
It's all in his state of mind.

If you think you're outclassed, you are:

You've got to think high to rise,
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You'll ever win that prize.

Life's battles don't always go

To the stronger or the faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.

I hope you enjoyed it.  I know I do.  Thanks Grandma.



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

T-SQL Tuesday #44 How to Take Down Prod in 30 Seconds

Hello Dear Reader!  Welcome to my blog on T-SQL Tuesday #44 Second Chances.  I’m hosting this month, and we are writing all about second chances.  My second chance comes from the not to distant past.

One day the DBA team was given a toy frog as some part of swag from a vendor.  We did what any group of grown men would do.  We put a dunce hat on it.  We decided that whoever screwed up next would have it sitting on their cubical wall, and we would pass it around as the next offender appeared.  A fun little way to pass the time and rib one another.  

No sooner had I participated in developing this badge of shame, than I earned it.  The title says it all.  How to take down prod in 30 seconds, but I should clarify.  Not some, not half, but allllllll you’re clustered servers in just 30 seconds.

I have to give a special Thank you to my buddy Dan Taylor (@DBABulldog | Blog), you see I remembered I had the frog.  I had forgotten what I had done to earn it.  It was sitting on the edge of my mind, but no matter how hard I tried I could not remember it.  It was sitting in a fog just out of reach.   An itch that I couldn’t scratch.  A few words out of his mouth and it all came flooding back.  As a good friend we've swapped many stories over the years, without his memory (which is better than mine) I would have had to go with a less interesting tale of woe.

“So Balls”, you say, “How did you screw up?”

Well Dear Reader I had an unfortunate convergence of unexpected anomalies that peaked in a spectacular crescendo of a mistyped password.   Yes a mistyped password.  My second chance would be typing in correctly.  The next best thing is explaining it so you hopefully never have to feel the same pain.


I had a new production SQL 2008 R2 Instance to install.  Things were going pretty smooth.  I got up to the screen where you punch in the password for the service account, and that’s when it all went wrong.  

I mistyped the password.  GASP, SHOCK, AWE, OTHER SUCH EXPRESSIONS!!!!!

Normally I would agree no big deal, but the next time I punched in the password I didn't get a password error, I got an error informing me that the account was locked.  Enter the series of unfortunate events.

Imagine you live in a world where all of the Prod servers are using the same service account.  Imagine that you've suggested this be changed but it ended up on the “That’s a good idea we’ll tackle that another day” pile.  Imagine that you are not using Microsoft Clustering for your Clustered servers, and that the inventive Server Engineers rolled their own “health check”.  Imagine that your current password policy locks out when you mistype the password somewhere between 3-8 times.

“But Balls”, you say, “You only typed your password once?  Not 3-8 times!”

Exactly.  There’s a bug in the installer for SQL Server 2008 R2.  When you click the next button after filling out the service account information, you authenticate at least twice for every account you type in.  Not so in SQL 2005 or SQL 2008 (not R2).  But in SQL 2008 R2 one mistyped password counts a whole lot more.  Depending on the services being installed, enough to lock out an account.

Then you are left to watch the manual health checks fail because the account is locked out, attempt a cluster failover, only to be locked out on the other side because the SQL Service account was locked out.

You catch your error quickly.  Run to the Team Lead, report what has happened, hoping this can get fixed before the inevitable outages begin.  Then you race back to your desk.  You have an uncomfortable phone call to place to the help desk.

Imagine that while this unfolds you are waiting on hold for the help desk to open a ticket (you have to follow protocol), that will get assigned to an engineer, who will pass it on to AD Services.  Queue the uncomfortable elevator music.

Co-workers scrambling in the back ground, like the bull pin of a busy newspaper.  Someone is keeping an active wipe board of what servers are now down, every minute someone in your cube starting to say “Have you….” Only to be cut off by your response “Still on Hold”.  Queue the music.

Other co-workers are fielding calls from App Teams reporting that their applications are offline.  Other co-workers trying to reach managers that can bypass a well-orchestrated bureaucratic separation of duties that results in elevator music while you are still on hold. Did I mention being on hold?  While on hold forty-five minutes can feel like weeks.

The saving grace (for my job), the bug I found was easily to duplicate.  It was easy to see that this behavior was not in previous versions.  As an added bonus those service accounts started becoming unique real quick.


We’ll skip ahead a bit.  Say you are installing SQL Server 2008 R2.  We’ve gotten up to the Server Configuration where we are punching in our passwords.  First let’s open up our Event Viewer, click on our Security Tab and clear it out. 

*If this were anything other than my personal VM I would backup the log so we could restore it, do not clear out a security log on a prod server without proper guidance.

Now the only event in our log is the event denoting that our log has been cleared.  Back to SQL Server. 

We will click on the Use the same account for all SQL Server services button and type in our .\s-sqlsrv service account.  Definitely not following best practices here.  SQL Engine, SQL Agent, and SSIS all getting the same service account. 

Let’s Type the password in wrong and see what happens?  Click OK.  Click Next.

SQL reacted just like we thought.  Theoretically we should have 1 bad login check right?  The same user name was in use, we don’t need to validate it 3 more times.  One should do.  Perhaps at most we’ve got three validation checks right?

Let’s head over to our trusty error log and see. 

We’ve gone from 1 to 13 errors in the click of a button.  How many failed logins do we have?  Not 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, but 8 failed logins from one attempt.  You’ll get this if you use the button or if you do not use the button.

You may be asking did this get fixed in SQL 2012?

One look at the installer and you can see the button is gone.  Let’s punch in the same service account name and an incorrect password.

And now on to our error log.

Wow!  Six entries, now we are looking at 3 entries per account.  Nope didn’t get any better.


Long story short, make sure those passwords are correct.  Personally I like to use a utility like KeePass to generate, store, and copy my passwords from.  Anything that keeps me from typing.  Or as the case may be mistyping J.

As always Dear Reader, Thanks for stopping by!



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thank You to the People That Get Us There

Hello Dear Reader starting today out in Dallas Texas at the Dallas Convention Center is the Second Annual SQL Rally.  This year Sri Sridharan (@SQLRocks | Blog) and a cast of many other volunteers, click hear to read about these great volunteers, have been hard at work to put together this great event.  There are SQL MVP’s, MCM’s, the Microsoft CSS Team, and even your friendly neighborhood SQL DBA’s such as myself.

While we take a couple days to cram in as much SQL Learning and SQL Networking as we can I wanted to take a minute to say Thank You.  Chances are you have someone that you will be Thanking as well.  If we take a minute to ask the volunteers, the comities, and different SQL Community Leaders they would have someone to Thank as well.  So as we start our SQL Rally let’s start it off on the right foot by saying Thanks to the people that allow us to participate in events like these.

“So Balls,” you say, “who are you saying Thank You to?”

The most important person in the world Dear Reader, the person that gets me there so I can participate in events like these.


When you travel you leave your home behind.  I know not an earth shattering conclusion, but when you leave your home who is there taking care of it? 

When the kids were little they didn’t want to go to sleep at night because they didn’t want to miss anything.  They wanted to stay up and play, or stay up and watch TV.  I used to tell them that while they slept the whole world stopped, and it wouldn’t start again until they woke. I wanted them to be at ease about falling asleep.  They worried what they were missing, and I didn’t want them to worry.

As adults we know that is not true.  When we sleep we know another part of the world is up and active.  In the IT world we count on this.  We expect the system that we put in place to be used while we are not looking.  The whole profit model of the internet and “Buy Now” buttons work on that philosophy, things keep running 24 hours a day.

Life is like that too.  When you are not home, who keeps the show running?  Do you have someone that you can depend on?  Someone that says to you, “Don’t worry go, I can handle this”, someone that you have absolute faith in.   Do you have someone that keeps you from worrying?


1st and foremost I need to say a big Thank You to my wife.  We have 4 kids.  She has given me a beautiful family, worked like crazy to support my career and my crazy hours, and she does an amazing job making our house a home.  Did I mention we have 4 kids?

I’ve recently taken a new job and I’ve been traveling quite a bit.  When you do not travel for work, then events like SQL Saturday’s, SQL Rally, SQL Connections, and the PASS Summit seem like just a couple of events a year.  Just a couple times to go away.  You say things like, “This will make me better at what I do, and besides it’s not like it is forever, it’s just a week or a weekend”.  But those things start to add up.  And when you pile on traveling for work as well, it stacks up even higher.

So when I’m gone I’m not able to help if a kiddo wakes up at 2 am tossing his or her cookies all over the bed.  If there is a noise in the middle of the night, I’m not there to go looking, and it means one parent is stretched thin.  While I’m speaking I can’t kiss a scraped knee or check out a flat bicycle tire. 

There are a million little thing and big things that my wife does during the day, she has a full schedule between family, work, and school.  When you take one parent out of the picture, then that day takes on a whole new level of busy.  Make sure the boys have lunch money, let the dog out, make sure the baby’s lunch is made, let the dog back in, get the baby off to day care, let the dog out,  pay the bills, clean the house, let the dog back in, do laundry, and don’t forget to let the dog out.  And that doesn’t even include things she needs to do for herself.  

The fact that she can make it look so effortless, is a testament to just how awesome she is.  So before I head off, I need to say Thank You.  I’m very grateful, and I want to say that without you to support me I wouldn’t get to go participate in these great events that I write about, it just wouldn’t be possible.  You’ve taken such good care of me that I cannot Thank You enough.  Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

Hopefully I’ll see you when I’m are out in Dallas, but before you get there stop and think about who it is that is making your trip possible.

Chances are I’m not alone in this.  You probably have someone in your life that makes it possible for you to do the things that you do.  Someone that while you’re away, notices more than anyone else. Someone who is happy for you when you get opportunities, helps cover for you when you need it, and offers you the support you need to get the job done.  Someone that when you get excited you want to run to and share the news about <insert good news of your choice/>. 

Someone that while you’re away, notices more than anyone else.  Make sure to say Thank You.

Thanks and I'll see you out there,


Friday, February 3, 2012

Pragmatic Works Has Balls...SQLBalls

That is right Dear Reader, I am making the jump, Starting Monday February 6th I will be a Sr. Consultant with Pragmatic Works.  Over the last year I've gotten to know quite a few of the people that work with Pragmatic Works.  As a company and as individuals they are staples of the SQL Server Community.  If you've been to a SQL Saturday, SQL Rally, 24 Hours of PASS, SQL PASS Summit, or countless other SQL related gatherings you have undoubtedly come across someone from Pragmatic Works.

"So Balls," you say, "Sr. Consultant does this mean you're no longer a DBA?  Are you now jumping ship to become a Business Intelligence guy?"

No worries Dear Reader, even though DBA isn't in my official title I'll be up to my elbows in all kinds of DBA goodness!  A big part of what I'll be doing is working with other DBA's and clients with DBA issues.  Now let's jump right in.


Brian Knight(@BrianKnight|Blog) has written about Why he started Pragmatic Works, read Community Manifesto at Pragmatic Works, but the real question is Why would I join Pragmatic. 

I mentioned Simon Sinek (@Simonsinek |Website) yesterday.  I was introduced to him by my now fellow Co-worker Tom Brenneman (@TomBrenneman).  If you haven't watched Simon's How Great Leaders Inspire Action TED Talk, take a  break click on the link here.  I'll be here when you get back.  It's good stuff.  Heck it's amazing.  If you're like me when you watched it your mind was exploding with ideas and possibilities afterwards.  Take a deep breath, now back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

"So Balls," you say "What's your Why?"

You are on your game today Dear Reader.  I believe at our core we as people all have something that we want to fundamentally believe in. Along the way of life I picked up a simple oath, "To Believe in the Life of Love, To Walk in the Way of Honor, To Serve In the Light of Truth.  This is the Life, the Way, and the Light".  Simple words, but I found I believe in them.  I believe in Love, Truth, and Honor.  When we were kids there were things that we wanted to do, not because of a paycheck, not to get ahead, but the things WE believed in.  We believed in those things so fiercely that they shaped what we wanted to become. 

I found that I really liked working with Computers, and so that became my major in college (eventually), and that was the field I went into (eventually).  It's a little hard to draw a parallel there.  At the best of times I like my computer, at most I'm happy with it, I certainly don't love it.

 What I found was I enjoyed learning, and I was in the right field for it.  Heck I didn't just enjoy it, I found I loved it!  Later I got to mentor and work with others.  When I saw them grow and learn it filled me with a sense of pride, but never so much that I didn't hold dear to the idea that I always have more to learn.  Eventually I got to the point where I would learn on a topic and I would get to educate others on it.  That led me to begin presenting on topics internally for the places where I worked and to the people I worked with.  Then last year I started presenting to the community, I started blogging, I started volunteering, and most importantly I stated participating. 

Doing so I started finding things that I really loved.  I love speaking, I know I'm weird but I like getting up in front of a room and talking about something technical.  I love teaching.  Jumping in to situations where I don't know a lot about an environment and I'm learning on the fly to overcome a critical system outage, almost as fun as white water rafting.  There is a certain Truth to unabashedly teaching, to not withholding information.  When I've worked for a place I've taken great efforts to make sure that when I leave they know what I know, documentation, information, scripts, you name it I want them to have it.  If I have to keep something from you in order to seem important, then what I'm doing is wrong.  In our business Ideas are important, but recognizing that People have to think them, and that People are more important is critical.  And finally if you act with Love and Truth towards others, there is no way that you cannot be perceived as Honorable.

So Why am I going to work for Pragmatic Works?  Because I see a company that believes in empowering people through education and technology.  I see a Company that uses the Pragmatic Works Foundation to train the unemployed and helps Veterans transition to technology jobs after they leave the service.  And not only do they help train people, but they hold recruiting fairs, they work actively to place people.  To top it all off they started doing this during the HEIGHT of the Recession, when our economy was at its worst.  When profits were at an all time low for others, Pragmatic was giving away two free seats in each of its training sessions to an unemployed technology professional.  I see a company that not only believes in the SQL Community but actively encourages it's employees, and offers incentives, for them to participate. 

In short my Why is because I believe in Love, Truth, and Honor.  And I believe in what Pragmatic Works is doing as a company, and I'm very excited to participate.


I attended the Pre-con that Pragmatic Works did for SQL Rally.  I have sat in their presentations, and I have learned from them.  They are SQL MVP's they are Instructors for the SSAS Maestro Course that is as close to a Business Intelligence MCM that Microsoft Currently has.  If you were going to learn about SSIS you would be hard pressed to find people more qualified than Brian Knight, Mike Davis (@MikeDavisSQL|Blog), and Devin Knight (@Knight_Devin|Blog).  From a DBA perspective there are top notch SQL guys like MVP Jorge Segarra(@SQLChicken|Blog), Gareth Swanepoel(@GarethSwan|Blog), and Chad Churchwell(@ChadChurchwell|Blog).  If SSAS is your bag then I would point you no further than Mr. Adam Jorgensen(@adam_jorgensen|Blog).

I cannot say enough good things about this team, and there are many more amazing MVP's and MVP caliber people that I haven't listed.  At Pragmatic I will learn How to be the absolutely best technology specialist I can be throughout a wide range of Microsoft technologies.

Throughout all that learning I'll be Consulting, Teaching, Presenting, and Blogging.  I'm very excited to get started, and I hope you will come along as I explore this next phase of my career.  Until next time Dear Reader.

Thanks Again,


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thank You & Goodbye Publix

It's been a little quite here at Dear Reader, but business is about to pick up.  There are a lot of changes in store for this year.  The very first of which is that Friday February 3rd 2012 will be my last day working for Publix.  Working for Publix has been a tremendous opportunity for me, and I have grown professionally in ways I never dreamed of.  When I left Virginia for Florida Publix was the company I wanted to join.  I knew of them, but not a lot about them.  The more I learned about them, the more I would come to love them as a company.

“So Balls”, you say, “Where are you going?”

That Dear Reader is an excellent question.  And one that we will address tomorrow.  For today I wanted to take a moment to say Thank You to Publix. 


Publix is a Fortune 500 Company in size and in Capacity, it has been in the Fortune 100 Top Places to Work for 15 years in a row.  The concept is simple one.

Back in the early 1900’s a Man named George Jenkins was the youngest manager in Piggly Wiggly History at the time.  He was quite successful.  So successful that the President of Piggly Wiggly had told George that if he had any idea’s he could drive up to Atlanta and share them.  George was a man full of ideas and he set out on a trip to discuss how they could revolutionize the grocery store business.  In those times it took 2 days to travel by car from Fl to Atlanta GA.

When George arrived he sat waiting outside of the President’s office.  He saw men in suits enter and over heard some of the conversation.  At that point the President’s Secretary walked over to George and said that, They were too busy to meet with him that day, and he should just drive back down to Tampa and come back some other time.

The conversation that George had overheard was about the Golf scores they had shot the previous day, and the course they were planning on going to that day.  Needless to say the 2 day drive back down to Florida proved fruitful for George, but not for Piggly Wiggly.  George decided that he wanted a place where every Customer and every Employee would be valued above all else.  That the cost of doing business would not come at the cost of serving the customer or employees.  George quit Piggly Wiggly and went on to found Publix.

True to his word the very first year that Publix was opened the company ran into the red.  The reason it lost money that year?  From the very first day George issued stock in the company to every employee, and paid a dividend per share.  Goerge felt that if you own something you would put more work into it, and from the bag boy up to the owner he wanted everyone to feel pride in their business.  That continues to this day.  Publix is the largest Employee owned company in the United States.  As a matter of fact the only way to get Publix stock is to work for Publix.

When you start with Why great things happen, go watch Simon Sineck if you don’t believe me.  Why, George believed that by Serving people and his Employees that everyone would benefit one another.  How, he would make that the standard and offer Premier Customer service.  What, George just happened to open a grocery store, that went on to become a multi-billion dollar company, dedicated to this day to become the “Premier Grocery Store” in the world. 

Publix was founded during the Depression, at a time when new business shouldn’t succeed.  When many established businesses went under.  George used to get a ride to work with his butcher because instead of buying a car, he spent his money on a delivery truck for his store.  He was at every opening of every Publix when he was alive.  And there are pictures of him bagging groceries and walking customers out to their cars to load them.  The week he died, he had stopped in old store #1 like he did most weeks.  To say hi and see how things were running.  If you live in South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, or Florida you will be able to find a Publix.  I would highly recommend that you stop by and see what George built for yourself.


I don’t care how many times I’ve said it, or how many times you hear it The People make a difference in where you work.  At Publix I have worked with some of the smartest and most dedicated people I have ever met.  It is a very common thing at Publix to run into someone who has been with the company over 30 years.   There are many who still remember the founder of Publix, Mr. George, affectionately and share stories of him.

One of Publix motto’s is “The People Make the Difference”.  And it could not be more true.  Whether it be the individual at a store level that goes the extra mile, the people from Corporate and Manufacturing that load up their own trucks to get supplies to Stores and Customers affected by hurricanes, or the many late nights that the IT staff put in to see that the Store Systems that make the Customer experience so seamless continues to keep working.  It is the people.  The People that work at Publix tirelessly devote their time to charitable efforts without looking for glory or recognition.  Their work with the United Way and in sponsoring children and families during Christmas are two that leap to mind immediately.  But you don’t have to look much further to find men and women that are active members of their Churches, Volunteers for Boy & Girl Scouts, Board Members of State Colleges, and servants of many other fine organizations.

But that is a big body of people.  I worked on the DBA team, specifically on the SQL DBA Team.  The men I worked with are some of the finest DBA’s I’ve ever worked with.  I learn constantly with them, and they have no shortage with which to teach.  When you manage over +3000 SQL Server Instances (Almost 4000) you have to be at the top of your game, or things go wrong. 

I could write a profile on each member of the team and offer glowing reviews and recommendations based on their knowledge of Internals, Optimization, Troubleshooting and Performance Tuning, High Availability and Disaster Recovery.  They are people that I have learned from, gained amazing insights into managing SQL Server, received amazing Scripts from, they even helped me move!, and I had many  wonderful personal conversations with.  Needless to say I look forward to keeping in touch with them, because they are amazing individuals that I hope will be life long friends.

Thank You

So I want to take a brief moment to say Thank You.  Thank You to all the people I’ve worked with.  To the DBA’s that I spent late night’s and weekends with Thank You.  To the Analyst, Programmers, Data Analysts, and Managers Thank You.  To the co-workers that encouraged me to speak at events, sat in them, and offered me constructive criticism Thank You.  I am better for having worked with you and I wish you all nothing but the best.


So now Dear Reader I would like to say to you, Publix will be hiring in the near future.  As you can tell from my glowing review, I think this is a wonderful place.  An opportunity has arisen that I just cannot pass up, and that spells Opportunity, What Opportunity are you looking for, for you. 

Here is the link to the job posting on the Publix Website, click Here.  Good luck to you if you decide to  apply.  And Thank You Again Publix.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Opportunity Are You Looking For?

A lot has been happening this year.  I decided to throw my hat in the ring at being a blogger and a presenter on SQL topics a little over a year ago.  What started out as a nudge into getting out into the community resulted in a full fledged dive into the deep end.  This has been a year that professionally, I don't know that I could ever duplicate.  Before this year I'd never been to a PASS Summit.  I'd never spoken at a conference, never been invited to submit to a conference, heck I'd never attended a SQL Server User Group (and I had to look up the acronym SSUG).  And it all gets back to one word.

"So Balls", you say, "What word is that?"

The word Dear Reader is Opportunity.  This is a word that has been weighing very heavily on me lately.  You see this word, like all words, can be taken many different ways. 


These are the kind of opportunities that just fall into your lap, and are a windfall.  You fly into Chicago and one of your buddies just happens to have an extra Cub's ticket for the game that night.  You check into your coach flight and get automatically upgraded to first class.  Your walking by a ride at Disney and someone who is leaving says "Hey would you and your kid's like our fast passes".

There is no downside to this opportunity.  No one is put out, the timing is perfect, and everything just fits into place. 

When we lived in Virginia we took our first family vacation every and we drove down to Orlando Fl to go to Disney world.  Since we had the boys my wife and I had been dreaming with stars in our eyes about the day we would take our kids to Disney.  It was her hard work, late nights at her job being a manager for a restaurant, and a 401k loan, but we made it down there. 

While we were down there we had a day where the boys crashed early, and the park was going to be open till 4 am.  So when everybody woke up we had a late dinner and headed to the Magic Kingdom around 11 pm.  While we were standing in line for the Tea Cups a Disney Cast Member came over and offered us a "Magic" experience.  They filled out a card for us commemorating where we were and it was made out to the kids with the date on it, and gave us a pass to go to the front of the line.   The line was short, so we didn't make anyone "miss out" on the ride.  But it was a very special experience, and it helped make a great night just a little bit better.


Okay so you F***ed up.  It happens.  It's happened to me it's happened to you.  It happens.

"Balls", you say, " WHOA! You just went from Magical Moment at Disney to You F***ed up WHOA WHOA WHOA!"

Ahh Dear Reader, but that is typically the way these things work out.  Ever done a reply all and not realized the whole company was on it? How about getting auto corrected and telling instead of telling the company VP's "Sorry for the inconvenience" that the main server is offline; you send out "Sorry for the incontinence" (incase you need to look it up it means losing control of one's bowels), yep told the senior management sorry about making you wet yourself over a server outage. I was lucky it was a Japanese company, I only heard from the American staff and they were laughing their @$$es off.  How about locking out a production domain account?  How about having your SQL Server page to your C Drive so the first time you present live in front of people your demo that should take 30 seconds takes 5 minutes and 40 seconds.

Yep these are all mistakes I've made (many more than that), and thanks to them I'm wicked paranoid about auto correct, always check to see who I'm replying to, when a demo goes wrong I've got a backup plan, and Keypass is a wonderful thing.

But that is how things go.  One second the world is going fine.  The next you discover that the chair you were sitting in is broken and you are lying on your back.  Nope I haven't done that but I did one pretty close to that.

These are the learning opportunities.  This is the school of hard knox.  Where you learn that you stretch to keep from pulling a muscle, that you hydrate so you can avoid a cramp, and that you will make darn sure not to repeat.  Because you did it once, you got the T-Shirt, and you don't want to ride that ride again.


We know these as well.  This is the opportunity that nobody handed to you.  That you earned with blood, sweat, and not a little determination.  A couple jobs ago in a land far far away, Virginia, I was working at a job.  I enjoyed it I was working hard, and I really liked the people I was working for and with.  I was busting my hump trying to make myself one of the Key people, one of the linchpins, and I felt I was deserving of a promotion and a raise. 

In one year's time I had gotten some certifications, worked on many different efforts, volunteered for more, and had taken the time to mentor some of the Jr guys on the team.  I was working on Programming stuff, Database stuff, Server Engineer Stuff, Training Stuff, needless to say I was doing a lot of stuff.

The time came for my review and it was the typical company review.  There were some sections that didn't pertain to me or my job, that were normally rated middle of the road so as not to sink my score but ground it from getting to high.   This year I felt in all the extra work that I'd done I'd  found some ways to actually rate pretty high on that stuff, and I needed to because I wasn't yet a Sr guy and I wanted to be one. 
The review process consisted of us writing our initial review.  Our managers reviewing and adjusting it, and then meeting with us to come to a consensus on a final review that would get accepted and sent off to HR.  I wrote the heck out of my review.  It was stacked full of arguments of why I should be a Sr guy and why I deserved a big raise, and I was ready to go into my review and argue it out and come out on top.

Funny thing happened on the way to the forum, my managers agreed with me.  I was working for a company that really valued me and what I was doing.   I grinned ear to ear, and jumped up and clicked my heels when no one was looking.  But hard work had gotten me there, and I just needed to ask for the Opportunity to be recognized.

Simply put these are the things that you miss.  Either by accident or on purpose.  This could be missing meeting up with friends because your phone died.  Passing on presenting at an event so you can attend a family gathering.  These are the things that we miss out on in this game of life.  Forget to follow up with a business contact, go back three spaces.

You only go around on this rock once.  Whatever awaits us after this, you only get once chance.  The missed opportunities could be passing on a job opportunity.  Or they could be the time you spend away from your family while you attend a conference.

When the baby has a nightmare, or there is thunder outside she clings to me.  99.99% of the time she wants Mom.   But when she is scared she wants Dad.  It's a little thing I know.  But it makes me happy to be there for her.  I'm not a jerk I'm not happy that she is scared, but knowing that this little person loves and trusts me so much that just by being beside her she believes I can make thunder and lightning go away is earth shatteringly awesome.  Being a Dad means that you are more powerful that lightning, able to scare away a monster in a closet just by being awake, and able to bring comfort just by being there.  My kids will not be little forever and the baby won't be a baby much longer.

Some missed opportunities are going to a movie.  Some are much bigger than that. 

Sometimes we work late, sometimes we have conference calls during dinner, sometimes we have trouble calls that keep us away nights and weekends, training that makes us travel.  It is part of the job we take on as IT professionals.  We need to do work when it will not affect other people.  Sometimes that means you are working Saturday morning 12 am to 4 am, sometimes it's Saturday morning 7 am to 12 noon.  Other days its Thursday from 10 pm to 4 am Friday.  It happens to me, it happens to you, it happens to all of us

The most important thing about missed opportunities is that it gives us a chance to have a better understanding of what is important.  Because when we realize that these things are important we can do a better job of minimizing what we miss.


Your Mission should you choose to accept it Dear Reader, is to figure out what the Opportunity you are looking for is.  It could be one born out of Hard Work.  It could be that as the day goes along you will have a Learning Opportunity, hopefully it will just be an Easy Opportunity.   And if it is a Missed Opportunity then I hope you learn a little about what was most important, and I hope you made the right choice.

Whatever it is, whether you know it or not you are looking for an opportunity right now.  So Good luck and I'll see you next time.