2006 - A Year In Review

Life Changes Part 1
2006 was a great year, and a very busy year, both personally and professionaly.  Over the last several years, I have been reassessing my priorities and how I spend my time, and this was amplified with the changes in my life in 2006.  Let's take a look at what has been going on, and perhaps some of my lessons learned will be helpful to you.

Of course, the biggest change in 2006 was that I got married to a lovely woman named Tanya.  I had never been married before, and neither had she, so this was quite a dramatic change for both of us.  We had been dating for two years and decided that it was time to make this lifetime commitment to one another.  After proposing in April, we spent all summer making plans and arrangements for the wedding, and finally on September 9th, we were married at Safeco Field, the baseball park here in Seattle.  We are both fans and thought that this was a great way to have a fun event for everyone to enjoy.  No, we didn't rent out the entire 50,000 seat stadium.  But we did rent a couple of large group suites and did the ceremony in the suites an hour before game time with the reception in the same rooms during the game.  I think everyone in attendance really enjoyed the whole event, and as a good sign, the Mariners won the game after 13 innings.  Also, in a fun twist of timing, Damian was in Seattle for his first visit with his new employer that weekend, and I had a chance to meet him in person for the first time the night before my wedding.  We had a last-minute guest cancellation, so I was able to get a ticket for him to come to the wedding and ballgame, too.

Professional Changes and PASS
Tanya is now my top priority, and some things had to change to reflect that.  This has meant taking time away from some other activities to give it to her.  Some of that transition had obviously started while we were dating, but even more so now that we were settling into a life together.  Life did not really get any less busy.  In fact, work was getting even busier during this time with me moving in the direction of lead technician or management.  And, we had to do some mild renovations to the house in order to fit both of our stuff inside (even after two large garage sales).  So if you have wondered why you haven't heard from me in a while, this explains a large portion of it.  With the changes at work, I don't have much spare time to spend on SQLTeam fielding questions.  Thankfully, quite a number of skilled folks have come along over the last few years and the level of expertise has grown significantly.  I doubt that I was missed other than perhaps by those with whom I'd formed an online friendship through the forums.

In November I attended the PASS Community Summit here in Seattle.  It was great to see friends from the last several years and to meet some new folks.  It's always good to catch up with Graz whom we all have to thank for these forums and blog community.  PASS this year was a very different experience for me than before.  Some of that was due to the fact that I was married and commuting 2 hours each way to get to the event each day.  But a larger part of it I think was due to my changing responsibilities at work.  As I am called upon at work to do more team management, I am doing less actual development.  So this year, I found myself focusing on some of the sessions that were not about SQL Server directly.  For example, I went to a few sessions that talked about methodologies like MSF for Agile and SCRUM.  I definitely went to check out the new DBA version of the Visual Studio Team System because I was in the middle of proposing that we adopt the whole Team System and Team Foundation Services set of tools.  And since I am also responsible in large part for our implementation of SharePoint, I took advantage of the sessions talking about SharePoint 2007.  I definitely had to go to Graz's session on What I Wish Developers Knew about SQL Server not just because I know the guy, but I also have to start thinking in terms of "what does my team not know that they need to know?"

I did go to a few sessions on particular SQL 2005 features, and of course it was GREAT to have the keynotes by Ballmer, Paul Flessner and David Campbell.  They did a great job, and I was much happier with the keynotes than in previous years.  Unfortunately, this may be my last PASS Community Summit.  I still enjoy it, learn a lot and think it is very worthwhile.  But as I do more and more management, it will be harder to justify to my company that I should be the one going.  It will more likely be that we should send one of our other developers instead.  When I was an independent contractor, it was easy to block out the time and spend the money on my own because it was all tax deductible.  But it's a different story when you have to convince someone else to foot the bill, and the company does not have a budget dedicated to professional conferences.  Perhaps I can get that changed before the next one rolls around, but as I said it might make more sense to send somebody other than me for the best ROI for the company.  Maybe I'm wrong about that.  Maybe by the time it comes around, there will be a good reason for me to go for strategic planning purposes.  But maybe not.

I certainly had a good time in my two sessions on the Program Committee.  It was interesting to get a preview of the talks and be able to influence the topics that would be covered.  It was a really good opportunity to hear a few different people's perspectives on what subjects were important to them and why.  And the perks were nice, too.  If I was sure that I would be returning to the conference next year, I would not hesitate to volunteer again.  But it doesn't seem right to me to be involved in picking the speakers, and therefore the topics for a conference I may not attend.

Life Changes Part 2
In the middle of December, my life got turned upside down again.  Rather unexpectedly, my mother passed away just two weeks shy of her 68th birthday.  I was fortunate that Tanya and I had visited her for Thanksgiving, so I had spent time with her recently, but still it's quite a shock.  We had all been prepared for a long, slow decline in health because she has had MS (Multiple Sclerosis) for years, but we were not prepared for the quick and aggressive onset of lung cancer that spread to her brain.  Thankfully, my two brothers and I all get along well, but it is no fun to do all the stuff you have to do to clear someone's estate.  I am also very thankful that my mother was well organized and had most everything in order before this happened.  So primarily we just had to make the arrangements for her memorial service and then sort through her personal belongings.  Something like that will really make you stop and think about what's truly important to you, what you want to accomplish in your remaining lifetime, what do you want to be remembered for, and how should you spend your time.  If you have not given some deep thought to those subjects, I encourage you to block out a day or two and do it.  Of course if you're married, do it together.

So what does the future hold?  Well, I enjoy writing, and I plan to make the time to post here on the SQLTeam blog.  My personal blog is currently in suspense and I have not yet decided if I will continue it.  But I believe that some of my experiences on the management side of tech life may shed new and interesting light on my series of Doing Business Right.  I already have a few ideas for some posts based on my recent and still continuing experience reading resumes and conducting interviews for a couple of development positions.  So if you're currently looking for work or ever think you will be again, stay tuned for that.

Beyond all of that, I hope you have a Happy and Prosperous New Year.  We're two weeks into it already.  I hope that you made some new year's resolutions and have not abandoned them already.  If you have, then get back in there and start over.  It's only been two weeks.  That's nothing in terms of changing your life for the better.  So go to it!

posted @ Sunday, January 14, 2007 7:00 PM


Comments on this entry:

# re: 2006 - A Year In Review

Left by Andrew Murphy at 1/16/2007 5:32 AM
Just a quick note to congratulate you on your wedding - I had wondered why life on SQLTeam was a bit quieter! We met up in May 2003, when I brought a soccer team over from Ireland. It was good meeting you then and the effort to come along was much appreciated. Best wishes to you both personally and professionally.

# re: 2006 - A Year In Review

Left by AjarnMark at 1/16/2007 9:26 AM
Hi Andrew! I do remember when you came to the area and we met. But I had not realized that it was such a long time ago. My, how time flies! I hope all is well with you, too!

# re: 2006 - A Year In Review

Left by Jeff at 1/17/2007 9:04 AM
Hi Mark -- well, congratulations on getting married and my condolences on the loss of your mother. I had a very similar year, actually: got married in Nov, and unfortunately my father passed away unexpected 2 weeks later. So, I kind of know what you are going though.

Well, keep writing and keep up the great work, I enjoy your posts and look forward to more.

# re: Jeff

Left by AjarnMark at 1/21/2007 3:40 PM
Hey, Jeff! Congrats to you, too! Sorry to hear about your dad. Makes for a rough holiday season, eh? I hope that your new season is off to a good start. Hang in there!
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