This month, Aaron Bertrand (b/t) is hosting the TSQL Tuesday topic. And this month, the topic of choice is either 1) an outside hobby or 2) bad habits found/used in TSQL. I somehow think by the time I’m done with this post, I’m going to blur the two together.


I have a number of interests outside of my career, and all of them involve being outside. I love nature. I enjoy hiking, skiing, backpacking, fishing, hunting, shooting, and just being in the woods. In fact, I love it so much I recently took a DBA job in Duluth just so we could live in the woods.

While all of those are great hobbies and awesome things to do, the hobby I am most passionate about is motorcycles. It’s something I have done since I was a kid puttering around on a hand me down 1972 indian 100cc dirt bike. I swear, I spent more time working on it with my Dad vs riding it. After having a couple of dirtbikes, I moved to the street at 19. In fact, that’s the only mode of transportation I had for awhile.

Counter Steering

Then with a wife and a couple of kids, I had to sell the bikes and take a break because the needs of the family came first. A divorce and marriage 2.0 later, I was back to riding. Only this time I wanted to learn how to ride a sportbike. Oh how I loved going fast (at the track of course). I spent a lot of time learning how to ride that style. You’d be surprised what you have to learn to get your knee on the ground: geometry, physics, motorcycle mechanics, body positioning, and the list keeps going.

For instance. Every corner has a natural apex and an engineered apex. Motorcycles actually counter steer, meaning when you are leaned over in a corner the forks are pulled toward the rider making the front wheel steer towards the opposite direction of the turn. 

That’s not to say it’s a safe hobby. You get hurt. There’s an old motorcycle proverb. There’s only two kinds of riders, those who have been down and those who are going down. You’re always one or the other. So on a sunny morning in July of 2010, at approx 100 mph, I went down hard on the back straight of Topeka raceway. I high sided and looked at lot like this guy.

High sides are NOT cool.

It was the last time I would I be on a race track riding a sportbike at a track day. Why? When I added up what those 22 minutes of fun cost me, it was hard to justify continuing trying to get faster.

What next?

So I moved over to riding SuperMotards. Think, dirt bike with street tires on a go-cart track. Oh man, you can have a lot of fun. But alas, when I started applying racing techniques and crazy supermotard skills to everyday street riding, well let’s just say I had some great skills and I was applying them on public roads in traffic. I wasn’t a full blown holligan, but I was flirting with it.

So with that in mind, I decided to go back to riding in the dirt. Only this time, it’s been riding in single track, or what is known as hard enduro. It’s riding your dirt bike in the woods, over rocks, over trees, through streams, over hills, etc. Sometimes, you fall. Sometimes you run out of gas. Sometimes you get lost. Sometimes, all of it happens at once. 

So I made a choice. Continue to ride on the street; risk tickets, jail, getting hurt, or getting myself killed or retire from street riding. I’ve lost enough friends to bad (and often stupid) traffic accidents. I’m sure by now, everyone has seen the gruesome picture of the sportbike rider who rear ended the semi head first. Well, his name was Brandon, he was from Broken Arrow (a suburb of Tulsa), he was going to college, had plans to ask his gf to marry him, and we rode together occasionally. He was a good kid who made a bad decision. Choices defines us. Bad choices don’t make people bad….they just make us people.

And do you know what this has to do with SQL?

Everything. I’ve evolved as motorcyclist. I’ve learned to go fast. I’ve learned to go slow. I’ve learned to be methodical in my technique. I’ve learned to be patient. You see, to go fast on a motorcycle, you have to learn how to do it going slow. To ride technical tracks, you have to be patient and develop your technical skills. You have to practice often, and be humble. It doesn’t happen overnight. I will never be as good as a rider as Johnny Walker, Graham Jarvis, Valentino Rossi, or the late Nicky Hayden. I will never be the SQL professional like Brent Ozar, Thomas LaRock, Jess Borland, or Paul Randal either.

I’m hanging off the bike with my knee almost touching. This is at approx 30 mph.

And that’s ok. Why? Because I’m me. In riding, there’s another famous saying. Ride your own ride. Meaning, you’re the only one in control of the bike. You can only ride to your abilities. No one else is there to make you do anything. Sure circumstances happen like a deer on the road, deep mud hole on the trail, and piss poor judgement like Brandon. He was riding with a group late at night, on US 169 which is a ghost stretch at that time of night. He let others influence his riding and he forgot to respect the danger. He forgot to ride his own ride.

As a DBA, I’ve had to learn to evolve as well. I’ve had to remind myself to ride my own ride. I look up to a number of people in the SQL community, just like I look up to a number of riders. But you have to remember, their path isn’t YOUR path.

The other thing SQL has in common with motorcyclists? They love what they do. The SQL community is just like the riding community. A couple of strangers on motorcycles stop at the same gas station, they are talking about bikes. Just like you talk about SQL at SQL Saturdays, UG sessions, twitter, slack, etc. It’s so damn awesome. And each SQL pros journey is similar, but deeply personally. And if you’re doing it right, even spiritual.

I leave you with some riding wisdom that can be applied to SQL

That’s all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel. ~Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle. ~Author Unknown


Keep your bike in good repair: motorcycle boots are not comfortable for walking. ~Author Unknown

One of the things that has always frustrated me with Microsoft’s tools like SSMS and Visual Studio, is the sheer depth of the tool. Figuring out how to create an SSRS or SSIS package in Visual Studio the first few times can result in half a day wasted. SSMS can be just as bad some days. So it’s nice when you come across a blog series that points out features or tips and tricks you may not know about.

Wayne Sheffield has created a blog series on SSMS pointing out tips and tricks to help make learning these things easier. It’s worth checking out.

A month of SSMS tips and tricks

Awhile back Russ Thomas did 31 days of SSMS and that link is here.

31 days if SSMS


I had a flash of brilliance this week, and that’s a rare thing for me. I came to an understanding with myself that I can’t solve all the world’s problems, most people disagree with me, and if I want to continue to discussing heated topics than I need to remain open minded because odds are, they won’t.

So back to this flash of brilliance i mentioned. You see, Trump’s first State of the Union speech was recently put upon us. Which means, all the prime time channels would be carrying the speech. Facebook and Twitter would be awash with people freaking out about he says, either for or against. This would be followed by an endless stream of news media telling you what you should take away and think about it. Then there would be representatives from both parties to “react” to the speech.

Frankly, forget it. I’m too tired. I have my own worries, my own problems to solve, and I have done enough thinking about the current state of politics in the US. The last thing I want to do is come home and be lectured at, when I have already decided on my position of the topics. Yes, that’s the nice of saying I no longer care. The horse is dead, please move on.

How can I say that?

Oh that’s simple. I left a state who had swung liberal, prior to that I lived in a state that was mostly conservative. You know what I learned? Both sides are equally at fault for the state of things. Maybe it’s an IT thing or maybe it’s not, but it seems like a majority of the people in IT are liberal. That’s great, there’s nothing wrong with that. I am not liberal. I am somewhere between conservative and independent. I prefer to look at the issue, and not the party platform. However, it seems most people in IT are liberal.

Why do I mention this? Well, when I try to interact with the IT community on Twitter or Facebook, I see a lot of Anti-Trump this and Anti-GOP that. I’ve un-followed some brilliant SQL people just because their Twitter feeds are so damn political. Seriously, I just don’t have time.

I have come to understand that when I see this posts, I feel like I need to respond. That I feel slighted for not having the beliefs or values as those I admire or believe to be community role models. I feel “triggered”.

We all come from different walks of life

Then I realize, those folks and I come from different walks of life. We view things differently, we have different values, we see things from a different perspective. This unto itself is a strength in the IT world, as it allows problems to be solved from many different angles. However, we should remind ourselves, that our public social media feeds don’t always reflect our standing the way we think it does.

Between social media, the news media, and the entertainment/sports people lecturing me on how I should live my life, I just don’t have the bandwidth to listen to the regular folk talk about their views in 240 characters or less. It’s just not entertaining or insightful.