Some help for Melody

UPDATE February 26, 2012

We are organizing a Pub Trivia night on Sunday, March 11th at 6 PM at Ciro’s in Woonsocket. This event is a fundraiser for 2-year old Melody Corbett, recently diagnosed with Leukemia and undergoing chemotherapy in Ottawa (more below).

Ciro’s has graciously offered up their newly renovated Hampton Court, and Ricky of One Dude & a Speaker has volunteered his time to serve as trivia master.

The cost is $25 per person and includes a free beverage (domestic beer / house wine / bottomless soft drink). Come in teams of 5. If you’re short we can help match you with another team. Ricky puts on a great trivia night and you are almost guaranteed to have fun even if you don’t get any questions right. We will also be holding a 50/50 draw; tickets will be $1 each. Prizes for the winning trivia teams TBD.

To sign up, please visit our Facebook event page or if you’d prefer e-mail us at aaron.bertrand@gmail.com. We will of course gladly accept donations even if you can’t make the event – but we’d love for you to join us!

One of my best friends, going back to grade school, was dealt a really big blow in January: his daughter Melody, who will turn 3 in May, was diagnosed with Leukemia. Here are a couple of shots of Melody (and Jonathan) when we visited them over the Christmas break:

They are with her now at CHEO in Ottawa, staying at a Ronald McDonald house almost 4 hours from home, helping Melody go through chemotherapy and many other procedures and tests. A plea went out on Facebook to help them out, and I wanted to try to help spread it a little further. If you’re on Facebook, you can see the story here after logging in:

http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10151188536190454&id=752000453

I’ll repeat the information here for those not on Facebook:

A message for Krista, Jon and Melody’s friends and family:

Like us, we imagine that the Shakell/Corbett family has been often on your mind as Melody undergoes treatment for leukemia at CHEO. Like us, we imagine that many of you are wondering what you can do to help support Krista, Jon and Melody. We know from our own experiences and those of friends, that staying at a hospital away from home with your child gets very expensive. There are fees for parking, meals, incidentals, etc., as well as the anticipated costs of lost income and travel.

With the family’s permission, we are posting here to suggest a virtual fundraiser where we would each make a donation of ever helpful cash to Krista and Jon. By doing this, we will each get to help in a small way, at a time when we all wish we could help so much.

It’s easy to send money online or via your smartphone. All you need is an email address (krista.m.corbett@gmail.com). You can use either an e-money transfer via your bank when logged into your accounts online, or you can send money via PayPal. PayPal is free and it’s easy to set up an account. For either method, Krista will get an email with instructions as to how to access the money you have sent.

We are each going to donate $25 directly to the family today, and hope you will consider doing the same.

Please “share” this post to help spread the word throughout Krista and Jon’s networks of many caring friends, including those who may not yet know about Melody’s illness.

Thank you,
Kate Rogers and Erin Rogers (friends of Krista)

We hope that you will find a way to give a little toward this family facing some really tough times. No amount is too small. If you’re not comfortable with the e-money transfer or with PayPal, we will be more than happy to collect paper checks and make sure they get to the family on your behalf. Or, if you want their mailing address, just let me know at aaron.bertrand@gmail.com.

The most interesting game of Words With Friends I’ve ever played

On New Years’ Day, Tim Ford (@sqlagentman) and I started a game of Words With Friends. The game started out innocently enough – I played ALTER. And then I thought, why not make this more fun? I consulted Tim and said, hey, let’s restrict ourselves to T-SQL keywords. (Those of you not from my SQL Server circles are probably shouting, “Nerd alert!” I won’t be offended if you move on.)

The rules were pretty simple:

  1. Each word played must be a T-SQL keyword, DDL command, or a SQL Server-related concept.
  2. “Side effect” words are ok, as long as at least one of the words fits (1).
  3. Once a word fitting (1) is played, it can’t be changed to a non-key word. For example, USE could be changed to USER, but not to FUSE.

Tim was on board (no pun intended), and played SEED (as in IDENTITY). I played TEXT, and he played BIDS (probably about the only really questionable one all game, which expanded rule (1) to include concepts). Overall the following words were played, in no particular order:

SQL-related words   “Side effect” words
ALTER
SEED
TEXT
BIDS
READ
GROW
GO
NEW
NEW
LOB
REAL
HEAP
FOR
IF
IF
LIKE
DO
BY
OUT
OR
TOP
TOP
OUT
TIME
AS
USE
USER
TO
INTO
IS
IS
END
NO
SET
IN
OR
ED
GEN
OH
LIS
BED
RE
JAPE
AM
RITZ
IT
ID
QUEENS
HI
HE

That’s a pretty good ratio, I think. I might have missed some, and I certainly can’t recall all of the cases where IN became INTO, etc.

Tim kicked my ass, by a large margin. I also think it was my worst WWF score ever. The clear separation came when he played JAPE on a triple word score (the actual SQL-related word played was TOP). That one hurt. Shortly after, he played RITZ off of USE to make USER. Burned again.

Anyway, without further blabbering and nerdiness, here is the board at the end of the game. Click for iPad size:

So, the next time you’re playing Words With Friends against a fellow member of your #sqlfamily, think about playing with SQL keywords only (and feel free to make it more or less strict than Tim & I have).

Ok, off to start a second such game with Tim…

My first blog posts

Today, Denis Gobo (@DenisGobo) tagged me in Meme Monday. The topic: what is the first blog post you wrote, and when did you write it?

I have two answers.

 

My first personal blog post

I started blogging at aaronbertrand.com on October 27, 2002. My first post was just a basic intro, describing what I planned to do on the site – belittle people and share photos.

2002-10-27

This is my grandmother, who passed away in February.

She is, and will always be, missed quite dearly. This picture was taken at about 5:30 PM in 1997: the year I squeaked by with a degree, and moved from Ontario to Rhode Island. My only regret is not visiting more often while she was still with us, or that I was in such a rush to leave Canada in the first place.

I apologize. There are happier pictures to the left, kids. Some pages have captions, some don’t. It’s been hell enough to finally put all of these online; if you can’t figure out why a picture is funny, that the structure it depicts is the CN Tower, or what shade of orange that particular sunset is dominated by, I don’t think a caption would help you too much anyway.

In addition, I’m really sorry if you use a small monitor and can’t see all of the captions on larger pages but, well, I didn’t choose your monitor; you did. And if you use Netscape or some other piece of crap and have problems with these pages, well, I didn’t choose your browser, either.

I may get around to publishing rants here at some point. Occasionally I say some funny things, or so I’m led to believe, and if I can add a bit of humor to your day (because I know I’ve had days like the one you’re having), I’m more than willing to do so. Usually these will be about driving experiences and run-ins with incredibly stupid or shallow people. I’d love to write about the fabulous interactions I have at work some days; however, some of my co-workers know of this site, and if word got around what I think of John or Jane Doe…

In any case, stay tuned. I’m not going to promise you a delivery date, but at the very least, you can come back every once in a while and browse the photographs.

I like to think that I’ve mellowed out a little bit since then, and I did continue sharing photos there until mid-2008 – after which I found that facebook was much easier. Unfortunately, I don’t have a straightforward way to re-publish all of the photos in a new location, but you can still get to them via this page.

 

My first sqlblog.com blog post

I was invited to participate on the sqlblog.com site at the end of 2006. This was shortly after I had sold aspfaq.com, where I didn’t blog about SQL Server per se, but I did write a lot of answers to frequently asked questions. The original intro blog post is here, but I will reproduce below for completeness:

Leaving aspfaq behind

You may or may not know that I was the primary author over at aspfaq.com. Earlier in 2006, I allowed another entity to take on the web site and incorporate it into their grander scheme of IT resource sites. Unfortunately, their transition has been a little slower than I expected.

Their content management system has either been broken or off-limits at various times since then. I have sent them bug reports and minor updates to several articles, but so far, these have been low on the list. I want to ensure that you all understand that I have faith in the new owners, and that they will pick up the slack once they get all their content management systems aligned.

In the meantime, I will be posting topics of interest to me here, as well as addendums to articles over at aspfaq. I have promised them that I will continue to promote the site and publish content, so don’t be surprised if something you see here suddenly becomes an article over there.

My first post with any substance will follow shortly; I have kept a running log of SQL 2000 and SQL 2005 builds and hotfixes that have been released since about mid-September.

As of today I have written 496 blog posts on sqlblog.com. I had no idea I was about to reach a significant milestone; I’ll have to do something special for post #500.

A few unrelated updates…

Kirby at 80%

Last month, I talked about Kirby’s car accident and initial recovery – I am happy to report that Kirby is doing very well, and is returning to a lot of his old ways. He’s been taking stairs almost as quickly as before, has been doing his head tilts more often, and is generally more alive. This morning he even crawled under the bed, something he hasn’t done since before the accident. We recently “handed down” a duvet for Kirby & Quigley to use on top of their doggy beds. A couple of shots:



 

Dell redeems themselves, a little

Last week, I talked about my horror story with Dell – they shipped me a dud, then refused to accept it as a return because I had it for longer than 21 days. After disputing the charges with my credit card and complaining to the Texas Better Business Bureau (mostly about going back on what they promised me the day I called support), Dell has reluctantly agreed to accept the computer as a return and process my refund. So, just a little advice – if you find yourself in a tough spot with Dell, you just need to play a little hardball. They rely on the fact that most people *won’t* fight back and will instead just accept that they are stuck with their computer. I can tell you that I would have had a lot of fun abusing their support policies if I had been forced to keep that doorstop. My mom is quite happy with her Mac, and I am confident that it will last her longer than the Dell would have – even if it wasn’t DOA. So if you’re thinking about a new computer, please think twice about a Dell desktop or laptop, and if you need any help convincing yourself to go Mac, feel free to contact me.

 

NHLPA kills realignment

And at the beginning of December, I talked about the proposed NHL realignment – which I thought was a done deal. The official statement from the NHLPA is, in technical terms, a smelly pile of crap. His two main reasons are:

  • it may lead to more cumbersome travel for some teams
  • playoffs are imbalanced because of different sized divisions

I just threw up in my mouth a little.

On the first point. These guys are making millions of dollars to play a sport two or three times a week, and a slightly different travel schedule is going to be noticeable? It’s not like they’re flying JetBlue, going through TSA, and paying baggage fees. Let’s say it means at the high end that a player spends 10 more hours on a charter jet over the course of a season. This really qualifies as undue hardship and unfair working conditions? I do not envy them – having done my fair share of travel over the past year and a half, I am not denying that travel is hard on these guys. But Bill Daly stresses that while there may be some teams today that have an easy schedule and would travel slightly more under realignment, most teams would actually travel less. Perhaps the NHL board should have worked harder to provide a sample schedule – hell, I could probably figure out how to do that. But the NHLPA should have reserved the right to reject the schedule, not the entire realignment concept, if it *did* in fact turn out to mean harder travel for the average player once an actual schedule was determined. Instead they threw out the baby, the bath water, and the entire house.

And on the second point. To a degree I understand – 6 divisions of 5 teams each means that every team has an equal opportunity to win *their division.* But should we really be fighting about whether the 5th-place team in a 7- or 8-team division should have a better chance of reaching the post-season? Shouldn’t we be more focused on bringing the best teams into the playoffs, than coddling the worst teams and finding a way to sneak them in? One of the things I hate most about the current playoff formats is that the conferences still make it unbalanced and there is plenty of inequity today. A team in the Western Conference might make the playoffs with 80 points while a team in the Eastern Conference doesn’t make it even though they had 90 points. And while it hasn’t happened, you *could* have a situation where the winner of a division finished with less points than the 8th-place team in their conference. How craptacular would that be? I like the proposed format better, but what I would really like to see is that playoff seeding is judged based on overall league performance. I shouldn’t be seeded 3rd because I won my crappy division but finished in 6th or 7th place in the conference. Fehr says that the new playoff format would be inequitable but I think there is already plenty of inequity today – this would by no means be worse, it would just be different.

It’s funny that Fehr makes statements about “drawbacks” that are quite ambiguous and could be argued both ways, but completely ignores touching on things that make realignment so plausible. The two that stand out to me:

  • Every team would play every team at least once in each other’s building. This season the Stanley Cup Final re-match only occurs once, in Boston. That game happens to be going on right now. So Vancouver fans don’t get to see the Stanley Cup Champions this season. Which is probably better for the city in the event that they lost the game, but that’s a different story. There are plenty of other cases – for example, some teams won’t see Sidney Crosby OR Alex Ovechkin this year. And that’s a real shame for fans of the NHL that are interested in more than just seeing their own team on skates.

  • Teams like Detroit would play more games in their own time zone, which means they would have a better impact on their fan base. Since they are in the Western Conference, most of their games are against Western Conference teams, almost all of which are in the Pacific time zone. Detroit is in the Eastern time zone, which means 7:30 away games actually start at 10:30 local time. How many kids today do you think get to watch an average Red Wings away game?

I could probably talk about this all day. But there’s a great match-up on TV right now that, because of the current haphazard alignment and schedule, will only happen once this year.