Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Giant Falls

On Sunday, a giant in my field of work passed away.  His name was Ken Henderson.  I have spoken to Ken one-on-one only twice and heard him lecture once, so I can't count his passing as a personal loss.

But for my profession and my company, his loss is as big a loss as I could imagine.  Ken was the guru of Microsoft SQL Server.  He wrote the Guru's Guide to Microsoft SQL Server Architecture and Internals, a bible in our industry.  There are very few people who know the inner workings of SQL Server as well as Ken.  Fewer still shared what they knew as well.

Many people who have worked with Microsoft SQL Support on a database problem have used the PSSdiag utility to gather data to help solve the problem.  PSSDiag proved so useful that it was built into the current version of SQL Server as SQLDiag.  PSSDiag was Ken's baby.  It has saved our customers countless hours of troubleshooting time over the years.

So where am I going with this?  It is a loss for everyone when someone as brilliant, talented and dedicated as Ken is struck down in his prime.  He is one of those folks who most never hear of, but help so many.  Every profession has unsung heroes like Ken.  He was a giant.  I think he deserves a little extra thought and recognition, so its here in this post. 

Thanks, Ken.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Limit on the Insanity

A good crowd gathered for the Falstaff home game last night.  Instead of the usual .25/.50 NL Hold' em that we've been playing since I joined the group, we switched it up to play 1/5 limit dealers choice.  The games had to be something that was spread in a Vegas casino which pretty much meant the HORSE games (Hold' em, Omaha, Razz, (7 card) Stud, or (Omaha) Eight or better (O8) (Hi/Lo).

We spent most of the night on O8 and Stud with some Hold' em, Razz, and Omaha mixed in.  My night started out really rough.  Actually, it was pretty typical for recent games.  I couldn't complete any hands at first and didn't show anything down for quite a while.

The first stand-out hand for me was in O8, I held 88A something and the flop came 855 with 2 diamonds.  I spent the hand pushing pretty hard to build a pot and at least 2 players coming along for the ride.  I was somewhat relieved when the river showed the last 5 to make sure there would be no low.  Of course, one of the players that remained had the 4th 5 to crush me and almost end my night.  I really hate one outers on the river.

It was a big night for big hands.  We saw 3 sets of quads and two straight flushes, one was a royal and was hit in Stud.  Wow.

I can't really complain.  I started completing some hands and won a few nice pots to continue my night.  I took a few breaks to play Falstaff's guitar hero.  I don't think most of the folks there realize how much fun I had playing that game.  Sometimes, I entertain my self really well.

Another memorable O8 hand gave me TT2A with the 2 and A in Clubs.  The flop gave me an A high flush with 3 clubs, one of which was the Tc.  The hand had four callers and I think it was capped.  The turn was the Kc I think, which allowed some other lower flush to get more aggressive.  The river paired the 2 on board to give me a tens over 2s full house.  Unfortunately for Falstaff, that 2 gave him a lesser full house (2s over Ks maybe).  In any case, I scooped that pot pretty much insuring that I'd have a good night after all.

I made the most out of the last half of the night and ended with a profit around 230 points or so.  This coming week is to be a tourney followed by cash games at BGs.  More fun to be had.

Conversation Topics

  • Guitar Hero (How to play and demos)
  • Room available at the Monte Carlo
  • I know/knew of Don Lochman
  • "Is that the customer in Hawaii"
  • Razz sucks (times about 20)
  • Nate: "I raise" (times about 150)
  • To Nate: "You're Jewish - Are you going to audition for Anne Frank?"
  • Many favorite lines from "Blazing Saddles"
  • This is my friend.  He is a Republican.
  • Electoral Dysfunction

The week that was

I don't complain about my life.  I've really got it pretty good, but from time to time a curve comes my way.  Last week was just such a week.

While I as in Tucson about 10 days ago, I got up in the morning with a tight feeling in my chest.  I just assumed it was some desert allergy or me just not being used to the climate.  It was no big deal since I would be heading to the pacific northwest the next day.

The weather in SW Washington state was crappy, wet and cold.  My chest congestion began to develop into a full-blown cold.  By Saturday, I was home and was in full blown sick mode.  The worst part was that I would not be able to rest.  I had a workshop that had been planned for a couple months coming up starting on Monday.  The customer was flying their people in from around the country, laptops had been delivered and there was no way to get a replacement at this late date.

So on Sunday, I traveled up to Gaithersburg, MD and spent Monday through Thursday working through one of the worst colds I've had in a decade.  Workshop days are long enough when I'm feeling well.  I thought the week would never end, but it did.

I took the first flight back on Thursday evening (walked right on as a stand-by with out waiting at all).  I got home and crawled in bed for about 14 hours.

I'm feeling better finally.  My cold is down to an irritating cough and I was able to run some today.  I have another trip coming up this week.  This one should be a lot less stressful and I plan to feel a lot better.

Oh, yea.  I did play some poker last night.  I'll post my impressions on that outing in the next post.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thoughts on Portland

The airport is really nice. It's cold. It's sunny. The hotel room is nice and warm.  It's cold and foggy.  The customer meeting went well. The airport is really nice.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Notes from Tucson

I like Tucson.  The weather in the middle of winter is really nice.  Lows have been in the 30s and highs in the 60s and 70s, and, of course, it has been very sunny.  I'm sure this is off-set in the summer with highs in the 210s, but not this week.

Traffic has been very low.  I've driven the morning and afternoon rushs each day this week and could barely tell that traffic was increased over midday.  I've been on the out-skirts of town (from the airport thru the AFB to the east side for those who know anything about Tucson).  The drivers are fine, but Charlotte drivers make just about all drivers look that way.

Speaking of the air force base (Davis-Monthan Air Force Base), they have a very cool (for me) airplane graveyard here in Tucson.  As you drive along Kolb Ave through the base there are dozens of military aircraft on both sides of the road.  Even my untrained eye spotted C-130s, A-10, F-15s, A-7s, Cobra Helicopters, C-5s, and others that I can't put a name to. 

Then, just around the corner is the Pima Air Museum.  They have a ton of vintage planes sitting out in the AZ sunshine.  I saw Russian Migs, an old Air Force One, B-52s, A-4s, an A-6, F-14, some old delta wing fighters and a supper guppy transport plane among dozens of others.  And that was just what I could spot while driving.  I think they keep the good stuff inside.

The business part of the trip started much worse than I expected.  I really didn't need to be there.  I made the best of it and learned a ton about Biztalk.  The meetings turned around on day 2 and I got to make some presentations that really helped the customer out.  I think they will have me back for some training.  I'll have to schedule an extra day to play poker and tour the aircraft.

Speaking of poker, I did manage to go by the Desert Diamond Casino last night.  No limit poker is not legal in AZ, except in tournaments.  They did spread a $2-20 spread limit game but were only taking interest last night.  I put my name on the list but the game never came together.

I ended up sitting at the $1-3 limit table.  This is not the poker that I wanted to play, but it was better than sitting in the hotel room.  I got up about $50 in the first 45 minutes and then the cards took their all-to-familiar turn and I never won another hand.  I didn't even have any hands that would have won had I played every hand.  It was bazaar, yet familiar.  In 2.5 hours of play, I ended the night down just over $50.  I'll have to count that as good play considering the cards.

Now it's off to Vancouver, WA (across the river from Portland, OR) where I have a business meeting tomorrow and then home on Friday, but not before stopping by Vegas for a few hours.  See ya.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


What nationally known politician was in Tucson tonight?  I don't have any idea, but my colleagues and I went out to dinner tonight and the place was crawling with secret service guys.  The staff had been told not to talk about it.

I'll be watching the news tomorrow to see if anyone jumps up.  I heard a rumor that it was the Vice President.  We'll see, maybe.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Sure, OJ Simpson is back in jail for violating the conditions of his bail, but he's in VEGAS, baby.  Cool.

Friday, January 11, 2008

An Audacious Plan

au·da·cious [aw-dey-shuhs]


  1. Extremely bold or daring; recklessly brave; fearless: 
  2. Extremely original; without restriction to prior ideas; highly inventive
  3. Recklessly bold in defiance of convention, propriety, law, or the like; insolent; brazen.
  4. Lively; unrestrained; uninhibited

Yea, that sounds about right.

After meeting GCox in Vegas in December and hearing/reading the adventures of TripJax and Maudie, I decided that I should get myself to Oki-Vegas at the next opportunity.  The dates for that next opportunity were announced on Monday.

Oki-Vegas will be open from July 11 through 13, 2008.  As there are no limits on North Carolinians, I am so there, although questions remain.  How I would get there and back being the main issue.  I though of calling up TripJax, since he also lives in NC, to see if we could share the ride.  I thought of pinging the Falstaff home game crowd to see if one or more wanted to join the quest.  I thought about spending US Air points and flying.

Then it hit me.  I have other things that need doing this summer, most notably to take Dr. K to baseball games in cities we have yet to visit.  Why not combine the two?  Because it's stupid, that's why.  No, that has never stopped me before.  Why start now?  I'll just call it audacious instead.

So I started looking at the specifics.  Oki-Vegas is in, well, Oklahoma.  The remaining baseball cities are Phoenix, Kansas City, St. Louis, Dallas (Arlington), and Houston.  As it turns out, we could catch a game in Dallas just before Oki-Vegas.  After three days of partying and recovery in OKC, we could head off to Phoenix via Boulder/Denver, then to games in Denver, KC, and St.L. before returning to CLT.  The baseball schedule was kind and fit our schedule like a glove (except for Houston which will have to wait until later in the summer).

I plugged all of this into MS Streets and Trips.  It turns out to only be 5400 road miles, give or take.  We can do it in less than 2 weeks and we won't have to spend more than 8 hours on the road any day except the return home from St. Louis.  We might even see a good bit of the USA in the process. (Where is that "World's Largest Rhubarb" display?)

I ran this plan by Dr. K last night.  I should not have been surprised, but she sounded down right enthusiastic about the trip.  Her only requirement was that we stay in a nice hotel in Oki-Vegas.  Actually, I think she may have said she needs to stay in a nice hotel in OKC, but I get the point.  The $30 a night motel offered by GCox won't do.  It is not the Oki-Vegas way, but it is a compromise that I can live with.

So it looks like Special and Dr. K will be making an appearance in Oki-Vegas and quite possibly a baseball park near you.  I know I'm excited.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The calm before the storm

The past few days have been slow, but then again, maybe that was just the last hour.  In the past month, we've had our oven break, our refrigerator go out, and our heat go out.

The heat took a call to the heating and air company that I use and it was fixed within about 2 hours and $600.  Good thing, too.  It went down to 15 here in Charlotte that night.

The fridge got replaced with a new stainless steel hulk of a fridge.  We now have an ice maker (which we didn't have before) and much less noise in the kitchen.

As for the new range, well, what we got wasn't new.  It was actually a killer deal on a used range from the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.  We got a $450 unit for $200 and the money goes to build homes for the deserving poor.

After the fiasco with the gas line a year ago, Dr. K was not about to let me install the new gas range by myself.  Luckily, my uncle D is in town to help with Granny C's final arrangements.  Since his profession was that of a mechanical engineer, he got the Dr. K seal of approval for gas appliances.  It took us 20 minutes to swap the units.

Now that the house in in order I can get away with some travel.  In the coming days I have trips to Hopewell, VA (Granny C's memorial), Tucson, AZ (business meeting), Vancouver, WA (another business meeting), vegas (a few hours of poker), and Gaithersburg, MD (presenting a workshop).

Time to get on with it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Thelma Temple Curtis 1919-2008

My grandmother passed away this morning. She was the only grandmother I ever knew. She was 88 and had been in declining mental and physical health since my grandfather passed a few years ago.

Some of our friends and family get taken from us too early which leaves us shocked and grieving, like Mr C. This is not the case with Thelma. She lived a good life. She had a good marriage of over 60 years, two beautiful children(my mother and uncle), 5 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren.

In the past couple of years, she really didn't have much to live for that I could see. She didn't have anything that she enjoyed. I don't think she liked assisted living, although it was necessary for her to be there. All of her siblings preceded her. It just looks like it was time.

There were times back in Virginia when she was very different. She lived much of her life "in the country" surrounded by her brothers, sisters and life-long friends. She was at her best while everyone busy making a living or raising their children or spoiling their grandchildren.

Thelma will live on through the memories that we carry forward. Some of my strongest memories are:

  • The pressure cooker full of collard greens on the gas stove top. I can hear the hiss and rattle right now.
  • The house where she lived on 21st Avenue in Hopewell, VA.
  • The huge white Olds 88 that she drove.
  • The way she and my granddad were able to do things that defied the limits of age or energy like replacing the duct work in the crawl space of their house when they were in their 70s.
  • her showing me how to mail a letter. We used a 5 cent stamp back then.
  • her taking me and my younger brother to such movie classics as "Kansas City Bomber", and "The Neptune Factor"
  • She was the cleaning-est person I've ever known. If she didn't get her vacuum cleaner on time, I think it would have come to get her. She once disassembled her over door to clean the inside of the glass. (or did we make that one up?) (Note: We didn't make that up. She also disassembled much of the inside of her dishwasher to clean it as well)

God bless and farewell, Thelma. We'll miss you.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

It's good to know someone out there is studying this stuff #2

Scientists look to sperm to power nanobots

Insert your own joke here.  I can't choose between all of the possibilities.

New Year

I've read a few blogger posts about the new year.  They are full of the usual looks back at the previous year and/or resolutions about the year to come.  I think I'll do a little of both.

2007 was a hard year in the Special K house.  Saying goodbye to Mr. C took over 9 months of the year and took a big chunk out of all of us.  Since then, Dr. K (my wife) and her siblings have bounced back pretty well.  Mrs. C is having a difficult time finding her way, but she leaves on a trip to SE Asia in a few days.  We all hope that helps her out.

Generally, I have nothing to complain about, but like Joe Walsh sang, "I can't complain, but sometimes I still do.  Life's been good to me so far."  I'm more in love with Dr. K than I've ever been.  I got reminded of that by Falstaff last night.  He said "No, you are not like most married men.  You are happy."  I don't know about most married men, but otherwise that is quite true. Our needs are few and we have enough money to generally cover our wants.  I don't ask more than that.

On the down side, my grandmother, Granny K (we've never called her Granny, but what the hell), fell and broke her hip on Friday.  She is still in the hospital.  GK wasn't getting around very well before this accident.  I don't expect that she will be able to recover fully due to her attitude and mental situation.  That's just an expectation.  I hope I'm wrong.

I don't make formal resolutions.  Aside from being a holiday, I feel like 1/1 on any particular year is just another day.  I don't get worked up about the parties or the ball dropping or any of that jazz, so I don't go out of my way making resolutions.  I'll try to add to what I like about myself and continue to correct what I don't.  That goes on all year anyway.

2008 is showing many signs of being better than 2007.

I'm going to try to improve my conditioning by continuing to run on a regular basis.  I'd like to do some 5k road races in 2008.  It's been 5 years since the last one. 

I want to complete the list of home improvements that I made about 9 months ago.  I put a pretty good hurtin' on the list in 2007.  I'm halfway through a big project to stabilize the foundation of my house which will ease my stress.  So as far as the list goes, now starts the push down the home stretch.  The house turns 100 in February.

Dr. K and I think that the remaining 5 major league franchises (AZ, KC, StL, Hou, and TX) can be visited in 2008.  We will put off completion of visiting all of the ballparks until 2009.  That's because the 2 new NY parks will be open then and we can hit those as well as the new parks in DC, Philly in one trip.

I should be able to concentrate better at work which should help that to go better.  Not that it is bad, I just think I can do better.  But I also know that I won't be rewarded for killing myself for the company, so I'll aim for giving them their money's worth and making myself happy with a job well done.

Now on to 2008.  I hope it is good for us all.