On Monday, Tom LaRock (b/@sqlrockstar) presented his #MemeMonday topic as What #SQLFamily Means To Me. The #sqlfamily hash tag is a relatively new one, but is amazingly appropriate.
I've been working with relational databases for almost 20 years, and for most of that time I've been the lone DBA. The only one to set things up, explain how things work, fix the problems, make it go faster, etc., etc., yadda, yadda, yadda. I enjoy being 'the guy', but at the same time it gets hard. What if I'm wrong? Is everything I've told people now taken with suspicion? Sometimes that's happened, and it sucks.
Since I started attending the PASS Summit I've gotten to know a lot more people who do the same thing I do. That's been wonderful, as I have people I can contact if I'm unsure of something. When I was awarded the MVP Award in July, 2007 I became a part of a smaller community, and really got to know many of the people whose work was instrumental in my development.
I met Tom at the PASS Summit in 2008, when I was moderating a panel discussion on automating databases. While the discussion was taking place, in front of a full audience, he and Brent Ozar (b/@BrentO) were typing into their laptops furiously, using this thing called Twitter. I was taken aback, and a bit put off. I've always known that when you're 'on stage', the audience comes first, and these guys were, in my mind, distracted and distracting. What I didn't realize until later was that they were communicating with the audience directly.
Twitter has changed the way we interact with each other. We still work mostly alone, but we have hundreds, even thousands, of people following whatever we choose to share. I can honestly say that I've actually become closer to the SQL community because of it. And yes, Tom, it's become a second family to me. We share our successes and our failures, we ask questions, we answer questions.
Not just SQL stuff, though. On my recent trip to the PASS Summit I drove first to Chicago (from Cleveland, where I live) and caught the train to Portland, my first stop on that amazing trip. I love taking the train, but it arrives in Cleveland, in both directions, at about 3am, and there's no public transportation here at that time. It's actually quicker to drive to Chicago than to take the train. The problem was always 'where do I leave my car'. I asked Wendy Pastrick (b|@wendy_dance) and she was kind enough to provide me driveway space for the 2 weeks I was out west. The return train was 5 hours late getting into Chicago, and Wendy went so far as to drive downtown to pick me up! That's family.
At the end of the week of the PASS Summit, I stayed in Washington to run the Poulsbo Marathon. Kalen Delaney (b/@sqlqueen) lives in Poulsbo and invited me to spend the weekend with her family. She took pictures of me running during the race and crossing the finish line. It was a wonderful weekend, and I truly felt part of her family.
Are there people in that family I don't get along with? Certainly. We all have family members who we don't care for, but they're still family, and this SQL family is no different. But I'll bend over backwards to help out any of them because I know they'll do the same for me, and that's what family is about.
(I won't go into details about Tech Ed 2010 in New Orleans, guys. You were there, you know.)
So, what does #SQLFamily mean to me? A lot. I've got this wonderful, world-wide group of people who all understand what I'm talking about when I talk tech, and who care about me, as I care about them.
What more could we ask for?