Can you hear me now?

I don't know where the time went, but the past couple months sure blew past... All the best laid plans and a' that (with apologies to Bobbie Burns). I intended to blog my experiences here in the SQL Ranger program during the five week program; I meant to blog our family drive up through the desert southwest, the Sierras and the rainy northwest on the family Community Server. None of those plans survived contact with the reality of it all...

I even meant to record some video for faux Verizon commercials while we were driving through the Grand Canyon, Death Valley and Sequoia National Forest (hint: you can't get a signal from anywhere inside those places). Maybe next time. Maybe we'll be able to do that in Jellystone on the way home.

Just a "brief" word on the SQL Ranger program before I go back to packing the van for the week-long drive home to Houston... The Ranger program absolutely ROCKS! A huge thank you to all the folks that make the program possible, especially Corinna, Mark, Per, Cindy, Greg, Tim and Ward. We gave you a lot of grief (most of it constructive, I hope!), and you did a fantastic job!! Keep up the good work, and don't fix what ain't broke. At its best, this program is what all technical education should be like. Hands-on work with expert instruction. Like Per said on the first day, "We borrowed the slogan from the Army Rangers, 'Give us your best, and we'll make them better.'"

My only regret is that I missed the first annual Microsoft BI conference along the way, but Steve Jones did a great job covering it. It was my pleasure to meet him while he was here for the conference. You're a cool guy, Steve, no matter what Red Gate's competition says about you... Heh.

SQL Ranger Rotation 3 is over. I'm done. I can take a deep breath now. Wow. Oxygen. I have to self-censor a lot of the context, for obvious reasons, but I definitely got my brain stretched by the SQL product teams and I got to compete with some of the best SQL Server talent from the six inhabited continents (we even let an Aussie in!). It was a lot like Mortal Kombat for nerds... smile_nerd I learned as much from the other candidates as I did from the instructors. These partner and MCS consultants and Premier field engineers are my kind of geeks! I'd trust any of them with my customers, no questions asked. I think the way that the class came together as a unit surprised everyone, including management. I now have 18 other names on my speed dial list of SQL Server experts in every corner of the world that I can call whenever I get in trouble, and that's worth at least a million bucks.

As tired and emotionally exhausted as I am, I can't wait to come back for the first OLAP rotation! Yeehaw!!

If you love SQL Server, you'd love it here. So sign up for the next rotation! Nothin' but SQL Server from the developers and PMs all day long for weeks and weeks. Just getting to meet Dave Campbell in person was worth it. Spending quality time with Paul, Sunil, Ward, Greg, the several Dons, Grant and everybody else too numerous to name was indescribable... It'll be tough to decide which of them I want to work for when I'm ready to come in from the field. Heh. Maybe not. There's still too much trouble to get into out in the wild... (But my family definitely acclimated to Redmond in the Spring time. My daughter is begging me to take a job aboard the mothership and my wife's not sure that she's ready to go back to Houston summers. The boys are happy wherever there are trees to climb and animals to hunt.)

It'll be a few weeks before I get the results of the qualification labs and the review board to learn whether I'm cool enough for the title of MCA:Database yet or not. Cross your fingers for me! fingerscrossed Either way, it was a fun (stressful) ride and well worth the blood, sweat and tears.

Now where did I put those pictures that I promised to put up for my kids' grandparents...

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