Here is my list of heroes for #TSQL2sday. None of them are directly tied to technology, much less SQL Server. However, all of them have made a deep impact on my life. I am where I am today because of these nine.
1. James Tiberius Kirk
I start my list with a fictional character because he was my first hero. As a three and four year-old I watched Star Trek re-runs every day. I followed the exploits of the USS Enterprise and saw Kirk and crew take on challenge after challenge. Kirk was the one who started me on a love of all things technical.
2. Penny Lake
My family moved to Japan when I was in 4th grade. My 4th grade teacher was Ms. Penny Lake and she saw me and my mom through some hard times. One of the things she did was have me tested, which pushed me into 5th grade halfway through the year. Before the testing, though, she was already handing me the 5th grade math textbook and sending me off to the 9th grade Spanish I class. Her efforts weren’t just limited to me. In her class we learned how to cook, how to run a successful business (lemonade and hot chocolate stand at the school), and a whole host of important life skills that don’t fall under the three R’s.
3. Wesley Felix/Nathaniel Drake
I had these men back-to-back. They were my band directors for 8th grade and 9th grade. I learned most of my lessons on professionalism from these two men. They knew their craft. They cared about their students. They knew the impact the band had on the school’s reception in the community. Between “Felix” and “Drake” you knew the standard was high, they’d get you there, and you’d love the result.
4. Dr. Clyde Smith
He’s my honorary father. Home life situations meant Dr. Smith became more than a physics instructor to me. He became the guy I went to for advice. He was the one who I was most afraid of disappointing. Likewise, he was the man whose praise I cherished the most. His faith for Jesus Christ, especially in the realm of science, was one that I eventually followed in my own life path. Now he’s the honorary grandfather to my children, who adore him as much as I do. How can you not love a grandfather who first teaches you how to walk on glass and then sits down and explains the physics concepts behind what you just did?
5. Judit Polgar
Like Kirk, I’ve never met Ms. Polgar. However, unlike Kirk, she’s real, much to the chagrin of many a chessplayer. Judit has the highest chess rating ever for a female. That’s what gets talked about. I don’t think she ever really cared. She just looked at herself as a chess player and she was awesome (she has retired from the professional ranks), making it to the top ten in the world and slaying world champions like Kasparov, Karpov, and Anand. Her style is aggressive and tactical. Play too passively and she will march her army out and suffocate you in your closed in lines. She is a throwback to Fischer, to Tal, to Morphy. And she is the one I most tried to pattern my chessgame around. When she stepped back a bit from competitive chess to get married and then start a family, she gave me a most needed wake-up call. I had been pursuing my career at the expense of my family. Seeing Judit step back started those deep questions in me.
6. Major Herbert L. Day, USMC, Retired
Major Day was the Director of Bands at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, when I reported there as a freshmen. Only he wasn’t on campus as the band was in Scotland at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. A US college band at the premier military tattoo in the world? Yes, sir, and that tells you the level of excellence expected of Major Day. Between Major Day and Sandy Jones (in charge of the Pipe Band and former Pipe Major for the USAF), we had out butts reguarly kicked militarily and musically. Major Day got the most out of us. He knew when to be stern and when to be sympathetic. He rode us hard. He had phrases like, “It’s not a promise, it’s a prophecy,” and “Play it right or I’ll rip your lips off!” I miss Major Day every day.
7. Dr. David Allen/Dr. Tony Redd
Dr. Allen and Dr. Redd where two of my English professors at The Citadel. Both encouraged me to write, write, write. Whether it was poetry or prose, they wanted to see what I had penned and they were quick to offer suggestions for improvement, to tell me what I had done well, and to point me at others to draw inspiration from. I owe a lot to these men.