Yesterday I was discussing life-direction-changing-events with Kimberly and our great friend Libby and I thought it would be interesting to find out from people how their lives brought them to where they are today.
There are three very clear events/decisions in my life that brought me to where I am today.
Event #1 is the single most important one, as it shaped the way I developed my intellectual interests forever. On my tenth birthday in 1982, my wonderful Dad gave me an electronics kit and an electronics book. The book was Simple Electronics, a British Ladybird series book from 1979, aimed at helping kids build little electronics projects. Now that in itself wasn’t wonderful, but Dad actually made me the kit from scratch over a few weeks in his shed (think ‘shop’ if you’re in the US), including a cool box to keep the book, my wooden circuit boards (with screws to hold the components in place), and all the components, sorted in little bags and boxes with labels on. I think this is the best present I’ve ever been given – thanks Dad!
Pictures of the book and the box are below:
Sadly the book isn’t the original one he gave me, but I bought one on Ebay a couple of years ago for posterity. The box, of course, is the original one that I still treasure. This kit changed my life completely – I became totally absorbed in electronics (see my recent blog posts here and here for the start of the revival), leading on to 8-bit computers, and my engineering degree in computer science and electronics from the University of Edinburgh. This birthday present put me on the course to being an engineer. But I almost didn’t go to college. That happened because of event #2.
Event #2 was what stopped me joining the Royal Navy as a Weapons Electronics Officer. With my Dad having been in the Royal Navy as an engineer (he used to teach nuclear reactor theory and control electronics at the Navy’s engineering school – H.M.S. Sultan – smart guy – the person I look up to most in the world), our family life was entwined with the Navy and its way of life. I loved it and planned to follow my Dad’s footsteps. I was in the Navy Cadets at school and did all kinds of summer courses with the Navy. Then when I was 17, I spent a week on H.M.S. Glasgow, a Type-42 Destroyer that saw serious action in the 1982 Falklands War, sailing from Edinburgh, around the top of Scotland through the Pentland Firth and The Minch, down to Glasgow on the opposite coast.
Here’s a picture of H.M.S. Glasgow (click for a bigger image):
This *is* the original one, but sadly *isn’t* mine. Lot’s of scope for rampant megalomania with one of these to play with :-)
It was a fantastic experience but I discovered that I get badly seasick (and that lots of the equipment was pretty old and battle-hardened (i.e. ‘simple’)) so that put paid to my plans to join the Navy. Off to college…
Event #3 happened quite a bit later, and was my decision to accept a job offer from Microsoft, move to the US from Scotland and start being a SQL geek instead of a VMS file-system geek. The story behind that is explained in the first few Q&As in an email interview I did last year with Tom LaRock (twitter|blog). Without that decision, I’d never have been into SQL Server, started presenting, met Kimberly, etc etc and you wouldn’t be reading this blog post.
So, those are my three life-changing events. What do you think are yours? It’s not what got you to be a DBA, it what got you to where you are in your life.