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Springtime Thoughts

   Posted by: jasoncbunn   in General

We recently returned from a family vacation to South Carolina.  It was a week on the beach and, although the weather wasn’t great, it was paradise compared to the snow and cold that is lingering back home in the Midwest.  With four children, flying is an expensive proposition and so we usual embrace as best we can the Great American Road Trip.  It can be a struggle, but it provides a lot of time to think and to plan.  My wife and I were discussing this blog a couple of times.  It started out over two years ago now as a way to “own” my name in cyberspace ( and it hasn’t gained a lot of traction in that time.  In that time, I’ve posted a little bit about my weight loss journey, raising a family in this culture and time, some thoughts on my Catholic faith, and a number of posts about my professional career as a database administrator and now a manager of a data platform team.  It’s been very inconsistent.

So, why embark on this journey again?  I think it’s important to have a place to reflect, to share triumphs and perhaps tragedies along the way, since the lessons we learn are rarely applicable to us alone.  I also think that it is good to realize that we are each a Brand of One with a set of skills, experiences, and perspectives that are unique and identifying what the brand is makes you a better contributor and a better leader.  So with that in mind, I’m going to do my best to put some more content out here.  I’ve also combined my personal site with, which is a reflection of my background as an Aerospace Engineer and my current role in the field of IT databases and data platforms.  If this is successful, many of the posts will be about how we solve challenges in the Information Technology related to the efficient and performant gathering, storing, transforming, and reporting on data.  I’m sure that as some of the spacecraft I have worked on hit project milestones, I’ll be able to share some thoughts.  And the weight loss and health journey continues, with some recent challenges, but I look forward to making more progress there.


Week in Review 11/5/17

   Posted by: jasoncbunn   in General

November already… time keeps marching on.  It’s always a sad day when standard time returns; it gets dark so early.  This year one of the maple trees is hanging onto about half its leaves so it will be cold when the fall cleanup is done.  There’s so much more that can be done outside, but it is not a priority with four kids in school and both parents on their own education journeys, not to mention either full or multiple part time jobs.  Something has to give and often it’s the outside maintenance.  Frustrating for the neighbors (both of whom are retired) I’m sure, but they have to just deal with it.

There are news reports that Pope Francis is exploring the idea of a married priesthood.  I can’t imagine that being a good thing– there are so many burdens already on a priest’s shoulders.  They engage in the full spectrum of life’s journey, from baptism to funerals, highest joys and deepest sorrows, facing mankind’s greatest and worst endeavors, every single day.  So somehow it is a good idea to add the burdens (and joys) of marriage and family life?  I find it hard to believe this will do anything to solve the priest shortage without creating another type of crisis.  But, it’s just another reason I’m glad I’m not in charge.  Pray for the Holy Father.

The weight loss train is inching ahead after a couple month stall.  At least this week has shown some good numbers.  Our detox program with our functional medicine doctor begins tomorrow.  In a colossal act of poor planning, we signed up for a detox that runs through Thanksgiving.  No caffeine, grains, sweets, dairy, or eggs.  I’m scouring the internet for alternative recipes that don’t sound like you need a chemistry degree to sort it out.

As of this afternoon, I’m down to my last courses towards my MBA as I finished up Business Analytics.  The rest of the quarter will include the remaining weeks of the New Business class and the executive capstone.  Full steam ahead towards December 17.


It has been a long road…

   Posted by: jasoncbunn   in General

…Getting from there to here…It’s been a long time…But my time is finally here (opening song, Star Trek Enterprise series).

I’ve heard that hard-core Trek fans hated that song.  I always liked it.  Anyway, it’s been more than 18 months since I’ve posted on this blog.  Somehow, letting it slide into history doesn’t seem right.  I will be restarting.  I have no particular agenda in mind and no thoughts about any particular message to share.  I have my opinions, many of which I’d rather not cement into cyberspace for all of history.  But I think it is good to reflect, recap, and document one’s journey through life.  Just since my last post,

  • In a worldwide surprise, the UK decided to exit the European Union.  Then, the USA, not to be outdone, told the Brits to “hold my beer” and proceeded to elect Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States.  As a Catholic who strives to travel the orthodox road, this presents all kinds of conflicting thoughts.  As a paradoxical conservative with African American roots, even more conflicting thoughts.
  • I’ve lost 60 pounds since the beginning of this year.  It’s a long and difficult journey and I’ve been stalled for a month, but I feel like I’ve at least proven to myself it is possible to lose weight.  This was a comfort when I had a night’s stay in the hospital for some heart observation.
  • Our small business has, well, paused.  We were distributors for Wellness International Network for about 12 years.  For 11.5 of those years, we were more or less retailers, never succeeding in the direct sales recruiting aspect of the business.  Earlier this month the founders abruptly closed the company.  Luckily we were able to sell our inventory.  We will be refocusing on some broader angles in health and wellness.
  • I started an MBA journey through the Jack Welch Management Institute.  I should be finished by the end of 2017.  I will be standing up another site to reflect upon my professional experience at DataRocketScience soon

So I will use this blog to comment and reflect on whatever comes to mind.  I will not be the most eloquent speaker, nor am I looking for an audience.  But I will share success, learn from failure, and if that resonates with someone out there on the interwebs, so much the better.


One week down already

   Posted by: jasoncbunn   in Weight Loss

It’s already January 8th and one week is already in the bag for 2016.  As a Catholic, the next couple of years could prove interesting as we arrive at the 100th anniversary of Fatima and the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  There are some that believe that the 100 years that was given to Satan according to the vision of Pope Leo XIII started with Fatima and thus his time is nearly up.  Undoubtedly society has moved away from its past affiliation with Christian principals at an alarming rate in the last century.  We don’t know the future, so all we can do is pray fervently, raise our kids the best we can, and leave the rest up to the Almighty.

To more mundane matters, it’s been a slower start to the new year than I wanted in regards to the weight loss battle.  Lost 3, gained 2 back.  It’s not a family affair, so it’s tough.  I read recently that you only change when the pain of change is less than the pain of the status quo.  The pain of change is really the pain of loss.  Giving up this dessert or that heavy meal, giving up convenience in favor of cooking a meal.  There is some physical pain from exercise, but I believe 80% or more of the battle is with food.  You can probably strive to just walk a ton and get your 10K to 15K daily steps and be fine for a good long part of the weight loss battle.

So what’s the pain of the status quo?  Not fitting into clothes right.  Not being able to keep up with the kids or to take them on any sort of physically challenging activity.  We live in the great white north and don’t ski.  Partially because I hang on to my east coast right to complain incessantly about the weather in winter, but mostly because I can’t physically do it.  So the kids miss out.  Same thing with something like a roller coaster.  The problem, or challenge, is that most of those pains can be avoided.  We don’t ski.  We rarely go to amusement parks.  Other pains are more hypothetical, like not being here for the family.  Terrifying, but too easily dismissed; you can’t focus on the future all the time.  There’s work to be done.

So victory, or at least progress, comes when the pain of eating in or eating right is less than the pain of being fat.  The immediate vs. the hypothetical/avoided makes it difficult.



A Sunday day of rest

   Posted by: jasoncbunn   in General

I don’t suppose when the Church established the idea of a day of rest, we’re supposed to rest from our healthy living initiatives, but that’s what happened.  Started out well enough, but today was a special mommy and daddy day for DD2.  She had an outing with just the parents and herself, no siblings, as a Christmas gift.  So, lunch out, a movie, and bringing pizza home.  Not exactly a wonderful example of healthy living, but hey, it’s a special day for the girl, and Sunday.  Back on track tomorrow.

Christmas break is now over at the office, so we begin a new year with the dreaded season of performance reviews.  The system isn’t too bad at our office.  I’m pretty protective of my 1 on 1 meetings with my team, which we try to have weekly.  Thus, the annual review shouldn’t be a surprise.  The idea is to summarize what should be obvious during the year, and to set the stage for growth in the next year.  It’s more time consuming than anything else, but a valuable part of the process.


January Goals and Plans

   Posted by: jasoncbunn   in General

So, it’s Saturday evening, the second day of the year.  Yesterday was not a bad start.  Of course, we ended up at a restaurant for breakfast and I didn’t go completely overboard, but it could have been better.  There is so much confusion about the right way to eat.  For some, the 500 calorie “fit fare,” or whatever it is called where you dine out, is the way to go with low fat franken-food.  For others, layer on the fat, but sugar is the enemy.  Add in the vegetarians and fruit-fanatics, and basically, you can conclude eating is hazardous to your health.  I’m still feeling the waters out in that department,  generally gravitating to a higher fat, low sugar and little to no pasta and bread as the way to go.  Of course, I grew up in Central NJ, with Italian food as a way of life, and pasta and breads are a big part of that.  Challenges galore.

So what are the goals for January?  First, I want to make the changes to lose 15 pounds.  It’s a lot, but back to my half-bodyweight comment earlier, it’s a drop in the bucket, maybe 10% of what I need to lose.  The trick will be getting it into my head that I need to approach this as if my life depended on it.  Because the reality is, it does. For the diet, that means getting rid of the soda, 64 or more oz of water each day, passing on the candy, sweets, and other junk, and portion control.  I should fire up myfitnesspal again to track the food each day.  Of course it’s a pain to deal with measuring everything, but it’s less painful than the consequences if I don’t get my act together.

Other goals for this month is to set up a meeting with a mentor for some advice regarding personal continuing education at the office, read nightly with my 8 year old, and get back to 10K steps per day.  I also want to post something here daily and read one management/leadership book.  I’m not sure I will ever have, or even want, an audience, but this is more like a place to collect thoughts and ideas and a place to look back on a phenomenal 2016.


2016 Roadmap

   Posted by: jasoncbunn   in General

A new year, and a new attempt to record the journey. Ideally, this year either the idea takes hold and I am able to give back, and get something, out of this writing exercise or else I hang it up. The idea of capturing plans, successes, failures, musings, etc., still has a lot of appeal for some reason. There is a lot of accountability that comes with putting something “on paper,” even if it is electronic.

So, it is a new year, so let’s start with the objectives for the year. Professionally, I am in the position of leading ont of the most talented set of professionals in the organization. There are eight database administrators and two ETL platform administrators and together we’re essentially responsible for the availability and performance of several hundred TB of data assets across hundreds of servers. The details are not something the organization likes to publish, so I will be a bit vague about that. Suffice to say, we are heavily invested in SQL Server and are in a very strong position in the company. We have the ability to make such an impact on how the end user perceives the company. If the databases are running slow, if the ETL data loads are not running as they should be, there is a direct impact to the business. We had some great wins in 2015 and I’m looking forward to delivering more solutions in 2016.

Being the team lead has put me into an interesting position. I feel comfortable in the role, and do wonder how to best prepare myself for what other opportunities could be on the horizon. I don’t have any thoughts about leaving the organization; I’m pretty happy with the area and the quality of life it provides, but at the same time I hopefully have a good long career still ahead of me and don’t want to stagnate. This year I want to make some changes in that regard.

Personally, the objectives for the year fall into three categories– health, family, and personal growth. In the health category, without going into the details too much, I have a lot of work to do. Suffice to say if I were to lose half my bodyweight, I’d be barely, if at all, underweight. You can do the math. This is a lifelong struggle and I do wonder sometimes how it affected my career and especially my parenting. My kids have a couple of health challenges that are directly attributable to my generally failure in this regard. This must be corrected in 2016.

Family. I have a lovely wife and four wonderful kids, and we are what I’ll call orthodox Roman Catholics. Orthodox in the sense that we follow the teachings of the church, even when difficult. God established the pillar and foundation of truth not in the bible, not in a pastor’s message, and certainly not in my exulted opinion (thank goodness for that!), but in the Church. When I disagree with the church on matters of faith and morals, I do my best to submit to her will and strive to find the fault in my own. When it is not a matter of faith, I still strive to understand and weigh her opinion most strongly. In this regard, we can do better in our daily prayers, in habits of living the faith. We also homeschool two of the three oldest who are school-aged, and I want to get back on track there after a few sicknesses and a very busy December set us back.

When it comes to personal development, I need to read more and surf less. More writing, less TV. When the weather breaks, I want to do more outside and put in a garden, to take some steps in the realm of self-sufficiency. There’s a lot of problems in the world today and sometimes it seems like all it would take is a minor market correction and all we see around us can come crumbling down. I’m not planning to go off-grid and live in the woods somewhere, but being able to live for a few days or weeks without the crutches of modern day infrastructure isn’t a bad idea either.

At a very high level, that’s the lay of the land as I gaze upon this new year. I’ll focus in a bit more on January in my next post.


On Call DBA Checklist

   Posted by: jasoncbunn   in SQL Server

So, you are on call for your DBA team this week.  Perhaps you have 200 servers, perhaps 1000 or more, but you have enough that you have the automation tools in place.  You are not scanning error logs one at a time or opening backup folders to verify that backups ran.  You know nothing went horribly wrong because you were not paged the night before.  As you walk into work, fire up the PC, and sip your morning coffee, what do you look at?

This was the basic question posed to my DBA team this morning.  A quick count of the aggregate emails we receive, or can receive, turned out to be surprisingly high– 36.  Some of these are alerts (TempDB version store is filling up, for example), many were configuration problems (guest account is enabled), some simmering potential problems (I/O taking longer than 15 seconds), and others were minor errors (databases not backed up).  Many were duplicates since there are production and non-production versions.

The challenge was to identify the five key emails that we as a team wanted to ensure were read by the DBA on-call.  Sure, we should look at all of these, but what are critical ones the on-call is standing up and essentially guaranteeing would be examined?  It was a lively discussion, and instructive to force us to pick five since none of them were trivial or we wouldn’t be alerting ourselves.

Eventually, the team decided on these five emails to highlight and take responsibility to ensure they are examined and processed:

  • Daily summary of critical alerts from the last 24 hours
  • Change Data Capture misconfiguation
  • Mirroring misconfiguration
  • Disk Space warnings
  • Databases not backed up in production

The list is good, and forms a basis of accountability for the on-call DBA.  What I found most interesting is the realization that, in essence, all of the emails are important, and all indicate a greater or lesser degree of instability of the enterprise.  The team realizes that what really needs to happen is that all of these alerts are eventually triaged, documented, and resolved.  Then, whenever any email comes into the mailbox, it is actionable and something we can and should fix.  Gradually, take care of the noise so that the signal can bubble up to the surface.


Backup Share and NTFS Permissions, Too

   Posted by: jasoncbunn   in SQL Server

As DBAs, backups are a fundamental part of what we do.  We live in the world of recovery models and full, differential, and transaction log backups.  We know to test our backups regularly by restoring them to another server.  But what else do we have besides database backups?

I never really thought about what happens if we were to lose file permissions.  Think about the backup locations, or script repositories.  What if all of the service accounts suddenly lost access?  We ran into that this week and it was only because the access patterns were stored elsewhere that we were able to recovery without significant issues.

As it turns out, backing up share and NTFS permissions seems to be pretty straightforward.  Based on this MSDN article, we should be able to back up these permissions and have something in place should it ever happen again.  Just another step towards a more resilient database system.


Turning a Page

   Posted by: jasoncbunn   in General

Wow…big milestone today. Turned forty years old. 40 years since the summer of 1975 when I came on the scene in Newark, NJ. It has been a good ride so far. After 17 years growing up on the Jersey Shore, I was able to attend MIT for five years, graduating with a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics.

During that time, I was able to spend a few summers at JPL working on the Cassini spacecraft, which successfully launched in October 1997. By that time, I was in California working for Lockheed Martin, flying satellites for the Air Force. 2000 found me in Maryland working for Johns Hopkins University on several NASA projects, among them New Horizons that just flew by Pluto.

In 2001, the situation changed as I met my wife online. We were in Maryland for three years, and then moved back to her hometown in Wisconsin. That necessitated a change in career as there are not many aerospace opportunities here in the Northwoods. I moved into IT and found myself in the world of SQL Server database administration. Prior to 2006, I hadn’t working on any modern IT system and all of my programming work was in a quite different world of real time programming and embedded processors. But, I dove in and grew into a proficient DBA, advancing to lead a team of DBAs and Informatica Administrators in 2013.

Which brings me to today, almost two years into the management job, turning 40. I’m blessed to be married to a wonderful woman, we’re raising four children in a safe and vibrant community. We are proud to be Catholics and strive to make the faith part of our everyday life. I have a fantastic team of IT professionals working with me to manage nearly 100 TB of production data and an active Informatica ETL environment. Physically, I’ve arrived at 40 with everything working pretty well, although I do have quite a bit of weight to lose.

I’m restarting this blog for a few reason. I am convinced that taking the time to write and reflect is a good way to clarify your thoughts and emotions. It’s good to plan, and to see how far you progress. The occasional good idea is often lost when not put into writing. So we’ll see what happens. I usually conclude I don’t have anything to say, but once I conclude it’s for me, it may become easier to write and if it’s helpful for someone, so be it.

So I’ll be capturing the good ideas we have to advance the state of database administration at the company, sharing the journey to fitness for myself and the family, and probably share what it’s like to live as a conservative, orthodox Catholic in a culture that is increasingly hostile to such an opinion.