Saturday, June 30, 2007

43rd Birthday: One of my best days

Today is my 43rd birthday. It's been a great day-- in fact, I was thinking towards the end of the day that today has been one of the best days of my life-- just a really solid day.

About eight years ago I wrote about an idea I had that religions should celebrate the one really good day that their Supreme Being had (when girls smiled at him and his car started on the first try) a lot more than the day He died in fearful agony ( Well, today was just that kind of good day.

I woke up next to Sònia, who has loved me for a really long time now. I gave her a kiss and then got up and ran my new favorite 10K route ( in a few minutes faster than I've done it before. Granted, it was a good deal slower than I did when I set my sub-40 P.R. when I was 25. But hey, I'm 43 now, so sue me. When I got home, Daniel was up and he and Sònia sang me "Happy Birthday". Then Daniel gave me a dinosaur figure that he painted himself. He liked how he had done that so much that he asked for it back, which was fine. Sònia gave me Neverwinter Nights: Diamond Compilation Pack (DVD-ROM), a video game based on Dungeons and Dragons, which I love, and Jack Black's Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. Rock on.

We had my actual party at Franklin Park. Everyone who came spoke Spanish. Our Argentinean friends Martin and Paula, and our Venezuelan friends Ingrid and Roberto, and two Spanish folks, Rafa and Marga. I chuckled to myself at one point, thinking, "well, I guess I speak Spanish now". This is sort of the culmination of the dream of speaking Spanish that led me to move to Barcelona, Spain back in 1998, which led me to meet Sònia, which led to us getting married and having Daniel.... At the party we just sat and talked and laughed about everything. At one point we talked about ages (Sònia and I were the two oldest at 43 each) and I could remember the important things that had happened at each age-- at 35 I met Sònia... at 37 Daniel was born... at 39 we moved to New Orleans.

We got home and I played with Daniel for a while, then I fell asleep on the carpet of our living room. Ah.... We had dinner in the back yard with our neighbors, David and Olivia, who are great, and ate too much ice cream.

Now I'm going to get in bed and continue reading George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1), which has me totally sucked in. How I love my life....

Monday, June 25, 2007

SQL Server: SSIS error: Cannot create connector...

I've been using SQL 2005 SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) more and more lately. It is a big departure from SQL 2000 DTS (Data Transformation Services), but actually grows on you after a while.

I get the following error pretty often:

Cannot create connector.
The destination component does not have any available inputs for use in creating a path.
If you get this, happy you. This simply means that you have tried to use an OLE DB Source as an OLE DB Destination. The Fix: Simply delete the OLE DB Source and replace it with an OLE DB Destination block, being careful to set all of the connection parameters correctly. Wish they were all this easy.

Friday, June 22, 2007

SQL Server: "All Values" parameters in the WHERE clause

Recently, I put a parameter in a WHERE clause in a stored procedure so my client could select values from a list in SQL Reporting Services:

1100200TPS Reports
2100201Interest rounding exploit
3101200FLARE evaluation
4101201B.E. Channel Referral

select *
from projects
where projectTypeID = @projectTypeID

The client liked it a lot, but then he wanted to add an "All Project Types" option to the list. When the "All Project Types" option was selected, the parameter would be set to -1, and the WHERE clause would essentially go away.

I initially solved this with a temporary table and an IF clause, but found that SQL Reporting Services is squirrely about temporary tables. So I found this sweet little solution:

select * from projects
where @projectTypeID = -1
or projectTypeID = @projectTypeID

Which is really quite smart, isn't it? When the parameter is -1, the first part of the WHERE clause is TRUE, and TRUE OR anything is TRUE. When the WHERE clause evalutuates to TRUE always, then all rows are returned. If @projectTypeID is not -1, for example 100, then the first part of the WHERE clause is FALSE, but FALSE ORed with TRUE is still TRUE. So in our example of @projectTypeID = 100, two rows will be returned.

There is one last wiggle. My client wanted to be able to specify "All Project Types" and "All Project Managers". The same logic works, but you have to write the WHERE clause correctly:

select * from projects
where (@projectTypeID = -1 or projectTypeID = @projectTypeID)
and (@projectManagerID = -1 or projectManagerID = @projectManagerID)

See if you can trick out the logic your self on this.

Special thanks to Ilo at Ilo's Quest for this trick.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

5K Route through South Philly

I had to drop off some DVDs at BlockBuster tonight, so rather than give up our good parking space I decided to run it. As it turns out, the route is almost exactly 5K. I've saved the route to It's basically down South to 10th, 10th through Little Italy to Snyder, Snyder over to 12th, then 12th back to South.

I was surprised at the difference between 10th and 12th street. 10th street between South and Snyder is almost exclusively an old Italian neighborhood with some Hispanic folks and a smattering of students. 10th street was almost entirely African-American once I got north of Washington. Strange how neighborhoods sprout up like that.

It was a warm, humid night, and everyone, regardless of background, was sitting outside taking in the breeze. I'm pretty sure they thought I was crazy to be running. They're most likely right.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

10K Route starting in Center City, Philadelphia

To be honest I haven't been very constant about updating my running log, and with good reason. I've become extremely consistent about running 20 minutes every morning, basically the same route every day. My blog would consist of entries that basically said, "I went running".

But this morning I found such a nice route that I thought I'd write about it. I started out for my basic 20 minute route, but it was such a good day that I decided to stretch out and run for an hour. I should mention that I went to a barbeque yesterday and ate about five times what I meant to (damn chocolate), so I think I was trying to run that off as well.

The route is almost exactly 10 kilometers starting in Center City, Philadelphia. It's dirt simple: starting from Broad and Lombard, run East on Lombard (crossing Juniper, 13th, 12th, etc). Turn right onto Front Street, near the water. Continue down Front until you get to Oregon Avenue, past the IKEA. Turn right on Oregon Ave and run until you get back to Broad. Turn right again and run back to Broad and Lombard. I've put the route up at

This probably isn't the greatest route ever to run at night time, as Oregon Avenue and Broad both have some kind of iffy areas. But during the day you get to see the diverse life of South Philadelphia. You can hum the theme to "Rocky". Good stuff.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Lumberton High School 25th Reunion

I went to my 25th High School reunion this weekend. It was an eye-opening, life-affirming, clarifying experience.

I went into the reunion with a good deal of trepidation. As I've written elsewhere in this blog, I had the impression that I was an "unpopular geek" during High School (see After 25 years, it turns out I was the only person in my High School who thought that. I showed up for the initial event on Friday night after flying in from Philadelphia, and had the embarrassing realization that I had problems recognizing even some of my closest friends. 25 years had changed all of us quite a lot. One of my best friends in school, Walter Mobley, was completely unrecognizable to me until he spoke, whereupon I recognized him immediately.

My next realization was that the changes of 25 years had left most of us a lot better looking than we were in High School. I decided that Brian Fournier had gotten to look exactly like Brian Fournier should have looked all along, for example.

I had interesting conversations with people I had been afraid to talk to in High School. After 25 years, these people had stopped being people for me and had started becoming concepts. I found myself saying to myself, "wow, I'm talking with THE Kristi Ransom", then realizing that Kristi is a person who has continued to live and grow for exactly the same amount of time as I have since graduation.

And I arrived at the conclusion that everyone, and I mean everyone, was so self-conscious in High School that it was impossible for us to have an accurate impression of what was really happening around us. As self-absorbed as I am now, I was MUCH more so in High School. We had all found personae that we hoped would work for us, trying out new stuff occasionally when we found that things didn't work. I believe that's what we've done since then as well. But I think that now that we're all in our forties we all seemed to have dropped a lot of the pretense and had come to accept the reality of our situations better.

I found that some of my most beloved teachers in High School were not so very beloved by many of my classmates. This came as a shock.

The first night I was one of the last to leave, sitting in a circle with Jeannie Landry, Laura Miller, and Mike Kelly, hashing out old times. They were three people I had known since I was nine years old. Good lord, that's 33 years now. Jeannie's husband Alexander was with us, and I was pleased with what a nice guy he was. I had been a little dismayed with how many of us had divorced-- it seemed like all but four of us out of the 50 or so attendees had divorced. Surprisingly, almost all had remarried, and they all seemed to be happy with their current spouses.

I went for a run the next morning with every intention of running to the end of my road and back. I ended up running through the entire town. Lumberton has grown so much in the last 25 years. We had one traffic light when I was here, and the High School I went to was newly constructed in our sophomore year. Now the schools have grown to have more buildings to house many more students. There are lots of restaurants (we had Sonic and the Wagon Wheel), an office building, and many more businesses in general. Just about everyone in the class had remarked on this, and how Lumberton had ceased to be our Lumberton about ten years ago.

I have to say that the kids in Lumberton sure looked and acted a lot like we did when I was a kid.

I hung out with Troy Soileau the second day for much of the day. We drove around and saw the entire town and then drove out to Lake Charles for a while. We caught up on our families of origin and the families we were building ourselves. Troy was one of the people who remained married to his original spouse, Pamela. They seemed to get along really well. As I listened to him talk, I thought about how all of us had fought our own personal battles, and how some of our most harrowing experiences had made us what we were. Every one of the 128 members of our graduating class had lived through the exact same number of days since graduation day, and many of those days were filled with crises, disappointments, and occasionally, triumphs.

The second night more people came and I was reunited with three of the four guys who I considered the Geek Crowd (Charles Johnson, Walter Mobley, Paul Smith, and Markel Kelly-- Markel couldn't make it), who I hung out with my last few years. They all seemed to have grown into their lives and were happy. They also seemed a lot less geeky now, more like three guys who had found their grooves.

I was elected "least changed boy". It was nice-- the question came up about who had changed least and just about everyone said my name.

I had a long conversation with Ginger Jenkins. She had become a journalist. I asked if she had done any other writing, and she discreetly said, yes, I wrote a novel. It made me feel really humble-- if I had written a novel, I'd probably have walked around saying, "nice to see you, I wrote a novel" to everyone. She spoke about what an amazing process it had been, and how she was working on another now. I was proud of her. I wanted to read her novel.

I stayed until the end, sitting around as the staff cleared the tables, talking with the Marianne Blackstock, Joy Carter, Paul Smith, Laura Miller, John Crowe, and Mark Mitchell. I think we were all a little in awe of what we had just done. We talked about doing it again in five years. I hope we do.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

My 25th High School Reunion this Friday

I'm headed back to Lumberton, Texas for my 25th High School reunion this Friday. I'm not quite sure I'm expecting. I was kind of an unpopular geek in High School, though I have some very fond memories-- especially of some of my teachers like Michael Perryman and Glenda Peacock. They were good folks.

I guess everyone grows up, and though I'm still a geek, I'm a lot more comfortable with that fact (of course being a geek these days is not a big deal).

Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing some of my old buds. Funny, my first ever girlfriend, Carol Weil, won't be there. Probably just as well.