SQLVacation Postcard Day 3: Chicago Suburbs

SQLVacation Postcards

I’ve been to Chicagoland many times over the years. Winters are tough for a Southern boy like me. But summer in Chicagoland is one of the best experiences evah! One such magical experience was when I stumbled into a Taste of Chicago event back when that wasn’t a wide-spread event. Irmagird. During the 1990’s, when I worked for Deloitte, I occasionally traveled to the practice office in downtown Chicago or to the tax practice in Deerfield. In the later 1990’s and early 2000’s (a.k.a. “the aughts”), I frequently traveled to the original offices for PASS on Michigan Avenue. Later on during the aughts through 2012, I often traveled to the Quest Software offices in Naperville. So it’s with these thoughts in mind that we make the #SQLVacation drive from Indianapolis to the Chicago Suburban SQL Server user group in Downers Grove, IL.


I had those glasses. And that computer.

One of the things I have to keep reminding myself about America’s biggest cities is that they are HUGE. You can start driving in one part of Chicagoland at noon, drive a straight line without looping, and still be in greater Chicagoland hours later. And if you don’t time it just right, you can add a couple hours additional time spent in stop-n-go traffic. That’s frustrating enough to send Clark Griswold into an over-the-top tirade of EPIC proportions.

My session will run from from 6:00 – 9:00 PM CST and will address the topic of End-to-End Troubleshooting Checklist for Microsoft SQL Server.  (Click the link to download the slide deck from SlideShare.net).  Oh and you need to REGISTER HERE. Officially, the event is sold out. But we’ll figure something out – and possibly anger the Fire Marshall – if we have a few unregistered attendees show up.

By all accounts, Downers Grove is an amazing place to live and work. Forbes Magazine named Downers to the Top 10 of America’s Friendliest Towns. It’s also rated as on of the country’s most educated cities, one of America’s Top 10 Best Places for a Healthy Retirement list (on account of its many parks and hospitals), and at the other end of the age spectrum, one of the best cities in America for kids. But perhaps most significant of all is that Randy “Macho Man” Savage was a proud alumnus of Downers Grove North High School. OOOH YEAH!!!

Today, I want to give a shout out to the leaders of the Chicago Suburban SQL Server user group – Lowry Kozlowski and Andy Yun.

Lowry Kozlowski

  • When did you begin your professional career? I began my professional IT career while going through a divorce about 17 years ago as a Y2K COBOL programmer. But our DBA left before the project was fully converted. Since I was taking SQL database courses at college at the same time, I stepped in to use Unisys ISQL command line to validate the data and it went from there. We got a SQL Server box that I managed to connect to the DMSII databases, and run Crystal Reports. I was hooked. Prior to that I worked as an optician and in accounting positions. I had wanted to be a photographer, but developed allergy to the chemicals. Hence my dual degrees, Associates in Photography and Bachelors in CS.
  • What’s a normal day at work like for you? What is normal? As a consultant, I could be at a client site doing installs and building new systems, perform assessment of existing infrastructure, in the office reviewing job failures, training junior team members on troubleshooting, or working on troubleshooting tickets for clients. 
  • When did you come to Chicagoland? I have lived in the Chicago land area my whole life, so it is great to be able to support my community. 
  • Navy-Pier-ChicagoWhen and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? I had considered several years ago helping the user group when Wendy Pastrick (now on the PASS Board of Directors) was going to step down. But another volunteer was more ready than I was at the time. I wasn’t sure I could handle the responsibility and time commitment at the point in my life. So when Wendy ask if I would be able to work with Andy Yun to support the group. It is great to be able to help bring training and networking avenues to our group. I love getting to know the people in the group and extended community. It has been a learning experience on how to get speakers, sponsors, and even venues to have our meetings at. I really enjoy working with Andy, as he is very outgoing and we have been able to achieve a very good balance on the meeting and other responsibilities.
  • What is the IT community like there? Chicago is a great IT community, and the Downtown Chicago chapter and Suburban chapter work very closely together, as well as with the Chicago BI group. Our industries vary from consulting, to businesses to education, and a whole variety of things in between. 
  • Chicago-Art-Institute-Museum_Exhibits-at-Chicago-Art-Institute_4303What do you like about Chicagoland? What would you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? I love that there is so much variety of things to do in Chicago area – zoos, museums, street fests, fantastic food. If you get a chance to see it, go to Navy Pier and wander around, take a cruise on the lake front, or a take speedboat ride. The river tours are just great. Walk around Grant Park or Navy pier, Sears tower, John Hancock,I could go on and on. 
  • What do you and your family enjoy doing in Chicagoland? My family loves to go to the museums, shopping, and out to eat. (I have all girls). We enjoy walking or biking on the lakefront. Seasonal things are great too. Art fairs and street fests are just a few of the things we love to do. Since I am a Cubs fan and the girls are Sox fans, we rarely go to the ball park together. 🙂

Andy Yun

  • When did you begin your professional career? Around 2000-2001.  My first job out of college was for a small internet development consulting shop.  There, I was both an app dev and a system admin. And that’s where I was first exposed to SQL Server 2000.  After that, I took a job as a junior SQL Server DBA and the rest is history! 
  • When did you come to Chicagoland? Dude, I was born & raised in the Chicagoland area! (He didn’t actually say “dude” -Kev).
  • When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? I’d already been a member of the Chicagoland SQL Saturday organizing committee for two years and had begun speaking 3-4 months prior.  The opportunity to reboot the Chicago Suburban User Group came up as a surprise to me.  I freaked out for 30 seconds, then decided “Alright, why not!” In the past year, I’ve been thrilled to meet many new #SQLFamily members, in my immediate area.  I’ve enjoyed building a small community of UG regulars, who I look forward to seeing every month! Oh yes, for your “any extras,” guess I’d just like to plug that I’m thrilled & honored to be speaking for 24 Hours of PASS later this month! My session is entitled Every Byte Counts: Why Your Data Type Choices Matter
  • What is the IT community like there? The community here in Chicagoland is massive.  And being Chicagoland, asking what industry is NOT present somewhere here would be easier to answer! 
  • chicago pizzaWhat do you like about Chicagoland? What you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? Food!!! There’s such a diverse food scene here, with numerous ethnic groups represented, to traditional “Chicago-style” offerings (pizza, hotdogs), to cutting-edge chefs pushing the boundaries.  Whenever #SQLFamily come into town, I like to take them out to interesting places to eat. Ask the SQLSkills crew, I take their students out regularly!
  • Where can I find out more about the user group?  Contact myself or Lowry Kozlowski at chisuburbanssug@sqlpass.org or visit us on the web at http://chicagosuburban.sqlpass.org/.

Even if you can’t make it to this meeting, please get active in your local PASS chapter. To find the PASS chapter closest to you, check at the PASS Local Chapters web page. Over over 250 chapters around the world, there’s likely to be one near you.

And don’t forget, the #sqlvacation includes both a contest component and the live events. Check out all of the details at SQLSentry.com/SQLVacation.

And if you want my slides, be sure to check my page on SlideShare!

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