Saturday, June 28, 2014

Estate -- Autunno

On a lazy Saturday afternoon in June, I've been remoting into an office on the other side of town to do a bit of Access work for a long-time client and listening to my rotating Pandora stations. One of the songs of my youth started me thinking about the next part of my life. Right now, Stevie Nix is asking if I can handle the changes in my life.

Well, I've been afraid of changing
Cause I've built my life around you.
But time makes you bolder,
Children get older,
And I'm getting older too

The truth is that I'm pretty close to retiring. Age-wise, I'm shy a year or two of being the "right" age, but emotionally and physically, I'm a lot closer to it. I still have a few clients--for whom I'm really grateful, by the way--and a full time job that's pretty interesting. But they are exerting less and less of a pull on me every day. To be honest, I never thought I'd get to the point where doing things with Access would become routine and not so challenging and exciting, but there it is. Access is an old friend who makes it easy and comfortable to work together, but the spark of discovery and exploration are slipping away.

So, feeling and thinking that way, something happened today that hasn't happened to me for many long months. I broke down and cried while listening to one of those songs that made me think about the woman I've loved for nearly 40 years. (Oscar D'Leon still has that power over me, commanding memories of the good times not forgotten.) Yolanda and I divorced years ago, but that can't change our past together. Moreover, it can't change my future. I know that now, and I've accepted it. It turns out I fell in love once and for all, and that is that. It's long past time to move on, but moving on is not possible.

Moreover, my wonderful daughter graduated from Seattle University on Father's Day. Along with the rest of her diverse family (including all four of her "mothers"), I got to watch her walk across the stage, shake the Dean's hand, and carry her (still empty) diploma cover proudly down the steps from the university stage into her own future. What an emotional day for all of us. It was mostly pride, lots of pride. Anticipation and excitement. Some anxiety, some relief. 

We gathered at her mother's house for a post-graduation party. Her adoptive mother, Yolanda, and Stacey, her birth mother, were both there, along with Bertha, who was like a second mother to her growing up, and Marcie, her future mother in law. All four women comfortably under one roof and all as pleased and happy and proud as they could be. It takes a powerful personality to make that happen, but Lyndsey made it seem effortless. I've rarely experienced a day like that. What fun.

But that day also marked the completion of that phase of our lives. She's now an employed professional woman with an M.A.Ed in school counselling, working in her chosen field with Diplomas and Certificates to hang on the walls of her new home. And me? This part of my job as a Dad is largely done. Not totally of course, but the remaining milestones are fewer and marked by more of an equal status between us. One big event is left, of course, walking her down the isle. I've mixed emotions about that one. I look forward to it and dread it in almost equal measure. What will I do with myself when my baby leaves and cleaves to her new family? We'll see.

So, my future with Access.... No, it will never be over as long as I can see well enough to clatter away at the keyboard.  And as long as someone is willing to pay me to keep their Access tools up-to-date, I'll find a way to make a living at it. Still, I'm getting older, too.

Right now, Summer's still warm and wonderful, but Autumn.... Autumn is just around the corner.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Look out for Lookups--Part II

A lot has happened in the 11 months since I last posted here. Here's the top 3 events, I guess.

Our new book, Professional Access 2013 Programming, was written and published. The book contains two divisions, one on the Access web app functionality introduced in Access 2013/SharePoint 2013/Office 365, and the other providing advanced techniques for Access client databases. I worked with Ben Clothier on the web app component.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Look Out for Look Ups

For a long time now, I've argued that Lookup Fields in tables are One Bad Idea. I've even  Blogged about it.

Recently it occurred to me that maybe it's not enough to TELL people Lookups are almost always bad. There's  a world famous page that offers eight significant problems with Lookups. My complaints are actually focused on the fallout from Number 6 on that list. Lookup fields in tables simply make it far too easy for inexperienced users to screw up royally.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ambiguity Is For Poets, Politicians and Comedians

Access developers already know this, of course, but sometimes we run into situations where we need to be reminded just how important it is.

The human mind thrives on ambiguity. Poetry is the art of making one multi-faceted word speak with many voices. Politicians couldn't survive in office more than a few minutes without the deft word play that conceals as much as it reveals about their true intentions. Comedians depend on the double-entendre to make their audiences roar at the absurd contradictions in their patter.

Yes, without ambiguity, much of human interaction would be drab, colorless and boring.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What Does a PCV Do Anyway?

My daddy taught me a lot about living a good life. I wish I'd been smart enough to pay better attention when I was 18, but I survived long enough to be able look back and pick out the important stuff through the prism of my own experience. For example, he taught me not to try to fix a PCV without the right tools, the right parts, and the right kind of training. Let me tell you about that.

My father and brothers ran a fuel distribution business in the late '70s and early '80s. That included what was still called a "service station".