A Tale of Two Sequels

When I originally conceived of the “My Year of 40” concept and started thinking about different things I could do each month, one of my first ideas was to learn to code. How very millennial of me! Plus, I work at a software company; code is all around me (as are millennials).

More importantly, coding is right up my alley. It’s a mash-up of foreign languages and logic problems: two things that are super fun.¹

My only real coding experience was when I taught myself HTML back in 1999. I read “HTML For Dummies” and that was all it took. HTML, learned. Three very basic but orderly websites, built.

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Coding = Fun! An example of SQL.

Fast-forward to 2016. I haven’t coded in 14 (!) years, and yet, there’s a part of me that fantasizes about coding for a living. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to solve problems every day, just man vs. machine? And then turn off your computer when you’re done for the day, and not have to bring your work home with you? And not have to worry about the team that you’re trying to grow and develop, and the company-level strategy that you’re trying to guide, and the hopes and expectations of 90+ employees on your shoulders? (But I digress, and also, I exaggerate.) The fact is, I liked my coding of old, and I was ready to tackle a new language.

The engineering team at my company primarily uses a language called Ruby. I would love to learn it, but I’m not sure how I would use it unless I were to actually start working on the engineering team. Instead, I decided on a different language: SQL. (Pronounced “sequel” or “S-Q-L.”)

SQL, as I understood it, was a way to get actionable insights out of data. We have lots of data at my company, and we store it in a database. If I want to query the database, I have to use SQL.

I also chose SQL because we have a company subscription to a learning platform called Udemy, and one of their most popular courses is called “SQL for Newbs.” Perfect! HTML for Dummies, SQL for Newbs– I embrace humility in my quest to learn to code.

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My course and the instructors. Highly recommended.

I started the course with four of my colleagues, and we had been taking our time with it, doing about a half-hour every two weeks.²

I needed to move a bit faster, in large part because I had a deadline for myself. My goal was to learn enough SQL to run my own query and get one actionable insight by the end of July. Specifically, I was hoping to query our candidate and employee data to discover answers such as which candidate sources yield our best-performing employees.

Unfortunately, I didn’t count on one thing: the data I wanted to query was not the data in our database. Not to get too technical on anyone, but I would have had to create my own database and essentially become a database administrator before being able to apply SQL to that data. No, thank you. At that point, we would have bid the fun farewell.

Stymied, I still haven’t run my SQL queries. I will, I promise- but not in time for this month’s post. Instead, I have another sequel to share.

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Despite what my hairdresser said, this was not blond.

Last month’s attempt at “blond” came out more like a honey color. By this past week, with my roots showing, I felt like a fading tiger. Back to the salon for a sequel, and this time, we went for the bleach. I mean, if I’m trying to be blond for my year of 40, let’s do this thing!

Blonder than before. I feel daring.

So now I’m bleach-blond, literally, and I feel funky and not at all myself. Which, in my year of 40, is kind of the goal.

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¹I recognize that some of my readership may disagree with me on this point.

²This leisurely pace is not recommended if you hope to retain anything at all from the lecture.