Joe Celko, Class of '65

I still look the same 

I went to Baker for two years, then Dad was transferred to Fort McPherson in Atlanta. The folks wanted to retire in Atlanta, since that is where they met, married and started their family.

I graduated from Sylvan Hills High School in Atlanta in 1965. I also won first place in the Atlanta Science Fair for original work in Symbolic Logic. The paper is referenced in the addendum of Martin Gardner's LOGIC MACHINES AND DIAGRAMS second edition, University of Chicago Press, 1982.

I got a National Science Fair prize of a summer job at the Pittman- Dunn Research labs in Philadelphia. I think that my being an Army brat had a lot to do with it, but I enjoyed going into my job as a French fry washer at McDonald's and telling the boss that I had gotten another job as a Research Scientist (GS-1), even if it paid less.

I had an assortment of jobs -- lot of grant funded things, defense contracts, crime, drugs, health, etc.

I went to Georgia Tech one year as a day student, then put myself thru night schools. I got a B.S. in Mathematics from Georgia State University in 1972 after attending longer than most of my professors taught. The MS in Mathematics from Georgia State University came in 1979 (Thesis: "An Algebra of Program Control Structures"). In a burst of insanity, I also started another degree program at the same time. I would have gotten my MS in Information and Computer Science from Georgia Tech, but my work terminated in 1982 due to end of the evening program -- the Dean of the school was caught stealing payroll funds for a pet project of his. My thesis published as "Time Token Design Methodology", a refereed paper in the Wiley Interscience Journal SOFTWARE: PRACTICE & EXPERIENCE. You can read it on the web: (

May 1973 thru Sep 1974, I was a Statistician for the Research section of the Department of Offender Rehabilitation (state prison system) and at the same time, I was part owner in three bookstores that made most of their money from adult materials. I have some stories about the "Porno Wars" of the mid-1970's that I will not go into here. Let's just say that being a pornographer was interesting work if you did not get blown up, shut down or shot.

Dec 1974 thru Sep 1975 I went to Indianapolis to work as the Systems Coordinator of a DEA grant project to catalog all existing drug and alcohol abuse programs in the state under the Indiana Department of Mental Health.

When I got back to Atlanta, I had assorted jobs. I did a State Crime Laboratory database system and a PSRO (Physicians Standards Review Organization) for the Georgia Medical Care Foundation. Bob Brown was working the Georgia Medical Association at the time and the politics were interesting.

From about 1980 to 1984, I was at Georgia Tech or some branch of Tech. I had Assorted positions with ATDC companies (Advanced Technology Development Center). ATDC is an umbrella organization which provides space and services for the start up of high technology companies on the Georgia Tech campus. I was a GS-12 for the US Computer Systems Command software research group, AIRMICS (Army Institute for Research in Management Information & Computer Sciences). I was Research Scientist in the Computer Science and Technology lab of the Georgia Tech Engineering Experiment Station.

In 1984, I moved out to Los Angeles for 11 years, when the boom was on and shared a house with two roommates from Atlanta who had set up business there a few years earlier. I taught college at a small school, Northrop University, and did contract computer work. The contract money was great the first eight years! Our slogan was "Another day, another K", and we were talking about net pay. Two housemates and I rented a mansion on 4.5 acres on a sea cliff in Palos Verdes Estates. Life was good. I was the "safe date" for a topless bar around the corner from the school, had enough time and money to fly my godchildren to Disneyland and did not worry about much of anything.

Then the California economy collapsed. We moved downtown. Gail switched out of computer work to the law and began specializing in bankruptcy. Since Southern California had over half of all bankruptcies (corporate and individual) in the US for about five years at that point, this was a good choice. In that same period Real Estate values dropped an average of 27-30% in one year and stayed down. The 6.8 earthquake swiped out 5% of the housing (and part of my garage) and thanks to rent control it will never be rebuilt. The unemployment rate stayed at 9-10%, with all of it concentrated in computers, aerospace, real estate and banking. Did I mention walking around for a week with a shotgun during the riots? There were five fires within two block of my house -- and we were not in a bad neighborhood. I went from being rich to living below the poverty level.

In 1995, I moved back to Atlanta, got married to the woman I had been living with on and off for 20 years. We bought the house form hell and try to adopt two "troubled teenagers" -- that is the phrase they use in the adoption trade. My wife got her heart broken and I got my ribs broken. More on that later.

I got a job offer from Trilogy, a software company, and we moved to Austin. Oh well, the money was good untilt he High Tech bubble burst. The war stories will be funny in a few years and I have been poor before. You can look up Trilogy at for some of the details. Someone my age should not have gotten caught in this, but ...

I did find one other job 2001 Dec in Austin for a small software company here named Data Junction. It lasted six months and I was a terrible employee for them. They were bought out by Pervasive Software after I left and seem to have disappeared.

Jackie became a student in residence at the Austin Zen Center first to reduce stress and then to become a more serious student. She has been at the Tassajara Zen Monastary in Calfornia since 2002 and ran their kitchen for almost a year. She spent 13 years working on a cancer ward at Crawford-Long Hospital working 8 to 12 hour shifts only to come home to death threats and police officers with the "troubled teenagers"; the stress was pretty bad.

Takoga, the Native American girl we adopted had a bastard kid before we left Atlanta for Austin. The last time we saw her was at a therapist's office; the violence in my house was such that I was afraid one or both of us would be the victim of serious physical harm. We had moved her out to a Residence's Inn to protect ourselves. Our offer was to pay for an apartment on a bus line to Gables Academy (special private school that works with learning problems), give her $1000 per month living expenses, plus her adoption check and when she finished High School, to help get her into a vocational rehab school in Georgia that has a full campus (I cannot remember the name of the place). The response was to thrown a trash can at us and not hear a word we said. We left. Her last words to her therapist were "They always come back." -- but we didn't. We left all of the stuff we had brought for her in the waiting room of the Pediatrics Center, went home, packed all her stuff into a mini- warehouse which we paid for in advance for a year, sent the keys and paperwork to her, and then we left town.

Moving to Austin was another horror story because of trying to sell the house, Jackers having a tumor removed. Jackie was stuck in Atlanta for months instead of weeks.

Amanda, the one we did not legally adopt, when back to her bio-mom, found out the woman is a shit (drugs, alcohol, assorted boyfriends, she even got back together with Amanda's child molester bio-father when he got out of prison) and has gone back to live with her bio- grandparents in Missouri. She started a local junior college in mid- January of 2002.

When I was at Georgia Tech, I started writing in the trade press and have had several regular columns. I also joined the ANSI X3H2 Database Standards committee and became an expert on SQL. I used to do a little of everything, but now I am "Johnny One-Note" thanks to the SQL exposure.

I have over 750 publication credits in the computer trade press now. Right now, I am a regular Columnist in INTELLIGENT ENTERPRISE (CMP) and DB/M (Array Publications, The Netherlands). I have six books on SQL out -- INSTANT SQL from Wrox Press (, SQL FOR SMARTIES (, DATA & DATABASES, SQL PUZZLES ANSWERS, TREES & HIERARCHIES IN SQL and SQL PRGRAMMING STYLE, all from Morgan- Kaufmann. SQL FOR SMARTIES is the best seller; it is in a second edition with a third edition due out in 2005 and has been translated into half a dozen languages.

I bummed around Austin for months then got a job offer with a for- profit university start-up in Salt Lake City. The first classes started the summer of 2003 (, formerly Northface Universtiy). For-profit education is a very profitable industry, but it needs start-up time and capital. The founders found a VC firm that bought 51% of the school and then changed the direction we had been planning on. The original cirriculum was for an Executive MBA to be delivered on the Internet and in week-long intensive camps. The unique features were: (1) direct access to "name brand" faculty and (2) team learning and leadership skills via project-oriented learning.

A venture capital firm acquired controlling interest in late 2003. The MBA program was shelved and we began a rushed undergraduate cirriculum. The goal of the new program was to produce IT developers with a BS degreee, MS and IBM certifications in 28 months of 40 hour weeks. The project team approach was retained. After the first cohort of students finished their quarterly exams in April, all but two of the teaching faculty were fired. I was retained as a consultant for a three month contract scheduled to end in 2004 July.

I was going a little nuts from a lack of moral decay I enjoy in a state that is a Mormon Theocracy and much too cold. The state liquor stores have signs that proclaim CLOSED (really), the strip joints have inbreed drug addicts, incest and polygamy are still referred to as "Pioneer rights" on the billboards, and the belief system is enforced by law and brutal social pressure. And I hate snow. I never sold the house in Austin, so I moved back here.

The kids have gotten back in touch with me. Amanda moved to Austin before I left for Salt Lake City. Takoga stayed with me for several months in Salt Lake City and then moved back to Georgia when I left. I also had two other housemates, one a friend from Austin, who came to SLC to got to the Massage Therapy College here; apparently it is one of the best in the world. April got her diploma, and needs to take her national exams in Jan 2005.

Amanda is living with a pretty nice guy in Austin but things are tight for them. Takoga has serious medical problems and gave up Quinton to his bio-father's family. She still has contact with her child several times a year. Takoga got pregnant again by a new guy and did not get an abortion. Her health continues to decline with diabetic complications.

The books are doing pretty well for Geek books. That means they stay in print for over a year and sell well enough for new editions. But nobody wants the movie rights. Here is the list:

Analytics and OLAP in SQL (out in late 2006) Data and Databases SQL for Smarties (3rd Edition) SQL Programming Style SQL Puzzles and Answers (2nd edition out in late 2006) Trees and Hierarchies in SQL

I still do not have a regular job, but I always find something. I just got back from two weeks in Brazil. I was there to teach SQL to ChemTech, a chemical engineering software company that was just purchased by Siemens.

The trip was "adventure" from the start. I went to Brazil about ten years ago for a Y2K conference in 1997, back when the year 2000 was going to destroy the Universe. Life and bureaucracy were easier when the world was about to end.

I found out that my visa was wrong at the gate the first time I tried to leave the US. This was in Houston at 21:10 Hrs on a Saturday, when the Brazilian Consulate was closed. I used some of my Marriott Rewards points to stay in walking distance of the Brazilian Consulate (a taxi from Bush International to downtown Houston is $43.00) so I could get forms on Monday.

So I went back to Austin then came back to Houston the following week to get to the Brazilian Consulate. This cost me a two day stay and 20,000 Marriott Reward points at the Galleria Marriott around the corner from their offices.

I got to Rio on a Sunday morning. I began teaching on Monday. That was also the day that it started to rain for the whole week. I never got to the beach. There were two girls from the US who had started working for ChemTech a few weeks earlier and were staying at my hotel. Jasmine is a Chemical Engineer from University of Texas and Kristen was in marketing, also from Texas. They knew the subway (Metro). They were getting company *Brazilian* Portuguese lessons (there are serious differences in Brazilian and Portugal dialects -- starting with the pronunciation of the alphabet). They were very kind to grandpa.

I then flew from Rio to Sao Paulo to Bela Horizonte (this city is a little over twice the size of Austin). Domestic airlines routinely run an hour late, but the food and tourist stuff at the airport is pretty good.

I got the dogs back from the Vet, did laundry, filtered out the mail into "junk" and "read later", started to crash on Monday (June 05). I did something on Tuesday, but I cannot remember what. I mowed the lawn, worked on the closet and some other minor home repairs on Wednesday (June 07).

I have two book manuscripts to edit, a quick email consulting job and an interview via phone next week. And my keyboard broke on the home machine where the manuscripts are. The usual stuff of life!

The next trip will probably be to teach Texas-42 (a domino game only played in Texas) in exchange for a free cruise on Royal Carribean. I have done this before and it is fun.

June, 2006

Joe's e-mail address: jcelko212 at earthlink dot net    Link to Joe's Web page     
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