This guy wouldn’t let the cold stop him

This guy wouldn’t let the cold stop him

Yesterday I didn’t move very much. Right up until about 9pm my Fitbit was only showing about 1200 steps, that’s pretty lazy. Earlier in the day when it was even lower than that I was chatting with my team about how I should go out for a walk but that I was being a wimp about the cold. Trying to assure them that I wasn’t always so lazy, and afraid of the weather, I shared this picture from a few years ago when the cold didn’t stop me and I’d go out running in about anything.

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This morning my teammate Guga shared this, I think he was trying to make me feel better about being such a baby about going out in the cold that he tried to make me look like a badass. Even funnier this was the only first person shooter style game I ever played any amount of, I was terrible at it.

sandy-counter-strike

 

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Writing, Creating, and Personal Perspective

Writing, Creating, and Personal Perspective

This morning while sitting at a coffee shop reading a bit of His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay. I’ve had it on my shelf for a while now and slowly getting through it. Not because I don’t enjoy it, I just haven’t made the time to read lately. This is the second book by the author I have read. I found the first, Alone in the Classroom, on clearance table at a book store and bought it based on a review on the back of the book saying it reminded the reviewer of Annie Proulx. She authored the book The Shipping News which I very much enjoy.

Anyway, this paragraph really hit me for this morning.

If you like different points of view, and Jim did, then you like old magazines. They open doors into other worlds and you slip in so easily. He used the typewriter too. Typing with two fingers THE SKY IS BLUE, he discovered he had made it so, even though it was raining outside and was supposed to rain all day.

Writing is a big part of my job and I’ve been working at improving it, I want to be a better writer. To be able to create new worlds people can feel a part of, or that I could get lost in myself, is a remarkable thing to be able to accomplish. While I believe I can and will improve the technical aspects of my writing, I don’t believe I have the creativity needed to imagine characters and their surroundings out of my own mind. Maybe some of that could come with practise and by reading more, but I’m not convinced I’d ever get there.

For a brief while I thought about writing some short stories loosely based on some past adventures I found myself in as a child and teenager. At least I wouldn’t have to completely make up the people and have a place to start from. Even as I reminisce and type out the facts for myself I can’t describe the details enough to really draw people in or allow them to slip into the story.

Writing probably isn’t the outlet for me. Maybe it is more about creating something in general. Previously I built digital things. Programming web applications, or little tools to make things easier. That was creating something new, but I don’t do it very often anymore. Is that what I’m missing? Maybe there’s a personal side project I can come up with and find time to work on to create something new again. Even better can I find away to incorporate this to my work?

There has been lots written about moving from an individual contributor role to a leadership or management one. When most of my day was spent directly with customers and helping them I was Engineering Happiness and problem solving. Most of the time these were short term problems where were resolved while talking with the customer or shortly afterwards. There was that instant gratification of completing that. While self employed and building things for clients there was something tangible at the end and clear progress along the way. These were usually smaller projects not big complex systems. There were tests I could run and in short time see if changes I made were working. In my current role there isn’t typically that instant gratification anymore. Challenges being worked on are longer and not always as easy to see and measure the results.

Perhaps this, like many things, is all about perspective and I need to find a new one or adjust mine again. Find those gratifications and better see things I can help create in a different way. As an example I’m struggling through now, instead of getting the specifications for a new tool or project and creating it, I need to put the thought into what the specifications are and communicate them in a way that it can be built. There is obviously so much more for me to learn, work on, and grow.

Fourteen Years

Fourteen Years

To my best friend Jen,

There isn’t a day which goes by where I don’t want to spend it with you. For the past fourteen years you’ve stuck with me through many ups and downs. The whole time you’ve been my rock that I lean on, encouraging me to take risks, and holding me up when times get low.

You are one of the smartest, most courageous, hardworking, and kindest people I know.

A tiny list of the things we’ve been through together:

  • 8 moves
  • 9 vehicles
  • 12 of my jobs
  • 4 years of University
  • 4 children
  • Some immense heartache
  • Near death experience
  • Awesome vacations
  • Countless memories

Topping that list however is the endless love and happiness we share. I’m so thankful that we’ve had this time together, getting to know you better and better, and watching our family grow. It makes me extremely proud to tell people you are my wife and I’m looking forward to creating many more memories together for the rest of our lives.

 

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Christmas Eve! All the gift preparations are ready. The house is all decorated. Today involves picking up some last minute supplies, Christmas Eve church services, and prepping some of the mountains of food we’re going to consume over the next few days.

Caile and I are making some pie crusts so they’ll be ready for the pumpkin pies tomorrow night. Jen is making her chestnut treats. Delicious sweet peanut butter balls dipped in melted chocolate to closely resemble chestnuts.

For years I didn’t like peanut butter and wouldn’t eat anything where I could taste it. Much to Jen’s disappointment a few years ago I changed my mind. It started with some cookies that only had a small bit of peanut butter in them and then expanded from there. Now Jen has to share these chestnut treats with me too!

Right before we started I thought I’d set the Christmas atmosphere a bit and put on the fireplace channel on TV. Noah came out with me as I was putting it on and asked what I was going to watch, that he wanted to watch with me. Without saying a word I put it in and watched for a few minutes as the fire started to catch and crackle.

Noah asked if this was all it was. I told him it looked and sounded nice nice while also helping warm the room. I then proceeded to walk up and start warming my hands in front of the fire. Noah looked surprised and confused but came up with me trying it out. He asked does really get warm? How does it? Without missing a beat Jen came in from the other room and started warming her hands as well.

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t until Jen screamed and jumped back a bit saying she got too close to the flames before Noah really 100% knew we were messing with him.

Hour of Code

This morning I was able to spend a bit of time with Noah in his class. They were participating in the Hour of Code. It was really neat seeing all the kids with Chromebooks working away.

Noah and I started out playing with Scratch. He wanted to build a basketball game but we didn’t have that much time and I haven’t spent a lot of time with Scratch so I’m not really familiar. We did make a character dribble a basketball across the screen.

From there we moved onto Code.org where we went through the steps to make a flappy bird game. It had ten steps where it gets you to setup the concepts of the game and change them around to immediately see the effect they have on the game. At the end he received a certificate he could print out.

He grasps the different concepts pretty quickly and seemed to really enjoy things. Im going to have to brush up on Scratch and maybe we can work at building that basketball game he wanted.

Three Years

Three Years

A few days ago I had a mini little celebration by myself. It was my three year anniversary of joining Automattic full time. It’s crazy to me that it’s been that long and at the same time it feels like I’ve been here forever.

This is the longest continuous full time job I’ve ever had. That’s saying something for someone my age who started working before I became a teenager. Unlike other jobs I’ve had I haven’t once looked for another job anywhere else. There is still so much I can learn and so much impact I can have on the company itself. There are challenges, frustrations, and things I struggle with, but nothing that makes me hate the job.

While I believe in the mission and the creed, my favourite part is that Automattic has introduced me to so many colleagues who I now consider friends. These are truly amazing people who I very much look forward to hanging out with and working together in person when able. Traveling to different places is all well and good, but I could never leave a hotel and still have an amazing time.

Though sometimes hard to balance I’m especially lucky because I’m essentially on two teams. There is my smaller direct team Jupiter who I work with. It has grown and then shrunk, and now growing again over this past year. They are patient with me as I grow, hard working, and just fun to interact with. There is also the group of WordPress.com Happiness Leads who I get to work closely with. Such a smart and dedicated bunch. I’m humbled to be able to work and learn from, and with, them.

These are the people I work the closest with, but everyone at Automattic who I’ve been able to interact with is helpful, friendly, and smart.

As long as they don’t get sick of me, I’m looking forward to many more years of working here and being able to publish posts like this.

The Great Swapping Week

This week has been the week of many swaps. It’s felt like I’ve spent a large amount of time moving things from one room to another, it’s not quite over yet but all the main moving is behind me now.

It started with Jen and I getting a new bed. I can’t recall ever having a new bed before so it’s pretty exciting. One downfall though is the bed is from Ikea so I had to put it all together. There is still a new mattress which we ordered that has been delayed a bit so we’re still sleeping on the old mattress but on a new frame.

Us getting the new bed though set off a bit of a chain reaction. Alex who has been sleeping on a twin bed decided she wanted a bigger one. In preparation for our new bed we had to get rid of her old one. The mattress she had was still pretty good but we had other twin mattresses on  top bunks which weren’t so great. When we found someone to take her old bed frame we grabbed one of the top bunk mattresses to go with it. We moved our old frame and box spring into her room but because our new mattress isn’t here yet we put her twin on top which makes for an awkward looking bed 😆 I keep thinking about the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer planned on adding a bunch of levels to his apartment with carpet and pillows.

In summary we had one bed out the door, one mattress moved, our bed and box spring moved, and new bed built and setup.

This next part is going to make us sound like TV addicts but honestly not a lot of TV gets watched in our house. I’m honestly not sure why we have so many TVs. The one main TV that does get watched is in our living room. It is an older TV we bought refurbished quite a few years ago. It still works pretty well but some of the buttons don’t function great and it likely doesn’t have a lot of life left. With that in mind when we saw a decent deal on Black Friday sales we ordered a new one for our living room.

We’ve had a TV mounted on the wall in a room which was previously a play room for Jen’s Day Care. Since that is done we’ve been turning it into a sitting room of sort. The TV in there was small and almost never turned on. We figured we could move the Wii in there for the kids to play but it would be better with the bigger TV. The old one from the living room moved in there and mounted on the wall. The TV we took off the wall from the old play room we swapped with the TV mounted on the wall in Noah’s room. Another TV that never gets watched. It was in there from when the room was Alex’s but they swapped rooms a while back. The TV in his room then moved to her new room.

The TV that was in Alex’s room was actually Caile’s but she let Alex borrow it because she never watched it. She didn’t want it back so she ended up selling it to my In Laws instead. The moving of TV’s from sitting to mounted and vice versa was a kind of pain. Finding where we stored the bases, finding screws to either put the base on or screws to connect the mount to the back of the TV. Thank goodness for my mason jar full of odd screws which saved us in this process.

The last part of all the TV swapping is the room my In Laws wanted the TV for doesn’t have any connectors, so we’re upgrading our cable plan to one that supports wireless TV. That will mean taking some TV’s off the wall to be able to disconnect and hook up the new boxes required, but it’s almost done now too.

This all seems like a lot of work for one new bed and one new TV.

Stupidity and Laziness

Back in August 2014 I had reached a big milestone after a lot of hard work. I was so proud of myself and swore I would never go back. At that time I reached my goal weight of under 180lbs after months of hard work and dedication. Things went up and down from there but for a long time I stayed in pretty decent shape. In March 2016 I ran my longest distance ever, 20km. Since then though I’ve been on a pretty steady decline health wise and really broke the promise to myself. I’m getting pretty close to having put back on all the weight I worked so hard to lose in 2014.

For the past bit I’ve been in a pretty big funk, not myself, unhappy. This is a big part of that, though there are other factors of course. Most of them are beyond my control, but my health is solely mine to control. How could I be so stupid and lazy?

Today I went on the incredibly demoralizing task of organizing my closet. Over the past few months I’ve been slowly buying new clothes that fit because I’ve gotten too fat for the ones I had. My closet was getting overrun with clothes because I still had all the clothes that I should fit in but they were making their way to the back of the closet. So today I moved everything out that I no longer fit in and put them into storage under the bed. Time for things to change, again.

Instead of just keeping up with a pretty healthy eating plan and exercise I reverted back to my old ways and now need to go through all the hard work again. Of course as I get older that will likely be even harder than it was almost four years ago.

Last time I blogged and shared on social media constantly about my progress, how far I ran today etc. I won’t put people through that again, especially because it isn’t nearly as meaningful the second time around, but I’ll work hard anyway. I’ve ordered myself a new Fitbit to help me track progress and keep my honest. Last time that sort of tracking was really motivational, I just won’t publicize it so much.

So I’m getting started, again, and hopefully I’ll finally be smart enough to get off this weight roller coaster I’ve been on permanently.

Automattic Pumpkin

Noah and I have most of the day together. We’re off to play some basketball shortly but this morning he helped me carve my pumpkin.

He choose to paint his own this year, it has the first coat only so far, so not ready to share.

For a while I’ve wanted to try this kind of carving where you more skin the pumpkin, so I choose a fairly simple design. Maybe I’ll try something more detailed next year.