Work, family, basketball

Work, family, basketball

Seems like a lot of the posts I end up writing these days are either about work, family, or basketball. That makes a lot of sense because that is basically my life and I’m happy with all of it.

There is a really nice balance with everything right now that hasn’t always been present. I’ve written about this elusive balance a few times over the years and I believe it’s helped me get to this point. Starting back in the summer of 2014 when I really started looking for and going after what I wanted. Then in the fall of that year when I was in the heat of it, essentially working two jobs in an attempt to get there. Then the summer after I started my new job, life and work seemed to occupy the most time still. 

For a while I had running. That was my dedicated time for myself where I was spending hours every week with just my thoughts and the trails, but as I fell out of that habit any free time I had, I filled up with less productive things. I still need to make time for my health and make that a habit again, but I’m so happy with the overall aspects of life right now.

My job is fantastic, family life is busy but full of love and happiness, and I have found a hobby that I enjoy, is fulfilling, and I can share with my family, basketball. It’s funny Jen wrote a bit about it this morning as I was thinking over the ideas for this post. Noah’s love for playing basketball has really gotten us all into it. For me it is back into it, but everyone else truly enjoys it now as well.

For many years I stopped following basketball but as Noah got more and more into it, and I started helping coach the two teams he plays for, we started watching more. We go to live games at the local University watching the Axemen and Axewomen play. We follow the Raptors pretty closely, but even if they aren’t playing most nights I find some game to watch. 

It’s entertainment yes, but working with Noah and his team and helping them develop it is also very fulfilling. I played a lot of basketball when I was growing up, but never in a real team environment. So being involved in a team sport and seeing the importance of everyone working together, even at their young age, really helps me see connections to this and work.

Having a strong team means helping everyone develop their individual skills, but also having them work together as a team to make each other stronger. Each team member has a role to play and it will likely change over time and situations. As a coach or team lead you help the members develop their skills and to find their role in the team.

Noah plays on two teams and his role is different on each team right now. On our club team, seeing this is his second year at the U10 level, he has more experience than others, a strong drive, and can score. In yesterdays game we were a couple people short and needed someone to score. Noah ended up scoring 27 points out of teams 48 for the game to help the win. On his other team, everyone is pretty much at the same level. Lots of people can score and others have more advanced ball handling skills, but Noah with his speed and determination can play darn good man to man defence. So in those games he may not always score as many points but instead prevent the other team from scoring while his teammates get the baskets. 

With my recent role change at work, and the team changes that happened in conjunction with it, I’m still trying to see where my role is with my team. We have a solid group where everyone has areas they are really strong in. We work together and help each other with problems which helps everyone learn and get stronger. Some people are really great with domain names, some with CSS, and some do a great job at staying up to date with new products or changes and help everyone else learn about them. I’m one of the more experienced on the team because I’ve been with the company longer than most. My recent experience leading a team and the skills and knowledge I learned there can be a strength. Maybe my role is that of a player coach, where I’m doing the same work as everyone else and using my experience to help others on the team continue to grow and develop.

For now, I’m really happy with all aspects of my life and seem to have found the balance I was chasing after for a long time. Life has a way of changing things up and causing things to rearrange but like always we’ll roll with those changes keep making things better. 

Four years at Automattic

Four years at Automattic

Today marks four years since I joined Automattic full time. 🎉As I mentioned last year this is the longest time I’ve ever stayed with a company and now we’re just extending that record.

There was a point this year where I briefly thought about looking for a move though. For over two years now I was in the role of Team Lead where I learned a lot, had some good success, but also had some areas I really struggled as well. It is a busy role that has a lot of responsibility and I’m not sure I was ever successful in all aspects of the role at the same time. There was much of the role that I really enjoyed. Working with my direct team and trying to help them grow and get better was by far my favourite. Being surrounded by the others in the lead group was also such a positive thing. They kept me honest, helped push me, but were also always there for support as well.

Automattic has grown a lot and as that happen things change and roles change. For the last while it felt like I was needing to spend more of my time on the aspects of the lead role that were not tasks that I derived energy from and that caused a drain.

Thankfully I didn’t have to look elsewhere. Automattic doesn’t see the lead role as a promotion, it is simply a different role. That means when I went into the role I didn’t get a pay raise and so, while there were many factors I weighed and went back and forth on in my head when looking at my options, salary and pay didn’t have to factor in. It made it much easier to focus on where I wanted and where I could best spend my energy. 

In the end a few months back I talked with my lead and let them know I’d like to start making plans for me to step out of the lead role. It was a relatively painless process for me, though it did accelerate a couple other organizational team changes internally. Now I’m still on Team Jupiter, but it looks a bit different, there were a few folks I had worked with before came back to the team, some people who were on the team went to another team, and there were some new folks added to the mix. Though the people have changed it is still a great team.

My days now are spent once again directly helping customers for the majority of time. Though differently than when I was a lead I can still help others grow and get better at the Happiness Engineer role. When I come across a conversation with a customer that I may have handled differently, or where it seems to have hit an area someone is not as familiar with I can share that feedback directly with the other person involved. In turn I can get the same type feedback and improve myself. 

The past two months have energized me again. Working with customers is something I really enjoy, but I also still have time that I can contribute and work on other projects as well. One of the things I loved most about the lead role is I felt like I could have a big impact in that role. That hasn’t changed with the new role. I still see so much I can do to help myself, our customers, my colleagues, and the company be successful. 

A tale of two sisters

A tale of two sisters

We woke up to find out that schools are closed again today, the third day in a row, due to snow and road conditions.

Noah was up first can came to check if there was school and was excited about the news and delivered the news to two of his sisters. He came back to let us know how they took it describing and acting it out at the same time.

Ella, in a depressed voice asked, really? Then hung her head in disappointment and walked back into her room.

Caile, excited with a smile, gave an approving nod of the head and declared, good I’m going back to bed.

Autumn Walks

Autumn Walks

This time of year is always my favourite, I’ve written about it a few times before. I’m certain it has something to do with where we live. The rural area with lots of agriculture makes it a bustling time of year.

The colours all around are what do it for me though. I’ve been trying to get out an enjoy them before they’re gone, because they never last long enough. Today Noah and I went for a walk through the Kentville Ravine. It was really windy and cold out, but down in the ravine surrounded by trees, it wasn’t bad at all.

Here are some pictures I took along the way.

Women: Persons under the law

Last week my middle daughter was given a project for school. She was given a year, 1929, and was told to research a court decision which was passed that year in Canada. History was far from my favourite subject and therefore not one I’m strong in, so when she first told me about it I didn’t know what decision they meant and had to look it up.

The decision in question was the Persons Case. It was 89 years ago today, October 18, 1929, that the Privy Council of England reversed a previous Supreme Court decision and officially said that Women are Persons under the law. I realize this isn’t news, but let that sink in a bit. Less than a life time ago Women were not considered persons, and a Supreme Court ruling upheld that before being overturned. 

Here is a Heritage Minute on Emily Murphy one of the women who fought for years to have this take place.

It’s hard for me to even fathom a time where that seemed acceptable. All the strong women in my life all they have and will accomplish, and they would have been considered less than a person. Yet here we are, while the law may say they are persons, can vote, own property and hold any political position, there are still so many instances and examples that prove things are still not equal.

While things have come far in the last 89 years it’s still far to slow. Women like Emily Murphy are still fighting everyday to overcome barriers put in front of them, standards which are set higher for them then male counterparts, even things as basic as equal pay. Although I like to consider myself above this mistreatment I still have far to go. If I’m honest I still leave my wife more than her share of the household or family responsibilities, things which would be seen as traditional women’s work. That is unfair, complacent, and lazy on my part. I need to do better in this and many ways.

While my daughter was going over her presentation with me that she prepared for this project I couldn’t help but think, thank goodness she isn’t growing up in that time. Then immediately my thoughts shifted to how, although she won’t have those exact struggles, she and ever other woman will still have struggles to overcome that I didn’t have to think about or even know existed.

At times the conversations around this topic are difficult and uncomfortable, but that is minor. There is still so much more I need to educate myself on and change, I encourage everyone to do the same. 

More articles and information about the Persons Case

Ed Sheeran Concert

Ed Sheeran Concert

This weekend trip has been in the plans for almost a year. Last Christmas when we found out about the concert and decided we would use it as one of our big memory presents for the kids. It was a long wait, it cost a fair bit of money, and we were all excited to get there.

The night didn’t start off the best. As it was something we were looking forward to for so long I wanted it to be perfect. When things started going wrong in my mind I may have overreacted just a bit and let things get to me. Tweeting out things like:

I might have been further ahead if I had of went to the bank, withdrawn ten, one hundred dollar bills, and then lit them on fire. Likely better spent then this train wreck I’m experiencing right now at this concert.

It started by us being a bit late, not too late, but we missed almost all of opener Anne Marie. We did hear some as we were walking to our seats. That took a while. For any of you who haven’t been to a football stadium like the Gillette Stadium, let me just tell you they are big and high, and our seats were as high as they possibly could be. Literally, the very top row and right at the corner of the stage so we could barely see anything. Only about a handful of seats in the whole stadium that would be worse than ours. They were so high and steep that once we got up there a couple kids were pretty much terrified, so we had to abandon our seats and head down. Thankfully Jen found a decent spot for us to stand and watch from. I’m obviously getting old as I would have much preferred to have a place to sit for at least some of the concert and by the end Noah was wishing for a place to rest for a bit too. But we even though we were still high up and far away, we had a good view of the stage and the screen.

You can see the arrows in the picture below that show where our original seats were, and where we ended up watching from.

You can see what our view was like from where we watched and then an arrow showing where we were from the perspective of the stage.

Luckily my mood started to change after the music started. Snow Patrol put on a good opening show even though I didn’t really expect that I’d like them very much, but my face and body language likely didn’t show my mood changing.

Ed Sheeran is a fantastic performer. The fact that he can come out on stage in front of all those people with just his guitar, a mic, and loop pedals. He’d record little bits and then loop them back over the song. He interacted with the crowd really well for having such a huge group. He seems to have a few set of comedy bits that he throws in though, but they work really well.

In one bit he talked about how there are two types of people that don’t really get into his show. One is the boyfriend who is just tagging along with his girlfriend and the second group is the super dads. He said all the super dads are doing the same thing, standing there with their arms folded saying his music isn’t really my thing, but I’m here for my family. This seemed to nail me pretty good as even some of the people standing around us started pointing at me and patting me on the back. It felt like I got called out by Ed Sheeran in front of thousands. That’s when I really clued in that I needed to snap myself out of the mood I was in and enjoy the experience.

If you want to hear the full bit, here is a video someone took at a different concert, but it’s basically the same thing.

If you listen to the video as he talks about super dads he talks about them talking about complaining about traffic getting there, the cost of beer being too high and asking if they can leave before the encore to avoid traffic leaving. I did complain about the cost of water and beer, and we did leave before the encore, but that wasn’t my idea. I didn’t mind the traffic.

All in all the concert was a fun experience and the kids really enjoyed themselves and we have some good memories and stories to keep with us. Well worth the time, money, and a little bit of frustration.

Here are a couple pictures from Instagram from the concert itself as well.

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New England night #2 ! 📸 @zakarywalters

A post shared by Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos) on

Big Milestone Memory: House Construction

Big Milestone Memory: House Construction

This morning I had a fun memory show up in my Facebook reminders. Time goes by so quickly it doesn’t seem like it was six years ago that this was taking place.

This was a pretty huge milestone in our lives. When I was young and into my teenage years I’m not sure I would have believed you if you told me some day I’d be able to have our own house built.

More office art changes

Over the past few years, I’ve been enjoying and adding new art to my office walls. If you’ve been around my blog for a while you’ve likely seen a few posts about it. There is the Automattic Creed, a frame of Automattic logos, Happiness patches, my Son of Krypton print, and most recently my big old map of New Orleans.

When I added the big map it meant I had to take down my WordPress wall as that was really the only wall in my office which would fit it. This caused me to rethink the other walls. The map sits on the wall directly behind me when I’m sitting at my desk, on the wall right behind my desk I’ve had a print of a photo I’d taken of the look off area of the Annapolis Valley where I live for the longest time. I’ve not been happy with it for a while though as the color in the print never really turned out right. It’s also a spliced together panorama from three individual pictures and I didn’t notice until after three copies were printed, framed, and two given out as gifts, that in the splicing there was a little bush in the foreground that was duplicated.

With that picture in the middle, there were a couple of small plaques with pictures of Apple Blossoms I had received years ago from being a Sponsor of our local Apple Blossom Festival on one side, and my diploma from University on the other. During the reorganization, I tossed the plaques, but I’m certainly keeping the diploma up on a different wall though, it’s the most expensive piece of paper I own.

Here’s what the wall above my desk looks like now.

It has my three previous frames from my WordPress wall up in the middle with two smaller items on either side. The far one is a print I picked up at the French Market in New Orleans. The artist is Tesfaye Nequsse and I really liked his work. It sat on my desk for a while but with the adjustment, I bought a frame for it and put it up.

The print closest I’ve had for a while. It was a gift from my mother to Noah, but it has ended up in my office for a while now. It is a print of a painting by Liz Lemon Swindle. It was in a different frame but it didn’t really match the other black frames on the wall so I bought a matching frame to the print above. I should have measured first though as it didn’t fit the new frame. Luckily my sister came to my rescue and made me a new mat for the frame and now it looks great.

I’m pretty pleased with how it all turned out in the end even though it meant a bit of work moving it all around. I’m running out of wall space now though so I might have to start choosing what stays and what goes as I add more in the future.

Here’s a gallery showing most of the items on my wall now including some better images of the prints themselves.

New Office Art

New Office Art

This is something I came across a few years ago and have thought about it off and on ever since. After coming back from our big trip I began thinking about it again and finally decided to get to it. It’s a big old map printed in a rough home made frame.

As it had been a while since I thought about it I couldn’t find the old bookmark I had made, but found the tutorial online again pretty easily to follow along with. There were a couple adjustments, but followed this pretty close. It really was pretty straight forward to do and I’m so happy with the results. The map came from the site the tutorial suggested, Big Map Blog, and I found a birds eye view of New Orleans from 1885. We spent a week in New Orleans during the trip and it holds a special place in my heart, so it seemed like a perfect fit.

One of the adjustments I made from the tutorial is where I had the image printed. It cost a bit more than what they described but Acadia University has a print shop who has printed some large format images for me in the past and done a good job so I had them print this too. It came out really nice and was only $40 for a 3′ x 2′ colored print.

The other adjustment I made was the wood and finish I added to it. From Home Depot I picked up a couple knotty pine 1″ x 4″ x 8′ boards and cut them to size. The tutorial called for pickets and the only ones I could find when I looked close were pressure treated and seemed heavier than the pine boards. I wanted it to be as light as it could be. For the finish I used a technique my sister let me know about called the baby wipe method. It’s really easy. You put any color toll paint you want to use on a baby wipe and essentially use it to paint the wood. It’s really quick to do, and it dries quick as well. I tested on a piece of the left over wood with a couple of colors but settled on black as it better matched the picture and the other frames in my office.

It’s hardly a complex project, but I’m really happy with how it turned out!