pleia2's blog https://princessleia.com/journal Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph's public journal about open source, DevOps, beer, travel, pink gadgets and her life in the city where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars. Sat, 16 Jun 2018 20:14:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 OpenStack Summit and OpenDevConf https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/06/openstack-summit-and-opendevconf/ https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/06/openstack-summit-and-opendevconf/#respond Sat, 16 Jun 2018 20:14:54 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=14031 Back in May I traveled to Vancouver for the second time in my life. The first was in 2015 when I was there for an OpenStack Summit, and the summit brought me back this time, as I was on the program committee and giving a keynote at OpenDevCon, co-located with the summit. It’s probably my favorite venue in the world, hugging the harbor to provide spectacular views and the opportunity for nice walks along the waterfront during breaks.

The last time I was at an OpenStack Summit was in Barcelona 18 months prior, during my last week with HPE. As a high end to much of my OpenStack work, I spent that week prepping for and then delivering one of the keynotes where I demonstrated live addition of OpenStack-powered clouds to to the production Nodepool in the OpenStack project CI system. At the time, the key messaging was OpenStack as an “integration engine” that empowers organizations to embrace a wide breadth of proven technologies, from storage to compute-focused virtualization to software-defined networking. I think in these 18 months we’ve started taking those features for granted as the virtualized server side of the market becomes more commoditized and what really resonates with companies today is a desire to avoid vendor lock-in. With this change of pace, the OpenStack Summit this time around had strong messaging around “Open Infrastructure” so you’re not bound to a single cloud provider. Key to the product strategy in the container space, it’s messaging that I’m familiar with and generally resonates with my own goals in the free software movement.

As far as the OpenStack Summit itself goes, for the first time I wasn’t there to collaborate with my peers on OpenStack, so it was a very different experience than past years. As an industry observer this time, I could enjoy the keynote explorations into edge computing and the improvements in hardware involvement in virtualization, from CPUs to networks. There was the general collaboration between would-be competitors throughout the keynotes was what I’d come to expect from this amazing community (with the notable exception of Canonical…). In addition to their general “open infrastructure” messaging, there also has started to be a shift in the role of the foundation, with support of additional projects that, while complementary, aren’t strictly tied to OpenStack itself. This was highlighted with announcements around the independent projects Kata Containers and Zuul CI. Amusingly, containers and CI systems are both things that are now solidly in my wheelhouse, so it appears my own career trajectory is currently mirroring what we’re seeing there. The OpenDev conference I was there for solidly showed their commitment to CI/CD systems, but massive container tracks at the event make me now see the value in Mesosphere being a stronger part of the conversation at future summits.

OpenDev was great. I wrote about my keynote and the event in broad swaths over on the company blog in Open CI/CD Systems Gaining Traction. My keynote was about doing CI/CD for microservices in containers, where the bulk of the 14 minute talk was a demo where I showed deploying Jenkins, Github and a brand new Git repository for a website, with tests, on DC/OS in 12 minutes. It was a nerve-wracking adventure up there on the stage, but it succeeded! If you’re curious, the demo is fully open source so you can even try it yourself: video, slides and demo.

I also enjoyed finally meeting Benjamin Mako Hill (who I overlapped with a bit in Ubuntu work very early on) and seeing him speak on a topic he has written about, Free Software Needs Free Tools (video). He walked through the lessons Linux learned from their trouble with the proprietary BitKeeper software and stressed the importance of using free tools for the development of free software. It was an incredibly popular talk and message for this crowd, as much of the work we’re all doing is focused on an open source ecosystem for software development. A talk from Fatih Degirmenci and Daniel Farrell on Continuous Delivery Across Communities was also fascinating (video). Collaborating at OpenCI.io there are multiple open source projects that now do some degree of hooking their CI systems together to test specific changes against each other, it was fun to sit down with them on day two of the conference to see what the next steps are for making software development better across open source by using forward-thinking strategies that cross the boundaries between communities.

The conference had several talks spanning the open source CI/CD ecosystem today, from Spinnaker to Zuul to a Kubernetes-driven implementation of CI/CD tooling. What was most valuable to me though were the collaboration sessions, which get several practitioners in a room together, many of whom had never met, to talk through common problems and start coming up with solutions and action items. I can catch up with the talks online post-event, but it was energizing to be in a room with others who share my interest in these topics and to tackle popular operations and culture topics outside of the general DevOps umbrella, where I’m more accustom to seeing these discussions happen.

I was really happy with how this event turned out, and it was a pleasure to be invited on the program committee for it. The OpenStack Foundation succeeded in pulling of a flawless event that pulled in a lot of the right people far beyond the crowd who’d normally come to anything OpenStack related. It was really nice to see that several people had come in just for this event itself, and that made it so important voices some of us hadn’t heard before were able to add an amount of diversity to the conversations. Plus, there were cupcakes.

More photos from the OpenStack Summit and OpenDev here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157691445454010

On Thursday OpenDev was behind me, and I spent the afternoon in a few final sessions at the summit itself and catching up with people before taking the train to the airport. But the morning was reserved for something a lot more fun than a conference, I had booked a seaplane tour! When I visited Vancouver last time I watched longingly as the seaplanes took off and landed all week, but I decided to go to amazing Vancouver Aquarium instead on my free day. I wouldn’t miss the seaplanes this time! So I Thursday morning I dragged (ok, it didn’t take much convincing) my friend Steve along with me down to the port, which was conveniently right next to the conference venue.

We did the “Extended Panorama” (Adventure Tour) from Harbour Air, where our charming and amusing pilot took us up for about 45 minutes through the nearby mountains for much of it. The tour kicked off with a reminder from the pilot that seaplanes don’t have brakes (the water does that) and limited steering ability. Hah! Once airborne, we flew around the harbor and then into the snow-capped mountains. The tour offered gorgeous glimpses of mountain lakes and other large waterways and concluded by flying over the city of Vancouver before splashing back down into the harbor. At $200/person it’s not something I could do regularly, but I probably wouldn’t say turn down the opportunity to do it again when I’m in Vancouver again at the end of August for the Open Source Summit.

Lots more photos from the seaplane ride and some of the yummy food I enjoyed on my trip here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157697222323075

]]>
https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/06/openstack-summit-and-opendevconf/feed/ 0
A cat and containers in Philadelphia https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/a-cat-and-containers-in-philadelphia/ https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/a-cat-and-containers-in-philadelphia/#respond Sun, 27 May 2018 19:49:07 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=14012 I spent the week before the OpenStack Summit/OpenDev in Vancouver over in Philadelphia. The point of this visit was to care for my sister-in-law’s cat for the week while they were out of the country. MJ flew out first and picked up our niece, Olive the cat, and I joined him on Saturday morning. Sadly, he flew out on Sunday evening, but at least I had kitty company for the week at the townhouse!

Olive is a sweetheart. I’d only met her once before, when we were over for Thanksgiving last year, but she was full of love and snuggles almost immediately. It made for a good week, as I spent most of it in hermit mode. I had dinner with a friend one night but otherwise the only outing I really did was down to the city to present at a Docker Meetup.

During this hermit time, I spent much of my time sorting through some of the final boxes of stuff we have inherited from deceased relatives. MJ and I are going back for a three-day weekend in June to do some pre-shipping organizing, but my job this trip was to go through about 20 boxes of framed artwork to take photos of them so we could review them here in California and decide what we should bring out here, and what we want to keep back east. It took the whole week since opening big, long-sealed picture boxes was tiring work.

In preparation for the Docker Meetup I doubled-down on completing a CI/CD demo I wrote. I gave a talk with the CD portion of it at SCALE this year, but in the interest of time didn’t make adding the CI portion a priority until recently. Thankfully I was able to complete CI segment before I flew out to Philadelphia and so on Monday and Tuesday I just had to fine tune my presentation before hopping on SEPTA to present.

The Meetup went really well, even with only about a dozen attendees. The small crowd allowed a more casual Q&A section at the end of the presentation which I always enjoy. Plus, I was quite grateful for the opportunity to give the demo for the first time in front of a small crowd, so I’d be more confident when I gave it in in front of 300 people the following week at OpenDev in Vancouver. Thanks to organizer John Mahoney and the hosts at Industrious for such a great space.

Now, you may notice that the sky is a lovely blue in that photo of the SEPTA train earlier in this post. It was clear on the afternoon I went down to the city, which was great for going down and then walking to the event venue from the train station. It was, however, an anomaly for the week. Most of the week was filled with rain. It rained every day I was there, and most days were quite gloomy even when it wasn’t raining. It was probably for the best though, on that afternoon when it didn’t rain the temperature soared to nearly 90F and the humidity was intense. The cooler weather that the rain allowed for made it so on the gloomy days I could turn off the air-conditioning and open the windows in the townhouse to get some fresh air.

Gloomy weather was good for writing though. I wrote a couple quick articles related to conferences I’m participating in, the first was for the USENIX blog as we published the LISA18 Wishlist: Talks and tutorials we’d like to see. My week was filled with work in preparation for LISA18, including chasing down presenters who hadn’t submitted yet, hosting an “office hours” for folks to get help with their ideas, and doing a couple calls with potential presenters. I also wrote Mastering CI/CD at OpenDev about the OpenDev conference I was heading off to.

I wouldn’t say this was a relaxing visit by any stretch. I worked longer hours than I probably should have at my actual day job due to collaboration with west coast colleagues, but it was a nice break from the house stuff I’ve been doing here out west. My trip concluded on Sunday as I headed down to the airport to spend several days in Vancouver!

]]>
https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/a-cat-and-containers-in-philadelphia/feed/ 0
KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU 2018 https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/kubecon-cloudnativecon-eu-2018/ https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/kubecon-cloudnativecon-eu-2018/#respond Sat, 26 May 2018 20:09:53 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=13978 For the past year and a half I’ve been working in the space of container technologies. My career trajectory in retrospect seems obvious, going from working on Debian and Ubuntu, to my first pure open source job in OpenStack, and now working on DC/OS. I realize now that I keep moving up in the stack as each layer becomes more of a commodity. Kubernetes was fairly new when I started my role at Mesosphere, but in the past year and a half it, and the community surrounding it, has grown tremendously. In September, we even launched an offering of Kubernetes as another scheduler in DC/OS.

But what’s even more fun for me is how many people have accompanied me on this journey. At this event I ran into several people who I’ve worked with in open source spaces for years. Sometimes it’s people I see at a lot of conferences, other times it was people I worked directly with. In the selfie image collage below, I got pictures with Jorge and Daniel who I worked on Ubuntu with when they were at Canonical, and Andreas who has spent over a decade at SUSE and worked with me on the OpenStack Infrastructure team. We’re all now working at companies or in roles that are related to containers.

This is how I ended up in Copenhagen a few weeks ago for KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2018. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation doesn’t just host Kubernetes, they have many projects under their umbrella, so there was also a strong showing from projects like Prometheus and I saw talks on Fluentd and Linkerd. Plus, for the first time in a while, I wasn’t speaking during the conference. That allowed me to focus on going to sessions and spending time at the booth to help with some of the more technical questions.

I had a couple focuses during the conference, the first of which was CI/CD. My last role was working on the CI infrastructure for OpenStack, so it’s been high on my list of interests for several years now. It’s been interesting to see how it’s grown in these five years, so much so that the Executive Director of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in his opening event keynote made a call for better test coverage on the codebase, and touched upon testing as a key component to a successful containerization deployment. I wrote about it more thoroughly, including links to various open source projects in this space that I saw presentations on, over on the Mesosphere blog: A Growing CI/CD Ecosystem Showcased at KubeCon

My other focus was more on the systems administration toolkit side, as I attended talks about Prometheus. I like metrics and monitoring, but now that I’m out of operations in my day to day work it’s not something I’m heavily involved with. I’d like to change that, so I was eager to see what things people were doing with metrics and monitoring in Prometheus. First, during one of the keynotes I learned that they had rewritten a lot in the 2.0 release to make everything faster, so it could scale better, there is a blog post from the Prometheus team detailing that here. Second, people are doing cool things with the metrics being collected by it, I wrote about it in Exploring Prometheus at KubeCon: Not Just Metrics. Essentially it’s starting to be used as part of the highly-available, self-healing microservices infrastructures supported by containers. As someone who has spent a fair number of late nights fixing production systems during her career, it’s exciting to see the tooling coalesce like this to improve the lives of people managing these complex systems. Even better, many companies are also leading the way in efforts to open source some of this tooling so others in the ecosystem can benefit from it.

Stepping back and looking at the event as a whole, I was struck by the hype cycle that Kubernetes is going through and how eerily similar it is to what I experienced in OpenStack. The event is growing fast, there are a lot of proof of concepts out there and some key players using it in production and being showcased. Major tech companies are right there to support the CNCF and events around the conference itself. Even the conference party held at Tivoli Gardens was a pretty amazing occurrence, and not something I’d typically expect from an open source conference to throw for all participants. My boss wrote about this some in KubeCon 2018: Looking Back and Forward where he echoed many of my own feelings around lessons that the Linux and OpenStack communities have learned. It’s definitely an exciting time to be part of the container ecosystem, something echoed in my experience with the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver last week.

The last thing I wanted to note came from our new friends at Microsoft. After decades of tearing down open source software, they’ve changed their tune in recent years. Throughout the company from leadership to engineering the change to embrace of open source is very real, and I now know several solid open source people who work there. That didn’t quite prepare me for the Microsoft keynote though. The presenter got on stage, plugged in his laptop, and we saw the distinctive aardvark wallpaper from Ubuntu 17.10. In a sea of presentations on Macs, it was the keynote speaker from Microsoft who went on stage to present a demo on Ubuntu Linux. I was so thrilled.

More photos from the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157690739135510

]]>
https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/kubecon-cloudnativecon-eu-2018/feed/ 0
The first streetcar and Weezer in San Francisco https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/the-first-streetcar-and-weezer-in-san-francisco/ https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/the-first-streetcar-and-weezer-in-san-francisco/#respond Sat, 26 May 2018 17:30:15 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=13976 I spent six days in San Francisco between my trip to Copenhagen and flying out to Philadelphia before heading off to a conference in Vancouver. I wasted no time, in what ended up being an incredibly fun and busy week.

It started the day after I got home, with tickets to Boat from “Beach to Beach” May 6. I met up with my friend Mark for this at Cameron Beach Yard, which I’d never been to.

We were there a bit early, so that gave us time to look around the old streetcars they have stashed away in the barn, which was a highlight of this adventure, even if some of them are in pretty rough shape.

Unfortunately the “boat” in the ticket title was not to be. They had planned on taking us out in the Blackpool “boat” tram, which I took in 2015 on another excursion. Alas, due to a mechanical issue with it, it was swapped out for the 1. It wasn’t too disappointing though, the day was a bit chilly and the 1 is a fine streetcar as well.

The excursion was scheduled in order to celebrate 100th anniversary year of the Twin Peaks Tunnel. Sadly, the historic streetcars can’t go through the tunnel due to changes in the electric wiring that only supports the modern metro cars. Instead, the two hour ride took us down the M-Ocean View line, then over to the L-Taraval (Zoo train!). It stopped at the end of the L line for pictures, before returning to Cameron Beach Yard. We had a lovely time. It had been a few months since we caught up so it was nice to spend the time catching up on work, life, and the latest things to have broken in our respective houses.

I also learned that it’s one of their last excursions for a while, so I’m glad we were able to get tickets to it. The next fun weekend for the organization that I’m looking forward to is coming up in September, Muni Heritage Weekend on September 8-9th.

More photos from the streetcar excursion here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157696524357325

I saw MJ off to the airport on Tuesday night that week so he could start a week and a half of caring for his sister’s cat at our place in Philadelphia. That Thursday I went into the old Mesosphere office for the last time (we’re moving to a bigger place!) and then met up with my friend Stephen to go to the Red Hat wrap-up part where Weezer was playing. We last caught up last summer when he and his fiance came to stay with us during Fosscon in Philadelphia. Since then we’ve both bought houses and had plenty to chat about.

Conference parties aren’t really my thing, but going with a friend helps, and seeing Weezer was quite the draw and we had a really nice time.

And with that, my six days in the bay area came to a close!

]]>
https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/the-first-streetcar-and-weezer-in-san-francisco/feed/ 0
Tourist in Copenhagen, again! https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/tourist-in-copenhagen-again/ https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/tourist-in-copenhagen-again/#respond Wed, 16 May 2018 03:28:47 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=13974 Back in 2012 I went to Copenhagen for the first time. The last Ubuntu Developer Summit was held there, and I took some time after the conference to explore the city with my friend and fellow Xubuntu contributor Pasi Lallinaho, I wrote about our tourist adventures here. Six years later I’m a bit more experienced travel-wise and had a very different job and crew to hang out with as KubeCon descended upon the same hotel and convention center I was at for that UDS. It was interesting coming back to that hotel, feeling the memories rush back in from the great time I had with all my Ubuntu friends. But this post is about tourist stuff!

I arrived with a stomach bug. The flight over wasn’t particularly good and the first few days I was there I was plagued with not being able to eat, exhaustion, and being paler than normal. I wouldn’t let it keep me from exploring though, after sleeping for twelve hours upon arrival on Sunday afternoon, I was ready for some Monday adventures. Coincidentally, my friend Danita was also in Copenhagen for a completely unrelated reason, so we were able to meet up that morning.

Our first adventure was a boat tour! In what I believe was a 90 minute tour we were whisked through Nyhavn (the waterfront area with all the colorful buildings), past the opera house, got to see the water side of the little mermaid and more.

From there we hopped in a taxi and made our way to the Copenhagen Zoo. I believe 2012 predates my visiting of international zoos, so I didn’t even think about going the last time I visited. I enjoyed going this time, what was most notable was their strong breeding program – they had so many baby animals! The baby rhino stole my heart, he was adorable. Thankfully we wound up our zoo visit just before the sky opened up to a major downpour, though we did exit the gift shop in time to be welcomed by it. We took a bus back into town and stopped at a 7-11 where I picked up a muffin. I ate about a quarter of it before my stomach protested.

The next couple of days were taken up with conference stuff, which thankfully gave my stomach time to calm down. Then conference party on Thursday evening was held at Tivoli Gardens. According to Wikipedia, it’s the “second-oldest operating amusement park in the world.” I knew about the park due to the Disney connection, Walt Disney reportedly visited and based some of his own Disneyland on what he saw at Tivoli. One of my colleagues is quite the Disney fan, so she was full of facts about it. I was perhaps a bit too excited to ride on Den Flyvende Kuffert ride through 32 Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales. It was super cute. I had a wonderful time on Daemonen roller coaster, which is the first upside down coaster I’ve been on in years. I’ve been getting sick on them since I was about 27, so I stopped going on any coasters that went upside down, but at Danita’s recommendation I did this one – with the Virtual Reality headset. The headset was a cartoon-ish VR experience, but it totally succeeded in preventing me from getting sick, even given the state of my recovering stomach. I think my favorite ride of the park was the Rutschebanen. I later learned from a friend that, built in 1914, it’s one of the oldest running wooden roller coasters in the world. Of note, there’s an operator on the ride, as Wikipedia explains “An operator controls the ride by braking down the hills so it won’t gain too much speed.” Best job ever, or best job ever? Wooden roller coasters are my favorite, so I’m really glad I got to ride on this one, and that I enjoyed it so thoroughly.

I called it quits on the rides after Daemonen and became the bag holder for my colleagues for the best of the beautiful evening. That’s when I spend some time taking pictures of flowers and some night shots. I also went with a candy-loving colleague to one of the candy shops. That’s where I spent something like $8 for a giant lollipop.

It was the best $8 I’ve ever spent. I had a lot of personal stress surrounding this trip to Copenhagen. When I unwrapped that ridiculous lollipop in that beautiful, fun park in Europe on an evening I was spending getting to know some of my colleagues, it faded away from view. I was happy, and totally unashamed to spend a few minutes trying to get a silly lollipop selfie.

Friday night several of us went out for a couple beers, and then headed over to Restaurant Cofoco for their 6-course tasting menu. It was exceptional, and not as expensive as I’m accustom to paying for such a meal, especially when the generous wine pairing was added. I probably drank a bit too much for the night before a morning flight the next day, but it was worth it, and I behaved quite responsibly as I went back to the hotel afterwards instead of joining several of my colleagues for drinks afterwards.

I still haven’t seen the inside of the big palace in the center of the city, and I’m sure there are other things I should see, but it ended up extracting a lot of fun out of this trip.

More zoo and tourist photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157668665933258

]]>
https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/tourist-in-copenhagen-again/feed/ 0
DevPulseCon 2018 https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/devpulsecon-2018/ https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/devpulsecon-2018/#respond Tue, 15 May 2018 15:01:27 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=13960 A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to participate in DevPulseCon, a conference from women in software engineering in Mountain View. I attended my first DevPulseCon last year and really enjoyed the talks, and the panels in the afternoon that were kept private only to attendees. The freedom to be open and honest during panels on topics that impact women in technical roles was incredibly valuable. Plus, it’s held at the Computer History Museum!

This year the conference began with a talk by Sarah Cortes who took us on a little tour of the DarkNet to demonstrate how early detection of data being traded and sold there can give you an early warning as to when your data has been leaked. Notably, she talked about the Home Depot settlement which included as part of their security improvements, a requirement for the company to monitor DarkNet sources for their data. This is some pretty forward-thinking strategy from the court, I’m really impressed that such recommendations have started coming down. She also introduced us to some of the tooling that exists for password cracking and service intrusion, advising that software engineers need to be familiar with these tools so they can write systems that are not vulnerable to them. Intruders come in where ever they can, even something as simple as a point of sale system can be an attack vector.

Gloria W. joined the event again this year to give us the latest state of the Internet of Things world. She described some of the landscape and major players in the space, and did a demo with a Raspberry Pi and Matrix Voice.

Meng Chow of VMware took the stage next to give a talk that was very complementary to the one I was giving after lunch, hers was titled “4 Vital Steps to Open Source Success” and she walked through the four steps companies and other organizations need to take to succeed in open source:

  1. Understand licensing
  2. Use open source responsibly
  3. Collaborate with the open source community
  4. Ensure open source compliance

I was very glad she covered licensing, I had a licensing slide in my own talk, but she covered all the important bits so I was able to focus on the more on the human parts of getting involved with open source, which I did after lunch in my “Open Source: Tools, Techniques, Best Practices” talk (PDF slides here).

My talk was a pretty basic introduction to contributing, and I strove to demystify some of the things that are obvious to us open source veterans. Don’t be intimidated by the Mailman 2 UI, IRC is not that scary, bug trackers vary but have the same basic information, conflation of Git with GitHub. I also talked a bit about etiquette, writing good bug reports and how to determine which “identity” to use when signing up for accounts using an email address (work or personal?). I enjoyed writing and giving this talk a lot, I hope I find an opportunity to use it again soon.

The big draw for the day was a Q&A with Donald Knuth, conducted by the founder of CodeChix, Rupa Dachere. I think my favorite advice that he had to give from this Q&A was to have fun and learn to never be bored. It’s something I’ve always taken to heart, I have so many projects to do and books to read, boredom hasn’t been a part of my life for a very long time.

The afternoon was mostly panels, covering topics like career paths and salary negotiation. Like last year, the honesty expressed during these panels due to the knowledge that the content wouldn’t be spread beyond that room was valuable. This year they also allowed men to attend the event, which means several of the panels had a man on it to give insight into how their experiences differed from those of women on the panel.

Thanks to Rupa and the CodeChix crew for putting on this conference and inviting me to participate again this year, I also had a lovely time meeting new people and catching up with others I hadn’t seen in some time.

More photos from DevPulseCon here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157692733907902

]]>
https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/devpulsecon-2018/feed/ 0
Settling in to Castro Valley https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/settling-in-to-castro-valley/ https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/settling-in-to-castro-valley/#respond Tue, 15 May 2018 02:55:09 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=13955 I’m spending this week in Philadelphia, which should be a nice break from all the move-in work I’ve been doing at the new house in Castro Valley. It also gives me some time to pause and reflect on just how much I’ve gotten done there, without feeling bad that I’m spending my time writing in my blog instead of doing more.

The first room to be really put together was the downstairs living room plus dining area. MJ got the entertainment system set up and we have our old couch and recliner in there. The couch seriously needs to be replaced and the chair has already been repaired once. I’m hoping we can go out shopping some time in June and at least get the furniture we want ordered. The dining room table down there is the small one MJ had in his old place, which we’ll eventually replace with a bigger, more formal one, but we’ll probably keep this one around for a while.

My home office is coming together nicely. Finally pulled all of my stuff out of storage so I can use and enjoy it again. I had almost 30 totes full of books, toys, framed things, and display items spanning my whole life. I took over the two spare bedrooms to go through all these totes and find homes for everything in my office. Upon opening one of the boxes, I realized from the tape job that I hadn’t opened it the entire time I lived in San Francisco. It took about a week to go through the bulk of it during my evenings, and I still have some cleaning up to do, but I’ve made very good progress and it’s nice to see my office coming together.

As part of this whole process, I needed bookcases for my books to live on. I was worried at first that I wouldn’t have enough space, but the trio of Ikea bookcases we bought succeeded in holding all of my books and are looking quite good in my office.

I still need a sofa bed for the office and we might swap out the filing cabinet for a different type of printer stand that will fit better in the space reserved for it. Aside from that, the last bit of the “room” that needed attention was the tiny deck outside, that is now furnished with a folding chair and table set that I can easily stash in my office when I’m traveling or there’s a storm beyond the usual trickle of water. It’s rated for full time outdoor use, but no sense in putting extra wear on it.

Caligula has been enjoying the new place a lot, since he’s allowed to go outside again. When I had a house in Schwenksville, PA over a decade ago now he would come outside with me in the summer to work on the yard, attached to a 50 ft lead and harness. At the house in Castro Valley the back yard is fully fenced in so I can let him out there to wander on his own, untethered. Most days that means I’ll start working and he’ll tell me when he wants to go out, and come back in. And go out again. And come back in… Still, he seems super happy with the arrangement so I’m willing to put up with being a door servant to my cat.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get the yard under control as well. Most of it is a bed of mulch out back, but weeds pop up through the mulch, and having not been touched for a few months between the owner leaving and me finally getting to it, we had quite the jungle out back. Caligula enjoyed the jungle, but some of the weeds were getting big enough for birds to land on them. I filled up about 4 compost bins with yard scraps as I cleaned up all but a small patch of the weeds out back and had a run at the front yard as well. The front yard is going to need more attention. It’s a bit tricky to tell weeds from intentional plants up there, and there are a number of lovely intentional plants, like a beautiful collection of roses!

There’s also cleaning the house. It’s the biggest house I’ve ever lived in, and while the hardwood and tiled floors throughout do ease the burden of cleaning some, it’s still a tremendous amount of work to keep it clean. With my travel schedule and everything we’ve got going on, I’ve reached out to some local services to see if we can get some help with it on a regular basis.

Before I left for this trip, I finished unpacking clothes in our bedroom so that’s looking a lot more inviting now, and I discovered that MJ does indeed have more than two pairs of jeans. I also hid away a number of totes and boxes that were hanging around the living room, having decided I won’t get to them within the next few weeks. A lot of the rest of the unpacking will have to wait though. We have a remodel planned for the kitchen and what we do in the kitchen will impact the upstairs living spaces quite significantly, so I don’t want to fill up those rooms too much just yet.

I still wish I’d made more progress now that we’re at the three month mark, but when I look at how I’ve been spending my days I realize that I’m barely watching any TV, with most of my downtime consisting of reading before bed. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, we’ll get there eventually, and we’re making progress!

Though I will admit, I am also spending a little time on my Nintendo Switch, which I picked up when I needed some retail therapy before one of my trips. The Zelda game for it is lovely, and I’m a sucker for Stardew Valley.

My Philadelphia trip isn’t without home projects. This week I’m going through all the pictures that we inherited to catalog them and later decide what we’re shipping out west and what we’ll be putting up here. It’s laborious and time-consuming, but I didn’t make many plans this trip so I think I’ll be able to get all the way through it.

]]>
https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/settling-in-to-castro-valley/feed/ 0
To San Francisco and back again https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/to-san-francisco-and-back-again/ https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/to-san-francisco-and-back-again/#respond Fri, 11 May 2018 16:55:14 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=13949 We’ve been living in Castro Valley for almost three months now. If I’m honest, the transition has been a little tough for me. I really fell in love with living in a city. The suburbs are lovely and I like having space, but it’s pretty lonely out here. Fortunately the city is not far away, a 33 minute BART ride gets me right into the heart of downtown. I commute to the office once a week when I’m not traveling, and have come up several times for various events, meals and visiting with people.

When my friend Danita was in town with her nephew in late March we headed up to the city to do some adventuring. The day started with brunch at the Delancy Street Restaurant, and then we piled into the Melbourne streetcar which was running on the E Line to go up to Fisherman’s Wharf. We ended up at Ghirardelli Square where we enjoyed some sundaes before parting ways for the weekend so MJ and I could go to the synagogue for the community Seder.

Which means of course we’re still members of our San Francisco congregation. It was the first synagogue I’ve been a member of, and one of their former rabbis shepherded us through our preparations for getting married, so it’s been an important part of our life. After several months of not going due to move chaos, it was nice to see people during the Seder.

I also haven’t found a new place to run in Castro Valley. I did get a gym membership, and am working on a routine for going, but I really loved running along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Since it is just a half hour train ride away, I did just that last month on one early Sunday morning. I probably won’t make a habit of coming to the city just for a run. I should find somewhere local that I like, but it was really nice.

My inclination to take photos of streetcars has also taken on more importance since I no longer see them every day. On that beautiful Sunday when I did my run, I was able to snap a bunch of pictures of the cars along the E and F Lines.

It looks like our time at the SF condo is finally winding down. All the repairs and improvements have been done and we’ve been showing it to potential tenants over the past week. I’m still sad that this era of our life is coming to a close, but I suppose all things change.

]]>
https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/05/to-san-francisco-and-back-again/feed/ 0
Five Days in Philadelphia https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/04/five-days-in-philadelphia/ https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/04/five-days-in-philadelphia/#respond Sun, 15 Apr 2018 19:23:32 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=13918 After our visit to NYC in March, I spent the last few days of the month in Philadelphia. It was a quick visit, since I wanted to be home for the second night community Seder at our synagogue. And though I don’t want every visit to be about something, since it is a second home for us, this did give us the opportunity to check to make sure the attic is still dry and schedule someone to come in and look at our cabinets.

MJ went up into the attic on Monday before catching his flight out and confirmed that the attic is indeed dry, hooray! We’re aiming to get it properly inspected when we’re in town again next month. The cabinets are more complicated. During the one year walk through the builder followed up on our concern about an improperly hanging cabinet door and ordered us a new one. They showed up with the cabinet door while I was in town, but it turns out, it wasn’t the door, the frame is actually cracked. We notified them and put it on the list for next time.

On Tuesday I took a train down to the city to attend a Docker 5th birthday party with the Docker Philadelphia Meetup. It was hosted by my friend John Mahoney, who I’ve kept up with over the years as a friend, but I’m so pleased is working in a space that syncs up with my own work so well. The event used Play with Docker-driven tutorials to get people going with Docker without installing anything locally, which was pretty neat. I also had the opportunity to catch up with my friends Walt and David who came out for the event, I met up with Walt before the event for some coffee, and got to go out after for some snacks with David. Great night.

The rest of the week was mostly spent just living my life. Working each day, visiting with a friend one evening, making sure snow was cleared off the driveway, getting the car washed.

On Friday I did go out on some adventures though. I closed up the house and met up with a friend to spend the day on South Street in Philadelphia. The first stop was to satisfy my craving for a cheesesteak at Jim’s Steaks. We also swung by a new poutine shop across the street.

As the clouds threatened rain overhead, we decided to spend the afternoon at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. It opened in 2008, so while I was still living in the area, but I didn’t know about it until he visited a while back. I quite like tiles, and the place is covered in them. It also incorporated all kinds of random things from plates and bottles to gates and chandeliers. The story of the artist turning a struggle with depression into something creative also resonated. Unfortunately it started raining as we were exploring the outdoor areas, but I did get to see all of it before the rain got too heavy.

More photos from Philadelphia’s Magic Garden here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157694398936034/

It certainly rained a fair amount, but thankfully I didn’t end up too soggy for my trip home. I got to the airport on time in the late afternoon and was able to hop on my flight back to San Francisco. The flight reached cruising altitude as Passover was beginning in the east coast time zones, but I was flying west, so I got to watch the plane run away from the sunset for a few hours. I think technically that means Passover was delayed for me, but I did skip eating bread during the flight just to stay on the safe side of the sunset.

]]>
https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/04/five-days-in-philadelphia/feed/ 0
Art Bell and my visit to Area 51 https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/04/art-bell-and-my-visit-to-area-51/ https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/04/art-bell-and-my-visit-to-area-51/#respond Sun, 15 Apr 2018 17:28:06 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=13921 On Friday Art Bell passed away at age 72. The radio program he founded, Coast to Coast AM wrote an RIP post here.

If you’re not familiar with it, Coast to Coast AM is a late night (over night on the east coast) show that has guests and callers who talk about paranormal activities or conspiracy theories. Aliens, ghosts, medical mysteries, what the government is up to, cover-ups, you name it. As a skeptic, it may seem a very unusual choice for me, but it turns out that listening to these sorts of things helped hone my critical thinking skills during my formative years.


At the Extraterrestrial Highway sign in Nevada

The X-Files premiered just a couple weeks before I turned 12. I remember watching the pilot with my mother, and I was immediately hooked. I was as big of an X-Phile as you could be at the time without internet or much money. I watched every show, I had the X-Files movie poster in my bedroom, I had a crush on Mulder and wanted to be Scully. I loved it, and this didn’t escape the notice of my parents. At some point my father told me about Coast to Coast. He was working as an overnight security supervisor at the time, and even though the overnight time slot was something I should have avoided, he thought I should know about it. Fortunately, I struggled with insomnia as a teen.

My father was a HAM, a massive Tolkien geek, and I think one place my parents bonded was over a love for science fiction. I’d like to believe my father was a hard core skeptic like I’ve become, but I’m sure there were some conspiracy theories he believed. So with a tiny AM radio and a pair of headphones, I’d routinely listen and fall asleep to the voice of Art Bell, and the connection that gave me to my father who was away from home most nights, and slept away from us during the day.

The show itself brought me into a world of looking at things differently, questioning authority, and trying to learn more to see if stories presented could really be true. The show had its fair share of people who were a bit “out there” and sometimes my father and I would chat about them, but the show wasn’t a joke to me and I had real compassion and understanding for these people. To this day, I gravitate toward the conspiracy theory characters in TV shows, and I still have a bit of a crush on Byers of The Lone Gunmen. Though I very much don’t believe, I Want To Believe. You better believe I went to the International Cryptozoology Museum the last time I was in Maine.

I still watch paranormal documentaries here and there, including ones like Ancient Aliens. A visit to the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel, Nevada was on my visit list since moving out west. There’s no easy way to get there though. The closest major airport is in Las Vegas, and Rachel, along with nearby Area 51, is about two and a half hours away by car.

However, there are Area 51 tours out of Las Vegas, and Las Vegas is a place I visit every couple of years! On one of these trips I bought a ticket and went along. For nine hours you’re whisked out of the comforts of Las Vegas and into the desert of central Nevada. The first thing to know about the tour is that you’re out of the car for maybe two hours of this trip, the rest is riding in the SUV, frequently on dirt roads. This part of Nevada is also higher in elevation than Las Vegas, so I actually saw some unexpected snow flurries while I was there! If you can cope with all that, you’re golden.

The tour begins with a stop by McCarran International Airport, the airport in Las Vegas. Peering through the fence you can see the discretely marked government planes that they say run from McCarran to Area 51 throughout the day.

The next stop was pretty fascinating, the Delmar dry lake. To get there the tour guide took us from paved road, to a lot of dirt road, and then finally on to the lake bed. The lake bed is so solid it felt like paved road again and he was able to zip across it easily at over 65 MPH. It also makes this an ideal landing strip for military planes doing testing runs, touch-and-gos, or if they need an emergency landing. Indeed, it was impossible to miss the tracks where planes had landed there. He parked on some and made jokes about planes landing while we were there on their “runway” in the desert.

From there it was off to see some ancient Indian petroglyphs. The story goes that extraterrestrial beings visited the native Americans of ancient times, and the recording of this encounter were these carvings in stone. A flying saucer, a humanoid in a space suit, humanoids with very long arms. I remain predictably unconvinced, but it was neat to see it as an archaeological site.

It was then off on the long drive up to Rachel. We stopped at The Black Mailbox for some photos (it was there when we went!). Then finally at the Little A’Le’Inn for lunch! We ordered a round of cheeseburgers and sodas, and I went off to take pictures, and buy some goodies. You bet I got the t-shirt. And magnet, coffee cup, pin… I was truly in geek heaven here and wanted to make the most of it.

The culmination of this visit was actually going to the border of Area 51. The path to get there is another series of long dirt roads, and once you arrive, let’s be honest, there’s not much to see. It’s the entrance to a top secret military base. You can snap a selfie, see the truck up on the hill that will make sure you’re shot, or at least arrested, if you step over the line into the base. Going is more about getting close to something that we’ve all read and seeing stories about.

From there you go on your two and a half hour ride back to Las Vegas. It was a good thing I brought my ebook reader with me, I had plenty of time to catch up on some reading!

More photos from the tour here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157667830377338/

I don’t think I have any more conspiracy pilgrimages on my list, but I had fun on this one. Thanks to Art Bell for playing a role in what led me here. Art, I hope you rest in peace, or enjoy whatever you’ve now discovered happens in the afterlife.

]]>
https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/04/art-bell-and-my-visit-to-area-51/feed/ 0