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Sadness, roses, and oranges

This personal blog trends positive. When things get tough, one of my strongest mechanisms for coping has been to constantly remind myself of the best parts about my life. As a result, I don’t avoid painful topics here in some attempt to rewrite history, but because I want to cling to and celebrate the good, and wish to privately work through the bad or complicated. I’ve been faced with that in a very real way lately.

Last month at work I was told my position was being eliminated. My last day was October 15th. On October 17th we learned about another complication with the pregnancy, this one will require close monitoring from December through delivery in (hopefully) January. Independently, these things are difficult to cope with, but surmountable. Together, they’ve been a private catastrophe.

On the broader national stage, the Supreme Court nomination earlier this month hit home hard as we continue to see the women in our society attacked and marginalized for the benefit of the careers of men. This week I have been beside myself with heartache over the latest attempts by the administration to strip my trans sisters and brothers of their identity through measures that put their livelihoods and lives at risk once again. Just yesterday a mass murder a synagogue here in Pennsylvania left me sad, scared, and reeling, but not altogether surprised. While I’ve never been the type to be fearful day to day, and I’m still not, it’s been clear for some time that my family wouldn’t be entirely safe in this political climate for long.

Am I OK? Not really. But the earth keeps turning and there’s only one direction to go in. I’m doing what I can to handle it, even on days that it isn’t easy. I started seeing a therapist to talk through some of it so I can work on a healthy path forward without medication that could impact the pregnancy. I stop and admire the roses in my garden and then pull myself together to prepare for the series conferences I’ve been participating in this season. I chat with companies about roles that may be a good fit, and keep doing job interviews. I remind myself that the only way to get through this is to make sure I don’t let hopelessness and sadness cripple me from taking the steps I need to in order to continue to build my career and forge a life for our family. Oh, and I’ll vote on November 6th.

Friends certainly help, but been faced with a weakening of a couple key relationships in my life this year as my life starts to change. Instead, I’ve made more of an effort to have meals with a few friends local to me in the bay area who I haven’t had a chance to catch up with in some time. Most of that of it is my typical hermit lifestyle that causes most of my social interactions to happen while traveling and at conferences. It has come to my attention over the past year that I’ve made a mistake in this regard, and as tempting as it always is to bury myself in work and tech, the cliché of people being what really matter does have truth to it. That doesn’t mean that I’ve actually managed to make the required changes to build new meaningful relationships, but recognizing it is the first step, right?

A beautiful morning at Lake Merritt with friend and fellow Partimus Director, Grant

Otherwise, my travel schedule has been busy, and I’ve been trying to be strategic about what MJ and I tackle each weekend when I’m in town. As I count down the time between now and welcoming our new child, there isn’t much time and there’s a lot to be done. I finally signed up for all the classes in December we need to take to prepare, since we have no idea how to keep an infant alive. We still haven’t bought anything, so quickly coming up on my agenda is putting together a list of things we’ll need, researching the dizzying assortment of options, and finally ordering things.

And I’ve had a bit of unrelated fun too. After months of pining over beers I couldn’t have whenever we go out, I realized that non-alcoholic beer exists, and finally asked the internet what my best options are. I found two domestic microbreweries that only make non-alcoholic beers! The first I tried was from WellBeing Brewing outside of St. Louis, their golden wheat hit my beer-craving spot. The second comes from just south of me, Surreal Brewing, which makes a red IPA! Now, since I love hops and am often indulging in the most ridiculous hoppy beer I can find, it was a bit mild for me, but it was still good and an effective way for me to get my hops fix, even if it’s just a little one. So far I’ve also tried the Kaliber made by Guinness. Looking forward to continuing my NA adventure when I return home, though I’ve even been taking these slowly because there is the potential for trace amounts of alcohol in them.

Then, there’s the oranges! My neighbor has an orange tree and a lime tree that she’s always encouraging me to take fruit from, especially now that I’m pregnant. The limes have been a delightful addition to my sparkling water addiction. I’ve used the piles of oranges to make orange juice lately, after all, what else would one do with piles of oranges? I’ve been deeply satisfied with my fresh morning orange juice.

After my last day at work last week I also took time to do a lot of the things that one tends to delay when they’re working full time. The car finally made it into the shop. I had a few doctor appointments. We met with the Cantor at our synagogue to discuss a few things regarding Jewish traditions and the naming of our son. I’m a little disappointed in myself that all of this landed in the “delayed” category, self-care and regular life stuff really shouldn’t take a back seat.

This week I’ve spent some time at the Philadelphia townhouse between All Things Open in Raleigh and LISA in Nashville, the latter of which I leave for today. I’m not here for long, but it certainly was nice to be able to crash here for a few days instead of paying for a hotel somewhere on the east coast, or flying all the way back to the west coast. While I’ve been here I’ve had a couple lunches with a friend, and was able to do a dinner with family. Plus we had an annual sprinkler-related inspection due next week to take care of. I also got to debug the garage door opener, which still needs to be fixed properly, but at least I know what the issue is now. I was definitely far too excited to be able to finally pick up some back-ordered sheets we had shipped to my sister-in-law, our sheet situation is now sorted between the master bedroom and guest room! The last “big” thing here this week was extracting some chairs from the garage and cleaning them off after years in storage. They were a lot dirtier than I expected from looking at them, but they’re in much better shape now.

After Nashville, I’ll be in San Francisco for five days before my final conference of the year, SeaGL. I’ll be giving the opening keynote there, and in spite of knowing about the conference for several years, this will be the first time I am actually able to attend. The schedule looks fantastic and I’ve enjoyed following along as they’ve released diversity statistics and details about how they went about the call for proposals and selection process. I’m really looking forward to it.

A keynote and more at Ohio LinuxFest 2018

At the beginning of October I flew out to Columbus, Ohio for the annual Ohio LinuxFest. I spoke there in 2016, so I was delighted when I was invited back this year not just to speak, but to deliver the closing keynote.

The two-day event began on Friday, October 12th with a series of paid training workshops, and then a single conference track. I made my way to the single track for the day, where the first talk was by Clay Dowling on Team Happiness for Fun and Profit. His talk poked around some of the highlighted stereotypical perks offered by a lot of tech companies, but implored us to think more deeply than that. Is it beer and ping pong that keeps tech workers engaged? Probably not, and some statistics show that as many as 57% of tech workers report suffering burnout. Being mindful to craft a healthy work-life balance and asking the right questions of your team about what could be improved were key points in his talk.

It caused me to reflect some on the strategy of many startups to hire young people who don’t have the experience to avoid burnout, and one of the insightful things he mentioned when I asked was that he struggled to connect with non-tech people when he was working too much in his 20s, and that the “user” often became the enemy in the eyes of the development team. Of course there are many reasons to hire more senior talent (not the least of which because they can do more work in 40 hours a week simply due to experience than most junior developers can in 60), but a team that is struggling to connect with the users will certainly struggle to be effective. He continued his line of thinking in a talk later in the day titled Getting to Done Faster where he encouraged the audience to not avoid problems (instead, address them), relentlessly remove barriers to deploy frequently, and accept that as carefully as you plan, plans will change and failures will occur, you need to be prepared for that. I can see how health of a team and trust plays heavily into all of this, even further building up the business case for making sure your staff is healthy and being treated fairly.

I also enjoyed hearing from Jim Kittle about the status of a migration away from a monolithic infrastructure at Ohio State and onto a platform using Puppet, Kubernetes, GitLab and Jenkins, among others. These breaking-up-the-monolith talks are always interesting. It seems that a lot of organizations are slow to migrate to microservices simply because the project seems so huge. Talks like this one from Jim remind us that most organizations tackle this incrementally, which is something that microservices are well-suited for. Start with greenfield projects, or your stateless workloads, you can still call into legacy back-ends or tackle the more complicated components later. Modernizing even parts of your infrastructure today will bring value, and attract talented people who are more inclined to help build and maintain a more modern stack.

The other speaker on Friday who really stood out for me was Joel Graff, who gave a talk titled Engineering, Open Sourced. He quickly had to explain to the audience that he wasn’t talking about software engineering, but traditional engineering, where people build things like bridges. His talk began with a look at FreeCAD and the latest advances of the project and interesting projects that were using it (see the FreeCAD Users Showcase for some of this).

Then he pivoted to talk about the vital importance of open source on the field of engineering, which is where the talk became a standout one for me. As folks working in tech, we’re familiar with the reasons to avoid vendor lock-in and are great at discussing it at length in our field, but I always find it fascinating when it starts being applied to other disciplines that technology touches. He talked about the risks of government specifications that require reliance on proprietary formats, some of which require very expensive software that effectively excludes those without the means to purchase it, but worse relies upon the vendor to continue supporting the format. Consider what happens in 40 years when the bridge forms a crack, but the original plans are locked inside a proprietary format that no one has the ability to open anymore? He also touched upon the dangers of machine learning and other tooling that takes input and delivers and answer that the engineers working on rely upon, but are unable to fact check. We really have to own these tools for the long-term physical safety of our world.

When the first day wrapped up I met up with my friend David for a walk before making our way over to a pizzeria where just two years before we enjoyed with a couple friends from the Ubuntu community, Nathan and Jose. I admit, it’s not the amazing flat pizza of the northeast, but it was still better than the pizza I get in California. Good meal, I’m glad we went back.

After dinner, I popped back over for the tail end of a Birds of a Feather session with folks talking about the Linux Users Group (LUG) in western Pennsylvania, which borders Ohio. They seemed to be looking at the future of the group, but noted that LUGs have declined in recent years. My view into this phenomenon is that, as much as I still love it, Linux has become so ubiquitous that it’s largely not interesting enough for most people to have dedicated meetings for anymore. We instead have groups for software that builds upon Linux servers by default, and largely take it for granted until something goes wrong. I do have to admit that it’s still a bit sad to leave that time behind, and I do still enjoy hearing about LUGs that are thriving in spite of it.

From there I joined several other women at the conference for a late ice cream-fueled women in tech gathering. The Ohio LinuxFest is quite lean on diversity across the board (something it appears they do try to address when doing speaker selection, and now with a Code of Conduct), so it was nice to have a time and space to connect with a handful of the other women who were attending.

The second day of the conference is a much larger affair. Keynotes! Multiple tracks! The opening keynote came from Bridget Kromhout of Microsoft on Containers will not fix your broken culture (and other hard truths). In this humorous, but informative talk, she shed light upon some of the behaviors and challenges that organizations have, that can’t be fixed with technology. A video of her talk is available here, and if reading is more your speed, a similar version was published in ACM Queue several months ago Containers Will Not Fix Your Broken Culture (and Other Hard Truths).

I attended a few other talks throughout the day, but as often the case with these events, the connections I make with people in the community are the most valuable. I was able to take time to chat with several folks both in the local community and more broadly. I also found myself having to swap out a continuous delivery demo for an upcoming conference, so getting to meet up with Jason Plum from GitLab to chat about Auto DevOps helped tremendously given the limited time window I had to prepare.

The conference concluded with the keynote I had prepared on Open Source and the Revolution of Software Testing. One of the things I learned as I’ve read back into some of the history of software development is how tightly coupled software testing has always been in the process. This is in stark contrast with what I experienced in the open source world. For a very long time, if software testing was done at all, it was done privately. It was done either inside companies that used the software and then reported back upstream (hopefully!) with tidbits of findings in the form of bug reports and patches or just some checks that the maintainer would run on their own local system before approving code changes. Systematic, public testing is really something new for open source, but since we’ve started seeing it, the move for projects to adopt it has been swift and the open source and proprietary tooling available to support the workflow has grown tremendously. My keynote covered this journey, and explored some of the options out there for testing your own open source project, and highlighted the benefits of using open source software testing tooling for your open source projects. A video of the talk can be seen here and I’ve uploaded a PDF of the slides here

Thanks to bored2sleep for snapping a photo during my talk (source

More photos from the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157674943511988/

Huge thanks to the organizers of the Ohio LinuxFest. They put a tremendous amount of work into this conference and their kindness and support for speakers is commendable. It may be a couple years before I go back just because of some changes in my life, but it is one I’d recommend folks near Ohio submit to, It’s an interesting mix of hobbyists and professionals working for a vast spectrum of organizations.

37 in Las Vegas

At the end of September I celebrated my 37th birthday with MJ by taking a trip to Las Vegas. I enjoy Las Vegas, but we thought about where to go for my last birthday before the kiddo arrives a fair amount. Ultimately, time and health were the big deciders. We’ve gone up to the Tahoe region a couple years for my birthdays, but our favorite thing to do there is visit the hot tubs while the brisk, mountain air surrounds us. Alas, hot tubs are out for pregnant me. Our time was limited due to work obligations, so we couldn’t go very far from home. I can’t drink alcohol, but I can eat, and go to shows, and sit by a pool. Las Vegas!

We flew out on a Wednesday night, and spent the first day in town at the MGM Grand pool where we rented a pool side bed for the day. It was a good choice, the day was warm and the quiet relaxation time was precisely what I needed. I read, we enjoyed the lazy river, and had snacks throughout the day.

Food definitely featured prominently throughout the week. We made it over to the buffet at the Aria one afternoon, and snagged dinner reservations at two Michelin rated restaurants. The first was Aureole. We enjoyed the tasting menu and they were able to make me a lovely mocktail to accompany the dinner. The food was exceptional, but the really fun part about this restaurant is they have a giant, glass-enclosed wine tower where they store the bottles. To top it all off, they have a “wine angel” who retrieves the bottles for guests by hooking into series of pulleys and cables which then hoist her up into the tower.

We also made it over to L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon. Another tasting menu and another mocktail were on the agenda for me. We had bar seating here which gave us a view into their open kitchen where we could see the chefs doing the intricate preparations required for all the delicate dishes they served. It was a delightful dinner, even if it was rushed a bit at the end so we could get over to the Cirque du Soleil KÀ theater next door for 9:30PM showing.

Beyond food and Las Vegas itself, we had rented a car during our stay, assisted mightily by our status at MGM which granted free parking. This allowed us to easily take a day trip out to Boulder City. We stopped for lunch at The Tap before making our way over to the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City. I saw this museum from the road the last time I was in town, and knew I wanted to return at some point on a weekend to visit and take the train ride. My birthday was that day! The ride was fun, and I enjoyed the model train layout they had there on site inside of a Pullman car (cute!). The outdoor museum continued by getting to see and climb inside several cars, including a caboose and a USPS mail car.

From there we drove up to the Hoover Dam. I had visited the dam once before, but it was a side-stop on a Grand Canyon tour and we merely drove across it and stopped for a few minutes. This time we were able to spend about an hour walking across it and visiting the surrounding area a bit. We didn’t opt for the paid exhibit portion, I was a bit low on energy from the heat (peaked at around 101F!) and pregnancy. I’m a sucker for Art Deco, so I really enjoyed the walk, but I think the most unexpected delight was visiting the women’s restroom perched right on the dam. All green and Art Deco, looks like it’s never been updated aside from being maintained and cleaned.

More photos from Boulder City here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157696144472140/

We departed Las Vegas much too soon on Sunday. MJ was due to be in a conference in Vancouver, and I had to head back home. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip packing so much into three days. Next time we’ll definitely relax a bit more. Still, I’m glad we did it, aside from the Thanksgiving visit we’re planning in Philadelphia, it very well may have been our last out-of-California adventure together for the year.

Open Source Summit NA 2018

This was my second Open Source Summit in North America, having followed the one in Los Angeles last year, which I wrote about last September. At that first conference I spent most of my time getting familiar with the space around containers and Apache Mesos that I’d been quickly ramping up on. This year my focus was a bit different, as I was taking a greater interest in the topic of how well-known companies are approaching the development of open source programs offices (OSPOs), so I spent more time in the tracks related to the Linux Foundation’s TODO Group.

It’s been enlightening over the years to participate in multiple Community Leadership Summits and the maturing developer advocacy realm where conferences like DevXCon highlight the work of various types of communities, stretching well beyond open source. In my current role I’ve shared some of the guides coming out of the TODO group and it’s been interesting to see the case studies be released from companies like Comcast and Capital One.

During the Open Source Summit itself I heard talks from Fidelity, Uber, Mastercard, Microsoft, and even the US Department of Defense about how they run their OSPOs or similar programs. I think what was most interesting about these talks is that they all had themes and trends I was familiar with on a practical level and which matched my own experience, but they also all stressed crafting the program to the existing company culture. This may seem obvious, but in every case these companies needed someone who was not only well-versed in open source, development practices, and licensing, but swho was flexible to make the best practices work in the environment they were working in. In many cases this even meant foregoing some of the “best” practices in order to succeed.

Daniel Ruggeri talks about open source at Mastercard

Still, flexibility required aside, I’m really excited to see these organizations getting together in a group to put together the guides for the things that are most commonly shared among organizations. It gives anyone who is seeking to build one of these programs a baseline instead of each figuring it out on our own, as we’ve been doing for years. On top of the baseline, you can then get creative and build precisely what you need for open source to succeed in a company, whether it’s working on upstream projects, releasing your own software, or something else.

That week also saw the release of the first Open Source Programs Survey, which reflected the current state of companies considering, using and valuing the work of these programs. I also saw a talk from Kate Stewart on automatic open source compliance tooling, something that tends to fall under the purview of an OSPO, with assistance from a legal team versed in licensing.

Kate Stewart on automatic open source compliance tooling

For my part, I gave a refined version of a talk I’d given with my former colleague Judith Malnick at DevXCon a few months before titled From Debian to DC/OS: Factors that Shape Open Source Communities. I adapted it to be a single person talk and extended it to the forty minute time slot by adding additional characteristics of communities that I’d been thinking about in the months that had transpired. Some things like project culture and the ecosystem you’re working in have a large impact on how you’d approach a community, which I think we glossed over in the earlier version of the talk, even if our conclusions hinted at them. It was also my first talk in a very long time where I was editing slides they night before when inspiration struck and I realized how I could tie a couple of my key points together. Usually my talks are practiced and sealed a full week before the event. Slides from my talk are available here (PDF).

Keynote-wise the two that stood out for me were when Sarah Novotny announced that Google was making an investment to support Kubernetes testing tooling to be something that’s community-maintained (near and dear to my heart!) and the interview with Van Jones who shared his thoughts on diversity and offered hope in a time when a lot of us are struggling.

The conference attendee party took place at the nearby Vancouver Aquarium, which made for an incredibly nice place to be even when I didn’t always have someone to chat with. Take note: introverts of the conference appreciate the dolphins and otters to look at so awkward social feelings are kept to a minimum. I also attended a women of open source lunch during the conference, which I was delighted to see what even bigger than the one last year in Los Angeles!

As far as the rest of the conference goes, I had a really nice time. There are a few people who I only get to spend a lot of time with when I’m at events like this, and I enjoyed the impromptu meals I ended up with random people who were actually doing work near to what I was doing. Plus, as I’ve said before, that conference venue in Vancouver is one of my favorites. It’s right on the harbor so you get amazing views all week of the water and mountains.

More photos from the summit are up here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157695288597990

Home, holidays and robots

I’ll begin this post by getting the miserable bit out of the way. The past several weeks have been challenging. To everyone who has offered kindness and support, either because I brought you into my confidence or you noticed something wasn’t quite right, I thank you. To everyone else, I know vague-blogging is tacky, but I did want to publicly mark this point and express gratitude.

In what has turned out to be happier news, I had my last visit with a specialist this week who was addressing the pregnancy complications I discussed in this blog post and I’m back to just seeing my regular OB-GYN. My amniocentesis results came back last week too, giving us the all clear for everything it tests for. I also started to feel him moving right on schedule at 20 weeks, which is one of the strangest feelings I’ve ever experienced, and just last night at 22 weeks the tiniest bit of being able to feel it on the outside started. It’s all been quite the whirlwind and we’re still not even remotely prepared, we haven’t bought anything. I did manage to start researching cribs though, so it begins! I’m already thankful to myself for not making a huge deal out of this, our kiddo won’t have a hyper decked out nursery with matching curtains and a theme because that’s just not us, but he will have what he needs and we’ll figure out the rest along the way. Plus, I aim to have learned how to keep an infant alive by the time he joins us, hah!

Other bits of the house have been moving along too. While I was in Vancouver for the Open Source Summit MJ bit the bullet on the work he’d done researching and gathering estimates to get a tankless water heater installed. They followed up a couple weeks later to complete the work to get whole house re-circulation going. As a result, we now not only have endless hot water, it comes on almost instantly! This is a huge change from when I used to have to let my shower run for 2-3 minutes for it to warm up. Not the ideal situation in frequently drought-swept California.

A couple weekends ago we hired a pair of movers to help us retrieve some stuff from the container we shipped out from Pennsylvania. We aren’t ready to fully empty it, but there were a few things we needed to get out of it for immediate use, which included the guest bed that we brought from the townhouse to set up here. At the house, we also had them move a large filing cabinet and freezer from the upstairs down into MJ’s office and the garage, respectively. Then a bunch of totes that I’d finished unpacking for now that needed to move from the upstairs to the garage. If I’m honest, I wasn’t thrilled that we had to hire help for all of this, if I wasn’t pregnant it’s work that MJ and I would have tackled ourselves over the course of a few weeks, but it did feel nice to finally get it all done. Most of the rooms are now tote-free, so even if the rooms aren’t finished because we need to buy more furniture, they are looking slightly less like we just moved in.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the presence of mind to think about what would happen to a damp freezer after it’s been unplugged. It sat in the garage for two weeks before I finally realized I should open it to let it dry. The sight I beheld upon opening it was not what I wanted to see: mold! In retrospect, it’s obvious that would happen, and I’m glad I checked. Still, it did mean I had to clean it out this weekend, which I finished today. With gloves, mask, bleach cleaner and some elbow grease, I spent about 45 minutes cleaning it out. Good as new!

The guest room still needs a fair amount of work, but finally having a proper bed in there is nice, no more need for guests to stay on air mattresses!

And with the filing cabinet moved out of my office, I could put together the Realspace Magellan Tech Station we picked up a few weeks ago. It fits and looks good in the space we created for it, so I’m happy that’s done. We still need to hang pictures and put up a few shelves, but it’s coming together to be the perfect Lyz cave. I am not shy to admit that I spend almost all of my time in here, whether it’s working, enjoying coffee or meal on the little deck, or reading on the sofa bed we had delivered last month.

After a false start when MJ’s old drill died in the middle of hanging bars in my bathroom, that is finally done too! New drill in hand, he was able to get those put up with no issues. Since I’d already finished buying linens and all the other bathroom stuff for that room, the hanging of the towel bars marked the last official thing we had to do in that room, and I’ve proclaimed completeness there – the first room in the house to be completely Done!

Alas, since houses never let you rest, the next day the dryer stopped drying clothes. I read about the issue online, consensus was that the exhaust vent was clogged and it had probably caused the fuse controlling heat in the dryer to flip. As a result, we had our first experience with a company that came out to clean out the dryer exhaust vent. I did some research online, called around, and had an appointment booked for a week and a half after the problem cropped up. In spite of arriving a bit early, the crew was incredibly professional, and even swapped out the somewhat hacked together exhaust tubing that came with the house with something new and more maintainable at no extra charge. They showed the old one to me, in addition to being totally blocked, there was also an old bird’s nest in it. Apparently it’s pretty common, especially if a house had been left sitting a few months without the dryer being used, as ours had between the previous owner moving out and us moving in. Thankfully the dryer just worked after that, no fuse replacement! All things considered, it was definitely one of the easier fixes.

We’ve also bought a couple robots. With me off cat litter box duty for the first time in 14+ years, we decided to buy a Litter-Robot III Open Air with Connect. We set it up last weekend and had our doubts that Caligula would take to it, but he seems to be OK with it so far. He’s approaching is 15th birthday though, so I did order the stairs addition for it as it may become more difficult for him to climb into it over the next few years. It also seems to work pretty well, and I especially like that the company is honest about not actually needing to use their branded replacement bags, or the carbon filter at all. The product is expensive, and gives you plenty of lock-in already, but not bankrupting you with a razor blade-esque gimmick is really nice.

The second robot is the Roomba 890. It took me a couple weeks to set it up following delivery from the Labor Day sale they had, mostly because house was in a state a flux due to all the work we’d been doing. It was finally settled enough this past week to set it loose on the downstairs, which is effectively one huge room, plus MJ’s office and a bathroom. The experiment went well, after about an hour it had finished cleaning the floors in the big room and the bathroom. The other day I brought it upstairs, which presented some challenges. The transitions between the tile and hardwood floors in our house are not very smooth, there’s almost a one inch dip between rooms. I knew it was an iffy transition and it would probably get stuck. We should probably install the room transition runners anyway so no one stubs their toes, but Roomba acquisition made this more important. In the meantime, some strategic closing of doors and moving the robot between rooms, it made its way around the upstairs, finally finishing the whole floor.

In the midst of this, the High Holidays! Rosh Hashanah began the evening of September 9th, and then Yom Kippur the evening of September 18th. Tonight Sukkot begins. We made the trek back to San Francisco for services, since that’s where we’re members. In spite of what now is, at best, a 45 minute drive from home, we have enjoyed being part of the congregation there and are reluctant to leave for one that’s closer to our new home. We’ll see how things go, but in the meantime it was nice to enjoy services in the beautiful, historic sanctuary there for one more year.

Now my efforts are focused on a quick vacation this week to Las Vegas for my birthday. Pools! Shows! Food! Trains! We’re flying out Wednesday evening and I’m coming home on Sunday, as MJ heads off to a conference. It should be a nice time, and I could use the time away.

Philly and FOSSCON 2018

I spent this past week in Philadelphia, arriving on Saturday evening. The goal of the trip was to attend FOSSCON the following Saturday, but I’d never pass up an opportunity to come back early and spend a bit of time at the townhouse. It gives me an opportunity to visit with my east coast friends while I’m there, so I had plans for a few days early in the week.

Unfortunately most of my plans didn’t pan out, but I was at least able to turn Sunday around! I swapped some evening plans with them for daytime hangout plans with a couple of my friends in New Jersey and their little ones. A daytime visit meant I could more easily visit with the newest additions to their family (a child and a kitty). They have really been there for me since early in the pregnancy, I didn’t reach out often, but it was a relief to know I had someone to talk/rant/ask advice from as I stumble through all of this. It was great to finally catch up in person, and as I’ve casually been browsing telescopes lately, get shown their Celestron telescope (the brand I’m looking at) and get some ideas about how I may set up my own when I finally make the leap.

Being in town did mean I could get some tasks done at the townhouse. I was available Monday morning as a bed was delivered for the guest room. Until now we ha just gotten by with an old metal bed frame for that room, but we recently decided we wanted a more finished room. A platform bed was delivered and assembled, and I’m happy with how it turned out. Tuesday morning I took the MDX to the shop to get an annual check-up. Since we only use it when we’re in Philadelphia, it doesn’t have enough miles on it to warrant mileage-based check-ups, but we do like having an oil change and a look over it at least once a year. Wednesday morning I met with a handyman who sorted out the ventilation problem in our attic. If you recall, ventilation issues caused frost in the attic over the winter and extended my holiday visit to work with the remediation company that came in with heaters and dehumidifiers. The saga of the attic is not over, but the exhaust fans in the master bathroom are safe to use again, and he was able to look at a couple other things while he was over.

New guest bed!

My social plans not working out made for a bit of a lonely week. I wish I could say that I got a lot of project work done each evening instead, but it wasn’t really the case. I felt pretty down and watched a bit more TV than I would have liked. Thankfully MJ joined me on Thursday and I perked up as we met up with friends that evening to see Krull get the RiffTrax treatment at the nearby theater at Neshaminy. Krull is a ridiculous fantasy movie from the 80s that my family owned when I was a kid. It was the early 80s, so you may be asking how we had it, VHS? Betamax? Laserdisc? None of these! We had one of the rare CED players, which played videodiscs. I think one of the most amusing things to come out of the RiffTrax treatment of Krull was my tweeting this particular fact, being retweeted by RiffTrax, and then having fellow internet nerds start geeking out about CEDs. One of my friends even chimed in with a whole 30 minute video made a couple years ago that covered some of the history and technology of CEDs. For a few hours that day, I remembered that there can sometimes be a considerable amount of joy from connecting with random people on social media.

And RiffTrax: Krull itself? I’m very glad I didn’t remember the movie, it was terrible, and likely pretty unwatchable today without the delightful commentary of Bill, Kevin, and Mike. Afterwards we headed over to Unos for a late dinner.

Saturday was FOSSCON! I come into town for this conference every year, and it’s often the one time each year I can connect with the open source tech crowd in Philadelphia, many of the members of which I’ve known for well over a decade. I always meet new people as well, and this year was no exception.

The conference kicked off with a round table on effectively promoting FOSS to businesses, which focused on “selling” organizations solutions rather than banging the drum about freedom and other things that get us excited about open source. From there I attended a talk by Angel Rivera of CircleCI on “Build for Production using CI/CD Pipelines & Docker.” It’s a small conference, but I was glad that he gave a talk that was so complementary to mine. He covered the CI/CD fundamentals in depth before launching into his demo that used CircleCI to build and execute an entire pipeline.

After lunch (cheesesteaks!) I settled in to prepare a cluster for my own upcoming CI/CD talk, and have some lovely “hallway track” time catching up with folks. When I was ready, I got set up in the auditorium to prepare for my talk. The talk focused on the benefits of using containers (with a focus on Apache Mesos and DC/OS) for your CI/CD pipeline. I used the demo I’d completed successfully dozens of times, including on stage twice. Unfortunately I finally had to pay my dues to the “demo gods,” my live demo failed! I didn’t have a backup strategy for running the demo because I was so confident in the success. Instead I talked through the steps and was able to show off what the results should have looked like. In retrospect I suspect there was just too much latency on the cloud platform I was using, since the demo had problems from the start. If I had the time, I would have re-launched the cluster in a region that was geographically closer, and I may see about using a local deployment on my laptop as a total network failure backup. Regardless of the demo, I think I got my points across and the audience seemed generally sympathetic when I was later answering questions at the end of the presentation. Slides from the talk are available as pdf here.

Thanks to Angel Rivera for this photo during my talk! (source)

The conference continued with a talk about running Apache Ignite on Kubernetes, and then a series of lightning talks. As things wrapped up, I found the annual Oreo cake (my favorite!) that Jim Fisher brought along and shared with anyone who was walking by as the event concluded. We then collected a few people for an unofficial after event dinner at the nearby City Tap Room.

Being familiar with the organizers, staff and many of the attendees means this conference is probably the one where I feel most comfortable. It’s still a long, exhausting day, especially as I’m recovering from a cold that made a minor comeback in the form of a sore throat and continued cough, but I had a great time. Huge thanks to Jonathan Simpson and the rest of the FOSSCON crew who spend so much time and effort into putting it together each year.

A few more photos from FOSSCON here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157699031220361

Sunday we flew back to California! We used miles to upgrade to some international-style first class seats on a 767 that was doing an unusual trip direct from Philadelphia to San Francisco. I usually struggle to be productive on flights, but I’ve been more focused lately on flights, and the five hour flight gave me time to catch up on some reading for work that I’d been meaning to do for weeks, along with drafting up most of this blog post.

I’m now back in California for less than 48 hours before I leave for the Open Source Summit in Vancouver tomorrow evening. It’s enough time for me to get some work squared away (including adding some finishing touches to my talk!), do a bit of laundry, and make sure Caligula hasn’t forgotten who I am. After that, I’m in town for a few weeks, which will give me time to finish some big projects at work before I start traveling again in October and November for the five conferences I have lined up.

Complications, a Boy and a Couch

I only spent two weeks in the bay area this month between Philadelphia trips. I had a couple packed weeks planned, dinners with local friends, work on the house, a big project at work to pour my focus into. I did almost none of it.

The morning after our return, I had an episode of bleeding and severe cramps. I called the on call doctor and at first was going to let it pass, but as the pain increased I had MJ take me to the ER. It was a subchorionic hemorrhage (subchorionic hematoma). They did an ultrasound in the ER, the fetus was fine and with the bleeding subsiding I was cleared to go home after four hours, with a letter excusing me from work for the rest of the week and a modified bed rest plan. Since I work from home most of the time, and could focus on lower stress work, I negotiated an adjustment to the no work stipulation and worked with my employer to arrange half days for the week. I spent my resting time finishing a book and catching up on shows I hadn’t made time for in months. I also caught a cold mid-week, which really pushed me into resting more so I could cope with that. On Thursday I went in for a regular pregnancy check-in appointment with my doctor and she confirmed everything looked OK, and assured me that this incident didn’t indicate that I’d continue having a difficult pregnancy and everything could very well be fine moving forward. She did advise I continue to rest through Monday though, so I don’t aggravate anything while I heal up and hopefully reabsorb the rest of the hematoma.

This past Thursday I saw another doctor for a scheduled amniocentesis that we’re having done because I’m over 35. Unfortunately the doctor could still see the hematoma on the ultrasound and he advised that we wait until it’s gone to do the procedure so we don’t risk more complications. I was disappointed, but agreed to have some blood work done in the meantime. It was also reassured that everything looks good and the only reason we’re doing this is because of my age. The appointment wasn’t a total waste though, we learned the gender, we’re having a boy! I would have loved to geek out with a little girl child, but I’m happy either way, even though, as one of three girls, I’m not quite sure what to do with a boy. We also got more ultrasound pictures, and they did a 3D ultrasound that actually didn’t come out totally creepy.

So in spite of this scare, it looks like things are on track. It was a wake-up call though. I’ve never been particularly gentle with my body, and I did spend the week previous in Philadelphia moving a lot of stuff as we prepared for movers to come and help us load the container we shipped out west. None of the doctors believe that caused the hematoma, but I probably do need to be more gentle with myself now that I’m host to another living thing, as there are things I can do that would cause complications. I also had to come to terms with some loss of control. There was nothing I could have done differently to prevent this, most women who have difficult pregnancies aren’t at fault. I had plans of being some kind of pregnancy super woman, but it’s not really up to me. I have plans for this fall and chances are it’ll be fine to keep all my obligations, but I have to be prepared for some scaling back and being more selective about what I do if that’s what my doctor says is required for everything to go well.

All that behind us, I did get out a little. After the modified bed rest wound down I was feeling quite cooped up, so MJ and I spent lunch over the weekend at Chabot Lake enjoying some burgers from the little cafe there. It was fun to get out and see a bit more of our little town, and get out in the sun for a bit.

On Friday I also finally had a sofa bed delivered that we ordered back in May. We had expected to receive it back in June or July, but delays from the manufacturer meant that it was several weeks later than their outside estimate. Thankfully they ended up giving us free delivery when I explained that I was now too pregnant to help haul a couch up a flight of stairs. One of the many benefits of working with a local furniture shop that wants to build a relationship with their customers, I was grateful for the accommodation and we’ll shop there again.

I’m also really excited to have the sofa bed in my home office! We’re planning on doing some renovations, so the furniture situation house-wide isn’t really settled yet, but my office won’t be changing and it’s the one place where we could confidently make some decisions. The sofa bed is a Serta Augustine, so it’s built well and incredibly comfortable whether in couch or full size bed mode. Caligula likes it too.

I also got some towels for the bathroom attached to my office, purple to go with the light green tiles. I never thought I’d be so happy about towels, but it’s nice to have some control over things getting to a finished state there, the last big thing in that bathroom is getting a pair of towel bars installed.

I got to play with my GPD Pocket some this week too. I fiddled with xrandr a bit to get a startup script that adjusts my resolution. While I absolutely appreciate the high resolution that it supports when I plug it into a monitor, 1920×1200 is simply too tiny for a 7″ screen. I used cvt to grab the mode lines, and now run xrandr upon boot to add a couple more reasonable resolutions to my display and then set it to 1280×800. Even at that resolution I find myself bumping up the font size in some applications, but it’s working well for me.

So well, in fact, that I’ve written this entire blog post in a tiny American Airlines coach seat on my GPD Pocket. Finally a solution for in flight computing that works for me again! I used to travel with my little pink Dell Mini9, I loved that netbook. But the age of the netbooks is behind us, and since my Mini9 stopped holding a charge, I’ve been searching for a new solution. These coach seats are too small for me to use my regular ThinkPad, especially when the person in front of me reclines their seat. I’ve tried a few variations of Android tablets, and even my phone, with a nice Lenovo bluetooth keyboard, but the mobile experience is horrendous for everything, even replying to emails in any long format way. Plus, I lack the proper Linux environment I’m familiar with for any real work. Normally I’d just shell into one of my servers for that, but on airplane WiFi, that option is more frustrating than compelling. The keyboard on the GPD Pocket leaves much to be desired for writing a lot, but it has been quite usable so far. I’m also happy with the battery life so far on this little device, I’ve been running it with basic use and WiFi for over an hour now and it claims to only be down to 90%, though we’ll see long term how that goes.

As I mentioned, my time in California is sandwiched between trips to Philadelphia, where I’m flying to now. I’ll be there for a week, getting a bed delivered, taking the car in for a checkup, overseeing some work by a local handyman. I’ll also be visiting with some people, MJ is joining me on Thursday, and on Saturday I’m giving a talk at FOSSCON before we’re flying home on Sunday for a couple days. It should be a good week.

The townhouse and the container

You may recall this photo from a couple weeks ago when we were in Philadelphia:

In the midst of that chaos is my desk that I actually was working from each day. As I mentioned then, we spent the time we were in town last time to go through specific totes to pull out everything we wanted to leave at the townhouse, and prepare to ship everything else out west. As a second home, we’re keeping a very limited selection of things there, preferring to keep most at the house in California, or at least in storage we own nearby.

This trip we just returned from was focused on getting the container loaded up to ship out to California. We had the container dropped off in our driveway on Saturday, the same day we got into town, had movers come on Monday to pack everything in, and then saw it off on Wednesday. With that, our major project of the week was complete, and the den that had been packed to the ceiling with stuff was suddenly available to fully use! No more work conference calls surrounded by boxes! The room needs some work before it’s properly finished, but right now I’m just happy to have space available, and not to be stepping through a hallway of boxes to settle in to my desk for the day.

It really was a lot of stuff, I was very happy when it fit inside the single container. We also included a mattress that had been in the guest room, which meant we needed to go shopping for a new one. We decided to go with a queen size so we only have queen size beds in Philadelphia. Some shuffling of sheets and comforters resulted as well. Finally, we ordered an actual bed for the guest room, which is a step above the basic metal frame we had in there previously. The bed is scheduled for delivery and assembly when I’m in town again at the end of the month. I also met with a couple gardeners to see if they could help with our small plot outside, as my current condition and then arrival of the little one next year will impact our ability to do it ourselves for a while. Fingers crossed that something positive comes from that.

I am relieved to have the big container project behind us. There is the matter of unpacking in California, but I that’s a future problem and not one I had to worry about last week. There is still have a bit of work to do at the townhouse, including painting the walls, but we’re slowly getting there and though we kept busy all week, it was relaxing for me to get the big project out of the way early in the trip rather than having it drag on until we had a flight to catch.

There weren’t any grand adventures this visit, but the visit did allow me to have meals with a couple of my local friends, including Crissi who I hadn’t seen since last year, and a couple meals with family. The only day I took off was from work Monday for the move and cleanup, so the rest of my week was pretty much spent on work. It was nice to settle into a bit of a normal routine there and get to appreciate it at a home instead of a project that needs constant attending to. I was able to find some time to finish a book and watch a bit of TV one night when we ordered in pizza. It was a good week.

Sonoma and San Francisco

One of the great things about having a house instead of a tiny condo is how much easier it is for guests to visit. We’ve had a handful of friends come by already this year, but a couple weeks ago my Uncle Dan and his new wife Jovie came into town and stayed with us – our first family visit at the new house! They kept themselves busy throughout the week with visits to San Francisco, a surprise jaunt to Las Vegas, and a trip north to visit the redwoods and drive along the coastline. The first weekend they were in town we spent it showing off our favorite spots in Sonoma and the areas in San Francisco that were easier to see by car.

All four of us at Queen Wilhelmina’s Tulip Garden in San Francisco

After a local breakfast on Saturday, we made the trek up to Sonoma. This made for my second visit to wine country since learning I was pregnant! Just like the last time, a few sips here and there at tastings were fine, but I was cautious to keep my total consumption to below a half a glass. As an aside, going from drinking being a regular part of my life to near abstinence hasn’t been a challenge for me, but it sure is disappointing to visit my favorite wineries and not dive in like I usually do!

Still, Glen Ellen up in Sonoma is beautiful. We enjoyed visiting Benziger for their extended tram tour and to show off where we got engaged, Imagery to expose my family to the experience that is Code Blue (wine made with blueberries), and a stop at B.R. Cohn for an olive oil tasting (I can do that!). For dinner we ended up at Umbria. Umbria is a special place for us. It spent 21 years at 2nd and Howard in San Francisco, putting it on the same block where we lived. Citing increasing costs of doing business in SF, they closed up shop in May of 2017. We were there for their last night of business, where there were lots of tears and hugs, but hope as their plans to move to Glen Ellen were already in the works. They opened up in Glen Ellen in August. It was nice to show up and have Chef Giulio recognize us as he welcomed us to their new location. The menu hadn’t changed much so I was able to order my usual (Da Mayor’s Special – half a piece of eggplant parmigiana and half a piece of lasagna). It was as delicious as we remembered.

Sunday we were off to explore the western and northern edges of San Francisco. We started off with brunch overlooking the ocean at the Cliff House. From there, we went to the San Francisco Zoo. It had been several months since I’ve been there, so it was nice to see our favorite tiger parents Leanne and Larry (together again! parents again soon?), as well as their daughter Jillian who we saw grow up at the San Francisco Zoo before temporarily going to Sacramento. We also got to visit my favorite sea lions, Silent Knight and Henry, and lots of fluffy lemur piles. It was a good day for the zoo visit, a bit foggy but perfect weather for walking around. Our day then took us over to Golden Gate Park for a visit before heading back toward the heart of the city.

The weather was clear enough on the east side of the city to make a drive up Twin Peaks worth it. Even having lived here for over eight years, I never get tired of the view of San Francisco from up there.

San Francisco, as seen in many car commercials

We then made our way down Market into the Castro, and then north to Crissy Field for some pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge from the south side. A stop by the Palace of Fine Arts concluded our San Francisco side adventure for the day and we made our way across the bridge to Marin county for some more bridge views and a dinner at Murray Circle Restaurant.

I had a few more meals with them throughout the week, but largely they were able to explore the area on their own as we got back to work on Monday. The visit concluded with brunch in Alameda before they made their way to the airport the following Saturday.

Aside from the family visit, there hasn’t been much other excitement lately. I’ve been busy with work and doctors visits related to the pregnancy, and first trimester exhaustion hit me pretty hard. I struggled through every day for over a month, so my weekday evenings tended to be uneventful. Still, I made progress on a few things. I tired of all of MJ’s shoes still being packed so I ordered and put together a bamboo shoe rack for our closet the other day. The CPU fan in my desktop has also been quite irritating for months now, and the CPU itself was running a bit hot. A couple months ago I replaced the 8 year old thermal paste, which dropped it a few degrees, but the whining of the fan got to be a bit too much. I swapped it out for a $15 fan I got on Amazon and the system is now reliably running 10C cooler. As you can see, Caligula helped with both the shoe rack assembly and the computer.

This week we’re in Philadelphia again to get one of those residential moving and storage containers packed with furniture, household items, and other goodies we want to ship out to California for varying degrees of usage and storage at the house there. Soon, the den that I work from when I’m here will no longer be full of boxes! We’re also visiting several friends while in town, so it should be a nice week for us, especially once the container is on its way.

The first trimester

This post should definitely begin with the big news, we’re expecting! The due date is at the end of January.

As if moving into a big house outside the city and buying that 3-row SUV wasn’t a big enough indicator, we had been trying. We were thrilled when that plus sign showed up on the home pregnancy test. The first ultrasound at 8 weeks confirmed it and made everything real, so we were able to break the news to family over the 4th of July. I’ve had two more ultrasounds since then, and during both them little one was awake and bouncing around. It’s an incredibly surreal experience, there’s something living in there! Since I’m over 35 (I’ll be 37 when I give birth) we’ve opted for some additional screening tests, but so far everything is going well.

The first thing I did upon learning was call around to find an OBGYN who was closer to home and accepting new patients to schedule that first confirmation exam at 8 weeks. It felt a little weird waiting several weeks for a doctor to confirm what the home pregnancy test indicated, but since they’re incredibly accurate on the positive side, we were quite sure I was pregnant and acted accordingly. The second thing I did was start reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know and the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, all of which had been recommended by an OBGYN we met with in San Francisco a couple years ago.

The books were incredibly helpful, especially “Expecting Better” which not only had a lot of fascinating facts around pregnancy “rules” and statistics, but also implored the reader to continue to think critically about information they are given when they’re pregnant. There’s a lot of paranoia, old wives’ tales, and outright misinformation around pregnancy, but as a first time mother you also want to make sure you’re not doing something that will endanger the fetus. Balancing this is stressful. I feel like this book gave me permission to be my skeptical self and do my own research before bowing to fear and tradition. There’s also a lot of probability involved in many decisions during pregnancy, so you are well within your rights to make the best decisions for your life and family, even if they’re not the right decisions for everyone. These books also allowed me to speak intelligently with my doctor about what I wanted, ask all the right questions, and push back when I felt advice was unclear or contradictory.

Reading about the first trimester symptoms was helpful too. I’d heard stories about morning sickness, but I had no idea about the flood of emotions due to major hormone changes or the level of exhaustion I’d have to endure. Thankfully my “morning sickness” usually hits me in the late afternoon or evening, so I’m able to front-load my work day so I can be productive all day before I get too sick or tired. It means household tasks slip as my evenings are taken from me, but making it through my work day has to be the priority now. I also suddenly want ice cream all the time, which is unusual, and frozen custard is off the menu as it now tastes like it’s gone bad (sour cream and cream cheese are in a similar, though it’s less severe).

Dealing with emotions have been trickier (and led me to pick up a 4th book, Understanding Your Moods When You’re Expecting). I’m usually a pretty chill person and being tired has traditionally been the only thing that triggered bad moods for me. Now I’m seeing that feelings related to loneliness (compounded by limited energy to socialize), worry, sadness, and insecurity are hitting me hard. In one instance this resulted in crying over a dead baby deer on the side of the road, which is so uncharacteristic of me that it was a little scary. Another was a weepy call to my aunt where I proclaimed “I’m not used to having feelings!” She laughed. I did too, eventually.

What the books did not prepare me for was how isolating this all would be. I’ve always struggled with maintaining close relationships with people, some of this is just being a loner by nature, but I think it’s mostly because I’ve constantly invested my time in my work (both paid and volunteer). I believed it was a better and more fulfilling investment of my time, and has certainly led to professional success. But professional success is hard to cling to during a very personal life change, especially when I realized that day to day I’ve surrounded myself with other child-free adults. Thankfully I did have one friend who I told early because I knew she’d be supportive and full of non-judgmental help. I didn’t reach out to her very often, but she was indeed very helpful when I did, and just knowing I had someone I could talk to was a relief.

Announcing the pregnancy this week this has already helped with the isolation. I can’t express how grateful I’ve been to friends who are parents and have reached out to me. I wasn’t there to support them during their parenthood journey, but they have come out of the woodwork to support me. They’ve helped with practical concerns, as well as the “Am I a terrible person for…” questions (tip: the answer is always “no” along with a healthy dose of sympathy and kindness).

As the first trimester winds down I’m having fewer nauseous days, so I’m hoping that goes down to zero soon. My energy hasn’t picked up yet, but hopefully that will come around soon too. I told my employer recently and informed conferences I’m (still!) giving keynotes at this fall, and everyone has been kind and supportive. The concerns over changes to our life and apprehension around being responsible for a new person are still there, but I’m sure we’ll be fine thanks to some great friends and family.