Goodbye OSCON! See you next year!

It was an amazing week at OSCON – so many great people to meet and share ideas with, both people I’d never met (some who knew me!) and plenty of old friends. Unfortunately I missed traveling out early to attend the Community Leadership Summit, a mistake I will not repeat next year – I’ll see folks there!

While my OSCON talk submissions on brand didn’t quite make the cut (they had an amazing number of great CFP submissions), I was lucky enough to present an OSCON Ignite 5-minute talk on Why your project’s brand is more important than the code, or BRAND > CODE. Since the slides for the 5 minute talk (they auto-advance every 15 seconds) are mostly graphics, I’ve posted my BRAND > CODE script as well.

Oh, hey, OSCON Ignite videos are already up – yay!

Giving the talk was great, but what was even better was the number of people who have come up during the conference who mentioned they liked it and/or that it opened their eyes to thinking about the bigger story that your project tells to the world.

Hope to see some more folks when I get to speak at ApacheCon Europe this November in Budapest – the conference schedule is now posted! And I’m hoping to be speaking at OSCON again next year as well!

Weekend Report: Thanksgiving Families

(Yes, I still have ApacheCon blog postings to finish; I’m waiting on a friend to supply some graphics-fu before I wrap those up with a bang.)

The Thanksgiving week started out in a Murphy-esque way after we all arrived back home from our respective trips. The day after I stopped taking Airborne, I got a cold, which was quite a doozy on Wednesday. Luckily, we weren’t planning to travel far.

Thanksgiving day my lovely wife Amy volunteered to do the cooking and watch Roxanne, allowing me to sleep in and feel a bit better. We spent the traditional Thanksgiving locally with my mother, stepfather, stepbrother and his beau. Although my stepfather has been seriously ill, we made it through Thanksgiving with all traditions intact, if a little more tired than usual.

My mother’s traditional Thanksgiving is pretty familiar, with a couple of twists. The good white wine goes with cheeses, crackers, and crudite. The only requirements – besides good wine – is that one of the cheeses is blue, the stuff with mold in it. I lucked out and picked a wine that went perfectly with my light french blue (on the gorgonzola side). With the TV on the in background, there’s the traditional half-hourly dashes to the oven to baste the turkey and set the next side dish into motion. I usually help with the gravy, and then do the mashed potatoes as everyone else takes care of a vegetable.

Our biggest twist is the addition of sauerkraut, steeped with the turkey neck, as a side dish. It’s a surprisingly good counterpoint to the white meat, and comes from the tiny bit of Germanic blood in our background. Dinner is simple, and is accompanied by the good red wine. Everyone got through dinner fine, Roxanne even with unscathed clothes after deciding that the best use for cranberry sauce is to spread like jelly on the cranberry bread.

After the cleanup and finishing of one of the football games, we have coffee with the traditional pecan and chocolate mousse pies. Yes, I actually like pumpkin better, but my stepfather’s dark chocolate mousse pie has been a staple since I don’t remember when.

Friday we drove a couple of hours to spend a night with Amy’s family in CT. This is always great, because her parents use this as an excuse to have everyone else over, including their kids – all close in age, and (usually) all who play together for a while, leaving us a little bit of time to catch up. The dinner was, of course, traditional – turkey sandwiches. Hot or cold as you decided on microwaving with gravy (or not, with homemade cranberry sauce) yourself.

The highlight of this trip was bringing Lucas, our beloved Siamese cat, home again. He had been staying with family for a few weeks since we had both been traveling previously, and he’s a very social guy. He took the trip just fine, but I sense that he’s still a little miffed for having been sent away for a couple of weeks, since he’s still not purring nearly as much as he usually does. Siamese can hold a grudge for quite a long time…

Sunday was fairly productive in getting the house ready for winter, and trying to face up to going back to work in the face of only XX more shopping days until the midwinter holidays. Hope everyone had a good trip, wherever they went! (Or didn’t go, for those of you working a normal week and not succumbing to the odd colonial America holiday!)

I came home to do the dishes

Well, not really, but if felt like that for a moment. Spent the past couple of days in lovely (if humid) Austin, the city that just happens to be surrounded by Texas, but is not in Texas (as a co-worker said). It was actually a lot of fun with half of my whole team at work – good brainstorming, and great food.
We also followed V’s recommendation for a movie at a nifty dinner-and-a place, where you can order food and drinks in your movie seat. The menu wasn’t huge, but had some really interesting stuff, including a decent port, a $5 super milkshake, and some very nice champagne (as a split). Oddly enough they didn’t have much popcorn on the menu.
We saw Eastern Promises, which sort of falls into the category of movies that I’m glad I’ve seen, but really don’t ever want to see again. The cinematography and acting were excellent – at being dark and foreboding. I think it was the brief but ultra-realistic violence that was the turnoff – plus the basically depressing mood that gets set throughout.
Vigo Mortensen and Naomi Watts were both great. You could almost even list the nude Vigo scene as a bonus to the movie (for people who’d find that interesting) except for the aftermath of the scene, which is definitely not very fun. All in all, it’s worth seeing on video someday if you want a dark and moody Russian mafia film.
Oh, and yes, it was me that got the outbound JetBlue flight free movies. Silver Surfer was playing, which I wanted to see but I knew few others who would. But my credit card wouldn’t work in my seatback video screen – nor in my seatmate’s screen. Luckily, she was a JetBlue pilot deadheading, and was nice enough to bargain with the flight staff – who had already heard of problems with purchasing movies – to give the whole plane free movies.
Oh, and Silver Surfer again is a movie you should see on video if you really liked the Fantastic 4. Otherwise, skip it. Pretty simplistic, although he was fairly shiny throughout.

Oh, and as is often the case, going to my meeting was a lot of fun. But coming home was just as nice, especially to a nice home-cooked dinner and some stories of what Roxanne had been doing while I was gone. That included drawing out a (recognizeable!) scene from The Big Hungry Bear, and learning to type her own name. And then after dinner, I got to do the dishes. Ah, back to normal life.

Mainely Statistics

It’s almost a shame that MasterCard has made the list-of-statistics schtick priceless – but it’s still a good schtick.

  • Days spent at the cabin in central Maine: 4
  • Door-to-door hours spent driving down home: 3.5 (DD once)
  • Door-to-door hours spent driving up there: 5 (rush hour -duh!, DD twice, Rite Aid once, finding an unlocked window once)
  • Cats brought along for the trip: 1 (Lucas – he loved it!)

  • Number of canoe rides: 3
  • Number of times Roxanne got wet: 3
  • Number of times Roxanne fell out of the canoe: 1 (while the canoe was still half on the beach, mind you. Still got my heart racing though.)
  • Length of canoe ride after Roxanne got wet: 15 minutes (she insisted on still going out, even though soaked.)

  • Minutes drive to the nearest paved intersection: ~ 10
  • Times we all drove anywhere: 3
  • Surfaces of car splashed by mud puddles: all 6

  • Books read, each adult: 2
  • Worthwhile books read, each: 0
  • Beds slept in: 3
  • Frogs caught: 2 (unrelated to any beds)

A Milestone Weekend

Much of this Labor Day long weekend has been the stuff that memories are made of, but that makes for bad stories. It was the classic relaxing, enjoying, eating, visiting, good weather, lots of fun and just enough naps kind of time that you wish would last longer, and want to talk all about until you remember that listening (or reading) about that kind of stuff is dull. Unless you were there, and then you smile. And remember the excellent food – too much of it. And then remember that you’re going to have to go back to your regular workout soon.
The milestone was separate, although it did have to do with traveling. We were in CT staying with family, and had finished dinner and were saying good byes to the other dinner guests who came over as well. Then, it happened. One minute, we were all saying our goodbyes and Roxanne was giving hugs, and the next minute she was gone! Toothbrush, spare diaper, and “baby doll” in hand. she had accepted aunt Susan’s incautious offer for a sleepover, and we were suddenly alone.
Well, the in-laws were still there – it’s their house! – but we were alone as we’ve never been for nearly 3 years. This was her first sleepover ever, and it all happened on a whim of Susan’s. She asked, Roxanne said yes in a matter of fact way, and there it was.
I guess the metaphor (that I’m far too tired to awaken from my fingers at the moment) is all about how parents so much aren’t in charge, and how it’s often a surprise when the children are ready for something before the parents are.

It was great, by the way. We stayed up late watching cable (we don’t watch TV at home), and the only unfortunate thing was that I, Robot was the best thing on. We slept in a little bit late, and then helped to make breakfast in an oddly quiet house. Given the sleeping arrangements, I hardly even noticed, except for a small empty something that was missing in my brain.
Oh, and she had a great night too, as reported by Susan. Got ready for bed, slept on the special bouncy air mattress in her cousin’s room, was fine when she woke up, and even walked the long walk over to grandma’s house where we were staying – nearly late for breakfast too!
All in all a good weekend. Thanks, all!

Lots of exciting stuff I can’t talk about

Actually I probably could talk about the bulk of my experiences at the recent Extreme Blue Expo this week, filing off the details of any confidential business material. But I tend to simply not blog about work issues, so I don’t have to worry about confidential stuff or about what kinds of comments I make about my work.
It was a great Expo though. Expo is the chance for all the Extreme Blue summer interns in the US and Canada to come to the ILC – literally next door to CHQ – and show off their projects. The presentations are typically amazing, and sometimes they’re even better than that. The energy level is high, and it’s both a great business networking day and a whole lotta fun. And almost unbelievably, the weather was nice this year, instead of being the traditional New York hot and humid.
Unfortunately the energy level usually drops after you finish travelling home – even though it was only a 3 1/2 hour drive home, I was pretty wiped out the next day. But it was well worth the trip, and the feedback from all levels of participants was that it was a great event.

Thank you Amy

Thank you for being such a wonderful wife to me, and mother to our child.
No, really, thanks for a wonderful weekend away. Amy called me a Friday afternoon recently, casually asking about our weekend plans. I must have been in a suspicious mood that day, because I thought in the back of my mind she was planning a brunch with her parents, who we’d been meaning to see for ages.
Little did I know that late that night before falling asleep she’d prompted Roxanne to tell me we’d be going to the hotel by the beach! We tried, but Roxanne couldn’t quite get the destination of “Mystic” out, but I understood well enough. Unfortunately it was rather late, so I don’t think I gave her as good a reaction as she expected on my part.
The weather was nearly perfect for the whole weekend, and the trip down was pretty good – straight down I-95 with Roxanne sleeping for a while after our DD lunch. The weather was so right in the middle I ended up getting both a hot and an iced coffee with our sandwiches. Nice contrast.
Arriving, we decided Roxanne would be more interested in the Aquarium, expensive ticket prices notwithstanding. She had a great time watching the whales do some tricks and trying to touch the rays in the pool. I think the highlight was the sea lion show, however. All the glitz and fancy announcers (they’ve gone upscale since I last saw it!) weren’t what she wanted – she spent the whole show staring intently at the performing sea lions on stage. It was one of those experiences where it’s hard to tell how excited she is, unless you’re watching just how intense her gaze is. She even tried to raise her hand to play the game show they do, once she realized the prize was a free ice cream cone.
Our motel was fine, but dinner at Go Fish was great. She didn’t eat all that well, but the fish was just right and the wine flight was certainly pleasant. Sunday didn’t go quite as planned, since she was acting like a 2 year old in the morning, so we never got to go to the beach. We saw dad’s favorite, the submarine museum in Groton, CT. Roxanne was even patient enough for us to walk through the entire USS Nautilus and let me read a few of the signs, which was nice. I tried to get her excited about the periscope display inside the museum – real working periscopes, which you can turn and focus – but that was a little conceptual for her yet.
A necessary detour to Westerly, RI to calm a fussing child strapped into her seat ensued on the way home; other than some serious parking infrastructure issues the damn town has, Roxanne loved the children-only Flying Horse Carousel there, and even after her three rides wanted to stay around just watching the other kids ride. A bag of popcorn and a much needed and surprisingly delicious lemonade saved the day for the long drive home.
One problem with weekends is that they’re too short!