Tag: Life Update

Travel, Conferences and Other Work

While updating my expired ssl certificate, I realized I haven’t posted here since just after the first of the year. What have I been doing in all that time?


According to TripIt, I’ve traveled 30 out of 78 days of 2013 to 9 cities and 2 countries. That’s 38% of my time spent away from home. Most of it has been work travel, including trips to Mozilla Mt. View and SF offices as well as Madrid to meet with Geeksphone and Telefonica. While I was in Spain, I was able to wander a bit and take some photos, including of the Angel Caido:

Monumento del Ángel Caído

Mother Daughter Vacation

Early in March, Sherri and I took our mothers to Hawaii. This was extremely special for me and I’m so grateful we were able to make it happen. Those of you who know me well know that my mother and I have had a long journey together, one during which we have not always been close. What I learned on this trip is that love is less about staying connected 100% of the time and more about doing the hard work to find each other again when connection is lost.

Mothers and Daughters

If you want to see photos from the trip, here are mine and here are Sherri’s.

Mozilla, Conferences and Other Community Work

Life at Mozilla continues to be hectic as we work on launching Firefox OS. I’m thrilled that we’ll developer phones will soon be available for us to distribute (and for the public to buy).

Another key reason I’ve been quiet here is that January and February was consumed with a lot of Syndicate tasks. Kirsten and I worked to finish transitioning the role of treasurer from me to her and we also completed and submitted our IRS 1023 form (application for tax-exempt status) and other tax paperwork. I can’t express what a relief it is to finally be caught up on many of these tasks.

At the same time, I’ve been helping to plan Barcamp Portland,  the Open Source Day at this year’s Grace Hopper conference as well as Open Source Bridge.

In the middle of all that, I managed to re-work our OSCON tutorial on event planning into a 30 minute talk for this year’s PyCon US (video). I had a great time giving the talk and attending the conference in general. PyCon organizers and volunteers do a great job making their speakers feel welcome and prepared. Thank you!

Health, Home and Caretaker Duties

Sherri and I are still struggling to stay on top of all the duties caring for ourself, her mom, our six animals and two houses entail.

Maintaining Mom’s health requires constant attention and frequent medical appointments. We are taking her for bloodwork and a port flush every two weeks (but not at the same time). Despite therapy, she continues to need blood transfusions about every six weeks (and this is an all day affair). And then there are her regular medical checkups.

When you combine this with the bodywork Sherri needs to manage her chronic pain, and my weekly allergy clinic visits, I feel like one or the other of us is nearly always running off to an appointment. Meanwhile, I feel guilty every time I realize that all six of the pets are behind with their own annual medical check-ups.

However, slowly we are figuring out how to make things work. This includes learning when and how to call in and build extra support and when to take breaks and practice self-care. Even thought it’s difficult, I don’t regret where we are now.

Next Couple of Months

It’s not going to get any less busy until at least late summer. Barcamp is less than two weeks away. By the time that event concludes, we’ll be in full planning for Open Source Bridge. I’ll have some more work travel coming up, although I’m still working out the details. Events that I am planning to attend are Write the Docs (April), AdaCamp and Open Source Bridge (both June), World Domination Summit and OSCON (both July), and Grace Hopper (October).  If you’re planning to attend any of these, let me know so we can meet up!

Oh, and if I can managed to get in to the allergy clinic on time I might actually finish the building phase of my immunotherapy.

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2013

Last week I posted my review of 2012. This post talks about what I’m looking forward to about 2013.

Settling in to Our New House

We were completely done moving into the new house by the end of October, but we’re far from being completely settled in. Our two spare rooms have stacks of unpacked boxes. My half of the home office is setup, but we’ve barely started on Sherri’s half and there are stacks of stuff to be sorted all over the place. That said, the rooms that are setup are looking awesome. Oh, and I’m very much looking forward to our first Spring and Summer here so we can see what blooms in the yard. Hopefully we’ll be able to plant a veggie garden this year as well.

Making Progress on My Asthma and Chronic Cough

Moving to the Pacific Northwest has not been great for my health. A short-while after moving to Portland, I started experiencing severe respiratory allergies (to dust mites and mold) and an increase in asthma symptoms. In fact, my symptoms were so slight prior to moving to Portland, I didn’t even know I had asthma or allergies! The allergies manifest mostly as congestion and decrease in breathing ability. I’ve also developed an unshakable cough. I’ve seen nearly a dozen doctors and specialists in the process of treating my cough. Together, we’ve ruled out pretty much every cause aside from allergic sinusitis/rhinitis, asthma and a slight predisposition towards respiratory infection. In a way, that’s a good thing. I don’t have lung disease or a serious viral, bacterial or fungal infection. (Did you know you can get a fungus ball in your lungs?). What I do have is difficult to control asthma and an immune system overreacts to two allergens that are, unfortunately for me, ubiquitous in this climate.

Having exhausted most other options, I started immunotherapy last month. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) is a treatment for allergies where you receive a series of injections of the very proteins you are allergic to (e.g. dust, mold, insect stings, pollen; it doesn’t work for food allergies). The injections start out at a low concentration, and increase gradually over several weeks. Know one knows exactly why allergy shots work, but we do know that they fundamentally change how a person’s body responds to allergens and reduces its response over time.

I’ll admit to not feeling a lot of optimism that this treatment would have an effect. I’ve tried a number of different medications over the last couple of years and nothing has made more than a dent in my cough. However, my pessimism seems to be unfounded. The allergy shots are already giving me quite a bit of relief. My sinuses are clearer, my lungs feel better and I’m coughing less.

Now, I’m not out of the woods yet. I still have quite a way to go before immunotherapy is complete. And, my body is so used to coughing at the slightest trigger, that it’s going to take quite some time for it to unlearn that response, even if we completely address what got it going in the first place. Nevertheless, for the first time in a long while I feel some hope about improving this chronic illness. That motivates me to stay on top of my treatment plan and to slowly work in regular exercise.

Getting Regular Exercise

I’ve always had trouble maintaining a regular exercise routine for more than a couple of months at a time. And over the last couple of years, my respiratory issues have made any kind of regular exercise feel impossible.But now I’m making progress on my cough, and so it’s time to get back to regular exercise. My basic plan for this is: home treadmill (we now have a Precor 9.27), fitbit and yoga. I’m particularly excited about the treadmill. Having it in the room next to my home office means I’ll be able to make use of it throughout the day, taking the breaks I should be taking, and won’t have to face the cold, wet Portland winter or a neighborhood completely lacking sidewalks to do so. Plus both Mom and Sherri will be able to use it as well.

Oh, and if you’re a Fitbit user, send me a friend request!

Family Trip to Hawaii

In March, we’re heading to Hawaii with both of our moms. I’m really excited about the opportunity for the four of us to spend time together and get to know each other better. Oh, and if all goes according to plan, our trip will coincide with Dori’s 70th birthday!

Events & Speaking

This year I will continue my involvement in Open Source Bridge, BarCamp Portland as well as the Open Source Day at the Grace Hopper Celebration. I will also be speaking at PyCon, and perhaps a few other conferences (we’re submitted to OSCON again). I’m very much looking forward to all of these events, especially OSB because it’s our 5th year, which I consider an important milestone.

Reconnecting with a Spiritual Community

A number of colliding factors prompted me to stop practicing with our Zen community a few months before Sherri and I got married. I have yet to find another faith community to practice with. In truth, I haven’t been seriously looking. In part this is becuase it’s take a long time to heal from my experiences and I just haven’t been ready. But I think I am now. There’s a Unitarian community in our neighborhood, and I think we’re going to start there and see how things feel.

Seeing Firefox OS Launch

Since switching to my new role on Mozilla’s Technical Evangelism team, I’ve been working exclusively on efforts to get developers involved in Firefox OS. I’m very much looking forward to making more progress towards the successful launch and growth of this initiative.

(Oh, and if you’re a developer, designer, ux, other other techie person and you’re interested in contributing xapps for our Marketplace, get in touch with me. If you know html, javascript and css you can create apps!)

Reading Challenge

In 2012, I set a reading goal for myself of 24 books. Two per month seemed like a perfectly good challenge. Well, I read nearly double that amount. In part this is because I “read” a lot of audiobooks. I do this while walking or doing chores. It’s nice to be able to read when I otherwise wouldn”t be able to. And in some cases, switching between a written book and a spoken book helps me understand the material better (and Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice makes this seamless). In any case, clearly last year’s goal was too conservative, so this year I’m setting a goal of 60. That’s more than one book per week and I’m not sure I can meet it. But it’s important to set reach goals every now and then. Want to join me? Head on over to GoodReads, sign up for your own challenge and send me a friend request.

What about you?

What are you looking forward to in 2013?

My Year in Review: 2012

When I first started thinking about what would go into this year’s, only two words came to mind “good” and “riddance.” In many ways this year has been an awful one, full of new stresses and challenges. But as soon as I started drafting this review, I realized I accomplished a lot and that a lot of good things came out of the turmoil. So instead of saying “good riddance” to 2012, I’m saying “thanks for kicking my butt and making me realize what’s really important in life.”

That said, here are the highlights from Christie’s Twenty-Twelve:

Grew Our Household

Dori poses with the Christmas tree
Dori poses with the Christmas tree.

By which I mean that Sherri’s mom came to live with us permanently. Starting in January a series unfortunate events occurred in Mom’s life. As a result her health declined dramatically. She was not thriving in the retirement community where she was living. We were spending a lot of time driving out to East County on the weekends to check on her and then worrying about her during the days in between. We realized we could do a lot more if we saw her every day. We decided to ask her to come live with us, and she said yes. It was quite a journey getting to where we are now (more on that later). But now that we’re here, I know absolutely it was the right decision. Mom’s health has stabilized. She’s looking better, she’s feeling better and is more alert. Living together ultimately means that we are getting more quality time together as a family, for which I am amazingly grateful.

Bought a House (My First)

View from the deck of our new house.
View from the deck of our new house.

When we decided to invite Mom to come live with us, it came with the recognition that our current house was simply not suitable for her in terms of available space or accessibility. Plus Sherri’s daily commute from North Portland to Wilsonville was becoming unsustainable in terms of time and wear and tear on Sherri’s body. As last as July I remained convinced that we didn’t have enough of our ducks in a row to move, let alone buy a house. However, someone very wise told me that I just had to envision myself in a new place and that the ducks would align themselves. Sounds pretty woo-woo, I know, but it worked. I came home that day and told Sherri I was emailing the real estate agent and mortgage broker to whom we’d been referred. The fifth or sixth house we viewed was the one. I’ll never forget turning to Sherri and saying “this is it; we’re making an offer.” It was like falling in love. If I had know how much back and forth we’d go through in the coming weeks, I might have gone running and screaming from the property instead. But, we made it through and closed in mid-September and moved in shortly thereafter. I still think every day how lucky I am that we found this house and that we were able to buy it.

Completed Year One at Mozilla

Firefox Doughnuts
Firefox Doughnuts at this year’s Winter Coder’s Social.

My first year at Mozilla was certainly not without disappointments or difficulties. However, I’m still finding it worthwhile and am excited about my new role on the Technical Evangelism team working primarily on Firefox OS over the next year and beyond.

Won an Award

O'Reilly Open Source Awards
With Sarah and Edd at the O’Reilly Open Source Awards.

To my great delight and honor, O’Reilly presented me with an Open Source Award for demonstrating “exceptional leadership, creativity, and collaboration in the development of Open Source Software.”

Attended, Organized and Spoke at Some Tech Events

Me speaking during our tutorial at OSCON.
Me speaking during our tutorial at OSCON.

I think I participated in handful of events this year, as attendee, organizer and sometimes speaker. Chronologically, they were (and yes, I’m having to reference my calendar to write this):

Organized Code ‘n’ Splode & Women Who Hack

This year I continued organizing Code ‘n’ Splode and also founded a new group called Women Who Hack. Women Who Hack is similar to CnS, but takes a different approach to supporting women and genderqueer folks working in tech. Our meetings are held on weekends, are less structured and impose a more restrictive attendance requirement (men are not welcomed to attend). So far attendance for the group has been good and feedback has been positive.

Had Some Travel Adventures

Jackson Square & St. Louis Cathedral
Jackson Square & St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, LA.

This year I traveled more than I have in year’s past. Mostly this was due to many trips to the Bay Area and other places (Scottsdale, Baltimore) as part of my work with Mozilla. But, Sherri and I also managed to take two big trips together (Orlando and New Orleans) as well as a weekend trip to Bend, Oregon for my birthday.

Read Many Books

2012 Reading Challenge Results (as of 28 December)
2012 Reading Challenge Results (as of 28 December)

I plan to do a whole post about the books I read in 2012, so here I’ll just mention that I blew away my reading goal of 24 books by reading almost double that. You can see all of the books I read on my Goodreads challenge page. (And if you’re a Goodreads user, send me an invite!)

Saved Money, Paid off Debts

Thanks to mine and Sherri’s generous tech salaries, 2012 was a good year financially, despite the ongoing uncertainty in the greater economy. I paid off the last of my student loans, financed a newer (used) car at a good rate, saved 10% of my salary, and bought a house. I am proud of myself for accomplishing these things, but I also recognize that I am extremely fortunate to have the job that I do and to be paid what I am for doing that job.

Those were the highlights of my 2012. Stay tuned for a post about how 2013 is shaping up and what I’m looking forward to most.

On legions, syndicates, bridges and other projects

Holy sleep deprivation, Batman, I have been busy! My last life-update-type blog entry was a month ago and it feels like three.

A few weeks ago I made weekend trip to the Bay Area to visit and catch up with some dear friends, including my brother Will. I got to see the house that my friends purchased last year (their first), was treated to some awesome homemade vegan chili, and also got to visit many fine felines. Oh, and the weather was fantastic, as in mid-70s. So nice to have a break from Portland’s grey chill, even if I did come back with half a dozen mosquito bites.

Armstrong the Royal Cat
Armstrong the Royal Cat

Thanksgiving was really nice. Sherri and I spent it here in Portland and hosted for the first time as a married couple. About a dozen people participated, including ourselves. Sherri and I prepared an entire Thanksgiving spread ourselves, and then each of the guests brought something as well, so there was plenty of food and many leftovers. Having a long weekend to do not much of anything was really nice. As is our new tradition, Sherri and I went to the Red Cross on Black Friday to donate blood. My donation and recovery went much better this time. I delivered my pint a bit slower this time, which might have had something to do with it (5.5 minutes instead of 4.5). We also managed, somehow, to watch the first six Harry Potter movies. This was done in preparation of seeing the seventh, which we plan to catch in the theater soon.

I’ve been very focused at work developing a new feature set that we’re releasing next month. The office is getting more and more crowded as we continue to hire. I’ve been trying to go in earlier to get some work in before the din really gets going. Pretty soon I’m going to need to upgrade my headphones to some noise-cancelling ones. All in all, I’m finding life at this startup to be manageable, which I’m thankful for. Though I still can’t decide if introducing the office to nerf gun warfare was a good idea or not.

ShopIgniter Card, Front
Our ShopIgniter business cards arrived from the printer last month

Another bit of news this week is that Legion of Tech announced a resolution to last year’s embezellment. I’ve put in a considerable amount of time over the last couple of months working toward closure on the situation, so it feels good to have it finally wrapped up.

The Stumptown Syndicate is now up and running. We’ve filed articles of incorporation, have a PO Box and a bank account. This allowed us to open registration for Open Source Bridge, months earlier than we ever have been able to before. We still have a lot of work to do on the Syndicate (bylaws, strategic planning, fundraising, etc.), but just getting the organization up and running in a bare-bones sense feels really good.

Work on the house continues. The contractors wrapped up just before Thanksgiving (yay!). We’ve picked out paint, in lots of colors, all no-VOC paint from Yolo Colorhouse that we purchased from Ecohaus. We have all the painting supplies (sand paper, brushes, rollers, tarps). Now all we need to do is paint! Oh, and we’ve managed to pull up the carpet from two rooms (my office and living room).

In between other projects, I’ve started scanning old photographs. This is one of my favorites:

Christie with Mom, circa 1983
Christie with Mom, circa 1983

I think I’m around 3 years old in that photo. My mom looks so, so young. I’m older now (by more than a few years) than she was in this photograph.

BarCamp, Home Insulating, and Rainbows

I keep thinking I should write here and then realized I don’t really have the energy to do so. The last month has been incredibly business, with lots of community activities, some pretty heavy deadlines at work and major home improvements.

Perhaps the most time consuming community activity was running BarCamp Portland 4, which took place at the end of October. Despite being exhausted, I had a really good time and the event went really well. I got to try out a few new facilitation techniques that I learned at the “Art of Presentations” class I took in early October at Portland Center Stage. Attendance wasn’t as great as at previous BarCamps, but I think most people had a good time. I only went to one session and it was one that I lead, a Q&A about Legion of Tech. The rest of the time I spent running around answering volunteer’s questions and just hanging out with good people.

Organizers at the end of the day
BarCamp Organizers at the end of the day (photo courtesy @akfarrell)

Planning for Open Source Bridge is now in full swing. I’m co-chairing this year, along with Reid Beels. I’m really excited about this year’s core team, which I think has a great combination of skills and is going to work really well together.

There’s another project Reid, Audrey and I are working on that isn’t quite ready for prime-time, but which I hope to announce soon (hopefully this week).

I’ve also been spending a fair bit of time on Legion of Tech business, including wrapping up some unresolved business from last year and managing board elections.

All this is going on while I’m working at a startup, which has been intense, but manageable. Oh, and I got a small raise in the form of coffee subsidy: we got a fantastic espresso maker for the office. Seriously, it’s fantastic. I wish I had a photo of it to include in this post.

On the home-front, things have been a bit chaotic as well. During the summer, we applied for EcoTrust’s Clean Energy Works program. Our house qualified and work began last week. We have a storage pod in our driveway, and our living/dining rooms as well as my office are nearly empty. The insulation team has been drilling giant holes in our walls and filling the space with cellulose insulation. Once they finish up, the plaster team will remove the old wallpaper and paint and then repair the holes. Sherri has been amazing through this process and has really been doing the most of the work coordinating with the contractors and doing the majority of the packing. That’s really nice for me since these things really stress me out. I did manage to pack most of the office, however, which you can see below.

Prep for Home Insulation
Prep for Home Insulation

November is VeganMoFo, the Vegan Month of Food. Sherri has been writing a vegan food blog for sometime now and we’d talked several times about moving it, along with her other blog, from blogger to a WordPress installation on my server. Vegan MoFo gave us the incentive to get it done for the start of November. We bought a copy of the Thesis WordPress theme framework and Sherri and I have been working together to skin the re-named food blog Vegan Nosh. I think it turned out really well. This weekend I updated my personal homepage from an outdated WordPress installation to a single, static page. Since I have no plans to start freelancing again any time soon, I took down the now defunct CK Web Development blog and put up a static page there directing people to my homepage.

Vegan Nosh
Vegan Nosh

Phew! I’m getting exhausted just talking about it all.

But, it hasn’t been all work. Sherri and I have managed to spend some quality downtime together amid the madness and enjoy the beautiful Autumn we’re having.

Crisp Autumn Morning
Crisp Autumn Morning

And we’ve even managed to catch a few rainbows.

Amazingly Bright Rainbow
Amazingly Bright Rainbow