Tag: Life Update

Wrapping up 2016 and planning for 2017

December is always a hard month for me. My sleep schedule is strongly affected by sunlight which is no fun during the dark Pacific Northwest winters. Being tired makes everything else harder. Now that we’ve passed the autumnal equinox and the days are once again getting longer, I feel hope and energy building once again.

What am I doing with that energy and hope?

I’m wrapping up a major open source governance and sustainability research and writing project. This is a client project I’ve been working on since the Spring and I’m very excited to have it nearing completion. I think it’s good, necessary work and I will be finding a way to share it widely in the months to come.

I’m also finalizing the details of my next major professional project. I’m super excited about it. I think it’s a great fit, both for me and for the organization I’ll be working with. I’m looking forward to starting that sometime next month. Full details coming soon!

My priority during the last quarter of 2016 has largely been one of self-care. Putting my oxygen mask on before helping anyone else put on theirs. I spent a good deal of it sick and then recovering from a sinus infection. I slept a lot, as I always do during this time of year. I went heads down to concentrate and wrap up client projects. I completed my second and final (for now) 3-year term on the Stumptown Syndicate board of directors and have handed off my duties to the new board. I secured my next big professional project, and thus an income for our family for the next while.

Now I’m planning what to focus on during the year ahead and how to make progress towards the efforts I mentioned the day after the election in my post Radicalized.

The most important of these efforts, the one which I think encapsulates all the rest is to help build self-reliant, self-sustaining communities.

One of the main ways I feel I can contribute to this is to continue building, practicing, and sharing basic life skills: gardening, carpentry, plumbing, and electrical. If someone in my community is having trouble getting services for their home, either because they are refused or because they can’t afford it, I want to be able to help. If you are in need of help in one of these areas, let me know and we’ll work together to figure it out. If you’re particularly skilled in one of these trades and are local and want to teach me some of what you know, please also get in touch.

Regarding direct community organizing, I’m figuring out what my role should be. I continue to feel worn out from the last several years of organizing Open Source Bridge and other Stumptown Syndicate related activities. And from organizing within the Mozilla community. I continue to struggle to reconcile how vile the tech industry is with how rooted I am in it. It’s not such an easy thing to simply leave the industry which has defined your entire career and adult life.

I’m working through this in a couple of ways.

First, I’m being very deliberate about the tech work that I do engage in and what I expect the result to be. I am no longer looking for a job or an employer to complete me or to serve as a second home for an indefinite period of time. I work on things where my expertise is needed, where I can make a worthwhile contribution in a constrained period of time.

Second, I’m making deliberate efforts to build community unrelated to tech. After some searching, we’ve found a spiritual community (an Episcopalian one) that seems to be a good fit and I’m looking forward to sticking around and seeing where that leads. I have a lot of reservations and conflicting feelings about Christianity, none of which I’ll go into now, but I’ll say this: something in me is rejuvenated each week when we partake in worship. And I need that kind of regular uplift right now.

Third, I’m reading and thinking a lot. I’m reading about labor organizing, systemic racism, social change, etc. I’m using that knowledge to locate myself and ourselves in history. To contextualize where we are at, how we got here, the different ways can respond, and where that might lead us. In addition to wisdom, I’m also looking for glimpses of hope and beauty here and there. I don’t know if I will ultimately do more organizing within tech, or if I will focus on contributing to community outside of tech, or both.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to share what I’m learning, here on the blog, on the Recompiler podcast, and in one-on-one conversations.

I do have a few concrete projects on the schedule for 2017:

  • I’ll continue to produce the Recompiler podcast. My main goals for this year are to continue improving it with consistent weekly publishing, timely content, as well as audio and narrative quality, and to grow its audience.
  • Write and publish a second edition of the Community Event Planning book. We’ve learned a lot since we wrote the first edition. I’d like to include that material as well as more case studies and first-person accounts from many different event organizers.
  • Revise and publish the open source governance research I’ve been working on for a client. Open source projects and their foundations have gained significant prominence over the last 10-20 years, but most people have no idea how they work. Whether you’re an individual contributor, or you’re directly involved in the running of a project, I think this is important knowledge to have.

Finally, I’ve included the following on my project board, in the “art & beauty” category: take photographs, make a quilt, grow flowers.

What about you? What are you working on in 2017?

And 2010 is off to a roaring start

2010 started busy and shows no signs of becoming less buy any time soon.

Job Stuff

I’m now nearly five months into my new job at FINE Design Group. I’ve launch one project for Blackstone Winery and will launch another one shortly. In addition to my programming work at FINE, I’ve also been able to flex my system administration skills, which I has been nice. I’m also about to wrap up my contracting gig, which will be a big relief. It’s been very difficult working these two jobs simultaneously while trying to keep up with my volunteer commitments.

Volunteer Stuff

This year I’m serving on the planning team for the second Open Source Bridge conference, happening here in Portland during the first week of June. This year I am serving as Project Manager and Volunteer Coordinator. The conference went really well last year and I’m very much looking forward to this year’s event. We just opened the Call for Proposals (so get yours in!) and are about to finalize our venue.

Photo courtesy of @turoczy
Photo courtesy of @turoczy

I’m happy to announce that I am now a Legion of Tech Board member! For those who don’t know, Legion of Tech produces free events for the Portland tech community, including BarCamp Portland and IgnitePortland. Part of my duties as board member is to help plan this year’s BarCamp, which will be co-located at the University of Portland with CodeCamp. Very exciting stuff!

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve continued my role on the Communications Committee with the Zen Community of Oregon. We’re working on a new website (design and custom content management system), and really stepping up advertising efforts for our Portland Program.


Sherri and I have started working on the garden for this year. So far we’ve managed to completely clear the blackberries (again) and have one of the raised beds prepared. In fact, last week Sherri started sowing peas at either end of the bed. But this is just a start. We plan to use all four raised beds this year, the entire area around our deck and also to expand last year’s winter squash patch. With luck, we’ll send our un-used hot tub off with a friend and use that space entirely for greens. I also have tentative plans to build a new compost structure.

Blue Beauty

In December, I bought a friend’s 1972 Toyota Corona Mark II. This is definitely a project car. Like any vehicle nearly 40 years old, it needs a lot of work. I’ve wanted to learn more about working with cars for a long time. So, I’m as excited as I am daunted by this particular project. I know I don’t need to do it all myself, however. I think I’ll be working on this a lot more when the weather warms up.

1972 Toyota Corona Mark 2
1972 Toyota Corona Mark II. Yes, the car is older than I am.


I’m not sure where I got the idea, but around Christmas time I started folding paper cranes with the idea to make 1,000 of them. I’m at 62 (hey, I’m 6.2% done). I’ve also been learning how to make some geometric origami structures. I’ll be adding items to my Origami Set on Flickr as I complete them.

Morning Crane
Crane #50 out of 1,000.

The Year in Review: 2009

What did Christie do in 2009? Briefly: I said goodbye to a good friend, moved in with my beloved, got even more involved in the awesomeness that is the Portland tech community, practiced some Zen, and found a new job. For the long version of the above, keep reading…

2009 started out with a quiet weekend trip to Eugene (trip photos). When I tell people that Sherri and I took a mini “vacation” to Eugene I usually get very puzzled looks that tell me Eugene is known to be boring and why would we go there for vacation. But Sherri and I wanted an economical, mellow trip. And we both like college towns. We found a lovely bed and breakfast at which to stay. We explored the campus, including the natural history museum and art galleries. We enjoyed the vegan pizza and playing cards with some of the locals at Sam Bond’s garage. We drank champagne and watched tv in bed. It was a nice way to begin the year together.

Rescuing a Worm
Christie saving a worm from certain death on the Oregon State campus

In February it was revealed that our openly gay Mayor Sam Adams had had a relationship with a teenager before he became mayor (at the time he was a city council member). It’s still not clear what activities did or did not happen before the person in question turned 18. Anti-Adams groups called for his resignation (and now recall). Many more people turned out in support of the Mayor. Sherri and I were two of those people. I’ve never been much of an activist, politically or otherwise. Actually, this was the first rally of any type that I attended. I found it energizing. Adams said later on that he was prepared to resign in light of the scandal, but changed his mind after seeing so many people come out to support him. Participating in the rally made me feel positive about community involvement. It made me realize that my, seemingly inconsequential actions could indead add up to make a difference.

In April, I attended my first weekend workshop at Great Vow Monastery, called “Working with the Inner Critic.” Much of the workshop focused on using voice dialogue to identify and work with the Inner Critic. Rather than banishing the inner critic, we learned techniques for putting what she has to say in context and then making our own decisions, from our true selves. During the workshop, I learned just how much my inner critic, and another very fearful self, hold me back, particularly in my professional life. I found the workshop to be fairly transformative. So transformative, in fact, that I came home and had Sherri help me cut off all of my bleached blonde hair. After nearly a decade of doing crazy things to my hair with chemicals, it was time to just be Christie again.

Less than a month after the Inner Critic retreat, I moved in with Sherri. We’d been planning this move for nearly six months. While I’m finding that home ownership can be overwhelming at times, Sherri and I have slipped into domestic routine very easily. Most of the pre-moving concerns we shared have evaporated under the warmth of being together so consistently. I revel in the simple pleasures of meal-making, playing with the cats and reading together before bed.

This year I spent a lot of time thinking about my own decision to go vegan, how to talk to others about veganism, and how to be a force for positive change towards veganism within my community. I talk a bit about what prompted me to want to be more activist in the blog post “Vegan is More than a Strange Diet.”

In early June, we said goodbye to Atari the Wonder Cat. I miss him still.

Shortly after Atari’s passing and partially in his honor, I got my first tattoo. It’s a flash style heart that says “Vegan” inside of it.

This year I got even more involved in the awesome Portland Tech community. I started to co-lead Code ‘n’ Splode meetings. I participated in a few other user groups like PDXPHP, Ruby Brigade and Javascript Admirers. I volunteered for Legion of Tech events Ignite Portland and BarCamp. Perhaps the highlight was speaking and coordinating the volunteers at the first ever Open Source Bridge in June.

I often travel for my birthday, but this year I decided to stay in Portland. Sherri surprised me with tickets for the musical Rent. I’d never seen the theatrical production before, but had seen the movie and knew the soundtrack by heart. The seats were awesome. We enjoyed strong, tasty cocktails before the show. It was a most excellent evening.

On the weekend after my birthday, Sherri and I traveled to Sacramento to visit with my family. While in the area, we spent a few hours in Davis, where I went to college. We visited the farmer’s market and I gave Sherri a tour of campus. We had a good time despite the fact that it was over 100 degrees that weekend.

Jesse's Memorial Tree
I was surprised at how much Jesse's memorial tree had grown. I almost didn't recognize it.

To celebrate Sherri’s birthday, we spent a week on Hawaii’s Big Island (photos). The trip was somewhat exhausting (we scheduled many activities), but still fantastic. Hawaii is simply gorgeous. I can’t believe all of the native plants we saw: lilies, orchids, mangos, bananas, all growing in the wild. And, I swam in the ocean for the first time (albeit with a life jacket). And with Dolphins! We know we’re going back, and probably this year.

Sherri and I recharge with some shaved ice after a morning spent swimming with dolphins.

During our time in Hawaii I had some downtime to reflect on my freelancing career and decided that upon returning to Portland, I’d start looking for full-time employment. I found a web developer position at an agency here in town within a month. Next week, I will have been there three months! I enjoy where and with whom I work.

A women in our Sangha fosters cats and kittens for OHS. She often posts their photos and progress on Facebook. Shortly before leaving for Hawaii, she posted about two kittens, a tuxedo and a black and white striped tabby. I told Sherri these were my two favorite colorings of cat, and she suggested we go meet them. So we did. And I fell in love right away (they’re kittens after all). We’ve named them Puck and Oberon (from Mid-Summer Night’s Dream). They’re doing very well.

Two new additions to our family: Puck (left) and Oberon.

One of my 2009 goals was to establish a retreat practice. I didn’t manage to make it to a sesshin, but I did attend a Beginner’s Mind Retreat. It was a very good experience. I wouldn’t say it was easy; it wasn’t. Any time you a required to do sitting meditation for 8+ hours a day isn’t going to be easy. But I did notice that I felt at home at the monastery and was able to begin to relax into the container of practice that it provides. I look forward to (if one can look forward to) my first sesshin (week-long silent retreat), which I’m planning for mid-2010.

In October, right after completing my Beginner’s Mind retreat, I received the Five Grave Precepts from my teachers Hogen and Chozen. My mother, step-father, two of my brothers and a number of our friends attended the ceremony and celebration afterwards. I was honored to be supported in this way. Sherri also took Jukai during this same ceremony and it was lovely to share this aspect of practice with her.

Precepts and Jukai Ceremony

I made the tough decision to spend the holidays in Portland, for the first time with Sherri, but away from my family of origin. It was nice to not have to travel, and to get to spend these special days with Sherri and with my Portland community. But it sucks that these good things come at the expense of missing my family and not getting to spend the holidays with them. I envy those who are fortunate enough to see their families more often.

Thanksgiving was quite lovely. Our Sangha holds it’s annual holiday party on Thanksgiving day with a giant potluck out at Great Vow Monastery. This year I think there were at least 70 people, including two friends that came with Sherri and me. At least a third of the dishes that other people brought were vegan (a great improvement over previous years). The residents put on quite a marimba concert. Some of us played a strange board game from the 70s called “Social Security.”

Thankgiving at Great Vow
Thanksgiving at Great Vow. Everyone gathered in a circle for the meal chant.

Christmas was just as lovely, although more low-key. I worked at home on Christmas Eve, knocking off in the early afternoon. Sherri and I stayed at home and open our stockings and gifts on Christmas Eve. Sherri and I both had the week between Christmas and New Year’s day off from work. We spent the time at home working on projects, took a few yoga classes and mostly just rested.

Getting ready to exchange our Christmas gifts

A few days before the end of the year, Portland received a few inches of unpredicted snow. Because we were home already (both having the week off from work), Sherri and I went out to play shortly after it started snowing.

Surprise snow makes Christie happy

This year we opted to stay in for New Year’s Eve. Sherri made a wonderful Japanese food themed feast. I even lent a hand by making some cocoa mochi (turned out okay, but I think I prefer other kinds of mochi).

Sherri preparing burdock root for our NYE feast

Despite the fact that it was a very busy year, we managed some fun day trips. Some of the highlights were Ecola State park and Canon Beach, Lincoln City on Memorial Day weekend, a visit to Kiyokawa Orchards for apple tasting, and a couple of visits to Hood River.


Returning to Full-Time Employment

When I started freelancing over two years ago, I was very excited about my ability to do so. I looked forward to choosing my own work hours, working from wherever I wanted and for whomever I wanted. I envisioned that I’d enjoy the wide variety of tasks required for freelancing: business development, managing client relationships, accounting, etc. Additionally, I thought I’d have the freedom to learn new skills and contribute to side projects.

Freelancing has actually gone fairly well for me. I’ve never been without work (indeed, I seem to find more than I can do). I’ve made a decent living. Being a freelancer allowed me to move from San Francisco to Portland without a disruption in income. I’ve built new skills and have completed some large projects.

But over the last several months I’ve felt a kind of fatigue creep upon me. I never quite feel like I’m off of work. Having my own office space at home and working from coffee shops helps somewhat, but the inconsistency in working environment is also draining. Isolation is also a significant issue. I miss working with people. In particular, I miss working with other developers. Co-working and participating in user groups helps tremendously, but I’ve found that it’s not a substitute for going into the office everyday and working side-by-side with your colleagues.

Perhaps the biggest factor in my decision to return to full-time employment is that I don’t enjoy being a jack-of-all trades as I much as I thought I was going to enjoy it. I don’t particularly care for marketing, business development and accounting. And because I don’t care for those activities all that much, it’s going to be a struggle to become adept at them. I’d rather focus my energies on becoming a better developer and really honing my craft.

All of these thoughts came to mind at the end of August while Sherri and I were in Hawai’i. Apparently there’s nothing like a tropical vacation to put things in perspective. I knew it was time to try something different so I started looking for work as soon as we returned.

The search went well and this week is my last week of full-time freelancing. I’ve accepted a full-time, on-site developer position at FINE Design Group. I start next Monday. I’m pretty thrilled at finding work so quickly and at a company who’s environment I think will suit me well.

So Much Happening in June

Whoa, so the calendar turned over to June and my list of events and todos exploded. Below are some of the things Sherri and I have in the hopper for this month.

(And, yes, I’m referencing my Google Calendar as I write this post. It’s the only way I manage to keep track of everything.)

Open Source Bridge

The Open Source Bridge conference is third week of June and I’m participating in a number of ways. First, I’m speaking. My two talks are titled: Open Source Tools for Freelancers and Re-Factor Your Brain: Meditation for Geeks. Though I have no idea what to expect, I’m excited about giving both of these talks. I love sharing what I know with others, particularly when I’m sharing information that has really helped me. The second talk on meditation is one of the early evening sessions and I’m not sure what the turn out will be. But then I think it doesn’t matter. If only a few folks show up, I’ll have an opportunity to have an even more direct, intimate experience with those people.

In addition to my speaker and attendee role, I’m serving as on-site volunteer coordinator for the conference. This means recruiting and organizing volunteers ahead of the conference and then managing them on-site during the conference. We had a volunteer orientation tonight which was well attended. Tomorrow I’ll be wrangling even more volunteer’s during Lunch 2.0.

Friends and Family

Two really good college friends and one of my brothers are visiting from California at the same time during the second week of June. I’ve seen all three of these people since moving to Portland in 2007, but this will be their first visit here to see me. It’s been hard to live so far from my family and close friends. I’m very much looking forward to seeing everyone and sharing Portland with them. Sherri and I still have boxes everywhere that we have to deal with, but we’re happy to be able to provide a comfy place to stay.

Zen Community Stuff

Originally I had planned to attend my first Beginner’s Mind Retreat this month at Great Vow Zen Monastery. However, once the events and family visits started to pile up, I made the tough decision to postpone until early Fall. But there’s still plenty of ZCO things going on in addition to our weekly group meditation and dharma talks. I’ve been working on a new website for ZCO which we’re hoping to launch this month or early next (after some delay due to me being sick and moving). In addition, we’re having a founder’s dinner and benefit for Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple on June 21st. Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple will be our Portland center. We’ve outgrown the space we share with Dharma Rain at the Portland Dharma Center, so we’re avidly looking for an appropriate property (and avidly raising money for the purchase said property).

Birthday and Sacramento Trip

My birthday is in the fourth week of June. I haven’t quite decided how I would like to celebrate. Traditionally I take a trip for my birthday, which Sherri and I are doing. My birthday falls in the middle of the week, so we’re going to Sacramento to visit with my folks the weekend directly following. I’ve thought about seeing Rent, which is in town for just that week. Or having a dinner out. I’m still undecided.

I’m not looking forward to visiting Sacramento during the summer when it’s sure to be sweltering. But, it will be nice to see my mother and step-father and to show Sherri around a bit. We’re probably going to take a mini trip to Davis (my alma mater) show I can show her the campus and the town. We might even do the farmer’s market thing.

Other Events

There are a few other events that I’d like to attend, if possible: Northwest Pride on June 13th and 14th; the Portland Buddhist Festival, also on June 13th; the Sumer Coder’s Social on June 20th.

Bronchitis, Moving, and Gardening

Life since early March has been a bit of a blur. A large part of this was due to the fact that I came down with a bad cold that turned into a lingering case of bronchitis. I’m  new to this kind of respiratory distress and so I waited way too long to go to the doctor. Eventually I did and my doctor diagnosed me with a mild case of bronchitis and sent me on my way with a handful of new prescriptions. Albuterol, a steroidal inhaler and even vicodin for the cough. On top of my normal regimen of allergy medications, I feel like a walking pharmacy. But the drugs appear to be working, albeit slowly. I’m feeling more energetic, am able to breath clearly and an coughing.

In the middle of all this bronchitis stuff, I moved in with my partner Sherri. I do not recommend moving while sick if it can be helped. I hired movers, but even then it took me forever to pack my tiny studio and even longer than forever to get it unpacked (we’re still opening boxes and sorting through stuff). But I love living in a house again (for the first time, really, since leaving my parents home when I was 17). Having all the extra space available is wonderful. Having a yard is a privilege I adore. Though, I’m realizing how expensive home ownership and maintenance can be. We spent several hundred at Home Depot this month just to get the yard and garden in shape. And we’ve still so much to do.

But the garden is simply lovely. The state of the yard when I moved in was fairly over grown. The blackberries emanating from the corner of the yard were threatening to take over. The raised beds built last year were either unfinished or completely full of weeds. The first sunny weekend available to us, Sherri and I attacked the yard with furry. I demolished the insidious blackberries. We yanked weeds out of the beds. We bought dirt, lots of dirt. So much dirt in fact that Sherri did not think it would fit in my little Toyota pick up (it totally fit, barely). We filled the beds and mixed in compost. Because it’s already so late in the season, we opted to buy starts, most of which came from the Portland Nursery. In fact, we went a little crazy with the number of starts we bought and had to get creative about where to put them. We have a half dozen varieties of tomatoes (including one called pineapple that I’m very excited about), peppers, summer squash, some heirloom eggplants, bush and pole beans, winter squash, a melon and an heirloom cantaloupe, and various greens. I take great delight in watering everything each morning, looking for signs of new growth. I August and September we’re going to have more fruits and veggies than we know what to do with! We also planted a handful of annuals and perennials in the front yard.

During Memorial Weekend, Sherri and I were supposed to attend a couples retreat together at Great Vow Zen Monastery. But, Atari is in the middle of treatment for a urinary tract infection and may also have diabetes. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving town while his diagnosis was still up in the air. So, we elected to stay home. Knowing that we were now going to be in town, a good friend from college decided to visit. We ended up taking two mini road trips, one to Hood River and the other to the Coast, with a detour to pick strawberries. Sherri good some good photos and also wrote about it here and again here.

Somehow during all of this I managed also to give a talk on CodeIgniter at the April meeting of Code ‘n’ Splode and I volunteered at this year’s BarCamp. I also finished a volunteer project that I’d been working on — the website for a friend’s NGO, the International Cardiovascular Health Alliance.

Things aren’t going to get any quieter anytime soon. Next month I’m volunteering for and speaking at OSBridge, a conference for open source citizens. My Zen community is also holding a founder’s dinner for our Portland Center. Sherri and I will be attending and helping out with that. Because I haven’t seen my family since Christmas, Sherri and I are going to Sacramento the weekend after my birthday. I’m not looking forward to the sweltering Sacramento heat, but it will be nice to see everyone and get to show Sherri my old ‘hoods. We’ll probably take a side trip to Davis so I can show her the campus and town. I’m sure it will be a shock to me how much Davis has grown since I left (it always is).

And all of that is happening in June!

Update: Here’s a photo of the garden: