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January 26, 2015 01:51 +0200  |  Auckland Australia Austria Greece New Zealand Personal Life Ripe NCC Sydney Travel Vancouver 1

If there's any tradition that I try to keep on this blog, it's this annual post, the one that recaps the previous year and tries to sound optimistic about the future. I try to be thorough enough that someone might easily get a beat on what my life's been like simply by reading one post a year for the last 11 years. Of course, I've not been as disciplined as I might have liked on this front. I don't have anywhere near 11 "year in review" posts.

Looking back on some of those posts though, I realise that it must have been easy to write them: my life was either in transition, or just moving into or out of one. 2014 by comparison hasn't been particularly remarkable -- at least in the sense that one might be able to point to it as a time in my life that something was happening.

Mostly, 2014 was a year of being comfortable in my life here in Amsterdam. In much the same theme as the my life and theirs post from way back, 2014 has seen me get comfortable with the idea that I'm here for the long-term.

Christina and I are the real deal, with three years together as of February. We share a lovely place in Amsterdam with a beautiful view of the Ij and life here is pretty good. Work hasn't changed much either, but I'm comfortable in my role at RIPE and I enjoy working for a company that actually does Good for the world.

My life hasn't changed much at all this past year, but I still can report that my life is going well. I'll try to recap some of the highlights here.

Travel

As with every year since my moving to the Netherlands, 2014 had a lot of Travelling in it. Not as much as last year, but I did manage to seem some amazing places.

FOSDEM

As is becoming tradition, Christina and I took the trip down to Brussels for the annual FOSDEM conference. There's not much to report on this other than that FOSDEM is amazing and probably the best conference I've ever been to. If you've never been, you should go.

Vienna

Christina had a conference in Vienna in the Spring, and she took me with her so I could meet her friends Max & Julia who promised to give us a tour of the city. Vienna is lovely, and strangely grandiose, as if to give one the impression that The Empire was still alive and kicking. Wide open spaces surrounded by tall marble buildings, imposing in the shadow they cast on passers by -- it's not like any other city I've been to.

But the hotdog I had there, OMG. The best thing I've ever had from a street vendor. I ate something called a Bosna and every time someone mentions Vienna, I salivate.

Seriously, I'd consider a trip back just for that sausage if I could justify the environmental implications and financial costs.

Vienna from our hotel

Marseilles, Lyon, & The French Riviera

The other conference I attended in 2014 was DjangoCon Europe which, in 2013, was held in Warsaw, but this year they decided to host a 3 day conference on a tiny island off the south coast of France. I took the opportunity to do some sightseeing around Southern France and find myself surprisingly disappointed with Marseilles. Lyon on the other hand is beautiful and impressively both managed and designed. Photos from my trip can be found in my image gallery.

Lyon

Manchester & Couch

Some of you may not know this, but Christina may have been born in Greece, but her mother is British, and the other half of her family lives in a sleepy little town called Chesterfield, or Couch as I lovingly refer to it.

Chesterfield is an out-of-the-way hamlet without an airport in the North of England. When I asked people what I should see/do there, locals would always say: "Have you seen the crooked spire?" When I replied with "Yes, anything else?" I was met with silence. Yes, Chesterfield is that boring.

I did get to meet Christina's other side though, so that made the trip worth it.

Thessaloniki, Athens & Nafplio

Amazing Graffiti in Thessaloniki

Christina had another conference in Thessaloniki (Θεσσαλονίκη), so we decided to take a couple weeks and see some more of Greece. This was my third trip to Greece, but my first time leaving Athens to see other parts of the mainland.

Thessaloniki is a town with a lot of promise, but the Euro crisis has taken its toll. Some (touristy) areas are well maintained and busy, but there were whole blocks with nothing but abandoned or condemned buildings. Some amazing graffiti though. I wish the graffiti artists in the Netherlands had half as much talent.

We stopped off in Athens for a week or so to spend some time with Christina's family, and then headed off to the Peloponnese (Πελοπόννησος). Christina drove us from Athens to Nafplio (Ναύπλιο) via Corinth (Κόρινθος), and we stayed at a beautiful hotel nestled on a hill surrounded by an orange orchard. We did a little touring in Nafplio (and lots of frozen yogurt), and also took a trip up to the ruins of Mycenae (Μυκήνες) where I was attacked by giant bugs and had a mild panic attack (good times).

Vancouver & Kelowna

Thanks to an um... lets go with scheduling conflict with my dear friend Jeong-Yeon, I ended up in Vancouver this summer, burning most of my vacation days and Jeong-Yeon was nowhere to be found.

Thankfully, I have lots of friends and family there, so it was hardly a waste of a trip. I spent some time visiting in Vancouver, and then headed up to Kelowna to help out around my parent's house and play with my adorable niece.

Photos are here for those interested.

Sydney, Auckland, and much of New Zealand

The Big Trip of the year, possibly the biggest for a long time, was my trip to the country I swore I'd never set foot in, (Australia) and a further adventure into New Zealand.

My travelling partner for this one was the ever-ready-for-adventure Stephanie, who had this whole idea in the first place. We did a few days in Sydney, where I was confronted with a GIANT FUCKING ARACHNID in our hotel room and was thoroughly terrified of the wildlife for the remainder of the trip.

We did yoga on Bondi Beach. I cannot begin to confer how beautiful Bondi was. I am forever indebted to Stephanie for convincing me to face my fear and visit such a beautiful place.

I got to pet a wombat, and a kangaroo, and an echidna, and a koala named Claire. I saw penguins, and a tasmanian devil, and a cacophony of crazy looking exotic animals that weren't trying to kill me, and then I ate a kangaroo burger. Stephanie drank All The Beers, and I watched her consume what would appear to be the finest beverage in the world... something called a rum old fashioned.

And that was just Australia.

Bondi Beach

We met Sue in Auckland, who was a welcome travelling companion for a few days. She drove us from Auckland to Hobbiton where we saw hobbit houses and drank at The Green Dragon, then onto the Waitomo glow worm caves, where we went cave diving with wet suits and inner tubes. Once again, Stephanie convinced me to do something I never would have considered and I am once again thankful for it. Imagine yourself floating in darkness with billions on tiny blue lights overhead surrounded by cave walls and cool water. It was amazing.

Hobbiton

From there we headed to Rotorua, where we visited Te Puia, a Maori cultural centre, before heading back to Auckland and getting my picture next to the Xena Way sign. That was way more fun than it should have been.

We left Sue the next morning for the third and final leg of our trip: the South Island. In Queenstown I rode a horse for the first time in my life and was less terrified than I thought I'd be. I also got some really amazing pictures. We also took the long trip to see Doubtful Sound, an untouched wilderness of trees, water and wildlife, it was also the furthest South either of us had ever been. Indeed, it's the furthest South most people, alive or dead, have ever been.

The horseback trail

We rented a car in Queenstown and Stephanie drove us on the left up to Lake Tekapo where we hiked to the top of Mt. John (less impressive than it sounds, but still lovely), and we took advantage of the night sky reserve one night to see the Southern Cross and explore the night sky as we'd never seen before.

Stephanie with her Firefox ears, on Lake TekapoThe night sky in Tekapo

From Tekapo, Stephanie drove us up to Mt. Cook, only to be turned around by the weather. It would seem that we wouldn't get to see a glacier on this trip. Instead, we drove East to the outskirts of Christchurch, where there was no cell service and barely any people, so we could crash at a cool little place called SiloStay which, as it turns out, wasn't really all that awesome, so I'm not linking to them here. We did however have a quick dinner at a place called Hilltop Tavern, which had prettiest view I've ever seen from any tavern.

The next morning we drove to Christchurch to see what was left of the city after the massive 2011 earthquake. To say that the town was heavily hit is a colossal understatement, and I'm not convinced that they'll ever recover entirely. Three years later, and there are still houses and buildings everywhere that are just half-destroyed and abandoned. However it was nice to see how some were taking advantage of the opportunity to rebuild the city in a way that makes sense (more pedestrian space, better cycling infrastructure etc.). We visited the earthquake museum, learnt about the colourful use of the term munted by officials during the crisis, and then crashed at our guesthouse before getting on our respective planes the next morning.

It's was an amazing trip. It cost me thousands of Euros, sixty hours of air travel, and twelve timezones of jetlag, and I regret nothing.

Photos from all of this, save for a good many lost from my Bondi Beach trip, are available here.

Professional

Professionally, my life hasn't really changed this past year. The RIPE NCC is still a pretty good place to work, if for no other reason than that working there means that I don't go home feeling guilty every night. Instead, strangers thank me publicly for the work I do and my code is Free to share. It's pretty fabulous.

Projects

I did a lot of work this past year on a whole whack of mini projects. Now that I'm finally understanding and using git, a tool written by people who show very little interest in making tools other people can use, I'm now hosting a lot of nifty stuff on GitHub, including my ever-present side project, that mobile game Stephanie and I have been poking at over the years...

Spirithunter

I got a lot of work done on this in 2014. In fact, I had a working alpha back in September, achieving my end-of-year goal months early. I managed this in part by finally saying goodbye to doing bits of work for Collin, and in part by getting some vitimin D into me. I got more work done on this project in 1 week in Athens than I did for most of the rest of the year.

The big challenge for 2015 is going to be:

  • Moving away from django-tastypie because it's effectively abandonware
  • Switching to 1.7
  • Getting some front-end working (coughStephaniecough)
  • Getting some artists to sign on to provide some character artwork

That last one is especially tough, because let's be honest, nobody likes to work for free, so I might just have to dip into my savings and pay for some artwork up-front. I dunno.

RxLenses.ca

I also started doing a lot of work for my father's side-project, RxLenses.ca, an uncut lens reseller for retail optical stores. In the last months of the year especially, I've been working on getting a big feature setup, and once that's finished, the project should be mostly self-sustaining, so I can go back to my other stuff.

Sagan

Sagan was my first "public" component for the RIPE NCC. It was fun to write, and it's been largely embraced by both the company and the community when it comes to do doing the stuff it was designed to do, which is honestly the best any Free software can ever hope for. That's pretty awesome.

Wrap Up

So, this is a lot of stuff to read, so I hope that if you actually read it all, you aren't bored by now. 2014 was good to me, albeit rather static. 2015 is looking good though: I've got a lot of travel planned, some more side projects, and maybe even dance classes. I guess we'll see how that all pans out in about twelve months.

March 16, 2010 07:40 +0200  |  Personal Life Self Development Self Reflection Stephanie TheChange.com Work [at] Play 3

I thought that I might take this opportunity to post a little catch-up. I've been neglecting this blog for a while now and since it serves a number of purposes, not the least of which is personal record given my shoddy memory I should at the very least keep it up to date with what's going on in my life.

I'm busy. Incredibly busy. Some time ago Shawna pointed me to an article about how busy people live a sort of half life. We never do anything completely, are never able to invest ourselves in something whole-heartedly because we're constantly juggling too much. This has always been a problem for me, but at least now I'm starting to recognise it. The next step of course is to do something about it... suggestions are welcome :-)

So, lets chronicle this latest incarnation of "busy" shall we?

Let's start with the awesome. There's a girl. I've mentioned her before, but now that we're officially together (Facebook says so!), I want to gush a little more again. All that stuff in the aforelinked post is totally true. My heart skips when she smiles and she gets excited about the coolest, nerdiest things. We have a lot in common and this has led to a number of fun conversations and potentially a new project or two. It's all that good stuff that a new relationship is supposed to be, with the promise of some staying-power to boot. I'm going to work really hard not to screw this one up :-)

There's also the paying job, a.k.a., my role as senior programmer at Work [at] Play. They've got me doing a lot of Drupal work lately (boo!), but in the wake of my trip up to DjangoSki, there's a chance that we'll be doing a big project in Django soon (yay!). This is rather exciting, since I'm probably the best versed Python/Django person in the office, so I'd be working in more of a mentorship role rather than just a grunt programmer.

Then there's my new company: theChange.com. Bigger, meaner than a job, starting a business is exhausting work. I suppose that it wouldn't be so rough if you could build the company 9-5, Monday-Friday, but when you have to eat, it's a little more taxing. We have 3hour meetings now, twice a week, after I've been working for a previous 8, and we've broken down the "stuff to do" list into 5 (well, 4 now) week increments in preparation for our Big Public Launch in April. Annalea is super-hardcore, and an amazing person to work with... I just don't know if I have the energy some days.

Lastly, my father is working on a project of his own that he hopes will help my parents retire. It's a complex machine that requires, at the heart of it, a Sheevaplug running software I've written to handle talking to a PLC and magnetic card reader. It's some fun and crazy code, and so far, it's mostly worked... mostly.

Outside of the above, much of my former priorities are fading away. My involvement with the Greens has tapered off considerably, though that's due in large part to the absence of an election (or sitting government) for some time. My work with the VPSN pretty much died over the summer with our last cataloguing of the CCTV cameras in the city. I don't really miss the VPSN stuff, but my work with the Greens was really rewarding.

I suppose that somewhere in there, I'm supposed to find some personal time, but if I ever do, it always ends up being an evening of me wrestling with the fact that I could(should?) be working on our site. Mentally, I'm rather worn out of late.

And that's it for me. I'll do what I can to come up with something super-exciting for my next post. ...or maybe it'll be a lame meme. I haven't done one of those for a long time. Suggestions?

February 14, 2010 23:28 +0200  |  Personal Life Stephanie Women 3

Blogs are part personal record, part external communication, and lately, due to my own over-capacity life, I've been neglecting it to the detriment of both these factors. I apologise for this, and there's a lot more I want to write about but I simply don't have the time lately.

I wanted to get one thing in though -- if only because it's been going on for some time without a public note and this is the kind of thing you want to write in a blog. So at the risk of sounding a little too much like the XKCD guy, I just wanted to record the fact that I've been dating this amazing girl for a few months now. She's smart, and pretty, and she smells really, really good :-)

That's all for now. Back to work!

September 22, 2008 21:49 +0300  |  Chrystal Melanie Personal Life Vancouver War 0

A lot of interesting things have been happening lately that I've yet to document properly here. My apologies to those involved for falling behind, but as you'll see, I've been rather busy.

For starters, Melanie has finally moved to Vancouver. After months of preparation, fear and goodbyes, Mel packed her bags (and her two cats) and hopped on a plane to YVR. In the space of less than a week, she had 4 interviews for two jobs and it's very possible that she'll be offered one of said jobs today or tomorrow. The cats were comfortable in my place almost immediately, and I'm already beginning to notice the effects of Mayday's fur all over the place. (She's such a princess).

It's been a bit of a shock to Melanie so far. I don't think that it's completely sunk in that she's a Vancouverite now. I suggested that she "take the day off" today and wander through Stanley Park while the weather is still pretty. I hope she takes my advice.

Chrystal has also broken some rather big news: she's moving to Kandahar. You know, that place from where we keep shipping people home feet first? Of course she won't be serving in the military, rather she'll be working in the diplomatic office, on a military base, surrounded by big people with guns. This is a really exciting career move for her and she's been wanting something like this for a very long time. I can't say that I'm glad she's going, but I suppose I have to be happy that she's doing what she wants with her life.

Just come back alive ok?

August 25, 2008 19:02 +0300  |  Ideas Personal Life Self Reflection 6

As those of you who have been sending me occasional emails may have noticed, I've not been doing a very good job in replying to them. In fact, if you were to go back through this blog only a few months, I'm sure you'd find a few posts talking about how overwhelmed I am with stuff I have to do and specifically, emails to which I want to respond. The problem, at least as I've seen it, is that I just don't have enough hours in a day to get everything done. I work long hours, come home burnt and only wanting to veg out and do nothing... and even then I spend hours at home writing code for the office some nights.

Donat Group is a big fan of "work/life balance" a concept I'm familiar with, yet have not really taken advantage of lately. To remedy this though, I've decided to try something that may sound insane to some (hell, I'm not even a big fan of it): I'm going to schedule everything.

The plan is to schedule my work hours so I'm not inclined to stay as late as I usually do, then schedule making dinner and yes, even responding to all those emails. The theory being that if my laptop tells me that it's time for "x", it'll help me focus on the job at hand.

Maybe it's insane, but at the moment, I'm approaching desperation. Nothing in my life is working lately and frankly, I want my life back. I just wish my mind didn't keep drifting back to Seven of Nine scheduling "fun".

July 08, 2008 20:22 +0300  |  Personal Life 0

Email has been kicking my ass of late. By "kicking my ass", I mean of course that I have had, for far too long, far more email in my inbox marked "unread" than I can reasonably handle.

Among those senders yet to receive a response from me, there are: Annie, Heather, Kathryn, Amy, Margaret, Julie, Katie, Sheena and Roland. To all of you, I want to say that I'm sorry. I'll get to your email as soon as I can but most days, I look at that inbox (15 unread) plus my bloody Facebook inbox (12 unread) and I just can't bring myself to dive into it all. I appreciate the mail, really I do. Just please understand that if you haven't received a message yet, it's because I intend to write a real letter and I need to find the time and a clear head in which to do it.

June 23, 2008 05:03 +0300  |  Melanie Personal Life Vancouver 4

At last, it would seem that I have a valid excuse for not writing here for so long: Melanie has been in town for just over a week.

The logic behind the whole situation of course was this: if she really was to move all the way to Vancouver, it makes sense that she might want to see what it's like before committing to the decision. She really couldn't have picked a better time. While it's sweltering and smoggy in Toronto, It's been a moderate 19°C here, low wind, and just a little rain.

As if the weather alone wasn't enough to convince her to move, I sold her on the thing BC's been flaunting for decades: the scenery. We rented a car and drove up to Kelowna through the rocky mountains. We took the scenic route, passing through dense forests and speeding through clouds. We saw waterfalls, lakes, rapids, and a few million tonnes of solid granite sticking out of the ground. Yeah, BC's pretty awesome... and I mean that in the literal sense: "worthy of awe".

I introduced Melanie to as many cool parts of Vancouver as I could, including my parents (in Kelowna), my grandparents and a number of my friends who made it out to my birthday shindig yesterday. We hit the Art Gallery, English Bay, The Marble Slab (w00t!) and even Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in Chinatown that's always closed when I want to visit :-(. My brother got us free gondola tickets (thanks Butthead!) to Grouse Mountain (no Grouse Grind for us... next time.) and Melanie was super-brave and crossed the Capilano Suspension Bridge. We even got a tour of UBC by her Aunt and Uncle who work there.

We didn't get to everything of course. I would have liked to have found time to visit the VPL, Science World, and Granville Island, but I'm sure she'll lots of have time see that stuff when she moves here. That's right, the sales pitch worked. Melanie's moving to Vancouver. The plan is to be in town for January 2009 after a 1month trip to Melbourne, Australia to see her friend Amber (who is almost as awesome as BC).

Also for those of you wondering about the status of our relationship, you're probably not a Facebook addict yet (good for you!) Basically, we're together, though the logistics of two people being "together" with nearly 4000km between them is a bit daunting. I'll just go with what she said in her blog post: FUCK YOU DISTANCE! :-P

So yeah. It's been a long, busy week and now that my "vacation" is over, I have about 16hours before I'm back at work. Sometime... sometime soon I hope, I'll take a break ;-)

December 07, 2007 08:24 +0200  |  Personal Life 2

I met my super-big high school crush for drinks tonight to celebrate her birthday. I was nervous and self conscious in the moments leading up to and during the party, but I'm really glad I was able to do it. That girl used to have such power over me... now she's just a girl.

A smokin' hot girl with a million dollar smile, but still, just a girl.

I feel like I could conquer a small country tonight.

February 01, 2007 00:54 +0200  |  Personal Life 3

Yesterday evening, a short time after the press release chaos and the following strategy meeting I had in preparation for tomorrows TPSB consultation, I had something of an epiphany that I would like to share.

You see, after all of the above, I was vibrating... Stress had overwhelmed me and I didn't want to think -- no, I couldn't think about anything related to the events of the past 24hours. And so, I went for a walk. In the frozen cold, snow floating down from the sky, I walked from St. George station all the way to Yonge and Bloor... and that's when I realised.

It started with me trying to flush out all the stressful thoughts from my brain. I was walking down Bloor, getting wound up about future responsibilities, work to do, etc and I found myself consciously trying to make those thoughts "go away". It took some effort, but with the help of a Farbucks hot chocolate and ginger cookie, and a long walk in the snow, I managed just that. And by the time I reached Yonge & Bloor station, I was no longer thinking about anything stressfull.

But then, on the ride home, I started trying to ease myself back into what was up next and that's where I noticed it: I couldn't remember. Nothing was coming to mind. Who was I supposed to email next? What was in my inbox? What jobs were left for the evening? Nothing remained. It was like I knew I had something to do, but the actual work had been erased from my memory.

Now, given the current state of my memory, I'm thinking that is quite common for me, except that it's probably on a subconscious level. I forget things because part of me can't handle the stress of remembering it, and so, the memory disappears...

January 20, 2007 21:06 +0200  |  Personal Life 5

After my last post, I decided to take the night off. Colin suggested a full vacation but given that that wasn't an option at the moment, his secondary solution was to turn off the phone and remove myself from my life for a while. I can't say that this "fixed" me 100%, but I'm definitely feeling better today. I even went through my mountain of emails and those I didn't respond to, I at least marked as "read" so they won't be hanging over me anymore.

The plan, (at the moment at least) is to lay off the unnecessary things. No more tv (downloaded or otherwise) and to force myself to have at least 2 nights a week where I turn off my phone and vacate my life for a while. It's not much, but it's the best I can manage at this point.

I'll post more as I wade through this.