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Father’s Day weekend “down the shore”

The boys love the beach. I’ve had this little fact tucked away in my head since we brought them to their first beach in San Francisco last year, but it’s tricky in northern California. Even during the summer, it can be quite cool on the California coast, and the water is not good for swimming.

But this year we are spending the summer in Philadelphia, what about the New Jersey shore?

I didn’t grow up in Philadelphia, so while I’ve visited Atlantic City boardwalk once or twice, I’d never actually spent the night or done a real beach visit there. We also had an additional challenge: the boys had never stayed in a hotel while they were mobile (Adam stayed in one a handful when he was a baby). Our kids are a little chaotic, and we had a whole list of concerns. Will they stay in the room? Will they push all the buttons on the phone? Will they flood the bathroom in the middle of the night in an attempt to create a pool? We wanted to do a trial run in a hotel that’s not too far from home before doing a bigger trip. At about 90 minutes from home, a trip to Atlantic City ticked all the boxes.

We made the drive out on Friday afternoon, hitting expected traffic along with others from the region going to the shore for the weekend, but overall it wasn’t too bad. We got ourselves loosely settled into our hotel rooms at Caesar’s, enjoyed the statues decorating Caesar’s, and then went out to the boardwalk.

It was the first time the boys had been on a boardwalk, so that was pretty fun. We also picked out a restaurant that had the required cheeseburgers for them, and managed to arrive right before a downpour.

The duration of our meal almost perfectly synced up with the storm, and by the time we were ready to leave and visit the pier where the rides are, they all had opened back up. It was pretty late though, so we stuck to just doing the giant ferris wheel. And jumping in a bunch of puddles.

Saturday was beach day! The morning was spent at the beach, and we took a break for lunch and some enjoying of fudge and saltwater taffy.

Later in the afternoon Adam decided he was done with the beach, so while MJ took Aaron back to the beach, Adam and I explored the hotel, rode on elevators and escalators, threw coins in fountains, and then took a tram down the boardwalk to do a little tourist shopping. Perfect.

Dinner was at the nearby Rainforest Cafe, which would have been better if either of the boys ate. Hah! It was an unusual weekend for them though, so I’m not surprised their appetites were off.

Sunday we checked out of our hotel and then got to enjoying Father’s Day by going somewhere MJ remembered from childhood: Lucy the Elephant right next to the beach in Margate, NJ. Lucy is a building, complete with a roof deck, that’s shaped like a big elephant, and originally built in 1881. To someone who hadn’t grown up there, Lucy is quite the unusual sight, but I love kitschy things, so honestly it was right my my alley. We got tickets for the tour so we could go up inside, and it was a lot of fun, even if the boys each had their moments of being a little scared by heights and steep staircases.

We had lunch next door to Lucy and then made our 90 minute journey home.

As for the experiment? We didn’t have any catastrophic failures logistically, though it was a bit tiring for me because I was sharing a bed with little Aaron and he’s a bit of a wild sleeper. I imagine staying in a hotel is never easy with young kids, so I think we are where we need to be. We will do another trip soon!

Philly summer begins! Settling in, trains, and dinosaurs

We’re in Philadelphia for 8 weeks this summer!

I know it’s going to fly by. Indeed, a week has already gone. But it was a bit of a settling in week, and our au pair took the traveling opportunity to take a vacation and MJ spent the week in NYC for work, so I was here solo with the boys. I took Monday off from work to get the house step up, grab groceries, complete a bunch of tasks, and get our babysitter for the week settled in. We secured our babysitter through a service and it worked out really well, but even with the help it was a challenging week. Plus, I simply missed MJ and was grateful when he got back on Friday night.

All things considered, the boys did really well, but they were suddenly shifted into a very different place and schedule, so we had some tough moments and sleep wasn’t quite where it needed to be. On Monday I made up little cards with activities on them so the boys knew what options they had, from Play-Doh to playing outside in the sprinkler, and we really lucked out with hot, dry weather making all the options available to them. Still, they were stuck close to home. To help with this, one evening after work I took them out to Target (which they enjoy!), and another evening was spent the library and playground. The library was fun for me too, I decided not to bring physical books with me on this visit even though I have a couple in progress, and instead just requested the books for pickup at my local library here. It worked beautifully!

Since we put the boys together in a room recently, I also had to set that up. We arranged delivery of Aaron’s bed, but it didn’t arrive until Tuesday so I brought up the crib mattress to their room and Aaron slept on the floor for a couple nights. Not optimal, but we all survived and I was able to assemble his new bed on Tuesday evening and get the room all set up. The only remaining problem is how bright it is in the morning even with blackout curtains. The curtains simply don’t provide enough coverage, and they’re waking up much too early. We’ve ordered some more comprehensive window coverings and will install those soon.

There were also some bugs. A hole in our sliding screen door out to the deck let in wasps that made a small nest between the screen door and the glass door. This is not a new problem, so we had some wasp spray already and I soaked the nest and was rid of it by Wednesday. There were also tiny ants near that door, and when we picked up the ant traps at Target it was immediately clear that we aren’t the only ones with that problem, they were nearly out of stock! Yuck. It’ll take some time to finish eradicating the ants, but we’re making progress.

With our new found love of Lego, I had promised Adam we could get a battery-operated Lego train set once we got to Philly. He’s been watching videos on YouTube about this train and some others, so was pretty excited, and on Saturday we got to work on it, and swiftly got the engine done so we could actually run it on the track, hooray! We still have the other two passenger cars to build.

The rest of Saturday was spent close to home as MJ did a bunch of house tasks and then we spent the late afternoon and evening visiting with family. For dinner, we went out with MJ’s step sister and her son, and Aaron had some delightful cousin time. Afterwards, we went out for ice cream, which the boys managed to cover themselves in. Oof. It’s a good thing we still pack a change of clothes when we go out to eat.

Sunday we met up with them again to go downtown! The boys finally got to go on a SEPTA Regional Rail train, which they’ve been asking to do forever.

From Suburban station, we walked over to the Academy of Natural Sciences to see dinosaurs!

Last time we went was back in December and I think Aaron was a little surprised and scared at just how big dinosaurs were. Now a full 5 months later, he seems to have made peace with it and had a wonderful time. He also really loved being there with his cousin, who he’d insist would join him at various animal displays.

After the museum, the boys were delighted to take bus (SEPTA slinky bus!) over to Reading Terminal Market, which the boys had never been to and I hadn’t been to for years. I forgot how overwhelming it is there, but we managed to find food that we were all happy with and even found a table where all 6 of us fit. At the end we picked up some treats! We caught a 2PM train back home.

This week our au pair is back with us and we’re settling in to what we developed as our regular summertime routine. I’m working loosely 9AM-5PM east coast time and building out all our activities around that. Over the weekend we booked a weekend at the New Jersey shore, and bought tickets to a Phillies game that we’ll be attending with some family and friends later this month. Investing in a vacation home here was always a bit of a gamble, but I’m grateful we’re able to finally spend a bunch of time here, using it precisely for what we always intended. It should be a great summer.

Lego, cherries, a railroad museum, room-sharing, and a boat ride

On May the 4th we stopped by a Lego store. It was a total coincidence, aside from wearings Star Wars gear, we didn’t really do anything to “celebrate” Star Wars day. The Lego store was though, they had paper R2-D2 hats! Naturally, we had to go in. I walked out with an R2-D2, and a couple Animal Crossing sets, which MJ paid for, unbeknownst to me while I chased Adam (Aaron was carefully crafting a whole Duplo city as our hi-jinks ensued). That’s love :)

The reason this is notable, aside from a very sweet gesture from my husband, is that while we were browsing, Adam showed an interest in build a Lego set with me for the first time. I have at least half dozen Lego sets in my closet that haven’t gotten to assemble because I don’t have a lot of time to myself for hobbies now, and I’ve basically been waiting patiently for our kids to be old enough to do them with me. The time has come! But I didn’t want to get too excited, he’s only 5 and his attention span is all over the map. We started with a tiny R2-D2 that I had in my closet, and then worked on the little freebie Lego they were giving away for May the 4th. Hooray!

It took us almost 3 weeks over evenings and weekends when Adam and I were in the mood, and Aaron was satisfied free-forming it with Duplo next to us, but we set up a big table downstairs with some little plastic bins for sorting tiny Lego bricks. It was a lot of fun. There’s a lot more Lego building in our future!

Unfortunately this was a little too exciting for me. I should be satisfied making my way through the backlog in my closet, but two new Lego kits have entered my collection since early May because I’m so excited that we can build them together now.

Speaking of hobbies that we can do together now, the boys have been fascinated with typewriters since I began bringing them home. Several weekends ago, we stumbled upon a local 1963 Montgomery Ward Signature 500 and we decided to come home with it for $30. It’s an incredibly basic typewriter, and it’s missing the cover for the ribbon, but it had the case and was otherwise in usable condition and we wouldn’t be heartbroken if it didn’t survive abuse from kids. We ordered a new ribbon and Adam has been having fun with “his” typewriter. I even added it to the typewriter database, though I did pause before adding it to my profile (maybe Adam wants his own? Maybe some day). Upon adding it, I was amused to discover that the only other one of this model in the database also has the latch broken on the case just like mine (it’s functional, just ugly).

For the weekend that included Mother’s Day we had a couple whole family adventures. First, we decided to make the drive up to Brentwood, California where there are a bunch of cherry tree orchards. We did it last year too and it was a lot of fun, but this time we agreed not to come home with over 4 pounds of cherries. Going early was key, since it ended up being a hot day, and so we had a delightful morning in the orchards. Then settled in for lunch at a place we discovered downtown last year.

Adam insisted we all wear red, because cherries are red

On Mother’s Day itself we did something I’ve been wanting to do for years: Taking Amtrak up to Sacramento to visit the California State Railroad Museum. Plus, in spite of being something I’ve wanted to do long before having kids, it’s something that the kids would enjoy too! We caught a train up around 9AM and enjoyed 3.5 hours there in Old Sacramento, enjoying a quick lunch before exploring the train museum and stopping for some doughnuts. I would have liked a longer trip, but honestly the train schedules and kid schedules simply didn’t align. Plus, it was hot. It was absolutely worth doing, but given the cost and timing, I think the next time we make the trek to Old Sacramento we’ll just plan on picking a low traffic weekend and driving.

Compared to all this excitement, the following weekend was a bit chill. On Saturday we took two cars over to Ikea for a very exciting milestone: Aaron’s first big kid bed!

Our plan had always been for the boys to share a room once Aaron turned one, but a variety of factors made that impossible. Back on May 21st of 2023 when Aaron was almost two and a half, we made a solid attempt at the boys sharing a room, but it went dreadfully, I posted the following to Facebook on June 21st:

“After almost a month of hell, we gave up kiddo room-sharing for now.

Little Aaron wouldn’t stop ruining Adam’s sleep life; they go to bed too late (and required an hour+ of supervision from us), would wake up in the middle of the night, and get up too early. No one was getting enough sleep. I think Adam is just too sensitive right now and Aaron is still too immature to understand the impact he’s having by pushing boundaries all night. We’ll try again in a few months when Aaron is a little older.

Keeping Aaron in my home office was out of the question now that he is able to leave his crib, so instead he’s taken over MJ’s home office downstairs. It’s not optimal, nothing is, but since MJ’s office was never fully set up the change wasn’t a huge deal logistically, and he’s a lot safer there.

I’d celebrate having my office fully back, but I’m too tired. Here’s hoping at least few days of restful sleep are in my near future, I desperately need it.”

It took a more than a few months to try again, but in case you can’t tell from that post, I was not in great shape after that first attempt. It was necessary though, Aaron was old enough to leave his crib phase and we didn’t have a solution for Aaron in a bed except for in Adam’s room. So at the end of April we began attempt number two. It succeeded! As well as it could succeed anyway, no one likes sharing a room, and every time Aaron is extra noisy at bedtime Adam likes to remind us that he doesn’t want to share a room. Sorry kiddo.

Aaron started out in a converted crib but at three and a half now, he was getting to big for it. Instead, we used “we’ll get you a big boy bed!” as a reward for good behavior in Adam’s room. We also picked up new sheets for both boys, since we figured a reward was also in order for Adam.

Having them share a room has been quite a relief. With Aaron downstairs our ability to use the living room after 8PM was incredibly limited, and I’m glad MJ will finally be able to settle into his home office. Plus, at the townhouse in Philadelphia Aaron had been sleeping downstairs in a rough-in bathroom, not great for him but also putting a damper on how we could use the house after bedtime. This is the best solution.

The next two weeks were spent squeezing as much California fun out of weekends as possible. We made the decision to spend eight weeks, nearly the whole summer break from school, at the townhouse in Philadelphia. The pandemic put a huge dent in our ability to enjoy it for nearly three years, and we have catching up with so many loved ones to do. Not being stuck on a tight schedule over holidays will be nice. But first, I wanted to enjoy California a bit more!

The first adventure was a Lake Chabot boat tour. I bought tickets online ahead of time and took the boys out one Saturday morning for a far-too-chilly tour around the lake in a peaceful little boat. Aside from the cold, the boys and I had a lot of fun.

On Sunday we had a couple errands to do in San Francisco and treated the boys to a visit to the Children’s Creativity Museum. It was a cute museum, and I was always curious about it because we lived nearby when we lived in the city, but we probably won’t go again. It quickly became apparent that it’s a very city-kid focused place, with a bunch of toys and activities that a small home in the city won’t be able to have, but many of which we have in our huge playroom and yard in the suburbs that we put together during a pandemic when we couldn’t leave the house. Still, Aaron was delighted to play with blocks and BRIO trains for an hour, and Adam had fun with various other things, like a topography-enabled sand table. We concluded our visit to the city by going on the carousel, and then over to Fogo de Chao for lunch (kids eat free!).

We concluded our day by stopping by Panorama Park on Yerba Buena island on our drive home. It’s a tiny and rather industrial feeling park (a lot of concrete!) but the views are spectacular, which is the point.

MJ and I were able to go back to the city at the end of the month to do a rare date night and see a show!

On Friday, May 31st Adam completed TK! With the school year wrapped up, we turned out attention to our trip to Philadelphia and flew out on Sunday, June 2nd, after spending Friday evening at a local “summer nights” event within walking distance of home, and then spending Saturday visiting a very crowded Cherry Festival in nearby San Leandro.

Looking forward to the summer. I’m taking a little vacation time while we’re there, but will be working for most of it. I’m still a little apprehensive about how we’ll keep the boys entertained without school or a walkable downtown, so I’m already working on my queue of activities and what we should buy for our visit.

Solo time at baseball and RSA 2024

I’ve always known I was an introvert, but my need for alone time to recharge was always a rather casual thing. Sure, I’d miss some parties and maybe I don’t go out as much as other people, but that’s OK. Having kids has changed that. I get very little time to myself, and ultimately it means I feel very tired a lot of the time. At the same time, I love spending time with my family! I’ve concluded is that I probably need a chunk of 4-5 hours each week where I can do something by myself that’s not work or errands, and I don’t have to worry about things at home. Earlier this year we hired a babysitter so I could do this, but it quickly got de-prioritized and we went back to what we had been doing. Bummer. I want to bring it back, but in the meantime I did get out on my own a few times in the past few weeks.

The first was to a baseball game! The A’s are moving away from Oakland next year, which is heartbreaking. I wanted to get a few final games in before they move, but it was logistically difficult. So one day I took the afternoon off from work and hopped on BART to see a game. It was great!

I ate chicken nachos out of a helmet.

And had a delicious churro sundae.

And watched the A’s lose, but that’s OK. It was a delightful afternoon away.

As a solo activity it was OK, I think I prefer going with someone because there’s so much down time in sports and it’s really a more social activity. I think going to movies, museums, or other active exhibits or parks may be more my speed moving forward.

And I know I said solo time should be time that’s not work, but on a whim I went up to RSA 2024 recently with an Expo hall pass. I met with some folks and got some great work done, I’m glad that I went.

Then I got to the solo not work part! I took a lovely walk down Market street to check out the new fancy food hall attached to the new Ikea. It was really nice. I decided to check out Curry Up Now, an Indian street food spot that served up a delicious Saag Paneer And Chicken Tikka Masala burrito, along with a mango lassi. I really miss living in San Francisco, so even if it was a work visit, just getting back in my favorite place was refreshing. On my way back to BART I was also happy to discover that the entrance from BART to the mall has re-opened!

We’ll see where my solo plans take me moving forward. I really can’t let this time get de-prioritized again, my family deserves a happy and energetic mom, and I deserve a happy and energetic me.

Loss, Passover, and our anniversary

The day before I left for my trip that took me to Austin and Seattle, MJ’s aunt Sherry died. It was unexpected, and in addition to the shock and grief, left us all in a troubled state about what to do logistically. Should I cancel my trip? Should we all drop everything and immediately fly to Virginia? Should just MJ go? Due to various unanswered questions about her wishes and estate, we decided to stick to my travel plans and play it by ear. I let my boss know that my plans may change, and went off on my trips.

I only had the pleasure of meeting Sherry once or twice and the boys never have, but a loss like this has ripple effects, and there was a heaviness to my journey. I felt bad that I couldn’t be physically present as MJ worked with her friends and their family to make arrangements.

Based on a variety of factors, her funeral ended up being after my trip and we decided that only MJ would go. He flew out on Thursday, just hours before I returned, so I didn’t get to see him, and we had a babysitter drop by in the early evening to fill in until my return. He came home Sunday night with stories about his aunt as he visited her home, the town she loved so much, and a bookshop she used to run. May her memory be a blessing.

Aunt Sher (right) at our wedding in 2013 and her mother, Ruth

With MJ away, I had the boys on my own for the weekend. On Saturday we took BART out to Dublin to visit a new playground that they absolutely loved, even if they didn’t love the half mile walk from BART to get there. Sunday was extremely warm, so we went on a water quest! The water hoses we had were cracked and basically unusable, so the boys and I went to our local hardware store in order to replace two of them, plus one of the stands they were on. When we got home we set them up and hooked up a new rainbow water toy in the yard and the boys had tons of fun running through it and turning it into a car wash for their Cozy Coupe.

In some ways it was a lot of fun to have the boys to myself, but it was also pretty tiring and I was eager to have MJ back. Plus, on Monday we had a Seder to prepare for!

Thankfully, MJ took off from work on Monday so he could recover from the trip and head up to San Francisco to pick up our Passover meal. When I was done with work at 4PM I got to work setting everything up. The boys are still quite picky about food, but Adam loves matzoh so it’s a fun time of year for him. The Seder was incredibly chaotic and I timed the food wrong again, but I think that’s part of the charm of family holiday dinners.

This year we also were able to hide the Afikoman and let the kids find it, which became a bit of a prolonged activity as the kids wanted to hide all kinds of things throughout the 8 days of Passover, hah!

I also succeeded at making matzoh brei, and the boys actually ate it, which was a nice surprise. Adam took to calling it “hot matzoh” and that’s probably the name in our house now.

The week of Passover also happened to be when some colleagues were in town, and we took the opportunity to go out for a group activity. Since our team is geographically distributed, it’s a rare occurrence for so many of us to be in one place, and there was one colleague in the group that I hadn’t met at all before! We met at a Bocce place in Livermore, and had a lovely lunch (even if my options were limited, Passover!) and then all attempted to figure out how to play Bocce, which was a lot of fun.

The end of April also meant MJ and I had our 11th wedding anniversary. Given everything that had been going on in the previous weeks (see above), we almost missed it, and had no opportunity to plan anything on the day itself. Instead, we booked at Thursday evening reservation just around the block at Tancho, featuring a Chef’s Counter Omakase experience. It was spectacular, and surprising for our little town! And while it was an expensive meal, they weren’t overly pretentious and the experience was a beautiful way to celebrate our anniversary.

Plus, by doing some thing early and local, it got us home in time to help their babysitter put the kids to bed. This was particularly important because we had just recently started our second attempt to put the boys in the same room. Honestly the change in room situation almost made us skip observing our anniversary at all, but we didn’t want to keep delaying taking time as a couple. It’s so important for us to stay connected, especially during the difficult and busy times.

Glass and monorail in Seattle

While I was in Seattle for the Open Source Summit, I also took a long lunch on day zero of the conference to take the monorail over to the Space Needle. I’ve been on the monorail several times, but I love it and I kind of feel like a trip to Seattle is incomplete without a ride or two.

When I was in Seattle in 2018 I went up to the top of the Space Needle with my friend Walt, which I wrote about in MST3K and the Space Needle. With that done, I didn’t feel the need to do it again, especially on a cloudy day, so instead I went over to the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit.

I knew of Chihuly from his glass flowers in The Bellagio, so it was lovely to see an entire exhibit devoted to his work, and it was breathtaking.

As you walk through the galleries you’re presented with a series of themes, and I admit being quite impressed by the sea creatures, from octopuses to eels.

But the big scenes he created were also quite stunning, including this one, and others with boats, fans, and chandeliers.

The glass house was also quite stunning, and as I was taking photos I realized I was standing under the Space Needle. Neat!

When I stepped outside I saw a vintage style Airstream which had been turned into a glass blowing studio. The crew was warming up when I arrived, but the glass blowing demonstration began swiftly and it was a lot of fun to watch. That’s where I also learned that the Space Needle gift shop was the recipient of the glass they blow in these demonstrations, and sales go to benefit local artists.

Halfway through the demonstration it started raining, so I was grateful to be under a tent outdoors and that it calmed down to a drizzle by the time the demonstration concluded and it was time for me to explore the outdoor gardens. The gardens are a literal garden with trees, flowers, and shrubs, accented with glass structures, which was quite lovely.

I was able to grab a quick lunch, and while I was walking around to find a place to eat I realized how much our boys would love a visit to Seattle. There’s the light rail to bring us in from the airport, the monorail, and then several spots around the Space Needle that the kids would love, including a science center, a children’s museum, and a really fun looking playground. It’s now high on my list of places to visit some summer with them.

With that thought tucked away I headed back to the convention center on the monorail.

And I did end up stopping by the Space Needle gift shop to take a piece of this journey home with me. Thankfully, they do shipping and it’s quite reasonable, so my new glass vase followed me home after a week or so in transit.

The rest of the week was spent at the conference, but I decided to take it easy in the evenings. I did a couple solo dinners at local sushi bars, one of which featured a “sushi donut” and the other that had “sushi burritos” both of which were fun and delicious. The big social for the conference was held at a bar and a bowling alley and I decided to skip it because I was feeling a little tired and was worried that an event in that environment would be a bit too loud and boisterous than what I was hoping for. I really prefer conference parties that are at interesting places that give you an option of things to do, ones at museums or aquariums have topped my lists. We can socialize like we would at a bar, but also find quiet spaces, or mingle and bond over exhibits if I’m feeling shy and don’t have a designated conference buddy to hang out with. And if I strike out at socializing, hey, I saw some cool exhibits at a new museum and it was a lovely night!

I’m glad I got to do a little bit of tourist stuff on this trip, but I’m also grateful to be home. Work trips are energizing for my soul and professionally inspiring, but as a parent now I do miss my family a lot and wished I had MJ with me when I was at the Chihuly exhibit. I also have a lot more house chaos to manage, so it’s good to be home to get back on top of things.

Open Source Summit 2024

My journey to the Open Source Summit North America came on the tail of the Texas Linux Fest, so I flew to Seattle from Austin on Sunday afternoon. A quick ride on light rail put me in downtown Seattle where a short walk got me settled in to my hotel that I’d call home base for the next few days.

Monday morning kicked off by going over to the Secure Open Source Software (SOSS) Community Day for the morning. I particularly enjoyed the keynote from Kate Stewart about the state of Software Bill of Materials (SBOMs). I remember when discussion of SBOMs in the open source world started picking up, also with Kate being a spokesperson for them, and at the time reflected upon how useful they’d be if they ever caught on. It feels like the increased focus on security due to some high profile vulnerabilities is what accelerated the interest and need for them and having a full keynote devoted to them at a security event seems to have confirmed my suspicions. It was great to get an overview of the types of SBOMs that exist (binary vs. source, where they are in phase of development/deployment), but also to learn how many governments have started mandating SBOMs to track what software they’re using. They’ve really hit their stride, and also launched SPDX 3.0, the latest in their iterations of “an open standard capable of representing systems with software components in as SBOMs.”

Monday afternoon took me over to CHAOSScon. I learned from their latest Community Health Analytics in Open Source Software (CHAOSS) project overview that they have a OSPO Metrics Working Group, which may be right up my alley these days. CHAOSS is one of those projects that I remember being launched and always wanted to be involved with, but never managed to make time for. I am concerned that’s still the case, but it was nice to check in with the community so I can more effectively determine whether it’s something I can finally carve out time for. We did an interactive workshop where we shared some thoughts and ideas, and then concluded with updates from a few of their projects, including the announcement of GrimoireLab 1.0 and an update from Augur.

I followed my friends (old and new!) to a CHOASScon after event at a nearby bar where I got to chat with a woman I met whose company was exploring their open source stack and thinking about building out an OSPO. It was nice having that conversation, as well as catching up with a bunch of folks.

Tuesday moved us beyond Community Day and officially kicked off the Open Source Summit, where we were welcomed to a series of keynotes that jumped right in with the topic of AI and work that’s going into enterprise-readiness with the launch of the Open Platform for Enterprise AI (OPEA). It was also nice to see quantum readiness mentioned. A keynote on Valkey, a Redis successor, also caught my attention, as there was a recent proposal to drop s390x support from it (thankfully a quick chat at their booth hopefully resolved this, hooray for conferences!).

Beyond the keynotes, it was generally a good day for talks. Kara Sowles of GitHub gave a great talk on open source funding (hint: there’s not nearly enough of it) and I went to a talk by my former colleague, Javier Perez, on some trends in open source software gathered from a survey that was concluded last year. Joe Winchester delighted with a talk on “Software in Space: Lessons Every Developer Can Learn From” where he took several examples of failures (or near failures) in space missions and drew parallels as to what software developers could learn. I think we all geeked out a bit over space science in that one.

Then for lunch I met up with Maemalynn Meanor of The Open Mainframe Project so I’d have a pal at the Women and Non-Binary Lunch, which is always a pleasure to attend.

Tuesday evening I made it over to a Open Source Summit [unofficial] AI Meetup After Hours which had a series of short talks from folks in the community to present their work, and what ultimately led to discussing ways they could collaborate, which was great to see. One of the things that came up was that even within the Linux Foundation community there is duplication of effort happening as everyone sees the same problems inside their own projects, meetups like this help break down those barriers.

Wednesday morning keynotes began with a “fireside chat” with Linus Torvalds, where he notably (for me) talked about RISC-V and concerns that they’d duplicate mistakes of past architectures when it came to software. When I stopped by the RISC-V booth later in the day it was clear that hit a nerve, and inspired some action in that community to make sure then don’t. He also seems to have come to the logical conclusion that the AI wave is not really worth the hype, but there is something there that we’d be wise to keep up with. Speaking of which, another keynote touched upon the rise of code being generated by AI tooling, and the need for securing our communities against manipulation that can happen to the source code bases that the AI is drawing from, underlining again that we need to bring trust and validation directly to open source projects.

After lunch I gave my talk on “How Our Mainframe-Focused Working Group Solved Our Linux Distribution Maintainer Isolation Problem” where, just like SCALE, I found myself with a small but deeply engaged audience. I also learned that while a handful of people in the room where focused on the topic, most of the questions were specifically related to mainframes, which I was also happy to answer! It was nice validation that there is appetite for the topic at events, and maybe I’ll re-focus on the technology at the next event I propose for, rather than going for a more social talk. Still, I was very happy I gave it, and some great contacts seem to have been made both for myself and for some audience members who got chatting afterwards.

Thursday was when the realization that I was on day eight of travel finally hit me and I started feeling a bit tired and I switched to mostly spending time in the expo hall meeting with people rather than trying to focus on sessions. Throughout my expo hall adventures I got to meet up with some friends from the Ubuntu community, a contact who I’d only spoken with online from OpenPOWER, and dozens of people I’ve known through various times in my career, who I’ve always been able to geek out with, regardless of my current focus – including mainframes!

Still, I caught the keynotes which were, once again, a bit AI-heavy. It’s important though, I know the tech industry is saturated with AI at the moment, but one of the things the Linux Foundation has the opportunity to be a steward of is the responsible development and use of it, so I’m grateful to see that coming together. Thursday was also delightfully broken up by the ability to pet some animals. I chose the rabbits.

The Open Source Summit is the largest open source events I attend, so I was really grateful to be back after the pandemic hiatus. I had a plan for the week, and accomplished most of what I planned on, but was constantly surprised at other opportunities that sprung up when I met with people. As valuable as the regional conferences are (and they ARE), this one is definitely the best conference of the year for core open source networking.

5 years at IBM

On April 30th 2019 I had my first day at IBM. Five years ago!

I began my job on the road, as would characterize much of 2019, where I met my new boss at IBM TechU, which I wrote about here: IBM TechU 2019 in Atlanta.

It’s with IBM that I found a new way to expand my career by developing a vast network of internal contacts. Prior to this, I’d been quite outward-facing, from getting involved with the Debian and Ubuntu communities at my first Linux Systems Administration job, or giving dozens of talks while I worked on the OpenStack Infrastructure team for HPE. My first foray into developer advocacy at the startup in San Francisco only managed to scratch the surface of internal network development as I brought requests from developers in, and then at IBM I had a gigantic wrench thrown in my plans to continue in the path of developer advocacy: a global pandemic. Less than 11 months into my time with IBM all travel was canceled and all of our work went online.

At first I tried to do the same thing as usual and hope it ended quickly, but I quickly found myself in a position of having to re-write my role to continue being effective. I ended up increasing my involvement with open source software communities who were developing for Linux on IBM Z (and LinuxONE) and I started developing metrics to track our progress. This ultimately led to the to launch a federated Open Source Program Office (OSPO) for IBM Z and LinuxONE. This OSPO would still refer to IBM global resources for policy and procedure, but gave me a virtual doorway for folks internally and externally to ask questions and get guidance. My internal network at IBM grew rapidly as I laid the groundwork for this OSPO, and even more now that it’s been open for a year.

It’s been quite the journey, and becoming the Global Head of this OSPO has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.

First, I get to work closely with open source software communities, which is my true passion. Second, I can directly connect that work to real impact for organizations who are using the platform. Third, I am constantly learning, both technically and through growth in this leadership role. And finally, I’m working with an amazing team with a great manager.

I fully believe that having five strong years at IBM are directly related to having the same supportive boss during my whole time. She has also brought together a team of remarkable, smart, and kind people who I love working with. This is no small feat! And if there’s one thing I’ve learned through my journey in tech, it’s that the people you work with make all the difference. You could be working on a technology you believe in and love, but if you don’t have a good team, your chance of success takes a nosedive. Find your people.

In spite of the progress I’ve been able to make during a global crisis, it’s been amazing to get to see people again as I’ve been able to resume some traveling. 2023 and 2024 have offered several opportunities to meet with my colleagues from around the world and firm up those professional relationships that I treasure so much.

Many thanks to everyone who has been with me at various parts of this journey, and let’s see what the next five years brings!

Texas Linux Fest 2024

The last Texas Linux Fest I attended was all the way back in 2014, which means it had been a full 10 years since I’d been. I was supposed to speak at the event in 2020, but no one spoke in 2020, so I was really happy to finally, finally be back.

But first, I made a stop at the IBM office in Austin where I met up with my colleagues Daniel and Chris. I met Daniel at a taco truck where I had a much-needed post-flight lunch, and then he gave me a tour of the office. I even managed to find a random, roaming IBM Selectric II typewriter!

Then I got to enjoy happy hour out with several other folks from the office before returning back to my hotel for the night.

The first day of the conference I mostly spent meeting people and in the expo hall chatting with folks from Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux. They both have builds for s390x, so it was really nice to finally meet the folks I’ve worked with online, and talk with them in person about their current utilization and changes in needs. And that evening I was able to grab dinner and ice cream with my contact at Rocky Linux.

The second day was the one that was filled with talks. The event kicked off with a keynote from Anita Zhang about her career, and how unexpected choices at various stages led to the success she’s found today. From there I went directly to a talk by Matt Mullins of the Connections Museum Seattle titled “The oldest Linux peripheral” where he talked about a panel switch from 1923 that’s now hooked up to a Linux box to manage operations. It was a really cool talk, and looks to be a fascinating museum with a lot of old telecommunications equipment. The hours they’re open don’t line up with my upcoming visit to Seattle, but maybe next time, I know it’s something MJ would love to see.

From there I went to a talk from Paul Novarese on “The Legacy of Log4Shell and the Future of DevSecOps” where he gave a bit of a tour of the open source security landscape, and shared statistics around the exponentially growing number of open source projects and versions available, along with the corresponding rise in CVE assignments and NIST Vulnerability Database analysis work. Some of his observations centered around the fact that these procedures were developed at a time when the open source ecosystem was a lot smaller, and the dependency chain was somewhat less abstracted (or at least, less complicated). He talked about SBOMs (Software Bill of Materials) that can help organizations get a handle on the supply chain, but analysis and fixes also have to keep up so you have data to search for in that SBOM as you look for vulnerable software.

I took lunch a little early so I could prepare for my talk, and ended up at Terry Black’s BBQ across the street from the venue.

My talk on “Why (and how) would you run Linux on the Mainframe?” went well! It was well-attended and I think about half the attendees had a passing familiarity with mainframes, but a lot of the audience was new to the topic, which is about what I’d expect at a Linux event these days. People had great questions and it was really fun to geek out about it for the rest of the event, even at the after party for the conference the questions and discussions continued over drinks.

From there I went to Kyle J. Davis’ talk “Container Optimized Linux: The best idea you’re probably not using.” He had worked with Bottlerocket, but Flatcar and Talos are also in the host container OS space, and while I vaguely knew they existed, this was the first time I sat down and dedicated a few minutes to hear someone talk about them. The slim model they have for these distributions makes a lot of sense, since you really do only need a tiny, secure, environment to actually run the containers on, and everything can be externally orchestrated. While not directly applicable to me right now (IBM has done a lot of work on our own secure container environments), it is something I’ll keep in mind if the opportunity arises.

The final talk I attended before lightning talks and closing was around the Fedora work with Asahi Linux to bring it to the ARM-based Apple macs. I don’t have a great interest in this hardware specifically, but I always enjoy hearing about other architecture porting work that’s happening, and it was interesting to see the challenges that they’re presented with, along with progress and solutions.

For dinner before the after party I ended up eating with folks I knew from the OpenStack, and broadly, the Fedora community, before we all walked over to the Gibson Street Bar. I was feeling a little tired at this point, but I ended up staying clear through until 10PM. I then took a short detour over to a mailbox to send off a post card for the boys before retiring to my hotel.

Today is Sunday and I’m off on my next adventure: Seattle for the Open Source Summit!

Spring break 2024 in Philly

For spring break (and an extra week) we decided to head out to Philadelphia to visit with the family, and have me do a couple side trips for Poughkeepsie and CPOSC. Unfortunately, for the first week a stomach bug swept through our house. First, Adam was sick for 24 hours. Two days later I came down with it. Two days after that it got Aaron. It meant that we kept believing we were in the clear and then being surprised by another one of us falling ill, and delayed any visits with family. Boo.

Thankfully we were clear by week two, and finally got to see people! Irina and little Sammy came over several evenings, and in spite of some squabbles between our pair of three year olds, it was really nice to just have chill family time at home.

I also decided I wanted to organize the toys a bit better, so one evening Adam helped me assemble a small, metal shelving unit.

Along with a new basket we picked up at Ross for their stuffed animals, the play area of the living room is looking a bit less chaotic now.

We got to hit all our favorite restaurants in the area and visit with our friends Danita and David before they left on their move to Portugal. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate, and we had a bunch of rainy days, and it ended up being quite chilly out. Still, they are my little California boys and they long for the outdoors, so when it wasn’t raining we put on jackets and rode bikes.

The solar eclipse was on Monday, and so was our flight home. It was only partial for Philadelphia, so I didn’t feel that bad about being in the airport when it happened, and it was still a cool experience. It got a little dark outside, and I think it made our flight delayed a little, but that gave Aaron and Adam a little time to check out the cockpit of our plane.

I was only home for a couple of chaotic days before my next trip. I wish I could have planned it better, since Aaron started preschool the same morning I left, so I was scrambling to get everything ready for him. It worked out OK though, and we all made it to our respective places on Thursday. Unfortunately we were also hit with some unfortunate news right before I left, so MJ will need to book some travel very soon, which we’re hoping won’t overlap with my own travels this week.