Our Lisbon Meetup Begins :)

Since I work for a distributed company, I only get to see my coworkers in person twice a year. Last year my team met up in Durham, and this year it’s Lisbon. Another team is here at the same time, and another team will be coming halfway to the week so I get to see lots of my Automattic buddies. 

There is just something super exciting about knowing that your friends and coworkers are all on planes and trains and busses, heading your way for a week of in-person collaborations, learning and fun.

This picture shows where James and I are hanging out at our co-working office for the week. We are working outdoors as we wait for our teammates to arrive. 

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Fireside Dining

This meal deserves a post of its own. Our Christmas present from Lauren and CJ was dinner at Fireside Dining at Deer Valley last Friday night. I don’t know what was more impressive. The ambiance or the meal itself. I do know the best part was the company (and that’s saying an awful lot ‘cuz the food and ambiance were phenomenal).

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We drove up snowy roads. Up and up and up, well past the World Cup hill where participants were wrapping up their tricks. The snow fairies were fluffy and swirly, creating shimmering reflections off the lights that decorated trees all along our path. It felt like Christmas again 🙂

As we stepped into the lodge we were greeted by a host who brought us into the dining room. A room that serves as ski lodge by day and ambrosial offerings by night. A huge fireplace crackled on one wall, while another wall was filled with large windows that looked out on a idyllic winter scene. A horse-drawn sleigh went by at regular intervals, completing the picture. (If you look really hard, you can see it in the background of this clip — going from right to left.)

What did we eat? Oh, what did we eat!!! There were four fireplaces, each in a different room. All our hot food was cooked on the fires. Our menu was very similar to this (we had boar rather than quail, and there were minor other differences):

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Ready for your mouth to water? Check out some of what we ate:

Chris topped off his meal with an espresso. Divine decadence.

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The snow was piled high as we headed home to rest.

What a perfect evening and wonderful gift. I will treasure this memory forever.

Drama With Delta

Delta is my favorite airline to fly. Generally flying with them is seamless and pleasant, in my experience. But recently we had a glitch.

Note: That featured image is from a flight a couple of years ago. This is our weather today:

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Here’s the story:

Today Chris and I are headed out to Utah to see CJ, Lauren and Zeb (and to ski and snowboard, and see some co-workers, and …you get the gist of this.) We are on vacation!!!!!!

The incredible company I work for (Automattic) encourages us to take off when we want, and when I mentioned this trip, is was beautiful to see how team-mates shuffled work-loads around to cover my work while I am gone. In addition to getting to take of time whenever we want, we are very flexible on how we schedule our time on a day-to-day basis. I chose to put in a few longer days over the weekend so I was officially AFK by 1pm yesterday.

You know that incredible feeling of freedom when you close out of work to go on vacation? Even when you love your job? That’s what I was feeling as I joined my husband and dog for a walk at the beach. As we walked, Chris and I talked about how whether or not we should offer to get bumped if the situation arose (we discuss that before every trip). I commented that it would be really good to come up with a plan this time since Delta is recovering from a computer glitch and might still be trying to find places on flights.

Feeling like I should get packing, I cut the timing short.

As soon as we got home I went to check in with the airline and discovered that there were no tickets for Chris!!!!

Back-tracking a bit here. Last April I chose to get bumped from a flight and received a $700 voucher to use on flights within a year. Chris and I had planned to drive out to Utah for this visit, but as winter storms started hitting, I chickened out, and we decided to use the voucher for flights to visit the kids young adults. In early January I discovered that I couldn’t get those tickets online so I called Delta. Informed that only I could use the voucher, we paid for Chris’ ticket separately (BOGO is better than nothing). I checked my email and saw the confirmation came through.

**Note to future self – actually open and read confirmations in the future**

So back to yesterday.

When Chris’s ticket didn’t show up on the page no matter how many times I refreshed, I checked out that confirmation. Sure enough. Only my name was on it. I looked at every credit card statement I had and realized we were never billed for his flight. I looked at our points from credit cards and airlines to see if we paid in travel miles anywhere.

Nada.

My pulse was seriously rising. I think my Apple watch thought I was working out, but it was simply sheer panic.

I work in tech/customer support, and I know what it’s like to be on the other end. Sometimes no matter how much you want to help someone, it just isn’t possible. I was about to call Delta, asking where my husband’s ticket was, with no proof of purchase, no credit, and no recording of the conversation I had when I purchased my ticket. And I was doing this right on the tail of their own computer crash as they were re-appropriating other passengers. Talk about horrible timing.

Before calling, I looked at options and realized we still could get Chris a flight, but it would use up almost all our saved points. Or we could shell out $1,1oo. Definitely not optimal.

Generally when I call Delta, I use their regular customer service #. In the best of times, I get put on hold for a minute then request a call-back, and they contact me 30-90 minutes later. I braced for a longer wait time based on circumstances and tried to do some yoga breathing to calm my racing heart. Then I saw a spot on their website that had a number to call if you had a skymiles # (which I did). I called and got help in less than 30 seconds! I explained the situation, and it was no problem at all. They apologized for any confusion and booked Chris on the same flights as me, and even used the rest of my voucher for it! I’m still a bit blown away by that.

So my panic turned to praise. And the entire ordeal took two hrs. (Over 90 minutes of that was my own panicking and hunting for proof of what had happened.)

Once again I am reminded of why Delta is my favorite airline, and I look forward to getting on my flight today. Especially since I get to see our kiddos on the other end 🙂

Another Son Heads to Utah

img_0472Aaaaah, the call of the mountains.

CJ and Lauren raved about life out west so much that Zeb decided to give it a try. On Wednesday he headed out to work at Deer Valley (where CJ is a ski instructor, and Lauren works with housing).

I’m proud of his willingness to venture away from the safe zone of home. And I’m super proud of his mad travel skills. That backpack carries all he felt he needed through at least April!

I think I would have been a bit sad about his leaving, but I knew I’d be seeing him soon. We’re headed to visit the young adults and hit some slopes this week! Wahoo!

And from the pics he texted, I’m thinking he’s all right with the move 😉

(Images shared with permission from Zeb)

Meeting/Greeting Settling and Planning

It’s so beautiful here in Canada! We had a two-ish-hour bus ride from the airport to Whistler, and I was desperate for sleep (had already been traveling for 11 hrs), but I couldn’t allow myself to nap. The scenery was breath-taking. And the bus driver kept us well-entertained with a history of the area and fun facts about the place we passed.

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But let me back up. I had the smoothest trip one could possibly imagine. I met up with 13 co-workers in Minneapolis and enjoyed the flight with friends.

 

Customs looked a bit daunting, but the lines moved fast. The airport was beautiful, and I enjoyed hearing the background sound of water from the art fountain pictured here as we went through the line.

We reconnected with friends/co-workers we already knew and met some new ones.

Then settled into the hotel. My room is gorgeous and will be a nice respite when I need a break from socialising (as if).

Remember that toothpaste I was worried about? Not an issue. I forgot that the company cares for us so well that they had provided all sorts of things we might need (apparently mint-chocolates are a necessity, because there was a basket of those along with sunblock, toothpaste and other necessities 🙂

We had a lovely Welcome dinner with veggies, cheeses, meats, sushi, dumplings and pasta.

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Then off to be for me. I was exhausted!!!!

Now I’m off to breakfast and meetings with my team. It’s going to be a busy work day, and I can’t wait.

 

 

Packing and GM Prep

Pride isn’t a super attractive trait. That said, I’m pretty proud of my latest packing feat. It’s always my goal to pack light–usually packing for a week in a single backpack. I went a bit over that this time, but not much. These were the factors I had to incorporate:

Travel for a week in Whistler, Canada. (Passport and paperwork essential.) Temperatures in a high near 70F for half the week, and highs in the mid 40s the other half. Nights in the 30s (and I have to walk to restaurants). And room to bring home extra stuff I accumulate during the week.

Events to pack for:

  • Presenting a flash talk
  • Teaching a short class
  • Attending workshops/classes/meetings
  • Early morning (cold) walks with friends/co-workers.
  • Three hrs mountain biking (rain predicted)
  • An ecology/geology walk
  • A jiujitsu class
  • Two swing dance classes
  • An escape room
  • A party for which we were encouraged to bring neon and sparkly clothing

This took a lot of thought…compounded by the fact that I had to find warmer clothes, which were still in boxes from our move. And I discovered key essentials (such as travel toothpaste) were still safely ensconced at our old house, three hrs away.

But I did it! And I have a bag mostly empty, ready to bring home swag I pick up at the Grand Meetup 🙂

What’s the GM? I work for a distributed company and interact very closely with my co-workers in an online environment, but all 450-ish of us only get to meet face-to-face one time a year. (We have smaller team meetups during the year, but this is the biggie.)

For an entire week we play, bond, pool brain power to make WordPress.com/Jetpack/mobile apps (I wrote this using the WordPress mobile app while I was on the plane yesterday)/etc. better. In short, I get to geek out and collaborate with others like me with no guilt.

It’s exhausting, exhilarating and inspirational. Meeting my co-workers makes me more comfortable working with them online throughout the year, and I love how this team effort helps us help others.

And I’m super happy I got all the traveling stuff in my bag.