From Snow to the Snows — in June

Our final full day in Utah was spent on the ski/snowboard slopes at Snowbird. Yes, it was June 10. Let me say that again. June 10. And we were at the slopes. Can you feel hear my heart beating faster? Oh the joy of that day!

The altitude got to Chris a bit (on his fourth run of the day), and he was pretty wiped out after a mogul run 🙂

Lauren and I enjoyed the festival below as the guys boarded and skied.

We wrapped up a perfect day by heading back home and having a lovely dinner out. On the way home we saw a mini-cyclone. Since it didn’t seem to hurt anyone, we thought it was pretty cool. Later that evening we were treated to a view of the strawberry moon rising. So beautiful!

Sunday morning was sad. Don’t be fooled by those smiles in the pics. It was super hard saying goodbye to this incredible couple. We miss them so much already. That entire visit was a gift beyond words.

last day together

One last cup of coffee together. Then time to hit the road.

On Sunday, as we drove, I was forced to admit that if I ever do this trip again, I won’t even attempt to work in the car in Wyoming or Nebraska. The Internet was super sketchy–even with Cricket and Verizon hotspots. Thank goodness for good hotel wi-fi’s and a job with flexible work hours!

Sunday night was spent at a hotel in Nebraska — at a hotel that I will be fine never visiting again. Good news though. If you ever forget your key there, you can get into your room in less than half a second with a credit card 🙂

Monday found us spinning the tires towards friends/co-workers in Missouri. While the day started out nice and sunny, it changed. We didn’t experience any of the tornadoes that were appearing around the country that day (for which we were thankful), but driving was a bit tricky at times, and the hail was pretty loud.

bad weather

In the evening we made it to the home of the Jason and Kristen Snow. They are my co-workers, so many of you might have already met them if you have an upgrade and have used the WordPress live chat options. They also have a fabulous blog. They are nomads so we were lucky to catch them home. In fact, they left shortly after we did for their next Grand Adventure. How we love these two and their three dogs!

I’ve been told by many people in my life that they have never seen people like us. We work super hard then we stop on a dime and play hard. It’s all about balance. My co-workers seem to live by this standard as well.

We relaxed for an evening, slept, then all hit our work super hard for a full day. Barely a sound was heard as Chris did his art, I worked on mobile support for WordPress apps, and Jason and Kristen had meetings and worked on live chat and email support. One of their dogs cuddled close to give me moral support, and I loved it.

The company we work for is distributed, so the hundreds of workers at Automattic work all around the world, anywhere there is Internet. That is how I can literally work on the road as Chris drives. As long as I have Internet connection.

We get together with co-workers a few times a year (hence the Lisbon meetup I still haven’t written about, but I will. At least you know I was in Lisbon for that reason by this point if you follow the blog). But it’s a real treat to work alongside co-workers live in a small-group situation. Many peoples’ norm. Our anomaly. And we learn so much from each other. Very fun day.

Once the work time was over, we took the dogs for a walk to a family/dog-friendly brewery in the area. Talk about delightful! It was hard picking the perfect brew so we all got different flavors and shared sips.

I think my favorite story about this place is that they really celebrate mother’s and have a special day for moms every year. But they have that special day after Mother’s Day so there is no conflict with family celebrations. Love that!

One of the Snow’s dogs was interested in watching children play, another was resting, and the third spent its time eeking up on the bench and as close to Jason as possible. This cracked me up so I made an animation (staying away from the word gif on purpose to avoid controversy). Is this the sweetest thing or what?

Dog kiss

Seriously. Just look at the love. Heart melt!

dog love

We spent the evening at a burger joint that still has me salivating. But I forgot to take images. On the walk back home, we humored Chris by going on Rte 66. As the song says:

Well if you ever plan to motor west
Just take my way it’s the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66…

The next morning we rose relatively early and went to a fantastic coffee shop before leaving. This place has bands and church services at times, I hear, and it also has the best muffins I have ever eaten. Can’t believe I didn’t take a pic. I’m seriously slacking on my job.

Our plan was to drive to Columbus and spend the night. We drove through some hairy weather again, saw a massive fire (I’m guessing from some of the super-scary lighting we saw), but pushed on through to get to Houghton because our car was making some interesting noises.

Remember how we were worried about its making it through the trip? Yeah. We remembered that, too. We churned into Houghton at 3 am ET after 16 hrs of driving (Chris totally rocks. I was working about 9 hrs of it. He did all the driving). After sleeping a few hrs, we crept off to our home in northern NY. And made it!!!!

Back to Mom, my lack-of-beach, and local rainbows.

Now we are closing the chapter on the out-west trip for the year and starting to plan our next life adventures. Starting with a new-to-us car hunt. Anyone have a Honda Fit and/or Chrysler Town and Country you are trying to get rid of? You know how to reach me…. 😉

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. 

In Praise of the Google Translate App

IMG_1044If I were inclined to write poetry today (I’m not– the muse is not in the building), I would write an ode to the Google Translate app. As you may or may not know, in my job  I work mostly in mobile app support for the WordPress app. Since 27% of the Internet runs on WordPress, and many users worldwide use the app, I get a lot of issues in languages I don’t understand. Generally a cut-and-paste into a translate tool works wonders, but it gets problematic when someone send in a screenshot of an issue. That’s when this app comes in really handy.

I have the Google Translate App for both Android and iPhone.  When I get a screenshot, I open the app, download the applicable language then select camera in the app, and I get a translation. This has been invaluable in my work habits. And I’ve also found it really handy in travel.

When Chris and I were in Perugia, we hit the amazing National Archaeological Museum with fabulous history, but very little in regards to English translations. No problem. The app totally covered that, and we learned all sorts of stuff about amulets and recoveries from archaeological digs. So cool.

Now that we are spending a month in a new home in a land where we are far from fluent in the native language, we’re finding the app super handy in basic tasks such as grocery shopping. When you want to make a bean stew and aren’t sure which canned bean is which? The app comes to the rescue.

And it totally saved me from accidentally getting lemon tea when I thought I was getting mint.

It doesn’t just do images. I can type a phrase in English and have it translate to another language. I write my sentence, find a store-keeper, and point to the screen. We are all much happier and effective in our communications, I find.

Oatmeal – Aveia?
We don’t have it – Nós não temos isso.
Communication effectively achieved (I’m not thrilled with the result, but now at least I know to not keep scanning shelves fuitlessly).

Yay, app!

Fortune Cookie

fortune-cookie

It’s impossible to be perfect. And this fortune cookie note I got reminded me that it’s okay. How reassuring is that message? My immediate reaction was “Hey, this is how I want to be for others” in my role as a Happiness Engineer. Then I remembered that since it was my fortune cookie, this was about me. And I realized that the statement is plain old true. It has been true in the past, is true in my present, and odds are high that it will be true in my future. This makes me feel really fortunate. And it makes me think about the importance of helping people in general.

My job, my marriage and my family are all arenas in which I feel particularly blessed. And this fortune philosophy is a main contributor to why my life is so awesome.

Work? WordPress is a seriously powerful program. Every day I help people with networking issues, SEO, site building, writing-sharing, advertising, account changes, etc. I know a lot and do not feel as if I’m not qualified for my job. That said, I sometimes find myself facing situations in which I don’t have an answer. Every day I’m learning more. But I never feel isolated or backed into a corner where I can’t be helpful thanks to my co-workers.

We all have experience in different arenas. If I have a question about analytics or MX records, then a ping to a co-worker will bring someone with experience in those fields to help me (and I help them where I am strong). No judgement from anyone. Just helpful attitudes (and I’m over two years into this job, so I’m not being idealistic. That’s just the beautiful reality of my work environment). Together, we provide answers to those who come to us for help.

I can help because I am helped.

Family? Again, every family member has a strength, and we work together to create good as a unit. I think back especially to the years I was bed-ridden (rough pregnancies and a few surgeries that laid me flat for long periods of time). My in-laws moved in to help us with parenting and household maintenance (as did my friends and members of our church, who provided meals and childcare until my in-laws arrived). We ran a daycare back then, and my husband became licensed so he could cover for me when I was down. My children were young, but they pitched in to help where they could. This made my healing happen faster, and when I was back on my feet, life was manageable, and I didn’t have to deal with the chaos of backlogged tasks.

Again, I could help others (eventually, after I healed) because others helped me.

Marriage? If anyone knows every single weakness I have, it’s my man. But I am very fortunate in the fact that instead of using those weaknesses to knock me down, Chris takes his own strengths to help me grow in those areas if I’m capable. Or to cover for me if I’m not capable. I try to do the same for him.

So there it is. My fortune reminding me of how fortunate I am. I hope I always remember that and reciprocate.

Grabbing HTML for an Image and Link for a Text Widget

In my job as a Happiness Engineer for Automattic, I often get asked how to add an image with a link into a widget area. This can be daunting if someone doesn’t know HTML. But that doesn’t have to deter you. There is a sneaky way to get that code, even without HTML knowledge. This is how to do it:

  1. Create a draft post and insert your image.
    a-insert-image
  2. If you want to add a link to the image, click on the image after it’s inserted and click on the paperclip icon to add your link.
    b-paper-clipc-url
  3. Click on the “HMTL” option at the top of your editing page (next to “Visual”)
    d-html
  4. Copy that code. Note that your code will look similar to what I have in the next image, but the words and links will be different – specialized to your own information.
    e-code
  5. Open your Customize tool and go to Widgets.
    f-customizeg-widgets
  6. Add the Text Widget.
    h-text-widget
  7. Paste your code and save.
    i-code-in-widget
  8. And you will see your image in your widget areas (click it to test your link) 🙂
    j-final

2016 WordCamp US

You know I love WordCamps. And this one is a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!!!! Here I am sitting at the registration dest in Philadelphia, trying to catch my breath after 24 hrs of meeting/greeting/dining/drinking/collaborating and learning with fellow WordPress lovers. Best community EVER!!!

I’m keeping this short and sweet because there is still a lot more to do over the next two days, but wanted to check in to say how awesome this is. If you are in the Philadelphia area, come join us 🙂

These pics are a glimpse into the gathering. There were 1,800 super friendly and intelligent WordPress lovers in the room at lunch today, and a lovely jazz band playing. This is a pretty impressive event. #wcus