Category Archives: Me

Goodbye 2011, I barely knew you

2011 was a blur.

I managed to fly 114K miles and spent time on 3 continents.

In the middle, we moved a family of 4 from Salt Lake City to Pittsburgh and managed to survive the first half of my wife’s first year of medical residency. I’ll spare the gore, but it isn’t for the faint of heart.

My 2011 was filled with a mix of cloud, OpenStack, devops, startups, Agile and business lessons. There were triumphs and some disappointments, but I am grateful for and humbled by all the amazing things I get to see and the people I get to work with.

I spoke at some conferences, helped organize a few events, wrote a bit of code, I designed architectures, I outlined strategy, but the details I really cherish are the good friends, good conversations and good food. I’ll assume most of you know who you are but there were plenty of people I missed in 2011 and hope 2012 provides more opportunities in that regard.

2011 is deployed.

The arrival of 2012 brings both excitement and trepidation. Big things are already underway, but I don’t want to jinx anything. Here’s to good friends, good conversations and good food.

2012, Bring it.



If you can’t be thankful for what you have, be thankful for what you have escaped.

The difference in so many things just comes down to perspective.

Is that glass half empty or is it half air?

I have so much to be thankful for, a beautiful intelligent wife, two amazing little boys, relatively good health and relatively abundant resources.

Yesterday, I decided to run a race and solicit donations for cancer research.

At the time, I just thought I would run because I wanted to and I’d try to get money for a good cause.

You can learn a lot about people when you ask them for money.

I spent much of the last year asking people for money. Buying or giving, people often have unique reasons and circumstances when they hand over their money.

I watched my sister die from cancer. I edited my goal for donations from $200 (the default) to $1000, because $200 just seemed like so little. Today I was pleasantly surprised by the donations I got and who I got them from.

Initially, I had planned to put a couple pictures of my sister up and write a little more about her, but then someone I respect got upset with that plan. In this persons perspective, doing that was disrespectful to my sister’s memory. I don’t share the same perspective, but this person did make a point that stuck. Which was that $1000 is relatively insignificant in the larger scheme of things.

Though choice and circumstance, I could easily donate $1000 and not sacrifice much. If I was willing to sacrifice for a cause, I could put $10,000 and cut back on a few things to make it work. $100,000 is out of the question for my little family, at least in the near future.

At the same time, my wife is a medical resident and I seem to be relatively adept at generating income and business ideas. If we really want to have an impact on this issue, the future is wide open. Stuff that matters… all in good time…

I want to clarify one detail, I watched my sister die from cancer.

She was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma with a primary tumor in the pericardium, which had already metastasized to her lungs when diagnosed. Through the process, she met several young people who were battling this form of cancer, and one by one, we saw them all wither. None that I know of lived through this.

At some point, my sister was in a coma and intubated. She came out of the coma, but we never got to hear her voice again. She struggled on and the doctors had basically cut her in half trying to remove the tumors. When it became clear that she was not going to make it much longer, she begged to go home.

The last few days, she laid in my mother’s living room with a machine breathing for her. She couldn’t speak, but she could communicate by mouthing words and making gestures. Even though she hadn’t been home for months, and there was no way to get her up the stairs to her room, she could still remember every detail and would make requests to be brought things.

Everything about her was perfect and beautiful except for her lungs which were decimated by tumors and treatments.

She became edematous and faded more and more from this world.

I held her hand when they unplugged the machines.

That was almost 10 year ago.

I am thankful that I had a sister. Her name was Ann Shafer.

One day, I hope to be in a position to honor her name with more than $1000 in donations.

I’m not asking anyone for money, but I do appreciate the support that giving symbolizes.

If you have abundance in your life, do stuff that matters with it.

If you don’t, be thankful for what you have and do what you can to cultivate and be a good steward.

2009: To Be Is To Do

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

— Albert Einstein

Can someone help me scratch an itch?

Can someone help me scratch an itch?

2008 was a hard year for me. 2008 was also a wonderful year for me. I just felt like at times there just was too many plates to keep spinning. Most of them are still spinning and there is surprisingly little to sweep up, but there was enough wobbling to make things painfully interesting. The whirlwind year saw my wife graduate from medical school and my second son turn one. I joined forces with Luke and I started blogging. Since June, I was in Los Angeles, Nashville, Portland OR, Toronto and San Fransisco twice, for a week each time. I got to meet a lot of interesting people, was introduced to a lot of new ideas and I was able to share some of mine. I can’t say I was totally ineffective, but one thing 2008 exposed to me is a lot of my inefficiencies.

Don't breathe

Don't breathe

I decided the theme for 2009 was going to be ‘Embrace the Suck’, not because I believe 2009 is shaping up to be so horrible, but because I know there will be things out of my control. C’est la vie is the kinder gentler version of the same sentiment. There are things I can control and things I cannot but if I can’t control myself, what can I hope to effect? Whatever the circumstances, the choice is always between two extremes. Duality can take many forms, but I think the lens most useful for myself is love vs. fear. ‘Embrace the Suck’ might be another way of saying ‘love the fear’. I’m going to do my best to be motivated by passion and love, while minimizing justification and self delusion.

I’m also going to try to be more balanced.

I like to move it move it

I like to move it move it

Not static balance, dynamic balance… Martha Graham mixed with Bruce Lee, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The balance that is throwing your center of gravity and not letting it get away. The balance of extremes, a swinging mobile with long levers sweeping through space and time, manifesting very little in the center, balanced duality, appropriately more kind and more fierce. 2009 will be more stillness when resting and more intensity when not. More exertion and more replenishment…

So far, so good, started off the year by making some new friends at the URUG hackfest. We had hoped to master Support Vector Machines, but that was a bit ambitious for an afternoon, but we did enough to get a handle on the problem, and liked the experience enough to commit to doing it regularly. Something good should come out of that. I’ve committed to learning LISP this year (maybe the dragon book next) and we’ll see if I can’t make just a bit of headway on some other languages as well. I’ve got a lot of different goals and responsibilities for Reductive Labs this year, definitely taking that into uncharted territory one way or another. 2009 is going to be a lot of things, not sure what exactly, but I’m not waiting to find out.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.

–Robert Heinlein

Let’s get this party started… The spice must flow

I’m ready for you 2009, bring it on…

Only I will remain…

The Me Meme

Villager... not a werewolf...

Villager... not a werewolf...

Take a picture of yourself right now.
Don’t change your clothes, don’t fix your hair…just take a picture. (should be super-easy with Photobooth)
Post that picture with NO editing.
Post these instructions with your picture.

via raganwald

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