I’ll bend the world to our will
And we’ll make time stand still
That’s the plan
Rule the world
Let’s be honest: if I were a supervillain armed with a freeze ray, I’d use it to keep the world around me in perpetual winter. (In this fantasy world, we’re not fighting climate change while worrying about global thermonuclear war. Sigh.)
Here in the imperfect real world, I’m appreciating my favorite season by visiting the frozen north woods of Minnesota. Sun spills over fresh snow, splashing off birch trunks still charred by wildfires a decade ago. The wind chills are no joke, and a day hike can best be described as “bracing”. Love it! Snowshoeing in the north woods is a great time to contemplate life. Trees! More trees! Snow on trees! Snow on ground! Snow on fallen logs! Sky that looks just like the snow everywhere, because it’s about to snow some more! Positively meditative.
Looking back on 2017, the year-that-was, the numbers say it was calmer than my frenetic 2016 of constant travel. In 2017 I gave 2 keynotes, 8 talks, and 2 Ignites. I also participated in 1 panel and 1 co-presentation. Stage time that wasn’t quite a talk includes 1 stint as conference MC and 9 live episodes of the Arrested DevOps podcast – with 6 as an all-day track at a conference (narrator: this seemed like a good idea at the time, but was not).
Numbers don’t tell the whole story; it occurs to me as I’m writing this that I moderated panels at the devops Minneapolis meetup and didn’t think to add them to my speaking list! And the only overseas talk I gave was at a customer internal event in Scotland.
Staying mostly in the US and Canada was a welcome break, although not the best for my airline status. I’m okay with this set of life choices. (We’ll see what 2018 brings; I have at least one overseas commitment already!)
Conventional wisdom is that we don’t leave jobs, we leave managers. When I changed jobs this year, that adage couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
I liked working for my friend Andrew Clay Shafer, but I also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a broad impact at Microsoft. If you’re thinking “wait, WHAT?! You’re working WHERE?!”, you’re in good company; I surprised myself with this move. Microsoft is reinventing itself as an forward-thinking org embracing open source.
I’m part of an amazing organization of advocates; our team (led by Bryan Liston) is focused on Linux and containers. Watch for us at a conference near you, perhaps giving a k8s workshop!
With a little help from my friends
I’m lucky to have super-smart and generous friends in tech. My first talk of 2017 was supposed to be a keynote at SREcon. Due to the passing of Joe’s grandmother whilst I was flying there, though, I co-presented with Charity Majors on her planned topic, and then she gave a keynote while I flew back for the funeral.
Every time I’m putting together a conference lineup, I’m spoiled for choice because I know so many great presenters. If you’re trying to become a better public speaker, watch other people’s talks! You’ll figure out what ideas you can remix, and you’ll get a better sense of how audiences react (while not under the microscope yourself).
If you check out my tracks from GOTO Chicago 2017, Velocity San Jose 2017, devopsdays Minneapolis 2017, and Velocity New York 2017, you’ll see many of my favorite speakers giving awesome talks. Start with Nicole Forsgren and Tim Gross!
Time keeps on slipping into the future
Joe Laha and I celebrated 20 years together in March! To mark the occasion, we spent a week in Iceland hiking on glaciers, climbing ice cliffs, exploring ice caves, watching dolphins frolic from a boat in the harbor, and marveling at the gorgeously desolate landscape.
This trip was entirely apart from anything work-related; we even took Iceland Air to get a direct flight instead of using miles and bouncing through Amsterdam like good Delta hub captives. If you travel a lot for work, a real vacation is an amazing indulgence. A+++ would anniversary again.
On a highway, or a road along the levee
When Paddy and Ethan invited us to their wedding in western Washington State, we could have flown from Minneapolis. But where’s the fun in that? Instead, Joe and I embarked upon an 11-day drive we called #gear2017 - the Great Electric American Roadtrip. I upended the trip midway because I decided I wanted to make it all the way to the coast where I could dangle my feet in the ocean. Turns out the water at Seaside, Oregon is absolutely frigid!
The wedding was, of course, delightful (especially the part where we got to hang out with Ry4an!)
the machinery for change
Looking ahead to 2018, my schedule looks likely to have more interactive workshops than solo presentations. I’m curating great content for podcasts, meetups, and conferences; I’m going to keep building a better tech world by making space for under-represented voices. I’m going to keep being a unix nerd at Microsoft, acting as the voice of the end users to our amazing product org. Even before we get into however dramatic 2018 might be (and you’d better believe I read Electoral Vote every single morning), I’m excited. How could I not be, on this team? :)
Freeze rays don’t exist. We can’t preserve a single perfect moment in time. We can make more moments worth remembering, and that’s exactly what I plan for 2018.