San Francisco

The main purpose of my trip to the states was to get to visit the client I work for, problem-attic, in their offices outside of San Francisco. It’s funny, you’d think being remote that maybe there’s no need, or at least not much of value to be gained in visiting, however, it was totally worth it. It was great to meet the team (and parts of the team that I had very little contact with before). I really enjoyed meeting them, a thoroughly nice bunch of people. I also got to meet Grace, a developer who used to work at Problem-Attic that I definitely miss having around :( . Thanks to Dan and the team for showing me a really great time, making me feel like one of the team, and for all the great little local eateries. I really do miss quality Mexican food!. Nyom.

TEAMMATES!Grace Norbert and meDan and meAlcatrazGolden Gate, maybeNot golden gate

I also managed to meet up with David Jones, my old boss from resolve digital who is now working at percy which sounds like it’s a very good startup and sounds very much like it’s on track for great things! I’m extremely excited for him after hearing all about it! He very kindly invited me over for dinner at his & Amy’s place, it was a really lovely evening. Then the morning I was due to fly out we went for a really nice little bike ride up Twin Peaks..

Me and Dave

I did manage to have a quick catch up with cousins who are living in Berkeley. I totally messed up my dates though so I didn’t get to see them all! There had been some massive fires in California which were actually only a few km’s from their house – very lucky in a way. However, knowing what it’s like after big disasters (in our case, earthquakes), I’m quite sure the putting-stuff-back-together-process is going to take quite a while.

It was funny being back in San Francisco, as I’d spent 3 months there when I was 19 on my J1 student visa. I admit to being quite surprised that there wasn’t free Wi-Fi on the BART, I mean, this is silicon valley right? ;) I didn’t quite manage to get to our old apartment on Post street. I remember at the time we thought it a complete rip off at about $1200p/m, sounds like that would be a ridiculously cheap price these days.

All in all a fantastic trip, but, it was still lovely to fly back in over Golden Bay and get a decent flat-white and a pie ;)

pie and coffeeGolden Bay

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Taking advantage of being remote

I’m in a fortunate position. I’m currently working as a remote (Ruby on Rails) developer for a client in San Francisco. There are definitely pluses and minuses to being remote. I like the flexibility and freedom of it. I like being able to sneak off for an early afternoon game of squash with my friend Warrick. I very much dislike being the main developer on the team and not having smarter people to go ask questions from. I dislike not having a team around me from the purely sociable aspect of things, being able to show someone the latest ridiculous cat video that you’ve come across on Twitter, that sort of thing. That said, being in quite a nice co-working space definitely makes a difference.

I have no idea how long this position will last, I hope a while, but who knows. So, I decided to take advantage of the situation and go and work remotely from Minneapolis where my sister lives. I mean, why not? It makes no difference where I am (within reason), so, great to be able to work 9-5 but enjoy their company in the evenings & weekends. Also, I’d never actually met the client, so, it was about time to actually meet as I’ve been working with them for about 4 years at this stage. Thanks to Maaike for being massively supportive and pushing me to head away for the three weeks.

So, I flew to Minneapolis and just spent a couple of weeks hanging out. It was super fun. Tim has a pinball machine, and I spent far too many hours playing the damn thing. Still didn’t come close to his high score, not even remotely. It was lovely to just spend some regular time, just hanging out. Meeting their chickens, playing pinball, going on nice walks through the countryside, playing more pinball, eating frozen yoghurt at The Yogurt Lab, playing more pinball, going to a country festival and corn maze, playing more pinball. It was just lovely. Never did beat Liz or Tim’s high score at pinball. I’ll be back ;)

I also took advantage of the network of remote offices that I’m allowed to use because of the NZ place I go to being a member of lexc, very handy. The grain exchange office in downtown Minneapolis was amazingly cool. The huge display you can see was somewhat programmable.. so much fun!

Also, it was Halloween time as you can see from the decorations around the house. We went to a specialised shop where you could buy your fake chainsaws ;) They really take it seriously.

The two weeks flew by, and then it was off to San Francisco… I’m super lucky to have had this opportunity, and I’m glad I made the most of it. Thanks very much to Liz & Tim (and the kids) for putting up with an interloper :)

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Dressing up.

Our friend Alison organises the Nurse Maude (hospice) black tie fundraiser each year, and this year we went along.

I was wearing the same tux from college days, well, mostly the same tux. The shirt had shrunk (I’m sure it was that) so, got a new one of those. Then found out that the burglars had stolen my dress shoes, and the nice comfortable ones I used to have weren’t available any more :( Also, my trousers seemed to have shrunk too, at least around the waist. I’m sure it’s not that I eat too much and exercise too little. Can’t be that ;)

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Best day of the season (Cheeseman)

The ski season arrived late, but, it arrived late with a passion. There have been quite a lot of largish snow falls in September. Maaike, Ian and I headed up on a Monday to Cheeseman. There were probably about 30 people on the ski field.. and really immaculate conditions.

The only scary thing was the drive up…

After our last car was stolen, we got a 2005 Subaru Outback. They’re 4wd (well, AWD), decent clearance, should be able to get up a ski field road without too many issues (with chains on anyway). Unfortunately for me, I’m not used to fancy cars with traction control. What happened (or at least, what I think happened) was that as we were driving up, the fancy traction control system thought we were losing traction (back wheels probably were), and so it kills power to those wheels to attempt to regain control. There is a button you can press to turn off part of the traction control system. I only found this out when getting to the top and the guy who’d been following us up the ski field told me about it. So, a non-fun time getting up the ski field, we were driving sideways for a lot of it :(

STILL! once we were up, fresh powder everywhere and just perfect conditions.



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Good things from earthquakes

Maaike and I went off for a nice bike ride in the port hills (basically out the backdoor). It’s a nice little loop, climbs steeply up and then along the tops, giving nice views out to the alps and up the coastline.

It’s also election season at the moment. I’ve been volunteering with the greens, just compiling some of their walklist data, calling data etc. Nothing particularly tricky, but, nice to help out. I’d love to see a change in government, something with a bit more of a social conscience. Which is why I was extra annoyed when out biking and seeing the National MP Nik Kurako out campaigning. They were driving along, beeping their horns (against the road code), parking in the bike lanes… super annoying.

I did catch up to him and politely ask if they could stop beeping their horns and parking in the bike lanes. His response was “Move along John, move along”. We “chatted” a bit more, and Nuk, picking up on my accent asked “Was I enjoying living in their country”.. I explained that yes, I was, and that I was a citizen. He then said he was tangata whenua (meaning people of the land / indigenous), which seemed somewhat diversive to me. I mean yes, he is, but, he’s a politician for all of us, or should be. It did give me an excuse to rant on twitter though.

As I biked off, they all beeped.

Well, it’s the election on the 23rd, and I certainly hope National get roundly beaten. Whether they will or not, who knows… it’s a funny old world we live in.

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