What’s new for us in pandemic times

Wow, 2020 has been… a year, hasn’t it?

My heart goes out to everyone that has lost loved ones due to this horrible virus, to the folks struggling due to lost jobs and lost income, to the front line healthcare workers putting their lives on the line to take care of our sick, to our critical workers who are still staffing our grocery stores, shipping companies, etc, and to everyone else struggling during these trying times.

Shifting to school at home

With in person schooling shut down, it has been a big shift getting our 8 year old boys to do school work at home, which has required the use of a lot more online resources. The first few weeks required just about constant help, but they did settle in after awhile and have adapted well to using Google Meet, Flipgrid, Canvas, and other online tools for their assignments.

We’re fortunate that Tera has been able to dedicate time to helping the boys, and I can’t see how a household with both parents working full time could possibly juggle this.

What else have we been doing?

We’ve been doing family walks and/or bicycling around the neighborhood, getting out just about every day.

Dylan left, Ashton right, getting ready for take off on another bicycle ride around the ‘hood.

It’s been amazing to see the boys progress and get more confident on their bicycles. We’ve had a few crashes, scrapes and bruises, of course, but nothing major, thankfully.

We’ve been playing a lot more board games, like Ticket to Ride, Splendor, Catan, Monopoly, Rummikub, and others. Dylan’s favorite is Monopoly (adult edition) and Ashton’s is Ticket to Ride, although Ashton is not a huge fan of playing board games in general. I’ve really been digging Splendor.

We’re doing more outdoor activity now that it has warmed up. Other than bicycling, we get out on the trampoline, play corn hole, tennis, croquet, and we’re always looking for new outdoor activities to try (we still need to put our pickel ball equipment to the test!).

Pausing for a break on one of our neighborhood walks

I’ve been doing 100 pushups/day and ~60 “air squats” per day, attempting to increase my strength. Tera’s still working out on the elliptical, doing some HIIT workouts, yoga, and meditation.

I’ve been trying to learn to play the guitar and also doing a lot of reading.

My ever growing list of in-progress books includes; Designing Data Intensive Applications, This is Lean, The Imposter’s Handbook, Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams, Accelerate (second time through), and The Stormlight Archive. In addition, most nights I read a chapter out of “The Chronicles of Narnia” to the boys.

Authoring & community involvement

I recently completed the process of creating a new Pluralsight Curriculum instructional plan on Salt Open (SaltStack), which was an interesting experience. Next up, I’m working on a Pluralsight Cloud Lab on AWS CodePipeline!

Pluralsight Marketing asked me to do a webinar for Australia folks, based on my video course (DevOps on AWS: Getting Started). That occurred on April 29th at 9PM MT. I had a minor demo fail, but it was still a good experience for me as my very first webinar presentation!

On May 12th, I presented on the AWS CLI and shell scripting at the AWS PUG (Portsmouth User Group) Meetup, based in New Hampshire.

The genesis of my invitation to this is interesting. The meetup organizer (Chris Williams) saw my bio in the book Python for DevOps ( I was a technical reviewer on the book ), and reached out asking if I’d be willing to present.

The meetup went well and resulted in some fun Q&A and conversations. Getting involved in meetups, conferences and other events is rewarding for me. I really enjoy being part of the Tech community and interacting with my fellow industry professionals.

What’s new with you?

How to #DeleteFacebook

Facebook, as a company, has repeatedly violated their users’ trust and engaged in unethical, hostile behaviors towards user privacy and data custody.

A small subset of examples include:
– The Cambridge Analytica scandal
– Facebook failing to properly enforce safeguards for 3rd party apps, which led to massive data mining & theft of user information by third parties
– The Facebook Mobile app recording audio without users’ consent
– Facebook hiding privacy controls, setting poor defaults, and making the options difficult to use
– Facebook falsely inflating video viewership stats, which prompted a massive increase in video ad spending on the platform
– Facebook aggressively employing underhanded tactics that attempt to force users into using their privacy invasive mobile “Messenger” app in order to communicate with others on the platform

If you’re considering disassociating yourself from all-things-Facebook due to the above reasons, and others, then read on!

#DeleteFacebook Step 1: Download your Facebook data

The first thing you’ll want to do is download a copy of your Facebook data, which includes your posts and media (photos and videos).

On the Your Facebook Information page (access from a desktop), you’ll see a link to a Download Your Information page.

If you’re looking for this page from the Facebook desktop browser experience, you can click on the little down arrow on the top blue bar at the very right, click Settings from the drop-down menu, then click “Your Facebook Information” from the left hand column menu, and finally, click “Download Your Information”.


On this page, you can click the “Create File” blue button on the right hand side to start the process of exporting all of your data. Pay attention to all of the options here. I suggest updating “Media Quality” to “High” to get the best quality photos and videos from your export.

Once this process has started, Facebook will begin the process of exporting and bundling your data into a downloadable zip file. Once the file is ready, they will notify you via email. This can take minutes, hours, or days, depending upon the amount of data you have on the platform.

#DeleteFacebook Step 2: Notify your friends that you’re leaving the platform

We’ve all probably experienced a Facebook friend that disappeared abruptly, or the friend that creates new Facebook accounts on a routine basis.

To help brace your network for your #DeleteFacebook exit, you should provide notification. Come up with a schedule and stick to it. Perhaps you’ll post a one time warning and then be done with it. Others might want to post a few times over a period of a week, or a month, to let friends and family know that they’ll be disappearing from the anti-privacy Facebook platform.

#DeleteFacebook Step 3 (optional): Change your Name

Facebook is supposed to delete your account and all of your data when you use the “Permanently Delete Account” option, but due to the company’s multitude of user and data privacy violations in the past, it might be best to update your Name before deleting your account.

You may also want to change your Username on the settings page, especially if it has your real name in it. The Username is used to create your profile URL.

#DeleteFacebook Step 4: Permanently Delete Your Account

When you’re ready to enter the nuclear launch (deletion) codes, head on over to the Deactivate Delete Account page.

Select the radio button for the bottom option “Permanently Delete Account”, then click the blue button for “Continue to Account Deletion”.

On this “Permanently Delete Account” page, Facebook warns you that deleting your account also eradicates your “Messenger” messages, reminds you that you can Download Your Information before deleting it all, and it warns you that if you are the only Admin for a Facebook Page or Pages, that those Pages will “no longer be published”. If you want any of your Facebook pages to remain active that you are the sole admin on, make sure to designate another admin for those pages before deleting your account.

Click that blue “Delete Account” button and revel in the satisfaction that you are escaping these privacy-invasive devils! You’ll then see a “Confirm Permanent Account Deletion” pop-up, as shown below.

After clicking “Delete Account”, you’ll be logged out and you’ll see the informational box shown below.

#DeleteFacebook Step 5: wait 30 days

After waiting 30 days, your account and data will be permanently deleted! ( supposedly! )

#DeleteFacebook also includes Instagram and WhatsApp

Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp, and they’re in the process of unifying their privacy-invasive messaging platform across all of their products. This means that you should not only #DeleteFacebook but also #DeleteInstagram and #DeleteWhatsApp

Alternatives to Faceook

I plan to continue being active on Twitter and LinkedIn, but there are many other alternatives to the Facebook conglomerate. I also intend to post more on this site, which will help contribute to a more healthy, decentralized web.

If you’re looking for decentralized social networks, have a look at Mastodon and Diaspora.

Have you participated in the #DeleteFacebook movement? If so, how did it go for you? Leave us a comment to share your experiences.

Funny stuff that our toddlers do

[written 2013-06-17]

As you might expect, a couple of 2 year old toddler boys do funny stuff ALL the time.

tongue laughers

Above is an animation of Ashton touching Dylan’s tongue when he sticks it out, which they both found to be superbly hilarious.

ashton carseat

Ashton is obsessed with cookies and calls out for a cookie whenever he’s hungry or if he thinks that one might be nearby. The funny thing is that instead of saying cook-ie, he pronounces it as “coo-kah” and says it over and over (and over) again. Coo-kah, coo-kah, coo-kah! It’s hilarious and adorable. He knows that they come from the pantry, so he’ll often point to the pantry or go to the pantry door and ask for a coo-kah repeatedly.

dylan with momma

Dylan is still an eyelash lover. He constantly touches his eyelashes, especially when he is upset or tired. But it doesn’t have to be one of those situations, he just loves touching them constantly. It’s definitely a comfort thing for him. He also loves his sleep sheep stuffed animal, which has recently surpassed the meerkat and Elmo in popularity for him.

Dylan LOVES ducks and birds.

Dylan does a squinty smile and lays his head on my knee.

Ashton and Dylan’s 1st day of Soccer!

Ashton and Dylan’s 1st day of Soccer!

Toddler soccer is like a chaotic fire drill. Kids are running every which way, grabbing the ball with their hands, bonking heads, kicking the ball in their own goal, too many players on the field due to kids refusing to sit out, and all sorts of other mayhem.

Dylan and Ashton seemed to have a good time, and if nothing else, it’s a good opportunity for them to socialize and interact with other chitlins.

Lots of practice ahead! Viva futball!

2014 Google Plus Year in Photos

Google+ uses its nifty “auto-awesome” photo and video enhancement features to automagically produce a “Year in Photos” video for users. Below is the resulting 2014 Year in Photos video for us, which turned out pretty dang good for an auto-generated video!

Of course, if I would have hand-picked all of the 2014 photos going into this, I would’ve selected some different ones, but considering that I had to do zero work on this whatsoever, Google does a great job.

Photos/video featured, in order of appearance:

  • Tera and Ashton on the historic Heber Valley railroad. We had a great time on a little weekend getaway up in the mountains, visiting Heber, riding the railroad, and staying in Midway.
  • Wes and Ashton in Springdale, on our weekend trip to Zion National Park.
  • Dylan and Ashton, lounging in Springdale.
  • Ashton and Dylan (with froggy & monkey backpacks) on a hike in Zion National Park.
  • Chillin on a rock in Zion.
  • Driving a shopping cart car at Smith’s marketplace in Bountiful.
  • Ashton feeding Dylan some rice at Mikado.
  • Dylan snoozin.
  • Trampolin’in.
  • Momma with the boys, floating in the hot tub at our hotel, in Park City, UT.
  • Aviator Ashton and Dylan taking to the skies in Park City.
  • Playing at the sandy beach at Bear Lake, Idaho.
  • Dylan in the grass at the South Davis Rec Center. I remember this photo distinctly because I was chasing Dylan all over the lawn trying to snap a photo, all while he was laughing joyfully and playing the “avoid the photo” game.
  • Summer time pool fun, our back yard.
  • Pineview lake sandy beaches, this past summer. Great times with Papa and Nana.
  • Wes, Ava, Eric, Jason group photo while standing in the Great Salt Lake (while also being attacked by disgusting, biting brine flies).
  • My Mom, Antelope island.
  • Ashton & Dylan with cousin Ava.
  • Water toys at Discovery Gateway.
  • Play-doh apple tree activity at Discovery Gateway.
  • Ashton at the Rose park playground.
  • The boys with their first candy canes, while dad shopped at Lowe’s.
  • The play grocery store at Discovery Gateway.
  • Our first snow man!
  • Ashton deep in concentration, throwing snowballs.

Vibrant turquoise waters of Bear Lake

This past weekend we made the drive up north to visit Bear Lake. Sliced just about symmetrically by the Utah/Idaho border, the lake is nestled in the mountains, offering up sandy beaches, gorgeous views and unbelievably bright blue-green aqua water.


The photo above does not accurately capture the brilliance, beauty and vibrant colors of the lake water.

We stayed in a dinky, miniature cabin (and I use that term loosely), at the KOA camp grounds at Bear Lake.

The place was wayyy too small for 2 adults and 2 toddlers. Sardine life FTL! Tera guesstimated it at about 200 square feet.


Thankfully the KOA grounds do offer many family friendly amenities such as a jumping pillow, a playground, pools, etc. We got settled in on Friday and then hung out at the playground and pool whilst sipping on a few brewskis. The boys thoroughly enjoyed the pool while wearing their life jackets. The boys enjoyed floating, bobbing, spinning, swimming, splashing and playing with us.

Day 2

On our second day, we drove up to the North beach area to meet our friends who were RV’ing it up.


It was a cold, windy, drizzly day, but we still had a good time hanging with friends by the campfire, letting the boys play at the beach with Jozie and spending some time in the hot springs pool, directly adjacent to our friends’ camp site.


The camper door and mini sliding window was a hit with the boys

After hanging at the camp for a bit, we were off to the beach for some play time!





The boys found a sand castle and immediately stomped down the towers. We built a couple more towers, which were then promptly destroyed, naturally. After that, wet sand balls were harvested and tossed into the puddles for a half hour of fun.




If you couldn’t tell, I was thoroughly impressed by the beauty of Bear lake and I would like to return when it’s warmer, and not stay at the KOA.

Thank you to LaDawn, Dave and family for inviting us out!



Happy Easter 2014!


Happy Easter! This year, we held a backyard Easter egg hunt for the boys mid-week and then on the weekend, we attended the “6th Annual Vegan Easter (no) Egg Hunt and vegan potluck!” organized by veganfamilies.org and sponsored by Cakewalk Baking Company. Huge thanks to Kelly Green, Cakewalk and all volunteers for putting on this amazing event!





We captured a few videos of the festivities, which you can checkout below.

Backyard Easter egg hunt

6th Annual Vegan Easter (no) Egg Hunt

Water guns!

We also gave the boys a few squirt guns, and they had a great time running around the yard, shooting each other, squirting us and squealing with joy.






On Easter Sunday, Papa, Nana and cousin Brayden came over and we all had a good time running around outside, playing, shooting water guns and bouncing on the trampoline.

Zion’s Riverside Walk trail

While in Springdale, we consulted with the locals and were advised that the Riverwalk trail inside Zion would be the most appropriate hike for toddlers.

The 2 mile, round trip, paved trail, runs alongside a river within a canyon, with mellow ups and downs. We rolled the stroller along with us, in case the boys got tired, but it definitely wasn’t necessary. I’m sure the boys would have preferred to walk run the entire time, but since it was pretty cold at first, the stroller allowed us to bundle them up with a blanket.



The hike was a very easy one, although it was a bit straining to push the fully loaded double stroller up a few of the hills on the way down the trail.

It was a gorgeous stroll, with awe inspiring views of the looming canyon walls, with the serene sound of water flowing along beside us.

At the end of the path, we took the stairs down to the river bed area, where the boys jumped around on the rocks and sand.


There were tons of unique stone benches, rock seats and other spots to pause for a rest and a view along the trail.

Zion was an utterly amazing natural wonder. I hope to get the chance to trek up some of the more advanced trails there in the future.


Springdale town park

If you’re traveling with 2 toddlers, it’s mandatory to seek out a local playground. It’s a must!

Thankfully Springdale has a quaint little park in the middle of town with breath taking views of the surrounding rock formations, stretching up to the sky.

I snapped a few photos with the front facing cam on my Moto X, while trying to get the boys to laugh.




The playground was perfect for the boys. A few different slides, lots of swings, various obstacles and a rope bridge!





The boys were fascinated with the rope bridge, as it was their first encounter with such an obstacle.

Dylan crossed the bridge over and over (and over!), taking the curved slide down on the other end.

Ashton preferred the straight double slides and took rides down them most of the time.

The playground also has a kiddie sized telescope. The boys took turns looking through the lens to view the mountains, but Ashton particularly took a liking to it. He just kept going back to peer through the scope again and again.



While Dylan and I were walking around the park, we came upon a ladybug. I let it crawl onto my finger and Dylan stared at it with curiosity. I asked him if he wanted it to crawl on his finger, he said yes, but he held up his shaking finger with trepidation. Once it crawled onto his index digit, he cracked the biggest smile across his face. I then had him hold his hand up, ready to snap the perfect photo. But alas, just as I was about to take the picture, the ladybug flew up into the air and away.

We had a great time there and Springdale town park certainly has the toddler stamp of approval!

Another post is coming soon about our hike on the Riverwalk trail in Zion national park.

More posts about this trip
Zion’s Riverside Walk trail
Springdale & Zion National park

Springdale & Zion National park

ROAD TRIP! March 21-23 we partook on a much needed family getaway to Springdale and Zion National park, situated in the high desserts of southern Utah.

Our 2 two and a half year old boys behaved very well on the 4.5 hour drive each way, particularly considering that we forgot to bring toys (doh!). Lots of talking, singing, snacking on pretzel sticks (as well as other foods), and even a little DVD viewing ensued, with Thomas the Train and Baby Signing Time videos.

The view on the way into Springdale

We stayed at the Driftwood Lodge in Springdale for 2 nights, and despite my reservations about the pricey rate, it was the perfect accommodation for us. It turns out that the price of everything is inflated in the tiny tourist town of Springdale. Even so, it’s a fantastic place and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it as a destination.

View from our room, side windows

View from our room looking back

Our room, the views and the lodge were idyllic. We stayed in a signature king room in the court of the patriarchs, the only rooms in the lodge that are new.

The lodge features a heated pool and hot tub, on site laundry, and other amenities. One of the best features for us was the large grassy area near the rear of the property, bordering a serene stream with sandy banks.

This area was the perfect family haven. Tera and I relaxed to the calming sounds of flowing water, sipping adult beverages. Meanwhile, the boys ran wild in the field, all right on the premises of the lodge.

The boys had a blast running around in the grass, climbing on chairs, playing with branches, picking wild flowers and repeatedly crossing a makeshift bridge that was covering a hole in the ground.

Tree huggers!

The toddler bridge!

Playing with branches longer than they are tall.


More posts and photos coming soon about the Springdale town park, the playground, our Riverwalk hike, and our scenic drive through Zion national park.