2020

The fam at the park next to our home, in Sandy, UT

Happy Holidays!

If you haven’t read our May 2020 family update, give it a read!

This year has been quite a tumultuous one, as we’ve all lived through the many world changing events that have occurred, many of which are still on-going.

Dylan and Ashton

The boys turned 9 years old in September, and they’re currently in 3rd grade. For Ashton and Dylan, the biggest change for them school wise, was shifting to a “distance learning” model. Monday-Thursday, they meet with their class for “morning meeting”, which spans 30-60 minutes over Google Meet. During these sessions, they get to engage with their teacher and their school mates.

The rest of the day is spent in self paced study and learning, although they do get a curriculum to follow, with the teacher releasing new assignments and activities to complete every morning (on Canvas). Occasionally the assignments aren’t available for the boys when they try to start school at the butt crack of dawn, immediately after they wake up at 7AM.

Thankfully, the boys have both done well with this new learning model and have excelled in their class. We do miss the in person socialization and they miss their friends at the elementary school that they would typically see at lunch and recess. Tera and I look forward to the end of this pandemic and to sending them back to in person schooling.

The shift has led to them becoming proficient in typing, and learning a wide variety of new apps, programs, and computer navigation skills (on Chromebooks), which I’m happy about.

In terms of interests, Roblox and Legos are definitely the boys most beloved activities. They play Roblox just about every day on their “teampads” (Fire HD tablets) and they usually use their “TV time” to watch YouTube videos of gamers playing and talking through games.

Tera

This year Tera has spent most of her time helping the kids with online school, reading books, cooking, doing yoga, meditation and taking walks to help keep sane during the pandemic. The latest book she loved is “The Pale Faced Lie”, a true story by David Crow.

She’s also taken on the job of cutting everyone’s hair in the house, while Wes has taken on the duty of hair colorist for Tera. haha.

We can’t wait to get back to enjoying live concerts, hanging out with friends, going out to our favorite restaurants and traveling, once things go back to more normal. Luckily in 2019 we traveled more than we ever had in previous years. We are grateful for our good health, Wes’ job that he loves and for the extra time we get to spend together as a family.

Wes

In May, I took on a new role leading the Platform Engineering team at Pluralsight. Our team builds libraries, tools, and systems that enables our fellow product teams to be more productive. We work with many different languages, frameworks, and tools and we are always innovating and learning new things. I love this work and I am very grateful to have a phenomenal team of Software, DevOps, and Product people that I get to spend my days with.

Separately from my full-time employment, I am also a Pluralsight Author. This year, I was able to help launch the new Cloud Labs product, authoring roughly a dozen Cloud Labs that cover both AWS and Azure! You can see some of these labs after logging into the app.pluralsight.com Skills Product on my Author Profile.

Wes’ Author profile

In October, I spoke at the Big Mountain Data & Dev conference, with my talk, Scrape the Web for Fun & Nonprofit with Python. Have a look if you’re interested in learning some Python with me!

This year, I also launched a mentorship program where I am mentoring and advising Computer Science students and folks who are aspiring to enter the tech industry. I appreciate the opportunity to help uplift others, serve as a resource, and I am excited to see my mentees continue to succeed.

Well, that’s all for now. We miss you all and hope to spend much more time with friends, family, and colleagues in the coming year. We wish you good health, both mentally and physically, and hope that 2021 is a much better year for us all.

Merry Christmas and Happy 2021!

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?