This week our church hosted ‘winter relief emergency shelter’. Arundel House of Hope organizes a safety net of housing during the winter for our local homeless population – our church was one of many who took a week to open its doors at night to provide housing so that folks weren’t stuck sleeping in the cold. The accommodations aren’t amazing: they’re camp cots lined up in a large room. Because our church hosted both men and women, there was a divider wall in the middle of the room to separate the men’s sleeping quarters from the women. But these aren’t glamorous or even private bunks. We manage to provide hot showers 3 nights of the 7, and offer breakfast and dinner each day. In the morning, volunteers drive our guests back to Arundel House of Hope (or sometimes to the light rail or to a methadone clinic) – everyone’s up and out by 7am, not to return again until 4:30pm when they’re driven back from the House of Hope.

To pull off this week requires an enormous amount of volunteer manpower. There are three shifts of volunteers: 4-8, 8-11, and 11-8. Yep, 11-8 – to provide a safe place for our guests to sleep, we have two volunteers on site and at least one of them awake round the ‘clock. Beyond the on-site volunteers, the list of people needs includes drivers, cooks, folks to act as hosts for the shower nights, setup, teardown, prayer team, … For our small-ish church, it’s a lot of hands in.

For the past few years, I’ve worked at least one overnight shift, and often had other reasons to come visit whilst folks were more awake. Each year, we see some new faces and some familiar ones. This year, I met a mom and her high school senior son. The son attends a local public charter school and has plans to join the Coast Guard when he graduates in a few months. He likes comic books, and he and his mom spent some time playing cards together. I met a gentleman who I ended up needing to call an ambulance for, as he was in a significant amount of abdominal pain due to his stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I met another guy who showed me the business proposal estimate he was putting together on behalf of a client of his electrician business. Another guy came down the hall in his shirt and tie each morning, after shaving and prepping in the mens’ restroom. Yet another guy had us wake him up at 3am each morning so he could catch the light rail and go to its farthest stop, and then walk another 3 miles to get to his job.

Sadly, that last guy I’d met before. He was here last year, and the year before. I don’t understand why, in his particular case. There were a few others I recognize from years’ past – some who I realize face mental or other challenges that will likely keep them coming back year after year. If we (and other churches) can give them a safe warm place to be and a welcoming environment, I hope they recognize us as bearers of God’s message of love. Others give me hope that they won’t be rejoining us next year as shelter guests, but will instead keep coming ’round “only” as members of our congregation, maybe even joining the ranks of us putting out the welcome mat again in 2019.

If you’ve gotten to the end here and want to learn more, I’d encourage you to check out Arundel House of Hope’s site. They work in a number of ways with the local homeless community, so I sent you to their front page. The direct page for the winter relief program, along with reports of how things have gone in previous years and contact info for getting involved, is here. It’s an amazing program, which enables the volunteer efforts of many to unite into a safety net for those whom society often overlooks. Arundel House of Hope puts their mission to our guests as ‘To keep those experiencing homelessness in the Baltimore/Annapolis corridor from freezing to death during the Winter months and to show them the Divine’s love in simple practical ways during our time together.’ I’m pretty convinced that both of those are pursuits worthy of time and energy.

A friend / previous co-worker of mine sent out an intriguing tweet:

George is an agile coach, among many other things.  (I believe him also to be a sailor and a grandfather, and someone whose tweets I enjoy.)  I assume his book proposal has something to with agile development or coaching of agile teams.  I’ll be looking to see when he announces that someone’s accepted it!  In the meantime, I’ve offered my services for review. 

George’s book would make #3 of book reviews for me.  He’d be in the esteemed company of Steve McConnell (‘Software Estimation’) and Karl Fogel (‘Producing Open Source Software’, 2nd edition).  I’d forgotten the McConnell book until George mentioned it recently, and Karl’s finished up his second edition fairly recently (November).  In Mr. Fogel’s case, I was spear-heading an interesting project in an interesting space and so had some experiences to offer; in Mr. McConnell’s case, I believe my pitch for reviewing was my relative lack of experience at the time – could his material speak to a neophyte software project manager?  (This was years and years ago – I’m now much older and much less neophyte.)  Both spectrums were useful for the authors: in the one case, could I offer a new insight?  In the second case, does the insights the author shares come through to the audience they intend?

I find it interesting that both ranges of experience are useful.  I find that to be the case in my projects, as well, both software and otherwise.  Seek to contribute whether you’re the expert or the newbie.  The value you offer is different, but valuable on both ends!

I heard from my brother today. It’s rare and typically unpleasant when I hear from him. Today’s messages: “I see that you are a messenger contact with my boys. Leave them be. They have enough bad influence from their mother. No response necessary or appreciated.”

I am Facebook friends with one of his sons. I think I friended him a few years ago, mostly to let him know that even though his family life was falling apart (mom took the boys, dad has a host of issues), that his dad’s family wasn’t abandoning him, too. I don’t think we’ve ever chatted, and he’s not a prolific Facebook poster. So, the whole leave him be thing is pretty well covered. Per the bad influence thing, I’m mostly amused by my brother’s perception of me as a bad influence. Annoyed to be compared to his ex-wife, but amused at the irony of the comparison.

After stewing and thinking to myself ‘How dare he?’, I realized I didn’t need to respond. Not just because he said ‘no response necessary’, but because I don’t need to care about his opinion. And that realization is a gift. I thought about blocking him on Facebook. And then thought that it was a better gift to both him and me to turn the other cheek. His insults don’t hurt: they’re immaterial. Responding to him would cause him and me to spend energy. I can think of much more positive ways to do so.

Merry Christmas, brother. You’ve given me a gift: the ability to turn the other cheek to you and other a**hole folks. May your Christmas be filled with positivity, with people you find inspiring, with ideas you find aspirational. I’m apparently not that for you, and neither are you that for me, but I hope you find it this holiday season.

Our oldest starts driver’s education tomorrow. In our state, you can get your learner’s permit at 15 and 9 months, assuming you pass a written exam. Possession of that permit gives you the opportunity to be behind the wheel, assuming that an adult is in the car with you supervising your driving. Wowser. This is a big thing. It’s not yet the ‘toss her the keys’ thing, but it’s a big thing none-the-less.

Our oldest is also making dinner tomorrow. This is part of a project for an advanced program she’s a part of. Don’t worry – this interest in covering the dinner shift is only for a week. As she’s a vegetarian, it also means that her family gets to experience vegetarianism for a week. We’ll survive, and I guess a cow and a few chickens might, too. Her duties include planning the menu, shopping for the supplies, and prepping the meals. They don’t, apparently, include cleaning up the kitchen if tonight’s taste of the project provides any guide. They do include making a dessert, so there’s that benefit.

It’s odd having teens in the house. Our oldest is near 16, our middle is 14, and our youngest is 11. He’s not technically a teen, but has done his level best to try to get every privilege afforded his older siblings. My hubby and I don’t think of ourselves as old enough to have kids this old, but evidence indicates otherwise.

I’m really enjoying this show called ‘The Good Place’, starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, as well as a cast of other characters whose actors I hadn’t seen before, but who _really_ make this show.

Catch the trolley episode in season 2 if you’ve ever had to suffer through a philosophy course. That’s all I’ll say.  Oh, and “I hear windchimes!”

#MeToo.  It’s a meme going ’round of folks (ladies mostly, I assume) indicating whether they’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted. The idea is that by raising visibility on how many women this affects, it’ll spark a discussion that may lead to change.  I’m a fan of change for the better, of believing that things can and should be made better.  But I’m not a fan of just stopping at a tag.

I have two daughters and a son who I need to teach how to live in this world.  I believe strongly in

– treating folks as people, rather than genders.  It doesn’t matter whether someone is one gender or another or is non-binary or presents as the opposite of their birth binary.  We are people, with gifts, talents, and flaws.  Categorizing someone as some [thing], where [thing] is based on gender (or race or …) discounts the breadth of creativity in our Maker.  “Nope, I can’t give that one strength or confidence or … because I gave them a gender ‘foo'” strikes me as well beyond the pale.

– developing and recognizing folks’ talents, gifts, and interests.  Like sports?  Do sports.  Like art?  Do art.  Show an aptitude for nurturing and caregiving?  Use it.  Oh, you’re male / female / trans / non-binary…?  Doesn’t change any of the above.

– NOT assuming that the rest of the world works this way.   Learn to speak up for yourself.  Learn to defend yourself physically, if required.  Make it clear that you have these skills and more and aren’t afraid to use them.

– setting up situations where you gain power, not give it away.  Many of the situations where folks are harassed / assaulted / you name it involve instances where folks feel like they don’t have a choice but to go along or need to keep quiet to avoid suffering the fallout of being impacted by someone more powerful.  (Try to) always have an out, and make it clear you can and will take it.  Save money in the bank to quit the job without another one lined up.  Build a strong reputation to help provide more than one career path option other than the one that involves the Weinstein-like creepster.

– sympathizing, empathizing, and fighting for the rights of #metoos.  Life isn’t fair, becoming a #metoo isn’t fair, and having more folks in #metoo’s corner at least helps avoid some of the additional pain and sting of feeling isolated or blamed.

None of the above are guarantees to avoid being a #metoo.  Some of the above are easier to implement than others, and/or may be more challenging to implement in various life situations.  Until folks aren’t attracted by sex and power, though (meaning, likely not ever in my future until there’s a full wipeaway of all sin), I’ll equip my kids and myself with as much armor and defensive weaponry as I can.

Oh, and yes, #metoo.  Harassed, yes.  Assaulted – thankfully, unsuccessful attempt.  Now scheduled to take a women’s self-defense class in early November with my oldest daughter to help add to her armor.

I’m working on a tech talk for my company on Kubernetes. I use Kubernetes on a customer system every day. I wrote and delivered a half day training class on it, help customers understand how to use it and then help them work through any hiccups they run into in deploying their own systems to it.

So, you’d think I’d be in good shape for a 45 minute tech talk which gives an overview and shows a little bit of stuff running.  If I were just talking, I’d be fine: I can talk about why k8s, where it came from, key concepts and benefits in it, how to deploy and monitor things within it, how to figure out what’s wrong with your system running on it… What I hadn’t had to do was deploy my own Kubernetes installation: there are a few to work with in our customer environment, which each have their own quirks.  If a particular quirk is getting in my way, I jump to a different cluster assuming there’s no other constraint preventing me from doing so.  That helps me and my team keep abreast of things our clients will run into, and we share that guidance with them.

Last night I started to set up my company laptop, the one I’ll use for the presentation next week, to have a single node Kubernetes implementation via minikube. I’d looked through the tutorials, everything seemed straightforward. Very straightforward: either install it via curl or via a brew cask install.  Minikube downloaded, I started my cluster, and pointed kubectl at that cluster. Very neat and tidy.  But I spent a few hours last night trying to figure out why it would neither finalize my deployments (and thus give me running pods) nor let me delete an existing deployment. Nor why the minikube dashboard wasn’t available. The dashboard used to be, when I’d done a fabric8 installation that itself bundled a minikube… When I tore that down to install from scratch to give tested instructions for the tutorial, though, the dashboard stopped working. (I’ll take a guess that it’s because the pod used to satisfy the service that provides the dashboard endpoints isn’t deploying – seems logical given other evidence.)

Tonight I’ll spin up a Google Container Engine small cluster to let me have an alternate path for my talk, rather than continue to beat my head. That’ll also let me demonstrate multi-node interactions and seeing pods jump from one node to another. Critical path is the talk, not the talk running off an environment on my laptop.  But having a hard time taking my brain away from debugging why minikube isn’t working.  When I figure it out (after the tech talk’s written), I’ll come back and see if I can leave a tracer here for some other stuck soul.

I’m in a beach house in North Carolina, relaxing on the computer with some homework after a busy day at the beach and boardwalk. There are 10 of us in a massive beach house that’s only a few hundred feet from a beach that’s private to the community. It’s my 3 kids and hubby, his parents, his brother and wife and niece. We’ve just been chilling here since Tuesday, enjoying the beach, the house pool, the whirlpool, and an amazing amount of space and comfort.

Growing up, vacations were at best an over the weekend camping trip with my mom and grandpa. Dad would usually stay home to take care of the pooches. We didn’t go out of state, much less do the out of the country thing we plan for our vacation next year. I don’t have many memories of those vacations, though am hoping for grander ones in my kids’ brains from this one and the other ones we’ve taken. These opportunities to hang out as a family, particularly with the larger family, are things I love to give them, and memories I love to make for myself.

We’re here courtesy of the generosity of my employer. She owns this house and allows employees to have a week’s stay for the cost of the house cleaning and a fee for pool cleaning/electricity/water, etc. All a heck of lot less expensive than renting something down here in the summer. My hubby and I have at various points thought about purchasing a vacation home to let us do a similar thing, albeit with less employee motivation motives. We’ve assumed that if we bought a vacation home, it’d have a significant usage for friends, family, church members, etc… On our walk yesterday, we talked about it a bit more. I’m not sure we’d ever get more than two weeks, max, of use on a vacation property. And the idea of tying ourselves down to another property beyond our primary home doesn’t make sense to us. So, we’ll have to let the vacation home idea pass by and enjoy the largesse of my employer. And/or, work with the vacation resorts of the world to craft our vacation. Send us your deals! We’ll have to find ways to extend hospitality and generosity through means other than loaning out our vacation home. The Coleman’s have vacation memories to make!

“It really seems like everyone is turning 25 this summer.” So said a former youth group teen of mine on the occasion of her birthday. My first reaction was “I wish!”. I turn 43 later this week, and 25 is a full adult-sized gap behind me. But then I rethought that.

At 25, I had been married a year, but we didn’t yet have kids. We had just bought a house, and saw the long tail of debt that that involved. At 43, we’re still in that house, but the mortgage no longer seems so large nor so long – by shortly after 46, it’ll in fact be paid. And it doesn’t hurt that the salary of the 43 year old me beats tail the salary of the 25 year old me.

At 25, I wanted to run a marathon. In my 30s, I did it. And then did it again. And ran some half marathons in there, as well.

At 25, I think I had given up playing rugby. I’d played in college and played after college, but just couldn’t make it all fit in schedule wise. In my late 30s, I took up rugby again (oldest player on the team by far) and went to the national championships twice. I hung up my cleats for good just shy of my 40th birthday, and now I’m amused at the players on my previous team who retire in their late 20s because they feel “too old” to keep playing. (For the record, the recent Olympics had rugby, and one of my former teammates played in it. I think she was the second oldest player on the team, which put her in her 30s when she went to Rio.)

At 25, I wanted a motorcycle. For my 41st birthday, I took the motorcycle safety class, and then crashed the bike on the course, failing the test. Later that week I screwed up my courage and went and retook the test, got my license, and a few weeks later, bought my motorcycle.

In my twenties, I quit my software development career and contemplated potential careers as a financial planner, a decorative furniture painter, a children’s clown, or a full-time volunteer. I returned to software development fairly quickly, but just a year ago, began clowning for fun after the encouragement I received at a Christian retreat.

So, I’m not turning 25 this summer. I’m having a heck of a lot more fun than that!

Realized my last post was almost two months ago! It’s been a bit of a busy period.

Clementine shared balloons and fun with kids at a community festival, marched in a parade, and served as a entertainment on the midway. Oh, and got herself a new pair of polka dotted oversize Converse sneakers!

I bought, built, and directed the decorations for vacation bible school, led games for vacation bible school, and went with a group of youth (including both of my daughters) on a week long mission trip. I even got to use one of my clown magic tricks for the VBS kids… that was my excuse to buy the requisite parts, so good to use it at least once or twice.

In between, I’ve also been working my way through a Coursera multi-class specialization on strategic leadership, and gotten to help bring a few candidates into our company. A bit more learning on Kubernetes, Gitlab, and ELK as part of the day job, too.

Oh, and we got a kitten! Strategy suggests I should keep up with my daily allergy pills. Miso (kitten’s name) is cute, but he makes ‘me so’ sneezy