So a few weeks ago I shot one black and white picture of my every day life each day for seven days. There were not supposed to be any explanations, but this is my blog and I can do whatever the hell I want. :)
Day 1 – Publix
The first day, a Tuesday, just so happened to be the day I needed to do a number of groceries. Typically, when I need food stuff I will walk to the Publix that is basically down the street. It’s close enough to walk to and it makes living here without a car a whole lot easier.
Day 2 – Lake Calabay
On days where I don’t have a whole lot of anything to do, I will typically take walks. Right behind the apartment complex where I live, there is a lake smack-dab in the middle of other gates communities. Apart from the occasional car and the sprinkler system (when it’s on), it’s also really, really, really quiet. It helps me think and unplug, at least for a little while. It’s even better when the sky is clear, because then the stars are pretty decently visible.
Typically on these walks I will listen to music, which is really great at getting my thoughts focused.
Day 3 – The cop out
This is the day where things went to hell a little bit. I’ve ordered a bed frame from Ikea on October 28. They use third party shipping partners, who didn’t receive the frame in time to deliver it to me on time. The number they left for me to reschedule simply went to voicemail. I had to work through Ikea’s support to get my delivery rescheduled for this day. And then they came, and I found out that they had sent me the wrong size frame. Fingers crossed that they will deliver the correct item tomorrow, a month later.
I had intended on taking a picture of the comic book store we went to that same night, but forgot and ended up simply taking a picture of my bedroom ceiling fan.
Day 4 – Beer!
Friday! Trying to salvage my week, I ended up walking up to ABC and getting beer. Usually I will end up getting Duvel or Guinness or something of that nature, but this time around I had opted for something new. A triple dry-hopped beer from Belgium called “Piraat” (“Pirate”). It definitely made me significantly more open whilst texting that night, and I’m not sure if I should be glad or embarrassed about this. It doesn’t seem to have done any harm, however, for which I am definitely happy. :)
Day 5 – Solo “dinner and a movie” date
Sorry, diet. Sometimes I just need a filthily fat burger with a side of carbs. After this dinner I ended up at the theatre across the street to go and see “Murder on the Orient Express”. This movie was certainly entertaining, but I’m not very familiar with the 1974 version or how they compare. In any case, that moustache is definitely pretty epic.
I didn’t used to go to the theatre a lot, but now I’ve gotten used to it it’s kind of nice. If the movie isn’t quite living up to expectations it also allows me to just sit there and space out for a few hours.
Day 6 – Fantasy prep time
Lord of the Rings is a fantastic book, and the film is a lot of fun to watch. It does, however, not age very well in some of the effects. Specifically, anywhere there are apparitions (whether it’s Boromir appearing behind Faramir and their father or the Army of the Dead, it doesn’t matter) or where people are interacting with Gollum. This may have to do with that the HD and large screen make detail a lot more noticeable, I’m not sure.
I have seen this film more than enough over the course of this week to be okay not seeing it for a while. Ultimately it didn’t help a whole lot with the trivia night, but that’s okay. I definitely had a lot of fun with it and playing Mario Kart on the Wii. :)
Day 7 – Books, and video games
The final day, the final photo. It essentially represents the remaining parts of my life: reading books and playing video games. I enjoy both of these things a lot, but lately my PS4 is basically just a stream-machine, while my Kindle is getting all the attention.
Friday the 14th of October was my last day at Highforge. Just half a month shy of 4 years I am resigning my position there to take the next step in my career. A career that has, thusfar, lacked definition. I’ve always been a bit of a “jack of all trades” and if I described my position at Highforge otherwise I’d just be kidding myself. It’s probably also a trait that will never completely disappear (I know what I know, if I can use it to help out then why the hell wouldn’t I?).
But throughout the years there has always been one aspect, the “red thread” as they’d call it in Dutch, that has been present and a guiding factor in everything I do. The thread that started in college, vastly expanded in my first job as web developer at Greenvalley (Team EH&T represent) and carries on in my everlasting self-development as frontend developer. This aspect is, of course, accessibility.
The next chapter of my career will take me to the company that, quite literally, wrote the books on WordPress. It will also allow me to continue my efforts on making the web a better place one site at a time. Starting today (Monday the 24th), I will be a Front End developer on the WebdevStudios team (and by Tuesday afternoon I will probably be so humbled I will be in the fetal position in a corner of the room somewhere, questioning any confidence I had in my skills – hashtag imposter syndrome).
I won’t lie, this has probably been the most difficult decision in my life. It’s the first position I’ve resigned without an extraordinary circumstance backing me up (my first ever developer job I had to resign due to moving to the US and things kind of take care of themselves at that point). Not to mention that it’s the first US job I’ve resigned (I don’t know how you guys do things over here, it’s pretty anxiety-inducing at times). And to top it off, the timing for it was probably the worst ever, but I won’t get into detail on that.
In the end, I think things were handled pretty gracefully and I’m thankful that I was able to get the time I needed to get all the important stuff handed over to my successor. Just like I’m thankful for the wonderful times at the one company that decided to take that chance to bring on that weird Dutch guy that only just got his work permit (didn’t even have a green card yet at that point, paperwork for that took waaaay longer to process). It’s definitely greatly appreciated.
This WordCamp has been a number of firsts for me. It would be the first WordCamp outside of Orlando, and also the first time for me to visit Miami. It’s also the first road trip we’ve taken by ourselves as a married couple. All around good stuff.
I am fully aware that this post has run a bit long. But it is what it is. So here are a few links that will allow you to skip straight to other sections of this post.
The adventure starts with picking up the rental car. Apparently, when you want to pay for one with a debit card you’re expected to bring proof in the form of a utility bill of some sort. I guess they want to make sure you won’t run off with the car or something.
Luckily, they let us call Kissimme Utility Authority(KUA) to have them fax over our most recent bill. With that all sorted out, we took the car home to load it up and off we were. The next 4-5 hours were filled with a lot of people driving like absolute idiots (something we’d end up having to deal with on our way back, as well), numb arses, and some peculiar routing by our GPS. Which, granted, is getting a bit old and possibly out of date.
Once we finally reached our hotel, we couldn’t believe just how large our room was. It was essentially a reasonably sized studio apartment without a kitchen (but it still had a small, crappy, fridge, a microwave, and a Keurig coffee maker – what more could anyone need?). Large enough for me to just lay on the floor with my arms spread and then some:
Saturday: A day of learning and networking
Since our hotel wasn’t super close to FIU (it was in Miramar) it was an early morning and a short 25 minute drive to get there. I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as the venue goes. The schools I’ve been to weren’t nearly as vast in size. But there we were, at a large campus with its own streets and student housing blocks. It was kind of surreal. The walk between buildings was nice though. The park in the center of it all was lovely and there was even a pond with turtles!
Registration and the morning
Registration was mildly confusing. There was a line there for…something. But because it ran right past the sponsor tables it was a bit difficult to see where the line ended and who was in it. After picking up my badge and swag bag and the opening remarks I went out to look for people I actually knew. Which, in my case, are very few as I don’t particularly enjoy small talk and so have a hard time meeting new people (and for similar reasons, apologies all around to all the people I may have inadvertently ignored, not my intention at all).
Luckily, Sir Adam Soucie has been around to assist in all of that. It probably looked a bit weird to have a hulking person following him around that was merely grinning sheepishly. But I digress.
The next talk we had attended was Dan Beil’s talk “Beyond The Post: Pushing the limits of Custom Post Types”. What little I got from that (admittedly, mostly because I was distracted with the provided code sample) seemed useful. It did go a little fast, which made the impact from being distracted that much larger.
The last dev talk of the day we’ve attended was Nikhil Vimal’s “Integrating Third-party APIs with WordPress”. This guy is really young and really smart. While the gist of the talk was abundantly clear and showcased some of the more underused APIs within WordPress (HTTP (link opens in a new window) and Transients (link opens in a new window)), it was a little all over the place.
A small sidenote on code samples
Both Josh’ and Dan’s talk were accompanied by code examples on github. I thought this was a nice touch that was really helpful for digesting the code samples that were presented. Certainly, something that I’d consider doing for a talk of my own when appropriate.
At the same time though, and this may just be me, it’s also a little distracting. I think I missed most of Dan’s talk as a result of fiddling with his code. I will definitely revisit it when it appears on wordpress.tv.
Impressive orators and story tellers
This WordCamp I had the pleasure of seeing Chris Lema speak for the first time. And boy did he not disappoint. His talk on Saturday, “Blog Topics: How to come up with articles for your blog” was as inspiring as it was humorous. Hopefully it will help me get back on track with writing and find topics to write about. I’ve some ideas, but haven’t had a good chance to put in the work.
Similarly, Morten Rand-Hendriksen’s talk called “Designing for Informational User Experiences: A Responsive Web Design Workflow” was equally inspiring and funny. And different from the usual responsive talks that seem to be more a “here’s a technical how-to on how you do this”. It was a definite call to arms for user-centric design and doing things for your users and make them happy. As someone interested in accessibility, it’s something I can definitely get behind.
The after party
Ah, the Dolphin Mall. Apparently a black hole for phone signal and home of a grand Dave & Buster’s location. The latter was also the venue for the after party. I’m not entirely sure what to say about it. The food at Dave & Buster’s isn’t great, but it’ll do in a pinch. We ended up spending the evening playing some of the lovely games (as we do) and not get involved too much in whatever festivities were going on in the back party room with the tables.
With all that done, and fatigue from the day running high we retreated back to our hotel room and prepared for Sunday!
Sunday: Why would anyone go to Miami Beach?
Sunday morning, I had intended to stay for the morning networking thing but ended up staying up to lunch. Mainly so that the missus didn’t have to entertain herself for the entirety of this day as well. And so we had decided on going to the beach in the afternoon and be tourists in “our own” state (funnily enough, our rental had an Ohio license plate).
The breakfast thing was a bit strange. It was my understanding that it was to be held in the same building as where the registration and sponsors were at. I didn’t see a whole lot of activity here when I arrived and so decided to walk around the campus for a bit. It was a little hot (even that early), but still nice. And then I saw why, presumably, the “networking area” wasn’t bustling: There was a line out the door at the one Starbucks on campus that was actually open.
But, what can I say, I’m a sucker for tea and missed the first talk of the day standing in said line to get some of it. It also helped to be accompanied by my partner in crime Adam.
With tea in hand, off we went to see Chris Lema speak again. This time about business models and deciding on whether that grand idea is a good idea for you. We learnt how to score business ideas on different aspects and how well they work for us. Ultimately, a useful talk to refer back to should I ever decide to start something myself.
The last talk of the day for me was to be Devin Vinson’s “Writing WordPress Plugins with Standards”, an excellent talk about the WordPress Plugin Boilerplate (link opens in a new window) project he now maintains. I’ve dipped my toes into that water with the plugin I’ve created for this website as well as a plugin I’m writing with Adam. Details for the latter will be released when we’re good and ready for it though.
Wynwood Walls and Miami Beach
And with that, WordCamp was over for me. After lunch I got picked up by the wife to head out to the beach. But first, her sister had mentioned something about a cool graffiti art gallery in Miami called “Wynwood Walls”. This would be our first stop, and our first mistake. Besides the fact that it was packed and there was nowhere to park, the area seemed a bit…ghetto-ish. Now, I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, but it doesn’t necessarily make this pale white buy feel safe either. The graffiti we did see scattered on the walls around the area was nice to look at though. And some of it was just…weird.
From here we conquered the downtown Miami traffic to head down to Miami Beach. Mistake number two. This area is just a mess. And more so when you’ve absolutely no idea of where you’re going. And to add to the repulsion for this area, trying to find a decent garage to park was a nightmare by itself. $10 to park for an hour? Come on now.
So we ultimately decided to just head back to the hotel, have a nice dinner, grab some ice cream and just hang out in front of the TV. Somehow, we actually made it out alive. I knew people weren’t particularly capable of driving in Central Florida, but the traffic around Miami is just the worst.
Monday: The road home
Monday was the day for us to head home. I had specifically decided to stay a day longer so that we’d have time on Sunday to do whatever and so that we could be rested for the trip back home.
On our way back home we visited this magical place called Tate’s Comics (link opens in a new window). Their collection of graphic novels is amazing. What I loved the most about it is how they didn’t separate it out by publisher. DC, Marvel, and Indie books all had their place side by side in alphabetic order.
My score was a copy of Flash: Rebirth that I had been meaning to get, a hard cover copy of New 52 Wonder Woman volume 2 which has been elusive (I’ve been sitting on volumes 1 and 3 forever), a copy of Secret Warriors volume 4 for Adam, and a case for the George Perez sketch cover I had obtained at MegaCon.
After finally being able to pull away from the comic book Valhalla, we set out on our way to make up for our missed beach day the day before. The destination would be Melbourne Beach, which was windy and a bit deserted by the time we got there. The threatening clouds probably didn’t help with that.
We left in the nick of time for our final stop, Grandaddy’s (link opens in a new window), for dinner. Once we arrived there, the threatening clouds turned the sky dark and rain started coming down like crazy. Way to welcome us home Kissimmee.
A word on networking
Let me start by reiterating that I’m an absolutely terrible networker. I can somewhat hold my own when people start talking to me about things, but actually starting a conversation and carrying it is something I’m absolutely not good at.
Despite that, I feel I actually did okay this time around. Doors were opened and connections were made, which is always good. I also ended up (hopefully) helping someone out that came up to me for help with JetPack after Adam’s talk on plugins.
I also got to talk shop a little with some of the awesome guys involved in running the camp, which was also a nice change of pace and proof enough for me that I’m actually able to do this networking stuff to some capacity. And also shows that my work is cut out for me to get better at it. A lot of it.
I would absolutely love to attend WordCamp Netherlands (link opens in a new window). This year will probably no doubt not be possible (but there’s a slim chance!), so hopefully next year. For now, though, Tampa and Orlando are more feasible for this year and I’m looking forward to attending both of these.
Beyond that, the talks at Miami have given me some ideas for plugins to work on. Expect to see more about that in the coming months!
I’ve been sitting on this post for months, mostly because I’m trying to find time to restructure my site’s multilingual portion, trim plugins and figure out AWS. But more on that in a later post. Now, on with the original post!
And just like that, 2012 is over and done with and I’ve been in this country for a almost 10 months now. During those months I’ve experienced a majority of the US’ national holidays. In short, most of these have been really…odd. The commercial overlap where holidays are barely over(if at all) when decorations for the next one appears is nothing new to me. It happens in the Netherlands as well between Sinterklaas and Christmas.
Most of the oddness probably comes from the images that film and television have drawn. Especially Halloween and Thanksgiving, which are covered in generous amounts with Halloween parties and awkward Thanksgiving dinners with family.
4th of July, or, independence day
Fireworks + Springsteen = Patriotism, apparently.
Starting out the series is the 4th of July, Independence day. While I can appreciate this as a day of celebration, some aspects have been strange to me. We spent part of the day making a pie for a dinner we were invited for. The dinner itself, whilst delicious, wasn’t very out of the ordinary(burgers, chicken, baked beans, corn and such).
Afterwards, we went up to the lake at Lakefront Park to watch the fireworks display. Something pretty special, because it turns out that a lot of fireworks that we’re used to in the Netherlands(bottle rockets/skyrockets, roman candles, and even firecrackers) is illegal to light without a permit. Funnily enough, you can still legally buy the stuff if you wanted to.
Additionally, I’ve never heard this much Springsteen in one place ever before.Born in the US-A indeed.
The above comments regarding the legality of certain fireworks in this state made lighting our own fireworks afterwards a bit dull. Though the neighbours did manage to obtain some roman candles and it’s also the first time I’ve seen people lighting fireworks off the back of a moving pick-up truck. Either way, it all felt like an excuse to get drunk and act like idiots.
Halloween in downtown Orlando: “Where’s Waldo” Easy mode.
Halloween celebrations have been filled with new experiences for me. It all started out with Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando. This is basically a massive training camp for queuing that would even make a Brit question his queuing skills. I think we spent more time in queue trying to get into the houses and rides than actually on the rides.
Needless to say though, it was a pretty cool night and they did a pretty good job making the haunted houses. Shame a lot of time had been wasted queuing, but that’s something to take into consideration for next time.
This year, I’ve also carved my first pumpkin and put a nice and simple design on it. But really, that stuff is pretty disgusting.
Lastly, on Halloween night itself, we went to downtown Orlando all dressed up in our costumes. The most ridiculous about this was the fact that some of the clubs expected you to pay after paying to get into the street party thing that was going on.
Thanksgiving and Black Friday
If you mute the right side, you’ll hear what Black Friday madness reminds me of. http://youtubedoubler.com/5TXt
Thanksgiving wasn’t much what I expected it to be. My experience with it is mostly influenced by television and so I expected a lot more stress, a lot more family and a lot more bickering. None of that actually happened. Visitors for dinner were very limited and it was all really very calm. Also had Thanksgiving turkey for the first time and it kind of reminds me of pork “rollade” with a crispy chicken skin. I guess in many ways that’s because the preparation is very similar.
Lack of Sinterklaas
My Sinterklaas gifts. Awesome wife is awesome <3. http://twitpic.com/bjest8
Sinterklaas isn’t celebrated here. We did find out that Aldi does provide in some of the seasonal foods that I know and love. No pepernoten though, bummer.
Christmas and New Year’s Eve
I’m at Regal The Loop Stadium 16 & RPX for Django Unchained (Kissimmee, FL) w/ 12 others http://4sq.com/TWBs7f
Christmas and New Year weren’t very new for me. I had been here with these holidays before. We exchanged gifts the night before, almost around midnight because everyone was out doing stuff. Then on Christmas Day we went to see Django Unchained with the whole family and just had a lazy day otherwise.
New Year was pretty similar, sitting around waiting for midnight. More weak fireworks and no “oliebollen” or “appelflappen”. Double bummer. :<
First of all, I’m finally able to work legally in this country. It took almost 3 months to finally get the Employment Authorization Card(EAD) approved and in hand. I’ve been looking for a job since then as well as spending some time on personal projects to learn things and building my online resume to at least have something to show that I’ve built all by myself. About 3 months later(ie. November first) I had my first work day at Highforge as a front-end developer.
In the time that I’ve been working, I’ve already learnt quite a lot about WordPress and more specifically how to work with it properly. Additionally, I’m getting more acquainted with responsive design and building sites for mobile. I’ll eventually use my experiences to update my site and WordPress theme and make things more awesome.
With a social security number and newly acquired semi-status in the form of the EAD it becomes possible to obtain a driving licence or permit. And so I did, and the test to obtain the permit is really, really, really stupid. You’re in line longer than the actual test. Hell, you’re in line to pay longer than the actual test. It’s two 20 question tests, where one focuses on general rules and the other on signs. Most of the questions are the exact same as on the practice tests and so it was easy peasy. I got two rule questions wrong, one about how much you should slow down relative to the speed limit when passing an accident and ambulance and such and the other asked what the safe distance between two freight trucks is. I’m not really sure what that last one has to do with anything.
All in all, I got done with the test before the lady at the counter was done helping the next guy in line and while it was easy, there was still a guy struggling with it next to me. He was still there, doing the test, while I paid the fee and left.
There’s absolutely no news on the green card situation. My case was transferred to the California Service Center forfast processing. This happened in back in June. Needless to say, it hasn’t gotten much faster. There is a positive side to this transfer and that is that I most likely don’t have to come in for an interview.
TLDR: Everything’s going fine. I have a job and soon will be able to drive. I do not have a green card yet, however.