Birfday & the Gift of Automattic

So yesterday was my mumblemumble birthday. Some years I am more interested in the particular milestone (especially last year’s since it was a very milestone-y milestone) and some years it’s more of an excuse to be a bit more hedonistic. This year, it was pretty low-key. And that was just fine. I treated myself to a copy of Cosmic Encounter (yeah, I know, took me long enough) and I’ll be bringing that to my team meetup in San Diego hoping to get people to play with me (along with Illimat, Bears vs. Babies, an Italian Scopa deck, Fairytale Fluxx, one Munchkin variant, and whatever else I can fit into my suitcase).

The real birfday present this year is my new job at Automattic. I’ve worked at big companies before (Pfizer, Merck, even Dartmouth College fits into that category) and I’ve worked at even more smaller companies (Devis, WebCT, Ozmott, Intermarkets). Automattic is on the larger size (~850 people around the world) but I have never worked anywhere that felt so connected and involved. And that’s an amazing feat given that it is a 100% distributed company. There is no office. Everyone works from home. And because of that, the tools to keep everyone connected and functioning are very deep and very well thought out. It should come as no surprise that most of the infrastructure is built on top of WordPress itself (since, you know, WordPress and WordPress services are what we do) but it still amazes me at the richness and depth of it all.

And let’s talk about the people for a moment. What a creative, passionate, smart, and kind group of people! You learn very quickly (day 1 quickly) that communication is oxygen and that it is always OK to ask questions. No one is going to judge you because you do not know something. And those are not just words. When I have needed to know something, I pop into the relevant Slack channel, ask my question, get a cheerful and helpful response, and then I hop back off again. This pattern is repeated all over the company by so many people. People are genuinely giving and considerate and it’s amazing. And the people on my team are no exception. I get to meet all of them in San Diego soon and I am nervous but also excited.

And the projects themselves are refreshing and important and are rewarding to work on.  After the last four and a half years, this is a much needed change.

So, that’s Birfday 2019.

Noticing Stuff

Some years ago I directed the play version of M*A*S*H. It was really excellent and if you didn’t see it, you have to live with that fact. You missed a great show. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. In getting myself into a M*A*S*H*Y state of mind, I binged up to Season six (then I ran out of gas and time). I noticed things that I had never seen before when I watched as a child on TV (leave my age out of it). For example, I had no idea that Radar in so many of the early season episodes, was seen eating a ton of food. It was a running gag I’d never noticed before. But because I was watching 3-6 episodes a day, every day for a few weeks, I noticed it.

For the last half year or so, I’ve been working on a daily streak of doing the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. It’s partly to honor my mother who did it all the time (she died last summer) but also because I just really enjoy doing the puzzle. But when you do it every day, you really notice the clues that get reused over and over and over. A few examples. One day last fall or so there was a clue for which the answer was OREOTHINS. In the NYT’s blog about the puzzle, the author pointed out that this was a debut in the puzzle. It had never appeared in it before. Over the next three weeks or so, it showed up again one or two more times. More recently, clues about parabolas being an ARC have been prevelent. And who knew there were so many ways to clue OGRE/OGRES?

This is apropos of nothing, really. I just thought it was interesting the stuff you notice when you do a lot of something vs. dipping in and out every once and a while. Makes me wonder what else I am missing…