My Next Adventure

Friday June 7th will be my last day at Microsoft.

I've been at Microsoft longer than I've been a husband, longer than I've been a father, longer than I've lived in the Pacific Northwest. It's been an awesome twenty year plus ride, but the time has come for me to take on new challenges.

I'm joining NEO Global Development's brand new Seattle office (which is really in Redmond). NEO is a community driven open source project delivering the technical underpinnings for the Smart Economy. NEO Global Development (aka NGD) is the technical R&D arm of the NEO Foundation, the NEO project's governing body. I'm going to be the Chief Architect for the Seattle office.

This move will reunite me with former colleague and long-time friend John deVadoss. I worked for John for back in my Architecture Strategy Team days. John is the director of NGD's Seattle office and I'm thrilled to be working with him again.

I had the privilege of presenting at NEO DevCon back in February. It was inspiring to meet folks from NEO's global community. NGD's main office is in Shanghai, NSPCC is in St. Petersberg, NeoResearch is in Brasil and the City of Zion community has team members from all corners of the Earth. I can't lie - the opportunity to work with this far reaching and diverse global community was a big selling point for me joining NGD Seattle.

NGD Seattle's primary focus is on developer tools and experience ('natch) for the NEO platform. John and my-soon-to-be-colleague Longfei Wang previewed a few things we're working on last month at Consensus 2019. In particular John showed off NEO Express Node, a private NEO blockchain management tool that I built. Of course, the Consensus preview is just a small taste of what we plan to deliver - especially once I join NGD full time and we build out more of our Seattle based engineering team.

While developer experience will be my primary focus, I also expect to pitch in on the core NEO platform. NEO 3.0 development is already in full swing. Core platform might not be my focus, but platform capabilities and developer experience go hand in hand. I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunity to contibute to the core as we work towards our 3.0 release.

I'll miss Microsoft - especially the amazing people I've had the opportunity to work with over the years. It's particularly hard to leave the xlang project. Cross platform language projection has been a passion project of mine for several years now. Knowing xlang is in the capable hands of folks like Ben, Scott, Ryan and Kenny does make it easier. Besides, xlang is open source so I can still submit PRs if I get really Microsoft-homesick, right?

A Somewhat Scary Birthday

Yesterday was my 39th birthday. Among other things I got a vasovagal syncope (aka I fainted), a trip to the hospital and an MRI.

Yeah, I’ve had better birthdays. But I’m feeling much better now.

Since Monday, I’ve been having weird numbness and tingling in my hands, feet and midsection. Ever have your foot fall asleep? You know how it feels when your foot wakes up again? It’s kinda like that. After three days of that, I decided it was time to go see the doctor. My doctor is right by my daughter’s school, so I try and schedule my appointments so I can drop her off and save my wife the trip. But the only appointment they had yesterday was thirty minutes before my daughter’s school starts, so I ended up going alone. That turned out to be a very good thing.

Diabetes is one of the things that can cause this numbness and tingling, so my wife and I figured that I shouldn’t eat anything in case the doctor wanted to check my blood sugar. Sure enough, they wanted to run a few blood tests. My wife called as they were drawing my blood – she had dropped off our daughter and wanted to know if I wanted her to stop by.  I told her to stop by if she wanted, hung up, and promptly fainted. Luckily, Jules had decided she wanted to stop by so she was there when I came to.

Apparently, vasovagal syncope is the most common cause of fainting and having your blood drawn is a common trigger. I’ve never had that reaction to having my blood drawn, though I can’t remember ever having my blood drawn while fasting. But I tell you what, I don’t ever want to go thru that again. All I really remember was trying to get my brain to focus, and it wouldn’t. Pretty scary.

Playing it better safe than sorry, I was sent off to the hospital to spend two hours crammed in the MRI machine to get an scan of my brain and spine done. Also not a pleasant experience, but much better than fainting. There was much more ominous talk like “admitting for observation” and “lumbar puncture”, but apparently the MRI didn’t show anything requiring all that so I was sent home.

I still have the numbness and tingling, though it’s somewhat better today than yesterday. The good news is that it’s not diabetes or my thyroid or anything like that and they don’t think the fainting was related at all. Since the tingling and numbness is a little better today, I’m thinking it’s something like a pinched nerve. My doctor wants me to go see a specialist, so I’ve got an appointment with a neurologist in a couple of weeks. We’ll see how it feels by then – in the meantime, I’m taking it easy. I even skipped work again today – five day weekend FTW!

As for my birthday, we did decide to postpone my “FANTASTIC surprise”. Jules had arranged for us to go camping on Orcas island over the weekend. I’m really excited for the trip – it’ll be our first real camping trip outside of the back yard – but I’m not sure if I’ll be up for it this weekend. My parents sent me a bunch of Capitals gear as well as some money for new hockey equipment – I really need a new helmet and elbow pads. My kids both made me awesome cards – Patrick’s new thing is to make pop-up cards. He also made me a paper “cake” crown.

So even though that whole tingling/vasovagal/hospital/MRI thing was a less than fun way to spend the day, I still ended up having a pretty decent birthday. I’m especially thankful for my awesome wife, who does an amazing job taking care of me when I’m sick – much better than I am able to do for her when she’s sick I’m afraid.

Happy Birthday Riley!

Today is my daughter Rileyanne’s fourth birthday. She was born on 5-5-05 (at 5:25pm no less!).

Jules and I were picking out pictures for Riley’s “birthday ribbon” and we came across this one from her birthday party weekend before last. We had it a week early because my mother-in-law had surgery on her foot last week. It was a girls-only princess tea party, so I didn’t get to see her chasing bubbles in person. I loved this picture, but we ended up using one where you could see her face better. Still, I thought it was just too good not to share.

Happy Birthday big girl!

Missing Missing Persons

I’m having a hard time focusing on work today. I just found out that a good friend and ex-teammate Robert Satterwhite passed away last week.

I spent a year on the .NET Adoption Team with Robert back in 2002 & 2003 – basically my last year in the Microsoft field organization. NAT – as were were known – was a national team of developer and architecture evangelists, so while we were all teammates, we didn’t see much of each other in person. However, Rob and I both lived in the Puget Sound area and called on many of the same customers – I was an architect evangelist and Robert was a developer evangelist – so we ended up working together often. We drove together to Olympia many times- he drove and I hacked code in a kind of strange pair programming effort.

Robert grew up in the Pacific NW and had spent almost his entire career as an enterprise technology sales engineer here, so he had friends everywhere. I often used the lame line from the Dragnet movie with Dan Aykroyd: “They ought to put you in Missing Persons. You know everybody.” because it seemed like everywhere we went we’d run into someone he grew up with, had worked with or had sold to. If we hung around before or after a sales call – coffee shop in Olympia before a meeting, debriefing with the sales rep on the steps outside of Costco HQ in Issaquah, etc – chances are someone would recognize him.

When I was leaving the NAT, Robert and I went to Phoenix so I could hand off my customers there to him. I joked that at least I could be sure we wouldn’t run into anyone he knew in Arizona. Yet, it turned out he used to work with the woman who was sitting in front of him on the flight home. She and her husband owned car dealerships in Phoenix and Tacoma. I was astonished – what are the frakking odds? – but Rob just shrugged his shoulders. It happened to him all the time so I guess he was used to it.

I only saw him off and on since I left the team, though as fate would have it I did see him last week on the day he died. I was heading into building 18 for a meeting as he was pulling into the parking lot – I hadn’t realized he was working on campus. We exchanged the usual pleasantries and promised that we’d get together soon. He was blocking traffic, so it was a short conversation. 24 hours later, he was dead.

Rob wasn’t your prototypical blue monster, but he sure touched a lot of people and he made the world a better place by just being himself. You will be missed, Rob.

My First Point in Ten Years

Not only does this month mark my son’s fifth birthday, it also marks the ten anniversary of my first date with my awesome wife Julianne. I met her online while I was laid up at home for six weeks after breaking my ankle at hockey practice. You see, I’m not just a hockey fan, but I also played several years of amateur league hockey in the mid-90′s. I’m not very good, but I really love playing, though it all came to a halt when I broke my ankle.

Last night, for the first time literally in a decade (shit, I’m getting old), I hit the ice for a local TechRec league game (“Home of the Thundering Nerd Herd”). And when I say “hit the ice”, I mean that fairly literally. Man, it’s been a long time and I am WAY out of shape. I hurt pretty much all over, but especially my right shoulder.

We only had ten skaters, which means only two lines total. I probably skated around 20 minutes total – I spent three minutes in the penalty box (grabbed an opposing player as I fell down) and skipped the single power play we had. I still felt like I was gonna die by the end of the game. Hopefully, after I get a few more games under my belt, I’ll be able to skate more than once up and down the ice without looking to the bench for a change. On the plus side, we won 6-2, I had an assist and was +1 on the night.

The TechRec league is very different from the league I played in down in SoCal. In SoCal, I played on the same team with the same players against the same players on the same other teams season after season. Naturally, animosity developed. In TechRec, they re-pick the teams every season, so it seems much more friendly and less competitive. I mean, we still want to win, but it takes on a different feel when you know some other player you don’t like may be your teammate next season.

Major thanks to my neighbor Stephen Bury for getting me back on the ice. I’m looking forward to smashing him into the boardsgrabbing him when I fall down facing off against his team a couple of weeks.