2015 Austin Half-Marathon

The 2015 Austin Marathon was originally planned to be the crowning achievement of the running season, but after the twins were born, I completely failed at training. A month before the race, I switched to the half distance. The 2015 Austin Half-Marathon doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, though.

Whoever thought having the race near Valentine’s Day—I’m curious the rationale. After spending time away from my wife to train, I’m going to disrupt the annual romantic-for-no-reason-besides-a-random-date-on-the-calendar celebration to be in fighting form for the race?

The day before the race was Valentine’s Day, but more importantly, the twins went to sleep early for the first time in a long time. Sure, I could have called it a night early. Instead Vanessa and I talked—something that isn’t as simple as it used to be since there’s almost one of the five kids needs some type of attention or something else needed to keep the household running.

To keep the story short, we talked for a few hours and had a glass of champaign. Perfect pre-race preparation.
Continue reading 2015 Austin Half-Marathon

Father Hesburgh

Father Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., was president of the University of Notre Dame from 1952 to 1987. He increased the stature and size of the university, and greatly influenced the areas of civil rights and higher education in the United States.

Source: University of Notre Dame

Fr. Hesburgh passed away last night at 97. While plenty think he derailed Catholic Higher Education, Notre Dame is a shining example of an university dedicated to the whole person absolutely rooted with Christ at the core.

They way Notre Dame navigates remaining a national university while maintaining Catholic identity is unmatched and that’s largely due to the way Hesburgh navigated the early waters during our—both American and Catholic —social chaos of the 1960s.

Visit ND’s Memorial Site.

Update: Another nice memorial from ND Observer (student paper).

The Glory Days of American Football

The most popular sport in the US is savage, creative, brutal & balletic. Love it or loathe it, it’s a touchstone of the American identity.

Source: American Football

Radiolab, a radio show distributed by NPR, had a very interesting episode on football. The first half discussed the history of the game, particularly the roots in post-Civil War men needing to display masculinity, how the forced assimilation of Native Americans influenced the game, and how Pop Warner’s trickery is responsible for half of the rulebook.

As a football fan, this tackled football in a manner completely new to me. It is worth the listen, especially the first half.

WordPress 💖 Emoji

The latest stable version of WordPress, and all those precede it, do not support emoji. The default database character set used simply isn’t compatible with it.

Emoji are the next generation of emoticons. They’re the little pictographs like 🚧🍺⛪️. Quite frankly, I love them. Can’t get enough of them.

I’m happy to say that work is being done to add these to WordPress. Already in trunk (the up-to-the-second version of WordPress) is the ability to save to the database in the correct character set needed, if you’re using a recent-enough version of MySQL, but hopefully soon, a graceful method for using them within WordPress and ensuring that all visitors can see them—some browsers and operating system combinations will render them, some won’t. I’m testing out all of this on this site—beware of dragons.

If you’re viewing this in Chrome, if it wasn’t for this in-development method, none of these characters would show: 🙉🎱🐮⌚️⏳💍💗.

This is a relatively big change—a different character set in the database and how to handle the different places/ways characters are expected. Everything from the URL of the post to RSS feeds to the e-mailed newsletter that this post will generate tomorrow morning. Quite frankly, I’m not sure what’ll look like and, if it looks bad, how feasible it is to fix it.

If you notice problems, leave me a comment. The ideal is we’d merge this with trunk after another week or two, so help 23+% of the Internet and report any bugs.


Thank You Automattic

My twin daughters are 10 weeks old and I’ve been back to work for a week now.

If it takes a village to raise a kid, it takes a metropolis to raise five. I’ve had kids born now in all sorts of different job environments, in order:

  • Sole breadwinner at a church with no paternity policy, but generally flexible. Took a couple of weeks paid; hadn’t really taken a paid vacation before at that job.
  • Sole breadwinner as an independent contractor with health insurance that didn’t cover maternity. No paid leave, plus bills equal to a small car.
  • Stay-at-home dad & part-time freelancer. Vanessa had two-weeks paid leave, rest of semester (~2 months) unpaid leave. No paid leave for me and had to ramp up work to help make ends meet.
  • Sole breadwinner employed at Automattic.

No company is perfect. They all have their warts, but Automattic’s paternity policy is, frankly, beyond anything I could ask for, at least from my American point-of-view.

The policy directly from our handbook: Take the time off that you need.

It goes on to specify that paid leave is dependent on being at Automattic for a year and that, after three months, health coverage will be offered under COBRA until your return. Fair enough.

With the twins being in the NICU, then being home and small enough to merit them to go back into the hospital after catching RSV, being able to take months off to focus on them and get our bearings a bit, is truly a blessing and, within the States, revolutionary.

The current reality of maternity and paternity leave in the United States is a joke. You can’t really argue for paternity leave at this point since maternity leave is such in need of reform first.

Despite the majority of the country, I’m glad that a growing number of workplaces see the overall benefit—to them and their employees—in supporting the total well-being of their people and I’m especially glad to be working at one of them. By a company investing so much into me, it only makes me want to ensure I’m giving them my best.

In the first of a series of “Thank You” posts, I say thank you Automattic for allowing me, for the first time, to fully focus on my family as we welcomed an addition.

Love making the web a better place? You might want to work with us.

Update: Good timing, I suppose. I completely had missed my coworker, Darnell, saying basically the same thing I just did.

Beating a celebrity, company to the obvious Twitter handle – NY Daily News

These Twitter users secured a handle that others would associate with a celebrity or a major company. They couldn’t be happier.

Source: Beating a celebrity, company to the obvious Twitter handle – NY Daily News

I’m Internet famous again! NY Daily News wrote a piece about me, @velveeta, and other not-you-who’d-think Twitterers.

If you’re new around here, check out my 4-minute presentation about the name or the care package @KraftFoods sent later on.

There has been a small number of stories written about folks like me, though, this is the best so far, I think.

Poor Use of Regular

Calling at 4:45 p.m.:

Our business hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please call back during regular business hours.

See, I am calling regular business hours, but you’re not open during regular business hours.

Protip: Don’t use words like “regular” or “normal”. Your normal may not actually be normal.