Why My Shoes Can’t Talk Any More

At the end of October I bought a pair of Merrell Bare Access Flex. Absolutely loved the shoes from the first run. I instantly became a fan of the zero drop shoe style which is closer to running barefoot.

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After only about 80mi / 130km of running, I started to notice some tearing forming on the outside of both shoes near that darker rubberized swoosh.

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Turns out I’m not the only one experiencing these problems. I saw the reviews before I bought the shoe but I didn’t want to believe them. I still didn’t want to believe it. How could a shoe that felt so great start to fall apart so quickly? I had already put 300mi / 500km on my last pair of Nike running shoes so this seemed awful.

I did what the Merrell customer service team suggested to do on many of those reviews – contact them. I sent them a picture of the damage, details of the purchase, and an explanation as to what was happening. They got back to me shortly after and asked for me to select three alternatives to this shoe from their site and another picture of the damage. After about a week I got a notice back saying they would be replacing the shoes with my first choice but I’d need to cut the tongues out of the shoes and send them a picture to prove their destruction.

I replied back asking if it were possible to destroy them after receiving the new pair – my old running shoes really were in a bad shape and I didn’t want to use them. After another week of no reply I sucked it up, cut the tongues out, and sent them the picture.

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These shoes had plenty of life left in them and it felt awful having to make them useless. But in the end they replied back shortly after and said my replacement shoes were on their way.

I just got the replacements today and already took them for a spin. The Merrell Trail Runner 4 shoes are very similar in design (zero drop, lightweight, flexible) but are a bit tougher since they’re made for trail running. They also seem to be a little more appropriate for colder weather.

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Here’s to getting more than 80mi out of them!

My First WordCamp US

This past weekend I attended WordCamp US 2017 in Nashville TN with over 1,000 other attendees. I don’t know the actual number, but it was a lot. This was the first WordCamp US I ever attended – so I didn’t know what to expect. I was given the honor to be able to speak to everyone in a session called “How Working Remote Saved My Life” based loosely on topics related to my favorite blog post.

In case you don’t know what WordCamp is, here’s the official definition from their site:

WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress. WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.

I arrived in Nashville on Thursday, registered early, and attended the volunteer & speaker appreciation social event. I’m a relatively new person to the community despite me having worked with Automattic & WordPress for nearly five years now. I took this opportunity not only to connect with the speakers but to meet people in the WordPress world.

WordCamp officially began on Friday. Most of the day I spent rehearsing my talk which was right after lunch. The organizers of the conference gave me the royal treatment, in my opinion. There was a dedicated quiet green room for speakers which allowed me to concentrate and de-stress about talking. They also provided both a handler and an emcee to make sure I got everything I needed and had a proper introduction to the crowd. Every session was also recorded and live streamed which made it easy to have friends and family watch me live. No pressure, of course. Lunch Friday was fantastic – the fried chicken was delicious. I attended a couple sessions in the afternoon but frankly my mind was spinning so much from finishing my talk that I don’t remember many details beyond the people I met.

Friday night I checked out the LGTBQ+Allies party at Suzy Wong’s House of Yum. We all got fancy pink hats with the rainbow Wapuu embroidered on them. The turn-out was great and because of the gracious sponsors the event was free.

Saturday’s day was a mix of attending sessions and volunteering at the swag store. I recommend volunteering to anyone wanting to get a chance to meet a lot of great people. The swag booth is a center of activity and in the afternoon we had enough traffic that warranted opening a second booth downstairs. The day ended with watching the State of the Word where Matt Mullenweg gave his thoughts on WordPress in 2017 and the roadmap to 2018. I somehow managed to score a front row seat. Later that evening the closing party started at the Adventure Science Center a little ways away. We were treated to an evening of nerdy fun including a tour of the night sky in the planetarium, zero-gravity rides, and many other exhibits. We had the run of the entire facility.

Sunday I participated in Contributor Day which is probably the most impactful piece of the entire weekend. On that day a large group of us co-worked and onboarded new contributors, knocked out high-value mini projects, and set the goals for the upcoming year. It was great working with so many smart and energetic people in the same room.

Some of my take-aways from the event:

  • The organizers are legit professional people. The undertaking of such a large event is overwhelming and it looked flawless from my perspective.
  • The venue, Music City Center, is breathtaking. We’re back there next year and I can’t wait to return.
  • The $40 ticket included two days of the conference, contributor day, three lunches and plenty of snacks. I’ve never had so much value in one low ticket cost.
  • Speaking was a joy. I felt very accommodated and that I was very much valued to offer my time as a speaker and contributor to the event.
  • Nashville is a super awesome city.

And of course, here are some of my favorite pictures from my time in Nashville.

My Two Favorite Logos

Here is a photo of my two favorite logos – the Jetpack logo and the That Conference logo.

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Jetpack is a plugin you can install on your WordPress site to give it super powers that WordPress.com sites have but still self-hosted on your own servers.

That Conference is an awesome community tech conference that I’ve blogged about before. I’ve spoken there a number of years and really enjoy the mix of people and personalities it brings. Plus it’s at a waterpark and families are not only welcome but integrated into the conference itself. I’ve seen some pretty smart children giving awesome talks!

The MacBook Pro with the custom Jetpack logo is part of my four year anniversary gift for working at Automattic. We get to pick any one of our product logos or the Automattic logo. Here’s to another four! Thanks, Automattic. 😉

We Need to Re-Think How Music is Released

Having an all-you-can-eat music service like Apple Music is fairly incompatible with how music is traditionally released. Releasing singles and then eventually full albums and then sometimes deluxe albums and then even remix albums causing a lot of confusion. I end up with tons of duplicates in my library which then skews the “randomness” of shuffle. Here’s the scenario:

  1. Hear a new song that you like and add it to you library. This song comes from the single.
  2. Listen to “radio” streams or curated playlists and hear the same song. That song is being sourced from album. You add it to your library again because you don’t really know if it’s in your library yet or not.
  3. Listen to your library in shuffle and keep hearing the same songs over and over again.
  4. Realize you’ve added five versions of the same song – several are identical versions.

The multiple versions of songs also creates confusion when individual albums are pulled from the service by the studio for whatever reason. I’m assuming most reasons relate to contract negotiations. I also hate when songs are pulled and then are no longer playable then we they do get added back they’re not always associated with what’s in your library.

I’m not sure what the answer is to solve this. Maybe a machine learning algorithm to help reduce the duplicates by predicting matches better (“this song is already in your library”)?

People Are Not Drawn to Perfection in Others

My leadership coach shared a quote with me today that I’m using to help develop a talk I’m doing about how working remote saved my life.

In general, people are not drawn to perfection in others. People are drawn to shared interests, shared problems, and an individual’s life energy. Humans connect with humans. Hiding one’s humanity and trying to project an image of perfection makes a person vague, slippery, lifeless, and uninteresting.

Quote taken from Robert Glover in No More Mr. Nice Guy: A Proven Plan for Getting What You Want in Love, Sex, and Life

Filed Under: Crazy Shit My Insurance Provider Does

My employer recently changed our insurance plans around because we’re big enough now to manage our own insurance rather than use a third party co-employer. We actually have nearly identical plans with the same provider, Blue Shield of California. A limitation with their website requires me to register a new account to use with the new insurance plan. The stabby part of that is usernames are based on e-mail addresses. I have to use a different e-mail address which is annoying but at least they support the Gmail plus sign trick.

I’ve been getting e-mails that claims are ready for me to view on the site. When I log in, there are no claims. I finally sent a quick support request to the BSCA website technical team mentioning the creation of a second account and that I haven’t seen any claims come through yet.

Several days pass.

I was about to call the customer service team and then I see this come into my e-mail box. At first glance it looks like a shitty spam.

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I decide to click on it.

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A fax over e-mail? I understand I can have a fax number tied to an e-mail account but in this case it looks like it was “faxed” directly to my e-mail address.

It gets better.

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Somehow my insurance company doesn’t even have my phone number. I get how that could happen – maybe the data export from my employer missed it. But then how about e-mailing me back?

Instead of e-mailing me someone took the time to print out a letter, scan it, and then send it to me via a fax system. Notice how the letter states “Please do not reply to this email” since the responses aren’t monitored. 🤔

Looking at the second page it gets even more hilarious.

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There’s my original request as an e-mail.

You really have to wonder what sort of screwed up business processes had to misfire in order for this to be the most efficient way to get in touch with me.

Professionalism & Kerning

kern | kərn
verb [with object]

  1. (usually as noun kerning) adjust the spacing between (letters or characters) in a piece of text to be printed.
    • make (letters) overlap.
  2. design (metal type) with a projecting part beyond the body or shank.

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When I saw this poorly kerned sign in a doctor’s office I suddenly became less trustworthy of their ability to perform as medical professionals.

Today I Climbed a Mountain

I did something amazing today. I climbed a freaking mountain.

I’m at the Automattic annual Grand Meetup in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. I went on a hike with several of my coworkers up Blackcomb Ascent Trail. This was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I made it.

Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Distance: 8mi

Elevation Hiked: 3,900ft (1,200m)