Sh*t my brain says and forgets about

Author: Aaron Douglas Page 3 of 30

Goodbye, Burkley ❤️🐶❤️

On May 10, 2001 Burkley was born. On August 4, 2001 we found Burkley at a pet store, brought him home and named him. We knew he was going to be a huge part of our lives and we would become caring pet parents quickly. Burkley was a very trustworthy dog after he grew out of being a puppy. We could leave him at home without any worry that things would be okay when we got back. He loved being part of our family.

In 2008 he developed signs of Cushing’s Disease. The kind he had was treatable by medication but he had to be on it the rest of his life. It was also not cheap. Surprisingly he tolerated it well and he continued to live a full life.

In 2016 Burkley became a diabetic dog. Diabetes is an endocrine disorder like Cushing’s and frequently are presented together. It isn’t very often that a dog develops diabetes at 15, though. He took the twice daily insulin shots like a champ. He even let us take three glucose readings every day. We had to feed him at 12 hour increments reliably and couldn’t be away from him for more than four to five hours. It was a huge lifestyle change but again worth it.

In August of this year, 2018, Burkley suddenly started bleeding from his mouth. We believe it was due to complications from a bad tooth being infected. That infection also spread to his nasal cavity which then also affected his eyes. He started to show signs of not wanting to eat but would still eat delicious things like cooked chicken and bread. Eventually a couple weeks ago he really gave up eating altogether. He still drank water and used the bathroom until last week. We knew the end was coming so we had family over to say goodbye.

On Friday last week we made the choice to help him move on. Putting him to sleep was the hardest thing I and my husband have ever had to do in life. The experience was traumatic even though Burkley was mostly out of it that last day. I keep replaying events over in my head of his final moments. Seeing his lifeless body emptied my soul of happiness.

We’re slowly getting better every day. We realize and accept the choice we made to help him – it was inevitable that he would die soon anyway and likely in a lot of pain. Burkley hasn’t been himself for a while now but he never complained. Never. It was rare that he ever expressed pain and always managed to still express his love no matter how he felt.

His brother, Wunjo, was able to be there with us that day and got to say goodbye as well.

Everyone who met Burkley says he was a great dog full of personality. Here are some photographs of him so you may be able to glean just how much he meant to us over the years.

We’ll miss you, B. See you some day near the Rainbow Bridge, my pal. ❤️

Making bread with my mom

My grandmother died in 2003. I miss her dearly. She used to make the best bread and always would freeze a loaf for me to take home and enjoy. I’ve wanted to learn how to make her bread myself to keep the tradition going. Sadly it took me until now being on sabbatical to motivate myself to work with my mom on recreating the recipe.

This past week I drove up to my parents’ house and spent half of the day working through making two loafs of white bread. My grandmother’s recipe was never really written down so my mom tried to remember some of the special steps she followed.

We used the Classic White Bread recipe from Gold Medal Flour’s site as the foundation. Instead of milk we used water with potato flakes added – something my grandmother did.

Here are some pictures from the experience:

Since last week my mom has recalled several more things my grandmother used to do in her process. We’re also reading up on the science behind making bread to really understand how to do things right. I can’t wait to make my next loaf!

What does community mean to me?

At the opening remarks of That Conference 2018, Clark Sell asked every attendee to post a short video of what community means to them. Here’s my contribution!

[wpvideo 34LbZJva]

Ninety days of getting paid to not work

Yesterday began day one of 90 that I’ll be taking as a sabbatical from work.

Every five years at Automattic we’re given an awesome gift of a paid sabbatical – something I’ve never dreamt possible in our current age. The word “sabbatical” is heavily laden with teaching references. Even dictionaries reference education in its definition:

sabbatical | səˈbadək(ə)l |
a period of paid leave granted to a university teacher or other worker for study or travel, traditionally one year for every seven years worked: she’s away on sabbatical | he requested permission to take a sabbatical in Istanbul | he took a three-month sabbatical from his job as CEO of a family business.

What am I planning on doing with this time I have? A whole lot of nothing. Well, not really, but I’m keeping my plans simple.

  • Spend time with the parental units. Learn a bunch of recipes from my mom that I want to know how to make.
  • Get close to riding 100mi in one day on my bicycle.
  • Build something with wood or metal like a chair, shed, etc.
  • Read a bunch.

Ninety days will go by super quick. Here’s to making each day last.

Plex Media Server not showing updates

Since November of last year (roughly) I’ve noticed that the Plex Media Server app doesn’t ever show that there are updates available. I’ve manually reinstalled the latest server copy several times and it still hasn’t updated automatically. I found a solution that resolves this.

On macOS you have to delete a preference key for the last time the server was updated. A borked version got released which had a higher numerical value causing the server to never find an update.

1. Quit the Plex Media Server app by clicking on the icon in the menu bar and clicking Quit.
2. Open in Applications, Utilities.
3. Optionally first check to see if you have a value stored for that key by typing:
[code]defaults read ~/Library/Preferences/com.plexapp.plexmediaserver ButlerTaskUpdateVersionSkipped[/code]
and hit enter.
4. Next delete the key by typing:
[code]defaults delete ~/Library/Preferences/com.plexapp.plexmediaserver ButlerTaskUpdateVersionSkipped[/code]
and hit enter.
5. Re-launch Plex Media Server.

Your Plex Media Server should now properly indicate when an update is available.

China is changing the future of shopping

A coworker referred me to this recent TED talk about how China is changing how commerce happens. Not only does it involve the ecommerce sales experience but all the way through the supply chain to how products are designed. This definitely has opened my mind to how mobile devices can be involved in a consumer’s shopping experience.

Don’t do this with your Instant Pot

I bought my brother an Instant Pot for Christmas. If you’ve never heard of them before they’re a fancy electronically-controlled pressure cooker. You can cook many different things in it and they even have a Bluetooth model. I’ve wanted one for a while but never could justify getting it – so my brother got to be the guinea pig. He absolutely loves it so I was motivated to finally get one myself.

I picked one of the easiest things to make in the pot for our first meal – beef stew. I followed this recipe from the Instant Pot site:

  • 2 pounds beef stew meat
  • Stew Seasoning of your choice, amount adjusted for 2 pounds of meat, McCormick Stew seasoning was used as seasoning by original creator of  this recipe, two packets were used.
  • 4 cups Water
  • 5 potatoes chopped
  • 1 cup carrot chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 cup green beans raw

I took the easy route for the seasonings and picked up a packet of the McCormick Beef Stew Seasoning Mix. The instructions call for putting the beef, seasoning, and water into the cooker for 45 minutes. Then you’re supposed to release the pressure quickly, add the veggies in, and cook for another 10 minutes.

This is where things went a little wrong.

There are two ways to release the pressure in an Instant Pot. Quick release and natural method. Natural method means you let the pot cool down with time and the lock will open – naturally. For recipes requiring several steps or a more rapid stop in the cooking process, quick release is your solution. Quick release is a special valve on top of the lid that blows the steam out super quickly (and loudly). I read the instructions for the Instant Pot and understood cooking things with a lot of starch, like rice, can cause foaming inside. Using the quick release with starchy foods isn’t recommended because it’ll turn into a hot mess. Literally, a hot mess.

I didn’t realize that the first ingredient in the McCormick’s packets was corn starch. Refer back to my comment about starchy foods. Yup, you’ve guessed it – I had a hot mess. Imagine hot steam then beef fat and water spraying everywhere over the kitchen. I threw a towel over the spout to contain it.

Lesson learned: be aware of all ingredients of your meal before cooking it!



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Jetpack is a plugin you can install on your WordPress site to give it super powers that 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. 😉

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