Weeknotes 1 - The beginning #

A bobbin of partially spun mint green yarn.
Pretty happy with this yarn I started spinning this week!

Last year, I attempted to write a post on Sundays recapping my week, but I didn't keep up with it. So, here I go again, giving this another try! I'm hoping to keep this a mix of crafting, coding, and other little bits about my week that I enjoyed or inspired me.

  • Thanks to the Party Corgi Discord server, I've thought a little about what I want this space to be. What do I want to put out there for others? Do I want to write about code, do I want to write about life, or do I want to write about a combination of the two? The only conclusion I've reached is that I need to write something, so here I am.

  • I'm participating in Tour de Fleece this year, which is a fiber spinning challenge that happens every year during the Tour de France (which is happening virtually this year). I'm challenging myself by spinning for at least 15 minutes a day, and so far, I've only missed one day. Spinning yarn is a meditative activity for me and I need it more than ever right now.

  • My yoga practice is going well. I started watching a Yoga with Adriene video every morning a little over 3 weeks ago as a way to ground myself and stay active. I've needed this bit of exercise to improve my mental health, as the pandemic has vastly affected my well being. (Honestly, who hasn't been affected by this?) Doing 20-30 minutes of yoga has helped me a lot, and next, in August, I'm planning on running again. I've missed it.

  • I listened to the latest episode of the Tech 4 Humans podcast, with Erika Myles as the guest talking about web accessibility. I'm always super jazzed to hear excitement regarding web accessibility, so I recommend this podcast and this episode to anyone else who wants to learn more!

  • Book-wise, I finished reading She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore earlier this week and started How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. I'm now up to 23 books read so far this year.

  • I worked a short week last week, taking Thursday and Friday off. During my short week, I spent some time working on a React application for our client, updating our Storybook instance with updated components. I used Storybook back when I worked on a design system for the company I worked for, so it was fun getting back into it. Also, I finally did my taxes and renewed my driver's license, so gold star for me!

Goals for next week: Continue with my daily yoga practice, write another Weeknotes post next Sunday, and continue with Tour de Fleece. Maybe I'll get around to tweaking this site a bit, but I'd rather focus on writing for now. Wish me luck!

CSS Naked Day 2020 #

Are you wondering where my fancy* styles went today? Well, this morning I came across Andy's post about CSS Naked Day! I actually participated in this back in 2004 or 2005, and I'm happy to see it back! I like the idea of displaying a site without CSS, to double check and see if the site makes semantic sense. So, enjoy my site in all its naked glory today!

*not fancy

2019 good things list #

The Grand Canyon.
I FINALLY went to the Grand Canyon and it was amazing.

2019, for lack of a better term, sucked. It was a hard year full of loss and grief, plus I dealt with my anxiety a lot and that certainly wasn't easy. I spent some of this year in tears, feeling down about myself and the world in general, but I'm trying to stay positive. I'm trying to remember the good things that did happen this year, and a lot of good things did occur. Here are some of those things!

  • I was fortunate enough to go on a few great trips -- Canada to visit Adam's parents, Princeton for DrupalCamp New Jersey, Seattle for DrupalCon, a train trip to the Grand Canyon and Zion national parks, Oklahoma for work (my first time in that state!), Philadelphia with some friends, a road trip to Prince Edward Island, and a long weekend at Rhinebeck with my knitting friends!
  • Just like in 2018, my relationship with Adam continued to grow. We learned a lot about each other this year and we continue to teach each other new things. We also challenge each other, which I find incredibly important in a relationship! I hope our relationship continues to grow in 2020.
  • On a related note, Adam and I signed a lease to an apartment in 2019! I won't be moving into the apartment until later in 2020 when my lease is up at my current place, but I'm excited to live together.
  • For the first time since the late 90s, I lived in the same dwelling for over two years. I have moved SO MANY TIMES as an adult so it was great to stay in the same place for awhile!
  • I started working at Lullabot, a company I respect greatly. I'm so excited to be working at a company I've wanted to work at for a long time, and I'm happy to be working remotely again!
  • I spoke at two conferences this year -- Design 4 Drupal Boston and New England Drupal Camp -- giving my talk "Putting the 'C' Back in CSS: Modern Techniques for Today's Website". I got a lot of great feedback on both talks, and I'm glad to be doing it again after almost 10 years!
  • I started volunteering my time at Drupal events, both local and national. I'm on the program committee to select sessions for DrupalCon Minneapolis, and I'm the Design and User Experience track chair, as well as part of the website team, for the 2020 New England Regional Developer (NERD) Summit. I'm glad to be contributing to both of these conferences, helping a community I love so much!
  • We saw a bunch of awesome shows this year -- Bombino, Weird Al (for the second year in a row!), Jody Wisternoff, Caravan Palace, The New Pornographers, and Opiuo (again, for the second year in a row). They were all super fun!
  • For the first time in 5 and a half years, I ran a race! I ran a Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving morning. It was my slowest ever 5k but I'm so, so happy I got back out there. One of my 2020 goals is to start running again, so this was a good way to start.
  • I knit a bunch of things this year, including 5 pairs of socks for Adam. I love that he wears everything I knit for him, AND that he buys the yarn for the socks I knit for him! He's a keeper.

Read past good things lists: 2018 good things list, 2017 good things list.

NEDCamp 2019 #

This past weekend, I attended NEDCamp, a camp I've been attending for the past 4 years. As always, I enjoyed the camp and all the fantastic sessions. This year I presented a session of my own, and I think it went pretty well!

NEDCamp was held in Providence, RI again this year, so that worked out well for Adam and I! A couple of our friends drove us down from Boston and we got stuck in some not so fun traffic, but our great conversaions made up for it. We grabbed dinner at the hotel and spent the evening touching up our sessions for the next day.

The Sessions#

Drupal 8 & Gatsby JS: What, Why & How by Zachary Weishar#

Zachary talking about Drupal and Gatsby.
Photo courtesy of the NEDCamp 2019 team.

Even though I no longer use Gatsby to power my site, I still enjoy going to talks about decoupling Drupal. This was a nice overview of what you gain and lose by decoupling your Drupal site, so this session's a great reminder of the plusses and minuses of using Gatsby as your front end.

Read more about the Drupal 8 & Gatsby JS presentation on the NEDCamp site.

Media in Drupal 8: everything you need to know by Adam G-H#

Adam starting his presentation at NEDCamp.
Photo courtesy of the NEDCamp 2019 team.

Adam gave a fantastic talk on Media in Drupal 8! He explained the complexities of the system in a clear and concise manner. He used diagrams to explain one of the more complex parts of the Media system, and a couple people near me said they understood the system better and could now talk to their clients about why Media in Drupal 8 is useful. I'm so glad I finally got to see him present at a conference.

View the slides from Adam's talk!

Building Meaningful Network Connections by Mike Miles#

Mike giving his presentation on building meaningful network connections.

I always enjoy Mike's talks because they are so organized, with clear takeaways and important points. Mike outlined three different phases of networking: prep, engage, and connect, and listed a couple different action items for each phase. I found it helpful as I always like to brush up on my networking skills!

View the slides from Mike's talk!

Keynote - The Three Circles of Digital Care by J.D. Flynn, Matt Westgate, and Dori Kelner#

J.D. Flynn, Matt Westgate, and Dori Kelner answering questions during the NEDCamp 2019 keynote session.
Photo courtesy of the NEDCamp 2019 team.

This year's keynote? Amazing. I absolutely loved that the camp organizers chose Being Human as the topic this year. The keynote opened with a personal story by John Picozzi and the fantastic display of empathy his employer, Oomph, demonstrated when his wife was in the hospital. That kicked off a fantastic panel of people in the Drupal community, answering questions both from the moderator and the audience. I'm glad my local Drupal community values being human and recognizes that

Putting the "C" Back in CSS by... me!!#

Me giving my presentation on putting the C back in CSS.
Photo courtesy of the NEDCamp 2019 team.

Hey look, it's me! I first presented this talk at Design 4 Drupal earlier this year and was asked to fill in at NEDCamp after a cancellation. I'm glad I got to deliver this session again! I talked about why the cascade is still important today and gave a general overview on BEM and Sass and ways to use them together. I hope everyone who attended enjoyed the talk and learned something new!

(At some point I'll post my slides, but today is not that day.)

From Squiggles to Straight Lines: Sketch to make decisions and get on with it by Marissa Epstein#

Marissa talking about her sketching process.
Photo courtesy of the NEDCamp 2019 team.

Marissa's talk ruled! I loved hearing her speak about her processes as a UX designer and how she puts pen to paper to visualize her ideas. Her talk made me want to start sketching out my ideas and to sketch out any notes I take at conferences or meetings! I enjoyed attending a talk that wasn't about code or development and I hope to see more talks from her in the future.

View Marissa's slides and read more about her talk on the NEDCamp site.

Advanced Techniques With Layout Builder by Nathan Dentzau#

Nathan going over his Layout Builder code.
Photo courtesy of the NEDCamp 2019 team.

Nathan presented to a full house during the last session of the day, and it was a great talk! He went over ways to enhance Layout Builder's built-in functionality, including filtering the massive list of blocks, adding background colors and images to sections, and even incorporating modals instead of the settings tray! It was pretty cool to see all the things he wrote to add to an already fantastic module.

See code samples from Nathan's talk on Github.

After the conference, we attended the after party for about an hour. I ate a ton of delicious bacon wrapped scallops (one of my favorite parts about this camp every year!) and chatted with a few people. After the party we went out to dinner with a bunch of people from the conference, and at about 10pm, we got tired and walked back to the hotel. We fell asleep pretty quickly after a fun and knowledge-filled camp!

I had a great time at NEDCamp, as always! I look forward to this camp every year and I can't wait to attend NEDCamp 2020.

DrupalCamp New Jersey 2019 #

A few weeks ago, Adam and I rode a bus, a subway, and a train to attend DrupalCamp New Jersey, my first time attending this camp at Princeton University. It's an excellent, excellent camp, and I hope to attend for many years to come.

We arrived on Friday evening after a day of travel. Who knew that taking a bus to New York City, taking a brief subway ride to Penn Station, then hopping on the NJ Transit to Princeton would take all day? As soon as we checked into our hotel, we were ready to see some of our Drupal buddies! We ended up getting a beer and some food at a place called the Ivy Inn, where we conversed with our friends and drank tasty brews. It was a nice, low-key way to kick off the camp.

The camp started bright and early Saturday morning. We hitched a ride with a couple other Drupalists who were also staying in our hotel, and we chatted with a few more people before heading off to the day's sessions. Signs labeled all the session rooms, the sprint room, and signs even directed people to the restrooms. I loved all the signage!

The sessions#

It wouldn't be a camp without attending a couple sessions! I ended up attending four, spending the rest of my time in the sprint room working on fixing this blog. Let's just say I've learned a lot about ESLint over the last few weeks...

What’s new in WCAG 2.1 by Kara Gaulrapp#

A woman speaking in front of a group of people.

I want to learn more about ensuring the sites I work on are accessible, so this session on new things coming to WCAG 2.1 was right up my alley. Kara went over 17 new rules, including orientation, which means sites must be usable in both portrait and landscape, reflow, which means a website must be responsive without loss of content, and, my favorite, content on hover or focus, which means if a user triggers content, ensure that the content should be dismissed. A very excellent and informative session!

Accessibility: Making your websites more inclusive by Christine Hickey#

This session was also very informative and I loved the speaker's badass pink hair! She went over many different easy wins for making a website more accessible, including putting a background color on images so that if a user turns images off, the text and background still contrast well. She also discussed different accessibility tools such as WAVE and aXe. I'll be putting these tools to use for sure!

Drupal Coffee Exchange#

Coffee bags on a table in a conference room.

I belong to a little community called the Drupal Coffee Exchange, in which I'm paired with someone else and we send each other local coffee. At some conferences, real life coffee exchanges occur as well, and this camp was no exception. Sadly, I forgot to bring coffee to exchange, but Adam Bergstein (better known as nerdstein) bought a box of coffee from a local NJ coffeeshop to share with the participants. It was very tasty!

How to keep Drupal relevant in the Git-based and API-driven CMS era by Jesus Manuel Olivas#

A man speaking in front of a group of people.

I'm always a sucker for sessions that talk about Gatsby, so of course I attended this one! Jesus discussed using Boina, a Drupal 8 distribution that makes Drupal and Gatsby work together with very little effort. It looked pretty cool and if I ever wanted to play around with decoupled Drupal, I may reach for this.

The new Layout Builder: Unleash the Power! by Ted Bowman#

I hear a lot about Layout Builder, yet the concept never really made complete sense to me... until this session. Ted demonstrated the capabilites of Layout Builder, and seeing it live made me realize how easy building site-wide layouts and layout one-offs will be once this becomes stable in Drupal 8.7. Care has been given to make Layout Builder as accessible as possible, and the usability is a lot better than I thought I'd be as well. Even I might start using Layout Builder in Drupal projects once it lands!

After the sessions ended, we headed to a nearby building to enjoy some food and delicious beers while talking more about the day, and after that, I headed out with a few friends to enjoy brews at Triumph Brewing Company. I always enjoy local beers at a local brewpub, and this place did not disappoint! I particularly enjoyed their Winter Wonder, a winter warmer that felt great to drink on a cold winter night. It was a fantastic time.

On Sunday, we spent a few hours at the sprint day, working on a few Drupal issues. I fixed my blog issues and ate some delicious NJ pizza before we had to catch our train back to NYC, and then our bus back to Boston. We were psyched that the Super Bowl was going on while were on the bus back home, as the roads were empty and we got home earlier than expected! It's the only time I'll be happy about the Super Bowl.

All in all, I loved this camp. Excellent sessions, excellent company -- I really want to attend again next year. I'm also excited about a couple other conferences coming up this spring, including NERD Summit in western Mass... and DrupalCon Seattle in April! I'm excited about all the conferences I'll be attending this year, and I'm happy I added DrupalCamp New Jersey to my conference shelf.