On the Yellow Brick Road

Week 19 Back in Minnesota

Today one of my devotions matched perfectly with what I was already thinking about.  The verse in the devotion is 1 Corinthians 2:2, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."  The idea that we as Christians preach the "Christ, crucified" is to know that God is part of our suffering world.  And God will not turn away from us even though we have and will betray Him and sin against him.  I was thinking this morning that even though I have hurt many people in my own life and how many of them will not forgive me. But God has already forgiven me.  And even though I often live with my own regrets, guilt and inability to forgive myself for my past sins; God has already forgiven me.  Through God's forgiveness I can live my next day.  

Trudy and kids had a really tough week in Topeka KS this week.  They had multiple days buried in snow and ice.  Ben (a.k.a. Ice Man) apparently found out the limits of his ability to enjoy cold weather and shoveling snow this week.  He needed help from his mom to finish shoveling the driveway off.  Topeka got 9" of snow, which is a huge amount of snow for Kansas.  It was also bitterly cold, below zero (0) air temperature and way below zero wind chills.

I had sprint planning week at work.  Although each day of the week was very long, mostly 10 hour days, they went by quickly and each day was very effective for a sprint planning week.  All of the teams did a good job getting their planning done.  I was pleased with how well it went.  We also are much closer to running our payroll process in both the development and QA environments.

Right now I am enjoying my normal Minnesota Sat. Morning Haunt - Your Coffeehouse - which has a fun Sat. morning jam session.  It is like going someone's home for a big jam session, with a staffed kitchen that makes great hot sandwiches.  Right now they are playing old school country western styled jam songs.

Tonight I am going to my friend's Scott & Linda annual Groundhog Day Party.  No we will not be watching Groundhog Day .  Instead there will be a ton of food, drink, friends, and at least four professional bands in their basement playing.  I will be there with my camera to document the night's festival.

Well time to sign off.

Week 18 Back in Minnesota

Well the exciting news from this week is that I had my first 'car accident' in many years (maybe decades).  I was driving to work on Thursday morning, wasn't paying attention for a moment on an off ramp right near the office, hit a patch of packed snow, did a 90 degree slide into a snow bank in the median.  The good news is that I didn't hit anyone else, the car was undamaged (at least as far as I could tell), and I was undamaged.  The bad news is I have to fill out an accident report, I hit a road sign, I have a ticket because I haven't switched out my Kansas drivers license yet and I didn't have a current insurance card with me.  The later part is easy to fix by sending in a copy to the court.  I have to go to get my Minnesota drivers license now .

As for work, the teams are doing ok.  They made good progress this week towards our main goals.  We didn't accomplish everything we wanted to but they did get farther than I think we expected.  We also had some good backlog grooming meetings and technical exchange meetings.  Next week is sprint planning week, which is always grueling for me.  Three long long meetings and they tend to require that I either have to get teams to talk (offshore teams) or get other teams to stay on topic (onshore).  It is emotionally and intellectually draining.

I also came back to Topeka on Thursday night and I will be going back to Minnesota on Sunday night.  It is nice to have the trip back to see Trudy, Benjamin and Catalina.  I am always surprised to see how much Catalina and Benjamin have changed since I have been gone.  They seem to grow more each month.  Sadly it looks like with the way the housing market is going we won't be moving before the end of May or June.  To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement.

Well it is late and I have a long day on Sunday.

Week 17 Back in Minnesota

Well this week flew by mostly because I had three really fun things to do.  The first one was on Tues night to see Hamilton Loomis play at Famous Dave's.  The second fun thing was going to see Davina and the Vagabonds at Wilebski's Blues SaloonYour Coffeehouse Saturday morning Jam.

This past week the teams ran into a number of roadblocks with the code and processes that really 'jammed' them up.  Fortunately this week the company brought in an outside consulting company to find out what are the 'anchors' that are keeping the teams from moving quickly.  They got an earful.  Everyone kept plugging away and didn't give up. 

Although I miss Trudy, Benjamin, and Catalina this week was as lonely for me.  Part of it is because I was busy.  But it is also because I have become comfortable being 'alone' again.  There were many times while I was in college where I was essentially alone and lonely.  Somehow I survived (and even thrived at times) through those years.  I can make it through this separation as well.

The big news is that Trudy will be coming up here this week for a couple of days for a "pastor's job fair" with the two synods.  Then after she goes back I go back a day later.

Week 16 Back in Minnesota

First full week back in Minnesota and it has been a tiring and very productive week.  This past week at work is sprint planning week.  Sprint planning is where the team will do detailed planning of their work for the next sprint.  Our sprints are three weeks long.  For the Scrum Master, my role, it can be a very tiring effort because I need to balance the need to get as much work on the sprint and make sure the team is comfortable commiting to that work.

All three teams had good sprint planning meetings.  I was particularly pleased with the on shore team because we committed to getting a set of stories done within the three week period.  This is the first time they have done this.  I think it is because we had so much success in our last sprint.  We didn't finish everything we set out to accomplish but we did accomplish more than we ever had before.  I am very proud of all of my teams.

The other two teams are also now able to do work they never even attempted prior to three weeks ago.  The offshore team took some scripts written by the onshore team to build and deploy the entire application locally on their PCs.  In the past the teams had been working on isolated parts of the system.  Now they are working on the entire system.  Also the local team had developed a process document which shows how to do the most important application process ("happy path testing") and the offshore teams are able to use that document to do "happy path testing".    Three months ago this would have been impossible to do.  Another moment to be proud of all three teams.

We also had a team even at ProKart, which is an indoor Go Kart racing track.  Here are some pictures from the event.  Two of me and a group shot of the people I work with.

Front Row: Rick, Rachelle, Me, Steve, Don, Lori, Flo, Vishal

Back Row: Steve, Don, Garrett, Bill, Chris, Andy, Bill

More Team Photographs are here.

As for life in Topeka, KS, we are still waiting on something to happen with the house.  Trudy, Benjamin and Catalina are doing a great job keeping the house ready for open houses and potential house showings.  It is hard work.  I deeply appreciate the work they have to do to keep the place up.

Right now I am hanging out at the Corner Cafe in Minneapolis at the Sat. morning jam.  Nice small crowd today.  A different group than last week.  Some core folks are here that I know which is nice.  My friend Scott is playing his mandolin right now which sounds great.  He gave his guitar to a young woman who is playing a nice folksy ballad right now.  She had been playing a violin.

Well time to close out this posting.  Four months since I started this adventure.  I didn't think I would last this long.  Actually I almost didn't last this long.  Hopefully the house sells soon and we will be all together.

Week 15 Back in Minnesota

Well I came back on Sunday and I had the day off on Jan 3.  I had to take the Subaru into the dealer to have the steering pump replaced, plus have a heater core and few minor fixes done.  $900 later I had my car back and it was running fine. 

The work week went very well this week.  Because of all the hard work that all the teams have been doing the last three weeks (in some cases the last three months) the teams got farther along than I thought they did by this point in time.  One of the teams had always been focused on the 'engine' portion of the application.  Within the week that team was able to setup the full application and run the application to the same place where everyone else is stuck at.  This would not have been possible if the bug team hadn't fixed over three hundred defects in the last three months and the local team hadn't created a repeatable developer setup process and process documents.

I was so impressed with everyone's efforts.  I have to remember to let the teams know how proud I am of all of them for their hard work this coming week.

I did miss Trudy, Benjamin, Catalina and the pets this week.  But not as much as I did in Dec.  Maybe its is because I was just there.  I have also been doing things differently this week.  I have been making sure to hang out with out my friends here in town.

For instance, I am at Corner Cafe Saturday morning jam.  A great place to have a sandwich and listen to friends (and maybe someday friends) play some classic tunes.  Today there were a ton of guitars, a violin, mandolin, keyboards, and bass guitar.  Pretty cool way to spend the morning.