An X-Files Tour of Vancouver

Vancouver was the filming location for the first five seasons of The X-Files, the second movie, and the latest season. I had a late flight out on Sunday, so I wanted to spend some time getting to know the city as an X-Phile.

I relied on moviemaps.org, and pinned locations that were within walking distance of our hotel. On our last day, Tammie, Thomas, and I walked around the city, and occasionally stopped so Tammie could take dorky photos of me standing in front of various X-Files filming locations.

Not on the list was the Vancouver Aquarium (used in Fearful Symmetry), which we passed during a tour of Stanley park, and Brix & Mortar restaurant, which was one of our group dinners. I couldn’t figure out which episode it had been used in, though.

Cates Park was the only location that was significantly out of our way, so we hailed a taxi from Gastown, and I paid a cab driver named William (!!!) an inordinate amount of money to haul us there, keep the meter running, and take us back to the city. The things I do for fandom.

By this time, it was pouring rain — not cute, drizzly Vancouver rain, but pissed-off, stormy, blustering rain — and we got soaked during the scant five minutes we spent at the beach, all for a shot of the iconic log from Home Again.

Tammie and Thomas have my eternal gratitude for accompanying me on this spiritual journey of sorts. I can tell they were also moved by my unending devotion to this godforsaken show:

“Caroline, we hate you.” – Actual quote from my teammates as we stood in the pouring rain. I don’t think they meant it.

WORTH IT.

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Theme Team in Vancouver, March 2016

Theme Team! Photo by Tammie Lister

Theme Team! Back row: Me, Thomas, Ola, Allan, Ernesto. Front row: Richard, David, Kathryn, Laurel, and Jeff. Photo by Tammie, who should also be in this picture.

I spent a fun and productive week with my team in Vancouver, BC last week!

My first impression of the city was that it smelled nice, unlike most cities, which either smell like pee or exhaust fumes or both. It also had the cleanest train system I’ve ever encountered. Well done, Vancouver.

Everyone talks about the rain, but it wasn’t as soggy as I expected (except for the last day, but that’s a different story). It was either cloudy, misty, or lightly raining. Occasionally we’d catch a hint of sun, which was a nice surprise.

My team kicked butt on our project, a new iteration of Components. We worked on the first version as a squad in Lisbon, and similar to Lisbon, we broke into groups to tackle different parts. The idea is to bring everything together to create a starter theme generator that includes custom-built user-selected components as well as common theme types.

When we weren’t working, we saw some of Vancouver’s many sights. We toured the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, saw the Mashup exhibit at Vancouver Art Gallery, grabbed lunch and did some shopping on Granville Island, and walked around Stanley Park.

Watching everyone come together to collaborate inspired some serious proud Theme Mama feels. These people are amazing, and I’m honored to work with them every day.

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Lisbon, Portugal with the Theme Wranglers

Wrapping up my last major travel event of the year with a trip to Lisbon, Portugal, to spend a week with my squad.

The groups’ project turned out amazing; it’s not quite ready to be made public, but for now I’ll say I’m super excited about it and proud of everyone for pulling it off in four short days.

Lisbon itself was a treat. The warm, sunny weather was a relief from Maine’s gray November cold, and the people were gracious and patient with us non-native speakers. I was shocked at how inexpensive things were compared to other city-based meetups we’ve done. Amazing food and lots to see, and we came in well under budget.

We had two days to explore, and we didn’t cover even an eighth of what was there; to say it was a busy week was an understatement. We did get to see a beautiful view of the city from the top of the Santa Justa lift, and the gardens and architecture at the Jerónimos Monastery.

Oh, and Sarah helped me put a purple streak in my hair! You never know what trouble fun Automatticians will get up to when they get together.

I had a great time, but it’s good to be home, knowing there’s no travel in my immediate future. Three months in a row was tough for this homebody.

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Automattic Grand Meetup, Park City, UT

Theme Wranglers squad

Theme Wranglers squad with their dorky lead

Something magical happens when this company gets together. It reminds me of summer camp; you come away from it having changed, but it’s difficult to describe the experience to others. Suffice it to say, I work with some wonderfully smart, talented, and fun people.

Most of all, I love that I can be myself at Automattic. I’ve thrived over the last three years, thanks to an environment in which I feel safe to take risks and tackle challenges, knowing I’m supported by my team and my lead.

I was sad to leave, but I do so with many new ideas and forged connections. It felt like a week with friends, particularly the time spent with my team. My brain is full, my body is exhausted, but part of me has been rejuvenated. I’m ready to see what the next year has in store.

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ThemeConf in Keswick

I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at ThemeConf in Keswick, UK this last week. It was quite a trip; I think I covered all manner of modern transportation to get there — planes, trains, buses, and taxis — but the conference, the people, and the scenery made the journey worth it.

The conference was generally about forward-thinking web development, with a bias toward WordPress. Attendance was small, but that made it more intimate and easier to socialize. I learned quite a bit from each presenter; the level of each talk reminded me of CSS Conf, but without the massive venue and hefty price tag.

As for Keswick itself, the town is adorable. Small enough to be walk-able, with lots of cute shops and restaurants. People had a lot to say about the weather, but I had no complaints; I got re-acquainted with my sweaters.

(I did not enjoy coming home to 80-degree temperatures and suffocating humidity, but that’s a different story.)

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