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Christmas 2016

Wrapping up a successful Christmas; Santa was good to us this year. He seems to know how much we enjoy LEGOs, but he also came through with new card/dice games and expansions for old favorites, and sleds for outdoor fun.

We’re having quite the Classic New England Winter (TM) so far; lots of snow, regular pristine, white coatings of the stuff, which means a fair amount of plowing and shoveling and sending the kids outside dressed like waddling, hot-pink-and-purple marshmallows.聽In an effort to ward off the winter blahs, I’ve strung lights up聽to the point where our living room can probably聽be seen from space.

I scheduled an extra-long winter vacation, without realizing it would be almost as long as my summer break was.聽Not that I’m complaining, but I’m at a bit of a loss since I didn’t have any plans save for 1) surviving the holidays and 2) catching up on a backlog of fanfic reading. With the first one out of the way, I intend to start on the second, with a bit of writing of my own thrown in for good measure.

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Barcelona, Spain, Nov. 2016

Theme Team in Barcelona's Park Guell. Photo by Tammie Lister.

Theme Team in Barcelona’s Park Guell. Photo by Tammie Lister.

The day after the U.S. election, I flew to Barcelona for a team meetup. It was a bittersweet trip; on one hand, I was happy to have the distraction of travel, for the opportunity to escape to a foreign city and immerse myself in something that wasn’t U.S. politics.

On the other, I wanted to be with my family. I wanted to go home, curl up under a blanket and hide.

The election results were a frequent topic of conversation throughout the meetup, but we didn’t let it completely overshadow our fun. Besides, the trip itself threw its own interesting obstacles our way; lost (then found) wallets, viruses, a stolen laptop bag, and only one fluent Spanish speaker in the group, which made for some unique exchanges.

It wasn’t an easy trip, but as always, the people and the city made it worthwhile. Until next time, Theam!

Theme Team bringing the drama.

Theme Team bringing the drama. Photo by Tammie Lister.

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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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Christmas 2015

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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 Jer贸nimos 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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