7 years @ Mozilla

A little more than 7 years ago today, I was at a park in Aliso Viejo with my then 2-year old son when @dan_portillo called. Mozilla was looking for a Network Engineer.

A little more than 7 years ago today I was interviewing in Mountain View. I carried a cell phone that could only make phone calls.

7 years ago today I walked into Mozilla’s Landings office and configured my own Thinkpad laptop by myself (we didn’t have Desktop Support).  

Two weeks later Mozilla’s company-wide All Hands fit in the back of Tied House. Two months later I moved my wife and two babies from Orange County to Northern California.

Along the way I bought a house and called this home.

7 years.

7 Years of Change

I’ve gone through 3 CEOs & 3 bosses. My team’s grown from 3 to 80. I manage an IT Operations team. I’m learning how to lead, how to lean into my strengths.

I’ve learned to delegate, to trust, to let go. And I’ve been surprised and impressed at every step by the caliber of people who chose to surround me.

I now have co-workers friends whose first names I don’t know and who I’ve only met in person less than a handful of times.

Before Mozilla I had only traveled internationally once. For my honeymoon.

I’ve been to Argentina (pictures) & China twice. Stepped foot in Peru. Been to Whistler twice. I’ve seen a bear eat out of a trash can and stood on top of a mountain in July. While it snowed.

I’ve been to Berlin, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Vancouver. Lost count how many times I’ve been to Toronto, to London, to Paris

I traveled to Nice and stayed with a fellow Mozillian. Half my twitter stream is in Spanish. My arguably best friend lives 8500 miles away.

Along the way I lost my passport.

7 years ago my first smartphone was a Palm Treo running Windows. I now carry three phones & a tablet and saw the future I want last year as Mozilla shifted to Firefox OS. I have — and want — the web in my pocket.

7 Years of Personal Change

My 9 month old daughter is now 7 (or 13, it’s really hard to tell). My son knows how to find my name in about:credits.

I’m deeply focused on being an advocate for Mozilla Webmakers. I care about eliminating the opportunity gap through Year Up. I’ve learned that a mission with purpose means more than profit.

7 years ago I was a shy introvert. I still am but you probably wouldn’t know it.  7 years ago I was a Windows user.

I’ve become a San Francisco Giants fan & saw my team win the World Series. Twice.

In the past 7 years I’ve made friends

Along the way I learned that without music life would be a waste

Celebrating 7 Years

I don’t want any gold watch.

I want to do the same thing I’ve done every day for the past 7 years. I’m going to go to work.  

I’m going to go and work with people who make Mozilla not just a job, who have made this my home for 7 years, and who are as passionate about Mozilla & the Open Web as I am.

barcelona. friends.

Last night in Barcelona and I find myself in El Argentino listening to a single saxophone, my second most favorite instrument after Spanish guitar.

Quite a spectacular way to end. It bookmarks two of the most amazing things I’ve ever done with Mozilla ~ one in Buenos Aires and one in Barcelona.  And magically I’ve been to both cities twice and each trip opened my eyes to new ways.

Feels fitting to sit in this restaurant. In this town.

This trip was unique for a number of reasons but it was the friendships that grew that mattered most to me.

I just re-read a text message I sent to someone before I left.

Would love nothing more than to hang out and get to know you better.

Friendship is an odd thing to me.  Perhaps it’s just something I reflect on more as I approach my 40th birthday. 

With the exception of the small circle of college friends whom I still keep in occasional contact with, most of the friends I’ve had in life disappear as life changes, as jobs change.

I want a change.  I spend an inordinate amount of time with friends I work with, the ones who make my job a fun place to go to everyday.  It is these people who I want to keep as friends outside of work.

On this trip I changed how I related to them.  It wasn’t really hard.  They probably don’t know it but I really like them.  They fascinate me, they interest me.  Each has differing shared experiences with me that no one else can relate to.  I moved outside my comfort zone.  I let them know I cared about each one.

Sometimes that meant waiting behind to escort a friend home.  Sometimes it meant skipping on plan A so a friend wouldn’t be left alone.

And then this thing happened.  New bonds were formed, barriers removed.  It felt entirely right to share meals with each other, to order a couple dishes and simply share (tapas certainly helps that but it was more than the style of food.). Felt good.

You saved a seat for me when I was running late.  I wanted to wait for you when you were running late.  You waited for me, you included me. You shared with me, I shared with you.  We explored together.

Is this what friendship is? 

To each of you who made my trip something I couldn’t have imagined otherwise, I love you all. Thank You.

i think

[This is a little old, probably written sometime in 1993.]


I think of the stars in the sky
   how lonely they must be,
   so far apart from each other.

I think of a candle without a flame,
   missing that which makes it whole.

I think of the winter trees with their leaves all gone,
  how sad they must feel.

I think about the tumbleweed,
  blowing across the open land.
  Lost, wandering about, not knowing where to go.

And then I think about you
  and suddenly,

        the stars aren’t so lonely,
        the trees aren’t so sad,
        the candle shines brightly,
        and the tumbleweed…
        the tumbleweed isn’t so lost.

one planet. one people.

I wound up taking most of the day off from work yesterday to drive 200 miles to help a Friend.  It was a long and exhausting day.  This is a person who ten months ago I didn’t even know, let alone care about.

But this isn’t a post on what I did.

It’s that I was struck by a number of people and things that came together to help my Friend.  A relatively large number of selfless people.  Enough that thinking about it makes my eyes water.  Enough that even writing this post causes me to choke up.

I was struck that amongst all those who I interacted with to help my Friend, not a single person did so with any expectations or desires of anything in return.  We helped, simply, because it is what you do.

  • There was the person at work who made sure I was going to drive my Friend.  She made it clear that that not helping would have been a personal disappointment.
  • There was the person who moved mountains in what felt like record time to make sure my Friend had certain resources.
  • There was my other friend who did me a favor to help my Friend, who pulled in his own circle to help.

Lastly, my children.  My children have meet my Friend exactly twice and once was last night.  Yet they exhibit all the passion and care for humankind a parent could only wish for.

  • There was my daughter who made it absolutely clear that I needed to make sure my Friend knew to call me whenever, should my Friend need help.  My seven year old daughter.
  • There was my son who checks in with me daily asking how my Friend is doing, who reminds me we have a spare room should my Friend need a place to stay. My nine year old son.

There is that adage that it takes a village to raise a child.  The truth in that felt real yesterday.  There was this sense all day that here we all are, many voices, one planet, one people.

39.

I turned 39 this past Sunday. 

My daughter and I share the same birthday (as does @selenagomez!). Over the years this has turned into a fun game of arguing over whose birthday it is.  And over these years my priorities of what I want on my birthday have changed.

  1. Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor.

    When I was younger I remember going here for my birthday.  All the pomp and circumstance! This place more or less disappeared.  When I saw they had re-opened a few in Southern California I knew what we were going on my LIZ’s birthday.

    I couldn’t have been happier when the band came out, drums and horns blaring and LIZ on her chair. She’s never seen anything like this. She had this crazy big smile on her face as she soaked up being the center of attention (for literally the entire restaurant).

    In that very instant I saw the young woman she will eventually become. Full of confidence and poise.

  2. My son took me to lunch.

    Those who know me know I enjoy a great culinary experience. I like tasting new foods. I love the presentation.

    When WNZ asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him I only wanted him to take me out for lunch (well all four of us). I figured I’d give him some cash and let him treat. The more we talked about it the more I could tell he was getting excited about doing it.

    He took me out to lunch at Opah Restaurant, a place my wife and I used to visit when we lived in the area. I kept trying to give him money but he’d have none of that.

    “Do you need some money?”

    “No Dad, I’ve got this.”

    And in that instant, I saw the young man that he will eventually become. Full of independence and pride.

I may not be a man with a lot of material wealth but nothing could have made me happier than those two things this weekend.

A Test

[This is a short story written in 1991 while at UIUC.  Lyric quotes are from some Enya song, name escapes me now.]


He stepped out into the cold, glad to be through and glad to be out.  The cold winter wind slapped him in the face as if scolding.  He hadn’t really bundled up too well – just wanted to leave.  He stood there now pulling together his jacket, fastening the zipper and throwing his bag over his shoulder.  Sure was cold tonight.

“Damn…” he though to himself.  “What the hell’s happening to me?”  The cold wind stopped and stood still and for a brief moment, there was silence around him.  He reached into his bag, felt around, and produced his walkman, perhaps the only thing he valued tonight.  “Got a long walk back.”

Pretty cold tonight.  Pretty dark too, and quiet, as if everyone knew and wanted to leave him alone.  Everyone else was probably still in there.  There were perhaps many going on tonight and many people were probably still finishing up.  He didn’t care – just glad to be out of there.  “No use in sitting around here any more.” he has said to himself as he had grabbed his bag to leave.

It was cold.  Cold and dark.  The wind had picked up.  He had felt alone before, but tonight he felt really alone – and sad.  He had never failed like this before.  “Fuck it – who gives a shit anyways?” he said out loud, breaking the stillness, as he flicked on his walkman.  As if to abuse him, a brief gust of wind blew by.  His ears stung.  He could imagine what they would say, and wanted only to block it out.  He shrugged.  “Life goes on.”  He shrugged again, as if to signify something important, and started back.  He shoved it back into his pocket.

Finding nothing interesting on the radio, he hesitantly freed his hand to brave the cold, and thumbed for the play button.  For the past five months, music had become his one place of refuge.  He could block out anything with the flick of a switch.  If only that worked in real life. ‘…Eurus…’  He still had a ways to go.

It was cold and reminded him of happier days; days gone by delivering papers.  How he was alone and could be himself.  How he would daydream of his other life (how he wished he was there instead of here), and for a short while, all would be okay.  How he would yearn for the house up next with the Christmas lights strung up, smiling at him.  He would pay them a little attention as he stopped to warm his hands in their glow.  ’…if every man is true…’

“How romantic a night!” he thought.  “How I wish I had someone special in my life.” A though which brought a tear to his eye.  Someone to take a walk with on a night like this.  Someone who would care because tonight he didn’t.  He’d never been in love before.  He rounded the corner and could see the lights ahead.

This wasn’t his life, was it?  He wished with all his heart that someone would come and take him away.  Away to the place he belonged.  But that was there.  ‘…etu itu ad astrum…’  He was here.  The wind stopped yet again, and there was the noise of passing cars and people talking.

How warm he felt as he pushed open the door to the builing and headed down the hall.  She saw him quickly, and started towards him.

“Your back early!”

“Yeah, it was a breeze.”

reconnecting

I’ve lived most of my life with very few friends.  Growing up most would say I was a shy introvert and while I did have childhood friends in school, outside of Facebook, I don’t really keep in touch with any of them now.  For whatever reasons, those friendships didn’t seem to stick.

My circle or friends is largely comprised of co-workers but co-workers who I know outside of work, who I talk to outside of work just because and who call/txt me for non-work reasons – just “because”. 

The one exception is a small group of friends I met while in college. 

As things turned out, my neighbors in my freshman year at college all went to the same high school and I got to know them and their circle of friends really well.  We’ve gone to each others graduations, weddings, and send holiday cards.  Time’s moved on and we’ve all drifted around the county but somewhere in the middle there the Internet happened and we’ve all kept in touch largely through emails. 

This is the group that knew the young me, the group that helped me through breakups and supported me when I decided to move to California.

We rarely see each other in person.  Tonight was special.  They are all in town for their 20th high school anniversary and I was able to make a trip out too and tonight we all got together as a small group. 

Amazing.

It’s a nice reminder of those who have shaped my own life.  Those who it takes just minutes to catch up with, nearly as if no time has passed since the last time you saw each other. 

It was also nice to laugh, to laugh like I haven’t laughed in a long time, about stupid things.  Stupid things we did in college or during the summers between college.  About things that have happened since college. 

We all have our own different lives now but it was truly a treat to spend a couple hours with my friends.

paris

(This post is pretty delayed.  Had hoped to post this shortly after I got back but life happened and here I am a month later.)

I just got back from a little more than a week in Paris. I went mostly for work but since I’ve never been to France and only to Europe three times before, I tried to mix in some personal time.

One of my former colleagues whom I admire often blogs to write down his own experiences. I think that’s a neat idea and I find myself taking random notes on my phone while traveling now.  This post is a result of those notes.

I’ve never been to New York City but I imagine it to be much like Paris. A city that seemingly doesn’t have a bed time. I never got a hang of the time shift from California and would often be awake at 2am. So was the street outside the office. And so were all the restaurants around the office. The energy at 2am was as electric as the energy at 4am.

Walking around the corner at 2am to grab a crepe did not seem out of the norm. Mostly, I got to see things I had only seen in Ratatouille.

Spent a lot of time in Mozilla’s Paris office upgrading some of the network equipment and trying to understand what it means to work remote from Mountain View.

The time shift off California was something else. I’m surprised anyone at Mozilla Paris (or Europe in general) is able to function with Mountain View. 9 hours made real time dialog really difficult and really emphasized the need to record various meetings for time-shifted viewing.

I took a train down to Nice and met Cedric, one of the localizers. Nice felt like Santa Barbara in a lot of ways but with warmer water.

And here’s where Buenos Aires left an indelible mark on me. After my trip to Buenos Aires, I picked up an interest in a number of groups, including Gotán Project. They were playing at Les Nuits du Sud in Vence, just outside of Nice.

This was one of my trip’s highlights, especially when they played Santa Maria. I emailed a friend right after the show and commented to her,

Gotán Project was better than I imagined live. Such a great show. I mean I’m in France standing in a town square listening to Spanish music sung by an amazing woman with half the crowd dancing Argentine Tango. Everything I like about classical Spanish guitar & electronic music.

The most interesting thing about this trip was the number of non-Paris based Mozilla folk that kept arriving in Paris.  The first week I was there David Ascher was in town.  The following week, the US-based Jetpack team was in town. 

Paris certainly ranks in the top handful of favorite cities but still has a bit of a way to go before it can oust San Francisco.

i lost my passport in hungary

I’m posting this in the hopes others who find themselves in this predicament will find this online and find it useful. I certainly found comfort in this guy’s tale.

I took a side trip to Hungary this past weekend and inadvertently lost my passport.

So now what?

This all happened on a Friday night. Thank God for a smart phone. And data roaming be damned. I quickly googled for the embassy in Budapest and called the emergency after hours number. After declaring myself an American citizen, my call was escalated to the oncall duty manager.

Here’s where definitions of emergency differ. I has a flight out of Budapest Sunday morning. This was a “blocker” for me. The US Embassy in Budapest is closed over the weekends (even for emergencies). Not an emergency to them.

The best the duty officer could offer me was to arrive Monday morning, identify myself as an American and I’d be escorted in to get a temporary passport.

I tweet’d looking for help. I crowd sourced getting help. You have no idea how helpful that alone was. (thanks everyone!) I had people sending me DMs and text messages and replies to my tweet. It felt good to know I had this network of people willing to help me.

Saturday I retraced my steps (no luck) and moved my return flight to the last possible one on Monday. It was mentally really hard to have any fun the rest of Saturday.

Sunday. Budapest is hot, hot like Yucatán hot. Budapest is also a very walkable city. However, because of the heat I spent most of of my time going from one free wifi coffee shop to another. I also scouted out my embassy.

Monday morning. Embassy opens at 9am. I’m up at 7a, dressed and fed and out by 7:45a. Way ahead of schedule. I got to the embassy at around 8:15a and told the guard I had lost my passport and showed him my California drivers license. He disappeared for a bit and then opened the gate for me. He told me to leave my bag with him, it’ll be easier to get in (made sense to me – I wanted as little drama as possible).

Currently, my most valuable possession.

Currently, my most valuable possession.

I had to empty my pockets and literally turn off my phone before going through the metal detector. The guard there put all my belongings except for my ID and money into a box.

I grabbed a ticket and waited a few minutes until hey called my number. I had to fill out a passport application & lost passport form, get passport photos ($5.41), pay $135 for a new passport and wait 20 minutes for them to print out my passport.

At least I had alternate ID. The gentleman behind me had nothing but a copy of his passport which didn’t seem to be of any use. I talked to him a bit. Same thing, lost his passport and everything else he had in his “pouch”. At least my stuff is all separate.

Total time in embassy, 1:19. Didn’t have the patience for the metro and took a taxi to the airport.

So basically a huge inconvenience. Meant having to change a number of flights around (not free). Meant staying longer than I had packed for or planned to in Budapest.

Also, screwed my work schedule. Also, expensive mistake.

Souvenier from Budapest.

Souvenier from Budapest.

So lesson learned. Don’t lose your passport. But if you do, lose it during the week and not the Friday before the weekend.

If you’ll indulge me,

Single points of failure suck. I can’t help thinking that this whole passport concept is a single point of failure. I lost it and was screwed. Never mind that I had a couple credit cards and a California drivers license with me -and- a color copy of my passport.

I also have a this biometric data that’s physically attached to my body and REALLY hard to lose. I felt like I had all these tools to conclusively prove who I am and some computer could verify I was okay to fly.

Back in Paris

I learned long ago that home is wherever my stuff is. My stuff – laptop, luggage – was in Paris. I’m back in Paris, still far from my home but I can’t tell you how much this feels like home!

behind my name.

This came up the other day and it occurred to me that not everyone knows why I call myself what I call myself.

  1. Why mrz?
    It’s not short for Mr. Z.Shortly after moving out to Mountain View in 1996, I worked at 3Com. I worked in the engineering division that, during the two years I worked there, went by names such as NSD and ESD. This was the division that made “brouters” and if memory serves, largely came from Bridge Communications. I started there as a Solaris syadmin and left as a network engineer (and didn’t really look back).

    Anyways, username convention was your first, middle and last initial. mrz stuck. Also, it’s half as long as my first initial and last name.

    (Bonus points if anyone knows my middle name without using Google.)

  2. Matt or matthew?
    In high school I worked at Dairy Queen. One of the highlights, of course, was taking home soft serve ice cream (“mistakes”). But that’s not what this is about.When I started, my name tag read:

    Welcome Matt

    It was at this point I decided I would only go by matthew – I am neither a doormat nor a welcome mat.

    Nowadays, I answer to both, but often correct to the preferred. Which you use tends to indicate how well you know me.

  3. But why matthew and not with a capital M?
    You’ll very rarely see me write my name, first or last, with any capitalization. This an artifact of my first email address (matthew@interaccess.com), which was in all lower case.That stuck. So did the fixed-width font. It’s weird, I know.
  4. One more thing…
    Since I already have you at 3 bullet points, here’s one extra bit of trivia.My first name comes from my great grandfather’s middle name and this first century Galilean. My middle name comes from my grandfather’s first.