Blog

Posts by Jeff Geerling about life, marriage, religion, philosophy and technology. Formerly titled 'Matthew 12:37 - Blog by a God-fearing Man'.

Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden

The Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden is in it's second year, and it seems to already be a 'thing to do' in St. Louis over the wintry holiday season.

Missouri Botanical Garden - Garden Glow Ornament
Nikon D7000, 17-55mm @ 55mm, ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/60

I'd rank it almost equal to the great light displays at Our Lady of Snows Shrine, Tilles Park, and the St. Louis Zoo. Along a large portion of the Garden's paths, various light displays take you around some of this historic sites and buildings inside the Garden, and while parts are a bit 'touristy' feeling, the event is nice if the weather cooperates.

I highly recommend going if the temperature is above freezing (unlike last year, when it was like 10°F below!).

#vBrownBag DevOps presentation - Oct 29 [Updated]

In the middle of preparations for next month's Souls & Goals soccer match, I've also been very busy with Ansible-related activities.

I'm still making progress in writing Ansible for DevOps (over 45,000 words, and over 900 people have already bought the book on LeanPub!), and I've been invited by the folks at Professional VMWare to present in their #vBrownBag DevOps Series! I'll be talking about Ansible for an hour or so, and I'll be sure to post the link to the presentation after it's over.

You can join the presentation live (starts at 7:30 p.m. CST tonight, October 29) by registering at http://professionalvmware.com/brownbags/.

Update: You can now view the presentation and slides on ProfessionalVMWare.com: #vBrownBag DevOps Follow-Up Learning Ansible with Jeff Geerling (@geerlingguy).

Souls and Goals - 2014 Soccer Game

Update: Photographs from the game were posted online by one of the game's photographers: 2014 - Souls and Goals.

Souls and Goals - Jeff Geerling Kevin Schroeder Goal
Yours truly, sitting down on the job. Image from the St. Louis Review.

It's almost time again for what is now an annual tradition—the 'Souls and Goals' soccer match in St. Louis, where the seminary soccer team will play against a team of 'clergy and company'; last year's match was a close game until late in the second half, when the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary Lions took a 2-0 lead and with it, the cup.

The game will be held at St. Dominic High School on Thursday, November 6, with Evening Prayer at 6 p.m. and the game starting at 7 p.m. The game is free to anyone, and concessions will be available. For more info, check out Souls and Goals.org.

I'll be playing in goal again this year (as part of the 'and Company' on the Clergy side), wearing my Vatican-yellow jersey! Someday those priests will get a new goalie... but until that time I'm happy to get a little extra exercise and block some shots!

Kenrick Plaza Walmart Redevelopment - October 2014

As a resident of the City of Shrewsbury for the past 10 years, and someone who lives within walking distance of the old Kenrick Plaza development that was basically in ruins until it was torn down this year, I've taken a keen interest in the Walmart-anchored redevelopment that is being financed through TIF.

Kenrick Plaza Redevelopment - Walmart in Shrewsbury

For those who don't know, here's a brief rundown of the situation: the old Kenrick Plaza strip mall had been in decline since the early 2000s (and likely earlier), and was anchored by an antique mall, a sports bar, and some transient stores, as well as a freestanding First Bank building. Other than that, an abandoned and decrepit Burger King, and a decaying movie theater building (which was in pretty bad shape even before it closed in 2004) rounded out the ugly buildings surrounding the KDNL 30 TV tower. The strip mall stood in stark contrast to the well-manicured residential development behind it, and residents of the small town of Shrewsbury were not happy seeing a large portion of their commercial real estate rotting, generating no tax revenues, and generally being an eyesore along Watson Rd. (Route 66).

Between 2010-2011, work began to find a developer to rebuild Kenrick Plaza (after the majority of the development was vacant, and the movie theater was becoming an active health hazard), and the city council and TIF commission were both working hard—and getting lots of feedback—to work out TIF details, development details, and timelines.

When Walmart was announced as the primary tenant, a large number of people started focusing more on the 'Walmart' issue rather than the redevelopment as a whole. I don't blame them, but when you get distracted by Walmart's morality, you start to lose sight of things like how the city is financing the development, how it affects other communities around Shrewsbury, traffic considerations, etc... and you're easily dismissed as someone who doesn't want to see the redevelopment (even if you do!).

There is a ton of information available on the City of Shrewsbury website, but it's quite a bit to parse through, so I hopefully summarized the important parts above...

Anyways, here are some notes on the current state of the redevelopment of Kenrick Plaza:

  • The old buildings are completely gone, the ground has been excavated and backfilled to the point where the 'pad' (basically, the leveled ground and support structures) for Walmart is complete. The old First Bank out building is about to be demolished; it's the last building of 'upper Kenrick Plaza' to remain standing.
  • First Bank's new building (which is tiny in comparison to the old building, but no longer includes office space for lease above the main bank) is open for business, though you have to drive through a semi-active construction zone to get to it.
  • It was rumored a movie theater would be one of the new tenants of one of the out lots; this is unsubstantiated; there may have been talks, but nothing was signed, and honestly, the old Kenrick movie theater wasn't such a hot destination in its final years. Additionally, there were concerns that a movie theater wouldn't be support the tax revenue necessary to pay off the TIF. The only confirmed tenants are Walmart and First Bank.
  • Walmart has not yet started construction, and apparently they don't have to until they want to. Usually, they open stores either during the back-to-school or Christmas shopping season, so I would guess the store will be built and opened no earlier than mid-to-late next year.
  • The lower Kenrick property is not part of the redevelopment, and though it is for sale, it is likely going to remain in it's current (shoddy) state for some time. There are only a few tenants, and the parking lot and building look to be in pretty bad shape.
  • There will be no pedestrian access from Shrewsbury and/or the residential developments along Trianon or Kenrick Manor. If you want to walk or ride a bike, you'll have to go around the lower Kenrick parking lot or approach from Watson Rd.
  • The egress from lower Kenrick to Trianon will remain, so for the few people that still feel the stop-go-stop-go-break-your-suspension cut-through from Laclede Station Rd. to Watson is worth the 1-2 minute drive time savings, they will still be able to cut through.

Those are all the things I can recall hearing from confirmed sources and/or observing directly while driving through the redevelopment. There's a massive, monolithic retaining wall along the creek area, but other than that, the rest of the development is already shaping up to look decent, even before landscaping and lighting treatments!

Anything I miss? Any other questions you have? Let me know!

Basement Home Office Build

Sorry for the radio silence over the past couple months—I've been quite busy! In addition to finishing up my responsibilities at my old job (I'm going to start my new job at Acquia in just a week!), I've had a bunch of crazy, fun, and interesting things happen lately:

  • My new baby girl was born a little over a week ago—and that makes two... a 20-month old and a 1.5-week old.
  • Said 20-month old boy grew up in the two days we went to the hospital for the birth of our little girl. When did he get so big?!
  • I made a little progress on my book, Ansible for DevOps, and the book is inching towards 1,000 readers pre-publication... which boggles my mind!
  • I built a home office and am getting prepared for another stint of working remote from the home (or wherever else is convenient and conducive to great work!).

Doorway - Basement Home Office Framing
Completed framing for the new office. My spirits were soaring, but drywalling would soon take its toll and teach me that some things are best left to the pros. See full album of images »

The home office build took a little over a month (for the major construction portion—I'll be rearranging for weeks!), and was an awesome experience. I took a ton of pictures and made many, many notes in an album I posted to Imgur, and discussed in a thread on Reddit that blew up with over 2,000 upvotes!

I just wanted to mention the home office on my blog, since from time to time I take the chance to share some of the things I learn about building things, and I always like hearing from others ways I could've changed the process, tools, or final product to make it better. Since I'll likely be doing some more work in the basement in the next 20-40 years, I tried to learn as many lessons as I could from this first 12' x 12' project. Like "never ever ever finish drywall again."

The new baby has made life a little hectic, especially with a toddler, but I've heard going from 1 to 2 kids is the hardest—after that they start getting easier. I hope!

A New Job (2014 edition)

In 2008, I started working for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, my first job where I ended up working on Drupal sites practically full-time (my first Drupal experience was on 4.x in 2005). I also started Midwestern Mac, LLC in 2008, and from that time to now have built two SaaS services (Hosted Apache Solr and Server Check.in), and over 100 other Drupal 6 and Drupal 7 sites, along with a few mobile apps and a Mac app (Quick Resizer).

In 2011, I moved on to Flocknote, and learned a lot building a Drupal-based communications platform used by more than half a million people. This was also a full-time remote job, and I worked with a small but very strong team from Texas, Missouri, Florida, and Tennessee.

In 2013, I went to Mercy and worked on a major intranet migration (Drupal 6 to Drupal 7) and Mercy.net, the hospital system's patient-facing site, which runs on Drupal 7.

I am proud to have worked with all the individuals and companies these past few years, and am indebted to all of them for the support and professional development they've offered—each in a unique way. Throughout my work, I have had the good fortune to be able to learn other languages, tools, and techniques, even to the point of writing a book on Ansible! I have also become a husband and father, and been able to do some great things in my Church, my community, and the Drupal community.

Acquia Logo

This year, I'm moving to Acquia! Acquia is one of the largest Drupal service providers, and I'll be working in the Professional Services group as a Technical Architect. In this new role, I'll be able to help even more organizations do amazing things with Drupal. I've only been to Acquia's Boston HQ once, but I already feel like a part of the team, as I've been in numerous Hangouts and chats (I'll be working remotely from St. Louis—new home-office-building project, yay!).

To all my co-workers at Mercy: thanks for the great time and fun projects we've worked on together. Keep fighting for the users! To my new co-workers at Acquia: I'm excited to join you guys, and look forward to seeing you starting October 6!

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