The Hanoi WordPress Meetup Group will hold its first meetup tomorrow evening. I’m excited, to say the least, mostly because it’s finally happening six months after the group was established and there are people in Hanoi who care about and use WordPress.
If you’re available tomorrow at 7:00 PM, then come out to AiM Cafe on 102 Linh Lang and let’s talk about WordPress. And if you haven’t joined the group and want to be more involved with the WordPress community in Hanoi, hop on over to our group page and join.
See you tomorrow!
2012 has been declared the Year of the WordPress Meetup.
So what is a WordPress Meetup? Basically, it’s people in a community getting together — meeting up — who share an interest in WordPress, whether they be bloggers, business users, developers, consultants, or any other category of person able to say, “I use WordPress in some way and I like it, and I want to meet other people who can say the same.” (Jane Wells)
There’s no better time than now, then, to begin participating in what I hope will this year become a healthy and active Hanoi WordPress Meetup Group. The aim of the group is simple: to find and connect WordPress enthusiasts who either live in Hanoi or may be passing through for a visit.
Any WordPresser—blogger, designer, or developer—is welcomed. The ultimate goal is to create and foster a network, big or small, in which we as WordPress lovers will thrive and grow together. In short, if you live in or will visit Hanoi and you’re a user of WordPress—beginner, intermediate, or advanced—then this group is for you.
On signup to the Hanoi WordPress Meetup Group you will be asked four important questions:
- How long have you been using WordPress?
- Are you primarily a WordPress user, developer, or designer?
- What would you like to learn about WordPress?
- What would you like to teach others about WordPress?
These questions do not take long at all to answer but they will greatly help us all figure out suitable topics of discussion for meetups, which I envision taking place once a month. Because the group will be small at its outset—I’ll consider a 6-person first meetup a massive success— finding venues for meetups around the city will be quite easy. As the group grows and becomes more stable, we’ll work on finding a more constant space for meetups within Hanoi.
We’ll decide on topics of discussion later, although I imagine a first meetup being mostly introductory. Less important is what we discuss at first than just getting to know each other and creating a network in Hanoi, which up until now has been largely nonexistent.
I’m excited about this and would like to begin meeting up as early as March. If you live in Hanoi (or will be in town) and use WordPress, then join the group!
This is the reason I was in New York City from January 22nd to February 2nd. The Theme Team, *ahem* Theam, met for several days to talk about what’s good, what’s not good, and what’s next for themes on WordPress.com.
I won’t lie. I hated the weather in New York. I was miserable, absolutely miserable for days to the point that I decided to stay indoors while my co-Wranglers went out for dinners and such. The smart thing to do would have been to pack a huge jacket, but I have never lived in a place as cold as New York City and really had no idea gloves and a hoodie wouldn’t be enough. Lesson painfully learned.
On the professional front, though, I came away from the meetup feeling extremely confident in my team leader Lance Willet‘s ability to keep our ship on course, pleased to have spent some downtime and work time with Matt, and excited about what we have in store for 2012.
A couple of other Automatticians also visited. Sheri, who I just so admire and adore, posted photos of our meetup on her blog. She spent some time with us, as well as Erica, who I was especially happy to see in New York City because we didn’t have so much time to get to know each other in Budapest last year.
At some point later this week I will update my galleries with photos from both Europe and New York City. As annoying as it may seem for me to always have my phone on me, snapping away at random moments (and food), the nostalgia that comes from looking back on the last several months of my professional life are all worth it in the end.
Working at Automattic comes not without its fair level of stress—some of it self-induced, I must admit—so to have these positive professional artifacts really do help me when I go through asking myself if what I’m doing with my life feels right.
Right now it absolutely does.
One of the perks of currently being in the United States for Automattic-related travel is that I am able to take advantage of having things easily shipped to me (import taxes in Vietnam can be quite steep).
My coworker MT, whose work and overall swagger I both greatly admire, sent the following business cards to New York City for me this week.
2011 came and went, and some important events happened along the way…
- My best friend Thien returned to Vietnam for the first time ever to visit me. (December 27th, 2010—January 17th)
- My lovely grandmother visited me in Vietnam again, this time in Hanoi, for an entire month. (March 14th—April 13th)
- I visited Bangkok, Thailand, for the first time ever in order to spend time with my best friend Jesse. (May 9th—May 12th)
- I attended my first ever WordCamp San Francisco with Graph Paper Press (August 12th—August 14th)
- The trip to WordCamp changed my professional life. I left Graph Paper Press in September and began working as a trial employee for Automattic during August. I joined Automattic as a full-time employee in October, visiting Budapest (and Europe) for the first time ever.
- I moved into a new apartment and signed a 2-year lease on it, which means that unless things drastically change for me, I will be in Hanoi until 2014. (December 19th)
With all the travel I did this year I could have made the above list longer, but the aforementioned moments are what really stood out to me during 2011. I made a promise to myself a year ago to get things professionally in order, and I’ve done that. Working at Automattic has not been without its challenges, but the rewards of joining the company have been innumerable. My team lead and coworkers are brilliant people.
During Twenty Twelve I will focus heavily on my personal life and spend less time on the road. Outside of work-related travel I don’t see myself moving around a lot. I will stay in Hanoi, exercise, cultivate more friendships and strengthen my romantic relationship(s), and enjoy living in one of the most amazing cities in the world.
I’ve reached the point in my life where moving around or doing things just to say that I’ve done them is getting old. There’s a lot to be said about settling down, finding a girlfriend, getting married, having children, and doing the things you’re supposed to do when you grow up. I haven’t needed any of it because I’ve been so intensely head-down in work the last several years, but it’s time for me to pay closer attention to my personal needs.
I sound like an old man. I happily welcome early nights, hot tea, and a more relaxed lifestyle during the next year.
I can’t remember the last time I woke up feeling entirely well. Nothing that ails me is serious enough to call for major medical intervention, but persistent stomach pain, super tight muscles, and strong anxiety have been a part of my day-to-day life for many years.
Mostly I’ve learned to deal with it as it comes, but now and then internal pain or social avoidance will require me to pay closer attention to my body.
A few days ago I visited Hong Ngoc Hospital on the strength of its online recommendations. After speaking with my doctor for 30 minutes I was ordered in the following day for a battery of tests, including, but not limited to:
- Blood Pressure
- Chest X-Ray
So many tests were performed on me over the course of 5 hours that at this point it all seems like a blur. I was not allowed to eat the night before my endoscopy, so when blood was taken from me I fainted a few times. Imagine the shock on the faces of Vietnamese nurses who thought they would have to hoist me up after falling.
In retrospect it was hilarious.
My tests came back with the following bad results: I have IBS and my cholesterol is a bit high. Anxiety is also ruining my quality of sleep. Nothing drastically terrible and nothing that I can’t change, or at least begin to, over the next few months.
What stood out to me about my experience at Hong Ngoc were a few things: the cost, medical record access policies, the number of people at the hospital, and the overall pace of the hospital.
In total I paid 5,500,000 VND for my doctor’s consultation, medical procedures, and two weeks’ worth of pills for IBS and sleeping. Everything was paid in advance, in cash, without insurance. That’s approximately $275 USD for what would have in the United States easily cost me above $4000 without insurance.
The quality of care was excellent and I have absolutely no complaints about the attention I was given. I don’t know that I would ever elect for very serious surgical procedures or mental therapy in Vietnam, but for everything else, including vision and dental, I am more than happy with what I received for what I paid.
Any record that the hospital has on me I own. My doctor looked at me strangely when I asked her if I was allowed to keep all of the scans and records that Hong Ngoc had compiled on me throughout the day. I can’t remember a time I have ever been able to easily request medical charts or records on the spot in the United States. That’s appalling.
Hong Ngoc was a madhouse, to put it gently. 99% of the patients at the hospital were Vietnamese and they seemed not at all bothered by the number of people there or the frenetic pace of everything. The room in which we gave our blood for testing was set up like an assembly line and everything was done so quickly.
Sit down, give blood, faint, give blood again, faint again, move on to X-Ray, be whisked away into a room for liver testing, be hurried onto a table for an ECG, hurry Philip, stand up, it’s time for your endoscopy, take this cocktail, lay down on a bed, be hooked to an IV, be given drugs that knock me out for 30 minutes, wake up from the dead, feel a slight stomach pain, endoscopy is all done, sit here so you don’t faint again, how old are you?, you married?, want to go for coffee some time?, do you like this nurse?, you are too stressed you need to relax, here are some pills, call me for coffee or tea some time when you’re free. Don’t forget to exercise. Bye.
I’ll be fine but I will need to retire my license as a chocoholic moving forward. Depressing, but not the end of the world. Things could be worse.