WebOps Wednesday AMA: Elda Schaffield

Hi, I’m Elda Schaffield, a software engineer, full-stack developer, and manager working at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

I’m originally from Cuba, where I studied math & computer engineering, and I learned the art of problem solving. One day, while looking at the beautiful blue sky, I made the decision to move to another country. Mexico was my next destination, an incredible place with rich cultural traditions, super yummy food, hard working people, and tons of colorful stuff. I finished the computer engineering degree in Mexico City which later on allowed me to land my first job as a software engineer in the United States, writing software for routers at Ericsson. Independently, I learned about web development using content management systems, while creating sites for several local non-profit organizations. My next job was all about Drupal and here we are, connected through Pantheon, and sharing our journeys. Each country provided a new experience, a new opportunity to learn, and new challenges.

Now comes the fun part:

  • when I ask for butter but they bring me water instead
  • when I first arrived in the US and tried to pronounce “Gurvesh” but I ended up calling my coworker “garbage”… and that was how I learned English, with engineers from India
  • when working as a volunteer in an archeological project in Peru, looking for Sican period ovens, I ended uncovering an altar with offerings next to a cemetery
  • when I visited an active volcano in the island of Vanuatu and I learned about the John Frum movement

Ask me anything about my African Gray parrot or Burning Man or simply share something fun about yourself!


Hi Elda! :wave:

Thanks so much for sharing! UCSB, what a beautiful campus! How long have you been working in Higher Ed?

When I first arrived in the US and tried to pronounce “Gurvesh” but I ended up calling my coworker “garbage”… and that was how I learned English.

:point_up: Okay this quite funny! I have a similar story to share :joy: My brother in laws family is from Aruba where they speak Papiamento., which contains elements of 5 languages: Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, and Dutch. As someone who only speaks English fluently I had a hard time with pronunciation. Let’s just say, I attempted to say “thank you” but ended up saying something profane instead :dotted_line_face: I get to see his family often which is awesome, so over the years I have learned bits + pieces! But they never let me live this one down!

I have been dying to visit Cuba! I will need to make sure I reach back out when I start planning, so you can give me all of the best local spots!

Since we are sharing fun/embarrassing fun facts here is one for you:

I once ate a 10 year old Pringle :joy: It was horrifying! My mom used to get free food from local shelters when living in her 55+ community. She told me she wasn’t sure if they were good anymore, and well, I didn’t listen of course. I just responded “Mom, Pringles has had the same branding forever --it’s fine!” Whelp, I should have listened! Lesson learned - ALWAYS listen to your parents!

Okay one last thing! Can you share a photo of your parrot?! :star_struck:

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Hi McKenna,

Thank you for sharing your fun stories, they never forget for sure! it reminds me of my first word in English: ship - of course, something else was said instead of :ship:. It has to do with us unable to pronounce two consonants together :grinning:

Happy to share pics of my African gray, a 21 years old girl with a boy’s name. Healthy :parrot: :parrot: live an average of 50+ years.

I would love to heard about others fun stories including sharing pics, thank you.

Ops, forgot to answer the main question => Working in Higher Ed for 10+ years and planning on many more.

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Hi, @emscha! It’s so lovely having you in our Forum this week. Thanks for leading the AMA session!

I’m not sure if you’ve shared this before, but what is your parrot’s name? She’s gorgeous by the way! :heart_eyes: Finn (my pet Corgi) says hi!

And I’d love to know - what’s your favorite city to date and why (it can be somewhere you lived in or visited)? And I would love to visit Mexico City - my friend lived there for a few years and loved it. I’ve only been to Mexico once (for a vacation with my cousin and was mainly in Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen). And lol, when I was there, it was during seaweed season, so the water wasn’t as clear, and there was seaweed everywhere on the beach… it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting (especially after getting there after a 30+ minute bike ride from the Airbnb), but still pretty, and nevertheless, the FOOD WAS AMAZING. I had some amazing tacos there!


First things first: Finn is such as a cute doggo, awww! I greatly enjoy looking at them, it makes me happy.
Paco is a girl (Paquita), super sweet, she can chew your finger very hard - “if looks could bite” - checkout the second pic from previous post.

Hi @vee.vopham, thank you for leading the forum and the opportunity to share some stories. We can always post “geeky” stuff in Slack, while collaborating, so having this forum to chat about anything, even the “geeky” thingies, it is a great idea.

Favorite city to live? difficult question. I tried to enjoy the best of each country by doing things that I loved, no matter the challenges or limitations of the country. It would take me a long post about it but let me mention some.

In Habana, Cuba, I loved the beautiful blue sky, the pretty and warm water beaches, sharing with family and friends, and the limited cultural events.

In Mexico city, it was a major change living with a lot of pollution, the huge social classes differences, but you were also exposed to a very rich culture, incredible food, polite people and it taught you about working hard. Traveling through Mexico it is also full of incredible experiences, every city is very unique, and then there are the beaches. I particularly remember liking Huatulco Bay beaches, and Tulum, even if the latest one was full of tourists. Visiting the pyramids and archaeological sites to understand the Mexican culture is highly recommended.

In Santa Barbara, California, I love the beautiful blue sky, the ocean with the whales :whale:, dolphins :dolphin:, and pelicans, although the water is freezing cold but hey, people love surfing here. Surrounded by mountains :mountain: and the usual :fire: threat, people is friendly, an outdoors place. I wish there were more cultural events but we can’t have it all.

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OH MY GOSH I am obsessed with your baby!! So adorable :heart_eyes: My esthetician also had a parrot who would also whistle at me and blow kisses :joy: She said he only did that if he liked you + picked up on good energy. I felt really lucky! They are really interesting pets!

Speaking of pets, I have a 3 year old pittie named Chubs (alsooooo a girl with a more masculine name). I had her when she was just 2 days old, weighing a whopping 2.8kg so not even a 1lb! Here are some photos :slight_smile:

This is her the first night I picked her + her sisters up!

This is here at about 4 weeks, when their eyes start to open! She is on the left :slight_smile: With her sister Winnie on the right.

And of course, a photo of her today! Although she recently have TPLO surgery so she is not as happy as this photo :see_no_evil:

And yay for Higher Ed! So rewarding! I am curious, is there anything else we could do to improve your experience in our community and/or on the Pantheon platform? Especially since you are in the Higher Ed space. I am always all ears!


FINNNNNNNNN! :heart_eyes: I love that little dude! I cannot wait to meet him someday @vee.vopham!

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Hi Elda!

Another language-lover here who has made so many mistakes in other languages, ha ha ha! Thanks for sharing your stories.

Speaking of “butter”, I remember an embarrassing conversation in a cafeteria in a French train station years ago. I mispronounced my request for “beurre” so badly the clerk thought I was asking for directions to the bathroom. :blush: I never did get any butter.

I was fascinated by your story about the archaeological dig; were you looking for ovens for pottery? I love making pottery, and I’ve seen some Peruvian black pottery (is that Sican period?) in museums; it is so beautiful. Did you ever come across any pottery pieces in your dig? I would love to go on a dig some day.


@McKennaR my turn: OH MY GOSHHHHH!!! super cute pics of the babies. Chubs looks super healthy and strong, so beautiful. I would love to have a dog but with the bird(s) that would be too many pets. Yes, I do have a green cheek conure too.

We are very happy with Pantheon services and the WebOps workflow. Everything is working fine, no complaints, except for some challenges with autopilot. Most of the UC campuses are already using Drupal, plans hosted in Pantheon, but some still remains on Acquia. Those still using Drupal 7 are facing more challenges when trying to migrate to D9, but after the big news about D7 EOL extended until 2023, they are probably more relaxed.

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Thank you! And awww, love the name Paco. Super cute! And wow. Thanks for sharing what you loved about the different places you’ve lived in… I’ll definitely need to visit Havana, Mexico City, and Santa Barbara (haven’t been to any of these three cities!!).

Ahhhh @McKennaR, love these pics!!! I haven’t seen Chubs as a pup, so these are adorable.

Also, +1 McKenna’s question. @emscha, we’re currently in the midst of revamping our community spaces (Slack + Forum), so if you have any questions/thoughts for how we can improve your community experience on either platform, let us know. More specifically, what could we do to encourage you to visit our community spaces more often (e.g., host more programs like this)/how could we make your experience as a member of our community easier/more seamless? Any advice/tips are appreciated!!

Thank you sooo much! Currently she is not so healthy – she is recovering from TPLO (ACL surgery). And let me tell you, she is not a happy camper! But day by day right? :clap:

And awww you have another bird! :heart_eyes: Okay, now I must see! Also, I am not sure if you are on Instagram but I follow the cutest account! This girl has 2 blue nose pitties + a bird. And they are all best friends! The bird always cuddles with them during nap time + they run around in the yard and play. It is seriously my favorite thing ever!!

In other news, I am so happy to hear you are happy with Pantheon! :heart: I am curious – are you comfortable sharing those Autopilot challenges with me or someone on the Autopilot team? We would love to hear how we can improve that for you! I can imagine the D7-D9 migration is causing pain points for web teams. Thats a big project in itself! But it’s also great to know Pantheon is continuing to offer support for our customers who need additional time to prep for this big shift.

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@vee.vopham personally, I would prefer using a single space, for example: Slack vs Community forums.

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@McKennaR I don’t use much social media but I greatly enjoy watching cats/dogs/birds videos at any time.

About Autopilot, I opened some feature requests tickets in the past and also suggested some improvements. We can meet to review in detail if you would like more feedback.

Here are some pics of Mystique, a green cheek conure. Mystique is blind on one eye and has some heart issues, but she is a very sweet :parrot: bird. I adopted her from a lady who was asked to choose: her boyfriend or her bird. Hopefully she did not regretted her choice later on :grinning:

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Hi @carolyn, your story it is also very funny, at least I got something in return.

What are the odds of finding someone in this forum who knows about Sican medium period black pottery, wow! yes, it was a 2 months old project in Chiclayo, to the north of Peru. We did found the ovens where they made the black ceramic. The last week, we also uncovered an altar with offerings, next to it there were the remains of a women and a child. To the other side of the altar, there was a cemetery, but since that was not part of the project, we left it undisturbed. I’m not superstitious or religious but when we uncovered the remains, part of the dirt felt back covering the bones. We did cleanup the bodies again, and one more time, the mound dirt felt on top of the remains. The local workers helping with the excavation were afraid and somehow you kind of wonder if the rests did not wanted to be uncovered. Like a scene from a movie.

Another interesting story about the project: when we used to scout for mounds to excavate, we went around the area asking locals about any sightseeing of mounds. The men would send the wives to talk to us while they hid. Since I was the only Spanish speaking person of the group, they would sent me first to speak to them. Glad they were friendly. How did you got interested on pottery? as per your main question, we did found the molds they used to make the pottery and broken pieces of huacos.

Another archaeological project was in Belize, this one was about the Mayan culture. We found a lot of broken fine pottery, like tea cups, next to the water. Apparently, pirates used to bring those to the coast, almost like having a tea party.

It is always fascinating uncovering artifacts and structures that are over 1000 years old, and learning about ancient cultures and civilizations.

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Duly noted! I assume you prefer using Slack then? Could you elaborate on why? We’ve been getting this a lot too and do realize that a lot of people have a preferred community space, Slack or the Forum, so we’re just trying to make both as valuable as possible.

Also, this is insane!!! Can’t believe she had to choose…but I’m happy she found a new loving home with you! :heartpulse:

Awww what an adorable baby!! I am just going to throw it out there — I would choose my dog any day over my partner :see_no_evil: :hear_no_evil:

In regards to Autopilot, feedback is also wanted + valuable! If you still have some feedback to share, I am happy to connect you with someone here internally who is owning that product :slight_smile: Thanks for being so awesome Elda!

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