Who am I?

I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

Currently Consuming
  • Ecclesiastical Pomp & Aristocratic Circumstance: A Thousand Years of Brocaded Tabletwoven Bands
    Ecclesiastical Pomp & Aristocratic Circumstance: A Thousand Years of Brocaded Tabletwoven Bands
    by Nancy Spies
  • How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time
    How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time
    by John J. Palmer

Paul Tevis


And Also

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

–Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

At the Agile Conference last week I recognized that I have a new speech pattern. I heard myself saying things like:

  • “I want to help the team, and also I want them to be independent.”
  • “That way of thinking about it doesn’t work for me, and also I’m curious to know more about it.”
  • “This conversation is not comfortable for me, and also I believe it’s important to have.”

I discovered that “and also” is my phrase for holding paradox unresolved. I found myself using it to connect two potentially contradictory statements and to affirm the truths within both of them. I used when I didn’t want to favor one statement over the other. I’ve talked before about avoiding the word “but”; this goes deeper than that. This is about not rushing to certainty, about being comfortable with the discomfort of ambiguity. This is about being willing to work through ideas in public, about more deeply collaborating by letting people look behind the curtain of my thinking process before things are fully formed. This is about letting go of “having the answers” or “being right” and instead being more aware of and honest about where I’m at. And this phrase helped clue me and others in to when I was doing that.

It’s an odd little thing, but there is.


More of the Same

A year ago I said that my resolutions for 2014 were to be:

  • Present
  • Deliberate
  • Patient
  • Grateful

These, as it turns out, were a good idea. Did I do them 100% of the time? Nope. Did I do them more often than I had in the past? Yep. Were things better when I did them? Absolutely. That seems like success to me.

I think I’ll do them again, only this time, even more so.


Brew All The Things!

Because brewing is patriotic (right?), this weekend I:

  • Bottled four batches of mead
  • Started a batch of strawberry wine
  • Experimented with a strawberry cordial
  • Made a case of hippocras (sweetened, spiced wine)
  • Began some cyser (fermented apple cider with honey)
  • Kicked off a saison (Belgian farmhouse beer)
  • Tested out an utterly bizarre 14th Century recipe for bochet (aka mead for sick people)

Now my concern is how I’m going to find room for all the bottles when this is done…


It's Not A Mess, But The Rest Seems Accurate

Yesterday it was my birthday
I hung one more year on the line
I should be depressed, my life’s a mess
But I’m having a good time

—Paul Simon, “Have A Good Time”


Things I Think I Think About LARP

After playing in five LARPs this weekend — three of which were not games in which I had a pre-existing character — I got to thinking about what makes certain games or scenarios work for me. What “handles” on the character or situation am I looking for that help me have fun? I came up with a short, almost assuredly incomplete, list.

  1. Connections: LARPs are social games, an order of magnitude more so than tabletop RPGs are. A LARP should first and foremost connect me to other players. Coming in the door, who do I have my first interactions with? Where do I go when I need help? Where is the friction going to be? I want to have at least one group I feel a part of, one person I can trust, and one person who I am at odds with.
  2. Goals: My character is here, now, for a reason. Why do I care about what’s happening, and how does it affect me? What it is important that I accomplish right now? And why do other characters care about that?
  3. Reasons to Change: Those things that I came here to accomplish? What would cause me to not just give up on them, but to pursue their opposite? Those secrets that I need to keep? What would make me reveal them? (I think this is a highly-overlooked aspect of pre-gen character design.)
  4. Knowledge/Power/Secrets to Reveal: It’s important that what’s going on matters to me. It’s just as important that I matter to what’s going on. What do I know about the current situation? What do I have that makes other characters care about me? What does my presence make easier or harder?
  5. High Concept/Schtick: When my character talks to someone, within the first three sentences they should know that it’s not Paul they’re talking to. How do I get a picture of who this person is so can I drop into character in two minutes or less?

That’s in roughly descending order of importance to me. I’ve played in games where I had unachievable goals, no built-in connections to other characters, and no real connection to plot — and still enjoyed myself because I invented connections to players I knew and played my schtick hard. But I’m happiest when the system and the scenario give me those — or the tools to create them — from the starting gate.