Who am I?

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

Currently Consuming
  • Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology
    Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology
    by Cory O'Brien
  • The Heraldic Imagination
    The Heraldic Imagination
    by Rodney Dennys
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
    The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
    by Patrick Lencioni
  • Tournaments: Jousts, Chivalry and Pageants in the Middle Ages
    Tournaments: Jousts, Chivalry and Pageants in the Middle Ages
    by Richard Barber, Juliet Barker
  • North Through Its Names: A Phenomenology of Medieval And Early-modern Northern England (English Surname Survey)
    North Through Its Names: A Phenomenology of Medieval And Early-modern Northern England (English Surname Survey)
    by David Postles

Paul Tevis

Tuesday
Apr082014

Side Effects of Poetry May Include...

The last week has seen a revitalization of my poem-a-day project. I’ve been slowly increasing the complexity of the poetic forms I’ve been tackling, and for April I decided to go after sonnets (the Petrarchian variety, specifically). They’re tough, in no small part because they have a fixed meter, rhyme scheme, and length, which means you have to make the pieces fit just so. Unlike I can with, say, octosyllabic rhyming couplets, I can’t sit down and write a sonnet in one go; I need to chip away at it. Finding time to do that during a single day is a bit of a challenge, particularly if I don’t get started early. I seem to have figured a way that works for me: Before getting out of the shower in the morning, I have to have a subject for the poem and at least one line finished. That lets me stew on it all day, which is the trick that has gotten me through the last week’s worth of sonnets.

There’s been an unanticipated side effect of this: I have a lens that I see much of the day through. I’ve found that, because of their structure, sonnets work best when they present a point of view. Like models, they contain a piece of the truth. (My sense-making brain has been having a field day with this idea.) I write my best poems when I take a stand on something, and as I’ve been consciously doing that first thing in the morning, it’s been shaping how I experience the day.

It makes me wonder what else I should be including in my morning ritual.

Monday
Mar242014

All Heraldry, All The Time

Two weeks ago, my weekend was full of bacon. This weekend it was full of heraldry. One was tastier, the other was more instructive.

My primary activity in the SCA is heraldry, particularly what we call administrative or book heraldry. Since last August I’ve been the kingdom officer in charge of the registration process for names and armory, which is both awesome and daunting. I’m actually rather new to these things, but I picked a lot of stuff up quickly and I didn’t run away fast enough when my predecessor realized she was rapidly approaching burnout. As I have said about my musical abilities: I have talent but not a lot of repertoire. Particularly because of my office, I feel like I’m expected to know more than I currently do about all aspects of heraldry. So this weekend, at our biggest single event dedicated to classes, I was all heraldry, all the time. I learned about heraldic tabards and flags. I taught a class on conflict checking for armory. I ran our monthly decision meeting.

Meanwhile, Gwen was off taking a five or six classes that I would have loved to have been in, including one on tablet weaving and another on sausage making. There was a double-handful of knights teaching various armored combat techniques on the pell. I have been wanted to get authorized as a rapier marshal, and there was a class that is required for that being offered. And every time I walked across the open field in the middle of the site, I saw people practicing unarmored combat, a form that I’ve been wanting to explore — to the extent that I have the equipment for it, sitting unused under my bed.

Gwen and I joke often that we want to “Do All The Things!” or “Make All The Things!” or “Learn All The Things!” This weekend was a reminder that I can’t; or at the very least, I can’t all at once. I need to slow down, pick the most important things to do right now, focus on them, and not feel bad about the things I’m not doing. Most importantly, I can’t let feeling bad about the things I’m not doing prevent me from enjoying the things I am doing. I need to be patient with myself and grateful for the opportunities I am able to take advantage of. As my friend Ryan said, “Opportunities do not stop coming as long as you keep moving forward.

Monday
Mar172014

Monday, Monday, Can't Help That Day

I was about to say this weekend was “low-key” until I realized it involved getting up a 6 AM on Saturday, driving for an hour and half, fighting for a good chunk of the day, learning basic calligraphy, having dinner, and then driving home. I guess that counts as low-key for us.

It was really nice to sleep in my own bed both nights this weekend, and to have all of Sunday at home, which — I suppose — is what made it feel low-key. I’m starting the week feeling recharged, which is awesome. I’m picking up some new responsibilities at work starting today, so I definitely needed that. I’m teaching at class at Collegium Caidis on Saturday, which has me a little freaked out, but I’ll get over that. There’s lots of good stuff on the horizon; I just need to be mindful about how I approach it.

Monday
Mar102014

How Good Was This Weekend?

I learned how to make bacon. That’s how good it was.

Last week was a whirlwind, with my trip to San Diego backed up against the West Coast Culinary Symposium. But every bit of it was worth it. While in our San Diego office, my partner-in-crime and I interviewed someone who we really want to work with. Not only is that exciting, the interview itself produced several a-ha moments for me that I’m trying to apply at work today. Follow that with a day-long workshop on retrospective techniques taught by Diana Larsen in a room full of like-minded people (about a quarter of whom I met at the Scrum Coaches Retreat last year), and you’ve got a recipe for a pretty satisfying professional week. And that only took me through Thursday evening.

Thursday night and Friday morning involved an amusing series of train rides to get me from San Diego to Riverside, where I met up with Gwen around noon. She was coming from home and picked me up on the way to the Symposium. We got there just at 3 PM, which was the earliest we were allowed to arrive, so apparently we timed that about right. The train rides and waiting time gave me a chance to almost completely catch up on my backlog of poetry, which took a huge weight off my mind. And then the weekend was spent eating too much, learning a ton (including the aforementioned lesson on bacon), and hanging with new and old friends. I was pleasantly surprised when I was asked to run court on Saturday night (though looking back on it, I was the logical choice) and even more pleased with the feedback that I got about how it went. When we got home on Sunday evening, I was tremendously satisfied with the week and ready to sleep in my own bed again.

So what’s on the slate for this week? I need to get started a slightly long-term craft project. Gwen and I need to decide if we’re going skiing or not (and if not, do we day-trip to an SCA event down at Camp Josepho). I’ve got travel logistics for a bunch of upcoming events that I should square away.

Oh, and we’ll need to try the bacon we started.

Monday
Mar032014

A Weekend at Home Was Just What We Needed

Because of the kind of people we are, Gwen and I hadn’t had a weekend at home in mumble, mumble. This one was particularly nice. Inspired by the brewing class I taught on Thursday, I moved along several of my brewing projects and started two more batches of mead. I did two shows with the Ventura Improv Company, which was good for the soul. I banged out a bit more poetry. We watched some hockey, listened to the rain, imposed a bit more order on the house, and figured out the arrangements we needed in order to be out town of this coming weekend (because, of course, two weekends in a row at home would be unthinkable). We capped it all off with a wonderful dinner with friends. It was rejuvenating.

This week, of course, will be busy. We’ll be in Idyllwild for the West Coast Culinary Symposium, but before that I’ve got a trip down to San Diego for a workshop with Diana Larsen. This means an amusing series of car and trains rides to make sure that Gwen and I end up in the same place at the same time on Friday, but I’m sure we’ll work it out. I’ve got a weaving project that I would like to get started, but I probably won’t have time to do that before I leave. And I should really start pulling together plans and handouts for the heraldry class I’m teaching in three weeks.

So, yeah, rest was nice. Now back to it.