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
  • 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

Thursday
Jan012015

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.

Monday
Jul072014

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…

Tuesday
Jun242014

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”

Tuesday
May272014

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.

Monday
May192014

Community Building

Last Thursday was the second get-together of the Santa Barbara Agile Meetup group. Like the first time, we had a dozen people, though half new attendees and half were repeat offenders. There were some excellent discussions, and the energy in the group was palpable. When the end of the evening came, I could feel that no one was ready to leave.

I’m excited to see where this could go. When Heidi and I kicked off the group, we wrote this mission statement:

Our goal is to create a living, self-sustaining, Agile entity that provides people with inspiring new ideas about Agile to apply in their daily work, and fun opportunities to connect and network with like-minded professionals in the Santa Barbara area.

I believe very strongly in that “living, self-sustaining” idea. I’ve been part of a number of different volunteer groups that lacked that energy, in large part because it was not an explicit part of those groups’ mission and because the initial burst of energy that created the group had faded away. I want to build a community, one that can shift and adapt over time, one that fulfills its members’ needs, and one that doesn’t need its founders in order to thrive. And I’m excited that we might be on the path to doing that.