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
  • The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    by Eric Ries
  • The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    by Daniel Coyle
  • Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton
    by Ron Chernow

Paul Tevis


Korea: Food and Sleep

On the morning of my first full day in South Korea, I met up with one of my company's other employees for breakfast. Dick had been working with the customer on this particular project for about eighteen months, alternating between the US and Korea in roughly two-week blocks.  Part of the reason I'd headed over on such short notice was to overlap with him, as he was supposed to be headed back home soon, but we'd never actually met in person before. He knew the area, and after breakfast we took caught a cab to the customer site. I'm glad Dick was with me, because I would have had no idea how to tell the cabbie where to go if I had been on my own.

I spent part of the morning at the customer site getting set up, but I couldn't actually get access to the machine (which I needed to do to diagnose the problem they were having) until the night shift. We'd expected that this was going to happen, so after lunch (which was pretty terrible cafeteria food) I headed back to the hotel to get a few hours of sleep before coming in that night.

That's not quite what happened. I figured that since I had some time available to me, I might as well go out and explore a little bit. I was staying in the area where most of the 1988 Olympic Games were centered, and you could tell. My hotel on Olympic-ro, which connected the stadium/sports complex with Olympic Park. On the median were sculptures of all sorts of athletes. Wondered around the area for several hours, mostly to get a sense of scale on my guidebook's map. Just as I was thinking about heading to bed, I started to get hungry, so I ended up in a restaurant in the massive food court under the shopping center next to my hotel. I chose that particular establishment because of the menu.

Pictures and numbers were my salvation, as I still had no idea how to read hangeul. When my waiter came, I pointed to the #29. It turned out to be rather good, and after finishing, I headed up to my room and slept.

Saying "Thank You"

In early 2005, Wil Wheaton wrote a series of posts on his blog about losing two of their cats, Felix and Sketch. At almost the same time, Gwen and I lost our cat Eliot to congestive heart failure. I remember sitting in the waiting room at the emergency vet the first night Eliot started having trouble breathing and thinking "This is like exactly what Wil was writing about last month." It was remarkably surreal, and yet it was strangely comforting. As the weeks went by, I knew that I wasn't the only person who felt like I did. I was all twisted up inside, but somehow reading what Wil had gone through helped me deal with, helped me take it in, and helped me cope.

Eliot's death was the beginning of bad stretch for me that lasted almost two years.  It wasn't just about Eliot, but that event was the trigger for whole series of things that went badly for me. Even after things turned around, I carried the weight of his death  with me. Two years before he died, our vet thought he'd noticed something irregular with Eliot's heartbeat, and he had wanted to run more tests. For some reason, we'd never had those tests run. And when we lost Eliot, I knew it was my fault.

Last fall, when we played Seth Ben-Ezra's A Flower For Mara at the Nerdly Beach Party, I finally realized how much I could still feel that burden hanging around my neck. It hadn't occured to me that because I still blamed myself, the idea of being a parent scared the crap out of me. Even though Eliot's brother (who has a milder form of the same condition)  stayed healthy because of the treatments we'd gotten him and even though we adopted two more little fuzzballs who had brought us a ton of joy, I doubted my ability to really be responsible for another living thing. Julia Cameron talks about the focusing power of pain, how we seem to pay so much attention to the world when we're hurting. The pain of Eliot's death and the guilt I felt about it had seared itself into my mind.

Yesterday at OrcCon, I spotted Wil Wheaton in the dealer's hall. After he finished up at the Indie Press Revolution booth, I stopped him for just a moment and thanked him for sharing his pain with the world. He'd helped me immensely, and I was profoundly grateful. I'd been hoping to run into him for the last several years to tell him that, but it seems appropriate that it didn't happen until now. It's only in the last few months that I've really come to terms with what happened and allowed myself to move on.

So, thank you, Wil and Seth, for helping me through your writings. I'm a happier, healthier person because of it.

Who Needs Copy Editors?

Apparently not Dr. Dobb's Journal.


Becoming Available To The Moment

I've mentioned The Artist's Way before. Here's what jumped out at me in this week's chapter.
People frequently believe the creative life is grounded in fantasy. The more difficult truth is that creativity is grounded in reality, in the particular, the focused, the well-observed or specifically imagined.

As we lose our vagueness about our self, our values, our life situation, we become available to the moment.It is there, in the particular, that we contact the creative self. Until we experience the freedom of solitude, we cannot connect authentically. We may be enmeshed, but we are not encountered.

Art lies in the moment of encounter: we meet our truth and we meet ourselves; we meet ourselves and we meet our self-expression. We become original because we become something specific: an origin from which work flows.

Recently I've experienced the power of making myself available to the moment. It's the sort of thing we talk about a lot in improv, but it's so much more applicable than that. Overcoming the fear, doing the work, putting yourself out there to actually experience what's going on: it's powerful, transformative stuff. I don't do it enough.

This is as far as I've gotten in the book before. Presuming I make it, next week will be new ground.

Photos Of Me Making A Fool Of Myself

Pictures of the Ventura Improv Company's show on New Year's Eve are up. It was a great show, and I was honored to be a part of it.

Also, I have no idea what Travis is doing to me in this picture