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


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



Korea: Where Am I Now?

When I woke up in Seoul, I was a little confused about where I was. In addition to the unfamiliarity hotel room, South Korea has a seventeen-hour time difference from Santa Barbara, and it's on the other side of the International Dateline. This means that despite leaving home on Saturday morning, when I woke up it was Monday. And of course, because my body was confused about what time it, I woke up around 5 AM. Once it got light, though, I was able to see this out of my hotel room window:

Where was I staying? That requires a brief explanation of South Korean addresses. There's a good overview here, but the short version is that Seoul is divided into twenty-five gu, or districts. These districts are further divided into dong, or neighborhoods. My hotel was in Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu. So far pretty straightforward, right? The tricky part about this is that while some streets have names (like Olympic-ro, the one in front of my hotel), most addresses are simply given as a number within a dong. (This number apparently comes from the land lot records, but my sources are little confusing on the matter.) So my hotel's full address was 40-1 Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, Korea. Kind of makes it hard to find, no?

Fortunately I was staying at a local landmark: the Lotte World Hotel. The Lotte Group is one of the largest of South Korea's chaebol. Chaebol are large, family-run, government-assisted business conglomarates, similar to the old Japanese zaibatsu. To the outsider, they're companies that do everything. So Lotte, in addition to running a theme park, makes fast food (I saw a fair number of Lotterias on my trip), issues credit cards, owns two baseball teams, and operates a chain of department stores. And when you looked a little further out my window, it was easy to see where I was.

With that mystery solved, I headed off to meet one of my coworkers for breakfast.