Who am I?

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

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Paul Tevis

Entries in things i do (25)


How About That Local Sports Team, Aren't They Doing Well/Badly?

This post is brought to you by halftime in the Packers - Eagles game.

By all rights, football should not be my game, but it is.1 I played two seasons of flag football when I was growing up, and that was it. I attended one football game while I was in college,2 which I believe matched my high school record. By way of contrast, I played at least eight seasons seasons of baseball, and probably five of basketball. Yet I don't watch either, and when the NFL season rolls around, I'm champing at the bit to follow along.

I think it's because I can follow along. In the regular season, an NFL team plays sixteen games in seventeen weeks, an amount I could conceivably watch. Sure, I always end up missing a few, but percentage-wise, I can watch a lot of football. Compare that to baseball -- a sport which I love to watch live, but hate watching on TV -- and it's like I could watch the whole season. I probably enjoy watching your average game of hockey more than the average game of football, but I could never establish the amount of context around an individual hockey game like I can in football.3 And that context is important to me, as a big picture guy.

The problem is that I want to follow a team, and as it turns out, none of the teams that are on here are ones I really want to follow. Santa Barbara is a secondary market for the Raiders, the 49ers, and the Chargers, which mean that the local networks show all of their away games. Growing up in Iowa, I grew to love the Broncos, the Vikings, the Bears, and the Packers.4 So I'm conflicted: Do I hunt down a sports bar to follow a non-local team, or do I choose to pledge my allegiance to a new local team and follow them regardless?5

This, then, is the downside of being a nerd when it comes to sports. In an arena that I have no control over, I need things to make sense.

1 To the extent that I have a game. Ok, of all games, it is the one that is the most mine.

2 And that was to help out the M.O.B. with the halftime show. There was a girl involved.

3 Except maybe in the playoffs, which is why I tend not to watch the NHL except in playoffs.

4 We were equally far from all of them, and they were on the TV all the time. For some reason the Chiefs were never in the picture.

5 Gwen is, of course, a Dallas girl, so there are other considerations.


Running: A Brief Interlude

Tonight, on my evening run, I felt the hills more than usual. Each descent was an opportunity to go faster, each climb, a chance to work harder.

More like this, please.


Friday Night Footlights

I'm going to improv and the VIC tonight. This will be only the 5th time in 4 months I've gone.1  There was a time, a few years ago, when I was at the theatre three times a week.2  What changed?

I'm not entirely sure. At the beginning, I felt a real need to immerse myself in it, so as to get through the awkward beginner stage as quickly as possible.3 And certainly I've been a lot busier with work recently, but I'm not sure that explains it.

I think a lot of it is that I've been feeling less like I need to do improv, just like I haven't been feeling the need to roleplay. Right now, I'm really enjoying work. It's challenging me and forcing me to grow in ways that I've always wanted work to push me. It's taking up a lot more of my brainspace than my previous job did, and, at the same time, it's providing me with a lot more of a creative outlet than the old job did. I've also been away from improv for long enough that I no longer have the immediate feeling of loss that comes from not doing it regularly. It dropped out of my routine due to necessity, and now it doesn't feel weird not to be doing it.

What I absolutely do miss is the people, and that's why I'm going back tonight. I could easily say that I'm too tired from traveling and that I need the whole weekend to recover,4 but the folks at the VIC are wonderful people who I want to spend time with. That's why I'm going down tonight and why I really want to find a way to make improv work for me again in the fall.5

1 Yes, I'm a little OCD about keeping track of things like that.

2 Plus roleplaying every week.

3 Now I'm at the awkward intermediate stage, which always lasts forever no matter how much time I seem to spend at it.

4 As it is, I'm only blowing off most of the weekend. Every Labor Day Weekend is our annual 3-day festival, but I'm only going down for tonight.

5 This goes double for roleplaying.


Things I Do: Follow Professional Cycling

I can't remember exactly when I started watching the Tour de France, though it was sometime while an American guy named Lance was winning seven in a row.  That isn't what kept me watching it, though. What did was the fun we had uncovering how the different competitions in the race affected teams' tactics; the sudden reversals that can result from a split-second incident1; and the sheer insanity of what the riders do .2

It's gone beyond Le Tour now. Gwen and I get upset when we can't get day-by-day coverage of the Giro and the Vuelta.3 I've fallen in love with the Classics, and I practically have the date of Paris-Roubaix each year tattooed on my arm.4

I love following this sport. Say what you will about doping scandals; cycling's controversies are minor league compared to other sports'. At the beginning of each season, we watch race after race to learn what each team's new kit looks like and who is riding for who.5 I think that's because more than any other sport I know, cycling put a human face on superhuman feats. Vive Le Tour!




1 Joseba Beloki's crash and Lance's off-road recovery in the 2003 Tour will stay with me forever.

2 Because it's not enough to ride up a 13.8 km climb with 7.9 percent average gradiant and with 21 hairpin turns; you must do a wheelie at the top.

 3 Curse you, Versus.

4 The 2011 race is not yet scheduled.

5 To the extent that without the commentators telling us, we noticed today that Fränk Schleck is now wearing the Luxembourg National Champion's jersey. Fränk apparently beat his younger brother Andy (who had been wearing it for the last year) at the National Championship two weeks ago.



Making Introductions

This past weekend, I met Jess Hartley. I've been aware of her for years, but until now our social circles have only touched and never completely overlapped. Meeting cool new people is one of the reasons that I go to conventions, so I was happy this worked out.

Jess just started a series of articles about geek etiquette, a project she's calling One Geek To Another. The first post deals with introductions, and Jess is right on in pointing out the value of introductions and how rarely they happen well. Connecting people with each other is something I do a lot of, so I wanted to share a few of my techniques for getting introductions right.

If I'm part of a group that someone who I do know comes up to, I'll make introductions unless I'm sure the people have already been introduced. (Watching  body language is a good way to figure out if people know each other). My introduction in this case will run something like, "I'm sorry, I don't remember if you've met. Eric, do you know Steve? Steve's the author of X, Eric's the art director at Y." The key is I make it my problem, not the problem of the person who doesn't know everyone else.

If I'm part of a group that someone who I don't know comes up to, I'll wait for a minute for someone else to introduce them. If that doesn't happen (and it often doesn't), I'll take the initiative: "Hi, I don't think we've met. I'm Paul." This a technique I'd like to see more of, as it's not as widespread as the one above.

If I'm the new guy to the group, I'll treat it much like the second situation. If no one is actively engaging me in conversation, I'll wait until there's a break and then introduce myself. This is hard, and it feels awkward, but it's a lot less awkward than not doing it.

The key to all three of these is timing. The more time that goes by without an introduction, the more difficult things get. If a good conversational opening doesn't present itself, I'll jump in with "I'm sorry to interrupt, but..."

This is pretty basic stuff, but as Jess points out, it does a lot to make those awkward social situations less awkward.

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