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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 find amusing (25)


It's a Kobayashi Maru Solution

Rob Donoghue asks:

How many steps does it take you to get from PHP to Cicero? Show your work. For bonus points, do not use “language” as a waypoint.

PHP is used on the Internet. Much of the Internet runs on Cisco hardware. Cisco sounds kind of like Cicero. QED.


Fitness: Ran 2.25 miles + 30 minute workout
Writing: 261 words, 269 average

Home Office

This is might sound like a gloating post, but it’s more about how I’ve been dumb.

When Gwen and I bought our house two and half years ago, we found this in the back yard.


We said, “Hold on. Is there really a little house in the back yard? We need to take a closer look.” So we did.

Yep, it was. Turns out one of the previous owners was a contractor, and he built it as a playhouse for his little girls. We were a little confused about what to do with it. It takes up a reasonable chunk of the back yard, so we were tempted to get rid of it. On the other hand, it’s got a slab foundation, carpeting, a faux finish ceiling, and electrical power. Yes, that’s right: it’s wired for power. Indecision took hold, and with all the other, more pressing things going on with the house, inertia took over.

In January 2010, we got a new dining room table. We been wanting to get one for a few years, but we’d held off until we bought a house and knew what our dining room would look like. It arrived on a weekend when Gwen was out of town, so I had to figure out what to do with the old one. We knew we wanted to hang onto it, because it had been a wedding present from Gwen’s grandmother. It had been her dining room table for years, and it matched the china cabinet she’d given us. The problem was that I couldn’t figure out where in the house to put it. Then I looked outside.

So for the last year, the little house had been serving two purposes: storing the old dining room table and giving the neighborhood spiders a place to spin their webs and lay their eggs. Then about two weeks ago, I finally got smart and realized what I could do with it.

This is where I go to write. When I’m sitting at the table and look to my left, this is what I see.

The ridiculous part is how long it took me to realize I could use it like this. It’s been sitting here for almost thirty months, just waiting for me to figure it out. It wasn’t until the end of March that I finally put one and one and one together.

Better late than never, I suppose.




Fitness: Biked 10 miles

Writing: 618 words, 285 average


Becoming a Fan

I have a strange relationship with sports, I suppose.

I was a pretty nerdy kid. I was active in debate, mock trial, choir, Boy Scouts, 4-H, and other things I’ve forgotten. At the same time, I played a lot of sports: Baseball, basketball, cross-country, flag football, even a bit of wrestling. I’ve always enjoyed being active, and I have a fairly well-developed sense of balance and coordination, though I’ve never been terribly athletic. After college, I started hiking, doing yoga1, riding my bike, and eventually doing triathlons. Santa Barbara has beautiful weather year round, so I figured I should take advantage of it. Still, I never never identified as a “sports fan.”

I started watching football as a social thing. Gwen grew up around it, and our friend Andy was a fan, so we started watching Monday Night Football as a group, starting with just the three of us and then expanding over the years. Then, as I started to ride my bike more, we discovered professional cycling on TV, and the addiction kicked in. May, July, and September evening were sacrificed to the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta a España. Sunday afternoons in the spring were given over to the Classics: Milan-San Remo, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, and the Queen of the Classics: Paris-Roubaix. The networks started cutting back their coverage in the post-Armstrong era, but we watched whatever we could and cursed them for what we couldn’t. I don’t watch much TV anymore, and what I do watch now is almost exclusively live sports.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never been good at following a local sports team. Last year I tried to follow the Dodgers, but my general dislike of baseball on TV just got in the way. And despite being surrounded by Lakers fans, I don’t really enjoy the NBA.2 That left the LA Kings. Now as it turns out, I know a bunch of hockey fans, and their enthusiasm started to wear off on me. And Gwen I watched the Stanley Cup Playoffs one summer in college, when the Dallas Stars won it,3 I so I thought I’d give it a try.

It turns out, I love hockey. There’s the elegant flow, lonely keeper, the team play. It’s a like a faster-moving version of soccer. It’s also got the season-long grind of baseball; you don’t play every day, but you get beat up three days a week, and if you go all the way your season starts in October and ends in June. It’s played by a bunch of guys who obviously love the game and understand the importance of their teammates. The NHL doesn’t get the same media coverage that the NFL, MLB, and the NBA do, and I suspect the sport might be better for that.

So for someone who doesn’t consider himself a sports fan, I’ve been watching a lot of it recently. And I consider it especially ironic that Gwen and I today bought a big new TV almost exclusively to watch sports.

Oh, yeah: Go Kings Go!


Fitness: Ran 3.25 miles
Writing: 320 words, 265 average

1 Thanks to work having a yoga instructor come to the office three days a week.

2 As team-oriented as basketball should be (and usually is at the college level) the pro-level is too dominated by “rockstars” for me.

3 Gwen’s mother was a Stars fan, and during the playoffs we were living in an apartment in Houston. It was during the summer, we didn’t have huge demands on our time like we did during the school year, so we started watching. And given how many of those series when to six or seven games and to multiple overtimes, we watched a lot of it.


Without Kevin Costner in the Coffin, Of Course

We had some friends over for dinner tonight, so I put together a playlist of background music. As the evening went on, we kept turning the volume up, so by the time people were leaving it wasn’t exactly background anymore. Two albums that featured prominently in the list were Cake’s Fashion Nugget and Barenaked Ladies’ Gordon.

As we washed dishes, I was struck by two things. First, these two albums are really, really good. I’ve always been a fan of the album as the elementary unit of music, just as the paragraph is the elementary unit of composition.1 Singles are nice, but they don’t demonstrate real skill. Pull off a cohesive album and then I’ll pay attention.

Second, I have pretty specific memories tied to tracks from these two albums, and all of them are more than a decade old. The fact that I can remember anything from more than ten years ago — or that I did anything important that long ago — still comes as a shock to me. It wasn’t exactly a Big Chill moment, but it was close.


1 I suppose being a Led Zeppelin fan will do that.


Past My Bedtime

I didn’t used to be a morning person. In college, I had trouble making it to 9 AM classes.1 It used to be that 11 PM was a time to get serious about starting a paper. When I slept in on weekends, I would sometimes miss lunch.

That this has changed doesn’t surprise me. What does is that Gwen and I have mostly swapped. Now I’m the one who thinks that 10 PM is a fine time to go to bed. Several times in the past few weeks I’ve had to slip out the door to be to work at 7 or 8 AM for a conference call, and I’ve woken her up to say goodbye.

Most of this is environmental. My company is shifted earlier in the day than Gwen’s; our office is pretty empty by 5:30 PM. One reason is that we have to deal with the East Coast and Europe more often. Another is that our average age is a little higher. Regardless of the cause, I need to get up early more often than she does.

The strange part is how much I like it. While I’m sometimes a little slow to get out of bed, once I get up, I get moving. There are few better feelings than knowing I’ve ticked three important things off my to-do list before 8 AM.

What all of this really means, though, is that I’m really tired right now.

Goodnight, all.

1 And sometimes 10 AM ones, too.