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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)


Good Noise

So I sit down at the long, faux tree table in the Starbacks at Camino Real. My head is spinning. I was going to write about ritual, repetition, and reflection1, but I just read the iPad 2 announcement. Now I’ve been telling myself for months that I’m going to get one, but now that they’re actually real I have to make some decisions. Plus what I thought was going to be a five minute conversation after our status meeting turned into an hour of organizational and strategy planning. It was good, but it took a bite out of the time I have available to meet the commitments I made this morning. And I forgot that I’m going to spend an hour with a co-worker this afternoon to work through some technical details on a problem he’s having. So all that’s in my head, and it’s not letting anything else through. Which is unfortunate, because it’s a beautiful rainy day, and it just begs for writing.

Of course, because it’s a rainy day and it’s at the tail end of lunchtime, the Starbucks is packed. There’s the expected cadre of students, with the whole rainbow of MacBook colors; as a Dell user, I feel like an intruder. There’s the guys at the end of the table talking about cell phone coverage. And there’s the two pairs of couples — one young, one old — eating pastries and speaking French and taking in the room. So there’s commotion both inside and outside my head.

I can hardly hear myself think, and yet I’m supposed to write? How is this going to work? And I need to write more than just a blog post. I have to write something for launch of the Italian edition of A Penny For My Thoughts.

It doesn’t matter, I tell myself. I’m here to write and I’m going to do just that. I just have to make the clackity noises. Of course, the clackity noises are entirely in my head. And that’s when it hits me.

I pull on my headphones and it all falls into place.

1 Based on a conversation I had with Christina on Monday.


Super Bowl Thoughts, Part 2

Now, the ads. My top three:

  • Coca-Cola defeats the dragon. Yes, the dragon should have just strafed the place. Still, who doesn’t love a dragon that spits fireworks and plays the 1812 Overture? Things like this also point to how mainstream nerdery has become.
  • Imported from Detroit. The message here? Take what you are and own it. This ad didn’t even need Eminem.
  • Release the hounds. This epitomizes what I like in ads: It was ridiculous without being dumb.

Apparently It Was A Family Name

On Wednesday, after an elapsed span of 156 days and a total reading time of approximately 65 hours, I finished Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative. It did exactly what I wanted it to do: It gave me a narrative and chronological framework for understanding the American Civil War, something I didn't have at all before. (It also gave me a much better idea of how to play For the People, but that's beside the point).

It also taught me that while the Confederacy lost the war, they did prevail in a critically important area: generals with cool names. I mean, Ulysses S. "Unconditional Surrender" Grant (real name: Hiram Ulysses Grant) is pretty cool, but that's about all the Union brought to the table. (Well, that and an amusing number of generals named for Winfield Scott, Mexican War hero who was General-in-Chief when the Civil War broke out.) As proof that the South  won this contest, I present the Top Five Coolest Confederate General Names:

5. Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson"

4. Leonidas Polk, aka "The Fighting Bishop"

3. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

2. Bushrod Johnson

1. States Rights Gist


It Only Feels Like We're In One

Last week, we had three people from our team from Lausanne, Switzerland, in the office to work out the details for a joint project we're starting. When I mentioned that we'd be holding our daily meetings in the Lava Lounge (so named for the lava lamp that sits on its table), they thought I said we'd be holding them in an avalanche.


The Wisdom(?) of Cookies

It turns out the post on New Year's Resolutions I wanted to write is trickier than I expected, so I'm not finished with it yet. To tide you over, here are four fortune cookie fortunes I got recently:

  • You are a leader. Others soon will need your inspiration.
  • A new relationship is about to blossom. You will be blessed.
  • An interesting musical opportunity is in your near future.
  • Your random act of kindness today will spread quickly to others.

Bonus short funny thing: I recently discovered notes I'd taken on an improv show, including a scene that was summarized as "Joseph, Mary, and the awkward marriage counselor."

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