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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've done (111)


Community Building

Last Thursday was the second get-together of the Santa Barbara Agile Meetup group. Like the first time, we had a dozen people, though half new attendees and half were repeat offenders. There were some excellent discussions, and the energy in the group was palpable. When the end of the evening came, I could feel that no one was ready to leave.

I’m excited to see where this could go. When Heidi and I kicked off the group, we wrote this mission statement:

Our goal is to create a living, self-sustaining, Agile entity that provides people with inspiring new ideas about Agile to apply in their daily work, and fun opportunities to connect and network with like-minded professionals in the Santa Barbara area.

I believe very strongly in that “living, self-sustaining” idea. I’ve been part of a number of different volunteer groups that lacked that energy, in large part because it was not an explicit part of those groups’ mission and because the initial burst of energy that created the group had faded away. I want to build a community, one that can shift and adapt over time, one that fulfills its members’ needs, and one that doesn’t need its founders in order to thrive. And I’m excited that we might be on the path to doing that.


Improv and Agile on the Brain

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting alongside my partner-in-crime Jake Calabrese at the Scrum Gathering in New Orleans. For ninety minutes, we walked twenty or so folks through a series of improv exercises that they could use in an Agile context. Stephen Starkey captured it nicely:

Paul Goddard ran a similar session right before ours, and on the last day of the conference the three of us teamed up to run another impromptu session. This set my brain to spinning, and when I got home, I found that one of our participants wanted me to come and run a series of workshops on these topics at her company, which happens to be in the Los Angeles area. I don’t think its going to work out (I’m not really set up to do that kind of thing right now), but it reinforced that there is real interest in this area.

One of the promises I made to myself at the conference was that I would continue my exploration of these topics. Here’s my short list of possible future conference session topics:

  • Complexity, Improvisation, and Agile
  • Improv Games for Scrum Ceremonies
  • Status Work for Managers and Coaches

Side Effects of Poetry May Include...

The last week has seen a revitalization of my poem-a-day project. I’ve been slowly increasing the complexity of the poetic forms I’ve been tackling, and for April I decided to go after sonnets (the Petrarchian variety, specifically). They’re tough, in no small part because they have a fixed meter, rhyme scheme, and length, which means you have to make the pieces fit just so. Unlike I can with, say, octosyllabic rhyming couplets, I can’t sit down and write a sonnet in one go; I need to chip away at it. Finding time to do that during a single day is a bit of a challenge, particularly if I don’t get started early. I seem to have figured a way that works for me: Before getting out of the shower in the morning, I have to have a subject for the poem and at least one line finished. That lets me stew on it all day, which is the trick that has gotten me through the last week’s worth of sonnets.

There’s been an unanticipated side effect of this: I have a lens that I see much of the day through. I’ve found that, because of their structure, sonnets work best when they present a point of view. Like models, they contain a piece of the truth. (My sense-making brain has been having a field day with this idea.) I write my best poems when I take a stand on something, and as I’ve been consciously doing that first thing in the morning, it’s been shaping how I experience the day.

It makes me wonder what else I should be including in my morning ritual.


All Heraldry, All The Time

Two weeks ago, my weekend was full of bacon. This weekend it was full of heraldry. One was tastier, the other was more instructive.

My primary activity in the SCA is heraldry, particularly what we call administrative or book heraldry. Since last August I’ve been the kingdom officer in charge of the registration process for names and armory, which is both awesome and daunting. I’m actually rather new to these things, but I picked a lot of stuff up quickly and I didn’t run away fast enough when my predecessor realized she was rapidly approaching burnout. As I have said about my musical abilities: I have talent but not a lot of repertoire. Particularly because of my office, I feel like I’m expected to know more than I currently do about all aspects of heraldry. So this weekend, at our biggest single event dedicated to classes, I was all heraldry, all the time. I learned about heraldic tabards and flags. I taught a class on conflict checking for armory. I ran our monthly decision meeting.

Meanwhile, Gwen was off taking a five or six classes that I would have loved to have been in, including one on tablet weaving and another on sausage making. There was a double-handful of knights teaching various armored combat techniques on the pell. I have been wanted to get authorized as a rapier marshal, and there was a class that is required for that being offered. And every time I walked across the open field in the middle of the site, I saw people practicing unarmored combat, a form that I’ve been wanting to explore — to the extent that I have the equipment for it, sitting unused under my bed.

Gwen and I joke often that we want to “Do All The Things!” or “Make All The Things!” or “Learn All The Things!” This weekend was a reminder that I can’t; or at the very least, I can’t all at once. I need to slow down, pick the most important things to do right now, focus on them, and not feel bad about the things I’m not doing. Most importantly, I can’t let feeling bad about the things I’m not doing prevent me from enjoying the things I am doing. I need to be patient with myself and grateful for the opportunities I am able to take advantage of. As my friend Ryan said, “Opportunities do not stop coming as long as you keep moving forward.


Monday, Monday, Can't Help That Day

I was about to say this weekend was “low-key” until I realized it involved getting up a 6 AM on Saturday, driving for an hour and half, fighting for a good chunk of the day, learning basic calligraphy, having dinner, and then driving home. I guess that counts as low-key for us.

It was really nice to sleep in my own bed both nights this weekend, and to have all of Sunday at home, which — I suppose — is what made it feel low-key. I’m starting the week feeling recharged, which is awesome. I’m picking up some new responsibilities at work starting today, so I definitely needed that. I’m teaching at class at Collegium Caidis on Saturday, which has me a little freaked out, but I’ll get over that. There’s lots of good stuff on the horizon; I just need to be mindful about how I approach it.