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've done (111)


On Stage Again

Last night was my first Friday performance with the Ventura Improv Company in a while, and it was great fun to get back to. We have a slightly different mix of experience levels in our Friday night shows than we do on Saturdays, and we use it as an opportunity for newer members of the troupe to work with our more experienced players. Despite doing this for almost five years now, it’s still hard for me to accept that I’m in the latter group. Last night, though, I felt like I held up my end of the bargain.

I’ll be performing again this month, on Friday, December 30th. That show will be with my long-form team, Instant Karma, as a build-up to our annual New Year’s Eve Gala. If you’re in Ventura that weekend, you should come out to one or both shows. It’s certain to be a lot of fun.


She Has A Point

Thanks to the same folks who brought us Oktubafest, tonight the Mercury Lounge was filled with sounds of Christmas carols… played in four-part harmony on a dozen tubas. It was simultaneously quirky and exactly right.

One point Gwen looked around and I said, “I could see you running a place like this.”


5K After Ten Miles

This morning, I rolled out of bed at half past five, drove down to Oxnard, and ran thirteen point one miles in one hour, forty-six minutes, thirty-six seconds.

On the one hand, I’m shocked by this. That works out to running a mile in eight minutes and eight seconds, repeated a baker’s dozen times. When I did my first 5K race in years back in May 2010, I would have been overjoyed to run at that pace. (I ran a 9:06 split in that race.) The notion of running a 5K that quicker after having already run ten miles at that pace was out of the question.

On the other hand, I’m not surprised I was able to do it. In October I ran a half-marathon in an hour and fifty minutes, and that was on a much hillier course than this one. I’ve been training since then, and I’ve seen my workout paces speed up. My only goal for this race was to break that time, so I just ran with the hour and fifty minute pacer for the first ten miles. At the ten mile marker, I felt like I could push it a little more, so I ran the remainder on my own and finished a few minutes ahead of him. Doing the math, I realize now that I ran that last 5K at a seven and and a half minute mile pace. That’s faster than I’ve run anything except this year’s Thankgiving 4-miler.

Back when I was doing triathlons — around 2004 — I encountered something on a tri mailing list that’s stuck with me ever since:

People tend to overestimate what they can do in a year, and underestimate what they can do in three.

At lunch after the race, Gwen asked me, “So, what’s next?” (She knows me too well.) I’ve had “run a marathon” on my list of things I want to do for a long time, but I’ve known that’s not something I could do in a year. In 2010, I got back into running. In 2011, I committed to making it a regular and important part of my routine. That makes 2012 year three. Maybe it’s time to finally go after it.

For now, though, it’s time to enjoy my underestimation of myself.


Plus It Makes The House Smell Great All Day

One of the advantages of being around the house all weekend is that I get to take advantage of one of my favorite cooking methods: braising. I love it not just because it results in tasty food but because it represents a triumph of technique over inputs.

Braising is basically a two-step process. First you sear the outside of whatever it is you are cooking. Then you cook it for a long time either partially or wholely submerged in liquid at a relatively low temperature. The second step of the process — where you apply heat, moisture, and time — is what makes braising an alchemical reaction. In meat, it breaks down connective tissue and collagen, rendering normally tough, unappetizing cuts into moist, flavorful dishes that you can separate with a stern gaze, rather than a knife. Braising can take ingredients that are normally ill-suited for cooking and make them delicious. I have to respect that that.

This weekend, we braised beef short ribs we had in the freezer. I’d never made short ribs before, so I was curious to give it a try. Gwen commented during dinner that the beef was tasty, but it was the sauce — made from the red wine the ribs had been cooked in, a generous helping of sauteed vegetables, and the juices released by the meat as it cooked — that really made the dish. I think she could tell by the way I licked my bowl at the end of the meal that I agreed.


Coming Into My Own

I’m back from another fantastic weekend of Dying Kingdoms, and as usual I’m exhausted. This game was unusual, however, in that I played a different role than I’d become used to.

In 2010, I played in two DK games, both of them as supporting cast for court games. I had a blast, which led me to decide to play a regular, recurring character. I started doing that in February, and with the one event that I missed this year, it meant that this weekend was my fifth game playing Marcus, my seventh overall. Over the course of the last event and this one, we had a about a dozen new players join, either coming in brand new or after having done what I did and transitioning from playing supporting cast. This weekend, there were also a significant number of longer-term players who weren’t able to make it. The combination of the two meant I suddenly had half-a-dozen characters either asking mine for advice or looking to me for leadership. And to my surprise, I was able to give it to them.

I think I’m finally getting my bearings with the character and with the game. And that’s where the real fun begins.