"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

My New Hat

This is my new hat, courtesy Molly Dove, which I debuted at the Cornell Club housewarming a few weeks ago. I've come to really like it. It's hip but not too hip. Nerdy but not too nerdy. It keeps my head surprisingly warm, the sun off my face, and I can choose whether to sport it at a jaunty rakish angle or straight-ahead squaresville. I think it's quite fetching.

It's also a good one for the figurative "hat" I wear at my job. For the first year and a half of our bootstrappy startup we operated under an implied "everyone does everything" organizational strategy. This works when it's just the three of you, and it's good for keeping managerial overhead down and equality high, but ultimately people have talents, and these are distributed unequally. Specialization is necessary at some point if we're to grow.

For the first year of our work I had an informal (and largely unwanted) authority position as the oldest and most business-experienced member of the team. It was not the greatest fit as I have no particular desire to be the boss, and I haven't been living in the same town as my partners. It was what it was and I'm glad things worked out as well as they did, but nevertheless I'm happy that things are changing.

To wit, the defined roles are going to emerge. I'll be working more and more on the technical side of things; not necessarily writing more code directly, but taking designated responsibility for the code that our (eep!) employees will be crafting. Matt has already taken over the general operational management of the business, as his personal drive and passion for todo lists makes him a natural fit there. Zack is returning to his strong suit of evangelism and high-level Drupal architecture; he'll be out in front of our clients and working in pair with more (eep!) employees in the office to guide them through implementations and up the learning curve.

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Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening is a famous pre-expressionist German play by Frank Wedekind, revolving around the onset of puberty among some schoolchildren in a deeply repressed 19th Century community. It has a new life as a somewhat simplified or dumbed-down Broadway musical. Since I first read the text about a decade ago in College I've been borrowing the title, which has an appealing lyrical quality, as a shorthand for the semi-cyclical (re)emergence of my lust for life.

It is the vernal time again, and Humboldt County isn't disappointing. The sun is shining, and last night I went out to a kick-off party for our nascent roller-derby league. Our friend Hanna is participating (around her regular gig down in SF learning to tattoo; that's dedication) and there are a bunch of other good second-degree connections. The place was loud and full of ruckus, rock bands and dance-teams, a silent auction of art, desserts and donated items. With a minor amount of cronyism and a little but of quick bargaining, we managed to score a truly atrocious/awesome USA USA USA blanket: the flag, the eagle and a FDNY truck marked 911. Made in Korea. Amazing.

It was the first night of spring and also the full moon, the club chock full of attractive people with ambiguous sexual agendas. Mine was/is rather nonexistent. Much as I relish the return of the sun and the verdant fertility on display all around me, to-date I'm personally untouched. I'm sure that if I gave myself enough rope to get all boozed-up and wild like the old days there's an odds-on chance I could hang myself sufficiently well to at least make out with someone. It's an occasionally appealing thought, but it hasn't happened.

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The West Wing

Kellymundo succeeded in getting me to watch a few consecutive episodes of The West Wing on DVD the other day, and as someone who's been steeped in politics over the past five years, it leaves an interesting impression. If 24 is the Dark Side of the contemporary political debate, The West Wing represents something of the sunny side.

The stuff I've seen is from Season two, which is something of a historical time-capsule, having been made prior to both the onset of the Bush Administration, and of course 9/11. It's totally enjoyable, but also strikes me as anachronistically sanguine, a grown-up Schoolhouse Rock but with the benefit of excellent production values. The cast is strong, and the writing is excellent from a literary standpoint. On substance, though, I think the text reflects all too well the hazy miasma that surrounds our allegedly elite political discourse.

Two quick examples from the three or four episodes I've seen:

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The End of Youth

We billed our housewarming party as an opportunity to join us in "staging the end of our youth." The crowd was smallish but high quality, and packed dense enough to make the occupied rooms seem full. Mix in a little SparksPlus, and it felt just about right.

Most importantly, a representative social network sample was achieved: academics from Berkeley, drupal developers from the Mission, lawyers from all over, Sixto, friends from Humboldt county and Oregon, and perhaps best of all Nick's cousin in a positively outlandish basketball outfit rolling in and supervising the cooking of much bacon. Serious meatboxing. The mix works, and there will be dinner parties to come in the same vein.

The Roller at BatLater in the evening, when things got whittled down to the inner circle, the truly regressive behavior began to emerge. There was some unsupervised mixed-martial arts in the living room, and in the back yard the great ritual of "cutting beers in half with a machete." What started as a feat of immaturity is one cycle away from tradition.

I don't know what our neighbors thought about this, especially as it was 3am and things eventually moved on from cans to bottles, which is a lot less safe and a lot more messy; but we cleaned things up good in the morning, and it probably won't happen again soon. Hopefully there are no hard feelings.

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More BART WiFi

This is like my favorite thing now. I'm carrying a kitchen sink through the mass-transit system, wearing a pretty hipter-looking outfit and my big bug sunglasses. People seem to get a good goof off of it, so that's nice.

It's St. Patrick's Day! "No nay never no more." Yeah right. I'm pretty beat after a hell of a couple weeks, but at the same time it feels like I need to push it even further, really cut loose the wild rover. Trying to stay young forever? Well why not? The alternative is just to give up and grow old, and I'm ultimately really not into that.

Ok. Here's the train.

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Big Win On Capital Hill

I've been bored with politics and focusing on other things lately. The primaries are a drone for the most part. This, however, deserves attention.

House Democrats stood strong against immunity for Telecom companies that were helping with illegal wiretaps, and established meaningful oversight for domestic survalence going forward. Glenn Greewald explains:

bq. As impressive as the House vote itself was, more impressive still was the floor debate which preceded it. I can't recall ever watching a debate on the floor of either House of Congress that I found even remotely impressive -- until today. One Democrat after the next -- of all stripes -- delivered impassioned, defiant speeches in defense of the rule of law, oversight on presidential eavesdropping, and safeguards on government spying. They swatted away the GOP's fear-mongering claims with the dismissive contempt such tactics deserve, rejecting the principle that has predominated political debate in this country since 9/11: that the threat of the Terrorists means we must live under the rule of an omnipotent President and a dismantled constitutional framework.

This is a win for justice, but it's all the more exciting in that it happened because Democrats (including a number of newbies) broke through the miazma of "war on terra" fear. Nice work. Feels good, don't it? Winning is fun! Slapping down a shitty president with bad ideas is cool! Let's do more like this!

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BART has WiFi

Sitting here in the Embarcaderro station with 10 minutes to burn, and I whipped out the old lappy for to do a little writing. Whaddya know: Wifi!


Three days later I'm in the BART again, and I haven't update the site. Shoot. Here's the short and sweet:

  • Housewarming on saturday!
  • Clutch is pretty awesome live, and the cello/piano player from Murder By Death is superhot.
  • Saw Mike Connery last night on his book tour. Was real good to catch up.
  • Work is taking up a lot of my time, but generally going well; we're getting out of our ruts and making some moves.

And here comes the train...

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Two Butters and a Cheese

So after we got back from the show -- which we left a little too quickly, forgetting my credit card and possibly a couple phone numbers from dancefloor neighbors -- we faced the consequences of a crisis of collective action: "bachelor fridge" presented a problem.

We'd shouted and clapped and stomped and sang along with the band for a good hour and a half, which works up a powerful appetite, but we returned home with nothing to eat other than a small amount of (delicious) Indian food from 'round the corner, which was quickly consumed.

Crisis stimulates the creative imagination, so I invented some Mexican crepes, basically:

  • Flour tortillas
  • Peanut butter
  • Cream cheese
  • Butter (just a bit)
  • Jam (just a bit)

Make up your tortillas with the PB and CC, folded over like quesadillas and then fried in a cast iron skillet with a little butter, flipping two or three times. Serve with a spoonful of jam for dipping.

It's not a meal by any stretch of the imagination -- sort of the culinary equivalent to pornography, really -- but for that kind of moment it's perhaps the right kind of food. Certainly hit the spot after a jumpin' night out.

I'm starting to get a good feeling for things going forward. Change has been needed for some time, but I'm beginning to grasp the specifics, the habits of action to change, cease, institute, etc.

More on all this later, I'm sure. But I figured I'd share the recipe.

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Back From Boston

Back from Boston. It was good. Exhausting. Challenging. Inspiring. The buzz is back! I'll be writing some of it up for the workblog, and maybe my own unprofessional gonzo notes on being an open-source entrepreneur here.

I've said recently that it often feels like there's not much of interest in my life to relate on ye olde blog, and certainly it's not the same as the wild and free days when I started. But we can't all stay in post-9/11 pre-hipster-supersaturation bohemian BKLYN forever. The sentiment I've expressed that nothing interesting is happening is, I think, a sign of low-grade depression. Which I hope will turn itself around with Spring Awakening and maybe a little vacation or guilt-free sex or something.

Anyway, I'm going out to The Devil Makes Three tonight. Here they are from back in the day:

Ahh, the 330 club. That show is what originally tipped me towards moving to Humboldt County, you know. We got all het up on PBR and Psilocybin and raged away in a construction garage cum concert hall, tailgating in the gravel lot outside, K-Dawg on parking patrol and me and Mark telling those girls from Redding to "put some south in your mouth" (which is what all the BBQ signs say in Tennessee). I never did that evening justice in writing, just another throwaway post rife with misspellings. Ah me. Two years just flies right by and it still feels the same.

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The Con is On

Overnight flight to Boston. DrupalCon. My third. The first one was kind of magical, back in 2006, Vancouver BC, getting the real buzz for the first time. I haven't been able to explain very well to my non-geek peers how awesome this software project is, which is a shame. Because it really is pretty rad.

To wit: some Belgan computer science students started working on a system for their dorm-hall community to use to stay in touch after graduation. Eight years later the open-source software, Drupal, is powering hundreds of thousands of websites, including bigshots like The Onion, MTV UK and others. But that's not even the cool part.

The truly awesome thing about this project is that it's been built by literally thousands of people. For free. There are a core cadre of a few hundred or so coders who do a lot of this, most of them (like me) making a living off it in one way or another, and an even smaller group of legendary developers at the center of all of it. But it happens openly, as a community affair, and it works in large part people people are friends over it, taking pleasure from working on something together.

This is what open-source is really all about to me. It's the recognition that programming is an act of creativity, and the growth of communities of creators around their project. It's no coincidence that many Drupalists have artistic backgrounds; it has many aspects of a theatrical troup, of a band.

This is a kind of cultural production that's really new. Never before have people been able to be intellectually creative in this way and on this scale, and it's deeply gratifying to be a part of this scene, exploring a new mode of association and camaraderie, proving that the ethos of a community can outperform that of a corperation.

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