"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Well There's Only So Many Ways You Can Give Your Loving To Me...

...But I'd give up my soul for just one of them now...

It's been a packed week down in the Bay. Wheeling and dealing, painting and sanding, whooping and shouting; the whole nine yards.

Went and saw The Avett Brothers on Friday night. They're pretty great showmen as expected, and I got me a t-shirt -- a much more effective way of supporting working musicians than paying for their music, btw -- but I felt the concert could have been more. Slims is not my favorite place to see a show, and the crowd vibe was a little off. That and I had great expectations, which is generally unfair and I try not to do for the sake of giving artists a chance, but c'est la vie. That's what you get for being real good.

They were touring on 2007's Emotionalism, which is a great album, the first one I heard -- coming via Pickathon and Chelsea late last summer -- and probably the most natural cultural fit for SF. But having been exposed to their entire catalog, I celebrate the mo' twangy stuff a bit more fully than that which leans indie. The crowd was on the other side of that leaning, didn't seem to know a lot of the other/older stuff, and just wasn't as lively as I'd hoped.

I suppose I was looking for something really wild and free, like when we saw The Devil Makes Three at the Starry Plough last month. That was hot and packed and foot-stomping scream-along-singing until you got light in the head and then another song would start up that was even better and more worth jumping around to; lather-rinse-repeat. By contrast, the crowd's energy at this gig made it tough to even break a sweat. I also felt the encore was a bit too scripted, and there wasn't sufficient demand in the room to draw out a spontaneous second round.

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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 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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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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Notes From the 99th Percentile

Somewhere on the edge of the bell curve is the girl for me.

Notwithstanding the fact that it's the intellectual equivalent of cocaine cut with baby-laxative -- which let me tell you really isn't any kind of fun, appealing though it may seem -- there's lately been a new spasm of comment around the crypto-racist tome The Bell Curve, a book that tries very hard to create an intellectual edifice in support of timeworn prejudices about who's smart and who's not based on skin-tone and "cultural background." Poo on that.

This isn't a post about politics though, so I'll leave the debunking behind the links above. Rather, it is a jumping off point to talk about the personal conundrums of intelligence, or more generally "capacity for life." This is a post that's filed under "authentic experience, hubris, love" and "juicy." So then, lets get to it.

First principles. Statistical metrics of measuring human capacity and/or achievement are suspect. Highly. At the same time, it's also undeniable that there are differences in people's capabilities and accomplishments, especially borne out over time. Equality is an ideal, something to be pursued in principle but impossible, even counter-productive, to enforce in practice. Different people do different things, and this is Ok, and probably Good.

Disclaimers aside, I've got good stats. Standardized general testing consistently puts me in the 99th percentile. That's one in a hundred, one of 10,000,000+ in China, nowhere unique or even really special, but certainly someone who's "talented and gifted," as they say.

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I Been This Way Ten Years To The Day

Like most of my peers, I don't much like valentines day. It tends to be an artificial creator of stress, unwanted and advantage-taking. I resent it conceptually, even though in practice it has worked out on occasion.

A decade ago a friend of mine drove me from NYC to New England where my then-girlfriend was going to an all-girls college. The first love of my life. That turned out to be a very good weekend, the cold brisk Massachusetts air and light through leaveless trees, frozen ground and beautiful old architecture and heavy quilted blankets. Probably the best valentines to-date.

Five years ago I went on a first date, out with an artsy clever brash girl, a self-described bad girl, a girl who brought me gifts from the dollar store: this garish yellow notepad I still have (and use) today, and a bar of soap called stud which set the tone but was promptly lost. We had drinks at Beauty Bar, and it was the night before the big protests against the Iraq war. That one worked out alright too, even if we didn't stop the war from happening.

This year I stayed home, begging off from seeing the cute soccer-playing girl I've gone out with a few times in the past couple months, probably signaling finis to that going-out. I didn't intend for that to be the case, but the tone of her voice strongly suggested displeasure at our scheduling difficulties, or more specifically my lack of attention and follow-through in that regard.

It's something I have some experience with, the way that women get gradually fed up with me and my half-heartedness. It's not something to be proud of, but I've learned to recognize the scorn this inevitably brings, even in trace amounts.

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You Can Find Me In The Club

The new house is called The Cornell Club, which is a nod to the Girth's parents and their young days as Berkeley grad students. It's also a touch classier than "Man House." I like it. We'll have a warming party in about a month, which I'll send out invites to in a while. Hopefully some girls will show up.

I think there's a lot of potential here. I'll have a more or less set-up room in a bit, and it's going to be open to our friends and extended family any time I'm back in Humboldt or otherwise on the road. It's a little like my coworkers' love of CouchSurfing but more private.

We've got big maps, a garden started in the back yard and a huge amount of meat in the freezer. Nick and Luke kee[ a chess game in progress, and we sample Mao's little red book for inspiration from time to time. This week we discovered the threat to the revolution posed by "the petit-bourgeois and their individualistic aversion to discipline." That's a keeper.

Last night we had Interesting Times running a raucus poker game with four public defenders, another law school buddy, and myself. I managed to hold my own against men on leave from their wives -- determined to make the most of it, they were -- and managed to break even in spite of the massive quantities of high-quality scotch on the scene. This is better than I usually do at cards, and it was a nice unique way to spend an evening.

Things are shaping up. I remain, as ever, vaguely unsatisfied, ritually fatigues, and plagued with concerns that I am becoming -- to quote another tired old hack -- "all dead inside." Beautiful weather helps. I think getting back into a physical exercise routine will also. My foot is still a little messed up, but it's to the point where I just need to do my thing and be sore. I can feel my body jiggle when I go down stairs; my whole system is over-ripe, ready for some strong and steady running.

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