Baseball (81 of 90)

In the years when my father and I couldn’t speak to each other, we always had baseball.

It’s not an uncommon story I suspect. Fathers and sons play catch together. Or they did. Maybe they still do. I can’t say for sure.

But my father and I did.

It carried us through the times when I realized that he was simply human and not super-human, when my secret life pulled me away from the family, and countless other specific times that are mine and his to share.

Whenever I see a game, or listen to a game, or think about a game, my thoughts drift to our time together. Playing in the backyard. The never-ending stream of grounders he would hit to me on the driveway in the summer rain.

***

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Atheist, Skeptic and Geek (80 of 90)

Skeptics are less interested in what people think but in how they think.

There is an overlap with the more assertive atheism which followed 9/11. Like atheists, skeptics treat as patronising and contemptible the cynical modern belief that you should not examine religion or alternative medicines because the simple-minded and uninformed find comfort in them.

But you do not have to be an atheist to be a skeptic, merely commit to the free examination of evidence. This modest ambition is surprisingly potent.

Now charlatans will know to beware the geeks, The Guardian

***

I had a discussion earlier this week about facts. And trust. And information.

Naturally I turned to my annoyance with the world of journalism, particularly with those people mistake their own opinions about technology with actual facts about technology. Specifically the history of communities and business online.

We live in an age where people are constantly worried about the disconnect between facts and opinion (a concern journalists use when denigrating the blogosphere), and yet I am buried in just such backwash every time I find myself discussing this. And in that sense, I guess I do understand why journalists worry about such things.

The irony in this discussion is that the journalists very point is exactly the argument the world uses when ignoring them. Despite what my profession thinks, what we are experts at is telling stories. Not at figuring out truth. Or fact. Or reality.

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Out There (79 of 90)

The dream was always a little cabin, in the middle of nowhere, away from humanity, where I couldn’t cause anymore damage.

I can see the cabin, a small 2 room place. The bedroom and living area separated by a door. One story. I have never much cared for two. It’s too difficult to escape. Too easily trapped. A kitchen with enough elbow room to really get down to it. A fireplace in the living room. And woods.

I have known this place in my head for years, a place far removed from the people I know, the live I have lived and the world around me.

I have known it because in this place, with nothing around me and no people to harm, I can write and drink and exist until it’s time to not anymore.

***

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Speeches + Talks (76 of 90)

I am asked to speak to groups regularly.

This is something that, years ago, I thought would be very cool. When I first attended the South by Southwest Interactive and Music conferences in Austin in 1994 or 1995 (I can’t ever remember when I began going), I remember sitting in the panel sessions day-dreaming about the time when I’d be asked to do that.

I never imagined I wouldn’t get to do. I also never imagined it would be anything other than amazing.

Until I started doing it.

My job at Wired afforded me an interesting stage and perspective, one that the people who put on conferences were intrigued by. I began speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas and South by Southwest in Austin and the College Music Journal conference in New York City. I even had the chance to speak in London (although I can’t remember the name of the conference.)

In terms of my career, these were amazing opportunities.

In terms of my mental health, not so much. Because, as it turns out, I really dislike public speaking.

***

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Tides (74 of 90)

I’m started and stopped this blog post several times in the last few minutes. I rarely have this problem, but today’s been filled with activity from start to finish. I’ve had precious little time to think about what I wanted to write.

This is a good thing. Mostly.

It’s good because the past few days have been filled with the joyous angst of activity, my insides buzzing not with fear and trepidation but excitement and promise. I’m not sure why, although if I was a betting man – and I am not – I would wager it had to do with getting outside of my own head.

I’ve spent glorious hours outside in the sun, chatting with former students about their lives forthcoming and their adventures behind. It is, after all, that time of year. The end is near for many of them and they are contemplative. And I must also realize that their days here on campus are numbered. That my influence – what little it has been – will fade. That I will fade.

These are our last days together. So I enjoy them for what they are.

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7:53 (73 of 90)

23 months is a long time.

We’ve covered that fertile ground before. I’m sure we’ll cover it again.

Today, though, it was all about 7:53. Because today was my timed mile. Not that I have it planned and plotted out. I know my workout regiment well enough to tinker with it. Even during the dark drunk years, I kept to that. Mostly. (Still managed to be 200 pounds three different times in my life so imagine where I was heading if I hadn’t worked out.)

My goal for this semester – for the first part of The Year of Health – was to quit smoking (check: 66 days and counting) and get back into running shape. I ditched my lifting/running routine, at least until I’m back in fighting shape.

Instead, I decided to focus on getting my wind back. To aim for another marathon, this time without all the smoking and the drinking to get in the way. To re-shape what has un-shaped.

(Although truth be told, I’m pretty stoked that I ran a marathon in the midst of my epic drinking disaster FAIL in San Francisco. If, you know, one can be proud of such things. But I digress…)

To do that, I’m training with a great workout recommended by Lance Armstrong’s trainer. One that I’ve used before. One that switches between long slow runs and mid-range fartleks. One that ends with monthly timed runs.

My goal, before I leave for Austin: 7:30 second mile.

***

In high school, I ran cross country.

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The Traveler (72 of 90)

Travelers find a way to each other.

One of my former students just returned from a semetser in Europe, and we had an unhappily happy reunion. There are some people simply meant for the road, and some people who aren’t. She is definitely the former.

In fact, she’s leaving again for another overseas adventure in just a few months. Summer school in Ireland.

She reminds me of another former student of mine, one who is currently somewhere on the other side of the world. I honestly can’t keep track of her. The last I knew she was somewhere in Asia. Or maybe New Zealand. Or possibly Australia.

I wish I could say that I’ve had any profound influence on either one of these former students’ lives. But that would not be true. They are spirits of the road. Created and crafted long before they ever reached me. In need of no knowledge or information I could give them.

I didn’t recognize that in either of them until they were gone.

It’s hard to recognize The Road in people until they are there.

***

In just a few weeks, John and Aimee will arrive from Berlin.

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Like Tiers in the Rain (7o of 90)

There was a panel several years ago at South by Southwest Interactive conference about working in the cultural gutter. The idea: tales from people who’d come up through non-traditional technologically-based paths in traditional companies.

I’d like to tell that I was on that panel, but I honestly can’t remember. Nearly two decades of the conference and what I’ve done, what I’ve sat through and what I’ve just heard about all mesh into one.

Regardless. I have a kinship with that panel. (If I remember correctly, Cory Doctorow spoke about being a science fiction writer in the literary community, which is likely why I attended. Cory being one of those people I genuinely like and learn from every time we speak.)

My chosen professions – journalism and academia – have a disdain for technologists and emerging technologies. It’s a subtle disdain at times, word choices that slip out easily and are agreed upon by the masses; other times it’s more openly hostile.

But the message is always clear: you are only here because the world is changing.

We are not, we gutter dwellers, welcome.

***

I’ve been contemplating my next steps through the world, and along the way, thinking quite a bit about Larry Lessig.

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