Miles’ first time kayaking solo – Kauai 2010. So serene – this is my happy place. Would return at the drop of a hat, any time.
In Sept. 2013 I re-uploaded a bunch of old video to a new YouTube account, and found that the quality of the uploaded versions has been dramatically improved over the “old” YouTube. Hated to lose all of the old view counts, but it’s worth it for this much bump in quality.
This was originally posted in 12/08; revisiting it here just because it’s so much fun.
Many kids have a secret world they keep in their heads. It often starts very early, then slowly fades from interest as they grow up.
Miles’ was called, at first, “Nowhereland,” but at some point the name suddenly changed to “Ziso.” Not sure why. The Universe of Ziso was the topic of so many family walks and car trips throughout his early childhood – we’d pass the time by asking him “What are schools like in Ziso?” or “What do people eat in Ziso?,” and he would either make things up on the spot or pull things out of this vast internal encyclopedia he had constructed in his mind. To him, Ziso was a web of interconnected factoids, characters, strange physics, animals, personalities, jobs, edibles, transportation networks, and relationships.
Miles had a job in Ziso – as head archivist at an organization that studied a long-past Zisoan war. And he had a son in Ziso (but no wife). His son’s name was Uber (whom he himself had birthed!). Uber was just a couple years older than real-world Miles, making him a perfect alternate-universe analog for himself. Zisoans only eat goo puff balls, which are large orbs that grow on trees, filled with a gooey protein. Zisoans only go to school when they feel like it. Zisoans have everything they need and don’t use money.
For the past week, I’ve been mulling an offer to write another book (“Intro to Python Programming” for Penguin Press). It’s been more than a decade since my last book, and I’d really enjoy the opportunity, but am trying to get better about saying “no” to things, stop pushing myself so hard all the time, and to start having “margins of life” to enjoy like normal folk.
After a lot of thought, I just politely declined; can’t face the prospect of six months of deadlines and lost weekends. At one point, an offer like this would have seemed like part of living a juicy life; now it feels like just another thing that distracts from it. Hoping it was the right decision.
When we experienced Kauai for the first time in 2010, I was so blown away – and found the experience so transformative – that I spent three days writing a blog post about it when we returned.
Just returned from a 2nd trip, but no way am I going to do that much writing again, even though I’ve got just as much to say :) Instead, just spent a day combing through 2,000 photos (mine, my wife’s and my father’s), and whittled down the set to around 200.
For best results, click the full-screen slideshow option.
A few highlights:
Scot and Miles, Kauai 2013
Since my career to date had been as a web tech generalist (i.e. one person wearing all the hats), I found the experience incredibly illuminating. And yet… the project and I had some “creative differences” which ultimately resulted in me leaving the department at the end of May.
I’ve spent the past month working on personal and freelance projects, studying, and job hunting. I longed to work with journalists again, and really missed working with Django, which still feels like the most natural and effective way to build highly customized data-driven web sites I’ve ever encountered. At the same time, I wanted to make sure that my work had some kind of higher purpose – I wanted to be part of something with social and political impact.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find anything on campus that really fit my requirements, and finally made the tough decision to start looking off-campus.
Today, I’m thrilled to say that I believe I’ve found the perfect fit, as a full-time Django developer at the Center for Investigative Reporting in Berkeley.
At The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), we believe journalism that moves citizens to action is an essential pillar of democracy. Since 1977, CIR has relentlessly pursued and revealed injustices that otherwise would remain hidden from the public eye. Today, we’re upholding this legacy and looking forward, working at the forefront of journalistic innovation to produce important stories that make a difference and engage you, our audience, across the aisle, coast to coast and worldwide.
CIR recently merged with the Bay Citizen and California Watch, two excellent journalism organizations that have had myriad overlapping projects with the J-School over the years. In fact, walking around the CIR offices today, I’m meeting former J-School students and instructors I haven’t seen in years – kind of a homecoming!
I’ll be enthusiastically starting work in mid-July. Yes, it’s tough to say goodbye to the University, but it really is an ideal evolutionary step for me right now.
Very interesting conversation with my 10-yr-old son tonight about karma, gods, and belief systems. He was describing an aspect of his imaginary world Ziso, which he’s been constructing in his head (and in a wiki) for the past five years.
Me: What kind of economy do they have in Ziso?
He: None. But if you do good deeds, Zisocoins just appear in your backpack the next day.
Me: Who puts them there?
He: One of the Ziso gods.
Me: Tell me more about religion in Ziso.
He: There is no religion in Ziso.
Me: But you said there were gods!
He: Yeah, but you don’t need religion to have gods. In Ziso everyone knows they exist. The gods are real facts, so there’s no need for belief. And since there’s no need for belief, there’s no need for religion.
Wonderful, wonderful movie. What is happiness? What makes us happy? Probably not what you think. Spoiler: Your predisposition to happiness is:
- 50% Genetic
- 40% Being social, being kind, exercise, and slowing the hell down
- 10% Achieving success / accumulating money / status / fame
So many great stories in this, don’t even know where to begin. Couldn’t help thinking about the stranger on the frisbee golf course today who took us under his wing, gave us expensive discs to keep, tips and pointers. He wanted us to be happy. And in doing that, he made himself happy.