Chuqui 3.0: It’s my birthday and I’ll blog if I want to…..:
A quick introduction is in order here:
Today (July 5) is my birthday. This specific birthday is #48. It’s a good time to bring public thoughts and plans that have long been in process; if not today, then when?
I’ve been involved in a period of self-examination, of introspection; rethinking my life, what I want, how I live it, and what’s important to me.
In some ways, this period has been going on for 30 years — some of the key things I’ve been dealing with date back to high school (and — sigh — if it’s 2006, it’s time for the 30-freaking-year high school reunion, as if I needed more reminders that time marches on). But in reality, I can date the start of this back to a specific thing: Foo Camp 1. Not that Tim O’Reilly is at fault; more a catalyst. It’s just that was the first time when “all of this” was first noticeable to me. What is “all of this”? That is part of the discussion coming.
Over the last few weeks and months, Laurie and I have been doing a lot of talking about where we’re going, and what’s important to us. She’s spent the last few months re-aligning her life with some of what she’s decided she wants to focus on moving forward, and I’ve started that as well. I spent time looking at how to restructure the blog to better represent my new view of what it represents to (and for) me — only to keep running into the feeling that it wasn’t right.
What’s this “chuqui 3.0″ thing? I realize I’m entering a new phase in my life. “Version 1.0″, the original model, arrived in 1958, and lasted into my 20′s.then I got married, and ask anyone, getting married changes you, grows you up, re-arranges your priorities — as it should. And I’ve been in this “release 2.0″ version, with mostly minor revisions, ever since (actually, I think the “Married to Laurie” release deserves at least a 2.5″
if you read the blog, you know that back in April, I got sick.
I’ve been referring to that incident in April as my two minute warning; and I’ve tried to take it very seriously. I’ve been lucky — no sign of diabetes, no sign of heart problems, no sign of anyhting more serious than a lot of extra weight and cranky knees. I’m not so stupid that I believe I can depend on that continuing without some changes on my own — but to be honest, until we work out the stress issue, the rest is really tough.
(editorial note: and about here, the posting stopped, because I had to either lie, or wait. but since I can now discuss this news, I can actually continue this discussion….)
The work situation is now being worked out; simply making the decision did wonders on the stress. It’s funny, in a strange way, how someone can go from thinking of himself as a “lifer” to being almost unemployed in six weeks. I’ve started talking to people I know, and networking, and I’m sure something will show up.
I’m definitely looking forward to a break, though, and Laurie and I are talking about taking some time and headed (where else) north — probably do the grand tour of Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and Victoria. We’re also noodling with perhaps a few days detour into Osoyoos and Kelowna, or perhaps up to Campbell River or even Port Hardy. Or maybe we’ll go find an island and hide on it for a few days, since I won’t need to be on beeper patrol, just in case.
After that? Get back to work, get going on a lot of long-delayed projects and things I’ve wanted to do. It wasn’t long ago that it felt like being 30 was old; now, we’re looking at age 55 and thinking it’s not so far away (only 7 years; how time flies). We both see that point in our lives where we are thinking we’ll want to slow down a bit, and we both want to, at some point, get out of Silicon Valley.
We can see the point where we’re not going to want a “regular gig” any more — but I sure am not interested in “retiring”, not in the classic sense. But if I’m looking to shift into a different type of career in a few years, now is the time to start planning for that.
There are two things I’ve decided are possible future directions for me:
One obvious thing is my photography. Beyond that fact that using the photography to get out of the office and away from computers did me wonders when I was able to do it, I see photography as a distinct possibility for generating income. that’s one reason I’m starting a separate photography blog (Imaging Reality), also. It’s not that the universe needs another digital photography blog (the universe probably doesn’t, in fact), but I want a place to showcase my work, and focus on writing about photography. And if it helps generate some assignments or sales, great. If not, still great. But if I don’t start building a portfolio now — it won’t be an option in a few years.
Ditto writing. Again, I’m not sure the universe really needs yet another geek writing yet another computer book on yet another computer topic that’s obsolete two months after publication. And I’m frankly not sure I want to write a computer book; I’ve had opportunities in the past, and I haven’t pursued them. But other aspects of the industry — copyediting, technical editing, for instance — might be possibilities.
Another thing I’m taking a close look at is restarting my fiction writing; the novel I gave up on years ago still seems do-able after all these years, and I find myself getting a little itchy to get back in the field. Too early to say for sure, but I’m considering it. I don’t regret putting my writing on hold for work — not one bit — but things change, and you never really lose the urge, you just sublimate it to other priorities.
One other aspect of writing we’re looking at more seriously is a project we’ve been trying to get off the ground that’s now going to be allowed to happen. In the Pacific Northwest, there’s a magazine called Northwest Palate, which is about food, restaurants, wine, and dining in the Pacific Northwest (roughly Portland North to Vancouver and Victoria). It’s a lovely magazine, and the Bay Area has nothing remotely like it.
It’s our feeling that — and this isn’t intended as a slap at San Francisco or the North Bay — that if you live in the southern part of the Bay Area, there’s very little going on where you NEED to head for the northern parts of this region any more. The Silicon Valley area has been improving significantly in the last few years in terms of quality of restaurant, and if you’re a cooking geek, it’s hard to think of a set of ingredients that aren’t just as available down here (I would like a really good, kick-ass cheese shop, but Andronico’s gets me my artisan goat cheeses, so I’m happy).
Silicon Valley Living is still in the planning stages; I’ve been trying to decide the best platform for it, and we’re working over exactly what it’ll cover. In terms of coverage, we know it’s going to cover both dining out and dining in; it’s going to cover wine (but not in a snobby way — wine is for drinking and enjoying, not obsessing over); we also want to cover entertainment and travel options for people who live in the area (both day trips and regional ones; see, for instance, my recent notes on going birding down in Morro Bay. We’re also trying to decide if the world needs another calendar of farmer’s markets and art&wine festivals, or not. Probably not.
The name may change. It’s rather — staid — and I haven’t finished my checks on conflicts, but so far, surprisingly enough, it seems clear. The platform is undecided. I’ve been going back and forth on whether to use Drupal, or use Typepad with some off-site extensions for things like a group forum (typepad with benefits? Oh, never mind). But today, the Socialtext folks released an open source version of their system, and that really intrigues me, because you get the advantages of the wiki format, without the geekiness that I think would inhibit contributions from a non-trival part of the potential audience. I think it bears further research (and wikis are definitely going mainstream, fast — that’s one of three separate wiki-based product announcements I’ve seen this week….)
There are a number of ulterior motives for doing this: first, it looks like fun; second, it gives us an excuse to go eat at restaurants (and talk about it), or cook interesting things (and talk about it), and go interesting places (and talk about it) — and excuses to do fun stuff are more fun than excuses to avoid being yelled at, any day; a third reason is that it will help us build a portfolio of work that might help us break into the “lifestyle” writing market, whether it’s Sunset magazine or Travel & Leisure or whatever. And frankly, I consider writing 1000 words on Morro Bay a hell of a lot more interesting than 15,000 on JSP database access protocols. But just barely.
(have you noticed that I never seem to be involved in *A* thing, but always in multiple things? And that no thing is, as Alton Brown might say, a single-tasker? Life is too short to not multi-task; the trick is to do so for the right reasons, and expending the appropriate time and energy)
Silicon Valley Living will be less blog, more community; it’s aimed at among other things, the old ba.food crowd and people like that who are looking for a place to hang out a little more modern and interesting than Google Groups. A little Northwest Palate, a little Sunset Magazine, a lot of Silicon Valley — but not the parts with cube walls and code reviews.
One final thing we’re working on is a new, shared blog for our hockey writing (and, I keep hoping, Laurie’s hockey photography). it’d be running now, except, well, the real world keeps borrowing my free time. Besides, it’s off-season, and hockey is quiet. Right? Yeah, right. some off-season!
So now it’s finally time to start rolling out some of the things we’ve wanted to do for a while. I certainly don’t regret the work I’ve done at Apple on this project; but I’m looking forward to getting my life back out of the vault where it’s been kept in storage for me and making use of it again…