The Wind

The past couple weeks in SF have been windy. I feel like this is usually something I don’t mind but lately it makes me wish for escape. It’s a strange thing to have a weather phenomenon move you nearly to frustrated tears, but there it is.

It comes from a few factors, of course.

The tree outside my bedroom window constantly scratches the glass making all manner of noises all day and night. Whether it is the sound of plastic crumpling, metal scraping on metal, or somebody opening my door, the thing just doesn’t stop. Wakes me up startled at night and I am generally a heavy sleeper. I’ve talked to the landlord about it, so hopefully it will get trimmed soon.

My hair is a little too long and gets in my eyes. My usual pleasant and relaxing day activity is walking through my neighborhood reading a book on my way to lunch. The wind constantly blows my hair into my eyes while I am trying to read. Not relaxing. Not pleasant. I’ve taken to wearing hats more often but am considering cutting my hair.

It just makes noise all the time. Not soft breezy noise, but rather gusty random white noise. My house is old, has rattling windows, chimneys. Shuddering noises are the result of every gust.

As I am sitting at the park writing this in warm sunlight, it blows chilling through my sweater, flaps the edges of the blanket I am on, and I’ve pretty much given up on my hair.

Go away, wind, you’re not welcome here anymore.

P. S. Currently home and wind is not blowing, blogging miracle?


Yes, I Have A Mustache

Neither my first nor my last, but at current I have the largest mustache I have ever had. There are many pros and cons to the whole thing, but I’d have to say the biggest thing you notice about having a mustache is that 90% of your conversations with people are about your mustache.

All the time.

The number of times I’ve heard “that’s getting long enough for you to wax,” “you should totally wax that thing -little twisty finger motion-,” and “you should curl that,” is beyond counting. To respond: yes my mustache is long, I do wax it occasionally and I don’t like how it looks curled.

Just thought I’d share that. Won’t change anything, but there it is.

How To Get Banned From PyCon

PyCon was great for me this year. Before the conference, I had made a pact with myself to go to more talks, be less jaded, and to talk to more new programmers. All those were things I had trouble with last year and this year was so much more inspiring for me because I changed my attitude. But this isn’t the tale of all the great conversations I had, it is the story of how I got banned from the next two years of PyCon, I’ll let you make up your mind as to whether it was justified and what it means.

Some background on myself. I’ve been going to PyCon for 4 of the last 5 years, EuroPython for some years before that, and plenty of other open source conferences. I’m a loud guy. I tend to make friends quickly because I am honest and generous but I also tend to lose my filter after prolonged drinking and find humor on the edge of acceptability rather… humorous. I share these traits with many of the attendees I know, but there are also many I politely try to steer clear of because I know I will annoy or offend them.

This year, like every other, involved much late night revelry but to my knowledge there weren’t any other incidents besides mine that necessitated any serious consequences. I’d also like to point out that those organizers that dealt with me (Jesse and Jacob) were the model of tact and respect and answered every question I asked, certainly the whole affair was as difficult for them as for myself.

On to the Testing in Python BoF, the scene of our story. This event has been occurring for years and in recent ones has become somewhat infamous for attracting a very… enthusiastic crowd of hecklers. For the most part the attendees appear to be in on the joke with many humorous presentations and many bottles of whiskey and beer making the rounds. This year, by just about any measure, you could say it got out of hand.

I haven’t gotten completely clear stories on the first infraction, and many people’s memories of the event are hazy, mine included, but at some point in this scene I made two mistakes: I shouted a heckle at a female friend of mine that upset some bystanders and possibly her at the time, and I lit up a pipe to smoke something that is legal in some states but certainly not in a crowded hotel event space.

On the offensive remark I have very few details, but those I was given was that it was something like “you’re the hottest.” That doesn’t sound very bad to me but I suppose that could have been a polite paraphrasing of what I said. I don’t condone those actions and without more specifics I can’t really compare it to the various other sorts of heckles being thrown around. I am also apologetic for any offense caused to my friend and the bystanders. I know I can be testing of people’s limits.

Towards smoking in a crowded event space, obviously that was a dumb decision on my part and I am glad that to the best of my knowledge it didn’t result in any fines or legal trouble for the conference (though I am sure it still required action on their part). To add some perspective, however, the heavy drinking of outside alcohol is also not allowed. I realize a line needs to be drawn somewhere, and in this case that line was chosen at me.

There was a lot of talk this year about the conference’s Code of Conduct. It’s goal is to make sure the conference remains open, welcoming and safe for all attendees, plenty of which are children. I think everybody agrees on the goals of the document, but sometimes the rules can be difficult to interpret.

For example, during one of the talks on Sunday a woman took a photograph of two men who had been joking to each other by lightly sexualizing some computer jargon and she tweeted about it citing their remarks as offensive. I don’t have any more specifics about it than anybody else who saw the tweet, so I can’t judge for myself how inappropriate they may have felt to me. However, some short time later the same woman tweeted positively about playing Cards Against Humanity, a game self-described as “despicable.”

If you’ve never seen or played Cards Against Humanity, it is a hilarious game that can easily be said to be inappropriate in any public setting. On one hand, deciding to join this aggressively offensive card game is a choice, where as who sits next to you in a conference talk is not. Then again, this game was played every night of the conference (and likely is being played as I write this) and anybody who used the hotel lobby’s bathroom next to where it was set up might easily overhear offensive terminology. Probably even more so than by joining in at the BoF where so much of this story culminated.

Gray areas. Guys are pretty likely to make dick jokes when in the company of like-minded individuals, how far from conference grounds should they be before that becomes okay? Is it only a problem if somebody hears and is offended? Humans are part of this process to make these difficult decisions, hopefully in as unbiased a way as possible, but humans don’t always agree.

I’m not fighting the decision to ban me, though I’d love to continue going to PyCons, but I do question it and what it means for people like me. If anything, I hope talking about it reduces these sorts of incidents without anybody feeling like their rights are being reduced as well.

P.S. There’s an official response, appears to just be making sure their position was official on the substance use.

P.P.S. Apropos Penny Arcade post from yesterday.

Injury Recap

Quick injury story for those interested and asking:

i got my tire caught in the muni tracks. i was going rather fast downhill (sanchez to 17th) and made a left turn too widely. i’ve made the turn a hundred times but i was drunk so over-confident that my angles would work out… they didn’t. spent a day on the couch feeling like shit and the next day a good friend drove me around to dr appointments all day for x-rays, ct scans, etc. gist is that i have a fracture in my elbow (doesn’t really hurt that much and i have decent range of motion, but i can’t really rotate my arm comfortably like one has to to make your hand flat on a keyboard) and apparently a few small fractures in my face (eye/temple area, makes it hard to chew, squint, laugh, that sort of stuff and swelly, though that’s gone down a lot, also makes my snot bloody).

i’m “prescribed” large doses of advil for the pain and the swelling (the stuff works pretty well when you take way more than the “maximum” dose), wearing a sling as much as possible, some antibiotics to keep the bleedy sinus parts from getting infected (to be taken every 6 hours, which means i get to wake up at 6am every day for at least long enough to down a pill), but not really a lot else. once i figure out how to strip any personal info out of them, i’ll upload my x-rays and ct scans and give out a link for anybody into that sort of stuff.

oh, and a picture of my swolleny face


Many things take longer to do when you only have effective use of one arm. Typing, for example, or scooping ice cream (luckily eating ice cream is not very severely affected). I am learning this currently because I fractured some part of my elbow and my face in a bike accident earlier this week.

My arm actually seems like it will be significantly more usable soonish, at least it is feeling much much better than the first day after the accident. My face, it turns out, is the worse injury. Apparently I fractured something near my eye which is causing some amount of bleeding into my sinuses. Makes for gross tissues and I can’t comfortably open my mouth very much or sneeze, holy shit does sneezing hurt.

It apparently takes a while for this stuff to heal, so I’m settling in to a sedentary lifestyle for a little while. This is also the first significant bone-y injury I’ve had in my life so it’s giving me a little bit of a sense of mortality.

From One, Two

It can take a little while for certain kinds of feelings to catch up with me after a breakup. It’s been a few weeks now, so I suppose it is about time.

We’re adults now, we’ve learned to be honest when we care about someone, and we can look upon our dreams with sad eyes when they begin to fade. Still, we are rarely as strong as we appear from outside.

Obviously we survive, and we grow stronger, and we put up walls that we just have to tear down again, and if we’re lucky we learn something. Surely we aren’t fated to be repeat this cycle forever. Surely our caprices, selfishnesses, prides and insecurities will someday transform into their opposites.

Coping mechanisms: I have taught myself many, but writing was the first.

Albums not to listen to shortly after a breakup:

  • Tegan and Sera – Hearthrob

Albums to listen to shortly after a breakup:

  • Beck – Sea Change

America the Beautiful

Earlier today I asked a question on twitter, I wanted to know if there existed a mashup of something like Kayak’s lovely “Explore” interface and a listing of the random small-town events across the U.S. that I might want to go to. The idea being to get away for a weekend and see something unusual, relatively cheaply.

I found decent website and did a quick look through them and turned up this minimally curated list. States that didn’t make the cut were either California (where I live) or only had events that did not trigger any emotional response in me.

(If you have any suggestions from your small hometown, leave ’em in the comments.)




  • March, Cowgirl Up!, celebrating women in cowgirl stuff











  • October, Topsfield Fair agricultural fair, pig races, sand sculpture





New Hampshire

New Mexico

North Carolina




South Carolina

  • November, Chitlin Strug, food festival for chitlins, includes hawg-callin


  • April, Mule Day week long celebration of the mule





West Virginia



On Hold

Like many people, I dislike chores. My general approach to most things in life is to batch process things, I pile stuff up so that I can do it all once infrequently rather than doing it a little at a time. Usually this works pretty well, but every so often laziness overcomes responsibility, the system breaks down and I end up in holding pattern.

Over the years I’ve realized that my mood is very affected by my environment. When I have piles of dirty laundry and am wearing the shirts that I don’t particularly like, my mood switches to one where I am effectively writing off the day: I’m waiting for things to change before I start trying again.

It is a frustrating mood to be in, because by its nature it prevents change, as more work piles up the initial kick required to surmount the hill encourages one to put things off further, and onward it goes.

It’s a common pattern, probably a decent number of programmers run into it in their work lives: if you aren’t starting with the best footing, why start at all? A frequent example I’ve heard from many people is that since some piece of work will require a big chunk of time to complete, it isn’t even worth working on it until you are going to have that big piece of time uninterrupted.

Most of the time this is probably just an excuse, ammunition for procrastination. In reality many things probably don’t take as much time or effort as we remember them taking.

After procrastinating a while by reading wikipedia’s list of biases in judgement and decision making, I feel I should make a larger effort to remember overcoming that hill so that next time it doesn’t look so big.

It’s The Screamiest

A couple weekends back I participated in Art Hack Day with a bunch of neat people. If you’re unfamiliar, the idea is a weekend long hackathon “for hackers whose medium is art and artists whose medium is tech.” I had a bunch of ideas going in and tried to work with a few people but in the end only finished one of the projects. It’s a database of screams, with a phone interface. Meet Scream Phone.

The first goal was just to gather a bunch of screams so that other projects could use them as original content (the theme was “Lethal Software” so it seemed useful to have some screams available). In general I had the feeling of “if you build it, they’ll figure out how to use it,” and it worked. My gathered screams got used by the Noisebomb project.

When other projects fell through I decided to give the excellent Twilio API a shot and make a quick Google App Engine site to host it all. It also gave me a fun chance to spray paint all over a wall in an art gallery (a very satisfying experience).

It’s still running, so feel free to call in and add your personal scream to the database. You can get the code on my GitHub.

I Prefer Simple Gifts^W^WSocks

Receiving gifts is something I’m not particularly good at doing. I don’t look excited enough, I’ll often make comments that undermine the pleasure of the gifter, and in general I just don’t seem very grateful. Due to this, I tend to prefer simple, practical gifts that people don’t expect me to gush over and have an easy to point out use.

In the traditional sense, I am not an easy person to buy gifts for. People tend to want to give things that somebody has expressed interest in having, but I tend to immediately acquire everything I want when I first come across it. I’m a quick, effective shopper both online and in person and I put some effort into being up-to-date on the kinds of things that I might want, so finding me something I haven’t seen but want can be rather difficult.

(Towards alleviating some of that difficulty, I make a conscious effort not to buy all the things I want for myself during gift-giving seasons.)

Even before opening the gift I begin to feel nervous in the way one feels nervous for a dancer during their solo, I don’t want the gifter to have to respond to an awkward situation in which I am not as excited as they had hoped.

There are three kinds of gifts I usually receive:

One kind, the most nerve-wracking, are from people who know me well and are aware of the difficulty in finding me something new that I like but decide to try anyway. They’ve put extra effort into finding this gift and they really want a pay-off of excitement that I am terrible at providing.

The second kind are significantly easier to handle. They’ve come across some easy knick-knack that they felt I would enjoy, wrapped it up and gave it to me. The chances of me liking the knick-knack are still fairly slim, but at least they haven’t put any hopes and dreams behind it. The gift is casual and so is the response.

The third kind are the ones I like the best and the gifts they give fall into two categories, handmade (by the gifter) or simple basics.

For handmade gifts, pretty much anything goes, I love having things that a friend made, I love getting an excuse to think of them every time I use or notice what they made for me. I’ll keep the things forever, and I’ll keep them safe.

Simple basics are really what are easiest for me to receive. I can never have enough socks (size 10, quarter cut running socks, puma and adidas), if I could put on a new pair of socks every day for the rest of my life I think I’d be pretty damn happy. Underwear with random stuff on it (medium, boxer briefs with the shortest legs / trunks / briefs / brando briefs, from h&m / diesel / d&g / burberry / gucci) are great. Solid color American Apparel t-shirts (medium, crew / v / deep-v) are always useful. … And that’s kinda it.

So, when in doubt: socks. Eso si que es.