Failing at Temperance

Chris Miller posted a while ago about Benjamin Franklin’s thirteen virtues that he explains in his autobiography. I’ve been thinking about them a lot recently. Franklin cultivated a practice of rating himself each day on how he did well or poorly at embodying each virtue. There are a lot of web sites and apps and such to help a modern person do the same. I am not sure that practice is for me but I am trying to process something that is inline with my regular habits. I’ve been mulling over an essay on the non-programming traits and abilities key to success at professional software development. Franklin’s virtues seem like a good frame for some or all of that piece. I think there is also a series of posts for my other site exploring each on a more personal level. I have a nicely formatted copy I brought to keep at my desk at work. One of the virtues, the first actually, is temperance: “Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.” Sadly, today in pursuing tranquility (“Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”) by grabbing some food from a local deli and enjoying it in the surrounds of a nearby park, I think I ended up eating to dullness. Now I am wondering what other subsets of virtues might lead to similar tensions.

Regrowing Social Connections

I have been thinking about real world social outlets after this past year has closed so many doors. Looking through Meetup.com, it seems like there are some things worth exploring for a geek of my proclivities. Definitely feel it is worth pursuing a bit more intentionally than in the past, for instance trying something Andrea is likely to enjoy and has a good mix of couples. Would also be nice to find something friendly to a family in our situation, with older children, as so many of the options I’ve encountered so far cater more to a younger set. Low drama would be good, too, but no idea how to screen an opportunity for that or just be willing to pull the rip chord early and often.

Giving Balticon a Miss

I remember vividly when I got started in podcasting. I managed to finagle the admission cost and travel expenses out of my then employer to attend Apple’s big developer conference, WWDC, the very year they announced podcast support in iTunes. On the first day, I visited the local Apple store to pick up an audio interface for my laptop, hoping to record my very first audio at that conference. Sadly, thanks to the ignorance of an Apple “genius,” my first recording happened a week or so after I got back.

Live events have been a large part of my experience of podcasting. That has tapered off in recent years but early on I was invited to a lot of interesting conferences, conventions and events due to being a podcaster. One of the earliest was Balticon. I had befriended a few local area podcasters through a now long defunct meetup. One of them got me invited as a participant some eight or so years ago during that early, heady rush. Even as I started scaling back my speaking engagements a while back, I kept going to Balticon. It is local and so was easier on the pocketbook, not to mention including so many of my friends.

The problem is there was a valid reason I scaled back in general. Oddly, the events I got asked to were rarely tech focused. Like Balticon, many of them were science fiction conventions. I happen to like science fiction. I have fond memories of the earliest cons I attended back in college. When trying to find my voice, though, as someone talking about technology, public policy, and society, an SF/F convention is an odd place to find myself. That tension has only grown over the years.

Each of the last three or four years, around this time, I have debated with myself if it made sense to go back to Balticon. Up until this year, I ultimately decided I had the patience, energy and enthusiasm to make the best of it. This year, I don’t think I do any more. Professionally and personally, the past twelve months or so have been trying, to say the least. Many of the reasons I looked forward to Balticon on a personal level have evaporated, or even worse, become reasons not to go.

I honestly don’t know if I’ll go again in the future. It will depend on a lot of things, things I couldn’t even predict right now. If you are going and would like to get together, up to a point, I could probably manage that, since the convention is still local for me. Just message me privately.