titles I cop to: teacher, Dad, political animal, pragmatist, knowledge engineer, meta-agnostic, maker, science writer, idealist, fool for Love, Lover of mystery
I'm never mean - except, y'know, under very special circumstances ;)
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Going through a lot of transitions in the past several years, I've come more and more to embrace my need to innovate, to combine the creative and the technical, to bring disparate perspectives together, and to foment change as central to who I am and what I have to offer.
My focus is on knowledge, and my kind of revolution has to do with learning and artisanship exploding everywhere, especially beyond the online world. Fortunately this is happening in small ways already. I belong to some really cool hacker/maker spaces. I've also been known to get involved in the big-tent incarnations of the Occupy movement.
I'm a lover of live theater and music, as well as a foodie and good cook when I have the space, but have to admit that none of that comes first for my spare time. My "must do", when things get tight, is getting outdoors for a good hike.
I'm a gregarious introvert, and can easily be mistaken for an extrovert if I'm feeling energized - say, at a party (or perhaps on a date). But I do need more downtime to recharge than a proper extrovert.
I like to tease. I'm sociable, quietly assertive, and enjoy trying to figure out the bigass mysteries of the universe.
I am drawn to smart and quirky people. I love hiking, art of most any kind (well, y'know, *some* of it), science and tech, politics, teaching, tinkering, unusual happenings and eclectic communities.
More things I love: camping and stargazing, children, and making useful stuff out of unusual materials. I also have a spiritual side (though what vocabulary to attach to it is an open question).
I love tinkering around with electronics, optics, artsy tools of all kinds, and odd gizmos. I like to try my hand at various little arts and craft projects: carving chunks of glass, painting and dyeing things, polishing a gnarled old manzanita branch, or pulping and layering paper with wheatpaste.
I can have a surprising amount of fun browsing the adhesives and epoxies aisle at the hardware store, hunting for surplus cork or bamboo flooring, or making costumes. Doing some science teaching and being a dad serve as good excuses for stuff like that.
And I am a Dad to two fiendishly smart girls, who stay with me some of the time.
I took the Short, Accurate Myers-Briggs Personality Quiz, which claims I am an INTP "the thinker". Often I score as an INFP on these (sometimes called 'the healer') but I am so close to the midline on both introversion/extroversion and thinking/feeling -- which this latest test also confirms -- that it's easy to contend ENFP and ENTP (the "enthusiastic innovators") are just as relevant to who I am. My personal experience tends to bear this out.
Back when we had those three "I am" blanks to fill in at the top of our profiles, I admit to being a proud of myself for having squeezed in "I am a lover of adventure, an everyday mystery, and a moment, stretching."
Not long ago I spent some time trying my hand at science writing and curriculum development. My inner geek and my inner politico have banded together and convinced me my contribution to the world lies in welding the sense of wonder and can-do of the Maker Movement with the must-do spirit of Occupy and the Global Spring, in service of educational innovation and knowledge-sharing.
This does mean I'm something of an activist, though not a street warrior. (C'mon, I have young kids 8^) If you are concerned about the violent & destructive elements that show up amid direct action movements, I share that concern deeply. My judgment is that people who can combine nuanced thinking with empathy for the anger and despair of those feeling shut out shouldn't hang back waiting for others to fix the movement, to make it "safe". We don't live in safe times. Every thoughtful person has something unique to contribute to rethinking and remaking our broken world. We saw last year that the old "that would be nice but it just isn't politically feasible" excuse is just that. We can, we must, and there are *way* too many wonderful and terrible choices faces us for us all not to get more involved.
At the heart of my life's work is knowledge and wonder. I love to see how people create and share what they know, how the sense of wonder can be a motivator and trigger. I love seeing how people learn, discover and pass on new ways of doing things.
A year or two ago, I wrote "For my money, the next big thing is an explosion of learning. But this won't reach most people in a substantial way if we expect all of it to happen online." Now in 2012 it looks very much like that explosion is going global faster than just about anyone expected. It won't be clean or easy or happen without a lot of us working our asses off, and it certainly won't run in anything resembling a straight line, but hang onto your shorts everybody - the next ten years are going to be amazing.
Hiking and camping, navigating amongst the hidden treasures of Mt Tam, playing with kids and generally being a bit wacky. I would love to get back into some actual backpacking, but sadly haven't done that in a while.
Helping people understand one another when they are talking past each other.
Some more things I know more about than the average bear:
early electronic music,
biology, herbal and alternative/complementary medicine,
bizarre gizmos and where to get them cheap,
massage -- seriously, I'm was trained and certified years ago, and am still quite talented ;)
Genre books I love include the Mars books by Kim Stanley Robinson, The Dispossessed by Ursala Le Guin, Summer of Night by Dan Simmons (basically an alternative riff on Stephen King's IT), newfangled space opera by people like Iain Banks and Alastair Reynolds, the Beauty books by A. N. Roquelaure
I am in the habit of picking up poetry anthologies (usually at Moe's). This goes back to falling in love with The Voice that is Great Within Us as an undergrad. Two of my more modern faves are Up Late, edited by the inimitable Andrei Codrescu, and the Post Modern American Poetry, edited by Paul Hoover.
A few poets who have caught my eye over the years -- besides Donne and Ginsberg and Roethke and suchlike -- include Russell Edson, Eleanor Lerman, Steve Kowit, Leslie Scalapino, Ivan Arguelles, Mei Mei Bersennbrugge...
Other slightly esoteric things I take a deep interest in include how creative and learning communities work, cutting and carving big hunks of glass into interesting shapes, higher mathematics, evolutionary biology, alternative medicine, electronics, red wine, astronomy, the design of places to live and play, black (and green) tea, pranks and satire, cooking seriously decadent food, and the emerging studies of neurodiversity amongst humans.
movies: The Third Man, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Manhattan, Memento, American Splendor, Cloverfield (for my popcorn money, the scariest flick since the first Alien), Sexy Beast, Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Birds, d'Orphee, Flirting with Disaster, Forbidden Planet, early-mid Cronenberg from Videodrome to Dead Ringers and several of his later works too, Brazil, Chinatown, The Dead (Huston), Planet of the Apes (original), Dr. Strangelove, Notorious, Shaun of the Dead, Lord of the Rings (with several Tolkien-geek gripes, but overall Jackson did an amazing job), Thin Blue Line, Grizzly Man, Casino Royale (the recent one, and yeah, the Bourne movies too, of course), The Last of Sheila, The President's Analyst, 12 Monkeys, Nosferatu (both). For a romantic adventure that takes itself just seriously enough, despite a few bad lines and some absurdities regarding the accuracy of muskets, Last of the Mohicans....well, clearly I could go on a long time here...
Amidst my fondness for tricky plot twists and such, I also like filmmakers on the more naturalistic side of the avant-garde like John Cassavetes and Mike Leigh. I want to rewatch Opening Night and Love Streams soon, and to seek out other film that bucks the Hollywood approach.
I'm just a nut for movies, so here are a few more from the mainstream: Modern Times, It's a Wonderful Life, Seconds [also known as "Oh No IT'S NOT a Wonderful Life"--if you like edgy, just see it, it's amazing; by the director of the original Manchurian Candidate], The Godfather, The Last Wave.
Among kids movies, some of my favorites are Coraline, Lilo and Stitch, The Incredibles (anything by Brad Bird, really), The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, Babes in Toyland, The Point, Mulan, The Emperor's New Groove, and of course Night of the Living Dead (once you tell your tots the blood is really Bosco chocolate syrup, they will love it, trust me ;)
I've pretty much given up on TV, though I know there are lots of cool shows I'm missing. I do catch highlights from the Daily Show and Colbert online sometimes, and keep up with the new Doctor Who. I don't mind if you love some TV shows. Someday, when I shatter my knee or something, I'll have a great time going through box sets of Lost, The Wire, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men. I have great affection for several forms of Star Trek, as well as character-driven shows like Hill Street Blues, Homicide, and Firefly. I also have to mention the original Johnny Quest, and the original Outer Limits.
Music: I'm all over the map, and very willing to try something new. I love college radio (I'm bummed we lost KUSF), electronica and ambient - especially the slightly darker stuff, many flavors of rock, R&B, and dance music, klezmer, ragtime, stuff from the Middle East and India and elsewhere, jazz and blues. My daughters have started keeping me acquainted with the latest hits, some of which are catchy, and some which tend to drive me crazy. I like *some* of almost every kind of music, including country and bluegrass (which I find I'm much more likely to enjoy live than any other way). Among my favorite musical folk: Billie Holiday, Brian Eno, Elvis Costello, Gotan Project, The Flaming Lips, Kate Bush, Gamelon X, Bernard Herrmann, Jack White, MIA, Ozomatli, Anton Karas, Murray Head. I have soft spots for 80s New Wave, a bit a' punk, (Flipper, Foetus, Minutemen) and post (Meat Puppets, Camper Van Beethoven), weird art damage music, movie soundtracks, and even Phillip Glass.
Food: I love all kinds of food both healthy and decadent. I've been known to make toffee, and have been told that my over-the-top eggnog and apple crisp (those are of course two completely separate recipes) are world class. I will also put nutritional yeast on toast, eat tofu and nori straight from the package (not always!), and don't mind the taste of most medicinal herbs. I might cook steak in zinfandel cream sauce with peppercorns in a carnivorous mood, or a killer soup with greens, whole coriander, squash, lentils and garlic another time. I love thai and vietnamese food, mission style burritos, red wine, dark beer or malty ale, chocolate, artichokes with lemon-garlic sauce, green beans with a dash of butter, blackberries, and ice cream (of course).
The woods and the ocean
My kids -- being silly with them, helping them grow into themselves.
The night sky
The vastness and the mystery
Music and dancing
Colors and textures
I know, that's eight, or maybe twelve, or something. So sue me.
That still place at my core that I often ignore.
Sex. Love. Community. Solitude.
How stuff works and what would happen if you carved it up differently.
The dizzying utopian and dystopian possible futures we seem to be facing. How our culture might be on the verge of changing for the better, and what we can do to push it that way.
Politics, the media, how tedious and insulting cable news often seems to me when I happen to see it (that was what finally pushed me over the edge on the TV thing),
Social software, cloud computing, and the 'semantic web'.
You think we could have some interesting conversations.
You want to find someone to go hiking or tidepooling with. Or urban edge exploring. Or...
You think reciprocally reading aloud (readers choice of content, or a book chosen together) -- or maybe passing two pieces of paper back and forth while creating a couple of collaborative drawings -- sounds like a good time.
You'd be up for joining me in doing a bit of spelunking -- real cave exploring, that is. Though I'm not yet up for the version that requires mountain climbing gear, I have a thing for caves.