Saturday, 25 February 2006

Dear Elena

I read a lot of tech related blogs and am constantly struck by how they put the interpersonal back into communication.

One of my favorites is Kathy Sierra’s Creating Passionate Users blog. She’s got a knack for being devilishly subversive for the greater good in a way that always grabs my attention.

Yesterday Kathy posted about her friend and colleague Dan Steinberg who had to cancel a trip to Boulder this week to collaborate with her on a project because his daughter Elena had suddenly died.

What a stomach punch.

As I read Kathy’s post, there was something about her description of Dan as a devoted dad that went beyond cliché (and as a dad myself, struck a chord with me). It was one of those descriptions that will cause you to follow a link to the blog of someone you don’t know and thereby wander into special places.

What is it about us as humans that causes us to seek connection like that? What is it that makes us walk into places despite knowing much of how the sad stories will end?

So I followed a link to Dear Elena, the blog Dan started the day after is daughter died, and therein found a deep connection with someone I will likely never meet.

He’s posted several times in the last few days with vignette’s that will make you pull those around you close, look them in the eye, and tell them what beautiful people they are.

I especially like the note about Will the Trash Man. It’s one of those stories that makes me aspire to being more generous to the people I run into everyday — instead of keeping my nose burrowed in my ‘important’ tasks and agendas.

– – –

Late in the day yesterday, Jen emailed me at work with an idea – “Let’s take Ruthie on a date to see Curious George when you get home from work”.

Reply >> “Yes, let’s do that.” >> Send

Tuesday, 21 February 2006

‘What the Fi?!?!’ at Portland’s Kennedy School

Jen and I went to the Kennedy School in Portland for our now annual President’s Day weekend away. It’s the only time in the year we manage to get out sans kids – and, despite loving our zuglets immeasurably, we had a blast.

This is Where we stayed in North Portland

For those of you unfamiliar with the Kennedy School, it’s a bed and breakfast that’s part of the McMenamin’s family of pub’s and lodgings.

They bought out a circa 1930’s elementary school and turned the whole thing into a bed and breakfast replete with restaurant, hot mineral pool, couch & end table furnished movie theater (with no commercials or trailers! — complimentary when you stay there), endless hallways of original art, and free wifi!

What more can a geek couple ask for!

(And yes, it is definitive now, Jen is a _total_ geek – despite all protests to the contrary – see the post on her ‘You got WiFi?’ inquiry with the uber-tatt’d Kennedy School night desk clerks if you think I’m exaggerating).


– – –

I first visited the Kennedy school nearly five years ago to the day (late February 2001) while in Portland to hang out with my friend Don.

At the time, Don was a struggling writer who I’d struck up a friendship with online (how we met is a _very_ funny story I will jot down sometime, hopefully soon – no promises – keepin’ it loose here – trying hard not to over promise and under deliver).

Anyway, Don was making like $2 a year as a writer and eating a lot of tuna. He’d had one book published that, though very good, was on the fast track to out of print.

I, in contrast, was still riding an absurd up tic on the pendulum-swing-O’life (funny how they come and go, eh?)

This swing had me commuting to Bermuda twice a quarter for three week stints doing web design on an insurance company web app (really, you can’t make shit like this up, it’d be rejected outright by the script screener as too ridiculous).

That phat assignment combined with the fact that I’d begun making my move on the very-hot-out-of-my-league-Mars-Hill-pastoral-admin-named-deacon-Jen had me in a mood to spread the love before it went ephemeral on me – if you know what I mean.


I had a another friend from Mars Hill at the time named Karl who was an aspiring writer. He was a very funny gent who wrote the announcements for the church and had a knack for side-splitting observationalist prose.

As a guy who decided a long time ago that encouraging folks to develop their creativity within the context of community was an important use of my time, I figured I would take Karl along with me on a trip to Portland to visit Don.

Turned out to be a great weekend — one of the highlights of which included Don introducing us to the Kennedy School over lunch.

That trip to Portland was also my first introduction to Powell’s bookstore – a place that, from the moment I walked through the door, was (and continues to be) – magical.

Romantic anecdote (about the girl, not Don or Karl) —

I still remember going outside Powell’s north west entrance while Don was paying for some books and making a phone call to a certain deacon-admin-hottie asking her for our first date (chronologically anyway) – funny how things come full circle, isn’t it?

And yeah, this photo is of me in front of that same entrance to Powell’s — 5 years, two kids, and many adventures later — snapped by the hottie herself.


Monday, 20 February 2006

Further adventures in default chic

Welcome to my personal blog. I’ve finally retired the static version of my portfolio site that has been up here since 2001.

In it’s stead, you’ve stumbled upon this install of WordPress dressed in a further adventure of default chic. (How nice to own a term, for the time being at least – this is why we should believe what they are telling us about the positive relationship between blogs and Google juice).

This stream will hit the personal reflection side of things – narrative, art, etc.

To keep up with the other voices in my head, go here, here, and here — once I’m organized enough to get them started anyway — and, as always, for the counterpoint to all things Bryan, be sure to visit the amazing blog of my wife Jen.