29 Jan 2017
One thing that regularly bothers me in the back of my mind is the grief I get from friends that I don't come back to where I grew up enough and see friends and family. I get it directly, as well as something I hear through the grapevine--talk about me being a snob, and one of those elites that are too good to come back home and hang out with the people I grew up with. Most of the time I can shake this off and continue with my work, but sometimes it leaves me pretty sad, bothered, and even depressed.
The way folks treat you when you leave home and find any amount of success isn't something people talk about when they tell you that you can be anything you want when you grow up, and to follow your dreams. I know that many of these emotions are about them, and doesn't have much to do with me, as I do try to go back home a couple times a year, as I'm rolling through town to see my daughter. It makes it tough that there isn't a major airport nearby, but I make sure and drive at least once a year so I can stop briefly.
I'm sure the Facebook views of my world look glamorous, but it doesn't show all the shitty places I've slept and ate along the way. In the early days when I left town I would hitchhike and sleep in bushes, then as I got older, and pushed my way out of town I would sleep in my car, on couches, in airports, and sketchy hotels. When you travel the globe you post the best pictures--this is how things work. You rarely show the bad situations and the struggles of how you get where you were going and how you got back home.
It may seem like I'm rich as we fly out the world, but most of the time these flights and accommodations are purchased by the events we are speaking at. Yes, we are in Paris, but I didn't post about how we had to borrow 20 Euro from a friend to get metro back to the airport. That time in Dublin where I went to get breakfast for us with 6 Euro, coming back with coffee and two baguettes. Or the number of times I've over drafted my debit card to get a room (I do not have credit cards), or the hotels who have done us favors by letting us stay until we had money. You just don't tell these stories in real-time, as we are just trying to make our mark in the world, and get things done.
I struggle to understand why friends and family get so upset with me and want to talk trash about me not coming around. When I hear this it makes me not want to spend the money, and time to come around as often. Rarely do people ever come see me. I've had the occasional visit from my mother and my sister, but nobody else ever comes to see me. This wasn't any different when I lived in Oregon. In the two years after my divorce I lived by myself, and nobody ever came to see me, except one trip from my mother when my daughter was sick, and one from a sister who I paid to come to a concert with me. This was a really hard time for me, but I got through it, and I don't throw grief at folks because I assume they didn't come see me for the same reasons I don't come around as much--broke, tired, and you just have things going on.
There are many things that limit the reasons for going back home, but mostly I am really busy. I don't feel like people are beneath me, or that I'm better--we just vibrate on different frequencies these days. I've been leaving home since I was 16, and 75% of it has been on my own, with nobody else responsible, other than me. I'm not writing this to guilt trip, my friends and family, as I know they usually don't read any of my work. I am writing to release and vent, my blog is my therapist. It helps me process this and leave it behind, and get back to my work, and making a meaningful impact on the world.
29 Jan 2017
I grew up on a steady diet of fear of nuclear warfare from the federal government, Hollywood, and the elders in our community. I grew up in the woods spending my summers training for the coming apocalypse, and in a household that always had a big pantry, and often time disaster food reserves. I often heard folks talk about how the small community I grew up in would be safe from nuclear fallout, as we got our jet stream from the Pacific Ocean--there was even a book authored about this subject, and distributed locally.
Now in my 40's I've spent a lot of time processing the FUD I have grown up with, and with the renewed discussions of nuclear escalation by Trump, and from Putin, I find myself refreshing and processing many of the fears instilled in me as a young boy. I do not live in rural Oregon anymore, now calling Los Angeles home, and my fears of nuclear war have done an 180-degree turn. I do not fear nuclear annihilation, but is something I'm extremely concerned about and will continue to do everything I can to help prevent.
In 2017 I am committed to living, not hiding in fear of the world around me. I do not focus on how I will survive a nuclear attack anymore. I focus on living today. In addition to living, I am focused on living life to its fullest, enjoying the truly diverse culture in Los Angeles, and the other big cities I travel to regularly. I want a front row seat in the big cities that everyone I grew up with would view as being the first places to get bombed when nuclear war happens--this is where I have found the richest life possible, and some of the most beautiful people I have ever met.
The last thing I want at this point in my life is to "survive" a nuclear war and live out in the woods with a bunch of rednecks with guns, fighting over the scraps, in some sort of apocalyptic playground. I want to live today. I want to live now. I want to live life to its fullest attending the best concerts, eating the best food, and talking with the most diverse number of folks that I can. I do not pay attention to people with a survivalist mentality anymore or read the stories about luxury doomsday accommodations.
I'm committed to living life to its fullest and making the world a better place for myself, the people I love, and for everyone else that I share this amazing world with. I hope you will too!
25 Jan 2017
I have had enough businesses, and business dealings to understand the realities of the game, and with almost 30 years of experience under my belt, I have come to realize I am not good at business or politics. This is why I run a single person business, under an LLC umbrella with my partner in crime Audrey Watters (@audreywatters). She does Hack Education, and I do API Evangelist, and the overlap of the two is Tech Gypsies--no investment, or other partners necessary. We just do what we do best, and nothing more--no scaling necessary.
What It Takes To Be Successful At Business
Business people love to shine a light on the classic American dream version of starting a business. You work hard, build a good product, offer a good service, and you can be successful. What they neglect to tell you is how cutthroat you have to be, how many lawyers you will need to be, and willing to screw over your partners, investors, customers, and anyone who gets in your path along the way. Now I am not saying all successful business are like this, but I am saying that increasingly the real successful ones have to operate in this manner because, "if you don't, someone else will" (or so they tell me). I just do not have this in my blood, and I would rather have a small business that never scales, will pay my bills, and keep my soul intact.
What It Takes To Be Successful in Politics
Similar to business, politics is a cutthroat and shady world. Something I think some democrats can do well, but this election has shown how republicans have a much larger appetite for the shady shit, and willing to obtain power at all costs. They are willing to gerrymander, ally with the enemy, screw of the average citizen, and even people with disabilities--whatever it takes to get the reigns of power. Most of this I see on TV and in the papers but have had the chance to see close up a couple of times working in DC, I just do not have the stomach for this. It's not that I'm not tough, and can't handle a challenge, it is that I actually have an ethical core, and like feeling good about myself when I go to sleep at night.
Stick With Just Being a Monkey Wrench
This is why I will just stick with what I do best, being a monkey wrench in the business and political goings-on around the country. Many of my friends have decided to take a different path. They want to make money and use it to make the change, or maybe join government or work within companies, and make the change that way--that is fine. This is my path. I will continue to be a Tech Gypsy, live in the cracks, and throw myself against the machine, being a monkey wrench in the operations of the businesses and government agencies who are working against the American people. I am not cut out for business and politics--I wish to keep my soul intact.
23 Jan 2017
I always wondered why many of my Facebook friends who I grew up with in Oregon did not comment or contribute to my work pushing back on government agencies and making things more accessible, transparent, accountable, and usable. I have speculated a lot on this subject over the last three years, but this election has shown me much of the motivation behind this behavior from folks of all type, not just the conservative ones.
They all just assumed I was 100% pro-government, and blindly working with the Obama administration, and complicit with what they view as wider government conspiracies. This ignorance set into motion by many of these folks never reading a good book, or using the Internet to stimulate their brains, just saw me saying "government". With a lack of awareness about the role government plays in our lives, they assumed I was just in league with the Illuminati, as I was no longer in the area, helping chime in on the misinformation they regularly receive what the government does or doesn't do.
My friends and family didn't see my work on National Park data linked to their summer and winter camping, hiking, and travel plans. They didn't see any connection with my work at the VA, and how I was working to cut any bureaucracy out of the process involved with getting healthcare and benefits. They don't relate to my work on the Free Financial Student Aid Form (FAFSA) because they haven't gone to college or university, or plan on helping steer their children in this direction. They don't understand my work on Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), and how this might help make their healthcare experiences less painful. On, and on...
I feel like most of the people I grew up with have no idea what government does, let alone the scope of it. They take for granted (granite ;-) the things our federal, state, and local government play's in our lives, and allow their emotions to be stirred up and refocused only on the bad parts of government, and never about the good government does in our lives. This process allows business to successfully remove any obstacles in the way of their exploitation and the privatization of these vital services we depend on in our world. This is not a democrat vs republican thing or a conservative vs liberal. This is just ignorance fueled capitalism and popular culture, and a willingness to be left behind by opting to surf Facebook over reading a book, choosing to shop at Walmart over their local store and purchase a Starbuck coffee over their local coffee shop.
I am not giving up completely these folks 100%, I'm just prioritizing other things, even though it feels like they are attacking me personally with phrases like "drain the swamp", never understanding that this is about targeting me and my friends who are actually working to make government serve us better, and are never profiting from anything government does. I will keep working to change the government, educate people about this important work, and work to protect EVERYONE's privacy and security, regardless their often aggressive and uninformed stance about what it is I do.
04 Oct 2016
We seemed to not even care about setting a positive example or trying to understand the negative consequences of our actions. We just seem to be plowing forward being the toughest, best-equipped kit on the block. The more shit we stir up, the more we get to play with our toys and prove to the other kids that we are the toughest. We have no interest in being a good example to the world anymore.
The bar for bad behavior has already been set. My heart is heavy because it has been set by us. My fear is that we won't be able to back away from this, and when this is all woven with our failed foreign policy, the future is pretty dark. As a technologist, I wish I could be more proud of the United States, but when it comes to the imperialist tech agenda of Silicon Valley, and the bad behavior of our government when it comes to cybersecurity--I am just left being very sad. ;-(
19 Apr 2016
My ongoing stories around how APIs can help make business, educational, healthcare, government, and the other transactions that we are increasingly seeing move online, be more transparent--enjoy a regular amount of snickers, subtweets, and laughs from folks in the space. Whether it is about opening up access to our social media dtaa, all the way up to how our home or student loans are hammered out, to how international trade agreements are crafted--I feel APIs have a role to play when opening things up (yeah I know I'm biased).
With that said, APIs are NOT the answer in all scenarios. I do not see them as the aboslute solution, but they do offer promise when it comes to giving individuals a voice in how social media, financial, healthcare, and other data and content is used, or not used. A lot of people who are part of the startup machine love to laugh at me, pointing out how uninformed I am about how things work. We have to keep things private, and in the hands of those who are in the know--this is how business works, and everything would come to a screeching halt if we forced everything to open up.
While there is a wide variety of motivations behind why people poke at me about my persepective, I am noticing one important thing. They disagree with me when I point out things that are downstream from them, but they agree with me when it is upstream from them. Meaning if I focus on federal agencies like the IRS, or possibly banking on Wall Street, and other regulatory and legal influences -- they are all about transparency. If it is downstream from them with their existing customers, or would be customers for their future startups --hell no, transparency will always hurt the things. Just leave it to the smart, cool kids to make the important decisions, the average person shouldn't worry there little head about it..
This is privilege. You are unable to see people below the position you enjoy in society. You have an overinflated sense of what you are capable of, and that you will always do right by everyone You possess a attitude that all your customers, and users who will be using your platform and tooling should just be thankful that you are so smart, and built this amazing platform for everyone to use. Please do not bother us elite with concerns privacy, security, and well being. We know best! They have things under control. However those bankers building the banking platform we depend on, people runnign those higher educational institutions, or those nasty regulators who craft the platform we are required to report business operations -- they can't be trusted! #TRANSPARENCY
Ok. Done ranting. Let me close with saying that transparency does not equal good. Transparency can be very bad, and I am not prescribing it in all situations. I am just pushing back on those who push back on me when I ask for transparency in the platforms in which I depend on for my business. Please do not try and disarm me with absolutes. I'm just asking for transparency in the business and political dealings that directly impact me as an individual, and my business. While also suggesting that more tech folks work to understand that there is a downstream impact from their world, they might not see, because of the priveleged position you enjoy, so please thinking a little more deeply as you race to get what is your.
16 Apr 2016
I have made a lot of mistakes, and made plenty of totally incorrect assumptions about the API space in my last five years trying to help seize this narrow window of opportunity I feel we have, when it comes to defining our digital self--using APIs. As business leaders, IT, and developer practitioners, APIs provide us a big opportunity to understand our digital assets, better define them, and open up access to them.
This vision of what we can do when it comes to APIs is a pretty powerful one to consider, but is also something that quickly morphs, distorts, and becomes something entirely different when humans are involved--sometimes with positive outcomes, but increasingly they are negative. I'm feeling like I severely overestimated people's willingness to truly want to deliver solutions using APIs. Whether it was the API consumer, provider, or the service provider delivering their warez to the space -- the majority of folks seem most interested in their own selfish need.
While I often work to paint an optimistic view of all actors involved in the production that is the API space, here is how things are breaking out in my mind:
- API Providers - The average company, and business really does not have any interest in properly getting to know, and do the hard work necessary to define its digital self, and is perfectly happy just buying into the next wave of techno-solutionism, never really ever actually make any true change.
- API Consumers - Really have no interest in getting to know the API provider, are looking to get something for free, and will to sign up for multiple accounts, and other behavior that really is about extracting as much value as they can, and give nothing in return.
- API Service Providers - Could care less of the quality of API implementations, as long as API providers are using their solutions, ideally with a 2-3 contract, so we can meet our numbers--we have the techno-solutions that you need to not make any change.
- Investors - The longer I spend in the space, the more the strings of the investors become evident. These strings are almost always at odds with anything that truly make API work, like trust in a provider, transparent business models, and a sensible road map.
Y'all deserve each other in my opinion. The problem is you are all gumming up any forward motion we were actually enjoying. I'm hearing business folk talk about APIs like they are the next dashboard and analytics, a sort of catch-all solution to the problem of the day. I'm watching providers, service providers, and investors chase the money, and not actually investing in what is needed to actually do APIs right.
In short, there is a lot of money to be made, and to be spent when it comes to APIs -- that will do absolutely nothing to provide your company with real world solutions. You have to make sure an invest in the right people within your organization. People who will own the API vision, and help build internal capacity to help your organization understand its digital self, and deliver API driven solutions correctly. You do need services, and tooling to make this happen, but the core of it will be your people doing the hard work to define your core business value, while mapping out the digital version of your organizational, the bits and bytes that make this happen, and the other human stakeholders that are involved.
I am just venting, as I continue see waves of companies walking around with their heads cut off talking API, and spending money on API, and service providers lining up to sell meaningless API solutions to them. I am also seeing investors guiding both API provider, and API service provider in ways that have nothing to do with what is needed to deliver a solution that will make a real impact -- they are just looking to meet the numbers they've set.
As usual, this kind of shit doesn't stop me. I'll keep doing API for myself, and for the small handful of people who want to actually do a better job of defining their digital self, and own the creation, storage, orchestration, publishing, and syndication of that self. While y'all are all over there finding the best API driven way to lock up people's digital self, and extract as much value as you can for you and your partners, I'll be over answer questions for people who want to take control over their own individual professional, and business digital presence.
13 Apr 2016
I first got my AT&T cell phone in 1998, with the 541-913-2328 phone number. 18 years later I am saying good bye to the phone number, and my AT&T service. I have to say it is a huge weight off my shoulders to do away with this account. It isn't just the 100+ bill each month for a phone that I very rarely use, it is also about getting the fuck away from AT&T.
I am only able to do this because I am not traveling as much, and my daughter has other ways of getting a hold of me, and she isn't much of a phone talker either. It will take some doing to not have cell service on demand, and be able to just jump on the occasional phone call, but I will make do. I will adjust and find a way--I always do.
It makes me happy not to support AT&T any longer, as well as any large company who I can support for so long, and have them not at all give a shit about me. Beyond AT&T, I am happy to not have an active cell signal that can be monitored, hijacked, and distract me from what is important. The whole cell phone surveillance culture that has emerged has outweighed any of the benefits of a cell phone for me. I will find a way to get the Internet I need to make Skype calls, do hangouts, and engage in the online channels I frequent.
By AT&T -- won't miss you.
20 Feb 2016
I added "security" as an area of my monitoring of the API space a couple years back, where I curate news stories, white papers, and other resources on the topic of online security. I have carved off most of the API related aspects of this into my security research project, but I have also noticed another schism emerging in much of the information I'm gathering during the course my work.
There are two distinct types of conversations going on, the first one is about security, encryption, and many of the technical aspects of how we protect ourselves, our businesses, and our organizations online. The second half focus on the theater around all of this, using many of the same words, but is far less technical, much more emotional, and wraps itself in special words like "cybersecurity".
This security theater is used by the NSA, FBI, police, and other government organizations, but it isn't exclusive to these groups. Tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter also play the security theater card when it benefits them. Kind of like a soccer player will overplay a foul, to get the attention of the referee. It can be difficult to tell the difference when these groups are truly discussing security, or putting on a play or skit on the online security stage--for the rest of our benefits.
Security theater, aka "cybersecurity" plays just as important role in security, as the technical nuts and bolts. If you get citizens acting on their emotions and fears, it is much easier to shift the conversation in your favor, without ever having to do anything truly technical. Cybersecurity is not that new, it is just an evolution of previous security fear tactics used by the military industrial complex, and government leaders to control the population--it is just now being adapted to the new digital landscape we find ourselves living in.
Security theater will continue to be a box office hit in coming years!
19 Dec 2015
I am hyper aware of where the ethical line exists, when it comes to being a hacker. I'm not a hacker that penetrates systems, or finds exploits, I am a hacker that provides quick and dirty solutions to problems, using technology, which in my case happens to be via APIs.
Through my work as the API Evangelist, I am evangelizing that companies should consider an API approach to help them be more consistent in how they operate online. Helping companies be more transparent in their operations, in a way that encourages participation from trusted partners, and even the public, through sensibly designed, and secured APIs.
When people from enterprise, institutions, and government agencies approach me and ask how they should jump start APIs within their group(s), I have a pretty standard response, which I call low hanging fruit (LHF). LHF is simply this: if their is a spreadsheet, CSV, XML, or JSON file located on your website, or data is available in a table format across your site, it should be available as an API.
If something already exists on your website as HTML, it should also be available in CSV, XML, RSS, and JSON formats, for direct integration into other systems, applications, and devices. The is is the difference between your resoures being available to humans in a browser, and it being available to humans via the thousands of other Internet connected devices that are becoming ubiquitous in our worlds.
For me, this is a pretty fundamental way to help people understand API. To help bring my point home, I have a website spider that will crawl any URL I give it, and return the existence of any CSV, XML, RSS, JSON, or table with over five rows. I then publish this list of resources to a Github project, which I call the "low hanging fruit" for any domain (aka company, organizations, agenc(ies), or institution). If it is available on your website, it should exist as an API. If it is available on your website it has already been deemed valuable, and ok for publicly sharing. Right?
Well, this isn't always the case. You see, a lot of people publish data and content on the open Internet, and believe it is secure, if they are the only ones who know the URL. Many folks are unaware of how things work on the web, and accept security through obscurity as a sensible way of operating in our digital worlds, simply because they just do not know any better. The Internet has pushed its way into our personal and business lives so fast, many folks just do not fully grasp what it is, and how to properly protect themselves, their children, their jobs, co-workers, businesses, organizations, constituents, and customers.
As I read yet another story of a security breach, this one at children's toy manufacture V-Tech, I'm reminded of the line I walk in my API Evangelist world. The hacker in question, shared the fact that V-Tech's online security was pretty superficial, and shared that he was able to get at 5M parent's and children's accounts. He didn't do it for profit, and sell to the black market, he shared the details with Motherboard, to apply pressure on V-Tech to tighten down security.
I will make clear, I do support folks poking around for security holes like this, even though it is not something I do not personally do. I will scan the public surface area of any companies site, or mobile application(s), but I understand the public / private line that exists, and will never intrude beyond the line I am closely walking. The problem is, while I have a good grasp of the line I walk, I do not have the faith that others will share the same understanding of where this line exists, or even that it exists all.
When I publish a list of low hanging fruit for any domain on Github, one can easily perceive what I did was hacking (it is). The slippery slope in process of scanning a public website, following every link within the domain, and indexing the available data sources, is that you can uncover loose privacy and security practices, and the ignorance and incompetence that exists at any business, organization, institution, or agency. The not so fun part of all of this exists in the current climate, where we go after the person who uncovers the problems, not usually the folks who created the problem.
In my low hanging fruit process, I'm not using SQL injection, or other common security exploits, I am simply spidering what is already publicly available on a website. The problems comes when people in power, do not understand the difference, and in this current, very lopsided environment, there is a huge chance of getting swept up on the wrong side of the perception and understand of exactly what hacking is, or isn't. I acknowledge these dangers exist, but will be pushing back, hoping to change the perceptions that exist, whenever I possibly can.
I strongly believe in APIs, and when done right, they can benefit businesses, organizations, institutions, agencies, and the public and markets that they exist in. I think low hanging fruit is a great way to help individuals effect change from the bottom up, by demonstrating the API potential, using safe, already available resources. Groups that embrace a domain-wide API first strategy will have their houses in order, and will be more respectful of privacy and security of those that do not. The problem comes when we apply a low hanging fruit process in some of the more disorderly households, where ignorance, incompetence, or even straight up corruption exists--the power will bite back hard.
I write this post to help me set a stage, that will hopefully keep me out of trouble, as I continue to help groups understand where to begin with their API journey. As I do this, the security, surveillance, and privacy world seems to becoming much more volatile around me, which tells me my work is all the more important, but also runs the risk of being misunderstood. What a crazy digital world we are creating for ourselves, I worry about our future.
03 Dec 2015
A friend of mine that I grew up with, was recently killed by her estranged boyfriend. She was a beautiful single mother, and was someone I was always fascinated by, all the way back to when we went to school together, and were in drama class. I've been processing my thoughts on this since this happened last month, waiting for a free moment where I could rant about it.
I wouldn't say we were close back in school, but she was someone that was always around, and was super nice, and such an interesting character--so I felt we were close. Also, she was stunningly beautiful, but definitely out of my league in high school (I was a total geek). She found me on Facebook a few years back, planning for our high school reunion, where I regularly engaged with her, and followed here life online--when she was killed, it shook me. It shook me hard.
It pains me to think of her son, and her family. It makes me lose a little more faith in humanity. It also completely forced me to toss out any plans (no matter how dumb they were) I had for dealing with my teenage daughter coming of age, and attracting the attention of boys. You see, us boys have had the fear of god put into us by the fathers of girls we date, and the dumbass stories on TV (and now social media) about dads setting boys straight, and this making everything alright.
As my little girl grew up, I told myself all of these old stories, and replayed encounters with interested boys in my head, and planned how I was going to scare them into treating her right. Then my beautiful friend was killed in her home, in the middle of the night, by her estranged boyfriend. You see, when a father says to a young boy interested in his daughter, that he'll do to him, whatever he does to his daughter--that does not work in this scenario. The asshole who killed her, killed himself when he was done.
I have no more scenarios left to act out in my head. The only thing I can do is equip my daughter, and when she does start dating, I stay as engaged as I can. I've been watching my friends dad post to her Facebook wall every couple days, talking about his daughter--it really makes my heart ache, and leaves me so fearful for the future, and the world I've brought my daughter into.
:-( RIP Athena--it was a pleasure to know you.
03 Dec 2015
I read a fairly regular stream of news that self-driving cars will disrupt this, and disrupt that, with the insurance industry being top of this list. While I'm sure th self-driving car will shift the landscape for insurance, it will not do away the need for insurance, like some folks like to chant.
I'm think there are two major influences that will keep the insurance industry doing very well:
- Insurance Companies Are Powerful - They have a bunch of money, lobbying power, and are very creative when it comes to structuring insurance in their favor.
- Humans Are Such A Special Creature - Humans excel at doing very stupid things in our vehicles, and I'm sure the illusion of saftety with the car driving for you, will only create new situations.
At this point, I'm skeptical of any claim by someone selling technology, let alone the wide sweeping disruption claims that technologists, and venture capitalists love to claim.
When it comes to the impact that self-driving cars will on the insurance industry, there will be plenty of creativity and stupidity to keep the insurance alive and doing well. It makes for a good attention grabbing headline though!
05 Nov 2015
APIs escaped out of the enterprise petri dish a little over 10 years ago. The exact date is not known, but we do, that sometime between 2001 and 2005 the concept of an APIs that used HTTP, jumped out of the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) toolbox, and began to flourish and grow.
During the period between 2005 and 2010, APIs remained largely unnoticed beyond the developer community, but by 2011, with the success of platforms like Twitter and Twilio, the powers that be began to take notice. There still wasn’t much respect for the method of exchanging resources via the open Internet, but some companies were now paying attention.
By 2015, the enterprise, as well as the government, has seen that APIs can do much more than just the sharing of photos, and social media wall posts. Now that you can actually deploy actual infrastructure, deliver valuable digital resources, the powers that be are taking notice. In the end, the concept of the open API will not win the war.
Open APIs will continue to be, but the concept has been identified, co-opted, and is now owned by those in control—it is done.
04 Oct 2015
I won't be working to convince anyone to own a gun, or stop owning a gun, this is only something you can do. However I can share my own story of when I stopped being afraid, stopped feeling like I needed gun(s) in my life, and I began living this amazing life I was given.
First I do not come from your average sub-urban family, I grew up owning guns--I love shooting guns. I was given a .50 caliber black powder rifle for my 10th birthday, and have own almost any known gun from .22 caliber rifles, and 9MM pistols, to semi, and fully automatic AK-47s, SKS, and others. Take me shooting today, and I will still have fun--I am not anti-gun, I'm anti-fear, which guns are a symptom of.
Living Life With A Gun On Your Body
I have have lived with a gun on my body for almost two years. I'm not talking about a gun in the closet or gun case, I'm talking a gun on my hip, and always close-by in a bag. The energy of having an instrument of death on your hip, and always on your mind is no way to live. If you are pro-gun, and anti-cell phone, you are full of shit in my book. I can get a job, do homework, and stay in touch with my loved ones on my cellphone, my gun only had a single purpose--killing. The energy you have to endure in your life, with a gun at your side is no life I want to endure, my children, or any other loved one. If you think you can handle this energy, you are probably in denial about how other negative energy around you is impacting your life.
Living Life With Guns All Around You
If you are advocating for guns in schools, and the workplace, I invite you to go work in Washington DC for a year, or any place where every meeting you go to, you have to go through metal detectors. This is just one of the by-products of having guns, is then you have to be sure of who has a gun, and the concept is front and center in everything you do--slowing life at every turn. I have spent days on end in rooms full of law enforcement, and criminals ,all with guns, in both situations I did not feel safe, I always felt hyper aware of danger, and could taste the fear, it is present in the air at all times.
Living Life After Having A Gun Pointed At You
I have had a firearm pointed at me three separate times in my life. Once it was the boyfriend of a girl I dated, second time it was a junkie I was doing drugs with, and the third time it was a police officer on the side of the freeway. All three times, if I had a gun on my, I can guarantee I would have ended up dead. The fact that I did not have a gun, deescalated the situation, and I am alive to tell the story. I know from my own experience that gun does not equal safety, so no matter how much you tell me how all these situations we read about could have been deescalated with a gun, I'm just not going to believe you. You live in Hollywood, not reality.
Guns Are All About Our Own Personal Fear
Every person I know that owns a lot of guns is afraid. EVERY SINGLE ONE! The ones that I know who have hoards of guns, are some of the most afraid people I know. Afraid of everything, and everyone. How you can tell is that the most afraid have way more guns and ammo than they could ever use when their house is attacked by anyone(its coming, be sure of it), yet with every announcement of Obama coming for their guns, they go buy a fresh round of ammunition. #fear
I remember when I began to stop being afraid, and realized gun ownership was a game for the fearful. When I asked my step-father to buy a pistol from him, and he said he didn't have the guns in the state. I knew he did, because I just talked to my brother and sister who both had the guns at their house within the month. He just didn't want to sell to me, because I was liberal--he was afraid of me. I had become the enemy, by doing nothing except having a liberal bend. It wasn't anything about gun ownership, because I do not believe in gun legislation, it was something entirely else that he disagreed with--regardless, I was the enemy now.
Ironically he asked me about a year later for information about cell phone surveillance, and I played dumb--can't help you man. Can't help you with knowledge that will actually keep you safer in 2015 than any gun, cause you know, I'm the enemy. ;-( If you live in fear land, you have to cling to your gun, knowledge ain't gonna help you, that is a liberal way of thinking.
In the end I don't want to live in a fearful world where everyone has guns. You know what happens to people having bad days? They get shot. You know what happens when there are misunderstandings? You get shot! You know what happens when you have disagreements? You get shot. There are no conversations, understanding, or help--solutions are black or white (probably white--wink wink racists).
I say all of this knowing my 15 year old daughter is going to school within an hour of the latest shooting. Which isn't new Oregonians, remember our buddy Kip Kinkel? It will happen again, as soon as all y'all forget. I don't want her going to school needing a gun, or even metal detectors. I want to live in a world where we can feel safe, and that isn't a world where everyone is gun tot'n. That feeling you have with your gun in hand isn't safety, I'm sorry, you are misguided. It is a view that works for you in the country, but not for much of the world that lives in a city.
I am not preaching that the government to legislate away our guns. It is up to each of us to reach a place where we stop being afraid. Stop being afraid of our government. Stop being afraid of the brown people that we aren't familiar with. Stop being afraid of people with the religion we aren't part of. I've traveled the world, from podunk Oregon, to East LA, to purportedly dangerous places in Europe and North America, and I can say I was safe not because of guns, I was safe because of people, and my own behavior.
I'm already on my journey towards feeling safe. I'm not here to convince you. I just want to share my own thoughts, on my own blog, in my domain around how I feel. I'm not poisoning your Facebook or Twitter conversation with my thoughts, just sharing in my space--you can read or not. You go ahead and create a world where everyone individual has a gun, I'm guessing it will look similar to the world where everyone has a car. Individuals rolling around, with no love for other people they do not know, and getting a larger and more automatic car to make sure they are safe, and we develop everything in the world to accommodate this dystopian vision, rather than a more sensible alternative.
For me. I am enjoying this life given to me, something that was harder for me when I was younger, and afraid. I'm focusing on creating a world, where we don't all need weapons on our hips, where all of us can seek mental health treatment when needed, and when we have bad days, large amounts of people don't need to die.
05 Sep 2015
As I work through the XML, tab & comma separated, and spreadsheet strewn landscape of federal government data as part of my Adopta.Agency work, I'm constantly reminded of how the data being published is often retribution, more than it is anything of actual use. Most of what I find, despite much of it being part of some sort of "open data" or "data portability" mandate is not actually meant to be usable by its publishers.
In between the cracks of my government open data work, I'm also dealing with the portability of my own digital legacy, and working to migrate exported Evernote notes into my system, as well as legacy Tweets from my Twitter archive download. While the communicated intent of these exports from Evernote and Twitter may be about data portability, like the government data, they really do not give a shit about you actually doing anything with the data.
The requests for software as a service providers, and government agencies to produce open data versions of our own user or public data, has upset the gate-keepers, resulting in what I see as passive aggressive data portability vomit--here you go, put that to use!! A president mandating that us database administrators open up our resources, and give up our power? Ha! The users who helped us grow into a successful startup, actually want a copy of their data? Ha! Fuck you! Take that!
This is why there is so much data janitorial work today, because many of us are playing the role of janitor in the elementary school that is information technology (IT), and constantly coming across the data portability vomit that the gatekeepers of legacy IT power structures (1st and 2nd graders), and the 2.0 silicon valley version (3rd and 4th graders), produce. You see, they don't actually want us to be successful, and this is one of the ways they protect the power they perceive they possess.
23 Aug 2015
The only reason Silicon Valley technology is seen as a better solution than what was there before, is because it is shiny, and brand new. Give it time. Silicon Valley is becoming an institution, bureaucratic it its own way. A private, closed, good ol boy network of the new white ruling class.
The sounding charge for any Silicon Valley tech is to disrupt what was there before, replace it with newer, better oiled technology. This is showcased as better. Progress. When in reality, it is just a transfer of wealth, from the old to the new. A transition that most of the existing ruling class are prepared to navigate.
Along the way, a few new rulers will be crowned, and a handful lose their way, but overall it isn't that exciting, when it comes to historic transfers of powers. The revolutionary war, was simply a transfer of power between the UK ruling class, to the new ruling class of the US, but at least there were shots fired, and flutes played.
The whole things doesn't excite me. My objectives are simply to slow the transfer where I can. Divert resources to the people who actually own them, or can use them the most. While also building in as many transparent windows into the process as I can, allowing us to keep the new Silicon valley machine somewhat accountable.
17 Jul 2015
I was just watching a gentleman playing a TV show on his laptop, full blast, without headphones at the airport gate while I was waiting for my flight. Everyone one around him was obviously annoyed, staring at him, and he would look up regularly, with a defiant look on his face. It reminded me of my older brother who would similar things.
My brother was a professional asshole. He actually took pride in it. I would ask why are you doing that? He'd smile, and just say that if they had the chance, other people would do it. Almost 90% of the time I was around him, he had complete disregard for people, animals, and anything living around him.
The other 10% of the time, he would be genuinely hurt, and very insecure about the world. He was genuinely confused why things were so hard for him. He'd always comment on how successful I am, and things were so easy for me, and for him everything was hard, and the world was alway out to get him. Ultimately feeding his disregard for other people, everyone was always out to get him.
This young man at my gate has the same energy as my brother, and I'm sure he is just as confused as why at other points in his life, when things are so hard. This is something I think many folks do not understand about the world, that we are all in this together, and what you dish out almost always come back your way. Call it Karma, or whatever you want, but its true. Almost every time in my life I was feeling like the world was out to get me, I could step back, reflect and associate it to something fucked up I had done, or some lesson I needed.
17 Jul 2015
I grew up out in the woods. Many of the adults in my world fed me steady diet of fear about the world ending. Whether it was from the right, with fear of the second coming of their Christ, or from the left with government and military led apocalypse. It didn't all come from my local community either, during the Reagan era I was also pumped full of fear it came to Russians, drugs, and much more.
During my teen years I spent many summers canning food, buying food in 50 lb sacks, purchasing guns and ammo, and even training some times out in the woods and at the river, with friends--just in case. I was convinced the end would be coming, no matter what version of the apocalypse it was. As I became an adult the residue of this exposure began to fade, but I still had the urge to buy food in bulk, subscribed to some conspiracy theories, and owned guns to protect myself.
In 1999 things began to change for me. As the year 2000 loomed, and my parents bough years worth of food in bulk, and purchased more guns and ammo (they bought a palette of SKS rifles, and ammo), my wife became pregnant. I was approaching my 28th year, and facing the birth of my daughter Kaia. Her coming into my world kicked my evolution from living everyday with fear, to living every day to its fullest--something that would take me over a decade to master.
As I moved into my 30s, and this little girl continue to dominant my heart this shift continued. Another aspect to this story was that in my youth I rode motorcycles. In high school I rode a Honda XL 600 dirt-bike to school each day, and somewhere I got in my that I would not live past 30--I did.
Now in my 40s, I'd say I'm 99% about living each day to its fullest. I spent every single day working to enjoy everything I do. I've successfully filtered out drama and craziness in my life, well about 90% I'd say. My Facebook is often full of doom and gloom about vaccines, government conspiracies, Obama coming for your guns, chem-trails, and the regular focus on the world ending by the left and the right in my life.
Don't get me wrong. There is lots wrong in this world, and as the API Evangelist I spent a great deal of time trying to address as many problems as I can from opening up government budget data, working to protect our privacy online, and pushing on corporations to be more transparent. I have found a way to try and make the world a better place, while also living each day to its fullest. I don't stress on the world ending anymore. I don't stockpile food or weapons.
In my 40s, since I've successfully made this transition, and I worry a lot less. I still battle my own mind (mental illness,) and body (health), but I've found a way to channel this 98% of the time through my work, and storytelling. The world could end any day, but you know what? I will deal with that when it happens, I'm damn sure not going to spend each day worrying about what might happen, I'm going to live each day to its fullest and make the biggest impact I possibly can while I am here, perpetually grinding against the machines that seek to do us harm, and make the world better for Kaia and her generation.
13 Jun 2015
As humans we actively share stories of dystopian futures, worlds like in the Terminator where we've completely destroyed the planet, and Elysium where earth is only for the poor, to Mad Max where the car has successfully eroded the fabric of our society. All of these stories provide us with potential warning bells for very troubling possible futures that we should want to avoid, but interestingly we actually use these stories as distraction from the dystopian worlds we have already laid down, and are planting the seeds for. Around the beginning of the 20th century, a major choice was being made, whether we opted for a world of public transportation, or the much more individual focused world of the automobile.
The choice we made is obvious, in 2015 the automobile is a first class citizen in our world. Much of our public spaces are dedicated to these vehicles, and a significant portion of the average american's budget goes to accommodating these units of transport. We allow for a huge amount of death, not just from car accidents, but a wide variety of areas ranging from striking pedestrians to climate change. We opt for a gymn membership, and commute to work over actually being healthy, and living within walking distance our worlds. We live in a dystopian future, that if you told the story of to people of the 19th, and early 20th centuries, would leave them with a very dark picture in their minds.
In 2015, as we selectively choose what terrifies us, the automobile doesn't just elude our focus, it manages to achieve an elevated status, holding more importance than some of our family members, children, and other objects that we covet in our consumer society. We actually celebrate how our automobile separates us from the world around us, providing us with a shield that keeps us from having to actually engage with anyone, encouraging us to be extremely badly behaved in an infinite number of ways. The tools us humans adopt have always shaped who we are, and the worlds around us, but the automobile has set the stage for a world, that I am afraid we may never be able to back away from, or reboot.
I see the same theme playing out with three key technologies that are flourishing right now: cameras, drones, and the Internet. Much like automobiles we will go to disturbing lengths to accommodate these tools, bending, shifting, and paying for workarounds in a life constantly interrupted by technology. Today, much of our daily behavior exists in the service of the automobile, and in coming years our enslavement to cameras, drones, and the Internet as it makes it migration from our desktop computers, laptops, and mobile phones, to almost every object in our lives, will shape almost every aspect of our life.
Like a slow motion train wreck, we welcome these technologies into our lives, with almost no critical evaluation of the long term effects, and impact. I'm afraid there is no turning back, with the current technological climate, we are just on a perpetual dystopian slide into the troubling furue we seem to deserve.
03 Mar 2015
My teenage daughter has a similar sense of humor to myself, and one of the christmas presents I got her were three funny t-shirts. After looking at a number of humorous t-shirts sites, I found myself at Snorg Tees with three t-shirts in my shopping cart.
When I see my daughter, it makes e happy to see her wearing one of the shirts I bought her, and while she was working on a school project, with her local paper, and it made me smile to see her wearing one the shirts stating I > U. -- in the local paper! ;-)
These shirts were great, and I would totally go back to buy more t-shirts, except for one thing--the sexually exploitative ads that now follow me around the Internet. Since Snorg Tees has my profile as middle aged man, successfully placed a cookie on my computer, I get the extra special advertisements, like the ones you see below.
Who knows, maybe this is an appropriate profiling for some middle aged men, but not me. I have a teenage daughter, and it fuck’n hurts to have to look at sexy looking pictures of other girls the same age. Fuck you Snorg Tees for this practice.
If you hadn’t noticed I’m working to strengthen and empower my daughters perspective of herself in this world, and I will not support your company, and your sexually exploitative advertising perspective. Thanks for contributing to the world being a shittier place Snorg Tees, you won't get my business anymore.
10 Nov 2014
I was pleasantly surprised to see President Obama’s support of Net Neutrality today. I remain optimistic, yet skeptical about how this will all unfold, but will continue fighting in support of net neutrality in the mean time. In the same emotional moment, I saw Senator Ted Cruz’s tweet saying that "Net Neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet".
You believe that the Internet is slow, because of government involvement? I think if you look at the countries kicking our asses in Internet speeds, it is because the government has a bigger stake in the bandwidth conversation. Your statements, are a particularly dangerous form of ignorance that will significantly hurt our country, and you are nothing but a mouthpiece for your telecommunications sector donors.
I would spend more time challenging your comment, but this isn't my style. I know that hating on the Internet and through popular media is how the powerful remains in control, the whole divide and conquer concept. I have never, and will continue to resist ever participating in these reindeer games, and will focus on my present course of being an agitator through open access to data, and information via APIs.
In short, I will the marbles constantly in your path, providing access to your campaign finances, linking to your tweets when you make contradictory statements. I will work to educate, and inform the very people you seek to keep down with your particular brand of ignorance. You can count on me to continue being the under current in your political world, one that will catch you at some point, because you have a severe ignorance of technology, and in this rapidly shifting technical landscape at some point the sands will shift under your feet. #yourwelcome