A cheerful old man saw my bamboo shinai (from Seth's German longsword lessons) as I toted my things home from the office last night. "I used to do kendo when I was a teenager, " he remarked. "I can still do it with this-" and he lifted his aluminum cane and cut a few strokes through the cold air. "It's good exercise."
At FUDCon most of today. It was good to note that I had no feeling of being cut off, left out, or anything even though technically I no longer work for OLPC. The air is thick with possibility, and I'm enjoying the feeling of "anything can happen!" before things really start coagulating - people are still flying through the air and I'm looking forward to seeing where they'll land.
But no, I felt at home today; I mean, I'm running through crowds, threading my way from geek to geek, sitting in on interesting talks with even more fascinating backchannels (which I transcribed, I'll post these in a bit). I met people, set up conversations, kind of tinkered with getting discussions started here and there, laughing and talking and swapping ideas, just being around wonderful people who love what they do, and what they make. I haven't lost anything at all. I've gained a much, much larger sense of wonder, freedom, and possibility.
It's funny; I'm an engineer, right? Or at least that's one of the things I am - I make things. But it's only fairly recently that I've been appending another word to that phrase - I make things happen. Sometimes by making things, because sometimes that's how you solve problems. But getting someone else to solve that problem is solving the problem too.
I feel like I should cultivate a stronger technical background (heck, just more... background) for myself before running off into the community-hat direction much more strongly, but community stuff just feels so right - so natural, in fact, that I didn't think of myself as doing this stuff until other people told me that I was, and then I didn't believe them until they started metaphorically shaking me by the shoulders and going "no, this is what you're contributing; you're not a lousy coder*, you build communities for good ones." Then again, when was the last time I ever felt ready for anything I did? (And when have I last let it stop me?**)
*I would phrase this as "not just a lousy coder." It's something I'm continuously working on. ;-)
**Well, okay, I didn't apply for grad school again this year because of that, but that was a different kind of "I'm not ready" - that was the kind that I should listen to, not just a lame argument trying to keep me from doing something I should try but am afraid of.
Yifan and I, inspired by our Wonderful Week of Free Time (all next week - we will spend some of it at XOcamp) have begun to look through textbooks to see which one we want to work through together while she's here. I'm glad I finally got to spend more time with her and finally had the chance to really work with her on something (the IMSA deployment team).
Exhaustion. Must... hit... pillow. Blankets warm. Onwards to passing out. Posting transcripts first, though.