Medusa style


Okay, so, you're casually working away, knowing you're practicing your talk tonight and have some work that needs completing today, and the project manager of one of your projects comments that hey, three of these projects need to be done today.



So, what do you do?

Yeah, I spent the first twenty minutes spinning my wheels thinking, "omg. omg. omg," too. Because, really now, *that* is completely productive.

And then I realized that, you know what, this is going to be a long, long, long day, and I had best make the most of it. Especially when Katy commented how great the day is, and completely took me up on the suggestion, "Hike?" What I liked the best was that she immediately followed the suggestion with a definitive hike time, all the better to ensure I can't skip out on the plans. While I want to say, "It's like she knows me or something," I've been working hard at setting expectations, so when I suggested the hike, I knew that I'd go on it even if it meant for a crazier day than I really wanted.

Because exercise is incredibly important.

Me, Katy and Brian

As are friendships.

Brian and Katy were willing to meet up at my house, for which I was incredibly grateful, and off we went, Brian bringing along probably over three gallons of water for our hike.

Our 60 minute hike.

Our 60 minute hike in partial shade.

They explained to me how they had gone on a hike recently without sufficient water, and had a really hard time of it. They've swung in the other direction, bringing too much water, but, well, the hike is unknown, so maybe too much water isn't such a bad thing.

After my requisite bathroom break we were on our way. Right up to the top of Hunter's Point, with the views of the Bay, we walked, talking about webapps and phone apps and game metrics and the other ideas that make me excited when talking with people who share the same interest and enthusiasm for my chosen profession.

Yes. Way excited.

The view was pretty clear this afternoon. We were able to see from past San Jose and Fremont all the way to Redwood City, naming landmarks (the Stanford Quad Tower, Moffett Field hangers) and downtown clusters.

View from Hunter's Point

While at the top, Katy commented that she had forgotten her hair tie in the car, and dangit, her hair was annoyingly hot. I suggested she tie it in a knot, which caused a bit of confusion.

Confusion dispersed by a quick demonstration of the hair twisting technique of shoving long hair into a twist, and keep twisting into a bun, then wrapping the ends through the bun, and around the edges of the bun, to keep it tied in a knot.

Because, yes, it's true, I have long hair. I can do this.

After I demonstrated, Katy looked at me for a moment, bent over, twisted her hair into a knot, wrapped it into a tie, straightened back up, and commented something to the effect of "score another girl point for me."

Yes, indeed.

Katy hair in knot

After lingering at the lookout for a short bit, we hiked down, and continued along our hike. For quick hikes, I like the Seven Springs Trail, so we went along that route.

Ten maybe fifteen minutes into the hike, I noticed something fall off Katy's pants, and stopped to look at it. It was a bright orange, so I thought it might be from Katy's shirt. Even after staring at it for a short bit, I was confused as to what it was. Katy, however, was not. "It's a snake."

Brian came over to look at it, and commented, yeah, it's a snake, but probably dead, let's move on.

A snake.

Up close and personal?

Yeah. I need a macro of that.

I snapped a picture standing over the snake, but couldn't really see what was going on with it. I stuck my face probably way too close, had I actually thought about what I was doing as I was fascinated by it.


No, it didn't look dead to me, but there was something odd about the dark spot on the tip of the snake. I couldn't quite figure it out.

I turned the macro on the camera, and looked at it, then adjusted myself to lean in closer.

"Uh, Kitt," I heard Katy say, "you probably don't want to do that."

Yeah. Probably didn't.

Just as I pressed the button to take a closer picture of the snake, it jumped at me.

I jumped away, too.

Snake shot

Turns out, the orange was the bottom of the snake, and the dark tip of the snake was its head turned right side up. It jumped at me, then slithered off to the bushes, as I squealed and laughed and took more pictures.

Then realized, wow, I had goosebumps all over me.


I really thought the snake had fallen off of Katy, but only after talking about what had happened, did I realize that it had probably slipped off the hill along the side of the trail, just as Katy was walking by. Because, you know, she said, she just doesn't have that Medusa style hair this week.

The rest of the hike was considerably less exciting, but no less fun! Brian and Katy took the lead, requiring only slight prompting to turn around for a picture (otherwise, I'd have all ass pictures).

Katy and Brian

Hats off!

We were done with our hike, with lots of water remaining, in just under the hour I promised them. It was a good hike. I'm glad we went.

As a side note, Katy wears the Vibram Five Fingers shoes. While Brian and I were leaving shoe prints in the dirt on the train, Katy was leaving adorable footprints:

Katy print

First all hands at the HackerDojo


We had our first all-hands, membership meeting of the HackerDojo at the HackerDojo. Really, to go from idea to momentum to incorporation to lease to opening in less than six months is impressive if looked at from an outside viewpoint. From here in Silicon Valley, wow, what took us so long?

I arrived a little early, mostly to straighten up a little bit, but also to think about what I was going to say in front of the group that was expected in an hour. Fortunately, Zonker had arrived and had his broom with him. I was able to zone out and think with the mechanical rhythm of pushing the room to clean up sawdust and leaves.

My two areas of talk were donations (what we need) and thanks (oh boy!). Donations were straight forward, as we have a list of things the HackerDojo is looking for. What may not have been clear to people is that they don't need to actually OWN the stuff themselves to be helpful in finding furnishing and equipment for the HackerDojo. Aside from Craiglist, Freecycle lists are also a great way to find items people are giving away. Our biggest problem is getting crap (or as Kris says, "Free shit is still shit.") as people people clean out their garages thinking, "oh someone could use this." Yeah, free crap is still crap.

Figuring out who to thank as my second topic was far harder than I thought it would be. My first instinct was to just thank everyone, because really, wow, didn't everyone help? But, well, as I pushed that broom and people began to filter in, I realized that, no, not everyone here had contributed equally. There were some people that were head and shoulders above the rest, a fact which really shouldn't surprise me.

In every volunteer organization I've been in, EVERY single one, from ultimate leagues to Master Gardeners to the HackerDojo, the majority of the work is done by a small number of very passionate individuals. The trick of a good volunteer organization is to have someone in a high enough position, with a strong enough personality, who goes out and individually picks people to lead tasks that need to be done. When there is one person in charge of a project, the project gets done. When there's a group, the diffusion of responsibility leads to a diffusion of blame, and nothing gets done.

To that end, I had Sam Odio to thank, for both taking on projects that I just handed him, no questions asked, and getting our new railing in. I had Dean Mao to thank, for both his staffing of the Dojo and the networking setup. Dean was one of the strong candidates for the Founding Director position, and a great contributor to the Dojo. I had Zonker to thank for testing, labelling and fixing all of the outlets, lights and switches of the Dojo. I asked for a volunteer to take on this project, and don't think I could have found a better person for the job. I had Tom Harrison to thank, for both his SHDH contributions, but he behind the scenes support is getting things going. The Tom/David/Jeff combination is really hard to stop when they get going.

So, I had my donation list. I had my list of people to thank, because i was going to forget the names of everyone I've met, who have been helping out. After Brian did an introduction, Melissa gave a budget status report, David wowed the crowd in his energetic, dynamic style, and Jeff talked about projects, I stepped up before 60+ people, took a picture, and commented, "Boy am I glad I didn't have to follow David!" I did receive a number of laughs.

What I found surprising about standing there, and I noticed as I was standing up there, was that my heart wasn't racing. I had none of the usual public speaking fears. My hands didn't sweat, my voice didn't crack, my heart didn't thump-thump-thump as I improvised my thanks and call for donations of fans, furniture and vacuums. A strange type of talking, and I definitely had moments of oops, but for the most part, my chat went well.

I stayed around to meet a number of people, before I just had to leave, the project I'm working on calling insistently loudly in the back of my head. I'm very excited for this project. I hope the space isn't too big and that the culture that develops is amazing.

With the group there, we should be good.