Solstice Salutations and Ruminations

Firstly, Merry Summer Solstice! I am not much of one for organised religion (there’s another rant, along with spectactor sport) but I do have plenty of time for honouring and celebrating the turning of the world. I hope you took a moment outside today to mark Midsummers Eve. If not, there’s always tomorrow.

It was a beautiful day today in San Francisco, bright as usual, and unusually warm. I feared that when I started blogging I would end up writing about what I had for lunch today, trivial humdrum workaday details, and so forth. Perhaps I should just jump that shark now. Today I walked up New Montgomery from our Howard St. offices to Kearny and Bush, where I purchased a sandwich from the Boxed Lunch Company. I ate half on the steps above Montgomery Bart on the junction with Market and watched the world go by. After a day packed with meetings and reviews (’tis that season at Three Rings) I had a tremendously sweaty ‘welcome back’ Martial Arrrts class and then ate a fine sushi dinner with Landon (our infrastructuremeister). Today I wore a new green plaid 1960’s three-piece wool suit that I picked up from Portobello market, which was thoroughly unseasonal. This week I have mostly been eating yoghurt for breakfast.

Ahh, that’s better. I can relax now, having gotten that out of the way.

I have been away on something of combo vacation and business trip to New York and London. New York is an exciting town; I think it’s a lot like London, but vertically stretched. It’s exciting to be there, and the girls dress really well — I am a big fan of the sneakers (I would call them trainers) and business suit look. I caught up with some friends, one of whom is working at the warehouse of a major arrrt museum literally shuffling about and packing up incredibly valuable masterpieces. Sort of ‘Would you grab the Van Gough over there, next to the Cézanne, and take it over to the packing table?’ The way she described the place it sounded like an art gallery version of the warehouse scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark — infinite treasures of ancient civilisations locked away. The paintings in this case are, however, not generally sealed up… which makes me happier, even if only a few warehousarati are looking at them. This was only the ‘A’ list warehouse — they apparently have another one out of town. I also saw my pal Jennifer Behr who is doing really well with her new business. She’s been making hair accessories for ages for a bigshot ‘designer’ label, and just struck out on her own. This is the future, kids.

I was born and raised in London, and I have a lot of ambivalence towards it that most folks who visit (especially Americans, it seems) do not share. I often think of cities (along with countries and organisations) as animals. London is an ugly monster. Growing up under its belly you see the warts and mottled hue of its carriage. It is a tremendously old beast, glorious in its vast size, tremendous appetites, vices and manifold treasures. Part of this is scale; I find such ~15M+ great cities unwieldy and scary, whereas San Francisco with ~1M immediate population and ~4M in the greater metropolita seems like a very excellent size. Georgaphy and climate plays a part; the weather is of course often crap. National culture contributes; just as America is a young, big, adaptive and predatory animal that has come to dominate the global savannah, Britain is a small, crowded, narrow-minded country of bitter, angry disposition.

Despite this aversion, I had a very lovely time. I was nigh upon bombarded with babies on this trip, inspiring an apoplexy of procreative urges. I spent time with Persephone and the future lady-killer, Felix. My cousin Elizabeth has produced with her fella Rob the beautiful Irene, and my other cousins’ offsprings have propsered in their various shapes and sizes. This is one of the things I miss most about not living near my family and old friends.

While I was in England we won some football game or other, and I visited Brighton and Leeds, where we had a board meeting for Sense Internet, a company I co-founded in Leeds in 1995 with three friends from Unversity.

Rob Overseer is one of the co-founders. We were in the same flat in the first year of University. I hereby claim at least partial responsibility for introducing indie-youth Rob to the realm of ‘breaks’ (hip-hop, funk, breakbeat, hardcore, jungle, etc.) Trivia fact is that I used to play this kind of music, including a stint on Pirate Radio and lots of dodgy student parties in dusty basements with smoke machines and strobes. I was never a particularly good DJ (I mashed it up too much), but I had the ‘wicked tunes’. Anyway, these days Rob is a successful musician, with major-label publishing and recording contracts. His success seems to be based on the webternet, radio and lucrative video-game, film and advertising licensing. His CDs have yet to be widely distributed.

Sense is doing great, on a very similar scale to Three Rings with ~30 employees and similar revenues, but in the very different business of serving corporate clients. I’m much happier in a ‘consumer-facing’ business. Note: I rather dislike the word ‘consumer’, along with ‘user’. I try to use ‘player’.

Talking of players, we’re in the process of moving our servers to a new co-location facility in San Francisco. This is causing problems as we bridge our database between the two, which has led to some Puzzle Pirates downtime. Downtime gives me twitchy anxiety; it summons me back to 1990, in the back room of my mum’s house in West London fretting over losing the precious few customers of our commercial 2,400 baud dial-up MUD Avalon. My business partner would slap up a new release (hacked live on the production server during a ~12 Sunday downtime) and then skip out on the train, unavailable for a a few hours whilst the server merrily crashed and burned. Today we were down for ~30 minutes, but I find it hard to shake off the ants.

Thus, The thought of mates being unable to Pirate of a Midsummers Eve fills me with dread. My apologies to those affected, we are busting our booty to get everything shipshape.

It’s a warm night. We discovered today that the colocation facility we are moving *into* here in SF is selling out of space. This is a sure sign that things are warming up and getting very ‘web 2.0’ around here.

Merry Solstice, Mates! May the Sun and Moon smile upon us.

4 thoughts on “Solstice Salutations and Ruminations”

  1. I am in love with the world’s medium-sized cities — they have the perfect balance of resources and community. Small cities can be nice, but they are often empty and deserted outside of business hours. And giant cities are just overwhelming. San Francisco is a wonderful city, and quite similar in population distribution to the DC area. Perfection.

    It’s such a sign of the times that 30 minutes of downtime seems to warrant panic and anxiety. I always try to remind myself of the Dark Ages of the Interweb, when servers could be down for days for some upgrade or change. We’re all online so continuously, and we have such high expectations of instant gratification. In the case of yesterday’s YPP downtime, I think most players should be able to see that a few minutes off the ocean is worth better server stability and whatever other advantages you can now boast.

    Happy solstice! I hope you spent the year’s longest period of daylight wisely.

  2. Despite the hiccups involved, we’re all glad to see that the Y!PP servers are also finally being moved out of your mother’s basement.

  3. I have the opposite view of London and New York. Ive always loved London, maybe because it is a visit when I am there . New York is overwhelming even for a person who is used to cities like myself.

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