It was just after 6:00 p.m. on Friday and an orange sun was setting on the tiny Sierra mountain town of Markleeville, Calif.
Walking down the main street of Highway 89 past the historic buildings and the county courthouse, a surreal and unsettling feeling persisted. The streets were packed with cars and people, which is an uncommon sight for this remote town of 200 residents. But this weekend more than 2,100 long-distance cyclists were staying in town or at the surrounding campsites and cabins for the annual Death Ride bicycle race.
Up ahead fine dinners packed the outdoor tables at a local farm-to-table restaurant, chomping away on their oven-fired pizzas and garden salads. Across the street, motorcycles lined up out from the Cut Throat Bar while patrons inside sucked down their IPAs.
And meanwhile, a raging forest fire was bearing down on town, approach fast and just a few miles away.
12 years ago today, when RSS readers were all the rage, I launched this WordPress.com blog to document the adventures of the “Weekndr Family,” aka me and @accidentaltechie To commemorate, I’ve assembled some of my favorite posts:
I want to take a minute to recognize Salman Ansari, who published a fine essay on his newsletter/blog this month titled “The Polymath Playbook,” which goes on to describe the benefits of being a multi-disciplinarian in a world of specialists.
I met Salman when he signed up for a pop-up woodworking class/dinner party I hosted last year in San Francisco. (remember when we could do fun things like that?!)
I have a day job in the Silicon Valley tech industry, but in my spare time I make a business out of my hobbies. In my popular SK8Makers woodworking class, based on my book “The Handmade Skateboard,” I guide students through the process of designing and building a custom skateboard from scratch over the course of 6 hrs/2 days.
Here’s a photo from day-two: Salman helping his classmate Kate drill the truck-holes in her unfinished skateboard deck, while another student Stacey keeps an eye on the angle of her cut.
It turns out one of the reasons Salman and I got along so well is because like him, I’m a polymath, too!
My entire life I had never heard the term, yet I had been living it in my professional career and personal pursuits. As the son of a scientist and fiber artist, you might say I’m a Polymath by birth.
My resume also illustrates this: print journalist -> magazine editor -> web producer -> digital product manager -> product marketing manager -> enterprise product designer -> relationship manager -> who knows what’s next.
So does my hobby resume: crafter -> welder -> woodworker -> skateboard maker -> recreational vehicle builder -> author -> illustrator -> videographer -> web designer
TBH, I do not find “Polymath” to be a very attractive word for such a Liberal Artsy concept. But I’m fine to retire the terms “Renaissance Man” or “Jack of All Trades” for one that doesn’t ignore all the multitalented non-male Polymaths in the room.
I was a freshman in high school on March 3, 1991 when Rodney King was beat down by a gang of Los Angeles Police officers and unknowingly caught on video tape. A bystander in an apartment complex across the street captured the police beating with a 15-pound VHS video camera, and then mailed the tape to KTLA-TV where it was broadcast as a Channel 5 exclusive revealing to White America, a reality only known by Black Americans.
These were the days way before citizens cell phone cameras and social media, which allowed for the capture and broadcast this week of another brutal police killings of Minnesota resident George Floyd.
Even as technology changes, police brutality, and the systematic oppression and violence against minorities — most predominantly black men — has not changed.
It is a plague on our country worse than the coronavirus, and it has not gone away.
As a white suburban teenager I’ve watched this virus spread before, and 30 years later the plague has still not gone away. New, young people continue to be infected by it — suffering a disease of white supremacy. New victims die from it every day.
A year after the Rodney King beating, police caught on camera kicking and pummeling were acquitted. It set off protests and riots in Los Angeles and cities across the country, including Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, Calif., just a few miles away from my house where I was watching it on TV.
Sublime begins its timeless rally song “April 29, 1992” about the LA Riots with these lyrics:
April 26th, 1992 There was a riot on the streets Tell me where were you? You were sittin’ home watchin’ your TV While I was participating in some anarchy
It’s May 31, 2020 and we can write the same song again. And many of us are still sittin’ home watchin’ our TVs — and Twitter feeds.
What are we going to do so that no other generation has to write this song again?