Notes from Underground: The Dark Before the Dawn

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Dancing in the darkness,
Your deepest desires …
Do you know why you’re here?
Do you think you have control?

— Lexicon Avenue, Why R U Here?

IMG_3881What a week. What a month.

Hard to believe I’m back on the fast track in the Silicon Valley startup scene.  Shipping!  Hiring!  Organizational issues!  Interpersonal conflicts!  Planning!  Strategy!  A third of my team is in Singapore, and if events had gone as planned I would have been there instead of at The Atrium last night.  Alas, when I went to check in for my flight, they noticed that my passport expires in September — and Singapore (like many other countries these days) requires documents to be valid for at least six months.  Sigh.

Control is an illusion.
Influence, however, is possible.

— dialog with Alayne Reesberg, 2004

But instead, after stressful times and long hours working down in the Bay Area, it was great to get back to Seattle Thursday night.  After a relaxing Saturday I was soooooo ready to dance.  And talk about perfect timing: a six-hour DJ Anomaly set at The Dark Before the Dawn at the Atrium!  Yay!!!!!!

The west coast psytrance scene seems to be doing pretty well these days.  I’ve been working so much that we’ve missed a lot of great shows, but I’ve still managed to see Cortex at Synchronize, Logic Bomb at Pulse, Full Power Friday at Retox.  The Atrium’s smaller than any of those clubs, but it’s a lot more comfy, with two great chill areas and tasty food and drinks till late.  DJ Anomaly had a lot of new tracks, and the vibe was great.  By the time cinnamon rolls magically appeared at 4:30, we were both feeling happy and relaxed.

I heart psytrance.

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Notes from Underground: Digging Out

from the DJ's booth

To ensure your future, some freedoms must be surrendered …
We will save you
We will save you
We will save you
From your selves

Robot Revolution (Say no to SOPA remix), Virtual Light vs. Wizack Twizack vs. ?,

San Francisco over the holidays was a lot of fun but by early January we were really glad to be back in Washington.  We got there Thursday afternoon and spent the next few nights at The Atrium: psytrance Thursday, stompy darkwave on Friday, and then more psytrance on Saturday at Brightness.  The next week it was a darkwave set Wednesday, psytrance Thursday … happy 2012!

Saturday, it was all night psytrance at Gibbous/Deadly Snow. The drinks were strong, the snacks were tasty, the place looked fantastic, and DJ Anomaly was on a roll. Monday night was stompy darkwave at Dead Snow … hey wait a second, I’m noticing a pattern here. Continue Reading »

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Notes from Underground: Eclipse

5 candlesEnd-of-year schedule overload led to an intense week, complete with meetings trickling over to the weekend.  Sigh.   But Friday afternoon was sunny, so I knocked off early and went for a walk in the woods.  After dinner I took a short nap and a good thing too.

What leads to a pivot? You don’t just wake up one day and decide to do something entirely different. It’s a gradual process.

— Tara Hunt, The Pivot (or How to Learn Humility in 4 Steps), Inc.

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Notes from Underground: NanoEvolution

Tonight at The Atrium -- NanoEvolution! It's going to be an epic night of psytrance.  Lots of new tracks so come on out!

Yeah really.  DJ Anomaly keeps getting better and better, the crowd was totally into it, the lighting made everybody look good, and at 5 a.m. cinnamon rolls appeared as if by magic … epic indeed!

IMG_3095We had both spent most of the week sitting and working so had a lot of pent-up energy.  D had hit her milestone and had that “I’ve earned it” feel.  I had gotten a lot done as well, evaluating potential platforms for the next iteration of qweries, although wasn’t as thrilled with the results: most of the options have glaring problems like “doesn’t work on mobile phones or iPads”, “logging in via Twitter doesn’t work”, or “sends passwords in plain text through email”.  Really?  In 2011?  Oh well, it is what it is; and by the time we got to the Atrium I wasn’t thinking about technology.
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Notes from Underground: IllumiNation, Travelling, and Transition II

IllumiNationWhy yes, I have been quiet for a while now that you mention it. 

We spent almost a month on the road, starting with Sacramento for a privacy coalition meeting,  and SF for Olli Wisdom at Space 550.  We had juggled our plans to be at IllumiNation, and it was totally the right call.   550 Barneveld is a great venue, and we ran into plenty of familiar faces from back in 2003/2004 when we used to hang out there all the time.  Musically, DJ Dragn’fly was great, and Olli was Olli — not as good as his legendary 2004 (((thump)) set, but still.  One of our friends was at her first psytrance party.  How cool is that?

The rest of the weekend was sunny in SF.  We took it easy on Saturday, and I spent Sunday hanging out in Dolores park with a friend.  Life is good.

Monday morning, it was on the train to DC.  Well, more accurately, the train to Chicago, which got there eight hours late.  So we missed our connection.  So we wound up on an overnight thirteen-hour bus ride to DC.  Fun!  Well no, not actually.  But still, we made it; and BORDC’s board retreat (the main reason we were there) was excellent.  From there it was on to Charleston to see my Mom; very weird not celebrating Halloween, but it was great to see her.  And then back to SF again, and finally home to Seattle.  After sleeping at four different hotels, three residences, the train, and the bus (or at least trying to, on a 14-hour overnight trip from Chicago to DC) … can I just say how good it is to be home?
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Notes from Underground: Equinox+One and Solitude

Tonight at the Atrium -- Equinox+One

rainbow matrixSummer ended quickly in Seattle this year. One day it was sunny and 80 degrees; the next it was cloudy and 60. DJ Anomaly’s Thursday night Equinox+One marked the official start of fall with a great set — and some familiar faces. “Hey, I remember seeing you years ago at Infected Mushroom and Astral Projection at Premiere … what’s new?” Good times!

D was out of town over the weekend, so after a long day of work on Saturday, instead of going out I decided to stay home, put on a DJ Anomaly mix, and enjoy the solitude.   At first I was thinking it would be a night filled with introspection, checking out old journals and photos and blog posts and reflecting on what’s happened and where I’m going next.

But as I listened to the music, my mind wound up turning off …

So instead I just enjoyed myself.

I heart psytrance.

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Notes from Underground: Interim

DJAnomalySF: Tonight at The Atrium - Interim - psytrance!

interim flowersIt had been a week of solid work so by the time the weekend came around we were both more than ready for a break.  Friday night was 80s night at The Atrium … the champagne flowed freely and the hits just kept on coming, everything from Head over Heels to Two of Hearts (!), the Bangles to ABC.   The lighting made everybody look great, and there were cupcakes!  What’s not to like?

Sunny days and warm nights
Appreciating good friends
The moon smiling down

Saturday DJ Anomaly kicked off Interim with One World One Sky, of all things, but after that it turned into some serious psytrance and another great night.    The name struck a chord: we were both in something of an interim mood, enjoying a brief respite as the summer wraps up before heading into what’s looking like a packed fall.   And with 9/11 and Constitution Day coming up, my thoughts were as usual on social networks and civil liberties.

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Notes from Underground: Intention and Transition

laptopAfter last Saturday’s inflection point, the week was filled with writing, outlining, and business modeling.  Oh and Google+ of course.   Anxiously masculinity under threat, structural oppression, and nymwars … no shortage of interesting topics!  In a depressing kind of way, that is.

So once again I was ready for the weekend.  Friday night, we dropped by Gibbous, DJ Anomaly’s bi-weekly, for a couple hours.  Saturday was burn night on the playa; here in the Seattle area, it was Intention, again with DJ Anomaly.  And then Sunday, while the Temple of Transition burned in Black Rock Desert, I was back at The Atrium one more time for Transition.

It was a sparse crowd and the DJs were okay but nothing out of the ordinary.  D stayed home writing and I wound up running into a friend I used to hang out with a lot a few years ago.  After we exchanged hellos and caught up on what was happening, she told me that she was thinking of buying a new Android phone but was concerned about Google tracking her.   From there we drifted to a discussion of Google+ and pseudonymity.

The two of us first met online, at a social network site where almost everybody used pseudonyms.  I spent most of my online time there for a couple years, back before Facebook and Twitter.  The discussions were great, the people were interesting, and over the years many of us wound up meeting and often becoming friends in real life.   Long-awaited first meetings, dancing at Bar Sinister, zooming through the streets of DC at 3 a.m. on the back of a scooter … you don’t need to know somebody’s “real name” for any of this.

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Notes from Underground: Darkness and Inflection

“When a corporation acquires great power, the use — or misuse — of that power is everything. Will it be used for the greater good, or for selfish and destructive means? Now this is a question we must all ask ourselves. Why? Because we are Google.”

Evolution (nymwars remix), Skyloops, remixed by anonymous

It was another week of nymwars, uncertainty, booking train tickets instead of flying, and helping friends deal with difficult emotional situations. Good thing I was inoculated! And a good thing too that DJ Anomaly’s residency at the Atrium continued with Darkness Friday night followed by Inflection on Saturday.

snickerdoodles under black lightThe crowd and music were great both nights, and the food just keeps getting better and better. Jupiter is still bright, and with clear skies and a new moon the viewing was great. The energy was somewhat relaxed, for lack of a better word … a lot of people stayed home preparing for Burning Man, so it wasn’t real crowded on the dance floor. But everybody there seemed to be having a good time. Including me!

sparkling lightsD tells me I was fairly quiet both evenings, lost in my thoughts … stop me if you’ve heard this before: dancing to psytrance, fighting for civil liberties. Back in June 2010 the Social Network Users’ Bill of Rights phrased it as “the right to self-identify”. The right isn’t widely recognized yet, but we’re doing a better and better job fighting for it. Who knows how it’ll work out, but Eric Schmidt’s dream of Google+ as a government-friendly identity system (and perhaps a job in the next administration) has met with almost universal opposition in the tech press and more and more people are aware of the threat and looking for ways to respond. That’s a good thing.

Alas, as a result of all this, looking at my goals for the year, I haven’t made a lot of visible progress over the last few months. And in the process I’ve been spending most of my online time in an environment that’s hostile, sexist, and overwhelmingly male. Drat. I hate it when that happens.

Oh well, it is what it is.  And more positively there’s plenty of encouraging stuff as well. So, while things are dark in a lot of ways right now, as I let myself get lost with the music and the vibe take, I found myself thinking that perhaps the nymwars and the rest of summer 2011 also mark an inflection point.

And when I woke up late on Sunday morning, an inflection point still seemed like a good idea to me.   I heart psytrance.

blue and purple

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Notes from Underground: Inoculation

Inoculation at The Atrium tonight. Psytrance!!!

Once again it had been a long week. Friday afternoon we went out to happy hour, then took a nap and danced for a few hours at Gibbous. And lucky us: Saturday night, DJ Anomaly was back at the Atrium for Inoculation. w00t!

Like a snake that simply uncoils itself form its own not, passion returns to its natural state independent of any external antidotes.  It is self-liberated.  It is already in the nature of transcendence.

— Dzogchen Ponlop, from Four Great Modes of Liberation, in Mind Beyond Death

Inoculation

It was pretty darn transcendent at Inoculation.  The place looked amazing, there was a seemingly endless supply of strawberries and watermelon, and it was DJ Anomaly’s best set yet.  By 3 a.m. we could see the waning gibbous moon over the dance floor — and Jupiter too, unusually bright!

the moon and the sun

Inoculation

Inoculation
Making our own happiness
At the atrium.

Today’s been a lazy day after, sleeping late enjoying the sun and taking it easy.  Who knows how long it’ll last, but for now I feel totally inoculated.  I heart psytrance.

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Notes from Underground: Perseids and Assimilation

How time flies when you’re having fun! After another quick trip to the Bay Area for some wine tasting in Sonoma, we’re back in Seattle for the full moon, meteor showers, and back-to-back DJ Anomaly shows at The Atrium. w00t!

Professionally, once again a lot’s happened since my last post on The Union of Bliss and Emptiness.  The underling ideas behind qweries still make sense, but with Google+ (and the upcoming Google Questions) it really doesn’t seem like now’s the best time to be writing a bunch of software.  Then again, in chaos is opportunity.  So Kathy Gill and I came up with an interesting ebook idea — with Google+ as the first target!  And we were just starting to get some momentum when the nymwars hit.

One thing that helps reassure me I’m on the right side in this war: during my six weeks on Google+ I’ve met literally hundreds of new and interesting people.  While the general environment is overwhelmingly male, with plenty of sexism and bigotry, my own circles are filled with a remarkably diverse group of great conversationalists (along with the occasional troll).  One of my new year’s resolutions is “spend more time on diversity-friendly social networks, and less in sexist, racist, and elitist environments”, and the last few weeks have really reminded me of how important that is.   So I’m going to renew my Dreamwidth subscription and start looking at Disapsora.

Alas, Google’s certainly giving the impression that they don’t want G+ to be that kind of place.  Their latest statements on the naming policy imply that they’re going to try to tough it out knowing full well that what they’re doing is harmful to women, lgbtq’s, activists, people with disabilities, and a lot of other groups — including many of my friends, who are unsurprisingly leaving or cutting way back on their posting.  I’m still optimistic that Google will come to their senses at some point … but when?  And until they do, how much time and energy do I want to be investing in their new world order?  Tricky questions …

Exciting times, to be sure, but somewhat stressful.  And with stresses in my personal life too … well, let’s just say I’m ready to dance.   Fortunately there’s an embarassment of riches tonight in the Seattle: Lara and Muschi at Inertia Labs’ 13th anniversary, and DJ Anomaly at the Atrium, following up last nights Perseids party with Assimilation.  Lots to look forward to!  I heart psytrance.

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Notes from Underground: The Union of Bliss and Emptiness

multicolored candlesA lot’s happened since Anomalous: Seattle Startup Weekend, a friend’s wedding, Pink Saturday and Pride in San Francisco (with sets by Liam Shy and Psysas!), Death Guild, Spook at Synchronize, Strangelove, the SF Mime Troupe in Dolores Park on the Fourth of July … after 10 days in San Francisco, we drove back to Seattle early last week.  And oh yeah, Google+ launched, and seems likely to integrate question-and-answer functionality soon — impact on qweries to be determined, but certainly cause for some rethinking.

So I was ready to dance, and DJ Anomaly once again obliged with a killer set at The Atrium.  Work was on my mind a lot more than I had inspected; no surprise, really, since that’s where the big open question in my life is at this point.   But once again the decor was great at the Atrium, candles and black light, reflections stretching out to infinity — and lighting that makes everybody look good — so for most of the night I was able to leave day-to-day concerns behind and get into the music and vibe. Continue Reading »

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