October, 2008

Oct 08

a few more berlin pictures


Originally uploaded by John Lilly

I’m posting a few more pictures from Berlin now that I’ve got a fast internet connection. Will put them in a set shortly. I have to say that while it’s a pain to carry around a big camera, the camera + lens make all the difference. Makes me sort of want my own dSLR. Loving Kathy’s 40D.

Oct 08


Holy cow, Madrid is, so far, unlike any place that I’ve been. We got to our hotel after midnight last night, and the area outside our hotel was filled with people, and lit up like it was the middle of the day. People were up through the whole night — I had to crash around 2a, since I had a 9a meeting this morning. We’re only here for about 20 hours this time, but I’m going to make a point to come back before too long….

[As an aside, I’m really interested in BrightKite and their iPhone application. Not sure it will stick with me, since without background apps on the iPhone you have to active the app to update your location, but it’s a really interesting development. Worth watching.]

Oct 08

Why I Voted Against Proposition 8

This is a political post that’s more candid than most I do that aren’t Obama-related lately, but feels important to me. If you’re not interested in my view here, please do skip.

Last week I voted absentee, and there were 2 extremely important votes in my mind: Obama for president, and no on California Proposition 8, which would amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, effectively banning same-sex marriages.

I think this is wrong, for 2 basic reasons:

  • It’s hateful and discriminatory, and discrimination like this should not be codified into law.
  • We live in a time where human connections and commitments are increasingly hard to maintain and be true to over the long haul.

More broadly, though, is this: we should support and celebrate human commitments to each other to live in service of and support of one another, in any form we find them. It is not easy to live in a committed relationship with anyone for the long haul — and rejecting the recognition of that type of commitment is wrong, and, I think, counter-productive in a society where nuclear families of all sorts are so hard to maintain.

[You should also read Chris Messina’s post on the subject — he writes more eloquently than I do about this subject, and is well worth reading.]

Oct 08

Brandenburg Gate Lit Up

I’ve been in Berlin the past 2 days for a community event, some press meetings, and a talk at Web 2.0 Expo this morning. Got to walk around Berlin some last night, and saw the Festival of Lights all around the city. Amazing stuff. This is just before I crashed from jet lag…

Oct 08

new eyes

A few months back, my grandfather Monte (my mom’s father) and his wife Myra came to visit us here. (From now on, though, I’ll call him “Bampa,” which I named him back about a million years ago.) This was no small feat — they rode Amtrak out from Georgia — up through Washington, DC, over to Chicago, down to Austin to spend a few days with my brother’s family, and then west all the way to Los Angeles, where I picked them up. I’d been looking forward to spending time with them, and had been meaning to have Bampa tell me more about his life. He’s led an interesting life, growing up mostly in Washington State, but really moving around a lot, was a GI in WWII, got his engineering degree at Georgia Tech, worked at Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore in the 50s, in the rocket engineering field in the 50s & 60s, and eventually settling down for good in St. Simons Island & Brunswick, GA, where they live now, and he’s still a practicing civil engineer, at 85 years old. He’s also the person who was most influential in convincing me to apply to Stanford for college, and that’s had obvious & far-reaching implications for my career and life.

So we were touched and excited that Bampa & Myra went to such an effort to visit David’s family and then ours. It’s one thing to go visit your family; it’s another to be able to share with them some part of your own adult life, and learn about theirs in kind. My dad’s parents both passed away before I had really established much of my own life; my mom’s mother is past the point of being able to travel out to California (although she did when Kathy & I were married in 2000, which I’m grateful for). Sometimes I feel very distant out here on the left coast. Most of both Kathy’s & my family live so far east of here: my brother in Austin, Kathy’s folks in San Antonio, my parents in Nashville and Atlanta, most of my extended family in Georgia. Being able to share some of it when our parents visit is wonderful — and it was great to be able to share some with Bampa.

On the drive up, we drove along the coast for a while, then inland — and drove by Camp Roberts, where Bampa was actually stationed in the 1940s, and he told us some stories about that. Yet another reminder that we all walk an earth that’s been traveled much before us.

The whole week was wonderful. We spent an afternoon at Stanford — sat in on a d.school class that I helped with (a tiny, tiny bit). It was projects that had a real focus on Facebook — not sure Bampa totally got it, but he understood the design process very well — recognized it from his own experience — which was great. We spent time in the Marin Headlands (beautiful as always). We went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (top five favorite places anywhere). Had a just-about-perfect Italian dinner in North Beach. Couldn’t have been better, really.

What I didn’t really anticipate is how it felt to see things simultaneously through Bampa’s 80+ year old eyes and through SPL’s 3 year old eyes. Old & new, experiencing the same things. Just a reminder that the world is both incredibly modern in many ways, and the same as it’s ever been in so many others. It was just a really good time we all had together, and was great to share it with family.