I have grown accustomed to, and perhaps even fond of, traveling on a near weekly basis, all of my prior trips have allowed me a reset and return to my beloved San Francisco in between destinations. This trips was the first time I had traveled directly from one destination to the next in direct succession. This proved rather exhausting but at the same time exhilarating and strangely satisfying. I sit here and find myself surprised and confused by the complexity of what I have felt over the course of this journey.
I wanted to follow the general “overview/food and fun/sessions” model the other posts on this site take with regard to the three cities I got to visit, I am proud to say there are 3 such posts that cover those aspects, linked below. However, I thought a meta post was in order about the totality of the experience of this one.
Before I do that though I would like to clear the air about something and that is the intended audience for these posts.
That audience is me. Specifically future me.
The fact that you are reading this delights me, but this is a bit of a joyous happenstance rather than a deliberate intention. I thought it might be a good idea to take a moment to first thank you and then to give you a tad more context for this entire writing project. This is also some of my rationalizing not following SEO length best practices and just getting all the details as verbose as I care to.
So, thank you for reading.
Now, to elaborate on my content goals, I started traveling ‘for reals’ over a year ago in the Spring of 2016 and immediately fell in love with the lifestyle. The miles, the unpredictability, the family that is the other road warriors of the communities. All of it.
I got to the end of 2016 though, returned from WordCamp US and had a few weeks to breath and reflect. I had been keeping a list of all the cities I had seen on my trips, which is the oldest blog post on this site, but I was hard pressed to remember exactly who I had met where or what I had done at each place. 20 destinations that had all become a big ball of mud in my memory.
That is why I started writing. To remind myself of the facts I thought were the most important to reflect on. Where I learned what and what party was which. And here I am today sharing it with you.
There are a few meta things that don’t fit ‘the formula’ exactly, but are critical to this overall tri-city journey, so I am going to encapsulate them as best I can in this post.
Biggest thing that was different going into this trip is that I turned vegan. Yep, I did. I have been debating with myself on if I should write about this or not. I want to be transparent and open here, with the hope that when I do reread this one day I will recall why I made the decision to not bring it up directly outside of this particular post.
It was not for health reasons, nor directly for environmental reasons, nor for the kindness to animals part. It is really because of two main factors.
The first reason is the one that I was tipped over the edge by a pretty vegan girl I was trying to impress by taking her to vegan joints. In pretty short order I realized that there is an awesome plant based foodie movement that is well underway. Once I saw the sheer creativity and amazing quality of entrees, well, the traditional ‘meat as the star of the meal’ just seemed lazy. It is one of those things that you can’t unsee. With dozens of types of vegetable and mushrooms available at pretty much any market the reality is that something like 90% of a traditional restaurant menus are some variation of ‘slices of animal with a starch and one or two options of veggies’. I have not eaten as good, novel or varied foods as I have since I made this plunge.
The second reason is actually indirectly because of Chris Lema’s brilliant talk “What got you here will not get you there.” Let me explain. I grew up a Trekkie. ST:TNG and ST:V were my jam. That future is vegan. There is even an episode about it where they don’t allow a planet into the federation because they still used animals for food. if we want to get to Star Trek, using animals to synthesize protein and fats for consumption just seems hella arcane. This is literally a pre-agricultural society concept.
Now, I do recognize that there is a ton of privilege in that statement. If I had to source all my own calories, I would likely use animals to do it too. I am highly fortunate to have a life that allows me to think in such abstractions. But back to the point here, if we want to get to the point we can travel the stars, well maybe we better start focusing on how to meet nutrition in new ways. If we are far from this rock and all we have is a fusion reactor to power us, we are not going to be wasting resources on cows, pigs, or any other animals for food. Right now it is 100% possible to get all our nutrition from plants but not nearly as affordable since the food industry and supply systems are not set up to support this yet.
This is why I am taking the plunge intellectually. To get the quality and availability of these foods advanced as far and as fast as I can. Voting with my dollars towards this kind of future where a machine on a wall spits out foods that do not yet exist that will delight our pallats in ways our ancestors couldn’t dream up and readily available to anyone who is hungry.
Sleep is not my goal
Yes, I get tired. Yes there is a price to be paid for this approach to living and staying this active. Yes, I am having an amazing time. I want everyone to feel the same satisfaction I do when a late night party turns into a friendship. Or when ‘just one more round’ turns into a serious business discussion with a ‘win-win’ solidly identified because of a personal trust that gets forged as the night flames with fire. I am at a loss for how to better communicate this though. I do fully recognize that this type of life is not feasible to some folks and fear alienating those who I do encourage to join the party.
What I am learning
What I have learned along the way. While I write about the various sessions I attend I rarely write about the impact that absorbing this much knowledge has been having on me as a human being.
I am ultra privileged to attend the breath of conference and camps that I do. I have attended and taken many notes at talks that varied from Symfony Framework tooling to how to be a better freelancer. Why accessibility matters to mental health best practices. How to write a theme to how to build a designation website. How important security really is to the internet to hot dish vs casserole.
My brain feels like it has grown in size over the last year and my frame of reference for the entire web industry has broadened immensely. I rarely stop to think about the sum total of what I have learned, but occasionally I have these little epiphanies that I know things that even just a few months ago I would have been hard pressed to attempt to explain. Things like answering questions around CLI use for a CMS. Things like configuring DNS to prevent search engines from indexing duplicate content (which kills SEO btw). Things like giving advice on how to write a session for a camp.
I am overwhelmed, even to the point of finding myself rather emotional at times, at the amazingness of this situation I am in. Of the rare opportunity I have been granted by circumstance and the fates and by amazing people who believe in me. I can’t thank them enough. I do my best to stay grateful.
That felt really good to get off my chest. All of it. I had been stewing those thoughts as I formulated the other posts and I am very glad to have captured them here.
Thanks again for reading and sharing my journey. Let me get you back to the regularly scheduled program. Here are the links for the three cities in the normal format and order:
1) WordCamp Raleigh
2) DrupalCon Baltimore
3) WordCamp Chicago
— Dwayne McDaniel (@McDwayne) April 29, 2017