reflections of a pragmatic optimist, lover of freedom

Month: October 2011

Just Being Myself

A minor announcement: After six years of blogging as “an unrepentant kulak”, I’ve switched to publishing under my real name.

It’s bothered me for a while now that others have taken far greater risks to secure the freedom and the thriving free society that I enjoy, and also has felt odd to me to “hide” behind a pseudonym to advocate for what are, or ought to be, fairly non-controversial, mainstream, foundational American principles. Now that I’ve gone solo in my work, and no longer have an employer to protect, I also feel a bit freer to drop the pseudonym, and I think with age I’ve also become more comfortable with being liked or disliked (or loved or reviled!) for who I am, and I’ve seen the need to do what we can for what matters most to us, in the time we have.

Not much more to say about it beyond that. As I wrote when I started this blog, I’ve endeavored to keep the discussion reasonable and refrain from writing anything that I didn’t feel comfortable standing by. Looking back on six years of work, I think I’ve lived up to that promise, and I intend to continue striving for the same goal.

I’ve written a bit about my former nom de plume, which people have occasionally asked about, at the bottom of my new Welcome page. In the accompanying site reorg., I also moved my blogroll and other sidebar links to their own page, which I expect will make them a lot easier to keep up to date. I hope visitors will take a look there now and again; there are some truly great blogs, sites, and podcasts listed. I’ve updated my Twitter and Ricochet profiles too.

That’s it for now.

Nothing more to see here.

To my online friends of many years: Nice to meet you. Again!

(Footnote: Because of the way I set up my blog template, all previous posts have been retroactively tagged with my new byline. Just FYI.)

Launch Day

I have eagerly awaited this day for a very long time now. Today, for the first time in years, I own my own time again, and I’m officially embarking on the adventure of starting my own software development company.

I have a million and one things on my mind to do with this precious first day, let me tell you, so allow me to defer to my original announcement of this endeavor, which I think already captured the event’s significance to me pretty darn well:

I’ve had the entrepreneurial bug for a while now, and a new job for my wife that requires us to move cross-country has had the welcome effect of forcing/facilitating Decision Time. We’ve put our house on the market, and later this month will be moving to lovely Packanack Lake, New Jersey. I’ll have a couple months of working remotely for my previous employer ahead, to tie up loose ends and leave my areas of responsibility in the best shape I can, but come October 1st [OK, I ended up sticking around for a bit more loose-end tying than I originally planned on!] I’ll be striking off in pursuit of my own American Dream — which, to me, means taking a chance on myself and my ideas and aspirations, embracing risk and challenge, and developing my talents to their fullest, with the hope of producing things that other people find useful, and in the process making the work I love my living. I’m grateful to have enjoyed something close to that in my current job, but this is an opportunity to own the entire creative process from end to end, to challenge and take chances on my own design sense, and to pursue areas of application that serve other markets.

I’m tremendously excited, and am positively chomping at the bit to get started. There are plenty of logistics to take care of between here and Day One, but I feel lighter with the knowledge that I’ve committed to this new course, and that I’m giving myself permission to do the very things I yearn to. I also hope this change will enable me to do more writing here, and I mean to include among that writing the story of my startup venture as it unfolds.

As I set my sights on this Big Dream (and, when I think those words, Bill Whittle’s “Trinity” (part 2 here) is on my mind as having so brilliantly put into words what I feel about it), in the forefront of my thoughts is a deep and abiding appreciation for a culture that, in its very bones, cherishes, celebrates, and strives to exhort exactly this kind of big dreaming. What I’m setting out to achieve is exactly what a culture founded on the individual right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness designed itself for. My gratitude for this opportunity is immense, and I mean to make use of it to achieve great things, while always remembering my debt to those who took tremendous risks before me to make it all possible.

As I later wrote, “Day One sitting at my desk in my newly appointed home office, ready to create wonderful things, seems a long way off now, but I’m so charged with excitement about it that it’s getting me through the day-to-day tasks necessary to reach my goal — and that kind of focus is exactly what I need.” Well, it worked, and I made it through, and I’m here and ready and eager to go, and part of me can only just barely believe it. This first day will necessarily consist of some basic logistical stuff — such as getting my workspace cleared and transformed into a de-cluttered environment where I can think — but damn if even that isn’t an exciting and fun task taken in context. This baby is mine. I’m creating the environment I want, the technology I want, the culture and vision of the future I want. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Music has always been a huge motivator and connection to Important Stuff for me, and over the years I’ve accumulated a playlist of favorite entrepreneurial or otherwise inspiring songs that get me in the desired frame of mind to achieve. I’ve been thinking maybe I’ll make a habit of posting about one of them every once in a while.

There’s a lot of good stuff on the list, such that choosing a single Launch Day song to rule them all is no easy task, but when I think about it there’s a natural choice for me: I’m going with the Live in Paris version of Joe Satriani’s “Time Machine”, which I must apologize to my neighbors for cranking earlier today. Not particularly entrepreneurial — purely instrumental, in fact — but this one holds a deep connection for me, one that reaches back nearly two decades to some of my first serious thinking about my life, tugging at threads that have run through my life since, and striking those Mystic Chords of Memory that Bill Whittle has written so eloquently about. Turn it up and I’m back circa 1994, cruising up California’s Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica to Malibu to clear my head and think, with the album version (a worthy listen) driving my speakers for all they’ve got. I made Big Plans then, let me tell you, and now, today, I’m keeping promises made to myself long ago, and embarking full-throttle on fulfilling them. The feeling of elation is beyond my meager ability to describe. This is exactly where I need to be.

More to come soon!

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