This has been a big decade for me.

Ten years ago, I was living in Sunnyvale, in the heart of Silicon Valley; VA had just had its crazy IPO; my unvested options were worth over a million dollars on paper. I remember sitting in first class[1] on the way out of Atlanta after the holidays and wondering what one did with a million dollars. Avoid working too much? Have a lot of interesting computers? Build a distributed house[2]? Mostly I decided to not count my chickens, which turned out to be the right choice.

Six months later, I started debian-installer, in many ways my biggest project to date.

In spring of '01, VA was crashing; I was sick of the Valley; gloom was everywhere. I took the hint and quit, cashed in my options for five figures, not seven, bade forewell to the many people I'd come to know, and moved back east.

By reading my old journal, I can tell that subconciously, I had long before decided what to do when it was time to leave the Bay Area. So without really thinking too much about why I was able to do this, about how not just my own family, but others were indirectly making it possible, I moved to a 150 acre wooded "farm", and mostly went off and did mostly my own thing for three years.

This was such a huge life change. I lived in a building affectionatly called "the shack". It was renovated from a chicken coop in the 70's and leaked during heavy rain, but I preferred it to the main house (warmer). I went back to dialup for internet. I hauled groceries and most everything half a mile in by hand. There was an outhouse and washwater hauled from a creek. I cut barely enough firewood and readapted my body from California to cold.

My main tech project during this time was mooix. In some ways my largest failed project, but it was neat to be able to go off and do such a thing.

This was a blissful, reflective, peaceful, amazing time. Parts were a second childhood. Somewhere in there I properly confronted my mortality. And learned to use a chainsaw. And over the course of three years, I dug myself into a rut, a hole. I wasn't going anywhere.

(Except for a month in Honduras, and my first DebConf in Oslo.)

In '04, I found myself talking on the phone to a cosmonaut in a house that had been without power for days in a hard winter. I realized I was ready to leave the farm if I could figure out how to do it, and I almost took him up on the job working on his new Linux distro -- but at the last minute Oslo connections suggested I work for SkoleLinux instead, and so I did.

Soon after moving into a rented house in town, I was jaunting off to Brazil for a month, a great time. Followed by a productive year where I got heavily back into debian-installer, started Debian's testing security tream, and generally worked a lot.

The next summer I fooled around with an RV, and sort of fell into a job with ADS. But my time on the farm had changed me, I think. I ended up going back to the farm for a year and working part time from there. During this time I also started ikiwiki and other smaller projects.

One day I came back from a camping trip and found the kitchen had been torn down in my absence. Reminded unsubtly that I was not the only one with a claim to the place, I got out, though I somehow suspect not for good.

For the last four years, I've been more outwardly settled, buying a house in town, continuing to work at the same job, starting little projects like pristine-tar, mr, and etckeeper. About two years in I began to feel antsy sometimes (and had a minor medical scare), and set up the yurt as a relief valve so I can have crazy adventures in the cold woods again. Still, I sometimes feel that a big change is building up.

From here, this decade feels like it contained endless changes, important decisions, interesting projects, strong experiences. The 90's, containing only little things like college and moving to California, pale in comparison. Maybe the naught's will be the decade I always remember.. or maybe not. Anything could be around the corner.

  1. Bumped up due to an airline scheduling snafu, not because I was throwing money around.

  2. Concept of mine perhaps not worth explaining here although it was oddly similar to how I ended up living at the farm. Good ol' subconcious..