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A Cheeseburger In Paradise


Shaun had to leave PDC on Thursday evening.  Turns out he's a loving husband and father and abandoned his second love (DNN) for his first *grin*... to celebrate his 10 year wedding Anniversary!  We chatted DNN, like always... but this time with the top down!  On my way back from the airport, I decided to take a little break from the concrete jungle of downtown LA and seek a little of the magic of California.

Sans map, I just went a little north and then a little west, feeling my way out toward Venice Beach.  Where I live in Seattle, we often take "California Ave" on our way out to Alki Beach.  So when I hit "Washington Ave" I felt the karma and hung a left.  It drove me straight out to Venice Beach, cheap parking and a little slice of heaven!

It wasn't quite a super summer day... but it didn't take much imagination to conjure up "Bay Watch".  The sand was fine and warm.  With a little weather coming in from parts unknown, the waves were pounding the beach with increasing stature and authority.  Enough to call out quite a few body surfers strung along the peer... waiting in anticipation of their own magic moments and the perfect wave.

I strolled along the boardwalk a while, taking in the eclectic.  A native of the Pacific Northwest, I'm a good student of "people watching" and wasn't disappointed this day.  From shaggy surfer dudes to dog walkers resembling their pets (Boxers, tape-eared Doberman's, and a Lhasa Apso), roller skates to tandem bicycles.  I even stumbled across a filming session for the upcoming movie "The Dukes" ( and got to watch Chazz Palmerri and a couple of other recognizable folks in action for a while.  All in all it was a pretty cliché California evening.

I cruised a few restaurants looking at menus, but somehow couldn't get down with the array of glitzy food (even if it was happy hour).  Until I stumbled upon a little burger joint, oddly called "Buffalo Wings".  Somehow I suspect that the owner didn't even know what it was called... clearly English was not his first language.

The old guy behind the counter worked hard, you could tell.  Despite the cool of the evening, sweat ran from his brow.  Standing behind a counter that sported only two barstools, he said "what you want"?  So I ordered a double cheeseburger (they had a triple *grin*) and quickly changed my chili cheese fries to deep fried mushrooms when I got that far down the menu!  When he asked "for here?  to go?"  I could only assume he meant the card table and 4 folding chairs outside... "to go" I said... and he smiled.

While an extra fry basket squeezed grease from the beef patties (bigger than I expected) on the ancient grill... the old man asked me "you want lettuce? tomato? pickle? mustard? mayo?" to which I replied "yes" *grin*.  Quickly adding "no pickles"... which brought him up short.  He turned and looked at me as if I had ordered sushi.  Without moving his head or averting his eyes, he magically brought up a pair of tongs from behind the counter and held them out to me.  "Good pickles, you try" he said.  And he grinned.  Oh, what the heck.  Turns out he was right!  I smiled back and gave the universal thumbs up and said "OK, pickles"!

I threw a pretty big tip in his little jar.

The sun was just about set.  I sat myself down at the base of the lifeguard shack.  There was still a faint glow in the sky and the evening was chill, even for a hearty Alaskan dude.  The waves were  bigger now and I could feel the occasional zing of sand mixed with the salty breeze.  I closed my eyes, listening.  If you've never listened to the surf... you should, someday.  It's good for the soul.

I sat there, squished up against the pillar of the lifeguard shack.  I ate my double cheeseburger... perhaps the best one I've had in at least a decade (pickles and all)!  And I thought about things.  I thought about things that matter to me.  I missed my wife (Allison) and son (Kyle).  I missed the rest of my family whom I see much too little of (we're spread around the country & world).  I thought about the last 10 years of my life... where I have arrived at... the things that keep me busy... and the life I'll have 10 years from now.  And yes, I thought about DotNetNuke too.

Looking out over the ocean I could not help but think about how small we are.  And yet each a unique creation, with special  talents and contributions all our own to make.  I thought about members of the team and community on the other side of the water... also thinking deep thoughts.  I thought about potential.  About growth.  About vision.

You know its only been about 3 years?  But it seems a lifetime already.  I can scarcely recall what is was like before I began calling all these folks "friends".  Members of the community, members of the Core Team, other folks in the industry and folks we run into at conferences like the PDC.  DotNetNuke still humbles me when I slow down to think about it.  Not because its so awesome... because like any piece of software it has some brilliance mixed with flaws.  What is awesome and humbling is what happens around it, how it gets built, how folks get emotionally involved in it.  How its actually changed some peoples lives in big ways (and small)!

The deep fried mushrooms burned my mouth a little... hot & juicy they burst in my mouth as I bit them, unable to make myself wait for them to cool off!  Sometimes I remember to be thankful for the little things.  Sometimes I remember to be thankful for the big things.  But I am always thankful for the people... even the ones that get on my nerves *grin*.

This moment was just for me.  That day I needed it.  But someday I hope to share one like it with everyone.  A sandy seat, a contemplative moment at the foot of creation and...

... a cheeseburger in paradise.



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