Michael Kennedy - Talk Python and Motorcycles

- Hello, Michael
- Hey Brian, good to be here with you,
but in a slightly different venue, I suppose.
- Yeah, so I'm excited.
This is the first episode of a brand new podcast,
Python People, and you're a Python person, people.
- I am a Python people,
and congratulations on the new podcast.
What a cool venture you're launching here,
and a different angle, a different take.
- Right before we recorded, you said,
is this gonna be video also or just audio?
And I'm not sure yet.
So we may do, I may post the video, I may not, we'll see.
And it's kind of, I'm okay with building this new podcast
kind of with the public and have people help me
decide things, that's fine.
So Michael, you, Michael Kennedy is here.
you are fairly well known in the Python community.
You've got Talk Python, Talk Python, the podcast,
which is what, over 400 episodes now?
- It is over 400 episodes, eight years.
- Eight years.
- Which is insane, yeah.
I feel like I just started that thing, what's going on?
- That's incredible.
Quite an accomplishment.
Not only that, but you built the backend for it, right?
- Yeah, that's all Python code running there.
Did the web design, it's Beanie and MongoDB
and async and await and all the good stuff.
- Okay, and then you took that,
built a TalkPython training.
When did TalkPython training start, do you remember?
- About a year later.
I had been doing the podcast as kind of, you know,
over my lunch hour or outside of business hours while I was working in a company.
And that company was a education, a developer education company.
So there was no way I could do courses and not get somehow in trouble with like,
hey, we hired you to do this and then you're also doing that and
so that seems a little like a conflict of an interest.
So I had to wait a while till I could do the courses until I had enough traction,
and stability that I could quit my job and just go,
all right, I'm just writing courses now,
that's what I'm doing.
And keeping the podcast going.
- I did a quick count,
looked like 42 courses or something.
- Yeah, yeah.
- So they're still growing?
- 240 hours or so, yeah.
I have actually been frantically recording another one
that's gonna go up, ideally this week, we'll see.
There's always a lot more loose ends to coordinate
on those kinds of things than you would imagine.
- Yeah, and Python Bytes, of course, you do that as well.
So another podcast.
- Yeah, we've been doing that a long time
and that's super fun.
I really liked that format too.
It's just like, here's a bunch of cool stuff I found
and a bunch of cool stuff you found.
I mean, you know,
- Just BS about it for a while.
- And we have an audience that, yeah,
they like to BS with us as well, so it's fun.
- So I guess, how is all that going?
How are you still enjoying podcasting and courses
and this chapter of your life?
Is it going well?
- Yeah, it's going well.
I am really enjoying it.
One of the things that I've come to realize,
and I'm sure a lot of people have as well,
is over time as you do these things,
they kind of build up, there's this friction,
a friction of life, a friction of things, right?
There's like accounting and coordination
and support emails and stuff.
So the one, if I could wish for more,
wish for anything different,
would just be honestly just more focused on those things
that you highlighted there and less time on,
why did the MailChimp API change in a breaking way
and now people can't sign up for this thing?
And I'm like, okay, I was gonna write a course this morning,
but maybe I'll rewrite my MailChimp integration.
So the thing doesn't, that kind of friction is around,
but focused on the important, the good stuff
that actually benefits people.
Yeah, I love it, it's great.
- This isn't passive, this is a lot of work, right?
- It is a lot of work, yeah.
It's good work and it's certainly decent money,
but it's not that I just go sit on the beach
and a couple hours a day.
- But you can't take-- - Like for example--
- You can't take a couple weeks vacation
and stuff just keeps going, right?
- That's true, absolutely, yeah.
Luckily, Python's plenty good, the website's plenty good.
The thing will keep running
if I don't do anything for it, right?
I can't remember the last time I got a message like,
"Oh my gosh, the website is down," or, "This thing's broken."
Like, it's almost never.
So in that regard, yeah, I can just like,
"Hey, let me take a week."
In fact, very soon after we're done talking,
I'm jumping in the car for a good vacation along the beach.
- So you're going to the beach.
I hope you have fun.
- Yeah, a warm beach farther away from, not in Oregon.
We have cold beaches.
They're beautiful when they're freezing.
- But they're beautiful though.
And there's usually good food, creampie.
So there's that.
- Yeah.
- But you do a whole, what other stuff do you do?
I know that you ride a motorcycle.
- Yeah, a lot of people grow up
playing stick and ball sports, soccer.
I think some people call that football.
I don't know, have you heard that, Brian?
- I played football.
I play football too.
You tackle each other a lot.
The one I'm thinking of,
you don't get as many penalties for tackling.
But that was, I couldn't play that in any organized way.
I was a relatively small kid.
I would have been crushed by the other people
and playing American football.
So my sport when I was growing up was motocross.
So I raced motorcycles and you know,
- Really?
- Flying for the jumps.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
- Wow, so when did you start racing?
- I started riding motorcycles.
I was visiting my mom, my parents were separated.
Was there for like a month.
There was just not anything to do
'cause I didn't have any of my friends around.
Like I went far away to stay with her.
So there were just, I didn't know kids
from school and stuff.
But there was this old motorcycle in the garage
and they said, "You know, if you get that running,
"you can ride it."
So my brothers and I, we were like, "We have a mission.
"We have nothing to do.
"and there's a motorcycle, if we get it running,
"we're gonna get it, we get to ride it all summer."
So we spent a week and we rebuilt it and got it running
and that was that.
So I started racing probably when I was 13 or so
and raced till I was like, I don't know, 19.
I had to kind of get serious about college and stuff,
but it was fun, really fun.
- And that's like with all the jumps and stuff.
Did you ever have any crashes?
- Couple, got knocked out a couple times.
- So cheesy.
- But you know, when you think you had a couple of,
like over six years, right?
It wasn't something that was super common,
but you know, a couple, but they were not too serious.
I one time kind of fell probably 15 feet out of the sky
and landed flat on the ground.
The motorcycle landed on top of me.
That one hurt, but it took a few days.
- He said, yeah.
- So what part of the country were you in at that point?
Are you in Oregon at that point?
- It was Kansas City.
Yeah, it was Kansas City.
There was some actually, right by Missouri,
there was actually some good racetracks out there
and some pretty cool people.
So we'd, you know, on the weekend we'd pack up the bikes
and my brothers also raced, so we'd all go out
and just drive an hour to some racetrack
and spend Saturday or Sunday there,
just fooling around, having fun, seeing what we could do,
trying different jumps and whatnot.
- So were you the middle or younger brother?
- The oldest.
- You were the oldest?
- I have two younger brothers, yeah.
- Okay.
- The trailblazer.
- That's pretty cool.
Yeah, wow.
And then you still ride though.
You don't race anymore though, do you?
- No, I don't race.
You bounce when you're a kid,
you snap when you get older, it's not ideal.
So I don't do any of that,
But I've gotten into what's called adventure riding,
where you get bikes that can go farther.
And my goal, we have here on the west coast of the US
something pretty awesome called the BDR,
Back Country Discovery Routes.
And these are pretty well known trails that go,
well there's one that goes all the way from Mexico
to Canada and goes right through Oregon.
So my goal is to traverse Oregon completely,
almost completely off road through the mountains
in the forest, in the desert.
You know, it's like a,
if you, I guess they said something like nine days,
a thousand miles or 900 miles, something like that.
It's really far 'cause it's so curvy, weavy, not straight
'cause it has to wind around little mountains
and streams and stuff.
So I don't know if I'll be able to do that this summer,
but part of it for sure.
- Well, okay, so question about that.
Maybe I don't get it.
I mean, it sounds interesting.
But motorcycles have like little tiny gas tanks.
- Yeah, well, the way that works,
it'll like maybe go over a mountain for 40 miles
and it'll dip into a little road
that'll connect over to the next section.
And usually in those little connecting areas,
you can find some gas or some supplies or something.
So you probably would only go 150 miles on one tank.
And then are you like camping during that or are you okay?
- Yeah, usually, I mean,
you certainly would be fine to not camp
if you could find a hotel, but sometimes, you know,
there's a big stretch where there's,
I don't think there's a really proper place to stay.
So you throw one of those little tiny hiking tents
on the back and those little blow up sleeping bag things.
- Have you done any like short,
and these are, these are trails, right?
Yeah, yeah. Some of them are like fire roads where maybe a truck or a
logging truck might go and some are more like almost just little trails. Yeah.
And have you done like shorter versions of this so far already?
Let's see. It's monday. So friday I was out, did 150 mile ride
just in practice out on the mountains by the coast here. Okay, how fun it took all
day, but it was excellent. We would climb to the top of a mountain had just like an amazing view and you're just,
You're still far out there, just out in nature.
It's really amazing to just go, you know what?
Let's go 20 miles that way and just see.
Where do you think that goes?
- And is that something you're doing solo
or are you doing it with like a group of people?
- I have a good friend who usually,
a lot of times will come along,
but sometimes it's solo.
You gotta be more careful when it's solo.
- Okay, yeah, right.
- 'Cause it's pretty far out there, right?
You don't wanna like, just like,
well now I gotta walk 20 miles, oh no.
- Right, yeah, if you have mechanical problems
or an injury or something.
- Exactly, yeah, yeah.
Cool, I could probably go over that big rock
or jump over that log, but if it breaks the motorcycle,
I could fix it, but I'm really far out here.
I gotta consider the consequences,
so you kinda gotta keep that in mind.
- Okay, do you have an emergency set of tools
to work on your bike?
- I do.
I have a little pack that goes on the back
and it's got things for tire changing,
inner tubes for the motorcycle tires,
you know, a little tiny, tiny pump.
- Okay.
- There's a few basic, you might be able to fix it.
If you broke the engine, you're done.
But you know, if you broke a tire, you're probably okay.
- Okay, interesting.
Wow, fascinating.
So I'm imagining it's kind of like a hike,
but on, I was imagining this kind of like a hike,
but on a motorcycle, but you're saying you're like,
you're hitting jumps and stuff.
Are you doing jumps and crazy stuff?
- No, no, not really.
More like there'll be, you know,
there'll be a fallen tree or something
and you just kind of like wheelie over the tree
or something and keep going, right?
Like not the jumps of the motocross days.
- Okay.
Not like downhill, like crazy,
X Games. - You gotta have mountain biking
stuff, yeah, yeah, yeah.
- Okay. - Used to do that too,
actually, before I got back into motorcycling.
- Did you?
- Yeah, I lived in California, and we would,
in the summers, we would take our mountain bikes,
I lived in San Diego, we'd take our mountain bikes
up to Big Bear, and Red Bull would build
a downhill racetrack with all those crazy jumps
and stuff you see on TV, and if you go there
a little before or a little after,
the track would be there and you could ride on it,
and they would hook your bicycle, your mountain bike,
onto the chairlift, take you to the top,
and you would bomb down it,
put it back on the chairlift and go back up again.
It's like the best kind of bicycling is just downhill.
- That sounds actually like a lot of fun.
- It's super fun.
And you don't have to be crazy, right?
You can just roll over the scary stuff, right?
- Yeah.
So it's all downhill.
So is it still a lot of work?
Or is it-- - You would think absolutely,
oh, it's no work, you just ride the chairlift up.
But you're going down so steep
and you gotta keep hitting the brakes.
So it's kinda like doing a bunch of pushups, right?
Like you gotta stop yourself.
Every time you've got, oh, we're slowing down,
so it's like, urgh. - Oh, yes.
- It's actually pretty heavy work, if you're going fast.
- Okay, your arms are probably
getting a decent workout then.
- Oh yeah, you're done at the bottom.
You're like, I need a break.
My arms cannot take this anymore.
My hands can't take it anymore.
- Huh, cool.
And have you ever done, so that was a,
did you ever do, I don't know what the,
that was in California.
Have you ever done something like that at altitude?
'Cause I know you can,
there's people doing crazy stuff like that up in,
near Denver and things in.
- Not very much.
Not much, not really.
- Huh, the other thing,
so you just kind of like to go fast.
- Yeah, I suppose that's probably a flaw I have to say.
- Well, you also have like a awesome setup
for doing simulated racing, right?
- I do.
And I really, it's something that I really enjoy.
I get into these sports where you can kind of just like work
on like practice one little thing,
get a little better and better.
And car stuff is certainly like that.
Like it would be nice to race real cars in real events
and do things like that.
But practice, I think it means a lot of mechanics,
like being a make, not like physics,
but like actually being a mechanic of changing out
this broken piece and whatnot.
And none of that really appeals to me.
So the compromise or whatever is I ended up getting
this sim racing setup.
People don't know what that is.
You get like a wheel that has really fine racing wheel setup
that has really fine but strong force feedback
communicate what's happening on the road.
And then there's a handful of simulators,
game type things that you can play.
The one that I like to play the most probably is iRacing.
And you only race against real people.
There's not like a storyline or computer players.
They have scheduled races.
So at 2 and 4 and 6 PM, there's a race on this race track with this type of cars.
And it draws in really, really good people.
Like I've raced against a couple of the IndyCar champions,
somebody who used to be a Formula One racer.
And so you get to sit down and like spend 30 minutes
in a competition with some really interesting situations
and people and stuff.
So it is pretty cool.
So I have what's called a Fanatec racing wheel
and pedals and all that and like set up
- Yeah, it's neat.
- In a seat that looks like a,
is it an actual car seat or?
- It's not actually a car seat,
but I could be convinced that it is a car seat.
And all this got started during COVID by the way.
I'm like, well, if I'm gonna be locked in the house
for a couple of years, what can I do?
Let's get one of these things and try.
- Well, you are in Portland.
There is a racetrack here.
Have you ever been on one?
- Yes, there is a really cool racetrack.
- Have you ever been on one?
I've been on Portland International Raceway.
I've been on it multiple times to park.
So you go to an event there,
sometimes you park inside of the track instead of the outside
and they'll have it open.
You drive across for a moment.
They're like, "All right, get out of the way.
We're racing."
- Okay.
- So to that extent, I have.
I was actually there on Saturday
watching the Formula E race,
which was way more popular than I expected.
Sold out.
It's crazy.
- Wow, so this is fascinating 'cause this is like,
I've never been, I've never really watched racing too much
or done much of it.
I was more of a solo sport sort of person,
skateboards and stuff.
- Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you're a big skateboarder,
that's awesome.
- But I hear you with the age thing does make a difference.
Last time I went skateboarding,
just took a minor fall.
Like it was, it was a bit of something I wouldn't even like
told anybody about as a kid.
And I was out for like the rest of the day.
I'm like, Oh my God.
- Oh no.
Yeah. Skateboarding even more than motorcycling.
You got to kind of bounce instead of break.
I'm always, when I watch people really skateboarding,
I think just, you know,
they just seem to like crash out and like, ah, whatever.
And bounce back up, you know, wearing a hat for a helmet,
that kind of thing, you know?
- Yeah, you learn how to roll
and get yourself in the right way.
So yeah, and then snowboarded for a while,
but did you do any winter sports?
- Yeah, I love skiing.
- Okay.
- I only got up like a couple of times,
three times or four times last year,
but yeah, I like skiing.
I've always wanted to snowboard.
It looks maybe even more fun,
but there's this trough of despair you have to go through.
Like I've already fallen when I was young
and become not great, but fine with skiing.
I could ski a whole day without falling, let's say that.
- Okay.
- But if I wanna learn snowboarding,
well then I'm gonna have to end up falling
for like three or four days
till I can just do basic things again.
And I've never decided, this vacation's a day,
the vacation where I'm just not doing very much
other than kind of bounce around.
So I have never learned snowboarding, but it looks so fun.
- Yeah, the reason why I get into it is I was never,
I liked skiing, but I only got,
I got good enough to be able to go fast,
but not good enough to not wipe out all the time.
And like, when you actually could get good enough
to like start going kind of fast,
when you wipe out, your stuff's everywhere.
You got like two skis and two poles.
It takes a while to get it all that collected again.
And with a snowboard, at least I don't, I haven't been out for a decade probably.
Um, but, uh, I didn't have to pick anything up.
They're strapped.
It's strapped to your feet.
It doesn't go anywhere.
So it goes with you.
Uh, for, for, for better or worse, uh, had a, had a ankle injury because it,
because it stopped and I didn't.
Uh, yeah.
But yeah, yeah.
Lots of fun.
Um, well, it seems pretty fun.
Do you kind of have a, so the motorcycling,
the simulated racing,
have your kids picked up any of these things?
- Kids, kids wanna go motorcycling.
They wanna get their motorcycle license.
I'm not sure I want to encourage them to go out
and be out with cars.
For all the dangers, I think it sounds like that
some of these motorcycle things I described,
like jumping over high jumps or like going far,
None of that compares to just like the old guy
that's looking right and turns left.
Or the teenager texting, right?
Like, you don't control those things, right?
And so I haven't yet said,
"Sure, let's teach you how to ride the motorcycle,"
but they do want to.
But certainly the skiing there,
they're definitely into that.
- So you do ride a motorcycle just like on the streets now.
just like in on the streets now.
Yeah, not for commuting because I don't go anywhere.
We have a beautiful mountain roads around here, you know.
You have to go out in the weather to commute.
You have to like, the slight part of your house that you have to go from one part to the other.
That's true. My office, and like we're recording this, and where I do all the courses and podcasts and stuff,
and stuff is in the garage, which is technically separated
from the house by a sidewalk.
So yeah, I got to, I got to cross over.
It's actually beautiful because it's peaceful
no matter what's going on in the house.
If the dogs are barking or the kids are home for summer,
school's out in the summer.
It's still nice and quiet, I love it.
- So you, have the girls had any desire
to do like off-road motorcycling?
- Yeah, the problem is I don't have any off-road motorcycle
other than this big adventure bike,
which is way, way too big to learn on for them.
So I'd be glad to get a little off-road motorcycle,
but then I need a truck.
- Oh yeah.
- It's like I gotta buy a truck
so that I can buy a cheap inexpensive motorcycle,
and I just haven't gone there.
- Okay, I didn't really think about that.
There was a family that had motorcycles
when I was growing up that we lived kind of out outskirts of town and they had an orchard
where they sold fruit and stuff like that.
And so we could ride the motorcycles through there.
I don't think they ever went anywhere with them like that.
Yeah, nobody had licenses because it was just dirt paths and stuff like that.
But right.
Yeah, beautiful though.
You can just you already have like a really nice area.
I'm sure in the orchard cruise around.
Yeah, it was a little terrifying to go fairly.
I mean, what I thought of fast is like, you know,
slightly faster than I could run,
but it's harder to stop a motorcycle
than it is to stop when you're running.
You're going through all those trees and everything.
But the, anyway, kind of fun.
So any other like speed sports that you do
that you, we haven't covered?
- No, I think that that probably covers the speed sport.
The only other real hobby, I guess, that I would throw
in there is billiards.
I spent-- - Oh, I did not know this.
- Listen, this is both,
it's kind of interesting and cool,
but also attested to how bad minimum wage
used to be in the US.
So when I was in high school,
I worked at a pizza place,
and I would make a very meager amount of money
throughout the day, as a junior in high school or something.
And then I would go out with my friends at night
and play pool for competitions, tournaments, gambling
under the right circumstances.
Like, hey, $20 or whoever wins first five games sort of thing.
And I realized over the summer that I would work eight hours
at this pizza place.
And I would go play for two hours at the pool hall
and make more money than I did all day.
So eventually, I just quit my pizza job
and just went and played pool for like a year or something.
- Really?
- Yeah, it was excellent.
But I say it's also a statement on minimum wage
'cause you didn't have to do that well
to make more than, it was like $3, $3.50 an hour or something
it was bad pay.
- Yeah, I mean, I started flipping burgers at $3.35 an hour.
- Yeah, exactly.
- Back then.
And my daughter, so I was telling my daughter this once
And she said, but cost of living was so much less.
And I'm like, I don't think it was comparable.
So I like did the chart and I don't know,
minimum wage at least here is $11 or something.
I don't know.
- I think it's 14 now.
It's been going, they're working towards 15.
Yeah, it's pretty high.
- And it should be.
- Relatively.
- Yeah, I think that's right.
But the cost, so that's like five times,
almost five times what it was when we started.
cost of living hasn't gone up five times since then.
It's maybe doubled, but yeah, not five times.
But I'm like, no, it was terrible.
I said, I worked like two weeks and my paycheck,
I bought a pair of shoes.
That's what I did with my first paycheck.
- So you could have quit that job and got them played pool.
- I could have, well, no, I lived in-
- It was really fun actually, it was really great.
- I lived in Pullman, Washington at the time.
There's like nothing there.
It's like a coffee shop and a, I don't know.
There's a university, but as a skinny high school kid,
I couldn't get a job at the university.
So, but anyway.
Well, so let's change direction a little bit.
I'm really glad I got, I didn't know that about you.
And that's kind of what I want to do with this podcast
is I want to like try to get to know the people
in the Python community and get to know them more
as like people and some of the stuff they do
in their free time, some passion hobbies or whatever.
And one of the, so I've asked a handful of people
and one of the questions that came back was,
you're not stepping on Michael's toes, are you?
'Cause they don't want me to like,
try to redo Talk Python.
And I don't think I am.
So I guess I'll do this in public.
Michael, are you okay with me starting another podcast?
- Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
I mean, one, I'm here, and I certainly congratulate you on that.
I think it's totally fine.
I think there are many angles and many stories.
And I guess the thing that is common through TalkPython is this and this.
The reason I started TalkPython is I did want to learn about libraries and
packages like Flask or SQLAlchemy or whatever.
But you could learn about those online, right?
You don't want the sterilized, distilled,
just here's the three API calls.
Why was that created?
Who created it?
What was the journey to create those things?
So there is a kind of a human,
like what's the human side of the Python technology?
But certainly the showcase is one project
or one bit of code on TalkPython.
And you know, here the focus is the person, right?
They might be doing Python stuff,
but also, you know, they might be racing motorcycles.
Yeah, I think it's, they're very compatible.
I don't think it's an arm wrestling match at all,
nothing like that.
- I was thinking about that in terms of like a,
also in terms of a PyCon or a conference.
I wouldn't go to a conference with one speaker.
There's seven days in the week.
I'm all for at least seven good Python podcasts out there.
So anyway, thanks for being the first guest
and thanks for talking with me.
- Yeah, thanks for having me on the show
and good luck with the podcast.
It's gonna be fun to see the progress.

Creators and Guests

Brian Okken
Brian Okken
Software Engineer, also on Python Bytes and Test & Code podcasts
Michael Kennedy
Michael Kennedy
A Python enthusiast and entrepreneur. Host of TalkPython and PythonBytes, founder of Talk Python Training.
Michael Kennedy - Talk Python and Motorcycles
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