Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A Hiatus from the Hiatus... see what condition my condition is in.

I spent most of the last three weeks out of town. A week of vacation was followed by a week and a half of work-related program activities. Now I am back home. The grass was over a foot tall (it took three hours to turns out I allowed my mower blades to become as dull as a butter knife...handle. No wonder it quit 50 times.) About half way through, my personal PC decided to melt down, taking the hard drive with it. The house patiently decided not to clean itself. Two of my neighbors are feuding with one experiencing mary-joo-awna related paranoia and the other drawing an indelible line in the sand of things said that can't be undone. Did I mention that three weeks of work piled up as well?

Nonetheless, it was time well spent. Lake Chelan in Central Washington is a beautiful and pleasant place. It fills a formerly glacial valley hanging a few hundred feet over the current level of the mighty Columbia River. Glaciation scoured the valley so that the lake bottom is actually 400 feet below sea level! Well, it impressed me anyway. The remote town of Stehekin is a 50 mile boat ride away and there is no road to it. Boats, barges, and seaplanes are the only available routes. Check it out someday if you can.

The whole family flew to company HQ in Philly the next week. The family stayed long enough to see Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the US Mint while I had meetings with the boss and co-workers. That evening we had dinner at a local winery and a company picnic in the rain the next day. The gals flew home and I jetted off to Atlanta for a product training. The training facility (in Peachtree City) is owned by the vendor and it was the perfect marriage of capitalism and communism. I was calling it a corporate commune.

The place was completely self-contained like a resort, but it was geared towards business activities. The setting was the Georgia pine woods with a lake full of carp, catfish, and perch. The hotel, recreation facilities, training classrooms, restaurant/cafeteria, and lounge were all in the same complex. They issued a badge which was the ticket to three gourmet meals/day and an unreal snack spread during training breaks. I was warned that I could gain 10 pounds and I think I might have gained five (even while trying to be careful). It was a great place to train because the normal travel worries from shuttles/taxis on down the line were taken care of, so it was easy to focus on the product without a great deal of outside interference.

However, the most important thing I got out of this trip was three weeks away from computers, news, and politics. I regained an appreciation for the complexities of life that are simply not addressed by our bipolar political/press system. Working at home, it was too easy to read the Internet and think the whole world was somehow wedged somewhere between and The Drudge Report. Getting back out and talking to a diversity of people reinforces the idea that it is a big world and a big country with many disparate viewpoints and values. In short, I relearned how to keep my mouth shut and my ears open. You learn a lot that way.

I wonder how long it will take before I get sucked back into the crucible of alter egos and intellectual fisticuffs of internet politti? I will try to avoid it...


Anonymous said...

Then you should get out more often, Trouble with having your office in your house, you cut yourself off from the outside world. I too think the Internet can lead to a one sided view of things, because you only see what you want to see, not what is.

thehim said...

Welcome back, Don. The internet can be its own world to get lost in. It's good to have some anchors on the outside.

Don Snabulus said...

I was getting out plenty, just not way out into a really diverse crowd. I don't mean talking to the secretary and my boss/coworkers. Telecommuters do that as well as anyone. I mean getting out into different parts of the country where the American experience is actually different than it is here in Oregon.

People function differently in Pennsylvania or Georgia. Their perspective is based on different experiences than we Northwesterners experience.

The Moody Minstrel has a better view of this than I do, being an ex-pat, but ex-pats miss the changing of the times in their home towns, even with the Internet. It is the change in scenery, however brief, which creates the opportunity to compare and contrast.

I didn't mean to give the impression that I was repeatedly typing "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" and basking only in the bluish glow of my interactive idiot box. That was not the case. If I did, I apologize. However, it was nice to be away for a while and do other things.

I highly suggest it.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Good to see you back in the fold, Snabby, even if only for a spot.

It's only natural that human psychology leads people to rationalize, categorize, and judge everything in very simplistic terms. That's how the mind deals with a reality that is almost infinitely complex, by simplifying it and either tuning out or actively rejecting anything that doesn't fit the "accepted" mold.

Unfortunately, the internet is like another, complete reality. Once again you have the complexity and the seemingly endless possibilities, so you lock into a certain track to keep from losing your mind.

What's really scary is when your online and offline psyches don't totally agree with each other.

It's always good to escape the whole lot of it, cyber or living, when and if you can. I envy you for having the opportunity.

(I dunno, but Pa've's comment sounds kind of like the hamburger calling the French fries fattening...)

DewKid said...

Oh sure, visit Philly AFTER I move away! The Liberty Bell is about 3 blocks away from where I used to work (Kimmel Cancer Center).

Good to see you back.

Anonymous said...

But hamburgers don't deny that they are fattening, they brag about it...

I will reitterate, though, that everyone who uses the internet does not go out of their way to look at things they don't want to unless they are very strange. I know its true for me.

If I see something that does not coincide with my world view, I will probably not be interested in it. When you are out on the street just talking to people, you keep your guard up presumabely not to offend. I find that element missing on the net.

Don Snabulus said...

I still haven't seen the Liberty Bell. My first Philly visit was a few months after 9/11 and the Liberty Bell was off-limits to the public. This time, I was doing work-related stuff, so only the gals got to see it.

To be honest, though, I don't really care. Defective bells are not something that I depend on for my national identity. On the other hand, sitting in the room where the Continental Congress convened can bring a tear to the eye.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Why is that? Is the air thick with fumes?

Don Snabulus said...

The fumes of history, my good man. The fumes of history.