Out of Practice -- 08/08/03

It's been so long since my last entry that I feel out of practice at writing entries.

Okay, if I've said it once, I've said it a million times: never exaggerate.

Still, a dozen day have gone by. Time flies, etc.

Maybe I should become a blogger. That seems to have so much more immediate gratification... you think of something and you type it in and there it is. Yeah, okay, so you have to click on a few buttons, etc... I read a bunch of blogs and then they link me to other blogs, etc., and I end up leaving comments at various blogs (like Scalzi and Mickelthorpe and Jennings, etc.) and I keep telling myself that I ought to harvest some of those comments (well, you know, the longer ones... sometimes I might leave a one line comment, but other times I babble on for paragraphs) and post them as entries here. You've not seen me do that? Well, that's because I never seem to get around to it.
A friend once gave me a circular piece of cardboard that was labelled "TUIT" -- explaining that this would come in very handy anytime anyone said something about needing to get a round tuit.
No, I'm not really going to change to a blog... I've been doing the journal type format since '96 and I guess I'm a traditionalist, but I will admit that the need to start an editor (I use IBM's WebSphere Studio Homepage Builder, but the same thing was true back when I used to write everything in Notepad.) and then, once the writing is finished, need to upload it to Geocities and update the prior entry to point to it and edit the index page and the current year archive page (oh, and then send an email to those readers whose superior intellect and taste that have impelled them to sign up to receive such notice) and, yes, I know, that really only takes a few minutes. Okay, so call me lazy.

I'm hoping I will have more time (and energy?) now that I have completed some of the major tasks that remained from my old job. [For those wandering into this discussion in medias res, I have spent the past several years as an instructor and course developer; i.e., I teach courses and I also design them, including writing the books -- but now I am transitioning into a position where I will be (a) working on standards and guidelines and templates for course development and (b) doing quality assurance on new courses to ensure that the standards have been met.] I've finished writing the course material for both courses I have been working on, although I still have to complete work on the hands-on lab exercises for both course as well as teach the "beta" presentation and work on training at least one instructor for each of those two courses. Actually, for three or four weeks in July, I was freed up from the QA work so that I could finish writing. This week I opened the floodgates to the QA work and as of yesterday 3018 pages of material has landed on my hard drive waiting to be evaluated. (I exaggerate -- about 250 pages of those 3018 got passed back to a colleague for review because it was needed right away and I could not get to it until next week so I really only have 2750, give or take a few.) Still, the idea is that since I will be doing so much less writing at work, I should have more energy to put into webpage posting.

This is a vacation day for me.

This is partly due to me having a lot of vacation days and having taken very few so far this year (and at my company it's use them or lose them) but today in particular because my youngest had to go to his college orientation/registration and I went along with him to be ready to supply any needed paternal advice and also to pull out the Discover card when it was time to pay the tuition.

1. What's the last place you traveled to, outside your own home state/country?

On July 20th went to New York City to see my grandson. Most recent long distance travel was to Las Vegas in February. And most recent international travel was to Nice. (Yeah, not that much travel -- especially not that much foreign travel -- compared to the situation before the economic downturn.)

2. What's the most bizarre/unusual thing that's ever happened to you while traveling?

I would guess being held at gunpoint by U.S. Customs at the border when I was returning from a trip to Montreal. That was pretty bizarre. I'd rather think about some of the beautiful things I've seen and experienced -- the Kunsthistorisches art museum in Vienna, the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon in Mexico, hiking to the top of Diamond Head in Hawaii, seeing the azure blue of the Mediterranean in the south of France -- or just experiencing the fascinating juxtapositions of familiar and unfamiliar (like running a 5k race in 90+ degree summer heat in a suburb of Sydney just a week after running a 5k race at home during a snowstorm... or seeing U.S. brands in other lands... or watching Homer Simpson speaking in German) -- or just enjoying wandering about London.

3. If you could take off to anywhere, money and time being no object, where would you go?

I would like to return to places I have visited in my travels but this time bringing my wife with me, notably Sydney, Honolulu, Vienna, and Nice. Also London... Nancy and I spent two weeks in London on our honeymoon and I would really enjoy being there again with her. (Next year will be our 25th anniversary and I think it would be wonderful to celebrate it in London... unfortunately, during that quarter century Nancy has acquired a severe phobia about air travel and the inane security bureaucracy has been working overtime to make air travel truly painful before you even get onto the plane... so I have the feeling that our 25th will be celebrated right here in Rhode Island.)

4. Do you prefer traveling by plane, train or car?

Travel by car is by far the most flexible and convenient if the distance is not too great. Train travel is very difficult here in the U.S. -- there simply is no passenger service in many area. We are fortunate to live not far from an Amtrak station and that is our preferred method of travel to places like New York City, despite Amtrak's general incompetence. Train travel is much more comforatable than either automobile or air travel. Air travel -- well, I have flown many tens of thousands of miles over the past several years -- a few of those flights (but very few) were pleasant and comfortable -- most were uncomfortable, cramped, and a few degrees away from pleasant -- a few felt like torture. A few years ago I would have said that air travel may not be especially enjoyable, but it was utilitarian, it got you to where you were going, and cramped seating was just the price you had to pay for the convenience. Now, post 9/11, I no longer feel that way. I am not afraid of flying. I do not fear terrorists will attempt to hijack my plane or blow it up. (If a plane is blown up it will most likely be with a ground to air missile fired near the airport at planes landing or taking off.) I do fear the federal bureaucracy that is doing its best to destroy air travel by its heavy-handed and incompetent "security" processes. They are turning air travelers into sheep to be herded into this line, then herded into that line, inspected, insulted, inspected again, every ready to seize a nail clipper (or to seize a dangerous Congressional Medal of Honor pin from an elderly WWII war hero), seemingly ready to do anything to terrorize innocent American citizens while being absolutely no defense against real terrorists. (That's another reason why I wanted to shift jobs -- as the economy improves, the need to travel to teach courses would increase, but now I will have minimal travel so I won't have to put up with the incompentent and overbearing security bureaucracy.)

5. What's the next place on your list to visit?

Martha's Vineyard, one week from today, via high speed ferry. Then, a week or so later, another train trip to New York to see my grandson.

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