Archive for February, 2005

I haven’t posted anything in about two weeks, and I just noticed it. I can’t say there is a particular reason for that. I haven’t been any more or less busy than usual.

I guess I’ve just been distracted?? Not really. Maybe I haven’t thought anything good? Well, I can’t say I’ve reinvented the wheel in the past two weeks or anything, but my thoughts are about as good as usual. Take that for what its worth.

Actually, I know why. I went out of town last weekend, and I usually post on the weekend….I just haven’t gotten around to doing it during the week.

I played tennis tonight. I bowled yesterday. I played tennis on Tuesday. I think I did something Monday too….just can’t remember what.

I guess its a matter of priority. I can say for certain that right now my priority is sleep. It is past midnight, which is too late for the kid…or at least it will be tomorrow.

I should have some sort of update in the next few weeks on any number of items of import(ance). I am moving apartments. I am moving floors at work. I am switching roles at work. I may get a new job altogether. I am going to Peru for three weeks.

Change is very non-traumatic for me.

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I went to Barnes & Noble today to look at travel guides. There is a sense of anticipation when you read about some far off place and know you’ll soon be there.

I’ve used every major budget travel guide in existence at one time or another. I favor Let’s Go because it is written by Americans and they rank their picks from best to worst. It is a judgmental travel guide, and that is useful most of the time since you often have no basis for your own judgement when you’re in a new place.

The problem with Let’s Go is that it doesn’t have the permanent staff that Lonely Planet does. Let’s Go is published by Harvard University Press…only Harvard degree seeking students are allowed to be contributors (I know this because I contacted them once about a job); they simply don’t have the manpower to cover every country.

Lonely Planet is a worldwide network of grizzled veterans who have managed to make their living in and around the travel industry. They are often expats, writers, and photographers that settled in a country or were raised there. Lonely Planet guides are not opinionated and are more like reference guides, meant to facilitate, not really recommend.

Because Lonely Planet is written largely by adult expats who no longer live in the US and probably haven’t for years, it has a very different feel than Let’s Go, penned by a bunch of over-achieving Harvard undergrads on an extended Spring Break. Travel veterans enjoy discovering, they do not like to be told where to stay or what to do. They want to stumble on great places, not be herded to them. Lonely Planet is terse and full of facts…not really a great read. Let’s Go is full of interesting stories and dinner table trivia. Let’s Go spoon feeds you. Lonely Planet treats you like an adult.

I still like Let’s Go, but even though they had a Let’s Go Peru (didn’t have one for Bolivia), I still chose the Lonely Planet. I have come to expect its dry delivery and extreme attention to detail (although on occasion I have found it to be wrong). Also, I know that the Let’s Go crowd is not even likely to GO to Peru. I wonder how successful that title is.

In this case, choosing Lonely Planet ensures a greater chance of running into other travelers. I figure mostly Australians and some S. Africans will travel to Peru and Bolivia. It is too far for Europeans and all the Americans will be at Panama City for Spring Break. Everyone outside the US uses Lonely Planet, and it is an Australian company.

Any American that happens to be down there will likely follow the same logic as me, so they’ll have Lonely Planet too. If I remember, I think I’ll keep track of how many Let’s Go guidebooks I see.

There is also the possibility of traveling without a guidebook at all, which I did one time. It still works out, but it is nice to know where the Internet Cafes are without having to search all over the city/town/village.

Slightly related to all this is that I found out my cell phone would work in both Bolivia and Peru wherever coverage is available. I thought for about half a second to bring it; maybe get a picture phone or something. Then I realized people might actually call. That isn’t really a vacation if you’re available 24/7. As always though, I will be available by mental telepathy.

Also, I think I will put together a very simple weblog for my trip separate from this one. I will base the interface on one of two pictures.

Which do you like the best??


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Work, sofa, beer, tennis, work, sleep, food.

That pretty much sums up my life. It is much less exciting to be “settled”. Maturity seems to me to be largely the inability to break away from one’s routine. That isn’t really mature at all….it is just inflexible.

The routine isn’t always bad though. I like work sometimes. They certainly need me, so I feel a certain responsibility to make sure it doesn’t all go to hell in a handbasket. I like tennis. I like to sleep.

So am I complaining? I don’t know. I enjoy parts of the frantic, endless achievement of work. I enjoy my distractions that keep me sane.

I’ve partly crossed this bridge before. When I was younger I had a self-reinforcing need to examine the significance of what I did. Every answer I found, I asked another question. It was intellectual quicksand. The more I asked, the deeper I sank.

Because at some point, many questions away from the original reality, you come up empty. Every line of logic, no matter how elegant, ends at vanishing point where reality meets the great unknown.

Everything is made of the 4 earth elements: Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. No, it is all made of Atoms. No, Protons, Neutrons, and Electrons. True, but all of that is made of Quarks spinning in different directions. But Quarks are made of Cosmic Strings vibrating at different frequencies……keep asking the questions and one day we’ll make a telescope that can reach so far out into space you’ll see the back of your own freaking head!!

And then we’ll back to the original question: Would someone remind me what the hell we are supposed to be doing here??

I got a lot happier overall when I starting policing how many questions away from reality I would allow myself to venture. If you can answer the first few with any satisifaction….I say that is enough.

When I started work last March I imposed on myself a one year question moratorium: No questions for a year. Whether or not I “like X” or if “Y is meaningful” was only allowed as a means to pass time. I could ask just a few questions, and I was not allowed to take action on anything I thought.

I think this has been a sound policy and largely successful. However, I don’t want to be ostrich and my year is about up.

I wonder if I will continue my question cease-fire?

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