Friday, June 21, 2013

Mindset: Vacation / Work / Both?

     Today, June 21st, marks the 2013 Summer Solstice; that’s a fancy way of saying the start of summertime.  With this longest day of the year, comes the beginning of the school break, lazy backyard afternoons, pool parties, sunburn, baseball, mosquitoes, and of course, vacations.
      I took a college course one time on “urban planning and cities
as an environment.”  No, I have no idea why; easy elective I guess.  I was living in Saint Petersburg, Florida at the time, a mere two hundred yards from the Intracoastal and the bridge to the beaches.  One topic of the class was “vacation mentality” and the difference between our regular lives and our recreation lives.  It was an interesting exercise discussing the leisured attractions that surrounded us while we were busy supporting a family, earning a living, paying bills/taxes/tuition, and fighting with the horrendous Pinellas County traffic.
     When my tolerance for the good Florida lifestyle reached its breaking point, I moved from one tourist destination to another, here in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.  I vowed that this time life would be different, and to a point it is.  I restructured my priorities and my consumptive tendencies and am finally able to live a much less stressful life, work from home, and even enjoy the smell of roses once in a while (actually, I just planted them this spring -- so, no blooms to smell yet).
     Even with fewer stressors to battle each day, I still can feel the difference between vacation and work.  Last week I was in the bathroom preparing to get in the shower, I looked at the Jacuzzi tub and thought, “We’ve been in this house for nine months, I ought to try that thing sometime.”  I didn’t, I needed to get washed, dressed and start my workday.  It brought to mind some friends of ours (NOTE: ours is a reference to BOTH me and my wife -- there Shirle, I mentioned you in the blog again) and how after they had followed us here from the Humid Peninsula of Palmetto Bugs, they built a log cabin high on a mountain top.  It was purposefully designed with a two seat Jacuzzi in their master suite because whenever they came to the mountains on vacation, they always took baths together.  From what I understand, in the six years they’ve lived here, a double occupancy has yet to be tried.  By the way, they are retired and financially comfortable, so work is not the obstacle; it’s the mindset.
      There really should be some way to meet in the middle; to live and vacation simultaneously.  Shirle (two mentions!) has been bugging me about taking some long weekends and getting away for some leisure time.  People from all over the world come HERE to do that, and she wants to get away.  Mindset!
     I don’t have the answer, so I’m open for suggestions if you have any.  In the meantime, have a happy, safe, relaxed summer and take a vacation! 
     Now to get back to work…

Saturday, June 15, 2013

It died, I didn't kill it, honestly.

     Back in the waning days of this year's The-Winter-That-Would-Not-Quit, I mentioned in a post that I touched and killed the central CPU of my network and was forced to replace it with a new Dell.  Well, my Midas Touch has worked its magic again.
     The new (3 month old) server had streamlined some of my operations, all the software had been transferred and with very few exceptions, without the need to purchase new licenses, and over 70 hours of music had been ripped so that every workstation could share my eclectic playlists.  The faster, more powerful machine was a welcomed addition to my technology dependant business and life.
      I swear to you, I never opened the case.  It wasn't my fault.  Okay, maybe it was my fault, but I never opened the case.
      The hard drive crashed.  Someone once said, "Life is good."  I'd like to meet that person, follow him around, observe and take notes.  I am obviously doing something wrong, or I have a complete misunderstanding of the word GOOD.
      The inanimate brains behind my organization was/is under warranty.  The company sent a Fed Ex hearse out to collect the remains for interment.   The flatlander driver was too paranoid to attempt the drive up the mountain, so I had to throw the dead carcass in my truck and drive down to meet him at the end of the public road.
      In five to seven business days, I will receive a new replacement, sans software, music, and approximately 20 hours of network configuration.  Oh goody!  I get to do that all over again.  
      In the meantime  the printer and scanner are idle.  I could, I guess, do a temp install on one of the laptops, but that's probably not worth the effort.  The barcode reader, external drives, and the other varied and sundry devices are portable enough to be moved to a different location, leaving my office as a nice storage room, with a 24" HD monitor waiting patiently to be mated with some new unnamed stud.  And I am relegated to working from one of my alternate work stations (did I mention without music?!?
      I love technology, I have since my first pager in 1980, my first
PC (an AT&T Unix machine that cost over $10,000 because I had to upgrade to a 40 meg hard drive!), and even my first cellphone-in-a-bag.  
     While writing that last paragraph, an ancient memory popped into my head.  Shortly after the extinction of the dinosaurs, I had doubled up on trigonometry and calculus trying to squeeze all eight available highschool math courses into three years, prepping for an early graduation.  One of the teachers informed us that we could, if we desired, buy one of those calculating devices to use in class.  I paid $88.00 for a 5x9" machine that required 4 C batteries, only
added, subtracted, multiplied and divided, with no memory, no printing, and no other functions.  It was the best that money could buy and not a tenth as powerful as those credit card sized things that insurance companies always give you when you renew your policy.
     Anyway, in the modern days of smart phones with more computing power than the technology that took man to the moon,  life may be good, but only if you boot up successfully each morning, and so do your computers.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mountainside Gardening

      When you decide to live perched on an excavated shelf, high on a mountain in the middle of what is essentially a forest, you face a few challenges.  I’ve written before about the rarity of “wired” utilities; obviously when it snows, you don’t go anywhere; and it is constantly an issue convincing delivery men that their vehicles really can make it up my driveway.  But the one challenge I was determined to conquer on the mountain was having my very necessary fresh vegetable garden.

    I have gardened all of my life and I am not about to give up on the taste of newly picked flora nutritio.  When I informed my wife that I was going to put in a garden on the only tiny section of flat space that is not occupied by the house foundation, well, she told me to “stick where the sun does shine.”
     My wife, Shirle, says I don’t mention her enough in my posts, so there, she’s mentioned.  I’d include a picture of her also, but from what I understand, after she killed me and destroyed my camera, she would have to hunt down each one of you, too.  It has something to do with Jimmy Hoffa and witness protection.  I don’t fully understand; I try to not pay attention to her family’s business, it's healthier that way.

     Anyway, there is a small level area between the rock face of the mountain and my driveway that actually gets sun most of the day.  I took Shirle’s advice and stuck it…there.
     In spite of the “winter that refused to quit” and the tiniest of sunlit spaces, my garden is coming along quite nicely.  Pictured is garlic, three varieties of tomatoes, two different types of cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, both hot and sweet banana peppers, red bell and yellow bell peppers, and five varieties of salad greens, Great Lakes, Butter, Green Leaf, Romaine, and Swiss Chard.
     I haven’t been bothered by critters too much, but I did sublet a small cave to one of our local gnomes, and he eats chipmunks, so that seems to keep the other animals away.

     So far we have been enjoying some fresh salads, but most of my harvest won’t be ready for about another month.  Until then, it’s the Wednesday and Saturday Farmers’ Market.