I guess the title of the blog was prescient — I DID wind up getting burned in the land of the Midnight Sun.
I miss it there — I miss the warmth of a fire on a snowy night, I miss waking up to 6” of fresh snow, and the pure quiet of the woods during a snowstorm. I miss cresting a hill and seeing the Eagle River valley below, or turning that corner on the highway in Big Lake and finally seeing The Mountain in all its glory on a clear day. I miss my friends and going for a hike in snowshoes or cross-country skiing across a lake with them. I miss skiing at Alyeska and enjoying a beer and some nachos at the Sitzmark after a great day on the hill. I miss getting to watch the pure joy that is my two dogs bounding through freshly fallen snow, or chasing squirrels up and over a mountain. I miss water in the Jack River so clear and cold that it hurts your hands to touch it, but you can’t resist because you’ve never seen water so clear. I miss taking a break from a hike on a sandbar and letting the sun warm you and dry your pants that you got wet while jumping from rock to rock (and usually missing).
I don’t miss the ridiculously high prices for what I consider basic services like cable and internet, nor the lack of competition for things like cars, etc. I don’t miss the good old boy politics and the “I’ve got mine” mentality that pervades the business and political climate. I don’t miss the open hatred of the federal government, one of the best examples of “biting the hand that feeds” that I’ve ever seen.
Alaska is a beautiful and mysterious place, and I’m grateful that I got to experience it for longer than just a cruise ship port call. I will definitely be back.
Today’s writing prompt is to name three things I wish I was better at.
I’m assuming for the sake of brevity and not inciting suicidal tendencies that we’ll exclude things that I’m bad at due to mental illness, like getting things done and not obsessing.
1. Outdoorsy-ness: I know that isn’t a word. It’s more like a concept. I wish I wasn’t so wrapped up in getting home and being in bed by 10PM on weeknights so that I could go for a 4 hour hike after work or a 2 hour bike ride after work. I guess the truth of the matter is that people who claim to have “real jobs” and do as much outdoors as they do are actually writers and copyeditors and otherwise self-employed. That doesn’t mean they don’t have real job responsibilities, but it’s a lot easier to be outside constantly when you don’t have to report to work every weekday at 8AM.
2. Grilling: It seems like every man except me can grill. A lot of guys who don’t “cook” can grill like the best pit master on earth. I seem to have gone in the other direction — I learned to cook on a stove first, then bake, and now I’m working on my grilling skills. I guess in this case, not having a man in the house growing up probably helped me, since it’s likely that guys learn it from their dads as the “acceptable” type of cooking for a man to do.
3. System Administration: I probably shouldn’t write that since it’s my job and all, but in a lot of ways I’m not a very good SysAdmin, at least not judging by the other SysAdmins I know. I’m not constantly tweaking servers to try to squeeze every drop of performance out of them. I don’t obsess over hardware specifications or even have any idea what kind of processors are coming from AMD or Intel, nor the type of memory they support, front-side bus speed, etc. I tend to take a much more hands-off approach, where I try to do a lot of the work up front, then only make changes when necessary to fix something. This is kind of how it used to work, but in recent years SysAdmins have gotten a lot more prone to intervention instead of proactive maintenance. (I know those sound like the same thing, but they’re not.)
A conversation where someone puts down your favorite ski area/mountain/rock climb/trail/burrito is not a conversation about ski areas/mountains/rock climbs/trails/burritos. It is a conversation about that person being a pompous asshole. Go forth and be positive in 2012.