How I Spent My Summer Furcation
Just finished one week cut off, by force, from the office. It was an unpaid furlough — a common plight for journalists and others whose industries have been hammered by the recession. The financial hit will hurt (more so because the AC in my house and car also picked this week to die), but it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable weeks I’ve had in a while.
No office email, no office phones. Just a week to enjoy my family, feed my soul, fix up things around the house, and keep learning new skills.
Hiked to a waterfall: Took a five-mile hike with my family through the Shenandoah National Park to the 86-foot White Oak Canyon falls. The trail, which ascends 1,000 feet over about 2 miles, had us breathing hard. The falls was spectacular, and we ended the day spent but inspired by the beauty.
Planted a garden: Our fourth year as amateur farmers, and each year we understand soil and seeds a little more. Given the time I spend in front of a computer screen, digging in dirt is necessary for emotional health. Watching seeds grow into food connects me to bigger things.
Studied Python: Inspired by hacker-journalists at the annual IRE computer-assisted reporting conference, I’ve jumped head-first into the Linux world with the goal of building apps using Django. After getting Ubuntu set up and finishing the Django tutorial, I decided to step back and study Python, the language Django’s built upon. Aaron Bycoffe responded to a Twitter query and recommended the free How to Think Like a Computer Scientist. Made it through 11 chapters this week and now understand Django a lot better.
Upgraded to Lucid Lynx: Speaking of Linux, my week off coincided with the latest update to Ubuntu. Demand was high and getting the download tough, but I eventually got it rolling. You can’t beat free.
Spent time with friends and family: Really the best part. Lots of laughs, intense conversations, great fun.
So now I’m feeling fresh — fresh enough to handle the 252 emails that rolled in when I booted up my work PC this afternoon.