From the Boidem - 
an occasional column on computers and information technologies in everyday life

August 26, 2003*: The Boidem takes a vacation

Three summers ago our family took a lengthy summer vacation to visit family in North America. During that trip I stole time from various familial tasks and sat myself down to prepare a Boidem column. As I reflect on that summer, and the writing I accomplished during our trip, I recall quite distinctly that my major concerns about preparing my column were the technical aspects - preparing the HTML and uploading it to the TAU School of Education site. I carried with me a number of floppy disks with software for accomplishing precisely those tasks, including even screenshots of how to set up my FTP client. I didn't want any unexpected differences in operating systems to cause any difficulties, and I was planning ahead for dealing with whatever difficulties I was able to foresee. I don't know whether I should have been surprised or not, but everything went almost exactly as planned, and that column was prepared and uploaded from North America.

This summer we again travelled to North America, and once again I brought with me the various tools necessary for preparing a column. I'd also prepared outlines of the topics to be discussed. I didn't know precisely what was going to be written, but I had a relatively good idea of the general framework. Because our trip would be spanning the period of almost two columns I prepared templates for both, expecting to finish work on the first, and upload it, and then sink my teeth rather substantially into the second - what was to become this column - but perhaps wait until getting home before uploading it. Considering that I was able to prepare and upload a column from North America three years earlier, I expected that this time the entire process would be even simpler. I knew that almost everywhere we would be visiting there was a computer with an internet connection, and I envisioned myself sitting myself down to write as I had before. There was no reason to think that travelling from city to city would represent a problem. I expected to save what I'd written to disk, and to an online virtual hard drive, and in that way be able to pick up where I'd left off at each new destination. I even prepared a blog on the outside chance that I might prefer to save my writing that way. My plans were excellent (though I have to admit that I let the technologies run a bit ahead of my real needs), but the outcome was considerably different. Throughout the summer I wrote close to nothing. It seems that amidst all my preparations I forgot to take one very basic element into account.

Cynics might claim that what I'd forgotten was the basic fact that I was supposed to be on a vacation, but I don't think it was quite as simple as that. After all, for me writing can often be a very relaxing, even refreshing, task. What I had forgotten, or at least misjudged, however, was something perhaps even simpler: I was travelling with three elementary school children who had enough strenght to stay awake well into the night, and who wanted to be occupied in the daytime. When it was time for them to go to sleep, I was at least as exhausted as they were. Often I drove for long hours each day, or was busy doing the things that families do when they're trying to take a vacation. In circumstances such as these, access to a computer, or even having a pen and a piece of paper handy, simply weren't conducive to getting any writing accomplished. I was either too busy, or too tired, to write. In retrospect, it was crazy to even consider the possibility of getting any writing done. I'd forgotten than I have kids.

That's it for this edition. Reactions and suggestions can be sent to:

Jay Hurvitz

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