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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Blessedly beyond bandwidth

I'm sitting in a coffee shop in a quaint little Bavarian-esque mountain town on a beautifully warm and sunny morning, enjoying a couple of days of decidedly non-commuting. This morning's playlist has been selected by Starbucks and has been a steady stream of classic jazz gems that are giving my calf muscles a steady workout as I irresistibly tap along. Temps are expected to reach the mid to upper 80's (25° C or so) today.

The sun sits someplace up beyond the roofline of the building we are in, casting a shadow-theatre of landing and shuffling birds (on the roof above us), elongated and cartoonish, over the pavement and parked cars just outside the window next to me. It creates a constant sense of movement in my right peripheral vision, pulling my glance out the window and onto the not-very-distant Cascade mountain peaks limned in golden light. "Remember," it quietly but persistently whispers, "why you are here."

The coffee shop allows my wife and I to get a little necessary work done by tapping into both their caffeine and their wireless bandwidth, the latter being almost non-existent at the place we are staying. You can pretty well predict what you will find at any hotel or resort that advertises "complimentary wireless" in guest rooms: the meanest hint of a wireless router located someplace just on the fringe of your device's range, flickering in and out of reach. Or, if the router is within reach, it will deliver the sort of bandwidth that feels like an occasional quarter-teaspoon of crawling access. It doesn't help that cellular data service in the area is just as bad.

At a large bustling urban hotel I can almost understand this, what with the rapid explosion of bandwidth-hogging mobile devices and the threadbare profit margins of the hospitality industry. But we're staying in a rambling estate of a resort with small cabin clusters and (if our count is correct) a total of three other parties besides ourselves. The "complimentary wireless" should hardly be taxed. Maybe our cabin's router is located a couple of clusters down the path? After quite a bit of experimentation, I discovered that sitting on the toilet allows me to pick up just enough wireless access to pull up a couple of web pages to check on local attractions.

Still, this is the only disappointment in our destination, which is otherwise charming, beautiful, and tranquil. It makes for a perfect short getaway destination, and offers the chance to restfully recalibrate our internal compasses, if only for a couple of days.

After this brief coffee-shop work break we will do a little more top-down canyon carving (and probably find the magic source of Aplets and Cotlets) before coming back to our temporary resort, with it's tantalizingly teasing "complimentary wireless," to walk the trails along the river, find a warm chair or rock from which to catch up on reading, or to just sit and talk.

And, really, how much bandwidth do we need, under these circumstances, anyway?

- Posted via Hermes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Not a turning-fifty post

Beautiful sun-draped early morning Thursday and the top was down on the Miata all the way in. Heater was cranked, though, to combat the low 40's (about 6° C) — I'm not that crazy. Bird song was in evidence everywhere along my casual short commute.

Thursday is the great pretender, trying to trick us into believing the weekend is almost here. When he robes himself in golden sunlight he is even more plausible. I can almost taste the weekend, with it's promised mid-seventies (mid-20's) sunny weather. So nice to look at a weather app and see only sun globes for a change.

There is a Board meeting this evening, where I will present our budget for next year, for first consideration. This will be the first year since I have been in this position that the legislature hasn't applied new cuts to our state funding. There are still the cuts for this coming year that were doled out at the start of the biennium, so we still see a further reduction in our state allocation, but at least it doesn't get compounded with more new cuts. [Here I shout a weak hurrah!] Our college has had our state allocation reduced over 30% in the last four years, so stitching a budget together that allows us to continue to serve our mission in our community remains a challenge. We have slid a long way down this bank, and there will be many years of climbing back up to do, assuming this still-fragile economic recovery holds.

Earlier this week I suppose I should have written a post on turning fifty, some short bit on the accumulated wisdom of my ages or something, but I didn't feel any urge to do so. Like calendars crossing century lines, turning fifty is one of those supposedly-meaningful boundaries. And maybe it is, when you eye it from afar and on the lower end perspective of the number line. It must seem impossibly old and far away. I don't remember. To those on the higher end of the number line it probably looks, peering back, as insignificant as any other mile post once you have walked past it a few more miles. I'm not really a calendars-as-significance sort of person, though. Calendars are for scheduling things that must be scheduled to keep track of, not for anticipating or recording major events. Take the calendar away and there is no significance to turning fifty (or any other age). So this paragraph is as close to a turning-fifty post as I intend to offer. I did get an offer from AARP in yesterday's mail, though.

I've been in a Sigur Rós playlist mood again lately, maybe because I am anticipating the release of their new album later this month. Good music to write to, build a budget and budget presentation to, or just to quietly turn fifty to.

Today's playlist (all Sigur Rós or Jonsi):
- Syndir Guös (opinberun frelsarans)
- Ba Ba
- Saint Naive - Live (Jonsi)
- Svefn-G-Englar

- Posted via Hermes.