A definite perk of working for Warner Brothers is that I have full access to their studio lot (when I can find time to visit). Lately I’ve been eating at their cafeteria at lunch time, and to get there I have to pass through several of the “street” sets. I go from the streets of Gotham past a series of buildings that look like something from the Matrix, past ER’s County General Hospital (which was covered in snow today — very, very weird), and down a row of fake brownstones. The cafeteria sits at the end of these sets, and is followed by perhaps two dozen giant soundstages housing everything from Friends to Drew Carey. I’m not enough of an entertainment buff to know if I’m seeing anyone famous, but it’s nevertheless a very surreal break to the day.
A completely unrelated note, but I clicked on the wrong bookmark today and accidentally ended up going to the National Park Service Seasonal Employment page. Working as a field biologist in the backcountry of Denali is something I would jump on immediately, but unfortunately the soonest I could do it would be the summer of 2004 — the Galapagos trip in May makes a summer job for this year impossible.
I’ve been in kind of a funk the last two weeks or so. For the first time since Halloween I’m taking time off from running — my body is doing great, but mentally I can’t seem to push myself through anything longer than a six mile run. Hopefully it’s just the boredom of running on treadmills every night and taking three or four days off will break the spell. In regards to work I’m kind of plugging along, but the days are blending into one another and I’m losing a sense of time — it takes a bit of thought to figure out if it’s Tuesday or Thursday.
I suppose the current mental lapse should be evidence that I’m not meant for the corporate world and that I should get out into the wilds again as soon as possible. And while that’s tempting, the catch is that if I leave the corporate world for too long and then for some reason decide that I need to come back to earn money (or for whatever reason) my earning potential would have dropped significantly and I would need to work for a longer period to earn the same amount. So work a bit now and sacrifice the present, or run off to the wilds but then potentially sacrifice a longer chunk of the future? I’m lucky to be able to have such a choice available to me, but I can’t decide which option is best — any advice or thoughts would be appreciated.
Decided late on Friday to go home for the weekend — for whatever reason I felt like I needed to be somewhere that felt comfortable, but unfortunately due to the fact that I’m home so seldom it’s tough to return without it being somewhat of a special occasion. While it was nice to see the folks again, part of me needed the experience of belonging somewhere and of fitting in naturally, both of which probably would have required a longer stay to recapture.
Returned to LA tonight, will work for the week, then most likely I’ll be back in the Bay Area again next weekend to meet up with friends. It will be good to see everyone again, and with luck we’ll all be able to slip back into our old routines without being affected by time or distance — change may be inevitable, but in the case of friends and family I think I’d rather things stay the same for as long as possible.
This is a really random thought, but bear with me. I was looking through my photos from Cambodia earlier and thinking about how the government there puts so much effort into making sure that nothing happens to affect the monuments or to disrupt tourism around Angkor Wat (they could do more, but let me ramble). The reason for this is due to the large amount of money generated by this monument — consider the following: it costs about $20 (US) per day for a pass to get into the Angkor temple complex. Assuming one thousand people visit each day (that figure is really low I think) that’s $20,000 each day generated by this complex. Now consider that $60-$250 per year is a normal salary in Cambodia, vs. about $30,000 in America. Conservatively estimating a 100x differential that means that the revenue generated for Cambodia is the equivalent of a monument in the US that generates about two million per day. Now consider that Cambodia’s population is about 1/25th of the US, so the value of Angkor to the government jumps again — equivalent of around fifty million dollars each day in the US. That’s roughly the equivalent of twenty billion dollars per year using conservative estimates and ignoring the value of hotels and other amenities in the area — the number might be several times higher. It seems like other developing countries could learn from this example — much of the Latin American rain forest is disappearing, African countries are losing battles with poachers, and the list goes on despite the fact that protection of these places might perhaps be their most valuable use.
I heard a radio commercial a while back that talked about how these days it’s cool to be tired — we can’t help but brag about how little sleep we get, and I’m about to prove that point. I’ve had insomnia all week, but last night I fell asleep before 11:00. At 11:45 the phone rang, and it turned out there was a server outage at work. After trying to resolve things over the phone I ended up heading to the office at 12:30, and by 1:30 we had found the problem but had to wait for the folks at the network operations center to fix it. By 4:30 it still wasn’t fixed, and I was curled up in a comforter sleeping under my desk. At 8:00 my boss came in, rather surprised to find out I was sleeping on the floor, and by 9:00 the network folks had finally fixed the problem. I was the butt of many jokes as people who knew I was in late last night stopped by and saw the comforter folded up on my desk. It’s not something I’d want to do often, but it makes for a good story when it happens once in a while.
I just spent an hour on the phone with Ma trying to figure out why the site was down and why she had no internet connection. We checked router settings, verified the DSL modem was working, and looked at a million other things before I suggested maybe she check and make sure the phone line was plugged in. The response from Ma: “The phone line needs to be plugged in?”
Busy lately. Flew home for Christmas, and after covering the house in lights celebrated with the family — my brother got me a Bernie Kosar jersey, which is probably the greatest gift anyone who grew up in Cleveland could ever hope to get. If you can imagine Aaron and I in 1986 wearing dog masks and singing “Bernie, Bernie” (to the tune of “Louie, Louie”) then you can understand the beauty of this gift. Jenn came through with a three liter bottle of Heineken that was immediately dubbed “the Christmas miracle” so it was a joyous Noel.
Flew back to LA Christmas night, then drove back up to the Bay Area for the weekend to move some things and visit the family again. Drove to Las Vegas for New Year’s to meet some friends, and ended up spending New Year’s day with the worst hangover I’ve had in years — Banick and Kalyan always manage to make it a memorable occasion when we all get together. While New Year’s eve included fireworks on the Strip, being hit on by hookers, and watching friends lose $200 in less than fifteen minutes while playing blackjack, the highlight had to be when I eventually trusted my balance enough to attempt a trip to the casino restroom, only to hear someone say “Be careful, he’s been drinking” as I was passing by. I might be getting too old to be doing that sort of thing, but it was still fun.
After New Years I drove back to LA, worked two days, then did a mad dash up to San Francisco (375 miles), back down to Las Vegas (600 miles), and eventually home to LA (300 miles). The buffet at the Bellagio and the silhouettes of dancers in cowboy hats at Shadow Bar competed with the image of Banick too drunk to sit up straight (“Holliday, help me get my face off of the table”) as the highlight of this Vegas trip. Now I’m dead tired and back at work, but the plan for next weekend is to stay in my room and hopefully have nothing more taxing to do than lie in bed so with luck I’ll be ready to do it all again in a couple more weeks.