Watching the world go by

I write this from the Northbound Acela, returning home to Boston at the end of – I think – my third trip in as many weeks. Perhaps it’s the fourth. I’ve learned that it’s better to not spend too much time counting the little wounds, tracking the indignities. As long as I get home safe, manage a bit of rest, and proceed forward with life not too much the worse for wear … why keep track? Why waste perfectly good time second guessing time already committed?

Fortunately I’ve got computer programs. I’ve tracked 22 unique trips on TripIt this year, which squares with what I feel in my gut – an average of about two per month. Most of those have been two or three day gigs. Of course, one of those was a trip around the world to spend three weeks in Tibet – so the averages are a bit skewed. TripIt says that I’ve logged about 40,000 miles this year. Marriott says that I’ve paid for about 25 nights this year. This makes 2011 a VASTLY better business travel year than 2010, in which I made the 75 nights in a calendar year cutoff for “platinum” status.

No matter your attitude on the romance of travel, hotels are hotels. Trust me, you don’t want to spend 20% of your nights in them – even if the managers give you free drinks and greet you by name when you check in. I usually feel a vague sense of dispair when the night desk staff get to know me by name.

Triple that if you find yourself doing back to back full weeks in *cough* socially difficult work environments in a town where the best sort of entertainment is to find the most badass martial arts school around, work in, and stick around for the advanced class even though you don’t qualify – because you just don’t want to go back to the hotel, sleep, and deal with the next day. That not only wears on your soul, but also leaves lasting callouses over the cracked ribs.

But enough about me, let’s talk about me for a minute: I’ve been singularly uninterested in blogging for the past few months. I notice a lot of stuff in the world – but I just never get around to writing about it.

One example: I wandered through the “Occupy Boston” protest on Tuesday afternoon. There’s a peaceful little tent cluster outside of South Station. Maybe a hundred people chilling, supervised by four or five police. Sometimes someone speaks. Usually there’s an idiot singing. It seems to be mostly college kids and serious burnouts with a smattering of the professionally pissed off. They were peaceful and positive and disorganized and totally helpless to actually change anything. I got a little misty eyed looking at this sad little gathering literally scrunched up against the bottom of the steel and stone castles of finance. I was sort of looking for the boiling oil from the State Street building.

Here’s the thing: I support and agree with what they’re doing. I wish I had time to help. However, I’m the establishment now. I *have* a job, and I needed to catch a train. I’m some kind of successful business guy.

And that’s it. Already I’m fighting to find another couple of words to say about that.

Oh well. I’m still here. Hope you are too.

1 comment to Watching the world go by

  • Re: “being the establishment” — perhaps. As someone who sympathizes with the Occupiers as well, I don’t have a problem with what you do. You are presumably going out there and creating an actual product, with actual value to the world. Most importantly you’re enabling American scientists to do more and better basic research, which is an essential driving force for the growth we’ll need to get the US out of the economic craphole it’s spent itself into. Your company, as far as I know, also abides by the law’s spirit as well as its letter. This can and should be compared and contrasted with the behavior of those who are gaming the system for their own gain, with little regard for the real human cost they’re imposing on the country — and, due to the fundamental interconnectedness of all things (especially financial markets), the world.

    In short, you’re already helping, dude.

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