Some thoughts from the trip
Although I did take a laptop with me on vacation, I actually managed not to use it very much during my stay in Colorado. As an avid blog reader and a blogger myself, it was initially a bit strange to be cut off from the goings-on in the blogosphere, but it was no weirder than being cut off from my Bloomberg terminal and not watching CNBC or Bloomberg TV. In fact, I hardly watched any news at all, and I spent an inordinate amount of time tuned to the Weather Channel. As I had suspected, their longer-term forecasts were pretty bad. Predicting the weather more than a few days out is very, very hard. Those ten-day forecasts you get lose all predictive value after day four or so, unless you live in places like Los Angeles (75 and sunny for the next year) or Amsterdam (55 and rainy for the next year). I did get some weird weather while I was in Vail, starting off with a blizzard as I drove from Denver to Vail on I-70 followed by a veritable heat wave for a day or two. Temperatures hit 55 in Vail village, and Denver was up at almost 75. Fortunately, the weather returned to more winter-like conditions soon after, and there was a nice pack of 6 to 8 inches of fresh snow on Monday. Going out into the back bowls with that kind of snow is a skier's heaven. Especially the wide open expanses in Blue Sky Basin, Siberia Bowl, Mongolia Bowl and Teacup Bowl are great. You get incredible amounts of pristine snow to ski in. Vail may not have the most challenging or steepest slopes, but there's an awful lot of terrain there to explore.
I really wish I could have blogged while I was on the ski lifts. Those times always prove excellent for contemplation and I could have knocked out many a great blog entry. I direct transcription link within my brain would have been great; nanotechnology cannot come soon enough as far as I am concerned. The ideas are not gone, and I will write them up over the next days as I regain a firmer hold on the Central European Timezone. The adjustment from Mountain to CET has proved more difficult than usual this time. Perhaps I am getting old.
Vail is hardly an average Colorado town. Virtually none of the people on the slopes are local. I did meet a few, but the skiers are visitors from all over America, with some local Coloradans mixed in. I must say though that the people in Colorado (and not just in Vail) are extremely friendly. It's so completely unlike Manhattan. Coloradans also drive way too fast in white-out conditions. Since most people are vacationing, the hot topics of the day were kept out of conversations as if by a tacit pact. It's vacation, and we're not going to discuss the war or any other contentious issues. The only time this broke down was the morning when the Columbia was lost. The TV in the breakfast room was tuned to a news channel. What this all means is that I have no great insights into the psyche or disposition of the average vacationer in Vail. I guess it's a good sign people can forget the war at least temporarily. Or perhaps not. It certainly did not feel like there was an air of crisis hanging over the town or slopes.
Since I was utterly exhausted from all the skiing, I did spend more time than usual watching TV. Or, to put it more accurately, flipping through TV channels in a semi-comatose state. The thing that really, really annoyed me were all the food commercials. I had some excellent dinners while I was there, and by the time I was flipping through channels I was usually well-fed. Watching commercials for more food just evoked a gag reflex. I don't want golden crusts, country skillets, feed-3-for-$5 deals, whoppers, dollar menus or generic Tyson Chicken. I JUST HAD DINNER! Aaaargh! (sorry.)
Are there really more food commercials on these days? Or is just me watching more TV this time? And then there's the mysterious channel 76. All it shows, night and day, is an oscilloscope. I forgot (again) to ask what it was, but by the differences in the reading of the oscilloscope, it looks like it's measuring the spectral composition and intensity of incoming radiation. The pattern is very different during the day and night, and also different depending on cloudiness. So it looks like it's on there to show people how much radiation is coming in and what kind of radiation it is. When all your muscles hurt and your brain is shorted out from the wine, it's actually a fascinating channel to watch. (Ah, how easy it is to amuse a nerd: just show him an oscilloscope and he's happy!)
I am still trying to catch up on all the blogging that's been going on while I was in my self-imposed hiatus. This may take a while yet, but I am slowly getting up to speed with things again. (Work is not helping either; I feel like I already need another vacation.) I'm also trying to straighten out all things that I wanted to blog about while I was on the ski lifts. First though I am going to make another attempt to get myself back into the right time zone.
Posted by qsi at February 13, 2003 11:38 PM
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Reprogramming my TV the other day (my company has an odd habit of adding channels to my service from time to time, though they're usually not any good), I managed to pick up a similar channel; it appeared to be a raw readout of incoming satellite signal. The noise level was truly remarkable. I think they must do some pretty astounding error-checking to get a clean signal.
It disappeared a few days later. I then had to amuse myself with watching the computer running the TV Guide channel crash every 10-15 minutes. It would freeze, and someone would go in and reset it, and you could watch Windows 2000 boot up. The guide would start running again, and then die.
They ended up replacing the software, I think; the channel looks different now.