What I Did on my Summer Vacation

This entry was posted by on Sunday, 6 July, 2008 at

I’m done with a nice 12-day vacation. I was definitely on the verge of burning out; unproductive at the office and cranky at home all the time. I really needed to step back and forget about computers for a while.

What I did instead:

  • Went on a family vacation to Dubuque, Iowa, a mere 3 hour drive from Chicago.
    • Stayed in a hotel-waterpark with wife and 2 year old. Waterpark every day.
    • Horse-carriage rides.
    • Mississippi paddleboat rides.
    • Mississippi Aquarium Museum.
    • Lots of ice cream.
  • Finally finished reading Watership Down.
  • Started reading The Compassionate Carnivore, which gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that I’m not alone in being a freerange-itarian.
  • Read the through the new 4th edition D&D Player’s Handbook. I’m a geek. I like roleplaying games. Sue me.
  • Went to the Indiana Dunes — at a friend’s house — for the 4th of July.
  • Went to the Bristol Renaissance Faire
  • Shot 300 photos. A few of them were pretty good.
  • Beta-tested an excellent new text-adventure game written by a friend; it should be available to the public by August 1st.
  • Played my banjo at the usual Friday night jam.

Time to go back to Google; I’m continuing to lead a team whose goal is to make Google Code’s Subversion service as fast and scalable as possible.

5 Responses to “What I Did on my Summer Vacation”

  1. Hey Ben,

    Speaking of the Compassionate Carnivore, have you read any of Michael Pollan’s books? I just finished “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (http://www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php) which I really enjoyed.


  2. Yep yep, I’m in the middle of reading it.

  3. Aaaaah. Isn’t it amazing what a difference some time away from the usual grind can make?

    Did you like Watership Down?

  4. If you did like Watership Down, and you like creepy animation, rent the movie. It’s…interesting.

  5. Hi!

    While we’re going with book recommendations, I’ll add Peter Singer’s name, in particular “Animal Liberation”. I think he thinks similarly to you — he’s a utilitarian trying to minimize suffering, and he doesn’t think animals are *much* less capable than humans of experiencing suffering, and his approach doesn’t have a problem with eating animals who aren’t made to suffer unnecessarily before or during their death. I consider myself the kind of vegetarian who would eat meat if he knew it was treated well, though for the last year or so I’ve been able to just stay vegetarian. (Moving to Boston and finding mostly-vegetarian friends there helped enormously with that; I don’t think I could’ve done it without friends who go to vegetarian restaurants, and so on.)

    Peter Singer’s also a modern ethical philosopher in the general sense, and writes very cogently on other subjects such as poverty relief: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/17/magazine/17charity.t.html?_r=2&ex=157680000&en=f93281b678aaba14&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

    He’s quite disappointed in the certification process, though. There’s a fledging “Certified Humane” label that looks promising but not widely used, but otherwise you’re tending to rely on the producer self-selecting whether they think they treat animals humanely. I agree (with your earlier blog posting) that Whole Foods is a good start.

    I wrote a lot. You did say that you get fuzzy feelings from not feeling alone. 😉

    – Chris.