Work Tomorrow

I got an email from my new boss that he thought it would be bet­ter for me to start work tomor­row (Tues­day), so I have one last day to pre­pare. No more sleep­ing till 8! Up and at ’em! It’s very appro­pri­ate that my first day of work is the 13th. For those who don’t know me, it’s my lucky num­ber, hav­ing been born on that date, same as my broth­er.

In the mean­time, I’m going to take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to iron all of my clothes, get some last tasks fin­ished in the home office, and write a few emails. I’ve fig­ured out that ‘Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me’, the NPR quiz show, takes up a sin­gle day’s com­mute (half of it, each way) on my my iPod. Hope­ful­ly, I’ll be able to keep from grin­ning like an idiot on the bus, but I had trou­ble doing that on the T in Boston. That takes care of the Mon­day ride. I think it will be fun to plan some of the ‘enter­tain­ment’ for the rest of the week.

It’s actu­al­ly remark­able how sim­i­lar my route from home to work will be to my last one (when I worked at Fideli­ty Invest­ments): It starts out with a bridge (the Granville Bridge here, the Longfel­low Bridge before), and then tra­vers­ing some of the down­town area to a train sta­tion (Water­front Sta­tion here, South Sta­tion before). It’s then a short walk from where I get off to work (Water Street here, Sum­mer Street before). As before, a cou­ple of flights of stairs up and I’m in the office. If I had worked at Fideli­ty’s Water Street office in Boston, it would have sound­ed even more sim­i­lar! The com­mute time is near­ly iden­ti­cal as well. It think this new one is maybe a few min­utes short­er, depend­ing on when the bus arrives and the speed of morn­ing rush hour traf­fic. It was a hap­py coin­ci­dence that Pam and I locat­ed our­selves (whether we real­ized it or not) in the same approx­i­mate rela­tion­ship to the city as our last place.

I don’t think I’ll get a chance to set­tle in that much before the new year. After all, there’s this week (which will be a 4 day week for me now), next week, and then Christ­mas hits. The week after that has a hol­i­day on Mon­day (Box­ing Day, for the unini­ti­at­ed). I“m imag­in­ing that the week between Christ­mas and New Years will be fair­ly qui­et. A New Year’s vis­it with my broth­er and his fam­i­ly is also some­thing to look for­ward to. All in all, a very gen­tle eas­ing into the work­force. I think that will go a long way toward mak­ing me feel more of a part of the city.

When you don’t work, you are always see­ing things as a vis­i­tor, or an out­sider. I remem­ber how I felt the first time I was laid off. It was as if I was walk­ing around with a big ‘U’ (for Unem­ployed) on my chest. That feel­ing actu­al­ly dis­suad­ed me from walk­ing around town, at first. Over time I got used to it. Here, it’s eas­i­er still because I haven’t worked in this city yet.

Guns, Germs and Steel
Guns Germs And SteelLast night the His­to­ry Chan­nel ran a fas­ci­nat­ing doc­u­men­tary by Jared Dia­mond, the author of the recent ‘hot’ book, “Col­lapse: How Soci­eties Choose to Fail or Suc­ceed”. It was a drama­ti­za­tion of his ear­li­er book, “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Soci­eties”, which won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1998. Dia­mond’s over­ar­ch­ing idea is that Geog­ra­phy was the largest sin­gle force in the rise of Euro­pean Civ­i­liza­tion. An ample sup­ply of food was pro­vid­ed by domes­ti­cat­ed ani­mals: the cow, horse, sheep, goat and pig, which were all native to Eura­sia. The very shape of the con­ti­nents and the ter­rain, which allowed peo­ple to move around in the same lon­gi­tude (and hence, the same cli­mate band) with­out huge moun­tains in their way, gave some groups of peo­ple a dis­tinct advan­tage over oth­ers. Because they had more free time when they weren’t look­ing for food, they devel­oped Tech­nol­o­gy, which even­tu­al­ly cre­at­ed armor, the train (steel) and guns. These items, along with resis­tance to dis­eases by liv­ing around domes­ti­cat­ed ani­mals (which the Africans of the same era lacked), and you had the stage set for the dom­i­na­tion of Africa by Europe that con­tin­ued to near­ly the present day. While the pro­gram was a bit slow-mov­ing, it illus­trat­ed clear­ly many of Dia­mond’s ideas. Crit­ics of Dia­mond claim that his the­o­ries are too pat, that it takes more than sim­ply Geog­ra­phy to lead to the ascen­dan­cy of one peo­ple or anoth­er, and that some of that ‘Tech­nol­o­gy’ was acquired from oth­ers (notably, Chi­na, who pro­vid­ed gun­pow­der). Oth­ers see this book as per­pet­u­at­ing the myth of Euro­pean supe­ri­or­i­ty (the way that Hern­stein and Mur­ray’s “The Bell Curve” of 1994 clothed poten­tial­ly racist con­clu­sions in sta­tis­ti­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tions). In any case, it’s sur­pris­ing that Anthro­po­log­i­cal His­to­ry can be such a grip­ping sub­ject, even if it all hap­pened thou­sands of years before we were born.

2 Replies to “Work Tomorrow”

  1. Hi there, I found you through Mak­taaq and took a quick read on your ‘about me’ pro­file. Sor­ry to hear that a few ass­hats called you a ‘quit­ter’. Every win­ter sea­son the same ass­hats man­age to get an anti-Cana­da let­ter pub­lished in the Whistler com­mu­ni­ty papers and it gets fol­lowed up next week by a local rebut­tal to the likes of ‘sucks to be you/living below the 49th par­al­lel’.

  2. Thanks for the sup­port. It was real­ly wierd get­ting those ‘Good-bye and don’t let the door slam­ming hit your butt on the way out’ mes­sages. A few of those con­ser­v­a­tive blog­gers were civ­il and even invit­ed me to con­tribute to their sites (which were main­ly rail­ing against Planned Par­ent­hood and Euthana­sia, of all things)as an oppos­ing point of view (I haven’t tak­en them up on the invi­ta­tion). They seem to have lost track of me after I made the move. Maybe it’s a case of ‘Out of coun­try, out of mind.’
    Any­way, thanks also for the com­ment. And you prob­a­bly know there are oth­er Amer­i­cans who feel like I do. Many of my friends were sym­pa­thet­ic, and maybe even a lit­tle envi­ous in some cas­es.

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