Friday, August 20, 2010

West Texas Drive

Click on map for a the full-size version
A few days ago, I took a 900 mile drive through West Texas to see some things I haven't seen before.  I left Austin around noon on Monday the 16th, and got back home around 3am on Tuesday the 17th.

Of the people I've spoken to about this, I've gotten responses such as...
  • Why didn't you stop overnight?
  • Why did you drive out that far?
  • Why didn't you stop somewhere for a tour?
I'm not sure I can answer any of these without including the word "nuts" in it...

I've thought a lot about the reasons I take these drives.  For me, it is like I used to do on my bicycle many years ago when I was a kid:  I want to go somewhere and see some place I haven't seen before, or that I want to see again.  It's a quiet journey with few annoyances or distractions that allow me to detach myself from the stresses and hustle of living in city life.  I'm sure in some ways I feel I get to live in the middle of the beauty I see, if just for the moment I'm driving there.  I don't really have any interest in doing lots of touristy things or interacting with people.  This is an escape for me.  I don't stop overnight because that takes a lot more preparation than I usually do with this...  I may try that sometime in the future.

Davis Mountains in West Texas
I would love to have created an entire album of what I saw during the trip, but that seems to be beyond the scope of what this blog is all about.  This photo of the Davis Mountains I took during the last part of my trip (with a new digital camera I got this past Sunday, I may add...) before turning around and heading back.  Can you see how one could get lost in the scenery here?  Absolutely amazing, and this is only a small fraction of what I saw on the way.  The map (above) shows the path I took, the red pathway was going out and the blue path is coming back (the purplish was where I back-tracked).  The blue points and green picnic tables were places I took various pictures (again, my apologies, but I can't include them all here...).

I already wrote about KOPE-FM in a previous entry.  That was an interesting bit of exploration in and of itself.

I've been thinking a lot about where my life is and its value, given the fact that I no longer have a cat to care for.  For most of you, this thought process is generally a pleasant one, reflecting on achievements and optimism about where your life is headed.  For me, that process is a somewhat painful one, in part because I don't see my own achievements as being very significant, or because I don't get the feeling that anyone else finds the things I do significant, or because I look at the way many things are and become very frustrated and discouraged.  It isn't the world I was hoping it would be.  I started trying to take a friend's advice and consider a different online avenue by which to meet my female partner-in-crime, so to speak.  There were questions like, "What are your particular interests in science?"  "What other interests and pastimes are do you engage in?"  "What are your favorite books, writers, or films?"  'What are your greatest sources of enjoyment?"  So many difficult questions...  Then tonight I saw the ABC Nightline mini-series, "Secrets of Your Mind:  Unlocking the mysteries of why we love and how we love."  That left me with more mysteries than answers, although it was an interesting program...  I also watched the Hak5 program about DEFCON-18 (an intense hacker conference that happens once a year).  At one time I could look at the kinds of stuff going on at one of these conferences and be able to see myself there in some ways.  This time, well, not so much.  They talked to a group that was hacking the microcontroller-based conference badges, and another group that was making a self-guided UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle...a model airplane on steroids in other words) that could monitor and hack into networks, and while I was fascinated by and understood what they were doing (really cool stuff), I realized that I would never have thought about these things on my own...not anymore, at least.

What has happened to the mad computer scientist in me?  What are my "other interests and pastimes?"  Where do I find my "greatest sources of enjoyment?"  Is there really anyone out there who would share those with me, if I could figure it all out, or at least explain it?  Would I be putting way too much pressure on that person, and do I want to possibly ruin someone's life in the process?

My interests in science are more or less computer technology and how that technology can help improve our lives.  I am interested in how the brain works, and why people do what they do (psychology?  sociology?  both?).  My other interests and pastimes are driving out to the middle of nowhere and admiring the landscape, before some money-grubbing developer destroys it all.  I like listening to music (just listening).  I like watching (apparently strange) TV programs and movies that make people make weird faces at and ask me to explain what it's about, but I can't really vocalize it.  I like eating out at places.  I like spending time with the cats.  My greatest source of enjoyment?  Argh.  I don't know.  I don't have a favorite book or writer...and I'm not sure I have a favorite film, but I guess my favorite genre are comedies.  I'm not embarrassed to say that I watch TV, although it seems that most intellectual types see TV in the same way I see Flash (gak, that's a horrible thought).

Final question, "What characteristics do you consider important in a prospective mate or friend?"  I used to think I knew the answer to this question. I'm not sure I do anymore...

I find driving 900 miles in a day allows me some time to get away from this madness, and the sights that I can see are pleasant and happy (they'd even be more happy if I didn't see them in 100+ degree weather, but that's another story entirely...).  Even though this kind of trip is somewhat exhausting, in other ways it is very relaxing.  This is what I was aiming for when I thought about driving to NY.

Oh well...  Another day...

1 comment:

Speck said...

Wow! What a trip! I'm glad you're getting out and doing what you want. Find any good food places on the way?