7 Ways from Summer

It's summer and it's time for a vacation. Some time to decompress from the bajillions of emails and conference calls of corporate life would be refreshing.

I require downtime, some measure of independence, a means to replenish creativity, at minimal cost. In this post I'll lay out 7 options, in alphabetical order, that start with the letters B or C*.

Backpacking trip

This is attractive because I love being outside and place great stock in the benefits of living in a green-scape while breathing air laden with all manner of freshness and whatever nature sends aloft.

  • Downtime: This is an easy arithmetic problem - subtract vacation start date from end date.
  • Independence: Ultimate.
  • Creativity: Maybe, if I can transport any back to reality. The perception of creativity would more than make up for any real creativity gains.
  • Cost: Minimal.
Bike trip

High on my list of fun but painful activities with good scenery is randonneuring the C&O Canal.

  • Downtime: Lots.
  • Independence: Ultimate. Self-reliance is critical here.
  • Creativity: Maybe.
  • Cost: Moderate, since I'd need some gear.
Blogging and research

Indulge my introverted desires with a week of heads down on personal finance and computing hot buttons. See if anything comes of it.

  • Downtime: Decent.
  • Independence: Pretty good.
  • Creativity: Good.
  • Cost: None.
Career deep dive

This is the most serious option since it's something I need to examine regularly to keep up with my field, aka not falling off of the ladder. Some options would be to attend seminar, training, and/or networking events, or take multi-day retreat to cut distraction. Not the most fun short term but we're playing a long game here.

  • Downtime: Decent.
  • Independence: Pretty good.
  • Creativity: Good.
  • Cost: Varies widely.
Coding camp

While this sounds like a fun summery activity, it would more realistically be me and the french press spending a week in the basement building a new app or website, or revving an existing one. I'd get some space, some creative time, and still get to hang with R and Little every day.

  • Downtime: Maybe, between loads of laundry, odd jobs around the house and cooking meals.
  • Independence: Some.
  • Creativity: Pretty high, despite my desk being squeezed between the overworked HVAC and the constantly churning washing machine.
  • Cost: A pound of fresh roasted coffee beans.
Computer build

I would use this week to build a few servers. But that sounds too grandiose when I'm really just talking about a few old desktops lined up on a wooden shelf beside said washing machine and HVAC with little winky lights on their NICs. So let's just call them computers.

There's Beast, the hardware-dedicated file server, and Mini, the pfSense gateway and firewall. I don't plan on touching either.

My virtual machine host is becoming a bit cramped, and I run into disk space and memory issues every time I try to move things around or backup snapshots. The real challenge is how to increase capacity by swapping existing hardware parts. I've nearly reached my limits here, so next step would be to summon Newegg or Amazon for a few shiny boxes to bulk up my data power.

  • Downtime: Stay-cation style.
  • Independence: In my own brooding manner.
  • Creativity: Somewhat.
  • Cost: Too much.
Construction and remodeling projects

Our basement was semi-finished when we bought our house a few years ago, but we really want to finish it all the way. This means tearing out some of the old to make way for the new. First, though, we need to move out the bikes and boxes and computer stuff so I can work. This involves building a small storage shed for the bikes and other random stuff. There's a stump where we want to put the shed, so that has to be dug out or ground first. While I'd love to tackle this, my appetite is low for doing this in a week with a non-existent budget.

  • Downtime: The sheer number of dependencies here makes me uneasy.
  • Independence: Sort of.
  • Creativity: Somewhat.
  • Cost: Yes.

Well, there you have it. 7 no/low budget vacation/anti-work ideas. Stay tuned.

*Actually, that's all. 7 is the number - the first letter is happenstance.

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