Ursula Sadiq

"Hey, how did I get here?", asks the once and future geek. "Each step made sense along the way, didn't it?" Didn't it?

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It's going to be pretty much the same as my Arizona entry. I.e., I drove through it, ate fast food, slept in a rest stop. Unless I remember anything ANYTHING else. It's very possible I've been to Little Rock for some software training and just don't remember. I think maybe MAYBE as a newly minted graduate in 1993 I stopped in the town of Hot Springs and couldn't figure out how to engage with tourist trap spas. But I'm not sure

So yeah, been to Arkansas. Kinda. 

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I should have driven across the river and stepped foot in Arkansas when I visited Memphis. Don't know when I'll have my next chance!
 

So I went to Alaska a fair bit in the 1990/2000s. I went in August when the blueberries and tourists were plentiful, and in midwinter where locals were starved for outsider energy, and many other months along the way.

I visited Anchorage Alaska for my traveling software consultant job, supporting engineering firms that worked the oilfields. 

One of the things I found most impressive were the moose. I first saw one when it was running down the shoulder of the highway. And another a few days later from the window of the building where I was working. But my clearest memory of these massive animals was when I was walking one of the many trails in Anchorage. As I was coming up a gentle slope there it was, this GIANT animal, a mere 10 feet from the trail, munching away at some plant. It looked at me and kept munching. I was stunned, and too scared to walk past. So I just stood there. And stood there. And it just kept on munching. I wasn't scared of being eaten, I was scared of being trampled - this creature was HUGE. It was like 7ft tall and 1000 lbs. So there I stood, transfixed.

But after a while, a cyclist wizzed down past me in the other direction. And then another. And the moose didn't care and didn't move. So I screwed my courage to the sticking point, and heart pounding I walked past it. It just kept munching. 

I have lots of other memories of Alaska - the people there are pretty "cowboy" - lots of radical individualists. People looking for something or running from something. It's the only place that, when I was teaching a software class, when I asked the room to press the "cancel" button, EVERY LAST ONE of the students picked a different button. 

I drove down the Seward one day off, and took the harbor cruise. I bought an excellent windbreaker while there, that I have to this day. I saw a glacier up close and marveled at how the ice is baby-blue. I got annoyed at folks cutting their grass at 11pm, as the sun was still out. I would meet coworkers at "the best Mexican restaurant in Anchorage '' - also the only Mexican restaurant in Anchorage, barely a step up from Taco Bell. I laughed at the story of how a bear kept breaking into the local zoo, because that was where the food was. I planned to but never got around to heading up to Denali. I never saw a whale, which I'm good with since I'm terrified of whales

So yeah, I've been to Alaska.

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Now I feel like I have.
 

You know those "how many places have you been to" quizzes. Well, I've been to a lot. But sometimes I'm not sure I've been to a place. So I'm starting a series where I record memories from the places I've been. Starting with US States, and starting alphabetically. 

So, Alabama.

In the late 90s and into the 2000s I was a corporate employed traveling engineering software consultant/trainer. I went to lots of engineering firms to set up and teach the niche software we sold. (REBIS AutoPLANT if you must know)

One place I went to a few times was Birmingham, Alabama to work with Southern Company. I set up & customized software there, and did some training. I have strong recollections of one guy there Mike who was just smart and cool and great to work with. 

I also remember staying at some boutique hotel downtown where in an adjacent shop they were selling "sheet powder". It was lovely smelling talcum powder that apparently in the past people used to put on their sheets before they turned in for the night. I was young and frugal so I didn't purchase any. Today I probably would have, since I've gotten better at balancing my *now* self with my *future* self. I'm naturally future oriented, meaning I tend to not give now-me enough life enjoyment/experiences. But like I just mentioned, I've gotten better at that balance.

In the early 90s I worked for an offshore company (Schlumberger) and we sometimes left from a dock in Alabama. But I don't remember much about that. I do recall on the drive to the dock once my crew talking about how one of the engineers had decided to be vegetarian. And how incredulous they were about that. Good old Lousiana men just couldn't wrap their heads around not eating meat, not even seafood. 

If I think of more Alabama memories I'll add them later. But yeah, I've been to Alabama. Though not recently.

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I often have the same problem. Have I been to Rhode Island? My parents tell me I've been to Rhode Island, but I don't remember it.

I also tend to focus on my future self at the expense of my current self. Any tips for improving the balance, other than just being cognizant of the imbalance?

I lived in Birmingham for a year and change circa 2009-2010, living in Five Points South. It had a robust and welcoming tech scene and I met a lot of great people there, who knows maybe I even met Mike (did he ever wear a utilikilt?). I never made it down to Mobile or the gulf coast though.
Being aware of the imbalance is the biggest step. Then it's become easier to give yourself permission to act. I don't have any real useful tips.

Mike might have worn a utilikilt. He had the demeanor, but I don't recall every seeing him in one.
Love it.