RY Darién - Prague Day 32

Dobrý den once again readers.

When I set out on this journey I originally intended to write at least one blog post a week. It seems its more difficult to keep with that schedule than I thought it was going to be. For those of you waiting for my next update, I apologize for the delay. Right now my schedule as I travel is pretty much filled with work during the week and I use the evenings in the weekend to write.

The weekend before last when I should have been writing a blog post, I was instead writing a talk that I gave to a group of my fellow remotes entitled “Basic InfoSec for Business Travelers” as part of the first ever RY Tech Talks, a series I’ve started up within our group. There will be a followup post on that soon (hopefully not long after I publish this one) which goes over my talk in detail, adds some things, and provides a link to an online version of the slides.

Last weekend I started writing this post, but as you’ll find out in the section entitled “On Writing” I met with some difficulties and internal turmoils about what exactly I wanted to say. In the end this post took me roughly 5 days to write. Without further ado, we’ll get into what’s happened in the intervening weeks

On Gratitude

During our “Big Day” event during the first week, each person in our RY cohort created a list of 5 values which they thought were important to their Remote Year journey. Then we joined into teams that got progressively larger until our entire cohort had laid out 5 values. One of the values I personally wrote down and that survived until the end is gratitude.

Over these last couple of weeks I think what gratitude means in my mind has changed some or at least the context of its meaning. When I first wrote it down as a value, I was thinking about the fact that so many of my friends and family had made comments to the effect that they wished they could come on a trip like this; as a result, I was thinking about things like my privilege in having a job that allows me remote work opportunities and pays well enough to afford an experience like this. While all of these things are true and I am thankful for them, my perspective has shifted after meeting my fellow remotes and spending close to a month with them.

Now that I’ve had just this brief experience I feel like gratitude means something different to me. When I think about gratitude its about the genuinely amazing group of people in my RY cohort; it is how everyone exudes their passion, intelligence, kindness, and acceptance; it is being able to share in the beauty of this place side-by-side with wonderful people. After meeting the people in my cohort I’m eternally thankful that the people in this group have accepted me as who I am and count me as part of the group. It’s a rare but very good feeling for me to be accepted as who I am.

On Writing

I’ve found in my writing that there’s so much I want to say that I’m not sure about sharing with the world. It’s easy to share the things which are not deeply personal, but because writing for the web is such a public endeavour it’s very difficult to truly bare your soul. A good chunk of this might be a side effect of my social anxiety, or perhaps just a part of my general introvertedness. I think there’s a lot of things which are important to write about regarding the human condition, relationships, love, and what we find truly meaningful to ourselves. I hope that maybe I can write more about these topics in the future, but for now I have quite a bit written down by hand that I haven’t yet had the courage to put on the screen.

Reading the blog posts from my fellow remotes has been very encouraging for my writing though, as so many people have said things so eloquently about their experience, with just the right touch of humor and panache. In particular I wanted to encourage anyone reading this to also read Nancy Levenson’s excellent post about her experiences this month. She has far more courage than I do, and I very much appreciate that she was willing to share something more deeply personal than I’m prepared to do at the moment. My hope is as the year goes on I will be able to open up more and bare it all. Till then I’ve been spending most of my time having experiences rather than writing about them.

On Beer

The Czech Republic is the #1 country by beer consumption per capita by a significant margin. As I sit here in Prague writing this I thought now would be a good opportunity to write an answer to a question someone asked me once. The question was: “Why do you love beer so much if you don’t enjoy being intoxicated?” In short, I think of beer, wine, and food as essential expressions of local and regional culture. Perhaps more importantly, I respect the love and craftsmanship that go into these things and enjoying the proceeds of that labor makes me feel good. The New York Times published an opinion piece in 2013 entitled “How Beer Gave us Civilization” no doubt inspired by the 2011 TV Documentary “How Beer Saved the World”. While I find there’s much pseudohistory surrounding the topic, its indisputable that beer has been a central ingredient to building regional food and social cultures the world over.

This is as good of an opportunity as any to share some photos from my recent visit to the Pilsner Urquell brewery in Plzeň, Czech Republic.

As several of my fellow remotes pointed out, I bear a striking resemblance to the current brewmaster at Pilsner Urquell.

I share a resemblance to the current brewmaster at #pilsnerurquell as my #remoteyear cohort pointed out. #remoments #plzeň #plzen #remoteyeardarien #beer

A photo posted by Tyler Duzan (@tristor86) on

Taken inside the new brewery complex at the Pilsner Urquell brewery. I loved the contrast of the colors between the burnished gold of the copper kettles and the green columns which are a similar shade of green to tarnished copper.

A Random Photo

I found Kinder Eggs in the train station at Plzeň. For those not aware, these are banned from importation into the US by the FDA because of a potential choking hazard due to the toy inside. As it happens though, that toy is inside of a plastic capsule and I can’t imagine how it’d be possible to swallow it far enough to choke as a full grown adult much less as a child. Either way, I of course had to buy some for everyone in our group. Someone got a photo of me posed holding it :)

What’s Up Next?

Saturday July 2nd

Those of us who didn’t leave early for an excursion to Budapest or Split on our way to Belgrade will be boarding a bus to go from Prague to Belgrade by way of a few hour stop over in Budapest around lunch time. We should arrive in Belgrade in the late evening the same day, but won’t really get our introduction to the city until the following morning. We’ve already received our roommate assignments and I will be in an apartment by myself close to the river for this leg of the trip.

Tuesday July 5th

I will be presenting a talk at the first of the new RY Tech Talk Tuesdays. These events are going to be formatted similar to the classic “lunch n learn” or “brown bag” format. Scheduled for an hour near lunch time each Tuesday, they should hopefully encourage wider participation both for people to attend and present. I’ll be kicking us off by talking everyone through an introduction to programming concepts in a presentation entitled “Talking to the Machine”. Key concepts which will be covered include parts of language syntax (operators/operands, keywords/builtins, methods/functions, objects/classes), basic boolean logic (truthiness, conditionals, if;then;else), flow control (loops, returns, and callbacks), how the call stack works, and basic debugging. This talk should prepare those who attend with no prior knowledge of programming to be ready to hear Andrew J Clark present on July 12th about the basics of iOS app development using Swift and/or to hear Shane McDermed and Colleen Sain present on July 19th about the basics of web application development using Javascript and React.

Conclusion

I apologize for how short this was and the general lack of photos. I’ve had minimal time to allocate to activities outside of work and I’ve chosen to go out and do things more and spend less time inside processing photos and writing. I’m sure the balance will shift somewhat back in the other direction after we arrive in Belgrade and I’ll take more photos to share. If you aren’t already, please follow me on Instagram @tristor86 to get a more day-to-day feed of my activities in photos.

Until next time, hezký den.

 
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