Techological Evolution = Societal Evolution (+ a warning?)

Let’s talk about Travis and his paranoid delusions. Or maybe they’re just my fears? As someone who has spent half his life in the high tech industry, I’m pretty familiar with the way a lot of the industry operates. I understand hardware, until it gets down beyond the silicon where there’s a lot of math and electrical current and all that. I understand software down to the part where you have to code the actual language of it. I understand the internet both from a user perspective, as well as from a technical perspective.

On top of all this knowledge-y goodness, I’m also old. I’ll be 41 in a couple of weeks. This gives me a lot of experience, but it also gives me a good deal of perspective. I’ve been alive long enough to actually see trends develop. A lot of you younger readers, you’ve grown up with the internet and instant communications. To you, this is just normal. This is how it is. It’s sort of like when I grew up with TV or electricity (okay, I’m not that old, but you know what I mean). It’s something you take for granted.

Now, knowing what I know about technology, business, and human nature (and money, let’s not forget money, and religion, I guess, though religion doesn’t play a part in this at all as far as I can tell), I’ve watched the world grow up with this new internet “thing.” There’s still some of us who are scared of computers, and don’t understand the internet. I’m pretty sure when I was born, there were still those who were scared to death of color television and didn’t understand why it was important to put men in space.

I’ve watched how technology has evolved the social structure of civilization, and has done it possibly more rapidly than any other huge leap in innovation ever has in our history. I grew up remembering a billion phone numbers (733-9329 was our home # for… forever, like twenty years or more, and 733-5776 was the number of the car dealership who had the most annoying asshole I’ve ever seen on TV doing their commercials). I grew up having to get up and change the channel. I also remember remote controls having five buttons only: power, channel up, channel down, volume up, volume down.

My mother told me about remotes that only had one button. You clicked it, and the channel went up. That’s it. To get all the way back around, you just clicked it a bunch of times. But, and keep this in mind, there were like… three TV networks back then, and that’s about it. The Star-Spangled Banner played at midnight, then it was six to eight hours of snow because the TV stations shut down for the night.
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Amtrak & The NHL: The Great American Hockey Road Trip

So, crazy idea time… (and yes, Carly is coming with me, I simply couldn’t do this without her!)

I saw an article the other day where Amtrak has some kind of pilot program where they offer a “Writer’s Residency” which sort of translates to “you get to ride Amtrak anywhere they go and use the time to write a book.”

Awesome idea, right? I mean, who of you have actually ridden in a train? And if you have, was it just a commuter train, or did you take the long way around?

This got me thinking… I might be able to combine this into two most excellent, as my friends Bill & Ted would say,  lifelong dreams:

1. To travel the country via Amtrak and then write a non-fiction book about the history of trains in America and how they opened up the west, the boom and bust towns along the Amtrak lines, businesses that still rely on Amtrak passengers to survive, and the people who still ride the train (both vacation and commuter).

2. Specifically, to ride the Amtrak to all 30 cities that have an NHL hockey team (keep in mind, Canada will require riding VIA Rail, their version of Amtrak) and write a book about our experiences including: A short history of each city and their NHL team. Photos and interviews with fans, business owners affected by the team, and members of each team, including players, coaches, and executives.

Some of the things (besides money, we’ll get to that in a minute) that would make this trip-job a lot easier:

A. To coordinate with Amtrak (and VIA Rail in Canada) so they can help us plan out our trip, maximizing time at each location while also taking the most scenic routes, stopping at historical or otherwise interesting cities along the way. To help us connect with interesting or influential persons and businesses that have history with the train companies. I want to make this a story about how trains built America, how they’ve become ghosts to almost everyone outside of the Northeast, and how they still affect the lives of Americans (and Canadians!) around them.

Discounted or free (promo) tickets of course would free up a huge expense, but not necessary. The money saved would allow us to stay longer in each location, visit more locations along the way, and spend more time digging up history and interviewing persons of interest.

Bonus: I want to encourage EVERYONE to take a train trip once in their lives.

B. To coordinate with the NHL so we can purchase game tickets in each city (have them waiting for us at will-call to make things simple), help me get access to players/coaches/executives for interviews, and to point out some of the more interesting persons/businesses in each NHL city (such as lifelong fans, a hot dog vendor who has been there 25 years, things like that). I want to make this a human story, but a human story about our love of hockey.

As with Amtrak/VIA Rail, discounted or free tickets to the NHL games would also free up a huge expense, allowing us to visit more locations, spend more time in each city before moving on, interviewing more persons of interest.

So, I’ve decided to begin a Kickstarter project. To make all of this happen, I’ll need some kind of funding/backing. Since I don’t know anyone rich enough to fund such a book writing excursion, I’m going to attempt to get a Kickstarter fund of $50,000 to make this happen.

Sure, it’s a pipe dream and a long shot, but if I can make this happen, this will be possibly the most memorable time in our lives. The reason I am going to try and get a minimum of $50k for funding is that Carly will have to take a sabbatical from her job, which means we’ll need not only just enough to pay the normal, minimal (we are VERY frugal already) bills, but we’ll need to also purchase everything: train tickets, NHL game tickets, hotel rooms, food, rental cars, and a myriad of other expenses that come along with taking an extended trip.

$50,000 won’t cover everything, but it will cover all of the major expenses, and we’ll scrimp and save and hope to <favorite deity here> that I sell a lot of books between now and opening night of the 2014-2015 NHL season in October. If I can somehow convince Amtrak or VIA Rail or the NHL to help out, I can lower the Kickstarter fund goal significantly.

Once the Kickstarter project is live, I’ll link it. As my friends, I sincerely hope you will do me a huge favor and spread the word about this. The more eyes that see it, the better my chances of meeting the funding goals are reached, and that means I can write two books about this incredible journey that Carly and I will have had the chance to experience.