Hilton Hotel, Union Square, San Francisco
I love the contrasts in my life. I can be happy sleeping in the back of my truck, but I can be even happier sleeping in a room on the 34th (executive) floor at the Hilton. I can be happy eating a freeze-dried expedition meal while watching the sun set over the ocean, but I can be just as happy eating seared scallops in the gorgeous salon of Farralon, under exotic chandeliers shaped like jellyfish and sea urchins – err, so long as somebody else is paying.

Tonight that somebody else was Leo Laporte, who with his assistant Dane had come into San Francisco to meet me and discuss technology, websites, and particularly the weird and wonderful world of the blogosphere. I, apparently, am some sort of a cutting-edge blogger, especially when I go oceanic and blog via satphone about a world that few people will ever get to experience firsthand.

We talked about how blogs allow us to drop, however briefly, into somebody else’s life. In particular, we are hatching plans for future podcasting collaboration – another way to live vicariously. I know that during this year’s curtailed foray onto the Pacific, a generous supply of podcasts of “This American Life” helped ease the passage of hours at the oars, allowing me to temporarily depart the small confines of my boat and let my imagination roam through another person’s world.

It’s fascinating to me to consider the way that people connect in the 21st century. Where once we would have sat around a fire, listening to elders telling epic stories of lives and legends, now we log on to the internet to get a glimpse of alternative versions of the human experience – but maybe the motivations remain the same: a desire to learn about what to do or what not to do, a wish to expand the horizons, a need to be inspired – or just plain curiosity about what it feels like to be somebody else.

Is it a basic human need to take a break from being ourselves once in a while – perchance to dream?

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