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Down for the Count

After my busy week in Utah, I was home for just 1.5 days before heading north on Sunday afternoon to Vancouver and a speaking engagement the Vancouver PHP Conference. Late in the evening I started to feel a bit under the weather, and by Monday morning it was pretty clear that I was coming down with the flu. I was thinking of cancelling my talk and going home, but I didn’t.

When your job is to be up on stage talking and presenting, the “Show Must Go On” way of thinking is all too true. Less than 2 hours before my presentation I was barely able to say a sentence without getting into a coughing fit. Minutes before showtime, I was suddenly fine and I gave what I thought was a really good presentation to about 180 PHP developers. Not a scratch in my throat, and we had an excellent Q&A session.

In this case I was able to put my health aside for an hour or so to deliver my talk, but I don’t actually think that this is really a good thing. Mind over matter works for so long, and eventually fundamental physics takes over.

I can see that this mode of operation causes touring rock stars (not that I think of myself as one) to exhaust themselves or to fall into bad habits of all sorts — drugs, drinking, and so forth. When you find yourself strapped to a speeding freight train, you do your best to hang on, doing whatever it takes to keep going. You don’t get the option to stop, pause, or even to slow it down to a sustainable pace. Sooner or later your body steps in and says “Sorry dude, not today,” and you end up sick, in rehab, or even dead.

I ended up sleeping from 3 PM Monday to 8 AM Tuesday, and then drove home to Seattle. I’m still down for the count, and taking it easy.