I arrived in Sydney this morning. Not only is this my first time in Australia, it’s my first time in a place where cars drive on the left side of the road. I took a cab from the airport, so I didn’t have to deal with it from behind the wheel, but it still seemed very odd visually. Still, it was pretty much what I had anticipated.
What I didn’t anticipate, though, was how different it would be as a pedestrian. When crossing the street, I reflexively turned to the left to look for oncoming traffic, and seeing none, began to cross… until I heard something coming from my right! The reversed traffic flow meant that I had to re-learn how to cross a street!
There is another, much more subtle effect of this that I noticed as a pedestrian: when walking along the sidewalk, I naturally keep to the right, but here more often than not, people keep to the left while walking, too. I suppose that makes sense, given the convention for automobiles, but it was surprising nonetheless. It’s striking how such small differences can change your routine so dramatically by making you focus on things you would normally take for granted.
Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is both ground-breaking and trivial at the same time. It’s a huge change from a legal perspective, but more of a “duh!” moment in human progress.
We look back 40 years or so, and see the landmark cases that struck down laws against interracial marriage, and have a hard time imagining living in a world where you can’t marry the person you love because of their skin color. From our perspective, those decisions were trivial: of course you should be able to marry someone regardless of their skin color or eye shape. That’s just silly to think otherwise.
It is my sincere hope that 40 years from now, people will look back on this decision and have a similar “duh!” reaction to it.
In a couple of days I’ll be heading out to Australia for a couple of weeks. My proposal for a talk at PyCon Australia had been accepted, and coincidentally Rackspace just launched our cloud in our Sydney datacenter. So I’ll be flying to Sydney to meet all the Rackers in the Sydney office, and then flying the following week to Hobart, Tasmania for the conference.
Except for a trip to Italy on my honeymoon 27 years ago, I have never left the Americas. I have never been south of the Equator. This is going to be a brand-new experience for me, so I’m using it as my motivation to start writing again. I had deliberately avoided blogging for years because I tend to obsess on editing: just one more tweak to that phrasing, or maybe choose a synonym here, or… well, you get the idea. A great example of perfect being the enemy of the good. I’m resolving to change that by instituting a one edit rule: after the post is written, I’ll go over it once, and then publish it. I’m curious to see how difficult that will be to follow!