If you want to un-plug and take a short vacation from work assignments, AND, keep the brain stimulated, try taking some flight lessons.
Even if you don’t think you will ever get a pilot’s license, taking a few lessons will find a new way to spark an outside interest.
When some colleagues returned from a short week with the family at the beach, and said they did not get enough relaxing time while on vacation, I suggested this for the next “short” vacation. The lesson lasts an hour, and follow-up research lasts months.
Why not, this is what a colleague did for me, and now I find a way to spend an hour every month.
Don't forget, we can justify any hobby...
On past family trips, we have done the Kennedy Space Center thing and the Greenfield Village/Henry Ford Museum thing (it's Greenfield, not Deerfield Village Brian, tsk tsk...).
At the time you posted this story, I was on a very non-engineering vacation, just my wife and I, in an island paradise. But as we were hiking through the very wet, rain-forest side of the island, I started noticing and commenting to my wife about the very low-tech and very effective way in which irrigation ditches were used to distribute water to the drier parts of the island.
I got one of those looks that seemed to say "can't you ever just turn off the engineering part of your brain?" I guess not...
While on a business trip to Milan, I got a day's vacation because the appointments on that day got cancelled. Luckily I was booked to stay at a lakeside hotel on the outskirts of Milan , in a small sleepy town called Belgirate.
That whole day I spent on a bench at the lakeside at the base of ALPS, the sun was soothing and I had a John Grisham's novel to read.
That one day looked like a long leisure vacation to me and by the time it was time to take a taxi for the airport, I was fully rejuvenated to take on the busy work schedule back in the office
I believe every travelling business person should keep a day off during his/her business tours to enjoy such leisure
For a fun change of pace, I did go camping over this Labor Day weekend. The fun part started when a fellow camper found that the drain system on her mini-motorhome had been knocked off en-route to the camping. She did get a quote for repair from a local outfit: 3 days to fix it and they had no idea what the cost would be. I thought that the task would be interesting and volunteered to do it. She purchased the materials that were obviously missing and the job took me about 3 hours, and her cost was about $37. She was quite happy, and I got to work with some materials that I had not used before, so I learned a bit. What a great get-away.
Maker Fair in the Bay area followed by a trip to the Computer Museum in San Jose. I've been going to the Embedded Systems Conference at the convention cent just down the street from the museum for a number of years but have never managed to find time when I was off duty and the museum was open.
Replay available now: A handful of emerging network technologies are competing to be the preferred wide-area connection for the Internet of Things. All claim lower costs and power use than cellular but none have wide deployment yet. Listen in as proponents of leading contenders make their case to be the metro or national IoT network of the future. Rick Merritt, EE Times Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, moderators this discussion. Join in and ask his guests questions.