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System administration can be a very stressful position. When systems go down, and CEOs and other executives start leaning over your shoulder, or a system fails and you suddenly (and temporarily) become one of the most sought-after people in the company – the stress is immense and undeniable.

Even if you release your stress by doing what I do – administering your systems instead of someone else’s – it is even better to give up the computer, give up the Internet, and find something radically different to do – something which requires a different set of skills and thought processes.

In my case, when I do this, one thing I might do is to pick up a camera. Currently I am using a Pentax PZ10 (film) but I hope to augment it with a Pentax digital SLR sometime in the future. (Yes, I know Canon is great – and so is Nikon – but they won’t fit my Pentax lenses…)

Another thing I do is attend my favorite conferences. The biggest conference I like to attend is happening this week (aviators already know which one!) – Airventure. To us in the neighborhood of this world-wide gathering of aviators, we just call it “Oshkosh” (Airventure is located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin) or “EAA” (the Experimental Aircraft Association, or EAA, are the sponsors and conference operators).

Events and hobbies like these force you to use other skills, and other thought patterns – relieving stress and perhaps even lengthening your life. Stress is a killer, and learning new things is thought to lead to a longer life as well.