Hear I Go Google!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

‘Consumer’ Holidays: Peanuts, Tears, and Silent Nights

Chapter 10 of My Life and Times at Purdue University

No easy way to start off this installment of the My Times, as it is the worst time of the year for those not blessed with large families, or caring ones, to be of truth. The only family member I was ever glad to see was my mom. As you know, she’s gone. Only been a few months. And it seems like so long ago we were discussing another failed Chicago Cubs move, or what car to fix when we had the money, or how we’d hope this holiday would be either more peaceful or more plentiful. Rarely did the last happen.

I won’t discuss here all the feelings I have for other relatives. Not helpful, nor respectful to my mom. Suffice to say the bridge is burnt and the water is an ocean of discontent and dysfunction.
While I miss her, there are 'these things' we generally tie to these holidays.

The bang up way we void ourselves of personal happiness through a shopping spree we’ll regret next January through October. The coming changes in weather as we finally move to sweats, Häagen-Dazs on the sofa, and a boob tube flickering (hi-def style now) to the latest soppy story of holiday spirit rekindled by some 40-something (that was A-list, now C-list) actress making goo-goo at some country singer wannabe Brawny towel guy that puts a sparkle in miss A-to-C’s Spanxs. Oh, it is so romantic that the backwash taste of Pepsi likely does me less harm.  Macy’s will roll out a cavalcade of C-listers just because who else, with any major industry pull, is diving for the chump change that is: calling out floats and naming off high school marching bands? And who can forget that Victoria will show us The Secret?

Stay tuned.

Yes, that is a preview of the coming weeks. The Peanuts gang will get their walkers out and show us why Chuck is Chuck. The lovable loser that makes Chuck on NBC a numb-chucking success that only NBC could love. (Give their nose dive from the Nielsen…) Will Snoopy re-inflate the ratings of Pan Am enough to defeat all those CSI shows destined to pay a nod to the holidays with some flight beyond the criminal? Or maybe will get an Obama Xmas special? At least half of America will be tuning that out on principle, if a Gallup poll tracks right. These are a few of my least favorite things: holiday specials, TV shows departing, and the meandering melodrama of my administration while millions make due with less.

Staying tuned in even less.

I haven’t watched a regular TV in months. I watch Hulu for free, or rent from Redbox. Netflix is next. In essence, the holidays of old are gone. No Rudolph to watch; or Frosty or Jack Frost.  Nightly news is less relevant to me – though I should stay in touch since Economics is my future game. Just that…since mom passed, the things I could spend time on are so irrelevant. Sports, nope. News, not really, all that – if bleeds it leads stuff, that sickens me.  I like to read – but even, at that, to static. I’ve done that aplenty. The time here is too short to give over the precious little time we do get.

I want a new life – and know it is now all up to me.

The holidays fall close to the beginning of a new chapter here, at Purdue, as the tears flowed today while listening to a cover of One by Warren Haynes. (Up above.) His acoustical guitar and voice brought the thoughts of how one I am now. But…my mom’s spirit seems to be here.  So, two is not a lonely number. And she is thoroughly A-list in my heart.

Silent nights, but hopefully, not lonely nights.

Friday, November 18, 2011

To Failure: A Club I Naturally Fit Into Daily

Chapter 9 of My Life And Times at Purdue University

This guy above auditioned for failure, er, The Failure Club that Morgan Spurlock spent 7 years trying to get on air. (So he turned to Yahoo!, now considered the epic fail of technology companies by those in the biz...but I digressed there.)

The point of this Failure Club is to attempt something that you will most likely fail at in 12 months. It could be trying to make the cut at a minor league baseball club, becoming a stock trader for Goldman Sachs, getting prepared for an Iron Man, or designing an app for Apple with no prior technology experience. The key is: you are not an expert in the area. You've dreamed of being that - or doing such and such - but have no real understanding or talent (you feel) to become that particular position, or in attempt of that feat of prowess outside of your usual humdrum life.

I can relate.

Twenty years ago, at 19, I was a really bad writer. Never obtained better than a C in any English course that was offered, since I was 16. (See: bad writing.) To this day, I have yet to achieve an A in any such course. Well, to my near future: I will be taking an English composition course this January. I will have to get an A (likely) to be admitted to the upper division of my real goal: Economics training with an emphasis on International Business and Political Science. (And completing a minor in Management, possibly Mathematics.)

Meanwhile, back at my batcave of failed projects, I am looking to publish several tomes I have sunk a great deal of time developing into publishable works. And more to the point: I want to be a publisher of eBooks for more than just myself. (Many authors, and hopefully, stuff to be proud I got into the knowledge base of this thing called humanity.)

The idea of failure has saturated my mind for a number of years. The concept of losing out - of doing something for no material gain - has to be one of humanity's more difficult things to accept. (And people typically are quick to remind you of such failures.) As Americans, we don't trumpet too much when one loses. We may console it a bit, but quickly move on..to the victors. Now, we love the underdog story - the fighting to achieve, and finally doing it - which technically is the process of failing. You got to start, figure it will be bad, during the first 100 or 1,000 cracks, to get to any level of completion of said dream.

Taking on a hidden dream - or doing something you are hardly physically able to do at say 35 or 40 years old - is quite scary. Without a support system, most will not even stay with it for more than a month, or two. Giving up is perceived (internally) to be a better end than looking like an ass. That is what we engrained in our brain from age 14-15 onwards. Social pressure. Conformity. Accepting limits.

Breaking Rules: A Path From Failure to Success
A few break that rule. To reach for a dream they think (or were told) cannot be theirs. To somehow overcome the naysayers, the "why don't you do something else" or " you got a family to support" crowd. Self-improvement books (by various authors) project most will give up before failing even the first time. That is the first barrier these rule breakers must reach in order to get their goals off the ground.

When these people get to "overnight" success, we say, "I wish I was that talented." (Envy.)

The reality is: you are that talented. Just the idea of failure is too much instilled in your hardwiring.

  • How many of us took up (or were ferried around) to a sport because we were considered good? (Your parents saw you do something good...and made that your skill to perfect, until...age 15. Field of Dreams die in the ivy.)
  • How many got music lessons because of that same process? (The first recital success...until age 18. Symphony and Rock aspirations shattered when you don't get 1st chair or a call back to play.)
  • Even academically, those that got good grades early, or gold stars, fell into the educational conformance trap. (I'll be able to do something profound with insert-your-degree-here later. Until 30, when you know you are not the cleverest carbon-based life form...Nobel committee will not be calling you.)

Once we got the 'final failure' notice, "we won't be doing that anymore," we gave up. (Most likely.) Moved onto more 'normal thinking' - jobs, cars, homes, relationships, kids, college, retirement, taxes, and death - and put aside our childish dreams. For those that pursued something, thereafter - a business idea, a tech dream, a sports talent, or whatever - they got the grief, but also, may have garnered the prize after thousands of hours of practice (and failure) in:

  • Learning to really do it. 
  • Making an internal difference on one's self. 
  • Successful thinking through persistence and spunk. 
  • And most of all, "I will not quit dreaming."

Now, I made a list of things I want to achieve recently.

Or attempt - that is what we need to be doing. Attempt it. Can't hurt.

But really, really attempt. That could hurt. You might even learn something about yourself you did not all ready know.

And that...is... life affirming.

You might know this guy?
He tried 10,000 times to get a silly light bulb to work. From that, we get the pleasure of night baseball, TV watching in the dark, surgeons that can see what they are cutting, and a world that knows his name: Edison, Thomas.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Year on the Brink: On-the-fly decisions towards a Joseph Calling???

Chapter 8 of My Life and Times at Purdue University

I am by no means a completely spiritual person. Quick meaning: I don't usually dwell too much on the esoteric nature of why we are here, what is my purpose, or who is this being we often call God. Not that I have never done so, or not done so recently, but, in general, I leave that to the Alan Greenspan's of spiritual musings and metaphysics. (Greenspan was known as the 'maestro' in the capital markets.)

So why does this matter? 

The recent year was not a usual one for me, or my mom. It really started off around May of 2010. Things went downhill for my mother - she began losing weight, falling down (while climbing steps to deliver the news), and not making decisions I surmised she should have. (Not drastic stuff - but enough - to know something was wrong.) By September 27th, she was admitted for surgery to remove cancerous masses from her abdomen.

Her 115-year house (and her sister's home for 50 years) was up for foreclosure. Not a special home either - and they had 15 cats. The crisis had reached a breaking point. I had tried to consul her sister to make a drastic change - and that my mom was in a serious crisis. (Obvious.) I had hardly anyone else to talk to - or able to talk sense to the aunt that would not listen.

Meanwhile, mom's condition got worse. The cancer spread to her brain. The crisis now determined that I was to decide if my mother got emergency surgery to remove the tumor from near her brain stem. It was not hard to decide that. However, the surgeon basically said he was only buying her a little time. He unfortunately said it was all but over. (He did not say that directly - but it was understood.)

Now, the choice was made on November 17th to operate. My beat up 22-year old car suddenly overheated regularly. (By Thanksgiving, it would be unusable.) I moved out on November 19th because the aunt's irrationality got to the point I called the police on her. The cops did nothing. Not seeming to grasp the gravity of my crisis. (I also had contacted adult protective services. That was the level of my own distress about all issues.)

So, I took control of my life - and by legal extension - my mother's. I made the best of what I had - took a car (my mother's debt) from her sister to keep a job; moved to motels/hotels; made arrangements for my mom that fell through  - her brief stay at a VA home. My mom's condition was irreparable - she was aware she did not 'think' right, but her emotions were all over too. It was hard to keep up with the fluctuations - dementia setting in - but I managed to keep her safe. That's what mattered.

I made plenty of mistakes too. I spent more money than I should have to keep us in a place - but moving around with bad credit (no refs either) made that hard to solve. Mom's radiation treatment was for two weeks; then was supposed to intensify for spot treatment later. (By the time she came out of round 1, she was not functioning well enough to go on to round 2.) Other conditions - diabetes - made things more difficult.

She left us quickly - one month of a truly terrible life. (I can't even imagine how it must have been for her.) I can only state this final fact because it is just true. I think about her daily. Sometimes wishing I had been quicker to act. Again, mistakes were made.

Doors close.

And I took my time to grieve too.

Then, I started a plan to reeducate myself. It was a long shot - no real chance to go back to a university that I did poorly at in Purdue. I applied. I wrote to this story after a 1st rejection. I was tentatively accepted. Then financing was reviewed. I cracked that door open too.

Other choices later were done on-the-fly. I moved out of the hotels. Got a cheap place. Found out my mom's car was not going to stick around. Broke towards school and found another place.

While it was not my goal, or intent, six months or a year ago, I am here.

Later, I stumbled upon a concept called the Joseph Calling. It is very important sounding. Basically, you gotta get kicked around a lot. Humbled. Doubt God. And somehow, find another way to go ahead. The more hardship, the more setbacks, the more likely your purpose is a bit greater than you contemplate.

I am not saying I know this for myself. As this blog over the past six years (or my blogging) has bounced around from sport, to personal victimhood (reliving certain poor choices), to politics, to society, to reviews of whatever, something must driving this.

Is my mom helping to lay this all out? Did she pass when she did so I could do something about my education and the writing I do in other ways? I do not know. People seem to always put a label on things to solve their inadequate explanations.

So I did so too. Better to see yourself as overcoming, designing a better reality than to just equate it to what was meant to happen (and that you got luck from that).

Because I do not feel lucky. I'd want mom to be with me this Thanksgiving and many more. I'd take more paper routes if she was around to talk to about whatever. So, while I am less stressed (to a degree), her presence in my life is a hole I can never fill.

The idea of a great upside from such fall - in this case going back to 2000 - is a spiritual novelty. Not that I can not believe it is operative at all. But...well, that's why spiritual maestros exist. To contemplate so we don't have to...determine what is the reason for such years lived on the brink.

For my mom, her spiritual calling was not blessed with the people that made stalwart friends in the pinch. She was there for others: that was her contribution to the grander scheme.

A song possibly about Guardians: Stay (Faraway and so Close)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keeping up with The Joneses: The Social Media Changes...Daily

I got into a craze this weekend. First, to update a website (dcfpress.com) and get on board with the new widgets and sites related to social media. It took only a few hours - as I updated, uploaded, and connected back to those places, both new and old.

The landscape has changed so much since I first got going on this island of information overload.  When I first got into it, around 2003, my friend at the time was doing a soon-to-be social networking causality: inwyk.com. It was very active for awhile - about 5,000 users, which was big in 2003 - then, poof! it went into the dustbin of history. To the web designer's credit, he put A LOT into his baby then. It was just...too much to do by himself, nearly. (He got some marginal assistance - but never got the platform totally worked out. Had the LinkedIn and Facebook idea going on - just too focused on converting it into cash ASAP. The biz model had changed - social media was different.)

Today, I can do all of what his site wanted to do (2003, remember) with barely a thought. I updated my LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Scribd, Klout, Blogger, and Google+ accounts within a couple of hours. Then played (worked) on all of them. Like Moore's law, things are gettin' awfully fast.

Keeping up with the platforms and the modifying information, and sharing, is not so hard. Its the tour of 5-10 of them with the thought: do I live online, or out in the real world? To be clear, I was on a laptop, ostensibly to edit a book - never happened - instead, I was first doing the website edit, pulling down widgets (new), and looking for new ways to build a social media platform for future usage.

If you knew me, you would know how much different this is for me. I'd rather be playing baseball or basketball, or watching football. Or something else - more social, less techie. The phone thing is overdone - and I don't currently possess a super smart phone, (a bit retarded), I suppose.

Keeping up with all the social media world is at once a snap, but a chore, like doing laundry. If I am going to spread my verbal platform to the four spheres of social media - quick updates, long form posts, uploaded content, and social circles - I better get into the weekly habit. Like setting my fantasy football or baseball team. Just one more thing.

A closer for the week: A tight song I enjoy because it gets my blood pumping, a la the NBA pre-game.

Another electronica song I can boom loud and proud, if I owned a car that did that:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Movie Review: J. Edgar

Men are often not quite as their purposes are laid before them. Their mind is willing; their mission assured; but the entirety runs afoul of many dark and mysterious ailments of the psyche. J.Edgar Hoover is a troubled soul, hardly a "complete soul" as correctly depicted, but as the burgeoning power that came to represent the FBI, he had no equal for nearly 50 years.

The movie focuses firstly on Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio), the up-and-comer climber, which took the bumbling department of the Bureau of Investigation and remade it into his hyper-organized, scientifically-innovative, paranoid self. The growth (and advertising) of the G-men as the people to turn to in those perilous times with the gangsters and commies just a door away resonates. Director Clint Eastwood captures this era well - a focus that is recognized in the details and supporting events that lead one to believe Hoover (then) was doing the job, and gradually, enjoying the governmental perks. Meanwhile, his mother's (Judi Dench) hold on J. Edgar never abated. Issues stayed present. Hoover danced around them to meager effect.

The flash forward technique to show the FBI director growing older, more suspicious, more defiant of all that would question his methods, lacks. To an expert movie goer, you get the point: details were thin and convoluted historically, and yet, an interesting part lay there. By then, Hoover's lack of any real, open, or caring relationships with only his secretary, ("Miss Gandy", Naomi Watts) and his 2nd in charge (Clyde Tolson, Armie Hammer) shown as the balancing forces to Hoover's paranoia, and outright, blackmailing-for-power personality.

J. Edgar does what justice it can to the man. Hoover's trek through the American landscape of 1920 through 1970 - a time of Communism, racial tensions, Civil Rights, gangsters (via Prohibition), sexual evolution, and wars to end it all - ultimately left him caught in a personal time warp. Once a man fulfilling serendipitously his ambitions, often inventive, quick-speaking (by practice), and laborious, became a man severely out-of-touch and scared, but still held the powerful Queen in the back row to pull out to threaten the new king, the new President, as needed. His repeated trick was to lay fear into his opponents - usually not because of his overall ends, the ritually trotted out "security of the country" line - but to him, the-afraid-to-bend-or-evolve, confused boy of half-century prior.

The cast captures enough to watch the film, if only to leave you to really wonder about what all the information this man kept in the files that went to the shredder. Shredding was what this man did to his own life. Refusing to ever to complete himself - and find his own unique, if sinfully true, information inside himself.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Practice What I Preach: Zero Base Thinking (Part II)

Chapter 7 of My Life and Times at Purdue University

In our last installment, I spoke of cutting loose that which does not work. Well “work” I did.

After a very short stint, I canned myself from the Chinese experience. Reason: first, I no longer can tolerate working for another, or in, restaurants; second, the manager lacked the qualities to effectively run the operation. The first is rather obvious – if you know me, I am extremely independent, even, rather a lone wolf at times. And I cannot work for anyone that does not respect my experiences such as they are. The second one is not worth discussing except to say it was not going to be a positive relationship in the long run. (Doing “a job”, like laundry – like my 6 ¾ year daily grind recently – is not what I am after.)

I fell backwards towards a life I tried desperately to escape. That of a work slug – a person solely there to move widgets – and my “talents” are not in that realm. I no longer can do the bottom rung. While I must succeed at Purdue – even while going into huge debt ($45,000 plus) – I won’t be able to do these types of jobs anymore.

Some may say, “you think you are too good for it?” Yes. I can do more with my brain that chop broccoli, stir and fry up assorted meat and veggies, which I don’t do well at all because I never found it a pleasure to do it in all my experiences in my prior jobs. I know my skill sets do not include: cooking, fixing cars, chopping down trees, plumbing, carpentry work, or electrical installation. (That’s reality.)

I can do some marvelous things when I think to do them. Organize, plan, schedule, financial analysis, design via Autocad, and write. (I hope.) But alas, when I got back here to campus, I surmised too quickly: “I better get a job, any job, quickly.” So, instead of choosing a reasoned position, or doing something I like to do, or can build into my set of skills (a new writing gig), I took the first thing that came to my doorstep. Bad pattern of behavior instilled from years of practice, and being broke most times.

These engrained habits – like alcoholic drinking – are tough to break. Damn tough. Some go back as far as childhood when I was expected to work at 12 or 13 years old to assist with bills. Foregoing anything I wanted or desired – like then, improving my baseball skills or interpersonal relations with “girls” – to assist in putting food on the table. So the refrain went, “go mow lawns, deliver newspapers, wash dishes, shovel snow (or shit) for money…” While some work in youth is positive and life-affirming, when you are told to quit things you enjoy, or that it rarely matters what your needs are, it sets one up for a lifetime of failed working experiences. (And my mom was not the complainer; other relatives were.)

Getting back to this zero base thinking example, I knew when I went on break (on the sixth day) I was done. I said to myself, “you can’t work for anyone.” I love my freedom to create a project, design on paper, or explore (via notes and writing) a story, or world, or a biographical piece too much to give it over now to more of the same drudgery I tried so hard to escape.

I can understand too that even under zero-base thinking you must have resources to fall back on before you jump ship. Luckily, I do at this point. (More so than any other moment in my adult life.)

More to the point: I must complete the book I worked 6 plus years to put together. Goal numero uno. Then, do what my appeal for college reentry said: get awesome grades, build a publishing company, and go on to make the resources (money, relationships, connections) that I failed in the first 39 years of life to do adequately.

Practicing what you preach is not easy, especially, if on the heels of newfound freedom to choose.

Zero Base Thinking: Are You Getting Out What You Put In?

Chapter 6 of My Life and Times at Purdue University

Knowing what you know now, would you get into the same business/situation that you currently are in today? The answer to this question – for example, a marriage that isn’t working at all – should lead you to decide to start over from scratch. Dump the partner that is not.

Such a tact brought me back to Purdue. Today, I got word I will get the financing for this dream. I started work yesterday at a Chinese restaurant in the Purdue Union. Back to zero – or eighteen years old – and the dreams one has about the career and plans to set the world ablaze with one’s ideas, magnetic charm, and that piece of parchment that says you know something, but really don’t.

(Ok, professors, you may know how to read, research, take tests, write thesis papers, even create some marvelous tools, that last piece I can respect, but the greater breath of ideas and innovations were not invented by Ph.Ds. at some university. No, the people that made it, generally (and accidently) stumbled into their calling, their gifting. They spent years and years in obscurity working on their better mouse (or trap) – usually devoid of relationships or great understanding – to make their legacy.)

So what gives with the zeroing out of my life, if don’t believe college professors are doing the best work? The answer is that a do-over was what I needed. A time to get straight the ideas, the path, I want to take from here on out. (A sabbatical of sorts – only with college as the destination, not the departure.)

My greatest personal asset is that I know how I fucked up. Second, I don’t have kids, a wife (or ex), or any nagging desire to obtain those familiar mid-life accoutrements. Third, I have a place to live, a job again, a desire for knowledge, and a thirst for accomplishment, which will replace that which I did not do in the last twenty years. And finally, I can get it all for the government-low cost of a student loan that may take years to pay off, but I am not in any rush, certainly not any more than Uncle Sam is to reduce his debt, our debt, together. In essence, Uncle Sam is going to finance my life’s ambition– more education, a publishing dream closer to reality by the day – and I get to be who I need and want to be.

Wiping the slate clean is not for everyone. It could be for everyone. But that requires that you give up on some relationship, some job, some aspect you probably see as much as an internal failing of yourself as you do anything the other party or corporation is doing. Don’t. It is not up to you to make this work. It is up to you to make your life work. And to be the best you can be, given whatever skills and ambitions you can muster out.


But what?

I said that too. And did that for years and years. Then, one day, last fall, I got sick of it. It was a Friday, the day after my mom got her head cut open in the hopes the cancer inside would not come back. That night, and that early morning, as I drove a paper route, thought of what just happened, and the other family member in my mom’s life seemingly depraved indifference toward her, and frankly, towards me, I said, “fuck this noise.”

And since then, well, I’ve written about it quite a bit, just not all completely in one piece.

One Life, One Love

One life. One freaking life. No Ms. Pacman new life at 10,000 or 50,000 points. No new guys hidden in some dungeon or after you save the well-endowed princess. Or a charge up when you are dying from the barrage of bullets coming down on your fictional position. Nope, just one life. I am somewhere between 35 and 50% of it gone, unless medical technology gives me a longer expiration date. But, even at that…you get the picture.

Zero-base thinking is about cutting losses, ignoring the sunk costs. Lost time you will spend unhappy with people, or businesses, or activities that, in essence, are a waste. While this labeled idea was not swirling around when my mom was going through her crisis, I suspect it was unconsciously there because, in summer of 2010, I broke free from years of sameness. Suddenly, I did things for myself: seeing to finances, writing habits, and life-building through self-improvement titles more and more. (My mom was never the problem. Her sister was.)

Doing what you love –for yourself – is a way to help those you love personally the most. The ‘one love’ scenario requires that you stick to what works for you, when you find define it clearly. But most of us stick to what works not well at all, or even hate it so much we dread it daily, for way, way too long.

Even at this moment, I do not expect to be ‘doing Chinese’ for more than six months. Hopefully, after I settled into a comfortable state of finances, school, and professional aspirations (writing and publishing), I will bid sayonara (ok, that’s Japanese) from the world of restaurants forever.

Knowing your means from your ends is another lesson of zero-base thinking. Is your goal to build a great business or keeping a personal friendship that does not work within your business? Or is the problem someone else – outside forces you will never control (a third party) – that causes the tension for your partnership, your business? Answer those, and you’ll know what matters, and where the zero really is.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Futurism: Avoid Becoming Egregiously Electronically Eggheadish or Face Catastrophic Loss of Control

Chapter 5 of Back to My Future: My Life and Times at Purdue University

Two four six eight time to differentiate. D to the x, dx/dy d to the y/dy. Three point one four one five nine. Cosine, tangent, inverse sine add an asymptotic line that’s the egghead battle cry. (Modified Northwestern chant from the 1980s.)

Yes, the number crunchers of the world – the software/app creators who simulate, model, and devilishly devise cool-until-they’re-not financial derivatives, along with the World of Warcraft – do rule the world. We now love them – “hey, I can socialize with this cool plastic holding LED box in my palm” – whereas, just thirty years prior, we made John Hughes-like films that poked fun, then hugged them for being, “our strange, little, geeky friend.”

Coming back to a campus loaded with technocratic guys and gals-in-training (given my old major as an engineer), to be a liberal artsy fartsy is a lesson in humility. (Another lesson – yep, get those too much.) The cool people used to be easily defined via the American ideal sold Eskimo-style via modern mass media: the leggy blonde that just needs a rubber band for the hair, and she’s good; the V-shaped guy with abs of steel created with iron, calisthenics, and huge scoops of Creatine. I get that. Or, I got that, as is the case.

Nerds, now, not so much.

Now, in my mid-life, all these Java-scripting, data mining, Flash-and-beyond gurus are awfully full of themselves. The world works to their skills, and suddenly, I’m redundant in actions and conversations. (An Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) would put things back to a more manageable level…like 1600.) There is this tendency to come at you (the nerds’ approach to friendship): hey, do you know this programming language or how to hack (or reengineer) this application? You don’t, well you are not worthy of my nanoseconds. Because I don’t build apps or do apps, or buy every type of hand-held, my- world-is-complete tool, I must be uncool, oddly ancient, and seen as an artifact of a bygone time.


Just when I finally get to the point of an odd, trial-by-fire assuredness in self, I am now considered solely a sinusoidal function of my technological knowledge and consumerism acquisition – which, if you knew my life recently – one would understand mere survival was a 1,000 terabytes more important that iPoding, iPhoning, and iPading my way back to the lower-middle rung of the American social ladder. Such is the globalized nature of these ones and zeroes – they control every transaction, interaction, transportation, and social act humanity seems to engage in daily.

And here I come back to university for history, political science, economics, and management (yes, some tech stuff in there) and I’ll-be-damned if the world has not gone and got itself into a harried and frenetic rush to be more Neo, Johnny Mnemonic, Keanu Reeves-like. Not exactly the category I’d take for 1,000, Alex. The majority may deem this the primrose path; I deem it the course to devolving into very wooden, two-dimensional, on/off, as-the-circuit-board- decides-based-on-the-program people. You are not ‘the one’, people.

Tell me: what happens when this machine awakens? Or if not that, what if electricity/electronics goes awry? How about making all that power for 9 or 12 billion inhabitants, or more? Do you like being able to do things for yourself – consider it a right – then look out, that will be changing in the apps-for-all-tasks future. Facebook and Google are stepping stones. Likely as not, we are two to two-to-the-nth power generations away from an Alpha-to-Epsilon Brave New World. I do not know when, but 2540 is not as far from now as it seems. (Just as Huxley wrote in 1932…about a future that is closer to today than it was in his generation. Exponential growth of the ghost in the machine, I deduce.)

By now, my poking-fun-at-nerds to digressing-satirical-rant may seem at odds in the halls of ‘higher learning’, but it reflects the purposes we are fueling are not as wondrous as those that make them daily come together think. They are flawed. Nerds take note. While all the cool stuff does amused, it is the financial models, the personality testing/modifications, the medicines that contort behaviors from age six, the genetically-modified food, the technology-dependent structure of society that will shudder one day to a halt, as we have invested too much faith in the machines, the codes, the flickering of tubes, the diodes, and the 10,000-page equation someone (or a team of brilliance) worked really hard on, but forgot the necessary backdoor, thus the butterfly cum epic tsunami.

It won’t happen in my lifetime, I regret to inform.

But nothing happens quite in the time frame one projects.

Avoid becoming too tied to these new systems. Somehow, the Earth got along pretty well for 99.999999999% of its existence without a diode, transistor, or machine code to tap into for instructions. The instructions we petty humans were given (and not followed) worked well when man played with poo, worshiped all manners of beast and bright star, to a conclusion that was never deterministic. Not even realistic – given their faith-based technology.

What I am saying is: I wish for my good ol’ simplistic days, too.

Just that line does not suit the technocrats, computer scientists, and doctors of electrical mayhem very well.

They always need more data…