The Segway human transport device's most ballyhooed feature
is something which a human being accomplishes naturally,
and that is a sense of balance. The Segway does it through
mechanical gyroscopes. I'm not sure how the human body
does it, but I suspect we have programmed chemical triggers
that ensure that we don't starve, or sleep too little, or stress
too much. Our bodies come with some programmed settings
that it considers normal and healthy, and for the most part
our bodies uses all its powers to keep us within shooting
range of those settings.
But something that most endurance athletes know is that
to become truly good at something, you have to force yourself
outside those acceptable ranges, those comfort zones, for
long periods of time, until your body and mind recalibrate
and accept the new settings as normal.
Another things that's true is that it's also very difficult to
be very good at a lot of things. Geniuses tend to skew
off the charts on some dimensions of life while being
extremely deficient on others. Sometimes they choose
those areas of deficiency, and other times they seem to
have no choice. I admire the movie Pollock more
than A Beautiful Mind (though both movies failed, I thought,
to provide a deep insight into their main characters)
because the former admitted that Pollock was both
a great genius and a sometimes difficult husband,
while the latter steered clear of many of John Nash's
Generally, when I look back on my 2001, I see lots of
balance. I managed, for the most part, to steer clear of
any extreme, obsessive behavior. But maybe everything was
a bit too comfortable. Someday, looking back, I may not
remember anything from 2001. On the one hand, I cut
out lots of the silly extremes that one tends to embrace
in ones youth. On the other hand, the idea of being a
normal middle-aged adult bores me silly.
So in 2002, my one resolution is to embrace healthy
obsessive behavior. It could very well come from work.
My project list for the year is long, and in some ways
ludicrous. But in a good way.
Should be easier
I upgraded to the new RealNetworks RealOne player, and it
crashes over and over when I try and edit some of the information
about music tracks on my computer using the RealOne player
interface. I have no idea why. Maybe the upgrade wasn't
quality tested properly. Perhaps I've passed the acceptable
volume of MP3s on my hard drive that RealOne can handle
At first I thought this was one of those classic fables about
how market share is won and lost just so easily. Computer users
are lazy and just want something that works. Maybe this would be
one more competitor which would finally succumb to Microsoft's
endless patience and perseverance. So I switched over to using
the Windows Media Player to play my MP3s.
Nope. For some reason it skips every few seconds when I'm
You'd think it would be easy to write software to play MP3s. All
I need is the ability to list all my MP3s, sort them and edit their
titles, and play them. All that other stuff, like skins and
visualizations, is just unnecessary gravy.
So you have these two behemoths, Microsoft and RealNetworks,
both on something like their 8th or 9th versions of their digital
music apps, and the most reliable and useful program I've found
thus far? Nullsoft's Winamp.
Fine, don't take my word for it
It's funny when some celebrity makes a very unremarkable
observation and gets quoted just because they're a celebrity:
Cruise's Advice For Snowboarders
Tom Cruise urges wannabe snowboarders to commit to three full days on
the slopes before deciding whether or not to take up the winter sport.
Cruise, himself a keen boarder, says too many people expect to get used
to the dangerous sport immediately - and get put off when they crash too
many times. He says, "I've got some friends that are surfers and they
say snowboarding is easier but you have to commit to three days. I've
had some crashes but I wear a helmet. You've got to. I've been skiing
for 20 years and I got a little bored with it."
Yeah, what he said. I took Michelle and some of her HBS classmates
up to Whistler this weekend. There's a moment, when you're cruising
down the mountain on your snowboard, the whole world spread
before you like infinite possibility, all of which you can see but choose
to leave alone, and Manu Chao is piping Me Gustas Tu into
your ear through your iPod, when you understand why it is that
people have vacation homes. The geographical separation of the
skihaus in Whistler allows me to leave behind work and all the
other worries which have spatially become associated with the
city of Seattle through simple daily reinforcement and proximity.