Back...and forward It's been a

Back...and forward

It's been a while, huh? It's been a busy couple of weeks
in my world. But you know, I'm way behind in my novel
writing and it's highly doubtful I'll make it to 50,000 words,
so while I'm not giving up, I'm going to restore some much
needed balance to my life.
I've racked up some serious miles in the air recently. Just
back from Thanksgiving weekend in Boston where I got to
check out baby sister Karen's newfound life after graduation.
She seems set up pretty nicely. Cool roommates in an
old house in Brighton. A solid job programming for Raytheon.
A fancy new Jetta to get around. A brand-new YMCA gym
just down the street. A good sushi restaurant nearby. She's
probably the one member of our family you could drop down
just about anywhere and socially she'd be well-connected
in no time. I don't know Boston well, but I feel like I know
it much much better after just a few short days there.
I've been reading A Beautiful Mind and I highly suspect
that the movie starring Russell Crowe will shy away from
many of the facts of his life. Note in the trailer the text
that notes that the film is "inspired by the life of John Forbes
Nash". John Nash had several homosexual relationships,
fathered a child with a mistress who he abandoned, in a
way. All that stuff about code-breaking will probably be
fictional as well.
I'm as big a believer as anyone in the idea that movies
should not strive to imitate books to the T. They're two
different mediums. Why should painters strive for photo
realism if photographs do the job better? Important painters
felt the same way and turned to things they could do which
cameras could not, e.g. cubism. Why do people find it to be
a good thing that the Harry Potter film stays
true to the book? But in the case of A Beautiful Mind, I find
it disturbing that they'll be distorting the facts of his life
so blatantly to avoid some of the perhaps more unsavory
aspects of his life. Geniuses are often messy to portray,
difficult to live with. To make Nash out to be some sort of
saint--why not just give the character a different name, then?
It's the one problem I had with Good Will Hunting, which
is a favorite of so many. I enjoyed the film as well, but come
on, Matt Damon's character is never really challenged. The
plot gives him some paper demons to battle and triumph
over. Of course it's not his fault he was abused by his
dad. Otherwise, he's a genius. The film would have been so
much better if they gave him some real character flaws,
some real problems to overcome.
A side thought which scared me: the peak of most math
geniuses mental powers is age 30. I think it's probably
likely the same for mental powers of many sorts. Yikes!
I have two years and change to harness the peak powers
of my brain! What should I be doing to maximize that time?
I firmly believe that the next cell phone or PDA I buy that will
be worth owning will be a combination of the two. Namely, a
PDA that I can speak into like a cell phone, like the first
generation Handspring devices with the optional snap-on
cell phone attachment, except integrated. Then, hopefully,
I'll have one wireless device that syncs seamlessly with
my Outlook address book. Looks like a few candidates
are emerging. The Samsung SPH-1300 looks very promising.
Handspring is coming out with the Treo next year, which is
different in that it has a Blackberry like keyboard. If you're
thinking about getting a new cell phone or PDA, I think you
should wait for one of these suckers. True, it won't be as
small as one of those midget phones popular with the
techno-elite today, but if done properly, this next generation
device will fulfill the promise of true tech convergence in a
way that the electronics industry hasn't been able to deliver
in years.
Another cool gizmo: remember in Johnny Mnemonic
or other futuristic sci-fi hacker movies how people could
type on imaginary keyboards in the air and have their
keystrokes recognized by computers in their brains? Meet
the Senseboard Virtual Keyboard. Imagine the
strange looks you'd get from people sitting next to you on the
plane as you type in the air while wearing a pair of electronics
LCD goggles attached to a wearable computer.
I remember I had to take one Science, Technology, and Society (STS)
class in college. That stuff seems a lot more relevant now than
it seemed then, what with cloning, bioligical warfare, etc. in
the news all the time. It sure seems like society could use a
great thinker in this arena. It seems like we're all spinning our
wheels on the issues, but not furthering the debate.
Cool fact...
In most industrialized and highly educated societies, fertility has
fallen to, or below, the replacement rate of two children per
childbearing female lifetime. It is a strong indicator that
the world's population will stabilize with increased education
and development. That's a good sign. Still, it doesn't detract
from adoption, which is a new thing with me. People are all
so worried about biological clocks, but don't forget about
adoption. Give a kid a home and fight world overpopulation.
Someday, instead of driving gasoline guzzling cars, we'll drive
hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles of all sorts. It will be a bit
sad to give up our right to high-powered sports cars, but I've
been in this "save the world" mood ever since Sept. 11. Thus
the adoption/clean air kick.
I read this about the U.S.--its population is 1/4 devout, 1/4
secular, and 1/4 mildly interested. In the wake of Sept. 11,
churches everywhere saw a spike in attendance, but now they're
back to normal.
Why use the revolving door? To keep hot or cold air from escaping
the building. Of course! Duh.
Philip Morris is going to change its name to Altria Group Inc.,
supposedly to distance themselves from their cigarette business.
But they'll still be selling cigarettes as hard as before. Just their
name is changing. Hmmm. I'd like to see them adopt Malcolm
Gladwell's suggestion and reduce the nicotine content in their
cigarettes, to make it harder for people to become chemically
I'm feeling fairly energized. I was a bit overwhelmed there for a
bit, with lots of crazy things going on at work--a new position,
my manager of three years leaving in February, things that would
rank high on the stressor list within the workplace. In general,
I think I was feeling, mmm, small. The time away has helped.
I'm ready to kick hard this last stretch of 2002. It turns out I'll
be kept back in Seattle instead of going off to the distribution
centers this year. I have some mixed emotions about it, as
I think it's a big part of being at Amazon to go away and help
during the holiday season. It's just the right thing to do. But
I think I can make some huge progress cranking back here
in Seattle, too.
I'm ready for a year of purposeful living.