03 August 2009

Life in the Fast Lane

Cobblestone cat with beer
Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kickin' down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy.

  -- Simon and Garfunkel

I picked up my wife at the airport late Wednesday night as she returned from a trade association conference related to her job. As we drove home, she talked about the unusual that happened there. It seems 'New Media' and 'Social Networking' tools have popped up on their radar, but her peers are wrestling to understand the motivations, and how to participate. It seems she astonished them, describing the FOSS stories and tools used that I 'bring home' as I recount the day at the dinner table: websites, wiki, mailing lists public and private, user group meetings, IRC, blogging, Twitter, VOIP, and so forth. They were 'wowed' that an old guy like me had used Twitter and a quick Google tour into the Wikipedia, to answer a son's question raised by an Admiral in a meeting at his job consulting for the federal government in metro DC a while back in seconds of a question coming up

I suppose I take the pervasive availability of such tools, which largely are implemented through a foundation on the fruit of the 'Software Libre' movement for granted, and live a comfortable existence in this virtual reality. Although my hair has been gray for a couple of decades, it is not the me of my self-image, where I still feel 25 and full of vigor. That I whistle, and know the words of pop tunes from 40 years ago and play word games on the tunes at the coffee shop with the barrista does not jar me, although if I get a young one, they clearly have no idea what I am riffing on

That to one side, I still revel in the wonder of the tangible world; a world of taking the family to the State Fair, or working with my hands, wood, and tools repairing a grandchild's wagon. I wrote the first draft of this piece -- a blog post -- with pen and paper with no plan on my mind beyond reconnecting with myself after a hard week, not just the CentOS matters, but in my local physical world as well; I should perhaps rather say, this piece wrote itself, flowing out of my hand's motions, creating, and editing on the paper before me, with strike-through's, insertions, and circled blocks of test indicating movement of thoughts into a flow

rat race with ice cream
I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep.
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morningtime drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you, all is groovy!

Thinking back as to how I write, I sorely miss the older times of a ready steno-typist, secretary trained in shorthand, and later a ready 'Dictaphone', and the 'gal Friday' legal secretary who helped organize my worklife for many years. I did the creative work, and she straw-bossed the rest behind the scene, as I turned to face the next 'fire'. Each hard work in its own right, and a great and productive partnership. She's dead of lung cancer now -- was a smoker. Ah well

The economics of such luxuries are prohibitive to most in an era where a person who cannot touch-type is perhaps now considered not yet fully literate. Welcome to the next lap of the rat race in this brave new world

When the positions of transcriptionist, book-keeper, and sales clerk, along with the others mentioned above disappeared, and 'progress' came to the smaller enterprise, they were replaced by the small individual computer, word-processing, Quick Books, etc. Oh, and a subtle transfer to self-service responsibility to do all the work with less facility for delegation. Layers of support costs disappeared, as did the middle management, as entities had to flatten the organizational chart, or be outraced by their competitor

Of course, the workload did not go away, any more than a completely 'paperless office' has emerged, The load shifted up to what were formerly more 'knowledge work' folks -- supervisors, or in a small enough firm, the entrepreneur owner, or just was no longer done ... sometimes the customer is 'drafted' to scan bar-codes and pay a cold machine, and no human hand on the part of the vendor can be found. Just try to find a phone number for eBay or Amazon live support some time

commo antennas

We as a culture have weakened and removed spare resource capacity needed to build and nurture long term repeat customers, in favor of cost efficient transactionalism. Gresham's Law, all over again

Ba da da da da da da ba bap a dee...

During the week I too must prioritize, and work away at the hottest items in Covey's Quadrant One, as my schedule dictates them to me, Less important dreams and promises, desires and goals are left for an open dated 'later.' In my heart of hearts, however, I know that later will never come. Those 'heart's desire' are left behind on the horizon of each new day, for dead

I can offer no remedy, save a caution that when building that schedule, to not mistake a capability to act immediately, with a mandate to do soRushing into the future

Where does the answer lie?
Living from day to day
If it's something we can't buy
There must be another way

We are spirits in the material world

  -- The Police, Sting

06 Aug 2009: edited for a typo/grammar fix, layout error