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Musings on the future of work (or, why you should be excited–not concerned–that I’m currently nocturnal)

Individuals (and small teams) have always been the ones acting, but now they’re more movable (you could imagine the Google phone team basically “stealing” the Apple phone team by wooing them over. This seems unlikely 20-100 years ago). The game for corporations, therefore, becomes more along the lines of “make an environment that’s attractive to the right sort of individuals/teams”. Now, this is probably obvious for anyone who asks the question “why does every startup have pingpong tables and free lunch?” but let’s take it a step further:

The top performers have always been eccentrics. Weirdos. I live in a van and drive around the country. (Not that I’m necessarily a top performer, but I’m certainly working with more successful people than most people who have the job title “writer”.) These are people who will form their own unique strategy for working (I’ve been nocturnal for the last week because it seems to help my novel writing).

This is mainly interesting to me because it creates opportunities for people to create highly-specialized products/services that assist very specific (i.e. unusual) people with very specific needs.

If an individual is such a great, high, top performer, they often have an assistant. I bet the assistants for top performers in many fields have similar jobs, though, and there wasn’t previously enough value created by these oddballs to warrant tools to help them.

Now, we’re recognizing that (a) no number of Walmart greeters could equate to one Sam Walton (just as no number of gazelles would ever hunt a lion [it’s a bad analogy but you get the point]), and (b) we can see how much value Sam Walton created (he built Walmart!) as compared to your average joe, so we’re able to create tools that will help, say, the 10 Sam Waltons in the world be 1% better, which is huge value but would previously be uncapturable. (Or, more accurately, provide tools to make the 1000 people in the world who are 2 orders of magnitude lower than Sam Walton be 5% more effective.)

I guess, what I’m saying is: could someone please make me a business-casual onesie that I could wear in public?

I put the punctuation outside the quotes.

I put the punctuation outside the quotes. I also hyphenate adverbial constructions ending in -ly. I know these are “wrong”. I understand they’re conventions. The conventions are stupid.

A sentence ends with a mark of punctuation. A quotation may include a mark of punctuation in the quote: 

  • David said, “Where are we going?”
  • Did David say, “Where are we going?” 
  • Did David say, “We are going north?” 

Oh shit. You see the problem? It’s that third sentence. The one where your English teacher would demand the question mark go inside the quotes, but putting it inside the quotes is misleading. 

An English sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark. This system works. It doesn’t need to change when it’s in a fucking quote. 

I’d punctuate that last, dastardly question like this: 

  • “Did David say, “We are going north.”? 

Why? Because David spoke a fucking sentence.

Let’s reverse it. What if the sentence is a statement and the quotation’s a question? 

  • David asked, “Where are we going?”. 

See what I did there? I tossed a period into the sentence, after the quotation marks. Why? Because “David asked, __________” is a sentence. It should end with a punctuation mark. Omitting the punctuation makes us assume it’s a question… and David’s quoted query doesn’t make my statement an inquisition. 

Some will be uncomfortable with these ideas. “But my English teacher taught me…” Well, tough titties. Language lives. We grow and improve it. Did you know the word “okay” comes from a mid-1800s comedic misspelling of “all correct” as “oll korrect”? Is it stupid that old-timey people misspelled words for humorous effect? Yep. But aren’t you glad we now have that damn valuable word? Language is for communication. If it works, use it. 

Maybe punctuating outside the quotes “looks ugly” or “feels weird”… but think of our children! They’ll live in a much clearer grammatical world. They’ll inherit a world where the sentence is the sentence and the quote is the quote, where you can tell whether the person said a full sentence or not by checking the quote itself. 

  • Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon…”.

Without the ellipses in the quote, you’d assume that as his whole sentence. With the ellipses, you know he continued. 

  • He finished the speech, “… in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”. 

Grammar should make writing clearer, not hold onto outdated structures. 

Join the resistance. Punctuate proper.

My Current Favorite Word

My current favorite word is “pejorative”, generally for indicating what I’m not doing. I frequently need to separate a word’s denotations from its connotations. Take the word “manipulate”. Denotatively, it means “to create change by influencing something… in a negative way”. That latter connotation is not inherent to the act of manipulating itself. One could manipulate the world in a strictly positive way, by using ethical means for a purely desirable end. To communicate that, I would say something like, “he manipulates the world around him, but I don’t mean ‘manipulate’ in a pejorative sense” to isolate the facts from the opinions. (Why use “manipulate” at all? It’s the most denotatively-precise word; more direct than “influence” or hands-on than “alter”.) Pejoratives are judging, and I appreciate the ability to remove that opinion.

Traveloog Friday 191101 (Redacted Version)

Start: [Redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

End: [Redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Exciting Events: 

  • [Redacted] gave me $2 as backpay for [redacted] favors. Hilarious. 
  • Made [redacted] by snapping my fingers. 
  • Dinner with [redacted], wherein we discussed books and ideas and art. I like her. 
  • Cuddled with [redacted] for a long while. Watched her cook dinner, too. Both very intimate. 
  • Lots of [redacted]! Great. YAY! 

Real Realizations: 

  • [Redacted] is not withholding. She does the thing she wants to do irrespective of what someone else wants. That’s self-driven and irrespective of someone else’s desires, but it’s not withholding. 
  • The feeling of something being meaningful is just that—a feeling—and could be wrong. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • [Redacted] talking with me: 
    • “How late are you staying up? I casually need one or two more shots.” 
    • “What?! You alcoholic!” 
    • “Of photos! 
  • The feeling of something being meaningful is just that—a feeling—and could be wrong. E.g. “When I nerd out about something for hours and hours, it’s not necessarily because it’s the most important thing in the world. It’s because I get pleasure out of the feeling of nerding out.” -[Redacted] 
  • “Sometimes I feel like life is just a series of obligations that repeat every day.” -me 
  • “I hate being organized when I don’t remember where I organized things.”-[redacted]

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • [Redacted] work. 37 mins, nothing happened, [redacted]. 
  • Completed my daily writing. 
  • Completed my travelog. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Boudin balls at Buffa’s. Delicious! 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Sleeping well! In bed to sleep before 1am.

Travelog Thursday 191031 (Redacted version)

Start: Parked outside [redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

End: sleeping in [redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Exciting Events: 

  • Wandered around New Orleans dresser in a couple’s costume: I was Draco Malfoy & Smidge was Dobby the House Elf. 
    • Drunk wandering is just as pointless as I remember. Trying to find that friend, avoiding places with covers, etc. 

  • Felt twice like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. 
    • When [redacted] and I were playing connect 4 as the night was coming to a close.
    • Wandering down Bourbon street sipping a delightfully fruity daiquiri.
  • Talked through [redacted]’s life goals and how he should choose a career by ability, not passion. 
  • Did two [redacted]. 
  • Phone with [redacted] to tell her I [redacted]. 

Real Realizations: 

  • People are the same everywhere. The difference is interests, topics, opportunities. Same people, tho. 
  • Sleep deprivation keeps people wired and happy. 
  • I don’t enjoy dressing up for Halloween. Too much effort, too little value. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “I’m gonna be a cow.” -[redacted]. 
  • “The first thing to attack in your enemy is their communications.” -[redacted]. 
    • I like this quote for its wide-ranging reach. Whether playing chess or in war with a country, the first thing to destroy is their ability to think. You knock out that ability by knocking out communications—between them and another or within one, itself. 

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • Work for [redacted]. 
  • Did [redacted]’s dishes. What a gift. 

Disappointing doldrums: 

  • [Redacted] with [redacted] feels oddly fractured again. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Cooked a steak and sweet potatoes for [redacted] & me. 
  • Chicken tenders at dinner. 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Hanging with [redacted]. 
  • Sleeping late. 

Travelog Wednesday 191030 (Redacted Version)

Start: Parked outside the New Orleans African American Museum, Governor Nicholl’s Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

End: Parked outside [redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana.

Real Realizations: 

  • Everyone’s self-conscious about something vis-à-vis their sex life. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “Sir, sir,” the older woman behind me in Walmart says. “Yes?” I reply, removing a headphone. “You have nice looking legs.” “Thanks, I appreciate that,” I say and then feel incredibly uncomfortable. 
  • “You can sweat on the inside, just don’t sweat on the outside.” -[Redacted]. 
  • “You’re interesting, in a challenging way.” -[Redacted]. 

Exciting Events: 

  • Call with [redacted] to reorganize his working life. 
  • Call with [redacted] for fun. 
  • First [redacted]. With [redacted]. 
    • [Redacted] with both [redacted]. 
    • Gave [redacted] while [redacted]. 
    • Playfighting / [redacted] with [redacted]. 
  • [Redacted]’s stories: 
    • Stealing $1,100 from a movie theater by dropping the $100 bills into a big gulp cup. 
    • Smuggling drugs into prison as a guard. 
    • Stopping 3 kids from stealing his car stereo & dodging a bullet in the process. 
  • Awake till 5am for the third time in New Orleans. It was 6am, this time. 

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • Showered at Planet Fitness. 
  • Bought steaks from Walmart. 

Disappointing doldrums: 

  • The death ritual. Well structured, good concept; lacking in execution &/or details. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • First muffaletta! Yum. 
  • The stew that [redacted] made. That chick can cook! 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Nap tomorrow?!?!
  • Rocky Horror tomorrow?!?!
  • More [redacted] with these great people?!?!