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?

Travelog 191023 (Redacted Version)

Start: [Redacted], Pflugerville, TX

End: [Redacted], Pflugerville, TX

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “Even god couldn’t take the Israelites into the promised land. [It means], ‘you can’t get people to do things they don’t want to do.’” -[Redacted]. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Made poached & scrambled eggs using my sous vide machine. Delicious!
  • Ate ham & pepperjack & mayo roll-ups. Yum! 

Real Realizations: 

  • Hourly work that’s scheduled every day [redacted] is GREAT. I could do this for 6 months [redacted]! This must be what it’s like to have a job. Except BETTER! 
  • In school, teachers train you to wait until the last minute to do things (because they change the requirements so often). Turns out this is actually GREAT training for the real world [redacted]!
  • When you care about someone (and ask questions accordingly), they think you’re down to earth. 
  • People like people who care about them. If you stay in control and focus on them, you can get anyone to like you. 

[Redacted]

Exciting Events: 

  • Wrote a new recipe for my cookbook.
  • Talked with [redacted] for a while.
    • Smoked a cigarillo together. 
    • Discussed our old highschool passions. 
  • Phone call with [redacted]. 
    • Just joked around a bunch. 
  • Phone call with [redacted]. 
    • Talked about serious stuff. And our [redacted]. 
  • Worked on [redacted] for 5 hours. Made [redacted]. 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Traveling to New Orleans. Seeing [redacted] & his crazy parties.  

The day I decided to trust myself.

On following others:

School is following others. Culture instills following others. Corporations, countries, and organizations require following others. Following others is not for the individual. It’s for the safety of the herd.

On freedom and the individual:

I need the freedom to express. I need the freedom to explore. I need the freedom to create. These are only taught by the world’s best teachers. Learn to learn from yourself or risk living someone else’s version of your life.

Water your thoughts? My opinions on water in various contexts.

SECTION 0. MY FIRST DISPUTE WITH THE TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

In 2006, the TSA banned liquids. Being a clever, pedantic, and thirsty child, I arrived to the airport with a bottle of ice.

“You can’t bring that through security,” the agent explained.

I asked why.

She said, “It’s a liquid.” With a shit-eating grin, I replied, “But it’s ice.”

“I know,” she answered. “Ice is a liquid.”

SECTION 1: THE MOUTH

  • Saliva is under-appreciated.
  • Drool is disgusting.
  • Spit should be avoided at all costs.
  • The saliva of a lover requires further research, currently accepting applications.

SECTION 2: COMMON APPLICATIONS OF WATER

  • The water that makes up 80% of my body: Great.
  • 80% of your body: Passable.
  • 80% of Donald Trump’s body: No comment.

 

  • Water-based lube: good.
  • Tears: Bad, unless they’re being used as water-based lube.

 

  • Water is great for fish, camels, and rainforests, necessary for farmers, and hit-and-miss with New Orleans.

 

  • Showers are good, baths are great, and hot tubs are excellent.
    • The four differences between a bath and a hot tub are friends, chlorine, jets, and clothing. Realization: Friends and jets must be fabulous, because chlorine is awful and clothing is the worst.

SECTION 3: LOCATIONS WHERE ONE MIGHT FIND WATER

  • Cup: good.
  • Bottle: fine.
  • Pool: excellent.
  • Syringe: concerning.
  • Computer: oh no.
  • Bed: your fault.
  • My van: bad rust.
  • The statue of liberty: somehow delightful rust.

SECTION 4: LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS

  • SUBSECTION 1: FICTIONAL ETYMOLOGY
    • “Water” derives from the Latin “Wah-tah-ré,” meaning gift of the gods.
  • SUBSECTION 2: SYLLABLES
    • Wat: the Thai word for temple
    • Er: the sound often heard during the search for a hard-to-find word.
  • SUBSECTION 3: CURIOUS INSIGHT
    • Food, air, sun, earth, touch, love, mom, dad. Why is the word “water” two syllables when all other life necessities can be described in one?
  • SUBSECTION 4: WORDPLAY
    • Passable:
      • Water you doing? Water you talking about? Water you looking at?
    • Desirable:
      • Water you want to drink?
    • Too far:
      • Water you want her, the waiter, to wither while we a-waiter to order?

SECTION 5: TRAITS

  • Warm water: good for bathing.
  • Cold water: good for drinking and borscht. Otherwise to be avoided.
  • Hot water: Excellent for cooking.
    • Also means “trouble,” as in the phrase, “While exchanging saliva, Carol and I overheard the deafening footfalls of Principal Jerickson’s rotund personage and knew we were in hot water.”

SECTION 6: ENDING

  • Some say the world will end in fire, others in ice. I say the world already ended in a flood… or at least that’s what the Salt Lake City billboards taught me.

 

Special thanks to Brine Waves, a Salt Lake City writing group that invited me to their gathering this week, themed “water.”

Did you like this piece? Hate it? Throw a comment below so I can know what to write in the future. 

The Golden Calf and You

There’s a Jewish summer camp for adults. That sounds so fun. I get a scholarship because I volunteer with a Jewish youth group. The scholarship required an application. One question asked about my favorite Jewish teaching. This is what I wrote:

As a child in Hebrew school, I was the troublemaker. The kid who wouldn’t sit still, whose desk was separated from others by a distance just longer than his arms. Only on one day did I stop making trouble:

I had been scooting around the classroom on my belly when my teacher scratched the side of his nose, our signal for “You’re goofing off, Julian. Stop it.” I ignored it. He signaled for a second time. I ignored it again, because “What’s he gonna do?” Then, he began the story of The Golden Calf. I stopped scooting. I knew this one was going to matter the moment he began. See, The Golden Calf is about worship. It’s about how easy it is to make things sacred. It goes something like this:

“Once upon a time God gave Laws. The first one was “I’m God and that’s it.” Then, Moses, God’s go-between leaves his people alone for TEN MINUTES and they make this statue of a cow, made out of gold. And they were dancing and praying, saying it was their God. Moses got pissed and smashed it.”

Now, why does this matter? What can you learn?

  • You’re going to worship. A man locked in prison worships the sunrise he sees through the bars. Deprived of all your senses, you’ll still worship. Consciously choose what you worship, because you’ll act like it’s all that matters.
  • Physical objects are easily broken, so don’t make them into Gods. This one sounds obvious, but actually drove human history for a while. Did you know one reason Jews were successful was that they didn’t have physical Gods? If your God was a lump of wood or a rock or a statue, invaders could storm in, steal it, and subjugate your people easily… because they literally have your God! But the Jewish God wasn’t represented in idols. Also probably a good analogy for life: if you worship material goods (or money, say), you’ll be crushed whenever they’re broken. Worship ideals, however, like Honesty, Truth, Love, or Honor, and you’ll be much more resolute.
  • It’s easy to build Gods, even accidentally. A friend gifted me an obsidian stone a few months ago. I jokingly began referring to it as “Birdbrain, creator of the universe.” After a while, I noticed I started treating the rock with more respect. I began keeping it safe. Watch out for what you worship, because it’s easy to worship the wrong things. In this case, a stone. Stones are easy to stop worshipping. Hedonism? Codependence? Those are tough worships to drop.

Life advice:

Life advice:

  • You can get worried. Just don’t worry that you’re worried.
  • When one is sufficiently “out there”, one needs to explain what one is doing.
  • What if you just permanently paid attention to your values?
  • If money is speech, then businessmen are the most aligned with the way to acquire power.
  • Perhaps suffering builds discipline and discipline is a force-multiplier.
  • Money is a force-multiplier.
  • “Charity, clarity, levity, and brevity.” – The principles of JFK’s speechwriter.
  • One begins to keep things clean when one has sufficiently appreciated the value of habit.
  • Chicken broth always makes you feel better.