Monday, May 20, 2013

Innovation: Terrifying

Our modern world is lived at a break-neck pace.

Before technology reaches mass availability, it is already obsolete. (Why else do we feel the need to buy a new iPhone every year?)

Yet, despite innovations making newer, faster and (arguably) better within easy reach, many of us, either personally or professionally, refuse to release our death grip on the past.

Rather than embrace where we are or where we're going, we hunker down, white knuckled in "this is the way it's always been done." We chain ourselves to "tried and true" until someone - usually a new 30-something CEO with a Crest smile and a televangelist's suit - sweeps in and drags us, kicking and screaming, into the present.

Once there, we grumble and groan.

We lament how much "easier" it was to follow the old ways.

Until we learn the new ways, which are, in fact, easier. And faster. And arguably better.

And then we wonder why we put up such a fight in the first place.

Until the next change comes, and the cycle lovingly continues.

So what is it about change that seems to scare us?

Why do we cling to the familiar when progress can only be achieved by moving forward?

Why do we insist on older, slower, costlier means of personal and professional production?

And should we stop?


I drive a 2003 Chevy Tracker. It lacks bells and whistles. The gas mileage is less than ideal. Boasting more than 100,000 miles, the gears grind when I release the clutch. But it's a great little car. It's cheap to maintain, gets me where I need to be, and I haven't had one problem with it.

Basically, it's everything my Audi wasn't.

Cherry-red and top-of-the-line, my Audi was heaven to drive and head-turning gorgeous. It was also in the shop at least once a season. And you can forget leaving the garage owing anything less than a grand. The car was flashy, new, fast - and more trouble than it was worth.

Is this why we fear technological innovation? Somewhere in our recesses are we certain that we're gonna leave the lot with a luxury lemon?

I don't know.

But what I do know is that, when William Shockley and his cohorts left their respective conventionally-minded corporations to found Silicone Valley, they did so as a conscious rejection of outdated operations that were holding them, the country, and eventually the world in a bureaucratic stalemate.

They saw an avenue for progress - for change - and they seized it. And because they did, we put the first man on the moon. (And that computer on your desk.)

Change is terrifying - often because we paint the unknown with a doomsday brush.

But while you white-knuckle the processes of old, the Shockleys of the world or processing advanced processors.

And while you perpetuate the status quo, you're being passed by and passed up for those who dare to let go.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Meth for Two

A meth ring operates out of my office parking lot. I just know it.

Today, while circling the asphalt because I am too cheap and lazy to write another $3 check to the Park Service (sad, but true, fact), I began to take notice of two truths:

1. There are an uncanny number of lizards lurking in the parking islands and

2. Questionable people come here to do questionable things.

In recent weeks, I've noticed an uncomfortable number of police cars and bullet shells.

It can be argued that any number of either of these would be too many. But let's just say - for the devil's sake - that the two dozen I've seen of each would constitute a cause for concern.

For those of you who don't know, I work in an office building that's just off the beaten path. A little secluded, the place shares a lot with an abandoned office building and, as mentioned, a lot of lizards. There are multiple entrances (and therefore exits), and many places to hide.

What I'm telling you is, it's a "you won't get caught here" kind of spot.

The kind of place you take your mistress to cheat on your wife.

The kind of place you go to sneak a smoke of something less than legal.

The kind of place you go to hide just after you've done something nefarious.

So, you know, it's great people watching.

Anyway, among the litter of shady souls I saw enter and exit the lot on my hour-walk, there was a woman - dark shades, car with had-to-be-illegal tint on the windows -, several men who looked over their respective shoulders too often and too quickly for comfort, and a cop who parked entirely too far away from the action to actually be "in pursuit" of anything other than a dark corner.

I like to think the cop is the leader of the ring.

And glasses lady and the trio of shoulder starers?

His henchmen.

I say that, of course, with no proverbial "smoking gun." (Do shells count?)

I don't have a discarded bag of meth or tube of meth or flask of meth or whatever meth comes in. There's no telling stain on the pavement. I haven't found a body in the woods (yet!).

But baggies and bodies aside, I remain convinced that my lot is the place to be for folks at whose place it ain't safe to be.

And that makes me feel like I'm midday walking up on some of ATL's seediest, degenerate, depraved, corrupt criminals.

So naturally I waved to them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013