Saturday, January 27, 2007

Wants and Needs

In my day job, I work for a high-tech company, writing about breakthroughs that I try to describe in terms that even I can understand. Hey, I studied journalism in school, not science, so I try to keep it simple. I have to.

The truth is, I admire engineers, scientists, technologist. They impress me not only with their brains but with their hearts.

What motivates them more than anything is a desire to change the world. They spend their time finding ways to do things like, oh, help cancer researchers run simulations 50 times faster. What's more, they refuse to accept the notion that something can't be done simply because other smart people tried and failed.

In short, they're inspiring. There doesn't seem to be any limit to what they can do if they set their minds to it. Yet the best technologists I know think very seriously about the implications of what they're doing.

Most of us don't even do that much.

Which is why I was glad to see Fast Company's "E-Tool Bill of Rights," designed to reset expectations and redraw boundaries that technology tends to erase.

We should never forget that technology is made for us and not the other way around. But it goes beyond that.

Too often, I think, we let the things we want pull us away from the things we need. What we want may be a raise, a promotion, a new car, or a cure for cancer. Good things. But in their pursuit, we've become too busy to eat right, too wound up to sleep at night, too tired to exercise.

In short, we need to take better care of ourselves.

Life is precious.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Random Images

Barefoot girl in a backless dress.

Traffic lights reflected on wet pavement.

The shadow of a small plane flickering across the contours of a grassy shoreline.

Long-haired boys and short-haired girls.

A blue Adirondack chair by itself on the lawn.

Wind-blown palms through mosquito netting.

A white blouse with black buttons.

The smell of chlorine and Coppertone.

A big-breasted blonde in a black bikini.

Silver jet streaking over black hills in a twilight sky.

Cliche curtains ruffled by a lacy breeze.

"Eyelashes wasted on a boy."

Ice-blue lights on the bare branches of twin trees.

Red tail lights fading into a black-and-white winter night.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Now, Smile!

I lost a tooth yesterday. Not just any tooth. One of the front two. The right one, to be exact.

I broke it Friday night biting into a piece of pizza of all things. The pie was a little crispy from being reheated in the oven, but still. I was shocked.

At first the tooth was just loose, but Sunday it broke off while I was chewing something soft and doing my best to avoid the danger zone in my mouth.

Standing in front of a mirror, squinting at the jagged little stump that used to be my tooth, I was in for another shock: I looked like a derelict. It was quite horrifying actually.

This morning my dentist told me that teeth get brittle as we get older. Plus, I have what he called a deep bite, so he wasn't surprised at all. He simply fitted me with a temporary tooth -- nothing that would withstand a bite of french bread, but at least I look like my old self -- and scheduled a root-canal operation for later in the week.

I'm told that there's a lesson to be learned from every experience, and in this case the lesson is simple: I need to appreciate what I have before it's gone.

Knowing that -- really knowing it -- is worth more than any tooth.

Monday, January 1, 2007

What I've Learned

> If you're going to criticize me, say something nice first, even if you don't mean it. It will help, even if I know you don't mean it. (Note: Others may require actual sincerity.)

> When I'm feeling down, I play Van Morrison's "And the Healing Has Begun" over and over and over. With each repetition, I start to feel stronger.

> If you like to dance, dance -- and don't let anything stop you. Not shyness. Not anything.

> The punishment for lying is always wondering if others are lying to you.

> Buy Reese's peanut butter eggs at Easter time. They're way better than the peanut butter cups. They're fresh.

> Hatred is a waste of time. You only make yourself miserable.

> If you're taking a cruise on, say, the Danube, choose the downstream tour. Less engine noise.

> Think about it: If you were God -- omniscient and all-powerful -- could you ever be jealous of anyone or anything?

> Would you demand that people worship you?

> If you did, what would that say about your emotional maturity?

> Note to President Bush: If positive thinking were enough, our troops would all be home by now. Try something new.

> The movie What the Bleep!? Down the Rabbit Hole will boggle your brain.

> Even when I was attending church and studying the Bible like crazy, I could never understand prayer. You can't say anything to God he doesn't already know.

> Now I think the trick is to make your whole life a prayer, even if you feel compelled to use profanity now and then.

> I really like this quote from Depak Chopra: "At any given moment the universe is working toward the best possible outcome."

Hat humbly doffed to Esquire for its inspiring January issue.