The New Old Men

It occurred to me while I was looking up something for work that a lot of the geniuses that brought to life the vast majority of the technologies we now use on a daily basis without even a second thought– and I’m talking about the real geniuses, the Cerfs, the Bradners, the Bellovins and the Berners-Lees– those guys are getting old. You’d never know it unless you looked for them and found that these guys, who’ve given so much to the world– who have fundamentally changed the world– now resemble Gandalf.

I suppose it fits, honestly. But there’s still something sad about it.

Pensive

I hope honestly that this morning has brought a lot of peace to people who went to bed upset and anxious last night. I know I feel better, but I’m still knotted up in worry over things I can’t necessarily change just yet.

The fact that I had my first episode of dreaming that I was dreaming in a very long time did not help things, nor did the fact that when I “woke up” I did so into an insanely strange and stressful situation– I was being called by a bill collector at 3a. That, of course, was a dead giveaway that it was a dream (and it was– I haven’t been called by collectors in years now), but it was still scary as all hell.

Passion

It takes a lot of different kinds of people to put together a big project. Some are very strong orators, others are meticulous planners, and still others have their strong suit in physical work. I’m not entirely sure where in that spectrum I fit just yet, but there are a great number of places where I do fit.

The thing is, though, it doesn’t matter how well your core competences are covered across your organization if the people involved do not share one particular trait without exception: passion. Every member of the group must, to the last one, be so committed to the project’s success that they would be willing to sacrifice every last ounce of enjoyment they get out of the project in order to ensure its successful completion. Passion is defined, in its purest sense, as the triumph of sentience over circumstance: the willingness to accept temporary pain to assure long-term success. Without passion, the slightest setback kills the whole thing.

There is a drawback to having passionate people on a task, though, and that is the fact that sufficient passion can cause a blurring between the work and the self. When genuinely constructive criticism is offered, someone overly invested in the project can take that as a personal attack. That creates friction that reduces the cohesion of the group, accelerating failure. Emotional investment is good, don’t get me wrong. But emotional OVERinvestment is irresponsibly malignant and inevitably fatal, just as surely as underinvestment does.

It can be very hard to draw the line as to where people are in over their depth. Everyone’s capability for responsible passion is different, after all, and it’s not like you can just pull out your personal character sheet and see you put X number of points in “emotional control”. But when that line is crossed– either intentionally or unintentionally– that’s when things start to get out of control.

I am immeasurably lucky, pleased, and blessed to work with a group of people who are extremely emotionally invested in our volunteer project. They are a constant reminder to me that people are still capable of creating great works of light in the darkness, and on more than one occasion they have been the light that I needed in order to keep going. Whether they know it or not, they are.

The troubles we’re having aren’t insurmountable. In all honesty, they’re rather trivial; they’re nothing we haven’t overcome before. But they look so incredibly huge because we’re so close to them. At times like this, you need to pull back, get your bearings straight, and reapproach the problem with a clear focus and a sharp mind.

……..I’m sure that those of you who know me closely can appreciate the abyss of irony that is involved in my making a speech like that.

Something Different

I’m trying not to make a habit out of missing posts, particularly on the weekends, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. For example, yesterday by the time I was thinking about making a post, I was also worried about driving home from anime club– perfectly understandable, considering what happened the last time. Anyway, I got home safe at 3a and didn’t run into or over any trouble, but it was 3a.

So, in order to make life a bit more interesting and to force me to put some thought into “missed post” notices, I’m challenging myself to find an educational or just plain interesting YouTube video for each one from here on out. That’s the plan, at least.

Good night, all… I’ll catch up with you tomorrow afternoon. Maybe.

In My Defense

I’d only gotten about four hours of sleep on Monday and Tuesday nights, and I wanted to make sure I got as much as I could last night. Of course, that’s hardly an excuse.

Anyway, the bottom line really is that there hasn’t been a whole lot to talk about in the past day or so, and that I can’t foresee that changing today. I will, of course, let you know if and when that changes.

Simplicity

So, I went to see The Secret World of Arrietty this evening with friends. It’s almost a stereotypical Ghibli movie, which is to say that if you hate certain aspects of how that studio prefers to tell stories, you’re probably not going to find a whole lot to love here. Moreover, it takes a remarkably different approach to the source material than the mid-to-late 90’s Hollywood adaptation of The Borrowers did, and if you were a fan of that particular one, again, you’re probably not going to be terribly happy with this either. However, it was a pleasant enough film, and Carol Burnett’s performance as Hara pretty much steals the show.