A pile of papers. So old school.

Times have changed. Things are faster. We have the internet. And cellphones. And wireless earbuds.

I can imagine that I’d want to make snickerdoodle cookies because the New York Times emailed me a link to a recipe on their site. And I could realize that I didn’t have a decent cooling rack for cookies. I used the phone that I got the email on and that I read the recipe on to research and order a cooling rack. It will be delivered in less than 24 hours. The transaction–including comparison shopping–took less than 10 minutes.

I got a call today from the loan processor guy. He is different from the loan origination guy, who is different from the loan paper-compiling guy, who is different from the house appraiser guy, who is different from some woman I spoke to who apologized that the cryptic automatically generated email reached me before she could call. Especially because the email said it was following up on her call that she had yet to make. They all seem to like the telephone. They use email to tell me to ring them. 

So the loan processor guy called to say everything was great, and all he needed was a phone number for my HR department. A landline. It was just in case they wanted to do a last minute employment verification. Sometimes the underwriter guys do that. 

I work for a pretty large organization. The company has been working to accommodate a modern workforce. It’s been focusing on building a virtual work environment. I haven’t had a landline myself for four years. I don’t have an office. We hotel–meaning no assigned, permanent seats. Most people work from home at least a few days a week. Some work from home all the time. We’re mobile and flexible. It’s 2017. 

I didn’t know what to say, so I told him I’d email him the info. 

Even though I started the transaction online, I felt like I was stepping into a time warp. It wasn’t that different from the last time I got a mortgage–twenty-five years ago. 

I sent a query out over our Slack channel to get the answer about HR. 

This just seems to be harder than it needs to be. It’s not really hard, but I can’t stop wondering if it couldn’t be easier. I’m sure in a week or ten days, I won’t be thinking about it at all. It will be done. Friction and all. But I kinda want to let them know that 1995 called–to release them. 

Drive By

Tesla drive train.

Four years ago I went to a Tesla dealership. I strolled past the sleek chocolate brown coupe and found myself standing in front of a metal bed on four wheels. Wait. That’s the inside of the car? Where’s the engine? How car go?

The salesperson started talking about the battery and plugs and how smart the car was–that it would charge itself when electricity was cheapest. But I was floored by the lack of an engine. It was just a big, heavy battery. No pistons exploding inside of a big heavy hunk of metal. Almost no moving parts, except for the wheels.

Back to smart, the car was run by software that could be updated. And a few months ago, they started shipping all vehicles with self-driving hardware. The hardware is ready for programming so the car can drive itself. I’m thinking that we should stop calling these things cars. And use another verb for drive.

Cars and car ownership created modern America. We built extensive roads, suburbs, cul-de-sacs and drive-through meals because of cars. We have cement and asphalt covering one-third of the land in Los Angeles for our cars. We have people in jail for driving under the influence. More than three thousand people are killed in car accidents every single day, and 20 million are disabled every year. Seventy percent of all the oil in the U.S. is consumed by transportation.

People express themselves through their cars. Many a new parent resisted their first mini-vans because they never saw themselves as that kind of mom. Then there are growling sports cars, the monster trucks and the SUVs with bike racks and kayaks telling the other drivers who you are.

Us humans have a hard time imagining a post-car world. Frankly, we have a hard time imagining any world different than the one we know. But once cars start driving themselves, when they don’t use gas, it’s a new game. Gas stations, highway motels, auto repair shops, windshield wiper makers, will be superfluous.

Personal vehicles might be more like mini trolleys. They’ll be optimized, set routes. People will call for a ride and won’t need to find a parking space. Cities will lose revenue from speeding and parking tickets. Smart cars won’t need stop signs or traffic signals. They will modulate themselves to the other vehicles around via sensors and satellites.

It was only sixty-six years between the flight at Kitty Hawk and when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Maybe we will have hovercrafts. Maybe they will fly. Maybe. But however this new technology and new transportation plays out over the next decade, we are near the beginning of another upheaval in our world. And this one will be faster than the last. Buckle your seat belts, if we have them, that is.



an eye. staring at you.

She flipped her hands through her blond bob and flicked the ends of her hair away from her head in a practiced way. No. It wasn’t practiced. It was a little bit of a tic, the unfurling of the hair, but she flipped her wrist so her hair would fall comfortably toward her chin. She wasn’t flipping out.

She was done with that flipping out.

Her dress was the best turquoise that she could wear. This was significant because turquoise, aqua and many blues all suited her. Her silver and light stone necklace had three tiers but was somehow a light accessory despite all the layers. There was a silver “coin” that drew down that last tier without being heavy. The baubles were luminous, not hefty.

Actually, everything about her was light. Even the lines around her eyes, which were etched by years of quick smiles, were hairlines. Not the crevices that dragged her eyes into her cheeks that dropped into her chin last year. She had no surgery, but her face was lifted.

But there were the twinkles. The ones that reflected from the mirror at the back of the bar and flickered from her eyes. The light that bounced off the shiny, polished wooden bar–it must be from a spotlight shining from the tall ceiling–hit the side of her coupe glass and shone from her ready smile. The smile wasn’t a refresh. It’s always been fast and friendly. But it’s funny how her internal glow made her teeth brighter. And the lines on her face disappear.

She floated just a little bit above her barstool. More like a hover than a transcendental experience. It was part of her lightness.

She realized that people liked her, appreciated her, found her compelling, and maybe, some of them, found her sexy. She was amazed, and then felt righteous, that others felt her value. She had no conceit. She just did. And what she did was good.

She left the dark behind her.  She pulled her anchor out from the cold sea and set sail toward the infinite horizon, following the infinite dawn. She was wrapped in the light.

Colin Powell for Secretary of Education

President-elect Obama visits a school in Chicago.

Look at this picture.

What do you see? I see some little kids who are really, really excited to see the next President of the United States. Their fresh, smiling faces are full of hope.

I want each of these kids to read great books and newspapers, make informed decisions, vote and be responsible for themselves and each other. I want them to go to college, to get good jobs and to always be as happy as they look here.

Prez-elect Obama demonstrates that being smart can be cool–book smart is cool, too. He shows that these kids can be true to themselves AND do well in school and that getting an education is not selling-out.

The Prez-elect can bring this message all the way home by appointing former Secretary of State and Chair of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell as his Secretary of Education.

  1. It would elevate education to a top-tier department by virtue of General Powell’s star power. You take a high-wattage leader and it shines on the entire department.
  2. Powell has been working on youth issues since he founded the America’s Promise Alliance in 1997–including efforts to prevent students dropping out of high-school.
  3. Powell’s pragmatism, commitment to public service and leadership certainly makes sense in an Obama administration.
  4. Powell, too, has a compelling story–a Harlem native who became the first ROTC officer to chair the Joint Chiefs and counselor to four presidents.

Powell gains from this, too.

When he endorsed Obama, Powell said, “I think the American people and the gentlemen running for president will have to, early on, focus on education more than we have seen in the campaign so far.” Being Ed. Secretary lets him put his money where his mouth is. Last, joining the cabinet would aid in rehabilitating Powell’s reputation. To be honest, he’s still dirty from the run up to the Iraq War. A high profile gig at Ed would be a great bookend to his public service.

I saw the picture above, and fell in love with each of those kids. And I want them to have every opportunity to be great people and great Americans. Let’s put a star at Ed.

Who Wasn’t On Stage With Obama and Should Have Been?

Family from the 50's in front of their TV.Steve Clemons is right to question the optics of President-elect Obama’s first presser. It’s not that the folks on the stage don’t have experience and know-how, but they are of the past. And the guy that I voted for said that we were no longer going to be shackled to the past. The same way of doing things.

Many folks on the stage are the guys who thought the tweaking of monetary policy and the cooling of inflation were the answer to long-term prosperity. The same guys who supported a President who during the dot-com bubble said that economic cycles don’t apply anymore. Remember irrational exuberance?

Well, the housing bubble replaced the dot-com bubble. But a quick view shows a commonality. Both bubbles were based on paper and pushing paper around to create the illusion of wealth. Especially for the people holding the paper.

We need to look at our economy and remember that we need to make things of *VALUE.* That’s why I am so excited about Prez-elect Obama’s green energy initiative. Creating new forms of energy is a thing of value. That’s what will make a strong economy. And some new thinking.

We Are The Change

Tonight marks the end of the baby-boom.

The baton is being passed to a new leader for whom flower power is not part of his memory. He will help lead us into the future. The one that we don’t know yet. But the one that we need to work on together.

Not Red States. Not Blue States. But the United States.

I am waiting for President-elect Obama’s speech. The speech that I never thought I would hear. But the one that I was hoping to hear. I have to be out of the house extra early tomorrow, but I am waiting up to see the start of our future.