Empty Post

empty by ~Kosmur

empty by ~Kosmur

The past few months have been extremely difficult and busy. My new product hit the market last month. The effort required to “give birth” to something new is absolutely incredible; the process is exciting and also exhausting. But as usual, the release brings with it a feeling of emptiness from an achieved objective. Fortunately when it comes to work, there is no end in sight. Plenty of new goals are waiting to be achieved.

A couple weeks ago, some blogger out there sent a lot of traffic my way with the following comment: “Some people will set up blogs for bizarre, individualistic reasons. This pretentious douche thinks of his blog as his gift to his children. Sorry dude, I bet they’d rather have a Wii.” I wasn’t going to dignify his words with a response. But he’s only the tool, the stimulus for further thought. The response is not meant for him.

Some will call names, crucify publicly or in private, harass, persecute, put down, and ridicule people that they don’t understand, in every case highlighting their own weakness, fear, or lack of self-confidence. Even good, confident, strong people sometimes become weak and engage in name calling. “That idiot has no idea how to drive!” “Obama is pure evil!” When we can do little to affect a situation, we vent. Some are evil and attack to evoke a response. They become surprised when their attack is read and the exact opposite of “expected” response is given. This usually puts them in a position of severe weakness (which brings forward further attacks).

I must have hit a nerve a year and half ago saying that I was not writing to make money. My posts may be worth nothing (which is most likely the case) but at least the site is not packed with Google ads asking readers to click on “relevant” links. The blogger somewhere boasted that he was making about $20 from each post. I would rather my posts were worth $0 than $20, a concept he’s likely to misunderstand. I said that this was my gift to my children. This earned his ridicule and a “wise suggestion” to get them a Wii instead. He doesn’t realize that my 7-year-old son will probably buy his own Wii by Christmas, of course if that’s how he chooses to spend his hard-saved dollars and gifts from the tooth fairy.

In some ways people are like airplanes cruising at different altitudes and speeds. He’s jetting and spreading money smarts from high altitudes at high speeds, has many readers, and even earns $20 for every post. I’ll continue riding my little bicycle and believing that some day those who matter will value these scribbles.

Teatro alla Scala

teatro alla scala by ~di-a-na

teatro alla scala by ~di-a-na

Walking into Teatro alla Scala brought back childhood memories pushed away and almost forgotten. We would gather around at the playground at the observatory. We talked about different things and imagined the world that we didn’t have. In the summer, we would stay out past midnight, looking at the stars, talking, thinking, being children. We must have been no more than ten or twelve at the time. (I wonder what my kids will remember about their childhood.)

One of us whose grandparents were from Serbia seemed to have more interaction with the outside world and liked to talk about culture that we could only try to imagine. She would say that the best opera was La Traviata and the best place to see it was the La Scala. Impressionable kids… we had no idea what La Scala, or La Traviata were. We thought that since we were so inseparable, we would always remain together sharing in each others lives. Who would have thought we would end up so scattered around the world…

The walk toward the castle brought forth thoughts of experiences being completely meaningless unless they were shared. Travel has been a chore for me recently but I only feel this way about business travel. If I were here with my beautiful wife instead, the place would take on a whole new meaning. If one thinks of life as a bank account, this trip is a withdrawal. The “account” has a negative balance because the last few months have been almost completely devoted to work … work that in a few years will appear meaningless in the rear-view mirror as our good friend recently reminded me.

Next week’s surgery is almost a blessing in disguise since I’ll get to stay home and be closer to those who matter most without the constant barrage of the urgent and unimportant of this life.

Remember the Alamo

Alamo by ~Gekko-chou

Alamo by ~Gekko-chou

Last week I was at a conference in San Antonio. I had to join the event on Saturday but was not required to take part in any activities on Sunday morning. I thought I would take the opportunity to go for a short walk and see the Alamo. Since there was an IMAX theater on the way, I felt compelled to check out what was playing at the time and noticed that a show about the battle of the Alamo was about to start in a few minutes. Quick change of plans and I was watching the battle on the giant screen. I had no idea that the battle had taken place February 23 – March 6, 1836. I was watching the movie on February 28th – 174 years later.

A two minute walk from the theater and I was standing in front of the shrine. It was an experience of a lifetime. I was humbled to stand there remembering those who had perished.

The Remarkably Unremarkable Me

Average Joe by ~weaponx263

Average Joe by ~weaponx263

Friday. Tired from a week of constant barrage of e-mail, calls, issues, and people. Finished the last call of the day. Completely finished, wasted, empty arrived at the dinner table. Across are sitting two beautiful children excited that I am theirs at last. But work got the best of me again leaving little for them. After dinner he wants to play with Lego characters, she wants to dance and be a princess. I can’t stop thinking about the dozens of projects, tasks, problems, things to do, things I forgot to do, the phone calls I couldn’t make, the calls I should have made. Another hour, they’re sleeping. I hear the Olympics on TV where the best of the best compete. Back to childhood and my mother where I was one day to be a best in something, in anything. I am not a best. I am not even good enough! Not a good enough father, not a good enough son, not good enough at work, not good enough in anything… Stop! Destructive thinking. I am a role model for them. I must find the energy to work harder, to be better. Maybe this is a phase, a difficult phase. I need some rest.

Technological Revolution

Mirror Mirror by `Fredy3D

Mirror Mirror by `Fredy3D

A few weeks ago, I had a fantastic meal with my good friends at Massimino’s, a nice little Italian place in the North End where we gather once a year to catch up and remember the past. This is a group of truly special people.

Eight, maybe nine years ago I was assigned to help implement a financial system at StateStreet. Little did I know about the true complexity of the project and the history prior to my assignment to the project. To sum it up, it was a mess! A multimillion dollar implementation on the brink of failure, this project seemed impossible and probably would have been scrapped. Multiple weekly status meetings with 40-50 people (at least 30 consultants @ ~$300 /hr), half dozen project managers with their assistants, an entire floor in the most expensive building in Boston, the best hardware costing over a million dollars, and much more didn’t seem to matter enough. Yet somehow this team of special folks managed to successfully roll out its piece of the project. It’s a nice annual surprise to hear that the system is still in use globally.

Even though  I have worked on many projects since then, I haven’t been in a similar team. It is even more troubling to see some of the latest currents that seem to sweep across this great society. Here are some observations.

We have all of the great communication technologies yet we’re less connected. I am certainly not talking about efficiency of transactional communication or the productivity gains from instantaneous dissemination of information. We seem to be less connected with transformational life-long relationships. At work, many of us stare at computer screens all day long with little time to actually talk to people outside the transactions we conduct. On Facebook, as a close friend pointed out, we see status updates that scream of loneliness and boredom. Instead of bowling or golf, many have the living room computerized “equivalents.” We have everything yet we have nothing.

To contrast this, I remember life back in Armenia back in the dark days when we had no electricity, no telephone, no running water, nothing! My father would joke that of all systems of communication/infrastructure only the sewer system worked (and even that froze one day in the dead of winter). We had hardly any food and I had to go for a daily fight for a loaf of bread. Yet in that environment we were (incredible to imagine) happy, never bored or lonely. The space/time for those days is no longer; only memories remain.

Today we are well connected exchanging / processing hundreds of e-mails, instant messages, text messages, tweets, phone calls, video chats, blogs posts and comments yet so many seem to be lonely, alone and feeling completely disconnected and alienated. TV commercials scream about depression and insomnia drugs and other remedies to address anxiety disorders. Netflix, OnDemand, and YouTube bring thousands of channels of passive “entertainment” yet it seems people need even more despite some of the videos and programming being pure trash.

The industrial revolution has ruined our external environment. Technological revolution seems to be ruining our internal environments. Or is it just a mirror?