An issue with controlling stuff

Some people collect stuff, some hoard stuff, I control stuff.  I’m not talking about events and people – I’m talking about all those things, clothes, knickknacks, cars, etc, that you collect in life.  I’m usually happy to lend stuff out or let people use my stuff (reluctantly at times, I’ll admit) if they ask.  But take my stuff without asking and my brain screams "thief" and if anything goes wrong, it’s not an accident, it’s your fault. 

I still haven’t forgiven a roommate ten years ago for borrowing my brand new shirt (with tags) without asking, washing it and shrinking it.  If she’d asked I might have said yes (I can’t really tell now), and I wouldn’t have blamed her for the shrinking.  Now it’s totally her fault.  Even 10 years later.  (She didn’t apologize – ever.  Probably because I was so mad.)

Take my power cord at work without asking?  And not even offer to give it back that day,  so I’m stuck scrounging for a spare so that I can use my laptop that day?  I may act nice but my brain is screaming "thief" and my internal image of you is forever tainted.

And if you borrowed something from me and haven’t given it back yet, I know.

So obviously this is my issue.  I say obviously, because while you could argue that the people in the stories above – one ten years ago, one last week – were rude, I think the anger I feel towards them is way out of proportion with the crime.  But I haven’t had to deal with how I feel about people borrowing without asking because usually the people around me figure it out pretty quick and are very careful to ask before borrowing.  I’ve only ever had one roommate issue (the one above.)   But now I live with someone who lends and borrows freely without asking.  (I thought for sure his parents would kill us the first time they were out of town and we "borrowed" something but they seemed quite ok with it when they got back.  For the record guys, I still feel like a thief!)  And he’s someone I’m supposed to share all my stuff with.  And I’ve got this issue.

So the way I understand psychology, you are supposed to think back to some childhood event that caused this.  Did someone borrow something precious to me without asking and never return it?   I can’t think of one.  I do know that I never would have borrowed my parents’ stuff without asking.  And I never wore any of my sister’s clothes or even listened to her music.  (She never wore my mine either.)   

Hmm.  Maybe it’s a sibling thing.  If you have siblings are you more likely to want to "control" your stuff than if you are an only child?  My dad always talks about defending the food on his plate – he had ten brothers and sisters.  On the other hand, the guy I live with is an only child.  And my stepson was an only kid for six years and he’s got no issues with anyone borrowing any of his stuff.  To the point that I wonder if he’s got issues.  But he’s healthy and I’m the one with issues!

So I’ve got this issue with controlling stuff and I’m trying to work on it … (Does that count as an apology, Frank? 🙂

Technology enables art – technology doesn’t kill art

Reading The Bookman’s Wake I stumbled across this passage where the main character is talking about a hand printing press:

Here he had practiced his voodoo, making wonderful things on quaint-looking equipment, just like this.  I felt a strange sense of loss knowing that someday we would attain technological perfection at the expense of individualism.

Just the opposite is true.  Technology enables more people to practice "their voodoo."  A hundred years ago, if I was interested in publishing I would have had to find a publisher, one willing to teach, travel to them, give up my life, apprentice to them, … just to learn one trade!  Now if I’m interested in publishing, I just google it on the web and in a few minutes I have a ton of information and a lot of free tools to try my hand at it.  Most of us who are interested in publishing and typesetting will probably remain mediocre – mostly because we aren’t interested enough in it to pursue it.  But a few will be great.  Same with photography.  Because of cheap digital cameras and photo editing software, we can all try our hand at photography.  Most of us will be mediocre, but many will be good and a few will be great.  Just look at Flickr.  In the days of film and manual photo developing, few could afford to dedicate enough money and time to photography to see if they like it.  Technology enables people to explore lots of art worlds, to try them out and for those that love it, it enables them, it doesn’t hold them back.  Technology opens the doors to more potential artists.

Computer display on a contact lens

Part of my dream computer is becoming reality.  (I really want a computer that’s part of me like Peter Hamilton dreams up.)

Today researchers have shown that you can add an electronic display to contact lenses. 

In the future people will be able to see a display hanging in the air – just like in the science fiction books.  Nobody else would see it.  Although it will first be used for things like cell phone caller id but could eventually be used for everything you normally see on a computer screen.

You can read more about the initial research on the University of Washington website.

More on freedom to work

From Seth Godin’s Workaholics:

A new class of jobs (and workers) is creating a different sort of
worker, though. This is the person who works out of passion and
curiosity, not fear.

The passionate worker doesn’t show up because she’s afraid of getting in trouble, she shows up because it’s a hobby that pays.

Is the passionate worker new?  Or is it just there’s a new type of web related job that people are now passionate about?  I’m guessing the latter.  I think there has always been people passionate about their jobs.  There may be more creative type jobs these days though … more jobs for people to be passionate about.

Paperbackswap Tips

For those of you that use my favorite online book trading website, Paperbackswap, I discovered two things today:

  • You can only have 200 items in your wishlist.  (Don’t worry about me though.  Although I have over 200 books that I still want, I have two whole shelves of books at home that I haven’t read yet.)
  • You can tell where you are in the queue to get a book.  Go to your wishlist, find the book you are interested in and mouse over the little exclamation point in a circle: .   I’m number 60 in the list of 337 people wishing to get the latest Harry Potter book.

Freedom to work

From Polly, one of the Mavericks at Work authors:

Old version: work hard (for a very long
time), achieve success, earn freedom (to retire and do all the things
you missed out on while you were working)

New version: find work that affords you freedom = success

I would argue that the organizations and leaders that find a way to
build freedom (freedom from the time clock, freedom from the cube,
freedom from the org chart, freedom to create) into work will be the
winners in the future.

There is no point in doing something that makes you miserable all day so you can be happy later.  We (including me) spend too much time planning our retirement.  We should be planning our life today.  Find work you enjoy!  Work that gives you freedom, not work that will give you a retirement.

Our country is in their hands

Did you know that many of our top officials from the US Attorney General to ambassadors to other countries hold Israeli passports as well as American passports?  Nothing against Israel, but what if Israeli and American interests are ever in conflict?  How will they honor both?  Will they pick America over Israel?  Do they know?  Can we know? 

We are all global citizens – country lines and even family lines are blurring.  For example, my stepson belongs to two families – it’s not hard to imagine people belonging to two countries.  However, while countries still go to war, I think having people in positions of power who have this conflict of interest can cause problems.  We wouldn’t ask our son to take sides in a disagreement between families.  I don’t want our diplomats to be torn like that.  Who knows whose side they will take?  They represent America but what if they decide they need to defend the other side?  Can we trust them to resign?  Should we even ask them to be in that position?