Stealing Lies and Other Photographic Truths

On July 30th, Buck's Rock Work Camp, a Connecticut sleepaway camp for the arts with a working animal and vegetable farm, is hosting a celebration of its 75th Anniversary. The reunion page has welcomed the submission of photographs from the many preceding decades. I seized the opportunity to hunt down old photographs from almost thirty years ago. The experience hit me more emotionally than I expected.

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Ready for Innovation

A friend of mine develops curricula for a big company. He presented one such template for success and his bosses went crazy for it. The irony, he told me, was that he presented the very same curriculum two years before and the response was "meh." I have noticed this phenomenon throughout my personal and professional life. People need to be cognitively and--more important--emotionally available to explosive new ideas before embracing them. And the fastest way to make people embrace disruptive concepts is to make those concepts an actuality.

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Reflecting on 10 Years of the iPhone

The iPhone arrived 10 years ago today. At the time, I was unimpressed. I had a smart phone in my pocket, a Palm Treo with a keyboard and stylus. I had resented Apple earlier in the 2000s for linking hardware with software (iTunes) in a manner I found to be monopolistic and fraudulent (customers thought they owned MP3s when they had actually licensed AACs). I even wrote a law school paper on the anti-competitive nature of the new Apple technology.

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Time in Shapes and Patterns

Leading up to this past weekend, I had been seeing life in patterns. In the abstract. I like to structure my days through Google Calendar, which defaults for me on the desktop to a big 16x9 rectangle, filled with squares. When I reduce the calendar to a week, it becomes an elongated rectangle, and when I want to look at a given day, it becomes one long vertical scrollable rectangle. Throughout, I fill up two dimensional "blocks" with scheduled time, for personal errands, professional commitments, and opportunities for spontaneity.

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Supply and Demand and 3-Ring Binders

I woke up at 3 am and could not fall back asleep. I tried to read, but that didn't make me sleepier. I had a lot on my mind. I thought about my oldest finishing 4th grade. You get nostalgic when you can't fall asleep at 3 in the morning. When I was in 4th grade, we moved to a new neighborhood (the one I'm in now) and I would have gone to middle school in 5th grade if we had stayed.

In my reverie of those years, I reminde

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Entrepreneurship is a Game of Go, Not Chess

Go is an ancient Chinese board game that has become the national game of Japan. In the 1980s, I read an article that declared that Go, the oldest game in the world (4000 years!), was the reason Japanese businesses were beating American businesses. My father had an old Go set, and I learned how to play. At the Half Hollow Hills Melville library, a local Go evangelist by the name of Milton N. Bradley hosted an ad hoc Go club, and I bought his ring-bound mimeographed book "Go For Beginners." I never became very good, but I could see why people had attributed almost mystical traits to the strategy game.

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What Matters With the Golden Rule

The "Golden Rule" is one of the cornerstones of almost every society. It is evident in the concepts of Karma and Dharma, and even secular humanism and existentialism. It was most famously preached tenderly by Jesus as "Love thy neighbor as thyself," as a derivation of the Hebrew Bible's directive in Leviticus. And who can forget Jesus's contemporary Hillel the Elder who flipped the Rule on its head by stating: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. The rest is commentary."

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Giving of One's Self

I've mentioned before that I did not initially vote for Michael Bloomberg for mayor. But he ended up being one of my favorite politicians, despite the fact that he lacked in charisma. I enjoyed it when he said he had smoked marijuana and he liked it, too! But one story stood out for me: when services were cut by New York's government, he would find a way for his charity to donate to those very same services. This inclination towards philanthropy made me a permanent fan.

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A Woolly Future

My youngest son has come up with a phenomenal idea for a children's book, and I hope nobody beats him to the execution of the idea. He wants to write a fiction book about a boy who brings a woolly mammoth to life and keeps it as a pet. The book would also contain actual facts about the woolly mammoth.

I informed him that he was in luck; just last week, Harvard scientists (I knew that the fact that they were from Harvard would grab his attention; he heard last year that it was the oldest and the best and most important in the U.S., and therefore wants to attend one day) announced that woolly mammoths would be brought back to life by splicing DNA from the extinct mammoth with elephant genes. He was so excited--maybe the woolly mammoth would become his new favorite animal, even more than the panda. He wanted to know so much about DNA.

We discussed how DNA are the building blocks of life, that, under a microscope, they are shaped as a double-helix, which I tried to describe to him as looking like a twisting ribbon. I told him how DNA could be found at the root of a single hair, with a swab of the inner cheek, or by scraping a piece of skin. And that DNA is like the code to a computer program. As I discussed this with him, it reminded me how awesome--in the literal sense of the word--it is that something so microscopic could be linked to something so complex and vibrant. DNA makes us more than matter. Again, in the literal sense.

Today, we went to the Museum of Natural History. We stood before the life-sized replica of the woolly mammoth, of course, but also before impressions of trilobites, small arthropods that lived for 300 million years on earth--more than twice as long as the dinosaurs--but are now extinct. And in the Rose Space Center, we learned that the universe is thought to be 14 billion years old, that we see stars that died out billions of years ago as they were so long before the arrival of humans, let alone human comprehension. And we learned how scientists managed to decode so much of the vastness of space and time.

And after our feet hurt, and our brains were tired, we headed to the museum gift shop, and pretended that our pressing matters mattered.

Love vs. Fear

The times I have been most afraid have been when I have been deprived of control. I wouldn't say I'm a control freak, but I would say that I don't like flying or sitting in the back seat of a car driving along a cliff, for instance, because I am not in control of my situation. Same with a tram up a mountain. Or an elevator up a skyscraper. And I don't think I'm scared of dying as much as falling.

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Jealous Over Seeing Beautiful Oops

There are people who inspire me each day, and they are often so different from each other. I love those differences. But there is a type of person who is so rare that I have to give credit where credit is due. There are some people who see the beauty in every person they meet. Often, it's physical beauty where most people see only plain. Sometimes, it's beauty that is hard for others to see in a given action or expression of emotion.

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Peace on a Bed of Nails

I don't think I meditate correctly. I think there is a standard way to do it, but I have chosen not to. I know that people are crazy about transcendental meditation, and it costs like a thousand dollars or something, but I'm not interested in that. Still, I heard a few years ago that the most effective people in every industry swear by meditation, so I decided to try it for myself, even if I didn't exactly know the right way to meditate.

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