Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Sometimes I am surprised at the presence of the profound within the mundane. Today I was talking to a guy about a civil works project, and he said this:
"That's the thing I'm trying to make clear to my staff. This facility was built at the turn of the century, it was an outpost--the frontier." This is where his thing gets interesting. "At the frontier the economics are different. On the frontier people are cheap and equipment is expensive." The conversation moved back to water after that, but I learned a lot from that little snapshot.

Everything grows on the frontier. The frontier is the edge of everything exciting. People who read the books I read say things like, "There is nothing more valuable that the people on your team," and "People are our value." That's nice, and I would lay down in traffic for my team, but in some ways the people who are trying to challenge and innovate and grow know that at that time they are cheap and the creation is valuable. You push the limits because you don't like what's inside of them. You push the limits because creation is good. You push the limits because you want to make something of yourself; or lose something of yourself. You push the limits because you read a book about a rich guy who did. If its worth it, you probably push the limits because you want to make a better kind of something as you extend the frontier.
Creation is never comfortable.
During the heavy lifting of creating anything you need to be o.k. with the fact that you are worth less than the thing you're building; or at least that the time on the frontier will be worth it once someone puts up some condos.
That means a lot of things, not the least of which is you don't want to invest yourself in something stupid.
If you're interested in civil works projects I'll write about the rest.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Older Trails

A friend of mine was brave this week and walked away when it counted. I love character. Another friend found a girl who I think he's falling in love with; and it makes sense. My wife is beautiful and her face is rosy from putting in insulation and she's adorable (but her face hurts a bit). This week I went for a run on the old trail I used to walk with my grandfather when I was eight. Sadness is softened and happines sweeter on older trails.

Tom Friedman wrote a book called the Lexus and the Olive Tree. In the book he defined our world with two conflicting themes--the new and interconnected world (he picked it up in a tour of a Lexus plant) and the disconnected world where guys are fighting over rights to the old olive tree. Much of World History can be defined by the struggle between these two elements, or more dynamically the attempt to reconcile them. The great upheavals of our time have primarily been society readjusting these forces (i.e. the Dark Ages, the Reinassance, The Westphalian Period, The World Wars) or one element sucker punching the other (The Crusades, 9/11). As in many things, these same large forces also play out in our own local lives and even in our hearts.

Most of my day to day is lived in the Lexus. A few days ago, within the same five minutes I got a cell phone call from Alaska, a phone call from India (routed via Oregon), and an E-Mail from Puerto Rico about something we would build in Ohio with parts from China. My day to day is in the Lexus, but sometimes my heart misses the Olive Tree.

It's good to talk to someone who knew you twenty years ago, who can remember how much your Mom prayed for you to live, or who knew what you weighed when you were seven months old. It's good to have someone who has seen you at your worst, or your best. Good to see someone who has been with you in times to laugh, and in times to stoically hold back tears, and even in times to cry: someone who knows that these things are not impostors and should be dealt with squarely. Sometimes it's good to calmly sit beneath the olive tree.

How best can we reconcile these forces for the World?

This question will be the big theme of my generation. I've never abandoned the idea that I was built for big things, and because of that I feel like I've got a part to play in sorting out this theme.

First I want to nail it in my heart. And the solution involves older trails.

Monday, August 08, 2005

A Great Story

I met a lady the other day who told a story.
She was a stand out basketball player in High School, and also in college. While in college or shortly thereafter she took on the roll of head basketball coach for a poor, predominantly black, school in the South. The school couldn't afford to hire a bus driver so she got her CDL and drove the bus as well as coaching.
One day she was driving her kids to a game.
The Klan was holding a rally in the town, and they had to drive past this Klan Rally, escorted by a state trooper to make sure they didn't get killed.
At the game the referee was bent on making sure that the black girls didn't beat the white girls in this town. Every time a black girl touched the ball he called a foul.
Her girls were down by ten when the ref made a particulary bad call.
In disgust, the coach walked onto the floor, removed her glasses, and said:
"These might help, their color blind."
She was kicked out, and as the only coach her team was left absolutely alone with the ref, the opposing team, coaches, and fans.
She could only see a glimpse of the scoreboard, but through a window she saw the point total begin to slowly rise.
Her girls won.
The doors bust open, and her girls tackled her in a giant celebratory hug.
"Nobody has believed in us like that before...Thank you."
I thought it was a good story.