This morning's brainstorm is happening in a tires shop where I am trying to get a balance or figure out what an odd vibration is when the car goes over 60. the service is about what I expect any more in use. There is a great divide between the top tier for the few and the reality for the masses. I never thought I would see this in the united states, but it is what it is. There seems to be a top-heavy organizational impetus on many wanting to be chiefs and few if any want to simply do the work. A great example was trying to get the tire fixed yesterday when they had their corporate folks in for a visit.
"how about I come in tomorrow when your bosses leave and allow you to work?"
"thanks for understanding."
It isn't much better today, yet, I am sitting with a man that fixed tractors and heavy equipment all his life and has resisted getting involved in computer and chip technologies. So I had a great chat talking to him about what we do with controlled environment agriculture and spaces versus the purely mechanical and common sense side of life. I am told the farmers here are in a bit of trouble with too much rain and late planting of corn. The same is happening in the Midwest, so I am going to stock up on grains and if I were a betting man I would look at the reality with China with the swine flu, the pressure on rice crops and global temperature and the USA corn market and be hard pressed not to see prices going up quite a bit in the next year.
The tractor man mentioned he was a sea bee in the military. For those that don't know what they do, they are more like the engineering and infrastructure builders in combat zones and bases around the world. One look at the man's hands and you knew he spent all his life working with them and large parts. I had enjoyed the discussion about time and the change of times from when he was a young man to his state he is at today. He is in remarkably good shape for his age. Perhaps there is something to be said about working with your body and hands.
Today, I see much of the world working with our minds. There is nothing wrong with this, but I think back to George Washington Carver wanting a balance between the two. Perhaps that is how we got the prototyping and skunkworks spaces? You can do a lot with your mind, or your hands, when you learn to balance both -you actually develop a dangerous set of skill sets and tools that I think is the norm for all – yet, the actions of people remind me each day that these skills seem to be regressing in the market. "fix something? Why? just get a new part and attaché it!"
As I think about the prototype space we want to build for the future, I am amazed at how few tools one really needs anymore. I am at three significant pieces of equipment and a bunch of computers. That's it. What you can create and fabricate is astounding. "what do you want to build today?" while you don't' really save any time on the front end, once you replicate and modify, it is astounding how many variants one can do.
Why is this time valuable? First is that it is inexpensive to brainstorm and try to mock up and various models to find the best solution. The second is that once you do master the tools and process, the sky it only limited by your imagination of what is possible (sans physics and the laws of nature.) We don't have the money to play in bleeding edge tech, and as I got older, I really don't want to spend 24/7 just keeping abreast of every new thought or idea in the technology. While that world is fascinating and fun, it probably isn't healthy for humans in the long term. Perhaps that is why we are working on automating and roboticize things?
It was an interesting conversation, and another old farmer came in and just sat and listened about how life has changed in the USA in the last 50-75 years. What has transpired is that people are becoming less and less civil to each other. in rural America people still know their neighbor. In urban areas, you see less and less interaction with one's neighbor and perhaps helping. It is a familiar tale from my friends in NYC. "we used to have a building where everyone knew each other, today, it is more about everyone trying to avoid each other.
Somewhere there is a balance between the technology and humanity that really can and will optimize life…where is that? I don't really know. It is like me merely wanting to go out into a remote area and take the lab and all the off the grid technologies with me and see what life would be.
I know a part of it would be like me grilling the last of the ramps I wrote about yesterday. I roasted them on the grill with a little sea salt and sat there eating them as if it was like a delicate French pastry. The flavor reminded me "why?" we are doing the fresh food ideas. The characteristics of fresh off the vine with good seeds simply has the flavor and taste that genetic modification seems to lack. That is the beauty of nature and its design. The man seems to think he can pick and choose and create something better.
While it is not there yet, it is no different than looking at a 3d scan and sculpture versus one created by a human hand. There is somehow life, be it good or bad in design with the human-created version. The technology version is precise and correct, yet, lacks life.
We are building loads of impressive shaped building on the planet, and the buzzword of parametric architecture is big. Yet, when I look at the buildings, I don't see great life in the spaces…but that might just be my perception. Time will tell.