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We’re a bit all over the board this week, but most of it boils down to the future and the differences our kids generation faces.
We’ve seen plenty of changes in our lives and what our kids face is vastly different. The tech, which we love, is enabling them to make different choices and lead different lives.
Episode 35 Our Kids Future
[Intro] – Do you like conversation on a variety of topics? Feel like no one wants to talk about the things that interest you? Tired of only hearing the same political, sports, or catastrophe talk? Yeah, we feel that way too. Join to high functioning games as I discuss just about anything under the sun. You can’t tell you what we’ll be talking about each week because I you know where our brains will take us. It will be an interesting conversation though. So hang on and join us, here comes the Relentless Geekery.
[Stephen] – So, how are you?
[Alan] – I’m doing fine as a matter of fact. You know, it’s kind of fun. You know, I really am not minding all the COVID shut down because it’s released having me focus on things that have needed to get done for a long time like going to the vaults, like decluttering the house, like going through my email clients and creating new rules for things that, it’s kind of funny people places just don’t seem to standardize on how to send you an email, they have all kinds of different email addresses and if you do that on the bad basis or on the basis of subject or whatever, it’s amazing how many rules I have to have in place that just capture all the things from mailing list or all those things from a bank or something like that and and if you don’t update your rules regularly all that accumulates, so part of my end of year start of New Year is always, okay I want this to be filed away where I want to see everything from Amazon I’ll find it all in one place instead of having to like go looking through my inbox and try to remember pseudo chronologically when did this happen and so anyway, and then you find out that occasionally you wrote a rule it was too aggressive and you were in a folder that you put things into and it’s like what’s all this other stuff doing here? Oh because you know and it’s got this all character strings and all you have to do is just do one weird typos or something like that and anyway, its petty but not if you run your life. So I don’t run my life off of email like I might once have nowadays a lot of it seems to be instant messaging, texting, Facebook, all that kind of stuff but a lot of important stuff like when’s the billing due and official notices and stuff it all comes via email as opposed to physical mail, and you don’t want to miss those things.
[Stephen] – And first of all It is kind of crazy to think that we get official notification since and bills through email because fifteen to twenty years ago it was like, oh my God, you can’t send bills in email that’s just not not safe, it’s not, it’s unheard of and hey that gives us a lot of money it’s a lot quicker and people, you know, it’s just, I’ve been noticing a lot we have a lot of preconceived notions we live with that it takes some work sometimes to break. A great example, my mother, she’s seventy she has in the hall a little light that is a night-light essentially an like an old Christmas bulb and she has it taped up to the wall.
[Alan] – Okay.
[Stephen] – So we were decorating and I put up some Modern Christmas lights, LEDs and they are way bright thousand and so I am plugged that old light and said screw it just use this for a night light. Well, she consistently unplugs the Christmas lights and plugs that other one in and I’m like, why are you doing that? She’s like well Christmas lights are dangerous. No, what you have it’s so her notion is in the sixties and seventies with the bulbs and stuff they were dangerous but the stuff now is way safer than what she has but she just has that in her head that you unplug Christmas lights cause they’re dangerous.
[Alan] – I hear you. You know, that’s really true I mean in not only in her seventy year life, but in my lifetime we’ve seen that that LEDs are more efficient and cool running and it used to be like when you were putting lights on the tree you had to have gloves on because they got so hot that you couldn’t handle them well and nowadays all that’s become easier and they did it where you know, it’s a no-fail strings that wasn’t one bulb which of the entire string now they’re all individually and whatever the cost of that was, a penny per bulb or something like that I’m more than willing to pay the extra dollar.
[Stephen] – Alan, wait you died.
[Alan] – Oh. I’m still here.
[Stephen] – They are. Sorry. Sorry, you died. You’re saying the cost of penny.
[Alan] – Yeah, you don’t just for for many things the cost of that convenience whatever companies refuse to do it for a long time because oh no, they will be at a competitive disadvantage because our light strings will cost 7.99 instead of 6.99. There’s all kinds of people like me that are willing to do the 7.99 in order to not have to play the search out the bad bulb game ever again. You know, how is my time not worth, my time is worth a hundred fifty bucks an hour not a dollar, you know what I mean?
[Stephen] – Oh I’ve had that argument with my father through the years so long, he had like a garbage bag of lights whenever a string of lights would go bad he will take every light out and put it in this garbage bag cause then if something else went out he would fix he would replace every individual bulb till he found the burnt out to fix the whole string and I’m looking at it and the LEDs are way cheaper. I mean I go to the store even before Christmas I could buy a string of fifty for like three or four bucks, you know after Christmas I get him for seventy-five cents, you know. Hey, give me like, you know, fiffty dollars.
[Alan] – Whole hedge worth, you know what I mean?
[Stephen] – You know, so believe me when we were putting stuff up as he got older and I was doing more of it and I would like plug something into like oh, well, this is an old set that’s dead and I’d throw it away so long you doing that’s money, I’m like dad it was like it’s thirty years old you’ve gotten your money’s worth it’s not worth the time to fix this he was still like, no he’d pull it out the garbage and he’d sit there, you know, next seven days going through the string and I’m like, whatever.
[Alan] – Yeah, I did that once when when new lights that goes were the first time we had them and a number of things had gone out and so it was like a matter of Aesthetics. I don’t want to have to worry about wrapping the lights around our Christmas tree where I have to worry about a dark spot that if I know that everything is lighting up or whatever my threshold of pain is, ninety percent ninety-five percent whatever else it might be and because they come with extra balls it was like, well, let’s just see how easy it is to unscrew these as cetera et cetera, but after seeing the amount of time that that took I guess that’s become another one of those things that you don’t troubleshoot anymore you just throw it away and buy a new string and really eight bucks, you know what I mean or whatever they are, it’s definitely not quotes worth my time anymore.
[Stephen] – Exactly.
[Alan] – Having said that this is for there’s a store in Lakewood, maybe it’s actually in to Cleveland just over the Border that’s called Anything That Can be Fixed, and it really is one of these guys, you know, some people just have that wonderful tinker’s instinct as to what’s probably wrong here. This became slightly askew, unscrewed whatever else it might be and so you can bring I guess, like an old lamp and of course it would be easier to buy a new lamp but sometimes that lamp fits that corner exactly right. It’s exactly the you have you have history with it if you will and so for something that’s worth doing that and I don’t know that I want to do it, but I’m willing to pay him twenty bucks to say, please keep my rusty dusty old lamp still working and whatever else it might be. I don’t know we can fix anything. I kind of think he can but there’s any number of thing, it’s not only a matter of trying to preserve it. Sometimes it’s wow, I want all the new features. I wanted that it has a three-prong plug instead of two. I want it to be that it’s not harsh incandescent but, you know what I mean? There’s a reason to upgrade there’s not just based on saving money. They’re materially better for all kinds of appliances or whatever else it might be.
[Stephen] – And I remember the first time, cause like you when I first got my car you had to learn how to crawl under it, unscrew the oil pan, let it drain, screw it back in, and you better screw it back in cause man if you work with oil and then it’s leaking out of the car you don’t forget that more than once and then an hour getting filthy, dirty trying to get the grease and grime off my hands and.
[Alan] – Then the pumice soap , whatever the lava, the pumice soap.
[Stephen] – Yes exactly. I still have some and the first time I was like, I believe it was Walmart just when some of the oil places were starting to spring up and I’m like what twenty dollars or sixteen actually, they’ll change my oil, they’ll change my oil for sixteen dollars? Sixteen dollars? That’s nothing? I can, sixteen dollars? I’m like in my head I’m like God, I’d pay somebody like a thousand dollars to do this, you know, I’m like do it right now I’m going to go grab some groceries and I’ll be back and I came home and said I got my oil change and he’s like well, how did you do that? You are out, you know, the driveways here. No I took it to Walmart. They did it. He’s like, no you that’s waste the money blah blah and I’m like, well, you know, what you drive to the store by four quarts of oil, drive home, spend an hour under there, and then they’re half hour cleaning. Why is that a waste? Sixteen dollars. You know.
[Alan] – Exactly. Honestly that, I’ve also thought that’s one of my favorite, if you will, business models like I don’t know doing software development, doing oil changing doing whatever you find the thing that’s a pain point for a lot of people as I you having the right equipment, you know, they’ve got the lift that lifts your car. There is no crawling under and getting gravel in your back anymore either. Take a minute to lift it up there ,they’re working safely, smartly. They’ve got all the knowledge of how the different oil pans are and every single car or whatever they need to do and by concentrating that expertise and those abilities in one place and they can still do it for sixteen bucks like you were saying, I wonder when they first started out they must have said so could we charge a hundred for this? There are so many people that never want to do this again that we could and maybe it did start at a hundred and then they came down as they saw now there’s competition or whatever, you know, so.
[Stephen] – Walmart definitely goes for the bottom lowest, you know, all we’re doing is changing your oil and hopefully we’ll put the oil cap back on.
[Alan] – Exactly.
[Stephen] – I go to Valvoline now and it’s ten minutes. We drive in,they check the air, they pump up the tires if needed, they fix one of my lights , the one time they changed windshield wiper, changed the oil out in 10 minutes. Paid sixty dollars for all of it.
[Alan] – One was in like two minutes of my house that’s like that they’re not even liek Jiffy Lube where it’s ten bucks, fifteen bucks I think it’s like six. I think that’s what the name of it, but it’s like that they made their business model work is hey, as long as we have your car here can we sell you a new headlight, a new windshield wiper or whatever else it might be and and a lot of cases it’s like as long as that price doesn’t seem to gougey it’s like, you know, I was thinking of doing that I was going to buy them at Costco where you have to go through the book of what model is and get the cause they’re not all equal windshield wipers. You know what I mean?
[Stephen] – Yeah.
[Alan] – It’s, I love that they’ve found a way to make that convenient, you know, every time when I’m coding one of the things I’m almost thinking of is it’s not one shot It’s I’m going to have this system and how do I make it so that it’s easily maintainable and that I could show to somebody else and so you’re always thinking of how to make something that will take, you might have to go through a certain pain to get it just right but then you never have to experience it again. Yeah waiting that subroutine. It’s worth doing that, you know.
[Stephen] – That’s those modern ways of programming. Just give me a good go to and I’m fine. Yeah, you know though the thing about fixing stuff versus replacing it some things are actually harder like, furniture. You have to get some really high-end furniture nowadays to make it even fixable because a lot of the lower end stuff that you get they really can’t do anything with it the way it’s built the way it’s put together. They can’t take it apart put new coverings on it and they could put this together cause it just falls apart. It’s not designed for that, and the problem. You’re cracking a bit. Are you bumping in your microphone?
[Alan] – If I am I’m sorry. I’ll step back a bit.
[Stephen] – Oh, it just sounds like anyway, but then the the mindset then goes away from that for example, the youngest he was like 9 and our door to the outside edge in this fall and winter it swells a little bit so it will stick, you know, you sometimes have to push it to get it open. Hey, it’s an old house. That’s what happens.
[Alan] – Yeah.
[Stephen] – You know where and he does that he’s like, doors not opening it’s stuck. I’m like, oh It’s just swollen the weather just push a little harder. It’ll be fine. And he goes well, we should replace that get a new one. It’s a perfectly fine door, you know the mentality then becomes well, you know, there’s a scratch on a throwing out, so.
[Alan] – Exactly. I don’t know if it is that an extension of canceling cultural or one you, you know type stuff and everything.
[Stephen] – Right.
[Alan] – I guess the same thing, you know, we have an old house. We have a century home and everything that we have not only the swelling but everything isn’t quite to you know what I mean? It’s not perfectly a ninety-degree angle. Do the plumbob type thing. So when you can see that it’s got more of a gap. Tiny, tiny difference at the top versus the bottom. It’s like even if I got a new door, I I have to like what fix the whole house in order to get this door way to be true. You know what I mean? So you’ve, it’s and having said that there’s any number of things that Colleen and I have like lived with, had a workaround for for a long time and once in a while when you finally fix something it’s embarrassing to say, did I really for three years twiddled the knob instead of just getting a new knob. Just getting a new washer. Just getting a new thing. It’s amazing how once the the workaround for doing the normal way of doing things. It just kind of like let it go. I’m embarrassed by wow that was an, especially when you do it. It’s not a day’s work. It’s like twenty minutes worth. So I’m not sure what the sweet spot is between fixing things and living with things. I like being handy butI’m really bold when it comes to electronics, computer things,and maybe electricity, but I’m still spooked by plumbing, you know in my mind what I have is just turn the thing on and off and defer when something goes funny with plumbing. Sometimes I take like the easiest shot at it if that doesn’t work I’m happy to call someone who is actually to take on the the liability. You know what I don’t have to worry about I fucked to my house.
[Stephen] – Right. Right. Well you talk about your house our house would probably drive you absolutely crazy. The original part of the house was built during the Civil War so that tells you something but it’s been added onto three different times by three different sets of people. So we have some of our house like when we put the new bathroom in, we we were remodeling it, put the cabinets in and you got the cabinets like this then you got the wall like this so cause we leveled it are one room is like a funhouse room. If you’re a little off balance, you’ll fall into the wall because it tilts and.
[Alan] – Little askew exactly.
[Stephen] – Oh yeah the fish tank you can see the fish tank and its life is wrong with the fish taking like oh my God, that’s the room. So there’s issues.
[Alan] – Like an old Ernie Kovacs video. Yeah, you know, I I love his stuff and he was one of the first to experiment with, you know TV is not reality. I can make like an a whole set built that is indeed at that angle and I’ll put some on another table in the salt shaker slides or the you know, and it was when you were looking at it looked all okay until he protrayed all the ways in which it is the right spot. Oh there’s magnetism, you know, no.
[Stephen] – Right. There’s a small amusement park or something over in PA that has a house like that can walk through and you turn the corner and it’s like well, I’m going up and you’re walking you’re going to wait I should be falling and it’s really disconcerting to walk through.
[Alan] – Exactly. That they’re so smart though. They’ve been able to sneak manipulate perspective so that what your eyes are seeing is not reality but you have to do what your brain is telling you and so I love that.
[Stephen] – I was trying to figure out how to use perspective as a super power for a superhero, that he could treat what he looks at as if it’s 2D. So someone’s like a mile away, but he can see him he can just grab the little dot and throw them in a bucket of water and it drowned somebody because their really an inch high, you know, I was trying to figure that out.
[Alan] – That’s interesting. It’s kind of funny all the ways in which you break the rules of physics if you will, like the game Portal is so much stuff like that and if you can get your mind around I really can create an opening here to there and I can kind of like reach in and out and effects things far away. Have we talked about this? I think that that’s one of the intoxicating things about that ability to expand your senses or what you can influence it really explains something interesting in human nature. Like if you’re a Peeping Tom, it’s not only because, hey sexy, it’s because you really get to see things that other people can’t you get that advantage of I can see further than most people would be able to even or would even consider and when I’ve only been shooting a couple of times in my life and actually I was pretty good at like I said I have good eye-hand coordination and I’m relatively steady but the cool thing about it was wow, plink I can move that thing fifty yards down range. Thirty. Twenty. Fifty. I was experimented with how much, and there’s an intoxicating thing too. I can affect something not just within my range. Not just within my throwing reach. I have this ability to propel myself. You know what I mean? It’s really I can see why it’s cool.
[Stephen] – That’s the developer, coder mindset. You know, I’m creating something from nothing to do this job or this function and look, I made this and look what it does. Like you said with your Russian Stock Exchange or whatever, you know, it didn’t exist. I created it does it now, you know that it’s the LEGOs for adults and stuff.
[Alan] – It really is. And in fact, that’s I’ve always loved that, you know, we creating a order out of chaos, you know what I mean when you look at a system and there’s so many things that can go wrong and you actually managed to wrangle it that it’s not only does it work, but does it work no matter what it’s kind of like, you know, like they always talk about well the first fifty part of the project thing fifty precent and then the other fifty part takes the other ninety percent. Making something bulletproof as a whole different skill a whole different outlook than just getting something to run once you know what I mean? So it’s cool to be able to shift your mindset shift your hat and get to now that I’ve seen how it works how do I prevent all the things that could go wrong. User input, Telecom interference, whatever else it might be. It’s it’s kind of cool. That’s that and if you’re a hacker of any kind, that’s what you’re thinking is what are all the things that people did account for you know what I mean? How do I get in because they didn’t do the rigorous and so that could lead into a little bit of its, you know, there’s all kinds of politics in the news and you know, I don’t think we’re a political podcast but I can’t help but take some wonderful satisfaction in you know, there’s bad guys with guns. They’re trying to assert their will with cause they have a gun but you know, I what the good guys have is ninety-nine percent of the data from parlor, you know, being hateful doesn’t make you smart doesn’t it makes you reckless in some ways and the fact that there’s one of the things I’ve noticed about that particular odd mindset of people that’s fuel out of hate or talk about, you know, their one of their prime sins is there’s no talking about the group outside the group. There’s no doxxing revealing people’s identities, and that’s because they know that hey the gun gives them power, but they’re still so powerless in this modern interconnected world to really hide. They want to think that they can do it that they can go to parlor and parlor will take care of them but that just wasn’t the case. You know what I mean? Whatever opportunistic think it was done to throw it out first place. Whatever smart people are able to say, hey, did you see how this passwording works? And if I do it in the cloud and it just was amazing that it wasn’t a data breach, I just wrote about this, it was a total vacuum of everything that’s ever occurred on there. It’s kind of amazing and so I’m hoping there’s now aprocyphal stories. Unfortunately of they were immediately put on the no-fly list and there was a whole bunch of liquid hackers are not magic but that ability to say well what would have been too hard for someone to do that they might have left it open. That’s where I’ll check first. What’s the easily overlooked or what’s the, it’s all the interfaces that you have to really be careful about when you using any kind of API. You gotta know exactly what you’re putting in what you’re getting out and if you overflow the field or what I mean, I could kick it up so much. There’s all kinds of things if you know how those tools work. If you know how a database works and what happens when you get more data in a field than you should that people can take advantage of that. It’s kind of cool that the white hats are actually saying, you know, those things that have worked against us when someone was able to you know, take this security information funny. A lot of those things can be used for good and I’m enjoying that. I’m enjoying that you can’t have a big enough gun to stop people from saying, we have you on video. You actually took your own video and posted it. You know, we have your social security number.
[Stephen] – How did you find me?
[Alan] – And your license. Exactly, so that knock on the door that they horribly make references to about you know, Kristallnacht and stuff like that that they are not free from that. They’re actually going to be really easily rounded up if we put our minds to it and so I’m hoping that that we’re there will be enough deterrence from this kind of thing happening, but God terrible breach of etiquette and safety and decency and democracy that it might not be that they only replied in ways that they would have wanted to be replied. Hey shoot at us will be martyrs. Hey, we have enough guns will be happy to get in a gunfight. No other find out that all of what they’ve tried to do to get all their stand your ground laws and all those stockpiles of armaments that they’ve got all the. We’re going to find out that they didn’t buy themselves any safety there a hundred years behind. They don’t know how the real world works.
[Stephen] – Well, all they had to do is watch Star Wars. You know, Luke asked Yoda is the dark side stronger? He’s like no, it’s just quicker. It’s not stronger. There you go. Come on we’ve known this thing to the geek world for forty some years at least.
[Alan] – And and it’s nice. We’re not we’re of course we’re not really doing it to them, It’s being done to us. You know, there’s all kinds of PODS of East European, shall we call it you know Russian and other places,* hackers that are regularly took to get into our systems and they’re doing it for can they affect our infrastructure whatever our various different, you know, our water and our power and all that kind of stuff on Telecom and there’s really some sad tales of they have been able to do that. So we have a very careful but whatever that ever escalating battle is between the black hats and the white hats there really are some people that are patriotic enough then instead of saying, how can I cash in on this ability? They’re like, well, how can I use this ability for good and I’ll still make money and in fact, maybe I have to adopt a lifestyle that says I need to kind of remain myself off the you know out of sight because you don’t want to do a really good thing really visibly because you attract the attention of bad people who are trying to shut down your ability trying to harm you because of it. So I I’m not an essay. I’m anywhere near that real world of spooks and attack counter-attack, but I I read about it in books and it sure seems that you know what I mean. There’s there’s all kinds of things where the Snowden’s of the world, there’s all kinds of people that have become lightning rods for Wikileaks and stuff like that and maybe sometimes what happens there is they make a person a lightning rod and they let them have all that attention whereas in real life a whole bunch of stuff is happening in the background that there are still good things happening, the Panama papers will come out the, you know what I mean?
[Stephen] – More so now than ever, you know, cause the videos and you know, though just for playing devil’s advocate for just a moment. Let’s say all these hackers really did take over everything and let’s say the riot was bigger and took over the capital and stuff and change things and took control and did it, well twenty years from now they would be the good guys because that’s how they wrote it in the history and it was everybody else that was stopping them and they made the world a better place. So I mean, you know that definitely is a huge philosophical discussion, but you know, just go back let you know if Hitler had taken, had taken controlled everything we would be reading a very different history that he’s not the evil dictator that he was in crazy that he was a genius and he saved the world so scary.
[Alan] – It’s not only that by that meaning it’s all the victors often write the histories they don’t write the only history, you know, I mean, we know all kinds of things about people that have tried to sanitize themselves every terrible things and and I think that when you’re doing terrible things you kind of can’t write enough new history to make up for the fact that there are bodies buried, there are lists of all the crimes you’ve committed and no matter how you try to change public opinion of not taking folks out of their homes and putting them in camps that’s not a crime because, it’s ridiculous any reasonable, decent is thinking person would not buy into all that they’d become the rebels and eventually the rebels would overthrow that next regime because I think that you know, I love quotes along the lines of you know, the Arc of History tends to get justice tends toward civilization. I think that there’s enough human spirit that even while there are these momentary blips of totalitarian regimes and so forth. I don’t think that’s a natural human stage. I think a natural human state is decency and equal treatment and justice and that things that perturb it they only do it by force, use-of-force, use of intimidation
[Stephen] – Small minority just louder.
[Alan] – Yeah and that, you know, every every single evil guy should have somebody whispering in his ear: time goes on fame is fleeting. They will eventually die. There’s so many of these places that are not a whole system. It’s one or two crazies that have that really terrible charismatic power to get other people to do their bidding and yet they’re going to die ventually and it’s very uncommon for the 2nd to the 3rd and 4th of dictator to have that same iron hold, they sometimes try but eventually things, you know takes thirty years to throw out, you know, the the the various different regimes in Asia or in Africa or in South America or here if it ever happens, it takes generational change.
[Stephen] – In medieval Europe how many kings and fiefdoms and kingdoms were there and they’re no longer around, you know, they controlled everything and in modern I mean the thing about the history and this is a scary thing for me is that just about every text book creator with only a couple out there like McMillan and Houghton Mifflin and all those but the ones I write the text books they pass it through the Texas Board of Education for approval because Texas buys like almost half the textbooks. So so Texas literally as well, we’re not going buy this unless you change this because that’s what we believe. So there have been you know, it’s known but it’s also like what are we going to do type thing? Yeah, so that’s scary.
[Alan] – I am a whole big, you know before Facebook I actually there was some social media out there and I had actually started site called the Smart Life that was using Ning and it was were you could create your own social network. You could have many of the features of you know, people and posting and and including a video and whatever else it might be and if I remember correctly that was one of the very first things that I posted out about was because this isn’t a new age this is a dozen years ago. They were first becoming aware of the inordinate power because of the number of textbooks that they buy that that particular group had and that the reason that was noticeable was because they weren’t just rubber-stamping things they were indeed trying to rewrite history. We don’t like, Jefferson anymore so let’s take him out. Wait what? So that’s the guy who helped to write that you know these famous documents. It’s when you saw the kinds of things they were doing they were so egregiously wrong and bad like it had to be that someone stood up to them and said well, California buys a lot of textbooks so lets look at their standards as well. Let’s not just let this.
[Stephen] – One control.
[Alan]- Pseudo monopoly power when it’s being obviously abused. Let’s not only buy into that and I guess hopefully I really don’t know what the current state of that is. Did the textbook manufacturers, manufacturers, printers give into ridiculous standards or did they make two different versions? That’s kind of what I hope is that Texas got the bowdlerized, sanitized Texas idiot version and that the rest of the world got whatever the consensus is as to what’s true, what significance, what does it matter to tell future generations instead of try to put together a propaganda pamphlet?
[Stephen] – Yeah. Yeah. That’s a good question cause I haven’t followed up with it, it was just something I’ve run across in the publishing world. So maybe it’s worth looking into to see if things have changed especially with the e-book market, you know, and how that is, but with when they’re charging like in college you remember? Oh that book is three hunderd dollars.
[Alan] – Exactly. I do remember that, you know that whatever I I paid for half my college my mom and dad, you know, split the cost with me, and so that pretty much it came down to you know, they took care of maybe tuition and room-and-board, I went to a state school So that was all reasonable, but I had to work the entire summer just to get the money that I was going to use for textbooks and whatever left over I got to go to a movie right and I had to work during college. I had all kinds of jobs during college. I washed test tubes at the materials research lab. I slung pizza at Garcia’s, I had all kinds of things to continue to get that little bit of extra money because you can back then college it was very expensive you, if you were from a standard middle class background, you know what I mean? I had, it got like a year scholarship, you know when I but I didn’t get a four-year ride. I got $1,000 from Burroughs Corporation cause I was a National Merit Scholar and I always wondered, you know, wow, I I wish that I would have been like didn’t they after I was through college and this is going to cross has maybe a little bit of like privileged bitching but it really is reality. Like I saw people from our school if they’re good at athletics, if they’re good at music they’re good to various other things they really were getting free rides and I was like, wow, I’m like valedictorian and I got all these awards like I was a mathlete I got really got like a national recognition type stuff and that turned into a thousand dollars. And and so I knew this is still going to be up to me, you know between my parents saving money for us and and I had two brothers so they were working on putting all of us through college and it wasn’t going to be easy. And so we didn’t get any of the Daughters of the American Revolution, you know, not scholarships fellowships, you know, I wasn’t whatever the scholars are that play golf. You know what? I mean? I didn’t seem to have I was too vanilla generic American to get it on any of the cool set aside. There wasn’t a Lithuanian American things for me a German recognition. So I guess having said all that it isn’t meant to be complaining it really is and this again., wow, you know back in my day but it’s still you really valve something when it’s not handed to you. I knew people that really had college is kind of a four-year party. They didn’t have to work hard right to pay. You know, I really wanted my education cause every time that I took it in another shift at three fifteen an hour I was sure I was going to get my education money’s worth because I did all this crap to get one. You’ve done sack lunch man, you know, I’m getting up at five thirty in the morning to be there for six to seven thirty while everybody else is making their sack lunches cause they’re not be able to make it back to the dorms, etc. Etc. I did whatever was necessary cause I knew that I had to get that degree and kind of like give myself a leg up on life. College was going to help me let’s do this, you know?
[Stephen] – And not the put down any of that I think that’s super important but I think in today’s world lots of people are questioning the value of college as much that. There are way too many kids getting out of college. Oh, I was there for four years we owe $87,000. I’ve been working and can’t pay for any of it yet, and what do I get a job doing? I’m working at Target. How you doing? Welcome to Target, you know, and and it’s not just one or two it’s a lot and that we we’ve talked about us doing some of our talks and speeches and going out and giving these the one I’ve been working on is off addressing that how it’s the kids coming up are looking at it going, okay, wait a second, you want me to give you like a hundred thousand dollars so you can give me a certificate that says I’m good at such and such but there’s no jobs in that and I may have to work at the zoo. You know?
[Alan] – I hear you. You know you have to do the cost-benefit analysis and for many people starting off with that hundred thousand dollar millstone on their neck it doesn’t make any sense.
[Stephen] – I agree and what these kids are discovering is I don’t even have to go work for somebody else I have everything I need in my phone, you know, they can’t go work at McDonald’s because McDonald’s has a kiosk and a burger making machine. There’s one guy sitting there doing the crossword puzzle making sure the machine keeps working and and it sounds funny to us, but it’s a reality you know? We thought five years ago, hey, we’re going to push for McDonald’s to pay their employees fifteen dollars an hour and then McDonald’s responded with okay, we’ll pay you $15 an hour but instead of ten of you I only need two.
[Alan] – Right cause now we got so much automation pushing against whatever efficiencies exactly.
[Stephen] – So, you know that they can’t even work at the burger joints or the pizza places cause now with COVID online and driving through the drive-through or swinging by, you know, they’re not even delivering as much that’s a guess on my part but I’ve definitely seen more people going through drive-throughs then I’ve ever seen the for pizza. You you’re cracking. Okay, you got a short or something loose.
[Alan] – I haven’t touched a really am keeping my hands clear the mic and from all the cables and stuff like that. Was it still buzzing and crackling?
[Stephen] – I don’t think it was me. No it was just I mean it sounded like something was loose or a short there for a moment. It’s better now, but so I mean we’re kind of used to this so again the pizza job to help pay for school may not exist because people don’t use that delivery as much.
[Alan] – I hear you very odd time right now in there probably has been quotes an odd time for twenty years, you know what I mean as we’ve had more automation or more, I don’t know, this is such a huge discussion, you know, whatever it is about getting people educated and or helping them get self-educated. How do you make it so that there still enough money coming in that they can live doing it or sponsorship from their parents or from various different organizations. I think that some of the value of an education is not only what you’re learning but like learning how to learn you learn time management you learn how to how to be able to triage between I got multiple things do and what am I going to do to get my grade point average highest that I can study the things that are most going to matter. I have some prerequisites that are just maybe not going to be as much important in the real world, but you also while I’m distracted cause I really love this classical civilization stuff. I love mythology reading and whatever else so I think that that’s part of what if you’re only on your own you don’t necessarily get those things and then your allowance blindsided by them when you have to apply them into the real world of life too much to do and how am I going to choose? How am I going to justify that to somebody else when they say why didn’t you get my project done? Cause you know what I mean? It it’s there’s there’s some value about going away to live on your own you often people that have been arrested development living in the womb of home to finally go and say wow, I need to do my own laundry. I need to like watch my own bank account. There’s absolutely some transition period stuff in there where you’re still kind of sheltered, but you’re learning important lessons about setting an alarm clock.
[Stephen] – And I totally agree. That’s one of the reasons I wish all my kids gone to school and lived at school and gotten that cause I got a lot out of that but on the flipside how many kids did you know that dropped out of school the first year the second year and they couldn’t handle it, couldn’t take it.
[Alan] – They come across as in I agree. I really do, you know, if and I don’t know we had I was in computer science and that’s a tough major so we had a number any number of people that didn’t keep their grades, but they were going to stay in their major. They went to like, I was went to school at University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, they went to the local community college and did the some of the courses that was still applied towards college grade got their grades back up and then re-entered the college curriculum, and I don’t know it was weird to have people disappear for a couple of semesters and come back but not weird, it was very heartening to say well you took it on instead of just going back home and saying I guess I’ll be a blank like no, I really want this. I screwed up. I didn’t discipline myself. I’ve I found out that what am I going to do? If I’m left unattended I’m going to go to the gym and play racket ball all the time. I’m going to go drinking on Wednesday nights Etc. Etc.
[Stephen] – Thursday and Friday and Saturday.
[Alan] – Boy howdy the reasons there were to go drinking at U of I. Wednesday. Little Kings night. There’s you know whatI mean?
[Stephen] – Here’s my my viewpoint on this and I mean I saw it, you know, when I was in school to kids would drop out or they come back and not very often but if kids can’t afford to go to school if they’re able to do work on their phone, but they can’t do just one job they have to do four or five those same skills they’re going to to get or they’re going to be you know, struggling so it’s either it clicks in their brain that I’ve got a buckle down and I’ve got these three jobs, but I can add one more to make that extra $100 this week, you know and then how do I still get my laundry done and take dogs out and you know, whatever else so I think but again, I don’t think it’s so much the environment I think it’s just the individual cause regardless of environment there’s going to be people that I that’s too much for me. I can’t do it. I’ll just work at the local store and it doesn’t matter if it’s college or working off your phone or whatever.
[Alan] – So maybe that’s what it is it’s the big sieve that helps people understand, what what can I do? You know if I’m not in bear down if I’m not the guy that can juggle between if I’m not the gal that is going to be I care about this my why is big enough that I’m going to overcome adversity then you realize that about yourself and it’s not giving up but it’s just definitely realigning yourself to say, I’m most comfortable working with people and so I guess I’m not going to get a degree in a deeply technical field because I don’t like being by myself working on coat, you know that kind of thing.
[Stephen] – And honestly the way the world’s going for example this one talk that I heard that I’ve based a lot of my research on is that, and COVID has pushed this even faster, is that they’re predicting in the future we’re going to need more nurses but less doctor and that we’re going to have the teladoc to do most of it and so in office right now that has five doctors is going to have all these teladocs and one doctor but they’re going to meet all the nurses to do all the hands on stuff and even that they’re taking some of that away and so the hands on.
[Alan] – You know, the dentist office, there’s one or two dentist and there’s ten, you know, hygienist and so forth exactly the I don’t know that doesn’t require a degree type stuff exactly.
[Stephen] – And that’s what they’re doing a lot of and so people that are doing hands on things, for example, again my other podcast I just talked to an author who wrote a book called Man Stuff and he’s a car dealership owner and he wrote this book for boys to teach them how to be a man, lessons on how to be a man, how to shake hands, how to tie a tie, when to hold open a door, how to set a table, how to cook a gourmet meal.
[Alan] – There’s a new book that comes along like every half generation, every 15 minutes Big Damn Book of Sheer Manliness and that’s actually I hear you.
[Stephen] – So it’s these things that hands on things that he was working on teaching the boys and those are the things that are going to get people jobs. He told a story that the one kids father had an auto repair place and the boys wanted to learn auto repair, how to change oil it’s man stuff, right? So they went and this guy is just talking and some of the other parents, fathers were like what they were astounded because he’s like well, yeah, you know, I work with my hands I get dirty, I think fix this cars, but I’m proud of it because these people need their cars and I do good work and they come back to me and he said yeah I make over a hundred thousand a year and all these other dads are like you make over a hundred thousand working on cars, you know, I went to school. I have a degree. I work in a big high-rise building and you make more money than I do and you have no degree and it’s in a dusty little garage. So again, I laughed because I said that’s kind of what the world is going to things that can be automated the hightech high end jobs that people used to do our going away and we need more of the hands on people jobs and that’s what’s going to get people money in the future.
[Alan] – I think you’re I mean, they’re boy, there’s a hundred examples of them. You know what I mean, they’re finding out that it isn’t the I think that no matter what field you’re in expertise helps, you know what I mean the cream rises to the top and so there’s all kinds of people that went in finance because he that’s where the money is but you know, if you suck at your job, you’re not going to be one of those elites you’re going to be one of the schmoes that is making their, you know, fifty k a year instead of a hundred or whatever the the level is of. There are different professions that have different media and levels but it doesn’t mean that you’re going to stand out and so you still have to have those standards of excellence those human qualities the hands on I make it that you’re easy and fun to work with not just well, he’s a necessary evil and we have to have that cog in the machine know when people come back. They look forward to working with you again. They trust you with their car. All those are things they trust you with their database. They trust you with their cake decoration. It applies in all different kinds of ways. You know, one of the things I’ve always tried to do is when I was a consultant for a long time and didn’t necessarily like ask directly for letters of recommendation, but every job that I took on I tried to say well this can be a new line for my resume and if I do really well, then it’ll be easy to have them as a reference like I said not necessarily on paper, but I have all kinds of people that I was happy to say if you want to know how what good work I do just talked to my last one and two and three jobs and the fact You can say that that there’s no blocks on your record that’s itself encouraging when you’re looking for new work that you don’t have anything to hide. You’ve got nothing but pride in what you’ve been able to do and I hope that that’s exactly you know, the people who are not shysters the people that are one of the joys of Angie’s List which we use often is finding out which contractors are good and good for their word and when they say, yes, they’ll do yes not no and they’ll try to fleece you because as a field there’s all kinds of horror stories about well the job got half done and then they ghosted they disappeared and you know, and then I had to so. I love the fact that there are it’s a consumer reports, if you will, not only for products but for people because that really matters reputation-based stuff is important. I don’t think I have had many people that would gain say almost anything that worked on I’m not always done excellent fantastic work, but I have tried and I have more than less. You know what I mean? I anyway, it’s it’s.
[Stephen] – Well that that I mean that thinking mindset and attitude, I’ve tried to instill that in all the kids and me and Gina all the kids. We’ve tried to it’s like I don’t care if you were working minimum wage. I don’t care if you’re working with what you think is the crappiest job go do a good job do it well do it as well as you can and relax and smile and enjoy it I because of that attitude will just carry over to every job if you don’t do that and pretty soon you’ll you know, your manager if you like, yeah, I need somebody to work extra but that person’s grumpy all the time I do not want to work with them and so these other people who do it good a job as they can they move up they get so instead of leaving this the I stock shelves, you know, like well, I stocked shelves but then I became a nurse should manager and then I became a lead so I was only there for a year and half but I moved up to lead and now I’m looking for a new job. Well, that sounds like you know.
[Alan] – Absolutely. You know I tell ya Colleen, you know, my wife is in retirement plans. She does, she’s a relationship manager for big clients that do their retirement plans both 401k and 403b is pretty much wage for-profit and not-for-profit at all kinds of other things and one of the things like she deals therefore with all kinds of people that are also he will be in that service industry they’re having a 401k plan is not necessarily part of the expertise, the necessity for a company if you’re making widgets your you want to be a great at making widgets and one of the necessities is you have to offer your people good benefits reasonable, you know, 401k and maybe matching and all that kind of stuff and so it’s by definition of service industry and whenever she bumps into people that aren’t that she’s like, why are you here? It doesn’t it hurt you every minute of every day to be the one that isn’t happily picking up the phone going, what can I do for you? Then instead you’re the information gatekeeper or you’re the mad dog barking at everybody like can’t you align yourself with what would be a better position for you and let somebody in who does have a service mentality make five hundred, a thousand, ten thousand people happy, you know, she’s got some big clients that have thirty thousand employees and like if you have someone at the top it’s not making it easy for thirty thousand people. What a crime that is. I mean that multiplier effect. It just it shouldn’t be that those people are sometimes where they are. Maybe they started off good and now they’ve gotten like, you know, estranged or something like that but sometimes their personality is just not suited for their work out.
[Stephen] – Yeah, and it’s you know, I see a lot and you know being an old grumpy guy you want to say it’s the the younger generation but you know, they seem very entitled. Oh this job sucks I hate this job. The kids two of our kids work at Meijer overnight stocking shelves and stuff and they say yeah, there’s this one guy he just hates it everything he does. He picks it up just throws it or if he drops something he kicks it out of the way cause he just doesn’t want to be there doesn’t like it. Well, then don’t take the job. You know, it’s not just this younger generation there’s plenty of people fifty years old that do the same thing you know?
[Alan] – So, you know, I don’t really like we we are from having been around we’ve seen, you know, generational shifts and stuff like that and to go back local we were talking about the start. I don’t know how kids are doing it nowadays to kind of keep it together optimism wise they’ve seen any number of safety nets be removed. They’ve seen it rampant greed and opportunism among some of the highest the people you want to think of as your your value leaders off the people that are trying to show you how it is to be a a decent citizen instead boy, we’ve got vast in income inequality and not just by happenstance by a very concerted effort to gain the rich get richer and richer richer and leave everybody else behind and so I could see how they’re like, how am I going to break through? How am I going to make enough to be safe and comfortable and and where’s my opportunity and so all along the lines of what job, what college, whatever else it might be. Its I can see so this is a tenuous connection. There’s some part kind of like, well don’t buy into that current system. If you know that it’s going to be nothing but I slaved away for forty-five years and then dropped in exhaustion that instead find a way to be outside of that do suck disruptive activities some disruptive tech that’s going to say I didn’t buy into work for one company and get a gold watch, that’s kind of a long-gone thing now, I used to do work in the gig economy that kept me satisfied and interested I was able to work until I found a niche that I found I was exceptionally motivated in and good at and then I concentrate on that and you know, like in this era of everybody is interconnected you have many ways that don’t involve sending a resume into a company and hope you don’t get put into the round file. There’s so many ways that things get traffic nowadays of continual kind of improving your life that I’m hoping that in ways that I don’t fully understand or can’t anticipate that they’re still wonderful things happening in that regard. We often talk to I’m into investments and so what I’m looking for things I’m not buying into the old stodgy companies that are mostly nowadays making it because they’ve amassed terrible monopoly power. They have amass they’re for lazy. They’re not hungry anymore. You want to not get the big insurance company but some place like Lemonade that is doing insurance for young people just the right amount in the right ways so that they don’t need to be I walked in and I just said how much are you going to fleece before so I can get minimal protection that people are really trying to create better ways of doing real estate and insurance and like big fields that are being disrupted. I as an older guy, I don’t know that I’m the young guys going to write that tech anymore but as I’ve kind of talked about a lot of how I invest isn’t to make money, it’s that I see the future that I want to create and I say I’ll help you all invest a little bit whatever I can do to sponsor you if you will and so I’m into all kinds of places that are a better way of communicating a better way of ensuring a better way of getting solar page instead of oil. It’s it’s nice to see that the better world can be created and that some places are going to kind of crash on the rocks, but that’s because they haven’t made a point of changing with times of understanding that this is the way the world is changing they’re going to fight it instead of embracing it and I understand the motivations, you know, that’s the whole system development learning curve and yet you gotta have creative destruction in capitalism. You have to have new things happen and old things fade away that are the buggy whips of the past you know what I mean?
[Stephen] – Right. How how many times have you dial zero to tell the operator to connect you?
[Alan] – Like that. You know what, I mean? And and sometimes I’m I’ve no I’ve read about I’ve read all kinds of futurism books if you will how technology progresses and it isn’t as you know, a nice smooth curve it’s kind of like ratchety and stair stepping that all of a sudden something will happen where hey a character on a t-show does things in a new way everybody watching that show says, yeah why in the world would I ever dial zero again? And so like, you know sales of dialing xero calls plummet because now everybody has and it’s not that’s a crappy example, cause really why that happened was she started to have phones that you didn’t have to memorize a single number you’d have to look at any it’s not the transport nowadays is you can find easily from the person that called you you all sure we have a way of calling them back and all that kind of stuff. Way long ago I did some work with General Magic Play people that had been with Apple that were making new devices and one of their big breakthroughs was how to create jobs that network of you don’t need to worry about email addresses and numbers and so forth it always had that metadata running back and forth so that, you know the first place where you want to just be able to say to your phone, call Bill in accounting and it knew who Bill in accounting was and it just humanized the whole experience. Were so much in that place now, you know, Colleen and I laugh about we still have old phone numbers and addresses in our head from when we were kids cause she had to do but.
[Stephen] – Not the new stuff.
[Alan] – Not the new stuff. People could care less what the street address is some place if all you do is put it into your GPS and at the magic takes you right to it off. So I liked a lot of that inefficiency has been forever ban you know what I mean? Colleen I still like using maps while we’re traveling because it’s fun to be able to scan on the map while we’re crossing Montana. Oh, I didn’t know that, you know x y z canyon was just thirty miles off the road. It sounds kind of cool let’s go see it. If you only have the postage stamp, you’re not necessarily going to know about that cause guiding you right to where you want to go. So there are still reasons to have somebody old ways but man the day-to-day hassle of the old ways I am very glad that it has evaporated.
[Stephen] – And everything you were just saying about that is exactly that you know, you always have every generation you have the kids, the people that don’t want to go out and push themselves. They don’t have the mindset to what could I change? What could be different? You know, they even may think oh that’s too big but you always have those that say, you know what I can do this and I’m going to do this, you know, and another thing we talked about that lady who when she was sixteen flew to Europe to be with the Beatles and Scotland Yard was trying to track her down and when she came back to Cleveland she got rock and roll band, which I’m still trying to get a hold of her, I want to get her so we can talk to her but one of the things she said was you know, what for the rest of my life cause she’s like in her seventies now thought nothing scared her she wasn’t afraid to just quit a job to go somewhere else or move or whatever because I flew to Europe and followed the Beatles when I Was sixteen and no money. I got rock and roll banned in a whole city. If that doesn’t build some confidence in you then, you know, nothing will and I and we talked about before that’s one of the things I see is we take all that away from our kids. We don’t tell them to climb the tree because we don’t want to get hurt, well that transfers to them they’re afraid to get hurt so they don’t climb a tree. You know, my kids like well, I don’t know and like I just climate you’ll be fine a branch is won’t break or anything of course I don’t mention you you could fall, you know, but so they have of confidence to do it and now they’ll go climb a tree and they’re not afraid to you know? Colin’s a great example.
[Alan] – I hear you a great example, Okay, no go please.
[Stephen] – He’s a great example. He was going to college now he’s not. He’s been writing stories and sending them out to try and get into the comic book market. He is working with the local store owner they’re going to hopefully open a game store and he’s just like, yeah, we’re open a game store and I’m going to run it. How many nineteen-year-olds go, yeah I’m just open a game store and run it.
[Alan] – Honestly, that’s fantastic. You know that that wonderful boldness I mean that is you know, their fortune favors the bold so much of what, boy I just have like a thousand quotes I want to throw in here, you know, there’s I know that there’s a great quote that says: he size of your world of the size of your courage, you know, when I was ten years out of college and working and I started to hear from my friends in Chicago, you know, we live in Glen Ellyn and we kind of don’t go into the city anymore because it’s scary and like Chicago has a million things that you should be going in to do. It’s got this festival, this concert, and this the lakefront, Chicago itself and the first time you hear someone telescope their life down because oh no crime, oh no traffic it’s like but but it’s trade-offs it’s not a yes no. It’s not a litmus test and I don’t know, you know when someone gets scared of driving when someone gets scared of there’s all kinds of things that you know, their courage is what’s going to make it so that yes, I can go to Europe and not have a plan change but I know that I have the ability to find a place to sleep. I have a credit card. I have I think on my feet I’m not going to be the the most ripped off least person. I’m not gonna be the most endangered person. I can tell when a neighborhood is getting seedy like the the way you get those muscles is cause you exercise them. You know I mean? you do it. Colleen and I any number of times, you know, I don’t need a lot of why we love traveling is because it’s a combination of I know we got a place to stay tonight but until then here’s my spreadsheet of all the things we might do and if we happen to see a cool mini golf castle I’m pulling off, you know what I mean?
[Stephen] – I blow Gina’s mind cause I’ll put on the calendar, like pencil things in, and I get them from Facebook, I get home from the library, from the local community events or whatever and she look at the calendar and go, what are these twenty things for Saturday? What are we doing? I’m like, oh, I don’t know what do you want to do exactly? I don’t know you planned all this stuff. No. No. No, I just put it on there if we like doing that we can but it’s not a big deal and she’s like but there’s like twenty things on here. We can’t do all this. Right pick the one you want you know, I mean, I do the same thing that cracks me up.
[Alan] – Exactly. What’s fun is that a lot of times we will have I’ll have the same thing I’ll have multiple possibilities and will say well, let’s pick the one but sometimes it’s like boy, there’s like three things we really want to do if we just do a little bit of coordination we can do ten to twelve and one to four and six to ten and we can get it all done and it might be that will kind of drop exhaust at the end of the day, but we will have, you know seen the mammoth and seen the balloons go up and we will have eaten at this great place else is doing a little bit of not just take the easy route you know what I mean?
[Stephen] – Absolutely. So you’re not going to lie on your deathbed and go, man I really shouldn’t have went to see those things.
[Alan] – Yeah. Yeah. And so there’s a certain amount also of I don’t know there’s so many maybe again, you know kind of pablum type quotes of you know, jump off the cliff and your grow wings on the way down.
[Stephen] – That’s my favorite.
[Alan] – You know, I just there’s something to be said for you have to exercise your self-confidence. You have to exercise your ability to say I can think on my feet. There’s any number of people that have succeeded when they didn’t know what they were doing until they were in the middle of it and even if I fail look how much I’ve learned in failing that that there aren’t this isn’t a permanent thing I’m not going to jail because I failed I might have like well I’m down money that week and I might have to eat ramen instead of you know what I mean? It’s there’s a a reason to exercise your sense of proportion you know? Boy, I’ve had so many discussions with people about risk management over the years and their risk management thing almost seems to be look how awful it could get we have to prevent that at all costs. It’s like it’s not at all cost you look at what it would take to recover from that you look at how much you’re willing to pay to prevent it, but it’s all probabilities and money and numbers. It’s not let’s talk about how bad it might be and then do whatever is necessary to never let that happen very like and you know playing with investing it isn’t about am I a smarty? Do I have futuristic prediction abilities? So much of it is just risk versus reward and you have to be able to take on a certain amount of risk of uncertainty not knowing what the future will hold to get reasonable reward and it’s not just investing it’s in everything in life when you’re like looking for a loved one you know what I mean? I’m going to go to this place and is it a happy hunting ground for me. I’m going to meet someone and they seem to be good. But you have to put yourself out there in invulnerability and honesty and in service to say I might get bashed in the face because I misread are they quality person. Do they will they like me equally? All that kind of stuff but the reward is high and so again risk management not worried about that it’s what’s the potential for this and I don’t think that that’s just happy talk so much in my life I can remember times where as like I know I’m going in seeking this really good thing or try to and try to shave off the worst of the risks that’s the point of having insurance. That’s the point of you know, getting yourself physically fit so you’re not going to be the one to collapses on the trail, you know what I mean? If you’re going to climb,what’s the place in Yosemite with the chains? Not Old Faithful, of course doesn’t matter, you know, you have to do a little bit of preparation to say off am I pie-in-the-sky about this or am I capable? Have I given myself a good shot at doing this, you know, when you’re going to be a championship boxer it isn’t about that, you know, ten three minute rounds it’s the six months of training you put in to say I’m not going to be the guy that flags I’m going to be as fresh in third rounds as I am in the first cause I ran five hundred miles on the streets of Philadelphia, or whatever else I might be, you know?
[Stephen] – Actually that right there a fits in with everything we’ve just been saying for the last half-hour, you know, you don’t know if you’re a win that boxing match or not you you might lose so to win you’ve got to prepare and if you prepare or if you know, you’ve worked your hardest you’ve done everything in your confidence going into that boxing match as much higher, you know, you’re going to win cuz you have prepare, you know, it goes right back to everything else we’ve been saying with the kids and everything else.
[Alan] – It’s El Capitan, by the way that’s the place.
[Stephen] – El Capitan. Okay.
[Alan]- You know have we talked about this before? I just love that by that meaning I know, I know it and then it won’t come to me right away so we start talking about other things but and somebody in my mind is going through the files and they’re like, they pull it out and they say hey and then in and luckily, you know, there’s that conversation on the staircase that that ghost on the staircase of after the party’s over you remember, oh I should have said that it would have been so funny instead of having it be like a two-hour thing for me it seems to be like a 20-second refresh for me often times it’ll pop out in real time. It’s like well that is just so freaking handy I can’t tell you what not win on Jeopardy because you’ve lost that 15-second opportunity but in the real world it’s very cool to be able to say, oh, yeah, by the way it was Tom Hanks in that one movie and that and that who knows that’s some part of me but an unconscious part of me, that’s like I’ll work on that you take you keep going with your conversation I’ll get back to you. I loved that my brain can do that, that it multitasks and like boinks it up for me.
[Stephen] – Mine tends to be like analysis of things but it takes a little longer instead of the triva or page of facts or remember telling specific it’ll be some analysis and literally there have been many times where up to a week later you know, I’ll be talking to GIna, oh by the way and blah blah blah and she’s like wait, what are we talking about? Like, do you remember when we talked about this and we did this? She’s like, yeah. So this and she’s like if you’ve been thinking about this the whole time like, well not consciously think about it.
[Alan] – Yeah but my mind is working on it was all in the background and then here it is all done. You know what I mean?
[Stephen] – Actually been helping me with my writing because there’ll be a part of the book that just doesn’t feel right and I’ll just let it go and then a couple of days later, I’ll come, oh, this is what I need to do and I fix this and and it makes it much better so I’ve discovered sometimes I just got to move on and do something else for awhile.
[Alan] – Yes again there, you know, I like to read habits of like wonderful famous brilliant people and so you could I acquire those myself so when you read about that’s what Isaac Asimov would do when he got stuck on a page he would like not sit there until blood came out of his forehead he’d go to a movie he’d go for a walk and he would count on he knows that his brain does all that cool analysis and multitasking in the background and he come back and like a solution had presented itself and some people might call it your muse or you know, where did that come from? But when that happens 20 times in a row you get I don’t care where it comes from I care that it works so I love that too that I’ve had things that I was working on writing or coding or whatever else it might be and then all of a sudden like the light bulb goes on and it’s like I don’t know where that comes from but thanks again universe how cool, you know?
[Stephen] – We just chatted a little bit about this at times, you know, if there are other dimensions ever are there places where are dimensions closer? Are we really receiving that info from somewhere else? Cause I’ve told people they’re like well, how did how did you think of that and I’m like, I really didn’t I might it was like I was looking in a part of the veil and looked into another world and I’m just writing down what they were doing you know, it’s like it’s already there or what was it? One of the famous sculptors they said well, that’s a beautiful statue how do you ever picture? He’s like, it was always there I just brought it out.
[Alan] – Exactly. I moved every part of it that wasn’t the horse you know what I mean that exactly I’ve made jokes about you know, where’d you come up with that? Well, I talked to Al 616, you know from an alternate dimension and actually I think six one six is our home to dimension.
[Stephen] – I was going to tell you to say that.
[Alan] – I knew you’d know that. I knew it. It’s the coolest thing in the world. I’ve often when I talk about guidebooks I’ll put I’ll put like, you know, I’m talking in Cincinnati and then I kind of do that expanding outwards viewers like Cincinnati in Ohio in the USA life on Earth on Earth 616. Oh well, so I think that it’s cool. One of the things that I’ve always liked about Mensa was that they have often multi-generational talks when I first showed up in my first mentioned meetings, this would have been like a mid seventies and then I really want to wait for a while, but then I came back in the early nineties and it was just very cool to be able to talk to someone fifty years my senior, but they’re all they’re wonderfully mentally crisp and they’ve got life under their belt they were still playful and whatever else it might be and so I guess I always thought well, maybe I’ll be one of those guys that’s approachable enough that even though I’m sixty they’re not going to say, oh, you know, he’s I don’t know crush the old man or whatever but what I’ve also noticed unfortunately is some part of the generations nowadays they actually do a whole bunch of self labeling and self-containment and instead of being you know, they have their own problems and they’re going to solve them on their own there’s less of the multi-generational thing going on at Mensa and I really miss that. I really miss being able to have a conversation that we have so much humanity shared together. It’s not only about what TV shows did you watch growing up in the references that you might get there so much I don’t know that I have wisdom, but at least have experience I have things that I’d be happy to share and in a funny way so that it’s not let me be the Commodore and bash you over the head with it back in my day this is how it had it done, I think that sometimes that’s one of the wonderful things about online world is off instead of it being that there’s obvious signs of I don’t want to sit the old guy at the young people table nor do they want to sit with me but online and nobody knows you’re a dog, if you will, and just log and and we’ve left about language. You know what I mean? I don’t know that I am I’m very playful with language I’m a loving watching the history of swear words, you know.
[Stephen] – Oh I want to watch that. It looks really good.
[Alan] – But so much of it is you learn to just be able to speak enough of their language that you don’t immediately come across as like stilted and too formal and old and whatever else it might be and then there’s the opportunity for I don’t know communication at least and maybe for sharing maybe and really becoming friends and I that’s part of the reason that I really embrace online stuff nowadays is that I think I have met lots of friends from multiple generations and I haven’t turned them off yet because all I do is talk about that old chevy that I loved, you know what I mean? I’m pretty young in terms of the computing that I do or the shows that I watch or maybe I maybe that’s a geekery thing is that if you’re always interested in new tech, that means that you’re kind of current in some at least something at least something, you know what I mean, so.
[Stephen] – You know saying that, that’s kind of what drove Colin out of the whole cryptozoology field cause he was doing a podcast he was going to talks he was writing books.
[Alan] – We came to one near Akron that I saw at the library. It was really good job.
[Stephen] – And you know, but there was some people like he’s a kid he doesn’t know anything and and literally he did a talk at the Mothman festival had a booth set up at the Mothman festival and then they had a panel of the speakers and they literally told him no you can’t be on it. Wait a second. Yeah. Yeah and you know, so it’s kind of like well screw all you guys and there were some people that said what are you guys doing? You know, we’re not going to live forever this is the next generation. They need encouragement not discouragement.
[Alan] – Yeah don’t you want to pass the torch off eventually? Don’t you want to be encouraging the next generation? Sure.
[Stephen] – You know, but yeah, I mean I’ve gone and sat down and I talked to Bill before I even knew he was a writer, you know, I was just chatting with him, you know, and he’s what twenty-five years older than me or so, you know.
[Alan] – He does great work. His Ian Douglas book is great.
[Stephen] – So and I also talked to the kids that are teens are often, especially the 20, you know, once they’re out of their teens, sometimes they open up a little more and want to talk. Teens still sometimes look at you like, eh you don’t know anything either because like, you know.
[Alan] – They’re suspicious like you know, why is an old guy hanging around obviously please don’t be a prev. You know that kind of stuff. I’m not a prev I promise, you know.
[Stephen] – Many times I’ve been in the hospitality room at a table with people ten twenty years older than me and ten twenty years younger than me all having a good conversation.
[Alan] – Exactly. I really do still love that and that I guess maybe not so much at regional gatherings where there still is a wonderful mixture cause there’s one hospitality room, but one of the things I’ve noticed is that you know Mensa has its annual gatherings and nowadays they have sweets, they have sweets for you know, hell zens, Gen X, Gen Y, Fire House, Gacig etc and after a while people like hang out there all the time and don’t even come to a hospitality anymore so that wonderful, mingling and admixture it just doesn’t happen as readily and I don’t know maybe because I’m associated with pretentious drinking I’m often welcomed in various different sweets because I’m the one that helped them pick out what to drink.
[Stephen] – Really it’s part of your branding you know.
[Alan] – Welcomed as much as I’m allowed, you know what I mean, really is something about they want to have it be that there’s no, I’m not a dissident element, but I’m older fellow and if what they think they want, if a lot of some part of mensa of course is dating it’s a happy hunting ground and there really were some crappy mensaions that were unaware of maybe ou shouldn’t be asking a twenty-year-old out when you’re seventy, you know what I mean, shouldn’t be hugging for too long, but there’s not that many of them like any group I’m sure that happens in the Elks and the you know what I mean and a football game and stuff like that, but having said that I get that this this is the most ridiculous thing to ever share I at one point I guess I was being talked about as they you know, who’s this Al guy? Always wears orange. There’s this guy named the orange man in New Jersey or something like that and like he’s creepy, is this that guy? The benediction they gave me was oh, no, Al he’s not at all creepy. So thank you whoever said that I try not to be at all a creepy.
[Stephen] – Al, not creepy needs to be a tshirt.
[Alan] – Not at all creepy. Exactly but that’s just what a creep would say though, you know.
[Stephen] – That would be something you should have done when you were trying, you know, dating and all that, you know, I’m not creepy that would go over well at speed-dating. I’m sure.
[Alan] – You know as a post load if you will one of the things that’s funny is so I’ve been a Mensa for a long time so have many other Mensaions when you get that early thing, I think Gen X was the first group that really said we want to get rid of the creepy old guys and kind of you know, protect our women and funny give them about twenty-five years and they’re the creepy old guy’s now* that I wonder if they’re feeling that same weirdness of you know, like are you getting labeled with with no reality behind it but the group wants to keep it young men and women to themselves if you will and and they’re getting their ones that are getting shunted off to the side. I don’t know that I just know that that generational shift is one of the things that I wish wasn’t as strong as it is sometimes because it separates that it helps me. I miss I miss those wonderful multi-generational things of I get to learn from the youth and I get to learn from the elder and they get to learn from me and just thought, oh well.
[Stephen] – Well, I mean part of it could be trying to get more younger people involved because that’s always a struggle to do that.
[Alan] – And I could see that, you know when a young person comes to a dinner and it’s eighty percent older people and they’re talking about like their health problems and insurance and what they want to talk about is music and you know D&D and stuff like that, I can see how I’m just not going back. Those are not not my tribe. I don’t have, I don’t fit in there easily.
[Stephen] – And I think who knows things will change, you know, not nobody’s been to a good RG or AG for a year so when we get back it will be like a all new reboot, you know, I know Colin is spoken at an RG, you know, we need more encouragement of some of these kids to maybe do a talk and again goes back to what we were talking about earlier, you know the ones that would go and do a talk are the same ones that are go start at eighteen finding all the things they can do on their phone so they don’t have to go work at the pizza place or whatever.
[Alan] – Exactly. That’s gotta be one of those like defining characteristics, you know what I mean? For so many people public speaking is up there with death in terms of their fear and if you’re someone they can just say I know this pretty well. I’m able to think on my feet. Sure. I’ll give a talk think of how much of an edge that gives you on eighty, ninety percent of the world of the people that just can’t even imagine myself doing it. I’ve I glib and self-confident ever since probably like high school when I was in debate, you know what I mean? I mean, I did you why did I go into debate? Cause I was already good at it. It’s it’s been one of those skills that has served me really well in the rest of my life is I just don’t have any fear of public speaking.
[Stephen] – And you know, you said earlier fortune favors the bold. I mean I got my first job big network admin job kind of by bluffing my way into it at the start. I literally I knew enough to know I could do the job which is important. You can’t just bluff without knowing anything.
[Alan] – Know why. Exactly.
[Stephen] – Exactly. I didn’t know all the networking stuff as well at that time I mean, it was Windows 3 1 so, you know off and I literally was talking to someone on Monday so Friday to Sunday night I read networking for dummies.
[Alan] – And learn all about ethernet.
[Stephen] – Exactly and got the job but again, then it built well heck I know I can be an admin I know I can do this and that so the next thing is not as scary goes back once again to everything we were just saying earlier.
[Alan] – You know, it’s a certain amount of this has been talking about confident and so forth I think there’s also a reason to have good self assessment and maybe humility. I think I’m seeing people I know a lot of people are willing to speak in public that don’t have anything to say. I’ve been in improv groups where they are so hungry for the spotlight, so hungry for stage time that they get up there and back nine times out of ten they’re line isn’t good it doesn’t move the scene forward, it doesn’t it’s not funny et cetera et cetera, and so after a while you have to be you know, I don’t want to be too neurotic person that needs the spot light so much that everybody kind of wences when you step up and grab the mic cause they know nothing good is going to happen. I want to be the one that when I take the mic they’re like, okay, I was pretty witty too so he’ll be okay.
[Stephen] – Right back to the Dunning-Kruger effect that we’ve talked about several times.
[Alan] – Boy howdy, when your bad at things you don’t even know how bad you are things because that’s how bad you are things, you know.
[Stephen] – You know that meme, you know that a relative that’s always obnoxious at parties and no one likes to be around well, if you don’t know who that is, it’s probably you.
[Alan] – Proably you, exactly.
[Stephen] – All right, man. Hey looks like we’ve made up everybody’s time for a while this week.
[Alan] – I hear ya. I think we got to like one tenth of what we said we were going to talk about that’s often the case, you know, we make connections and kind of go. So Happy New Year.
[Stephen] – Happy New Year. I definitely want to hear about some of your culinary adventures cause we’ve been making a push on some things this year too.
[Alan] – I hear you, you know, eating healthier. We’re making better breads that will really might focus on that next time.
[Stephen] – Let’s make that number one next week so we might actually get to it.
[Alan] – Exactly. Very good. Okay. Take care of Steven always a pleasure. All right.
[Stephen] – All right. Later Al.
[Alan] – Bye, bye.
[Outro] – You have been listening Relentless Geekery podcast. Come back next week to join Alan and Stevens conversation on topics of the week.