Friday, February 8, 2013

Random thoughts are never random.

I just read a story about how Microsoft is ramping up a second go at ads that mock Google services in favor of Microsoft services. It made me smile. Microsoft, it seems to me, is the opposite of kindness. I understand that corporate America is not built on a model of kindness, but it should be. Microsoft is the angry, scared bully who is upset that things aren't going its way. And so, it lashes out and tries to make someone else look bad. It's a foolish strategy and an unkind one. It is also problematic in that when someone or some company spends its energy attacking someone else or another company, they are blind to the problems that they have. In essence, Microsoft is acting like a helpless victim here. We can't change, they are saying, so these other guys must be keeping us down. It's bad strategy in the long-run. Hell, it's bad strategy in the short run. No ad campaign is going to get me to stop using Gmail. Only a better alternative will.

In other tech news, Google bigwig Eric Schmidt is going to sell a couple billion dollars worth of stock soon. I can't imagine what it would be like to be worth billions of dollars. What does one do with that kind of money? I imagine that a lot of it would be reinvested in other companies or in efforts to do big things. I wonder what it would be like to take a couple billion dollars and go giving it out to schools. Seems like it would be really fun. Then again, I bet schools would find some way not to take the money. So it goes.

A boy's picture, taken outside the Department of Education in Washington D.C., has him holding a sign that testing is not learning. I like that. I like the message and that a kid was holding it. His message also said something about kids not being products. Go figure.

I'm working on an essay describing how we should model schools after families instead of corporations. I'd rather have my kids' school be an extension of our family than of the Microsoft Corporation. Sheesh.

My friend Carol accidentally broke her streak on at something like 525 days. Think about that streak for a moment. She started writing on the third of September in 2011 and kept at it every day until yesterday. That's a long time to keep doing anything.

When I saw that she had broken her streak, I was sad for her, but she seems sanguine about it. Here's the thing with writing: even if you miss a day, it's still there waiting. When the power goes out, pen and paper still work. When there's no paper, a writer can write on their hand, up their arm, and down each leg. Writing doesn't stop. It goes on.

The other day, on a whim, seeing an invitation to submit my name to go to the White House for the State of the Union, I clicked through and wrote why I would like to be accepted into the program. Yesterday I received word that I had been accepted. Today I got permission to miss work and found a hotel. Monday afternoon, I'll be driving down to D.C. for an adventure.

Tuesday morning I'll be touring the White House. Then Tuesday evening, I will sit with a bunch of others who have been invited, in an auditorium where we will watch the President speak, and then after that we will get to participate in a discussion with some of the White House staff.

If you're trying to compare things, this is like getting 40-yard-line tickets to the Super Bowl.

I wonder if I'll be allowed to help edit the speech. Probably not. Still, it ought to be pretty cool. Pretty cool indeed.

It's snowing outside and snowing for real in New England. I like snow. It changes everything. It makes the world softer. It makes it tough to get around which is good reason not to get around. Snow makes me feel like a child again. Each flake of snow is like a letter in a long sentence. Those sentences pile into paragraphs which pile into stories. I like reading the story of winter, soft, perfect evening snowflake story of winter. Snowflakes, especially taken one at a time, seem impossibly kind the way they brush the skin and gather to form a soft white coat.

Each flake is different, but nothing is random. I don't believe it is anyway. Every flake has a history just like every word in the story as we, through the cold winter's night, write on.