Museum of Science and Industry visit today completely and utterly Kicked Ass. Reasons: (1) The MSI rocks. (2) The company was awesome - Tank, Nikki, and Chris. (3) Whoa, people at the museum are excited about OLPC - to make a long story short, we got invited back to help with a workshop tomorrow. This was completely unplanned. Turns out that sometimes having the chutzpah to introduce yourselves to cool strangers works quite well.

I promised a recap of what I got out of my conversation with Andy, but it's proven to be hard to verbalize coherently. Behold, a babble of cliches. It's mostly a list of things I needed to be reminded of.

You can rewire yourself consciously.
Not necessarily directly - you're not a computer. But you can think about how you're thinking and how you could change things so that you'd think differently, if you want to think differently. You can, at the very least least, modify your environment so that it makes you more of the kind of person you want to become.

Don't reinvent step 1. Invent step 51. In other words, under many circumstances, a good strategy is this: if the wheel's been made, model it, learn from it, and then decide how you can improve it.

If you want to be like other people, try doing it. "Oh, I wish I could do X like Y!" Okay, so how does Y do X? What is she thinking? What his he doing and how did he learn? Why does she do that? Can I make my body go through the same motions, make the same words come from my mouth? (Note: this can be awkward. If so, tell other people what you're trying to do so they know why you're being ridiculous.) (Other note: I'm somewhat better at hugs now. Not Chandra Little great, but... at least the visible flinching is dialing down.)

Sometimes (often) the right thing to do is to suck it up and be a leader. I've been unfair to my team this summer because I - consciously and often - chose to put my finger on my nose and stand back and hope that someone else would step up and Do Stuff. Also, I would do this without saying so. The implementation of such can best be described as letting go of the steering wheel but forgetting to get out of the driver's seat.

I'm fortunate enough to have awesome teammates who can save our collective asses repeatedly and do fantastic things despite my many failings in this (and other) areas. Only recruit people better than you, right? And I don't just mean "more skilled." (Perhaps this is why I teach well - I believe that my students are better than I am, and that my job is to get them to realize that and live up to it - and I also set high standards for myself. Combining the three means that when things work, they far surpass me and I'm incredibly proud and happy about it.)

Anyway, it's not fair for me to get people excited and have them sign on and then not give them a direction to head in. It's not fair to leave people hanging (something I have not fixed completely, probably never will fix completely, but am trying to more rapidly asympote towards). I owe it to my team to be a better version of myself than I've been. As Nikki put it, "even if you weren't leading us, we were following you."

Important: note the phrase "a leader," not "the leader." Others can and do step up, but I should too. Also note that leader != boss xor manager. I justify much of my wobbly-spinedness by saying "well, I didn't want to be a dictator, take too much control, prevent people from doing what they wanted and taking initiative, etc." - and when I'm in top fooling-myslf form, I can make that argument sound really good - but I'm sure this is just a good cover-up excuse for other more cowardly reasons.

One of them is that It's kinda lonely up there. Loneliness is an incredibly powerful Kryptonite for me - yes, more so than hugs - and I'm not always strong enough to do what I should do in the face of that. I would rather have friends than admirers. Having friends is such a precious thing that, in its name, I'm willing to hurl myself off pedestals and actively destroy that admiration - all this unconsciously, except for very rare cases of hindsight (like this one). I shouldn't have to do that, and I shouldn't do that. One can admire one's friends. (God knows I do that all the time.) One can simultaneously admire and be frustrated by one's friends. That's okay.

Pet rats are awesome. All right, this one's from Erica. Their little paws tickle! And they're adorable, and inquisitive, and... oh, would that I could trust myself to be responsible enough to take care of a pet! (Caring for a rat is way more realistic than a beagle puppy, but still beyond my ability to handle right now.)