Where’s my asteroid?

A popular theory has it that a massive asteroid or comet strike 65 million years ago had a negative impact on many dinosaur species at the time.  One could say their entire DNA lines were laid off– permanently.

I’m starting to feel like a dinosaur myself, and frequently looking over my shoulder just in case.

You see, I was born to be a product nut.  It doesn’t even matter what the product is.  Software, hardware, wetware, firmware… I just love to be in the thick of the development process.  The closer I am to invention of some sort, the happier I am.  I’ve even invented a few things but so far none has made it to market.

That worked fine for over a decade.  I spent seven amazing years in Texas Instruments former Defense Systems and Electronics Group (DSEG) and even after TI sold the division and sent me packing, I was able to find similar work (with Boeing) very quickly.  And later on, as my career took some interesting twists and turns, I managed to stay close to product development in some form or fashion.

But when my engineering administrative position at The Stanley Works was eliminated, I saw the writing on the wall.  A large part of our operations had been sent out of the United States– including not just manufacturing but research and development as well!  If R&D was so easily disposed, I realized at the time, then anything is possible.

So I performed the investigative work necessary for the newly unemployed and identified two viable US industries: healthcare and logistics.  I worked in the former courtesy of Medtronic for a while but then landed my dream job: quality assurance in a Nokia factory.  I couldn’t believe my good fortune!  True, the operations were mostly final packaging and delivery, but products were involved, and so was logistics!  I was sure I had finally found the rest of my career.

Unfortunately, as regular readers here already know, that dream died in November 2008.  Now here I am, aging dinosaur product nut, looking at the fading frames of mega dinosaurs like GM and wondering if there will ever be much of a future in this country for product nuts to come.  Or are we just biding time until our asteroid arrives?

It’s in the DNA, you see, this unstoppable drive to create.  My father had it.  So did his.  And my young sons are similarly cursed.  So what will they do with that overwhelming urge?  Will we wise up as people and find some sort of balance between profit and sustainability?  Or will my kids also find themselves at the mercies of great lurching markets with only short term allegiances to the next day’s dollar?

The ironic part of the dinosaur extinction with which I led off is that it was preceded by an even bigger extinction event around 200 million years ago… that in turn was followed by the largest expansion of species in the fossil record.  The same sort of catastrophic events that can come close to wiping a planet clean are also the engines of creation that, through the big changes they introduce, spark new diversity and opportunities… paving the way for something completely different.

Maybe there’s hope for the future product nuts in that example… but here’s hoping they don’t have to deal with so large a change agent.  😉


3 responses to “Where’s my asteroid?

  1. Dinosaurs did not die off…they took a massive hit then reinvented themselves as birds, more agile and adaptable, and took over another space where none had yet exploited… the sky was the limit.

  2. Joseph Charpak

    You could always open a restaurant. Lots of creation there 🙂

  3. You’re right, DL, and that reinvention is alluded to in my article.

    And good point Joseph! Except that I’m reluctant to start up any service-type enterprise that provides something people can easily do themselves.


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