You are NOT Alone!
I just (re)watched the 80's movie The Last Starfighter. This is a movie about a teen growing up in a trailer park who masters a video game and finds himself being actively recruited to be in a Space Force to save the Earth against an alien invasion. He had this sneaking suspicion that there was something more out there that he was meant for, but not yet experiencing. This is how I think about FOMO (fear of missing out). For me, it’s not being left out of a social gathering, but rather a sneaking suspicion that there is somewhere else I am supposed to be. Perhaps, it is a place that I have never been before, with people I don't yet know. As I write this, it sounds crazy, I know, but it is impossible to think that there aren't many more people in the world that I need/want to meet. Thus far, I have found many incredible people and places on my journey, but maybe I have merely scratched the surface. In this week's Loupe, we explore the process of looking for something more.
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
I often feel something and don't have the perfect word or way of expressing it. Other languages, particularly German, often do a better job of expressing a nuanced feeling with a single word. A perfect example is Fernweh, which describes the feeling of wanting to be somewhere else. I can't think of a synonym in English, and this is a feeling I often have! Friends/family, don't get paranoid --- it's not you, it's me! Finally, someone has taken this challenge and gone about creating words with similar such nuanced meanings for the English language. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language — to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a defining word. In it are such gems as Vemödalen which means ... n. The frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist—the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip, the same closeup of an eye—which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself. Wow, I have felt this emotion frequently! It is almost like an Urban Dictionary for emotions, and I love it! The print edition will be released sometime in the future, and, lucky for all of us, new words are added frequently.
I am always looking for games to play with my hilarious family. All great games engage the audience, as well as foster thinking and creativity. A fringe benefit is keeping others (especially my kids) off of social media and connected to their immediate surroundings, uhm me. We typically play Broken Telephone or I Went on a Picnic, but these don't require full attention or hold the audience for long. Therefore, when I discovered Psych, I was, well, Psyched! It utilizes the beloved smartphone and requires thinking and creativity ... a win/win. There are a variety of subjects, but the game will ask participants to provide an answer to a question. These answers will be assembled along with the correct answer. The object of the game is to both guess the right answer and to get others to guess your wrong answer, hence the name Psych. My favorite module in Psych, appropo to the Dictionary above, is definitions of obscure words whereby Psych will provide a definition, and you have to make up a fake word that others think is the correct one. I wonder what word I would have made up instead of Vemödalen??? It is great fun and will captivate the audience (of all ages)!
Did you ever have the sneaking suspicion, or dormant fear, that something may be wrong with you? Well, I know quite a few people who do and won't name any names... Nonetheless, I received a disturbing email from my Dad's cousin who said she has a gene mutation that increases the likelihood of getting rare cancers. She wasn't sure whether it came from her mother's side (a problem for me) or father's side (not a problem). I called my doctor's office and asked if I could get a genetic test for this variant, and they came back with quite a steep price. I turned to my trusty Internet and found Color. It is in the same family as 23&Me and Ancestry.com, but has a distinct orientation towards genetic predispositions to health issues, particularly cancer and heart disease. Fellow Louper Mindy G. rightly warns that all genetic testing should be done under the supervision of a counselor (resources available on Basser.org), especially concerning BRCA. But, I needed a quick answer on a very specific genetic question. I have spit in a provided test tube, and the results should be forthcoming ... no matter what, information is power!
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
I was a technology banker in the heady days of Dotcom 1.0. I attended the H&Q Technology Conference at the tony Sun Valley ski resort in 1999. I was a lowly Associate, and our bank (Chase) had just closed on its shiny new purchase of the technology investment bank H&Q, a sure sign of a market top! What I noticed there was hubris; young people walking around with a superior attitude that replaced experience. I indeed recognize that a little bit of chutzpah is necessary to challenge incumbents, but this was next level. It truly was an alternate universe. Fast forward 20 years to 2009 when Theranos began, and its founder was a Stanford dropout/wunderkind Elizabeth Holmes. The main difference of overpromising, in this case, was Theranos was operating in a highly regulated business. Despite being a libertarian, I accept the fundamental premise that medical devices are highly regulated because people's lives depend upon accuracy. Further, consumers are not in a position to educate themselves sufficiently to make an informed decision absent government regulation. So when this company is making decisions that negatively impact their customers, even potentially hurt them, a red (Blood?) line has been crossed. She not only hurt patients (inexcusable), but also hurt employees, whistleblowers, and sophisticated investors having raised (and lost) over $1bn! It is a cautionary tale and one every startup investor should read! Her fate hasn't yet been determined, but the movie is already in the making!