First Posted 10-Jan-2015
The first version of this published this morning. Last night, as I worked on it, and this morning, this thought stuck to me, that some bad ideas are incredibly pernicious. They stick around through generations. My GrandDad’s core belief that he could find nirvana in an invention he could patent and the patent would sell for millions is one of those. He died with that core belief proving to be false. He died broke. In the last month his core belief, his wish, has come back from the grave to haunt me and my family again. We thought it had died with him and as we grieved his passing, also exhaled a bit of relief that the unfulfilled promise would no longer infest our lives. Apparantly not.
If you follow me on Facebook you’ll know that someone pitched an idea to me. It was a version of the “I’ll create/invent/make something that will sell huge and make me rich!” dream. It’s not an impossible dream. It happens enough that there is a pretty big crowd of folk chasing it. Those that do, good on them. We need those outliers also, the ones crazy enough to dream and crazier still to pursue the dream, fail most of the time but succeed enough that the world is made better. I applaud those who do succeed.
I’m kin to one that died believing he had failed. The family has stories about why he failed, most of them related to a fatal flaw of this line of Webbs. We are right. We know the best way to do something. What the world is supposed to do is do it exactly the way we said, without deviation. The world needs to accept that we are right and do as we told them to. We spend a lot of time being frustrated. The world, people, have a way of being dissonant, of reliably failing to do it right, do it the way we said they are supposed to do it. Folk do stuff that causes cognitive dissonance for us. They get it wrong.
For my GrandDad, it had to be fruit fried in oil in a vacuum using a specific technique. As long as folk, the world did it his way, cooked fruit in canola oil in a vacuum, there would be no starving children in Africa and the world would know peas. This week, as I write, a half-dozen or so folk are dead because some extremists sought to avenge an offense against Allah by committing murder. I’ve talked about why this is wrong in previous posts so I won’t repeat myself here. But, the world has not known peas or peace. There are starving children in Africa. Vacuum fried fruit is a quaint idea of a silly old man who died in the 1990’s. Vacuum dried fruit is made, though using a variant process involving specialized microwave ovens. As long as we insist on the world conforming to our “supposed to be’s”, we’ll experience angst as my Granddad did.
If you are kin to someone like my Granddad who believes that they are going to score big you get weary of the next big idea which is really going to do it this time. The cynicism that builds each time he or she starts laying out the latest scheme is hard to overcome. Each time the rant starts, that this idea is the one, this one is really going to do it, this project will be huge, there is an overwhelming urge to reply, “whatever.” Vacuum drying fruit isn’t a bad idea. It is how there is crunchy fruit in some breakfast cereals. A stubborn insistence on a dogmatic compliance to a specific orthodoxy is a core belief, an idea, destined for frustration. It’s almost a surety that God’s creation will rebel in some way. The many iterations of “if they’d just understand, just do it my way, we’d all be better” that was part of my Granddad’s identity, kept him from the success he desperately sought.
So, when I get pitched this idea that I could be rich from a patent lawsuit it triggers all that old bad family stuff I thought was buried with my Granddad. Instead of exciting me it frightens and depresses me. I talked to my uncle before turning down the idea of suing the government for patent infringement based on the premise that my granddad was never paid royalties for patents he held related to the manufacture of heavy water. We probably have a case, may even succeed with it. But . . . it’s just this side of the sort of insane we get from other family members that instead of exciting us it just pisses us off. We’ve had enough of that. It’s good for us that some of the manic chase for wealth died with my granddad.