What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

This story is inspired by my husband, Fred. He could always look at the most complicated situations and boil them down to a simple solution. I concluded it was because he never grew up, and he never stopped asking questions.

In the United States we have a Bring Your Child To Work Day. One of Fred’s salesmen brought his daughter in for the day. Fred found her sitting in a cubical, at an empty desk. As he loved children, he engaged in conversation. After asking her three or four questions, with suggestions of what she might like to be when she grew up, she replied, “I don’t know. What do you want to be when you grow up.” She knew he himself was like a big kid.

Someone once told Fred that the jobs of the future are jobs that we can’t even conceive of today. That was before the days of drones flying over head and AI. He was fascinated with technology, and whenever he wanted to do something he would read all about it, learning as much as he could about the topic.

I let him pick out my last car. He had Parkinson’s and it was important that he be able to get in and out comfortably. We got a Subaru Forester.

Fred was a big fan of cruise control, because he got tired driving, and the Forester had amazing features. It slows down when a car is in front of you, to the point where it would come to a complete stop all on its own, to avoid a collision. He was like a little kid when he drove that car. Every time we got in, he would say, “Do you know if you...” and share some new feature he learned about the car. Needless to say it ended up being his car, more than mine. That was okay because in addition to having Parkinson’s and slow reflexes, he was a notorious tailgater.

Having the mind of a kid is what moves technology forward. Kids are inquisitive and have the ability to look at things with an uncluttered mind. They also tend to look at things from a different perspective. It doesn’t come easy as an adult. Sometimes we are so stubborn that we don’t listen, and are in a state of denial. Sometimes, we are looking for answers that are right in front of us. But because we are more often looking for validation of what we want the answer to be, we can’t see them.

In January, 2017, I launched a scholarship in my husbands name, to give youth the opportunity to obtain their Remote Pilot Certification (drone pilot license) from the FAA. I spent weeks picking the perfect venue at a local technical high school. I worked on putting together the perfect presentation of inspirational speakers, for the youth that gathered at the launch.

I had a good friend who knew Fred personally, so he could share stories of Fred’s adventurous spirit. He is a science teacher who is very familiar with GIS, another technology that I believe youth should study, if given the opportunity. They already know the value of GIS, because they use their phones to find places to eat, shop and be entertained-all from the back seat of the car.

I had a local politician, who was also al lawyer and had his fixed wing rating. Ok, maybe he wasn’t the most inspirational, because he yelled at the kids and told him to stay away from his aircraft. We’ll call him the FUDster in the story. But before that, he did share some good knowledge. He had a twinkle in his eye, and a grin on his face, as he spoke about his early experiences as a pilot.

There were several others — another lawyer, a millenial that worked for a solar company, using a drone for their marketing, a graphic designer that studied cinematography in college. The creator of the online course being offered to students, used Skype to connect with the group. Lastly, there was the electroncis teacher from the tech school. He had asked two students that recently graduated, and wanted to pursue careers using drones, to also talk about their experiences.

After all the adults were done sharing their life experiences and accomplishments, the electronics teacher invited Dan to talk about several aircrafts he had built, that were displayed on stage. The teacher pointed out that Dan had built everything on the drone we saw. “Dan built this one, in essence, almost from scratch. The aluminum you see here, he made a milling machine himself, and he milled it all out himself. He 3-D printed all the blue pieces you see. He designed all of them himself, and printed them out on the 3-D printer he made.” I was blown away.

Dan was a young man, out of high school for about two and a half years. After the introduction, he began to do his show-and-tell. He spoke about the process of building the aircraft. He spoke about the redundency he built into the drone, for reliability. “It has 8 rotors. This is for reduncency. You could lose one of these and it can still fly — not very well — but it won’t come plummeting to the ground.” That wasn’t good enough for Dan. He put telemetry links on his drone so it could report back to him. “I’ve noticed a lot of different drones, they have redundant systems, but you have no way of knowing that they failed until the last short. They may as well not even have them. You have to be able to tell when stuff is starting to go wrong and you can get to safety before it happens.” While that sounds pretty simplistic, at the time it was not something the drone companies were implementing in their off-the-shelf drones.

He talked about why he got in to building drones. He wanted to fly, to see things from “up there”, but it was too expensive, so he thought the drone was the next best thing. This is true, especially if you put together VR goggles with some special features, which he did as well.

I came home thinking about Dan, and how impressed I was. I thought about the irony. How I obsessed over coming up with the perfect gamut of speakers — young, old, pilot, enterpreneurs, teachers, lawyers, artist — to impress these young people. It dawned on me that while the presenters were all accomplished in their own way, they spoke about the the things they had done. Dan not only spoke about the things he had done, but the things he was going to do.

His knowledge was incredible, but his thought process and approach to problem solving was what enabled him to build milling machines and 3-D printers, to build a drone more advanced than drones available for purchase.

Sometimes when I watch debates go back and forth about cryptocurrencies, in this new playing field for adults, I wonder how it could be improved by engaging, or at least monitoring how our youngest generation processes information, when it is all new.

I don’t believe children should be seen and not heard. On the contrary, I believe that engaging children in conversation as adults can change their lives. One of my real jobs is running a corn maze in the fall. It is military themed, in honor of Fred. I try to make it educational for youth. This year I am putting together a corner for the children, where they will be exposed to a bit of cryptology and the phonetic alphabet. I may never know if exposure to these things will change the course of a childs life. But one thing I would bet all my XRP on, is that the 7 year olds of today, are going to be doing things we cannot even conceive, tomorrow.

Since I started working after college I have invested in the stock market. I took a break while I was on the adventure of my life, with the love of my life. Now he is gone, but left me with a great loss. But he left me with a great deal of wisdom.

I have started investing in cryptocurrencies. In doing that, I have used social media to monitor news. What I have noticed is a negative, uncivilized, and detrimental attitude, that I believe hurts the markets.

So I like to write stories about how people should play nice while this market incubates. Many of the stories incorporate Fred, as he was a great teacher of life.

I’m a simple girl that writes about keeping it simple.