Friday, August 29, 2003

That feeling of chaos

I have four kids -- a 5-year-old (David), a 3-year-old (Irena), and identical twins (John and Ian) who are 16 months old. Leigh and I love our kids to death. But as you can imagine, with that many young kids under one roof, things can get a bit chaotic at times. For example, the amount of sleep we get on any given night is a crap shoot. Why do you think I am awake at 2:30AM writing this post?

To get a sense of the chaos, imagine the scene when Leigh or I are alone with the kids, and we need to go to Wal-Mart or the grocery store. David and Irena are on foot and they each have a mind of their own. The twins are in the stroller and immediately want to get out to "play"... Meanwhile you are trying to calculate in your head whether the 4-pack or the 8-pack is a better bargain... It can feel, at times, as though you don't have total control of the situation.

So, you can call me an expert in chaos. At this point in my life, I live with a fairly high level of chaos every day.

Last week, I think we all sensed that our world, as a whole, had gotten a bit too chaotic. We had:
  1. The huge northeast blackout, where 50 million people lost their electricity and life shut down for two days.
  2. One major Internet virus (SoBig.F) and one major Internet worm (MSBlaster) propagating aggressively, cutting people off from their email and the Internet.
  3. The California election "situation" reaching its initial boiling point, with 135 candidates registering to run for governor -- the whole notion of "normal" elections had broken down. (and don't forget the initial spark that caused the recall -- a budget crisis of massive proportions in the 5th or 6th largest economy in the world)
  4. The situation in Iraq, with random terrorists killing U.S. soldiers at a rate of one or two every day and ultimately killing 22 U.N. workers with a truck bomb.
  5. The chaotic breakdown of the peace process in Israel/Palestine.
  6. The heat wave in Europe, where even nature seemed to have come unhinged, and something like 15,000 people died in France alone.
Add to that other background issues from earlier in the year like the Iraq war (U.S./U.N. relations run amok), the shuttle disaster (NASA run amok), North Korea and its nuclear bombs (diplomacy run amok) and SARS (nature run amok), along with the daily scourge of spam (we cannot even control what is coming into our own email inboxes), etc., etc. and it just feels like something odd is going on. We live in a modern, technological society where humans should pretty much be able to control our world, yet it does not feel like we have that much control at all.

Now this week has passed, and things have actually been pretty calm. Most people I know are winding down in preparation for the Labor Day weekend, and many will take today off. No major new crises popped up....

It will be interesting to see what next week brings...

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