The Steph Curry of dumb questions

Actual line from an email that I sent today:

I am the Steph Curry of dumb questions.

I don't know where the words, and the phrases, and the sentences, and so on, that form in my head come from. Sometimes I'm even listening to the words that come out of my mouth just to hear what happens next. For the most part, I think, it's not just a bunch of gobbledygook. (Sometimes it is.) But I am willing to experiment with the ideas I'm thinking of, to experiment with the words I use to describe them, to find some kind of oblique way to get the point across. I don't have all that much patience for the prosaic—for good or ill. I search and I search and I search for the words to make an impact when I describe something. (For good or ill.)

I found a trapdoor into the past this evening, and I've been falling and falling and falling through it ever since. There was a reason for it: I was tying together an article I read about farming on Mars (I intended this post to be about that, but it didn't make the cut) with our senior design project at Illinois back in 2002-2003. Because I keep everything, I found on a backup drive the folder that had not just our report (which was all I expected to find) but all of the data and references and animation files and meeting minutes and so on from that project. And I also found some things from when I ran the Peoria-area Order of the Arrow chapter back in the 20th century in a nearby folder—something I was actually looking for another time, but found accidentally now.

This post has gone sideways from the very start, but here's a reason I mentioned the last two things: sometimes I wonder how I end up as the lead on various projects that I participate in, both professionally and not. I still don't know why. But I've been doing it now for decades. And finding some of the original materials is very weird because some of the things that I think I've just come up with today while leading a group of professionals turns out to be a variation on something I did a long time ago. "There is no new thing under the sun"—barely any new thing inside my head.

I remember Mike Riopell saying to me, circa 2000, as I emerged unplanned from the woods at the post-camp Staff Burn at Ingersoll Scout Reservation: "You're so flamboyantly inappropriate." Maybe it's true.

I am the Steph Curry of dumb questions.

Being flamboyantly inappropriate has its use.

I was in a meeting on Tuesday, and the Tech Fellow—company-designated genius, seriously, no joke—leading the meeting is saying something something something CPS something something. Panic. I must be the only person dumb enough not to know what CPS means. So, in whispers, I ask other people around the table what it means. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. One person has the courage to say: maybe you should ask. I ask. The Tech Fellow explains. Everyone around the table goes, "Ah", and more than a handful write it down. How is that? Why? How can a group of intelligent adults just be satisfied to let meaning rush past them without bothering to ask?

I am the Steph Curry of dumb questions. Anywhere on the short side of the halfcourt line is my territory. If I can push it just far enough to get a reasonable question off—and if I've done the work in the years and years and years leading up to the opportunity—I'm going to shoot it. Perhaps other people want to wait for a higher percentage shot—a layup, a jumper from the elbow, something that won't expose them. Not me. For reasons I don't understand I was given a headful of questions and permission to shoot. Which is partially true. The full truth is that I stew in that uncomfortable feeling—to ask or not to ask—before going forth. My superpower is being able to hoist two shoulderfuls of shame and keep moving forward.

Postscript: Ecclesiastes, chapter 1 (King James translation):

[3] What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
[4] One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
[5] The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
[6] The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
[7] All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
[8] All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
[9] The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
[10] Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
[11] There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

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