black turtleneck and blue jeans

Steve Jobs, though a hero of mine, didn’t get or do everything right. There were more than a few missteps along the way, from some of his early familial relationships to pretty much lying about having “cracked” the vaunted Apple TV. But one thing I’ve come to conclude he got right was his “uniform.”

From Fast Company

From Fast Company


Every morning I stare at the selections in my closet and just pretty much lose my will to go on living. It’s not that I hate my clothes, it’s that I just don’t even want to make this decision. What I wear should require roughly the same amount of brain power as reciting my ABCs or singing along with old Bon Jovi songs, in my opinion. It should require no more time than the time necessary to don the particular items of clothing before moving on with my life.

I know fashion has its place…but that place is nowhere near me and never has been. You could pull just about any picture of me from the previous ten years and I’ll be wearing any or all of the following:

  • Jeans or cargo pants;
  • T-shirt;
  • Button-up long- or short-sleeve shirt.

I throw the occasional sweater in there because Ohio winters do get cold. Otherwise, that’s it. It’s all just variations on a theme.

And it’s just mere laziness. Having fibromyalgia essentially means that many of my sensory receptors are turned up higher than they are for most people. Rather than turning me into some overweight and sweaty Daredevil though, it just means that loud noises physically hurt, bright lights blind me, and rough fabrics make me want to chew my own flesh off. So most mornings anymore I end up changing my shirt two or three times before I figure out which fabric my skin is comfortable with today. There are some shirts I own that are always comfortable, but generally one wants to avoid wearing the same thing to work everyday.

Unless one is Steve Jobs, which brings me back to my point.

I’ve been wearing the same style – though not the same actual clothes – for over a decade now. But varying my style means I’m spending more time choosing an outfit than I care to spend on it.(2) So why not give in and go Jobs? Why not find a type of pants, a type of t-shirt, and a type of button-up that are comfortable and just go with it? Day in and day in for the next howsoever long?

I just don’t have an answer anymore. So here’s to Steve Jobs, black turtleneck and blue jeans and all.

  1. You can find it here.
  2. And I’m incensed that I just used the phrase “choosing an outfit.” Choosing an outfit is never something I wanted to do with my time unless it was a euphemism for putting on my Bat-suit.

how – of all people – Steve Jobs has helped me feel a little less lonely

I wasn’t quite as familiar with Steve Jobs, the public figure, as some other people I know. I remember when we got our first computer, an Apple IIc+, in what must have been 1988, I sat down and dutifully read the instruction manual because I was an awesomely adventurous child. The manual mentioned that Apple had been founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in one a garage and that they named the company Apple because they couldn’t think of what else to call it. For a long time, that’s about all knew of the guy.

I learned much more about Steve Jobs after he passed away. Like many, many other people, I read Walter Isaacson’s excellent biography and, from it, have no problem describing Jobs as a man with a soul but no heart.

To have a soul is required, I think, to believe in things like poetry and music and change and the sheer force of one person’s will. Jobs did all of these things, and I can see his soul shine through my iPhone and iPad.

To have a heart is required, I think, to be kind, considerate, compassionate and honest. Having a soul is self-directed; having a heart is other-directed. At this, Jobs failed. He was a brilliant man with a brilliant vision and a brilliant passion, but let’s face it: more often than not he seemed to care very little for and about how other people felt.

Which is why it’s so weird that I owe him a big thank you for helping me feel less lonely right now while Ashley is in Disney World.

Because she recently acquired an iPhone,(1) and because we share an iCloud account, I can hop on the Find my iPhone app at any point and see what she and her family are up to.

Okay yes. It’s a little creepy. Or at least it would be if she didn’t know I was checking her location. Granted, this isn’t precisely what Find my iPhone was meant for,(2) but yesterday when I had a quick look and saw that they were watching the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom…well, for a moment it was like I was there with her. There’s a part in the show that I find to be one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. I won’t spoil it for you, plus there’s simply no way I could describe it with any real effect, but both times I’ve seen it, tears came to my eyes. And both times I’ve seen it, Ashley was with me. And right then, last night, just for a second, I felt what that felt like, instead of just feeling bored and vaguely sad. I felt Ashley right next to me, looking up in wonder. I could even picture her face smiling under the light. And for a little bit I felt somewhat less alone.

Then there’s Photo Stream. For those who don’t know, Photo Stream stores a copy in the cloud of any picture taken on an iDevice for 30 days. So, again, since Ashley and I share an iCloud account, I can see the pictures she takes without her having to send them to me. Photo Stream only syncs photos to the cloud over WiFi, so I can’t see her pictures until after she’s returned to their resort. The other day she took a picture of a gallon of chocolate milk. I have no idea why. Can’t even guess. But it’s exactly what I was looking for, exactly the kind of randomness that is Ashley.(3)

And of course, there’s FaceTime. I love Ashley’s voice a lot, but everyone sounds different over the phone. She says I always sound like I’m waiting to get off the phone, while I think she always sounds a touch put-off. But with FaceTime, Apple’s video-chat, I can hear her lovely voice, see her pretty smile and watch her laugh. That was the highlight of my day yesterday. There’s something about seeing someone, seeing the person you’re talking to, watching her react to what you say, seeing smallish movements of eyebrow and chin, that makes me feel a little less here and a little more there.

And it’s odd that this closeness has been brought about by one of the most emotionally distant people I’ve ever read about. It’s as though he wanted to connect everyone in the world with what they love – music, art, pictures – and the people they care about even though he himself had a hard time connecting with anyone. I’m sure he didn’t create FaceTime or Find my iPhone (though the books mentions that iCloud was something he wanted to make work), but you can believe not a thing shows up on any Apple device out-of-the-box that he didn’t know about and approve of.

He’s caught a lot of flack over the years for a statement he made at a company retreat way back in 1982: “Customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them.” But he was right. At least in my case. I didn’t know I wanted ways to miss Ashley just a little bit less until I figured out how to use Apple’s devices to do exactly that. And that’s what technology should do: bring us closer to whom and to what we love.

  1. 2011 will forever be the Year of Apple for us. Make of that what you will.
  2. Which seems to be helping porn stars find their stolen phones.
  3. I should point out that it’s only seeming randomness. She always has a reason.

i’ll burn this whole city down

Ashley is not a fan of Apple products, so when she brought up to me on Friday the much ballyhooed statements Steve Jobs made w/r/t to Google and Android, she brought it up to make her point that Jobs was, well, kind of a dick.(1)

Believe it or not, she and I have actually gone a couple of rounds on the subject of Apple and, recently, of Jobs. Her hesitation with Apple’s products partially comes from an anti-populist perspective: everyone loves them, they’re all the rage, and she’s not going to buy into something just because that’s what everyone else is doing. I can appreciate that stance.(2)

But when it comes to Steve Jobs, she believes he was kind of a dick. I don’t entirely disagree.(3) Like I told her, I don’t think you get to be in that position of that kind of a company without being abrasive more than just occasionally. But I think the difference is that I’m a bit more willing to let certain things go. Context, as they say, is everything.

So let’s take some of Mr. Jobs’s statements w/r/t Android:

I’m going to destroy Android because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war over this.”

I recognize that Mr. Jobs is perhaps being a bit irrational in this statement. But I can appreciate someone who’s willing to go to any length – any – to stop a wrong.(4) Mr. Jobs perceives that Android/Google ripped off Apple’s iOS and, whether he’s right or wrong, he’s willing to challenge hell itself over this infraction. Many people these days are willing to stand up for what they think is right, but precious few are willing to stand against what they think is wrong.

This sort of extreme behavior and unfaltering conviction is something I can appreciate. Ashley’s stance is that his being willing to take down another company is evidence of him being a dick. Maybe, maybe not. But at least he’s willing to state and stick to his purpose.

The real problem here is that we wouldn’t have Apple if Jobs hadn’t ripped off Xerox. He visited the company back in 1982 and walked out with an idea for a graphic user interface. I’m not faulting the guy: he took something someone else was doing and simply did it better. That’s free enterprise. But to fault Android for (allegedly) doing the same is…well, a bit hypocritical.

Furthermore, the tech-world has piracy in its friggin’ DNA. I’m not really even a part of that world and I know enough to know that everything awesome that exists right now was at least partially built on something someone else saw or had a hand in:

  • Windows 7 looks a lot like OS X. What I’ve seen of Windows 8 does even more so.
  • iOS 5 has a notification system that works and looks a lot like Android’s.
  • Netscape gave way to IE which gave way to Firefox which gave way to Chrome.
  • Every smartphone ever.
  • Amazon Cloud Drive. Google Music. iTunes Match.
  • Kindle. Nook. Kobo.

For Mr. Jobs to go thermonuclear over tech-theft is, as I said, hypocritical. It’s ridiculous too in that, in its own way, the theft of ideas is what make the tech world spin. So yeah, that makes him kind of a dick…but not because he’s willing to destroy a company over it.

I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong.

Ah, but being willing to destroy his own company…that’s a different story.

Again, the lengths that he’s willing to go to are, to me, admirable. But that he’s willing to risk the livelihood of every Apple employee and their families – to say nothing of stockholders – it shows a certain unforgivable selfishness. Apple hasn’t belonged to just Steve Jobs in a long time. It’s not his to sacrifice.

This, of course, is the downside of that ‘at-all-costs’ mentality, that it doesn’t calculate the costs of the innocent. Apple’s employees have done a lot to help Apple get to where it is today, so to be willing to scuttle the whole thing simply to destroy a company that did what Mr. Jobs himself did way back in the day is, yes, a little dickish. Maybe even a whole lot dickish. But still. I appreciate the lengths he was willing to go to.

  1. Which I can further back up my interpretation by pointing out that she actually said he was kind of a dick.
  2. Though of course the argument is that not doing something just because it’s what everyone else is doing is just another way of letting the masses dictate your behavior.
  3. I’ll point out here that I haven’t yet read the biography that came out today.
  4. Note that I didn’t say ‘right a wrong.’ There’s a distinction.