The Entropy of Things

Maddie likes to be contained.

Isn’t that supposed to be the Internet of Things? No, I’ve written about that before, but this post is related. Well, it depends on how far my train of thought gets down the tracks. Let’s get the science out of the way, to assuage the fears of the Monday-morning-math-and-science-phobic crowd – trust me, it won’t be much, I promise. Let’s just work with the fact that entropy can be a measure of the degree of disorder in a system – consider a bunch of Legos scattered across the floor. For a system to decrease its entropy? Energy transfer is necessary – someone has to pick the Legos up or build something with them.

There, that wasn’t so bad…right?

I’ve been thinking about the entropy of things lately. I am about a year away from retirement. In addition, I will be ending my service on the Board of an organization later this year and I will be reducing my involvement in the operation of another organization. In short, I will soon be decreasing the energy I transfer into those “systems.”

There are several possible outcomes.

The most likely outcome is that life will go on just fine without me. That’s not a negative reflection on me, that’s the nature of organizations. No one is indispensable. No one should be. That’s the goal. However, there are some initiatives that I was more passionate about than others, and those initiatives will likely fade away. That’s OK, too. You can transfer knowledge, you can train people in skills, but we all have our own passions.

I’m also reminded of entropy or disorder as I look at the garage I am covering in vinyl siding. The underlying surface, painted wood, is faded, chipped, rotted in places and, absent the energy I am putting into it, it would eventually fail. Truth be told, even with the energy I am putting into it, it will eventually fail, unless someone else works to prevent that. The garage, however well prepared, stands in the heat of New England summers, the cold and snow of winter and the wind and rain of several nor’easters each year. It won’t survive forever.

On Saturday, we were talking about spam followers at the bar. I didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the considerable work WordPress engineers are doing to combat those people, but it is a fact that they are working very hard. Absent that work, WordPress would deteriorate into a lawless mess of malware, pornography, spray tanning options, Ugg boots, payday loans and various other attempts to take your money. At least that’s what I see among the 344 spam comments I removed today. Prior to that, Akismet had removed 91,000 similar comments. That takes energy (electricity) and my time, because one of those 344 comments today was real, and I don’t want to delete any of those.As for the Internet of Things (IoT), well that’s going to require energy on your part, too.

Wait, isn’t the IoT supposed to make life easier?

In theory it will. But, long before we get to collect those benefits, someone will be trying to figure out how to hack into your refrigerator (oh wait, that’s been done). Even if you’re one of the majority (still) of people who say they don’t want their TV, toaster, fridge and washing machine connected, it’s going to take energy to keep them off your network. Technology weaves its way into our lives. There are people who don’t want a backup camera in their car, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made them mandatory on new cars back in May.

Who would require that you put your refrigerator on the net? Eventually, maybe Congress. Maybe, as they try to save Medicare from financial disaster, they will require us all to have our appliances and plumbing (yes, “Smart” toilets are a thing) keeping tabs on what we eat, how often and how much. Maybe your insurance company will require you to put that tattletale device in your car. All of the energy consumed by those devices will be trying to keep you from sinking into a more disordered state, but it will require you to set passwords to keep your toaster from ordering those Ugg boots.


95 thoughts on “The Entropy of Things

Add yours

  1. O, my. Your post is like the universe shouting at me. I have just had to let a group of people I have been coaching over the past seven years, go. They need to stand on their own feet. I was left crying my heart out, as I have come to care for their organisation and the beneficiaries of their programmes, very much. And then your words: “The most likely outcome is that life will go on just fine without me. That’s not a negative reflection on me, that’s the nature of organizations. No one is indispensable. No one should be. That’s the goal. However, there are some initiatives that I was more passionate about than others, and those initiatives will likely fade away. That’s OK, too. You can transfer knowledge, you can train people in skills, but we all have our own passions.” Got the message, I am letting go. Regards all the way from South Africa.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Are you ok? You’ve been out in the cold…..
    Now I understand why you love Star Trek. So much intel and logic. So many reasoning scenarios. Yes, life is a series of order/disorder, building up and tearing down, wash, rinse, repeat. We came here to “do”something after all. I just want to maintain some semblence of control over what I do or have to do in my life. Telling me how to drive is one thing. Telling me how to die is something else altogether.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Lol. I was ‘t talking a out you dying. Just referring to the new automated system even in medicine of sending out lists of “to do” health checklists which include a dozen preventative tests (or search mission) that insurance recommends.
        Stay warm and good luck with that disorder project. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, this was a brain wake-up post @ 6:30 drinking coffee in the dark. But the sun is finally rising, and now I can contemplate your thoughts. Great post Dan, albeit a bit heady. Super photos!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sorry for the shock to the system, Jennie. You have to remember, I wrote this during the light of a blustery New England day. It seemed easier to understand then. Maybe I should schedule Monday posts for 10:00am.

      It was dark all the way into work today. Sitting in my office, watching the sunrise :(

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I needed a good wake-up. No, don’t schedule for 10:00, I’ll be at school. I still haven’t gotten over the shock of so much dark in New England during the cold weather months. It’s a double whammy.

        Like

  4. I’ll be excited to get the back-up camera on my next car. It’s an extremely helpful device. As for the fridge, toaster, waffle iron, mix master, and everything else in the kitchen talking to each other and perhaps someone down at Appliance Central…I would like to say “No!” I prefer to talk to/yell at my appliances without them being able to talk back to me. Having an auto coffee maker that has the brown stuff ready when I shuffle out to the kitchen at 7 am on the weekends is enough for me.
    After reading Cheryl’s comment, I suppose the Heisenberg Compensator can’t be too far behind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have to invent that thing, Mary. Gibbs could go over to the replicator and order feline supplement #28 and you could roll over and enjoy 5 more minutes of sleep,

      I’m pretty sure every appliance entering our house will be without a communication system or that system will remain disabled. And, if the fridge knows what’s good for it, it won’t nag the Editor too many times about the wifi password.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I find your musings such as this one so interesting. So much energy going into maintenance – I had never thought of it as fighting entropy.
    … and I hope I’m long gone before my fridge ever starting talking to the toilet. That has ‘wrong’ written all over it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Joanne. Sometimes, I have to give into these thoughts. There are people working on all of this, and more. The bridge-too-far capability comes when you log into your toilet and the analysis is sent to your doctor. That thought will send you back for a second cup.

      I hope you have a great week.

      Like

  6. I have reached an age where I can safely say: “I remember when . . . ” I liked my stupid phone and, well, I want my appliances to work for me not some dark un-named cabal. I like technology when it is a tool not a tether. You have hit a sore point for many people Dan, well done!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Pam (or perhaps that’s sorry, Pam). I’ve spend my career bringing technology into the workplace. Perhaps I’m somewhat complicit in this technical take-over. But trust me, I’ll be doing battle on the home front to keep this stuff in it’s place – the tool box, not the corner office, running my life.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Believe me or not, but retirement is one topic that connects me quickly. I have my own very personal reasons for that, and also the fact that I’m already thinking of my retirement. I never talk about this to my friends because they wouldn’t understand. With the sudden unexpected death of both my parents, I knew from a very young age that life is unpredictable. However, I love to stay in control. It’s like me playing a chess with life. Also, I’m so aware of the fact that ‘Everyone is Important But No One is Necessary’. This philosophy works in an organization and also in real life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for dropping in, Sharukh. It’s interesting to see you talking about retirement, but it’s a good thing to plan. My father died at a young age (not as young as your parents) and it does make you aware of how unpredictable life really is. ‘Everyone is Important But No One is Necessary’ is a good thing to remember. I know people who don’t believe that, but it’s 100% true. I hope you’re having a good week.

      Like

      1. Yes, Monday is good so far. I’m working on my new post which I’m so excited about and also balancing the client’s work. Phew. Do you know this year India’s biggest festival Diwali is right on your birthday?

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank you, Dan. I actually designed my website for large screens, but at the moment as per Google Analytics, 65% of my audience is on Android devices. That’s okay because my site is mobile-friendly. I’m glad you watch it on a large screen because I add HD quality images. Also, some of the new posts have 1080p 60fps videos shot by Sarah.

            Liked by 1 person

  8. Deep. I’m glad I had my coffee at hand. :-) I remember the year before I retired, lots of emotions all over the scale. Yes, all that energy has to be focused somewhere else or you will be bored out of your mind. I’m seeing beautiful furniture and DIY projects in your future. It was 30° this morning, and there’s not much color here either. A fair amount of golds but not much red. :-) Happy Monday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. I’m pretty sure I’ll find a place to put my energy when I retire. It was 23 here when I left for work, but I think we’ll see 50 today. Reading your blog makes me wonder how you fit half that stuff in before you retired. I hope your week is off to a good start.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I had to chuckle about telling MiMi and MuMu apart. We have to look at Parker’s and Piper’s noses to tell them apart….and Parker is a bit bigger. Tracking devices on everything…that scares me. But I do like my Ugg boots. Toaster did good… :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lois. Someone mentioned last week that they weren’t sure we actually had two cats. They are sisters, and they look very much alike, but we refer to the Rosetta-Paw as the give away. As you would expect with cats, that’s the one they tuck under their body when sitting.

      I”m glad you can trust your toaster. Mine can’t even handle getting the English Muffin done right.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t ever want my appliances to speak to me. I enjoy venting on my vacuum, but the damn thing better never answer me back!! I can’t imagine you ever not knowing what to do with your time. And if that happened, the Editor will probably present you with a ‘To Do List’ she’s already working on. 😳😜😄

    Really like the photo where you captured the clouds. And that poor old garage looks sad indeed.

    I love the long and short white socks on MiMi and MuMu! Lol. And if being contained helps Maddie to feel safe and calms her down, then I say, “yayyyyy”.

    But the photo of you and Maddie after you sneezed is too funny. I would be ‘fake sneezing’ just to get her to do that! Love it.

    Cold here too. Incredible wind yesterday. BUT, no snow, no ice and no humidity. Not complaining. Nope.
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ginger. The funny thing about Maddie is that she will run to the other end of the house if I sneeze, but the Editor can have a sneezing fit while sitting next to Maddie and Maddie doesn’t so much as lift her head. Well, I think it’s funny.

      I am not looking forward to smart appliances. I’m fine using them, but I’m not looking for an interactive experience or a year-end summary of activity.

      Those clouds were signalling a very blustery day yesterday. The temperature was 40, but it felt like 19. This morning, it was a real 23. Not ready for that.

      I’m sure the Editor will find ways to keep me from getting underfoot, even if it’s “go scratch MuMu” which seems to be my new chore (given to me by MuMu).

      The couch/Dan containment system seems to give Maddie an opportunity to get some quality sleep. It doesn’t do much for my circulation, but she doesn’t seem to mind ;-)

      Like

    1. I am looking forward to retirement. I need to get this “but I never…” out of my head. There isn’t time – it didn’t work – nobody wants to see it happen – blah blah blah – Move On!

      Like

  11. Hey, wait a minute! You get spam for Ugg boots? My only footwear spam is for Nike shoes, and it disappoints me. Not well-written at all.

    I’ve had more trouble with WP since I came back from my break. Commenting has become difficult in that the system doesn’t always recognize me as being part of the WP gang. This bothers me, slows me down, and makes me feel/worry that WP might not be keeping my best interest at heart.

    But then entropy sets in, and I don’t care…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ah Monday mornings, entropy, and backup cameras. I am waiting for the mandatory backup camera on entropy. Then I will have photographic evidence that I put ‘it’ there for a reason. How that translates to the breakdown of order in the universe is completely illogical. If I put it there that is order. My order. Now where did I put my coffee cup ? Last night I watched a show on covered bridges in China and the United States. Interesting stuff. Especially when the Blenheim bridge was rebuilt except for the ramp at the other side of bridge. And entropy laughed something right off… Nice post Dan. I was going to add ‘for a Monday.’ Except I am already retired and there is a new clause in my contract that requires me to say ‘what day is it ?’ with only the slightest feigned note of sincerity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – John, I look on with envy to the people who no longer fear Monday and don’t have to wait for the weekend. I’ll join your ranks in a year. Until then, I will wake up and step out into 23-degree dark Monday mornings (like today) and shake my head at the universe, knowing exactly how important it considered me. Entropy always wins. It might take time, but entropy has time – all the time there is.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. The only IoT thing we have is our thermostat, and that’s actually pretty good, because we can adjust the heat or air conditioning from wherever we are using an app. But that’s all I’ll do.

    Mary had been an officer of her knitting guild, and by the time her term was up, she was ready for it to be over. She also runs the charity knitteres’ group at church, and decided that they didn’t need a meeting every month. She compared the feeling to being let out of school. I understand where you’re coming from.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John. I like the intelligent features built into my GPS. I may continue using it after I get a car that has one built in. I don’t mind tools that know not to overcharge themselves and things that can respond to me if I want them to. I’m just not looking forward to responding to the things in my house. I respond to my wife, the dog, and the cats – that’s enough.

      Like

  14. To all that connectedness, and resulting lack of privacy if not worse, I say with your toaster…Ugg! :-) We’ve so far resisted any connectedness except for our phones and computers, but even that’s a lot of lack of privacy. Sobering and scary at the same time. I hope someone hacks my gas and electrical sites and starts paying my bills! :-)

    janet

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Seriously, Janet, if someone wanted to pay those bills, I’ll give them the passwords! I have been connecting things to other things for over 40 years. I’m not ready to start reporting to those things. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’d like my next garage door to be connected to my phone, just so I can stop driving around the block to make sure I closed it. Other than that, I might be good.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Their’s a limit to connectivity and some like more than others. I’m with you on the garage door connected to phone….I’m always driving away and then questioning myself about closing it. Do I need and want a group of appliances interacting with the internet…no…just more things to break down. On the retirement front….it does take an adjustment. I remember my first year retired and going shopping during the week….didn’t feel right to be out in a store during what would have been normal work hours. I went full steam on my digital art a year or two before retirement and than has more than filled the gap. I loved my job, but I chose to retire early to get on with my next chapter. I’m good friends with my former employees and my boss and still keep in touch and see them (more so now that I’m back in SoCal). Bottom line….you’ll love it!!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. LOL. My cats (historically) have never liked it when I sneeze either.
    Dan, you have so many interests, I think you will love so called retirement.
    For me, it will just be escape. I “gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing I ever do.” (Now, did I put that old song in your head?) (grins)
    Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I laughed out loud at Maddie giving you the rush when you sneeze. Twiggy does the same. She seems to be checking to see if we are okay. Excellent post, Dan. I’m worried about my wine cooler. It keeps hinting I should buy higher priced wine. I hope it doesn’t figure out how to order what it wants.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. dan – I hate when my toaster orders Ugg boots – and just last week it put in an order for water shoes – but that was a good thing (kidding)
    but this was sobering – and need to slowly read it again – yikes.

    side note I was at someone’s house and they had their videos playing on the refrigerator and then had a laptop open and had their “digital assistant” listening in…
    and not putting them down – or others – but so many folks are oblivious to the invasion of privacy –

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You really are funny today :) Toasters ordering Ugg boots. Oy. LOL
    We used to have the insurance gadget thingy but now we don’t. I guess they learned we’re good enough. We’re cautious, that’s fersure. He drives like a grandpa and I view everyone as Driver 2 on my imaginary crash report.
    Love the clouds rolling in, and that MuMu is allowed to be fluffy, and that bit about the passwords. Someone techy told me about a thing that keeps all your passwords and I really need to look into that because I am starting to lose my mind over password inundation and there is no reset for a lost mind. I’m ready for thumbprint everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joey … sorry, Dan, fur buttin’ in. BUT!!! I have the answer for Joey. IF you have an Apple, Safari has preferences where you can store ALL your passwords. And it is locked so no one can get in but you. I also have heavy duty Internet Security on my computer that I trust. Hope this helps!!!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thanks! I don’t drive as cautiously as the Mrs., but I’m pretty careful. Still, I’m not interested in being monitored.

      I use Lastpass for passwords. It works really well on my laptop and well enough on my phone and iPad. It’s a good idea because it encourages you to come up with better passwords.

      The kitty girls tend to get what they want, but they have to stay out of Maddie’s way. She’s not usually mean, but she’s unpredictable.

      Those clouds brought a cold blustery day to our neighborhood.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lastpass. Looking it up now. Thank you!

        Sadie can unpredictable with our kitties, but usually only once she gets tired, around 10.

        We had a veritable windstorm with damages Saturday. It was NOT a good day for roofin.

        Like

  20. The thought of all my appliances including my toilet being a part of the system gave me a huge headache. I’ll keep my 30 year old washer, thank you! My laundry is my business as well as what I do on the toilet. How far is too far? “shaking head” And my toaster ordering me boots or shoes? 😂 Yet on a serious note … I know of someone trusting the automatic payment system who was being double billed for insurance and getting fake fees cuz their bank was outright stealing from them. Scary? This is why hubby and I are old fashion and do things ourselves and pay attention by doing our own taxes and bills. I’ll fight the system to my last breath. It’s bad enough I have a smart phone. Grrrrr ……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a familiar sounding rant you have going there, Amy. I use technology when it’s beneficial, but even though I’ve made my living in that domain, I keep it at a distance. My mother had a two small automatic payments, and they were both hard to turn off, with charges made after she passed away.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my God, Dan! This is the exact situation I was speaking of in which it has everything to do with the money my mother has in the bank. This bag has been charging the account with bogus fees right after she died up until the present day. It’s so bad that lawyers are now involved. It never ceases to amaze me the lengths that organizations and people will go to all the name of money. It is disgusting! I am so sorry you had to deal with this. It sounds like a nightmare!

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Aww, now I am so delighted to hear your white socks details on the kitty cats, Dan. Luckily, there’s only One of a Kind Maddie!
    I think this was a fascinating essay of the use or expenditure of energy and how you may have less “organized” entropy. Less work where it is structured according to time in and time out, as in meetings and job. Best wishes for the upcoming years of You (and possibly your Wife) choosing when you will do jobs. It will feel so good! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Hi Dan – yes things are changing a lot – and I’m finding that I’m getting left behind … I like my simple on-off systems etc … equally some of the new things are great … these things for instance! I’m working my way towards older age – best I can offer … but definitely note the things going on around me. Sounds like most of your things are in order or getting there … and just seeing Maddie and Mimi relaxed and ruling the roost – do we need more … enjoy your New England days … and count down – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I suggest that we all retire and simply let the appliances run things . We’d have to eliminate those buzzers and beeps , though , that might call us to action. Live and let live , I say . My toaster has its own priorities and I have mine . Could work out , I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. dweezer19 got the vibe that something was different in your post just like I did. The vibe I got hinted you could be psychologically preparing yourself for that last time you walk out of your office to go home when you retire.

    Actually, you don’t have to retire unless you want to but I have a feeling you and your wife are making plans to do things, which will push you into the retirement mode. It can be an exciting time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am preparing. I do have to retire. I could get another job, but I can’t keep this one. The position I have stipulates retirement at 65. There are things I need to accept about this, but not personal things. I’m ready to be done working. It’s just that I see how some things I had hoped to accomplish won’t be pursued. I can accept that, but every now and then it’s a bit of a wake up call. I’m rapidly getting to the point where it doesn’t matter. I’m happy with my personal accomplishments, but sometimes the lines get blurry.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Your post hits close to home. On my birthday, I’ve been thinking about how my body will now slowly go inevitably downhill, and exactly how much maintenance I need to put into it to keep it running.

    As to the toaster ordering Ugg boots, that’s not so far-fetched. Some of my friends have had their Amazon echo devices order stuff for them that they never asked for. The Toaster is a small step from there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Damyanti – you’re right about the autonomous Echo not being a big step beyond other appliances. As for maintaining our bodies, yes, it’s an uphill battle after a certain age. I wish you the best of luck.

      Like

  26. Also, MuMu’s face blaze is less pointed than MiMi’s. Not always easy to see in a photo. As for the IoT, I can’t even get my wireless printer to connect to anything else without a wire, so I think I’m safe for now. But anything that orders Ugg boots has to wear them.

    Liked by 1 person

Add your thoughts. Start or join the discussion. Sadly, multiple links require moderation.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: