What Does a Philosopher of Innovation Do?
Since I declared myself to be a Philosopher of Innovation no one has asked me "What is that?" so I have decided to provide an answer. I guess many people’s first reaction is:
“Is it a thing? Who needs one? Can it make money? Are lots of people hyped about it?”
After all, anyone can look at innovation and creativity and have their own opinion about it, without needing some specialist to explain it to them. Right?
Here’s how the dictionary defines “Philosopher”
1) a person who seeks wisdom or enlightenment
2) a person who meets difficulties with calmness and composure
3) a seeker of profound truths in a specialized field
And here’s the process of Innovation
1) concentration - analyzing the situation from all sides
2) incubation - allowing the super-self to churn the data over
3) inspiration - a single instant when a new solution pops into being
3a) elaboration - pulling a stream of inspiration out into an object - like 3D printing
4) production - making the idea useful so it can make money
This 4 step process is widely agreed upon, and is currently the “standard” model of innovation. I added in the 3a myself, because when I look at the few seconds of 3) inspiration, I see a lot of techniques there that can make a big difference.
That moment in time when inspiration strikes and creates something novel is one of the most amazing things that people do. We are at our best when achieving this most difficult exercise. Like the moment when a pole vaulter floats over the bar - time seems to slow down. It's only a few seconds yet it takes a lot of preparation.
Number 4) production is where the sensible people spend most of their time because otherwise what good is it? I meet people who believe that what happens before production is as common as rain drops hitting the ground, so the only skills worth learning are choosing from among the bounty, stoking the fires of passion then expending super human effort. Easy.
But this is a fallacy and explains a lot about the 90% + failure rate among startups and venture capital projects. If a plethora of ideas all look great then they are merely good and you don’t have a great one. Truly heroic ideas aren’t debated by committees, they are obvious from the start. Look closely at the kind of people who claim that effort is everything and creativity just happens. Will they profit off your labor irregardless of your own success? Learning the innovation skills from 1) to 3a) is essential, in my opinion. But I would think that wouldn’t I? Because that’s where I make money.
As a Philosopher of Innovation I provide tools and models that bring about inspired thoughts and solutions. I make bridges between the spheres of science, engineering, psychology and philosophy. To get the most creative results it’s important to have the best models of innovation: ones that can absorb loads of information accurately. Then when they are rotated, scaled, or reassembled, they will give back unique insights. Building a good model will pay off in the long run, they both help us to have epiphanies and are the result of them.
So where do we find the best models to employ? I have found good success with big logical proofs, because they describe things that are true everywhere and at every time. So they will be there wherever we go. There’s no escape. Check out these guys who learned the hard way that logic doesn't care about you. Paradox at the heart of mathematics makes physics problem unanswerable
What we need our models to do is explain our data, that we have learned from studies, empirically. Some of the data we have suggests:
is good for problem solving
It's good to have a diverse collection of expertise working on your problem. Gathering together a multi-disciplinary team increases your chances of coming up with inspired solutions. Here's an arbitrary list, these could be anything.
Diversity of Expertise
A group of similar people - in experience and temperament - will not come up with breakthrough ideas even though they may be highly qualified engineers or Ph.d’s. But a diverse group of people from many backgrounds and experiences, will. Here's a group of people that I just made up.
Diversity of People
A collection of people from all over the organization thinking together can come up with better ideas than a team who have been working closely together for some time.
The Brain's Default Mode
Simplified version of the default mode network - just a guess
Our brain spends most of it’s time in the default mode network. Areas that are familiar with each other signal in a mostly repeated sequence. Around and around. This is why we have repetitive thoughts that stick us in the same old rut. A lot of it is turbulent thought: an emotion causes some thoughts, the thoughts retrigger the emotion and repeat. Some people get stuck in repetitive turbulence the whole day! It's better to use a variety of brain areas and here's a list of some of them.
Diversity of Brain areas
Cantor's Theory Of Infinite Sets
Georg Cantor was a German mathematician who lived from 1845 to 1918. He pioneered set theory which has since become a foundation of modern math. At the time it was so controversial he suffered public humiliation from life long enemies who sought to sabotage his career. And yet:
"The harsh criticism has been matched by later accolades. In 1904, the Royal Society awarded Cantor its Sylvester Medal, the highest honor it can confer for work in mathematics. David Hilbert defended it from its critics by declaring, "No one shall expel us from the paradise that Cantor has created." - Wikipedia
What his critics objected to most strongly was his proof that some infinities are larger than others. This was seen by some as an insult to the one true and unique God. They thought he was wrong on theological grounds with no math required. Here's how he did it:
Diversity between zero and one
This is a few random numbers between zero and one or the real numbers. They are not sequential because each one has an infinite number of decimal places. Cantor showed that there is a 1 to 1 correspondence between these real numbers and the set of integers ranging from 1 to infinity. He called this a countable infinity and they are the same size.
Then he did a remarkably simple thing that changed everything. He drew a diagonal line between the list of numbers. He called this the diagonal lemma (intermediate proof) or diagonalization argument. He showed that the new number created along the diagonal was not in the original set, is therefore uncountable, and proves that the infinity of real numbers between zero and one is larger than the infinity of integer numbers between one and infinity. Like this:
It took him a couple of times to get it right. His proof was very clever yet it cost him dearly. His wife, his friends, and time off work spent in the insane asylum. A similar fate can still befall those who dwell overlong on the sizes of infinities. Don’t fall into that trap! Now look at what happens when we draw a diagonal line through the other lists.
At the moment of epiphany a high frequency, high amplitude gamma wave whips through different areas of the brain that rarely or never talk directly to each other. The sudden burst of signalling is like a ricocheting bullet in a cartoon.
Here's what happens in your brain at the moment of inspiration
Here are some real numbers having an epiphany
These results look suspiciously similar. Cantor’s argument shows that while we already have an infinity of numbers between 0 and 1, just as we may think we already know everything about a certain topic, we can still discover additional things by cutting across layers of expertise, experience and even areas in the brain.
Once we know that (many) epiphanies are in fact diagonal lemmas then we can make strategic changes to make inspiration happen sooner and be more effective. If we know how the game works then we can tweak it to work in our favor.
“But this is just semantic sleight of hand!” some critics would say, “Passing a line through people and stuff, it’s obvious and trivial, isn’t it?”
Is it? The similarity between the diagonal lemma and what happens in the brain at the moment of inspiration is quite compelling. And it explains the empirical evidence that shows diversity is essential. Be honest with yourself, have you ever had an insightful moment that in retrospect you can see as a diagonal line cutting across layers of known via an eccentric path of unknown?
If we knew the shape of epiphanies before they happened, then we could prepare techniques to make them more frequent and reliable. Cantor’s diagonal is a good model for this, we can load it up with everything we’ve got, then make it pop like a corn kernel, spitting out a possible future more sensible than what could be realized otherwise.
If you reduce the time you spend thinking in the default mode, then you have more time to be in a state of discovery. Getting out of the default mode means less routine and repetitive thoughts, and less turbulent feedback between thoughts and emotions. That means stopping both your internal monologue, and your stream of primitive emotions. Fear and desire are the usual culprits, learn to pass those urges through a finer sieve.
Achieving such a strong state of internal silence is possible by cutting or never growing ego attachments. Don’t identify with your instant and unquestioned thought bursts, don’t assert or defend them, they’re not you. Your ego and worth do not depend on them. Go instead for the best solution possible that provides the most satisfaction all around. Learn to climb ideas, not compel or defend them, then you will be unstoppable. You can find an inspired solution from a higher place but first you must accept that you presently don’t have it.
My own technique that uses Cantor’s diagonal I call the Five of Seven because it solves 5 out of 7 problems at once. These numbers are chosen because they are larger than most people’s limit of conceivability of four. Setting the problem up like this makes an analysed solution almost impossible and an inspired solution almost certain. First you reduce each of your 7 problems to logical primitives using reductio ad verum or “reduce to the truth”. Then you cycle them through some semantic speed dating while heating with Brownian business motion until it pops! It works like a charm!
So there you have it, there is no mystery. Philosophers of Innovation do just what you expect them to: they apply profound truths towards practical ends. Now you know!
An Allegorical Journey
- Part One -
ANALYSIS and INSPIRATION
"Do that on your own time, while you're working for us we expect results!"
There are two ways to solve a problem: analysis and inspiration. Analysis breaks the problem down into tiny pieces and looks for clues and patterns in the rubble. Inspiration assembles solutions from many sources to create a new one. An analytical solution can solve a problem in a predictable fashion. An inspired solution can solve several problems at once, but it's a gamble. Analysis is considered to be a proper use of time while inspiration is often seen as scary and weird.
Analysis is straight forward and mechanical, we start with the known and squeeze it and hopefully we'll squish out some unknowns. We can program computers with only a fraction of our brain's thinking power to analyze large amounts of data. Time spent searching for an inspired solution on the other hand may or may not produce a result, but the results are usually better. We start with the unknown and coax it to produce something new in a flash of insight. If your track record of finding inspired solutions is spotty or even dismal then you won't have the confidence necessary to see a solution through.
Currently interest in analysis is peaking, people are going crazy for Machine Learning, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. It seems that any alternative to creative thinking is preferable to creative thinking. This article is about the technique of using allegorical thinking as a tool that can find inspired solutions. It's not as scary as some people think! Although it is weird, and always will be.
THE LUXURY of THINKING
The human brain contains around 100 billion neurons with 100 trillion interconnections. It monitors 200,000 sensors 10 times a second, and on a good day with all this in working order, you are able to think four conscious thoughts at the same time. This four we will call your power of conceivability or POC, it fluctuates throughout the day, the year and your life. So from 100 trillion to 100 billion to 200,000 to 4: conscious thoughts are very expensive. Occam's Razor tells us to always consider the simplest solution to a problem. Biology does't follow that rule, as this animation on the 4 modes Leucocyte Extravisation makes abundently unclear.
So how can our small drop of conscious awareness solve big problems that have dozens of parts and interactions? We can move over the complexity one piece at a time like this car engine being rebuilt. But we would have to go over it many times and increase our POC to hold all the parts in our brain at one time. But problems usually have more than four relevant items to consider. We could use a model. With a model we can trade some of the external complexity in exchange for higher understanding, just as our brain filters out details it considers extraneous when choosing which perceptions to feed to our conscious minds. But what if we lose some things in the simplifying that we ended up needing? What if our model drops some details that are necessary? We need a high quality model.
COMPLEXITY as FAMILIARITY
Using a model that wraps the omitted complexity in familiarity will help solve this problem. We all have a very powerful physics engine built into our brains, it's how we can throw and catch and predict which things will be okay after falling on the floor and which things will not. So familiarity with physical properties like gravity, friction, and material qualities can soak up the otherwise skipped over complexity. The value of a model is how much accurate real world information can be stuffed into it with appropriate analogies. So in our allegorical model we will look at the tools and equipment that one would use while journeying on a real landscape, and see where we can find metaphors for creative qualities.
|Ethics and Morality are your boots. They determine how softly you step on the world and insulate you from the cold and sharp edges. Ethics is a code of conduct supplied by an outside source, and morality is rules and principles committed to by one's inner self.|
|Kindness is your gloves. Whether you touch the world harshly or softly depends on having well padded gloves. Good kindness will also insulate and protect you from getting damaged.|
|Empathy is your radio headset. It can tell you how others feel even when nothing is visible or said out loud. Not everyone has a radio set and some people don't keep theirs tuned up or working properly.|
|Confidence is your scarf. It keeps you warm in frightful weather and insulates you from cold and rejection.|
|Self Awareness is your jacket. Taking pride and confidence in yourself will be visible on your jacket.|
|Humility is your pants. "Keep it in your pants" is an old saying and still good advice today. A good set of humility keeps you from waving your private bits out there for all to see.|
|Communication is a Cat's Cradle. It passes back and forth between you and others creating new and interesting things unless it's something you've see before. It takes some effort to keep going and it all happens on just a simple string.|
|Self Worth Self Worth is your back pack rebreather. It recycles your self worth/oxygen so you stay alive and in the game. People without a good rebreather can conk out and lay down by the wayside.|
|Quality of Perception is a mirror. It reflects the brightest light you can find onto others so they know where you are. It can even light fires on occasion but gives a poor image (strangely) when turned on oneself.|
|Love is your Warm Breath that can thaw things out and make them warm again.|
High Tech Extras
|Balance and Direction is a gyroscope. It tells you which way is up even when the world around you goes tilted and eccentric.|
|Fairness and Perspective is high tech binolulars. They allow you to see events in proportion from big to small as well as short and long periods of time. Some people have a primitive set while a few people have an amazing pair.|
|Creativity is a force projector that can extrude a long pole for pole vaulting and create foam pad for soft landings. Everyone must build their own and only a few people have a good one.|
There are a lot of techniques for finding inspired solutions to problems. But they won't make sense to people who haven't yet trained on the basics. Having a rational world view, free from pseudo science and strong in critical and logical thinking is essential. If you are twisted with biases, are a sucker for fallacies, hold strong beleifs on faith only, can only see yourself and have little or no empathy then the paths of inspiration will be closed for you. Before you can use high level thinking techniques you must learn about biases, fallacies, become flexible and tolerant.
In the next installment, we will use our tactical equipment to venture out onto a metaphorical land of adventure. See you soon!
An Allegorical Journey:
- Part 2 -
In the last post we discovered that metaphors and allegories, when done accurately, can communicate complex topics much better than explicit words. Words are imperfect, mean different things to different people, get mis-heard and can cause a "pixelization" of ideas. In your mind you may see complex swooping curves but when put into words they come across as blocky stairsteps. With much of the subtlety missing. In our goal to create an accurate analog of the creative process, we began by equating essential qualities of character to outdoor hiking gear and equipment. The qualities of rational thinking, perspective, morality and resistance to biases, fallacies, dreams and con games are as necessary in a metaphorical landscape as clothes and devices are in the real world. With your gear and kit ready to go, you head on out.
A Beautiful Day
So you're in an allegorical landscape of ideas, just walking along minding your own business, when whack! an invisible wall hits you all down your front. What the hell? That really hurt! You feel forward but discover nothing there. Well that was odd. Not wanting a repeat of that you turn to your right and take a few steps forward. Suddenly you are overcome with nausea and your body refuses to move. Leaning forward with your hands on your knees, you spit a few times (expecting to vomit) and try to control the dizzyness. But you can't. So you turn around and head back the other way, into immediate relief. Now this feels good! You pick up the pace and begin to enjoy the day. Ahhh the sun! That sky! The ecstasy of ... Oooop! Suddenly you are lifted up in the air by an unseen force and spanked repeatedly on the bottom, really hard. then dumped on the floor in a heap of pain and anguish. Ouch! What the hell is going on?
Full of pain and bruises you regain your feet and limp back the way you came. Up ahead is an innocuous looking cafe, The Parable Pit Stop. You step in and take a grateful seat, in a comfy padded booth. Time to take stock of the situation and figure things out. The waitress takes your order and leaves you with fresh cutlery and a new place mat. That was pleasant. So you crank up your analyzing brain to an intense pitch, going over everything that just happened, trying to explain the bizarre events. But you can't. Now you're exhausted, so you relax and stop obsessing. You slow down, your breathing becomes calm, and you look out the window, Across the street is a dust devil, a tiny tornado spinning between buildings. As you watch it loses stregth and slows down. The dust and trash held aloft falls gently to the ground, and lies still. Looking down at the place mat, you see that it's covered in words and illustrations:
Logical Wonders of the World!
Episode 3: The Undefinability of Truth
In 1933 Polish mathematician and logician Alfred Tarski proved that no language can provide it's own definition of truth. Any sufficiently complex language can make statements, pose questions and provide answers. Except for the question "What is truth?" No language can answer this question for itself but an answer can be provided by a meta language of a higher power.
Let's say we are speaking English and it contains 20,000 words. Each word is assigned a unique number so the entire language is a set of numbers from 1 to 20,000. Statements and questions are then equivalent to an arbitrary group of numbers. But not every sentence will make sense since they are subject to the rules of grammar. Many will be gibberish. An example sentence could be of the form [18, 137, 42, 3, 21, 1536] For whatever arbitrary selection of words there will be an equation in a meta language that will produce those numbers. Like the text processing language awk. An equation that produces a sentence is like compressing a computer file using a zip algorithm. For any group of numbers between 1 and 20,000 there will be an equation that can specify those words. The equation that produces the sentence will have only first order terms like x as opposed to a second order term like x squared. Except for the question What is truth? The equation necessary to provide the answer to that question will contain an x squared or a second order term. But our target language English does not contain the concept of a word squared. So English cannot define it's own predicate of truth.
But a meta that language contains English and is able to manipulate it will be able to answer the question What is Truth? In a similar way, this meta language will be unable to provide it's own definition of truth, but another meta language of higher power will. So if you are speaking in a language of straight lines with terms like x, and ask What is truth? the answer can only be provided by a language of squares with terms like x squared. If you ask in a language of squares What is truth? the answer must come from a language of cubes that contains terms like x cubed. And so on. The concept of truth therefore exists in a structure of nested concentric circles of languages, each one able to define truth for the smaller one contained with in it, and relying on it's own definition from the language above it.
Wow, you think, that's some heavy duty place mat, how many people are actually going to read that? Or commit to understanding it? You look for the copyright notice but don't see any. Who prints stuff like this? Your meal arrives and it's delicious. A light and satisfying lunch of cole slaw, turkey sausage, various pickles and fruit crisp.
So you head back out and retrace your steps. Things still look mostly the same, yet wierd. The land seems to vibrate with energy and many edges have multi colorored halos. You reach up to scratch your head and are shocked to discover that you're wearing goggles. That's odd, you have never been aware of any goggles before. You pull to take them off which is difficult as they are really stuck. Finally you rip them off and examine them, the manufacturer's name is ISKRAT. The lenses are curious, they are lined with tiny angled prisms in the shape of slats. They break up light into straight directions, like a diffraction grating. To look through them shows the world without depth, in 2 dimensions instead of 3. The straps have worn grooves into the sides of your head, you have been wearing them for a long time. Without knowing it.
Now you look out on the world with your bare eyes and are astounded by what you see. You are in a mountainous land of rocks, cliffs and canyons. Not at all like the flat land you had presumed before. At the spot where you were whacked hard in the front, now stands a solid wall of rock. Before it had been only a line on the ground. Again you turn to your right and a few steps later you are perched at the top of a dizzying cliff. This had been where your body had refused to move and you felt intense nausea. Going back the other way you encounter a steep downward slope of large rocks. This is where your bum had been spanked mercilessly as you slid down, out of control. There at the bottom is the heap that you had ended up in. The land was crazy when viewed in 2D, but in 3D it makes perfect sense. Thank you Alfred Tarski! Your logical proof has made a dangerous landscape navigable. Well, after you took off the goggles.
You look around and see other people. They are tripping over rocks, walking smack into solid walls, sliding down cruel slopes and falling off cliffs. Some of the people had even just come out of the same cafe you did. Did they not read the place mat? You look at their eyes and see the tell tale glint of slats. Some people have just a few wide slats that completely cover their field of view. They are the intolerant people who's minds have been fixed along harsh lines for most of their life. The few slats of their goggles are so close together that only the thinnest strips of the outside world can get through. Looking through them must be very flat indeed. Their straps have become completely absorbed into their heads. Good luck getting those off, even if they had the will to do so. These people have many bruises and sore bones, it's the accumulated push back and repurcussions of their actions from places they didn't comprehend.
Your goggles had been built with many more slats, some were extremely fine. You had prided yourself on being open minded but your vision had still been slanted along fixed lines. Your biases. You realize that it's one thing to know of Tarski's logical proof, and quite another to understand it, then take off the distorting goggles. To see the world as it truly is. The landscape of creative innovation is mountainous, to move through it requires skill at climbing up and down dimensions. The tendency to see higher truths from higher places is strong. Might there be a summit? A place with the farthest views in every direction?
Up ahead you see a small number of people that like you aren't wearing any goggles. They seem to vibrate with energy, and are enveloped in multi colored halos.
An Allegorical Journey:
- Part 3 -
In our last episode we saw how efficiently allegories hold information. Instead of discarding subtleties that may be meaningful when searching for innovations and inventions, we roll them up into familiarity and they are retained. We all remember childhood fairy tales like Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and Pinochio. But how many of us can remember the last "7 Secrets of Success" story we read? How about the last 2 or 3? No way right?
Allegories resonate with ideas that our emotions and bodies naturally understand. Good ones produce a rich environment that bubbles up with new places for familiar observations to fit in. Insights gained from a good allegory aren't static but grow over time. An inspired view of epiphanies will usually be more profound than an analytical view.
When one steps out onto a metaphorical landscape, the land is shaped by the big logical truths of existence: things that are true everywhere in the Universe. And every other Universe that could ever exist. Any innovative thinker that ignores this will get bumped and bruised. We saw how Tarski's Undefinablity of Truth creates a terrain of mesas, buttes, terraces and mezzanines. Navigating in and out of other dimensions is how we get around safely and reach higher goals. The concept of an object language that one speaks, and it's meta-language that sets rules, runs programs and defines truth, is the vertical dimension in this allegorical world. It's why there are heights to be scaled or leapt over.
Recently I journeyed out onto a metaphorical land, looking for inspired ideas. The terrain started out flat but soon shaped up into hills and valleys. After that, not too much. I stopped marching ahead with purpose and instead milled around with no clear destination. A small rock was on the ground and I kicked it off into space. Wow, look at that thing go. Then something happened to the color of the light, it changed from white to a different hue. The words in my head stopped. I felt I was now 5 times faster, or the world 4 times slower.
In a burst I knew what my next thought was going to be: "Seriously? This is really happening?" but before I could think it, a large area of land rose up, like an elevator, to a higher elevation, with cliff like sides. Taking me with it. Ooh that felt good. I really enjoy the dopamine spikes that come with moments of clarity. I might even have a problem around it.
The view from up here was better, but it wasn't really great. It was nice, but nothing spectacular. I walked around the perimeter to see if I could find any other places where this might lead. No higher levels appeared so I took to examining the new land closely. I analyzed it. But still nothing. Analysis is necessary but can't solve all problems. Best to not get too exhausted or worn out about it. I laid down in the grass and imagined all sorts of crazy shapes in the clouds. I did a few sit ups and checked my pockets for carrots. Didn't find any.
I noticed the color of the light had changed again. But it was super faint. I got up and walked around looking for where the new light was stronger. Now that it was constant and not just a burst, I could see that the new color was pink. I was looking for a place where the light is pink. It's terrificly subtle. At soon as I thought this, another piece of land rose up again, this time larger and higher. It didn't take me with it, though I did get another dopamine hit. I would have to find a way to climb up there. It occurred to me that I will soon want to invite friends and guests to this new place, and that stairs will be essential. While I may be able to scale vertical walls, my visitors probably won't.
So I decided to invite the tourists to the place where I currently stood, and leave that higher place for later. Other chunks of land then rose up, but to lower elevations from where I was, forming an easy set of steps. People unfamiliar with this place could use them to walk up easily. I felt I had learned a valuable lesson: one must not only conjure higher places, but also provide a usable path that others can follow. I headed back into town, wondering What's for lunch? It had taken me four days to get this far. Waiting for ideas takes time. Lying in the grass and looking at clouds is part of the process. It would be nice to be able to speed it up.
On my way back to The Parable Pit Stop, I imagined chatting with the waitress, and making her smile. Then I saw a shop with products in the store window. The sign read "Metaphor Equipment Co-op." There was all sorts of strange looking gear on offer. In the center of the display was the featured special, a large and complicated looking gun. Like the sort used in construction. The card read: Complex Inverter. The price was listed in two currencies: 15 Courage units and 19 Honesty. I read the front page of the instruction manual. It told of the marvelous things the tool can do. Like discovering new dimensions, looking behind obstacles, and reusing existing paths to get to new places. This sounded like just the sort of thing I was looking for, so I stepped inside to check it out.
An Allegorical Journey:
- Part 4 -
The Complex Inverter
The Opposite of Anything
The Ultimate Inversion Tool
In our last episode we saw how the default mode network in our brain halts a fraction of a second before an epiphany arrives. This event has been confirmed in fMRI studies. That brief moment is like seeing a flash of colored light. People who have had lots of epiphanies will also know one is coming up to several hours in advance. It's an extremely subtle perception that is like living in light that has gone slighly pink.
Having an inspired thought is like a new piece of ground that rises up sometimes taking you with it. Higher ground is nice but you need some steps as well so that others can follow and enjoy the new views with you. Epiphanies can sometimes take days to arrive and the need for thinking tools that can expedite them is strong. In this article we are introduced to complex inversions, the most often used, bread and butter tool of them all. It is presented as a piece of outdoor gear as a mnemonic device to help remember all that the process can do.
Conversing with Cassie
I went to a local alley party on the weekend to visit the neighbors. There I set up my tray of bubble fluid and big loop so people could make giant bubbles. It's always a big hit with the kids. At one point I sat down in a comfy chair and smiled at the people as they mingled by. Soon a young lady named Cassie sat in the chair next to me to enjoy her meal of salad and sausage.
She asked me my age and I told her. I asked for hers and she told me. She said she didn't like her name Cassie and planned to change it soon to Lena. I asked if she liked fruit and she said "Yes of course!" She then mentioned cherries and I agreed they were fantastic. I mentioned pineapple and she was a bit skeptical. She asked if I would eat a whole slice of pineapple and I assured her that I would eat the whole pineapple! Then she said the most amazing thing.
"It would be bad if you went to jail. But what if they sent you to a fruit prison? Where the walls and bars are all chocolate covered fruit and cookies? And you could just eat your way out? And handcuffs? No problem! They're just tomatoes!"
I laughed and slapped my knee. Cassie was hilarious! She went off to get more sweet pepper slices and I got up and hung around a circle of neighbors. At one point I had something to say so I began
"I was just chatting up a girl named Cassie and ..." I had to pause because they all laughed. At first I wondered why but then it was obvious. Here was Cassie's parents and she's 5 years old.