This blog is not about the necessity of patents in business. As a newbie employee that received recognition plaques and checks for patents, to an entrepreneur and employer that found patents to be necessary for our line of business and finally to the joys of contributing freely to open source projects, I have mixed feelings about patents. But what I wanted to talk about is the recognition plaques themselves. I have over 17 patents listed on my LinkedIn Profile from a mix of industries from Computer Graphics, Network Security, Distributed Computing to name a few. I have no idea what some of them mean. But recently I was cleaning up my house and found some old patent recognition plaques that I simply didn’t know what to do with. So like any insane person, I dumped them in the trash.
Patent Recognition Plaques
Here’s how the conversation went with my 11yo when I asked him to take a picture of me dumping the recognition plaques:
Me: Can you please take a picture of me dumping the recognition plaques?
11yo: No Dad, you should keep it.
11yo: Because! We’ll need a wall in the house with all your patents there.
Me: But, it’s already there in USPTO and it’s the idea that matters, not the plaque itself
11yo: Still, look it’s golden, shiny and looks really cool (Wife rolls her eyes)
Me: Who do you think makes these recognition plaques?
11yo: The government?
Me: Huh nope, it’s a company that’s in the business of selling this to you, but if you like it so much, how about we put them in your room next to your bed?
11yo: No way!
My wife and I are going around spring cleaning the house and we are finding things, stuff and cruft that’s accumulated over many years. We simply don’t have any use for them and they are purely there to clutter up our house. But seriously though, why does one need physical recognition plaques? We hang ’em up on walls, for what reason and then what? Vanity perhaps? Look, I don’t meant to get all Buddha on anyone, but I’m finding more and more that owning and having less things makes me happier. Maybe I’m getting to the point where I’m waiting for the stop sign to turn green (true story!). Maybe because I’ve been running so much that on the trail, life boils down to some very simple things: food, water, here, now and not tripping and falling on stumps and roots. Just basic necessities. Every distance runner that I know is always looking for those 10 seconds where the rest of the world dissolves and just the trail and footsteps are the only thing that matters.
Scott Jurek in his book, Eat and Run talks about conscious living, which is about not how much we have, but how we live. That includes paying attention to what we eat. In a local high school environmental club movie event, I learned that if everyone in the world lived like people do in the United States, we would need seven earths worth of resources. That’s how much crap we collect , own and use. The Bag It documentary (you have to watch it) has really made me pay attention to the amount of disposable plastic we consume. My wife and I try and use reusable mesh bags as much as possible to buy vegetables. And I try to remember not to ask for straws to drink water from a glass. Think about it, do you really need a one-time disposable piece of plastic (that can last forever) when you can drink straight from the glass? Lastly, notable evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman, in his classic interview with Edge notes: “We love comfort, and people make a lot of money selling us comfort, but I would challenge the notion that comfort is usually good for us”.
Maybe it’s time to simplify and declutter our lives. Running definitely seems to have that effect on people. And lately I don’t even bring home the finisher’s medals. T-shirt and pictures from the race, yes, but medals, no. What do you do with your recognition plaques?
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