The Brains Behind … Well, Just About Everything.

Do you remember that old United States Army slogan? The one that barks out: We get more done before 9am than most people do all day.

Yeah, I’m not so sure what level of commercial success those folks found when using that little jingle to advertise club membership in America. To be honest, I think McDonald’s research proved a little more triumphant when broadcasting their opinion of: You deserve a break today.

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Still, I bet most of us can probably think of one or two people who actually fit the bill for the timeline of military grade accomplishment. I’ve certainly met one.

Well, not exactly met, but saw interviewed.

Okay, not exactly viewed in person so much as watched on screen from a satellite feed.

Which was a little bit silly since the person was, in fact, interviewed in the next building over, not more than 100 yards away.

But I suppose that’s how someone like Elon Musk rolls, and it was quite fitting for the situation.

Now if you’re one of those folks who barely keeps up with the pace of how frequently your new president, prime minister, or monarch gets voted or crowned into office, then you might be more on par with my ability to track new faces thrust into the media spotlight.

No judgment.

So here’s the skinny on Mr. Musk: He is not a musician, a sports star, or a politician. He is not a reality TV character, an author, or a celebrity chef.

He is basically a giant brain supported by a couple of legs.

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In truth, Elon Musk may very well be all of the things mentioned above, but his accomplishments in those categories have yet to make headline news. But I’m sure if we all give him a minute or two, they’ll start to show up. He truly has the biological computing power equal to ten people, and seems to have fit each of their lifetime achievement awards into forty some years.

A few of this man’s accomplishments include co-creating PayPal, working as CEO and head of product design at Tesla Motors, occupying the chairman’s office for SolarCity, and oh yeah, in his spare time, he launches rockets into the great cosmos with a little company called SpaceX.

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The opportunity to hear Mr. Musk interviewed was brought to my attention by my daughter, when she announced he would be appearing on her campus as part of an aerospace symposium that would include some of the most current and historic superstars that have left their mark within the history of space exploration. Was I interested in throwing my name into the lottery with the hopes that we could get a couple of seats in the auditorium to see the Q & A?

Um, hell yeah.

Sadly, the lottery did not work in our favor, but the university kindly did not leave us standing in the lobby with our ears pressed against the theater doors. They set up a few more rooms where folks could watch big screens broadcast the interview for that ‘doesn’t it feel like you’re practically on stage with him?’ experience.

And truthfully, I think it was probably more revealing than sitting in the back of the auditorium just behind the woman with the hairdo that required its own zip code and the man who had set new physical records for height and breadth on his pediatric growth chart.

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The first thing I noticed was our guest speaker’s eyes. They were showing signs of more than your typical wear and tear. I turned to my daughter. “Somebody needs a nap.”

After initially shushing me, she said, “The man doesn’t have time to sleep.”

“I hope he’s not refusing his body the biological need to use the toilet as well in favor of harnessing an asteroid. I’m pretty sure there are a bucketload to choose from.”

My daughter ignored me. The great god of science was speaking. And if you didn’t closely pay attention, you could very easily miss out on an off the cuff statement announcing his next biggest venture. Mr. Musk was like that. Little pomp and circumstance. Just a casual comment about how now one of his companies was planning to reuse their rockets instead of allowing them to crash into the sea, another company was going to create a subsonic air travel machine that would flip folks back and forth from Los Angeles to San Francisco faster than one could make a sandwich, and yet another that is working on a solar powered, suborbital, metagalactic spacecraft that will not only stop time, but reverse it in 30 minute increments.

Okay, that last one I made up, BUT I WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED!

Elon Musk is a man who doesn’t just gaze up at the stars in wonder. Chances are he’s a guy who recently looked up and decided he was growing weary of the same ole same ole constellations each season, and according to the latest space frenzy gossip, will likely whip up 700 new satellites to blanket the Earth and provide global internet access. It might be nice to see some new bling on Orion’s Belt, right?

I suppose for a fellah who finds ideas spilling out of his brain at such a clip, and who regularly works a 100 hour week, it’s not unexpected to see his name and face splashed across the news as many times in a day as I brush my teeth—and I am all about dental hygiene.

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And it’s not a shocker to see how hard he’s working to get our butts onto Mars, to give us Earthlings a new pad to crash. Because one thing I recently discovered about the red planet is that its day has 37 minutes more than ours.

After learning this trivia tidbit, and having absorbed all that’s on this fellow’s ‘to do’ list in any given day, I’m guessing Mr. Musk is just hankering for one where he can get everything done and throw in a quick thirty minute kip to reboot.


Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

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68 thoughts on “The Brains Behind … Well, Just About Everything.

  1. He’s certainly a busy little bee isn’t he. I like the idea of the spacecraft that stops and reverses time so I can watch the lottery results then nip back and buy a ticket though I suspect I’d need the winnings to pay the fare.
    xxx Huge Hugs Shelley xxx

    • Oh, the things we could do, David! Nipping back to snag that lotto ticket, undoing the “yes” that came from your mouth when agreeing to an awful date, slapping yourself upside the head right before allowing your hairdresser to ‘try something they’ve been working on’–the list goes on and on.
      I’d never tire of the possibilities. But I’d likely grow depressed with just how poor my judgement is. 😛

  2. Wonderfully entertaining post yet again Shelley. I love the “bling on Orion’s belt” line. Your writing is as always very entertaining and always changing shape. Wish I could have experienced the interview with both you and Little C at your side. I know I would have driven her mad.

    Sir Rob, these are most definitely some of your best drawings. Your first drawing with Ronald MacDonald is probably my favorite… but the others in this article are so close.

    Please, keep writing and drawing. Oh, and I LOVE my new Gotta Have A Gott calendar! I hope to see another next year.

    Best to all,

    Stoshu 🙂

    • Yep, you would have loved it. And then probably found a way to get yourself up on stage to ask a few questions the interviewer was skimming over. It was brilliant, though, and if you have the time, click on the link in the text that says “Q & A.” You’ll get to see it.
      So glad you love your calendar. My daily dose of doodles keeps me chuckling every time I pass the pantry. (most visited spot in the house)
      Keep warm, buddy!

  3. What? I made the SECOND comment? I NEVER make it before the 30th response! Call me eager (or sad) but this blog MAKES my Sunday morning! Is the world wide web down or is everyone on the beach in Aruba?

    S 😉

  4. I often find myself mentally drifting when I listen to people who are that smart speak… I start hearing what adults sound like on Peanuts cartoons.
    Smart people, glad you’re out there, but I don’t get up till I have to.
    As always, a lovely post.

    • Ha! That is such a snort-worthy comment–the part about the Peanut’s adults. It does take a Herculean effort of concentration, in particular when someone seems to be speaking with words you’ve yet to be introduced to. Long ago, out of necessity, I learned how to sleep with my eyes open. I am now reaping the rewards of that little lack of foresight.
      Thanks for reading, and for sharing your words!

  5. It’s a busy weekend what with play-offs, Golden Globes, New Year’s resolutions to do something….I’m here 🙂 My hats off to Mr. Musk. I’m glad he’s the leader of the think tank provided he’s nice. I remember Robert McNamara, another brain on legs, who commented “Rationality will not save us.” All the brains in the world won’t help if we can’t empathize and be compassionate. Still. I’m envious you were in the next room to him. 😉

    • As is your custom, Cindy, you bring up a very valid point. Our planet is suffering and wrestling with an enormous blanket of sadness, grief, and disbelief at the fact that we cannot manage to collectively put our heads together to solve the issues of integration.
      I remain steadfast in my confidence that it is achievable though, just like my unshakable faith that Mr. Musk will one day find a way to beat the laws of physics and blow a giant raspberry on Einstein. (no offense to Einstein–as we share a few things in common–mostly our choice of hairstyle)
      Golden Globes tonight? Oh, hot diggedy, as next to Elon Musk, the two people I’d like to have dinner with most are Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

  6. Elon Musk. What a great name. With a name like that you have to do great things. Once again you have nailed a slider into the bleachers. Rather I end my Saturday with your blog or start my Sunday with it you and Rob never fail to amuse and titillate. Three cheers and a round of applause for you guys. Thanks for sharing.

  7. When I heard this name I actually had to look it up to see it was actually a real person! How strange to think of someone out there that has so much in his brain on so many different tangents. I really enjoyed your article not in the least because it made me learn something and of course the pix are always an artistic experience on their own!

    • I agree. That name was not one I came across on my own, but that’s the power of the presence of teen people. They thrust their weekly heroes beneath your nose, and when one or two of them begin to stick to that spot, I start paying attention a little bit more. Mr. Musk began to “reside” in our house for so long, I thought we might actually have to build an addition with another bedroom for him.
      His story is truly mind-blowing, and as far as individuals you’d like your kids to model themselves after–well, he so has my vote.

  8. I saw his interview on 60 minutes a couple of years ago. Fascinating.
    Love the humility. Love how he suffered at least one monumental failure, used it to motivate himself to his next best thing. Amazing.

    • Ugh–has this guy faced adversity. Probably more than a small third world country. And yet he has the unshakable belief in what he’s doing. Just keeps chugging along, determined and steadfast. (I see some similarities between the two of you, Nancy. 😉 )

  9. LOVE, love, love Rob’s cartoons. Another great post, Shelley. You make me smile and lighten up a dark, January day. I hadn’t heard of this brainbox, Elon Musk – his name alone is awesome – never mind his extensive cerebral power. I thought at first it was an anagram – almost is one of ‘moleskin’ or ‘lonesum’ plus spare ‘k’. 🙂

    Anyhoo, I had just heard on the radio about the launch of the space station supply ship (successful) using the potentially re-usable rockets (not so successful) designed by the eponymous Mr Musk’s company.

    Marvellous that you had an opportunity to almost see the great brain in the flesh.

    • Launch days are hair-raising and melodramatic events in this household, and alarm clocks are precisely set for the participation in them. The landing on the platform bit was announced at the interview I attended (this was back in October) and caused quite the ruckus of excitement as not many folks knew SpaceX was so close to testing their hope for success with this endeavor. It’ll happen. And soon. It’s all so wonderfully exciting–but I suppose more so if you’re a student in the field or employed within the industry. Still, for regular Joes like me (and I’m guessing you, Anne), it’s breathtaking to see the advancement in a range of areas that I understand only from the fringes.
      I’m so glad you like the post, Anne. Your comments have the same effect of brightening our winter spirits too!

  10. Rob, I’ve sat behind those people…you have captured them completely! How did you know?

    Shelley, I’m with you…I’d rather have a break since I’m largely non-functional before 9 a.m. Do you think Mr. Musk has already learned how to stop time, and this is how he gets everything done? Maybe he sold that invention to the military, too. That’s right, they’re cheating! That’s the only possible explanation. 😉

    • Huh, I never actually gave that a thought, Sue, but I think you must be right. How else could he truly get ALL of this done in half a lifetime. He is cheating with time. And he’s not sharing how he’s made this happen yet. Although, he’s clearly not taking advantage of the napping potential with the extra time. More often than not, it looks as if he’s been the unlucky recipient of a couple of black eyes from a bully on the playground. (although, this could be from peer engineers who are tired of him stealing the spotlight)

  11. Okay, okay, but can he make beef spare ribs to make you weep? I didn’t think so. Let’s keep things in perspective. Love this Shelley, I’m back from the dead! xxxx

    • I was just thinking about you today! Which is not surprising, as I think of you often, Ardys, but I feel it’s safe to say, keeping one’s nose above the water line is super challenging this time of year. I’m so glad to see your words.
      And from other interviews and articles I’ve seen about the Great and Powerful M, I think his diet is strictly anything that holds a significant amount of caffeine.
      (there’s got to be a power pill in there somewhere, right?)
      ❤ ❤

  12. Those kinds of people exhaust me just thinking about! Sometimes it’s a struggle to just get a couple of things done on my to-do, and people are out there learning how to automate it all. Nutty.

    I knew a girl like that in college, once. All energy and motivation. Hands always moving. New crafts being learned. 100 new hobbies a semester. And I couldn’t say she was a Jack of all trades, master of none… she was genuinely good at everything she tried.

    I can only stand back in awe. Me? I like my bed too much. Haha.

    • I think this is where we dip our toes into the gene pool. It has to be a Las Vegas lucky streak to be born with not only the cognitive power to conceive and generate to such a high degree, but also the ‘electrical’ juice to fuel and sustain the whole system. These peoples’ cells are surely different from the rest of us Joes–on a molecular level, wouldn’t you agree?
      It’s either that, or they’ve made a deal with the devil and there are going to be some spine-chilling paybacks once someone pulls the plug.
      We’ll wait and see.
      PS. Beds are beautiful.

  13. Sounds like you were appropriately impressed by the end of the speech. Good thing you had your daughter to alert you to this major event. I had no idea about this guy. You have a fun style. 🙂

    • Well, I’m appropriately impressed by being able to locate my socks in the morning, so I’m not a terribly accurate measuring stick. But according to journalists and engineers planetary-wide, this guy is the shizz. He’s certainly accomplished–no doubt, but more than anything, I’m drawn to his quiet confidence. He’s really interesting to listen to.
      Thanks for sharing your words. Cheers!

  14. What a post to come back to – I’ve been struggling to get myself sorted after Christmas and New Year and you present me with Elon Musk as a role model! I bet he never has trouble tracking down building contractors and sorting out building regulations. :S

    He is inspiring, though. I didn’t know much about him until I read your blog, but I’d heard the name and saw that apparently he loves Kerbal Space Program, which impressed son 2. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it’s a favourite of your daughter’s too, now I come to think of it.

    Robb’s pictures are brilliant as ever (the calendar arrived safe and sound, thank you so much) although I can’t help feeling guilty about how sticky-out my hair is now. I do usually try to sit at the back. :/

  15. I once worked for a mad genius who slept at the most four hours a night and then only because his wife ordered him too! Such intelligence can be a burden!

    • I agree wholeheartedly, Jan. I too knew a fellow like this. A physician who purportedly had no need for sleep. It was said that he’d occasionally wake up to discover that he’d passed out on the stairs for fifteen minutes, on his way to write a paper, or do some research. I cannot imagine the life!

  16. A friend, a right-wingish friend I might add, bought himself a Tesla not too long ago, raising the Musk-y consciousness in our crowd. Whatta guy.

    Funny cartoons!

    Do you think Musk is the Da Vinci of our time?


    • Now that is the million dollar question, isn’t it? And a thoughtful one to boot. I’m not sure how often Da Vinci’s come around, but I certainly don’t see a lot of carbon copy Musks either. Let’s hope Mr. M is just finding his stride right about now. There might be much more to come if he’s given fertile ground.
      Cheers, JB!

  17. Interesting post, Shelley. I live in Silicon Valley, so Musk’s name is bantered about quite a bit. We’ve slid our bottoms into the game-changing Tesla on one of our date nights. They have a showroom at Santana Row. You don’t see that every day. My husband works for a networking firm and just yesterday met with SpaceX. What a timely post, from my self-centered perspective.

    I followed your links and even looked him up on Wiki. He’s only 43, twice divorced with five sons. The man keeps himself busy and now we know why he only gets six hours of sleep. 😉

    Rob, your drawings are hilarious. I think View Blockers is my favorite, with the supported brain a close second.

    • Did you get to give it a whirl? I’d love to know how it felt on the road. It’s interesting to note the plan for the 2nd and 3rd runs of the brand–making them en masse and affordable (eventually). I think I’d seriously consider an electric car if it ended up being something I could pay for and was reliable.

      And how exciting about SpaceX. That place is incredible. Chloe interned last year for a fellow there–doing some mindbogglingly tedious work that I still can’t comprehend. It was done from one coast to the other, but I do remember many a night where she’d finish her homework around midnight or one, and just in time for her bi-weekly Skype calls to begin in California. She mentioned that the fellow she worked for ALSO never got any sleep and that this was the way of the company so she’d better get used to it. Ugh.

  18. azz yooz-you-hl, phun stuph! thanx 4 the “almost like i was almost there like you were almost there” 3rd or 4th row not-toadullee-bloct seat xxxpeerience. and yea, like many others, i’m starting to hear his name a lot. kind of like recently i was reading a couple different magazines in which each mentioned the guy (Turing?) your buddy CumberBreaches plays in “imitation game.” he may have been the Musk of his era. (without so many dependents, if ya ketch my adrift)

    • Well, I imagine you’d likely have understood a helluva lot more than I did as Mr. M. discussed his latest projects and hinted at his next reveals. But it was a worthy afternoon.
      And I’m so looking forward to seeing the Turing film–NOT for the cast–but rather the story. The other bit is just a side perk.
      (and yes, 😉 I caught it.)

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