28 February 2005

Decisions, Decisions

In going through the motions of mapping my mental mindset, I found I had to rediscover that inevitable of truths. In the end, the choice is your alone. Sure, you guys all act like you have this whole freewill independance thing all figured out. But I know you struggle with direction and purpose just as much as I do. Maybe I'm just more vocal with my tantrums. This past couple days as I reflected more on goals and motivations I kept coming face to face with the beauty of personal choice. Over and over, in different situations, in movies, television, a few newspaper articles, Slashdot posts, other blogs and so on. The idea that we get to choose. No, not that we get to choose. That we must choose for ourselves. Ultimately even our inactions are choices we must accept. It's the pleasure and peril that is freewill. God gave us this amazing gift, and it both lifts us up and allows us to wallow in the depths. It's such an attractive ideal, until you realize that responsibility is the remuneration we accept in return. So if we all have to own up to what we've done, then why does so much of life seem unfair? Evil triumphs, the good-looking bad people win, those with integrity or ethics get taken walked on and abused, the selfish hoard successes and so on. Is it just a future type of thing?
We are never alone Bringin' down angels today His promises are true he's always Closer than we're far away - By The Tree
I choose to believe that what we do impacts not just the future, but the now. The today. That holding to my character, standing firm in my integrity isn't just the harder road. That it will be the better road. After all, the way might be narrower and harder to walk, but His burden is light, right? That's the idea anyway. I guess the baggage only gets lighter when you give it up. That's the non-obvious part. So we get to make our own decisions, now what? Where's the litmus test for good decisions? How to be sure that my decisions are deliberate and dependable. I feel that baggage starting to build up again...

24 February 2005

Funny how He knows...

I finished writing my little spew, was doing some email, noticed a comment and as usual followed the author back to see their writings. I found several amazing posts that were quite striking in how they were speaking to the very issue I was reflecting on. Albeit their posts were much more eloquent and ultimately...insightful. Well, just go check it out for yourself if you don't believe me: Taking The Easy Way Out.

The Dream of an Endeavor

Why is it that the mind is willing but the flesh is weak? With all the modern conveniences and the fast pace of life it would seem it should be getting easier to accomplish what you want. Instead it's like it gets harder. Of course, that could just be me. Lately, the idea of a goal seems too ethereal for my own shallow cortex. It is as if it were some Dyson-esque concept that my minute mind can scarcely comprehend. Now that I think about it, it's more like those Jello cubes that have been left on the picnic table in the sun just a little too long. They look like you could just pick 'em up and pop 'em in your pie hole. But no matter what you do, squeezing hard, squeezing gently, they just slip right out and end up running down your shirt. Honestly, I think the biggest inconsistency in my world view these days is in my goals. Put bluntly, I really don't have any. Once you lose the things you really care about, all the other things lose that much luster too. I guess I never realized how much of my life was driven by so little. Here's hoping I'm not the only one who's ever felt this way. What I find most altered is when I see my friends chasing futures and vocalizing their youthful yearnings. Once upon a time, I would have been taken in, I would have helped. I would have encouraged and mentored and consorted with them. They wouldn't have found a more avid believer in their success. Now I smile and mumble encouragements. When they ask questions and postulate their plans I mentally punch holes like a cynical cinema critic. Whereas before I would have overlooked their capacity for failure and compensated for their own lack of commitment, now I reserve my ideas, and don't profer my insights. How selfish I've become. Sometimes I think it's because of all I've lost that I cling so desperately to my own sense of self. Like I'm afraid that any part of me I invest in any part of anyone will be stolen too. What a crock, eh? The time was when I was the first to call that out for whining drivel. After all, if you don't love you won't get hurt. If you don't love, you don't live. Isn't that it? Nowadays my love is frail, tentative, aloof. Oh, don't be decieved, you wouldn't know my weaknesses just from knowing me. I am a servant still. But that is where true selfishness lies, doesn't it. I choose this life each day, each minute, conscious, calculating and committed. Truly it is one of the only things I'm good at. Single-minded and determined I proceed persistently in perseverance. My father once said, "If you want to stop smoking, stop smoking." Freakin' genius. The concept he so ridiculously reduced in this rhyme was that if you want to do something, you should just do it. Don't talk about how you are going to do it. Don't hesitate and deviate, just get it done. Boy, if that isn't me. The problem arises when you don't know what you want to do? These days, for the first time in my life, I just don't know what to do. I've been there and done that. I've had everything I wanted and had it stolen. What now? You know what they say about the greyhound who actually caught the rabbit. They're no good after that. Okay, so this got a little morose. Actually, it's a serious reflection, not intended to be a downer. Just something I've been thinking about lately. How do other people set their goals? What motivates you? What gives you a sense of security about your future?

Be My Escape

I’ve given up on giving up slowly I’m blending in so you won’t even know me Apart from this whole world that shares my fate And this one last bullet you mention Is my one last shot at redemption Cause I know to live you must give your life away And I’ve been housing all this doubt And insecurity And I’ve been locked inside that house All the while you hold the key And I’ve been dying to get out And that might be the death of me And even though there’s no way of knowing where to go I promise I’m going Because I got to get out of here I’m stuck inside this rut that I fell into by mistake I got to get out of here And I’m begging you I’m begging you I’m begging you to be my escape I’ve given up on doing this alone now Cause I’ve failed and I’m ready to be shown how You’ve told me the way, and now I’m trying to get there And this life sentence that I’m serving I admit, that I’m every bit deserving But the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair Because I got to get out of here Cause I’m afraid that this complacency is something I can’t shake I got to get out of here And I’m begging you I’m begging you I’m begging you to be my escape And I am a hostage to my own humanity Self detained and forced to live in this mess I’ve made And all I’m asking is for you to do what you can with me But I can’t ask you to give what you already gave I fought you for so long I should have let you win Oh, how we regret those things we do And all I was trying to do was save my own skin Oh, but so were you. --Relient K

23 February 2005


Too often we are scared. Scared of what we might not be able to do. Scared of what people might think if we tried. We let our fears stand in the way of our hopes. We say no when we want to say yes. We sit quietly when we want to scream. And we shout with the others, when we should keep our mouths shut. Why? After all, we do only go around once. There's really no time to be afraid. So stop. Try something you've never tried. Risk it. Enter a triathlon. Write a letter to the editor. Demand a raise. Call winners at the toughest court. Throw away your television. Bicycle across the United States. Try bobsledding. Try anything. Speak out against the designated hitter. Travel to a country where you don't speak the language. Patent something. Call her. You have nothing to lose and everything, everything, everything to gain. JUST DO IT. -- Nike

22 February 2005

Just a Reflection

Can you lose your salvation? This topic has come up recently in several conversations and comments. The most obvious situation was in talking with one my friends who was having a discussion with his religion professor. In working through the keys to the conversation and pressing him on his own beliefs and views it was a good opportunity to hear my own perspective. This subject has been much debated and like a lot of doctrine, it is in my opinion, one of the many incomprehensible aspects of God. Not that it can’t be known or accepted as fact, but that the limitations of our humanity don’t allow us to fully comprehend the true nature of salvation. After all, we have the essential self-centeredness that makes freewill possible. Rather than regurgitate what others believe, I’m laying down my own perception. This is more for me, to clarify and solidify my own position. In no way am I judging or disdaining those who might believe differently. For me, as for others, this passage is a crucial part that makes up my life-view: My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. --John 10:29 There are numerous other passages such as: For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. --Romans 8:38-39 These obviously speak to the immutability of salvation. All of this is before you move into the discussion on the aspects of salvation and theology which transcend time. I don’t want to get off down a rat-hole about predestination and other fun (albeit confusing) topics, so these passages should suffice. But then you have to reconcile the unshakeable hold and timelessness of salvation with this passage: Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. --Matthew 7:22-23 And of course the heatedly argued: For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. --Hebrews 6:4-6 How can there be such contradictions? Well, simply put, they don’t contradict each other at all. They must be examined in context and applied consistently before sense can be made from them. The Matthew passage is pretty simple. This passage is speaking about those who are not really saved. There will be those who imitate belief but have not received salvation. These people will even imitate the fruit of a believer in works. But without relationship there can be no salvation. Actually, this is one of my key reasons for railing against the church so often. I won’t get off on that tangent here though. The Hebrews text is a more involved passage. In context it becomes more apparent that he is talking about those who really are saved but no longer show fruit. The text is speaking about faith in works. They have fallen away from repentance, not salvation. They haven’t lost their salvation, but have lost their ability to witness or impact others in a service to God. The repentance written here is clarified early in the chapter as “repentance from dead works”. There is more in this book which speaks to believers about showing their faith in works. This sets us up nicely for handling the inevitable fallout from a position in which salvation cannot be lost. Of course, there is much in scripture about this, but it’s painfully obvious here: What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? --Romans 6:1-2 This is a strong admonition about living life in avoidance of sin. What I like a lot about this passage is that the nature of sin or the strictures of a godly life don’t even fall into play. Simply that those who are saved cannot live in sin. For me, this is another big nail in the coffin of religion over faith. What I think causes much of the confusion are the underappreciated facets of salvation. Salvation isn’t something that happens when you die. It is something that happens now; it is salvation that brings the change, the change does not bring the salvation. Those who seek salvation aren’t looking for the eternal life to come; they are looking for the change today. In wrapping this up, I realize that it really hasn’t calmed my convictions about salvation. The nagging nonsense about whether I am loved and treasured still creep in. The feelings of abandonment and loss still weigh me. How do I transition the joy in salvation into joy in life? Is feeling like a pathetic excuse for a servant a valid state of mind? When do I get to feel useful again? Am I impatient? Or just tired from carrying all this baggage?

21 February 2005

It's not the works...it's not the works...

Lately, I've had to revisit my personal perspective towards righteousness and rewards. It seems no matter how hard I try, no matter how consciously I know it, I can't seem to stop functioning as if I can earn my salvation. Am I the only one that falls into this trap? Surely there are others who find themselves going through the motions of goodness out of fear instead of desire for relationship. I've read a few blogs recently from various individuals who struggle also with the concept of Christianity being a fear-based religion. I guess my personal struggle is not so obvious or grandious. For me, it comes home in the little things. Like choosing a congregation, church or clique. Or in my speech. Or secrets. If you know me at all, you know I've never been the cool kid, never been part of the 'in' crowd, never been an object of desire. Most of the time I just make people uncomfortable, at least those who didn't cross the street when they saw me coming. ;-) It's one thing to be intellectually large, it's another to be intellectually clumsy. My appearance is changing, my aptitude is not. As I learn to fit my new skin, to embrace my new reality I've been realizing how compartmentalized my life is. In being open to all, I naively impact very few. I may not judge how people speak or dress or their taste in music. But I do let them judge me. See...there is that fear again. There goes that living by works again. Shouldn't I be me regardless of who I'm with? That's not really fair. Time has told, and predicaments have proven that I am still me regardless of the situation. I choose the same choices, I hold the same beliefs. I offend the same people, I eat the same crow. I stand up for the same reasons, I open my mouth with the same insensitivity. I discern with the same alacrity, expose the same lucidity. Me is me, and stays me. More so than many others. Few would disagree that my sense of self is less than sure and solid. With this in mind, the loophole I've been slipping through becomes clear in distinctly Holmes-ian fashion. I remain me, but impact so futilely those around me because I offer so little that IS me, outward. What a totally insidious and devious trick to play on oneself. I can't fail if I don't try. I can't be judged if I haven't done anything? Like the servant in Matthew 25: He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' How did I end up being that guy? When did I start living by fear? That's SO not me. Or at least not who I want to be. Now comes the change. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

19 February 2005

Mortimer Rocked

Once again, Neil and the boys put on a heck of a show at Suite G in Seattle. And they sold a few CDs, which is extra good news. If you weren't there, you missed it! But I think you'll be able to purchase CD's for those who want one. Check out mortimermusic.com for details. I've got to spend a day getting all my junk put back in boxes and shoved into storage. What a way to waste a perfectly good Saturday. I might get some help from my good friend Dan, and Nate said he might stop by too. Oooh, oooh. I forgot to tell ya! Nate brought a girl home this weekend. Big news, I know. But she's cool, so it's a good thing. It's always fun to watch a brother play. ;-)

17 February 2005

Tomorrow's the day...

Tomorrow night is the Mortimer release party at Suite G in Fremont. You should really show up. You'll have a good time. On a different topic, the hotel I'm staying at doesn't have a washer or dryer in it. Is it just me or is that a little odd? Anyway, it's a total pain in the butt because I have to go elsewhere to get my laundry done. Last week I had to take a cab all over the dang place and finally ended up in this total dive 24-hour place which was just gross and creepy. This week, I upgraded and managed to finagle into the facilities of another nearby hotel. Life just isn't complete until you've carried your laundry around town in plastic hotel valet bags. For those of you following the living situation saga, I still haven't found a place. I might have something with a friend up north, but who knows. At this point, I'll be officially homeless in another couple weeks. Of course, that shouldn't really change things much since I'm still on the road so much. If however you have some ideas, referrals, whatever, please don't hesitate to drop me a note. Here's something I really missed today. I loved that pooch...
Oh, and I'm down another 3 pounds for those keeping track. Now I'm off to bed, another big day tomorrow and a rockin' party tomorrow night. See you all there!

15 February 2005

Eric's a Stud!

It sure is easy to take people for granted. I'm the worst at that. Okay, sure people who know me will grudgingly admit that occassionally I'm considerate. But for the most part I'm a self-absorbed jerk whose capacity for egocentric behavior is surpassed only by you-know-who. Today, I was reminded how cool some of my friends can really be. Eric was the culprit in this current episode of Lifting The Spirit (a heartwarming tale about the unsuspecting kindness of others). Without even knowing it he boosted me. It was just a few polite phrases but just the fact that he took time to connect in the middle of a busy day made me smile. Sometimes I miss the sounding board that constant close personal contact provides. You don't always realize that you are carrying stress or worrying or just feeling morose. It's when you rub lives that you remember what it's like to have a genuine reason to smile. If you see my on the street (or pretty much anywhere for that matter) I'll be carrying a smile. If I'm listening to music it's probably an oversized wolfish grin that will make you wonder what I'm up to. But that's just me squeezing joy from existence. The joy I take in the happiness of others makes those smiles pale.
If walking in the sunshine with good tunes is a life in color, then experiencing a friend finding their bliss is hi-definition DLP.

14 February 2005

Snot Rock

Had a good air guitar jam session lately? They are a much needed escapade from time to time, if you ask me.
While cruising the online airwaves, I came across these guys. The band is a called Frickin' A. They've been gaining quite a bit of notoriety lately, especially in Boston during the Series because of their hit Merry Merry Merry Frickin' Christmas.
They've got a real shallow fun sound that is ideal for those of us who like to sing and flail as we drive. According to VH1 they prefer to call their sound Snot Rock, which you can kind of understand after listening to their music. My personal favorite is track #7, but their cover of Jessie's Girl is a fantastic update to a solid classic.
Hear tell their might be a video with a cameo from Springfield himself...

12 February 2005

10 February 2005

Stupid Beautiful Lies: No Cities Left

Stupid Beautiful Lies: No Cities Left This certainly got me to thinking about my own experiences.

Smart People Choke Under Pressure

LiveScience had an article about how Smart People Choke Under Pressure. In usually good form, this was picked up and picked apart by Slashdot. You can find some pretty insightful, humorous postings by a wide variety of in-duh-viduals. This particular article wasn't particularly arousing but it did get an interesting discussion about people who prefer to think creatively vs. rigidly; people who want to follow rules vs. people who prefer to ignore them, etc. At one point, some brainiac brought up the notion that engineers in general want to shy away from broad problems prefering highly focused tasks. Duh! Anyone who is essentially PAID TO THINK will desire specific deliverables to showcase the value of the effort. Without something specific to output we are at risk of not appearing useful. The poster must have been a managerial type because they tried to redeem themselves saying that the more you can work without information the more valuable you are. Rubbish. He basically tried to reason that McDonald's employees are more valuable than a geneticist working to cure cancer. Once again the Beast of Complete Ignorance has seduced yet another unwitting victim. The good news is that I was saved from having to retort by the rest of the Slashdot masses who quickly, relentlessly, and with prejudice handled the matter. One particularly good response induced me to write this entry. Essentially, the thesis on "why engineers want information" can be broken into a combination of four things. You really should read the full post, but here's the super condensed list:
  1. Bad management.
  2. Bad management, again.
  3. Bad design.
  4. Lack of test-cases.

This was, in my opinion, a solid breakdown of the fundamental risks associated with any engineering endeavor.

My response in both cases is that from my viewpoint they are both oversimplifying the issue. Engineering, in software terms, is the process of converting information into focused tasks and then executing those tasks. But is this what most non-computer engineers would tell you? For example, social engineers, mechanical engineers, even sanitation engineers? Okay, that last one was a little extreme. But my point is we want to put people in buckets. This is something I will always resist in almost any scenario. I just find it rarely ever is productive, but more negatively it reinforces a behavior of isolationism or elitism. These are two of my sworn enemies, but that's a topic for another post. ;-)

The implication in both posts is that they were focusing primarily on software engineers; people who make computer programs. An evolution that has been underway for most of electronic history is breaking down the walls between the analysts or business savvy types and those who can actually create the solutions required by the analysts or business savvy types. The largest software construction engine on the planet is focused on precisely this task. It started way back even before the days of Visual Basic when they were finally able to let just about anyone draw forms and tables on screen without programming. This same evolution continues today in virtually every business product line released, and in many that aren't just for business. Why else would you consistently see advertisements and spam for DVD-ripping software, or graphics editing programs? Do you really think the average in-duh-vidual grasps even a small percentage of how a DVD system works? With the help of software they don't have to. We have removed the necessity for them to have information while enabling them to be independently productive.

What both posts should have been focusing on, again just MHO; is that the art of creating great software and elegant systems falls into the domain of Architects and Designers. In the structural and mechanical industries we call these the Engineers and even require licenses for them. Those people who follow the rules and instructions and execute the steps to construct the finished product are technicians or laborers. If you want to talk about Engineering, don't confuse it with technical labor. If you have issues with the process of development, you have to seperate the implementation from the plan. Until we solidify a mindset that properly seperates these two distinct functions and abilities, the software industry will continue to fall prey to these generalizations and devaluations.

Of course, being primarily an Architect myself, maybe this is just my own form of hypocritical elitism.