29 April 2005

My Babies

The weekends are usually filled with all kinds of madness and chaos. But the weekends I spend with my babies are indescribably amazing. They are so beautiful, so awe-inspring, so perfect. Such joy when my son crawls in my lap to play cars or dinosaurs. He said I was the greatest. Ahh, my precious, precious baby boy... My daughter doing special little dances to 70's tunes is just the epitome of precociousness embodied.

Right now they are sleeping, but for a few hours the world was good. I felt no pain, no sense of uselessness and ineptitude. My babies smile and suddenly I remember what living feels like.

28 April 2005


This is outrageous. It's been raining in Denver since yesterday. They've had severe warnings. I had to walk back to my hotel last night through the coldest, rainiest wind I've ever known. Then when I went out to get some dinner it was snowing. I already put away my gloves and hat, and now I have to dig them back out. So this morning I figured it would surely clear up during the day. But no. Evidently biting wind, seeing your breath, and getting hailed on is normal for this time of year in Denver. It's May people, this is just messed up!

27 April 2005

Faith and Gifts

In most Judeo-Christian belief systems there is this concept of Spiritual Gifts. In a nutshell it is that through the Holy Spirit, God gives us "gifts". These gifts are abilities that come from Him, to do His work, and bless His people. For many this is dangerously close to that whole supernatural side of faith we so studiously avoid. Although it's not the easiest subject I wanted to get down some of my thoughts. If I have to take some lumps for broaching the taboo, so be it. In fact, my dad is probably going to have some choice words if and when he reads this particular post. He has been very influential in how I've constructed my own world view and he's usually quick to point out when I've left the beaten path. ;-)

Just what are these gifts? Well, let's start with Romans 12 which has a list of what are commonly referred to as "motivational" gifts. These are abilities which augment or assist our specific functions in the body of believers. These gifts are prophecy, ministry (read: serving or helping), teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership and mercy.

Another list of gifts can be found in I Corinthians 12:4-11. This list, in context, appears to be a list of abilities the Spirit may give to anyone in the body of believers specifically to meet the needs of an occasion. It would seem these are not abilities which permanently characterize the person exercising them, but are more situational in nature. This list includes words of wisdom, words of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues.

Later on in I Corinthians 12:27-28 we see an amalgam of both lists which can be taken to mean that there are people whose life is regularly characterized by the use of some combination of these gifts. It also implies that there is some overlap among the gifting and that a range of gifts is possible.

There are a couple of common stances on these gifts, aside from open acceptance. Firstly there is outright denial. This is usually focused on certain gifts, typically those involving God directly communicating with or intervening in the physical world. The argument is often presented that these gifts were only given to the apostles for the sole purpose of authenticating their message. Without the apostles, there gifts are no longer needed. This would belie a common assumption which is that God never gives us by supernatural means any more than the minimum that fulfilling His work absolutely requires.

Needless to say, I find the idea that God is stingy with His power to be illogical and absurd. Regardless of whether this is an active or passive assumption I find any attempt to box God to be mostly futile and conversely is an active way to turn believers from faith.

Another stance on these gifts is to limit their applicability. Typically this involves restricting their exercise to specific worship services or formal gatherings. There are numerous examples of their use in the streets so obviously limiting their use is also inappropriate.

There are of course other ways we limit and restrict the acceptance, and therefore exercise, of Spiritual Gifts and my goal is not to debunk them all. My aim was to address what I've recently felt where the most common of these limiting beliefs. In many ways, faith is like the force. If you don't believe in it, you can't use it. I believe our spiritual gifts are similar in behaviour. If we want to use them as we have been called to do, then we must accept them, and exercise them diligently.

Over my next several posts, I'll wander in and out of this subject. If there is a particular subject on which you'd like to hear more, please feel free to drop me a note. Sometimes it's nice to be able to broach a subject I know people want to hear about. You can't always be stirring the bees nest. If you don't stop stirring they get too dizzy and then just have bumbling bees. ;-)

MCSD.NET Finally

After much studying, test-taking, and general mayhem I have finally re-gained my Microsoft Certified Solution Developer for .NET credentials. Evidently I am now fully certified at doing the job I have been doing for the last decade. And all I had to do was provide unrealistic and improbable answers to a series of exams that cover mostly irrelevant subject matter. Thank you very much. I'll be here all week, don't forget to tip your waitresses.

26 April 2005

The Blackberry Death Rattle?

The last year has seen my interest in development for the wane considerably. Mostly this is because the abilities of the current platforms have pretty much plateaued. Don't get me wrong, I totally love my Smartphone and I've written my share of applications for both PocketPC and Palm. I guess you could say "Been there, done that". With the latest release of the compact framework there are certainly new abilities on the device, but not the order of magnitude increase that will really allow for new applications. Closer integration with Exchange server data might change that.

The upcoming releases of Windows Mobile (Magneto and Photon) might just change that. Firstly, getting on the same page with the fundamentals is imperative. Secondly, providing solid value-adds for media, .NET, hand-writing and connectivity go along way towards enabling software creators like myself to envision pragmatic new solutions.

If you'd read my writting for even a little while then you probably know that I don't always support it when consumers engage in another round of VHS-vs-Beta, lemming-like behavior. Sadly, this is another case where the ignorance of the few marketers, and the impatience of the many consumers had led the to prevelance of an inferior, non-standards-based, completely closed-source technology. For other examples see ReplayTV vs Tivo, IE vs Netscape, and AOL vs Everyone.

Along these same lines the Blackberry vs Smartphone debate is heating up. A recent announcement by Microsoft on Internet Week shows that velocity for the Smartphone is finally picking up. I think there is still a lot of life left in the Blackberry simple because of the market share they've already claimed. However, a few key wins could well change the tide and make life easier on the poor architects like myself. We like open-standards, stable code-bases, and feature-rich infrastructures upon which to construct our masterpieces of technology; these foundational pieces which have been seriously lacking from the mobility landscape to date. I guess we are just lazy that way.

25 April 2005

Weekend Update

This weekend was beautiful in Arizona. I got to hang out with and their families. My nephew had a baseball game and several other relatives were in attendance. Then on Sunday after church we ran into another of my cousins and her children. It's refreshing that everyone is staying in touch. And a good reminder that I need to be around more also.

Mya & Friends
I went to visit my littlest sister at her place. I've hung out with her and her friends before and they are a fun group. She hates it when I take her picture.

Trampoline Fun
Friday night I went to a movie with my younger sister Charity and stayed at her house. Her son Sebastian is just freakin' adorable! The next day we went to Mindy & Cedric's house. My nephews got freaky on the trampoline. I should point out that Sebastian loves baseball and has amazing motor skills. The kid can through far and accurately, and he can catch and hit well beyond what you'd expect.

Family Lunch
We all went to lunch at Red Robin. It was good to spend time watching my sisters take such good care of their families. Sometimes you don't really how easy that is to miss. Afterwards we went and saw Robots at the theatre. Mindy loves to get there early, but time passes quickly when you are with people you love.

Darius' Baseball Game
My nephew Darius had a baseball game on Saturday night. My cousins son is on the same team. I got to see my sisters and cousins all hanging out and chatting it up. It started to rain so they broke out the umbrellas, it was pretty funny. Darius played second-base and also pitched. Unfortunately they lost, but I'm told that was pretty unusual.

Church, Pizza, and Frisbee
My little sister and her family attend church at Calvary in Phoenix. I was allowed the honor of going with them on Sunday. It's a pretty big congregation, but the message was really good. After church I spent some time with my Mom, Dad, and Grandma. Later in the afternoon I went to the park with my nephews and tossed frisbee around.

22 April 2005

Grapple? Are you kidding me?

Now we have to make grape-flavored apples to get people to eat fruit. Check out the article on this in USA Today.

20 April 2005

Crypto in SQL Server 2005

One of the coolest new features in Yukon (SQL Server 2005) in my opinion will be the addition of native support for cryptographic functions. The key functions are:
  • EncryptByKey
  • DecryptByKey
  • EncryptByPassPhrase
  • DecryptByPassPhrase
They do pretty much what you would expect based on their names. The primary reason why I like this is because it will mean that more data will be protected where today it is deemed not cost-effective. Of course the people who don't deem it cost-effective all work for big companies who don't seem to care if it's your identity that gets stolen. Can I just say how much I hate public record aggregators and clearing houses? ;-) I had a chance to play with this today and I absolutely will be taking advantage of this functionality. Even in my own databases which I store non-sensitive, but important data. Like my blog archive, media store, source code vault, etc.

Be careful What you Wish for...

Sitting on a plane, I engaged in an interesting dialogue. Usually discussions with athiests, agnostics, objectivists, etc. are pointless for me because our foundational precepts are complete juxtaposed. During this particular conversation the following points intrigued me. The premise went something like this:
Religion is one of the most serious problems of humanity. When someone accepts a deity as more important than his or her life then they will see others as less important. Human life becomes secondary to the belief system,which is where the issues begin. The belief that there are higher beauties than human life is a mistake common not only to religion but also to nationalism and most ideologies such as communism and even extreme environmentalism. In all of these systems a follower becomes willing to sacrifice human life for some higher value.
Before anyone who knows me thinks I've slipped off my rocker, let me be clear I don't really agree with this. After all, the human spirit houses a dynamism capable of carrying any idea to its logical conclusion. The previous premise doesn't reach a sound conclusion. It doesn't allow for the transcendance of life, the effects of altruism or even our basic survival instincts. This is not to say I don't apply proper weight to the fundamental question that premise attempts to answer.

Can it be reasonable for someone to profess that they put freedom first while also binding themselves to a system of theological notions about where we come from, what we are, and how we ought to live? It is precisely this quandry that has motivated many liberals to regard religion with intense suspicion, if not outright hostility.

What I found insightful is that this is such an age-old debate and yet I continue to be surprised by the twists and turns it may take. Locke viewed the law of reason, a moral law that he regarded as both universal and objective, as an expression of God’s eternal order. He argued that religion, no less than reason, taught toleration. Alexis de Tocqueville contended liberal democracy in America was dependant on the strength of the nations religious faith. Hegel offered that a liberal state is Christianity realized in secular and political form.

How many movies have we seen where the moral espoused by the protagonist is that life is only worth living for things that are being than ourselves? Prosaic and naive, but endearing because of a basic affinity with our own thoughts. In some way, we all want to believe in the bigger and better. The higher calling, the moral compass. At our most human we strive to fight against the influence of our own freewill via the exercise of our conscience. That self-imposed check and balance system where we consider the inherent rightness of a thing, the of our actions with the world around us.

Why must those who struggle with their belief in something outside themselves, also pull so completely away from this most basic facet of human distinction? Why give up even a part of your humanity in a desperate bid to ensure your independance? The end result of independance is isolation and loneliness. If you find yourself truly free, will you suddenly realize how little you actually wanted freedom?

19 April 2005

New Found Glory

Tonight I went and checked out my favorite band ever...New Found Glory.

They performed at the Gothic Theater in Denver which is an excellent venue. They have been on a long tour of smaller venues like this one and the difference is incredible. The concert was outstanding! They rocked my socks off!

It was simply one of the best concerts I have ever attended, period. They did tons of their older songs and all of my favorites. Even now I am amazed at how many songs are still on my list of all-time greatest hits. It just seemed like every one they did was the one I was waiting for. Then they'd do the next one and I'd be like, "oh I love this song"!

Eisley opened and they were very good. I've only recently listened to their music but I was impressed with their capability on stage. Like many groups I've seen, I really only get into them once I've seen them live. Something about making the music more real to me or whatever.

In the middle was Reggie and the Full Effect which was just hysterical to watch. They came out in bunny suits and towards the end did a Slayer cover. Bunnies singing Slayer. ;-) They are pretty heavy metal which is not my style, but they were fun to watch.

The pictures from my new camera turned out really great. Check out the whole set here. I also took some amazing videos, you'll have to ask if you wanna see one.

18 April 2005

Whirlwind Weekend

These weekends where I don't have reliable internet are usually not that fun for me. This particular weekend, however, was an exception.

It started off with some work stuff, meeting a new employee which is always fun and interesting. I had dinner with a friend at Thai Ginger at Pacific Place. If I go too long between meals at a good Thai place I really miss their exceptional food. My weekend gastronomic experiences get even better, though!

Friday night I got to see my friend Cyndie's new BMW M3. What a sweet ride. It made me really miss the Porsche.

Later that night I shacked up with Nate. We went to see Midnight Madness in Royal Brougham and watched a really cool rave dancer. Of course, he had to get JBox which meant my car smelled all weekend. I wanted to stay up and chat but I was just too tired. He's doing so well and I'm so proud of the way he's just plowing through the school thing. You can tell his new job at Bucca keeps him busy because I've never see him be such a slob with his room before.

Check out some pictures here.

On saturday I had work and stuff to do in the morning which kept me moving all day. Then I went with a friend to Morton's Steakhouse for dinner. Let me just say, the Hot Chocolate Godiva cake will probably make your knees go weak. I was just a quivering mass mumbling yummy, yummy, by the time it was gone. The steak was okay, too. ;-)

Later on Saturday I went to see Bill Cosby at Benaroya Hall. What an amazing show. He is really smooth and funny. His insights and expressions were very welcoming and warm. I'm sorry I haven't had the opportunity to see him before. If he ever comes around again, I definitely recommend it. While on the subject, the Benaroya Hall is exquisite. A very welcome and much needed upgrade to the Seattle scene.
Even later on Saturday, the band Mortimer had a show at the Liquid Lounge in the EMP.

We saw Spanish for 100, and Weary also play. They were both pretty mediocre but there was a great cover of Jukebox Hero which the whole bar got into. Our waitress was really funny and at one point she took her hair down and just went off dancing, it was refreshing to watch.

Catching up with friends I haven't seen in a while made for quite an evening. Shannon started the evening with too much to drink ;-) and Amanda ended the evening that way.

They are both fun to hang out with. Throw in Lilly, Cyndie, Nate, Hank, Neal, and Scot and you've got yourself quite the party. The Liquid Lounge was pretty nice and the clientele was upscale.

Check out some pictures from the evening here.

I stayed with Scot, Neal, and Ryan on Saturday night after the concert. I was pretty tired but it was hilarious listening to them chatter away. Put me right to sleep. On Sunday I went to church with Scot.

It was a pretty good service. Very upscale, very young congregation. The speaker wasn't the regular pastor but I thought he did a fine job. While I was there I ran into Stahl's who I haven't seen in forever it seems. Neal played in the worship band and he was really tired which seemed to bring out his creativity or something. I haven't seen Stahl's or Neal in a while so I went a little overboard with the photos.

We went to Del Mar for lunch which is always a good way to go. You can check out pictures here.

15 April 2005

Johnny Rockets

Tonight I was at Johnny Rockets. Just passing by. They do these really cute dances. It's neat to see the whole staff get into 'Staying Alive'.

14 April 2005

Redemption Revelation Reality

NBC started a new series called Revelations, which for some was also accompanied by sadness.

Not being a particularly old fellow, I nonetheless have found that a fascination with the end times hasn't waned one bit in my lifetime. You would think at some point the idea that no one really knows would just begin to reach a critical mass. Of all the mysteries of the supernatural, the end times are one of the few which are specifically supposed to remain enigma. The subject of the end of the world is clearly defined outside the realm of humanities ken.
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
-- Matthew 25:13
A desire to prepare for the future is understandable. It makes sense that a description of the end times was included in Scripture for a reason. Having said that, some common sense and critical thinking are a prerequisite to keeping our heads on straight. All this hullaballoo about strange events and how what is happening in the world is predicting the end times seems like Y2K all over again. It seems to me that second-guessing the world around you is very hypocritical in the least and just plain contradictory at best. Either you believe Scripture is Scripture or you don't. If you believe it, then you don't fear the end times, you look for them with great anticipation. If you don't then all the interpretation in the world is just a waste of time.

It's not that I judge people for their desire to understand Revelations or the end times. I simply don't see the point. Much like worrying what the weather might be. You will either believe and prepare, or you won't and you'll endure what transpires. I find the whole concept of worry to be frustrating and sign of mental laziness. If it's important enough to worry about, shouldn't it be important enough to do something about? I'm not just talking about the earth-shattering end of the world, life and death things here. Choosing your employer, your education, your friends, deciding to get up on time, or to eat healthy food. These decisions we make every day big and small. We'll agonize about the inconsequential and ignore the life-altering.

Seatbelt or no? Soda or water? Read or watch? Speak up or sit quietly? Buy or rent? Study or frisbee? Isn't one just as important as another? What a great deception we've perpetrated that we can no longer judge the significant from the superfluous.

. Yep, that's me.

Microsoft Certified Architect Program

For those of you that haven't heard, Microsoft has announced that it will introduce a new board-level certification specifically for Software Architects. You can read more about the annoucement in the Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine.

This has interesting ramifications for the tech industry. First and foremost, the number of certifications that have been offered but continue to carry little or no weight is just increasing. The number of board-level certifications that exist in the technical field is small and have mixed acceptance. In general, those actually working in the industry see certifications as another scheme from those outside the industry to profit from it. Look at the growing certification market.

I've had my ear to the ground on this particular subject for several weeks now quietly picking up the general attitude towards the announcement. Overall, the industry seems generally supportive. After all, it's hard to pooh-pooh an attempt to legitimize and provide proper standards. However there are several points I've managed to pick-up which seemed to be valid concerns. For example, who will comprise and oversee the board? What prerequisites exist and what weighting is given? Are their continuity requirements?

Personally, I think most certifications are pretty much worthless. Software is simply too fast of a moving target. The critical factors that seperate a good engineer from a poor one are frequently subjective and hard to quantify. They have more to do with working-style, the process discipline they exercise, and their critical thinking. These are not areas that any certification really focuses on. Which makes sense because it's hard to gauge the discipline someone has towards adhering to standards in the confines of T/F and multiple choice.

I do have a bit of an insiders view on these tests having helped to create several of these exams for Microsoft back in the days of Visual Basic 4 and SQL Server 4.2. Once you've been through the ringer trying to formulate these exams, you see things a little differently. I take a little comfort knowing that this new certification program is geared more towards work experience and the board interviews. That should help seperate the wheat and the chaff.

At the end of the day I will probably end up kowtowing like everybody else and just chalking it up to the cost of doing business.

13 April 2005

Joshua Radin

I just wanted to recommend an artist I've been listening to. His name is Joshua Radin and he is a well kept secret. You've maybe heard his songs recently on TV, he had several played during episodes of Scrubs. All in all, an excellent artist and I highly recommend you check him out. His site is www.joshuaradin.com and you can buy his freshman album online now. It is truly worth it.

New Found Respect for Life?

That punk is either in love with that guy's daughter...
or he has new found respect for life.

-- Grocer, Grosse Pointe Blank
There have been a few interesting posts recently about the work-style of the American corporation. For sure, I take a lot of flak with my particular take on employment. My choice to travel constantly, working for less than my worth, doing tasks much less sophisticated than that of which I am capable, etc. Needless to say, few of my friends get it, and I have yet to meet someone new who hasn't expressed their confusion at my own working style. Methinks this is a symptom of deeper problems with our cultural trends.

Consider this well known post by an EA Spouse. Makes you step back a little and start asking questions, doesn't it?

So what's the deal with the long hours, the crunch time? It takes little digging to compile references to the study of this subject. Here's a quick list: Once you realize that the effects of overwork are well known you would think it an obvious step that we sit back and focus on productivity and health firstly and foremost. Alas, we have succumbed to the combined onslaught of the media, corporate plotting, and old fashioned greed.

In my own way, stepping back, stepping down, is the key way I am able to deal with the effects of years of self-abuse. Sure, it took the abuse of others to break me down to point that I was able to see what I was doing to myself. But sometimes even the selfish greed of others can be put to good use. When they've got you on the ground and you realize how small the world around you really is, it becomes easier to see how much of the torment from the world we actively invite into our own lives.

Savage Garden has a song entitled Affirmation in which are the following lines (in no particular order, completely extracted without permission, just go buy the album...):
I believe we place our happiness in other people's hands
I believe that beauty magazines promote low self esteem
I believe the struggle for financial freedom is unfair
I believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires
I believe forgiveness is the key to your own happiness
I don't really expect anyone to understand my own view askew. Hopefully just walking the talk will be enough.

12 April 2005

Chillin' in Las Vegas

Went to Las Vegas to celebrate my birthday with some friends. As you can see from the pictures we had a great time. It was sunny and a little windy but mostly nice. Chris was funny and everyone fell in love with him as usual. I got a great opportunity to spend some time with each of my friends which has been sorely missed. I really recommend a hurricane to ease the bonding process. ;-) Check out the rest of the photos here and here and here.

07 April 2005

Birthday Fun

So it's my birthday and I plan to spend it with friends. My last few birthdays haven't gone so well. Here is hoping this one goes better. If you can't have a good birthday in Las Vegas, you aren't trying hard enough. I'll post some pics throughout the weekend. Cheers!

06 April 2005


The next version of SQL Server, code-named Yukon and due out later this year, is providing a new capability to expose external code as internally consumable assemblies. Now the basic idea here goes back quite a way. In fact, the ability to execute external code has been around for some time. Evidently most of the developers we have today are just to lazy do the work necessary. This is where Yukon will provide a new capability for the inept to design even more screwed-up solutions than ever before.

Before you decide I'm just one of those T-SQL diehard nutjobs who thinks every problem is solved with set theory, let me set you straight. You would be almost right. ;-) I think SQL Server is more than just a place to store data once the real work is done, but I know and appreciate the value of sequential processing too. Actually the primary reason for most of the disagreements I see today stem from having different developers trained different ways. Or not at all.

The armchair developer (not really engineers anymore) knows how to write code perhaps from his C or C++ days, if we are lucky. If not, they grew up in the VB era and have drag-n-dropped and intellisensed their way into passing themselves off as a engineer. The see a database as a place to store stuff and get it back again so they can provide the real functionality to their users in pretty forms and pages. If they have to, they've been forced to read and write SQL as a means to control the database interface. Secretly, they long to write all their code in C#/VB/Perl because sets are too complicated for them and survive soley by the use of nifty tools in their IDE. All of this is aimed at dumbing down the development process so they can point and click their way to a solution without all that pesky thinking, planning, and design work.

The database developer has been trained in using sets to solve complicated data retrieval and formulation problems. They know the concepts and the practicalities of normalization. They understand how and why business rules are implemented in a database. They see everything outside of a database as just another way to publish the information they so tightly guard, manage and provide. To them the database is the application, and the components, forms and pages that utilize their interfaces are just consumers not to be trusted.

The architect facilitates both these types getting along and pushes the business needs into the solution so that both viewpoints are equally respected. The architect ensures that decisions in both camps support the business requirements first and foremost, and that standard designs and implementations are utilized to realize the architecture.

Back to my CLR in SQL Server topic, being able to write managed code within SQL Server is a vey risky proposition. Not in a technical sense, although there are certainly aspects of this which are important. Mostly the risk here is from an architecture and design standpoint. Having been an MSFT insider responsible for making the development easier to become mired in, I certainly understand the rationale behind this move. Not much different than putting VBA inside the Office tools. It let any goofus become a developer, scripting their way to solutions in whatever crack-pot way they choose. End result, more Office sold. Make it so that you don't even have to be a developer to point and click your way through forms (ala VB) and suddenly you have millions of unwashed masses thinking they can develop solutions. The same strategy works to drive SQL Server adoption. Make it easier for the untrained to write their managed language of choice and install it right on the database server. End result, more SQL Server sold. It's a good strategy with the unfortunate side-effect of further weakening the level of engineering discipline we'll see in solutions going forward.

On the other hand, it's a nice way to seperate the trained and experienced from the untrained and naive. Whenever I come across someone so excited to be able to write stored procedures as managed C# code I know we are dealing with someone who is probably more talk than ability.

All this is not to say that I think the ability to access external assemblies isn't a good thing. It certainly can be. I myself see several reasons why you might choose to host code within an external assembly. They however have little overlap with the typical reasons people want to do this. There are two key reasons I typically come across A) speed and B) external interfaces. The serious computations requiring the speed aspect are not that common and in cases where they are complex, but not mathmatical it's probably better to lay them out in procedural code anyway. Accessing external interfaces like StringBuilder, WebDAV, or XML libraries makes terrific sense. It is simply rare that we see a design that would make use of these directly from within SQL Server.

Or maybe we'll see the usage of those increase because of this new feature? Perhaps this feature is exactly what we need to bring SQL Server to the epicenter of architecture? I guess we'll see.

05 April 2005

Up Another Hill

When you least expect it, the progress you have made will suddenly be revealed. Methinks this is especially true when you aren't overtly obsessed with progress and instead are focused on those things greater than you. Or perhaps something smaller than your wants, like simple survival. Perhaps some background is in order...

Like many at , I've been struggling with meaning, purpose, and relevance. The terror that is social contact and the vulnerability of friendship can be hard to meld into the simple solace that is solitude. It is easier to be independant when no one is depending on me. I don't have to hold up my end of conversation, no one needs to disagree with my opinionated and judgemental thoughts. I can bury myself in my work, my workout, my reading, my learning. Writing these posts gives me a way to stay talking, keep making eye contact, don't let my feet fail. Today, I realize that I'm not the only one. Funny how knowing someone else has it hard makes my load lighter. It must be another way I am changing because one would never think to hear me empathize in such a way.

Someone else took the time to comment on one of my posts and naturally I went to read their work. In reading the honest monologue I found myself saying, "I know how you feel". Now this is terribly uncharacteristic of me. After all, it is well known that I am completely self-centered and lacking any of the basic human traits such as empathy. Alas, it didn't stop with that one traitorous utterance. In moments my inner monologue had betrayed me yet again. "You'll get past this", "It gets easier", and the ultimate disgrace "Just look at how far I've come."

There you have it; my admission of guilt. Somehow I got sucked into understanding the position this noble chap found himself in because I have felt it too. I perceive in my own way how hard his challenge will continue to get, and how much perseverance and determination it will take to stay in the game. I applaud the steps he forces from his faltering feet and treasonously wanted to call out "You can do it". It was like we were in a race and I am winding and struggling mightily. I look back and see someone pushing hard up the very hill I so recently found myself upon. You want to cheer their progress and you forget how hard it is to catch your own breath. For that one moment when you are distracted by thoughts of their success you forget the challenges that currently embroil you. Here I had been dutifully ignoring my own progress, simply gritting my teeth and pressing on, and suddenly I came face to face with having become a {gasp} better person. Okay, so when you have a Grinch-sized heart and you only see half a hearts worth of growth you can't get too puffed up. So let's not read to much into this, okay?

Here's hoping he continues his journey and it remains long and full. Here's hoping this empathy garbage doesn't become a regular thing with me. It's entirely too inconvenient and just might end up impugning my hard-earned image as an egomaniacal dork.