MonthMay 2011

The question of “Why”

I originally wrote this in June 2009 when I was still dating the wonderful woman who would become my wife. I am attending a wedding this weekend of another young Mormon couple which got me to thinking about my own explorations into religion. I thought I would share them with you now.

The journey into why is a frightening one. For most of my life I have lived by the 10 Commandments. Not on a conscious level but as a general rule for how I conduct myself.

Most importantly, I have lived by the golden rule do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

Treat people how you wish to be treated. I never really considered why I lived this way. I credit it to good parenting and upbringing. It always seemed like the right way to live. Why should I hurt others when I could work for the greater good? That way everyone benefits. I live for the greater good. I never really questioned why. Until now.

In recent months I’ve dipped my toes into religion. Don’t worry, I’m not going full on born again. I have explored Mormonism. My girlfriend is Mormon. The biggest reason is their belief of an eternal family. They believe once you die you go on living with your family forever. None of that “til death so us part” nonsense. The process is not automatic (and honestly not one I fully understand yet) and involves a temple marriage and being “sealed” to each other.

So once you’re sealed in a temple, you live with your family forever.

I’ve never given much thought to an afterlife but if there is one, being with your family sounds pretty good to me. Where is all thing back story taking us? The questioning of WHY?

Why do we live like we do? Why do we act as we do?

I often think about introspection and try to look inward as much as I can because It’s the key to understanding yourself. Part of that is questioning why.
I have not questioned myself why in a long time. I realized this as I found myself incredibly sad one Sunday afternoon and couldn’t figure out why. I had just come from church. And I was a mental mess. I just wasn’t feeling it.

I hear all the time of people speaking of the comfort religion brings them. I didn’t see it. Maybe I need to try harder.

In my discussion with my girlfriend she pointed out how I was basically a good person as far as religion goes. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. Never touched drugs. I’m pretty boring.

The other trigger was the message from church itself. The message was about giving yourself to God and letting him into your life. The message was presented well and in a sensical, applicable way.

However, that is a main point of contention for me because I’ve seen it taken too far to often. You can’t expect God to run your own life. You can’t look at thing and go, “God will take care of me” and not help yourself. God will only take it so far. You need to help.

God will help you out and nudge you on the right direction. He will be your guide to life and try to push you down the right path. He won’t drove the car or be your GPS. He’ll ride along and suggest routes along the way.

Writing and printing are in my blood

I like writing and I’ve really enjoyed living in an age where we can write and share our words with not just the people near us but worldwide. This is a great time to be alive for the sharing of words and ideas.

I remember when I was growing up I really wanted to produce a book of my poetry. I was obsessed with the printing process and creating lasting works from my own words. I had the skills and ability to create a layout in PageMaker and I had enough works even then to make a small book of my works.

I would design, print and somehow sell or giveaway the books myself. I had no idea how to go about doing this though. There was not internet like we have today. We were still on the early days of modems and my family’s farmhouse got a blazing 26.4bps connection to the internet. This was just enough to load medium sizes pictures at a decent rate and in the early days of Napster, download a single MP3 file in a couple of hours.

I thought long and hard about getting my book into stores. I had no idea how to accomplish this. I had no clue how to get my book into anywhere but the local coffee shop where I knew the owners and they were family friends. I had no way to get my tiny book into a proper bookstore other than walk in and place a couple of copies on a shelf which I did think about. ((Not that I thought about any legal repercussions of that act at the time.))

I never did create a book for myself. Sure, I still thought about it. I poured a lot of my energy into creating the literary magazines ((Lit Mags)) for my middle school and high school. I always prided myself on seeing larger schools produce only a single magazine throughout the school year. Whereas, we always strove to produce two or in one year, three separate magazines.

I loved being able to get my work and the work of my peers into a magazine. We also took steps to creation a CD project my senior year of high school. Equipped with our school’s distance learning room that had long run out of funding, we plugged a couple of microphones into the system and get a pretty clean recording from the acoustic guitar, a capella performances, a full three or four piece band, and I believe a single monologue or something similar. ((I always kick myself I did not keep one of those discs in a safer place. I had a couple of copies but I think I gave them all out to friends and family of the performers who had not gotten a chance to buy one with the magazine.))

I’ve always had a passion for creation, especially in print. From the literary magazines I helped to create in high school to going on to be the Production Chief for The Commonwealth Times in college I’ve always enjoyed the feel of print. Seeing your name on a printed page is a small thrill.

I wrote a comedy column in the college newspaper for about a year and a half under a pen name. It got to the point where I had my page to fill every week for my Q&A style column. I was very fortunate to have helpful and nerdy roommates who always had a great question I could riff on for a couple hundred words. One of my favorite pages still remains my interview with the Magic 8 Ball.

Even now, as I write for the Larry Hunt newsletter which is a project my father is helping to run and produce. Both Larry Hunt and my father, Dirck have been in and around the copy and quick printing business since the 70s when it was still metal on paper and layouts were done by hand. It’s been great working with them to explore and explain the newer media of the day. Especially my recent Cloud Computing writing which prompted an editor from Ireland to contact me and I’ve recently written another piece on Cloud Printing for their magazine. So if you’re in Ireland, keep an eye out for it. I’ve gone truly international!

What you say online stays online

Twitter is where I carry on conversations with those I don’t know. It is where I get my news and follow my heroes within arms reach. It is where I get to share in jokes and find out about new posts, photos, apps, and ideas. Twitter is walking through a crowded marketplace speaking with friends and accidental eavesdropping on others.

Twitter is where I go first in the morning and last in the evening. Twitter is where my friends are and those I would call friends if I had more bravery.

Facebook is people I know. Coworkers. Friends. Family. Facebook is the default addition to old school chums and those who care enough to friend and follow. Facebook is a free for all. I allow anyone who wants to befriend me. Though there is more censorship and choice in posting. Some of the choice is due to who is present but most of the time it is simply because those on Facebook would not understand the depths of my nerdery.

That said, I do not trash talk. I don’t bad mouth anyone anywhere online. Random outbursts of frustration, sure but never something about a single person. No names. Ever.

What goes online stays online. It will never disappear.

Library of Congress is archiving tweets. Facebook is doing who knows what with our posts and data. Most likely selling it to marketers.

Don’t say it online if you won’t say it to the intended target’s face. Your invisibility and anonymity is not as good or true as you believe.

Haikus

After seeing the swarm of pixel people invading Twitter, I found the source and tried out Eightbit. I decided since it already checked into Foursquare I would play a game with it and would write a haiku to go with each check-in. I had a lot of fun with it for a while and have since removed the Eightbit web link since I don’t see any point in continuing to use it. It did offer some amusement trying to compose a haiku for each place I went. Here are a sampling of the ones I wrote.

Large man seeks work pants
Casual man reserved
Winning comes on sale

Watching Annie Shop
Shoes to the horizon line
Will they have The Pair?

Piles of laptops
Messily adorn my desk
Agree to the terms

Sitting on a bench
Waiting for the big blue bus
Will it beat the rain?

A pharmacy run
Another long wait for pills
No babies for us

Tiny droplets dance
Careening beneath my feet
Foot fatality

iPad Not Top News
Earthquake Tsunami Japan
Thoughts and Cash Eastward

Mountains of sweet cake
Enormous menu chock full
Worth the wait to dine

Secret travel line
Speeding silently beneath
Masses overhead

Waited for a bus
Stranded when it deserted
All daily riders

Perspective

It is important to gain perspective away from the keyboard. To remember there is more to life than sitting behind the keyboard and reporting like as it happens. Sometimes when I sit and photograph an event happening or write about it, I am not truly living in that moment. I am a reporter on the scene, live from my life.

It is really important to keep up my sanity and get out to live my life. This afternoon I did just that. After having to work yesterday morning, my wife and I took a walk around the downtown area of Bethesda, MD where we moved this past February.

Moving to a new place in the midst of winter is always a challenge to explore an enjoy. It is so cold, it is not pleasant or enjoyable to go out and see this new city you now call home. Now that spring has sprung, it is a perfect time to walk around the city and see the flowers in full bloom.

It is also a perfect temperature to spend a couple of hours touring local shops and browsing all the wares and goods for sale. We also spent some time looking through a local flea market which is always exciting because you never know what you might find.

We ended the afternoon with frozen yogurt being our only buy and with a half-dozen new restaurants on our “to try” list. Overall, it was a perfect spring day ending with dinner with Annie’s father since our mothers are both over 4 hours away. So we chose the nearest family member we could to enjoy a meal with.