MonthOctober 2012

Berlin Wall at the Newseum

Today, I got the opportunity to visit the Newseum in Washington DC. I was looking forward to the trip because I’m interested in history and journalism’s role in reporting that history.

While I had an idea of what to expect there, I wasn’t ready for the emotional reaction I would have to the exhibits and what they represented.

The most powerful exhibit I saw was a line of 8 pieces of the Berlin Wall and a guard tower from the wall. I was overcome with a sense of hopelessness, loss, pain and fear. The 12 foot high slabs of graffiti-covered concrete and the huge tower looming over them transported me into a divided Berlin.

Knowing that tower, with its wired windows and cold concrete construction would have held sharpshooting soldier is an eerie reminder of our not-so-distant past. The wall was so tall and there was no way to see over, around, through or by it. It was a looming reminder of separation. It was a physical representation of the isolation of half a city.

It separated families and friends. The people across the street might as well have been a world away because there was no getting through to them. There was no communication. There was no way out. There was no hope and plenty of fear.

All of these feelings flowed through me today as I looked up at the menacing tower high above and the huge wall rising up from the ground far overhead. It separated a city and a world. It took me to the reality of Berlin and the fear that was a part of life.

I remember watching the wall fall when I was a kid. It came down in 1989 when I was 8 years old. I remember seeing the wall fall and seeing all the emotion surrounding it on the news. My parents told me it was important, but I didn’t understand the exactly what I was seeing at that young age.

I got chills as I passed through the Berlin Wall exhibit today reading the accounts of people who attempted escape, those who succeeded and those who became bodies lying in the streets, shot down by the soldiers high above. Standing in front of the wall and looking up at that tower was a surreal experience and one I will not soon forget.

Love the tech you own

I’ve seen a lot of people feeling cheated or ripped off by Apple releasing a new iPad less than a year after the latest one was released.

Are you enjoying your iPad any less today than you did yesterday?
Are you getting less value from the device?
What can it no longer do that it could before the announcement on Tuesday?

The reality is you wanted the iPad enough to buy it. You’ve owned it for a few months and used it. You’ve loved the screen and the speed and the apps. You had the newest toy on the shelf.

And now you don’t.

It doesn’t make your iPad any less valuable. It doesn’t decrease your enjoyment of it. It hasn’t slowed down or stopped running the games and apps you bought it to run. Nothing has changed with the device you own.

It is still the same product you happily bought. Your iPad is not obsolete There is a model that’s newer than yours and there will also be a model newer than yours.

This is the reality of the Android world. Whenever a new, speedy phone or tablet is released, it gets one-upped within the month if not the week.

Apple is in the business to make money. They’re also in the business to put out the best product they can. And if that means putting better components into an iPad 7 months after the last model is released, then so be it.

Your iPad is still just as good as the day you bought it. I get along fine with my 1st Generation iPad that can’t run iOS 6 and the newer apps like iPhoto. Instead of blaming or buying new technology, sometimes the best upgrade you can make is you.

What I believe

Something that’s been bouncing around my head lately is the idea that religious beliefs can be separated from legislative matters. Simply put, you can believe in a law that may not agree with your religious beliefs.

Your religion is not everyone’s religion and just as you don’t want their beliefs to take away your rights. Your beliefs should not take away anyone else’s rights.

You can believe what you want but using that belief as the basis for keeping rights from other citizens is wrong in my eyes. Your religion is yours and your belief is yours and I respect your right to it. But I have to question when your beliefs prevent others from having a right you enjoy.

Why do your beliefs keep people from getting something you have?
What is the basis of that belief?
Why do you choose to keep it?

I have thought long and hard about my choice to join a church and to allow religion into my life. **I have long-lived my life by the teachings of loving my fellow-man and working for the common good. **I want to treat people as I want to be treated. I don’t want to be treated poorly by other people and I do my best to not treat others poorly.

I’ve had a couple of conversations recently with long-time friends who asked, somewhat out of surprised, why I had joined a church after being irreligious for so long. I called myself agnostic more than atheist as I’ve believed there is something up there bigger and smarter than us but I wasn’t sure it was “God” in the Christian sense.

Since joining a church, I have given a lot of thought to my beliefs and why I believe what I believe and what I believe.

I do not agree with everything in the religion and I never will. There is a lot I can’t agree with because it harms other people and any religion that harms other people I can’t agree with.

Jesus taught us to love thy brother. Jesus wanted us to be good to each other and that simple idea, which I have tried to live up to, has long been perverted.

I stayed away from churches for a long time because they were places of such negativity.

Do this or you’ll go to hell!
Let’s go protest this movie because we don’t agree with it!
Live like this or face the consequences!

If your beliefs are threatened by a movie you need to re-examine why you hold those beliefs. If your life is based on fear, what are you really living for?

That’s not how I want to live my life. I don’t want to live in a constant fear of a vengeful God looking to strike me down at the first misstep. I believe in a kind and loving God who made us in his image and wants the best for us. I believe we all have free will to mess up but I also believe we can be forgiven.

I believe we have the chance to do right and we have the chance to do wrong. At the end of our life here on Earth, our actions and our deeds, both good and bad, will be taken into account.

I believe we are only human and we are going to make mistakes. I believe the Bible was written in the time it was written but needs to be a living document because times and circumstances change.

To live strictly by the Biblical times would mean slavery would still be allowed. Women would be possessions of their men. These are no longer good ideas. But they were written in a time when these things were accepted.

A living doctrine needs to evolve and to grow in the world it is being practiced.

I believe religion can bring great peace and happiness in the lives of its practitioners. And I believe it can bring deep pain and sorrow in those same lives. I believe how people treat each other in the name of religion is shameful and directly opposes the teachings of Jesus Christ who the Christian religions are founded on.

We all have our own set of beliefs and morals we live by. Whether they are part of a religion or our own personal moral code. We all live our life with a set of rules that work for us. This code brings us happiness when we’re living by it and sadness when we do not.

I am not perfect. None of us are perfect. I believe perfection cannot exist on this earth because we are humans and we are fallible. But I do believe it is our place to treat each other as we’d like to be treated.

We each deserve love and respect and friendship.
We each deserve to be loved.
We each deserve to love.
We each deserve our own happiness.
And with happiness comes security.
And with security a stable home can be build and a family can flourish.

This is what I believe and this is why I believe it.
I am a member of a Christian religion.
I am a Christian.
I am a human.
I am a man.
I am a friend.
I am a husband.
I am a son.

I strive to treat people as I would like them to treat me.
It is how I have lived my life and while I am not perfect, I try everyday to remember this is how I should live and I try by best to live in this way.

I am not alone

The most important gift the internet ever gave me was I am not alone.

I grew up in a small town of 2,000 people with only 12,000 in the entire county. I went to high school with about 160 people in my class and around 550 in the entire school.

It was a small, rural place. I grew up on a farm and I’ve herded cows, collected hay bails and pitched them onto trailers and into barns. I’ve lived around animals most of my life and I’ve always had a vast fantasy life.

When the internet came around, my curiosity overwhelmed me. I wanted to connect with people like me. I knew there must be people like me.

There must be sensitive, kind, caring poets in the world who wanted to make the world better. There must be people out there who worked for the common good. There must be others who wore their heart on their sleeve, didn’t like to drink, do drugs or go to parties. There were the quiet ones who loved to talk and think and do interesting things with their time and lives.

There must be people I could look to for advice and help. There must be people out there who thought like I did and lived inside their heads, thinking great thoughts and had exciting ideas.

There was a future out there and it was through a 26,400bps modem.

And it was my job to find it.

The internet taught me there are people out there like me. There are people out there like all of us.

No matter how alone or weird or freakish I felt, there were people out there like me. There were people out there I could connect with and people out there who understood.

I was understood. They knew what I was going through and why I was who I was and how I was. They got me and I got them.

We are not alone.

The greatest gift the internet could have ever given me was this knowledge. It allowed me to find my people, my freaks, my tribe. It allowed me to find and befriend those people I needed in my life to realize I was not alone.

I cannot say this enough. You are not alone.
There are people out there who understand.
There are people out there who want to help you.
They want to help you for not other reason than they were you at earlier times in their lives.

There are amazing people out there in the world.
And they’re waiting to be found.

You are not alone.
We are not alone.
I am not alone.

Herding USB Keys

I’ve worked in tech support for nearly a decade and I’ve collect a number of USB keys. They range in size from a hearty 32GB to a miniscule 128MB. They’re all useful and all have their place.

The challenge becomes how to tell them apart at a glance and know what they work in.

I’ve come up with two methods to ease the madness.

First, label the physical devices. Use a sharpie for a permanent name or size. If you tend to reuse them, put a piece of scotch tape on it and use that as a label.

The USB Keys from top down are:
GParted on 512MB drive.
Windows XP installer on 2GB drive.
Windows Easy Transfer on 128MB drive.
YUMI created collection of bootable software on 2GB drive.
Windows 7 install on 4GB drive.

Second, I name each drive with the amount of storage and what platform is works on.

Some drives, I have formatted for the Mac only since that’s all I use them on. Some I have formatted as FAT32 which works in everything. While others I’ve experimented with ExFAT which allows for cross compatibility (Mac to Windows) and larger than 4GB file sizes (like NTFS) but isn’t natively supported in Windows XP.

These are the little tricks I use to keep my collection of USB keys a little more sanely. I hope it helps you too if you have the same problem. If there is interest in the geeky IT setup I’ve crafted for myself over the years I’ll share more of it. Even if there isn’t I may do so anyway.

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