Year2012

Vote for Equal Rights

My Fellow Marylanders,

We have a very important question in front of us on Tuesday. Yes, there is a are offices to place people in and 7 ballot initiatives. I don’t care who you vote for. I don’t care who you support and who you like. **Vote for who you believe in.** That’s what we’re all going to do and no amount of debate or discussion will change that.

What I want you to carefully consider is Question 6 on the ballot.

[It reads](http://www.elections.state.md.us/elections/2012/ballot_question_language.html),

>Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.

So many people are going to vote against this, stripping marital rights from couples all across the state due to religious beliefs. I ask that for one day, you divorce your religious views from the rights of your friends, colleagues and neighbors. There is a separation between church and state this country was founded on because of the persecutions of religious groups in Europe.

Our ancestors fled here to this continent to escape those persecutions. The rights being given in this question are legal rights under the state. They are not attacking religious. Nor are there forcing anything on religious people or authorities.

There is a difference between the civil benefits of marriage and the religious benefits of marriage. These are not the same.

* Same-sex couple will have a **civil** marriage license.
This has **nothing** to do with religion. A courthouse is not a house of God.
* It protects clergy from performing ceremonies which violate their beliefs.
No one is going to force anyone to do anything they don’t believe in and support. Religious authorities are free to perform or not perform services as they see fit.
* Religions have the right to say who they believe should and should not marry.
Again, this is not an attack on religion. This is about two people who want to share in the [legal benefits of marriage](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_and_responsibilities_of_marriages_in_the_United_States).

I could go on, but the important thing is this vote will help those people who want to share in the joy and happiness of marriage. It will also allow them to visit their spouse in the hospital in the event of injury or illness.

How would you like to be denied access to your spouse in the hospital because you *aren’t really married?*

What about not being able to adopt a child or having your stepchild taken away because you have *no legal right* of guardianship?

There are tax benefits. There are adoption rights. **These are the same rights available to every man and woman who want to marry in this country.**

This is *not* an attack on religion. **This is not about religion.** This is about getting a group of people the same rights and benefits as millions of others in the country.

*Women* had to fight for rights.
*African-Americans* had to fight for rights.
*White men* never had to right for rights. But historically did an excellent job of taking them away from everyone else.

**There are enough rights to go around.**
There can be marriage for everyone.
This is not an attack on your marriage.
This is not an attack on your religion.

**This is about equal rights.**

I ask all of my fellow Maryland voters, when you go to the polls, consider this question.

Would you really vote to keep the joys and benefits of marriage from a group of people because they are different from you?

If you’re voting because of your religion, try to separate people’s rights from your religious rights. If you’re living in this country and you’re not of Native American descent, your ancestors may have fled to *The New World* to escape religious oppression and persecution. Why would you perpetuate that hateful act?

I am a white man. I am married. I am a Christian.

But I am voting **For Question 6.** And I urge you to do the same. Vote to give rights unjustly taken away. Stand with me on the right side of history.

NanOMGWriMo

Ambition

I am starting an ambitious plan this month. I am going to get the book that’s been in my head out and into a form for people to read and enjoy.

Technical Support is Customer Service

I’ve been working a series of customer service and technical support jobs for nearly a decade. I’ve come to realize they are the same. I am passionate about customer service and treating people right.

Technical Support has long been about supporting technology first and people second. I want to turn that idea on its ear. Technical Support is more about supporting the people using technology than the technology itself. Technology is merely a tool to accomplish a task.

Planning

I’ve planned and thought and read. Trying to give form to this idea inside my brain. And all of a sudden, it became November. And with November, comes NanoWriMo.

I am going to write my book this month. I am going to take the collection of thoughts and experienced inside my head and put them into words. Then turn those words into a book after the month ends.

It has begun and I have written the first 2,000 words towards explaining why I care so much about customer service in technical support and how other people can learn from my near decade of experience in support companies and government agencies big and small.

Metamorphosis

As the month started and I signed up for NanoWriMo I had no idea how I was going to write 50,000 words on customer service. I care about it a lot and I have some good ideas around making people better at it. But I had no idea how I would fill those virtual pages.

Until it hit me.

Becoming a Well-Rounded Technician

The idea was bigger than simple tech support or customer service. The idea I had in my head all along was about becoming a better technician and all the parts that go into the job.

So the book was born. Becoming a Well-Rounded Technician is my working title and terrible name but it’s what I’ve titled this adventure.

I’ve got 2,000 words down and another 48,000 to go to complete NanoWriMo successfully and by that time, have enough of my ideas fleshed out I can organize them and put them into a book.

I am excited. I am scared. This is going to be great fun and a huge challenge.

The longest thing I ever recall writing was a 20 page story in a creative writing class in 8th grade.

Wish me luck. The adventure has begun and I’ve leapt in with both feet. If you want to follow along, this is my NanoWriMo page and if you’re writing too, let me know, I could use some buddies.

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.