Blog

7
Aug

WOW! Things are going gangbusters

large_6812481635.jpgI inadvertently put my site into the Maintenance Status the other day. Why? Because I couldn't get into parts of the administrative section to which I needed access. As a result, I was attempting to run some scripts that work best when the site is offline and found that none of them worked. 

What I didn't know was that my hosting company provides automatic minor updates, when released, on the software I'm using. While convenient, it was also a bit of a struggle to realize that one of the themes I was messing around with (I'm planning some changes to look and feel) decided to conflict with the automatic changes. 

In addition to that, I've taken on a client for writing and website stuff and a variety of other semi-hidden skills. The website is: http://cambridgeitllc.com/. It's still in states of flux, though the style, software, and content is pretty much what you see. Also, I was asked to be a formal part of the team and you can see my profile page here. In the near future, I get to take some of my equipment out to Boston for video interviews as I continue to build out content for the website, a YouTube channel, and more. This is proving to be fun. 

This term I'm teaching six classes, two of which are big enough to be individual classes, and trying to make time for everything that requires my time. Calls on my time include writing stuff I want and need to write, teaching and grading, writing and managing Geek Eccentric - including GEGATT content, and church. My church responsibilities have now been added to, though that's not official or public until the weekend (I think). 

Finally, I've been using the Massachusetts Vocational Rehabilitation services in my job hunt. This included going to a meet-and-greet the other morning where I presented my resume and background to a group of employers. I was the wrap-up presenter and chosen because I put on a good show that is also effective. I also learned the length and breadth of my experience is a bit intimidating to potential employers with my long resume more of a detractor than a benefit. I get to change the resume. 

Basically, I'm busy and loving it, though the total number of things I've got to do is extensive and time consuming. Still, I feel pretty good and blessed to have these things going on and to begin seeing what may be a light at the end of a pretty long tunnel. 


photo credit: photosteve101 via photopin cc

23
Jul

The Happenings

large_2462457722.jpgOutside of some pictures (especially the band saw), I haven't been too active on posting. Which doesn't mean I don't spend a lot of time messing around with the backend of this site (and others). However, I thought it time to update people on the happenings and offer a short explanation why I'm slightly out of touch or contact or not as contactable. I like that last one best. 

First, I'm teaching six classes this term. Yes. Six over an eight week period. That's putting some stress on my system and requiring a bit of time for prep and grading and such. 

Second, I've (I think) put out my shingle and am hawking my skills at websites and content for a bounty or I am working some freelance projects. This is proving to be both fun and rewarding and (already) I've had the work increase with the promise of more. 

Third, I'm writing a novel. Yes. It's out. Don't ask to see it, hear about it, or read it right now. It's a work in progress that develops new bits on a nearly daily basis. I'm writing one of the stories that only I can write and I'm hoping to finish it. 

Finally, I've got work around the house that plays a role. This includes the band saw and reassuring people that it's not going to fall over EVEN if someone were to run into it. The weight of the thing is a couple hundred pounds, easy. It is on a steel table that needed to be reinforced. And it works. There are a couple of things that need doing, like removing a bolt I busted and replacing it and its match, buying a new drive belt, and building a work bench. 

In addition to that, I'm still a husband and father who has responsibilities there as well as church and a few other things. Which reminds me, I need to rewrite some stuff for a guy that has nothing to do with the freelance work and I'm trying to read The Blind Watchmaker. I need to write something up on a couple of books I've read or listened to. And I'm still writing and running and being publisher at Geek Eccentric. 

Basically, I'm all over the place and I'm enjoying it. That is all. 


photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

1
Jul

Don't Make Me Care

Or, don't make me continue to care. 

I have a long memory, access to the world's knowledge, and a desire to do what is socially right. I want to see people taken care of and I don't want to see abuses. I am opinionated and I don't follow the crowd simply because there is a crowd, though the gathering may shift my focus and attention. 

i_dont_care.jpgDon't make me care. 

Why? 

Because I am a force to be reckoned with and I'm very outgoing and personable when the situation and people warrant it. I can change the world and I will only attempt to change the small bit of the world directly around me. 

Don't make me care, because I think all of the time. My mind doesn't get to shut down and I don't get to stop hazarding options and solutions and alternatives until something presents itself as better than what's currently being used. 

Don't make me care, because I will begin the slow, steady process of marshaling supporters and friends, helping them come to my point of view, and then asking them to do something. 

Don't make me care, because my caring means I have to act. And my acting means I have to see some form of systemic change at least in the hearts of the people. 

I don't need to care about the rich or the influential. I don't need to care about businesses losing money. I do need to care about people. 

When you make me care, you bring with it slow and steady action that will result in change. Maybe not this this year or decade or even in my lifetime, but the change is coming. 

Please don't make me care. 


image source: Jamie's Blog all rights retained by artist or author

28
Jun

GEGATT and my first GEGATT Podcast

I've ventured off on my own (not always a good sign) and interviewed a friend, Kenneth Ross, about his new Kickstarter Make My Mini. 3D design software envisioned for the tabletop gamer and equally useful as a way of getting into the whole 3D printer game. 

You can read about and view the video at Geek Eccentric through this link http://www.geekeccentric.com/make-my-mini-gegatt-video-podcast

Ken did a great job and it was a pleasure to interview him. Next time, I'll handle video better and have my beautiful and enchanting face show up. 

27
Jun

Disturbing Question

large_2078610502.jpgCNN is continuing its report on the ongoing investigation of Justin Ross Harris over the death of his son ( here). Briefly, guy drives to work and on his way stops for breakfast. Gets to work and allegedly forgets his son in the back of the car. End of workday arrives and he finds his 22 month old son dead. 

At first, the story seemed like one of many, a tragedy that could've been avoided. There was even a post going around that showed on 'hack' to make sure you don't forget baby in the back by taking off one shoe and sticking it in the backseat. You know, have to get safety tips and exposure when things like this happen. 

Even the police were sympathetic to the father when the death was reported. And then they started to investigate and it would appear that Justin Ross Harris's story doesn't fit the timeline of events beginning with stopping for breakfast with his son, strapping him into the rear-facing car seat, and then finding him when he stopped at a store after work. Additional information, not necessarily corroborated, indicates that Justin Ross Harris may have been searching Google for how long it takes an animal to die in a hot car. 


Question: 

With all of the public services, family members, and community members willing to step in and even take the baby, why would someone do what it is alleged Justin Ross Harris has done? What leads to this kind form of abuse and torture?


photo credit: cwd1978 via photopin cc

25
Jun

The Case Against Kate Kelly

large_2298671281.jpgFirst things first, I would like to have seen Kate Kelly not excommunicated. As the 'trial' or, more accurately described, disciplinary counsel drew closer, the inevitability of the excommunication became more and more apparent. What follows is strictly opinion based on Kate Kelly's own statements in regard to the order of the LDS church and the reasons the LDS church uses for excommunication as well as additional material submitted and presented by Ordain Women or freely available online. 

I recognize that for many, the opinion presented in the supporting brief in support of Kate Kelly will nullify any reasoning or judgment I possess. However, an argument or position on equality, by its very nature, either has to include all parties and take into all opinions or it is inherently false and must be rejected. In the opinion of Ordain Woman authored by Nadine Hanson, it is necessary to establish that Ordain Women believes:

[Men] are required to judge a woman’s actions advocating for gender equality having never lived a woman’s experience in the Church. No matter how they may try to understand, to put themselves in a woman’s place, not one of them has ever walked in a Mormon woman’s shoes ( source).

However, I reject as valid this claim and will submit as impartial an analysis and reasoning behind the decision and what will result when appealed. 

It is important to note that all materials, both on the side of the LDS church and on the side of Kate Kelly are intended to be private and confidential. It is Kate Kelly and Ordain Women who've brought the arguments and mandates to the surface. As such, the LDS church is now referring all press inquiries to Kate Kelly's letter (email) from Bishop Mark M. Harrison. 

Background

Kate Kelly and a group of three other women planned and launched a website, ordainwomen.com, designed to build a community around the promotion of the Ordination of Women to the priesthood.  Kate Kelly is a lawyer. She has been excommunicated from the LDS church. She intends to appeal her excommunication.

However, at the end of the day, Kate Kelly will still be excommunicated from the LDS church not because of her beliefs or for asking questions. Her excommunication was based on what she has said, how she's carried out very specific actions, and the disregard for the established order and organization of the LDS church. The proceedings will never be made public and questions brought up by the decision of her former bishop and the disciplinary counsel in regard to the requirements for re-baptism. 

The LDS church excommunicates for three reasons. However, for most of these, excommunication is not handed out simply through questioning leadership, doctrine, or practices. Outside of what, in other religions, would be considered Mortal Sins, one of the primary reasons to excommunicate is the level of public awareness of the sins or misconduct. Argue what you will, Kate Kelly was excommunicated because she chased after the press and shared too much and not because she questioned the practice (not doctrine) of only ordaining men to the priesthood.

According to the letter (email) sent to Kate Kelly, she was excommunicated " The difficulty, Sister Kelly, is not that you say you have questions or even that you believe that women should receive the priesthood. The problem is that you have persisted in an aggressive effort to persuade other Church members to your point of view and that your course of action has threatened to erode the faith of others ," ( source). 

In this case, as in others, Kate Kelly's response, "The language [of church discipline] is classic abuse...Abusive, manipulative and patriarchal," ( source). Additionally, she has stated that any member of the LDS church who asks questions is in the same position as her: The possibility of excommunication. Or, in other words, if you do not side with Kate Kelly and Ordain Women then you are silent and have no need to question the the LDS church and its doctrine. 

It is in Kate Kelly's very actions and words in interviews and statements online that she condemns herself. 

  1. I was in your ward for over three years and faithfully served in callings for that entire period. While we interacted frequently in passing, none of you know me well. I am saddened by the fact that you never took the time to ask me questions or get to know my heart while I was living in your ward. Despite the fact that I emailed you in March 2013, August 2013, October 2013 & again in April 2014 regarding my Ordain Women activities, you never bothered to respond or follow-up on my repeated invitation to engage in an open dialogue in person.
  2. Please keep in mind that if you choose to punish me today, you are not only punishing me. You are punishing hundreds of women and men who have questions about female ordination, and have publicly stated them. You are punishing thousands of Mormons who have questions and concerns with gender inequality in the church and want a place to voice those concerns in safety. You are punishing anyone with a question in their heart who wants to ask that question vocally, openly and publicly.
  3. I want to communicate with perfect candor, as I have always done.
    • I will continue to lead Ordain Women, the group I founded.
    • I will not take down the website ordainwomen.org.
    • I will not stop speaking out publicly on the issue of gender inequality in the church.

It should be made perfectly clear and without prejudice that this is not an issue of questions. Kate Kelly's excommunication is not an issue of disenfranchisement. Nor is it a question of what Kate Kelly feels or what she believes is her ultimate intent. Instead, her excommunication is that [Kate Kelly's] "have persisted in an aggressive effort to persuade other Church members to your point of view," ( source). 

What this actually equates to is Kate Kelly and Ordain Women claiming to have received revelation for all members of the LDS church. According to LDS.org

Revelation is communication from God to His children. This guidance comes through various channels according to the needs and circumstances of individuals, families, and the Church as a whole. When the Lord reveals His will to the Church, He speaks through His prophet ( source).

LDS theology states that when the Lord reveals his will to the Church it is to His prophet. As a missionary for the LDS church, Kate Kelly would be familiar with a fundamental missionary scripture, Amos 3:7, stating, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets," ( source). While I, like every other member of the LDS faith, has to accept that Kate Kelly received a personal witness of the LDS Doctrine of the Priesthood, it is also necessary to point out that we receive revelation as a personal witness and testimony and not as a tool of change or proselyting others to agree. 

However, Kate Kelly and Ordain Women maintain that this is a difference of opinion and not an act of apostasy. According to the excommunication letter, the counsel saw fit to view Ordain Women as " [Under]  your  leadership  and  with  your direct involvement, Ordain  Women announced  Six  Discussions  which  were intended to proselyte others  and  to  persuade  them  to  support  your particular  interpretation  of  Church doctrine.  You  reached  out  to  others  to  persuade  them  to  join your movement," (source). Which is, inherently, an open act of opposition to both teachings and doctrine ( see). It does not matter that Kate Kelly and Ordain Women have an opinion or point of view or have received a witness of either of those things from the spirit, it only matters how that information is presented ( see). 

Nor, for that matter is the excommunication "punitive" in form. According to the letter Bishop Harrison writes:  

I wish you had taken advantage of my offer to ,urange a secure video link where we could have talked face to face or my offer to reschedule the council to a date when you could have attended in person. Nevertheless, we respect your decision to make a written submission without a personal appearance, and we carefully and prayerfully considered at length the statement and other materials you provided to us ( source).

In this context, while it is true "All Disciplinary Council's, whether in the form of a “bishop’s” Disciplinary Council or a High Council Disciplinary Council, are necessarily staffed entirely by men. No woman is permitted to be on a council," ( source), it is not true that Kate Kelly couldn't be there and that it wasn't possible for her to attend. According to the Ordain Women website, Kate Kelly was aware of the "trial" and had decided not to attend. Let me repeat, she chose not to attend ( source). Nor is it true that a lack of experience living as a woman nullifies the counsel to assess and 'judge.' 

What is being ignored, and in my opinion universally, is that this isn't about Kate Kelly. It is about Ordain Women and the attempt of that organization, which Kate Kelly is both founder and leader, to convert men and women to the idea that ordination to the priesthood is necessary and should also be immediate. In this context, the 'trial' was not about sincerity or punitive measures, nor is it about being male or female, but about whether or not the organization and its leaders are intentionally trying to cause problems — regardless of the individual and collective opinions of the members of Ordain Women. 

Because this is about the Doctrine and Practice of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and not about gender or equality, the process was handled, reluctantly by all appearances, in an appropriate manner and with the intent of helping Kate Kelly and other members of Ordain Women understand where they came into conflict with the LDS church. It is not in questions or opinions on the ordination of women and it is not in terms of Kate Kelly's feelings of feminine superiority (mine), but in the existing doctrine and practices as they now stand. 

Further, it doesn't matter if in two years or twenty or two hundred the LDS church changes its stance or receives additional revelation allowing for full ordination to the priesthood for all worthy members (my thoughts here), what matters is the existence and practice the gospel as it now stands. Kate Kelly has stated that any answer that is not, Yes, women can be ordained to the priesthood, is wrong and she will continue to "agitate," ( source). 

Unfortunately, this is not a women who shows love or respect or a willingness to listen to the prophet today ( see) and, instead, has a predetermined course of action that is either correct or its wrong. 

I'm sorry Kate Kelly and Ordain Woman, you failed by ignoring the scriptures. Ignoring the order of authority and revelation. And by building an organization with the intent of undermining and antagonizing every other member of the LDS church until you get what you want. I am sad for the outcome and sad it came down to this. 


photo credit: Scott* via photopin cc


sources:

http://www.lds.org/

http://www.ksl.com/?sid=27133883&fm=related_story&s_cid=article-related-4

http://www.ksl.com/?sid=30452723&nid=148&fm=home_page&s_cid=toppick1

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-says-everyone-welcome-room-...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/231051936/Kate-Kelly-Excommunication-Decision

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58110298-78/kelly-church-women-mormon....

http://ordainwomen.org/excommunication/

http://ordainwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Brief-Submitted-by-Nad...

http://ordainwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Kate-Kelly-Letter-of-D...

18
Jun

The Media Server

eu_media_futures_forum_pic_0.jpgWhen we got married, Erin needed a new computer. She had a Gateway that was almost as old as the Dell I was using, but I didn't have a source of replacement parts and she was a bit defensive of it because her dad had given it to her. The Gateway didn't fill her needs, I couldn't keep it up to speed, and eventually we decided it was time to go to the campus bookstore (convenience) and buy her something new. We were, of course, going to wait to upgrade my computer as we were poor college students, newly married, and had no clue about the future.

Well, I had a clue about the future, but that's a post for a different time. 

She looked around at all the computers. I suggested a Sony. Or a Mac. She talked to her dad and ended up with an HP. It was a nice little computer loaded with Windows Vista and the latest version of Microsoft Office because I'm obsessive about things like that, and life was happy. 

Until she felt bad and we bought me a Macbook. In a matter of weeks Erin realized some things were easier, I wasn't dealing with the same problems she was, and buyers remorse coupled with not being able to return the HP meant she was stuck for a while. Eventually, when she went for her Masters of Education, we bought her a Mac. And, as a teacher, she is given one by her school to use. 

That HP, though, became mine and, for a while, I left Windows Vista (oh the pain) loaded on it because part of my obsession is that I don't want to delete data or files and what if Erin needed something? Outside of ordering a new battery, though, the HP was fine. Not great. Eventually, I updated the RAM as much as I could and used it sparingly. It was (and is) my backup or spare waiting in the wings. 

Except, late last year, after International Maker Faire, I decided to do a survey of Linux distributions to see what was out there and where things were the most user-friendly. This was not to give up my Mac. I love it. I'd buy something new if circumstances allowed it. Instead, it was to get a new feel for the environment and give me something to obsess over for a while. 

I have this brother who told me, once, he has the budget for exactly three obsessions at a time. One is always music. The second is often movies. While the third changes. Sometimes its computers. Sometimes its pottery. Sometimes its an old VW bus he wants to restore and ends up with three or four to piece together one. In all cases, he has three hobbies and ends up selling off pieces and parts of the others. 

In this sense, though not necessarily spirit, I have a series of obsessions. Let's not call them hobbies as they, at times, are not healthy and don't make me happy. Because of my autism, the obsessive nature of some things lends itself to the appearance of hobbies. My problem, though, is that I would qualify a lot of these activities as learning or experiential over hobby. I can, and do, become interested in things, learn what I need, and move on. I can see how this may be construed as either unhealthy or the wrong kind of obsessive, the reality is it is how I move through life. 

Contextually, I love learning. I love finding new things and figuring out the inner mechanism. In that spirit, I continue to move through life often exploring the inner mechanism so I gain greater understanding, while allowing for the reality that someone else is and almost always will be better qualified. There are areas, of course, where that isn't the case. I, sometimes, am qualified and interested and engaged. Though situations like that are becoming fewer and more narrow in focus. 

In the process of building a media server, it explored one of my many areas of obsession that never has to be an avocation. I don't have to be an expert, while I do want the ability to install, configure, and use. As a result, the product of things like this makes me amazingly qualified to pick up new things, learn about them, and then transfer that knowledge to people who may want to do more. It is this skill and talent and interest that allows me to justify every other deviation through the world of learning and experience. And, it is here I bid you adieu until the next time I sit and write something. 


Image source:

http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/eu-media-futures-forum

16
Jun

50-50 | Thoughts from Sunday School

Before I met Erin, and from long and careful observation of friends and family, I'd come up with the theory on marriage that 50% isn't always 50%. What this means is that people tell you a relationship should be 50-50 or that 50% of the time you get what you want or need and the other 50% of the time your significant other gets what she wants or needs. The reality of relationships, and especially marriage, is that 50% or 50-50 isn't so. 

In fact, when I speak to people, friends and others, about this idea, I present it in a way that makes sense to me: negotiable 50%. Or, you don't always get what you want and you don't have to settle for nothing. In fact, you should expect something even if it's a quick kiss and thank you at the end of the night. While seemingly selfish, the reality of being alive is that our egos need something to keep going. Not getting something back from your partner means you are giving, giving, giving and your partner is taking, taking, taking. 

This also means that at times you will be receiving more than 50% than your partner. This is true in sickness or through education, at times of travel or emergency, and in many other ways. Sometimes the disparity in 50-50 shows up in chronic problems or disorders and remains as a permanent fixture in the relationship until death. At any rate, the sway of who gets more isn't set at a perfect half and never will be, but at what is need and by whom at any given moment. Add children to the mix and your negotiable 50% can quickly and seemingly be reduced to nothing.

In having a relationship, I've found it important not only to realize that I'm not in it for me (best piece of advice, ever), but that I, on occasion, need to express my needs in a way that ensures they are understood and that Erin has the possibility of helping. Unfortunately, for me a need to be appreciated isn't as good as a pat on the back or kind words and has to show up in different ways (we're still working on it). However, the effort to show appreciation is enough, right now, that I gain my negotiable 50% and can keep moving forward. 

What happens in those times when both sides of the relationship (and child(ren)) need more than 50% and there isn't enough time, effort, or strength to do everything? In those moments, it becomes clear that someone (and often many someones) has to sacrifice in order to keep things going. This moves the 50-50 relationship into a deficit that, while never truly replaced, offers a different form of reward in that it further deepens and enhances the relationship. In these situations, the trailing effects of the universal need for more than 50% leads to discussions and changes in the immediate structure of how things operate, but in a way that also allows both partners to grow.   

16
Jun

Questions

1.

Question: How do you marry two inherently opposed ideas and make them not only harmonious? 

Sub-question: How do you keep the harmony while also maintaining independent integrity? 

Question: How do you honor the passion and literature that precedes the answer without completely negating or ignoring flaws and false assumptions? 

Sub-questions: What do you do with flaws and false assumptions when identified? 


2.

Thought: 

One problem with the presidential memoir isn't that it's written, it is that historians will use the memoir as source material. This is an offensive maneuver, meaning to the victor goes the spoils and the right to write history. It does not mean that the written statement is one of truth or honest appraisal. Using the simplest form of game theory, the single most important question that always has to be asked is: What's in it for the author? 


3.

There should be a logical and reasonable way to remove desire and emotion and bias. 

12
Jun

Offline for Stupid Reasons

If you attempted to visit the site in the past couple of days, there's a good possibility it was down. The reason, I had to update the code and database for my content management system. As this is something new for me and I'm still within the learning and troubleshooting curve (I don't always have an inherent understanding of how this software works like I do for other pieces of software) I had to troubleshoot. The outcome was a faulty code in a hidden file. And to think all the awesome web searching and troubleshooting took me nowhere until I found a rather obscure mention of a similar, though not really related, problem. 

Now the code is fixed. The site is updated. And we (meaning me) are back to being happy. 

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