Saturday, March 23, 2013

Life is Stressful...And Good

Kristine and I have entered a very time-sensitive period in our lives.  She has the stress of watching a houseful of six rambunctious kids, working almost 30 hours a week during the evenings, and taking a credit load of 20 credits this semester, with an eye toward graduating this May.

Her stress and my inability to make her happy is killing me.  It's making me very sad, which makes me very internally reflective, considering why I am unable to singularly bring her happiness.

I have begun to realize that friends are very important in a person's life and one person can never be all another person needs.  What I am good at makes Kristine love me very much and me her.  But what she needs at certain points in her life are better given by others.  Believe me...I try.  And yet I fail.

It's like an employee within a team of employees.  They provide a cog in the department wheel and provide it well.  But ask them to help another part of the team with their current talents and they may fail miserably.

I'm that failure.  And her other friends are victorious.

Good for them.  I'm so happy that she has friends that care about her and don't give a damn about what her doctrinal beliefs are, something we never experienced while in Christian Fundamentalism.

Thank goodness we are out.  Thank goodness I can look at life and figure things out without trying to rigidly shoehorn all my conclusions into some ancient and immovable holy text.

Life is stressful and good.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Software 101: What I have learned through the school of hard knocks

As many of you know, I'm (unfortunately) not a full time writer.  One day, maybe, but my day job is a software developer.  I write software for a small joint in the great state of Minnesota.  We are the best company in our niche market, growing at a pace upwards of 20% a year, and, well, I could go on and tell you all the wonderful things about who we are and how we function, but that's not really the point of this post.

On May 11, 2013, I will have worked at this company for four years.  I came here directly out of college, having gone back to school for Computer Science after spending almost a decade in sales.  I needed to have a good career to support my burgeoning family and, quite frankly, I loved writing code - especially if I saw it affect people in a wonderful way.

As I learned on the job in the first few years, I became intimately aware of a fundamental principle of incremental improvements in a piece of software. 

Do not change anything that will affect the current settings of current users!  And if this is not possible, due to necessary and critical issues like security, make sure you cogently and coherently delineate all manner of changes and how it affects the customer immediately (and preferably prior to distribution) upon construction of the new feature set.

I have failed at this rule a few times and have paid dearly for it.  Over time, if you repeatedly fall on your face in this manner, you lose the best currency for creating a sticky customer - trust.  Although, I must point out, if you provide excellent customer service or have a niche product that a customer is reasonably forced to continue with, despite your failings, they may grumble and stay with you out of necessity.  But good luck keeping them around when a competitor inevitably rears their angelic head.

Exhibit A for how NOT to follow this rule is the venerable social networking site, Facebook.  And no, I'm not talking about their Timeline feature or adding a Cover picture, or other items that they copiously advertised in the marketplace.  I'm speaking of their security settings.

Yes!  Security settings!  You don't mess with those - ever.  If a customer desires to not have another user view certain elements of the system, that should be honored at all costs.

More than once, I have noticed strange things happening on my Facebook account and went into my security settings, only to notice that it had all been completely revamped and everything was turned to "publicly viewable" or even the exact opposite, changing all my posts to "private or exclusive".  This is not good, especially for those people who desire to keep their private lives, well...private.  Or those who have online stalkers or abusers.  Facebook, with the nature of their international status, has to be more concerned about the dangers of changing user settings than me - a two bit programmer that affects about 2000 clients.

One of these days, someone is going to be severely negatively affected by these errors and Facebook programmers will be at fault.  It causes my mind to wander to the software development contractor who created a bug in an ambulatory oxygen system, causing the red light to not illuminate, notifying the operators that the oxygen tank needed to be changed.  The patient died.

Yes.  This is that important.

Facebook....get better at what you do.  Just because you own the space does not mean you are immune to the consequences your changes inflict on others' lives.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dismissing My Leaving the Faith

Libby Anne hits it out of the park with her most recent response to the old adage of "You were never really a Christian".

I responded to my critics once with a very raw and angry answer.  Granted, my critics weren't questioning my former Christian faith, but they were wondering why I was so adamant in chasing down and making an example of religious abusers.

Libby Anne brings my thoughts to the most common dismissal of my de-conversion:

You only left Christianity because people who weren't good Christians, hurt you.

That would be correct, if and only if, I based every single one of my reasons for leaving the faith on my abuse, rendered to me at the hands of those that were supposed to love me - who happened to call themselves Christians.  I cannot have any other opinions, facts that I have uncovered, or anything else that might have contributed to the journey.

This, of course, is a false premise.  Religious abuse EXPOSED the lies and hypocrisy of religion to me and was a beginning catalyst.  But, after it lit the fuse, I became more aware of everything I accepted, because I had always accepted it, and began to deconstruct every bit of my life.  No longer would I become beholden to a system - a way of life - where I was expected to think and behave a certain way without airing out every last one of my misgivings - like the Bereans in the days of the Apostle Paul.

I can hear the detractors now:
Well, Sir Incongruous Circumcision *cough *cough...I MEAN Circumspection, you must understand that the catalyst you claim began your journey out of the faith, actually CLOUDED your mind from revealed truth.  Furthermore, Paul was congratulating the Bereans for testing everything and accepting his message! - which you clearly have rejected.  So...we claim misuse of Scripture, a hardened heart, and might have never been a Christian anyway.  Thus, we feel better about ourselves and can blindly move forward without worrying about thinking getting in the way.

Go ahead.  Feel better about yourself.  I'm fine.  And if you really care to know why I'm not a Christian anymore, I'll fill you in on a little secret.

I hated getting my lazy ass out of bed every Sunday morning.  Not going to church has enabled me to sleep more on the weekends.

Now theologically pretzelify THAT one for a while.  I'll give you a cue card for starters: Sleeping is a sin.