Tag: everything

Ubuntu 9.10 (Install)

I’ve had several folks send emails asking about what parts that I’d build into a machine, what themes are in use in my screenshots, and what programs I’d recommend for a new Linux user. As one who favors the ‘work smarter’ over the ‘work harder’ method, I thought I’d post this info over the next few posts, rather than sending a 32 page email to them all.

So you’ve got a decent machine and you’re wanting to try out this crazy new Linux thing. I’ve used various Linux distributions for various projects, and they all have their strengths. If you’re a noob to the wonderful world of Linux, I’d recommend you start out with one of the many Ubuntu varieties. They have multiple versions for whatever environment and look you prefer. If you’re the type who likes things to ‘just work,’ aka the Mac type, Ubuntu (Gnome) is for you. Love getting buried in the details and customizing every nook and cranny of your workspace, Kubuntu (KDE) is your new best friend. Linux built for the classroom computer lab is dubbed Edubuntu (Gnome). Wanting to test Linux on an old machine before replacing the OS on your main box isn’t a crime, but you may want to choose Xubuntu (XFCE). You can even run this stuff on your phone/PDA/netbook with the Ubuntu Netbook edition. They also have derivatives for multimedia production, Ubuntu Studio (Gnome), and even Mythbuntu for building that home theater MythTV PC you’ve always wanted. Last but definitely not least, if you’ve got a rack that needs new life breathed into it, try the Ubuntu Server Edition.

We’ll be discussing primarily the Ubuntu Desktop Edition primarily using the Gnome Desktop Environment in the post, however most is very comparable if not identical to the other variations.

Let’s discuss installation. The Ubuntu installation is a piece of cake (or pie if you prefer) and only a couple areas foul folks up.

  • You’ll need to get your hands on an Ubuntu install image. You can download one directly, via torrent, via wubi, or if you have a spare USB thumb drive and a buddy who already has Ubuntu installed, have them make you a USB install stick.
  • Insert the install disc/usb stick and boot up the machine.
  • Select Language for Installer. If you want to read everything in English, like I do, just hit the ‘enter’ key.
  • Select ‘Install Ubuntu’ and hit the ‘enter’ key.
  • Select Language for Ubuntu. Again, I read English, just click ‘Forward’
  • Where are you? Pick the Region and the closest City in your time zone, and click ‘Forward’
  • Keyboard Layout. The ‘Suggested option’ is generally perfect, click ‘Forward’
  • Select ‘Specify partitions manually’ and click ‘Forward’
  • HEAD’S UP!! Okay, this can totally hose your machine if you don’t pay attention and know what you’re doing. Make sure you know which hard drive you want to use for your Linux installation, otherwise you’re going to wipe out your music/movie/photo/game collection, your Windows partitions, etc. If you’re wanting to toss Windows out the, uh, window, this will overwrite those partitions if you choose. Just make sure you backup anything you want to keep on another drive, disc, server, etc.
  • That said, pick the drive/partition you want to install Ubuntu on and ‘Delete partition.’ To scrap the whole drive and use the whole drive for Ubuntu, choose ‘New partition table’ and click ‘Forward’
  • Now you have ‘free space’ on that particular drive/partition. Select the ‘free space’ and click ‘New partition’
  • Create a new partition.
    For the first new partition (swap), you’ll want to make sure that the ‘Type for the new partition’ is set as ‘Primary’
    ‘New partition size in megabytes’ as a general rule, needs to equal twice the amount of RAM on your machine. If you have 2GB of RAM, you’ll want 4GB of swap space. (1GB = 1024MB)
    ‘Location for the new partition’ should be set to ‘Beginning’
    ‘Use as’ needs to be ‘swap area’ and click ‘OK
    You’ll notice that your swap space partition now appears on your partition table screen.
  • Select the remaining ‘free space’ and click ‘New partition’
  • Create a new partition.
  • For this partition (root or /), you’ll want to make sure that the ‘Type for the new partition’ is set as ‘Logical’
    To use all the remaining space, leave the ‘New partition size…’ as it is. If you plan to have separate partitions for your settings (/home) or the like, choose the size to fit your preference.
    ‘Location for the new partition’ should be set to ‘Beginning’
    ‘Use as’ should be set to either Ext4 or ReiserFS, I prefer the latter
    ‘Mount point’ should be set to ‘/’ unless you’re planning to have separate partitions for your settings etc. If you choose the latter select the mount point to preference. Click ‘OK
    You’ll now notice that ‘free space’ is all gone and we’re ready to click ‘Forward’
  • Now you get to tell Ubuntu what to name everything. When you’ve got that all filled out, click ‘Forward’
  • You’ll see the last Warning about the partitions and a general summary of your install options selected thus far. Take this time to check again to make sure you haven’t selected the wrong drive/partition etc. Once you’re sure that all is well, click on ‘Install’
  • Now is a great time to go grab your beverage of choice and relax for a bit. Don’t get too comfortable though, this won’t take long.
  • Installation Complete! Yee-Haw! Click on ‘Restart Now’
  • Remove the CD/USB installer and hit the ‘enter’ key like it says

As always, feel free to comment or ask questions about any of the ideas shared in this post.

Man in the Middle

As I was walking down the stairwell of the building I work in, I looked out through the large windows that let light into the otherwise dark stairwell.  I do this everyday as I go to the ground floor to eat lunch or to leave for home.  As I was looking out I was struck by the rather obvious observation that I could see only so far in all directions.  From my personal perspective I seem to be in the middle of everything.  Sounds awfully arrogant to me, too.  Man has been on this track for perhaps all our years in existence.  We all used to visualize, what is now the Middle East, pardon the pun, as the center of the world.  Then our world, planet Earth, as the center of our solar system.  Our solar system as the center of our galaxy.  Of course our galaxy is the center of the universe.  Hmmm.  Ok, so we’ve come a long way since those days, right?  We live our lives in a perceived 3D space.  We can see and understand a couple dimensions in either direction from the third that we currently reside.  We can theorize the existence of, say, ten dimensions, of which we really only can take measurement of, say, five.  Leaving us where?  In the middle, of course.

So are we truly in the middle, or is this just another obstacle of perception that we have yet to overcome?  Makes me wonder.  Is that perhaps where all the legends, myths, stories, and concepts of heaven, hell, angels, demons, spiritual planes, alien life forms, alternate realities, stem from?  Perhaps. So what of all this crazy talk?  I find it interesting that the ancient accounts of visitation of angels/demons/spirits resemble so much the more modern accounts of visitation of UFOs, extra-terrestrial beings, etc.  Perhaps they are the same thing.  Perhaps they are merely daydreams, hallucinations, or the like.  Perhaps they are a clever excuse to support or validate one or another viewpoint.  Perhaps…Perhaps.

What about this concept of other life forms living right here with us.  Hidden from view due to our inability to see beyond the boundaries of dimension or space.  Thomas Carlyle, speaking of other stars or solar systems, once said, “A sad spectacle. If they be inhabited, what a scope for misery and folly. If they be not inhabited, what a waste of space.”  A similar statement was made known via a line in Contact, a film based on the novel of the same name by Carl Sagan.  I’m not sure if there are or aren’t other life forms in our known or unknown space or dimension, but it would be extremely fascinating if there were.

Let’s bounce out another notch.  Who says that our universe is just that, a ‘uni’ verse.  Perhaps it is one of many in a multiversal system.  If that is true, would every universe play by the same fundamental rules, or would they all exist independent of one another.  Or we could knock it down a few notches.  What about the microscopic world that was unknown until fairly recent history?  What happens when we find more and more tiny worlds within our own?  You see where this is going.  We can image or propose theory about level outside our current range of vision, yet we can quite get there yet.  Is there a starting point or an ending point, or do the levels go on infinitely in both directions?  If there is a point at which the to divergent levels find an end, where are we in relation to them?  Are we truly in the middle, or are we as far off the midpoint of that spectrum as we are from being the center of the known universe?  So many questions, so many possible answers.

While we’re out here on this tangent, let’s go back to our comfortable three dimensional space for a bit.  We’re born, into human bodies, surrounded by other humans, and grow up learning human things.  We seem to feel that we’re in the middle here as well.  Bigger than a squirrel, smaller than a grizzly bear.  We can put people on the moon, yet a virus can still conquer a continent.  I wonder if other organisms feel the same way.  If we were all born into a wolf bodies, surrounded by other wolves, and grew up learning wolf things, would we feel that we were in the middle as well?  Or as an ant, or a virus, or a tree, etc.  Are we truly the only life form that finds themselves in this position, or have we simply not yet learned enough about everything else around us to even ask such a question?

Perhaps it’s the feeling of being in the middle that gives us the motivation to press out in all directions in search of the yet unknown.  That isn’t such a bad thing I guess, even if we find out just how much off center we really are in the process.

Images of God

It’s almost impossible for someone like myself to read the Bible with a virgin mind, a mind untainted or uninfluenced by my American experience of Christianity.  When I read the Bible, I will, at times, hear the voice of a preacher from my past experience echoing in my head, therefore shaping my perception of the words that I’m reading.  This can be good or bad, but it can never be neutral.  All experience and memory causes one’s perception to be shaped.

Let me use ‘shape’ to posit a question and example.  Does God have a shape?  If God is everything, infinite, all, then He cannot have a shape.  There would have to be a line differentiating inside from outside to have shape.  Being everything, He is inside and outside and therefore there is no division between the two concepts by which to define a shape.  Perhaps this is the true point of all of those  ‘don’t make images of God’ verses in the Bible.  The more images, conceptions and doctrines you make about God, the more emphasis you come to place on the images, conceptions and doctrines than the actual object that they have been made to represent.

Perhaps real truth cannot be told, or heard.  It can be suggested, indicated, pointed at, etc.  Perhaps real truth must be found.  We were given the Ten Commandments (by which I mean the Judeo-Christian old covenant law code contained in Exodus 20/Deuteronomy 5, not Cecil B. DeMille’s 1923 epic silent film, nor his 1956 major motion picture version) that were later reduced from ten down to two by Jesus in the latter part of Matthew 22.  Why?  Maybe because dictating or legislating morality doesn’t work real well with anything that has free will and a penchant for rationalizing their failure as an ‘alternate interpretation,’ and/or a a few religious legal weasels were trying to make Jesus look a fool.  By limiting it to two, it causes one to understand the point behind the ten.  In most cases it also leads a true seeker to set limits on themselves to accomplish the true goal.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.  If we truly followed these two commandments, we would find them to encompass all the others and possibly a few more personal ones as time, culture, and technology change and move forward.  So by getting back to the basic teachings of Jesus, we find that we can’t really go back without being urged to go forward.

Back up a second.  By following two basic concepts we will add our own commandments to the list?  Why would we ever do something like that?  Let’s face it, people are flawed.  We goof stuff up all the time, whether we intend to or not.  It’s the way of mankind.  As such, we all have our own individual sets of temptations.  For whatever reason, God made me a freak of nature in that I am not now, nor have I ever been tempted to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, take drugs, etc.  I’ve mentioned before that I am a creature of habit, and have a very addictive personality.  I’m not so vain as to suggest that my personality is so amazing that others are addicted to it, but rather I tend to become obsessed and addicted to things that I enjoy.  Perhaps this is falling in line with the concept that God will not give you more than you can handle.  That said, if there were to be such commandments in the Bible that stated, ‘Thou shalt not drink alcoholic beverages, smoke cigarettes, or take drugs,’ which there aren’t by the way, they would be of little consequence to one such as myself who has no real desire or temptation to succumb to those specific items.  However if they were to say, ‘Thou shalt not drink sweet tea, eat mashed potatoes, or listen to the Blues,’ I’d have a severely rough life ahead of me, whereas others would sail right through without breaking a sweat.  All that to say this, rather than force our limits on others, or be bogged down with the maintenance of the corporate list of do’s and do not’s, we should look for the real meaning or object behind the rule.  Quit bickering over the image of what a Christian is or is not and focus on the one that the rules were intended to point us toward, and that the image was made to represent.

That said I am currently reading through the Bible with an effort toward reading it with virgin eyes.  Trying to dismiss any preconceived ideas about the words that I am reading.  Trying to block out all the sermons that I have heard on the subject.  Trying to let go of a childhood of religious indoctrination.  Trying to let go of my tendency to force a truly Eastern religion into my Western world-view.  Trying to open my mind, my heart, and my ears to hear whatever God wills to consume my thoughts.

Whatcha Runnin’ Man? (New to Linux)

I’ve had several folks send emails asking about what parts that I’d build into a machine, what themes are in use in my screenshots, and what programs I’d recommend for a new Linux user. As one who favors the ‘work smarter’ over the ‘work harder’ method, I thought I’d post this info over the next few posts, rather than sending a 32 page email to them all.

So you’ve got a decent machine and you’re wanting to try out this crazy new Linux thing. I’ve used various Linux distributions for various projects, and they all have their strengths. If you’re a noob to the wonderful world of Linux, I’d recommend you start out with one of the many Ubuntu varieties. They have multiple versions for whatever environment and look you prefer. If you’re the type who likes things to ‘just work,’ aka the Mac type, Ubuntu (Gnome) is for you. Love getting buried in the details and customizing every nook and cranny of your workspace, Kubuntu (KDE) is your new best friend. Linux built for the classroom computer lab is dubbed Edubuntu (Gnome). Wanting to test Linux on an old machine before replacing the OS on your main box isn’t a crime, but you may want to choose Xubuntu (XFCE). You can even run this stuff on your phone/PDA/netbook with the Ubuntu Netbook edition. They also have derivatives for multimedia production, Ubuntu Studio (Gnome), and even Mythbuntu for building that home theater MythTV PC you’ve always wanted. Last but definitely not least, if you’ve got a rack that needs new life breathed into it, try the Ubuntu Server Edition.

We’ll be discussing primarily the Ubuntu Desktop Edition primarily using the Gnome Desktop Environment in the post, however most is very comparable if not identical to the other variations.

Let’s discuss installation. The Ubuntu installation is a piece of cake (or pie if you prefer) and only a couple areas foul folks up.

  • You’ll need to get your hands on an Ubuntu install image. You can download one directly, via torrent, via wubi, or if you have a spare USB thumb drive and a buddy who already has Ubuntu installed, have them make you a USB install stick.
  • Insert the install disc/usb stick and boot up the machine.
  • Select Language for Installer. If you want to read everything in English, like I do, just hit the ‘enter’ key.
  • Select ‘Install Ubuntu’ and hit the ‘enter’ key.
  • Select Language for Ubuntu. Again, I read English, just click ‘Forward’
  • Where are you? Pick the Region and the closest City in your time zone, and click ‘Forward’
  • Keyboard Layout. The ‘Suggested option’ is generally perfect, click ‘Forward’
  • Select ‘Specify partitions manually’ and click ‘Forward’
  • HEAD’S UP!! Okay, this can totally hose your machine if you don’t pay attention and know what you’re doing. Make sure you know which hard drive you want to use for your Linux installation, otherwise you’re going to wipe out your music/movie/photo/game collection, your Windows partitions, etc. If you’re wanting to toss Windows out the, uh, window, this will overwrite those partitions if you choose. Just make sure you backup anything you want to keep on another drive, disc, server, etc.
  • That said, pick the drive/partition you want to install Ubuntu on and ‘Delete partition.’ To scrap the whole drive and use the whole drive for Ubuntu, choose ‘New partition table’ and click ‘Forward’
  • Now you have ‘free space’ on that particular drive/partition. Select the ‘free space’ and click ‘New partition’
  • Create a new partition.
    For the first new partition (swap), you’ll want to make sure that the ‘Type for the new partition’ is set as ‘Primary’
    ‘New partition size in megabytes’ as a general rule, needs to equal twice the amount of RAM on your machine. If you have 2GB of RAM, you’ll want 4GB of swap space. (1GB = 1024MB)
    ‘Location for the new partition’ should be set to ‘Beginning’
    ‘Use as’ needs to be ‘swap area’ and click ‘OK
    You’ll notice that your swap space partition now appears on your partition table screen.
  • Select the remaining ‘free space’ and click ‘New partition’
  • Create a new partition.
  • For this partition (root or /), you’ll want to make sure that the ‘Type for the new partition’ is set as ‘Logical’
    To use all the remaining space, leave the ‘New partition size…’ as it is. If you plan to have separate partitions for your settings (/home) or the like, choose the size to fit your preference.
    ‘Location for the new partition’ should be set to ‘Beginning’
    ‘Use as’ should be set to either Ext3 or ReiserFS, I prefer the latter
    ‘Mount point’ should be set to ‘/’ unless you’re planning to have separate partitions for your settings etc. If you choose the latter select the mount point to preference. Click ‘OK
    You’ll now notice that ‘free space’ is all gone and we’re ready to click ‘Forward’
  • Now you get to tell Ubuntu what to name everything. When you’ve got that all filled out, click ‘Forward’
  • You’ll see the last Warning about the partitions and a general summary of your install options selected thus far. Take this time to check again to make sure you haven’t selected the wrong drive/partition etc. Once you’re sure that all is well, click on ‘Install’
  • Now is a great time to go grab your beverage of choice and relax for a bit. Don’t get too comfortable though, this won’t take long.
  • Installation Complete! Yee-Haw! Click on ‘Restart Now’
  • Remove the CD/USB installer and hit the ‘enter’ key like it says

As always, feel free to comment or ask questions about any of the ideas shared in this post.

Play Well

I know that I’ve touched on some of these thoughts before, but I feel the need to rehash some of them. I’ve given quite sizable commentary on what I believe, which is always subject to change. Subject to change? Yes. But beliefs are supposed to be firm, foundational, never changing. I think folks tend to confuse God with beliefs about God. God never changes, however my knowledge of and about God is constantly changing. Regardless of what you believe, ask yourself one question. Why? Why do I believe whatever it is that I believe? This is one of the simplest questions one can ask, yet the results of the search for an answer can seem quite complicated at times. It is a question that begs for truth, for honesty. Some people may not like the answers that they hear rattling around in their skulls. I know that I didn’t. Because that is what I’ve been told by others, because that is what those around me seem to believe, because of my experience. If these are the answers you hear, I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you. It’s good that you’ve come to this realization sooner than later. However, you can’t “unhear” what your mind has just whispered, or perhaps yelled at you. Start thinking for yourself. Read things for yourself. Research things for yourself. Don’t just believe something because someone, even someone as brilliant and handsome and humble and delusional, as myself, tells you without checking it out yourself. I was surprised how many things in holy texts weren’t quite what I’d been told. Time to get to work.

Some folks find comfort in believing that their beliefs shape reality. While this is figuratively true, my thinking that you are an elephant doesn’t make it so. Likewise thinking God is this or that doesn’t make it so, either. This leads me back to my “God is unlimited” statement from earlier. As such, we can do nothing but react to God. I find it funny when folks say that they just hope that God’s Will will be done. No offense folks, but if God is unlimited like the Bible teaches, God’s Will isn’t a concern for us to worry our pretty little heads with. That is to say, it’s going to happen whether we hope or wish or want it to or not. Being “in God’s Will” seems to me to be a “Get On or Get Out of the Way” scenario, if there ever was one. God initiates everything, we initiate nothing. We merely react. We can fight it, put our will against God’s, but that’s a bit like putting an infant in the ring with George Foreman, good luck with that.

Now let’s have a quick chat about sin. Sin has many connotations, and has been defined in various ways by various people. My definition for sin is “not giving to God, that which is God’s.” So what is God’s anyway? Everything. As the only unlimited being in the game, he has dibs on everything. So every time we don’t give God anything, it is sin. Simple isn’t it. Now execution of this simplicity is the not so easy part of the game. We were born into sin, and therefore struggle against our physical nature when we try to give God what he has coming to Him. We will fail, just a sure as we’re born (literally in this case). This is where things like grace, mercy, etc. come into the mix. God, being the only unlimited player, and thus knowing that He is the only unlimited player, has no hard time understanding that we’re going to hose stuff up constantly. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but does expect us to learn and make an effort. More work. There are two ways to look at this constant requirement of work. First, had Adam and Eve been perfect, or been able to follow one little rule, we wouldn’t be in this mess. We wouldn’t be in this mess because it’s probable that had they left that one tree alone, the “be fruitful and multiply” charge may never have been given. Also, it was after this major, yet simple, “Doh!” moment that God told them that work was the new play. If you two had just listened and obeyed one little rule, you’d still be in the fun house, no work, all play. However, now that you’ve shown your inability to leave stuff well enough alone, you get to enjoy this not so fun house, where everything is going to take work, nothing will be effortless, and most of the good things in life will come via discomfort. Enjoy!

After the first two got booted from a virtual heaven on earth, folks have been born into sin. Some say, “That’s not fair! Shouldn’t I get a chance in the garden first, too?” I hear you, I get you, I feel this same way too at times. The best I can come up with is this. If I were God, which we all know I’m not, I’d think, “Ok I made these two with my own two hands and they got themselves evicted from paradise on earth, surely the products of their level of intelligence won’t do any better than this.” We haven’t produced anyone yet that hasn’t managed to do the same or worse, so I think that was a safe judgment call on God’s part. Back to the point, born into sin. Born “into” sin. This simple word led me to ask another simple yet perspective changing question. Am I a physical being having a spiritual experience, or a spiritual being having a physical experience. This wasn’t an easy one for me to ask. In fact I wish I hadn’t asked it at all, but alas it was too late. Most holy texts promote the latter, whereas I find the former more comfortable. Comfortable doesn’t mean it’s true though, so here we go again. This is a concept I’ve heard my whole life, yet never gave much thought to. In fact, I always got the creeps around those “we’re just passing through” people. However the more and more I read for myself, the harder and harder time I have with maintaining my comfort level. The Bible makes this physical reality, this life, this experience seem like just the beginning. If you’ve played video games in the past 10 years, you’re familiar with the “Training” level of a game. For example, before I could adequately play and enjoy the Playstation 2 version of the Spider-Man: The Movie game, I had to complete a training level. In this specific case the training narration was beautifully hosted by Bruce Campbell, who I personally find quite humorous and entertaining. This is what this physical life is akin to. This life that we know and love, are merely the training level of a bigger, better, never ending game. The big difference being that once the training level is over, you can’t go back and keep trying. You get judged on your performance, and either allowed to play the best game ever with all the cheats unlocked, or to a really horrible hell of a game that is everything you hated about the training level multiplied by infinity. The full game is infinite in possibility and duration, so let that help determine which game you want to play after the training level is over. OK, so we know that we’re on the Training level of existence, so where do you go for training? This is what church is for, or at least what it should be for. How do one make sure that one gets involved with a church and not a cult? As a general rule of thumb, if you’re taking part in some form of service, ceremony, ritual, religious practice and you think, “I think this might be a cult,” you’re probably in a cult. Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck… That said, it’s not always easy to find a good church. Good Luck and Play Well.

Pattern

We all have a certain way we approach different tasks in life. I’ve recently come to question my methods and their origins. Why do I do things the way that I do? I tend to have very particular and specific ways to do almost everything that I do. Most stem from a personal desire for organization and efficiency. For my own self catharsis, and your entertainment, I’ll give a few examples. I’m not much of a shopper, especially when it comes to clothes. I find a certain type that I feel comfortable in, make sure it will satisfy any dress codes mandated by my employer, and then buy an identical set of five of each. Tube socks, white crew undershirts, boxers, slacks, jeans, shorts, etc. I do tend to stray slightly when it comes to t‑shirts or sweaters. However this is simply a tactic to avoid the appearance that I never change clothes. This allows me to get dressed in a matter of seconds rather than hours. A less practical example would be that any time I encounter numbers in life, I tend to stick to a basic hierarchy. When limited, I’ll choose the even number. As the limits decrease, I’ll lean toward a multiple of 5, or an even number that is also a multiple of 5. This comes in handy when trying to decide on a volume for the radio and the like. A numerical volume of 10 is preferred, however if that is too quiet, I’d raise it to 12, then to 15, then to 18, then to 20, etc. When the opportunity presents itself, I tend to work up the hierarchy in order to choose a number based on its being a prime number, or perhaps a certain (preferably even, multiple of 5, or prime) number of steps from zero along a Fibonacci sequence.

I’ve heard it said that when you truly love something, you see it everywhere you look. If that’s true, I must love patterns, and folks who couldn’t poor water out of a boot if the instructions were on the bottom of the heel. I live in a world of pattern. I see everything as pattern. I live my life by pattern. Patterns as simple as the order in which I wash the various parts of my body in the shower, to the more complicated patterns by which I categorize musical notes by numerical value in order to remember the melody of a song and its harmonies. I try my best to notice and record the patterns around me, in hopes that it may someday serve a purpose.

As one who believes the “everything happens for a reason” philosophy, I tend to question the reason for certain patterns. Although this questioning is usually of no real consequence, it does usually give rise to a chuckle. Have you ever noticed that the ridges on a banana match up to the joints of your thumb and finger when held? Or that Evil’s Agents is an anagram for Evangelists? There are times when I encounter a pattern that I find beautiful. Beauty comes in many forms for me. Sometimes it is the simplicity of a certain pattern that steals my attention. Other times it’s the complex combination of multiple patterns working together to make a quite different pattern. More on these later.

I would also have to state that there are also times when I encounter a pattern that stimulates those other feelings that we’ve discussed, namely disappointment, confusion, anger, and fear. Perhaps these negative feelings stem from holding others to the same standards that I hold myself to. I’m beginning to think that I set the bar too high. Perhaps I’m just becoming jaded with age, but it seems that the older I get, the more I find myself surrounded by blatant laziness, ignorance, and helplessness. The part that really stirs up these negative feelings in me, is the all too common willingness to succumb to these various forms of weakness. I can sympathize with someone who doesn’t have the ability to accomplish a task because of some natural handicap. If you don’t have legs, I don’t expect you to bring home any marathon medals. If your mental ability to learn stopped around age 5, I don’t expect any Nobel prizes for groundbreaking work in theoretical physics. However unnatural handicaps, namely ones that are acronym heavy and common sense light, are a whole different story. As someone with more questions than answers about this whole experience called life, I know that I have not ascended beyond the common issues, problems, troubles, or complications.

My 8 year old son came out of his room one morning, shortly after we had adopted 2 new puppies into our family and home, to say, “Sneeeeeeef! Dad, I think the pups pooped somewhere.” To which I replied, “When you find it, clean it up.” Later that morning while taking him to school, I asked him for an update on the status of the dog poop. He was silent for a moment, then stated, “I didn’t find it, so I didn’t clean it up.” The truth is, he didn’t go looking for it, because finding it would then entail cleaning it up. Who wants to clean up someone else’s poop? Any takers? Didn’t think so. He learned quickly that it is easier to “not notice” problems, because being the one to find the problem means that you’ll probably be the one who has to solve it. I’d like to think that this behavior was only common in children, but I’d be grossly diluted. The scary part is, I look around our world and see several adults developing this behavior pattern. No one wants to help clean up the poop of life, so we just pretend we don’t notice the odor. We can’t have it both ways, yet we like to complain about how much our society has changed, for the worse, in the past 50 years. We all need to lose our fear of work. If something doesn’t smell quite right, we need to hunt down the source, and work together to clean it up.

More frightening than disappointing is the fact that so called “holy” institutions seem to lead the way in enabling or even encouraging such behavior. If memory serves, I recall multiple holy texts containing statements and implications that the “holy” are to set the example for the “unholy.” This isn’t limited to morality, it should encompass every part of life. The “holy” should lead in creativity, artistry, innovation, integrity, work ethic, generosity, humility, health, business, entertainment, sports, and education. I can think of a very few examples when this has ever come to fruition. Irony of ironies is that in most cases, the success of such attempts is hindered by the “holy” community. These communities seem to spend more time arguing among themselves than working together to set the standard for the others to live up to. Rather than remaining traditional and cutting ourselves off from the others, or being a conformist and following the others, these communities need to become transformers. Although this sparks an image of electronic equipment or perhaps robots disguised as vehicles, transforming ourselves and the others around us into a people working together to solve the issues at hand seems like a better option. But who am I to dismantle thousands of years worth of religious bickering.

To recapture a previous thought, there are patterns that I enjoy. There is ironically no set pattern to the patterns that I enjoy, other than to say that I enjoy the patterns that are mysterious. The patterns that I don’t adequately understand. The patterns that I don’t know enough about to discuss simply. Patterns that are larger than my ability to discern. I am constantly humbled by such patterns. These mysterious patterns are the root of inspiration. Art, music, philosophy, science, math, all require inspiration. In this way, the mysterious patterns lead us to form our own patterns.

Imagination can sometimes lead to knowledge. I have seemingly random epiphanies at times, often during mundane or monotonous tasks. Sometimes the breakthrough happens during a morning shower, or while mowing the yard. I find that most times, answers are found by adjusting my perspective. Dialing back the microscope, and perhaps exchanging it for a telescope instead. I find beauty in simplicity. This is where I find God. If I were to ask, how to breathe, could you explain it to me? This is something that we all do, yet can’t adequately explain. This concept fascinates me. It is so simple that we all manage to accomplish it with little to no conscious effort, yet so complicated, it has taken several lifetimes to understand the basic process from start to finish. Most would respond that they just do it. That is simplicity. I suspect God would reply similarly if asked how to create everything from nothing. He would respond that He just did it. That is simplicity. I believe that everything is this simple, if you have the right perspective.

I wonder what perspective it would require to explain simply who I am? I can tell you what I’ve done, how I’ve done it, who was there, and when I did it, yet none of these explain who I am. We can discuss my name, my species, my genealogy, my job, my history, my present, my hope for the future, my appearance, my possessions, my beliefs, yet I can not simply tell you who I am. Who I am seems to be an image or idea or concept. If I am merely an idea or image or concept, could I get wet in the word water? Who or what forms this image or idea or concept? Where is this image or idea or concept? You have an image of me, as do I, however our images are not the same. My image of myself is based in part on what you reveal to me of your image of me. Your image of me is based in part on what I reveal to you of my image of myself. However, neither of us can access the image held by the other directly, only indirectly, only in reflection. Perhaps the reason for this limitation is to protect from reaching another more difficult or even damaging limitation. Imagine a video camera, whose lens could directly access the image it was capturing directly. The image would grow into an infinite replication within a replication of the original image until the ever growing image would become too complex for the camera to capture. Perhaps our limited physiology would not be able to function under the strain of this infinite feedback loop of self image, at which point all other experience would become irrelevant at best, or cease altogether. Who am I? Who is asking?

Shameless Plug

Ok, so I’m going to throw out a shameless plug for my other project site, simplemediagroup​.net. It is a project that offers free consultation to folks who don’t have the skill set to set up their own web presence. Everything from basic advice to full site setup and basic site administration training.

If you happen to want to submit someone, namely an NFPO, open source project, community, church group, self-employed type for some of our assistance, please do.

Thanks for bearing with me through that…

~matt