Technically Religious
S1E29: Tales From the TAMO Cloud Featuring Al Rasheed

S1E29: Tales From the TAMO Cloud Featuring Al Rasheed

September 24, 2019

Did you ever wonder why IT diagrams always use a cloud to show an element where stuff goes in and comes out, but we're not 100% sure what happens inside? That was originally called a "TAMO Cloud" - which stood for "Then A Miracle Occurred". It indicated an area of tech that was inscruitable, but nevertheless something we saw as reliable and consistent in it's output. For IT pros who hold a strong religious, ethical, or moral point of view, our journey has had its own sort of TAMO Cloud - where grounded technology and lofty philosophical ideals blend in ways that can be anything from challenging to uplifting to humbling. In this series, we sit down with members of the IT community to explore their journeys - both technical and theological - and see what lessons we can glean from where they've been, where they are today, and where they see themselves in the future. This episode features my talk with friend, sysadmin, Tech Field Day representative, and recurring Technically Religious guest Al Rasheed. Listen or read the transcript below.

Josh: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as it professionals mesh - or at least not conflict - with our religious life. This is Technically Religious.

Leon: 00:22 Did you ever wonder why it diagrams always use a cloud to show an element where stuff goes in and comes out, but we're not 100% sure what happens inside. That was originally called a TAMO cloud, which stood for Then A Miracle Occurred. It indicated an area of tech that was inscrutable, but nevertheless something we saw as reliable and consistent in its output for it pros who hold a strong religious, ethical or moral point of view. Our journey has had its own sort of TAMO cloud, where grounded technology and lofty philosophical ideals blend in ways that can be anything from challenging to uplifting to humbling. In this series, we sit down with members of the IT community to explore their journeys, both technical and theological and see what lessons we can glean from where they've been, where they are today, and where they see themselves in the future.

Leon: 01:08 My name is Leon Adato, and the other voice you're going to hear on this episode is my friend and recurring guest on Technically Religious, Al Rasheed.

Al: 01:16 Hi Leon. Thanks for allowingme to participate. As you mentioned, my name is Al Rasheed. I'm a systems administrator. I can be found on Twitter, @ Al_Rasheed, and you can follow me or follow my blog, I should say at I'm a Muslim. I believe in practicing good Karma, in remaining conscious of your decisions in life, and in one.

Leon: 01:40 Okay. And if you are madly scribbling down all those websites and stuff, you can stop and just listen and relax. We're going to have show notes so that you can find all that stuff without having to write it down. So let's dive right into it. I want to start off with the technical side of your life. Where, what do you, what work are you doing today?

Al: 02:01 Ah, so currently I'm a systems administrator. I've been in it for approximately 15 years plus. Um, I've got various certifications. I've been, I've worked at all different gamuts. I've been in the education field for IT. I've worked as a federal contractor forITt. I'm a DCVmug leader. I'm also a member of the VMVanguards, the a Vmware Vexperts, Cisco Champion, Nutanix NTC. I'm also Tech Field Day delegate. And most recently I was awarded, uh, with The VMug President's award at VMWorld 2019 in San Francisco.

Leon: 02:37 Right. I was there for that. So that was kind of exciting. That was amazing to see. Congratulations on that one. Um, okay, so that's where you are today. All things virtual. Uh, that's incredible. And it's always a lot of fun to have. For me, it's always fun to have friends who have those bases of knowledge because A) I have somewhere to turn when I have a question, but also B) when I get more curious, I can always turn and say, okay, "what's the cool thing? Like what should I be working on next?" So it's always neat. Um, but you probably didn't start off in all the virtual stuff with 15 years. VMWare wasn't around. So what did you do when you were just starting out?

Al: 03:13 So, just starting out right out of school, uh, relatively new. Uh, I was relatively new to marriage and in my early twenties, I was in retail. And at the time it was a career that I pursued. Also, it was the, um, degree that I pursued in school. Uh, it paid well. It got me through it, provided what I needed at the time, but as my wife and I sat down and started to focus on putting, you know, we were working on a family and then having kids, the along hours got tiresome working from four to midnight and then being back four hours later, uh, gets a little bit old after a while. Again. Weekends weren't off the, there were long days. And as most of us can really relate, whenever you're in retail, a customer service customer is always right. Um, but not necessarily, but you have to take your medicine and accept it.

Leon: 04:05 Yeah, it's a lot of "grin and bear it" kind of stuff. Right. Okay. So that's where you started, but how did you get from there, from that retail space into where you are today?

Al: 04:16 So, um, I took a chance on myself and when I say myself, that obviously includes my wife and at the time my son, he was about two years old. Um, I jumped into IT into a help desk position. It was a relatively low paying job, but it was a starter. It was a starter role within IT and it was a sacrifice that I was willing to make. Um, but at the same time I held onto my retail job in a part time position to make up for some of the money that I'd lost during this transition. And I held both jobs roughly for about five years. So give or take on average and I'm not making excuses for myself. Everybody's got to go through this, but it's, it's worth the sacrifice and the challenge. Um, for about five years I was putting in 60 to 70 hours a week and that included weekends, but, but I knew there was going to be a reward because IT was booming. Everybody was jumping on it. The Internet had just blown up for lack of better way of putting it. And um, you know, I just wanted just like anybody else, a comfortable... I thought at the time, low stress job. But IT can be stressful. We all know that as well. Um, I don't have any regrets. I'm glad I did it. It's definitely elevated me to a point in my life in career, but also provided for my family in areas where I never thought were imaginable.

Leon: 05:36 Great. That's, that's, I mean it's a lot of dedication and as a lot of us who've been sort of through that in that time period, you know, those 10 to 15, 20 years ago or (cough) more for some of us, uh, whose beards are a little grayer, it, you know, there is some sacrifice at the, at the beginning, but you see that there is you, there's a brass ring, you see that there's a reward at the end and so you're not just working for the sake of working more. Um, and that's, that's an important lesson to take away I think. Um, all right, so we're going to come back to that, but I want to, I want to flip over to the religious side. This being Technically Religious. So we're going in order, we talked about the technical, now I want to talk about the religious side of your journey, of your growth. Now I find that labels are really hard for folks. Um, you know, you say, "So what kind of Blah Blah..." whether it's Christian, Jew, Muslim, Mormon, " what kind?" And the answer is always, "Well, I'm sort of this and I'm sort of that..." There's, there's always an explanation to go with it. So labels are imprecise, but I'm curious how you would define yourself. Uh, you know, in a religious way.

Al: 06:42 Correct. So as I mentioned, to start off this conversation, I am Muslim, but I would consider myself a conscience, conscious based Muslim, a conscious based religious person. Can I be better? Absolutely. Am I terribly bad? I don't think so. I know my right from my wrong, I try to convey these lessons learned not only to, you know, for myself but for my wife and my kids, but those around me. And um, we just try to focus on positivity, help others out as best as possible. But you know, when I have to, if I have to look myself in the mirror, I do have a lot of room to grow with and uh, there's a lot expected of me and um, I can always improve. But there are, you know, religion is a delicate subject depending on who you speak to. It can be interpreted in so many different ways. So I'm trying to be as gentle as possible when I explain how I approach it. Um, because you know, just some people take it to another level and I, I don't want to A) offend anyone, nor do I want to get into a, a "beef" for lack of a better way of putting it online or on Twitter or however, if I were to see somebody in person.

Leon: 07:47 Got It. Okay. Well I will respect those boundaries too. But, uh, you know, again, I know from our other conversations that you have, you know, a pretty strong point of view for yourself, not for, uh, for anyone else, but you hold yourself to a very high standard and it definitely informs the way that you approach work. And, um, okay, so the same way I asked you about how, where you started in IT and how you got, uh, to, you know, this point in your life. So is this where you are now? Is that where you started? Is that, you know, your sort of level of observance and consciousness, religious consciousness when you started out?

Al: 08:22 I would probably say no. Um, maybe prior to getting married I wasn't as conscious of everything that's around me or what's expected of me as a Muslim or someone that's following any faith. Um, it's probably, it probably has to do with just being immature at the time or just, um, not really keeping those ideologies in mind that I think as you get older you start to realize life is a little bit shorter, especially as you become, especially as you become a parent. Um, maybe you want to become, you know, obviously you do want to act as a role model and a mentor and more so when I was more actively involved with my kids' activities, now that they've gotten older, you know, they want to distance themselves from dad and mom because they seem to know everything. But we were just like them. So, you know, when I was younger I was actively involved in like their sports, their activities, but I didn't necessarily do it for my kids. I also did it for myself in the young people that they were surrounded by. Uh, one thing that I, I really cherish and I, and I can't get enough of it, is if I happen to see somebody, like one of my son's friends who I coach, let's say for example in basketball 10 years ago, so that was my son was 12 years old at the time. They'll approach me and say hello, Mr Rasheed. And I don't even recognize them because they changed. You know, they're now young adults. My son's 22 and he doesn't look like he did when he was 12, but you know, they'll always approach me and they will call me by, you know, my name. But not only that, they'll take a moment or two and say, "You know what, thank you. Because what you taught us and then has helped us grow to where we are now." And when it was, when I went up, when I was involved in their lives at that time, it was predominantly around sports. I am a sports junkie, but I tried to also teach them life lessons and I think they've taken that and learned from it.

Leon: 10:22 Nice. Okay. So, uh, I think we've, we've covered your sort of religious journey or your spiritual journey along the way. Um, now what I want to do is talk about blending the two because I know that for people who have strongly held religious, moral, ethical points of view that work in general, and IT specifically can be interesting. I'm not saying it's a challenge, I'm not saying like it's a problem, but it creates a set, a set of layers to the work that folks who may not have that strong a point of view don't always, uh, have to manage or deal with. So I'm curious as a Muslim and you know, as somebody who's worked for decades in IT, you know, what challenges have you had with that overlap?

Al: 11:12 I think both your career in it and your faith as a Muslim, in my case, they both require an insane amount of patience, especially when you are out of your comfort zone or you don't live in your faith-based country. Uh, I, you know, I've, I've been a US citizen for pretty much my entire life. I've lived here in this, in the States for my entire life. So I've adapted to that culture, that way of life in general. But there are times, especially in IT, and I don't know why it has to be IT-related or specific to IT, but, um, your patients. Yeah, I want to say your faith, you keep faith in the back of your mind more times than not how you are going to react to a certain situation, especially if there is a potential for it to become unnecessarily, uh, provoked or heated.

Leon: 12:06 Okay.

Al: 12:08 Um, I, as you can relate, many of us in, in this industry, As IT professionals, we're acknowledged, we're appreciated, but they don't know we exist until there's a problem. And they will let us know when there's a problem. Nine times out of ten,it's not done in a manner in which you would prefer to be notified there's a problem. And so when you've got a herd of people coming at you and you're already well aware of what's going on and you're attempting to fix the situation on the back end and try to keep it to a minimum, those are the, uh, those are the opport... Those are the moments where you find yourself questioning, not necessarily why you got into IT, but why do we have to go to this level to report something that can be relatively low key and fixed in a quick amount of time.

Leon: 12:56 Right. But I liked it. I liked the word you almost said - it's an opportunity to have a chance to first of all reframe their point of view. And again, as somebody who has a strong, you know, moral, ethical, religious point of view to be that, uh, to be that example, to be that role model. Um, sometimes we do end up representing a segment of the population. You know, I know that a lot of times for people who especially don't know, me personally, I am a 5' 8" kippah and you know, seat seat. I'm just this religious dude who's standing there. And that's what they see. And so I do recognize that my interactions carry a weight that isn't just, hey, Leon didn't handle this well. It, it goes further than that. So you have an opportunity to not only help manage expectations as an IT person, but you have a chance to manage expectations as the whole person who you are standing in front of them.

Al: 14:00 Correct. Correct. And I find it's not, like I said, it's not about me when I put it this way. I think it does apply to a lot of us in IT. Honesty can be a challenge. And I'm not saying that we always have to lie, but sometimes you've got to beat around the bush to put it mostly because if there is an issue and you're upfront and you give the end user who the individual, whoever the individual is, that's asking for an update to the situation, uh, the truth, they may overreact and take it up to another level that's completely unnecessary. And unprovoked. I'm not saying lie, but sometimes, and I hate to use expression beat around the bush, but kind of just give them as little as possible without putting yourself out there in a tough, in a tough area.

Leon: 14:48 Well, and I would also say that there's, there's a way to, you don't have to say everything right. And that counts for lots of people in lots of situations. That truth is answering the question that you're being asked. Um, I will never forget that one of my children asked me, you know, 'Dad, where did I come from?" And so we sat down and had this very long, very specific conversation about biology and when I was done, my childhood, oh cause Bobby's from St. Louis and I realized I was not being asked the question. I thought I was being asked. And so answering the question that, that you're being asked, you know, "what's wrong" is a very open ended question. And if you give too much detail, people can, at best they'll ignore the answer. But at worst you're giving them bits of information they didn't really, they weren't really looking for in the first place.

Al: 15:47 No, that's, that's a valid point. As the kids say TMI, too much information. I totally get it now as we've gotten older, but I know we've mentioned on previous segments on your podcast, I've acted as a mentor in my career in IT, and one of the pieces of pieces of advice that I give to young people getting into IT is keep it - and with all due respect - keep it simple stupid, the KISS method. Don't go out of your way to offer the end user, whoever you're explaining this to, an opportunity to twist your words around or maybe they just don't quite understand what you're trying to explain to them and then they can convey it incorrectly to someone else that could elevate it to a just a very challenging awkward position to be in.

Leon: 16:32 Okay. So any, any other challenges that you've had again with your ethical, religious, moral point of view, blending that with your IT experiences?

Al: 16:42 Um, communication is very important to me. Everyone should have an open door policy. Um, feedback should always be provided in good and bad situations cause we can only improve from it. Um, there are times where if you are going back to the honesty key point, if you are honest and upfront, there is a tendency, not, not necessarily all the time, but the occasionally that it could backfire. And um, it's, you know, the old expression, "you have to play the game" or "don't hate the player, hate the game." I don't like to be that way. I don't think anyone wants to be that way. And it's not something that I would encourage anyone to go down that path or act in that way. Um, but you know, it's a delicate balance and you just gotta be aware of your surroundings, but do it morally and ethically without not only, you know, putting yourself in a bad position, but your team as well. At the end of the day, you're a team. You have to function as one and, uh, we have to improve collectively.

Leon: 17:39 Right. And, and again, you want to answer the question you're being asked, you want to offer the, you know, that those pieces of information don't overshare because at the end of the day, people, you know, they have a quick question. They want a quick answer usually, especially when something's really happening in IT. You want to be able to be brief and be brilliant and be gone.

Al: 18:01 Yes, right. And all but, but be authentic, be original. You know, it's going back to what you just said and don't try to create something that you're not cause that that hero mentality sooner or later we'll come back and get you. And before, you know, you have a reputation of being that type of person and it's not something that anyone in IT or any, any, any career for that matter wants to be. Because once you've been singled out or blackballed or considered this type of individual, it's really hard to recover from.

Leon: 18:35 It definitely can be. All right. So, so that's sort of the challenges. But, um, I'm curious if there have been benefits or surprises, uh, or just, you know, positive things that this overlap between your religious perspective and the IT work that, uh, you've had. If there's anything that, that you've experienced over the last 15 years.

Al: 18:54 I think getting more involved more recently in the, the community in general, that the community, regardless of what platform it is, has been inspiring for me. It's opened up so many doors and created so many friendships, including with you and Josh on the podcast. Uh, it's refreshing to know that there are individuals out there that care for one another, not only from a professional aspect but from a human perspective as well. Because, you know, we work to live and we'd hate to work or we'd hate to live to work. And so I, I, that's something that I've learned over the past few years is, you know, you can put in 70 hours, but it's, and that's fine and dandy, but sooner or later it's gonna catch up to you. And before you know it, you're not going to be happy professionally. If you can't do your job in a 40 hour a week. And, and I get it occasionally you have to over your, you know, you have to overextend yourself. You have to sacrifice an hour or two here and there. But when it becomes a consistent part of your life, when you're putting in 70 hours a day, you're defeating the whole purpose of everything that you've worked so hard to get to.

Leon: 20:00 Right. And again, I think that the, some of the guiding principles of our, our faith lives start to put, to put that into a particular framework of, you know, what are you doing this for? What's the point? Um, I was listening to someone speak the other day and they said, you know, if someone showed you a machine that was a perfectly self running machine, "Look, I turned it on and it never, it just completely feeds itself!" And you'd say, "That's wonderful. What does it do?" "Well, it does that, it just, it runs and it, it, it keeps itself moving and it keeps itself oiled and it's self repairs and stuff." "Yeah. But what does it do?" "Well, that's what it does. It just, you know...", You'd say, "Well that's cute, but a machine that works so that it works, it doesn't even make me a cup of coffee. It doesn't, you know, Polish the dog or like that. That's sort of a pointless, a pointless machine." And if we've become that pointless machine where we are working so that we can work so that we can keep working so that we can work, it's that sort of never ending loop. And I think that again, our faiths point us toward like, that's not it, that's not what you're supposed to do.

Al: 21:06 I was just going to say, sorry to interrupt you, but then you do lose sight of faith when you're working night and day and all you do is think about work, work, work. And I don't want to come across the wrong way. Um, I, you know, I would hate for someone to characterize me in a different manner. Um, but I, you know, I, I'm a hardworking individual. I'm diligent, I'm thorough. I'll do the best to my ability. I am a team player, as I pointed out earlier. But you know, at the end of the day, I want to come home and separate work from life.

Leon: 21:37 Absolutely. And I think that when you have that, when you have that ethic, everybody except the most, uh, abusive or small minded people will respect you more for it. Okay. So any final thoughts? Anything? If somebody listening this and saying, "Wow, that sounds just like me except, you know, he's way further ahead than I am" or whatever. Like what lessons do you want to share? What final thoughts do you want to leave everyone with?

Al: 22:02 I would say based on where my path has taken me, you should always take a risk on yourself, especially if you've got an opportunity to do so. Uh, without, you know, without risking a lot, you'll realize sooner than later that the effort that you put into it, you'll be rewarded for it in time. Um, if you sit back and wait for someone to do something for you, nine times out of 10, it's not going to happen, but do it the right way. Um, seek help, uh, become a part of, you know, the various community groups. Um, occasionally, you know, you've got to volunteer because you've got to give and take. So you can't have everything, uh, put out on a silver platter. You've got to put in the time and effort, the blood, sweat and tears as they say. But a don't make yourself miserable doing so. And when I reflect back, I, I don't really have any regrets, uh, with what I chose to do at the time. I'm happy I'm, I'm, I've gotten to this point in my life and in my career, but moving forward, I, I still want to elevate and I still want to grow. And, um, I'm looking for that next challenge in my career. And, uh, if that opportunity presents itself for the right reasons, and if that a organization finds, um, that I am the person that they're looking for, you can always reach out to me. I'm more than willing to have a conversation.

Leon: 23:17 They'd be idiots not to take you. I will, I will go out on a limb and say, Al, it is always so much fun to talk to you. Uh, I know we're gonna have you back on the Technically Religious podcast here in the near future, but thank you so much for taking some time out of your evening to talk with me.

Al: 23:36 Thank you as always, and I appreciate your time and support and if there's anything I can do for you, the podcast or anybody in general, you've got my contact information, you're more than welcome to share with me if they reach out to you directly.

Doug: 23:48 Thanks for making time for us this week. To hear more of Technically Religious, visit our website, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect to us on social media.


S1E28: Release to Production, Part 2

S1E28: Release to Production, Part 2

September 17, 2019

The phrase “release to production” conjures a very specific set of thoughts and even emotions for folks who live, breath, and work with technology. Some of those thoughts and feelings are positive, while others are fraught with conflict. At the same time, those of us who are active in our religious community experience a different kind of “release to production” - releasing our children to the production environment of our faiths, whether that is teaching abroad, missionary work, or adult religious education that takes our young adult across the globe. And like our IT-based production release experiences, we watch our kids transition into chaotic systems, where parental observability is minimal even as the probability of encountering unknown-unknown error types grows. This week we continue the discussion from the last episode, where Leon and Josh to look at what our IT discipline can teach us about how to make this phase of the parental production cycle easier. Listen or read the transcript below.

Kate: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experience we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion or lack thereof. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is Technically Religious.

Leon: 00:24 This is a continuation of the discussion we started last week. Thank you for coming back to join our conversation.

Josh: 00:31 You know, there's a moment in my and my childhood that I think accurately reflects my approach or how I got into IT. And I really wished that I could have had somebody at the top of Devil's Run with me who could say, "Look, now young Josh, this is not a good idea." So you have to picture this. It's this, the largest hill in my neighborhood and Ontario and it is a, a run that goes down, hits a flat top and then goes down again, uh, into this grassy meadow before there's a highway. And there are trees that are grown, that are grown in across the path. And here I am, I'm probably seven years old, right? This is the 80s. There are no bike hel, there are no like bike helmets. No. And I'm on my BMX, right. Uh, no suspension. It's not like I was, you know, dry, uh, riding a mountain bike with, you know, eight inches of travel on the front end and three in the back. Like this is teeth chattering. And I friends and I of course are at the top of this run. No one locally is Devil's Run. And I'm like, I can totally do this. And so I set off down this hill and about, oh, about a third of the way I realize I'm in trouble. Not only are my fillings rattling out of my teeth, right, but I, I'm, I'm losing control. And then I hit the middle, this, this flat top and I'm like, oh, I can. And then I hit the second part of the hill and I'm flying down. [chattering noise] Just the chatter the entire way I get to this meadow. And I realize that there's a fence coming up. Cause that's the only thing between me and the highway. I slam on my brakes. If you've ever slammed on your brakes and a grassy meadow, you do not stop. You just slide. I crashed headlong into this chain link fence. The next thing I remember was my friends standing over me. "Hey, are you okay?" I don't know how long I was out. They, they walked down, um, Devil's Run after seeing my spectacular run. I wish, I wish that someone had said, hey, you know, you should probably take a different route to the bottom of this hill. But I got there really quickly and that's kind of like my IT career. I got to my it career really quickly. I'm only 40 (ahem!) something and I've been in it for 21 years and there are a lot of people that are a lot older than I am that, you know, they did the, they did the traditional route and didn't get into the right t career until they were 25 or 26.

Leon: 03:10 Sure. Right. And Yeah, the subtitle for that. And for some of us, perhaps the epitaph on our tombstone will be, "Mistakes were made. Lessons were learned", and that's...sure!

Josh: 03:25 There was a lesson to learn in that?

Leon: 03:26 Yeah, there probably was. There's a few, few functional lessons. So in the category of "Mistakes were made. Lessons were learned." And really it was the, the impetus for this entire episode, uh, my son is, uh, actually about to be on his way back from Israel. Um, I'd like to point out that he left last Wednesday, uh, for a year of yeshiva and he's coming home. Uh, it was, uh, a challenge from start to finish. He got there and things were not as he expected. Um, I will, I will say that he is a fairly resilient kid. He's done traveling. He's, you know, he's been to a high school yeshiva program that wasn't at home. Yes. There was some, um, some homesickness that was certainly involved. Yes. There were normal dorm shenanigans that occur in every dorm situation, you know, "Hey, I want that spot. You can't have that spot!", You know, that kind of stuff. But, uh, there was also a set of circumstances that were not related to that. They also were not of the caliber of civil unrest, mind you, but, um, just a lot of things that didn't match the set of expectations that he had going in. And by the time we got the better part of a week in, he was so miserable and so unable to, to change his frame of mind that nothing was going to work. And we also realized that everything that we wanted for him, everything that we, and by we, I mean my wife, myself and him, were going to get out of this experience at yeshiva wasn't going to occur. And even if it did occur, it wasn't worth or greater than the challenges he had faced already and the challenges that we're clearly still going to occur while he was there. So we made the decision this afternoon and, um, got a ticket and he's, he's gonna fly home tomorrow. So this is effectively the same as you know, catastrophic failure and a rollback in, you know, in production. That you have your change control window, you have everything plotted out and things simply nothing installs or deploys the way you expect it to. And you find yourself at 2:30 AM with three more hours on the change window to go saying, hmm, no, we got to pull the plug, roll it back and we'll try again some other time, but we have to sit back. So that's, that's the story. Um, so let's, you know, so let's talk about this in an IT context.

Josh: 06:11 You know, the, this is a tough one, right? Because in in the IT context, if we have to roll back our change, the change management folks are going to ding our change scores, they're going to say, "Hey you, you failed to deploy", and I will say that my current employer is changing that mindset. There is no longer a, a ding for rolling back a change because it means that you did your T-minus an you were executing and you recognized that this is not going to work the way that we wanted it to work, so we're going to roll it back because we want to protect the customer. Or in this case, you want to protect your, your child. You.

Leon: 06:54 Right.

Josh: 06:54 You're like, "Look, you being at yeshiva is just not going to work. We're going to bring it back, we're going to re-plan, and then we're going to redeploy and probably in another direction." I mean, we've talked about this before, right? Sometimes you have to walk the path that you were not supposed to walk only as far as you needed to so that you could realize it's not the path and then come back and walked confidently down the path that is the correct path for you. Much like me pursuing my, my law degree just was not going to happen.

Leon: 07:24 But you never sat there and said, "What if? What if?" No, you, you had enough of the what if to say no, no, no. I know. I know what that one was. Yeah.

Josh: 07:32 I also wanted to be a stockbroker. I made it, I made it to the first class of my, or the first lesson of my first two classes and I was like, no, I do not want to be a stockbroker. Did you know the stock brokers have to do math?

Leon: 07:46 Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're doing a lot of it.

Josh: 07:48 I didn't, I just thought they made money. It was weird. I had the things you don't know when you're 21.

Leon: 07:53 Yeah. Yeah. This is difference between counterfeiters and stockbrokers.

Josh: 07:56 Oh, weird.

Leon: 07:57 There's a joke there. I, I'm not good enough for financials to be able to finish that joke. So feel free to like leave a comment on the podcast about like how the, what the punch line for that would be. Um, so, so when we think about rollbacks to production, I think in it context it happens. But then we think about, all right, what can we do? Not just to make sure that this thing doesn't fail in the rollout, but how we can change our, uh, it culture, our it processes so that rollbacks occur less often. And you brought up a really good example, um, you know, as, as a true DevOps aficionado, you're going to invoke the holy name of Netflix.

Josh: 08:36 Of course, right? Netflix. Netflix is "The" company when it comes to, hey, let's break things. Uh, they introduced this idea of chaos monkey and it was actually built on a platform that allowed for this continuous, continuous deployment model and they would inject these problems. Uh, so the idea was that they wanted to see what would happen when there was a quote unquote random failure. Uh, so they, they developed this, this platform that was shut down an instance and did it impact us? And if it did, oh, that's interesting. Why did it, ah, let's go investigate. And so they would do the root cause and then resolve it. Um, chaos monkey has gone a step further now. Uh, one of the, one of the inventors of that methodology and of that platform has developed a platform called gremlins and gremlins are, are, I mean, they're exactly like those little evil creatures that were in the bad eighties movie that we watch over Christmas of the same name. Right? They're like, "Terminate an instance? Uh, no, no, no, no. We're going to rail the CPU in your box. Oh, we're going to fill a volume. Oh, we're going to steal your swap memory!" Um, that whole idea of let's, let's inject some failure into that deployment model just to see what happens. That's what I think is really important.

Leon: 09:57 Um, so, and just to clarify for folks who may not be familiar with the term or as familiar with IT, this isn't just breaking things for the sake of breaking things. This is breaking things to then see what the effect is and build a product that is more resilient to these random breakages. And not only that, but to build teams that think in a very particular way about what could go wrong. Um, just to extend the Gremlin concept even further. I heard that, I'm not sure if it was at Netflix or somewhere else that the chaos monkey visits the humans.

Josh: 10:32 Oh boy.

Leon: 10:33 Um, right. And does not inject chaos into them. But what it does is, uh, somebody will show up at somebody's desk right before a release to production and say, you are really, really sick right now. You have to go home for the rest of the day with pay, but you have to go and the person will say, "But, but, but I was part of the release team." Like I, we know, we'll let you know who, what happened tomorrow. Good luck. You know, this has been a visit from your friendly neighborhood chaos monkey. So you know, what happens when a particular person isn't available. And of course, again, the, the, you know, the next day they go back for a postmortem and say, well, because you know, Sarah wasn't there. Um, we didn't have somebody who do that. Oh, that's really interesting. Um, since I know that Sarah is very committed to being able to take vacations and actually be sick, sometimes we probably ought to figure out how we can have some redundancy in our human processes. Um, you know, so that that doesn't affect us when it matters.

Josh: 11:33 Um, I just want to point out that the last week, my team of three, I quickly became a team of one and it just, you know, PTO and a great opportunity to go out and meet with a vendor and suddenly Joshua is running solo. Um, right. We survived, although we like to inject chaos just for fun.

Leon: 11:53 I'm not saying chaos isn't entertaining when it occurs to other people. [Laughter] It's was it Mel Brooks who said the difference between comedy and tragedy, if you fall down a manhole cover, that's comedy. If I get a paper cut, that's tragedy. So yeah, the chaos monkey is great, but uh, it's, you know, when it happens to somebody else.

Josh: 12:15 So how would we apply this then, Leon to, to our families, right. Uh, I think I have some experiences that my family has gone through in the past decade, right? My daughter was diagnosed with scoliosis, uh, had back surgery. She's got, uh, 21 inches of titanium rod on each side, or sorry, 16 inches of titanium rod on each side of her spine. Uh, 21 or 22 titanium screws in her back. And, um, she did a, uh, Trek which, and Mormon, uh, in Mormon culture, I wouldn't say theology, Mormon culture. Um, they reenact a, a pioneer journey, so they have handcarts and they, they drive them. She did that. Uh, 3.5 months after back surgery. I mean, my son on a mission, um, you know, was diagnosed with Tourette's, which made conversation very hard. Now he's out doing missionary work and loves to talk to people. Um, and then on my own, my own family, right. I, I suffer from depression and I, my, my work toward getting promoted happened to coincide with a really difficult depressive episode. Um, so I mean, I, I, for me and my family, I think that those experiences have taught us this. And I do love baseball. So this, yes, as the baseball analogy, when life is throwing you curve balls, just swing away. I mean when people look at those things, we were like, "Oh, well, you know, Josh, you know, he, he has, he has depression", but when you swing away at those curves and you, you know, you pull one out of the park, uh, for me that, that, uh, allowing that chaos into our lives, uh, it allows, it allows the acknowledgement that, "Yeah, I don't have control over this thing, but I am still going to take an active, active role." But I mean, how do I take that and how do we instill that into my kids. Obviously I, I've done it, but I, I mean, I don't know how I did it.

Leon: 14:13 So I think you're, I think the analogy is good and I think the point is good that Netflix said, look, failures are going to occur. So, the only way we can get better at them is to keep experiencing failures and keep on growing from them. But we're not going to wait for the failures to happen to us. We're going to actively seek those failure modes. Now that doesn't mean uh, again, quoting Barbara Collaroso, uh so, uh, class if you don't cross the street. But if you don't look both ways before crossing the street, something bad could happen. "Jenny, go run and show them!" Like you don't do that. So, but as you, you can't watch, but I almost almost made him spit coffee out of his nose. Um, or whatever you're drinking probably wasn't coffee. Um, so I think that finding situations for our family to go through with which are less than perfect, which are, um, perhaps a little fraught or have the potential to be a little bit fraught, whether that is, you know, moving, I mean, just simply, you know, moving, moving to a new, a new home to new school, to new city, I think that causes a lot of families, a lot of, uh, concern. What are we going to do to the kids? We're going to teach them how to move. We're going to teach them that things change. Um, I think moving every month is probably a little excessive, but I think we can look for those as opportunities, not just as challenges. Um, if you know, somebody in the family speaks a different length, is able to speak another language. I think having that person insist on speaking it and allowing the rest of the family to adapt to that. Um, I've seen families where one parent speaks only one language. The other, so the family I'm thinking of, he's from Spain. She is from Switzerland. They speak all the languages, they speak together, so they each speak Spanish, French, German or schweizerdeutsch in English. They speak all of those. So Dad speaks to their daughter in Spanish only. Mom speaks to the child in schweizerdeutsch only. And they speak to each other in front of the child in French only.

Josh: 16:22 Oh my goodness!

Leon: 16:23 So that the kid understood that there were different modalities to speaking. When I'm talking to Daddy, I have to use these words. When I'm talking to Mommy, I have to speak up these words and if they're both here, I have to use these other words. But it taught the child to sort of mental resilience. Um, that I think is admirable and I've seen families do it that way. I've also seen families do it where dinner time is, you know, Spanish time. We're just at, at this meal, this is the only language we are going to speak. Good luck. You will not damage your children doing that. Uh, pulling from my own personal experience. Uh, the way that the Adato family takes vacations is relatively unique. Uh, I'll try to tell this briefly, but um, when we go on vacation, we don't tell our kids that we're going, we don't tell them where they're going. We don't tell them how long they will be gone. What I mean by that is that my wife and I plan the vacation like you do, but we don't tell our kids anything about it. It's done completely in secret. And then on the day that we leave, we usually, uh, wake them up around three o'clock in the morning. A lot of our vacations are driving vacations. So we wake them up around three o'clock in the morning and sing to them [singing] "We going on on an adventure. We're going on!" As the kids got older, they would swear at us more as we did that because we were waking them up and then they know what's coming. We'd load them into the car in their pajamas and we start driving. About 20 minutes in, we'd start giving them clues and we'd continue to give them clues, uh, for the next four or five hours. When they were young, this kept them occupied and out of the "Are we there yet?"-mode since they wouldn't know are we there yet? Cause they don't know where there is but the clues were not particularly helpful. For example, we were going to Boston and some of our clues was like the little magnet tiles. You know there was a one and a two... One if by land two if by sea? [groan] There was also, there was a Minute Maid orange juice container that was cut out in the shape of a guy for the Minute Men. And, uh, we also had a little stone and a matchbox car... For Plymouth Rock. Yeah.

Josh: 18:33

Leon: 18:33 Since I said we were going to Boston, all of that made sense. But since we didn't, they, they sometimes got really obscure. Like we went to Israel, we did take a trip to Israel and one of the clues there was a model airplane with holes drilled in it. Um, which did not mean as my son announced loudly to the plane that we're going to crash. [Laughter] Um, instead I was, I was trying to make a joke about the holy land, so... Right!?! Right. So these clues, these clues are not easy or, or helpful clues. They're really just obnoxious clues that keep the kids paying attention. So, but the point is, is that as we go on vacation, like a whole vacation experience is one of guessing and trying to figure it out and, and having fun with it and learning to enjoy the uncertainty of it. Um, because at the end of the day, I think that's the part that we as parents and also I think, uh, you know, we as young adults who were failing in different ways and, uh, our kids who are young adults and failing in particular ways, I think that's the challenge is "Wow do we face and, and address uncertainty?" How do we, you know, "I thought it was going to go like this and it's not, and now what am I going to do about it? Um, you know, I don't know what to do. This wasn't part of my, my game plan. So now what?" And sometimes the answer, the right answer is rollback come home, regroup. You know, sometimes that is the right answer. Sometimes the answer is, you know, sidestep. Okay, so lawyer isn't going to work, but you're not going to not work. You're not going to not do something. So, alright, how do I take a side step into another career? I think that that's what it comes, uh, comes down to, is facing that uncertainty and having strategies for when those uncertain moments crop up.

Josh: 20:32 Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of Technically Religious, visit our website,, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect with us on social media

Leon: 20:46 Test in Dev? Not me! I test in prod. What could possibly go wrong?

Josh: 20:51 Narrator: Apparently, a lot. Nobody was surprised.



S1E27: Release to Production

S1E27: Release to Production

September 10, 2019

The phrase “release to production” conjures a very specific set of thoughts and even emotions for folks who live, breath, and work with technology. Some of those thoughts and feelings are positive, while others are fraught with conflict. At the same time, those of us who are active in our religious community experience a different kind of “release to production” - releasing our children to the production environment of our faiths, whether that is teaching abroad, missionary work, or adult religious education that takes our young adult across the globe. And like our IT-based production release experiences, we watch our kids transition into chaotic systems, where parental observability is minimal even as the probability of encountering unknown-unknown error types grows. In this episode, Leon and Josh to look at what our IT discipline can teach us about how to make this phase of the parental production cycle easier. Listen or read the transcript below.

Leon: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is Technically Religious.

Josh: 00:21 The phrase release to production causes a very specific set of thoughts and even emotions for folks who live, breathe and work with technology. Some of those thoughts and feelings are positive while others are fraught with conflict. At the same time, those of us who are active in our religious community experience a different kind of release to production. Releasing our children to the production environment of our faiths, whether that is teaching abroad missionary work or adult religious education that takes our young adults across the globe and like our it based production release experiences. We watch our kids transition and to chaotic systems, where parental observability is minimal, even as the probability of encountering unknown, unknown error types grows. In this episode, we're going to look at what our IT discipline can teach us about how to make this phase of parental production cycle easier. I'm Josh Biggley and the other voice you're going to hear on this episode is Leon Adato.

Leon: 01:19 Hello everyone.

Josh: 01:20 Hey Leon. Um, so as we always start our podcasts, uh, let's do a little shameless self promotion if you don't mind.

Leon: 01:27 I, I never mind shameless anything and self-promotion either. So, uh, I'm Leon Adato as you said, I'm a Head Geek at SolarWinds. Uh, you can find me on the Twitters @LeonAdator. I also blog and pontificate on my website And my particular religious worldview is Orthodox Jewish.

Leon: 01:52 Fantastic. And for those who are new to our podcast, I'm Josh Biggley. I'm a Senior Engineer of Enterprise Monitoring. You can find me on the twitters, um, @jbiggley. You can find my faith transitions community at, where you will be redirected to our Facebook group. Um, I am currently a post Mormon transitioning into being an ex Mormon. That's where we start. So, uh, Leon, we've both had some, uh, some challenges, um, that I think have precipitated where we're at with this particular episode.

Leon: 02:28 Yes.

Josh: 02:28 Um, and as we were having the discussion, I was thinking I do love poetry. Uh, I mean, uh, it's a wonderful thing. I, I found a poem by Robert Burns is from 1786, uh, entitled "To a Mouse". And I, I'd love to, I'd love to have someone else read a portion of that because you know, the, to get the Robert Burns from 1786 just right, uh, is important. So let's listen to that now before we begin.

Poetry Reading: 03:00 [Thick Scottish Brogue accent].

Poetry Reading: 03:00 But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane, In proving foresight may be vain: The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!

New Speaker: 03:17 All right. So I love that particular, uh, part of the poem, you know, this, uh, Robert Burns wrote this poem, um, after plowing a field. And, uh, as he was going along, he noticed that he tore up the, the den, uh, of a mouse and, and that caused him to reflect on it and write this poem. And for us, we have these, these plans that we lay out, we, and we spend so much time invested in them and then the chaos of the world grabs a hold of them and tears apart.

Leon: 03:53 Right. And there's a few things I like about this that first of all, the poetry is, is heart stopping. It's just amazing. And, um, but I also like the fact that Robert Burns was plowing his field. He was doing a very normal sort of work-based activity and yet he was also bringing his other, I'll use the word higher, I don't mean it in any sort of, you know, uh, value statement way, but he was using a more thoughtful part of himself to it. You know, how many people are mowing lawn or you know, just walking through, you know, a cut through and they knock over it, you know, a nest of some kind or whatever and it's like, yeah, whatever, and you know, move on. But here, this really obviously caused him some real introspection. And I think that that is a wonderful analog to, uh, what we do as people with a religious, moral or ethical point of view as we go through our it lives is that we, we don't divorce one from the other. And that sometimes moments within our regular work day lives cause us this, this reflection. I think it's important to, to clarify that when we talk about releasing to production, you know, tongue in cheek, because we're talking about our kids. This isn't just, you know, kids going off to college or getting a job or growing up, although it is those things. But it's particular to folks who live a, who live in a faith-based lifestyle. Um, you know, there's some very specific things that I think our kids do that kids from a more secular background don't. For example, uh, you know, my kids went to either yeshiva or seminary after high school, you know, or going to go, or in the process of going. And you'll hear more about that later. Um, you know, that's, uh, one or two or three years of purely religious education, not indoctrination. It's, you know, real deep dive into the, um, philosophy, theology, you know, asking a lot of questions, challenging the thinking that they'd grown up with learning the rest of the story kind of stuff. And there's also, you know, depending on your faith, there's mission work, there's a student exchange programs, there's teaching abroad, there's, you know, gap year programs, all of which send our kids away. But not, again, not in the way that I think at least I think of a secular experience, what my secular experience was, which was you graduated from high school, you went to college, uh, or maybe a trade school or whatever it is, and you got a job and, and you had your life. But that's not really what we're talking about. We're talking about really releasing to a different kind of production system.

Josh: 06:38 You know, and it's interesting, I find that a lot of people are starting to embrace this. Maybe alternative -- is that the right word for it?

New Speaker: 06:47 It is. Yeah. It's another option that I think wasn't considered by our parents when we were growing up. If you happen to be of a certain age.

Josh: 06:56 Yeah. When my daughter graduated from high school last year, she was not the only person in her graduating class who was taking a gap year and who was doing something during that gap year. Going to work during gap here, you hear about that a lot, but taking that gap here and doing what my daughter did, which was go to Haiti, um, during the, you know, period of civil unrest that was going on, that was, that was interesting.

Leon: 07:28 My son...

Leon: 07:30 It might have been interesting for her, but I'm sure it was interesting in a whole different way for you and your wife.

Josh: 07:35 It was uh, uh, we should talk about that in the future. It was a, it was a very, yes. Interesting is a good word for it. You know, and my son is a, is my son is on a mission right now. He comes home in a couple of weeks, which we're super excited about, but I, a bunch of kids took, took a year off, you know, one went to France, one went to Brazil as part of the Rotary Exchange program. So I, I'm courageous. I'm, I'm excited for this future generation in my graduating class, which wasn't nearly as large as my daughters. I think I had 45 or 50 kids in my graduating class, but I was the only one who was going off to do something other than go to college or university or go to work. So I, it is, it is a very unique thing that we have because of our faith. There's a problem here though, and I, I, I do want to talk about this. So, you know, having grown up, um, having grown up Mormon, in fact, we just had some friends, uh, some friends, uh, uh, family members of friends, I guess is the right way to put it. Who stopped by unexpectedly and they said, "Oh, by the way, we know your son Noah, you know. We're from Utah. Here's how we know Noah. We met him while he was there." And so we got to talking about their family and they said to us, "Well, our son is, is and has just proposed to his, his girlfriend, they're going to get married." Well, when you're a Mormon, you know that at 18 you become eligible to go on a mission. And so we said, oh, he didn't serve a mission. Now this, this couple doesn't know that we're no longer practicing Mormons. And you could just, you could see that just that flicker of disappointment in their eyes because, uh, there's that. "Yeah, we're from Utah and we know that our kids are supposed to go." So Leon, let's talk about what happens when, when we spend our entire lives trying to launch our children with their support...

Leon: 09:36 right.

Josh: 09:37 ...into, into a specific path and the T-minus plan fails.

Leon: 09:43 Right. And, and I liked your phrasing. You know that it's a launch plan and T-Minus, and you know, remember that the, the astronauts in the capsule are not unwilling participants in this. They're, they're just as engaged in trajectory and speed and velocity. They may not be the final arbiter of some of those things, but they are absolutely involved in those plans in our kids. While they may not be the, the final arbiter of how they get where they're going or how quickly they get where they're going or whatever, they're active participants in helping plot the course. Um, so I like, I just liked the phrasing. I think that's really good. And Yeah, let's talk about when things don't go. So, I think that if things don't go as planned, uh, the first question, at least that I'm thinking is, "Did I, you know, was this a failure on my part to plan at all, you know, correctly, appropriately? What did I miss?" I, I think that that's, as a parent maybe sometimes your first go to what, what did I do wrong? You know?

Josh: 10:46 I think that makes you a good parent.

Leon: 10:49 Oh, really? Good. Really good. I know,

New Speaker: 10:57 No doubt.

Leon: 10:58 Um, yeah, but if that is the one criteria that the self doubt, then absolutely I have, I have piles and piles of good parenting. Yeah.

Josh: 11:09 Well, and I think that's important though when we look at our, when we look at our children and we try to ask ourselves, why didn't things go to plan? We immediately look at ourselves mostly because we can, we can change ourselves. We can't change our children. We can sit them down and we can lecture them for hours on end, but about 15 minutes and they're just going to stop listening. You know? I...

New Speaker: 11:35 If you get that much, that's where.

Josh: 11:36 I was. I was hoping for a good day. Uh, yeah. I, I love the phrase "Analysis Paralysis". It's something that I hear an awful lot at work, especially as we're using all the Buzz Word Bingo, key phrases, right? Agile and DevOps. And I've heard a new one the other day DevSecOps and I'm like, now we're just making upwards. It's great.

Leon: 11:59 If you're playing along at home. Right? And you haven't downloaded the beat. You can download the Bingo card from

Josh: 12:06 Um, but I, I think that we can get to that point where we look at sort of the look at our lives and the lives of our children. We expect them to do with some very rigid things.

Josh: 12:15 And when they don't, w things start to fall apart. We doubt ourselves. We doubt our children. To me, that feels a disingenuous to the art of raising children. Going back to, you know, to the Bible, right? Cain and Abel, uh, you know, Adam and eve have these two kids can enable, you know, great kids grew up while together. And then, you know, one day Cain kills Abel. Did, did Adam and Eve, you know, did they see that coming? Or they're like, "What do we do wrong?"

Leon: 12:42 Right.

Josh: 12:45 "Geez, maybe we shouldn't have left the garden!?!" Uh, you know,

Leon: 12:49 [Laughter] Maybe that, yeah, that was, that was an unplanned, that was, that was its own, you know, production, early release to production issue. Yep.

Leon: 12:57 Um, here's...

Josh: 12:58 That's what happens when, when Alpha goes to prod, although it worked out really well, so...

Leon: 13:03 Yeah, well, it can, but it also can not. Um, and there's even, there's even a question there, just if we're going to invoke Cain and Able that, that, um, Cain may not have understood. Look, Abel was the first person to die at all. He may not have understood that killing was a thing. Um, and in the original Hebrew, uh, the precursor to that moment is they were out in the fields and Cain said to Abel "And Cain rose up and slew Abel" There's, there's a missing, there's no texts there. Now as, uh, a person with two brothers. I can tell you with absolute certainty that I know I have a good, I could make some good guesses about what Cain said to Abel, that would cause Cain to lash out. You know, it caused that conflict to occur. Um, however, we don't have textual, uh, textual evidence of it. But the point is, is that, um, again, that probably wasn't, uh, Adam and Chava, to use the Hebrew names. Um, wasn't their plan for, uh, what their kids were gonna grow up to be or to do. Um,

Josh: 14:27 What, what about, what about the attributes of our children though?

Leon: 14:30 Yeah.

Josh: 14:30 I mean, oftentimes we look at our kids and we want to see the very best than them, but if our kids don't follow our plan, and I will admit, I am one of those kids that did not follow my parent's plan. In fact, uh, after I got home from Las Vegas, I explicitly things to, uh, I want to say to make my parents upset. But when my parents said, don't do, I, I went ahead and did it. So when they said, hey, you know, you shouldn't get married at 21, I was like, no, I'm getting married at 21. Hey, you shouldn't go. You know, you should not go to a school, um, to do that. Oh yeah, no, I'm going to go to school and I'm going to work full time. Uh, I mean, we're going to tell the story a little later, but it's just, does that mean that word? Well, what does that mean about our kids? What, what does that mean about me? I'm, I'm gonna lay it down on the couch now. And you can tell me.

Leon: 15:24 Right. So I think there's a, there's two aspects of that. First of all, um, I think as parents we also put way too much stock in this moment. This is the formative moment. If I don't get this right as a parent, it's all downhill from there. Leon, she's going into kindergarten. I know, but it's everything hinges on her getting into the right kindergarten and her learning her abcs, she was slow to walk. You know, we have to make up for that! I think she's gonna do play time just fine. You know, I, I think that sometimes we, we forget that, you know, as much as we have recovered from, you know, setbacks and failures, both big and small and our lives, our kids are going to also, and, uh, there's, you know, and the hard part is because we're sort of passive observers of it, there's a quote, um, Elizabeth Stone said it, uh, "Making the decision to have a child. It is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." And I think that sums up not just the experience of parenting for, for some folks, but also the, the level of pressure that I think that we, we feel we put upon ourselves that, you know, again, that kindergarten moment has to be perfect because it's my heart there that you're dealing with. But the fact is is that our kids are far more resilient than an internal organ. Um, usually, mostly mostly, at least I choose. So that's the first piece. I think the second piece is they are often more capable than we recognize because when we see them, we see the totality of our experience with, with them from their first moments until this moment. And we, we experience all of those at the same time. So it's hard to remember that the person standing before you now is a relatively capable near adult depending on how old they are, who is tougher than most of the times we give them credit for being simply because we're also seeing them in diapers as we are watching them drive away in the car. Um, so I think, I think those two things are always at work in the head of a, in the head of a parent as there again, quote unquote launching their child. Um, I think there's another though that that comes up, at least for me, when things don't go according to plan, which is, you know, I begin to wonder after I've doubted myself, I begin to doubt my kid. Does it mean that they weren't committed, that they gave up too easily? Um, you know, nobody wants a snowflake millennial for a child. Uh, even if our children millennial, we certainly don't want them to be un-resilient. Um, or worse, we worry that maybe they're not taking it seriously or even worse than that, that their being utterly dismissive and disrespectful to our effort. Not to mention our money. Like, yeah, whatever, you know, they're sending me halfway across the world, but I can always come back. It's no big deal. They got, they can cover it.

Josh: 18:33 Right, right, they've got the platinum card. Right.

Leon: 18:35 Right, right. It's just money. So you know, and you've spent months, you know, trying to get the, you know, doing the school paperwork and doing the, like you've done all that stuff and all of a sudden it doesn't, doesn't go as you expected it to. And you know, there's a lot of those feelings that sort of swirl around.

Josh: 18:55 Yeah. I, I do want to address something about kindergarten. So my daughter is starting university this week in kindergarten. So in Ontario there was junior kindergarten. She was three and a half when she started because her birthday is later in the year. She almost got kicked out of kindergarten because she would not talk and she refused to leave her little cubby where she hung her coat. She would sit in that and would not participate. And the school called us and said, hey, like maybe this isn't the right thing for her. Maybe, maybe she shouldn't be at school right now. This, this is the girl who hopped on a plane and flew to Haiti. This is the girl who when they said, we might have to send you home from Haiti because you know, there's civil unrest. There is literally writing in the streets. It was like, no, no, no, I'm not going. And now she's headed off to university and I would have never imagined it. So yes, my daughter was a snowflake in junior kindergarten. I get it.

Leon: 20:04 [laughing]

Josh: 20:06 ...because they don't stay that way.

New Speaker: 20:07 Yeah. And psychologists will call that a telescoping. When you look at your three year old who's eating paste and saying, oh, it's never gonna. And it's like, no, don't telescope. It's okay. The fact that they do it now doesn't mean that they're always doing it. Or as another great parenting educator, Barbara Coloroso said, um, "I've never yet seen a high school senior walk down the graduation aisle with the shoes on the wrong feet unless it was on purpose." You don't need to tell your kids to put the shoes on the right feet. They can figure that part out for themselves.

Josh: 20:40 I, I, so I have, I have another story. If you know when you have lots of children. I have four. When you have lots of children, you have lots stories. Yes. I have a son who suffers from the, how did we put it? "Anything is possible when you don't know what you're doing"-itis.

Leon: 20:59 Right. I've worked for managers who suffer from it also. So it's a fairly common uh, affliction.

Josh: 21:04 Yeah. It, it's, it's surprising and to, to be fair, part of the, the beauty of youth is that you have no sweet clue what you can't do because you've never tried to do it. But some times the things that you're trying to do are so wonderfully outlandish that you probably should not do them. my own life, I wanted to be a lawyer. In fact, I still would love to be a lawyer. That whole going to school for four years and then having to go to law school for two or three years and then having to article for another three or four years just does not appeal to me. I go figure, I kind of like making money, uh, and, and eating.

Leon: 21:50 I was going to say, it's not the money part, it's the eating steady part you become kind of addicted to.

Josh: 21:56 I have. I have, yeah. My, my waistline can attest to that. So all, all through high school I was planning on being a lawyer. So I got to my, my senior year and in Ontario at the time. You went to grade 13 which was a college, a university prep year. So as I'm entering my, my university prep here, my guidance counselor calls me in and says, Hey, you know Josh, I'm looking at your, your transcript, you've got all the IT courses that we offer and you know, what do you plan on doing? I said, well, I'm going to be a lawyer. So good, but if that doesn't work out, maybe I'll do IT. And he said, well, you know, you really need to take math. I said, no, no, no. I got all the math credits I need. I, as I look, I know I'm going to be a lawyer. I would not be on this podcast if I was a lawyer.

Leon: 22:53 True. True. As much as I, as much as I have, I enjoy our friendship. It wouldn't be that it wouldn't be Technically Religious anymore.

Josh: 23:00 That's right. Yeah. It would just be awkward at that point. So I mean, I did it the hard way. I, I didn't take math. I'm also, although I like math now, I did not like math in high school. I was a little hesitant to admit to liking math, but I do like math and I really struggled. I mean, I wanted to be in IT as my backup plan. I didn't realize it was going to become my primary plan, but I really hated math and I hated the math learning experience.

Leon: 23:35 Sure. So I just want to, I want to frame some of this, you know, talking about your son and, um, you know, his belief that he can do anything, even if he doesn't have sort of the basic background, I think is a good analog to you wanting to be in IT and not liking math. But I think that lots of folks who are in it come at it from different directions. We know that. And, uh, math can be a challenge. And I think that there's sort of three ways that you can look at addressing it. Like, how do we address problems in IT? So there's sort of the, the easy way, which is to learn everything about that problem. Right. I know that sounds like the hard way, but learning it upfront is actually the easy way. Whether you're going to a vendor course or you're taking a training class or whatever it is, learning it, you know, from start to finish in that order is the easy way. The hardware is actually learning as you go, you know, and trying to do at school of hard knocks and you know, crashing it and rebuilding it and crashing and rebuilding it and you know, not knowing what you don't know and finding out six months later that you actually spec'ed the systems incorrectly and you have to go back to your director and ask for more money because you did it wrong the first time or whatever. Like all that, that is the hard way to go. I think there's a, there's a smart way to go, which is using tools to compensate for our gaps and knowing that, having humility to know when to use those. So, uh, you know, for example, uh, I'm, I'm, I like networking and I am fairly good at networking, but like Cisco Nexus devices are a whole other class of networking that was not there when I initially got my CCNA and Routing and Switching and, uh, trying to manage your monitor those devices is really challenging. But there's, there are tools that can show me what's wrong with a Nexus installation so that I can get past those gaps in knowledge and skill and experience without the hard knocks and without having to take, you know, three months of classes just to get up to speed on it.

Josh: 25:47 Hmm. Interesting. Uh, I, I am also afraid of, uh, of the Nexus. It, it, to me, I see one of those large spaghetti, horrible monsters with a billion arms. And that's all I can think of when I think of an axis.

Leon: 26:01 Right. It's the not invisible flying spaghetti monster. Yep.

Josh: 26:04 Not Invisible at all. It's actually kind of horrifying. Uh, so if, if we were to then like, maybe modify this for people like me. Yep. Um, how would I handle this today? What would the advice be to Josh from 1995-ish?

Leon: 26:24 Yeah. Right.

Josh: 26:25 Oh Dang. I'm old. ...from 1995-ish.

Leon: 26:30 [Laughter].

Josh: 26:30 And explain how, how I can be successful in it. Um, even though I didn't like math.

Leon: 26:38 Okay. So I think that, um, again, easy way, hard way, smart way. The easy to go learn it. Now, part of the problem is that you didn't have the math credits in high school to get into a school immediately that had it, you know, like you couldn't have hacked the coursework. Um, but you know, in America we have, you know, community colleges, sort of those smaller local colleges that are easier to get into. And a great way to get a leg up on stuff is just to take a community college set of community college courses one or two years and get into it and get those skills up and then transition to a more, um, challenging school where you're gonna get the depth experience.

Josh: 27:21 Oh, nice. Yeah. So, and in Canada we call those a two and two. Right? So you do a two year of college and the Canada college is different than university and then there is a matriculation agreement where you can get into usually third year, um, provided that you successfully completed the coursework in the first two years.

Leon: 27:40 Right. So that's, that would be the easy way. The hard way would be not to go to college at all and not to get any training, but just to open your own IT business and uh, learn as you go, you know, break things as you go and probably fail that business and then you get into IT. Having had all that wonderful painful experience, that would be the hard way. Right?

Josh: 28:06 Yeah. I, I did it kind of that way. I mean, I didn't start a business, but I got married at 21 had an instant family, was, my wife was pregnant a month later I went to school, worked midnights, um, and then got a job working 60 hours a week while trying to get my MCSE. Is that hard?

Leon: 28:24 Okay. That's, there's hard and then there's heart failure.

Josh: 28:28 Okay.

Leon: 28:28 And that's, yeah.

Josh: 28:30 Okay. Heart, heart failure. It is then!

Leon: 28:31 One order of myocardial infarction please. Coming up! Yeah. So yeah, that's, that would have been the really hard way. Um, and some of us do that and I think that there's, again, the smart way that in between way, which is, um, as much as we say that IT requires math, it doesn't require all math. It requires a very specific set of math that if you take a little bit of time to understand the area of IT you want to get into, then you can focus on just learning the math you need for that area. Right.

Josh: 29:09 I'm a, I'm a big fan of that model. I wish that my 18 year old self could have a discussion with my 40 (ahem!) year old self and I could say, look, you can do this now. I get it when I was 18, things like Khan Academy or, uh, you know, Code Camp didn't exist. But wow, kids today, if, if you know the thing that you want, the thing that gets you really excited about math and it's not going and taking trigonometry then learn the math that gets you geeked. For me it's statistics. I really love stats.

Leon: 29:46 Right. And I think that that's another thing that, um, you know, the difference between non young adult, our non young adult kids is that, you know, what are they gonna have to do this Algebra?!? Because it's ninth grade curriculum and you're going to do it. I don't have another answer. This, this is stupid. I'm never gonna use it. Can't argue for or against that, but it's still in a curriculum and you're going to do it like that is the parenting conversation. But with our young adults, we can say, look, if you love this thing, if you love doing this thing, whether it's it or business or whatever, there's going to be math involved. But you just have to learn that. But if you love this thing, you're going to love the math that goes along with it. And if you don't love it, at least you're going to tolerate it. So being monitoring Geeks, both you and I, you know, math is also not my strong suit. It's not something that I naturally gravitate toward the way that some of the other voices we have on the show, like Doug, you know, Doug Johnson who really does love math, you know, that's, that's a different, that's a different thing that love of pure math. But I really enjoy the math that I get to do when I'm scripting, when I'm pulling statistics out of devices for monitoring, when I'm building new visualizations. That math really gets me going because I know what I'm doing with it because it has an application. Um, so that's, you know, that's what we can say to our adult or young adult kids is even if you think you don't like it from school, "Uhhh, it really bad!" The fact is that you will like it because it's part of the thing that you're telling me that you like,

Leon: 31:25 We know you can't listen to our podcast all day. So out of respect for your time, we've broken this particular conversation up, come back next week and we'll continue our conversation.

Doug Johnson: 31:34 Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of technically religious visit our website, technically where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect to us on social media.

Leon: 31:47 Test in dev?! Not me! I test in prod!! What can possibly go wrong?

Josh: 31:54 Narrator: Apparently, a lot. Nobody was surprised.

S1E26 Step By Step

S1E26 Step By Step

September 3, 2019

We often want to see results all at once, or at least quickly. But that's not usually how it works. In this episode Leon, Josh, and returning guest Al Rasheed explore how the philosophies of slow growth in other areas of our life - from religious to healthy living - inform our expectations with regard to gaining new skills in IT. Listen or read the transcript below.

Josh:      0:00        Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is technically religious.

Leon:     0:22        We often want to see results all at once or at least quickly, but that's not usually how IT works. How do the philosophies of slow growth in other areas of our life from religious to healthy living inform our expectations with regard to gaining new skills in it? I'm Leon Adato and the other voices you're going to hear on this episode are my partner in podcasting, Josh Biggley.

Josh:      0:42        Hello, hello.

Leon:     0:44        And returning guests. Al Rasheed,

Leon:     0:46        Hello, thanks again for having me.

Leon:     0:48        Welcome back again. Um, okay. Before we dive into this topic, uh, as always, we wanted to have everyone, uh, take a moment for shameless self promotion. So Josh, why don't you kick it off?

Josh:      0:59        Hey, so I'm Josh Biggley, I'm a senior engineer in the enterprise systems monitoring space. Uh, you can find me on Twitter at @jbiggley or if you want to follow the chaos of my, my faith journey, uh, you can go to where you'll be forwarded to our Facebook group.

Leon:     1:16        Fantastic. Al, tell us about yourself.

Al:           1:20        I'm Al Rasheed, I'm a systems administrator here in northern Virginia for a federal contractor. Uh, you can find me on Twitter, @Al_Rasheed and in my profile for Twitter you'll also, uh, you should find my blog URL.

Leon:     1:33        Fantastic. And as a reminder, uh, all those links and everything else we talk about in this episode are going to be in the show notes. So you don't need to scribble madly and just rounding things up. I'm Leon Adatoo, I'm one of the head geeks at solar winds. You can find me on Twitter @LeonAdator and also I blog and just pontificate about life in general, uh, at so you can find me there. All right, so, uh, we're going to divide this up basically into two sections, talking about growth and personal growth in the religious philosophical context first. And then in our IT life second, but in religious context, I think it's important for us to frame out what is there to grow in, in terms of religion or philosophy? I think, I think a lot of folks feel like, well, you know, you just, you show up, you sit down, you listen for a little while, and then ya go, you know, have some fried chicken or whatever. Like what, what is there to do better in religion? What are your, what are your thoughts on that?

Josh:      2:31        You know, Leon, I honestly, I think that, um, the whole premise of religion is about being better. Um, again for the listeners, right? We know that, uh, I was Mormon and Joseph Smith, who was the founder of Mormonism, uh, famously said, and I'm probably going to do a terrible job at paraphrasing him, but, um, no religion, um, that is, you know, worth its weight. Um, that doesn't require a man to sacrifice and become better, uh, should be practiced. So the idea being that if you're going to do religion and you're just going to stay static, why do it that at all?

Al:           3:08        Right. And I, I think there's some people who do show up, you know, look, I belong because my parents belong to this church or synagogue because my grandparents belonged here. I'm just, you know, I, that's, that's why I'm here. You know, I just show up because that's what we've always done. But to your point, I think it's, it's not, I'm afraid to say it's not the right reason, but I think it's not a very productive reason to be there. Um, I think also, depending on your religious, philosophical point of view, and this is definitely philosophical, I think that people who say, I'm not religious, I'm spiritual. There's still an element of this. There's some mechanics involved. Uh, I know for myself, and I talked about it in a previous episode, uh, I still struggle learning Hebrew, just making the sounds. Uh, it wasn't a language that I was comfortable with growing up. Uh, I was comfort with a couple of other religions, a couple of other languages, but not, um, Hebrew. And so I really just, the decoding of the non-English characters has really been a stumbling block for me. So, and I know that, you know, other religions have Latin Al uh, we were talking about it earlier, that, uh, in Islam, you know, Arabic, that's, you know, I don't know whether if you don't speak Arabic, I don't even know how, how do you manage? Like, can you, can you do the prayers in English? Is that all right?

Al:           4:26        Yes, you can. And there are, there are some countries that are, you know, Indonesia for example, their primary language isn't Arabic. Uh, but they've got a, a heavy base of Muslims and you know, there, there are means to every way.

Al:           4:40        Okay, okay. I wasn't sure if it was, you know, Arabic or, you know, go home and practice until you can come back, you know, whatever. So at least it gets good to know. But it's still, I think there's also, you know, if you want to study Torah or Quran or whatever, ultimately, or, uh, The hunchback of Notre Dame or the Upanishads or whatever, like studying it in the original language is, is the goal because things are always lost in translation. So you still have that linguistic skill element to it. Um, regardless, um, there's other, there's other things though that I think we, we try to improve on just in terms of showing up and being religious. Any other ones that you, you guys want to shout out on?

Josh:      5:27        And so, uh, one of the things that that Mormons do, um, we go to are the temples. Um, and so in the temple, um, just like every other temple, uh, attending faith, there are rights and rituals that are performed and uh, you know, they're, they, they have a very specific methodology for them. Um, I mean, when I attended regularly, um, when I was living in Las Vegas, I would go every single week and it was goal to learn, uh, verbatim, the, you know, the required, um, statements that you make, um, as part of that ritual. And it's interesting, you know, you think, well, why would you do that? Because if you make a mistake, there's somebody there to help you. I mean, if they're not going to say, "Oh, geez, Josh, way to go, you screwed up, get out."

Leon:     6:18        You've ruined Mormonism for us!

Josh:      6:21        Right, that will come later,

Leon:     6:23        ...later in this story.

Josh:      6:26        Um, but it's, it was one of those things that it made me feel, um, it made me feel as though I had to accomplish something as though I had, um, I had been devout enough to, to memorize this thing that, you know, you hear it once as part of this worship service that lasts about two hours. Uh, our, sorry, I guess we heard two or three times, but it, you know, it's a fairly long phrase that you have to say and it's not like you can go home and practice it because in Mormonism that thing is not, it's not written down anywhere. Um, that you can read outside. The only place you can study it or hear it is, is in the temple. Um, so to get to a point where, and even now, you know, 20 odd years later, I still can remember it. Um, it, it just, it was one of those things that helps you focus or at least was intended to help you focus on the divine. Um, so, you know, what can you do better at in religion? You can find the things that help you focus on the divine, whether it's, you know, the recitation of a specific prayer or, um, some sort of right or ritual. Um, or even just for some people just showing up at church. I mean, that's a good thing if you want to be religious.

Leon:     7:39        Right, and, and in, again, in talking about the things that people take step by step, that, that's a good point is I hear a lot of people from various faith, uh, again, philosophical areas saying, "I just need to learn how to focus better", whether it's meditative, um, or focusing on the prayers, what's happening, not getting distracted and having a side conversation. Um, you know, being able to keep your, your focus focal point of attention longer. That is definitely something that a) people work on, b) people get very frustrated about because they can't do as well as they want to. Um, and c), to your point also deepens their experience, uh, you know, in what they're doing. So that's, that's a nice one. Um, I, I also think that there's just learning, and this is slightly to your point, Josh, what happens when?, You know, is this the standup part or the sit down part or the walk around the room part or the, you know, just knowing this is where we are, because not knowing, again, not knowing, doesn't ruin Shabbat right now.

Josh:      8:47        For a minute there, I thought we were doing the Hokey pokey,

Leon:     8:49        Right. Although sometimes it feels like it. Like at no time do you know, did anyone ever turn to me and say, okay, Leon, you, you just broke Shabbat. We'll try again next week. That doesn't, that doesn't happen. But knowing what's going on and feeling, uh, feeling fluent in it and competent in it allows you not to have to worry about it. It allows you to focus on some of those deeper issues

Al:           9:13        Or a sense of being a part of something, a meeting and accomplishment. Um, but there is a certain sometimes level of intimidation if you don't feel like you're meeting those expectations, especially when it does come through religion.

Leon:     9:27        Right. And, and I, I wanna say that in most cases, our co-religionists are not putting pressure on us. They're not judging. They're not holding these in insanely high expectations. Sometimes they are, sometimes, you know, they're that person. Uh, and that's its own set of challenges. But most of the time I think it's really what we think, they think that...that gets us. So, yeah, it's a good point though.

Josh:      9:57        So I have this really bad habit of, uh, thinking about things that I did in my life and I remember them with crystal clarity and they don't matter to anybody else. For example, I remember the time that a group of, uh, of, uh, classmates and I were walking into the front of my high school and there was a flat cigarette package kind of laying on the ground and I went to go kick it with full force, you know, thinking I was just going to scoot it along the ground and I completely missed and the force carried me up into the air and I slapped down right on my back.

Leon:     10:35     Charlie Brown!

Josh:      10:35     It was classic!

Leon:     10:38     Classic Charlie. Arrgh!

Josh:      10:40     And I remembered that with crystal clarity. I don't think anyone else who was around, I mean, they all laughed at me, but nobody else remembers that. And that's, that's like religious observance. If you screw it up, nobody's going to remember and good, good chance that, uh, you know God or however you name your, your Diety, they're not going to remember either.

Leon:     11:05     Well, okay, so I'm just going to walk that one back a little bit. God will remember everything, but God will not judge one context.

Josh:      11:13     Right. You know, God does say I remember your sins no more. So I don't know.

Leon:     11:19     There's, okay, there's a difference between holding you accountable and remembering them. Uh, but I think that, you know, in the same way that we as parents look at our children when they do something really silly and we remember it, but we don't, we don't look at it. They're like, "Oh yeah, you're the idiot who did that thing." You know, it, it just becomes part of the, their overall character.

Josh:      11:41     I think we remember them and we hold onto them for when they get married. And then at the celebration afterwards, we tell the stories. That's why we remember them.

Leon:     11:52     And we have pictures.

Josh:      11:53     Yeah. I don't know. Does that make me a bad parent?

Leon:     11:55     No, no, because Al shaking his head "No!"

Al:           11:59     No, that's what life is all about. So you can look back and reflect and laughing and joy collectively.

Leon:     12:06     Right, right. Exactly. Okay. So, uh, what else in a philosophical context, what, what else about it is, is, is growth related or again, this slow growth step-by-step?

Josh:      12:17     I mean, what, what do we want out of life? When I was a, a Mormon missionary, um, I remember as I was preparing to go, my father saying that there were three golden questions, right? It was a, where do we come from? Why are we here and where are we going? Uh, and that like that, "Why are we here?" that, man, that's a heavy question. Like, really what do we want from life?

Al:           12:42     But, but that question and that thought is ever evolving. Um, it's, it's, it's, you know, there's times where, and some of the points that I'll focus on, I want peace. I want a, you know, clear conscience. I avoid negativity. I don't want to be remembered as, um, someone that got in a way or someone that wasn't helpful. I want when I'm done for the day, for example, in the office, I know when I leave, I've done to the best of my ability and the time. That was a lot of to me. Um, additionally, um, if you've got a sound mind, you have a sound body and those two go hand in hand. Uh, especially in IT, we all realize IT is, we're very blessed. It's a, it's a great, uh, way of making a living, but it can be challenging on both sides, uh, mentally and physically and, and additionally, um, you always want to be happy, but you want to be happy, not only in the office, but you want to bring that happiness home because if the home isn't happy, then you've missed the whole point. And um, you bring that negativity. There's a potentially bring that negativity, negativity home, or if you take it to the office and the whole mood just goes tumbling down. And lastly, you want to, everyone wants to be successful, but it has to be done in the correct way. You have to be a thorough through your hard work, but be honest, doing so. Um, but also in always focused on trying to bring people up as opposed to bringing them down.

Leon:     14:09     Right? And those are all really good framing ways of framing what we're doing and what we're growing toward. But I also think those are good examples of, of areas of our life that when we, when we fall short or haven't yet achieved a particular level that we have in our mind, that creates an enormous amount of frustration for us. You know, just taking health as an example. You know, when, uh, you know, if, if we are exercise, uh, prone, if we, if we like to exercise and uh, we've pulled a muscle or whatever and we need to give something arrest. I, I, I grew up in a household where lots of people in my family played lots of different sports and there were injuries and I just know there was an enormous amount of frustration waiting for those injuries to heal. And not wanting to wait and wanting to get right back to it. And I'm losing so much ground and you know, or as we get older, perhaps, you know, I can't do what I used to do. And all those things weigh on you. And again, to the, to the point of this, uh, this episode, this podcast, is that we have to find ways of pacing ourselves, finding the right pace for the right moment. Because otherwise, you know, like, you know, health, it's not what I want it to be. Okay, fair. But at the same time, it is what it is, what it is. That doesn't mean you settle for it, but today your health today is your health today and you have to come to terms with that so that you can get to your health tomorrow, which hopefully will be better, which hopefully will grow. Um, but denying or, or railing at it, I don't think is gonna help you get anywhere.

Josh:      16:02     Yeah. Yeah. I would really want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I mean a old Arnold, new Arnold, whatever, like.

Leon:     16:08     I was going to ask, 'Which one?", like seventies Arnold.

Josh:      16:10     Yes.

Al:           16:10     Or the latest terminator movie, Arnold?

Josh:      16:13     Yes, I mean all of them are improvements on the current, uh, Josh Dad Bod. But it's just not worth pursuing for me. I do not want that level, but I am in awe of people who are willing to put the time and effort in. And, uh, you know, the previous episode we talked about how Crossfit is a cult. And I still do believe that however, I am completely amazed at people who do Crossfit the, the feats of strength and endurance, that those, those dedicated individuals pull off their mind boggling. I, I'm absolutely, I, I honestly, it's overwhelming for me to watch them perform.

Leon:     16:57     Okay. So, so I just want to clarify though, just because we understand realistically that, that we, you and I, at least I'm leaving out loud at this one. You and I at least will never get to the Arnold Schwartzenegger, uh, you know, pinnacle of health, the, the 80 year old Arnold, um, pinnacle of health. Does that mean we don't start, does that mean like, oh well I can't, I will never be natively fluent in Spanish, so why bother?

Josh:      17:23     Yes.

Leon:     17:25     Really?

Josh:      17:25     No, I mean someone had to say yes. There's always gotta be the opposite.

Leon:     17:29     Oh, ABC -- Always Be Contrarian.

Josh:      17:32     Yes.

Leon:     17:33     Okay.

Al:           17:33     If I could share one example, it's not about me, but, um, you know, I've put on some weight in the past few years. A lot of it is attributed to my lifestyle. Um, I will blame, I, it's my responsibility. I accept ownership for it. But about five, six ago, I was actively jogging. I didn't care how fast I was doing it. I was doing it for the sake of getting out there. Uh, and it was, it was, there were two factors that were involved, obviously physically, but mentally it cleared my mind every time I went out.

Josh:      18:05     Yeah. Sorry, I'm reading a great book. Uh, and I mean, shout out to my coworker and friend Zach Mutchler for recommending this book, but, uh, and I'm going to talk about it a little later in the podcast as well, but then this book entitled Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. He talks about that the runner's high, that, that thing that you get when you run in. I honestly, I have never, no, I shouldn't say never. When I was younger, I was a cross country runner. Um, and that runner's high is real and it is very much a, it is a chemical reaction. Uh, and it puts your body in your mind, um, in, in, in harmony with one another. And as I'm talking, I'm thinking, "Josh, you are such a hypocrite because you don't run and you don't want to run." But, uh, there are, there are other things that I think can establish that same, a harmonious balance and maybe without, you know, the impact to my knees and my back and my feet and all those things.

Leon:     19:11     And that goes, and that goes back to what I was saying about, you know, health or whatever, you know, "Ugh, I can't run anymore because my back" my like, okay, but look, what can you do? How can you get that? Um, and just, you know, for the record, I'd never had a runner's high. I'm also, I just, I don't know why I put him in the same category. I've never had meat sweats. So those are two goals that I think that I still want to try to figure out. If I could find my way to, um,

Josh:      19:33     The latter is not going to happen with the former. I made the..

Josh:      19:36     No, no, no, no, no. They, they cancel each other out. Correct. And also meat sweats is a very expensive proposition. We've talked talking about kosher meat. Okay. So, um, it doesn't mean just because we may not be able to attain the a particular goal, whether that's a runner's high or whatever, or, you know, I can't run because of my knees. It doesn't mean you don't start or start something. It just means that you're realistic with yourself. You're gentle with yourself about it.

Al:           19:59     Right. And if I could add to it, sometimes the juice is not necessarily worth the squeeze. So you've gotta have a considered approach. You have to consider everything that's involved and be thorough and analytical while considering these choices. And you know, as we, as we get older, um, patience is critical. So we have to practice it because, you know, I forget with the, it was Joshua or Leon that just mentioned this is a potential for, you know, a higher risk for injury. As we get older. We're, we're not that spring chicken. Like, you know, like we'd like to hope we are and um, you know, you just have to be smart and wise with your decision making.

Josh:      20:36     I think as my previous story demonstrated, uh, even when I was younger, I was at a higher risk for injury. Um, so people like me probably just should not do sports. I mean I tried out for the football team and got hurt in the first practice. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thanks Leon.

Leon:     20:54     Not a problem. I can just look, I mean, you know, we're only so tall and we were only so, like, there's just, there's a reality there. Right?

Josh:      21:02     It's true. It's true. It's so, you know, as I think about how would I go from a, you know, my glorious Dad Bod to Arnold Schwarzenegger, I think that the article that really got us kickstarted, um, talks specifically about how to do that. And it's this idea of these micro shifts. Um, and that if I'm going to, if I'm going to decide that I want to achieve a goal, like, uh, speaking Spanish, am I going to become fluent in Spanish tomorrow? Uh, unless I can pull a matrix and get jacked in and it downloaded. It's not going to happen. Although if that exists out there, um, my, my contact details are in the show notes. I want it.

Al:           21:47     [Laughter]

Josh:      21:47     Um, it's the micro,

Leon:     21:48     I know Kung Fu.

Josh:      21:49     I know. I mean, I don't actually put that past you, Leon. You also know how to do sword fighting, so...

Leon:     21:57     Well that's true.

Josh:      21:59     But I think it's still those micro shifts, right? Do what do we change today so that tomorrow we're better? And whether we're talking about an intellectual pursuit or a religious pursuit like that, that's where we go. I can't be the same today and tomorrow as I was yesterday because then I haven't improved. But if I improve in those, those very, uh, nominal ways, the collection of those, I mean, I think this is called life. The collection of those experiences gets me to my destination.

Leon:     22:28     And that's, I think that's a key is, is both recognizing and appreciating the value that those small micro shifts, um, can make. Uh, just reminds me when we were, uh, we were in Jerusalem and my family and I, and my son was, uh, about eight or nine when we went. And one of the the one of the features about Jerusalem when you're going down to the Kotel to the wall is there are a lot of people asking for charity. They just, you know, sort of sit in chairs on the steps down and stuff like that. And, and, um, my son had a pocket full of, and he was very excited. He had a pocket full of Israeli coins, some shackles, and he was really happy to use them and whatever. And this woman asked for, uh, you know, this woman had her handout. And so he was really excited to be able to give charity like that. So he handed her and she looked at him and I, I apologize because it does not cast her in a very good light. She looked at me, she says "This, this is nothing." And we were all taken aback by like, it'd be one thing if a grown adult handed her a penny, you know, like what do you think you're doing? But this was a little boy who, you know, probably didn't understand what the value of the coinage, you know, together ...And, but I, my son was so brilliant, he, he looked at her and says, "But they add up!" And we just, we walked on. But that's always stuck with me is, you know, how many times are we the person with her handout saying "This is nothing." And how often do we need to be told, like my son said, "But it adds up."

Al:           24:08:00               But his intentions were well.

Leon:     24:10:00               Right, right. No, no, his intentions were pure. And I think that that's the other thing, when I want to learn Spanish, when I want to go for a run and I make it, you know, three houses down and then I can't keep going or whatever. It's not, oh that was nothing. You shouldn't, why bother even getting up, putting your shoes up. No, it adds up. Okay, so you made it three houses tomorrow. Make four houses a week from now, make four houses, who cares? You went for a walk. You know, I think that we have to be gentle with ourselves in that way. Um, you know, we, we talk about our religious philosophy and I think we're all aware that all our religions teach, uh, teach kindness, you know, be kind to others. But we forget that that also includes ourselves. That we need to be kind to ourselves and we would, we, who would never be that brazenly mean to another person about their progress. If someone said, hey, can you tutor me in this thing? We would never get in their face about how poorly they're doing or how slowly you have long it's taking or how slow they're going. We would never do that. But at the same time, our own internal mental self-talk can be really, at least for myself, I'll speak for myself. My, my internal self-talk is brutal sometimes. It's really, really painful.

Josh:      25:24:00               One of the most devastating experiences I've had in my life and in my entire life was coming to that moment. And we, we talked about it on the last podcast where I knew that I could no longer be Mormon. It wasn't that I thought, "Oh, well this Mormon thing is hard. It was holy crap, I can't do it." Followed shortly thereafter by "Why didn't I know this sooner?" And, uh, my, uh, Maya Angelou, who is a preeminent, uh, African American poet, said something that it touches my soul every time I read it. And she has been misquoted by so many people, so this is the actual quote "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." And to me, that really is the key, right? That is the thing that unlocks the ability to continue to grow in life. Uh, without it. If we were to hold ourselves accountable, um, for the things that we didn't do or that we did when we didn't know that we should or should not do them, we would be, we would be gripped by that guilt of a failure. Um, or that, that guilt of acting. Um, I mean, yeah, if you didn't know you, you couldn't be held accountable. And that, that's the key for me. Uh, and I, that goes to everything, right? It's not just my religious pursuits, but I mean, I make mistakes at work all the time. Uh, and that's usually just, you know, I in the first hour of my day and the, the key is, did not, "Did Josh make a mistake?" It's, "Did Josh make the exact same mistake that he made yesterday and that we taught him how to not make again, did he do it over and over again?" And that to me is, that's how we measure progress, right? I mean, we're not ever going to find the perfect person, the perfect IT pro, they do not exist. There are no rockstar candidates out there.

Leon:     27:37:00               Um, so I wanna I wanna point out that in a previous episode Yechiel Kalmenson, uh, mentioned that programming is basically the state of going from, going from a state of brokenness, complete brokenness to a state of functionality. Not the other way around. That when you start out with a clear screen, basically what you're saying is the entire program doesn't work. And as you begin to add lines of code, you're adding things that do work. So, you know, I, I think sometimes we think it's, it's working and then I broke it. You know, Josh, to your point, I made mistakes. No, no, no. You showed up in the day, you know, beginning of the day and everything needed your help. And so you just started working your way through those things. It's again, a way of us being gentle with ourselves. So one more thing I want to just throw out there before we transition to the IT version of this conversation is that a, so my oldest son is on his way to YUeshiva. He graduated high school and he's on his way. And part of his post high school curriculum includes, uh, an entire section of what's called Mussar and Mussar is self-improvement. Um, so just imagine going to college and having an entire section of your class of your curriculum dedicated to being better, being a better you. And some of the hallmarks of this, uh, program of this movement is that first of all, you're gonna work with a coach. You're going to work with a Rabbi and you're going to talk about who you are and where you are now and who you want to be. And the, the key pieces that the, the Rabbi that you're working with is typically gonna tell you to do something insanely small. Like really, we would almost look at it as being in consequential, you know, put your right shoe on before you put your left shoe on. Like what? No, just do it. Just, that's the improvement. That's what you're gonna work on. Like are you, I just told you that I have trouble like with gossiping. Yeah, I know. I know. Put your rights, you on your left, you want. And some of it is just terraforming your brain to accept doing things differently. But some of it is back to the point that was made earlier. You know, making small changes in some cases are the only kinds of changes you can make. But making sequential small changes, again, it all adds up. So I find that wonderfully inspiring that there's an entire movement that looks at things this way.

Josh:      30:14:00               I like that thought process. I like, um, I think in the times with other respect that we live in now, I think a lot of more people should focus on that aspect.

Josh:      30:22:00               Yeah. And once we picked that idea of doing, um, that opens up new pathways, I everyone remembers that scene from, uh, Indiana Jones, um, where he, he's going for the, the Holy Grail. Right. And he comes to that, that chasm between, you know, the two doorways and he can't see the path. Right. And then he's got to take that step out. I mean, okay. It's kinda kitschy. I get it. Um, but that really is our life. Sometimes we have to step, no, let me rephrase that. Every time we have to step out so that we can gain the perspective of the road that we've walked on. And sometimes, I mean, especially if it's Monday morning and you're, you're, you're me, you're going to come to a point, uh, and you're going to step out and you're going to realize that's not the road that you are should be walking and you get back up and you go back to bed. No, I mean that doesn't happen too often, but you, you have to realize sometimes you have to step down the wrong road to know that that's the wrong road and it does mean having to backtrack a little and then you walk a different path and that's also okay. You are not going to make the right choice. But if your every day making those small incremental changes, then you don't have to unwind, um, a lifetime of change to go down the path that is actually the right path for you.

Al:           31:50:00               Baby steps.

Josh:      31:50:00               Baby steps.

Leon:     31:52:00               Are the only steps. Honestly, that's not the only ones you can take. Okay. Let's, let's take all of this into the IT context. Um, you know, again, the idea of step-by-step and incremental growth and learning what, you know, what experiences do we have in it that reflect this outlook? What experiences do we have that either standing contradiction to it or work against it or support this idea?

Josh:      32:17:00               I just have to point out that every time you say step-by-step, uh, Martika's Toy Soldiers runs through my head every single time. I just, I, I can't undo it.

Al:           32:28:00               That's your, that's your ear worm for this podcast.

Josh:      32:31:00               I was thinking Backstreet Boys or what was the other boy group that had that Song Step-by-step,

Josh:      32:36:00               uh, Boyz2Men, no, not Boyz2Men,...

Al:           32:37:00               N'Sync!

Leon:     32:40:00               There we go. All right, so we are now fully dated in our eighties. Worry. Very good gentlemen. Very good. Okay. Okay.

Josh:      32:48:00               Can we, can we revisit that idea? The idea that there is no Rockstar job candidate and what can we s let's stop assuming that you can take, you can fire somebody and then go find the perfect and, and I'm air quoting my brains out right now for all of our listeners, that you can find that perfect candidate. There is no rock star. The rock star is the person that is sitting there who has contacts in your company, who knows you, who knows your goals, who knows your ideas, ideals, train them, give them the support, and they will be calmed that rock star. But nobody, nobody walks in off the street and goes, yeah, I can totally kill this.

Leon:     33:34:00               So I just want to point out that just an episode or two ago, a Doug Johnson, another voice on the podcast who used to be a DJ. He was actually the number one rated, uh, news time DJ in Cleveland for a while, for a few years there. Um, he said, I, "I've met rock stars. You don't want to be them." Like they're not, they're not people that you should aspire to. Certainly not people that you want to hire. They're not reliable in that way. They're, you know, they, they play by completely different rules. They're fun to watch, but they're not somebody I would want on my team necessarily when we're talking, when we're thinking about rockstar personalities, that's not exactly what we're talking about. So, yeah, I want that whole phrase, that whole term just to go away.

Al:           34:23:00               Yeah, I know. And it button, it's taught in other professions as well. Inevitably we're always surrounded by that hero, that person that wants to put themselves out in front of everybody else. But sooner or later that hero comes tumbling down in their true colors and their intentions come crashing down on them.

Leon:     34:41:00               Right.

Josh:      34:42:00               Um, it's, it can be a challenge professionally, especially if you're in a team centric environment because you find yourself, and I can only speak for myself, but again, we've probably all been in this situation. It's hard because you want to bite your tongue, but on the other hand you want to say something and point out this person. Yeah. And so it's, it's a balance and you have to take those considerations and in fact, what's most important for you but also your team members moving forward.

Josh:      35:10:00               I mean, once again, Martika comes to the rescue, right? Step by step, heart to heart, left, right, left. We all fall down like toy soldiers.

Al:           35:18:00               This guy's on fire.

Leon:     35:19:00               Oh my gosh, that's amazing. Um, very good. Yeah, I think that, uh, um, uh, again, the, the concept of rock star is, is not a healthy one. It's not healthy to try to conceive of yourself as one of those kinds of personalities. And um, certainly often not healthy to be around. And I want to differentiate between a quote/unquote a rock star and somebody who, uh, the term I used as a force multiplier, you know, somebody who is so effective in what they do, that they make the people around them better as well. They lift everyone up. Um, not through necessarily technical prowess. It can be through enthusiasm, it can be through a positive outlook. It can be through just being really, really good at documentation or being really organized about things. I mean that that can be its own force multiplier, but a Rockstar is, that's not, that's not what's meant when employers say, I'm looking for a rockstar candidate. And that's not the same thing as a force multiplier. Somebody who actually makes you better "for being in the team with them.

Al:           36:29:00               Right.

Josh:      36:31:00               Um, okay. So other things about it and this idea of slow, steady growth. What else? What else? What other thoughts do you have?

Al:           36:38:00               I mean, for me personally, I think you need to think things through. Take your time, put in the effort and collaborate and communicate with one another. As the old saying goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day", but on the other side, sometimes you don't know what you got until it's gone. So, um, never take things for granted. Um, be kind, uh, be willing to assist one another and don't do it just to say that you did it, but do it with good intentions in mind.

Leon:     37:06:00               Right. And, and to your point about, you know, the hero personality eventually comes out, so does yours. Yup. So even though you're biting your tongue, even though you're holding back, even though you want to say something and whatever, you don't need to because your intentions will come out, will be, you know, will be seen by the people who need to see it. And I realized that that is, uh, a faith statement. And I realized that it is not 100% true in every workplace environment. There are toxic environments. I'm not, you know, I'm not naively suggesting there aren't a, but I will say that in, in a healthy work environment, you don't have to work that hard for people to notice what you're doing. And if you're not in a healthy work environment, okay, now we know what needs to get worked on.

Al:           37:51:00               Right. But you can be efficient at what you do and do it at a high level without going over the top and bringing attention to yourself.

Al:           37:59:00               Correct. Correct.

Josh:      38:00:00               I just want to point out that the 80s comes to the rescue again. I'm like, Cinderella's "Don't know what you got till it's gone". "You don't know what you got until it's gone. Don't know why what it is. I did so wrong. Now I know what I got. It's just this song and it ain't easy to get back. Takes so long."

Al:           38:21:00               And that's actually where I got it from that line because when you guys started with the rolling stone, it's on, uh, the, the, that's, I immediately thought of that Cinderella Song for whatever reason.

Leon:     38:33:00               There we go. Okay. This, this episode is, it's got people gotta have ear worms coming out of their ears. That's great.

Josh:      38:39:00               It was brought to you by the 80s,

Josh:      38:41:00               Right? Right, the 80s and, and, and Top 40... Top 40 radio. So, uh, I think there are some things that in it we have to assimilate quickly. We have to, you know, get this knowledge or get this skill down really fast. But I don't think that is certainly not always and not necessarily even often the time. I think that the lifelong learning that is implied by a career in IT. And I do truly believe that. I think that if you want a career in it, you are committing to being a lifelong learner. And I think that means in many cases, taking a long view of how you're going to learn something. And you know, one thing that comes to mind immediately is programming. Um, you may learn a couple of programming verbs. You may learn a couple of, you know, you may be able to go on and stack, Stack Exchange and get some snippets of code that you can slam in there. But in terms of really learning how to program that is going to be, you know, it's going to take you a while. Um, and Josh, I think, I think you can attest to that.

Josh:      39:43:00               Oh yeah. Every single day mean Google is the way that I survive what I have to script it, the, that and uh, and Zack, that's how I survive.

Leon:     39:55:00               Okay. But, but at the same time, I've listened to you over the course of months talking about your, your coding, scripting skills and they are improving. You know, you're not, you know, you might not be a Zack or you know, Doug or whatever, you know, that level. But those are people who have been programming for a while. And that's the thing to remember is that you are on the, you're near the start of your journey and they're not, um,

Josh:      40:18:00               Don't make me quote Martika again!

Al:           40:23:00               [Snicker] Sorry.

Leon:     40:25:00               [Laughing] Alright, go ahead. Go.

Josh:      40:27:00               No, no, I'm not going to call I, I mean don't literally don't make me quote Martika again. That's just step by step thing. We, We can't go there again. No, you're, you're rightly on a I am. I am far better today than I was five years ago. I, I, I remember the moment that, uh, my manager, uh, five years ago was actually our manager. He said to me, "Josh, uh, this team needs this monitor built in SolarWinds, this, this SAM Component Monitor. And the best way to get it done we think is in PowerShell. Um, we'd like you to do it. And I'm like, PowerShell. Google, what is powershell?

Leon:     41:08:00               [Laughing] Yeah, right!?! Bad sign, bad sign!

Josh:      41:08:00               And it took me a week to write this one line cause I was like, oh crap. Like I don't even, I don't, I don't know what the PowerShell is. I don't know if it's installed like nothing. And I'm much more comfortable now. So yes, you are right. I have improved and I think we need to remember that. Um, on the flip side, I'm going to say that one of the things that always has always come really naturally to me is being able to tie the technical side of what I do to the business. So, I mean, one of those lifelong skills is just because you are a technical person does not mean you don't have to know about the business. You hav..., I mean, invest the time. Okay, look, I get it. People are not always going to glom onto, uh, doing spreadsheets and financial analysis of technical solutions like me. Those things really get me excited. Like, that is what I live for.

Leon:     42:06:00               I love you so much for saying that. And, yeah, I think that all it people need to at least have a little bit of fluency, like, you know, and speak a little Spanish, speak a little business.

Josh:      42:17:00               Speak a little 'C-suite'

Leon:     42:17:00               Um, it doesn't mean you have to become a pointy haired boss. It doesn't mean that you're going to become, you know, evil incarnate. Um, but it does mean the ability to translate technical information into a business relevant context is enormously important. Ah, Bob Lewis, who used to write one of the, uh, Op Ed pieces in InfoWorld back in the day when InfoWorld was, uh, printed on actual paper and delivered using actual post, uh, you know, uh, post office people. Um, he said "There are no IT projects. There are no technical projects, there are business projects with a technical component to them." And if you don't understand that you are always going to be working across purposes to the people who actually pay for things. And they're going to continue to say no because they don't understand. You haven't helped them to understand the value of what you're asking them to do. And not saying it's not important. I'm saying you haven't explained it.

Josh:      43:17:00               I'm cheering right now, me and at least two other people.

Leon:     43:21:00               But the thing is is that that isn't a skill that you need to assimilate all at once. It's something that you can practice a little bit at a time and grow in somebody who's at the start of their IT career probably isn't going to have enough context or experience. That doesn't mean they can't try, but somebody in the middle or later on in their career is going to have seen a lot more business situations, met a lot more business leaders and really will need that fluency to go along with the cachet of their credibility and their experience, so they can justify the projects and the tools that they're probably talking about at that mid or even late point in their career. So what else, what other things in an it should we be gentle with ourselves in terms of not beating ourselves up because we don't know it right away, but that doesn't mean we stop working on it. That we continue to work on it.

Josh:      44:12:00               You have to know how to tell good stories. Honestly, if you cannot tell a good story, and I don't care if you're in the C-suite and talking about a business case or if you are, I'm over with the, you know, the lead architects and talking a technical case. You have to tell a story. And to that end, I have a story to tell. I spent the past seven months, uh, as part of a leadership development, uh, program at, at my company and they had pulled together 20 people from, uh, you know, the ranks of 16 or 1700 other IT, uh, folks and then a whole bunch of customer service folks. And they brought us all together and they said, okay, look, you 20, you have been nominated because you are the high potential high performing employees. Over the course of the seven months we did this project and we, we pitched out on the second last day of this program to our peers and we, you know, we had spent a lot of time putting together this, uh, this pitch, this, uh, this presentation and it. Fell. Flat. Oh my goodness. And I thought like, work, we're good. Like they were good engineers, we're good customer service people. Like we know how to present. And we sucked. So that night we all got together, you know, late after our long day of training. And we rewrote our presentation and we focused on the narrative of the story instead of just trying to dump data into people's heads, we brought them along on the journey and people, oh, like we nailed it. Uh, so I think that that idea of, yes, I need to convey to you all the important details needs to be interwoven so beautifully with, let me tell you why these details are, let me help you understand why these details are important to you. So, yeah, learn how to tell good stories,

Al:           46:09:00               right? I, I, I often find myself and we've got an intern, an intern that's currently working with us. Um, his first, uh, experience in IT. I always use expression with when I'm describing something with him, I'm painting a picture. I want you to see it for yourself. I want you to comprehend it. I want you to understand that. But let me know if there's something you're unsure of because if I'm not explaining it properly, I'm not doing my job and then I'm failing you.

Leon:     46:35:00               Right? And, and also say your work with Tech Field Day. I mean, that's what tech field day is all about, right? A bunch of it thought leaders and experts in a room all telling stories to their audience about what they're seeing. Um, you know, it painting that picture, allowing the reader to live vicariously through your experience, to see IT through your eyes. That's, you know, that's what makes you so valuable in that tech field day context. Um, and, and y, you know, you're invited to be part of that group. So that's, that's it. That's the skill.

Josh:      47:07:00               I think that Al has demonstrated that. The other thing that I, I think takes a career, a lifetime to build and that is to be a leader and not a manager. You talked about establishing that vision for this, this new, uh, individual who was in IT letting them see for themselves. That is what good do. Again, I talked about this book, leaders eat last, why some teams pull together and others don't. By Simon Sinek. It was recommended to me about a week and a half ago by a coworker and friend, Zack Mutchler. I have been devouring this book ever since Zack made this recommendation. To me it might be the to the detriment of my career because it sends, set some pretty lofty goals for what leaders should be. But, oh, that idea of, uh, rallying people around the, uh, the thought, the idea of the vision is such a powerful narrative. And there certainly, we should talk more about that book. I'm going to put that out for an idea cause there are some great, um, some really great parallels between that book and, uh, our, our religious beliefs. A future episode to come.

Leon:     48:19:00               You heard it here first.

Al:           48:20:00               Yeah. Right.

Leon:     48:21:00               All right. Anything else in the IT context? Anything else that, uh, you know, slow growth step-by-step applies.

Josh:      48:28:00               So the, the article that they kicked us off, um, had a quote in it and it was right at the end of the, the article and it said, "Stop just wanting to get things done and start, becom..., Start wanting to become the person who gets things done." And that, that goes to that really incremental changes you can achieve. And I think Al, you talked earlier about achieving a certification, you can achieve that. You can, I can learn how to quote "program in Python" or I can learn how to quote, "speak Spanish". You know, "Yo quiero Taco Bell" is Spanish, but I am, I don't actually know how to speak Spanish. Um, so be the person who, who brings about change by, uh, by your actions, those small and simple things. And that will really, that that's, that's where we get enlivened and then we become better people. We become better coworkers, better friends, uh, better spouses, uh, you know, better brothers and sisters and I mean the world world's better place. And then the eighties kicks in.

Josh:      49:36:00               I definitely draw motivation from people that come back to me, uh, and it could be five, six, seven years, however long from now, but they'll come back to me and say, "You know what, that moment that you explained something to me and it wasn't done in a technical way, made the difference for me in my career." You shine light where maybe others didn't or they weren't aware of how to do it. And it just like a, and then you said it earlier, Josh, and as well as you Leon, it's just painting a story, telling a story, being relatable, not talking down to a person but talking to them.

Leon:     50:10:00               Right. Sharing with a person. Yeah. Um, yeah. So Josh, to your point that, that last quote about, uh, just stopping, I'm going to get things done. Um, a friend of mine, uh, who would tutor kids in at both ends of the intellectual spectrum. So she tutored, uh, special needs but also tutored, um, kids who would be classified as geniuses. And she was working with one sixth grader who was, you know, quote unquote a math genius. And the kid himself said, well, you know, I could just skip a couple of grades and you know, get to ninth grade and start, you know, and just work there. And my friend said, why, why do you want to do that? You know, if, if you want to do that because you see the, all the really cool math is in ninth grade and you want to get there sooner. I'm right there with you all help. But if you want to, if you want to just get this done so that you can, you know, play video games, it's not worth it. You might as well stay in sixth grade math and just skate through it because you're not doing it for any particular point. Do you want to get math done so that you can focus more on, you know, physics or English or something else you want, you want this off your plate, you have more time for something else, fine. But if you're doing it just to get it done, I just want it done. I want it out of my way. I don't care about it intrinsically. It doesn't represent anything for me and I don't have any plans to do anything else either with it or, or in place of it then then what are you doing? Who are you? You know, you're the person who skipped two grades of math to play World of Warcraft. Like that's not, it's not a thing. So, um, I think about that in the same way. You know, I want to be the person who got to do this other thing. I want to be, you know, I want to get ahead so that I can do more. I can enjoy more.

Al:           52:01:00               Yeah. You're striving to excel and achieve and you've got a desire to continue to improve.

Leon:     52:09:00               Okay. So any final words? Any final thoughts before we wrap this up?

Josh:      52:12:00               Uh, in the, uh, the immortal words of the wonderful Australian rock band INXS,

Al & Leon:           52:20:00               [Snickering & laughter]

Josh:      52:20:00               uh, don't change for you.

Al & Leon:           52:27:00               [Hysterical laughing]

Leon:     52:27:00               [Laughing] No, go ahead, keep going... [More laughing]

Al:           52:27:00               [Laughing] It's a good thing. People will see this, but they'll just hear this.

Josh:      52:31:00               This is good. Don't change...

Josh:      52:37:00               [More laughing] No, no, it's great!

Everyone:           52:37:00               [Laughing so hard we are crying now]

Leon:     52:37:00               [Laughing more, trying to get under control] Ok, ok, I'm muting myself. Okay, go ahead Josh.

Al:           52:37:00               [Laughing so hard he is snorting]

Josh:      52:37:00               [Breathless laughing, pounding the table]

Leon:     52:37:00               Josh?

Al:           52:37:00               [Laughing] He walked away. He couldn't take it! Now he's got me looking up an INXS on my phone. Nevermind. Right.

Leon:     53:01:00               [Laughing] We're going to leave you guessing. Read the show notes. We'll find out what the quote was. Thank you so much, Al. It's good to have you back.

Al:           53:07:00               My pleasure.

Leon:     53:08:00               [Much more laughing] I love you like a brother. Okay.

Josh:      53:11:00               [Laughing] See you later guys!

Josh:      53:13:00               [More laughing] Pleasure to meet you Josh, thank you. Beautiful.

Speaker 5:           53:14:00               Thank you for making time for us this week. To hear more of technically religious visit our website at where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions, or connect with us on social media.

Leon:     53:26:00               You can't always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you might find you get what you need.

Josh:      53:32:00               Wait, did you just quote the Rolling Stones?

Leon:     53:35:00               No, that was, that was from a wise old man.

Al:           53:37:00               Mick Jagger is wise??

S1E25: A Bad Day At the Office

S1E25: A Bad Day At the Office

August 27, 2019

Work in IT for just a bit, and you’ll know that there are some days when everything just clicks, but sometimes (maybe a lot?) it doesn't. Similarly, there are days when we show up to the synagogue, church, or dojo and we are focused; versus days when every moment seems like a slog through the mud. But... maybe we're expecting too much. Is it reasonable to expect most days to be unicorns and sunshine and hot java? What does our religious/moral/ethical POV teach us about how we set our expectations for a "normal" day in IT?In this episode Leon, Josh, Doug, and new voice Steven Hunt discuss these ideas and explore whether there are there lessons we can take from one area of our life to the other about how to get through (and move past) a bad day - whether it's in the office, in the gym, or in the pews. Listen or read the transcript below.


Leon: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate it. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as it professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is technically religious
Josh: 00:21 Work in IT for just a bit and you'll know that there are some days when everything just clicks, but sometimes all right, maybe a lot it doesn't. Similarly, there are days when we show up to the synagogue, church, or Dojo and we are focused versus days when every moment seems like a slog through the mud, but maybe we're expecting too much. Is it reasonable to expect most days to be unicorns and sunshine and hot java? What does our religious moral, ethical point of view teach us about how we set our expectations for a "normal" day in IT? Are there lessons we can take from one area of our life to the other about how to get through and move past a bad day, whether it's in the office, in the gym, or in the pews. I'm Josh Biggley. And the other voices you're going to hear in this episode are my podcasting partner in crime, Leon Adato.
Leon: 01:11 Hello everyone.
Josh: 01:12 Another regular voice on this show. Doug Johnson.
Doug: 01:15 Hello.
Josh: 01:16 And our newest guest to technically religious Steven Hunt.
Steven: 01:19 Hey, how's it going?
Josh: 01:20 All right everyone. So this is the point in the show where we're going to do some some shameless self promotion. Um, so again, I'm Josh Biggley. I'm a Senior Engineer for Enterprise Monitoring. You can find me on Twitter at @jbiggley and uh, ya know, is a website that I recently started with my wife for Canadians, uh, who are going through some form of faith transition. Doug, anything you want to, uh, to, uh, talk to us about?
Doug: 01:47 Uh, I'm Doug Johnson. I'm CTO for wave RFID. We do inventory management using radio waves in the, uh, optical shop. Uh, I've recently dropped off of just about all social media. So the only thing I've got right now is a cooking website called So if you'd like recipes head on over.
Josh: 02:05 Right. Nice. Steven.
Steven: 02:07 I'm Steven Hunt, I'm Senior Director of Product Management at Data Corp software. Uh, you can find me on Twitter at, @SteveWHunt. Uh, and when I actually have the site up and uh, I haven't let it lapse in payment, you can read my blog on
Leon: 02:24 So it sounds like it's my turn. Uh, I'm Leon Adato. I'm one of the Head Geeks at SolarWinds. You can find me on the Twitters @LeonAdato and uh, you can also find my blog And for those people who scribbling madly either Ramblings of a Tech Junkie or Cook Loose or any of those, we're going to have that in the show notes. So don't, scribble no more. Just listen and enjoy.
Josh: 02:46 I mean, fine. Yeah. Find your zen this, this is going to be a good episode because some of us have bad days at the office, right?
Leon: 02:55 All of us, all of us have bad days at the office. [Laughing].
Doug: 02:57 Regularly!
Leon: 03:00 Right? Um, actually, OK. So, so I actually think we should start a little bit elsewhere, not in the office, not in the tech office at least. Um, but I want to start in with our religious, moral or ethical, uh, or basically non technical point of view because I think that's where we recognize that things are hard and we are either more or differently prone to address them. Um, what I mean by that is that I think many of us recognize that sometimes worship or prayer can be hard. Um, first of all, there's the mechanics of it. Um, I know I still, uh, having gone from being not particularly religious Jewishly to being orthodox still eight or nine years later, struggle with just the mechanics of reading Hebrew and knowing what part of the service we're in and knowing what's supposed to happen. It, it is still a thing for me. Um, and that's hard then. But then there's also moments when just the thing I'm confronting or, or praying about or working on myself about is hard too. Um, I don't know. What do you, what are do you folks think?
Josh: 04:12 I think that's, I, you know, that last part, right? And it does, this is one of those moments where it doesn't really matter if, if you're talking about your religious or your moral or your ethical pursuits when you have to step back and, and try to do some, some self-examination, some introspection that is really difficult to do. Uh, I just went through some training, uh, for leadership, uh, at my company and it was all about really taking a look at yourself and deconstructing the things that you think you do well. Um, and then this, this wonderful and gut wrenching experience of asking your peers, including, uh, your, your reports, your managers, the engineers who work with you to give you anonymous feedback. I guess I could have really couched that, uh, you know, that list of people by asking people that I knew were going to give me positive feedback. But I mean, isn't the reason that we engage in those, those exercises is we want the, the harsh critiques. We want to know, uh, even where our enemies know where we're at. I don't know that, that's not something that I'm, I'm sure that people really embrace. Right. How is it normal to want to, uh, to, you know, to have that feedback from others? I mean, is that why we go to deity because we expect, uh, him, her, it to, to give us the, the harsh reality when we're not getting it from others?
Doug: 05:45 I think so the hard thing for me is really knowing whether you're doing it right or not. I mean, Leon was saying, you know, there's, there's a way you do things in the Orthodox world. Well in the Chris, uh, Evangelical Christian world, there is not necessarily the right way to do it, although, Gosh, yeah, there are enough books on prayer say, to go ahead and, uh, keep you reading for the rest of your life and you'll never pray again.
Leon: 06:12 [Laughing]
Doug: 06:12 The problem is, you know, how do you, you need to learn how to do it in a way that makes some sense. I mean, I, I keep coming back to God knows everything. Why does he need me to pray to him to know? And I understand that it's, you know, it's for me, not for him, but still, how do you do it in a way that gets me into the, uh, you know, the right way to do that. So you know, the how to can get in the way of the actual process itself.
Leon: 06:44 Yeah. I think there's, there's many moments when you were like, what the hell am I supposed to be doing here? You know, and not just, not just do I stand up or sit down kind of what the hell do I do, but also like, okay, where, where are we going with this? You know, when my, when, when a track coach says, run that way as fast as you can and jump over those hurdles, then it's pretty straight forward. But it's a little bit less clear.
Steven: 07:08 No, I was gonna say that, that's one of the things that, that, that I struggled with growing up a Southern Baptist when you were mentioning the, the aspect of what, what am I doing here? How I don't, I, it just doesn't feel right. This doesn't, you know, fit. That was, that was something I constantly dealt with. Right. And then coming, coming to a conclusion that, that I just, I don't have an identification with any deity. I don't, you know, it's not something that fits me. And, and I guess if you will, casting that aside, um, you know, it, it, it changed a little bit of the way that I think, the way that I look at it, I, I stopped trying to fit into a mold that wasn't me and started to be more myself. Right. And that's something that, that it was, it's, it's a, it's a struggle. It was a daily struggle. It was a very difficult concept to deal with. And that's where bad days were more consistent at that point in time for me.
Leon: 08:02 And I think there's a, there's, to put it in a, again, a workout context, like some, for some people spin classes never gonna work like this, just not gonna, but for those same people rowing or curling or.
Josh: 08:16 Jazz-ercise!
Doug: 08:16 Laying on the couch!
Leon: 08:16 Or [laughing]
Steven: 08:18 Well, that, that's, I, I do Crossfit and Crossfit. It's not for everyone. Right. And a lot of people make fun of crossfit constantly, but, but for me, it fits, it, it, it, it gives me the workout that I'm looking for. It gives me the, uh, the, the, the health benefits that, that ultimately I'm looking for and I just enjoy doing it. But if I were out there trying to be a runner and I am not a runner, it would be a terrible thing. It'd be, it'd be horrible. I would, I, first of all, I don't know the first thing about running effectively. I look bad. I, my, my times are terrible. And so you, you gravitate to what feels natural to what, what works for you.
Leon: 08:56 Okay. All right. And I think the interesting thing is that when you're talking about, you know, a health regime, a health regimen, um, that's one thing, you know, you can, you can sort of find your space. But I think when you're talking about, you know, religious, ethical, moral, the variety of choices you have is limited. If you feel drawn to, um, whether you feel drawn to a god concept or a philosophical concept, your choices are limited. And so if you doesn't feel right, you know, that's again, that's the bad day at the office. What, what is that like, how does that work in that religious ethical context?
Steven: 09:33 It mostly takes you were you working through you, you, you have to come to terms with who you are, what you feel, what you think, um, and, and that helps you ultimately, uh, reconcile with whatever that is that, that, that's bringing you down at any given time.
Leon: 09:51 Okay. So, so other bad days, uh, in the non tech office w uh, what are some other experiences you guys have had?
Doug: 09:57 We were just talking about, you know, finding, finding your, uh, your, uh, regimen, your what religion you're going to be, but you know, once you found the one that works for you, everything's all perfect from then on, right?
ALL: 10:12 Exactly.
Doug: 10:14 Those are the bad days that man, I mean like all of the, so I've picked the one. All right. I'm an evangelical Christian. I, you know, I've, I've, I've, I take, took the pill, I bought the, drank the Koolaid, whatever, you know, but not to the point where I..
Leon: 10:30 ...have had the frontal lobotomy.
New Speaker: 10:33 Exactly. I, it's just, you know, I, I still think I still have my freaking Philosophy major that just makes me question everything. And there are just some days where it doesn't go well. Um, I mean I, I actually haven't been going to church lately cause I've had some health issues. I've had this vertigo thing last time I went to church, this is, you know, I'd been stable for awhile and I got there and I drove to church and I got there and the church was getting set to start and all of a sudden the room started spinning. What do you do? So I went over to the prayer corner, which is outside there and put my head down and close my eyes and I look like I was praying through the whole service for the service and everybody thought I was hyper-spiritual but I just, you know, the room was moving.
Leon: 11:22 [Laughing]
New Speaker: 11:22 So it's, you know, after, after 25 minutes the drugs kicked in and I was able to go home and that was my last big service because I had a bad day at the service, not because of the service, but just my body chose that it didn't want to do that that day.
Leon: 11:39 I think one of the big things there was that you didn't let it throw you. Like, I think some people would say it's a sign, you know, or something like that. You didn't let it know, no, this is just my body being my body.
Doug: 11:49 It's all right. Oops. And like I said, there's some people who, who saw me that day, but I think I'm really, really spiritual now.
Josh: 11:54 Interestingly, the one of the hardest days that I had in my religious observance. Uh, and for those who have not, um, have not listened to any of the previous episodes first, shame on you. Go back and listen to all of our backlog. Yeah. I grew up Mormon and I, I was, uh, I would say I was an Orthodox Mormon, sometimes ultra Orthodox for 41 ish years. And I was reminded of the moment that I realized that Mormonism didn't work for me anymore. Uh, I was on Facebook today and I saw a woman in one of the support groups that I, that I'm in who posted having read some things and she's like, "I have realized that my entire world is a lie". I can still remember the exact moment. I can remember where on the plane I was sitting. I can remember where I was looking at and like looking out the window, I remember kind of like, you know, the lighting, like everything in that moment when I realized that walking away from Mormonism was the thing I had to do, that there was no going back. That was a hard day. And that's one of those pivotal moments and I think we all have them. At some points in our lives. And Steven, I loved hearing that, that you had a moment where you went, "I don't think I belong here anymore and I have to walk away". We all have those moments where we either choose that we're going to stay and we in, we entrench ourselves because it's what we want or we have to make a decision to walk away. You cannot live in the upside down. It does not work. You, you, you have to live in reality. Uh, and if you get pulled back into that, that gray space in your life, you have to confront it. And that, that's my, I'm a, I'm very passionate about people embracing their pursuit of whatever it is. And it doesn't matter if it's the cult of Crossfit and yes, Steven, it is a cult. I want you to know that.
ALL: 14:00 [Laughing]
Steven: 14:01 You're 100% correct. It, it absolutely is,
Josh: 14:05 But whether, you know, it's, it's the cult of Crossfit or the cult Christianity or the cult of Mormonism or, you know, whatever it would ever, those beliefs, those indoctrinated beliefs are, you have to decide if you are going to live them or if you're going to go live something else. Uh, the people that I found most frustrating when I was a Orthodox Mormon was the people who were like,"Yeah, you know, I really, I'm okay with these parts, but I don't really want to do the hard things. And, you know, showing up to church on Sunday is kind of fun and it's, you know, but I don't want to put the work in!" And I'm like, "You know, you gotta put the work in!" So yeah, you gotta do the hard things.
Leon: 14:45 Yeah. And I think that there's, there's a difference. I'm going to challenge what, what's been said. A little...
Josh: 14:50 No, Crossfit is a cult.
Leon: 14:50 [Laughing] Ok, I'm not challenging that part! 100% in agreement, but I think that there are moments when you realize that something is simply not you but I think that a lot of folks, um, you know, especially in relilgious context, because it, uh, feels somewhat optional, uh, but in other contexts as well it, uh, to what you were saying Josh, its a little bit challenging, its a little bit uncomfortable and so I'm not going to do it. And, and, so I have a story about that. I was, uh, walking out of Synagogue, and there was somebody who was new, and you always know the new people, just because they are, uh, new, and, uh, the regulars are the regulars. And this new person has just shown up and they were there and, uh, they were walking out and the Rabbi said, "So, you know, what's your name?" and got to know him and, so, "How ya doing?" And the person, very honestly, said "Ya know, I just wasn't feeling it. It just wasn't working for me. Maybe this just isn't my thing?" And, I'll never forget, my Rabbi gave him, sort of, THAT look. You know, that stern, over-the-glasses, look, and said "You know, aren't guaranteed two-scoops of epiphany in every box of Shabbat-Crunch cereal." Ya know, you're, you don't, maybe you have to put a little work into this before you gonna feel it in some way. And, and, I want to put out that a bad day in the pews, a bad day, um, especially when it is one of your first days, A), is gonna happen, but sometimes it's not a bad day, but it's just a regular day. That those euphoric days that, maybe, we were sold on thinking we were supposed to get every single time, Doug, to your point, ya know, "Boy, I can't be as religious as that guy with his head down in the corner! Wow, he was really intense! How do you do that, I didn't feel anything like that!!" Ya, he wasn't feeling it either, but you didn't know that.
Doug: 14:50 [Laughing] It's true!
Leon: 14:50 Umm, ya know, I think that, that you have to recognize that, that those are some days! Umm, whether they are every day or most days or just a few, ya know, you can't show up just once to the gym and walk out looking like "Arnold" or whatever. It's gonna take a little bit of work. So, uhh, right, wrong, different, what do you guys think?
Doug: 14:50 I think that, sometimes, the expectations are that we're going to an awful lot more of those epiphanies than really we should expect. One, one of the things that interests me, because, I, I read through the Bible more than once a year. I mean, just continually reading through it, and I am amazed how rarely God talks to even the people that, I mean, Abraham, he, he would speak to Abraham and then he would go off doing his God thing somewhere...
Leon: 14:50 [Laughing].
Doug: 14:50 ...for 20, 25 years. And Abraham is just chugging along. Most of us, if God doesn't appear to us in a dream and at least once every three weeks we, you know, get worried about it. It's like, no, you're not gonna have that many epiphanies. You just, you need to just sort of keep at it.
Josh: 18:01 I think that's an interesting point, right? Yeah. Sometimes when we go into situations, whether we're, you know, we're pursuing a new, uh, political belief, uh, I followed the Greens for a long time, then left and now I've headed back. Or whether you're, uh, you know, uh, a moral philosophy, religious observance, we see the people who have been practicing that, uh, that lifestyle for years and we have this expectation that we're going to walk in and suddenly be like them. We're going to know all the right things to say, we're going to know all the right things to do. We're going to know what not to do. Um, you know, apparently bringing a Styrofoam Cup to the Green Party's, um, meeting as a bad idea, you, those sorts of things, right?
Leon: 18:48 Who knew!?!
Josh: 18:48 Right? Um, you know, shuttle left the, a 12 cylinder Jag at home, but those are the things that aren't, that are hard. And we have this, we have this, this, uh, instant gratification problem, at least in Western society where we expect that because we want it and because we really, really want it. It's just going to happen. And that hard work isn't there. But I, I will. And I'm going to put on my parent hat now. So I'll tell you that the, the most, uh, difficult things that you do will often be the most rewarding. I, I, I know I'm making fun of that, but it really, the hardest things I've had to do in my life have been the things that when I overcame them were really the most satisfying. And I think that that's for religious observance as well. If it works for you, do it. Um, I mean, don't be a jerk, but cause that's a bad thing. We already [stumbling] Nah, I'm not gonna go there. I'm like, do, do the thing that is hard because you know it's the right thing to do.
Leon: 19:55 Yeah. Um, okay. So, so Steven, I'm going to call you out a little bit just cause, uh, I know that weightlifting is one of the things that you do and uh, I will fully admit that I do not, um, if I say that I'm in shape, it's simply because round is a shape.
Josh: 20:07 Amen.
Leon: 20:07 It however everyone else in my family were weightlifters and powerlifters and football players and things like that. I was the runt of the litter. And, um, so I, I know just from osmosis about it and there's always that moment when the, the new, it's always guys, the new guy walks into the gym and you know, either loads up way too much weight on the bench press or just is, you know, arms are puffed out, chest is puffed out. And, in a bad gym, everyone steps away in a good gym, everyone steps forward, but they're all aware that this guy is going to hurt himself or someone else or the equipment. Worst of all the equipment. Um, and I dunno, Steven, if you have any experiences with that.
Steven: 20:54 I mean in, in Crossfit constantly, right? It's where the Crossfit is known for poor form, bad movements and people doing it wrong, like doing lifts wrong. Um, and, and to your point, a, a bad gym is, is one that lets you keep doing it. They're like, "Hey, that guy is, you know, he's, he's here, he's lifting", uh, or "She's here. She's lifting". Um, the good gym is the one that says, hey, take a, you know what you're doing right here. Let's make an adjustment. And the people that, uh, that want to get better, that they want to make that evolution, they receive that criticism. Well, the ones that, uh, think they know what they're doing and don't want to hear any, any constructive criticisms, they may not show up next time or they may lash out at you, um, that there may be steroids involved there. I don't know.
Leon: 21:48 [Laughing] Or just, or just bad temper. I mean, it doesn't always have to be drug induced. It can just sometimes even learn, you know, just a jerk. And, uh, and I will tell you that that is not, um, absent from the synagogue as well. Sometimes people come in and they're, uh, clearly uncertain about what's going on. But when someone tries to offer a helping hand, they, uh, respond poorly.
Josh: 22:11 I had no idea. Steroids were a problem in Judaism.
Leon: 22:13 Right? [Laughing] Yeah, they're, they're not. [Laughing] Right. Okay. So, so I think we've run down, uh, bad days in, uh, the gym, the Dojo, the Pew, the synagogue, et cetera. I want to pivot to what a bad day looks like in it. Um, because you know, just what, what does it look like? Because I'll start it off. You know, some days the machine actually is out to get you, no matter what you try. Um, I, I don't know why I have had experiences where over the course of hours or sometimes days, I experienced rapid multiple system collapse. And what I mean by that is that a hard drive on my laptop dies and also two of the four monitors on my desktop system die and the the washing machine dies and something goes out on the car. Like all systems begin to crumble around and like, all right, I, it must be me this week. I'm just not going to touch anything else. I, I dunno if you've had that experience, but sometimes the machines just don't like you.
Steven: 23:24 It was just a revolt that day.
Leon: 23:27 I wish. And if they had just told me that that's what it was or that I was revolting, I would have left them alone. But no, I had to go buy a new hard drive and monitor and you know, all that stuff.
Doug: 23:37 I mean it happens that way. I always people, people are, we'll be working on something say, well this is going well and I'm going, "Oh, you just jinxed it."
ALL: 23:47 [Laughing]
Doug: 23:47 "Why would you ever say that?" You never say it's going well because you just set it up to go the, the, the, the computer gods are now going to go ahead and throw a lightning bolt and it will take out your hard drive or something along that line. It just, you can't do that.
Josh: 24:04 I once did a SAN upgrade and I think I have, I've actually shared this story, um, on the, on this podcast. So, I did this SAN upgrade, um, at my last employer, um, it was for our vmware environment. We are a managed services provider, so we had a bunch of hosted vms. Um, and like most companies, you know, you did backups, but we hadn't really tested all of our backups so we didn't actually know if our backups worked. Started the SAN upgrade. Suddenly we had no, no drives anymore. Uh, the whole SAN was gone at 20 hours later. I'm on the phone with both vmware and the SAN provider and both engineers said, "We have nothing for you. I hope your backups are good." I mean, you get real religious when your entire, I mean like everything is gone there. There were no LUNs. Uh, yeah, that, that is probably my single worst day at the office. And that was a long day.
Leon: 25:08 Right. I'm talking about the demo, talking about the gods, the tech Gods. Um, I've always found it amusing and slightly horrifying that at conventions, um, most notably DevOps days tends to do this because it's, it's multiple talks, one right after another. And a lot of them are live demos and so there's a shrine off to the side, a shrine to the demo gods. And people will come up and make a make offerings and there is serious prayer going. These are people who in any other context would tell you that they were absolutely irreligious that they had no connection, that they were devout atheists or at least agnostics, right? They just have nothing and yet they are making deep obeisances , you know they are bowing down to the, to the demo guys because live demos during a talk like you should never, never do.
Josh: 26:01 Like what? What sort of sadists are you guys?
Leon: 26:06 [Laughing].
Josh: 26:06 Do not do live demos? Oh my goodness that is like, that is like playing craps with the devil. Like, oh.
Steven: 26:15 You, you, you have to sacrifice entire server rack to the demo gods for a live demo presentation. It's just, it's a, it's 100% required. I can't think of the amount of times. It was funny. Leon you mentioned, regardless of, you know, if you're atheist or agnostic, you, you, you immediately go to that shrine it if you have to do a demo that day, I don't know. I can't count the number of offerings I made it SolarWinds when we were doing some type of demo during our recordings. And then live demos at an event were just, I couldn't, it was just one of those things that you freak out constantly.
Leon: 26:52 As a side note, if anybody's who's listening wants to see something very, very funny, go to the SolarWinds Youtube Channel, Look for the 50th episode anniversary where they do a whole montage of demos going wrong and you'll see Steven having just a really, really bad time with something over and over again. So yes, I think I was there for a few of those. Demo Demo. Extravaganzas um...
Doug: 27:18 Yet sometimes it can go well. I mean, when I was writing, um, medical software and one of the things that we did, it was called, it was called the shootout. And so we actually had to demo our software, our medical record software in front of 500 physicians. It was done every year and they put two people up. And so if a physician would stand there and would actually dictate one of the records that, that, that you, you were allowed to preload your stuff, but you had to do it live. And, one year, my partner and I, who is actually now my business partner in WaveRFID, uh, we were the ones that were doing it. I'm was the technical person. She was the lead one and we were demoing Alpha software. It was a brand new version that we were doing in front of 500 docs and it all went out like 10 minutes before it started. We ran down the hall, came all the way back, shoved a new version in and demo'd the thing. But because we did our obese, you know, we said, it's not us. We are so sorry. This is alpha. Please forgive us. We humbled ourselves and the demo went great, you know, so some days it works out if you're suitably obeisant.
Leon: 28:29 Yes. Wow. I, yeah, it's, that's, I can't imagine, I mean you call it a shootout because you're just like, "Just shoot me now". Yeah. Um, wow. That's insane. And it, and I think that if you've been working in it for any amount of time, you know, there's, there's similar stories like that. Um, and okay, so pivoting from demo and machines, there's other parts of being in it that are bad day to, um, I, I think that many of us wish for a world that we grew up watching or some of us grew up watching in star trek where everyone in the engineering, uh, in the engineering area was incredibly competent and everyone got along. Even if they didn't always get along, they still got everything done and a, they were all focused on solutions and stuff like that. And the reality is that in IT shops, uh, across the globe, politics is a thing. Trademark all rights reserved. Um, sometimes it's not the machine that's out to get you, it's a coworker or another department that simply wants your budget or whatever. And we have to put up with those things also. Um, so that's another thing that causes a bad day is when you don't actually get to do your job because you're dealing with the politics of doing your job. Or the process, you know, it doesn't always have to be a political, you know, show down necessarily, but it's, you know, do I really have to spend the next hour and a half doing timesheets or expenses or, you know, five year forecasting, you know, because that's always useful in it. I can't forecast five months accurately, but you want five years. Great. Great.
Josh: 30:11 Yeah. So I, I remember being a brand new engineer a long time ago, 20, 20-ish years ago now, and thinking all, all I'll need to know if I can just memorize the OSI model. Like I can have, if I can just memorize the OSI model, it's gonna be a thing. Um, I mean, I, I know the OSI model, I can't remember the last time I had to reference it. Um, but that, that's it. Like sometimes the things that are hard are, are of our own making.
Leon: 30:43 I will say that the OSI Model I reference all the time talking about bad days at the office because every tech project I've ever worked on has failed at layers eight, nine and 10 OSI model, which is finance, politics and compliance.
Josh: 30:59 Yes
Doug: 31:00 I've had the benefit of working mostly for myself. So the only political problem I've have is convincing myself to get myself doing the job. But when I did work for a large corp for awhile, I was given a project where I had to go ahead and make this thing work with an existing service. And this existing service was controlled by somebody who was saying that, well, we're going to be replacing this and this was his little area and he didn't want to share it with anybody and because it was going to be replaced, um, I couldn't use his old service, but the new service wasn't going to be ready in time for us to do the rest of it. But he wouldn't give me what I needed to go ahead and use the old service and he wouldn't let me be a Beta site for the new service. So that I would have it. And so here I am and there's no way I can do this thing without using this service. And there's one guy who owns it and it was his,
Steven: 31:57 That's why star Trek, uh, is, is, is fantasy. Because having to interact with other human beings to, to get something done doesn't always bring out the rosiest of situations. You, you, you have to, you have to interact with someone and they have other priorities that aren't necessarily aligning with your priorities. Um, heaven forbid that, that you have to have different priorities because what you need to get done, you need to get done now and what they need to get done, they need to get done now. And if those don't align, then it, then that clash is going to happen you, and if it's not happening in the timeframe that you ultimately need it to be bad day popping up immediately without warning.
Leon: 32:38 So you're saying the of Star Trek was not the phasers or the tricorder or the faster than light travel, that that's all normal. That's reality. The fantasy was that everyone got along all the time.
Steven: 32:48 Yeah, absolutely. Like [laughing] we have phasers now don't we?
Josh: 32:51 Well see, I know what we're missing, right? We're, we're missing the obligatory red shirt that, that guy who won't give you access to his, his software. You just pulled a red shirt, you know, over him and you throw them into the meeting because we all know what happens to, you know, the guy wearing the red shirt.
Steven: 33:08 I thought Josh was going to go the other way and say you kill the person with the red shirt.
Josh: 33:11 I'm Canadian!
New Speaker: 33:15 [Inaudible].
Josh: 33:16 I'm not that evil yet.
Doug: 33:19 He wants them killed, he just won't do it himself.
Leon: 33:22 Okay, so one, I think one last thing that I want to talk about as far as it bad days is, um, is when we, the bad day has to do with the next thing we have to do. And I don't mean just like the thing on our tack, task list, but the thing we have to learn, um, you know, just putting that out to everyone who's listening and, and you three, you know, how many times have you resisted learning about the next thing, whether it was cloud or object oriented programming or ITIL or IP version 6 or something like that
Steven: 33:55 All the time. Every day. I don't have time.
Leon: 33:59 Okay. So you resist it because like I have enough on my plate.
Steven: 34:02 It's usually, it's usually comes down to that just trying to get something new in your knowledge. Bank a is oftentimes budding up against everything else that you have to do. Um, and, and once you set aside the, the, the urge to just ignore it and you actually consume that information, you learn that net new thing. Um, I, I can remember when, when I was doing consulting for, for Citrix projects and having to learn when they, they had just acquired this new company, NetSix, and, and here comes this new, uh, VPN product and it's like, "I'm dealing with virtualization over here. I don't want to deal with a VPN product!" And, and just putting it off and putting it off and putting it off. And next thing you know, like here you go, you've got to learn it. We've got to have a certification in it. There's no, no other way about it. It's like, "Ah, OK, all right, I'll learn it." And then next thing you know, you've got this great new technology you get to incorporate in your, your knowledge stack and you have way more opportunities, uh, that oh, that opened up for you to do more things either from a consulting realm or for your company. You can enable, you know, new capabilities, new functionalities. But we push it aside cause we just don't have time
Doug: 35:20 I was going to say that actually even goes back to some of the, we were talking about in the religious side. I mean there's, I love learning new things, but I want to learn the new stuff that I want to learn. And sometimes what your, the environment that you're in says no, the thing that you need to learn now is x, whatever this, whatever x happens to be, it can be in the IT world for this next thing you need to learn this in the religious world. You really need to get, you need to work on your prayer life, you know? And so people from the outside are telling you, here's what you need to do. It's for me, it's real easy to learn something new if it's something I want to learn. But it's, you know, as Stephen was saying, it's like if it's something you have to learn, you may not get around to it until somebody from the outside goes ahead and sort of cracks the whip a little bit and then won't. But once you've gone ahead and pressed through, it's like, oh, this is great. Yeah.
Leon: 36:16 What was I so worried about?
Doug: 36:18 Oh, no, I always knew what I was so worried about!
Josh: 36:21 Cool. It's interesting because I've built my entire, my entire career off of the phrase, uh, "I don't know". Uh, my, my second job, uh, that I got, I had this, this panel interview in which I was asked a series of questions to which I did not know any of the answers because I had only been in the IT field for, for a professionally, for a year. Um, and as I laughed, they said, you know, is there anything you'd like to say, uh, you know, before we end the interview. And I said, "I'm sorry that I didn't know the things that you asked, but if you're willing to teach me, um, I'd love to learn." And I really think that, that for me, defines what I want to do and what I tried to do in IT. I don't, I don't know everything. I still am, I'm terrible at scripting. I really am. Um, but I can do an awful lot more now than I could five years ago or a year ago. And that's that for me, whether we're talking about a pursuit of an IT lesson or whether we're talking about the pursuit of some, you know, ideology, whether it's physical or mental or spiritual or intellectual, go out and approach it with the, "Hey, I just don't know, like it's hard. Um, and I don't know it yet, but damn it, I'm going to learn." And those are the people for me. You know, we talked about those engineers, those idyllic Star Trek engineers. I would rather take an engineer who said to me, "Josh, I don't know how to do this, but I'm going to go figure it out." And then comes back and says, "Hey, here's what I've got. Let's collaborate. Get it done." To me, that, that is a thing that takes those really hard things to do and makes them so much easier.
Steven: 38:06 Completely agree.
Leon: 38:07 Okay. So last piece, and this is actually I think where, um, uh, a lot of the learnings, uh, are going to happen. We've talked about bad days, uh, in our non-tech life and we've talked about that days in our tech life. What lessons can we carry or have we carried over from one to the other. It might be something that you knew really well in your tech world that you carried into your religious or ethical or moral life or vice versa. And Josh, I think to the point you just said, um, is a strong one. I think as IT people, we are more prone, we are more comfortable saying, "I don't know that" whether that's "Hey, I don't know, Active Directory" or "I don't know why that that just happened, but I'm going to find out." I think that we are generally speaking, we don't feel emotionally challenged to say things like that. Um, but I think that there's a huge resistance for some people in some cases to say, I don't know, in a religious or you know, ethical or philosophical context. Um, and maybe that's the fear that if I, if I say, I don't know, there may not actually be an answer. And if there isn't an answer to this one question, maybe the entire religious structure is somehow false, which is sort of an irrational fear. But I think that it's one that people have. And so the answer to that is just don't say, I don't know, which doesn't work really well either, but, uh, people fall into that trap.
Josh: 39:39 Yeah. So I, ironically, the thing that I, that I did that led me away from my religious observance was to embrace uncertainty. Uh, you know, being Ultra Orthodox, I was so certain that I knew the truth that when I no longer could look at the facts and say that I, that they were true, it was, I had to step away. So my lesson, uh, I'm, and I have to, cause I'm a cheat here. One is to "Embrace the uncertainty" and the other is "Sleep on it." No, no. Like seriously sleep on, I cannot count the number of times where I've spent my entire day banging my head against a problem. And then when, you know, I'm just going to go to bed and then you get up the next morning, you're like, oh, that's how you solve this one. And I don't care if you're talking about IT or if you're talking about, you know, a problem at home or with a colleague or with a friend, or just sleep on it, man. A good night's rest does everyone well.
Doug: 40:38 I found that, um, the, one of the things that I learned in coming more from my religious life into my technical life, um, the thing that makes me have the worst days during religious services is watching everybody around me worshiping the way that they worship and it being all about them. And you know, they're just, you know, hands up and whoop-ti-do and all that kind of stuff I'm like, just drives me crazy. Um, but then I realize it's like, okay, but here I am. I am letting their weirdness stand between me and God and I just need to sort of like, stop, roll myself back, let them be them, and then go ahead and have my, uh, my experience with, you know, getting this done, the service. And, when you take that into the IT world, there are people that have got opinions and they're, you know, we gotta do it this way and yeah, everybody's an expert and all this stuff and you're trying to work on a team and I can sit there going in my head, these people are freaking idiots.
Leon: 41:42 [Laughing]
Doug: 41:43 But I then go ahead and roll it back and say, nope, this is just me. Let's go ahead and work with this and you know, there, but, and I can go ahead and take that tolerance that I have made myself learn in the religious world. Otherwise I would hate my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and bring that so that I can be better on a team. I, I was a terrible team person in my thirties and forties I mean, you know, I got stuff done, but because we'd slam it through and now I'm actually really, I'm good at coaching people and working with them because I know that my tendency is to be judgmental even when it's not justified.
Steven: 42:24 Yeah, for me, the, I think the, the biggest lesson from religious nonreligious work standpoint is you just got to view things through a positive lens. Like if you just take and go into your day, I'm not thinking everyone's out to get, you know, not thinking that, uh, that the, you know, that whatever you're going to have to deal with that day is going to be difficult or hard, um, that you know, that is not going to ultimately affect you negatively if you just walk into that situation or that day with, with that positive lens, you're like, you're going to have a better day. But, but as well, everyone else around you is probably gonna have a better day because you're in a better frame of mind. Or at least I know that when I've got a bad day going on or I don't feel you were really great, I'm usually making everyone around me miserable. So if I can avoid that at all costs, I feel like, that's usually something I should, should, should attempt at least
Doug: 43:23 Share the wealth, either positive or negative.
Josh: 43:26 Always positive, always positive.
Leon: 43:30 So something that, uh, I learned recently. Um, it was an insight from, uh, from my rabbi, Rabbi Davidovich. Um, he, so every morning in the Orthodox Jewish, uh, service, the morning service, uh, you go over the sacrifices, you just sort of read through the text of what the sacrifices are and how they're handled. And right at the very beginning, it talks about how, uh, the priests go in and they take the ashes of yesterday, sacrifice out first. That's what they, that's what they do. And that's right at the beginning of sort of this section of the, of the prayers is, you know, the, the Kohanim, the priests, they go in, they took the ashes and they took them all the way outside the camp and they dumped them. And Rabbi Davidovich's insight to that was, that's a metaphor for how we treat yesterday's experience. Um, that you could have had a horrible, awful, painful, gut wrenching, useless, unproductive day yesterday. And so when you show up the next day for prayer, you might feel like, oh, I just, I can't, what, what, what am I supposed to do? I, I can't have another one like that. And this piece of text is telling you no, no, no. That was yesterday. Take the ashes, dump them outside the camp. They're, they're, they, they don't belong here anymore. Today's prayer has no resemblance. It's an entirely new set of sacrifices and entirely new set of work that is not contingent on or related to yesterday's work in any way. By this, by the way, at the same time, if yesterday was an amazing day and you've got an incredible amount of stuff done and you were really focused and you really had an amazing prayer day, those ashes, they also get dumped outside the camp you that today the, the proof of how today is gonna go is how today is going to go. Nothing about yesterday affects or reflects or is a precursor to how today is going to go. And that insight from the religious context is one that I think is, is something that I can use a lot in, uh, in my it work, whether it's writing or whether it's giving a talk or, uh, Steven, to your point, having a, you know, going in and doing another video. It doesn't matter if yesterday's video was a complete train wreck, you know, flaming dumpster fire today is a different day to record. It might be a different date to record what I did yesterday poorly, all over again because we can do that, but it's, it's not in any way reflective of what happened yesterday. Um, and that allows me to break free or get clear of the bad feeling from the day before.
Josh: 46:19 I love that. That is beautiful.
Leon: 46:21 Any final words, final comments, final insights that you want to share before we wrap this up?
Josh: 46:25 Crossfit is still a cult.
Leon: 46:27 [Hysterical laughing]
Steven: 46:31 With that, thank you guys for having me this time. I, Leon, thank you for staying on me to ultimately get me get beyond here and the do, uh, do one of these sessions with you guys. Um, I, I will definitely try to make it, uh, more in the future.
Doug: 46:46 And my final insight is if you're having a bad day, it's probably you.
Leon: 46:53 Nah, I'm good!t
Doug: 46:53 Nine Times out of 10, if I'm having a bad day, it's me and I just need to, I mean, and the good thing about that is if I'm having a bad day, nine times out of 10, it's me. And if there's one thing I can change, it's me.
Josh: 47:06 Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of Technically Religious. Visit our website, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect with us on social media.
Leon: 47:19 A wise person once said, don't let a bad day make you feel bad about yourself.
Steven: 47:24 That was Grover Grover. Grover, from Sesame Street.

S1E24: God-as-a-Service: Our Religion as the Codebase - part 2

S1E24: God-as-a-Service: Our Religion as the Codebase - part 2

August 20, 2019

There's an old joke (and a famous website) comparing programming languages to religions, but the analogy is truer than it might seem at first blush. Logic structures are everywhere in scripture. Pair programming strongly resembles the intensive 2-person style learning found in all orthodox Jewish Yeshivot.In part 2 of this conversation, we continue to explore how your religion - the one you grow up with or grow into - is very much like a module you've inherited as a code owner. Listen or read the transcript below.

Leon: 00:00 This is a continuation of the discussion we started last week. Thank you for coming back to join our conversation.

Josh: 00:06 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate it. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as it professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is Technically Religious.

Leon: 00:29 Um, I'm curious about, uh, again, some of the things, you know, the ways that we look at this, for example, uh, with consequences. You know, if you, if you do, if you are that cowboy coder and you break that module, you say, "Ah, I can write a better one of these and I can...", You know, and all of a sudden what happens? Like the entire code is an operable and I think that religion has a similar thing. Somebody who comes in and says, uh, you know, I know that there's these religious tenants, but we don't have to do this thing that's not important anymore. And the whole thing falls apart.

Josh: 01:05 Hey, Mormon Mormonism had that.

Leon: 01:07 Okay. In what way?

Josh: 01:08 Well, so Mormonism was founded on the idea of a, of restorationism. Um, so that the, the idea of, um, truth had to be restored. And one of the truths that was restored by Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was the idea of, of polygamy. And that was carried on after his, his, uh, death, uh, murder martyrdom, however you wanna frame it, um, in a, in a jail. Um, and Brigham Young carried that on. So, you know, Joseph Smith had like 34 wives. Um, Brigham Young had 57, I think, some number like that, but when Utah wanted to become a state, um, the US government said there's no way. We are not letting a bunch of polygamists, um, uh, obtain statehood. So in, um, the mid 1890s, 1895, I think, um, Mormonism dropped polygamy. And when they did that, there was a huge rift that was established, uh, in the church. Um, there today there are Fundamentalists, uh, Mormons or Fundamentalist LDS, um, who still practice polygamy. Uh, even when Joseph Smith was, was killed, the idea was, you know, who's going to take over, um, the church split then the, um, his, his, uh, son Joseph Smith, the third cause Joseph Smith was actually Joe Smith Jr. So his son Joseph Smith, the third, um, started a, another religion. Um, so like these riffs, um, they, they happen and they tear apart, um, really good teams, you know. So again, you know, Mormonism had it right. It was as, "Hey, this thing works really well for us except for we're going to get rid of it..." And it breaks. So when you, when you do that within technology, when you do that within a programming language, when you fundamentally change the core of who a, of your technology, you can piss a lot of people off.

Patrick: 03:09 Nobody likes a fork.

Corey: 03:10 [Background] No!

Josh: 03:10 Nobody like soft fork.

Leon: 03:12 Oh, he took it. Okay.

Corey: 03:13 Yeah. Patrick got it. Before I could, yeah. This is, this sounds exactly like you're forking or branching off code eventually off of, you know, GitHub or do you think about just Linux in general? I mean, especially apropos with Josh, uh, talking earlier about, you know, being scared of Linux, you know, this is, this is exactly what Linux did. You have your Debian and you have Red Hat and you have Minz and you have Cinnamon. You have all of these things because everybody has said, oh I can do it better or I can do it, I'm going to do it differently. Or you know, and it's just this chain that comes on down. Our open source projects have this all also, I mean the number of times I've had, you know, to especially in my current job to hey this, this one feature works great man, I needed to do this other thing that I will, I'll just fork it and just use it for my own purposes.

New Speaker: 04:03 [inaudible].

Leon: 04:04 yeah.

Patrick: 04:05 Isn't that the point of theology really? Which is you have four different projects that are all forked from the same root. And there's a lot of people who will love to be opinionated and argue with you all day that their one particular implementation implementation is the one true and only implementation at anyone else who gets excited about anything else is obviously wrong. But the reality is that they are all forked from a common set of service requirements. And that th that really the point of theology is to establish some base, uh, almost, anti-patterns. Exactly. But a set of a set of common frameworks that everything else descends from and as long as you can see it from those original design requirements, then you don't have to worry so much about the specifics.

Leon: 04:54 Right. So I, yeah, I like that idea that, that religion in in one respect is establishing both patterns and anti-patterns and saying, you know, this, these are the things that work well and you know, or tend to work well and that's uh, based on observation of Millennia and the wisdom of the sages of the language that's doing it or the religion or whatever. And here's some anti-patterns that we've seen and here's why. So I think that that's, that's good. I was also thinking about, again, back to the idea of consequences that um, in code, you know, we talk about bad code and you know, uh, you know, the program just doesn't run, but that's not the worst thing that can happen when you run bad code. It can actually destroy the host system. You can actually do physical damage to the system with bad code. And you can certainly wreak havoc with data, with the, with the tribal knowledge of a corporation. With bad code, you can delete entire databases and you can, you know, you can really lose the essence of what's going on. And I think that people who try to take a religion or a religious, uh, philosophy living structure and then bend it to their will and change the foundational principles really do end up destroying the host system, in this case, the society. Um, and they have, you know, they have the risk of destroying the data that sit, that societal knowledge of how we do things, the, even the societal identity of who we are, um, that religion poorly implemented can have that, can have that consequence. Um, so I think that there's, that that similarity again of, as, as programmers, we know that there's actually a lot at stake if we, if we don't test, if we don't implement correctly, if we don't follow, you know, I would say proper procedures, best practices, that it's more than just, oh, your module didn't run, "Haha. Sucks to be you." Like we can really like mess up badly. Y2K is a great example of the potential risks of what could have happened.

Doug: 07:03 And one of the advantages that you get them is as coders because I can really mess things up. [Don't ask me how I know]. Um, but as a result, when you take that into, when I take that into my religious life, I'm careful with how I handle the attributes of my religion, the beliefs of my religion. I have been known in some conversations to go ahead and question people who were really, really solid in, uh, you know, in their belief of something that was wrong and really irritated some people. And, and I'm more careful about that now because I now know that I have got the capability to break things, to break people, to actually make their lives worse. Um, if I go ahead and use what I know about how my religion works, how my code works to essentially make it, make things break. So I'm really careful about drawing people out to make sure that they really are making a mistake. It used to be that I would assume that if something went wrong, it was probably somebody else on the team. I now assume it's me. I mean I'm in nine times out of 10, I'm right. But so I'm much, much more careful about how I do what I do in coding. But I'm also very careful about how I do what I do in my religious community cause I don't want to break that community.

Leon: 08:21 All right, so I'm going to ask you folks, cause you guys are, our programmers are real programmers on a Script Kiddie. Um, how often have you had this really elegant, really concise, incredibly compact piece of code that you realized you can't put into the final program? You need to expand it out, make it longer because you knew that the people who are going to come back later to troubleshoot weren't going to understand your super duper concise version. You needed to expand it a little bit and is not the code version of putting a stumbling block, stumbling block before the blind.

Doug: 09:00 Yes. Many times. I mean one of the, one of the tenets is the person who kind of come into code later. You're never going to be as smart as the person who wrote it in the first place. So you really need to write it for a dumber programmer cause that person coming later. Maybe you mean? Well now when I was teaching programming, I mean I actually had a really beautiful piece I used to call it, I was teaching c and it it would take a digital number and turned it into binary and it was like a two line recursive piece of code that was just, I mean I called it programming poetry. Um, none of my students got quite as excited about it as I did but it's nothing that I would ever put into a real piece of working, uh, code because most people have trouble understanding recursion to start with and this stuff was so spare that it just, you had to spend a half an hour just to finally grasp what it was saying. So the, the trick is to go ahead and find something that works but that regular people can understand as opposed to you on your most brilliant day.

Corey: 10:01 I mean we have a similar thing though in in Judaism. I mean you, you always think about there are patterns that we always, that we have to follow. We have these set lists of things, you know, uh, solid principles Uncle Bob Martin has yeah. That, that we follow and these are your journeys and we have ideas at the rabbis, you know, either you're added safeguards and those are pretty much what our design patterns...

Leon: 10:31 OK, right.

Corey: 10:31 ...are, this, these, these rules. And of course, one of the fundamental rules of this all is you're not putting a second one on top of one on top of another decree. Basically, you're not putting a pattern around another pattern that that's just, it's in and of itself, its own anti pattern.

Leon: 10:49 Right, right. You don't put a fence around a fence.

Corey: 10:51 Yes.

Patrick: 10:52 That would be nice and code. Yeah.

Leon: 10:54 Right. Because yeah. Too many layers of, of extra, um, ...

Corey: 10:58 Too many layers of that distraction. Yeah. I mean, as an example, I remember I was on a project where the, the project that the code was, the project was supposed to have been delivered six months earlier and the guy who was their architect had spent months just doing the architecture and he had over architected it to the point where even the simple html tag was its own function and it, it bogged down the system and it just made it so impossible to where it looked beautiful. But it was so impossible to work with and to actually create the code that no wonder this project was running so late.

Patrick: 11:41 OK, there are no, there are no zealots in software.

Speaker 6: 11:43 Okay. There shouldn't be. There are certainly are.

Patrick: 11:48 Right. Well, what if, and this goes back again to the kind of community aspect of great, like what if the best religions are the ones that are religions of attraction in the same way that the best projects are the ones that are project of attraction and there is no right or wrong, um, what there actually is as a sense of fellowship around a um, um, a goal. And that those projects which tend to drive the most engagement are the ones that are most welcoming and where there are this disparate set of voices, each with their own opinion. And there is no, you did this right, you did this wrong, you are an elder, you are new to this. And instead that the projects that are the most successful with technologies are the ones that build fervor, naturally because people are just excited to be a part of it, right? Like that. And that as the ultimate anti pattern that removing judgment from it and letting it be a project of attraction is the one that builds really healthy communities around a particular type of technology that actually survived.

Leon: 12:50 Right. And, and I'll also say that to your point about judgment, that uh, both religion and programming, um, individuals come, come to those groups and they say, I want to improve, I want to be better. But there's a really big responsibility and there's a, there's a dance that has to be done about giving correction. That, in religion, Doug, this goes back to your point about being careful about what you say and Patrick, what you just said about you know, about code, that if, if I invite someone to say, "Hey, can you evaluate my code? Can you, you know...?", I'd like you to look at my, you know, lifestyle, my choices and offer your perspective on it. That's an invitation. If that invitation is not extended, someone who offers uninvited their correction, whether it is code or religion, is really crossing a line and has a very real chance of driving that person away in both cases.

Patrick: 13:51 Right. I think, not to drop the observability word here, but I will...

Leon: 13:56 There we go!

Patrick: 13:57 So much of it ends up being like, how do you instrument a religion, right? Like, is it, are you looking at, you know, are you looking at latency? Are you looking at CPU utilization and memory? Right? Is it about how it affects the end user or is it about you? And like a, a bunch of really discrete metrics about the infrastructure. Because if you measure something, let's say, what is the 'peace' metric here? Right?

Leon: 14:20 Okay.

Patrick: 14:21 What is the faithfulness metric as opposed to, oh, I do the Hokey pokey and I turned myself around and I get up and I get down at the right times and I say all the magic right words. It's like where do you put the metric on it to determine whether it's doing the most good or not or whether it's the best for you or not. So there's an opportunity to uplevel. I think we tend to get way too granular into the practice instead of the outcome. Oh, and I'm talking about code now in technology, but yeah, I mean like putting, putting metrics in place that are not sort of minimum acceptable performance metrics, but instead like, where's the delight here? Where's the thing where we're going to move forward? And those tend to be more crowdsourced, end-user focuses. And not so much about everyone who's already converted or everyone who's already practicing the right way. But like people who were new to it. Like is this actually something that a community would want people that would be attractive and would draw people to it? Or is it insular and it actually excludes people? Or it makes you feel like you're always trying to catch up, uh, because you're afraid of being judged?

Leon: 15:23 Right. But I will say that in both religion and code, there's the aspect of people wanting to work hard at it. The, the joy doesn't mean that it caters to the lowest common denominator and makes everything easy and low risk and low work and low stress. That both religion and code work best when you're asking people or you're offering people an opportunity to grow. And that means sometimes facing some relatively uncomfortable elements of themselves, but not in a way that breaks them, It's in a way that strengthens them.

Patrick: 15:58 but aren't, they aren't the best projects. The ones where you can get to 'hello World!' 10 minutes after you, uh, get clone. Um, but also the ones that you can spend hours every night digging into the code base with more and more detail and opinion and history about why the thing ended up the way it was like aren't the best projects, the ones that are open that there is no idea of this person is an expert and this person isn't and it's accommodating to people who are interested in technology and excited about automation and learning how to, to really think beyond a prescription and get to the part where they're using their passion and it doesn't matter and you don't judge them for you, you welcome them to the project regardless of of their experience level?

Corey: 16:44 Yeah, I mean that's one of the key things that I, I've had to adopt being a team lead now at my company is I've got a number of developers who have far less experience than I do it. It's a matter of not just getting them up to speed and making sure that the team is enjoying the process and make sure everybody is excited. I mean, we work on the accounting module and accounting, you know, you can get kind of boring.

Leon: 17:12 It's not the sexiest module in the program.

Doug: 17:15 Hey, hey, hey, I like accounting.

Corey: 17:19 Yeah. I mean, Hey, I'm Jewish. I love counting money.

Leon: 17:21 Oh God!

Corey: 17:21 Also, don't get me wrong...

Leon: 17:23 Corey!

Patrick: 17:25 We should have video for all the head shaking.

Corey: 17:27 Do we have a legal department?

Leon: 17:32 [Groaning] OK, keep going

Corey: 17:32 But there is that, that, that element of having to bring people in and making sure everybody is taken care of. Then leading back to what Patrick was saying that I want to make, I need to make sure as as the team lead, that everybody's in the right place and everybody's in a good place for it and for this project to move forward and for us to all collectively get this across the line and get to the end where we're supposed to be.

Doug: 18:01 Evangelical Christianity when it's done right, in my opinion, of course, but because of course I know what's right, you know, uh, but evangelical Christianity when it's done right is both welcoming in the beginning, but has that ability to grow and your joy and everything increases over a period of time. Evangelical Christianity as it's portrayed generally in, uh, the media and in most people's minds is that whole judgmental hitting you with the Bible. You know, you're a terrible person judging the world. Uh, and it's unfortunate that, that, that's the impression it's gotten. But that's because there are a number of people who are Evangelical Christians who feel it's their job to fix the rest of the world. The reality is, it's like in the Christian world, we're not supposed to be judging the world. It's not our, that's not our bailiwick. It's not my job to go ahead and fix everybody else. We're, we're actually supposed to fix ourselves. You know, when you come into the Christian community, you're, you're essentially are guided by the community and to grow in that community, but your job is not to go ahead and fix everybody that's outside.

Leon: 19:13 Okay. So I think that puts to bed, uh, some of our ideas about the ways in which our religions are like our programming lives. But I don't think it's a perfect match. I think there are situations in which it does fall apart. Um, for example, we were talking about consequences, you know, of our choices. And while there are a lot of similarities, I don't believe that a core memory dump is the same as spending eternity in hell for those people who have such things. So, um, what are some ways in which our religions are not like programming? Where does this not stand up?

Doug: 19:46 With consequences?

Leon: 19:48 With anything.

Doug: 19:48 I'll tell you. Well No, I'm gonna say with consequences because the, there's a couple number one, 9 times out of 10, if you screw up in code, you know, like really soon. I mean, if you're working in a compiled language, it doesn't compile. If you're, you know, you run your tests, your tests fail. I mean, you find out right away. You can sin really badly in most religions. And it doesn't, the reason why we have televangelists that sleep with their secretaries for months and months is because you don't, God does not immediately hit you with the lightening bolt when you screw up. So the, the, the consequences in religion tend to come at a longer range and people being not quite as focused as they should be, might think that they got away with it. Uh, whereas programming is a lot. Um, it's, it's kinda in your face. Now. It is possible to have an era that doesn't show up for years later. You know, they do exist, but for the most part, if you screw up, it hits you in the face, right now.

Leon: 20:50 The feedback loop is much tighter. Okay.

Doug: 20:52 Really tight.

Corey: 20:53 The other thing is, I mean, we have, you don't have too many people bouncing between religions as much as you have people bouncing between coding languages. I mean, in a given day. Sure. I'm primarily a .Net developer, but I work with Angular. I've worked with, I work with SQL, all these different languages and you know, bouncing between them like, oh, this cool feature on this. Oh, this cool feature on that one. And so, you know, you don't really have that as far as the religious context goes.

Leon: 21:23 Fair enough. Okay.

New Speaker: 21:24 So I'm going to be adversarial here. I'm going to disagree with Corey and I'm going to agree with Patrick. I think that more and more in the world we're seeing people who are bouncing between a religious observance. Um, and, and Doug, I'm going to be a little oppositional with you as well. Um, if I, I think, I think people who are in high demand religions, um, have a very clo...or very tight feedback loop. Um, you know, so for example, within Mormonism, uh, in order to go to a Mormon temple and LDS temple, you are required to have a temple recommend. That is something that is issued to you every two years after you, uh, go through, uh, an interview process where there are, I think 12 questions that, uh, assess your, your spiritual and physical, uh, worthiness. Um, if you screw up, um, like, I guess I did when I said I didn't, I no longer believed they will revoke that, um, temple recommend. And you can no longer attend the temple. So there are definitely religious observances out there. Um, I call them high demand religions. And where there, there is a very tight feedback loop. Uh, Jehovah's Witnesses. If you are deemed unworthy by the Council of the Elders, um, you are shunned. Uh, and those are two between Mormonism and, uh, and Jehovah's Witnesses. Those are two that I'm very familiar with. So I, I think that, I mean, maybe there are some religions that are really like code and that the, that that feedback loop exists. Um, and so, I think fundamentally we have a problem here, uh, on this podcast and that is that we have self-selected some people that are rather altruistic, um, and have a very broad view on both religion and technology, right? What we need here are we need some very coarse fundamentalists. Um, some people who are very dogmatic.

Leon: 23:30 [Laughing]

Josh: 23:32 Um, I mean, maybe we're talking about going up to the Linux forums as Patrick suggested earlier.

Leon: 23:37 Oooo...

Multiple people: 23:37 Oh yeah. Oh,.

Leon: 23:39 I feel called out.

Patrick: 23:40 Okay. Apple forums.

Multiple people: 23:41 Apple, that's worse.

Josh: 23:45 [Laughing] It really, Oh, you know, we're, we're, we're talking about, um, in a very pragmatic and, uh, holistic way the way that we want religion to function. The reality though is if we look out into the world that's not the way that, that religion necessarily functions. Um, you know, there's a reason that there's a really bad church in Florida that, um, travels around the United States, uh, shaming and shun...., Shaming people for things that they do. And I'm not even going to mention their name cause I just don't like them. But those people are religious. And for those who are listening, I am air quoting, you know, my little heart out here. They are, they have a very profound religious observance but they would not fit in well with this group here.

Leon: 24:32 But I would, I wu... I would also argue that that flavor of whatever of lifestyle is exactly, we are talking about with consequences that a religion where you've changed the base tenants and you've started to really veer away can actually do damage in the same way that code can ruin, you know, a societal structure or it religion can ruin a societal structure that your code can ruin your data structures. Um, I wouldn't call that a[n] effective or even a legitimate, uh, religious expression, and I've realized that I've alienated them and I'm okay with that. Um, I would, I would also say.

Doug: 25:12 They're not going to like you!

Leon: 25:12 that's fine. I'm good with that. I, I consider that a plus. Um, I also think that, um, to a few points that were brought up, the bouncing between religions, I think that there's a difference between people who bounce between basically, I won't say fundamentally, but basically Christian religions going from, uh, and, and I'm going to, I'm going to express in betray my lack of nuance when it comes to Christianity as a whole. So feel free to dog pile on me if I'm really wrong on this one.

Corey: 25:45 [Background] You're wrong!

Leon: 25:45 Thank you! That, I want to point out the other Jew just did that, but um, to say that, to say that, you know, bouncing from say Presbyterian to, uh, to um, Catholic to something else is a lot different than bouncing from Buddhism to Judaism to Hinduism that, that you're really, you know, those are some radical shifts, but you can have somebody who bounces from say Perl to C# to say Delphi and you know, very gracefully goes between those,...

Patrick: 26:24 What if it's not about the language at all, right? Maybe it's about what if it's about service requirements, right? And that the demarcation, um, much like with an app server where it's requests come in and then the code itself is abstracted by whatever happens on the back end. And so what the requesting client sees a request and they see latency and they see data completeness or resiliency or availability. These are all things that they see. And then the actual code behind it, the, the design patterns, the way that it was compiled, the unit tests that were part of that acceptance delivery, the way that it was deployed, all of that is concealed to the end user, right? So what if at the end of the day, it really is just about the services that you deliver and that the way that way we choose individually to make the sausage that delivers that service don't matter. What if it really is about the service delivery and that taking yourself and your theology and your dogma out of that interface is what actually delights users, is what actually encourages people around you to hang out with you, to engage in conversation and the rest of it, and so that taking that whole idea of opinionated platform, judgment, patterns, correctness away in the same way with application delivery, is the goal. It's how do we measure whether people actually enjoy engaging with us and they don't need the details. And in fact the details distract from an opportunity to have a great interaction and to do, to leave the world a better place than it was. That the details do matter and they matter, especially in terms of being concealed or at least not being forward with the details and said being forward with the service delivery. Not with the details.

Josh: 28:07 Listen, We can't ever have Patrick back on the show. I am just going to say that right now. He is far too levelheaded.

Leon: 28:13 [Laughing]

New Speaker: 28:13 Uh, yeah. Sorry Patrick.

Patrick: 28:17 Well listen, I think about, I think about technology literally 90% of the time, the fervent and my handle. There's no joke about that, but I'm not kidding. I spend probably the remaining 10% of my time thinking about cosmology and theology and morality and the rest of it. Like "Why am I here?" I mean like the whole point of, of, of religion is that we evolved an organ of our brain that is designed to engage mysticism that allows us to go beyond, you know, being 12 years old and realizing our mortality and you know, as a cave person jumping off of a rock because you realize that this whole thing is eventually gonna come to an end. So you have to put something in there like the human experience is about mysticism. So like you're, I don't want to say you're picking a flavor and putting something in there, but like recognizing that it's about that user interface that's for the, the great faiths, the great religions that have been around for a long time. Theologies that that thought, whether it's theologies or it's um, uh, software approaches that were year in and year out. Like if you look at some really great Cobol coders from back in the day and you compare to the code that, that a lot of people are writing now and feel like no one has ever followed this pattern before. Of course we have that. It's that it's really about that longterm goal. And it's really about delivering services. Not about the patterns, the specific patterns that you use or the words that you say or the the verb tokens that you use or how it's compiled, or is it interpreted that doesn't matter. It's like what happens after the demarc point. Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of technically religious visit our website, where you can find our other episodes. Leave us ideas for future discussions and connect to us on social media.

Corey: 30:01 .Net!

Patrick: 30:02 Go but optimized for Google, so GoLang.

Doug: 30:06 Delphi.

Leon: 30:08 Perl!

New Speaker: 30:08 Guys, guys, please, can we just unite against our common enemy?

All: 30:12 Php!


S1E23: God-as-a-Service: Thinking of Our Religion as a Codebase

S1E23: God-as-a-Service: Thinking of Our Religion as a Codebase

August 13, 2019

There's an old joke (and a famous website) comparing programming languages to religions, but the analogy is truer than it might seem at first blush. Logic structures are everywhere in scripture. Pair programming strongly resembles the intensive 2-person style learning found in all orthodox Jewish Yeshivot. And you can say that your religion - the one you grow up with or grow into - is very much like a module you've inherited as a code owner. As Patrick Hubbard, our guest on this episode, says, "It's a balance of acceptance, idealism, reverence and challenging architectural decisions made long ago." Listen or read the transcript below.

Doug: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh - or at least not conflict - with our religious life. This is Technically Religious.

Leon: 00:24 There's an old joke and a famous website comparing programming languages to religions, but the analogy is truer than it might seem at first blush. Logic structures are everywhere in scripture. Pair programming strongly resembles the intensive two person style learning found in all orthodox Jewish yeshivot. And you can say that your religion, either the one you grow up with, or the one you grow into is very much like a module you've inherited as a code owner. As Patrick Hubbard, one of our guests today says, "It's a balance of acceptance, idealism, reverence, and challenging architectural decisions made long ago." I'm Leon Adato and the other voices you're going to hear on this episode are my cohost and partner in internet crime, Josh Biggley.

Josh: 01:02 Hello,

Leon: 01:03 Doug Johnson.

Doug: 01:04 Hello

Leon: 01:05 Cory Adler.

Corey: 01:06 Klaatu barada nikto, Leon

Leon: 01:09 And my fellow Head Geek at SolarWinds, Patrick Hubbard.

Patrick: 01:12 Hey, Leon. It's good to hear ya.

Leon: 01:14 And it's good to have everyone here.

Leon: 01:16 Um, so the first thing we want to do before we dive into the topic at hand is give everyone a moment for shameless self promotion. Um, so Patrick, why don't you lead us off?

Patrick: 01:25 Yeah, so I'm also a head Geek at SolarWinds, which looks like dev advocacy pretty much anywhere else. Uh, you can find me on Twitter at @FerventGeek. Uh, that's probably the best way to find me. I am in too many places on YouTube and a bunch of other stuff because I didn't run away when they broke the cameras out. I'm not sure that I'd make that choice again if I could. And I am a Episcopalian, which means I'm a Christian, but not necessarily the kind that most people know because we're super progressive and we're kind of on a timeout from England right now.

Leon: 01:55 [Laughing] Okay, great. Doug, how about you?

Doug: 01:58 I'm CTO at Wave RFID, a startup that I started up with my business partner at the age of 60 something. How stupid is that? Uh, it can be found on Twitter at, at @DugJohnson or you can email me at I'm an Evangelical Christian, but not one of those in your face hitting you with the Bible kind of people. But I will talk with you all day long if you, uh, want to have that conversation.

Leon: 02:20 Uh, Corey, why don't you go next.

Corey: 02:22 Hi, I'm Corey Adler, the constant pain in Leon's side, but during the day I am a team lead engineer at Autosoft. You can find me on the Twitter at @CoryAdler and much like Yechiel and Leon, I am an Orthodox Jew. However, I prefer to call myself the Jew, extraordinary

Leon: 02:38 Dah, Dah, Dah. Okay. And as I, as I introduced earlier, Josh Biggley is one of the cofounders of the Technically Religious podcast. Josh, tell us who you are and where you're from.

Josh: 02:48 Uh, so I'm a senior engineer responsible for enterprise monitoring. Um, I'm a wanna be a Head Geek. Is that a thing? [Multiple voices: It's a thing!] You can find me on Twitter at @jbiggley. I'm also with my wife, uh, the cofounder of a new website called It's for folks who uh, who are having a, uh, a faith crisis changing their faith. Uh, just a place for there to be a safe place for there to be community. Uh, I am currently a post-Mormon, ex-Mormon, um, former Mormon, whatever. Not Mormon anymore.

Leon: 03:27 Got It. Okay. Um, and just a reminder to everyone who's listening that there will be links to everybody's information and any of the things that we mentioned during this episode in the show notes. So no, no need to scribble madly. Um, also these episodes are transcribed for people who may not speak English as a first language or are deaf or hearing impaired or just like to read more than they like to listen.

Corey: 03:49 And study for the pop quiz later.

Leon: 03:52 And Yeah, you can study for the pop quiz and my name again is Leon Adato. I am also a Head Geek at SolarWinds. You can find me on the Twitters @leonadato or on my blog, And I'm also an Orthodox Jew. Um, so I want to dive right into this. So the idea of, when we were talking about this episode, we talked about it as, you know, God as a Service or looking at our religion as code. Let's, let's unwind that a little bit. What are we, what are we saying really when we say looking at our religion, like we look at it as code.

Josh: 04:27 I mean I, I want to start off by, by reading the, um, reference on blog dot I don't even know how to say that.

Leon: 04:39 Aegisub

Josh: 04:39 It'll be, don't worry. The link will be there. Right? So, so this is, this is a post that I have laughed over since you brought it to my attention last year. I feel like I saw before but didn't remember it. And I was, as I was reading it today, I was howling with laughter inside because, so here's the entry for Mormonism and it is if you're Mormon or Post-Mormon or Ex-Mormon, you know that this applies to you. So C sharp (C#) would be Mormonism. All right? Okay. I don't code in C#, but that's okay. So at first glance it's the same as Java, but at a clo- at a closer look, you realize that it's controlled by a single corporation, which many Java followers believe to be evil. And that may, uh, that it may contain a theological concepts that are quite different. You suspect that it's probably the, it's probably, uh, sorry. You suspect that it probably be nice if only all the followers of Java wouldn't discriminate so much against you for following it. For context, Java is Fundamentalist Christianity. So Doug, [Leon laughing] you know? Yeah. Why? That's just the way that it works.

Leon: 05:50 Okay.

Corey: 05:50 That's scarily accurate.

Doug: 05:52 I mean, and the reality is the guy behind C# is the guy who is behind Delphi, which is the other language that I, so there ya are. It just all comes together.

Leon: 06:01 It all just comes together. So, right. So again, I think it makes it makes a cute joke, right? Um, and I think looking at our programming languages that we love as religions is one thing. But looking at our religions through the context of what we know as programmers I think is another. So again, I just want to, I want to try to unwind that for people who are listening. What do we mean when we say that?

Patrick: 06:24 Okay. But hold on a second. I think the Delphi analogy is good and I once upon a time wrote an awful lot of Delphi and you could almost say it in a sort of descendant, um, way that Delphi was great because it was fun, right? It sat on top of the full Win32 API. It linked down to the compiler language that uh, a Borland C++ used. So it was super efficient. So when you transition to C#, and I was also all Java for a long time and when I changed jobs I was like, yeah, I'll hold my nose and do this C# thing for awhile. But it was fun in the same way. And so I think a lot of times with religions, a big part of it is like, are there, are there tenants here or there are there echoes and reminders of something from when I was younger or that was easy at the time. So I'm not sure that that analogy of something that you encounter once and then there's the better version and iterative period and then all of a sudden you find yourself in it later. Definitely with technology it works out that way.

Patrick: 07:22 Okay, awesome. So that, that gives a piece of it. Um, anyone else want to take a swipe at why we're doing this today? What, how, how is it that we look at our religions through the lens of code?

Doug: 07:32 Oh, they are in the world of code, there are ways that you do things. There are it, there, there are certain things that any language has to do to be a language. And there are also certain things that any religion has to do to be a religion. I mean, any religion that doesn't deal with how you run your life and uh, ethics and how we relate to each other as a person wouldn't be much of a religion. Uh, any piece of code that can't handle a four loop or a, uh, be able to go ahead and handle stuff or go to a procedure or have a goto [pause] kidding!

Leon: 08:08 [Laughter]

Corey: 08:11 Oh, you scared me there for a second.

Doug: 08:13 Oh, come on. You guys are being too good.

Leon: 08:16 Okay. Any religion that has a construct that you never, ever, ever want to use because it's horrible

Patrick: 08:22 and that it's always going to be the one you're going to use over and over.

Doug: 08:25 Oh, you know what I would say most regions religions would have, I can certainly give you some constructs in Christianity I never, ever, ever want to hear about

Leon: 08:34 Anyone else want to take a swipe at it.

Josh: 08:35 I'm struck by the, um, by the nature of code and religion, um, in that code doesn't play well together. So it's not like you can, um, start using Java and then go, Oh, I'm just going to throw some, you know, some commands in here from, you know, Golang or something. Uh, I mean, I know that you, there are, are, are certain languages that you can do that with, but if you're going to develop an entire, uh, project using Java, you're going to want to minimize things that are not part of, you know, mainstream Java. Religion to me feels kind of like that the same way. There are things that they, on the surface they look like, "Oh yes, these things all make sense!". Yes, there is a god. Yes, these are constructs that help us to, you know, act a certain way and behave a certain way and do certain things. But when you start to pull things apart, you realize that the way that religion is assembled, the way that it's put together is very different. Much like, you know, hey, you can, you can develop our front end app and it looks like it's doing all the same things, but you start to pull it apart and you realize that the pieces that go in to making that application don't look at all the same. Um, so I don't know, I'm not a developer at all, but I, I feel like things just don't fit together well when it comes to religion. You know, we see that we see an awful lot of conflict in the world. Um, you know, in a, in a prior life, uh, you know, Doug and I sitting down in the same room would have resulted in one of us being hit with a Bible. Um, I'm feeling it's probably me, um, being hit, but you know, you understand what I'm saying, right? It's, this isn't religion and, and code. I mean, it's a, it's a Battle Royale sometimes and it just doesn't need to be.

Leon: 10:27 Okay.

Patrick: 10:28 Well, but how much of that is, how much of that is the religion and how much of it is spirituality? Because if, if, to me, spirituality is sort of the platform as a service here, right? Like it's the set of cloud native service primitives that, that everything else is built on. So that would be a..

Leon: 10:44 I like that its a cloud native. Like it just works so well. Oh, keep going, keep going.

Patrick: 10:48 No, the point of the Cloud is we're going to deconstruct everything into a set of service parameters and it's up to you to put it together, right? So then the question is, do you come at it dogmatically and say, "Okay, I'm gonna use only cloud native technologies!" Or "I'm gonna lift and shift from, um, a set of monolithic applications that have made me feel good for the last 30 years." And if there's anything that's opinionated in religious, it must surely be monolithic applications. Um, but underneath it, it's things like mindfulness and it's forgiveness and it's awareness and it's how does this fit in with cosmology and the, the basic tenants of that? Like what is spirituality? I think maybe that's the thing that maybe aligns more with technology and then almost the religion itself ends up being kind of the dogmatic argument if thing that you see in a Linux forum, right? Talking about talking, you know, where people will literally wish they could get in a car and go fight each other over a pattern implementation. But the reality is that the, the commonality is more about those, those base services and then we layer on all of this opinionated, uh, uh, dogmatism that distracts us from the, the core of it.

Doug: 11:56 right? I don't disagree with you, but by the same token, in the wonderful world of religion, you can have all of these wonderful, uh, in touch with the world and all that kind of stuff. But you know, the, the, the real acey-spacey kind of stuff that you tend to get with people who don't have a specific religion, they just, they're in touch with their spiritual feels, they actually accomplish very little and in the world of programming, while we can all get down to the core constructs of going ahead and working directly against the metal if we want. The reality is until you pick a language, you hardly ever get anything done and it's until you've got a team of all of a bunch of people all working with the same code base, working with the same language, working together, that's when you actually accomplish stuff. So while there are similar, while there is that base that's behind it all, you don't get much done if you sort of stay off in the sort of loose commonality area. It's only when you get into specifics that things start to happen.

Leon: 12:50 Okay, and I just want to jump in here for, for the listeners and for us and say that is at the heart of this episode, which is as programmers we can take our sensibilities as/programmers and then look at it and look at our religion and say, this is, this is the similarity. This is where I can actually deepen my experience of my religious point of view by bringing my technical, my programming sensibilities to it. So that's what this episode is about and we've already started to dive into it. So I want to keep going with this. Um, and really get into some of the specifics. So with all of that said, with that framework laid down, how are, in what ways do you find that our religions are similar to programming languages and/or code? Again, how do we bring our programming sensibility to the table and say, ah, now I can appreciate my religion so much more because of this or that or the other thing. What are some things that strike you?

Corey: 13:50 I mean, just the general structure of it all. I mean, religions, organized religions in particular are always very structured, you know? Yeah. I have especially, I mean, you could speak to Orthodox Judaism. We have to go to the services three times a day and you know, and we have to on the sabbath. We have few certain things that we can do, things we can do. The, the, the structure in general of this is how you run your life is always there. We're there and it's something that in code, I mean you understand that there are certain commands that you're going to do. There's that and you understand what programmatically, what that is going to do.

Leon: 14:24 So thou shall declare your variables before using them?

Corey: 14:27 I've tried to teach you that too many times.

Leon: 14:30 [Laughing] Okay!

Patrick: 14:30 Wouldn't it be nice if there was a religious linter that took care of the analysis beforehand?

Doug: 14:36 But that it is the same thing happens in my loosey Goosey Christianity there it's, it's, while there are rules that we don't have the very strict rules of course, because we're forgiven of everything, right? Okay. But if you actually, "Hey, you know, doesn't matter what you do, you get forgiven and just go ahead and take care of these sins and you're done!" Okay? But the reality is when we go to the service, there's the opening, then there's this many songs. Then, I mean, there's a way that we do it every single time and there's that structure that we expect. And boy, Heaven help you. If you should go ahead and you know, put the sermon first cause people are arriving late, who don't want to miss miss that, the big band in the beginning. And if they missed the sermon, boy they would be on your head. So there's just, again, there's that standard structure even in the loosey-goosey that uh, it makes it work interesting.

Josh: 15:29 So I want to build off this idea that's a, that's come, um, that there's, there are differences and similarities between religion. Being the non programmer of the group here. Um, because my God is Google and that's, that's how I survive. Um, I'm, I think that the missing element we have here is a scrum master or a project manager. We've talked about this idea that religion has rules, that we are a, that we have to follow. We've also talked about how programming languages have constructs that we have to follow. But if you don't have someone who is enforcing those rules or who is, um, setting out the paradigm in which you need to participate, then how do you know that you're doing what the other people need to do? So Doug, to your point, if you don't get people all on the same platform, if they're not all using the same, uh, you know, the same version, right? You know, if you're using a Python and you're using 2.7, so is last two dot release?, uh, versus python three, I mean, they kind of look a lot alike, but they're not going to.., there's going to be some, uh, some discord there. So I, I, I feel like, at least for me, if I, if, if I were to come in and be a programmer, I would want that. Um, I would want that scrum master. I would want that project manager. Interestingly enough, within Mormonism there is a scrum master. Um, and some people are going to say, well, yeah, "Sure, Josh, the scrum master is Jesus!" Uh, wrong answer. The scrum master is actually the president and, and a prophet of the Church who today is Russell M. Nelson. He is, uh, the, the sole, um, well he is the corporate soul. So he owns everything within the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints. He is also The Voice. So what he says is Gospel. Um, I mean, I don't know if you guys look at your scrum masters or your project managers and maybe the same way that Mormons look at Russell M. Nelson, but that's the construct, right? There has to be somebody who says, here's how things are going to operate. Here are the rules.

Patrick: 17:51 Okay? But what if Git is a guide here? And not to invoke the obvious, but the whole point of being decentralized, right? Being, um, a set of practices that allows people to collaborate. And I think GoLang there is a, uh, something to be said for if you make the right thing to do, uh, the easy thing to do, people will do the right thing. Like what if it's not about adhering to a judgment that's external, but instead the thing that's great about a great technology or a great language is, is, is one where interacting with it daily, when you look back in hindsight, you feel like you did the right thing, but it never felt like it was prescriptive. Or you were worried that you weren't adhering to a set of programming standards or was that completely annoying architect? It was always about code standards and you're like, "I just hacked the most amazing thing ever and you're going to go on a 15 minute diatribe about the way that I did my comments?". Right? Well what if the best faiths are the ones where you find that you intrinsically live them without necessarily having to go back to requirements documents every time, that they, the the right thing to do is the easy thing to do. And instead it's something that you collectively do as a part of community as opposed to being something where you're worried that the scrum masters kind of assign you a code branch that you really don't want to deal with.

Leon: 19:10 Okay. So I'm going to, I'm going to jump in on that whole scrum master idea and project manager idea. Cause I think in Judaism there's a slightly different structure. And the good part is I've got Corey here with me because there's a role in shul, um, in synagogue called the Gabbai. Uh, and the Gabbai is the person who really makes sure that every service is running as demanded as, as it needs to. So, Corey I'll let you...

Patrick: 19:36 So basically it's Cron

New Speaker: 19:38 uh, well more than that, I'll let Cory, I'll let Corey dive into it.

Corey: 19:42 So, the analogy I use, let's use all the time for being, the Gabbai, he is a, he's like a bartender and a great party. You don't notice the bartender unless he screws up the drink.

Leon: 19:53 Okay.

Corey: 19:54 Very similar fashion. The Gaba gets cause people to leave the service, makes sure everything is running on time, make sure nobody uses, you know, growing up at the podium, you know, and,

Leon: 20:09 But also you, the Gabbai knows what day it is and what special elements of the service have to be observed, whether that's a normative weekday or a normative Shabbat or a special holiday. But also that, um, this person has a special event in their life. For example, if there's a groom in the, uh, in the room or somebody whose a child is having a circumcision, then certain parts of the service are not said. But the Gabbai's job is to notice that, and say, "Oh!, we skipped this part!" and everyone says "What?!?" So the Gabbai really is that project manager role. I think, you know, in a large way I could be wrong, but...

Patrick: 20:49 So a project manager, not a lead developer?

Corey: 20:53 Uhh, I mean especially from an agile perspective, I was, I would disagree with that.

Leon: 20:57 Fine.

Corey: 20:59 Umm, from an Agile perspective, the project, the product manager is, you know...

Patrick: 21:03 Well, cause where I was going with that was a more like a, you know Julie the cruise director, right? Not actually a part of your experience, just making sure that you have a fantastic experience. Basically like a Doula.

Leon: 21:13 Right.

Corey: 21:14 [Laughing] I like that!

Patrick: 21:15 It's the, it's the leader behind the scenes in a situation where you're not supposed to have a leader.

Corey: 21:20 So I would disagree about that from an agile perspective where the product manager is really is one informing the team of what needs to be worked on and what needs to be done now versus the Gabbai who is just almost letting everything just flow naturally. Everybody already knows what they're supposed to be doing in the service is just making sure that you know, the i's are dotted, the t's are crossed, you know, not to use the pun or anything because this is a religious podcast.

Leon: 21:55 Oh my gosh! [Laughing] "The 'T's are crossed". Oh no! Okay, keep going, moving on. Nothing to see here.

Corey: 22:04 But and so the Gabbai is more, is more of an over, is it more of an overseer rather than actually dictating what the product is.

Leon: 22:15 Okay,

Patrick: 22:16 So they're providing governance.

Corey: 22:17 Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Leon: 22:18 All right. Okay. That works.

Doug: 22:20 And to a certain extent, I mean, again, while it would be great, you know that you're sitting there doing code and the code is perfect and the language allows you to do it and you're having a wonderful time and all that kind of stuff. You do still need that outside governance. In the evangelical community, it's going to be your elders and your deacons. But basically what it comes down to is, you can have a really crappy programmer coming in and just having a wonderful, wonderful time and they think they're doing great and they're just messing up everything. That's why everybody hates PHP so much is because the, you know, anybody can program in PHP and unfortunately anybody does. So you then need somebody, the scrum master, in this case, a code reviews, any kind of where to go ahead and help them get back on the track and hopefully, uh, to go ahead and write better code or to essentially be a little closer to the rules of the religion, which are there, one expects, for a reason.

Josh: 23:19 Just so everyone understands, Doug and I have never worked together. So when he talks about crappy programmers, he's not talking about me.

Leon: 23:28 [Laughing] And, and just to be clear, Doug and I have worked together, so if he's talking about crappy programmers, he's probably talking about me.

Doug: 23:35 Actually, Doug's worked on enough teams that he has had enough crappy programmers in his life. He's talked to a lot of them. But you know, one of, as in the case being a senior Dev, one of, one of my jobs as a senior Dev or in my current role as CTO, is to go ahead and help my, uh, new developers to go ahead and become better developers to effectively become a senior developer. In fact, one of the best things that you know has happened to me is one of the guys that I coached at, the last place that I was at is now a senior Dev at his current job. He didn't have it when he didn't have it when I met him. And he did have it when he left. So I'm not taking, obviously he had the capability, but he needed guidance. And that's what, in evangelical Christianity, the elders and deacons are supposed to do. They don't, they don't beat you up around the head and the shoulder, but when they find that you're drifting, when you're going in a direction that's not good for you or the community, they guide you back into the path.

Leon: 24:39 Okay. And, and we've also started to hit on another point that I think there's a commonality between, uh, programming and our religious life, which is the idea of consequences. So what are your thoughts? Like what, how are the consequences in, in our coding lives? How does that inform our experience of consequences in religion or vice versa?

Josh: 25:00 So when we jump into this idea of cost consequences, I want to touch on something that really falls in line with what Doug was just talking about. And maybe it's something that we all have as a blind spot here because, um, to some extent or another, we have a religious observance. But when, when we don't work well on a team, whether we're talking about, um, uh, an agile team or, um, a religion, there are times in our lives where being part of a religion is really problematic for us. There are people who cannot function within, um, the constructs that we want them to function in. And I don't know exactly how to draw this completely back to, um, to programming because I'm not a programmer, but there are people...

Doug: 25:48 It's called cowboy coding!

Josh: 25:50 [Laughing] Cowboy coding!

Doug: 25:51 It is that they exist and it's a problem. These are people who do not work well on a team and they do what they want. They're called Cowboy coders

Corey: 25:59 Or Bro-grammers

Leon: 25:59 Or Bro-grammers.

Josh: 26:02 Well, and I think it's, it's even more than that though, right? This sometimes there is a system that um, you just don't work well and um, and it may take a long time for you to recognize the value of that. Um, for example, for an awful long time I was a Windows only guy. Man, Linux scared their crap out of me because like there are weird words in it. It's like...

Patrick: 26:27 There's no pictures.

Josh: 26:29 Like people make up funny names. Right? Exactly. And I'm, I'm complete. I was completely flabbergasted by it. It just seemed weird and I was compelled to have to learn a Linux and I mean, somebody on this call used to work for the same company I worked for, wrote some code that I still have to look at on occasion. I mean, I'm just pointing and saying Leon, I mean, not, not saying Leon, not saying Leon.

Leon: 26:59 [Laughing] Right? Yeah. There we go.

Josh: 27:02 These, these times, right? These times where we realize we have to step away from the thing that we were comfortable with and do something else. Um, that is for me is very much a very close to my heart. Right? Um, there are times when religion just does not work to construct those, those elders out, those deacons to use Doug's terminology, they have failed in their role and you step away from that. Um, and that's okay. Like you, you don't, to go back to what Patrick was talking about, you don't have to keep programing in Delphi just because it's the thing that brought you joy in 1996. Um, it's 2019 pick a new language.

Patrick: 27:39 Cool. And I think that's something you're hitting on. Um, the thing that we all forget, right, is that I think everyone, when they are using the language of choice or if they're using the particular faith of choice or let's say religion of choice, is that you, I think a lot of people feel like, oh, this was just destined. I of course have just found myself in the best, most amazing thing ever. But the reality is, yeah, everyone went shopping once upon a time. People selected that and we forget that. And so like when you're looking at, um, especially with Go, um, your, your browsing GoLang libs or you're out looking at GitHub and what are you looking for, right? You're looking for fellowship, right? Like how many contributors are there? How long has this project been, uh, in, in, in a process? How many people are providing updates? How many comments on it? When was the last time the code was updated? So you know, basically how full is the parking lot, right? Right. So you, you, you, you did once upon a time make a choice. And I think part of the, the key is to remember that you should revisit that on a regular basis. Don't ever like just decide, well, this is who I am, this is what I am. I'm never gonna look at it again because then you don't own it. Right? So maybe, maybe that's that going back to the platform as a service thing, but like just with like with code, go back to how many people really actually enjoy this. Ah, do I trust the people who are contributing to the, uh, sub, uh, projects that are a part of this code? Am I willing to dive in and really dig through it? Like what was it? Never decide, "Okay, I'm settled." Like, whatever got you to that thing, that process should be good just as it was with picking a library or hey, there's four to choose from, so the other three have about the same number of, uh, same number of contributors. So what's wrong with the other three? Nothing.

Leon: 29:24 I like that. And again, using that sensibility from our programming lives and reapplying it to our religion and saying, well, I do this with my programming. You know, I'm not afraid to do this, to reevaluate my programming. It must really joke about programming languages or like religions, you know, "There's the one true language!" You know. The fact is, is that we are very comfortable when it's time to move on or when we do declared that a language is not suitable for this particular project. It doesn't necessarily shake our world and using that comfort to say, you know what, I'm just going to take a minute. I'm going to think about this religious tradition I, I was born into or grew up into and say, "Am I still there? Is that still me?" I like that idea.

Leon: 30:05 We know you can't listen to our podcast all day. So out of respect for your time, we've broken this particular conversation up. Come back next week and we'll continue our conversation.

Josh: 30:15 Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of technically religious visit our website,, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions, and connect with us on social media.

Doug: 30:29 .Net!

Patrick: 30:30 Go but optimized for Google, so GoLang

Doug: 30:34 Delphi

Leon: 30:35 Perl!

Josh: 30:35 Guys, guys, please, can we just unite against our common enemy?

All: 30:41 PHP!

S1E22: Convention-aly Religious, part 3

S1E22: Convention-aly Religious, part 3

August 6, 2019

Last year CiscoLive overlapped with Ramadan which was not a lot of fun for the Muslim attendees. This year it conflicts with Shavuot, requiring observant Jews who planned to attend to arrive a week in advance. Add those challenges to the normal stress an IT person with a strong religious, moral, or ethical POV has: finding a place to pray, navigating how "outwardly" they want to present as a religious person (and if that's even a choice), managing work-mandated venue choices for food and "entertainment" that push personal boundaries, etc, and it's a wonder we're able to make convention attendance work at all. In part 2 of this discussion, I continue the conversaion with Mike Wise, Al Rasheed, and Keith Townsend about how they make conventions not only possible, but a positive experience religiously as well as professionally. Listen or read the transcript below.

Josh: 00:01 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have is people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as it professionals mesh - or at least not conflict - with our religious life. This is Technically Religious.

Leon: 00:23 This is a continuation of the discussion we started last week. Thank you for coming back to join our conversation.

Leon: 00:29 I think there's another thing. So Mike, you were talking about being, you know, visibly openly religious and I think that sometimes, again for variety of reasons, uh, they decide that this is their opportunity to sort of poke the bear. You know, like, "Oh, you're, you're one of those religious people. So! What do you think about the <blahblahblah>?", right? Whatever it is. And you know, we don't even need to get into the specifics of it, but they just want to see... There's, there's a respectful conversation and, and we'll talk about that in a little bit, about some, some of the wonderful opportunities, conventions offer us to have deep, really meaningful philosophical conversations. But there's also these, which is where someone is clearly, you know, "oh, you're religious. Well, fine, answer me this."

Mike: 01:18 Right. You know, if you're so religious, you know, uh, you know, gee on the Statue of Liberty it says, bring me your tired and poor and you know, and then so you don't, you don't, uh, believe in all of this, you know, preventing immigration, right?

Keith: 01:37 Yeah. Or the or it'll be, the more lighthearted stuff. You know, I get teased on, so my peers on The Cube, when Pat from VMware, uh, Pat Gelsinger is on and were like, "oh Keith, you, you and Pat are on together. You guys go to the same church. Right?"

Everyone: 01:56 (disbelief)

Speaker 3: 01:56 You know, cause pat is super, uh, transparent about his faith. So, you know, it's all in fun, but you know, they, you will get to this. But you know, I say no to certain events and things and uh, you know, so does Pat, or who, whomever else, you know everybody else on this, on this podcast and you know, you're going to get, you're going to get a ribbing about it.

Leon: 02:17 Right? Or Al, you know, "Come on, come on. You've had a beer. Just one. Who's gonna know?"

Al: 02:22 "It's not gonna hurt. Come on."

Keith: 02:24 I, uh, I ordered Al an O'Douls all the time. Horrible, horrible substitutes.

Al: 02:29 Do they still have those by the way?

Keith: 02:31 They do.

Mike: 02:31 Yes.

Al: 02:32 That's crazy.

New Speaker: 02:34 So, right. So, so those are, those are some challenges. And I'm just curious, you know, uh, not what conversations, what are those conversations have you had? Cause I think we all have horror stories, but you know, what do you, what do you do about those? Especially I'm going to say, especially when it's not someone you know. Like if it's somebody, you know, you can shut it down in very specific ways, but one is a complete stranger who may be coming to your company booth. There's a relationship you have to maintain. You know, what do you do about that?

New Speaker: 03:05 I almost always... So, so those are no win situations, right? If it's just not going to end well if you take the bait. So you've got to start with the assumption that you're not going to take the bait first. And so what's the best way to do that? Well, uh, my, my favorite... And you gotta remember too, from a time standpoint, these conversations normally last three to five minutes right? Before something else happens. So you're going to get a get out of jail free card if you just can kill some time. So I always say, "Oh, you know, that's a really, yeah, that's a tough one. That's a tough one. It's a, it's hard. What do you, what, what do you think? What do you think about it?" You know, and flip it right around.

Keith: 04:02 Yeah. And, and, and Al Al, I'm pretty sure you can relate to this being a follow Islam, I've gotten it way worse than, you know, people challenging me on, you know, gay rights or whatever. Just just for... I don't know if you noticed this, you can't tell over the podcast waves, but I'm black. So you know, I've gotten it way worse than, uh, uncomfortable questions at a conference about my faith and those things. You, unfortunately, those things kinda train you for this, and you're like, ah, you know, uh, it's, it's... People can only take in, a professional environment, people can only take those things so far and they can't take it as far as they can take, you know, the racial slurs in a nonprofessional environment. So the, that stuff really doesn't, you know, I don't, I sometimes I don't even get the, I don't even get that they're a going at me cause it's, you know, I don't always read behind between the lines.

Al: 05:00 I was telling Leon, before we started the podcast, "the juice is not worth the squeeze." Uh, so if you can avoid conflict, uh, you're going to step away from it. Um, in the, in, in years past, I probably wasn't as open to speaking about religion or ethnicity as I am, uh, these days. But I will be mindful of who I'm speaking to. And I don't mean that to sound disrespectful, but if it's someone that approaches me that has a genuine interest in learning about Islam or Ramadan most recently, and I feel like in their heart that they, they genuinely care and want to know why we practice this. I don't mind talking about it and I even let them know. "I thank you. I appreciate it. You're taking a step most people wouldn't," they wouldn't, they fear for whatever reason, crossing that line, we have to get past that. We have to be open and be able to speak to one another.

Speaker 2: 05:55 Right. So I, uh, again, you know, being a very visibly orthodox Jewish person, um, I'm always, when, when I see that somebody is trying to ask something, the first thing I tell them is, "First of all, ask me anything. Second of all, don't try to be polite about it. Don't worry if you're clumsy or awkward. Don't worry about saying the wrong word. Don't worry about, you know, asking a question that you think is maybe beyond the pale. It's okay. I know that you're sincere. I know that you're curious. Don't let, don't let your own feelings of hesitation stop you from asking a question that you want to know. That's okay." Right. Um, and again, that's the flip side of it and to all of your points when it's not one of those, when it's somebody who is very obviously just they just want...

Mike: 06:41 To get you to bite.

Al: 06:41 They want to needle you.

Speaker 1: 06:44 Yeah, they just, uh, you know what... Mike, I love your point. Like you've got about 90 seconds. If you can make it through 90 seconds, there is something else shiny is going to distract them and they're going to be off to something else. That's a really good piece of advice. Okay. So moving along, moving on. Um, another challenging area for, uh, folks with religious or ethical or moral point of view and conventions is situations that push your limits. Obviously there are moments that you can say no to. Um, and I think we've mentioned a few of those already. But some of them are not. Some of them are, "hey, uh, you know, the, the executive is taking everyone out to this place." It's like, I, I don't know about that place, but "No, no, everyone's going Leon, everyone's going." Or you've got a client or a customer or you know, you've got one of those things and all of a sudden the hard "no" is not available to you. And now you need to balance, you know, some very specific aspects. So I'm curious if you've run into that and how you, how you navigate it?

Keith: 07:54 Yeah, I have the advantage that the, the views and tweets of me are the views and tweaks of my employer, so...

Leon: 08:08 that's awesome!

Keith: 08:08 Yeah. So I don't, um, you know what? I have this motto in life that has generally served me well. My wife doesn't like it too much. 'The worst any employer can do is fire me. And I came from humble means, and I'm not scared, I don't want to, but I'm not scared to go back to them.' So there's not much I get, you know, forced to and to work. You know, I've had these confrontations over and over in my career. I've just said, you know, I've just, I've had, the hard "no" from me as a hard "no".

Mike: 08:42 yes, exactly. You know, and two, um, I always, whenever I'm evaluating a decision like this, I always think what would Jesus do? Right? It's kind of a cliche in Christian circles right now, but you know, um, so Jesus went into all kinds of different places with people and, and when he did, when he did that, he was not judgmental of them. Well, there was a few people that he was judgmental with. Uh, the, the people that were sort of hypocritically religious, right? They would say all these great things, but, but then, you know, on the side, they weren't really doing what they were saying. That was one thing that he just had no patience for. So, you know, if I just stay away from that, I should be in a good shape, but, you know, so I might go to a, um, uh, you know, a bar that is, uh, you know, has topless women. Right? And, and that is really super hard for me because that's, you know, I mean, it's denigrating to women. It's, it's, you know, very risky. People could get in trouble. I mean, there's so many things wrong with that, that I don't know what's right with it. But you know, uh, the CEO says we're going and so I'll go off in a corner somewhere with somebody else. There's almost always one or two other people that are in my same shoes, right? That don't want to be there. And so we'll find each other like really fast. Like metal pieces on a magnet, right? We'll just collect and we'll go somewhere and we'll do something else. We're there but we're not really participating. And then, you know, the next day we can't make a big deal out of it either. Right? So you don't want to fall into that trap either of, you know, starting, be judgmental of people the next day. You got to let it lie. Never bring it up again.

Keith: 10:46 Yeah. And I think a, I love your perspective, kinda, the whole, you know, Jesus went everywhere perspective. I draw the line at when it's not healthy for me. And so there are just certain situations that are not healthy for me. For example, when I was younger, you know, uh, so I guess you can always say you're recovering, you have a recovering addiction. So I have a recovering addiction to gambling. I am not going, you know, there's a tradition where the last night of VMworld, they've, one goes in, shoots craps at the table with individuals from the community. That's just not something I'm going to do. Uh, nothing inherently wrong with it. I'm just not going to do it because it's not healthy for me to do. So that's kind of where I kind of draw the line of when I know that it will, um, force me to fall into a temptation that I struggle with, I avoid it.

Mike: 11:44 Right, exactly.

Al: 11:46 I was just gonna say there's two factors for me, and I'm sure one of them applies to all of us. As a parent, we want to act the way we preach to our kids. So you don't want to put yourself in a situation and then have yourself explain yourself to your kids, why you got to that point? Regrettably. Um, another thing is if you're surrounded by good people, good friends that respect your opinions and how you approached life, telling them 'no' won't hurt their feelings.

Leon: 12:15 Nice. Good. Um, okay. So we've been dancing around the third part of this conversation a little bit and I wanna uh, I wanna dive into that because it's not all struggle and pain and suffering. Uh, you know, it, there's some amazing parts about conventions, not just... Again, as IT professionals, you know, there's amazing parts of conventions, period. The things that you learn and the people that you see in the relationships that you make, the conversations that continue long after the convention is over. The insights that you get. Those are obviously why people spend a not insignificant amount of money and a not insignificant amount of time getting there and doing them. Um, but as folks with a religious, ethical, or moral point of view, I think that conventions represent opportunities that um, you know, that you might not otherwise have. Back to the punchline, you know, the opportunity to be, you know, a Jew, Muslim and Christian who walk into the prayer room all together and like, "hey, you know, this is, we're all doing the same thing, different language, different style," you know, that's not something that you necessarily get the opportunity to do back in your home neighborhood all the time. Um, and you also the opportunity to meet folks who are in IT who are also following a similar or the same path you are. So the opportunity to meet up with folks. I was at, um, I was at re:Invent two years ago and there was a whole contingent of folks from Israel who were there and a bunch of folks from America, and we all got together and we all headed out in the same car to the kosher restaurant, which is sort of 20 minutes off the strip. And we had a great time. We had conversations about, you know, "So what's happening at your work and how do you do this?" And whatever. And, and that was something that I would never have had the opportunity to do had I not gone to re:Invent. So I'm curious like what experiences have you had that are, that are real opportunities that conventions offer you

Mike: 14:18 To your point, to your story. Um, the next time you go to re:Invent, you're probably going to reach out to those people and say to them, "Hey, let's do that again." Or "let's get together again and do this instead." Or, you know, "hey, I found this other thing." And so you, so each one that you go to, then year after year, you build stronger and stronger relationships and it makes that event richer and richer and richer. Also say that there's tremendous opportunity at these events to really act out your faith. Um, from a, from a Christian standpoint, you know, uh, compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility, self control. These are the essential elements of Christianity and forgiving, right? And love. And so if you find yourself going to the bar after the event, just to socialize, you can quickly see who, who might be struggling right now. Cause you never know, like we said in the earlier part of the podcast, Somebody, Leon, might've gotten a call that morning about, you know, some disaster that happened. Their kid got called into the principal's office and kicked out of school, or you know, some, some disaster might've happened in their life and here they are 12 hours away and Abu Dhabi and you know, there's nothing they can really do. And you know, if you could go up to them and say, "hey, you look like you're a little down and out, uh, you know what's going on?" You know, and there you sit for the next hour just listening to the person, right? Asking them good questions. To me, that, that is the best kind of expression of what I call authentic Christianity.

Leon: 16:10 Nice. Just as a side note, we do have a WhatsApp group that we maintain for, you know, year after year. Like, okay, we're all coming back like, what's going on? So, yes, absolutely that does happen. Um, and I like your, I like your idea of being, of it being an opportunity to, um, and we use this as one of the topics for one of our other episodes, being a 'light unto the nations' you know, to be, uh, out there and just, you know, walk the walk. Um, that's great. What other, what other experiences have you had?

Al: 16:38 For me most recently, uh, attending the, the vMug leader summit at the VMware headquarters in February. I was very blessed to meet fellow Muslim vMug leaders from Egypt and Kuwait, and we've remained in contact since then. I now consider them friends and I'm sure they feel the same way. Uh, for them, this was, I believe, their first time to the States. So it was kind of an uneasy trip, not knowing what to expect. I think I, it's not about me when I say this, but the fact that I am Muslim and I am Arabic and I speak Arabic, uh, it made them feel like they were somewhat at home.

Speaker 1: 17:15 You know, here I am with my tzittzit, the fringes hanging out. I got my kipa on my head. I'm very demonstrably Orthodox and I think it's an opportunity for people who might've thought, "Oh, I can't, I can't be like that in my IT world. I have to have this whole other sort of crypto-identity that remains hidden." And to see, to be, for me to be able to be very visible like that gives them permission also maybe to consider ways in which they can be visible and not uncomfortable. And Al, to your point, the fact that you are here, that you've made, that you're comfortable in this space, that you can be an ambassador in that way, I think is an amazing blessing and an opportunity for you and them.

New Speaker: 17:59 it is. And if you'd asked me this five, 10 years ago, I probably would have, and I don't mean it to sound negative, I don't know how you describe it, but I probably would have distanced myself, but now I feel more comfortable with who I am, what I represent and how I was raised. And I think it just helps for everybody involved. Regardless of religion. We're all, we're all one at the end of the day, we're just one human race. So we need to coexist. As you guys know, all three major religions started in Jerusalem. So, so, you know, we need to come back to the fundamentals and respect one another, be courteous to one another and be kind.

Keith: 18:38 I love the demonstration of sheer love. Like it's not just the conferences it's the, uh, overall community. Not... Maybe a small portion of the community is religious. I don't know. I just know that when my family was in need, the community stepped up. And whether that's, you know, uh, my wife's current situation. My brother with losing his wife. My brother losing his son the year before. It's amazing to see how much love is generated, uh, from this community. See people and you know, get hugs and, and get energy. You know, my wife will comment that if it's not a Tech Field Day or VMworld or whatever, that I'm not coming back refreshed. And I'm like, you know what? It's I come back refreshed. Not, not just because technically I got something now the conference, but emotionally is as much as draining as it is to be around people. I also get an incredible amount of energy from positivity and the amount of positivity that we've gotten in this past three years, that's been coupled with the negativity has been life changing.

Leon: 19:56 Thanks for making time for us this week. To hear more of Technically Religious visit our website, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect to us on social media.

Leon: 20:07 Hey, there's this great convention happening next week in Cleveland who's in?

Everyone: 20:10 (a lot of nope)

S1E21: Convention-aly Religious, part 2

S1E21: Convention-aly Religious, part 2

July 30, 2019

Last year CiscoLive overlapped with Ramadan which was not a lot of fun for the Muslim attendees. This year it conflicts with Shavuot, requiring observant Jews who planned to attend to arrive a week in advance. Add those challenges to the normal stress an IT person with a strong religious, moral, or ethical POV has: finding a place to pray, navigating how "outwardly" they want to present as a religious person (and if that's even a choice), managing work-mandated venue choices for food and "entertainment" that push personal boundaries, etc, and it's a wonder we're able to make convention attendance work at all. In part 2 of this discussion, I continue the conversaion with Mike Wise, Al Rasheed, and Keith Townsend about how they make conventions not only possible, but a positive experience religiously as well as professionally. Listen or read the transcript below.

Doug: 00:00 W1elcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have is people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as it professionals mesh - or at least not conflict - with our religious life. This is Technically Religious.

Leon: 00:24 This is a continuation of the discussion we started last week. Thank you for coming back to join our conversation.

Leon: 00:30 Okay. So I think another aspect with food is, um, and you touched on it, dinners out with the team, right? When it's like, "no, no, no, it's gonna be a team meeting. It's going to be a team dinner. We're all going out." And uh, again, just speaking for myself, it's like, "okay, I'm going to have the... Glass of water.

Al: 00:51 Yeah, that's me

New Speaker: 00:51 "It's, yeah, it's, no, it's fine." You know, like you want to be a team member, you want to be part of it, but all of a sudden the meeting becomes, at least part of the meeting becomes about Leon and his food issues. Like, I don't want, I don't want that to be that either.

Al: 01:06 Right. I was just going to say in some cases, uh, at some conventions or maybe the parties at the conventions, they hand out those drink coupons that you can redeem at the bar. I ended up giving it to others that are with me and I'd get this look like, "Don't you want to drink?" I'm like, "No, water's is fine."

Mike: 01:24 Al, come on. You're missing a major opportunity here. You got to SELL them. Right. You know, these, these are trades, right? You're, you know,

Leon: 01:33 So the first episode of Technically Teligious was myself and Josh Biggley, who's, uh, he's now ex-Mormon. At the time that we were working together, he was Mormon. And so we we worked together in the same company. And so we had this whole shtick. We'd walk into these spaces and it's like, "Oqkay, so I'm drinking his beer, he's gonna eat my chicken wings, and he's driving me home." So you just have to find our roles, you know? Yes, yes. Yeah. We just have to find that synergistic relationship where we can, you know, hand things out. So, uh, but yeah, it's, you know, when they're handing out coupons for things like, "yeah, thanks."

Al: 02:13 yeah, "Don't you want to use it? It's free. It's like you're saving yourself 20 bucks." "No. I don't really want it."

Leon: 02:18 Okay. So, um, moving on. Uh, I think another aspect of, of conventions that can be challenging are just the interactions. Keith, you mentioned, um, just people in general that you don't like people which, uh, may not be your best advertising or marketing slogan, "CTO, Adviser. I hate people"

Keith: 02:38 Yeah, I'm not what you'd call a people person.

Mike: 02:41 But a lot of people, but a lot of CTOs are introverts, right? Keith? I'm sure of it

Keith: 02:47 That's absolutely the case. You know what it is, is what I find is that, you know, obviously, um, I'm high profile. So I have to interact with people. Uh, people stopped me in the hall. We have great conversations. Uh, that is actually, I enjoy the interactions at conferences like Vmworld, vMugs, and to some extent AWS because you know it's kind of the same community that I have on Twitter. What I find exhausting is when I go to something like an open source conference where I have like, I've never met these people in slack, I've not met them, uh, online, and I have to work so hard to meet people and get out of my, uh, shell. Like when someone comes up to me and says, "Hey, Keith," I'm like, Oh, okay. It's, I don't have to say hello. I the, the, I had this thing when I was a kid. Like I didn't understand why you had to say hello to someone you saw every day. That kind of didn't make any sense. Like, I see you every day. Why would I say hi to you every morning? That just doesn't make any sense. So that's a carry over I've learned, but it's still exhausting to, uh, to interact and give and give of yourself and be with people. And it's so many people that want your time.

Leon: 04:06 So that's, that's in the, in general. Again, I think a lot of introverts, introverts share that same, uh, challenge. And, and just to clarify, I know we were teasing you earlier is, you know, you're really good with individuals, with people when you're having a conversation, you're not so good with crowds of people. Like that's the part that like, "I just don't want to deal with the 800 folks who are standing in front of me right now all trying to get to lunch at the same time. I want all them to go away."

Keith: 04:32 But you know, Chicago, we have some big festivals here and I, I'd go to none of them. I don't like amusement parks. I just don't like crowds. So, you know, the conferences are probably the worst place to go if you don't like crowds. The one of the reasons I don't go to the parties at night because it's just too many people.

Leon: 04:52 And at that point your battery's empty.

Keith: 04:54 Already because you've just spent the whole day. Uh, you know, I go to a Tech Field Day and talk to folks like Al and Mike or whoever and just have a really great time, but I'm exhausted because I've spent the whole day socializing. Now I have to go by and be around a bunch of people that I generally don't know. It's even tough.

Al: 05:13 I was just going to add, not a knock on any of the conferences again, but what I appreciate the most about Tech Field Day is you're introduced to your fellow delegates weeks in advance. You have an opportunity to, you know, get to know them in some way, you know, via Twitter, Linkedin or the slack channel. So I think that helps break the ice and it definitely makes it a lot easier when you first meet them for the first time in person.

Keith: 05:36 And then going back to kind of a religious thing, uh, I'm pretty, you know, all of us pretty much where our faiths on our sleeves. No one in the community would be a surprise that we're, uh, we, that we follow Islam, Orthodox Jew or devout Christian. Uh, one of the other things that is possible

Mike: 06:00 Hopefully, anyway. Hopefully they wouldn't be surprised.

Keith: 06:00 Especially if you have an evangelistic type faith and your call to share your faith. You know, I'm really not great at that. My wife is awesome at it and it can be really a challenge where I'm at a dinner where I don't know a bunch of people in a bunch of people don't know us and Melissa has no problems, you know, saying, "Hey, uh, before we start, can we say kind of a nondenominational prayer before meal" and, and I'm like, oh, I don't, it doesn't bother me. But it again is just one of those things. It's uncomfortable and, and, and, and sometimes our faith calls us to do uncomfortable things.

Leon: 06:37 Right? Yeah. It's not that you wouldn't volunteer that as, as readily as she does.

Al: 06:42 I'm just curious, since we're speaking of faith and saying a small prayer, I'm sure we all do it, but I don't want to single anybody out. But anytime I fly I always say a prayer and you know, so I'll clasp by hands together and I'll say a few words and then I'll do this. It'll make this motion. And sometimes I'll get a look from someone beside me. Like, "what's wrong with them? Is Everything okay?"

Mike: 07:04 "Is there anything wrong with the plane?"

Al: 07:06 I don't explain myself. I just stay focused. I stay looking straight ahead. I don't even get caught up in it.

Keith: 07:12 So I, I do, I do a small prayer too, but, you know, I don't have, you know, my faith doesn't have traditions like that where it's obvious that I'm doing something of, uh, of, uh, of inference and, you know, we talk about it, you know, Leon talking about prayer and this is a theme that's at conferences. So Scott Lowe a of VMware of, of, VMWare and then Heptio and then at VMware again, uh, at VMWorld does a, a prayer group in the morning. So, uh, it's common for us, uh, faithful, whether it's regardless of religion to pray for one another. You know, Leon has three congregations praying for my wife. Uh, so I, I, you know, I really, uh, appreciate that. So, you know, I don't think there's anything, uh, uncommon about, I think it's actually fairly common.

Leon: 08:03 So in, in Orthodox Judaism, there's a specific traveler's prayer and, uh, that's, but I, I think to your point, like on a plane, um, you know, just like there's no atheists in foxholes. There are very few atheists before the airplane has taken off. I think lots and lots of people are very like, you know, there's also no atheist right before...

Mike: 08:24 "Do you pray?" Yes I do. "Could you pray for us?". Yes. Okay.

Leon: 08:26 Yeah. Yeah. It's also, you know, it, you'll still find the same sort of, uh, preponderance of prayer right before a pop quiz the teacher just called. Like lots of people will, you know, I think it's the same sort of reaction there. That's, that's less, uh, I think that's less uncommon or less confusing for folks. Um, then again, at the team meeting, you know, at the, I'm sorry, at the team dinner where, you know, all of a sudden it's like, "But, uh, I have to go wash my hands and then I can't talk between washing my hands and eating this bread." And like, then, and people want to have this conversation. I was like, "Mmm. uh-huh" like, you know, so it becomes an interesting, uh, hiccup or, you know, an awareness thing.

Mike: 09:13 Well, I think it just, I think it just adds richness, you know, I, as long as it's honest. Okay. So in Christianity, there's a couple of stereotypes that you don't want to become. You don't want to become the holier-than-thou person. You know, "oh, well, you know, if you were real Christian." You wouldn't do that. Right. You don't want to be the in-your-face Christian. Right. Who is, you know, preaching to people the entire time. Right, right. But if you're just sort of, you know, walking your faith. Um, so one of the things that happens to me almost all the time is that people will say, "oh, Mike, yeah. So good to see you," or "So good to meet you." You know, and, and we'll, we'll talk about children, right. They'll ask me. "So, you know, are you married?" "Yeah, my wife and I are empty nesters." Okay. "So, well do you have any kids?" "Yes, I've got a 30 year old son and a 28 year old daughter." "Well, what are they doing?" "Well, my son is in the army, you know, and he's been deployed twice and now he's getting into navigators, which is, uh, army discipleship ministry. And my daughter is a missionary in Cambodia." And so, you know, that just opens up a whole rich conversation about why and what's going on and how did they get there? And you know, what's their goal and how does that impact you? "Gosh, your son was deployed, you must've been on your knees the whole time," you know, all of this stuff. So to me, I really see there's really no way around unless you really get into a shell. There's really, I mean, faith just, you know, always comes up. You know what I mean?

Leon: 10:57 It certainly, it certainly can. And I think also it comes up in ways that, especially at conventions, that are either unexpected or I'm going to say, uh, not normal. And I don't mean like abnormal, but what I mean is that when we're home and we're in our neighborhood, we're in our space, certain kinds of interactions just don't come up because we structured our lives around around not having them. Um, and an example that I'll, an example I'll use is that, um, in, in Orthodox Judaism, generally speaking, men and women don't touch. It just, you know, unless somebody is, you know, it's, it's your kid or whatever, you just, you know, there's no, there's no hugging, there's no any of that stuff. It's just, yeah, so here I am working in the booth and people are coming up of, you know, all different types and you know, whatever. And all of a sudden, you know, you've, people have extended their hand. Now what's interesting is that having that, that physical contact is not a sin. It's not a problem. It's just not, it's just not done. I'll say it's not done and it's not done for particular reasons, but it's not like you violated a tenant of your faith to do it. It's just not done. What's worse is publicly embarrassing somebody. That is actually akin to like murder, you know, really like it's, you know, considered, right? So if, if a person, if a woman puts her hand out, I am going to shake her hand like absolutely no doubt about it. But over the course of multiple days. After a while it just becomes tiring. Like every time a woman puts her hand down, it's like, of course I'm going to shake your hand. Of course I'm would be gracious. Of course I'm doing it. But it is something that is contra. It's just contra normal to my normal experience and it feels like that. And so, uh, you know, those kinds of of interactions are still religious and they're still, you know, happening. But you have to find ways to navigate them. I, I don't know if you folks have had, you know, any other like things that push those limits in any way. Um,

Al: 13:09 I guess if I'm approaching, a Muslim woman that's wearing hijab, and I don't know her. There is a bit of, there is a moment of awkwardness. I don't know if that's the right word. I'm, I'll probably wait for her to initiate the conversation where, or the handshake per se. But uh, in terms of, you know, hugging and whatnot. Yeah. You know, sometimes you just have to know your limits.

Mike: 13:38 Now as a Christian, Al, should I be doing that too? I'm just curious. Should I be waiting for them to initiate a conversation if I, if I'm approaching somebody with hijab?

Al: 13:49 Um, probably so to be honest with you, and to Leon's point it is slightly awkward. It's not fair to both parties. There is a sense of uneasiness. But I would, if you asked me my opinion and I'm a, I'm a Muslim, as I mentioned, I would allow the lady in this case to, uh, initiate the, um, the, uh, the handshake or the greeting.

Keith: 14:14 Yeah. That makes a point of lot of a, a lot of these conferences are international and you get not just religious cultures, but different cultures in general, you know, giving the thumbs up to the wrong culture who, you know, looks completely different than a thumbs up here in the US or the "OK" sign. You know, it's, so, it's, it's one of those things that I try to be... It's like Twitter in real life. Like you can easily offend another person, uh, just by your body language and gestures or saying hi or not saying hi.

Leon: 14:51 Yeah. I think, yeah, that cultural sensitivity, it puts the concept I'm going to use, I mean there's a word that started a little bit charged in today's society, but it's, it's, it puts the concept of consent. Did that person invite that contact or that interaction? Again, you know, the thumbs up sign or whatever it was, you know, you in one respect, it's nice to be aware, sensitized or sensitive to that, but a, in another it's, you know, again, it challenges us in some very particular ways.

Al: 15:23 I think it's situational awareness. It just depends on the situation you're in, the surroundings you're in and just making good judgment and as long as you have good intent, I think ultimately that's what really matters.

Mike: 15:34 Well, I think one of the problems, one of the challenges with conferences in particular is that they have a tendency of of amping up the adrenaline that's coursing through your body. You got all these people, you know, if you're, if you're in sales or business development, you got all these prospects around, you know, you've, you've also got the glitz and glamour of the location. You know, these places are always in nice places, you know, and so not something that you normally do. You know, gee, this is like a pretty nice place, you know, and then, then you have the, the alcohol, right? The effects of alcohol. And then you have the effects of travel, which we talked about before, um, where you're tired or you're suffering from jet lag. And so, you know, it changes your whole, you know, you would like, you know, how many times have you heard somebody come back from a conference and tell some story in the board room, you know, the next day about, "hey, did you see what that person did? Can you believe they did that?" You know, but this is what happens at conferences. So you really, you know, it's even extra important for us that are really out there with our faith, uh, to really be careful with what we're doing.

Leon: 16:58 Well, and I'll just, I'll add onto that, that along with the social lubricant and things like that, I think there's also a lot of folks running around feeling a lot of pressure in the sense of, uh, you know, maybe they're looking for their next job or maybe they're a little starstruck. You know, you've got some of these big CEO, CIOs, uh, or people like, yeah, I mean, and, and as much as you know, I want to tease Keith, the fact is the reality is that you're a very visible face and if somebody has been following you on Twitter and finally gets a chance to meet you and say a few words to you, it's easy to imagine them sort of losing some filters along the way.

Keith: 17:37 People feel like they know you in and there's nothing wrong. They mass share a lot of my life, uh, you know, end the public. So, you know, a lot of people are going on this journey with me and wife. So, you know, when they see Melissa, uh, if she makes it to VMWorld, when they see her, there's going to be like this automatic feeling that they know them. You know, we don't have any women on the podcast today, and maybe it's a good topic for future podcasts. You know, we get, um, Melissa or some of the wives on to talk about their experiences in the community and around the community. But, uh, you know, I absolutely have been in those situations. I, I'm in that situation sometimes when I walk up to a, somebody who I've been following them on Twitter for years, I'm like, "Oh, Larry, don't... Wait. How do, how do you not know me?" Like I'm certainme and Michael Dale are like best friends, right? Security felt otherwise the first time I tried...

Leon: 18:36 Right? Right. Exactly. So, so there's all those pressures.

Leon: 18:40 We know you can't listen to our podcast all day. So out of respect for your time, we've broken this particular conversation up. Come back next week and we'll continue our conversation.

Destiny: 18:49 Thanks for making time for us this week. To hear more of Technically Religious visit our website, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect to us on social media.

Leon: 19:03 Hey, there's this great convention happening next week in Cleveland who's in?

Everyone: 19:06 (a lot of nope)


S1E20: Convention-aly Religious

S1E20: Convention-aly Religious

July 23, 2019

Last year CiscoLive overlapped with Ramadan which was not a lot of fun for the Muslim attendees. This year it conflicts with Shavuot, requiring observant Jews who planned to attend to arrive a week in advance. Add those challenges to the normal stress an IT person with a strong religious, moral, or ethical POV has: finding a place to pray, navigating how "outwardly" they want to present as a religious person (and if that's even a choice), managing work-mandated venue choices for food and "entertainment" that push personal boundaries, etc, and it's a wonder we're able to make convention attendance work at all. In this episode, I speak with Mike Wise, Al Rasheed, and Keith Townsend about how they make conventions not only possible, but a positive experience religiously as well as professionally. Listen or read the transcript below.

Dez: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as it professionals mesh - or at least not conflict - with our religious life. This is Technically Religious.

Leon: 00:24 Last year, Cisco live fell squarely in the middle of Ramadan, which created a challenge for followers of Islam. Here in 2019 it coincided with the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, meaning that many observant Jews had to skip or cut short their attendance. Between these special situations and the more common stresses of finding a place to pray - sometimes multiple times a day; navigating dozens of interactions where we find ourselves explaining our religious limitations regarding food, venues, and even personal contact; and asserting boundaries between the requirements of our work and the tenants of our faith. Between all those challenges, it's a wonder we choose to attend conferences and conventions at all. In this episode, we're going to hear from a few folks about how we survive and even thrive in this environment. While holding strong to our religious values or moral or ethical points of view. I'm Leon Adato and the other voices you're going to hear on this episode are: Al Rasheed, who's a sysadmin for a federal contractor.

Al: 01:16 Hello!

Leon: 01:17 Welcome to the podcast.

Al: 01:19 Thank you.

Leon: 01:20 Mike Wise, a freelance consultant in insurance technology and specializing in blockchain.

Mike: 01:26 Hello.

Leon: 01:27 And finally a returning guest, Keith Townsend from CTO Advisor.

Keith: 01:31 Well evidently the unedited version of the podcast hasn't gotten me kicked off . Halooo

New Speaker: 01:36 Right. I'm not going to give the number, but there is one where I forgot to post the edited version. So before we dive into this topic, I want to give everyone a chance for some shameless self promotion. Al why don't we start with you. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Al: 01:51 So I'm a SysAdmin here in the northern Virginia area for a federal contractor. I am a Palestinian American, born in Jerusalem and a, I am Muslim as well. You can find me on Twitter @Al_Rasheed. And my blog post is also listed on my Twitter profile. It's

Leon: 02:15 Perfect. Mike, how about you next?

Mike: 02:18 Yeah, so thanks a lot for having me on the show. I'm, you can find me at "MikeY07" on pretty much every social channel including Twitter. I'm doing a lot of tweeting. I'm also sharing a lot on Linkedin and my website is It's a play on my name.

Leon: 02:40 Nice. Keith, for those people who might've missed the other episodes you're in, where can we find you?

Keith: 02:45 @CTOAdvisor on the Twitters, which my daughter hates to say And you can find the blog,

New Speaker: 02:54 Great. And just around things out. I'm Leon Adato. You can find me on Twitter, on "the twitters", I'll say that just to make a Keith's daughter's skin crawl. You can find me there @LeonAdato. And my blog is And as a reminder, all of the links in all the things that we're talking about today are going to be in the show notes. So if you're scribbling madly, don't worry about it. There is a place where this is all written down. So where I want to start with this just for a little bit is to talk about how conventions are challenging in general. A lot of folks who listen to this podcast may not be lucky enough, have the privilege to go to conventions, and maybe you're thinking "It sounds like a vacation man! You go to Vegas or Orlando, it's nothing but fun. You get to go to..." You know. So why are conventions challenging, just generally speaking? And I'm going to start this one off and say that you have to deal with time zones, sometimes two or three. I actually have one of my coworkers, Sascha Giese is from Germany, so he'll travel four or five times zones, not to mention 12 hours at a shot to get to some of these places. So you're just generally exhausted and generally sort of strung out. And then you have to hit the ground running, attending classes and you know, your brain has to be at it's peak performance. So that's one of the first things that people don't expect. What else is there?

Keith: 04:14 Well, I hate people.

Everyone: 04:15 (laughter).

Mike: 04:15 People suck.

Keith: 04:20 You know what? For someone with 7,000 plus whatever Twitter followers and as much social media that I do, crowds are just too much for me. VM world is going to be 20-something thousand. AWS Reinvent it's 47,000 and I go and I just get exhausted.

Keith: 04:35 Right. So yeah, if you're, if you're not an extrovert, if you're an introvert, then that by itself can be draining. Absolutely. What else? Al, you had something we talked about before we started.

Al: 04:46 Staying in touch with your spouse and or your kids. I'm fortunate where my wife has tagged along on some recent conferences with me. Also we're, we're blessed because both of our kids are old enough to mind for themselves, care for themselves. But you always have to remain in contact, keep tabs on them and just make sure they're safe.

Leon: 05:02 Yeah. No matter how old they are, that never ends.

Mike: 05:06 It's a juggling act between personal and professional.

Leon: 05:09 Yeah. You definitely have to juggle. So, not only the wife and kids, the spouse and kids, but also Mike, to your point, you have to juggle other aspects of your life too, right?

Mike: 05:19 Yeah, that's right. We've got, you know, we all live in the blur, right? And so we've got personal stuff going on. We've got professional stuff going on, we've got community things that we're involved in. Board, you know, everything's constantly happening at the same time and it's all going right through our mobile device. So it's really challenging.

Leon: 05:39 Yeah. There are times when you're walking through a convention and you don't even know you're there because the screen in front of you is taking precedence over it. All right. So for those people who haven't been to conventions, that's just a taste of why they're not a vacation. There can be, there can be aspects of it that are vacation-like, and I think that it's important for those of us who attend conventions often to find those moments. Al, to your point, seeing if a spouse or even kids can tag along. I know that recently Phoummala Schmidt, brought her daughter along to a whole series of Microsoft events. And it was a real eye opener for both of them. Her daughter got to see what Mom does and the kind of people that she interacts with; and Mom got to show this whole other like, "No, I'm not just going out for drinks or whatever. Like there's real work happening." So those are the ways in which conventions are challenging...

Mike: 06:36 Yeah. Yeah. So, so the other, one of the other ways that the conventions are challenging, and they're definitely not like some sort of vacation... You know, unless, and I've started to do this more and more often, is I schedule a day ahead or a day on the back end, to make them into some quiet time somewhere, you know, if I'm going to some place that's awesome, and I know the convention is just going to be nonstop one after another, three days of hard running the whole time. I'll schedule my return flight for 24 or 48 hours later so that I can go and go to some sort of temple or some landmark or something like that and debrief and decompress after that. Keith, I would think that, for an introvert that would be super helpful just to check out for 24 hours, you know?

Keith: 07:39 I don't do many of the parties at any of the conventions though. I'll meet the rare exception, like run DMC was at VMWorld last night, you know, it's run DMC, so you're going to do that. Uh, but you know, about one o'clock in the morning and I'm pretty, you know, tired of people. So for the most part at night, I don't normally do the big events just because, you know, I spend so much of the day, I'm visible in the, in, in most of these conferences and I get to kind of the tough part, like where I'm not known at conferences are actually even worse than conferences that I'm known at.

Al: 08:20 And if I could go back to Mike's Point, I guess it does depend on where you're going, if it's a unique location. So for example, for me, I'm Cisco and Tech Field Day were kind enough to allow me to join them for Cisco Live Europe in Barcelona and I hadn't flown overseas in over 25 years, so I took full advantage of that opportunity. I arrived two days early, did some sightseeing and I was able to kind of just chill, relax, take in the sights and sounds and the rest of the week was relatively straightforward, very easy going, not very stressful at all, but there was a lot involved. Don't get me wrong, but it definitely helped the cause.

Mike: 08:58 That's a really good thing to do, to go early and get acclimated. You know, the other thing too is when something happens, when you're at an event that is a significant event. You know I'll never forget the time I was at a conference and Columbine happened. Right. There. So that was a major event and brings up all kinds of interesting dynamics associated with that particular event - whatever it is. You know, I know people that you know, were at an event when 9/11 happened. I know people that were an event when that Las Vegas shooting happened a couple of years ago. So how do you deal with that? Especially if you're known to be religious?

Leon: 10:03 So we're going to to dovetail into that in a minute, but I think, to both of your points, that I was just saying - for people who don't get to go to conventions, why are connection challenging? But I think just as meaningfully for folks who DO go to conventions and may feel like they're heading toward that burnout phase, that's really good advice is to schedule some extra time so that A) you feel like you're getting some personal time. Some "me time" as you might call it, associated with the event if you can. And then Mike, to your point, when, when something big happens in the world that does change the entire nature of it - of the, of the event - all of a sudden it becomes about something much larger than just, you know, Keith, you said 40,000 people at reinvent, it's not just 40,000 people reading it. It's 40,000 people who are all having a shared national or international experience away from home, away from kids, away from their support network. And so everyone sort of becomes the support network for each other. And that can be somewhat transformative. And I think Mike, where we are going with that is, is the next part of this topic, which is: not just the ways conventions are challenging or, or different for everybody, but as people with a very particular religious or moral or ethical point of view, what do conventions represent? You were all talking about taking extra days before and after. So, as an Orthodox Jew, the trick for me is that for the Sabbath, for Shabbat, I'm completely offline. Anything with an on off switch can't be touched. So I can't fly, I can't travel. And even where I stay, hotel rooms become interesting if they have electric doors or you know, entrances that are only... You know, like it becomes this, this piece of calculus that is tricky. So I was at Cisco Live Barcelona last year and my wife and I went out, my wife happens to have been born in Spain, but we came out several days ahead of time so that we could be there in time for the Sabbath. And we stayed several days after. But it creates this even larger buffer, which I'm sorry to say, you know our, I'm happy to say if it's Barcelona, if you're in Spain, not such a problem, like who's going to complain about some more extra days in Spain?

Keith: 12:28 Oh, I'll throw you a in Chicago in February, you will see.

Leon: 12:33 Right. Okay. Right, exactly. So this past Cisco live with it being Shavuot, I had to come out on Thursday. And Friday night I just sort of hunkered down and I was in the city, in my hotel room, but those next three days, offline - from Friday night through Saturday night, which was Shabbat, and then Sunday and Monday, which was the holiday of Shavuot, were all offline. And it became very complicated. And being away from family was tricky. So scheduling can be an interesting thing.

Al: 13:04 That's a lot of discipline. I'll give you a lot of credit.

Mike: 13:06 Yeah, really

Leon: 13:07 You know what, we knew what we were getting into, me and the family and, uh, I will tell you lessons were learned, and we will probably just opt to skip a convention if it happens like that again because it was not the experience I wanted. But I appreciate the support. Okay, so scheduling, like I said, scheduling can be tricky for us with religious points of view. Not just scheduling getting there, getting home. But also daily scheduling, finding time and a place to pray. So I'm curious if you've had any sort of experiences about that?

Al: 13:44 Not necessarily. I mean, you can always find a location to pray if one is not provided. But for example, Cisco live in Europe (and I'm sure the same here in the US) they provided a prayer room for all religions to use, which I found very convenient, very kind to them. It actually caught me off, I guess caught me by surprise. Maybe I'd never seen it or stumbled across such a thing. So I thought it was a nice gesture on their behalf.

Leon: 14:08 So I saw the same thing. I was ecstatic. I actually took a selfie in the room. I was, you know, had my tallit and tefillin on. I'm like, "THIS IS AWESOME!!" So, uh, it was really wonderful. Not only was it a room to pray, but they had removed all iconography. There was no, like, sometimes you'll find a place and they'll be crosses up or something like that. And it can be very challenging for some folks. Where like, "well, wait, but that's not my space." They just made it a very generic space. Cisco live us does not do that, just FYI. But it was deeply appreciated, especially because, you know, you've got to duck away for three times a day or five times a day. And it's like, "No, I got a place, like there's a room." I find a corner. I literally just like walk off the floor and find a corner to stare at a wall. Like, "What's he doing?" Like, "Don't worry about it. It's okay."

Mike: 14:55 So you're in the middle of your prayer. You know, you're doing this heavy duty, some heavy lifting on prayer time with God and all of a sudden some guy comes in and starts taking selfies cause he's so excited that there's a prayer room.

Al: 15:10 That's a good point.

Leon: 15:13 Okay, so the room was empty. I was not, I was not going to take my enthusiasm. I was going to curb my enthusiasm if anybody else was in the room. But in fact it was, the room was, was all, it was all clear.

Mike: 15:27 I'm so glad you were sensitive about that.

Keith: 15:28 Al you missed the chance to say "a Jew and a Muslim walking into a prayer room."

Leon: 15:33 I...

Al: 15:34 I wanted to but I didn't know how that would come across.

Leon: 15:36 No, no, no, no. I I keep on waiting. I keep on waiting for that opportunity for like, you know, for, for the, the folks who follow Islam and, and you know, the Jews are like, "Yeah, we got to do that. Okay, this is our room? All right, cool. Great!"

Mike: 15:50 So Jew and a Muslim and a Christian go into the prayer room at Cisco Live...

Al: 15:57 I like that Mike. That's, that's a good one.

Keith: 16:00 That's literally the joke.

Leon: 16:03 That's the tagline for the entire podcast. Okay. Okay. So finding a time and a place to pray. So with the prayer room, that was wonderful. But have found that breaking away, you know, if I'm in the middle of a session, a class or I'm in the middle of a conversation, realizing that... So for Orthodox Judaism, there are specific times that you pray - windows in which you can pray. And the windows are hours long. But sometimes you realize, "oh my gosh, the day is getting away from me." So finding both the time and the ability to break away is a challenge. I don't know if it's a challenge for any you folks.

Al: 16:42 It could be. I mean, you can always make it up as long as, at least the way I feel, you have the intent, uh, you're doing it for the right reasons. You're not doing it to show off or gather attention. You know, it's, it's, there's a purpose behind it and in its most times in that it's respected. It's not a big deal.

Leon: 16:59 So another challenge that I think folks with religious points of view have a with conventions is just eating, just finding food. Now a lot of conventions will have options. In fact, I remember laughing because of the two dozen different dietary options. One was "gluten free, low sodium halal." Like that was incredibly specific.

Al: 17:21 It's pretty detailed

Leon: 17:22 But not always. Um, so I dunno what's, what kind of food challenges have you run into being a conventions?

Keith: 17:32 So every now and again I'll do a "Daniel fast" where, you know, I'm not eating any meat or choice foods. You find that it's hard to find non-choice foods during a convention. And the other thing is that you know, you, and this is a, a challenge that you know, vegans and vegetarians have. And then when you go for meals at night, like the convention will at least have Vegan options. When you go to dinner with your friends at night? You know, my Tech Field Day brethren love their steak. And it can be really difficult to find some place. So, you know, that's happened to me more times than I would like where I, where I had bad timing, where I did this fast, that didn't allow me to eat choice foods. Great thing about it is that it, you know, the purpose of it is for me to pray and, and be reminded of my sacrifice, the bad part about it. There's a lot of times for it to feel like it's a sacrifice.

Al: 18:40 I think for me the biggest challenge, if any, the food options are most times are readily available and most conferences do accommodate, you know, the needs of the specific religion. You know, my case hello, but sometimes it's a, it's disappointing to put it nicely when food is not labeled properly. That's probably the easiest thing to accommodate.

Mike: 19:05 What's an example of that, Al?

Al: 19:07 If there's a tray of food, like for example, I don't want to, I don't want to call it a specific company or conference, but let's just say it's a buffet style set up and they have trays of food, one behind the other, and there's no label, it'll just tell you, let's say for example, "chicken", but there are other ingredients that you can see for yourself, but you're not necessarily sure what they are.

KeithSpeaker 6: 19:31 Yeah. So I'm Al's food taster. So I go in and Al is like "Is there any pork in here?" You know what, Al, I will let you know if there's pork in this chicken dish.

Al: 19:42 Right. But I appreciate you, Keith. But also for, uh, for allergy related reasons as well.

Keith: 19:49 Yeah. Right. Like I'm allergic to peanuts and there's not always obvious that peanuts are in, in, in a dish.

Leon: 19:56 So one of my coworkers, Destiny Bertucci, who's another voice you'll hear on, Technically Religious has a gluten free diet, and finding things that are really gluten free... And I think we've also also run into the well-intentioned, clueless staffer, you know, who's like, "Is any of this, is any of this kosher?" "Oh yeah. I'm pretty sure that over there is kosher." It's like "that's bacon." Yeah.

Keith: 20:32 That reminds me that during the superbowl my vegetarian option for chili is a chicken chili. For vegetarians. I have the chicken chili.

Mike: 20:43 Oh, okay. Yes, of course.

Leon: 20:45 Yeah. You know, so there's no like, you know, gluten free. It's like, "I see there are croutons on that salad." What are you, what are you doing? So you have to be sort of vigilant. And I like, I like the idea of having a taster, having like a designated person to help out with that. And you know, Al to your point about like, well, what was the, you know, was it, um, sauteed in a wine sauce?

Al: 21:09 That could be the case as well.

Leon: 21:11 Yeah. Yeah. So for a lot of us, especially those of us who have much more strict dietary needs, the conventions become a big building full of, "nope." Like, "can you have this?" "Nope."

Al: 21:23 You end up eating like a rabbit.

Mike: 21:25 Which is, which isn't bad by the way. Right? It's a good opportunity to, uh, like, uh, Keith was saying before, you know, sort of sacrifice, right? Uh, what do they call it? A asceticis, right? Yeah.

Leon: 21:37 Right. Well, you become very sensitized both to the, the, the choices that you've made. And also you become very sensitized to the blessing of having food available. So, you know, in one respect, when, when you do, you know, when I do go to a convention and there was one point, I remember it was Cisco Live Europe in Berlin and they put out a, and normally those buffets that you were talking about or just again, "nope". Like, I don't even look, I'm not like, "nope. Nope. It's not, it's not, it's not, it's not". Um, and, and my coworker is like, "we'll just go look." You might have something like, "no, huh-uh, ain't going to do it." There was an entire set of coolers full of Ben and Jerry's ice cream pints, which is kosher, and I just like, I'll be having seven of these.

Al: 22:28 Can I have it delivered to my room?

Leon: 22:29 Yeah, it was great. Like, but the point wasn't like I gorge myself. The point was I was so grateful. I felt such a, an a huge moment of, "wow, what a blessing this is." That it was wonderful and I was giddy from it. So that's, that's sort of the, the other side of it. When it happens,

Leon: 22:47 We know you can't listen to our podcast all day. So out of respect for your time, we've broken this particular conversation up. Come back next week and we'll continue our conversation.

Doug: 22:57 Thanks for making time for us this week. To hear more of Technically Religious, visit our website, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect to us on social media.

Leon: 23:10 Hey, there's this great convention happening next week in Cleveland who's in?

Everyone: 23:14 (grumbling, excutes, nope)