Technically Religious
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)

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