Technically Religious
S3E05 - Tales From the TAMO Cloud with Jason Carrier

S3E05 - Tales From the TAMO Cloud with Jason Carrier

March 30, 2021

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


Intro (00:03):
Leon Adato (00:32):
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 careers, it professionals mesh, or at least not conflict, with our religious life. This is technically religious.
Leon Adato (00:53):
Did you ever wonder why it diagrams always use a cloud to show an element where stuff goes in and comes out, but we're not 100% sure what happens inside that was originally called a TAMO cloud, which stood for then a miracle occurred. It indicated an area of tech that was inscrutable, but nevertheless, something we saw as reliable and consistent in its output for it. Pros who hold a strong religious, ethical, or moral point of view. Our journey has had its own sort of TAMO cloud where grounded technology and lofty, philosophical ideals blend in ways that can be anything from challenging to uplifting, to humbling. In this series, we sit down with members of the IT community to explore their journeys, both technical and theological and see what lessons we can glean from where they've been, where they are today and where they see themselves in the future.
Leon Adato (01:40):
My name is Leon Adato, and the other voice you'll hear on this episode is Jason carrier.
Jason Carrier (01:45):
Hey, thanks for having me.
Leon Adato (01:46):
It's great to have you back. Um, so as is our want here on tech, uh, technically religious, we want to start with some shameless. Self-promotion Jason, tell us a little bit about yourself, where people can find you on the interwebs, what you're working on, all that good stuff.
Jason Carrier (02:00):
Sure thing. So, uh, my name is Jason carrier. I'm a product manager at SolarWinds, and I do a little bit of freelance on the side. Uh, I've got a strong interest in startups, uh, technology, venture capital investment banking. Uh, you can find me on Twitter at, uh, @network_carrier, uh, and LinkedIn at @adjacent-carrier. Uh, you could also find me on my website, which is, uh,, B H O D And, uh, religiously, I consider myself a Buddhist, but I'm also kind of a general student of philosophy. I like kind of studying, uh, different schools of thought in general.
Leon Adato (02:34):
Very nice. Okay. And if you were scribbling all that stuff down or you start scribbling the stuff we talk about later, stop it, put your hands back on the wheel and pay attention to the road because we will have show notes for all of that the day after this podcast drops. So you'll be able to find all the links to anything that we talk about over there. All right. Um, so this is the tales from the TAMO cloud, where we talk about sort of our journey through tech and religion. And I want to start off with the technical side. Let's start with, what work are you doing today? What kinds of stuff in tech are you focused on on day to day?
Jason Carrier (03:10):
Uh, so my, my day job, I'm a product manager for network performance monitor and voice network quality monitor. So, uh, basically it's like network monitoring products, uh, that sort of help people get visibility into their, uh, network infrastructure.
Leon Adato (03:23):
Uh huh. Well, I, I I'm familiar with monitoring myself since we work at the same company, so that's good.
Jason Carrier (03:29):
Definitely, definitely.
Leon Adato (03:31):
Um, so I presume that you did not, uh, exit the womb already doing monitoring software and uh, product manager work. So I guess the question is where did you start in tech?
Jason Carrier (03:44):
Yeah, so, um, I almost did. Not network monitoring coming out of the womb doing technology stuff. Um, my dad has, uh, was an electronics technician in the air force and, uh, so I was kinda raised, you know, building RF cables and, uh, he used to take me on jobs, building, uh, cell sites, you know, back in the, uh, late nineties, you know,
Leon Adato (04:03):
You were really?
Jason Carrier (04:03):
So I, yeah, I was just going to say, I grew up learning electronics theory and stuff like that. So I went to high school and got into computers from there.
Leon Adato (04:11):
Yeah. I was going to say you were born with a silver cat five cable in your mouth. I mean,
Jason Carrier (04:14):
Pretty much it was spoon-fed.
Leon Adato (04:15):
Which is kind of toxic, but for a baby, but, but still, yeah. Wow. Um, that's a great pedigree to have. So, uh, although it may be, I could probably write a story that filled in the gaps. I want to hear how you actually made it from, from those humble beginnings, uh, at your father's knee as an electronics technician. How did you get to where you are today?
Jason Carrier (04:40):
Uh, I've, I've traveled a lot. Um, so basically started in El Paso.
Leon Adato (04:43):
Lot of frequent flier miles.
Jason Carrier (04:45):
Yeah, very much so, but literally and figuratively. Uh, so I started out in El Paso, uh, working at a, an internet cafe, uh, back in the, uh, early nineties or late nineties, like 99 ish, 98, right in there. And then, uh, joined the air force after that, uh, traveled to a bunch of places, Okinawa, Saudi Arabia, um, Thailand, uh, and then Omaha and Tucson, uh, less fun, but, uh, uh, then was DOD contractor for a while, about 10 years or so. Um, did a tour in Iraq, spent some time in Kuwait and then, uh, spent some time in Hawaii too, which was a lot of fun, uh, working with the sock pack guys out there. Um, and then I took a hiatus, uh, one year off of massage for massage school. Uh, it had been something that I'd wanted to do for a while and, uh, kinda was, was bleeding into the religious views and philosophic views. I had, I wanted to do something kind of different work on, uh, you know, kind of the emotional intelligence and personal skills and you know, that kind of thing.
Leon Adato (05:39):
Uh huh.
Jason Carrier (05:39):
And then, uh, uh, decided there's not enough money in it. So I went back to a government contracting for a bit, uh, worked at Fort Huachuca and, uh, went back to Hawaii for awhile. And then, uh, I kind of came to a point where I wanted to make it so that my efforts were, uh, not going to a war fighter so much, but I'm sort of focused more in a, um, entrepreneurial kind of direction, which has always been a side passion. I'd been kind of neglecting. Uh, so I came to Austin Texas to do the, the technology commercialization program over at UT, uh, which was a great program, highly recommend it. Um, I worked at a Clear Data, local startup here for a bit, uh, as a network engineer while I was going through school. And then, uh, after that, I was a venture partner over at, uh, John Bromley, Texas venture labs at the university there, um, at UT. Uh, so I basically helped, uh, uh, startups with, uh, go to market validation and, um, uh, kind of business research projects. Uh, so pairing cross-functional teams and grad students up with, uh, uh, local area startups.
Leon Adato (06:40):
Uh huh.
Jason Carrier (06:40):
And that's what led me to SolarWinds.
Leon Adato (06:42):
Very nice. Okay. So I couldn't have written that story at all. I mean, that was not the path that I would have invented if you had given me just the starting and end points. And I think that that's an important thing for, to remember if you're listening, is that, um, many times our route from the there to the here, it can be circuitous, uh, along the way. I also, I want to talk for a minute. You said something really interesting about that, the work you were doing in the air force wasn't necessarily, um, the, the work or the support you wanted to be providing in the world. And I think that's another important recognition is that sometimes the modalities or the things that we do at one point in our life are incredibly valuable and they help us get to where we are today. And yet we couldn't go back to them. We couldn't do them now because they wouldn't serve us the way that they served us at the time. And I'm not thumbing our nose at our past or trying to, uh, wave it away or anything. But just to, to say, yeah, that was, that worked for me then, but it doesn't work for me now. And I recognize that I changed, right. I mean, it seems like there's some of that in there.
Jason Carrier (07:53):
Oh, absolutely. I have nothing but respect for everyone in the armed forces department of defense. Uh, I, the experiences I had there were, were definitely transformative as I was growing up. I got a lot of my discipline, grit, hard work, you know, uh, ethos kind of thing comes from that military background. Uh, I couldn't, you know, plus with my dad, you know, being a retired air force guy, uh, it it's had a lifelong impacts for me. Um, it's just the kind of the future facing direction. I'm looking at more like the outcome and I'm trying to live, uh, a life. That's kind of more in alignment with the philosophy that I've arrived at. It's been a long, lifelong evolution. Yeah.
Leon Adato (08:30):
Right. And that's a perfect segue to the second part of the episode, which is the religious side. So I will qualify this by saying that labels are frequently very difficult for people to, uh, settle on they're imprecise, no matter how many words you throw into it. When I ask people, you know, what are you? They usually start with some form of, well, I'm kind of this, and I'm a little bit of this, it's always, there's always a qualifier in there. Despite that fact, if you were going to define yourself religiously, what would you call yourself?
Jason Carrier (09:05):
And that's why I use the phrase. Self-styled Buddhist.
Leon Adato (09:07):
Jason Carrier (09:07):
Because if you say, if you say Buddhist, it's sort of denote in my mind, it sort of denotes that there's a, a group that you're a part of. And, uh, I've never really been a joiner when it comes to that kind of stuff. I've always kind of more, uh, dabbled and kind of pulled from it and ingrained it. Uh, what's gonna work for me kind of way, you know,
Leon Adato (09:27):
Right. Synthesized it to, to fit in with your lifestyle and your values and your general worldview. No, I can absolutely say.
Jason Carrier (09:35):
Leon Adato (09:35):
And again, I find lots of people do that, whether or not that synthesis is more easily, um, is more easily defined as a mainstream, whatever mainstream Catholic or mainstream, you know, Orthodox Judaism or whatever it is. And they're comfortable within those boundaries. There still some synthesis that happens where it's like, well, I'm at this, except I do this other thing too, or whatever it is. So that's, that's not uncommon. So that's where you are today. Um, and I want to, because it is self-styled, is there anything that, um, you would use as touch points for somebody who's saying, okay, so I know a little bit about Buddhism, but what does he mean by self style? Like what are some of the aspects of that that I would notice?
Jason Carrier (10:20):
Sure. So, uh, I, I really, I tend to get away from the things that I can't prove or validate that don't have. Uh, so for, for example, uh, if you're talking about kind of like ancient Vedic gods and things like that, I have less of an interest in that. I focus more on things that you would also find in like the realm of psychology or.
Leon Adato (10:39):
Uh huh.
Jason Carrier (10:39):
Neuroscience or, you know, things that kind of be, can kind of be empirically backed. I have a tendency towards those. Not that there's anything wrong with, you know, going with a more mythology driven approach to things it's just.
Leon Adato (10:50):
Uh huh.
Jason Carrier (10:50):
Not my chosen path. Right. And I think it's, you know, many, many journey are many different paths. One destination is sort of the, the, the view that I have on that.
Leon Adato (10:58):
Uh huh.
Jason Carrier (10:58):
Um, that, yeah, I think that answers your question.
Leon Adato (11:00):
Great. Great. Okay. So I'm presuming that that's not how the faith that you were born into, so, uh,
Jason Carrier (11:06):
Definitely not.
Leon Adato (11:06):
Where did you start?
Jason Carrier (11:08):
Well, so my, my mom, uh, actually did her best to raise me as a Presbyterian. And then we transitioned to the Lutheran church when I was growing up. Um, so I played the part, you know, went to Sunday school and, um, uh, you know, was an acolyte for a bit and,
Leon Adato (11:23):
Uh huh.
Jason Carrier (11:23):
You know, did all that kind of stuff. Uh, but I never really felt like it was something that I believed in. It was just something that I was kind of doing for mom, you know?
Leon Adato (11:30):
Jason Carrier (11:30):
So, uh, when I was around 16, I basically just stopped going to church and considered myself agnostic. That was the, the label I used for for quite some years.
Leon Adato (11:39):
Yeah. And again, you know, when we, when we're growing up, first of all, all we know is all we know. And, um, there's a lot of layers, even though it's easy to pigeonhole religion as a thing, the fact is that religion carries a lot of additional layers of community and, um, friendship and family and just all those ties. And so there are parts of our religious experience, especially as kids that really it's like actually the religion part was never part of it. It was always the social, or it was always the work, you know, we were always out doing, you know, helping somebody, you know, repair somebody's house or whatever. And I just liked swinging a hammer. Like you could call it Lutheran, but I like swinging, swinging hammer. So, you know, a lot of times it takes us a while to parse out the fact that these are the pieces that work for me and those pieces actually have no or minimal religious impact. And at that point, then you end up asking the question, well, what do I believe? So picking up where you were 16 and you had settled on the label agnostic, how did you get from there? The Presbyterian Lutheran, social, you know, 16 year old dutiful son side to the self-styled Buddhist. Like, what was that path? I won't even try to pretend that I know how that was going to look. I want to hear this one.
Jason Carrier (12:57):
Sure. Uh, my, my life's had all kinds of twists and turns in it. Uh, I've been told it's, you know, it would be a fun book or something someday, but, um, so I, I w I was going through my divorce actually. And, uh, there was a quote that I had heard, uh, just prior to that, that moment in my life, uh, from, from Einstein where he talked about, uh, uh, basically it was I'm going to butcher it, it was something along the lines of, you know, uh, all religions are probably false, but if one could really help the world, it would be Buddhism. It was something along those lines. Um, and, and that, that I've always been a big fan of, uh, Einstein. Uh, so, you know, that kind of had a little bit of an impact. It was tickling in the back of my mind.
Jason Carrier (13:34):
And then I came across a book as I was going through my divorce called storms. Can't hurt the sky.
Leon Adato (13:39):
Uh huh.
Jason Carrier (13:39):
The byline was a Buddhist path through divorce. Um, and so I read that and it just, it, it was the most resonant description of a worldview I'd ever heard before. Uh, some of the words that I heard just, just really had a big impact on me. And so I started drilling into, uh, this was about the time I went to Iraq to, uh, I started reading all kinds of philosophy books, uh, primarily from the Dalai Lama and, uh, Pemasha drone is a, uh, monk who lives up in Canada. Um,
Leon Adato (14:08):
Uh huh.
Jason Carrier (14:08):
And, you know, did, uh, a lot of writing on, uh, kind of internalization and reflection and introspection and, you know, that kind of thing. And, uh, it was around that time. I just, you know, kind of started describing myself as a Buddhist instead of an agnostic. You know.
Leon Adato (14:21):
Nice. Okay. That's good. And it is, it is absolutely delightful. And, um, life changing when you, you hear your experiences reflected in the words of someone else, and you say, Oh my goodness, that's me. And, and you have more ways of describing your experiences or who you are, because it's reflected in the words of another person. I mean, you know, you, the, the phrase, the con, the phrase that you hear a lot right, is you can't be it if you don't see it. And so having seen someone reflect the thing that, um, echoed or mirrored your experience allowed you to put a better, more accurate and more compelling label on it, that's really, um, that's wonderful. And I still couldn't have written it.
Jason Carrier (15:09):
Yeah. I think that's an important point too, is that it's, it's just a label. It's just a, it's just a badge you wear on your sleeve, you know, inside we're all the same, regardless of what words you want to use. There's just one, you know, uh, yeah,
Leon Adato (15:23):
Right right. well I mean,
Jason Carrier (15:24):
The rest of it's it's semantics.
Leon Adato (15:25):
Yeah. I mean, self-definition in one, respect self-definition is important. Um, I'm a big believer that affinity, you know, affinity groups, uh, matter, because again, you, you, we look for mentors, whether it's as it people or it's as, you know, co-religionists or whatever it is, we look for people who have a frame of reference where I can say, I'm going through this thing. Do you know anything about it? And they can say, yes, actually my experiences or what I've read, or this piece of work, you know, helped me, maybe it will help you. And that could be, I really am having trouble wrapping my head around SDN right now, because I'm a systems guy help me. And they're like, yes, absolutely. This is written with the systems guy in mind. So I think those labels are not throw-away as much as again, their self reference, you know,
Jason Carrier (16:17):
Leon Adato (16:17):
Referent, plural. Um, they're a way of me being able to quickly and accurately describe a set of experiences that I'm having so that you can respond to it and hopefully support it. I don't know if that, that works for you.
Jason Carrier (16:31):
Yeah, that definitely. Yeah. I totally agree with that. It's a way of, uh, kind of communicating to one another kind of where, uh, where we're coming from, like what viewpoint we sort of default to. Yeah.
Leon Adato (16:42):
Right, Right. And, and that's why I start the section by saying that that labels are imprecise because they're, without writing, without handing someone a book of me and say, here we go read this and then you'll know who I am right now, because its going to change.
Jason Carrier (16:56):
Sure. Yeah. It's always more complicated than the two words you share. Yeah.
Leon Adato (16:59):
Right. Exactly. Um, all right. So that, that lets us pivot to the blending of the two, um, the, the challenges and, or the, the joys that you found as somebody with a strong religious, moral, or ethical point of view, and also somebody who is deeply involved in the technical side of the world. And we know that those things sometimes create conflict. Sometimes they create amazing, um, complimentary experiences. I was just curious, you know, what kinds of things you've had in your journey, your dual journeys?
Jason Carrier (17:33):
Yeah. So from a technology, we actually had a conversation about this in one of the other episodes we just did recently, uh, talking about how technology is actually helped with, uh, from, from my perspective that the religious pursuit aspect,
Leon Adato (17:46):
Uh huh.
Jason Carrier (17:46):
Um, the, or Philosophical, however you want to, uh, coin that. Um,
Leon Adato (17:52):
Uh huh.
Jason Carrier (17:52):
The, the, the other piece though, is, uh, coming from a DOD, you know, defense, a warfighter kind of background, and then, uh, really delving into, uh, for all intents and purposes, pacifist, religion. I don't really consider myself a true pacifist if we're doing labels, but, uh,
Leon Adato (18:08):
Uh huh.
Jason Carrier (18:08):
Uh, it's, it's definitely a very pacifist type religion, you know, uh, shies away from violence. And so that created kind of a con, over a period of time. It wasn't an overnight thing, kind of created an internal conflict of desire to, um, really just focus my efforts in a different, um, industry, you know,
Leon Adato (18:25):
Jason Carrier (18:25):
Different do, do a different thing. That was the biggest kind of impact that, that had from a career perspective.
Leon Adato (18:31):
Nice. And, and yeah, that, we talked about it earlier, that that need to pivot away from one thing to move on to another, because of your growth, because in one respect, the thing that you were doing before was working until it didn't. And when it doesn't, you have to be honest with yourself and say, this isn't working. It doesn't make it bad. It just makes it not working for me right now, for whatever reason. Um, a friend of mine who we haven't gotten on the show, um, likes to talk about the moment as he was progressing from sort of reform or non-Orthodox Judaism into Judaism. And he said, you know, I always ate pepperoni pizza. Until the day I didn't. And that was the day I didn't. And that was it, you know, there was, there was nothing more to it, but there was also nothing less to it. So, you know, that those, those work experiences before worked for you until they didn't, and then, You move on. Um, so that was
Jason Carrier (19:25):
It's simple, obvious and also profound all at the same time. Yeah.
Leon Adato (19:28):
Right, right. Yeah. Well, it's, it's a big deal for you. It's often not as big a deal for anyone except your mother, especially with food. Usually if you say, I don't eat blah anymore, usually moms have a really hard time. In fact, there's a, there's a Jewish book that's called, "What Do You Mean You Can't Eat in My Kitchen Anymore?" And it is all about a daughter who becomes Orthodox and navigating the maternal relationship about, you know, will you eat over here anymore? How do you do that without creating, without creating emotional conflict, but still remaining true to this set of religious, you know, uh, values and, restrictions that she had taken on. So same thing, like I said, you know.
Jason Carrier (20:13):
Yeah, Yeah. I definitely, that definitely resonates with me. My, my mom, uh, came from a pretty conservative, you know, uh, background and did her best to raise me in that, uh, you know, kind of ethos.
Leon Adato (20:24):
Jason Carrier (20:24):
And, uh, seeing me go to Okinawa and embrace sushi and seeing you go to, you know, uh, India and just, I love Indian food. I, I love all kinds of, uh, that kind of thing. You know, having that much more global perspective than, than what I was really raised with, uh, has led to a lot of interesting conversations. For sure.
Leon Adato (20:44):
Nice. Um, so that was one of the, one of the challenges that you faced with your technical and your religious life. Were there any points or any experiences where it created, um, sort of a positive outcome where it's like, Oh, wow. You know, being technical is really great for my Buddhism or being Buddhist is really great for my technical work or whatever it is.
Jason Carrier (21:03):
The job that I have now. Yeah. Being a product manager, um, being able to, uh, listen to folks calmly and, uh, objectively as they're, you know, tearing your product apart sometimes, uh, with, uh, you know, pointing out all of its deficiencies or, you know, but being able to stay calm and not take it personally and, you know, just, just stay in the moment and be with them and, uh, practicing empathy and compassion and, um, um, social skills, you know, those are, those are things that I learned more so through faith in massage school, then I learned, uh, the way that most do in, in like a grade school, uh, you know, interacting with their peers.
Leon Adato (21:40):
Oh, I don't, I don't know that, um, no, the dog, the dog is fine. I agree with the dog.
Jason Carrier (21:46):
Leon Adato (21:46):
Um, the, uh, I think there's a lot of people who didn't learn it in grade school either, but I think that they learn it in the school of hard knocks. And so being able to pick that up and embrace it as part of your faith journey is fantastic. I'm, you know, I'm definitely a fan, um, of that. This has been an amazing conversation. I loved hearing the story of your journeys. Um, any final thoughts, lightning round, anything else that you want to share with the listeners?
Jason Carrier (22:15):
You know, I had to really think about this one to, to just pick one. And the one I landed on is a lot of us seem to walk around kind of on autopilot. So, uh, one of my, my big lessons learned in life, um, that sounds really simple, but it's actually profound is stop and breathe.
Leon Adato (22:32):
Uh huh.
Jason Carrier (22:32):
Take a few breaths, you know, let it sit for a second, whatever it is, let, let the answer sort of bubble up from a place of calm. And that's my best advice.
Leon Adato (22:42):
Very nice. Very good. Jason, it's always a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you so much.
Jason Carrier (22:48):
Sure thing. Thanks for having me. This was a lot of fun.
Leon Adato (22:51):
Thanks for making time for us this week, to hear more of technically religious visit our website, technically, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect us on social media.

S3E04: Tech In Religion 02

S3E04: Tech In Religion 02

March 9, 2021

image credit: CWWally:

“Tech In Religion” is a running series under the Technically Religious umbrella. In these episodes, we look at technology - be it a website, a phone app, or a gadget - that somehow deepens, strengthens, or improves our experience of or connection to our faith (our religious, moral, and/or ethical point of view). This is a tech review lovingly wrapped in a through-line about faith in general and our experience of faith in particular. The goal is to uncover and promote tech you (our audience) might not have heard about; or describe a use for tech you may know, but didn't think of using in connection with your religious experiences.

In this episode, Leon Adato is joined by Doug Johnson and Stephen Foskett. Listen or read the transcript below:

music (00:01):
Leon Adato (00:32):
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 Adato (00:53):
Here on technically religious. We focus on how we work to make our religious lives compliment, or at least not conflict with our career in tech. But what about the way tech enhances our lives as people with a strong connection to our faith, or lack thereof. In our ongoing series tech in religion, we aim to do just that in each episode, we'll highlight technological innovations that enhance, strengthen, and deepen, our connections to our religious, moral or ethical point of view. I'm Leon Adato and sharing their reason. Thoughtful, humble opinions with me today on the tech that helps our religion, our Doug Johnson, Hey, and also a newcomer to the technically religious, uh, cast is Stephen Foskett great to be here. Great to have you. Okay. So as is our want on technical, what we'll do is we're going to start off with shameless self promotion. Go ahead and tell us, uh, a little bit about yourself, whatever you're working on, that you want to bring to light for the listeners. And of course we want to know your religious point of view. Um, Doug, as the seasoned veteran, that means you're old.
Doug Johnson (01:57):
All right, here we go. I'm the old guy. Yep. Uh, Doug Johnson, I'm a web. Uh, my day job is I'm a web developer for Southwestern health resources, my side gig, which is going to make me a billion kazillionaire some day, If I live long enough is, uh, I'm the CTO for, uh, an RFID inventory company. So if you are an op, somebody with an optical shop and you really want to do your inventory better, why check out I can be found on all of the various sundries Facebooks, et cetera, as @Dougjohnson. And I'm an evangelical Christian, but not one of those weird ones. You know, we were allowed to dance, but not in the, uh, not, not in the aisles.
Leon Adato (02:40):
There we go. Okay. I didn't realize there was a delineation between aisle dancing,
Doug Johnson (02:43):
I should show you
Leon Adato (02:45):
Aisle dancing, Evangelical Christians and not,
Doug Johnson (02:48):
I'll tell you that aisle dancing white evangelical Christians have got better music than a lot of the rest of us, but, but yeah, the, yeah, it's.
Leon Adato (02:56):
Ok, all right.
Doug Johnson (02:57):
I'll show someday when we have nothing better to do, I'll show you, there's some great video out there.
Leon Adato (03:01):
We should record that. That'll be educational for everyone or entertaining. We'll see. All right, Steven, uh, please help bring this a little bit of maturity and, uh, and seriousness to this.
Stephen Foskett (03:13):
Well, I'm glad that you, uh, brought me in to bring you both down to, down to earth as it were. So, yeah, so I'm Steven. Uh, I, uh, my day job is running gestalt IT and tech field day. Um, maybe you didn't know this, but I am also a writer in the wristwatch community, um, and quite active in the world of collectors there. And, um, I do a podcast on artificial intelligence as well called utilizing AI. Um, as far as religion goes, I was raised as a liberal Christian in the Episcopalians in Connecticut. And, um, have since become even more, um, I dunno, loony left by going to the Unitarian Universalists and becoming essentially a humanist.
Leon Adato (04:04):
Uh, we, we take all kinds here, uh, and it does, it would take all kinds.
Doug Johnson (04:09):
Just this side of Buddhism is cool stuff.
Leon Adato (04:11):
Stephen Foskett (04:12):
I believe in people.
Doug Johnson (04:12):
Leon Adato (04:14):
That's good. I think be believing in people is not a bad position to take. All right, I will, um, I will close the circle by providing my information, which probably the technical religious folks can repeat on their own, but we'll do it anyway. I am Leon Adato. I am a head geek. Yes, that is actually my job title, and I took it almost sight unseen when they offered it to me at SolarWinds, which is neither solar nor wind. It is a software vendor that makes monitoring solutions. You can find me on the Twitters, and I say it just that way to horrify Keith Townsend's daughter. Every time I say it, you can find me there at @LeonAdato. Uh, I also am known to pontificate on things, both technical and religious on my website, which is And I identify as an Orthodox Jew and occasionally my rabbi will admit to knowing me. So there we go. That gives you an idea of what,
Doug Johnson (05:05):
So you're like a liberal Orthodox,
Leon Adato (05:09):
Yes, okay. Orthodox in terms of Judaism, not in terms of perhaps political or even, uh, you know, personal restraint, concept.
Stephen Foskett (05:21):
Hush up there you Non dancing evangelic.
Leon Adato (05:23):
Oh you want to see non dancing. You should come to my side, then it's, you know, then you can't leave no mixed dancing, like, forget about it. It's the whole thing. All right. So tech in religion, which is what this series is called focuses on, uh, finding technology that helps deepen strengthen, or, uh, clarify our connection to our religious point of view or religious experience. So, um, Doug, I'm going to pick on you first. Do you have some technology that really helps you out with your being an evangelical, but not one of those kinds?
Doug Johnson (05:57):
Yes. Well, I mean, I've got technology that helps me everywhere and it's, it enables, it enables my, uh, religious practice because, um, I am multiple things. Uh, some of them good, but most of them are like, I'm ADD, or I'm now AAD. Right. I was ADHD. And then I was, I thought I was ADD, and then I found out I was ADD HD, and then now it's AED. I'm an adult. I,
Leon Adato (06:25):
Attention defecate.
Doug Johnson (06:25):
They, they keep on changing the letters on me. So I am whatever the current one is. All right. But, uh, and I'm also have SAD, which is a seasonal affective disorder, except now it's called depression seasonal type or who cares? I mean, you know, it's just so some, between the months of October and March, my brain stops. Not completely. Um, but it just becomes absolutely worthless. In fact, we have quite an indicator. Um, I was late to this meeting because I forgot. It was on my calendar. It was everywhere. Things were beeping. I'm sure phones were going off. And, you know, I just completely forgot. So everything that I have is basically, uh, designed around to keep my brain on target when I'm doing stuff.
Leon Adato (07:12):
Doug Johnson (07:12):
So, uh, the first one is Trello. Trello is basically used for managing projects, right?
Leon Adato (07:19):
I was going to say, when you put it on the list, when we were prepping for this and you put on the list, I'm like Trello, helpful for being an evangelical Christian. These are, I wasn't going to make that connection, but I want to hear this.
Doug Johnson (07:30):
The question is, so what does your practice involve? I mean, do you do stuff for your church. Or your synagogue or whatever, do you do projects? Do you work with people on things?
Leon Adato (07:43):
Uh huh.
Doug Johnson (07:43):
Imagine that you were stuck with me on your committee, and.
Leon Adato (07:48):
[snorts with laughter]
Doug Johnson (07:49):
Exactly there you are. Now you understand, keep in mind that people who are, because I've been a Christian for so long. And because I actually do read the Bible and know the stuff that's in there, people always think, gee, this guy's really devout, which I am, but they don't also realize how flaky I am. And so by the time they find out how flaky I am, it's too late.
Leon Adato (08:12):
Its to late.
Doug Johnson (08:12):
They've already brought me in. They have me on committees. They have me doing stuff. One church made me a deacon. I mean, come on, think about this. So the reality is I have to go ahead and find ways so that I can get the things done that need to be done. The fact is there's a lot of people in Christianity who are wound just a little bit a little bit tightly. Just a smidge.
Leon Adato (08:40):
I even, I might have noticed that occasionally, but I wasn't going to attributed to Christianity particularly, but ok.
Doug Johnson (08:46):
Well I don't know. It's the group that I'm used to working within the, and I will tell you that the ones who actually make it into any kind of leadership position, except for ones who are attributed to be devout, but they don't know in flaky yet, anybody that's actually really, they're pretty tightly wound because they're, you know, in, in Christianity, it's really easy to offend people. And so the people who really make it are really good at not offending people. Now imagine that you go ahead and give Doug something to do, and he totally freaking forgets or the waits till the last minute. And there's like 15 people or, you know, anything at all. So Trello allows me to go ahead and keep track of what it is that I have to get done and what I've promised. And I actually, it's easy enough to use that. I can get other people on the committee, to go ahead and assign me tasks in Trello, and now it's there and I can track it because if they just ask me to do it, I'll agree to it. And if I can write it down right then fine. But the odds are by the time I get to my car, I've already forgotten,
Leon Adato (09:47):
Right? By the time you turned around and said, hello to the next person, you've forgotten.
Doug Johnson (09:50):
pretty much. Well, I mean, you know, w when we were all in churches all the time, you know, we were greeting, meeting and greeting each other, and I could have had a great conversation with you. And by the time I've talked to the third person after you it's gone. So that's why that's how Trello helps. I mean, I use it a lot of different places, but it does help me. It keeps me from getting kicked out of the church. So I may get kicked out for another reason, but at least I don't get kicked out off the committee for not doing my work.
Leon Adato (10:18):
Got it. Okay. What's up next?
Doug Johnson (10:21):
Um, the next one is not actually an app. It's, uh, it's called the Pomodoro technique. Uh, Pomodoro is Italian for a tomato and some Italian guy, had a timer, a little spinner timer thing that looked like a tomato.
Leon Adato (10:40):
Doug Johnson (10:40):
And what he did was he came up with this tea, He would spin it to 25 minutes. He would work, heads down for 25 minutes. When the timer went up, he would get up and walk away for 5 minutes and then he'd come back and he'd spin it for 25 minutes and he would heads down and you would do one thing for that 25 minutes. And then you'd get up, uh, another tech in another way, you can do it like 45 and then 15 or 50 minutes and 10, you know, but it's a combination of block of time with a timer and then a break. Um, now again, back to ADD, SAD, all those kinds of wonderful things. Now, the only way I get anything done, the only way I can go ahead and do stuff is to say, ah, for the next 25 minutes, I'm going to read scripture. And I'll sit down and do it. Whereas if I sit down to go and read and I'm like 3 verses, and I go, Oh, that's a good idea. I'm going to go look at this other thing. And I look up something on that and look, and next thing you know, I've read 3 verses it's 3 hours later. Um, and You know,
Leon Adato (11:43):
You've rea 42 Wikipedia, half of 42 Wikipedia articles,
Doug Johnson (11:46):
OH exactly,
Leon Adato (11:46):
you've built three websites partially,
Doug Johnson (11:51):
Exactly, but I haven't finished,
Leon Adato (11:51):
And you're holding a chicken in one hand and an Apple in the other.
Doug Johnson (11:55):
Exactly. But I have not yet finished my scripture reading for the day. So.
Leon Adato (12:00):
Of course not.
Doug Johnson (12:01):
The Pomodoro technique is it helps me at work, but it also helps me with my spiritual life, because I can go ahead and say for this next 25 minutes, I'm reading scripture. Or for this next 25 minutes, I'm praying or what, and it's limited, it's time, limited time boxed. When that thing goes off, I can get, stand up and walk away from it and say, that's it. I did it good. It's just like, it's like a spiritual discipline except, you know, not exactly.
Leon Adato (12:29):
I always wonder I mean especially.
Stephen Foskett (12:30):
Except its the exact opposite of being disciplined.
Doug Johnson (12:32):
Exactly. It's spiritual discipline for those of us who have no discipline whatsoever.
Leon Adato (12:37):
Right. And I just want to imagine God's side of that conversation, right? Like, you know, you're praying for 25 minutes and, you know, the, the, the beginning starts off real slow and real careful. And at the end it's like, and then I went, Oh, I'm done. So wait. and its like.
Doug Johnson (12:56):
Well, . And again, it depends on how you pray. A lot of my prayer is like a couple of things, and then I just shut up because really.
Leon Adato (13:02):
Got it.
Doug Johnson (13:03):
I think, God talks to God talks to me a lot more than I, he knows what's going on with me. And he knows it's really messed up. I mean, that's just the way that's, he knows that. So, uh, so I find it it's a lot, a lot easier for me to just shut up and listen for God. And I always know it's God talking, because he always asks me to do stuff that I would never come up.
Leon Adato (13:26):
[snorts in laughter]
Doug Johnson (13:26):
with in a million years on my own. I, once I once wrote a children's Christmas play, that had, 30 kids from the church in it, that I directed, and acted in, because I knew that it would get the parents into church one day in the year that they would never have come in otherwise. Now, you know, that's from God. Cause she, Leon knows I'm not a, I'm not a great fan of kids. Uh, you know, it's just like it,
Leon Adato (13:55):
You're really a people person and you're not a small people person.
Doug Johnson (13:58):
No! And they love me for God only knows why, but it just, you know, and so there it is. I'm just, so that was God.
Leon Adato (14:07):
Got it. Okay. One more. We got one more, you only get three on these shows.
Doug Johnson (14:11):
Ok. One more, this one, this one's easy and this one's relatively new to me. I came across it. It's called habitbull as habit. The word habit and bull as in a cow except.
Leon Adato (14:21):
Doug Johnson (14:21):
The male kind. Yes. Moo
Stephen Foskett (14:23):
I was thinking it was where the nuns put their hats.
Doug Johnson (14:25):
Um, could be.
Leon Adato (14:28):
You know, I haven't been on a farm a whole lot, but don't mess with the bull is,
Doug Johnson (14:33):
There's all kinds of ways we could.
Stephen Foskett (14:34):
I though it was bowl like a, like a cylinder, like a half of a sphere.
Doug Johnson (14:37):
Oh yes, no, no. In this case.
Leon Adato (14:38):
No, no, this is.
Doug Johnson (14:38):
it's a, yeah. The logo is, you know, like hook 'em horns, Texas, uh, university of Texas stuff, whatever. But.
Leon Adato (14:46):
Got it.
Doug Johnson (14:46):
Basically it's, it, uh, allows you to go ahead and habits that you want to do to go ahead and give it, uh, a frequency, a cadence, like I want every day I want to do this or 3 times a week. I want to do this. Or in the next month, I need to do this once a week. So you can lay out what they are, and it gives you reminders. And as you Mark them off, it gives you a string which actually builds that. Um, what are they, you, you, you you've put a string that string, that string of successes together. And after a while, you don't want to break the streak. So.
Leon Adato (15:26):
Got it.
Doug Johnson (15:26):
The beginning of this side, the first time I used it, I used at the beginning of the summer, when we were all locked down, I decided I should really start getting, and I got to like 80 or 90 days of walking, 8,000 steps every day. And I can tell you that since I'm not doing that at the moment, um, I managed to get 8,000 steps at least twice a month. Um, so.
Leon Adato (15:48):
Doug Johnson (15:48):
When I use it, and so basically what I, I had a scripture reading down my daily scripture, reading on habit bulletin, and that helps you maintain a streak. So it's really good. You, you get like 3 or 4 habits, uh, for the free version. And for, I forget however much it, you can get unlimited habits that you want to track, but
Stephen Foskett (16:10):
I just even thinking of the nuns, I'm sorry.
Leon Adato (16:13):
I was going to say, like you could see it on his face that he's just thinking of the nuns unlimited habits, it's like a panty raid but at a monastary.
Stephen Foskett (16:19):
how many can you put on it once, right?
Doug Johnson (16:22):
And now we know why the Catholic church, doesn't like the rest of us.
Leon Adato (16:28):
There's. I still.
Doug Johnson (16:29):
Oh, well, in any case, I'm going to let all of that just go because I am much more kind than that. Yeah. Okay. Bye none of us, none of us bye that, so, okay. But those are my three.
Leon Adato (16:43):
Great. And, and for the last one though, I, I like the idea of GAM, gamifying, your spiritual experience that, you know, I mean, we really are, you know, little monkeys sometimes as far as that goes and, you know, just feed the mice and the maze or whatever metaphor we want to use, you know, feed you know, you get that one little burst of endorphin and it just causes you to want to do more. And why not make your, your religious experience.
Doug Johnson (17:09):
Yeah, exactly. Well, and that's why Trello works for me because I get to check out, when my wife figured out that I like scratching things off lists. I mean, trust me, I get lists of things that she doesn't ask me to do anything more. She puts out on a list because she knows I'll check it off. So I'm a, I am for better or worse. I am really, I'm not a good human being, but I'm a heck of a monkey. So just so I use my tools to make me a better human being.
Doug Johnson (17:40):
There We go. All right. So
Stephen Foskett (17:43):
Were all just tech of a monkey, I think.
Leon Adato (17:44):
Yeah. Well, we're all, we're all wonderful monkeys. The question is whether we can make into better human beings as Well. Um, I like it. All right, Steven. Uh, I.
Stephen Foskett (17:54):
Leon Adato (17:54):
Realized that that was a very, bizarre conversation to follow up on, but, uh, you've given us some thoughts. So I'm curious about the tech that you use.
Stephen Foskett (18:04):
All right. Well, I'm gonna, um, first apologize, uh, for, um, uh, you know, I'm going to defend Facebook, so I'm sorry. Um, I'm sorry, those of you who find that a sin, um, frankly, it's terrible. We all know it's terrible, but it's also kind of not terrible. Um, because truly, I think that essentially we all need to find ways of connecting to each other and frankly, it's where everyone is. And it's not only that, but if you squint and turn your head and mute enough, you can actually see some positives to it too. And, um, you know, for example, um, you know, here in, in my town, um, there's a terrible town Facebook group, and everyone has one of those. Um, there's also a group where people go out in nature and take pictures of owls and trees and ponds, and talk about how they've discovered something lovely and wonderful in the town. And somehow that group has not yet been polluted by red and blue comments, and it's just, you know, wonderful. And it's the same thing, you know what I mean? You know, connecting with your family, connecting, you know, maybe some people in your family, you kind of don't want to connect with any more, but you know what, it's important that we know who's graduating. It's important that we know who's sick and who's better. And it's important that we keep connected and frankly, whatever makes that happen is I think a pretty good tool. And, uh, again, I, I don't want to say anything nice about them, but this is what makes it happen for me, frankly. This is the tool that we're using to keep connected with our families and, you know, in the pandemic, I think that that's doubly important. Um, people who have distributed families like me, that's incredibly important. Um, and so, yeah, um,
Leon Adato (20:09):
Stephen Foskett (20:09):
It's a great, it's a great thing.
Leon Adato (20:11):
I, you know, I can see the treatise now, you know, in defense of Facebook.
Doug Johnson (20:18):
I was away from it for a year and I came back and, you know, it's, it's not terrible. Um, I it's, I'm learning how to not follow people. That really are just over the side, but you're, I mean, there's a lot of good this, there, I, in fact, I miss Twitter because there were so many people that I enjoyed following, but everybody's just so wacko for a while there during the, during the Trump years. I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm hoping that it's just gonna chill some here.
Leon Adato (20:46):
Well And there's there. Just to add one quick comment, which is, um, a conversation that we were having a friend of mine. And I said, you know, he, he said, this is it. I can't deal with so-and-so anymore. I'm going to have to cut them out of my life. And, uh, you know, they're saying all this stuff on Facebook, it happened to be that I just can't, I can't deal with it. I can't fall. And into this conversation, my rabbi, who by the way, is on Twitter, which is a whole other conversation, but okay. And he said, you know, you don't actually have to listen to them. You could actually choose to mute. And again, this is by rabbi talking to me, the tech, you know, technology person and my friend who is a programmer and saying, you know, they have these options so that you never see anything that they say at all. And that way you wouldn't have to hear the horrible things that I'm not saying. They don't say horrible things. I'm just saying this doesn't have to impact your relationship with them in the sense of like, if the things they say bother you don't read them because they don't say them in public.
Stephen Foskett (21:54):
Yeah. And honestly, um, that, you know, I'm going to say, I'm going to, I'm going to change, changing up my, my list here. Um, I have to say that I've learned more about people and I've gained a better appreciation from people from dealing with people on social media, generally, um, Twitter. Um, so here's the thing, the other month I said something off the cuff that came off as incredibly stupid. And insensitive. Um, and it got retweeted a lot, like a lot, like I got probably 500 hateful comments, um, from people. And it was enough that I actually just got another spate of them last week because it's one of those famous things that keeps coming back, look at this stupid guy and this stupid thing he said, but, you know, what's funny. Um, and I think that this is, you know, perfectly fitting for, um, uh, context like this. The most remarkable thing is that I took the advice of, well, of all of the people that I admire and all the philosophers that I respect. And basically the answer was, you know, you did the thing, you know, recognize the humanity in these people. They're angry at you because of the way that they're perceiving you and, and, and what can you do with that? And so, instead of, um, and I haven't, I haven't talked about this really much. Um, so this is kind of a nice opportunity for me instead of, um, like yelling at people or telling them, you know, they're stupid or muting everybody or deleting it. Um, instead, you know, what I decided to do, I decided to write a response to every one of the people that contacted me, except if they swore at me, if they, if they swore at me or called me a Nazi or something, I was just like, okay, I don't need to engage. This person is just angry.
Leon Adato (24:07):
Uh huh.
Stephen Foskett (24:07):
And engaging with somebody who's just angry is probably not good. But if they said something like you're so insensitive, what about women? What about the disabled? You know, I replied and I said, you know what? I can see how you could get that from what I wrote. And I don't feel good about that. And that's not a reflection of who I am, and I'm sorry that you feel this way. And I'm sorry that I said something that, and you know, what happened next? What happened next was I got hundreds of responses back saying, wow, that was really nice. I really appreciated this response. You know, um, I'm still talking to some of these people, you know, six months later who basically introduced themselves by saying you're an idiot and you're insensitive. And I have to say, I've actually learned a lot more about people and I've learned how to work with people and how to, um, and I've learned more respect and humility from a bad day on Twitter than I did in a lot of Sunday school.
Doug Johnson (25:15):
Leon Adato (25:15):
Doug Johnson (25:15):
Yes, I totally get that. I mean, it, it's hard to go ahead and, not, not strike back. And so that, that on your part is admirable. And, you know, being able to go ahead and essentially own what you own, what you did and be willing to engage. And I try and engage. I offend people all the time, not intentionally there's people who do it intentionally.
Leon Adato (25:42):
I can vouch for the truth of this.
Doug Johnson (25:43):
It is right. When people come to me and say, I'm an idiot and I'm insensitive. I go, boy, you're, I could, I, you are so right. And I, upon, you know, what, what did, what did I do today? All right. And, and so, and, and, but, you know, again, being willing to own it and apologize for it, if it deserves an apology or to say, Oh, I, you know, I did not even think of it that way. I apologize to, you know, it goes a long way towards connecting with people. Which im not great at.
Stephen Foskett (26:12):
Yeah. And what you find is that, you know, people are really, a lot of people are really hurting and a lot of people are really, um, angry at the situations that they see around them. And they're kind of ascribing things to these situations. And by basically opening up and listening, um, you know, you can get a lot more out of it. And a lot of like real personal growth out of it. Um, and really that kind of fits with my, you know, my beliefs, you know, I believe that, you know, that people can transcend what they are, and what they, what they seem to be. And if you give them a chance, a lot of the time they will. And like I said, truly, a lot of people are just angry and, you know, sometimes, you know, you got to just let that burn out a little bit. So anyway, so I have definitely learned a lot more about that. Um, you know, and frankly, I feel like, you know, the other things that I was going to talk about, um, you know, unlike Doug, I absolutely do not have the Bible memorized. Um, but I do have blue light, uh, blue letter Bible on my iPad. And that lets me look stuff up and cross reference it when I need to. Um,
Leon Adato (27:29):
I think that overall the, you know, if there's one thing about just devices in our pocket at all, it's having access to a text that I am comfortable with, as opposed to having to arrive at a building and pull a book off the shelf that I might not be as familiar with, or know where to find things or whatever, and in a language that I'm comfortable with in a font size that I'm comfortable with. Like, I think that just the single most effective use of technology is personalizing the text in ways that are very personal to us. I think that that makes a huge difference. So yeah, I can see that.
Stephen Foskett (28:08):
Yep. And the amazing power of computers to cross-reference.
Leon Adato (28:12):
Uh huh.
Stephen Foskett (28:12):
Is just, um, and then search is just incredible. I mean, to think that you can say, um, you know, I want to find like, like, like, you know, Doug, you're writing a sermon and you're like, I need to find that quote where Jesus says this one thing, and to be able to just like, like click the little magnifying glass and you're there, you know, I mean,
Doug Johnson (28:34):
And you find out it was actually Joshua who said it.
Stephen Foskett (28:37):
Yeah. Jesus didn't say a lot of the things people think he said.
Leon Adato (28:42):
Stephen Foskett (28:42):
Um, yeah. And then I guess the final thing that I'll give a pitch to is, um, especially in the pandemic, I think a lot of people are in need of some personal connection and, and someone to talk to and someone to talk back. And yet we can't really go out. And so I am, I never thought that I would be into audio books, but I got to say, audio books are awesome. And.
Leon Adato (29:07):
Uh huh.
Stephen Foskett (29:07):
Being able to, you know, to sit down and just listen as somebody reads you, their book is, uh, it's weird and cool. Um, also puts me to sleep, but, um, at least.
Leon Adato (29:23):
But in a good way.
Stephen Foskett (29:23):
it couldn't go back again.
Leon Adato (29:25):
In a good, but in a good way, I mean, you know, it is, it is that comforting voice of somebody who has basically promised no, no, I'm going to read to you until you're calm. I'm going to keep giving you some ideas that will distract you from the circle, spinning of your brain. And I'll be there.
Stephen Foskett (29:42):
And there's something wonderfully soothing about somebody reading to you.
Leon Adato (29:46):
Uh huh.
Stephen Foskett (29:46):
I think it's a, it's like one of those things, like, you know, we're, you know, from when we're children, like, we love to have somebody reading to us. And especially now, like I said, with the pandemic, you know, you're, you, you know, everybody's trapped inside, you can at least sit and you can listen to somebody and you can kind of escape from this, into your head in a good way.
Leon Adato (30:05):
Uh huh.
Stephen Foskett (30:05):
And, um, and, and I'm loving that.
Leon Adato (30:09):
So just to, to add on to that one, uh, again, as, as people have been listening are familiar with, but if, if you're not familiar with Orthodox Judaism, uh, on Shabbat, the Sabbath from Friday night sundown until Saturday Sunday, and if it has an on switch, it's off limits, that's the easiest way to say it. So that means that, um, you know, for, for 24, 25 hours playing an audio book, or the television or any of those things is, is not going to work. So what's happened in our house is that, um, I will read. You know, we'll, we'll pick a book. We've, we've worked our way through the Harry Potter series a couple of times. And I will read with all the voices and that's what we do and lows during the day. And then at night the same thing, like, you know, my wife is sitting there, her brain is spinning with all the things that have to happen, whatever. And of course your brain is spinning with things that have to happen that you can not do because it's Shabbat, right? So now you have nowhere to put this and nowhere, nothing to do with this. So what do you do? You know, I sit there and I read, I read until she falls asleep and it's really, it's just sort of a delightful and the kids all come trundling to the room. My kids are in their twenties. Okay. Let's just be honest about this. So they come in and they've got their blanket and they lay, you know on the floor or whatever it is and we read and it's just, You know.
Stephen Foskett (31:31):
That's about the nicest thing I have heard in months.
Leon Adato (31:36):
Yeah. It's, it's fun. And they look forward to it. It's one more reason to look forward to what a lot of people like, how can 24 hours without anything, how do you do that? I mean, well, in my house, it's like, is it Shabbat yet? Can't we have Shabbat now? Like still got two more days to go kid. Come on.
Stephen Foskett (31:53):
Can you do Dumbledore for us please?
Leon Adato (31:56):
[Reading Harry Potter] She may have taken you grudgingly furiously, unwillingly, bitterly, Yet, She still took you. And in doing so, she sealed the charm. I had placed upon you. Your mother's sacrifice made the bond of blood, the strongest shield I could give you. While you can still call the poll, call home the place where your mother's blood dwells there, you cannot be touched or harmed by Voldemort. He shed your blood. He shed her blond, but it lives on and you and your, and her sister, her blood became your refuge. So that's Dumbledore.
Stephen Foskett (32:28):
I hear it. I hear it. I'm really glad that you don't sound like the Dumbledore in the movies.
Leon Adato (32:32):
No, no, no. John Huston, John Huston is the voice of Gandalf and Dumbledore like that is the wizard voice. Um, that's just in my head. That's what he sounds like. Um, so anyway, uh, back to our conversation, back to the topic, uh, audible books certainly are, you know, a calming source so that I can see how that, that would, that would be good. Okay. So tell you what, after, uh, doing my Dumbledore impression, I'm gonna, uh, wrap this up with a couple of recommendations of mine. Uh, just two of them. The first one is something that I mentioned in another episode, And I said that right as Stephen was taking a drink. So now I own the new cube, keyboard because he just spit all over it. Um, yeah, That's actually a website and it is a calendar that will give you all the different holidays and times and things like that incredibly useful because, uh, the Jewish calendar can be insanely complicated. And that's something I mentioned in the other episode, but what I wanted to bring out here is that there's two particular features on that website. First one is after you have created your customized calendar, that shows the things that you want and not the things that you don't want, you can export that to an Ical format. So it's not just like you have to go back to that website every time you want something, you can create your own calendar, including things like, you know, people's the, the anniversary people's deaths within what's called a Yartzite, which is very important. You can output that in the Ical format and have that sort of in perpetuity year after year, you can have it built into your calendar. And I find that that's especially useful because it's easy to forget that it's the first night of Hanukkah because it changes from year to year across the regular calendar. The other part is that, and this is very, very, you know, technically religious, there's an API, there's an actual restful JSON API. So if you're building your own application that needs to grab a Hebrew date, or what Torah reading, what Torah portion is that week, or what time sundown is or whatever, or what holidays are coming up, you can actually make a function call to the website, through their API and grab all that information back and use that. And as a technologist who has written a couple of WordPress modules and things like that, it is incredibly helpful because they've done the legwork on all the really hair on the knuckles, hard, uh, calendar programming that is so difficult to do. So that's the first one.
Doug Johnson (35:09):
Leon Adato (35:09):
And, um,
Stephen Foskett (35:10):
I really want to know if you can do a JSON post of why is this night different from any other night.
Leon Adato (35:17):
Uh, and get answers back.
Stephen Foskett (35:19):
Yeah. That I, that would be an API. So subscribed to,
Leon Adato (35:22):
I can, I can.
Doug Johnson (35:23):
That would actually be a get.
Leon Adato (35:26):
Well, hold on. No, no, no, no.
Stephen Foskett (35:27):
No no, That's something different.
Doug Johnson (35:30):
Unless you're going to send an unless you're sending your answer.
Leon Adato (35:33):
No, no, no. You need to do is you'd need to have the URL. And the first variable is which son you are.
Doug Johnson (35:40):
Leon Adato (35:40):
Because that's going to tell you what the return that's. So it would be, uh, a, uh, uh, get function.
Doug Johnson (35:47):
Alright, I know what I'm doing this weekend.
Stephen Foskett (35:50):
Yup, bracket quote. sun order colen.
Doug Johnson (35:52):
Right. I have to tell you, I am, I'm grateful for hebcal, because I remember Leon talking to me probably 10, 12 years ago about how we were going to build this thing. And fortunately, they got it built before I had to do it.
Leon Adato (36:07):
Doug Johnson (36:08):
We, we started talking about this and I'm going, Oh my God.
Leon Adato (36:13):
Right? And I don't know nearly enough to be able to spec that out appropriately either. So no, it, uh,
Doug Johnson (36:19):
It would have been if we'd still be working on it.
Leon Adato (36:22):
Yeah we would. And it would still be a horrible, it would never work Right.
Doug Johnson (36:24):
Exactly. So thank you, HebCal.
Leon Adato (36:27):
Thank you. So, and the last thing I want to bring up is just a website. Um, YeahThat' No, really. That's the website. YeahThat' There are a lot of websites that talk about whether a thing is kosher or not. This is actually a restaurant review website, and the guy who runs the website, um, does a lot of traveling, did a lot of traveling lives in the New York area. And he highlights the, the restaurants that are new and opening and what kind of cuisine they have. And honestly, you know, is it good? Is it run of the mill? Is it no, you really need to skip this place. He really does a good job of keeping up to date so that when I'm in a new city, typically I can rely on that to know what, uh, some of the places like I don't want to miss, or nah, that's, you know, I don't need to pay the cab fare or the, you know, Uber or Lyft ride to get out there it's not, it's going to be a hot dog and that's gonna be the end of it or whatever it is. So that, especially as somebody who travels to conferences and things, it helps me to know when there's a new place. Like, Oh, I've been in Vegas. No, no, no. They have a steakhouse. Now they have a kosher steak house. I would actually give away one of my children and I can name which one for the steak that I have. I fonder memories of the Tomahawk steak I had there than I have of at least one of my kids. Um, it's a really good kosher steak house, so that, but those are the kinds of things you can get from that. So that's very helpful unless you're one of my kids. Um, so that's, that's it, that's, that's the episode, uh, I'll quickly go to the lightning round, any final words or things that you want to add. Yeah, Stephen.
Stephen Foskett (38:01):
I actually, I really want to add something from my other world, from the world of watches.
Leon Adato (38:06):
Oh, go ahead.
Stephen Foskett (38:06):
There is a remarkable watchmaker who created a watch, a wristwatch that has the full Muslim calendar built into it. And it, and it actually shows the correct Islamic date using the phases of the moon. And one of the coolest things about mechanical watches that are all the cool things you can do with gears. So just imagine your API that tells us which day or which month it is. Okay. Now, now do that gears.
Leon Adato (38:36):
Uh huh.
Stephen Foskett (38:36):
Um, so if, if you want to look this up, it actually won the, one of the highest awards in watchmaking in 2020, uh, because it is a pretty remarkable achievement.
Leon Adato (38:45):
Stephen Foskett (38:45):
So it's by a company called Parmigiani, which is not Pomodoro, but it still has some pretty good technique.
Leon Adato (38:51):
So it's not the tomato, it's the cheese.
Stephen Foskett (38:53):
Leon Adato (38:54):
That's great. And we'll have the links for everything that we talked about in the show notes. Um, okay, great. That's that's cool. Doug, any final comments?
Doug Johnson (39:02):
Nope. I like all of the stuff I've used, all the stuff that Stephen uses, uh, probably not as effectively as he has, but that's good. I mean, there's just a lot of good stuff out there. I was just thinking today, you know, I read through the calendar thing this today in calendar and I realized how much stuff has happened since I was born. Queen Elizabeth became queen Elizabeth about three months before I was born.
Stephen Foskett (39:28):
Did you know that Betty White really is older than sliced bread?
Leon Adato (39:31):
Yes, I saw that.
Stephen Foskett (39:33):
True fact.
Doug Johnson (39:33):
That's funny. I did not know that
Leon Adato (39:36):
She's something like 3 or 4 years. 3 or 4 years older then sliced bread. Yeah.
Doug Johnson (39:40):
And that, and that's the important stuff that we have now. The good thing about having only a part partial brain at least for half of the year is now we've got technology that fills in the rest of it. Um, so that I can make it look like I actually deserve to exist on this.
Leon Adato (39:56):
You're a functioning, functional adult.
Doug Johnson (39:58):
Yeah I get a lot more done now than I used to. And, um, even, even though, uh, my brain is not working at full, I, at least I I've got systems and tools set up that sort of prop me up.
Stephen Foskett (40:11):
Well, can I just make a pitch? I think what the, the best, uh, technology tool to help religious people would be, would be a head-up display inside your glasses that tells you who is that person? What was I talking to them about last time? And what's their mother's name?
Doug Johnson (40:27):
Yep there you go .
Stephen Foskett (40:27):
I think that would really help.
Doug Johnson (40:28):
Well, as, as soon as, yeah, I was going to say there there's a new batch of AR glasses that somebody is coming out with. It look a lot better than the, uh, than the ones we've had so far. So maybe that maybe that'll be my next side gig after I make my million billion on this first one.
Leon Adato (40:44):
There we go.
Doug Johnson (40:45):
Or actually 43rd one whenever when I'm on.
Leon Adato (40:47):
Well, uh, I definitely appreciate all the parts of your brain that you decided to bring to the show today.
Doug Johnson (40:53):
Leon Adato (40:53):
And whenever you chose to bring them, look, I, you know, we're very flexible here and, uh, we're doing this, uh, you know, for fun. So it ain't like, uh, you're gonna, we're gonna dock your paycheck for it. So, uh, I appreciate you taking the time.
Doug Johnson (41:10):
I appreciate it. Thanks. I love this.
Leon Adato (41:12):
Doug Johnson (41:13):
Human beings. I like that I like, Oh my God.
Stephen Foskett (41:17):
I'm just glad to be able to meet Doug.
Leon Adato (41:21):
Yeah. Well, he's, you know.
Doug Johnson (41:21):
Oh, you say that now.
Leon Adato (41:23):
Yeah, someday soon. Thanks a lot, guys. Have a good night.
Doug Johnson (41:28):
Bye now.
Roddie (41:29):
Thank you for making time for us this week, to hear more of technically religious visit our website at, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions or connect with us on social media.

S3E03: Honor Thy Parents… technology?

S3E03: Honor Thy Parents… technology?

March 2, 2021

For folks working in IT, one of the situations we find ourselves in these days is fixing, upgrading, refurbishing, or replacing the PC's of our progenitors. The machines of our matriarch and patriarchs. The computers of creators. The Tech of our... well, you get the idea. But do we HAVE to? What I mean is, are we obligated by the bonds of family honor and respect, not to mention religious mandate, to make sure their desktop, laptop, tablet and pad are in tip-top shape? In this episode we're going to explore the ramifications of the commandment to honor our parents and whether that means we have to support their aged Windows 95 systems. Listen or read the transcript below.

Leon (00:32):
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 (00:54):
For folks working in IT. One of the situations we find ourselves in these days is fixing, upgrading, refurbishing, or replacing the PCs of our progenitors, the machines of our matriarchs and patriarchs, the computers of our creators, the tech of our... Well, you get the idea, but do we have to, what I mean is are we obligated by the bonds of family, honor and respect, not to mention religious mandate to make sure their desktop, laptop, tablet, and pad are in tiptop, shape. And this episode we're going to explore the ramifications of the commandment to honor our parents and whether that means we have to support their aged windows 95 systems. I'm Leon Adato and the other voices you're going to hear on this episode are my partners in podcasting crime. Josh Biggley.
Josh (01:36):
Hello. Hello.
Leon (01:37):
Along with frequent guest, Al Rasheed.
Al (01:40):
Hello everybody!
Leon (01:40):
and a new voice to the podcast. Kevin Sparenberg.
Kevin (01:42):
Hello and thanks for having me.
Leon (01:44):
Thank you for being with us. And we're going to kick off the show like we always do with uh, some shameless self promotion. So Kevin, being the Technically Religious newbie that you are, go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself.
Speaker 5 (01:56):
So my name is Kevin Sparenberg. I am the technical content manager for community at SolarWinds. I am found on pretty much all social platforms at a, @KMSigma, K M S I G M A. I have a blog at I am officially a lapsed Catholic. Uh, my wife was the good Catholic and basically a Bible church Christian.
Leon (02:17):
Very nice. Well, welcome again to the show. Al. Tell us, uh, what do you doin' these days?
Al (02:22):
So my name is Al, and as you pointed out, I am a systems administrator for a federal contractor here in the Northern Virginia area. I'm pretty active on Twitter, so you can find me best there in terms of social media, Al _Rashid. Uh, there you'll also find in my Twitter profile the URL for my blog and I am a practicing Muslim.
Leon (02:42):
Very nice. Josh, what's up with you these days?
Josh (02:45):
Oh, well, lots of things. Lots of things. Josh Biggley, I'm an ops strategist at New Relic. You can find me like Kevin on almost every social media platform using Jbiggley. I do not have a blog and I am officially as of December, 2019, uh, an ex Mormon.
Leon (03:04):
and I'm still not sure whether I say congratulations or, or something else for that.
Josh (03:08):
There's gotta be a hallmark card someplace.
Leon (03:11):
Absolutely. So I'm in Cleveland, so American greetings probably has something for it, right? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And just rounding things up. Uh, I'm Leon Adato, I'm a head geek. Yes. That's actually my job title, head geek at SolarWinds, which is neither solar nor wind because naming things is hard. You can find me on the Twitters as we say, just to trigger Kevin Townsend's daughter, uh, on the twitters @LeonAdato I pontificate on all things technical and occasionally religious at and identify as Orthodox Jewish and sometimes my rabbi lets me identify that way also. Yeah, before we dive into the show, um, just because we are, you know, in the world that we are in right now, I want to, I want to do a really honest check in how, how's everyone doing?
Kevin (04:03):
Are we going to use the stabby to lottery scale?
Leon (04:06):
I, you know what, let's do that. Let's, you know, you know, on a scale of one to five where five is I won the lottery and one is I'm feeling very stabby, how are you doing?
Kevin (04:15):
Uh, I'm, I'm hovering at a good like two, five, like I'm doing okay, but I'm not pleased. I've realized something that my wife has broken about me is I actually like seeing people in person and the level of isolation is just starting to kind of hit me slowly.
Leon (04:31):
Oh, got it. Okay. Al, how about you?
Al (04:36):
uh, I, I didn't win the lottery. I'd probably say between a three and a four. Um, things could obviously be worse. We hope they can get better sooner than later. Uh, the biggest challenge for me personally, or as a father I should say as a parent, is just trying to keep the kids occupied and engaged and remain positive while, you know, we've been stuck at home just like everybody else.
Leon (04:58):
Yeah. I think a lot of parents are in that same position where, you know, it's, it's week number four or five depending on what your region of the country has done and, and every rainy day activity that you had is done and you're sort of scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to figure out what else are you going to do when summer is looming. Okay. Josh, how about you?
Josh (05:18):
You know, this week I'm going to rate myself at about a four. Um, you know, I've, uh, I made some changes this past week. I started getting up earlier, forcing myself to get out of bed because, you know, it's real easy to, uh, stay in bed until, you know, eight or 8:30 and then, you know, grab a quick shower and bring your breakfast to your desk. I don't advise that it's really bad for your, uh, you know, for your work life balance. Uh, and, uh, in case anyone forgets, I live on an Island. So a couple of weeks ago we actually shut down, um, all ports of entry. So you can't cross the bridge, you can't fly in. The only way you can get across as if you live here or you're a deemed essential worker. And yes, we are turning people away at the border. So we're really fortunate on PEI and that we have a 26, uh, confirmed cases of covid 19. Um, of that only three are active. We've had no deaths and no hospitalizations and no evidence of community transmission. So really good to live on an Island that we're, we're very fortunate up here. Um, I mean, our, our worst complaint is, uh, you know, Oh my goodness, I, I'm living a dog's life. I'm getting up, I'm eating my, I'm taking a nap. I'm pooping and I'm going back to sleep,
Leon (06:28):
or an infant. Right? Or is the order the order doesn't matter. Oh no, I'm sorry. Between bed and pooping, it's very important to get those in the right order. There's a couple of places where orders are important. Okay. And I, for me and my family, we're, we're around a four. But, uh, as I mentioned before, we started recording Passover just finished. Um, and that was really taking a lot of our attention. And so with that finally, uh, you know, behind us, I think that this is going to be the first week that feels like not normal life because we were so focused on cleaning the house getting ready for an eight day holiday and things and being in an eight day holiday, you know, four days of which were offline. So you know that now we're going to see what you know, what's it really like.
Leon (07:18):
Um, and I also want to take a minute, although I know that these episodes are timeless. Uh, it is April 19th, and I want to wish people who observe it a happy, uh, post Passover and counting of the Omer, a happy post-Easter and an upcoming, uh, Ramadan Mubarak. So, you know, we are not yet problem. So yeah, it's, you know, some of us are trying to lose the weight that we gained and meanwhile, Al and, and his family are trying to bulk up in preparation for a month of fasting.
Al (07:51):
I think I've done enough bulking up in these last few weeks. So hopefully uh..
Leon (07:55):
You've been training for this your whole life. I get it, I get it. With those things, things behind us. Um, I want to start off with what I'm calling talking 0.0 in this talk. And that is, uh, just to say upfront that while we are talking about parents, we are not necessarily talking about our parents unless we explicitly say, my mom or my dad did something.
Leon (08:18):
We are using fictional examples. So mom, as you listen to this, I'm not talking about you unless I say I'm talking about you, so please don't worry about it. Um, because we're not really here to spread gossip or make our parents feel insulted or give them a reason to feel embarrassed in any way. So I want to put that up front. And the other thing I want to point out is that we know lots of people have parents who are incredibly tech savvy. You know, some of us are lucky enough to have parents who still know more about tech in it than we do. Um, I, I've seen on Twitter and other places where the inevitable joke about how to get your mom to use her iPhone is like, my mom teaches computer science classes and probably taught, you know, you and your parents both, you know, and that kind of thing.
Leon (09:00):
So we know that there's lots of parents who are very tech savvy. Um, we're not playing on that old trope. What we want to focus on in this episode is the boundaries of sort of the filial obligation when it comes to us having skills that they don't, we could be talking about plumbing or you know, car repair or dog training or whatever, but you know, we're technically religious, so we're going to focus on tech because #geeks. With those disclaimers out of the way, uh, the first talking point, I think because we're in it, let's go ahead and define our terms. What does it really mean to honor thy father and mother? What are we talking about when we say that?
Josh (09:40):
I mean at this age or like when I was a kid.
Leon (09:44):
Well, I think now I think, I think kids, it's a lot more cut and dried, but I think as an adult, that's where, and especially again, because we're gonna be talking about fixing our parents' computer stuff and dealing with their needs as a user. And Al, you probably on the show have waxed the most eloquent about users. You know, users are always users. They are, they always have an opinion. But you've said a lot about whether their requirements are always valid and our parents are just as much a user as anyone else. Sometimes
Al (10:14):
how it can be a challenge, there is a fine line, especially as you just pointed out, one where adults, when we're parents, when we're husbands and or wives, um, you can't always be there for them. You want to provide as much as possible, but sometimes being honest and blunt and saying politely, no, I can't do it. It might sting a little bit at first, but if you build that solid relationship leading up until that point, both sides can get past it.
Leon (10:42):
Sure, absolutely. I still want to, I still want to focus on what does honor your father and mother mean though as an adult, what does that come down to?
Josh (10:51):
So I have an interesting perspective on this. Um, and it really is tied to my status as an ex-Mormon. Um, when I told my family and I was the first one to leave the Mormon church or the church that is currently using the term, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is their full name or LDS church, I called up my father and I said, Holy crap, did you know this stuff? And his response to me was, yeah, I did. My response is, why didn't you tell me? And he said, I didn't think it was important. And so when it comes to, yeah, right. So when it comes to honoring your father and your mother there, there is a, uh, a fine line and I think it comes, it's or is best articulated in that moment you have as a parent, when you say something and you're like, Holy crap, I am my parents.
Josh (11:46):
You, you know, that intonation the words. You're like, Oh my goodness, I have become, I have become my parents. Now that can be both a good thing and a bad thing. And honoring your parents is, for me is recognizing the things that are really powerful. Uh, one of my, I think one of my favorite LinkedIn posts that I've ever written is about my father and his level of honesty and the lengths to which he went in order to be seen as an honest and truthful man. Um, on the flip side, when we see things that our parents have done that are not in keeping with the things that we would want to honor moving beyond those things, as parents, as, as Al said, as husbands and wives as, uh, as members of community and doing good, to me that's honoring the name and it's something I always told my kids and I still tell them when they go out.
Josh (12:39):
I said, remember the things you do reflect on us as a family. So just remember that when you're out in the community and interacting with people and it doesn't mean you can't call BS, BS. That's okay. You know, you can't call in when you see stuff, say something. Right? It's not, it's not just for the department of Homeland Security. Quite literally. If you see something, say something and that's okay, but you, you know, you need to remember our name. So for me, honor thy father and thy mother, do the things that your parents did awesome - continue to do and the things that your parents sucked at, be better at that than they were. And, and so doing, you honor the name that you carry.
Al (13:15):
One thing that I took from Joshua's point is things do come full circle. So things that you saw as a kid, maybe you didn't necessarily improve or you didn't understand. But now here you are as a parent and you have to decide, do I honor my parents? Do I follow in their footsteps? How do I approach this?
Leon (13:34):
I want to offer a perspective from, from the Jewish point of view that honor thy father and mother, um, comes down to some pretty cut and dry things. The bare minimum in Jewish thinking is that you have to make sure that your parents have food, clothes, and shelter. That that's, that's what honor means. Um, and as long as you've done that, then you have fulfilled your obligation as a child. Now, there's, there's ways to express that honor, um, that aren't considered the bare minimum. You know, for example, when a parent enters the room, you should stand up. If you're at a meal, you should, uh, pour, you know, a drink for them, pour water or whatever. Um, you don't have to necessarily run to get your dad, scotch or your mom a scotch, but, uh, you should pour them a regular drink and things like that.
Leon (14:22):
Those are, those are ways that you express it, but that's not a requirement. That's simply an outward expression of the idea of honoring your parents. But at no time does the Torah or Talmud say in either medieval French or Aramaic or Hebrew that you have to fix their iPad. You're not required to. So again, when we talk about honoring your father and mother, there are some, there's some fairly explicit boundaries. Um, honoring your father and mother also does not, in Jewish thinking, require you to take abuse or bad advice. If it my parent. And so I'm Orthodox observant. My parents aren't. They never were. We became Orthodox just a few years ago. So if my, if my parents said to me, which they, they don't, luckily we have a good relationship as far as that goes. They say, you know, you know what, I really need you to come over on Shabbat. I really need you to do these things and honor your parent comes before that. You can say no, you can say no, no, that's not how this works. You can't, you can't leverage honor your father and mother for me to break other commandments. So you don't have to do that or take abuse or what have you. So all of that also falls into it.
Josh (15:32):
I mean, I feel like I honored my father when I told him to get an iPad. Right? And so my dad, my dad is a tinkerer. Uh, he, he is, uh, he tinkers and all sorts of things. Um, and he loves to tinker with technology. And I, I got tired of, I got tired of him having a broken computer. And finally one day I said, dad, you gotta buy an iPad. You're killing me. You gotta buy an Apple. Uh, and uh, and he has, and that is the one thing that is consistently the iPad just works. And you know, bless my parents, their, uh, my, you know, my mom is a [cough cough] years old and my dad is in his mid sixties. And um, I mean they, they're both pretty good with their technology, right? They've got the whole, you know, hold it with one hand and you know, press with one finger thing, you know, they're, they're not texting, you know, like my kids text. But it's cool. Right. But so my question for us then ultimately is how far do we have to go with, with fixing?
Kevin (16:35):
Well, I think it's a little bit of what everyone said, but for me it's been, I don't want to say it's been a struggle, but it's been a, it's been an ever-changing line. So obviously when I'm young, when I'm five, 10 years old, it's listening to obey near practically everything they tell me. But it's when I transitioned into adulthood, you know, and maybe some of that's being a teen is you, you stop listening or you fight back or whatever. And then when you finally get in to be an adult. And I think there's, there's kind of a, I can honor and respect my parents more now that they honor and respect me as an adult. And that's probably not the way it always should have been. But that's been the ultimate end of it. And I think you're right. I think there's, there's, there's the mid bar there is, and I think you mentioned, you know, uh, you know, making sure they have food and shelter and if that's the absolute bare minimum, great, but does that mean I take the time to still call them out on their birthdays? Do I still check on them every so often? And those are things that I do because I enjoy being as part of them. I don't do it as an obligation. If I was obligated to do it, I probably wouldn't do it too much teenage rebellion stored up.
Leon (17:40):
You're not the boss of me.
Kevin (17:41):
There's a lot of that. Uh, but I think there is, and I've become friends with my parents, which is good, which means if, and when I do have to tell them no, that's not a good idea. They acknowledge it.
Josh (17:52):
So I think ultimately the question that I have is how far does this honor thy father and thy mother go when it comes to tech support? Look, I love my parents. I don't always agree with them, but I'm not their tech support. Right. I have fixed their computer, I have fixed their printers. I have helped my mom with Excel formulas, uh, because she worked well into her sixties and was still doing, you know, reasonably complex Excel formulas, at least for, uh, someone who works in a administration and education. But like I said, I, I came to this point and I said, mom and dad, you just need to buy an iPad because I am tired of fixing your technology. Um, just, just don't touch that crap anymore because, I mean, I live across the country now. They live in Ontario and I live way out here on the East coast and I can't roll down to your house.
Josh (18:44):
And fix your stuff for you anymore. I mean, sometimes I think it means, uh, love me and saying no. Like I'm not going to keep that antiquated, whatever. And I know we're, we're geeks, you know, #geeks as Leon you said earlier. So we're talking about computers and not, you know, phones and you know, that old flip phone that your dad had, like those things. But, uh, it also means there are some things that we need to tell the parents to just let go of. Right. You know, classic cars. You should let go of them and they should come to me.
Kevin (19:16):
Subtle. You're good at subtle, Josh.
Al (19:19):
Your inheritance, nah, I'm just joking.
Josh (19:22):
you know, a old coin collections, uh, any, uh, bearer bonds of... I'm sorry. No, sorry. Sorry, mom and dad. There comes a point in time where we just need to say to our parents, okay, Hey, you know, I'm just, it's time. It's time to put that piece of technology to bed.
Kevin (19:39):
Yeah. But it's weird for me though because my father taught me computing like originally. So to then me have to turn around and tell my dad, yeah, uh no, I'm sorry you don't actually know what you're doing right now. And it's, it's not an all things, there's always like an edge case kind of thing. But being able to like be have that conversation with them was like, no, I'm sorry. That's not how operating operating systems work anymore. No, I'm sorry. That's not the way bioses work anymore. No, you can't look for your dip switches. They aren't there anymore and there's a conversation needs to be had there that my father has been thankfully very gracious about, but he could have taken an alternate viewpoint of, you know, you're my child and how dare you. Thankfully he hasn't done that, but I've also been able to, how do I say this nicely? I've been able to pawn off kind of desktop support on him than he does himself. Like he supports himself and my mother and when it's network level stuff, that's when I have to get involved.
Leon (20:39):
I think a lot of us who grew up at a certain point in time as far as the computer age, our parents, the first, uh, people who taught us computer because they bought them in the very early eighties, uh, my dad went out and got an Atari 400 computer and you know, there was a word processor and things like that. I was a better typist, but, uh, you know, he was the one who had the computer and he was the one who had the cash. So when it was time to get the 800 and then the 1600, he got it. And he was the one who got deep into it as a hobbyist. You know, and this is partly why we're having this, this episode is that I've spent, I'm now on hour number 40, upgrading my dad's piece, windows seven PC, and it's taken 40 hours because, uh, it's, it's a little older. It's okay. He got one of the most overpowered computers you could get about four years ago. It's no longer overpowered, but it's still powerful.
Leon (21:34):
But the components are all custom components that he paid someone to put together. Um, he got a, you know, super duper graphics card because, uh, Microsoft publisher needed it to create a PDF. And yeah, Kevin, to your point, like he keeps talking about dip switches and things like that. There aren't dip switches anymore. So I've been working for 40 hours to upgrade this and Windows seven simply won't upgrade. So I bought a SSD drive and I'm going to put windows 10 on the SSD drive, but I can't because he won't let me redo everything because he needs to get a replacement for his beloved paint shop pro.
Kevin (22:16):
and an in place upgrade, which goes for that age is not really a good idea.
Leon (22:21):
Yeah. And, and I, I give him credit because he grudgingly let me replace Outlook express a couple of months ago. Thunderbird. Yeah. Thunderbird. Thunderbird. Yeah.
Leon (22:34):
So the point is, is that, um, they, some of us have parents who might have been better than us at tech at one time because they were hobbyists. Um, but they're not anymore. And the thing that saved me was the fact that my dad is, was a hobbyist when it came to technology. He didn't have a whole lot of ego tied up in it. I think that if it had been something closer to his area of expertise, if, you know, if I had gone into music and we had had, I'd had strong opinions about, you know, the music scene or things like that, he might have felt a little bit more strongly. Who knows? He might've been more gracious about it. I don't know. Um, but it, thankfully being able to honor my dad means being able to tell him the hard truth and trust that I'm going to say this. He'll be adult enough to accept that hard truth. I think if I told him there is no replacement for Paint Shop Pro, which he's used exactly zero times in the last two years, um, he probably would be disappointed, but he, he deal with it.
Al (23:42):
Yeah. If I could, I'm actually in a unique situation. Um, both of my parents have never been in the tech growing up. Did they buy tech equipment for me? Laptops, desktop computers, yes. But they never themselves got into tech or had an interest in tech. Up until about maybe 12 years ago, I bought my mother a desktopm, set up a modern, this one, their spare bedrooms at the house, connected it to their, you know, uh, wifi connection and whatnot and she had no use for it. She couldn't acclimate to it. She found it hard. She found that a challenge and the time I spent, to your point, Leon, trying to assist her over the phone, trying to guide her on how to do simple tasks, it became kind of cumbersome and I didn't see this going any further or it becoming a learning experience. Um, my brother who happens to live about 20 minutes away from my parents, I live about an hour away.
Al (24:37):
He is my default tech guy when I can't get through to them on the phone. What I've done, what I've done is share everything with my brother via Google shared document in terms of how their network is set up at home, what their passwords are, what their usernames are, but they still found it cumbersome, more so my mother, about six or seven years ago or whenever the iPad was introduced, it seems like ages ago, these days, while we're sitting at home for weeks, I've gave my, I bought my mother and iPad and she's adjusted to it flawlessly. It's been a piece of cake, requires no maintenance. I don't have to struggle with her over the phone for hours at a time. And most recently during this covid shutdown or however you want to describe it, my, my kids and I, including my wife, we will call my parents on my mother's iPhone and have a FaceTime call because it makes them so happy they get to see the kids and vice versa.
Leon (25:31):
And I think that as, as IT pros, there's a couple of, there's a couple of lessons there. First of all, um, for every user, and this is both in corporate settings as well as in home settings, finding the, the form that works for the, for the application. And when I say application, I don't mean the program but I mean the use case, that not every use case is a desktop computer and not ever use cases, a laptop and not ever use cases, a ruggedized strapped to your wrist, Borg style computing device. But some use cases are one of those things. And figuring out the correct use case is as necessary for our family members as it is for, you know, the corporate environment. You know, trying to figure out whether this is a cloud based app or if this is better as a microservice or this is better as a on premises, you know, legacy, uh, application running on Cobalt.
Al (26:26):
Right? Absolutely. Yeah. And when I set up, if I could go back real quick, when I set up her wifi network at home, I created a simple SS ID. I tried to create, not necessarily a complex password, but kind of in between. That became a challenge. Trying to explain to them upper case, lower case, special character. even after I printed out everything for them as well and stuck it on the refrigerator so they can see it for themselves. And it just got to the point where, you know what, here's your password. It's ABCD, one, two, three, four, five, whatever and everything works fine. No, nobody heard that. There'll be those where they live either, but it just, it's a fine balance. You want to accommodate them, you want to create a comfort level for them. So they accept technology, but you don't want to be their full time geek squad employees.
Leon (27:15):
Right. And that was the other piece I wanted to point out is that again, as IT professionals, we have to recognize when the job is bigger than just us. Uh, my brother works in desktop support very much like you, Al. Um, when I can't get there or it's just something that, you know, I've, I've tried, I've tried to have, the conversation wasn't working. It's like Aaron, Aaron, can you please, please Aaron? So, you know, it was like you are going to owe me a steak for this. Okay, fine. I will buy you a steak for this. Yeah. Um, so, so knowing when you need to call in other members of the team and sharing documentation, absolute 100% sharing the documentation, all good things. Um, I do want to point out sort of one of those, on the other hand things where we say that, you know, the, our responsibility is IT pros doesn't necessarily require us to support our parents in their tech. Uh, Jessica, uh, I hope I'm saying her name right. Jessica Hische, um, has a very famous webpage. that you'll find in the show notes and one of the very few yes, Workflows in should I work for free? Is, is it your mother? So just as a counterpoint, should you do it, you know, 32 hours of labor and you can't make a flyer for my garage sale.
Al (28:38):
They can see me, but no, but.
Josh (28:42):
This reminds me, this reminds me of my, my neighbor who is well into her eighties, and every year around Christmas time, she calls me up and says, Josh, can you come upgrade my computer? And the very first time she called, I thought, Oh my goodness, what does she want from me? And what she wanted was for me to install the new antivirus for her. Um, and you know, and just make little tweaks, you know, she uses it for email and, uh, every year she sends me home with, you know, a box of chocolates or something else. It's, you know, you usually take it right into the hall... Hook them up by the, yeah. Actually hooked me by the belly. Right? It's more of the thing. Um, and it's, you know, it's a, a great symbiotic relationship that we have.
Josh (29:32):
It's usually an hour long, uh, engagement, but it, it, it brings to my mind who, because my parents don't live near me, who else should we honor? Is it just our father and mother? I know that in Christianity there's a, uh, a creed, uh, that's in the King James version, um, of the New Testament in Matthew 25 verses 40 and 45 says, "verily I say unto you, in as much as you have done it on to one of the least of these, my bretheren you've done it unto me." And then in verse 45, "Verily, I say unto you in as much as you did it, not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." So, you know, if we do it to one of the people that we should honor, then we know we've done it to God. And if you don't do it because of whatever reason, you've also not done it unto God. And I'm just wondering in the other religious observances, uh, of our guests, like what do you do, right? Like is, is there an equivalent to the, you know, in as much as you have done it unto the least of these.
Al (30:34):
So in Islam, one of the five pillars is zakat. It's a duty to perform by all Muslims. Um, but it's more on the religious side. It's, I don't know how to, I'll try my best to be delicate with this approach. It's, it's about giving back, giving back to the poor, to the needy, to the less fortunate. I don't know how to make this, this comparison when it comes to providing IT or tech support. Like I said, just drawing the line and saying, when is enough enough? I've gone above and beyond, There's not much else I can do. Um, so on and so forth.
Leon (31:09):
And I think it's, it's analogous to the Jewish concept of tsadaka, which people, uh, translate inaccurately as charity. But the concept of charity is that I'm doing this out of the goodness of my heart to give. And that's not what tsadaka and I think in Islam, you know, zakat also the, the, the, the commandment or the, the deed of tsadaka benefits me, the giver. It doesn't benefit the, the receiver. In fact, the highest, the best form of tsadaka is where I'm giving and I don't know who's getting, and the person who's getting doesn't know that I gave, it's completely anonymous because it's not about giving and feeling some sense of largess it's to build, to cultivate the personal ethic of being a giving person. So I'm not sure that that zakat or tsadaka in, in Judaism necessarily. What I will say does, does match up is the idea of um, protecting or not afflicting the stranger among you, the widow, the orphan, the disenfranchise, which is mentioned in some people say 36 times, other people count up to 46 times in, in Torah or Old Testament that there's a mention of, you know, protect or do not afflict or take care of, again, the widow, the orphan, the disenfranchise, the stranger among you. And I think that that's more analogous. And that is if you, if you're going numerically, it's a much more important commandment to observe. Um, and so taking care of people around you in your community who can't do for themselves. Now again, Al, to your point, there's gotta be a line. There has to be a line at which I've given, but I can't give anymore. I can't be required to keep giving even though there are those who aren't. You know, if I was going to do free tech support for everyone in the community, I'd never, I'd never sleep
Al (33:13):
well, nor would you. Nor could you pay your bills. Let's be frank. There is a, it's not about finances or it's not a financial game. You're doing it because you're doing it out of the kindness of your heart. But eventually there are times where it's taken advantage of and you just have to say, I can't, I'm done. I can't do much more for you.
Kevin (33:32):
No, it's, it's funny though because I think, and this is tying back specifically to my parents is that, uh, for a number of years it was kind of, it was never mentioned. It was never spoken directly, but it was an, uh, in kind trade. So I would help my, my father and my mother with their computers, with their local network, with their wifi, whatever it was. And in exchange, my father would help me keep the cars running or teach me some stuff about how to do home repair and maintenance, you know, whether it's some plumbing or some electrical. And I think that when I mentioned earlier that kind of, there was a tipping point for me when, when my parents saw me as an adult that we could actually have this communication. Uh, almost like friends where my father saw that I was in need, that I as an individual, a member of his community, member of his family needed help with, you know, electrical or plumbing or mostly dry wall. Let's be serious. I can do the other two. Dry walls, I'm horrible at it. But, but my parents weren't able to do the computer side of it, including like building a machine from scratch, which my father literally hadn't done since about 85. I think it was a PS1 at the time. And I said, this is cool. Well let's order parts. And we built it together. So it was, you know, it was, he was honoring me as a son by including me in that project, just as I was doing the same. And each of us, it was a net gain for both of us. And I think that goes to the giving for the sake of giving is, is really about the giver. It's not about the recipient.
Josh (35:06):
There's one time where giving old technology is. Okay. Uh, and, and here's, here's the example about 18 years ago and I know because my wife was pregnant with our youngest child who is now 17, uh, my father-in-law who would often travel to Jamaica, found a school in St. Anne's Parish that he decided we needed to build a computer lab for. They, you know, they had, they had literally nothing. Uh, so not only were we going to, uh, build a computer lab, but we are also going to have to kind of refurbish this you rundown building, um, and put in desks and computers. Like the whole thing. And knowing that I, you know, was in the industry, I was tasked with designing and you know, helping to source. And so we ended up sourcing, I don't gee almost 20 years ago, I'm going to say, uh, 20 machines.
Josh (35:54):
We prepped them all, you know, packed it all into this big shipping container and shipped it down in Jamaica. And if you know anything about the wonderful Island of Jamaica, it is beautiful and everything operates at about Oh one eighth time. So what we thought was going to be, uh, you know, this quick. Hey, drop things off and then we'll fly down and we'll spend a week and you know, bigger thing. It took many, many months. What did we send them? Man, we did not send them the most cutting edge technology. We sent them the most simple technology that had been battle tested that we knew that was sitting on the desks in a hot, un-air conditioned room. It was going to keep running. It was the same technology, but at the time I used in a, an automotive plant, right? These machines that, you know, how do you fix them?
Speaker 7 (36:40):
You pick them up and you drop them and then the problem goes away, right? Like those are the kinds of machines that you want. So sometimes it is, it is okay to give technology that is fit for the purpose of is, you know, it's needed for in the case of these kids and this, uh, in the school at St. Anne's Parish, um, you know, they had these machines and I mean, I ended up sending my best friend out in my place because I couldn't go. And so he got a trip to Jamaica and I got a, a, a new child.
Leon (37:07):
Okay. Any final thoughts before we wrap this up?
Josh (37:10):
I want to, I just point out that across every, every belief, you know, and at the table today, we all come from a very different backgrounds and we didn't talk about, you know, Hinduism or Buddhism or any of the other isms that are of religious observance, but every one of them has this idea of giving because it is good to give, but also in giving because it is the honorable thing to do, you know, and you know, Christianity talks about giving a 10%, uh, you know, um, you know, Islam talks about, you know, two and a half percent. There's sure we can argue about the semantics of it, but the, the gist of it is you give, because it's an honorable thing to do. And, and I kind of think of it as this, I do a lot of what I do now, I've been in the IT industry for 20 years because I'm paying it forward. There are, you know, yeah, my dad was, my dad worked in sales. He wasn't a technical, a tech geek, but there are lots of people within technology. Uh, John Foster, I don't know, John, if you're ever going to listen to this episode, but he was the guy who said to me in my very first IT job, Hey, I'll hire you even though he had no reason in the world to hire me. He is the reason that I am still in IT today and that I did not go back to school to be a lawyer. I don't know if I should thank him or curse him,, but I'll definitely thank you. Okay. Okay, perfect. Definitely. But it's because of people like him that I'm successful. So honoring him by helping others, by giving to others. Uh, I think that that's very much something that we need to see continue in the industry and probably see more of in the industry that generosity, that pay it forward mentality.
Al (38:53):
Absolutely. It's good karma. You never wanted to come back and bite you in the rear end. And we do tend to see it more often than not in it. Uh, when you do good things good things come back to you and the same rules or the same philosophy should apply in our lives as well.
Kevin (39:09):
Yeah. I was just thinking that this seems so much like kind of where I came to be about five or six years ago actually about the time I started this job was that I realized that I like sharing knowledge that I like helping people out. It's a for a while I was, I was the bad it guy where I liked to hoard knowledge and I like to be the person who can answer the questions and then I realized that's, that's a one way street to loneliness and to basically self isolation and instead being able to actually say, you know what, let's come together. Let's talk about these things. Let's bring it all about. And being able to share that information, whether it's, you know, enough information with my parents to be able to do their stuff, enough information with my aunts and uncles when they're ready to buy a new machine. Let's not talk about scope creep when we actually support our parents because you know, their brothers and sisters will get in on that if, if we can't, if they can, they will. Uh, so there's a little limited you need to put there. But just being able to share stuff and being able to, as Josh mentioned, pay it forward. It's, if I'm able to help any one person do their job or help support their people a little better today than they were able to do yesterday, for me, that's a win.
Leon (40:20):
I like it. I'm going to play, I'm just going to be a little bit of a counterpoint here and remind people that especially in what's going on in the world today, the opportunities to volunteer, the opportunity to share, the opportunities to um, give that support, whether it's to your immediate parents or parent-like-neighbors or people who are of the same generation or Kevin, to your point to aunt Sally and uncle Bob and all that stuff. You know, the opportunities are many and that, um, you know, you also have to take care of yourself. That you have to balance the desire to, to give and the desire to share with um, your ability to give tomorrow. That, uh, to put it in terms of again, the concept of tsadakah, a great rabbi from the middle ages was asked, is it better to give 2, Oh, I'm going to put it in dollar terms. Is it better to give $200 once or $1 200 separate times? And he said unequivocably, it's better to give $1 200 separate times because after giving $1 200 times, you have built up the habit of giving. And you also have put limits. You've built up the of not giving. You're not required to give everything you have. And by giving $1 200 times, you know how to stop. And that's just knowing how to stop is just as important as knowing how to start. So please, for those people who are listening, if you're thinking, wow, maybe I should do this thing, whatever this thing is, you know, to help out, just remember that knowing when to start is good. Knowing when to stop. Also important.
narrator (42:01):
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 (42:15):
Friends, don't let friends use windows 98
Kevin (42:17):
or internet Explorer.
Al (42:19):
or simple passwords,
Leon (42:20):
or Pearl.

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