Technically Religious
S3E09: Tales from the TAMO Cloud - Keith Townsend

S3E09: Tales from the TAMO Cloud - Keith Townsend

May 25, 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 my friend and frequent Technically Religious guest, Keith Townsend. Listen or read the transcript below.

Into music (00:03):
Intro  (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.
TAMO intro (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 (01:39):
My name is Leon Adato, and the other voice you'll hear on this episode is long-time technically religious, uh, contributor, Keith Townsend.
Keith Townsend (01:47):
How's it gone.
Leon Adato (01:48):
It is going great. It is so good to have you back on the podcast this year. Um, before we dive into any of these conversations, I've been waiting to have this one with you for a long time. Um, I want to give you a moment of shameless self promotion, where you can talk about anything and everything that is particularly Keith and CTO advisor and stuff like that. So where can people find you? What are you doing these days? All that stuff.
Keith Townsend (02:12):
All right. So you can find me, uh, easiest. Wait, you know what, there's a new website that we did this year. So let's Hawk that the CTO has been a completely revamped. It's a completely new platform and, and sculp. Uh, we did it. We're pretty proud of the work there.
Leon Adato (02:30):
Awesome. So we'll check that out. Fine. And how about on the Twitters? Which we like to say to horrify your daughter?
Keith Townsend (02:35):
On the Twitter? Because you know, my daughter loves that it's @CTOadvisor.
Leon Adato (02:42):
Perfect. Um, anything else that you want us to pay attention to where people can find you and what you're working on?
Keith Townsend (02:48):
Well, what I'm working on is a, you know, we've been in the throws of cold COVID just.
Leon Adato (02:54):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (02:54):
Before the, you hit the big red button. We talked about just the impact of, uh, looking for the vaccine. What we're looking for at the CTO advisor is looking beyond that, we're going to do a road trip in which we're going to hit 12 cities over three month period. Me and Melissa driving around the big Ford pickup, pulling a Airstream and talking to people who listen to this podcast. So people in technology and, uh, technology vendors, we're we're going to have a good time over the three months. So keep checking the website, check the Twitter feed on for our travels.
Leon Adato (03:33):
Fantastic. Okay. And the last thing is, um, just briefly your religious ethical or moral point of view.
Keith Townsend (03:39):
So, you know, uh, this is a big, uh, questionmark for a lot of people, but I think I have it down pat, I'm non-denominational,
Leon Adato (03:50):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (03:50):
However, I'm from a branch of the Chicago, I mean of, uh, the churches of Christ. So if you're a Christian and you think of the churches of Christ as a denomination there, that's where I'm at.
Leon Adato (04:03):
Fantastic. Okay. And if you're scribbling any of the websites or stuff down, this is just a reminder to keep your hand on the wheel, pay attention to the road. Don't worry about it. There's going to be show notes that come out the day after this podcast drops. So anything that Keith and I are talking about here is going to be written down there for you. You do not need to make notes. With that said, I want to start off with the technical side. So CTO advisor doing road trips, like what, what is your day to day technical life look like?
Keith Townsend (04:32):
Well, you know what? I was just sharing with my wife, Melissa, that that has become a lot more blurry. So I can identify religious, really religion, really easily compared to what I do technically anymore, because I spent so much time as a business owner on the administrative parts of busy, of the.
Leon Adato (04:51):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (04:51):
Business, when I'm not spending time on the administrative parts of the business, selling product, creating product, et cetera, I'm doing analyst work. So I get briefed, I disseminate that information from technical folks. I create content around that and help, uh, decision makers, make decisions around purchases. And occasionally I'll take the advisory role and advise a company on their hybrid infrastructure journey.
Leon Adato (05:19):
Got it. And, and I know that you do a lot with, you know, basically in the cloud space, uh, you have a couple of opinions about Kubernetes. You, um, may even dabble in building data centers for yourself for fun.
Keith Townsend (05:36):
For fun, or for profit. Yes, I, so I do, uh, I have the CTO advisor hybrid infrastructure, which is, you know, we, this whole Kubernetes thing and all of the journeys we talk about moving from public, from private data center to public cloud, very abstract terms, the CTO adriser hybrid infrastructure is a concrete something I can put my finger on and say, this is what their journey from private data center to hybrid infrastructure looks like. This is what it tastes like. This is what it feels like. Here's the pain points, the gadgets. So we built a data center with the intent of showing the journey from private data center to hybrid infrastructure.
Leon Adato (06:20):
Very cool and nice that, that you have a visceral sense of what that looks like, and you can convey that. That's really cool. Okay. So I'm going to presume that you were not born with a silver keyboard in your mouth, that you were not that upon your birth, your mother didn't look at you and say, yes, let's call him CTO advisor. That's what we will do. Where did you start off in tech? What was your, your, you know, rough beginnings?
Keith Townsend (06:42):
So rough beginnings, the, uh, old man, as you know, we like to call them, uh, bought me a color computer 2 a tan TRS 80 color computer 2, for those of you that were born after the year 2000, this machine from, uh, I bought a car from somebody that was born in 20, in 2000 last night. So that was a really interesting experience.
Leon Adato (07:06):
Keith Townsend (07:06):
But, uh, uh, in 1984, 1983, my dad bought me a color computer 2, uh, Leon. We're both of an age group that we remember war games,
Leon Adato (07:18):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (07:18):
The great geek movie of all the greatest geek movie of all times,
Leon Adato (07:23):
Possibly yes.
Keith Townsend (07:23):
And I had in my mind, you know what, I'm going to go play TIC TAC TOE on a, the color computer. And that started my love for technology. Uh, you know, and then you forward through the hobbyist phase to, when I actually started to get involved in tech, it was post, uh, my initial con uh, career in hospitality. I always had the bug for tech and I got a job, uh, pre year 2K when you had a win, if you had a pulse and could spell windows, you could get a job in technology. I parlayed that into a job working in the help desk for a, uh, commodities data provider, uh, commodities trading, uh, data provider, uh, for the third shift. And that's way back in 1997, I think.
Leon Adato (08:14):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (08:14):
So that's, that's the start. I just supporting commodity traders, trying to get real time data feeds off of our product. So that was a really interesting experience, uh, trying to, uh, explain to somebody with an Indian accent, what a Tilda was.
Leon Adato (08:30):
What a Tilda Yeah, What does that exactly look like?
Keith Townsend (08:33):
What is a Tilda?
Leon Adato (08:33):
And also on their keyboard, where would you find it possibly nowhere?
Keith Townsend (08:37):
Leon Adato (08:37):
Um, yeah. And, and I've commented a few times on the show that that help desk is for many of us, one of the formative experiences that we have that either show us that we never ever want to work in tech ever again, or that there is so much richness and so much, you know, to learn and so many different directions to go in that we just can't ever get away from it. Um, all right. So then the next question is, you know, started off post TRS, you know, color to TRS 80, uh, post that into the help desk. How did you get from there to where you are today? What was that progression like?
Keith Townsend (09:18):
Wow, that's a, that's a really great story, uh, or, or question, and it was a lot of, uh, just excellent people throughout my career and grit. The great thing about starting out and learning about technology, of a passion for it. This is one of those industries where you can make a really great living for your family and not have a degree. I don't have one, at the time. I did not have a degree in computing. I didn't even have a degree. I only had maybe six months of community college under my belt from a, from going to community college for two years. I'll probably only hit six months of credit. So, uh, the third shift job, I grabbed a MSCE, MS, MCSE, and then,
Leon Adato (10:08):
MCSE. Yeah, I have to say it really fast to get it right.
Keith Townsend (10:10):
MCSE certification guide. And I went down the journey of consuming every bit of information I can around certification. Uh, I'm super proud that I took the windows 95, uh, certification test, which was way harder than a windows NT4 old test. And I got like 98% on it. And I was super geek because I studied for it for months. But, you know, I use that certification path as a way to elevate myself into my next career opportunity, which was again, working at the help desk. But this time at the, at the Chicago Tribune making 20 grand more a year,
Leon Adato (10:48):
Keith Townsend (10:48):
Uh, the going again that self study route, uh, mentors, et cetera, moved on to network administration, not even a year after taking the job at, uh, the Tribune, still at the Tribune moved from that to a low dip. I started this brand called Townsend consulting. It's still part of my email address. I can't, uh, but I was super naive as many 20 or 20 something year olds are at the time, uh, thinking that I knew enough to actually advise and consult people on, on how to deploy windows technologies. I guess I was as knowledgeable as anyone, uh, took a hard turn in my career, actually, uh, personally I had to file bankruptcy because it was a very, very bad career move. Uh, I should have, uh, stuck with a full-time employment, uh, but, uh, this is around 9/11. Uh, so I spent, uh, think about six or seven months unemployed, uh, because I made wrong turn in my career. Uh, we, we re, recouped, spent a bit of time, uh, and a mid size organization doing again, network administration where, uh, did a lot of really cool projects like, uh, deploying a backup system, deploying my first sand storage area network,
Leon Adato (12:15):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (12:15):
Uh, just cutting the next five or six years, just really earning my stripes in IT around the 10, 11 year point of my career. Uh, I finally finished my degree and, uh, computing BA in computing from DePaul university. We, uh, moved to Maryland because we were in and yet a, another recession. This is around 2008, 2009.
Leon Adato (12:43):
Keith Townsend (12:43):
Uh, we moved to Maryland where I took a job at Lockheed Martin, which completely, uh, changed my career. Uh, uh, telemetry.
Leon Adato (12:52):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (12:52):
I went from very engineer focused. This is if people have ever followed me throughout my career, I was virtualized geek back then, uh, moved from, uh, being kind of an engineer to an architect, a lot more customer facing, uh, uh, roles and opportunities, managing projects. I finished up my Master's in IT project management, uh, that opened the door for me to, uh, move to PWC, which where I became the CTO advisor, the conversation has changed from, should I, you know, use I scuzzy versus NFS versus fiber channel to, you know, what should we outsource all of IT? Uh, the, so that's where, you know, I stepped away from the keyboard. This is circa 2012, 14, and ever since I've been kind of, you know, that's been the brand and the focus of my career, not necessarily, uh, I'm, I'm a management consultant. Not necessarily I am a management consultant necessarily, but I'm a management consultant with deep technical chops. So I can talk, you know, everything from, uh, file systems to storage technology, and other storage technologies to, uh, EBGP all the way to "Should, uh. we, you know, use OPEX versus CapEx for a purchasing decision is how I, how I landed here.
Leon Adato (14:25):
Got it. That is so what's wonderful about that, that narrative is that I think a lot of people who've been in it for a while can say, Oh, I, I can see myself in that journey. Again, a lot of us have gotten our start in or near the help desk. A lot of us have made several, um, you know, career or company changes, which led to career changes, or at least technical pivots and what we did. So, um, it's really nice to hear that story validated in your experiences. Um, you know, that, that there is a pattern to it. So many people come to it from so many different directions that sometimes you feel like, yeah, it doesn't matter what you do. It's and I, you know, who knows where it's going to end up? No, there really is. There really is sort of a path to it, even though it may not be as formalized as say, you know, a trade or, you know, one of the, we'll say the higher, How do I want to say this, one of the more traditional degreed paths, like, you know, get, you know, being a physician or a lawyer or whatever. Um, okay. So that covers the, the technical side of it. I want to flip over to the religious side and,
Keith Townsend (15:40):
Uh huh.
Leon Adato (15:40):
I always like to make the caveat that, um, labels are challenging in a lot of cases, you said that you had a very easy time sort of identifying yourself, but I know that a lot of folks, when they say, when I say, what are you, they're like, well, I'm a, I'm kind of this, but not that, not that part of it. I, one person on a earlier show identified themselves as a kicking and screaming Christian. So, you know, stuff like that. So I want to start off by saying, how do you identify religiously today? Tell us a little bit more about, um, where you place yourself religiously today.
Keith Townsend (16:14):
So, you know, it's really interesting because, um, I think when most people, um, for those who you can't physically see me, I've never physically seen me and can't tell by my voice, cause voices are hard. I'm an African-American. And when most people think of African-American Christians, I think they have this image in their head of Baptist,
Leon Adato (16:35):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (16:35):
uh, traditional soulful worship type of church. Nah, I go, I go to a multi-national I'm in a multi-national, uh, congregation.
Leon Adato (16:48):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (16:48):
And, um, community. So there's a bit of everything. So you can kind of think of it as a little bit more reserved, which has some really interesting, um, uh, I think impacts because traditionally I think you would think of the churches of Christ as more of a Evangelistic.
Leon Adato (17:11):
Keith Townsend (17:11):
Movement. So when you think of the Evangelistic movement, you think of the politics around that today. And I'm very much not of the politics of the evangelistical movement, uh, and that creates some really interesting conflicts within our, uh, with our, within our multi-national multi-racial community, because you have a lot of that culture mixed with a whole lot of black folk. So, uh, if, if for those who need a point of reference, you'll think of the traditional evangelical, uh, doctrine,
Leon Adato (17:53):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (17:53):
But mixed with a lot of, uh, multi-racial, uh, congregation and you get the complexities and the flavor of that, but bubbling, bubbling up.
Leon Adato (18:06):
Yeah. It's, it's never as simple as I think the media, or, you know, a quick, you know, three inches of a New York times article wants to make it sound, there's always nuances. There's always, you know, people are complicated and they bring themselves to everything that they do. So it's, it's never, never a simple thing. So, um, that is interesting. And again, as I said, with the, with the tech, you probably weren't born as a multinational multicultural, uh, church of Christ evangelical, but not that kind, kind of a Christian. So you know, where do you start off? What was your home life? You know, what was your home religious life like growing up?
Keith Townsend (18:48):
So the, one day, if my mother was in tech, uh, she make a amazing, uh, guests because she kind of covers the, the spectrum. Uh, we, my mom specifically, my father was not religious. Uh, much of all, he has Christian, like many Christians are like many religions. If you're, if you're culturally a Christian, you know, you identify as Christian, but you're not really practicing.
Leon Adato (19:13):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (19:13):
So my father was a non-practicing Christian, just, you know, uh, but my mom, uh, when we were in, around, when I was in junior high, basically, uh, became a Jehovah's witness and my mom is now a Muslim. So,
Leon Adato (19:32):
Keith Townsend (19:32):
That is, that has been quite the journey. And it's always an interesting conversation, uh, with her. And we'll get into that, I think, in, in another podcast or another date, but it's an amazing, uh, conversation, but which makes it really, which has made my Christian journey, my religious journey really interesting. Uh, what is common between events, if Jehovah's witnesses were, uh, political at all, I think their politics were probably lean towards what the evangelical churches will will,
Leon Adato (20:04):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (20:04):
But more importantly, culturally they're very similar. Faiths might be slight doctrine may be slightly different,
Leon Adato (20:12):
Keith Townsend (20:12):
But culturally they're very, very similar. So I'm finding that a lot of the, of what I remember in my childhood as worship and as, uh, meeting and community is very similar in my, uh, religious experience today.
Leon Adato (20:29):
Got it. Okay. So yeah, so the, the, the feeling of it was the same, even if the, the particulars of the expression of it may have been slightly different, so that's.
Keith Townsend (20:40):
Leon Adato (20:40):
Okay. Very cool. And so having grown up in a Jehovah's witness house, even though your mom herself went through her own religious journey, what was yours like from, from that, to this, to where you are today?
Keith Townsend (20:53):
So, what's really interesting is that I, I, uh, I wholeheartedly believe than the, uh, Jehovah's witnesses doctrine when as a, as a teen, as a, uh, fairly young adult, when my mother, uh, uh, faith changed so that mine's. Mines didn't change to the extreme that my mother's did, where she, uh, where, uh, where she went with a completely different lineage of faith,
Leon Adato (21:25):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (21:25):
Mine's changed in the fact that, uh, it wasn't as strong as I thought it was. Uh, I was sound in, um, the beliefs of Christianity, that I don't think has changed.
Leon Adato (21:38):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (21:38):
What had changed was whether or not I become, whether or not I was a practicing Christian or not, and that I was not. So in my early twenties, uh, from my post high school to my early twenties, right before I started my, uh, technology, my career in technology, I was not a, a practicing Christian. I did not, my life did not meet up to what my religious beliefs were, you know, so, you know, you're Jewish and you're Orthodox Jewish. So some of the stuff we can easily relate to because we're, uh, uh, I think, you know, Orthodox Judaism may be one of the most disciplined faiths you can, uh, go down. And when you come from a Jehovah's witness background is a very disciplined faith.
Leon Adato (22:27):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (22:27):
So there's strict, uh, beliefs around things like sexual immorality. So the fact that me and Melissa, who I've been with since I was 20,
Leon Adato (22:38):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (22:38):
That we were living together and not married, bothered me, uh, uh, from a faith perspective.
Leon Adato (22:46):
Got it.
Keith Townsend (22:47):
So I didn't reconcile that until, uh, I started to study the Bible again, uh, with the churches of Christ and become a baptized Christian around age 25.
Leon Adato (23:00):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (23:00):
Or so. And that kinda got me from, you know, kind of Jehovah's witness, uh, uh, on the verge of becoming a Jehovah witness to kind of stepping away from Christianity, to re-engaging in the faith in general. And then, you know, I, you visually morphed into, you know, as you think through kind of the entire journey from age 25 to I'm now 47. So a 22 year, uh, Christian journey, you know, it went from being, uh, you know, that fiery early Christian, uh, going out and preaching on the, uh, on the street corners to having teenage children and trying to, uh, help them with their own religious journeys and understanding life just isn't as black and white, as we all would like to think.
Leon Adato (23:54):
Keith Townsend (23:54):
You know, it's, it's just, it's an amazing, like, if, once you start the pull part, the details of it, and we'll talk about things, some of it, and some of your next questions, but you know, things about, uh, things about my faith around, uh, uh, taboo topics, such as sexual orientation. Like once you become a full realized adult, and you have queer friends, how do you reconcile having queer friends? But your faith is saying that, uh, the doctrine of your faith is saying that this is something not acceptable. So.
Leon Adato (24:32):
Keith Townsend (24:32):
Separating the two or reconciling the two has been just a really interesting journey as I've matured.
Leon Adato (24:38):
Yeah. And, you know, friends or relatives, you know, to that.
Keith Townsend (24:42):
Leon Adato (24:42):
To that matter.
Keith Townsend (24:42):
I have a niece that I love to death and she's engaged to another woman. So, you know, we had them over to dinner before COVID, we had them over to dinner and we had a great time, but it is, it's some really tough questions that you, you end up, uh, just dabbling with.
Leon Adato (25:02):
Right. And if you're reconciled to it, to those things, to those contradictions, which I think, I think the tension, the, the religious and Holy tension, I think is where the excitement is the, the, the work, the introspection, the, the, again, as an adult, as a fully realized, mature, adult, and I recognize that as I say this, uh, if my wife or children listen to this podcast, they will laugh hysterically at my believing myself to be a fully realized mature adult, but that aside, um, I think that figuring out those things about what, what I believe and what I practice and, um, how I reconcile, what my, both, what my religious peers, my co-religionists are saying, and all those things, that's where a lot of the really interesting, dialogue can be found. Um, you know, I don't mean arguments, but I mean, real dialogue, like, you know, what do we mean when we say this? Um, and I will say that, you know, as, as IT people, I'm not trying to diminish it, but as IT people, I think we're used to, those hard conversations, those challenging conversations of, no, I really think this is the way we need to fix this, or this is the way we need to build this. No, that's not it, I think this is how we need to build it based on my experiences or my understanding of the facts on the ground. And I think that that's, that's part of the thing that makes, uh, folks with strong religious identities who work in it. I think that's where we find those, those overlaps. And that sort of takes us to the next, the next part of the, of the episode, which is when, as a person with a strong religious, ethical, or moral point of view, who works in IT, I'm curious about how those two things overlap, you know, has it created any friction and how have you overcome that, but also have there been any, you know, wonderful discoveries, delightful discoveries, I like to call them where you didn't think that being religious was going to help your tech, or you didn't think that being technical was going to enhance your experience of your faith. And yet it happened. So let's start off with the, well, we'll start off with the not so great stuff. And we'll end on a high note. So was, have there ever been moments when your faith caused friction with your tech or vice versa?
Keith Townsend (27:35):
So that's a really interesting question, I think, and this is not just, I think, unique to tech. I think the science is there's two areas. There's kind of work-life balance that category that we put in work-life balance and tech is unique in a sense that we don't ask our payroll people to run payroll at 10 o'clock at night.
Leon Adato (27:58):
Usually not unless something's going really wrong .
Keith Townsend (28:02):
But when, you know, when people are looking at me funny, and you don't have this problem because of, uh, your faith, but you have the conflict, uh, the, when people are looking at me funny, because I step out of service because I got a text, is weird. That was early on like, Oh, I get the servers down on a Sunday afternoon and I'm doing service. I think Orthodox Jews kind of get this part, right. Uh, you know what? You won't get that text because you don't have a pager on. So the, uh, the, uh, that's one aspect of it, but there's the second part of that, which is the work-life balance is when you need to push back, uh, from that the computers don't care that you go to service Wednesday nights and on Sundays. So I remember, uh, very vividly one night I was getting off of work at five o'clock and my, uh, I get a page, uh, right before I leave. And the former CEO of the Tribune is now, uh, running the, uh, back then, once you became the former CEO of the Tribune, once you retire from that, you became the CEO of Tribune's, uh, uh, charity, whatever that was named the,
Leon Adato (29:28):
Oh ok.
Keith Townsend (29:28):
Uh, and they had a problem and it was my job to troubleshoot that problem. So, you know, there's this super important person and the organization I'm working the help desk, I'm on call. I get a page that this senior executive has a problem, but I have church service. And that I can't that mentally I, in my mind, I cannot Miss Church service. So I have this conflict. Do I go help the executive? Or do I go to church in which you know, is so for me, it was really a question of faith and I chose to go to service. And this is just a good piece of advice for work-life balance. In general, I always always push against deadlines that conflict with my personal life.
Leon Adato (30:17):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (30:17):
I've done enough stuff to know that most deadlines are autofit are artificial. Someone somewhere said that this has to be done by a date unless we're talking about, Oh, VMworld is scheduled on the 19th of September, and this presentation will be delivered. And it has to be in by the morning of 19th of September, then everything else is negotiable. If it's not a written. And even then, you know, we get these weird deadlines and it, and in business in general, thou shalt have their, your presentation in a month before the thing. And I kind of just brush all that stuff off. I try, I tried to respect it if I can, but if I have conflict, I manage that conflict. The second thing is by definition, and I'm sure people who listen to this podcast struggle with this. When I read the old Testament and I see that Joshua prayed and the sun stopped in the middle of the sky, I simply don't believe it like, and you can, you can kind of water over your faith if you want to and say, Oh, you know what? I'm just being unfaithful. Or, and yes, I will believe this theme that I don't believe. I try to be as honest as possible when it, when it, when my, my semi scientists technical, technical brain can't reconcile something that I read in my religious texts, I don't cover it up. Like, I don't believe Adam and Eve, I don't believe the, I don't, I'm a Christian, but I don't believe the creation story as written and the texts that we read today. And those are the things that I truly struggle with. I don't struggle with, you know, um, again, I'm, I'm a mature adult. I have plenty of years of experience. I know how to push back on areas of conflict when it comes to scheduling. But as a, even as a 22 year old Christian, 22 years of my faith, I still struggle with reconciling what my technical brain tells me and what my faith wants to, uh, what my faith teaches.
Leon Adato (32:35):
Right. And, and that is actually a topic that we're going to cover, uh, In a future episode, which is this idea of proof and how do we reconcile our, you know, fact-based, don't go with your gut, say it with data, or don't say it at all, kind of 9 to 5 lives with our, uh, again, you know, biblically found, biblically founded ideas of how the world works and how it's structured and things like that, um, at the same time. So I want to just highlight the idea that, yeah, deadlines are artificial. If you're on call the challenge I think, again, as a, as a, another religious person, the challenge isn't reconciling your faith with on-call, it's reconciling your organization with on-call, that is being done by a human. Because, okay, you had church service, you could just as easily have had bath time with the kids. I'm sorry, I'm elbow deep in a bathtub with a two year old. I'm not turning around to go fix the server right now. It's going to wait another 10 minutes or 15 or whatever it is. You know, I have family emergencies. I have all those things. How does an organization handle the fact that on-call is a point of, you know, if the emergency is so bad that my not responding to it in the first 15 or 20 minutes caused it all to die, all to go away, Then there were some pretty fundamental problems with the system that had nothing to do with my failing on-call.
Keith Townsend (34:13):
Yeah. You have to be able to triage.
Leon Adato (34:15):
Keith Townsend (34:15):
You have to be able to say, you know, what is this really? I know I got a page for it, but is this really important because, uh, both of us have older children, mine are a bit older than yours, but there are times where I just simply can't get back.
Leon Adato (34:31):
Keith Townsend (34:31):
And I think back, wow, was getting that, uh, was getting that CRM system up in 2 hours versus 6 really worth missing that game. Hmm.
Leon Adato (34:44):
Keith Townsend (34:46):
Retrospect, maybe not.
Leon Adato (34:47):
Yeah. And I will say, I am absolutely a workaholic. I am. I mean, at this point in my life, I'm 53, I've been in IT for 30 years. There is no getting around it and there's probably no solving it. I am, I, I enjoy my work so much that it is very hard for me to walk away from it at the same time. Um, I've had some very hard conversations with my family who said, of course, you worked 12 hours to get that thing done. And you got the kudos. All we got was not having you. That's all we got out of it. And that, again, this is apropo of nothing that we're talking about in terms of tackle religion. It's just one of those life lessons that, you know, old tech dudes, you know, are sharing, but you really have to think, you know, not only is the applause you're going to get from your company, fleeting, you know, are you going to get a, an attaboy and that's it ain't worth it. Ain't worth dropping date night with your wife or your significant other isn't worth, you know, it's not worth dropping it for Oh, wow. That was really good. Thank you. It's not worth being asked to do it again. It's not worth thinking you will always be there and it's also not necessarily worth the frustration and the anger that you may see long-term in your family's faces when they start to hate your job.
Keith Townsend (36:17):
Yeah. The, uh, I love it. That my kids have memories of jobs that I had, that they loved. They were like, Oh, I love that job that you would take me to. And they don't.
Leon Adato (36:28):
Keith Townsend (36:28):
Know what I did, but they say, Oh, I love that job that you did, and there was the refrigerator full of soda and I can get free soda. And we, you know, we stop in and then we go, and then afterwards, we go across the street to, you know, one of my favorite stories is recently, my son said he took, uh, he took his girlfriend to the restaurant that was across the street from that job.
Leon Adato (36:53):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (36:53):
And he said he was so disappointed and heartbroken when his girlfriend just said, Oh, it was okay. And, uh, he said, I have some of my best memories of being with my dad and my family after he, you know, take us, uh, to work at the, he did a server upgrade or whatever. He take us across the street in, have this place in. And he said the other day, Oh, and to boot is now closed in. So there's this thing that you have to balance. We have tough jobs and information technology. And as, as, and most faiths have this thing, uh, and I think it's pretty consistent that pride is a sin.
Leon Adato (37:37):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (37:37):
And there's no better job than being an, IT Ex that feeds your pride.
Leon Adato (37:44):
Keith Townsend (37:44):
Then what we do, the ability to be the superhero, the person who saw, saved the day, uh, I got, I had a CEO, tell me, Keith, you took us out of the stone age, et cetera. We get all the kudos in the world. And it feeds that pride.
Leon Adato (38:01):
RIght, right.
Keith Townsend (38:02):
At the end of the day, we have to ask the question and we'll get into this, in one of your, uh, next series of questions around, you know, what pride is a horrible thing for both your career and your personal life.
Leon Adato (38:15):
Yeah. Um, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna quote her correctly, but Charity Majors, who's the, I think she's still the CTO of honeycomb IO. She is still part of honeycomb, but she has gone from, I think the CTO to one of the engineers or back again, she founded the company, but she gets to have whatever job she wants in it. And she said, she's very much anti firefighting. She said, I actually do not give anybody credit in our company for fixing a problem that blew up. I want to give credit to the person who found the problem before it occurred, who did the steady, regular testing and, uh, quality control so that the problem never occurred. And I think IT is horrible at that as a, uh, as a industry where we lionize the 2:00 AM firefighter while completely overlooking the person who shows up at 9 leaves at 5 does good, solid, reliable work that is consistent,and has few, if any flaws, that person never gets a bonus. That person. I mean, in terms of like, when we think about, you know, bonuses for saving the day, that person never gets it because yeah. They just showed up. They just did their job. Yeah. They just did their job. Perfect. You know, uh, consistently all the time. That's the part that we should be holding up as the example. Um, but we don't. So you're absolutely right. And I actually made a note that, that, uh, we definitely need to do an episode on pride goeth before the fall, for sure. To talk about like what that means in tech and religion. Okay. So we've talked about some of the challenges. Are there any moments, uh, as I said before, this delightful discoveries, any times, when you're you realize that your faith was really a asset, a benefit to your technical life or vice versa, where you were at church, and you realize that being an IT person was really, and not just, I'm going to go back to an earlier episode, we had where it was like, Oh, Keith can fix, it keeps the AV guy, not the, again, that lionizing the problem solving. But anytime when you realize that, that your technical mindset created a deeper or more powerful connection to your faith.
Keith Townsend (40:29):
So let's talk about how the faith has, uh, impacted my work life and techno, uh, as a technologist, uh, you know what we, we'll talk about it, I think in a future episode and we'll address the, in the proof piece of it, but sometimes somethings just take faith, true story. Uh, the, I was on call and there was the help desk reporting system was running on NT 4.0 server when NT 4.0 was the latest OS from Microsoft out and available,
Leon Adato (41:02):
Keith Townsend (41:02):
But it was still then a horrible OS, and I was in there to do, uh, updates that you get in via CD back in, back in that time. And I came to it, hit the KVM. It was blue screened already. Like even before I touched anything, it was blue screened hours later. The, and this is, this has been a system that had been giving, uh, uh, problems. I called the director. He said, look, Keith, if this thing isn't up, by the time we get back into the office in the morning, we both might as well go out looking for new jobs. So I'm like, Whoa, hold on. I was just coming in to do updates. So how did I get lumped into this whole losing your job thing? It got to the point that it had to be about three o'clock in the morning. I literally got in the middle, on the middle of the data center floor. I got on my knees and prayed. Because I had no idea how you guys have to remember this. This is 1998, 1999. There is no internet blogs that you can just go to Google or AltaVista and Google and find.
Leon Adato (42:09):
Keith Townsend (42:09):
The solution to the problem. If you get on the phone with Microsoft, you're going to be on the phone for hours before you.
Leon Adato (42:16):
Keith Townsend (42:16):
Can get to someone who can help you,
Leon Adato (42:19):
Help you through it.
Keith Townsend (42:19):
So my only main line, my Google was just praying. I got some crazy idea to do it. So I've never, I've never shied away from my faith and my job. And I've taken principles from my Christian faith and apply them to my approach to work. I'm ethical. I, I'm moral, and I'm a better leader because I embrace the love of Christ in my approach to my job. I, uh, literally do not approach my job as I'm working for, uh, the Tribune or Lockheed Martin it's, I'm working for God and is what my is, is my work acceptable? Is this something that I can present to him? Is my leadership something that I can present to him? Uh, is it something if, uh, I, my, am I taking credit where I don't deserve to take credit?
Leon Adato (43:20):
Um hmm.
Keith Townsend (43:20):
That's how I approach my work because of my faith and people, uh, people give me kudos about it all the time, and I don't always succeed in doing this, but I am who I am because of my faith. You take away my faith from who I am as a person. And I'm pretty unlikable.
Leon Adato (43:43):
Got it. Yeah, it's, uh, it, it definitely is a, uh mitigating factor for a lot of us. Um, I will say also, just having known you for a while and worked with you in, uh, several different, um, venues that you, you bring that perspective to, is it worth doing? And, you know, you'll look at projects that I think a lot of folks in your position would say, I know that's not worth it. No, no, no. There's, there's a message here that I want to deliver. There's a, you know, there's a conversation I want to have. That's worth being part of or whatever. You, you value things in a way that, um, is not, is not necessarily business like or business centric, but it is, um, humanity centric. And it is really about, you know, what can I do to help? In a lot of ways.
Keith Townsend (44:38):
Yeah. I remember what it was like too. So my brother is also a business owner. My youngest brothers are business owners. He had a,
Leon Adato (44:46):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (44:46):
Uh, he had a employee. Uh, he was thinking that, you know what? I think I might be overpaying this particular employee. No, not overpaying, He said, you know I think I might be underpaying this particular employee, I really need to consider this. And then in a casual conversation, a week later, the employee said, you know what? I was at the grocery store, my wife, and it was the first time in our lives. And this person is over 40. Uh, this is the first time in our lives, where we went into the grocery store and we weren't worried about our checking account balance, and what we were buying for and being able to buy groceries. So IT technology has transformed my life from a,
Leon Adato (45:32):
Uh huh.
Keith Townsend (45:32):
From just a privileged perspective, you know, I'm, I, the, my wife got tagged in a photo of a billionaire. We're not rich, but we have access and privilege that the 12, 16 year old Keith could never even.
Leon Adato (45:51):
Keith Townsend (45:51):
Fathom. I just did not know this world existed. So when, whether it's your day job, or you personally, or someone comes with an opportunity for me to open that door to other people to have similar transformative experiences, why would I want to pull that ladder up from them and not give them the same opportunities? As I mentioned, it was grit partially that got me here, but it was also people willing to extend a hand.
Leon Adato (46:19):
Keith Townsend (46:19):
And help me up that ladder.
Leon Adato (46:21):
Very nice, Keith, it is always a privilege and a pleasure to talk to you. Uh, this is the lightning round. Any final thoughts, anything that you want to share with folks, um, just to think about on their way.
Keith Townsend (46:34):
So you know what the, I think if you can take anything from this conversation, it's don't be fearful of your faith. Um, people are people. There are some of them, there are truly jerks out there. One of our fellow contributors get challenged because of his faith on Twitter, but overall you impact way more people positively by sharing your faith, whatever that faith is. I'm not in a position to judge what you, how you choose your relationship with your God or your spiritual being. But what I am saying, the positivity from that will positively impact your career and others, way more than the pain for the most part inflicted upon us, because we're open with our faith.
Leon Adato (47:20):
Right? The, yeah. The benefits outweigh any of the challenges and sometimes the challenges are there to be overcome.
Keith Townsend (47:26):
Leon Adato (47:27):
Um, I like it. Uh, fantastic. One more time for people who want to find you online, who want to see what you're working on, um, where can people get in touch with you?
Keith Townsend (47:35):
Yeah. So as CTO visor is the easiest way to get in contact with me. DMS are open, but don't send me anything weird, cause I will block you. Uh, and is how you get to me professionally. And I post a lot of stuff to LinkedIn because it's a very powerful platform.
Leon Adato (47:53):
Yeah, you, uh, you, you have a lot of nice talks on there too, that I've noticed, uh, from time to time you give a, it's almost like a mini podcast there. So.
Keith Townsend (48:01):
Leon Adato (48:01):
That's another thing to check out is that LinkedIn link. Well, uh, thank you again for taking some time out of your day. It's actually the middle of the day for both of us. And, uh, I look forward to seeing you back on the show.
Keith Townsend (48:11):
All right, Leon, I'll I'll hopefully I'll see you in person. When I visit you via the road show. When I visit Cleveland,
Leon Adato (48:18):
If the roadshow is coming to Cleveland, then we are absolutely going to do a tour of every kosher restaurant. I will weigh 900 pounds when we're done with it.
Keith Townsend (48:25):
I love me a kosher hot dog.
Leon Adato (48:27):
Perfect. We'll get you one, take care.
Keith Townsend (48:30):
Take care.
Speaker 6 (48:30):
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.


S3E07: Emergency Confetti

S3E07: Emergency Confetti

May 11, 2021

I've often described a career in IT as "long stretches of soul-crushing depression, punctuated by brief moments of manic euphoria, which are inevitably followed by yet another long stretch of soul-crushing depression". How do we, as IT professionals, remember to (as the old song goes) "accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don't mess with Mister In-Between.

In this next episode, Doug and Leon explore how our religious/moral/ethical POV offers ways to help keep us positive in our work lives; and how our tech experiences tell us when we hit a rocky stretch of road in our faith journey. Listen or read the transcript below.

Intro (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):
I've often described a career in IT as long stretches of soul crushing depression, punctuated by brief moments of manic euphoria, which are inevitably followed by yet another long stretch of soul crushing depression. How do we, as IT professionals remember to, as the old song goes, accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative latch on to the affirmative and don't mess with Mister in-between I'm Leon Adato. And the other voice that you're going to hear on this episode is my longtime friend and partner in podcasting crime, Doug Johnson.
Doug Johnson (01:24):
Hey, how you doing?
Leon Adato (01:26):
I'm doing okay. Um, and before we kick off this topic, which I am really excited, I'm celebrating the chance that we have the fact that we have a chance to get to this. Um, I want to do some shameless self promotion. So Doug, bup bupa! Yes, exactly. Again, celebrate. So Doug, why don't you kick it off? Who are you? Where can people find you? If they want to know more about
Doug Johnson (01:48):
I'm Doug Johnson. I am the chief technical officer for a company called wave RFID, which is my side gig, actually becoming a real company. We hired our first employee. Oh my gosh.
Leon Adato (02:00):
Doug Johnson (02:00):
I'm going to have to be an. Whee! Okay. Uh, I'm also a web developer for Southwestern health resources. My day job. Uh, you can reach me on Twitter's at Doug Johnson. That's D U G J O H N S O N because there are so many Doug Johnson's in the world. I had to drop the O, that's just the way it is. Uh, you can a website way by If you want to hear what we're doing and I'm an evangelical Christian, but not one of the crazy ones.
Leon Adato (02:28):
Got it. Okay. And, uh, just to close the circle, I am Leon Adato. I'm a head geek. Yes. That's actually my job title at SolarWinds, a company that has nothing to do with solar or wind. It's a monitoring software vendor, uh, based out of Austin, Texas, you can find me on the Twitters at Leon Adato. I haven't dropped any letters. It's all the way it sounds. My website is a Datto where I wax philosophical about things, both technical and religious. I identify as an Orthodox Jew and occasionally my rabbi even admits to knowing me too. Um, now if you're scribbling that stuff down, stop it, put your hands back on the wheel, pay attention to the road. Uh, we will have show notes out and all the things that we talk about, the links, even to the lyrics for accentuate, the positive are going to be in the show notes. You can find them there so you don't need to write them. All right. So I want to frame this topic before we get started, there was a tweet that came out as tweets do a little while ago from Anna the distracted gardener. She's actually taken it down. I think it created so much, uh, uh, traffic that she needed, muting wasn't enough. She deleted it, but, uh, it reads like this. My eight year old in the car today said, do you want me to throw the confetti in my pocket? Me; No, not in the car. What? Wait, why do you have confetti in your pocket? My eight year old. It's my emergency confetti. I carry it everywhere in case there's good news. So reading that just made me think, yeah, there, there are unexpected moments where we have to celebrate things. And what if we're not prepared? Now, perhaps carrying a bag of emergency confetti around in your pocket is a little extreme, but yes, I actually do now have a bag of emergency confetti in my pocket.
Doug Johnson (04:17):
I may have to do this.
Leon Adato (04:20):
I have it, I can't wait till we start traveling because going through TSA is going to be a really interesting conversation.
Doug Johnson (04:26):
That will be interesting.
Leon Adato (04:28):
sir. What is this? What is it? It's my emergency. Confetti. Your, your what?
Doug Johnson (04:34):
Oh, man.
Leon Adato (04:36):
Do you want to keep it? Yeah, I kind of do like I get, I'm just, I'm waiting, right? It's either going to go wonderfully gloriously fun, or it's going to be the reason why someone has to post bail for me.
Doug Johnson (04:46):
Exactly. They're going to smile or I'm going to have to come down to the airport.
Leon Adato (04:49):
It's going to be a cavity search. It's going to be something like that. Right? So, uh,
Doug Johnson (04:54):
Ooh! You need to eat confetti before you go that way.
Leon Adato (04:56):
Oh man. No, no, no, no, no. Okay. This took a weird left turn. Um, so there was, that was part of it. The other part, I was listening to an episode on NPR. And once again, we're going to have links to the episode in our show notes, um, where they interviewed Lee Horton, how he and his brother, uh, were released from prison after 25 years, uh, having been wrongly accused. And he had said some really amazing things about just the experience that he had being out of prison and having just typical experiences day to day. And so we're going to play those clips. Now,
Lee Horton (05:36):
When we got out, just to tell you this story, we went to the DMV a couple days later to get our license back. And me, my brother and some and another man, man, who was committed, we stood in line for two and a half hours. And we heard all the stories that everybody tells us the bad things about the DMV we had the most beautiful and all the people were looking at us cause we were smiling and we were laughing and they couldn't understand why we were so happy. And it just was that, just being in that line was a beautiful thing. It was a wonderful thing. I mean, I was in awe of everything around me. It's like my, my mind was just heightened to every small nuance and having an onion just to cook your food with becomes priceless, just having a stove and to be able to just look out of a window, just to walk down the street and just inhale the fresh air, just to see people interacting. We, I didn't see children for years, no children. And then I see a little boy running down the street and, and it, and it woke something up in me, something that I don't know if it died or if it went to sleep. One of my morning ritual is every morning is I sent a message of good morning to every one of my contacts. And that's like 42 people, family members. I sent them good morning, good morning, good morning, have a nice day. And they're like, how long can I keep doing this?
Leon Adato (07:16):
And all of those things really got me thinking about the nature of joy and celebration. And, maybe that we overlook opportunities to celebrate that, that we might be, you know, we might be missing and, and we might be not, we might be worse off for it. So I wanted to talk about all of that. Um, that was really where the whole idea of this episode called emergency confetti came from. Um, so Doug, I wanna, I want to hear your thoughts about what needs to be celebrated when you celebrate, you know, all of those things.
Doug Johnson (07:51):
One of the big problems that I had when I saw this, I was like, I thought, Oh, what a cute little girl, that's so great. And of course I immediately thought about confetti out, glitter all over the inside of the car and all that kind of stuff. And the problem, and the problem is for me is that my, uh, general take on the universe tends to be that it's all gonna go bad. Um.
Leon Adato (08:14):
Doug Johnson (08:15):
Well, I mean, I do have history, but remember that, you know, I'm, I'm a tech, chief technology officer. I'm also a web developer with, uh, for the marketing department, which means I'm the only person in my department that has any tech chops. And so I, most of my job, my life is spent anticipating disaster. Um, you know, I mean, I get to create good things all the time, but, but the reality is I'm the one who has to figure out what's going to go wrong. That's what they hired me for. And so I'm always looking for something to go wrong. Years ago, I was a camp director at a, at a boys camp up in Canada, 25 years of this stuff. And I eventually had to stop doing it because I used to love it. And then I liked it less and less because I was spending my whole time trying to figure out what could go wrong. And when you've got a couple of hundred boys, a lot can go wrong,
Leon Adato (09:08):
Basically. Yeah. They're basically mistake generators. I mean, when the concept of chaos monkey came from somebody who was a director at a boys camp, somewhere in upstate Allegheny forest or something like it has to be.
Doug Johnson (09:20):
It doesn't. But the problem is over a period of time, when you really, after you've spent years doing this and you really are looking for people to really get in trouble, it really sucks the joy out of it for you.
Leon Adato (09:33):
Doug Johnson (09:33):
And that's why I ultimately stopped doing it. But, you know, it's like things and things do go wrong. It's not like you're just being a nervous Nellie. It's like, things really do go wrong. I've got stories. Believe man. You know what, um.
Leon Adato (09:47):
When the story ends, when the story in the middle of this story says, and then we got the epi pen.
Doug Johnson (09:52):
Leon Adato (09:53):
Like, you know.
Doug Johnson (09:55):
Bad things are gonna happen. You know, that the kid that the ADD kid that was sent to camp without his Ritalin, because his parents were hoping that it would help him straighten out.
Leon Adato (10:04):
Doug Johnson (10:04):
What could go wrong?
Leon Adato (10:05):
Because Summer camp is also therapy. Exactly.
Doug Johnson (10:08):
Yeah. But, and they didn't tell us either.
Leon Adato (10:11):
No, no, why would they do that?
Doug Johnson (10:13):
They didn't want so, so here's the, Oh, nevermind. In any case. So.
Leon Adato (10:17):
That's how double blind studies are done.
Doug Johnson (10:20):
Exactly. Well, we were doubly blind and boy, we eventually got the information and it straightened out, but geez, some low wheezing. I mean, usually using us as an experiment was not all that great. And it wasn't good for him either, but you know, and there's, there's the whole thing, like, uh, in, in the world of programming, would you, would you rather have an optimistic programmer or a pessimist program?
Leon Adato (10:41):
I just, I'd never thought of it that way, but yeah. I really want, I want Abe Vigoda as a programmer. Like I really don't. Okay. I just dated myself. I know. Look it up. If you don't know who Abe Vigoda is.
Doug Johnson (10:53):
He's still alive too. Isn't he? Or did he finally, I think he's still alive. I didn't get, well, we'll let you look it up. All the talk. Okay. But basically what it comes down to is everybody sells the optimistic program because you make all these wonderful things happen. And I go, no, you want a pessimistic programmer? Cause he'll find the error. But he doesn't think that's the only one he'll keep on looking till he finds all the errors that he could. He'll still know that there's more. So if you want something to work, you don't want an optimistic person. You might want an optimistic architect, but you don't want an optimistic programmer. You know, it's like one of the reasons why I love QA engineers, uh, regular programmers, they're all like I can make that work, QA engineers. I can break that. Right. They're great. You know, and, being a dev, I love my, my QA guy is my safety net because he's gonna, he's gonna break my stuff. And I thank him every time he does. So, and everybody knows about demo gods, everything works perfectly. You do a demo and it blows up. Right
Leon Adato (11:52):
Right, right. Okay. So I got, I got to ask just as a side note. I mean, because again, there's, there's concept of, of, of celebration or at least giving thanks and things like that. For people who've never seen it at certain types of conferences, I'm thinking like Dev Ops Days specifically, there is an actual shrine off to the side of the stage where people give their talks and demos and people will routinely bring offerings and place them on the shrine. They're placing an offering to the demo. God, whether it's USB sticks or CD rom drive, I've seen people leave AOL CDs as like, you know, very, very retro kind of things. And I'm always as a, as a religious person, I'm a little conflicted because this is really on the, I mean, I get it. It's a joke. Right? I don't think that anybody really thinks that there are demo gods, but I just like the image of an Orthodox Jew on a stage with a shrine to the demo gods off to the side is always just a little like.
Doug Johnson (12:51):
It's on the edge. It's right there on the edge. It's like, I want one of those happy cats that raises their hand up and down all the time. But those are, those are like a shrine also. So you just, it's just, you know, you want to be careful. I, I am a, uh, I am a minister in the church of the flying spaghetti monster. I am, I am somewhat conflicted only because now the church and the flying spaghetti monster does not make you give up your main religion, but every now and then I'm like, I just wonder if I should pull out this card at church and see what the pastor has to say about it. Because I just found out that I actually, I could do weddings if I actually went and registered with my County, I could do weddings. Wouldn't that be weird with a pirate hat?
Leon Adato (13:36):
Okay. In any case. Okay. So,
Doug Johnson (13:39):
So in scrum retrospectives, right? I mean the whole point of scrimming retrospectives is you're supposed to get together and, you know, look back at the last two weeks and talk about everything that went well. And they all 99% of the time, they're always here what went wrong. It's always, it's rarely celebration. It's almost always let's fix what went wrong, no matter how good it was. So again, so my default is things are, I assume things are going to go badly.
Leon Adato (14:10):
Right? So I was thinking about this as you were talking about it. And, and the, the thing that came to mind was the character of Leonard snort, who in the Flash, uh, mythology on comic books is, uh, captain cold. And he was famous, at least on the TV show, the CW TV show of the flash. He would say, make the plan, execute the plan, expect the plan to go off the rails, throw away the plan. And I feel like this is what you're talking about is it's not that, you know, everything's going to go to hell and a handbasket, so why bother even trying like, no, you make a plan, but you also have a healthy dose of, you want to say cynicism, you want to say pessimism, but you have a healthy dose of whatever that is to know that things are not going to go as expected. Okay. But we're talking about a celebration. We're not talking about regret, which is a whole other episode that were going to get to.
Doug Johnson (15:02):
Oh yeah. But so the, the same, the same attitude though, can carry over into the spirit world. I mean, you know, it's like, so here I am, I'm a Christian. I know I should pray every day. I know I should be doing, I have really good intentions and yet I don't execute all that. Well, in fact, most Christians don't, um, you know, and Christianity is based on the fact that we're all have a sin nature so that we're, you know, even with Christ as our savior, we are constantly battling against this sin nature. Even though, you know, we, we have victory through Jesus and I can sing the song. The fact is we are still have the sin nature. And all you have to do is just look around and you can go and see the, all the leaders that are going. Uh, I mean, there's just a lot of stuff happening in the Christian world right now. Uh, that's just really down. It just shows that even the, the main guys who you thought had it all together, they don't either. And it just, you know, it just, it, it, it can be depressing.
Leon Adato (16:03):
Yeah, yeah, no, no. I can see that. And so, so obviously this is a, a big, um, deviation from, uh, Jewish thought where, uh, there isn't that original sin or sin nature that, um, the, the challenges that we face the, the idea of free will and the idea of, um, the challenges to ourselves are more like hurdles. They are more like, um, the, the, what we are on earth to do is to improve ourselves perfect ourselves. That does not mean that we reach perfection. It just means that we are continually trying to make ourselves better. And the only way that you do that is by facing challenges. And sometimes you're going to trip. Sometimes you're not going to make it. Um, and I think that feeds into the overarching concept that we're talking about today, about celebration, but it is one of those theological deviations between Judaism and Christianity is that, um, it isn't, it isn't written into the software that sin is the default setting. So, um, I can see that, but okay. I still want to get to like, where's the happy stuff? Where's, I got this, the confetti. I'm ready to go.
Doug Johnson (17:12):
Okay. Okay, good. Glitter, glitter, glitter. Okay, here we go. Work. Guess what things actually get accomplished? We actually make stuff. Are you ready for this one? This Friday? After several months of working through this whole thing, I took code live. And when I got up on Saturday morning, because it processes overnight, it didn't work. And when people went and checked it, they said it, it worked. So I didn't have to fix it because it worked. And I
Leon Adato (17:47):
Want to just emphasize for people might not have heard that you pushed to production on a Friday.
Doug Johnson (17:52):
Oh yeah. But I do that. I do that anyway, because I'm the, see, I'm the only one. So the, so the reality is I would I push on a Friday after hours because that gives me all of Saturday and Sunday to fix it. It's just me. I'm the only geek.
Leon Adato (18:10):
Doug Johnson (18:11):
No, I, I know you never push on Friday.
Leon Adato (18:13):
No, I was going to say that Charity Majors, who's the CTO of honeycomb, honeycomb IO. And again, we'll have a link is a big proponent, you know, push, push any day. It doesn't get, why is Friday different than.
Doug Johnson (18:25):
Leon Adato (18:26):
Another day. If you're not comfortable pushing on a Friday, you shouldn't be comfortable pushing on a Tuesday either.
Doug Johnson (18:30):
True. Yeah. I never pushed code except for after hours because I've just, I've had enough things go wrong in my life that I want at least a few hours to fix it. When nobody's watching.
Leon Adato (18:40):
There we go, ok.
Doug Johnson (18:40):
So there you are. So, um, you know, but so it worked and, uh, wave RFID. We have happy clients. They love us. They think that the stuff that we've done for them is great, you know, and we're getting,
Leon Adato (18:52):
They pay you.
Doug Johnson (18:52):
And they pay us, right. They, they not only give us money, but they tell us they like us. I'll take as long as I get the first one. I'm okay. But boy, getting both of them is nice, you know, and sure. Uh, when I push code and things go, well, guess what? My coworkers are happy. They're like, thank you for making this happen. I'm going don't thank me. It's just my job. And they go, but I want to thank you. It's like, Oh, I'll fine. And then,
Leon Adato (19:17):
Because you are still a curmudgeon.
Doug Johnson (19:20):
I mean, I was just, yeah, they know that. And, and, and, and finally, you know, we get to, we have a chance to do good things. We just hired our first employee. This is the guy that we wanted him a few years ago. He screwed up, he went to prison for awhile. We just got him. We've gone through a lot of work to go ahead and be able to take care. But we're, you know, his wife keeps sending me emails, like, thank you for doing this for him. I'm like, he's going to make our job better. Believe me. It's like, you know, but you know, and so, yeah, it's more work because of the, you know, I had to put some guard rails in place on his computer use and some stuff like that. But the reality is he's happy. He's not, he was working as a janitor since he got out of jail. He's perfect. He's really happy to go back to working with, uh, computer code and stuff. So that works out and, and, you know, in the church realm, guess what people really are trying to be better. I mean, just as you said, you know, most people aren't sitting there going, Oh, I'm sinning I might as well just keep on sinning. Some do. I mean, you know, but,
Leon Adato (20:18):
Doug Johnson (20:18):
But, but most Christians really do want to improve and if they can stop beating themselves up, then they can go ahead and, and do that.
Leon Adato (20:27):
And do it even faster. Right.
Doug Johnson (20:28):
Right. And the nice thing is that in the bounds of all that stuff, there's work, that people do that to help other people, the youth group was raising money, so they could all go to camp. Right. So they came to buy every year. Well, it's supposed to be twice a year, but they come, you can hire them for 4 hours. They've never done two. So this year I hired two teams for 4 hours, 8 hours of kids coming here so that my yard, my garden could be set. And as I'm sitting there telling them how much this, cause my, my strength and that is not what it used to be. I, I, I can't do. And I just telling them how, how great it is that they're coming to do this for me so that I can do this gardening, which I, I love gardening. I mean, I got a fan test and, but I couldn't do it if they didn't come. So they get a blessing and I get a blessing and they get money and I get to garden. And it just, every time I told these crews what they were doing for me, I would end up, you know, tears coming down my face. I'm going, they must think I'm a crazy, really crazy old guy, but it's just, it's right.
Leon Adato (21:29):
And they'd be right.
Doug Johnson (21:30):
And they'd be right. But yes, but they don't know how. Right.
Leon Adato (21:34):
Right, right. But the other thing I want to underscore there is that, you know, I think thinking back to, you know, teenage years, there's a lot of work that you do that, you know, is just, you know, forgive me, but it's, it's shit work that somebody made up just to keep you busy.
Doug Johnson (21:49):
Leon Adato (21:49):
Like really, you know, it's, it's useless and it's, it's really, they would be better off just to hand the money to the organization as a donation. Then you coming out and doing this completely meaningless, pointless stuff, but to come out to somebody who says, no, no, no. The thing that I want to do, the gardening is you are enabling that this is the part I couldn't do. And very clearly letting them see that means that there is not just work and not just payment, but purpose.
Doug Johnson (22:19):
Leon Adato (22:19):
And that, that is huge for a lot of people, let alone kids, but it is a really big deal for, for folks to know that the work that they're doing is meaningful work, that it has an impact on somebody. So, yeah. I mean, when you say blessing, it it's really, you know, the full meaning of that word. Yup.
Doug Johnson (22:41):
Yeah. I mean, and that's true back in the worker. I mean, how, I'm sure you must've had at least one job in the past where you wondered why the hell you were doing it
Leon Adato (22:51):
Doug Johnson (22:52):
Once in a while, but you know, but it's nice having work where you're sitting there going, I know why I'm doing this. I'm the person to be doing, you know, I'm, I am overpaid where I work, uh, for my day job. But the reality is for the kinds of things that I've had to fix over this last year, I may not have had to work really hard, but they couldn't have found one person that knew all of the different things that I knew to fix all of the stupid things that they came up with this last year, I'm going, you know, so they might have
Leon Adato (23:22):
Been paying for the hours, but they were paying for the experience.
Doug Johnson (23:25):
They sure as heck got that. It was just funny. Like every time I'd feel bad about, I really should be working harder. They'd come up with something, Oh, we need this website up in, Oh, let's see a week and a half. Uh, and it has to be match all. And I'm like, okay, well, guess what, I can do that for you. But so, uh, it's, it's been pretty amazing, but so big, big blessing in the spiritual world with Christianity, we get to start all over again anytime. Well, we did, we did the whole, the whole thing. We confess our sins and we get, we, we get to go back to ground zero. Got it. Not quite like not, not, not the Catholic, you know, every week kind of thing, but again, still it's, it's all built in there. Right,
Leon Adato (24:07):
Right, right. I think there's, I think many faith traditions have, I know Judaism does has a, the ability to, let go of the past too. Um, it's not quite wash yourself of your sin of your sins, you know, so to speak, but to, to be able to make a fresh start unencumbered by the mistakes. There's, you know, a lot of people think of heaven as a zero sum points game where it's like, well, if I've sin twice and I've done one good deed that I'm still negative one or whatever it is. And that, that really isn't how the calculus works. It's, you know, there's, there's this concept of taking the things that you have, where you've missed the mark, which is a better translation for the Hebrew word of a Chet or a sin, and really transforming them into a blessing like double because it, the, the, the time that you missed the mark actually drove you to do the good thing. Had you not miss the mark, you would never have been driven to do this, this, um, positive thing. And so it, it actually retroactively makes the quote unquote sin a blessing also. So you get to rewrite the past in a way and Recode it, to something positive, even though it wasn't at the time.
Doug Johnson (25:36):
Yep. And yeah, and it just comes down to things that look bad today. You may look back and say, that's the greatest thing that ever happened to me. All right. You just, you, you don't know.
Leon Adato (25:47):
Right. Right. And I find that faith does a really good job of framing that, um, there's a lot of stories of, you know, the quintessential, like I was stuck in traffic and I was swearing at the person ahead of me and whatever. And I was half an hour late. And what I found out was that had I gotten there on time, you know, fill in the blank, there was an accident, there was a robbery, there was a, this or that, or the other thing. And although I'm telling the story in broad brush stroke, that makes it sort of apocryphal. Um, the reality is that people have experienced that all the time where, you know, I missed my flight and then whatever I'm, you know, not necessary to say. Um, so we have lots of those stories where a, a seeming inconvenience at the moment that we are cursing about turns out to be a blessing, in fact, because it saved us from something much worse or, or horrible or whatever it is. And so again, I think faith helps to reframe that. The other thing that I think faith offers, and this is one of my questions for people who, um, you know, I don't, I don't believe in anything. I don't need any of that, whatever it is that faith offers, if nothing else, it offers a structure, it offers a protocol to handle things. Now, of course, grief is one of the first things that comes to mind. Cause when we're wracked by grief, when we're in the middle of a real crisis, the last thing that our brains can can do is say, well, just do whatever feels right. Do whatever comes to you. You know, no, that is not the moment that we need that. And, and so that's there, but again, because we're talking about emergency confetti, I also think that faith offers us a really interesting structure to process joy in the sense that it tells us, you know, when to celebrate what to celebrate, how to celebrate it. Um, and the secret, I think for faith is that it's in the small moments, not the large ones, um, big moments often just take care of themselves. It's your birthday, your anniversary, whatever you again, you know, I just, you know, you just go with what you feel it with. Feel like, you know, it's, it's a big moment. Okay. But you know, Judaism looks at moments like waking up in the morning is a cause for celebration. You actually say, before you move, as you're waking up, there's a blessing that you say, you know, thank you God for letting me wake up and getting out of bed and going to the bathroom. Okay, Doug, we are men of a certain age and man, you just need it not to work once to realize that all of that working the way it's supposed to is absolutely a cause for celebration, crack out the confetti because whew, everything moved, you know, it's great. In fact.
Doug Johnson (28:39):
He's going to hate me if I start doing that.
Leon Adato (28:40):
Doug Johnson (28:43):
Excuse me, Doug, what's all this glitter all over the bathroom floor. Well, I had this conversation.
Leon Adato (28:51):
Right. Celebrate the small moments. Celebrate the small victories. Right. Um, so Judaism actually looks and says, you know, you should say at least a hundred blessings a day, a hundred, thank you a hundred moments to, to celebrate. And when you think about saying, you know, a blessing for every, you know, every piece of, bit of food that you eat, and again, you know, the different things that you go through the day hitting a hundred, actually, isn't that hard. Um, but the underlying message is that these are moments worth celebrating that I going back to Lee Horton, you know, he, he said, just having an onion to cook with was a miracle. And I don't know that a lot of people think about that. They like, Oh, well, thanks. I'm so glad I had that onion ready, but they don't think of it as a miracle. But when you hear him talking, you know, he means it. He means it sitting, standing in line at the DMV was a joy, a real joy being with friends, having time like it. I think that faith gives us the recognition that these are moments that are definitely worth celebrating, not for weeks and weeks. Again, they're small moments, but there's still good ones. And I also think that faith puts boundaries around the big moments. Yes, there are big moments and they're worth celebrating, but, uh, it, it reminds us that there has to be a beginning and an end to even those celebrations that you have to move on if for no other reason than to make room for the next celebration. The next thing.
Doug Johnson (30:23):
It it's a lot of people get, they'll get caught up in their one success. And then, you know, when the next thing comes is not a success, then they're disappointed. And then it starts to spiral down and they can never move on because again, they just, they went, Oh, that was my big shot on it. I had my big deal. And that was it. And nothing else, you know, it's, it's a lot of what Christiana does talks about being, you know, again, the same thing that you're saying gratitude for everything being grateful, uh, it, there's a, in everything give thanks, uh, is in the new Testament and just, it's hard to do, uh, you know, rejoice always pray constantly in everything. Give, thanks for this is the will of God for you through Christ. Jesus. All right. That's what you're talking about. Yours is a little, a little more systematic and that's, I kind of, I like the idea of actually building some of those reminders into place. Like when you get up and doing that. And I, I may add this to my, uh, my, my list of things that I'm taking away from this, but yeah,
Leon Adato (31:23):
I will make sure that there are in the show notes, there's a link to the English, uh, English version of those. Because they really are. I mean, some of them are, are interesting. Like, you know, thank you God for giving the rooster, the, the understanding that it needs to crow in the morning, which is really saying thank you for, for putting boundaries on the day. Thank you for creating natural rhythms to the day that helped me fit into those rhythms. And I think especially after the last year that we've had where the running gag is, time has no meaning. I don't know what day it is. I don't know what you know. Well, yeah, but the rooster still knows to crow in the morning to wake everyone up. Like there's thank you for putting those structures in place.
Doug Johnson (32:05):
Of course, when I had chickens, we would pick which roosters to put in the pot based on how early they got up. So.
Leon Adato (32:13):
That's just natural selection.
Doug Johnson (32:17):
The one rooster we had at the end, he'd get up around noon, light a cigarette and go, [coughing], but Oh well. In any case.
Leon Adato (32:30):
Um, just, uh, you know, in terms of, yeah, those sell it, making room for celebrations and otherwise you get caught up in the last thing and it wasn't as big as the, the other thing Elizabeth Gilbert gave a Ted talk a few years ago now, after she'd written eat, pray, love, and the pressure was on for her to write something else. And they said, well, you know, what, if it's not as successful as eat, pray love. And she has this whole wonderful Ted talk again, it'll be in the show notes that talks about inspiration and that pressure and the idea that, you know, somehow if, if you don't continue to build on, it has to be bigger and better than before. No, I'm sorry, but it can be the same as before it can be smaller than before and still be worth celebrating, still be worth the joy that it brings.
Doug Johnson (33:14):
Oh, I mean, think about it for being an author. I mean, just any author, most authors that you love have maybe one or two books that were like really great. And then they've got, and then you find out they've got a whole back catalog that you didn't even know about. Um, that's just, and, and some of them are good. Some of them are not so good, but it's, you know, but the fact is they put their rear in the chair and they went ahead and pounded out the words. And as you say, it's worth celebrating the fact that they've got that they were able to go out and accomplish that it's an accomplishment, even if it wasn't death of a salesman,
Leon Adato (33:51):
Right. Or yeah, a New York time bestseller. And the other part about that, and Doug, you know, you're a writer, I'm a writer. Like we know that, you know, that even the things that were best-sellers may not have been the writing that they personally loved the most, or they personally derive the most satisfaction from it. And one of the best questions I hear people ask authors is no, no, no, I know which of your books I love, but which of which of your works do you love? That's, you know, when they talk about the writing, that was the hardest to do. And when it finally came out, it was, it was good, but it was such, it was such an effort that when it came out, it was that much greater for it. You know, those are the things, again, the, the moments that are worth celebrating most may not be the biggest along the way. And so I transitioning to the tech side, right? That's that's the faith side, but the tech side, I like to think that I try to bring some of that into my technical it sensibilities that when something goes, well, I know that I need to stop and celebrate that that no matter how big or small, you know, I was thinking about the line from, uh, the TV show, Bosom Buddies, and now we do the dance of joy because, and it's goofy. And, and my family will tell you, cause I work from home and of course it's been 2020. So it's been this nightmare hellscape pandemic, but okay. You know, that, there's a lot of moments when I come running downstairs and I am literally unintelligible. I'm just like, [unintelligible noise example], and my wife is like, good for you, honey. And I go running back upstairs to try to do the next thing, whatever it is. And you know, you've got to take a minute to, to just recognize that, um, the other piece that I think I, I get from all of this, that big successes, you know, those, those, again, the book, the, the major program, the launch of the new piece of software, the whatever it is, those are big moments that were comprised of small achievable moments of joy that simply added up, not necessarily sequentially either. You know, it's not about getting, you know, winning the trifecta or whatever it is. It was just, you know, enough things went right in a row or, you know, at a time to allow this thing to happen. Um, and I'll, I'll finish this thought just to mention that right now, I am actually programming something, which is not my natural state of being. And I will continue to remind people that I am not a coder or a dev or a programmer. I am be like a script kitty is probably the most complimentary thing you can say, no one will ever weep with joy at the beauty of my code. In fact, the nicest thing anyone's ever said about something that I programmed was, well, it ran right, which for litter, because that's how I feel right now. Like the default state of everything I code is not working. So when something works, when a variable actually is the thing that I wanted it to be, when the page loads, when, you know, I get a number at the end of it, that I was actually expecting, it really is a cause for celebration for me. And it is deeply humbling, but it's also a reminder that, you know, these, these celebratory moments, these, these moments are really tied up into small things. Not necessarily, you know, again, as I framed it at the beginning long stretches of, you know, soul crushing depression, punctuated by a brief moment of joy. I think the moments of joy are in there. And I think that it's up to us to, to recognize them and find them rather than just expect them to sort of beat us over the head or, Oh, that wasn't big enough that couldn't possibly be settled celebratory again, going to the bathroom worth celebrating. Trust me, anybody who's ever had gallbladder surgery knows worth celebrating.
Doug Johnson (37:46):
Oh yeah. But yeah, I mean all kinds of how to and, and life hacks in that really say, you need to go ahead and give yourself positive reinforcement. So it's not, as I said at the beginning, it's not my default state. Uh, one of the things I'm getting, just having this conversation is it's going to remind me to go ahead and try and give myself kudos for the small things along the way when I'm working on stuff, because you know, it can get depressing when you're working on something and big pieces of it don't work. But when you get that little thing that does, it's like, it's hard to remember. You're going, okay, good. Now I can move on to the next, as opposed to taking that moment to go ahead and say, woo, maybe I'll get, maybe I'll do a little glitter.
Leon Adato (38:31):
The other piece I'll add, there's a, another writer who said that, you know, basically I think of as a monkey, you know, I'm just a little monkey who needs a lot of rewards. And, the best work I do is in a café where every time I write a good piece of script, I, I will buy myself a cookie every single time. It's not good for my waist, very good for my output because I I'm so excited for the next thing, the other piece. And I just, I, you know, we're in the lightning round. So you know, that my last thought is that the same writer said, um, I like to write the fun parts first. I have an idea. This is a, a script writer. And they said, um, I have an image of the high points, the big moments in this script. And I'm so excited about it, that I write it first. A lot of people will tell you, you have to write the story from start to finish. No, I write the most exciting, the most compelling, the most interesting moments first, because then I have this beautiful scene and I've got to get there. I have to get the audience from the start of the story, to these moments. And these moments are so exciting that I have to make the whole rest of their journey worth it to get there. So again, by looking forward to the celebration, by looking forward to the thing that I'm already excited about, I make the rest of the journey, which could be again, long stretch of soul crushing depression. No, it is. I'm building up to this great moment and I have to make every moment before worth the journey. So that's another piece of it. Anything that you want to leave everyone with for this episode.
Doug Johnson (40:03):
Don't be like me. I'm depressed most of the time. Be happy. Do glitter.
Leon Adato (40:08):
Do glitter. Don't do drugs. Do glitter that I love it. Yeah. Don't don't eat the glitter.
Doug Johnson (40:15):
No, don't eat the glitter. Definitely do not. No, it's not. It will not take care of your COVID
Leon Adato (40:21):
No, or anything else. Really? It's not roughage. It won't, your didactic. Your digestive tract will not. Thank you or me.
Doug Johnson (40:28):
Although, well, you never know. It might sparkle when it hits the water. Nevermind.
Leon Adato (40:33):
Outtro (40:35):
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 with us on social media.

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