Technically Religious


Weekly podcast on IT, geek life, tech, and how our ethical/moral/religious views figure into it all.

Technically Religious Introduction
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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): [Music] 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): Wow. 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): Exactly. 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): Whoo. 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): Right. 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): Ok. 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): Ok. 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): Sure. 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): Yes. 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): Right. 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): Right. 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): Yeah. 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): Yeah. 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): Yeah. 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): Right. 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): Ahh. 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): Yes. 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): Right. 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): Right. 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): Yeah. 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): Yeah. 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): Yeah. 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): Yes. 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): Yeah. 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.  

May 25

48 min 43 sec

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): [Music] 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): Celebrate! 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): Right. 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): Yes. 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): Yes. 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): Yes. 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): Okay. 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): Right. 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): Right. 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): Yup. 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): Yup. 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): Occasionally 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): Right. 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): Okay. 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.

May 11

40 min 48 sec

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 long time friend, fellow Clevelander, and co-conspirator, Doug Johnson. Listen to our discussion or read the transcript below. Intro (00:03): [Music] 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 (01:39): My name is Leon Adato, and the other voice you'll hear on this episode is a frequent contributor to technically religious and a friend of mine for 30 years. Doug Johnson. Doug Johnson (01:52): We are so old. So very old. Leon Adato (01:52): We are so old. Before this podcast started, we realized that there may be close to a hundred years of experience on this particular episode. And there's just two of us on the line, Doug Johnson (02:01): Man. I'll tell you been at this for a little while. Yes, indeed. And this wasn't my first career, so really? Think about that. Leon Adato (02:10): Yeah, it's really, were like Methuselah put us in a jar. Um, okay. So as we are want to do here on technically religious, we're going to start off with a shameless self promotion, Doug, tell us a little bit about what you're working on, any special projects, how people can find you on social media and required, uh, is your religious ethical or moral point of view? Doug Johnson (02:31): Okay. Basically there's two, technically speaking things that I work on, I work for a company called Southwestern health resources, which is an accountable care organization, health kind of stuff down here in Dallas, Texas. Leon Adato (02:45): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (02:45): Um, when they sold this to me a year ago, I, remember I was working on my own. So I really wasn't looking for a job, but this cool thing came up that put all my background together and I thought, Oh, that's cool. And they said, well, this is a startup. Now keep in mind that this startup was, uh, peeled off from the two big 800 pound health gorillas, thousands and thousands of employees in, in, in Texas. So this startup that I've been part of for a year has 800 employees, $2 billion in revenue, plus et cetera, et cetera. That's not what I thought of when, uh, when we said startup, but there we are. So I am the web developer for the marketing department. And if you're a technical person, you know how most technical people feel about marketing departments. So the fact that I'm the only technical person in the marketing department should tell you a little something there, but it's kind of fun. They, their expectations are really low. So I exceed them all the time and it works out really well for me. Leon Adato (03:44): There you go. Doug Johnson (03:44): My side gig, the one that's going to go ahead and make me a multi-billion million. Okay. A hundred thousand air maybe if were lucky,. Leon Adato (03:52): You'll be able to buy coffee. Doug Johnson (03:54): I'm hoping. Yeah so far, so far it's cost a lot of money, but basically where we do a inventory management for small to medium size, uh, healthcare offices, primarily optical at this particular point using radio frequency identification. And I am the CTO, the chief technology officer, I supposedly know everything that I'm doing. I've designed it. It's working well. We've been breaking even for almost a year and we actually expect to make a profit this year until we then hire an, an employee. And then we'll go back in the red again. Leon Adato (04:24): It's all going to go, right? It all goes down the tubes again. Doug Johnson (04:26): That one is wave So if you have an optical shop and really actually want to control your inventory, go there. Leon Adato (04:35): Awesome. And your religious point of view, Doug Johnson (04:38): Religious point of view, I am a born again, evangelical Christian, but not one of those weird ones. I don't know. You know, I mean, you know, there are evangelical Christians who basically will smack you over the head with a really heavy Bible until you give up. I'm more one of the ones that thinks that we should talk about it and if you come to it, that's great. Um, Leon Adato (04:57): Got it. Doug Johnson (04:57): So yeah, I have, Leon Adato (04:59): I was going to say, Doug is one of the weird ones for those people listening he is, Doug Johnson (05:02): I am one of the weird ones, but not necessarily in the way that you expect me to be weird. Leon Adato (05:06): An evangelical Christian. Doug Johnson (05:07): Exactly. Leon Adato (05:07): Yeah, um hmm. Doug Johnson (05:08): Exactly. So there you are. So that's, that's my, I mean, I've read the Bible multiple times. I do know what I'm talking about. Um, but by the same token, I, I, I respect, I respect your, uh, right to choose, uh, the wrong choice. Leon Adato (05:23): [laughing] I was waiting to get around to that. I Knew somewhere along the way, Doug Johnson (05:31): I keep, I keep on going with the, I could be wrong. I don't think I am, if I'm wrong. Oh, well, uh, I'll deal with it when the time comes. And by this, you know, by the same token, I'm going to try and convince you that, uh, this is the right way to go. Leon Adato (05:45): Right. You might be wrong, but you gave it your best shot. Yeah. Point, you know, it has certainly worked for me over the years, A for enthusiasm. Um, okay. So tales from the Tambo cloud is, uh, structured in a particular way where we talk about your journey first through tech and then through religion. So I want to talk about where you're at now. I mean, you gave us a taster and amuse-bouche perhaps of where you're at technically, but in terms of the day-to-day work that you do, what are you doing today? Doug Johnson (06:14): The stuff that I'm doing today is actually well below my technical capabilities, um, which is fine. I'm okay with that. Um, I, uh, in my, in my day job, I am doing web development. Uh, I was just on Friday given the, uh, requirements to go ahead and re-skin one of our sites in WordPress in two weeks, which most people wouldn't be able to do. And certainly none of our, the people we normally hire at ridiculously high rates would be able to do, but they also know that I'm going to be able to pull it off. So. Leon Adato (06:48): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (06:48): And actually, technically speaking, I'm supposed to have it done in a week so that they can go ahead and get the content over. So having actually worked with a couple of our vendors for months not to get this to happen, I get to do it in a week. So, you know, it'll work, it'll work out okay. On the wave RFID side, I am the CTO. I don't actually do the programming. We got a great team of people in India who were actually doing all the work we're working in a stack that I understand. So they can't get too far out from underneath me. Well, you know, Leon Adato (07:20): Right. Doug Johnson (07:20): Sometimes, sometimes people who are, you know, they don't know the technical stack and, anything could happen at that particular point. I could in essence, dump them at any at any point and take it over, but God, why would I want to, these guys are great. Leon Adato (07:33): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (07:33): I've known them for years. They're doing a good job. It's a layer of L slash PHP slash react stack. It's working great. Clients are happy. They don't care how we do it. And so that one is more, uh, advisory than anything else. I do the design. I make sure that it will go ahead and scale as we grow to thousands of clients instead of tens of clients. And, uh, you know, that's, that's, that's my day to day. Leon Adato (08:03): Well, and, and I'm going to having known you for a while. I'm also going to sort of fill in some of the blanks there, which is that for as long as I've known you, you've always been in, you've always been one of the best examples of an architect level, uh, developer, meaning you're the big idea guy. You're the one who sees that we're gonna, you know, this is the goal we're going for the end result that we're going for. And here's how we're going to get there. You know, the stack, the code, the whatever, you'll, pseudo-code out, what needs to be done. You'll, you'll talk about the flow. And if somebody gets sick or wins the lottery and buys an Island and disappears, you can take over for them, but you don't want to, because you don't really want to be a code monkey day after day after day, you want to jump in, solve the really hard problems or point the way to solving the hard problems and go on. But you certainly could if you needed to. Doug Johnson (08:54): Yeah. And pretty much that would be accurate. I mean, yeah. And, and just for those people who are wondering, gee, I wonder if I should go into tech someday and all that kind of stuff. I'm completely self-taught. Leon Adato (09:04): Yes. Doug Johnson (09:05): I did not get it. I don't have a CS degree. In fact, there's a couple of jobs that I wanted along the way that I lost, because I couldn't do an algorithm on a whiteboard. It just, no, I'm serious. Leon Adato (09:16): No, I know you're serious. Doug Johnson (09:17): I flew out to LA, I flew out to frickin Seattle. I talked with the CTO of the company and he was happy with me. And then the guy who was going to be my boss threw this link list thing at me, and I was like, I, I know how to do what you're talking about, but I don't know how to do that. I mean, you know, I was just. Leon Adato (09:38): Right. Doug Johnson (09:38): And I lost, I didn't get the job as, as a, as a tech evangelist who doesn't actually have to write code because I couldn't do a link list thing. Leon Adato (09:48): Yeah. Doug Johnson (09:48): Do I sound bitter? Leon Adato (09:50): My, not even a little. My, my response in those situations is frequently. Is this something that your employees do often? Doug Johnson (10:00): Right. Well and that's a, Leon Adato (10:01): You do code on a board without, anything like, is that how development is done here? Doug Johnson (10:08): well, Yeah. Unfortunately this was early enough in a job change that I would, at this point, if they had said, if he had said, I need you to do a link list thing, I would go, I don't do that. That's what I would do now, because now having been in that situation one, Nope. I don't have a CS degree. I know what link lists are. I've taught it, but it was 30 years ago, you know? So I don't know. I don't do that anymore. If that's not good enough, I'll just go home fine. Leon Adato (10:35): Right. Exactly. Okay. Doug Johnson (10:36): But I'm old and cranky now, so. Leon Adato (10:38): Right, exactly. So you've earned the ability to be blunt a little bit. Listen, Sonny. Um, so, but you, you hit upon where we're going next, which is that you are self-taught, you didn't, uh, depart the womb already knowing how to code with a silver keyboard in your mouth. Doug Johnson (10:55): Yup. Leon Adato (10:55): Um, so how, where did you start out? Doug Johnson (10:58): Technically, I started out in college. I went to college where they invented Basic. And so you could, in fact, they, they encouraged all departments to do stuff with the computer because we were kind of big on that whole thing. In fact, the, uh, one of the inventors of basic became the president of my college and his signature is out of my diploma. So, so basically you could go down to the, uh, computer center or to a couple of different places around campus, put in your, uh, your college ID number, no password mind you, um, and just put it in and then you'd be on and you could do basic on a teletype. Leon Adato (11:40): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (11:40): And so, and I, you know, I, I did various incentive things. We would all do. English classes would have you do something on the computer, blah, blah, blah. But in physics class, I, uh, the, the first real, uh, indicator that I was, uh, going to do something, interestingly weird with this, I was trying to go ahead and do this, uh, make something, uh, orbit around the planet. Leon Adato (12:07): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (12:07): And all of a sudden on the teletype, there were dots everywhere. I mean, just asterisks cause remember. Leon Adato (12:14): Its full of stars, Doug Johnson (12:15): It's little, Little asterisks everywhere. And I went, okay, that's interesting saved. It went off, uh, went to a different building where they had a, uh, a plotter. And I went ahead and did the 150, uh, baud modem with the phone to go ahead and get it to connect. And it did this really interesting loopy thing. And I went, Oh, that's interesting. And so what had happened was I had, I had actually divided incorrectly in my program. Leon Adato (12:47): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (12:47): And so what ended up happening was I had negated the effect of gravity on, um, on orbits. So by going ahead and doing different numbers with this kind of stuff, I got these really cool loopy things. And remember, this is like, this is early seventies when this stuff was considered to be cool. Leon Adato (13:04): Uh huh, right. Doug Johnson (13:04): Um, , you, you wouldn't even think about it now. You'd go, what are you just a fricking idiot? But at the time, no, you know, it's like, and so I got, I now have on my college degree, uh, not on the degree, but on, on my, uh, resume it basically, I have a citation in physics for a modified gravitational model of a, uh, on a computer. I forget exactly what the words are, but it is a citation in physics keeping in mind, I got a C plus in physics because I really wasn't that great at it. Leon Adato (13:37): Right, right. Doug Johnson (13:38): So I knew, I knew if a computer mistake can do this for me, this was probably a field for me someday. Leon Adato (13:45): There you go. Okay. So that was, that was your humble beginnings. Doug Johnson (13:48): yes, but then I became a disc jockey. Leon Adato (13:48): Your humble beginnings was a citation in physics. Doug Johnson (13:52): I know really? Yes. Except that, except that I realized that now, remember, I wasn't a science guy. I mean, I did, I was thinking about pre-med until I got to biology and realized that wasn't going to work. And so, uh, eventually I got my degree in philosophy. Leon Adato (14:07): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (14:07): I was a disc jockey. They would pay you to sit there and actually tell people what time it was and what song you had just played. And so that's what I kind of did for the next 10 years. Leon Adato (14:16): Right. Right. And actually for those people who were wondering, he was, uh, the number one, uh, was it, Doug Johnson (14:22): Mid day. Leon Adato (14:22): it wasn't DriveTime. Yeah. Doug Johnson (14:24): Mid day. Leon Adato (14:25): Number one mid day, jockey up against, um, 105 in Cleveland, the Cleveland market. Doug Johnson (14:32): Yes. For at least one or two books. I forget. I'm sure Matt, the cat hated me for it, but that's just the way it is. So I beat him. I beat you Matt. Leon Adato (14:41): There we go. Claim, yet another claim to fame, Doug Johnson (14:44): Right. So did that, uh, stop doing drugs? Um, got married, um, worked for the phone company for 12 weeks, nine weeks training, three weeks on the job went, okay, this ain't gonna work. And then I was with Eastern singing telegrams for a whole year. That was a good job. And then I got a job selling computers. So here we are at the end of, uh, when did the Lisa come out? 82 or 81. And it was the October for October before the Lisa came out. Leon Adato (15:16): Okay. Doug Johnson (15:17): Uh, because I, I know that because I did the Apple Lisa rollout training, I'm one of the few people that's ever seen a Lisa let alone a room full of them. Um, but, uh, so basically at that point I was selling computers. Um, and you know, it did rather well at it. Uh, I had a knack for it as it turned out and we were off and rolling. So somewhere along the line, um, we started instead of being just an Apple shop, we picked up IBM's and the way I had been selling apples all along was people would come in and they would say, I need to do a, uh, I needed to be able to do a mailing list. And so I would show them on the Apple, how they could go ahead and set up using profile to do this thing and, and put all their names in. And, and they would say, well, I'm looking at the IBM. I said, well, okay, that's good. I have just shown you on the computer. How I can do this. I would need you, you, you should probably go back to the IBM guy and have the IBM salesman, show you how they're going to do that. Now at the time on the IBM, the only real database for doing that was the thing called dBase wonderful little database program. And when you type dBase at the prompt, A dot would appear. That's all, Leon Adato (16:34): That's what you got. um hmm. Doug Johnson (16:35): And most salespeople would never show you anything on the IBM, because they didn't know how it worked. Now. We decided to carry the, I, we decided to carry, and then they would come back to me and buy the Apple because it made sense. Leon Adato (16:49): Because they could do things. Right. Doug Johnson (16:49): Exactly. Well easily without being, you know, a computer programmer. So basically when we, when my company decided to sell IBM's, I said, nobody is going to do that to me. I went in, learn dBase. I would, Oh, sweet. Okay. I learned how to do my example, so I could do it for my, anybody I was selling to, but I found out, gosh, I can do this. I can handle, I mean, this is programming. I can do this. And it was difficult because it was really early on. But, but the answer is, I just found out I had a knack for it and went out. I was the DBAs expert, then a FoxPro expert. And, you know, I would just keep on learning new stuff as we went along and I keep on learning new things and .NET and Delphi and C and C sharp and keep on going. I mean, it's just like, if it, and then I got into PHP and Drupal and WordPress and combine it, it's just like, yeah, whatever would offer, essentially ahead and allow me to, to continue to pay the bills and have a good time doing it. I would just keep learning it. And as long as you keep on learning in this wonderful world of technology, you're okay. It's when you decide, you know, as much as you need to know, unless it's COBAL, in which case you can keep on working until you die. But come on. There's a lot of COBAL calls still out there baby. Leon Adato (18:10): There's still a lot of COBAL out there. Well, there's a lot of support stuff. I remember meeting a guy who was in his like mid twenties and he decided to really get good at COBOL. And, you know, I'm like, okay. And he just pointed around the bullpen where they were all sitting and he's like, look around me. They're going to die soon. Doug Johnson (18:26): Yep. And he's absolutely correct. I mean, what would they say? Most banking codes still runs on COBOL. Leon Adato (18:32): Yeah. yeah. Doug Johnson (18:32): So I mean now, I mean, I've read COBOL. I've never actually written any useful COBAL code, So that's one of the few languages I can't claim that I've been paid to write. Leon Adato (18:44): There you go. All right. And that covers the, Doug Johnson (18:47): So that's how I got here. Leon Adato (18:47): That, that covers how you got from there to here. So that's, I mean, that's a journey. Um, and I think one of the lessons to, this is something you told me a while ago is that somebody who's new on the market can probably use the latest tools and use them competently. Um, you know, and probably will work for cheaper than, than someone like us at our point in life. But what we bring to the table is that we know what came before it, and probably what came before that. So we know why the current version works the way it does. Doug Johnson (19:18): Yup. Leon Adato (19:18): And how to get around all the hidden bugs. And I remember specifically, I was working with Tivoli at the time and I was trying to, uh, at the time they had just created one of their GUI's and I was putting containers, you know, uh, nesting containers. And every time I would nest something inside of something inside of something inside of something, the entire database would corrupt. And I was complaining to you as I am, want to do often. And you said, well, yeah, because it's a Corba database and I, I don't like banana hamster? Like, what are we talking? Like, why is it no, no, you understand Corba databases are one of the first object oriented database structures ever. And they only handle three levels of can, you know, have container ship after that, the database corrupts, you literally did what it can't do. And I'm like, okay, but who would, who would know that, you know, coming at it new. Doug Johnson (20:10): Yup Exactly. But, and the flip side to that though, and again, this is, I've had all kinds of people saying, well, I'd like to get an attack, but it's way too late. And I'm going, no, you are exactly two years behind the cutting edge. So if you pick out whatever's cutting edge now in two years, you'll be the expert and people down the road will be saying, I don't know how to do this. So, you know, it's like, you're never too late in our industry to jump in. You just have to, you just, you don't want to start with something that's so fricking old that you're battling against everybody like me. Who's been doing this forever. You want to be battling. You want to be battling on the front lines and learning it. And then in two years, yes, it'll take you a little while for the cutting edge to move back. But if you pick the right cutting edge, you know, you will be the expert in two years and making the money you want to make. Leon Adato (21:03): So what you're saying is that Moore's law may not be true until the earth, So the sun dies because of heat death, but it will in terms of chips, but it will be true in terms of getting a career in it that Moore's law will, Doug Johnson (21:17): Surprisingly Moore's law actually is key. It keeps on con, it should have died years ago, and yet it keeps on rolling. Leon Adato (21:25): Right. And once again, if you're old like us, you know what we're talking about when we talk about Moore's law, okay. I want to, I want to pivot, we talked about tech now let's pivot to the, um, religious side. Doug Johnson (21:37): Ok, works for me. Leon Adato (21:37): I know that labels, labels are difficult and often incredibly imprecise. And most of the time on this, uh, on these TAMO episodes, when I say so, what are you, you know, religiously, the answer begins with well, and it ends, uh, several minutes later, when many, many, many qualifications have been given to an answer. That being said, how do you, you know, besides, you know, evangelical, evangelical Christian, but not one of the weird ones. How do you define yourself religiously? Doug Johnson (22:08): Basically, Um, I believe the Bible is to be the word of God. I believe that, um, Christ is the Messiah that he is, uh, my savior that he has. Um, he died for my sins, and I actually, there's nothing that I can do to make myself worthy in the eyes of God. Other than to say, I am the, Christ said, I'm okay. I've trusted in Christ. Therefore, uh, if, if Christ is your son, God, and you think he's okay, then could you maybe think I'm okay too? Leon Adato (22:50): Okay. Doug Johnson (22:51): That's pretty much it. Leon Adato (22:53): Okay. Doug Johnson (22:53): I mean, that's, it's, it's the base that it's, it is the basis of real Christianity. That's a really good book by CS Lewis called Mirror Christianity that I recommend to people all the time. Uh, it's a little more philosophical than most people are willing to slog their way through, although it was a series of radio interviews for God's sake. Uh, so it's, it's good reading, but it basically covers the basis of what Christianity is. And I really have not gotten much beyond the basics, um, could, because it's when you get off in all the weird, you know, differences that Christians tend to go ahead and get in trouble with each other. If you stay with the, the mainstream stuff, for the most part, we agree. Leon Adato (23:37): Got it. Doug Johnson (23:37): So I, so I try and stay, stay pretty central. Leon Adato (23:41): There we go. Okay. And, uh, you mentioned the whole born again thing a minute ago, several minutes ago, Doug Johnson (23:46): Yup. Leon Adato (23:46): But I wanted it. So you, that was not the family, that was not the household into which you were born. Doug Johnson (23:51): No. Leon Adato (23:51): So where did you start? Doug Johnson (23:52): It works the same as my technical journey. Surprisingly. Leon Adato (23:56): Um hmm. Doug Johnson (23:58): When I was, I went to, um, uh, I belong we went to church every Sunday, blah, blah, blah. Um, we, we would, uh, be yelling at each other on the way to church because we were late and we would be yelling at each other on the way home from church, because, uh, we weren't respectful enough in church. So, you know, you, you got a good solid feel for how great church is, uh, and that sort of situation, but, uh, Leon Adato (24:22): Big motivation to go every week. Doug Johnson (24:24): Exactly. Leon Adato (24:24): You look forward to it. Doug Johnson (24:25): But at the same time, you know, I mean, I, I did, I went to, went to youth group and all that kind of stuff. I was, uh, I was one of the three people who did stuff on the senior sermon day, you know, when I was a senior in college, but just for the integrity purpose, there was a, there was a statement of faith that we were supposed to make at some point, along the way, uh, community, uh, not confirmation. It was like a confirmation thing. And I specifically did not actually say some of the words in the statement that we were supposedly standing up and making. So, you know, I was a little bit of a, of a re reactionary there. So I went to college. Okay. At college was where I first got my first introduction to computers. Well, in college, that's where I first went and said, you know what? This is kind of, this is garbage. And. Leon Adato (25:15): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (25:15): I actually, I can actually remember some Christians coming to dorm room going ahead and, you know, trying, you know, laying out the whole Christian thing. And I knew the Bible better than they did, and basically, uh, shot down all of their arguments. And I, I hope I pray to God that I did not ruin their cause I will feel really bad if I was able to go ahead and push them off of their path. Leon Adato (25:39): Knock somebody else off the, yeah, Doug Johnson (25:41): Exactly. Leon Adato (25:41): I so, so, just to hold that thought for a second. Um, first of all, uh, just a point of order for people listening, never, ever get into religious argument with somebody who's in the philosophy department. That's really not, that's not the, the part of the dorm you want. Like if the, if there's a philosophy wing to the dorm, which God help them, if they really did that. But if they're like, if they say so what's your major philosophy. Thanks. Great talking to you. Bye. Just go, just go. Um, and second of all, I heard from actually one of the other folks that we talk with a lot, um, Josh Begley, who said that the missionaries that we, they send people out on, on mission work, not to try to change anybody else's mind, but to try to deepen the faith of the people who are doing the mission, because being told no repeatedly and aggressively causes you to dig in harder into your own, uh, point of view. So they do it because they want that reaction. So you probably helped many, many people develop a stronger tie to their faith. I'm, I'm working really hard, make this okay for you. Doug Johnson (26:44): Well, in the end, and again, based on what I believe as I stand before the, uh, the, the throne and get told, well done thou good and faithful servant. I have a feeling that he's gonna say, Oh, and Doug, I got a little conversation with you ok? Just yeah. Right. With these people. And then you and I, we're going to talk just a little longer, so we'll see how that all works out. But so basically I managed to get through, uh, college, uh, with what I would consider to be a somewhat hedonistic philosophy that basically said, if it's not hurting anybody at camp, it can't be all bad. Leon Adato (27:20): Okay. Doug Johnson (27:20): Right. And, um, and I lived that out. I was a philosophy major. I truly lived that out. I was a disc jockey after that, everything bad that you've ever told your daughters to avoid. I was that thing, right. Leon Adato (27:34): You were that boy. Doug Johnson (27:35): I was that boy, I was the poster boy for who, who you shouldn't have your daughter bring home and, you know, went through that whole thing, blah, blah, blah, uh, graduated from, uh, has got cut, got out of college, was a disc jockey, did all kinds of things for about 10 ish years or so. Leon Adato (27:55): Um hmm. Doug Johnson (27:54): Um, And then I was a disc jockey in Cleveland and then, um, got invited to, uh, a business meeting. We've all heard of Amway. Leon Adato (28:08): Um hmm. Doug Johnson (28:08): So, you know, it sounded interesting went blah, blah, blah. Did that for a while, went to a, uh, big meeting on the weekend. They had a religious service on Sunday morning and they did an alter call and I said, okay, God, here's your shot. Leon Adato (28:28): [laughing]. Doug Johnson (28:28): Don't laugh. I mean, it really is. I know exactly. So I said, fine, I will go forward. Here you go. And it was one of those, you know, hit, God figured he had his one shot, hit me with a two by four tears, blah, blah, blah, the whole thing. And you know, it, it, it stuck. Leon Adato (28:50): Okay. Leon Adato (28:50): So, you know, when, when they say born again, not everybody, uh, I, I don't think you have to have a dramatic, uh, con uh, a dramatic change in your life. I did it. And it probably is the only thing that would have gotten my attention. So I did what I was, I started studying the Bible, doing all kinds of things. Next thing you know, somebody said at the door, Hey, would you like to study the Bible? I went, sure, come on in. I think these Jehovah's witnesses had never actually had anybody really invite them in before. Now, of course, I didn't know much about the Jehovah's witnesses at that point, because I hadn't been saved that long, but so we're going through it and we're studying on a weekly basis. And, um, and in fact, one of the fun things was there was an Easter service that we went to that they, you could, they called you up to the front to take communion. Leon Adato (29:38): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (29:38): Well, I didn't know. You're supposed to be one of the 180,000 saved people to go up. Leon Adato (29:44): Oops Doug Johnson (29:44): So I went up, well, I w. Leon Adato (29:46): Wait, wait, this isn't snacks. I was hungry. Doug Johnson (29:48): No, exactly. It was kind of like, it was like that. I was told later that I shouldn't have done that, but it was okay. You know, I wasn't going to go to hell, but, but then it got weirder and weirder as time went on. And so I made the mistake of reading to the end of the book, Leon Adato (30:04): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (30:04): And now we're back to the philosophy major thing. Leon Adato (30:07): Yeah, uh huh right. Doug Johnson (30:07): And so they came in the next time and I said, um, you don't actually believe that God is, that Jesus has God, do you? And they went, well, blah blah blah, I said, no, apapapa, this is a yes, no question. And so that was the end of me with the, uh, Jehovah's witnesses. And, uh, when we went to another church, uh, we went one Sunday morning and, you know, the place where you sign your name and, and we just lived across the way. And I said, uh, I said, lamb in search of a shepherd. And next day, [knock on door sound] pastors says, how could I not come to your door after that? So, and, and so I was discipled there and, you know, as time has gone on, I've learned more and been discipled by different people and irritated multiple denominations, but, you know, uh, have worked well. Leon Adato (30:59): Yeah, that's, it's an incredibly on brand for you. So, you know, Doug Johnson (31:02): Well, it is, I mean, it's, it's been, it's been fun even when I've been wrong. I've been right. There was there, there was a time when I was teaching a Sunday school class, and this was when I was traveling 45 minutes to a church that was having some trouble, you know, we had moved. Leon Adato (31:16): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (31:16): And so I ended up running late, you know, it's just cause it was a long drive. And the, as I'm going into my Sunday school, getting set to teach my Sunday school class a little bit late, the elder posts, says that it's irresponsible for you to be late, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I said, I've got a class to teach. We'll talk about this later, went in, taught my class, went home, searched scripture, Leon Adato (31:40): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (31:40): Sent him a thing and said, I searched the Bible. The only thing, only time I ever saw somebody arriving late was when Samuel arrived late, and, uh, Saul went ahead and did the sacrifice ahead of time because he wasn't willing to wait. And the elder apologized to me. So, so I knew we were okay. Leon Adato (32:01): There you go. Doug Johnson (32:01): So, and so over a period of time, I've been church, I've been, God help them. I've been deacon in a church or two, you know, I mean, can you imagine, Leon Adato (32:10): What were they thinking? Doug Johnson (32:10): I don't know, I've been, I've been a worship leader. Oh, I can remember once as worship leader, I was there and I was leading us, but I lost the melody. And so the organist go ahead and, and really knocked out the melody. And I said, here I am in front of the whole church. I rely on the kindness, strangers, Thank you, Blanche Dubois. Leon Adato (32:38): Right. Doug Johnson (32:41): So that's been, my, that's been my journey. Leon Adato (32:44): Amazing. Both, you know, both the technical and the religious journey has been, uh, Epic in many ways. Um, I think what's interesting about that is that given both the variety and also the duration of it, and yeah, I did just call you old. Um, the, you know, Doug Johnson (33:06): I'm not old, I'm durable! Leon Adato (33:06): Right. Durable, experienced, seasoned, like an old cast iron pot. Um, so I, I think that the, the number of times that the opportunity to blend these two very compelling, very consuming parts of our lives together, um, you know, becomes equally memorable. So, uh, both on the good and the bad, let's start off with the challenging part, you know, have you ever, have there ever been times when blending your religious life observances and your technical obligations or life has created a, a particular challenge for you and how did you overcome it? Doug Johnson (33:47): Um, yes. I mean, it pretty much has to be a conflict or. Leon Adato (33:53): Right. Doug Johnson (33:53): What you don't have conflict. Where's the story. Come on now. Leon Adato (33:57): Right. Doug Johnson (33:57): Yeah. I always tell people when they had a really bad vacation, they went, Hey, you got good stories. Nobody wants to hear what a wonderful time you had, They want to hear everything that went wrong, but I can, I mean, I can remember that I had a consulting firm, um, for a long time where I was doing accounting software and I can remember a couple of different occasions where, uh, I ran into when the one place he went, uh, so, uh, I need to have some, uh, I need to have some inventory disappear. Can you make that happen? Leon Adato (34:30): Okay. Doug Johnson (34:31): And I'm going, I don't think we need to work together anymore. You know, it's just like, yeah. I mean, could I have done it? Absolutely. I mean, do I, you know, I knew, I knew the accounting software well enough that I could have made it, made that happen. But in fact, I was actually played by somebody once. Um, he, well, he thought, anyway, a friend of mine had a company. He had a guy who was managing his company. So I got in there and the guy said he had done a bunch of test, uh, test transactions. And could I move the, could I get the just test transactions needed to get re needed to get them off? And so I did move them off, but I moved them off to the side. Leon Adato (35:10): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (35:10): It turns out the guy was embezzling, Leon Adato (35:13): Right. Doug Johnson (35:13): They weren't they weren't test transactions. They were real transactions. And so I got to, uh, uh, be an expert witness in his trial. By the way, if you ever want to know how boring your life is, be an expert witness. I could see the people nodding off as I'm describing accounting software. Leon Adato (35:33): Yeah. Being an expert witness in a technique. Yeah. In a, in a computer accounting fraud. Doug Johnson (35:37): Oh yeah, Exactly. It was bad, but you know, it was so in that was a case where I was played, but of course, uh, you know, I, I covered for it. So I was able to actually, you know, the guy went to jail and he should have no. So just the way it was, uh, I, I can remember being in another place where looking, you know, looking at his stuff, um, there was no way that he had, he could afford the boat, that he had a picture on the wall of, Leon Adato (36:05): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (36:05): Based on what I was seeing here. So only thing I could figure out was he was laundering funds somewhere. It was the kind of business that would have been good for that. So I let that, that's again, a case where I went. Yeah. I think I need to let this client go. So. Leon Adato (36:20): There you go. Okay. So, uh, that's, that's sort of the challenging side on the good side. Has there ever been a situation where the blend of technology and religion has really turned into something surprising and kind of delightful? Doug Johnson (36:34): It's sort of a yes and a no? I mean, I, the nice thing about being able to do what I do is that I, I am able to go ahead and help out non-technical organizations with technical stuff that they should have. So there's been things that I've been able to do for various and sundry, different organizations that I've been involved with. Keeping in mind that I actually made an active choice not to do religious or church software relatively early on, because I knew that if I did it to make my living, I would ended up hating my brothers and sisters in Christ. Leon Adato (37:12): Right. Doug Johnson (37:12): As a volunteer, as a volunteer, it was okay. But if I. Leon Adato (37:15): Yeah. Doug Johnson (37:15): Had to make my living that way, there was just no way that that was going to go ahead and work. Leon Adato (37:19): It doesn't people who love to cook and decided to open a catering company. And not only do they hate to cook now, they also hate people. Doug Johnson (37:26): Yeah. Pretty much how it all works out. Yeah. I've done a few catering gigs, but yeah. I don't want to make my living that way. Leon Adato (37:33): Um hmm, yeah. Doug Johnson (37:33): So yeah. And I love to cook. Um, the best part of it for me is that technical stuff is very, uh it's. Yes, no. I mean, you really have to, I I've got a client that every time something happens, he goes, boy, that's weird. And I'm going, no, it's not weird. We just don't know why. Leon Adato (37:56): um hmm. Doug Johnson (37:56): Right. Leon Adato (37:56): Right. Doug Johnson (37:56): I mean, it's like, computers are really, there's always a really good reason why they're having a problem. Right. And you taking that same logical philosophical, uh, bent that I have. Leon Adato (38:10): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (38:10): It works really well for me. Christianity does make sense. I mean, Leon Adato (38:15): um hmm. Doug Johnson (38:15): Pascal, the mathematician it's, it's called Pascal's, uh, gambit or whatever it is. But he basically said, if I'm a Christian and I am wrong, what have I lost? If I'm a non-Christian and I'm wrong, I've lost everything. So it, it, for me, Christianity works both from a logical and a systematic thought basis. Um, that, that appeals to me, and. Leon Adato (38:43): Um hmm. Doug Johnson (38:43): It's the same thing on the technical side, you can always work through a computer problem may take you forever, but. Leon Adato (38:48): Right. Doug Johnson (38:48): You know, but, but, but it there's always an answer there somewhere. It can be ridiculously difficult to track down, but it's always there. Leon Adato (38:58): Nice. Doug Johnson (38:58): They sort of play off against each other sort of nicely that way. Leon Adato (39:02): Wonderful. Okay. So this is the lightning round. Are there any final thoughts? Any lessons you want to share before we wrap this up? Doug Johnson (39:10): One of the things that, uh, sort of bugs me about Christians in general. Leon Adato (39:15): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (39:15): Is we believe, as Paul said here in, you know, here in earth, great. Uh, I die. I go to heaven even better. Okay. Leon Adato (39:25): Uh huh. Doug Johnson (39:25): Why do Christians? Why are Christians so afraid of death? Why are we so afraid of dying? Leon Adato (39:30): Hmm. Doug Johnson (39:31): It's just, it's silly. I mean, I understand that there's an unknown there, but if we believe what we say, we believe then we should be, Sweet! I actually said that once we were in, we were in a thing. Leon Adato (39:46): Oh god! Doug Johnson (39:46): we were in, we were. Leon Adato (39:47): Not at a funeral, please Doug, not at a funeral. Doug Johnson (39:48): No, wait wait, it wasn't a, Oh, by the way, I give great funerals. I give great funeral, just so you know, I've been asked to do several eulogies and I give great eulogy, but I have people laughing until I have them crying. Leon Adato (40:02): Aww. Doug Johnson (40:02): Every time I'm good at it. But in this case, we were in a meeting and the guy was the guy who was leading was blah, blah, blah. And he was going, so, so you leave here and you walk out the door and you accidentally step in front of, step in front of a truck. And I went, sweet! And he went, that is the first time anybody's ever said that. And you are completely correct. Leon Adato (40:25): Okay. Doug Johnson (40:25): Well, it is. I mean, if you think about it, I mean, golly, no pain, no suffering. And you're with God, come on. How bad is that? Leon Adato (40:34): Right. Doug Johnson (40:34): That's not bad at all. So the, that's, that's one of my big beefs with, you know, in general, if we believe what we say, we believe we should not be so afraid of death, that's the whole point. But there you are. Leon Adato (40:49): Got it. There you go. All right. As always, it is a delight to talk to you even when we're not recording, but when other people get to share in this, uh, Whoa on them, I guess. I don't know. It's uh, but we had a good time. So thank you for joining me as always. Doug Johnson (41:06): I appreciate it. And I will see you. I will be up there in September, by the way. Leon Adato (41:11): Woo hoo! Up in Cleveland, in September picking the right. Oh, wow. That's that's not next month. I, it, time has no meaning for me anymore. Doug Johnson (41:19): Sorry I know, It is pretty much, no, it it's my 50th, uh, high school reunion a year and a half late. Leon Adato (41:25): Well, yeah, of course it is yeah. Doug Johnson (41:28): But so yeah, Leon Adato (41:30): Because 2020 is just a big blank spot on the calendar. Doug Johnson (41:33): Oh, it didn't happen. 2020 nah. Didn't happen. No. Oh, well, all right. Well, I can't wait to see you. Thanks again. New Speaker (41:40): All right. Talk to you later. Leon Adato (41:42): 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.

Apr 6

41 min 53 sec

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): [Music] 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): OK. 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): Exactly. 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): Right. 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): Yep. 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): Right. 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): Yeah. 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): Ok. 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.

Mar 30

23 min 3 sec

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): [Music] 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): It's. Stephen Foskett (04:12): I believe in people. Doug Johnson (04:12): Right. 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): Okay. 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): Aha. 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): Moo. 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): wow. 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): Yes. 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): Ok. 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): Good. Leon Adato (25:15): Wow. 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): Right. 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): sweet. 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): Right. 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): Right. 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): Great. 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): Yes. 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): late. 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): Good. 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.

Mar 9

41 min 41 sec

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.

Mar 2

42 min 21 sec

  "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side" - Han Solo   The way religion is portrayed in sci-fi is sometimes the worst of straw men. Just a few examples include Good Omens, American Gods, Raised By Wolves, and the entire concept of "The Force" in the Star Wars universe.   These aren't religions. They're crayon sketches of a religion drawn by someone with only a passing knowledge of (or deep experience with) an actual religion. They're pediatric theology canonized into a sci-fi framework meant from the start to highlight a pre-conceived set of flaws.   As geeks, our (valid) enjoyment of the sci fi story unwittingly undermines our potential enjoyment of religion and religious experiences. But, as RELIGIOUS geeks, we now have to overcome this perception of religions being completely illogical, appealing to the small of mind and weak of intellect.   BUT… as IT folks with a strong connection to an organized faith system, we also have the opportunity to point out these flaws and help others see them as such. We don’t need to re-write the Bene Gesseri order any more than we need to make the magic of Harry Potter adhere to the laws of physics. But by engaging our fellow nerds on the subject, we can encourage them to more critically assess the story’s (and therefore their own) pre-conceived notions.   Listen or read the transcript below. Speaker 1 (00:23): [inaudible] 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. The way religion is often portrayed in Sci-fi can be the worst of straw-men often. It seems like their crayon sketches of religion drawn by someone with very little knowledge of an actual religion. Pediatric theology canonized into sci-fi framework meant from the start to highlight a preconceived set of flaws. Does our enjoyment as geeks and as Sci-Fi aficionados of these stories, unwittingly undermine our potential enjoyment of religion and religious experiences, or as IT folks with strong, with a strong connection to an organized faith system, do we have an opportunity to point out these flaws and help others see them as such and possibly help them build an appreciation of real religion in the process I'm Leon Adato, and I'd like to welcome two new voices to the technically religious Pantheon. First up is Justin Dearing. Justin Dearing (01:40): Hello. Leon Adato (01:41): And next up is Jason Carrier. Jason Carrier (01:43): Great to be here. Leon Adato (01:44): Okay. So as is our want here at technically religious, we're going to start off with some shameless self promotion of guests and, uh, everything that you're doing. Uh, Justin, why don't you start us off, tell us who you are and a little bit about yourself. Justin Dearing (01:57): So I'm Justin during I am a senior consultant at Neudesic, I'm basically a developer who, uh, actually liked writing SQL, uh, Zippy1981, I am Zippy1981 on the Twitters, uh, because I am old, not quite as old as Leon, uh, and, uh, I identify as Roman Catholic. New Speaker (02:17): Very Good. Okay. How about you, Jason? Jason Carrier (02:20): Hi, my name is Jason carrier. I'm a product manager at SolarWinds, and also a freelance product consultant. Uh, you can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn. All the other social medias, are pretty worthless personally. Um, on Twitter, I am network_carrier and LinkedIn. You can just look me up by my name, and I would consider myself a self-styled Buddhist. Leon Adato (02:40): Fantastic. All right. And wrapping, circling back. I am Leon Adato. I'm a head geek. Yes, that's actually my job title at Solarwinds, It's not solar or wind because naming things is hard. Apparently you can find me on the Twitters, which I say just to horrify Keith Townsend's daughter, uh, you can find me there @leonadato. You can also find me pontificating on things, both technical and religious, And I identify as an Orthodox Jew and sometimes my rabbi lets me do so. Um, so I want to dive into this conversation, uh, starting off, you know, from the premise, is, is that really what you think? And what I mean by that is that when I'm watching certain shows and I'm specifically thinking about things like, um, certainly anything by Neil Gaiman, American gods, good omens. I really desperately hope that Neil Gaiman doesn't think that's what we religious people think. You know, as far as what religion is, I just, I, I categorize it all. Or most of it as what I call pediatric theology. What I mean by that is somebody who is a grown-up. They might have an engineering degree. They understand how load bearing walls and weight works and things like that, but their religious education stopped in third grade and therefore they find themselves arguing, "thats stupid. You can't fit that many animals in a boat, there would never be able to"...., which is ridiculous. Not just because the question itself is a little bit weird, but also because there are thousands of years of commentary, from, you know, all the way back to the middle ages, where they said just all the birds I know about wouldn't fit on a boat that size, of course, those dimensions don't work. Obviously there's something else we're talking about here. My point being that somebody's, will say real world physical education has proceeded into their adulthood, but their religious education stopped in second grade and never went any further, but they're still trying to argue religion using that understanding. It seems like there's, that's part of what scifi is trying to do. I don't know what you think about it. Jason Carrier (04:52): I was gonna say, I think it's important to start with, uh, the, the differences between what is a religion, what's your worldview and, uh, kind of your, your attitude towards spirituality. Those things are kind of three distinct, um, uh, characteristics. So I would define them, I think it's important for our conversation to go through define those words. Right. And what do we mean by those? So to me, religion is, uh, all that set of, uh, kind of, uh, uh, habits that you go through and, and, you know, the different ceremonies, the, the different, uh, um, holidays that you have, that kind of thing, that's the religion, but then the worldview is, is kind of, how do you think that reality works, you know, uh, is, is there, uh, uh, planets going around the sun or is the sun going around the planets? You know, that kind of thing. That's kind of overall worldview, and then there's also the, the elements of spirituality is how do you think the, the unseen works, you know, is there something working behind the scenes? How does that work? Is it, is it karma? Is it heaven? Is it, hell, is it, you know, what's, what's the paradigm of the unseen that you ascribe to? Leon Adato (05:48): Got it, Justin, any, like what you, what's your take on that? Justin Dearing (05:53): Okay. I think, I think Jason's raising good points, but I think another thing to keep in mind is, you know, some people Who actually are, you know, perfect their religion and do try to be spiritual, also do have these, this pediatric theology, you know, they, they believe it all the animals on the boat, not just because there are fundamentals or wherever they, they just haven't really liked delved deep into it at all. New Speaker (06:13): Right. Justin Dearing (06:13): You know, Leon Adato (06:14): That was. Justin Dearing (06:14): And their religious. Leon Adato (06:14): That was what they learned. And it was good enough for them in the same way that some people stop learning math, when they can balance their checkbook. And some people stop even before that. And think that it's okay just to take what the bank statement says as Gospel truth. So, right. I think that's true. And circling it back to Sci-Fi, I think the challenge with religion as it's portrayed in Sci-Fi and fantasy, is that I think it does a disservice to the consumer, to, to the reader, um, in the sense that first of all, I always think that a richer, more, uh, more detailed world makes for a better story. So when you give religion in your story, short shrift, you are giving the story short shrift in a way. Um, also I think that a lot of scifi and fantasy writers find religion, this, this straw man, religion to be a really good antagonist, but if you start really fleshing out the religion, it stops being as good an antagonist. You know, when you start to understand that there are reasons and, and background and, and underpinnings suddenly it's not this, you know, totalitarian authoritarian regime, instituting the religious will of the, like, you know, that kind of like you can't do that once you recognize that there's a, you know, 4 or 5,000 year history behind it. I don't know. Jason Carrier (07:39): And then the fun part there is which part of the four or 5,000 year history are you going to represent in your, your characterization of the religion? Because that's kind of what they're doing in Sci-fi in a lot of ways is characterizing religions. It's definitely a reductionist view of it, but, uh, I would argue that there's still value necessarily to that reductionist view. Uh, you don't necessarily need a story to be true in order to derive some value from it. You can kind of get the lesson from it and apply that lesson in your present moment to make a better decision. Uh, you know, uh, maybe it's a value judgment of what's good, what's bad, bad that you could draw from star Wars, for example, and, and see, uh, you know, only the Sith deal in absolutes. So, you know, as a, a person in the world, I'm not going to deal in absolutes either. Cause I don't want to be like the Sith brick. That'd be a really simplistic example. You know, Leon Adato (08:23): Don't be like the Sith Bobby. Justin Dearing (08:27): But I want lightning, Leon Adato (08:29): right. Justin Dearing (08:31): Keep my kids in line. Leon Adato (08:32): Right, right. That would definitely okay. First of all, I've seen you do enough home home, uh, you know, home repair videos that you have lightning when you need it, you certainly have enough, um fire power in your garage to do that, but that's a whole other conversation. Um, okay. I, I see what you're saying. I think that the damage, the potential damage is that for people who are consuming, um, fantasy, and Sci-fi where religion is again, poorly represented there, the risk is that they will turn to the real religion in their lives in the world, and they will, they will draw equivalency. They will say the Catholic church is, stupid in the same way that, um, what was that movie with the gun kata? And, uh, it, it was another one of those dystopian movies where the church ran everything and everyone took it their happy pill to, you know, not be angry and stay calm all the time. Jason Carrier (09:38): Oh, with Keanu Reeves, what? Leon Adato (09:40): What? Jason Carrier (09:40): With Keanu Reeves? I don't remember the name of it, but it was Leon Adato (09:42): No, no, it wasn't Keanu it, wasn't Keanu Reeves. I'm trying to remember who even stared in it. But anyway, it's not important. I, if I can find it, I'll put it in the show notes after. Um, but the point is, is that, um, religion was the opiate of the masses. It was that sort of line. And, um, you know, the people who were calm had found a sort of inner strength and, um, it wasn't that it wasn't, that religion was good. It was that religion had been, subverted to become the means of control, and I think that people go in, you know, seeing a story like that, and then, going to church or going to synagogue or whatever, may bristle, especially again, going back to the pediatric theology, if you don't know any more than what you learned in second grade, it's really easy then to see the evil empire, you know, in taking communion or something like that. I mean, you know, like it just, it leads to really bad, um, it leads to really bad sort of mental jumps, which drive people away from a religion where they might find some fulfillment if they had taken the time to maybe learn more. I guess that's, that's really my, my, my concern about it. Jason Carrier (10:54): I can definitely see your point. I think it's two sides to the same coin. There's, there's good things that can happen and there's bad things that can happen. Right. And it's, it's all devil's in the details kind of differences, you know, how well is the story told and when is that parable being applied into what situation? Right. So, so the outcome isn't going to always be good or always be bad, you know, which kind of goes back to the whole only the deal sift deal in absolutes. Right. And it's only gonna, it's, it's gonna really depend on all the variables of your, your situation. Right. Leon Adato (11:21): Got it, I like the ok. Jason Carrier (11:23): the movie that were talking about, I think is equilibrium. Leon Adato (11:25): Yes!! Jason Carrier (11:25): With Christian bale. Leon Adato (11:27): Yes. Jason Carrier (11:27): There we go. Leon Adato (11:28): That's it. Okay. Thank you. Oh, my, my, my Googler on the side. Fantastic. Um, I want to pick up on some of. Jason Carrier (11:36): Google Fu is important. Leon Adato (11:36): that Jason that you mentioned earlier, which was the reductionism. And, and so that takes us to the second sort of major talking point in this, uh, particular episode, which is what I'm calling reductionism on parade, you know, where are there examples where, uh, a religion has been reduced, possibly past its, it's, worth, worthiness? Um, and the two examples that I've got, um, first is Orson Scott Cards, uh, seventh son series. This was a series that he clearly wrote, to try to provide a fantasy structure to, um, Mormonism in the same way. And this is my other example, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, is a fantasy structure to, uh, Christianity overall. Um, so the seventh son series has a primary pro you know, protagonist named John Smith. Leon Adato (12:27): And, uh, he is a maker, a seventh son of a seventh son. And all along the, the series, you end up with things like a golden plow head that has self will and wants to plow dirt, but only the right kind of dirt. And you have the foundations of a crystal city that is made out of crystallized water, and you have all sorts of other things. You know, you have these Allan elements of Mormon. I'm going to say mythology. I don't mean it as myth. I mean, it just as the, the underlying structure of the Mormon religion. So you have that, but it does a disservice, I think, to Mormonism overall, um, because it doesn't do a good job of telling the, the story of the seventh son. And it also doesn't do a good job of telling the story Mormonism. And that takes me the other example I have, which is a language in the order of which I have affectionately or, or, um, uh, in an annoyed voice called Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, um, blunt force Catholic trauma, because it's just this, like, you know, you're reading the story and all of a sudden, you're, you know, there's this mace coming from off the side that bashes you over the head, whang!! Look at, you know, Aslan is Jesus! Whang!!. Look, it's Mary! Whang. He died on the cross! Whang!! Like, you know, it's like I get it, I get it. And it ends up being a really bad story, fantasy story. And really, I feel not a particularly wonderful introduction to, you know, Christian ideals. I don't know. I, you know, I, I may not be the best judge of it though. Justin Dearing (13:59): I, I mean, I, I will say I had a roommate in college who, whose, uh, father was a director of religious education in the Catholic church. And he was, uh, he, he did not, um, he, he, he did not stick with Catholicism and he very much agreed with your assessment. And I would say even like, I, I do agree that it is very, uh, heavy handed, um, Christianity, but it is a children's book. And like, part of that is like, when I read Tolkien as a kid, I kind of knew there was some kind of like Christian algri in there, but, you know, I think it was more obvious, um, you know, with, and I guess maybe from it, it was meant to be childlike and pediatric because, um, you know, there, there was a tweet, I think that the best summarize it, you know, we're, you know, CS Lewis would be like, Oh, and now the, the Norse, you know, the Norse god of war and, and, and Santa Claus are gonna join the battle and Tolkien, it's like, here's this ax, it's 2000 years old. I'm gonna tell you the entire history of um and were just going to, That's just the axe he has, you know, Leon Adato (14:56): Right Oh, oh, is the ax, is the, is the ax Protestantism? No, it's, it's an ax. It's right. I actually, you know, having read, um, Tolkien, you know, Hobbit and Lord of the rings and things like that multiple times, I, I know that Tolkien had a religious point of view, I, I don't feel it. I certainly don't feel it as aggressively as Lion the Witch and the wardrobe and you're right. It is a children's story. So I, I, can't always, that's the reverse of pediatric theology where you come to a children's story and you say, well, that's ridiculous. The, you know, the gingerbread man could never walk. I mean, he's made of gingerbread. Where would his sinews be where it is? Okay. You're overthinking it Leon and you're really, really overthinking it. So, you know, there's that too. But, um, I, I didn't get the religious overlay in Tolkien as sir, as much as I get in, in certainly other things. Um, okay. So what are some other examples of, you know, reductionism and you know, why or why not? Jason Carrier (15:58): So, uh, one of the, one of the ones that I would look at is, uh, in Game of Thrones, for example, they, they kind of have in the, the, the old school world, that's their a sort of a, a parallel to the pagan religions of, of earth, and then in their new, uh, religion, that that's the more predominant in the, uh, kind of series where they're talking about, uh, the mother and the father, and, you know, uh, kind of, uh, those sort of, uh, uh, tropes, uh, sort of speak more to a Christian, uh, mythos a little bit, uh, and the the play between those two, I thought it was pretty well woven into the story, uh, sort of how the, the, the older folks, uh, would, would remember kind of the old gods that were more based on trees and, you know, fairies and that kind of thing, uh, paralleling the Paragon, uh, the, the, uh, pagan religions, and then the newer ones were kind of looking more like the, the Christian type, uh, Deities. Leon Adato (16:48): Got it. So before we go to the other side of reductionism, you know, where we think that Sci-Fi stories have, and fantasy stories have gotten it right, I want to take a stop. Jason, when we were prepping for this, you said something really interesting, about sometimes, what I'm calling the void can fill the void, meaning space and Sci-Fi and fantasy, the void, you know, can fill a void, the lack of religion in people's lives. And I wanted you to sort of expand on that for a minute. Jason Carrier (17:16): Sure. So, uh, particularly in, in, uh, America, I want to say it's like 30%, 35% right in there. Folks don't even go to church. They don't have any sort of, uh, religious view. So that's not to say that they're agnostic or atheist, but in a lot of cases, they just don't have an opinion. You know, it's not something that they consider. So, uh, seeing a way to, I think there's value in, in Sci-Fi in, in how, uh, religious philosophy is sort of characterized in there, for the uninformed, because it sort of helps to give them, uh, some level of exposure there. Uh, and I know that's a different perspective than the one that you're coming. And I think that the, the important thing to recognize there is the perspective that you're coming from is a well-educated, uh, Jewish person, right? So someone who really understands the ins and outs of that faith, uh, relative to, uh, uh, the uninitiated, you know, so that uninitiated person, um, can really get a lot of value from the parable nature of the Sci-Fi that's or of the religion that's represented in. Sci-Fi Leon Adato (18:14): Got it. So that would speak more to like the spirituality of that you were talking about earlier that, that Sci-Fi, I'm, I'm using air quotes here, Sci-Fi quote, unquote, religion, but the, the philosophy of it could fill in terms of a, a more, a set of morals or the idea that you, you should have a set of morals. You should have a set of ways to determine difficult ethical questions. You should think about these things beyond their immediate. It that's what I'm hearing. Jason Carrier (18:45): Yeah. So, so essentially the, the Sci-Fi can drive them to think through those problems, whereas maybe they wouldn't have before. So considering those moral paradoxes and, uh, coming up with their own sense of morality off the example that they're seeing in the screen or book. Justin Dearing (19:00): Yeah. And I think if, if, if you, whatever were rejected Christianity or whatever, and you were, you were not given a framework when that what you could, you could be a good person because of what, because of the failing of the religion that brought you up, or you just, weren't brought up with one and you end up watch star Trek, and then you decide to become a youth minister, a transhumanist, you know, you sit there and, you know, you could go really deep into kind of some of the underpinning philosophies and, and, you know, there, there are some values, there are things I don't agree with, but there's a solid, uh, you know, philosophical and spiritual thing there for you to go out Leon Adato (19:35): In the absence of anything else. It certainly, I think can serve a purpose. Uh, Jason, I didn't mean to cut you off. Jason Carrier (19:41): Oh I was just going to say, uh, captain Picard is a good leader, whether you believe the Klingons are real or not. Leon Adato (19:47): Okay. Fair. And, and I have been known to use the question of whether uh, Darth Vader truly repented, or not as part of a, uh, Jewish context, uh, conversation. It was more whether or not Darth Vader performed, what would be Halachically or Jewish in the Jewish religious structure, whether he really performed, um, true repentance or not based on that structure. So we're still back to the structure, dogmatic, you know, thing, and whether or not the Sci-Fi character could have done it. So it certainly does serve a purpose. At the same time. I do want to call out a particular risk, um, in using Sci-Fi science fiction as a filler for a religious, um, philosophy or a religious framework. And that's the science part. Uh, one of, one of the great rabbis of this era rabbi Jonathan sacks, um, who recently passed away and he was the chief rabbi of England. Um, he had a book called a great partnership, and it was a treatise, on why science and religion both need to work together. It was against the idea that science and religion are contradictory in any way. And some of the thoughts that he brought up that I thought are relevant here is first of all, science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean, and you know, that they serve two different purposes, but then he went and said, here's the problem, when you treat impersonal phenomena, meaning science, as if they're persons, you end up with myth, light comes from the sun God, rain comes from the sky God, and so on. And, but when you treat persons impersonally, when you treat people like they're things, as if they were objects, the result is dehumanization. You categorize people by color, class, creed, and you treat them differently because of that. And so they work together and the risk, I think, in using science fiction as your basis for a religious, moral or ethical point of view is that the science is going to out, The science of the science fiction is going to outweigh the philosophy, religion, and again, that putting together that interpersonal piece of it. Um, and you're going to end up with a, a poor substitute. I don't know if you have any thoughts about that. Jason Carrier (22:16): Yeah. I could definitely see your point and I wouldn't disagree that that would happen in some cases. I just think that there's uh, both cases that are represented. Um, obviously if somebody were looking at a Sci-Fi and taking that as, as their source of absolute truth and thinking that, um, that was really a true definition of reality. I think that would be a very different thing than, uh, looking at it, analyzing it, thinking it through and trying to find where they could draw value from it, but I really liked the point that you made about, uh, science and religion needing to work together. That's actually one of the things that drew me to Buddhism in the first place was that, uh, when science has a better understanding of something Buddhism adjusts, it doesn't, uh, portray itself as the purveyor absolute truth. Um, which was something that really, really appealed to me. Leon Adato (23:01): Got it. Justin Dearing (23:01): Yeah and and, I'll say, you know, as, as a Catholic, you know, uh, you know, people like to talk about Galileo and, you know, I, I won't get into the politics of, of then, but it was basically more of a reject state. They, they just said, you know, hold off on teaching that until we figure some stuff out. But, you know, nowadays there, the Catholic church has a, uh, uh, a big telescope in, in, uh, I think Arizona it's called loose, the Lucifer telescope, um, run by the Leon Adato (23:27): Wait, wait, it's called the what?? Justin Dearing (23:27): Yes Lucifer. Yes it's called Lucifer, yes. Leon Adato (23:27): I presume not after the Marvel and TV show character, but instead Jason Carrier (23:40): Jesuits have a sense of humor. Yes. Leon Adato (23:44): Yes. Justin Dearing (23:44): But, uh, yeah. Uh, but the, you know, and they, they, they do that and they say, you know, um, you know, they talk about how, you know, you know, Christmas probably, uh, Jesus, wasn't probably born on the 25th. We probably weren't in March because of, of, of the, the, the, the sheep were probably giving birth. That's why they were laying in the field and, and, and what happened, you know? And, and we, you know, there, there is, um, yeah, we, we, I think most modern, you know, uh, at least my religion, you know, we, we, we do try to, you know, take science into account, uh, there, and I think, I think other religions too, and I, I think, um, you know, if that, you know, some, some, some, some shows do get that right. I think maybe like the assigned it. Right. Leon Adato (24:21): And that takes us. So that takes us into the next, the next section, which is which stories do we think, um, really get it right. And I'm going to, I'm going to start off. I've got a couple of things that I think really did well, first of all, not a lot of people, um, now know about Catherine Kerr's Deryni series Deryni, spelled D E R Y N I, and it'll be in the show notes. She did a really good job of, of portraying, uh, a medieval or sort of slightly post pre Renaissance, uh, Catholicism to, and putting it in a con, in a fantasy context. So it really, really, really is Catholicism it's really, as Christianity it's, they're not trying to make it some fake something else that, you know, and, but it exists in parallel with, um, you know, her fantasy construct. And she does a really good job of talking about how a religious sensibility informs the users of we'll call it magic. It's not, but whatever, um, and how it informs the world. So that's the first one. I also actually liked the spirituality of ma uh, Madeleine L'Engle, um, wrinkle in time series. I thought she got, even though there were no specific re, you know, what we would call traditional or structured religious elements in there, she really gave a sense of the scope of the universe. And, um, Jason, to your point, how the unseen works behind the scenes, she gave a sense that there is larger forces and larger ideals at play. And the last one, a lot of people say, well, there's no like Orthodox Jewish, you know, fantasy stories. There was one that I know of, it's called the red magician by Lisa Goldstein. And it takes place in a Hungarian village. It takes place in a Orthodox Jewish Hungarian village, and Judaism doesn't figure into the story at all. They, the characters just all happened to be Orthodox. Um, and the last one is actually a comic book it's called how America got her sword, which builds itself as just another story about a 12 year old troll fighting, uh, Orthodox Jewish girl. So it's, it's just, again, it takes place in an Orthodox context where the Orthodox Judaism, doesn't, it isn't a pivotal element. It just is present as another aspect of the world-building that the writers do. So those are ones that, that do well. And again, I think they did it well because the religion wasn't the pivotal element of it. It was simply a fact of facet that informs the lives of the characters as they go along for better or for worse, but informs their lives. So what else do you have to add to my list? Justin Dearing (26:57): Um, I'll, I'll say, yeah, to two examples. Uh, so basically what I would like to call the two space station series of, of the 90's, Babylon five and deep space 9. So, uh, um, jam JMS, uh, hu. And Ronald D Moore, I think they're, they're both atheists. I think JMS, you know, basically said, you know, I'm an aithi, you know, I'm an atheist, but I religion exists. And, you know, from like, I think episode two, like it was like all the species had to give to talk about their dominant religion and, and the, uh, and the, the, uh, earth did if he had them shake hands with the Orthodox rabbi in the Greek Orthodox and rabbi in the Catholic, I mean, the Greek Orthodox priest and the Protestant minister and the, the, the African whatever. Um, yeah. And it built onto the idea of like, uh, the human being, the people that brought diversity together. And, and that's how they went and, you know, uh, defeated, defeated the shadows, um, you know, it, you know, down, down, down or whatever. So I thought that was, you know, he did a lot of, uh, stuff that was, you know, he had a group of, of Catholic, uh, or they seem to, you know, Catholic brothers come on. And they, it seemed to be like how a monk shorter would, would evolve, um, where they had, you know, a certain mission. And, and they, they kind of, uh, you know, worked in a very Franciscan way of, of, of, uh, being, you know, they, they, they, they, they, they did work in exchange for lodging and things like that. Um, and I think, yeah, uh, deep space 9, I think, I, I think the, the whole wormhole, like the idea of exploring the idea of, well, what if we thought were gods, will there be people in, you know, they're, they just exist outside of time, uh, in, in this, in this wormhole. And then we have this kind of doubting Thomas, you know, guy who becomes their, their, their Emissary. And I think that, that, you know, dealt with it well, though, they're, they're, they're Pope uh, you know, they're, they're, they're, Pope being like she was upset that she never had her, uh, uh, divine, like experience, you know, she was upset like that. And she was also, you know, really evil, um, not, not, not because she didn't have, but, you know, she, she was, you know, they, they, I think they, if they dealt with, you know, uh, I think they, they dealt with stuff very well. You know, there was one episode where, uh, Kiko was the teacher. Um, and she was teaching about like, uh, basically, um, like, I guess she was teaching her like the earth go around the sun or whatever. And they're saying, we don't believe that because of, you know, the prophets taught us this, or what have you. And they had that actual debate between fundamentalists and, and non fundamentalists there. Leon Adato (29:08): Got it. Justin Dearing (29:10): Okay. So I I've got, I mean, I guess I can have several star Wars rants, but I have one in the religious aspect of, so did, did anyone have any idea that, that Jedi was supposed to be celibate until like halfway through episode two? Like if they, Leon Adato (29:22): Yeah no. Justin Dearing (29:22): If they like not even George Lucas, like, I think he was like writing the script and, but, um, and I think that was like, like one of the things, like, it's hard to, you know, talk about like, uh, you know, categorizing, um, the, the celibate or the Jedi as like a monk shorter or whatever, is it realistic or not realistic may, maybe a lot of it was like Buddhist. And you might have more to say in that, that Jason, if you have a thing it's like, um, you know, there's big thing about the celibacy, you know, if you're going to become a priest in the Catholic church, you know, there's, there's a lot of preparation talking about celibate, celicaby, Leon Adato (29:54): They don't just spring it on you. Like the day, the day before you take your vows, I was like, Oh, and by the way, Justin Dearing (30:00): And the last Bishop on earth living in the swamp would not forget to mention that to you. No, no. We were, luke went and had a family and, you know, the old Canon, you know? Leon Adato (30:10): Yeah. I got from, from the, okay. So, so fair warning. I, um, did see Phantom menace in the theater, and then I refuse to see anything else of the prequels. I actually frequently will not admit that they even existed. Um, so just take that for what it's worth. Uh, I did try to watch the, uh, second one. Yeah. I tried to watch the second one on mute while I was running on a treadmill without subtitles, and I still found it unwatchable. So that's just my own diatribe against the prequels. But my point being is that I got the sense of not being connected, that, that sort of almost Buddhist sense of not being attached to no thing, but I did. Right. Like, I didn't get the same sense that that meant celibacy. It just meant you, you have to make sure that you are ready, you are mature enough not to feel ownership or attachment to another person as much as to your, you know, lightsaber or your Starship or your Wookie or whatever. Um, yeah, I mean, the clone Wars does, you know, he's supposed to, like, they were afraid if he can become too attached to it. Uh, you know, Padawan, and, and, you know, you're going to be too attached to R2 and they're, they're, they're, they're definitely, uh, like what that there. And I, I guess in that regard, it's a good thing. I just, I just, like, I felt like there was a lot of interest distantly for me to formerly judge, um, star Wars, because it's, it's so inconsistent where I can say, you know, right. Leon Adato (31:49): I mean, Again, Sci-Fi story to Jason's point. Like there are parts that work and parts that don't work and, you know, yeah. Um, okay. I think, uh, we have talked to this one, not quite to death, but, but good enough for one episode, um, lightning round final words, any final thoughts or ideas? Um, Justin, I'll let you lead this one off. Justin Dearing (32:09): Okay. Sure. Uh, you know, I think this, this was a great conversation. I, I, I, I think, uh, thank you, Jason, for giving the, the, the Buddhist perspective. Uh, and, and I think, uh, you know, I think, yeah, I, I, I will echo your points about the creation, the creation, myths stories. Those are good. And, and that was probably the least tough, tough read part of the, the similar news. You know, it's kind of a very academic and tough reader as a Tolkien fan, you know, it's the hardest one of them all to read, you know? Leon Adato (32:39): Got it. Okay, Jason. Jason Carrier (32:42): Yeah. So I would love to talk about the concept of a helpful way of thinking. Uh, it's something that I took from DaVinci code books, uh, Dan, Dan Brown books, uh, there was a Buddhist character in the book that talked about a helpful way of thinking. Now she's a very scientific minded person, right? So she she's very much about, you know, physics and reality. And, uh, it doesn't care much for, uh, you know, winging angels, that type of thing. But she really liked the concept of, if you could look at, uh, Christianity and, and see something that was very helpful to you, uh, even if you don't think of it as literal truth, it can still be extremely helpful and impactful in your life. Uh, I applied the same thing to, you know, star Wars and as I'm watching, you know, religions in, in Sci-Fi, um, a lot of times they can give you a different perspective on a truth, even if it's not speaking to like an absolute truth, that's a pattern that can be a helpful way of thinking in your life. Leon Adato (33:32): Got it. So, uh, you know, you're not talking about actually recreating the Jedi religion. You're just saying that this thing that they do, even though it's a, from a fantasy environment is, is useful and applicable to our real world experiences. Jason Carrier (33:47): Exactly. Looking at it allegorically instead of literally. Leon Adato (33:50): All right. So I want to wrap it up in a completely different, uh, aspect I've already waxed, uh, annoyed on the whole star Wars universe thing. My final thought is that there's a, a certain moment in the TV series, Firefly, where river gets a hold of, um, books, uh, Booker book, Justin Dearing (34:09): separate books. Leon Adato (34:10): Yeah. He, his Bible and reorders it and says, you know, it was completely out of order. So I put it in the right order. And of course, you know, he's like, you completely ruined, it you messed it up! And she's like, but it was wrong. It was in the wrong, you know, the references and whatever. And I just want to wrap that character. I want to wrap river in a big hug, and I want to bring her into like a Yeshiva. And I want to show her the Talmud and say, here, go. Off you go, because that's the kind of mind the one that says, well, but your reference points, you know, that this came before that, and that comes before this. And if you did this and this and this, that, that is exactly the mindset of a good Yeshiva Bucher of a good learner. Somebody who is able to take information that is often presented out of order or in a different context and say, but wait a minute, you said this other thing, 4 books ago. What about that? That is exactly the kind of mind. And I just, that one moment, and of course books, you know, reaction of horror and you don't get religion and I'm thinking, no, no, no, she does. She does. She's perfect for it. You just need to, you know, and that didn't happen. So that would be my, that would be my change, my head Canon change to the Firefly universe. Uh, plus the fact that wash never died. That would also be my change. So, uh, all right. Well, I appreciate, uh, both of you taking some time out of your busy lives to talk today, and I hope that you won't be strangers on technically religious in the future. Justin Dearing (35:41): Thank you for inviting me. Thank you. Jason Carrier (35:44): Great. Thanks Leon. I really appreciate you having me. This has been a lot of fun. Leon Adato (35:47): 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.

Feb 23

36 min 1 sec

(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 Yechiel Kalmenson and Ben Keen, along with a voice new to Technically Religious listeners: Jason Carrier. Listen or read the transcript below: intro (00:03): (music) 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 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 opining with me today on the tech that helps us in our religious observances are, Yechiel Kalmenson. Yechiel Kalmenson (01:28): Hello again. Leon Adato (01:29): And Ben Keen. Ben Keen (01:30): Hello, everybody. Leon Adato (01:31): And Jason Carrier. Jason Carrier (01:33): Hey, thanks for having me. Leon Adato (01:34): All right. As we are want to do here at technically religious, we begin every episode with a bout of shameless self promotion, where everyone here can talk about whatever they're working on or whatever strikes your fancy. So Ben, how about you start us off? Who are you? What are you doing these days? And also it is required. Tell us your religious moral or ethical point of view. Ben Keen (01:56): Sure. Uh, my name is Ben Keen. I'm from, uh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I work for a large retailer as a senior systems administrator with a focus in monitoring, and monitoring, uh, engineering, uh, I'm on, the, uh, Instagrams and all that as the_Ben_Keen, you can also follow my, um, medical alert service dog at bolt_the_service_dog. Yes, that's a lot of underscores, Leon Adato (02:26): But the fact that your dog has an Instagram is just Ben Keen (02:28): Absolutely, uh, more than Medical, uh, more followers, the better trying to get awareness out there for, uh, veterans and people that require, uh, the service of these medical service dogs, which is awesome. Um, from a faith-based, uh, point of view, I am, uh, I deem myself as a Christian. Um, more so a non-denominational Christian. I don't say a Methodist or whatever, even though I grew up, um, as a preacher's kid within the United Methodist church, I kind of, uh, take on, uh, the different views of different religions and combined to make for myself. Leon Adato (03:00): Wonderful. Well, welcome back to the show next up, uh, Jason, how about you go next. Jason Carrier (03:06): Sure thing. So I'm Jason carrier. I'm uh, currently a product manager at SolarWinds. Uh, I have a real strong, uh, networking technology background and, uh, I also do some freelance on the side. Uh, you can find me on Twitter at network_carrier, uh, or my website, uh,, uh, B H O D And I consider myself a Buddhist, but just love studying philosophy in general. Leon Adato (03:29): Nice. Okay. Yechiel tell us about yourself. Yechiel Kalmenson (03:33): So, uh, I'm your Yechiel Kalmenson, uh, journeying out of New Jersey. I'm a engineer at VMware, excuse me. Uh, engineer at VMware, you can find me online, on the Twitters at yechielk. Or at my blog at, Or you can, uh, read my week. You can subscribe to my weekly newsletter or buy the book at Leon Adato (03:56): And you consider yourself to be? Yechiel Kalmenson (03:58): An Orthodox Jew. Leon Adato (03:59): Very good. Okay. And I had the fact that I had to prompt them on that is even better because I am Leon Adato. I am a head geek. Yes. That's actually my job title at SolarWinds. Also, uh, you can find me on the Twitters, which I say just to horrify Keith Townsend's daughter every time at Leon Adato. Uh, I also pontificate on things, both technical and religious at and I to consider myself to be an Orthodox Jew. And every once in a while, my rabbi lets me say it out loud in public. So this episode is, this episode is a little different than some of the stuff that we do, because it's really just a tech review that is cunningly disguised as a religious discussion. Um, we're talking about the tech that helps enhance or deepen or strengthen our connection to our, whether it's a faith or our moral point of view or ethical point of view, that kind of thing. So, um, really what we're talking about are the things that help us to be full religious people in the world around us. And because we're it, people it's got to have a tech angle to it. So um, Jason, I'm going to pick on you first. What are some things that you use in the process of your day or faith that helped make it better? Jason Carrier (05:12): Yeah, that's a great question. Um, so in, in Buddhism for people that aren't aware, there's this concept of the three jewels, so a Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, it's like the three places that you can kind of seek refuge when you're having issues or, you know, just struggling with something. So, uh, Buddha's kind of the teacher Dharma is the teaching and then Sangha is the community, your, your kind of spiritual group. Um, so, uh, the technology that I use, uh, uh, for, for, uh, kind of, uh, connecting with myself, uh, I'm a big fan of a guided meditation. And when I'm doing that, I really like having, uh, something that sort of like noise canceling headphones. So it sort of closes out the outside world and, uh, during guided meditations, I've really found that I appreciate the ones that are using, uh, binaural beats. Is that something you're familiar with? I have not tell us about it. Yeah. So, uh, binaural beats is like different frequencies that sort of affect your psychological state in interesting ways. And when you combine that with guided meditation and using, uh, you know, noise canceling headphones, you can kind of almost, uh, force yourself into a certain, um, emotional state, uh, just by listening to these tones. And, you know, since Buddhism is really focused on that and, uh, kind of, uh, getting that inner sense of peace and calm and that kind of thing, I find it really helpful. Leon Adato (06:27): Nice. Do you have a particular brand? We are not sponsored by anybody, so we can say whatever the hell we want to do you have a particular brand that you, uh, you like or you've discovered? Jason Carrier (06:38): Um, so Sennheiser speakers work really well, but I tend to buy the Bose ones cause I'm a little pampered, I guess. Leon Adato (06:48): Okay. All right. Say, you know, put it out there. It's good. Okay. Fantastic. Anything else? oh. Jason Carrier (06:52): I'm a fan of Radical candor if you couldn't tell? Yeah, Leon Adato (06:55): Yeah, no, I like it. So, uh, anything else for the review this, this time? Jason Carrier (07:00): Um, let's see. I also really, uh, find that, uh, just having the internet in general is something, I can't imagine how difficult it would be as someone who's trying to practice Buddhism in America, if the internet didn't exist, you know, because getting access to Vedic writings and then getting the translations to those would not be possible if it weren't for the internet. Leon Adato (07:19): I, I'm thinking back to the Dr. Strange movie where he says, I speak fluent, Google translate. So that's, that's immediately the quote that comes to mind. Um, yes, it's amazing how people were religious before, you know, the internet was invented, like how did they do that? So, but, but yeah, no, no, it, it has opened up a lot of avenues and a lot of access for a lot of folks as far as that goes. All right. Um, anything else? Jason Carrier (07:45): Um, that would be the, the biggest one, I guess the last thing I would just mention is, uh, with, with connecting to people, I found that, that, social media is extremely helpful. Um, I kind of expand, personally, I expand the, the concept of sangha to, to include whoever I decide rather than just my Buddhist community. It's whoever I decide fits in that bucket, but that's just, uh, my personal practice, I guess. Ben Keen (08:07): That could be a dangerous game. My friend. Jason Carrier (08:10): Aha. It keeps things interesting. That's for sure. Leon Adato (08:12): Right. Okay, awesome. So, uh, Yechiel, uh, you're, you're up? What, what kinds of stuff do you have that help you out? Yechiel Kalmenson (08:18): Sure. So, um, the number one app that I never leave anywhere without, um, is of course the app that controls the giant space laser. Jason Carrier (08:30): That had to come up. Absolutely had to come up. Yechiel Kalmenson (08:32): Obviously can't leave home without it. Leon Adato (08:36): Right. Well mostly because then you wouldn't know where not to go, I mean. Yechiel Kalmenson (08:40): Well, duh. Yeah. You know, it's really mess up your day when you end up in the middle of the forest fire, just because, you know, you forgot to,. Leon Adato (08:47): You forgot. Right. You know, and it's, it's kind of awkward when it's like, you know, your father-in-law who said, Oh, you were going There, my bad, my bad. Yeah, no. I get it. Yechiel Kalmenson (08:56): Um, but Yeah, so on serious note. Um, yeah. And of course in Judaism we do where the people of the book, um, we do a lot, a lot of learning, um, and I'm on a number of daily schedules, you know? Um, I have, for example, every day, um, Jews go through the Torah on an annual cycle every week we read another portion. So, um, everyday I try to read like a seventh of that portion called an Aliyah. Um, so I got, I finished the Torah portion of the week by the week. Um, there's also, um, for example, the books of the Rambam by Maimonides I'm on an annual cycle to finish through them. Um, I try to finish through Psalms, the Tehillim, um, on a monthly cycle. So, and my commute is obviously, uh, well back when we had commutes in the olden days. Um, so that was like the natural time to, to get these things done. Um, Leon Adato (09:53): That's true. Yechiel Kalmenson (09:53): And then like in the olden days that would involve taking like six, seven books at least. But now of course I have it on my smartphone. Um, I have an app that keeps a number of those schedules for me. And then those that aren't, for example, the Psalms is on its own its own app just because I like having it has another functionality so yeah, I have a number of apps that, uh, keep, keep my schedules for me and help me go through them on my commute, which is a great use of my time. Um, another thing is, you know, Jews have a lot of, uh, things around the calendar. Uh, there's Jewish holidays, Jewish observances. So I have a Hebrew calendar on my phone. It's called HeabCal, Leon Adato (10:39): Yup. Yechiel Kalmenson (10:39): And it's great, It integrates with Google calendar. So I set that as my default app in any, as my default calendar and any appointment, I have anything, you know, I just enter it there and I automatically can see if it falls out, you know, if the company, uh, holiday party will conveniently fall out on Hanukkah and then I don't have to go, Leon Adato (10:58): Which we've talked about in a past episode. I wouldn't. Yeah. How to avoid the company Christmas party. Yeah. Tips and tricks. Yechiel Kalmenson (11:06): Yep. Um, so that's for Jewish counter in addition, um, also like on a day to day, um, there's a lot of things that, um, depend on the time of day, for example, different prayers have to be set at different times. So I have an app called My Zmanim, which means in Hebrew my times, um, which lists the Halachic times, depending on your location, uh, depending on where it's, when the sunrise sunset is in your location, it'll tell you, for example, when is the latest time to do the morning prayer, or when you can start doing the afternoon prayer, et cetera. Leon Adato (11:36): Right. Yechiel Kalmenson (11:38): And last but not least is, um, my compass, which I do not use for camping because I haven't been camping in two decades at least. Um, but Jews face, uh, Jerusalem when they, when we pray. So, um, in America, we generally, in the olden days, we used to just generally approximate it to East, um, which is generally the direction of Jerusalem, but now I'm the, you know, every smartphone can have a compass app and have a special Halachic compasses show you precisely where Jerusalem is. So that is very convenient and very cool as well. Leon Adato (12:15): Right. And, and just to, to clarify it, because it'll give you the choice of like, what, what direction is East or what direction is the shortest path allowing for the curvature of the earth towards Jerusalem? Ben Keen (12:27): wait the earth, wait wait, Earth is curved. Wait, what? Leon Adato (12:30): Yeah, yeah. Sorry. Uh, just a little bit of news in case you missed it Ben Yechiel Kalmenson (12:35): Yeah, Jews believe the earth is round. One of the weird quirks We have Leon Adato (12:39): One of our stranger, well, it's also how we Yechiel Kalmenson (12:42): Make our calculations for the space laser easier. So, Leon Adato (12:44): Thank you, Oh, you got there just before I did. Right. Um, Yechiel Kalmenson (12:48): Sorry. Leon Adato (12:48): Uh no, that's okay. And, uh, I will also say that, which is the website that goes along with the heat Cal app is one of the first things I usually introduced to my non-Jewish friends when they're trying to figure out, like, can Leon work on this day? Or what? Like, what is it? It's a really accessible website that gives you a chance to understand, like when is sunset and, and what days matter, and things like that. It's, it's a pretty cool one. Um, all right. Uh, from our panel of experts, any questions or clarifications or anything you want to ask? Ben Keen (13:24): Not so much a question, but just, just one thing I would like to point out. Um, you know, Yechiel made an interesting comment about when we used to commute to work. You know, and obviously, you know, over the last year, uh, we've had to really augmentate how we, uh, how we do do things. Leon Adato (13:46): Uh huh. Ben Keen (13:46): And the one thing that I found interesting for myself anyway, is trying to find a new time to, to have that, whether it's meditation or time to read or time to listen, because you're right, like, you know, the commute 40 minutes, put a podcast on, drive down the road, get to your office. You're good. Uh, my commute now is 10 stairs. Leon Adato (14:07): Right. Ben Keen (14:07): From, you know, from my ground floor to my second floor. Not, not a good time, you know, not a lot of podcast listening time. So I think it's interesting how we've really started to take this new, uh, way of doing business and how, and finding our time for that. So the one question I would like to pose to Yechiel then is, you know, when, when is your time now? Like, you know, you lost your commute. So now when, when is your time, how are you making that work with everything? Yechiel Kalmenson (14:33): Yeah, so that was challenging. Um, in the beginning, I did indeed, um, fall, fall behind on a lot of my study schedules, um, before I managed to get back on the train, so to speak. Um, eventually I just, you know, work things out, you know, I've found other times that, you know, I rearranged my schedule and like now I do most of them, for example, in the evening, right after I finished putting the kids to bed. Um, some of it, I moved for example, to right after my morning prayers. So I'll just take a little longer on the prayers and I'll do my Tehillim, my Psalms at that time, for example. Um, but yeah, but you did bring an interesting point. Um, and that I used to my commute time was usually my unwind time. You know, I would finish work at 5, and I would get home at 6. Yechiel Kalmenson (15:16): And that hour was, you know, I didn't realize how crucial it was for my, wellbeing to, uh, unwind between the craziness of work and the craziness of supper and bedtime and, you know, putting the kids to sleep. So eventually I came up with an agreement with my wife where, um, I do take, I like about a half an hour after work, which I call my commute time. I just, you know, stay my office just wasting time doing whatever it is. And I still come home about a half an hour earlier than I used to in the pre days. So it works for everyone, Leon Adato (15:51): Right? I have heard lots of folks talk about that particular aspect. You know, that the, that the drive to work, the, the commute to work was a way where they were mentally ramping up, getting ready for the day running through their, You know, this is what I'm going to do today, or this is what I'm going to, you know, or just, you know, not everybody loves their job and just, you know, building up the, you know, the strength of the resolve that they need to get through whatever they're getting through. And then the same thing in the re, in the opposite, coming back. And, uh, one of the com, one of the comments that we got when we wrote a work from home guide at SolarWinds was, to still take your commute, to get up in the morning, get dressed, walk out the door, whether it was walk around the block, or walk up and down the street, or whatever it is, but leave to go to work and come back in the house. Leon Adato (16:44): But now you're at work. And at the end of the day to do the same thing in reverse that when you've, when you're done, you get up and you leave the house, you know, you leave the apartment house, you know, et cetera, and you go home. And then when you come home, that is, that is your transition. And I've heard from people that even though it is completely a trick that you're completely like, we, our brains are not, we're not stupid. We know we're not really leaving and we're not, but somehow that, that transitional aspect really does have an effect on us. Um, And it's, Yechiel Kalmenson (17:21): To be fair, our brains are stupid. Leon Adato (17:24): They're still a little meat sacks that can be fooled sometimes. That's true. So, Ben Keen (17:29): And I think, and I think a lot of that sorry to cut you off Leon, but I think a lot of that does circle around tech, you know, because as technical professionals or any, really any professional, but I'll speak from the tech, side of the house. Cause that's what I've been living for the last 20, some years of my life. You know, it's hard for me to turn things off. You know, we All we always carry these little pocket sized computers around, they call phones nowadays that we get emails and IMS and whatever, um, Leon Adato (17:59): yeah. Ben Keen (18:00): On them, you know, and what I, what I struggled with initially was trying to find time for myself, you know, whether it's to do faith-based activities, like read something or do whatever, or if it was just a simply breathe, you know, just kinda, you know, and, um, and I told my friends, like, you know, one of the things my wife and I were fortunate to do over the last few months, we actually bought our, we bought our first house together. Ben Keen (18:30): Hey, Ooh. Um, so. Leon Adato (18:32): Mazel Tov! Ben Keen (18:33): Yeah. Thank you. So the office I'm sitting in now is my dedicated office space. This is my domain, you know, and this is where, this is like my little happy space. My wife can decorate the rest of the house, do whatever she pretty much wants within reason. Um, but this is my little happy corner. And I told her like, you know, like this is where I'm comfortable. And, you know, I know it's not very techie, but at the same time, like when I'm going to do work, whether it's for my 9 to 5 paid job, or some of my, uh, you know, accidental techie, things that I find, you know, I think every person in tech finds themselves in amongst friends or an organization that we become their go to IT person. Right. Um, I don't do any of that outside of this room. Ben Keen (19:23): Like I won't take conference calls. I won't do this podcast outside of this room because this is my tech space. So I think it's really important for people to understand, you know, how you make those adjustments. And, you know, especially for someone that follows a very strict counter, like with my faith, I don't have, I don't have a set calendar. I dont have to pray by this time on this day, you know, like it's. Leon Adato (19:49): Right. Ben Keen (19:49): For me, it's wherever I am. I can pray right now. Like it doesn't really matter. Um, but it's interesting to hear how, how Yechiel has been going through that with his pretty stringent, uh, calendar and dates. Leon Adato (20:05): So it is, and again, part of this whole episode is the, you know, how we adapt things and also how we use, how we use technology to enhance that. Um, so I wanna, I want to continue with the Orthodox Jewish, uh, parade of tech. Uh, I have not been given access to the giant space laser, uh, yet, uh, my rabbi. Yechiel Kalmenson (20:29): You haven't been showing up to the meetings, obviously. Leon Adato (20:30): Well, no, my rabbi told me that it's the whole Sephardi thing. He's just very uncomfortable with, uh, Yechiel Kalmenson (20:36): You're right, you're right. Leon Adato (20:36): People who eat kitniout, having access to this space. Like this is a whole bunch of inside baseball jokes that like, you know, a 10th of the, of the listeners may get. So anyway, um, there are a couple of, of technical, uh, items that I did want to bring up for this episode. The first one is actually low tech. Um, one of the challenges that people in Judaism have, especially people who are maybe new to, uh, you know, deeper level of observance, is that before you eat anything, you have to say a blessing. Leon Adato (21:07): You know, the idea that if you don't say a blessing, you're, you know, you're stealing from the King that you're, you've, you snuck into the garden and you've grabbed this and you haven't said, thank you. So you want to say that, thank you. And there's a thank you that you say, but there's a blessing you say before you eat in a blessing, you say after you eat, but it depends on what kind of food it is. Is it bread? Is it bread like, but not really bread? Is it something that came from a tree? Is it something that came from the ground? Is it something that came from a repeatedly flowering bush? And so on and so on and so forth? There's a whole bunch of things. Like you'd think that bananas would be the tree blessing, but it's not because banana trees are actually bushes. Leon Adato (21:42): They're just really tall ones. So you have to say the bush, so it can get a little bit weird. And then sushi is the is the really the Widowmaker, like no one knows what blessing to say before sushi, because it's just everything. So anyway, there is, uh, a phone number, that you can text with the name of your food, and they will text you back. It's an automated system with the blessing you say, before you eat, and the blessing you say after it. So it's just a text system. You don't have to have the internet in your pocket. You don't have to, you just text. And, and it was something that obviously came up before smartphones were really a thing. Um, but I'm just, I'm tickled by it because it's such a, it is such a fundamental activity in a Jewish day, right? We eat. So we say blessings for the stuff that we eat, but it's also a point of deep confusion. You know, what do you say when you eat one piece of pizza, versus two pieces of pizza versus whatever, like these are the arguments and the debates that we have, and this text system arose to try to fill that gap. Jason Carrier (22:48): I'm curious how that would work on the other side. So is there a per, a person over there that's just waiting for these texts to come in and, you know, they have like a little prayer book and they're, you know, uh, figuring this out or is there a big database of all the different food items that have the prayers next to it? Leon Adato (23:02): That's it, it's, it is absolutely a technical system where it's a database and they're looking for keywords, and various misspellings, pizza with one Z, and so on. Um, because sometimes it's little kids, right? Like they're trying to do that. So, um, it's a whole database and then there's just, you know, the answers the answers are known. So it's not that hard. It's just that some people, again, sushi is the really hard one, but, you know, there's that, so that's the first one. And I just, again, I'm just tickled by it because it's so old and it's so old school, as far as it goes, the next one up is, um,, which is another website. There's an app for it also, but this has pretty much every single religious text in that, you know, if you're Jewish, you would probably be interested in seeing most of the time with translations. Leon Adato (23:52): It's got the old Testament it's got, uh, Psalms, it's got, you know, uh, the, all the Prophets it's got commentaries, it's got, um, just a ton of stuff. And if you, if you get a login, which is free, but you can actually annotate it yourself to say, well, what about this? What about that? And you can actually bring your own notes into it as you're learning it, or, you know, going through it or have your question about it. So Safaria, again, the translations make it really useful. And the other thing is that it is copy paste able. So when you're having a discussion with somebody and someone says, well, where did you read that? Half the time the hard part is, well, I have it on a book on a shelf, and I don't know how to give it to you now, like, do I take a picture with my phone and send it to you? Leon Adato (24:37): What do I do? But you can actually copy paste it and put it in an email or put it in a teams message, or whatever, and have your discussion or your conversation or your interaction that way. So it's really useful. It's a not-for-profit organization that started up a few years ago and it's just gone gangbusters. So I really, I really am enjoying it. And the last one is, um, the com, the organization, the, the publisher called ArtScroll, um, also known as rabbi scroll. Arthur scroll, sorry. Another inside joke. Anyway, um, ArtScroll, uh, has an app specifically for the Talmud and for not a lot of money, you can get an entire tractate of Talmud. Um, there's a bunch of them. I don't remember. 36 37. I don't know. It's, I'm sure Yechiel knows, but there's a number of tractate, tractates of Talmud, and you can get one. Leon Adato (25:33): And what it does is it will translate it for you. It will highlight, uh, which parts of the, of the thing you're reading are questions, which are answers, which are rebuttals, which are because, sometimes the hardest part of Talmud is understanding whether someone is arguing, or just clarifying, or asking a question or debating, like, what are you, what are you saying here? That is where you get lost down the rabbit hole, and this uses some color coding. Uh, it will also for those people who don't read Hebrew so well, it will add vowels. Uh, I know that doesn't sound like something, but Hebrew is not typically written with vowels. So those of us who are new learners for Hebrew find ourselves stuck half the time, because I don't know what this is doing, because it's just, again, No vowels. So I'm really lost. Um, it'll add those things. Leon Adato (26:24): And the Talmud is a very non-linear text there's comments that refer to something that's three books ahead, or five books behind, or a half comment from a app, appendix that was over here. It's all interconnected. And the app makes those as hyperlinks so that if you read something and it's, it's referring to something, 4 books behind you tap it, and it will take you 4 books behind. So you can see what that reference is before you keep going. So it's a really, really useful app. And, um, you know, as you build your library of, of things that you've purchased, it just becomes even that much more useful. So those are, those are the three that I wanted to bring out, uh, for at least this episode of our conversation. And I will, once again, open it up. Any questions or comments about those? Yechiel Kalmenson (27:19): I will just add that I'm a huge fan of Safari as well. Um, like I think it revolutionized the way, um, it pretty much put a whole Jewish library in your pocket, and it's just amazing. Like, my dad works in a publishing, like a, in a publishing house and his job is to add the footnotes, um, like Talmudic texts. A lot of times, like Jewish text. A lot of times I like reference passages from the Talmud, from the Bible, from Chasidic texts or whatever. So he's been doing this work like since, before I was born. So like way pre-internet, I have no idea how he did it. He's a genius. Um, but, um, but yeah, but app, an app, like Safaria pretty much, you know, in my head that's, you know, my dad in an app, cause like whenever I had a question about a text or something, I knew I could always call him. And like, unfortunately now I don't call him as often. So Leon Adato (28:18): You call him about personal things. Now you ask how he is not just, it's actually nicer. Cause this is like What! You can only call me when you don't remember a text now it's like, no, I only call you because I, you know, yeah, it's, there's especially in Judaism, but I think a lot of Faiths there is the comment, not the myth, but the comment about somebody who's memorized all of the Bible or all of this or all of that. And I think in this day and age we lose sight of what an achievement and, and also how normal, both what an achievement and how normal it was that people who had committed a set of texts to memory, weren't doing it as a parlor trick. They weren't doing it just to show off they were doing it because they wanted that text in their back pocket with them. And that was the only way to have it. So the, you know, and so they did that. And, and now Yechiel Kalmenson (29:15): I would say similar to how like the earlier, like the creators of Linux and the web and everything built, all these things with, like, they actually had to memorize, you know, programming syntax and things like that. And, you know, and knowing three languages was a huge deal because that meant you had to memorize three reference books, the size of Leon Adato (29:34): Right. Exactly. They actually knew how re, regular expressions worked. Like that's. Yechiel Kalmenson (29:38): yeah, Leon Adato (29:39): That's magic to me. I just, Ben Keen (29:41): Well ,I mean, if it's, if It speaks to anything of the time we live in, now, people can quote movies like that. Leon Adato (29:49): Uh huh. Ben Keen (29:51): You know, but then people, don't people, some people, and this is not a knock against them, but when you ask them, what is, you know, in the Christian faith, what is John 3:16 say. Leon Adato (30:00): Uh huh. Ben Keen (30:00): You know, if you look at any sort of like major league sports program, mainly baseball, you'll see people with the signs saying John 3:16. Leon Adato (30:13): Uh huh. Ben Keen (30:13): And I don't, you know, some people are like, what does that mean? Meanwhile, they can quote Verbatim, you know, episodes one through nine of star Wars, Leon Adato (30:22): Right! Ben Keen (30:22): Which, um, I'm with them on that. Right. You know, like I'm cool with that. But, you know, I think it really speaks to, um, the trend of, you know, what do we take, you know, because we have all these apps and websites and stuff like that. Ben Keen (30:35): Great tech, I think that's people have become less lenient or less yeah. Less relying on their own memory. You know, plus, you know, nowadays we have in a text-based let's face it. We have what? At least 13 passwords to know, just to log in the work, right. Because you've got two factor authentication, you've got biometrics, you know, all this stuff and you change one password and it changes everything across the board. So, you know, for me, it's a struggle sometimes like the doomsday for me is when my admin account, my personal account and my operations account all expire on the same day. Ben Keen (31:15): And they're all, they all, they all have different password complexities of like, you know, well, this password has to be at least like 12 characters. This one has at least be 25, you know, 14 different, special characters in this one, you know, it's just crazy. So when we pause and really think, you know, think about it in how much tech has pushed us to be remembrance of what does that say? You know, and break out the Google Fu you know, it's one of those things, especially at, you know, as parents in tech and, uh, those of us that are strong in our religion, we want to teach our children, our religious faith, you know, whatever it is. And so now having these fancy little computers, we call phones in our pocket. You know, if my kids ask me, well, Hey dad, what does this mean? Right. Well, let's find out together. Right. You know, it's no longer just, you know, dad regurgitating something that his Sunday school teacher may or may not told him while whipping his hand with a ruler. Leon Adato (32:11): Right. Ben Keen (32:12): Type of scenario. Leon Adato (32:13): Right. I, uh, Yeah, it does. Again, I think the technology really has the opportunity to enhance our, um, our experience of our faith or, you know, our ethical or moral point of view. I think it has a chance to, um, Ben, as you say, like, instead of just regurgitating our half remembered and half misremembered, thing, you know, we can, we can offer accurate information, whether it's to our kids or to coworkers or whatever. And when somebody says, well, I just don't understand, like, what does that mean? You can offer almost an impartial source, like here, read this, and if you have questions, we can talk about it, but you know, you don't just have to take my word for it also. Um, and I think that that really raises the level of discourse in a lot of ways. So, um, all right. So this was a good start to this ongoing, uh, series that we're going to be doing. Um, I'm going to drive it to the lightening round. Does anybody have any final words before we close it out? Ben Keen (33:14): One final word from me is simply, you know, leveraged to tech con. We were just talking about, if you have questions, whether it's your own faith or, you know, if you have questions about exactly what, w, what does Jason mean when he says, he says he's a Buddhist, or what does that mean? Leon Adato (33:28): Uh huh. Ben Keen (33:28): You know, is he, is he rubbing like the belly of some little fat guy squatting, or what is, you know, now you have the ability to leverage that tech and figure out exactly what Jason's faith is, because that might help you learn more about your coworkers. And, you know, when you can know something more about your coworker, that can, when you start talking about team projects, because let's face it, even though we're all working from home, we're still doing team projects. You can collaborate a lot easier because you understanding, you know, if I try to collaborate with you, Leon, you're like, ah, that's, that's a bad day. And that's, here's why, you know, it's, it's the Sabbath or whatever, um, observation it is within, within a Jewish calendar, at least now I know professionally, don't schedule any meetings with Leon. Leon Adato (34:13): Right. Ben Keen (34:13): You know, and I think that's one thing that we all ought to remember that the tech isn't just to learn our faith, but it's to help us learn about other people's faith. Leon Adato (34:19): So you're saying that LMG T F Y is for, uh, faith as well as, you know, how do I log into this? I like it exactly a hundred percent. Any other final words? Yechiel Kalmenson (34:32): Um, yeah, I this was, it was an interesting discussion. Um, and I find that often when we, the topic comes up of like, you know, technology that helps us with our religious practices. Um, and I've gotten questions from both sides of the spectrum, you know, both from like old timer, religious folks who are like, you know, how can you use technology to, for such sacred things in both from, you know, the secular perspective, like this is tech, you know, why are you bringing your religion into this? Um, so one of my favorite passages in the Talmud, it says that the world actually, when God created the world, he wasn't planning on putting gold in it, but then he decided to put gold. Um, so because he knew that the Jews would be building a temple for him in the desert, and they would be using gold to make the temple. So there, that's why he put golden to the world. In other words, the only reason why we have something as beautiful as gold in the world was because God wanted the Jews to, to serve him in the desert. And I think that can be that lesson could be taken for pretty much anything in the world. You know, especially all these advances that we Yechiel Kalmenson (35:38): Have these days, where from God's point of view, the only reason why he put them in the world where he put the potential for these things in the world is so that we can all serve him in our way, serve him and make the world a better place, help each other and help make the world better. Jason Carrier (35:55): I was actually gonna make a similar point to what you just made. There is a, just because something is new doesn't mean it doesn't have an intrinsic value and provide a new way for seeing the old. So, uh, I've learned a ton of about my own religion and the history of it through Wikipedia, you know, uh, the, that you can learn a ton using the internet. And so there's definitely intrinsic value to, to that. Uh, you don't need to necessarily do it the way that it was being done 2000 years ago, to get that, that benefit in your life, you know? Leon Adato (36:25): Right. Uh, and, uh, my, my final word will be as long as we don't lose sight of the fact that the old way is also still valid, that, that the new, the new way is certainly novel because that's what the word novel and new mean. But also, um, and it can be engaging because of its novelty, but at the same time, we can't lose sight. We can't think that the, the new and novel way is somehow better than the old way. It's merely a different way to interact with it. I think that a lot of people fall into the trap of thinking that we don't need this old way anymore because we have this new that no, no, no. The, the old thing exists still exists for an equally valid reason that hasn't gone away simply because you have, uh, the new one. And, you know, that's not me saying that, you know, as a 30 year it person, I'm not saying, you know, Hey, you got the huh, these new fangled things. They're not as good. No, I'm not. I'm not saying that. What I'm saying though, is that both are equally valid and both have their, their uses. All right. This has been an amazing conversation. I want, I appreciate everyone taking time out of their evening to show up. Um, thank you so much for being here. Yechiel Kalmenson (37:41): Thanks for having us. Jason Carrier (37:43): Yeah. Thanks for putting this together. Leon. Ben Keen (37:44): Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for putting this together and thanks for having us Leon, I appreciate it. Leon Adato (37:49): 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.      

Feb 16

38 min

What do you do when you’ve spent over a year posting a weekly commentary on how tech ideas and concepts relate to Jewish thought, and specifically the Torah reading for that week? You make a book, of course. That’s exactly how Torah && Tech came to be, and on this episode, I'll talk to the two authors, Rabbi/Programmers Ben Greenberg and Yechiel Kalmenson. 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 careers as IT professionals mash, or at least not conflict, with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Leon (00:53): What do you do when you've spent over a year posting a weekly commentary on how tech ideas and concepts relate to Jewish thought and specifically the Torah reading for that week? You make a book of course! And that's exactly how "Torah and Tech" came to be. And today on our podcast, we're going to talk about it. I'm Leon Adato. And the other voices you're going to hear on this episode are my partners in podcasting crime and the focus of today's episode. We've got Yechiel Kalmenson. Yechiel (01:18): Hello. Leon (01:19): and Ben Greenberg. Ben (01:20): Hello there. Leon (01:21): And you've both been on Technically Religious before. So you know how this works. We begin with shameless self promotion. So Ben kick it off. Tell us a little bit about you and where people can find out more of your glorious, good thinking and work. Ben (01:34): Okay. Shamelessly. So I'm Ben Greenberg and I'm a developer advocate at Vonage. And you can find me on twitter @rabbigreenberg and/or on my website at that's Greenberg with an E not a U and find me in general on the internet bank, Greenberg dev, dev dot two all over the place. Leon (01:54): And how do you identify religiously? Ben (01:55): Mostly identify as an Orthodox Jew. Leon (01:57): Yechiel you're next. Yechiel (01:58): Well, I'm a Yechiel Kalmenson again, um, I'm usually a software engineer at VMware currently taking family leave to be a full time dad. You can find me on Twitter @yehielk. You can find my blog and like Ben, I identify as an Orthodox Jew. Leon (02:15): Great. And just to circle around I'm Leon Adato, I'm a Head Geek at SolarWinds. Yes. That's my actual job title and SolarWinds is neither solar nor wind. It's a software vendor that makes monitoring stuff because naming things is apparently hard. You can find me on the Twitters as I like to say, because it horrifies my children @leonadato. You can also hear me pontificate about things, both technical and religious, on my blog And I also, for the trifecta, identify as an Orthodox Jew. And if you're scribbling any of this down, stop it, put your hands back on the steering wheel, pay attention to the road. Listen, because we're going to have these things in our show notes, along with all the other links and ideas that we're going to mention in the next little bit. So you don't have to write it down. We've done the writing for you. Um, now normally we dive into our topic, but because the topic is a book I'd like to go from shameless self promotion to shameless book promotion can one of you please tell me where people can get their hands on a copy of Torah && Tech. Yechiel (03:15): For sure. Well, you can buy the book at most retailers and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, nah Goodreads isn't a retailer. Um, pretty much anywhere where you can buy books. You can also read more about the book and about our newsletter on our website at that's Leon (03:35): So diving in, I think one of the first questions, a lot of folks who were working in tech or religion have is what does it take to make a book? Like, just talk about the process of getting this book together, getting it online, selling it, editing it all the, you know, how was that process for you? Ben (03:53): It takes a lot of sleepless nights right now, Yechiel (03:55): For sure. So in all fairness, unlike other books where you sit and write it, like this book is a little different, it's sort of, it's a compilation of the year's worth of weekly newsletters. So the sleepless nights were spread out over a year of Thursday nights. When you realize a 10 o'clock "gosh, I didn't do the newsletter yet." Ben (04:14): So there, there was two things that we did when we took, we decided, okay, we have this year of newsletter content. We want to turn into a book. There were two things that we did almost the exact same time. We took all the content of the year's newsletters and put into one big Google doc, which you can imagine, Leon, it's like a bit of a messy document. And then we did the second thing, which was, we direct messaged you on Twitter and said, "how do we make a book?!" Those are the two things that we did once we had those. Yechiel (04:41): Yeah, because while we're on this subject, I do want to give a shout out the idea to actually put this in the book, came to me when I was helping Leon work on his book. Uh, "The Four Questions Every Monitoring Engineer Asks", or I did a bunch of that. Um, yeah. So over a year ago, Leon asked me to help him edit a book, which turned out to be just reading and telling Leon how awesome it was. Leon (05:02): You are my rabbinic sensitivity reader, which I know it sounds like I'm making a joke, but it really was. I am not a rabbi. Um, I've never been to Yeshiva and I was writing a book that was at least 50% Judaic content. And I wanted to make sure that I wasn't talking out of my rearend sometimes. So I needed somebody who was like, yeah, no, see that idea there? No, that's not a thing. Yeah. Yechiel (05:23): But like I said, I ended up just rubber stamping it because it was pretty good as, as it was you know, I forced myself to put comments just to justify the money you actually paid me for it, but it was good. Anyway, Ben (05:36): You sound like a city rabbinic kosher supervisor in Israel. Leon (05:40): Oh gosh. Wow. And some of you will get that joke. Yechiel (05:47): With the exception that this book was actually kosher, but yeah, but working on that book and also hearing the Technically Religious episode where you spoke about that book gave me the idea that, Hey, should maybe put this into a book. And I, I reached out to Ben about the idea and he was all for it too. So when it was time to actually do it, when we got through a year, um, we reached out to Leon. And if anyone is thinking of writing a book, I think Leon might be able to squeeze you into his busy schedule. Ben (06:12): Not through volunteering your time. Leon (06:13): Yeah. Right. No, no. I am. I mean, people who have been listening to this podcast know that, um, we are here for you, whoever, whoever the we is and whoever the, you are, we are here for you. So if that is something you want to know, I'm happy to talk to you about the process. Um, but I'm curious, did you, did you get an editor involved? Ben (06:31): I had a little bit experience putting together a book before I, when I was in, uh, working in the congregational Jewish world, both on campus in the synagogue. I put together a book when I was on campus and a particular book in the congregational world. And they were both again self published. And, uh, and I did everything. I edited my own, uh, texts. I made my own graphic design. I put together the manuscript I, I did from A to Z and this time around, I didn't want to do that again because I know that I'm not a good editor of my own content. And I know from experience the mistakes that I find and unlike something in the digital space, it is much harder to edit a mistake once it's printed and in people's bookshelves. And it's much harder to put out a version 1.01, exactly bug fixes are harder in hardcover or paperback copies. Leon (07:26): Really difficult. Ben (07:27): It's very difficult. Leon (07:28): So patching becomes a very literal process. Ben (07:31): Very little process, like print it out, another piece of paper and tape it onto the book. Uh, so this time around, I really want to make sure that we had people with us who could help us, who were not so, uh, I wanna say privileged to the text or who read it at such privilege readers as the ones who write it, the people who look at it with a more critical eye. And so we did hire, uh, people, uh, to both edit all the texts, uh, spelling, grammar, flow, style. And we actually work with somebody who specifically was not our rabbinic supervisor, Leon, somebody who didn't have extensive Jewish background or experience. Coz one of the goals of the book for us is to be accessible to those without that background. And so every time she raised a question, "what is that? What is this? How do I understand that." It was a great moment to inflect and think about, well, how do we make that better? And how do we make that more accessible? And how do we make that more understandable? So that was a critical part of the work she brought to it as well. Um, yeah, so we, and then we hired somebody to help us with graphic design and somebody to help us with the type scripting, uh, type scripting type scripting? The manuscript type setting type scripting. My mind has been too much in typescripts recently. Type setting. Like type of this book, Leon (08:51): It's a strongly typed book. Ben (08:53): It's a very strongly typed. Yes, indeed. It's got a method signature for every chapter. Uh, that is a, that was a bit of the process. And then of course they, every one of them, I mean, were offered invaluable help. Right? I think that that's true. Right? Yechiel. They all, they've made the book turn from a big, huge Google doc with a year's worth of newsletter content into something that actually could be printed and made sense and looked and looks presentable. Leon (09:23): So again, for people listening, thinking, Oh wait, no, you know, I haven't thought about making a book, but maybe that's a thing. So we're talking about, um, first of all, doing the work of the work, right? Writing the book in this case, you divided the work into 52, easy to digest pieces. Um, and just wrote a little bit of the book every week. Um, I want to remind everybody that if you write 10,000 words a day, you'll have a book. And if you write 2000 words a day, you'll have a book. And you write 50 words a day, you will have a book. Please do not think that there is some minimum requirement of word generation before you can have a book. Um, I, I'm a big believer that people who, who do writing should understand how powerful it is and share it. So that's the first piece. The second piece though, is that once you've done the work of the work and you have the book, um, you got an outside editor in this case, you got a fresh set of eyes to look at this and say, this makes no sense to me whatsoever. Um, can you clean that up? And that was your Canary in the coal mine, so to speak and also graphic design, which, um, is I think again for a lot of us, it's like, well, what do you mean? I just want words on a page and there's a cover, there's, you know, you know, art inside the book always helps to illustrate a point. You know, how, how involved was the graphic designer for all that? Yechiel (10:43): Yeah. In our case, there's no graphics in the inside the book, there's no pictures or anything or diagrams. Um, so it was just for the cover, I think, no, unless you're referring to the type setting, Ben (10:51): It was just the cover. The type setting was separate. That was a separate person to help us with that. But that also, by the way, people often don't think about those sorts of things. Like what style do you want the words to come out as? What are the, each font choice reflects a different sort of, it's almost like an interior designer for a book, you know, like you're trying to think of what kind of vibe you want to send with the fonts you choose. And then double for us on top of that was while the book is entirely, mostly in English, there are a few snippets in, in Hebrew, which are translated on the spot. So if you don't understand Hebrew. You don't have to be stumped by that. But then at the same time, the what about font and type for a non-English characters. And how do you present that in a primarily English book. These sorts of questions, which I don't think I definitely, I didn't think about before we started engaging in it and ends up being really a crucial part of it. Because if the presentation, the book isn't worthwhile, if someone doesn't enjoy holding the book and wants to read the book, they're not going to read the book and then all your efforts are essentially for naught. Leon (12:04): Right? And, and I'll underscore another point is that, first of all, just the types need consistency that chapter headings have to look the same all throughout the book and they can't look the same as subheadings and they can't look the same as whatever they should be similar. Like you said, you know, good interior design means that, uh, you know, there's a theme that I know when I go from one room to another room, it doesn't feel jarring, but at the same time, I know I'm in a different place. I'm looking at different things, but also something that people don't think about is, uh, electronic publishing, that it's not just about the printed book. It's also when you're, when you're doing an E publishing, those font choices are critically important to the conversion, into an ebook that if you get it wrong things, things don't lay out correctly anymore because the epub generator, whether you're talking about, um, Amazon's Kindle, uh, or, uh, Smashwords meat grinder or whatever it is really needs those font choices to be the same all the way through the book to know what it's doing. So having a typesetter who's aware of that and who can catch those little mistakes, say, I will tell you, it saves hours because I did it myself for the book. And it was probably the most labor intensive part of the entire book that I did because I didn't know what I was doing. Ben (13:24): You would you say it's more labor intensive than the work of the work of actually writing the book? Leon (13:28): Yeah, it was, it was, it was more, it was more error prone. I had to go back and redo the conversion to the ebook probably almost a hundred times before I finally was able to find my butt with both hands and, and get it done. So yeah, it's, it's really a big deal. Okay. So what else about the book creating process, um, was interesting to you or exciting to you or frustrating to you or whatever? You know, what stands out? Yechiel (13:57): I guess I will say don't come in with the expectation of like making a million dollars off of it. Um, Leon (14:05): Only half a million. Yechiel (14:07): Okay. Especially if you're self publishing, it's not an expensive process at all. Um, I think we got it under about $500. If we make that back, that'll be nice if we make a little more, um, that'll be even nicer, but yeah, I don't see this. Uh, I don't see us quitting our day jobs anytime soon over this. Leon (14:27): Uh, and I will second that, uh, yeah, The Four Questions has not, in fact, uh, supplemented my income to the point where it can cover my mortgage or even Starbucks and a year and a half later, uh, yeah, a year and a half later, it still hasn't paid for itself. So I it's a labor of love. The next question I have for you though, is we've talked about right, because you really have something you have to say. So what was that you had to say, what is the thing that you couldn't live without having this book around to put it into the world? Ben (14:59): I think it, for me, it's the same thing that the driving force behind the weekly newsletter, which is really the impetus for the book and the foundation of the book, which actually Leon, if I can be as audacious is also a bit of what your podcast is about, which is that the world of technology, the industry that we're in, despite what many might think is not a value neutral conversation is not a value neutral industry at that, that there is a need to have value driven conversations and ethics driven conversations in the work that we do day in and day out. And the newsletter, which really was, as I said, the foundation of the book and the book itself is our attempt to really put out that message through the authentic voices for us, which is through our traditions, through the tradition of Torah, their tradition of Judaism, but it could be in anyone's authentic voice, the same kind of idea, which is to engage in that value driven conversation. Yechiel (16:01): And the corollary to that. I think in the other direction, you know, there are some, you know, some voices in the religious side that view technology as a threat or, you know, something to be avoided or at least, you know, severely limited. Um, I think it's important for people to realize that technology just like anything else in the world is a tool, a tool that can be used for bad, but can be used for good. And it can be used to, you know, some people may feel threatened a bit, but on the other hand, it can be used to promote values of goodness and kindness and justice. And that's another point that, uh, that and the Torah && Tech, the double ampersand, which implies that both are needed Torah, you know, tech without Torah or values in general, um, can go very dangerously. But also Torah without tech is missing a way of expression. Leon (16:53): Right? I think that that one of the most powerful lessons that's come out of this podcast and also as I've been reading the book is, is that two way street that if you can accept, so let's say you're coming from a religious point of view. If you can accept that, um, Torah has relevance to technology, you then must accept that technology has relevance to Torah. And if on the other hand, you're coming at this from a technical point of view, and you're just kind of curious about, you know, how could you make that relevant to, you know, religion? Like what is that all about? If you accept that that technology has incredible relevance to religion, it helps not only as a message spreading technology, but also as a, you know, this is how you collect data and this is how you validate things. And this is how you, you know, all of those wonderful things that we as IT people do. And you say, this is valid toward, uh, a religious tradition. Then you must accept that the religious tradition can reflect back. Ben (17:50): You know, I often think about the moment of the printing press and what the printing press did as a technology to traditional communities like our community, like the Jewish community, what it did to it was not only just a print books, it radicalized the availability and accessibility of knowledge across communities and people, regardless of station life, regardless of, uh, you know, where they started from had with effort could have the ability to find a book and get the education to open that book and have access to storehouse of knowledge. And of course it began as a trickle when the printing press began, right? Because the amount of books were small, but then as years went by and the, the availability of books can greater and greater, I'll give you a great example of this is if you go to a lot of, uh, older synagogues from several hundred years ago in medieval Europe, and they're still around in Poland and Ukraine and Russia, you often find that their, the walls are covered with the prayers. And the reason why they're covered with the prayers because no one had initially had access to books. And so they would come into synagogue and they would need to know the words of the liturgy to say. And the only way they knew what words to say was by like literally going into three 60, turning around in the synagogue to follow the walls of the, of the prayers that were covered in them. And then the printing press happens. And suddenly over a period of time, a revolution occurred in, uh, in a democratic visitation of knowledge. And you could say a similar thing is happening and it's happened and is currently still happening in technology of today and what it's doing and how can we not have that double ampersand conversation of how it's impacting both Torah and how Torah is being impacted by it and how the two of them are in conversation with each other. Leon (19:47): And I can't help but think about, uh, so it's, uh, what is it now? Is it still June? I dunno. It's like the 327th day of March, as far as I can tell it's, uh, it's yeah. It's June, um, June, 2020. And, uh, so, you know, COVID is a thing that's still happening. And the joke is that in January, every yeshiva in America, every yeshiva across the world would be tell families if you have a television it's, you know, if you have technology, it's really not okay. You need to keep technology completely out of the hands of your, our students. We don't want their, their minds sullied by this technology. And by the end of February, every yeshiva on the planet was like, okay, so you just jump on your internet and go to Chrome and go to Google meet so that you can have your chevroota. The pivot to technology was like instantaneous. It was just Ben (20:38): Wish it was instantaneous. So, and I'll give you an example from our, our own lives. Uh, when our kids were in Israel, we're doing a remote learning in their schools, which was neither remote nor learning, but an attempt at doing remote learning, uh, initially was very chaotic. And the reason why it was so chaotic was a while our kids go to a state, uh, religious, uh, public school. So it's in the more modern end of the religious spectrum. It's not an ultra Orthodox public school. It's a, what might call a modern Orthodox public school. All of the educators in the public school that teach Judaic subjects come from the other side of the road for us, literally in where we live. And the other side of the road is an it's a beautiful city with wonderful people called Modi'in Illit and or Kiryat Sefer, and Kiryat Sefer doesn't have WhatsApp, doesn't have zoom, doesn't have Google meets. And so suddenly they're being told by the misrad hachinuch by the ministry of education, that they must do these classes over a technology. They don't even know they don't have computers in their, in their homes. How are they supposed to do this yet? They did. And they learned how, and suddenly after a very chaotic period of time, we have, you know, essentially charidi, uh, morot, charidi... Ultra Orthodox educators going and conducting, with professionalism, with like suave and knowing how to run a Zoom meeting with 40 Israeli kids and not be chaotic. But how do you get from A to Z? That was a bit of a tumultuous period, but to watch that happen in real time was quite amazing. Leon (22:22): I think we're at the point where people hopefully are interested in, but I want to identify who is this book for? Like, I could see that as I was sketching out the notes for this conversation, I thought, well, maybe it's for programmers. You know, who happened to be Jewish? Who are Judaism curious? Uh, maybe it's just for credit, you know, you needed credibility on Twitter. So you could say author in your Twitter profile. On the other hand, I could also see you writing this book for religious people who happen to be in technology, or are tech curious, or maybe it's just for your spouse to say, look, honey, this is what I've been doing with my evenings. Like what, who is this book for specifically? Who's your target audience? Yechiel (23:00): I just want to start off off the bat because it probably has to be said, this book is not intended to try to convert anyone to try to proselytize. Judaism specifically does not have a tradition of trying to proselytize people. And we're pretty adamant about that. We do not, not only are we not trying to proselytize you, we do not want you. We believe that, you know, God accepts everyone. God puts everyone in the world for a reason. If everyone was the same, it would be boring. Ben (23:27): Except my next door neighbor. Yechiel (23:28): Your next door neighbor might have to change. Um, but, but yeah, so this book is not trying to convert anyone. It was just, uh, presenting one point of view of many. Um, who did we write a for? Uh, I'll admit we started off for ourselves. Um, like the project are in tech. The weekly newsletter started as just like a small project for me and Ben to keep in touch, then ran off from like we used to, we used to be coworkers. We worked together at our first job and then Ben ran off to Israel, but that was one friendship I wasn't willing to let go so quickly. So, um, we started this project as a small collaboration to help us keep in touch, which solidly grew. And as it grew organically, we discovered on our own who our audience was. And it seems like the answer is - there's no one single answer. I mean, obviously like you said, you know, programmers with their religion, with an interest in religion or ethical conversations and religious people with an interest in tech, but also people who are completely not religious. Um, people from all ends of the spectrum, people are not technical. People are not religious. We've gotten feedback from all of them. And it seems like pretty much anyone who's interested and who believes, like Ben said that tech is not a value neutral, uh, space. And who believes that values, that these conversations around values have to take place, is the intended audience for this book and for the newsletter. Ben (24:58): Yeah. You know, it's, it's interesting how this we're finding well, the newsletter cause the newsletter's been around for a lot longer. Right. So how are finding the newsletter has impacted people. And then, and then as a addition to that, or an addendum to that as the book has been published and people are now getting a chance to sort of read the book, how it's impacting people. And just this evening, a few minutes before we had our engaged in this wonderful conversation together, I had one of my regular chats with one of my sets of aunts and uncles who live out in the great Northwest of America, the great Pacific Northwest. And they are not, uh, the most engaged couple in traditional religious Jewish life. And by not the most engaged, I mean, not engaged at all. And, uh, they bought the book, uh, and I think, and I asked them and I was correct. It was the first time they ever bought a book on Amazon and the Torah category in their entire adult lives, or, you know, lives in general from Amazon or any bookstore before the world of Amazon. And, uh, you know, I told, I told my uncle, you know, the next step is you have to actually open the book after you buy the book. He said, okay, fine. I'll get there eventually. But you know, the, you know, the idea that, that people are thinking, this is an interesting subject. And so he's, you know, he's far from this field as one can be he's in the medical profession, but the, but this such technology, right, it's pervasive and it's something a lot of people think about and they get, they get hit with it from media sources, from the news, whether it's talking about facial recognition or about, uh, tracking, uh, contact tracing of coronavirus patients, our government's authorizing tracking patients through smartphones. It was just a lot of that conversation happening, particularly in this moment and this time. So this book is piquing that curiosity, I think of folks who are just kind of like, even if they're not in tech, but are curious about, you know, some of those larger questions that circulate that are integrated in the, in the world of technology. Leon (27:05): Right? And, and I think that we've gotten to a point where every new technology that comes in, a lot of people are having an automatic reaction of, "am I okay with this?" Not just, can I use this? Do I understand this? Because I think for most people they've gotten past, or they never were at a point where technology threatened them or made them feel uncomfortable. It was just a state of being it's on their phone, it's on their, whatever it is, it's a tech, right. And whether we're talking about Tik Tok or contact tracing or password management or whatever, um, or Facebook, the question isn't, how do I use this? The question is, am I okay with this? Right. And how do I use this? There are lots and lots and lots of guides out there for how do I do this, but am I okay with this? There's not a lot of guides that speak to, should I be okay with this? And it's not an, it's not an automatic yes or no for all of humanity. Right? You have to know who you are. You have to know where your, where you set your boundaries and that helps you identify, are you going to be the kind of person who's okay with it? Yechiel (28:17): For sure. And this conversation is actually what Torah && Tech is about. I like saying that we don't offer a lot of answers in Torah && Tech but we hope to start to start having you question, or we hope to start these conversations. I have had people asking these questions and discussing them and seeing for themselves, what are they okay with? What are they, you know, what values do they bring to their work? And you know, what type of people do they want to bring? What type of personalities do they want to bring to their, to their work, to their technology. Ben (28:47): Our chapters typically end with questioning back to the reader, asking the reader what they think. And we don't do that. Just rhetorically. We are also interested in what they actually genuinely think. And we want this to be a conversation. And it's actually, I think, part and parcel to our style and to the tradition that we come from, which is to answer a question with a question and to try and engage the person in. I'm not going to tell you what to think, because a there's a multiplicity of possibilities of how one could think about this, but I want you to come to what your approach to it. I want to come your answer. And I'm curious what you think. You know, just speaking personally, I'm really grateful that I work in a place where I have a manager who tolerates me answering every one of his questions with another question, and he never gets annoyed and he is not Jewish in any way, shape or form an amazing guy from England. And I think I'm the first person he's had to work with, who nonstop, only answers his questions with questions. And I'm grateful that he loves it. And we engage in this great discourse together. But we do the same thing in our book. We always leave readers with questions more than answers. Cause it's the, what was the, I forget exactly who, but there was a scientist who credited his, Speaker 3 (30:03): It yeah. Isador [Isaac] Rabi. He was a Nobel prize winning physicist. Ben (30:08): Leon you're just the font of knowledge. Leon (30:10): I've quoted him before. And he said, he said, I use this in a talk. I gave actually in Tel Aviv. Yechiel (30:15): In fact, you use it in your book as well. Leon (30:18): Uh Oh, it is in my book. That's right. He says, you know, um, more than anything, my mother made me, made me a scientist. Uh, he said that, you know, every other kid in Brooklyn would come home and their parents would say so, did you learn anything? My mother, no, not my mother not my mother. What did you ask any good questions today? Ben (30:34): I, I I've heard that quote so many times, and yet I still say to my kids, every time they get home, what'd you learn today? It's like, I can't absorb it. Leon (30:42): Right. You'll get there. Ben (30:44): They'll get there a Nobel prize because of me, because I didn't ask that question, Yechiel (30:47): They'll get it in their own rights. Leon (30:49): Right. They'll earn their own way. So, but that does lead me to an interesting question, which is, um, what are some of the comments that you've gotten back if you, if you end every post weekly post, and now every chapter in the book with a question, what are some of the interesting feedbacks that you pieces of feedback you've gotten over time? Anything that stands out in your mind? Yechiel (31:09): Actually, one conversation that was pretty interesting started in, uh, uh, in response to one of the issues of the newsletter that was put out. Um, this was actually like most newsletters. Like there's I know there are, Torah like we choose like a thought from the Parasha related to tech or current events or whatever it is. This one I decided to have just like a stream of thought, the stream of consciousness, um, about, about the culpability of AI, artificial intelligence, and specifically people who write it. Um, so let's say if I program and an artificial intelligence and it goes ahead and does some damage, how responsible am I for the actions of this program that I wrote? And I did it in the, like starting the style of a Talmudic discussion. Um, there wasn't much in the way of answers, just like raise different possibilities, um, look at, you know, why, why it would apply, why it wouldn't apply. Um, it was more of a stream of consciousness. I really hoped it made sense when I fired it off. Um, but actually that one was the one who got the most comments back. People like actually engaged in that conversation. And they're like, you know, people raised different possibilities, different analogies that I had missed. Um, it was a really enjoyable conversation, Leon (32:26): Probably about a year and a half ago. I had a conversation on a different podcast, um, the on-premise podcast, uh, which is part of gestalt IT, and there, again, there'll be links in the show notes. And, uh, the conversation was about bringing your whole self to work, whether or not it's okay. Whether there are certain things about ourselves that we should just leave at home, you know, as, as some people say, you know, you know, if you've, if you've got this thing going on, leave it on the door, leave it at the door. And we talked about whether that was even possible. Um, and for me being part of that conversation, the, you know, the elephant, the kippah wearing tsitsus draped elephant in the room was my Judaism. Like, can I leave my religion at the door? And what does that even look like? And at what point does, does keeping a lid on it means suppressing essential, important parts of myself, Ben, to your point, you know, it's part of our tradition to answer questions with questions that is part of the way that we analyze ideas. It's part of the way that we debate concepts. And of course in it, we do that. How much of that can I leave to the side before I stopped being me at all and become either offended or suppressed, not depressed, but although it could be that too. So I guess this is a two part question one, are you able to bring your whole selves to your job right now? Have you always been able to do that? And what was it like working on a project where that was so fully true that doing Torah && Tech allowed you to be every ounce of the programmers that you are, and also every ounce of the Jews that you are. So, you know, again, have you always been able to do that and what was it like working on this book? Ben (34:12): So I I'll start, I guess. And I think that, uh, to answer that question, it's kind of, to me, it feels like a bit of walking on a tightrope and, uh, I do make an effort to bring my whole self to my work. And in some ways I'm grateful for the unique circumstances that I'm in, which is that I happen to work in an international company with a very large R&D office in Israel. And so everyone in all the other offices across the company have become, acculturated to, uh, well, Israel and Jews are not one and the same. That is true. That's a very important statement to make. And Israeli Jews are not the same as Jews from other parts of the world. That's also true and there's a great diversity, but nonetheless, it is people who live in places where there are no Jews at all. So who become acculturated to working with Jews. And so that's helpful. And, you know, and not only just Jews, right, Leon, but also kippah wearing Jews, you know, observant Jews in the Tel Aviv office. And so they get to interact with them and they come and visit here in the pre pre days before the crurrent days, they would spend time with that and, and be attuned to the sensitivity of kosher restaurants, things like that. So that's part a and part B is yes, that's all true, but you also don't want to be harping on it all the time and you don't want it, You have to always be sensitive a little bit of being mixed up SIM like a little bit of like, uh, yes. Being there, but also pulling back a little bit and, and making sure you don't take up all the space in the room and it's all about you and your uniquenesses and sort of your, your unique needs and sort of your, your, your unique perspectives, because it might come as a surprise, you know, especially, you know, somethings depending on how great your feeling about yourself, other people are also unique and they also have unique perspectives and they also have unique place that they're coming from, and they also want to contribute those unique things. Right. And so like leaving some space, leaving some oxygen in the room and, you know, and again, not to stereotype, definitely not to stereotype or to generalize, but sometimes we, as a people can take up a lot of the air in the room and to, and to let others have some of the air to breathe and to speak as important. Leon (36:35): My coworkers who are listening to this podcast are probably nodding. So, so ferociously that they're going to get, put a Crick in their neck. They require a neck brace after they're done Yechiel (36:46): I'm in a different situation. Of course, I work in the States and New York, um, and having been on the receiving end of workplace proselytization. And like I said, Jews specifically do not like proselytizing. I try not to have specific religious conversations at work other than with the few other religious Jewish coworkers I have. Um, of course when it comes to like things that will affect my work, I'll have those conversations up front, you know, things like Shabbat or kosher lunches or things like that. So, you know, I'll definitely speak up. And actually there's a whole chapter in the book. Um, your guide to working with your observant coworker, which I had a lot of fun writing. I wrote it when I switched teams and had to have all those conversations over again and decided that it would be helpful for others. Um, but conversations around that go beyond that. It's like the kind of conversations that we have in Torah and tech that I try not to bring up at work as much as possible. And in that sense, like you said, the newsletter and then the book we're away for me to express that part of myself, which I really enjoyed, Ben (37:49): You know, there's a larger conversation to be had here as well, that sort of transcends the workplace. So I just recall a couple of incidents where, uh, on the speaking circuit in conferences, and you would get some guidelines about what to say what not to say, how to, how to speak in the most successful ways. And all the advice overwhelmingly was incredibly on point was incredibly helpful and I think was, uh, necessary to make sure the space was maximally, welcoming, and accessible to a diversity of people from all backgrounds... Except when it comes to people with religious sensibilities. And I would actually add to that religious slash cultural sensibilities because, you know, coming again, uh, from Israel, uh, there's things like, so one of the guidelines to concretize, what I'm saying, uh, from one conference in particular was trying if you make a mistake or you're trying to say something that you should avoid something, don't use the oft-repeated term of like, God forbid, God forbid you should do that because there might people in the room who don't believe in God, and that could offend them to say, God forbid. And so whether one is a religious or not in Israel, that is one of most common expressions amongst everyone in the country. Even if the die hard, most ardent atheists will say, God forbid, it just it's part of the lexicon. It's just part of the cultural sort of dichotomy. So you're trying to get maximum welcoming as possible, but in doing so, you're not thinking about, or you're not at all elevating as part of the consideration, those people who come from either religious backgrounds or come from countries that are not Western European countries and, and how to think about that, how to actually make space. And, you know, I heard this by the way, from a colleague of mine, a previous former colleague of mine who comes from very different backgrounds, you know, from a Muslim background and she's an amazing person. And she often talks about that as well, about how, yes, maximally diverse places means there's maximum diverse or Western Europeans and, and, and, you know, Northeastern Americans. And what about everyone else in the world? Like from North Africa or from the middle East, or from Asia who are not Western Europeans or North Eastern Americans and, you know, what do you, what do you do about that and how do you, and how do you, uh, raise up the diversity and the ability for all people to come to this space, even if they're not, um, German or French or British. Leon (40:16): So this has been an amazing conversation. There's a lot more, I think we can go into with everything hope. Uh, hopefully I'll have a chance to have you back and talk about specific chapters, but before we wrap up, uh, one more opportunity for shameless book promotion, where again, now that we've heard about it and we are champing at the bit, and we can't live another minute without this book in our lives, where can we find it? Yechiel (40:37): Um, so yeah, so, like I said, in the beginning, um, you can buy it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, uh, on your Kindle, on your Nook, on any, on most other retailers. Um, what I forgot the first time around was that if you do not live in North America or in a primarily English speaking country, a Book Repository, I'm told by Ben, is the go-to and it's on there too. Uh, we will have all those links in the show notes. Um, and of course you can also go to TorahandTech.Dev to order the book and also to sign up for the newsletter. So you can get a sneak preview of volume two, which will be coming out in about a half a year. Ben (41:13): Yes. Leon (41:14): Not only can you, you ought to, you should, Ben (41:17): You're encouraged to, and you get a You can find, uh, the table of contents. So you get a sense what's in the book and on Amazon and the other retailers you'll find sample chapters as well. So you can really get a fuller idea of what it's like. And that website as Yechiel mentioned his Book Depository, which if you're living anywhere in the world where English books are harder to come by, it's a great place to go to get your English books. You might not get them for a few months, but you can order them. And eventually they get shipped to you. Josh (41:50): Thanks for making time for us this week, to hear more of Technically Religious, visit our website,, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect with us on social media. Leon (42:04): Ugh! We still need a tagline for this episode. Ben (42:06): Can we just go with "Buy our Book? Yechiel (42:08): I guess that works for me.

Jul 2020

42 min 9 sec

Religion has a lot to say about modesty - from clothing to behavior to even thoughts. Much of it is misunderstood from the outside perspective. The concept central to the idea of "modesty" is one of boundaries. In tech, we also have to set boundaries: from who has access to certain types of data to what "work hours" mean to which deliverables are in or out of scope to the tasks are considered part of our regular job.  In this episode, we'll hear from an entirely new set of voices: Alex Navarro, Faria Akram, and Yum Darling - who will explore the nature of those limitations and how our religious/moral/ethical POV can inform our tech life - and vice versa. 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 careers it professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Alex (00:53): Religion has a lot to say about modesty from clothing to behavior to even thoughts. Much of it is misunderstood from the outside perspective. The concept central to the idea of modesty is one of boundaries. In tech, we also have to set boundaries; from who has access to certain types of data, to what work hours mean, to which deliverables are in or out of scope to the tasks are considered part of our regular job. In this episode we'll explore the nature of those limitations and how our religious, moral, ethical point of view can inform our tech life and vice versa. I'm Alex Navarro and the other voices you're going to hear on this episode are my guests. Faria Akram. Faria (01:38): Hi, Alex (01:39): and Yum Darling. Yum (01:40): Hello. Alex (01:41): Thank you ladies. Alex (01:43): All right. So if you are new to the podcast, we start each episode with a moment for everyone to be able to introduce themselves, have a shameless plug, or basically engage with you in some other form. Uh, so Faria why don't you go first? Faria (01:57): Hi, I'm Faria. I'm a mental health advocate, storyteller, dancer, and cohost of a podcast called vulnerable views. You can keep up with what I'm doing in all those areas on my instagram @followingfaria and my website in terms of religion, I was raised as a Muslim and still identify as such. Alex (02:15): and Yum. Yum (02:16): Okay. Uh, my name is Yum Darling. I am a community manager by day and by night, which is very long. I am a mom to two children. Um, which is why I'm hiding today at my parents' house so that you don't have to hear it. My dog, my cats, my children, and my husband yelled at me all at the same time. I don't really do as much on social media, so don't bother following me. I was born in Israel. So culturally I'm Jewish and I have gone to Jewish schools pretty much my entire life. So that is where the bulk of my, um, religious education is. But, um, spiritually and religiously, you know, I just like learning about religions. So I have a little bit of Buddhist knowledge, which isn't really religion if you're but whatever. And Judaism paganism. So ask why I will be happy to, you know, answer your questions. Alex (03:06): And just to round out today's podcast, my name is Alex Nevaro. Again, I am the founder of a creative agency called running their production house. You can find us on Instagram at that same handle. You can also find us on our website, which is that same name or any of your production And I was actually raised as a Catholic by a Catholic mother and a father who was a Jehovah's witness at the time. I didn't stay that way. We'll probably get into that later on in podcasts, but now I identify as a nondenominational Christian. So if you were not able to keep up with those amazingly, uh, short introductions, relax. It's okay. We're going to have everything posted in the show notes for you so you can just sit back and enjoy the conversation and let the amazing ideas flow over you. So, moving on to our first topic of discussion, when you hear the word modesty, what ideas or reactions does that conjure up for you in a religious context? Faria (04:08): So when I heard the word modesty, one thing that comes to mind in a religious context is a story of the prophet Muhammad. Peace be upon him. Um, and to those who know the story better than I do, I might mess up some details, I apologize. Uh, but there's a story that he was traveling with another man and they saw a woman who was quote unquote immodestly dressed in some sort of way, right? Um, but the prophet, instead of telling the woman, you know, Oh, you shouldn't be wearing that, or you need to change or whatever. Um, because his friend was just staring at the woman, he, I think took his hand and like moved his friend's face or covered his eyes, um, or averted his gaze in some sort of way. And that's always struck me as really powerful. Cause I think a lot of times when I hear the word modesty, even absent from religion, it's talked a lot about women and what they should or should not be doing. Um, so that story when I heard it as a kid always really, uh, struck a chord with me because it just reminded me that it's modesty is so much more than clothing, right? Which I think we'll talk about as well, but it's also on men to be modest and to do their part on all people. Yum (05:16): It's pretty much the same in Judaism. Um, modesty is, uh, how, how did an old friend put it? Uh, it's about women being a team player. And the whole, the whole interaction between men and women and modesty is that modesty equals privacy. Snoot or modesty and Hebrew is about how much you respect herself and how private you would like to be. So it really is the woman, the woman's decision. Now, of course, there are guidelines, if you will, if you would like to, how you could, you could dress modestly. Um, and everyone will have a different opinion on that. I'm sure we'll get into that later. But um, yes, pretty much, pretty much the same story there as Faria. You know, we, we tell our our men, if you don't want to pray in front of this woman who is distracting you, um, go somewhere else. Alex (06:10): Well, it's, it's interesting that when we hear the word modesty, it seems like the first thing that comes to mind is, is how we dress or how others are dressed. And that's definitely something that was drilled into my mentality when I was growing up as a Catholic because there are definitely certain rules that you had to abide by when you were entering into the house of God. And so that I feel like what people can relate to whether they were brought up in that religion or not. But um, it's an interesting concept also when we're talking about the workplace because we're talking about modesty. A lot of people sometimes associate that with not being braggadocious. But if you're a woman in the workplace, particularly in the tech industry and the workplace, could it sometimes be a disadvantage for you because you are quote unquote being too modest and you're not speaking up for yourself. Whether it be something like a good idea that you have in a large group meeting or speaking up about a great accomplishment that you've done for the organization. Yum (07:12): Sometimes modesty is um, equated with humility and submission and women that are um, more covered up or more modest or even just more quiet are seen as more submissive at home in the workplace, in their religion. And yeah, it can definitely work against you. Women that are that way sometimes get put in that bucket at work, whether people don't listen to them as much or don't take their voices seriously or um, don't give them the opportunity to say something. Sometimes you have to pause and let someone who might not be as loud as you are, come forth and say something meaningful from their perspective. And a lot of time we tend to take people who are more modest, a step next to us and just put them in that bucket of silence and submission and oppression and, and their views kind of go away. And that's sad in religion and in life and in the workplace, Alex (08:10): I think it's really easy for people to get an impression of you before you open your mouth. Right? So what are they going to go off of? They're going to go off of how we look and a lot of times for women, how we're dressed, how much we're covered up, how much makeup we have on, you know, if we decided to do our hair that day or night. I mean there's just, there's so many ways for people to sort of misinterpret who we are as a person. And I feel like if we're not mindful of how quote unquote modest we are in the workplace, then are we sort of doing that to ourselves. And then I also think there's a very fine line of that level of modesty because very easily, like you mentioned, young, if we're just naturally loud and we naturally just have this sort of emphatic tone, all too often it can be misinterpreted in a negative way. And I feel like that is something that is very specific to women. So what do we do? Do we need to be less modest? Faria (09:20): Heck no. Yum (09:23): Um, I do think there's this, there's a place for women to stand up for other women in this context. Um, I definitely think men allies are awesome, but sometimes that permission from a man to speak is just really patronizing. Um, so what, what I would say is if you work with a woman who is more modest or even a woman who is on the opposite and is loud and vivacious and does not dress modestly, um, perhaps bringing their voice into a conversation or just pausing and letting them speak. Um, and as a woman, of course, definitely inviting those women to the conversation and into outside life as well, especially in the tech industry. I find you make really close friendships and you, you do things outside of work and sometimes the women who are seen as more religious, I am doing air quotes, uh, are, aren't invited because they're seen as, they would not enjoy this simply because of the way they dress and what we think their religion is. Alex (10:22): That's a very good point. I completely agree with that and I feel like that's something that probably both men and women are, are guilty of. Take the time, I guess take the time to get to know someone instead of sort of making an assumption based on how they look or how they appear. So. Okay. Do you, do either of you kind of find yourselves being mindful of this in your own workplace? You know, especially when we're talking about, you know, in the world of it, is there a balance that you try to find for yourself that you're trying to create when it comes to being modest, whether it's, you know, how you're dressed or just, you know, how you are being interpreted by others in the workplace. Faria (10:59): I don't think I really take that into consideration to be honest. Yes. I had a great conversation this week where someone told me I should enter every room with the confidence of a white man. And so that's something I'm working on that thing. Alex (11:16): Oh my g... that is gold. that needs to be on bumper stickers. I want a tshirt that says that. Faria (11:31): Yeah, no, it was very eyeopening. Right. And I think, and we can have probably a whole nother podcast episode on just confidence in itself. Um, you know, right. But I think it relates to modesty, to your point of how you carry yourself. Right. Um, and going back to actually Yum when you were talking about, you know, someone who's loud and vivacious and who, uh, dresses less modesty though modestly, that was interesting to, because I think I know a lot in a lot of loud and vivacious people. So I come, I come from a more conservative Muslim background. My family is pretty conservative Muslims. And I was raised in a small town in a small Muslim community that was pretty conservative. Uh, but I know a lot of loud, vivacious Muslim women who are like that with their personality. But then in terms of dress, they wear the hijab, which is the head covering or the niqab, which covers everything but your eyes. So it's funny cause it's like there. What would you be defining Montessori as, right. So as someone who is more of a voracious, who is more loud and more outgoing, I try to be more quiet and listen to other people I'm working on not interrupting others has been something I've been really trying, actively trying to work on. Because by nature I love talking and I will talk over other people. Um, which is not the right thing to do. So giving others a space to converse and also active listening. So not, I'll admit it, I did the listening where it's like, okay, I'm listening to you because I'm waiting for you to finish. So I can say what I have to say. Cause I have three thoughts in my head right now, but active listening, of holding a space for this person to communicate with my full attention because that is what they deserve. Alex (13:07): So, okay. What about,you know, this kind of is making me thinking about just kind of how I was supposed to or not supposed to, I guess maybe how it was expected to behave when I was, you know, at Sunday school or when I was at mass or you know, when I was even, let's say around a certain group of people that maybe only interacted with me when we were at, you know, church gatherings. Um, I feel like for me personally, it was a certain Alex that people interacted with when I was at Catholic functions and at Catholic mass and so on and so forth versus the openness I guess that I found when I started going to Bible groups and Bible studies and, um, functions for the nondenominational church, which for me, that journey started happening when I was in college. And I don't know if you know, that is a Testament to those two religions or if it was just my experience personally, but I definitely would say that I felt like I had to be a certain level of modest when I was being brought up in the Catholic faith versus when I switched over to being nondenominational. Christian. Did either of you have some kind of experience similar to that? Faria (14:28): I feel like I kind of did. Um, so yeah, I grew up coming from a more conservative Muslim background I think. And I know not only am I less modest when it comes to talking a lot, but also in, um, kind of my habits of dress. So I was the first woman in my immediate family who did not wear the hijab, the head covering, um, every, almost everyone I knew more for at least some period of time. Some took it off. Um, so from just the very get go, um, it wasn't something I wanted to partake in. And I'm more the type of person who it's hot outside, like I'm gonna wear short sleeves instead of committing to something like that. Um, that's not saying anything about me as a person, good or bad. That's not saying anything about people who choose to dress that way. It's just, I noticed very early on I was different in a sense. So yeah, the Faria that went to the mosque, uh, obviously I wore a hijab there. I covered my hair cause it was a place of God. Uh, I interacted a little differently because, uh, it, it was, it just was a little bit more of a conservative setting and toned down my mannerisms. You know, a lot of it was for Sunday school, so you can't get all my monks just there. I mean you can, but that's how you get Sunday school detention. Your parents aren't happy. Um, so yeah, it was in college actually because I was in the same town for the first 18 years of my life, which I didn't. I thought that was everyone's normal. And then I realized it wasn't, I went to a bigger university with more people and um, not just more people and more Muslims, but a more diverse group of Muslims too. So my family is Pakistani. Um, so I met Muslims from all different kinds of countries and who, you know, different, um, sects too. My family is Sunni Muslim. Um, and I didn't even know about some of the sex cause there wasn't that, uh, open-mindedness I feel like taught to me and my faith journey growing up. And that's where I really kind of started to see how there are so many different levels and how you can be modest in so many different ways. And that's something I started gravitating to. I started to lean more towards, I don't have to cover every inch of my skin to be modest. And that became my personal choice. Yum (16:34): Confession time, baby. I'm only went to shool slash synagogue, slash tempo, whatever you wanna call it. Um, for school purposes. My parents lived and I obviously, um, our family lived on a little Hilltop in Israel, in the North of Israel, just South of Lebanon, surrounded by other little Hilltop villages, um, surrounded by, um, hilltops of Arab villages. And I went to school with, um, most of the people in the surrounding areas. And the schools in Israel are Jewish. It's a Jewish state. And we do, you know, celebrate every, every, uh, Friday. I almost said Yoshi, but that would not make sense to most of your listeners. So every Friday we would have a couple of Shabbat at school where you would welcome a Shabbat. We welcome, um, the day of rest Saturday for Jews. Um, and that was my normal at school, at home. Never ever, ever. My mom, I don't, I love my mom dearly and if you're listening, I'm sorry, but she, um, she doesn't cook much or at all. She is a grandma now, but not your stereotypical Jewish grandma because I make all the chicken soup. So we, I had a very different upbringing, what you would call a religious Jew. I would, I was more of a, of a secular Jew with a lot of Jewish history. But my understanding of modesty, um, came so much later, like way into college. You guys like were into college. I went to NC state, go Wolfpack and um, we had this NC state is made up of red bricks. They signed this, I don't know if actually this is a rumor, maybe someone out there can validate, but uh, apparently they signed a contract and got a lot of their bricks for super cheap because they bought so friggin many. Um, so the entire campus is RedBrick including the well known brick yard, which is, you know, made a brick and very slippery in the winter or when it's raining, which is, you know, full time in North Carolina and you can't walk without slipping. So you have to be real careful what you wear because when you slip on brick, it's not just going down, you're going down, legs up. And we had the lovely Brickyard preacher who used to stand on his little, I don't know what it's called, a box. Um, I'm sure there's another name for it. It was, it's, it's just a little, it's a cute little box with a little, um, podium. And he used to yell at people walking by about, um, the, how much they are sitting and where he thinks they should go and isn't it lovely? Great. I feel like I feel like they're pretty universal. And I was walking by wearing my normal young clothes, um, which at the time was probably like gym shorts and a tee shirt on my way to biology class, thinking about what I'm going to dissect today. And he like yells at me when I walked past whore and I'm just like, I'm 18, I don't know what you're talking about. Oh no, you guys, that was, it was hurtful. I don't, I w you know, totally not what I was expecting. Of course it was raining that day and I slipped and fell legs up right in front of him. Luckily there were, there were some very burly, um, football players that were walking right behind me who like pulled me up and started walking me away. And there's two things you should probably know about me. One is I can control my temper and two is I have no filter. So, um, something like this could be really bad for all parties. So thank you. Burly football man that I never met again for, um, you know, probably rescuing me from being arrested. Um, but yeah, Brickyard preacher dude taught me about modesty and taught me about how modesty sometimes is in the eye of the beholder and sometimes it's in the eye of the be the bearer, if you will. Yeah. So, so that was really an eye opener for me. Alex (20:40): That's really interesting. I think maybe you bring up about, you know, when, when we're talking about modesty in terms of our appearance and more specifically what we're wearing or not wearing. You know, that's an interesting question is it's the person's responsibility who is wearing the clothing or is it the person's responsibility? Who is Ewing the clothing? And then, you know, to take that a step further, if we're going back to the story that Aria shared earlier about, you know, sort of averting your eyes, if you will. Um, and I'm going to attempt to say this correctly, so young helped me if I, if I bought this, but when it comes to the ha ha that says, thank you that says don't pray in front of an in, modestly dressed woman and we have to divine define those terms. Right? So is it, are those terms in the IBD holder or the terms in, you know, the person who's wearing the clothing and then to take that even further, maybe go cry somewhere else? Faria (21:38): Um, yeah, so I think I'll go, I don't know too much about Judaism, so not speaking to these specific rules or trying to offend anyone. But when you say that Alex actually reminds me of my favorite Bollywood movie or one of my favorite Bollywood movies, there's a line where, um, the, the lead actress or whatever is talking to her sister and she's like, why did you wear that to the tumble? Everyone at the temple was staring at you and her sister's like, well, if everybody in the temple was staring at me instead of God, that's their problem, not mine. Um, and I was just like, yes, cause I love that scene. Um, and I recognize that not everybody has an opinion. Uh, but I do, I, you know, with that, I think it opened up that I lean more towards, it's, uh, on the responsibility of not the person who is dressing her appearing that way. But the other, because I think yes, modesty is, is very, can be very physical, right, in terms of dress, in terms of makeup, things like that. But my take is you don't know that person's intention behind it. Right? Like I, my mother, I think the first time Yama was really bonding with your story because, um, I mean, I love my mother a lot more than I'm sure you'd like that preacher, but she called me like a whore once I was 16 and I wore red lipstick for the first time and she said, uh, she said I looked like a streetwalker. Uh, but she said it in ODU, so to add some color to this podcast, her exact words were [inaudible], which means you look like a woman of the night, which meant hooker. And I was like, thanks mom. I'm 16 and you and dad said I could wear this and now that I've worn it, you're mad. I'm so sorry. Alex (23:09): Insult. Faria (23:10): Yeah, I know. Yeah. She was like, why do you look at woman on the street? I was like, I didn't even know what meant like hooker. Like that part came later. By the way, I was like, I am a woman and we're about to start one of the night. Yeah. I was like, I am a woman and it's night and we are about to go somewhere. Like it didn't click till later bless my baby Faria heart. Um, cause I was like, where are you mad? Yeah, man. I'm just like, it's fine. It's fine. I was like, wait, but she seems upset. So I lean more to the side. That is, it's the responsibility of the person who is seeing or witnessing any other type of dress or the person who is dressing quote unquote modestly or modestly. Because I think intention plays a big role in that. And we don't know people's intentions, right? We don't know what's going on in their head, but what we do know is ours, our thoughts and feelings and what we can control is our actions and how we choose to react or handle a situation that we feel is in modest or too modest or however you'd put it. Yum (24:05): I'm just going to say that once I was the, the on the side of the be-wearer, it is in the eye of the bearer. What he or she thinks is modest. Um, but I think I've switched to the camp of both. Alex (24:18): Oh, interesting. Yum (24:19): Yes. And it's been a very recent switch you guys because of this very last 2020 Superbowl that I have switched. Alex (24:29): Are you referencing J-Lo and Shakira? Yum (24:32): I am. In fact, yes. First of all, let me preface this by saying that I have a huge amount of respect for them and for Adam Levine who was, you know, the year before shirtless, the energy that my Facebook stream had that night and probably for a week afterwards commenting on what they were wearing, how they were dancing, what they were doing, what they were saying really kind of struck me as, you know, it doesn't really matter what they were thinking they were wearing. Everybody else is hating on them except for not because those women are in their forties and fifties and they look better than I do right now. So really I wasn't hitting on you, Shakira and J-Lo. I love you and just going to share a little tidbit with you. Part of my fitness routine is pole fitness. So seeing J-Lo up on that pole is like my life's goal. Really? Yeah. Do you see her in hustlers? I did. In fact here in hustlers, I've done one of my classes before. It is not easy girl. It is what got me in shape after two babies. Um, the core strength that it takes and the arm strength and the back strength don't even get me started. This is way, way, way, not what we were talking about before this podcast. I asked, um, my mom's group who are very varied in their beliefs and in their personalities and I respect all of them a whole lot. What they thought about modesty in general because we did have a thread talking about whether we covered our children's eyes during the halftime show and kind of what we landed on was, you know, what was really to blame was camera angles. And I'm going to bet that the person behind the camera who's deciding where the camera's going to go and what it's going to look like was not a woman. So at the end of the day, at the end of the day when they're saying, well she shouldn't have jello, shouldn't have done that. Like widespread slide. Excuse me, how are you going to slide without whites, without like widespread legs? People who have never tried to slide are saying this, but people who are saying that because, Oh my gosh, the camera was right there. Who put the camera right there? Ladies and gentlemen, not the ladies. So I think, I think there is a something to be said for the people who are watching to bring it back to Israel. There was a situation in the military where um, Israel wanted religious men to serve in the military and Israel. Everyone at 18 serves and religious men often get exempt to go study. And Israel said, nah, actually you're going to go in and be part of part of the military. You're going to serve as well for your three years. And they said, we can't serve or we can't. So they have their, they have, um, the more religious men have their own little, um, segment in the Israeli military. So we do try to accommodate. But they said they couldn't come to a, uh, event because there was a choir at the beginning and that had women in it who were wearing skirts that did not reach their knees and that would, that would give them inappropriate thoughts and they therefore they could not go and then they wanted to get out of the military altogether. Pretty much what I'm saying here is I do think that it, I think sometimes it gets mangled, but it is both who is wearing it and what we feel about it and whether we feel modest in what we're wearing versus what, um, Faria you can look at me when, you know, when we're together in a room and be like, Holy crap, that shirt is a low cut and that's, you know, your prerogative and I can't stop you from thinking that. And it's fine if you think that I'm still gonna wear the shirt. Alex (27:51): So taking, taking this concept back into the workplace, if we're talking about let's say the it version of modesty, is that really just boundary setting and then, you know, is it, are we sort of setting these boundaries to sort of protect people from themselves, whether that be, you know, security risks or whether it be potentially preventing you from getting eyed for a promotion because your direct supervisor is getting the wrong impression from either your low cut shirt or maybe the fact that you wear ripped up tee shirts and jeans to work every day. When is it okay to have boundaries setting in the workplace when it comes to modesty? Yum (28:35): So I think IT is a really interesting, um, subsection of people. Uh, especially. So I come from a, um, small business SaaS background and the people I worked with came to work in leggings and ripped up jeans. And, um, every time the company wanted to give us a gift, it was a hoodie. Like this is the kind of people that I worked with. And they were, they were expecting the same for me. There was never an expectation that I get very, very dressed up to come to work. In fact, some of the women who did come to work more dressed up, and I'm not talking like more modestly because those t-shirts come up to your neck. So it's not, it's not that kind of a problem. I'm just talking about like, you know, sharper. I'm more sharply dressed. They were seen as the ones that were trying too hard. Yes, they were most of the time busy, uh, sales women and they needed to feel the part in order to speak the part. You know, nobody sees them, um, where we do most of our sales by phone, but it was important for them to feel that way. And I do think that more and more we are coming to a place, work and life are intersecting in a way that it hasn't before. And I think boundary setting is probably one of the most important things that we can do for ourselves. Um, I don't know about you too, but I'm a millennial and what we, what we kind of grew up on was a work life balance. But I heard on a radio talk show that gen Z is actually talking about work life blending where they want, um, they want businesses to be more okay with their life and their work really being one thing. If you expect me to answer an email at 7:00 PM, it's okay for me to go to the doctor at 10:00 AM and for you not to know about it. See what I'm saying? Like it's, it's more of a blending than it is a separation, which is what, which is what we were taught to want. Right. They were like, you're going to find a nine to five and then you're going to leave your work at work and go home and do your thing. Um, as a community manager, that's impossible. I answer emails all the time. I answer emails on PTO. Not that I should, but I do. Am I inviting people to treat me a certain way? Probably and I should probably stop. That's kind of, it's kind of expected of me at this point. At what point do I say I have this amount of self-respect, which is related to modesty, because modesty is having enough self-respect to dress in a way that shows that you are not trying to be overtly sexual or overtly whatever, or maybe you are good for you. Alex (30:58): So is it maybe because your boundaries are, have become less modest that now this is sort of what's expected of you because this is the impression that you've given to people and that's what they've perceived in terms of your availability, in terms of, you know, your work life blend or balance or lack thereof. You know, is it sort of we're setting these boundaries by determining how modest we are with our time, with our words, with our actions, with our dress. So kind of like what you were saying earlier, I think that it does fall back on us a little bit, but it's still also in the eye of the beholder. So I would agree actually. I think it's both Yum (31:49): Welcome to my "both" camp. Population 2: you and me. Alex (31:52): but when it comes to it, you know, there are definitely certain scenarios where being more modest is without a doubt. A plus. Right? Like if we're talking about security measures, if we're talking about, um, just really kind of helping people to protect them from themselves, cause you may not be a malicious user, but you may just be a user who's too busy and trying to do too many things at one time and then you become a security risk to the organization and you should have been a little bit more modest about your passwords. Yum (32:21): Yeah, I think you're right Alex. I think, um, companies need to be very modest with the access they're giving their users. And I think users need to be, um, respectful of the boundaries that they're setting and the boundaries that their work is setting. I know a lot of times we get, um, for laptops from the companies that we, that we work for. Um, and perhaps, um, being respectful to yourself and being respectful to the company and not using that laptop as your personal machine and inviting in, um, security risks that way. Or even just, you know, at the end of the day it can go in and take a look, see and see everything you've Googled for the past. You know, however long you've been working for the company and do you really want that? Cause I don't, Alex (33:05): right, right. In case in case anyone was unaware that that is going on at their workplace, it's definitely happening. And you should, uh, adjust accordingly. Faria (33:16): Okay. I'm going to be honest, I have a lot of Buzzfeed articles, the ones that are like incentivizing you to buy this thing under $15 because you need it in your life and it's because they pop up and I'm like, bookmark, save, go look and buy all the things later. So yes, sorry. Office people Yum (33:32): Faria that is, that is the least of their worries. Um, as a, as a side gig, I am a writer slash, editor and um, my biggest issue is I'm Googling how to murder people, but we can talk about this some other day. Alex (33:47): So would you say that, just to kind of bring this back and kind of round it out, is there something from your faith or your religion that maybe I think IT could learn from or maybe even that you've taken that principle or that idea and it's carried over into your professional life? Faria (34:11): Yeah, I would, I would say don't be afraid to be open-minded and challenge what you've been taught because I feel like this is like, you know, take a dog or take a drink every time she says she came from a conservative background. But yeah, like I didn't question things for 18 years. Right. Um, and just kind of accepted what I heard and believed, which was all great and wonderful. Uh, then maybe not the best fit for me. Right. So I think also as someone in her early career, um, I'm at just my second company right now out of college. So, uh, being new, kind of in that early career stage, there was a lot of, uh, maybe X, Y, Z is exactly what I need to do to advance or to meet the goals or to do the things. And I get afraid to challenge or to speak my mind or to say something different because that's not the way it's always been done. Um, and so yeah, just kind of learning to be open and to trust myself I think is something that resonates with me in modesty or in faith. And also in the workplace. Yum (35:13): I'm actually going to draw from my, um, educational experience about theology in general. Um, and, and across many, um, the many religions that I've learned about both pretty in depth and just surface level, almost every single religion way of life. Um, anything, whatever you want to call it, spirituality has, um, some sort of need either privacy or or sneeze or modesty or whatever you can call it. And I think, um, companies can learn from that as well, especially in it. Every company should have their proper use of computer bylaws and rules of engagement within their company and an understanding that people come from different backgrounds and it's not always easy and it's not always comfortable. Um, and sometimes it gets real awkward if you meet, for example, uh, a Jewish man who will not high five or will not shake hands or a Jewish woman who won't, um, give you a hug, which is apparently, you know, accepted or expected of, of women. Nowadays, I think that's, that's this generation's you should smile more. But I do think that, uh, every company should understand modesty, understand self-respect, understand boundaries. Um, we'll see when we get there. Destiny (36:33): 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.  

May 2020

36 min 46 sec

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 the founder of TABGeeks, Jesse Nowlin. 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 careers as IT professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Leon (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 (01:39): My name is Leon Adato, and the other voice you're going to hear on this episode is Jesse Nowlin. Jesse (01:45): Hi everyone. Leon (01:45): As is there a want on Technically Religious. We don't make the uh, audience wait to hear all the good stuff the juice news about our guests. So Jesse, you've got a moment here for shameless self promotion. Tell us who you are, where you work, what's going on in your life, and just remember to tell us, uh, what your religious or ethical and moral point of view is somewhere in there. Jesse (02:06): Yes. So first off, I'd like to say start by saying, thank you for having me. It's an honor to be on your podcast and on the other side of the mic so to speak, I've got my own podcast as well. Just finished recording an episode. So it's fun to be on the other end now, or on the receiving end of this, I am the founder and head geek at a company called Tab Geeks, which is a conference for a small to mid-size IT support professionals. We focus on a sponsor free show that is focused on the content and not a pitch session, which many of the largest shows are, or only on a particular type of product line. Whereas most people in small to midsize companies, you've got everything from working on the printer to the coffee machine is under your purview. And there really isn't very much in the way of other conferences out there that are addressing all of those in a show. Jesse (02:59): So we've built a community in the conference, uh, focused on training on those particular topics. Again, it's sponsor free. Our stage is kind of like, uh, the Holy ground. You can't go up there if you're a sponsor. We don't even have sponsors on, uh, on our, uh, we don't even have sponsors at the conference at all or in our Slack channel, which is a, another safe space for IT to be able to just come ask for for help and uh, and even vent sometimes and my day job because that's not enough to keep me busy on top of being a father of two kids under three, I also am, I am also the CTO of a 500 employee real estate company that has about 75 offices across three States and I manage all of that with a team of five IT professionals. And I as you go into this, in the beginning of the podcast you asked me to mention the religious affiliation. Obviously that's the point of this podcast. I am an Orthodox Jew and I have found that for me, being able to take that break every week is one of the things that has helped me to avoid burnout and has helped keep me sane in this industry. Leon (04:07): Awesome. Okay. We're going to get, definitely get into that more. Um, any, how can people find you on social media if they wanted to find you someplace, where would they go? Jesse (04:16): Yeah, so I'm on all the major platforms. I am @MrJNowlin on Twitter or @TabGeeks. If you want to check out the uh, the tech community that we've got on LinkedIn, I'm just Jesse Nowlin, Facebook, I'm just Jesse Nowlin and uh, I'm active on all of them posting all kinds of content. We've also got our Tab Geeks website is And our Slack is Leon (04:46): Fantastic. All right, so I'm going to round this out. Uh, I am Leon Adato. I am my actual title, my official title is head geek. Uh, I took the job sight unseen when they told me that was going to be able to be on my business card. I work for a company called SolarWinds, which is another solar nor wind. It's a monitoring software vendor because naming things is hard. You can find me on the Twitters @leonadato. I pontificate about things both technical and religious at and I also identify as an Orthodox Jew. And if you are frantically scribbling that stuff down, trying to figure out whether it was two W's or three or whatever, uh, stop. There's going to be show notes with all the links to everything that we're talking about today. Uh, so you don't have to do that. Leon (05:31): Just sit back, relax and let the awesome wash over you. Um, okay. So I want to dive into the structure of this now. This is the tales from the TAMO cloud. You know, where we talk about our journeys both through the world of tech and religion. And I want to start off with the technical stuff. So tell me a little bit more, you sort of gave us a sketch, but tell me more about what your work is on a day-to-day basis, whether that's with Tab Geeks or as part of the real estate firm, you know, what is, what is your daily job look like today? Jesse (06:01): So day to day, uh, during the day I'm at the real estate gig as I mentioned before, and that is managing a team of five people, uh, which is a challenge of handling the amount of employees that we have to support with that amount of people. That's not the greatest of ratios from what I've been able to see in my research. Um, I've recently been doing a lot of research into this area because we, over the last couple of years, the real estate company grew, uh, pretty much tripled in size in the last three years. And I came on about four and a half years ago and when I started, it was just me and one other guy and he had been shipping computers in from Vegas to California when they would break. And it was literally like a 10 day turnaround time for a computer that had, that had gone down. But if you're not, not counting, of course the costs that it would take to ship it, the downtime costs and the fact that the people didn't have anything to work on in the meantime. Leon (06:55): I'm sure the end users were delighted with that. I'm sure they loved every part of that. Jesse (06:59): To be honest. They didn't really know anything better. They were using Pentium 4 computers on a, um, Exchange 2003 mail server. And this was four years ago. This is, we're now in 2020 is, you know, in terms of, uh, the, the forever evergreen content of podcast world. We're now in 2020. And this was only a couple of years ago. I've only just, uh, recently managed to get rid of the Windows 2000 domain that's been running for a long time because there was just so much other stuff that needed to be done. Uh, the first thing I did when I came on was up the internet from a 80 meg shared cable coax internet line to a 200 meg synchronous, you know, proper internet connection and get everybody off that exchange server and onto G suite. So I'm a, I'm a big G suite fan and um, you know, so that's, that's pretty much what's going on in the day job. We um, have been working, in why I mentioned that I do a lot of that research or have been doing a lot of that research is because, we scaled so much, we haven't really had time to catch up. We were just duct taping things almost literally just to get them working. And so now we've been taking time to pull back and reorganize and create policies and procedures and actually get this stuff standardized. And uh, I hope to actually write a book on this one day. Managing a small to mid size IT department. Leon (08:19): That's fantastic. Okay. So that's where, where you are today, Jesse (08:22): right. So that's the day job and that I come home, eat dinner, well come home and put my kids to bed, eat dinner and then work for two or three hours a night on Tab Geeks doing podcasts and content and stuff like that. And you asked, um, you know how I got into it and you know, where, where all this came from. I've been into tech, uh, since I was a kid. I've told the story before on my podcast that I was, uh, my earliest memory is as a three year old, I had a toy truck that I absolutely loved that broke down and what else was I to do other than to take it apart and try and fix it and sure enough, and I don't know how I did it, but I took it apart and mess around with some wires, put it back together and it turned on and it worked. Jesse (09:03): And that was, you know, that set my brain on fire. I was like, Hey, there's really something here. And then throughout my formative years, so to speak, I was one of the kids that would just pick up computers off to the side of the road when people would throw them away. Of course, back then people didn't really have in mind data privacy. So there was all kinds of stuff on their computers, which made it very entertaining to look through as a teenager or pre teenager. Um, and I would basically just take these home and build my own home lab and then, uh, build environments that would get viruses on the computers and I'd work on destroying them and then try and figure out ways to figure my way out of the holes I was putting myself in. And then in high school I started my own company fixing computers and the rest is history, self-taught all the way. Leon (09:49): Wow. Okay. So that, uh, that explains both where you started and how you pretty much how you got from here to there. So, cause I know that a lot of people who listen especially to the TAMO series, uh, are interested to map their own career, whether they're at the beginning or the middle or, or even, you know, near the end where they're just passing along knowledge themselves, um, to hear how other people got through it. So let's turn, let's turn things around a little bit and let's talk about the religious side. You mentioned the top of the show that you are an Orthodox Jew. And I would like to clarify that labels are really challenging that when you ask somebody, so, so what are you, more often than not, you're going to get an answer of something like, well I, it's a little complicated, I'm sort of this or sort of that. So understanding that any, you know, two or three word label is not going to be able to capture the full complexity and nuance of your religious life. Um, how do you define your expression of Orthodox Judaism today? Jesse (10:48): Well, it's kind of the same way that I describe my title as IT manager. Despite being CTO and highest ranking a it professional in the business is that, you know, it depends what you're doing. Titles are, especially in this industry, in the tech world, titles are all over the map. It depends the size of the company you're at. It depends what you are tasked with or what you've picked up over the years. And you know, religion is the same way. At least for me, it's, there's a lot of things that we're told to do. Some of it it makes sense. Some of it doesn't make sense. Some would, some people would say none of it makes sense. And uh, you know, it's, it's kinda just figuring out really what works for you. And what works for me is having that time every week where I have the Sabbath and from sundown Friday night to sundown on Saturday night, I'm totally disconnected and I will read, you know, uh, secular books. Jesse (11:39): I've been an avid fiction reader my whole life, but a couple of years ago when I realized that IT management was really a direction I wanted to go in, uh, and coinciding with a book reading challenge that my sister-in-law and some family members and I set upon to do a book a week because we're all crazy. Leon (11:57): cause you have nothing else to do. Right. You needed a hobby. Jesse (11:58): Nothing better to do. Yeah, exactly. So it turns out when I read a nonfiction, I don't read it nearly as fast as I read fiction. So I did not succeed at that challenge. But I, I challenged myself further by saying, Hey, I want to see if I can actually learn something this year instead of just reading, you know, 52 books, which is easy. I could do that. And um, it really broadened my knowledge and accelerated a lot of the things that I was working on in my career because I was taking the time to do that. Jesse (12:24): And a lot of that time where I was able to do that was because of the Sabbath. Because I'm not using electronics. I'm not on Facebook, I'm not on Twitter, I'm not, you know, reading some article that that is sitting in my queue of things to read or one of the 8,500 tabs that are open on my browser at all times. And you know, things like that have really been both a strength for me. And also sometimes frustrating because we've got a lot of holidays where you're also not allowed to do the whole technology thing. No work, no driving, no computers, no internet. And uh, there's one story that comes to mind since we are talking about being religious and tech, is a couple of years ago it was one of the high holidays I believe. And there was something going on at the office and they just, they couldn't crack it and they couldn't figure it out. Jesse (13:14): And they were working with the service provider trying to get an internet back and going and something and like they refuse to talk to anybody because they weren't the authority on the account. And they actually ended up saying to the tech who was on site, let's go for a ride. And they drove to my house and said, can you tell this guy that he can talk to us please and what he's supposed to do. And I was like, all right, fine. No problem. Because it didn't break the rules. Technically I wasn't, you know, getting on my computer and doing it. I was just saying, okay, here's how this and this is connected and yes, you are authorized to do whatever they need you to do. Leon (13:45): Wow. Okay. So we'll, yeah, we'll, we'll, we'll dive into some of that in a little bit, but okay. So that's, that's where you are now. That gives us a good sense of where you are now. The question is, is that the environment that you grow up in? Because when we start out, we were sort of, you know, we, we are in the environment that we're born into usually. And for most of us, we don't start to question it until, you know, our teens or maybe a little bit earlier, maybe a little bit later, maybe never. So the question is, where did you start out religiously? Does it, you know, uh, did it look like what it looks like today? Jesse (14:20): So until age seven or eight, I was a practicing religious Christian going to church every week. And that's because my father's not Jewish. My mother left the faith when she went off to college. And, um, you know, that's just, that's where we were at that point in life. And I remember being a five year old when my mother told me that we're Jewish. And I was like, okay, whatever. You know what that means? Cool. And then, um, a couple of years later, uh, she was looking for some more meaning and with some of her family and kind of getting back to her roots and realized that she had a lot of questions that were really related back to her roots in Judaism. And the questions that she was asking was based on the stuff that she had learned when she was a kid in Jewish school. And, uh, we were paired up with a rabbi in, in, uh, somewhat near to our house at the time. Jesse (15:11): And they started, you know, the process of, not necessarily the process, but just kind of talking and, and learning, learning together. And, um, at some point it became clear that we were learning a whole lot about being Jewish and what that meant. And then we started doing those things. And a couple of years later we moved to a more religious area, which was back where my mom had grown up in the New Jersey, New York area. And then I, that was when I was 10, we entered into a major Jewish community and a, a proper Jewish school, which had like, I don't know, 600 kids in it, which for me coming from rural New England at the time with a school that had, I dunno, a hundred kids in it total was quite a culture shock. And I knew none of the language. I knew no Hebrew and not that everything was taught in Hebrew, but it's still the, you know, they teach the texts and stuff like that that you're, you're trying to translate. Jesse (16:02): And I had a serious handicap in that. And what ended up happening to me is interesting and it's probably something that that helped me a little bit later on is that the school I had entered into, uh, for the grade I was in at that time for Judaic studies, they actually held me back two grades. And then because I'd moved around so much getting there, I had to repeat fifth grade on the secular side, but advanced on the Judaic side. So now I had three years of friends and people that I knew in those grades, which then translated into a very wide network as we grew older and went off to school or when it's college, went off to study and you know, abroad we do a gap year in Israel. So I knew just a ton of people and you know, networking is really everything or almost everything in this business. And that really gave me a great foundation. Leon (16:53): So that definitely, uh, tells us your whole progression from, from there to here. So that's interesting. So now being in the world of tech and having the strong religious point of view, um, a lot of times we find that we're, those two things are brought into conflict that are IT life. And, and you were mentioned one case already where our IT life sort of encroaches on a religious life and sometimes vice versa, sometimes our religious life encroaches our IT life and it makes it challenging. So I'm curious if you have any other stories. Cause you did tell the one about having to drive the technician. Somebody had to drive the technician to your house, just so you could give approval, but, uh, were there any other situations you can think of that, uh, where the two things were brought into conflict and how you resolve them? Jesse (17:34): Well, as I was saying before about the high holidays, um, for anybody who knows anything about Judaism and the high holidays, the entire month of October or September, wherever they fall is basically nonexistent for me. I'm like, nothing can happen during October is dead during the month of October. Don't try anything new, don't want, don't look for any new projects. We're going to make zero progress. And that is okay. Um, I recently had several, uh, religious Jewish people on my team and, um, for various circumstances they were reassigned or left to, uh, to move or, um, to look for a new position. And I diversified my team a little bit because, um, you know, not that I was trying not to hire Jewish people, we actually didn't have really any of them, um, apply, which isn't surprising we're at a small Jewish community in long beach, California. But it was helpful that I actually did not hire Jewish people for my entire team because now I have some of that coverage where they are there and I don't feel uncomfortable telling or asking somebody on my team who is Jewish but isn't religious. Jesse (18:43): Hey, can you do this thing over the weekend that I can't do because somebody has to do it when I really shouldn't be telling you to do that. Right? So now I don't have that conflict internally. Um, you know, it's, it's things like that that crop up over time that you really wouldn't think is an issue and then all of a sudden you're on vacation for Passover in a different country and there's nobody to do tech except the one older IT guy who's been there from the beginning who is just completely overwhelmed now and has do everything himself. Leon (19:15): Right. And, and that was a point that we covered. Um, in our very first episode we called religious synergy where you realize that having that mix of people from different, um, you know, faith experiences allows you to see the world from multiple perspectives but also lets you get things done in a way that you couldn't if it was all homogenous. So, yeah, that's, that's definitely, that's interesting. I like it. Jesse (19:36): Yeah. I like to joke around that the time between Christmas and New Years is my most productive time of the year. Yes. Everybody goes on vacation and I get some work done. Leon (19:45): Right. It gets real quiet for everyone, but you and you can finally get that flow time, that mythical flow time that people talk about all the time. Jesse (19:52): Yeah. Well that's when I catch up from October. Leon (19:54): Yes. Well, there, yeah, there you go. Yeah. And you start the year sort of on an, on an even playing field, um, at least until it gets to Passover and then, you know, everything goes out the window again. Um, which is what we're facing now. We're actually recording this just the beginning of March. And, uh, I think for a lot of us Orthodox Jews, we see Purim is just a week away. Passover is just peeking over the horizon and we're like, Oh, I don't know that I'm ready for all of this yet. Um, in any case. So the flip side of those challenges is that sometimes unexpected benefits pop up that, that either our perspective or our training or something about our religious or ethical or moral point of view offers us an insight or a capability in our tech work that we wouldn't have otherwise had and certainly wouldn't expect it. I was wondering if you had any situations that were like that. Jesse (20:46): As I was talking about in my intro, uh, I've been, I have moved around a lot as a kid. I've been in different cultures and I, as many Orthodox Jewish people do, at least from the Tristate area, they go and study abroad in a Yeshiva or a religious school in Israel for a year. And that can give you some wonderful experiences. For me, it was a particularly difficult experience because I'm not the scholastic type. I actually didn't go to college. I've just been in it in my whole life and I'm, you know, community taught, self-taught and have managed to, to make a career out of it. And um, going and traveling around different parts of the world gave me an appreciation for what is now our reality in cloud computing and always on, always available access to different, um, solutions because I was in Israel where, and it's funny to think about it, but because they don't have work on Fridays because you know, Saturday, Friday night to Saturday night as the Sabbath. Jesse (21:47): Thursday night is the party night. And so if you're trying to work, which I used to do remote work for an American company, if you're trying to work on Thursday night, the entire country goes on the internet. And then again, Saturday night the entire country goes online and now Israel, I mean over the years they've increased their, their bandwidth, but they have one pipe that goes over the ocean that comes over to all of the wonderful servers providing these services in the US or in the other direction to Europe. And it gets abysmally slow and things are not necessarily available over there as readily as they are over here in the States. And so having to come up with creative solutions, even five, six years ago, have given me insights to kind of how to build out a distributed team here because I was forced to think about, okay, well if I connect this service to that one, my Google voice calls my Skype number and Skype will work in Israel, then I'm able to combine these services and I can have an American phone number or if I want to stream the Superbowl or if I want to, you know, be able to use a different services over there, whatever. Jesse (22:54): I'm able to do that by stringing these things together. And it's that kind of mentality that, and we're sort of raised with this, you know, when we're learning some of the Judaic stuff that the discussions that they have is kind of the logical mindset. A little bit of a Spock thing going on there to borrow from Star Trek a bit because we are a bunch of geeks, you know, is, is thinking things through and kinda, you know, massaging the system to get what you want out of it. And it's those experiences and you know, I'm sure that other people from other religions have similar stories or different things that have given them those inspirations. But because I've dealt with so many people from all over the planet and so many different types of systems, and I even did a stint doing a networking for the Israeli Defense Forces for the Israeli army, uh, working on some archaic systems in some state of the art systems. It's all given me the opportunity to have a lot of experience with a lot of different things, um, in my relatively short career. Leon (23:52): Fantastic. All right, so any final thoughts? Anything you want to share with the audience? Anything you want them to remember about you? How can they find you? You can remind them of that, you know, any, anything you want to leave us with, words of wisdom? Jesse (24:03): Yeah. So you know, religion is community and um, you know, community in IT is difficult especially because a lot of IT people are introverted and are not necessarily able to relate with a lot of other people. And oftentimes just being able to have that time with your family where you get together or as I like to joke, we have Thanksgiving every Friday night. Gives you the opportunity and the ability to unplug and unwind. And you know, one of the big topics that is tearing through the industry right now, and we actually have a session on it at our Tab Geeks conference coming up is burnout. Burnout is an enormous issue for IT professionals because if it weren't for things like the Sabbath where I am forced to disconnect, I would literally be on my phone, on my computer seven days a week. And you know, there's some something pulling at my, my brain. Jesse (24:57): It's a puzzle. I'm trying to figure it out. That is our nature as IT professionals, that's how we work. We want to solve these things and oftentimes won't be able to sleep until we do. And having that time, whether it's time with family time, where you set those boundaries or in our case where you know, God, so to speak, said that we're not allowed to do things. Or at least, you know, we extrapolate from what God actually said, that we're not allowed to do those things. Gives us the opportunity to, you know, have that back to earth connection and to, and to really take that break that is necessary. I think that for me as I'm becoming more of a manager that focus on family and the focus on the importance of taking time off to be with family and the fact that we're forced to, and it gives me the insight, not just in tech but also in management, that those are the things that are important and help keep me sane. Jesse (25:50): And so as I'm managing my team, it's important to remember those things and that other people need those things as well. And you will have people that will try to just work all the time. And um, there was a company, uh, Buffer actually, which is a very transparent company. They're a social media scheduling tool. They've been very famous about having total transparency and everything that they do and they talk about all of their internal operations, which would be nerve wracking as hell for me, but Hey, why not? Um, they, they said that they give everybody unlimited vacation and nobody took it. They had to turn around and tell people, here's $1,000, I think it was even per family member, you must take a week or two weeks, whatever it was off per year and we're going to pay you $1,000 per family member to go and get away because that's important, and I think that's what's really been able to help me stay so focused and still and so engaged in IT over the years. Jesse (26:48): If you want to hit me up on social media, I am always very active and always happy to to meet new people, talk to people. I think that networking is very important. We have a, in Judaism for Jewish people out there, we've got that game, Jewish geography, which is basically our version of how many degrees of separation. And in the Jewish world, especially because everybody's related to everybody else who has lived all over the world or went to school in Israel with, you know, somebody else, it's been a huge benefit to be able to reach in and tap into some of that network. And, uh, you know, networking is, is really something that helps everybody, uh, get ahead and just learn together, which I think in today's day and age where it's so hard to keep up with cybersecurity and all of the vastness that is the, the tech industry. Jesse (27:33): The only way we can do it as if we work together. And so, you know, networking is important. And the reason why I'm saying that is because I want you to come and say hi. And on Twitter. I'm @MrJNowlin once again, and Tab Geeks is @TabGeeks. That's T. A. B. G. E. E. K. S, which, I'll let you in on a little secret actually stands for tech and business geeks, because we exist at the intersection of both. Speaker 7 (28:10): 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 us on social media.

May 2020

28 min 3 sec

It goes without saying that COVID-19 is having an enormous (and terrible) impact on our communities and lives at every level, from the broadly inter-national to the intensely personal. We wanted to take a moment and explore how our work in tech, combined with our religious point of view, might have lessons and coping strategies for us in the days and weeks ahead. Please listen or read the transcript below. Leon (00:06): (Intro Music) 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 as IT professionals mesh, or at least not conflict, with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Leon (00:54): Before we begin, I want to take a moment to acknowledge that a lot of folks are truly struggling, whether it's because of impacts to their health or fear from the uncertainty around us. I want to let everyone know that our hearts and prayers are with you all and if you need to talk, or vent, or share, you should definitely reach out. This is the time when we need each other more than ever. Leon (01:15): It is March 18th, 2020 and while most of the episodes on Technically Religious are relatively timeless, this topic comes at a point in history where it might be obsolete before it even posts. That said, here at Technically Religious, we had to take a moment to recognize the impact that COVID-19 is having on our communities and the world and discuss how our work in tech and our religious point of view may have lessons or at least coping strategies to help us out in this unique time. I'm Leon Adato and the other voices you're going to hear on this episode are my partners in podcasting crime, Ben Keen Ben (01:50): Hello! Leon (01:51): and Keith Townsend. Keith (01:53): Hello. Leon (01:54): and Yechiel Kalmanson. Yechiel (01:56): Hello again. Leon (01:57): All right. Before we dive in, even though it's a weighty topic, I still want to make sure everyone has a chance to engage in some shameless self promotion. So, uh, Ben, why don't you kick it off for us? Ben (02:07): Hello, my name is Ben keen. I'm a senior systems administrator slash monitoring engineer for a large retailer known as American Eagle Outfitters, headquartered here in Pittsburgh. You can find me on the Twitters, as Leon says, at the underscore Ben underscore keen and I identify as a collective Christian. Keith (02:27): Hey, I'm Keith Townsend, principal of The CTO Advisor. You can find me on the web at The CTO advisor. Register for the conference coming up next month. CTO advisor virtual conference. Uh, I am nondenominational Christian. Leon (02:41): Okay. Yechiel, Yechiel (02:42): and I'm Yechiel Kalmenson, I'm a software engineer at VM Ware. My Twitter handle is @YechielK. Um, my blog is I also have a weekly newsletter with my friend Ben Greenberg called Torah and Tech and I'm an Orthodox Jew. Leon (02:58): Okay. And just things out. I'm Leon (03:00): Leon Adato. I am a Head Geek. Yes. That's actually my job title at SolarWinds, which is neither solar nor wind. It's a software vendor, but naming things is apparently hard. And that's why my title is Head Geek in the company name is SolarWinds. You can find me on the Twitters, which I delight in saying because I know it annoys Keith's daughter so much. That's why we say it. I'm on the Twitters @LeonAdato. Uh, my, uh, website is,, where I pontificate about things both technical and religious. And I also identify as an Orthodox Jew. And if you're scribbling those things down, please don't. It's all okay. There's going to be show notes posted the day after this episode drops both on the website and also on anywhere that you find the finer podcasts on the internet so you can get all of those links and more. So diving into this topic. I think the first thing is how can we keep calm and carry on as the UK like to say during world war II and it has brought that back out now. What can we do to remain focused on the fact that it is going to be generally speaking? Okay. Yechiel (04:12): Um, yeah, so I think just one thing to keep in mind is that overall, at least for those of us in tech where most of what we do is pretty easy to do remotely. Uh, most of all we're doing what we're doing just with adjustments for the new reality. Ben (04:30): Yeah. And I think tools such as WebEx, Google Meet, uh, FaceTime, uh, whatever conferencing tool you or your company leverages are keeping some of that sanity and sane alive. Uh, I think from a tech aspect, it's really important for us to maintain our collective cool. Um, you know, things are gonna be stressful. Things are stressful right now. A lot of our systems are being pushed to the upper max of what we designed them to do. So yeah things are going to break. Things are gonna run slow users are going to be overwhelmed. Um, but I think ultimately the biggest thing that we as technology professionals can do is to relay that calm by maintaining our calm. Don't get mad at the end user who has never called in via WebEx for it. Doesn't know the first thing about it, doesn't understand how VPNing works or any of that. Keep in mind, for a lot of these people, work from home has never been an option. We're blessed in the fact that for most of us in technology, we have wifi, we have laptops, we have power, we're good. A lot of other companies, a lot of other people in our own companies cannot and have not worked like that. So maintain your calm, deep breath deep breaths. Leon (05:53): Right. I think, and I also think that our religious point of view speaks to that in the sense that you want to judge others favorably. You want to be empathetic. You want to, you know, to use the phrase, walk a mile in their shoes to remember that that salesperson is used to going out and pounding the pavement, you know, eight or nine or 10 hours a day and meeting with people and suddenly they're being asked to not do that and to find an entirely different way of interacting and still make quota, and still, you know, do their job. And that can be really disorienting, forget about off putting or it's different or it's change and people don't like change. It's disorienting. Um, and I think that again, our faith gives us a chance to really exercise that muscle and, um, and, and be kind. Ben (06:47): Yeah. And the piggyback on that real quick, uh, when it comes to meeting quotas and meeting sales expectations, uh, you know, we're hitting this right at the crucial points of some people's fiscal calendars. Um, you know, so performance targets and sales targets and things like that are very critical to everybody for our businesses. Uh, you know, yeah. American Eagle sells jeans. We're not saving lives. We're not in the hospital industry, but at the same time, selling those genes is what gives me the ability to have a house. Leon (07:28): Yeah, right. Ben (07:29): You know, and so I got to maintain my calm so that my, the designers in New York city came to get these designs out. We gotta maintain our comps or our website stays up so people can still buy our jeans. Even though right now our stores are currently closed on the brick and border side, Leon (07:47): going back to the people who are used to, uh, you know, a lot, a high level of interaction. I just think that speaks to the concept of community. Um, as, as people of faith, I believe that we have a, a line on what defines a community. If you asked somebody who was more secular, what's your community? Well, it's, you know, the neighborhood where I live. Well, maybe, maybe not, you know, is your community, well, I have a, a homeowners association. That's my community. No, Nope. That's not it. So even defining what is community, it's not about tribe. It's not about your sports team. It's not about an affinity group, necessarily. There's something more to it. And I think that our religious sensibility helps us understand what that is. And it allows us to leverage the technology to build that community, to allow avenues for folks to continue to experience that sense of connectedness that we crave. Ben (08:47): Yeah. I think a lot of churches have gotten, uh, and when I say churches, I'm talking to all religious, uh, places of congregation. Uh, but churches, synagogues, mosques, whatever, have really gotten a crash course in the last 72 hours on what it means to be a hub of the community. How can, how can a church, uh, uh, find example? Uh, so my dad's a retired minister. He preached for 43 years. Um, but he was always in smaller churches. He'd never gotten to these, you know, mega churches with thousands of congregants. He would preach the 30, 40, maybe a hundred. Uh, but a lot of these small churches are having to get a crash course on FaceTime live. Uh, zoom, WebEx. What is, how can they get the message out? How can they still deliver their service, their product, much like how can American Eagle deliver our jeans? How can that religious venue still deliver its product in giving people a place to go? Now, personally, my religious view is I don't necessarily have to, I feel I don't need to go to a building to worship my God. Uh, I can go outside and I can spend time with my wife and my service dog and or my kids and we can commune like that. But for a lot of people, having that point of focus, whether it's a church or synagogue or mosque, uh, is crucial to them and how they are going to get through this. So that's where the crash course is coming in the heavy. Leon (10:23): Well, and, and it's interesting you say that because the Jewish community is really struggling because of the point of view. So just for, for context in Judaism, we are commanded, not encouraged, not you know, lauded but commanded to pray three times a day, to come together in a group and pray. And um, at this point all the synagogues are shut down. Like everything is shut down, but it's not just the prayer. There's also lectures and um, learning that goes on. There's one on one learning that goes on. And to just give a sense of the underlying aspect of that, there is a belief that this world exists purely for the purpose of learning Torah, of learning scripture. And that if that isn't happening, there is no reason for the world to exist. That if there isn't someone, somewhere in the world learning Torah, then the world will cease because the whole purpose of it no longer is there. And to be honest, as these synagogues are closing down, you can see real, almost terror in people's faces. How can this be happening? Yechiel (11:36): And just add context into what Leon has said. Um, throughout the darkest periods of Jewish history, and Jewish history have seen some real dark periods. Like even during world war II or in Soviet Russia, where going to synagogue was punishable by death, pretty much, Jews risked their lives to go to, to go to synagogue and pray. The rabbi I met in the initial rye pray, he was born in Moscow in the 70s. His dad used to walk two and a half hours every Shabbat, not to the synagogue even coz that was too dangerous. They would walk two and half hours to someone's house where people would gather together and pray. And I heard him like last Shabbat, our shul was still open and there were discussing official close and, and really paint the prospect that the shul might close really pained him. It was traumatic for him. And the fact that eventually he finally did decide to close just shows how seriously how serious and unprecedented this situation is. Ben (12:36): And that really goes back to speak to why we have empathy for our fellow human here. You know, think about this. If when you go to the store and right now as of March 18th that we're recording this toilet papers still want a hot commodity. People are literally pulling it off of the pallet before the stock person can even take it off the pallet and put it on the shelves. So there are people getting in physical altercations at the stores. But maybe we should pause and think about it, is, yes, toilet paper is necessary in life. I get it, I got it. Good. But why not pause for a second and think about what these people are going through and you know, please thank you. Excuse me. Your general manners go a long way. It's just like, you know, we keep hearing about washing your hands, 20 seconds, sing happy birthday twice, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Basic stuff. You think you would know. However, um, we need to be reminded sometimes of how far a please and a thank you can go and to empathize with other people may be going through. Leon (13:42): Yeah. Now I want to, I want to say, so, uh, I picked up my son from school, from Yeshiva on Sunday. They closed down. And, uh, when I picked him up, uh, the boys all have flip phones. That is the most technologically advanced thing that they have for, to their name. And, and the rabbis were saying, no, no, no, we're gonna, we're going to keep these classes going. We're just gonna all dial into a phone number and we're all gonna have our class together, you know, 10, 20, 30 boys in a class all on their flip phones for four or five hours a day. And I'm thinking no. That is not what is going to be happening. Yeah. So the, the thing that's amazing to me is how quickly back to Ben, to your point, how quickly, uh, communities are coming up to speed on their technological options. Leon (14:28): So again, Sunday I picked him up. Monday morning, 30 boys tried to dial in with their flip phones to make this work. And within two hours they had a Google meet channel. And this isn't just the boys, this isn't a story about, you know, wow, kids are so hip and with it technologically and everything like that. This is, that. They were, you know, the school had figured out that, okay, this isn't working - pivot. And they had pivoted over to uh, you know, using Google neat. And by the afternoon all the boys had, you know, headsets on and they had microphones and they were, you know, they were figuring it out. And uh, Tuesday, uh, my son had, you know, three different classes and he had one on one learning with a couple of friends and then today, this afternoon, the English teachers finally got the assignments out. So I mean there's a, you know, there's a relative value of what gets the most attention in a Yeshiva and English classes are not it, but okay. Leon (15:26): But again, on Sunday they had flip phones and they thought, well, we're just going to do the best we can. And here we are three days in, you know, 72 hours. And they're already, you know, light years ahead of where they expected to be and they're able to keep that learning going. They're able to keep that sense of community in class. Now, my son said something interesting. He said it was a class. It was, it was our normal, the, the word is a sheur, you know, it was a normal sheur. Now, if we hadn't done it together, we wouldn't have been able to do it this way. It's only because we knew each other and we knew how the class was going to run, that we were able to do it remote, but we were able to do it. Ben (16:10): I just hope, now as a technologist it kinda hurts me to say, but I really hope that some of this tech, the technology that we're leveraging for this whole practice, social distancing doesn't necessarily cause a rip. You know, we're on a very fine line between what we can do right now and what can be done the future. Uh, you know, a lot of companies, as Keith said at the beginning of, during his intro, he's doing a virtual conference. There's a lot of financial savings in doing those conferences virtually. But what does it take away from the experience? Uh, you know it. And with churches, what does it, yeah, a church can livestream and it's great and we can worship, but what does it take away from the experience? So my hope is that while some of this is really, really good and it's really awesome and yes, it helps pay my bills. What's the prolonged, you know, when we're sitting here on March 18th, 2021 where are we sitting? Leon (17:10): all right. And that's, that's a great pivot. So the next topic I want to talk about is what do we think the longterm effect of this is going to be? And to answer your question, Ben, my feeling is that for work, I hope it does stick. I hope a lot more companies that have simply closed the door or never opened the door on the concept of work, remote telework, work from home are going to open up and say, you know what? It really did work. There is a place for it. Maybe not for everybody, but it is work. On the other hand, for religion, I hope it won't. I hope that there's a, an absolute return. I know, especially for, you know, uh, people who are Jewish, I know that being remote doesn't work. Literally, it does not work in the structure of prayer to do it this way. So there's not going to be any desire on people's part to continue to pray in their own homes and not come together. Yechiel (18:02): Yeah. And especially for Orthodox Jews, um, like, so, okay. So during the week you can probably have study groups together over zoom or whatever. But for Shabbat, at least for Orthodox observant Jews, we, we don't use electricity. We don't use, uh, computers or anything. So we're not, Shabbat services are not going to be moving over to zoom anytime soon. Even during, even during this crisis, it's still not, we will be Shabbat, we will be praying at home alone without our communities. Leon (18:35): Right. Yechiel (18:35): And as soon as, as soon as the synagogues are able to open, they will open. Keith (18:40): So, you know, that reminds me of last week, we had tech field day, which was fully remote. And if you've ever done tech field, day, tech field days, this event where Stephen Foskett in the, uh, Gestalt IT folks get together with 12 influencers, we fly to Silicon Valley or, or some similar area and we go from vendor to vendor, and presenter to presenter, they present to us, uh, their technology stack. And it's a really great, you know, interaction with the product teams. We, we, last week we did VMware and we did it for the first time virtually last week because we had no choice. And while it worked, it was missing certain elements. You know, the, it's really interesting, someone on Twitter said, you know what, I hope companies realize that you don't have to meet in person to be productive, true, but there's a huge difference. And I think energy when you're missing touch, smell, taste, all these human senses that we have when we commune together, uh, I think the, the requirement that three people be together physically and, uh, in Christianity we have this, uh, this commandment that we shouldn't, you know, the apostle Paul talked about not getting out of the habit of meeting regularly. I think those things are there because the thing that we kind of talk about energy in the room it's all, I think it's more of a spiritual, uh, experience when humans get together and do the human thing. Ben (20:24): Yeah. And I think the one thing that this social distancing is doing for, for some, uh, is the deepening of our faith. You know, in, in a prior life I served eight and a half years in the military. Uh, I got combat deployments and lots of, I've been shot at all that fun stuff. And during that tiMe, which before the last week was some of the worst time in my life, uh, when it comes to not knowing what the, what tomorrow is going to bring, I found myself turning to religion. Uh, I think now here we are, um, again, we're finding ourselves, granted there's a huge difference between combat and a virus. I get that, but it's almost the same that we don't know what tomorrow's going to bring. Um, so a lot of people are turning to their scriptures, are turning to find this time where they can't go to their normal places. Then they're just sitting and, or find themselves either meditating, praying, reading the scriptures or having conversation with a friend, again over FaceTime, Duo, whatever. But they're having more faith-based discussions of what their religion can do to help them get through this uncertain time. Leon (21:41): So it's an interesting question. I mean, there's two sides of that coin, right? There's how, uh, social distancing maybe, um, both detracting from and adding to religious observations. So I wanna I want to start off with the negative and we'll pivot to the positive and end on the positive. So is his social distancing disturbing religious observations? We've already talked about a few things. You know that in Judaism you need to have 10 adult men together in what's called a minyan or else you're really, you know, you're just, you're just praying alone so that obviously there's some, some structural, uh, organizational things that are in there. Is there other, any other things about distancing that are making it harder to be religious in some way? Yechiel (22:27): Um, yeah, so like you said, on the face of it, it's, it would seem that way, um, and definitely feels that way. Uh, but it's also important to remember that a big tenant of definitely Judaism I'm sure Christianity as well and all other religions is preserving life. And that is also part of, you're part of a big central part of the religion. And it actually reminds me of a story I just shared on Twitter this week. Um, I told it to my son this morning when he was really disappointed to find out that he won't be going to shul Chavez. Um, there were two brothers lived in the 17 hundreds and Rabbi Elimelech and Rabbi Zusha, Rabbi Elimelech actually, just yesterday was the anniversary of his passing. Um, so yeah, so they, they were from the founders of the Hasidic movement. It's a movement within Orthodox Judaism and part of their service of God, occasionally they would, uh, dress up as simple people, uh, as peasants, and they would travel from town to town incognito. So no one recognizing them and whatnot. One night they came to town, they found it in to put their bag down. Um, and overnight some silver, some cutlery went missing. Uh, the innkeeper obviously suspected, his first suspicion fell on the two strangers. Uh, and he called the police. The police obviously took the innkeeper's word over these two strangers. Um, and they ended up in jail in a cell surrounded by criminals, thieves, murderers, the lowest elements of Ukrainian society, uh, in the morning. Rabbi Elimelech One of the two brothers wanted to start the morning prayers, but then he know, he realized there's a problem. He turned to his brother as a shy. He says, you know, there's a problem, we can't pray this morning. And those Ukrainian jails weren't really high tech. And instead of bathrooms, they, every cell had a bucket in the corner where prisoners where, the inmates would relieve themselves. And Jewish law says that you're not allowed to pray in a room with dirt, with filth, including stuff you'd find in such a bucket. So Rabbi Elimelech told his brother, you know, we're not gonna be able to pray today. I'm like, who said this? The idea that he wouldn't pray for one day was so inconceivable to him. He started crying and Rabbi Zusha turned to his brother. He says, why are you crying? He says, every day we serve God by praying to him today, God, God commanded us not to pray in this situation that we are in now. Today we can serve God by not praying. That is how we will serve God. And even more than that, when we serve God, there's a commandment to serve God with joy. So everyday we would pray joyfully, we would sing, we would dance, we would be involved in, you know, pray with, with great joy. Now we are serving God by not praying. We have to serve God with joy. We should be happy. And Rabbi Elimelech realized his brother was right. And the two brothers started reveling in this new service of God that they just discovered. And they started singing and dancing right there in the cell with surrounded by all these inmates. And these people obviously thought, you know, they never saw, you know, they were still convinced that Jews have horns. So to see two Jews just singing and dancing in a Ukrainian jail cell that was like the, you know, it seemed like it was the strangest thing they've ever seen. But uh, you know, it's a jail cell. There's only so many knock, knock jokes you can say and so many card games you can play. They figured, you know, why not break them out? Autonomy, they all join. It all just started singing and started dancing and before along the whole cell was, you know, the whole dance party going on and the commotion was so loud that the guard outside heard it and he knew that his job was to make these inmates life miserable. If they're singing and dancing, he's not doing his job right. So he runs in, he grabs one of the prisoners, says, what's going on here? Why is everyone seeing and dancing? And he says, I don't know. You see those two crazy Jews in the corner, they, they were talking to each other, they were pointing at the bucket and they started singing and dancing. So we joined them. We started singing and dancing as well. This guy said, really? That bucket's them sing and dance. I'll show those Jews. Yechiel (26:45): He runs the corner, grabs the bucket and takes it out of the room. As soon as he does that Rabbi Zusha throw him out. He says, Elimelech, my brother. Now we can pray. So I see the point of the story is that yeah, it's tough. You know, we are used to worshiping in a certain way. We're used to serving God in a certain way, but right now God wants us to serve him by protecting our health, by protecting the health of our community. And by staying home, we survived. You know, someone said on Twitter that, you know, and the, you know, and the third is in the forties you are a hero by going across the, going across the ocean and dying on some Pacific Island. Nowadays you can be a hero by sitting on your couch and being binging Netflix. So, right. Go for it. Right. So, yeah, be, be heroic Leon (27:37): in our, in our time. Oh, that's wonderful. Great story. Okay. So, so yeah, I think we've outlined the ways in which I think it's easy to see the ways in which the, the distancing is is bothering or religious observations. But Ben, you were talking about the way it's, it's deepening your faith, it's giving you an opportunity to, you know, to maybe find it a nuance or an aspect that you hadn't before. Ben (28:03): I, you know, I think it comes, it permeates at a lot of things. This whole idea of social distancing has a lot of negative connotation. But if you also look at its social slowing, you know, our lives are so go, go, go. We get up at a certain time, we'd be at work and we do our work and it's go, go, go. We get home and we gotta run the kids to softball, practice soccer, practice football, practice, dance, get home. Now I've got gotta make dinner. Now we've got to get the kids cleaned up and get them to bed and then, Oh, now I can sit for 10 minutes. Now it's midnight. Now I'm asleep with this whole idea of social distancing. You know, our kids don't have those sporting events. We can't go out to those happy hours after work. Uh, so we're back home. You know, right now American Eagle, uh, we're on a work from home basis, 100%. So I wake up, I get online, I do my work. At five o'clock, I log off and I'm home already. So I find myself being able to sit and kind of be in my thoughts and take into account the blessings that, you know, right now my parents, um, are in the high severity group of possibly contracting this COVID 19 stuff. Um, my dad's a diabetic. He's in his seventies. My mom's in her late sixties. Um, you know, and they're also in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, which is one of the hardest hit areas right now in Pennsylvania. But I'm thankful that they both have their health. I'm thankful that my, myself and my wife and my kids, and yes, even our animals have our health, you know, it's so, you know, I'm not necessarily deep in the Bible. I never really have, but I'm thankful for those things. Just like in combat, you know, I was thankful to get through that day. That's how I am now. I got through Wednesday, March 18th I'm ready to get through March 19th I'm ready to get through March 20th and just keep going through. And eventually, yes, there is a light at the tunnel. It could be the train coming towards us or exit point, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Leon (30:12): yeah. Yeah. And I, I really do believe that it's, it's not a train coming at us that there is, you know, 14 days and then, you know, you know, pretty solidly that you're clear. One of the things that, that the social distancing has done for me, and this is something that I've talked about a number of times on this podcast, is that, um, when I'm, when I'm praying in a group, I'm sort of caught up at the speed that the group is going at and I personally feel a lot of pressure because of that. I can't take my time the way that I'd like to, and being permitted, being, uh, having the opportunity to pray at home means I can take all the time I want or don't want, you know, in any given moment, uh, for those prayers. And I also am not distracted by other people around me. I mean, you know, people are there and they have bodies and they sniff or they cough or they, whatever. And if you really focused in one moment and then somebody made a noise or you just happened to notice of the corner of your eye, either scrolling their phone or they're done in you're not or whatever it is, none of those things are, you know, intruding on my focus. Now, do I use every moment to focus with laser light clarity? No, I don't, but I have the opportunity to, and I'm recognizing that. And so, um, you know, Yechiel, to your point, you know, I'm taking that as a positive that this is an opportunity I've got for as long as I've got it to try to, to really, um, deepen my attention and also, uh, enjoy the slowness of the ride. Yechiel (31:51): Yeah, I'll definitely say that. The last few days of praying at home while they were missing the communal aspect of prayer, my prayers were definitely a lot more focused and thoughtful than they otherwise usually are. Yeah. Leon (32:05): So I want to pivot that thought or that idea over to the, the work and the technical side. I, you know, there was a song back in the 30s. How are you going to keep them mowed down on the farm once they've seen Paris? So how are you going to keep the office, you know, down in the, in the cubicle once they've seen the work from home, you know, Paris, the, the, the joy of it. Will companies be able to get their employees to come back? Yechiel (32:30): I'm not so worried about that. Um, I mean, yeah, a lot of us are introverts and we're loving it. We're loving every minute of it, or at least I loved it last week, this week with the schools closed and my kids and my wife home and we're back into an office, open office plan again. Leon (32:46): Right. And you don't even have cube walls, even half cube walls. It's just the whole office, an open office plan Yechiel (32:55): if your coworkers were jumping all over the place and fighting at the top of their lungs. But, um, but yeah, but okay. Obviously once schools are open and you know, the kids are out. I love to stay back at home, but I also realize that I'm not the only type of person around. And I know many of my friends who are not introverts or some of them are introverts, but they still do need that human interaction that you get at an office with other people. So I'm not so worried that physical brick and mortar offices will be going out of business anytime soon. Ben (33:31): No. And, and I think, uh, two points, one, when it comes to this whole introvert extrovert thing, at least in my experience, a lot of people in tech, uh, lean more towards the introverted side of the fence. I'm kind of more extroverted. I can walk into a room of 10 people and I co I can walk out with 20 friends. Um, but also on the flip side were, we were just talking about earlier about having virtual conferences. You know, companies might see the savings that they're having by not producing these large in-person shows and think, Oh, maybe we can do that again. But hopefully they see the power that comes from having people there. Same thing as we're for home. Yeah, it's great for a few days. Uh, but sometimes you can hash things out with a whiteboard and having all the key players, all your key stakeholders in that physical room. You know, there's no audio interference. There's no lag of webcams. There's none of that. Oh, can you see my screen now? Yechiel (34:38): Can you hear me. Ben (34:39): exactly Leon (34:41): No, what, why, but, Oh, sorry. No, you go ahead. Ben (34:51): Having that opportunity to meet in person I think will, will stay, uh, in place now, hopefully some employees that are, you know, companies that are more butt in seat compared to allowing remote work. Hopefully they can see some of the benefit of allowing some of their employees one, two days a week from work in home. But personally, I work from home two days a week and I look forward to the office three days a week. Leon (35:16): Yeah. I think, my hope is that, uh, offices realize that work from home, telework, is a both and not an either or decision that, um, maybe instead of this, this lockdown one way or the other, there's some more flexibility that people can, can find in it. Um, and also I just wanted to comment that, that it's not necessarily been that there's a lot of people in it who are introvert in, you know, really sort of defined introverts. But I think a lot of the work that we do, and it tends to be somewhat solitary, tends to require a level of being, you know, in the zone to have that flow time. Uh, and so our work lends itself to not being in an office environment, not having the walk-by interruptions and distractions as much. But again, what we're talking about is flexibility to say, I've got some, I got to bang on some really difficult code. I'm going to go away, you know, or in my case I have to write a whole bunch of words. I have to, you know, crank out a couple of essays. I'm going to go away. I'm going to put myself in a quiet place where I can just focus on that versus I need to brainstorm. I need to bounce ideas off of people I need. Even if the people I'm talking to aren't the ones who I'm going to build something with, I just need the interaction to get the neurons firing and I want that option as well. Ben (36:47): Yeah. And I think that's interesting too. Uh, you know, I, I have a friend who sells who's a liquor sales person. They sell alcohol to clubs and stuff like that. So their job is very much out in the community making those sales again to our earlier point of supporting our sales staff. You know, they are having a much harder time right now than I am, because for me, I'm not getting pulled by the shoulder. The, Hey, come look at this real quick. Or Hey, I need you to do this real quick. Uh, IMs are a lot easier to ignore than somebody tapping on your cube wall., But for my friend, they are seriously, I mean it is not even stir crazy. They are just besides themselves, not knowing which way is up because their job is to get out in the community, sell their product, and they can't do that right now. Right? Leon (37:35): So that takes us, I think into the next and in the last major talking point that I want to hit tonight, which is what we hope for in the future. What we expect in the future. Um, you know, what we, what we wish and believe is coming. Um, and I'm gonna start this off with a thought that that sort of takes a, a sharp left turn. Last week there was a fairly large outcry in the Orthodox community, at least here in Cleveland. Why haven't the rabbis made a statement? Um, and it's more of a cultural thing, but the really great rabbis, the smart ones, the ones who are really on top of all, you know, all the information. Frequently wll come out with a statement, a direction that says, this is how we're going to approach this. And the statement can be very brief and say, do this. Or the statement could be very detailed and say, based on all these scriptural and commentaries and all these references, here's how I've come to this decision. So it can be any one or both of those. And so there's this outcry last week, why haven't the rabbis made a statement about what we should be doing? And the answer I heard was that from, from one of my rabbis, he said, I've been on the phone for a few hours this morning with several people and we talked over topics and concepts and we made some tentative plans. And by the time we hung up the phone, the situation had changed so much that nothing we decided on was valid anymore. Not a single thing that we discussed was relevant. So we can't. And what I got out of that was this absolute awareness of the power of their words that these great rabbis were very careful with their words because it wasn't just the, well, they could make a half statement that could say, well, we're still looking at it and we're thinking about it. Anything they said was going to cause a reaction of some kind. And so they were extremely stingy with their words to make sure that no one got the wrong impression and, and that left an impact. And I'm hoping, I really hope that people see this and they take it forwarded and have a, a recognition of it. Keith (39:55): Well that's definitely another podcast topic. But one of the things that I've noticed, just not in the religious world, but religious world in tech and business as well, words have power. As I'm expanding my little mini empire here at my business and I'm bringing on more people are starting to get frontline employees who, you know, their job is to do a thing. Keith, you hired me to be the DNS administrator and when I comment, And I say, man, wouldn't it be a wild idea that we, uh, be a secure DNS or some fancy new thing? They take that as gospel and start to run with it. And I'm like, no, no, no, no, no, no. That was just a big idea. And once you put words out there, it's really hard to pull them back in. Ben (40:47): Yeah, absolutely. I think, uh, the one hope I have that comes out of all this is that we as people, uh, put more emphasis on the sensitivity that words can have the power of our words and the choices of our words. You know, um, I have a service dog. I have a medical alert service dog is with me 24, seven, 365. Um, we've been together since September 20th at 1:30 PM is when I got her. Um, last week I went to the grocery store. Something that has always been sort of difficult for me to do with my anxiety and own, uh, spacial issues I have. Um, but I'm walking to the grocery store, um, and this was before all the real craziness set foot here in Pennsylvania. And this woman starts yelling at me and when I say yelling, I mean straight red face screaming at me. Ben (41:42): Why are you taking your dog into the store? Why you taking your dog into the store? And we've had some negative contact before with people that don't understand that my service dog is a highly trained dog. Um, it's not a pet, it's not an emotional support animal. She is physically here to help me with some physical elements I have, but she's yelling at me that my dog can carry the coronavirus. That is false. Dogs cannot carry the virus. Yes, the virus can live on their fur, on their leash, on their collar, but you deal with that, you wipe that stuff down, you clean it. Uh, dogs themselves cannot carry it. But this woman was just so hell bent that she saw this on Twitter or Facebook or whatever social outlet she was on, that she, that it's gospel to her, you know. And so the power of our words, you know, and also here in Pennsylvania, governor Tom Wolf, uh, on Monday, asked, not mandated, asked businesses that are not essential to close. It wasn't like the governor was said, Hey, you're closing down. Here comes martial law. And people took it as that. And the next day he had to go back on the record and say, look, that's not what I said. Here's what I said. Uh, because people just are, are not grasping what these words truly mean. So hopefully in a future when, when the next big thing comes down because let's face it, there is going to be the next big thing, whether it's a virus, uh, uh, natural disaster, whatever. It's, Leon (43:17): it's always something, it's always going to be something. Ben (43:19): Hopefully when that time comes, people are a little slower to choose their words. Leon (43:25): Yeah. And I think also actions, you know, people who choose to stay open when they've been told to stay closed or people who choose to go out and congregate when they've been told to, to shelter at home. And you know, also even just our consumption. I mean, you know, we, we've talked about it, we mentioned it early on, but the the whole toilet paper thing, like what, I just, I, I just wonder like where did that even start? Like why are people worried about the toilet of all the things, toilet paper? Like, I can see water, I can see food, I can see, you know, all that. So I can see, you know, corn chips or salsa. I can see a run on those things. Yeah. You know, and uh, but, but toilet paper, what's that about? Keith (44:15): Yeah, well it's, you know, it's human nature. We want to control the things we can't control. And one of the things that I've read is that for whatever reason, people have this sense of control when they say, you know what? Uh, and I've gotten into arguments with some good friends, like, you know, we live in Chicago and we have pretty great clean me water and you never bought bottled water, but yet you have cases in cases of bottled water. And it was that, that, you know, their response was, I'm prepared. And while it was completely irrational, it was just emotionally just something that they could do because they, you feel just a lack of complete control, which is really interesting cause we were on a religious podcast and that's, you know, we're, we're, we accept the fact that we're completely not in control in theory. Leon (45:07): Right. It's like it's a, yeah, it's all, it's, it's not in our hands, but I'm going to buy this toilet paper on it. Right. Yechiel (45:15): Yeah. Very good. And regarding toilet paper in particular, actually, uh, interestingly, and don't quote me on this because I don't remember where I saw it and I remember if, I think I remember seeing that in a previous, uh, emergency, I think in Hong Kong they did run out of toilet paper. So, and sort of that got ingrained in people's lizard brains. So the first, as soon as, as soon as like, you know, the pandemic hit, so it's like people's lizard brains automatically, their first response was got to get toilet paper. Leon (45:48): Well, I also wonder if it's just that that mob mentality, that scarcity syndrome that sets in and you see somebody grabbing a whole bunch of toilet paper and you think, Oh my gosh, that's, that's what everyone needs. And you know, there's a domino effect. Yechiel (46:01): Yeah, of course. I mean, you know, even if people's rush on toilet paper is irrational, the fact is that if they're rushing on toilet paper and next week I'm going to run out of toilet paper and there's not going to be any of the stores, I'm going to have a problem. Leon (46:15): Yeah, exactly. And I think that speaks to the larger concept of, again, like we should be careful with our words. We should be careful with our consumption. You know, that, that our consumption can affect other people in ways that we're not necessarily predicting. Ben (46:30): Yeah. And putting it back on the tech side, you know, bandwidth is such a, I mean, that's almost as valuable as toilet paper is right now. And when it come to tech, I would say bandwidth is the toilet paper of tech right now. Leon (46:44): Right. Ben (46:44): When you're looking at having your entire business. Yechiel (46:48): Didn't someone say that the internet was a series of tubes? Leon (46:52): I am absolutely quoting that. That's going to be one of the quotes with the podcast: "bandwidth is the toilet paper of the internet." Ben (47:01): But think about this, um, you know, having bandwidth is so critical right now because when your business, which could be as small as a few hundred or tens of thousands are now leveraging all the VPNs and all the WebEx, all the team chat spaces that they have, your bandwidth pipe shrinks considerably. So maybe consider when you have that WebEx meeting. You know what, turn off your cameras. I mean, let's face it, we're all working home. We're not getting dressed like we normally get dressed. Heck, you may not even be dressed. Leon (47:34): Okay. If that's the case, please do not turn your camera on. Yes, this goes back to common courtesy. Ben (47:41): So you know, bandwidth is very much at a premium right now. So keep that in mind when you're, if you're, if you're new to this whole business continuity thing and you're trying to figure out what your plans are. Think bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth. Leon (47:57): Well and I'll say, um, you know, we we're in tech, we say bandwidth and we think, you know, you know, physical, you know, internet, how many packets do I have? But there's also mental bandwidth. There's emotional bandwidth. There's, you know, there's a lot of people spinning a lot of plates in our office and sometimes the place that they're spinning are not only the things that, that they have to do for work, but also that they have their whole family around them. Yechiel, to your point, again, open office plan where your coworkers are, you know, sitting right next to you saying, "Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy." You know, there's, that has an impact. And being sensitive about not chewing up other people's psychological bandwidth, emotional bandwidth, um, their, their physical meaning time, bandwidth. You know, "I just want to check in. I just want to see how you're doing." "You know what, thanks so much. I really trying to deal right now." You know, that's fine. Some people do need to check in and I think that that's important to do. Back to our comment about community is say, "Hey, just want to make sure you're okay," but don't demand their time. Don't demand that conversation. Just make sure that they know that you're available if they need it. This has been a fantastic conversation, guys. Thank you so much for joining me tonight. I know it was sort of last minute, but we all had some things that we wanted to, to share and comment on with the current situation. Um, we hope that uh, this conversation has given the folks listening, a modicum of comfort and once again, if you need something, if you just need to talk or share, uh, feel free to reach out to us on any of the social media connections that we've listed above or wherever you find us. Speaker 5 (49:41): 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. Keith (49:54): Hey, you guys want to get together tomorrow? Ben (49:56): Sure. Let me send my WebEx link and then I gotta go wash my hands.

Mar 2020

49 min 59 sec

Prima Donnas. Attention-Seekers. RockStars. 10x Engineers. These are people who are driven to be (or at least be seen as) the best of the best, the cream of the crop. And maybe they are (and maybe they aren't). But the challenge is their NEED to be SEEN in that light. Whether we encounter them in the NOC or among the congregational flock, their behaviors can be distracting, disruptive, or downright toxic. Are there lessons we've learned from our IT tenures, our religious experiences, or even our sacred texts which might shine a light on how to handle (and even help) these folks to be better members of our community? Listen or read the transcript below. Leon (00:06): Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh, or at least not conflict, with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Doug (00:53): Prima donnas, attention seekers, rock stars, 10 X engineers. These are people who are driven to be, or at least to be seen as the best of the best, the cream of the crop. And maybe they are... Yechiel (01:08): And maybe they aren't, but the challenge is there need to be seen in that light, whether we encounter them in the NOC or among the congregational flock, their behaviors can be distracting, disruptive, or downright toxic. Ben (01:19): Are there lessons we've learned from our IT tenures, our religious experiences, or even our sacred texts, which might shine a light on how to handle - or even help - these folks to be members of our community? Leon (01:30): I'm Leon Adato and the other voices you're going to hear on this episode are my partners in podcasting crime, Doug Johnson. Doug (01:36): Hey! Leon (01:37): And also Yechiel Kalmenson. Yechiel (01:39): Hello again. Leon (01:40): And newcomer Ben Keen. Welcome to the show. Ben (01:42): Hey, thanks for having me guys. Appreciate it. Looking forward to this. Leon (01:45): No problem. We're looking forward to it too. I think it's a good topic. I think it's one that, um, a lot of folks in IT are sort of thinking about struggling with, but before we dive into it, we have a tradition here on Technically Religious of shameless self promotion of guests before anything else. So Ben being the newest member of, uh, of the speaker pool, why don't you go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself and how you identify religiously and all that stuff. Ben (02:09): Sure. Uh, my name is Ben Keen. I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I'm a senior system administrator, uh, self deemed monitoring engineer for one of the largest retailers in denim, American Eagle Outfitters. Uh, you can find me on Instagram and um, as Leon says, "the Twitters", uh, @the_Ben_keen. I am a United Methodist. I'm a son of a preacher and I identify myself more of a collective Christian, whereas I take things from all different kinds of religions and kind of bring into my own self. Leon (02:39): Um, okay. Doug, tell us about yourself. Doug (02:41): I'm Doug Johnson and the CTO for a startup called WaveRFID. We do inventory using RFID cooled tags and things like that. I'm actually not on social media. I got off of it. I'm on LinkedIn a little bit, but not very much. I don't even have a website or a blog that I want to promote. So that's just the way it, uh, I'm a born again, evangelical Christian. Leon (03:01): Practically a technical Luddite. Doug (03:03): But on purpose! Leon (03:04): On purpose, right. A purposeful Luddite. I don't know anybody who's an accidental Luddite. Actually. It takes effort these days. Um, okay. Yechiel, what about you? New Speaker (03:14): Yes, so, uh, I'm Yechiel Kalmenson. You can find me on the Twitters @YechielK. Um, I have a blog at and I'm an Orthodox Jew. New Speaker (03:23): Okay. And I'll square the circle here. Uh, I'm Leon Adato. I'm a Head Geek. Yes, that's my actual job title at SolarWinds, uh, which is neither solar nor wind because naming things is hard. You can find me on the Twitters, which we all say to annoy Keith Townsend's daughter. Um, you can find me there @LeonAdato. I blog and pontificate on things both technical and religious at And I also identify as Orthodox Jewish. And I wanna remind everyone who's listening that if you are scribbling those Twitter handles and websites down, madly, stop it. Just relax. Put your hands back on the wheel of the car or wherever you are listening to this because we're going to have show notes out the day after this podcast drops. So we have all the links of everything that we're talking about. You don't need to write things down. Um, as good IT folk. I think the first thing we want to do on this topic is define our terms. What do we mean when we say 'rockstar'? Doug (04:24): Well, Let's start with what's a real rockstar. I was a rock disc jockey, a celebrity, if you will, uh, for 11 years. And I met a lot of rock stars. Leon (04:34): I want to point out only because Doug and I grew up in the same city that Doug was the number one top rated drive time disc jockey at a particular point in time here in Cleveland. So when he says he's a celebrity, he really is. Doug (04:46): I also found out how much fun it is to be a celebrity. Not. Okay, but just the way it goes. But in any case, I met a lot of people and uh, met a lot of rock stars. And there are people, rock stars who are total jerks. They would, I mean come into the studio and they'd bounce all over the place and they'd scream and they'd throw stuff and you know, just make total jerks of themselves. And then there were other people who were real rock stars. I mean, they take somebody like Ainsley Dunbar. Ainsley Dunbar, so drummer for Jefferson Starship and Journey and John Mayall blues... And just tons of people. If you look on his Wikipedia page, he's played with everybody. I had lunch with him. Nicest guy we've ever, I mean, we just had a great time. Talked about everything and he was, but he's a real rock star. So you know, a rock star is basically somebody who can do their job on stage and take, take care of business. Leon (05:46): Okay. And I think that's definitely the, the good definition of it. But we also have that again, that negative definition, which is somebody who's, you know, attention seeking behavior, looking to push social limits in ways that often doesn't need to be pushed, you know, those kinds of things. So I think that's another part of it. Um, all right, so that's generally speaking, but what do we mean when we say a rock star in the world of tech and IT like what, what is, what does that typically mean? Yechiel (06:15): So I think in general, when people speak about rock stars, rock star developers, rock star engineers, um, it's all referred to in the business as the "genius asshole." This'll be like the person who can code in 20 languages who can solve lead code puzzles in their sleep. You know, you can spin up, you know, in 2000 line of lines of code application and over the weekend. But at the expense of not really being part of the team, um, to put it mildly, like their code will be extremely unreadable. They'll follow their own conventions, won't follow best practices. They'll solve things in brilliant ways, but very unconventional ways, like using really esoteric parts of whatever language they're using, um, which makes it really unreadable for people coming after them trying to maintain their code. Ben (07:06): Yeah. Or you've got the example of that new hire and it kind of comes in and joins the company and thinks that they are better, or know more than everybody else and comes to your desk, uh, where you are the subject matter expert, uh, not trying to glorify yourself, but you know your role. And they come into your cube trying to tell you how they would do your job better. Uh, and not really giving any good fruit to bear from that interaction. But on the flip side of that, you also have those people that joined a team, bring their skill sets to the, to the table to teach people how to fish. You know, like you could sit down with that Linux engineer, that windows engineer and they can show you what their experience has brought, brought them to this floor and teach it to others. Yechiel (07:52): Yeah, I mean, rock star is not necessarily a bad thing. There are some rock stars who are really humble and personable. Um, I like saying a lot. I don't remember who I heard this from and I really feel bad because I use it a lot. And they really want to give credit. Um, but I heard someone say that "a 10x engineer is not someone who can produce 10 times more code than other people, rather 10 X engineers. Someone who brings up 10 other engineers to their level." Doug (08:20): Eric Elliott, JavaScript guy. He's, he said that, I don't know if he's the first one to say it, but, Yechiel (08:24): Oh well thank you. Leon (08:27): There we go. So credit where credit is due because you are both wrong and you know when to give credit, Yechiel (08:32): but the good ones, Leon (08:33): Right! The good kind. Exactly. Um, so on the, on the bad side, I remember, so this is tech, but it's not IT tech. Um, way back in the day when I was working in theater, one of the people that I knew got a job building the, a chandelier for "Phantom of the Opera" when it opened on Broadway. Okay. So those people who know the show, the chandelier comes crashing down and has to be rebuilt after every show. And he built it in such a way that he was the only one who could figure out how to put it back together. And he basically got himself, you know, 'forever work' on that show because he built it in a way that no one else, you know, could, could manage. And that's, that's not okay. It's one thing when you say, "This is so complicated that most people just can't figure it out because it's so hard." But it's another thing when you purposely build something, whether it's code or a chandelier, in a way that no one's just ever going to figure it out because it's a special puzzle that only, I know. Doug (09:32): It almost feels like the bad rock stars in tech want a bus factor of one. Right. I mean think about it. I mean the whole thing is. ... Leon (09:41): (laughing) I just love that: "bus factor of one." Okay. Yeah. Yechiel (09:45): Yeah, it's job security. Doug (09:46): It is, but I mean, it's just wrong. It's bad for the team. It's bad for everybody. I mean, when you reach my age, you realize that you don't want me to be your bus factor of one. Bad things could happen to me tomorrow. Who knows? It's just, you know, it. But I bet I get the impression that there are rock stars that they considered themselves the, the bus factor. If it wasn't for them, it would all fall apart. Leon (10:07): Right. Well, and I've, I've always told people who are in that position, right? Like, Oh no, I'm the only who can do this. This is just remember "Irreplaceable is unpromotable," you know, so if you want to be, if you want to be the one person, like, okay, but you ain't never go into her and right. You know, if you win the lottery, because that's the only, you know, I, I don't like the other examples, you know, look, if I win a lottery, I love you guys. I mean it, I'm going to go buy an island, like I'm done. Right? So, you know, if you make it so that your leaving, you know, completely destroys an environment that's just not okay. Um, and I think that that idea of, you know, if you leave, it all falls apart. I think that takes us to a different aspect of it. You know, this being Technically Religious, we've talked about the technical, but I want to talk about the religious also that, that there are rock stars in the religious world. Now there's something that I say a lot and then yechiel you came up with a corollary. You know, I've said a couple of times on the show that no religion has found the cure for the common asshole. The flip side of that is that, um, nor has any religion taken out an exclusive patent for assholes. So you're going to find 'em everywhere. But I'm curious about what a rock star looks like in our religious life, like in the pews and the, you know, in our church or synagogue or place of worship. What, how does that manifest? Doug (11:26): Well in, in Christianity there's, um, there are people who essentially set themselves up to go ahead and be the whole ministry. I mean, they are, the central chore, it all hangs on them and, and because this Christianity of course they, uh, you know, they come across as very humble. They, they, they of course, you know, you, you need to be humble. But they are so that they're more humble than you'll ever think of being. Um, and so of course they're rock stars and you know, that they can build a whole, the whole ministry ends up, uh, being built around them. In fact, there are ministries that are named after people that you realize that they haven't done anything to, uh, effectively take care of that bus factor. If something happened to them, their ministry is gone. Whereas there are other ministries that are continuing on. Billy Graham ministries is still doing work even though his name is on it, but he's dead and it's still, he built an organization in such a way that it could continue on after he was no longer able to do the work. Leon (12:40): Warren buffet this week came out with a message they did their annual message, you know, for Berkshire Hathaway. And one of the things like nine words that caught everyone's attention was "we are already well positioned for our departure." Meaning that Warren Buffett and his partner, his partner is 96 year old one. Warren Buffett is like 86, 87 something like that. Like they know that eventually they're not going to be in that company and they've already, you know, they've dealt with it. They just haven't made a big deal about it. But yeah, that kind of thing. Doug (13:13): There are rock stars in Christianity. Worship leaders have to be up front. I mean it just, that's the whole concept of being a worship leaders. You're getting everybody to come along, but not everybody who is a worship leader, uh, is leading the congregation. They're basic. They're, they're actually looking more to have the spotlight on themselves. It can, it can go either way. Ben (13:36): And on top of that, you take away from the leader, whether it's the pastor, the lay leader, whoever's leading the worship, and then you flip the camera over to the pews and you see those people who... And no judgment of how you worship. If you're, if you're motive, which means raising your hands and waving of them around and stuff like that. If that's your way of communicating with your, with who you call God, all the power to you. But when you take those actions and you just start making it a show to bring the light upon yourself, you're, you're really missing the message. You know? Uh, we're supposed to be bringing message in light upon who we refer to as our God, not ourselves. And there's a lot of same people that not, but five minutes later or in the parking lot honking their horns, flipping you off, calling you all sorts names for cutting them off, but they didn't spend an hour talking about how great Jesus, how in tune they are with their religion. And then five minutes later it's gone. Leon (14:33): Yeah. I've, I've seen that. So Yom Kippur is one of the most intense holidays in the Jewish calendar. Um, it's a day where you fast for 25 hours. It's uh, it, it again, it's really intense and at the end of it, uh, people want to go home, they want to get a bite to eat and I've watched people cut other people off and scream words and stuff like that. Like you just had, it was the high point of the entire year and here you go. Like this is not our finest moment, Ben (15:01): That one hour. You know, you got to carry that forward if you want to, if you want to be seen as the rock star, that carries with you. Leon (15:10): So just as an interesting point of sort of cultural comparison in Judaism, the, the leader of the congregation, the rabbi is often not doing anything. That the job of running the service often falls to just people in the room. And it is fairly participatory in the sense that in many congregations someone will look around the room and say, "do you want to do the next part?" Do you want to do the next part? And in some places it goes around paragraph by paragraph in some parts of the service, um, you know, throwing things around. Certain people have certain jobs simply for consistency sake or because it requires a little bit extra preparation. Um, but that's, you know, th Doug, your point of having a worship leader doesn't always exist there. However, I've seen that in the smaller congregations, in the startup congregations, in Judaism, it usually revolves around one or two people who have a key collection of skills because it is... You've got to be fluent in Hebrew. If you got to be fluent with the music, you've got to be fluent with the different variations of weekday, morning, afternoon, evening services versus, you know, the Sabbath war and versus a holiday of which there are 9,362 I think Yechiel, you can correct me if I'm off by one or two on that one. Um, you know, there's a lot and every single time there's a variation, there's something extra that you say or don't say. And so the person who has the, you know, again, it's a unique collection of skills. So there's not always a group of people. There might be one person who's, "no, no, no, I've got this one!" Yechiel (16:46): Even in larger congregations, I don't think we are completely rock star immune. Um, you will have those people who are more, you know, to Ben's point, it's more about the show and appearing more religious than everyone else and more devout than everyone else. You know, I've been to congregations where the prayer is basically a contest of who could finish last and it goes to ridiculous lengths. Leon (17:09): I'm in really fast car creations where it's like, you know, "can we get it done in 20 minutes?" And it makes me nuts. Yechiel (17:14): It's like the 6:20 minyan. Uh, yeah. The one like the first where people actually have jobs, pray at. So yeah, they're trying to finish as quick as possible, but you have those where, um, you know, they're just closing their eyes and waving their fists and you know, going, yeah, like Ben said, you know, it's not exclusive to Christianity. Leon (17:34): Yeah. I've also seen people, um, I love this where they are trying to lead from the rear. Where the person who is leading the prayers, again, it goes, you know, around the room, somebody is invited up to lead this part and somebody in the room thinks that they're not doing the job that ought to be done and so going to do it for them from their position, seven rows back. They're going to sing louder, they're going to pray louder. They're going to let you know that they're done with this part of the, you know, of the prayer and you should be now too, kind of thing. And it's just not the most gracious moments when you're trying to have a prayerful experience when trying to connect with the divine. Those are some examples of, of what we mean when we say rock star, what do "they" mean? Like this is what we mean. These are our examples. But there's, there's a different collection of "they". So we have to do, as we talked about the "they" and then and say, what is it that they mean when they say rock star, when you encounter the word rockstar in the wild, what are they talking to? Doug (18:30): One of the first places that I have seen it and seen it repeatedly is in, uh, in tech ads. Uh, I mean those of us who do dev work, you know, we move around a little bit. Sometimes you're doing consulting you're doing or, or you'll come onto a project for a while, just you move a lot. So you read a lot of dev ads and just a lot of people who are running these job postings are looking for "rock star programmers." And, and, and as a matter of fact these days, if I see that I'm out, I mean, if they're looking for a rock star, I, I just know I'm not going to want to go ahead and have anything to do with them. Because either they don't know what they're talking about or, um, they have really unrealistic expectations of what somebody is going to be able to do. But it just comes down to there's, there's, you know, they're, they're the, the, the big companies that think they need to ask for rockstar programmers so they can get the cool kids to go ahead and apply to their job. Um, and then there are the, the startups, the young bro startups that actually, you know, they believe that. They, they think being a rock star is a cool thing and, and, and they're going to go ahead and they want to have other rock stars to be working with them so they can all just be a bunch of rock stars. And have a rock band or something. I have no idea. It just makes no sense to me at all. Leon (19:54): Acer was founded on the idea that everybody they hired got straight A's in college. Like that was their shtick for a little while. Doug (20:02): I was going to say it probably didn't last very long. Did it? New Speaker (20:07): I wonder if they're still around? New Speaker (20:07): My favorite quote for that is the, the A students are managed by the B students, uh, who are work for the company owned by the C students. Ben (20:15): Well, I think, and going back to who "they" are, uh, you know, you have those people that make their resume or their, their social media profile on LinkedIn or whatever, where they labeled themselves rock star. And this isn't about your, you selling yourself. Obviously when you're looking for a job, you need to sell yourself to your possible, to the employer as a, as a candidate because you're going up against five, 10, 15 other people. So you want to make yourself stand out. But it's those people that are just so about them. Um, you know, I know personally when I interview, uh, one of the hardest things, so I served eight and half years in the military, right. And, um, so one of the things I found hard to do was really to justify myself because in the military, it's team, you know, as a team, we did this, we did that, you know, so when I first got out and I was talking to a possible, you know, possible places of employment, they're like, "Well, what did you do?" I was like, well, "we..." You know, and they're like, "no, no. What did you do?" And you know, you got to kind of learn how to promote yourself without overdoing it and becoming that rock star. Yechiel (21:26): Although when someone does write rock star in their profile, it's worth paying attention to what they actually mean with that because, and this is true, someone actually wrote a language called "rockstar" just so that they can call themselves a "rockstar engineer." It's an actual programming language that compiles. Leon (21:41): If you want to find it. We were all laughing about it before we started the show Um, so if you, too, want to be a rock star programmer, uh, you can do that in all humility. You can be humble while saying that you're a rockstar programmer. Um, and Yechiel, you were saying that, uh, some of the programming terms where they use like lyrics of songs. Yechiel (22:03): Yeah, the syntax is all rock lyrics. Doug (22:05): I do have to say that I, the best title I was ever given, and it's not quite as good as Leon's "Head Geek", but an a year before I left this job, I was also, I was a sales engineer forever. And when they could tell I was starting to get somewhat dissatisfied, a new box of cards showed up and my new title was "solution visionary." Everyone (22:26): OOOOOOOhhhhhhhh!!! Doug (22:26): So that's on my LinkedIn page now even, but I didn't do it for myself. Leon (22:31): Um, yeah, it's like nicknames. I don't know that you can give yourself those nicknames. If somebody else gives it to you, then you could sort of wear it with pride but also like nicknames. It only works for a particular group of friends. You know that with this group of friends, you're "stinky" and this other group of friends, maybe your, you know, "home run" or whatever, but, but you, you can't introduce yourself and just decide that that's what you're... Yechiel (22:54): And someone out of the group of friends can't just go over." Hey stinky." Leon (22:59): Okay. So having talked about, you know, again defined our terms. I think the bigger question is, um, you know, how do we deal with people who either see themselves as rock stars or, or are in that position? Like what are some things, some actual strategies that we can have to work with, deal with, interact with? Like, what can we do there? Doug (23:21): Going back to what Ben said about the military all being about team, you actually can go ahead and, uh, build up the team that you're on, um, in such a way to, uh, give you strength in numbers against the rock star if they really are being a jerk type rock star. I mean, in essence I've come into, I've come into situations where there was a rock star architect, whoever it was that just, you know, was making everybody miserable. And everybody on the team was so cowed that they just, nobody would stand up that nobody wanted to, you know, put their head up and get nailed by this guy. Um, I've been at this long enough that, and I've got enough people that don't like me in the world. I have no trouble with people now. So I would go ahead and, you know, start building up the team so that they, they kind of see that it was all right if everybody on the team thinks this is a bad idea, even if the rock star doesn't, if everybody on the team and you sort of build the whole idea of team, you can sort of mute the, uh, the, the, uh, power of the rock star by the numbers of everybody trying to accomplish things together as a team. Ben (24:32): Well, in my case, you know, dealing with, um, uh, you know, you have those people you're in your work face that are like, "I fixed it" person or "that's my fix" or uh, the ones that say, "Oh, I'm sure you were thankful that I was around today." Um, but you know, as a Christian growing up, I was always taught the importance of group over self. Uh, the aspect that where you are only as strong as the weakest link. Um, and that permeated through my eight and a half years of being in the military, whether it was being deployed to Iraq or, uh, sitting stateside, wherever it was. You know, a story about Iraq, you might remember the story of Geraldo Rivera, uh, who literally, uh, destroyed a mission by drawing stuff in the sand because he wanted to be the rock star. Um, people in the military can relate to the term PT stud. That's someone that can continuously do a 300 PT score in the army. Uh, that's the old PT tests. I'm not familiar with the new ones, so don't hold me to that. Uh, or the weapons guy that the pers, the person that can go out and just knock down 40 out of 40 targets every single time. Some of these people are very humble about it, you know, they put in the work to hit those scores. Uh, so you deal with them one way, but dealing with a person that kinda comes in and is arrogant about it, you really need to kind of either mentor them down or leave them to their own devices and eventually, you know, Darwinism takes effect almost. It just works itself out. Leon (26:04): Right. And that's one of the things that, that I've, I've done, you know, not as not in a management role but as a, somebody on a team is that I think that rope can be a really, um, interesting correction corrective service to apply. And what I mean by that. Doug (26:21): You tie them up and throw them in the closet? Leon (26:22): Yeah, no, that's exactly not it. No, blanket party. None of those things. Um, but what you do is you find, you know, as you're talking about things as a team, you find those projects that are perfect for lone wolf. You know, that, that one person can go off and you say this would be great for Alfred to do. (No offense to anyone who was named Alfred.) Um, you know, this would be, this would be fantastic for this to do. Why don't they do that? Because then they can go off and be the rock star and one of two things are gonna happen. Either it's going to be amazing and they're going to get all the attention that they need and crave and it's going to be good for the company and reflect well on the team. But it hasn't pulled anybody away from what they were doing. It gets that person completely out of your hair. Or if the person is that self inflated but doesn't actually have the skills that they think they do, kind of rockstar, then it's going to expose it in a way that doesn't put anyone else on the team at risk. So as a team, when you see those, those project opportunities, those, you know, whether it's a subcomponent of what you're working on or whatever and say, "Oh, this is something that, you know, again, Alford can do all on his own." You know, those are the things that you keep on offering up, um, to get them out of the way or to, you know, either temporarily or, or longterm. Um, I also think it's interesting in the Jewish tradition, there's a story about we should, how we should always walk around with two slips of paper, one in each pocket. And on one sip of paper it says, um, you know, "for me the world was created." And on the other slip of paper it says, "I am nothing but dust and ashes." And that we stand in the mid point between those and that in any given moment, we might need to pull out one slip of paper or the other. And that's, you know, obviously that's to keep ourselves humble. That's to keep ourselves, uh, in check. But I also think that there's a way to have that kind of conversation with the people who see themselves as rock stars is, is to continue to inject that, um, that thinking or that, that frame of reference, uh, along the way. So that's tech. However, I think that in our religious life, there's, you know, we encounter those rock stars. We've talked about it before. But I also think it's interesting because in our religious texts we run into rock stars. So I wonder if you have any thoughts about, you know, and as you are wandering through the pages of your faith and you hit a rock star, like what, what do you do? What does your religion do? How do you, how do you react with that? Cause we might find lessons that we can carry over into our daily life there. Yechiel (29:05): So yeah, and a sense we said they were like good rock stars and bad rock stars. And we definitely find both. And religious texts, for example, um, I would say like the number one rock star in the Jewish religion is Moses who led the Jewish people. And yet we, the one point that keeps coming over and over is his humility. Like from the beginning where he's arguing with God, like he does not want to do it. He's really reluctant to take on the, the, the leadership and all through the end where he's constantly putting himself out, you know, putting himself between God and the Jewish people to protect them and shield them from their own mistakes. Leon (29:45): Right. And, and, and the, the Torah ends saying, no human will ever walk the face of the earth that is as humble as Moses. Like it, that point just keeps getting driven home. So yeah, that's a pretty strong point. Yechiel (29:58): But then of course you have the other end. Uh, you have people like Pharaoh or like Cicera. Um, in fact, the Pharaoh is described in Ezekiel. As someone who says, "לִ֥י יְאֹרִ֖י וַאֲנִ֥י עֲשִׂיתִֽנִי" Li y'ori va'ani asisani" Te Nile is mine. And I have created myself." Meaning someone who feels like he doesn't need anyone. He's self-made. He's created himself essentially. And he doesn't need, you know, to hell with anyone else. Leon (30:23): Right. And, and we all know how Pharaoh worked out in the end. So that's again, a good cautionary tale. I also think that as we're reading, as we're reading our religious text, one of the things that, that strikes me is how in some cases incapable and in some cases unqualified, the people who are doing these amazing things are. I mean, um, you've got, you know, Jacob, who's, who's considered, you know, the, the, the Prince of Truth. And yet he was, it was kind of a liar. A lot. Or you've got Joseph, uh, who's considered, you know, a tzadik, a righteous man, but he was kind of narcissistic for a lot of the narrative. Um, and that's even if you ignore the Broadway play and the technicolor dream coat and all that stuff that, you know, he's, he really wasn't, he was probably kind of a little bit much to have to, you know, have dinner with sometimes. And I feel like a lot of times the underlying message is that God isn't picking people because they are super competent. God is picking people who are the least likely to have been able to achieve this on their own. Just to drive the point home. Again, Yechiel your point. You know, Moshe... Moses didn't want that job. He fought against it. And you know, I think that at the time people are like, "Who's going to lead us?" "Moses." "What?!? What are you talking about? that's like... Could you have picked anybody worse for this job than that?" No, I actually couldn't have picked anybody worse. That's why I did it. Yechiel (31:57): Yeah. And specifically about Moshe, um, I read one of the commentaries, I forgot which one right at the moment. Um, he had, like a very heavy stutter, um, to the point where, where he didn't actually speak to Pharaoh. He would speak to Aaron and Aaron would talk to Pharaoh and the reason why God chose someone with such a stutter was so that it would be sort of obvious that it wasn't Moses' doing it was God working through him. Leon (32:24): Yeah, and I think that you know, again in our religious life when you meet that that rock star, you know in in church, in the pews that the, the interesting thing is if you think, if you hold even an inkling, that God has somehow smiled down upon you to achieve or accomplish some particular thing, that's probably a really good indication that you suck. Doug (32:47): I mean we'll see. I mean in an on on the other side of the Testament divide, we've got the same thing. I mean most of, most of the people who are the leaders in early Christianity were not the ones that you would think of... Peter is the number one guy and he was a total jerk and he was like really impulsive and flip flopped all the time. I mean, it's just the worst to deal with. And nine times out of 10, Jesus is having to turn them in and just say, go "chill dude." You know what I mean? He went in in like two verses. He went from a, you know, God told me, "God told you that Peter", to "get you behind me. Satan." I mean really that, and that's two verses we go from God's talking to you and Oh yeah, apparently so Satan. So honestly Peter, just if it, if it hadn't been God, it wouldn't have happened. Leon (33:40): Um, okay. So those are, those are some ways to frame as you're reading scripture, as you're reading your religious text to remember that there's probably an underlying message that these people, for as great as the things that they achieved themselves, we're still flawed human beings. Were still, you know, walking around with their own struggles, which they sometimes overcame and sometimes didn't. Um, but bringing it back to real life again, you know, we've got people, we've got personalities in our religious communities and I wonder what are some things that we can do to interact with them, to deal with them, to, to, you know, how do you respond? Yechiel (34:19): I just roll my eyes and move on. Leon (34:21): Right, right, right. Exactly. And I think frequently that works. You know, the joke I always give is "Well, that's, that's when, you know, it's time to start a breakaway minyan..." You know, start your own congregation, which is going to be for, you know, guys 35 to 37 who drive Ford focuses because, you know, you have a, you have a congregation for every possible... Doug (34:39): Well, I've, I've found combinations of humor and um, scripture can be really helpful. I, um, I was... There, there was a number of years ago I was teaching a, a Bible study, uh, before church started. Um, and I was traveling 45 minutes to this church. It was a small church. I was supporting it and that kind of stuff. And one Sunday morning just everything went wrong. And I arrived, ten minutes late, teach my class and the elder - the main elder, the guy who kept everything going, the main guy - pulled me aside and basically reamed me a new one. Uh, and I said, okay, I've got a class to go teach. We'll talk about this later. Um, and went and taught my class and afterwards, afterwards I said, I'm going to take, take what you said, I'm going to go ahead and, uh, pray about it and I'm going to think about it and look at scripture and you know, we'll talk next week." And so as I was doing all that, I get down and I went back the next week. I said, "I went through all the scripture that I could find in. The only time I've found where somebody was arrived late was when there was this battle. And Saul was all set to go and Samuel arrive late. And Saul had gone ahead and done the, uh, had gone ahead and done the sacrifice. And the thing that I found interesting, my elder friend, is that Samuel, the guy who arrived late is not the one who got in trouble." And he apologized. And we moved forward and we became great friends as a result. Leon (36:09): There's a couple of things going on there. I mean, obviously there's the humor aspect, but I think also just asking, you know, if, if you have the ability to do that, to say, "What is it? That's, why do you feel like you have to carry this entire load?" I've been places where the people just thought that they were the only one who cared that much about it, that, you know, they didn't think that anybody else, you know, felt that strongly. And when you said, "No, actually several of us do." And so if they're, you know, let's, how about I take this part and you take that part or you know, you, you can sit back. I've had people who, who literally ran the entire service, but when we asked them, said, "I really wish I could do nothing. I'd like to just show up and be a participant." And they meant it. They weren't being, it wasn't false humility. They really meant that they wanted to just be in the back, but they felt like if they didn't do it, no one was going to. And as soon as we were able to show them, no, so-and-so has got this and so and so has this and everyone has this and we certainly when you feel like it, we'd love you to participate but please do not feel like you have to. And that that was regulatory for everyone. Ben (37:24): And I think that speaks volumes too to taking it back to the workplace, pulling it up, you know, getting away from religion and going back to tech when you have a new hire comes to the company and kind of explain to them the culture of the company. You know, I've held a few different jobs as a contractor before landing my full time job now. Uh, so I worked for law firms, I worked for banks, I worked for small startup companies. I've worked for software development companies, uh, and now in retail. And the one thing I always found interesting going from company to company assignment to assignment was the different cultures. you know, the law firm was very black and white, very yes-no, very binary. Um, but here at American Eagle, it's a little more lax, you know? Um, so when you get that person that comes from that atmosphere where the rock star ism, if that is, that's not a word, if not I'll coin it. It, um, you know that rock star ism is almost bred into the culture. You know, when you look at a law firm that's a very intense, very go at it. Get what you get when you can get it type world. Compared to the world I live in now where it's very more a collective good, you know, you think when you see our jeans, you don't think it takes that much to sell them. But let me tell you behind every pair of jeans are the few hundred people you know. And if you have someone that comes in with that rockstar mentality that I am it and without me, the company fails, you're only going to see yourself a failure. But if you split, pull them aside very tactfully, very nice. Hey, look, this is our culture here. If they get the message and they change their ways, awesome. But if they're a complete jerk and don't change their way, well then there's other ways to sort that out through HR or just Darwinism at its finest and let it work itself out. Leon (39:19): Anybody have any final thoughts? They want to leave with everyone who's listening. Doug (39:22): If you're at a place with no rock stars, look around. It might be you. Everyone (39:27): Ooh! Ouch! Doug (39:27): Hey listen, I have to admit the place where I was also "solution visionary." We were at a show and they, the team brought me a bottle of "Arrogant Bastard Ale." Cause sometimes being right comes across as being arrogant. So, you know, it's, Ben (39:42): and I think that's the key takeaway. Uh, knowing the difference between being arrogant and being right. You know, having that ability to say, "yes, I know what I'm talking about." But having the ability to listen to key points from other people. What are the things I enjoy about being a monitor engineer is we leverage a product called SolarWinds, the exact same SolarWinds that Leon, uh, works on. Um, but we have a community online and there we can share ideas back and forth. My idea may not be the one that always goes forward as the best idea, but at least my idea went forward and it's a collective learning experience. So when you have that type of atmosphere, you'd... we pull each other up, you know, and that weekly becomes stronger and you can move on to the next. Speaker 7 (40:28): 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 us on social media. Doug (40:40): Hey guys, this was fun. You want to hang out tomorrow? Yechiel (40:43): What, with you nerds? I'm way too cool for that!

Mar 2020

40 min 46 sec

Did you ever wonder why IT diagrams always use a cloud to show an element where stuff goes in and comes out, but we're not 100% sure what happens inside? That was originally called a "TAMO Cloud" - which stood for "Then A Miracle Occurred". It indicated an area of tech that was inscruitable, but nevertheless something we saw as reliable and consistent in it's output. For IT pros who hold a strong religious, ethical, or moral point of view, our journey has had its own sort of TAMO Cloud - where grounded technology and lofty philosophical ideals blend in ways that can be anything from challenging to uplifting to humbling. In this series, we sit down with members of the IT community to explore their journeys - both technical and theological - and see what lessons we can glean from where they've been, where they are today, and where they see themselves in the future. This episode features my talk with friend and fellow SolarWinds aficionado Jez Marsh. Listen or read the transcript below. Leon: 00:06 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating, and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh, or at least not conflict, with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Leon: 00:53 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. My name is Leon Adato and the other voice you're going to hear on this episode is Jez Marsh. Jez: 01:44 Hello. Leon: 01:45 Hi there. Thank you so much for joining me today. Jez: 01:47 No problem. Leon: 01:48 Before we dive into the actual conversation here on technically religious, we'd like to do a little bit of shameless self promotion. So Jez, tell us a little bit about yourself. Jez: 01:57 All right. Well I'm the founder and principal consultant for Silverback Systems, which is a UK based, um, enterprise monitoring, professional service, uh, consultancy service, but specializing in the SolarWinds mindset. Yeah. Well, you know, uh, and that's basically how we got here, but we'll talk about that later. Um, my website is a either with an S or not. It'll work. Oh, sorry. HTTPS or HTTP. Either one will work. Um, and I suppose if I had to say for this podcast perspective how people would describe me. Ah, well I would describe myself as an agnostic. Leon: 02:35 Okay. And if people wanted to find you on social media, do you have a presence or have you completely issued that and just stayed away? Jez: 02:42 No, I uh, I burnt my Facebook account over two years ago cause I could see where that was going. But you can get me on Twitter. I'm @JezMarsh on Twitter. Um, and I'm also on LinkedIn if, uh, if you've got a business persuasion. Leon: 02:57 Got it. Okay. So I'll wrap it up just to make sure that we have like bookends, uh, with the social, with the shameless self promotion. My name is Leon Adato. I'm a Head Geek at SolarWinds. Yes, that's actually my job title and SolarWinds is neither solar nor wind. It's a monitoring vendor. And we'll probably end up talking about that a little bit on the podcast. You can find me on the Twitters, as the younguns like to say, @LeonAdato. I also blog at HTTP:// And I identify as Orthodox Jewish. And if you are scribbling all these things down, madly stop it. Just listen, relax and enjoy the ride because we're going to have show notes that'll have every link and everything that we talk about in there including a transcript. So you don't have to do that. So let's dive right in. I want to start with the technical. Um, and I want to start off with today. So what are you doing technically today? Describe the kind of work that you're doing and what a typical day looks like. Jez: 03:54 Well, as mentioned in the introduction, um, my business specializes in providing professional services to customers, either new or old of, uh, the SolarWinds platform. Uh, I look, I do a bit of dabbling and others, but SolarWinds is pretty much where I live. If you cut me, I bleed orange. A typical day for me really would be, um, dialing into a customer environment. Most of my work is remote these days because the is there, why not? And dealing with whatever I've got on my plate or whatever. Uh, part of the particular scope of work I have to do on that day. Uh, it's pretty frenetic. Uh, I mean my, uh, contract is with a specific customer right now until, until the summer. Uh, but there's always people asking me questions and I do like to be helpful. Leon: 04:46 Got it. And uh, for those people who aren't familiar with the SolarWinds ecosystem, Jez is very helpful over on Yes, that's actually the name of the website. What can I tell ya? Naming things is hard. Okay? SolarWinds, THWACK, it's just, it can be very difficult. So over on, Jez is part of the crowd of MVPs: Most Valuable Persons, who, uh, answer questions when he's not, uh, working with clients. And I presume that you were born again, bleeding orange, that you, uh, came out of your mother's womb already knowing all things about SolarWinds, uh, back in... No, probably. That's probably how it work. So where did you start off in tech? How did you get into it? Jez: 05:26 I guess there's a lot of, it started when I was very young, probably around about 10 or 11, my father brought me a, a Zenex Spectrum, 48K with the rubber keyboard back in the day. Um, and I saw, I learned very much at the beginning literally by going through the Input magazine. I don't know if you're familiar with that, but uh, it would over months and months and months it would give you all of the code to type in to get this program running. And back then there was no colorization there was underlining of the code to say if you've made a mistake. So yes, I did spend weeks typing things in and need to find, I had a typo somewhere and then having to try and find out where it is. It was a nightmare. But that's where it all started. So a hobbyist I suppose you could say. Speaker 6: 06:12 Um, at 10 years old it's, there's no like, it's not like you're a professional at 10, so we were ALL hobbyists with everything at 10, but okay, fine. You were not thinking of doing this professionally when you first started. Okay. Jez: 06:26 Like most people, I didn't really know what I was going to do. Um, funny story really. I went through school, got into secondary education, which is around about 16, 17 years old. Did well in the, what they call GCSEs over here, which is the, um, high school education, I guess, uh, in the States. Um, and then went to the next level, which is college, I guess for you guys. Um, and sat down on day one and the teacher said, "Okay, we're going to do, we're going to learn BASIC." And uh, and I put my hand up and I said, "We did that for GCSE. When are we going to learn something useful?" Right. I know that. Well, yeah, I know, I know. Right. And um, the teacher stood firm and said, "No, this is, this is the curriculum I decided to go with. So you either do this or you get out. "And they actually kicked me off the course. Right. So that, that was a huge, huge thing. But I was, even then, I was adamant that I wanted to learn. I didn't want to repeat what I needed to do. What I had done previously, I wanted to learn something new and keep going. And that's something that stayed with me. But anyway, coming back to where I started in IT... Leon: 07:32 I just want to clarify, the thing that stayed with you was, um, was standing firm and being useful, not speaking up and getting kicked out of places. Jez: 07:40 No, no, no. Yeah, I don't like getting kicked out of places. I, I tend to uh, stop there, you know? Okay. Leon: 07:47 Just making sure, you know. I like to say the biggest barrier to my employment is my personality. Jez: 07:53 But who could ever not employ you? Leon? Come on. Leon: 07:58 A few. Demonstrably a few people, but this is about you, not about me. So moving on. Jez: 08:05 Okay. So my first job was, um, working for a very small, um, it support type mom and pop store, but it was lifted just run by one guy. Um, so it was building PCs, um, changing toners, that sort of thing. Really basic stuff. So in the trenches, like most people start. Um, and then from there I went to other companies and did more advanced versions of the same thing. And then it went through a mat work for a managed service provider and so on and so on until, um, I made the decision back in 2015 to start my own business. Um, it was basically the, the, the managed service provider I was working with, they'd been bought out by another company. They had a slightly different direction for the operations side of it to, uh, how we were running things before we were bought out. And the effect of he made my role as the, uh, monitoring engineer redundant. Um, so they said you can go back and do third layer Microsoft support or, um, you can take the money in, roll the dice. And that's what I did. And it was a good decision cause you know, uh, this worked out for me and uh, uh, it was obviously the right decision, but it was brave man. I was, uh, I was really, really not sure what was going to happen. Leon: 09:21 It, you know, I know that a lot of the folks who listen either are running their own business or are thinking of it and In IT I think that that's a pretty common thought is, you know, "Why am I working for this other person when I could go out and hang up my own shingle?" And yet the intestinal fortitude that it requires to actually take that leap is PRETTY challenging. So a full full props for, for doing that. And like you said, it's worked out for you so far. Jez: 09:47 Yeah. So far touch wood. Leon: 09:50 Exactly. So, uh, so that's how you got from there to here is really just that steady IT tech progression. I want to turn things around now and talk about religiously at the top of the show you mentioned that you were agnostic and I'm going to guess that you weren't born into an agnostic family, that you probably started someplace else. So, uh, first I want to hear what does your religious ethical point of view look like today? Jez: 10:18 Well, I think it's more a case of believing in more than just the flesh and blood on the ground... procreating,. But having read and spent time with people of various religious beliefs, um, I can't hang my hat on any one. So I believe there's something and I respect everybody for their views, but I'm not ready to, uh, hang my colors on a particular one. Um, so definitely not an atheist. It's more a case of there's something, but I'll find out when I do, when I need to or if something makes itself known, shall we say. Leon: 11:00 Okay. And is that a, is that the prevailing attitude in the household? I know that, um, you have kids and uh, so I wasn't, is that the whole household? Was that your personal philosophy? Jez: 11:13 Personal philosophy? I would say. I would say the children, um, were, did spend some time with, uh, in a Baptist church because we have relatives that is, um, that, uh, I don't even know what's the right word. A, a lay preacher I suppose for, for the, for the church there. And um, yeah, we used to go there quite a bit. Sleep were very involving. They had a "messy church" thing where you could take the kids and they can have fun and you could also spend time talking to the people who actually go on a regular basis. Leon: 11:40 A messy church. I like, I like that terminology. We have, we have a messy church and the families are like, "Okay, we can be here. Like you don't have to worry about knocking things over." That's wonderful. I that that's a terminology that needs to get picked up by a lot of other places. I think. Jez: 11:56 Yeah. I mean, I think the idea behind it was that the children can go, um, and then they have, they have these, um, activities for them. So you paint something, uh, make a Christmas card or make whatever at that particular time. They have a number throughout the year. Um, and uh, my wife, again, Baptist orientated, uh, I know her grandmother on her father's side was, uh, very much, uh, a church goer on a regular basis. Um, but it didn't, didn't, uh, didn't stick with her. So I think the whole household, I believe, uh, are believers, but not specifically in any one thing. And I'm being very, um, open minded for my children's sake. They can do whatever they want. I'm not gonna make them follow me into one thing or the other, but that's not why I'm an agnostic. It's more a case of they make their own mind up is their own. It's their own journey. Leon: 12:54 Okay. Oh, so going back to something I said earlier, you probably were not born into an agnostic house. So how, how were you raised, you know, what was the house when you were growing up? Jez: 13:04 Okay. Um, my father's family are not religious really. They are, um, arms length Church of England, I would say. Uh, so, um, Protestants rather than Catholics and my mother, um, well, you know, may she rest in peace. Uh, she's no longer with us, but um, she had a difficult upbringing. She did spend some time living in a nunnery. Uh, but that was mainly because her parents walked out on her when she was very small. Um, so she was, she had a Bible, she had a, a prayer book. I've still actually got that somewhere that I made sure I had when she passed on because I can always remember her leafing through. It's got lots of paper, uh, newspaper clippings and stuff in it. And um, but you know, she always went to midnight mass and then the local in the local Protestant churches. And uh, I would sometimes go with her to support her, but my father never did. Um, so I suppose the growing up the family weren't really practicing any particular religion, but they were, I suppose if you had to say they were Christian. Leon: 14:13 Okay. And then the question, similar to the technical conversation we had earlier, so how, how exactly was your progression or your journey from, you know, "there" in that, you know, generally Christian identifying family into where you are today. Were there any, were there any, you know, specific moments or milestones that you said, "Okay, this is, this is what I am now?" Jez: 14:37 Well, I suppose I've always had a bit of a liberal bent, um, myself and some of the, some of the decisions of the Catholic church or sorry, the, the Protestant church where there, no, at the time anyway, when I was growing up, no, uh, no, no female priests and so on and so forth and their ideas of, you know, like, uh, 'LGBT is wrong' or that sort of stuff. So back then I thought, well, you know, at the end of the day, if there is one God and He supports everybody no matter what color you are, what creed, no matter what, then why are you kind of saying no to that? That doesn't make any sense. So I think it started there when I realized that there are some people who were effectively excluded. And from there I just thought, well, there's definitely something, but I'm not happy with that label. So I'm just gonna bump along on my own. Leon: 15:25 Okay. Nope, fair enough. Okay, good. So, given that fairly, you know, I'm going to say wide open worldview of religion, um, and your long time career in tech. I'm curious if there were ever any points where the two came into conflict where you found that the technical work that you were doing and your particular ethical, moral point of view were somehow um, you know, creating a challenge for you? Jez: 15:52 Uh, it's when I was working with the MSP, um, or managed service provider for those who aren't a technical bent listening to this, um, there were a number of customers that we were supporting who were uh, aggressive investment bankers, uh, to the point where they would - there's nothing wrong with that per se - but it was more a case of the way in which their businesses bought other businesses, pare them down to the nth degree and then sold them at a profit. And I didn't like supporting that sort of behavior cause there are people who are going to suffer. And I found out a few years down the line that does actually exactly what happens! But yeah, I mean, but ultimately my job is to put, to support the customer. Um, and whether I don't agree with it morally, um, I couldn't afford not to support them. So that was the, my job, you know, my team had that customer and we had to support them. Leon: 16:45 So on the flip side of that, were there ever any moments where, you know, your, again, your moral, ethical point of view created a benefit or a positive that you weren't expecting but sort of, you know, came up and you realized with some surprise that "Hey, wow, this really worked out well"? Jez: 17:00 Well, I suppose putting myself out before the children were born. Um, we had a number of people who on the 24 hour rotation that we had at the MSP weren't able to work for whatever reason. And you know, and I stepped up and covered the shifts for them. And it meant that those people could have their time with their family cause they needed it. Because there was one occasion where somebody whose parents weren't very well in other occasions where the children weren't well. And whilst, you know, I knew that effectively I was missing out time with my family. I wasn't married at the time. Uh, it was my, my, uh, my parents and my sister. Um, I felt it was important that I could give something to them and help them in a time of need. So ultimately it's more a case of being flexible and I suppose being agnostic means you can afford to be flexible because... Leon: 17:47 Right. You don't have quite as much of a dog in the, when it comes to, uh, you know, specific holidays and things like that. Jez: 17:54 Yeah. I mean, obviously now I have children, it's a little bit different. Um, but, uh, you know, I still have respect. Like for example, my, uh, my eldest daughter has a friend who is from an Indian family and they celebrate Diwali and all the rest of it, and they include a, include her in that and I'm completely happy with that. Whereas potentially I may not have been if I had actually hang my colors somewhere else. Leon: 18:17 All right. So any final thoughts? Anything you want people to think about or, or ponder as we finish up this episode? Jez: 18:24 I suppose in this time of potential problems in the Middle East, um, ultimately everybody deserves to have a life. Um, and don't look down on those simply because they don't have the same outlook or religion as yourself. Everybody needs to have food and water for their children. Speaker 3: 18:44 Jez, thank you so much for taking a few moments out of your, uh, this is actually the end of your holiday, so thanks for carving out some time in and talking to us. Jez: 18:53 Not a problem. Anytime. Leon, happy to be here. Leon: 18:56 Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of technically religious visit our website, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect to us on social media.  

Feb 2020

19 min 8 sec

Last year we started to dig into the idea of what it’s like to be an IT professional with a strong religious, ethical, or moral point of view, who is also a parent. In that episode we discussed some of the concerns we have with technology, and how we get around those concerns. But like most topics in tech, there is a lot more to say. So today we’re revisiting this topic to extend and deepen the information we shared. In this podcast, Leon Adato, Keith Townsend, Al Rasheed, and Destiny Bertucci about parenting with a bible in one hand and a packet sniffer in the other. Listen or read the transcript for part 2, below. Leon: 00:06 Wlcome 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: 00:53 This is a continuation of the discussion we started last week. Thank you for coming back to join our conversation. Leon: 00:59 Okay, so I'll, I'll run down, uh, my setup, I'm using what, what I officially call pro-sumer. It's not really consumer. It's, it's in between professional and consumer equipment. Qustodio uh, sorry, Ubiquity, uh, network year, which, um, the, the security gateway that they provide, which you don't have to buy if you don't want to, you can actually run it - okay. really geeky - on a container. You can run it in a container or you can run it on a raspberry pi. Uh, that's what I'm doing. Or you can run it in a virtual machine or you can buy the security key and put it on your network. And that gives you actually NetFlow data. So you can not only tell how much bandwidth you're using, but you can tell by, uh, by source and destination. And so you can tell which device was accessing which targets at any given moment and see a breakdown, and see a breakdown by categories. You can see how much social media traffic, how much video, you know, YouTube or Netflix or Hulu traffic, et cetera. So that lets me see that. Um, it has allows me to create multiple networks so I can segregate my IOT devices. Again, Destiny, going back to the whole Ring and Wise camera thing, I can put those on a completely separate network, which doesn't fix the problems we were talking about, about them being hacked. But it does allow me to lock down those devices a lot more than I would my cell phones or the tablets in the house. I can have separate, you know, lockdowns and controls. Um, and unless you create filters, uh, whether they are access control lists or other kinds of filtering that you can do. Uh, I also have Qustodio on every device in the house. So every Tuesday. Destiny: 02:44 I used to use that. Leon: 02:44 Well you're the one that told me about it. Uh, so that's the one I'm using. Yeah. Qustodio on every cell phone, every tablet, every laptop. It even runs on Linux. Yay Linux! So I run that on everything. And that allows you to have per-user controls. It also lets you have really granular settings. Like I can say that my son is able to watch YouTube videos from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. And that's it. But he can watch, you know, Netflix or Hulu at different times. And the overall device usage is up to four hours a day and after four hours it shuts down. And you know, on Saturdays there's absolutely no usage until after sundown because obviously he shouldn't be using it. But Keith, to your point, temptation is temptation. You never know. So it lets you have really granular controls about the who, the what and the where that devices and that follows my kids everywhere they go that use the device. So it doesn't matter if they're inside my house or outside my house. Qustodio goes with them. And it does give you some other really nice benefits, like Destiny you told me about, uh, your daughter was in, uh, an accident and you knew immediately she couldn't tell you where she was, but her phone was able to tell you where it was and you were able to get there really quickly because you know, your daughter who was already sort of in crisis and not able to process the information, wasn't able to give over that information. So it has a lot of, Destiny: 04:16 Yeah, I got an alert immediately that something had happened and I had a kid see her GPS location, knew everything that was going on and I was already on my way to get her before she even found her phone. Leon: 04:27 So yeah, it's really, really good stuff. So Qustodio goes on every device. Ubiquity is the network gear. I have a little app called pi-hole, which will, uh, run on a Linux machine or you can run it again on a raspberry pi. It was meant for raspberry pi, hence the name pie hole. And what that does, it's, it's security, but it's also almost an internet speed up. It filters out, uh, spam ads that come into your house. They just never come into your house. The pie hole captures them. So you'll see a page and there's gonna be three ads you can see. And two, you can't because the two, you can't were span ads. So that speeds up the webpage. But it also means that there's a whole bunch of garbage that me and my kids are not even seeing. And that's on a element by element basis on every website. Destiny: 05:16 Which also protects you from the cyber attack. So... Leon: 05:19 okay, there you go. And, and finally, uh, OpenDNS or a Cisco Umbrella, depending what you would call it. And the benefit of Cisco umbrella. It's not just that it's a DNS protector, it's crowdsourced everybody who's using it. Every corporation, when, when the Umbrella system sees a bunch of attacks coming in from a particular IP address, Umbrella blacklists, it automatically, and nobody who is using Umbrella can get to that site. So if an enterprise is suddenly seeing a new cyber attack, you're not going to even get it because that IP address, that destination is automatically puts, you know, black holed, so you're never going to get there. So... Destiny: 06:01 And the cool thing about that, if you remember right when I was talking about this in Australia was the main thing that I loved about Cisco Umbrella is like SD-Wan, especially like the way that they're running their network and the way that they're testing and getting things done. Like you were saying on the blacklist and everything, you are getting that enterprise level new technology and new hacks that are coming to SD-Wan that you are getting prevented from as well. Leon: 06:25 And I will say that for the basic level it's free. Destiny: 06:28 Yup. And then you can get, you know, a little crazy with it, with your little cloud access, security blockers and everything. Leon: 06:33 I will say for those people who are interested in it, um, and again, you know, thinking about the Orthodox Jewish community which tends to go with whitelist only. So I can't get to any site that I haven't purposely white listed that, um, you're only, you can only have a certain number of white list items before you have to pay for it. But anyway, that's my setup. Um, what does everyone else have? Al: 06:52 I actually have something similar to what you just described. I'm just getting into Ubiquity, so I'm curious to learn more about it. Everybody speaks very highly of their products and their services, but I want to filter the content that's coming in or trying to go out. I want to be able to see what, uh, is being viewed online. And this way this can provide me with something to go back to whoever the guilty party is and say, look, this is why I'm here. This is why we implement this and this is why we're going to prevent it moving forward. Destiny: 07:23 So some of the things that I've also implemented, because obviously you know the Qustodio and everything in which that that I've set up before, but I've helped a lot of people use the Mobisip as well. But it also depends on what devices you like. Right? Like like if you have Kindles versus you know, iOS updates or if you have Android versus... There's different things that you can grab. But mobi, sip is one of the ones that I like for like a Windows / Apple kind of a household that you have. And I like setting that up, especially for teenagers because they can request like when they're like trying to do homework, like for health and it has to do with sex or something like that, it'll automatically go to my phone and I can look at the link, bring it up, see if I approve it and approve it from my phone. And it automatically allows them to start engaging with that content. So it's not like, you know something that's not very like quick, if that makes sense. Cause if they're in school using their laptop, cause here they get to use their own laptop or iPads or Kindles or things like that at school then it's something that I can easily like switch on and off. So much so to where even the school now is trying to implement that on their tablets because they were like "how did you do that?" But um, same thing is another product is Net Nanny. I don't know if you guys have heard of that, but net nanny as well. Those are some of the things that I've helped a lot of families set up on with those. A NetGear, they also have NetGear Armor. So here around in New Mexico, a lot of the free wear of which they give people. So a lot of the times, you know a lot of the people that are going to be on the internet will have NetGear. Right? It's usually a Nighthawk in this area and like you can get extenders and things of that nature. But it comes with something called NetArmor that can help you visually like be able to, to track and to do things and to block things at the actual router itself. Something that I do like about that product in the way that they have it set up though is that it's very user driven, if that makes sense. So like if you are new to it, as we were talking about earlier, protect your networks. It'll say "guest network: enable or not?", You just click the box and it'll disable it, right? So disabled that guest network if you're not using it and it'll ha so you can set up reminders, you can do dynamic QoS, like you can block people, you can do scheduling when you can shut down your network, shut it down per device, you know, things like that. But it's very user, um, uh, has a lot of user accessibility to it that I like because it's one of those things where if you're new to it and you're going to be given a router and you're going to be giving everything out of the box and "Here, welcome to the internet." Right? It's very step-by-step on how do I protect myself. And that's something that they've actually started doing in the past six months when they engage that NetArmor. So I think that NetGear is coming around and understanding that Hey there's people out there that don't know what they're doing per se to secure themselves in their home network. So let's see if we could make it wizard driven. Right? Cause anytime it's wizard driven it's fun. So those are some of the things and it comes with the device, right? So I think that it's one of those things that if you are listening and you have NetGear or if you have something that your provider, your ISP has given you to connect to the internet, make the phone call the tech support. Right? Like ask them "What's my username and password ?"if you don't already know it. Cause I know several people who have no idea and ask them, what did you set this up for? How do I log in? Okay cool. Let me turn off my guest network. Let me change my password, let me see what I have going on here. And they will walk you through those, but you can also Google it and figure it out just as much. But you, you have to be the proactive one to protect your fort, right? Like you have to want to protect yourself, which means you're going to have to understand and use the GUI, use the actual website, like dial into it, see what it's doing, look at those logs, set up your alerts, update it, right? Like set it to automatic updates so you get those security updates. So just so that you're implementing that basic cyber hygiene. Leon: 11:28 Right. And there's a few other points of, of that basic cyber hygiene I think that are worth talking about. Um, Al, you hinted at it earlier, but I want to hit it again. Uh, password managers: Period. End of sentence. Whether regardless of what device, regardless of what environment we're talking about, use a password manager for two reasons. First of all, that way you don't have to have everything set to the same password because your password manager will remember it. And two, closely to related. It will generate strong, secure passwords that you don't have to remember. And it will automatically input those passwords into all of your apps. And that is the number one attack vector for people who are trying to get your information is they'll just, you know... When you see in the news, Oh, there was a Amazon S3 bucket that had 2 million usernames and password hashes that were in there. What that means is they now have a library of 2 million people and their password that they say, "Oh, this person uses this password. They probably use it in a few places. Let me try it against this site, this site, this site." And suddenly they have their bank or they have your Facebook or they have your Instagram. And from there they can get into your this and your that and your other thing. And that's how people build an a, you know, an attack against a particular individual. And by the way, these things can all be automated. I think sometimes we think of hackers as "Well, who's really gonna worry about little old me." Nobody's going to worry about little old you. There's a bot for that. There's a, there's a machine that is automatically walking through those 2 million accounts and just running a whole set of predefined processes. And when it finally gets a hit and goes through every other possibility, it sends a report back to somebody and then they start digging. Al: 13:12 Right. And if I could add to it, a lot of people underestimate two factor authentication. It literally takes two minutes to set up and it saves you hours upon hours moving forward. Leon: 13:24 Yes. Everything. They can have two factor authentication, turn it on. Destiny: 13:29 And here's the thing, you have more information and this is statistically shown on your phone than you do in your home. Think about that. Used to, we used to keep files or mortgages or information or bank accounts or statements and everything in our house. You're all accessible from your phone and an application or a website. So if you have stored passwords, things like that and you're not changing them, you're kind of at a disadvantage anyway. And some of the things that me and you have talked about, Leon, especially, ESPECIALLY at conferences, is securing your line, encrypt your phone. I was like, we literally... me in Leon. We're in a conversation one day when the lady was like, "Oh, I don't care if they get my phone, who cares?" I was like, "Oh, I don't know. But if you pay attention over there, they're like literally going through everybody's photos and putting them on display because they can. And they're displaying your bank account that's overdrawn. So I don't know what to tell you right now. Feel like you should probably secure that." And it's those little things like, I mean, I use Avast Secure Line. I mean, it's like cheap for a year to use it. I can constantly connect it and it's encrypted the whole time. It constantly keeps me protected. My kids are that way as well because they're going to school and I'm sorry, but their school does not even have an IT person and like they're in an open network. I'm like, "no." This just isn't gonna work for me. So I, but it's one of those things where it's like you teach them to protect themselves and now they do it on their own. Like my kids will tell you if they see something that doesn't make sense, right? Cause you see something, you say something. And like if they get sent something from their teachers or like, cause now they're using third party applications are using Google drives, they're using all this stuff and people are sharing passwords and my daughter's like "you really shouldn't do that." Well then they found out that one of their friends got all their homework deleted, right? Like it's like they're seeing it in their daily transactions of school to where they are more ahead of changing passwords, not giving your information. Make sure you have more than a four digit code on your phone because they're have friends who break into them like they are figuring out the cyber waters way faster than most parents are right now. And that's, that's okay. But if you have that open forum or if you're having those conversations, you can actually help each other. Roddie: 15:47 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.

Feb 2020

15 min 59 sec

Last year we started to dig into the idea of what it’s like to be an IT professional with a strong religious, ethical, or moral point of view, who is also a parent. In that episode we discussed some of the concerns we have with technology, and how we get around those concerns. But like most topics in tech, there is a lot more to say. So today we’re revisiting this topic to extend and deepen the information we shared. In this podcast, Leon Adato, Keith Townsend, Al Rasheed, and Destiny Bertucci about parenting with a bible in one hand and a packet sniffer in the other. Listen or read the transcript below.   Leon: 00:06 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh, or at least not conflict, with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Leon: 00:53 Last year we started to dig into the idea of what it's like to be an it professional with a strong religious, ethical or moral point of view, who's also a parent. And that episode we discussed some of the concerns that we have with technology and how we get around them. But like most topics in tech, there's a lot more to say. So today we're revisiting this topic to extend and deepen the information that we shared. I'm Leon Adato and the other voices you're going to hear on this episode are some of my best friends and cherished colleagues, including Destiny Bertucci. Destiny: 01:22 Hello. Leon: 01:24 Keith Townsend. Keith: 01:26 Hey! Leon: 01:26 And Al Rasheed. Al: 01:27 Hello. Leon: 01:29 Before we dive into this, very important and also a big topic. I want to give everyone a chance for some shameless self promotion. So Destiny, why don't you kick off and tell us a little bit about yourself and where people can find you and how you identify religiously. Destiny: 01:44 I'm Destiny Bertucci. I'm one of the product managers for SolarWinds and you can find me on Twitter @Dez_Sayz with a Z, and I'm an evangelistic Christian. Leon: 01:54 Keith, how about you? Keith: 01:55 Hey, I'm Keith Townsend. I'm the cofounder of the CTO Advisor. You can find me on the Twitters @CTOAdvisor, and I am a nondenominational Christian. Leon: 02:09 Al. Al: 02:09 Hello. I am Al Rasheed. I am a federal contractor in the DC area. You could find me on Twitter @Al_rasheed. Also my blog is And I am a practicing Muslim. Leon: 02:22 Great. And just rounding things out. I'm Leon Adato, I'm one of the head geeks at SolarWinds. Yes. That's actually my job title. Head Geek and SolarWinds is neither solar nor wind. It's actually a monitoring software vendor because naming things apparently is hard. You can find me on the Twitters, which we all say because it annoys Keith's daughter to no end. @LeonAdato. I pontificate about things technical and religious at, and I identify as Orthodox Jewish. So we have a range of both religious and technical opinions on the episode today. And before we dive into the "how", because I know a lot of people listening are really hoping for the, you know, "how do I build my home network and how do I secure it? What software should I buy?" And we're going to get there. But first I think it's important, like any good IT project to define the scope, what is in and out of scope. So what are some things that we're not going to be talking about on the episode here? Keith: 03:21 So if you are, uh, you've gone to the airport, you've seen these, uh, amazing billboard ads for firewalls, we're not going to tell you how to configure a set of golden firewall rules for protecting your, your, the egress VPNs. And all of that... Leon: 03:40 Right? We're not going to tell you how to do your Palo Alto firewall, you know, uh, profiles and things like that. Keith: 03:47 I know a couple of the hardcore fans out there have a enterprise class firewall but that's not gonna... Leon: 03:52 At home? Destiny: 03:53 I may have a couple. Just a few. Leon: 03:56 Okay. But it's beyond scope again, beyond scope. If you have a Nexus in your basement, we're not going to talk about that. Uh, anything else that is that we're not discussing here? Keith: 04:07 So I think the other thing is if you have an active teenager who was, you know, going out and uh, you know, kind of, uh, defeating your, your, your, your protections, we'll talk about kind of repercussions to that, but not necessarily how to outpace your, uh, your, your geeky teen. Leon: 04:26 Yeah. If you are in a arms race, uh, and they're constantly finding ways to get around your firewall or get around the protections you've put in place, then that's sort of out of scope. And as I am fond of saying, there is no force on earth that is going to stop a horny teenage boy from searching for boobies on the internet. It's just, it's a losing proposition. What we're really gonna deal with are more the oopsies and also some other protective measures that you may not even be considering, but, but yeah, horny teens, we're not gonna stop them. That's out of scope. Keith: 05:00 Where was the internet when I was a teenager? Destiny: 05:01 Right? Yeah. I feel, I feel like the honeypots are still fun though for those. I always always like to tell them there's a great collection of old Playboy in the back. So as long as they can... as long as they can break in. Leon: 05:16 Yeah. Yeah. There you go. Um, but what we are going to talk about are things like, let's see, um, we're going to talk about filters, right? How to set up a filter on your house, uh, on your home internet. Right? What are some other things that we're going to talk about? Al: 05:27 Passwords, um, securing your passwords you discussed, um, you know, resetting them every so often. Um, not having an open network. I believe you all seen that discussed as well. Destiny: 05:40 Basically like cyber hygiene, right? Like, you know, let's, let's get rid of them guest networks. Let's go ahead and like kind of do our due diligence on protecting ourselves and realizing that the brick and the mortar house does not protect our internet, right? We gotta, we gotta get to take it to the ones and zeros and be able to put up those little blocks and we know that that can sometimes be a little intimidating, but we're going to try to make that a little bit easier. Plus we'll discuss some of the software, right? That is available as applications for your phones as well as your kids' laptops and things like that so that you can actually filter that out and see what they're doing, Leon: 06:13 Right. Um, aluminum siding is not, in fact a faraday cage. It's not going to keep the signal from leaving. Destiny: 06:18 I'm going to remove my foil hat right now. Keith: 06:22 I did just spend $1,000 on a fancy security door, so that, that HAS to help. Leon: 06:27 I don't know that that security door is doing. Uh, the security that you're implying here, but, okay, fair enough. All right. So, uh, so again, now that we've talked about what's in and out of scope, what, what are the problems that we're trying to solve? Um, so I'm going to start off and say that we're not talking about internet jail. Um, we're really talking about creating a, a healthy family environment and a healthy technical environment, uh, in your house as it relates to technology, the internet, cell phones and things like that. But that's what we're doing is, and we are going to talk about gear. I don't want to give you the impression, we're not going to talk about geek toys. We are gonna talk about hardware. Absolutely. But we're doing it with the intention of creating a positive environment where the internet can be seen as a useful and safe, uh, tool within the family structure. Whatever your, your moral, ethical or religious outlook is. Um, what are some other problems that we're going to address here? Destiny: 07:34 Think were going to be talking about like, you know, the effects of technology in today's world. A lot of the times the parents are trying to play catch up to what the kids are understanding and knowing and their social aspects and a lot of times parents don't understand why social media is such an integral part right of their life. And so we're going to try to see if we can bridge that gap while making them safe as you are talking about. So that's like self body image, right? That's like just basic things that we should do as cyber hygiene of our social media accounts. Let's not give out things that are so private that people could use against us. Let's not use things like that that are out there. So we just need to kind of like get those out there and put those into the mindset of parents and other people who may not have the knowledge so that they can actually relate that and understand with their kids a little bit better. Keith: 08:22 Yeah, and, uh, to piggyback on that. A lot of times we're focused on, especially as as religious people, we're focused on kind of the, the, the sexual parts of internet and making sure that we're protecting our kids from porn. You know, my 11 year old granddaughter came in, uh, this morning around this recording the, there's an awful lot going on in the middle East and my 11 year old granddaughter's teachers told her something very inaccurate around politically what can happen here in the U S if we're at war. And I'm like, "That's not true at all!" So while, you know, 11 year olds are at that point where they're very impressionable. They find people that they admire, such as teachers or people on YouTube that they, that looks fancy and well put together. And the next thing you know, they're coming in and arguing. "I know I've been to Australia, but the earth is flat for sure. Grandpa." Al: 09:24 I was just going to add, we're going to remind them that common sense most times I'm not prevails. And I think, and I know Keith has mentioned this as, as everybody else, what they see online is not always good. It's not positive, it's not the path that they should follow. And um, you know, when we reflect back on our times when we didn't have all these, all this technology, we didn't have the internet at our hands at all times. We, we just used, again, I can't say it enough common sense because we always knew what decision we made was going to have an action right behind it. Leon: 09:54 Great. And I also think that Destiny to your point, um, when we talk about the, the safety of the internet, you know, cyber hygiene, um, recently there were some really high profile moments that uh, parents who are geeks may be more familiar with, but if you're not in, you know, it feel, don't feel like you're part of the geeky spectrum. The Ring doorbells recently was a big deal where there was a $6 app that you could download from uh, the internet, a couple of different places and install and it would just tell you all of the open, unprotected. "Nobody changed their password" Ring doorbells and in the home devices and you could just hack right into them. And a wife came home, she heard a man's voice inside the house and thought that the house had been broken into. And after doing some, some investigation realized there was nobody in the house, but somebody was on there, uh, in indoor Ring speaker and it was making fun of the dog, which they could see. So there was a camera and a speaker that was talking to their own dog and the husband who happened to be two states away was having, was justifiably worried because he had no idea where that person was. They might be in the next driveway over on the actual home wifi, but they might not have been. And I think that there's, there's a lot of cases like that. Um, Destiny, you had a couple of stories recently in your neck of the woods. Destiny: 11:22 Yeah. So especially around the holiday times, birthdays, things of that nature. A lot of people get, you know, new technology that they're just not used to. And they assume that when they apply it into their application because their phone has a password - and I've heard this from several people - that they assume that that transfers over, right? Like, "okay, well I opened it up with my face ID. So obviously somebody has to have my face to be able to get into my Ring" or "they have to have my face to get into my Wise." And that's not true because they did not change the password when they were logging this in and getting things done. It's still an open password, right? Like it's one that you can Google today. It's just like if you have a Netgear or LinkSys anything of which that you want to do, you can Google what the standards are. You know, your, your standard capital P password one, you know, things like that. And that's fine and dandy and I get it that people don't quite translate that technology. But here's where it gets you in a bind. They start putting their cameras up in their playrooms. They start putting their cameras up, kind of like a monitoring system. Right? And we all know that monitoring systems for babies and things like that used to be hackable by a telephone, right? There's things like, just think about it. I always tell everybody if it has an operating system, it's hackable. I don't care what it is. All you need is time and motivation. So what people do with these is they can actually use your Ring door camera and they can see when you left, they can see if you're home and then you start adding them inside of your house and you don't change the password. Well now they can see where you're at located in the house, what your routine is in the house. They can see and gather, what's your daughter's name, what's her pet name, what's your pet's name, right? Like what are all these little things of which that you're doing that you generally use to protect your data online. So it's one of those things where when they start to actually talk to you through the device, right, they're done. And I'm just throwing that out there. If they are talking to you through the device, they're done with you. They've already gathered what they need, they've already done what they needed to do, right? So how long have they had it open? How long have they monitored you? How long have they, if they were a pedophile, watched your kids in their bedrooms undress and dress, and I know that sounds mean, but we deal with it every day. There's people who are still putting cameras and doing things in their children's bedrooms that are on a live feed, that it can be accessible all over the world that is being hacked. You have to start thinking that you have to protect yourselves. I know you're trying to protect yourself as a parent to say, "Hey, I'm monitoring the situation. Right?" Well you're not. If you're not doing your due diligence to protect your network indoors, and that's something that I think that people have to focus on. You should never ever leave the out of the box password. You should create a reminder in your phone. We all have, I'm the one that they do the face ID to connect to it to change your passwords. You should be able to actually look into your network and have just basic concepts of: is there external transactions that are coming through? How do you read the log file? It's all in your user manual. Like there's things that are in there that you can do due diligence. And it's almost a disservice by saying, "well I just didn't know", right? Because the law tells you all the time. The ignorance to the law is no reason that you wouldn't be punishable. Right? So if you're putting things of technology within your home, in your safe dwelling, you should protect it like it's your family. So you should look into that device. You should Google the reviews, you should make sure that there's security measures in place that's going to help protect you cause you want to be able to protect yourself and your family. That's why you probably have it. And that's probably why you were putting it in those rooms, is for a protection base. And you just didn't understand that there's a whole global world out there that can use that against you. So you have to stand up to it. Leon: 15:09 And for those people who are thinking, "Oh, but it's gotta be really, really hard to get into." I just want to offer one website, And by the way, all the websites and all... everything that we talk about in this episode is going to be in our show notes. So don't feel like you have to scribble things down or worry about spelling. It's all gonna be there. You can pull it from but is a clearing house for IOT, internet of things, devices. You can search by manufacturer, by brand, by country, by company name, by any, anything that's associated with the devices. And there are prebuilt searches. So you can look for webcams that still have the password admin admin. So there's just a list built in there on to find those things. Now on the one hand you can look for yourself and you can make sure that you are not on it. But on the other hand, that's how easy it is to find these things. If, uh, you know, somebody wants to, you know, go looking for trouble. So there's that. All right, so having talked about what we think is a problem... Some of the things we think are problems. I do want to take a minute and talk about why we see it as a problem to be solved and, and we've started to really get to this, but there's a lot of people who look at some of this stuff "Well, I don't, I don't want to put a filter on my kid's phone or their internet or whatever because this stuff is in the world and if I shelter them, they'll never know how to deal with it." And things like that. That's the sort of the argument about it. And I'm going to kick off this section by saying that my community, my Orthodox Jewish community has incredibly (compared to many other communities), strict standards about outside influences. For example, in my city for a very long time, if there was a TV in the house, the kids couldn't attend certain schools. They, the schools felt that the television was such a negative influence that they didn't want those kids coming to the Jewish day school in question. So that's, that's the level. And the internet is really an extension of that set of values. The Orthodox community here in Cleveland understands that parents need to work. The internet is part of that. It needs to be there. But to leave it unfiltered and unmonitored is like leaving a fire burning in the middle of your living room. Yeah, it is going to keep your warm and yeah, you can cook your food, but it is also going to burn your house down. So, you know, not, not the way that we want that to happen. That's uh, you know, that's the attitude. That's one of the reasons why some people see this as a problem to be solved: it just doesn't fit into their, uh, ethical, moral or religious values. The other piece I'll bring in is actually a piece of Talmud, which, uh, discusses that there are three things that a parent is responsible, obligated, commanded to teach their children. And the first one is Torah. Meaning they have to teach their children how to pray and how to understand what their religion means, how to think critically about their religion and understand it in their application of life. That's an interesting perspective. The second thing is they have to teach them a skill, a trade, something that they can, uh, be worthwhile. And the third one is how to swim. And that's the one that stands out for a lot of people. It's like, "Wait, wait, wait, wait. The first two makes sense. That's like life skills. What about swimming?" Well, back in the old times, back in the old days, medieval times or before that, water was really dangerous. People didn't know how to swim, there was no such thing as a public pool. And if there was a flood or a river overflowed its banks or whatever you're talking about, dying simply from not being able to tread water. So a parent was responsible for teaching a child basic survival in the, in the wilderness. It is understood in many, uh, synagogues, many Jewish communities that the internet is equivalent to the way water was treated. "Yet we have to have water, we have irrigation, we have to live near waterways because it's travel, all that stuff. But it'll kill you. You know, if you're not careful, one false move, you slip in and you're going to drown in it." And I think that the internet has those, some of those same properties. So those are some reasons why building a safe, secure, um, and mindful internet space in your home is important and necessary. So that's, that's my side of it. Well, what are your folks thing Keith: 19:37 in the Townsend household? We have this philosophy. We let our children go over other people's homes. Uh, we commune with, you know, we're, we're part of the community. However, this is a fortress, not when it comes necessarily somebody breaking my door down. But this is a place of refuge. This is not quote unquote the world. You can come here and let your hair down. That's what happened to mine. Leon: 20:09 You let it all the way down! Keith: 20:11 I let it down a little bit too much. You can come here and let your hair down and you can as a place of safety. So, you know, uh, when, when for the longest time, my sons, when they were kids, we'd be that home that the neighborhood kids come and play basketball. Some kid would curse and I say, "You know what, that's it. Everyone has to go." And they'd be very disappointed. But it taught them that this, the, when you come to the Townsend's home, there was an expectation. So extending that no matter what your faith is, whether you're, you're to, you're to the point that you made, that you're of a faith that this is a river or to someone's extreme point that, you know what, this is the world. I just don't let the world in my home. Period and, and there and the internet is part of that. It's part and parcel. So, uh, it may not be to the same level of your, your strictness, Leon, but there it is stricter than most and it, it's, I'm going to protect my family, uh, regardless of what medium that is. Destiny: 21:15 I have to second that because that's kind of the same thing with us is a lot of the kids come to our house and like, just like they'll show up at on Friday and they leave on Sunday. Right? And it's one of those just normal things. But one thing that they all know is that they bring Sunday clothes because they know they're going to church on Sunday. They know that they're eating dinner every night together. It's not just on a Sunday thing and to where now they like start to do things to where like Leon, you know, like we do like little contests and stuff on like 'who makes the best cookie arrangement for the holiday' or whatever. You know, we put it out there and the reason why we cook and we bake and we do stuff like that is because my Christian values and the things that I come from is, you know, we are supposed to be able to feed into nurture, into, you know, to bring people up within the world, right? Like it's all about love and I feel like if I can have these kids here and where they're learning how to make, even if it's a chocolate chip cookie, right? Like they're learning a skill and they're surrounded by love and they love it. Like they have so much fun. But it's one of those things where it's like they're protected. Like kind of like what Keith was talking about, you know, like there's a zone, like our house has like a dome or something on it where we've had kids show up at two o'clock in the morning because bad things were happening. Right. And they didn't know where else to go. A: it should've been the cops, not gonna lie, but we took them to the cops. But it was one of those things of we were still a safe haven. They got in a bad situation and they didn't know what to do. And they knew that we would probably guide them in the right location. And we did. And it's one of those things where it's like, no matter where we've lived, we've tried to make sure it's an open door. It's "Please come in." We don't force anything upon anybody by any means. But they know and they have a sense when they leave that there's love that's in that household. And I think that that's, that's all I ever wanted, to be honest. Like, you know, I just want the kids to feel safe and I want people to feel they're loved, but they also know like kind of what Keith was saying, it is a protected zone and you know my husband very well, like he's "the protector." So it's one of those things where we take it very wholeheartedly. Leon: 23:35 Yeah. I mean the idea of a safe space, you know, making our home a safe space from an emotional standpoint, making it a safe space from a physical standpoint and extending that, making it a safe space, from an internet or Keith, I like it, you know "the world", you know the world, the internet trolls are not going to intrude in this space. They exist. They're out there but they're not coming here. Al: 23:56 Yeah. If I could add to it also when we have kids come over, we try to, you know, or when we're together as a family more so recently, try to have some bonding without the electronics. Board games or you know, "how, what, what was your day like?" "Is there something you want to talk about?" Or "what do you have on the horizon? What are your plans?" So on and so forth. And um, you know, there's a, we want to get off of this reliance of technology to function. We all got, we all got by fine without it years ago. It should be the same moving forward. Uh, but there's no way really around it. But we've tried to limit it as much as possible. Destiny: 24:35 We have "the basket policy." I love the basket policy. We have a friend basket for the friends come over and each, cause we have four daughters. Sorry guys. I know it's crazy. But we have, we have four baskets for the girls and the parents have their baskets too. And trust me, they will call you out on that if your phone is not in the basket when it's supposed to be because they're like, "Excuse me, where's your phone?" And it's like "I'm working." And they're like, "Nope, it's dinner." And that's like you said Al, that's 100%. Like you have to have those boundaries of a technology gap. And if you look at Steve Jobs and even Bill Gates, they monitored and completely limited their children and their family because they knew and understood what they were creating and doing. And I think that's something that people may not realize. That a lot of the, the applications that we have on our phones, a lot of the software, a lot of the gaming things that we do is created by neurologists as well as gaming commissions with the machines, right? So they know what's going to make you want to come back for more. They also know if you're young and you're playing a young game, that they can show you an intermediate ad while you're playing it to prepare you for your next level. So as me and Leon has talked about this, the parent is behind the ball because you literally have a force of scientists that are backing your kids to keep them in technology. And you're one person, right? They have teams and teams and billions of dollars invested on hooking your child from a young age. Al: 26:12 Right? And it's very hard to manage all the security or try to enforce everything at all times because they can literally just go right across the street to their friend's house, piggyback on their wifi and you've lost all control. Leon: 26:25 Well, and we're going to talk about ways to avoid that because that is, um, that is definitely a concern. Is that you can lock down your fortress and as soon as somebody leaves through the, you know, through the, um, portcullis across the moat, you know, they're going to get attacked by the ravaging hoard. Just to, just to beat the metaphor, the ground here. But there's some ways to, to still protect our families, not just kids. I mean, I think in some cases for some families, the people you're trying to protect the most are your parents. You know, or you know, or your spouse. You know, again, we're talking to the whole episode is talking about being a, you know, somebody who's religious and a parent and a geek. But we may not be married to geeks. We may be the one who has to, uh, help our, our non-geek spouses to avoid those same risks. So we'll talk about that also. Uh, good stuff. Okay. So having, having talked about why these are problems and those are some compelling reasons - but I don't think that that's, you know, surprising - what are some, we're going to talk about some technical approaches and then we'll talk about some non technical approaches for how to, uh, how, how to really build a secure, safe, comfortable environment without, again, Keith, to your point, without having to buy Palo Alto firewalls and you know, stuff like that. Like how, what, what's a, uh, reasonable home environment or home setup. Keith: 27:50 So I'll start with my, my configuration. So I'm in a pretty interesting situation versus I think everyone else on the line, I have a 11 year old granddaughter. We're empty nesters, so my granddaughter's coming over. So we have to co-parent. And my daughter and, and, and my wife's perspective on some of these topics are wildly different. However, the Townsend family, uh, traditions are in place when family and friends come to our house. That's just the way it is. So we use, uh, for my own protection because I'm an adult and I still have eyes and I still want to protect my own purity. That's just my approach to making sure that, uh, when I run into women on and the community that I have the proper perspective of those women. I'm not, my eyes are not seeing things that, that uh, that will harm my reputation of being "Keith" in the community. So I use Eero plus and the natural filters on that. And then I think everyone uses, what's the DNS service that you can just set your DNS to? Uh, Leon: 29:07 OpenDNS? Keith: 29:07 Yes! OpenDNS... Leon: 29:09 Which is now Cisco... Part of Cisco umbrella. Destiny: 29:13 of course it is. Leon: 29:18 Well, okay, I'm going to talk a little bit more about, about Cisco umbrella in a minute cause I'm really impressed with, uh, what they're, what they're doing with that. But okay. So you've got Eero and you've got OpenDNS or Cisco Umbrella Keith: 29:28 And then I can use, you're there. I can set, um, uh, I can turn the knob as to what I want to be able to search myself and what family and friends when they over because I've had the challenge, believe it or not, where I've had friends come over and abuse. Uh, the internet here when it was open. This was some years ago and I had to have, have a difficult conversation with a, uh, with a good friend. The other thing that we do is... Mobile is put a big challenge, especially in the days of unlimited data that, uh, you know, simple controls that Apple allows on, I think for me, the iOS is probably the better platform for parental controls. You can just go in and, uh, as you can even set if you want Safari, uh, turned on or not. So, you know, the scariest thing about iOS and mobile devices is a mobile web browser because you're, now you're outside of the boundaries of open DNS, et cetera, et cetera. You'd have to go in and manually set, uh, DNS if you want it to do that. That's, that's a easy fix for some people. If you're not battling, you know, a teen that wants to, you know, bypass open DNS, you can set your DNS server, uh, even on your mobile device to the open DNS servers. And then we control the knob as far as applications. Obviously my 11 year old doesn't have a job to be able to, uh, buy applications on her, on her own. So we, uh, approve every application that's installed, uh, monitor her overall usage, et cetera. Leon: 31:14 We know you can't listen to our podcast all day. So out of respect for your time, we've broken this particular conversation up. Come back next week and we'll continue our conversation. Destiny: 31:23 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.  

Jan 2020

31 min 37 sec

Did you ever wonder why IT diagrams always use a cloud to show an element where stuff goes in and comes out, but we're not 100% sure what happens inside? That was originally called a "TAMO Cloud" - which stood for "Then A Miracle Occurred". It indicated an area of tech that was inscruitable, but nevertheless something we saw as reliable and consistent in it's output. For IT pros who hold a strong religious, ethical, or moral point of view, our journey has had its own sort of TAMO Cloud - where grounded technology and lofty philosophical ideals blend in ways that can be anything from challenging to uplifting to humbling. In this series, we sit down with members of the IT community to explore their journeys - both technical and theological - and see what lessons we can glean from where they've been, where they are today, and where they see themselves in the future. This episode features my talk with friend, co-religionist, programmer, and recurring Technically Religious guest Ari Adler. Leon:                                     00:00                     Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as it professionals mesh, or at least not conflict, with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Leon:                                     00:21                     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. My name is Leon Adatto, and with me today is Ari Adler. Ari:                                         01:11                     Hi. Leon:                                     01:13                     All right. Before we dive into the topic, uh, let's do a little bit of shameless self promotion. Ari, tell us a little bit about who you are, where you work, where we can find you, all that stuff. Ari:                                         01:23                     Currently I'm working helping to make applications at Rockwell Automation here in Cleveland, Ohio. I have really in my career up to this point, been mostly focused on the front end, specifically working with the angular framework that's Google. And right now I am working in the research and development department in Rockwell for a really important application of theirs. Um, and yeah, it's really great rewarding work and I'm part of an amazing team. Leon:                                     01:51                     Fantastic. Okay. And if people wanted to find you online, can they do that? Are you anywhere or are you just invisible? Ari:                                         01:56                     I am visible. I have a LinkedIn, um, account. So that would, that would definitely work. Um, AriAdlerJSProgrammer, JS doesn't stand for Jewish Stud but rather Java script. Leon:                                     02:10                     Okay. Uh, but now it does from now on, I will never be able to unthink that. So, uh, for those people who might be scribbling madly, "J S does not stand for...", Uh, we'll have the links in the show notes, so don't worry about that. And finally, how do you... Religiously, how do you identify it? Ari:                                         02:28                     So, um, I'm definitely part of the Orthodox community. Leon:                                     02:32                     Okay. And we'll get into more about that in a, in a minute. And just to round things out, a little bit of promotion for myself, I'm Leon Adato, I'm a Head Geek. Yes. That's actually my title at SolarWinds, which is neither solar nor wind. It's a software vendor based in Austin that makes monitoring software. You can find me on the Twitters @LeonAdato. I write and pontificate about things both technical and religious at And I also identify as an Orthodox Jew. So let's dive right into it. Tell us a little bit more about the kind of work that you're doing today. Nothing specific. Cause I know you're working on a very top secret project that can't... Actually, it's not top secret but you know, we don't try, we try not to talk about those kinds of things here on the show. Just in case there are nondisclosure issues. But tell us what kind of work you're doing today. Ari:                                         03:21                     The project I'm involved with is using a lot of newer types of frameworks, mainly using node.js, which is a very, very powerful, um, way of setting up servers and running the back end. Um, and the language is mainly with TypeScript and my particular role has always basically been with my career working with the front end, with the, with the creating UIs. Uh, the user interfaces. Generally been done using a framework called angular, which is a very robust, full, involved framework. It's quite complex and I've used a new, a lot of different capacities, whether it be dealing with splitting large amounts of data, or getting user input. And without going into any more detail about the project I'm doing, it is definitely a very, very important and highly recommended framework. If you do have to make a web application. It's, you know, it's well known and there's very good documentation and tutorials that are easily defined. But that is mainly the tech that I'm, I've been using. Leon:                                     04:35                     So I, I presume that you were born knowing how to work with angular, that you came out of the womb, in fact with a keyboard in your hands and you know, all that's up is that, no, that's not how he's, he's looking at me and just like staring. Okay. So where did you, if you didn't start off, you know, coding from, from birth and how did you start out, you know, what was your starting point? Ari:                                         04:57                     Well, there was, there was, there was a little "A", on my diapers... Leon:                                     05:01                     Right. So that was a for angular or...? I think it was for "Ari" Ari:                                         05:04                     Well, it had the little symbol there for angular in it. Yeah. Yeah. Leon:                                     05:08                     No, he was the chosen one. Ari:                                         05:10                     I wasn't born with it. Angular is actually, a lot of people don't realize this. Like, if you ever have to write a job description and you want somebody to work for angular, don't ask for 10 years of experience or the framework that only you know, came out with the, uh, with the production version and May, 2016. Leon:                                     05:30                     So that's, that's a pro tip to anybody in HR who's listening to this, who's, you know, writing job descriptions is find out how long the technology has been out for before you say, "must have, you know, 16 years experience with, you know, windows 2016. Ari:                                         05:45                     A framework, which has only been out for six months. Right. Leon:                                     05:48                     Okay. So where did you start at? Ari:                                         05:50                     I did not start out in tech. Um, I actually taught for a few years in middle school and an elementary school. I taught in Queens and Brooklyn before we relocated to Overland park, Kansas. I taught at the Hebrew Academy there. Um, and um, from there we moved to Cleveland and I met, um, inspiring young man named Leon Adato and I, um, joined the a a course to learn, um, the, the tech world. And, you know, I'm hoping at some point in my, as I continued in my career I might find a way to go and I do have a master's degree in education. I'm hoping that at some point maybe a cross paths a little bit, I know that there is a lot of it has been done and I'm sure there's plenty that can still still be done in this field without getting into too much detail cause I haven't really thought it out so fully yet. Right now I'm kind of busy with work and, and family life. But I, you know, as soon when I get to a certain stage where it's things quiet down a little bit, education and technology I think are two things that very much can go hand in hand. Um, I view tech as a tool and it's something that obviously can be very distracting and very harmful if done in the wrong ways, but if used correctly can really help solve a lot of problems. And I know educationally speaking, there's a lot of challenges that, that kids have in their... There are, there is a lot of things. I know that Math Blaster, I had to even that when I was a kid, there's really no end to what it could do to help. Just even writing algorithms that can help figure out for a particular child what, what they're missing and what pieces would help them improve. You know, there's, you know, whatever the future is, is exciting and uh, I hope to be, to be part of it. Leon:                                     07:41                     Okay. So you didn't... you started out in education and you mentioned a little bit about the, there was the program that has been mentioned on Technically Religious before. What I affectionately refer to is "Frum Guys Who Code", but it was really, um, Gesher. Uh, it was uh, the Gesher Upper Level prefers a short program to get, uh, get some folks started on technology. Ari:                                         08:05                     It was a bootcamp. You can call it a bootcamp. Leon:                                     08:05                     Yeah, yeah, that's a, that's uh, probably the best way to describe it. But getting from there to here. So you, you did a bootcamp, you took some online courses. Um, but how did you get from there, from, "Hey, I just learned how to program in JavaScript!" Or whatever to where you are now in Rockwell. What was, what did that path look like Ari:                                         08:27                     From the program. So I met people, you know, who had different companies that were looking for help. Um, and I met, uh, I w I worked in a small software development company here in Beachwood, Ohio. They, they really used the, um, the, um, JavaScript stack there. Um, they was called the MEAN stack, um, stands for mango DB express, JS, angular and node.js. And um, that's kind of, even though Cleveland overalls tends to be much more of a town, you know, this company was very much invested with the MEAN stack. He, they, they felt like it was, you know, a lot of promise and a lot of it could excitement. Um, and it was at least then it was pretty new. Now it's become a lot more mainstream, but you know, you're not going back that many years. But it's ancient history as far as the tech world is concerned. Leon:                                     09:20                     Right, it's been 15 minutes. So that epoch is over now, right? Ari:                                         09:27                     Um, I learned a lot of the ropes from there. And then, um, from that, I, I, I've moved on, I'm working for or worked for Park Place Tech, um, for stint. And then after that I got, um, I got my placement at Rockwell. So I've been at Rockwell really since March. I'm in a different division than it was when I started. Um, yeah, it's really been an amazing ride and I'm still learning tons. Um, you know, one thing that I've needed to do recently, which I was never asked to do and I know a lot of developers, you know, really either dread this or just avoid completely is learning to write them unit tests, which is something that I'm Angular itself. If you read the documentation, they think it's very important. Um, and I, it's really something that I wanted to improve at. And um, I think I have, um, Leon:                                     10:15                     Well you do, you do a couple dozen of them or 20 or 30, and you start to get good at it. Ari:                                         10:19                     Yeah. But there, there's all different, yeah. Things. And you know, it's, it's a, it really is a complex area, you know, to a certain degree, in order to really do it well, you have to almost be developer, not just a tester, cause you have to really know how the code works. Um, and the company definitely recognize that and they wanted, um, to get developers in the testing a role also. So that's actually what I'm trying to really be the most current, uh, you know, area. But you know, it's, I, you kind of have to wear all hats and which is, you know, brings you back to education. A big part of what I love about tech and I, I feel like almost any job really, if someone has this mindset and it's not just professional, but really how you live your life is solving problems. Right. You know, don't get, when I was in the classroom and you know, there, there was, I needed to accomplish a certain thing. I didn't view that. You know, any child would be like, uh, you know, was anything, was, was beyond their capabilities. As long as they had the right encouragement. And you could connect with them in the right way. And I was very successful in the classroom. Um, and tech is basically the same thing. I'm definitely blessed with the team now that, that definitely has that, that viewpoint. But anybody who is focused on "Why I can't do something" versus "How can I accomplish, uh, what it is that has to get done" is really, um, they're really looking at it the wrong way. And this is true, in almost any aspects of like, I know we're going to get into the religious aspect, but, you know, it's, uh, it's just, it's, it's really that, uh, that there is a focus on solving, solving problems and making things better and always improving and never, you know, getting caught up in the, uh, in the problems. But rather, how can I make this better? How can I get this to work? Leon:                                     12:08                     All right. So that is actually a perfect dovetail. So you said at the top of the episode that you identify as an Orthodox Jew. Tell me a little bit about, more about what that looks like. Um, as I've said before, uh, especially on these TAMO cloud segments, labels are imprecise. They're difficult. A lot of people sort of bristle at the idea of being pinned in to one particular kind of thing. When you say that you identify as an Orthodox Jew, what does that mean for you? How does that look? Ari:                                         12:33                     So it's funny you asked me this. Honestly, I haven't had that much exposure to a lot of elements of the Orthodox Jewish world a little bit before I came to Cleveland. No, I, I always defined myself as like a, uh, individual thinker. I feel, and this is very much downplayed, at least I feel like in my own circles, I'm assuming it's true and for many other communities that, um, I feel like people, you know, th the main job that anybody has as a religious person, my feeling is that like, you know, obviously that comes with believing in a higher power, right? Believing in God and therefore what that comes with and what scientists don't constantly have to struggle with this idea is that we have free will, right? We, we, we have the right to be able to go into choose right from wrong. Um, and society at large obviously feels that we otherwise you couldn't have a justice system and so forth. So as much as people want to, to, um, deny the kinds of a higher being, if it doesn't, uh, suit them, we, we, you know, most people definitely believe in freewill. I don't know how that can work if you don't think that, you know, there's a guy who ever came from monkeys or whatnot, like, you know, everything just happened on its own. For sure as a society overall, we believe in and free will and people have to really, therefore by definition come to their own decisions for themselves. That means that we constantly have to be choosing, right? Free will lends to choosing and, and if a person is choosing without knowing anything, they're going to be making a lot of mistakes. Therefore, people always have to be learning in order to be able to, and it's very different. It's very difficult. It's very challenge cause we're always faced with new things and new problems. But if you have that solid foundation of education and always learning... And the problem is that if somebody doesn't know how to learn, if they don't understand for their own, because you can't always just rely on asking somebody else that's, that's not really possible. Right. You know, we're constantly faced with decisions and choices the same way that free will is a constant factor in our lives from when we wake up to when we go to sleep. It's really something that really has to be to, you know, I, I feel like that that getting people to be independent thinkers and independent learners is really, really critical. And I think this is something that's is, it's downplayed to a large degree. I'm not going to get into why. Therefore, I kind of view myself as, I don't want to call like independently Orthodox, but very much from the mainstream that to a certain degree, being part of a of a larger group is good, but it should be really understood what limitations that that can bring that if people feel like, well, as long as I, I stick with the Joneses, I'm, I'm going to be pleasing God. I think that they're making a major fallacy with that viewpoint because I think that the, a person always has to be looking at themselves and, and thinking that I'm really the only person who can improve me if they're hiding behind society a large, I think that that is something that is, um, is a real, real danger. Leon:                                     15:49                     So you're saying that herd, herd immunity does not work when it comes to perhaps heaven? Ari:                                         15:54                     Yeah, exactly. So, you know, I, I don't know if that like fully answered the question of how, how I define myself religiously, but someone who, I guess I call myself a learning Jew. Leon:                                     16:05                     Okay, fine. That's fine. So, uh, the question then moves into, is that how you grew up? Is that the Judaism that you were used to or is that the experience that you were used to in your younger life? And again, I've said this before on other episodes that when we're growing up in our parents house or wherever we were growing up, whatever was happening in the house where we grew up, that's what we did because that was what was around us. So we then left and came to a point where we realized to your, to your point that there's a moment where you can choose and that's when you start to formulate your own experience. So what did your, what did, what did your growing up world look like? Ari:                                         16:50                     So both of my parents were not raised Orthodox. They kind of, they kind of needed to become more religious at a later stage in life and they didn't get, um, in as much as of or nearly as much as the formal education that I was blessed with. So, obviously it wasn't really possible to be, you know, to have been, been raised in a way - As often happens when people don't get the education in their youth - it's hard to catch up. I lost my father at a young age, so like it was very much, I was kind of to a certain degree, I mean my, my mother is, you know, she should live in, be well is, you know, really an amazing person. Um, but you know, she'd be the first to tell her she's no Rabbi. Right. And she's, she's always learning and going to classes, but you know, obviously, you know, with her background is coming from quite as a secular place. Um, so, you know, she's, she's who's also seeking and learning and, but she, she doesn't have the same kind of background, not having any kind of like formal education in, in her younger years. So, you know, my house is very different than the house I, I grew up in as a child, therefore. Um, so I definitely grew up in a, in an Orthodox home. Um, but there's, there's lots of different levels to what that could mean. Leon:                                     18:14                     When I talked to other people about this, what's called Baal Teshuva, you know, people who came to Orthodox Judaism later in life, and my wife, my family and I are, are in that community. It's very much, it's very similar to the immigrant experience. Where you come to this foreign country called the "Orthodox community" and now at whatever age you arrive there, you have to learn a whole set of rules and expectations and language and behavior and jargon and things like that. And you do the best you can and you learn to code switch and you learn to adopt that, but you're never quite natively fluent the way that a child who's born into that country or community is. So that for, in a lot of ways that that experience you're describing is similar to growing up when your parents are immigrants and you were born in that country. So you have a level of a perception and a level of fluency that they're not going to have because again, they, to your point, they weren't, they weren't born with it. How did you get from there to here? You know, when you were, so you were grown, you were born into a Baal Teshuva family and now your house looks very different. What was the formative element, aspects of that from point there to point here? Ari:                                         19:25                     Because I went to, um, a Jewish school, so I was able to get much stronger education and I carried that with me post high school, going on to a Yeshiva. I studied for many years. So that was able to give me a much stronger background and a much stronger foundation in understanding the religion and what, you know, what we believe God expects of us. Um, and so in a nutshell that that really is the, uh, you know, the reason. Just through education, through, through the more understanding I was able to, um, hopefully be able to make some, let's call it better choices. Some, uh, you know, some, uh, have a little little more control over from a religious standpoint what my home should look like, what, what I should value, what I want to give over to my children. Like, like I was saying before, and you know, knowledge is power and no matter what stage somebody comes in to the game, you know, it's, it's, it's not really important about, again, like being socially, you know, accepted by the peers. Because like, like I was saying before, it's, it's, so... The main thing is really individual and you know, sometimes people get like a little bit caught up in, "Well, you know, do I fit in with this, with society at large?" But again, that's not, that's not the point of the every religion to in with society. It's about making the right choices and recognizing our, our free will, the best way that we know how to, um, and ultimately anyone you know, is going to believe that, that it's up to God to kind of judge us as to where we wound up. And now, honestly, we were with ourselves, why we did what we did. And that's really very important foundation, I'm assuming, to any religion for sure. For mine. Leon:                                     21:10                     Okay. So we've talked about the technical and we've talked about the religious. So now I want to blend the two. I'm curious about any situations where in taking your strong religious point of view along with this technical career which you've moved into in the last couple of years, if there's been any conflicts or any challenges that have come up between those two things. Any points of friction? Ari:                                         21:33                     So that's a very interesting question. Inherently I don't see any conflict at all between the religious world and the technical world, but I find a lot of conflicted people in, in it. On both ends of the spectrum. You have a lot of people in the religious world who shun, or are very, are very anti, a lot of aspects of the technical world. And I found a lot of people in the, in the, in the technical world tend to be pretty anti-religious. Um, you know, my first day at one job I, I am overheard a fellow person on my team. They were having a conversation, I think I had mentioned something, whatever, but you know, we were talking about, you know, being, being bored or whatnot. And one of the person just blurted out, "I haven't, I haven't been bored since the last time I stepped into a church." And I think he said after that, that was when he was like eight years old or whatnot. So, you know, he, he obviously probably didn't consider himself to be too, too religious. I didn't, you know, follow up in the conversation. But I, I, I've certainly met a good deal of people who kind of, let's say to a certain degree, substitute their religious life with, with the tech. I think that that's, although I kind of understand that a certain level, why they mentally would be able to do that. I think that they're gonna leave a huge vacancy just in, in their own souls. I mean, in, in, in, in their own completeness as a human being. Cause I, you know, I mean, I, I, you know, assuming that we were all created by God, so there's this idea that the whole reason why there is concept of religion is, is not just, no, it's not, not a scam. People have the, this, this natural yearning for, for, for spirituality to be part of a higher purpose and to have a real meaning in life. Um, which is something that, which with a technology can kind of like give somebody maybe to sort of be a sense of purpose. Not really, but it could give someone the facade of that. I like, to use the example you could have, you know, I, I have a, a young baby at home and you know, from a young age, human nature gives us a... Really, from birth or even in the woman shown the this natural desire to, to suck, which is obviously it's a necessary thing for a baby to be able to nurse or bottle feed or whatnot. If, if the baby can't get access to food when it's hungry, it's gonna suck on what's ever there or there be a rock nearby or a sticker, a, you know, a teething toy. Right? It's just gonna because it, that natural, it's got a suck on something. So if it can't suck on something that's going to help it gonna suck on something that can't help it. But I think it's kind of like the same idea over here. That like people do feel like they have to be part of something bigger and they want to have a meaning and, and a sense of purpose. And that's not the idea of, you know, when, when the, the original Turing machines, and you go through the history of computer, it was not meant to be sucked on. It was not meant to nourish the spiritual side and the fact that you get so many people that I think to a certain degree are using it in that way I think is a real, I mean, it's a real shame and it's, you know, really something that is, um, I had never really heard or spoken about, but I think it very much exists for my own personal, uh, you know, meetings, people from all different spectrums and so forth. Like, um, what I was saying before. The two really have, you know, can, can very much augment one another. No, no question. They really are two separate things, but to a certain degree you have, you know, I, I don't know if like religions can sometimes feel, feel threatened by tech and you know, I, I certainly know people who definitely feel that way. And you definitely have the reverse that people like wind up going the other way that they feel like "Iif I have tech I don't really need religion." Um, and again, like neither one of those things make too much sense to me. Technology is a tool to just, you know, help us and you know, become better at what we, you know, at who we are and what we do. Leon:                                     25:55                     So that's the, the, again, the friction points or the challenges that you found between your religious life and the technical, but how about the happy surprises? Were there any benefits or anything about your religious life that brought almost like a superpower or a secret trick that you didn't think was going to be useful but in your technical life, it turns out it was really, really helpful. Speaker 2:                           26:17                     Um, yeah, sure. Most of the way I, I, I analyze and think comes from my religious studies. So it's really, it's given me a tremendous advantage coming into the, the technical world. I think there's certainly a lot of people with a lot of just raw intelligence. Brain power, which is really, really great. But, you know, I think to a certain degree I have the ability to kind of look at things sometimes from a little bit of a different perspective and being able to analyze things a little bit of a different way. Being the fact that I've been able to intensively learn things at a high level from both a religious aspect and a technical aspect. So I think that they can really, um, aid and abet my critical thinking skills and my analyzing skills in my, um, creative thinking skills, which is something that, you know, it was really a lot of, of overlap in both, both areas. Leon:                                     27:19                     This has been a great conversation. I'm just curious, any final thoughts, anything that you want to leave the listeners with? Ari:                                         27:24                     Yeah. Well. Um, I think that the, the, this idea of the, um, anyone who's listening to this podcast, obviously you're probably very much, um, care very much about these two topics of religion and technical, uh, this, you know, field. IT. Um, you know, I, I think that it's, um, it's, it's really great to kind of put the two together and like a whole in a wholesome way to, to go, you know. Because some, like, like I was talking about before, since sometimes those things are viewed as being mutually exclusive to a certain certain degree or at least not friendly. You know, I, I don't, I don't know if that is necessarily true. And I'm, this, this is really, this is really, you know, it's, uh... Religion means a lot of different things to a lot of different people and the importance and what the capabilities are with the technical world also means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. So, you know, a podcast like this, putting the two together and get, getting people's thoughts, thoughts, and either ideas. It's really, it's truly, uh, it's, it's a wonderful accomplishment and I think a very worthwhile endeavor. Leon:                                     28:32                     Thank you. All right. All right. It's been fantastic having you here. Ari:                                         28:35                     Thank you. It's been great talking to you, Leon. Leon:                                     28:39                     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 us on social media.

Jan 2020

28 min 51 sec

Working in IT can often feel like long periods of soul-crushing depression and frustration as we work through a technical issue, punctuated by brief moments of insane euphoria when we find a solution, followed by yet another period of soul crushing depression and frustration when we move on to the next problem. In this light, learning to take time to celebrate and express gratitude is essential. In this episode, Leon, Josh, and Doug explore the habits we've developed as IT pros to get us through the hard parts of the job; and the lessons from our religious, moral, or ethical tradition can we bring to bear. Listen or read the transcript below. Leon:                                     00:06                     Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh, or at least not conflict, with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Leon:                                     00:53                     This is a continuation of the discussion we started last week. Thank you for coming back to join our conversation. Leon:                                     00:59                     Another area that I think, um, we can in it build a sense of gratitude is in the amount of work that we do, um, that we need to recognize in IT the difference between hours and accomplishments. How much time we spend, and how much we accomplish. Um, and I'm gonna have a really radical idea and anybody who's listening to this, who, who manages people or runs or owns a business is probably not gonna like me saying this, but salaried employee employment cuts both ways. Do not try this at home. Do not push this at work if you are in a shaky situation or whatever. But I am telling you right now that if it is okay for work to say, "Well you know there was an emergency or you have to get this done and if it takes you 50 hours to get to do it, then I guess that's what it takes." Then equally so is if you get your work done today in four hours you can go home because you have got it done. And I think sometimes we need to recognize that "I got it done, I did it, yay me." I don't need to spend more hours sitting here pretending or looking like or looking for trouble again or picking that next thing off the pile because this is what I intended to get done today. Doug:                                    02:09                     Absolutely. And I mean even on the flip side of that, I've had days where things just weren't going well and all of a sudden I realized if I keep going, I'm going to break something way worse than it is. And it is much better for me to just walk, get up and walk away and come back tomorrow. Now, by the same token, I'm not currently a salary employee, so that should indicate that it hasn't always worked well. Speaker 4:                           02:30                     Right. When you're in trouble. I think that that's a technique, but I just, I want to hit this again for just a moment and say that when we're talking about gratitude and talking about appreciating something, how amazing would it be if at two o'clock in the afternoon you realized "I got it done. I fixed the problem, I, I did it. I'm going home." You show up at home to your family, your dog, your TV, whatever it is, your, your Halo, your Quake cooperative. Whenever you know, World of Warcraft team, whatever it is, they're like, "Why are you here?" "I got my work done. I had, I get extra time. I'm finished. Free recess for the rest of the day. Yay me." That is powerful. Josh:                                      03:11                     I recently had to go through an experience just like that where for 20 years I have been the person who has always been present. I learned from my parents that showing up to work is, is even more important than doing well at work. And not that my parents did a poor job, but they were there. They taught me that always being at work showed value. And so I fell into the trap, Leon, that you talked about. I routinely would work 50, 60, 70, and 80 hours a week, uh, during my 20 year career because that's what I thought I had to do. And in my new job, I am very much have the autonomy to decide when I've had enough, and that I'm expected to not be at work all day when I don't need to be at work all day. And this is, it's a really weird dichotomy for me because I've had to reprogram my mind to work around that. I mean, I think again, another podcast episode another date, another time, but we need to, we need to realize that again, Doug's sins aren't my sins, right? Doug:                                    04:24                     I hope not for your sake. Josh:                                      04:28                     So quote a famous Mormon, um, whose name was J. Golden Kimball. Uh, he was also known as "the swearing apostle". Um, he, he used to say... in fact he used to swear over the pulpit at the conference center in Salt Lake. Um, but he used to say famously, "I'm not going to hell. I repent too damn fast!" Don't worry, Doug. We're, we're fine. Doug:                                    04:54                     All right. Leon:                                     04:55                     Another habit I think that can lead to a better sense of gratitude is, um, actually just thankfulness, which I know is kind of buzzwordy these days. Saying thank you a lot. Just say thank you to other folks for the things that they do a lot. It has an incredible effect on you. It has an incredible effect on people around you, but just get into the habit of saying thank you. Doug:                                    05:25                     And it's important to be able to do that, to actually be aware of the people that are doing stuff for you. I mean, I, I actually went to an exercise program today. I know, hard to believe. Um, but it was our first time going and I didn't know how it worked. And I got my wife there and she's settled and I was looking around. I could tell that we were supposed to get some equipment, but I couldn't tell what, you know, how some people had it and some people didn't. So this lady came up and she said, "Let me show you where to get this stuff." And she took me over there and I got all my equipment. We did the exercise and... But I made sure that when I went back I said, "I really appreciate you finding me wandering around and putting me in the right direction. And because people don't do that, you could have just let me..." There were 50 people in the room, one person came up to help me. And so, but I made sure that I went, I noticed that she had helped me, of course, but then I made sure I went back and thanked her. So it just, it's so you're grateful when people do stuff for you, but you have to, people do things for you all the time. And you may not even notice. Josh:                                      06:30                     And I think this ties back to the authentic comment that I made earlier. You were appreciative for a very specific thing and you went and found someone and you didn't just say, "Hey, thanks for your help." You said, "Hey, thank you for helping me to do this thing you saw me in need. I'm grateful for that." That is way better than getting the traditional hallmark "Hey, thank you for being a great person." 'Cause, why? Like what, what did I do as a great person? I mean for me, Doug:                                    07:03                     participation award! Josh:                                      07:07                     In Canada, we used to call them the "partici-paction". It was an exercise program. So very... And I..., Anyway, Canada's weird and you used to get a participation. It was, you know, gold, silver, bronze, these little, um, knitted, uh, medallions and did, yeah, well kind of knitted. And then if you didn't get a gold, silver or bronze, then you got a participation award? Uh, anyway, it was growing up in the 80s was weird, man. It was really weird. But I wanna I'm curious for, for both of you, how do you show your true, authentic nature when you're expressing gratitude to others? In Doug, you gave us a great example, uh, an evidence of how you do it. Are there any other ways that we can pull that off? Because I want to be more authentic in 2020. Leon:                                     08:01                     I think that that some of your comments hit on it. First of all, recognizing what the person did and that it was, and also understanding that it was exceptional. I mean, it's always important to say thank you to your wait staff. It's always important to say thank you to the people who are, who are, there being paid to help you because you know, yes, they're being paid. You don't go, you know, you don't fall on your knees for that, but you still thank them. Like "I recognize that you just did something for me." But when somebody is not there in that capacity or role to say, "Hey, I know you took time out of your exercise routine just to put me on the right track. I saw that. I see you. You are not invisible to me." I think that that in itself is powerful and then also expressing how it helped you or how it made you feel. And Doug, I know feelings are not always things that you are, you know, thrilled about talking about or sharing or anything like that. Um, again, we've known each other a really long time but, but saying you know, it really, you know, "I was, I was really uncomfortable. It's our first day here. I didn't know what to do and you made it a lot easier for me." Tells that person how they impacted your life and you want to call it positive reinforcement. Fine. You want to call it paying it forward, fine. But it, you know, in the same way that you would probably want to be thanked and recognized by a stranger on the street. Doug:                                    09:31                     Yeah. It's just being appreciated for what you're doing. I mean when, when I go through checkout on a holiday when I can just tell that they are just being slammed. I tell generally tell the cashout guy, I said, I really appreciate you being here cause I needed to get this food today. And the fact that you're here just made my life so I could do this. I mean if you think of that, think of none of the cashiers showed up. You'd have to steal all the food. I mean, excuse me. No, you, they wouldn't open the store. Josh:                                      09:59                     I was surprised. I recently took a trip and I went into the airport lounge. First time in my entire life that I've ever gone into an airport lounge. Um, had to look at the, the podcast episode we did where we talked about, uh, you know, the travel hacks, right? So that, that was good. So I went into the lounge and I, one of the times I spent seven hours in this lounge on a layover. I always surprised how many people in the lounge did not say thank you when the staff in the lounge came by and picked up your, your plates and your cups and stuff. Come on, people! Say thank you to the, the people who are like, you don't tip these folks that they, they, they're only thing that they're there for is to make your life in the lounge more pleasant. The least you can do is look up, smile at them and say thank you. Leon:                                     11:01                     Right. Again, I see you, I see what you did. He appreciated what you did exactly. Doug, before we started recording. You talked about, um, something else about hearing the 'thank you' when it's not said, and I want to give you a chance to tell that story over. Doug:                                    11:15                     It's really, it may be big because this is the flip side. This is, yeah, we were talking about we should be grateful. We should be thanking other people, but we're also looking at ways that we can go ahead and find gratitude and in our own lives. And sometimes the reality is we are not thanked for the wonderful things that we do for other people. I know this comes as a shock to everybody, but it's true. And when I had my own consultancy, uh, for the longest time I would base it, you know, I would be doing work for clients and doing work for clients and doing work for clients and clients never thank you. I mean, yeah, they pay, but they never actually thank you. But then all of a sudden I realized every time they said, "Okay, now that's done. Now what I want is..." They were essentially "Thank you for the thing that you just did." Because they wouldn't ask me to do the next thing if they weren't grateful for the fact that I had accomplished the first thing. So every time from then on that I heard now what I want is in my head. I just flipped it to, "Thank you Doug," and we were off and rolling. Leon:                                     12:09                     That's why I wanted you to tell it over it because that's really powerful. If you think about all the times at work that people say, "Okay, next I want you to do blah, blah," and just realize that there is an implicit, not explicit, but an implicit, Thank you. Great job. Because if you screwed it up, believe me, I would have told ya." Doug:                                    12:31                     Right and they wouldn't be asking you to do work on anything else ever again. That there's a, there's a very strong thank you every time they give you something new and if it's bigger, it's a big thank you. Josh:                                      12:41                     I want to point out to our listeners because I'm sure a number of them have had these moments, the weekly team meeting where we all start off by the usually the managers saying, "I just want to point out that Josh showed up to work today." Or or something really mundane. Those co, those scenarios where you as a manager or a team lead are compelled to call out the things that your team does well, completely backfire on your team. Don't do them. If you're going to do them, make sure that it's for things that are exceptional to the norm. For example, me showing up at work today is not normally exceptional. May showing up to work today after I worked all weekend. That might be exceptional. "Hey Josh we really appreciate the fact that you worked all weekend and that you're here on Monday morning and that you have pants on." So those are exceptional things, but don't, don't force that gratitude because that just hurts your team. I don't know. Leon:                                     13:48                     This goes back to the authenticity, but I had a very different experience. I had a manager who was himself exceptional in this regard that he would first look for, and then began to solicit and curate recognition... Points of recognition for the team. And, um, I'll post an example of it in the show notes. So if you're listening to this on a Tuesday, it'll be posted on Wednesday. But, um, it was really remarkable the effect it had. Because to your point, Josh, he was recognizing the exceptional mostly. Mostly he would say, "Okay, we saw that, you know, we, I noticed that you were online at two o'clock in the morning. It wasn't your on-call, but you just noticed it and that's really incredible. Please don't feel obligated to do that. But I know that you did and we appreciate it." But there was one thank you in the example I'm thinking of where he said, uh, you know, "George or whatever his name was. Um, there was nothing really noticeable about you this week. Um, you're fired. No joking." He said, "Really what was interesting was that everything that you accomplished was remarkably normal and under the wire it was consistent and it was typical. And it's what everyone has come to expect from you because you do it all the time. And I just want you to understand that that consistency is also appreciated." So here is a way to take a person who had had a normal week. Nothing to your point, Josh. Nothing exceptional. No 2:00 AM Sev1 calls, no working the weekend and say, but that's valuable too. Doug:                                    15:24                     That's managerially brilliant. Because the problem is when the only thing that you ever reward is people putting out fires. You get a lot of people who put out fires, and so they let fires happen so that they can then put them out. As opposed to the person that goes ahead and does their job day in and day out so that there are no fires. They never get recognition. Leon:                                     15:45                     Charity majors, uh, about a year ago talked about this, that one of her techniques was to recognize people who, um, first of all, people who pay down technical debt, that that was one of the things and that got higher praise than, uh, either fixing a bug or you know, resolving a crisis because that was valuable. But also she made sure that she recognized people who submitted things to, you know, submitted their code and there were no defects. That submitting with zero defects was more valuable than bug fixes. Because it meant there weren't, you know, cause it meant everything that it meant. And I think that that was really good. Josh:                                      16:28                     I would suggest that being consistently good at your job and our job is to either build things, fix problems, whatever it might be. That individual who did everything that they were asked to do and the things that they weren't asked to do without being asked. That is unfortunately, truly exceptional. Doug:                                    16:49                     It's true, New Speaker:                    16:50                     I hate to, I hate to be that type of person, but I tell my kids all the time, "It is not hard to be exceptional. You just need to be consistent and transparent. That makes you exceptional because so many people are not both consistent and transparent in the things that they're doing." So my name, maybe for us, we're like, Oh that, that's cool that they're, my boss recognized somebody who wasn't exceptional. But what's your boss was really saying was, "Hey Sally, that was really awesome that you did those things." And you know, the backhand was "All the rest of y'all need to look at what Sally's doing and say, Hey, this is what's valued, not you off saving the world, you know, from a calamity that you created." Leon:                                     17:41                     Another point just bringing in, um, a Jewish habit. So there's a Jewish tradition that you're supposed to say at least a hundred blessings a day, which is actually not hard in the Jewish tradition because there is a blessing for just about everything from the moment you wake up, before you even get out of bed, there's a blessing for, 'thank you for letting me wake up this morning' to a blessing for going to the bathroom. Yes, there's a blessing for it to go to the bathroom. There's a blessing for every bite of food in your mouth... Every bite of food you put in your mouth, there's a blessing for everything. And so that's the first thing. And, and uh, we can recognize, I think regardless of your religious tradition that when you say a blessing, you're saying 'thank you'. But there's a deeper level that I think is worth pointing out, which is that in, in the phrasing of a blessing, it's not. "Thank you for this thing." "Thank you for this apple." Thank you for... You're saying 'thank you for this moment.' "Thank you for this moment where I get to have this apple; where I get to get out of bed; where I get to go to work." I get to, you know, all these things. "Thank you for bringing me to this moment in time because that wasn't a guarantee." And the result of that for many people being that thankful, being thankful for every moment and saying, did I get my hundred blessings in today? Because that's, that's the goal. Okay, fine. That you become more grateful for things because you're looking for the things to say thank you for. Josh:                                      19:13                     I'm disappointed Leon. I thought when you were going to talk about Jewish traditions, you were going to invoke the holiday where we all get drunk. Leon:                                     19:21                     There is one of those, there's the get drunk holiday. There's also the eat cheesecake holiday was also, yes, there's also the eat fried foods holiday. This is an entirely other podcast episode. Um, Josh:                                      19:34                     Holy crap. I should have been Jewish. Doug:                                    19:38                     Well now that you're an ex-Mormon you still have an option. Leon:                                     19:40                     There's... Okay. There's no, okay... Yes, I'd like to point out Judaism does not have a tradition of proselytizing. Uh, everyone, everyone goes to heaven. You don't need to be on the team. And everyone can, can participate in some of these holidays even if you're not on the team. Uh, and, and my house is always, we have an open door policy. So you're welcome to come for the cheesecake holiday or the fried foods holiday or the get drunk holiday. Josh:                                      20:02                     I was going to say, who needs to proselytize when you've got holidays, like get drunk, eat cheese cake and eat fried foods. Like, Oh my goodness. Leon:                                     20:10                     Okay. Not all at the same time. There are separate days, separate days, Josh:                                      20:14                     But I thought you had like Christmas every day as a... Leon:                                     20:18                     Okay. Alright. And I think what we're doing is we're a.tually demonstrating another idea, which is really to experience joy and laugh, laugh at things, laugh at moments, try to bring more laughter in. If you feel like you're work in IT is becoming really hard to take, finding ways to bring some laughter in, whether that's listening to a really good funny podcast or I know some people who watch, you know, slapstick, they watch, um, old, you know, 1930s, um, like the Marx brothers movies or whatever. Whatever tickles your funny bone, you know. Three Stooges or um, Monte Python or whatever it is that that does it for you. But bringing more laughter into your life makes a difference. That just laughing helps. Josh:                                      21:08                     I agree. I also recommend laughing at yourself. Leon:                                     21:12                     For some of us it's easier than others. Doug:                                    21:14                     I have no problem with that. I'm about the funniest thing. I, uh, Leon:                                     21:20                     right. Doug:                                    21:20                     I don't have to wait too long to see me screw up. Josh:                                      21:22                     I mean, being self-deprecating is something that I do really well and I don't know if it's a me being Canadian or me being British or me being Canadian and British, but self-deprecation is a way for me to laugh at myself. I I, for a long time I took myself pretty darn seriously and to be blunt, it nearly killed me. So now I take myself seriously when I need to be serious, but I also know that there's an awful lot in life that is not nearly as serious as we make it. Leon:                                     21:53                     Yes, exactly. Now I will say that laughing at yourself, especially as a way to diffuse a tense situation, even if a tense situation is in your own head, is wonderful. Sharing that at work is sometimes not safe. And I want to recognize on this podcast that not everyone is in a situation where they feel like they can highlight and laugh publicly. "HAH I just screwed that up, that was pretty funny, wasn't it?!?" Because not only will the answer be no, the answer will be "and it's going to get you, you know, everything you say can and will be held against you in a court of public opinion." Doug:                                    22:27                     I did. I did that. I, I've, I've rarely worked for a large corporation because I always thought I wouldn't do very well there and I have now proved it because, well no, there, there was a situation where we just, we didn't meet something and it didn't, it didn't work and everybody was like really down and there was nothing we could have done to, to have actually accomplished what was supposed to been accomplished, so I made a joke. Cause really what are you going to do? And it was not taken well at all. It's like I was, I was accused of not taking the problem seriously. And the answer is yeah, no I knew the pro... And I also knew that it wasn't our fault. There was nothing we could have done. We were torpedoed by another department intentionally (because big corporations do that) and everybody was down about it. It's like why should the, why should this team be depressed? Because of what happened. But the humor was not taken well in that situation. I no longer work for that company. That's not the only reason. But enough episodes like that pretty much made it easy for me to be in the 10% that get chopped. You know, any place that automatically chops 10% of their, their people every year? You can get, I'm going to be in that. I'll eventually be in that 10% for some reason. Josh:                                      23:34                     Oh, that two letter company that we love to hate, hate to love. I don't know. Leon:                                     23:40                     Yeah, yeah. No, that's a, that's a challenging one. But I think also, Doug, what you're talking about that, um, again, contextualizing what you're doing. You know, putting it into context, put, you know, framing it in a way that says, Hey, you know, let's just be clear about this. Whether again, for the good or the bad, especially when something doesn't go well, the ability to be grateful, the ability to be thankful, the ability to see the humor in it also means recognizing that really, what are we doing here? Like at the end of the day, we're writing software. And just one story about that. Um, one of my really good friends that I grew up with is Lee Unkrich, who for many years was a director at Pixar and just retired from there not too long ago. And he was on the team working on "Monsters, Inc." And they were in a, they were in a meeting room. It was day one and a half of what ended up being a three day effort to come up with one particular sequence in the movie, which is where they got thrown out of a door and they're in the, you know, the Arctic or something. And they meet up with the abominable snowman. And they're trying to work one gag and they couldn't quite get it. And in again, at day one and a half, Lee stopped everything and he said, "I just need us all to recognize that we are here being paid a not-insignificant-amount of money to come up with the perfect pee in the snow joke. That's what we're being paid to do right now. And we just need to recognize how incredibly awesome our jobs are." Josh:                                      25:17                     I want that job so badly. Oh my God. Leon:                                     25:20                     Right? Because there was a lot of pressure in the room. Like we've got to get this right. Josh:                                      25:25                     I used to work for a major automotive manufacturer, one of the big three. And when the line shut down, it was, it was an awful lot of money a minute that was not being realized because they weren't working. And I used to say to people, I worked in support, uh, in, in one of the, in a couple of their facilities for a period of time. "We're not curing cancer here folks..." Cause people, I, I, I have never been, I've never been in the military, but I have been torn up one side and down the other because of the line going down and some shift manager freaking out. And I'm just like, we are literally not curing cancer. I switched companies and a few years later I was working for a company that was helping cure cancer. Leon:                                     26:17                     Okay. Context, Josh:                                      26:19                     Jokes on me, right? Uh, but I, I think we need to remember that even when we're trying to cure cancer or... There's only so much that you can do, you can only move mountains so far and then that's it. I mean, don't it. Yes. It's not a laughing matter. When you, when you fail to deliver in spite of your best efforts and someone dies. Not a laughing matter. But we can be grateful. The effort that we put in, I could never be a first responder because I would want to save everybody. And that just is not what happens as a first responder. Uh, uh, an, uh, a friend of mine, uh, is a doctor and I, I remember listening to stories from him being an intern and the people dying on the gurney as he was doing his ER rotation. And I thought 'there was no way,' just no way I can do that. But on one hand, I'm very grateful that I, I'm not a doctor. On the other hand, I'm also very grateful that he had the wherewithal to understand that he couldn't save everyone, but he was going to give 100%. and every day he was like, I give it, I give him my all. I can't save that person who came in with, you know, shot seven times. And being grateful that you put in the effort. That is really okay. Doug:                                    27:41                     I was going to say, even though we're looking for ways to be grateful, when you know that you've done the best job that you can do, that's the time to be great. That's the time to be thankful. Even if nobody else knows that you did the best you could and that's assuming that you bring your, you know, the best you got at any given day, sometimes the best you've got is not all that great. Leon:                                     27:59                     A number of decades ago, Doug and I were working at the same company and I had a situation where in the evening I was working on a, a co, a client's computer and the hard drive completely and utterly crashed. And this person lost all of their data and I really kind of lost it, uh, because I was working on the computer at the time and the hard drive crashed and I, it was early enough in my career that I did not know what to do and I did not know how to take it. And I spent some fairly emotional minutes in your office. Like, "I don't know how to face this person. I don't know how to deal with this. What am I going to do?" And you said, "You know, the system died on you, but you didn't take a hammer to it. It just died. Hardware does that. And you did everything you could. They didn't have backups. That's not your fault." And put, you know, both putting it in context and basically saying everything you just said about you did the best you could, you don't need to carry this. And I did anyway. Because, right. And it was a sleepless, you know, sleepless night until, uh, the angry words were said and the client recovered their composure. And you know, we moved on from that and a week later I was able to look back with a little bit more perspective. But, um, a, I was grateful to have somebody who had a little bit, you know, a little bit better perspective on it. But also, um, I was eventually able to have that point of view that I had done everything I could and this happened anyway and you know, I, and I was there. And in one respect I was there to at least be able to say "It was a blah... It was at this and a this and this and then this happened. "And explain to the client coherently the sequence of events so they could at least be prepared for it next time and wouldn't, you know, at that client took religious backups after that. So, you know, lessons learned, Josh:                                      30:06                     Call me, not surprised. Leon:                                     30:08                     Um, any final words, any, any last thoughts before we wrap this up? Josh:                                      30:12                     You know, I, I do. And because I know Leon how much you love when I quote songs. And because I think in this particular case we missed talking about something that we uh, that we should be grateful for. I am going to quote James Taylor from his song. "You've Got A Friend." The first verse says, "When you're down and troubled; and you need a helping hand; and nothing, nothing is going right." I mean it sounds like every day in IT, right? "Close your eyes and think of me; and soon I will be there; to brighten up even your darkest night..." (When you're on call.) No... That's not what James Taylor said, but I mean you just shared a story about how Doug was there for you. Having friends and IT having friends when you work in IT that aren't in IT is really powerful. But I think that having friends who also have been there, they've gone through the experiences that they, you can commiserate with them, you can laugh and have joy with them. You can cry and probably string together a fairly long sentence filled exclusively with curse words. That is also very powerful. So my final words have, have friends and listen to James Taylor. You've got a friend. Doug:                                    31:31                     My final word is you can't be grateful enough. I mean, if you think you've done it all yourself, you're wrong. If you think you've screwed it all up yourself, you're wrong. Just be grateful for what you've managed to accomplish and that just makes everything goes so much better. Leon:                                     31:45                     All right. And with that thought, I'm going to close it out with a quote from Mr. Rogers. Um, there's now a movie out that highlights this, but it's something that I have, uh, kept up on the wall here in my office and talk about from time to time. Mr. Rogers, when he received a lifetime achievement award, uh, he said something that just has stuck with me forever. New Speaker:                    32:05                     "All of us have special ones who loved us into being. Would you just take along with me 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are, those who cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life? 10 seconds. I'll watch the time." Destiny:                               32:22                     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. Josh:                           32:36                     To quote Jacques Maritain, "Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy."  

Jan 2020

32 min 41 sec

Working in IT can often feel like long periods of soul-crushing depression and frustration as we work through a technical issue, punctuated by brief moments of insane euphoria when we find a solution, followed by yet another period of soul crushing depression and frustration when we move on to the next problem. In this light, learning to take time to celebrate and express gratitude is essential. In this episode, Leon, Josh, and Doug explore the habits we've developed as IT pros to get us through the hard parts of the job; and the lessons from our religious, moral, or ethical tradition can we bring to bear. Listen or read the transcript below. Doug: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh - or at least not conflict - with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Leon: 00:24 I've often described working in IT like this: It's long periods of soul crushing depression and frustration as we work through a technical issue, punctuated by brief moments of insane euphoria when we find the solution followed by yet another period of soul crushing depression and frustration when we move on to the next problem. In this light, learning to take time to celebrate and express gratitude is essential. What happens have we developed as IT pros to get us through the hard parts of the job? What lessons from our religious, moral, or ethical tradition can we bring to bear? I'm Leon Adato, and the other voices you're going to hear on this episode are my partners in podcasting crime, Doug Johnson. Doug: 01:01 Hello, Leon: 01:02 and Josh Biggley. Josh: 01:04 Hello. Leon: 01:05 All right. As has become our habit. Let's go ahead and just dive into a moment of shameless self promotion. Doug, kick it off. Doug: 01:12 I'm Doug Johnson. I'm the chief technical officer of WaveRFID. We do really cool stuff with inventory and RFID and weird things like that. Leon: 01:23 He's waving his hands. Doug: 01:25 Wavy hand-waving. I'm an evangelical Christian and you can find information about what we do Leon: 01:33 Great. Josh? Josh: 01:35 Uh, I'm Josh Biggley. I am a tech ops strategy consultant at NewRelic. Yay. You can find me on the Twitters @Jbiggley. You can also find me on LinkedIn @jbiggley. I don't have any other social media. Also Yay. Um, I am a post Mormon and as of a few weeks ago officially ex-Mormon Leon: 01:55 I still am not sure whether I'm supposed to say congratulations about that or not. Josh: 01:59 In my case. Yes. Congratulations. Leon: 02:01 Okay, great. Uh, and I'm Leon Adato. I'm a head geek at SolarWinds. SolarWinds is neither solar nor wind. It's a monitoring vendor. You can find me on the Twitters @LeonAdato. I pontificate on all things technical and sometimes religious at and I identify as an Orthodox Jew. So before we dive into the solution, meaning how do we find ways to be more grateful or experience more gratitude in our technical lives? I want to elaborate on the problem that we're trying to solve a little bit because we're in IT and that's what we do best. Doug: 02:37 Start with the problem. New Speaker: 02:39 Yeah, let's, let's get our scope and then we'll go to the rest. So what is it about working in IT that causes that kind of frustration that I described or causes those moments of frustration to so frequently? Like what are the things that that keep dragging us down? Josh: 02:54 Scope creep. I mean you just talked about scope, right? Oh yeah. Doug: 02:58 Before we go ahead and I want to actually add something to this topic. Okay. I'm just kidding. (laughter) It's just like that, that scope creep people. Again, partial solutions, that's where we think we've got it. We have 80% of it done. It turns out we don't have the 20% that's important, but we've got the 80% done. Leon: 03:21 Right. The 80% that was really easy. And we got done on the first couple of days and then we've been slogging through the rest of it to get the 20th yeah, exactly. Um, I also want to talk about technical debt. It's just a concept that I, I love, I don't love technical debt. I just love the concept of it. It's a great way of describing it. But as it professionals, I think we are the ones who uncover it and then frequently are asked to just ignore it or cover it back up again. But we know it's going to bite us. We know that we've got to deal with it. And I think that that can become frustrating either knowing I have to deal with this and it wasn't on my list of things to do or knowing that it's still lurking out there waiting to rear its ugly head. Doug: 04:00 Right. Or even worse when you're developer doing that, I've got to get this thing done. I've got to get it in this amount of time. And I'm going to create new technical debt cause I can't, I don't have time to actually do this right. Because there may not be time to do it over. Oh, there's never time to do it. Right. But there's always time to do it over. Gee, that never seems to happen. Leon: 04:16 Yeah. You never do it over and there's always times you do it wrong though. Doug: 04:19 Exactly. Well there is, I mean, you know, sometimes you just know in any case I did. It's frustrating. There was, it's what we're talking about here. Right? Frustration. Right. So there you are. Josh: 04:31 I think one of the most soul crushing parts about technical debt, whether you've uncovered it or whether you are the one who is unfortunately having to put it in place is when you know that you have found or you're building technical debt, you take it out to your team or to the larger organization and nobody gives a damn. Yeah, okay. Technical debt's a reality. It's, there are scenarios where you're building something and you have to build an implement today even though you know, six months from now, something's going to change. That's going to make the thing you're doing obsolete. But the fact that nobody cares to talk about it again in six months, that that will open up your, your heart, it will reach in and pull your soul out and squish it and, Leon: 05:21 What a visceral example. Doug: 05:23 I was going to say. I wish I thought you were exaggerating, but I know you're not. You know, as the CTO, my team... And I work with my team on this all the time. It's like we go through the process without, you know, make it work, make it right, make it fast. And we do it in that order. I mean, we did, it's like we just tried to get it to work and we know we're probably, we do our best not to create a technical that while we're making it work, but sometimes you just got to get that sucker out there and then we, we always try to come back to the, "make it right" part and, and, and so I'm not your CTO, Josh, but trust me, if I, we would be, we would care about that technical debt. Josh: 06:01 Aw, I feel so loved. Leon: 06:02 I will say that the dev ops culture, if, if there's anything that, that, uh, can be lauded about the DevOps culture, it's raising the awareness of technical debt and also, um, raising new ways to approach and address it, you know, that the business will understand. But, okay. So another point that I think frustrates us is, you know, when, when you're working on something and especially in a hardware and operating system realm, this seems to come up, but something that goes wrong that according to the vendor or the owner, "well that's never happened before. " Doug: 06:38 Right? Right. Yeah, "it works on my machine. Leon: 06:42 "Works for me." Right. There's a great episode recently, this past week, um, at least as we record this from "Screaming in the Cloud," Corey Quinn, one of Corey Quinn's podcasts where he's talking about... Talking with the founders of Oxide, (which is a great name for a company by the way.) And they, they build sort of a prebuilt, um, rack based solutions. And they said one of their biggest frustrations is working with, with server vendors and being the only one who is having this problem with a GBIC or with memory modules dying too quickly or whatever it was. And they were at a conference talking about their solution and they brought that idea up and they said, you know, "nobody's had this problem" where or whatever, and 17 hands went up and it wasn't the 17 hands that went up of people who all had the problem that the vendors swore up and down the wall no one's ever had. It was as the hands were going up and 17 people were becoming simultaneously infuriated that they realized they weren't the only one having the problem. This was the first moment that they knew it. So that was, you know, again, that's, that's really just, it just again, sucks, sucks your soul right out. Josh: 07:56 I mean, I'll say the worst thing you can do and probably want to this, this same idea, the worst thing that you can do as a service provider is bullshit the people that are paying you for their service. Don't do it. Just don't do it cause they're gonna. They're going to have that moment where they stand in a crowd with 17 other people that are like, "Oh my goodness, I am not the only one." And they're going to, they're going to get really pissed off. Doug: 08:22 All right. And they're going to be at a conference where they can go talk to your competitors. Some of my worst moments were a fat fingering on a production server. I've only done it. I know, I know. I know. But sometimes there you are. I mean, one case, you know, I thought I wason one server, I was on a different server. I wiped out a database. What fun. You know, I don't do these things. Another time I thought it was not on the production server and I was cleaning things up while I was on the production server and the thing that I cleaned up made it stop working and that'll, that's an instant depression. Leon: 08:57 Been there, done that. Josh: 08:58 Yup. Yeah. Copy paste from the internet bad. Uh, don't, don't do it. Leon: 09:04 I will say right now, quotes are never your friend. When you copy paste it, there's, there's one, there's just one that's a smart quote and it's going to screw up everything. Josh: 09:13 Yeah. I'll also say that the reality is every engineer makes mistakes and the absolute worst thing you can do as an engineer is shame. Other engineers, I don't care if you, if you knew how to solve this problem, the moment you know, you sprung forth from your parents' loins. It doesn't matter. You don't shame other engineers. Nobody learns by being shamed. Leon: 09:41 One of the best things that I saw come out of, um, last year, 2019 with, uh, one of the Facebook crashes was in the middle of the crash. It was the, the 24 hour crash or, or whatever it was. It went on for a while and somebody said, "Can we all just understand that right now the Facebook SRS are going through hell and that when we are, when we are armchair quarterbacking, what might be wrong or whatever. We can hold off on the, 'I can't believe they didn't do blah, blah,' like we have all been there and it sucks. And although we have our own feelings about Facebook as a company, these engineers right now are not having a good time and let's just be a little supportive of them." Josh: 10:26 I am nodding emphatically. Doug: 10:28 Yep. The best thing that I ever learned as a senior engineer was basically how to go ahead and make my juniors feel better about the screw ups because... No, I'm serious. I mean the, the whole job of a senior engineer other than being good at what you do is to go ahead and make juniors into seniors and the only way to get a junior to be a senior is to make him not be so afraid to fail that he can't succeed. It's something that I'm good at. I mean, that's one of the few things that I've learned how to do over the years. I used to, used to be terrible at being good to other people, but over the years I've screwed up enough to be able to say to anybody now, "Hi, I've screwed up so much. You have no idea how many years you're going to have to work to even come close to screwing up as bad as I have." And as a result, you can make them feel better about what they're doing and become better engineers. Leon: 11:14 So Yechiel Kalmenson, another voice that that we've had on a few times, took a run at the concept of a 10x engineer. He said, the only valid version of a 10x engineer is an engineer who builds up the engineers around him until they are 10 other people who are just as good as he is. Doug: 11:31 Yup. That's a 10 X. Leon: 11:33 So what we've started to do is roll into the ways that we can create a habit of gratitude and thankfulness and positivity because we recognize as we just went over it. There's a lot of reasons to, you know, walk home, you know, walk to our car at the end of the day just feeling like garbage. Let's talk ways that, that from our professional point of view, I mean we've got, you know, we've got close to a hundred years of experience, sorry, but we have almost a hundred years of experience on this podcast right now. Josh: 12:05 You guys are old! Leon: 12:05 ...but right, exactly. It's just me and Doug. That's where we're carrying the load on that one. So what are some ways from both our professional and also our religious point of view that allow people to build a sense of gratitude about what they do? Because really, at the end of the day, I know that for 30 years I love working in IT. I really enjoy it. You know, I am excited to go to work every day (Most days.) I enjoy the things that I'm able to accomplish. And part of it is that I have a really cool job and all that stuff. But part of it is that I think you have to build the habit of finding those moments that you enjoy because that's what you hold onto. Um, and some of that, just, just to kick it off, is recognizing a success for what it is. I think in it, going back to my intro to this episode, that if you look at it as vast stretches of depression and frustration punctuated by very brief moments of excitement, and then going back to the salt mines, you're not going to be able to maintain a career - a happy career because the, the joy is so brief and the, the non joy is so long lived. I think we have to recognize successes whenever they occur and take a moment and, and appreciate those. You know, when we were little kids it was really clear. Like I spelled my name right, I tied my shoes, I put my pants on, not backward. I, you know, like whatever. Now, the bar's raised a slightly for some of us, uh, before the show started we were talking about why pants might or might not be necessary, you know, at work. Beyond coming to work dressed appropriately. I think there are moments when we need to recognize that that was really a success. You know, sometimes just getting the config change and not breaking that router, that is a success. Doug: 13:56 There's a whole way of doing dev now that actually gives you that the whole test driven development. Basically you, you, you go ahead and build a test that fails, and then you write code to make that test succeed. And so you actually are giving yourself a whole series of successes during the day. And when you get that little green light that's, you know, that's actually building successes in your days. Now you can't get up and go home after every green bar. But the reality is you can, you can at least get us, you can get smiles throughout the day that you wouldn't get otherwise. Leon: 14:28 Right? And, and my point is to take a longer moment to bask in that, just to appreciate that green dot. Just to take a moment and appreciate. Don't just like, "All right, finally, that one's done. Next!" No, take a second. Joss Whedon talked about his process as a writer and he said, I am. I'm like a little monkey. Like I am very reward driven. I wrote one good line of dialogue, have a cookie. Like he says, I do my best writing in a cafe for particularly a dessert cafe because I will go get another slice of chocolate cake. It's not good for my waist, but it is very good for, you know, like I am happy. Yay. I wrote another paragraph. So however you do it, take a longer moment to recognize that success. Josh: 15:15 I like to think to our success is that we enjoy the things that, that we need to spend time, um, pondering on. They don't have to be the same for everyone. Look for Joss Whedon. Maybe writing that paragraph is, that's a moment of joy for him. Leon, I happened to know that you can churn out a ridiculous amount of, uh, writing in a very short period of time. And so for you, a paragraph is like, "Okay, I just exercise my keyboard for 30 seconds, you know, let's crank this bad boy up to Mach speed." The reality is sometimes, and we talked a couple of episodes ago and then we talked in our wrap up episode last week about, you know, my admission that I suffer from depression sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning and I work from home like, like both of you. So pants are often optional, but just getting out of bed in the morning and sitting down in front of, um, my, my laptop, that can be a win and we need, we need to recognize how powerful that is. And when we look around the world and we're, and we say to ourselves, "Well, I haven't accomplished X, Y, or Z," or "I haven't done the things that, you know, my brother, my sister, my father, my best friend, some random person on Instagram," (which is why I'm not an Instagram or Facebook) that will sap us of the gratitude that, as a friend of mine who is, uh, in his eighties says, "I sat up and took nourishment today. It's a good day." And he's been saying that for decades. It's not because he's in his eighties, he's remarkably spry for being in his eighties. But for him it's, "I sat up, I put food in my mouth. It's a good day." Leon: 17:03 So again, just to circle back, I think that having that childlike, not childish sense of accomplishment, uh, Josh, to your point that you need to know where you are. You know, accomplishment for me is not the accomplishment for my siblings. Especially when you have different aged kids. You know, some can reach the top of the shelf and some, you know, need to get a step stool or whatever it is. But, uh, I think our accomplishments are the same way. Um, my, one of my bosses, Tiffany Nels is a famous around the office for saying "compare and despair". There's a video that was one of the inspiration pieces for this episode and it said that that social media is a big driver for people's sense of dissatisfaction. Uh, there's been studies that demonstrate that after 15 minutes of being on social media, people are measurably less happy about their lives. Now, I'm not saying everyone bail on Facebook, (although there's a lot of IT security reasons to bail on Facebook), but maybe remember that. And again, in the sense of having gratitude, maybe control limit, uh, put into context the amount of social media you consume and how you allow it to influence your life. Um, and also when other people at the office are getting things done, remember that their to do list is not your to do list. Your to do list, maybe get up, get to the keyboard, right? A couple of good emails and that that was your list for the day. That's, that's an accomplishment. Josh: 18:40 I have also really grateful when my coworkers are accomplishing really awesome things when, when, when they've hit their stride, I'm grateful we work together. There is not a competition. It's not about, you know, whether dog or Leon, whether you're doing more than I am. We're on this team together and if you're killing it and I'm having a really rough day executing it, that's okay. It's why we're not independent contractors. It's why we don't work as long walls. And even, I mean, the reality is even if you are an independent contractor, you're working with a team that's not you. Uh, this whole idea that there, and we've talked about this before on this, on this podcast, there is no rock star individual. There is no individual who you can hire and bring into your environment that is going to save your company. If you're looking for that person, your company was probably in trouble already. Doug: 19:43 You're done. Leon: 19:43 Yeah. Yeah. There's other bigger problems to to fix. Josh: 19:46 I just, I want to call out as well that Doug and I, we had this, we have a shared history here since we both come from a Christian backgrounds in Matthew 18 and the Bible, and I'm going to quote the King James version because that's the version I grew up with. It says, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same as the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." And Leon, that ties back to your very first comments when we're trying to figure out how to be grateful, how to be thankful is kids are, they are just overjoyed with the little things in life. You know how many times as a kid, and I remember doing this, you're laying on the grass on a warm summer day and you're like, this is good, and you'll look up and you'd like see clouds. You're like, Oh my goodness. That one looks like a rhinoceros. Like you're like, Oh, I saw a cloud. Or you find a four leaf clover, or you manage to ride your bike and not crash it. There's so many things as a kid you're just grateful for and take that for what it is. We really need to be like little children in our gratitude, have it be abundant. Doug: 20:53 The thing is, you can go ahead and get some gratitude by, by comparing yourself, because I have people all the time. They'll complain about their life and I'll go, okay, let's go to Wikipedia and let's look at the annual income, uh, of most countries. And half of them are below $1,000 a year. And I'm going, okay, so how bad is your life? Again, look at what you've got here in most of the first world and just stop complaining. Leon: 21:16 So again, in the video that that was the inspiration. They talked about people who have gone through some kind of trauma in the illness or an accident or whatever it is, and whose lives have returned to some form of normalcy after that event. And they're having the exact same experiences. They're eating breakfast and they're reading a book, whatever. But the, that experience has completely transformed for them into one of gratitude because they know how tenuous it is. They know what it's like to not have had that or not have been able to do it. And maybe even to think that they were never going to have that experience again and now they're having it. So again, same coffee, same cereal in the bowl, but a completely different thing. How much better would it be if we could contextualize that and say, wow, you know, it doesn't have to be like this. That, that for many of us, uh, the experiences that we're having are largely based on the zip code to which we were born. And you know, that's, that's why I'm here and just be, be grateful for it. I, I also think so there's a fairly famous story that goes around and, and I've heard the Jewish version of it, um, the story goes quickly like this. Leon: 22:34 "There was a queen who went to her counselors asking for a piece of wisdom. She said that she needed something, a phrase or an idea that was short, so short, that could be inscribed on a ring that would keep her humble in times of success, but also that same phrase would, uh, give her hope in times of trouble or, or sorrow. And so the scholars who worked for her came back after some thought and they gave her the phrase 'gam ze yaavo', which is Hebrew for 'This, too, shall pass.' " Leon: 23:10 Now, when you hear that story frequently, your first dot goes to the bat, right? Oh, something's really, really bad. But this too shall pass. It's only a minute. The hard drive crash. But trust me, next week this will be a distant memory. You're going to laugh about it, Leon. It's going to be okay. But I want to point out that equally true is that if something is going well, this phrase, this too shall pass not to, not to rain on your parade as a, well, you know, you think it's good now, but tomorrow is going to be crap again. No. Is that appreciate it while it's here, it's not going to be here forever. This is going to pass, so appreciate every moment of it that you have it. Doug: 23:50 There is so much that's a femoral in all of the highs or the lows. I mean a lot of it's kind of right in the middle and the, there's all kinds of studies that show that if things go really great after a little while they won't seem that great. Even if they're just as great as they were, they won't even seem that great anymore. So you need to go ahead and appreciate those moments when they happen both behind the low for that matter. I mean it did it even at the lows, you're feeling something. Leon: 24:16 Working in it in, in enterprises and really any business we can get caught up in the business mantra of, you know, "higher, better, faster, stronger. Next quarter has to be better than this one..."And I think that that's an unhealthy thing. It's healthy for the company. Obviously the company should always be on a growth, you know, a growth plan. But for IT, I think doing just as well today as you did yesterday is fan freaking tastic. And that if you do just as well tomorrow as you did today as you did yesterday as you did last week, still a win. Still totally 100% in the win column. Doug: 24:59 We're keeping the joint running. Leon: 25:01 Yes, exactly. Josh: 25:02 I am going to call out the, within religion there is a potentially toxic idea that you must always be progressing and that that continuous progression is the only thing that separates you from falling behind everybody else. It's that idea that everyone else around you is improving. If you're not improving, if you're not getting better every single day, then you're actually falling behind. You cannot stand stand still, and I've heard this many times, "if you are standing still, you are actually falling behind." Let's be honest, that in the game of life you are not competing against anybody else. It is you against you. It's who you are now versus who you were yesterday and who you want to be tomorrow. That's it. And have it doesn't matter how many toys do you have? It doesn't matter how many friends do you have. It doesn't matter. Okay. Maybe if they're really cool toys.. (laughter) No, no, it does not matter how many toys you have. It doesn't matter how much money you have, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is your competition against yourself. And once we set all of this ridiculous competition, and I am not a competitive person, I really, I make a great socialist. I really do. I yay Canada. Um, because I, I'm just, I'm not competitive. Once we set all of that aside, then we can get into some of the things that I think are really important around our authenticity to each other in the engagements that we have. And then we start doing things not because we're getting some sort of intrinsic reward or maybe we are getting an intrinsic reward, but we don't recognize it. We're, we're doing things because it makes other people feel better. And making other people feel better, helps us feel better. And that to me is how we show that, that real gratitude. So just want to call out that some people in religious context really take this whole, "I have to be better. Um, because if I'm not, if I'm not better, if I'm not making greater sacrifices, if I'm not doing whatever thing it is that your religion says you should do, then somehow I'm a bad person." That's just toxic. Leon: 27:11 Trying to take the concept of sins, which is a, uh, it can be very weird depending on your religious or ethical background, but saying, "well, I sinned. I failed on this and therefore I am points down" treating observance as a zero sum game. I'm 50 points up. I'm 25 points behind is really unhealthy. The Jewish idea is that your experience of that, your free will, your struggle is at a point, a particular point. And that's where your struggle is. And the comment from one of the really great rabbis of, of our time, Akiva Tatz where he talks about, you know, "do you remember this morning where you woke up and you really struggled with yourself not to go out on the street and mug an old lady and steal her purse?" Josh: 28:00 I do. Leon: 28:01 Yeah. No, you're Canadian. I know for many of us that doesn't even enter into our mind. So did we exercise free will in choosing not to mug an old lady and steal their purse? Of course we didn't. It's that, it's not even on the table. It's not even the list of things. That our point of like if you want to say the word sin or, or observance or whatever is wherever we're struggling. And that's a very personal thing. And it's again, not points up points behind. It's "how am I doing in that one area, in that area that I struggle with today?" Hopefully you are moving the bar up, but in the same way that I don't count my exercise regimen against Lance Armstrong (because I would be dead if I tried to keep up), I can't count myself against anyone else. Again, back to, you know, Tiffany Nels compare and despair. Doug: 28:54 Evangelical Christianity does the same thing when it, when it does it right in that there are sins and you acknowledge your sin and then you're forgiving of it and you move on and improve. Now, unfortunately in the toxic area of evangelical Christianity, as Josh notes, uh, we point out YOUR sins. And your sins are worse than my sin. So therefore you're really, really bad. And I'm just saying it's, it's, it's like when Christianity, real Christianity and I'm, you know, says it they're your sins and you deal with them and, and it gives you a way to go ahead and work, work through and become a better person. But boy it's your, it gets turned backwards an awful, awful lot of the times. Josh: 29:37 I was, I was worried Doug, I thought you were reading my emails cause I just emailing Leon about your sins. I was a weird, there you go. Doug: 29:47 And you accused Leon of writing too much stuff. Leon: 29:51 We know you can't listen to our podcast all day. So out of respect for your time, we've broken this particular conversation up. Come back next week and we'll continue our conversation. Josh: 30:01 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 with us on social media. Speaker 1: 30:15 To quote Jacques Maritain "Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy."  

Jan 2020

30 min 20 sec

In our last episode of the season Josh and Leon look back at the stories that most stood out and the data that shows how we performed; and then look ahead to what next year will bring. Stick with us as we highlight some of the greatest moments of season one, and chart a course into season 2. Listen or read the transcript below. Josh: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh - or at least not conflict - with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Leon: 00:23 It's our last episode of the year. And so we're going to do what every major Hollywood production does. Josh: 00:27 Take a vacation to Hawaii and bring the film crew so we can expense it? Leon: 00:31 Uh, no. Josh: 00:32 And then do a retrospective episode so that we don't have to actually create that much! Leon: 00:36 Okay, so you're half right. Actually, maybe a third, right? Because we're still going to do a full episode. Josh: 00:40 And no Hawaii? Leon: 00:42 No Hawaii. So let's dive right in. I'm Leon Adato. Josh: 00:47 And I'm Josh Biggley. And while we normally start the show with a shameless self promotion today we're going to do an end of the year economy size version. Like we shopped at Costco, Leon: 00:57 Right, exactly. For all this stuff that we need for the end of year, all our parties and everything like that. Right. So instead of introducing just the two of us, we're going to introduce everyone who's been on the podcast this year. So here we go! Um, Josh, kick it off. Josh: 01:11 All right, so, uh, Josh Biggley, Tech Ops Strategy Consultant. Now with New Relic. You can find me on the Twitters @jbiggley. I am officially as of this last week officially. ex-Mormon. Leon: 01:20 Do I say congratulations? Josh: 01:22 I think so. Maybe there's a hallmark card for it. I don't know, but yeah, no, we officially resigned this week. It came through a Thursday, Wednesday. I don't remember. Uh, yeah, so that's it. We're done. Leon: 01:33 Okay. All right. And, uh, I'm Leon Adato. I'm a Head Geek at SolarWinds. You can find me on the Twitters @LeonAdato. I also pontificate on technical and religious things at I am still Orthodox Jewish. I am not ex anything. Uh, and in the show notes, just so you know, we're going to list out everybody that we talk about in the next few minutes along with all of their social media connections and the episodes they appear in so you can look them up. We're just going to go back and forth on this one. So I'm going to kick it off. Doug Johnson was on our show. He's the CTO of WaveRFID. Josh: 02:08 Destiny Bertucci is the product manager at SolarWinds... uh, "A" product manager. They have lots of them. You can find her on the Twitters @Dez_sayz, Leon: 02:17 And also a program manager at Solarwinds, Kate Asaff. Josh: 02:21 All right. And Roddie Hasan, Technical Solutions Architect at Cisco. Leon: 02:25 Al Rasheed, who's contractor and virtualization admin. Extra-ordinaire. Josh: 02:28 Indeed. Xtrordinair, a Mike Wise president of blockchain wisdom. I see. I see what he did there. Leon: 02:35 Yeah, yeah. Blockchain wisdom, Wise-dom, right, whatever. Okay. Keith Townsend, who is CEO of CTO Advisor Josh: 02:43 Yechiel Kalmenson is a software engineer at Pivotal. Yay. Leon: 02:47 Yay. I'm so glad that you got to say his name again. Cory Adler, who's lead developer at park place. Josh: 02:53 Rabbi. Ben Greenberg is developer advocate at Vonage. Leon: 02:57 Steven Hunt or "Phteven" as we like to call him, Steven Hunt, who is senior director of product management at DataCore software. Josh: 03:04 All right. Leon, you're going to have to help me here because I know I'm going to mis-pronounce this name. Leon: 03:08 Go for it. It's a hard "H". It's a hard H. Josh: 03:11 Hame? Chame? Leon: 03:11 Chaim (Cha-yim). Josh: 03:11 Okay. Chaim Weiss a front end angular developer at DecisionLink there. I feel like we probably should have done that a little different and not made the guy who does not, um, you know, speak, Leon: 03:25 No, I think we did it exactly right. Josh: 03:29 You are a scoundrel. Leon: 03:30 I am. So, Hey, you can have me say all the hard, uh, Mormon names. Josh: 03:37 Definitely. Oh, we need to insert some of those. All right, let's talk about numbers cause I mean, I, I, I'm a number geek. I love numbers. You called me out today on Twitter, uh, because I was complaining about a certain hundred billion dollar investment account that has certain former, uh, church that I have or a church that I formerly belonged to, might have. And I was comparing it to the bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Um, our numbers don't have nearly as many zeros. Leon: 04:02 No, not nearly as much. Um, and the numbers we're talking about are not financial. The numbers that we're going to talk about is just, uh, who's been listening to the episode. So, uh, I think I mentioned the top of the show. This is our last episode. It's number 38 for the year. We got a late start in the year, but we've been almost every week. So 38 episodes, uh, and yay. And you can find us on a variety of platforms you can find us on. I'm just going to do this in one breath. iTunes, Spotify, Google play, Stitcher pocket cast, Podbean, YouTube, PlayerFM , iHeartRadio. And of course you can listen directly from the website at https://www, Josh: 04:37 Wow, congratulations. That was well done. Leon: 04:39 Thank you. Josh: 04:41 All right, so, um, let's talk about who's listening. I mean, or maybe how many people are listening. So as of this recording or prior to this recording, um, we've had 2100... Over 2100 listens and downloads. OVER 21... Does that mean like 2101 or we. Leon: 04:57 It's anything between 2101 and a billion. Josh: 05:00 Sweet. Leon: 05:01 But you have to figure that if it was anything close to say 3000, we probably would have said it. Josh: 05:05 That that is true. So over 2100 listens and because we like math, that's about 50 listeners per episode. Thanks mom. Appreciate. Leon: 05:14 Right. It's yeah, it's not necessarily listened nerves, it's just people who've listened. So yes, it could have been both of our moms clicking the podcast repeatedly. Hopefully that's not the case. And in those 2100 listens, the results are that the top five episodes for the year based on the listen count. Uh, our number one episode is also our number one episode, "Religious Synergy". Podcast episode number one is first with 89 listeners. Josh: 05:42 That's going way back, way back. Tied actually for number one, but not the first episode was episode 12"Ffixing the World One Error Message at a Time." That was a good episode. Leon: 05:55 It really was. There were some amazing aha moments for me in that one. Uh, number three is episode 17, "Pivoting Our Career on the Tip of a Torah Scroll," which is where I was talking with Cory Adler, Rabbi Ben Greenberg, and Yechiel Kalmenson about their respective transitions from the rabbinate from rabbinic life or just Yeshiva life into becoming programmers, which was kind of a weird, interesting pivot in and of itself. And that had 76 listeners. Josh: 06:25 Following up to... I mean, that really riveting discussion. I mean, honestly, it, it, it was very interesting to me is this whole idea of a possible imposter syndrome, which apparently I'm imposing on you by making you listen to this episode? I don't know. Um, episode 11 was "Imposter Syndrome" with 71 listeners. Um, I would encourage others to listen to it because it's still very, very relevant. Leon: 06:51 Yeah. Yeah, there was, again, that was another one where I think we had a few aha moments both in, in ourselves. Like, "Oh, that's right. That's it. You know, that's a good way to look at it. That's an interesting way to..." You know, some and some ways to deal with imposter syndrome, which I think in IT is definitely a thing. Um, and the last of the top five is episode three. So going again, way back, "Being a Light Unto the Nations During a Sev One Call," I think the "sev one call" was what got people's attention. Um, and that had 68 listeners. Josh: 07:20 I want to point out that this is the first time in my entire career that I have not been on call. Leon: 07:26 Wow. Leon: 07:27 Right. I realized that my very first, I mean maybe my second week at new Relic, I was like, Oh my goodness, I'm not on call anymore. I, no one's going to call me when there's a Sev One. It was weird. Leon: 07:38 Yeah. That's a, that's a, and that's something we're going to talk about in the coming year. One of the episodes is how we have to, uh, almost rewire our brain for different, um, positive feedback loops when we change, when we significantly change our role. And that was something that actually, uh, Charity Majors talked about on Twitter about a month ago is going from developer to CEO / CTO, and then back to developer and how it's just a completely different positive reinforcement model and what that's like, what that does and we'll talk about that. But yeah, it's, it's really weird when you make the transition. Um, as far as numbers, I also want to talk about where people are listening from. Uh, I will say "obviously:... Obviously the, the largest number of our listeners, uh, come from the United States about, uh, 1,586 or 82% of our listeners from the U S but that's not everything. It's, you know, it's not all about the U S as many people not in the U S remind us. Josh: 08:33 I mean, Canada's pretty far down the list. I mean, the UK came in at number two at 104. So thanks Jez (Marsh) for listening to all of our episodes. Three times. Is that the way it works? Leon: 08:44 Yeah, something like that. That was the numbers, right? Three again, you know, a couple of our UK listeners just kept on clicking. Um, interestingly, number three position is Israel with 73 listens. So I can think of a few people, Ben Greenberg being one of them, but Sharone Zeitzman and a few other and Aaron Wolf, uh, are people I know there, but who knows where those are. The, you know, 70 clicks came from. Josh: 09:06 Are you asking your son to click every week as well? Leon: 09:09 He actually is in Yeshiva. He doesn't have access. Josh: 09:11 Oh, interesting. So you're not, you're not gaming. All right. I get you're not gaming the system. I appreciate that. Um, so number four, Germany, um, I don't know anyone on German. Well... Nope, no. Leon: 09:22 Well Sasha Giese, another Head Geek. He's in Germany. Well, actually he's in Cork, but I don't know what kind of, how he VPNs things. So he's either the United, the UK folks or he's the Germany folks. Who knows. Um, let's see. Number five position is Finland with 38 listeners. And then we get to... Josh: 09:39 Canada!! Leon: 09:39 Oh, Canada, Josh: 09:42 28. Um, yeah. Yay. VPN. I'll tell him and I say, okay, so Canadians need to up your game. Leon: 09:50 Puerto Rico comes in next with 8 listens or 8 listeners. It's hard to tell. Josh: 09:55 Austria? Leon: 09:55 Austria. Josh: 09:55 People listen from Austria? Leon: 09:59 They listened to us from Australia. Josh: 10:00 Five people in Austria. Yay. Austria. Leon: 10:02 Right? And Australia, not to be confused with Austria. Uh, also five listens and number 10: Josh: 10:07 Uh, Czech Republic number four. All right, with four. I don't know what about in the Czech Republic either. Leon: 10:13 So I know a lot of, uh, SolarWinds, developers are in the Czech Republic. So that could be, that could be it. So thank you. There's, there's more stats than that. I mean, you know, it, it goes down all the way to Vietnam and the Philippines, and they are the ones with one listen each, I don't know who it is, whoever the person is from Belgium. Thank you for listening. Same thing for France in Japan. But, uh, we appreciate all the people who are listening. Josh: 10:36 Our Bahamas listeners, all two of you, if you'd like us to come and visit, we've been more than happy to do that, especially during the cold winter months. So I mean, just get ahold of us. We'll arrange, we'll arrange flights. Leon: 10:47 And, and uh, the two listeners from Switzerland, um, I apologize for everything I might say about Switzerland. I didn't have a delightful time when I was there in 2000. Uh, and I'm kind of take it out on you sometimes, so thank you for listening. Anyway. All right, so where are people, is this, that's weird geographically, but how are people listening? I know I listed out the type, the platforms that we, uh, promote on, but actually people are listening in a variety of different ways. What are, some of them aren't? Josh: 11:15 So browser, uh, 370, that's almost 20% of you are listening in the browser, which means, Hey, you're listening to us at work. Great. And I'll get back to work and do your job, right? Leon: 11:23 Well, they can, they can listen while they work. It's okay. All right. Josh: 11:26 Whistle while they work? Leon: 11:27 No, listen, listen. Josh: 11:30 Oh. I thought we were promoting Disney+ all of a sudden. Leon: 11:31 No we are not promoting Disney+. We are not going to do that. Um, the next, uh, platform or agent that's being used is Overcast, which is interesting. Uh, 235 listens, came from, um, over the overcast platform, Josh: 11:44 uh, Apple podcasts coming in at 168. Leon: 11:47 So I'm willing to bet that that's destiny and Kate who are both Apple fanatics and they are just clicking repeatedly. Josh: 11:53 That's nice. Yay. Thank you. Thank you for clicking repeatedly. We appreciate that. OKhttp. I don't even know what that is. Leon: 12:00 It's an interesting little platform that some people are using and it's number four on the list. So 165 listens. PocketCasts is 133 listens. M. Josh: 12:10 My preferred platform, actually a Podcast Addict, a 124. Leon: 12:14 Spotify, which actually is how I like to listen to a lot of stuff. Spotify has 96 listens, Josh: 12:19 The PodBean app, 94 listens. Leon: 12:22 Right. And that's actually how we're hosting. We'll talk about that in a minute. iTunes. So, I'm not sure exactly the differentiation between the Apple podcast in iTunes, but iTunes is at 72 listens. And in the number 10 spot: Josh: 12:33 Google podcasts where I started listening to a lot of podcasts, 70 listens, and then, I mean the list is pretty long after that, but there's a lot of diversity out there. Leon: 12:42 Yeah. It's not just like one, one, one, one, one, you know, all the way down after that. I, you know, there's, there's a bunch of them, PlayerFM and Bullhorn and, and CFnetwork and things like that. So... Josh: 12:51 WatchOS? Leon: 12:52 Yeah, watchOS people listening to it on their watch, now. It's, you know, I mean, you know, and you've got, you know, iHeartRadio, Facebook app, um, you know, Twitter app. People are listening to us in a lot of different ways, which is kind of issues. So, so what do these numbers tell us? Okay, so those are the numbers, but what are we getting from this? Josh: 13:08 Um, people in the US like the listen to us on their watches. That would be a connection that you could possibly draw, but probably not accurate. I, the first thing is, you know, we have a long way to go. I think that 2000 listens in the better part of a year, 50 listens per episode. If you just divide it mathematically, um, there's, there's a lot more growth that we can do. So if you're listening and you think, "Oh, you know, it'd be so much easier to listen to this if you just..." Blah, blah, please let us know. Um, you know, we want to make this interesting and listen-able, whether you are listening to it live or meaning, you know, from a podcast platform or you're reading it through a transcript or what have you, please let us know what we can do to make the podcast more consumable for you or your friends or family or coworkers. Josh: 13:56 If that suggestion is that I don't participate anymore as well to make up more or listen-able, I mean, let Leon know and he'll let me down gently. Leon: 14:05 Right? And vice versa, vice versa. I could see it going either way. Josh: 14:09 Definitely. Leon: 14:11 So, so, right. And I think also the numbers are interesting in terms of the ways that people are listening. And I think that tells us something a little bit about where we might want to advertise or promote. Along the way that, you know, that Overcast was really a surprise for me. I did not expect that. It's not on the list of things that I had targeted. Um, and yet there it is. You know, people were listening to it, so that might tell us where we want to reach out to people. Josh: 14:33 And it's funny too because both you and I participate a fair bit on Twitter and LinkedIn and we've been known to, I mean both retweet and post about our podcast on those two platforms. I mean, I'm, I surprised because I would've expected more people to be listening, via one of those platforms like Twitter, you know, in tweet listening. So... Leon: 14:56 Yeah, it is interesting. And maybe that's something we need to find a way to enable more of. I dunno. I dunno. Um, you know, that's, so we're going to, we're going to dig through those numbers, um, and see what else we can find. Again, if you see something in those numbers that we didn't let us know. The next thing I want to do is go relatively quickly through some behind the scenes we've had. I've had some folks ask, "Well, how exactly do you make the podcast?" Um, either because they're interested in doing one of their own or because they just, you know, are interested in that stuff. So, uh, the behind the scenes stuff, first of all, we use a variety of microphones because we have guests from all over the place. So since Josh and I are, are the two primary voices you're going to hear, I use a blue Yeti microphone, um, which I love. Josh: 15:37 Yeah. And I use a job for pro nine 30, which I use both for work and for the podcast. I think the takeaway here is you don't have to go and drop a hundred or 200 or more on a specialized a microphone if you're just going to be doing a podcast from home. And if you're going to have more than one guest, it gets really awkward when people want to hug up against my face to talk into my mic. Leon: 16:02 Yeah. At least to some awkward questions, you know, in the house, Josh: 16:05 right? Yeah. So you know why, why do you have Leon's whiskers on your sweater? Leon: 16:13 Right, exactly. So yeah, you don't need a lot. Now again, I, I'm really enjoying the blue Yeti. Um, Destiny turned me on to it. Uh, when we first started doing, you know, talk about podcasts and doing them and it was really a worthwhile investment for me, but I wholly support what Josh was saying is you can get good quality sound out of a, a variety of low end low cost microphones. To record the podcast we use cast, which you can... Josh: 16:40 OK. Hold on a second, can I just, can I point out how awesome it is that a bunch of D&D geeks use a platform called "Cast" to record this show? Leon: 16:49 Yes. Okay. It is kind of cool and yes, I do. I do have a little bit of nerdery in my head. And I say, "Okay, I'm going to cask now... HOYYYY!" Oh, you'll find cast at Um, so you can find that there and it's really economical. It's 10 bucks a month for, I think it's 20 hours of recording. So for a home podcast you can fit the time that you... And you can export individual tracks or you can export a premixed version or whatever. It gives you a lot of nice granular controls and they even serve as a hosting platform, but we're not using it. And speaking of exporting, I export individual tracks for each voice and then I'll do the audio editing in Audacity, a free tool. It does everything that I need it to do. And if the sound is horrible, it's my fault because I'm, it's me using Audacity. If the sound is amazing and you love it, it's purely because Sudacity is an amazing tool to use. Josh: 17:50 Wait... we edit this show? Leon: 17:51 We do. I tried to take out a lot of the ums and ahs and every once in a while we really mess up and we have to go back or something like that. I edit that out. Most of the time. I think episode 11 ended up the unedited version ended up getting posted, but we didn't say anything terribly embarrassing in that one. Josh: 18:07 We usually say all sorts of terribly embarrassing things that we publish well, Leon: 18:11 Right, right. The embarrasing stuff is the best part. Josh: 18:16 Um, so we, uh, we as an ep, as a podcast, we try to be very inclusive and accessible. And, uh, for our listeners who don't actually listen, who are hearing impaired, we use Temi, uh, for doing transcription. And I mean, that's, that's something that I picked up from you, uh, about halfway through this year. And I've really enjoyed that experience. And today as we were prepping for the show, I realized that doing the transcription isn't just for people who are hearing impaired. It's also very much for us. Because we post all of those transcriptions and I was looking for a particular episode, something that we had said in those these past 37 episodes and I was able to go and search on and just find it, boom. Just like that. Leon: 19:03 Right. So that, that is a, a secondary benefit that I like. Of course I said that we needed to do transcribing because I have a lot of friends who are Deaf or hard of hearing. I also have a lot of friends for whom English is not their first language. And so having the transcript works really well. Uh, and yes, it makes it very searchable. We can go back and find where we said something really easily. You don't have to listen to hours and hours of, uh, of recordings just to see "now, where was it that Doug talked about being the worst person to invite to a Christmas party..." Or whatever, which was hysterical by the way. Um, so yeah, it, it's, it comes in really handy and a little bit of extra work. Um, we host on PodBean, I mentioned that earlier. So that's where the episode gets uploaded to when it's finally done. And PodBean pushes things out to just about everything else. It pushes out to iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, um, a whole mess of platforms. And then I manually repost it to and uh, that does the promotion, the actual promotion of the episode out to Twitter, Facebook, um, and LinkedIn. Josh: 20:06 Interesting. And then I think that it's important that our listeners know that we invest between three and five hours per episode. Well, we've certainly gone longer. Some of our episodes and the prep, the recording and then the dissecting, I mean we're probably up around 8, sometimes 10 hours for a particular set of episodes. You know, those two-part-ers that we've done, you know, they've run really long, but yeah, three to five hours a week, uh, on top of our full time gigs as uh, husbands and fathers, uh, and jobs. Apparently we have to have jobs in order to make money and feed ourselves. So yeah, it's a labor of love. Leon: 20:43 Yeah. My family is much, they're much more uh, solicitous of my saying "I want to go record a podcast" Josh: 20:48 when they've eaten, you know, regular. Yes. Yeah. They're totally accepting of that. Right? Leon: 20:53 Yeah. It makes things easier. And you know, the, I think the message there is that if, if you feel the itch to do a podcast, it's accessible. It's relatively easy to do. It requires more or less some free or cheap software. I told you the cast is $10 a month. Um, Tammy, one of the reasons why I like it is that it is 10 cents a minute for the transcribing. So, you know, a 30 minute episode is $3. Nice. It's really, really affordable to do so, you know, the costs are relatively low. Um, between that and hosting and um, Podbean. So it's really accessible to do. You know, don't think that there's a barrier to entry that that money or even level of effort is a very true entry. And that means also that you can take a shot at it, make some mistakes, figure it out. I fully ascribed to IRA Glass' story that he did about, uh, the gap that when you first start to do something, there's this gap between what you see in your head in terms of quality and how it comes out initially that it's not, it may not be what you envision it can be, but you have to keep at it. You have to keep trying because ultimately you'll get there because it's your, your sensibility of, and your vision. That really is what's carrying you through. Not necessarily your technical acumen at the start. That comes later. So that just, you know, it just a little encouragement. If you think you want to do this, absolutely try reach out to us on the side, either on social media or email or whatever and say, "Hey, I just need some help getting started." Or "Can you walk me through the basics of this or that," you know, we would love to help see another fledgling podcast get off the ground. Josh: 22:28 This is why I had four children. The first three. I'm like, all right, that's uh, uh, obviously I've really messed up. And the fourth one, or maybe I should have a fifth. I dunno, Leon: 22:38 Who knows? Well, okay. So I, I routinely and publicly refer to my oldest daughter as my 'pancake kid'. You know, when you're making pancakes and, uh, you make the first one and it's like overdone on one side and kind of squishy on the other and misshapen and kind of, you know, that's, and the rest of them come out perfectly circular and golden Brown and cooked all the way through because the griddle's finally up to the right temperature and everything. But the first pancake that first pancake comes out and it's just a little weird. And my daughter is the pancake kid. So, uh, moving on from pancake children and how the sausage gets made, having made the sausage, I think we both have some moments in some episodes that were our favorites. And I'd like to start off, uh, I got a little bit nostalgic, um, about this. So my top favorite moment was actually when we had Al Rasheed on and you and Al ended up getting into this 80's music nostalgia showdown where every other comment was, you know, an oblique reference to some song that was, you know, top 40 radio at some point during the decade. It was by end of the episode. It was just. It was wonderful and awful and cringe-worthy and delightful all at the same time. And I just sat there with my jaw hanging open, laughing constantly. I had to mute myself. It was amazing. Josh: 23:59 Wow. I mean, Cher would say, if we, "if I could turn back time..." Leon: 24:05 See? See? It was like this, it was like this for 35 minutes straight. It was nothing but this. Okay. So that was one. The second one was, and we talked about this, uh, earlier with the top episodes Fixing the World One Error Message at a Time. There were just some amazing overlaps that came out during that episode. You know, where we saw that, you know, the pair programming may have had its roots, whether it knows it or not in the idea of chevruta, or partner style learning in Yeshiva that, you know, that was just a total like, Oh my goodness. Like again, an aha moment for me. So that was a really interesting one as we were talking about it and finally, not a specific episode, but just every episode that, that we were together and that's most of them, the time that I got to spend with you, Josh, you know, as we planned out the show, sort of 30, 40 minutes of prep time before we record and we just had a chance to catch up on our lives and our families and things like that and really share it. And that's something that the audience is never going to necessarily hear. We weren't recording and it's just, you know, it was just personal banter between us. But you know, uh, we worked together for a very brief time, you know, at the same company, but then we worked together, you know, on the same tools and the same projects far longer than that. And this was, this really just gave us a chance to deepen that friendship. And I really value that. And to that end, the episode that is, that is titled failure to launch, for me, was really a very personal moment. It was a really hard moment for me where my son was going through a hard time. And as a parent, when you see your kid struggling, it just tears you apart. And both the prep and actually the execution of that episode I think was for me, a Testament to our friendship, you know, in audio like in a podcast. That was, that was you being really supportive of me and helping me think through and talk through those moments. And um, you shared a lot of yourself in that episode also. And, and I think that was sort of emblematic of the, again, the secondary benefit of the podcast. The first benefit is just being able to share these ideas and stories with the public. But the secondary benefit for me was just how much friendship we were able to build and share throughout the, this last year. Josh: 26:22 And I, I have to remind the audience that your son, he stayed in Israel, right. And he's doing absolutely fantastic. So that time for you and I to commiserate for, to be a virtual shoulder, um, to, you know, snuggle your head on and yeah, t. Leon: 26:40 That's how the whiskers got there! Angela, if you're listening, that's, that's how it happened. Josh: 26:45 That is absolutely how it happened. Leon: 26:47 Don't think anything else. Josh: 26:49 No, I agree that those, those are the things that you don't really, you don't really value until suddenly they happen. And you realize that for the past year we've spent more time together than probably most of my friends. It's just weird. I mean life is busy and you squeezed friendships in between other things, but this was something that we carved out every week. So, I mean, I got to spend 90 minutes to 120 minutes a week just chatting with you on top of the chatting we did in social media and whatnot. So a 100% super powerful. Um, I often say, uh, you know, my best friend in the world, um, doesn't live anywhere near me. Uh, he lives in Cleveland, so that's great. So I, Leon: 27:34 And that's the amazing part about the internet in general. But yeah, this podcast has helped. Okay. So those were, those were my favorites. Josh, you know what are yours? I've got the tissues out. Josh: 27:41 Yeah, you got em? All right. So my first one was recently outing. Um, I'm making you out yourself and your ongoing feud with Adam Sandler. Leon: 27:52 Sorry Adam. It goes all the way back to college. Uh, couldn't stand you. You are, I'm sure you're a much better person now, but you were impossible to deal with back then. Josh: 28:01 I mean, we were all, we were all impossible to deal with at that age. I'm just going to point that out. There's a reason that we send our kids to college. Just saying. There's also a reason that some animals eat their young also saying that, Leon: 28:13 Oh, right. Media was merely misunderstood. She was just having a bad day that many mothers can commiserate with . Josh: 28:22 Uh, also I enjoy at least once an episode, sometimes more reminding you that, um, you did abandon me after four days to take a role as a Head Geek at Solarwinds, Leon: 28:37 Mea Culpa, mea culpa, marxima culpa! I'm so sorry. Yes, I know. I know. Josh: 28:42 I, and I think that that will probably go on my tombstone. Um, "do you remember when Leon left me?" Or something. Leon: 28:52 Again, hard to explain to your family why that's on your tombstone. Josh: 28:55 It's going to be a big tombstone door and don't, don't worry. Um, and I think to your failure to launch episode, um, one of the moments that, not when it happened, but in retrospect was sharing with the world that I suffer from depression and uh, and that it's OK, um, that we, and we talked about that later on, we talked about the power of reaching out to people, um, who say, "Look, I, I suffer from depression and it's okay to suffer from depression." And people who know me, uh, and who know me well will know that sometimes it's very situational, but to tell the entire world or at least 2100 people or 2100 listens, um, that I suffered from depression. It, that's fine. It really was. Leon: 29:41 Yeah, it really, it came out okay. And that actually arose from a previous episode. So the episode we're talking about is "Fight the Stigma" and the previous episode, it just, it was like in passing and it was very to the listener, it was very, you know, noncommittal. It was just, "...and I suffered from depression" and et cetera, et cetera. Actually that was the "Failure to Launch" episode that you mentioned it. And afterward, after we'd stopped recording I said, "Wow, that, that seems so easy for you. Was it, was it a big deal?" And you said, "Yeah, it was a huge deal. Like my heart was beating in my chest!" And, and every like, it really wasn't, it didn't seem like it, but it was a big admission. We said, "we need to explore this a little bit more. We need to go into it." And it was really brave. I know that that's terrible. Like, Oh wow, you're such an inspiration, like don't turn you into that. But it made hopefully made a difference in other people who are listening. But it was really a, a big thing for, for us who are doing the recording. Josh: 30:35 Yeah. And I will say that, uh, in addition to that depression at admission, this podcast has really been a part of my transition away from Mormonism. I mean, we started talking about this podcast a year before we actually started the podcast. So I was, you know, I was kind of in the throws of it, but I mean 30 to 60 minutes a week of being able to hear other people's perspectives who, um, may or may not, um, share our religious views or former religious views in my case, was really powerful for me and helped me process through my transition away from Mormonism a lot faster than most people. I've, you know, I, in the community, I've seen people that are going on decades of trying to transition away from Mormonism. And I did it in under two years. Leon: 31:28 Right. And I think, I think part of that, and this is one of the foundational ideas behind the, the "Tales from the TAMO Cloud" series that we've started to do is to talk about people's journeys. Um, you know, both their technical journeys and also their religious journeys. Uh, and to make sure that the listeners understand that life is a journey. I know that's really cliche, that there's a place where you are today that is different from where you stood before at the beginning when you were, when you were growing up that the house that you grew up in, in the traditions in that house are valid and they are a thing. But that may not be what you do now. You may be doing what you may think of as more or less or different. And that's normal that we have multiple voices on here who say, "I started off like this and then I was this and then, and now I am this and this is how I got from here to there." And the, this is in that conversation could be, I started off on help desk and then I was a storage engineer and now I'm working as a, you know, customer advocate or it could be that I started off as, you know, Protestant and then I was disillusioned and I was nothing. And now I'm, you know, born again, evangelical Christian or whatever and people, you know,...that, that those transitions are normal and healthy and not an admission of failure. It's an admission of life. Josh: 32:50 You forgot to include my transition from working in technology and despising sales to now working in presales and being part of the sales cycle. I mean, I've literally gone to the dark side. It's, Leon: 33:04 You really have, and you probably going to have to talk about that at some point. Yeah. After Star Wars is out for a while. So we're not spoiling anything for anyone. Josh: 33:11 Exactly. Right. Uh, I will also point out that it is moments like this that are so powerful for me. I quote you, Leon, in real life. Um, so often that I'm pretty sure people are convinced. I am considering converting to Judaism. Leon: 33:28 I know that you got that comment, especially when you were still involved in the church and you were running a Sunday teaching programs and you'd, you'd say, and you know, and I think the group, the class would say, "and what is your friend Leon think about that?" Josh: 33:42 It really was hilarious. It would be like, " I have a friend" and they'd be like, "...and his name is Leon." Leon: 33:48 Right. Josh: 33:49 It, it, it was fantastic. Um, and then I think, no, I know that my all time favorite tagline of this past season came from, uh, episode 30, uh, when good people make bad choices and an evolved, um, melons, Leon: 34:06 I'll play the clip. Josh: 34:07 That's of wonderful. I think that's better than me reading it because yes, play the clip. Josh: 34:13 In the Bible. Matthew records " their fruits, you shall know them." Doug: 34:17 So ironically, we're not supposed to be judges, but we're supposed to be fruit inspectors. Josh: 34:23 Doug, are you looking at my melons? Leon: 34:26 I cannot be having this conversation. Josh: 34:28 I don't know why we played that clip Leon: 34:32 Because we have no shame. Um, yeah, it was... Just talking about that clip took up a good solid five to 10 minutes of, of solid laughter of us just trying to do that. And that represents some of the joy. So those were some of our favorite moments. If you have some of your favorite moments, uh, please share it with us on social media. We're on Twitter, Facebook, uh, there's, you know, posts again on LinkedIn. You can share it in the comments area on the website, anywhere that you want to. Um, all right, so I want to transition over to looking ahead. We looked back a little bit, um, in the coming year, what are we thinking? Uh, Technically Religious is going to move into and that idea of constantly improving and I'll start off by saying that we're really gonna work on improving the production quality. I think we have some room to grow. That we can get better. I'm, I'm getting better at, again, editing the audio and getting better sound levels and things like that. And that's going to continue. I also want to make sure that we make the time that we're talking as clear as possible. So getting the ums and AHS and those vocal tics out of the way. I think that transcripts are getting better and faster and so they're getting easier to do and we're going to keep on doing that and especially to our deaf and hard of hearing listeners. But anybody who's consuming the transcripts, please let us know if there's something we can do to make it easier for you. And the last piece I'm going to unveil is that we are going to have intro and outro music along with the intro text, so stay tuned for that. We'll have a big unveiling of that. Josh: 36:03 Does it involve kazoos? Leon: 36:04 It probably does not actually involve kazoos. Josh: 36:06 That's disappointing. Leon: 36:06 I, okay, so we're still working on it. Maybe we can work some kazoos. It's going to have a lot of sound. It's gonna have a lot of sounds, Josh: 36:13 A lot of sounds. Okay. good. I'm okay with that. Are we also going to leverage Elon Musk's Starlink satellite system in order to broadcast? Leon: 36:23 If you can make that happen. I'm fully on board with that, but that, that's news to me. But I, yeah, I'm all for it. Slightly less ambitious than Elon Musk's Starlink system would be getting some other guests in and maybe some higher profile guests. Uh, somebody mentioned earlier that Larry Wall has a very interesting religious point of view and also he is the progenitor of the Perl programming language, which I have an undying love for. This is a hill I'm willing to die on that Pearl is still valid and and useful. So someone said, "Hey, you should get him on the show." So I am actively pursuing that and a few other guests whose names you might recognize even if you don't know me or Josh or the circles that we run in. Josh: 37:04 I just want to say that Charity Majors is high on my list this year. Unfortunately I missed having a chance to chat with charity last week while I was in San Francisco. A charity. I'm so sorry. I realized as I was wrapping up my week that I didn't reach out cause I'm a terrible person. Leon: 37:21 That's right because you were terrible. That's what it was. Not that you were busy learning the ropes of a completely new job and juggling several responsibilities and things like that. No, no. Just because you're a bad person. Josh: 37:33 Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. So to make it up for you to you, I, we will invite you onto the show. We'd love to talk about this journey and then to make it, make it up to you for inviting you onto the show. Uh, we will also get together next time I'm in San Francisco. Leon: 37:50 Same, same. Since you took time to get... So I met Charity when she was at, we were both at DevOps days, Tel Aviv. So Charity, we do not all, both have to fly literally around the globe to see each other and get to hang out next time. So, so there's that. Um, we're going to have some more TAMO interviews. If you are interested in being part of the show, either you want to do a tales from the Tamar cloud interview or just part of any conversation. We would love to speak to you. If you want to be a guest. If you think that you want to try your hand at editing, I will be happy to give up the reins to either the audio or transcription editing responsibilities. Um, let me know, again, reach out in social media and also promotion. Uh, I want this year to be more about getting, uh, Technically Religious promoted better and more so that we can have more readers, more input, more fun, more more goodness. And that leads to something that sorta speaks up your alley Josh. Josh: 38:48 Well, I was gonna say if someone happens to have $100 billion laying around and would like to sponsor the show, we would be, Leon: 38:58 yeah, we wouldn't use all 100 billion, would we?. Josh: 39:00 No. I mean at least at least a billion or so we would leave. Leon: 39:04 Oh, okay. Yeah. I mean cause we're not greedy. Josh: 39:07 99 billion? We can totally make this happen on nine, 99 billion. In all honesty. If you are interested in sponsoring the show and we've dropped a number of names of, uh, vendors, uh, during this episode... And not intentionally, we really do appreciate the technology that allows us to deliver the show. But if you're interested in a sponsorship, please reach out to us. We'd be more than happy to talk about you, your products, um, and to also accept your money. Leon: 39:32 So that's, I think that's a good wrap up. I think there's a good look back at, at 2019 season one. Uh, the next episode you hear will be the official start of season two of technically religious. Do we have a cliffhanger? Is there some sort of, are you going to poise over me with a knife or, Leon: 39:48 Right. Is this so... Josh, I have to tell you something really important. I'm... Josh: 39:54 And we fade to black. No, no, no. We're not going to do that. I was waiting with bated breath. I was, I was going to put it in my ANYDo so that I can remember to listen to the next episode. Leon: 40:03 Yes. Uh, so just to wrap up to everyone who's listening, uh, both Josh and I and everyone else who's been part of the show, uh, thank you deeply. We hope that you're going to keep listening as we kick off season two, and that you will share Technically Religious podcast with your friends, your family, and your coworkers. And while as you listen to this episode is probably somewhat belated, we'd like to wish you: Josh: 40:25 A Merry Christmas. Leon: 40:26 or happy Christmas if you're in Britain. Also a Chag Chanukah Sameach. Josh: 40:30 A happy Kwanzaa. Leon: 40:31 A joyful winter solstice. Josh: 40:33 Festivus... For the rest of us! Leon: 40:37 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 us on social media. Leon: 40:49 You really want to end the year with a Festivus joke? Josh: 40:51 Well, since we can't be in Hawaii.

Dec 2019

40 min 55 sec

The dreaded office holiday party: For many of us, for MANY reasons, this is a situation fraught with difficulties. To go or not to go. To eat or not to eat. To discuss or not to discuss our religious/holiday/personal lives and plans. As IT folks with a strong religious/moral/ethical POV, navigating this ONE (supposedly optional) yearly occurrence can be the cause of more stress than any other event. In this episode we’ll unpack the what and why, and - like the IT pros we are, offer advice on how to navigate through this seasonal obstacle course. Listen or read the transcript below. Kate: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experience we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion (or lack thereof). We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Leon: 00:24 This is a continuation of the discussion we started last week. Thank you for coming back to join our conversation. Josh: 00:31 So up until a few years ago, I was one of those people where if you said "happy holidays" to me, I would say "Merry Christmas" back because you know, it's Christmas time and you got to put the Christ in Christmas, right? Leon: 00:45 Sure. Josh: 00:46 And my wife and I were talking about this just the other day yesterday, I think. And we have decided that regardless of what holiday someone wishes us, our response is going to be, "Thank you. You too." I mean, Holy crap, right? It's like mind blowing. Yechiel: 01:08 Radical. Leon: 01:10 What a crazy idea. Just saying thank you. Josh: 01:15 Ah, and she, she said, "Oh, I posted this to Facebook that I'm going to do this." And she's like, "I wonder how many people are going to be offended?" And I thought, Who in the world's going to be offended by saying thank you?You too. Leon: 01:27 Okay. And, and the answer is? Yechiel: 01:29 Well, it's is Facebook, so... Josh: 01:30 Right. Everybody. Leon: 01:34 I was going to say, how many hundreds of, of responses about "this is part of the war on Christmas!!" Have you gotten so far? New Speaker: 01:40 Um, I don't know. I don't go on Facebook, so I have no idea. Uh, I don't, I don't have an account anymore. Um, so I don't know. I get it right. I, I'm with Doug. Um, if, if you, if for you, Christmas is about the birth of the savior. Um, I mean, pro-tip: Jesus was born where there were shepherds who had their flock in the fields. It was not December, just saying. Um, anyway, so if, if that's the time of year in which you get aligned to your faith in Christ, go for it. But don't rob other people of the reason that they like to celebrate. For me and for people that I like to associate with Christmas is a time where we get together with friends and family, where we bring, you know, we, we bring in this idea of being, uh, increasingly generous with, um, those around us where we're reminded that we need to be generous. So it's, for me, it's not really this dueling religion thing at Christmas or, you know, whatever holidays happen to fall around this time of year. It's, Hey, you know, there's this spirit of generosity and camraderie. Let's just get together and hang out. Um, and we don't have to call it a Christmas party. Uh, yeah. All Christmas party planners, you know, corporate offices need to probably hear that message. It doesn't need to be a Christmas party. It can just be a party, Leon: 03:10 ...a party, right a part... End of year party and stuff like that. But w'ell, again, we're, we're gonna, we're gonna offer some, some insights based on this. Um, so as a non Christian, I think one of the challenges about this time of year also again - that comparative, uh, religion conversation in the worst possible setting ever - is the, the need of some folks to say, "But, but your holiday is just the same as ours!" Like to find equivalence where there isn't necessarily equivalence. Um, you know, Hanukkah isn't, you know, the Jewish Christmas, there's no such thing as a Hanukkah Bush. There is no such thing as a Hanukkah Charlie. That... And it doesn't need to exist. You know, it, it goes into, um, this homogenization of, "Well, everyone can celebrate Christmas in their heart." There's... No, no, there doesn't, no, we don't need to do that. I don't need to be included because that becomes a, unfortunately for me... And I apologize, I'm gonna get a little bit prickly here. It becomes a little threatening for me because that leads, you know, that dovetails into being proselytized to or at, in a very uncomfortable situation. Again, we're talking about an office party and to have a coworker or a boss suddenly raising this, you know, "But, but everyone believes in Jesus." No, everyone doesn't. And, and insisting that I do puts me in a very difficult position where, you know, my desire to be authentic as a Jew and my desire to be employed as a human are suddenly possibly in conflict. Josh: 05:05 I mean, I, I, uh, I don't know, maybe I'm a bit of a crap disturber but I would definitely recommend brushing up on, um, what historians are now calling the authentic Jesus. Um, and he was a real crap disturber so I mean, you could be like, "Oh yeah, let's talk about Jesus. Let's talk about how he did this and this and..." You know, you know, kicked over these tables and you know, made a mockery of, Oh wait, no, let's not talk about that because that's not really, yeah, Yechiel: 05:34 Something tells me that wouldn't go towards making the party more of a festive occasion. Josh: 05:40 I think it would make it very festive, actually. Leon: 05:42 I was going to say... "festive" in a very completely different way. Yeah. Josh: 05:47 Josh is never being invited to a party ever again. Right. Leon: 05:52 There's also an, and unfortunately this has happened to me, this desire again, this does that, you know, "everyone, everyone likes Christmas. Even in their heart, even if they don't know it" there's this insistence of, you know, you just, you just haven't tried it. You haven't tried the right one yet or whatever. And you know, "come take a look at this beautiful Christmas tree. Wouldn't you love to have a Christmas tree? Like this isn't this great?" You know, and right behind it is this wall full of crucifixes and then they take a picture and all of a sudden it becomes a picture of the Orthodox Jew. You looking up at an admiring, you know, a Christmas tree and a wall of crucifixes and it becomes this, you know, 'caption this photo contest'. You know, I'm not interested in being in your picture like that. Josh: 06:34 "Leon wonders why people put pine trees in their houses." That's, that would be my caption. Leon: 06:40 You know, it can get really prickly. It can, it can, you know, people, again, people get caught up in the holiday and in their love of the holiday, their enjoyment of holiday. When you discover spin class, which Joshua and I have said, you know, CrossFit is a cult, Josh: 06:54 It is. Leon: 06:54 know, and but the desire to have everyone else involved in CrossFit or you know, veganism or whatever it is, like you love it so much, you need other people to love it. Just as much. Josh: 07:09 I will have, I will say, and maybe this is completely counter to what we've been talking about, but I have received a Christmas card from a Muslim friend this year already. Very first one I received. Um, and I have neighbors that are Muslim and they will without fail bring us a Christmas gift. We even have, we have a, uh, some Muslim friends, um, who were neighbors that are now friends cause they've moved a few blocks away, but they will make the Trek over to our house every year to bring us. Um, uh, and I authentic. Um, I, I believe they're from uh, Iran. So they will bring us an authentic Iranian festive dish to share at Christmas because they know that it's important to us. I, I don't know how to take that whole corporate thing though and make it like human beings act so good to one. Another one on one is when we get into these large groups that suddenly things get real awkward. Right? Yechiel: 08:14 Actually that's, that's an interesting point that I think like that people don't understand that the so called war on Christmas, um, like Jews, Muslims, we don't care that Christians celebrate Christmas, you know, good for you. Uh, it's fun. It looks nice and everything. Just don't make it the default and assume that everyone celebrates Christmas. Don't tell. Like when you tell me Merry Christmas, I'm not going to get offended. Of course, I know you mean well, but that's not my holiday. That's not what I celebrate. But on the other hand, I don't mind wishing you a Merry Christmas if I know you celebrate it and I don't mind sending you a Christmas card. Leon: 08:49 The example that's used a lot and I like it is, is the concept of happy birthday. That if you know, if it's birthday, we all show up. We tell Josh happy birthday, but we don't feel the need for everybody to say happy birthday to everybody else. It's not everyone else's birthday. So you know, it's your holiday. So Merry Christmas. Absolutely. You have a great time on your birthday, on your holiday. Um, but don'tto Yechiel's point. Don't insist that everybody celebrate, you know, their birthday on your birthday because that's not how things work. Josh: 09:23 I think after this episode we're going to have to start a business where we hire ourselves out as event planners for corporations that want to be both unoffensive or I mean reasonably unoff.... Nevermind. It would never work. Yechiel: 09:40 It's still 2019, you know. Leon: 09:43 Okay. So something that we hit on earlier that I just... Is interesting to me is again, trying to be unoffensive. One technique that especially HR departments try to do is again, to create this false reciprocality of things. So, you know, "We're going to put up, you know, trees, they're holiday trees, they're holiday wreaths, they're holiday baubles, you know, hanging from the ceiling and everything. But in order to be inclusive, we're also going to put a menorah next to the tree. I am here to tell you that at no time is a menorah next to a Christmas tree, an image that makes any sense to anybody except perhaps the people working in HR. It's not a thing. It does not make me feel more included. You know, again, Hanukkah was three weeks ago. Chad don't need to have them menorah there. You're not, you know, it's, it's your holiday. And, and I've actually gotten into conversations with HR, not in my current job. It was a while ago when I was a little bit more loud mouth about things and perhaps had less impulse control. You know, they... right! Less than I have now. I know it's a shock. And I actually got into it with the folks in HR and they said, but they're not Christmas decorations, they're holiday decorations. This is, there is no holiday that I celebrated anytime of the year that has decorations like this. Please, you know, let's be intellectually honest about this. Josh: 11:09 Even an authentic question. What would be your preference? So my heritage or my beliefs trend toward Christianity. Um, would you prefer for Christmas to just be, "Hey, like this work going to have Christmas stuff?" Um, but then how do, how do we handle it on the other side? Like, do we need to have a celebration for every holiday? Because I have noticed some companies doing that, right? They will, um, celebrate, you know, Diwali, they will celebrate, um, you know, Hanukkah, they will celebrate, uh, Kwanzaa. They will, they will have every single holiday represented. Is that the right route to go Leon: 11:57 To have an ofrenda for Dia de Los Muertos? Like yeah, I mean, so again, we're going to have, you know, we're going to have a section where we try to solve this, but I think that that what you're getting at is there seems to be, I'm not saying there is, but there seems to be two options. Do nothing or do everything. And I think there's some other options there. But my preference, and this is my personal preference, this is independent of a religious outlook or whatever, is that if the company feels it's important to make a display around the December time frame, great. You're talking about Christmas, go do it, Josh: 12:38 I like that. Leon: 12:38 Don't, don't pretend. That that would be my thing. And I am very much from a Jewish standpoint, I am very much a please include me out. Like I am actually more comfortable, personally, not having a company that isn't intrinsically a, a Jewish knowledgeable, uh, group of folks try to put something together, which is always back to the food conversation. You're going to work really, really hard trying to buy kosher food and you're not going to do it. And I'm going to tell you you missed and you're going to be offended because you tried so hard and I'm just ungrateful. So in the same way, like you're going to try really, really hard to decorate for my holiday and something is going to not match up somewhere you're going to. "But, but they were Hanukkah tree decorations. Doesn't that work?" You know, like no, that the tree was the problem, you know, and someone's going to feel frustrated that they had put this effort and I'm still being ungrateful. Josh: 13:36 I think if we were to look at this from the reciprocal, right. And so last week, Leon, we talked about your trip to Israel. Um, if, if we weren't in North America, if we were in Israel, would I, should I make the choice, um, to be offended by Jewish celebrations or celebrations of my Muslim coworkers because Christianity is not the predominant religion, right? Like, I, I, I think I, I think we need to think about things in that way, stops, you know, I need to stop saying, well, you know, because Christianity is the predominant religion in North America, blah, blah, blah, and say, well, what if it wasn't, how would I want to be treated? And then just act like that. I mean, there I go, trying to solve a thing. I know. Leon: 14:30 Okay. And it sounds like we're in the problem solving section, which is, which is great. And I think it's, it's about time, but actually I haven't lived in Israel enough during the holidays to even know what offices look like during any of the normative Jewish holidays Yechiel, I don't know if you have any experience with that. Yechiel: 14:48 Following Ben Greenberg's Twitter account. Um, it seems companies will have a Hanukkah party. Um, I don't think they have Christmas parties. They probably have a new year's party cause that's just universal. I mean, obviously everyone celebrates Hanukkah in Israel or at least the 80% of the country that's Jewish. So yeah, I would say Hanukkah and Israel is sort of like Christmas in America where it's just everywhere. Leon: 15:08 It's just a different times, different times of the calendar. Yechiel: 15:12 in terms of how pervasive it is. Leon: 15:14 All right. So Josh, I want to circle back to the question you asked before. You know what, now we're speaking directly to the company, what, you know, what are the correct options, what can we do to fix this? And again, we said there's the do nothing, which I think is an option. Right? You know, we're talking about the dreaded office holiday party, so we can say don't have them. Yechiel: 15:33 I'm definitely on that team. I mean, but that's due to not just a religious reason. Just you know, all the reasons you mentioned like also at the beginning of this stage, like I don't know, I feel like they're more trouble than they're worth. I mean before I got into programming, I worked at a Jewish company in Williamsburg and they didn't have a holiday party. Instead they gave a present around the, they would give everyone a pretty nice, decent, decently priced present around the holiday time. In addition, they also give like a holiday bonus around Passover and Sukkot, which was totally not tied to your performance bonus, which was a completely different thing. Like everyone would get, it was small. I think it was like $250 maybe, but it was just a nice extra, something special. I just think employees would be happier if instead of spending all that money on a party that no one wants to go to anyway, it would find some more creative way to use that money. But yeah, we're not talking about our work. Let's talk to companies who are having a party. Leon: 16:28 Well. Okay, but again, not doing it and you've just offered some alternatives of, okay, so if we're not doing that, like what, what are we doing? Do we just say it's a regular set of work days and you know, tough luck because that feels, to use a Christian concept, it feels free. Scrooge ish. 'Bah humbug.' You know, so, but you just said you recognize... Yechiel: 16:48 Well, correct me if I'm wrong, most holiday parties aren't on Christmas, are they? I mean, at least not on the companies. I've been to. Leon: 16:54 Correct. No, no, no. They're there. Usually the lead up to... Yechiel: 16:57 I mean, Christmas is a day off and new year's is they off. And sometimes the week in between is also off. So it's not like a regular work to, anyway. Josh: 17:03 So I'm completely on board with you heal on this one. I think that companies should really ask themselves, "Do we need to hold a a holiday party or Christmas party?" So I, you know, I work for new Relic. New Relic is a global company. I have colleagues that are in Europe and you know, me and Canada. Colleagues stretched across the United States. How do you get people together when a significant portion of your workforce works remote from their home offices? I mean, I can have a party, but it's going to be a party of one. Leon: 17:41 Oh, right. which may be the best party of all. New Speaker: 17:44 Right? So instead, um, I like the of saying to, um, to your employees, like "look in lieu of a party because it just doesn't work logistically, here's what we're going to do. We're going to give you some money you can do with it. What, what ever you want. If you want to use it to, you know, um, augment your, your own earnings, great. If you want to go out and donate it to charity, great. If you want to shred it, you, you do whatever you want with it." I mean, that allows people who want to amplify their, you know, their Christmas celebrations to do that or if they time it, right, their Hanukkah celebrations or their no celebrations at all. Leon: 18:33 Right. Okay. I'm just going to go in and I'm going to, I'm going to strongly correct you in this one. If you as a company decide, you know, if you as an individual who's received cash, your immediate urge is to shred that money. Please consider sponsoring an episode of Technically Religious. We will... Just send it to us. We will dispose of that money for you appropriately. Yechiel: 18:57 Alternatively, you can just sign it to me. I have a professional shredding service on the side. It'll be shredded completely. Nothing will be left within a few minutes. Leon: 19:05 How many kids do you have? Yechiel: 19:07 Five. Leon: 19:08 Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So that is, that is effectively shredding your money. Yeah. Right. It's, you know, diapers and tuition. Yeah. The whole thing. It's, it's gone. It doesn't, don't worry about how it got gone. Okay. Sorry, I just need to jump in. Like shredding money. No. Sponsoring Technically Religious. Absolutely. Or sent it to Yechiel and you know, you can find his information in the show notes. Josh: 19:28 Did you just equate giving, uh, giving us money to sponsor an episode with shredding your money? New Speaker: 19:34 No, I'm saying it's a BETTER option. New Speaker: 19:36 Oh, okay. I just wanted to make sure that you weren't insinuating the sponsoring an episode of Technically Religious was as worthless as, shredding your money. Leon: 19:44 No, not, I would never say something like that! Um, also as we were preparing for the episode, um, we also talked about again, part of the challenge with the holiday party is all the emotions and all the um, sort of expectations that come with it. And those are layered on top of the emotions and expectations that we have at this holiday time of year overall. And I think that someone brought up the idea of not having... Having a party just don't have it now have it, you know, at another time of year you can have a, you know, I'm not a big fan of Christmas in July, but having a summer kickoff holiday party, a pre-vacation pre, you know, to use the European term pre-holiday holiday party might be an interesting idea. Or you could do it at the company's fiscal end of year. If it doesn't match up with the calendar end of year. You could do that. So I think it would make the accounting department even more excited that their, that the, the rhythm that they hold to is something the company now acknowledging in a meaningful way. Josh: 20:49 I had friends that would celebrate the summer solstice and the winter solstice. Now granted the winter solstice happens to fall very close to, you know, the Christian Christmas. Uh, but you know, Hey, celebrate with them both. That's two parties, right? Leon: 21:09 Right at the, at both of them. And you can do the standing the egg up and you can do all those different things. Um, right. That would be, yeah, that's it. It's as meaningful or as exciting as some of the holiday traditions that we've developed over the last 50 years in America as well. So any other solutions that we have to offer organizations or HR departments that are trying to figure out this problem called the office holiday party. Yechiel: 21:34 So I would say assuming the holiday party is not going away, I think the one single thing that can go the furthest towards making parties feel more inclusive to everyone is cutting out the alcohol and not just for Muslims or people or Mormons or people who won't drink alcohol for religious reasons. I think just like so many of the problems that can come up at parties are either caused or exasperated by the presence of alcohol and people having a little bit too much. I think just that one little step can just go to a huge way towards making so many people feel much more comfortable. Leon: 22:12 Right. About attending at all. But yeah, absolutely. Josh: 22:15 Yeah. That, uh, T to that point, we're not just, it's not just a religious thing. You've got recovering alcoholics who maybe don't want to out themselves as recovering alcoholics at this holiday party, to all of their coworkers who maybe aren't friends, they're just coworkers. Um, you've got people who maybe have lost someone to drunk driving or have a spouse who's an alcholic. It's just the, the things that you on, um, that you uncap by having a, and again, this is a mandatory attendance right? There's, you must attend this holiday party cause you're part of the team, right? Josh, you like you're, you're going to show up and then we're also going to make this a alcohol-laden event. It just really problematic. Uh, you know, back when I didn't drink, I would attend events and then would always leave early. Always leave early because I was just like, okay, everyone's had enough alcohol that they're not going to remember that we left. And then you just leave and then just, it becomes a, an abbreviated evening for you. You know, you don't get to enjoy. I'm one of those people who I will go to a party. Yes, they are. I am an introvert. Mostly. They are rather exhausting for me. But I will go because I do enjoy getting out of the house every so often. Um, and just, yeah, I, I'm, I'm with you Yechiel. I, let's, let's either really curtail the alcohol or just not serve it at all. Leon: 23:50 Yeah. I'm, I'm a big fan of don't serve it at all. Just don't, okay. Any final words before we wrap up? Josh: 23:57 Um, did Adam Sandler's a song, um, about the Hanukkah song, uh, offensive, offensive or not? Leon: 24:06 I, it is not part of my, uh, Hanukkah playlist. It's, it's probably right up there with, uh, what is it? Uh, the, the Christmas donkey... Josh: 24:15 Dominic the Italian Christmas donkey. Yeah. Leon: 24:18 Yeah. No. Yeah. It's still also a no. Josh: 24:20 Okay. Yeah. I, I just, I was asking, I was curious. Yechiel, do you listen to it? Is Leon the only curmudgeon here? Yechiel: 24:28 Um, I would say it was entertaining, but yeah, I wouldn't say it's part of my Hanukkah celebrations. Josh: 24:37 Perfect. Leon: 24:40 Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of technically religious visit our website, http://Technically, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect to us on social media. Leon: 24:52 Hey, Josh, how was the last Christmas party you attended? Josh: 24:55 I passed through the seven levels of the candy cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln tunnel. Yechiel: 25:03 Wait, is there sugar in gumdrops?  

Dec 2019

25 min 5 sec

The dreaded office holiday party: For many of us, for MANY reasons, this is a situation fraught with difficulties. To go or not to go. To eat or not to eat. To discuss or not to discuss our religious/holiday/personal lives and plans. As IT folks with a strong religious/moral/ethical POV, navigating this ONE (supposedly optional) yearly occurrence can be the cause of more stress than any other event. In this episode we’ll unpack the what and why, and - like the IT pros we are, offer advice on how to navigate through this seasonal obstacle course. Listen or read the transcript below. Dez: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh - or at least not conflict - with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Leon: 00:24 The dreaded office holiday party. For many of us, For many reasons. This situation is fraught with difficulties. To go or not to go? To eat or not to eat? To discuss or not to discuss our religious, holiday, or personal lives and plans? As IT folks with a strong religious, moral and ethical point of view, navigating this one (supposedly optional) yearly occurrence can be the cause of more stress than any other event. In this episode, we'll unpack the what and the why, and - like the IT pros we are - offer advice on how to navigate through this seasonal obstacle course. 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: 01:05 Hello, hello. Leon: 01:06 And perennial guest voice. Yechiel Kalmenson. Yechiel: 01:09 Always a pleasure. Leon: 01:10 All right. As has become our habit, let's go ahead and do some shameless self promotion. Um, Yechiel as, as still the nominal guest, you know, you've been on this, I think this is your fourth episode, but we'll still call you a guest. We'll treat you with respect like a guest. Go ahead and start off and tell us about yourself. Yechiel: 01:28 All right. Uh, so I'm Yechiel Kalmenson. I'm a software engineer at Pivotal though by the time this episode drops, we'll probably be VMWare already, um, you can find me on Twitter @YechielK, my blog is RabbiOnRails.IO and I identify as an Orthodox Jew. Josh: 01:43 Great. Josh, how about you? All right. I'm Josh Biggley. I'm a tech op strategy consultant with New Relic. You can find me on the Twitters at, @Jbiggley. I have no blog or really no presence on, on any sort of a non social media platform. I am also not on Facebook, so I'll look for me. I'm, you can find me. I'm hanging out with the post-Mormons and with the ex-Mormons nowadays and that's my religious identification. Leon: 02:09 All right. And I'll finish off this section. I'm Leon Adato. I'm a Head Geek for SolarWinds. You can find me on the Twitters @LeonAdato. I pontificate about things technical and religious at And I also identify as an Orthodox Jew. So before we dig into, uh, the things that we are talking about, I wanna clarify what we're not talking about because there are things that everyone kind of dreads about the office holiday party, um, that are not gonna be part of this conversation. And you know what I mean is, for example, this mentality of 'what happens at the office party stays at the office party', you know, you know, party it up. We're just gonna forget about it tomorrow. We're not going to talk about it. Like, I think a lot of us dread that, but that's not specific to us. What are some other things that are just sort of common to any office party or anybody's dread of that? Yechiel: 02:59 Well, for me, as an introvert, parties in general are a drag. Um, I can't stand them. If I can spend the night at home, why would I spend it with a bunch of people I don't want to spend time with anyway? So, but that's all introverts are like me, so.... Leon: 03:14 Right. Okay. So yeah, definitely if you are of the quiet, quieter type ramping up for this is um, a challenge. Okay. What else? Josh: 03:22 I mean, I really struggle with the, 'you have to show up' mentality for really for any corporate event. If I don't want to be there or I choose not to be there because I have other priorities, don't make me attend. So Christmas parties, holiday parties, you know, new year's parties, just if I want to be there, I'll be there. If not, don't take offense that I don't, that I don't want to be there. I mean, I didn't marry you. I'm married, my wife. Leon: 03:50 And, and I think closely related to that is that that this time of year, you know, the holidays, Christmas, whatever, you know, new year's is a challenge for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. It stirs up a lot of emotions and not all of them are positive. And I think that an office holiday party where you feel like there's an expectation to put on a particular kind of attitude or face is also challenging for a lot of folks. Um, and also I think that, uh, having to constantly explain yourself about why not drinking or not eating or not whatever, again, this time of year is challenging for a lot of folks on, on that physical level of how they interact with, you know, food and drink and things like that. And that can also create a lot of stress. But that's not what we're focusing on here. We're looking at the things that are specific to having a strong religious, ethical or moral point of view. Um, so I wanna I wanna dovetail into that and I want to say that those strong emotions that I just mentioned. You know, that this time of year can have very strong positive emotions for people about family, about memories, about their religion, and you layer onto that the expectations of a party because it's being hosted, it's being organized, it's being, it's meant to be "bigger and better than last years or ever before!" And all that stuff that creates a scenario where people can take offense to things in a lot of different ways. And those of us who have religious boundaries can unexpectedly encounter those, you know, those offense triggers in ways that don't happen on a normal day. So again, let's, let's talk about what are those things, what are things that we've either tripped over, we know exist about the holiday party for us. Yechiel: 05:44 So food is obviously a big one. Um, and you know, there's a different kosher, halal, whether you are a vegetarian, whatever you are. Um, and I think it's even worse when, when someone will, will go through the effort to try to make you feel comfortable and they'll order or something which they think is acceptable to you. So they'll Google and find the nearest kosher restaurant. But just because the restaurant identifies as kosher online doesn't mean it's actually kosher. And then it's not just, you know, if they didn't order anything and I didn't eat nobody would notice. But here "I ordered this, especially for you here, you know, have some, it's just for you." And then I have to explain that kosher is not always kosher. Leon: 06:25 Right? The one I hear a lot is, but "it said it was a kosher deli." I know kosher was in the name. Kosher style is a thing. Yechiel: 06:33 It's bagels and lox. How much more kosher can you get than that? Josh: 06:36 Right? Well, yeah, I was going to say that, um, you know, growing up Mormon, the awkward part was, were really, it was the alcohol thing. Festivities and alcohol go hand in hand together. Um, so I remember, especially as a teenager going to parties and people being like, Oh look, I bought you a near beer. Or there's this great debate in the Mormon community, Leon: 07:03 What are they think... Do they hate you? Josh: 07:08 Uh, may, maybe. Uh, but then there's this whole, this whole debate going on in the Mormon community around a sparkling Apple cider, uh, for your new year's Eve celebrations. Like, do you want to have champagne or do you just want to look like you're having champagne? And then if you're looking like you're having a champagne, are you giving the very appearance of evil? And I'm like, Oh my goodness, it's just so complex. Uh, and, and then you have, that's within your own family. You take those same conversations and have them at an office party, aaarrrrggghhhh. So much harder. Leon: 07:46 The other thing that, that we're hitting on is also there's a level of trust or mistrust and there's sort of, you know, as a religious person, there's a healthy level of skepticism I have to have about the food around me and about the people presenting it. Not because I think that they are inherently untrustworthy, but they are inherently not, not necessarily knowledgeable. So for example, a few episodes ago we talked about at conventions and, um, Al Rasheed talked about how, you know, people will say, "Oh yeah, there's, there's nothing in here. There's no, you know, there's no wine." And then you find out that it was sauteed in wine. But because the wine was burned off, that person felt that there was no alcohol in it. And so it was fine. And so there's no way to ask in a way that isn't either an FBI interrogation or really offensively skeptical to find out about, uh, even the vegetables. Like, okay, so did you cut these with a completely new knife or were you cutting bacon right before you cut, you know, the celery, because that would be a prob.... Like I can't, I can't trust that and nor can I ask enough questions to get to the heart of it kind of thing. Josh: 08:57 Who does that? That's just unsanitary. Yechiel: 08:59 But the vegetables are always on a cheese platter, so that pretty much cuts it. Leon: 09:04 Right. That's a, that's a, yeah, there's a problem right there. Um, I was at a, uh, office...] At an office party at a manager's house and they were doing some sort of game, icebreaker, whatever. And the prize that they would hand out is this, you know, little holiday chocolates and, they handed it, to me, and you know, I was just being a good sport and I, you know, took, and I said, "Oh wow." You know, I'm looking for the hechsher. I'm looking for the symbol that would tell me if it was kosher. And I actually said, "...which would be ironic since it's, you know, in the shape of a Santa Claus." If it was. There are, by the way, chocolate that is in the shape of a Santa Claus that is completely kosher. It's fine. So I was just sort of amused by it, but immediately the wife of the manager was so earnest, she says, "Oh, well take this one isn't the shape of a snowman. That must be kosher!" Like that. That's not how that works. But now I'm in a position where I have to, you can't laugh at the boss's wife. I know that. But she said something that was kind of ignorant and now I either have to laugh along with it, just go along with it. Or you know, there's, there's almost no winning in that one. Josh: 10:10 I mean, from on the other side of that, as, as someone who for many years has hosted a Christmas party in my home. Um, last year we didn't host one. And this year there's, we've had people ask, "Hey, are you having, you know, your Christmas get together?" Cause that's a, that's a big deal, right? It's an open house. We invite all our friends and uh, you know, people from our, our former congregation, uh, and our neighbors. And so this year we're, we're not, uh, we've decided we're not, we're going to have a few select people over small gathering. But as someone who hosts, you also have to realize that you're going to do things that are awkward at whatever gathering you have. Um, and you just have to learn to not take offense. I don't know. Ah, th and this is why office parties are so different than parties in someone's home with people you don't work with because your friends, You can, you can say things like, "Hey, Josh, um, no, a snowman isn't kosher. And let me explain why..." And I'm going to be, I'm going to be paying rapt attention. "Oh really? Oh, I get it. Oh, that's cool." Whereas your boss's wife may not be so interested in getting the, you know, the religious lecture or lesson or however they interpret it. Leon: 11:32 There's other things that I think aren't necessarily on people's radar. Like, you know, music is another one. You know the number of times where people like, Oh, I just love this. Don't you just love this song? It's like, "Swear to God, I've never heard this song. Never. You know, and no, I don't want to sing along to it." And you know, even trying to, so in Judaism there's a thing about men not supposed to listen to the live voices of a woman singing in the same room kind of thing. Like there's just, you know, it's one of those things that's considered, you know, for modesty and for, you know, just keeping things a little bit separate. But how are you gonna explain that again to the boss's wife? Like, please don't sing the song that you love that I've never heard. Yechiel: 12:16 Any event that includes karaoke is an automatic "Nope." for me. Leon: 12:21 There we go. Okay. Josh: 12:22 Stay out of the Philippines, Yechiel. Stay out of the Philippines. Yeah, they love karaoke. Uh, so I guess that means that, uh, me singing "Dominic, the Italian Christmas Donkey" is completely out. Leon: 12:35 Okay. That song is horrible on so many levels that, uh, I just, yeah, don't ever that, that one's not okay. Um, for reasons that are not religious or it's just, it's just bad. It's just offensive. So last... One of our previous episodes recently, um, Cory Adler was talking about, uh, a coworker who started at the company and they were sort of delighted... He was... the coworker was Muslim. Corey is also Orthodox Jewish and they were so delighted to find all the similarities. And one of the similarities they hit upon was at the Christmas party. This coworker brought his wife who was wearing a hijab and you know, the full Pakistani clothing and everything and everybody wanted to say hi and shake her hand and give her a hug and all these things. And she was just sort of shrinking through the evening. And Cory just came up and said hi to his coworker and just said hi to his wife. And afterward, his coworker said, "It was so nice to have you there. You were the only one who got it. You're the only one who knew." And, but you know, that story aside again, you know, these office parties where you're meeting people's significant others and there's an expectation, and people are feeling festive and feeling friendly and perhaps feeling drunk and whatever. And you're trying to manage boundaries. You know, for a whole lot of reasons. It makes the party a challenge. Josh: 14:03 Can we talk about the, the, the Mormon, um, idea. And this is not just a holiday thing, but it's, you know, so praying over meals is a thing. Uh, in, I think, most religions, um, but pre Mormons have this, this, uh, funny thing of, um, praying that food will, um, give us strength and nourishment regardless if you're praying over, um, you know, a, a nice, uh, meal of, you know, quinoa and vegetables or if it happens to be, you know, jelly donuts and root beer, it's always, you know, praying for, uh, strength and nourishment from this food. So for some people, whether you're not religious out and just like prayers or you know, don't like, uh, any sort of grace being said or if you are like me and you know, your, your ex-Mormon and it, it just makes you laugh when people are praying for this food to somehow be magically transformed to be nourishing for your body. It's donuts. The only thing it's good for is eating and enjoying. Leon: 15:19 (laughing hysterically) I'm, I'm laughing because my, my daughter who runs a bakery out of my house is preparing to make something on the order of like 800 donuts in the next couple of weeks. And so the idea that my house will be filled with basically non, Yechiel: 15:34 it'll definitely nourish your gut, that's for sure. Leon: 15:36 It's gonna. It's, yeah. Josh: 15:38 You just tell her to just pray over them that they will be for strength and nourishment and then they, there'll be no calories left in them. Leon: 15:46 Yeah. Yeah. The, the mythical and the mystical, uh, no calorie donut. Yeah, I don't think so. Josh: 15:54 Prayers are just weird. Just awkward. I mean, and then the reciprocal is also true. If you go to a meal and you have a religious belief where you want to pray over your food, but nobody else is what do you do? Leon: 16:08 And there's a piece of that which is, and I think we'll get into it more, but Christmas is a time when a lot of Christians feel like this is when their Christianity should be the most on display. Like this is the time when they can really turn it, you know, turn it up to 11. And so getting everyone involved in a, in a prayer, a prayer which invokes imagery or names or concepts which are not only foreign to other religious cultures, but in some cases antithetical to other cultures. You know, so now do, do I stand quietly in the corner? Do I leave the room? Do I... No matter what I do, anything short of participating could be seen as offensive because this person has so much invested in this moment. Josh: 16:57 Not that history has, uh, will support me on this. But I feel like the easiest way to do this is don't be so invested in your religious beliefs that you, that you're going to take offense when no offense is intended. Um, and I, that goes both ways. I grew up, my, my very best friend when I was a young, quite young, up until about fifth grade, and when I moved away, uh, he was, um, uh, Jehovah's witness and you know, and I, this was back at least in Canada where you sang the national anthem and you said the Lord's prayer every Sunday morning in school, right? Uh, so they, they look, we're all adults here. If you need, if you want to step out because something is happening that you don't want to partake in, step out. Just like if I show up at a holiday party and someone starts doing something that I find offensive, whether it's you've, you've, uh, you know, you've drunk too much and now you are a drunk, um, or you know, uh, someone is doing something that I find inappropriate, I am going to leave. That's I, and if I can come back, I will. But if not, I'm not going to come back and you're just going to have to deal with that because you made your choices. I make mine. I mean, we're all adults like that. Leon: 18:18 Yeah. And, and the, the point I think of, of this particular conversation is navigating the heightened expectations and emotions around the holidays and around, you know, the, the party. I think that these moments, these particular moments become imbued with a heightened sense that, you know, isn't there for a lot of other things or can be imbued with a heightened sense. And I think that's the challenge. Yechiel: 18:45 And then you have the corollary to that where, um, where people will try to be inclusive and they'll be like, "Oh, okay. So, um, Yechiel, why didn't you lead us with a Jewish prayer?" And I'm like, "no, I, that's not what I want to do right now. I do not want to lead this room full of people on a Jewish prayer. I'll say, my Jewish prayer myself, thank you very much." Leon: 19:08 Right? Right. Or, or my personal favorite. "Hey, can you bring them, can you bring, you know, that candelabra thing, can you bring a menorah? And, and light it at our party. And that way you'll have something here too." It's like, um, "Hanukkah was three weeks ago. Chad," You know, uh, no, we're not doing it. But again, there's, I'm not saying you can't say no. Josh, to your point no is a perfectly fine answer. You know, Hanukkah was three weeks ago is also perfectly fine answer. The challenge is navigating other people's expectations and again, I think, uh, the holidays just sort of amp things up. Josh: 19:49 I, I definitely agree. I th I hope that... No, before we end this, we definitely have to come, we have to come up with that list of things that we need to do, like the ground rules we need to set. Right. And one of them definitely needs to be, "I am not going to take a fence unless you intend to offend me." Leon: 20:07 Right? If you say, "Yeah, I meant for you to be offended, then then all bets are off, right? Josh: 20:12 Yeah. All bets are off. Yechiel: 20:12 And when in doubt, just ask, you know, "Did you mean to offend me? New Speaker: 20:15 Yeah. That's, you know, I'm having a hard time with it, right? Oh, there's all sorts of mature, you know, careful communication that we could do every day in the office, in fact, that would be very helpful. Um, and this is just another opportunity to practice that, but, well, okay, we'll get to that because as good IT professionals, we are into solving things. We'll do it. The last piece, and I'm just gonna echo something. So Doug Johnson - who's another frequent voice that we hear on Technically Religious - and I have known each other for probably close to 30 years now. And Doug has been on this program saying as an evangelical Christian how much he hates Christmas. He is, he is like the worst representative of Christmas. And he, and a lot of it boils down to everything we've been talking about, but the flip side of it. Christmas isn't Christmasy enough for him. Meaning what the holiday party, what the office holiday party is, this watered down, commercialized hallmark version. And he wants nothing to do with it. He really, you know, his point, and he said this before, is, is "You want to have Christmas? Let's talk Jesus. Like let's just do that!" That's, you know, let's get rid of the guy in the red suit. Let's forget about all that stuff. He really wants to have the, the adult version of the holiday, which also makes people very uncomfortable. And so he finds himself not invited to Christmas parties frequently as well. Josh: 21:38 I think that this ties very nicely into, um, an idea that we wanted to talk around that this, uh, my religion, uh, on your holiday or you know, your holiday on my religion. Leon: 21:49 Yeah. Josh: 21:50 So up until a few years ago, I was one of those people where if you said "Happy holidays" to me, I would say "Merry Christmas" back because you know, it's Christmas time and you got to put the Christ in Christmas. Right? And my wife and I were talking about this just the other day. Yesterday, I think. And we have decided that regardless of what holiday, someone wishes us, our response is going to be, "Thank you. You too." I mean, Holy crap, right? It's like mind blowing! Yechiel: 22:27 Radical. Leon: 22:29 What a crazy idea. Just saying thank you. Speaker 4: 22:33 It. Ah, and she, she said, "I posted this to Facebook, that I'm going to do this." And she's like, "I wonder how many people are going to be offended." And I thought, "Who in the world's going to be offended by saying thank you. You too."? Leon: 22:46 Okay. And, and the answer is?? Yechiel: 22:49 Well, it's this Facebook, so... : 22:50 (conversation fades out) Leon: 22:52 We know you can't listen to our podcast all day. So out of respect for your time, we've broken this particular conversation up. Come back next week and we'll continue our conversation. Roddie: 23:02 Thank you for making time for us this week. To hear more of Technically Religious visit our website at where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions or connect with us on social media. Leon: 23:15 Hey, Josh, how was the last Christmas party you attended? Josh: 23:17 I passed through the seven levels of the candy cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gumdrops, and then I walked through the Lincoln tunnel! Yechiel: 23:26 Wait, is there sugar in gumdrops?

Dec 2019

23 min 28 sec

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 Programmer Chaim Weiss. Listen or read the transcript below. Doug: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion. We're here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Leon: 00:24 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. My name is Leon Adato and the other voice you're going to hear on this episode is Chaim Weiss. Chaim: 01:15 Hi. Leon: 01:16 Hey there. So thank you so much for joining on this particular episode of Technically Religious. Before we dive into things, I want to, uh, do a little bit of shameless self promotion. Chaim, tell us a little bit about who are you and where you work and where people can find you. Chaim: 01:30 Yeah. Hi everybody. Hi, I'm Chaim Weiss. Here right now I am a front end angular developer working at Decision Link. We're doing some front end work. If you want to get a hold of me, I'm, I'm on LinkedIn. Get messaged me. Say hi. Leon: 01:43 And how do you identify? Like are you Buddhist? Are you Hindu? Like what's your religious point of view? Chaim: 01:48 Yes. Oh yes. And I am a, I consider myself an Orthodox Jew. Leon: 01:52 There we go. Okay. Boring because I am too. Can we get some variety here? That's all right. But at least birds of a feather. And I should do, I should do the same intros. Uh, my name is Leon Adato. I'm a Head Geek at SolarWinds. Yes, that's actually my job title and SolarWinds is neither solar nor wind. It's all geek. Uh, you can find me on Twitter @LeonAdato. Uh, you can also hear my musings and ponderings that I write about, uh, on the website As I said, I also identify as Orthodox Jewish. And if you're a scribbling madly trying to write down all those websites, don't bother, just sit back, relax, enjoy the conversation that's about to occur because, uh, we'll have some show notes and all the links to everything we've talked about is going to be in there so you can just relax and leave the driving to us. So I want to start off with the technical side of things. Um, tell me a little bit more about what kind of work you're doing today in technology. Chaim: 02:48 So right now today I'm doing some front end work building a website. We have this app, awesome app, and it's actually kind of a startup really started doing really well, but they need a website, everyone needs a website. Everyone needs an app. We're doing the front end work. I'm in the JavaScript world of programming. It's programming. Programming is awesome. There's front, then there's backend, done it all. It's all awesome. I recommend it to everybody, I think. I don't understand why everyone doesn't do it. Leon: 03:14 Right. Everyone should be a programmer. Everybody. You! You're a plumber. You should still be a programmer. Yeah. Yeah. And did you start out as a programmer when you first thought about a career or you know, you just start someplace else? Chaim: 03:29 Actually, I'm funny you ask, I started, I started my career. I started teaching. I was here in local and Cleveland. I was teaching in one of the, one of the religious institutions in the Beachwood Kollel. I was there for a number of years and throughout those years I knew nothing of tech. Everyone said, "You needed something in tech? Don't, don't ask. Chaim. Oh, he doesn't know what he's doing." Uh, last time, how often was I on a computer? Almost never. Microsoft word. Maybe. I knew nothing of nothing. I, I w I mean, I was, I was, had a great time. I was doing my teaching all my teaching I wanted to do, but had very little attack. Very little. No computers. I wasn't um. I had a flip phone, a flip phone! Nothing. Imagine I didn't even have an email address, can you imagine? Leon: 04:22 Ya. Luddite! Chaim: 04:24 Yeah. Yes. I had nothing but after a few years, there was an amazing, incredible course that I took. It was of course, the, the amazing Head Geek of SolarWinds, the, the handsome, famous Leon Adato decided he was going to open up a computer course and say, "Hey, I know you guys." It was a few friends of mine. He said, "I know you guys know nothing about computers, but it's easy. It's not hard. You just need a little direction. "So he sat with us for quite a few weeks and taught us the ropes. And slowly but surely we were like, "Yeah, this is easy and big sense. Oh this, Oh, of course. And this is more than easy. This is fun. This is exciting." As we went on, as the weeks went on, we got more and more learned more and more until eventually I got, um, basically an internship out here in Cleveland and, uh, another fantastic place at FireCoding also here in Cleveland. Great place. He was mentoring and teaching. He had awesome clients. So I really learned to work ropes, real world programs and there are a lot of great programming and, and it really took off and I'm super happy. I did. Uh, I really enjoy what I do and I have fun doing it. Leon: 05:34 Nice. And thank you for the kind words. I appreciate. I'm, I'm, I'm over here blushing. Chaim: 05:38 I, I'm, I'm totally serious. It was fantastic. It was really great. Leon: 05:42 Yeah, well it was a, it was a really unique group of, of guys and that's the topic of a completely different podcast episode. I'll, I'll, what we need to do is get everybody back on and talk about those days. But, um, everybody worked really, really hard and they had, um, some really good brain power behind them because that's the only thing that that was gonna... That was the only thing that was going to get you from, from there to here. So you, you started off, like you said, with nothing much more than a flip phone, not even an email address. And now you're programming front end, back end, angular, javascript, .net. You know, the whole, the whole stack. Chaim: 06:20 The works! Leon: 06:20 That's, you know, that's fantastic. Um, so I wanna take the same set of questions and turn it around and talk about religion. Starting off with where you are now. Labels are hard and a lot of times when you ask somebody, "So, so what are you?" You know, somebody says, you know, "I'm, I'm Hindu or I'm Muslim" or whatever. It's like, well, what does that mean? Like what kind are you? And that's where a lot of the, "Well, I do this, but I don't do that. But there's this, but there's that." It's, it's more nuanced than a single title or label. So tell everyone a little bit about what Orthodox Judaism means for you. Like how, how that comes out for you. Chaim: 07:02 Yeah. So Orthodox Judaism, it's, it's, I've been doing it forever and before I was born. Leon: 07:09 (laughs) Infinitely I've been infinitely doing it? Chaim: 07:12 Yes. Yes. I, I, yeah, I was born doing it. I grew up doing it, went to school, doing it. For the first part. I, I don't, I don't even know of anything else until, until I got to see the other big part of the world. I thought that's all there was. Um, I, I went to school that was religious. I went to high school, Orthodox, religious, and that's what I'm doing. Everything was doing, it was just all about the rules, the laws, and following it all. So as I went on, um, I learned more. I, "Hey, there's, there's more to the world". And it was in the beginning as I was going out into the world, seeing things from other people's perspective, I have to understand, Hey, I know I'm Orthodox. They're not, they don't understand what I'm doing. They don't understand my customs. They don't even, they don't even, they even think they think I'm, I'm Amish. Leon: 08:00 This is a common, it's a common mistake. Chaim: 08:06 Yeah. Well it's really happened. Leon: 08:08 So that's an interesting point that your religious experience has been fairly consistent from, from birth forward. But I'm curious even within that, you know, did you find yourself, you know, when we grew up in our parents house, we take on their level of observance regardless of whether we were talking about, again, Islam or Judaism or Christianity or whatever, you know, our parents' houses, our parents' house, and that's what happens. But when you go out on your own, did you find that there was your own particular spin? Maybe, you know, you were doing some things more strictly or less strictly or not even on a spectrum of, of more or less, but just different. Did you find that that changed as you grew, as you started a family, those kinds of things? Chaim: 08:50 Um, interesting question because really, um, in religion, in, in anything specifically religious for anything that means something, you have to make it your own. Um, so if you, you want to be genuine, you want to be genuine. If you're just doing somethings out of rote because you always did it, it's not going to have as much meaning yet. You have to understand things and you ha you have to, you have to understand thing and do, do it for what you want. Right. So that'll automatically, sometimes you'll be different. On the other hand, I'll always understand that things are just out for me. People that are older, you are smarter than you. They know better. So yeah, no you don't. We don't just say, "I'm, I'm, I'm going to start this myself." But yes, I try everything. I go out of my way to try and do things different to, to understand, yeah. I go out of my way now that I was on my own. And married, had a family. Yeah. I'm doing things like... I don't want to do things just like before. I want to do it my own because I want to understand, I want it to be real. I want it to be genuine. Leon: 09:48 So we talked about the technical, we talked about the religious and I'm curious about now you've, you've been in tech for how long now? Chaim: 09:57 Close to three years. Leon: 09:58 Three years. Okay. So fairly early in your career, you know, um, we have some people on here, uh, on the podcast who've been doing it for you know, decades. Um, you know, some, uh, you know, moving on in some cases to half a century, um, in time. So, which is, you know, kind of mind boggling, but those people are around. So even this early in your career, has there been any situation that you found with the overlap between your, you know, religious life, which is a strongly held point of view. It's not just a nice to have, it's off on the side. It's sort of central to your life. So has there been a point where that created a conflict or a challenge or a hurdle that you had to get past to make it mesh with your technical career? Chaim: 10:45 Yeah, definitely. Until, until my career until three years ago. Right. Everything I did, I was teaching that was religious. When I jumped into, into the tech world. So that's, they care about deadlines. They don't care about religious. Leon: 10:58 (laughs) That IS the religion. The religion is "get it done" Chaim: 11:02 Yeah, exactly. So yeah, th th there were definitely things... There are definitely conflicts. And besides the conflicts, the people who are working with, they didn't even know about my conflicts. They said, "well, of course we're working late into the night Friday. Why wouldn't you?" They just don't understand. Now I know, Hey, I'm really just like, I can't work late late Friday, Friday and Friday night. We have, the sabbath, we can't... We can't do that. There's your conflict. But what I did notice, at least in up until now in my short career, people are great. Um, so for, in my situations, everyone's totally understanding. Everyone's, everyone's out to be, to be nice. I mean, you don't walk over anybody. You say, "Hey, I'd love to work it out. I have to make sacrifices. I'm going to work Saturday night to finish what I need to do for Friday." And everyone's okay with that. They're just, people just don't know. People love to hear. People love to listen to. People love to learn. They say, "Oh, you're Jewish. Oh, what does that mean? What does that mean to you? What do you have to do? What are the rules? Oh, you can't work Friday, Friday night. Oh wow. Really? The whole day, like, like no cheating. Oh my." Leon: 12:06 (laughs) I love it. No cheating. Yeah. My other favorite was "Every week?". Yeah. Sabbath comes every week. It's amazing like that. Chaim: 12:14 But, but people are accommodating. It's super nice how people who are, who don't share my views, don't, don't observe what I observed there. They're out there. Ultimately, you just ha if you're out, if you're open, everyone can get along. Everyone can be accommodating. You just have to be open and be clear and be straight, and then it's just, it's really great to have people work together. Leon: 12:35 That's wonderful. Okay, so that was, those were some of the challenges and how you, how you overcame them. I'm curious if they were any... That almost sounds like this, the second part of the question, which is, you know, were there any unexpected benefits or surprises where your religion actually ended up being a, a benefit that you didn't expect it to be? I think sometimes when we come into the technical workplace we think that our religious life and you know those restrictions are always going to be negatives, are going to be challenges or hurdles that we have to get over. But every once in a while there's something that just pops up and it's like, "Oh wow, this is like, this is like a secret super power. This is, this is a skill I didn't expect was going to be usable or leverageable in the workplace." I was curious if you've had anything like that. Chaim: 13:19 Um, so actually well there's the obvious one that since I do, I do religious holidays, so non religious holidays, I'm free to work on. Awesome. Beside for that and the Beachwood, Kollel, one of the things we did was we constantly, we were constantly learning, constantly studying, analyzing, going back and forth. The, the fighting, the, the figuring out to getting to the, uh, to the bottom of things that totally... That. Well, at least programming and I'm sure he played an all tech. Basically it's analyzing problems, coming up with solutions, figuring things out that that's what it is. And I knew that I could do that. That was great. Oh yeah. Figure out this problem. It's super exciting. I could do that. There was, it was totally fun and I, I've done this before, so that was pretty cool. Speaker 2: 14:03 yeah, you've, you've never done, you've never done this before, but you've done this before. Chaim: 14:06 Exactly Leon: 14:07 That's, that's the, it's a wonderful discovery when you realize that this, this whole set of skills that you'd honed for a completely different reason are applicable in this different context. That's wonderful. Do you have any final thoughts? Anything that you want to leave everybody who's listening, you know, with a little nugget of wisdom or just your experience or anything like that? Chaim: 14:28 The only thing I'd like to say is that I know I could tell you 15 years ago I did not think of, I did not think I would be here today. The world of tech was, was out of my horizons. I do not think it was possible to me. I was in a totally different world, but here I am. Really? You can do anything. It's but specifically the tech is. It's, it's there. It's out there for the taking and go for it. Leon: 14:48 Wonderful. All right. Hi, I'm thank you so much for joining me. Chaim: 14:52 Thank you so much for having me. Josh: 14:54 Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of Technically Religious visit our website, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect with us on social media.

Dec 2019

15 min 7 sec

In the fall of 2019 a series of fortunate events led Technically Religious contributor Leon Adato to take a journey of a lifetime. He transformed an unexpected convention trip to Barcelona into a mission to bring a Torah back to the US from Israel. Like the movie that this episode is named for, along the way he experienced unexpected challenges and met larger-than-life characters who helped him on his way. Listen now, or read the transcript below. Kate:                                     00:00                     Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experience we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We're not here to preach or teach you our religion or lack thereof. We're here to explore ways we make our career. Is IT professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is Technically Religious. Josh:                                      00:24                     In the fall of 2019 a series of fortunate events led Technically Religious contributor, Leon Adato, to take a journey of a lifetime. He transformed an unexpected convention trip to Barcelona into a mission to bring a Torah back to the U S from Israel. Like the movie that this episode is named for, along the way, he experienced unexpected challenges and met larger than life characters who helped him on his way. I'm Josh Biggley and the other voices you're going to hear on this episode are my partner in crime, Leon, Adato. Leon:                                     00:57                     Hello. Josh:                                      00:59                     Alright, Leon. You know how this goes, time for some shameless self promotion. So tell us who you are and where we can find you. Leon:                                     01:06                     Fantastic. I am Leon Adato, as we've said, probably three times already. I am a Head Geek at SolarWinds. Uh, you can find me on the twitters @leonadato and you can also read my pontificating about monitoring and other things at and I identify religiously as an Orthodox Jew. Josh:                                      01:26                     Wonderful! And I'm Josh Biggley. Uh, this is the first time I think we've officially announced that I am a TechOps Strategy Consultant with New Relic. Uh, super excited about that. Started two weeks ago and I feel like I'm living the dream. Leon:                                     01:40                     Mazal Tov, mazel tov! Josh:                                      01:41                     Mazal Tov indeed. Uh, you can find me on the Twitters, uh, @Jbiggley. Uh, I've actually shut down all of my, all of my um, non-work related discussions maybe I'm just tired of social media. I don't know. Um, but I do identify as post-Mormon. Um, so Leon, you, you had a trip. Leon:                                     02:02                     I did. I did. And, but before we dive into the particulars of the trip, which is sort of the central part of this episode, I want to talk about something that I think is near and dear to a lot of it practitioners, which is travel hacking. Josh:                                      02:16                     Oh yes, yes, please. Leon:                                     02:18                     Because a lot of the, a lot of the parts of the trip that I took were predicated on or were built on my ability to, um, travel both comfortably and also efficiently. Um, you know, not being independently wealthy as I think all of our listeners are. And if you are a listener and you're independently wealthy, please consider taking a sponsorship. Um, we would love to, we'd love to have your support. Um, in any case, uh, I wanted to take a minute and talk about some things that I've learned over the last five and a half, almost six years as a head geek doing a lot of traveling. And Josh, I know that you have stuff to contribute. Josh:                                      02:57                     I'm actually going to do a lot of listening here because, uh, as part and parcel of my new job, I'm going to be doing a fair bit of traveling. So, uh, I mean I'm going to take some notes. Uh, wait, no, hold on. We're going to put the details in the show notes. I'm not taking notes. Leon:                                     03:11                     Very good. Okay, good. I, you know, and we forgot to mention that earlier, so that was a nice way to slide it in there. The first point, especially when we're talking about non US/Canada travel is all you need to do is get to Europe. Everything else is cheap. Once you do that, just get to Europe. I think a lot of Americans, and I'm assuming also Canadians, um, think, well, I'm going to go from, you know, France to Italy to this and they feel like they have to book it all out from the American perspective and you can, it's going to cost a lot of money. The reality is that just land anywhere in Europe, it doesn't have to be your final destination. It doesn't even have to be on your itinerary. Wherever it's cheapest to land get there because once you're on the continent at that point, getting around is ridiculously cheap. You live, for example, uh, you can get a one week pass on the train system for about a hundred dollars US and that allows you to get on and off the train as much as you want. So you can go from city to city and if you get someplace and it's like, wow, I didn't even expect to be here and it's beautiful here and I want to spend more time, fine, stay here and get on the train tomorrow or the day after or whatever. Also, there's a lot of cheap airlines, um, easy jets, one of them, but there's others. So again, just get into the region and from there you can build your trip off of that. Another thing is airline travel points are your friend and therefore, um, you want to work those points. And just to give you an example, a round trip ticket from the U S to Israel on United. I happened to be a United flyer. That's my airline of choice a is 80,000 points. Round trip from Barcelona is 30,000 points. You know, I was already, as we'll get into, I was already going to be in Barcelona, so I was able to build off of that to go do something else. Credit cards are a great tool for travel if they make sense for you. I'm not insisting that people get involved in credit cards. You get into credit card debt. I know that it's a slippery slope for a lot of folks, but the reality is that there are a lot of cards you can get that come with a signing bonus and you get 50, 60, 100,000 points. That's a European trip right there. Just that, you know, especially if it's a credit card that you know you're not going to use after that and you've got the, the willpower to do it. Josh:                                      05:25                     I liked that actually. I did. I didn't use that piece of advice. Um, when I started my new job, I, I, I am an Air Canada flyer because I'm in Canada and there's really two airlines, so yay. Star Alliance partner. Um, right. Got out, went out and got myself a credit card. They gave me, uh, a bonus for signing up and then a bonus if I spent more than X number of dollars, which wasn't a problem because it's also their credit card, I used to reimburse all my expenses. Leon:                                     05:50                     So as an IT pro, as long as your company doesn't have a thing against it, use that credit card. First of all, you get all of your perks if you use that card rather than the corporate card. And yeah, you get, even if even if the dollars are going to be reimbursed, you get the points for the miles. And to your point, especially if you know you're going to do a lot of travel, take a look at, you know, a lot of credit cards and a lot of airlines have a card that gives you club access. It costs. For example, the..., I have the chase United card. It is I think $400 a year for a fee. Now, $200 of that are refunded to me if they're travel related. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about taking a taxi or an Uber or Lyft or a hotel room or an extra bag that I'm checking in or whatever, whatever it is, those $200 get reimbursed right off the top second. If I need to get something like nexus or global entry or TSA pre that's covered, you're automatically covered with that, but on top of it, it gets you automatic access to the airline club and the reason why you want that there's, there's the living, the high life aspect, right? You walk in there, they treat you nice, you free drinks, there's food, there's even showers and stuff like that. That's nice. However, that's not the perk. The perk is that there's a different category of travel agent who works inside the club and I really believe that those agents are exclusively graduates of Hogwarts, school of witchcraft and wizardry because they will make things happen that can't happen anywhere else. I have gotten can't, you know, flights canceled, bumped off my flight, missed my flight, whatever. And I walk into the club and I tell them, Hey, this happened and type, type, type, type, type, Mr Adato, I've got you on the very next flight. There wasn't a very next flight. There is now. Oh wow. I mean like they literally conjure a new airplane. I don't know. They're magic people. That is worth the price of the card right there is having that, that fallback. So that's another thing. You had something about your status. Josh:                                      07:57                     I mean, I don't do a lot of traveling, but I am, I got silver status, um, uh, on Air Canada this year and I am five segments away from getting to gold status when traveling first, getting on the plane before, um, you know, zones three, four and five is pretty awesome because everyone wants to take their non-checked bags with them. So everyone's trying to cram their carry-ons. So you get in early, you always are gonna find some carry on space second, um, you, you're going to get your pick of seats. I mean, not first class. Sometimes you get a first class upgrade, but you're going to get that premium economy. Um, so you actually have leg room. Um, and I mean third, you just want the ability to access some of the perks that come along with it. Like, Hey, if you rent at the Marriott hotels, you automatically get, um, 250 or 500 points. Little things like that. And I think that's another hack. Let's make sure we're stacking our, um, our rewards. You know, if Air Canada and Marriott have a, an agreement which they do, um, Hey, um, fly air Canada and stay at a Marriott hotel. Fortunately without even planning it, I always fly Air Canada, uh, or star Alliance partner. And I also, um, usually stay at a Marriott hotel, uh, when it makes sense, uh, only because it was really close to, um, you know, our, our previous employer, um, and made just perfect sense and there was, it was a great rate. So yeah, I mean, find those, find those synergies and uh, and work them. Leon:                                     09:33                     I will also say don't get sort of psychologically locked in. Sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes you can't fly your preferred airline, you can't do that. But you know, have an eye for that. And then the last thing, and this is something I think as Americans were less, I don't know, less comfortable with, is the whole cell phone thing. You know, because America is so just geographically big and the carriers cover such a large range. I think once we get into the European theater, uh, the idea of what do we do with my cell phone comes up now, I will tell you I solved this this year by moving to Google Fi which rides on top of networks in almost every country. And so I didn't have to think about it. I landed and literally got a message. "Hey, good to know that you're in Switzerland right now and we've got you covered." Like literally a pop up on my phone came up and said, but as a non-American, you know, what advice do you have? Josh:                                      10:27                     The advice that I've always been given and that I know that a few friends of mine who travel extensively always say is, um, don't roam Europe. Yes. All the cell phone companies. And including, you know, bell who I'm now with so that I can call the U S without unlimited calling. Um, they will tell you that you can roam for like $12 or $15 a day. The reality is don't roam. If you're going to be in Europe for any period of time, buy a SIM card. Um, I mean there's, they're like $25 for unlimited calling, uh, uh, a very generous helping of data. Uh, if you're going to use all of that, you should probably get out and see the sites a little more. Leon:                                     11:09                     So my son, this is going to factor into the longer story, but my son is, uh, in Israel in a hundred gig data SIM card is effectively $12. Leon:                                     11:19                     Oh, come on! Leon:                                     11:19                     If you're going to be there for a week or two or whatever it is, and you're going to use a hundred gig of cell data yet, like you said, you're doing your traveling wrong. Josh:                                      11:28                     You are definitely travel or you're, or you're traveling all sorts of, right. I don't know. Maybe you're live streaming. Leon:                                     11:34                     Yeah, maybe a live streaming. Sure. Okay. Josh:                                      11:36                     Streaming your entire trip. I mean, not, maybe that's a thing. Leon:                                     11:38                     Okay. So that's, that's, you know, part one, travel hacking, just general travel hacking ideas. And some of that will factor into the story. But I, I think we want to pivot now into the story of me bringing back the Torah. Um, again, the Frisco kid for those people who aren't familiar is a wonderful movie with Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford story of a sort of a naive rabbi from Poland who travels across America to deliver a Torah to, uh, San Francisco. Uh, I felt very much like that along the way. Where it started was that I was set up to go to VMworld Europe this year, which is in Barcelona. And when I realized that that was a thing, I immediately decided I was going to take a cheap flight to Israel to visit my son who's there at Yeshiva. Josh:                                      12:22                     No, wait, hold on, Leon. Yeah. Um, I think last time we talked your son was struggling with Yeshiva. Leon:                                     12:29                     Yeah, he was. And in fact, um, when we talked about it, he was coming home. Like that night there was a flurry of activity. There were some correct course corrections made and some assurances made. And in fact he was able to feel comfortable staying with 15 minutes to spare. Josh:                                      12:46                     Wow. Fantastic. Leon:                                     12:47                     Yeah. So he was there and you know, he's doing, he is doing much better and growing and learning and doing the things that you want to do. But I was going to be there and I thought this is a wonderful chance for me to check up on him and see what he gets to see. And so I did that. And like I said before, the flight from Barcelona to Israel is significantly cheaper than the flight from the U S so it made a lot of sense. You know, I found the cheapest code partners that I could find and I got those flights booked. And so I mentioned to my, to my rabbi, just in passing, I said, Hey, I'm going to visit my son and he's, you know, in Israel. And he said, Oh, if you're going to be in Israel while you're there, can you bring a Torah back with you? And I said, well, yeah, sure, I guess. Sure. And he immediately, his entire tone changed. Like he was surprised like, well you mean it like will you ask me to, sure. Is that, are you sure? He must have asked me if I was sure five times until finally I said, what are you not telling me about this? You know, because I thought I'm bringing a Torah back. Is there something else I should know? Is there some major risks that I'm unaware of? What's what's going on Josh:                                      13:47                     Now, to be clear, we are talking about the first five books of the old Testament. Right? Leon:                                     13:53                     Right. So, so in this context, when I say bringing back a Torah, it is the scroll and we'll have pictures of it in the show notes, but it's just, it is, it is a, you know, scroll of parchment may, it can range in size from let's say, you know, two feet long and you know, kind of like, you know, eight inches wide and maybe 10 pounds and it can get, they can be larger than that, but, Josh:                                      14:14                     okay. Well I just wanted to make sure that Torah wasn't code for, I don't know. An alligator. But apparently you can't bring on the airlines. I, I, Leon:                                     14:24                     They really don't allow emotional support alligators anymore. Josh:                                      14:28                     Oh, weird. Leon:                                     14:29                     I know. I know. Um, so yeah, it's, it's a fairly specific object and, and non-dangerous it doesn't bite or anything like that from an it perspective because we want to talk about the technically part as well as the religiously parked. I was immediately struck by what happens when you volunteer for a project that nobody expects you to say yes to. My rabbi had made a comment sort of as a, and I took it seriously and all of a sudden he was sort of stuck like, what do well, but nobody would say yes to that. And, um, you know, we, I think many of us have been in that situation with projects where it's like, Hey, who wants to do X? You know, who wants to write that ebook? Or who wants to, yes, please. May I? And I was like, no, you don't. You don't really want to do that. I'm like, Oh yeah, I totally wanted to. Josh:                                      15:16                     Uh, I think we all definitely need a Leon Adato on our teams to, uh, write all the documentation, uh, in fun ebook style. Leon:                                     15:24                     Yes, absolutely. Um, I think that, you know, for any tech writers who are here, you can men, you can talk in the comments to this post on and say I'm available and I will volunteer to write eBooks also, you know, uh, volunteer meaning pay me. But, um, so I think from an it perspective though, there's some lessons that we can pull from this just even at this point in the story, you know, volunteering for things that other people consider to be a hard job is a really good career idea. Josh:                                      15:53                     Yeah, I would definitely agree with that. Over the last five and a half years. Um, well, I mean, let's bring up the story, right? Hey Josh, it'd be really awesome if, you know, you joined, you know, Cardinal Health and you know, came to work for Leon Adato and then four days later someone quit on me. Leon:                                     16:15                     Okay. It was to become head gig and SolarWinds. Like, I couldn't not take that opportunity, but yes, I, Josh:                                      16:22                     Yeah, but yeah, it's saying yes to opportunities even when they're hard, like, Hey, will you fill Leon shoes? I'll try it. It works out really well. And that really set me up for, for my entire career at a, at Cardinal Health, right. I as a non-cloud engineer, I was the co lead of the cloud community of practice as a just an engineer, uh, air quote, just an engineer, not a senior engineer. Um, I was the enterprise monitoring representative on the smash committee. It's not a whole idea of always be learning and you don't know that you can or cannot do something until you volunteer to do it and Hey, why not do it in a, what should be a safe space, um, of work. Yes. It means putting yourself out there. Yes. It means being risky. Yes. It means you have to trust your colleagues, but Oh my goodness. If you're going to try something, try it with the tactical support of a really strong team. Leon:                                     17:19                     I also want to say that, you know, I got a lot of pushback from, from my Rabbi. Are you sure? Are you really sure? Do you mean it? Sometimes that's a warning sign. Sometimes when people say, you know, when nobody else is volunteering and the person in charge is, is really looking for that confirmation, it's a clue that this is not, you might've missed something. So ask questions. Not just the people in charge, but ask other folks, you know? But at a certain point, you also recognize that what appears to impossible or odious or frustrating kind of work that may not be how you see it. And that means that that's your superpower. So again, I love writing. I really do. And so while we're, a lot of other people in it will say, you know, write something. Are you joking? I'd rather take a fork through the eyeball. I'm like, I really wish I had more time to do this. That just happens to be the thing that I like. Recognize when that's the case and run with it. Josh:                                      18:19                     My super power is apparently financial models. Right? Which is totally weird. Since I failed math in ninth grade. So Zack Mutchler and I who were colleagues up until two weeks ago, despises financial models. He never wants to do that. And I'm like, Oh my goodness, please. Yes, let me, it's, it's my grounding place. If I can figure out how it works financially, then I'll go and figure out how the technology works. So, um, yeah, I, I will volunteer to do financial models any day of the week. Yeah. Leon:                                     18:50                     And that's something I would never do. Right. Okay. All right. So, so fast forward, um, you know, VMworld Barcelona is wonderful and I wrote some blog posts about it and then I, you know, went from there to Israel and had a great week with my son and had a great time. And I even got a chance to speak at cloud native day in Israel. Um, so I had called a friend of mine, Sharone Zitzman and said, "Hey, I'm..." She has kids. and she's Israeli, " I'm going to be there with myself. What's really fun things to do?" And she said, "Oh, you're going to be there. I'm running a convention. Can you speak?" Like Sharon, that's not why I, that's not what I called you for is to do another convention talk. But here I am. So I did that. Now, what's interesting about this, and this is relevant to this story, is that, um, the morning of the convention, it happens to be a Tuesday, uh, Israel executed an airstrike that killed, uh, uh, Palestinian Islamic jihad commander. And, uh, I know that it gets political. It gets into, you know, the whole middle East politics and things. So a trigger warning up front about that for people who feel strongly about it. But there was a, uh, an airstrike that killed this Islamic jihad commander and that triggered a retaliatory strike of 160 rockets that were fired from Gaza into Israel. And six of those reached Tel Aviv, which meant that the talk I was giving in Tel Aviv, you know, might not happen. And we were on our way from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and I was getting emails that, you know, despite the fact that businesses and schools had been ordered to shut down, the convention was permitted to continue. Um, and then I got a call from the organizer who said, "You know, if you don't want to come in, if you're not comfortable, if it makes you nervous, I completely understand." Nope, we're on our way. It's fine. You know, 160 rockets, just another day in Israel. Here we go. So I went in and, and gave the talk and that was fine. So the next day, Wednesday I'm set to fly home. It's me, my luggage and the Torah. Um, so I need to describe in a little bit more detailed what this is. So the Torah is a scroll, it's on two wooden dowels. And um, like I said, it can be anywhere from say a foot and a half to three feet tall or long and you know, six, eight inches a foot wide when you roll it up and everything. So that's wrapped up, you know, packed up nice and tight and bubble wrap and wrapped in plastic and put into a a duffle bag that I can take with me. Then there's a box that goes in because, uh, some Torahs are just the scroll, but some come in their own sort of self contained container and this is called an Aron. So when I use that word from now on in the Aron is the box that comes in and this is a circular box. It's about two and a half, three feet high, about a foot in diameter. It's usually made out of plywood and covered in silver and has all sorts of literally bells hanging off of it. Uh, so that's, that's also there. Now the, the Torah itself cannot be checked as luggage. You treat it with respect and you know, I wouldn't check my grandmother is luggage. I'm not going to check the Torah, his luggage either. Um, so that has to come with me on the plane. Uh, you don't have to buy it its own seat, but you do have to bring it with you on the plane. It can't be checked as luggage. The Aron, the box can be checked as luggage. So that was all packed up. Also, it was wrapped nice and tight and foam and bubble wrap. And you know, a layer of plastic just to keep it all self contained. And that was in another duffle bag. And the Torah itself, uh, it turns out was about 25-30 pounds and the, our own was probably closer to 40 pounds. Josh:                                      22:24                     Oh wow. Okay. Leon:                                     22:25                     Along with my overloaded suitcase cause it had all the convention crap I had collected and a couple of things my son wanted to send home with me and a pita maker that I bought while I was in Israel for my wife, like one does. Right, right. All right. I just need to remind you at this point in the story that I had booked my flight, uh, my flights back and forth before I knew I was bringing the Torah. And it was also predicated on this convention trip. So my flights were Barcelona, Israel, and then Israel, Barcelona and work was paying for the Cleveland, Barcelona, Barcelona, Cleveland leg. So I had these two separate trips that, that dovetailed, that I booked before I knew I was bringing a Torah. And the second thing I wanna remind you is that there were 160 rockets fired from, you know, Gaza into Israel the day before I flew. And the reason I mentioned this is because of the flight home was on Turkish airlines. Josh:                                      23:13                     I mean... what??? Leon:                                     23:13                     It was on Turkish airlines. Yeah. Josh:                                      23:16                     So a Jewish dude. Leon:                                     23:18                     Yeah. Orthodox Jewish dude flying on Turkish airlines. Okay, I'm going to give this spoiler Turkish airlines rocks. They are amazing people. Uh, they, everybody was delightful and lovely. So I'm just going to, I'm going to put that out up front. Okay. However, I didn't know what to expect. I also want to point out that, um, it, Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, the, the airport in Israel, all of the check areas, uh, are on the same level when you walk in the door, except for Turkish airlines, which is two floors down and off to the right in its own little section. And that section is predominantly a Palestinian Arabic travelers going back and forth. So I'm traveling as, as incognito as I possibly can. For those people who've seen me. I have little fringy things hanging out of my, uh, you know, out of my shirt, the tzitzit, those were tucked in a, I wear a kippah, but I was wearing a ball cap over it. I just wanted to be like as nonchalantly American as I possibly could be. Just again, didn't want to be in people's face, especially given what was happening, you know, that day and the day before. I get up to the checkout counter and delightful, a Palestinian young lady is checking me in and I give her the our own first because if there's gonna be a problem with my tickets, because I have three, I have three bags. I was only supposed to be traveling with one, they're overweight. There's a lot of extra charges on me. I want to make sure the, our own gets on before, you know, before anything else happens. So she asked me "Mah zeh?", what is that? My Hebrew is very, very bad. So in English I, I said "it's, um, it's a box that a Torah goes in?" I'm not sure if any of these words are going to have any meaning to anybody. And she looks at the duffle hanging off my shoulder and she says, "Zeh sefer Torah?" that bag over there, that's a safer tour. That's a, that's a Holy Torah? "Ken". I said, yes. "Ah, very good." She puts a fragile sticker on the bag that has the our own on it and she says, please take this off. We will use special handling for this. And then she takes my other bag, which is overweight and she puts a heavy sticker on it and off it goes. And then she takes my other bag and off it goes and I have my credit card out. I said, "I know this is going to cost." And she says, "There is no charge." Josh:                                      25:34                     Waaaaaat??? Leon:                                     25:34                     I know. I literally said, "no, no, I just gave you three bags like I have to pay for these " She says "No, no, no, it is all good." Okay. And then she hands me a card, she says, this is a pass for the VIP lounge. Please enjoy. Josh:                                      25:49                     Wow. Leon:                                     25:50                     Okay. So now I have to take the Aron to special handling. So I take it around the corner to the special handling air. It's where it just right there and these two Palestinian guys are, you know, you know Israeli Palestinian, Israeli guys are there and uh, they open the bag and it's of course wrapped in bubble wrap, wrapped in plastic wrap and whatever, and they put it through the x-ray. Now I just want to remind you, it is a, a wooden box wrapped in silver wrapped in bubble wrap, et cetera. What's that gonna look like on the X Ray? It's gonna look like a big metal tube. So these guys, these guys like we're going to have to open this up. It had been so carefully, professionally packed and look, you're going to do what you're going to do, right? You've got to do it. So they open it up and they're like, yup, that's exactly what we thought we were gonna say there. And then immediately pull out their own roll of bubble wrap and they wrap it up just as good as it had been before. Just boom, boom, boom, wrap it up, put it back in the bag and off it goes. Like no problem. No. You can also say that, you know, tourists coming back from Israel is something that is seen a lot at Ben Gurion airport. That's a pretty normal thing. So, okay, so I get through the rest of security. I get to the lounge, I have a delightful time in the lounge. Um, get on my plane. My flight is going on Turkish airlines from Tel Aviv to Istanbul. Of course, that's the, the, you know, hub for that. Change. planes, go from Istanbul to Barcelona and that's where I have to change flights again. So I'm stay overnight in Barcelona, get up the next morning, come back to Barcelona airport, and I'm basically doing the same thing all over again. I get into check in this time it's United and, uh, this time everything's going to happen except it's going to happen in Spanish. Now my Spanish is better than my Hebrew. Uh, it's not great, but it's better than than that. And so I get to the line and uh, you know, get through the line and I get up to the guy at the counter and he once again, you know, I hand him the Aron and I put it up on the conveyor and he says, "well, what's that?" All right, I'm talking to you in a predominantly Christian country. How am I gonna explain this? "Uh, it's a box that, that a Torah scroll, a Holy scroll goes into," I'm, I'm trying to figure out how to say this. And he spoke English, but I'm still, and he says, "Oh," like recognition dawned and his face, he hands me a sticker that's his fragile, he says, would you like to put that on here? Okay, fine. So I put the sticker on, he says, "okay, please take it off and we'll special handle it in the moment." And he takes my bag, the overweight one, and he takes the other bag and I pull up my credit card cause I'm going to pay. And he's like, "no charge." Like what is this? No, no, no charge. And again, he hands me a pass. He says, "here's a pass to the VIP lounge, please enjoy." Josh:                                      28:32                     Oh my goodness. Leon:                                     28:33                     Okay. He gets up. Now there's a line of people behind me. He says, please follow me. So I follow him. There's, there's other people, you know, it's not like he left the line waiting, but you know, I follow him around to where the special handling area is. And he says, please "put this up on the conveyor." Like he's standing, he's standing right there, but please put on me. So I put on the conveyor and I put it, apparently the wrong direction, "would you please turn it?" And I realized at that moment, he's not touching this thing. So I turn it and it goes and it goes on and he comes down and as we're walking back, he says, "We see this sometimes Shalom." Josh:                                      29:06                     Oh my goodness, I've got chills. Leon chills. Leon:                                     29:09                     So I go through Barcelona airport security and, and here I get stuck again because the Torah again is wrapped in bubble wrap, whatever. It's just this big blob on the x-ray. "Que es esto?"Kay the guy says, uh, "Halbas Ingles?". No. Okay. Here we go. There's, there's a phrase that you have that I try to say it's really bad. So for those native Spanish speakers, please feel free to mock me. "Una objeto religioso" it's a religious object. "Yo no comprendo." "Una scrol de Bible?" Like now I'm running out of words here to describe what a Torah is to the security dude in Barcelona airport. And so he calls the supervisor over and they have a quick conversation and she looks at me and she says a word, which if you're ever in Spain is the most important word you can possibly know in Spain. It's Vale. Vale means okay. In the same way that we would use it, it's a question. It's an answer. It's a statement. It's everything. Vale. So I say "Vale??" and she says, "Tu puedas va. Vale", You can go. Okay. So I go, I go to the, I go to the lounge, have another delightful time. I get on, uh, the airplane. I should mention one of the other things, one of the other issues. Remember I said the Torah can't be checked as baggage. So each time I'm getting on the plane, I'm worried that they're going to gate check this extra piece of luggage, this Torah, because it can't go. Never happened. Each time I would go to the flight attendants say, "I'm really sorry. I know this is sort of oversized. It's, it's a few inches larger than normal carry on, you know, but it's, it's a religious object." Again, I'm, I'm describing it in, in non-Jewish terms and it really, and they're like, "no problem. Put it right up there. It's fine." Like it was not a problem at all. Um, but back to your point about being able to check on early, it really helped to know that I was one of the first people boarding, so there was going to be overhead space. It made a difference in this case. So we're flying in and uh, you know, Barcelona, New Jersey, I land in New Jersey at Newark airport and that's when I realize I have this incredibly valuable object. How do you claim a Torah at immigration? Like how do you, Josh:                                      31:21                     how do you claim?... Leon:                                     31:23                     ...What is it worth? So I'm real quick texting a bunch of people like people do this, how do you do whatever they say? It's not worth anything to anybody else. Yes, you're right. We would pay a lot of money for it, but it's not actually on the street worth anything, so just don't claim it. It turns out however that something else happened. I have global entry. Back to the travel hacking. I have TSA pre. I also have global entry, which means that I can go through the really fast lane when I come in through the country, but I also on my phone have the TSA app, which allows you to do the claim form on the plane four hours ahead of landing and put everything in there and then the record's already in there. However, don't do both. It turns out that if you do both, it creates a conflicting record in immigration systems that if you're, if you have Global Entry, you simply use global entry, use the paper form and go through. I didn't know that, so I did both. So I get through personal immigration and they say, Oh yeah, if you're going to do, you know, so I scan my phone app and I show them my Global Entry and they're like, the Global Entry doesn't count because you did the phone app, it's going to create a conflict. Don't do that. So okay, fine. So then when I'm pick up my bags and I'm going to go through the check, I go through global entry and the guy sees the phone app and he spends a good solid like two minutes. "Why did you do that? You already have Global Entry. Why did you do the TSA App?" "I didn't know it was going to create a problem." This is... "Just please next time don't do that." And he waves me through an off I go. He didn't ever look at the fact that I had four pieces of luggage, you know, I'm a single guy going through, didn't even pay attention to that. He was more concerned about the fact that I had made an IT error. Josh:                                      33:06                     Lovely, yes, you had done the steps out of order. Incorrect. The problem exists between the keyboard and the chair, obviously. Leon:                                     33:17                     Right? So, right. PEBKAC rules. I am clearly the ID10T error of the day. That was the problem, not the toy, the ancient Torah scroll and the silver case and that, that wasn't okay. So I get through and uh, I get home and uh, one of the lessons to, to spin this back around again to the more technical is that I had, I knew the entire flight plan. I knew each of the steps along the way. I knew that I was gonna have personal security at these places and I was gonna have luggage security at these places. I knew I was going to have all these things. I had my steps in a row, but I, I took each step as it came. I didn't take a hiccup or an issue at one moment as a sign of things to come. Good or bad. I really, and I think that as IT professionals, we also need to think about that. That, you know, we have a project, we know what the project plan is. Things are going to work, other things aren't going to work. That doesn't mean it's a sign of how the whole project is going to go. That each moment is its own moment and doesn't necessarily have bearing on the next moment to come. Josh:                                      34:28                     Yeah. I, when we think about how, how do you build a resilient system, there are two things that you factor in. One is a system that is resistant to failure and a system that can quickly recover from failure because there is no such thing as no downtime. It does not exist. There will always be failures, right? And as IT professionals, we need to figure that out, not just in the technology but also in the way that we execute projects in the way that we execute our careers. I mean, it's all about that personal, professional resilience. Failure is going to happen. Roll with the punches Leon:                                     35:12                     And you know, don't, yeah, don't imagine the punches aren't going to come, but just because one step along the way knocked you down doesn't mean every step is going to knock you down. It's not. Um, so we got it back to America. Um, in the show notes, I will link to the live tweeting I did of the entire process and a picture of the Torah itself so you can see it in its, in its new home. But after I, I got back, I went over to the rabbi's house and the rabbi's wife and I were, and she said something very interesting and I have to give you a little bit of history. So as I mentioned before, um, the kind of Jewish we are or the culture that we come from is the Spanish Jewish culture. So that means that, uh, after the expulsion of the Jews from Israel in 72 CE, after the second destruction, they settled in Spain and they lived in Spain until about 1492 during, you know, the Inquisition. And then our family, my Rabbi's family and my family settled from Spain into Istanbul and they lived in Istanbul, in a little town outside of his temple until about 1920. And that's when they came to America. So when I got everything back and I was sitting at the house and I was talking to her, she said, you know that Torah stopped every place our family lived. And I got chills. It went from Israel to Istanbul to Spain to America. And if I had said to you, Hey Josh, you know, I just want bring a Torah back but I want to do this really, really cool thing. I'm going to stop every place or a, you would tell me, Leon, you are way overthinking this and just bring the thing back and be done with it. But it ju