Boys and blocks

Several years ago, I taught a Sunday School class of pre-school boys. One if their favorite activities was to knock down blocks. We had these big soft blocks and I would stack them high. Invariably one of them would hit or kick and knock down the tower. Once one started the rest would join in. Then we had to build it again. There wasn’t nearly as much energy in building the stack as there was in knocking it down.

We start at an early age. Many boys (and girls) love to examine things and take things apart. Grabbing glasses off of faces and pulling earrings off. Then they start taking apart simple toys and then progressing to more expensive toys. Later on, some of them actually learn to put things back together and eventually start to make things better.

Taking things apart is much easier than building things. Destroying things is much easier than building things. It doesn’t really take much to tear things down. But, it’s difficult to build things and build them well.

The part of software development that I enjoyed the most was building it. Planning on how it was put together, creating it, and making it run correctly. Building is also why I enjoy home improvement projects, origami, and woodworking. Sure, tearing down is fun. But the sense of accomplishment when you’ve built something is much more satisfying and longer lasting. You see the results for much longer.

It’s harder to see when we talk about building someone up. We are to build each other up. From 1 Thess. 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” An encouraging word. Coming along side of another to help them when and where they need help. To remind them they are not alone (not just in this time of Covid, but all of the time). To listen to them. To pray for them. To feed and help with shelter. To teach.

Unlike doing a home project, you probably won’t see the results immediately if at all. This is where faith comes in. You need to continue to build them up even without the feedback of accomplishment or a sense of change. It will take many, many, many repetitions. Keep at it. Work at it. Use your stubbornness and “don’t quit” attitude to build others up. But don’t be obnoxious about it. It is not really your project. It’s God’s project. You are his hands and feet. You are his instrument to build others up. Listen to His leading on where you need to help and build.

Peace, David

Maps

I’ve always enjoyed maps. When taking the Iowa Test of Basic Skills tests many years ago, the map part of the test was the one that I enjoyed doing and the part that I always did well on.

Today, the maps on your phone are great for getting from point A to point B. They really don’t give you a sense of distance or what is in between the start and end points. It’s easy to put in 2 points and it calculates the trip distance and time. A 1003 mile trip in 15 hours is easily computed. But that doesn’t include stops for gas, food, hotel, etc.. Plus, there is a multitude of places that you might was to stop in between!

I grew up using the large paper state maps. When planning a trip, you would need to decide on which roads to take and calculate the distances from one location to another. Attractions or places of interest would be noted on the map as you planned your route. You never know what you might find to make the trip more interesting! Seems like there is a poem that contains the phrase, “I took the one less traveled”.

Of the various map types, I enjoy historical and topographical maps the most. The following links point to some references where you can find these types of maps.

The USGS has topographical and historical maps of the entire U.S dating back to the late 1800s. You can find them at https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/topoview/ You will want to select “View and Download maps now”. You can even see how a place has grown over time.

Historical Topographic Map Collection

The Library of Congress has collection the contains a wide variety of historical maps. https://www.loc.gov/collections/general-maps.

Map Geeks has a variety of information and a good collection of historical maps https://mapgeeks.org. Texas maps are at: https://mapgeeks.org/texas.

Maps that relate to stories help put the story into perspective. Think about the maps for Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and the Hundred Acre Woods. It gives both scale and a quick guide to the world that the story is written in.

Many games have maps as an integral part of the game. Sometimes mapping the levels or the world are the only way to win.

As you can probably guess, I can spend a lot of time just browsing at maps. It’s a wonderful world to wander about in.

Peace, David

Music, music, music

Music is one of those things that people remember. Even those that can’t remember what they were just doing will remember songs from a long time ago. Music evokes emotions, reminds us of memories, and gives us dreams.

I’ve never been one to know who sang which song and what year it was from. Nor am I adventurous to search out excellent, off-beat groups. But upon hearing certain songs, I’m taken back to moments in time when that song was playing. Sometimes the moment was important, but usually not.

An example is Jim Croce’s “30,000 Pounds of Bananas”. When our children were young, they didn’t exactly want to get up for church on Sundays. I would put on some music to help them wake up and crank up the volume a little bit. They seemed to like it this song and would sing along with it. It helped them get up and moving.

Another example is The Steve Miller Band’s song “Joker”. I remember that I was at a teen party at youth outreach place I went to for a month or two as a guest of a friend. This was about 1973. The song brings back good memories of the place, the party, and my friend that had invited me. None of these memories are things that I have thought of in a number of years until I started writing about them just now. I hadn’t forgotten.

The last few years, I’ve listened primarily to contemporary Christian music. There is a huge range in the types of Christian music. They touch different people in different ways. Some people love the old hymns, some love gospel, others love hip-hop, and some love worship music. In fact, all of the cultures around the world have their own unique way of praising God. Each type of music have their place and have people that love that type of music.

If you want to take a look at the music I enjoy, under the Links menu there is a link to my YouTube playlist. There are a couple of Christmas songs in the list, but when the time comes I’ll put together a playlist just for Christmas.

When I needed to concentrate at work on what I was doing, I would put on the headphones and play my iPod. It helped to block out all of the extraneous noises of people walking/talking. If someone really needed to interrupt, they could and that was fine. It helped me be “in the zone”. This is where you could focus on what is right before you, keep track of threads of code, and how they interact with the overall program. Sure music was just background noise. But it was better than the hum of electronics and machinery or the chattering of random conversations.

Even when you aren’t consciously listening, you hear the music and sometimes will have the melody running in your brain. That can be a good thing or a not so good thing!

Peace, David

The first story…

Initially I was thinking the first story on my shinny new web site should be something profound and amazing. Then I downgraded my expectations. Perhaps just a funny story would be good. You know, start slowly and build. Or perhaps something from scripture. You can’t go wrong there. I settled history!?

Over the last several years (getting to retirement age), I’ve been considering the concept of legacy. Having been a software engineer for over 35 years, one of things I realized is that whatever I do developing software is obsolete within 5 years. Oh, the code may stay around a bit longer, but it’s obsolete. I’m sure it falls in the “80/20 or 90/10” rule. The concepts will last longer, but even they fade into the fog of history in a relatively short time.

Software has been a wonderful career and has provided for me and my family. But it really doesn’t last in the long run. It’s not like building a structure that you expect to last 100s of years or more. It wouldn’t take much for most of the digital world to be lost. Just think of all of the pictures people take and then lose when their accounts expire or their phone dies.

Now that I’m retired, within 5 years my skills will be obsolete. The industry will move on, my company will move on, and my co-workers will hopefully have fond remembrances of working together.

So where do you find a legacy? It’s the same place it’s always been. It’s in your family, friends, students and the lives you’ve touched.

If you leave a good legacy, they will tell stories about growing up around you and the time you spent together. They will repeat the same phrases to their children that you told to them and they will remember the lessons you taught them. They will remember the help and kind words that you gave out.

If you leave a horrible legacy, they will remember the shouting and angry words. They will remember the drunk that they avoided and the abuse you dished out. They will pass the horrible legacy on to others.

But even these memories will not last. Think of all of the Christians that taught their children and their children’s children about Jesus. That is a great legacy. That is a worthy legacy. Their names are unknown. Their stories are not written anywhere. But we are part of that great legacy by teaching future generations about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We are a part of the great story of God and his creation.

Take a look at the book “Epic” by John Eldredge. It’s a wonderful read.

And one of my favorite current songs is “The Blessing” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp6aygmvzM4.

I realized many years ago that I will not be famous. Not that I really desired to be. My legacy is not tied to my job, but tied to those around me.

Peace, David