Saturday, July 26, 2008

Be there for someone, no matter what

Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. --Galatians 6:2

It's often hard to understand what it is that we are accomplishing and I think many leave this life without knowing half of the good that they have done. My 2nd cousin's wife, Becca, had a long fight with cancer and it ended last week when God took her home. She grew up in the same church that we grew up in. I didn't know her like a close friend but we did, of course, know each other. She always was an understanding person and someone that you just wanted to be around. It's quite possible that no one knew just how great of a person she was until last week.

Last night I called my mom to let her know what was going on with me and with my friend who has been dealing with this horrible custody battle and harassment from her ex. It was supposed to just be talking but I ended up in tears at least 3 times. It's a really hard thing when you know you're supposed to be somewhere, and you actually are there, but you just simply don't know how much of the pressure you can take. My mom and I ended up talking about various different things and she told me about Becca's funeral. My mom said that at at least one of the viewings people were lined up the street about 5 blocks.... I'm not talking about cars but people standing in line to go into the funeral home. My mom said that the service was one of the longest she had ever been to because when they asked if anyone had anything to say or share person after person stood up and explained how Becca impacted their life. You have to wonder how much of this Becca actually knew about.

It's continually hard to stay focused on doing good and trying your best to be a good person and being there for others. When these people are hard to deal with thats when they need you the most because everyone else will start giving up. Another thing that my mom and I talked about last night was how years ago I was the person that no one could deal with. I still think back over that time and I realize how much pain I put Tiff through. Sure, Tiff had her problems too but the way that she stood by me in times that I would have shot me had to be extremely tough on her. Ultimately, I don't know if she realizes how much she helped me. I wonder if she realizes that what I was going through was an important thing for me to experience because I believe God was preparing me to help others. I wonder if she knows that it's highly possible that an adorable 2 year old has been powerfully affected by her indirectly. All these people that helped me along the way -- do they realize that I may be impacting people's lives that I wouldn't have been able to if they didn't deal with me. My mom told me how years ago she would read my blog at night and just cry and realize that there was nothing more she could do than pray.... I have to think that in a way my parents are like Abraham and Sarah.... My mom loves kids but she still doesn't have any grandkids. Things just haven't been going in that direction for myself and my sisters.... I guess my youngest sister is the closest since she's getting married soon but sometimes if we focus on what we don't have we totaly lose sight of what we do. If my mom focuses on the fact that she doesn't have grandkids then she misses the fact that, because of her, hundreds of kids are being affected positively. Both my sisters are gymnastics coaches and they impact the lives of toddlers through teens about every day of their lives. One of those sisters is a special education techer in elementary school.... So maybe I don't have a job that is impacting hundreds of children but what I do have is a great friend who has an adorable 2 year old who I adore and she adores me..... and while I miss Eli greatly, I like to think that I did some good in his life..... and the brushings that I have with my other friends that are single mothers.... It's my hope that I have at least been some type of a positive impact on a child's life.

The hardest things that happen are almost always the things that make the biggest impact. More often than not we don't know the impact that we are making but its important that we keep making that impact because we may end up being remembered for more than one generation as "the person who really was there for me" .... or "there for my dad" ... or "there for my grandpap" ......

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dealing with tough times? Don't place blame!

I think lots of us have these little defining moments in our lives (especially from childhood/teen years) that direct us in a different direction whether we realize it or not and something from that moment sticks with you your entire life. One such moment in my life was in 10th grade when we had a substitute teacher. Not just any substitute but the infamous Mrs. Stewart.... she was probably the most abused substitute but mostly because of her own doing, I think. We got nothing accomplished in that class except I made a perfect paper airplane and sucessfully delivered it to her.... by express air, of course. This landed me in the principal's office which, actually, is the ultimate goal of just about everyone in a class that she is subbing for so this wasn't a punishment but a reward and when I went into the office and they asked who the teacher was they just kind of laughed and said "go ahead and sit over there" .... the office staff knew this was the goal and they, at least seemingly, understood.

There wasn't much to do in the office but listen to the secretaries talk. They started talking about a student (cant remember his name) who was just always extremely polite and caring about people. One secretary said "With all that he has been through it is simply amazing that he is the person he is".... I realized something very important then but I didn't really take it to heart until just a few years ago after I realized that my mistakes with Tiffany were related to the opposite of what this person was doing. Right now I am in a situation where I am watching someone go through the same type of struggle and failing at it the same way that I always did -- a way that this kid in high school learned very early to avoid.

There is no secret that some of us have more pain than others and there are various reasons for why this is the case. We don't know the reasons and we may never know. Another thing that is certain is that there will always be someone there to care for us.... for some people it may only be a single person while others have an entire army. Again, we don't know the reason for this. Regardless of how many people care it is important on how you handle your attitude toward the negative situations that are in your life. The way you RESPOND to a situation means a whole heck of a lot more than WHAT the situation is.

I have had a lot of emotional pain in my life. A lot of it was self-inflicted, I'm sure but there was a good portion of it that was completely out of my control. The reality is that I deal with the same approximate amount of pain now than I did 5 years ago but yet I am handling life a lot better now than back then. I find myself trying to process what it was that changed. Where was the defining moment that my life "got better" even tho I have always been dealing with the same stupid crap that seems to happen in my life. I don't have the answer to this. I know there are a lot of things that happened right around the same time like moving to Virginia, getting a new job, being treated for ADD, etc..... I don't, however, think that these were the biggest influence on things. It leaves me still asking the question of what happened that made things better and what is it that I can do to help someone thats feeling the same way through their time of pain and help them deal with it..... Unfortunately all that I'm learning (first hand) is how much pain that I must have put so many people through during that time. The only thing that I'm leaning towards is that there really isn't anything you can do to help people in this scenario because its something that they need to figure out themselves -- as much as I'd like to be able to fix it for them.

What I've been noticing recently is how much guilt plays a role in the way people operate now. Even looking at the way people drive in Northern VA shows a subtle guilt motivated attitude. If someone pulls out in front of you your instinct is to tailgate them. Justice isn't really being done but I think a hidden motivator is to make sure the person in front of you knows that they screwed up and to make them feel guilty. We're also getting better and better at being a dickhead underneath a calm and collected "its ok" ..... Phrases like "oh, that's ok. It's not like I really cared about the fact that you hit my car and now my family has no way to get around" .... Again, it's the guilt card being played. I think the same type of thought holds true in situations where people are going through an extremely tough time.

Let's, for example, say you called "Joe's Car Shack" about a problem with a car that you bought from them. This car dealership typically has about 600 cars in it's lot and you get the image of a large car dealership. Someone named Joe answers the phone and tells you that he just isn't able to help you.... as a result, you get pissed off and think you're just being bullied by some big car dealership. You hang up the phone but a week later someone tells you about how this guy who runs a car dealership by himself just lost his entire family in a house fire and he's on the verge of bankruptcy. Suddenly, you feel a lot different about the scenario and when he calls you back a few days later and tells you that he actually found a way to help you out, you are completely amazed by the fact that he actually did keep working on a way to take care of his customer despite everything that had been going on in his life. Sure, Joe could have told you all of that on the phone but if he told you all of that, how would you really respond? I imagine not too well.

The problem with being in horrible situations is that we naturally want to tell the world how bad things suck for us right now and basically tell the world to back off because you can't deal with it. What happens when we let this surface is we become tagged as a complainer and/or someone that just simply can not deal with life. The most important thing that we can do in these times where everything is going wrong is accept the fact that there is no one, including ourselves, that can do anything to change the scenario and focus on what is going on in other's lives. If you take the time to find out what is going on in someone else's life rather than complain about your own you very often will find out that you are not alone and you'll find yourself in a conversation that goes both ways and your story gets shared in a positive way because its a two way conversation rather than a one way complaint. What ends up happening is that person that your talking to may talk to someone else and tell them that its amazing how well you're holding things together despite all the crap you are going through. This process may continue and you'll find that you end up with a lot of people that respect you in ways that you never imagined they could but the important thing is that you don't complain about the situation your in because these people have seen you in a light where you are bigger and more powerful than your problems -- which is really the way that we all want to be seen.

Of course none of this directly makes the pain any better but, I suggest, what it does do is prevent a good amount of extra pain being dumped on top of you. Eventually you find that you have a lot of other things to focus on rather than the pain your experiencing and you'll find that you're better able to deal with the horrible situations in your life because you're at least getting a break from them. If you'd rather complain and MAKE people feel bad for you you'll find that it pushes the people that really DO care away and, aside from that, you're focusing on horrible things 24 hours a day which just leads to an endless snowball.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Walk It Off, America

I love this graphic that appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on July 14th, 2008. It really depicts what is happening in the Republican camp. The stance seems to be that if we ignore the problems, deny the problems, and convince ourselves there never was anything we did wrong then things will get better and we won't be held accountable for them. It seems like Bush and McCain need to go over some AA coursework. The first step in fixing a problem is admitting there is one.

Its ok, there is a plan B. If there is no way to make a problem vanish then we make it look like its not a problem. Recently Bush made a statement saying that Americans are in control of what they spend and the rising gas costs are only helping America because its reducing the amount of driving. Seriously? I guess maybe in his world this is true because he hasn't admitted that there is a problem in the economy so he can't see that no one can afford anything. Jon Stewart put it best by extending this stance and saying that the collapsing mortgage industry is good because its getting Americans to live outside.

People that have known me for a while know that I have been a very strong Republican primarily because of the moral aspect of things but I'm now realizing that the moral card is only played by republicans to get votes. They really aren't doing anything good for morals but, actually, are setting an extremely corrupt moral example in the name of morals. It may be true that the democratic party has no morals either but if I have a choice between bad morals or bad morals in the name of good morals then ill just take the plain old bad morals.

Its also true that I am struggling with Obama's vote for FISA and I'd much rather see Ron Paul in office but when I come back to reality Obama is the only real option against McCain and I think the biggest part of this election is stopping America from continuing this path to destruction.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Thoughts on Viacom

A friend of mine, @edroberts, posted his thoughts on Google and Viacom to his blog and subsequently received a comment from Viacom. I added a reply to that comment that I wanted to also post to my blog. You can view Ed's post at

Actually, there are quite a few of us that know it's out there but we are unable to use it in a way that we would enjoy. There are times that we want to take shows on the road or watch them on a machine that may not be compatible with your website. We also don't want to have to go to a website to see if a new episode is available but we want to be able to use an RSS feed and download it into our network so that when we sit down to watch something it's there ready for us.

Let me share my story. I never knew who Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert was until the Net Neutrality debate arose and I caught Jon's clip on youtube regarding that issue. I instantly became a fan and over the next few weeks I became addicted to those shows. I use MythTV for watching shows and I set it up to record every show. A couple months ago Comcast really screwed their subscribers in my area over and as a result I dropped my cable TV service. I've since switched to watching shows off of sites like because I am able to program my mythtv system to look at their RSS feed and download the show. When I sit down on the couch I grab my remote and can see all of the shows that are ready for me to watch.

Your viewers are all very unique people and they have different habbits and different preferences. The one thing that we all have in common is that we want to enjoy your shows in the way that we like to enjoy TV in our own ways. Requiring someone to watch your show at their computer reduces their attention span and, quite frankly, causes many of them to bail out as soon as the first commercial hits. Now if you put that in a video stream that can be downloaded to a PVR or other device that can be connected to a TV, people are more willing to watch the commercials. I certainly know that I am. The answer is not tying people's hands and telling them how they are supposed to enjoy your content but it's allowing them to enjoy it - period. Three years ago I knew a lot of people that had the stance that music piracy was wrong but after the treatment that we have received from the RIAA I now don't know a single person that respects the legal rights of the music industry simply because the RIAA has abused those rights.

Now, I am not saying that you should not pursue the lawsuits that you think you need to but you have to understand that these clips are introducing your content to people who then start watching the full shows. The majority of the clips on YouTube are just that -- clips. I can certainly understand you fighting full episodes being put on YouTube but the majority of these incidents are not full episodes. Allowing people to view your content in ways that they enjoy only provides you with more viewers.

Another thing that I want to add is that it may not be Google's fault that people don't know about your sites. In fact, people may very well know about the sites and totally despise them. I run MacOS and generally use the Opera web browser. Your sites do not work for me. Occasionally I can open up Safari and watch a show but the performance is less than desireable. The rarity of my visits to your sites are not the result of me not knowing about them but that they just frustrate me more than what I get out of them. Also keep in mind that Google is NOT the internet. Google has shown a good effort in controlling copyrighted material and, in fact, may be doing the best job of any company I've seen so far. Their methods aren't perfect and I can understand your desire to have them strive for perfect but please keep in mind what happened when the music industry shut down Napster -- it pushed everyone somewhere else to get what they wanted and now instead of it being one place that needs to be policed you've got numerous sites devoted to doing exactly what Napster was doing. The closing of Napster encouraged pirates to be more innovative. This is the internet that you are dealing with and no matter how hard you fight there will be people that will continue to break the law. It's a sad truth but its still the truth. Instead of pushing these people more underground why not look for a compromise?

Ultimately it is your copyrights and you are entitled to control those -- that is your right. I would just encourage you not to alienate your viewers by forcing them to play by your rules and watch things the way you want them to be watched because you'll ultimately end up pushing many viewers away and many of us already have a very sour taste in our mouths from the RIAA.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Obama's Last Chance?

I'm not usually a fan of political pundits but there are some good points in this video. Maybe Obama still has a shot to win me back....

FCC set to punish Comcast

This is perhaps one of the greatest pieces of news that I have heard in a while and may very well be one of the first times that the FCC administration has announced something that is worthy of support. The FCC (especially in this recent administration) has almost always ruled against the interest of the consumer but less than 12 hours ago the FCC Chief announced that he believes Comcast DID violate internet rules and should subsequently be punished. Perhaps the greater excitement of this ruling would be that the FCC may be taking steps to defend Net Neutrality. It is important to note that this proposition has not been voted on but it is expected to pass and be put in to effect.

Read more:

Monday, July 07, 2008

"He's My Son"

I think this song is a prayer for at least one person in everyone's life. It doesn't have to be your son or even a relative and the pain and the trouble that person is experiencing can be anything. This song really touched my heart and brought me to tears as I thought about that person in my life that I would take all of the pain away from if I could.

I'm down on my knees again tonight
I'm hoping this prayer will turn out right
See there is a boy that needs Your help
I've done all that I can do myself
His mother is tired
I'm sure You can understand
Each night as he sleeps
She goes in to hold his hand
And she tries not to cry
As the tears fill her eyes

Can You hear me?
Am I getting through tonight?
Can You see him?
Can You make him feel all right?
If You can hear me
Let me take his place somehow
See, he's not just anyone
He's my son

Sometimes late at night I watch him sleep
I dream of the boy he'd like to be
I try to be strong and see him through
But God who he needs right now is You
Let him grow old
Live life without this fear
What would I be
Living without him here
He's so tired and he's scared
Let him know that You're there


Can You hear me?
Can You see him?
Please don't leave him
He's my son

"He's My Son" by Mark Schultz