Yes Kiddies, there was communication before the INTERNET!

June 13, 2018

Ok, my apologies to all those readers who are old enough to remember life before the INTERNET. How did we ever do it? When I’m out and about and see people sitting next to one another and texting, streaming and listening to music non-stop I wonder if everyone has forgotten how to carry on a conversation. So have we progressed in our abilities to communicate with all this communications? There are so many viewpoints to tackle; I’ll just take one today.

InternetI not only remember the days before the Internet, but I was actively involved in the messaging industry that attempted to address the issues of connecting disparate companies around the globe. There was a huge technical problem at the time. Every telecom company operated with their own data format necessitating a data format conversion if any one company could send messages to any other company; thus much of message was intra-company. So there were lots of people using a single provider such as AOL, MCI, etc. and anyone within that company could send messages to each other. Wow, but sending a message to someone not using that carrier was tricky and once accomplished, expensive. There was a service fee to connect. If you had friends among several different carriers, you had to pay this fee for each different one. It would be like paying tolls for using all the different toll roads to reach the homes of friends living in different locales in the metropolitan DC area. This is the best example I can provide to understand how it was back then.

At the time, I was working for the US Government, in the branch called the General Services Administration or GSA for short. I participated in meetings with “standards bodies” both for US standards as well as travelling to Europe for the standards being developed there as well. The goal of both these regional bodies was to foster compliance to a common data format so that all this conversion would be a thing of the past. There was beginning to be some success of standards taking hold when I came into the picture around 1995 timeframe. It was then that I had the idea of asking industry to cooperate even further for a test. Why not move faster towards standards?

At one such standards meeting at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), I raised my hand and asked the question “why are companies still using the 1984 standard when there is a 1988 standard?” (since it was already almost 1996!). And the leader of the meeting replied, “Great question, so you can lead the working group to find out!” Although I protested indicating that I was a mere government worker and not a recognized leader of any industry group, I was non-the-less appointed to chairperson of a committee to investigate industry cooperation. I took my new position seriously and without going into all the details, the result was a Challenge to industry which took hold slowly but gathered cooperation as predicted. I had a vision of how I felt it should work, that included the messaging part, a directory to store the names/address data fields and eventually a security component to protect the sender/receiver relationship.

The effort was picked up by the Electronic Messaging Association first in the US and then the European version of this same organization with what I would call great success having 14 countries and over 100 people involved. I have some great stories of both challenges and comradery that occurred over the 18 months that we all worked together to conduct testing with a standards-based data format which different companies would send back and forth. By the time that we were into testing, I moved from my government position to a telecom company – British Telecom that had a local office very close to me. It was lovely that their North American office was only 3 miles away, but I also spent a fair amount of time at their office just outside of London.

The point of this story is that real cooperation was required and real communication. We had many emails, conference calls and meetings all over the US and at different places in Europe. As the leader of the group, I did my best to foster teamwork, give recognition and appreciation and to plan group activities such as special dinners at wonderful local restaurants (with everyone paying their own way, but organizing was more than half the battle when one wants to eat in a lovely place in the outskirts of Brussels).

In the end, we were successful at moving international standards forward, but the Internet made it all a moot point. Like the wind, the Internet came blowing in with little security and me worrying how it would all play out. I was not an initial supporter nor an early adopter, but now I text, stream and play music off my phone like everyone else. I enjoy all the benefits that the Internet has, but I also have had my fair share of the issues that not having good security built in has brought to us all. But for this article, the emphasis is on cooperation and communication.

So when I see families sitting at the dinner table and are all texting and not talking, I smile at myself and mumble – yes, it’s nice that we’re all so interconnected now. But let’s do remember to talk to one another, take our friendships and relationships seriously and cherish the real times that we have together. Even while working to connect our world, my rag tag group of volunteers from the telecom industry would probably tell you that their days on our working group, as hard as they worked, was one of the best in their life. Why? Because of the comradery, the cooperation and the communication!

 


Neck Pain or Pain in the Neck?

June 6, 2018

painneckEver wake up with a stiff neck and wonder if you slept wrong or moved wrong in your yoga class… or perhaps doing sit ups at the gym? But did you ever relate that neck problem to a person who’s troubling you and have been thinking “what a pain in the neck?” What we think we create! As Edgar Cayce notes, first comes thoughts, then comes action; thus, what we think becomes what we concentrate on creating new possibilities that lead to other actions. Our world is a template of what is first conceived in our minds.

It’s not that our pains aren’t real. For sure, they are. Our physical world is composed of real stuff including real problems, real emotions and real physical issues. But where does it all start? As souls in a body, we are first spiritual beings with a soul plan and karma to be dealt with. Everything we do leads us closer to completing our karma both on the positive as well as on the negative side. Sometimes that negative stuff requires us to learn lessons that we are stubborn about learning. The universe is patient giving us many chances and creating many opportunities for us to go about learning these lessons. If one way doesn’t work, another way is tried. Have you ever felt as if you’re just in the same soup warmed over and over with different people playing out in a different place?

This has certainly happened to me whether at work, at my gym, at my aerobics class and even in my dance venues. People pop up and things happen, words are said, exchanges are made and I feel like – “wow, again the same thing. Why does this feel so familiar?” the answer is simple, because it has happened before, perhaps many times before. And you may have learned the lesson in one form but need to learn it again in another form. That person that is a pain in the neck may be teaching you a lesson but since you’re not learning the lesson, yet another person that is an equally difficult person – another pain in the neck comes along. And then you wake up one morning to find that you have transferred the emotionally pain in the neck to the physical pain in the neck. As Louise Hays points out in her classic book “You can Heal Your Life”, a pain in the neck points to “inflexibility, or failing to see an issue from multiple sides”; or “being stubborn”.

So the next time you feel someone is being a proverbial “pain in the neck” look at yourself in the mirror and ask, “am I being stubborn or inflexible?” and then wait for the answer. Your comments are welcome. Always in light, Rev. Joanne.

 

 

 


Stand by your beliefs and you will be supported

May 1, 2018

Recently I watched a TV evangelist talk at great length about how God promises us that we can be ten times better if we just “believe”. He then went on to give examples of how this can come to be; one of these stories was of Daniel, a well-known central figure in the Bible.

According to Good News Translation/The American Bible Society, the following passage tells the shortened version of the story of a young man who along with others of his day stood by their beliefs and came out not only momentarily victorious, but generally many times stronger.

The Young Men at Nebuchadnezzar’s Court
1 In the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia attacked Jerusalem and surrounded the city. 2 The Lord let him capture King Jehoiakim and seize some of the Temple treasures. He took some prisoners back with him to the temple of his gods in Babylon, and put the captured treasures in the temple storerooms.

 

3 The king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief official, to select from among the Israelite exiles some young men of the royal family and of the noble families. 4 They had to be handsome, intelligent, well-trained, quick to learn, and free from physical defects, so that they would be qualified to serve in the royal court. Ashpenaz was to teach them to read and write the Babylonian language. 5 The king also gave orders that every day they were to be given the same food and wine as the members of the royal court. After three years of this training they were to appear before the king. 6 Among those chosen were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, all of whom were from the tribe of Judah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

8 Daniel made up his mind not to let himself become ritually unclean by eating the food and drinking the wine of the royal court, so he asked Ashpenaz to help him, 9 and God made Ashpenaz sympathetic to Daniel. 10 Ashpenaz, however, was afraid of the king, so he said to Daniel, “The king has decided what you are to eat and drink, and if you don’t look as fit as the other young men, he may kill me.”

11 So Daniel went to the guard whom Ashpenaz had placed in charge of him and his three friends. 12 “Test us for ten days,” he said. “Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare us with the young men who are eating the food of the royal court, and base your decision on how we look.”

14 He agreed to let them try it for ten days. 15 When the time was up, they looked healthier and stronger than all those who had been eating the royal food. 16 So from then on the guard let them continue to eat vegetables instead of what the king provided.

17 God gave the four young men knowledge and skill in literature and philosophy. In addition, he gave Daniel skill in interpreting visions and dreams.

18 At the end of the three years set by the king, Ashpenaz took all the young men to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them all, and Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah impressed him more than any of the others. So they became members of the king’s court. 20 No matter what question the king asked or what problem he raised, these four knew ten times more than any fortuneteller or magician in his whole kingdom. 21 Daniel remained at the royal court until Cyrus, the emperor of Persia, conquered Babylonia.

Daniel

The point of the story is that Daniel and his comrades chose what they believed to be the correct behavior regardless of what others thought. In this case, the heavier food would indeed slow them down while a lighter diet kept their heads clearer and facilitated higher performance. In the end, Daniel rose up through the ranks as he aged and eventually became the leader of the city, while his comrades were also appropriately rewarded for their service.

What does all this mean for you or me? Well, it means that even under duress, if we take the higher ground, we will be supported by the positive forces in nature. Recently, I had 3 nasty things happen to me during a very short period of time. In just one week, a pipe burst flooding the lower level of my home; while the house was being repaired I was very sick with the flu; then at the end of the week when I finally went out my car was hit on the highway during a flash rain storm by an exploding semi-truck tire. It was almost as if it all was meant to happen to show me that I could live through lots of duress. Although each of these things were quite distressing, I kept my perspective and believed that it was all part of the divine plan. In fact, I believed that there was some lesson I was meant to learn. Perhaps that God had saved me – each time. I could have been away when the pipe burst; I could have gotten ill during a vacation rather than a week when I had to be home anyway; and the exploding tire hitting the car could have killed me. So I had lots to be grateful for. I continued to believe and stay positive.

The next month I left for a 2-week vacation and everything went very well… or at least the challenges I experienced were all kept under control. I had a wonderful time. I went on the trip believing that I had had my “three” bad things happen to me so that nothing else would happen this year! It was certainly one way to look at it! I believed and I was supported. We always have the choice to make daily how we will believe, and whether we will take the higher road when under duress.  

 


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