Honesty.

A friend recently posted this letter in a discussion about honesty. It was written by Amelia Earhart to, at the time, future husband George Putnam.

The honesty of Ms. Earhart’s words strike a chord within me. The world needs more of this honesty. I strive to be this honest.

Words To Think About.

From “Madam Secretary”, Season 5 Episode 1.

“…Your courage and determination have made humankind safer from the second-greatest threat it faces. What is an even greater threat than nuclear weapons? That which makes the use of them possible: hate. Specifically, the blind hatred one group or nation can have for another. That is why I am convinced that nationalism is the existential threat of our time.

“Now I want to be clear. Nationalism is not the same as patriotism. It’s a perversion of patriotism. Nationalism… promotes the idea that inclusion and diversity represent weakness, that the only way to succeed is to give blind allegiance to the supremacy of one race over all others. Nothing could be less American. Patriotism, on the other hand, is about building each other up and embracing our diversity as the source of our nation’s strength. “We the people” means all the people. America’s heroes didn’t die for race or region. They died for the ideals enshrined in our Constitution. Above all, freedom from tyranny, which requires our unwavering support of a free press; freedom of religion, all religions; the right to vote, and making sure nothing infringes on any of those rights, which belong to us all. Look where isolationism has gotten us in the past. Two world wars. Seventy million dead. Never again can we go back to those dark times when fear and hatred, like a contagion, infected the world. That, as much as ending the threat of nuclear war, is what today is about.

“And it is why we must never lose sight of our common humanity, our common values and our common decency. I was reminded recently of our nation’s founding motto, E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. Thirteen disparate colonies became one country. One people. And today, we call on all Americans and people everywhere to reject the scourge of nationalism. Because governments can’t legislate tolerance or eradicate hate. That’s why each one of us has to find the beauty in our differences instead of the fear. Listen instead of reacting. Reach out instead of recoiling. It’s up to us. All of us. Thank you.”

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Marriage.

Earl and I are celebrating the 7th anniversary of our legal marriage. Of course, we’ve been together over 22 years, but the government didn’t recognize our marriage until 2011. In fact, 22 years ago today I got down on one knee on top of a mountain in the Adirondacks and proposed to Earl. He said yes. Our first wedding was in December 1996. The government didn’t come on board until seven years ago today. We were legally married at a casino. We figured getting married is a gamble.

I’ve heard of heterosexual couples going to church to learn how to be married. It’s my understanding that when a couple wants to get married in a particular church, they might have to go to that church to learn how to live in wedded bliss. I don’t know what goes on in these classes, as I’ve never really felt the need to watch instructional videos on how these things work, but the concept of needing to learn how to be married strikes me as kind of odd.

One of the beautiful things that I’ve experienced for the past 22 years is that Earl and I just naturally knew how to be a couple. Our union is unique. We do marriage our way. I don’t know that we would know this much happiness if we were instructed on how to be a couple or striving to follow some sort of cookbook that someone else wrote. Who really decides what a happy marriage looks like? It’s no one’s business other than our own as to how our marriage works, just like it’s none of my business as to how my parents’ or my grandparents’ marriages worked.

Earl and I have a couple of ground rules. We are always honest with one another, our commitment is fully invested until death do us part, and outside of death, exiting the relationship is not an option. And even at death, I’m sure the dead one will haunt the live one. It’s just the way we roll.

I’ve seen so many marriages end because of jealousy. Jealousy of looking at other people, or one more successful in their career, or another jealous of hobbies and passions that may not be shared. No one can make you jealous. Jealousy is an emotion that comes from within and 99% of the time it is fueled by insecurity. Know who you are, know why you’re in love, and be honest; that’s our secret. I’d never presume to tell you how to conduct your marriage, because as I mentioned before, it’s none of my business, but if people set aside their jealousy, I’m sure there’d be more successful marriages in the world.

Be Sensible.

Remember when milk came in a carton? It really makes sense, doesn’t it. A carton is completely biodegradable, it’s easier to ship square containers, and there’s a cleaner manufacturing process for a box.

I’m happy to see boxed water all over the city of Chicago. I hope it’s catching on in the rest of the world. We don’t need smart water, we need this water.

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Accolades.

So I don’t talk about work a lot here on this blog. I usually speak in the vaguest of terms so that nothing can be held against me in the future. But the truth of the matter is, I work for a Fortune 500 Technology company. Said company has its roots in traditional telecommunications; at one time it would have been called “the telephone company” (but it’s not THE telephone company that Ernestine worked for). I’m the Lead Developer and Staff Manager of a team of nine very capable individuals. Seven of them work for the company and two of them are off-shore contractors working on projects along with the core team through the end of the year. Our official team moniker includes “Tools and Automation”. We write web-based applications to bring a cohesiveness to very dissimilar software applications in use throughout the company. Our tools touch all parts of the company: service and support, order processing, order entry, and communicating with third party providers. It’s a very challenging position with some wonderful opportunities. Our automation and tools make an impact to literally thousands of employees in the company, which in turn improves the customer experience. Writing this makes me realize that I indeed feel like I’m making a difference. The company has endured its ups and downs over the years. Budgets are occasionally leaner at point A on the timeline versus what we can do at point Z. However, the company tries to make working a pleasant experience within the confines of budgets. We now get an extra week of vacation at three years instead of the traditional five. Tech start-up niceties have been installed in the offices; nicer cafeterias, ping pong tables, and the like. Many have an option to work from home. There’s a strong “remote employee” culture as well; I’m one of the folks who’s official office is actually at home. The company also focuses on Employee Engagement. Every quarter, a handful of employees are recognized as “MVP Employees”. With the award comes a cash bonus and an extra day of vacation. I was selected as one of the MVPs for this past quarter. It’s nice to be recognized for the work I’m doing as well as the work my team is doing. For all the extra hours that are worked, for the moments of accomplishment and the moments of frustration, it’s a nice feeling to be recognized by the leadership team. In a particularly pressing time in the realm of deadlines and expectations, it was quite nice to receive the recognition. It was the morale boost I needed. I once again feel like I can conquer the world.

Journeys.

Everyone has their own journey. One of the cool things about being human is we are each unique. No one else in the entire universe will experience a moment the same way you do. We may see the same things, but we don’t feel the same things. Only you truly know your own feelings. I was watching TED Talks while working today. Most of my TED Talk viewing selection is based around the responsible use of technology, especially when it comes to Internet Privacy. I enjoy educating myself on how much we compromise our privacy when we opt to go for the latest and greatest gadget experience. Education makes us better. I had finished a video when another was suggested. The cover snap included a tall, smiling woman who had a positive energy emanating from the screen. The title was intriguing, “I’ve lived as a man and a woman — here’s what I’ve learned”. The speaker was Paula Stone Williams. I’ve included a locally hosted link to the video at the top of this blog post. As the title suggests, Paula speaks to her experiences as a trans woman from the perspective of not transitioning until later in life. She has plenty of first-hand knowledge to compare how society behaves towards men and women, specifically white men and white women. Her candor, storytelling style, and honesty made this a fascinating video for me to enjoy. I consider myself fortunate that my soul feels mostly comfortable in this vehicle I’m using for this round of incarnation. Not everyone has that experience, and it’s important for us to educate ourselves about the journey of others, at least as far as it can be shared through storytelling. Learning about others gives us insight and perspective. In a time when many are content to live within borders and their own little silo, perhaps it’d be better if we stepped outside and learned a bit about those around us.

Mac.

I love the new “Behind The Mac” ad campaign popping up all over the place. My Twitter ads are filled with stories, the ‘L’ stations feature ads. They look classy to me. As an Apple Enthusiast I find them quite enjoyable. Using Apple products sparks creativity in me. Other experiences make me think too much of corporate work. I’m a free spirit. I need to recognize that more often.

Way Gay.

Some days you just need to relax and idle the brain. Apparently I’ve gone off the gay end. I’m having a glass of red wine and binging “Hot In Cleveland”. That’s just one step away from a Bea Arthur marathon.

Décor.

Flipping through YouTube while writing code today, a scene from “A Very Brady Sequel” came up as a suggestion. I took a peek and faster than Roy Martin could eat Alice’s spaghetti I realized the Brady’s have the very same clock Grandma City had for very many years. And then there was happiness.