Friday, February 12, 2016

40 Days of Reflection During Lent: Day 3


Today's reading deals with what will become a theme throughout the New Testament.  My summary: OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW.

Jesus preached quite often of not clinging to the Old Testament, but rather they should listen to his teachings and parables today as the new word, come to fulfill the old word.  The reading of the day comes from Matthew 9:14-15
Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast"

Can you imagine the difficult time in which Jesus was preaching and the utter turmoil the people were dealing with.  Occupation by the Roman forces, corruption and hypocrisy by the Pharisees and priests of the period. What an opportunity to strike out and say, 'that was the old ways and I have come with new ways'.  New ways of thinking, new ways of believing and new interpretations of the old law.

It took quite a bit of courage and fortitude to strike out and let his followers know that there will be time to fast, when I am gone and to follow the ways - but NOW, I want you to be with me and to be present with me while we break open the word.

The 'disciples' of John and the Pharisees followed the old ways and with it, appeared sullen and mournful during their fasting.  Jesus is the living word of GOD and as such was the embodiment of love and joy and his declaration, although a foreboding of the future events, declared that when he was gone - there would be plenty of time to mourn.

This also hearkens back to the prior reading (see Day 1, Matthew 6:16), as Jesus said:
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.

Again, as stated before, feel free to follow the old ways, but don't wear it on your sleeve like it is a garment.  Don't display your fasting or your rituals - keep them internal and private between you and GOD - GOD sees all, knows all.

So the message is clear - Jesus brought something new and entirely different to the table of man.  Our ways of thinking about our religion and our acts towards our fellow men, were about to be altered for the better.  This almost sounds like an infomercial where Jesus was bringing about 'NEW' and 'FRESH' way of interacting with GOD.  But the truth is, it was much different than the people of that period were used to experiencing.

So, feel free to follow the Old Testament, but prepare to LIVE in the NEW TESTAMENT.  Listen to the words of Christ and open your ears and your hearts to his messages.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

40 Days of Reflection During Lent: Day 2

Today's Gospel calls us to do something that we would find very limiting given our propensity to be instantly gratified.  It is a very simple mandate by Jesus, but one in which even the most worthy will find much difficulty. 

Taken from Luke 9:22-25:
Jesus said to his disciples:

"The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised."

Then he said to all,

"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?"

Wow.  Who can do that?  I know that I have tried, but have fallen far short of where I wish I could be.  There are so many things calling upon me daily that I find it virtually impossible to follow through. Even today, I find that my schedule from work and the kids racing around to different events and their commitments, pull me further away from GOD and ultimately, my salvation. 

I could sit here and blame my life or my circumstances, but the fact remains that I created the circumstances in my life that lead me away from GOD.  It is I who willingly walk parallel to my GOD and not in step with his eternal plan.

The scripture above is truly a prophetic statement by Jesus: I will suffer, die and will rise again.  I think I have heard that somewhere - it is what the Catholics call, the Nicene Creed:

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffereddied,and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;

What a beautiful statement - Most people ramble past it in church - but those two lines sum up the beauty of our religion in a nutshell - Christ Died, Christ Rose Again - all those who follow him and his teachings shall have the opportunity and promise of everlasting life in his kingdom. 

The second part of the Gospel teaches us that we only have to give up what has shaped us to the present day and take up the cross of stewardship... better yet, the cross of discipleship and follow Jesus.  It is not an easy task.  I have carry with me a lot of baggage and items that I have acquired mentally, physically and emotionally over the past 37 years.  Maybe what I need to give up is not something physical - but mental.

Give up my pre-conceived notions of humanity.  Give up my prejudices that cloud my ability to follow Jesus properly.  Leave the trappings of learned habits and behavior and take up the cross presented to me.   Easier said than done, right? 

This isn't a WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? statement - "What Would Jesus Do" started out to be a good idea, but ultimately becomes a corrupt notion of goodness.  We are projecting ourselves as Jesus on a situation to see what he would do, but when you start with a cracked/flawed diamond (us), it is still cracked and flawed.  Jesus, for all purposes, was flawless and without cracks.  How can we project his behavior upon any given situation and come out with the right answer?

The answer for me, is to release my pre-conceived notions and trappings of people, societies and histories and work within the framework of GOD and the teachings of the bible, mainly the New Testament. I am not a Judge or Jury and it is not my place to condemn nor ridicule.  It is simply my place to LOVE and to share the message of LOVE for one another.  

In the end, if we do not give up ourselves and take up the cross, we will be no better than the chief priests, ridiculing and prosecuting our Christ and condemning ourselves to an eternal death...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

40 Days of Reflection During Lent: Day 1 - Ash Wednesday



"What are you giving up for LENT?"

"I don't know... what are you giving up?"

"I gave up chocolate last year - don't think I want to do that again!"

The question rings out every year to millions of Catholics. Why do we 'choose' to give something up or do something for a self-penance?

I started this in 2010 and got part way through my journey of reflecting on Lent and taking time for myself, for my Lord and for my family.  I am rekindling this idea and have decided to start this process again - below is more of what I wrote in 2010 and with a bit of extra added wisdom over the past six years.  But not only will I be attempting to stoke the fire of my passion for the Lord,I will also be focusing on my physical health - eating better and exercising.  My goal is to get back to 200-205 lbs at the end of this journey - that is a scant 10-12 lb loss over the course of these 40 days.



I have decided to focus on the 40 days of LENT and talking about the readings of the day and how that matters in my life and how I can better live my life through the word of GOD. Not just abstaining from something... but leading a transformation in my soul to be a better father, a better husband and a better person.

DAY 1 - Ash Wednesday
There are two readings that strike out at me today and I will take them out of order. First, I start with the GOSPEL: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

1 "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

16 "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

What a powerful passage direct from the mouth of Jesus, himself. But how we fall short of following through on his words. I have witnessed many people who profess their Christianity and yet have nothing of Christianity in them. They do not LOVE each other. Infighting and backstabbing or their hallmarks and anger rules their emotions. The passage above invites us to respect our fellow persons, but in a way that is more solemn and quiet. Nobody needs to know you gave $10 or $100 dollars to a charity or a homeless person. GOD KNOWS ALL - GOD SEES ALL. I love closing my door at my office and opening my "Living Faith' booklet and taking a minute to break the word of GOD open. I don't do it as often as I should.

The second reading of the day, Corinthians 5:20:

20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

What is super important about this passage and the part that I want to drive home, and the ultimate reason for these blog entries moving forward, is that we all need to be Christ's Ambassadors. How beautiful is that? We are not only called to be righteous in Jesus's name to all, but we are called to do it in a way in which our actions speak and not our words. As we practice what Jesus preached about giving to the poor, or praying to GOD or performing acts in his name, we will become better Christians, more fully in the presence of GOD than we can imagine.

My task is to become a better ambassador for GOD and in so doing, become a better Christian for myself. I hope that my thoughts, my opinions, my analysis of the scripture will offer a clearer insight into the Lenten season and will ultimately provide, not a penance, but a rekindling or rebirth of the spirit to be fully realized during Holy Week.

God Bless,
Bill

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Caution: objects on the Internet are closer (and more wrong) than they appear

I love being a father.  At the ripe age of 43, I find myself married and father to three of the greatest kids in the world; most of the time.  My oldest is just under 16 and rules the roost as he is learning to drive and stretching his wings before he starts to take flight.  My middle is as complex and full of joy and love that any new teenager can be and she brightens my day.  My youngest, however, is adorable and every inch that his father is.  Unfortunately that last bit is both good and bad.  I am have an obnoxious streak in me and tend to live with a bit of a selfish side.  I love to tinker and think through problems while asserting my mental dominance. 

So, what is the meaning of this post?  Well, it serves two purposes.  It shows that our youth today are very keyed into the Internet and unfortunately believe what they have read as gospel truth.  My youngest loves YouTube and enjoys watching videos on how people build things or make things.  Paper airplanes are his thing now.   A few weeks ago, it would have been paper guns.  I cannot tell you how many reams of paper we have blown through at the house recently.  I have actually had to put a ban on him using my paper because I couldn't print anything for work!  

A few days ago we were were having a discussion about something-or-other and he was adamant he had the answer and the truth.  I asked where he heard of such a thing?  His answer?  YouTube!   

Then I started being obnoxious and overly agreeing with him that if it was posted on YouTube, it must be true - you know, how Dad's can be obnoxious.  Anyway, with all the stuff on the Internet, whether that is Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or hearsay from friends (these are all the technologies my children employ), it is amazing how easily our youth will believe the information they read, without critically thinking about it and asking any relevant questions.  We must ask questions, or give up our ability to be free-thinkers.  Right?

The second reason I am writing this is because I recently had a situation with a friend's linux system that was restarted in the middle of an update process and unfortunately, it created in the neighborhood of 1400 conflicts with 700 duplicated packages (the yum process installed a bunch, but never got the opportunity to clear the older packages out).  Also, a new kernel was installed, but it never created the initramfs image for the boot process (kernel panic on reboot).  

So in researching how I could correct this, I found a bunch of articles list how to find duplicates on the system and remove them, the most common being:

package-cleanup --dupes
 which will find the duplicates on the system.  Now comes the crux of this part:  some sites and forums say to run:
package-cleanup --cleandupes
which is like throwing a sledgehammer at a tack.  HORRIBLE.   It will remove all the duplicates.  I didn't find any way that it would discern which packages to remove.  Unfortunately, performing this would most likely have left me with a system that is unusable and unstable.  

Then I thought, I would pipe the package-cleanup --dupes command to a text file - grab the text file from SCP and within a separate console/terminal to the linux system, would run:
yum remove <package name>
Now this isn't a bad approach, but even the YUM REMOVE has no functionality that helps protect against stupidity, like removing a key file that you will need for the rest of your system (I removed openldap duplicate file and I chose the wrong version which uninstalled a bunch of dependencies also and hosed the system - had to reinstall openldap by hand and add back in my removed dependencies).

Now I am running:
package-cleanup --dupes
command with the following:
rpm -e <packagename>
which gives me the opportunity to see what I am directly affecting.

The point is - you cannot believe what you read on the Internet and don't take it at face value.  You have to dig a bit deeper to understand what is at the root of the problem you are tackling.

Of course, all of this is just IMHO!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Find My Mac - needs to be better than it is

So, I work in I.T. and we constantly are dealing with stolen systems.  I started thinking to myself, why is FIND MY MAC (part of iCloud - Find My iPhone) not a good solution?

It turns out that the security built into the FIND MY IPHONE feature of iCloud that extends to hardware systems isn't as good because it can be circumvented.  Why can't the Macintosh platform contain the same security that our iPhones have.

According to a report by the New York City Police Department on the Thefts and Grand Larcenies involving Apple Devices (since the Activation Lock came into production), thefts have dropped by 19% and GL by 29%.  That is great.  It is working as reported and that report was from October 2014 (http://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenhuet/2014/09/18/iphone-6-default-kill-switc/).

In fact, CNET (http://www.cnet.com/uk/news/smartphone-thefts-drop-thanks-to-kill-feature/) more recently reported the following:

"The volume of stolen iPhones dropped by 25 percent in New York, by 40 percent in San Francisco and by 50 percent in London over the 12 months after Apple added an Activation Lock to its smartphones"   

So we see it is working great for the iOS platform.  Why isn't it on the Macintosh platform?  It has a FIND MY feature in the iCloud control panel.  But this can be easily bypassed by wiping the system.  

If we can track iPhones, iPads and iPods (Touches), then I say it is time to allow us the option of tracking our Mac's the same way.  While it won't stop a Mac from being wiped or used, it would never FORGET who it is bound too.  Why can't we simply keep that serial number to iCloud association going.

For instance - I have a Mac laptop, it gets stolen.  It was registered to me and bound to my iCloud account.  That system serial number is bound to me.  Now let's further state that this system gets wiped and re-installed with the latest OS.  What is one thing that every Mac does?  It checks for system updates periodically.  Why, at that point, can the check in process for system updates, not include a reference checkpoint to location for the iCloud account.  Furthermore, when someone adds an iCloud account to that Mac, why can't iCloud simply come back and say, "This Macintosh is registered to another account (b*@t*.biz)".

If this was a second hand sale, then, like an iPhone/iPad, it becomes the responsibility of the seller to remove the activation lock on the Mac and also the buyer to verify that the activation lock is clear before purchasing.

Problem solved.  Apple - I am available for hiring!