Monday, December 14, 2009

Change changes . . .

With my work dust settling, I am once again looking for ways to improve web design and development. I have been asked to participate in a project to bring another website up-to-date. As I have not finished making this one clean and fully functional, I question my readiness to take on another's.

Wary or not, helping others is key to success in this life. Working on another site only expands the options available for my own site just like helping others expands the options available to me. We are more driven when external, codified needs are presented than the drifting of the obscure requirements placed upon ourselves by our own needs. Moreover, helping others enriches ourselves, those we help, and the world at large. To us, we gain satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. To those around us, we give them solutions and help for their needs. And the world around us is bestowed with added kindness.

We must not stray from ever finding and fulfilling the needs of others. Time can disguise its behavior and slip by unnoticed. Like sand in an hourglass, time appears to shift slowly in the top vassal, implying the vast expanse of time available; while below, the pounding sand falls rapidly and constantly.

Truly random thoughts today.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Some things don't change

Many years ago, decades that is, I began to question some of the extraneous teachings of christianity. It seemed to me that the different denominations did not agree on all the more superfluous items. My questioning was even more firmly cemented when I took "religions of the world" and "comparative religion" classes. My belief in God never wavered, even at my most scientific moments. God is. Nothing I have seen, felt, thought or experienced can dissuade me from such a fundamental statement. That said, I could easily agree with the message of Jesus when he taught us to love God with all our heart and with all our soul. I even felt in sync with his second golden rule to love one another. I don't know if Jesus ever said that in such a clear and succinct manner ascribed to him in the bible. It doesn't matter to me. Those thoughts ring true with me and I recognize them as fundamental truths. It the rest of the stuff I find everyone making up as they go along. For instance, some believe "salvation" is through faith alone. Others believe it is based on good works. The role of saints and angels seem to have a mixed reaction as well. Even the role of women in the clergy is as varied as icons and sacraments. About five years ago, I ran across a website that charted out how a number of christian denominations views many of these ideas. I took the time to review all of them and make a spreadsheet of it. To that, I added a column for myself and filled it in. Not too amazingly, I did not match up with any of the listed denominations. I ran across the spreadsheet about a year ago. At that time, I added a second column. Without looking at my original column, I responded to the items in the chart. While my words changed, the underlying message was unchanged. I found my belief to have solidified. I was grateful. My constant questioning of my faith lead me to believe that I may not have had a solid foundation. Seeing the commonality of responses over the course of years, pointed out to me that I did have a stable platform. I found the file again today and repeated the exercise. My responses were even more clear and consistent. I can finally state with clarity that I have, despite my constant questioning and searching, a solid religious belief. I definitely do not fall within any of the traditional denominations, and I am fine with that. What, then, did I write down? What is the dogma of my faith? Stay tuned to this spot, and I will expound on it further. In the meantime, I suggest reading the Epistles Of Doug.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Resorting to inefficiency

Sigh. I have been playing with Google Webmaster tools to improve my site's visibility. Since I did not want to use server side includes on my web server, I had to make my pages/coding less efficient in order to improve my google ranking.

I had originally created a javascript to manage my web site's menu. Using javascript, I could edit all my pages' menu by simply editing one document. Unfortunately, google does not read javascript. Consequently, google did not see any links on my pages.

sigh . . .

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fear of Failure

I tried to make sourdough bread today from a starter I have been nursing for the last couple days. Yeast bread has been tackled and overcome. Bread from a starter... not yet.

Lessons learned:
  1. Needs more flour. The dough needed a bit more flour to tighten it up a bit more. Its a feel thing, and this attempt was not dry/firm enough.
  2. Needs more warmth. In an effort to save on the heating bill, I neglected to provide the yeast with sufficient warmth to get a good rise from it. Saved money from making one's own bread is lost in the heating bill.
  3. Failures are not insurmountable. Nor are successes. There is no need to blame anyone or anything for the bread not turning out as I had hoped.
Herein lies the item worthy of ponder. The bread did not turn out as I had hoped. What am I to do when faced with "failure"? Do I question God as to why he did not answer my needs (give us this day, our daily bread)? Is not getting what I want/need sufficient cause to reject God?

You may ask, why bring God into this? It was bread making and I should take responsibility for my overly wet, under risen dough. Yet, how often have I heard others ask me why God did this or God did that, when the situation is equally mundane. Why did God allow innocent victims to be hurt or why did God have to let my (fill in the blank) die?

God didn't let these things happen any more than God let me make a loaf of bread that didn't meet my expectations. Perhaps, God did let it happen without divine intervention. What's so bad/wrong about that? God is not our step-and-fetch servant. The last time I saw a painting of God, he wasn't wearing a short black french maid's outfit with a lacy white apron.

I suppose paintings can be somewhat deceptive. Nonetheless, I could see my work today as a smashing success, if only I change my point of view as to what I wanted for an outcome. If I wanted to get a workout kneading dough, while having a good time, then what comes out of the oven is not the determination of success/failure, but rather the experience of making bread.

I made sourdough bread today.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What do I ask for when I pray?

I was asked this question and was dumbfounded. I don't ask for anything when I pray. "Pray for her in her time of need" is another question along the same lines as the first.

It makes me ask: What is the purpose of prayer? Is prayer for the purpose of acquiring something for nothing? Have we indulged our "I want" attitude so much that prayer has become something of a wish list? It's no wonder people get so disheartened when "God does not answer my prayer". Have you found yourself berating God for his inattention?

Perhaps the problem is in the perspective. Fundamentally, we see God as a providing father who listens to everything we ask. We know this to be true because one time, we got what we prayed for. We accept that God has a bigger picture of the situation when God takes his time answering our prayer request.

If we change our perspective and see God as our creator and the creator of all things around us, then our understanding of prayer changes. Our responsibility is to glorify God and gratefully praise him for his creation. The success of our wants is based on probability, not divine intervention.

What, then, is the purpose of prayer? How should we pray? The lord's prayer starts out with "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." The underlying message to this statement is: "Oh great God, I praise you and look up to you." Such a statement is one of a grateful creature to their creator. Is that a valid perspective we are asked to embraced?

If our responsibility to our God is to realize God is supreme and our creator, then it follows that our perspective should be one of a grateful person. I find myself so grateful for what is already around me, I would be recalcitrant to belittle the almighty by asking for more or different.

I recall, growing up listening to a hymn. It encapsulates this thought:

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies;
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies;
Lord of all to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.


originally published: 27 FEB 2009

Making things work

I have been challenging myself to create websites without relying on programming code other than HTML, CSS (neither of which I consider "real" programming), or JavaScript. I have done away with all the ASP, PHP and other coding languages from the Church Of Doug website.

In so doing, I have been experimenting with clean, separated code, that is easy to understand. I have learned a few things:
  1. CSS does NOT, and I repeat does NOT, eliminate or otherwise clean up the content HTML document. Instead, it simply replaces tags like font, table, UL, and such with DIV and SPAN. This does not make the HTML easier to read. Instead it obscures organization and leaves the content equally cluttered with tags that all look the same.
  2. There is no easy way to live within the HTML, CSS, JavaScript world exclusively and still have a common menu on every page. SSI is not always an option in the real world, so I have been trying to avoid it.
  3. Google's bot does not like JavaScript. I have had to resort to a sitemap.xml file just to make sure Google sees the entire site. So much for simplifying.
It is a good learning experience. The Church Of Doug is a faster, prettier site than before. CSS does force a bit more consistency than I once had. It is both a blessing and a curse.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

In the beginning . . .

. . . was the word. The word was without shape. Along came language and the word was spoken.

Some people would not shut up.

Some learned to twist the word to emphasize their hidden motives.

Finally, there was writing and words became fixed.