"But you see, to go out of your mind, at least once a day, is tremendously important, because you come to your senses." ~ Alan Watts
Three Decade Run - a blog
My bloodline traces many directions. Scotland, Russia, Gypsies, and Jews. And that last one ties me, very distantly but by a thin thread none the less.
I have been taught the history of violence, oppression, and chasing that comes with that heritage. I am a citizen of the United States as a result of those actions against Jews. So as a white male in America on the eve of Donald Trump's election to the office of the President, I say I stand with you and watchful, to everyone in fear.
No matter your color, your creed, your orientation, your gender, your age, I stand with you.
We will not go quietly into the night, we will not let them take, or oppress, we will not let aggression go unchecked or unnoticed.
I have given myself an hour to write this.
Less than 0.00017% of the time you, my father, have been alive.
Who was 50% of of the equation that started 100% of my existence.
Today, on your birthday, as I near the age when you and mom were preparing for me, I have to reflect on what I've accomplished with the life you gave me, the moral and operating code you both taught me, and the foundation from which I launched into adulthood.
It's impossible to remember every lesson, every argument, every conversation, every gift, every action taken to support me, and even harder to fully grasp the motivations behind each decision. It's just as difficult to choose a gift for a parent, who has a head-start on acquiring what they want, whose more complex, whose been around longer, whose tastes come from a different age that I weren't alive for. But I think, at this halfway point, at the dusk of my youth, the end of the era when I can be called a "young man," I think I have an idea.
I will try my best to describe all that I believe you tried to teach me, and also what I believe to be my accomplishments. Mom gets plenty of credit, but my accomplishments are both of yours, and my character has some traits that I got from you alone. So, with a tall cup of green tea in arms reach of the keyboard, here goes...
In no particular order, what I learned or mimicked from my father
Leave emotion out of business
Always do the right thing
Whenever and wherever you can help, do
Volunteering is important
With true friends, you can build anything
Pay what you owe on time, every time
Only spend money on things that last
Apple computers are more than the sum of their parts (age 6 I believe was when this came to me)
Item 8 is applicable to everything
Take care of the people who work with and for you first
Knowledge is available, don't just expect people around you to have all the answers
Business requires trust first
Family can let you down, but don't give up on them
Never forget where you come from
Our nation was paid for in blood
Government is a wonderful human invention, in the right hands
Voting, taxes, and citizenship are a small price to pay for the freedom and privilege of living in the United States of America
History is as important as math
Take time to travel
Mom is the most important person in the world, even though we're bad at showing it
Never sign something you haven't read
If it isn't in writing, it isn't an agreement
Stand up for those who can't
Protect those who have less power than you
Speak out against corruption
Point out bullshit
Never ignore or allow prejudice
In no particular order, things I've done in life so far
Learn to read, write, and do math
Finished elementary school
Directed the lighting for a middle school play
Finished middle school
Helped film high school drama class "Whose Line Is It?" night
Got accepted into college at 16
Finished my AA and high school diploma at 18
Got into a University
Taught as a volunteer at an elementary school
Helped lead a Habitat for Humanity project in Georgia for Spring Break
Got a paid internship
Got accepted to assist and work with graduate research students as an undergraduate
Convinced company I was interning at to give me the same responsibilities as employees
Finished my bachelors degree in Computer Engineering while minoring in Cognitive Science, with honors
Got into graduate school
Finished my Masters in Computer Engineering
Got a job offer from San Diego to work in the civil service
Revamped an existing internal application to save shipping and receiving department ~$400 a day
Demanded that others in the hiring program I was brought on through be handled better and given more agency in our careers
Founded monthly meetings for everyone in that program, as well as setting up a Wiki so that everyone after me can keep a history and share information freely
Joined local debate and discussion group and was asked to join the leadership team to keep the group going
Setup a big data architecture in a local cloud and on AWS that is still being used today
Began IT consulting for law firms in dire need of cleaning up and getting their systems to work for more than a week at a time
Began helping organize dance events around San Diego and some in Los Angeles
Traveled through 7 countries in 6 months to cleanup a Windows based mess across government owned systems, ensuring that everywhere I went, I left it better than I found it and the local tech support was capable to finish the job without our help
Started a non-profit, twice a year weekend festival that encourages cross training in body movement and getting more people dancing and/or practicing martial arts
Hosted two 30 attendee debate nights around the California propositions in 2014 and 2015
Received an award at work for playing a crucial part in the international Windows cleanup effort
Lost 40 pounds of body fat over 3 months after realizing I had let stress and work affect my health
I seem to only recall 28 things for each list, and maybe that's how early life is. I'm not ready to invest, or at least not seeing interest on non-monetary investments. Every solid lesson in my youth generates at least one accomplishment. And now, as my 30th birthday looms just beyond yours, it seems the cards in my hand are ready to be played to unlock my potential, so that I can start tipping the ratio of accomplishments to life lessons above 1 to 1.
Thank you Father
And happy birthday