View from the Inside Out...
November, 2002: "All good gifts around us!"
October, 2002: "Don't cry for me, Argentina!"
August 2002: "It's been a Hard Day's Night!"
July 2002: "Brand New Day"
May 2002: "I'm singin' in the rain!"
April 2002: "Always look on the bright side of life!"
March 2002: "Up, up and away, in my beautiful balloon!"
February 2002: "Pennies from heaven!"
January 2002: "What do the simple folk do?"
| December, 2002: "The weary world rejoices"
Have you ever noticed that when you drop a coin it never (and I mean "never") rolls towards your foot. No, it always has to roll under something, and that something is usually big and unmovable!
Sometimes I fret over the smallest problem, like the coin rolling away from me, when I know there are perfectly good "big" problems that I could be concerned about.
It's funny to see how differently each of us respond to problems. Some of us will respond with anger or become defensive. Others will feel guilty, or try to pass the blame on someone else. Some will step up and try to resolve the problem. And others will simply ignore it, hoping that it will disappear.
Whether we are discussing the pressures of life or the pressure of building a web site, how we deal with pressure and the problems that surround us can make a significant impact on ourselves, the people around us, and even those we may not even be aware of.
Take the CuteSITE Builder user forum. I know that everyone who asks a question deserves an honest answer. But often I try to read too much into a question, and get defensive. Sometimes my answers are down right off the mark. All I can do is offer my apologies if I have offended or hurt anyone by my remarks.
It may not seem that answering questions on a web site user forum has, for example, much to do with the violence in the Middle East. But I would venture to say that it does. Every good thing we choose to do, no matter how small or insignificant, can make a big difference in this world.
2,000 years ago a baby was born - an insignificant birth in so many respects. And yet, no matter your religious beliefs, the birth of that one child has changed forever how we view the world and each other. A baby that grew up to teach us to "love our enemies" and to "lay down our lives for our friends". I hope and pray that in this holiday season our world is closer to realizing the truth of those statements.
O Holy Night,
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our Savior's birth
Long lay the world
in sin and error pining
'Til He appeared
and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope,
the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
a new and glorous morn:
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels voices.
O night divine
O night when Christ as born
O night divine O night divine
O night divine.
| November, 2002: "All good gifts around us!"
This won't be a long article this month. November has approached much faster than I wanted or expected. And it is after 1am in the morning as I write this!
In the United States, November is the month that we celebrate Thanksgiving Day - a time to be truly thankful for the blessings of the country, and the world, we live in. We indeed have been blessed. But too many people do not live in peace. Too many people die needlessly every day. And too many people suffer from the most wretched of evils -- loneliness.
More than any sickness or disease that has covered the earth, loneliness must be a tragic and awful feeling. I cannot begin to fathom being in a place where I saw no one, spoke to no one, and no one would come to visit or befriend me.
I recently talked with a good friend of mine, a lawyer, who came back from a trip to the island of Grenada. On his second day there, he walked past a nursing home, and started up a conversation with a woman holding a single can of tuna fish. She told him that there were 9 people in this nursing home, and that this one can of tuna fish was all that she had to feed them. He returned a few hours later with groceries to feed them for a week.
I hope and pray that for those of you reading these words that you make it a point to say or do something nice to someone else, whether you know the person or not. In the end, it's not how much money we make, or how much success we gain -- but what did we do to make this a better world?
Speaking of doing something nice, I took my younger daughter, Jenny, to see the musical play Godspell the other week. What a delightful play! It was written back in the 1970's, and although we had seen it seven years earlier, it still carries a timeless message. Here's hoping we remember how very blessed we are!
We thank thee then, O Father,
for all things bright and good,
The seedtime and the harvest,
our life, our health, our food,
No gifts have we to offer
for all thy love imparts
But that which thou desirest,
our humble thankful hearts!
All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above..
So thank the Lord,
oh thank the Lord
for all his love..
| October, 2002: "Don't cry for me, Argentina!"
People often bring up the issue of character and ethics these days, especially when discussing political candidates. But, whether it is someone running for president or govenor, or whether you're simply trying to find an honest person to work on your automobile, I believe that character and ethics are important.
I recently had separate conversations with different people on the subject of not getting paid for work performed. One was a lawyer, another was an architect, a third was an optometrist, and a fourth, an auto mechanic. In each case, the person involved felt like they had done a good job for their customer or client, had identified the cost, and had submitted a proper invoice. However, in each case the payment received was less than the payment expected.
What was interesting to me was how each of these people responded to the situation. Although each had been legally wronged, and were within their rights to pursue repayment of the unpaid amount, they each felt that such a pursuit, in the given situation, was not in their best interest. I won't list their reasons, but the fact is that they each had goals, other than simply making a dollar, that they based not only their decision, but their career and their life around.
I left each conversation thinking, "Boy, if I ever need a lawyer [architect, optometrist, auto mechanic], this is the person I want to use." Why? Well, words like respect, loyalty, honesty, and integrity kept coming to mind.
Each of us makes decisions every day of our lives. Some important, some maybe not so important. My oldest daughter recently made a big decision - to quit her job, and take 10 weeks off to travel through Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Certainly not my idea of fun! But it was a decision she made, and something she wanted to do! She has good reasons for going, and the world is certainly getting smaller every day. She's not interested in material success. Rather she's looking for a way to make this a better world, just like the lawyer, the architect, the optometrist and the auto mechanic that I know!
And as for fortune, and as for fame,
I never invited them in,
Though it seemed to the world
they were all I desired;
They are illusions
They are not the solutions they promised to be
The answer was here all the time
I love you and hope you love me
Don't cry for me Argentina...
| September, 2002: "What a wonderful world!"
A few disjointed thoughts for this month. The other day I took my daughter out for lunch and to the bookstore, for some scheduled "father / daughter" time. She loves books, and we often read books aloud to each other.
While driving back home, we turned on the radio just in time to listen to Louis Armstrong's recording of his last major hit, "What a Wonderful World" --- I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you, And I think to myself, what a wonderful world!
I thought to myself, "Yes, I am blessed -- with a wife, two daughters, and plenty of close friends and family. And I should never forget that I am so blessed."
As the song finished playing, the news came on and they were discussing upcoming plans for celebrating the first anniversary of 9-11. During this month, I'm sure there will be a nearly endless litany of articles, editorials, TV specials, songs, and tributes recalling this tragedy.
I see skies of blue and clouds of white The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
Now, I am not a writer by trade. So I will leave it to others, more equipped than I, to express the anguish, the fear, the helplessness, and the resolve that the world saw demonstrated one year ago. Certainly no one will forget the event that may indeed affect the course of history in our lifetime.
The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people going by. I see friends shakin' hands, sayin' "How do you do?". They're really saying "I love you"...
I was also touched by a comment posted by a CSB user, Thomas, in the discussion forum recently. Here's what he wrote:
|"For some reason I must tell you guys, I love CSB. For some time now, CSB has been a major part of my life. Life is troubles (which some are easy to fix, some not), but CSB hasn´t given me any troubles yet that hasn´t been easy to solve due to "the family" of users who help each other.
Life has been asking me for money many times, that I never got something back for, I gave CSB/Globalscape money and it gives me joy every day. About upgrades, well we all change sometime in life, we just don´t know when it happen. I love you, guys and you CSB for giving me joy in life.".
All I can say is, "Wow!" Who would have thought that spending time on a discussion board, answering questions about a computer software package, would lead to someone saying "thanks for giving me joy in life!"
So, what do my my daughter, 9-11, Thomas, CuteSITE Builder, and Louis Armstrong have in common? A simple reminder that we need to make the most of each day that God has given us!
I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world,
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.
| August 2002: "It's been a Hard Day's Night!"
Have you noticed that as much things change, things stay the same?
I first started working with computers my freshmen year at Florida State University. The year was 1969. My first computer class was "Programming 101: Introduction to COBOL". Even then I would work late into the night trying to get a program to compile before the 8am class started.
In the 1970's it was writing COBOL or BASIC programs. In the 1980's it was dealing with DBASE III and 4GL program generators. In the 1990's it was connecting Novell Netware and Windows. In this decade, it's XML, ASP, SQL and the like. No matter the language, I was always finding myself working late into the night trying to get a project done, a program debugged, or instructions written. But I love it!
I don't believe I'm the only one, either. Even my daughter, who graduated from college with a degree in English, is doing computer work,and is more like me every day. The other day she came over to discuss her upcoming travel plans. She had been on the Internet printing out page after page on the places she would be going. Well, I had been on the Internet doing the same thing!
Perhaps this is my lot in life. If so, I sure hope when I get to heaven they have some laptops that need repaired. By the way, I'm sure you all have seen the bumper sticker that reads "God is my pilot". Well, for us computer junkies, it's been turned into: "God is my Palm Pilot!"
Whatever skills you have; whatever dreams or desires you treasure; whatever promises you've made --- we all have to work with the same 24 hours in the day. So make it a better day for yourself, your children, your loved ones, and for the world around you.
| July 2002: "Brand New Day"
Learning something new can really get our creative juices flowing. And sometimes all we need is the right impetus or push. For example, last year my wife and I attended a Sting concert here in Tampa. Our older daughter had introduced his music to us. She told us that if we liked James Taylor, we would love Sting.
Well, for two hours I watched him sing and perform, mostly playing an electric bass. I have to admit something: I have always wanted to play electric bass. So I left that concert thinking, "If he can do it, I can do it!". So I borrowed a bass guitar and started playing and practicing.
I have played acoustic guitar since I was a teenager, mostly in church or in a Christian worship setting. And that guitar is second nature to me. But learning to play the electric bass ... well, that was hard work!
A few weeks later I brought it along with me to a practice, just to hear how it would sounded with all the other instruments. Wouldn't you know that a few hours later I'm playing it for real, in front of real people! I must have hit a hundred wrong notes that first night. The electric bass felt so foreign to me in my hands.
But now, a year later, I simply pick up that electric bass and start playing it, almost as easily as I play my regular guitar. No, I will never play it like Sting ... but then again, that's not the point. Rather, it opened up for me a whole new world of enjoyment and creativity.
Every day is a new adventure. I have always encouraged anyone who has worked for me to expect that to be a true statement. I truly believe that there is at least one new thing we can learn every day of our lives. And by doing so, we not only improve ourselves, but we improve the world around us.
So, go out and try something new ... whether it's on your web site, or in your life. And with that, I'll end with some lines from Sting's Brand New Day song--
Turn the clock to zero, honey
I'll sell the stock, we'll spend all the money
We're starting up a brand new day.
Turn the clock to zero, boss
The river's wide, we'll swim across
I'm thinking in a brand new way
Turn the clock to zero buddy
Don't wanna be no fuddy duddy
Started up a brand new day
| June 2002: "Colorado Rocky Mountain high!"
I still remember the day as if it happened yesterday, rather than over 30 years ago. I was flipping through a stack of record albums on a table outside of the college campus bookstore when my eye caught the album cover of a man holding a 12 string guitar.
My dad had bought me a 12 string guitar a few years earlier, when I was still in high school. As I continued to look at this album, I thought, "Hey, anyone who plays a 12 string guitar can't be all bad". Although I did not recognize his name, how could I not buy this album -- especially for $1.00?
Little did I know that I had discovered the talent of John Denver. That album, titled Poems, Prayers & Promises, included songs like Take Me Home (Country Roads), Sunshine on my Shoulders, My Sweet Lady, and several other early hits.
Working with web development and computer software is often like hunting through a stack of record albums. You scour the Internet and computer magazines looking for that special utility or program to make your work easier, your web site more enjoyable, or to solve a specific problem. Often we rely on the recommendation of someone else that we trust or consider reliable.
Most of us who use CuteSITE Builder or Trellix Web must feel like I did when I discovered John Denver for the first time. We literally stumbled acrossed it, and soon we find ourselves thinking: "Why didn't I hear of it (or him) before?". So much of our life is hard work -- earning a living, raising a family, solving the problems of the world. It's nice when we stumble across something that brings us some pleasure.
Speaking of pleasures, during the month of June, my wife and I will have a chance to spend a week in the mountains of Colorado. While I'm there, I'll be thinking about all the blessings of my life, and the opportunity I have to meet so many great people through the CSB/Trellix software. And I'm sure I'll pull out a guitar and sing a few of my favorite John Denver songs, including ...
Now he walks in quiet solitude the forests and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake
And the Colorado Rocky Mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply ...
Rocky Mountain high, in Colorado!
Words & music by John Denver
| May 2002: "I'm singin' in the rain!"
Last week I was at a customer site to do some more work on a database conversion. As usual, I entered the office humming a tune. The song this day happened to be Debbie Reynold's "Good morning, good morning to you!" I started to ask people in the office if they knew the song, or could tell me which movie it came from. I was dumbfounded to find only one person knew the answer (out of 7 that I asked). By the way, the correct answer is Singin' in the Rain!
Even more astounding was the fact that that none of them had ever seen the movie. Tell me it isn't so! This movie, filmed in 1952, is often listed in the top 10 films of all times, and certainly one of the greatest musicals ever made. It is still a classic, and a must see film, in my book. But obviously we all don't read the same book!
And don't you know that sometimes I feel the same way about the CuteSITE Builder (CSB) software? I'm surprised that more people have not heard of it. And when I tell them about it, they usually snub their nose and mumble something about Dreamweaver or FrontPage.
I don't expect that CSB will ever be the #1 web development tool of all time. Shoot, it didn't even rate a review in a recent national publication comparing such products. But, I like using it. And I like helping others learn to use it. And I really feel good when someone posts their success in using CuteSITE Builder.
Watching Singin' in the Rain makes me feel good, too. You just gotta love Donald O'Connor when he performs 'Make 'em Laugh', or Gene Kelly splashing and dancing his way while singing the theme song from the movie.
So, if you find yourself cranky from working on the computer, I'd suggest turning off the computer and rent this movie. Get your family or friends together, make some popcorn and enjoy an evening together. We do have a lot to be thankful for!
| April 2002: "Always look on the bright side of life!"
OK, if you haven't guessed it by now, I love music! I'm in heaven, whether it's enjoying a Broadway production of Les Miz or Starlight Express, or watching Glen Campbell pickin' and singin' at the Florida Strawberry festival.
I enjoy a variety of performers, from James Taylor (JT) to Randy Travis (RT), the Beatles to Chanticlear, Alison Krause to Diana Krull, Dvorak to Amy Grant. One thing all these artists have in common: they all paid the price in developing their skills; we fortunately reap the reward of all their hard work.
Music has shaped a lot of who I am, and how I see the world. Musicians are our poets ... expressing in words and sounds our deepest thoughts and emotions. But it does more. Music can lift us up, causing us to look beyond our immediate surroundings. And that's important.
Whether we are working on our first opera, or our first web site, we keep looking for ways to broaden our ideas, our perspective, our vision. Today we may be satisfied with simply getting our web site up. Tomorrow, though, we may be eager to implement Flash applets, slideshows and rollover images.
So, on those days where things seem to be going wrong, I offer you the following verse from Eric Idle (of Monty Python fame):
If life seems jolly rotten,
there's something you've forgotten,
and that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you're feeling in the dumps,
don't be silly chumps,
just purse your lips and whistle,
that's the thing!
And always look on the bright side of life.
Come on, always look on the right side of life!
(Written and composed by Eric Idle)
| March 2002: "Up, up and away, in my beautiful balloon!"
Jules Verne's classic story of circling around the world in 80 days in a hot air balloon was published in 1870. Not only did he accurately describe a future of rockets and spaceships, he even identified Florida as the place for launching space exploration. Can you say Cape Canaveral?
I saw the movie version, which won a Best Picture award in 1956, as a youngster in the 1960's. Later on the 5th Dimensions came out with the Jimmy Webb hit, "Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon". Dreams of space exploration and travel filled my mind and imagination from a very early age. I was enamoured by the first U.S. space astronauts, from their thrilling take-offs atop the large Saturn rocket, to their spectacular landings in the waters of the Atlantic or Pacific ocean. The moon and planets, once so far away, were now within our reach.
For over two years, I have had the privilege to assist people from literally around the world with using the Trellix / CuteSITE Builder product. From Brazil to Great Britain, from Germany to Vancouver Island, we pursue our own dreams, albeit a bit less demanding than flying to the moon! But, if a picture is worth a thousand words, our web sites say a lot about ourselves, our dreams, our goals, and the life we live.
We've come along way from the dreams of Jules Verne, circling the earth in 80 days. A hundred years later, astronauts were completing the trip in just 90 minutes. With the Internet, we are seconds away from one another.
They say the world gets smaller every day. I pray that it also becomes a better world. Violence and hatred and bigotry are remnants of a way of life that we can no longer tolerate. A vision of a world at peace does not have to simply be an elusive dream, it can be a reality.
The world's a nicer place in my beautiful balloon.
It wears a nicer face in my beautiful balloon.
We can sing a song and sail along the silver sky,
For we can fly.
We can fly!
Up, up and away, my beautiful, my beautiful balloon!
Words & music by Jimmy Webb
| February 2002: "Pennies from heaven!"
Living in Florida, I can tell you that the weekly Florida Lotto drawing receives a lot of attention, especially when the winning number is not drawn. Why? Because the money then rolls over to the next week, and there's an even larger pot of gold waiting for someone with the six lucky numbers. I often joke that if I win the lotto then I will retire. But there's one small problem: I have yet to buy a lotto ticket! So unless someone wants to give me a free ticket, I guess won't be retiring anytime soon.
Talking about free tickets ... have you noticed how the 'I deserve something for nothing' attitude creeps into much of our thinking? And where it does, it can affect the way we relate to people and businesses. Suddenly, we find ourselves demanding that we receive something free, as if it was our right. And then we get angry at the person or business who is providing the service to us if we don't get it.
I've seen that recently in the transition from Trellix Web to CuteSITE Builder. Many people perhaps received Trellix Web with their new computer, or downloaded a free version that's available with some web providers, like Tripod or Fortune City. But now, because of changing conditions in the marketplace, they discover that they may have to pay for a copy of CuteSITE Builder in order to publish. Many feel like they've been tricked, and that GlobalSCAPE is simply out to rip them off.
I can't speak for GlobalSCAPE, since I don't work for them. And I'm sure many Trellix users feel cheated, and I can sympathize. But then it gets out of hand, and the next thing you know, they're blaming GlobalSCAPE or Trellix for the fact that they can't access the Internet or that their email doesn't work.
Perhaps it's my upbringing. My parents worked hard raising 4 children, but I never once heard them complain about their lot in life. Rather, my dad sang songs, and joked, and enjoyed life. And he always kept a penny in his shoes. It's been 16 years since my dad passed away. And to this day, whenever my wife or I seem to be in a bind, or troubled, or have worries or concern, we find a penny on the sidewalk or on the driveway. And we know that Dad is saying a special prayer for us ... pennies from heaven ... to remind us to love one another, to enjoy life, and the world we live in! Take it away, Bing --
Every time it rains,
It rains pennies from heaven
Don't you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven
You'll find your fortune's falling
All over the town
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down
Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers
If you want the things you love, you must have showers
So when you hear it thunder don't run under a tree
There'll be pennies from heaven for you and me
(Burke, Johnston 1936)
| January 2002: "What do the simple folk do?"
My daughter recently told me that the new year 2002 could be called Y2M.
When I asked why, she very simply explained: "Well, Dad, since they called the year 2000 as Y2K, then 2001 would be Y2L, and 2002 would be Y2M." Simple!
How I wish all our problems could be so simple! There are daily problems just with building and maintaining our web sites. We find ourselves confronted with the unexpected, and having to deal with them. The hard drive crashes and we don't have a backup; the upgrade to XP stops right in the middle; or our ISP has been down for three days and we're trying to update our web site with new prices!
And yet, the Internet can be an amazing tool. I can go to a Christmas party one night, and have pictures posted for all our out of town friends the very next day. Or, in looking for a missing device driver for a friend, a few clicks of the mouse, and it's on its way to him!
Recently, a close friend of mine passed away in a tragic accident. I was able to set up a web site using Trellix/CSB with links to newspaper and TV articles, pictures, and funeral information to keep family and friends up to date. I then sent an email to all of them asking for stories and testimonials I could post. Guess where the very first email response I received came from? Halfway around the world ... in Bosnia!
I often find myself asking "How did we ever survive and communicate without the Internet?". Or when I meet someone who does not have a PC or access to the Internet, I catch myself thinking "How can they live without it?"
It's at times like these that I think of that marvelous play, Camelot ... the story of King Arthur. At one point in the play, he is trying to deal with the burdens of royalty, and he asks himself: "what do the simple folk do?"
King Arthur had to remind himself that the world did not revolve around him, nor his kingdom. I have to remember that the world does not revolve around either me, nor the Internet. The tragedy of Sept 11th gave us proof that love and compassion makes the world a better place to live, and we are richer for it. Happy Y2M to you!