Sunday, July 24, 2022

What Processes Might be Expected

When a grief-filled experience is too closely mirrored in the church as it happened in the world, there is probably something wrong. Even without it being the church I just had another experience where an accusation was overblown at my job, though it was probably not hiding ulterior motives, unlike my previous experience.

While I think my recent experience is probably just due to some misconceptions, and won’t stand up to any real scrutiny, the church incident seems to have other depths because other people in the ministry have stepped down for “reasons.” I hope I am wrong.

I think two points need to take precedence in any situation like this, but especially within the church: following the process laid out for us, and grace and mercy.

The process is from Matthew 18:15-17(NIV):

15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Essentially, work your way up from personally and privately addressing the issue to taking it in front of the whole church. In some situations, such as abuse or violence, quick escalation might be required, up to and including bringing in the police. But in this case, let’s say that harm is not imminent and the person sinning, or contravening an expected standard, could be approached by the one that notices. I mention the second because we all sin, so usually it is the case that there is an expectation, especially in leadership, that we have all agreed to.

Often, with grace, this is the final step. The person sinning didn’t realize that they were doing it, and they really just needed that loving nudge to ask for forgiveness and repent. However, let’s say that what was brought up was not the actual issue. There is an agreement about what was said, but then a request to take it up one level. Why would this happen without an ulterior motive? Beyond harming the ministry or a person, going up a level is probably a sign that there are other things wrong, or the person that has pointed out the fault doesn’t have the resources or power to bring about support to help the brother or sister with their repentance.

It’s my favorite benediction that can only be said tongue-in-cheek, “Go forth and sin no more!” A ridiculous request of already harried people, especially if they are harassed from within the church. So, maybe bringing the issue in front of a subset of elders could in fact be helpful to find the support that your volunteers need.

But if this is the point that another “sin” is pointed out, and the person is asked to step down from their ministry, this is what the world does to catch people off-guard to affect a more swift change than otherwise possible. If you are playing your cards close to your chest to affect change within a church, then you need that pointed out so that you can stop, ask forgiveness, and repent.

But maybe the issue was big enough that the person needs to step back from serving in the church. Great, but either way: if there is no support, no walking alongside, then there is no process. And if the support is already waning in the ministry in question because there aren’t enough volunteers to do it without burning out, what is done will be detrimental and possibly cause worse issues.

The third level is where this whole process, I believe, is misinterpreted. First off, this is the level at which the person should be asked to step back from any ministry role, whether they are unrepentant or need a break and better support from the church in their time of hardship. And only asked to step down after careful deliberation by, essentially, the church as a whole, though practically the board of elders.

But here is the second point, both for this level and overall. Whether unfit for serving in a ministry or unrepentant they are to be treated as pagans and tax collectors. Who wrote Christ’s words down in Matthew? It was Matthew if you didn’t get that hint, and by tradition, he was a tax collector before Christ called him. Grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness are what they need. If they truly believe they did no wrong, but the church as a body disagrees, it is unlikely that they will stay, but they should not be cast out and shunned as some churches do. In either case, removing from ministry, for a time or permanently, still results in loving the person. While we are called to be discerning for our leaders and teachers, but only in terms of doctrine. Essentially, if someone is teaching or leading in the wrong direction, they need to be corrected or removed from that position so that it is clear what is expected. But again, if the process isn’t followed…

Even with this process laid out so plainly, it doesn't mean there are complications or variables. This is a good case for someone in a public ministry, within the church anyway, that is teaching or supporting doctrine. However, there are so many situations where the balance of power, or any other disparities, would put the "accuser" in a position that nothing is done, or there is even a backlash against them. With sexual or mental abuse, for example, the first step in this passage would possibly backfire and the whole process comes to a halt because of the manipulation of the victim. But neither should we burn people at the stake without real investigations by neutral parties.

Overall, we are just humans, and we will make mistakes. When your volunteers feel like they don’t have a way to take a break, or have recourse for less than upfront accusations. If the church can model better behavior, maybe people not currently interested might not be scared away, but unfortunately, it seems that individuals or individual churches have a significant impact on the view the public has when things go wrong.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells



The Murderbot Diaries #6 


Murderbot has to help solve a mystery. I mean they all have been mysteries of one sort or another, but this feels more like a who-dunnit. There is a debate in my house as to where this falls in the timeline, if it comes before Network Effect or after. I maintain that it is after, but there are possible points that might need a bit more review.


Persistent perceptions: If a sec unit isn’t controlled by a governor, it must be a dangerous rogue, even if it is saving you. How can stereotypes get so ingrained? If most of your kind is never seen, or only seen when tightly controlled, and depicted when uncontrolled as unseeing killers of everything...

In a universe full of humans, convincing them one by one is really slow, especially if you don’t care enough to try.

Bots/Constructs/Humans circle or triangle of distrust. The relation between humans and bots seems to be well-defined, though there is still a spectrum of human thought towards bots. Constructs are the wildcard. They don’t really exist outside of company property so most people don’t see them outside of context.

Constructs only trust bots so far, but more because they are like slaves or pets, but not in Preservation space. There are a few facets that are certainly explored in this story.

One reason that this story may be out of order is because it really doesn’t deal with any other characters that we’ve had more than passing interaction with. Of course when SecUnit was on its own, it was dealing with new different people in terms of its… trusted adult. This feels much more like this than Network Effect did.

On the other hand this may be bringing some “newer” characters up to speed before they become critical in the story.


I love everything about the size of these novellas, except that I blow through them in way too short a time. Nothing against authors who write tomes, but reading this in less than three sittings often means that I am fully engaged and remember what happened, well, not too long ago.

Also, get it at a library, otherwise the price is a bit steep for a novella. I paid for it because I knew I would like it, yeah, yeah, how do I really know? Or maybe I am getting old and seeing the lower prices on much larger books from the past is hard not to compare. That must be it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Network Effect by Martha Wells


The Murderbot Diaries #5


Coming home from a mostly uneventful (less casualties than normal) survey, our hero (okay, not really a hero, it just wants to be left alone)  gets construct-napped by an old associate. This is quite a bit more of Murderbot in a single novel, not just novella length. 


Duty vs caring: One of SecUnit’s responsibilities becomes more like a relationship, although there might even be a line about how icky another relationship feels when described. The story really explores the depth of self-deception of trying to not care and just carry out its duty.

Sacrifice: This is a huge topic outside of this book that it often seems people have a really hard time accepting in their own lives. What if you were built to be expendable to some degree? How selflessly would you act?

Unknown Alien Tech: Yep, a bit of a MacGuffin, but Wells has been building this up in her other books in this series, so it is not really a surprise that she uses it here to put constraints on the story.

Abandoned Colonies: I think this is an interesting look into the past as well as a look at current and future enterprises. While today’s enterprises don’t usually end up with stranded colonists, this certainly happened in the past, and may happen again when we are able to reach planets, but not too easily. When an enterprise is no longer profitable, how does it affect the people who are forced to live with the consequences?

This could be translated to today’s companies when they go bankrupt or leave a location. Many in the recent past have left pollution, a large populace of unemployed, and a sterling reputation. On the one hand a company fully exploiting a resource, however you want to interpret “exploiting,” is making money and is active in the location they exist. But a company that is gone is not. Maybe there are ways of extracting reparations from successive entities, but it is a much different story.


If you have made it this far in the series (yet again), starting with #1 and all the rest, then this is a must read. There are some interesting questions that I have mentioned above as well as the continued witty banter that makes my introverted heart just want to sing, though not in front of a crowd please.

This isn’t just a longer book that takes the same size outline as the novellas and strings it out. It is a novel in it’s own right. I do like the novella length, but I am also quite happy with how this book turned out. I have read #6, but I have to say that I hope she continues with the series. Maybe there will be conclusions, maybe it will spiral into unknown episodic space. I hope for the former.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells



The Murderbot Diaries #4


Murderbot is on its way home (Or at least less hostile?) but finds out Mensah has been taken hostage. It’s already delivering data that could be used to tear down the evil corporation, but should Murderbot really care what happens or happened?


Growth and Lapses: The amount of growth over the course of four novellas is possibly more than anybody could expect from anyone, but starting with a hugely blank slate and thousands of hours of serials bring into question just what a construct, specifically this SecUnit is. Of course we can’t quite move forward smoothly, and there are some definite hankerings to actually go rogue.

Increased capacity, less reliance: I suspect that there is more to the actual processing power mentioned, but I have to say, even without the speculation, that Murderbot is built to kill, and do it well, so yes there are violent scenes. However, the amount of restraint and alternate methods are quite interesting as well as making this a more complex story than skylark.

Deal with the unfair: If the enemy throws an unbeatable, but highly illegal, opponent your way, there probably won’t be enough time to complain to the authorities. There are quite a few instances of foreshadowing for this event, which brings into question just how well this series of novellas was planned out. Could this have been released as fewer books?

It is interesting how the technology aspect is very important to the telling of the story, but that it becomes a tool to tell it rather than being a major player. I think similar stories could be told with different or lacking tech, but it seems that they would need to rely on some form of magic in order to do so.


I mean really, if you are this far in the series it would be silly to stop now. But don’t just read it because you are this far, read it because you are invested in Murderbot’s humanity freedom as a being. It just happens to be well built to help its “friends.” Also tech snark, yes!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Warm May

Utah mountain top view
 I think I broke my step counter. We had a few hikes that added up over the days to over 30k steps in a day and another day that was over 28k. Other days were over 15k pretty easily. Now that I look at it though, my adjustable step goal is just over 10k. Spot on for some questionable science.

That might seem reasonable, except that all through the pandemic I have consistently not even come close to that goal. Some days were below 3k. My body really suffered for it because I was always on edge in terms of not wanting to let my team down. As I have discussed before though: The only way to take care of others well is to (often) take care of yourself first.

There are deep philosophical discussions to be had behind this idea, but I will give two short caveats and an illustration: Never moving beyond yourself is just narcissism, and sometimes it is necessary to sacrifice many things in order to care for or protect someone.

But in general, if you are unable to feed yourself, you will probably be unable to feed another, whether you are unable to procure food today, or don't have the means to ever procure food. In an age-old sense, if you cannot hunt or forage because you are too weak, then those depending on you will starve. Right, so you need to eat, but in a modern sense you should not be denying others just in order to eat...

So back to too much work, essentially health might seem to be tangentially or maybe unrelated to how one works, but if you have ever been sick, hungry, or worried you know that it is hard to concentrate on a task-at-hand that won't alleviate the distraction. Physical health is the same, preventive maintenance means you will reduce the chance of dysfunction.

So I need more steps and I need more exercise. I am looking forward to starting my new Job on Monday. With everything new there is always apprehension, but I think this will be that much better.

My brother-in-law is married off, it was a good wedding. We took some time after and hiked and birded Utah and Idaho, that's where all the extra steps came from.

Also, why is it already summer? It is already too warm, and I need to plant beans, tomatoes, and peppers.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

This Time: Really Not Dead

 Wow, where to begin?

Well, there was a pandemic. It is still happening, I am vaccinated, but it might not protect me from the new variants. As a world we have added, perhaps permanently, words to our vocabulary about situations we may have never imagined. And that is the least of the changes.

My team and I helped facilitate the data for a few million swab tests with very little support. I learned a ton, including the limits to which I am willing to work. When my boss previous to this job lied to me about people working 80 hours that weren't academicians, I said it was crazy. I was right. As a software engineer I am sure there are some people that pull off 80 hour weeks, but I hope that they are few and far between. My "worst" week was 67 hours, and looking back on it I am sure I could have done a better job with better planning under 40 hours. Essentially coding is combining engineering knowledge and creative application all the time that the fingers are on the keyboard and the time surrounding.

Diminishing returns is the rule. Some people like Cal Newport, say that 4-5 hours a day of intense, or deep work is pretty much what we can expect from someone at a knowledge job. I don't disagree.

The end of February I had 40+ hours of fingers actually on keyboard according to a tracking app... I am pretty sure I rewrote a bunch of that code over the next two months. And we didn't have our on-call situation up-to-date. I really hate that, always being on-call means you can never truly take time off. Not truly taking time off means that you can't recharge. I joked that it was always Wednesday, never quite getting to a point we might take off some time. Whoever doesn't like Mondays has nothing on never-ending Wednesdays.

As a cap to this: In April as we started to slow down, I started to have ideas of how to do things better while I wasn't necessarily working, that realization was troubling. Finding out that my brain wasn't functioning well before made me go back and take a look at the hours. Conservatively I worked a whole extra month in February and March. I do not want to do that again.

I am about a week into a break between jobs. Missing the awesome team, but they are moving-on as well, and recuperating to some new normal. I am running again, trying to drop a bit of extra weight, doing some birding, hiking, and a bit of camping at Letchworth SP. Yeah, just trying to relax before starting, hopefully at a much more sedate pace.

Also this is becoming yearly... Well maybe I can do better with some real time.

Monday, March 02, 2020

Not Dead Again

Well another hiatus from writing on the blog. I haven’t died, but it was certainly an interesting period of my life. I no longer work at Macaulay Library, that was a weird re-org that seems to be still happening to others as well with less than forthcoming tactics. It still makes me rather upset.

In good news I found a company that was happy to hire me and pay me to be a Senior Software Engineer in August. It is still weird to be a senior anything, but I have found that I do have knowledge that others don’t, though sometimes literally only minutes before they ask. I still have plenty to learn. Quadrant Biosciences is a small startup so there is plenty to do in terms of new software to support the research side of the company. Plenty of challenges left and I hope I am up to them.

I have been reading, as this blog was starting to become a review blog, I really need to start that up. In November I attempted to start another novel for nanowrimo, but only got 15k words in. It is an exploration of a few ideas such as portal technology that may lead to a few of my writings several years ago that I could connect into a universe.

Running last year was pretty good. It was also probably one of the reasons I stayed sane during the false accusations at the Lab. I trained for a Half Marathon and ended up running it in 2:07. There is a possibility of running it again this year, but I am not entirely sure. I am definitely planning on signing up for one somewhere. I also managed to run a 5k in less than 25 minutes, and I plan to sign up for a few more this year to run quite a bit faster. We’ll see.

I am going to see if I can start reviewing sci-fi or other books again, as well as see where my episodes tailed-off. I might also start posting observations about tech, but that might be rather boring for the few readers that actually see this.

Also I realized that with my sporadic writing that continuing to serve ads that may have nothing to do with my content, my interests, or any of my reader's interests that I turned them off. However, if you use the Brave browser you can certainly add me to your sites that you contribute to.

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