Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Sunday, June 16, 2013

C: A Great Cloud of Witness

inboxI got an email this morning from a client who has been dead at least six months.  We’ll call him “Peter,” which is not his real one.  Seeing his name pop up in my inbox was eerie.  I knew immediately that it was not a “real” message and, sure enough, it was one of those that is sent out to everyone in your inbox advertising sexual enhancers or weight loss or some such—I don’t know which in this case since I do not open these.

Still, it was odd seeing Peter’s name, especially in this early-morning fog before my coffee.  It felt momentarily like a inboxhandsmessage from the grave from someone who had not been ready to pass on from this life.  Like a stilled voice trying to cry out to be remembered.

Indeed, he had not been ready.  He left an eight-year-old son for whom he and I fought hard.  His death had been out-of-the-blue, young.  He need not signal from beyond for me to remember Peter.

But, I am digressing—my ADD.  There are many rabbit holes I could go down on this one, but the one I want to write about today is this:

Do you ever think about how much information is floating around in the airwaves?  Okay, I know it isn’t in the airwaves but on some big servers that I picture (wrongly) to be in the sky.  In any case,  it’s out there.

ereaderAmazon knows everything I read and last evening I was told by the news that it keeps track of those passages I highlight in my ebooks (I am an inveterate highlighter). 

I don’t highlight anything exciting, folks.  I am no national security risk.  I would not care one bit if you, my friend, looked over my shoulder at any time and saw my readings or my highlighting.  But it’s creepy to consider persons I will never have any real connection with having that access.  Don’t you think?

Same with my local Kroger store.  I use their “rewards” card because without it I don’t get their discount.  Therefore, they know everything I eat.  (Now THAT’S something you don’t need to see—often laden with junk food as it is).  Truthfully, I shrug about that one, too, but add it to the Amazon thing, and it’s creepy.

Our office uses encrypted emailing to send documents through “the Cloud.”  It iscloud 3 American Bar Approved for securely sending documents, is a great tool for communicating and storage yadayadaya, but c’mon!  It’s up there somewhere!  Which I believe means that is eventually accessible.

Do you see how much of a trail you are leaving behind?  Just like poor Peter, who left an active email account, now cloud 2demon-possessed and sending spam.

The whole thing unsettles me especially in light of the revelations of how much spying our own government is doing on us all.  I believe that to be creepy, too—and illegal, not to mention unAmerican (Can anyone spell “Bill of Rights?”).

We’re getting immune to the creepy feeling we ought to have about leaving a trail of information about ourselves.

I had a client in the other day who is a professor in the information technology field.  He spoke about how easy it is to find out things—how you don’t have to be the big-dog government. cloud He says as an exercise he has one of his students post a private picture on facebook in the classroom, then shows them right there how to get to it.

There is no privacy.

He says his young students do not care. “I don’t particularly want people I don’t know (especially millions of them) knowing that my favorite color is blue,” he said.  “But these young folks cock their heads and furrow their brows when I try to explain my unease at this.”

Yes, there is no privacy, and we are caring less and less.  The younger you are the more information  you put out there.

You think I don’t understand how much information about myself I put out on this blog?

So, back to Peter.  What is going to happen to all your email accounts when you pass on?  What about your “cloud” storages?  Will they be reaching out to someone after you are gone?  Do your loved ones know how to get into your electronic paths and deactivate them?  ( I suppose there is no such thing as “destroying” the information you’ve already put out there.”

I think of archaeologists who dig through ancient garbagearchaelogist dumps, sifting all the information they can find on ancient civilization.

I don’t think any archaeologists will be needed 1,000 years from now to know everything about us.  There is a growing cloudbank of witness to your lives.

Creepy, I tell you.  C

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

C: Fear Itself

whippoorwill 2We’ve lived a long time in the woods—or at least near to the woods.  The forest comes up close to my house on two sides and from there stretches miles back over hills interrupted only with dottings of civilization.  Hearing the night forest sounds when the weather allows open windows is one of my favorite things about living out here.

One of the sounds I love is that of the whippoorwill bird, who sings only at night.  For those of you who live out of his range, you can hear one at this site.  Scroll down to the section on “call” where you will find a recording.

Normally I hear the whippoorwill from the darkness of the forest.  Lately, however, I have had one calling on my back utility porch.  His song is loud and from so close fills my den.  That porch is the point of my home which is nearest to the woods, the steps being but maybe 50 feet to the thick trees.  Hearing him so close made me think about the whippoorwill’s impact on my son.

When my son was born we lived whippoorwill 3even more-surrounded by woods than now.  The whippoorwills were common out there and sang to us.  Oddly enough, my son developed a fear of the whippoorwill.  My husband was largely at fault. 

One night as he was tucking our nearly-four-year-old into the bed, Son asked about the sound coming from the woods.  “That’s the whippoorwill,” his father said.  “He only comes out at night.”

Son sat upright in the bed.  It seems that “night creatures” whippoorwillequated with “bad” to him, and he let his father know that this was an unsettling thought to him.

Don’t worry, Son,” Dad soothed.  “I bet Molly (our cat) goes to visit the whippoorwill when she’s outside.  You know how she likes to be out at night, too.”  Son relaxed.  And then Dad, unable to leave well enough alone,  messed up…bad.

So long as you hear the whippoorwill you don’t have a thing to worry about…” (could he have stopped here?  Nope, he was too wound up).  “In fact, it’s when you don’t hear him that you should be worried.”

Well, as you know, the whippoorwill calls a lot at night but not all the time!  The minute it stopped that night, Son was running to our bed.  “Dad!  I can’t hear the Whippoorwill!!”

It took us weeks to calm him out of this fear.

And that reminds me of another time, after we had moved to the city.  Dad struck again.  He was tucking Son into bed and praying for him as was his custom.  This time he added a little:  “And, Lord, please protect us through the night.”

Son sat up straight in the bed.  “From what?”

He wanted to know exactly what disaster was coming down the pike from which Dad was seeking divine protection.  This necessitated a two-parent discussion of the generality (not always the specificity) of God’s protection.  It took a while to calm Son down and convince him that Dad did not know of some impending danger.

All this remembering makes me wonder about myself.  What “unknowns” am I afraid of that are really only benifear itselfgn unknowns?

Many, I think...perhaps when I feel fear of “unknown,” of moving from my comfort zone, I should recall the whippoorwill, his reassuring call and the generality of God’s protection.  My little utility-porch buddy has been a good reminder and a great encouragement.



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