A poem about blindness and understanding

While looking up some information for a project, I ran across this wonderful poem. It is initially about a blind couple; however, it is also about judging people and making assumptions without getting to know the world they live in. I think this is a wonderful poem that was written by Louis Rams and posted on Hello Poetry. Please enjoy.

a couple born blind at birth, decided that they would marry
and a child they wanted to carry.
when an acquaintance of a friend
began to question such an affair.
he had to question them, he did not care.

how can you marry one another?
when you can’t even see each other?
how do you know if your partner
is a beauty or a beast?
and any children that you have
may come out the same as you.
living in darkness, is that what you
want for them too?

the blind couple holding hands, and smiles
on their faces, walked over to him.
the woman asked if she could touch him?
and he agreed.
she touched the features of his face
his hair, his shoulders, and leaned
over and inhaled deeply.

she stepped back, and in a soft gentle voice said:
you are a man 5’11’ in height
but you have no clue- no insight.
by your features of your face
your looks are quite fine
your face narrows down to your chin
telling me you are slim.

the mark on the bridge of your nose
tells me that you wear glasses too.

the smell from your body, tells me that
you are a nervous person, and always on the move.
and the way you dress, makes you think
you’re in the groove.

‘shocked and dismayed, he did’nt know what to say’

she then said in that same tone.
because we are blind from our birth
does not mean we can not see.
we live in darkness, but love lights up our hearts.
and the other senses, we had from the start.

we do everything the same as you
and some things, we may do better too.

we dress ourselves, bathe, cook, clean the house too
and we know just what to do.
as for a child coming into our lives
and if the child will live in darkness
the same as us.
in GOD we put our trust.

embarassed and apologetic, he learned
a lesson that day.
LOVE AND FAITH, have no boundaries
and there is nothing that can not be overcome.
if you trust in the FATHERS SON

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$2 per week can feed a nation

$2 is a dollar less than a single Starbucks grande late.
$2 is a dollar less than a single McDonald’s Big Mac.
$2 is less than a single RedBull energy drink.

What is the cost of hunger?
$2 can buy a can of soup that will provide a family diner.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 300 million people in the United States. According to WorldHunger.org, in 2010 there were over 17.2 million households that were not getting enough food. If you figure that a household size is 3.14 people, that is 54 million people who need food. That means that there are over 245 million people who are doing just fine in the fridge department.

So what does that mean to you and me? It means that we have it within our power to help out our fellow man and woman. Don’t just stand by the sidelines and say “this is terrible, someone should do something about this”. We are “someone”. It means that if we donate just 1 non-perishable food item a week per person in your house, we can provide almost 5 meals per person in need of food each week. I know that does not sound like much, but to those that need the food, it is a lot.

If you want, you can buy your mocha-caramel-frapa-upsidedown late with whip-cream. Nobody is stopping you. I just ask that you also buy a $2 food item and donate it. I can guarantee that no matter where you are, there is some sort of organization near you that will gladly accept your food donation. It may be a church (it doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in religion, believe in your fellow man) or a food bank. Whatever it is, donate. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the areas near you had the problem of overflowing food donation carts?

I also noticed that I had 1 follower who is in Australia. So here are some statistics for you.

The population of Australia is just over 23.2 million people. According to FoodBank.org.au, about 2 million people rely on food donations. If each Australian donated one non-perishable food item per week, that can provide 10 meals per person in need of food each week.

A website that covers donations for Australia, UK, Canada and U.S. is http://www.foodtodonate.org/

Hurray! We can now feed ourselves! Now what about the world you say? Who cares, what’s in it for you? … Oh, right, helping our fellow man. Check out http://www.wfp.org/

Crusaders for breast cancer

October is breast cancer awareness month. This does not mean October is the only month that we should focus on breast cancer, but it is designated as a month to remind the public about how prevalent it is and to get checked.

According to the Susan G. Komen website, it is estimated that in 2013 there will be almost 300,000 new cases of breast cancer in women and 2,000+ new cases of breast cancer in men (yes, men can get it too). There will also be 39,620 women and 410 men who die due to breast cancer.

For me, it is very personal. My cousin had breast cancer at a very young age and through genetic testing, she found she had the predisposition and took a preemptive step by having a double-mastectomy. My mother right now is kicking the ass of stage IV breast cancer through hormone treatment and dietary changes.  I am sure many, if not most, people know someone who either has breast cancer or know someone who has a family member with breast cancer.

That is why when I went to Rocco’s Tacos in West Palm Beach Florida earlier this month I was pleasantly surprised by his support of breast cancer awareness month. He has a special all-you-can-eat taco every Tuesday where proceeds go to Susan G. Komen. While we were there, he did a special where whenever he is up on the bar, he will pour a free shot of tequila in your mouth if you donate anything to the fight. 100% of the proceeds are donated. For just that one walk across the bar while we were there, he raised over $2,000. Two people even donated $500 each. Since he started in 2011, he has donated over $32,000.

Rocco's Taco owner, Rocco, with Susan G. Komen rep in his Tacos & Tatas campaign

Rocco’s Taco owner, Rocco, with Susan G. Komen rep in his Tacos & Tatas campaign

I thank Rocco for being a Crusader for breast cancer. I recommend finding an establishment and doing your part for the fight. Also, don’t just fight breast cancer. There are so many good services to donate to that are underfunded. Do your piece and help.

Did you vote for the shutdown?

For me, politics is a closed subject. I don’t want to talk about it and I don’t want to hear your opinion about it. It is often such a touchy subject with everyone, that it is best to keep opinions strictly private.

The events starting October 2013 in Washington D.C. have drawn a lot of attention. It has gotten to the point that I have had my fill of the lack of action and the lack of proper representation of the people of the United States by those elected to represent them.

You may ask “How does this affect you personally?” That question is irrelevant. If you thought that question then I want you to execute the following steps:

  1. Choose an arm (preferably a strong arm)
  2. Stretch your arm out to your side at a right angle
  3. Bend your elbow at a 45-degree angle with your hand at an even height with your head
  4. Open your hand so that the palm is facing toward your body. Fingers should be strait and joined.
  5. In a very quick motion, move your hand across your body to the exact opposite side.
  6. If you have done this correctly, you just slapped yourself.
  7. If you still think that this only matters to those who it affects directly, execute steps 1-5 repeatedly until you realize that you are wrong.

All joking aside, it does not matter how the government shutdown affects a single individual, but how it affects the people as a whole. People who have planned for months on getting married in federal parks had their dreams crushed. Federal employees who have had their pay rate frozen for 3 years due to budget, are being told that they are furloughed without back-pay. Some of those same employees were told to go back to work with no guarantee that they will get paid until the government approves a budget. Military service members have died and a charity organization is paying the death benefits because the government has not released funding. Are we seriously at a point where the government is relying on charitable organizations to pay its bills? How many people can say that their Representative is truly representing them?

Notice how I have not mentioned Republican or Democrat. I am not laying blame on any individual or a group. I am laying blame where it belongs, in Congress as a whole. When neither side will budge because they think they are right. When a Representative can be so naive that they think speaking for 21 hours is what their constituents want. When our elected officials forget that they are not supposed to vote according to their party, but according to their constituents. It leads me to believe that the government has lost track of itself.

Have you contacted your elected officials to tell them what you want? Have you told your Representative that they need to pull their heads out of the clouds and look around at what is happening? If you have not, then you have no right to complain. Immediately after I am done with this, I will be submitting my own feedback to my Representative. If you do not know who your Representative is in Congress, then you can go to http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and input your zip code.

Disney’s Ratatouille applied to programming

There is a great quote in the movie “Ratatouille” from Disney. It is made at the end of the movie when the food critic, Anton Ego, has an epiphany.

In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto, “Anyone can cook.” But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist *can* come from *anywhere*.

I would like to apply that to writing software code. “Anyone can code”. I do not mean that everyone can write great code, but that a great coder can come from anywhere.

We have all met him/her. The person that decided to become a computer programmer because they want to make a lot of money, or they want to write apps, or they want to program games (‘cuz hey, if I can play games, why can’t I program them?)

Then they come to your project and throw all standards to the wind: readability; maintainability; thoroughly tested; formatted. They turn your work of art into a soup sandwich. You spend half your time trying to figure out what the heck they did that blew up the home page.

My real life example:

I recently am having the “joy” of going through some existing code on a Grails project that was written by an independent contractor. I will not mention who that individual is, but needless to say, I would not request a connection on LinkedIn.

This individual has been an independent contractor for over 10 years, according to his website, and has done work for some rather large and big name companies. I briefly met him about 11 months ago and was at first impressed that he managed to get a contract with this famous company and thought that he must be pretty good. In the couple weeks that I worked near him, my opinion of him was that he was a little unprofessional and a little too chatty. By “chatty”, I mean someone who has way too many ideas floating around in his head that are based on opinion and not fact so he fills the space around him with random subjects. When I was introduced as someone who primarily works on Java Enterprise applications, he seemed offended somehow and asked what made me an enterprise developer and him not (even though nobody said he wasn’t).

So here I am, almost a year later and I was brought in to do some maintenance. As my profile states, I am primarily a Java guy so I have a slight learning curve for Grails. This doesn’t mean that have no idea what good Grails code should look like. The first thing I noticed was a lack of standard formatting. It seems like his coding style was like his talking style… it just flows any which way

As I delved deeper into the code, I noticed a lack of organization. Single blocks of code that were in excess of 1000 lines and did several different things. Other places a single line would actually be a combined if/else statement separated by semicolons. I groaned inside when I saw that one.

So clearly, anyone can write code, but not everyone can become a good programmer. If anybody actually reads this blog post. Feel free to post your “favorite” piece of horrible code you have run across.

Don’t “like” me on Facebook, “like” me in real life

It has gotten to the point where you can’t watch a commercial, walk past a store or even open junk mail without seeing the words “Like us on Facebook”. What does that mean? It has become a mindless sentence said by everyone in an attempt to get some sort of social media score that says they are popular. So what do we do? We mindlessly click the “Like” button akin to the simple minded Alice drinking a mysterious liquid simply because it was labeled “Drink Me”. Does this mean we truly “like” these things? Are we doing a quid-pro-quo of “if you ‘like’ me then I will ‘like’ you”? More likely, the answer is no.

Facebook is not original or unique. It is the same as Myspace, Friendster and many of the other social networking sites. People are out there to do whatever they can to collect as many “likes” and “friends” on their website. They feel a false sense of belonging. But they don’t truly belong to many of those networks, they just have a digital connection to them through some database link. That is it. It isn’t Facebook, it is Fakebook.

So, that is why I say don’t “like” me on Facebook, “like” me in real life. Get out there and say “Hi”. You may never physically see me, but I am the person that you pass on the street, or at the bookstore, or at the beach. Quit pretending to like things in a feeble attempt to inflate your sense of self-worth. You are not valuable because of your 500+ “friends” on Facebook or followers on Twitter, you are valuable because you are a human. Get out there and share your worth.

So, if you want to trade your fake life for a real one. Try some real networking sites like http://www.meetup.com/ that allow you to go out there and make real friends and like real people. You will find it more enjoyable than reading posts on someone’s wall about what they ate today.

Make Goals, not Resolutions

What is the difference between a “Goal” and a “Resolution”? More specifically a “New Year’s Resolution”. Why do so many people make New Year’s Resolutions when they should be making goals for the new year?

This year my wife asked if I have made my goals for the year. Of course I hadn’t, but that is beside the point. What she said and the way she said it made sense to me. Why did she say “goal” and not “resolution”? Let’s look at the difference between the two.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of “resolution” in this manner is “a formal expression of opinion, will, or intent voted by an official body or assembled group”, with a single person being the official body. So a New Year’s resolution is only your opinion, will or intent to do something for the upcoming year. That doesn’t sound very solid when you put it that way. I can intend to go to the market today, but get side-tracked by a squirrel.

How about we look at the base source “resolution” which is “resolve”. Merriam-Webster’s definition is “to reach a firm decision about <resolve to get more sleep> <resolve disputed points in a text>”. Once again, to resolve something is to make a firm decision to do something, but has nothing to do with actually doing the action.

Now let’s look at a goal. Merriam-Webster defines a goal as “the end toward which effort is directed”. The key points is there is effort and there is an end. A resolution is only a decision to do something while a goal states that you have to do something. In a sense you can say “I resolve to make goals for myself this year”. A proper goal should have a measurable end and a time in which to do it.

Typically a goal is something a person strives towards. It is an accomplishment while a resolution is something a person says they are going to do. So why does everybody make a big deal about New Year’s Resolutions? They are going to be broken by most people and many people make them only half-hearted. Maybe the reason everybody makes a New Years Resolution is because it is a “fad” that everybody does, but nobody truly expects you to complete. Maybe it is because a resolution is only a decision and people don’t feel the need to go any further with it, nor do they have the desire. This is why I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions and I don’t remember ever making one.

That all changed this year (sort-of) when my wife asked if I have made my goals. A New Year’s Resolution is a fad that everybody does every year. If broken, everybody thinks none the worse and says “better luck next year”. But goals are different. A goal is personal. it has an end, it has value, it has a timeline. If you set goals and fall short, you have lost. Goals have more and deeper meaning to people.

Think about a soccer game. If a player shoots and misses, the look on their face is disappointment. When they score a goal, the whole team celebrates. It is a big deal. How about someone who sets a goal to earn their masters degree. The goal has deep meaning and to achieve it means a great accomplishment. Both of those goals have purpose, a defined end result.

So this year I recommend you resolve to make goals for yourself. Don’t say “I resolve get in shape”, say that “I will form a habit by the end of February of working out for an hour a day, five days a week”. Make solid, concrete measurable goals for yourself.

This year I still did not make any resolutions… instead I made goals.