November 23, 2007 Newsletter
Back in 2001 mankind had not yet encountered aliens like Arthur C. Clarke dramatized in his classic novel titled after that year. The only aliens we have heard of so far this century are the illegal kind looking for refuge in the wealth of American economy.
As with fiction, the real future is often very different from what we expect and intend. I am sure that if you were able to interview Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin and ask them for a prediction of America in 2007, they would not mention anything like Black Friday, global terrorism or Pokemon. In some areas we are probably far past their wildest dreams (we have gone to the moon and now turn our sites on Mars) but in other areas we are probably shamefully not as far as expected (economics still drive our culture more than principles).
That is the nature of this world and life. It’s one of the reasons why I lament the brevity of our lives—we will not get to see what the future holds. Instead, we can only imagine what it might be like and, to a degree, help steer the future in the direction we intend.
In my own life, 2001 marked a transition that I did not expect. While I had been dabbling in personal web pages for a couple of years, I had not learned anything about HTML. The first web pages that I made were generated in graphic software, and I paid no attention to the back end. But as time progressed and I wanted to share my journalistic work with the world, I realized how monumental a task it was to maintain a website. My first attempt at a large website used a technique called Server Side Includes that allowed me to create a template that controlled the basic structure of all pages on the site. But even with that technique, I still had to manually create HTML web pages for every single page I wanted to load—then manually load them to the internet with an FTP program.
While I am happy that I have taken this path, it has taken me a long way from my starting point; I am not always sure that I have kept my eyes on the original simple goal. Sometimes weeks pass and I have written programs for others… but I haven’t written anything for my own site, taken photos of things that are important to me, or created new pieces of art for myself.
At our Thanksgiving Dinner, my uncle reminded us that parents often get so caught up in work and providing for their families that they often miss all of the opportunity to enjoy the important things that are always there. Later, driving home from a friend’s home, I was hit with the realization that I have been too caught up in work—my mind often stays focused on problems in my daily chores when I should be tickling my children or playing hide and seek.
Sorry Ayn Rand… I agree that industry and wealth are important. But you did not see the big picture… the big picture reflected in little blue eyes. Industry is a purpose, not an end.
In the end, what I am trying to say is that it is easy to get caught up in all the things that are not as important as they seem, and lose sight of those things that are more important than we remember.