Feeble Knees

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Answers to Messy Christian's Interview Questions

Oh Goody, Messy Christian added me to her list of interviewees. Very Exciting! Seeing as I've been having a hard time motivating myself to blog lately, this is just the kick I needed. Here are her questions:

  1. What do you get most out of blogging?
  2. You say that you're a techie person - what is your favourite gadget and why?
  3. What is one topic that will get you steamed up when people bring it up?
  4. You're having a baby! What names are you considering?
  5. Tell us about the place you live - the climate, the attractions, the quirks!
Read on for the answers. Warning, they're pretty long!

What do you get most out of blogging?

Initially, the biggest thing I got out of blogging was release - finally getting an opportunity to talk about things that have haunted me for several years. I wrote a lot about experiences in my former church, and it felt so good to finally get out. I wrote about things I hadn't admitted to anyone else, and this was very freeing. It also helped open a dialog with my husband about much of the stuff I'd been through, which until then he only seen fleeting glimpses. Once I started writing these things out in the open, I really think a huge amount of healing and closure finally began to happen. It was a huge thing, and a timely thing. I would be remiss if I didn't give Messy Christian props for encouraging me to take the step to start my own blog. I'd been spending lots of time at her blog, reading through similar experiences that she had. She inspired me to do the same, and I'm really thankful for that.

Since I started in November, I've had the fantastic opportunity to hear from and start to get to know some other wonderful folks out there who have been so kind and supportive. They're like my 'virtual church', at least I think of them that way. I love to read what they're up to, what they're struggling with or rejoicing over. Maybe virtual blog fellowshipping doesn't replace the real thing, but in some ways I think (some, maybe not all) bloggers do fellowship better! :)

what is your favourite gadget and why?

Hm, this one is probably a tie between my Macintosh PowerBook G3 and my iPod mini. Yes, we are Apple fanatics in the Feeble household, but let me tell you why. I spent about ten years in hi-tech working as a technical writer. My job entailed taking complex products (hardware and software) and writing all the lovely how-to instructions, troubleshooting guides, verification tests, release notes, and online help. I spent hours writing about products that were ill conceived, poorly designed, difficult to use, poorly constructed or incomplete. I once spent an hour arguing with an engineer about why it's probably not a good idea to leave two active options on a menu when they don't do anything. (To meet the ship date, those two particular commands weren't going to be finished. But he thought it was ok to leave the options on the menu, even though it would undoubtedly result in a zillion bug reports when users would invariably select the options, only to find nothing happens when they do.)

When a product was particularly hard to understand or use, the burden fell on documentation to explain it without bringing attention to the fact that the product had an obvious flaw or poor design. This is harder to do than you might think. Sometimes it couldn't be helped.

I did my best all the time to advocate for the user in my writing and in design meetings where I'd occasionally get a chance to point out potential difficulties with products. Sometimes what I had to say fell on deaf ears, sometimes it made a difference. As the years went on and I encountered both really bad software and really good software, I became convinced that a large majority of the computer industry was letting down its customer by selling inferior products at exorbitant prices and blaming the customer when he or she couldn't understand it or make it work. (This is especially true of enterprise software, but that's a rant for another day.) It's not fair, and I get pretty hepped up about it.

So about six years ago Mr. F (himself a software engineer) heard that Apple was developing a new operating system based on Linux. This got his attention and he was intrigued. After reading more about it, he decided to buy a G3 PowerBook in anticipation of the release of "OS X", as it is commonly called in shorthand. He got hooked. It was a big topic of conversation when we first met and started dating, about how everything in OS X just worked, and how elegant it was. Eventually Mr. F passed the PowerBook on to me, and it became my personal machine. After slogging through using Windows from version 3.1.1 to 95 to NT to XP, this was like a dream. It didn't crash. I could just plug in printers, a mouse, a scanner, and it just worked. No searching the web for and downloading drivers. No futzing around. No forced reboots. No viruses! (I still remember the entire weekend spent resurrecting my PC after getting hit by a Nimda variant. Luckily I was able to save most my data to an external drive before having to reformat the bugger and reinstall everything from scratch Grr.)

Once I got a quick tour of where everything was in OS X, it just made sense, it was intuitive to use. There was no pain or aggravation involved. I became a convert and a Mac devotee.

Last year Mr. F bought me an adorable 4GB gold iPod mini for my birthday. It doesn't have the capacity of his 40 GB iPod, but it's enough for me. After all, threw out most of my CD's in the mid-nineties because I'd signed a pledge when I became a member of my church that I wouldn't listen to secular music. I've been gradually rebuilding an eclectic collection of jazz, classical, folk, rock and alternative music via iTunes (which I believe is the best online music store out there, just my HO). I've filled up my mini iPod with great tunes that take me back to my childhood, inspire peaceful reveries, and give me a mental kick in the butt when I need to get jumpstarted on a project. I love the thing, I love its simplicity, its elegance, and its performance. Again, I could go on and on...

We are considering getting me an upgrade, because the six year old G3 has been a little under the weather as of late. We're considering either refurbished G5 iMac or a refurbished G4 14" iBook. I'm leaning toward the G5, but I'm still undecided. I just don't want to give up my lovely old G3!

What is one topic that will get you steamed up when people bring it up?

Oooh, there are so many! How on earth do I pick just one? LOL

Seriously. I have a big problem with false prophets and healers. Nothing will get me angrier faster than to see an obvious phony manipulating and deceiving an innocent believer.

Four years ago a friend died after two bone marrow transplants to treat aplastic anemia. Her physical struggle was only half her battle. She had to battle the anger, confusion and disappointment in God after the healing that a traveling evangelist promised her never materialized. I remember watching the man pray for her in our church, watching our pastors and the congregation. I remember the desperate, earnest prayers of this girl and her family. I remember that man standing there and lying in the name of God. I'll never forget it. They all believed him at his word. Shortly after that her condition worsened. She went into the hospital for her first bone marrow transplant. After being brought to the point of death, there was the slightest margin of hope. After months of isolation, she came home for a little bit. But she developed graft vs. host disease, meaning the graft failed. Then she had to go back in. Another transplant was scheduled, more massive doses of radiation were given and she hovered on the brink. That was in August. It was months of struggle after that.

I still have all the emails she sent me from the hospital. "Why is this happening to me?" "Why won't God heal me? Does He hate me? He must hate me to put me through this!" "I don't want to die!" I have the transcripts of instant messenger sessions where her mom frantically pleaded for blood donors to come and donate blood and platelets because her daughter was bleeding to death and the blood bank was running out of blood for her. I remember sitting shivering under blankets as the blood ran out of one arm, through a filtration device that collected my platelets, then back into the other. I remember blowing a vein, and feeling so terrible, like I'd let my friend down, feeling so helpless and crying. I remember sitting there in the hospital hating that man that prayed over my friend, who so carelessly proclaimed her healing. I prayed that somehow word would get to him that he had been wrong. But I knew it wouldn't.

Four years ago last week my friend finally went home to Jesus. No one will ever know the full story of her physical and spiritual battles that raged in an isolation chamber in a Boston hospital, of what was almost lost.

She is whole now. Now she is with Jesus forever, and her faith in Him will never again be shaken. She will never again doubt His love, or wonder whether He has abandoned her. She will never cower or cry in fear that she must have done something to bring His wrath upon her. She now knows face to face the Truth who set her free. No one will ever deceive her again. She is safe in the everlasting arms of her Lord.

Because of my friend and the pain and suffering she needlessly endured, the attack on her faith, I can never, ever allow a false prophet or healer go unchallenged. It's become a sort of personal mission to expose them when friends or family are in danger of being deceived. I understand today why false prophets were stoned to death in the Old Testament. To me, it speaks of how tremendous God's anger is at those who deceive weak and struggling ones like my friend.

You're having a baby! What names are you considering? ;)

You know it's been really hard to choose! We're having a very tough time with boys' names, so Murphy's law dictates that we'll probably have a boy and no name for him! Neither of us like fad names or "soap opera" names as we call them. We tend to be more traditional. I also feel strongly that a child should have a name they can grow into, one that will be dignified when they are fifty.

While we haven't really picked any yet, strong candidates include names like Charlotte, Veronica, Violet, Claire, Ann, Sarah and Norah. We like Paige, but unfortunately that's become a little too popular thanks to Paige Davis of TLC's Trading Spaces fame.

After the 2004 Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years back in October, we considered calling our firstborn son "Jason Curt David Derek Pedro Tim Bronson Keith Mike Alan Manny Trot Johnny Mark Orlando Bill Pokey Kevin Doug Gabe Roberts Ramiro Theo Larry Tom John Henry", but figured that might not all fit on the birth certificate. ;-)

Seriously, we haven't settled on a boy's name yet. Any suggestions?

Tell us about the place you live

I live in Massachusetts, a state reviled by many for various and sundry reasons. It's a strange place to be, and had I not been born here perhaps I wouldn't live here either. Geographically speaking, it has a lot to offer. I could hop in the car and in one to three hours be at the seashore or on a mountain or in downtown Boston. In less than thirty minutes from here is Lexington green, where the first shots of the American Revolution were fired, and Concord where the minutemen engaged in guerrilla tactics against the British. On my way to work I used to walk by the spot where Bostonians dumped tea into the harbor to protest taxation. This place is really the cradle of American history, and I love being so close to so many historic places.

We usually do not have earthquakes (well, at least not big ones). There are no tornadoes. Generally speaking, there's no really dangerous wildlife or poisonous bugs or snakes, which is always a plus in my book. Usually we do not get hit by hurricanes, though there have been some rare exceptions to this. OK, we can get a lot of snow. It snowed in excess of six inches twice last week, and that's getting pretty depressing. Snow is nice in December and January, but you get pretty sick of it by March. Oh, and it's been stupidly cold too, and stubbornly so. What I wouldn't give for a nice 40 degree Fahrenheit (8C) day! Hopefully by May the leaves will be out on the trees and we'll be enjoying some springlike weather. But you never know how it's going to go here. Sometimes it's 90 degrees F in April. Then it snows the first week in May. There's a saying here that if you don't like the weather, just wait a minute and it'll change. We prepare for anything.

Ideologically and politically, I am definitely the square peg in the round hole that is Massachusetts. It's notoriously liberal in every sense of the word. Thanks to the questionable doings of our state legislature, next year every Massachusetts voter will be faced with the decision to either a)approve of gay marriage or b)approve gay civil unions. The fact that the ballot question is being tailored in such a way that you cannot protest either one of these options if your conscience so dictates. If you don't vote, you're essentially condoning the legalization of gay marriage. If you vote for civil unions, you're still endorsing the legal recognition of behavior that as a Christian, you may or may not believe is sinful. More than the issue itself, I'm pretty upset at the way our representatives crafted this "legal compromise".

I've been pretty frustrated by a lot that goes on here politically. I never miss an election or a chance to have my say at the ballot box. While we may be considered liberal by most Red Stater's standards, we're pretty darn conservative by Massachusetts standards. There are a lot of people (most of my family included) who've left the state because of its high taxes and liberal philosophy, and they'll never come back. They usually flee north to New Hampshire, where they can buy cheaper houses and shop sales-tax free, but still commute to high-paying tech jobs in and around greater Boston.

Why do I stay here? Well, there's emotional attachment. I grew up here, it's familiar. I love everything that's available here - beaches, mountains, cities, museums, colleges (more per square mile than just about anyplace else), the best hospitals in the world, theatre, music, and lots of ethnic diversity. Messy Christian will be happy to know that along with all the Thai, Japanese, Cantonese, Szechuan, Indian, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Afghani, and Korean restaurants, that I have found at least one Malaysian restaurant so far in Cambridge, MA. So if she ever does get a chance to come visit, she'll be able to get some home cookin' ;-)

As a technical writer, there is still more job opportunities here than in neighboring states. For a while I made a good living working at several hi-tech firms in the area. The salaries were fantastic here, probably only companies in California paid comparably or higher than Massachusetts firms. When the tech bubble burst just after 9/11 though, many of us got laid off and times were pretty hard. Still, I stayed. Where else was I going to go? I was fortunate to have savings that augmented the unemployment checks that eventually ran out. I was even more fortunate to pick up temporary work three months after my layoff. Then that company folded, and it was another nine months of job hunting before something else came up. I think a lot of people left after that - left the state and left hi-tech. Mr. F was very fortunate and landed a new job pretty quickly after getting laid off briefly before we were married, but he's been steadily employed since then. For the most part, we are realistic about the fact that this really is the best place for us work-wise unless we wanted to relocate to Silicon valley (or Cupertino!), which neither of us want to do. We considered Seattle and the Pacific Northwest very briefly, but we decided we didn't ever want to take a chance that our kids might not grow up to be Red Sox fans.

(See, I didn't even go into our TWO, count 'em TWO champion sports teams - the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox. Man, it's a good time to be alive! ;)

When retirement age comes, or if public school policy becomes too ridiculous around here we may head for the hills of New Hampshire. We talk about it, but right now we're settled in a good house with a nice yard not too far from the NH border. We're grateful.

Wow, ok that was a bit more long-winded than I'd planned. I better post this thing or I'll keep adding to it. So much for being short and sweet! :)

Want to be Interviewed?

If you'd like me to interview you, post a comment below and I'll visit your blog. Then I will post five questions for you here at Feeble Knees. Answer the questions in a post on your own blog and link back to the question post. It's fun.

Thanks again to Messy Christian for taking the time to come up with some thought provoking questions. I didn't realize I'd go on for so long answering each!
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