Thursday, June 15, 2017

Social Media, Privacy, and “Telephone”

The popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, >insert the latest fad here< has changed the way we interact with one another.  There is an expectation of instant and constant access to everyone we have ever met, interacted with, had that one chance encounter with, and even those that we consider closest to us.  There is that veil of anonymity and safety from behind the keyboard or touchscreen device.  The perception is that we can say and share more than we would in person.  Why is that the expectation now?

People who really know me know that I am an extremely private person.  If you are one of my inner circle, I share most everything with you but otherwise I keep my inner thoughts, dreams, feelings, and decisions close to the vest.  There are many opinions as to why that is; whatever your opinion on that, it is my personality.  I rarely make a decision that isn’t well thought out, researched, and debated.  The fact that it is not made public until it happens doesn’t mean that it was impulsive or rash.  It simply means that it was not for public consumption until that moment.  It should not be taken personally; I have no malicious or nefarious intent.  It has been said that timing is everything.  There are a lot of things that go on behind the curtain, so to speak, that not everyone is aware of.  Perhaps there was a holiday and/or a vacation and it was deemed inappropriate to share until after.  Maybe there is a job involved that requires specific timing.  There could be a million different reasons that have nothing to do with hurting someone else; in my case, it’s usually quite the opposite.

Internet privacy is something I believe everyone should take more seriously.  I have seen a post where a friend of a friend of a friend shared their cell phone number on their wall.  Because a friend of mine liked it, I saw the post and thus had the cell phone number of a complete stranger.  I don’t know for sure but I would posit that the original poster didn’t intend for me to have their number.  Obviously I just ignored it however someone with a malicious intent could have used it (and anything else on the profile).  Employers have started to require that prospective (and sometimes current) employees accept a friend request so they can review their social media profile.  Everything you post is there for posterity, just ask the college football players who got in trouble for a stupid picture taken in high school!

Our family chose not to use social media to share pictures of our kid.  Everyone should make their own choice about that however we all should respect whatever choice is made.  We don’t believe a bunch of strangers (friends of friends of friends of…) have any business seeing our kid; again our choice and yours may be different.  We really didn’t want those pictures to be used by the less moral side of the population.  This is not a reflection on anyone we know personally just that we don’t know everyone down the chain of social media; especially since people have public profiles for their businesses that are tied to their personal profiles.  It can be a wonderful marketing tool, just don’t need our kid exposed to the world along the way.

The children’s game of “telephone” where one kid tells another kid a story and it gets passed on and on until the last kid hears the story.  The story the final kid hears is nothing like the original story.  Every kid that passes it along does so with their own understanding, emotion, bias, and narrative.  My point?  Well, if you haven’t heard something from me or my husband directly, it likely isn’t the true story.  We all add our own twist to things we have heard.  That is human nature; we always project our own perception on everything we hear and say.  The original message might be “new and exciting opportunities” but the message heard down the line might be “different although there were likely other opportunities”.  If you want to know why something happened in our lives, please ask me or my husband.  In the meantime, we would appreciate it if less people played “telephone” with our choices!  It will save a lot of heartache and misunderstanding in the future. 😁

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

(@MyBelief > @YourBelieve) == false

Life is made up of a collection of experiences and interactions with a variety of people in a multitude of places.  Throughout our lives we form opinions, values and ideals we live our lives by.  At least we try to live up to them although being human means we trip up at times.  What I find most perplexing is that people feel the need to invalidate those opinions, values and ideals if they are different from their own.

Religion is a hotbed for this kind of blanket dismissal of a dissenting view.  There is a perception that because someone believes something different, they are uninformed.  For instance, a person may not practice a mainstream religion, identifying as agnostic or atheist.  This does not automatically mean they have no knowledge of religion.  Likewise a person who has always practiced a specific religion does not automatically make them knowledgeable about the subject.  It could just as easily be quite the opposite.  In the quest to discover one's own beliefs, the atheist could, in fact, study a wide variety of beliefs, including religions, in order to make a more informed decision.  Why then would a "religious" person assume superior knowledge and dismiss the conflicting view out of hand?

I struggle mightily with those that believe their belief system is superior and right, thereby invalidating all others.  An article talking about how religious belief can cause believers to commit violence was recently posted.  The opinion was dismissed out-of-hand because the person posting it did not "practice religion" with the terse justification that "you should stick to things you know about".  Now I really have no idea about the amount of knowledge the person posting has or doesn't have however I do believe the person has formed a belief system that is valid to them.  The interesting thing to me was that the article clearly pointed out that acts of kindness can also be fostered from religious belief as well.  It did compare religious belief to alcohol consumption, which may or may not be a correlation you appreciate however I don't believe it invalidates the point trying to be made.  The following are excerpts:
"The human inclination toward peacemaking or violence exists on a continuum. Happy, healthy people who are inherently inclined toward peacemaking focus on sacred texts and spiritual practices that encourage peace.  Those who are bitter, angry, fearful or prone to self-righteousness are attracted to texts that sanction violence and teachers who encourage the same. People along the middle of this continuum can be drawn in either direction by charismatic religious leaders who selectively focus on one or the other."
"Despite the fact that violence is repeatedly endorsed in sacred texts, most Christians, Muslims and Jews never commit acts of violence in the service of their religion. Similarly, millions of people consume alcohol without insulting, hitting, kicking, stabbing or shooting anyone."
The article goes on to point out that while Islamic extremists are making the biggest headlines, there are acts against humanity being perpetuated by Christianity as well.  While a difference could be drawn that some of the Christian acts are sanctioned by laws in the countries of origin, that does not make them any less acts of violence performed in the name of a religion.  Taking the translation of a religious text literally can result in a sad outcome, no matter what religion is at the source.

"As Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity spread across Nigeria and Congo, thousands of children are being beaten or burned or disfigured with acid after being condemned by Christian ministers as “witches.”   After all, the American missionaries teach that the Bible is the literally perfect word of God, and the Bible says, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18)."
Having an opinion is just that, a single opinion.  The experiences we have collected, the people we have crossed paths with and the knowledge gained through study are all intertwined to form our "belief" system.  I have had the opportunity to interact with amazing people from all over the world with a wide variety of beliefs.  There are Christians (of all favors), atheists, Muslims, Buddhists and any number of other beliefs that I call friends.  While I may not "practice"  the same belief system, I can appreciate and respect their reasons for living their lives by their chosen beliefs and values.  They have also "informed" my belief system simply by providing opportunities to experience the differences and learn more.  I, personally, feel better for embracing those differences rather than dismissing them.  We all appreciate it when people listen to the reasons for our beliefs therefore we should return the favor.  After all, isn't one of the tenets of a popular world religion "do unto others as you would have done unto you"?

Here is the article in question so you to may form an opinion based on your beliefs:

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Super Experience

"It's time to start spreading the word - the Broncos are going to New Jersey!"

Justin and I had been quoted many times saying we would go to the Super Bowl if both of our teams made it.  I heard those words after the AFC Championship game and knew we had a great chance of just that happening.  The Seahawks made it interesting in the second game of the day, but with a timely defensive play that was their staple all season, they were the NFC Champions!  Now it was time to put our money where our mouths were - literally!

I began searching for tickets as soon as I received an email as a Broncos season ticket holder.  I had already booked airfare and hotel on the off chance it would happen after both teams secured the number one overall seeds (both reservations fully refundable so really no risk there).  This turned out to be one of the smartest decisions I made because we saved big on both.  Once I got home from practice (I had to "watch" the end of the NFC Championship on my phone), I purchased our tickets.  I cannot really put into words how excited we both were once everything was confirmed.

We fielded a ton of questions about who we each would be rooting for.  In case someone is still confused - I am a die hard Broncos fan and Justin is an avid Seahawks fan.  We are Broncos season ticket holders and Justin was a co-season ticket holder for the Seahawks.  There never was a question about the colors we would wear nor our relationship status after the game.  It is only a football game after all - even if it is the biggest stage!

We checked the weather (the number one topic before the game), made sure we had all the right layers and that our jerseys fit over said layers.  And yes, that last one was vital - have to rep our teams!  All was set and ready.  Then came that seemingly never ending two week break between the conference championships and the Super Bowl.

Early Friday morning we boarded a plane in Portland - final destination:  Newark, NJ!  I was wearing my Rod Smith jersey and decked out in orange and blue from head to toe.  Justin had on his Seahawks sweatshirt and was covered in blue.  Justin was on the receiving end of some heckling from a couple of 9-year-olds; they were really just Manning fans but it was kinda funny.  I got it from all sides as Portland (and probably most of Oregon) are 'Hawks fans.  It was certainly good for some laughs!

Once we arrived in Newark, the Super Bowl  craziness began as soon as we walked through security.  Hand warmers with SB48 logo and pocket map of Times Square, host of the Super Bowl Boulevard.  We grabbed a Super Shuttle into Manhattan and 2 hours later we arrived :)  The cross country flight, even leaving at 6am, left us arriving right during the heart of rush hour traffic.  It is amusing, at least as a passenger, to watch all of the cars going everywhere.  One of the other passengers actually "ducked" as we went by a truck in the other lane!  I love Manhattan - all of the traffic and constant activity!

As soon as we checked into the hotel, we headed for Times Square and Macy's.  We wanted to get the souvenir/gift shopping out of the way before we really immersed ourselves in all of the festivities.  That turned out to be somewhat of a mistake - the crowds were insane.  Crowd mentality is just not good but it was cool to be down there and part of everything.  The Macy's Super Bowl store was huge and very cool.  We took a few pictures and found most of the items we wanted.  We grabbed "a slice" and headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest.

Saturday morning we headed out to "experience" the Boulevard - in opposing QB jerseys.  It was much less crowded and enjoyable.  We tried to get toboggan ride tickets however they were almost sold out with probably 2000 people in line ahead of us.  On to the next experience which was taking pictures of all the cool mannequins at Macy's and finding lanyards for our tickets.  While there, we decided to have our picture taken with helmets and have MetLife Stadium added to the background.  Here we encountered our first 2 minutes of TV air time.  Justin was joking with people in the line that "he got me to change my name but not my colors".  This prompted the Denver Fox station to ask if they could interview us.  It turns out we ended up on the local broadcast!  People loved our divided house and we had fun playing it up with people all over Manhattan.  We stood in line to kick an extra point.  Okay, so really we just attempted to kick it - it is much harder than it looks!

We made reservations at an upscale restaurant for dinner Saturday.  After a power walk back to the hotel, we shed our colors for dress attire.  I even took off the orange and blue eye shadow for a few hours!  Ai Fiori (Italian for among the flowers) turned out to be fabulous.  We opted for the 4 course menu and it was well worth the 2 1/2 hours we spend dining.  The food was melted in our mouths and we would highly recommend it!

Sunday, well Sunday was Super Sunday!  We turned on the pre-game shows and started our own pre-game preparations.  I had purchased a long, orange wig just for the occasion.  By the time I finished the "Broncos" makeup and donned the wig, I was well on my way to epic fan status.  I had chosen a white Decker jersey for game day.  Justin suited up in his "usual" gear with a minor swap to his Wilson jersey.  The weather was fantastic - I didn't even need my coat as my base layers were warm enough.

A stop at burger joint, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant inside one of the hotels, was next up on game day.  The burgers were good and actually cooked to order.  The highlight though of the stop was sitting less than 4 feet from John Travolta as he was pitched a movie.  I totally wanted to geek out and get a picture of him but he was clearly trying to have a conversation in peace.  He said hello to Justin on his way out.  Of course, then he got stopped by several people asking for pictures.  He was gracious however you could tell he wasn't really into it.  Obviously Manhattan is a chock full of celebrities and we saw several throughout the weekend however this was a cool experience because it wasn't at an event or expensive restaurant; just him being an average Joe.

Okay, so back to the main event!  On to the bus ride to the stadium.  They actually closed down the streets of NYC to allow the buses direct and easy access all the way there.  It was a quick 20 minute ride and then we were there.  MetLife Stadium and Super Bowl XLVII!  We arrived about 4 hours before game time so we would have time to take everything in.  We stood in line to get our picture taken with the Lombardi trophy (and met some Jets season ticket holders who were very cool).  We listened to live bands and music.  We debated face painting until we saw the sub-par results!  I was interviewed by E! TV because they loved team spirit - apparently everyone thought my wig was my actual hair!  Then we headed for our gate and realized that Eli Manning was greeting fans and taking pictures with them.  He actually shook the hand of and spoke to every person who came on stage.  Sadly, they cut the line off just before I made it up!  I grabbed a great picture of him anyway.  Say what you will, the Mannings are a classy family.

We climbed up to our seats in the upper decks.  Although we were high in the sky, we could see the entire field really well.  We found our "Warm Welcome" packs on the seats - seat cushions, receiver hand muff, ear muffs, gloves, hand warmers, radio, lip balm, tissues and a halftime show beanie.  We took tons of pictures as warm-ups and pre-kick hoopla.  During the coin flip, we shook hands with a smile.  Then the ball kicked off and we both preceded to cheer (read: scream) our heads off in support of our respective teams.

While the game didn't turn out as we expected, as in a close game that was contested right up until
the final ticks on the clock, it was so much fun.  The halftime show with Bruno Mars was fantastic - we were part of it with our LED beanies!  The weather was gorgeous - I literally only put on my winter coat after the game just so we didn't have to carry it.  We even got to see some of the commercials on the big screens!  The trophy presentation was in the far end zone but facing us so we could see it.  Confetti rained down on us even in the third level.  My beloved Broncos did not win the game (and honestly didn't even play very well), but Justin was ecstatic to see his Seahawks bring home the Lombardi for the first time in franchise history, in person!  And we have everything on our DVR so we can relive it all again at home...

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Journey to Family: Foundations

Holy information overload, Batman - my brain might just explode! We completed 20 hours of Specials Needs Adoption Foundation training in less than 48. It was an emotionally and mentally intense weekend.

Imagine you are 8 months old and you have already had 10 broken bones. Imagine that one of those breaks could only have occurred by someone twisting your tiny arm as if wringing out a towel. Now picture that you are two years old and thriving in a stable, loving household today.  Your journey to a family is complete, although the healing and recovering will take years.  I can't even begin to wrap my head around that and yet the daughter of one of the panel families experienced just that.

Adopting a child or children from the foster care system is going to be both a rewarding and very challenging experience.  We feel much better informed about the path we have chosen and feel good about our decision for "special needs" adoption to be our Plan A.  The main message we received is that it will be a very long process and we will likely get our hopes up a number of times before we are placed with our forever child or children.

One of the topics I discovered the most surprising was the idea of a trans-cultural adoption.  I was not surprised by the option, simply by the conceptions around it.  I guess it is because we have such a diverse community of friends at I view it as a very low priority on the list of things these children are facing.  We are discovering that Portland, while progressive in many ways, is not very diverse.  I find that quite surprising as it is a coastal town similar to Seattle and San Francisco which are both quite diverse.  Whatever the case may be, we are very thankful for our wonderful and diverse community!

We met some great people over the course of the weekend, which is exciting.  We know that we are going to be adding an another community to our world - one filled with potential and post placement adoption families.  It is exciting to see that there are going to be people with similar interests, outside of the obvious.

Now on to more classes and the dreaded home study!  We have heard rumors it is something like 150 open ended questions that we each have to answer separately followed by all kinds of checks and interviews.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Holidays and Ben & Eileen's Visit

It's has been a busy 6+ months for us here in Hawai'i, at least that's what I am going to use as our excuse for so much time between our posts!  We got to experience our first holiday season in the sun as well as having the pleasure of hosting Ben and Eileen for a little over a week.  We also tried to fit some work and school in there as well. ;)

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday with some friends who also moved to the islands for the project.  It was a lot of fun to hang out with new friends, even if it was a little odd to sit on the lanai overlooking the ocean.  We consumed all the traditional foods as well as some tasty treats like pulled pork!  A little bit of football was on however it took a backseat to  games and conversations with new friends.  It was a lovely afternoon.

Christmas was refreshingly quiet and peaceful.  We hung out at our house with the pup, watching football and basketball.  We barbequed pork on our outdoor grill, with all the windows opening and sitting in our shorts on Christmas Eve.  That was a little surreal and definitely a first for both of us.  We opened the mountain of presents that our family sent our way; we are truly blessed.  Christmas was spent watching the start of the NBA season, cooking a mini turkey and homemade apple pie and scruffing the dog!  Absolutely wonderful although we missed our family and friends.

We also celebrated Justin's birthday - the end of the year/beginning of the new year bring lots of celebrations for us!  We went on a mission to find a great steak, something that is rather elusive here on the islands.  We settled on Ruth's Chris and it did not disappoint.  Perhaps the most fun food of the evening was the flaming strawberry dessert they served Justin as a birthday "cake".  We will be going back for sure!

At the end of January, Ben and Eileen came to escape the Seattle winter and spend some time with us.  They were happy to have some sun and heat after leaving the snow in Seattle!  They drove up to the North Shore a few times, went on some hikes and just relaxed while we went to work and school.

On Saturday we decided to venture out on a catamaran and go see some humpback whales.  The waves were also going to be pretty cool as a storm was moving in although the truly huge waves showed up 2 days later.  As you can see by the pictures, it was an amazing day.  We saw more whales than we could keep count of!  It was spectacular and Justin was able to capture several on film.  I also took a couple of videos that turned out pretty cool although the triplets screaming in excitement in the background was a little much! :)

Justin will have his ACL surgery on Monday, February 6th and will have him out of commission for the short term.  He is hoping that by the summer visit to the mainland he will be back on his feet and maybe even playing some basketball!  He is in his second semester and enjoying being a student.

I am working crazy hours for the short term in order to try to play catch-up from losing the 2nd software engineer in November.  I am also ramping up my training in preparation for the 70.3 Ironman race I'm competing in June 2nd.

We hope this finds everyone well and surviving the winter weather on the mainland.  Lots of love from Mililani!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Home, Sweet Home!

We are mostly moved into our new home in Hawai'i.  Our household goods finally arrived on the 14th September, closing the door on our stay at the Hilton Kuhio hotel.  I have to admit that 43 days in a hotel gets very, very old - even at a nice hotel like the Hilton.  The good news is we have a ton of reward points so our honeymoon should be covered!  :)

Our new house has not been without it's ups and downs.  We had our DirecTV installed only to have a rather large Hawaiian man fall *through* the top step of our first flight of stairs.  Less than optimal experience; the guy said he was okay which we were thankful for.  Now, 3 weeks later we still don't have our stairs completely fixed but at least they are safe(r) now.

We have also made some new friends with the local wildlife.  We have our fair share of ants, cockroaches and other less desirables, however we also have some happy little geckos to help with the insect population.  They are all over the place and super cute - we are happy to give them a home in our yards!

Our first furniture to be moved in was a patio furniture set and a gas grill.  The grill was a gift from Justin's grandma and we absolutely love it!  Being thrifty shoppers, we were able to get the upgraded model when all the grills went on sale for Labor Day weekend.  We invited over a few of my co-workers and their families to christen the new grill on Labor Day - it was fun although with no (other) furniture our options after lunch were a little limited.

Now that we have the furniture, we are trying to fill the 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom townhouse.  We probably could have brought the contents of both storage sheds and still had space to spare!  Our living room is completely done, including Ben's (Justin's dad) artwork on the walls.  The office and kitchen are mostly done as well.  It is a work in progress and will likely take another couple of weeks before we are totally out of boxes.

Justin is going to give his green thumb a test run.  We picked up an orchid for our dining room table as well as another big, tropical plant for our game room.  He is working on getting a palm going in our backyard - hopefully we'll be nice and green soon!  We are also hoping to plant a "window box" garden to help save some money on food.

Overall we are very excited to be in our new home and starting this next chapter of our life.  We miss our family and friends on the mainland however we are making new friends here on island.  It's a beautiful place to live and we'll be posting more pictures as we explore!

em and justin

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Knot Tied!

May the merriment begin (or continue)!  Justin and I were married by the justice of the peace in an intimate ceremony on July 19th.  We wanted to begin our lives together before the big move to Hawai'i, so we asked our best man, Kris, and maid of honor, Robin, if they would join us at the courthouse.

The evening started off with a little more excitement than we had planned.  Cera (the Xterra) chose the drive to the courthouse to throw a radiator house.  Luckily we weren't far from the apartment, so we turned around and jumped in Ruby Sue (Robin's ride).  With Justin and I navigating, Robin swiftly motored us through downtown Seattle to make the appointment on time.  There were a couple of tense moments when we were stuck in traffic and not sure we would make it there on time.  No worries, all was well.

The three of us trooped upstairs and checked in.  Kris was stuck in a bit of traffic as well, so he met us a few minutes later.  The judge came and took Justin and I back for some pre-ceremony details.  She went through the basics of the ceremony with us and asked us if we had a preference on inside or outside.  It was sprinkling, so we choose inside - which turned out to be a lovely room with a (normally) beautiful view.

We went back to the reception area and Kris and Robin rejoined us to go upstairs.  I didn't actually know what to except from the ceremony; I honestly thought it would be dry, quick and rather impersonal.  It turns out that doing wedding ceremonies is apparently the highlight of a judge's day, so they try to make it special.  It was lovely with a thoughtful narrative before the vows, another one after and then the kiss followed by the pronouncement.  I can't wait to see the video Kris took so I can really hear what she was saying.  I have to admit that I was a bit on the nervous side - not about marrying Justin but about expressing my feelings publicly.  Good thing we got to practice on the real one so I won't be as nervous in front of all of our friends and family next year!  :)

Afterward, all four of us made a wish with pennies in the wishing pool next to the courthouse.  Seattle's courthouse is very modern, with black marble steps and reflecting pools.  It's a pretty building but certainly doesn't conjure up the typical image of a courthouse building.

Robin, Justin and I headed to Ray's for our celebration dinner.  Kris and Christina had already planned to go camping and wanted to beat the rain and darkness.  We got to show Robin where we would be holding the public ceremony next year as well as taste test the food.  I can never get enough of Ray's food - it's lovely.

It was a wonderful night and I'm so excited to be Mrs. Justin Paul!!  Now on to moving to Hawai'i and a new set of job responsibilities :)