Learning Digital Accessibility the Hard Way

Not all of my music is on iTunes. I actually still own CDs. Considering they are still sold, this is not a horrible thing. It’s probably worse, however, because in my last move I ended up getting rid of my CD player and my netbook doesn’t yet have a USB DVD/CD drive. Conundrums. The solution to either of these concerns would be my either buying the right drive for my computer and burning it all onto iTunes and getting back into “the modern era” or simply finding a CD-player. They can’t have gone the way of DVD-VCR players which are more expensive than regular DVD players.

I used some CDs to DJ a dinner via a laptop last week. Obviously, I’m not a professional DJ, and I don’t have a ton of music. I only buy CDs when I realize that I really like the majority of tracks on the album, and even then- I refuse to become a hipster. Knowing off labels and things of that sort is not that important to me. I like pop, I like radio, and I shop at Walmart when needed. Please don’t sue me.

After finishing the DJ-ing gig (I also organized the event and wow… a LOT of work with an incredibly helpful crew), but I simply brought the CDs home in a plastic Ziploc bag. Didn’t have time to put them away yet. They were next to my nightstand but on the floor. One false drop of a cell phone from on top of my scriptures on my nightstand, and *sadness* a CD that is currently only useful to keep birds away from clean window-doors. A nasty chip out of the CD rendered it completely useless.

This is not a CD that I bought, but one that was originally part of a collection and I am uncertain whether I can replace it. I am now missing Fresh Aire V by Mannheim Steamroller. I have the other Fresh Aire’s in that collection and grew up listening to them during homework besides other classical music, soundtracks, and mainly songs without lyrics when studying. Allowed me to supply my own words while reading and to numb/dumb out the music as background noise. Maybe that is part of why it’s been hard for me to get homework done in really quiet environments. I don’t need music, exactly. I need people around and background noise is fine. White noise puts me to sleep, but background noise helps depending on the level of sound involved.

I actually hadn’t listened to these CDs since my Mom died. The music that I listened to when I was growing up has a lot of memories attached. They’re not bad memories, but the fact that life will NEVER be like that again makes it hurt. Avoiding pain when possible sometimes, I own the CDs, but I do not play the music unless it is useful to someone else.

Having that CD break reminded me of the transitory nature of physical items. The past two years have seen an analog backlash to the digital “permanent/transitory” dialogue regarding accessibility and preservation. Both sides have reasons favoring them, and each have equal detractors. We want the best of both worlds, and sometimes it simply does not work out. Not everything lasts forever when it is made of elemental matter. Few things last more than a fleeting twitch or twinkle of the eyes. Anymore, the only things that have the bulwark and gumption to last are things that some people consider intangible. Or else their tangibility sometimes feels like a dream as so much in this life comes and goes without making a dent.

The real issue is the fragility of civilization and people afraid to lose it in the midst of extreme circumstances like perpetual war. I hope that I can find another copy of that CD, or I may break down and buy more stuff (erg!) and continue to try to move forward. It’s a nasty battle which wages for those with historical-technologically inclined minds.

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Ask the Missionaries: They Can Help You

During General Conference in October, Elder Nelson mentioned repeatedly in his talk: Ask the missionaries. They can help you. I was watching conference at my Church building and the missionaries for my general area sat a few rows ahead of me. While watching them, they were okay with the things that Elder Nelson was asking them to help with, excepting family history.

Although it is a commandment that people in my Church work on knowing who their ancestors are, the vast majority of Church members that I have come across know almost nothing about the topic. There is not a lot of training  on the topic beyond essentials, at least in the U.S. Outside of the Church, genealogy is a hot topic, and receives much attention. It was not a surprise to watch the sisters look at each other in a mild amount of fear when Elder Nelson asked the missionaries to help with people finding their ancestors. Sister missionaries can range in age but until recently, they were typically in their early twenties. Few people in their twenties are very concerned about their ancestors unless there is a direct need to be so interested such as the death of a loved one.

I became interested in family history (genealogy) when I was a child, and work with the field both inside and outside of the Church with friends and colleagues. It was my Bachelors degree major.

So, I gave the sisters my number to train them in basics. For our first meeting, the computers at the family history center were down. While a little frustrating, that did not stop things very long. We re-scheduled for today, and we ended up meeting at a McDonald’s with wifi near my neighborhood although in their area, and started looking up their family information.

Neither of the sisters knew what to expect. The first sister was pretty shocked when she saw that her ancestors enmeshed with our Church’s historical movements. Some family members were active members, while others went back and forth. However, by the end she knew that the stories she heard were real. She saw what information the Church had on her ancestors in live-time, and saw where the history and her family worked with each other. I gave her explanations as we went to help her see the context of what was happening around the dates in her family’s life.  The dates and places were enough to see that there were multiple stories happening that tied her directly into historical events with which she was familiar but were not real until she saw them on the page.

She took a lot of notes and her eyes bugged out regularly.

For the second sister, she had more questions about modern issues and had other effects where it was unclear what was happening and how things came together but there were still complicated twists and turns in her family’s history. She knew more about her family’s background to start, and in her case it was less of a dramatic unfolding.

Going back to the first sister, I wanted to make sure that she knew that her background was epic. While the first place where we left off was not exactly the happiest, by the end of it she was able to see people who made it through, people who were obviously determined, down to children who made it through when both parents were dead by the age of six. They found their way to being great people. She knew very little about her family’s background coming into our meeting but left with an intense amount of knowledge about herself and her family’s efforts going step by step through Church history starting (in her case) in 1839. Watching the knowledge and paradigms shift was fun.

For me, it was just fun to work with these sisters. I could see that the information whelmed the first sister, but when they were all done, they knew that they could be asked by Church members or others and either help them themselves or knew where the resources were. They also learned that there was a lot more to family history than that they previously understood, including seeing their roles in it. It was a grand afternoon.

I appreciated being able to help, and felt that this was important. One of the sisters will soon be transferred, but they both know more about themselves and their history now. I hope that it made a positive impact and didn’t rock their worldviews out of creation. After a bad week, this was a great thing to be able to help. Now I hope that they can pass it along.

Pressure

Last night, someone asked me if I was happy with what I was up to: two Masters, trying to find a new job, being super-busy with Church stuff, and otherwise under a lot of pressure. My answer didn’t really sound that good. I want to be obedient to God and because of that, I don’t expect immediate happiness. That just sounds bad. It seems like the point of doing all of this stuff is becoming happy, and I don’t remember what it’s like to be happy. I can remember gratitude, but at the same time I’m trying not to panic every second of the day.

Having problems isn’t really going to change. Everyone has issues, whether they’re health-related, whether it’s employment or family or school or relationships or whatnot. Some of the problems get solved, and a lot don’t. At least not in ways that are convenient or otherwise things that are “nice and fluffy.” There’s no puppy or reward for completing some of these issues. New problems come up to replace the old ones. While I like being a problem-solver, the solutions that I see to the problems are things that I can’t do anything about.

Maybe my worldview actually isn’t that bad. I do everything that I know to do, and I have faith in grace. I try to have a lot of patience because my life is non-ending pressure, and there isn’t adequate outlet for it. I don’t know anyone who is happy-go-lucky all the time. Attitude does have a lot to do with it, however.  Everywhere I go, I’m expected to be an example of my belief system. To literally live my religion as well as I can. People have perceptions of those in my religion that could be anything, and a favorable impression is the best thing that we can do.

We don’t persecute others and wish not to be persecuted. I feel sorry for politicians who ascribe to my belief system as politics is non-ending catfights and sorrow. I love peace, quiet when wanted, and a time to dance in positive manners when possible also.

Anything that isn’t perfectly in accordance with my belief system in my life makes me upset. This isn’t necessarily about other’s actions very often, but about my actions. Of late, there are myriad examples of things are not in perfect accord but all of them require things that are not under my control to correct them. I have built my own puddles and walls but I don’t own ladders and don’t have bridges. There is honestly no way that I can save myself (ha. not possible to save yourself, no, but wanting to make up for things- that is where I fall flat on my face and break my nose no matter how much I want to repent.) Saying that you’re sorry often is not enough on these things. It is paying things back bit by bit. I just don’t have the ability to do so now. That is the reason that I want a job besides paying bills.

It feels like the math concept where a line can get so close to zero, but never quite gets there. I feel frustrated that I will never get where I need to should be. Although I am grateful for where I’ve gotten so far, all that I can ever see is where I am insufficient and it compounds when looking at the different aspects of life. I see all of my errors and how I don’t have ways of fixing them. Some of these errors have been around for a while. While none of them bar me from participation in religious activities, I’m sick of having my soul eaten up by acidic pain, remorse, or guilt over things that I would change in an instant had I ability.

It’s like looking at the homeless people when going on or coming off highways or at major intersections and seeing their signs and not being able to do anything about it because of being on low fuel and not having cash or otherwise ability to do anything. I don’t care whether someone did things to get to the point where they’re at. Who hasn’t? God doesn’t look at someone and says, “Oh, you did this to yourself. I’m not helping you.” He looks at them, shows compassion, and helps them get to a better place: training or something else that changes people and helps them toward a better life. I desperately want to be better and to be clear, and it’s not happening. Prison isn’t just for cell inmates. I talk to God a lot, and He doesn’t bug me about the things that I haven’t been able to change. I think that He knows that I know them well and want to fix them and don’t have a clue how to do it currently besides what I’m already trying. I typically come back with more things to do, and my feet feel bashed because I don’t see how I can get them done when I need to get these things done…somehow.

When you’re capable, it seems like you become more alone. People expect more of you, and sometimes you have extremely kind friends who help you get from A to B, but most of the time expectations are that you will figure it out for yourself. That you will do something that will save yourself, or that you won’t mess up or somehow that you will see any or all dangers and not make any mistakes. Nothing will really get to you; somehow you’re superhuman. That is RIDICULOUS thinking. It sets an extremely unfair double standard on people and makes it close to impossible to recover. The world is a very cruel, cold, lonely, bitter place.

So, all of those judgements, whether they come from others (often the case), or come from internal sources (people usually tell me that I’m too hard on myself, but I figure that it’s better me being hard on myself versus someone else being hard on me- beat them to the punchline, as it were), it’s a LOT of pressure. Saturday and yesterday, besides asking whether or not I was happy, I had people who told me that I needed to de-stress. I would if I could, but I can’t, so… I can’t. I am responsible for myself. I have extremely good friends who are kind and thoughtful, but the only person putting me first is me. And that doesn’t work out that well, either. There’s only so much self-talk that a person can do to feel better, work harder, or otherwise keep going. I do believe in infinite capacity and that God can do miracles and all. I just wish that they came before I was literally falling head-first at the ground and I can’t see anything to catch me.

The falling head-first without security is how I have felt starting in 2005, but was more apparent after 2008. But that’s when everyone lost security and safety. 9/11 was the beginning of restrictions in the name of safety, but trying to be a good person, trying to pay bills, and advance in life feels like trudging through the swamp in the Never-Ending Story where it’s just almost too depressing for words. Governments are destroying themselves, laws are passed that give no one any rights and take rights away, and people are dying more often now than before no matter what kinds of medical breakthroughs attempt to extend life longer. My generation is not doing better than my parent’s generation even though their generation expects it and says there is something wrong with us if that isn’t happening immediately.

I miss being part of a family. Miss a support system that kept me safe. I was brought up so well, and I received such an incredible education. My home life was amazing, but there were definitely flaws, most of which I didn’t know until I was out of the house. Now, my generation feels lost. We want to hold to something. Anything with a feeling of permanence to it. I’m a little surprised that anyone gets married anymore, even though I definitely believe in marriage and people having families.

I see other people who can figure it out (jobs, families, progression in life), and on one side wonder either what’s wrong with me, or else what can I do to change things? (meaning changing myself, not wanting to change them.) That’s about the time when I put my faith back in the tool belt and keep on walking because I can still walk and I don’t know what else to do. If I was sick in addition to my current maladies, I think I’d break. I may be sick, but I haven’t been able to get to a doctor for a long time and I do my utmost to try to stay at least symptomatically-healthy. There may be worse things going on, but I literally can’t afford to find out right now.

Guess there’s one thing left to do at that point. When at the end of the rope, make a knot, and hold on tight. I have nothing left but faith, and maybe an Internet connection if I can pay the bill.

Best to all,

GenealogyDr

Something Different

It’s good to meet people who appear calm, whether or not they are.

This morning I was praying and doing scripture study and asking God why men? Not as in needing to continue the species, and I don’t swing towards females in that sense. I’m working HARD on personal employment, education, betterment in whatever way it may be. Tonight at Institute I saw someone who simply looks grounded. It was nice to see anyone who is stable in the midst of the true chaos that is all around. Ideals and beliefs are literally mocked, disregarded, or otherwise treated as items of nought on a regular basis. I’m not sure whether it is simply advertising, media, or actual beliefs. Core beliefs for society should be family, religion or world belief, and then community.

Hearing a calm, honest, real voice was good.

I’m scrappy. A feisty little Scottish descendent, I’m a  bit of a whirlwind. At least, according to a few friends. I am the “duck”: calm on the surface and paddling furiously underneath. Strong testimony, burning, bright, and otherwise wanting to be straightforward about life.

This morning, God said that I needed a man for stability, honor, two other virtues [friendship, trust, hope], and patience (and kindness.) I wrote them all down, but this is what I can remember from this morning [this stuff was added later when looked up]. There is no concrete, obvious, or actual correlation between the calm person and the virtues, but on days when otherwise every other hope is gone, it was nice to see one bright spot in life.

Listening to the news on the way over here in the car, it was depressing. Life doesn’t look bright. Hearing the calm guy was nice. He spoke, and peace came over the group. The voice wasn’t loud (although it carried far enough), it was deep but not distracting, and the points made were simply beautiful. So that was good. He was new, and I hope that he comes back. Class was good as usual: real-life, truthful, no varnish required. When it was done, things worked out.

I don’t have time to have expectations that may not materialize. That would be too much and not necessary for now. I may never see the Calm Guy again. But, being grateful for the existence of people like that is good. People who are grounded, strong, who have gospel expectations and don’t make a big, showy fuss about it. Real people who are doing their utmost to be good. Here’s to something or someone different. Positive people who help me smile when otherwise I know how hard it is to survive in life, who allow me a chance to use hope. Thanks, to the Calm Guy who showed up today and helped me remember how to smile.

Best to All,

GenealogyDr

Observations on Faith

I am definitely Christian, and I go to two Catholic schools. I like studying in a very quiet and picturesque reading room that was the old library at one of my schools. The reading room adjoins a chapel.

Considering my undergrad institution: while it may look more utilitarian in the rooms, all of them are used as chapels and Sunday School rooms and similar on Sundays and for other Church activities and meetings during the week in addition to regular classes during the week, without regular classes held on Sundays. Growing up, I was used to my religion and I learned history enough to see divisions and splits in other religions and just to watch what happened in the developments of other churches over time. Call it the “change over time” principle espoused by traditional historians.

I know that there are some people who are active in their beliefs, and others who don’t care at all. Since I am open to hearing anyone’s beliefs, I seem to know a lot of people who are atheists talking to me on a regular basis. I am respectful, but it is wearing as they try to convert me to their viewpoint without exception. My generation is not known for their religious conviction, but for turning away from religion in many cases. Sitting in my study room, there is an open mass happening nearby. The inter-faith room is also close by, inhabited regularly by students of Muslim background. My guess is that some of the other people studying in my reading room have that background, from looking around.

I was caught off-guard yet pleased when I found out last week that a friend was not attending class due to a Jewish high holy day. Honestly, that’s cool. My current colleagues in my department at my other school are also really open when it comes to being cool with religion, and although no one else has said anything, my religion became known and they’re nice and accommodating.

Today, I wonder about Catholicism. Doesn’t hurt that an attractive male walked into the mass. Although dressed in normal campus clothes, he tapped into the basin of holy water and knelt down to cross himself before entering the chapel. He’s the youngest person I saw walk in there and he seems to know all of the outward actions of the mass. Appears to be a “good Catholic” which is what I’m guessing they call people who are orthodox. I’m not sure, though.

People being orthodox in their religious faiths is something that I admire. Usually, they’re nicer and more open than people who are trying to get me to think otherwise, despite mass media interpretations of everyone of faith being dogmatic disciplinarians without senses of humor who are more likely to kill you than consider you as a person.

It’s not cool to be religious, but I find it useful and helpful for my life. Not as a crutch, ever, but as something that helps me be myself. I do believe in God. I believe in Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, and the Holy Ghost. My beliefs are not the same as the kid sitting in that chapel on some of the finer points of practice, but I admire and respect a kid who at least attempts showing up to church. Few people do so. It’s not entertainment, but it is cause for celebration. I may never know his name or anything about him other than that he exists and that he went to mass on a Wednesday, but I am glad that he showed up today.

Best to all from

GenealogyDr

Notes on Reading: Blogging Commentary on Readings for DIGH400

I find it easier to write blog posts versus conventional notes a) because I want to add more content to my blog, and b) because otherwise I can’t keyword search my notes and I need that ability. At this point, I don’t care that this blog is public. My notes may be wrong in approach to thoughts and theories, but the subjective or relative aspects of the process allow me the open dialogue effect. That, and if I am not allowed to somehow give feedback or process the materials, I may go mad. I like having new ideas (or old ideas that I don’t realize I’m re-hashing) and I want to write them down somewhere. Hence, another divergence to this blog.

I hope that this helps me get my reading done as I can write and read simultaneously this way. Suddenly, I think that I need either a Kindle or Nook to aid in reading what is required and then typing up my notes and annotations of the same. Unfortunately, I cannot do a split screen on this netbook. That would make my life easier. That, and the ability of removing the booksmarks line and replacing it with my tabs. I don’t need to see bookmarks. Rarely use them unless akin to in an Archival mode. I need my tabs, however. Here’s to examining the way that I study at the same time as studying.

Testing 1, 2, 3

A place for trying out css and xhtml.

I want to see what happens to this blog when trying to use newly-learned css skills and this is one place where I can attempt things on a small scale.

 

Thus, this is a trash post.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, sir.

Attempting font styles, pictures, and other things in a mock layout environment. Thanks for your patience! New blogs to follow.