Fear Of Whales

Archive for September, 2011


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You’ve obviously heard the bad news.

No, Not the unrest in Libya, not the genocide in Myanmar, not Zimbabwe with it’s insane inflation rate. Nobody cares about that stuff

I mean the BAD news.

Facebook has once again slightly changed its layout!

I know. I know. It’s difficult. But you’ll get over it.


.. No I lied. It’s not difficult actually. It’s the opposite of that. The service you use for free just gave you a free upgrade. the product is now better, and you are clinging to the memories of an imagined past. Facebook has made consistent improvements since it’s inception, and each one successively has been regarded with scorn, followed by indifference, followed by unspeakable loyalty resulting in a feeling of betrayal when it is changed again.

This is what Facebook used to look like.


When they changed it from this, I was a part of the conservative holdout. They wanted to remove the exclusivity and allow profiles to everybody (including my mom) instead of just college students.

I was convinced at the time that this would lead to uncontrollable spam and alter the Facebook culture in a way it could never recover from. And it’s not like the world needed another general audience social network, we already had MySpace! 

Well now, having graduated college years ago, still logging onto facebook every day I’m pretty happy Mark Zuckerburg didn’t listen to me on that one.

The next revolt concerned the new addition of a horrible feature everybody hates called “the wall” which has at this point completely eclipsed profiles s the reason you log onto facebook. I mean who actually browses around their friend’s “info” pages for fun anymore?

then they subjected us to apps.. which was of course, awful…. Except for the good ones…But there was this learning curve whereby we had to learn to block the apps that were abusive, and before we figured how to do that we got a lot of Farmville Requests. Like, a lot.

And then Chat. Everybody hates chat still right?


You always think that the last version of Facebook was the “good version” but you keep forgetting that that’s what you said about the last version before that.

We do the same thing with the world. Where we get upset every time there is a starlet who is famous for no reason or a school shooting we wish it could all be like it used to be. But we fail to ask the important question “When was that?”

People talk about the 50’s like that was a golden age when men were men and women new their place. Actually the consensus in the 50’s was that women had become altogether too uppity following the war when they had been permitted to hold jobs, and were starting to think they were equal to men. Black men could not use the same bathrooms as white men, other races were parodied or not acknowledged at all and everyone lived in fear of nuclear annihilation by the reds (unless the polio got us first)

Prior to that we had the war (and the holocaust)

Before that was the great depression

And the “roaring 20s” remembered as a time when young Americans hung out at Coney Island, forgotten for having invented organized crime.

Go any farther back than that and you die of food poisoning before the publication of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”


I for one say we should all sit back, relax, and enjoy the present as it turns into the future one day at a time. Clinging to yesterday wouldn’t help bring it back even if yesterday was better.

…and it wasn’t



… Seriously what the hell was “random play”?

Written by RyanGaffney

September 22nd, 2011 at 4:42 am

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I was talking to a student tonight and invited him to out bible study.

“Oh, I’m already going to a bible study tonight”

Oh Cool, With your church?

“Naw, there is one with a family, they come to our church sometimes, have you heard of the Truth Project?”


“Yeah.. It’s like a video series. What are you studying?”

Have you heard of “Ephesians”

::laughing:: “Yeah”

…It’s not a video series…


We need to grow up. Call me old fashioned but I think at the point where milky evangelical videos are actively being used as an excuse not to study the bible they can no longer be counted as “positive”

Written by RyanGaffney

September 19th, 2011 at 4:32 pm

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Bastante Part II

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When I went to the gulf coast to help out after Hurricane Katrina I had the privilege of helping to finish a house for a family who had lost theirs.

On my team was a school teacher, a pastor, a judge, a car mechanic, a secretary, a professional home contractor, and myself.

Guess who won MVP for most useful volunteer that week?



If you guessed “The judge” You’d be right. If you guessed ”me” you’re a suckup, and if you guessed the “professional home contractor”, you would be very very wrong. He was the most problematic person to work with, far worse than the secretary who had no idea how to work a hammer.

Randall wasn’t a licensed general contractor, but he worked for one. and he spent day in and day out installing drywall, and filling holes, and painting houses for rich and famous people who generally looked down on a manual laborers.

When he came on the trip and found out we would be finishing houses he was understandably excited to be the expert for once in his life. Now finally he could clearly use his gifts to glorify God as a great drywall installer.

drywall-installerUnfortunately Randall didn’t understand that this was not a crew of professional, that we had a hard time limit, or that this was not the family of a B list celebrity with 6  other homes like the people he worked for in LA. He became hyper focused on doing the job perfectly (because he knew how to) and lost sight of the ability to just “get it done”

He didn’t understand bastante.

Randal was so critical of other people’s work, so bossy, demanding they do things over again if he didn’t approve, and so slow, that eventually the team leader assigned him to work on the kitchen by himself. He could do the kitchen perfectly, everyone else would finish the rest of the house.

… At the end of the week the rest of the house was livable. It wasn’t perfect; the drywall was splochy under the paint and the ceiling texture was uneven, but it was a nice house. I would live there.

But the kitchen wasn’t done

The kitchen had the nicest, cleanest, smoothest mudding job I’ve ever seen. But it wasn’t painted, and the fixtures weren’t hooked up, because Randal never got to that and he wouldn’t allow any of us to do it and “ruin it” so the family didn’t get to move in to their house…they had to wait for a case management team to come by and assess it, and then find a way to assign another team, and I have no idea how long it took but it couldn’t have been easy to get a team out to do just half a kitchen. And when they did I’m sure it was done hurriedly as an after thought, and they splattered the paint.

It was just not a reality that we could have given away a perfect house, or even a house with a perfect kitchen. We could have given away a good house, a nice house, a bastante house. Doing worse work, faster, was much better in this case (more glorifying to God) than work of the highest possible quality.

Written by RyanGaffney

September 12th, 2011 at 4:26 am

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One of the most useful words I ever learned does not exist in English.

I learned in in Spanish class, where I was taught it meant “enough” but also could be used similar to the way we use “kinda”.

Like most things I learned in high school Spanish class it was promptly forgotten, but my memory was rekindled when I took a mission trip to Mexico, and found that it was incredibly handy for a missionary.

To someone who doesn’t know the language with any level of fluency, everything between “Sí” and “No” is “bastante”. And to someone whos eyes are being opened for the first time in a dusty impoverished border town, just about everything lies somewhere between “Sí” and “No”

Did you sleep well? “Bastante”
Is the water safe to drink? “Bastante”
Do you speak any Spanish? “Bastante”
Are we going to finish on time? “Bastante”

CasaDebajaIt got to the point that “bastante” became the motto for work in Mexico. It took on a life that goes beyond it’s literal meaning in Spanish grammar. We were a crew of teenagers who had no idea what we were doing, didn’t speak the language, and would be gone in a week. We couldn’t pretend like the house we were going to build would be great, or that out outreach to the community would “work”. But we could make sure it was bastante. That it was “good enough” that is was “sufficient”

Bastante doesn’t mean you do the bare minimum, the way the English word “enough” implies. Bastante means you get it done, and you do a good job considering. You can’t go and visit a family of four living in a shack made of tarp and pallet racking and call anything “good” at the end of the day. neither can you say the problem is “solved” or the job is “done”. What you can do is dig a trench so that when it rains the water goes around and doesn’t run through the house and make the baby sick.

Written by RyanGaffney

September 10th, 2011 at 3:36 am

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Passwords, like underwear, should be kept private, and need to be changed every couple of years or they cease to be secure.

It’s time for me to change my passwords, which means I’m spending a lot of time on the “My account” section of websites updating things. and getting rather frustrated with the inconsistency being demonstrated by various IT departments about what makes a secure password.

The truth is I’m a computer geek, I think I have a pretty Good idea of what makes a password secure. Preferably it should be a random string of all 95 printable ASCII characters (Upercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols) but, since it’s no good for security if you can’t remember it and have to keep it on a stickynote stuck to your monitor. It should be memorable.

“1mXun#” for instance is a fabulous password. This seemingly random series of letters and symbols is not something anyone would ever guess, yet it’s easy for me to remember. (it’s the phrase “I am not a number” spelled in a funky way)

But of course there is also the problem of password reuse. If I use “1mXun#” for my bank. I should not also use it for my Gaming Account on JoesFlashGames.com which is why I always have a backup password that’s less secure but even easier to remember like “Exodus16:36”

The problem comes when some webmaster thinks they’re clever, and decides to make it impossible for anybody to use a stupid password such as their name, or the word “password” and starts making up rules. When that happens I’ll type in my new password “1mXun#”


And it will spit back “passwords must be 8 characters or longer”
Well okay fine, I’ll use my other one “Exodus16:36”


”Passwords must not contain and identifiable word”
Dangit , I bet it doesn’t know this word “Preterest Miroslav Vulfianism”


”Passwords must contain each of the following: one (1) uppercase letter, one (1) lowercase letter and one (1) symbol”



“Your password is accepted”


Do you notice how, the more restrictions I bump into, the more insecure my password becomes? I already naturally want to have a strong secure password, but I also have other stuff to do with my life, and the more you attempt to prevent me by force from being an idiot, the more tempted I am to be just enough of a non idiot to make you shut up.

Notice also that this would not be a problem if every site had the same standard. If everyone wanted an 8 character alpha numeric password it would be fine, I would get a small password like that and forget about it. but every site is different, and whenever I don’t fit into the box, I start finding ways to climb out.

This happens in the church constantly. Which is why you see people who wouldn’t dream of kissing until they get married, but will cheat on their girlfriends and in their studies. Or you see people who’ve memorized whole chapters of scripture but refuse to talk to people that aren’t like them.

We want to protect people from having a unstable spiritual life, we want to prevent them from phoning it in with something like “password” and just coming to church on Sunday. So we require small groups, or devos, or learning Greek before we really consider you spiritually mature and ready for leadership.

But sometimes I haven’t been to your “FaithRoots™” training course, because I’ve been too busy witnessing in the GLBT community, and you write me off. Or you put me on a pedestal because I’m there 3 nights a week, but I’m actually not really listening and capable of much more.

This is the eternal problem with programs. And probably why Jesus didn’t have any and just hung out with people all day

Written by RyanGaffney

September 1st, 2011 at 1:13 am

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