A Simple Quest-i-on

Quest-i-on….

My family presented me with a special live event of Mythbusters – a “Traveling Road Show” of a look “behind the scenes” of how their famous program works. If I could read the script of their event I would perhaps get this stated correctly. The gist of Adam’s response to an audience question was that they continually looked for answers to the questions that were presented to them. Even though not schooled in science, math, or engineering, it was their quest for answers that helped them create a career. Jamie had a degree in Russian Linguistics and Adam never went to college. With over 200 hours of produced programming, and hundreds of experiments behind them, they still found enough wonder in the question to keep looking for answers.

Someone tweeted recently – a “quest-i-on” is really the definition of the word “question.”

It is a Quest that I am On

My Quests have been varied and enjoyable!

  • When I was a young person, around 12 or so, mom and dad got me a “biology” kit for Christmas or birthday. I remember that kit so well and with joy I dissected the included specimens (frog, worm, etc.), and put them on a slide and looked deeply into their inward parts with the microscope.
  • I remember my science teacher drawing a semblance of an atom on the chalk board with the electrons circling the atom like our planets circling the sun. With the clap of his hands he described how he killed cells with the violence of pressing his hands together so quickly and wiped out the universe of the Atom he had just drawn. “It would be easy for something larger than us to wipe out our universe the same way,” he stated. This got me thinking!
  • I remember building a crystal radio (age 7 or so) and then years later taking apart my transistor radio (age 15) and trying to compare what I had built with what was revealed.
  • I remember Bruce Barber bringing in the future of computing with an Apple computer (1977 or  so) and showing it off in his office and then assembling some Franklin computers for mom’s class (1985) and loading programs and playing with the results – long before I had the money to own my own personal computer.
  • I remember my first car, a wrecked 1964 Falcon and rebuilding the carburetor before someone told me I should not be doing that! And then piecing on the fenders and hood of a 1965 Falcon and making the car last until I could afford something better.

At some level of my life, it seems like I have always been on a walk of discovery to see the deeper things of the surface life around me. And I have enjoyed the process!

During my career as a technologist, I consciously recreated myself a number of times to prepare for the next stage of growth, or the next “new” technology around the corner. Some of the preparation was found in school, others found in reading about the latest and greatest, still, others was making myself available to the movers and shakers in the company that had the ability to make decisions and choices.

One of these is my favorite stories of being in the right place, at the right time, and available to the right people!

J. David Craig was my “bosses, bosses, bosses, boss” – several levels above me, yet an attendee to my lunch time, brown bag, Bible study every Thursday. As I am an early riser, I had the opportunity to work the early shift (7-4) and David was often there roaming the floors to see who was doing what. We had many an early morning conversation on tasks and family and scripture. One day he showed up at my cubicle and tossed me a box of software and asked me to “see what I can do with it…” He cleared my plate of other projects and gave me 3 weeks too work with the new programming language – Visual Basic. By this time in my career I had already programmed in dozens of languages, so learning a new tool was no real challenge. The challenge was to meet David’s expectations that there was something good that could happen with this box of software. It was about 1991 or so. After several weeks of investigation, I was asked to present my findings at a lunch time meeting with the higher up’s. A 45 minute presentation turned into 3 hours as the lid was pulled off the opportunity of this new product. Imaginations ran wild! A special team was pulled together to begin programming with this language and I was rewarded by having another research given to me.

Simple, heart felt and relationship building conversations opened the door!

On the birthday of Sir Francis Bacon (1561), I read about his ups and downs. He proposed a scenario of research that still lives on today. From the “Writers Almanac:”

He said, “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” In Novum Organum (1620), Bacon wrote that scholars should build their knowledge of the world from specific, observable details. His theory is now known as the scientific method, and is the basis of all experimental science.

Summation: Being content with “not knowing” anything specific, and build upon observations, then one should be able to end up with certainties.

This was an amazing time of life. To many, astronomy was a supernatural science, the earth was flat, gravity was just becoming a certainty, and many still thought that Earth was the center of the universe. It was still common to “bleed” the bad “vapors” out of a person so that they could become better. The dark spiritual world abounded and many were fearful.  Many of the “scientist” of that day were not content with what was always known as fact, but were on a quest to discover the deeper truths on many fronts.

It was during these years that the “new world” began to open up, the King James Bible was translated from foreign languages into modern day English (…It was modern during the days it was first created!…) The period of Reformation was soon to arrive, science would become a major force, and researchers broke free of the bonds that kept them chained to a church or a king.

There are many examples of modern day “scientist” not content with standard answers to known questions, but are willing to dig deeper and find out many astounding answers for the day. What we look at in amazement will be looked at as magic to those of a century ago, and history to those a century from now. Today, it is amazing, and only today.

Consider that we are now using stem cells from a persons bone marrow to recreate personalized body parts! It’s happening! The tragedy of this will be a result of the future run amok if we do not control this technology, and in a parallel thought, the tragedy of this will be that only the rich among us will be able to afford such a treatment.

Over the past few years I have been striving to achieve higher education. It has been challenging, rewarding and enjoyable. What I missed as a younger man was this sense of achievement that comes with applying one’s self to a subject and finding satisfaction in acquiring a grade that adequately reflected the amount of effort put into the learning process. Too many things came easy to me and I was easily bored with sitting in a classroom and experiencing a slower pace that what my mind worked at. So, school became something to get through quickly. As I approach my doctoral decision, I realize that there are smarter people out there than I – although many are smarter only in their areas of research and training. I am moving into their ranks and am older now and more ready to move at another pace other than my own.

I have been involved in many endeavors, business and spiritual, and as I approach my senior years I find that I want to keep pressing on to be in a quest for more understanding of the questions that I have, and not be satisfied with another persons answers. It seems that King Solomon was reaching the end of his life and was satisfied with the idea that there was “no new thing” under the sun. Read his words in the ESV version:

Ecc 1:1-18 ESV  The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.  (2)  Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.  (3)  What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?  (4)  A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.  (5)  The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.  (6)  The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.  (7)  All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.  (8)  All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.  (9)  What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.  (10)  Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.  (11)  There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.  (12)  I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.  (13)  And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.  (14)  I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.  (15)  What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.  (16)  I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.”  (17)  And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.  (18)  For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

I sense a frustration in the man that reaches the ending of his life and has found no value in all of his searching. As I have written before in this blog world, and have preached about at my church, it’s not the destination that is so important – it’s the Journey. To have lived well, researched deeply, answered questions, asked more probing questions, and to not be satisfied with the status quo – perhaps this is the best purpose of my life. Not necessarily in a public format of debate and discussion, but asking and answering in my mind and heart and able to present to those who are interested in a Quest – my followers of my blog, social media, church, natural and school family…

Wait… That is Public!

My blog subtitle has been from the beginning of my writing and still remains in my heart of hearts:

“Everything begins with a very simple thought and grows into a magnificent premise and returns to a very simple thought…”

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