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Jan. 15th, 2017

Musical Visualization of Network Traffic

I've been working on a fun holiday project in my spare time lately. It all started innocently enough. The office construction was nearing its end, and it was time for my workspace to be set up. Our deployment wizard and I were discussing. Normally we stick two high-end monitors on a desk. I'm blind; that seemed silly. He wanted to do something similarly nice for me, so he replaced one of the monitors with excellent speakers. They are a joy to listen to, but I felt like I should actually do something with them. So, I wanted to play around with some sort of audio project.
I decided to take a crack at an audio representation of network traffic. The solaris version of ping used to have an audio option, which would produce sound for successful pings. In the past I've used audio queues to monitor events like service health and build status.
It seemed like you could produce audio to give an overall feel for what was happening on the network. I was imagining a quick listen would be able to answer questions like:

  1. How busy is the network

  2. How many sources are active

  3. Is the traffic a lot of streams or just a few?

  4. Are there any interesting events such as packet loss or congestion collapse going on?

  5. What's the mix of services involved


I divided the project into three segments, which I will write about in future entries:

  • What parts of the network to model

  • How to present the audio information

  • Tools and implementation


I'm fairly happy with what I have. It doesn't represent all the items above. As an example, it doesn't directly track packet loss or retransmissions, nor does it directly distinguish one service from another. Still, just because of the traffic flow, rsync sounds different from http. It models enough of what I'm looking for that I find it to be a useful tool. And I learned a lot about music and Linux audio. I also got to practice designing discrete-time control functions in ways that brought back the halls of MIT.
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Dec. 31st, 2016

2016

I was in such a different place at the beginning of 2016: I was poised to continue to work to help the world find love. Professionally, I was ready to make a much needed transition and find new projects to work on.

The year 2016 sucked. It feels like the year was filled with many different versions of the universe saying "Not interested in what you have to offer." At the beginning of the year, I had the energy to try and reach across large disagreements and help find common ground even when compromise was not possible. Now, my blog lies fallow because I cannot find the strength to be vulnerable enough to write what I would choose to say. Certainly a lot of the global changes of the last year have felt like a strong rejection of the world I'd like to see. However, many of the rejections have been personal. Beyond that, most of the people who stood as pillars of support in my life, together helping me find the strength to be vulnerable, are no longer available.

When the universe sends such strong messages, it's a good idea to ask whether you are on the right path. I certainly have discovered training I need and things I need to improve in order to avoid making costly mistakes that hurt others. However, among the rejections were clear demonstrations of the value of reaching out with love and compassion. Besides, this is what I'm called to do. It's what I want to do. I certainly will not force it on anyone. But it looks like the next few years may be a hard struggle to find pockets of people interested in that work, finding people who will choose love even in the current world, along with some difficult training to learn from challenges of the last year.

Amongst all this, my life if filled with love. There are new connections even as old connections are strained. There is always the hope of finding new ways to connect when the old ones are no longer right. I will rebuild and regain safety. I have the tools to do that. The process is just long and complicated.

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Jun. 15th, 2016

A Slice of My World

Recently, I wrote a narrative describing a healing ritual I went through; if you read my spirituality blog you've already seen it. However this is a really deep and as far as I can tell accurate look into my soul, and for those who are interested I thought I'd share. I walk through a slice of how I interact with myself, my gods, my community and tribe. The narrative is titled Singing of the Chalice and the Lash. It's rated R for nudity and BDSM (although very little sexual content). I also wrote about the experience of writing and publishing such a narrative. There's a lot of vulnerability and a lot of hope. The blog entry is more-or-less PG13, although it does contain links to NC17 content (all textual). If you're curious who I've become lately, these are great glimpses.

Jan. 10th, 2016

Healing Across the Gulf of Disagreement

In the United States, there are a lot of people who are going to be unhappy come next November, no matter who we choose as our next president. In a campaign where both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders can gain significant support, it's clear that the US has divided needs. Yet come January 2017, we're all still going to be living on the same ball of dirt, and we'll have to work together.



My facebook is filled with pleas for compassion like this article . I support showing compassion to refugees and Muslims, but that's not what I'm here to talk about. Other people are saying that, some of them better than I could.



I need to show compassion to myself and to those who hold different positions--even very different positions. I hope you'll consider what I'm saying and come to a similar decision for yourself. Extending compassion and empathy, searching for connection, is a choice. It's a choice to be open and to some extent vulnerable. I understand that it can be frightening to be that open and sometimes it is the wrong choice. For example I'm not going to choose to connect with someone who denies my humanity because of my religion, because I'm bisexual, or because of my sexual openness.



However, there are a lot of folks out there who have strongly held beliefs different than mine. If I am unable to connect to any of those people, the cost is going to be really high. As I'll explain in a short while, my personal cost is far higher than I'd be willing to pay. I suspect that if you consider your own cost, you will probably come to a similar realization.



Compassion is not Agreement




Some of the issues involved are not issues where I'm open to persuasion. I am not interested in debating the morality of my life. I'm sure that I'm a poly pagan, I'm proud of who I am, and I'm not looking to change that. I've heard friends talk about how they are not interested in being persuaded that people of their religion or background should be forced to register. They are not open to deciding it's a good idea that they or people like them be excluded from the United States. Many of my friends have strongly held beliefs about the role of the US as a melting pot, as a multicultural refuge.



I need not put those beliefs or opinions on the table to reach out with empathy. In fact empathy and compassion are not at all the same thing as trying to persuade someone to change.



When I empathize I'm looking to understand someone without judgment. I want to understand their feelings, needs and desires. I want to create a space where they can share them without feeling they (or what they share) will be rejected. In accepting what they offer I'm saying "I value what you've shared of yourself. I've taken the time to listen, and to accept it as who you are." No where have I agreed, accepted that is the "right way to be," "good people should think that way," or any such.



Close to Home




for me I began to realize that the challenge of empathy would be close to my heart one evening at my parents. My dad was eagerly listening to Fox News decry the dangers of Radical Islam. My dad began to discuss his concerns about the deterioration of the US, about how we couldn't trust the government, the danger of Sharia Law in the US, and concerns about ISIS.



my dad was quite worried and frustrated when he thought that the government couldn't be trusted to follow the law. On the same trip, my mom (and to a lesser extent dad) talked about taxes, deterioration of education, and how we are creating a society where government money is spent in a manner that doesn't actually help people and that fails to respect either the needs of the beneficiaries of government programs or the tax payers. My mom is worried that we are removing the incentives to challenge ourselves and be our best.





My parents and I have had a rough ride as we try to connect with each other. Sometimes I've found myself struggling to find a way to connect with my parents that had sufficient value to be worth the cost. I've chosen a life very different from them and have been unapologetic about who I am and have insisted on a high degree of acceptance in those I'm close to.



However each time we've examined our connection, we've found that the love we share is worth it. We turn to each other in times of need and joy. Fortunately political disagreement has always been a big factor in our family. Throughout much of my life, my parents have canceled each other's votes, my dad being more conservative than my mom. She's drifted right since I went to college. However there was no way that I was going to let politics get in the way of love: the issues that have challenged us have been about life choices and self determination.



Yet I felt fear and anger when I heard some of my parents' positions. People I know and care about very deeply have been unable to get adequate health care because their states follow my parents' beliefs. I'm not talking about people who choose not to work. One person I'm thinking of works far harder than I do laboring to make their family, spiritual community and world the best it can be. Other stories are similar. I care about my friends; I don't want to see them hurt. Multiple times I've faced the question of what would I do if someone I dated were hurt and needed medical care they could not afford. In one case, in all truth, I wish they had gotten a job. In other cases, choices like being a student or focusing on art were ones I supported.



Yet rather than hiding behind this anger, I talked to my parents. I heard their fear and frustration. They spent their life working, building savings. My mom spent her life volunteering and working to help the education system and on numerous advocacy activities; she wanted to see others have the same chance I had. She put her soul into that. She believes that work is being eroded. My parents have been disadvantaged because they dislike debt. They feel strong emotions when they think about the loss of control. I suspect that they think that even if their efforts in the larger world didn't work out, they should retain control over their own lives. They see policies including healthcare policy, tax policy, and the like as threatening both where they are now as well as what they put their effort into. They are frustrated with how these policies are implemented.



I can connect with that. I think my parents sometimes (and hopefully will more often) feel understood by me. I also think they can understand the fear and frustration I face when I see policies that deny those I care about medical care. I think they can understand why I care about GLBT rights and sexual freedom even though those issues are lower priority for them. I think they can understand my fear of spending the rest of my life with a Supreme Court that I do not respect.



I've been able to reach out and share other fears about the world. I recall one call when I talked to my mother about the secret Chicago detainment center . I expressed my fear about the world I found myself living in. At first it was hard for my mom to connect, but as she read the article and listened, she was able to hear and understand me. Being able to connect with someone who had very different beliefs but yet share this fear helped. If we could connect, perhaps there's some chance that enough people can connect globally to make a difference.



We're probably not going to convince each other. We don't generally try. We often don't agree. But we can listen and care.



The Value of Compassion




does that sort of connection provide value outside of a family relationship? For myself, I've concluded it does. First it makes it possible to work together when goals align. I can join Christian spiritualists in talking about the value of love, in exploring overlapping approaches to helping people reach their spiritual potential even though we have some important disagreements. I can maintain good professional relationships even when people choose to be open.



In addition, being understood tends to deescalate situations. I feel less of a need to defend myself or take radical action when I am understood. When I can connect with myself and others and step past my fear, options become possible that would not be possible otherwise. Sometimes this opens up opportunities for compromise.



The potential for compromise is not emasculation. I'm never going to give up on valuing civil liberty, my need to choose my own spiritual path, or my needs as a lover because i manage to face my fears. When I connect with myself and those around me I'm actually in a better position to see if a compromise is healthy or undermines needs that I would not choose to give up.



Even when compromise is not possible, connection helps us see each other as human and worthy of respect. We may be able to believe in the overall system understanding what needs are met even when some of ours are not.



Understanding in Return




Generally when I offer connection and empathy, I expect the same in return. I'm willing to listen openly in exchange for being heard. Without that I feel vulnerable and disconnected. Having confidence that the connection can go two-ways is often one of the biggest limitations for when I'll be able to be open. Sometimes I'll take a risk in listening for a while and once there is an initial connection asking to be heard. There are some cases where I think there's value even if I can't be heard.



Each of us will come to our own decision about when it's safe and desirable to be open. There are a lot of reasons for deciding not to be open. However I'm hoping that you'll take some time to think about the value in being open even in situations where ideas are very different. I'm hoping that you'll consider the costs of being open and closed, eventually coming to your own conclusion about when you choose to be open.


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Jan. 1st, 2016

2015

What a year! Finding words to describe 2015 is hard. There's been so much change, growth and happiness.

I founded a spiritual group and joined the Debian technical committee. I've written 30 blog articles and a number of other important essays. I started writing fiction; I'm particularly proud that since July I've managed to find time to write 50,000 words of fiction with everything else going on in my life. Much of that is released, although a fair bit is still in progress.

Work and family goes well. My daughter is wonderful and I am blessed to have her in my life.

However, some of the greatest joy is much harder to quantify. I've grown as a priest, lover and person. I have increased confidence with myself. I've fought through tremendous fear and shame; I'm more comfortable than ever before with who I am. That comfort allows me to be open and to help others as they fight through fear and shame and walk their own path of growth. I've watched and grown with the people who are in my life. I've become convinced that I can make differences in the world that I care about. I wrote about a few examples. However, as I've become more aware of how love can ripple out into the world, I find it easier to see how little changes can matter in big ways.

I look forward with joy, fear and excitement to the future. It is great to choose to live in the best of all possible worlds.

Jun. 7th, 2015

Lovers Grove

Chuck and I are working with Venus and Hermes to form a pagan grove. Together, we and other lovers and messengers will help people bring the magic of love, compassion, sexuality, intimacy and openness to their paths. We will work to share these journies with the world. Each of us walks our own path, takes our own journey. While we cannot take another's journey, we can learn and gain strength from others. By watching and connecting with others as they take their journey we can learn that we are unique but not alone.

I'm excited that I'm finally ready to start sharing this project; Chuck and I have a number of posts we're working on over the coming weeks. If you are interested, follow my blog; (or follow hartmans_venus)this post is being shared much more broadly than the rest. I am frightened. I'm opening up about a project that is important to me, sharing my hopes for something big. What if we try and no one else is interested in joining us? I'm worried that in a year I'll be standing in front of everyone I care about to say that we tried to offer ourselves to the world to make it a better place and work we really care about wasn't valued. I'm also frightened about the lesser things I've already written about. However, mostly, I'm excited and filled with joy to be starting this chapter of my journey and to be doing something that I hope will make a difference.

Lovers Grove is a culmination of a lot of work and writing. One of the vows I took when I became a priest was to help build Venus's temple and create a world where the lover and beloved could circle each other openly. For me, that has meshed with a commitment to help guide people on their adventures in love.

I needed to begin to prepare the temple within myself. I found great joy in helping building compassion within Debian. I've worked to integrate Venus's magic throughout my life. Along the way my work has touched people close to me. Some have seen the work I'm doing and found ways they could face their fears and better meet their needs. Overwhelmingly, when I've lived in the strength of love, I've found joy and growth. If I can believe in what I'm doing, feel comfortable with my openness, feel comfortable letting go of shame and fear, others can see me do that and respond positively. This is not universal, but it is the vast majority of the responses I get.

It's wonderful that I've made good progress building Venus's temple within myself. In joining Lovers Grove, I hope to manifest some of the ideas I've had about bringing that work outward. I've talked about how I write about sex to create a world where we can discuss our experience as lovers openly without shame. Lovers Grove is taking that one step further and providing a place where lovers can meet openly without shame to explore, grow and teach as lovers. There are many aspects to love: intimacy, communication, empathy, boundaries, connection, joy and healing to name a few. I hope we'll embrace and explore all of these. Sexuality is only one part of being a lover, but it is an important part of being a lover and one we explicitly embrace and celebrate.

I speak of doing this work openly without shame. There's a lot of shame and related fear associated with our work as lovers. Even something as simple as offering love or care is tied to shame; we've all seen negative descriptions and worry about using the l-word too early in a relationship. Being open and vulnerable has lots of associated fear, but shame is not unknown there. Sex comes with Shame Mountain. There's slut shame, shame of not meeting expectations, and the huge shame we direct at sex workers. In our society there are many aspects of sex we accept from people so long as they are hidden and a veneer of social normality is presented. That too tends towards shame. Surrounding and interconnected with this shame are fears.

I want to live in a world without that shame. I want to live in a world where people consider risks but are not crippled by fear. I want to live in a world where people could reasonably spend their lives exploring and teaching love. Lovers Grove is here to focus intent towards that world.


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Apr. 19th, 2015

Your Silence will be Used Against you in the Court of Fear

Originally posted by hartmans_venus at Your Silence will be Used Against you in the Court of Fear
I mentioned the fear and sadness I feel when reading the news or thinking about some aspects of the broader world as well as my desire to find a way of applying my love-related work more broadly. Recently I had a surprising opportunity to see what I'm fighting and see how the sort of fear that leads to sharp disagreement and eventually hate is created. I'm delighted because I gained new insight into connecting with people and stopping fear in its tracks.

I had been talking with a close friend about sex and sacred service and she forwarded me a couple of articles that she wanted me to think about in the context of our conversation. She asked about my input. I've been somewhat afraid talking to her about that sort of sacred service. Her opinion matters to me, and she's been worried about the risks involved in that sort of work, especially work with someone I don't know well like that discussed in the last paragraph of the blog post. Certainly I see the risks too and some of them concern me greatly. So, while I see the joy and wonder in that work, it's also easy enough for me to connect with the fear and apprehension. I was also nervous because I didn't know what she was hoping for from our interaction.

That easily could have been the state in which I read the articles. Certainly when I read the articles, I did still connect with that part of myself. The first talks about consent and the importance of talking during sex, making sure that your lover is OK with what's going on. I find myself frustrated reading this article because the article quotes a poem talking about abandoning yourself to the primal moment of the experience as a lover, going to a place beyond words. McEwan speaks against this quote arguing for the importance of words during sex. I've been to that place without words sometimes, and it can be wonderful and joyous; who is McEwan to tell me what I can and cannot enjoy during sex. Sure, I've also been places with lots of words, and while different, I find joy and wonder there. Also, why is my friend sharing this? Why is she afraid I will not respect the consent of my lovers, caring for their needs as we approach each other?

The second article gives the reader permission to want to have and talk about sex, exploring the shame and discomfort we sometimes face approaching sexuality and discussions of our role as lovers. McEwan admits she's treading a fine line as she's hoping the reader will empower themselves, acknowledges the reader needs no permission, but wants to offer permission to those who find it helpful. I'm generally comfortable enough with my sexuality that I don't need permission and I don't have context with McEwan. The article focuses on sex as something that happens between two lovers. I disconnect from the article. It excludes masturbation, polyamory and group sex from the discussion. McEwan acknowledges she's taking a narrow focus, for example noting that there are things to be said about masturbation but in the interest of having a focused article, she's not exploring them. However, because the article approaches things from the standpoint of granting permission and specifically excludes many aspects of sexuality I care about from areas where permission is granted, I feel judged. I'm puzzled why I even grant the author the power to make me feel judged. On reflection, I came to the article afraid of what message my friend was trying to send and frustrated by the first article. I am not surprised to feel vulnerable.

I'm also nervous about what my friend is hoping for from a reaction. No, this sort of judging people and telling them what they can do is not what I'm hoping sacred service is about. Even more so than with other work, my point is to help empower people to explore their own needs.

How it Really Went Down


While I could connect with these feelings while reading the articles, because of an accident I had a much more positive experience. I was busy and didn't get around to reading the articles before my friend and I had a long conversation. She was excited about the articles and eagerly shared some of her thoughts. She talked about how valuable this sort of advice would have been when she was first starting to explore herself as lover. It seems basic now, but she felt emphasizing the importance of discussion before, during and after sex in establishing comfort and consent was very valuable. She found the second article interesting because it emphasized that it was OK to talk about sex and to have different needs.

So, I approached the articles with a much more open mind. I do still hear judgment against lovers agreeing to go to a place without words. However, I realize that I may be drawing a different emphasis, and I'm reminded that it's fine to disagree from time to time. I agree though that encouraging people to be open and to discuss enough to make sure that their needs are met is really important. I hope that as lovers, we choose to honor our boundaries and spend the necessary time to learn about boundaries and comfort of those we are with. And I agree with the second article that feeling comfortable talking about sex and being comfortable with our sexual desires are things I value highly.

And yes, my love work is very much about helping people feel comfortable with communication and with demanding that their boundaries be respected.

I agree with what the second article is trying to say, although I'd like to find a way to send that message that is more directly empowering. But hey, I can go try to do that. Perhaps some people will connect more with my version, perhaps others will connect more with the existing article. Let's be open in communicating about sexuality is an important enough message that we can find lots of different ways to say it.

Fighting Fear


However, I'm dancing around with joy when I think about this experience. I got to see how understanding my friend's intent and the feelings and desires behind that intent shaped my experience. Instead of connecting with my fear, disconnecting with the article, and focusing on minor disagreement, I was able to connect with my friend and see a small part of the world in a new way. I was able to see messages parallel to those I'm trying to send and to better connect with what those at the beginning of their journey as lovers might need to hear.

However, I also saw the harm that could be done in the form of fears reenforced and judgments assumed. I think many of the fears and possibly even much of the hate that I'd like to fight stem from this sort of lack of connection.

I'm also starting to see the tools I'll need for turning that kind of fear into empathy. I can choose to ask someone what their intent is. I can choose to try and connect with their feelings and make it about connecting with them not just connecting with myself.

At a more personal level, my friend and I have gained a new comfort in sharing things that are important. She said that she feels more comfortable sharing things that are important to her if she can help me see why that is. Disagreement is a possibility. Often, though, it hurts more to share something important and not have someone understand why you care than it does to find there is disagreement.


Sep. 18th, 2014

New Spiritual Blog

I have a new spiritual blog (hartmans_venus) where I'm going to collect my public writings about my work with Venus and my exploration of love. I've written about that here in some protected posts. I've written about the sexual aspects of that elsewhere, and I've written a lot of email to my self and a couple of others capturing some internal thoughts.

I'm finding that I've reached a point where I'm more interested in people being able to read and interact with what I'm doing. At the beginning, the discussions here were to share what was going on in my life with a small number of friends. Now, though, I find I'm interested in building a community, finding others who are doing similar work, and serving as an example for those who want to be mindful in their exploration of love, sexuality and spirit. I may share some of the entries here and on facebook when it seems appropriate.

Some of the content of the blog will openly explore sexuality; some will openly explore spirit and my interaction with the gods.

There may be some things I continue to share with a limited group here, either because it is too unprocessed to share publicly, or because it's more about me and my life than my path, Venus or love.

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May. 6th, 2014

[spirit] Facing the Approval of my Goddess

I attended Beltane this weekend. There, I was at a ritual where Venus was drawn down. She expressed her love and approval for me. Thinking about it this morning, I realized that I could not face her approval and stepped out of the moment, my emotional self disconnected, my rational self wondering how much of this was the host talking and whether Venus could really be expressing her love and approval. Well, of course that's possible, and I do know that the priestess drawing Venus is happy with what I'm doing.

It's hard though to view things that way without denying the power of the rest of that ritual. I sat with my Venus idol this morning and contemplated my reaction. Accepting approval is sometimes really hard. Even when we're trying our best, it is hard to graciously accept strong positive support. I cried, sad that I could not approach Her approval Saturday, but happy that I have the love of my goddess and determined to be more open and connected with these sort of positive feelings in the future.

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Dec. 28th, 2013

Filled with Love

This week I have been so lucky to watch love grow. It feels that
everywhere I turn and approach the world with openness, I'm met with
people rising to the challenge, responding to me with openness. More
amazingly they are running with the openness and spreading it in
interactions with others. I feel that I'm riding a wave doing Venus's
work. It has been a truly wonderful week, watching those I care for
grow, growing with them!
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