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IFX Group 2004 Web Log

2004 Blog Entries
  1. Internal Communication. (January)
  2. Ever Greater Lessons. (February)
  3. Beauty. (March)
  4. A different word for it. (April)
  5. Complaints. (May)
  6. Unequal Words. (June)
  7. Until Death Do Us ... (July)
  8. What's Cooking? (August)
  9. A Degree of Arrogance. (September)
  10. Repeat Thinking. (October)
  11. Wanting and Needing. (November)
  12. The C word. (December)

January, 2004 - Internal Communication.

Almost every religion places some importance on how a person is to treat their body. Some even make a connection between relationships with others and the relationship with our own body. This is a very intriguing observation. Consider how you treat your own body and if that pattern matches how you treat the relationships you have.

Some people can't listen to their body. They push it hard and when the body tries to communicate pain, they take any number of things to dull or hide the results of going past the limits. These are often the same people who can't stand the pain of close relationships for any length of time. Instead they seek out any number of forms of emotional pain relievers so they won't hear the pain of others.

Maybe there is more to this than just listening or not listening to the pain. What does the pain communicate both in your own body and in your relationships? Maybe there is something to learn from not only listening, but also hearing.


February, 2004 - Ever Greater Lessons.

Doing well in a school lesson is easy compared to doing well in a life lesson. In school the teachers tell you when to expect tests and do their best to give you all of the information needed so you can prepare for them.

In life there are many teachers and many unexpected tests. How well we do on the tests and how often the tests are repeated shows if we are paying attention during the lessons or just sleeping in class.

The heart has the capacity for nearly infinite growth if we pay attention to the lessons that come our way. Unfortunately, it is only when the major examinations show up that we are able to find out what is really inside.

Learning facts hurts your brain, learning life hurts your heart.


March, 2004 - Beauty.

Potentially there are a great number of bad things just waiting to happen to all of us. The bad things normally can wait for you or others to invite them into your life, but sometimes they show up unexpected and uninvited. Even when they do show up without invitations, we still have the choice to focus our attention on the bad things or not.

Some people are very adept at noticing the bad things and they usually get what they expect. Others choose to pay attention to the rest of life instead of just the bad things. These are the people better able to see and enjoy the beauty around all of us, even when bad things happen.

Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy. - Anne Frank


April, 2004 - A different word for it.

The United States of America personal income tax deadline is the middle of April each year. This can focus a lot of attention on the amount of money we must personally pay, but what do we get for that money?

How about looking at it another way. A large portion of the population in this country pay rent for their housing. For that rent we may expect things like never having to worry about major property repair expenses, but we think nothing of doing some of the smaller maintenance work on our own. Depending on the property we rent, we may have to mow the lawn or replace lights that burn out with our own funds. In essence we just rent the property, but the daily maintenance is still up to us.

What if we used a different word for tax and called it something more like rent? In reality we are just renting a piece of this country. If something bad happens to the country, any major repair bills can be funded out of the collective rent we pay. But the smaller stuff is still our personal responsibility.

On April 1, 2004, the IFX Group celebrates 18 years of providing solutions for those who either don't have the time or the ability to do it on their own. This milestone marks an interesting point in the history of the IFX Group and points to a bright future of even more amazing things.

A more complete history of the IFX Group can be found on our history page.


May, 2004 - Complaints.

Everyone complains about something from the moment of birth. It is part of life. On one hand it is a valuable resource that, if correctly received and channeled, can fuel much improvement. On the other hand, some complaints seem to only embitter the situation or even hinder progress.

What is the difference between the two? It may be best to explain this with an example. The rivalry between personal computer operating systems goes back to a time before the personal computer. Over the years there have been some famous fights pitting CP/M vs. DOS, Mac OS vs. Windows, and even Free vs. Commercial. At the core of every one of these battles is a complaint for or against each of the sides where the user is not able to do something they want or are forced to do something they don't want.

The winner in each of these battles is never those actually fighting in the battle, but typically a quiet observer on the sidelines who listens to the core complaint and finds a way to solve the problem.

The hidden truth in all this is that there is no need for a fight to ever happen in the first place. If the people unhappy with a situation were able to calmly and clearly communicate their dissatisfaction to those who are able to solve the problem, the whole process is streamlined so solutions happen faster.

Anyone with the shortest path between complaint and realized solution will always win in the end. This is true even though it may appear otherwise for a short while given enough funding and public relation spin.

What have you done with your complaints today?


June, 2004 - Unequal Words.

The English language has many strengths and many weaknesses. One of the weaknesses is that we have way too many words for things that really don't need as many unique words, and not enough for things that need to be differentiated from each other.

For example, there are a number of very specific names for procedures used to prevent our pets from reproducing out of control based on species and gender. But we are forced to use the single word love to describe our affection for them, our feelings about our favorite food, close friends and family. This is an extreme imbalance.

Maybe this is why most of the population of the world, outside of the United States of America, speaks more than one language. If one fails to have a word that fits, the next language may do a better job.


July, 2004 - Until Death Do Us ...

There is a whole lot more truth to be found at funerals than at weddings. This seems strangely backwards, but it is easy to observe every day.

At nearly every wedding there is great ceremony and overt expressions of love and even vows given in front of many people. But more than half of the people that take those vows will ultimately break them. This means a divorce amounts to admitting openly that at best your vows were lies or at worst your word as a promise is worth nothing.

On the other hand every funeral has family members and friends openly confessing their true feelings for the departed member. If you return many years later, their feelings of love, loss and admiration will still be there.

Why do we wait until someone dies to confess our true feelings for them? Could this be why so many marriages fail? Are we simply waiting for the other person to die before our true feelings can be spoken in public? That is stupid. Tell the ones you love how you feel today. Everyone you love and admire should hear it, not only today, but every time you feel love or admiration for them. When they die it is too late for them to hear how you feel. Life is short. What are you waiting for?


August, 2004 - What's Cooking?

There are literally hundreds of thousands of recipes in the IFX Group collection. Once that many recipes get together in one place, something becomes clear.

All recipes, no matter how strange or complicated, have something in common. They all boil down to a list of instructions to be performed with a list of ingredients. Understanding this fundamental truth brings another fundamental truth to light.

People that cook can be divided into two categories: those that simply follow the written directions on the required ingredients, or those that see a collection of ingredients and make up their own recipe to assemble them into a meal. The secret to the second type of person is the ability to be creative and productive with the ingredients available.

The old adage of giving a man a fish compared to teaching him to fish holds true today. Find something you can do to be creative with the things you have right now. Don't wait for some new ingredient to show up. If life hands you grapes, make wine not lemonade.


September, 2004 - A Degree of Arrogance.

Way back around the beginning of time for institutions of higher education, some very wise person attached the word degree to the completion of milestones along the learning path. But somewhere along the way those who have invested a few years of their life listening to lectures, writing papers and passing tests have forgotten the original meaning of the word and have instead taken it to mean something worthy of arrogance and inflated importance.

Ask an elementary school child to explain the word degree and most will be able to correctly say it is a fraction or part. Ask someone holding one or more advanced degrees and they will likely point to diplomas on the wall.

The very people that should best realize how accurate the word degree is when describing the second or third hand knowledge they have been imparted, instead are often arrogant to the point of ignoring those who have first hand knowledge and experience. This means the degree is more like a deafness preventing hearing of new information from unaccredited sources and those lacking official credentials.

There is a way to win this game. Watch and listen to those people doing things that both agree and disagree with your education. Invest the time to prove what you know is really true fact or just opinion. Always be looking for the missing parts of your education to fill in the gaps. Keep in mind that the missing part that opens up a whole new world could come from someone that learned it the hard way - first hand.


October, 2004 - Repeat Thinking.

People think they think, but many mistake activity for evidence of thought. In the past few years neurologists have discovered that walking is not really all in your head. There is a bundle of nerves at the base of the spine with the ability to repeatedly stimulate the series of muscles in the legs and hips that allows walking. This nerve bundle even has an internal rhythm that sets the gait a person will naturally use when walking at their own pace. Once the brain gets this nerve bundle going, it can turn its attention to other things and think very little about the actual mechanics of walking.

Even though other automation nerves have not yet been discovered, there might be more of these nerves that can be used for all kinds of repetitive things we do in life. Some people call this a personal auto-pilot, but in reality it is nothing more than habitual behavior. If you do the same thing at the same time every day, it is very likely you have a habit built up to do that thing for you so your brain can not have to think about it anymore. Unfortunately, if your daily life is totally controlled by habit, your brain can effectively sleep through the whole day. That is until something disrupts your habit pattern and your brain is forced to figure out how things got so bad so quickly.

There is a way out of the habit trap. Fight the tendency to build habits in your life. Whenever you come to a place where you do the same thing you did yesterday, try something different. Always look for a different way to get to work. Look for a different way to do your job. Look for the novel approach or perspective. Seek out those who you have avoided in the past and talk to them. Do something totally at random and unexpected. Try to think how other people feel around you and do something extra to make them smile or to make their life a little easier.


November, 2004 - Wanting and Needing.

Every person on this planet has both wants and needs. Some needs, like air, water and food, are clearly common to all of us while some needs are unique to a small group of people. For example, some people need a car to do their job while others may just want a car.

The ability to differentiate between true need and want is not easy for the average person.

This is why an importance scale needs to be used to get a better look at the big picture. Sometimes it takes a disaster to make things clear that family photographs are more important than the food in the freezer or the fancy car in the garage. Just ask those people that lived through a natural disaster. That is a high price to realize the real difference between a need and a want.

If you can spend the time to find out what is truly a need in your life, a lot of life choices will become much easier. The temptation to buy on impulse has little or no strength when it is not something you need and there is never any buyer's remorse when you do buy something you know really is a need.

Try to find out for yourself. If you don't know yourself well enough to tell the difference between a need and a want, try these simple questions.

Your house is on fire, what do you get out first? What do you get out second? Third? Fourth? And so on. This is a crude list of things you hold important in roughly the order of importance to you.

Now imagine everything you own is taken away from you, all your assets and possessions, and you are dropped in a strange country with no friends. You find the basic needs of water, food and shelter, but what do you look for next? And what do you look for after that? This simple question may help give you an idea of what you need outside your house in roughly the order of importance to you. Once you know what you need, make sure you tell those around you. Then go after fulfilling your needs first, before your wants.

News: November seems to be a big month for exciting events this year. This month has the release of the first book by Casey Sprangel, The IPAD-OS Technical Guide. It is published through the IPAD Owners Association, Inc. and orders may be placed from their web site. This month also has the final release of the long anticipated Firefox 1.0 web browser. If you get the New York Times newspaper, look for the full page Firefox advertisement. This is the first time in history that an open source product has been promoted using main stream methods completely funded by the open source community. If you have not had a chance to see this amazing new web browser in action, please give it a try. You will be pleasantly surprised.


December, 2004 - The C word.

A diagnosis of cancer is emotionally devastating for most people. This is especially true for people that mistakenly believe cancer always means a painful and lingering death. This single word has the power to usher in a thick cloud of fear, sadness and confusion even for those around the person with the disease. Friends and family can bring long faces, sad looks and cold emotions to the environment. Why do people feel the need to add weight to the thick blanket that already dampens hope and joy?

The C word came around this year in a very personal way. Diagnosis in January, chemotherapy until summer followed by tests and pills for years. The whole process of treating cancer can be easy to blur into the fog of history, almost as easy as it was to describe this year in one sentence.

The memories that stand out most from the fog of this past year are the smiles and laughter that allowed rays of sunshine to pierce through the emotional heaviness. Those memories serve as reminders of the hope and joy that was always there, but simply hidden from view.

If you have the chance to know someone with cancer in your lifetime, remember these things. Always leave your fears and sorrows at the door and don't worry if some of them are missing when you leave. Don't be afraid to laugh and sing or make other happy sounds. Smile and mean it. And above all, show your love without words. These are the things that make fighting cancer worth the effort.