There is darkness all around us. This week, of all weeks, that is clear.
Young black men shot by police thousands of mile apart - and then five police officers killed in an ambush by an angry assailant seemingly intent on vengance. Police officers, in this case, who were doing their jobs of protecting a peaceful protest against those earlier shootings.
Just a week earlier a bomb exploded at an airport in Istanbul, Turkey killing over 40 people and injuring hundreds more... a terrorist attack at a bakery claimed over 20 lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh... a weekend bombing in a market in Baghdad, Iraq, left close to 300 dead... and bombs rocked three cities in Saudi Arabia, including near a mosque in the holy city of Medina.
Meanwhile tempers flare against immigrants in the UK after the Brexit vote... a U.S. Presidential candidate stokes the fires of fear and hatred... as do similar leaders in European countries... and bombs continue to fall in Syria's civil war...
The list could go on and on...
The divide between "us" and "them" grows stronger... where "them" is really "anyone not like us".
So much anger. So much hatred. So many killings.
There is darkness all around us.
As I struggled to concentrate on my work today, I found a browser window open to a piece written 10 days ago by Umair Haque: The Age of Light. He writes in part:
Dark ages are human creations, remember? The darkness isn’t somewhere “out there”. It’s in us. That is how we choose them, make them, create them.
The true hallmark of a Dark Age is this. We call the darkness the light, and celebrate it, revel in it, seek salvation in it. Darkness isn’t a meteor hitting the earth. It’s a mentality. The impoverishment of the mind, brought on by rage, envy, fear.
No Dark Age thinks it is one. Every Dark Age calls itself an Age of Light. Isn’t that exactly what’s happening across the globe today? As the middle collapses, as people grow poorer, they are regressing. They are literally choosing to go backwards. But that very choice is celebrated on the streets, applauded in the towns, and shouted from the rooftops as great, noble, and wise.
That is all a Dark Age really is.
Institutions crumble, leaders fail, and there is a turn to tribalism, feudalism, conflict, and dynasty.
He goes on... his full article is worth a read.
There is darkness all around us.
In the face of all of this, how, then, do we push back against the darkness?
I don't really know.
Sitting at my desk trying to get work done online today while every site brought more news of the madness...
... I just don't know.
I am reminded again of the powerful words of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
In a world where so much darkness threatens I think our only solution is for each one of us to be a light.
To ask ourselves each moment: can we be kinder? can we be better? can we help others in some way?
Umair is right - the darkness is within us. We cannot change others - we can only change ourselves and the choices we make.
And while that sounds hopelessly naive and cliche, I see no other way forward.
Or, at least, no other positive way forward.
We seem to have lost some kind of understanding of our common humanity.
Of the fact that all of us have the same basic needs and desires: food, drink, a safe place to live... friends, family... to laugh, to share... to be loved.
Black, white, yellow, pink, red, brown... liberal, conservative or anywhere in between... male, female or something else... we are all breathing the same air and living on the same planet, no matter what language we speak or how we dress or how we look.
We need to rebuild that faith in each other. That trust in each other.
We won't always agree - in fact we may violently disagree - but we need to recognize that even in that worst disagreement we are still... fundamentally... human.
With parents and sons and daughters and wives and husbands and brothers and sisters and friends and partners and...
Each with our own dreams and desires for the future...
We must believe in that. And we must bring that belief within us.
And we must act in that capacity. Deeds, not words, as they say.
And through our actions maybe, just maybe, we can be a beacon of hope for others.
It will not be easy. We will fail. Repeatedly. But this week reminds us that we must keep trying.
We must be the light.
Or else darkness wins.
At about noon today I'll head out of Keene, NH, towards Boston's Logan airport to start what will be about 23 hours of travel bringing me to Marrakech, Morocco. I land tomorrow (Friday, 4 March) around 4:00pm local time and then after getting settled in that evening will dive directly into the Africa DNS Forum at 8:30am Saturday morning.
It's going to be a crazy week!
I wrote about all the activities I'll be part of in this post:
I will be giving five different presentations during the week, all of which will be live streamed and recorded. Naturally I'll be participating in a good number of other sessions.
These are all part of a larger set of meetings that we at the Internet Society will be engaged in during the week at both ICANN 55 and the Africa DNS Forum. There are some very large "Internet governance" issues that will be at play this week, as my colleague Konstantinos Komaitis wrote about:
Tuesday, March 8th, is also International Women’s Day, and we’ll be publishing content around the excellent work of women in the world of technology.
We have a significant amount of communication being planned around all of these different events, sessions and announcements.
Being part of the Internet Society Communications team, I will be heavily involved in creating a good bit of our content and distributing it out over our social channels. All of that will be visible publicly here:
and of course on my own personal social network channels.
It’s going to be a busy time. One question people have asked me is:
Will you get to see anything of Marrakech?
The answer, sadly, is... probably NOT.
As typically happens at events like this, I'm going to land at the airport in Marrakech and be transported by a driver to a "hotel compound" outside of Marrakech. The Palmeraie Conference Center is a big place with multiple hotels and all sorts of restaurants... a golf course, pools, etc.
The sad reality is that I will probably spend my entire week there within the compound in the conference rooms until I leave for my flight home on the afternoon of Thursday, March 10. I understand there is some kind of "gala" social event.. but again it may be in the same compound.
We'll see... some of the photos online seem amazing... hopefully I'll get a chance somewhere in there.
I'm excited about the events that will be happening at the meetings at Marrakech and looking forward to meeting many of the people there.
If you are going to be there in Marrakech for either ICANN 55 or the Africa DNS Forum, please do say hello!
And if you are not, but are interested in what is going on at the events, please see our event pages to find the live streams to participate remotely:
So here I go... on the road to Marrakech....
Image credit: Sofiane BELGHALI on Flickr CC BY NC
There are moments in life where you can remember exactly where you were... moments that live with you forever.
Today was the anniversary of one of those.
I was a freshman at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH, and remember being in the "lounge" of Sackett House, one of the "mini-dorms" at UNH, where there was the only TV. (Things were different then.) I remember being there with another resident, a woman named Alison, I believe, who dreamed of being an astronaut and was in the Air Force ROTC program to start down that path.
My memory is hazy after 3 decades about the exact details... but I seem to recall that it was just she and I in the lounge area watching the launch. Her dreaming of being an astronaut, and me dreaming of flying into space and space stations and moon bases and more. I was then and still am a dreamer about all things related to space.
Living in New Hampshire we were of course caught up in the massive attention focused on Christa McAuliffe, the first "teacher in space". The media attention was focused on our state - and particularly Concord, NH, where she taught.
But even with all that massive media attention, we probably were the only ones watching in our small dorm... at that point in time Space Shuttle missions had come to be pretty routine... and "boring" to most people. Wikipedia's list of Shuttle missions shows that there were 9 launches in 1985 and in fact the Space Shuttle Columbia had just launched on January 12, 1986, and landed on January 18.
But the Challenger launch 10 days later was anything but routine.
I remember sitting there watching the launch... and then I just remember the fireball that none of us can ever forget.
I remember the hope... the hope against hope... that maybe, just maybe... someone had survived.
And then the despair when it was clear that nothing could have survived.
I remember Alison in tears... I assume I was probably in tears, too.
I remember that we, as a nation, joined in a collective moment of shock... and then mourning.
The histories tell me that the explosion occurred 73 seconds after launch. Watching one of those original news reports today it seems such a long time.
Later, of course, would be the endless hours of replays... the hearings and investigations... the learning all about O-rings and cold temperatures... and so much more.
Two-and-a-half years later, the Space Shuttle flights would finally resume with great safety improvements - as well as a heightened awareness in the public. Spaceflight was no longer "routine".
But at that moment on that January day in 1986, we who dreamt of space flight watched our dreams be shattered... and the emotional effect lingers to this day.
30 years... 3 decades... seems like such a long time.
But that day... that moment... that image... will live with me forever.
I remember... and I give thanks for the crew of the Challenger... and all of those who have given their lives in pursuit of dreams.
May we all together carry those dreams forward...
Yea! Our daughter's curling team is heading to the 2016 USA Curling Junior National Championships this month! Her team will be one of the top 10 junior women's teams competing for the championship in Willmar, Minnesota, from January 16-23. She and her team are SO excited!
Over the holiday break her curling team competed at the regional "GNCC Playdowns" where three womens teams were competing for two slots at the Nationals. Starting on Sunday, December 27, 2015, it was a very tense set of days, but on Tuesday morning they were able to win their final game and get the second spot.
They will now be "Massachusetts 2" in the list of qualified teams for the Junior Nationals.
The "Massachusetts" name comes from the state where the skip (captain) of the team is located. In our case the skip, Rebecca Rodgers, curls out of the Petersham Curling Club in Petersham, MA, as does our daughter Chloe. The other two girls curl out of the Cape Cod (MA) Curling Club and the Nashua (NH) Country Club.
WE LEAVE ON FRIDAY, JANUARY 15! So this is all happening in a whirlwind of activity in a short time.
If you'd like to follow along with their activities, we've set up a Facebook page at:
It is a public page, so you do NOT need a Facebook account to view the page.
At the Junior Nationals, they will be up against some of the best Juniors teams in the USA, and with the Junior age range being ages 12-21 ... and our girls being 13-15... there are definitely some teams out there with more experience. (And the "High Performance" team in the list is composed of top players chosen by USA Curling and groomed for Olympic competition.) Regardless, the girls are looking forward to playing against these teams and getting experience playing at a national level! It's going to be great!
Of course, as a parent (and in my case also the team coach), there's also the cold, hard reality that it costs a good bit of money to move 8 people (4 players and their parent chaperones) from New England to western Minnesota and feed and house them for 9 days! In fact, our budget shows that it's going to be between $9,000 and $10,000!
We parents are going to make this amazing opportunity happen for these girls however we can... but this is definitely a financial stretch. As a new team, we don't yet have any kind of sponsorship, but we're looking into seeing what we can do. I also set up my first ever GoFundMe page at:
And we've had wonderful generosity from so many people that have already helped push us past the 25% mark! It's so great to see so many people wanting to help send the girls to Nationals! (And more donations are definitely welcome!) We are so incredibly appreciative of all the donations to date, as well as the many other ways that people have offered to help.
Now... the countdown is on... in 11 days we'll be on planes to Minnesota for an amazing week of curling!!
P.S. Our daughter Chloe is on the right end of the photo. For those who know curling, she plays "Lead" on the team. (And the photo is arranged in order of Skip, Vice, Second and Lead.)
 This is the first year these four girls have been curling together as a team. However, they have each been curling for 5-8 years and one of them (Rebecca) was an Alternate on a Nationals team last year and three of them (Rebecca, Anna and Elizabeth) were in the regional playdowns last year as part of another team. All four of them have been playing on teams in youth tournaments (bonspiels) for the past five years, very often playing against each other! So it's fun to have them all together on one team.
So here we go for 2016...
I've found myself quite "busy" this past year, but the question is whether I've been "busy" with the right things. And more to the point - has there been a reason for some of the things I've been doing.
Not that you absolutely NEED a reason for everything... but we live in an age of distraction, and if we aren't careful it's easy to find that we've frittered away time that we could have spent otherwise.
In 2016 I want to think a bit more strategically about the various activities I'm involved in. To make conscious choices about what I'm doing - and for whom - and why.
And to have a bit more of a plan in some cases.
Some common phrases come to mind:
In some ways this is perhaps a continuation of, or a refinement of, the "Essentials" that I talked about in 2015.
The point is that I want to think and act a bit more strategically this year.
In the chaos of 2015, I let my health slip down in my list of priorities. I haven't been making the best choices in terms of eating or exercise. Sadly, I've gained back 25 of the pounds I lost over the past few years. I didn't run a single race in 2015 - and in fact ran a measly 213 miles over the entire year... not even running at all in the entire month of December, and only a pathetic 6 or 7 miles in both October and November. There are other examples.
I need to change this.
I need to put a priority back on taking care of my health. Because if I don't do it, who will? And I want to be around in the long term for my wife and kids.
I want to make time this year for more reflection. Caught up in the maelstrom of being "busy", I haven't been taking the time to...
It's hard to carve out that time to just think about things... to think about how all the dots are connected.
But we need to do so... or at least *I* feel the need to do so.
This time of reflection feeds back into the "strategy" word above... and indeed into the "health" word as some of that reflection can happen while, say, running.
These are my aspirations for 2016... what are yours?
P.S. There is, of course, a fourth word that will consume a great part of 2016 for me... CURLING! Particularly given that my 13-year-old daughter will now be going to the 2016 USA Curling Junior Women's National Championships in two weeks in Minnesota...
Today was one of those days. You know the type I'm talking about.
When the to-do list seems to just keep going and going and going...
When for every one thing you check off, it seems like three more get added...
For every blog post I published or document I created, there was another one that I was reminded that wasn’t done yet. The email messages came in with new projects and things to add to the list. An IM message reminds me that there was another project still lurking out in the background that needs finishing up. Another message bringing a request from someone to know when I’ll finally have a chance to do something I should have done four months ago… the finance department pings me wondering when I’ll finally get to doing expenses… a calendar reminds me that I still need to book the flights for an upcoming trip…
The hits kept on coming and coming...
Not just in my work life, but also in my personal life… the guilt of not being able to meet with someone to help on a project that I helped start, but then haven’t been able to do much more with… drama within organizations with which I am involved… chaos in the lives of those around me who I love dearly… a reminder at dinner time that I need to find substitutes for the curling game I’m not going to be able to play in on Saturday… the lingering feeling that I’m dropping the ball on something else… and then the parent evening tonight… the unfinished email messages...
It was one of those days…
And then when I take a “break” to look in on social media, I find that world is exploding with amazing news all day today! So many things I want to write about… to podcast about… heck, just to READ about…
And the frustration that there are some big pieces of writing that I want to do. There are things happening all around us that I can see - dancing right in front of me - that I know that I can pull together and connect the dots in ways that would help these things make sense to other people. The frustration that I know I could help people understand.
But yet the pieces sit there… dancing just out of range… taunting me… beckoning… calling me to pull them together and make them whole…
It was one of those days…
And as the end of the day approaches there is a sense of frenetic activity… of an unsustainable pace… of burning too many candles at too many ends… of ropes fraying… of the need to do fewer things better… of the need to be more present…
And I must pause...
… and remind myself that sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is to simply...
To take that moment to pause amidst the chaos… to have a moment in the madness…
and then to pick yourself up...
put one foot in front of the other…
… and walk on.
There is something beautiful about running in the hour or so before dawn. Everything is still. Quiet. Awakening.
You see the animals coming out for their breakfast. Rabbits. Birds. Others.
The day is yet to begin.
Full of possibilities and opportunities.
Ours to discover. If we choose to do so.
There is something beautiful about running in the pre-dawn hours.
[Photos are from my run this morning at 5:45am in the Woodlawn and Greenlawn cemeteries in Keene, NH.]
For all of those parents like me who travel a good bit, singer Pat Green recently put out this very well-done and quite touching video, "While I Was Away":
I'd honestly never heard of Pat Green before, but a work colleague shared the link on an internal forum. My work takes me away from my wife and kids for about 25% of the time ... so about 80-90 days a year... and it's definitely very hard on all of us. I'm thankful my job doesn't take me away more, as some of the other professions do. But each time I'm away, I do think of all the things they are learning and doing while I'm not there.
My frustration is that it seems that the only real provider for a MacBook Pro is 3M (here's a search on Amazon) and the problem is simply this...
It's very hard to take the privacy screen on and off!
For whatever reason... perhaps the limited space on the edge of the screen... perhaps customer frustration with past implementations... 3M makes the privacy screen go all the way to the edge of the display and then has you mount it using a double-sided tape. There are no clips or anything that you slide your screen in to. You tape it on to the MBP screen.
Now... IN THEORY... you are supposed to be able to take the privacy screen on and off multiple times. The tape is supposed to keep working.
In practice, I've found that you can remove the screen and replace it... but only a couple of times.
After that... the tape loses its stickiness and the screen starts falling off.
With a previous laptop, this was fine. I mounted a privacy screen on the laptop and pretty much never took it off. It worked fine.
However, with this laptop, I've been in several situations where I wound up needing to give a presentation to a small group of people without a projector and so I needed to take the privacy screen off so that people could gather around and see the presentation. Additionally, I had a couple of situations at home where I wanted to have multiple people look at my laptop.
The end result is that the privacy screen no longer sticks to the MBP.
Now, 3M did provide a few extra strips of tape when I bought the screen... but I have no clue where I put those strips of tape.
My solution right now is to just apply a couple of pieces of regular clear tape to hold the screen in place. It works... although it doesn't look all that pretty.
What do any other MacBook Pro owners do for privacy screens?
Do you have another vendor of privacy screens you like? Do you just leave the screen always on? Do you keep re-applying the tape? Have you found a way to have clips on the side?
I haven't written about our journey with cancer for a while because my wife's own journey has been one of the ongoing tedium of Tamoxifen ... another day, another pill... and more fatigue, joint pain and so many more issues. It is, though, unfortunately our "new normal" ... and will be for at least two more years of Tamoxifen. We just try to keep on going through it...
But in truth, it's been a rough period of time for us since I last wrote in July 2014 in regard to cancer around us.
All of this happening around the time of the four-year anniversary of my wife's own diagnosis.
This last one in particular struck me hard because just back in November I had lunch with my friend and her partner... and he was so alive and seemingly healthy. He seemed like a great guy and they seemed great together. And now only a few months later their world is turned so incredibly upside-down.
So very hard to comprehend.
All "younger" people in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
No easy answers.
All we can do is, as my friend wrote, "hug your families extra tight tonight".
An audio commentary is also available:
Image credit: a photo of Arlington National Cemetery by Todd Van Hoosear on Flickr