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Constraints

Why not? I’m broke. I’m old. I need more sleep. I’m in a wheelchair. I lost my job. My parents are divorced. College is expensive. Nobody cares. I’m in debt. My house is tiny. Too many constraints.

But are constraints a curse or blessing?

How often have you stood in the toothpaste isle, eyes roving from box to box, paralyzed by infinite possibilities? How often has your brain locked while trying to order food from an overflowing menu? How often have you despaired of picking a perfect color from thousands?

So are constraints a curse or blessing?

I believe the answer is your choice. If you are always straining against the end of your leash, you’ll only continue when given a longer one. Are you tired of straining yet? If instead you focus on the possibilities within your reach, you’ll accomplish far more with deeper rest and satisfaction. When your reach is expanded, so will your output while maintaining rest and satisfaction.

And oddly enough, creativity actually thrives within constraints. Anyone can convey an idea with many words, but to do so with only three requires raw creativity. A photographer employs a limited field of view to form a breath-taking composition. Elegant poems are penned within a strict rhyme and rhythm. A carpenter uses a tree’s grain and imperfections to craft beautifully unique furniture. Creativity thrives within constraints.

Think how you can capitalize on your unique constraints. Flex your creative muscles and do something amazing with your life. And don’t wish you had another’s constraints. It’s absurd for a photographer to be constrained by rhyme and rhythm. Your life can truly be fulfilling in every situation. It’s your choice.

Piece by Piece

Imagine you have a junk piano needing permanent vacation in a dumpster. No one is available to help lug the bulky 300 pounds up and down steps followed by 100 yards to the dumpster, nor can you pay a professional $300. How would you do it?

Like any monumental task: piece by piece. Start with something simple and obvious, and continue in this manner. When something won’t budge, avoid the temptation to grab a hammer. Take a step back and find a tiny piece that won’t rebel. Then another and another. Suddenly the large, stubborn piece falls off.

You’ll likely face an obstacle undefeatable with the afore tactics. Some can remain, but for others you simply need help. Don’t waste weeks banging your head against a door for which your neighbor has a key.

As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Life Disrupted

I hate disruptions. I wish they’d disappear forever. I make a plan in order to follow it, but then disruption. Suddenly my plan has been thrown into chaos. Now what? Sometimes (usually) I get angry. But I don’t like angry. If only disruptions were disrupted, but no, life.

Is there no escape? Wait, isn’t there a term for a pleasant surprise or fortunate happenstance? Yes! Serendipity. Could disruptions be serendipity in disguise? Always fighting reality is a slow way to die. What if disruptions caused life?! They can. The difference? You.

God, the epic role model, has a million disruptions every day. People die and go to hell. That’s not His plan. Sin disrupted. But He’s not angrily fighting reality. He chose serendipity, and now there is Jesus. Disruption to life.

I was starting work early, but then disruption. My wife is sick and needs my help. This was not my plan. I can ignore it; I can fight it. But I can’t change it. Instead, I buy her a dozen roses. Disruption to life.

Choose wisely.

I’m a Writer

Hello, my name is Brandon. I love to write (shhh, don’t tell my middle school English teacher!) . I’m not sure why, but I’m being pulled toward writing more and more. Perhaps I’ll write a book someday. There’s something about taking invisible things, like ideas and thoughts, and making them visible using clear, concise wording that is nearly irresistible! Perhaps it ties into my passion for healing people’s sicknesses and injuries in Jesus’ name. I love taking an invisible reality and manifesting it for others to see. The simpler and shorter the means, the greater the impact. Who has time to read a 50 page book to learn something that could be said in three sentences? And who has time to pray an hour each day for someone to be healed when Jesus simply walked up and said, “Be healed!”?

I’m ready to level up my writing skills. I’ll no more gain the skill of a master writer by merely reading than I’ll become a master musician by listening to music. You have to roll up your sleeves and do it! I’m going to write something every week. I’ve thought about trying to write X amount of words every day, but I feel it’s an ill fit for me. You’re invited to follow on my blog, but I won’t blame you if you don’t. Who wants to listen to Mozart when he’s just learning to play?

I’m a writer, but you are too! Don’t believe it? You’re a writer like a baby is a runner. Your writing chops may not be developed yet, but you have them! Don’t ever limit yourself by what you think you are or aren’t. Relentlessly seek out your hidden potential. You’ll be surprised!

Automatically Connect & Disconnect Tera Term USB COM Ports

As an embedded software engineer, I frequently utilize serial connections to embedded devices, often using virtual USB COM ports. This resulted in a pain point that I set out to resolve by good ol’ hacking.

Oftentimes, I am connected to a device’s USB COM port with Tera Term and then need to reset the device. When I do that, the virtual USB COM port is also reset. Therefore, each time I reset a device, I have to manually disconnect the Tera Term COM port, reset the device, wait for the USB COM port to enumerate, and then manually reconnect with Tera Term. This is a relatively small thing, I know, yet when you do this many times a day, it really adds up.

To solve this problem, I wrote an AutoHotkey script for Windows that automatically disconnects Tera Term if the connected to port goes away and then automatically reconnects Tera Term if that port comes back. Continue Reading…

Being a Child of God

Recently I was pondering at how for years I used to live as God’s son without ever hearing His voice or knowing what He was thinking about me. I completely trusted Him and could see Him doing things in and around my life, yet there was a real disconnect. There was no intimacy. As I was pondering this, I realized how crazy it would be if the way I lived with God was the way a child lived with its parents. And so I wrote this:

(as you read it, really imagine what it would be like and then think about God being in the place of “your parents.”)

Imagine that since your birth, your parents have been living in another country with no correspondence whatsoever. The only way for you to know them and be trained by them is by reading their biography (written before your birth). You read it daily, striving to glean as much as you can about them and how they want you to live. You send them letters every day asking for help and to know them more, but you never receive any response from them. Occasionally something will happen in your life that almost certainly seems to be arranged by your parents, yet you yearn to feel their hug and hear them say, “Son/Daughter, I love you. You are more precious to me than anything else in the universe.” Yet as time goes on, you become more and more confused with how to have a relationship with someone who never responds to you. You look around at your siblings who seem very satisfied with this arrangement and act like everything is perfectly normal. You once mentioned to them how something doesn’t seem right, but they quickly shut you down, warning you to never question these types of things lest you be deceived or kidnapped. But deep down, you know that somehow it is indeed possible to actually have a meaningful and real relationship with your parents. At the horror of your siblings, you set out on a quest to actually find your parents and continually live in their presence. The journey may be rough and you might make a few wrong turns, but when you finally reach your parents, their warm embrace and loving words of praise become to you the most amazing thing in the world.

How to Delete Old Notes From Gmail

Using the Apple Notes app and syncing it with a Gmail account will eventually clog your archive folder because every version of every note is stored as a separate email with the Notes tag. Each time you update a note, the Notes app archives the old version and creates a new email.

Over time, this can become a real hindrance. For example, when searching for an old email, you may find that half of the results are old notes.

I looked high and low trying to find an easy way to delete old notes from Gmail without any success. However, thanks to some insights I gained, I experimentally arrived at the below search query to match all old note versions while excluding the latest version and all other emails.

from:YOUR_EMAIL_HERE@gmail.com -has:userlabels -in:sent -in:chat -in:draft -in:inbox

After searching for that query (be sure to replace the email address with your own), you can select all and then delete with one click!

The Impact Trap

I stumbled across this article by Andrew Bosworth a couple of weeks ago. It’s an outstanding nugget of truth on growth and our careers. Here is a short snippet to whet your taste buds:

We must take the long view of our careers. Optimizing for immediate impact is a reasonable thing to do day by day but to avoid the impact trap we must consider impact over the course of years or even decades. That way when we get to the top of yet another mountain we have the courage to once again forge into the valley to pursue even higher peaks.

Read the full article here.