First, hello and welcome! My name is Michael. I am 44 years old and live in the Albany, NY area. I hope that you find my writing enjoyable, insightful, uplifting and sincere.
I enjoy writing quite a bit, though I haven’t had a reason or a forum in which to do it other than technical writing at work. Also, I am generally a more passive, reflecting person and sometimes can’t respond
To that end, I wanted to share some background on three of the major pillars of my life that I expect to blog about the most.
Computers and Technology
I have a diverse computer background, in both hardware and software. My interest in computers started from a rather young age.
My first experience with a computer was the original IBM personal computer. It originally had two floppy drives, no hard drive, no sound card, and only 640KB of memory. I watched my dad upgrade it over the subsequent years with hard drives, a CD-ROM drive
In 4th grade, I used the Alpha IV database program to create a library card-catalog-like inventory system for the books on my bookshelf. In high school, I used Access 97 to create a tracking database for the times and scores of the Track and Field team. Over time, I dabbled a little bit in QBasic programming and took a Basic programming class. I also made my first Web site, which I
At first, I did not go to college for Computer Science. I had always considered a hobby and never thought of pursuing programming further. However, after taking the first introductory computer science courses as part of my math major, I decided that I enjoyed it enough and could be successful enough with it to make it into a career.
My primary focus area within the computer industry is software and database development. I spent many years specializing in the Microsoft.Net platform and C#. It was an easy language for me to get into, coming from my roots during college using C++ and Java. With the growth of interactive web front-ends, I have started building my expertise in Angular and ReactJS, as well as doing more Java programming.
I currently work as a lead software engineer for a financial planning company. I have worked at the company for 22 years. I consider myself very blessed to have a good job in a stable company and very privileged to be working with the talented and energetic team of people that I do.
I have also assisted several clients
Music and Singing
I have enjoyed singing and music since I was a child. I sang in the elementary school chorus in 4th and 5th grade. I first started since with the music ministry at my church in 10th grade, and then joined my high school choir during my senior year. I continued to sing in the music ministry and choir while attending St. Bonaventure University. Since then, I have continued to sing in church music ministries and would love to eventually find another choir to sing in, as my time allows. I have also started contributing online to various virtual choir and collaboration projects.
In regards to instruments, I took lessons to play the organ between 4th and 7th grade. At that point, the material was becoming more classical, and I really didn’t have an interest in that style. However, I continued to play and learn church music. Over time, I taught myself to play the piano with a heavily chord-based style so that I could continue to play that music that I enjoyed. I occasionally substitute on piano for the church music director when she is away.
One of my most memorable musical experiences was singing this doo-wop medley arrangement with 8 other seniors on stage at our high school graduation:
Aside from being raised Catholic from childhood, my spiritual awakening began in 7th grade when I started attending Charismatic healing masses with my mother. I felt a strong connection with the praise and worship music and the movement of the spirit there. I subsequently attended Charismatic conferences as well as the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Philadelphia in 1993, where the theme was “Let the Spirit Ring”. It was the wearing of the NCYC t-shirt in school that led one of my classmates to invite me to a Happening retreat. I enjoyed the openness, sharing and sense of togetherness with the other teens.
When I was in 11th grade and preparing for the sacrament of confirmation, I chose Paul as my confirmation name. I envisioned myself in his role as an evangelist, sharing the message of hope from the gospels. I also very much associated with St. Paul’s message in his letter to Timothy: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith
While attending St. Bonaventure University, I had available many opportunities to share and to grow spiritually with my peers. The Franciscan friars maintained a nearby retreat center, Mt. Irenaeus, with many evenings, overnights and weekends away available to students. I was part of the Search retreat team that delivered retreats for high school students and the pro-life group, both of which would gather for prayer weekly. I attended weekday mass several times a week as my schedule allowed and sang in the music ministry for Sunday night mass. My freshman year, I also had the opportunity to travel to Italy on a pilgrimage with the university choir. We hosted a concert in a church in Rome, toured Rome and Assisi, and attended the Papal mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the feast of the Epiphany.
Going to a Catholic, Franciscan school certainly made it easy to feel nurtured by God’s love through the community present there. I was able to immerse myself in different spiritual works and practices, which certainly made it easier to feel that connection to God and God’s influence in my life. Life after college out in the “real world” without that community presented much more of a challenge to maintain that spiritual connection. At first, working in such a technical and intellectual career, I struggled with how to find God at work. In some sense, my spirituality felt compartmentalized to Sundays. There was even a stretch of time where I stopped going to church.
I’d like to say that there was some significant turning point over the last 23 years that helped to restore my faith and my sense of connection. But largely it was a progression of God’s applying small and gentle movements to allow me to see how I can be proactive in my own spirituality as an individual. Part of my goal is to share some of those moments here with you as I continue my journey.
These days, I try to maintain and grow my spiritual connection in a few ways. I continue to sing in the music ministry and listen to Christian and praise and worship music playlists on Spotify. I listen to the Clouds and Sun podcast, a periodic spiritual reflection by one of the founding friars of Mt.