Did you ever wonder why IT diagrams always use a cloud to show an element where stuff goes in and comes out, but we’re not 100% sure what happens inside? That was originally called a “TAMO Cloud” – which stood for “Then A Miracle Occurred”. It indicated an area of tech that was inscruitable, but nevertheless something we saw as reliable and consistent in it’s output. For IT pros who hold a strong religious, ethical, or moral point of view, our journey has had its own sort of TAMO Cloud – where grounded technology and lofty philosophical ideals blend in ways that can be anything from challenging to uplifting to humbling. In this series, we sit down with members of the IT community to explore their journeys – both technical and theological – and see what lessons we can glean from where they’ve been, where they are today, and where they see themselves in the future. This episode features my talk with a fellow Solarian, Jason Carrier. Listen to our discussion or read the transcript below.
Leon Adato (00:32):
Welcome to our podcast, where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate, IT, we’re not here to preach or teach you our religion. We’re here to explore ways we make our careers, it professionals mesh, or at least not conflict, with our religious life. This is technically religious.
Leon Adato (00:53):
Did you ever wonder why it diagrams always use a cloud to show an element where stuff goes in and comes out, but we’re not 100% sure what happens inside that was originally called a TAMO cloud, which stood for then a miracle occurred. It indicated an area of tech that was inscrutable, but nevertheless, something we saw as reliable and consistent in its output for it. Pros who hold a strong religious, ethical, or moral point of view. Our journey has had its own sort of TAMO cloud where grounded technology and lofty, philosophical ideals blend in ways that can be anything from challenging to uplifting, to humbling. In this series, we sit down with members of the IT community to explore their journeys, both technical and theological and see what lessons we can glean from where they’ve been, where they are today and where they see themselves in the future.
Leon Adato (01:40):
My name is Leon Adato, and the other voice you’ll hear on this episode is Jason carrier.
Jason Carrier (01:45):
Hey, thanks for having me.
Leon Adato (01:46):
It’s great to have you back. Um, so as is our want here on tech, uh, technically religious, we want to start with some shameless. Self-promotion Jason, tell us a little bit about yourself, where people can find you on the interwebs, what you’re working on, all that good stuff.
Jason Carrier (02:00):
Sure thing. So, uh, my name is Jason carrier. I’m a product manager at SolarWinds, and I do a little bit of freelance on the side. Uh, I’ve got a strong interest in startups, uh, technology, venture capital investment banking. Uh, you can find me on Twitter at, uh, @network_carrier, uh, and LinkedIn at @adjacent-carrier. Uh, you could also find me on my website, which is, uh, bodhi.net, B H O D i.net. And, uh, religiously, I consider myself a Buddhist, but I’m also kind of a general student of philosophy. I like kind of studying, uh, different schools of thought in general.
Leon Adato (02:34):
Very nice. Okay. And if you were scribbling all that stuff down or you start scribbling the stuff we talk about later, stop it, put your hands back on the wheel and pay attention to the road because we will have show notes for all of that the day after this podcast drops. So you’ll be able to find all the links to anything that we talk about over there. All right. Um, so this is the tales from the TAMO cloud, where we talk about sort of our journey through tech and religion. And I want to start off with the technical side. Let’s start with, what work are you doing today? What kinds of stuff in tech are you focused on on day to day?
Jason Carrier (03:10):
Uh, so my, my day job, I’m a product manager for network performance monitor and voice network quality monitor. So, uh, basically it’s like network monitoring products, uh, that sort of help people get visibility into their, uh, network infrastructure.
Leon Adato (03:23):
Uh huh. Well, I, I I’m familiar with monitoring myself since we work at the same company, so that’s good.
Jason Carrier (03:29):
Leon Adato (03:31):
Um, so I presume that you did not, uh, exit the womb already doing monitoring software and uh, product manager work. So I guess the question is where did you start in tech?
Jason Carrier (03:44):
Yeah, so, um, I almost did. Not network monitoring coming out of the womb doing technology stuff. Um, my dad has, uh, was an electronics technician in the air force and, uh, so I was kinda raised, you know, building RF cables and, uh, he used to take me on jobs, building, uh, cell sites, you know, back in the, uh, late nineties, you know,
Leon Adato (04:03):
You were really?
Jason Carrier (04:03):
So I, yeah, I was just going to say, I grew up learning electronics theory and stuff like that. So I went to high school and got into computers from there.
Leon Adato (04:11):
Yeah. I was going to say you were born with a silver cat five cable in your mouth. I mean,
Jason Carrier (04:14):
Pretty much it was spoon-fed.
Leon Adato (04:15):
Which is kind of toxic, but for a baby, but, but still, yeah. Wow. Um, that’s a great pedigree to have. So, uh, although it may be, I could probably write a story that filled in the gaps. I want to hear how you actually made it from, from those humble beginnings, uh, at your father’s knee as an electronics technician. How did you get to where you are today?
Jason Carrier (04:40):
Uh, I’ve, I’ve traveled a lot. Um, so basically started in El Paso.
Leon Adato (04:43):
Lot of frequent flier miles.
Jason Carrier (04:45):
Yeah, very much so, but literally and figuratively. Uh, so I started out in El Paso, uh, working at a, an internet cafe, uh, back in the, uh, early nineties or late nineties, like 99 ish, 98, right in there. And then, uh, joined the air force after that, uh, traveled to a bunch of places, Okinawa, Saudi Arabia, um, Thailand, uh, and then Omaha and Tucson, uh, less fun, but, uh, uh, then was DOD contractor for a while, about 10 years or so. Um, did a tour in Iraq, spent some time in Kuwait and then, uh, spent some time in Hawaii too, which was a lot of fun, uh, working with the sock pack guys out there. Um, and then I took a hiatus, uh, one year off of massage for massage school. Uh, it had been something that I’d wanted to do for a while and, uh, kinda was, was bleeding into the religious views and philosophic views. I had, I wanted to do something kind of different work on, uh, you know, kind of the emotional intelligence and personal skills and you know, that kind of thing.
Leon Adato (05:39):
Jason Carrier (05:39):
And then, uh, uh, decided there’s not enough money in it. So I went back to a government contracting for a bit, uh, worked at Fort Huachuca and, uh, went back to Hawaii for awhile. And then, uh, I kind of came to a point where I wanted to make it so that my efforts were, uh, not going to a war fighter so much, but I’m sort of focused more in a, um, entrepreneurial kind of direction, which has always been a side passion. I’d been kind of neglecting. Uh, so I came to Austin Texas to do the, the technology commercialization program over at UT, uh, which was a great program, highly recommend it. Um, I worked at a Clear Data, local startup here for a bit, uh, as a network engineer while I was going through school. And then, uh, after that, I was a venture partner over at, uh, John Bromley, Texas venture labs at the university there, um, at UT. Uh, so I basically helped, uh, uh, startups with, uh, go to market validation and, um, uh, kind of business research projects. Uh, so pairing cross-functional teams and grad students up with, uh, uh, local area startups.
Leon Adato (06:40):
Jason Carrier (06:40):
And that’s what led me to SolarWinds.
Leon Adato (06:42):
Very nice. Okay. So I couldn’t have written that story at all. I mean, that was not the path that I would have invented if you had given me just the starting and end points. And I think that that’s an important thing for, to remember if you’re listening, is that, um, many times our route from the there to the here, it can be circuitous, uh, along the way. I also, I want to talk for a minute. You said something really interesting about that, the work you were doing in the air force wasn’t necessarily, um, the, the work or the support you wanted to be providing in the world. And I think that’s another important recognition is that sometimes the modalities or the things that we do at one point in our life are incredibly valuable and they help us get to where we are today. And yet we couldn’t go back to them. We couldn’t do them now because they wouldn’t serve us the way that they served us at the time. And I’m not thumbing our nose at our past or trying to, uh, wave it away or anything. But just to, to say, yeah, that was, that worked for me then, but it doesn’t work for me now. And I recognize that I changed, right. I mean, it seems like there’s some of that in there.
Jason Carrier (07:53):
Oh, absolutely. I have nothing but respect for everyone in the armed forces department of defense. Uh, I, the experiences I had there were, were definitely transformative as I was growing up. I got a lot of my discipline, grit, hard work, you know, uh, ethos kind of thing comes from that military background. Uh, I couldn’t, you know, plus with my dad, you know, being a retired air force guy, uh, it it’s had a lifelong impacts for me. Um, it’s just the kind of the future facing direction. I’m looking at more like the outcome and I’m trying to live, uh, a life. That’s kind of more in alignment with the philosophy that I’ve arrived at. It’s been a long, lifelong evolution. Yeah.
Leon Adato (08:30):
Right. And that’s a perfect segue to the second part of the episode, which is the religious side. So I will qualify this by saying that labels are frequently very difficult for people to, uh, settle on they’re imprecise, no matter how many words you throw into it. When I ask people, you know, what are you? They usually start with some form of, well, I’m kind of this, and I’m a little bit of this, it’s always, there’s always a qualifier in there. Despite that fact, if you were going to define yourself religiously, what would you call yourself?
Jason Carrier (09:05):
And that’s why I use the phrase. Self-styled Buddhist.
Leon Adato (09:07):
Jason Carrier (09:07):
Because if you say, if you say Buddhist, it’s sort of denote in my mind, it sort of denotes that there’s a, a group that you’re a part of. And, uh, I’ve never really been a joiner when it comes to that kind of stuff. I’ve always kind of more, uh, dabbled and kind of pulled from it and ingrained it. Uh, what’s gonna work for me kind of way, you know,
Leon Adato (09:27):
Right. Synthesized it to, to fit in with your lifestyle and your values and your general worldview. No, I can absolutely say.
Jason Carrier (09:35):
Leon Adato (09:35):
And again, I find lots of people do that, whether or not that synthesis is more easily, um, is more easily defined as a mainstream, whatever mainstream Catholic or mainstream, you know, Orthodox Judaism or whatever it is. And they’re comfortable within those boundaries. There still some synthesis that happens where it’s like, well, I’m at this, except I do this other thing too, or whatever it is. So that’s, that’s not uncommon. So that’s where you are today. Um, and I want to, because it is self-styled, is there anything that, um, you would use as touch points for somebody who’s saying, okay, so I know a little bit about Buddhism, but what does he mean by self style? Like what are some of the aspects of that that I would notice?
Jason Carrier (10:20):
Sure. So, uh, I, I really, I tend to get away from the things that I can’t prove or validate that don’t have. Uh, so for, for example, uh, if you’re talking about kind of like ancient Vedic gods and things like that, I have less of an interest in that. I focus more on things that you would also find in like the realm of psychology or.
Leon Adato (10:39):
Jason Carrier (10:39):
Neuroscience or, you know, things that kind of be, can kind of be empirically backed. I have a tendency towards those. Not that there’s anything wrong with, you know, going with a more mythology driven approach to things it’s just.
Leon Adato (10:50):
Jason Carrier (10:50):
Not my chosen path. Right. And I think it’s, you know, many, many journey are many different paths. One destination is sort of the, the, the view that I have on that.
Leon Adato (10:58):
Jason Carrier (10:58):
Um, that, yeah, I think that answers your question.
Leon Adato (11:00):
Great. Great. Okay. So I’m presuming that that’s not how the faith that you were born into, so, uh,
Jason Carrier (11:06):
Leon Adato (11:06):
Where did you start?
Jason Carrier (11:08):
Well, so my, my mom, uh, actually did her best to raise me as a Presbyterian. And then we transitioned to the Lutheran church when I was growing up. Um, so I played the part, you know, went to Sunday school and, um, uh, you know, was an acolyte for a bit and,
Leon Adato (11:23):
Jason Carrier (11:23):
You know, did all that kind of stuff. Uh, but I never really felt like it was something that I believed in. It was just something that I was kind of doing for mom, you know?
Leon Adato (11:30):
Jason Carrier (11:30):
So, uh, when I was around 16, I basically just stopped going to church and considered myself agnostic. That was the, the label I used for for quite some years.
Leon Adato (11:39):
Yeah. And again, you know, when we, when we’re growing up, first of all, all we know is all we know. And, um, there’s a lot of layers, even though it’s easy to pigeonhole religion as a thing, the fact is that religion carries a lot of additional layers of community and, um, friendship and family and just all those ties. And so there are parts of our religious experience, especially as kids that really it’s like actually the religion part was never part of it. It was always the social, or it was always the work, you know, we were always out doing, you know, helping somebody, you know, repair somebody’s house or whatever. And I just liked swinging a hammer. Like you could call it Lutheran, but I like swinging, swinging hammer. So, you know, a lot of times it takes us a while to parse out the fact that these are the pieces that work for me and those pieces actually have no or minimal religious impact. And at that point, then you end up asking the question, well, what do I believe? So picking up where you were 16 and you had settled on the label agnostic, how did you get from there? The Presbyterian Lutheran, social, you know, 16 year old dutiful son side to the self-styled Buddhist. Like, what was that path? I won’t even try to pretend that I know how that was going to look. I want to hear this one.
Jason Carrier (12:57):
Sure. Uh, my, my life’s had all kinds of twists and turns in it. Uh, I’ve been told it’s, you know, it would be a fun book or something someday, but, um, so I, I w I was going through my divorce actually. And, uh, there was a quote that I had heard, uh, just prior to that, that moment in my life, uh, from, from Einstein where he talked about, uh, uh, basically it was I’m going to butcher it, it was something along the lines of, you know, uh, all religions are probably false, but if one could really help the world, it would be Buddhism. It was something along those lines. Um, and, and that, that I’ve always been a big fan of, uh, Einstein. Uh, so, you know, that kind of had a little bit of an impact. It was tickling in the back of my mind.
Jason Carrier (13:34):
And then I came across a book as I was going through my divorce called storms. Can’t hurt the sky.
Leon Adato (13:39):
Jason Carrier (13:39):
The byline was a Buddhist path through divorce. Um, and so I read that and it just, it, it was the most resonant description of a worldview I’d ever heard before. Uh, some of the words that I heard just, just really had a big impact on me. And so I started drilling into, uh, this was about the time I went to Iraq to, uh, I started reading all kinds of philosophy books, uh, primarily from the Dalai Lama and, uh, Pemasha drone is a, uh, monk who lives up in Canada. Um,
Leon Adato (14:08):
Jason Carrier (14:08):
And, you know, did, uh, a lot of writing on, uh, kind of internalization and reflection and introspection and, you know, that kind of thing. And, uh, it was around that time. I just, you know, kind of started describing myself as a Buddhist instead of an agnostic. You know.
Leon Adato (14:21):
Nice. Okay. That’s good. And it is, it is absolutely delightful. And, um, life changing when you, you hear your experiences reflected in the words of someone else, and you say, Oh my goodness, that’s me. And, and you have more ways of describing your experiences or who you are, because it’s reflected in the words of another person. I mean, you know, you, the, the phrase, the con, the phrase that you hear a lot right, is you can’t be it if you don’t see it. And so having seen someone reflect the thing that, um, echoed or mirrored your experience allowed you to put a better, more accurate and more compelling label on it, that’s really, um, that’s wonderful. And I still couldn’t have written it.
Jason Carrier (15:09):
Yeah. I think that’s an important point too, is that it’s, it’s just a label. It’s just a, it’s just a badge you wear on your sleeve, you know, inside we’re all the same, regardless of what words you want to use. There’s just one, you know, uh, yeah,
Leon Adato (15:23):
Right right. well I mean,
Jason Carrier (15:24):
The rest of it’s it’s semantics.
Leon Adato (15:25):
Yeah. I mean, self-definition in one, respect self-definition is important. Um, I’m a big believer that affinity, you know, affinity groups, uh, matter, because again, you, you, we look for mentors, whether it’s as it people or it’s as, you know, co-religionists or whatever it is, we look for people who have a frame of reference where I can say, I’m going through this thing. Do you know anything about it? And they can say, yes, actually my experiences or what I’ve read, or this piece of work, you know, helped me, maybe it will help you. And that could be, I really am having trouble wrapping my head around SDN right now, because I’m a systems guy help me. And they’re like, yes, absolutely. This is written with the systems guy in mind. So I think those labels are not throw-away as much as again, their self reference, you know,
Jason Carrier (16:17):
Leon Adato (16:17):
Referent, plural. Um, they’re a way of me being able to quickly and accurately describe a set of experiences that I’m having so that you can respond to it and hopefully support it. I don’t know if that, that works for you.
Jason Carrier (16:31):
Yeah, that definitely. Yeah. I totally agree with that. It’s a way of, uh, kind of communicating to one another kind of where, uh, where we’re coming from, like what viewpoint we sort of default to. Yeah.
Leon Adato (16:42):
Right, Right. And, and that’s why I start the section by saying that that labels are imprecise because they’re, without writing, without handing someone a book of me and say, here we go read this and then you’ll know who I am right now, because its going to change.
Jason Carrier (16:56):
Sure. Yeah. It’s always more complicated than the two words you share. Yeah.
Leon Adato (16:59):
Right. Exactly. Um, all right. So that, that lets us pivot to the blending of the two, um, the, the challenges and, or the, the joys that you found as somebody with a strong religious, moral, or ethical point of view, and also somebody who is deeply involved in the technical side of the world. And we know that those things sometimes create conflict. Sometimes they create amazing, um, complimentary experiences. I was just curious, you know, what kinds of things you’ve had in your journey, your dual journeys?
Jason Carrier (17:33):
Yeah. So from a technology, we actually had a conversation about this in one of the other episodes we just did recently, uh, talking about how technology is actually helped with, uh, from, from my perspective that the religious pursuit aspect,
Leon Adato (17:46):
Jason Carrier (17:46):
Um, the, or Philosophical, however you want to, uh, coin that. Um,
Leon Adato (17:52):
Jason Carrier (17:52):
The, the, the other piece though, is, uh, coming from a DOD, you know, defense, a warfighter kind of background, and then, uh, really delving into, uh, for all intents and purposes, pacifist, religion. I don’t really consider myself a true pacifist if we’re doing labels, but, uh,
Leon Adato (18:08):
Jason Carrier (18:08):
Uh, it’s, it’s definitely a very pacifist type religion, you know, uh, shies away from violence. And so that created kind of a con, over a period of time. It wasn’t an overnight thing, kind of created an internal conflict of desire to, um, really just focus my efforts in a different, um, industry, you know,
Leon Adato (18:25):
Jason Carrier (18:25):
Different do, do a different thing. That was the biggest kind of impact that, that had from a career perspective.
Leon Adato (18:31):
Nice. And, and yeah, that, we talked about it earlier, that that need to pivot away from one thing to move on to another, because of your growth, because in one respect, the thing that you were doing before was working until it didn’t. And when it doesn’t, you have to be honest with yourself and say, this isn’t working. It doesn’t make it bad. It just makes it not working for me right now, for whatever reason. Um, a friend of mine who we haven’t gotten on the show, um, likes to talk about the moment as he was progressing from sort of reform or non-Orthodox Judaism into Judaism. And he said, you know, I always ate pepperoni pizza. Until the day I didn’t. And that was the day I didn’t. And that was it, you know, there was, there was nothing more to it, but there was also nothing less to it. So, you know, that those, those work experiences before worked for you until they didn’t, and then, You move on. Um, so that was
Jason Carrier (19:25):
It’s simple, obvious and also profound all at the same time. Yeah.
Leon Adato (19:28):
Right, right. Yeah. Well, it’s, it’s a big deal for you. It’s often not as big a deal for anyone except your mother, especially with food. Usually if you say, I don’t eat blah anymore, usually moms have a really hard time. In fact, there’s a, there’s a Jewish book that’s called, “What Do You Mean You Can’t Eat in My Kitchen Anymore?” And it is all about a daughter who becomes Orthodox and navigating the maternal relationship about, you know, will you eat over here anymore? How do you do that without creating, without creating emotional conflict, but still remaining true to this set of religious, you know, uh, values and, restrictions that she had taken on. So same thing, like I said, you know.
Jason Carrier (20:13):
Yeah, Yeah. I definitely, that definitely resonates with me. My, my mom, uh, came from a pretty conservative, you know, uh, background and did her best to raise me in that, uh, you know, kind of ethos.
Leon Adato (20:24):
Jason Carrier (20:24):
And, uh, seeing me go to Okinawa and embrace sushi and seeing you go to, you know, uh, India and just, I love Indian food. I, I love all kinds of, uh, that kind of thing. You know, having that much more global perspective than, than what I was really raised with, uh, has led to a lot of interesting conversations. For sure.
Leon Adato (20:44):
Nice. Um, so that was one of the, one of the challenges that you faced with your technical and your religious life. Were there any points or any experiences where it created, um, sort of a positive outcome where it’s like, Oh, wow. You know, being technical is really great for my Buddhism or being Buddhist is really great for my technical work or whatever it is.
Jason Carrier (21:03):
The job that I have now. Yeah. Being a product manager, um, being able to, uh, listen to folks calmly and, uh, objectively as they’re, you know, tearing your product apart sometimes, uh, with, uh, you know, pointing out all of its deficiencies or, you know, but being able to stay calm and not take it personally and, you know, just, just stay in the moment and be with them and, uh, practicing empathy and compassion and, um, um, social skills, you know, those are, those are things that I learned more so through faith in massage school, then I learned, uh, the way that most do in, in like a grade school, uh, you know, interacting with their peers.
Leon Adato (21:40):
Oh, I don’t, I don’t know that, um, no, the dog, the dog is fine. I agree with the dog.
Jason Carrier (21:46):
Leon Adato (21:46):
Um, the, uh, I think there’s a lot of people who didn’t learn it in grade school either, but I think that they learn it in the school of hard knocks. And so being able to pick that up and embrace it as part of your faith journey is fantastic. I’m, you know, I’m definitely a fan, um, of that. This has been an amazing conversation. I loved hearing the story of your journeys. Um, any final thoughts, lightning round, anything else that you want to share with the listeners?
Jason Carrier (22:15):
You know, I had to really think about this one to, to just pick one. And the one I landed on is a lot of us seem to walk around kind of on autopilot. So, uh, one of my, my big lessons learned in life, um, that sounds really simple, but it’s actually profound is stop and breathe.
Leon Adato (22:32):
Jason Carrier (22:32):
Take a few breaths, you know, let it sit for a second, whatever it is, let, let the answer sort of bubble up from a place of calm. And that’s my best advice.
Leon Adato (22:42):
Very nice. Very good. Jason, it’s always a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you so much.
Jason Carrier (22:48):
Sure thing. Thanks for having me. This was a lot of fun.
Leon Adato (22:51):
Thanks for making time for us this week, to hear more of technically religious visit our website, technically religious.com, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect us on social media.