Monday, October 19, 2009

Another lazy week that begins with me sitting at my desk, waiting for something to happen. Three hours spent chugging coffee, browsing YouTube on my phone (while pretending not to), browsing Facebook on my work PC (while pretending not to) and brooding over the Razorbacks' loss to Florida. Boss is out with the pig flu, I'm covering 2 other reps who also don't have much of anything going on, and I'd rather be sleeping. Welcome to Monday morning.

Danielle and I are going on a Caribbean cruise Dec. 13th - 20th. It will be our first time taking a cruise, and should be a blast. We leave out of Port of Miami, stopping in the Cayman Islands, Honduras, Cozumel and Belize. A week of sightseeing and being lazy. Sounds like a plan. Problem is, I have to give up the remainder of my vacation time for the year, and work during the 2-week company shutdown that begins the following week. Oh well, at least it will be low key the week after I get back.

Started dieting and working out at the beginning of last week. I'm a bit more motivated this time than in previous attempts the last couple years. Particularly because being in shape is so directly tied to how well certain parts of the body "perform". Waaaay too much info there...stopping that conversation before it goes any further. Anyway, I'm hoping to get down to around 215-220 lbs, about where I was when I started at JBU. Also trying to find out what workout will best get me there. My co-workers keep talking about this P90X thing that's out, apparently it's a killer workout that helps you lose a lot of weight and build a lot of muscle in 90 days. Might have to check it out.

I think it's time to pop my Lean Cuisine panini in the mic and get chowing. Bored, bored, bored...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The one time of year the government puts money in my pocket

That's's HP Federal "harvest season." The one point in the year where, while the government spends taxpayer money on HP equipment, they also end up putting a very small portion of that money in my pocket. No complaints on this end.

The downside being that I've been absolutely swamped these past several weeks. But hey, better than being bored. And now that I don't have to worry about phone call metrics anymore, I can spend my time being truly productive rather than worrying about hitting call numbers with useless talk time and calls made. Yet, I also have to be more producing of revenue in order to "show my work."

In other news, new bass is in the house and sounding fantastic. Also got the P-Bass back with its new pickups and wiring. Put it together with the Aphex Bass Xciter and it sounds absolutely amazing. Couldn't be happer...well, unless I had an Ampeg SVT Vintage Re-Issue head and matching 8x10 cab to play it through. Wishful thinking at this point. Once I get the Boss ODB-3 Bass Overdrive pedal I won on ebay Monday, I'll be rockin'.

Also got a new laptop, an HP HDX 16". It's a nice, high-end gaming/entertainment computer, with a blu-ray drive, lots of RAM and a very nice video card. But good grief, you remove Norton and the whole thing goes haywire. Two days out of the box and I was already having problems. No complaints on the video/sound though, with the docking station this computer gets LOUD, in a nice, crisp way. Most of all, it'll be nice to be able to bring blu-rays with us when we're on the road and watch them outside of the house.

I should probably be I go.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Quick to bed, slow to rise - Random thoughts about waking up.

I'm sitting here at my desk, bad coffee steaming in front of me. My co-workers are typing, talking on the phone, and doing anything to avoid getting started on the day's work. I keep checking the commission tracking site and, surprise surprise, it's not up for the 3rd day in a row. I forgot my headphones, otherwise I'd be listening to this month's guilty pleasure, Van Halen (plus Sammy Hagar, screw David Lee Roth). It's Thursday, which is better than Wednesday, but still lacking Friday's greatness. I have at least 19 more calls to make, and can't bring myself to pick up the phone. I don't even remember the drive to work, except for nearly falling asleep twice. Sad thing is, I slept 8 hours last night, and I'm still tired. Must be getting old. I think I smashed my finger during the night, my fingernail was red and irritated when I woke up this morning. And my eyes were practically crusted shut. Time to start taking out the contacts at night.

And I just can't stop yawning, which my boss hates to hear any one of us do. I don't want to be one of those old people who go to bed at 8 and get up at 4, but I know I need more sleep.

Sucks being a night owl with a day job. But what sucks worse is being a night owl without a job at all. Count your blessings.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Years ago, I was living in a dumpy apartment in downtown Siloam Springs, one of those places that, for $100 a month, you get a spacious living space with free internet and all utilities provided, but lack certain necessities that most normal apartments provide. Like a stand-up shower, a sink, a stove, etc. Little things.

I was getting ready to take an extended trip with YWAM to Switzerland, which meant saving my pennies and dimes and living as frugally as possible. My entertainment began to consist less of beers at clubs and nights at the movies, more beers at home and nights at the home. As I was perusing the odd selection present at Siloam's finest video purveyor, lickety-split (also known as MovieTime video), browsing the 99 cent video section for a fine piece of cinema I had not previously viewed...truly a difficult task at that point in my life...when I stumbled across a truly memorable title. Things to do in Denver When You're Dead.

It had me at "Denver". As I would do with just about any movie I'd consider actually watching, I flipped it over to get information about the cast. Pre-Ocean's Eleven Andy Garcia, Christopher Lloyd, William Forsythe, Bill Nunn, B-movie royalty Treat Williams, Christopher Walken and Gabrielle Anwar. Not Hollywood's finest bunch, but worth a 99 cent expenditure.

The movie is about a former gangster known as Jimmy the Saint, a guy who "went to seminary but lost the calling." Jimmy runs an odd business called Afterlife Advice, where terminally ill folks record advice regarding various aspects of life for their loved ones. Turns out the loan Jimmy used to buy the business is bought out by his former mob boss, who calls in the note by essentially forcing Jimmy to undertake one final job: stop the boss's crazy son's ex-girlfriend from marrying her new fiancee. Jimmy gets his old crew back together in order to spread the wealth (the boss offers him $50k to do the job) and form a plan. Unfortunately, the plan goes haywire, and the boss orders a hit on all of the crew members. Jimmy, out of both guilt and love for his friends, tries to help each of them lay low and avoid imminent death. Jimmy has also fallen in love in the meantime, and now has to decide what to do with his final days to not only ensure his crew survives him, but that the woman he loves avoids any repercussions.

It's a pretty low-budget, offbeat film. One that I fell in love with as soon as I'd finished it. Tons of cool little catch-phrases and mob-isms that are really unique to the movie (you'll probably not find a modern mobster using any of them). The movie opens up with my favorite Tom Waits song, "Jockey Full of Bourbon", which really sets the tone for the entire movie.

The first person I encountered to have seen the movie besides myself was the locally-infamous Jason Wead. Jason and I have been friends over a decade now, having jammed together (he's a truly talented drummer and guitarist) in various bands, spent many nights with brews in hand, talking about both the shallow and deep things in life, and watching each other go through both life's joys and heartaches.

Both of us having seen the movie and loving the dialogue, it wasn't long before it seeped into our daily vernacular, earning us many strange looks as we toasted with our boatdrinks and told each other to give it a name.

I eventually bought the movie, and still break it out at least once a year. It really became synonymous with mine and Jasons' friendship. We had our little crew, each member with their humorous quirks and fatal flaws. We had our own little language (albeit much of it borrowed) that fit within our group and our group only. And we had years of experiences that knit us together and created brotherhood.

I can't say that I've kept in touch with most of those folks. As is all too common with friends, many of us eventually grew apart as we grew into our ever-changing lives. But Jason and I have kept touch, though sporadically, and it's been a real joy and blessing to see his life blossom. He'll be a dad in 3 weeks (or less), a little boy to teach every musical instrument he can. He works helping children with less-fortunate lives have a voice, a protector, and a friend. And he has a wife that loves him and has become his best friend. Rightfully so.

I miss having Jason around. This post is to you...Boatdrinks my friend. Until we meet in the middle, hit Fayettenam for a night on the town, re-live old memories, and make new ones in the process.

Give it a name.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

It's 8:11, I've got a cup of bad coffee in hand and i'm listening to some IT guy drone on about technical server data that goes way over head. I try to work, but find my brain and heart really aren't in it. As has been the case for the last 2 weeks, all I can really think about is Wednesday.

It's kind of sad. Sure i'm excited about the possibility of getting a huge paycheck again, and being able to spend it on some new gear. The pathetic part being that all I've been able to think about recently is how much money I'm going to make. Even in church yesterday. I feel pretty awful. I feel like (pardon the French) a greedy bastard.

Perhaps it is a reflection of how little I feel like I have to look forward to these days. My dreams tend to seem more like pipe dreams than achievable ones. I don't really have many solid friendships with folks in the immediate area. I don't care too much for my job, but it's often hard to believe that I'm going to be good at or successful doing anything else.

I'm thinking it's time to put things back into God's hands. I tend to be selfish with things like time and activities. I should learn to give more of the time I have to things outside of myself. And I need to be more responsible in the activities I pursue. Less time sitting around watching TV, more time doing something constructive like exercising, visiting with friends, pursuing volunteer activities, etc. In essence, spend more time consumed with something other than myself and my desires.

My boss is likely about to walk into the office, so it's probably time I at least pretended to listen to the conference call. That or get more coffee.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

August is always a busy month

Last night was the calm before the storm. Today, the hurricane hits.

Not in a bad way...just going to be very busy and out of pocket for a couple weeks. Today after work, I meet up with some of the old Jboo gang for some dinner at Vino's and a Keith Urban concert in LR. Late tonight after the show, I'll be packing up for the events of the next 10 days. Friday around noon, we leave for the sprawling metropolis of Mountain Home, AR. I've been there twice I think, should be fun. I'm really looking forward to getting together with a bunch of the guys, something I don't really ever get to do in Conway (I don't have any good friends here, really). We'll be there to watch and support Ross and Leah as they join our ever-shrinking club of married friends. I say ever-shrinking mostly because it seems that, for every friend that gets married, another two get divorced. It's a sad thing.

After the wedding Saturday, we hop back in the bug, put the convertible top down, and drive to Birmingham, AL for a night at the local Holiday Inn. By noon Sunday, we hope to be on the beach in Navarre, FL bumming around and doing nothing in particular. My hope is that I can just sit around, read, have a beer or two, drink in some sun and get some time to let my thoughts melt away.

The last few weeks have been incredibly stressful...hoping this little trip will help. If not, I'll hold out for next year. Hoping that perhaps we can do Europe, the Bahamas, or some other foreign, exotic destination next time around.

For now, I'll sit here and blog at work, avoid making phone calls, drink coffee, secretly play Castle Age on Facebook while my boss is away and look out the window. I think I've zoned out like 5 times today, and I haven't even been here an hour. Caught myself drooling once...thankfully only Mark was watching.

Le sigh...back to it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What to do, what to do...?

Change has been the trend recently. After a good 4 years of subscription/addiction, I made the executive decision to cancel my World of Warcraft account. It was a good run, and I can't say that it often wasn't fun, but I won't miss the e-drama and teenage e-peenery that came with trying to log on and kill internet dragons. There is now more time to pursue those other interests that hadn't been getting as much attention, like...blogging!

I also, thanks to my employer, got a healthy paycheck and was able to pay off my Escape, sell Danielle's Versa and get a VW Bug convertible, pay off 2 credit cards and a student loan, pay off our bed, and soon even (GASP!) put some new pickups and a new bridge on my bass. As much as I like to complain about HP (often justifiably so), God blessed me through them with one of the best account sets available. In the end, i'll make about 30% more than I was supposed to for the year.

All of this to say that I really had to take a look at what I've been doing in life, what I spent energy on and what was neglected. It was disturbing to see how much time I committed to video games and the lengths to which I would go to ensure I could play for as long as I wanted and on my own terms. And it was shameful to look at what I had shunted aside in favor of doing what it was that I wanted to do for myself. Selfishness really takes its toll when allowed to be a priority.

But God is good. I have great friends that I've had more of a chance to see as a result. We have more financial resources at our disposal and are finally truly making a dent in our overall debt (looks like we'll be down by about 50% in December from where we were last year), and I have more time to think about what God's direction for me, and re-evaluate the talents he's given me.

More than ever, I burn to play music, to find a group of musicians who want to not only make great music, but make great friends. I am devouring books of my favored genre, fantasy, but also allowing my mind to expand into other areas of interest. And I find myself truly appreciating my wife more. Spending time with her is truly a joy that I have under-appreciated for the past 2 years of our marriage. An oversight I am working to rectify.

All that to say that I still struggle with selfishness...all the time...but now realize that when you let selflessness into the picture, great things start to happen.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A tirade against intolerance

Sometimes people try to hard to prove their superior intelligence, yet only make greater fools of themselves in the process. They rage themselves to the extremes of belief systems, political positions, scientific theories, etc. and lose sight of the fact that, in the end, all they're doing is trying to pummel someone else into submission and acceptance of their own viewpoint.

Both the conservative and liberal media do this all the time. Watch Fox News one night, then CNN the next. Each has gone to extreme opposites in reporting political occurences. Neither has taken the high road of their calling and stayed true to the impartiality of the press. But then again, who has anymore?

Individuals, particularly those self-righteous enough to try and bludgeon their family, friends and acquaintances (online and off), have been guilty of doing this since the dawn of America's statehood. They've annoyed us with their political positioning in town squares, pubs, street corners, picture shows and, more recently, television and cyberspace.

The way the media handles itself on TV and in cyberspace don't really bother me. As a former member of the media I'm accustomed to it, and have become de-sensitized to the degeneration of the media from its impartial beginnings to its partisan current state.

It's the way that individuals position their political crap on social networking sites that drives me insane. Last night I went to a good friend's facebook site to post a quick "hello". After scrolling down a bit to find the posting box, I noticed that an old mutual acquaintance had posted some politically-charged hatemongering on my friend's page. I was suddenly and terribly pushed into an enraged state, and I could not stop myself from responding to his statements.

This particular acquaintance is a die-hard political conservative along the lines of Bill O'Reilly. A person so blinded by what family politics and conservative media have pounded into his eyeballs that he can't see beyond what he himself thinks. But then again, he's always been easily influenced.

Now my own views reflect political moderacy. I don't hate the current president, nor did I hate the last one. They are both fallen men, subject to mistakes, corporations and all the other influential machines that, unfortunately, run America. I realize that each individual is entitled to their own viewpoint, and I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is when one individual brandishes the spiked club of opinion against another and attempts to bludgeon them with it.

But back to the my friend had fallen prey to the fanatical ravings of this acquaintance. This friend only uses facebook as a way to keep in touch with friends like me, who live a few hours (or farther) away. Not as a forum, but as a networking tool. So to see what our mutual acquaintance had spouted had the same effect as brandishing a red cape in the eyes of an angry bull.

I won't go into the exchange...there was a lot of verbal gunfire from both sides, much of it unnecessary...but it helped me realize that, as fallen human beings, it is so easy to lose sight of the big picture. Ultimately, that no one man, political party or government knows what is best for all of its members. Nor will it be able to act in a way that will benefit everyone. As individuals we should not delude ourselves into thinking that we know what is best. Rather than hatemongering back and forth, we should respect the opinions of others and try to understand how those opinions make those individuals who they are.

Above all, we should love the differences God put in each of us and, even if we don't necessary like it, embrace those differences in each other.

So Ben, rather than use online social networking tools as a political forum, why not kindly ask individuals what their opinions are and have open, respectful discussion with them rather than bludgeon them with overly-conservative negativity?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Late to bed, late to rise: It's the way to go

It's amazing the way the human brain works. It's beyond my comprehension why and how this mass of strangely-colored tissue somehow helps us think and act in ways that make each of us so unique and different from each other.

I don't really even know why I think of this now, but it's so rare that we take into consideration what causes our brain to trigger specific actions and behavioral trends. Simply looking at the complexities existent in our individual selves, one cannot deny that God exists. To strongly suggest and believe that we evolved into the creatures we are now is, in my opinion, 100% ludicrous, especially seeing the many intricacies and varieties present in the human individual. I don't think that it would ever matter how much evolutionary evidence passed in front of my eyes. Even if I didn't believe in the God, I would sooner believe in a god before believing that I developed from some single-celled organism millions (more likely billions) of years ago. My rational mind simply will not accept this.

On to lighter fare. I must say that I'm happy with the trend present in the production of the last several Harry Potter films. We caught the latest edition last night, and while I thought that there should have been more time given to the lighter topics present within the book, overall I like the darker, more ominous direction taken by David Yates as the series draws to a close. I can see why they're breaking the last film into two parts, as I believe that is the only way to truly do the story justice without making it a 4-5 hour film.

Off to Greenbrier to pick up a guillotine cutter...happy 1st birthday Ollie :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Getting started

After days, months, weeks and years of telling myself that I was going to find some venue for my thoughts, the plunge has been taken and the blog created. The hope is that perhaps I will undertake to do more writing than at the current time...the current time consisting primarily of Facebook status updates and wall posts. So save it to your favorites, bookmark it, check it, ignore it, revile it, do whatever you will. But be aware that, should you wish to truly know more about my existence (because by nature a blog is a self-centric pursuit), this is the place to come.

More to come later.