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 situation...so 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.