Baby Driver and my insatiable need for noise…

If you haven’t seen the recent movie Baby Driver (Starring Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, and Jon Bernthal) I’ll wait right here while you go watch it. Oh, you’re back already? Oh, you didn’t have time to watch it and need a brief synopsis for background of this blog post? I mean, I can do that, but do yourself a favor and watch it sometime (I realize it will NEVER live up to my incomparable description and synopsis, but you really should give the artists their due since they worked SO hard, LOL).  That being said, I guess for this post to continue, I’m going to have to give you a synopsis, huh?  Well, I guess I’ll give the obligatory:

*MILD SPOILER ALERT*

Still here? You’re SURE you’re okay with some minor spoilers? Okay then, I warned you.  Baby Driver is the story of  a getaway car driver named Baby.  Yep, that’s his name.  Well, that’s what everyone calls him anyways.  As a child, Baby was in a car accident that killed his mother that damaged his hearing in a tremendous way (he didn’t get any superpowers, that’s that Daredevil guy and that involved some radioactive materials).  After his accident (which killed his mother and put him on the path toward crime) he found that he had Tinnitus.  Tinnitus is a condition by which sufferers hear a constant high-pitched ringing in their ear ALL THE TIME.  To offset his Tinnitus, he constantly has earbuds from an iPod in his ears playing music, much like his own internal soundtrack.  Let me give you an example with the following video:

Exciting huh?  Kinda funny at the same time?  Well, Kelly and I loved it.  The whole movie is filled with phenomenal choices of music (the tagline of the movie is:  “All you need is one killer track.” – see what they did there?  Track?  Goes for both a race track AND a music track.  Clever, clever indeed).  The director of the movie, Edgar Wright, said that he has always wanted to do a movie where the music dictated what happened.  The music often was the centerpiece and it often felt like an action/musical. It was definitely a mission accomplished.  The movie was high-energy and even contained a love story.

Now that you’re familiar with Baby and his world, that allows me to tell you how it relates to mine.  You see, I have Tinnitus (listen to that in your head like Darth Vader telling Luke he’s his father – Friends, I have Tinnitus – you did it in your head didn’t you?).  Mine is NOWHERE near as bad as Baby’s is in the movie.  Mine is a low-grade, constant, high-pitch.  Some people report that theirs is a crackling, others like a constant crumpling of paper.  Here’s an example of what mine sounds like:

Interestingly, I didn’t even know I had it.  Kelly and I were at home one evening and the subject of silence somehow came up.  During that conversation I said something to the effect of, “You know, when it’s completely quiet and all you can hear is that really high-pitch noise?”  With a quick look at her face, I knew very quickly that we both had very different views of what silence was.  You know the look, the one your wife gives you when you know you’ve said something that’s not right (I get that look all the time, because let’s face it, I say stupid stuff all the time).  She immediately said something to the effect of “Babe, that’s not how it should be.”  And we began to talk about how I didn’t know that wasn’t normal. At her encouragement, I had hearing tests, which was when I found out that I had Tinnitus.

As far back as I can remember, that has been my version of silence.  That high-pitched sound always permeated silence for me.  I can’t remember a time in my life that it wasn’t there.  I just thought it was normal.  I always thought that silence was a strange word for it when there was still noise involved.  Worst thing about it?  I have NO idea what caused it.  Could be genetic.  Could be over exposure to loud noise (but having remembered it all my life, I doubt that one).  The only thing I really know is, I always knew I didn’t like it.  For those of you that do know me well, you know I have never liked silence.  I ALWAYS have something on.  Some kind of input of sound that is flowing around me.  I always have something on like a TV, or movie playing in the background, but most often, it’s music.  I have an obsession with music.  When I work, I typically have movie scores playing (the collected works of John Williams is phenomenal – from Jaws to Star Wars to Harry Potter, that dude has a firm grip on the greatest movie scores of all time).  These things have always helped me to focus and I didn’t know they were offsetting my condition.  I didn’t realize that I was unconsciously mitigating the sound that is always in my ears.  I found a great description of it from Dr. LaGuinn Sherlock, a clinical audiologist currently researching the effects of tinnitus on concentration, who works with the American Tinnitus Association (ATA). She compares dealing with tinnitus to a candle: “Picture a dark room, if you add one candle to the room, you’ll notice it immediately. If we light a candle in a room full of light, we don’t really notice it.” In essence, tinnitus is a sense of noise that fills a missing gap, even when there’s nothing there to cause it.

Kevin Spacey’s character in the movie describes Baby’s condition as a “hum in the drum”  and that is a very accurate depiction of it for me.  The worst part of finding out about my condition though, is now, I notice it.  It’s great knowing what that sound is when things are silent, but it’s also a curse knowing that it’s not normal.  Now when silence settles in for me, it’s not silence.  I hear IT.  It causes me to have some mild hearing difficulties, like at a ball game, even sitting beside you, I’ll have trouble hearing you.  In a crowded room with lots of noise or conversations, I’ll have difficulties hearing you (and I’m sorry if I just nod my head because there’s times I don’t want to constantly say “What?” or “I can’t hear you.”)  I know that I definitely have it much better than some people that have this condition.  For some people, it’s louder, much louder.  As mentioned before, for some people it’s a constant crackle or static like a radio station you can’t pick up.  Suicide rates are higher among people that suffer from Tinnitus.  Divorce rates are higher.  Crime Rates are higher.  When you can’t concentrate, it generally makes life more difficult.

I realize that there’s a whole lot more going on in life that is much worse than what I deal with in this area.  What I would say is, forgive me in advance if I annoy you with my insatiable need for noise.  It helps me to focus on life.  I don’t mean to annoy you with my constant talk of albums (I’m a collector of vinyl records for the uninitiated and will have another blog post about that soon), speaking with gusto about my latest find, or if I have headphones in, it’s not to shut you out, but rather to help me concentrate on the task at hand.  The noise keeps me going, and that’s okay.

Still interested or interested in knowing more?  Let me know and I can direct you to some great articles.

So, a few things have changed. Well, maybe a lot. For sure a lot. Well, some things are a whole lot, others, maybe not so much.

So, when I wrote my original blog post back in to 2013, I put a few things out here so you could get to know me better.  Some of these things have changed, some have not. It’s weird to see the things I discussed at that time in my life and know how much has changed and how much has not.  I have a new position at work since then.  We’ve purchased a car.  We’ve been out West twice thanks to family.  It’s amazing how quickly time can pass and what changes and what doesn’t.  Sometimes that change is intentional, sometimes it’s not.  Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not.  Change shapes us and molds us, often without our knowing or consent.  Something during this time frame that I have had to be purposeful about is knowing that I can only worry about what I control, not what I can’t.  Now, understand, that’s easier said than done 9 times out of 10, but it’s something I’m really working on.  REGULARLY.  With that aside, here are some things that have changed for me, and a few that haven’t.

1. Favorite Movie: Still the Shawshank Redemption.  I will still stop what I’m doing anytime it’s on TV, or anywhere for that matter and watch like I’ve never watched before.  This movie is always so much more than the sum of its parts to me.  Depending on how you view it, it’s a story about revenge.  It’s a story about friendship. It’s a story about injustice.  It’s a story about freedom.  What it is not, is a typical Stephen King story.  That much is for sure.

Shawshank-Redemption_-The

2. Favorite Movie Series:  The Godfather.  The Godfather still resonates with me.  I recently watched a supercut of the first two movies with a friend of mine that was the entire first two movies cut in chronological order and with all the deleted scenes.  It clocked in at an astonishing 434 minutes.  Seriously.  Over seven hours of Marlon Brando mumbling, having people killed and protecting “The Family.”  It was epic and I would sit down again and watch it all over.  I’m sorry to say that this one is hard to find, however.  Our friend caught it on HBO and DVR’d it and we watched it in two sittings.  Still a favorite of mine.

The Godfather

3. Favorite Sci-Fi Series:  Star Wars.  No film series has shaped my life nearly as much as Star Wars.  I have rallied around friends because of it.  We have had themed parties around it (at a college small group we were leading, Blue Bantha Milk and all).  I have t-shirts, which I wear very few of depicting it.  My wife has t-shirts related to it.  Our favorite character is Boba Fett and dude only has three lines across two movies (Not counting the prequels) and we still love the background about him.  I’ve read books, watched shows, watched documentaries, watched parodies, watched Youtube videos, waited in line for tickets for, snuck out of Bible College to see showings, and even made trips to track down vinyl albums of the score.  Needless to say, we are Star Wars enthusiasts.  At our core, we’re geeks, but cool ones.

Star Wars

4. Guilty Pleasure Movie:  Gone in 60 Seconds.  Still a guilty pleasure.  One of the reasons I haven’t purchased this movie yet is because it is a guilty pleasure and I can still come across it on TV on occasion.  That somehow makes it okay in my mind that I enjoy it so much.  Seriously, Nic Cage is a terrible actor.  Terrible.  This movie though, for me, he hits on all cylinders (see what I did there?).  This movie, seriously, is the one movie that I felt like all of his idiosyncrasies are perfect for the part.  Anybody see Ghost Rider?  Same character.  Anybody see The Rock?  Same character.  Anybody see Con Air?  Same character with a TERRIBLE Southern Accent.  In Gone in 60 Seconds though, it just fits for me.  His persona, his swagger, and his poor attempts a humor and sarcasm.  Did I mention that Nic Cage is a terrible actor?

Gone in 60 seconds

5. I am a shameless Apple Enthusiast.  Well, this one has changed the most, by FAR.  Over the last few years since Steve Jobs passing, Apple seems to have lost their way in some respects.  Sure they still make great phones.  Sure they still make great computers.  Sure other products of theirs have been mediocre at best.  Wait, what? Yep, I said it, Apple has made some products over the last few years that have been mediocre at best.  Heck, some of them have been terrible.  It feels very much like they are putting out some products to fill the masses needs to get a new device every year and only add mediocre, incremental feature changes at best.  Its pretty rough when the first new, great device is a $159 pair of wireless headphones.  We will definitely be talking more about Apple in upcoming blog posts.

6. I LOVE the Green Bay Packers.  This will not change.  Kelly and I are owners and I won’t get into the current NFL Protests, National Anthem, etc. debate.  We love the Packers and are unashamed of that.  We like the game of football and the spectacle has gotten out of hand, but that has not changed our enthusiasm for rooting for our favorite team, yelling at the TV, or eating copious amounts of food in celebration of a Super Bowl (which hopefully involves the Packers!).

7. I still love Photography. but….  Over the years photography became more of burden than something I enjoyed.  I took a purposeful sabbatical from photography.  I went so far as to sell my camera and equipment.  I have found over the last bit that I am beginning to find my love for it and videography again.  That’s something that I will begin exploring again soon.

8. Favorite Book:  Still Screwtape, see previous Blog Post for a reference: Getting to know me.

9. I love trucks. I still love trucks to no end.  I still want a truck to no end.  In my last blog relating to this subject, I said unequivocally that my next vehicle would be a truck.  Well, I was wrong (and therefore learned a lesson about stating things unequivocally).  Our current vehicle is a midsize SUV.  We got in a situation with one of our vehicles that it had to be replaced quicker than we would have liked and that caused us to reevaluate our current vehicle situation.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the new ride, but man, it’s not a truck.  Not at all.  Not even a little bit like a yuppie-truck.

10.  Finally to close,  I still love tech.  There, I said it again.  I still read tech blogs.  I still make it my business to learn as much as I can about trends and the next new thing.  I often find myself looking up information on new innovations, still reading tech blogs, watching (and forcing Kelly to watch until she says, “I’m done”) YouTube Videos, and just learning about and teaching it in general.  I have loved it so much that I ended up being able to switch into a career that puts me in close proximity to tech all the time and allows me to learn about it….AND GET PAID FOR IT!  I mean seriously, how cool is that?!

I’ll be adding more in upcoming blog posts about things I have explored, experiences I have been able to have and new things I’m into.  I look forward to sharing with you!

It’s been a LONG time and I may have been a carny…

I would think that at any one point in any blogger’s career they have to give the requisite apology for taking a break, forgetting to blog, being too busy to blog, overrun by a raging herd of guinea pigs or not being committed enough.

I’m not sure where I fall in that description, but I can boil it down to this: life happens. Change, as much as we’d like, rarely happens like a slow-roasted rotisserie chicken, but rather a microwave burrito at a convenience store.  It often comes in waves too. Rarely is it only one thing in our lives that changes in our lives at a time, but rather a whole range of things, precipitated by one or two changes.

Change, as much as we’d like, rarely happens like a slow-roasted rotisserie chicken, but rather a microwave burrito at a convenience store.

For me, I can boil it down to two specific things: a job change and changes within our church.  In 2013 when I was originally beginning to write this, Kelly and I were at a church in our area and we felt that things weren’t going well.  I was a deacon and we were both working in many capacities in the church and things just weren’t right.  As is often the case, this lead to infighting and a situation that felt very much like a building of the “this is how we’ve always done it” crowd and the “shouldn’t things change?” crowd.  That aside, Kelly and I felt as though God was telling us to leave.  Like, really, “just go.”  That kind of thing tends to not be easy.  We turned in our resignation letters, our keys and left.  I hate it when God tells us to do things we don’t understand, but often it’s during those times, when we do follow these simple yet seemingly catastrophic instructions, we see the most fruit and closeness that we couldn’t have experienced otherwise.

Fast-forwarding a bit, we became part of a church plant in our area that ended up taking up what felt like a majority of our time (for those that have never been a part of a church plant, man is it an experience going from someone’s living room to a full-fledged church). We (Kelly and I) ended up over the media ministry of that newly formed church which included setup at the time.  For those of you that may not have been part of a mobile church,  after a while, you feel like a carny blowing into town, setting up and taking down, but on a weekly basis, not knowing for sure where the next setup will take place.  During that time, it was exhausting, but otherwise rewarding.  You develop a closeness to those around you during hard work that you probably would not otherwise. You tend to bond like a family, which we did, warts and all.

Our next major endeavor involved church also.  Our church bought a building.  That in and of itself is a daunting task, but we did it while still working the nomadic carny lifestyle.  We did most all of the work ourselves turning a warehouse/car lot into a proper house of worship.  Everything from deconstruction to running lines, cleaning and building things back up were on the agenda.  Personally, we helped most with the building up of the tech side where Kelly and I and our best friends ran approximately 4000 feet of ethernet cord in the worship room alone.  To say it was a daunting effort would be an extreme understatement.  It was amazing to see that process happen and how much teamwork could accomplish.  We may have been carnys, but we were carnys with a purpose.

Fast-forwarding again, in July of 2015, I began a new position at work.  One that I am unbelievably happy and proud to be doing.  I am the IT Support Specialist at the non-profit organization that I work for.  For those of you that know me, you know this is a dream come true.  This mixture of helping mold an IT Department AND being part of an organization devoted to helping people, could not be more ready-made for me.  I get to be foundational support for people that directly affect the lives of others in a positive way.  What more could I ask for?  Seriously.  That too has taken me on the road quite a bit.  Going from office to office working on new things or working on old things has afforded me a great opportunity to connect with a large part of our organization.  Plus, I’m a project guy, and we’ve had plenty to work on.

I’m going to try and post weekly with this to begin with, depending on how life treats us.     My plan is for my next few posts to catch you up some on us and give you some random thoughts I have been thinking about and possibly even some tech reviews. Thanks for sticking with me, I’ll try not to be so long next time!

 

 

Getting to know me.

Clearly at this point, if you are here, you have some ties to me. What that means is, you already know some things about me. For instance, you would know already that I am a devout Christian whose love of Christ directs my life. If you know me, you also know that my wife and I are HUGE Green Bay Packers fans. So much so, that for Christmas two years ago, Kelly bought me a share of stock in the Packers (which makes us owners!). I am also unabashedly a lover of movies and all things tech. I figured for the remainder of this post, I would reveal some of my favorite things to you.  These are material in nature, no spiritual value is attached to them in the least.  I figure we will cover that in some other post later in this adventure.

1. Favorite Movie: Shawshank Redemption.  I don’t think there is any other movie, that no matter what I’m doing, I will stop and watch.  Anytime its on TV, or anywhere for that matter, I’m there.  I have read the “novella” that was the precursor to this movie and it was great, but there was just something about getting this as a visual representation of the story that made it all so real.  The acting (great performances by both Robbins and Freeman) draws me in every time.  Everything from the Rita Hayworth poster to the outfits that the prisoners were wearing is a phenomenal picture of what all of it looked like in my mind.

Shawshank-Redemption_-The

2. Favorite Movie Series:  The Godfather.  Is there any more iconic film series than The Godfather?  Kelly had avoided watching these movies for a very long time, but recently had occasion to watch them with me (well, the first two anyways, and really that’s all there really is right?  I could really leave the third one out completely) and saw just how much these movies had permeated into our popular culture.  It’s astounding to me to see how many people quote these movies on an almost daily basis, and some don’t even realize it.

The Godfather

3. Favorite Sci-Fi Series:  Star Wars.  When George Lucas unleashed this series on the world, I’m not sure that he was prepared for the avalanche of nerd following that was to accompany it.  For me, an unabashed Geek, there is no sci-fi heights that reach higher than Star Wars.  As a kid (and really as an adult too) I could sit and watch these movies over and over again.  The only thing that comes in at a close second for me would be Lord of the Rings…

Star Wars

4. Guilty Pleasure Movie:  Gone in 60 Seconds.  That’s right I said it.  I LOVE this movie.  While the quality is lacking (and let’s be honest, this isn’t an Oscar nominated film), I often find myself drawn to this movie.  From the soundtrack to Nicholas Cage’s swagger, I often find myself watching this movie, or at least having it on in the background while I do something else constructive.  This is another movie that I will watch almost anytime its on.  Seriously, don’t tell anybody about this one…

Gone in 60 seconds

5. I am a shameless Apple Enthusiast.  Its not that I shun the PC, or Windows for that matter.  In fact, both have been very good to me over the years.  I work on a PC.  Its just that for me, Apple is where its at.  I know, I know, I’m an elitist.  I know, I know, I should just get a black turtleneck and go vegan.  Here’s my thing:  It just works.  When I was younger, I didn’t mind spending time digging deep into settings, or spending hours finding the right driver to help get whatever new piece of hardware I had just gotten going, but now, if I don’t have to, I’m not doing that.  I am currently writing this post from my iMac, but I started it on my iPad, and even reread part of it on my iPhone while receiving internet from my Apple Airport Extreme (don’t you just want to yell that word every time you see it?  I know I do.  Let’s try it here: EXTREME!  Yep, feels about right.).  If that makes me a Mac Elitist, so be it.  By the way everyone, you can thank my brother-in-law Sean Warren for convincing me to move to a Mac in the first place.  Thank you Sean.

6. I LOVE the Green Bay Packers.  I know this was mentioned before in this post, but I didn’t feel like you would understand me well if I didn’t reiterate that.  Kelly and I are owners.  Let me let that sink in…..We are owners.  Like I said at the beginning, Kelly purchased a share of stock in the Packers (which is the only Professional sports franchise to be publicly owned) at Christmas last year.  I vote in stockholders meetings.  I watch games whenever they are on TV.  I get updates from Sportscenter on my phone whenever something Packers-related happens.  I get emails from the organization.  I follow as many tweets from players on Twitter that I can.  To say were are fans would be a true understatement.  Thanksgiving this year was time-shifted so that Kelly and I could watch the game (Shout-Out goes out to my in-laws for that by the way – THANKS Mom 2!).  If you have ever watched a game with Kelly and I, know that I apologize in advance for any hearing loss you may incur by being in close proximity to my wife.  Seriously…earplugs could be necessary.

7. I love Photography.  Seriously.  Is there anything cooler than capturing a moment in time and then being able to look back on it.  In my opinion there’s not.  I know, I know, “A picture is worth a thousand words” and all that.  I think that’s true though.  Look at all the ways that we use photography and imagery in general on a daily basis.  Good and bad.  Go ahead, consider it.  Ladies, how many times have you cut a picture out of a magazine and taken it to the salon to get your hair “exactly like that” (fingers pointing at the picture as if having the picture there with you were not enough).  Fellas, I don’t know about you, but before I could drive, I cut pictures out dreaming of the car I would purchase. (Which, by the way, was always a Mustang or a Lamborghini) My brother-in-law, Sean Warren, that dude captures some seriously powerful images.  I like to fancy myself to be a decent photographer, but that guy, he could fund Compassion International solo.  We could also talk endlessly about the negativity that an image can bring, but that’s not my purpose here.

8. Favorite Book:  Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  I have read this book several times over the years.  I love watching the inner struggle of the charge that the demons are given and how the tone of the letters changes once their charge becomes a Christian.  I see so much of me in that book that when I read it, I feel like it was written about me.  Every time I read it, I find something else in my life that could be affected by something that Lewis portrays in the book.  I watch the struggle between flesh and spiritual and always walk away thinking, “Man, I wonder if that’s why that happens to me so often.”  While I know that there isn’t a ton of scripture based around the actual battle in the background for souls, I know that there is one raging, and it could very well happen as Lewis depicts it.

9. I love trucks.  I’m not a hick, I swear, but for some reason, I just feel more “manly” when I’m driving one.  Currently I do not have a truck, but the next vehicle I buy…it’ll be a truck. And let’s be totally clear here, I won’t be “mudding” or anything of that sort.  In all honesty, I’ll probably have what Phil Robertson would classify as a “yuppie” truck.  You know the kind, it’s always clean, has tons of technology in it, and rarely gets used for its intended purpose.  Yep, I’m Yuppie Truck bound….

10.  Finally to close,  I love tech.  There, I said it.  I’m talking about a nerd-embracing kind of enjoyment of tech.  That’s right, I read tech blogs.  That’s right, I’ve listened to and watched product announcements.  I’ve even watched live-blogs devoted to the reveal of the next big thing.  I love figuring out how that thing is going to fit into mine and Kelly’s life and how that I am going to leverage it to make things better, then once that challenge is over, I’m going to tell everyone about it.  It’s in my problem-solving nature.  If we are talking in casual conversation, and I know something that’s going to make your life easier, 9 times out of 10, I’m going to tell you about it.  I might even be annoying about it.  I apologize in advance if I am or have been to you.  I promise, its solely because I care about you and I really just want to help you out.

Thank you for reading this small portion of who I am and what makes me up.  I’ll be getting more to you in the near future.