The Grudge – Tool

I can’t believe I haven’t put up a Tool song yet.  Tool is easily the most important band for me and my musical tastes.  They’re a hard rock band which is how I got introduced to them, but their weirdness is what really made them important to me.  Up until I discovered Tool, I was listening to mostly radio friendly hard rock music.  Tool opened my eyes to prog music.  I’m a huge modern prog fan because of Tool.  I listened to Lateralus on repeat in my first car all the way through high school.  Easily the single most important album of my life.  As I was learning to play guitar and learning more advanced techniques, I learned how to play almost every song they’ve ever made.  I can’t recall all of it now, but I still have a lot of that muscle memory in my fingers.  Tool has a weird reputation now, and Tool fans have an even weirder reputation.  That’s unfortunate, because they’re a really smart band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

This song is basically the anthem of my teenage angst.  I absolutely love this song, and Maynard‘s scream at the end was so identifiable.  He was screaming all the frustration that I had as a young man trying to figure out how to navigate life.  This song is a classic, and I can guarantee there will be more Tool posted in the future.

Tempting Time – Animals as Leaders

Tosin Abasi is my MCM.

Been working out to the new Animals as Leaders album, but it still doesn’t top their first album.  Definitely my favorite song from these guys, and one of the coolest sounding guitar instrumentals ever.

Including a live performance to demonstrate how insane his finger work is to the layman.

Bonus track from the same album, and a close second to my favorite song from these guys:

Opeth in Concert

My thoughts on an excellent concert by Opeth, modern metal legends.

I saw Opeth live in concert last Friday at the Ace of Spades venue in Sacramento.  I’m a big fan of Opeth.  Songwriter, guitarist, and lead singer Mikael Akerfeldt‘s creates some crazy cool and unique music, and I love his guitar style.  He’s known for layering his metal music with alternating heavy and soft sections, including his own vocals.  Opeth stands out in the crowded metal scene as innovators.  The last three albums have moved away from metal into Frank Zappa influenced prog rock.  While I’m not as big a fan of this change as I was the metal records, I still think they’re good.  Opeth is from Sweden, so they don’t come to California very often. I’ve only just started listening to them in the last year or two, so I’ve never had the opportunity to see them in person.

I was running late so I didn’t actually see the opener, but I got there just in time to get a t-shirt and jam my way to the front before Opeth started.  They ran through a bunch of new and old songs. The whole set was just over 2 hours long.    Mikael had a head cold, so he prefaced the concert saying that he was going to be singing/screaming poorly.  I could kind of tell he was sick when he spoke, but his voice sounded great to me.

This Opeth tour is in support of their latest record, Sorceress.  Of their three prog records, this one is easily my favorite.  The other two I had to kind of dip my toe into before I really “got” them,  but this record felt a bit more accessible.  Still though, none of the prog records have much staying power for me, I usually listen to them a couple times and set them aside.  This concert turned me around on those prog records in a big way.  I don’t know what it is, maybe it was being in the moment at the concert and feeling the energy of the crowd.  Whatever it was, I’m super into the new record now, especially the song The Wild Flowers.

The best part of the concert for me was definitely the request bit in the middle.  Mikael asked for requests from the crowd.  They played a snippets from a bunch of their classic songs, including a jazz inspired version of Bleak, one of my all time favorite Opeth songs.  It was really cool hearing them play one of my favorite songs, but in an interesting new way.  Overall I had a great time seeing Opeth.  They’re one of my favorite bands right now and they put on a fantastic performance.

One thing of note, is the venue was amazing.  I’d never been to the Ace of Spades in Sacramento before, but it was incredible.  Usually the crowd at a metal show consists of a bunch of neck beards jammed in together and sweating on each other.  This venue had the A/C cranked, we were packed in pretty tight but I could feel the cool air throughout the whole show.  There were bars along every wall, and they had designated walk ways throughout the crowd.  It was very easy to go to the bar, grab a drink, and come back to your spot in the crowd.  I definitely recommend seeing shows at this venue if you’re in the area.

More About Me

More Disclosure

When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure how much of myself I would be identifying.  I kept a lot of my personal information separate from the blog.  I’m still going to continue to do that, but I figured if someone were to read this blog it would make sense to have a little more context about who I am.

Marriage

I’m a married man in my mid 20’s.  I have a beautiful wife who I love very much.  She and I are high school sweethearts, we’ve been together for over 10 years and married for 5.  Marriage has provided us many challenges, but we’ve always learned and grown through tough experiences.  My wife has had several health complications in the time we’ve been together including Type 1 diabetes, a thyroid condition, and a brain disorder.  The brain disorder was easily the most difficult for us to overcome.  She was in a wheelchair for a while, she had several brain surgeries, but eventually she came out of it free and clear.  

I love my wife very much.  However, there are a lot of struggles that come with being with the same person for so long.  I’ve always heard those old adages proclaiming the difficulty of marriage, but none of those things seem real when you’re newly in love.  Slowly, with time, those adages prove true.  My wife and I have been working on our communication skills for the past year or two as our poor communication has caused many unnecessary arguments and complications.  We’ve been seeing a marriage counselor for a while.  When I tell people that, everyone thinks we’re on the verge of divorce.  We started going to this counselor when we were in a particularly rough patch, but now we just go for maintenance.  There’s nothing wrong with therapy, and I would encourage everyone to see someone on a semi regular basis just to make sure you’re communicating properly, even if you’re not having trouble in your relationship.  We’ve gained a lot of new skills together, but we still struggle.  Just yesterday we got in an argument over a new couch we were putting together.  It came back to poor communication, even though we have all these new skills from the therapist.  Neither one of us is perfect, and we still fail sometimes even when we have all the tools we need to work well together.  

I’m coming to realize there’s a huge difference between new puppy love and a love that endures over many years of hardship and struggle.  Puppy love is fun and exciting, but long term love that grows and progresses and changes is really fulfilling.  I’m married to a great woman.

Work

I currently work in I.T. as a senior analyst for a local government entity.  I’ve been working this job for seven years.  I enjoy I.T. and I’m good at it, but I went to school for business. I have a bachelor’s degree in business and a masters degree in accounting.  I picked accounting when I was in college because I had to pick a major and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do yet.  I wish that I had taken a few years off from school and figured out what I really want.  If I had done that, right now I would have a degree that I’d actually use, instead of a giant pile of debt.

My job is great in that I get to have my hand in almost every aspect of running the I.T. infrastructure of a medium sized business.  Right now I’m focused on server administration and application development, but I’ve worked on routers and switches, SAN’s, backups, antivirus, VMWare, virtual desktops, telecom, etc.  My job is not so great in that the work environment can be pretty frustrating.

My boss is a huge fan of the Tony Robbins stereotypical motivation speakers.  He wants to improve and excel, and that includes every aspect of our work.  This is great when you first start working here. I like to improve myself as well, so I was looking forward to working for this guy.  The problem comes when he doesn’t know how to turn it off.  Every conversation turns into “I just want us to do better” and “we could have done this or that better” or “I know you’re trying but I just need a little more from you.”  One of these conversations is not a big deal, but when you get that every time you submit a completed project or a task to him, it becomes demoralizing.  We’re currently hemorrhaging I.T. staff, and it’s primarily due to how his management style tends to burn people out.  You never feel good enough, no matter how well you perform at your job.  I am totally on board with self-improvement, with providing excellent customer service, and continuously progressing my skills.  But I also need a little positive energy sometimes too, instead of always feeling like I’m almost doing a good job.    

I’m currently working on developing my web development skills in pursuit of changing careers.  It’s pretty intimidating, I have a good job with a lot of built in security and a pension.  Leaving the government position is going to be hard, but now that I know I have a passion for web development I hope that I will be happier.  The difficult part right now is finding the time outside of work to develop those skills.  I’m staring at a computer screen 40-50 hours a week, and it can be challenging to come home after a 10 hour day and go right back to a screen.  Not only a screen, but using my brain to learn new things.  If I didn’t have so much debt built up from my online degrees and my wife’s nursing school, I’d quit right now and spend those 40-50 hours a week learning new web dev skills and building a portfolio.  Alas, for the foreseeable future I’ll just have to slowly chip away at it.

Hobbies

I don’t want to go too in depth on this as I’m assuming this is the majority of what I’ll be writing about here on the blog.  Here are the big topics though:

Guitar/Music

I’ve been playing the guitar off and on for about 13 years.  My uncle gave me an electric guitar when I was a teenager and I fell in love immediately.  I love any kind of guitar based music.  My parents introduced me to a wide range of music when I was younger, but I always tended towards heavier guitar music.  In the last few years I got really deep into metal music, so that’s primarily what I’ve been listening to.  In fact, that bullshit faux-intellectual blog name actually came from me trying to find a unique domain name.  I was listening to this song and just played around with some of the lyrics until I found something unique.

Fantasy Novels

In my last post, I gave my personal reading history with some specific fantasy authors.  I got into Lord of the Rings when I was young, and it made a huge impression on me.  I’ve been obsessed with fantasy literature ever since.  I definitely enjoy fantasy over sci-fi, but I sneak in a sci-fi book here and there.  I view fantasy books like I view T.V.  It’s cheap entertainment that lets me escape the mundanity of life.  I don’t read these books to gain anything significant out of them (aside from Erikson and Bakker, those dudes have poignant perspectives).  I do read non-fiction sometimes as well, usually when I’m really interested in something in the news.  I actually just finished reading the Rational Optimist, which is a great book on how much better life is now than it has ever been in human history.  I read this after a particularly negative conversation with my mother in law about how dangerous it is to let kids play outside 🙂

MMA

I’m not big into sports.  I watched every Bulls game in the ’90’s, but outside of that I’ve never been very interested in sports on the whole.  The large glaring exception to that is MMA.  My dad has been watching the UFC since it started in 1993, and I’ve been hooked on it my entire life.  I am a practicing christian, but I watch MMA religiously.  I follow my favorite fighters/bloggers on twitter, I have an RSS specifically for MMA news, I watch every single event on Fox and on Pay per View.  I already posted about Cyborg’s most recent UFC win and I guarantee you I’ll be posting about big events pretty regularly.  Speaking of which, UFC 204 is this weekend.  Watch for that H-bomb.

Video Games

I’ve been playing video games all my life.  We were poor growing up, but every once in awhile my parents would rent a Nintendo from the video store for the weekend.  I eventually got a Playstation when I got older, and played games fairly consistently since then.  I’ve always tended more towards story based games over games that are primarily concerned with mechanics.  For example, I’d pick Final Fantasy over Call of Duty pretty much any day.  

 

Anyway, that’s probably enough background on me for the purposes of this blog.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m writing this blog for two reasons: to familiarize myself with WordPress in pursuit of a career in web development, and because I’ve been journaling recently and it’s helped me to express myself emotionally a little better.  I don’t intend to advertise this blog or make any money off of it, it’s mostly just for my own edification.  If someone ends up reading it, that’s cool but I’m not really interested in making myself beholden to an audience.  I’m just going to write what I want to write, and hopefully be a better person for it.