Category Archives: Life Musings

Why We Are Moving

We’ve told this story to a few people personally, but enough have asked something along the lines of “why in the world are you moving to Iowa??” that we figured we’d break the year-long dry spell and tell the story on the family blog. Aside from the fact that we’re both Iowa natives and we want to be closer to family, there’s a much more personal reason behind the move. Continue reading Why We Are Moving

Complaints and Thankfulness

I’ve had a hard time with complaints lately. And many have been really awful, 1st-world-type complaints. Like just now I was running to the gas station for pizza, and since we just got back from vacation, my keys were in two pieces rather than the normal convenient clip-to-my-belt fashion. I sat down in the driver’s seat and realized I had to *gasp* dig down in my pocket for my keys. I had just driven my dad’s brand new Toyota with a pushbutton start. Man, if only I had one of those, I wouldn’t need to twist my carpal-tunnel-addled wrist into my pocket, and I could just push the button.

We’ve been teaching our kids about thankfulness. For several years now, in fact, during bedtime prayers we ask each kid one thing about the day that they’re thankful for. My self-inflicted penance for complaints like this is to immediately think of something I’m thankful for that relates to the complaint. For really dumb ones like, “man, I have to reach into my pocket to get keys??” maybe I should do more.

  • You know, people used to have to actually get out of their car and turn a crank to turn it on. Twisting a key is so hard.
  • I’m thankful I even have a car, so I can make the 5-block trek for pizza in 2 minutes, rather than a 20-minute walk.
  • I’ve been blessed with hands that can not only reach into a pocket, but can also tickle my kids, caress my wife’s cheek, produce beautiful music on a piano, and type out complex computer code that produces the income needed to pay for both the car and the pizza.

I’m trying to eliminate stupid complaints from my life. As you can see, so far I’m having a tough time of it. But if I can augment each complaint with 3 statements of gratitude, maybe I can eventually learn to skip the complaining portion. We’ll see. Now I just have to stretch my hand over to move the mouse all the way over to that ‘publish’ button.

Marketing is Insane

Despite my technophilia, until this year we still did not own any flat-panel televisions. Using some clever logic (combined with a Christmas bonus), I talked Amanda into getting one for our bedroom. It worked out pretty well… getting the existing TV / stand out of the doorway, and saving our shins from countless bruises. Being a well-informed consumer, I was concious of some of the pitfalls to avoid when buying something like this, but I was amazed at how much I was influenced, or at least tempted by crazy marketing strategies, even after the purchase!

Continue reading Marketing is Insane

Holy Book Reading Batman!

I love to read. Fiction exercises my imagination and explores new possibilities, and Nonfiction continues a lifelong love of learning.

With a 30-minute one-way commute, I have plenty of time for audiobooks. Each time I pick up library books for Amanda, I peruse the ‘new arrivals’ shelf for something interesting. And a Kindle e-reader motivates me to read even faster than paper (plus it is filled up with a large backlog of freebies and books obtained through my work’s professional development fund).

Continue reading Holy Book Reading Batman!

What is ‘Scrambled’ ?

Scrambled Mind of Benjamin FlessnerThe Scrambled Mind of Benjamin Flessner is an intentionally non-flashy website that is essentially a giant ‘About Me’ page.  I made its first incarnation shortly after creating in the late 90’s.  I like the very simplistic nature of raw HTML, and since I consider myself more of a web ‘programmer’ than a web ‘designer,’ I never added much for styling. There’s very little CSS in use, and the random sprinklings of JavaScript are more for fun than function. In fact, I installed MultipleIE in an XP VM and was impressed to see that most of my site renders just fine back in IE3.0 (though the Javascript doesn’t work until a couple versions later).

I certainly don’t expect it to be an immensely popular site… in fact, Google seems to have refused to index it properly, and I’m trying to figure out why. In any case, I do it mainly for my own enjoyment, but if you’re trying to figure out anything about me, you could do worse…   If you feel like digging or sharing or whatever the kids are calling it these days, feel free. I’ll probably tweet any significant updates to the few followers (8 as of this writing!) who might or might not care.

In any case… each letter stands for a page with some information about me or something that interests me.  Though they sometimes change, they’ve been stable enough over the last year or two that I can write about them with confidence.

S – Songs I like –  It used to be Lyrics under L, but I was concerned about copyright violations and decided to play it safe.

C – Computers and other gadgets I own

R – Ramblings – Sort of like Twitter, only spread out over a few years

A – Archives – Where old letters go to die when I replace them

M – Me – A brief bio of yours truly

B – Book Reviews – a collection of books I’ve read over the years and my thoughts/reactions to them (It used to be Bus Stuff, but that got a bit static… though my bus pages are still pretty easy to find.)

L – Lists – This has gotten pretty random as well, but it includes Benwords and my own, small version of the 555-LIST.

E – Entertainment – Mostly favorite comics and game site links, but I’ve been expanding it a bit lately

D – Decisions – My most recent fun adventure! I’ve made unique pages for over 100 words that start with D. Your job is to guess them and enjoy the results (and try to find all of them, though, of course, there’s a trick to it!). It even keeps score, if you allow cookies in your browser (and who doesn’t, these days?).

That’s it! Well, there are a couple of hidden Easter eggs, including a guest book (which, actually, isn’t too hidden if you read the changelog), but it’s full of content, and I actually update it every once in awhile (more often that I wrote blog posts, to tell the truth).

Me Time

Today I got two whole hours to myself – all alone! No kids, no phone, and no pressing tasks to complete. I went to the local coffee shop and enjoyed lunch, tried my first chai latte, and spent some time alone with God. I’m so glad that my husband encouraged me to do it, when I was considering doing something more stressful with the time by myself.

I love being able to stay home with my children everyday, but a day or even a few hours away from my children every once and awhile is essential and very refreshing.

Nursing Home Visits

I have made an effort to visit one of the nursing homes in our town several times in the last month. I was a little apprehensive at first because going to talk to people you don’t know, no matter how sweet they are, is a little disconcerting for me. It requires me to step out of my comfort zone, but I know that the experience is helping me to grow. And I love that my girls get to join me on these adventures. My oldest two girls love talking to the elderly. Although sometimes I think they come just to see the residents’ pet cat and the big cage of birds. Already we are getting to know just a few of the residents and although they don’t necessarily remember us from one visit to the next I feel like we are making a difference.
I thank God that He led me to share just a little bit of my time with the elderly. Now if I could just figure out the best way to spend the rest of my time…

Food Pantry

I discovered something that I thought was pretty cool this summer. I can donate our fresh garden produce to the local food pantry. This is so great for all of those extra zucchini that I have been getting but can’t use up fast enough. And I’ve found that I just don’t use enough zucchini to justify freezing it.
Last year our church planted a garden and they donated everything they grew to the food pantry. I don’t know why it took me a whole year to make that connection.
So if you have a bunch of zucchinis that you are considering leaving on someone’s front porch during the night or putting in their car when they aren’t looking – you can stop sneaking around and take your abundance of beautiful squash to the local food pantry too!
Or any other extra produce you might have…

The Story of My CVP

What would a musician be without a piano? And what would a computer-loving musician be without a digital piano? In the spring of 2009, I finally purchased my pride and joy: a Yamaha Clavinova CVP-307. This baby has it all: the touch of a baby grand, beautiful sound that uses microphones in the cabinet to sample reverberations in the room to give the sound richness and texture, hundreds of sounds, styles (to auto-accompany whatever you play) and songs (which you can play from music directly on the screen), USB storage, digital recording, video out (for large screen playback… including karaoke), and dozens of vocal harmonization configurations.  But what’s really great is the story of how I finally came to own this beautiful instrument.

Continue reading The Story of My CVP