Wednesday, December 29, 2010

“Fun” Test + Fail = Peacemaker

It all started with a test.

A test to see how much fun was I having in my life.

I Failed. Miserably.

But that very day God provided a solution…

…become a Peacemaker. 

More specifically, become an international-traveling, life-loving, experience-embracing, concert-screaming, “Here’s To Life!”-saluting Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers fan. Puerto Pensaco 2007 018

Now, 3 years, 9 shows, 7,406 miles, 2 countries, 5 cities, dozens of shots of tequila, 9 albums, and 8 hotels later, I can truly say I am having more fun, soaking in better music, enjoying a better marriage, drinking better tequila, and am more energized to take a big bite out of this beautiful world than I ever thought possible.

How did this happen?


It was May 6th, 2007. My wife was gone on a weekend getaway, and I was home in the middle of another “Hey I’m almost 38 and I need to behave like an adult with 4 kids and a mortgage that won’t quit so don’t tell me I need to squeeze fun into the middle of my busy, career-building, debt-soaked life” day.

Little did I know God had already put in motion a grand plan to put a smile back on my heart.

At church the topic was “God Loves Fun”. The main point was that God loves it when we have fun…good ol’ fashion barn-burning, doesn’t-have-to-be-spiritual-to-be-God-affirming fun. During the service we took a test to measure how much fun we were having in our lives.

I failed, and not just a “hey, maybe you should see an extra movie once in a while” kind of fail, but a “Sheesh, you’re stifling your life by taking it all way too seriously” kind of fail.

Then the cavalry rode in to rescue me…

…with my wife leading the charge, a glyph flag waving in the wind, and a rock n’ roll band singing about Mexican moonshine, contraband, hourglasses, grains of rice, and leaky little boats.

The wife pulled into the driveway happier than I’ve seen her in a long time. She had just experienced her first Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers (RCPM) concert the night before (Cinco de Mayo) with her friend Lisa and was already breathing in the good vibrations of life.

I then proceeded to tell her of my test…and how grandly I failed it. Within 2 minutes, the next 36 hours (and really the rest of my life) were set. It went something like this:

ME: …then it said I needed to find something fun. Something spontaneous.
HER: RCPM is playing tonight in Des Moines! LETS GO!
ME: You’re nuts.
HER: (eyes sparkling, smile gleaming, toes bouncing)
ME: What about the kids, catching up on work, and who would want to go with us?
HER: James and Lisa! I know she’ll call within 10 minutes saying that they’re going!
(seconds later)
HER: “Hello? Lisa! …Awesome! …working on him now. See you in 30 minutes”
ME: Ummm…
HER: “Hello? Mom, we need a favor…yes…20 minutes. Thank you!”
HER: All set. Lets Rock.
ME: But…

30 minutes later we were fleeing our mundane home towards a temporary Sonoran oasis in Des Moines to see RCPM. During the trip we got a crash course in the history of RCPM, The Refreshments, someone named Buddy, and listened to as many songs as possible.

3.5 hours later RCPM took the stage.

The quick snare roll led into the infectious guitar riff that offered us a special kind of contraband. We were off on a journey led by an experienced troubadour through the adventures that life had in store for us if we just opened ourselves to the opportunities.IMG_1884-2

The Telecaster started the very next song with a perfect rhythmic riff offering us to go down together while the Les Paul blasted licks that sounded how red wine tastes..we liked that a lot.2010-12-13 Phoenix

By the end of the night, when the songs were mere echoes in our heads, the limes had been bitten, and our back-stage conversations with the band were over, my life-lens had been re-focused. I was given a musical medicine that could mend my attitude when it faltered.

I discovered it wasn’t a mundane home I was fleeing after all. It was a mundane attitude on life. I had everything one could hope for, except the ability to recognize it. The vibrations I heard that night brought me closer to God, my wife, music, and my kids. I began to remember what it felt like to compose a song. How a 2 line lyric backed by the right chords can melt a heart, unify a crowd, and make a soul come alive.

I remembered what it was like to have fun.


I realize now that while it’s hard work to live life with a passion, and that it takes energy to squeeze the most out of this world, the results are well worth it:

  • A far happier attitude
  • A marriage closer and lovelier than I could imagine
  • A domestic adventure worth cherishing (con quatro niƱos!)
  • An expectation that something great is about to happen every day

And here’s the best part: we don’t go to RCPM shows to escape our lives…instead we have infused this life-loving RCPM attitude into our daily living. Going to an RCPM show is our way to add fuel to our peace-and-love-through-rock-and-roll fire that burns in our hearts.

Thank you Roger, Jim, P.H., Nick, Steve for providing the contraband.

Thank you wife for sailing on this beautiful adventure by my side.

Thank you God for showing me how rich and textured a life can be.


Salud. Here’s to life!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My 2010 IBM World Tour – Highlights

While the last post focused my year long “Customer Adoption” tour By The Numbers, this post highlights my favorite memories from my favorite cities.


~~~ Highlights ~~~

4/15 Washington DC
Loved taking an intense walkabout across the mall, Smithsonian, US Capital, Library of Congress,  Supreme Court, and metro. Ended up creating a movie with a surprising list of who's-who that really likes our product!

6/27-6/29 New York
I have two standing destinations when I visit NYC: Rudy’s Guitar Shop, which sells my dream guitar: Paul Reed Smith Tonare Grand acoustic guitar

IMG_0045and The Iridium…where the best music is performed live in an intimate location with available front row tables: Read Detailed Memories of this night or just view the summary photo:


7/14-7/17 San Mateo
I got to visit the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods and Muir Beach, and my childhood home. Amazing places.

Systems Director World Tour2

8/12-8/22 Sydney
Stayed at the Intercontinental Sydney. Just off the harbor at Circular Quay. Blue Mountains, Manly and Bondi beaches, trains, harbors, and the nice people. Oh, and ‘Flat White’ coffee. “Have here or take-away?”

9/10-9/14 London/Warwick
The castles, history, fish and chips, hearing Big Ben strike 12, Warwick castle, and free golf at the Ardencote Manor. This place was on IBM’s approved list, and was a private country club. Stunning!

Systems Director World Tour3

9/15-9/17 Budapest
I absolutely loved Budapest. Buda on one side of the Danube river, Pest on the other. Intercontinental Hotel was amazing and I got to play some guitar!

the guided tour through Budapest inspired me to show everyone what makes my life sparkle…

9/18-9/24 Johannesburg
Went on a real-life safari. Amazing. Oh, and that fence? That’s OUR cage to keep us safe during one of our breaks from the animals on the outside.

My Dropbox

9/30-10/05 Singapore
Little India had authentic street-side curry. Wonderful tasting, and it didn’t kill us! Little China showed us an authentic fish market:

10/6-10/10 Bangkok
Messy, chaotic, lots of bugs, did I say chaotic? And HOT! We had to wear pants on our tourist day. No, as opposed to shorts, smart-aleck, in order to see the temples. Great scenery but I’m fine not going back.

Systems Director World Tour

11/09-11/11 Dallas
One word: Steak. Amazing steak. Oh, and we crashed an HP conference…a good topic for another blog :-)


12/05-12/09 Las Vegas
I Hate Vegas. There. I said it. Why? Because even when I try to capture something nice, like this Eiffel tower, Ms. “Hey-Look-At-My-Nakedness-On-This-90-Foot-Billboard” gets in my way.


The Work
I know what you’re thinking…and you’d be wrong :-)   I actually DID work while on this world tour. I present these photos as evidence.WorkCollage

Those that travel like this can also confirm…while an amazing adventure teaching and communicating our product’s value, my ‘day’ job was still awaiting me when I got back to the hotel.

This resulted in a constant struggle between responsive emails or searching out a new adventure…Decisions

…I guess you know which won.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My 2010 IBM World Tour – By The Numbers

This year I focused on “Customer Adoption” of our product at IBM. Besides the collateral I created while working in Rochester (Facebook page, YouTube movies), I traveled.

A lot.

To illustrate, here is a pin-map of the locations I visited. Want more? Visit my “World Tour Photo Album” image

Here’s another way to look at it: By the numbers.

Days Traveled:   65
Tough on the family and personally, but not one regret – read why

Miles Flown:   77,280
Yes, I got to keep the frequent flyer miles and am now treated like all humans should but few are at Delta :-)

Bags Packed:  1
Yep, one small carry-on plus backpack that carried my laptop and other electronics. I stuffed 2 shirts, 2 show pants, lots of under garments, and toiletries. All of them rolled to maximize space and lasted up to two weeks. Oh, and one awesome pair of shoes I could wear as dress, casual, even with shorts.

Sydney 001

Times I needed to do laundry:   1
But not for poor packing. In Bangkok the cab we took was filled with bugs. I had a choice: Burn the clothes and buy new ones (potentially filled with more bugs) or dry-clean the whole mess. I chose dry-clean. Thank you Finance Dudes for approving the laundry expense!

Gallons of Jet Fuel Used: 386,400
I know. I didn’t fly alone on the 757’s. Although I did have a great time in coach on all those international flights!

Hours of longest single flight: 15
This was to Sydney. Tip: take 2 Benadryl. I slept 7 hours. ‘course that left 8 more hours to eat and watch 4 movies

Hours of longest travel day: 31
9am Thursday – 4:00pm Friday (all CT) from Johannesburg South Africa to home (through London Heathrow). Crazy thing: 5 days later I flew from home to Singapore…another 23 hour travel day.

Continents Visited:  5
North America, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia. Now to figure out how to get to South America. Or, I could honor my internationally educated peers who only recognize “America” as one continent, not two and I will only have one very hard-to-reach continent left to get to: Antarctica

Countries Visited:   8
USA, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Hungary, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand

Cities Visited:   16
Ottawa, Calgary , Palisades, Washington DC, Toronto, New York, San Mateo, Sydney, London, Warwick, Budapest, Johannesburg, Singapore,  Bangkok, Dallas, Las Vegas

Oceans and Rivers Touched: 7
Pacific Ocean (San Mateo), Atlantic Ocean (New York), South China Sea (Singapore), Coral Sea (Sydney), Thames River (London), Danube River (Budapest), Chao Phraya River (Bangkok)

Hours Taught:   150
This does not count the 49 hours of web conference education I gave this year to customers through the Internet.

IBM $$$ spent:   $25,993.28
Not bad for the potential sales revenue! Although, this only includes my travel expenses, not the catering costs. Catered food costs a lot!

Customers Educated:    730
Some of the best customers in the world.

Meals Eaten:   195 
One awesome perk I cannot deny. I tasted many, many new things and all were yummy! Of course many on-the-go breakfasts (favorite was flat-white coffee and egg sandwich in Sydney). Many lunches were just-OK catering. But the dinners. Ah the dinners. Sushi, seafood, steaks, curry, Thai, kangaroo, alligator, all you can imagine…

World Tour Food and Drink and let’s not forget the local brews…

World Tour Food and Drink1

Days sick from local food and drink:   0
Someone was watching out for me.

Kids I grew to love even more:   4
It seemed that when I was on the other side of the world we could communicate more often…thank you Skype


Amazing Wife who ran the castle:   1
I don’t know how to repay her, but all of my free tickets are going towards her adventures. (like our recent trip to Phoenix for a tequila festival and RCPM show)


As I look back, I can’t believe where I’ve been. It’s been quite a year. I am truly blessed with this job (thank you IBM), these opportunities, my travel companions, my family. The world has become much smaller to me. God gave me the urge to travel the world when I was young, and has provided the means as well.


I think I’m going to take a long nap now.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010-12-04: The New Standards

12-04-2010: The New Standards
Where: The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul MN
Went with: Wife, James, Lisa
Times: 2nd

I should title this, “I Want You To Want Me” because after hearing it the way The New Standards performs this song, its been in the forefront of my mind ever since.

Watch and listen:

The big surprise is how it’s forcing me to reflect on friendships…and my lack of them. But more on that later.

The show, our 2nd time seeing them, was even better this time. We were in the 2nd balcony but I love these seats because I could soak in all the action, colors, and musicians all at once.


We even got to hear my favorite Suburbs song “Rattle My Bones” in a very cool style! IMG_1756

I went with the wife as well as our friends James and Lisa. Our evening started with an amazing dinner at Fuji-Ya complete with sushi, saki, weird mushrooms, and great conversation. The show was mesmerizing with special guests, and wonderful music.


Reflections on “I Want You to Want Me”:
I’m starting to wonder if I’ve been shouting out these lyrics myself. Not for vanity (the motivation most people think is behind this song), but for validation…

…and protection

…and fear

Here’s what the song says…
I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me

I’m begging you to beg me

Here’s what I hear:

I want you to want me, friend, but I’ll only respond 10% of the time. 90% of the time I’m quite happy alone or with my family. It’s that last 10% that hurts my heart. Will you wait around for me? I didn’t think so.

I need you to need me, church, so I can focus on ‘getting things done’ like being on stage, setup, teardown, tasks in general. That way I won’t have time to feel awkward and hear the deafening silence as I stand drinking my coffee and eating my sliced fruit waiting for someone to want to walk up and talk with me. Here’s my secret: It’s not dedication that makes me tune my guitar twice per morning…it’s to fill the time gap…to protect me from standing alone in the middle of a crowd with no one to talk to…and from fear that someone might actually want to walk up to me and talk.

I’d love you to love me as a close friend, but that scares the crap out of me. I am very uncomfortable making friendships…and keeping friendships alive (3 years on average…then something happens: moving away, drifting apart, …). If I could just magically make you love me as a close friend, that’d be great (impossible, I know).

I’m begging you to beg me to accomplish some task that you think only I can do. I may be too busy for it, but then you’ll say those five words I love to hear, “We need to clone you”. No emotional investment required, but still feel validated as a contributing member of the relationship…at a safe distance.

So…quite a night. Not a fun, happy trip to Margaritaville, but a memorable experience none the less. Maybe I’ll learn a thing or two.

Who am I kidding.

I think my guitar needs tuning.


Read other robot concert thoughts

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