Late Review of 2013

I know this is a little bit late, but I’ve been a little busy.

2013 was a strange year almost from the beginning. If you had told me on January 1, 2013 where I would be on January 1, 2014 I would have probably laughed at you.

Angela and I were living in Georgia, she was working at a newspaper there and I was working for a small company fixing Apple products. We were enjoying ourselves. Nothing out of the ordinary really ever happened. We liked our apartment, we loved our church and our friends. Life was good.

One day toward mid-January we started toying with the idea of moving. Not for any particular reason or to any particular place. Just because it would be fun. The conversation soon turned to the thought of moving back to Arkansas. Among the many reasons was because some things are so much less expensive here than they were in Georgia, especially in the area we were living in. We have some school debt and we decided that it would be a prudent decision. So we both prayed about it and felt like God would help us take care of some road blocks, the biggest being finding jobs, if we decided to move.

By the time Angela and I had left my parents house from a trip for my birthday in early February we had both accepted jobs near Little Rock. Sometimes God’s timing is much slower than what we feel it needs to be. Sometimes it moves at breakneck speed. We started looking for jobs in mid January, had accepted jobs by Feb 3rd and moved to Little Rock two weeks later. What a rush.

Moving from Georgia was hard for us. We loved our church at First Baptist Alpharetta. We could not have been happier with the community and fellowship we got from our small group there. Angela and I think about you all very often. And the entire 9 hour trip back to Georgia from Arkansas I stressed over how I was going to tell my boss and my coworkers I was leaving. I didn’t want to leave Macrobatix, but it was the right time and the right move for Angela and I as a family. The people I worked with at Macrobatix can never be replaced. It was a small tight knit business that really felt like home for me. For my first real job out of college Macrobatix was a dream. I worked with Apple computers and mobile devices all day every day, what more could a geek ask for. Not only that, but I was taught how to fix them buy one of the smartest guys I know. (When people at my new job comment about how much I know about Macs my first thought is “ha, you should meet Bob Wallis, that guy is smart”.)

At whirlwind speed Angela and I packed up the apartment and with the help of my Dad we moved to Arkansas and lived with my parents (for what turned out to be longer than expected). I started my job as a contractor as a Tier II Network Analyst at Windstream Communications and Angela started her job as a reporter at the Log Cabin Democrat. Our goal was for me to get a permanent job after we moved instead of contract work and then start renting a house. In May I landed a job at The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette completely by the providence of God. There’s really no other explanation as to how I get these jobs (Macrobatix and Windstream included) that I am greatly under-qualified for.

While I was working at Windtream I was constantly sending out resumes. I had a few calls and interviews, but I didn’t get anything and most of those were for jobs I was very qualified for. Here’s how I know that getting this job ad the ADG was a God thing. First of all, I sent in the wrong resume on accident, and old one that hadn’t been updated in several months (whoops). Everything was out of order and the formatting was just in shambles. Also, the job said they were looking for a general helpdesk guy, and 90% of the time that means they want a Windows guy, not a Mac guy. The resume I had sent them had none of my Mac experience listed, nor my apple certification. When the head of IT called me to see if he wanted to set up an interview he mentioned that he didn’t know how well I’d fit the job because they were really looking for someone that knew Apple products. I explained to him the mix up and set up an interview and was hired the next week. I found out later that they were probably 2 days away from hiring someone for that job when they got my resume, they had a candidate that they weren’t thrilled with, but he could do the job and had several more interviews. After my interview they stopped taking resumes and give me the job. I am blessed beyond measure to have this job. The guys I work with have been in this business for roughly 20-30 years longer than I have and I learn so much every day.

After I was set in a permanent job we started looking for a house to rent. We looked for 2 months and learned one thing. Houses are expensive to rent. We crunched some numbers and we finally came to the conclusion that buying a house was a good option for us. If you’ve never bought a house before don’t let this scare you because I’m sure our experience was atypical, but the whole process was a nightmare. Every time we’d put an offer in on a house we liked it would be bought out from under us. Without exaggeration that happened 5 times. Sometimes it would be crazy things like going to a house and really liking it and trying to make an offer on it only to find out there had been a contract out on it for a week and the other realtor neglected to tell us. Once we got all the way down to the day before closing on a house and the entire thing fell through due to some complications with the seller. Needless to say after seven months looking for a house and living in a single bedroom in my parents house for nine months we were ready for something/anything good to happen.  Dad found a house for sale in Cabot that we wanted to see and by the time we asked to go look at it (it had been on the market for 4 days) it was already under contract. We were so tired of the same old song and dance that we were almost ready to give up. After contacting the same realtor later that week to see if she had any more houses listed she did tell us that the house we had missed out on in Cabot was back on the market. We jumped at the opportunity. Then after numerous paperwork mix ups and miscommunications we are now the owners of the perfect home for us. And we couldn’t be more grateful for all of the other houses and deals that fell through.

We are so thankful for our parents being there for us through this whole year. Angela’s parents gave us a wonderful dining table that used to belong to Angela’s Great-Grandmother, and we love it. Angela’s dad actually brought the table, chairs and a china hutch all the way from Atlanta to meet us in west Tennessee so we didn’t have to drive that far. My parents gave us a place to live so we could save enough to get into our first house. It would have been years before we could have done that on our own. After we bought the house my dad spent several 8-10 hour days over there working since I had no time off work because of my new job. He laid tile in our kitchen and bathroom. Dad and Mom and Tillmon and even some of Tillmon’s friends helped us paint and move furniture. They all spent a few long days at the house to get it ready for us to move in. We can’t forget our friends Casey, Lauren and Anthony that helped us more than we ever deserved.

We also owe Casey and Lauren something close to 435 meals to pay them back for how many times they let us come over and eat while we were living with mom and dad.

2013 was a year of firsts. A year of trials. A year of change. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Producing Content

I received a comment on my first blog post from a friend of mine named John.  John is a great writer with some great thoughts, and you can read some of them here.  John left a comment that simply said “Quite a commitment to forgo Facebook and Twitter in exchange for producing content here. Noble, and I wish you the best!”. Something about that struck me. The term “producing content” really made me think.

Now, In my technology driven brain I think of content as data, or more specifically computer data because that’s what I’m most familiar with. So in order to stay on the same page with everyone reading, lets assume for the sake of this post that the words content, data, and information are all interchangeable. Content, data, and information can be used to discuss practically anything. Those words can be used to describe music, books, blog posts, graphic arts, etc.

Getting back to John’s comment about it being “quite a commitment” to solely post content here. My plan is to create content in this blog and use my other forms of social media to simply share it. So, why is that such a commitment? Simply put it is because we, as a whole, are an information consuming group of people. In general, we are far more apt to ingest data and keep it than use the information we gained to formulate our own thoughts and opinions and create new ideas.

Data consumption is easy. Creation is difficult.

Lets look at a few things to kind of give you an idea of what I’m talking about. Take Twitter for example. How many people do you follow on twitter?  How many people follow you? Usually the number is slanted where we follow more people than we have followers. The exception to the rule is (usually) the production of meaningful content. The making of things people want to read. Another observation I’ve had about twitter recently is that twitter is easy. It’s fun to post and read quippy thoughts all day, but it really pulls us away from having to create fully formed ideas or the necessity for sound reasoning behind our opinions.

It’s much easier to feel smart by simply reading something an intellectual wrote and move on than it is to form your own opinions and do your own research. A huge fault of my own has been my mistaking the simple act of regurgitating information without any sort of critical thinking for intelligence.

Even now I’ve been working on this article for something close to two weeks because I just can’t figure out how to coherently formulate my thoughts and put an ending to it that won’t ultimately leave people scratching their heads. Not to mention all of the junk Angela and I have been through in the last few weeks while attempting to buy a house, but that’s another story for another day.

I’ll leave you with this little nugget from my own life. Since deciding that I would only post here with (essentially) fully formed thoughts I have really begun to think on things and research them longer than it takes to write a single sentence or a hurtful zinger or absurd anecdote. It really helps out in every day life to be fully informed than just acquainted with situations by biased opinions.

I’d love to her your opinions on the matter. Criticism is welcome.

Life is a funny thing

I’m not really sure how to start this post… or end it. So I’m just going to jump right in, ramble and stop abruptly.

Angela and I were sitting in church yesterday at ThatChurch in Sherwood listening to Scott Harness preach. He was talking about how we share Jesus with people. He made the point that people don’t win people to Jesus by arguing and making good points, you win people to Jesus by sharing your redemption story. For the rest of the sermon I just kind of got lost in that thought. By the time the sermon was winding down I came to terms with something pretty important. I didn’t have a redemption story.

I was raised in church. I had gone through all the steps. I got baptized when I was young. I went to church camp. I was involved in youth group. I worked at the church. I worked for a missions organization. I knew all the answers and knew everything I was supposed to do, but that’s about as far as it went. I was not living like I should have been and truthfully had little intention of changing, and what intention I did have was not for the right reason.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is my redemption story. I was drowning in my sins and had no idea. I gave my life to Christ yesterday for the first time.

That’s where I am at the moment and I’m so thankful to have Angela here to help me through this part of the journey.

A New Start

So this is my first blog post of (hopefully) many, and hopefully some of you Arrested Development fans will understand the title of this post. If you don’t understand the title I suggest you start with episode 1 and watch them all today.

I’m doing away with pretty much all aspects of conventional social media this week. This include Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Reddit, etc. I’ll pretty much be getting rid of anything that I feel like I am probably spending too much time on. Time that I could spend writing more, reading more, learning to program, learning a new language, or even building websites. There is no telling how many hours a week I waste on social media.

I can promise that this blog won’t be Pulitzer worthy, I can’t even promise that it will be interesting, but I’ll do my best to post to it once a week or so. I’m going to leave my Facebook and Twitter active for a short time for people to get the blog link, but get subscriptions in your email because my Facebook and Twitter are gong away soon.

I assume that, like most things, with practice this blog will start to become better, so for the time being please bear with the potentially incoherent ramblings of a seemingly insane person.

One final note, since I really have no idea what I’ll be writing about in this thing I might as well write about something I am familiar with, so if anyone has any questions on tech topics, feel free to ask and I’ll see what I can put together.