Archive for the Category ◊ Personal ◊

Author: aaron
• Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Doesn’t quite have the same ring as “Summer of ‘69” but you get the idea.

So, when I graduated high school and was trying to decide what to do with myself next, I got this this crazy idea that instead of going to college and studying for yet another four long, hard years I could trick my parents into letting me move all the way across the country, hang out with a bunch of weird musicians, drink beer and play my guitar. In other words, go to MUSIC college. We weren’t exactly rolling in cash and the place I got accepted to was pretty expensive so I applied for a merit based scholarship. Basically I had to submit a tape of my playing to earn a shot at a live audition which could ultimately result in some financial assistance.

Also, at the time there was no such thing as Garage Band for your Mac. Heck, when I took typing in high school we were still using Apple //e’s. Anyway, I set about making my recording using a Tascam cassette tape based 4 track, a sequencing Ensoniq ASR-10 keyboard that I borrowed from a friend, my guitar rig, and 1 microphone.

Anyway here are the tunes. I’m sure I gave them quite ridiculous and appropriate titles, none of which I can remember now:

Song the first – Typical mid 90’s guitar gunslinger fare. I think I was trying to channel Joe Satriani or Steve Vai w/ a little Eddie Van Halen finger tapping and dual melody lines thrown in there while playing as many notes as possible in 4 minutes.

Song The First by Aaron Bendickson
Download now or listen on posterous

Song the First.mp3 (5325 KB)

Song the second – I knew I needed at least one song without distortion, so what do you do if you can’t use distortion… why delay of course! This is a white kid from Montana’s attempt at playing Latin.

Song The Second by Aaron Bendickson
Download now or listen on posterous

Song the Second.mp3 (3274 KB)

Song the third – So cheesy but SO AWESOME. The first 2 minutes are kind of a snooze but it sets you up for the STADIUM ROCK GUITAR SOLO complete with PIPE ORGAN at the end! Strong Bad would have been so proud.

Song The Third by Aaron Bendickson
Download now or listen on posterous

Song the Third.mp3 (4772 KB)

The thing I remember most about recording these songs is how FRACKING picky I was. I would play the solo sections over and over and OVER until I felt I had nailed every note. There was really no way to splice or edit the tracks so you had to get it all in one take. I’m sure it drove my poor parents out of their minds hearing me play the same part repeatedly for hours on end (without the context of the rest of the song since I had the playback in my headphones). I can only hope I’m as patient and supportive with my kids’ creative endeavors.

Tune in next week for the story of my live audition in Anaheim, CA and the rainiest day in the history of Disneyland.

Posted from benaar’s posterous

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Author: aaron
• Thursday, December 31st, 2009

I’m not typically the type to make grand New Year’s resolutions or anything like that. Maybe because I know myself too well and the inevitable result of setting myself a specific measurable goal is me being afraid I won’t be able to achieve it and so therefore not really try thereby justifying my failure by saying “well, I didn’t REALLY try that hard”. Dumb huh?

Not this year.

This year was interesting for me because I did just that. I set myself just one specific goal and set about the task of getting there. It was to ride the High Pass Challenge, a very strenuous ambitious bike ride this past September. The act of setting and attaining that simple goal this year reminded me of the fact that I do have a say in how to to go about this whole life thing, so next year I’m setting some more.

Specifics:
- Learn to play steel guitar. That’s right, good old school country gospel twangy pedal steel.
- Author at least one iPhone or Mac application. I work at a flipping software development company for crying out loud, time to move past scripting and unix hackery onto something more elegant.
- Lose these last 10 pounds. I already dropped 30 this summer while training for the bike ride, but I’ve picked up 5 or 6 again in the last couple months.
- Find a church home. This is an aspect of our family’s spiritual and social life that is sorely absent.
- Take my wife on an extended getaway, somewhere new and fun. At least 4 days.

Things to do more of:
- Writing, both music and otherwise (blogging, letters, etc).
- Projects at home, like paining, home improvement stuff. I’m way more capable of that stuff than I give myself credit for and it always feels good to have it done.
- Traveling, both with and without the kids.

Things to do less of:
- Drinking & eating junk food. Not talking about an absolute ban here, but definitely need to get this back into balance.
- Watching TV, waste of time.
- Twitter / Facebook / RSS reading, basically all forms of digital ADD. It’s a time-suck and also impedes my ability to focus.
- Making excuses for not starting things.

All things considered 2009 was a really great year. I’m looking forward to the 2010’s (or whatever the heck this next decade is supposed to be called). I hope it is a blessed one for y’all!

PS> Just for fun I poked around in my old photo box (before the advent of digital cameras & iPhoto) and found this picture of me and my brother Jason at a “Dress Like The Future” party from New Year’s Eve, 1999.

Posted from benaar’s posterous

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Author: aaron
• Monday, September 14th, 2009

In May, when a few co-workers and I decided it would be a good idea to sign up for the High Pass Challenge, there was no way on the face of this planet I was ready for it. One hundred and fourteen miles accompanied with 7500 feet of climbing up to Windy Ridge? Are you kidding?!? I’ve described myself as an “avid” cyclist several times in past but not in recent history. Long gray Seattle winters, a regrettably sedentary day job and the day to day demands of supporting a family of two young boys had relegated any notion of personal fitness well onto the back burner.
 
Nevertheless, something clicked in me and I decided that I would accept this challenge.
 
I started biking to work. It’s a very manageable 3.5 mile commute (one way). To work is almost exclusively downhill and home from work is, well, not. Those first weeks of huffing back home with the family’s dinner strapped to my back were humbling. However, by mid June I was feeling stronger, and wasn’t completely out of breath when I arrived home after the 300 foot climb.
 
I also started eating better. I tracked my caloric intake using an iPhone app called “Lose It!” which many of my co-workers also use. The changes I made weren’t super drastic, just being aware of what I was putting into my body helped. I cut back on the starchy, carby stuff like bread, pasta, potatoes, etc… however beer stayed on the menu! (gotta have SOME carbs, right?)
 
We organized a few training rides on the weekends, and I would also occasionally ride up and around the Magnolia Loop on my way into work in the mornings. Fortunately for me (and my co-workers) our office has showers! My father-in-law convinced me to play hooky from work one Friday in August and ride day 1 of the RSVP with him as part of the preparation.
 
Finally, after months of prep, training, dieting, and anticipation, the weekend was upon us. I loaded up the Explorer and thanks to the generosity of my neighbor hitched up his tent-trailer and headed to Packwood. We camped out on Saturday night in a field by the start line. There was a spaghetti feed organized at a local restaurant and I have to say I probably ate more that night than I had in a single sitting for several months. Full and anxious we hit the sack, surrounded by the sounds of small-town Western Washington… coyotes, crickets, and the occasional 18 wheeler rolling by on highway 12.
 
Fueled by instant oatmeal and coffee prepared on our single-burner camp stove we stumbled to the start line at 7am. Within the first mile my front derailer cable snapped! A quick examination of the damage led me to only one conclusion… to remove it. Given the nature of the terrain I didn’t really even miss it. Crisis averted.
 
The sun rose higher in the clear sky and we pressed on, climb after climb, food stop after food stop. The weather gods saved all their mercies for us that day because it was unbelievably gorgeous! By 11:15 we were at the top which is quite an impressive time considering the mechanical issues that slowed us earlier. Cruising back down towards home was about the sweetest bit of riding I’ve ever done. The sun streamed though the pine trees and we sped along through the warm breeze. Amazing. The final leg of the ride is where we truly encountered the “Challenge” part of the High Pass Challenge. Winding roads strewn with loose gravel and sudden brief climbs coming in miles 90 thru 100 were not what we’d expected. I found myself several times talking myself back to sanity, “Keep pedaling, another mile-marker means another drink of water, just make it past the next corner and then make it past whatever is after that.”
 
I crossed the finish line just before 3pm.
 
The ride was every bit of what I’d hoped it would be. But perhaps even more than that, the journey of preparing for the ride reminded me of something. Seldom have I honestly set goals like this for myself, ones that are out there… that take more than a few moments worth of consideration. Living in a world where “if it takes more than 3 seconds to update my twitter status something must be broken”, it’s challenging not to feel the progress right away, that slow, steady, incremental movement towards a destination. And yet looking back at the last four months even I’m amazed. I dropped nearly 30 pounds and am in better shape physically (and emotionally) than I’ve been for many, many years.
 
A picture of me and my co-workers at the top

Check out the rest of the album here.

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