Bitter Man in the Middle

I don’t like negotiating.

I’ve probably talked about this before, but I’m pretty terrible at song lyrics. I don’t even try to understand what they are saying or what they are supposed to mean. If I don’t like the music part of a song, it will end up on my DO NOT LISTEN pile. I like to make up my own lyrics anyways. Remember that Michael Jackson song, Man In the Mirror? Sometimes I would sing it right, but most of the time, I would just sing it as Man in the Middle.

I despise being in the middle. I grew up in a family of 5 kids and I was the second one. I do have the distinction of being the oldest boy (meaning my father wanted me to be all responsible and such), but not being the oldest overall. My younger brother who was the absolute middle used his middleness to be a troublemaker. I liked that because he would act out and basically become a human shield for me. He would do something stupid first, get the attention of my parents wrath, and then I would do the same thing afterward and not get in trouble because he was already taking the attention away. It did lead to some bitter jealousy though. Being in the middle of a family was kind of hard.

Yeah? Don’t care.

But not as bad as being in the middle of a thing. You know what I mean, right? It’s kind of like being a hostage negotiator, without actually caring about either the terrorist or the hostages. Here’s an example from high school. You have a friend. Your friend has a crush. The friend wants to know if the crush has interest in them. Your friend asks you to talk to the crush to find out. You ask the crush. The crush mentions they might. What does the friend say? You end up being the one that transfers all the information to the other. It becomes a cycle of people asking you to say things. It becomes a mind-numbingly bitter exercise that you don’t want to be involved in.

The last week or so, we’ve been trying to get insurance at work. My wife is the one dealing with trying to figure it out, while I’m the one at work, trying to sign up for it. We have people on both sides of us, trying to get us to send them information. My wife has questions about our insurance, my work has questions for us. I know nothing of them, except what each side wants me to ask. I get caught in the middle. It becomes my nightmare.

These are the real escape goats.

I am not a hostage negotiator. I don’t care what goes on for each side. Don’t involve me in the middle. Don’t make me the escape goat (as Micheal Scott would say). Don’t tell me a secret and expect me to keep it from other people. I am basically the human Telephone game, you know the one where you whisper one thing at the beginning to a series of people and at the end, the info is completely changed? Pass information to me to tell another and I will completely botch it. Don’t make me the Man In the Middle.

What do you think? Do you hate being the man or woman in the middle? What is the least favorite situation you’ve been in the middle for?


Bitter Middle Man Ben

Hiking A Mountain

Big time star.

This one probably goes back a little while. I was what you would consider a marginal athlete. Once, back in the mid 80’s, I got the Presidential Fitness award. Most years, I passed every test with flying colors except the pull ups. I had pretty weak arms and never lifted weights, except when my track and field team required it. I played basketball and softball, and when I was in 3rd and 4th grade was considered one of the faster runners and one of the hardest to tackle players when I played football.

I had all the makings of an athlete, but what always stopped me from being elite was laziness. I almost always whined and complained about going to practice. I couldn’t stand all the work. I hated sweating and planning and plays. I thought that practicing plays was kind of counter intuitive. Why should we stifle our creativity so we can run the exact plays we are supposed to run. If we are constantly running the plays, how can the improvisational plays that a great athlete makes happen? And why do we practice 80 times longer than we actually play? So what if we get tired during the game? We get tired during practice all the time. There were no cheerleaders or girl crushes watching practice.

What I’m really trying to say is that I have always preferred laying on the couch to running, jumping, flying or even walking.

Not a fan of walking.

I’ve had people try to get me into hiking, especially since we live in an area that has a lot of mountain hikes available. They say it is good exercise, there is a lot of fresh air, and when you get to the top there are great views. I would argue that I can get all those things from my couch. I move around on the couch all the time. I have air conditioning. What air is more fresh than air conditioning? Great views? Have you seen my 4K TV? I have amazing views from all around the world, not just the one view from that mountain I just climbed. In fact, if you take a look at the view right below your feet on a hike, it’s just a lot of dirt and rocks, and animal feces. My 4K tv edits out all the stuff.

Besides, if I want a hike, I can do that in my house. Just the other day, I did a hike the likes of which I’m guessing most of you have probably never done.

My son is an almost 11 year old 162 pound freak of nature (see nature comes into this picture even). He is still a kid at heart (because he is almost 11) and he still wants me to do everything for him. Make him a sandwich, get him the remote, pick up his football gear, take off his shoes. Most days he still wants me to tuck him, which in itself is a job and a half, because he wants me to chase him up the stairs.

I’m usually out of breath by the time I’m up to stair 3, but he wants me to wrestle him when I get to the bed. By that time, I need a 40 minute nap before I go down the stairs.

The other day, he made me carry him on my back. Seriously? Up 15 stairs? I know professional hikers that couldn’t perform that task. I know they carry backpacks that are heavy, but not 160 pounds, I assure you that.

Much like this, but up stairs and with way less enthusiasm.

I promise you hiking is the worst. My shoulders, my back, and especially my knees were aching and sore after that hike. Never again.

What about you guys? What treacherous hikes have you had to make lately?


Bitter Hiking a Mountain Ben

Bitter Hardships Friday Giftures

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” – C.S. Lewis.  I saw this quote recently and have seen it is many different forms throughtout the years. I believe it. I think to be successful you have to go through a lot of trials. Or just have really rich parents that will give you all their money willingly.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have rich parents that gave me all their money. Also, they didn’t give me any real hardships while growing up either. They did their best to teach me good values and morals. Ughh. How am I supposed to be ambitious, and cunning and cutthroat when my parents supported me and made me feel good about myself? Don’t they know they need to be the worst, so I will use those hardships to become extraordinary? That meant that I had to work to find hardships and we all know that I’m way too lazy to work for things. Unfortunately, now I’m stuck in my middling life, just like you will all be stuck having to look at these giftures to take your mind off this terrible writing. With further ado…Friday Giftures..


…did I just say all of that out loud?

What I meant to do…

…was distract you all with this little gifture right here. 

The sad part about this guy…

…isn’t the rubberband, but his hair.

This guy just took the bottle flip..

…to a whole new level..

This is how a real…

…ballet should go.

This is how a real…

…boxing match should go.

This is how all kids…

…should run.

This is how all basketball players…

…should go.

This is how all…

parent teacher conferences should go. 

This is how all cats…

…should learn how to land on their feet.


…I didnt‘ really learn how to shape.

This is my life…

…always falling just short, because of carelessness. 

All I have to say is that my life would be so much better if I had just faced more obstacles. But since I didn’t, I will have to just complain about everyone else and how they made my life a mess. I mean, if you can’t blame others for your mistakes, who can you blame?


Bitter Hardships Ben














Stay In Your Lane Bitterness

Exactly Morgan Freeman.

When I was young, I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. At first, all I knew is that I didn’t want to do something boring. And for me that meant anything to do with numbers. So that basically took out most careers that would make money. That means no accounting, no coding, not a mathematician, scientist, or computer genius. I wasn’t a good drawer, or artist or anything good with my hands. Good heavens my hands super awkward. I also wasn’t good at speaking, acting, or super pushy.  It was easy to eliminate what I didn’t want to do.  But it didn’t really tell me what I wanted to do.

I eventually decided the only thing I would semi-like to do is something with words. I looked up what advertising copywriters got to do and it seemed super fun and creative. I thought that was the life for me. I took all the classes I could find on marketing, advertising, and writing. I really enjoyed the marketing and advertising, but I wasn’t so good at writing. Most of my writing classes dealt with structure and rules and I didn’t like that. I just wanted to be a free flowing writer. One that wrote copy for Nike ads. How hard could that be? Just slap a Just Do It! on everything and you are gold, right?

It didn’t work out and I ended up taking the more circitrous route to writing for a living. I leveraged this blog into a writing gig, that lead me to another writing gig and now I write things for a living. I guess that is how most people eventually end up doing what they are doing, write? (just kidding, I mean right). You eventually have to get out of your lane a little.

Get out…of the lane.

I have communted most of my career, and for some reason, most of the time I drove home, I stayed in the same lane. It was safer and less risky. You don’t have to think, and because of that you can sleep more while driving home. Just kidding, I only occasionally nodded off. I used to think that I had to stay in the same lane the whole time. Until recently. I decided that if I wanted to get home and achieve my goal of laying on the couch as much as possible, I had to find a faster way home.

I started taking the risk of changing lanes. I had to find the one that was moving faster, or had less cars, or was just a little smoother. Either way, I considered the lanes like a basketball player would consider his free agency. Once he was free to change teams, he had some choices to consider. He could play for a winning team and maybe get a little less money, or play for a bad team and get a lot more. At least he had options.

You don’t have to stay in your lane forever. You can decide to try a different lane for a little while. It is risky to get into another lane, because some dude could come speeding in your lane and you wouldn’t see him and crash. But if you try another lane you might get where you are going faster. There is no law telling you that you have to stay in one lane the whole time. Live it up, make a change. Maybe even make your own blog, uh I mean lane, that doesn’t follow the rules.

Maybe don’t do this on the freeway.

What do you think? Do you stay in your own lane, or do you like to hop around a lot? How do you feel about making your own lane?


Bitter Lane Closure Ben


Water We Doing?

I wish more of it was like this.

I have watched a lot of sports in my lifetime. The longer I’ve lived, the more of a spectacle it has become. When I was younger the color television was still pretty new, the channels were few and far between and if you could see a game on TV or one in person, you were actually pretty lucky. Most of my sports watching wasn’t even watching but more perusing the newspaper to find a box score that told me if they won or not.

Then ESPN was born. And then Fox Sports, and CBS Sports, CNNSi, and then ESPN 2, ESPN 3, and then of course, ESPN 8, or the Ocho as they call it and 24 hour sports coverage began. If there is a moment in sports, these guys cover it, analyze it, break it down and glorify it. The level at which these guys hype sports is absolutely outrageous.

I’ve learned very few things in my life, but this is one of them. Hype almost always lead to disappointment. That includes movies, TV shows, sports and just about anything in life. Which leads me to one of the biggest hyped things you probably don’t think about. At least I rarely do.

Calm down man. All you did was make a basket.

The weather. I don’t know if meteorologists crave the spotlight, or if they just enjoy being wrong all the time despite the amazing amount of research and preperation they do just to be made to look like a fool, but it must be really hard to be a meteorologist.

I live in Utah, which is essentially a desert surrounded by mountains and a few salty lakes. It is dry around here all the time, especially in the summer and early fall. In fact, we were mostly on fire the last few months.The words Hurricane are uttered a lot by meteorologists in lots of places around this country. Florida, Texas, the Carolinas, but not a lot around here.

Last week someone mentioned that there was a Hurricane Rosa coming and we needed to be prepared. I thought they were joking. Then there were additional reports about the hurricane during the weekend, and I realized they weren’t joking. Apparently this hurricane off the coast of California was coming and it wasn’t going right back out to sea, it was coming inland. At least that is what the meteroligists were telling me.

Man, were they hyping this thing up. They were telling us to get flood insurance, and to batten down our hatches, get some sandbags, the works. Then last night happened. It was supposed to swarm us and drown us in feet of water.

Expecting this…


I felt like one of those scoffers of Noah that told him it wasn’t going to rain. And finally, around 10 oclock, it started to rain. Which, I’m used to because I lived in Seattle. We got lightning and it rained for a few hours, but by the time our fire alarm went off at 3:30 am this morning, it has stopped. They hype machines had disappointed once again. In fact, my biggest disappointment was that there were no puddles to splash in on the way into work.

Got this.

What about you? How has hype let you down? What movie, sports event, concert, entertainment event or weather forecast has let you down the most?


Bitter Hype Machine Ben

Billboard Hypocrisy

On my way home…

You probably aren’t too surprised by the content I come up with every day. Most of it is stuff that I think about during the day or while I am driving. Since I drive 45 minutes both to work and back, a lot of my thinking time happens when I get bored driving home. I’m apparently not allowed to read a book or look at my smartphone, but somehow I’m still doing a lot of reading on the way home.

I’m not sure how these people justify all the time and money they spend, but I want to know statistically how many accidents these things are causing.

I don’t know about your highway, but mine has a lot of the reader signs. These are official legit electronic signs that are part of the government issued signs. Some tell about how much time it is from one spot on your trip to another. For instance, I have one every morning that tells me how much time it is from where I am to Interstate 215. I know that if it says 10 minutes traffic is usually running pretty smoothly. Like I will slow down to 40 a couple of times, but for the most part, it won’t be stop and go.

Another one of these signs is actually an advice column. It gives inspirational quotes about how dangerous the roads have been this year. Like “210 lives lost this year on Utah roads” or their sign for October is “Nothing is scarier than not having your kids buckled up.” Super motivational quotes like that.

Motivational quotes like, “Only 210 lives lost this year on this road.”

Then we have the construction signs. There is the “Warning: In 2 miles the highway will split”, so make sure you are in the right lane, or you will be 70 miles off your course before you can turn around. One will have “No shoulder driving” and I’m like trust me, I drive with my hands. My shoulders are too sore.

Then there are the signs that say you need to slow down to 60 miles an hour because of construction and if you get caught speeding, your fine will double. I wouldn’t mind slowing down if I actually saw any construction workers around ever. And I can’t slow down because everyone is going 80 and if I slowed down to even 70, I would look like I was Driving Ms. Daisy to her Sunday afternoon tea.

The worst part of all now is the billboards. The ones that say, “Checking Texts cause wrecks.” Oh yeah, how about the billboards that flash every 10 seconds with a new advertisement? How many wrecks are they causing? Probably more than people checking their texts. I did a lot of reading in school, but I would say less than the number of ads I read on a typical day home from work. I guess I at least know that I can read. I just wish that billboards would stop telling me to slow down, stop checking my texts, be sure to buckle my kids in their chairs and instead, stop being the distraction.

Signs are distracting.

What do you think? Should billboards just quit it? Should they stop being hypocrites? Should they stop making me read all the way home?


Bitter Hypocrite Billboards Ben

I Almost Went Blind Bitterness

Why I don’t like sitting in the front row.

I always liked sitting in the back when I was a kid. Still do. I don’t know if it is easier to get away with things or fall asleep easier, or if the leg room is better there, but I’ve never been a front part of the class kind of guy. This is probably why I never did well in class. I also didn’t like to participate. If I am ever to learn anything, it is by osmosis. Actually, I probably never fully learned what osmosis meant either because somehow I thought I could learn that way.

Because I sat in the back all the time, I had to learn how to squint, because even though I thought I had perfect vision, I did not. It was never the worst either, but for years I didn’t wear glasses. I must have mentioned that I couldn’t see very well, or I got tired of not being trendy with the glasses, but I finally got them. I was never a fan of glasses, because they would pinch my eyebrows or give me headaches from wearing them too long. Also, somehow they seemed to get dirty all the time, and I would always have to wipe off all the fingerprints that someone else seemed to get on them.

Can’t do it.

I tried contacts for a hot minute, but those never really took. For some reason, I didn’t like sticking my fingers in my eyeballs, and my wife would spend 10 minutes every morning putting them in my eye. I tired of her telling me, “Open your eyes!” and “Stop blinking!” then I would wear them for certain amount of hours, and she would have to poke my eyeballs again. After a week of that, I was like, “I’ll wear glasses.”

Then I go this amazing opportunity to get lasik, and I took it. I was like if I can hold my eyes open for a few minutes and get that laser to fix me, I’m down. So I got them fixed, and now I have laser eyes. It’s super cool to hit people with it as a reminder not to mess with me. Unfortunately, I recently had an experience which almost took away all that hard work to get my laser vision.

I accidentally saw something in SD. You know, a standard definition program on TV. It was only for a brief millisecond, but I had to turn away before the Standard Definition channel did too much damage.


I don’t know what I would have done if I would have stared at that channel for more than a second. That could have ended my ability to watch TV for the rest of my life. All joy would have ceased. My purpose for living. My window to the world would have just been a dark, bleak, blurry storm of bitterness. I’m glad my wife was quick on her feet and changed the channel. That changed my life.

I’ve stared down the sun in an eclipse and stared down the horrors of pitch black, but I’ve never been as scared in my life as I was when looked at Standard Definition.

What about you? How was your experience looking at anything lower than HD?


Bitter Standard Def Ben

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