About Author: Benn Stebleton

Posts by Benn Stebleton

Last Tuesday: One of the Clockwatchers

“You a paper pusher now, baby.”

Jasmine has occupied her cubicle in the state office building for more than five years. I have been in mine less than three months. I still require her daily guidance. She is helping me read legal jargon, navigate the TOMIS computer program, and accept my new position in the world.

Hell.

My alarm clock goes off with millions of alarm clocks across the time zone. We are all on the 8:00 to 4:30 — give or take thirty minutes — Monday through Friday schedule. I sleep a bit later than most. My body has yet to adopt this sleep pattern.

All of us then put on the uniform of the powerless, the khakis of button pushers, the knee length skirts of lower to middle management, the oxfords of bureaucrats. Our wardrobe is from JCPenney, or Target, some of it may even come off the Walmart rack. We’re not paid enough to dress really well, but we are required to look pretentiously important with something called business casual. If we really were important, we’d wear quality suits or other expensive fashions. If we were really honest with ourselves, our clients, and our co-workers, we’d wear jeans, or short skirts, or flip flops, or a whole assortment of other items that expressed our true selves.

Permitting such apparent personality would not suit the business environment.

Breakfast is often taken while in traffic. All these other people commuting, on this road not by choice but by the necessary pursuit of the next direct deposit.

Finally, after walking through the usual quiet, insincere “good mornings,” we reach our cubicles. We’ve tried to personalize the cold atmosphere with photos, maybe a stuffed animal, a Titans poster. Nothing too controversial, nothing too revealing, nothing too interesting. Boring gray three-quarter walls dressed up with decorations only moderately less colorless.

Most of us have no windows through which to acknowledge the outside. Better to not remind us there is a whole world going on out there, passing us by while we stare into a flat screen.

For most of us, we start our morning with a quick email check, then open Firefox and discreetly surf through the sites IT hasn’t blocked. Facebook, ESPN for some scores, CNN for the news, Gmail, and — hopefully — the Nashville Feed. But we can’t dawdle long anywhere. Cubicles offer little protection from the vigilant supervisor. Open up a document, do some real work that means nothing, check the clock. Still four hours to lunch.

Our supervisors, the ones in the offices with windows facing our carpeted outer walls, may have convinced themselves of their own false importance by now. They have been doing the same inconsequential tasks long enough to earn a position where they can oversee the inconsequential tasks of others. A title and a little extra recognition on the biweekly check might have persuaded them they have some form of power.

But, in reality, there are no alphas in the cubicle environment. All true leaders have pushed up into a world where they can dress themselves, whether it is in expensive suits or Steve Jobs-ish jeans. They have shown authentic independent thinking and rejected cubicled employment. The alphas don’t tolerate the pointlessly rigid structures of today’s offices long.

Your boss is not an alpha. He is only in charge if everyone buys into the system someone well above his pay grade set in place generations ago. If we accept this is all there is, our supervisor can go on deluding himself.

At midday we are granted recess. One hour to seek out fast food, maybe TGI’s if the day is special enough, but usually we are in the cold break room with a few sporadic co-workers. They sit quietly across from each other, reading the paper while barely acknowledging the Lean Cuisine they are picking at with a plastic fork. A crossword puzzle might provide them with an excuse not to make conversation and the only sense of accomplishment they feel that day.

I prefer to sit alone and read. A good story distracts me from the recognition that I am becoming as mundane as my surroundings. I’m already beginning to blend in with the stainless steel microwave, the diet colas, and the insulated lunch bags. I read about interesting people rather than becoming one.

Many will try to find satisfaction and purpose outside of the work week. Make some babies. Buy a new truck. Add on a family room. Build up enough debt to lock themselves inside their cubicle until retirement.

After a short lunch we get back to that file, to that desktop, to that clock with petrified hands. In another four long hours we will be back on an overcrowded road. And we’re looking forward to it.

This is recession era employment. When, no matter how sucky our lives may be five days a week, we are still “grateful to have a job.”

I cannot say I am grateful. I am tolerant of this job. I half-ass my way through it for little appreciation and a mediocre paycheck. I’ve done the math. Just five more checks and I can jump back into the real world with a stringy safety net. It won’t last long, but I’ve got to get out before I start to accept this world as normal. These Dockers™ are squeezing the life out of me.

Leaving this job during a heavy recession is not taking a risk. Staying here is the bigger risk.

What better time to re-claim ourselves. We have little to lose, except for maybe a red stapler.

Kick over your cubicle and join me back in a world where eight hours each day you have an opportunity for personal satisfaction. Pursue what will bring some sort of fulfillment to you. Claim a bit of control over your own existence.

Do something that actually puts your name on the world. Something where you can say “I did this…because I wanted to.” No other explanation should be required.

mDave jumped out of the corporate world and now works for himself in the relaxed morning office of Edgehill Studios Café. That’s what a little scrote might get you.

I will soon hook a Uhaul trailer to my car, point the hood west, and drive until I find somewhere that can hold my interest. There, I will live and work (outside of a cubicle).

What are you going to do?

Continue Reading...

  • In the last post I walked you through purchasing a domain on Godaddy.com and now today’s walk through we’ll set up the domain and hosting. On the Godaddy.com homepage click...

    Music Business 101 : How to Set Up Your Domain to Forward to MySpace, Facebook, Etc…

    In the last post I walked you through purchasing a domain on Godaddy.com and now today’s walk through we’ll set up the domain and hosting. On the Godaddy.com homepage click...

    Continue Reading...

  • <div style=

    Locally brewed craft beers have been popping up all over the country in the last fifteen years. Microbrews are no longer limited to the likes of Denver and Seattle. Today even citizens of small cities such as Missoula, MT and Chapel Hill, NC can enjoy a hometown brew. Nashville has not been left out of this nationwide trend. To date, the Music City hosts three brew pubs and one full brewery.

    Each of these has been financially well received. All are holding on to their share of the market, if not expanding. Yazoo, Nashville’s lone complete brewery, has recently been exporting its kegs to Memphis as well as various locations throughout Davidson County. It has also been trucking bottles of its flagship beers (Dos Perros and Pale Ale) to destinations in both Davidson and Shelby counties. Their next goal is to jump the stateline and make their brews available in Birmingham, AL.

    Blackstone has also been sending kegs and bottles full of flavorful concoctions throughout the middle Tennessee area. It is the lone brew pub in Nashville to reach beyond its walls and share its products with other venues.

    Thus far, Boscos and Big River, Nashville’s two other brew pubs, have remained satisfied with the sales generated inside their respective buildings. This all translates into opportunities for some good drinking in Nashville. Nashville Feed wanted to find out where the tastiest of those opportunities lies.

    To discover this, we could have compared honors bestowed on each brewery. Each place brags of awards. In addition to scattered other accolades, all have received recognition from the Great American Beer Festival. But this isn’t about what attendees of an exclusive national beer festival in Colorado think; this is about the tastes of Nashvillians.

    And an article solely about certificates of achievement would be catatonically boring for me, the writer, as well as you, the reader.

    We also might have assembled a panel of middle Tennessee’s most well regarded beer aficionados to sample each microbrew. But are these people actually representative of the drinkers in Nashville? The city has a very diverse population of people enjoying the local brews on any given night. Many of them don’t know what gravity or malt is, but they know what tastes right.

    So we opened up the voting to whomever would like to join us for at least one stop on a four part tasting journey through Nashville. We felt that this approach would give us the most accurate representation of what the city’s drinkers actually preferred, as well as giving the Nashville Feed writers an excuse to knock back a few pints of fine ales ourselves.

    Our tasters put themselves into one of three categories:

    • Occasionally sample something with taste and character
    • Enjoy microbrews, but not real knowledgeable
    • Beer snob

    There were two other options on the ballot, but no one wanted to admit to being a fan of corporate beers or a lord of the fine brews. Thus, our survey was conducted by a sample of solid, middle of the road beer drinkers.

    Tasters were asked to sample whichever beer they wanted. They then were instructed to comment on the beer and give it a rating from one to five (five being the Angelina Jolie/Johnny Depp of beers) on a ballot provided for them. Additional information was also collected, such as intoxication level at the time of sampling and notes on ambiance, service, location and any other miscellaneous ranting the voter wished to offer.

    Not all beers offered at each location show up in the results. Some selections may not have been sampled by anyone on the panel, or the beer may have been sampled but no ballot was submitted for it.

    At least two ballots per beer had to be submitted for that particular beverage to be considered. This was to insure that one person’s fickle tastes or established love for one selection did not unfairly slant the results.

    Our study was in no way intended to represent any sort of accurate system of measuring beer quality. It was put together solely so that we could drink lots and get a vague, unprofessional, nonbinding concept of where the good beer is made.

    With that disclaimer in mind, below is links to all the articles in the series:

    Tags:  beer, brew pub, brewery, microbrew, nashville

    " title="Drink It In, Nashville! The Idea." />
  • Drink It In, Nashville! The Idea.

    Locally brewed craft beers have been popping up all over the country in the last fifteen years. Microbrews are no longer limited to the likes of Denver and Seattle. Today even citizens of small cities such as Missoula, MT and Chapel Hill, NC can enjoy a hometown brew. Nashville has not been left out of this nationwide trend. To date, the Music City hosts three brew pubs and one full brewery.

    Each of these has been financially well received. All are holding on to their share of the market, if not expanding. Yazoo, Nashville’s lone complete brewery, has recently been exporting its kegs to Memphis as well as various locations throughout Davidson County. It has also been trucking bottles of its flagship beers (Dos Perros and Pale Ale) to destinations in both Davidson and Shelby counties. Their next goal is to jump the stateline and make their brews available in Birmingham, AL.

    Blackstone has also been sending kegs and bottles full of flavorful concoctions throughout the middle Tennessee area. It is the lone brew pub in Nashville to reach beyond its walls and share its products with other venues.

    Thus far, Boscos and Big River, Nashville’s two other brew pubs, have remained satisfied with the sales generated inside their respective buildings. This all translates into opportunities for some good drinking in Nashville. Nashville Feed wanted to find out where the tastiest of those opportunities lies.

    To discover this, we could have compared honors bestowed on each brewery. Each place brags of awards. In addition to scattered other accolades, all have received recognition from the Great American Beer Festival. But this isn’t about what attendees of an exclusive national beer festival in Colorado think; this is about the tastes of Nashvillians.

    And an article solely about certificates of achievement would be catatonically boring for me, the writer, as well as you, the reader.

    We also might have assembled a panel of middle Tennessee’s most well regarded beer aficionados to sample each microbrew. But are these people actually representative of the drinkers in Nashville? The city has a very diverse population of people enjoying the local brews on any given night. Many of them don’t know what gravity or malt is, but they know what tastes right.

    So we opened up the voting to whomever would like to join us for at least one stop on a four part tasting journey through Nashville. We felt that this approach would give us the most accurate representation of what the city’s drinkers actually preferred, as well as giving the Nashville Feed writers an excuse to knock back a few pints of fine ales ourselves.

    Our tasters put themselves into one of three categories:

    • Occasionally sample something with taste and character
    • Enjoy microbrews, but not real knowledgeable
    • Beer snob

    There were two other options on the ballot, but no one wanted to admit to being a fan of corporate beers or a lord of the fine brews. Thus, our survey was conducted by a sample of solid, middle of the road beer drinkers.

    Tasters were asked to sample whichever beer they wanted. They then were instructed to comment on the beer and give it a rating from one to five (five being the Angelina Jolie/Johnny Depp of beers) on a ballot provided for them. Additional information was also collected, such as intoxication level at the time of sampling and notes on ambiance, service, location and any other miscellaneous ranting the voter wished to offer.

    Not all beers offered at each location show up in the results. Some selections may not have been sampled by anyone on the panel, or the beer may have been sampled but no ballot was submitted for it.

    At least two ballots per beer had to be submitted for that particular beverage to be considered. This was to insure that one person’s fickle tastes or established love for one selection did not unfairly slant the results.

    Our study was in no way intended to represent any sort of accurate system of measuring beer quality. It was put together solely so that we could drink lots and get a vague, unprofessional, nonbinding concept of where the good beer is made.

    With that disclaimer in mind, below is links to all the articles in the series:

    Tags:  beer, brew pub, brewery, microbrew, nashville

    Continue Reading...

  • <img style=One night in Tunica casinos had emptied the pockets, and dipped into the bank accounts, of Sam Whitewood, Gin, and myself. Only The Church had come out ahead. She chose to walk away immediately following a $100 slot payout. The casinos make huge amounts of money for Mississippi. The state is now the third largest gambling market in the nation, taking the bronze behind Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The wealth generated by these businesses indicates they are taking in a great deal more money than they are paying out. One doesn’t have to possess even a rudimentary understanding of the most elementary statistics to see that most patrons do not profit in casinos. Quite the opposite is true. These businesses are bringing in enormous profits without providing any sort of product or service in return. They need only offer the implausible promise of a payout to collect millions from their hopeful customers. The house recouped The Church’s payout from Sam Whitewater alone. Add to that the losses of Gin and myself. With just the three of us the establishment took in well over double whatever they gave to The Church. Add in our larger circle of six additional acquaintances, none of whom profited, and the casino is over a thousand dollars clear of The Church’s winnings. It’s a pretty good business to be in. In fact, in Tunica County, it is almost the only business to be in. According to a 2002 US Census Bureau economic study, accommodation and food services accounted for 1.2 billion dollars worth of revenue in Tunica County that year. This bested the next largest money maker, retail trade, by over a billion dollars. Accommodation and food income accounted for specifically $1,268,071,000 in 2002, with casinos accounting for $1,259,842,000 of that total. Whatever businesses make up that $8,229,000 difference would seem to be missing out on the bigger payout. Their economic impact is measured in a mere seven digits rather than ten. In that same report, only one establishment in the entire county was identified as an arts, entertainment, or recreation provider. Its income was not published in the study to avoid disclosing the economic data of an individual company. It is listed as employing less than 19 people, however. One can safely assume that the money this company brings in is not anywhere near the range of that accumulated by the casinos. This lack of other entertainment options is quickly apparent. My own unscientific observations found that the Gold Strike casino is primarily populated with retired people on a weekday afternoon. There is very little movement on the floor. Many post themselves at a slot machine or gaming table and burn through social security checks and the inheritance of absent offspring. As the afternoon wears into evening, there is a noticeable shift in the customer base. Youth begins to show its pretty face. At first it is represented in scattered groups of three or more. Soon the blackjack tables are filled with young adults sipping on Bud Lights and throwing away student loans or meager paychecks. The youth dominance quickly chases many of the more senior gamers back to their rooms for an early night. There are holdouts. Dedicated individuals who don’t fit firmly into either group. They sit at slot and video poker machines for literal hours, nursing free drinks, smoking cigarettes, and repeatedly pushing the same button. No conversation is offered or accepted. Facial expressions are kept to an absolute minimum. The casino environment encourages sedateness. Drinks are delivered free, as long as one remains seated at a gaming table or machine. A band does poor renditions of classic and modern popular songs from a stage behind the bar. Even if one were inclined to dance to butchered Pat Benatar, there is no appropriate space to do so. Sunk into the bar are video poker machines. There is little to no conversation as people push a button and drink and push the same button again. Snippets of interaction take place at the tables. Gamblers speak with one another and the croupier in short sentences, but the focus is almost entirely on the chips changing hands. In relation to other forms of nightlife, the casinos offer young people comparatively little opportunity to hook up with each other. We quickly became bored with losing our money. The initial anticipation of a win quickly fades as the odds against such an occurrence become apparent. After a couple of hours we were desperate for another activity. Gambling just isn’t much fun. When the drug addled but somehow still brilliant Hunter Thompson wrote “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” he wrote nothing about gambling. It just isn’t that interesting.
    Mescaline, acid, and tequila, on the other hand, are infinitely captivating. The casinos are all posted outside the proper town of Tunica. Even if there were other activities to do in the town, it was out of our range by the time we’d raised our blood alcohol content over the legal limit. Despite the drive, many local young people made their way out to the gambling establishments. Once gambling had lost its attraction, we wanted to enjoy a few drinks and conversation. But the tables in the bar were not accompanied by seats. The house did not want people sitting and talking to one another when they could be betting away their money. In the absence of a proper conversational environment, we sought entertainment. But the casinos in walking vicinity were not hosting any shows that night. They do occasionally offer acts such as Carrot Top and Meat Loaf. But there are no standing performances by acts of any caliber. Tunica is not Vegas, nor is it Atlantic City. Those destinations furnish some entertainment beyond the gaming tables. Tunica has no Penn, no Teller. There are no showgirl performances, no white tigers, no boxing matches. Honestly, what would it hurt to float a strip club just off the shore? Our only option once we tired of losing money was to retreat to our hotel room for beers and maybe one of those movies whose “title will not show up on our bill.” Pretty pathetic for a night on vacation.

    Previous Posts:

    Technorati:  casino,  gambling,  Mississippi,  Tunica " title="Some Fear, Some Loathing, but Certainly No Las Vegas" />

    Some Fear, Some Loathing, but Certainly No Las Vegas

    nashvillefeed.comOne night in Tunica casinos had emptied the pockets, and dipped into the bank accounts, of Sam Whitewood, Gin, and myself. Only The Church had come out ahead. She chose to walk away immediately following a $100 slot payout. The casinos make huge amounts of money for Mississippi. The state is now the third largest gambling market in the nation, taking the bronze behind Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The wealth generated by these businesses indicates they are taking in a great deal more money than they are paying out. One doesn’t have to possess even a rudimentary understanding of the most elementary statistics to see that most patrons do not profit in casinos. Quite the opposite is true. These businesses are bringing in enormous profits without providing any sort of product or service in return. They need only offer the implausible promise of a payout to collect millions from their hopeful customers. The house recouped The Church’s payout from Sam Whitewater alone. Add to that the losses of Gin and myself. With just the three of us the establishment took in well over double whatever they gave to The Church. Add in our larger circle of six additional acquaintances, none of whom profited, and the casino is over a thousand dollars clear of The Church’s winnings. It’s a pretty good business to be in. In fact, in Tunica County, it is almost the only business to be in. According to a 2002 US Census Bureau economic study, accommodation and food services accounted for 1.2 billion dollars worth of revenue in Tunica County that year. This bested the next largest money maker, retail trade, by over a billion dollars. Accommodation and food income accounted for specifically $1,268,071,000 in 2002, with casinos accounting for $1,259,842,000 of that total. Whatever businesses make up that $8,229,000 difference would seem to be missing out on the bigger payout. Their economic impact is measured in a mere seven digits rather than ten. In that same report, only one establishment in the entire county was identified as an arts, entertainment, or recreation provider. Its income was not published in the study to avoid disclosing the economic data of an individual company. It is listed as employing less than 19 people, however. One can safely assume that the money this company brings in is not anywhere near the range of that accumulated by the casinos. This lack of other entertainment options is quickly apparent. My own unscientific observations found that the Gold Strike casino is primarily populated with retired people on a weekday afternoon. There is very little movement on the floor. Many post themselves at a slot machine or gaming table and burn through social security checks and the inheritance of absent offspring. As the afternoon wears into evening, there is a noticeable shift in the customer base. Youth begins to show its pretty face. At first it is represented in scattered groups of three or more. Soon the blackjack tables are filled with young adults sipping on Bud Lights and throwing away student loans or meager paychecks. The youth dominance quickly chases many of the more senior gamers back to their rooms for an early night. There are holdouts. Dedicated individuals who don’t fit firmly into either group. They sit at slot and video poker machines for literal hours, nursing free drinks, smoking cigarettes, and repeatedly pushing the same button. No conversation is offered or accepted. Facial expressions are kept to an absolute minimum. The casino environment encourages sedateness. Drinks are delivered free, as long as one remains seated at a gaming table or machine. A band does poor renditions of classic and modern popular songs from a stage behind the bar. Even if one were inclined to dance to butchered Pat Benatar, there is no appropriate space to do so. Sunk into the bar are video poker machines. There is little to no conversation as people push a button and drink and push the same button again. Snippets of interaction take place at the tables. Gamblers speak with one another and the croupier in short sentences, but the focus is almost entirely on the chips changing hands. In relation to other forms of nightlife, the casinos offer young people comparatively little opportunity to hook up with each other. We quickly became bored with losing our money. The initial anticipation of a win quickly fades as the odds against such an occurrence become apparent. After a couple of hours we were desperate for another activity. Gambling just isn’t much fun. When the drug addled but somehow still brilliant Hunter Thompson wrote “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” he wrote nothing about gambling. It just isn’t that interesting.
    Mescaline, acid, and tequila, on the other hand, are infinitely captivating. The casinos are all posted outside the proper town of Tunica. Even if there were other activities to do in the town, it was out of our range by the time we’d raised our blood alcohol content over the legal limit. Despite the drive, many local young people made their way out to the gambling establishments. Once gambling had lost its attraction, we wanted to enjoy a few drinks and conversation. But the tables in the bar were not accompanied by seats. The house did not want people sitting and talking to one another when they could be betting away their money. In the absence of a proper conversational environment, we sought entertainment. But the casinos in walking vicinity were not hosting any shows that night. They do occasionally offer acts such as Carrot Top and Meat Loaf. But there are no standing performances by acts of any caliber. Tunica is not Vegas, nor is it Atlantic City. Those destinations furnish some entertainment beyond the gaming tables. Tunica has no Penn, no Teller. There are no showgirl performances, no white tigers, no boxing matches. Honestly, what would it hurt to float a strip club just off the shore? Our only option once we tired of losing money was to retreat to our hotel room for beers and maybe one of those movies whose “title will not show up on our bill.” Pretty pathetic for a night on vacation.

    Previous Posts:

    Technorati:  casino,  gambling,  Mississippi,  Tunica

    Continue Reading...