Saturday, December 29, 2007

Coming In 2008...

Another year is coming to an end. It's a time when one examines his or her life and resolves to make a change for the better. To turn over a new leaf. Last year, I resolved to not make any resolutions. I'm happy to say I spent the entire year with new resolutions.

This year will be different. I am making some resolutions. Nothing spectacular, just a few run of the mill resolutions.

The first one is one of the most popular. I'm going to exercise more. I won't say I want to lose weight, because for some reason, I've maintained my current weight for the last five years. No matter what I eat or how active I am, I seem to have plateaued. So my resolution is to exercise more. Get in some kind of better shape. I'm not talking Mr. Olympia here. I'd just like to walk from my car to the front door without getting winded.

My next resolution is to post something here every day. I know, that seems ridiculous. But it's not impossible. If I'm able to keep this one, then there will probably be more than a few days that have really short posts. But at least they'll be posted.

A friend tells me I should resolve to be more social. She has a valid point. I'm not very social. Mostly because I choose not to make the time to be social with people. Here I am working on my masters degree in a new town. And in the four months since I moved here, I've made one friend. Don't get me wrong, I have other friends that live in this area, but I have one new friend. That's it. I'm not one to strike up conversations with strangers, but maybe I should be.

So that's three. I think that's more than enough for 2008. Remember to tune in daily for new updates. In the mean time, have a safe and happy New Year's Eve.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Family Away From Family

Did anyone else have fun this week? 'Cause I sure did. See, a good friend, Jen, was in town from California to spend Christmas with her family. So I not only got to hang out with someone I see maybe once a year, but also felt like I was a part of a family here in good ol' Wake Forest.

Have you heard of or played the PS2 game SingStar? 'Cause it's awesome! I went over to the Greene-house after work last Saturday and was immediately engrossed in '80s karaoke competitions. I had to take a break while I went to Roanoke for Christmas, but then I came back and was introduced to the Pop and Rock versions of SingStar. Also awesome. Also, they got a PS3 for Christmas. So I was also introduced to Call of Duty 4.

Anyway, I want to thank the Hamiltons and Greenes for making me feel like part of the family while I'm here in school. Actually, there's no way I could really say thank you enough for all they've done since Dad passed away, and especially since I moved here. Okay, I'm gonna go catch up on some sleep kids. Good night everybody.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tales from the Qwik Pack & Ship - Chapter 6

Here's another example of my favorite kind of customer. This woman comes in here with nothing to send, only a complaint. She was apparently in here several weeks ago and sent a small package through the Postal Service. Also, she remembers me as the one who helped her. I have no memory of her or her package, but I think that's understandable. It's been several weeks and in the past two weeks we've had more customers than I've seen in the entire 3 and a half months prior combined. I digress...

Apparently, this package that was taken to the Post Office by us, after she paid us to ship it, never arrived at its destination. Luckily, New Owner came through in the clutch. He took over and talked to her while I helped another impatient customer.

Now, the Complaint Lady wasn't rude. She was polite and I think she ultimately understood that once the package leaves our hands, whether that be through UPS, FedEx or the Post Office, it's no longer our responsibility. Really, if someone has a problem with a shipment, especially if it's the fault of the Postal Service, then one should go directly to the Post Office and voice the complaint there. Again, we're just a middle man. Basically, people come to us for convenience sake. If it becomes inconvenient, then go to the source.

I'm not saying people should use our services. 'Cause then I'd be out of a job and New Owner and Wife would have made a poor investment. I guess what I am saying though, is that if it were me, I'd rather save a few bucks and stand in line at the post office or the UPS Store. But again, that's just me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tales from the Qwik Pack & Ship - Chapter 5

You know what bugs me? When customers come in here, do their business, then complain when they get to the cash register and find out we charge more than the post office does. They complain when we charge more than the quote they got from UPS.com.

Guess what... We're not the United States Postal Service. We're not UPS or FedEx or DHL. We're a privately owned business that acts as the middle man so you don't have to inconvenience yourself by standing in line for 3 hours at the real post office. In reality, the owners of this store could charge whatever the heck they want.

Now, I'm not saying I see any of this money. I mean, I'm getting $7.00 an hour for this career move. But seriously, if you don't like the mark-up, go to the UPS Store or the actual post office. Personally, I get the fact that we charge 4 cents more per stamp. Why? 'Cause we're the ones that have to deliver your bills and letters and Christmas cards to the real post office. And have you seen the price of gas lately? Not cheap to drive across town.

I'm pretty sure that no one reading this has ever been a customer in this store. But remember, when your shopping this holiday season and feel like complaining about the cost, don't take it out on the lowly sales clerk. They have no control over the price. They just charge whatever price the computer spits out at them.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Just a Little Something I Did

Here's one I've never seen before
I give you money and send you into the grocery store to pick up 5 items. You can only pick one thing from the following departments.. what is it?
1. Produce: Bananas
2. Bakery: Hoagie rolls
3. Meat: Deli Turkey
4. Frozen: Cool Whip
5. Dry goods: Fritos (are those dry goods?)

Let's say we're heading out for a weekend getaway. You're only allowed to bring 3 articles of clothing with you. So, what's in your bag?
1. A shirt
2. Boxers
3. Jeans

If I were to listen in on one of your conversations throughout the day, what 5 phrases or words would I be most likely to hear?
1. Awesome!
2. Seriously...
3. Are you kidding me?
4. That's what she said...
5. I don't care

So, what 3 things do you find yourself doing every single day, and if you didn't get to do, you probably wouldn't be in the best mood?
1. Caffeination
2. Food
3. Some fiction

Sweet, you just scored a whole afternoon to yourself. We're talking a 3 hour block with nobody around. What 5 activities might we find you doing?
1. A movie
2. A book
3. PlayStation
4. Wii
5. Nap

We're going to the zoo. But, it looks like it could start storming, so it'll have to be a quick visit. What 3 exhibits do we have to get to?
1. Lions
2. Monkeys of some kind
3. Otters

You just scored tickets to the taping of any show that comes on TV of your choice. You can pick between 4, so what are you deciding between?
1. How I Met Your Mother
2. Lost
3. Heroes
4. Chuck

You're hungry for ice cream. I'll give you a triple dipper ice cream cone. What 3 flavors can I pile on for you?
1. Vanilla
2. Vanilla
3. ...Vanilla... not exciting, I know...

Somebody stole your purse/wallet --in order to get it back, you have to name 5 things you know are inside to claim it. So, what's in there?
1. Driver's License (which should really be sufficient, and yet...)
2. Bank of America card
3. Social Security Card
4. Kroger Plus card
5. Student ID

You are at a job fair, and asked what areas you are interested in pursuing a career in. Let's pretend you have every talent and ability to be whatever you wanted, so what 4 careers would be fun for you?
1. Photojournalist
2. Singer/Songwriter
3. Novelist
4. Teacher

If you could go back and talk to the old you, when you were in high school, and inform yourself of 4 things, what would you say?
1. Study a little more. That extra .01 on your GPA will get you a scholarship slacker!
2. Don't get discouraged by the amount of work in the Elementary Ed major, stick with it.
3. Boston's gonna win the World Series in 2004. I know it sounds unbelievable, just trust me. Put a lot of money on Boston at the beginning of the season. It'll pay off.
4. It doesn't matter who she is, don't bother. She's not interested.

And for anyone that needs something to do, I challenge you. So there.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Karate Kid

When I was at the mall last week picking up my tux, I ran into a karate instructor. He wasn’t trying to sign me up for classes, ‘cause he could tell I was a fatty and wouldn’t be into that kind of thing. Instead he asked me to take a short survey. I figured, why not?

Question 1: If you were to take a martial arts class, what would be your motivation: self-defense or fitness?

Really? Those are my only options? What if I just wanna beat people up?

Question 2: Would you recommend martial arts classes as a way to keep in shape for adults?

Honestly, no, but I said yes anyway. The tux was starting to get heavy.

Question 3: Do you know anyone in the area that may be interested in taking a martial arts class?

I don’t know… Do you offer the crane technique? According to Mr. Miyagi, if done correctly, no can defense. If so, sign me up.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tales From the Qwik Pack & Ship, Chapter 4

The new owners didn’t think there would be a lot of business on a Saturday. What they didn’t think of, was that this is the Saturday before the Saturday before Christmas. Let me just tell ya, we were slammed. Correction: I was slammed.

Things were slow at first. 10am rolled around, I opened shop, and had no business. Fifteen minutes passed, and I had two customers, one dropping off a pre-paid package, one buying stamps. Another fifteen minutes passed. Then all of Wake Forest decided to ship their Christmas gifts at once.

Sidebar: Let’s talk about the sweet Little Old Lady from Youngsville that came in early in the day. She slowly makes her way through the door, using a walker, and places her package on the counter. I’m polite, as I am with all customers (even throughout the day when I’m the only one there and 10 impatient people are lined out the door), and she proceeds to tell me how to do my job. For some reason, she thinks I’m doing it wrong. I weighed her parcel wrong. I measured it wrong. I even priced it wrong. Except I didn’t really do those things wrong. I did them right. And then she stole my pen. Not the store’s pen, mine! I thought about saying something, but seriously, how many of you would reprimand an old lady with a walker?

Toward the end of the day my new boss comes in and begins to help with the plethora of customers. Meanwhile, his brother takes some things to the post office which desperately need to be sent out today. So we’re working, finally getting some kind of groove going, whittling down the customers one by one. Then his cell rings. The boss’ brother is lost somewhere in Lewisburg. So what happens then? You guessed it: the boss is on the phone for about half an hour talking his brother back to Wake.

At one point, when I was still alone, several of the customers struck up a conversation with each other. They remarked about how calm I was under such a stressful situation. After I dropped a packing slip, one of them said, “I bet if he drops another one he’ll just snap. He’s gonna go postal!”

No, I didn’t go postal. But I can easily see how people could. I’m one of those people that doesn’t show if I’m getting stressed out unless I can help it. Instead I bottle things up and release when I’m in private. So when I was boxing things up for people in the back, where no one saw me, that’s when I would mutter some trash talk under my breath. Especially if, while in the back, I heard the door open, signaling the arrival of yet another customer.

Well, the Saturday before the Saturday before Christmas is over. For a time I thought the new boss would ask me to keep the store open ‘til 4:00. I don’t think I could’ve said no emphatically enough.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Some Thoughts

These blog posts seem fewer and farther between, huh? Here's why I haven't written lately: FINALS. That should sum it up. My first semester in seminary is done. Overall I think I did okay. Walked away from Hebrew with an A, can't complain about that. Not sure about the others, but I know I passed. So at least I didn't crash and burn, always a plus. On top of that, I've been getting a lot of extra hours at work this week because of the holiday rush. All these people want their packages to get somewhere by Christmas. Next week should be crazy in the world of Qwik Pack & Ship. I should have a few tales to tell, stay tuned.

I went to a wedding last week. Well, I didn't go to a wedding. I was in a wedding last week. One of my best friends, Brandon Caldwell, took his vows. I was one of his two best men. Exciting times. Mark (my co-best man) and I had to give the traditional toast at the reception. I think it was pretty funny. We got some laughs. I caught the garter. Again. I'm 2 for 2 now. That's gotta be some kind of omen.

I'm reading an interesting book right now. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a pretty big geek. I'm sure I've blogged about it several times. That's what geeks do, we blog about the geeky things we're interested in. Anyway, I'm reading The Last Days of Krypton. It's a novel about the last days of Krypton. I mean, if the title doesn't give that away, there's not much hope for you. Those not embracing their inner-geek may not be aware that Krypton is Superman's doomed homeworld. It's a really good book, but something struck me today as I was reading. Jor-El (Superman's father) picks up a signal from a character who comes to be known as the Martian Manhunter in the comics. In his message he talks about being the sole survivor of the planet Mars. Why would he refer to his homeworld as Mars? Mars is the name that we humans gave to the red planet years and years ago. Named after the Greek god of war. I know it's a moot point, being fiction and all, but still, I think about these things.

More to come...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tin Man


I'm a big fan of The Wizard of Oz. So several months ago, when I heard the Sci Fi Channel was making an updated version of the classic tale, I was intrigued. Finally, Sunday night, the mini-series Tin Man began. It lasted three nights and I thought it was pretty good. Not great, but good.

It was an interesting take on the old L. Frank Baum children's story. D.G. is the main character (get it? Dorothy Gale?) and finds herself swept away by a travel storm to the Outer Zone (get it? O.Z.?). She does meet the Munchkins, but this ain't the Lollypop Guild. She meets a man who's missing a brain, but this ain't a scarecrow. She meets someone known as a "Tin Man" but here it means he's a cop, not a lumberjack. And the Cowardly Lion... not so much a lion as a mutant, hairy, psychic guy. Not your father's Wizard.

I need to pose a question to you, my three faithful readers. Some time ago I had an idea for a continuation of the Oz story. A story where Dorothy was grown up and deemed slightly insane because of her wild stories of Oz in her childhood. She's almost convinced that Oz wasn't real, but then she's violently pulled back. Lots of crazy things happen, as it's a darker world now which reflects Dorothy's insanity. So my question is this: Should I even bother writing this?

It almost seems that the landscape is being saturated with new takes on Oz, first with Wicked, now with Tin Man. Would one more book even make a difference? Or would it just blend into the woodwork? I mean, it's something I've been working on when I've had some spare time, so I'm not sure that it would even get published. Anyway, I await your thoughts. Feel free to comment below.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?


Today was a long day. I spent most of it in the car driving to and from Bluefield. By the end of the road trip, I was hungry, I had a headache, and I really had to get to a bathroom.

Then I got home and found out some pretty bad news. Jennifer Love Hewitt got engaged. It's one of those things that I knew was bound to happen eventually, but I always hoped it'd be me that popped the question. Okay, not really, but now I can't even have that false hope anymore.

It's not the first time a girl has broken my heart. This is worse than when I found out Sarah Michelle Gellar married Freddie Prinze, Jr. Well, I guess I still have Carrie Underwood. I'll get over it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Comes Early For Charlie Brown

Tonight ABC showed "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Of course, I watched. It's a classic. It's one of those things that I watch every year at this time of the year. Others include Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, and It's A Wonderful Life. But tonight we'll focus on the Peanuts gang.

You've seen this cartoon, right? I love it. It's always nice to have Linus remind us of the true meaning of Christmas. It's also nice to continually wonder how that Pigpen kid kicks up a cloud of dust while ice skating. What's that about? Take a bath, kid!

Something else I really like is how the whole gang knows to take a collective breath while "loo looing" Hark the Herald Angels Sing. They don't even have a music conductor to direct them.

And how in the world do you decorate a tiny little twig of a tree by simply waving your arms in front of it? I wish I could do things just by waving my arms frantically. Let's say I don't feel like taking a shower. I'd just look in the mirror, flail about wildly, and poof! Ready for class.

Sorry I haven't written for awhile. I really don't have an excuse. Unless, maybe I've been trying to identify with the Writer's Guild, who is on strike right now. But I'm not in the Writer's Guild. I'm not that good of a writer. Maybe I've just been in a funk because of the strike, and knowing that my favorite TV shows will be ending early this season. It's sad.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Next Contestant

This morning between classes I was sitting in my living room watching The Price Is Right. I had to laugh when they called down one of the first contestants. The name was pronounced "Kay Anne Pepper." Does anyone else think that's remarkably close to Cayenne Pepper? As a parent, how could you do that to your kid?

What am I talking about? I'm just jealous that I didn't come up with that funny name first.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Am Me Stoopid?

I'm in seminary. I'm taking classes on the graduate level. I always considered myself a somewhat intelligent individual. No genius, by any stretch of the imagination, but smart enough to do will in all previous incarnations of school. That is, when I apply myself. See, I figured out during high school that I could get by on Bs and Cs without studying, so why study? Well, now I'm studying. Applying myself, and some of this stuff I just don't get.

For example: I'm reading a very old work by Anselm of Canterbury and it's going right over my head. Maybe not right over my head. It's way over my head. This is for my class in Church History, the subject that was my concentration for my BA at Bluefield. Yet as I read the things that this guy wrote, I'm completely at a loss. Here's a short passage from Anselm's Proslogion:

Therefore, if that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, exists in the understanding alone, the very being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, is one, than which nothing greater can be conceived. But obviously this is impossible. Hence, there is no doubt that there exists a being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, and it exists both in understanding and in reality.

Okay, is it just me or is that really confusing? That's just one paragraph of one chapter of this work that I need to summarize, figure out the main point, and agree or disagree. Seriously, if anyone gets what this guy is talking about, help a brother out.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Spoiler Alert

Tonight I thought I would write a little something about How I Met Your Mother. This episode was pretty good, revolving around the revelation of flaws in each of the main characters and how that effects the way they look at each other.

For example, Lily points out to Robin that it's annoying how Ted always corrects people. She never noticed it during the time they were dating, but as she looked back, she realized Lily was right. Other spoiler alerts included Lily eating really loudly (even cotton candy), Marshall singing about whatever task he's performing, Robin saying the word "literally" all the time, and Barney using annoying catchphrases constantly. What was clever, was the sound of glass shattering every time the spoiler was revealed. What started this domino effect of spoilers? Ted was dating a girl who never shut up, but he just didn't see it... 'til Marshall pointed it out.

Has that ever happened to you? You're friends with someone, or dating someone, and you don't see any flaws. Then, all of a sudden, someone else points it out, and then that's all you notice. It's usually a deal breaker.

At the end, Ted mentioned that he ran into the girl again three years later. Here's the real spoiler alert from the episode. At least in my opinion. Would you assume that the main character of a show titled How I Met Your Mother would be married to that mother in three years (which will be year 5 of the show)? I would too. However, there was still no wedding ring. Hmmmm... Was that a mistake? Or is it deliberate? Now I have to wait 3 years to find out. Crap.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sharing Germs

To the man that sat behind me in chapel this morning: cover your mouth from here on out. There are few things more uncomfortable than feeling someone's bronchitis-like cough on the back of your neck.

Let's paint the picture. I was sitting there as today's guest speaker read a few verses of scripture. I was reading along, my head looking down at the Bible in my lap. Suddenly I hear a deep hacking cough directly behind me. Not only did I hear it, I felt it. And the feeling on the back of my neck then traveled in the form of a chill down my spine.

Seriously dude, cough into your sleeve, or at the very least, your hand. That's how the flu is spread. That's why there's likely to be a pandemic someday. 'Cause people don't cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. They don't wash their hands after touching stuff. That's my advice America. Wash your hands.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Delinquency of a Minor

Last night there was nothing on TV, so I went through some DVDs and decided to watch The Little Mermaid. You've seen it, right? Here's the jist...

Ariel, youngest daughter of Triton, the Sea King, falls in love with a human prince named Eric. So she does what any lovesick mermaid would do. She goes to a sea witch (Ursula) and trades her voice for a pair of legs. The deal is, she has to get Eric to fall in love with her before the sun sets on the third day, or else she reverts to mermaid status and becomes some kind of anthropomorphic seaweed slave of Ursula.

Of course she doesn't make it in time, 'cause where would you find the climactic conflict at the end? But eventually, they all live happily ever after. But I have a problem with this whole thing.

Ariel is 16 years old. She's a minor. What's she doing signing contracts with a sea witch? At the end, Triton tries to destroy the contract, but Ursula claims that it is legal and binding. That's a load of crap. Once again, she's 16! Any contract she signs before she's of legal age is null and void. Come on Disney! Step it up!

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Time To Mourn

This week I lost a grandmother. I learned of her passing from my cousin last Thursday night. I was getting ready to leave for Richmond for Andy's wedding. Now I would have to add on a trip to Nashville, for something much less joyous.

I wasn't quite sure how this would work. Mom wanted me to drive to Roanoke after the wedding on Saturday. But I just knew that I wouldn't be done until late in the evening. And I was right. Mom was wanting to get on the road to Nashville and drive during the night.

Didn't happen. I got to Roanoke around 11:30. That's PM if you're not keeping up. So we hit the road early Sunday morning and drove straight to the funeral home. I have a lot of fond memories of Nashville. It's where the majority of my family lives. And even though we were all gathered under sad circumstances, I like to think that more fond memories were made.

Here's one from way back: When we were kids, and my great-grandmother passed away, we came to the very same funeral home. Again, sad circumstances, but there's a story that us kids are able to laugh at to this day. Well, I laugh. April kind of twitches and gets a frightened look on her face. See, while the grown-ups were gathered upstairs, meeting and greeting fellow mourners, the cousins were downstairs in a snack area. Across the hall from this snack area was the coffin display showcase. Beyond that was a door labeled: EMPLOYEES ONLY. We heard a noise, so April, the trusting sibling that she was, asked me, her trustworthy older brother, what that room was for. "That's where they cut off the people's legs. That's why they only open the top half of the coffin." Scarred for life. Good times.

You never thought you'd have that much fun at a funeral, right? But what are the first three letters in FUNeral? I joke. I titled this entry "A Time To Mourn" because really that's what we did. Grandma will be missed. She had a great sense of humor that was passed on to just about the entire Peck family. What made it especially hard for me was that this comes just over a year after losing Dad. During her funeral, a recording of him singing How Great Thou Art was played. After that, I was done. October will really have some bad associations for me in the future. But I'm okay with that. Because I still know that Dad is in a better place. And now I know that Grandma is there with him. Probably giving him a hard time. You know, they're probably both dishing it out equally. They were always like that.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Time to Dance

Have you ever had trouble putting an experience into words? I am having that difficulty right now. It's not that I'm having a hard time understanding that I had fun this weekend. Or that I was a groomsman in one of my best friend's weddings. It's easy to convey that message. But just saying that I had a good time being a groomsman in my friend's wedding seems kind of boring.

Friday I made the drive to Richmond and checked into a hotel. I met Andy and his dad at After Hours to pick up my suit. They made me try it on, just to make sure everything fit the way it was supposed to. And yeah, I looked good. You should've seen it.

Friday evening was the rehearsal and dinner. I have to say, the rehearsal itself was a little dull. And we went through it three times. I get it though. You want things to go right on the actual wedding day, and if practice makes perfect, we got pretty dang close.

The dinner was at a little joint in Short Pump called Maggiano's. Faaaantastic. Pork tenderloin, four-cheese ravioli, chicken marsala, and spaghetti. And you didn't choose. No, you got all four entrees. Think The Home Place with an Italian motif. And of course the entire thing was set to the sounds of old friends telling and retelling stories about the college years. It's always great to see all of these people.

Then came the day we had been preparing for. Andy and Chrissy's wedding day. Ten months ago, it seemed so far away. Suddenly, here we all were. Getting dressed up in rented suits and posing for pictures at the front of the church. The ceremony itself went very well, just like we practiced (over and over). The reception was where the real party began.

After we were introduced, Andy and Chrissy shared their first dance as husband and wife. After the first dance, we all ate. After we ate, there was more dancing. Andy's brother, Joey, gave the best best man toast I've heard in quite some time. The cake was cut and gently shoved into each other's mouths. Then came a time that the singles either love or hate.

Usually, when you come to the bouquet throwing ritual, the single ladies jump all over each other to grab the flowers. But what about the guys with the garter? I've attended plenty of weddings, and I'm always reluctant to even take part in this. But once again, I found myself on the dance floor with about 15 other eligible bachelors waiting for that grenade of elastic and lace to be hurled toward us. I didn't even want to put my hands out there. But I was in the front. And I'm pretty sure that Andy was aiming for me. Reflex response. I caught the garter.

What's that supposed to mean anyway? Seriously, if you know the tradition, let me know. Am I just supposed to hang it on my rear view mirror? 'Cause that job's been done already. Maybe I should've told the bouquet catcher that I'd like a spring wedding. No? Too much? Right.

Unfortunately, not long after that I had to leave. I wasn't able to see the happy couple off or pelt them with rice or bird seed or whatever it is they use these days. There was a rumor about sparklers being used. I'll have to ask about that at a later time.

So to Andy and Chrissy, if you're reading this from Cancun, or from Charlotte when you get back home, I wish you all the best throughout your lives together. I love you guys.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Eatin' Bad

I have a progressive list of restaurants that I will never again give business to. The Wendy's at Crossroads in Roanoke is one. I learned after several visits that they did not deserve my money. The last time I went there (roughly 3 years ago) I ordered a Cheeseburger (only mayo and ketchup) and received instead a side salad, and nothing else. I can almost understand accidentally throwing lettuce and tomato onto a burger that was ordered without said items, but to neglect the burger altogether and give me a salad? That's missing the entire point of my order. They made the list.

The latest casualty in this franchise war is the Applebee's in Bluefield. During my fall break I decided to spend some time in the old college town and hang out with some friends. Monday evening several of us got together at the now infamous Applebee's for dinner. We ordered our food at just after 6pm. Half an hour passed and the only glimpse we caught of our waitress was when she was bringing something to another table, and even that was rare. She didn't check on our glasses to see if we needed more water. She didn't let us know that the food was coming or that things were slow going in the kitchen that night. Nearly an hour after we ordered, the food finally came out... in waves. I was the last to receive my food. And it was all cold. So I sent it back. This time, the waitress came back to let me know that the manager was cooking my food all over again, starting from new food. Great, this meant that by the time I got my food, everyone I was dining with would be finished.

After I got my dinner for the second time, the manager came out to have a word with me. Long story short, I got my dinner for free. Now, this is the first time I've experienced such poor service at this particular Applebee's. However, I don't often eat there, since I don't live in Bluefield anymore. The others said that it's always like that. Slow, poor service, etc. So congratulations Bluefield Applebee's. You are now on my list.

Please note that this does not exclude all Wendy's, Applebee's, or other blacklisted restaurants. I don't judge an entire chain based on one location's incompetence. But maybe Wendy and Mr. Applebee should know they're on thin ice.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

One Year Later

Do you remember where you were at this very moment one year ago? I do.

I was sitting in my basement bedroom wasting time on my computer and watching some TV. Nothing special about that night. Nothing special about that day either.

I got home from work at the usual 3:30pm and went down to my room to relax for awhile. At the time I was working as a counselor at Northside Middle School. Anyone who works in a school setting knows that it can be a draining job. That day was no exception. But overall, it was unexceptional.

Dad made dinner for me, as he usually did. I was spoiled living with him. Sure, I cooked for myself occasionally, but those occasions were few and far between. He knew his way around a kitchen, so if that's what part of my rent was going for, then I was gonna let it keep on happening.

He made dinner a little early that day. See, he had been working at North Roanoke Baptist Church (volunteering) during their Judgment House program. He was running sound in the sanctuary, which had been transformed to look like Heaven. Since he had to go to the dress rehearsal that evening, dinner was early.

Around 7:00, he called me from the church to remind me to give my mother a call. She had her gall bladder removed two days earlier. It wasn't that I had forgotten about that, I had just neglected to call and see how she was feeling. If I had known that it would be the last time we spoke, I would've thought of something more to say than, "Yeah, I'll call her. See you when you get home." But I didn't. It was just a regular conversation. There was nothing wrong, he was just calling out of courtesy, making sure that I would make a call out of courtesy.

Around 10:00, I was starting to get tired, but I didn't want to go to bed until Dad got home. And I started realizing that he should've been back by now. Then, at 10:45, just as I was about to call him, my phone rang. I was suddenly very relieved to see "Dad" on the caller ID. But it wasn't Dad. It was Darryl, the pastor. He called to let me know that Dad had an episode and passed out. He called to let me know that I should meet them at the hospital. And I knew.

I don't know how I knew, I just had an awful feeling that this time, things weren't going to be okay. He passed out several times in the three years that I lived with him. Each time we got him to the hospital he was fine as soon as we got there. But in the back of my mind, I wondered which trip to the hospital would be his last. It was always a thought... but never one that came to the forefront until that night, one year ago.

Jake, Dad's friend and music minister, met me at the house and followed me to the emergency room. We beat the ambulance there. But even when they got there, they wouldn't let me see him. They were too busy trying to revive him. But I didn't know that. Darryl, Jake, and I went to the chapel near the ER. They sat with me. They knew what I only assumed. Before the doctor came to deliver the news, Darryl prepared me for the worst. And even though I thought I was ready to hear it, you're never really ready to hear the worst news you've ever received.

He had been in good spirits that Friday afternoon. He had gone to church to serve in a way that he was able. He was his normal self on the phone with me that evening. And then, just after 10pm, God called him home. EMS worked with him for 45 minutes, but he was already gone. A friend who was with him believes he was gone before his body hit the floor. I pray that's how it was for him. That he didn't suffer.

I believe that he was here for the time that God needed him here. I believe that he is in a much better place now. A place where he isn't in any pain, he isn't teathered to the house by an oxygen machine, and he doesn't have to worry about his blood pressure dropping suddenly.

I miss him. Every day. Every minute. Toward the end, he wasn't just my dad, he was my best friend. He was the one person I went to with everything. That's what I miss the most. I miss being able to talk to him about how my day was. I miss asking for his advice when things are bothering me. I miss bouncing ideas off of him and getting his opinion. I miss his sense of humor. I miss the stories that he would tell over and over again like it was the first time he told them. I miss watching SportsCenter with him. I miss watching Star Trek with him. I miss making fun of him for watching Judge Judy. I miss kicking his butt at Jeopardy. Okay, really I miss him kicking my butt at Jeopardy.

It's hard to believe that a year has come and gone since the last time I saw him. It's been a long and difficult year. But I thank God that I can take comfort in the fact that it won't be the last time I saw him. I'll see him again. The in between times may feel bad, but it won't be all bad. Until that time, I only pray that I can become a man that he will be proud of.

I love you Dad.
6/16/53-10/6/06

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

What I'm Tivoing This Season

Can the word Tivo be turned into a verb? I like to think so. Can it be used as such even though I don't have the Tivo brand? I like "Tivoing" better than "DVRing." Tivoing it is.

The new television season is upon us and the networks hit the ground running. Here's a run down of the things I'll be watching regularly this season. Maybe not always as they're airing, but at some point I'll catch up. You know, when I have free time... ha-yeah right.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition - You can't go wrong with a show that tears down a house and puts a bigger, better, state-of-the-art house in its place in an hour (or two during sweeps). Plus those stories are a sure way to tug at the ol' heartstrings. You just keep moving that bus Ty.

The Simpsons - Sure the show is 20 years old (is that right, 20?). But it's still funny. No, I didn't see the movie this summer. I'm generally broke, so I'll wait for the DVD, which I'm sure will be hilarious. As far as I can tell, the show is still going strong. The fact that it has been on the air for 20 years says a lot about its writers. They're still able to make me laugh.

Desperate Housewives - This is a show that I haven't regularly watched until this season. Growing up I always had a crush on Teri Hatcher, so I have my reasons for watching. I recently caught up with the series on DVD through Netflix. It's funny and a little disturbing.

Family Guy - When the show first started, people complained that it was a pale knock-off of The Simpsons. These days, it seems that Family Guy has found it's own niche in pop culture. The opening episode of this season was a Star Wars spoof that had approval from George Lucas. While the show itself often crosses some strange lines, laughter abounds.

Chuck - This show is new this season, so I've only seen two episodes. Thus far, I think it's pretty good. Sure it has a totally unbelievable premise (a geek opens an e-mail and all of the government's secrets are imprinted in his brain), but it's good to see the nerd get the girl. I know that happens more and more on TV and in movies these days. But no matter how often I see it, it makes me feel like I've got a shot.

How I Met Your Mother - Funniest. Show. On TV. When the show first started I called it the new Friends. I stand by that. The chemistry between the five main players is great and it's one of very few sitcoms on TV these days that can actually make me laugh.

The Big Bang Theory - Okay, this one is new too. It seems to be a cute show, but really not great. I'll probably keep watching it, but that's mostly because between How I Met Your Mother and Heroes, I have nothing else. Plus, the possibility of the geek getting the girl again, nice.

Heroes - If you saw this show at all last season, then my reasoning needs no explanation.

Journeyman - When I first heard about this show, people described it as being a little like Quantum Leap. Growing up, Quantum Leap was one of my favorite shows. So far, this one is pretty good. Each episode is generally self-contained, but there's enough of an underlying mysterious subplot to keep me coming back each week.

Bones - Most people have the CSIs for their crime dramas. I like Bones. That's enough for me. And there's enough of that Moonlighting tension between the main characters to make you hope they'll get together at some point, but at the same time hoping they won't. 'Cause you know if they do, it'll screw up the chemistry and ruin the show. But for now, going strong.

House - This guy is slightly more sarcastic and cynical than me. While the medical drama part is interesting, Gregory House's banter just makes me laugh.

Deal or No Deal - 26 gorgeous women opening briefcases for an hour? Please.

Pushing Daisies - Okay, this show hasn't actually started yet, but it looks intriguing enough to give it a shot.

Bionic Woman - After seeing one episode, I'm interested to see where they're going to take their new spin on an old idea. I'm disappointed that they're not using the old sound effects for when she runs and jumps.

Private Practice - I like Grey's Anatomy. I like Addison Shepherd. Can she carry her own show? Time will tell. Thus far, I'm not that impressed, but I'll give it a shot.

Life - This guy (a police officer) was falsely convicted of some crime that I'm still not clear on. Pretty sure it was murder of some kind. See, he was sentenced to life in prison. Then he was exhonorated (I know I didn't spell that right, I'm just glad I could think of the right word). Now he's a free man, back on the force as a detective. Each week he and his partner will work on a case, and hopefully he'll get closer to solving his own.

Smallville - Ah, the adventures of Superman when he was a boy. They've gone in directions that I never would've gone in if I were in charge, but no one asked me. But the show is still entertaining. Plus they've introduced Supergirl this season. Good stuff.

Grey's Anatomy - Will the night time soap operas never end? They're so addictive.

The Office - Another show that I haven't been into in the past, but I've been watching the reruns and DVDs. Hilarious. I just have to keep watching.

Ghost Whisperer - Three words: Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Moonlight - I'm giving this a chance. For a few episodes anyway. The first episode didn't do a lot for me. See, I've been spoiled by how great Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel were. And I got used to Joss Whedon's vampire mythology. You know, vampires turn to dust when they die by wooden stake, sunlight, the usual. This show tells us that sunlight makes them sick, but doesn't kill them. And wooden stakes do nothing. And he sleeps in a freezer. I don't get it. I know, this is all prejudice speaking. Like I said, I'll give it a shot. But my patience is thin.

Okay, that really is a lot of TV. I really do read a lot too. I have to, I'm a seminary student. Like I said, most of the time I'll be watching these shows after they've aired. It's nice to fast forward through the commercials.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tales from the Qwik Pack & Ship - Chapter 3

Okay, I understand that part of working retail involves last minute customers coming in and taking up time that could be spent at home, since the store officially closed five minutes earlier.

Today, as I was closing up the register (at 5:59pm), a man came in with a huge 70 pound package. And then he got confused about what forms to fill out. And then he changed his mind after he started filling out what he later decided was the wrong thing. And while he's doing that (at 6:05pm) another person comes in wanting to make some photocopies. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

Did no one notice that the door has a posted closing time of 6:00? Guess not. I got everything taken care of, eventually. And I had to close out the credit card machine all over again. I left the store angry. I got over it eventually. And I'm sure it'll happen again.

Tales from the Qwik Pack & Ship - Chapter 2

I like kids. I really do. I say that, of course, to preface a blog to complain about kids.

Parents, when you come into a packing/shipping store where you have to concentrate on filling out paperwork for several packages, don't bring your small children. Because at that point, while you're writing account numbers and addresses on forms, your children are roaming around unsupervised. While you're not paying attention, I am. I'm seeing them pull greeting cards out of the rack to look at the pictures. I'm seeing them go to the computer and mess with whatever happens to be open on the screen, whether that be the internet or a shipping program that kinda shouldn't be messed with. I'm seeing them walk over to the paper cutter (which has a child safety latch) and trying to play with that too. Now, they're not my kids, they're yours. I don't feel comfortable telling someone else's kid to stop doing something when the parent is standing right there and should have the presence of mind to say it themselves.

And on top of that, other customers may come in while your kids are running rampant through the store, thereby dividing my attention between you, the new customer, and your kids. I'm getting paid to divide my attention between the customers. I'm not getting paid to babysit your children while you get your business done.

Again, I do like children. But incidents like these just remind me how very not ready I am to have kids of my very own. Yet.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Bachelor Party - II

We finally made our way out of The Attic at 2:20am. At this point we were pretty high on great song nostalgia, thanks to Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. We weaved our way through the city, trying desperately to get back to the cars. Oh, and I didn't mention this, it cost $9.00 per car to park in the lot we were at. That's crazy.

We passed by a Starbucks and made the observation that a place like that should be open all night. Why? Because of the obscene amount of people coming out of these bars after last call. Think about it, these people are, for the most part, drunk-faced out of their minds. Wouldn't it be a good idea to stop somewhere and get a double shot of espresso to try and sober up a little? Not that I'm saying that these people should then drive, but you know there are some that do anyway. Even without the espresso.

And now for the long drive back to Andy's apartment. Well, not really long, but there is a story there. We were divided into two cars. In front was the Suburban (as mentioned previously), Brandon and I rode with Mark in his Taurus. We were cruising along the 485 doing a respectable 70 mph, and passing a truck on the right. I know that's not necessarily a smart idea, but he was in the left lane and we were going faster. Suddenly we see the truck's brake lights come on. I'm thinking, why is this guy slowing down so quickly? Then he locked it up. Tires squeal and smoke. The smell of burnt rubber invades our senses (well, one of them anyway) immediately. We notice the Suburban boys swerve to the shoulder ever so slightly. Then we see it...

Two headlights coming in our direction. On our side of the interstate. That's right ladies and gentlemen, this was easily a near death experience. This Mustang was driving west in the eastbound lane. Making a beeline for the 18-wheeler that was right next to us. Mark slams his brakes and pulls off the road. I mean, we hit dirt before it was all said and done. Meanwhile, the truck is pulling into the median. And it's a good thing too. The Mustang didn't even move. Didn't even slow down. Just kept on going.

What's going through that guy's mind? "I'm bettin' he's gonna swerve first!" "HA! I won!" Or maybe nothing was going through his head. Maybe he had killed a great number of brain cells by smoking crack that evening. That's the only way I can figure that someone would be that stupid behind the wheel of a car. He had to have been on that side of the interstate for at least a mile, because we were that far from the nearest ramp.

And let me take a moment to give a shout-out to the unnamed trucker. I know that most of the time I allow my own road rage to show and I take it out on truck drivers. Not to their faces, but you know, within the confines of my car with the radio blaring and windows up. But this guy, while he may have crapped his pants (as I surely would have done) maintained complete control over his enormous vehicle. When his wheels locked up, I was waiting for the trailer to jackknife and slam into us. As far as I know, there were no casualties that night.

I say "as far as I know" because I don't know what happened to Mustang Sally. He or she just kept going, with no hint that they were going to correct their situation. Like I said, they just kept on going straight. If that truck had not moved out of the way, you'd have been able to fit that Mustang into a coffee can.

We should get t-shirts made up that say we survived Andy's bachelor party.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Bachelor Party - I

Andy's getting married in three weeks. It's an exciting time for him and Chrissy. This weekend they had their bachelor/bachelorette parties. It was good times. The following events take place between 6pm and 4am. Events occurred in real time. Parental guidance is suggested.

I arrived in Charlotte just before 6 in the evening on Saturday. By then, everyone was there but Mark. Around 6:30, Mark calls asking for directions from the exit. Well, he went to far and I was the one to try and talk him back to Andy's apartment. I really had no right to do this, because I know very little about that area. But I knew enough to tell him he drove too far and he needed to turn around. I asked him to describe his surroundings, and then, dumbfounded, he described a very "well-endowed" woman walking three dogs. Actually, the words I believe he used were, "Good gosh, that woman has some big boobs!" At this point, I yell across the room at Andy that Mark just spotted the Big Boob Dog Walker.

Let me back up... A month ago I visited Andy and Chrissy. They told tales of a woman who walked her dogs in the evening. The description was intriguing. A woman with rather large breasts, wearing an inappropriate amount of clothing to cover them. As much as they talked her up, we never caught a glimpse at the time.

Back to live action... Andy gathers everyone together and we pile into a Suburban so we can go on a little excursion. See, he wants us to believe that this mythic creature, "BBDW," really exists. She sure did exist. Andy's brother told her that he loved her. He got a smile out of her. This was the start of an evening that was pretty much legendary.

The actual evening began at the Hickory Tavern, a place which I feel puts Buffalo Wild Wings to shame. Dinner was great. The waitress flirted quite a bit. It's all about the tips, man.

After that we headed uptown. Charlotte on a Saturday night was pretty nuts. Our next stop was a place called The Breakfast Club, an 80's themed club. We weren't staying. The only reason we stopped was because we saw Chrissy and the Bridal Party stopping there. We shared a quick hello and good-bye.

Next we searched for a bar known as The Graduate. What's up with the bars named after movies? Anywho... The Graduate was pretty dead, so we asked about another bar known as Cans. Now, let me take a minute for an editorial remark. I don't go to bars. Applebee's is generally the closest I've been to hanging out in a bar. So I go into this thing with a preconceived notion of what a bar would be like, based, of course, on what I've seen on TV. You know, Cheers, How I Met Your Mother, that sort of thing. Misconception.

We got to Cans and it was really loud. Neat place, but loud, crowded, and kinda stuffy. We made our way through a crowd and went to the roof. Most of the other guys began drinking, I abstained. But the view was nice. And I don't mean the city. As a single man, I did take notice of the large number of attractive women all around us. However, being an introvert, I approached none of them. Seriously, could you picture me trying to pick up a woman in a bar? Yeah, me either.

Eventually we got tired of Cans and made our way to The Attic. Not the same Attic that Zack and Slater snuck into with fake IDs (that's obviously in California, duh). This place was also loud and crowded, but the music was better I thought. And how's this for coincidence... we ran into Chrissy and the Bridal Party again. Really, this time we didn't mean to.

Here's where it gets exciting. At one point in the evening, Mark and I (both completely sober) sat on opposite sides of a couch near where all the guys were hanging out. Suddenly, here comes a very cute girl that sits right between us. I'm thinking that this is pretty awesome. Just as I'm about to say hi, here comes the bonus. Another young lady comes along and proceeds to give the first girl a lap dance. And if you were to see this first-hand, you'd think that this girl was no amateur. She was working it like she was getting paid to do it. I'm fairly certain she was doing it on a dare. I'm gonna just say, I was in the right place at the right time. No, I didn't get a lap dance out of this, but I got enough splash to make that the best seat in the house.

Soon enough, we hit last call. The lights came on. And I quickly learned why bars keep the lights dimmed. People are just not as attractive when all the lights come on. Most of them are drunk and look aged from the smoke, it's not pretty. To cap off the evening (morning) in The Attic, "I've Had the Time of My Life" played over the speakers. Somehow, this became the biggest dance number of the night. Andy and his brother did the lift from the end of Dirty Dancing. I was impressed. And you're probably thinking this is where the good times end. But you'd be wrong. Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Wait For It


How I Met Your Mother returns tonight. Last season ended with Barney's trademark line "Wait for it..." and cut to credits. So was three months worth the wait? Let's see...

Marshall and Lily are happily married. Ted grew a break-up beard. Barney needs a wingman, but Ted's not ready after his break-up with Robin. Robin went to Argentina and came back to the States with Enrique Iglesias in tow. So he's good looking and has an accent. Suddenly Ted's ready. He shaves and hits the bar with Barney, where he meets his own singer: Mandy Moore.

I like Mandy Moore. In a more than friends kind of way. But this isn't the Mandy Moore we've all grown to love. This isn't little Jamie Sullivan taking Ted on a walk to remember. No, no... this is anti-type-casting Mandy Moore, complete with fake tattoos and fishnet stockings. Didn't see that coming did ya? Well, you probably did if you saw any promos for the season premiere at all.

So, was "Wait For It" worth the wait? Sure. Was it the best episode of How I Met Your Mother? Not so much. Funny, yes, but I still give best episode status to the Slap Bet episode from last season. Good times. If you haven't seen that one you should check it out (Season 2 DVD on sale October 2nd).

Honestly, I wish they hadn't wrangled two big name guest stars for this episode. The best part about this show is the chemistry between our main characters. Mandy and Enrique just got in the way. Sure they advanced the plot a little, but did little for the overall comedy of the show. Also, shameless plug for Mandy Moore's new album.

The big reveal for the episode: the yellow umbrella. At the beginning, Old Ted is talking to his kids and, in what could be written off as a throw away line, mentions that they already know the short story of how he met their mother, involving a yellow umbrella. At the end, the camera pans outside the bar to the rainy sidewalk where dozens of black umbrellas pass by. And one yellow umbrella. So will season 3 see the introduction of the show's title character? One episode down, twentyish to go.

I'm really not that busy

I'm sorry I don't update regularly these days. I'd use the excuse that I'm busy, but let's be honest, I'm no more busy than normal. Sure, I'm a full-time student, but I'm only taking 9 hours. I'm working a part-time job, but it's very part time. As in, I'm getting maybe 15 hours a week. On that front, I am looking for more work. But I digress.

Let's look at my life right now: I do homework; I read a lot of textbooks; yet I still make time to watch TV. So why haven't I been writing down my thoughts on this blog? 'Cause my thoughts are boring these days. Usually I only write something down if I'm interested in what I'm writing. These days, there are some interesting things happening in my life, but I don't think of these events as noteworthy. Maybe they are and I'm just not recognizing them. But here is my promise to both of my regular readers: more to come.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tales from the Qwik Pack & Ship - Chapter 1

I screwed up. Big time.

This week, I'm at the store alone. My boss is in New Orleans until Tuesday. Not sure for what. The point is, he left me, the new kid, in charge.

Yesterday a man came in here with two packages to send out. One was just a regular shipment, no special instructions at all. The second was to be sent next-day air. Yesterday was Friday.

Normally, when someone says next-day air, they mean the next business day. This man did not specifically ask for Saturday delivery. I'm not putting the blame on him. I didn't think to even mention it either.

Today (Saturday), I received a phone call from that man requesting the tracking number. When he had looked up the package he called back, concerned that it had not arrived at its destination. I reiterate, I'm the new kid, so when something goes wrong like this, I'm really at a loss. At first I was thinking this was a simple issue of someone not getting what they thought they had paid for. Also at this time, I wasn't even considering the fact that it was supposed to be a Saturday delivery. I got his number and said I'd call back when I figured out what I could do.

So I figured out what he would get if he wanted a refund. Well, a refund on the difference. I called back and asked him to come in and I'd be happy to refund his money.

Fifteen minutes later, his wife walks through the door. Irate, she tells me the importance of the package and why it was supposed to arrive today. See, the recipient of this package, an iPod, is a little girl with a terminal illness. She's entering the hospital today for her next round of treatments. They wanted to get this iPod to her because it's the thing she wants more than anything else. But now it won't get to her until Monday.

Through tears, I apologized profusely, wishing there was something more I could do. I felt about 3 inches tall after that. And then I dropped to my knees. And I'm asking anyone reading this to take a moment to do the same. I don't know this little girl's name. I don't know exactly what's wrong with her. But God does. I'm not praying that an iPod would miraculously appear on this family's doorstep (though that would be a nice twist). I'm praying that God would place His hand on this girl. That He would provide comfort, peace, and strength to the family. That He would reveal Himself to them in a powerful way.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Surfing The Web

You know what's great about being one of the first people to walk on campus for those early morning classes? I get to be the one to clear away brand new spider webs with my face.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Can't Take The Heat

I've been in my apartment for just over three weeks. It's nice. I gotta say, I enjoy living on my own again. I've missed it. You know, the freedom of having your own bathroom. Not having to share the remote control with anyone. Everything on the DVR is something that I wanted to watch, not some obscure Trading Spaces clone. Plus, I don't have my mother barging in and making sure I'm home by curfew.

I'm kidding, by the way, I didn't have a curfew. In fact, I never had a curfew, even growing up. But I digress.

One of the benefits to renting a place from the school is that maintenance is taken care of by them. This is helpful because I have been having problems for the last two weeks.

My oven is sub-par. The first time I tried to use it, it worked fine. A few days later I turned it on to preheat... nothing happened. So I called maintenance. They came and replaced the heating element and it worked just fine. So that night I cooked some chicken nuggets. While they were cooking, I heard some popping sounds. I was slightly alarmed, but nothing was on fire, so my concern lessened. Days passed. I used the oven again. When I turned it on, the fuse blew. So I flipped the switch in the box and it came back on. Fine, I can handle that. This leads me to tonight.

I wanted to heat up a pizza. So, of course, I turned on the oven. Blew a fuse. Flipped the switch... nothing. I tested the stove top, that's fine. But the oven light won't come on. Not even the indicating light to let you know that it's heating up. Nothing inside works. So now I have to call maintenance again to have them fix my oven.

I just don't want them to think I'm an oven-killer. Maybe it's a sign. I should only eat things that can be cooked in a microwave.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Plus One

These wedding invitations keep pouring in. And with each invitation, I'm met with quite the dilemma: Do I check that I'm coming alone, or with a plus one?

According to Barney on "How I Met Your Mother," taking a date to a wedding is like taking a deer carcus on a hunting trip. Not that I'm basing any of my decisions on things that a fictional character on a sitcom says.

I'm singing in a wedding at the beginning of October. I've already responded that I'll be alone for that one. But for Andy's wedding, two weeks later, I have yet to respond. Mostly because the invitation was "misplaced" (see post: Just A Phone Call Away). Also because I don't know who I would ask to be a plus one.

See, I've never had a plus one before. I think it would be fun. And I have someone in mind to ask, but should I? Would she be willing to make the drive to Richmond for the wedding? I'll be in Richmond the day before for the rehearsal and what not, so it's not like I can go pick her up before the wedding.

That's my problem, you work on that, I'm gonna go eat a Pop-Tart.

Fitting In

Last weekend I went to Charlotte to visit my friends Andy and Chrissy. This couple is one of several that will be tying the knot in the very near future. As a groomsman in Andy's wedding and a best man in Brandon's wedding, the time has come to get fitted for the wedding attire.

So while in Charlotte, Andy and I went over to After Hours at the local mall and a nice woman felt me up. That sounds worse than it should have. I was measured for my suits. I say suits and not tuxes on purpose. See, for Andy's wedding, I'll be wearing a suit. For Brandon's I'll be wearing a tuxedo. All tuxedoes are suits, but not all suits are tuxedoes. See how that works?

The lady used her tape measure and got me to raise and lower my arms. When she got to my waist I had to make a split decision: Do I suck in or not? I chose not to. I figured that if I sucked in for the measurement, then I'd have to suck in for the entire wedding. Not something I should be doing when standing for a long period of time.

Then the time came to pay. Now, I could have gotten away with paying $40 at that moment, but I decided to go ahead and pay for the rental of both suits right then and there. $290 and some change. Nothing like dropping close to $300 for two suits that I'll only wear once each. Congratulations kids! I know the years will be good to you!

The Part Time Working Man

I got a job!

Maybe I shouldn't have used the exclamation point. It's not as glamorous or exciting as all that piece of punctuation would suggest. I'm working for a little store called Quik Pack & Ship. Imagine the UPS Store, but we also ship things with FedEx, DHL, and the Postal Service.

One day as I was walking to class I noticed a flyer on the bulletin board. This place was seeking a seminary student for part time help. So I went by to inquire about this part time position. I introduced myself to Mike, the owner of this particular store, and he seemed to like me right away.

He said he likes to hire the seminary students because they seem to be more mature than younger folks. He really has a lot to learn about me. Anyway, he seems to be willing to work with my class schedule and the store hours leave plenty of time for me to study. Yeah, that's right, I said study.

I began work on Wednesday. I was really only there for two hours and all I did was get bombarded with information and "how tos." It was a lot to take in all at once. But it's really not that bad. I went in Thursday for some more information. By the end of those two hours, Mike was confident that I'd have no problem picking this up. Whatever you say Mike.

It really won't be hard work. But then again, it really won't be much pay or many hours. But it's a start. I'm definitely grateful for the opportunity to weigh packages and slap labels on them. That sounded sarcastic. But I really am.

Just A Phone Call Away

Today, as I was waiting for chapel to begin, I listened as a friend talked about a phone call she got from her mom. Her mother had told her that she had to come home this weekend for reasons I won't go into here. This got me thinking: When was the last time I got a phone call from my mom?

I've been in my new "home" for three weeks now and I've noticed that the frequency of phone calls has dwindled. That first week, I was getting calls from mom daily, sometimes twice. Now, time has passed (again, only three weeks) and I just don't get calls anymore. She called me Monday to confess that she had misplaced a wedding invitation that I had received.

She called at one point the week prior to tell me she wanted me to come home. Not just for a visit. No, she wants me to see the living room she had just painted. I just don't think I can bring myself to make the 3 hour drive just to look at the new taupe on the wall.

So I ask, have I been forgotten? It's not like I beg for money whenever she calls, as some college students often do. This is graduate school, let's not lower ourselves to act as undergrads.

So if you're out there and you need someone to talk to, feel free to call. If you have my number. I'm not just gonna give it out. That's crazy... posting a personal phone number on the world wide web. (Not that anyone reads this thing anyway.)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mapquest

We live in a society that relies heavily on information. And for the most part, that information is readily available with the simple click of the mouse or a quick search on Google. Don't worry, this isn't a rant on the evils of the information superhighway. In fact, I'm very grateful that all this information is out there.

Now, I will admit that I complain from time to time about the directions I get from Mapquest. Occasionally I'll search for a route to a place of business and I'll get directed through a parking lot or some road that seemingly doesn't exist. For the most part, the good people at Mapquest get it right.

But I have to ask: what did we do before Mapquest and/or GPS? I've only been driving for 11 years of my life, but most of that time has been in the age of Mapquest. These days we can go online, input our starting point and destination, and, click, we have turn by turn directions and even a rough (sometimes very rough) estimate of how long it will take to get from point A to B. Crazy right?

So what did my parents do when they were my age? If they had to find somewhere in town, did they just rely on a rough mental image of the city layout and drive around 'til they got lucky? I'm sure long distances were a little simpler, take out a road atlas. But then when you get to your city of choice, what happens then? I mean, if you're driving to Boston, the standard atlas can get you to the greater Boston area, but what about side streets and secondary roads?

This brings me to another point: kids today don't know how to read a map!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Fish Pen

Tonight I was watching some late night television. I happened to catch "I Shouldn't Be Alive" on the Discovery Channel. The story was that of a father and son who went on a rafting trip in the Alaskan wilderness and got stranded and seriously injured. That's not the funny part of the story. In fact, that part was kind of tragic. I mean, they both survived, hence the title "I Shouldn't Be Alive."

The funny part happened immediately after the show ended. A commercial came on that just seemed inappropriate after that story. A commercial for the Fish Pen. The opening shot is that of a young father and son hiking along a river with their fishing rods. Just seemed odd to me.

Have you heard of this Fish Pen thing? It looks like an ordinary pen. It has a cap and is small enough to fit in your pocket. But take the cap off, and sure enough, no pen. It's got a telescoping fishing pole tucked away inside. Now, you can carry the rod with you anywhere you go, but if you want to throw on a line, you have to attach the reel. A reel that seems to large to fit in your jacket pocket alongside this "pen."

And let's talk about the name "Fish Pen." Isn't the defining characteristic of a pen the fact that you can write with it? Yet this Fish Pen is nothing of the kind. No ink. Ergo, no writing. I'm a little disappointed in that ad agency. Come on guys, this is late night television. You need to step up your game.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Back to School

Don't worry. I'm still alive out here. I've just been really busy for the last week or so. Also, I didn't have a regular internet connection. So what's been going on?

I moved in with the help of Mark, Brandon and Kara. I might owe them my firstborn, we'll have to hash out the details on that later. Sadly, they weren't able to stay long, so I was left on my own to unpack my numerous boxes. It's amazing how much stuff I've got. Stuff I didn't realize I had 'til I tried to fit it all into three rooms. I think it worked out all right though.

I did all the stuff I was supposed to do. You know, set up utilities in my name. All of which worked out right away. Except for cable and internet, which you can see took a week to get started up. Or, I should say, it took Time Warner a week to get someone out to my duplex to set it all up. But here I am, getting back onto the information super-highway.

Now let's talk about orientation/metriculation. I am fully aware that this process is necessary, but it really seemed kind of drawn out. Maybe it wasn't. Maybe I was just cranky because it was really hot and really humid and I was wearing a jacket and tie all day. I had to wear said jacket and tie for my photo ID, but you know what, all you see of my clothing in the ID is my collar. You can't even see the tie and you'd never know I was wearing the jacket. I was, I really was. I know because I was pouring sweat by the end of the day.

I'm taking a 12 hour load this semester. I almost went with 15, but the advisors advised the newbies, like myself, to only try 9 or 12 to start out. Here's the load: Old Testament, Hebrew, Theology, and Church History. It's really not too tough of a schedule. I've been a little intimidated by learning Biblical Hebrew, but I'm starting to think it won't be too bad either, as long as I devote enough study time to it. The best part of the schedule is that I'm done by 12:30 at the latest each day. Also, no classes on Mondays. We're looking at a long weekend folks. This will help when I find a job.

By the way, I'm looking for a job. If anyone has a suggestion, feel free to get in touch with me.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Moving Day

Today was the day that I moved out of my mother's house. Again.

I moved out once before. I was in college and decided I'd stop going "home" for anything but holidays when I was forced to leave Bluefield for no good reason. Except that it was the holidays.

And now, I've been living at mom's for the last seven months. Today I loaded up the truck.

The day began slightly before sunrise. Well, maybe not. I got up at 6:30. Why? Because the maternal unit wanted to have a yard sale to coincide with my departure. So I got up early to help carry things into the back yard from the basement. This was a whole four hours before I was even scheduled to pick up my moving truck.

Early day. Lots of work. 11am rolls around and I get the truck. Well, I let Mark drive the truck, 'cause I'm not good with the large vehicles. Then we loaded up with junk from storage. It was a hot time, let me tell ya.

A couple hours of that and we headed over to Mom's place. A few more hours of loading boxes and furniture and the deed was done.

You know, moving out of a place is a job of work. And it's only half done. Tomorrow comes the unloading in a new place. Awesome.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Seriously

Can I be serious for a minute? I guess we'll see. I mean, I try not to stay too serious for too long. Even today, I visited my father's grave and ended up cracking jokes while talking to him/myself. It tends to happen when I get uncomfortable, or too serious.

But seriously... I'm moving in two days. Tomorrow I'll load up a truck and then Sunday I'll drive it to Wake Forest, North Carolina. Some of you may be asking, "Why is he moving to North Carolina?" To which I would reply, "For school."

As of Wednesday I will officially be a student of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I made the decision to begin seminary nearly a year ago, just after Dad passed away. I had been fairly unhappy in my career. Even after changing jobs, still unhappy. So I prayed about it. Even talked to Dad about it before he died. And eventually I realized that God was pulling me back to full-time ministry. This is something I had thought I was called to years ago, but during college I decided that it wasn't for me.

And back to the present, I'm starting seminary in a matter of days. Am I excited? Sure am. Am I terrified? Absolutely.

I know in my heart, my soul, that God is going to take care of things. Because I also know that this is where He wants me to be. This is the path that He wants me on. But despite knowing these things, the "what ifs" manage to creep into my brain. See, I'm in school, I've got tuition taken care of, but what about living expenses? I don't have a job lined up just yet. This becomes my biggest concern. Then comes the studying issue. I haven't been in school for five years. I thought I was done with school. Here I am going back for a more difficult degree, after not using my mind critically for half a decade. This isn't as big a concern. I'll be okay if I apply myself. But what if I apply myself to too many things and wear thin?

These are the things I'm worried about. Even though I shouldn't worry. I know that. So, to those of you reading this, I make a plea: Pray for me. Pray that God will be with me during this time. Pray that He will open doors and present opportunities. Thank you for your encouragement in all this.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Midnight with Buffy

Tonight I spent part of my night with an old friend. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And also Jessica, whom I've known for 21 years. That's right, our friendship is old enough to buy alcohol.

Jessica called me up this afternoon with the news that the Grandin Theater was having a midnight show of the musical episode of Buffy. Automatically this leads to awesome in my mind.

We arrived at the theater and found that there are quite a few hardcore Buffy fans willing to show up at midnight for a Slaying Sing Along.

The night began with a quick trivia contest. I got to answer one of the questions. And when I got the right answer (as if there was any doubt), I was led to believe I would receive some important Buffy memorabilia. Instead, I received a box. I opened the box and was greatly disappointed to find a Relay For Life coffee mug. I feel I should explain that tonight's proceeds went to benefit the American Cancer Society. Now, I have the greatest respect for Relay For Life and those involved with it. But I don't drink coffee. And if you were expecting something Buffy related and received something non-Buffy related, you'd be disappointed too. Well, you would be if you were me.

Then the show began. "Once More With Feeling" is the title of the Buffy musical. The good people of the Grandin Theater showed the episode with captions, so we could, in fact, sing along. Good times. We were also given a number of objects that would make for a more exciting movie going experience. Along with a list of when and where to use the items. For example, a small monster finger puppet for a certain song; a small bottle of bubbles for a certain dance; etc. This is what I picture cult showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show being like.

I'll admit, I didn't participate in much of the audience participation. But I had fun. Usually, if I want to watch an old episode of Buffy, I have to put in a DVD and watch it alone. Kind of sad. But tonight, I found that there are several people in town with a common bond.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Even a Muggle Would Like It

Tonight I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Now, it's been about three years since I read the book, so I was a little sketchy on the details. And that might actually be a good thing.

I was blown away by this movie. I laughed. I cried. It moved me, Bob.

Have you read the book? Have you seen the movie? If you said no to either of those questions, then be forewarned: spoilers abound.

Now that we've done away with the obligatory warning, I can actually talk about the movie. We open up with Harry during his summer holidays. He's depressed, as can be expected. I mean, for one thing, he's still living with his Muggle aunt and uncle and good-for-nothing cousin. Plus there's that little problem of You-Know-Who returning from oblivion and killing a fellow student before his eyes. Oh yeah, and no one believes Harry when he makes wild claims about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Turns out Harry and Dumbledore are being made to look the fool by the Ministry of Magic. Harry is also set up to use magic outside of school, which apparently is illegal. It seems that this was a ploy by the ministry to have him kicked out of school. You know, so he couldn't continue spreading lies about You-Know... you know what, screw it... Voldemort.

That ploy fails. Harry goes back to school and starts a rebellion against the ministry, which continues to change the rules as they go along. More laws, turning the school into a dictatorship, ultimately relieving Dumbledore of his position as Headmaster. Harry's little army eventually takes the battle to the Ministry of Magic, where Voldemort's forces lie in wait.

A battle erupts, Sirius (Harry's godfather) is killed, and Harry's emotional turmoil intensifies. You have to feel sorry for the kid. Once again, Harry faces down Voldemort and resists him. And since all this happened at the ministry, Harry and Dumbledore are granted a retraction on page 6 of the Daily Prophet. Good to know their names are cleared.

All in all, good times. Go see it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

We All Scream

Since sometime in May, I started noticing a daily event in my mom's neighborhood. Around 5:30pm, as I'm sitting in my bedroom reading or watching a DVD or checking out (trans: stalking) people on MySpace, I hear a sound.

The first time I heard this sound I was immediately transported to a more innocent time. A time when I was young. A time when you could chase a truck down the street with a quarter and come away with a Dreamsicle. That time is past. I realize this because the sound has gotten a little creepier.

The ice cream truck should make a noise that sounds melodious and inviting. The ice cream truck in this neighborhood makes the same sorts of sounds, but they're about as anti-melodious as you can get. To me, it sounds more like a bunch of empty bottles and cans randomly hitting each other swaying in a breeze. The sound should have been enough to keep me away, but I was intrigued. An ice cream truck? Here? I haven't gotten ice cream from a truck in years!

So I took off. Down the hall, into the living room, to the front door where I finally caught sight of this wonder on wheels. And I froze. No sooner had I opened the door, did I close it again and pray to God that the driver didn't see me.

If the clanging of empty bottles and cans wasn't enough to send up a red flag, the sight of the truck itself certainly was. It's old. Not like vintage, or antique. It's just old. And rusty. And looking at it just sent chills down my spine. If I'm someday able to snap a picture of the thing, I'll gladly post it on here to show you what I mean. And the man driving? Just as creepy. Not your father's Good Humor man.

I ran back to my room and hid under my bed, as if the boogeyman that drives the ice cream truck is gonna come after me. He didn't. And I'm sure he won't. I'm sure he's just a harmless guy trying to eke out a living.

Even so, if I had kids, there's no way they'd be getting ice cream from the rustmobile. I'm 27 years old and the thing just gives me the willies. The only thing missing is a giant clown head on top of the truck. Like a giant bobble-head. Sorry... cold chill again...

Monday, July 09, 2007

More Than Meets The Eye


A little over a year ago, I heard news that a Transformers live action film was in the works. I scoffed. A Transformers movie? Didn't they do that once? I liked Transformers growing up. I had a few. I even had Bumblebee. Transformers worked as a cartoon. But live action? I think was having scary flashbacks to Robot Jox.

Then I started seeing the previews. My fears started going out the window. And then I watched the actual movie. I can sum it all up in one word. AWESOME!

This Transformers movie is pure, unadulterated awesome. How could an epic struggle between good and evil giant robots not be cool?

Aside from the giant robots, the movie stars that guy from Las Vegas and the Even Stevens kid. What's up with him now? He's like everywhere (see previous post for Disturbia). He'll be Indiana Jones' kid in a certain Indiana Jones movie next summer. His leading lady, wicked hot. But for me, the hacker chick was the one who did it for me. Why? 'Cause of the Australian accent. I'd throw another shrimp on the barbie with her any day of the week.

Back to maturity... The movie was pretty freakin' sweet. Go see it. It's definitely worth your $8.25.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Brand New Information

This evening I went to my cousin's 3rd birthday party. And I learned a few things.

First, I learned that my sister is dating someone. Not only did I learn that she's dating someone, I learned that she's been dating him for a month. How was I not aware of this? Could it be a complete breakdown of communication in my family? Well, I would site one of the reasons for my parents' divorce as a lack of communication. Sadly, this appears to be a familial trait.

So I went 3rd degree on April. Who is this guy? What does he do for a living? How old is he? Pretty much anything I could think of on the spot. I figure, since Dad isn't here to ask these questions, someone should.

What else did I learn tonight? I learned that watching small children open a plethora of birthday gifts is not as fun as one may think. In fact, it was kind of boring. You know how you typically try to tear off wrapping paper as quickly as possible? Well, my cousin likes to tear off little bits at a time. Just a little here and there. And about 83% of her gifts were also shrink-wrapped. Upon discovering this she wanted to immediately unshrink-wrap them all. Leaving the other 20 gifts untouched. I guess this is just sign number 153 that I am not ready to have children of my own: Too impatient to outlast a birthday celebration.

Seriously though, how could I go a month and not find out that my sister has a boyfriend?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Nineteen Seventy Something

I’ve been house-sitting for family this week. This has given me the opportunity to watch television, as opposed to strictly the DVDs I have access to in my bedroom at Mom’s place.

Today I watched some good ol’ Game Show Network, or GSN as they like to call themselves now. Like that’s a big difference. Anyway, if you’ve watched more than a half an hour on this network, you’ve noticed that they like to show programs that were taped in the mid to late ‘70s. And what a window into the American past this is.

Seeing what the average contestant wore in those days, is that actually what passed as attractive? A man on Card Sharks came out in a red leisure suit. Lookin’ sharp John! Also, he bragged about being an athlete. Nothing huge. Just a little thing called Roller Derby. If only I could Quantum Leap back in time and take his place for a few days.

All of the female contestants I’ve seen on these shows wore glasses. And not just eyeglasses as we know them in the 21st Century. We’re talkin’ full-on bay windows formed to fit the human head. Now, are smaller frames something that have been developed at some point in the last 20 years? Could people not have had their lenses cut a little smaller back in the day? If I remember correctly, even the spectacles worn by colonial patriots such as Benjamin Franklin were smaller than these. This tells me it must have been a fashion thing. But really? They could use those things as windows on the space shuttle.

What an exciting time the ‘70s must have been. I never really watched That ‘70s Show, only a few episodes here and there. Did they cover these issues? It seems they would be easily made fun of. Maybe it’s just me. I’ll have to ask my mom, she made it through the ‘70s.

Live Free or Die Hard

Wednesday I saw Live Free or Die Hard. The movie itself was pretty good. I’m not always a huge fan of the action flick, but a Die Hard movie is always good to me. I mean, I know there are action movies all over the place out there. Jackie Chan, Steven Seagal, etc, just don’t do it for me. Die Hard is like the end all and be all of action movies. So paying to see a new one was a no-brainer. When you think about it, John McClaine was Jack Bauer before there was Jack Bauer.

But I don’t want to focus on the movie. I want to focus on the theater in which I saw the movie.

The film was scheduled to start at 1pm at Carmike Cinemas 10, found behind Tanglewood Mall. I arrive at 12:57, just in time, right? Wrong. I was actually about 10 minutes early. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I start complaining, I want to explain why I chose to visit this cinema.

You see, the Carmike Cinemas 10 has gone through some serious upgrades. They show all their movies on digital projectors. It’s like watching a movie in HD. No more film. No more changing reels. It’s all very 21st Century. That’s one reason. The only other reason for me is because it’s slightly cheaper than the more popular 16 theater multiplex at Valley View.

Back to the complaints. The movie started late. I could understand this if it happened occasionally. But I also watched the new Pirates movie there a few weeks back. It started about 20 minutes late. Maybe these were the only two times this tardiness has occurred, but it seems to be a strange coincidence that both happened when I was there.

My next disappointment came immediately after the show started. What do you expect once the lights go down? Opening credits? NO! You expect to see previews. Well, Wednesday, there were none. There weren’t even commercials or public service announcements telling you where the exits were in case of fire. No dancing popcorn telling you to go to the lobby to get a little fatter.

I realize that the admission price isn’t meant to cover previews, it’s meant to pay for the movie itself. But you know what, I like to know what’s coming soon. I want to know where my next $8.00 is going. It just makes sense to show previews. Show the folks what’s coming in the future so you can keep them coming back for more.

Next is the big one. About halfway through the picture, the picture went black. At first I thought this was a clever ploy by the filmmakers. But for 5 minutes all we saw was a blank screen. But, oddly enough, we still heard people yelling and things exploding. Finally, everything shut off all together. Then the lights came back on. Then we, the movie patrons, began complaining to management.

Some lady came in and apologized saying they were working on the problem (apparently caused by a storm). After waiting in a nearly deserted matinee for 15 minutes, the movie finally started back up. I’m still not sure what really happened during that 5 minutes of only sound. All I know is suddenly, everyone but John and the kid were dead, and the building was demolished. That always seems to happen.

Now, I should probably make the wild claim that I’ll never go back there again. I’ve done it with other places. But those hi-def movies are pretty freakin’ sweet. But if I had Wednesday to do all over again, I’d probably complain a little more. Just enough to get a free pass to my next movie.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Lowered Ears

I got a haircut today. I went to a girl that I only go to because I think she's cute. I mean, my hair isn't that hard to cut. In all honesty, I could probably get my mother to cut it for free, rather than pay some hot girl $14.95. But really, I think the money is worth it.

This girl, who we'll call "Hair Cut Girl," has cut my hair on two other occasions. And she never remembers who I am. I guess I just make that much of an impression. Despite my forgettability, I've toyed with the idea of asking Hair Cut Girl out. You know, socially.

So today, during the witty banter that comes with getting one's hair cut, I thought of how I should go about asking for a date. We joked about Tae-Bo. And how there's too much emphasis on girls to be super-skinny. I really don't know, I was too busy trying to think three steps ahead so I could stay on top of the conversation to really stay on top of the conversation.

She finished my hair in record time. I should've asked for a shampoo just to prolong the inevitable, but I opted out. At the cash register I clumsily asked her name (even though I already knew her name was Hair Cut Girl), that way I'd know who to ask for next time.

In my mind, asking for her name was supposed to come out sounding a lot cooler than it did. In reality it sounded a little stalkerish. So now I have to find someone new to cut my hair. And also, I go another weekend without a date... I believe that's 276 consecutive single Friday nights. What's the record?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Strange Phone Call

Today I was sitting in my bedroom, minding my own business, when out of nowhere my cellular phone began to ring. The caller ID listed a number that I didn't recognize from an area code that I wasn't sure of.

It was some guy. He was an operator for something called Relay. He informed me that I was receiving a call from someone using this "Relay" system, which apparently is a way for people to call long-distance over the internet. How does it work? Well I'm glad you asked.

The internet user would type what he or she wants to say and the operator would then read it to the person receiving the phone call. Then the person called will respond and the operator would then transcribe that side of the conversation. It seems to me that actually calling or using Instant Messenger would save a lot of time here.

So who called/IMed me using Relay? I still don't know. The first message the operator relayed... hey, I just got why it's named Relay... anyway, the first message was "Is this Alicia's phone?" And then the operator says "go ahead."

Also, I have to say "go ahead" when I'm done talking. It's like saying "over" on a walkie-talkie. I responded "No... go ahead."

So then the guy asked me if it was someone else's phone. "No, I think you have the wrong number... go ahead."

After this I waited. And waited. Meanwhile, my cell minutes are ticking away. Finally I said, "Look, not to be rude or anything, but if this is a wrong number I'm just gonna hang up 'cause this is using up my time." No response. No relay of any kind. So I hung up.

So if someone out there tried to relay me today, I'm sorry I hung up on you. But next time, could you just send me an instant message? I know I usually have an away message up, but I'll get what you're trying to say. Besides, I'm too impatient to wait for an operator to type it for me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

The last few days have been tough.

The grief that I deal with on a daily basis was double-teamed this weekend. My father's birthday was yesterday. And today was the first Father's Day without him.

When I was still in college, Dad had started using AOL Instant Messenger as a cheap way to keep in touch with me from time to time. He wasn't much of a typist, so the conversations were generally short. AIM, not knowing that he passed away last October, felt the need to notify me that his birthday was June 16th. Thanks for that reminder AOL. Not once. Not twice. But three times was I sent an e-mail. "Grayson Peck's birthday is June 16!"

So how did I celebrate these monumental days? I ran away. That's what I do. The 'rents got divorced back in '01, I ran to Bluefield. Ironically, that's where I am this weekend too. A quick thank you to Mark for letting me crash for a few days.

I'm not saying that I would've spent his birthday or Father's Day any differently had I stayed in Roanoke. I was alone most of the day today, which gave me plenty of time to think. Sure, I cried a little, but hey, I miss him. That's not going away.

By escaping Roanoke, I was forced to be around people. Back in the hometown I would've probably just stayed in my bedroom and shut myself off. Here, I was able to hang out with one of my best friends--my brother from another mother--and get my mind away from things.

We watched the entire first season of How I Met Your Mother, a show which, BTW, Dad liked almost as much as I do. Not really a fitting tribute, but just a statemtent of fact.

So this was Father's Day. This day will probably be hard every year. And so will his birthday. Maybe it's good that it all hits in one weekend. And hey, in 2013 it'll all hit on the same day. Not really something I'm looking forward to, but it's out there. Happy Father's Day Dad.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Trip to Charlotte, Book Two

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early. The crack of 8am. Why would I wake up that early on the weekend, one may ask? Because I was going to the movies.

Wait, a movie on a Saturday morning? Yes, that's right. Apparently the theater near Andy and Chrissy's homes shows movies beginning in the morning rather than the afternoon. Ocean's Thirteen, here we come. Good movie, BTW.

After that, I spent the day in Andy's office while he spent the day doing some work in his office. Not as much fun as that sounds, trust me. No offense Andy, but your office was a little dull. At first it was cool, you know, 'cause I was hanging out in my friend's office. He has his own office, which is pretty cool by itself. But five hours? Seriously?

The day picked up though. Andy's church has a service on Saturday night. This is a great idea. I thoroughly enjoyed this. And the senior pastor? Excellent speaker. The praise band? Outstanding. I really think that if this church or one like it had been around Bluefield when I was in college, that's where I would've attended. Actually, if I knew of a church around Roanoke now I may be tempted to make the switch. Really though, it was a great worship experience.

After church the three of us (Andy, Chrissy, and myself) met another old college friend, Brandi, at Wolfman Pizza. Also joining us were Ryan (Andy's roommate), Chad (an intern at the church), Bethany (Ryan's fiancee and the senior pastor's daughter), and Brandon (the next Ty Pennington). No, really, Brandon is the next Ty Pennington. He's the new carpenter on Trading Spaces. He'll be famous in three months, just wait. Man! I should've gotten a picture! Now you'll never believe we met him.

After some phenomenal pizza, the Bluefield alum spent time outside a closed coffee shop and reminisced. All in all it was a fun night. Unfortunately, the end of the evening signaled the fact that I had only one more day in Charlotte.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Trip to Charlotte, Book One

This past weekend I hopped in the old Escort and took a drive through scenic North Carolina to visit some friends in Charlotte. Andy and his fiancee Chrissy recently moved from Richmond when Andy was hired as the 6th grade minister for Forest Hills Church.

First things first... Let's talk about the traffic in and around the Charlotte area. On Friday afternoon around 3pm, I was sitting in my car. I wasn't making use of the gas pedal whatsoever. Any movement between mile markers 12 and 4 involved merely taking my foot, ever so gently, off the brake. This went on for an hour. AN HOUR!!! Seriously, what's going on in Charlotte that everyone is trying to get there at the same time? Shouldn't people be leaving town at the end of the work week? Was everyone visiting friends who recently moved there this weekend? I assumed it would just be me on the highway. My mistake. Moving on...

I arrived at Chrissy's apartment long after I should have (due to extreme traffic). And apparently, the round about is the next hot thing. 'Cause they're all over the place. Very European. Look kids, Big Ben... Parliament...

Andy also arrived at Chrissy's after he got done with work and we shared an impressive meal that can only be described as a taco skillet thing. Good stuff. Also, Chrissy had made cupcakes. Mmmmm... you're getting hungry too, aren't you?

The three of us spent the evening watching Night at the Museum. It was a decent movie. Not my top ten mind you, but I'll go with the thumbs up. Plus, it made us all want to go to a museum, but that'll be a story for another day.

After the movie ended, Andy and I drove to his apartment where we proceeded to watch Mission: Impossible III. Also a pretty good flick. Though Andy didn't make it all the way through. See, we were both pretty exhausted. Add that to the fact that we didn't even start the movie 'til midnight, well, it's a wonder I saw the whole thing. I guess the reason I finished it was because I was sleeping on the floor in the living room anyway, so I kept the TV on for a bit and then the story took a twist, so I had to finish. 2:30am I finally closed my eyes to sleep.

And if you think that was a long day, just wait 'til I tell you about Saturday. Stay tuned for "Trip to Charlotte, Book Two" coming soon to Blogger.