Monday, June 30, 2008

JenStock 2008: Day 1

My family began going to North Roanoke Baptist Church in the fall of 1997. Very quickly the parents became friends with the Hamilton/Greene clan. I got to know the youngest Hamilton, Ryan, through youth group activities. If you're keeping up that's three Hamilton kids: Nicole, Jen, and Ryan. By this point in history, Nicole and Kevin were already married, hence the inclusion of the Greenes above.

I digress. I don't actually remember meeting Jen until a few years later. See, at the time we joined the church, Jen was away at Virginia Tech. So while her entire family had the pleasure of my wit and wisdom, she was wasting away in the academic world. It wasn't until the summer of 2000, after she had graduated from college, that she finally got that opportunity.

My first real memory of Jen was at her house. Her parents were having a cook-out/party celebrating Jen's graduation from college and Ryan's graduation from high school. Up to this point I wasn't sure that the elusive third Hamilton kid even existed. But there she was. Live and in person.

If it were her telling the story, she'd probably say I was awestruck at first glance. But I was less than impressed. But let me tell you why before you jump to conclusions. As everyone lined up in the Hamiltons' kitchen to get burgers and dogs, she complained of a headache. As she was getting ready to take an Advil LiquiGel, a friend of hers dared her to break it open and just swallow the liquid without the shell.

Never one to back down from a dare, Jen did it. She broke it open and swallowed the liquid pain killers. Soon after she complained about it burning her throat. I really didn't want to make a rush judgment about the intelligence of someone I had just met, but part of me just couldn't help it.

But being who I am, quiet until you really get to know me, I merely shook my head and laughed. I mean, it was kind of funny. And hey, no harm done. No one had to be taken to the emergency room for a quick tracheotomy. There was no breakthrough in laser surgery that night. Just good times and good food. I assume the food was good. It's hard to remember the food from a specific cook-out 8 years ago.

That may not have actually been the first time I met Jen. But if there was another, I couldn't tell you about it. That's my first real memory of her and I think it makes a pretty good story. Little did I know that our adventures that summer were just beginning.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

By Popular Demand

Dear readers, the coming week I am doing something that has never been done before. It is so unprecedented, that it will pretty much blow your mind. Beginning tomorrow and running through Friday, I will be devoting every single post to Jen Hamilton.

That's right folks, you heard right. Some of you may be scratching your heads and wondering who the heck this "Jen" person is? If you've kept up with my posts for awhile, then you've seen her name mentioned a time or three. After I finish this post, I will go back into previous postings and create a new label. So soon enough, you'll just have to click the label "Jen" to get caught up.

So be sure to come back tomorrow as I kick off JenWeek with a story that's nearly a decade old. I really need a better title than JenWeek. How about JenFest? No, I got it... JenStock 2008. So keep coming back this week. You'll be treated to some pictures and even some rare, behind-the-scenes video footage.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Is it just me, or was life a lot simpler when we were in Kindergarten? I know, we were, what? Five years old? How complicated could life possibly be at age five?

Years ago, I remember seeing posters in classrooms that I believe were, in turn, inspired by a book titled All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I never read the book, but the poster I can still see in my head. Simple pieces of common sense advice that have stuck with me to this day: share; don't hit; if you make a mess, clean it up; warm cookies and cold milk are good for you; and most importantly, take a nap every afternoon.

As a culture, I think Americans have a firm grasp Kung Fu death grip on the milk and cookies thing. But as a culture, we have lost touch with our daily naptimes. I remember learning in my Spanish class that the custom in Spain is to drop what you're doing at lunchtime and go home. You have a huge meal with your entire family, and then you have a nice siesta. After that, you continue your day's work into the evening. This makes the evening meal less important in the scheme of things, but hey, they got a nap.

So would this system be such a bad one for Americans to assimilate? We close down our businesses for about two hours while we break for lunch and a nap. Afterwards, we return to work well-rested and refreshed, prepared for the second half of our day.

I suppose this wouldn't work for us. Because Americans are always in a hurry. We hit the fast food drive-thru during our half-hour lunch breaks and pray that we don't get indigestion from eating to fast and stressing out over getting back to the office on time.

On the other side of this "naps are good" idea, there are the naps that just aren't. You know the ones I'm talking about. Those are the days when you actually get a moment to lie down to catch some of those elusive Zs. Before you know it, you've lost two hours of your afternoon and you feel worse than you did before you closed your eyes.

Those are the naps that allow us to become irresponsible. The sleep we get is too much. It wreaks havoc on our internal clock and then we suffer insomnia during the following night.

So ladies and gentlemen, I implore you, if you must nap, do so responsibly. Twenty to thirty minutes is just enough time for you to have a proper REM cycle. You'll wake up feeling like you've just had a good night's sleep.

Please be aware that I have no actual medical basis for my above claims. In fact, I only have a vague recollection of that Behavioral Science degree that I got in college, so the psychology of sleep is pretty much something you should look into for yourselves. But I'm just gonna keep napping the way I feel like napping whenever I get a chance. Get some sleep kids.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Question of the Week: Century

Do you think the world will be a better or a worse place 100 years from now?

Not that I'm trying to be a pessimist, but I'm pretty sure it'll be worse. Assuming it's still around in its current form. I'm not gonna sit here and be one of those guys who says that signs keep pointing toward it being the end of days. I mean, there have been people making that claim for the last 2000 years. But I'd say that humanity is on the decline overall. We're overpopulating the earth; Al Gore tells us our environment is giving out; those fossil fuels we depend on will eventually run out (if we can afford to keep using them); criminal activity is on the rise; morality is on the decline. I'm sure there are more problems that I'm just not thinking of at 6:30 in the morning. Mankind is capable of so many great things, but on the flip side, we're just as capable of unimaginable horrors. So I guess 100 years for now, it's a coin toss.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XXIV

Three short stories from the drive-thru lane...

One day a woman drove up in her minivan and just sat there. For about a minute she just sat there staring at the tube. I was working on something for a lobby customer, so finally a coworker asked her if she could help. Now, she didn't buzz in. Normally people push the buzzer about 8 times to either annoy us or get our attention. The woman in the van just asked, "How do I do this?" Luckily I was busy and not at the microphone, otherwise it could have picked me up saying, "You've gotta be kidding me." Later I felt bad for thinking she was an idiot. Turns out, the previous customer had driven off with the box, so there was nothing out there. True story.

This other time I was helping a girl in lane one. She finished her transaction, so then I greeted the man that had just driven up in lane two. While he was talking to me, he was distracted. He nearly gave himself whiplash trying to check out the girl in lane one that I had just helped. Dude, put your eyes back in your head. She was seventeen.

Finally, I love how people take the time to write a note to me. They send the note in with a hot mess of checks and cash and sometimes loose coin. Along with all this, they over identify themselves by sending in three different IDs. But in doing all that, they can't take the time to fill out their deposit slip? Happens all the time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XXIII

The other day, a customer/doctor came by to make a deposit. He came into the lobby, and since the other tellers were helping clients, and I had no one at the drive up window, I did my duty and helped out. I've helped this same doctor before and have picked up the vibe that he just doesn't like me. Found out later he's just rude to everyone.

The deposit slip that he handed me was, I assumed, filled out correctly. He wrote the amount of the check to be deposited. He wrote the total at the bottom. Well, to say he filled it out correctly would be a stretch. See, he didn't fill out his account number. He never fills out his account number.

Notice I said that I assumed. Lesson learned: just because someone has an MD after their name, does not mean that they are competent enough to perform simple transactions at the bank. I ran his transaction based on what he wrote on the deposit slip (after I looked up his account number). And then, when I handed him his receipt, he pointed out that the check was for 20,000. Not for 18k which I had run the deposit for.

Why would I run the deposit for $18,000? I'm glad you asked. Because that's what he wrote on the deposit slip. And since I assumed that he was competent enough to write the correct amount on the deposit slip, I didn't pay attention to the check. I know, I should have. I usually do. Again, that's what happens when you assume.

So when he pointed out the mistake, he was kind of a jerk about it. He talked down to me like I was an idiot. I stood there and took it. I reversed the transaction and ran it correctly. I refrained from mentioning that he was the one who wrote the wrong amount on the slip. Seriously, how do you make that kind of mistake? How do you write 18,000 when the check is clearly for 20,000?

Again, I realize that I should have paid closer attention to his check. But from now on, instead of assuming competence, I'll just assume everyone is ignorant, no matter their educational credentials.

I swear, if stupidity were a fatal disease, it would be the number one killer in the United States.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Science Rules

Remember in high school when you used to do all kinds of fun stuff in science class? No? You didn't do anything fun in science? Neither did I. I mean, we disected a cat once in biology, but that's about it. I remember taking chemistry and finding it pretty dull. No one lost a limb to the hydrochloric acid. I was a little disappointed by that.

I do, however, remember watching shows like Beakman's World and Bill Nye the Science Guy and wishing that we could do some of those experiments in school. 'Cause those TV science geeks made science experiments look like fun.

Today I stumbled upon a clip from the Ellen Show with some new science guy who does something cool with corn starch. Click the link and watch the whole video clip.

Kind of makes me wish I had a big ol' vat of liquid corn starch.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XXII

The other day my manager pulled myself and my fellow drive-thru worker aside and informed us of something interesting. I take that back. It wasn't interesting. It was annoying. She said she had received a phone call from a customer who complained that the tellers at the drive-thru were not friendly.

Excuse me? Not friendly? I may be a cynic in real life, but when I'm on the job I am all kinds of polite. My regular script is as follows:

"Good morning!" or "Hi, how are you today?" (depending on the time of day)
...then I run Joe Customer's transaction
"Thank you Mr. (or Ms.) Customer, is there anything else I can do for you?"
"Have a good day (afternoon or weekend)"

Is that not polite? I even smile. I'm sure it's a stretch for some of you to believe that I can actually curl that mouth up into a smile, but it can be done. I've even been caught on film.

I guess some people aren't happy unless they're complaining about something. And believe me, there are plenty of customers who seem to live for just that purpose.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Epilogue to a Reunion

In the past I've refrained from using people's full names to maintain some form of anonymity. Anonymity is a joke. Besides, I keep saying I want lots of people to read this thing. So from now on, whenever I speak well of someone, and it's appropriate to use the full name, I'm gonna do so. That way, if someone wants to Google themselves, they might make their way to my little corner of the internet. But, uh, you know, if I have something not-so-flattering to say about someone I'll just use their first name. Or a fake name. 'Cause I'd hate to be sued for defamation of character or something like that.

I arrived fashionably on time, way abnormal for me. Generally, I show up to things chronically early. But when I got to Roanoke yesterday I went to my grandmother's to visit with her and Mom and April for a while. Before I knew it, it was 6:30. That's when registration was scheduled to begin. I got there just before 7, when the actual event was supposed to start.

The first people I saw, of course, were Jessica Smith and Allison Mease. These two ladies pretty much put the whole thing together. Gotta say, I was impressed. There's a lot of work that goes into planning an event such as this, and they've spent the last 12 months getting the class of '98 ready for this thing. Job well done.

I made my way into the reunion area and had a hard time recognizing anyone. Part of it could have been that 10 years have passed and some people look different. Part of it could be that 10 years have passed and I can't remember a lot of people. Part of it could be that I was crawling back into that shell that I mentioned yesterday.

After about five minutes of feeling and probably looking awkward, I recognized Eric Orange. I thought this part of the reunion would be weird. See, he's Jessica's ex-husband. And while I've maintained a good friendship with her, I haven't seen or talked to him since they split up. I guess she got me in the divorce settlement. It really wasn't that strange though. We spent a few minutes getting caught up. And then I moved on.

I made my way around the room, trying to find a table to sit at. One where I wouldn't feel like I didn't know anyone. Unfortunately, at first, that didn't happen. But then Beth Farmer invited me to come sit with her and her friend Karen. I remembered Beth, but I had completely forgotten that she and I were in the same group for our Decades project. We did the 1960s. Good times. So I had now established a place to plant myself for the evening.

And then you'll never guess who came over to talk to me. Tara Cronin! I know! She's like, one of the most popular kids in school! Seriously, cheerleaders never used to just walk up to me and begin a conversation. And, can I just say, 10 years ago, she was a cute girl. I was in school with her from first grade on. I won't lie, there was a slight crush there. And somewhere in the last 10 years, she went from cute to full-on gorgeous. I mean... wow. And, uh, what does it mean when a hot girl says you look really good? Twice? In the same conversation? Yeah, I didn't think it meant anything either. I just thought I'd ask.

Soon after, the buffet line began. Then came the slideshow of pictures from high school. I was surprised to see myself in a few of the pictures. Shocked is probably a more accurate description of how I felt about that. I'm the guy that only shows up on 1/16 of a page in his own senior yearbook. And then, there I was, sitting outside the Planet Hollywood in my Superman t-shirt. Good times.

The rest of the night was pretty uneventful. Jessica forced me to dance with her while Strawberry Wine played. I have a totally unrelated story regarding that song involving Dereck and Andy in a wig. I'll have to share that one sometime. Anyway, while we danced, we talked. I'm not sure if it was the wine or what in our conversation led to her question of "who's the most beautiful girl you know?" And even at that moment, I knew she wanted me to say her, but I just had to blurt out, "Honestly, right now, I gotta say Tara Cronin. Seriously, how hot did she get?" I don't think I really hurt Jessica's feelings, but she acted like I did. So I gave her a hug and said I was just kidding. But I wasn't really kidding. I mean, did you even see Tara last night? I mean... wow.

Guess that's it kids. See you at the 20. Maybe.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Prologue to a Reunion

In a few short minutes, I will be in my car on my way back to Roanoke for the first time since January. The reason for this quick trip to the homeland? My ten-year high school reunion.

Now, before you chide me for participating in some sort of nostalgic nonsense, listen to why I'm going. First, I paid fifty dollars in the registration fee. That's not exactly money I can get back. Second, I made a promise to my oldest friend. And if I don't go, that would be going back on my word. And that's not what I'm about. Not now, not EVER!

And the Daytime Emmy goes to...

So I've got the pre-reunion jitters. I think I've come a long way in the last 10 years. I'm certainly not the person I was back in 1998. And I don't think of myself as 10 years older. I like to think of myself as 10 years more awesome.

But here's my fear: What if, when I get around these people who knew me in high school (or didn't know me for that matter), and I become that person again? Most of you don't know who I'm talking about. That person was the shy kid who sat in class, took his notes, never spoke up, and didn't get involved in anything. It's a persona that I shed once I got to college. Then I became (eventually) the person that I am today. I got out of my shell about midway through my freshman year. It's not a shell that I want to get back into. Even if it's for just one evening.

And what if she's there? You know who I'm talking about. That girl that the geeky kid had a crush on for four years but never had the stomach to do anything about it. I'm not saying I'd want to do anything about it now, but I don't think that would help in my not crawling back into my shell.

I guess before I go, I should just determine not to become that person. I should determine not to forget how to speak when confronted with the people who intimidated me 10 years ago. I'll be back tomorrow to let you know how it went.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Question of the Week: That's My Baby

You discover your wonderful one-year-old child is, because of a mixup at the hospital, not yours. Would you want to exchange the child to try to correct the mistake?

I don't think I would want to make the switch. If I think this one-year-old is so wonderful, I've obviously become attached to him/her. And I assume that he or she has become attached to me and my hypothetical wife. I think I'd try to propose some sort of visitation agreement with the birth parents, maybe even become close friends with that family. I'm sure it never works out that way. I'm sure it's a Lifetime movie waiting to happen. My hypothetical wife would become irrational and end up wanting both kids. She'd go crazy, I'd have to file for divorce. Years later, all involved would just end up resenting each other. The kids grow up to become drug addicts because their childhoods were so screwed up. All of this could have just been solved by suing the hospital and switching the kids at the one-year mark. What was I thinking?

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Super Mario Track & Field

Using my Stumble button I found this cartoon. Anyone who has played Mario Kart will understand the humor. Those of you who haven't played, I pity you.

This Stumble Upon thing is gonna help me out immensely when I'm running short on things to write about. I had something to write about today, but I ran across that and laughed.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XXI


I mean, what would you do in my shoes? I'm at the drive-thru window at the bank and I've finished the customers transactions. I get on the mic and ask if there's anything else that I can do for them. They clearly say no.

Then they sit there doing what appears to be nothing for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then, suddenly, they send the box back in with yet another transaction. At this point, I can't help but doubt myself. Did they really say no, that the didn't have anything else for me to do, or is that just what I wanted to hear?

And then, after I finish their transaction, again, what do I say to them? I've already told them to have a good afternoon. What else is there? Do I say it again?

Just... awkward...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Old Glory

For this, my 250th blog post, I present to you a special video. This video comes to us from Saturday Night Live. It's a classic commerical parody starring Law & Order mainstay Sam Waterston. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it makes me laugh. Plus, I can't really think of anything to write about today.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Birthday Passes

Today was Dad's birthday. He would have been 55.

Thinking about his birthday, I got to wondering, do they celebrate birthdays in Heaven? Logically, it would seem that they don't. I mean, time doesn't work the same way there as it does on earth. Time is something that is finite. And since Heaven is eternal and infinite, who up there would care what year it is or that it's June 16th on earth?

But then again, God's well aware of what's going on at all times. Does that ability trickle down into the saints that have gone before us? If it does, do they mark time in a similar way?

So do they have birthday parties? Must be one crazy shin-dig. Happy birthday Dad.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

As You Wish

Before continuing with today's post, I must direct you to scroll down and view the comment under the posting titled Stumbling. Jen left a comment there suggesting that I should devote more blog space to her. Jen likes to see Jen's name in print, right? Then Jen, this one's for you, Jen. I give you a Mad Lib found at this website based on Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid. I thought that would be appropriate since Jen and I burst into a medley of Disney songs whilst doing dishes at Christmastime. But this is no regular Mad Lib. Instead of choosing random nouns, adjectives, and verbs, I have replaced the missing parts of speech with Jen's name. This how Phoebe from Friends plays Mad Libs. Without further ado, I give you Part of Your World: The Jen Version.

Look at this Jen, isn't it neat?
Wouldn't you think my collection's complete?
Wouldn't you think I'm the Jen
The Jen who has everything?

Look at this Jen, treasures untold
How many wonders can one Jen hold?
Jenning around here you'd think
Sure, she's got everything

I've got Jens and Jens a-plenty
I've got who's-its and what's-its galore
You Jen thing-a-mabobs?
I've got Jenteen
But who cares? No Jen deal. I Jen more.

I wanna be where the Jens are
I wanna see, wanna see 'em Jenning
Walkin' around on those
Whaddya call 'em? Oh, feet

Jenning your fins, you don't get too far
Legs are required for Jenning, dancin'
Strollin' along down the
What's that word again? Jen
Up where Jens Jen
Up where Jens run
Up where Jens stay all day in the sun
Wanderin' free, wish I could be
Part of that Jen

What would I give if I could live
Outta these Jens?
What would I pay to spend a day
Warm on the sand?

Betcha on Jen they understand
Bet they don't reprimand their Jens
Bright young women, sick of Jenning
Ready to stand

And ready to know what the Jen know
Ask 'em Jen questions and get some answers
What's a Jen and why does it
What's the word? Jen

When's it my turn?
Wouldn't I Jen?
Jen to explore that Jen up above
Out of the Jen, wish Jen could be
Jen of that Jen

We hope you've enjoyed this presentation of Mad Jens. Or should it be Jen Libs. And coming in July, to coincide with my trip to Los Angeles, more posts that will be all about Jen. By my count, that's forty-eight mentions of your name Jen. Forty-nine. Are you happy Jen?

Had to make it an even fifty.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Long ago, back in my college years, a few of us were presented with an interesting opportunity. The few were myself, Clint, Sarah, and Cassie. All of us sang together in a couple different groups in those days. When I've written about singing in college and claimed that I got to sing with some of the most talented people I've heard, those three are some of the ones I'm talking about.

One day after Variations rehearsal, Chris Sheppard, our director, pulled the four of us aside. He mentioned that he had received a phone call from the owner of a local business. This Bluefield business owner was in need of four singers to perform a jingle for an upcoming commercial. So Mr. Sheppard gave the guy our names.

We got in touch with the owners of Carpetland in Bluefield and set up a time when we would come and record the jingle. On the phone, the owner told me he'd pay us $50.00 each. To a college student, that's a fortune. And for anyone, that's a lot of money for what promised to be about an hour of work.

The four of us arrived at Carpetland on the appointed day with very few expectations, except for that 50 bucks of course. We had yet to hear any music or receive any lyrics to learn. On site, we were given a tune and the words and placed in front of a microphone. Not the most professional set up we'd be in front of, but hey, it was Bluefield.

My memory is a bit foggy when it comes to remembering the actual song we sang. Each of us sang one line, then we all harmonized in the last half of the song, which told potential customers to "come to Carpetland." During the ordeal, something happened that seemed to irritate us and the owner of the store. At one point he and his cronies went off to discuss something, leaving us to entertain ourselves for a bit. Once they came back, we did a final recording and left. We were told he would be in touch with us if we needed to re-record anything and for payment.

A few days passed and we hadn't heard from Carpetland. So I called them. I called the number that Mr. Sheppard gave me and also called the store's listed number. I got no answer. I left messages, but got no return calls. This went on for several weeks. In the end, we just made peace with the fact that we wouldn't get any money for this less-than-professional gig.

Looking back, it may have something to do with the fact that, while the owner and cronies were away and we were entertaining ourselves, one of us made a sarcastic comment about the shabby condition of the store we were in. I don't remember if it was me or Clint that made the remark, really it could've been either of us. All of us laughed. And they must have been in earshot.

I never personally saw the commercial that used our jingle, but I heard from other friends at various times in the following months that the ad did air. A year later, Carpetland filed bankruptcy and closed its doors to the public forever. One word: karma.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Question of the Week: No More Pain

If a new medicine were developed that would cure arthritis but cause a fatal reaction in 1 percent of those who took it, would you want it to be released to the public?

Absolutely. You can't have an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Besides, there would be a disclaimer on the commercials telling you that the side effects include but are not limited to overactive bladder, rash, sneezing, sniffling, coughing, fever, explosive diarrhea, bad breath, athlete's foot, loss of appetite, and death. But on the plus side, you wouldn't be in pain anymore. People know about the possible side effects in advance. Doctor's would explain that this drug kills one percent of the population. Let the patient choose.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Last week I discovered something pretty cool. It's a website called Stumble Upon. It's this place where you go and register, download a toolbar, and decide what types of websites you may be interested in. In this brand new toolbar, you get a button that simply says "Stumble." When you click there, you are taken to a random website that you may enjoy based on your interests. I've come across some interesting websites, but last night, I found one that topped them all.

When I clicked the stumble button, I was taken to an internet jukebox. It automatically began playing Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up. And while I don't hate that song, I was more interested in seeing how extensive the music selection was in this "jukebox." I used the search feature and looked for Rainbow Connection, I figured that would be an easy one. Many different versions were presented in list form.

So then I wondered if they had any Christian music. So I searched for Newsong's Arise My Love. This is the part where I geeked out. Not because they had the song I searched for, but because they had a song that I never expected to see or hear on the internet. There on the list of possible matches for "Arise My Love" was a song by Bluefield College Praise Singers called Arise, Shine.

Backstory: During my two senior years, I was a member of the Bluefield College Praise Singers. In that time I got the chance to sing beside some of the best singers I've ever heard. I'm not just saying that because they were my friends. It really blew me away how much talent Bluefield College housed for such a small school. Anyway, in that second year of Praise Singers, we recorded a CD. This CD, which I have since lost after numerous moves, contained the song mentioned above. And in that song mentioned above, I've got a solo.

So, imagine my surprise in stumbling upon myself on the internet. What are the odds? I kinda geeked out when I heard it. Even though I don't like listening to recordings of myself. You know that scene in That Thing You Do when the Oneders first heard themselves on the radio? That's kind of how I felt. I didn't run down the streets or jump up and down screaming. At least not externally.

At the same time, I was talking to Jen through AIM. I shared the site with her, but I don't think she was excited as I was. When I told her I would be blogging about it, she said that was egotistical. But you know what? I don't care. I'm singing on the internet now and she's not!

I used to think I would have to become one of Blogger's blogs of note or have an article written about me in Wikipedia to have arrived. But now I know, all I needed was to hear myself singing on an internet jukebox. I kid, I'm really not that egotistical.

Seriously though, check out the songs. Do a search for Bluefield College to hear others. I suggest So Good featuring my friend Cassie, and Order My Steps which was done by Praise Singers after I graduated.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XX

I'm sure I've mentioned the need to get so many referrals each and every week. Haven't I? I can never remember. If I've mentioned it, consider this a refresher on referrals. If I haven't, then this is brand new information.

Each bank teller is expected, as part of his or her duties, to obtain three referrals per day. This means we have to convince three unwitting clients that come to our windows that they not only want, but need to either open a new account, apply for a credit card, or try to get a mortgage (or take advantage of some other highly important product that they never knew the bank offered).

As someone who only works three days a week, I am expected to obtain nine of these coveted referrals on a weekly basis. And when I don't get the full nine something horrible happens. Not only am I docked a week's wages, but I am then sent to the hot box for an hour on Monday. It's a shack made of concrete and metal that sits behind the branch. From the outside it looks like a normal ATM, but inside, it gets really hot in there. I'm sure I've sweated off 35 pounds thanks to my lack of referrals.

Okay, I'm kidding. There has probably been one week that I've actually gotten all of the referrals expected of me. And I'm still here. Thus far, there has been no real disciplinary action taken, other than a "try harder next week." But that doesn't stop the powers that be from telling us we're not doing our jobs properly.

Each week, we have our branch meeting. This is the time when the manager can go over what we did right, but mostly what we didn't do, in the previous week. Now, I realize that whenever she says something to us about not reaching a particular goal, she's just relaying the crap she gets from whoever is above her in the bank hierarchy. And obviously, to the powers that be, when we don't meet or exceed our weekly, monthly, or quarterly goals, it's because we're not doing our job.

To the CEO and members of the board, I have to ask, do you realize that our economy sucks right now? Just because we're not getting new referrals, just because your representatives in the branches are not opening new accounts or handing out credit cards, does not mean we aren't trying. While you sit in your well air-conditioned office enjoying your million-plus dollar salary, shaking hands or signing papers or doing whatever it is you do to "earn" your paycheck, we, the little people, see every day what normal people are going through. People don't want to open new accounts, they can't afford to. They can't afford to get new credit cards, because they're already in debt with the credit cards they already have. People are too busy working and spending their money on gasoline to come in and put money in a brand new money market account.

But then, I guess, when we're not getting those accounts for you, you're not able to keep gaining your ridiculous profits. I guess you want us to get people to open accounts, then you want those accounts to go into the negative so you can charge them exhorbitant amounts of money in bank fees. Money they already don't have. So then, when they can't pay those fees, you charge them more fees.

But really, who am I to complain? Hooray capitalism!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I've had gray hair for years. I'm fairly certain I began noticing a few stray grays back when I was in high school. And I've been done with high school for ten years. But gray hair has never been an issue. For the most part, I don't care that I've got gray hair. At least it's not falling out.

But here's the thing, I'm 28 years old. And over the last few months, the gray hair has become more noticeable. I say that only because more and more people are beginning to say something to me about it. "Aaron, I didn't realize you had so much gray hair!" Do you have to say it with such shock and awe?

Leo, another new friend from Faith Baptist, was discussing the gray issue with me recently. "You could stop aging," he said.

"And how do I do that?"

"You could die."

He did clarify that statement. He didn't mean he wished death upon me. That's just the only way he knew to stop the aging process. I can see his logic. But I have to believe that there must be a better way.

Nicole said she'd highlight my hair. But I ask, what will that do? Highlighting only covers some random spots, right? Unless that time in college, when I got my hair highlighted, they did it wrong. Also, she said she has to wait for my hair to get longer to even do it. Longer? Seriously? I was thinking about getting a haircut at the length it already is. Do you have any idea how hot it is in the greater Raleigh area? And this is just June. August is coming quick. Longer hair scares me. It instills in me the fear of spontaneous combustion. Because it's so hot.

Monday, June 09, 2008


This funny commercial thing might become a regular post, 'cause they're easy to do on the days that I can't come up with something to write about. The following is a commercial that I believe first aired in this year's Super Bowl. It just cracks me up.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Allow me to introduce you to a couple people that I've become friends with through the Greenes and through Faith Baptist Church, where I am currently a member. Meet Jonathan and Angela. They're apart of the same Thursday night small group Bible study at the Greenehouse that I participate in each week.

I say I participate, but mostly I sit back and take most of it in. You can learn a lot by listening. I'm learning a lot.

Anyway, Jonathan has several interesting tattoos. One may refer to him as the illustrated man. He and Angela share a matching tattoo. That of a skeletal replica of the bones in their right feet. Imagine having x-ray vision, then looking at someone's right foot. That's what you would see if looking at either Jonathan or Angela.

I first met Angela while participating in the adult choir at church. She also sings with the worship team each Sunday. I didn't meet Jonathan until we began meeting each Thursday, but we quickly bonded over Call of Duty and a common love for Back to the Future. He was equally saddened by the destruction of the Hill Valley set at Universal Studios.

This morning in church, as the pastor was making his way to the stage to begin his sermon, Michael (the worship leader) was praying. Being in a worshipful state of mind, I had my head bowed and my eyes closed. I was startled when I felt someone gently kicking my foot. Remember, I was looking down. So I opened my eyes. And what did I see? A skeletal right foot kicking me. That startled me a little more.

Of course it was just Angela trying to get by me. But really, what would you think if in the middle of prayer your eyes popped open to see a permanently inked metatarsus. Foot bones... to the layperson.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

On the Way Back from Brazil

On the way back from Brazil one time, I volunteered to carry a friend's souvenir. But first, a little background.

During Spring Break of my first senior year, I went with a group of BSU students to Brazil for a mission trip. While there we had the chance to go into the public schools in a town called Rio Negrinho. We also worked with a Baptist church in the city, leading them in worship and leading a Vacation Bible School-like activity for kids. It was a lot of fun and a very rewarding experience. I even learned a little Portuguese, which I use to this day. I mean, very little. We're talking the extent of "good morning" and "thank you."

Anyway, at one point during the trip, my friend Shannon bought a pitcher (I think) that she would soon use in her new home after she got married. Unfortunately for her, this caused her to have a third carry-on item. See, at that point, the airline we were flying with had a two carry-on policy. Since I only had one carry-on with me, I volunteered to carry it for her. By the time we reached our third layover in Atlanta, I was tired of carrying this ceramic pitcher (it was in a box, in case you were wondering).

I looked over at Kelly and asked why I was still carrying this thing. She replied, "Because you're nice. And stupid."

Friday, June 06, 2008

Question of the Week: Perfect Happiness

If you could spend one year in perfect happiness but afterward would remember nothing of the experience would you do so? If not, why not?

Okay, first of all, what is perfect happiness? Not something that I think is possible in this world. I'm sure people can get close to it, probably close enough they think they're there. But I wouldn't go along with something like that if I couldn't remember it. Because what are we if not the sum of our memories? Then again, maybe I wouldn't want to remember it. After spending that year in complete happiness, I'd probably be miserable knowing that I wouldn't be able to get back to that place or that feeling. It'd be like spending a day in Heaven and then being ripped away. Maybe that's a memory I don't want until I can experience it for the rest of eternity.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I don't think I've mentioned that I got a new TV. It's been about two months now and things are going great. See, that's what I did with my income tax refund. I upgraded to the high definition LCD television.

I've wanted one of these HDTVs since my friend Brandon got his nearly two years ago. When he got that, it was decided that his place would be where I watched sporting events, American Idol finales, and pretty much every other decent TV show. Then I moved away.

The Greenes have hi-def. But I don't understand how they can insist upon watching standard definition programming. Sure, if it's something coming on TV that's not aired in HD, go for it. But all of the networks are offered in HD. Why would you watch Lost on the regular channel when you can watch it with a much clearer picture, better sound, and in widescreen format? I've fussed at them numerous times for making this mistake. They just haven't trained themselves to go straight to the HD channels.

HD is kind of amazing. I know, it's just a thing. But really, flip back and forth between the SD and HD stations. Even the old shows are dramatically different in clarity. I imagine that when God looked down through the scope of history, and saw that mankind would develop this invention known as the television, high definition was how He saw it. I'm sure that while mere mortals were messing around with tubes and transistors, He was on high with that still, small voice, telling us that we could do so much better. And finally, we have.

(Was that sacriligious? I didn't mean it to be.)

As far as being trained to go straight to the high definition stations, I'm already there. Brandon once said that he doesn't watch anything unless it's in hi-def. I scoffed at him. I couldn't believe that you could limit yourself to the few HD channels offered by cable television. But you know what, you can limit yourself. After experiencing high definition, going back to the small screen is sometimes difficult. It's sometimes disappointing. This is a new era, and I have embraced it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Would You Like to Take a Survey?

Sometimes doing a blog post every day can be a difficult task. Sometimes it's difficult to come up with something interesting to write about. But then there are the days when something interesting just arrives in your Inbox. Today's post comes from my friend Nicole.

Who did you last shoot a dirty look at?
Probably Nicole, though it's hard to tell, apparently I give out dirty looks to people all the time.

What kind of car do you drive?
Ford Escort

Have you ever had a garage sale?
I never planned one, but participated

What color is your iPod?

What kind of dog do you have?
I don't

What's for dinner tonight?
Hot dogs

What is the last drink you drank?

Are you happy right now?
Believe it or not, yes

What did you say last?
Keep me posted

Who came over last?

Have your brothers or sisters ever told you that you were adopted?
No, but I've told her a time or two I'm sure

What is in your pocket?

Who introduced you to your boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife?
Not applicable

Who is the last person you had a phone conversation with?

What DVD is in your DVD player?
Bones season 1

What's something fun you did today?
I paid my rent... it doesn't take much

What do you think of when you hear the word "meow"?
A guitar

What are you listening to right now?
Two and a Half Men

What have you had to drink so far today?
Water, Milk, Coke

When is your birthday?
March 6

Is there anything hanging from your rear view mirror?
Yes, garter number 3, caught at a wedding last month

What are you going to do after this?
Read something

What is something you need to go shopping for?
Nothing right now, I got the milk and bread today, so I'm good for about a week anyway

Do you like pickles?

How about olives?

Do you have any tan lines?
I don't have any tan

Do you remember the name of your kindergarten teacher?
Mrs. Fields... she made great chocolate chip cookies

When you're at the grocery store do you use the self checkout?
If I've only got a few things

Has anyone ever sang to you?

Has anyone ever given you roses?

What is your favorite color?

What color are your eyes?
See above

How tall are you?
5'6 or 7... maybe somewhere in between

Who was the last person to say they loved you and when?
April a few minutes ago

Do you like your parents?
Yeah, they're cool I guess

Monday, June 02, 2008

Answer of the Week

Remember Friday's question of the week? Click the link to get a refresher course. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Okay, are you back? Good. We can begin. I mentioned that I had something to tell someone. Well, that someone was my Mom. And tonight, I got that something off my chest.

A few years before Dad passed away, my parents split up. So after some 23 years of marriage, they divorced. Until the day I die, I will never understand why Mom left him or what her reasoning was. No amount of explanation on her part will clear that up for me. Nothing I can do about that.

But on my end, I've been harboring a great deal of resentment and bitterness. From her perspective, everything was fine. But I was living a lie. Lying to her about our relationship and lying to myself. I decided some time ago that I needed to clear the air about how I was feeling. I needed to let go of my anger and let her know the truth.

I've been going through the last six or seven years knowing that my relationship with Mom was bad, even though she thought things were okay. So tonight I let her know that I forgave her for leaving. And I asked her to forgive me for burying all that resentment for so long.

Before Dad passed away, he knew about all that bitterness. And one of his biggest fears was that when he died, I would feel like an orphan. Let me clarify, I've never felt that way. But I know that he wanted me to have a good relationship with Mom. And I couldn't do that until I could be honest with her.

She cried. I cried. But in the end, things are good. And she asked me to always be honest with her. She asked me not to be afraid to let her know what I'm thinking or how I'm feeling. And I agreed. So if you're holding back something that you have to say to someone, go ahead and tell them. 'Cause we aren't guaranteed a certain number of days on this earth. Tomorrow could be the end for any one of us. Tell someone you love them. Tell someone you forgive them. Hatred and anger in your heart will only consume you until your hatred and anger are all that's left.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Raindrops Keep Falling

Tonight I was sitting with my good friends the Greenes while they enjoyed some dinner at Chili's. I say "they enjoyed" because I wasn't eating. I had, in fact, already eaten, and therefore was not hungry. It wasn't because they were starving me or running some kind of cruel experiment or joke.

Anyway, I was sitting at Chili's with the Greenes while a storm raged on outside the window. As storms go, this wasn't that bad. There were some pretty good streaks of lightning and some pretty heavy downpours, but I've definitely seen worse.

We got to talking about the recent weather conditions. As you may know, North Carolina, as well as most of the south, has dealt with a pretty harsh drought. A few weeks ago, maybe a month or two, rain returned to this area. Not just a little rain. Enough to refill the resevoir and then some. And we've gotten some steady rain a couple times a week recently.

There have been times that I can remember complaining about the rain. Times when it's gotten gray and dreary. Times when I would cancel whatever small plans I had just because I didn't want to go out in the rain. No more. I'm fairly certain that for the rest of my life, I will never complain about the rain again.

You've probably heard that old saying, "Into one's life, a little rain must fall." Usually it's used in the context of someone going through some sort of tragedy or trial in their life. But I challenge you not to think of life's rainstorms as a curse, but a blessing. For nearly a year, it didn't rain regularly, causing vegetation to die and bodies of water to dry up. Now that the rain has returned, it's as if everything has been revitalized.

The rain that inevitably comes into our lives can strengthen us. It gives us something to drink in times when we're thirsty. So thank God for the rain. And not just the rain that falls from the sky.