Friday, October 31, 2008

Question of the Week: Hunger

Would you be willing to murder an innocent person if it would end hunger in the world?

I couldn't do it. It would be one thing if the task was to kill Hitler or General Zod or some other genocidal maniac. But just some random person? No. I would rather end hunger by forcing companies to give away some of their stock of food. Seriously, have you walked down the aisle of your local grocery store lately? Just take a stroll down the cereal aisle and think about how much cereal is in that one store. Then think about just how many grocery stores there are in the US alone. And what happens to all that cereal that never gets sold? Does Mr. Kellogg donate it to some sort of food pantry?

What about when we go out to eat at restaurants that serve ridiculously enormous portions that are impossible to finish in one sitting. Maybe if those restaurants would cut back their meal size we could kill two birds with one stone. Eliminate obesity and feed people who do without.

I'm just doing a lot of talking here. I really don't know what steps would need to be taken to ensure that people wouldn't go hungry anymore. Seems to me that would be a more important issue than what kinds of pay raises the members of congress got last year or whether or not the government can lower the cost of gasoline.

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

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Life Story: Chapter Eight

Kindergarten was a time of great turmoil. I was five-years-old when I started at East Salem Elementary School. My teacher was Mrs. Fields. I don't remember much about her, but she made some decent chocolate chip cookies.

School itself was a fairly uneventful time. I'm told that Mrs. Fields let me read to the class to show off my early reading abilities. I'm not sure if it was all that impressive. I do remember the teachers and aides teaching us letters, which I already knew, by using characters known as Letter People. If I remember correctly, the consonants were male and the vowels were female. Kind of an unbalanced society.

This was the year of the big flood in the Roanoke Valley. November of 1985 brought lots and lots of rain. It was a flood that eventually brought the downfall of Lakeside Amusement Park. I remember being forced to stay at school late the day of the flood. Buses weren't running because it wasn't safe. It was the first and only time I ate dinner in school. East Salem was very close to Mason Creek, which rose pretty high. Also nearby was a trailer park. When the flood waters came, they carried some of the trailers away with them.

I turned six the following March and invited all my classmates to a birthday party at McDonald's. For a long time I have told people that this is where my fear of clowns was born. My version of the story goes that Ronald McDonald carried in my birthday cake, tripped over his floppy red shoes, and his fake hair caught fire when he got too close to the lit candles. It's a ridiculous story, but people seem to buy it. I'm here to tell you it's not true. Nothing so crazy happened at my sixth birthday party.

I wish I had more to say about my time at East Salem, but that one year was it for me. After that I would be in Roanoke for the rest of my school days.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Life Story: Chapter Seven

Before I get into my proper school years, I should probably deal with the first place I remember living. It was a small house on Reece Rd. in Salem, Virginia. To be honest, there's not much that I remember about that house, but what I do remember, I liked.

It had a good sized back yard. Could have just been that it was large because I was so small. Just off of the house there was a concrete slab that acted as a patio. I'm sure I would bounce a ball there from time to time. What else is a kid gonna do with a concrete slab, aside from fall down and scrape a knee? I also remember a stairwell leading to the basement from the outside. That stairwell gave me the creeps. Spider webs and fallen leaves from several previous autumns lay in front of the basement door.

Elsewhere in the yard was an apple tree. I don't remember this first-hand, but Dad said that from time to time he'd pick apples and bake a pie. I'll take his word for it. There was also a swing set. I remember the day Dad put it together and I remember being so excited because now I had something to do outside other than chase around our dog.

In those days we had a cocker spaniel named Sandy. He was a sweet dog, but dumb as a sack of hammers. I'd throw a ball for him to fetch it. Then he'd go looking for it. And he'd keep looking. He'd even sniff over the ball a few times before he actually picked it up and brought it back. Dumb dog.

I'm pretty sure that, technically, it was a two bedroom house. Seems I had the run of things until November of '82 when April came along. Then she got the proper bedroom and I was pushed into some sort of in-between den-type of room. It was between the kitchen and the hallway. Just the first example of April being the favorite.

For the most part, we weren't in a young neighborhood. In fact, most of the people I remember living on our street were of the elderly persuasion. Next door we had the Cundiffs. I don't remember anything about them, other than the fact that they gave us apples on Halloween. We had an apple tree in our back yard. We didn't have a Milky Way tree. Which of those things would be a better treat for a kid to get while out trick-or-treating?

Two houses down lived Grace Kelly. No, not the Grace Kelly from Rear Window. Though I do remember being devastated when the news reported princess Grace's death. This Grace Kelly was my first babysitter. She taught me the alphabet before I could even talk. She would line up letter blocks on her sofa and then ask me to go and get specific letters for her. I think one can conclude from this that I showed early signs of genius.

Behind us were the Looneys. Bob and Jane had three daughters, Cindy, Brenda, and Beverly. For a lot of years, Brenda was another of our babysitters. Where Ms. Kelly would watch April and I during the day, Brenda watched us when the parents would go out in the evening. I remember that Bob kept an immaculate yard and had an enormous garden on his property. As a kid, I could have sworn there was a farm behind our house.

There's not much more to say about 1668 Reece Road. It's where I spent the first five years of my life. It's the place that introduced me to ColecoVision and Mork and Mindy. Soon after we learned the error of our ways and moved from Salem to the far away land of Roanoke.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XXXV

Ah, management. In our careers we will have good managers and bad managers. I, unfortunately for the moment, have a very bad manager.

I can best describe my branch manager as petty, immature, and irresponsible. There are occasions when she may appear to be polite and compassionate, but the bad generally outweighs and outnumbers the good.

Recently we lost our assistant manager for reasons that have not been revealed to me. She was someone who was patient and understanding and provided a sense of encouragement to the employees. She will be missed in our branch. As a way of letting her know that we would miss her, the tellers and customer service reps decided to get together after work Monday night to take her to dinner. Our manager was not included in the invitation.

Now, I was not able to attend this evening out with the coworkers, but I heard about it today. Apparently, at the end of the work day yesterday, someone let it slip that everyone was meeting our former assistant manager for dinner. Manager was displeased. I didn't have to be in until 1:00 this afternoon, so I missed the ensuing fireworks this morning.

Manager was obviously furious about not being included. But the reasoning for her lack of inclusion is that she is not a likable person. Thus, people don't want to hang out with her socially. However, being the petty person that she is, she complained and basically demanded that if the "team" was to have an outing after hours, that all members of the "team" are to be included. I'm sorry, but who is she to determine who any of us can and cannot spend time with off the clock? I'm fairly certain that human resources would have a problem with that little temper tantrum.

And that's exactly what it was. Generally, she has one of these tantrums about once a week. I'm not always around to witness them, but it's really awkward when I am. One of my fellow tellers has decided that from this day on, she will keep a list of the things that our manager does or does not do, whatever the case may be. This way, when things finally come to a head (which I feel certain will happen in the near future), there will be documentation of what she's doing wrong.

Other examples of what's already in the notebook:

- She chooses the monthly Saturday on which she wishes to work. Generally, the full-timers go on a cycle and work one Saturday each month. Our manager, some months ago, signed up for the first Saturdays in both November and December. Last week she realized that Halloween is the day before. Since she is planning on attending a party and getting wasted, she doesn't want to work the following day, as she plans to be hungover. But she can't switch with anyone, because the assistant manager no longer works for our bank, and the other two in-branch reps have unbreakable plans on that day. So what does she do? She complains that she can't be as immature as she wants to be because she'll have to take responsibility for her actions the next day. She then went on to declare that she was disappointed in our two reps and the fact that they were unwilling to be flexible on this issue. I should mention that they also take turns working the Saturdays that fall on three-day weekends. The manager was scheduled to work Memorial Day weekend, but had to switch because something came up. At that time, one of the reps was available to work. But it was determined that it would still count as the manager's three-day weekend, not the rep's.

-Another example of immaturity appears in the form of one of our clients. There is a local business owner who, for one reason or another, our manager does not like. It's a personal issue by this point. It isn't about whether they have accounts in poor standing, she just takes personal joy whenever something bad happens to them. On one occasion, she came out of her office visibly giddy over the fact that this business owner had been sued over something. Would you consider it unprofessional to walk into the lobby with a smile on your face and announce to your employees that one of your regular clients is in legal turmoil? I'm pretty sure it is.

There are many other examples listed, and I'm sure there will be more to come. I was remarking after work today that she shows all the maturity of a ten-year-old. But then I thought about the Greenes' oldest son and realized that I'm giving my manager far too much credit.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Coming Attractions

Tonight I'm tired. I'm tired and I've got a paper that I need to write. And I've got a lot of stuff on my mind but I'm not sure how to put it all in words right now. It's just a big emotional mess in here and I've got to sort it all out before I can articulate it. Don't worry, it's not a bad thing. In fact, it's a very good thing and I'm incredibly blessed, but I just don't know how to get it all down on paper at the moment. I'll come back to these things at another time. But tonight I leave you with some things that I came across a few years ago. The first video you'll see takes scenes from some of the best movies ever made and re-creates a different take on the trailer. This blog post is rated PG, viewer discretion is advised.

What if Sleepless in Seattle had been a Fatal Attraction kind of story?

What if Mary Poppins became Scary Poppins?

Okay, one more. Could you imagine The Shining as a touching family drama?

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I am very disappointed in my dwindling readership. I gave you all an entire week to give me ideas. These ideas could have been anything. If you wanted me to write about it, I would have written about it. My likes; my dislikes; my opinion on the election; the origins of pizza; how to make cereal; etc.

But no one wrote anything in the comments. No one had any ideas to share. You missed out. The cut off was midnight last night. So if you are having any ideas about sharing your ideas at this point, you're too late. I should probably just stop asking the public for their opinions. But I'm going to do it one more time. Not today, but before the end of the year.

By the way, to make cereal, you set the box next to the milk. Voila, you've made cereal. I mean, I guess you could open the box and pour it into a bowl, and then pour the milk on top of it if you want to be a radical.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

High School Musical

A couple years ago, I began hearing news of this phenomenon called High School Musical. But it wasn't anything that I had experienced myself. And then I took a job working as a counselor at Northside Middle School in Roanoke. That's when High School Musical became an earth shattering reality.

You know how kids will have those days in school where they get out early? You know how on those days, teachers are never able to get any work done? Well, the sixth grade teachers at Northside seemed to embrace that truth. They took those days and just made them fun. No learning. No work. Just fun.

One of those days came along and the kids were herded into the auditorium where they showed the first High School Musical on the big screen. All the kids new the songs, so they sang along. Me, I watched in wonder. I love music. And thus, more often than not, musicals do it for me. And this one was no exception.

Nearly a year later, The Disney Channel premiered High School Musical 2. I'll admit, I wasn't as impressed. I'm told I need to see it a couple more times to let it sink in. To date, I've only seen it once. I should revisit that volume. The sequel just seemed cheesy to me. It was as if they were just reaching for something to capitalize on the phenomenal success of the first one. The lines "Keep your head in the game!" and "We're all in this together!" were repeated repeatedly. If one were so inclined, a drinking game could be created based on those words.

Today I saw High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Finally, the franchise is where it belongs, on the big screen. I didn't go alone. I'm not that creepy old guy that goes to Hannah Montana concerts. I don't even like Hannah Montana. Though, admittedly, I am not Disney's target demographic where this film is concerned.

Jen is in town, so she, Nicole, Makenna, and Braeden all let me tag along. Sadly, Jen slept through most of the movie. I really don't know how. I mean, could be that she was on a plane all night. I find it difficult to make excuses.

As far as the story goes, I still liked the first movie the best. Maybe I just need to see part three again. I will say that the production value for this one was far beyond anything produced exclusively for The Disney Channel. You could tell there was a bigger budget when the high school suddenly seemed much more crowded than the previous installments.

There were some pretty catchy tunes, some that I'm sure I'll be hearing over and over again in the Greenehouse. It's just a shame that real life isn't like this movie. It's a shame that people don't randomly burst into song whenever they're struggling with a tough decision or when they're heartbroken or when they've found "the one" to whom they're hopelessly devoted.

I imagine high school wouldn't have been much different if the random song and dance was a part of every day life in the cafeteria. I remember there being a tense feeling in the air whenever a fight was about to break out. It was as if you could feel it coming on. What if, instead of the violence, it was a song that broke out. Suddenly everyone was harmonizing and in sync with the choreography. Jumping and dancing on the tables. And then going on with their day as if nothing strange had happened. What a happier place it would be.

Which brings up an interesting question. Are there any musicals that don't have saccharin sweet happy endings? I guess Moulin Rouge wasn't a very happy ending. Any others? Did Tony and Maria end up together at the end of West Side Story? Mom tried to make me watch it when I was a kid, but I kept refusing. Leave the sad musicals in the comments. I'm curious about this one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Question of the Week: Extermination Vacation

For an all-expense-paid, one-week vacation anywhere in the world, would you be willing to kill a beautiful butterfly by pulling off its wings? What about stepping on a cockroach?

I'd pull the wings off a butterfly in a heartbeat. But the roach? That's where I draw the line. People give roaches a bad rap. Okay, I'm kidding, I really can't back that up. I'd step on the roach a lot sooner than I'd pull the wings off the butterfly. But to me, it really doesn't matter. They're both bugs. Just because the roach is considered more of a pest than the butterfly doesn't mean that its life is worth more or less than that one week vacation. I'm totally going to Disney World.

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

Thursday, October 23, 2008

All's Fair

The big event happening in the Raleigh area right now is the North Carolina State Fair. I remember hearing about it last year. Mostly from people coming into the store where I worked or from the girl who cut my hair around that time. Everyone's always asking, "Are you going to the fair?"

Let me ask, what's so great about the fair? Sure you have rides. But they're rides that are put together and taken apart so quickly, there just have to be parts missing here and there. Are they really all that safe? And then there's food. Good Lord, how there is food. If you've been to one of these things, you know that there is a plethora of junk food. A trip to the fair is a new case of heart disease and/or diabetes just waiting to happen.

I'm just playing devil's advocate there. I love the fair. I think it's a great time. The other night I was invited by the Greenes to go along with them, Gordon, and our friends from church, the Dunns. Good times were had by all.

We really didn't hit any of the rides. I was being honest with my feelings about those rides when I mentioned them above. I just don't trust their construction. Don't get me wrong. I love amusement park rides. But the difference is that those things are permanent. They're constantly checked for safety. I don't know so much about these traveling carnivals. One loose screw on the ferris wheel and you have a bucket dropping from 150 feet. Not my idea of a good time. Besides, the price you pay to ride is borderline extortion.

I think the real reason we went was the food. I don't think I was kidding about the heart disease/diabetes remark. When you go to the fair, you discover that anything edible can be deep fried. I didn't gorge myself too much. I had a cheesesteak and Coke, which acted as a proper dinner. For dessert I went for the funnel cake. You can't go to a fair and not have a funnel cake. I split it with Nicole, 'cause I didn't figure I could eat the whole thing alone. But after taking that first bite, I was pretty sure I could have.

Between the six of us, I'm not sure what all was eaten. I'll try to give a run-down, but I'll probably end up leaving something out. There were barbecue ribs, green beans, cheeseburgers, french fries, deep fried Snickers, deep fried Milky Way, deep fried mushrooms, a couple types of fudge, funnel cakes, spicy sausage sandwiches, roasted peanuts and almonds, maple butter, homemade ice cream, and pickles. I think you get the idea. We ate enough to feed a small country.

Looking around at all the food vendors in that place, it boggles my mind how there can be families that go hungry in this country. As a nation, we are doing something wrong. That's a deep discussion for another time.

At one point in the evening we took a break from the cool night air and went into the art show inside one of the buildings. Fairs usually have this sort of display. A place to see the artwork of area school children and local amateurs. I couldn't believe some of the stuff that was on display that had been done by eight year olds. These kids must be some kinds of prodigies.

Something else you'll find at the fair are the age/weight/birth month guessers. You couldn't go anywhere on the fairgrounds without being within earshot of one of these barkers. Everywhere you looked, there was someone trying to sucker someone in. When we were in line for funnel cakes, there was one nearby (of course) who lost three times in a row. Not long after that, he was replaced. If you're giving away the crappy stuffed animals, you're losing money. Can't have any of that.

All in all it was a really good time. Sure, I didn't ride any rides and I didn't get to pet any of the animals. But I did have a better time at the NC State Fair than I ever had at the crummy old Salem Fair. The Salem Fair was a flea circus compared to this thing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I'm dropping out of seminary. Have I mentioned that fact here before? Well, I am. It's a decision that I've come to, but haven't arrived at it lightly. A lot of prayer and thought has gone into this decision over the last six months or so. Someday, maybe I'll go into all of the details and reasons why. But today is not that day.

Today I just want to go into one of the reasons. And this is a reason that just presented itself to me this morning. As the months have passed by, I've continually asked God to provide confirmation that the decision I've reached is the right one. And as the months have passed by, I've received small signs confirming that decision. Today I got another.

I went to my theology class only to discover that the teacher would not be there today. Instead he had his TA drop off a few questionnaires for the class. The instruction was for us to break off into groups of 4 or 5 and discuss the questions. Really, it was busy work for the people who bothered to show up to class today. I just happened to be one of those lucky people.

As I sat in my small group, I realized just how out of place I was. I realized how much I didn't belong among these people. The questions weren't that difficult. Based on the notes and readings I've done for this class, I could have answered all three of them without blinking an eye. But as these subjects were discussed among my classmates, I felt entirely inadequate. Some of the ideas and thoughts that they were verbalizing just made me feel like I was a primate that had randomly stumbled into a classroom, was handed a pencil, and told to have at it.

I've never thought of myself as a stupid person. I've never thought of myself as a genius. But I've always thought that I could hold my own in an intelligent conversation. Turns out, aside from making a few witty remarks, I couldn't add a whole lot to the discussion.

Now, I could easily fall back on that shyness crutch. I tend to do that. Maybe it just boils down to the fact that I'm not cut out for a masters level program. I don't think I lack the intelligence for it. I just lack the motivation. Maybe I'm just telling myself that to boost my ego a little. Maybe I just don't want to end up as dumb as I feel when I walk out of some of these classes.

I've mentioned in the past that some of the things I read for seminary are extremely advanced. I even posted an example of said readings. If I can't grasp these things, what am I doing here?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Life Story: Chapter Six

Time to return to the story of the first girlfriend. Please note that most of this will be pieced together from stories retold by my parents. These were stories they liked to tell because I was just that adorable.

Angie and I began our relationships as most young couples. She gave me a blue crayon. I gave her my heart. The grown-ups called it "puppy love." I called it "forever." But I was wrong. Forever was not meant to be.

I'm getting ahead of myself. We don't want to jump right to the tragic end of the relationship. I don't consider that a spoiler alert though. I am single. One should assume that I'm not actually still with this chick.

In reality, I have no clue how our little romance began. I do know that we would kiss each other good-bye before leaving the preschool. See, the teachers would line us all up against the wall under the awning outside. Then we would wait patiently as the parents drove into the parking lot.

When Dad would pull up, I would break out of line to kiss Angie good-bye. When her mom pulled up, she would do the same. It just depended on who got there first. I guess the teachers thought it was cute too. When there was a substitute one day, she freaked out when I jumped out of the line. Like I was being insubordinate or something. The other teachers just told her to wait and watch. And a collective "Awwww" rose from the three or four adults.

Angie and I were very serious about our relationship. We were even engaged for a short time. Until one tragic day when she told me she didn't want to marry me anymore. Because she decided she liked my best friend, Jeremy. My first experience with heart break.

Dad always said that riding home from preschool, I was all talk. I would go on and on in excruciating detail about what I did that day. But the day that Angie broke up with me was different. I just sat in the car with my head down. I didn't say a word. Mom said that night I just sat beside her on the couch while she watched TV. Normally I would be sitting in the floor playing, but that night was different. When she asked me what was the matter, I told her that Angie didn't want to marry me anymore.

I don't know how long she and I were apart. But apparently whatever there was between her and Jeremy didn't last long. At some point we got back together, or as together as two can be at that age, and remained that way for the remainder of our time in preschool.

After that, things grew difficult. Her family lived in the county, I lived in Salem. Going to different elementary schools would put a strain on things between us. We drifted apart, as children often do. Jeremy and I, however, remained in the same kindergarten class. He would often ask me how Angie was. And I'd tell him she's good.

I did continue to see Angie occasionally after preschool. Specifically, I would see her each Valentine's Day for a few years, at which time I would take her a single rose. Once I turned 7 or 8, I guess we just lost interest in each other. I would eventually see her again, but we'll save that tale for later.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Life Story: Chapter Five

I don't remember much from my first few years of existence. But really, who does? I don't remember my first steps. I don't remember my first words. I don't remember the first time I went poo-poo in the potty. I assume that all of these events happened at some point, because at this point in my life, I have achieved a mastery of all these skills.

All right, all right... the talking thing is a little sketchy. But once you get to know me, you really can't get me to shut up. And I think I'm pretty good at walking. Sure I trip over my own two feet on occasion, but who hasn't? But I guarantee I've got that whole bathroom thing nailed down.

I didn't set out to be a potty mouth in this post. Initially I intended to write about some of my early memories. The things I actually do remember.

I'm not sure how, but I remember seeing E.T. in the theater. It's possible that was the first movie I saw in the theater. There's something touching about a slimy alien that makes contact with a troubled kid from a broken home. And then the scary astronaut guys break into their broken home. How is that not creepy?

I also remember preschool. I was three years old when I started going to Tabernacle Baptist Church's preschool. I know there were several teachers there, but the only one whose name I can recall is Mrs. Yates. I think I'm allowed to call her Bonnie now, but that just feels weird.

And I don't remember everyone in my class, but two people will always stand out. Jeremy was my best friend in those days. Angie was my first girlfriend. And then my issues with women begin. We'll save that story for next time.

Life was easy in preschool. We played musical chairs. We had a career day where everyone got to act in the job they wanted to be in. I can't remember what career I picked, but I do remember going to one kid's barber shop. He shaved me. And he did a lousy job. I couldn't get my facial hair to grow back for years after that.

And let's not forget the best part: naps. Oh, precious naps. That special time during the day that was set aside for the children, after a gruelling morning of shapes and colors, to lie down on beach towels on the cold, tile floor. Maybe that should be my platform when I run for president. Naptimes for everyone! I'd vote for me just based on that alone.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Something to Write About

I need some things to write about. So I'm giving you, my average of 18 readers per day, the opportunity to control this blog. What's something you want me to write about? There's a nifty comment section at the bottom of this post. From now until next Saturday at midnight, I will accept your ideas and subjects that you want me to explore. You don't necessarily have to comment on this post, just as long as I receive your comment before the aforementioned deadline.

Beginning next Sunday, I will do your bidding. I will write about whatever it is you ask of me. This is assuming any of you decide to play along. Come on. Challenge me.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Take On Me

So there's this video that's been making the rounds on YouTube and elsewhere. I've seen it posted in several places and ignored it for awhile. Finally I took a look and cracked myself up. It's the video of that classic '80s song Take On Me. But whoever edited this version changed the lyrics to make the song match what was happening in the video.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Week of the Question: Envy

Are there people you envy enough to want to trade lives with them? Who are they?

I'll admit there are times when I wish aspects of my life were different than the way they are. And there are times when I will envy a particular person. But I don't think it's anything that's bad. And I certainly don't envy them enough to want to trade lives.

I know I've got my problems. There are things that I struggle with and issues that will continue to pop up in my life. When those hard times come around, who wouldn't want to trade places with someone? But I've also got enough sense to know that any of those people I would happen to envy at any given time also have their own problems and issues. So, no, I don't envy anyone enough to want to trade places.

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

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Week of the Question: Incident

While on a trip to another city, your spouse meets and spends a night with an exciting stranger. Given that they will never meet again, and that you will not otherwise learn of the incident, would you want your spouse to tell you about it? If roles were reversed, would you reveal what you had done?

I would want to know. I'm glad the question isn't how would you respond. Because I honestly don't know. I'd like to think that I would be able to forgive the Mrs. and just move on from there. But I imagine that would be a hard thing to forgive, and a hard place to start moving forward. Even though I may be able to forgive, there's no way to really forget that kind of thing. And because of that, what happens to the trust? It's pretty much gone, and that's not easy to get back.

And if the roles were reversed I'd have to tell. There's no way I could live with myself after doing something like that and not confessing it. My conscience would eat away at me until I finally did reveal the truth.

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Week of the Question: Action Figures

If you could use a voodoo doll to hurt anyone you chose, would you?

First of all, when it's a guy that's involved, they're not dolls. They're action figures.

I'd like to say no, but I do repress a lot of stuff. Especially when I get frustrated at work. It's not like I can go off on my manager or show a customer just how much of a bonehead I think they are. It'd be real easy to pick up that doll when I got home and shove a needle into the arm.

I did used to treat my GI Joes with little respect. They'd get captured and tortured. Strap 'em down and have a magnifying glass hovering over them. Melt a leg off. That kind of thing. Flint was never the same after that.

Anyway, I don't believe in voodoo, so none of that stuff would work anyway. Don't they say you have to believe in it for it to affect you? Or did I just see that in a movie somewhere? I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I just don't play with dolls.

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Week of the Question: Women and Men

Do you prefer being around men or women? Do your closest friends tend to be men or women?

This is a hard question to come up with a cut and dry answer. For me there's a lot of gray area here. At one time, sure, I would have said that most of my friends were women. Or, back then, they would have just been girls. That's kind of the way high school was. These days, though, I think I have a pretty good mix of friends. Of course, for the most part, they're all spread out, so I never see any of them anyway.

I don't really have a preference as to whom I hang around with. Is it whom or who in that situation? Sometimes I'm just not sure. Anyway, most of the time I find that women are easier to talk to than men. With guys I find there's a lot of small talk. Don't get me wrong, small talk can make for some good conversation. You veer off into politics or the economy or religion, and you get pretty deep. Women, on the other hand, can draw more of the emotional stuff out of a guy. Even in the most platonic of friendships, that sort of thing can happen. In the long run, it will save us all a lot of money in therapy bills if we have a few female friends. Or, you know, a wife that you actually talk to.

That's the problem with marriages these days. No one communicates. Or, they don't know how to communicate with one another. Could it be that that's the real reason for a 52% divorce rate? That's a different tangent for a different discussion.

I've mentioned on here that I'm not so good at making new friends. Probably a mix of shyness and confidence. So I don't really care if my friends are male or female. I'll just do what I can to make sure I keep the friends I've got.

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

Monday, October 13, 2008

Week of the Question: Last Will and Testament

Okay, I know it's not Friday. If you've been keeping up, that's the day that I always do the question of the week. This week I thought it would be fun to do a question every day. That's right loyal readers, you get not only one question this week, you get five. Isn't that exciting? I thought so.

If you knew of a way to use your estate, following your death, to greatly benefit humanity, would you do it and leave only a minimal amount to your family?

Estate? HA! There would be a minimal amount anyway, whether I gave it to some world-changing charity or not. But lets just assume for a moment that I'm a wealthy individual with millions to my name on the day I die. I'm just gonna leave it to my family. The way I see it, the majority of Americans are only out for themselves. So why not let my loved ones use the money for their own benefit, especially when the economy only seems to be sinking lower.

That's Monday's answer. Remember to tune in every day this week for a brand new question.

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

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Advisory Board

Yesterday I said I was going to run for president eight years from now. While I was sitting at work, and I wasn't thinking about work, 'cause that just doesn't happen, I began planning ahead. I started to think about who I would want close to me. Who would I have as advisers?

First off, I would definitely have Kevin in a position on the cabinet. I don't know exactly which department I would have him in charge of. But I know whatever I appointed him as, he would do a good job. He's been selling cabinets for years. I need someone with that kind of experience on my cabinet.

Mark would be in there somewhere too. He's a guy that has a lot of opinions. But it's not like he just spouts off what he's thinking without thinking about it. All of his stances on the issues are very well thought out and articulated. He gets pretty passionate about things, especially when dealing with the welfare of the country.

As I write this, I realize that I'm only appointing my friends in these positions. Didn't they coin a phrase for that a few years back? Was it "cronyism?" Sounds good to me. 'Cause I'm also appointing Andy and Brandon somewhere too. Guess I should put some women on the cabinet too. 'Cause diversity isn't just an old wooden ship.

I'd go ahead and say I'll appoint Nicole to Homeland Security or something like that, but I'm not sure that I would want both members of a married couple in the cabinet. What's the saying? Politics makes strange bedfellows? I really don't know what that means, but I think it might have something to do with political differences between a husband and wife. Nicole can be the White House chief of staff. Or Jen. I'll let them fight it out.

All of this, of course, is a moo point if I can't get elected. Let's start talking this thing up folks. I have an average of 18 readers here every day. Our first move would be to build up that number. I think it's entirely possible to turn this country on its head eight years from now. A nobody with no funding could come from out of nowhere to become POTUS.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Decision '16

In the year 2016, I will be 36 years old. This means that it will be the first presidential election year that I am legally eligible to run for president of the United States. When I was a junior in college, my roommate, Dave, used to joke about how he would run for president in that year. His platform: elderly drivers.

His thought was that elderly drivers can be dangerous on the road. Just as dangerous as any inexperienced teenager who just got their learner's permit. This leads to his idea that anyone over a certain age, let's just pick 60, should be required to take the behind-the-wheel driver's test annually. If they fail, they lose their liscense. But where does that leave all the little old ladies that need to go get their hair done? What about the old-timers who need to make it to Bingo night at the Moose Lodge? I'm glad you asked. There are a lot of people out there who have community service hours to work through. Have these people drive around the elderly folks. They might just learn something about life while they're listening to their passengers drone on and on about the good ol' days. Let's just make sure it's not someone who has community service after a DUI charge.

But I've gotten off topic. I'm not writing this to discuss Dave's campaign. I'm writing to discuss mine. Dave's gonna have some competition. For awhile I wanted to be his running mate. I wouldn't mind being VP for someone with his integrity. While I don't have a platform on which to stand at this point, I do have a plan of action. All of my speeches will come from presidential speeches in movies. For example, Independence Day, The American President, Dave, and others.

I'll announce my candidacy on Independence Day of 2016. That way I can begin my speech with "Perhaps it's fate that today is the 4th of July..." Jen suggested that I answer every question from the media with "We're gonna get the guns!" This comes from Michael Douglas' speech at the end of The American President. Also from that movie, I'd like to end all my speeches with "My name is Aaron Peck, and I'm running for president!" There will be so many movies to choose from, I'm sure I'll never be able to fit them all in. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

Also, let me know how you'd vote in that election. I know you don't know where I stand on all the issues, but that's not important now. Just keep in mind that we're gonna get the guns. Today we celebrate our Independence Day! I'm Aaron Peck and I approve this message.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Question of the Week: The Stuff of Dreams

You have the chance to meet someone with whom you can have the most satisfying love imaginable--the stuff of dreams. Sadly, you know that in six months the person will die. Knowing the pain that would follow, would you still want to meet the person and fall in love? What if you knew your lover would not die, but instead would betray you?

We've stumbled into a Nicholas Sparks novel. As someone who has never really been in love and never had that kind of love returned, it will be easy for me to fall back on that cliche. "It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." Since I've never experienced that kind of loss, then I have no idea how much pain that would cause.

But the point of these questions is that they're hypothetical. They're supposed to make you think. How would you handle the situation, it doesn't matter if you have something to compare it to or not. So I'm gonna say I'd go for the love. Why not? I think if I was the one about to die, I'd like to spend my last six months in a true love situation. And if the girl I'm with is about to die, then I would hope I could play some role in making her last days on earth as happy as possible. Yeah, it would hurt when she dies, but eventually the grief would subside and I'd be able to look back on those six months that we were able to be together.

If it's the betrayal thing, rather than death, I'd avoid the relationship. Trust is something that's really hard to build. And people tend to avoid future relationships if they are betrayed in the past. I wouldn't want to lose faith in all women just because of one stupid girl's lack of integrity. So that's my answer. Yes and no.

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

Thursday, October 09, 2008


You see that? It's a legitimate fear. I'm just glad I don't have it quite as bad as this lady. But I actually do feel bad for her.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pa Kent

Jonathan Kent passed away today. He was 69 years old.

Reports out of Smallville, Kansas reveal that his farm was attacked by an intergalactic terrorist known only as Brainiac, a foe whom Superman has grappled with numerous times in the past. During the ensuing attack, Jonathan suffered cardiac arrest. He is survived by his wife, Martha, also of Smallville; a son, Clark, of Metropolis; a daughter-in-law, Lois Lane, also of Metropolis.

Jonathan has been described by friends and loved ones as a hard worker and a man of good moral fiber. These characteristics and many others are traits that he instilled in his son, who has gone on to become the world's greatest superhero. Don't tell anyone though, that part is a secret.

Kent certainly knew how to take one for the team. Oddly enough, this is the seventh time Mr. Kent has died. The first time was shortly after he was introduced to the world in 1939. In 1978 his death was caught on film in Superman: The Movie. Aside from his actual deaths, Jonathan experienced near death after a heart attack he suffered in 1993, due to the stress of losing his own son, who later also returned to life. What a crazy world.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Going Dark

A couple weeks ago, Nicole said that she was thinking about going dark. I knew she was talking about coloring her hair, but I asked if she meant "going dark" the way someone like Jack Bauer would "go dark." For those of you who don't watch 24 and aren't hip to that lingo, to go dark would be to cut all ties and break communication.

This gave Nicole the idea to test herself. To see if she could go 24 hours without her cell phone or computer. Not exactly going dark in the Jack Bauer sense, but in today's information-based world, going a full day without a text message or internet could be crippling.

Over the weekend, for some reason, Nicole decided that today would be the day that she would "go dark." Not sure why she picked a Tuesday, or why this day would hold any significance. But she says that she will go all day without using her cell phone or opening her laptop. In the past few days, Kevin and I have both said we didn't think she could do it. This, of course, only fueled that particular fire.

So, in theory, I could say anything I wanted to about Nicole today. She's not going to see it anyway. I could be mean and spread all kinds of vicious rumors. But I won't. When I was at the Greenehouse last night, she emphatically told me not to blog about a specific event which took place. An event which I promised I would refrain from writing about. Now, I could go ahead and report on this occasion, especially since I know she will not be reading about it today. But I am a man of my word. I made a promise and I intend to keep it. Besides, she'll be back on the internet machine tomorrow and I do not want to face that wrath.

I'm not saying that Nicole is particularly wrathy, but she has been known to punch me in the arm. And sometimes she hits really hard.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Two Years Later

For the rest of my life, whenever October 6 rolls around, it's going to be a more difficult day than the rest in the year. Two years ago today, Dad passed away.

I still miss him every day. I miss him as if I just lost him yesterday. But my emotions in dealing with that sense of loss and grief have evolved during the last 731 days.

More often than not, I laugh when I think about him. Little things that he used to do will come to mind and I'll just break into a grin. I'll catch myself doing something that will remind me just how much I really am like him.

Don't get me wrong, I still cry from time to time. Though it's gotten easier since his passing, it's still difficult comprehending a world where my Dad isn't. There are times when I wish I could sit down and talk with him. Times when there's so much going on in my life, I just want to hear his thoughts about the choices I'm making. Times I just want to hear what he has to say about the election or about what's for dinner or about some episode of Star Trek that I know he's seen a couple dozen times.

The afternoon of the day he died, I bought a Mark Schultz album. On it, there's a song called Until I See You Again. It's actually on the CD twice. I guess God really wanted me to hear that one. I didn't listen to the CD until late the next day. And the song brought me to tears, but did a great job reminding me of the hope that I have. It's written from the perspective of one who's just passed away, reminding his child to continue living life and knowing that they are loved. Even though the child wants so badly to see their loved one again, they are reminded not to take this time for granted, and soon enough, they'll be together again.

I don't think Mark Schultz will be reading this blog, but if he did I'd want to say thank you for that song. God has used the lyrics to serve as a reminder to myself and, I'm sure, others. I miss Dad and selfishly want him here, but I know that he's in the presence of joy. For that I am grateful.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Great Pumpkin

This article on Yahoo tells the very brief story of a man who won a pumpkin contest in California. The pumpkin that he entered weighed in at 1500 pounds. His prize: $9000.

I'm intrigued. I want to know more about this man and his pumpkin. First of all, what goes into growing a pumpkin that large? Was he or the gourd tested for anabolic steroids? And if so, would that disqualify them from this contest? Would they then have to testify before a congressional committee?

The farmer is from British Columbia. How much did it cost him to transport the great pumpkin to California? Was his prize money taxed in the U.S.? In Canada? Both? When it's all said and done, was it really worth it?

And what happens to the pumpkin now that the contest has ended? 1500 pounds of pumpkin is gonna make a lot of pie. Let's just make sure the good people at Cool Whip are prepared.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XXXIV

I love it when customers come in, and when I ask what I can do for them, they lean in close and sort of whisper, "I just have a deposit."

Why are you whispering? Is it a secret deposit? You don't want the stranger standing five feet behind you in line to know that you've had cash this whole time and now you're putting it in a secure place. What's he gonna think, "Darn, I should have robbed her when I had the chance!"

No, that's not what's going through that person's mind. Unless it's an actual bank robber, and those occasions are rare at best. All that person is thinking is they've got their own business to do and they want you to hurry with yours.

This isn't a library. There are no people sitting around studying for mid-terms. No one is going to shush you if you use your regular inside voice to say you have a deposit or a payment or you'd like to cash a check.

Now, I wouldn't go to the other extreme and shout about your business either. Though, how funny would it be if someone just strolled up to the counter and proudly announced that they wanted to deposit a $183.10 check. I'm picturing Steve Martin doing this. And he's really excited and stuck up about it.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Question of the Week: Ability

If you could wake up tomorrow with one ability or quality, what would it be?

How does one respond to this question? Well, first you have to determine what the question means. It says ability, which brings to mind some sort of super power. But then it says quality, which to me says personality trait.

Okay, I thought about saying omnipotence. But that's too easy. And it's kind of a cop out. That's like saying you have one wish and then you wish for a hundred wishes. Besides, power corrupts. Being omnipotent would make me lazy. I'd snap my fingers and be wherever I needed to be, instantly have done what needed to be done. Instead I think my one quality would be to quickly absorb and retain information. Like having a photographic memory. I think that would be awesome. It would make studying a lot easier while I'm in school. And I could impress people with my volumes of useless knowledge.

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

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I'm debating whether or not to blog about tonight's VP debate. I can't decide if I even want to watch it. I watched last week's presidential debate.

Let me clarify, I recorded last week's debate. Saturday afternoon I started watching it and got bored. It struck me that neither of the candidates could really give a straight answer to any question. So I gave it a good half hour then turned it off. Don't yell at me.

It's not that I don't care about politics in general or the issues at hand. I do care. I care about the direction this country is heading and I care about what that's gonna mean for me in a year; in five years; in thirty years. But think about it, how much pull does the president really have? How much weight is he really able to throw around?

The way I see it, Congress is the body that passes all the laws. The executive branch can make suggestions and influence people and veto bills. Am I wrong? If I am, let me know. It's been ten years since I took that high school government class, and that's about all the exposure to politics I've ever cared to have.

So will I watch the Palin/Biden debate? I'll give it a chance, just as I did with the McCain/Obama debate. I'm thinking it'll be 15 minutes tops. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


What's ridiculous is that I'm still coughing. More than two weeks after the onset of a cold or flu or whatever it was, I am still hacking. Not all the time, but there are occasions when I'll start and won't seem to be able to stop. Like right now.

And then when I have these coughing fits, I will occasionally cough so hard that it feels like something explodes inside my brain. I don't actually believe that my head will spontaneously explode. But I certainly feel like it occasionally.

Maybe I should look into getting a lung transplant. I'm sure there are people on some list who are more deserving: cancer patients, people suffering from emphysema, etc. Are lung transplants even possible? I think I saw an episode of House recently where a patient had complications from some kind of lung transplant. But that is a fictional television show.

But let me ask this, how many of those more deserving people awaiting new lungs really deserve them? I mean, who's to say they didn't spend their entire adult lives addicted to cigarettes? In those cases, they made their choices. At some point, they chose to put that first cigarette to their lips and light up.

I've never even thought about trying to smoke. But I guess I'm just as guilty. I did walk into the bathroom several times in high school, knowing full well that there would be kids in there smoking. Sometimes the smoke was so thick that it seriously hindered visibility. But I had to go really bad!

And those guys would just look at me like I was the latest narc to walk the halls of Patrick Henry. I wasn't a narc. I was much more afraid of the consequences of telling on those kids than I was of second hand smoke. Did we even know about second hand smoke in those days? Late 90s, I'm sure the phrase had been coined at that point.

If you're still hanging on to my every word and have stuck around past my incoherent rambling, I conclude by saying that I've stopped coughing now. Maybe I just needed to think things through a bit. Mind over matter my friends. Mind over matter.