Thursday, April 30, 2009


I have no idea why I'm so tired tonight. It started early too. I realize that at this point it's after 10. Most nights I manage to stay up until around midnight. Tonight I was feeling the effects of the day before 9.

To be fair, I didn't have any caffeine today. I took a Coke to work to have with lunch, but wound up drinking water instead.

I went over to the Greenehouse to play some Scrabble with Nicole. The entire time, little things were causing me to crack up laughing. That's a sure sign of exhaustion.

Another sign would be the random conversations involving our fears of childhood board games. Operation induced a fear of electrocution. Perfection was just frustrating. You have all this pressure of trying to get the right shapes in the right places under the time limit. It's just too much!

Scrabble was never very scary.

To my regular readers, I apologize if this post is somewhat pointless. 'Cause I realize it is. But I'm really very tired. Good night children.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

American Idol: 5

Here are my thought's from last night's American Idol. You can find the post here. My thoughts on tonight's episode will be close by tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LI

I'd like to dedicate this legend to one specific customer.

This woman came to the drive-thru with her daughter in the passenger seat. I slid out the drawer, made with the normal chit-chat, and she informed me that her daughter was out of deposit tickets and would like to deposit her checks (8 of them) and that she had two checks to cash herself.

Really, we're supposed to have the customer fill out their own deposit tickets. Really, that's to protect us as tellers. Even if we make no mistakes in the transaction, what's the stop a crooked client from saying that they didn't make that deposit or they deposited a different amount. We're just not a very trusting society. But I did the deposit ticket for them anyway.

Then I got to the checks. Just as I was about to ask for the woman's ID, she's waving at me from outside. By the way, we have a buzzer that can be annoying, but it's a little more dignified than hanging out your car window trying to flag me down. She asks for some blank deposit slips for her daughter. I tell her that's fine, then I ask to see her ID.

She says no.

Really? That's you're response when someone who's never seen you before is cashing a check for you? Just, flat out, no. I turned to my co-worker and asked her if she recognized the needlessly angry woman at the window. She didn't recognize her, so I was ready to refuse to cash her checks (which were in fact written to her husband), but as I turned back, she was digging through her purse. She had given in and threw her ID in the drawer. But she was clearly upset.

Once I had her license, I was able to look up her account number and saw why she was upset. This woman had no less than six accounts, each with close to $100,000. So she had a lot of money. Obviously this came with a sense of entitlement and she shouldn't have to follow the same regulations that every other customer falls under.

To this rude woman, I say this: You're no more special than any other individual that comes to my window. I will treat you with the same respect I treat someone who isn't driving a Lexus SUV. The reason I ask to see your ID is for your protection. Identity theft is possibly the fastest growing crime in the country today. Thousands of people have their finances destroyed monthly because of ID theft. If I've never seen you before, I can't just cash your checks because you say you are who you are. I don't care if you think you have more money than God, news flash, you're not God. I have no idea who you are, I'm gonna need some proof.

Also, you're lucky I cashed your checks at all. They both had your husband's name on them. He may have endorsed them, but really, he should have been with you and shown me his ID as well. See how generous I am? So while you're living in your ivory tower, pretending to be better than everyone else just because you have so much money you don't know what to do with it all, just remember that next time you come to my window, I will ask to see your ID. I'm sure, thanks to this incident, I will totally remember who you are when I see you, but I'll still ask for your ID. Deal with it.

Monday, April 27, 2009


There's a lot of talk right now about the possibility of the Swine Flu spreading across the globe and reaching pandemic proportions. So I got to thinking about the word pandemic.

It really doesn't sound like such a terrible word. Well, knowing exactly what it means, yeah, it's horrifying in a The Stand kinda way. But it sort of sounds like something that could easily be used in a Pizza Hut ad campaign.

For a limited time, buy a medium one-topping pan pizza and you can get a second one for just a buck! It's a PANDEMIC!

And in the commercial, you could show pepperonis on a map, popping up like those little red dots that show where disease has broken out, spreading across the country.

I should so go into advertising.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


We follow so many things in our lives. Even if we don't care to admit that we're following something, chances are we're following more closely than we even realize. The question is, are we following the right things?

I'm a Christian. It's a title I've carried with me for most of my life. A lot of people lay claim to the title, whether they know what it means or not. For me, it means that I am a follower of Christ. But what does that mean?

I look back at the New Testament scriptures and see multiple examples of Jesus calling out to someone to follow him. Those men drop everything at that moment, leaving their old lives behind, and follow without question.

In other countries around the world, people are making incredible sacrifices in their lives just to become followers of Christ. These are people who risk being shunned by their families, people who risk their livelihoods, people who risk their very lives, just to call themselves a Christian.

Here in America, people can freely be Christians without risk of persecution, and we take it for granted. We don't necessarily count the cost of following Christ.

I believe that everything created comes from a Creator. Therefore, everything I have, really belongs to God anyway. So why is it so difficult for me to give up so many of the trivial things in my life to follow Christ? These are things that people around the world and throughout history have been forced to live without because of their beliefs.

What is there in my life that I can give up for the one person in all the world who was bruised, beaten, and killed for me? Maybe a better question is, what can't I give up?

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Last night was supposed to be a normal Friday night. I had planned to head over to the Greenes after work for a night of Prison Break and laundry. Those plans began to go off without a hitch. I arrived, dropped a load in the washer and even got that first load into the dryer, beginning a second load. The TV show was being recorded and things were going just fine.

And then 8:30 hit. I could have sworn I saw a bright flash outside. A split second later, the power went off. For a moment, darkness engulfed the Greenehouse, then the electricity returned. And as quickly and mysteriously as it came back into our lives, it was gone.

At the time, we adults had been debating what to get for dinner. With no power, tensions tend to rise in tight quarters with so many people, especially when children are involved. See, when kids can't be entertained by countless electrical devices, things get a little crazy. Kevin and I took off with the two oldest kids to pick up some food.

While we were out, we got a good look at the cause of the evening's festivities. A tractor-trailer made a right turn a little too tightly at the one major intersection in a small town. The nearby utility pole was splintered, causing the entire electrical grid to shut down. On the way back from the drive-thru, we passed my apartment building, which was also without power.

Progress Energy's automated line told us that the power would be restored by 10:15. Huh yeah right! Later the robot voice said 10:50. Some time after that, they said 2:15am. Not cool.

I was unable to finish my laundry that night. So I drove home, expecting to stumble into a darkened apartment. But as I turned the corner into my parking lot, I noticed lights in my neighbors' windows. Power had been restored. At least to some of us.

The Greenes regained power around 2am. All is once again right with the world.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Question of the Week: Late

When making plans, are you generally punctual or late arriving?

I'm a pretty punctual person. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I'm perpetually early to just about everything. I hate being late to anything. My philosophy in college was that if I was ever late to class, I'd rather just not show up at all. Missed a lot of classes that way. Not really, but I did hate being late. I really would rather just not go than be late. For the most part, I'm still that way. Even when I can't control the circumstances around me, like being stuck in ridiculous traffic, I hate being late to something.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Twenty Four

I despised middle school. But really, is there anyone out there who can really say they liked those years of school? Change is a traumatizing thing in someone's life and middle school brings on so many changes all at once. I mean, there's the obvious change of moving from the simplicity of elementary school to a new place where you're swallowed up by so many other students being funneled into one school from several.

Then there's the uncomfortable issue of puberty. So much growing up to do in so little time. And all those classes. Being introduced to the hallway locker. Changing clothes just to go to PE. Different teachers for every subject. The plethora of choices in the world of electives. Okay, so really that plethora just included the choice between band or wood shop. But you get the point.

Sixth grade was awful. At the time I was something of an overweight kid. Sure, the pants my mom would get me were "husky" but I knew that was just a nice way of calling me fat. I wasn't completely naive. So I had that little stigma going into middle school.

The kids at Woodrow Wilson seemed to be a little bit meaner than the ones back at Raleigh Court. Maybe it was just because most of them were kids I didn't know. They were kids I hadn't spent the last five years growing up with. So maybe that saw the new fat kid as a great new target.

Needless to say, I was picked on. A lot. But so were half the sixth graders in the school. Everyone struggles with insecurities of some kind. We wouldn't be human if we didn't. I just happened to get kind of sensitive about the bullying.

For awhile I faked illness to get out of going to school. Eventually a pattern developed and my parents didn't have to be detectives to figure out I was avoiding certain people in certain classes. Meetings were had with the principal and with guidance counselors. Suddenly all was right with the world.

Except that's not how it really works.

News flash: those meetings between parents and counselors and suspected bullies really only tend to make things worse. Don't worry, my life wasn't in danger. At least not yet. But psychologically, the harsh words began to take their toll.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

American Idol: 7 becomes 5

Last night Randy called this top 7 the best top 7 in the show's history. Really? The best? I don't think so. Don't get me wrong, this top 7 isn't bad. They all have varying degrees of vocal ability, but they're not the best of seasons past. Compared to some (not all) previous seasons, this group ranks as merely mediocre.

The most unfortunate part of the night is that it's still disco week. Also, unfortunately, last season's David Archuleta is performing. I was never a fan of that kid. But whatever.

We kick off the night by taking a look at the group preparing for tonight's group song, which has been choreographed by Paula Abdul herself. There's so much movement happening tonight, the Idols are forced to perform with headset mics. But you know, those things are little more than props. It's beyond obvious that they're back to the lip-synched singing. Maybe they realized how awful the live performance was last week and decided to go back to that old standard. Paula is so proud of her handiwork. And they're giving her flowers.

After another lame Ford video, we get to the good stuff. Lil stands and is in the bottom three. Oh, wait... no bottom three. Lil Rounds' journey ends right now. No waiting. We're forced to hear her sing the song that put her out of her misery once more.

Next we're forced into an involuntary sampling of ridiculous disco songs performed by some of their original artists. And it's some kind of bad. The first one (whose name escapes me and I don't care enough to rewind the DVR) is flat the whole time she's singing. Thelma Houston keeps throwing Simon's name into the song. She must have a thing for him. Next we're treated to KC of the Sunshine Band. I know it's said a lot, but it's said for a reason. Disco is dead. People should really stop playing Frankenstein with genre of music.

Back to live action... Kris is asked to stand. This is a no-brainer. Dude's safe. Adam stands, also a no-brainer. Safe. Danny stands and is safe. Anoop stands and is sent to the other end of the stage. Allison and Matt are all that's left and are asked to stand. Allison is the one in the bottom three. Are you kidding me, America? How on earth day do you manage to keep Matt over Allison?

Look, I'm the first to admit I'm not a big fan of the girl, but come on. She's better than Matt. She was definitely better than Matt last night. I think it's time to take the vote away from the public. American Idol should no longer be a democracy. Time to turn it into a dictatorship.

Archuleta provides a time-filling break from the real reason I'm watching this show tonight. I think I like him just as much as I did last season. Some day I'll learn to not watch the results show until 10 so I can fast forward through all the crap I don't want to watch.

And without further gilding the lily and with no more ado, Anoop is going home. I'm not too surprised here. I figured him for sixth place at the start of the top 13. Next week I'll be writing for the News & Observer's blog, so I won't be sharing my thoughts here. I'll post a link though. You'll have the chance to see what I think about the top 5.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

American Idol: 7 Again

Since Matt was saved from elimination last week, two people will be going home tomorrow night based on America's votes. It's disco week. A week where none of the judges seem to enjoy the songs because it's impossible for the contestants to pick a good disco song. That's because there are no good disco songs. In fact, I'm pretty sure the phrase "good disco song" is an oxymoron.

Lil Rounds - I'm Every Woman
Lil's in the first spot. The forgettable spot. She was already in the bottom three last week. Based on her placement tonight, she probably doesn't stand a chance. She didn't do bad overall, but the ending was a little rough. 2.

Kris Allen - She Works Hard for the Money
This is definitely a different version of the song. It's unlike anything I've heard before anyway. Was this version done by someone or is this a Kris Allen original? It's pretty good. I think it's a risk that will pay off for him. 4.

Danny Gokey - September
This isn't exactly a spectacular song, but he was able to have fun with it and show off his vocal ability. 4.

Allison Iraheta - Hot Stuff
This is different too. I'm thinking that a lot of the kids like disco about as much as I do, so they're changing up as much as they can. Starting off, I didn't think this would be very good. But once she got into the song it got pretty good. 3.

Adam Lambert - If I Can't Have You
Ryan called it "his own spin" on this song. So far, a lot of "his own spins" have just mellowed out some songs big time. This doesn't sound much different than what he did with Mad World. Am I wrong about that? So this was not bad. I think it started better than it ended. 4.

Matt Giraud - Stayin' Alive
He was doing okay for the first few lines. Until he went falsetto. I don't think it's enough to keep him alive. 2.

Anoop Desai - Dim All the Lights
Once again, I don't think it's gonna be enough to keep him out of the bottom three. 3.

I think the bottom three this week will echo last week's bottom three with Lil and Matt going home.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode L

Okay, this may turn out to be a lame story. And I know that's kind of sad, what with this being the 50th episode of Legends of the Bank Teller. But you know what? I don't care if you think it's lame.

Since moving to the new branch, I don't have much to complain about. I'm not saying I wake up in the morning and jump for joy at the fact that I get to go to work. I mean, it's still work. But it's not work for an over-bearing wench of a manager. It's work for a guy that's almost as sarcastic I am.

Since I don't have much to complain about, I just have this little anecdote that I can share.

Today a woman drove up to the drive-through and got all her items together for her transaction. Then she reached toward the extended drawer, but her hand bumped into the car's window.

She had yet to roll down the window. I stifled a laugh, 'cause I knew she could see me, and thanks to the microphone being on, she would've heard me too. But I couldn't help but wonder how stupid you have to be to think that you've put the window down when you haven't. Okay, I could see it happening if the window was incredibly clean and clear. But she had tinted glass in her car.

I guess with her window still up, she wouldn't have heard my laughter. Gotta remember that next time someone does it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Are you more careful about what you say on Sundays?

When I was in high school, for some kind of English class project, one of my classmates did a simple study on the use of profanities among the students. Again, I'm not entirely sure what the point of the project was. I can't even remember what my project was about, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't about curse words.

Through the use of her surveys, she determined that people swear less on Sundays than they do any other day of the week. I think she found that people curse more on Mondays than any other day. I don't have the statistics to back this up. And I'm not sure that there have been any truly official studies on this subject. It's just something I was thinking about.

I'm careful about the things that come out of my mouth every day. Particularly when I'm around other people. I'm careful about a lot of things regarding my temper when I'm around others. But I'm more careful about my language, because as my college friends would readily agree, language is the first thing to go when I get fed up.

Many nights in college, several of us would crowd around an X-Box and play Halo for endless hours. We would just do a four-way split-screen death-match that would start off calm. But then Dereck, who owned the system and played very regularly, would begin to systematically pick each of us off one by one with a sniper rifle. He'd hide in the shadow of a rock high up on a cliff and just take us down over and over again. Things were not so calm by this point. We'd all start shouting obscenities at each other. Not that we truly meant any of those harsh words, but it was how we released our frustrations. I'm not saying it was right, it's just how it happened.

Often times, when I find myself alone, I revert back to that sort of anger. I get frustrated when I'm behind a slow driver and say things that I would never let that slow driver hear me say. But I say them nonetheless. I'm not saying it's right, it's just how it happens.

Most of the time I feel guilty for letting some of these words escape my lips. But there are times I try to rationalize. Why should I feel bad for saying some of the things I'm saying? At some point someone decided that there were certain words that were inappropriate to say in polite society. Again, I'm not saying it's right, it's just how it happens. Sometimes.

The things that come out of our mouths are a reflection of what's in our hearts. So what does that say about the condition of my heart?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Blockbusters Revisited

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Well, almost. Summer is rapidly approaching, bringing with it the promise of unbelievable special effects, incredible action sequences, and ginormous robots. It's time, once again, for a preview of the upcoming summer blockbusters.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - May 1
There's been a lot of controversy over this movie already. Mostly because the unfinished product was somehow leaked to the internet. No, I haven't seen it yet. I'm planning on waiting for the finished product in all its digital glory. So yeah, I'm looking forward to this one. I still say the first X-Men was the best of that particular trilogy, but I'm intrigued nonetheless. I'm curious if they'll explain why Sabretooth and Wolverine are so familiar with each other in a prequel while they acted as if their encounter in X-Men was their first meeting. I don't really expect to get those kind of answers, but it'll be in the back of my mind the whole time I'm watching.

Star Trek - May 8
I'm not the kind of person that goes to sci-fi conventions dressed up like a Klingon. I'm not even the kind of person that goes to sci-fi conventions period. But I'm kind of looking forward to this one too. For as long as I can remember, I would go to the theater to see each new Star Trek movie with my Dad. I think the fourth one was probably the first that I was old enough to remember seeing. So I definitely want to see this, and the whole time I'll be wondering how Dad would feel about it. Is it something he'd like or not? I know he'd have been psyched to see it though. I mean, the man watched reruns of Next Generation and Deep Space Nine every day, even though he'd seen every single episode multiple times. So yeah, I'm in.

Angels & Demons - May 15
I read The Da Vinci Code, but not this one. From what I understand, the book that this movie is based on was written before Da Vinci. But I think the movie is being treated as a sequel. I'm not sure if I'll rush out to the theater to see this one. I wasn't all that impressed by the previous installment. Tom Hanks is still one of my favorite actors, but I'm pretty sure I'll be waiting for the DVD.

Terminator Salvation - May 21
I've never seen a Terminator film in the theater. I don't think I'm going to start now. I couldn't get into The Sarah Conner Chronicles, and it looks like that series has been canceled. So was it really a good idea to make this movie? It'll make a lot of money, I'm sure. But it won't get any of mine. This will be another one I'll get from Netflix in a few months.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - May 22
The first one was cute. But was it really worthy of a sequel? I guess when you can make a movie by putting very little thought into the story and you know it will appeal to families and could even be construed as slightly educational, it's a no-brainer that it's gonna be greenlit. Or is that greenlighted? Whatever. Another DVD.

Land of the Lost - June 5
There was a time when I was all over a Will Ferrell movie. Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and even Blades of Glory were enough to crack me up. To this day I haven't seen Semi-Pro but Step Brothers, though incredibly raunchy, was hilarious. It seems his movies are hit or miss. I was never into the old TV show, so I'm not in a rush to see this one either. I'm sure eventually I'll give it a chance.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - June 24
Without question, I'll see this opening weekend. I mean, did you even see the first one? I've said before, it's as if Michael Bay was somehow able to capture two hours of pure awesome on film. I don't want to say that I'll be disappointed with the sequel, but there's a good chance I will be. I'm just getting my hopes up way to high to be good for me.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra - August 7
Another childhood toy brought to life on the big screen. The trailer that was shown during the Super Bowl was a whole lot of let down. I was expecting something huge, but the ad revealed nothing special. The only reason we knew that it was G.I. Joe was because of the title shown at the end. We didn't get any recognizable names of the action figures that I tortured as a kid. When I found out this movie was being made, I just kept hoping that it would be half as awesome as Transformers was. I have a feeling I'll be disappointed, but I'm seeing this when it comes out.

There are many other films coming out this summer, but the rest of them don't really appeal to me, even in a DVD kind of way. So that makes approximately four movies that I'm thinking of paying money to see. I'm sure I'll see more as plans develop in the months to come. But you know, times are tight. Money doesn't flow as freely as it once did. I'm thinking of getting rid of cable. Cable! It's a crazy world we're living in these days. It's time to make the tough decisions. Happy viewing everyone!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Question of the Week: Manner

If you could choose the manner of your death, what would it be?

Seriously? Who's not going to say "peacefully in my sleep?" Yeah, on second thought, I'd much rather be dismembered by a backhoe. No, eaten alive by a tiger shark. Yeah, okay.

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

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nice Guy

Do you ever feel like throwing a cactus at a coworker? Do you ever wish you could blame it on someone that wouldn't get in trouble for it?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

American Idol: 7 remains 7

So who's going home tonight? We're not gonna find out 'til we get through the stupid Ford commercial and crappy group song.

The group song, Maniac, is not pre-recorded for a change. It's obvious that it's not pre-recorded because it's just that awful. It's really bad.

Ryan begins revealing the bottom three by asking Allison to stand. She's safe. Adam is also safe. Anoop, however, is not. We'll find out who's joining him in the bottom three after a few messages from our sponsors. And a song from Jennifer Hudson.

Kris and Lil are both asked to stand. Simon finally gets the chance to tell Kris what he thought of his performance, describing it as brilliant. Lil joins Anoop in the bottom three. Matt and Danny are all that's left and both stand up. Matt's back in the bottom three. All of them have seen the bottom before.

Anoop is sent back to the couch and is safe. We'll find out if Lil or Matt are going home after Miley Cyrus performs the same song that she's been singing on live shows for the last three weeks. I'm actually a little tired of this song now. I guess I should avoid the Hannah Montana movie for awhile.

Matt's the one that's going home. Will the judges use the save? Simon said there was one that would possibly get the save and that person would be surprised they'd use it on them. And the judges use the save. Matt is not going home.

Next week is disco week. Next week we'll get rid of two people. Peace out kids.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

American Idol: 7

Tonight we're getting a little cinematical. The contestants will be singing songs from the movies. Quentin Tarantino is the mentor tonight. Also, we find out that, due to last week's over-talking extended show, the judges will be judging the contestants two at a time. Simon's disappointed that he won't be judging all of the contestants. Poor guy.

Allison Iraheta - I Don't Want to Miss a Thing
I'm sorry, but her voice doesn't fit this song at all. From start to finish, I'm unimpressed. I don't like the arrangement of the song either. The choice of lyrics that are cut was a poor choice. 2.

Anoop Desai - Everything I Do I Do It For You
I'm not sure I like the arrangement of this one either. And Anoop sure didn't take Tarantino's direction of growling in the song. The director wanted the kid to rough it up some. Do the song like it's a scene from Pulp Fiction. Vocally he did all right, but I just didn't like the arrangement. 3.

Adam Lambert - Born to be Wild
There are a couple moments that I'm not sure about. He takes this classic song and puts his own twist on it. He can definitely perform the heck out of a song. 4.

Matt Giraud - Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman
I had been saying that this guy's been growing on me. Tonight he threw all that away. The inflections he was putting into the song were really bad. I mean, really bad. All kinds of not good. 1.

Danny Gokey - Endless Love
Danny, my choice to win, this wasn't your best performance man. Toward the beginning, it was a little rough. When he got off the chair, it got a lot better. The power behind his voice got him to the place he should've been the whole time. 4.

Kris Allen - Falling Slowly
This is a song I've never heard before from a movie I've never heard of. It was hard to judge based on never hearing it before. He did okay, but it wasn't his best song. 3.

Lil Rounds - The Rose
She's just doing too much with the song. This is a simple song. Keep it simple. That's what Tarantino told her to do. And she sure didn't listen. I mean, technically, it's not that bad. But to me, less is often more. The end was pretty rough. Maybe I spoke too soon. 2.

I know that I'm probably wrong and there will be people to disagree with me. My bottom three are Lil, Allison, and Matt, with Matt going home.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Twenty Three

During the fifth grade, my family moved into the first and only house we ever owned. Okay, the bank owned most of it, but before that, my parents had only ever rented the homes we lived in.

They bought an ancient house on Denniston Ave. I remember going to look at the house and thinking it was pretty cool. Under the back porch there was a family of kittens living there temporarily. April and I made our parents promise that we could keep them if they were still there when we moved in. They weren't.

The inside of the house looked pretty decent as well. I'm not sure what all my parents knew about the house before we moved in, but some of the facts came as a shock to me after we began living there. The entire upstairs had but one vent for the furnace. It was in the bathroom. Therefore, the bedrooms stayed pretty darn cold in the winter.

There was no central air conditioning. We actually got by pretty well on window units though. For the most part.

But I want to talk about my room for a few paragraphs. The second floor of the Denniston house consisted of a hallway, a bathroom, two true bedrooms, and a room on the front of the house that the previous owners had used as a walk-in closet. So, where's the first place you'd think a boy of 11 years of age would be most comfortable spending his nights? If you said the walk-in closet, you'd probably be wrong, but that's where I was placed anyway.

I believe the dimensions of my bedroom were 7 feet by 14 feet. Now, I will admit that I did appreciate the furniture that I was given a year or so after moving in. That furniture included a loft bed. Since my bed was up on stilts, that gave me a little more room to move around in my walk-in closet.

Remember how I said that the window a/c units we used worked pretty well? Yeah, that didn't apply to my bedroom. My room had a western exposure. This meant that for the second half of the day, also the hottest half of the day, my room was a frickin' pizza oven. Now, why wouldn't I have an air conditioner in my sweat box? For that we turn to my mother.

Mom felt that, since my room was not only facing west, but facing the front yard, we shouldn't have a clunky, ugly looking window unit hanging from one of my windows. Good idea, especially since anyone we invited over to the house came in from the back door! But it's okay to have a window unit hanging out of the window right next to the swing on the back porch. That makes a lot of sense too.

We did live there for several years, so I'm sure I'll be able to come up with some more stories from the old neighborhood.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


I wouldn't necessarily say that I scare easily. Or maybe I do and enjoy that feeling from time to time. The feeling you get after a really good jump scene in a horror movie. Or the feeling you get on a roller coaster. It's kind of a good scared.

The scary that really disturbs me though, comes from clowns. That's right. I have an irrational fear of clowns.

Once while I was in college I went home for a weekend visit. At the time, my sister was in the high school marching band, which involved itself in a number of fundraising activities. This particular weekend, she was scheduled to work the concessions stand at the civic center while the circus was in town. However, something came up and she was unable to do so. And since I had nothing better to do, my parents asked if I'd be willing to take her place. I didn't think much of it, so I said okay.

So there I was, dishing out frozen lemonade at two bucks a cup. And then there was the clown. I only saw the one that day, but that was more than enough. He kept doing laps around the coliseum, and each time he would come to my cart, he felt the need to do something to try to entertain me. Once he gave me a balloon animal. Another time he pulled an enormous novelty coin from behind my ear. On his third time around, I just told him to leave me alone. I tried to say it as calmly as I could, but I'm sure it came out in a more hateful way than I remember or care to admit.

Every time he would walk towards me, I would tense up. I knew that this clown meant me no harm, but that's not the kind of rational thought I was listening to at the time. I guess I didn't really believe that the clown would hurt me or eat me alive. But that didn't stop me from feeling really nervous.

For a long time, when people would ask why I had a fear of clowns, I would tell them that I had a bad experience at a McDonald's birthday party. I had a very elaborate story to tell too. Turns out I'm just a pretty good liar. Yeah, I had a birthday party at McDonald's when I was six, but it was very uneventful, as birthday parties go.

The reality of this fear most likely comes from the circus. As a kid, when my parents would take me to the circus, I would duck down and cover my ears to shield myself from the loud noises. Subconsciously, I suppose I associated those scary noises with the harmless clowns.

Oddly enough, loud noises don't really bother me these days. I mean, yeah, the music seems to be getting louder and more obnoxious as I get older, but I just attribute that to the fact that the popular music these days just sucks.

My fear of clowns persists. It's not as if I close my eyes and have nightmares about them. Generally, I try not to think about them at all. Generally, I do a pretty good job of that.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


To Whom It May Concern:

I heard the rumor that you no longer believe in me. Well let me take this opportunity to say that I just don't appreciate your disbelief.

This has been a difficult year for me. The economy in the United States just isn't what it was a few years ago. This makes it more difficult for me to gather the supplies I need to put together Easter baskets for all of the deserving kids out there. But I'm still doing it.

But not for you. Since you have chosen not to believe, I have chosen to give your basket to a kid that does believe. I hope you enjoy watching all the other kids munching on chocolate and jelly beans while you get nothing. See you next year. If you're lucky.

The Easter Bunny

PS - I've copied this to Santa Claus as well. Good luck with him this Christmas.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Question of the Week: Damage

While parking late at night, you slightly scrape the side of a Porsche. You are certain no on else is aware of what happened. The damage is minor and would not be covered by insurance. Would you leave a note?

Honestly I'm not sure that I would. I know that it's the right thing to do, to take responsibility for damaging someone's care. But it's just a scrape. Those things happen all the time. I've got a bunch of scrapes on my car and I've never gotten a note from a stranger taking responsibility for it. Granted, my car isn't a Porsche, but that really leads to my next point. If they can afford to own a Porsche, there's a good chance they can afford to take care of one scrape. If insurance isn't gonna cover this, that means that if I take responsibility, it's coming out of my pocket. My pocket doesn't go too deep. Pretty sure that today's economic condition would be enough to keep me from doing the right thing in this situation.

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

Thursday, April 09, 2009


As I look up in my apartment, I see various pipes that are suspended from the ceiling. Most of them I can easily determine where they come from and where they go. Those are the pipes that seemingly have a purpose.

There are two hanging above my living room. One has a vent attached to the end of it. From time to time, I can feel air being forced out of it. This leads me to assume that this is attached to my heating and air conditioning system. A smaller pipe extends from one end of my apartment to the other, going through walls and emptying its contents into the outside world. I followed this pipe and discovered that it disappears into the wall inside what would be my laundry room (if I had a washer and dryer). I'm guessing this would be the vent for the non-existent dryer.

In the bedroom, I have a similar pair of pipes. One is obviously the air. The other looks identical to the dryer vent, but I know it doesn't go to a second laundry closet. Because I only have the one. As far as I can tell, it also ends on the outside of my building, but its beginning is a mystery.

This mystery pipe travels through my bathroom and into my kitchen, but then disappears into my neighbor's apartment. I've been tempted on a number of occasions to go next door and knock, just to appease my ridiculous curiosity. My first thought is that it leads to the neighbor's dryer, but that hardly seems fair to me. Why should I have their nasty dryer air being pumped through my apartment? The way I see it, that pipe would be full of hot air. Heat tends to radiate from wherever it is contained. In theory, this makes my apartment warmer than it needs to be. I do notice my bedroom stays warmer than the living room. Coincidence?

Perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe it's not attached to the neighboring dryer unit. Maybe, instead, it's a pipe that only appears to lead to the outside world. Maybe it really empties into a miniature wormhole inside the outer wall of the building. Maybe it is a superhighway for miniature beings that traverse dimensions.

However, Occam's razor suggests that the simplest explanation is probably the correct one. That means it's most likely some kind of air vent. But, if one day, no one's heard from me for awhile, you may want to come check the apartment. I may have decided to get adventurous and cut into the mystery pipe. And then I'll either have been sucked into the miniature wormhole by the incredible gravity, or I'll be tied up by the Lilliputians that came spilling out of their miniature superhighway.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

American Idol: 8 becomes 7

I think I actually hate the results show. I really do. It's the same boring crap week after week.

In celebration of the year Simon was born, Frankie Avalon sang Venus from 1959. At first it was just a video, but then the real live Frankie hit the stage.

The group song came from American Idol's first year. But I can't remember the title of it. One thing I will say is I don't think they're lip synching tonight. I say that because it sounds awful.

We go behind the scenes of the stupid Ford commercial this week. Then we get to see the actual commercial. Just as lame as every week.

On to the results...
Adam, Kris, and Anoop all stand. Adam is safe. Kris is safe. Anoop is bottom three.

We take a break to hear a song from Flo Rida. This is another artist that I just don't keep up with. 'Cause I don't listen to the music the kids' are listening to these days. When did the music get to loud?

Back to the results...
Danny is safe. Matt is safe. Scott is bottom three. Allison and Lil stand. I'm guessing one of them is bottom three. And it's Lil.

Is this the first time I've gotten all the bottom three right this season? Feels pretty good.

Kellie Pickler provides a break in the action. And she really doesn't sound good. I hope the judges heckle her.

Lil is safe and sent back to the couch. Scott has the lowest number of votes, by a mere 30,000. He sings and does worse than last night. Good bye Mr. McIntyre.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

American Idol: 8

We're down to eight contestants, which means we're down to an hour long show. The theme tonight is songs from the year they were born. Did anyone else see the creepy guy from Fringe in the audience? No? Just me? Okay... moving on...

Danny Gokey - Stand By Me
This isn't the Ben E. King version. This is the 1980, Mickey Gilley version. I'm not familiar with this particular version. But it's really good. If Mickey's take on that is nearly that good, it may be worth checking out. I don't think it was Danny's best ever, but it was a pretty great performance. 4.

Kris Allen - All She Wants to Do Is Dance
The judges were talking about the arrangement of Danny's song, but I gotta say, I don't really care for the arrangement of this one. I mean, it doesn't do enough to diminish Kris' actual talent, but it doesn't help him out either. 3.

Lil Rounds - What's Love Got to Do With It?
It almost seems like she's trying to be Tina Turner with this performance. But she's really not pulling it off. I mean, it's not horrible, but there are some pitch issues early on. Toward the end it gets a little better, but not a whole lot. 2.

Anoop Desai - True Colors
You'd think that someone whose team just one the NCAA championship would be a little more upbeat. But this performance is just boring. It's like Anoop is stealing Scott's MO. There at the end he added some color to the song, but it wasn't great. 3.

Scott McIntyre - The Search is Over
Here's a shock. Scott isn't sitting behind a piano tonight. Sure didn't see that coming. In fact, he's playing the electric guitar. I'll say this, the boredom I usually feel in watching him perform is not what I'm feeling now. But I can't necessarily say that his performance is any better. It's just okay. 3.

Allison Iraheta - I Can't Make You Love Me
Her voice is perfect for this song. I think I've said before that I've never really been a fan of this girl. But I can't deny that she has a talent and it really shows with this performance. I don't normally get blown away by a slow song, but that was kind of awesome. 5.

Matt Giraud - Part Time Lovers
This is another that turns out to just be okay. The performance has some good, some bad. 3.

Adam Lambert - Mad World
Okay, I backed up the video three times and still didn't catch the title of the song from Seacrest. He needs to stop announcing stuff among the audience. They start screaming too loudly and drown him out. Listening to the song, I don't recognize it. I assume it's called Mad World. Should I know this song? '82... Sounds depressing... Is this emo before emo was a genre? Once again, this kid's talent can't be denied. 4.

My bottom three are Lil, Anoop, and Scott. Of those three, it's really a toss up as to who should go home. Based on tonight, I'd say Lil, but I think she's got the votes to keep her in. We'll find out tomorrow.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


A couple weeks ago I stumbled upon a blog titled Sunday Scribblings. Each week they post a writing prompt, giving writers the opportunity to join together to write about the same subject on Sunday. You can click on that link and find links to what others have written. This weekend, the good people at Sunday Scribblings ask "What have you got to celebrate?"

I don't think of myself as a complainer. I'm sure I have my moments, and I'm sure there are people who would disagree with me, saying that I complain often. But I really don't think I do. And I believe that's because I'm not much of a worrier. Again, I have my moments, but for the most part I just don't sweat stuff.

So when I look at my life, I know that I have a lot to celebrate about. I could look back at the various years of my lifetime and find all those blessings, but I just want to stick with the last few months.

I live in a town that has a pretty decent climate. It may be a little warmer than I like in the summer, but it isn't completely unbearable. I hear some people complain about the amount of rain we've been getting lately, but that's not something you'll hear from me. When I first moved here, North Carolina was in the midst of one of its worst droughts in history. So every time it rains, there should be a celebration.

As an adult, I witnessed my own family falling apart. After my parents' divorce, the concept of family became a foreign thing to me. Since moving to North Carolina, I have been adopted into a new family. The Greenes are a family that have blessed me in more ways than they can possibly know. I just hope that somehow, some way, I'll be able to repay the favor. Any time I'm invited to share a meal or spend some time with my new family is a cause for celebration.

When I made the decision to drop out of seminary, I was seeking a place to live. The one place that I knew I could truly afford had a waiting list and I was five deep. At the time, I thought there would be no chance of receiving a phone call telling me something was available. Two weeks after I put my name on the list, I got that phone call. For under $500 a month, I'm living in one of the most awesome apartments I've ever seen. Every time I unlock my door, I should be celebrating.

For the last year and a half, I've had to scrape by on part-time income, and supplementing that with my savings account. As 2009 approached, I knew I needed to change my circumstances and soon. This meant I would either need to search for a full-time job or a second part-time position. My savings is nearly depleted, but I began my full-time teller job last Wednesday. And now, every time I make the drive downtown, I should celebrate.

I'm not an emotional person. I'm not one to get excited over most things. So when people look at me, they may assume I'm an unhappy individual. But I'm not. I'm a lot happier than I look. I'm a lot happier than I act. Just because my face may not be showing a grin from ear to ear doesn't mean I'm not feeling the smile. Just because I'm not leaping up and down in excitement, doesn't mean I'm not feeling the joy. I have a lot in my life to be grateful for and an awful lot for which to celebrate. You may not be aware of it at all times, but trust me, I am.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Old Book

On one of my days off I had some time to kill. On those days off, that was really the only kind of time I had. Most days I would spend time reading or watching movies or surfing the internet, just escaping into some kind of entertainment that would make the seconds tick away until it was time to go back to work. It's not that I looked forward to going back to work. But work is something I was getting paid to do. I wasn't paid to sit on my couch and rewatch Back to the Future for the 83rd time.

So on that particular off day, during that particular time kill spree, I found my way to a used bookstore. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, I was just looking. I'm one of those guys that likes stories. And even though the means of printing books these days is far more accurate than it was in the good old days, older books still seem to be more important. It's almost as if, by being older, those books have a closer connection to the author. As if, by holding on to those antique texts, you can obtain a clearer meaning from the writer's words.

Most used bookstores don't carry anything out of the ordinary. In fact, most of what you'll find are books from maybe ten years ago with torn dust jackets or missing covers. I found myself walking down the aisle marked MYSTERIES, glossing over dozens of innocuous novels. But then something caught my eye. On the top shelf, I noticed an old, leather-bound book that just didn't seem to fit in with the others.

Curiosity grabbed hold of me and I couldn't help but reach up and grab hold of this volume. Immediately, the most striking thing about it was there was no title; not on the spine and not on the cover. From what I could tell, it was just a book. It didn't glow. I didn't open it up and get whisked away to some fantastic far away land. But I did open it up.

Upon flipping through the first few pages I noticed the smell. It was that smell that you only experience when you go into your grandparents' attic. A strange mixture of cedar and moth balls and ancient dust. In a way, it's as if I had been transported back to a place I knew, but hadn't experienced for many years.

Those first few pages were blank. There was no copyright, no authorship, and still no title. Then I came across the handwritten words that shook my very foundation.

My Son,
I can never fully express how deeply sorry I am. I can never expect you to forgive me either. I've made many mistakes in the span of my life, but I've always done everything with your best interests at heart. My only true regret is that I haven't tried to contact you sooner.
I'm fighting a losing battle now, but I couldn't quit this fight until I let you know, somehow, just how much I love you. In spite of everything, I have always considered you the greatest blessing in my life. I guess a boy just needs his mother.
The pages in this book contain the story of our lives, your mother's and mine. I hope that you'll read them and find it in your heart to forgive me, even if it's long after I've gone. Good-bye, son.

Before I could realize what was happening, I saw a tear hit the page I was reading. I could only assume the letter was written from an ailing father to his estranged son. I'm not sure why that one page touched me as deeply as it had. Perhaps I was missing my own father and wishing I had one more chance to tell him I loved him.

It didn't seem like this book would be a mystery, but I was intrigued nonetheless. I wanted desperately to find out about the man who wrote that letter. What choices did he make that caused his son to be so far away from him? Had something happened to the boy's mother? Had he blamed his father?

The book had no price on it. I had hoped that meant it was free, but the cashier charged me five dollars anyway. I figured a true story about real lives would be well worth that small price.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Question of the Week: Anyone

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as your dinner guest? as your close friend? as your lover?

As a dinner guest, I think I'd actually like to invite President Obama over. I'm not gonna sit here and say I agree with all of his politics or his policies, but he seems like someone who'd be a nice guy and a decent conversationalist. As far as close friends go, I don't need anymore friends. Correction, I don't want anymore friends. I think the friends I have are just fine enough for me. And lover? I'm hoping Carrie Underwood is keeping her dance card open.

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

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XLIX

I've been on the new job for two days now. And thus far, things are pretty great. Okay, I've traded in a convenient local part-time position for a long drive and a full-time job. So very worth it.

Here are some of the benefits that have come about since moving to my new branch:

There is a customer that regularly comes in and brings Krispy Kreme doughnuts for the bank employees. May God bless that man.

There is another customer that hooks the bank employees up with free passes to advance screenings of upcoming movies. I'm really hoping he comes through with an advance showing of the new Transformers movie.

There seems to be no end to the attractive women from NC State who happen to frequent this branch.

We get to listen to music while we work. This makes the environment so much more pleasant.

So far, there has been no hassling from my new manager about ridiculous sales goals, nor do I expect that to happen. At least not as psychotically as my former manager.

Did I mention the hot girls that come into the bank on a regular basis?

My co-workers seem to be pretty nice too. One of them shares my sister's name, and sometimes when I close my eyes, I'd swear she was Kelly from The Office. She doesn't look like her at all, just sounds exactly like her.

So I like the new place where I'm working. It may just be a new car smell kind of thing. It's only been two days, so maybe, eventually, that new car smell will wear off. Hopefully it'll stick around for awhile.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

American Idol: 9 becomes 8

I'm happy with the group song tonight. Journey's Don't Stop Believin'. Good stuff. Still, obviously, pre-recorded. Next we get to see what the contestants go through during the week. Photo shoots, stupid Ford commercials, rehearsals. Good times. Hey, then they do really bad impersonations of each other.

Finally we get to some of the results. Megan stands. Matt stands. Kris stands. These three are sent to the far side of the stage. Adam stands. Lil stands. Allison stands. They are sent to the middle of the stage. Scott, Danny, and Anoop come down to the right side of the stage. Is one of the groups the bottom three.

David Cook, last year's idol, sings live and is presented with a platinum record. Back to the results. Ryan goes over to Kris and informs him that he is safe. Matt is safe, though he gets a little confused, thinking he has to take a seat on one of the stools, not the couch. Megan goes to the stools. So it looks like one out of each of these groups will be in the bottom.

Lil is up next and is safe. Ryan walks to Allison and tells her that she is in the bottom three. This means Adam is safe. In the final group of three, Ryan begins with Danny. He is safe. Ryan then walks Scott back to the couches and Anoop takes a walk to the stools.

I'm only 29, but this may be showing my age, who the crap is Gaga? I sure did fast forward through that. Back to the bottom three. Allison is immediately safe. Anoop is also revealed to be safe and Megan is going home. Well, she'll be singing for her safety. And she's not safe. 'Bout bloody time.