Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paranormal Activity

It's Halloween. And in honor of this traditionally frightening day, I bring you my review of the current trendy scary flick Paranormal Activity.

Apparently, this movie has been around for awhile, but only recently reached wide release. To be honest, I hadn't heard much about it. I would see headlines about it on some other blogs but I never really paid much attention. It was when I started seeing blurbs like "scariest movie ever" that I started taking a closer look.

Last Monday, on a whim, I decided to catch a matinee since I was getting off work early. Yes, I went to a scary movie in the middle of the day. But I went alone, so that really ups the creepiness factor.

I don't know that I would call it the "scariest movie ever," but it's right up there with the real scary ones. And it's the good kind of scary. It's not the blood and guts that a lot of horror film makers tend to throw in just to get a cheap thrill.

And really, this movie was nothing but cheap thrills. The whole thing was filmed in the director's own home with one camera and a budget of just over $11,000. Needless to say, it's drawn a lot of comparisons to The Blair Witch Project, another low-budget hit that scared the crap out of me.

Paranormal Activity follows a few weeks in the lives of Katie and Micah, a young couple who have recently moved in to a new home together. Micah initially purchases his camera in hopes to catch on film some of the strange phenomena that has been happening in the house. As the skeptic of the story, he's hoping to find evidence of the haunting that his girlfriend claims has followed her since the age of 8.

It doesn't take long before the camera begins catching that evidence. As things progress, Micah seems unconcerned while Katie grows more and more terrified. After an invited psychic comes to diagnose the problem, it only spurs Micah on to attempt to communicate with the haunting spirit. Only, according to the psychic, the victims aren't dealing with a ghost or the spirit of a departed loved one. They're dealing with a violent and malevolent demon who has attached itself to Katie. It doesn't matter where they go or what they do, this thing would continually find her and haunt her.

Their psychic friend refers them to a demonologist that should be able to help with their problem. However, Micah refuses to let Katie call him, and is adamant that they can deal with this on their own. Things only get worse from there. Small noises and the sounds of footsteps become inhuman screams and slamming doors. Though Micah was warned not to use a Ouija board to communicate with the demon, he gets one anyway. This opens the door for the demon to become even more volatile.

Things eventually come to a head in the climactic scene where... wait, I don't want to give it away. Let's just say that the end was just creepy enough to keep me from falling asleep right away on Monday night. I didn't experience any paranormal activity of my own, but that didn't stop my mind from playing a few tricks whenever I tried to close my eyes. But don't worry, eventually I fell asleep without incident, and the next night I slept like a baby.

So if you like a good scare then this is definitely a flick worth seeing. You just have to remember to put it out of you mind once it's over. Otherwise you'll have a sleepless night and you'll imagine noises that might not actually be there. But if you really want to know what happens in your home while you sleep, you could always set up a camera like Micah did. But I can't say that turned out very well for him.

Was that a spoiler? Sorry...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Question of the Week: Alone

Do you feel ill at ease going alone to either dinner or a movie? What about going on a vacation by yourself?

I do dinner and movies alone all the time. Well, not all the time. Money's tight. But I've never gone on vacation alone. For the last few years, when I've taken vacation time and actually gone somewhere, it's usually been to stay with someone I know. My last few vacation spots have been places where my friends live. But I have thought about going on a real vacation by myself. I don't necessarily think it would be a bad thing. It just costs money. And, again, that's kinda tight right now.

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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXV

Two things tonight...

A couple days ago I was approached by my manager and asked if I'd be willing to help out for a few hours at a different branch. I don't do well in new places, so I asked if I could say no. Basically, I had no choice in the matter.

Later that day, we found out that the branch I was scheduled to work in had just been robbed. Now, that's not the reason they needed the extra help, it was just an unhappy coincidence. Not only was that branch robbed, it was robbed by a guy brandishing loaded rifle. Said criminal then proceeded to shoot at people outside the bank as he made his getaway. Thankfully no one was hurt.

Yesterday, my manager asked me if I was still willing to work there today, or was I too afraid after the previous day's robbery? That wasn't an issue. The way I see it, lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice. At least not two days later.

But I did wear my Superman tie today, just in case a theft deterrent was needed. And if that didn't work, then the 75-year-old rent-a-cop standing at the door with his arms crossed over his chest certainly would have done the trick. No one wants to tangle with any of that.

Thing number 2... And speaking of ties...

Remember last week how I decided not to wear a tie to work and I felt like I had upset the natural order of things? Today my manager came up to me and said he'd made a command decision, which will be in effect until the day when and if someone says something to force him to change his mind. I will no longer be required to wear a tie. I'm sure I'll pull one out on occasion. Seems like a waste to have all those ties in my closet and never utilize them. Especially those fun Christmas ties that only get worn once a year. But for the most part, I will be taking him up on that business casual offer.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Truth in Advertising

Here are a couple commercials that are pretty fun to watch. Just give them a chance. Nothing like local commercials...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I spent the weekend in Bluefield, the home of Bluefield College, my great alma mater. While I've visited the town now and then, I've managed to avoid Homecoming. It's not because I have anything against the event itself. It's just that, generally, not too many folks from my generation make the trip back. It's nice to see the few folks that still live in Bluefield, but it's nicer to see them when there isn't so much going on.

This time, however, I was drawn back to the school to participate in this year's alumni choir. The big draw for me was the fact that Chris Sheppard was returning to direct the choir. Dr. Sheppard was the director of Bluefield Singers for my first two years, and director of the audition choir, Variations, during my junior and senior years. At the end of that fourth year, he broke the news that he was leaving Bluefield for Wisconsin to begin work on his doctorate.

My first experience with Dr. Sheppard wasn't necessarily a good one. During my sophomore year I decided to join Bluefield Singers. Early in the semester, during a rehearsal, Clint (a fellow tenor) and I were joking around while Dr. Sheppard was trying to conduct. As the choir continued singing (as we should have been), Dr. Sheppard walked around and told us that he intended for everyone to be singing. I felt pretty bad about that for quite some time.

But it was never bad after that. Chris Sheppard was the kind of professor that grew, for many of us, from a teacher to a friend. There are many memories and stories that I could share, but I'll save those for another time. Needless to say, the chance to sing in a choir under his leadership once again was impossible to pass up.

I arrived in town Friday evening in time for our first rehearsal. These alumni choir get togethers are something of a crash course. Current students have little trouble picking up the music, as their current conductors are no doubt having them learn it in advance. But many times, the alumni who return are seeing this music for the first time in many years, maybe for the first time ever.

Thankfully, we were given music selections that we had performed during my time in Variations. It was exciting to see several others from my time. At the same time, it was disappointing to find out that there were those who couldn't make it. But that certainly didn't stop us from having a great time.

Friday night, after everything had calmed down a bit, a group of us went to Macado's. Back in the day, this was a very popular restaurant for hungry students at Bluefield. Part of that reasoning was because it was the only realistic choice, unless one wanted to drive 20 minutes away to eat in Princeton. These days, Bluefield has its own Applebee's and Bob Evans, as well as a plethora of other choices. The Macado's that once was is no more. Things have gone down hill. I could continue to complain about the service at the once great restaurant, but that would make it sound, again, like we didn't have a great time.

Saturday morning led to another rehearsal, which prepared us for that night's performance at the alumni dinner/dance. As a group, we flocked to another traditional restaurant, Bellacino's. While we were there, we were joined by Andy and his family. I rode back to the campus with Andy, where Mark gave us a tour of the new dorm, East River Hall. As impressive as the building is, I gotta say, it kinda looks like a hospital. Mark was disappointed that I wasn't more excited about the new building. I'm glad that Bluefield College is doing well enough to need a new dormitory, but being inside the building just didn't excite me. I think it's because there are no memories for me there, no nostalgia. And it looks like a hospital. Sure would've been nice to have air conditioned rooms back in the day though.

Finally we came to the event that we had been building up to: the alumni dinner/dance. The first song we sang was the school song, and it was somewhat moving to see the older generations stand to their feet and sing along. Overall, I think our performance went pretty well. For me, it wasn't so much about perfecting these songs, it was about singing along with voices that I hadn't sung with in years. I miss those days. Not enough to want to go back and relive them, but it's nice when opportunities like this arise and we're able to reminisce with old friends.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Greatest Hits: Tales From the Qwik Pack & Ship, Chapter 4

Originally published 12/15/2007:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 25, 2009


When he was a kid, he was constantly picked on. Being the youngest, the smallest, and the smartest in his class made him a target for the older kids. The first time he was beaten up after school, the lead bully gave him a black eye. When the teacher saw the mark on Wilson's face, she asked him what happened. Wilson refused to say who had hit him, knowing that telling on the bullies would only make life for him more miserable.

For a week, the older kids left him alone. Part of the truce was out respect for Wilson, for keeping his mouth shut. Part of it was to give his face time to heal. After some time passed, the beatings began anew. This time they were more frequent. This time they avoided his face. It was then that Wilson discovered that, at the very least, these moronic neanderthals could learn from their mistakes. Any cuts or bruises that Wilson suffered from were well hidden by his clothing.

Eventually, Wilson had had enough. As small as he was, he knew there was nothing he could do physically to gain the upper hand. He knew he couldn't say anything to anyone of authority, that would be counter-productive. So Wilson decided that his best bet would be a weapon. Something that he could use against just one of his tormentors, showing the rest that he was not to be trifled with anymore.

One morning, toward the end of his 4th grade year, Wilson carried a baseball bat with him to the neighborhood bus stop. He generally expected to receive his beatings at that spot after being dropped off in the afternoons. Wilson hid the bat under some nearby bushes, counting down the hours until it would be needed.

Most school days, Wilson tried to avoid his traditional group of bullies. He never wanted to provoke them into dishing out more pain that was the norm. But on that day, he took every opportunity to do just that. He made clever jokes at the expense of their leader. He "accidentally" bumped into them as they stood in the cafeteria line. The dirty looks he received let him know that he was in for the thrashing of a lifetime. That's just what he wanted.

He was first off the bus when they arrived at his neighborhood. He quickly made for his hiding spot. As soon as he grabbed his aluminum baseball bat, he turned around and saw five huge kids ready to pounce. He watched as the biggest one's face changed from an angry expression to a smirk. "Whatcha gonna do with that? You actually thinkin' 'bout fightin' back for once? I thought you were smarter than that dummy!"

That was all Wilson needed. He didn't wait for them to make the first move. He charged forward and aimed for the biggest one's knees. Two of the bullies took off immediately. The other two lackeys were crowding around their wounded leader. Wilson looked down on his would-be attacker, a look of horror frozen on his face. He dropped the bat and ran for his house.

He couldn't believe what he had just done. When Wilson finally found himself in his bedroom, he through himself down on his bed and began to cry. He had never cried that much before, even after the countless scrapes and bruises he had received throughout the school year.

Wilson was never blamed for what happened that day. His enemy never pointed a finger at him. But he also never walked without a limp again. For the rest of his school days, Wilson was reminded of the horrible thing he had done as a child. The feeling of shame that followed him through the years caused him to become even more withdrawn from his classmates.

Eventually he apologized to the bully that had caused him so much agony. The kid who now had a bum knee accepted Wilson's apology, but it still wasn't enough to remove that shame from his life. Some regrets, it seems, never completely go away.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Out of Town

I'm in Bluefield this weekend for my alma mater's homecoming. So instead of bringing you some original material, I'm giving you a couple unoriginal things. One is a pretty hilarious video that was shown to me by some old college friends. The other is a link to another blog. It's something written by Chad Revelle and it says a lot of things that I've been feeling lately. So, first the link to the serious, then the funny... And be sure to watch the guy's face, it's pretty good...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Question of the Week: Heat

One hot summer afternoon, while walking through a parking lot at a large shopping center, you notice a dog suffering badly from the heat inside a locked car. What would you do?

Well, my first thought would be to smash the windows in the car so that the dog could once again breathe some fresh air. Then I'd get some water for the poor pooch. But, knowing how no good deed goes unpunished, I'm sure the dog would jump out of the broken window and attack me like the car vandalizer that I had become. That would make me rethink the whole scenario. Those Chihuahuas really know how to hurt. If it was really hot, to the point that even I felt it was inhumane for someone to leave an animal without cracking the window, I might call the police. I'm not exactly what you'd call an animal rights activist, but leaving your Chihuahua in the car in the dead of August just seems a little mean. Can't you shove the dog in your purse like everyone else?

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

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Disaster Averted

This morning as I was approaching 60 miles per hour on the open road to the workplace, I noticed the hood of my car vibrating in a not so good way. As my mind flashed to a scene from Tommy Boy, I shouted a PG-13 kind of word and pulled over to the side of the road.

Yesterday I had opened her up to check the oil, as a good motorist should from time to time. Apparently, I failed to properly close her back up. Somehow I drove around all afternoon and into the evening without noticing that the hood was partially open.

There I stood on the side of the road closing the hood as it should have been done nearly 24 hours before. And I did this because I assumed that having the hood fly up blocking the view of the driver would not be as funny in real life as it is in the movies.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXIV

Was today weird for anyone? It was my fault. I'm sorry. I upset the natural order of things, but I really enjoyed it.

Today is a Wednesday, and I went to work without a tie. I'll let the appropriate shock set in.

Yesterday, the branch manager, Charles, came to work dressed as if it were the casual Friday. He was only planning to be at work 'til noon since he was taking his family to the fair. This prompted me to ask if I could dress similarly today, since I was only scheduled to work for 3 hours. He said he had no problem with it.

In fact, this sparked a conversation about the pointlessness of ties. It seems unfair that men should have to wear ties every day and only have one day without that traditional noose. Women, on the other hand, seem to be able to wear whatever they want five days a week. Personally, I've found little to no difference between what the women I work with wear on Fridays as opposed to the rest of the week.

So today became my social experiment. No one said a word to me about the lack of neck wear. Right after I got there, I did get a look from a customer. Her eyes kind of said, "Who do you think you are, not wearing a tie on a Wednesday?" Other than that, I really got no reaction.

But I'm pretty sure I'll be wearing a tie tomorrow. It just felt weird without it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Thirty Six

Before entering the 9th grade, I received a letter inviting me to take part in a program called The Center. The Center was a set of classes consisting of the humanities. If I chose to participate I would spend my freshman, sophomore, and junior years in advanced English and Social Studies classes.

When I was in elementary school, I was invited to take part in a special class called "Plato," named after the ancient Greek dude. Of course, I had no idea at the time that's who it was named for. In fact, I assumed it had something to do with Play-Doh. Not sure why they'd want me for an advanced class in elementary school when that's what I thought it was. The point is, I turned it down. I thought that, by joining up with a special class, I'd have to give up hanging out with the friends I'd come to be close to in my last few years of school. Looking back, I wish I had joined up. I'm not sure how different my school experience would have been had I taken those advanced classes, but I'm sure I would have managed just fine with new friends.

So when that similar opportunity came along in high school, I took it. The Center classes introduced me to a larger challenge than I would have faced in typical English or Geography classes. There were certain books that the students needed to read and report on. There were certain activities that students were expected to take part in. And there were volunteer hours that were required of students.

I always thought it was kind of funny to have forced volunteer work. Seems kind of like slave labor. But it was actually a good thing. I spent the better part of my volunteer hours working for the local public library. Mostly I would shelve books and scrape due date stickers off the backs. That summer before the freshman year I helped out with a children's program which turned out to be a lot of fun.

The Center also afforded participating students the opportunity to go on awesome field trips. In the fall of that 9th grade year, we took a trip to Jonesborough, Tennessee for the annual Storytelling Festival. All these years later, I look back on that trip as an awesome experience and have always said I'd like to go to the festival again. I have yet to make the return trip.

In the Center classes I was able to make new friends with people that I never would have met had it not been for those classes. For all of the difficulties I faced in the classwork, the benefits were definitely worth it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Greatest Hits: A Time to Dance

Originally published 10/21/2007:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 18, 2009


How does the phenomenon of the junk drawer occur?

There are so many items that come into people's lives that are entirely unnecessary to own, yet they're so insistent on keeping them. Things like the souvenir shot glasses from Hard Rock Cafe or the set of novelty playing cards.

It doesn't seem like people set out to intentionally set aside one drawer in the house where all these pieces of memorabilia end up. Yet somehow it happens. Whether it's an extra drawer in the kitchen that wasn't needed for utensils or the drawer in the nightstand next to the bed, somehow these objects of curiosity manage to migrate to those places.

These things go into these drawers as if they're in hiding and are not thought of for months, even years. Then one day, the owner wakes up and wonders what happened to those Chinese handcuffs he got from Chuck E. Cheese when he was eight. Funny enough, that object can be found in the designated junk drawer under a stack of appliance instructions, yo-yos, and super bouncy balls.

But by then it's far too late. The junk drawer has taken on a life of its own. It is an entity unto itself. And as much as is thrown into it, there always seems to be room for more. More junk is thrown in when it should be thrown away.

But we're addicted to our stuff. It would be interesting to see what sort of psychological profiles could be gathered just from looking at people's junk drawers. What sort of insights would we see?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Better Living Through Science

It's been a long day and I've sort of neglected writing anything. So I leave you with this clip from one of the funniest shows on TV, 30 Rock.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Question of the Week: Insight

After a medical examination, your doctor calls and gravely says you have a rare lymphatic cancer and only a few months to live. Five days later, she informs you that the lab tests were mislabeled; you are perfectly healthy. Forced for a moment to look death in the face, you have been allowed to turn and go on. During those difficult days you would certainly have gained some insights about yourself. Do you think they would be worth the pain?

I'm not sure I would consider those few days to be painful. I would think it a gift to be faced with one's own mortality. We all know that we're going to die someday, yet we live our lives as if we're immortal. Maybe it's not that we feel immortal, but we fear that mortality. But when you know for certain that the end of this life isn't far away, that fear can be taken away. Sure it would be easy to slip into a funk and just stay depressed about dying. But what's the point of that? You've just got a little bit of time left. Why not live it up? Guess that's something to really think about though, since none of us knows when that moment will really come.

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

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

Last weekend I finished reading The Time Traveler's Wife. The first time I heard of the story was when I began seeing commercials for the film version. I was intrigued. As a lifelong Back to the Future fan, I'm always interested in something involving time travel.

Well Nicole bought and read the book some time ago. She then loaned the book to me, claiming that it had made her cry more than any book she'd read. At least I think she said that. I know it was something similar to that. I'm paraphrasing I'm sure. I'm also sure, that if I'm wrong, she'll make it known in the comments.

Anyway, I went into the book with the foreknowledge that things would be sad at some point. And with it being a sci-fi/romantic drama, yes, there are some sad moments. But I didn't cry.

Overall I found the book very entertaining. Audrey Niffenegger writes the book from the perspectives of both the time traveler (Henry) and his wife (Clare). What's really impressive is that she's able to write from their perspectives at different ages, particularly Clare as a small child, giving all the information in run-on sentences kind of like what I'm doing now.

I'm curious to see the movie now that I've finished the book. Unfortunately, it didn't do very well in the box office and has long since vanished from theaters. Thus, I wait for the DVD release. If only I could travel to the future, then I could just Netflix it right away. Or I could go to the past and see it while it was still in the cinema.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I feel that I can admit that I have some anger management issues. I've made it no secret on this blog that I have a tendency to bottle things up and then, in private, explode for no apparent reason.

Most of the time, when I get angry, that feeling is not directed at anyone or anything in particular. Most of the time, my anger is directed at nameless, faceless customers or random drivers on the road. I'm not saying it's right, but that's just how it normally happens.

Last night I got angry. And my anger was most decidedly directed at a particular person. My anger last night was also directed at an organization. I will not be throwing out any titles, nor will I name names, but those of you in my personal life may read this posting and draw your conclusions. I only ask that you maintain the anonymity of the object of this anger.

Over the last few weeks, events have continually occurred that have been extremely irritating. Okay, it's been more than irritating, but I've been doing my best to keep my nose out of it. But the things that have been happening and the things that have been said have been malicious and hurtful to people I care about.

Would you believe that the source of all these malicious and hurtful things is a leader in a church?

Look, I realize that the church is made up of people. I heard a wise man once say, "If you find the perfect church get out of it before you mess it up." The point there is that people are imperfect. People make mistakes. Therefore, a church is also prone to be led by people who make mistakes.

But church leaders should not be beyond reproach. When they make mistakes, shouldn't it be our responsibility as the church body to call them out? It's so easy for people in leadership positions to allow pride to seep in. When that happens, it's real easy to consider oneself better than the people they're leading.

What happens then, when these church leaders refuse to accept the fact that they messed up; that they are actually human? What happens when, instead of owning up to their mistakes, they attack the very people they should be reaching out to the most?

Letters have been sent. Meetings have been had. Yet nothing seems to have changed. As more factual information about the way these leaders have dealt with the situation at hand has come out, I've just gotten angrier. Instead of reaching out to a hurt member of their flock, they've decided to cast them out, all because they're afraid of what will happen to their precious reputation if other members discover how lax they've been in loving the unloved.

At this point I don't know what to do, personally. I feel that I am well within my rights as a Christian and as a human being to be as angry as I am. But I'm having a hard time trying to determine what to do with this anger. One of those ignored letters that I mentioned earlier was sent by me, so obviously, the written word would have no effect. I work during the day, so strolling into the church office during business hours is out too.

Something needs to be done. It's just not right for someone to stand up in front of a congregation and preach the Word of God while refusing to exhibit the love of God.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Thirty Five

In 9th grade I took P.E. during the zero period. Zero period took place every day before school actually started. This was a bad idea.

It's hard enough to keep oneself awake during home room. Imagine trying to drag yourself out of bed to run in the gym or play a pick up game of basketball at 7am. Needless to say, I did pretty poorly on that year's physical fitness test.

I don't think I would have ever minded P.E. growing up if it hadn't been for the physical fitness testing. All that pressure to run the mile in a reasonable amount of time and do multiple sit-ups in under a minute. I don't even want to talk about the pull-ups. About the only thing I could do well was the sit & reach. But that's because I was still really anorexic, therefore all those bones in my spine had plenty of room to move around.

Gym was much cooler the following summer when I took my final P.E. credits during summer school. Sure I had to go to P.E. for four hours a day five days a week. But you know what? I got to go swimming and skating and bowling and golfing and tennising and white water rafting. P.E. in summer school was awesome. Way better than the zero period.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Greatest Hits: We All Scream

Originally published 7/11/2007:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bump in the Night

They say my building is haunted. I'm not exactly sure how many people are included in "they." Really, the only people I've heard these ghost stories from are a woman I used to work with and her daughter, who was once a resident in my building.

This apartment building was once a cotton mill. The structure itself has actually been around since the early 1900s. At some point in the last twenty years or so, it was converted into apartments. It really is a neat old building. It's the coolest apartment I've ever lived in. High ceilings, tall windows, huge rooms, hardwood floors, free water. I actually love this place.

But again, they say the place is haunted. I'm not sure if accidents happened back in the milling days. I'm not sure if unions got involved in labor disputes that became violent. I'm not sure if there were murders or suicides within these walls. But the rumor persists that restless spirits wander these halls.

I've been here for nearly a year and I've never experienced the supernatural. Thus far, the only bumps in the night that I've heard have come from neighbors turning the bass on their stereos up to eleven, or from the kids next door wrestling and slamming into the walls. That last part I'm a little concerned about. The walls are pretty thin. You slam someone hard enough, I'm pretty sure they'll just tear right through. I'm pretty sure the walls are little more than tissue paper anyway.

Believe me, if something strange in the neighborhood ever rears its ghostly head, this blog will be the first place I report it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Not Even Close

Well over a year ago a prediction was made. A date was picked and I was told that the chosen date would be my wedding day. Back on March 30 of last year, I even wrote a post about the ridiculous prophecy. But Nicole remained adamant. She claimed that the day in question would come to pass.

Originally she chose October 3 of this year. Somewhere in the past 559 days, the date was changed to October 9. I'm not sure why or how the dates got switched up. October 9th really doesn't make any sense though. I mean, who gets married on a Friday?

It doesn't really matter now though. As I write this, it's October 10. Both chosen dates came and went and I am still a single guy.

Now, I don't want to just blatantly call Nicole wrong. No one likes to know that they're wrong about something. But just because I don't want to doesn't mean that I won't.

I haven't been much help in pushing myself toward wedded bliss either. It's not as if I've made much effort in even dating anyone. But to be fair, neither did my supposed matchmaking friend. She claimed the wedding day would go off without a hitch, but she really didn't do much to set me up with anyone. Not even a mail order bride. Though she did threaten to sign me up for eHarmony once. I don't think that happened either.

It would have been nice to have found myself in front of a church yesterday. Standing there in an awesome tuxedo, watching as Carrie Underwood slowly walked toward me. Alas, we haven't been in contact in some time. I'm beginning to think that particular marriage will never occur. The last communication I received wasn't even from her. It was a notarized letter from her publicist. Something about a restraining order... I don't know. I really didn't pay much attention to it.

So don't worry ladies. I'm still single.

Oh, and I was just kidding about that Carrie Underwood thing. There's no restraining order. She's probably forgotten who I am by now...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Question of the Week: Solitude

Would you enjoy spending a month of solitude in a beautiful natural setting? Food and shelter would be provided but you would not see another person.

I do like my alone time. I'm picturing some kind of shipwrecked, tropical island setting. There are times when I go a day or two without contact with another person. But I'm thinking a month would be a bit much. Sure, I'd try it. But after that month I'd probably be completely over my whole I-don't-like-people thing.

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

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXIV

Remember the hot girl that occasionally comes to the drive thru? She came by today. Afterward, when my fellow tellers were explaining to the customer service folks who she was, something bizarre happened.

We pulled up her account so that Monica's memory could be jogged. Turns out, hot girl needed to receive a phone call regarding her account. I'll spare you the details, but it was suggested that I be the one to call her.

I knew there was no way I could do that. I knew that, as a teller, it was well within my job description to call the client. But the thing is, I have a hard time talking to her when she comes to the window. I can barely get the words "have a nice day" out of my mouth without tripping over my tongue. So Monica volunteered to call her.

And hot girl is coming into the bank tomorrow. At which point Monica claims that she'll be able to find out anything I want to know about her. Does she have a boyfriend? What sort of movies does she like? What's her favorite type of flower? Does she like Star Wars?

I have a hard time believing that Monica will be able to work movie preferences into a conversation about her banking needs...

Monica: Well it looks like your account is in pretty good standing. So what do you think of the movie Back to the Future?
Hot Girl: What does that have anything to do with my account?
Monica: Oh, it's just a standard random question that the computer spit out. I don't make up the surveys.
Hot Girl: In that case, Back to the Future is the most awesome movie ever made.
Monica: I see, and do you know that the guy at the drive-thru lane exists?
Hot Girl: There's a guy over there? All this time I've thought it was some disembodied voice and a drawer that just magically spit out my receipts. That's crazy!

And they lived happily ever after. The end.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Marching Along As Their Song Fills the Air

Went to the mall after work today. In the food court I saw a store that sold (I think) only gummy bears. Since then, I've had the theme song from The Gummi Bears stuck in my head. Now I'm sharing that with all of you. Good night everybody!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Three Years Later

This morning I woke up thinking it was just another day. I didn't think about the significance of today's date until I received a text message from my sister on the way to work. It simply said "I love you."

It struck me as a little odd. I looked at it and thought, "That's sweet. What prompted that?" And about a split second later I remembered that today is October 6th. That realization would have hit me eventually. Probably as soon as I got to work and saw the date on the computer. I texted her back, told her I loved her too.

It's been three years since our Dad passed away. For me, it still hurts and I still miss him, but the pain has since dulled. Maybe it's good that the date wasn't foremost on my mind as I started my day. It doesn't mean I'm forgetting, I'm just allowing life to go on. I remember three years ago, a lot of people promised that life would continue and it would get easier. At the time, I couldn't imagine how, but now I see that it has.

I knew today was coming soon, I just didn't turn it into an event. The last couple years, when this date arrived, I've spent a lot of time crying and reminiscing. I spent some time thinking about Dad today, but it's the same kind of thinking that I've done over the last year or so. Thinking about him isn't about missing him anymore. More often than not, a Dad memory makes me laugh. At the very least it makes me smile. And knowing that I'll see him again is just thrilling.

To anyone who's lost a parent, I know it hurts. The void that's left behind can never really be filled. But trust me, it gets better.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Greatest Hits: Lowered Ears

Originally published 6/22/2007:

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 04, 2009

First Kiss

This is going to be a very telling post. Thanks to my good friends over at Sunday Scribblings I've been prompted to write about my first kiss. Sadly, this is an event that has yet to happen.

Unless you want to count my preschool experiences with Angie Shrader, and I don't, then I've never been in a relationship that went on long enough to warrant a real kiss. That would be any relationship that went past a first date, right? I'm pretty sure I went on a lot of first dates back in high school and college. No second dates.

So after years of only first dates and none of those women wanting the follow up, I just gave up. Ergo, I haven't dated since the earlier part of this decade. Ergo, still no kissing.

It's one thing for me to admit to being a 29-year-old virgin. I'm perfectly okay with that. For me, that's a marriage thing. And since I'm not married, well, logic dictates, no sex. But to have gone 29 years without so much as a single liplock? Gotta say it's a little embarrassing.

No kisses after any of those first dates. No traditional mistletoe kisses at Christmas parties. Not even so much as a kiss from a random drunk girl at a friend's bachelor party.

It's probably best that I don't know what I'm missing.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Some Days

How many of us have days like the one I've had today?

Today wasn't special. I didn't wake up early with plans to do anything in particular. I just woke up because the sky was a bright blue. And that's what people do once the sun has risen. Unless they work nights, but that just totally messes with their internal clocks. I should know.

I went through my regular morning routine, minus the shower. The way I see it, no plans, no shower. Who was I trying to impress? Though my first glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror was a little scary. I'm not sure how my hair gets to the point where it's standing straight up, but it somehow reached that point last night.

I wasn't hungry just yet, so I skipped breakfast. A few hours later I found myself reheating leftover pizza. I just can't seem to repress that feeling of hunger for very long.

Other than that, I've spent most of the day reading. I got caught up on a couple TV shows that I missed this week. It's the downside to not having my own DVR, but the upside to having the internet. I did finally take a shower. Around 1:30 I ran my hand through my hair and realized it was still standing straight up. It was time to do something about that.

I've had very little contact with anyone outside the walls of my apartment. I sent a text to Nicole earlier. Just one of those things to let someone know I was still alive in here. I got one reply, and that's been the extent of my human contact. I didn't even Facebook anyone today. And I'm pretty sure I haven't dropped off a tweet since last night.

Is it only single people who are faced with days like this? I can't imagine anyone with a family could possibly go an entire day without leaving their home. People with spouses and kids have so many other things to do. Soccer games; grocery shopping; dance class; phone calls from nosy out-of-towners.

These days don't come around all that often for me. Usually I'm able to at least break up the monotony by taking a drive somewhere, having lunch with a friend, or even working that second job.

I really should get out more.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Question of the Week: Slaughter

Would you be willing to go to a slaughterhouse and kill a cow? Do you eat meat?

No, I wouldn't be willing to go to a slaughterhouse to kill a cow. I'm not sure I'd even want to witness it being done. Of course I eat meat, but that doesn't mean I want to fully comprehend the ins and outs of the butchering business. Let's just say I'd rather take the butcher's word for it. Ignorance is bliss in this particular case.

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

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Thirty Four

You'll note that it's been quite some time since my last Life Story posting. When I left off I was leaving middle school. I haven't been sure how to properly express my feelings for my entrance into the grand world of high school.

Ninth grade was a can of worms that I'm not too sure I was fully prepared for. Aside from dealing with a huge school on a spread out campus with mostly unfamiliar faces, I was still, technically, a psychological mess.

Just before I started my Patrick Henry High years, the anorexia had just about leveled off. I wasn't gaining weight, but I wasn't losing anymore either. Yes, most of the guys my age were polishing off a dozen eggs for breakfast and downing three or four gallons of milk each week. I complained about being full after eating half a sandwich.

Needless to say, this stunted my physical growth quite a bit. As a freshman, I expected to get picked on by the upper classmen on a pretty regular basis. Thankfully, it wasn't like Saved By the Bell. I wasn't Screech and I didn't get shoved into any lockers. I didn't get held upside down by my ankles and dipped into a toilet. My only real memory of any of the older kids giving me a hard time was when some guy told me that the elementary school was at the other end of the parking lot. That was a pretty good one.

But freshman year in high school wasn't all that bad. I mean, it wasn't great. But there were good times to be had. It was the year that introduced me to block scheduling. Patrick Henry students had the A-days and the B-days. A total of six classes; three on each day. Now, this meant you only had to endure Spanish III every other day. But it also meant you had to endure Spanish III for two hours at a time.

Aside from the semi-advanced foreign language class, my class load was fairly average: Geometry, World Geography, English, P.E., Earth Science, and Drawing I. I'm not sure how I got into that Drawing class. Basic Art was a prerequisite, and I sure hadn't taken Basic Art. I think my guidance counselor felt really sorry for me. She put up with a lot from me. Like I said, I was a psychological mess.