Monday, November 30, 2009

Greatest Hits: Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode VIII

Originally published 3/10/2008:

Working at the bank, I've seen all kinds of people come and go. I'd like to take some time to talk about two types of customer that are pretty typical.

The first is the kind that I see most often: the ones who think I'm telepathic. These are the people who come to the drive up window and send a bunch of random checks and/or blank slips in the box. Also, there are those who send in an empty box with no indication that they needed anything at all. There is a call button on the outside for a reason. Ladies and gentlemen in the banking world, feel free to use that button. We, on the other side of the glass, are here to help you. Just don't abuse the button. And remember, we can't hear what you're saying if you've pushed the box or tube into the chute. It's really loud and overpowers your voice in the speakers. Seriously, it's like standing in a wind tunnel.

On the other end of the customer spectrum are the clients who send detailed, written instructions along with the proper documents. Honestly, I prefer these over the ones who assume I have ESP. But really, your instructions may not be necessary. While I don't have all the answers as a part-time teller, I'm not a complete idiot. If you've sent in your deposit or withdraw slip already filled out, you're way ahead of the game.

There are, of course, other types of customers. As many as there are personality types. Everyone is different. There are the ones who stay on the phone the entire time they're at the window. There are the ones who constantly send back the box because it's impossible to believe that we got it right the first time. There are the ones who refuse to show you their ID because they've been banking here for 30 years (but you know what? I've only been working here for 2 months... wrap your ancient brain around that!). I'm sorry, that probably sounded rude. But it's been a really long day at the bank.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I don't got game. It's not something that I've ever had. And when I say game, I'm talking about the don't-hate-the-player-hate-the-game kind of game.

Back in college I would watch as roommates would flirt with girls almost effortlessly. They would use tactics that blew my mind. Tactics that, following logical conclusions, should never have worked, yet they did. And there were some times that I would try to mimic some of those tactics, and while they may have worked for my friends, I just ended up looking like a fool.

So after playing a few innings on the bench, I eventually just took myself out of the game. I think my problem is that I never fully understood the rules of the game. From what I could tell, men and women are playing two completely different games, but every now and then there's some inter-league play and things seem to work out. But it doesn't help when one can't figure out the rules to either side of things.

One of those things that hinders me is the art of flirtation. I just don't think I'm very good at it. Most of the time, when I'm around a girl I like, I forget how to use the English language properly. It becomes difficult to string together words into coherent phrases and sentences. And forget about complex thought. A few weird sounds that, in my mind, pass for words may escape my mouth, but then I have to go away.

But honestly, I'm okay not knowing how to play the game. Because, what's the general feeling for those who play the game and play it well? Yeah, that's what I thought. So I don't know how to flirt. Big deal. So while the rest of you single people are out there playing the field, I'll be over here warming the bench. Someone's gotta do it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I like to cook. But I just don't do it that often.

See, living alone, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to do much cooking. Generally, recipes come designed for more than one person. So a lot of the time, that means that more than half of whatever I make ends up going to waste or sits in the refrigerator until it becomes self-aware and stages a coup in the kitchen.

You may be asking what I actually eat. It's not always fast food and take out, don't worry. But my real choices probably aren't much better: sandwiches, cereal, and frozen dinners. It's handy when meals come in individual packaging. Eliminates the need for the leftovers.

But then Thanksgiving came this year. I didn't cook a turkey or any of the traditional side dishes. But I did cook a pumpkin pie. I didn't make the pie, just cooked it from its frozen state. Thank you Sara Lee. Thus far, I've only eaten two slices, and in the next day or so, I'll probably forget that it's in my fridge.

Also on Thursday, I made sausage balls using my Dad's recipe. Now, this isn't a meal, but I still had to cut the recipe in half. And that's still plenty of appetizer for multiple people. Thankfully, the raw product is good for freezing and cooking at a later time, so I only had to cook a few in order to make sure the final result was good.

However, I was told later that this was the worst batch I had ever made and that I should just leave them all at the Greenehouse to be disposed of properly. I'll take that as a complement.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Question of the Week: Help

Is it easy for you to accept help when you need it? Will you ask for help?

Sometimes it's easy to accept help when it's needed. I guess it all depends on the situation. Asking for help isn't something I do often. And even though I don't care to admit it, I guess that's a part of a pride issue. It's not that I think I can do everything on my own, I've just turned into a pretty independent person in my old age. But when it comes down to it, I don't have a problem asking for help when I really need it.

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Thirty Seven

Right around Thanksgiving 15 years ago, things got a little out of hand for old Aaron Peck.

See, at the time, I was still, technically anorexic. Things had leveled off for me though. Sure, this particular psychological illness was still an issue for me, but I wasn't losing weight anymore. I was maintaining a solid 95 pounds, which, for awhile was good.

Apparently the pressures of entering high school began affecting me in much the same way being in middle school did. Slowly but surely, those maintained pounds began to slide off. My weekly weigh-in sessions at the therapist's office were becoming more and more depressing.

As I took this turn for the worse, my options were discussed. I knew that a time was coming when I would be forced to do something I wouldn't want to do. In a word: hospitalization.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, I was showering before church. As I washed my hair, it was coming off my head between my fingers. This is a common problem among people with eating disorders. As the body lacks the nutrients it needs to remain healthy, it starts shutting down unnecessary functions, one of those being hair growth.

I broke down. I decided then that I would make the call. I would fall on the sword and voluntarily go into a hospital for treatment. I knew that if I didn't, the doctors would talk my parents into admitting me anyway.

I talked it over with my family and later my counselor, and we determined that after Thanksgiving I would go into a psychiatric hospital to receive treatment for my eating disorder. Next stop: St. Alban's Hospital in Radford.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


'Tis the night before Thanksgiving and I just got home from work. I had to stay late, 'cause the manager on duty was kind of a jerk. That's all the rhyming I'll do. I really wanted to try and do some more, but I'm just not feeling it. But I did come across this video today. It's the Muppets doing their version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. And it's awesome.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXVI

The holidays are forthcoming and people are getting crazy.

I only worked half a day today, and in the first hour that I was there, I counted no less than five people who went off about something small. Now, only three of these people actually went nuts in person. Two of them were on the phone.

We all know I'm one of those people with a short fuse. I don't explode my anger in the direction of anyone in particular, but my patience tends to run thin. So as Christmas gets closer, I think people will be more on edge.

I've found something that's fun though. Instead of following my first instinct of becoming just as frustrated as they are, it's good to kill them with kindness. They really hate that. And then I'm in a better mood, plus I got a good laugh out of it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Greatest Hits: Singing to Sleep

Originally published 2/17/2008:

Last night, I was over at the Greene's. Big surprise, right? After a long evening of playing SingStar, I had the privilege of holding and feeding the Baby Greene. When she finished her bottle, she was a little fussy, so in went the pacifier. Then Nicole told me to sing to her.

So I started singing. Three songs into the set, she was out. I'm pretty sure that's the first time I've ever sung someone to sleep. Well, successfully anyway.

For a few minutes, I couldn't help but think about songs that Dad used to sing to me. Not necessarily when I was falling asleep, but times when I was afraid or sad. Specifically, I remember he would sing Day Is Done by Peter Paul and Mary. I don't know how often he actually played that through his repetoire, but it's always stuck with me. I only remember the first verse...

Tell me why you're crying my son
I know you're frightened like everyone
Is it the thunder in the distance you hear?
Would it help if I stay very near?
I am here.
And if you take my hand, my son,
All will be well when the day is done.

Even now, thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. It did last night when I heard him singing it in my mind. Luckily no one was paying attention as I rocked the sleeping baby while my eyes welled up.

I've said it before, more often than not, when I think of Dad these days I smile or laugh. But there are still times, when missing him becomes overwhelming and I can't help but cry. I can't wait 'til the day I get to hear him singing again.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I like to look up at night. Mostly on those cloudless nights when you can see the universe beyond our own atmosphere. When there's the cover of clouds, it's not quite as much fun to stare upward.

There are a lot of times when I'll stand there pondering the vastness of the universe, and I think about the possibility of countless planets orbiting countless stars populating countless galaxies.

I don't believe that life has originated anywhere else. And I suppose that comes from a firm faith in what the Bible says about creation and God's hand in it. So a lot of people out there who look to the stars may wonder what's the point of it all? Why would God create such an enormous space, but only place life on one pebble?

Some people would consider that a waste of space. Science shows us that there is more out there, that there's more to see than what can be found on the third planet in our solar system. There are other stars and other planets that can be seen through the lens of modern technology. And for every heavenly body that can be seen, there are millions more that can't.

This is where I get to thinking. God doesn't have to explain to mankind why He does the things He does. He's God. He doesn't need us. He wants us though. He created us so that we could glorify Him. Of course we fall short in that area, but that was our purpose in creation. That's the purpose of all creation: to glorify God.

So you have all of outer space, and all of these planets with geographic formations that we could never even imagine. Maybe God put it all out there so He'd have something nice to look at.

There is so much beauty, just in this world, that we don't always see. But God sees it. How small of us to think that there wouldn't be beauty elsewhere that we can't see. But God sees it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Something odd happened to me today. I took a nap.

But that's really not the strangest part. I mean, there are days when I'll lie down, shut my eyes, and fall asleep for about half an hour. It doesn't happen often, but it's usually a very enjoyable experience.

Today I had no intention of taking a nap. I ran some errands this morning, had lunch with a friend, then came back home to spend my time doing pretty much nothing. Somehow I ended up falling asleep.

When I woke up it was dark. That's what hit me as strange. When I had closed my eyes it was a sunny afternoon. Light was pouring in through my enormous windows. Suddenly my apartment was completely dark. It wasn't even 6:00 yet.

As much as I like the winter, and as much as I always look forward to Christmas, I never look forward to these early sunsets. These short days and long nights are just crazy. On the plus side, by the time Christmas gets here, the days will be getting longer again.

I had a biology teacher in high school that used to talk about how much he hated summer. His reasoning? Because the days were getting shorter and it depressed him. Kind of a pessimistic way of looking at things. But I guess the flip side of that coin is that he was optimistic once winter hit. All those days are getting longer by the day. But what does he have to look forward to if he doesn't like summer? Really it just becomes an endless cycle of pessimism. How sad for him.

Anyway, I woke up in the dark. With a headache. I mean, what's that all about? Why is it that sometimes we, as people, take naps and feel worse when we wake up than we did when we laid down?

In other news, I finally watched G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra this morning. I really don't want to write a review for it. I'll just say I wasn't as disappointed as I expected to be. It's the kind of movie that you can't go into thinking it's going to change your life. It's just mindless entertainment that just won't win any awards. I'm sorry, Dennis Quaid, it's true.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Question of the Week: Deal

If you were to discover that your closest friend was a heroin dealer, what would you do?

First I would demand a piece of that action. Dealer's gotta be pullin' in some pretty big cash. Okay, really I wouldn't do that. First I'd tell this friend that he or she is being incredibly stupid, then I'd give them 48 hours to turn themselves in. I'm not sure that I could do the turning in though. I mean, the person is my friend and I wouldn't want to see them thrown in jail. But really, they're committing a pretty serious crime and contributing to the downfall of their foolish customers. I don't think I'd turn them in, but if they refused to do the right thing themselves, I'd cut ties with them. That friend would be phased out.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Wind in My Face

Last month when I was in Bluefield for Homecoming, the ventilation system in my car stopped working. For a while, I had been experiencing condensation building up and leaking onto the floor of the car. Eventually, that condensation caused the motor in the vent to short out.

Since then, I've been driving around with no way to turn on the air conditioning when it was unseasonably warm. No way to turn on the heat when the temperature finally dropped. No way to defrost the windows when they got fogged up. That last one was pretty rough when delivering pizzas. Those things tend to steam up the car a bit.

Monday I was finally able to get the problem fixed. I got the motor replaced and now it blows like the wind. I have so many options now! Defrost, heat, A/C! I can even mix and match!

However, a problem remains. All that condensation still drains into the passenger side floor. That can't be good. So, does anyone out there know how I can make the car drain properly? I'm guessing that, eventually, it'll cause my new motor to short out. In the meantime, it just pours out and kinda makes me have to pee.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like

Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat.

I had the day off today. It's something that I thought should have been happening every week since they cut my hours back to 35. For some reason, I've continually been scheduled to work every day, but two of those days each week come as half days. Why not just combine the halves and make a whole day off? Logical, right?

So that's what my manager finally did this week. And how did I spend my day off? I helped decorate the Greenehouse for Christmas. That's right, the tree is lit, the greens have been wrapped around the door post, and the stockings are hung by the chimney with care.

But I can't help but feel like it's kind of early. Traditionally, I've held to a Thanksgiving weekend decorating schedule. But hey, it's not my house, so it's not my rules. I just pitch in where I can. Especially since, in my own home, I won't be decorating this year.

You know, I had the opportunity to buy one of those fancy pre-lit trees last year right after Christmas. It was 50% off, so that's not a bad deal. But I passed it up. And now, another year goes by and I'm not getting a tree. I don't have any lights to hang in my apartment, nor do I have a wreath to hang on the door. But I'm really okay with that.

As much time as I spend with the Greenes, I get plenty of chances to bask in the glow of tiny white lights reflected off glass ornaments. Now I just need some snow and I'll be happy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Continuous Christmas

The radio station we listen to at work has begun their non-stop Christmas music through Christmas day. Don't get me wrong, I do like to hear the Christmas music. But all day, every day for the next 39 days? I may be shoving Q-Tips up against my eardrums by the second week of December.

In the meantime, I still love the Christmas music and am actually starting to get excited about the upcoming holiday season. So I bring you a YouTube video from an a capella group called Straight No Chaser performing their version of 12 Days of Christmas. It's pretty awesome.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Greatest Hits: A Jewelry Commercial

Originally published 2/9/2008:

Have you seen a recent Kay Jewelers commercial? The one they're showing to prepare all the guys out there for Valentine's Day? It's the one with the little kid who sees his dad give his mom a diamond necklace from Kay. So he then writes "Kay" on a little box and takes a gift to a little girl.

The girl opens the "Kay" box and pulls out a heart made of pink construction paper attached to a piece of green yarn. She says thank you and kisses the little boy on the cheek. But here's what I feel that she's really thinking:

Aww, how sweet. This looks really expensive. What'd this set you back? Fifteen cents? What, did you raid the crafts closet in the kindergarten room at school? I'm just gonna hug you so you'll feel good about yourself. My real boyfriend went to Jared. Chump.

Update: I found the commercial on YouTube for your enjoyment.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I feel the need to give some very careful instructions regarding a classic device known as the Magic 8-Ball. The Magic 8-Ball can be found in a variety of places, usually in the place where toys are sold. Recently there have been a rash of copycat and novelty 8-Balls, but none can overtake the original.

But the original is not without its flaws. If you purchase or receive the Magic 8-Ball as a gift, it's important to calibrate the device before you begin asking it about financial endeavors or for relationship advice. You may be asking, "How do I calibrate the Magic 8-Ball?" The answer is simple, you ask it a question to which you already know the answer.

For example: You know whether or not you are left-handed. So ask the 8-Ball, "Am I left-handed?" If you are, in fact, left-handed and the 8-Ball indicates as much, then you have a working Magic 8-Ball. If you are right-handed, but the 8-Ball still gives you a positive answer, then you need to ask again. Keep asking until you get a correct answer, at which point you'll know that the 8-Ball is in good working order.

The most important thing to remember is that the 8-Ball can only answer yes/no questions. If you ask for a favorite color, you will damage the device beyond repair. Once this happens, no amount of recalibration will fix what is wrong with the 8-Ball. After all, it's just an 8-Ball and is easily confused.

So please, act responsibly when contacting this toy store oracle.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Night Out

Last night was Gordon's last night here before beginning his long journey back to Scotland. Thus, we planned to spend the evening downtown bouncing from place to place. Originally the plan was for his friend John to come along, but John couldn't get a babysitter. So it was just me and the temporary roommate.

The night really didn't start 'til my work day ended. And since I worked both jobs yesterday, that meant the night wouldn't start 'til about 9pm. But I'm told that the kids these days don't even start having fun until well after that time.

I got changed and made sure that I didn't smell like pizza anymore and then we were off. Now, I had never really spent any significant time downtown in Raleigh. The bank in which I work is located pretty darn close, but I never mingle among the tall buildings. And Gordon had only been down there a couple times, the last of which being about 2 years ago. So it was basically the blind leading the blind.

But I drove and we eventually found a place called The Hibernian Pub, a bar which Gordon had been to on his previous visits. Now, I'm really not much for the bar scene. At least, I never have been in the past. I won't say I've never had alcohol, but I've definitely never acquired a particular taste for it. I gladly volunteered to be the designated driver, even before there were only two of us going out.

The pub was loud and dark, as many bars are. As I learned a couple years ago at Andy's bachelor party, once the lights come on after last call, one wishes it was still dark. Things are different in the harsh light of last call. As it was last night, we only experienced the darkness of the pub.

At one point we began talking with a fairly hot waitress. Okay, Gordon did the talking. I just sat there, smiling and nodding like an idiot. Mostly he asked her what else we could get into downtown on a Friday night. She pointed us in the direction of another Irish pub and a place that was more of a dance club, but warned us that the latter had a cover charge.

And with that we moved on to the Irish pub. We couldn't be convinced to pay a cover for anything. What if you get inside and whatever you've paid for was worthless, when really, all you wanted to do was have a beer? Why pay to get in someplace when all you're gonna do is pay for a drink anyway? It's a rip off.

We walked roughly two blocks, but it felt much longer in the cold midnight mist. We got to the other pub and flashed our IDs and were then informed of the five dollar cover. That made up our minds for us. It was obvious the cover was to pay for the band that was playing just inside. They were playing Summer of '69, quite badly, by the way.

And with that we moved on back to the Irish pub we started out in. And this is where we finished the night. The bar never got any more crowded than it was when we were there the first time. And it seemed that whenever a woman would leave, she would only be replaced by a dude. So eventually, there wasn't much to look at. Around 1am, I started feeling that approaching-30-fatigue. Also, I never ate dinner, so I was ready to go. Luckily, Gordon was hungry too, so we left again.

The drive back, which should have been uneventful, turned into something crazy. Not long after getting back on Capital Blvd., the main road leading from Raleigh back to Wake Forest, traffic came to a stand still. Up ahead, it was easy to see several cars with the flashing blue lights. My first thought was accident. But then I saw all the police cars on the other side of the highway waiting around for anyone who dared to make a u-turn in order to avoid whatever was going on up ahead. After seeing several cops pull over those unsuspecting u-turners, it became clear that we were about to become a part of a massive police checkpoint. Every cop in Raleigh must have been there. I don't think I've ever seen that many police officers in one place at one time. It took awhile to get through there, what with the sheer volume of traffic being bottle-necked into the middle lane, but we got through the gauntlet just fine.

Around 1:30 we found a Taco Bell that was still open. Amazingly, we were their last customers. Around 2 we got back to the apartment and enjoyed our Mexican feast before crashing and sleeping off a very long day.

I did learn something incredibly valuable during the night. Taco Bell is not a good idea after 2am. Learn from that mistake.

All in all it really was a good time. And hey, now I know where to find some stuff downtown. Not that I'll pick up the habit of bar hopping in the near future. Kind of hard to pull that off when you don't particularly like to drink. But still, knowing is half the battle. Gordon flew out today, so I'm now a roommate short. On the plus side, I can go back to peeing with the door open.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Question of the Week: Another One About Death

Would you rather die peacefully among friends at age 50, or painfully and alone at age 80? Assume that most of the last 30 years would be good ones.

What kind of stupid question is that? Who really wants to die a painful death? I choose peaceful with friends. I mean, I like my alone time and all, but waiting around just to say I lived to 80 isn't worth being miserable in that final moment. I guess that gives me roughly 20 more years. Let's make them good ones.

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's Not the End of the World

With the new film 2012 being released tomorrow, there's been a lot of talk about the end of the world. Apparently, the film portrays the apocalyptic events that the Mayans may have predicted over a thousand years ago. Why do we assume they predicted the end of the world? Oh, because their ancient calendar ends on December 21, 2012.

Here's how I picture the whole thing going down. Please note that the names of the individuals involved have been changed to protect historic accuracy...

It's been a mild winter on the Yucatan peninsula. As spring begins, crops are being planted, virgins are being sacrificed; it looks to be a banner year for the ancient Mayan civilization. And so, as is often the case, the tribal council meets to discuss what their next big project will be. Picture with me a group of wise elders sitting around a stone table, each enjoying steaming mugs of cocoa.

Ted: Okay, gentlemen, I realize that these meetings are important, but could we please hurry this one along? I'm taking the wife and kids down to Machu Picchu. Apparently the Aztecs have a lovely crystal skull exhibit.

Rufus: Yes Ted, we all know you have a grand vacation planned. You don't have to rub your wealth in our faces every time we get together. Just because you invented chocolate...

Bill: Great cocoa, by the way Ted!

Ted: Why, thank you Bill!

Rufus: ...probably just accidentally discovered it anyway. You want to impress me then come up with a cure for smallpox...

Ted: Are you still talking Rufus?

Rufus: Never mind. Moving on. We really need to come up with another big project. We can't just keep sacrificing the pretty girls. People will start to notice that the only eligible women are all ugly. I say we build another pyramid. There's nothing in that clearing to the west. What do you say?

Bill & Ted: Lame!

Ted: What if we do a big calendar?

Bill: Interesting, do you mean a big one that is too big to hang on a wall? That sort of thing?

Ted: No, no, no... I'm talking about a calendar that will give accurate dates and astronomical events for the next... oh, I don't know... 1200 years? Think we can pull that off?

Rufus: Well, there's no question that it can be done, but what would be the point?

Ted: Look, civilizations rise and fall. We have to be realistic, we're not going to be around forever. Eventually we'll give in to our superstitious beliefs and all the pretty girls will be gone. Our boys won't want to procreate with just the ugly ones. I say we leave our mark on the world. Someday, some crazy archaeologist with a fedora and bullwhip will come along and see our calendar and think, "Man, they knew their stuff!"

Bill: I like it!

Rufus: Of course you do. I'm intrigued though. If we do this, in theory, the calendar could go on forever. We do, after all, have the capability of calculating astronomical numbers stretching into infinity.

Ted: So we come up with an ending date.

Bill: How about December 21, 2012?

Ted: The winter solstice? Why then?

Bill: Seems as good a day as any.

Ted: Sounds good. And you know, I bet when that time comes, people will look to our calendar and think all kinds of crazy things. They'll actually believe the world is gonna end. After all, the guy with the bullwhip already claimed we knew our stuff. I can just see it now. All those crazy people running around, pulling their hair out, crying over disasters that aren't even gonna happen. Best. Practical Joke. Ever!

Rufus: That is a pretty good one. All right, I'll get some scholars on this one right away. We've got some extra chisels in storage that haven't been used for awhile, guess I'll need to dust those off. Have fun in Peru, Ted.

And with that, history was made. Okay, so that might be a little inaccurate. But really, the end of the world? Head over to the Discovery Channel's website for a list of the top ten 2012 end of the world theories and why they won't happen. It's a pretty good read.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Aaron Vs. the Veterans Day Sale

I complain a lot about work. But there's a great thing about working at a bank: federal holidays.

So I went to the mall today with Nicole and my temporary roommate, Gordon. Gordon's sister has a birthday in a few days, so he wanted to get some nice American clothes to take back to Scotland for her. While at the mall, I did something that I haven't done since college. I bought clothing from a mall based store.

I stopped shopping in malls because the clothes are far too expensive. I've never in my life shopped in an Abercrombie or an Aeropostale. But back in the day, I bought stuff from American Eagle all the time. But they became wicked expensive, just like the other two stores I just mentioned. Maybe they were always wicked expensive, but before I maxed out all those college credit cards money just didn't seem to matter.

American Eagle is where I bought my new clothing. I found a decent shirt back on the sale rack. 30% off a $14.95 shirt translates to a pretty good deal, especially at a store like that.

While we were standing inside the local Aeropostale, waiting for Gordon to pay for his 2 for $20 t-shirts, Nicole mentioned that we were getting too old to shop in places like that. I quietly agreed, but out loud I claimed that I was not getting too old. Some of us have not yet hit 30.

But it did get me thinking. I am, of course, too old to dress like the kids these days. The clothes you'd typically find in stores like that are specifically aimed at teenagers with trust funds and college students with too many credit cards who put gel in their hair and bathe in cologne.

But someday, I'll be 60 years old. And when that day comes, I'm going on a shopping spree. I'll start buying the latest fashions from Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch and the Gap or whatever store the kids going to in 30 years. Then I won't be the creepy old guy in the neighborhood with a dozen cats who never cuts his grass. I'll be the hip old guy that wears awesome clothes.

Also, the good people at Kohl's sent my mother a $10 gift card in the mail. But it came to my apartment, so I used it for myself. Got a new pair of jeans. So, Mom, if you're reading this, sorry I took your card.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Scary Stories

When I was a kid I loved the series of books Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I think I may have been in the 3rd grade when I was first exposed to the first one. Soon after hearing one of the stories and thumbing through the book, I found it at the elementary school's annual book fair.

Over the next two years I got the follow-up editions More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories 3. The trilogy was a favorite of mine for many years.

The books are fairly simple, consisting of classic American folktales, ghost stories, and urban legends. They're the kind of stories that are a little creepy, but they're okay for little kids, so as not to give them nightmares. On the other hand, the illustrations, those could keep one up at night.

My young friend Brett was telling me a ghost story last week, keeping some of the Halloween flavor alive. The story was enough to remind me of those old books. They're the books that I've held on to since I was his age. They're the books that are always on my bookshelf somewhere, and if they've ever been in a storage box, they haven't been there long. But this time, they may as well have been. Because even though they've been sitting on a shelf, I haven't read them in years.

Even today, as I write this, I haven't even picked them up to read them. But I did take them to Brett to let him read. I'm sure these books are still in print and can still be found at book fairs and Scholastic fliers across the United States. But I do kind of feel that I've passed on some classic creepy stories on to another generation. Now I've done my part. You're welcome, America.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Greatest Hits: I Am Legend... Again

Originally published 1/7/2008:

I know I already wrote a stellar review of this film. But some things hit me as I was sitting in church yesterday. I'm not sure how, but something the pastor mentioned got me thinking about the movie. Now, be warned, this post will have real spoilers involving the climax of the film. This means that if you haven't seen it, you'll want to skip this blog post until you see it. On the other hand, you could continue to read and then go into the theater knowing exactly what happens, thus cheapening your experience and ruining the fact that you just paid $8.00 for a movie that you know the ending to. Seriously, the next paragraph is full of intimate details...

Okay, not this one, but the next one. Really, you've been warned.

Are the unspoiled masses gone? Good, it's just the two of us. I love God. And I love movies. So I like to find God in the movies. And there are a lot of movies out there that are great illustrations of biblical truths. Sort of like modern day parables. Jesus taught people through the stories that he told. They were stories that the people of the day could get a handle on. These days, stories are told with those moving, talking pictures. It's a medium that we can get a handle on. Watch movies like The Matrix or Bruce Almighty and you'll see what I'm talking about. God created this world, and I firmly believe that He can be found everywhere.

I Am Legend shows us a picture of Christ at the very end. It's possible that portrait is painted throughout the movie, I'd have to see it again. For now, I just want to focus on Will Smith's last scene. He and a normal woman and child are being chased into his basement laboratory by the zombie/vampire creatures. While trying to escape with their lives, they notice that the zombie/vampire female that he captured earlier isn't so much a zombie/vampire anymore. This is all thanks to a cure that he had developed using the immunity in his own blood. The horde of zombie/vampires pour in. The good doctor draws a vial of his own blood. He gives it to the woman, then makes sure she and the child get out through the coal shute. He realizes that he needs to stay behind to stop the advance of the zombie/vampires so the other two can escape. This means he has to die. Which he does. Heroically.

If you're a Christian, I hope you're able to see Jesus in those actions. If you're not a Christian, I hope you're able to see Jesus in those actions after my next few lines. Christ's blood is the only thing that could have saved us from our sins. His sacrifice has allowed us to have life, to have passage into Heaven. Christ was crucified by the very people He was here to save. Are you seeing the parallels? Robert (Smith's character) had the cure to the disease in his blood. Imagine that the disease is sin. He knows that in the end he has to sacrifice himself so his blood could cure the masses. He's killed by the very people he's trying to save.

There will be those that will say I'm reading into things, I'm seeing what I want to see in this movie. Maybe I am. But I really think it's a good way to look at the world. Seeing God all around us is a good thing. Knowing that He's in everything we see and do is a great thing. It's a comfort. If you're reading this and you don't know the kind of peace that I'm talking about, please don't hesitate to e-mail me or find a believer that you know. So, to you in cyberspace, God bless.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Slightly over a year ago I decided that I would be running for president as soon as I'm old enough to legally do so. That will be 2016 for anyone who's keeping up with that sort of thing. What will make me stand out? All of my speeches will incorporate lines from the great movie presidents throughout the history of film. Jen, who would like to be my press secretary when that day comes, gave me an example of how an interview with me may go. Bonus points if you can identify the movie each quote is from...

Thank you for meeting with me today, Mr. President. I know your time is limited. How are you today sir?

President Aaron:
Good. My nervousness exists on... several levels. Number one, and this is in no particular order, I haven't done this in a pretty long time. Number two, uh, any expectations that you might have, given the fact that I'm... you know...

(Chuckling) The most powerful man in the world? Good one sir, I promise to be gentle. Now, you talked about how congress recently denied appropriations you requested. How did you feel about that refusal to advance your legislation? Did it in any way make you feel less presidential?

(President Aaron pushes a red button while the reporter is asking the question)

Sir, what's with the red button?

PA (President Aaron):
Somewhere in Libya right now, a janitor's working the night shift at Libyan Intelligence headquarters. He's going about doing his job... because he has no idea, in about an hour he's going to die in a massive explosion. He's just going about his job, because he has no idea (President Aaron points to the red button) I just gave an order to have him killed. You've just seen me do the least presidential thing I do.

Touche sir. Moving on...

You recently nominated Bryce Greene to serve as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. A staggering move considering he is only eighteen years old. How do you explain your reasoning behind this?

If you've ever seen the look on somebody's face the day they finally get a job, I've had some experience with this, they look like they could fly. And it's not about the paycheck, it's about respect, it's about looking in the mirror and knowing that you've done something valuable with your day.

Ok. On to a lighter topic.

Mr. President, it seems as if the United States is having what congress is referring to as a minor disagreement with our neighbor to the north. Canada is politely asking the United States to do our part in helping keep our shared border free of garbage and debris. We’ve always had an excellent relationship with the Canadian government and I assume we will continue on that course, so what’s your plan of action there?

In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And we will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. "Mankind." That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore...

But sir, it’s only a few pieces of garbage and to be perfectly honest, it’s mainly ours.

We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win, this day will be remembered as the day the world declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive!

Sir, now I’m just going to ask you some rapid fire questions. Please answer as quickly as possible.

What are you thinking right now?

Do you think there will ever be a time when you can stand in a room with me and not think of me as the president?

What are your plans for tomorrow?

I'm gonna get the guns.

Who are you?

My name is Aaron Peck, and I am the President.

If I were to sneak onto Air Force One and you saw me what would you say?


And if I may, I’d like to give you one last scenario...
Mr. President one of your main accomplishments has been in restoring long lost allies to the United States. A feat many thought would be virtually impossible. Lets say tomorrow you get that fated call. The United States has been hit hard and we need backup. Who do you think would be our most trusted ally? Who would you call first?

Superman! Can you hear me? Superman! Where are you?...

Mr. President, thank you for your time.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

New Reason to Never Leave the House

Before now, I had considered Netflix to be the greatest thing to happen to movies since the invention of the VHS player. And the good people of the internet-based rental business keep on making it better.

At some point over the last couple years, Netflix began streaming movies and TV shows over the internet. Then they offered the service through certain Tivo boxes and X-Box Live. But, because I don't have a Tivo or an X-Box 360, I couldn't enjoy these luxuries. Until now, that is.

A few weeks ago I read an article stating that Netflix would soon offer movies instantly through the Playstation 3. This sounded great. And then I realized that I have a PS3! That made the news even better!

Yesterday I received the special disc that the PS3 needs and now I can watch movies from my Instant Queue on the Netflix website. And here's the kicker: they're in high definition!

That's it. I'm never leaving my apartment again!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Question of the Week: Dirty

For $20,000 would you go for three months without washing, brushing your teeth, or using deodorant? Assume you could not explain your reasons to anyone, and that there would be no long-term effect on your career.

Sure I'd do it. I may not be too pleasant to be around after the first couple of days, but hey it's $20,000 for doing nothing.

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

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I haven't had a roommate in quite some time. I'm not sure if I'd count my Dad as a roommate. That being the case, it's been since I moved away from Bluefield back in 2004. I've lived alone since moving to North Carolina in 2007. I've enjoyed that solitude.

But this week I have a roommate. On Monday, a Greene family friend arrived in town. Gordon is a soccer coach from Scotland. A few years ago, when he was working as a coach locally, the Greenes hosted him during the months he was here. In that time he grew close to the family, so he comes back to visit whenever he gets a chance. Obviously that's how we met, seeing as how I've grown close to the Greenes as well.

So Gordon needed a place to crash for a couple weeks and I have a pretty comfortable couch. Granted, it's only been a few days, but it seems to be going well. I'll admit I was a little nervous about having someone stay with me for a couple weeks. And that's no reflection on Gordon. It's just been so long since I've shared a living space with anyone, I wasn't sure how comfortable I would be.

Turns out this roommate thing isn't so bad. I'm not saying that, once Gordon flies out, I'll place an ad to try to find a new roommate. After all, I just have the one bedroom. But if, in the future, things become more economically difficult, I could definitely handle having someone pay half the rent.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Working Out Revisited

Today I experienced the 2nd half of my orientation at the gym. I realize that it's been a good three or four years since I've been inside a gym, but really, do I need a two part orientation? I've worked out before, I know what the machines do. I know how to not drop a weight on my foot.

Today was the trainer's sales pitch. He had me work out with a lot of the free weights, then he sat me down and wanted to set up a five session package for $150. I had to shut it down at that point.

First of all, today was not the day to convince me to spend more time with this guy. Especially not after the work-out he put me through. By the end of it I felt like I was gonna die. And I was pretty sure that, if that had happened, I'd have been okay with it.

Second, and more importantly, there's no way I'm paying extra money for someone to motivate me and give me an "atta boy!" whenever I hit that 20th rep on the bench press. I'm already paying for the monthly membership, that's motivation enough.

When I left I was so freakin' sore. I'm still feeling it in my legs. When I got to work after leaving the gym I just wanted to stand there. The chair looked very inviting, but I knew that if I sat down I wouldn't want to get back up.

I don't look forward to waking up tomorrow. I know that as bad as today felt, tomorrow will be worse. Should be good times.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Working Out

I’ve joined a gym. Stop laughing. I’m being serious. I’ve joined a gym.

The reasons for this are threefold:
1) I’m tired of getting winded when I climb the steps to my apartment. I mean, I don’t start wheezing when I hit that top stair. I don’t go into convulsions or pass out. It’s just a very gentle reminder that I’m not in the same shape I was in college.

2) It’d be nice to live a little longer. Okay, really I think that I’ll be around here for as long as God wants me here. But maybe if I’m living a slightly healthier lifestyle the quality of that life will be better. That’s the theory anyway.

3) I didn’t have enough bills to pay, so I really wanted to add one more.

That last one isn’t so serious. I don’t like paying more money. But I figure, at least, if I’m paying the money I’ll be motivated to at least get something out of it. I could jog outside or do sit-ups in my living room for free. But I haven’t been, so just deciding to do that and saying “I’ll start doing that” doesn’t mean that I actually will.

I met last week with a trainer that works at the gym. We figured out a basic routine that I can adhere to and set a goal to lose 10 pounds by Thanksgiving Day. He also spoke to me about the nutritional aspect of this thing.

This is the part where I have to hit the brakes. I am possibly the pickiest eater on the planet. So having someone tell me what I can and can’t eat kind of throws me way off. He said, “The fewer legs it has, the better it is for you.” His theory there is sound, meaning that things like chicken and fish will be better for me than beef or pork. But I like beef and pork. When one doesn’t like to eat the vegetables, one likes to leave that meat group as open as possible. Then he got to talking about the vegetables. “If it comes from the ground, it’s good for you… except the potato.”

Back up a sec… Except the potato!? Without the potato, where would Idaho be? What would have caused so many Irish people to emigrate to this country so many years ago? The potato is awesome! Don’t diss the potato!

Also, the Bible says that man was formed from the ground. So does that mean that this trainer is pushing me toward cannibalism? I can’t imagine eating people would be any better for me than having a hamburger. Plus, there’s the whole moral implication. I just don’t think I can condone eating people. Though, now that I think about it, I’m kind of craving some Soylent Green.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Greatest Hits: A Mastery of Sarcasm

Originally posted 1/7/2008:

I know I'm late. I resolved to post on this blog daily this year. And here it is, 2 AM on January 7th. Meaning that I, technically, did not post on the 6th. Well, here's my reason: I got up this morning, went to church, out to lunch, then to the Greene-House. And I just got home about five minutes ago. So I post now. And I'll post again later. So it's like getting posts on the 6th and 7th. Does that suit everyone? Both of you? Good.

So let me tell a story about going to the Greene-House yesterday. I got there, expecting to enjoy an evening of Playstation karaoke or Call of Duty. Since Nicole was doing laundry for the family, I joked with her saying I should've brought my dirty clothes. So she said I should have. Then she insisted that I go back home, get my laundry, bring it back and do it while we played games. She said it's better than having to go to a laundromat. And I have to agree. But, being the smart aleck I typically am, I made the remark that I'd have to drive all the way back to Wake Forest (which is about 2 miles from Youngsville).

After I left, the oldest Greene kid said, "He lives in Wake Forest?"

Nicole said, "Yes, near the seminary."

"But Mommy, Wake Forest isn't that far away," Oldest said.

"Yeah, that was sarcasm."

"But he wasn't smiling."

Nicole then said, "Yeah, that was real sarcasm."

Yeah... real sarcasm. See you later today kids.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


I've never been one who longed for adventure. I'm perfectly content obtaining my adventure through television, movies, and books. But that doesn't necessarily mean that my life is completely devoid of adventure.

But adventure comes in all shapes and sizes. One man's adventure may not qualify in the eyes of another. To some, the term adventure brings to mind only a grand plot involving espionage, fisticuffs, and gunfire.

I say that adventure can found on a smaller scale as well.

This morning, after waking with every intention of going to church, I ended up in a car heading to parts of this city that I had never before seen. My friend Nicole, along with three of her five children, picked me up at my apartment and we headed off to parts unknown.

Despite the extra hour of sleep last night, we were late for church due to circumstances beyond our control. So plans shifted. We began thinking about a late breakfast, but our bodies were telling us it was closer to lunch, so we held off for a bit. Deciding where to eat, well that's always an adventure in itself.

First we wanted to check out a pizza place that the kids had been to with Kevin. This restaurant is to be found in a little place known as Rolesville. We got there only to discover that, on Sundays, they didn't open until 4. That was not good news for our rumbling bellies.

I'm not sure what brought it on, but Nicole suggested Five Guys Burgers & Fries. I've heard of such a place but have never experienced their incredible hamburgers. So we set out once again for our new destination. Apparently there was a lot of hype surrounding the Five Guys' burgers. After enjoying a bacon cheeseburger, I'm happy to say that the hype is well warranted.

After the early lunch we decided to take a stroll through Target. This soon turned into a research party when I received a phone call from Andy, who was on the road but needed help finding some comforting Bible passages appropriate for a funeral. Luckily, Target had a small section devoted to devotionals and Bibles. This proved to be very helpful.

After all was said and done, a rainy morning turned out to be more fun than the surface would have made it appear. I think that goes to show that the best of adventures, whether big or small, are completely based on the fact that you're just not sure what the next step will be.