Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Decade Decoded

The last ten years had a lot of ups and downs. I'm pretty sure I can't list them all, but I think I can hit the high points...
  • I spent the first few hours of each of the first two years in the Emergency Room. Once was for a dislocated shoulder. The other was for bronchitis. Neither of those were fun experiences.
  • I saw hundreds of movies, but none of them were able to top Back to the Future for me.
  • I spent time in a country other than the United States. Twice.
  • I started and dropped out of graduate school. Twice.
  • I changed career paths. Twice. (And would really like to do that again please.)
  • I lost a parent.
  • I gained a step-parent.
  • I played a role in no fewer than eight weddings.
  • Two of those marriages have ended in divorce. Take that, national average!
  • I've stopped talking to friends I had at the beginning of the decade that I thought I'd be close to for the rest of my life.
  • I've become closer to some people than I ever thought I would at the beginning of the decade.
  • I didn't go fishing. Not once.
  • Pretty sure I only went camping twice.
  • I can't imagine how I made it through college without a cell phone. 'Cause now, I can't imagine why I would possibly need a land line.
  • While I enjoyed living with each of the six roommates I had in the last ten years, now that I've had a taste of living on my own, I'm not sure I could go back to having a roommate again.
  • I haven't had a single pet of any kind in this decade.
  • I don't think another TV show will ever engross me the way Lost did.
  • I thought Bob Barker would be on The Price is Right forever. I was wrong.
  • I thought I would be making more money than I am now. I was way wrong.
So here's to 2010. Let's hope things are still heading up hill...

End of the Year

It's the last day of the year. If I had time, I'd sit down and right some sort of year in review, but I don't have time. I have a pretty full day ahead of me. So you're just getting a video today. I'm sorry if that disappoints some, but come back tomorrow and I promise there will be some all new excitement.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXVII

It's been a while since I've written about work. There are reasons for that. Chief among them, everyone at work knows how to find my blog now. This makes for some tense times if I become disgruntled and write something unfavorable about a coworker. Even if I leave names out of it. Funny how they're able to figure things like that out.

But this post has nothing to do with anyone that I work with. I promise.

A couple weeks ago I was tellering, as I often do, and a customer approached the counter from the lobby side of things. Normally, I would ignore such a thing, but since I was the only free teller at the moment and there were no cars at the drive through lane, I decided to do what I was getting paid for. I asked the woman if I could help her.

"If I want to withdraw money, do I need to use the ATM outside or can I just do that in here?"

I told her of course she could get money inside, she'd just need to fill out a withdrawal ticket. And show me some ID so I could find her account number.

"Oh, I don't have an account here."

Really? In that case, you'll definitely need to go to the ATM. Now, maybe this is a new one to me, but if you have an account with Bank A, do you really expect to go into Bank B to withdraw your money? Use your brain lady.

And she looked at me like I was the moron.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Opinions Needed

The other day I wrote here that I was going to be changing the blog once 2010 hits. But for that to happen, I need some opinions.

Seeing as how I have approximately three readers, I certainly don't want to alienate you, the faithful few. But I'd also like to welcome new readers as well.

So this is where you come in. In the comments, let me know what you'd like to see.

I'll be changing the site address, but should I start fresh or import all of my old posts, basically keeping the blog the same?

Should I drastically alter the look of the blog?

Should I come up with funnier things to post?

Should I break down and finally get that tattoo I've been putting off for years?

Should I begin doing those periodic video blogs that I'd been dreaming of, or do I have a face for radio?

These are questions that only you can answer. I leave my future in your capable hands.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Greatest Hits: Carpetland

Originally posted on 6/14/2008:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 27, 2009


This week's prompt from Sunday Scribblings is incredibly appropriate, especially since I have yet to describe my Christmas Eve for my readership of three to five people.

As Christmas Eve has so often been for me, it was a night filled with family, food, and fun (in the form of a five dollar gift exchange). Well, the fun also came later when I was able to sit around with my cousin and his friend and speak geek for the duration of the night.

The delicious part came pretty close to the beginning of the evening, as all large meals should. It was the Thanksgiving dinner that I never got this year. I'm gonna try to describe everything that was there, but I just know I'll leave something out. It was one of those meals where there was so much to eat, that it couldn't all possibly be eaten. At least, not by our one family... and there were 21 of us...

But let's go with the run-down:
  • Turkey
  • Ham
  • Mashed Potatoes & Gravy (those count as one...)
  • Stuffing
  • Cranberries
  • Cranberries (two kinds...)
  • Broccoli Casserole
  • Pineapple Casserole
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Baked Apples
  • Rolls
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Rum Cake
  • Various Cookies
  • Ham & Cheese Dip w/ Crackers
  • Ham & Cheese Crescent Roll-Up Thingies
Like I said, I'm sure I left something out. My plate wasn't large enough for everything on the menu, much as I tried. And by the time I finished round one, there was no way I could go back for seconds. I mean, I guess I could have, but I probably would have died. My blood would have been replaced with gravy. I would have been leaking cranberries through my pores. I'm sure it would have made for a good Christmas portrait.

The rest of the evening was nice. I don't get excited about Christmas like I used to. Someone once told me that it was because I had grown-up, and it just isn't as magical as it was back then. That same person said the magic would return when I had kids of my own. Don't hold your breath on that one. But it was fun to watch the cousins' kids get excited over their gifts, along with my youngest cousin, who is still only 5. One of my older cousins has a boy who is one of those rough and tumble kind of kids. He found his way into one of his sister's empty boxes and was pretty much having the time of his life. Until he couldn't figure out how to get back out of it. That made for a pretty good laugh among the grown-ups.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I'm not gonna spend any time actually writing anything interesting today. It's been one of those long weekends. And it's only Saturday. I'll be spending much of my day on the road again, heading back to the place I currently call home. So my already fried brain will be extra crispy by day's end.

Instead, today, all I'm willing to post is that there will be some changes to this blog after the first of the year. I'll soon be changing the way you look at things here. There's gonna be a different design. Hopefully I'll be able to make it a little more aesthetically pleasing. Also, if I play my cards right, you'll be surfing to a different web address in order to read my innermost thoughts.

2010's gonna be a good one, I can just feel it.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Question of the Week: The Blessing

What is your favorite Christmas movie?

There are tons to choose from. Both traditional and non-traditional. I mean, traditionally you have your Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, and It's a Wonderful Life. But some of the less traditional Christmas movies would be Die Hard, Gremlins, or Lethal Weapon. All of those movies take place at Christmas, ergo, they are Christmas movies. It's always hard for me to pick one favorite whenever I'm asked about favorite movies. There are so many good ones out there. But in this case I'd probably have to go with the traditional It's a Wonderful Life. I love that it shows this regular guy who doesn't think he's much of anything special, but really his life effected so many of those around him for the better. But I'm more interested in hearing about your favorite movies...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

No Singing

I took a road trip today. All the way from Wake Forest, North Carolina to Roanoke, Virginia. That's right, I made that fateful three hour drive to the old home town.

Usually when I make a trip like this, I like to listen to music and sing along at the tops of my lungs. Okay, usually when I make trips as simple as driving to the grocery store, I like to listen to music and sing along at the tops of my lungs. I love to sing, and lately, I've found that singing in the car is really the only place I can do such a thing.

But today I only listened. Not once did I open my mouth to utter a note in the entire three hours I was on the road. And I just can't think of a good reason why I didn't. Well, maybe I was just in a funk.

I already said a couple days ago that I was ready for Christmas to be over with. But I'm honestly unsure of where these feelings are coming from. Why do I lack the Christmas spirit?

Tonight I'll be surrounded by family, gorging myself on all the things I didn't get to eat at Thanksgiving. I'm sure there will be a great number of laughs between my cousin and I. I'm sure there will be more than a few sentimental moments that I'll, let's be honest, just pretend to play along with in the sentiment of it all. It's no secret that I haven't a sentimental bone in my body. I'm sure I'll field questions about the girlfriend that I don't have and my time frame for giving up and moving back to Virginia.

When all is said and done, it will be a good time had. Then I'll retire back to Mom's house, where I'll stay up all night watching A Christmas Story about six times in a row. But I still don't feel like singing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Finding More Readers

I had an interesting conversation with my boss today. He told me that I should find a way to get more readers on this blog.

He said that he thinks that I'd have more people reading if I were somebody. He wasn't trying to insult me. At least it didn't sound like he was insulting me. It sounded like he was complimenting me, implying that I write some interesting things. He said that if I were a columnist for a newspaper, people would read my stuff all the time.

So what do you think? Is that true? I'd love to be a columnist. But from what I understand, journalists work for years and would kill to have a regular column.

Charles went on to say that I should find a way to get the word out on the internet somehow. He did mention that if one were to Google "Carp Dime," my blog is the first thing to show up.

Anyone have any ideas? I'm thinking I could do a post one day and just list a bunch of famous names. Really, I could just list some frequently searched words and phrases. Then, when someone Googles those famous people or the frequently searched words and phrases, somewhere on the list would appear my blog.

I'm looking for other suggestions. Please feel free to comment...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Are You Ready For Christmas?

I like Christmas. I really do. But I'm ready for it to be over.

I know, it's the week of Christmas. I should be getting more excited as the days pass. But I'm not. I'm getting more annoyed.

I think the biggest part of my problem is that I'm tired of Christmas music. About a month ago, I was all excited that the local station was going to start playing round the clock Christmas music. But that was then. This is now.

A month of listening to nothing but Christmas music at work, every day, for eight hours straight... it gets tedious. There are only so many Christmas songs. And there are only so many covers of those Christmas songs. It's nice when there's a little variety, but really, how many times can you stand to hear Santa Baby in one day? Or Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You? Really gets old.

You know what else gets old? Having someone ask if you're ready for Christmas. I know I work at a bank and I know that there are tons of people who come in and are grasping for conversation starters. And during this, the week before Christmas, "Are you ready for Christmas?" seems to be the number one icebreaker.

I'm ready to start changing up my responses. "What? Christmas? Already!?" "Yes! I've been ready since March!" "Uh... I'm Jewish..."

I wonder how quick I could get them to feel uncomfortable. Yeah... ask your icebreakers now!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Greatest Hits: The Whistler

Originally posted 5/12/2008:

Back when I was in high school, I did some volunteer work for the Raleigh Court Public Library. While I was there working in the afternoons, I came in contact with a man who would come to be known as The Whistler. If you're from Roanoke and have lived in the Raleigh Court/Grandin Road area of the city, you may, in fact, know The Whistler.

Upon first impression, you may just see a somewhat disheveled elderly gentleman. One you may choose to ignore. One you may give sideways glances to, just to make sure he's staying on his side of the room. One you might think was a little odd. And I'll admit, for a long time, whenever I saw him, that was how I felt.

I never had a conversation with the man. I never introduced myself or even let him know I knew he was there. In fact, the most contact I personally had with him was a nod or a hello while I was at the library. Often he'd come in and read the daily newspaper, and then he'd walk back to his home, whistling all the way.

I think if I had taken the time to get to know this man, I would have discovered a kind man who probably just kept to himself for one reason or another. A story I heard from a teacher illustrates a bit of what may have been under the unkempt surface. This teacher had a roommate that was training for a 10k run and did so by running through The Whistler's neighborhood. Day after day the roommate would run by The Whistler's house while the man worked in his yard. One day, when The Whistler saw the roommate coming down the road, he began whistling Chariots of Fire. Maybe that was his way of encouraging the roommate without really saying anything.

So just remember when you pass one of those creepy houses in the neighborhood, think about who lives there. Everyone has their reasons for being the people they are. There may be times when it appears they're not reaching out to us, but maybe they are. Or maybe they're just waiting for one of us to do the reaching.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I vaguely remember hearing whispers about James Cameron's latest epic years ago. Something that was supposed to be a huge phenomenon that would dwarf the Titanic. But I didn't buy into the hype.

Even as this year arrived and carried on and the ComicCon in San Diego got more Avatar buzz buzzing, I didn't buy into the hype.

After 15 years of work, Cameron's new movie finally opened over the weekend. It's received a lot of press and a lot of favorable reviews. Those things, combined with the fact that I've never seen a 3-D movie before, convinced me to go and see what all the hype was about.

Okay, so that's not entirely true. I have seen a 3-D movie. But I'm not sure if I should count seeing Captain EO at DisneyWorld when I was 12.

Whatever the case, I was kind of excited when the girl at the box office gave me my 3-D glasses with my ticket. I entered the theater and found that it wasn't any more magical that any other trip I've made to see any other movie. Of course, I still had the glasses in my hand. Maybe once I donned them, the world around me would change.

After a few previews, the audience was instructed to put on their glasses. Then we got a few more previews. These were for upcoming 3-D films. All of which I think I'll be okay seeing in plain ol' 2-D if I get the choice. With Avatar, there was no choice at my theater. It was the extra money for the 3-D or no movie at all. Yeah, 3-D goes for an extra $2.50. Really great in these troubling economic times.

Anyway, the 3-D effect was pretty neat. And don't worry, I resisted the temptation to reach out and grab at the words that floated just before my eyes.

As for the movie itself, I'll admit it was impressive. The entire thing was visually stunning. The special effects were so realistic, it makes George Lucas' characters in the Star Wars prequels look like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I wonder if Hollywood has any limits anymore.

It's a distant future, where humanity has finally depleted the Earth of its own resources. This forces man to find a new world to exploit. The world they find is one known as Pandora, which is actually a moon orbiting a gas giant in a star system several light years from Earth. We're introduced to Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into the Avatar program after his twin brother's death.

What's the Avatar program? Well, you see, Pandora is inhabited by a number of species, one of which is intelligent: the Na'vi. The Na'vi are a tribal group who stand ten feet tall and have blue skin and cat-like tails. They each have a long braided ponytail which seem to have nerve-like tentacles on the ends. Using these appendages, they're able to connect to the animal and plant life on their world, literally connecting them to their land.

As part of the Avatar program, Jake grows accustomed to having his consciousness placed into the Na'vi/Human hybrid that was grown to house him. He finds himself caught between worlds. He is forced to choose sides in a conflict that would mean the destruction or the survival of Pandora.

The story itself did not seem too terribly original. It seemed to have a lot of influences from Dances With Wolves to The Matrix. That's not to say it wasn't enjoyable. It was actually very good. And, as stated before, it was visually stunning. Definitely worth seeing.

Taking off those 3-D glasses at the end was the true challenge. How was I to go from spending nearly 3 hours looking at a magical world that hovered right before my eyes and go back to the boring way I used to see things. I'm guessing, however, that the 3-D effect takes a while to wear off. I look around me, still, and see depth all over the place. Amazing.


The first memory I have of the word dare comes from that classic Nickelodeon game show Double Dare. If you are a child of the 80s, you know the one I'm talking about. It was a trivia show for kids. Marc Summers would ask one team a question. They could answer it for prize money, or they could dare the other team to answer for twice the cash. If they didn't know, they could double dare the first team for even more money. But if the first team still didn't know, they had to take the physical challenge. And that was the beauty of the show. 'Cause really, it was an excuse to watch kids my own age get really messy and win prizes for doing it. It was always a dream to get on that show. It never happened.

And of course there's the classic holiday film A Christmas Story. You must know where I'm going with this one. The kids are all standing around the flagpole in the dead of winter. The argument ensues, will a tongue stick to the metal flagpole if it's cold enough? The two friends in the heated debate egg each other on until one triple dog dares the other to lick the pole, just to see if it'll stick. And of course it does. Poor Flick.

I've always wondered how the idea of a dare would hold up in court. This was actually a conversation I had with a friend during lunch one day in high school. I don't remember much about high school, but for some reason this pointless conversation sticks out as clear as if it happened yesterday.

Our cafeteria was sort of a split-level deal. Down in a pit like area were most of the tables. This is where the underclassmen would all sit. Along the sides of the huge room were raised walkways, roughly four feet up from the pit. There was also a senior section located on high ground, but that's not important to the story. Like most schools in America, Patrick Henry had a police officer on campus at all times. He didn't always wear the uniform, but he always had his gun.

On this particular day, as Evan and I ate our crappy cafeteria food, we noticed the resource officer standing with his back against the railing, facing away from the general population. Evan's slightly deviant mind called my attention to the police officer. "I bet it wouldn't be too hard to grab his gun with him standing like that."

I gave Evan a strange look. I was pretty sure he wasn't serious, so I went along with it. "I dare you to go and grab it, then see how many rounds you can squeeze off before they wrestle you to the ground," he said. "You can shoot up if you want, that way you don't hurt anyone."

I didn't take that dare. But the conversation continued. I asked him how he thought that excuse would hold up in court. I could picture a judge asking me what was going through my mind when I grabbed Officer What's-His-Name's gun and just started shooting at the defenseless ceiling tiles. "Well, your honor, it's like this... Evan dared me to do it. And, well, I couldn't just back down from a dare."

At that point, the judge would probably have the DA and my attorney approach the bench, and in hushed tones, he'd look at the prosecutor and say, "The kid has a point." The prosecutor would just close his eyes, let his head hang down, and rub his forehead, knowing that he had no case at this point.

The judge would let the gavel fall with a heavy crash and shout that the case was dismissed.

Well, that's how Evan justified it. Lunch ended not long after. No one grabbed the gun that day, or any other day in my four years at Patrick Henry. Four years of peace. You can't trade that in for anything.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I'm pretty sure it's a bad idea to wait until six days before Christmas to begin one's Christmas shopping. But that's exactly what I did. Thankfully, I was able to begin and end it all in one place.

This isn't a commercial for Target. It's actually a friendly warning to folks to stay away from the super-retail stores of the world this close to Christmas. The place was packed today. It was amazingly uncomfortable knowing how many people were there.

I found myself weaving in and out of families and shopping carts. I nearly collided with more than one small child who had been left to his or her own devices and allowed to wander freely through the aisles.

As I watched all the people throughout the store, I got it in my head what an agoraphobe may feel. At least a tiny bit anyway. So many people in one place can be unsettling.

I'm not agoraphobic. And I don't know what someone with that fear may truly feel. But I can promise you that I'll be staying away from Target for at least the next week. Really glad I got all that shopping done.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Question of the Week: Famous

Would you like to be famous? In what way?

Heck yeah, I want to be famous. I want people all over the country to go into work each day and stand by the water cooler and say, "Man, did you read what Aaron put on his blog yesterday? Classic!" Do they give out a Pulitzer for blog writing? 'Cause they should.

Okay, really I don't care about being famous. I mean, it'd be nice to have a few more readers on a regular basis, but it is what it is. I don't sit around and write stuff because I necessarily want to be recognized. I do it because it's something I enjoy doing. If I could turn it into some kind of career, that would be more than enough for me. I guess that's the dream: getting paid to do what you love.

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

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


The power went off last night. It woke me up when things turned back on a few minutes later. Various electrical items in the house made that electrical click or hum when power is restored.

What really got to me, though, was the fire alarm in the corridor. It's got this continuous high-pitched ringing sound that pierced through all the walls. I jumped up and made my way to the door. When I stepped into the hallway, I was greeted by my sleepy neighbors across the hall. We exchanged cautious and weary glances. The woman standing there summed it up for me when she quietly said, "You've got to be freakin' kidding me..."

With that I turned around and went back inside my apartment. I decided to lie back down and attempt to sleep through the awful noise. Then I saw the flashing red lights coming from outside. That's right, the fire department had arrived.

At that point I decided to get dressed. Just in case I needed to evacuate the premises. I stepped back out in the hallway and saw two fire fighters walking up and down the passage. I caught the attention of one of them and asked if I needed to leave. He explained that everything was fine, they were just trying to figure out how to turn off that alarm.

From roughly 2:30am to 3:00, that alarm kept on going. I imagine that must be the equivalent of what dogs hear when someone blows a dog whistle. Except that it was on a frequency that my ears could comprehend. Real annoying though. It'll be nice if I can get a full night of sleep tonight... no back pain... no freakin' alarms...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


It seems that a lot happens to me while I'm driving. I come up with a lot of good blog posts based on the things I witness while I'm in my car. This morning as I was driving to work, I was in an accident.

First let me assure you all that I'm okay. I was not injured and my car is still drivable. But you know there's more of a story than that.

We were in heavy traffic, as is the norm for the early morning commute. So it was stop and go the whole way. It's just that when the cars in front of me and I stopped, the woman behind me didn't quite get that signal.

I have a tendency to look in my mirror whenever I feel like I hit the brakes quickly, just to make sure the person behind me knows to stop too. Most of the time, I see the driver behind me stop just short of hitting me. I'm used to that in the traffic I normally deal with. But this morning, I knew she wasn't stopping. I had time to let that thought float through my head as I watched her smash into my rear bumper.

We pulled off to the median. We were both more concerned for the safety of the other than with the damage done to either car. As we were both walking around and coherent of our surroundings, we proceeded from there. I made the call to the police, that way a report could be filed, just in case insurance wanted to have that record. She gave me all her information and asked me to call her once I got an estimate. She may just want to pay out of pocket, so I'll leave that to her if that's what floats her boat.

As for the damage to my car, the bumper is cracked and is buckled up in one spot. The only thing that concerns me is that I can't get my trunk open. The part that buckled up on the bumper seems to have it pinned shut. I don't so much care about having the bumper replaced. I don't care about the crack in it. If the damage is merely cosmetic, then it doesn't matter to me. I'd just like to get back into the trunk at some point.

So I've got the day off tomorrow. I'll take the car to a body shop and have them take a look at it. I'll find out how much they'll charge, and I'll also ask about just getting the bumper hammered back down so I can open the trunk. Either way, I figure I'll call the girl sometime and let her know whatever I'm told.

I've never dealt with all this insurance stuff. This is all very new to me.

I should have asked her to slam into my car a few more times. Maybe it could've gotten totaled. Then I could get a new car. One that doesn't have a new problem every three months.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Greatest Hits: Circumstances

Originally posted 4/3/2008:

This one might be long. It might be short. You can never really tell with these things. But the fact that it's late might cause me to rush things a bit.

Every week I participate in a home group Bible study at the Greenehouse. We're working our way through Experiencing God, a study which I think I may have worked through about 10 years ago, but it's good to be reminded of these things again.

Tonight we talked about how God can speak to us through circumstances in our lives, and I got to thinking about what has led me to this place. What has led me to Wake Forest? What has led me to seminary?

A little back story: back in college, I thought I was called to ministry. Then I had doubts about that. A Christian artist that came to Bluefield to play at a coffeehouse said something that made me rethink what God might have in store for me. So I pursued a different path.

In 2004 I finally left the town of Bluefield and returned to Roanoke to live with Dad. It was a very symbiotic relationship. I helped him with some of the finances, he helped me to save money. Okay, mostly he helped me out. I mean, the man was a heck of a cook. For two years I lived there, and in that time, Dad became my best friend.

Then, sadly, he passed away. Enter the circumstances. These are the circumstances that God used to put me back on that path I left behind me in Bluefield. And here I am in seminary, living in Wake Forest, knowing that this is where God wants me at this moment.

God never left anything to chance. He knew that I would doubt His call on my life all those years ago. He knew that I would have the chance to spend two great years getting to know my father better than I had in my first 18 years living under his roof. He knew exactly how Dad's death would affect me and placed people in my life to help me through that circumstance.

I could easily look back at Bluefield and think of myself as one who turned his back on God's calling. But God blessed me through it all. God remained faithful. Those last days with Dad were a true blessing. Of course I miss him. And I will miss him every day until I see him again, which I know I will. And that is comforting to me. So I thank God for speaking to me through every circumstance that I've come across in my life. And I thank Him for what He's going to do through my future circumstances.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Jim wasn't the kind of guy who considered himself brave. He lived his ordinary life working his ordinary job and spending time with his ordinary friends. He went to church, he paid his taxes, and he enjoyed a good steak from time to time. He was the kind of guy who would openly admit that he took a great deal of his freedoms and comforts for granted.

He was 21 the day the Towers fell; the day his world came to a standstill.

Jim normally didn't turn on the radio while he went through his usual morning routine. But something compelled him to do just that on that particular morning. As he stood in his bathroom brushing his teeth, he heard the DJ announce that a plane had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. He couldn't believe what he had heard. How could that kind of accident happen? Why would a plan be flying that low so close to Manhattan?

He switched off the radio and ran to the living room. Upon turning on the TV he immediately saw the column of black smoke rising from the first tower to be hit. He watched in horror as a second plane hit the South Tower. Jim's hands covered his mouth as the shock washed over him.

Jim was nowhere near New York City that day. He was nowhere near the Pentagon. He was nowhere near that field in Pennsylvania when that fourth plane hit the ground. But he heard the stories of bravery from those places.

He heard about the rescue workers who were on the scene as the towers fell. He heard about the men and women on Flight 93 who refused to let the hijackers of their plane use them as another weapon to take out an American symbol. He heard about the volunteers who gave up their time, energy, and money to help out any and all of those in need.

Jim went about his day as he normally would. He went to work and did his job. He gathered with his friends that evening. And like most everyone else, he was numb. There was a part of him that wanted to stop doing everything. That part of him wanted to sit on his sofa at home and just watch the news. But there was another part of him that knew that would accomplish nothing.

During the following days, when more stories of bravery came across the wire, Jim knew that continuing his life status quo just wasn't good enough anymore.

No, Jim wasn't the kind of guy who considered himself brave. But he wanted to be counted among those whom he did consider brave. Three days after 9/11, Jim went to the Army Recruitment Office and signed up.

Jim still doesn't consider himself brave. But the men in his unit do.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Perils of Pizza Delivery, Part 3

Last night I reported the following events through my Facebook status. If you're my friend on Facebook, then there's a good chance you saw the ensuing exchange of comments that was sparked by my initial posting. For the rest of you, the story is as follows...

I was driving along, minding my own business, la-de-da... As is typical for an early December evening, it got dark pretty quick. It was dark long before I began my shift last night. With the lunar cycle being in the position it currently holds, there was no moon to light up the night sky. This left me to drive around in the dark, seeking desperately for street names and house numbers.

As I made my way through a darkened neighborhood, searching for a particular house on a particular street, I narrowly avoided a disaster. Walking in my direction on the right side of the street was an elderly couple with their dog.

There was no sidewalk, so they were walking right in the road. They were wearing black overcoats, making them difficult to see in the lack of light. Their dog had no leash, making his movements unpredictable at best. Also, as an added bonus to the difficulty of the situation, a rather large SUV was driving toward me on the narrow residential street, unwavering in its path and unchanging in its speed.

Driving between 20 and 25 miles per hour, as I often do when searching house numbers, I swerved out and back in to avoid all of these obstacles.

As I did with my Facebook status last night, I would like to send out my tips for people who enjoy walking their dogs at night and want to live to tell the tale. First, wear reflective clothing. At the very least, wear something light, so it can be seen on the streets that don't have street lights to illuminate your path. Second, get a leash for your dumb dog! It's obvious that dogs are easily distracted. It's often joked about how dogs like to chase cars. Really, they'll chase and play with just about anything that's moving. Sadly, chasing cars can often lead to badness that I don't even like to think about.

And to those who questioned my driving skills in those Facebook comments, shame on you. I'm an excellent driver. Dad used to let me drive slow on the driveway.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Question of the Week: Finger

Would you have one of your fingers surgically removed if it somehow guaranteed immunity from all major diseases?

Do I get to choose which finger? Looking at my hand, I can't think of which one I'd rather get rid of, but I think I'd like to have that choice if that time came. So yeah, if I get that choice, I'd do it. Does the common cold fall under the major diseases category? How about the flu? I think it'd be nice to not get those anymore. Ever.

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

Thursday, December 10, 2009


So I really didn't sleep last night. And it wasn't for a lack of trying.

My left leg was hurting some kind of awful. There was absolutely nothing I could do to get comfortable. I tossed and turned for hours before sleep finally overtook me and I was too tired to deal with the pain in my leg.

The whole time I wondered what could be causing the pain. When I'd get up to walk around, I could still feel it, but it didn't get any worse. So it's not as if I was immobilized by it. When I would lie back down, it actually did get worse.

For years I've seen commercials for what's been deemed "Restless Leg Syndrome." All this time I've just thought of that as some condition that the pharmaceutical companies made up just so they could sell more drugs. But what if it's a real thing?

Woke up this morning after grabbing a few decent hours of sleep, felt right as rain. Sure hope that doesn't happen again. It was really uncomfortable.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Dear John

A few weeks ago I caught a trailer for the upcoming film, Dear John. It's based on a Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name. I knew nothing about the story before seeing the preview, but just watching two minutes of scenes from the movie made me want to tear up.

So I borrowed the book from Nicole. Today I finished that book. This makes three of Sparks' novels that I've read in the last few months. This one did not make me cry.

The book is about John, a man serving in the army, who meets the love of his life while on leave. In a matter of days he falls in love with Savannah and pledges to marry her when his tour of duty is finished. But then 9/11 hits, changing his plans for getting out of the military when his time was up. This puts an obvious strain on his long-distance relationship with the girl of his dreams.

I'm starting to really like Sparks' stuff. He has a way of painting vivid pictures through the eyes of his narrators. Looking through John's eyes, it was easy to fall in love with Savannah after only a few chapters. It was easy to feel the character's pain and loss when tragedy struck. It was easy to feel his sense of pride when he looked back on the choices that he had made.

Over all, it was a good read. I look forward to the movie when it hits theaters.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


It’s human nature to pass blame on to someone else. The Bible shows us that, even from the beginning, man was busy trying to shift blame for his own sin. When God asked Adam if he’d eaten from the only tree He commanded him not to eat from, Adam blamed Eve, and in turn blamed God saying, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” And Eve is just as bad. “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

And there we have the first example of people blaming Satan for their own mistakes. And this is a phenomenon that I find myself coming across a lot in my life. Back during college and even in recent months, I have heard people who are caught up in sin blaming Satan for their actions.

“Satan was just using that as a way to make me stumble.”

I’ll admit, about 90% (give or take) of my exposure to Christianity has been Baptist. So maybe this is just a popular ideology among Baptists. Those of you reading this that were exposed to other denominations; let me know if this phenomenon has spread throughout all of Christianity. I’m interested to read comments about this.

I’ll be honest. I’m sick of hearing the “devil made me do it” excuse. It’s such a cop out. It’s pathetic really. It’s what people say when they don’t want to take responsibility for their own stupid choices.

As a follower of Christ, I firmly believe that Satan was defeated when Jesus gave up his life as a sacrifice. Sure, I believe Satan is still in the world having his way with his people. But if you find yourself under the grace and protection of God, then Satan has no power over you. None. Zero. Satan is impotent when it comes to Christians.

Does that mean that I’m now sinless? Not at all. I’m still human. Part of the human condition is our frailty and our imperfection. Yes, I strive for perfection. I strive to live up to the example that Jesus set all those years ago in living His own perfect life. But I falter all the time. But I don’t blame Satan for my missteps.

If I’m sitting in front of my computer and I find myself looking at a pornographic website, is it because Satan snuck in and typed the address in the web browser? If I’m out with friends at a restaurant that serves alcohol and walk away stumbling drunk, is it because Satan came in and bought me that first drink? If I get cut off in traffic and start shouting obscenities at the driver in front of me, is it because Satan was whispering those words in my ear?

The answer is no. My human condition is weak. I’m the one who chose to surf the web to inappropriate websites. I’m the one who laid down the cash for that first beer. I’m the one who opened my mouth and let trash come out of it.

I can’t claim to know all the ins and outs of what’s deemed to be spiritual warfare. I’ve already said that I believe Satan is still out there in the world. But he isn’t ever-present and isn’t all-knowing. Temptations are bound to come our way, but it’s up to us whether we fall for those temptations or stand strong against them. Stop blaming some supernatural entity for your screw-ups.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Greatest Hits: Omelet Shoppe Confessions - Freebie

Originally published 3/15/2008:

One fateful post-Spring Formal evening, a large group of us decided to make a run to the Omelet Shoppe, as we often did after gala events. There were enough of us to have to sit at several tables, as there often were during any trip to the OS. At the time we arrived, the place was jumping. The all-night breakfast club was packed, so there was quite a bit of competition for tables.

After a long wait and several walking trips around the dining area, I sat at a table with two of my roommates, Mark and Dereck, and our friend Kristy. Gertie took our orders and (eventually) brought us our extremely greasy food. Being the good Bluefield College (a Baptist institution) students that we were, we said a prayer for the food. But our prayer was interrupted.

Let me take a minute to explain something that I had seen before we sat down. At one booth were a few ladies (of the night), one of whom was slumped over, seemingly half asleep (or possibly dead). When we sat, I was facing them, Dereck had his back to them. Does that paint the picture a little?

Back to the interrupted prayer... Dereck's got his head bowed, his eyes closed. Suddenly we hear, "Sir! Sir!" Dereck's prayer changed from a blessing for his food to a plea. A plea that this lady wasn't addressing him. He opened his eyes, and I said, "Dude, I think she's trying to get your attention." He just stared at me.

Finally he turned around. "Sir, could you pick that up for me please?"

Dereck's a polite guy. So he got up, bent down, and handed the woman the object that she had dropped on the floor. He came back to the table, looked at us, and said, "Yep, pretty sure that was a condom."

At this piont, our laughter could not be contained. Well, Dereck's could. He didn't think it was even a little funny. But to this day, I have to laugh. If I'm right (and when am I not?), this woman was a hooker (prostitute) who had her eye on Dereck and wanted to give him a freebie. That's what I think anyway.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Growing up, I went to church with a woman who was called Weird. I'm pretty sure for a long time, I thought that was her actual name. Really, her name was Jean. But to me, she was just Weird.

My Dad had become close to the Aekin family a long time before I was born. Apparently they all had nicknames for each other, and they even gave Dad one, but Weird's was the only one that stuck.

Dad liked to tell the story of how he was introduced to Weird. He was already friends with her sister, Patsy. So one day at church, he asked Patsy why they call her Weird. "Just watch her for a while."

So Dad began to watch Weird from across the room. She was involved in a conversation with someone else and must have noticed that she was being watched by my Dad and her sister. Without missing a beat, she began making faces at them.

Patsy just looked at Dad and said, "See what I mean?"

Weird would later teach my Sunday school class when I was in high school. It generally made for a fun Sunday morning lesson. It was the kind of class where you couldn't necessarily get into trouble for getting the church giggles. You know what I'm talking about? Where you start laughing over something ridiculous and you just can't stop. And the thought of how inappropriate your laughter is just makes your laughter worse. I take that back. I think I did get in trouble for that once.

New Moon

I'm late. It's after midnight. In my defense, I haven't been home for much of the day. And this may be the first time all year that I've been late with a blog post. Made it all the way to December. How do you like that?

I just got home from seeing New Moon. Statistically, I'm probably one of the last people in the country to see it for the first time. I hear it's been kicking some serious tail in the box office. Something about a record-breaking opening weekend or something crazy like that.

I'm not going to write an extensive review. Mostly because it's late. And at the start of the movie I had a headache. The only accessible medication was an Advil Cold & Sinus, which has a slightly drowsy affect on me. And while I'm typing what, to me, is completely coherent and understandable, I may come back and read it tomorrow and realize that I was in some kind of trance and none of this babbling makes any sense. If that is truly the case, I apologize.

So I'll say a few things about New Moon, but I don't think I'll be saying anything that hasn't been said before. This one was better than the first Twilight movie. An astonishing feat since I had no love for the book on which this sequel was based. I found the novel version of New Moon to be pretty dull. But the film was far superior.

Compared to the first movie, the acting was a lot better too. These kids seem to have adjusted to the characters they're playing and are a lot more comfortable with what they're doing. I still don't like Bella. I don't think that's a reflection of Kristen Stewart. I just don't like her character. I didn't like her character in the books either. So whiny and self-involved.

I do like Alice. I like Alice a lot. In a more than friends kind of way. And I don't care who knows it. You know, if thousands of squealing teenage girls can go gaga over Edward or Jacob, why can't I have a thing for a fictional vampire chick that sees the future? Plus, Ashley Greene is wicked hot. There, I said it. And to clarify, that's the girl that plays Alice. No relation to the Greenes that I'm friends with. But wouldn't that be nice? I'd love to have that connection.

Okay, I'm definitely rambling now. Time for sleep.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Question of the Week: Perform

If you were helping to raise money for a charity and someone agreed to make a large contribution if you would perform at the upcoming fund-raising show, would you? If so, what would you like to perform? Assume the show would have an audience of about 1,000.

Yeah, I'd perform something. I'd probably offer to sing a song of some sort since that's what I'd be most comfortable with. Not sure of the song I'd do. Any requests?

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

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Brought to You by the Letter K

Part of the fun of writing this blog is in not only making fun of others in my life, but poking fun at myself as well. This is definitely one of those posts that will make me look like a total and complete moron.

For years I've been watching and mocking the commercials for Kay Jewelers. I even tore apart one of their commercials in one of my own blog posts. I'm sure you've seen their ads with their slogan, "Every kiss begins with Kay."

Tonight as I was watching TV, it hit me... The word kiss begins with the letter K. Therefore, every kiss does begin with K. And let the mockery begin...

I know, I know... I pride myself on being quick witted and pretty good at picking up on the little things. Especially the little obvious things. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm closing in on 30 and I just figured out what Kay Jewelers is talking about.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Fun With Film

When I watch a movie for the very first time, I like to pay attention. I like to take in the images on the screen. I like to let my brain go to town analyzing the characters and the plot and the dialogue. It's not as if I pull every film I see apart and attempt to determine what the creators were trying to say with their use of symbolism. I know that sort of thing is out there, but I generally just watch a movie intending to be entertained.

That doesn't mean I don't pay attention when I've seen a movie dozens of times though. But with those kinds of movies, the ones I can watch over and over again, something becomes more fun about them. I won't talk during one of those first-timers, but when I'm watching something like Back to the Future, talking becomes a part of the viewing experience.

When I've seen a movie more than a few times, it becomes incredibly easy to tear it apart. When watching a plot unfold for the hundredth time, it's easy to find the holes and exploit them through biting sarcasm. There's something fun about mocking beloved movies.

But don't worry. I would never do that to Back to the Future, the most awesome movie ever made. Ever.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


I spend a lot of time complaining about certain aspects of my life. Complaining is something that's easy to do. It's easy to look around and find that I would like certain things in my life to be different than they are. I make it so much easier to complain about the things with which I'm unhappy than to praise God for all the blessings that are all over.

I realized today that so many of my problems and my complaints are trivial. I have so many friends who deal with real drama and real issues. Who am I to complain about the small things in my life?

Finding out that your loved ones are hurting can be heartbreaking, especially when you feel helpless in their situation. It's easy to offer prayerful support. But while I firmly believe in prayer as a powerful tool, I can't help but continue to feel helpless. I guess that's just human nature, to want to be able to take control of a situation rather than give it up to God.

Have you had a bad day? Take a moment to really take inventory of the blessings in your life. Then take a moment to pray for the people you love. Pray more for the people you don't. Pray for the people whose hurts may not even be showing on the surface. Meanwhile, I'm gonna pray that God will help me to get out of my own way so that I can recognize the pain in others, and offer to serve in any way for which He equips me.