Sunday, October 31, 2010

Coming Soon: The 30 Day Blog Journal

Okay, so coming tomorrow... For the month of November, I'll be doing this 30-Day Blog Journal. It's an idea that I stole from Ha Ha. Wait. What? That blogger stole the idea from Living Life as a Newlywed, who stole it from The Housewife. It may be impossible to actually trace the beginning of this thing. Maybe someday someone will teal it from  me and the chain will continue unbroken. Anyway, each daily post will be comprised of an item from the following list. Don't worry, I'll still post the Questions of the Week and the Legends of the Bank Teller and other various stories as they happen to occur. But November will definitely have all of these things. It's gonna be a crazy month guys, get ready.

Day One - Your Favorite Song
Day Two - Your Favorite Movie
Day Three - Your Favorite Television Program
Day Four - Your Favorite Book
Day Five - Your Favorite Quote
Day Six - 20 of My Favorite Things
Day Seven - A Photo That Makes You Happy
Day Eight - A Photo That Makes You Angry/Sad
Day Nine - A Photo You Took
Day Ten - A Photo Taken Over 10 Years Ago of You
Day Eleven - A Photo of You Recently
Day Twelve - Something You Are OCD About
Day Thirteen - A Fictional Book
Day Fourteen - A Non-Fictional Book
Day Fifteen - Your Dream House
Day Sixteen - A Song That Makes You Cry
Day Seventeen - An Art Piece
Day Eighteen - Your Wedding/Future Wedding/Past Wedding
Day Nineteen - A Talent of Yours
Day Twenty - A Hobby of Yours
Day Twenty One - A Recipe
Day Twenty Two - A Website
Day Twenty Three - A YouTube Video
Day Twenty Four - Where I Live
Day Twenty Five - Your Day, In Great Detail
Day Twenty Six - Your Week, In Great Detail
Day Twenty Seven  - Your Worst Habit
Day Twenty Eight - What's In Your Wallet (This was originally purse, but that would be not applicable in my case.)
Day Twenty Nine - Hopes, Dreams, and Plans for the Next 365 Days
Day Thirty - A Dream for the Future

So yeah... That's what I'll be doing for a while. It'll make for an easy post on those days when nothing is happening. Then in December I'm back to struggling for something to write about. Wish me luck!


I know that I usually put forth some effort into writing a piece of fiction for Sunday Scribblings. Sometimes that fiction is good, sometimes it's less than good. But as I'm writing this, I just got off work. I delivered pizza on Halloween, and that experience was intense enough. Tonight you get non-fiction. You get a piece of my real life.

According to legend, Halloween is a busy night in the pizza delivery business. Apparently, all those people who are sitting at their front doors handing out candy to all the neighborhood children either don't feel like walking into the kitchen to make dinner, or they don't want to leave their homes unguarded to go out to eat. Enter the delivery guy.

Last year, I worked on Halloween and experience none of the intensity that I experienced tonight. In fact, last year I was sent home early because the store was absolutely dead. And I don't mean "the walking dead." That, at least, would have been interesting. No, I mean we had no business. People weren't calling, therefore my position that night was obsolete.

This year was a different story. Things started a bit slowly, but then really picked up steam around 5:00. I was scheduled to work from 4 to 8, but didn't get off 'til 10 if that tells you anything about how busy we got. But I'm not here to complain about the amount of hours I worked tonight. Yes, I'm tired. Yes, I'm hungry, because I worked through those prime dinner hours. But working six hours also meant that I got plenty in tips, so my complaints in that aspect are minimal.

My complaints about Halloween in general, however, are extensive.

I consider myself to be a cautious driver. I think the driver's ed teachers like to call it "defensive driving." I'm pretty consistent when it comes to being on the look out for other drivers or pedestrians, especially when driving through residential neighborhoods. But driving on Halloween is an entirely different animal. Driving through a neighborhood during the day is one thing, you're able to spot kids playing in their yards or joggers on the sidewalk. But for some reason, people throw common sense out the window when October 31 arrives.

I very nearly killed two young girls tonight. I don't think that would be an exaggeration. It was already dark. I was driving around one of those roundabouts that are so popular around these parts. I couldn't have been going more than 15 miles per hour (so maybe it is an exaggeration to say those girls would have been killed). Suddenly these two girls dart across the road, running from the center of the roundabout to the outer part of the circle, where the sidewalk actually was. I slammed on my brakes and shouted obscenities. Thankfully my windows were up, so their young ears could not be offended by what I was saying.

Let me point out two mistakes that these young ladies made. First, they ran into the road without first checking to see if a car was coming. Second, they were wearing black. So they were moving quickly and were difficult to see. To me, that's a dangerous combination.

I'd like to give out some advice to parents who are planning to let their kids go out next Halloween. Go with them. I don't care how old they are. After all the stupid crap I saw tonight, I'm pretty sure not one of them is mature enough to handle walking around in the dark on their own. And if they're old enough to think that it's lame that their parents or their friend's parents have to chaperone them, then there's a good chance they're too old to even go trick-or-treating. And if they're too old for that activity, they're probably getting close to the age where it's time for them to get a job. They don't need to walk door-to-door begging for free candy. They can save up their money and go to the store to buy their own candy.

Okay. I'm done now. The rage has subsided. Good night everyone.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XC

As the drive-through bank teller, I deal with a lot of stupidity. But it's my job to deal with it quickly. In my experience, the people who are competent enough to get it right the first time they come to my window are the same people who are in a hurry. So no matter what, I have to pour on some speed when I run the transactions that I run.

In the lobby, there are several time consuming transactions that I'm just not allowed to do at the drive-through. I will do these transactions for someone if they've come into the branch and I happen to be free and clear and the next available teller. But today I'm presenting you with a list of things that I should not do for you or any other customer at the drive-through.

  1. I will not accept any transaction that involves more than $1,000 in cash. This is for security purposes more than time purposes. Large cash deposits, withdrawals, or payments really need to be done inside the building. Do you really feel comfortable hanging your arm out of your car window with $2,500 in your hand? Neither do I.
  2. I will not do a cash advance on your credit card. This is a time consuming activity. I have to walk away from my station and go to the machine that reads the credit card. I have to input your information. And then I have to wait for the slow dial-up modem to send and retrieve the signal that tells me it's okay to give you the money. There's no way this takes any less than five to ten minutes.
  3. I will not make out a cashier's check or a money order for you. Again, these are time consuming transactions. For the money order, I have to go over to the machine, set the type, and then print the money order. The cashier's check is much more complicated. I have to input all the information for the check into the computer. Then I have to walk over to the check printer. I have to load the printer with the check. I have to walk back to my computer to press enter. I have to walk back to the printer to get the check. I have to sign the check. I have to tear the check apart, making sure I have given you the original and the copy for your records. Above all other transactions that I'm trained to do, I hate cashier's checks the most.
Look, I realize that you don't want to get out of your car because it's cold or because it's raining or because you're fat and lazy. Maybe it's simply because you're in a hurry. But you know what? So is the person sitting in the car behind you, and chances are, all they have to do is deposit a check. Okay, odds are that that person is an idiot too and has nothing ready for me when he or she gets to the window, but you get the point. If you have one of those listed items to do, come inside. It's not going to go any faster with you in your car than it would if you came and stood in the lobby. Plus, you get to see the tellers' smiling faces without the obstruction of two inches of glass.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Question of the Week: Behavior

If you began to be very attracted to someone of another race, how would your behavior differ from what it would be toward someone of your own race?

I would start acting out, using every stereotype I've ever seen in TV and movies. I would be an embarrassment to myself and to anyone near me. It would be painful to watch. You would cringe.

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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Road Runner

Today as I was driving I found myself behind a Time Warner Cable van. If you've seen these vans, you know there's usually a picture of the Road Runner somewhere on the back. I guess the thing about Time Warner owning the Looney Tunes and a cable company, it's convenient to have a ready made mascot for your high speed internet.

Well, I was looking at this picture of the Road Runner and I got to thinking, what the heck was Wile E. Coyote thinking? I mean, have you even seen the Road Runner? That bird is all feet, neck, and tail. What kind of meal is that gonna be? Was he just gonna drop an anvil and then gnaw on the broken bones?

I'm thinking that, at first, it was about getting a quick meal. But then when he couldn't succeed, maybe it was about the challenge of catching the bird.

And what's up with the Coyote anyway? Aren't coyotes pack hunters? Where's the Wile E. pack?

Sorry, that got really random...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Death of Superman

Netflix has the animated movie, Superman: Doomsday available to watch instantly. So I turned it on the other night and, for a while, I was taken back to a time when I was just a kid. See, back toward the end of 1992, DC Comics decided that it would be a good idea to kill off its flagship super-hero, Superman. After watching the movie and seeing how different the story was compared to my memory of the comic books, I decided to dig out those old issues and re-read the story that's now 18 years old.

Since I was a youngster, I had been buying Superman comics each and every week. At the time, the Superman titles were extremely interconnected. What happened one week in an issue of Action Comics would directly effect the events in The Adventures of Superman a few weeks later. Each title had its own creative teams, but these teams worked closely together to make sure that the continuity in these stories was air tight. The way I understand it, they were sitting around discussing ideas for storylines.

Now, it hadn't been long since Clark Kent and Lois Lane finally became engaged. They'd been beating around that particular bush for more than 50 years by this time, so it made sense that Superman's girlfriend would finally become Superman's fiance. The next logical step would be Superman's wedding, right? Well, the powers that be wanted that little story to coincide with the new TV show that was just picking up steam, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Thanks to that little wrinkle, it would be a while before they could write and draw the wedding in the comics.

So they needed some stories to kill time until the wedding. Apparently, at these meetings, it became a running joke for someone to shout out, "What if we kill him?" This time, when someone said it, they just looked at each other and said, "What if we did kill him?" And Doomsday was born.

Nothing was known about the monster who would finally do in the Man of Steel. In the end, Superman's death wasn't caused by kryptonite. It wasn't caused by Lex Luthor's diabolical schemes. By the way, at the time, Lex Luthor was supposedly dead, but his brain had been saved and placed into a cloned body and he was masquerading himself as his own son, Lex Luthor II. It's all very soap opera-ish. Anyway, nothing was really known about Doomsday when he appeared on the scene. He was just this brutal figure who caused destruction with every step he took. He took down each member of the Justice League until only Superman remained to go toe-to-toe with the creature.

The epic battle raged on from the middle of Ohio until they reached downtown Metropolis. And at the front door of the Daily Planet building, Superman and Doomsday threw their final punches. In the end, it was one final blow for each of them, and they both fell. Superman died in Lois Lane's arms, his final breath was spent expressing concern for whether Doomsday had been stopped. And then he died.

Eventually, he got better. I mean, did anyone really expect Superman to die and then stay dead? But you know what? As I was reading the original issues all over again, I found myself getting a little emotional. I didn't burst into tears or anything like that. But even knowing the outcome of the entire story arc, it was touching seeing Superman say his final good-byes to the love of his life. And I didn't even mention the funeral and the grave robbers and the four impostors claiming to be Superman. It got really complicated after Superman died.

All those issues were collected into a graphic novel format. So if you are feeling particularly comic geeky, go out and pick it up. It's a pretty good story overall. And it's a lot better than the animated movie they made a few years ago.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Flux Capacitor... Fluxing...

Today is October 26th. This means that it's the 25th anniversary of the day Marty McFly first took a trip into the past to mess with the space/time continuum. How does the world get to celebrate? Well, the powers that be have released the Back to the Future trilogy on Blu-Ray DVD for the first time. It should go without saying that I want it. But Blu-Ray movies are expensive when there's only one of them. For a trilogy, it's a little ridiculous. So I'll be saving pennies for a while.

In other news, have you heard about the fact that there may actually be someone out there who has the ability to travel through time? I saw an article today that linked to a video with "proof" of someone from the future showing up in the past. According to the video, which includes footage of the 1928 premiere of Charlie Chaplin's Circus, there is a woman walking on the sidewalk talking on a cell phone. Hard to believe? Of course I had to watch the video myself.

Sure enough, it looks like she's talking on a cell phone. This woman is just walking along, holding something up to her ear and talking as if on the phone. She's walking alone, so if she isn't talking on some sort of phone or communication device, she's talking to herself, and is obviously crazy. If it were a video shot this year, there would be no question that's what she's doing. But the video was shot in 1928.

Below is the clip from YouTube and it's introduced by George Clarke. The entire video itself is over 8 minutes, but the clip from the 20s showing the alleged cell phone woman begins at 2:40. What do you think it could be? I mean, even if it's some woman on a cell phone, how was she getting a signal? It's 1928! There were no cellular towers at that time, right? What network was she using? Does Verizon break the time barrier? Anyway, watch for yourselves. Let's hear your thoughts...

Monday, October 25, 2010


I noticed this morning that the local meteorologists were calling for some scattered storms today. It was a little cloudy, but storms? Doubtful.

The hours passed and the clouds rolled in and out of view. The sun even peaked out on occasion. Then suddenly, without warning, the rains arrived.

The rain may not have poured all over Raleigh at the same time, but in my bank's parking lot, it appeared as if monsoon season had started. Sheets of rain fell hard. Small rivers quickly formed and gathered in small ponds in several sections of the asphalt.

More often than not, I stare out the drive through window wishing I was outside. Today was not one of those days. At least, not during the twenty minutes of nonstop rain. Funny enough, the "monsoon" was really nothing of the kind. There was a lot of wind and rain for a short amount of time. And then it was over.

By the time we closed the bank, the parking lot was dry once more. As quickly and mysteriously as the storm came into our lives, it was gone. They're calling for more rain as the week progresses. I'll believe it when I see it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Stephen was only 10 years old the day he thought the world was going to end. What made it worse was that he thought it was all his fault. That's a lot of responsibility for a kid that age to shoulder.

He and his older sister, Heather, were spending the summer with their uncle at his cabin by the lake. For Stephen, most of the time, summers like this meant a lot of fun times: swimming in the lake, camping in the woods, climbing trees, and even shooting his uncle's bow and arrows at the targets from the shed. But this year things were a little different. Heather had just turned 16. Stephen knew that his big sister had decided that she was too old to hang out at the lake and sleep in the woods. She was starting to get too interested in make-up and clothes and boys. She wasn't any fun anymore.

So for the most part, Stephen was on his own this summer. Sure, Uncle Roger was fun to hang out with, and even though he worked from home, there were still chunks of the day when Roger wasn't available to enjoy a second childhood with his only nephew. But Roger trusted Stephen to know his own limitations. Stephen was allowed to wander around and explore the woods near his uncle's cabin.

Even though he spent these hours alone, Stephen was still able to enjoy himself. By nature, he was a curious individual, so the time that he spent exploring the lake shore seemed like an exciting adventure. One day, while he was skipping rocks on the lake's surface, something odd caught his eye. Not too far away from where he stood, he saw a strange creature that he couldn't identify. The thing was short and squat. It walked on two legs and had a face, almost like a person. But it was nearly completely covered in thick brown hair. Stephen's best guess was that this was a troll.

But his eyes must have been playing tricks on him. Even at the age of 10, Stephen understood the difference between reality and fiction. Trolls were creatures that existed only in stories, weren't they? Even if they did exist, there were no bridges nearby. Weren't trolls supposed to live under bridges? Stephen's young mind was racing with possibilities, and his curiosity got the better of him. So he followed the troll deeper into the forest.

Stephen was careful not to be seen. What if this was an angry or unfriendly troll? From the stories that he had heard, Stephen understood trolls to be fairly unpleasant creatures. He knew the longer he could go undetected, the better off he'd be. Just as these thoughts had passed through his head, however, Stephen stepped on a twig, creating a very loud CRACK! The boy froze, but it was too late. The troll turned and spotted him instantly.

He wasn't sure what to do at this point. He thought about turning and running back to his uncle's place. He had seen the troll move, he was pretty sure he could outrun the thing. But he was still curious about what this thing really was. He still wanted to know what in the world a troll was doing here in real life in these woods. He watched the troll as it stooped over to pick up a rock. Stephen barely had time to raise his hands in defense as the rock came flying at his head. He was able to deflect the stone and avoid a serious head injury, but his right arm would have a heck of a bruise later on.

The thing had taken off through the forest. And despite the obvious fact that Stephen could be putting himself in danger by chasing this creature, he ran after the ugly little troll. This thing was up to no good and he was going to find out why it was here. The troll disappeared into a hole in the ground. Stephen showed no fear and leapt in after it.

In the dim light of the small cavern, Stephen saw the troll insert a long crystal into a small hole in the cave wall. "What are you doing?" he asked, unsure if the troll would even understand him.

"I'm going home!" yelled the troll as a swirling vortex of light and smoke appeared out of nowhere. "I don't belong in this world, I should never have come here exploring it!"

Stephen's young mind was racing. "You're from another world?" He couldn't believe what he was seeing or hearing.

"Of course I'm from another world! Do you see many of my kind very often?" the troll laughed at the kid. "Yeah, I didn't think so."

The troll turned back to the vortex and got ready to jump into the hole in reality. "Wait! I have so many questions!" Stephen yelled as the vortex grew larger and louder.

"Kid, I don't have time to sit through your interrogation! I've already activated the portal. If I don't get to the other side to deactivate it, it'll just keep growing and it'll destroy both our worlds!"

But it was already too late, and Stephen knew it. He could feel himself being pulled into the swirl of light. His feet flew out from under him and he landed hard on his back. He flipped himself over and clawed at the ground. He knew this was all his fault. If he hadn't chased the troll, if he hadn't jumped in after it, if he hadn't asked it so many stupid questions, the world wouldn't be sucked into this black hole.

Suddenly he felt the wind growing colder as it blew over his body. He knew he was being pulled into the vortex and he was powerless to stop it from happening. The view of the cave around him was growing smaller and smaller until it disappeared all together. And then it was dark and quiet. There was no more wind. There was no more vortex. But where was the troll.

Stephen stood up and looked around. His eyes adjusted to the darkness and he finally saw the troll. It was staring right into his face. "Great, you got sucked in." The troll closed its eyes and shook its shaggy head. "Well, kid, I think it's safe to say you're not in Kansas anymore."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2

About a year ago, Paranormal Activity reached wide release and was touted as one of the scariest movies ever made. And now, its sequel has made it to theaters. A few days ago, I started seeing quick reviews and Twitter feeds claiming that Paranormal Activity 2 is scarier than the first one. I'm a fairly skeptical person when it comes to claims of sequels one-upping their predecessors. So I had to see this one for myself. It should go without saying that spoilers abound. You have been warned.

Yesterday afternoon I was scheduled to leave work a few hours early. So I took the opportunity to catch a matinee of the new movie, which isn't so much a sequel as it is a prequel to Paranormal Activity with a scene at the end showing a short aftermath of the first one. That being said, it really didn't feel like much of a prequel either. Really, it felt more like a remake with a bigger budget and a bigger cast.

The story itself takes place roughly two months prior to the events of the first film. Instead of one camera and one young couple, we have several security cameras placed strategically throughout a larger house and we have a blended family. This family consists of Dan (the dad), Kristi (the mom/step-mom), Alli (the teenage daughter), Hunter (the baby boy), Martine (the live-in housekeeper), and Abby (the dog). Remember Katie and Micah from part one? They show up from time to time during this one too. Kristi is Katie's sister and experienced the same hauntings growing up as Katie did. So when things start going bump in the night, Kristi is a little more inclined to be freaked out than her husband.

And things do start going bump in the night. The demon from the first film is back with a vengeance. Actually, seeing as how this takes place before the first film, the demon is here for the first time with a vengeance. The invisible bad guy seems pretty attached to Hunter and when all these strange things begin happening, Alli begins to do some internet investigating. In her research, she finds that, in legend, people are known to have made bargains with demons for wealth and/or power in exchange for the soul of their firstborn son. She digs into Kristi's family tree and discovers that Hunter is the first male child born in four generations. This leads the frightened teenage girl to hypothesize that somewhere down Kristi's family line, someone made a deal with the devil.

As with the first film, things get progressively worse. Dan refuses to believe that the haunting is real until it's so severe that he can't ignore it. He even manages to explain away some of the video that his cameras have recorded. But when his wife becomes nearly catatonic, he is forced to accept the facts for what they are. After a frightening and violent confrontation, Dan forces the demon away from his family by somehow transferring it to Kristi's sister, Katie, bringing us back to the beginning of the first film. And if you saw the first film, you know how well that turned out.

Once those events take place, we come back to a sort of epilogue in this film. The demon has taken possession of Katie and returns to her sister's house with a vengeance. For real this time. After taking out the parents, Katie-demon takes Hunter and leaves. According to the producers, their whereabouts are currently unknown. Alli returned from a school trip a few days later and found her parents' bodies in the house. This leaves us with an emotionally scarred girl, ripe for a third movie.

Was it scarier than the first one? I don't think so. But I don't think it was a bad movie either. The thing is, Paranormal Activity just kind of came from out of nowhere. Yeah, the shaky camera thing had been done with Blair Witch, but it was a very different take on that style of horror. And I get that the cameras were a lot more stationary this time, giving it a Big Brother kind of feel, but the idea was basically the same. The story itself really just felt like a repeat of everything that was seen a year ago. And that's what the filmmakers did this time around. They took all the things that made the first one good and just made them bigger.

I think it's a movie worth seeing, but it's probably just as good if you wait for the DVD. Like the first one, it's the kind of scary movie that I really like. It's the kind of scary that gets into your head and allows your imagination to do most of the work.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Question of the Week: No

Do you find it so hard to say "no" that you regularly do favors you do not want to do? If so, why?

It really depends on the person that's asking the favor. There are certain people in my life, friends, family members, for whom I would do anything, no matter what. But then there are others that I could tell no with no problem. So for those select few that I'll say yes to pretty much anything, it's inevitable that I'll get stuck performing favors that I don't necessarily want to do. But that's what it means to love people. Sometimes you have to sacrifice what you want or what's comfortable for you in order to make those people a little more comfortable.

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

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXXXIX

I don't watch the news. I just don't. It isn't that I'm not interested in what's going on in the world. I just don't take the time to turn on the television to actually find out what's going on in the world. Besides, aside from the fluff pieces at the end, the news is pretty depressing most of the time. The majority of the news I see comes from the iGoogle home page, which isn't a lot.

That being said, I'm not sure how much of our local news has leaked out to the rest of the country. But I can't help but think that the Raleigh/Durham/Triangle area is the laughing stock of the banking community at large. In case it's news to you, we've been getting hit with a lot of bank robberies.

The sad thing? Most of those robberies have been perpetrated by the same individual. Not the same group of people. Just one guy. He's suspected of robbing twelve different locations in this area. I'm not exactly hip to the criminal scene, but to me, that seems like a lot. So is there something wrong with our banks, or even with our law enforcement, that causes us to be unable to catch this guy?

I heard about one of his robberies. He went to one of my bank's branches and just asked for the money. He wasn't armed. He just demanded the money and left. How does the same guy, who isn't packing any heat, keep getting away, time and again?

So, honestly, is Raleigh the laughing stock of the banking world?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Town

I’ve mentioned a few times that I was on vacation last week. And I didn’t go anywhere. So most of my week consisted of sitting in my apartment. I did a lot of reading. I did some writing. I watched more than a few movies. Other than that, it made for some pretty boring me time. At one point, I’m pretty sure I posted that status on Facebook, mentioning that the next time I take a vacation I’ll be going somewhere, just so I can avoid the boredom that last week provided.

In response to that status update, my friend over at I Seek With All My Heart sent me a message on Thursday. She suggested that I give her husband a call because he was planning to catch a matinee that afternoon. This was great. Not only did it mean I was going to get out of the apartment for a few hours, it meant seeing a friend that I hadn’t seen in a couple months. I called and we decided on the 3:35 showing of The Town.

This is one that I’ve seen previews of for several months. It stars and is directed by Ben Affleck and before it came out it seemed to be compared a lot to The Departed, a movie which was pretty awesome. The gist of it is that it’s about a group of guys from the Charlestown neighborhood in Boston who are career bank/armored car robbers. Affleck plays Doug Macray, who is the obvious brains behind the operation. The problem is that he’s got a bit more of a conscience than the other guys, especially his best friend, James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), who has no qualms about injuring or even killing witnesses to make sure no one talks.

Well, they rob a bank. And they’re worried that one of the witnesses, Claire (Rebecca Hall), may be cooperating a bit too much with the FBI. Jimmy wants to “take care” of her, but Doug steps in so that no one needs to die. This works out great until Doug falls in love with Claire. Meanwhile, Special Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) puts all the pieces together and figures out the identities of these bank robbers. So Claire is caught between the guy she’s fallen in love with and turning him in to the Feds.

Overall it’s a pretty decent flick. It’s an entertaining story that’s dark and gritty, which is probably where a lot of the comparison to The Departed comes from. Also, it takes place in Boston, so that adds to the similarities. It gets a thumbs up in my book.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Hunger Games

For a while now I’ve been hearing buzz about this Hunger Games series of novels. It’s a trilogy that begins, oddly enough, with The Hunger Games. This book is followed closely by Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Once again, I didn’t catch wind of these books until the third one had already been released. You know, just once in my life I’d like to find the first book of an awesome series before the sequels have been released. I’d like to be one of those people who create buzz about the awesomeness of a book before everybody and their brother has already read it and I’m the only fool that’s never even heard of it. Anyway, I finally got around to picking up The Hunger Games. And the people on the Facebook were right. It’s pretty awesome.

There might be some spoilers coming up. So if you haven’t read it yet, you may want to not read this post. I’m talking to you Most Awesome Person I Know.

The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where North America doesn’t exist in the same way that it exists today. All the people know about their world is that they live in the country of Panem which is ruled from a shining city called The Capitol. Surrounding the Capitol are 12 districts. At some point in the past, there were 13 districts. However, when these districts attempted a rebellion, the Capitol struck back and destroyed District 13 as punishment. The remaining 12 districts were then kept on a very tight leash.

As a way of exerting its power over the people of the districts, the government began the annual Hunger Games. Each year, a representative would appear in each district and choose one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the games. They were chosen by having their names drawn out of a fishbowl. But these games aren’t as fun as the name would imply. The games basically consist of a gladiator style deathmatch. The last kid standing wins.

Seems kind of cruel to make kids fight for their lives on national TV, right? Well, that’s the kind of sadistic future government that we’re dealing with in The Hunger Games. Our heroine, Katniss Everdeen, wasn’t initially supposed to participate in the games. I mean, her name was in the fishbowl. In fact, it was in there several times. From what I understand, one’s name is entered once at the age of 12, then each year they add it again. So by the age of 18, one would have their name in the bowl at least seven times. But one could also add more chances in exchange for extra rations for one’s family. That’s Katniss’ case. However, her 12-year-old sister, Prim, had her name in there too. Of the two of them, the odds were more likely that Katniss would be drawn out, as opposed to Prim’s one little slip of paper. But the little sister’s name is drawn. In a moment of self-sacrifice, Katniss volunteers herself to take the place of her little sister.

This is only the beginning of an anxiety riddled story that ultimately leads to Katniss becoming an unintentional rebel and leads her to have some pretty confusing and unexpected feelings. Katniss Everdeen performs admirably while in the arena of the games. She not only plays against her opponents, but also plays upon the desires of the television audience, whom she knows can reward her with helpful gifts throughout the bloodbath.

As main characters go, she’s the kind of person that young people can look up to. She’s strong, she’s independent, and she’s selfless in her actions. This is a stark contrast to another recently popular female lead, a character that I believe to be, just about, the worst character in literary history. I won’t mention any names, but if you can’t guess who I’m talking about, feel free to ask. I don’t want to publish it here because that girl and the books in which she can be found have a cult following. I could be hanged by those cultish followers.

Anyway, The Hunger Games is kind of awesome. And I very much look forward to reading Catching Fire. Which I will do as soon as it arrives in the mail. I love buying used books for cheap.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Final Adventure of the Staycation

The weekend was somewhat hectic. As I mentioned in Saturday’s post, I helped The Most Awesome Person I Know to move out of one home and into another. The bulk of that work was completed that day. Yesterday morning I received a call requesting my help in moving one last item. The refrigerator.

This was a beast of a refrigerator. However, I feel that it was nothing compared to the armoire that was taken from the second floor of the house to the first floor of the new place. I know it’s a bit off topic, but let me tell you a little about that armoire. There were three of us. Well, two and a half if you consider how ridiculously pitiful my strength was by that time of the evening. For a while it looked as if we weren’t going to be able to carry the thing down the stairs. So we got the idea to slide a rug underneath it, then allow it to have a controlled slide down the stairs. Once we got this little project started, I had flashes of two people being crushed under this thing as it lost control down the stairs while the third person, at the top, watched in horror. So in the end, we decided that lifting and moving one step at a time was the best bet. Two and a half men—1; Armoire—0.

Back to the fridge. So we got it moved out of the house and it really wasn’t that complicated. Turns out they wouldn’t need me to get it back out of the trailer at the new place, so I was released from my indentured servitude and went back home. However, I was promised a hot lunch if I was interested, which, of course, I was. That’s one of my rules: Never turn down free food.

But plans, they change. I got home, parked my car, and went upstairs to my apartment. I ate a bagel to hold me until lunch. I laid down on the couch watching a movie. This turned out to be the bad idea. I woke several hours later. I had missed two phone calls inviting me to lunch and missed a text from The Most Awesome Person I Know asking if I would be able to make it over for some television viewing. I slept for over three hours. I must have been tired.

I may have missed lunch, but I was certainly ready to sit down and watch The Amazing Race, a show which, until this weekend, I thought I might be tough enough to actually do someday. No, it’ll never happen. So I got ready to head over to TMAPIK’s new home. I went to my car. I got in. I turned the ignition and got nothing. Suddenly it registered that the dome light never came on when I opened the door. The battery was obviously dead.

So I called TMAPIK back and let her know that I wouldn’t be making it for the show and to enjoy it without me. She offered to come over this morning once the kids were safely at school to help me jump the car. Here’s where the adventure really begins.

She arrived here just before 10AM. We connected the jumper cables, making sure we were doing it just right. She started her car. I attempted to start mine. Again… nothing. So then we Googled “how to jump-start a car” just to make sure we were getting it right. I may be a guy, but that doesn’t mean I’m exactly knowledgeable when it comes to the automobile. I wish I knew more than I do. I really should’ve taken auto shop back in high school.

Oh well, we can’t live in the past. My ignorance is where we are today. The internet informed us that we were doing it right all along. So she took me to Advance where I purchased a new battery. Now, I’ve never installed a car battery before. But in buying the battery, I made it seem like I was very confident and knew what I was doing. The saleswoman didn’t ask if I knew what I was doing, she just rang me up and sent me on my way. But my thinking is: they do it for free at Advance, so it can’t be too difficult.

We got the battery back to my car and I began unhooking wires from the old, dead battery. I went to lift the battery out of the car and it wouldn’t budge. Two guys from the apartment complex came over and they tried. Nothing. So at least I know it’s not just my wussitude this time. Turns out, there was a bracket on the side that was holding the stupid thing in place. I got that moved and eventually got the batteries switched.

Praise the Lord, the car started right up. I went to put the dead husk of a battery into my trunk so I could return it to Advance and get a $12 refund on the new battery, and when I did, I noticed that the brake lights were on. There was no one in the car pressing the brake pedal. This was not a good sign.

One more thing.

So I went to Advance. I got my $12. And I asked the guy if he knew what that problem could be and if he knew of someone who could fix it for cheap. He sent me, as luck would have it, right across the street to a Merchant’s Tire & Auto. In about 45 minutes they had it fixed and it cost less than $50. Better than I thought it would be.

So that’s my last adventure of the staycation. I’m not saying I’m ready to go back to work. I’m just ready to not have my car fall apart anymore.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I've been a fan of Superman my entire life. I've seen the movies. I've watched the TV shows. I've read the comics and graphic novels. But I've never attempted to write an original story using the character. This is my first attempt. Depending on reaction, it may be the last. Hopefully I won't get into too much trouble with DC Comics (since Superman and related characters belong to them). More importantly, I hope I don't get into too much trouble with other die-hard comic book geeks.

The sun was shining brightly on Superman's face as he hovered miles above the earth. It was mid-day in mid-October, a time of year that he used to really enjoy. Even here, so far away from his childhood home in Smallville, his super-senses still allowed him to catch the scent of crops being harvested, of dust being kicked up by tractors.

Harvest time meant a lot of things to young Clark Kent. For one thing, it meant the holidays were coming. And just because his physiology wasn't the same as everyone else it didn't mean he didn't enjoy Ma's Thanksgiving spread. But more than a great meal toward the end of November, the harvest meant that Clark got to spend a little extra time with Pa.

Jonathan Kent taught Clark a lot of valuable life lessons in raising the boy from another world. One of those lessons was the importance of putting in a hard day's work. Sure, Clark could have cleared the back 40 in a minute flat without the help of any machines, but that didn't mean that he should. "The earth took its time to grow the corn," he said one day as Clark expressed his disappointment at not being able to use his speed. "I think we should take our time in gathering it."

Thinking back on that time brought a smile to the Man of Steel's face. His dad was gone now and he still missed him every day. But this time of year still reminded him just how important Jonathan Kent was in shaping the man who would become Superman.

He began flying lower, weaving his way around buildings, making his presence known in the city. This time of year meant something different in Metropolis. Just as it was when he was a boy, the harvest time meant the holidays were on their way. But the holidays take a different turn in the big city. People grew desperate as the holidays approached. And Superman knew that desperate people could be counted on to make bad decisions.

In the coming weeks, he may not necessarily be faced with an alien invasion or an attack from Metallo or even a scheme hatched by Lex Luthor, but he would almost certainly need to step in when someone gets mugged or a bank gets robbed. He may be faced with regular people who are desperately attempting to make ends meet. Superman knew that, in these cases, he wouldn't be able to rely on strength and speed when hurting and hungry families were involved.

He was a symbol for truth, justice, the American way, but what good is that in a world where people are suffering at the hands of poverty and disease? Suddenly, he heard a child's voice yell, "Hey, Superman!" He slowed and turned toward the direction of the voice. He smiled and waved at a group of kids jumping up and down on a playground. And for a moment, as he shot straight up into the air, he thought that maybe giving people hope would be enough for now.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I have only a few short days until I return to work. But that doesn't mean I haven't spent some of my time off doing some actual work.

Today I helped The Most Awesome Person I Know move into a new apartment. And I need to admit something that isn't exactly the most macho of things to admit. I am a wuss.

In my defense, I did wake with a headache, as I have done so often recently. For this, I blame the recent climate change signaling the coming of autumn. Just as I thought I had kicked the headache this morning, I made my way over to the house to start loading a trailer.

And then I helped to move the washer, the dryer, and a rather large sofa. I felt like I was going to throw up. The headache came back with a vengeance. I fought through it. I got past the nausea. I was somewhat helpful throughout the day.

But I decided that I really need to start working out. Eventually, I myself will have to move. I don't have a lot of friends around here. So finding strong backs to help move the furniture will not be an easy thing to find. And I certainly can't afford to hire people to move me. So I'll definitely need to build up some strength so I can at least do my part of the work.

Of course I was thanked for helping out today. But I really feel like I didn't do much at all.

Anyone have a Bowflex they're not using? If you're willing to let me borrow it, you'll have to find a way to get it here. There's a good chance I won't be able to lift it and move it into the apartment.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Question of the Week: Severe

If you knew that your child would be severely retarded and would die by the age of five, would you decide to have an abortion?

Absolutely not. If it's God's will for me to have a child with any kind of handicap, whatever the case may be, then it's for a reason. If an abortion was chosen as a viable option, it's hard to tell what we would miss out on for the five years that we get to have that child in our lives.

Do you watch Glee. I'm sure I've mention before that I watch it. In fact, I know I've posted clips from the show before. For a little background, there's a character named Sue Sylvester. She's a tough as nails cheerleading coach that rarely has a nice thing to say to anyone. She rarely takes down her defenses to show that she can be vulnerable. But one area where she is vulnerable is with her older sister, who has Down Syndrome. Here's a very short clip from a recent episode where the characters all dealt with their faith issues. Sue's sister, I think, says it all.

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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXXXVIII

I mentioned the other day that I was not going to be working for a while. So why would I possibly be writing a Legend of the Bank Teller if I haven't even been to the bank since last Friday? Why would I write about a job that shouldn't even cross my mind until I wake up Tuesday morning?

Today was a typical staycation kind of day. Well, not really typical. I went to see a movie with a friend. You'll hear about that soon. Let's try to focus on the topic at hand.

While I was sitting in the darkened theater, I felt the phone in my pocket start to buzz. I looked and saw that I had a text message from my assistant manager, whom you know as Barney Stinson. The following is an exact transcript of the texts that he has sent me throughout the afternoon.

Barney: U just missed me punch the wall
SingleGuy: Is there a story to accompany the punching of the wall or did the wall just piss you off?
Barney: I ran ur window all afternoon. U truly have the worst job on the planet. Why does God create so many stupid people?
SingleGuy: I may have to quote you for my blog.
Barney: Plz do. It was brutal. Station got kicked. Punched wall. Took off shoe when foot got sore and banged shoe on station
Barney: Accidental GD with microphone on

So it sounds like there was a pretty eventful day at the bank. I'm just sorry I missed out.

No. I take that back. I'm not sorry I missed out. I'm sorry that Barney has to put up with what I deal with on a daily basis. But he only has to put up with it for this week. I'll be back Tuesday to take crap from my regulars. I particularly like what he said about me having the worst job on the planet. I'm never really sure that's entirely true. But at least there's someone out there now who can sympathize when I have my bad days.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Freaking Out

This morning, just before the sun rose, I woke up to make a trip to the bathroom. This is a normal thing. I stand up, a little disoriented from the fact that I've just opened my eyes for the first time in several hours. It's still fairly dark, but I know my way around the place well enough to not bump into dressers or bookshelves on my short walk to the bathroom. But this morning, something different happened. In my confused state of being, I stubbed my toe on a flip-flop that I had lazily tossed onto the floor at some point yesterday.

My disorientation caused me a moment of panic. In a matter of seconds, I went through a range of reactions that mostly involved freaking out and thinking that I was somehow going to die because I hit my foot on something I didn't immediately recognize. My pulse began to race and for a moment I lost balance. I entertained my worst fears there in the darkness of my living room. But then I realized that it was just a flip-flop. I wasn't going to fall down. I wasn't being attacked in my own home. I was going to live.

But this brings me to something that I think single people who live alone can admit they think about from time to time. What if something happens while I'm here all alone? For me, I'm in my apartment alone most of the time. I rarely get visitors and I've never had a surprise guest to just show up at my door. So what happens if I'm stepping out of the shower one day, slip on a wet spot on the floor, and crack my head on the toilet?

I suppose the upside is that I could possibly wake up with an image of the flux capacitor in my head, giving me the ability to one day fulfill that dream of time travel. The downside is that I could very possibly slip into some kind of coma. That being the case, no one would come to check on my until a couple weeks into the month when the property manager would finally investigate why I hadn't paid the rent.

Then again, I have some friends and family that may be concerned if they hadn't heard from me in a few days. Mostly, it would be people who would eventually notice that I hadn't posted anything on the blog in a while and hadn't updated my status on The Facebook.

Let me also say, I'm very careful when eating. I try not to watch anything terribly funny while chewing my food. I'd hate to start laughing and then begin choking on whatever I was attempting to swallow. I know it's possible to self-perform the Heimlich maneuver, but I don't have any chairs that would be the right height for that sort of thing. I should probably start liquefying my food. But then I risk drowning on liquefied chicken nuggets. And now I risk vomiting after reading what I just wrote.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

At the end of my post about Half-Blood Prince I promised that I would give a true spoiler warning at the beginning of this post. The reason that I would warn of spoilers on this book and not the previous installments? Well, the others have all had movies made of them. If you didn't know that Dumbledore died at the end of book 6 or that Snape was really the Half-Blood Prince, shame on you for not reading the books or even hitting a Redbox now and then.

Deathly Hallows, however, has several key plot points that won't be revealed in film until next summer. So if you don't want the climax of the entire Harry Potter series to come crashing down around you before you've had a chance to read this final book or see the two-part movie, then you should probably go read something else.

Anyone still here? Good, then we can begin...

I knew what was going to happen. I had that vague recollection of all the events that would unfold over the course of these 759 pages. But as with books 5 and 6 before it, I devoured this book the first time I read it. I was so intent upon reaching the end and discovering how it would all turn out that I skipped over the details.

Honestly, I don't truly believe I missed that much. To say that makes it sound like my reading comprehension is nearly non-existent. But reading this book again, taking my time this time around, I've definitely prepared myself for the coming of the major motion pictures that are based on this novel.

It's the story of the end of Harry Potter's long journey of self-discovery and the culmination of seven years of adventures that have led him to finally come face-to-face with his mortal enemy for the last time. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are given a secret and difficult task, the dying wish of the great Albus Dumbledore. The trio is to seek out and destroy all of Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes, the objects which keep his soul anchored to this world, making him impossible to truly kill.

Along the way, they discover the legend of the Deathly Hallows, three objects that will, when united, give the owner a mastery of Death. Once again, we find that it is Harry's choices that shape him into the man that he has grown to be. At one point, Harry realizes that he has two quests that have been lain upon him: the Horcruxes and the Hallows. He must decide which of those quests is the more important. In the end, his decisions and self-sacrifice lead to his ultimate victory over his arch-nemesis.

I'm keeping a lot out in my description of what happened in the book. And I know I said there was a spoiler alert, but I really don't want to give anything away. Partly, because anyone who hasn't had a chance to read it or is waiting for the movies should go into it with no real knowledge of what will happen. Another part of my lack of detail is because there's just so much.

J.K. Rowling packs so much information into this one book that it's very easy to become confused. It's really no longer than any of the previous three novels in the series, but somehow she's able to put her characters through so much more in that same span of pages. Harry Potter is taken on this hero's journey in which he discovers things about himself, about his enemy, and about his mentor that he doesn't always like, but these are the things that help him to make those all-important decisions that cause him to achieve the victory that you know the hero just has to achieve.

Re-watching the movies after reading the books, it's so easy to see just how much information is left out due to the need to make a movie end at roughly two and a half hours. But I really hope that isn't the case for Deathly Hallows. They've split the movie into two parts. That tells me that they may just have five full hours to play with. My hope is that they really will not leave anything out, because so much of the detail in this final book is so important to the larger story.

It's a very good book and an excellent end to a very good series. Characters that you love and hate have some surprising twists in them before the end. It's good to see surprises like that in an author after reading her six other books. So do yourself a favor and read the book. I know I haven't seen the movies yet, but I can almost guarantee the book'll be better. But the trailer does look pretty freakin' sweet...

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Gotta Feelin'

The Charlatan is in town for the day and he showed me this video. Makes for a pretty cool wedding video. Thought it would make for a good blog post on the first of my many days off.

Happy Columbus Day!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Another Staycation

As of this moment, I am officially on vacation. I have the next week off from both of my jobs and I plan on enjoying every second of it.

What will I be doing with this vacation? Nothing terribly exciting. Which is fine. I'm hoping that means a chance to spend a week relaxing in the comfort of my own home.

In one since, I'm letting the vacation come to me. Tomorrow, the Charlatan will be driving in for a visit. He will be the third person to come and visit me since I moved into this apartment two years ago.

And I'm leaving the invitation open to anyone else who wants to visit this week. I don't plan on going anywhere. So come on down to Wake Forest. There's not much to do and I don't have cable, but I'm sure we can find something to do. I'm pretty good at Uno.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Single Guy and the Free Candy

The Single Guy isn't looking for love at the drive through window. He's been down that road. Well, not completely down that road. But he started down that road and found construction signs and road blocks. When it came to the Girl in the White SUV, there was too much work to be done and the Single Guy felt that he put forth all the effort that he needed to.

But that doesn't mean that attractive women have just stopped coming to the Single Guy's bank. They certainly haven't stopped driving up to the drive through. White SUV may have stopped, but she's not the only hot girl in the world, or even in the Raleigh area.

Recently, the Single Guy had an attractive customer come to the drive through window. She's a regular who drops by about once a week, usually on Fridays. She cashes her paycheck, then deposits part of that cash into her account. It's a routine.

The Single Guy doesn't know what kind of car she normally drives, but he has noticed one detail: an NC State decal on the back window. When she came through, he noticed the decal was gone. He noticed that it was a newer car. And so he asked, "Did you get a new car?"

This question led into a conversation about how she ran a red light, got in an accident, yadda yadda yadda, she's drving a rental. The Single Guy cashed her check as normal. When she passed back some of the cash and her deposit ticket, she included a small package of candy. "Those are some really good candies for you!"

The Single Guy was taken aback. It isn't that he had never received food items from customers before. It's just that usually the gifts he receives amount to Slim Jims and fun-sized candy bars from scary older women. But even those are few and far between. This was a welcome gift of Starburst Gummies.

The Single Guy doesn't expect anything more than this. As stated above, he's not looking for a relationship at the drive through anymore. But it did make him feel good to receive an unsolicited gift from an attractive young woman. It isn't something he's used to. It certainly feels better than being the guy that drops $40 on a floral arrangement, never hearing from the recipient again. The shoe, it would seem, is on the other side of the table!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Question of the Week: Preference

Which would you prefer: a wild, turbulent life filled with joy, sorrow, passion, and adventure--intoxicating successes and stunning setbacks; or a happy, secure, predictable life surrounded by friends and family without such wide swings of fortune and mood?

Give me the predictable life. It isn't that I don't like a little spontaneity every now and again. I just don't think I'd like a whole life of constantly experiencing either one extreme or the other. It's good to have the middle ground sometimes.

I think of it this way: Say I win the $100 million jackpot in the lottery one day. The unpredictable nature of the highs and lows of life suggest that it's entirely possible that I'll get swindled by a crooked investment guy, causing me to lose all that money within a couple weeks. And really, it could end up that I'd be in incredible debt because of the crooked investor. One day I get the career of my dreams. A week later, I'm diagnosed with a malignant tumor. A few months down the road, doctors discover a new treatment and I'm in complete remission. Then I lose a loved one to a tragic natural disaster.

All this back and forth, I don't like. As I said, give me the predictable middle ground.

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

Thursday, October 07, 2010


So I was given an award by Elizabeth over at I Seek With All My Heart...

And I thought, Versatile? Me? Okay, it might be a good fit. Turns out there's kind of a catch to accepting this particular award. The following rules must be followed:
  1. Thank and link back to the person nice enough to give you the award.
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award on to seven other bloggers who you think are fabulous.
  4. Contact the bloggers you chose and let them know about the award.
This works out great because I've been struggling all day with coming up with something to write about. So I definitely want to thank Elizabeth for helping me out with today's particular writer's block. I put the link to her blog up at the top, but if you missed it, here it is again. Go check it out. I particularly like her Flashback Fridays. I met Elizabeth and her husband through my small group at church, which I'm sorry to say I haven't been able to attend for quite some time. That whole second job thing has kept me working on the nights that they meet. But let the record show, I do miss them and everyone else in the group. And if this didn't sound like a sincere thanks then shame on me for not wording it correctly. This isn't a blog that generally receives a lot of attention, so I get psyched just when someone is thoughtful enough to leave a comment on one of my posts. To be thought of as one of Elizabeth's seven favorite bloggers kind of makes me feel like I'm doing something right. So really, thank you.

Now, seven things about myself. Be warned, a lot of this will probably be repetitive. After all, I have written 1,100 posts for this here blog. And I don't find myself to be that interesting of a person. So, it's highly likely, that just about everything about me has been written in one form or another at some point over the last five years. But let's do this...
  1. I am terrified of clowns. This is not a joke. It's a sad, but true story. Thankfully I'm an adult and have the capability of keeping myself away from situations in which a clown may appear. However, when and if it does happen and a clown enters the same room as me, bad things happen. I don't freak out or anything. I just kind of tense up. It's almost like a nervous type of paralysis if that makes any sense. So if anyone had any ideas about bringing a clown to my birthday party next year, you're not invited.
  2. Back to the Future is the greatest movie ever made. This is not an opinion. This is a well documented fact.
  3. I'm not sure that I'll ever get married. There are a lot of steps between here and there that I would certainly need to take. But if I ever do get married, I want to say my vows and exchange rings with the wife-to-be at my friends' house at Smith Mountain Lake. Here's a picture of the view from the back porch...
  4. I don't sleep in a bed. I have a bed, I just don't sleep in it. I sleep on the sofa in my living room. Honestly, my bed is very uncomfortable. The mattress is pretty old and is bad on my back. I can do a couple nights in a row on the bed, but any more than that and I pretty much can't move. Oddly enough, when I'm not fighting insomnia, I sleep quite comfortably on the couch.
  5. There's a new show this season called Chase. It's about a team of U.S. Marshals that do what Marshals do. They hunt down fugitives and bring them to justice. The show is based out of Houston, Texas. I've only watched three episodes, but it kind of makes me want to move to Texas.
  6. I will never move to Texas. I complain too much about the heat here in North Carolina. From what I understand, it's exponentially hotter in Texas. I miss living in the cool and much less humid mountains. I could probably handle a move to Colorado or Montana. But the truth is, I'll never take a leap like that. As charming as I am, I've convinced myself that I'd have too difficult a time trying to meet new people and make new friends.
  7. I do not like chocolate.
Finally, seven fellow bloggers to award with the versatile blog award.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Four Years Later

Four years ago today, my Dad, Grayson Lee Peck, passed away at age 53. Now, I've spent the last few days thinking about how I would spend my time today. In the past, I've let October 6 get to me. I've allowed a day on the calendar to make me more upset than the rest of the days in the year. But why should that be the case? I miss Dad every day, why should the anniversary of his death hold more weight?

I thought about shutting myself off from people today. It's my day off from work, so it would be an easy thing to do. I could close the laptop and ignore e-mails and Facebook messages. I could turn off the phone, or at least silence it, ignoring phone calls and texts. But what's the point of all that? Why should I wallow in sadness when I know that's the exact opposite that my father would have wanted for me?

If you knew Lee Peck, you knew what kind of man that he was. He was quiet and a little shy, sure, but that was until you really got to know him. You know that he had a big heart. You know that he was the kind of man who had a unique sense of humor and had no problem sharing a laugh with his friends and family. He wasn't the kind of guy to let things stay too serious for too long. If he could lighten the mood in the room, he was gonna do it.

Growing up, he had a way of making me smile at the drop of a hat. Whenever I was sad or angry about anything at all, he would just look at me with a sort of goofy expression on his face and say, "You better put a smile on that face! Turn that frown upside-down!" The words themselves are pretty cheesy. The way he said it was even cheesier. But it worked every time. Any time he said those two simple sentences to me, no matter how down I was at the time, I had to laugh. It worked when I was a kid. It worked when I was an adult. And even now, I can hear it in my head as clearly as if he were standing right behind me saying it, and it still brings a smile to my face.

So I've decided that, since that's the kind of man that Lee Peck was, I'm not going to sit here today and feel sorry for myself and dwell on how much I miss my Dad. Instead, I want to celebrate the person that he was. I want to laugh at the things he said and did, because that's what he would want me to do. That's what he would want all of us to do.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Social Network

Thursday I got a phone call from the Most Awesome Person I Know. At first I thought this was odd, because usually she just texts unless something is wrong. Turns out nothing was wrong. She was just inviting me along to a free movie on Saturday.

A little background: the Most Awesome Person I Know has recently taken on the role of "Mystery Shopper." She's one of those people who goes around to assigned stores, makes particular purchases, writes reports about her experiences, and then gets paid for doing it. Her assignment for Saturday was to go and see The Social Network while keeping an accurate count of how many people were in the theater with her. The deal was that she was only required to view the movie once, but she had to get a head count for four consecutive showings.

So I was invited to tag along on one of these viewings, and I'm glad that I was. I had seen a few trailers for the movie and was interested in seeing it. After all, I think anyone who has a Facebook account would be at least somewhat interested in seeing the origin story. Unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware that Facebook has completely revolutionized the way that people keep in touch and make friends on a day-to-day basis.

The story follows Mark Zuckerburg from his less-than-humble beginnings as a Harvard undergrad who had just been dumped by his Boston University girlfriend. In a slightly drunken rage, he begins to rant and ramble about her, and women in general, on his blog. During a night of hacking and programming, he creates a website dubbed Facemash, on which people could compare girls from the various Harvard dorm face books, determining who was more attractive. Of course it's something that gets him into trouble.

Enter the Winklevoss twins. They read the article in the school paper about Zuckerburg's exploits and decide that he's the kind of brilliant mind they need to program the website that they've come up with. Their idea is to build a social network, similar to MySpace, but exclusive to Harvard students. Zuckerburg tells them that he's in, but instead goes to his best friend Eduardo, to pitch an idea that stands on the shoulders of the Winklevoss' idea. This is the idea that would lead him to The Facebook.

The rest of the film explores what happens when an idea is turned into reality and becomes so enormous that it cannot be controlled. It's a story of a rise to power, a few acts of betrayal, and some pretty intense scheming. Zuckerburg is portrayed as a fairly unlikable kind of guy. And he pretty much screws over his best friend. But I have to wonder, is that how it all really went down in real life?

Obviously there were lawsuits for control of Facebook and for whose idea it really was. But was it all really as cut and dry as Zuckerburg stealing and improving upon one idea and then selling out his best friend who had originally financed the genesis of the website that would go on to change the world? And what does the real Mark Zuckerburg have to say about the movie? Or the book upon which the movie is based? How much of his life was fictionalized for the purposes of telling a story?

Whatever the case may be, I enjoyed the movie. It was very entertaining. And it was an interesting lesson in pseudo-history. I told the Most Awesome Person I Know that if she ever had to do any more of these movie assignments and needs someone to go along with, I'm more than willing to volunteer. I'll go see anything for free, even if the trailer looks like the movie will be a bomb. Also, if she is ever tasked with testing the latest roller coasters at Kings Dominion, I'll take one for the team.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


He sat alone in his apartment with the lights off and the late night news on. He sat on the sofa in the soft glow of the television as the anchorwoman began reading the story about him.

Calvin Locke wasn't the kind of guy who liked to get a lot of attention. But, he guessed, now that his story was out there, attention was going to be an unfortunate side effect. Once the news was over, people all over town would know what he could do. Soon the story would be posted on the internet, if it wasn't already. He would be getting calls from law enforcement agencies all over the country asking for his help.

It wasn't that he thought he was all that special, despite what he was able to do. In fact, he had never thought to use his ability to help in solving crimes. He had only used his little gift, or curse, or whatever you wanted to call it, to glimpse his own past and to have a little fun looking back at scenes from his own life.

As it turns out, he could do so much more with it. Growing up, he thought he was just having really vivid daydreams. He would go to a place, and he would seemingly recreate the events of the past inside his mind. And he really felt like he was there. He couldn't change anything or even reach out to make physical contact with anyone. But he could see events happening as clearly as if he were present at the time.

And then he happened to pull that little trick out while someone else was in the room with him. Calvin was 17 and didn't realize that he wasn't alone in the old church. He had wandered into the sanctuary and sat down in one of the ancient wooden pews. His thoughts carried him to a long ago Sunday morning. Suddenly the room was filled with sunlight and people dressed in suits and dresses. An old preacher was standing at the pulpit at the front of the room talking about the time that Jesus fed thousands of people with only two fish and five loaves of bread.

Calvin had never been much of a good church-goer, so he quickly got bored and shut off this projected memory. Behind him, he heard a man ask, "What in the world was that?" Calvin turned and saw the old pastor from the vision. The old man was staring toward the front of the church in shock, trying to make sense of what he had seen. "Did you see that?" the old man asked. Calvin pretended to be ignorant of what the preacher was talking about and immediately left the church.

The years went by and Calvin decided that he would no longer be able to just use his power to see things whenever he felt like it. Being able to draw other people into these illusions would only end up confusing people and raise too many questions. But he wasn't able to keep himself or his abilities hidden forever.

He heard on the news about a homicide case that was giving the local police a lot of trouble. They just couldn't figure out who would murder a sweet old lady in cold blood. Calvin knew he had the ability to go to the scene of the crime and look into the past. He knew he had the ability to show the past to anyone that was there with him as well. So he volunteered his services.

And now he was headline news. The anchorwoman shared Calvin's amazing story and had even given him a nickname: Flashback. Calvin "Flashback" Locke was suddenly aware that his life was about to become a lot more complicated.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXXXVII

We got a call from a woman yesterday who was calling to let us know that our ATM made a mistake and gave her money that wasn't hers. Apparently, she pulled up to the ATM, and before she even inserted her card or punched in her PIN, the machine gave her $400. She wanted to know what she should do.

Okay, I know the right thing to do is to return the money. But if there was a magical ATM out there that was just giving away $400, I'm pretty sure I'd want to visit that machine. When the teller that answered the phone asked the assistant manager what she should tell the woman, he said, "Do you want my answer or do you want the banker's answer?"

A lot of people wouldn't have bothered calling. That's $400 that you just got for free. Congratulations!

But this woman, who made it clear that she just recently opened an account with us, called to complain. "I just opened this account with you guys and already it's a hassle!" I'm sorry, but having $400 shoved in my face by accident is not what I'd call a "hassle." That's what I call serendipity.

Did Columbus call Spain to complain when he hit the Caribbean instead of arriving in Indonesia? "Crap guys! We're in the wrong place! Turn it around!" No, he didn't. Instead he landed, enslaved the natives, called them Indians, and pretended like he didn't make a mistake at all. He kept the $400 dollars.

This woman just kept complaining about how much of a hassle it was for her to have to bring the money back to the branch. But it was made clear that she didn't have to bring it to our branch. Any branch would do.

By the time the manager got off the phone with her, he was a little fed up with the phone call. When he hung up, he told us what he really wanted to say. "Do you want me to call Superman and have him fly backwards around the world to turn back time so this never would have happened to you?" If she had never called us, we'd have never known about the mistake. $400 gone and no one would have been the wiser.

I'd like to hear some of her other complaints about life...

"This diamond that my fiancee got me is way too big and heavy! I can hardly lift my hand!"

"It isn't fair that my kids are so well behaved. Why don't they ever get in trouble or sent to detention like some of their delinquent friends?"

"Well, shoot! I won the lottery. Now I've gotta drive all the way downtown to pick up my humorously over-sized check for millions of dollars. And I was gonna spend the day watching that Real Housewives of New Jersey marathon. There goes my weekend!"

Friday, October 01, 2010

Question of the Week: Rot

Would it disturb you much if, upon your death, your body were simply thrown into the woods and left to rot? Why?

I don't think I'd mind much. Probably because I'll be dead. Not like I'll be using my body anymore. It's kind of the same way I feel about organ donation. If my lungs are good enough for someone else to use after I die, they might as well get them. Not like I'll be doing a lot of breathing when I've got six feet of dirt piled on top of me. I actually think, if I had the choice, I'd rather be cremated. Why should my rotting corpse take up space?

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