Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Perils of Pizza Delivery, Part 10

Thanks to the fact that I accepted a new banking position in another state, I no longer need the second job delivering pizza. And the fact that the new position is in another state means that I'm no longer capable of delivering pizza in the Wake Forest area.

Thursday night after I learned of my new job, I went in to the delivery job and broke the news. My manager congratulated me on the new position and asked when I'd be making the move. I informed him that I'd be able to work through the following week, but after that I'd need the time to pack and move.

The weekend slowly crawled by. I worked Friday night without incident. I was off Saturday, but went in on Sunday evening. This is when things got a little crazy.

I was sent out on a triple delivery. This means that I had three deliveries in one trip. After making the final delivery I got back in my car and turned the key. The engine turned over and then started making some strange noises. And then it cut off.

I tried again. I got the same result. I tried again and again. And it could turn out to be the night my car died.

I called the store and let the manager know that my car wasn't starting. I told him I'd be back when I could get there.

In the meantime, I called the Most Awesome Person I Know. I called my Mom. I called my step-father. And then I called a tow truck. $85 later, my car was sitting in the lot of the garage that I've been taking the Escort to get the oil changed.

Thanks to the Most Awesome Person I Know I was able to get back to the pizza place and drop off my things. And I was forced to tell them that it would have to be my last night. No more pizza delivery for Aaron.

And now I'm left wondering if my car will live to see another day.

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode CI

Things are changing. Lots of things are changing.

About two months ago, Brandon started talking to me about applying for a position at his branch. See, Brandon is a branch manager with the same bank that I work for. Have I ever mentioned that before? Well, I have now. His idea was to get me back up to the Roanoke area and into a position where I was making a little more money.

But I was hesitant. I wasn't sure what it would be like to go to work for one of my best friends. What if I got the job and got up there only to turn out to be a disappointment? I didn't want work to affect a friendship that's been around for ten years. But I gave in. It was the promise of a possible pay raise that won me over. I mean, yeah, it would be cool working with Brandon, but really, it was the money that got me to push through the application.

So I applied. I interviewed. And I didn't get the job. My former roommate didn't hire me. What was I supposed to think? If I can't get a friend to hire me, how could I get another job anywhere? Well, we talked it out and he said that I did great in the interview with him. His reasons for going in another direction made total sense to me, so it really didn't bother me all that much.

But that wasn't the end of it. He told me about another opening at a different branch in the area. It was actually a branch that he had been an assistant manager in a couple years back. He told me that the manager there was interested in interviewing me.

So I applied. I interviewed. And I got the job. So at some point in the next few weeks I'll be making the move back to Virginia. I'll be working for the same bank, but in a different capacity. I'll still be doing a lot of teller work, but I'll be doing a lot more with it.

So yeah, things are changing. My job title is officially changing. But the Legends of the Bank Teller will keep going on.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Hi, my name is Aaron, and I'm a dropper.

It's only been a few hours since I last dropped something. This morning as I reached into the drawer for a pair of socks, as soon as I picked them up I dropped them on the floor. I swore under my breath as I bent down to pick them up again. My second attempt was much more successful as I maintained a kung-fu death grip upon them.

There was a time when it seemed that there was no name for my condition. And then one evening, while watching Friends with a group of friends, we realized that I suffered from the same ailment as Chandler Bing. In "The One With the Ball," Ross and Joey start throwing a ball back and forth and realize that they've been doing it for hours without dropping it even once. Then Monica joins in. And when Chandler wants to play too, she almost refuses to let him in because he's a "dropper." He successfully plays with everyone and never once drops the ball.

But at the end of the episode he asks why they all think he's a dropper. This is followed by a lot of short scenes of Chandler dropping different things. Hilarious on television. Problematic in real life.

I wasn't allowed to play intramural flag football with the other kids in college. I used to say it was because I was too out of shape for all the running involved. But really, it was intramural flag football. Was there really that much running involved. No, I knew I would drop the ball if someone foolishly threw it to me. So I watched my friends play from the sidelines week after week.

I drop my keys at least twice a day. It happens when I'm doing something so difficult as pulling them out of my left pocket and transferring them to my dominant right hand.

I drop money, particularly rolls of coin. This can be big trouble as they tend to burst, sending loose coins all over the place.

I drop clothes. Not only the pair of socks I mentioned earlier, but t-shirts, jeans, shoes, belts, etc.

Anything that finds its way into my less than capable hands has the potential of being dropped on the ground. It's a sad and lonely existence. What happens if I have a son someday who wants to play catch in the back yard? No one wants to play catch with a dad that, more often than not, can't catch the baseball.

Maybe there's hope for the droppers of the world. Maybe I could get some special velcro gloves, but then I would need to make sure every possible item I hold is wrapped in equally appropriate fabric. Perhaps I could wrap duct tape around my hands, sticky side out.

If you see me in public, beware. I am that guy who will pick up one apple off the pile in the produce section, causing all the other apples to tumble onto the floor. I am the guy that will carry too much in his arms and then drop it all in order to catch the one thing you're trying to throw me. I am the dropper.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Timothy waited in breathless anticipation. His hopes were high and he knew with absolute certainty that the Rapture was about to happen on the other side of the world. He had read the literature, he had listened to Harold Camping's messages on the radio. There was no way that this was not going to happen.

In preparation for the end, he had been telling everyone he knew to get ready. After all, he had friends in his life that he knew he wanted to see in Heaven. When you enjoy spending time with people, wouldn't that translate into eternity?

Tim had given serious consideration to selling everything he owned. He thought about putting his house on the market, but knew that, in this economy, there's no way it would sell before Judgment Day. He was going to sell his car and then donate the money to be used to print more tracts to spread the news, but his family intervened.

They didn't believe. They couldn't understand how Tim could be so sure that the Rapture would happen on May 21, 2011. They had been nice enough to not call Camping a whack job, like most of the public had taken to doing. Timothy knew that was probably his family's opinion of Camping, but he appreciated them not voicing it.

But Tim humored them. He chose to keep his car. He still used a good chunk of his savings to print more literature about the impending Rapture. Some of his friends and family tried to go further with their arguments. For some it wasn't enough that Tim wasn't getting rid of all his things. For some, they just wanted to be right and wanted him to be wrong. But all they could come at him with was the verse in Matthew when Jesus says, "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

If that was all they had, Tim figured they didn't have much. These friends weren't biblical scholars like Mr. Camping was. Camping had facts to back up his numbers. There was more to biblical prophecy than Matthew 24:36. Tim tried to point this out, wanting desperately for his friends to be saved. But they wouldn't listen. They just went on with their lives. He could tell that they were disappointed in Tim's choice to believe, but it was his belief. He could only attempt explain it to them, he couldn't force it on them.

And now, May 21 was upon him. Tim sat in front of his TV with it tuned to CNN as the hours ticked away. It was nearly midnight. That meant it would soon be 6pm on the other side of the world, on Christmas Island, where the Rapture would really begin. He waited for the urgent news coverage telling the world that the earthquakes had begun. He was literally on the edge of his seat.

And there was no breaking news. Anderson Cooper signed off. Piers Morgan was a repeat from earlier in the night. No word of an earthquake on Christmas Island.

Tim was a little disappointed, but was undeterred. It was only midnight where he was in Maryland. He could wait up a few more hours. Maybe there just wasn't a news outlet available right away on Christmas Island to report that the Rapture had begun. Maybe he would have to wait to hear about a more populated place like New Zealand or Australia.

And still, there was no breaking news.

He went to bed early that Saturday morning feeling lost and confused. Timothy still wanted so badly to believe that he would be raptured with the true believers when 6pm rolled around to his own time zone. But it was harder to believe unconditionally when it seemed that it wasn't happening like it was supposed to.

Where was the earthquake? Why weren't people vanishing from the face of the earth? Why weren't they being called into Heaven?

Tim's sleep was restless that night. He woke early on Saturday and immediately checked newsfeeds on the internet, hoping to find out that someone had made a mistake and just simply not reported the news that earthquakes had, indeed, been striking the other side of the planet. But there were no reports of the global earthquake.

By this point, most of the world had passed through the evening. Some of the planet was well into May 22. He had been duped. A lot of people had been duped.

How could he have been so wrong? How could Harold Camping have been so wrong? Were his numbers simply off? Tim never considered himself to be a particularly stupid or gullible person, yet he had somehow been taken in by Camping's sheer certainty. He had even gone through Camping's reasoning and checked his math. Tim was so sure that Camping was right about all of it.

But he wasn't. He picked up his phone and called his brother.

"Tim," was all his brother could say when he answered. He let out a heavy sigh.

"Thank you, Jay," said Timothy.

Jay was a little confused. "For what?"

"For not answering with an 'I told you so.' For convincing me not to sell my car and all my things. For not being a jerk about all this when you very easily could have." Timothy was more than a little heartbroken. Jay could hear it in his voice.

"Hey, man, you're my brother," Jay started. He could hear that Timothy had started to cry. "Look, I may not hold to the same beliefs that you do, but that doesn't stop me from loving you just the same. I really do wish he had been right, because I hate to think about what you're going through right now."

Timothy sniffed and wiped tears away from his cheeks. He thanked his brother again and even apologized for trying to push his beliefs onto him and the rest of the family.

Jay cut him off. "You never have to apologize. I'm just sorry that you're hurting so badly right now. I'm sorry for all of Camping's flock. There are a lot of you out there who are probably in need of a shoulder to cry on."


"Tell you what, why don't you come on over here and we'll have a cook-out. Stacy can go to the store when she gets the kids from soccer practice. We'll grill up some steaks and have a not-quite-the-end-of-the-world party. How 'bout it?"

Tim could appreciate what his brother was trying to do for him. He didn't much feel like celebrating, but he couldn't turn him down either. Maybe a night with his family would be exactly what he needed. Life would go on. He figured he may as well start living it a little more from here on out.

Today's prompt comes from Sunday Scribblings.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jurassic Park

Title: Jurassic Park
Author: Michael Crichton
Published: 1990

I read this when I was a kid. And as much as I've always loved the film, I thought the book was better. Even at the tender age of 11 or 12, whenever it was that I read it. I picked it up again, thinking that, as an adult, I'd be able to better understand some of the technical jargon that Crichton laces throughout the novel.

Pretty sure I was right about that.

Don't get me wrong. I was a pretty bright kid. Back then I had a basic understanding of what DNA was and what it meant to clone something. After all, clones are a sci-fi staple, and being the son of Lee Peck, I was raised on science fiction.

Michael Crichton does go into a lot of technical detail about the biological technology involved in genetics, as well as the complicated computer systems that are used in the cloning process and used in operating the prehistoric zoo. Not having a Ph.D. in any of these related fields, some of it was still a little over my head. But, like 11- or 12-year-old me, I got the basic gist of it.

There are a lot of little differences between the book and the movie. These are differences that are easy to forget about when you only read the book once 20 years ago and have seen the movie a few dozen times. For example, in the movie, Dr. Alan Grant is portrayed as a guy that really doesn't like kids very much. In the book, Grant loves kids because they tend to have an insatiable fascination with dinosaurs. Another difference, he and Dr. Ellie Sattler do not have a romantic relationship. She's his student, nothing more. In fact, he mentions to the kids while they're trapped in the park that Ellie is engaged to a nice doctor in the Chicago area.

Another change is in the character of John Hammond, the financier of Jurassic Park. In the movie he's portrayed as an eccentric little man who simply wants to entertain the world with his biological creations. Sure, the novel version of the old man wants to entertain the world, but his driving force seems to be dollar signs. And he really doesn't care much about the consequences of his actions. In the film he survives to regret the creation of Jurassic Park. In the book, he dies still imagining that next time they'll be able to get it right.

There are other changes that I won't go into here. After all, it's a really good book and if you haven't read it, it's worth picking up, even 20 years later. Sure, some of the references are a little outdated since the majority of the story takes place in 1989. But still, we're dealing with extinct animals. So it's kind of a timeless tale. And I always find it interesting to read Ian Malcolm's take on things. He has a few nice little explanations about the dangers inherent in attempting manipulate the natural order of things.

I think it's amazing that Malcolm clearly died in the novel (they mention the Costa Rican government not allowing the survivors to bury him yet), but he makes a comeback in the sequel novel (and movie) The Lost World. I never read that book, but I always thought the movie was something of a disappointment. The book is on my list though. I'll get to it soon.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Question of the Week: Forty Points

If you could increase your IQ by forty points by having an ugly scar stretching from your mouth to your eye, would you do so?

Shoot yeah. I mean, I like to think I'm fairly intelligent as I am now, but just because I think it doesn't necessarily meant it's entirely accurate. I'm no dummy, but I'm sure I could always stand to be a little smarter. And you know, this face isn't winning any beauty contests as it is. What's a scar gonna do to me? You know what it'll do? It'll add character. People who would otherwise forget me after a first meeting will suddenly be like, "Who's that? Oh, the guy with the scar on his face. Would not want to run into him in a dark alley."

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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Legends of the Bank Teller: Episode C

100 Legends of the Bank Teller. Who'd have ever thought that I'd be here that long? I know when I started doing these posts, I really didn't think I'd have that many stories to tell from behind the teller line. Honestly, I wasn't sure I'd be able to do 50. But here we are. Actually this is 101. I accidentally labeled two of them as number 64. Oops. So let's not dwell on unimpressive milestones. Let's get to today's legend.

Each month we get together early in the morning to discuss updates to bank operations. These meetings are led by an operations manager who comes to let us know what we're doing well, what we're doing wrong, and shares with us the important topic of the month. I say important, but to me it just seems to rehash some common sense issues that some people still have a problem grasping. Mostly because they lack common sense. It happens.

This month's topic revolved around safe deposit boxes. Why these things still exist is beyond me. People can buy some pretty affordable home safes from Wal-Mart. Keep your valuables nearby. It's what I'd do if I had something valuable. Anyway, we recently had an issue of a customer who had gone extremely delinquent on his safe box payments. So we had to drill his box and get rid of his belongings.

No one really knows what's happened to this customer. He isn't dead, because he's made loan payments as recently as a couple months ago. Those who have tried to contact him get a working voicemail recording, so he's been paying his phone bill. One of our co-workers mentioned that the problem could have been amnesia.

The operations guy didn't quite hear her, so he got her to repeat what she said. Again, she asked about amnesia. But he still didn't understand her. She said it a third time and finally it clicked. It didn't resolve anything about the delinquent customer but it helped to bring the conversation to a close.

In the operations manager's defense, she was pronouncing amnesia as "umnesia." I knew what she was saying right away. I mean, really, it wasn't that far off from the proper pronunciation and you could really pick up the context clues. And if you ask me "umnesia" works.

I mean, go up to a victim of memory loss and ask, "What's your name?"


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

AFI 81 - Spartacus

Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Netflix sleeve: Stanley Kubrick directed this epic saga based on ancient events, chronicling the birth of a vagabond slave-army led by an ex-gladiator named Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) that threatens the sovereignty of all-mighty Rome. This film has everything, including a wonderfully funny (and Oscar-winning) performance from Peter Ustinov as the cowardly owner of a gladiator school. Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Jean Simmons and Tony Curtis co-star.

Here's one I thought I would really enjoy. Turns out, it didn't do much for me. See, I loved Gladiator. It was awesome and epic and I just naturally assumed that I would like Spartacus in the same way. After all, I kind of viewed this as Gladiator's intellectual father. Or maybe grandfather. Don't get me wrong, it was a pretty decent movie. Just not as great as I had been expecting. Maybe I simply over sold it to myself and was disappointed with the actual product. Maybe I was just waiting around for Jean Simmons to paint her face and sing about how she wanted to rock and roll all night and party every day and that just never happened. See what I did there? I made a Kiss joke. 'Cause the names Jean and Gene sound the same. Get it? Shut up, you know it was funny.

The Single Guy Talks About the Weather

He knew it was a mistake as soon as he opened his mouth to speak. But by then it was already too late. The path from his brain to his lips was far to short a distance and before he could take it back, the Single Guy had already made a comment about the weather.

Rule number one when having a conversation is to never talk about the weather. That's what uninteresting people and the elderly talk about when they're desperate to talk to someone. That's not an acceptable topic of conversation when trying to get into the good graces of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Girl.

But it had been a hot day. In fact, it was all any of the other customers seemed to be able to talk about. The Single Guy was getting really sick of hearing, "It sure is hot out there!" or "Man, it's a scorcher today!" He knows how to deal with these conversations. He smiles and nods while politely ignoring the topic. He runs the customers' transactions and sends them along on their merry way. And yet, he fell victim to the seed that had apparently been planted in mind.

It was the first thing that came to mind when he saw the Spider-Girl drive up to his window. He greeted her and then asked, "Is it as hot as everyone keeps saying it is?" She didn't laugh. Instead, in a symbolic act of dismissal, she waved her hand and just said no.

The Single Guy felt as if he had just witnessed all of the invisible lines of communication between him and Spider-Girl become severed. He made her deposit and wished her a pleasant afternoon before she drove away. Afterward, he mentally kicked himself again and again.

"No one wants to talk about the weather!" he yelled, berating himself.

This comes only a day after he felt as if he had made some actual progress with her. In asking about her weekend, the conversation turned to finding out that she waits tables at a local pizza place part-time. When he found this out he couldn't help but smile. He thought about how much they now had in common: they both worked second jobs in the pizza industry, they both complained about having to work on the weekends, they both freaked out a little whenever a spider was crawling on them.

And then he had to ruin it by mentioning the weather. He may has well have leaned into the microphone and said, "Hot enough for ya?" Now he's left wondering if he'll have a chance to recuperate from this misstep. Will he be able to rebuild himself in her eyes, or will Spider-Girl forever view the Single Guy as an uninteresting guy who falls back on the weather when there's seemingly nothing else to talk about?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Life Story - Chapter Fifty Seven

One of those kind of awesome things about the senior year of high school was the opportunity to take psychology and sociology as electives. These classes did not inspire me to pick up that second major of Behavioral Science in college. That inspiration wouldn't come until much later, after I already had a first major in college. No, these classes were just a fun kind of thing and turned out to be easy A's.

Each semester was taught by Mrs. Russell, who also taught some of the senior government classes. I didn't have her for government, but I heard she was harder in that class than she was with her psych students. In fact, I think she may have been too easy on the psych students.

'Cause mostly we watched movies. Well, we took notes too. But they weren't the kind of notes that you had to think about when you wrote them down. She threw a transparency film on the overhead projector and we just copied it verbatim. I have no memory of the tests in that class, but I'm pretty sure they came straight from the notes. We had no textbook.

So yeah, mostly we watched movies. More so in the second semester when we entered into sociology. She showed us a lot of the 80s Brat Pack movies. I guess they're great examples of how people interact with one another. We may have actually watched The Breakfast Club twice.

We had an activity during psychology that I remember clearly. Mostly, I remember it because I was seated next to Tara, whom you may remember from my ten year reunion. The activity involved everyone sitting in a circle with eyes closed. Mrs. Russell passed out a lemon to each person. With our eyes closed, we were supposed to feel the lemon in our hands and were even encouraged to smell it. Then we had to "take the lemon and pass it to the right." That quote sounds funnier in my head because I'm still hearing Mrs. Russell's thick Tennessee accent. I think the object of her little experiment was to see if we could tell subtle differences in different lemons without the use of our vision.

As you can tell, I learned a lot in that class. They're lessons I obviously carry with me to this day.

Monday, May 23, 2011

AFI 82 - Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Directed by F. W. Murnau
Netflix sleeve: Director F.W. Murnau's emotional odyssey stars George O'Brien and Janet Gaynor as a country couple whose marriage is threatened when O'Brien falls prey to cosmopolitan temptress Margaret Livingston's feminine wiles. Imbued with an intoxicating ambiance in style and substance, the lyrical silent film--which is, by turns, quixotic, blissful, sensual and terrifying--chalked up Academy Awards for Best Actress (Gaynor) and Best Cinematography.

I'm not sure what there is to say about this movie. Maybe it was the lack of speaking, but I kind of found this one a little hard to follow. I guess I can't really say I'm a fan of the silent picture. Absolutely not in my personal top 100. And there's a pretty good chance I'll never put myself through watching this movie again. Ever. And I don't mean to offend anyone who does enjoy this movie. It's just not for me.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Better Late Than Never

"You're fired," said Heather calmly. She stood behind her desk leaning on her hands and staring at the scattered papers that lined the surface. Slowly, she looked up at Tommy, the young messenger who was clearly not understanding that he had just lost his job.

"Wait... what?" Tommy asked, more confused than was usual for him. Heather sighed in frustration. Of course he wouldn't understand why she had just fired him. He spent most of his time being confused by the things going on around him, why would being fired make things any simpler?

"I said that you're fired." She was still trying to maintain her calm, even though her reasons for dismissing the kid were enough to make her incredibly angry. "I'm sorry to do it, Tommy. You're just not cut out for this work."

"Why do you say that?" he asked, still confused but trying to understand.

Heather just looked at him. She wondered if he would ever truly get it, even if she explained in exhaustive detail. She shook her head and said, "I hired you to work for this company as a messenger. That's the only job you have with us. But you're constantly showing up to work late. And when we send you out on a delivery you can never really seem to make your deadlines."

"I didn't realize you were putting me on a time limit!" Tommy said, showing the first signs of anger.

"Tommy, when I interviewed you for this position, I asked you if you understood that some of the things that you would be delivering would be time sensitive. And in that interview, you assured me that you could handle that. You told me that you had no problem being prompt when making deliveries."

Tommy scratched his head and then rubbed his neck. He was at a loss. It wasn't as if he could come up with a good excuse for all of his tardiness. And he certainly couldn't tell his boss the truth about all of the late deliveries. If he told her that, most of the time, he was just on the phone with his friends and goofing off, it wouldn't help his situation in the slightest. "I'm sorry, Mrs. H. I just assumed we had a 'better late than never' policy."

As soon as the words were out of his mouth he knew they were a mistake. Mentally, he kicked himself and tried to prepare for the whirlwind that was to come.

"Better late than never?" Heather's patience had now reached its limit. "Tell me you're kidding!"

"Mrs. Hutchins, please, I'm really sorry. I need this job." Tommy got very quiet. Heather could barely hear him over the sound of her heart beating in her ears.

"What if you were delivering someone's supply of blood pressure medication that they desperately need? What if you were delivering someone's paycheck?" she asked, trying to convey the gravity of what was happening. "Don't you think the people waiting for the things you deliver are important enough to deserve your undivided attention when you're doing your job? The fact that you just said what you did tells me that this isn't important to you. How would you feel if some kid showed up with something that was important to you two or three hours after you were told he would be there?"

"I guess I'd be pretty mad," Tommy said, his voice getting softer as he spoke.

"You guess?" It was all Heather could do to contain her anger. "Get out of here. Your last paycheck will be in the mail. It'll get to you eventually. But hey, better late than never, right?"

With those words, Heather sat down at her desk and went about her own work. She made a conscious effort not to look at Tommy's hang-dog expression as he turned and walked out her office. She didn't want to feel sorry for him. He had made his own bed as far as she was concerned. It was over now. She reminded herself not to think about it, because it only served to anger her all over again. How could he be so flippant about the job that he was being paid to do? She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Eventually she would be calm again. Eventually she would be able to hire a new messenger, one who wasn't completely incompetent.

Today's prompt comes from Sunday Scribblings.

The Many Apocalypses of Buffy Summers

Well, the world's still here, 'cause... well... check it out. So to celebrate the averted apocalypse, I thought it fitting to have a marathon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But not an every episode kind of marathon. Just the episodes where Buffy had to save the world from total annihilation. Right then, let's get on with it. There's a lot to cover before the next apocalypse is upon us.

Season 1, Episode 12
Prophecy Girl
"I may be dead, but I'm still pretty." -Buffy Summers
All during that first season, the Master had been desperately trying to get out of his mystical, underground prison. He made several attempts to rise and fulfill his own plan of opening the Hellmouth and destroying the world, but each of those attempts failed. In the end, it took the blood of the Slayer to give him the strength he needed to escape. An ancient prophecy predicted that the Slayer would fight the Master and be killed by him. And that's exactly what happened. The prophecy left out the part where Buffy's friends would show up, perform mouth-to-mouth and save her from drowning. In slasher movies, the good guys tend to make the mistake of not making sure the killer is really dead. Here, the Master makes that same mistake. He leaves Buffy for dead and gets a nasty surprise when he sees her again and she turns him to dust. Apocalypse number one averted.

Season 2, Episode 22
Becoming: Part 2
"Do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea how lonely it is? How dangerous? I would love to be upstairs watching TV or gossiping about boys or... God... even studying! But I have to save the world. Again. - Buffy Summers
So Angel used to be one of the good guys. And then he became one of the bad guys. He comes across this horrible demon that has the ability to suck the world into hell, except it was turned to stone a long time ago. Angel figures out how to reawaken this demon, so Buffy has to stop her ex-boyfriend before the vortex opens. To do this, all she has to do is run a sword through Angelus and into the stone demon. But there's a wrinkle in the end. Willow performs a spell that restores Angel's soul, so he's suddenly one of the good guys again. But it's too late, the demon is waking up and the portal is opening. Buffy is forced to send Angel to hell in order to save the world. Apocalypse number two averted, but with heartbreaking consequences. Try not crying when that Sarah McLachlan song plays while Buffy rides that Greyhound out of town.
Season 3, Episode 13
The Zeppo
"Stay calm... little fender bender. It's not... the end of the world..." - Xander Harris
But Xander, it is the end of the world. Oddly enough, that's not the main story of this episode. Things were kind of backwards for the Scooby Gang this time. The A story here revolved around Xander trying to find his identity and some kind of confidence. In the background we have Buffy and her posse fighting against a group of demons called the Sisterhood of Jhe, an apocalypse cult that exists to bring about the destruction of earth. They very nearly succeed, coming about as close to opening the Hellmouth as the Master did almost two years before. While Xander saves the school from being blown up by a group of undead high school students, Buffy reseals the Hellmouth and averts apocalypse number three.
Season 4, Episode 11
Giles - "It's the end of the world."
Buffy, Willow and Xander - "Again?"
Like the previous potential apocalypse in the series, this one sort of takes a back seat to the main story. That being the relationship between Buffy and Riley. Riley's this guy that Buffy has started dating, who happens to be part of a covert government outfit called The Initiative. These guys go around capturing demons so a few government scientists can experiment on them. Riley discovers that Buffy's the Slayer and they sort of have a hard time reconciling all those issues while trying to stop another group of demons from opening the Hellmouth. The good guys get back to the burned down high school, stop the ritual just in the nick of time, and it brings Buffy and Riley a little closer together. Apocalypse number four averted.
Season 5, Episode 22
The Gift
"Dawn, the hardest thing in this world... is to live in it." - Buffy Summers
The fifth season started out a little confusing. Suddenly Buffy had a little sister that none of us had ever seen before. Dawn was really a mystical key that would unlock the barrier separating dimensions and it became Buffy's job to protect her from the Big Bad of the year, Glory. Unfortunately, even though Glory is defeated by the Slayer, one of her servants manages to begin the ritual, meaning that Dawn gets cut and her blood opens the doorway. Unspeakable hell dimensions begin bleeding into reality which wouldn't stop until Dawn's blood stopped, AKA she dies. But Buffy realizes that Dawn was made human using some of herself, and that her own blood would do the trick in closing the portal as well. Buffy sacrifices herself to save the world. Apocalypse number five averted, at the cost of Buffy's life. Again.
Season 6, Episode 22
"Six years of side man... Now I get to be the Slayer." - Willow Rosenberg
Wait, Willow's the Big Bad? Yes, she is. And let's not spend too much time dissecting how that happened. Let's just say that the sixth year started with Buffy's resurrection and then spiraled into a really big mess. There was a musical, there were nerds... It just wasn't the best year for our heroes. But, as is usual, it culminated in someone deciding that the world would be better off destroyed. So Willow, having a taste of the big evil, makes her way to Kingman's Bluff where she channels some wicked witchy energy into some demonic statue. And then comes Xander to save the day. He doesn't hit her. He doesn't drive a wooden stake into her heart. He just tells her he loves her. He reaches out to his best friend and brings her back to humanity. In saving Willow's soul, he saves the world. And Buffy really had nothing to do with it this time. Apocalypse number six averted.
Season 7, Episode 22
"I wanna see how this ends." - Spike
As series finales go, this one was pretty good. The First Evil spent the final televised season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer preparing to start a war against humanity. It was ready to tip the scales, tired of the balance between good and evil. This all culminated with the opening of the Hellmouth. Again. This time, the opening would involve an army of super vampires that would spill out wiping out everything in their path. Buffy makes a preemptive strike. She and her army of potential Slayers march into the Hellmouth to take the fight to the First. Meanwhile, Willow performs a spell using a magical, ancient Slayer weapon. This spell makes every potential Slayer into a full-fledged Slayer. And suddenly there isn't just a chosen one (or two, since we still count Faith), there are a chosen many. The tide turns in the battle against the First Evil, but really it isn't Buffy that saves the world this time. Spike's mystical amulet combined with the power of his recently regained soul destroys the Hellmouth, and Sunnydale with it. In the end, Buffy and the surviving Scooby Gang stand at the edge of an enormous crater to survey the damage. Buffy smiles as she thinks about the possibilities of what comes next.

Now, other Buffy fanatics may look at my list and claim it's incomplete. What about the Mayor's ascension on Graduation Day? What about Adam, the demon/human/cyborg hybrid that the government created deep inside The Initiative? Don't they rank an apocalyptic battle? Yeah, I don't count those as truly end of the world scenarios. The mayor turned into a giant snake. I'm sure he would have completely decimated Sunnydale in is rise to demonic power. But I just don't think he had global destruction on his mind. And Adam? Pretty sure if Buffy hadn't stopped him, the government would have found a way to step in and end things. Again, probably would have eventually ended with Sunnydale being wiped off the map, but not a worldwide catastrophe.

But I'm not perfect. My memory, while it may be pretty decent when it comes to all things pop culture, is not what it once was. So if you think I've missed anything, let me know. But just bear in mind that, in the fictional universe that Joss Whedon created, Buffy the Vampire Slayer saved the world. A lot.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

One Hitter

Sequel to the video/commercial I posted a few weeks ago over here. I don't think this is as funny as that first one, but still, it's nice to keep a rivalry going...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Question of the Week: Organization

Do you consider yourself well organized? How often do you have to look for your keys?

I consider myself to be very well organized. I can't remember the last time I misplaced my keys. It just doesn't happen. I'm not sure that has anything to do with my organizational skills though. I just always put my keys in the same place whenever I get home. Right there on the coffee table, along with the wallet and the cellular phone. Nothing like getting a general yes or no question...

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

Thursday, May 19, 2011

AFI 83 - Titanic

This movie sat at the top of my Netflix queue for a month before I realized they were never going to send it to me. "Very Long Wait" was all they would tell me. What, do they only have one copy? Is it still that popular 14 years later? Luckily, my mother happens to own this DVD, so I got her to mail it to me just so I could watch it. So, thanks Mom! And if anyone out there has a copy of Ben-Hur that they'd like to let me borrow, it would get me up to date on this whole AFI list. Thus far, anyway.

Directed by James Cameron
Netflix sleeve: Winner of 11 Oscars, James Cameron's effects-driven blockbuster puts a human face on a tragedy of epic proportions by wedding the historical tale of the doomed ocean liner with a fictional romance between two of the ship's ill-fated passengers. Society girl Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and penniless artist Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) struggle to survive both the sinking ship--and the wrath of Rose's wealthy fiance (Billy Zane).

And good Lord I forgot how very long this movie was. I mean... holy crap... It's exhausting just watching it. And what the heck was that old version of Rose thinking? Why would you throw that diamond into the ocean? Why didn't you hock that thing during the Depression? Stupid. You know, this movie's never really done much for me. I remember so many people making such a huge deal about it back when it was first released. I couldn't understand it then and I don't understand it now. It's not that I think it's a bad movie. I think it's all right. I just don't think it's great or life-altering. And I've never understood the point of Kate Winslet's nude scene. Not that I'm trying to be a prude or anything, I just don't get what it has to do with the story. I mean, is it just an incredible show of trust on Rose's part? Anyway, I thought that watching the whole thing again after a decade has passed, I may have gained a better appreciation for Titanic. Didn't happen. Maybe I'll like it better in another ten years. Doubtful.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XCIX

A couple months ago, we began to notice some strange things appearing in a small space behind our branch. There's an enclosed area that houses our air conditioning unit. Really, that's not the strange part. In fact, that's fairly normal. The strange things that appeared there were some empty boxes and some cases of beer.

From this we assumed that we had a homeless person or persons living in that space. This person never spent any daylight hours back there. For a long time, we never saw anyone. We only saw what he or she would leave behind.

That changed a few weeks ago when I started noticing a man walking back and forth behind the building. Normally I wouldn't think anything of this. While there isn't a sidewalk or a real street directly behind us, there are connections to adjacent parking lots. People do use that back driveway as a short cut from time to time. But it's rare to see the same person more than once a day almost every day of the week.

One day I saw this man walk behind some of the bushes that line the back of our property. These bushes and the brick wall behind them are what separate us from a residential neighborhood. When the man emerged from those bushes, he was wearing a different shirt than he had worn going in. The guy changed clothes.

I let the manager know that someone was obviously keeping things behind those bushes and not just next to our air conditioner. Eventually, the homeowners behind us began complaining about trash that had somehow migrated over the wall into their property. At that point it was decided that something had to be done about our resident nomad.

The police were called in to investigate and the homeless man happened to walk up just as the police were searching the bushes for his belongings. From my spot at the drive-thru, I was able to see the entire confrontation. However, there was no real confrontation. Everyone remained calm. Everything was resolved peacefully, though Ryan and I secretly hoped things would get out of hand and someone would have to be tasered.

In the end, all it took was someone from the bank telling the man that he wouldn't be able to stay here anymore. After that, if he came back, the police would have no choice but to arrest him for trespassing. Ryan had the unenviable job of giving the guy the bad news. He came back in after talking to him and said he felt horrible about it.

So we're really not sure who this man was or where he ended up going next. Hopefully he's okay and will get on his feet soon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Dead Zone

Title: The Dead Zone
Author: Stephen King
Published: 1979

I have an issue with a quote on the back of my paperback copy of this book. Apparently, someone from Cosmopolitan called this book "truly frightening... will scare you witless!"

Now, in a lot of Stephen King's stuff, I'll give that to him. I got scared reading The Stand. I was a little scared reading The Shining. 'Salem's Lot kind of got to me too. But The Dead Zone absolutely did not terrify me in the slightest.

This isn't to say that The Dead Zone wasn't a good book. I thought it was very good. It just wasn't scary to me. I just found it to be a dramatic tale about a guy who just happened to have the ability to see into people's lives by shaking their hands.

I'm sure some of the imagery was meant to be more frightening than I interpreted it. Maybe I'm desensitized to what some people consider frightening. I have seen a lot of scary movies. And I've seen the film version of this novel. I've started watching the TV show. I'm almost through the first season of it thanks to Netflix, but I'm not entirely convinced that I should keep watching beyond that.

The book itself was good. Not my favorite of King's work, but not his worst either. On the one hand, it seems like it'd be pretty cool to have the power to see into someone's future or past by touching them or touching an object with which they came in contact. At the same time, King clearly described Johnny Smith's turmoil of having this ability. By the end of the book, it's obvious that Johnny and those closest to him consider his ESP to be a curse.

His psychic ability didn't bring him fame and fortune. It only brought him pain and suffering. It wasn't something that Johnny ever asked for, but he got it. And he used it for good as best he knew how. It's easy to wish for an ability and think of all the good you could do with it, whether it be for others or yourself. But King reminds us that there can sometiems be a very negative aspect to how we use our talents.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lack of Scribblings

I've been slacking lately. Any of my regular readers have probably noticed that I haven't been participating in Sunday Scribblings for the last few weeks. Maybe you haven't noticed. Maybe you don't care. But I'd like to believe that you care. I'd also like to believe that you enjoy my efforts in fiction that I've posted on Sundays past. But just because I'd like to believe it doesn't necessarily make it true. I mean, I'd like to believe I don't need to work in order to earn money, but when will that ever happen?

But I don't want to be a slacker anymore. I don't want to keep being lazy when it comes to making up posts to fit the Sunday Scribblings prompts that show up in my Google Reader every week. And that's all it's come down to over the last few weeks. I've been lazy.

I've seen the prompts that have popped up and I've basically ignored them. I've still managed to post something all the other days of the week, but I've let Sundays slide off the calendar. Well, no more!

I've vowed and promised a number of times in the past that I would post something to the blog every single day. I do well for a while... sometimes for a long while... and then I slack off and start missing days here and there. And here I go, making that "every day" promise again.

I can't promise a new post every day. I'm human. I'll get tired. I'll get lazy. I'll have days when I'm not feeling especially creative. Those days are inevitable. After all, there are only so many subjects to cover when you write about stuff on a daily basis. And, honestly, I don't think my life is all that interesting. But I'll try.

And I'm gonna try to be better about reading other contributors to the Sunday Scribblings. Over at that site, there are dozens of other writers that share links to their blogs. In the past I've sporadically visited these other writers, but I don't usually get involved or leave comments. I suppose it isn't fair for me to hope to have lots of visitors to my blog when I'm unwilling to do the same for theirs. So that's another thing I'm gonna try to do.

I make no promises. And I know that Yoda says there is no try, only do or do not. But I can't say I'll do all the time, because life will inevitably get in the way. But until it does, here I am. Trying.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Leaving Smallville

It's probably not a good idea to sit down to write out my thoughts on the Smallville series finale just yet. I'm still geeking out over the whole thing. A lot, actually.

Here's the thing... I had to work last night. So I missed seeing it during it's first run showing on the CW. The only positive to all of that is I missed the commercials. I know how I get when I'm watching something I'm excited about seeing. I gasp when the commercials begin, even though I know they're coming. And then I grow incredibly impatient for the ads to be over, just so I can see what happens next.

In the past, when I've had to work and have been forced to miss a new episode of Smallville, I would typically jump on the Playstation Network and purchase the latest episode so I could still see it on my awesome HD television. But, in case you weren't aware, the Playstation Network is down. Like, way down. Been down for about a month. So in the last few weeks I've had to wait until the CW decided to upload the newest episodes online to watch for free.

But I hate waiting. And I hate getting five minutes into a show only to have it freeze because it has to buffer. What the heck does that mean, anyway? Buffering? Anyway, I didn't want to do that. So I decided to compromise. I couldn't buy it from the Playstation to watch on the big screen and I didn't want to wait until Wednesday to watch it on the internet, so I went to iTunes and bought it that way. I still downloaded it in high definition, but it was for a smaller screen. But the quality was not diminished.

That sure seems like a lot of back story to simply share how awesome I thought this series finale was. But after 10 years of waiting for Clark Kent to put on that red cape and take off into the sky, that need for a lot of back story kind of describes Smallville in a nutshell.

The show has had a lot of ups and downs. And I've been on that particular roller coaster since its beginning a decade ago. At its start, Smallville just seemed like another "freak of the week" kind of show, riding the coattails of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer only using the Superman mythos as its backdrop. As the years progressed, the show gained more of an undercurrent. It wasn't just about what bad guy would pop up each week and how Clark Kent would eventually take them down, despite being exposed to kryptonite at least twice per episode. As Clark Kent grew up, so did the series, and we saw more and more how this character was being shaped into the super-hero he was destined to become.

Now, I'll admit, around season 7 or 8, I began to have my doubts. A lot of them. How would this guy not be recognized as Superman once he finally put on the tights? Clark Kent has never worn glasses. His face would be easily recognized, especially by his worst enemy, Lex Luthor, who used to be one of his closest friends. And how was it that, even though he was well into his 20s by this point, he still hadn't learned to fly? His cousin showed up in the seventh year and could fly in her first appearance. The balance seemed a little off. But I stuck with it. And the payoff came in last night's finale.

Everything from this season and the last 10 years was wrapped up in a pretty decent little package. The big bad this year was a comic book character known as Darkseid. He was treated a little differently here, as most of the other comic book translations have been. Instead of being a physical being, Darkseid was portrayed as more of a spiritual darkness that had infected humanity. How do you stop that sort of enemy? By inspiring the people of the world with unshakable hope. Which is exactly what Superman is meant to be, a symbol of hope.

In this final episode, Clark Kent learned to embrace his destiny. He learned to embrace his past, not only as a farm boy from Kansas, but as the Last Son of Krypton as well. For years he's thought that he needed to walk away from his past in order to become the hero that the world needed, but he finally realized that both sides of his heritage are important to the man that would be Superman.

The next paragraph will have the spoilers. But really, it shouldn't be a spoiler because if you've ever liked Smallville for even a little while, you should have been expecting all of the things that made up this ending.

I mentioned that the finale was an incredible payoff. Clark Kent and Lois Lane end up together, as it should be. Lex Luthor returned from death, after supposedly being killed off in season 8. Clark Kent/Kal-El received the blessing to be Superman from both his biological father, Jor-El, and the man that raised him in Smallville, Jonathan Kent. Clark finally learned how to fly. And he finally put on the suit. He saved Air Force One... again... He saved the world... again...

Oh, and that whole thing where Lex would easily recognize that Clark Kent and Superman were one and the same? They fixed that. I mean, it was a little far-fetched, sure, but at least they saw the need to write their way out of it. When Lex killed one of Clark's allies (who also happened to be Lex's half-sister), she infected him with some kind of neuro-toxin that basically erased his memories. Now that I think about it, it's kind of a pity. I think it might be interesting to have a story where Lex Luthor knows that Superman is Clark Kent, but keeps that information to himself. I don't think Luthor would want to advertise that kind of knowledge. If more people know about a secret, it cheapens it for the few that already know it.

So watching the Smallville finale was incredibly bittersweet. Part of me is glad that it's finally over after all these years. That's the part of me that applauded at the end of the show when Clark ran out on the roof of the Daily Planet building and tore his shirt open to reveal the classic S shield. The other part of me would kind of like to see it go on and on. I do think it would have been interesting to see what kind of Superman Tom Welling would have played. But I accept that it's over. They told the story that they set out to tell. The creators' mission was to spin the tale of Clark Kent's journey to becoming a hero and Lex Luthor's journey to becoming a villain. After 10 years, they succeeded very well.

And I Feel Fine

There's a lot of talk about the end of days being upon us. We're coming up on 2012, the year that the Mayan calendar comes to an end. There are some people out there who think that once December 21 hits that year, our number is pretty much up. Personally, I think 12/21/2012 is just going to be another first day of winter and the world's just gonna keep on spinnin'. If you want to go back and read my historically accurate account of how the Mayan calendar came to be, click here. It's a pretty decent read if I do say so myself.

But lets leave the Mayan folks out of this for now. I mean, that's a whole year and a half away before we wake up and discover that the world's still here. We have more pressing matters that are pressing upon us. There are some who believe that we don't have 'til next December. There are those who believe we only have until next week.

Recently, driving around town, I've noticed a car that advertises a website: wecanknow.com. But the ad on the car isn't as vague as just throwing a web address at you and then driving away. There's a picture of a day planner opened to May 21, 2011, with the date circled in red. The car wants you to know that the guy driving it believes that Jesus is coming back on that very day.

Honestly, I find this a little intriguing. I don't believe it as fact, but I'm intrigued just the same. I was raised believing that no one would know the time of Christ's return. It's what I was taught in my 5th grade Sunday School class. It's what I was taught in college when I took a course that spent an entire semester studying the book of Revelation. It's what I learned from reading 1 Thesselonians 5:2, "For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." It's what I've believed my entire life. And that really hasn't changed.

A few weeks ago, when I first saw the car, I misread it. I thought the date read as March 21. As I was following the car I couldn't help but think, "Man, they sure missed that one..." Mostly because at this point, it was already April. But then at a stop light I got a closer look. I realized the prediction was for May 21. That didn't really make me feel any better.

I mean, if they'd been right, and it had been March 21, then where was I? What'd I miss? For that matter, why were they still driving that car around since it was so outdated? But if they're right about May 21, that's kind of short notice, isn't it? You'd think if someone pinpointed the date of the second coming that it would be national news. But I was curious.

I didn't run right home and jump on their website, just to see what it was all about. In fact, I sort of forgot about it by the time I got home. Then I saw the car again a couple weeks later. At that point I decided I'd take a look. I didn't read everything in depth, but just took a quick glance at some of what this organization had to say.

The founders of the website follow the teachings of a guy named Harold Camping. Oddly enough, Mr. Camping predicted the rapture would occur back in September of 1994. Didn't happen. Kind of makes me question the validity of his current prediction.

I'm sure if I were read the website in depth and let the words reach a comprehensive level, I'd find some pretty compelling arguments. Anyone who knows enough about what they're talking about can make a compelling argument. My Dad was the kind of guy who loved to play devil's advocate in a Sunday School classroom. He would sit quietly for a while and listen while the other men would take one point of scripture and come to an agreement about what it meant. Then he would speak up and somehow convince them that it meant something completely different. After convincing a room full of grown men that he was right and they were wrong, he would turn to the leader and ask, "John, would you like me to tell them why I'm wrong?" John would just look at him and laugh, "I wish you would."

God has given us the ability to access His Word. We have the responsibility to read what scripture has to say and to interpret it the way the Holy Spirit would guide us. Maybe that's how Harold Camping feels he's been led in his interpretation of scripture that has led him to predict Christ's return not once, but twice. But, as with anyone who preaches the Word, it's important that the hearers take the time to comprehend what has been preached. It is vitally important for people to not just accept what is preached at face value.

This is how things were centuries ago, before the Bible was readily accessible to the average church goer. Back then, people were ignorant of what God's Word really had to say to them. They simply accepted the Latin words that their priests gave to them. It's this kind of behavior that led to the Crusades and to corruption in the medieval church.

I'm not saying that Camping is right or wrong. I assume we'll find out one way or the other next Saturday. Personally, I'm not gonna hold my breath. And whether Christ's return can be predicted or not, I don't think I'd want to know anyway. Another one of those things I've always believed is that, as a Christian, I should be prepared for Christ's return any day. I know I fail at that all the time. But the point I draw from that verse in 1 Thessalonians is that there's no way to know when His return will occur. It could be today; it could be a hundred years from now.

People have been predicting the end of days since before Christ's birth. I guess, for some reason, human beings are just obsessed with looking to the future. We can't seem to just be happy with where we are today.

I didn't intend to get preachy, and I hope you don't see it that way. And remember, I am a seminary drop out. But if you've read this far, I'm interested to know what you think. Do you think there's a chance Camping has it right? Is this the end of the world as we know it? Do you think the Mayans are right? Does it really matter to you when the end will come? Or are you more focused on where you are today?

Hair Today, Gone...

...Well, today, also.

I've been toying with the idea of cutting off all my hair for a couple months. It's the kind of thing that hits me every few years. The last time I buzzed it short I was living in Roanoke and George W. Bush was the president. It was a different time. But the thing that ties these times together? It gets hot having that much hair on top of one's head. And I have a lot of hair.

It grows fast and it grows thick. I know I could have the opposite problem. Dad started losing his hair in his twenties. Mine just seems to keep growing more. And now that summer is approaching, I've decided that I don't want to face another one in North Carolina with a small jungle on my head. So now it's gone.

But now that I've cut it off, I'd like to salute some powerful, bald people. People who never let a lack of hair stop them from achieving greatness.

Telly Savalas - I mean, the guy was Kojak. And he was Jennifer Aniston's godfather. Bald and awesome.

Lex Luthor - Has he ever let a lack of hair stop him in his quest for global domination? No. Only Superman has that distinction.

Jean-Luc Picard - The guy captained the Enterprise for seven outstanding years on television. Can Kirk say that with his head full of hair? I don't think so.

Professor Charles Xavier - No hair and he can't walk. Yet he still runs a successful private school for gifted children in upstate New York.

Britney Spears - Sure we all thought she was crazy when this picture first made its way around the internet. But who's laughing now? Okay, I still laugh. But come on, it's funny.

Let me be clear, I am not going bald. Like the lovely Britney, I just took the clippers to my scalp and voluntarily got rid of everything but a couple millimeters of growth. That doesn't mean I'm crazy, like some pop stars desperately seeking attention after a failed marriage and lagging sales. I simply look at it as a cooling off period for my brain, which has been cooking under a thick cover of hair. Okay, I'll give you that one... it kind of sounded a little crazy.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Question of the Week: Insider

If someone offered you a large amount of money for some information about one of your company's products, would you accept it? Assume you know you won't be discovered.

This comes down to personal morality and how your conscience would allow you to go on knowing what you've done. For someone with no moral compass, it'd probably be real easy to just say yes, especially they'd never be found out. On the other hand, I couldn't do it. It wouldn't matter to me that no one else would find out what I'd done. I would know and that would be enough to deter me. Besides, let's think about the long-term ramifications of selling company secrets to a competitor. What if they take that information and eventually outdo your company. What happens to you then? Sure you may have gotten a nice kick back for giving out that information, but if they use it to put your employers out of business you're left without a job. A lot of people are probably without a job. And it would be all your fault. Just because you wanted to make some quick cash that you probably just threw away on hookers and booze. Shame on you!

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Starting to Think About It

What am I starting to think about? Getting a new car.

It wouldn't be a new car. Just new to me. And it's hard for me to admit that I've even started thinking about such a heinous thing.

Jade, my current car, has been a good car. She's been with me for 11 years. That's, like, 58 in car years. I don't know, I didn't really do the math. But I thought we'd be together forever.

We've had a lot of good times. A lot of great road trips. A lot of spur of the moment meals in the front seat. And there was that one time I spent the night in the back seat. Don't ask.

But we've had our share of down times as well. There was the time that the check engine light came on and stayed on for about two years. There was the time the A/C went out during one of the hottest summers I'd ever experienced. And we've suffered together as gas prices have soared.

Now I'm afraid we're reaching a point in the life of the car that I'm not sure we can both survive. She tends to breathe heavily when we idle at the stop light. Sometimes she sputters while we're just driving down the road. Sometimes she acts like she wants to cut right off as soon as I start her up.

I thought that, maybe, she was trying to tell me that she just needed some fuel injector cleaner. I added the treatment to my last tank of gas, but there was no improvement. But it isn't just the sputtering. There are a lot of other little things that seem to go wrong and the little things are adding up and happening more frequently. I was hoping to get her past 200,000 miles, but it looks like she won't go much further than the 187k she's got.

But here's my situation: I can't afford to get a new car. I don't have enough money put away to just buy a cheap car with cash. I found out that I'm pre-qualified for an auto loan where I work up to $10,000. It's nice to know that, but I really can't afford a car payment. On top of that, I'm sure my insurance payments would need to increase. There's a good chance that this replacement car, even if it was a cheap one, would end up costing me $150 to $200 each month. And I have no idea where that money would come from.

I'm looking for a higher paying job. I'm hoping one will pan out soon. But I've also had that hope for about the last three years, to no avail. So I'm gonna put this out there. Just to see what happens. I don't expect anything, but the door won't open if I don't knock.

Over to the right there's a "Feed the Blogger Fund" box with a button that says "Donate." From there, if one were so inclined, one could make a donation into my Paypal account. I'm not going to make any crazy claims like your gift is tax deductible. Frankly, I don't know how any of that works. And I'm pretty sure it's not tax deductible. I'm not a non-profit organization.

I can't even remember why I originally added that button to the blog. I know it's been there for some time now. And I know that I had one friend actually make a donation when I initially added it. I've scoured through my old blog posts but couldn't find the one where I first mentioned it. Must have been really important though. Not exactly new car important, but important nonetheless.

But anyway, that button is always over there. So give, don't give, it's up to you. I don't think that button will actually make or break me one way or the other. I guess the dream is to make money from the blog, then I wouldn't need a grown-up job. But we live in a real world and I'm one of those real people who needs a real job or two to make ends meet.

I'm thinking about a used Ford Focus. Somewhere in the early 2000s. Those aren't bad little cars. Whatever I get has to have good gas mileage. That is a necessity. That's all for now.

Monday, May 09, 2011


This weekend I went with my friend Bryce to see the new Marvel super-hero film, Thor. And really, if you couldn't tell that from the title of this post or from the poster image to the right, you have larger concerns than my opinion of the movie.

I like going to see movies with Bryce. He's a pretty smart kid. He's sarcastic and has a pretty dry sense of humor, so we get along great. Also, he holds the same contempt for 3D as I do. Much of the time he voices the same complaints that I tend to internalize. For example, "Do they just put it in 3D so they can charge an extra $2.50?" Yes, Bryce, I'm pretty sure they do.

But, despite the fact that Thor was presented in 3D for a $9.50 matinee ticket, it was actually good.

Being a DC Comics guy, I really didn't know much about Thor. I mean, sure, I did read a little Norse mythology in high school. So I knew the whole "god of thunder" thing. It's possible that I got that much from Adventures in Babysitting. Not too sure about that one. I knew that Odin was Thor's father and they lived in a place called Asgard. I'm much more familiar with Greek myths, so I always just equated Asgard as the Norse version of Olympus. I could be way off there as far as the actual stories go, but I'm just sharing my impressions from my misspent youth.

All that is to say I really had no clue what to expect going into this thing. My only exposure to the Marvel Comics character of Thor was from the comic book mini-series where Marvel and DC had a big universe clashing battle royale. He lost his hammer and Wonder Woman found it. Turns out she was "worthy" and she gained his powers for a while. It was pretty awesome.

But I digress. That has nothing to do with the movie.

But really, what is there for me to say about this movie? It was good. It was fun to watch. It's not gonna win any Academy Awards. Well, not the big ones with the best actors or the best pictures. Maybe special effects. There were a lot of really cool effects, I'll give 'em that. But the point of this wasn't about impressing the academy. This was about entertaining the masses.

And I mentioned my exposure to Adventures in Babysitting earlier. That's because there was an appearance by the mighty Thor within that movie. Kind of. The little girl, Sarah, was a huge fan of Thor. And she mistook the repair guy, Mr. Dawson, for her hero. Don't believe me? Watch the following clip...

Yes, that was Vincent D'Onofrio. And you know what? I bet Sarah, wherever she is today, is really, really excited about this movie.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XCVIII

The last couple days have been interesting. I mean, it's been fairly typical. I still work the drive through window at the bank. That's not the interesting part. In fact, that's about as uninteresting as you can get.

No, the interesting part comes in terms of my love life. More specifically, my lack thereof. Earlier this week I wrote a post mentioning each of the three women I've taken interest in at one time or another during my stint as a bank teller. In case you need a refresher, we have the Girl in the White SUV, the Hostess, and Spider-Girl. In the last two days, I've happened to see all three of them. This is an odd occurrence with the rarity of planetary alignment.

Thursday morning the Hostess dropped by. This is the one that I've become friends with through Facebook. Thanks to this fact I discovered that she has a boyfriend and they seem quite fond of each other. So I'm perfectly content with not pursuing her at all. At this point, my thoughts concerning her are basically limited to seeing a status update that happens to pop up on my news feed. Or thinking she's pretty when she pulls up to the window. But that can't be helped.

Thursday afternoon I was visited by Spider-Girl. And you'll be pleased to know I got her name. Now, in the interest of anonymity, I'm gonna keep that to myself. I just felt that I should share that I did ask and she did introduce herself. I did mention that I'd been calling her Spider-Girl, which got a laugh. FYI, she informed me that she found and killed the spider that had been plaguing her car for days. Good to know that disaster was averted.

Yesterday, the Girl in the White SUV surprised us all by coming to our little corner of the world. Things were slow and I was reading, as I sometimes do when I get bored. Because my head was buried in a book, I missed the e-mail from my assistant manager letting me know that he was pretty sure he saw the White SUV in question pull into the parking lot. He was giving me a head's up, just in case I needed to collect myself.

There was a time when seeing this girl would rattle me to my very core. My knees would get weak. My legs would turn to Jell-O. My heart would race and I'd forget how to speak proper English. But I needed no warning yesterday. I'd be lying if I said that seeing her wasn't a shock. After all, she hasn't been to my drive-thru since July of last year. I was fairly certain that by going out on the limb I chose by asking her out through a tasteful bouquet of flowers, I had scared her away from our branch forever.

Yet here she was. Yes, she looked just as beautiful as she had last summer. But I treated her just like I treat every other customer that drives up to my window. Well, not every customer. There are some I really don't like and am really short with. I still stick with my script, but with them I'm usually a lot quicker in saying what I'm supposed to say. With White SUV I was polite and greeted her by name. I smiled and she smiled back. And that's it. I didn't make a fool out of myself by saying something stupid like, "Well, where have you been all this time?"

The assistant manager came over and said he was proud of me for not passing out after seeing her. I looked at him and just said, "Really? It's because I don't care anymore."

And I don't. I don't care where she's been banking for the last 10 months. And I don't care if she decides to start using our branch again on a regular basis. That ship has sunk. If I ever decide to climb out on that particular limb again, the one where I attempt to pursue a girl that happens to be a customer, it won't be White SUV. A simple "no" would have sufficed. She really didn't have to disappear for a year.

In other news, I found out that a 40-something woman has her eye on me. Apparently, yesterday afternoon, one of the other tellers was helping a crazy old lady whom I chose to ignore. Before you gasp at my behavior, calm yourselves. I wasn't ignoring a customer that needed help with something. I just chose to block out whatever conversation she was having with my coworker. Turns out, it was a really good thing I was ignoring that conversation.

This crazy old lady leaned in to ask my coworker if I was single. Not for her. I don't consider 40-something to necessarily be "old." No, she was asking for the woman that was driving her around. I don't know who this woman was, I didn't see her. But apparently she's seen me. And I take it she likes what she's seen. Hard to blame her, I know.

But I don't see that happening. I like to try and stay within my 5-year radius rule. Not sure if I've explained that before. It means I'd be more comfortable with women who are no more than 5 years older or 5 years younger than I am. And I'm sure this is going to come out extremely age-ist or whatever, but I'd probably more likely to bend that rule and go younger than I would to go older. Unless I was bending the rule for Teri Hatcher.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Question of the Week: Public Execution

If there were a public execution on television, would you watch it?

Absolutely not. You know, I don't give a lot of time to the "reality" garbage they televise these days anyway. My only exceptions there are Big Brother and the occasional Amazing Race. I don't imagine they'd ever start killing off the contestants on those shows. It's difficult enough watching a favorite houseguest get evicted from the Big Brother house. Killing them wouldn't do much for me. Besides, I don't have any of the premium cable channels. And there's a good chance that you'd have to pay extra to see something like that. So even if I were depraved enough to want to witness an execution for entertainment's sake, I'm sure I couldn't bring myself to pay money to see it.

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

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Now Trending

I've noticed a recent trend on Facebook. It's a trend that I find slightly annoying. And it's entirely possible that I'm the only one it annoys because I think I'm the only one who hasn't jumped on the bandwagon.

The trend to which I refer is that of copying and pasting status updates. If you're on Facebook, I'm sure you know the ones I'm talking about. They're usually about a paragraph long talking about one cause or another or one political stand or the other or how proud you are of a certain member of your family this particular week. The identifying characteristic seems to be the final phrase, "Copy and post if you agree."

Like most things in my life that bother me, I'm not sure why this bothers me as much as it does. I just find it irritating. I find them to be like forwarded e-mails. Not the forwards with the cute little jokes. The ones that have an adorable anecdote about how a cat and a monkey have become unlikely friends and if you don't forward the story on to 832 people then you obviously don't love Jesus.

Look, if I agree with something you've decided to post on Facebook, isn't it enough for me to click the "like" button? Isn't that what it's there for? Why should I copy and re-post on my status just to blow up someone else's newsfeed?

But from my point of view, why should I even bother "liking" something that isn't original to you? You didn't come up with what was written. All you did was copy it from another friend's status update, and then you re-posted it as your own. If you want to post a quick blurb about how much you love your mother, why can't that suffice?

In my opinion, that's all a status update should be. It's a short, quick posting about what you're thinking at that time. Long updates can be tiresome. Especially for guys like me without smart phones who only check the newsfeeds at the end of the day.

And about the copying thing... I admit that I will occasionaly post a quote from a movie or TV show, or even a song lyric. And no, I don't give credit unless asked or if someone tries to attribute it to me by claiming that I'm so funny.

But when it comes to your causes or your feelings about having the best sister ever, just come right out and say it. Is it really that hard?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Single Guy and the Spider-Girl

The Single Guy doesn't so much like sharing about the women that frequent his bank anymore. This is mostly because it's never really gotten him anywhere in the past. Let's look at the previous examples:

There's the Girl in the White SUV. After months of debating whether or not he should even bother approaching her, he decided to make a move. Any attempt to make contact with White SUV was met with indifference. Eventually, she stopped coming to the bank altogether.

And then there was the Hostess. The Single Guy befriended her through a certain social network only to discover that she was in a long-term, committed relationship.

So, why try anymore?

But the Single Guy hasn't changed anything about himself. He still doesn't go out to meet new people. And attractive women haven't stopped coming to the bank. So he still notices the few that drive up to his window to conduct their everyday business.

This leads us to the Spider-Girl. She's someone that the Single Guy has seen on more than a few occasions. At first he wasn't referring to her as Spider-Girl, though. At first he was calling her the Hot Librarian. And it's not because she's a librarian. At least, he doesn't think she's a librarian.

She makes deposits for her employer, a local business. From that, the Single Guy assumes that she's not an actual librarian. No, the somewhat objectifying moniker comes from the girl's uncanny ability to pull off the horn-rimmed-glasses-and-hair-in-a-bun look. And she doesn't just pull it off. She makes it look amazing. Like you kind of hope she's the one at the front desk of the library and you're hoping she'll find some reason to say something to you. So you randomly shout out "BOOKS!" just so she'll come over and shush you.

The Single Guy has grown more comfortable attempting to talk to the Hot Librarian. Not that any deep and meaningful conversations have manifested themselves between the 2-inch bullet resistant glass. They're just short blurbs of conversation wherein the Single Guy has been able to showcase his quick and dry wit, inspiring a laugh or two with each of her visits.

Earlier in the week when she made her usual visit, he was thinking of ways to ask for her name. For one thing, referring to her as the Hot Librarian just seemed wrong. The Single Guy was, of course, aware that that name does tend to objectify her. And he was aware that it was entirely inaccurate, again, because she's not a librarian.

But as he finished her transaction and was about to ask her name, he noticed that she was freaking out about something in her car. "Are you all right?" he asked.

"I think so," she said, laughing and not too sure of herself. "A spider dropped into my lap and now I don't know where it went."

The Single Guy had just seen a video on YouTube about some type of spider in Australia that liked to hide in cars and would startle motorists causing some pretty severe pile-ups. This went through his head as he told the Hot Librarian to be careful driving. "That's how accidents happen."

The next day, she returned. When the Single Guy greeted her she started laughing. He felt a little self-conscious and asked, "Did I miss something?"

"No, I had just forgotten all about that spider until just now."

The Single Guy laughed along with her and made small talk, assuming she never found the arachnid. He still hasn't been able to get her real name, but he's decided to stop referring to her as the Hot Librarian. Spider-Girl seems a bit more appropriate from here on out.

He still wants to get her name. Spider-Girl is probably an inaccurate description as well. It's highly unlikely that she can walk on walls or shoot web fluid from her wrists. But that would be pretty spectacular.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Class Ring

At some point during my junior year of high school, I decided it would be a good idea to buy a class ring. The salesman was on campus and was doing a good job of convincing the student population that this was a necessary piece of nostalgia. Buying my class ring seemed like this important rite of passage, like getting a driver's license or landing that first job bagging groceries.

I don't have my class ring anymore. Well, I can't really say I don't have it anymore. I just don't know where it is. It could be in a box somewhere, still in my possession. Or it could be lost somewhere, never to be seen again. I don't really miss it. I'm not a ring-wielding kind of guy anyway. After my freshman year of college, I just stopped thinking about wearing it. And it stopped fitting my finger, which probably played into why I stopped wearing it a little.

But I don't really want to talk about my missing class ring. The story I want to tell is about my Dad's missing class ring. Really... it's a good story.

Dad graduated from William Fleming High School back in 1972. That's not too important to the story, I just wanted to give you an approximate time frame. A few years later, he was living in an apartment complex in Roanoke called Frontier Apartments. This was just before he and my Mom got engaged, around 1977. While he was living there, the property owners decided to remodel the second story balconies on all the buildings. Remember that detail, because it becomes important later on.

He wasn't sure when or where or how he misplaced his class ring, but at some point that year he lost it.

And now we flash forward nearly 20 years. Mom received a phone call at the house one day. This is back when we all still had land lines. The lady on the phone asked if she had called the home of the Lee Peck that graduated from William Fleming High in 1972. Mom thought this was odd, but confirmed that identity. Maybe this was a call about an upcoming reunion. They were coming up on 25 years. But that's not what it was about at all.

The woman that called began telling her story. Her grandchild was playing in her back yard and found this ring lying in the dirt and grass toward the back of the property. Turns out it was Dad's class ring. She found his name inscribed on the inside, then looked in the phone book for Lee Peck. She called the house and gave Mom directions to where she lived in Vinton (the next town over from Roanoke).

When Mom got to this woman's home, they put their heads together and figured out just how my Dad's high school ring could go missing somewhere in Roanoke, then turn up 20 years later in a random back yard in Vinton.

The woman's in-laws, as it turned out, were the owners of Frontier Apartments, where Dad had once lived. When they decided to have the balconies remodeled, they gave all the old lumber from the demolished balconies to their son and his wife. That lumber sat in their back yard in Vinton for a long time. Somehow, Dad's ring must have fallen into one of the scrap piles during the demolition. Maybe it got hung on a nail while it was being transported. Long after this family had gotten rid of the scrap, the ring laid their in their yard.

Mom came home and surprised Dad with the found class ring. After 20 years, he figured he would never see the thing again. He wore it for a while after reacquiring it. Occasionally he would make April and I kiss the ring. It was all very Godfather. Eventually, I guess, he stopped wearing again. I think April has it these days. She might have my class ring too. Maybe I should ask her about it...

Monday, May 02, 2011

Stand United

You know, I'm not really sure how to begin this post. I almost feel like it's an obligatory thing, to share my thoughts on the news that has unfolded over the last 12 hours or so.

I remember where I was on September 11, 2001. I'll always remember what I was doing when the news came over the radio. The image of the plumes of smoke rising from the towers before they fell will be burned into my memory for as long as I live. Will I say the same about the night of May 1, 2011?

Being someone that doesn't have much of a life, I got home from work last night, ate dinner, and then started thinking about going to bed. It was a little after 10 when the urge to hit the hay started to get me. And then I noticed a message from someone on Facebook announcing that President Obama would be making an important announcement at 10:30pm.

My mind started to race a little. Why would the president address the nation that late on a Sunday night? It had to be bad news, right? Was our economy finally collapsing? Did our nation's leaders decide that this democracy thing just isn't working for us anymore, so we're establishing the first Galactic Empire? It was late, I was tired, and this is where my mind goes when it needs sleep.

And then the news started trickling out of the TV, little by little. The talking heads were expecting the president to announce that Osama bin Laden had been caught and killed. That kind of news is worth staying awake for.

There were delays. The announcement that was due at 10:30 didn't actually occur until closer to 11:30. But it was worth the wait. President Obama stood at his podium and began his speech by saying, "Tonight I can report to the American people and to the world, that the United States has conducted an operation that has killed Osama bin Laden--the leader of al-Qaeda and a terrorist who is responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children."

Now, there is a part of me that knows that it's wrong to celebrate the death of another human being. It's that part of me that's supposed to be optimistic for mankind. It's that part of me that's supposed to hope for a better tomorrow in which even the worst that humanity has to offer can somehow find redemption and salvation. And I really don't think it's right to climb poles and dance in the streets wallowing in the suffering of anyone, even someone as bad as bin Laden. At the same time, I couldn't help but feel, like I'm sure millions of Americans were feeling, a certain sense that justice had been served.

Since the announcement was made last night, I've heard a lot of people giving their two cents. Mostly, it's been people calling the morning radio shows, deciding to spin it for the postitive or negative, depending on their political leanings. And I really wish people wouldn't do that. News like this shouldn't be a stepping stone for anyone, and I don't want to use it to promote my own personal politics or beliefs.

I try to keep this blog as non-political as possible. It's never my intent to promote one wing or the other. Instead, I'll just say this: I believe that no matter one's personal beliefs or ideals, we should come together as Americans and remain united. We live in a country where we're given a lot of incredible freedoms that we often take for granted. And too often, I think we forget that those freedoms have come at a high cost.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the enlisted men and women who make sacrifices on a regular basis, and have made sacrifices, not only in the last ten years, but in previous decades, and in over two centuries of our nation's existence. And please remember, just because one man has been removed from the equation, it doesn't mean that our fight against terrorism is over.

There's a lot that's gone into keeping civilians safe from terrorist attacks. There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes that the general public may never know about. But there's no sense in assigning blame for missteps on one administration or the other. Can't we just thank our elected leaders for doing the jobs that we've elected them to do, no matter what side of the aisle they're seated on? And more importantly, can we thank the men and women in the military who do a job that many of us are unable or even unwilling to do ourselves?