Tuesday, January 31, 2012

That Time I Went to the Beach

So, did I ever tell you about the time I went to the beach? I should probably be specific. I've been to the beach more than a couple times. I'm specifically talking about the time I went right after high school.

Senior Beach Week was this mythic thing. I'd heard the kids in school talking about it before we graduated. But I really didn't think I was gonna go. I wasn't exactly a social butterfly back at the Patrick Henry High. I'm not exactly one now either, but I was less so back then. So I didn't think I was close enough with a group of friends that would be going down to Myrtle Beach.

Somehow, it happened. I don't remember if someone in the group invited me or if I invited myself. Whatever the case, I ended up driving down to South Carolina as a part of a caravan that may or may not have gotten slightly lost. All I'll say about the road trip itself is that we missed our exit at one point. And then, for some reason, the lead car decided to pull a U-turn through the median on the highway. And for some reason I decided to follow. I pulled through the median on the interstate. Let us never speak of it again.

Eventually we made it to the beach, where about thirty of us packed into a three bedroom, co-ed condo. It wasn't really thirty... but it was close. I think. I know I was one of several who found themselves on the floor due to a lack of actual beds.

We played it pretty smart. We weren't the crazy high school graduates who felt the need to party excessively, and none of us experimented with the alcohol that week. At least, I don't think any of us did. We ate most of our meals there in the condo, which saved us quite a bit of money. Don't get me wrong, we did explore many of the fine establishments that the Myrtle Beach area had to offer in the summer of '98.

We went to Planet Hollywood but skipped the Hard Rock. We went to Dick's, hoping to have a great time getting insulted by a jerk waiter, instead we just got a guy who made dirty jokes. And they weren't even at our expense. People at other tables seemed to be having a much better time than we were. Oh, and Broadway at the Beach was a lot of fun.

A couple of our guys decided to get some fireworks and set them off on the beach. This was probably illegal, but we'd been driving through medians on the interstate and refusing to wait in line at tourist traps. We were rebels. Most of us stayed back and watched from our balcony while they lit fuses near the water. The display was cut short when a stray bottle rocket shot down the beach and nearly killed a couple taking a romantic moonlight stroll on the shore. Let us never speak of it again.

It was a long week. But at the time, it just didn't seem long enough. I'm not sure I walked away without getting sunburned. Generally, as a rule, I get pretty fried whenever I visit the ocean. It wouldn't be my last hurrah with this particular group of high school friends, but it was the final one before I moved on to the college years.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Question of the Week: If I Had $1,000,000

You are given $1,000,000 to donate anonymously to charity or a stranger. How would you dispose of it?

Tens and Twenties. And I can't tell you to whom it would be given... then it wouldn't be anonymous.

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

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I'm trying to take cover behind a wrecked Corvette. Yeah, I'm the one that wrecked it. But that's not really important right now. What is important is the heat from the explosions that are rocking my world right now.

I sneak a peek over the hood of the car and see little more than balls of orange flame and black smoke rising high into the air. I duck back down and take a deep breath. I reach into my pocket and pull out a picture. The girl in the picture? She is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful women on the planet. But I'm not doing any of this for her.

I'm no hero. I'm not doing any of this for the love of the woman in the picture. It isn't for glory or honor or duty to my country. I'm doing it for money.

Try not to judge me too harshly, okay? Everyone has their motivations. Mine just happens to be dollar signs. And let me tell you, the paycheck I get at the end of this gig is well worth the heat and frustration that I'm feeling at the moment. And the girl? You could say she's just a bonus.

Get your head out of the gutter. It's not like that.

It's time for me to make my move. Another deep breath and then I'm on my feet. I jump across the hood of the car. I don't see how it's any quicker than running around the car, but it looks cool. Not that anyone is really paying attention to what I'm doing right now. Things are exploding. Fireballs tend to be eye catchers.

I'm running about as hard as I've ever run. Another explosion goes off somewhere to my right. That's when I feel the sharp pain in my thigh. I stumble a bit and look at my leg. From what I can tell, I've been hit by some shrapnel. This wasn't part of the plan.

I was just supposed to move from one point to another. Sure, it's across something of a minefield, but it was supposed to be that simple. Now I have this thing sticking out of my leg. I'm not bleeding much, so I keep moving.

With each step, I wince. I'm trying to hold back. I don't want the pain to show in my face, but it's realistic, right? You have a sharp piece of metal sticking in your leg, you're gonna feel it. Especially if you try to keep moving.

Suddenly the explosions seemingly stop. Things calm down all around me. I collapse to the ground, breathing heavily. And then I hear it.

"Cut!" yells the director.

I'm quickly surrounded by a couple producers, the stunt coordinator, and the medic that's always on set for these big action sequences. My agent told me I should try to avoid doing my own stunts, but I always think it's fun. Besides, why pay someone whose face you can't even show on camera when I can do most of the physical stuff myself anyway?

The EMT is examining the injury to my leg. I really don't want to pay attention to what she's doing. I can hear the producers asking if I'm okay and they yell back at the director that my leg is in bad shape. At least I think that's what they're saying. I'm in a lot of pain and everything is kind of a blur right now.

I hear someone suggest that I take a ride in an ambulance. "Is this really necessary?" I ask.

"We need to get that metal out of your leg," says the lady wearing the latex gloves. "You'll definitely need stitches. When was the last time you had a tetanus shot?"

"I don't know, a few years ago?" I'm really not sure. Now come the profuse apologies from the stunt guy. He tells me he's gonna have a talk with the guys with the explosives so they can get to the bottom of what happened. They seem to be worried that I could have been killed.

The woman from the picture stands off to the side. She hasn't taken her eyes off me since the director stopped the shoot. She hasn't taken her hand away from her mouth since the shrapnel hit me. She's my co-star, Maria, and she looks genuinely concerned. That, or she's a much better actress than she lets on when she's on camera.

"Adam," says one of the producers as he puts his hand on my shoulder, "we're gonna get you taken care of, okay?"

I just nod. I kind of just want this to be over with so I can get back here in time for the director to shout action again.

This prompt brought to us by Sunday Scribblings. Go see how others were inspired by "Action."

Thursday, January 26, 2012


You know, there have been a lot of ups and downs over the last few months. Not to be a downer, but it kind of feels like the downs have outweighed the ups. I can live with that. But I won't lie, it's been kind of rough.

In short, the dream job that I accepted a few months back turned out to be less dreamy than initially expected. I've since chosen to accept another position with a different company. This new position is, in fact, an old position that I held years ago, pre-NC. As an added bonus, I'll be using my degree again. A welcome change.

In between jobs, I've been given some unexpected time off this week. On impulse, I decided to embrace my impromptu vacation and have visited Bluefield, the home of my alma mater.

Wednesday evening I made the trip up in time to have dinner with Mark, Andy, JMitch, and a few new friends that had made the trip from Richmond for a concert on campus. Once we finished our Mexican treats at La Fiesta, we attended the campus concert which featured All Sons and Daughters.

To describe this time as a concert would be completely inaccurate. I knew nothing about this duo before coming to Bluefield this week, so I had no expectations. I just made the decision to made the trip because I knew I'd get to see a lot of my old friends. So arriving in the Student Activities Center and participating in some genuine worship was a welcome event. It was something I desperately needed. God knew that and He used it.

Something else I needed? Time with friends that I haven't seen in years. Mark, Andy and JMitch I've seen recently, and I always have a good time. But there are others that are here in the Bluefield area that I haven't seen in several years. To catch up with them and share about where our lives are these days was just as much a blessing as singing praise songs with All Sons and Daughters.

I've always looked back on my time at Bluefield College with a fondness that will never go away. The friendships that I had in those days, in a lot of ways, are still strong. Some of these folks I stay in constant contact with. We email, we text, we talk on the phone. Others, I can go months, or even years without talking. But then, when we do talk, it's like no time has passed at all.

I cherish these friendships. And I thank God for them.

Monday, January 23, 2012

In Other News...

You remember my blogging friend Amy, right? Of course you do. She's the one that won my awesome 50 Follower Giveaway a couple weeks back. She has a blog called Ha Ha. Wait. What? And she is hosting an awesome giveaway of her very own.

Even as I type this post, she is giving away two copies of The Civil Wars Barton Hollow CD.

I want to win. But I'm giving you, my readers, the chance to surf over to her blog to reduce my odds of winning. See how nice I am about that? You can thank me later if you happen to win.

But you won't. Because I'm gonna win.

Question of the Week: Entranced

If you could pass your whole life cared for in every way as you slumbered peacefully, entranced by wonderful dreams, would you do so?

No. Because that would mean the machines have won and the Matrix has us. I will not become a battery that keeps the machines alive!

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

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Pete and Kenny were killing time in the coffee shop. Pete was drinking his grande with one cream and no sugar while reading the newspaper. Kenny just flicked the lid of his tall mocha while staring at the brunette barista behind the counter. The girl noticed him looking at her, but in the split second that their eyes met, Kenny quickly looked away, as if his eyes had simply been wandering the whole time. He waited a few seconds and looked back at her. She had, by this time, looked away and continued with her work. But she was smiling.

"Pete," Kenny whispered.

"Yeah," said Pete without looking up from the Sports page.

"The girl behind the counter, she's pretty hot, right?"

Pete looked up and saw the girl as she sprayed whipped cream into the top of a customer's cup. "Yeah, she's kinda hot," he said and returned to the paper without really giving the girl another thought. "You should go talk to her."

Kenny knew this was coming. It's always so easy for the outgoing guy with the winning personality to hand out the advice to go talk to her. But for the introvert who stammers when confronted with an attractive woman, it's another story.

"Sure... and say what?" Kenny could feel his anxiety level rising and he hadn't even committed to the idea of approaching the girl behind the counter.

Pete sighed and dropped the paper to his lap. "Are we really going through this again?" he asked.

Pete had been friends with Kenny for a very long time. They'd seen each other through college, through the loss of jobs, and even the loss of loved ones. Each of them knew that the other would always be there for support, no matter what. But Pete just couldn't understand Kenny's lack of self-esteem.

"Going through what?" Kenny asked.

"You're gonna make me give you the 'good enough, smart enough' speech again, aren't you?"

Kenny just sat there. He knew this was coming too. A part of him wished Pete would just stop right there. He wasn't fishing for compliments, but that's where Pete would go next.

"Dude, just go talk to her. She can't be that intimidating. I mean, yeah, she's attractive, but so what?" He just looked at his friend, waiting for a sign that he was getting through.

"You think it's possible a girl like that might respond to me?"

"Of course it's possible!" For a moment Pete forgot he was in a quiet coffeehouse and didn't realize his voice was raised. He looked around at the faces that had suddenly turned in his direction. Embarrassed, he lowered his voice, "Of course it's possible... But only if you take the initiative to walk up to her and introduce yourself."

"Kenny, you're a great guy. Everyone else sees it. Why can't you?" Pete said as he stood from his seat. He dropped the newspaper back on the table and put on his coat. "I've got to get to work. Next time I see you, I expect you to have the hot girl's phone number."


"No buts," Pete interrupted. He didn't want to hear Kenny's excuses. He wanted Kenny to take control of his own life for once. He wanted Kenny to stop floating along like good things would just come to him. He wanted Kenny to take the reins and make good things happen for himself. He figured that approaching a girl at the coffee shop would be an excellent start. "Go. Talk. And remember to smile. Girls like that sort of thing."

Pete walked out of the coffeehouse and headed to work. Kenny continued to sit on the sofa for a while, flicking the lid of his tall mocha while occasionally stealing glances at the brunette barista behind the counter. He didn't even like coffee. He couldn't quite figure out why he wasted five bucks on this mocha that he knew he wouldn't drink. He came here to hang out with a friend. Now he was sitting alone, wishing he had the courage to say hi to a pretty girl.

"Are you all right?"

Kenny looked up from his cup and saw the brunette barista sitting on the arm of the chair that Pete had been sitting in. She was smiling sweetly at him, a look of near concern on her face. Kenny opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out.

"Sorry," she said, "I know it's none of my business, did you and your friend have a fight? You look like you're kind of lost in thought over here."

Kenny laughed to himself. "Oh, no, there was no fight. He just had to get to work. I was kind of lost in thought."

From the back of the store, a voice called out, "Rachel, can you clear some tables?"

"I'm on it," the brunette barista called back. "That's right. My name's Rachel and I work in a coffee shop. No Friends jokes, please." She smiled as she stood up. "Can I get you anything? A refill?"

"No, thanks. I'm good for now."

"Well, if you change your mind, or decide you want a break from your thoughts, you know where to find me," said Rachel as she pulled a washcloth from her apron.

"I do?"

"Yeah, behind the counter," she said, lightly slapping Kenny on the arm, "I work here, remember?"

"Oh, yeah," said Kenny, feeling embarrassed by his lack of cool, "I'll try to remember that."

Rachel laughed as she walked away. Kenny couldn't help but watch as she cleaned tables and returned behind the counter to help the new customers. They smiled at each other whenever they made eye contact. Kenny never once took a sip of his tall mocha. He simply threw it in the trash when he left the sofa and walked to the counter. He got to thinking, if he could get her to smile just by smiling himself, maybe asking for her number would be possible too.

This prompt brought to us by Sunday Scribblings. Go see how others were inspired by "Possible."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

AFI 64 - Network

Directed by Sidney Lumet
Netflix sleeve: When network new anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) loses his mind on the air, his outrageous rants reach viewers at home, boost the ratings and intrigue cutthroat network executives Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall. William Holden contrasts their avarice as an old-school TV journalist hopelessly out of step in writer Paddy Chayefsky's Oscar-winning masterpiece, which predicted today's rash of trash television and shock-laden news broadcasts.

Well, it's nice to finally say I've seen the actual source of the line, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" I think that's one of those lines that's been used and parodied over and over again. On the whole, this movie didn't really do much for me. It was kind of bizarre in my opinion. Not one I'll be watching repeatedly.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Factory Settings

Back in November I got my very first smart phone. I confess that I think I love my smart phone. It's a Droid X2 and I'm fairly certain that it does a lot more than I'm even aware of. Thus far, I pretty much use it to send text messages, check my e-mail, and keep up with the Twitter and the Facebook. I mean, there are a few other things I've discovered, but those are the most common uses.

Up until yesterday, things had been going great for me and my Droid X2, which I have officially named Artoo.

I'm glad you asked. Things just stopped working yesterday with no apparent explanation. It was working just fine, and then just before lunch, I went to check it to see if I'd gotten any messages and the power button wouldn't turn the phone on. Generally, I'm able to just press it and it'll come on and show me that it's locked. But at this point, even holding the button down did nothing.

So I removed the battery. This is the correct answer to most problems in life. Remote not working? Remove the battery. Smoke detector beeping incessantly? Remove the battery. Got a headache? Remove the... wait... maybe it doesn't solve all problems. But it seemed to work for the phone. I took out the battery, waited a minute or so, then put it back in. And voila, it turned back on.

But it wasn't long before it started having the same issue. I hadn't been doing anything out of the ordinary with it, and the battery had a full charge. It just didn't seem to want to turn on when the power button was pressed. Confusion and frustration set in.

What would I do without my cell phone? It's the only way anyone has to get in touch with me. Well, there's email, but if I'm not at home and my phone isn't working, even that becomes a moo point. Also, my phone is my alarm clock. If I don't have my phone when morning comes, how will I know when to wake up? The correct answer is: I won't.

So I took a trip to my local Verizon store when I got off work last night. In the car, I kept checking the phone to make sure it wasn't coming on. I just knew that once I got to the store, the guy would have no problem getting everything to work and then he'd just look at me like I was crazy. Sure, the phone wouldn't come on when you hit the power button. We're busy here, sir. Come back when you have a real problem and not just the ones that you make up to get attention.

Luckily, the phone was still exhibiting the same problem. My sanity remained intact in the Verizon guy's eyes. He couldn't figure it out. He said that the issue was probably a software problem. His suggestion: restore the phone to the original factory settings. I had no problem with that. I've only had the phone for two months and there really wasn't anything that I couldn't afford to lose. After all, my contacts were all backed up on the internet, so I wasn't losing any phone numbers.

The only problem was, he couldn't get the phone to power up so he could perform the necessary steps to restore the phone. So we very nearly had to have a replacement phone sent to me. I wasn't too keen on that idea though. That meant I'd have to go a couple days without a phone. I think I would have a serious breakdown if I had to go a day without being connected. Though, now that I've said that out loud, maybe it would be something that would be good for me.

Miraculously, he was able to get the phone turned on and he did finally restore everything to its original settings. It was a little inconvenient to have to go through and change my settings again. Oh, and I had to re-download the Twitter and Facebook apps. But I've got it back to what I'm comfortable with.

The biggest issue I now have is that I lost all my progress on Angry Birds. I was doing good too. And I had three stars on a lot of those levels.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just a Test

I've often been called a "Cesspool of Useless Knowledge." Okay, it's possible that I'm the only one that's ever referred to myself in such a way.

Whatever the case, I do have a lot of random facts rattling around in my brain. And night after night, I watch Jeopardy and convince myself that I could be on that show. Tonight, I decided to put my money where my mouth is. I took the online test to see if I could even qualify to get on the classic game show.

The test consisted of 50 questions, each to be answered within 15 seconds. That's a lot of pressure to type fast and accurately. Luckily, I not only know a lot of trivial crap, I'm wicked fast typist.

Sadly, there were several questions that I just didn't know the answers to. I started out pretty well. I nailed the first 10 questions. Then it's like they decided to throw in the stuff that I would have needed access to Wikipedia to know.

I don't know how well I did. I'll never know what kind of score I got. All I know for sure is that the Jeopardy people will get in touch with me if I qualify for a personal audition. I probably won't hold my breath on this thing though. Guess we'll see what happens in the next few weeks.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Question of the Week: Premeditated Plans

You have arranged an evening with a friend, but on the day preceding your date a special opportunity arises to do something much more exciting. How would you handle the situation?

I would not break plans with this friend. No matter how exciting this "special opportunity" may be. It's happened to me before. I had plans with someone but then something came up and they decided they wanted to do this other thing instead. Look, I'm sorry I'm not the guy you really wanted to go to the prom with. Whatever. Don't get me wrong. I got over it. But it kind of stings when it happens. So, yes, I would continue to keep the plans that had already been made previously with my friend. I don't care how bored we're both gonna be. I mean, I can pretty much meet Community's Alison Brie any time, right? I'm assuming that the "special opportunity" in question is a face to face meeting with Community's Alison Brie.

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

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I've never been known as a patient man. I was sick of waiting for an answer and I grew irritated. I quickly packed my bag and slung it over my shoulder. Without looking back, I walked out of my home and out of my village. I wasn't sure if I would ever see my people again, but my curiosity had gotten the better of me. I needed to find out what exactly had fallen from the sky.

The people of my tribe believed that it was a star that had fallen out of the heavens. But they haven't studied the stars as I have. They don't understand that the stars are not just twinkling lights in the sky that can come loose and move from their place. But without exploring the fallen object, no one could offer a better explanation. And this is where the tribe finds its biggest problem.

Everything that happens has to be discussed in a meeting of the Council of Elders. The old men in the village have to come to a decision. What is best for the tribe?

Don't get me wrong, I respect our tribe's elders. But their committee just takes too much time. Three days had already passed. I did not want to risk another tribe finding the "star" and claiming it for their own. I wanted to find it and I wanted to study it.

I decided to follow the advice of my uncle B'Lairo. When I was a kid he told me, "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission." At the time I think he just enjoyed watching me get into trouble. But those words certainly applied to my current situation. If this is a trip that I survive, it's possible I'll return to the village a hero. Of course, it's also possible that I'll be ostracized for disobeying the Council. But it's not as if they explicitly told me not to go.

I walked all night and found the site of the fallen "star" just after dawn. I was completely unprepared for what I saw.

It came as no surprise that there was no star lying in a crater. What did surprise me was the sight of strange people walking around. These weren't people from a neighboring village. These were people that I wasn't sure I could actually call people.

Their skin was smooth and strange color. They didn't have the scales that were typical of our race. Their faces were oddly shaped. If I wasn't mistaken, it looked as if their nostrils were just above their mouths, rather than above their eyes. The longer I watched, the more I got confused by these creatures.

From what I observed, they were responsible for the fallen "star," or whatever it was. It was larger than any of our buildings, and they kept walking in and out of it, carrying boxes. I could tell that they were speaking to one another, but their language was strange to me. And then I noticed that one of them saw me.

Quickly, I attempted to hide, but I knew it was too late. I could hear the footfalls of several of these creatures coming my way. I was scared and suddenly wished that I had waited for the Council's decision.

Soon I was faced with three of the strangers. They were yelling at me and I tried to calmly explain that I couldn't understand them. They just kept yelling. One of them brandished a strange looking stick. I could only assume it was a weapon of some kind. I put my hands in front of me, hoping they understood that I meant them no harm.

This action on my part did nothing to calm them down. They grabbed my wrists and pulled me up and forced me to walk toward the rest of their tribe. One of them shouted something and I saw another come toward me with a length of rope. They planned to tie me up, as if I was a threat to them.

They carried me into the inside of their "star" and threw me into a small, dark room. After tying me up, one of them said something before slamming a door shut, leaving me alone. I couldn't be sure how long they would hold me hostage. I could only hope that the rest of my tribe would eventually decide to come and find me.

This prompt brought to us by Sunday Scribblings. Go see how others were inspired by "Tribe."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Am Number Four

Title: I Am Number Four
Author: Pittacus Lore
Published: 2010

I've been reading this book for a while now. I know that, for the most part, when it takes a long time to read a book, it means that the book isn't holding my attention. It isn't causing me to turn page after page to find out what happens next. It's kind of boring.

That's not the case with this book. My reading of this book was interrupted by a great deal of illness. December got kind of rough there in the health department. I'm not saying I was at death's door or anything so dramatic as that, I was just kind of miserable. And when you're miserable and taking a number of sleep-inducing medications, well, it's kind of hard to focus on the words on a page.

But it's a pretty good book. I actually saw the movie before I read the book. But I honestly don't remember much about the movie, other than it had the girl from Glee. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention when I watched the movie last year. I got it from the Redbox when I was still living in North Carolina. It's possible that I had every intention of watching it, but ended up having it as background noise while I did other things in my apartment.

I think it's a good thing that I forgot most of the basic plot threads. It helped me to read the book with a fairly fresh outlook on things. Basically, it's about a kid and his guardian. They just happen to be aliens from the planet Lorien. They're being hunted by a different, brutal race of aliens called Mogadorians. Their home planet was basically destroyed by these Mogadorians. Now, John and Henri have taken refuge on earth, along with eight other specially powered kids and their guardians.

For the Mogadorians, there are certain rules when it comes to hunting down these special children, known as the Garde. While they can all eventually be killed, they must be killed in order. As we begin the story, the kid described as Number Three is found and killed. John is Number Four and becomes aware that he's next on the list.

John and Henri make their way to Paradise, Ohio, where they attempt to once again create a normal life for themselves. All they while, they learn more about John's developing powers, or Legacies. He discovers that he can create light with his hands, is impervious to fire, and has powerful telekinesis. Apparently, this is just the beginning.

As is usually the case, just when things seem to resemble a normal life, things get shaken up and they are discovered by the bad guys. Chaos ensues and it makes for a pretty exciting climax for the novel. During the battle, John is discovered by not only the Mogadorians, but by another member of the Garde, Number Six. Together they drive off into the sequel, prepared to join the remaining four Garde members to take the fight to the Mogadorians. Their eventual goal is to return to their home planet and rebuild their civilization.

That last part is an assumption on my part. I guess I'll find out more when I read The Power of Six, which is the next installment in the series. Hopefully it won't take another month to read part two.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

So here's the thing. I was going to do this as a video blog. I really was. I know I've made empty promises about video blogging in the past. But this time, it was for real. I turned on the webcam and tried to do this thing right.

Part of my reasoning was so that you could see that I was doing this drawing on the up and up. I was going to show on film how I put the contestants' names on little folded up pieces of paper and put them in a hat and shook it around and then drew one out at random. Now you just have to take my word for it.

The footage was jumpy, I could barely be heard... it was a mess. The lesson that I'm taking away from this whole fiasco is that if I'm ever to really start video blogging, I'm just gonna need a better camera. 'Cause the one that came built into the laptop kinda sucks.

But I digress. This post is supposed to be about who won the awesome prize pack in my Fifty Follower Giveaway. I know that each and every one of you is on the edge of his or her seat. Even the ones who failed to enter the contest. I don't hold it against you for not entering. I'm just glad you still follow my blog.

I do want to thank each of the followers who did decide to enter. To Zac, Brandon, Jessica, JMitch, Aubrey and Amy, I really do appreciate you guys taking the time to play along and fuel my ego just a little bit. And so, without further gilding the lily and with no more ado, I present your champion...


Congratulations, Amy! You will soon be the proud owner of the most awesome movie ever, the first season of the smartest comedy on TV, and a t-shirt that just might make you indestructible. You may not want to test that theory about the t-shirt. In fact, the S is really just for show.

Well, that's it for now. Thank you again to all who participated. I hope you enjoy Carp Dime and continue to be regular visitors. I'm sure that everyone will have a chance to win something again someday. After all, I'm sure hitting 100 followers is an inevitability that cannot be denied.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Last Chance!

Hey there sport! I just wanted to post this little reminder that today is your last chance to enter your name in my completely awesome Fifty Follower Giveaway! As of the time that I'm writing this post, I have five entrants. FIVE! Out of 51 followers.

That's right, I got another one!

It won't be too late to enter until midnight tonight. That's the cut off time. Tomorrow a name will be drawn and a winner will be announced. You can't win if you don't enter. Need a reminder about the prizes? Here you go...

Click here and enter!!!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Question of the Week: Disturbing

Of all the people close to you, whose death would you find most disturbing?

I'm not sure I can pick one person. I'd be disturbed by any unexpected death of anyone that's close to me. It's been over five years and I'm pretty sure I'm still not over losing Dad. Losing a loved one is a difficult thing to deal with. I know it's something that will have to be dealt with again at some point. It's a natural part of life. Okay, I'm done thinking about this.

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

Sunday, January 08, 2012


They're just lying to themselves, she thought as she stared at the doctors with contempt. They stood on the other side of the safety glass, conferring over what had just happened. They were undoubtedly trying to decide the best course of action for her. After all, it was her words that sparked the outburst in the common room. Therefore, the powers that be would hold her responsible.

Ella could never take this place seriously. Her doctor and her therapist both told her that she was only here so they could help her return to normal. She always laughed at that word. Normal. Such a thing did not exist. And when she tried to point that out, it only led to an argument. It wasn't worth Ella's time or energy to attempt a serious conversation with these people.

They considered "normal" to be anyone who was like them. As she watched them, she smiled when she realized that they were more like her than they cared to admit. Yes, they were on the other side of the glass. They worked for this wretched hospital and could come and go as they pleased. But deep inside, they were just as tormented as the patients they so desperately sought to cure. They just weren't as honest about it as she was.

To the outside world, she and her fellow inmates were deemed insane. They were viewed as abnormal. All because they did not conform to the things that society defined as normal. All because they weren't as comfortable, or may have been unable to disguise their abnormalities as all those "normal" people.

The thing Ella came to realize, however, was that all those "normal" people were just as sick and depraved as she was. They were just able to put on a smile before they left the privacy of their homes. The face they showed the world was the mask that convinced everyone that they too were normal.

But she could see past those masks. She could see the abnormal behind the normal. The hospital staff didn't take too kindly to her referring to them as insane in front of the other patients. They didn't like it too much when others started agreeing with her and laughing at the doctors. They were embarrassed. And now someone needed to be punished.

Ella had rocked the boat. She knew she wouldn't be sitting in the common room for much longer today. She wasn't sure where they would take her, but she knew it would be unpleasant. In a normal place, those in authority would never have been able to get away with the things she knew were being planned for her. But this was not a normal place.

This prompt brought to us by Sunday Scribblings. Go see how others were inspired by "Normal."

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Dirty Santa

I haven't really talked much about my job. And I'm not gonna talk about my job in this post either. At least, not really. I really just want to focus on the office Christmas party.

You know how these things go. Food, music, socialization with co-workers in a non-work setting. And, of course, there's the gift exchange. You know how awkward this little game can get, right? People draw numbers, then they choose gifts. They can pick something that's wrapped under the tree or they can steal an opened gift from someone who went before them.

I rarely have good luck with these things.

My first time out, I picked a gift under the tree. Of course, I was number 9 of 43, so there weren't many opened options at that point. I opened my choice and revealed a nice travel coffee mug and coffee from Starbucks. And, as a bonus, it came with some fancy chocolates taped to the package. This is a problem for me because A) I do not like chocolate and B) I do not like coffee.

So I sat there for a while, hoping that someone liked coffee and chocolate just enough to steal it away from me. Eventually, that's what happened. I waited a long time for it to happen, but it did.

Then I opened a gift that was apparently a highly coveted commodity. Maybe it was my emotional state or my complete lack of sensitivity to things people typically care about, but I honestly couldn't have cared less. When I looked at it, I saw an awkward looking calculator. Everyone else looked and saw a beautifully handmade wooden thing built around the awkward looking calculator.

As I made my way back to my seat, I heard all the people around me telling me how last year this was the thing that everyone fought over. That told me I wouldn't keep it very long. That was fine. I don't need a handcrafted calculator holder.

Meanwhile, I'm listening to the guy next to me talk about how no one is going for the gift he brought. "I bet it's because it's not wrapped to look nice." He said this over and over again. Every time someone went up to pick a gift, he repeated his tale of woe. He even went so far as to tell me exactly what he brought. I'm not sure if this would entice me to pick it when I inevitably lost my fancy calculator or what, but that's exactly what I did.

Believe me, it wasn't because the gift he brought was the most amazing thing ever. It was an obscure movie that I'd never heard of along with $5.00 gift cards to McDonald's and Little Caesars. I was not enticed by his description. But I did take the misshapen green gift bag containing the gift he brought. Why would I take something I knew I wouldn't really want? Mostly to get him to stop complaining that no one was taking his gift. It was like sitting next to Charlie Brown during the worst Christmas ever.

And I thought I could be negative.

But here's the kicker. I finally decided to use that Little Caesars gift card today. I was near the Little Caesars and thought I pizza sounded pretty good for lunch. I went in to get my Hot-N-Ready pepperoni pizza and handed over my gift card. And then the girl behind the counter kindly let me know that the card had a zero balance. Real funny, Charlie Brown. Apparently my lucky streak with the Dirty Santa game continues.

I have yet to watch the DVD that came in the bag. The way things are going, I'm fairly certain I'll put it into the DVD player only to have the display read that it's a blank disc.

Friday, January 06, 2012

A Friend Request

Remember my manager from when I used to work at the bank? It was a long time ago, back when I lived in the Raleigh area. Way back in 2011. Anyway... He's put out a plea via Facebook to help out a friend of his and has requested that I share the request on my blog. This is something I'm happy to do.

Here is his request, taken directly from his post on Facebook:

I have a friend that is 3 months behind on his/her mortgage. This is not some drug addict or someone that has a spending problem. He/she has fell on some very hard times and now faces foreclosure. I would like to reach out to everyone I know to offer some annonymous help. If 150 people could offer $20 this would bring him/her current. Contact me directly if you would like to help. I am using facebook b/c it is the fastest and easiest way to reach a lot of people. Thank you in advance

To contact Charles, you can reach him through his Facebook page.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Fifty Follower Giveaway

Hey gang, I just wanted to post a reminder that I'm holding a giveaway as a celebration of having 50 followers. Thus far we have three entries. Be sure to go back to Tuesday's post and leave your comment, entering your name into the drawing.

As a reminder, the prizes are DVDs of Back to the Future and the first season of Community, as well as a Superman t-shirt.

Also remember, you have the chance to have more than one entry in the drawing. If you have a blog, just post a link to it in your comment. You can get a third entry by linking to the contest post from your blog.

Look, I would love to have 50 people enter the contest. Heck, I'd love to have even more than that. But if you guys want to give the contestants a one in three shot at winning, that's cool too. I just want to have fun with this. I hope you do to.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Sneaky Sneaky

Saturday evening, while I was sitting at home not celebrating the New Year's Eve, I got a text from my mother inviting me to church the next day. How could I say no? Come on, can you say no to your mother when she asks you to go to church?

So I responded with a positive answer. It wasn't as if I had made plans for my Sunday morning. I had no reason to say no.

And then Sunday morning came. It was a new day, a new month and a new year. I showed up at church right on time. It's the church where I grew up. A church I've only visited a handful of times since I left it in high school. Mom and my sister have started going back there in the last few years.

I walked into the sanctuary and really didn't see too many people that I recognized. But that's how it goes in life. People change and the ones that I did recognize, I honestly couldn't remember. Sure, there were a few people I genuinely knew. But it was a little awkward. So I stood in the back, waiting for Mom or April to walk in. I definitely needed someone to sit with.

April got to me first. And she handed me a book. I was taken a little off guard by this sudden generosity. I mean, Christmas was the previous week and my birthday is three months away. New Year's gifts are not a family tradition that I'm used to. So here I was, holding this book that I had done nothing to deserve.

"Yeah, I had an extra one, so it's yours," she said. "We're going through one chapter a week for the next 31 weeks."

"Oh, cool," I said, kind of thinking it was a Sunday School thing. No... turns out it was a Big Church thing.

The book is The Story. From what I can tell, it's kind of an abridged NIV Bible. It's compiled in chronological order. And I'm not sure I'm a fan of it.

Honestly, my thoughts on this The Story is that it's a lot like the original book version of The Princess Bride. Written by William Goldman, it's written as if it's an abridged or "good parts version" of a novel by S. Morgenstern. I hate thinking that The Story is the "good parts version" of the Bible. But it kind of seems that way.

It has selected passages of actual scripture with italicized paragraphs bridging the gaps between the interesting parts. I've only read through the first chapter, which covers creation and the fall of man. Oh, and the flood. So yeah, I'm not sure I like it much.

I can understand how it would be a good idea for new Christians. 'Cause yeah, there are a lot of places in the Bible that are difficult to get through. But is this the kind of book that should be used week to week for the Sunday morning worship service? I'm not sure I think it's a good idea.

Maybe I'm just making excuses.

Also, isn't a 31 week study kind of a large commitment to ask one to take? I get a six week series. 31 weeks carries you all the way to the end of July.

Crap... I am just making excuses to not get involved.

I got a free copy of the book that the church is using for the next 31 weeks. And by having me there for the first part of the long series, I think my family is hoping that I'll show up week after week through the end of July. Seems kind of sneaky if you ask me.

I made no guarantees about committing to 31 weeks. Maybe I will. This week will be very telling. I haven't been to the same church two weeks in a row in a long time. It may say a lot about me if I go back for week two.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

It Finally Happened

I'm secretly an attention seeker. A "glory hound" if you will. I probably wouldn't necessarily describe myself that way, but some might. Those same people might not think my attention seeking tendencies are so secret. While I don't often point out the number of followers I have on this blog or the amount of comments my posts receive, I love seeing those numbers rise.

I'd love to get more comments. But I know that door swings both ways. There are a lot of times when I think that I should be commenting more on others' blogs, then maybe what goes around would come around. But I have such a hard time coming up with witty things to say in response to blog posts most of the time. Hard to believe, right? Me? At a loss for something witty to say? I can hardly believe it myself, but it happens.

As far as followers go, I've been sitting in the high forties for months. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated that number. I really do appreciate the fact that 48 of you had been following my random ramblings for as long as you have. But last night I noticed that I had crossed the threshold. I now have 50 followers.

This is the part where we cue a certain Miss Jessie Spano...

That's right. I'm excited about having 50 followers. But I'm kind of scared too. The more followers I have, the more popular I feel. But on the flip side of that, I run a serious risk of letting someone down. And then what if I lose a follower or two... or fifty. I've lost followers in the past. I assume that kind of thing happens when I write something particularly cynical or sarcastic and it's taken the wrong way. I never mean to offend, but I'm sure it happens from time to time. I tend to sometimes not think before I write.

But let's not focus on the scared part. Let's just zone in on being excited. Because I now have 50 followers! This is a number I've been hoping to reach for a long time. And do you know why? Because I've been planning to do a giveaway when I hit that magic number!

Now, before you all start hyperventilating, keep in mind that I'm not Oprah. When I do a giveaway it isn't a favorite things kind of day. I'm not gonna stand on the sofa and scream, "You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!!!" I'm sorry, that's just not gonna happen. My excitement is much more subdued. So is my wallet.

So what could you win? The winner of my Fifty Follower Giveaway will win three prizes. First, they will receive the greatest movie of all time on DVD. That movie, of course, is Back to the Future. Next, they will receive the smartest comedy that is currently not on television. That comedy, of course, is Community. Specifically, the first season. Finally, the winner will receive a Superman t-shirt, similar to the one worn by your friendly neighborhood Single Guy.

This giveaway is full of all kinds of awesomeness. You might have to shield your eyes. If you need to get your sunglasses, I'll understand.

Now, you may be asking yourself, "How can I win these awesome prizes?" I'm glad you asked. It's fairly simple, actually. First, you must be a follower of the blog. If you're not already one of the 50, just look over at the right side of the page and click the button that says "Join this site." Point, click, bam... you're follower number 51. Once you've done that, leave a comment on this post. It doesn't have to be anything awe-inspiring or tear-inducing. But it must make me laugh. That is key.

Okay, it doesn't really have to make me laugh. But if you leave a comment, your name will be entered into the drawing for the awesome giveaway. Would you like to have your name in the drawing multiple times? Of course you would. To increase your odds of winning, all you have to do is include a link to your own blog in your comment. You know, if you have your own blog. I'm not trying to be discriminatory or anything, I'm just trying to help my fellow bloggers with some advertisement of their own blogs.

Would you like a third entry? Well, for that to happen you just need to link back to this post in your own blog. I'm just trying to get crazy popular. What part of glory hound didn't you understand? With your help, we can get me my own sitcom on NBC. I figure they're pretty desperate, right? I mean, have you seen Whitney? I rest my case.

The winner will be announced next Wednesday, January 11. So you have up until Tuesday to get your name in the drawing.

And there you have it. You could potentially have three entries in this contest. A contest where you can win three prizes. Anyone else get chills? Couldn't have just been me. Okay, here's a reminder of what you could win...

You know you want it.

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Single Guy and the Milkshake

The End of Year/Beginning of Year Weekend was pretty low key for the Single Guy. It probably didn't help that he had been dealing with a pretty bad case of bronchitis. The coughing and hacking kept him from having a very merry Christmas. His medications caused him to enjoy the warmth of his bed well before the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. But New Year's Day brought him a healthier outlook.

He had started feeling better a couple days before 2012 officially began, but Saturday morning was the first time he had woken up with the ability to fully take a deep breath in weeks. The Single Guy figured that was a good sign. But he still wanted to take it easy.

But New Year's Day gave him a chance to hang out with Subway and his family. They broke bread at Panera and then decided to head over to Macado's for milkshakes. Honestly, the milkshakes weren't that great. Well, they were milkshakes, so they're a little hard to mess up, but the Single Guy had had better in the past.

Once the shakes had been ordered, Subway and the Mrs. both pointed out that the waitress was flirting with him. The Single Guy isn't great at picking up on these things. Sure, he realized there was some giggling at the things he said and there had been a significant amount of eye contact happening, but did that constitute as flirting? The Single Guy wasn't so sure.

And even if the waitress was actively flirting, would the Single Guy really be interested?

The evening progressed. Conversations carried on. Over time it was determined that the waitress was a student at Lynchburg College, making her roughly ten years younger than the Single Guy... red flag. Her cute giggling became full-on laughter, and her laugh turned out to be loud and obnoxious... red flag. Oh, and she might have been a little racist... red flag.

Needless the say, by the end of the night, the Single Guy felt no compulsion to ask for this girl's number. He walked away from Macado's feeling good about his decision to pursue absolutely nothing. The way he saw it, there had to be older waitresses out there who weren't racist and had much nicer laughs.

Sunday, January 01, 2012


The bus pulled into the station at exactly 7:03. The sun was long gone and the tiny town was lit by street lights and blinking traffic lights. Kathryn stepped off the Greyhound and closed up her jacket. She had forgotten how cold this place got on a January evening.

She walked over to the side of the bus and searched for her bag. Once she had it, she threw it over her shoulder and made her way through the small crowd inside the station. She knew she was supposed to wait here for her brother to pick her up, but she rarely did what she was supposed to do. She wasn't supposed to come back home while their father was still alive, yet here she was.

It had been a long trip and Kathryn needed a drink. Okay, she may not have needed a drink, but she certainly wanted one. She hoped The Root Cellar was still open on Main Street. She didn't think Harry would be too happy about seeing her come through the door, but he wouldn't turn down her money if she was willing to pay for some whiskey.

The walk from the bus station to the bar wasn't terribly far. The wind was cutting through Kathryn's jacket, making her wish the walk was shorter. She walked into The Root Cellar and was surprised at what she saw. She wasn't expecting any fanfare upon her arrival, but she certainly hadn't expected the place to be this dead on a Saturday night.

"This is new," she said to herself. When she was younger, using a fake ID to get into the bar, The Root Cellar was a pretty rowdy place on the weekends. She wondered what happened to this town. What could make the people shy away from the only place that didn't lock up at 8pm?

Kathryn dropped her duffel bag on the floor and unzipped her jacket as she took a stool at the end of the bar. She looked and made eye contact with Harry at the cash register, but she knew he hadn't recognized her. Her hair was a lot longer than it used to be. "He'll make a fuss when he gets closer," she said.

"What can I get you ma'am?" asked Harry as he slowly made his way toward Kathryn's seat. He stopped short. "Katey? Is that you?"

Kathryn couldn't help but smile. "Yeah, Harry. It's me."

"Get out of my bar," he said as he turned to walk away from her.

She stood up to follow him. "Come on, Harry! I'm a paying customer!"

"That's good, kid. 'Cause I figure you still owe me plenty for all the damage you caused last time you were in here. What was it? Six years ago?"

Kathryn sighed, "Harry, that was six years ago. Can't you let go of the past? Besides, didn't Daddy take care of all that?"

"You think I made that poor man pay for everything that you should have taken care of yourself?" Harry was getting angry. Kathryn should have known this was a bad idea. The things one does to drown some sorrows.

"I said I was sorry," she said. She meant it, too. Kathryn stared at the old barkeep for a moment before throwing her hands into the air. "Fine, I'll go."

She turned back to her things and got ready to leave. "You know you broke your old man's heart," Harry said as she slipped her jacket back on. She closed her eyes and sighed. He just had to get in one more dig.

"Yeah, I know I did. Why do you think I stayed away so long?" Kathryn grabbed her bag and slung it over her shoulder before walking out into the cold January night.

Out on the sidewalk, Kathryn lit a cigarette. One more bad habit she picked up in high school. She quit for a while during her six year absence, but coming back to this town made her want to revert to her old ways. She hated herself for lighting that cigarette. She hated herself for wanting a drink so badly. She hated herself for the person she was before she left this place, and for the person she became the moment she stepped off that bus.

Her cell phone rang. She pulled it out of her pocket and saw that it was her brother calling. "Hey, Tom," she said as she answered.

"Where are you?" he asked impatiently.

"I'm standing outside Harry's place."

"Tell me you're joking!" Tom said, "You know how that man feels about you."

"I know. Believe me, I wish I'd never come here." Kathryn dropped her cigarette and crushed it under her foot.

"Stay there, I'll come and pick you up."

Within a few minutes, Kathryn was sitting in her brother's truck. She stared out the window, purposely avoiding eye contact with Tom.

"When you said you wished you'd never come here, did you mean The Root Cellar or did you mean home in general?" Tom asked, sadness tainting his voice.

"I don't know," she said. She truly didn't know. At the time, she thought she just meant the bar. Now that she was faced with seeing her father for the first time in six years, a part of her wanted to be back in her apartment in Chicago.

"I know you're not the same girl that ran away from home," Tom said, trying to shake his sister from her melancholy. "You don't have to turn back into her just because you're back in town."

"I know that."

"Then why is it so hard for you to try?" Tom asked. "Dad has really missed you. Can't you at least attempt to start over with him? Wipe the slate clean. This can be a new beginning if you'll just let it."

Kathryn kept staring out the window. She watched familiar houses go by in a blur and laughed to herself at the predictable homes that were still decorated for Christmas. She finally looked over at her brother and quietly said, "I'll try."