Friday, February 29, 2008

I got tagged - 30 questions

I was tagged today by my friend Frigga at www.anyapples.blogspot.com. I am honored to receive the tag. Check her answers back at her link (above) and here are mine to the 30 questions....

If your doctor told you TODAY that you were pregnant, what would you say?

Inconceivable! (get it, conceive?) but if he said WE (Amy and I) were pregnant I would be jumping up and down and yelling "Awesome! Thank You God!"

Do you trust all of your friends? Erm, All of them, no.

Would you move to another state or country to be with the one you love?
Absolutely.

Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? Sure, esoterically or just as defined by being a reaction to another event?

Can you make a dollar in change right now? Yes, but it's because I am on the road and don't have the detergent jug to dump my change in. I have $2.04 in loose change.

Which one of your friends do you think would make the best doctor? April

What naughty word do you use too often? I don't judge words as naughty or not naughty.

Is there someone who pops into your mind at random times? Yes, and it varies.

What's your most favorite scar? On the back of my left shin, a nasty cut I received while cycling when I was about 14 years old. My foot slipped off of the pedal and it spun around and slammed into my leg and it had a jagged metal edge for grip.

When was the last time you flew in a plane? April of 2006, going to and back from Owasso, OK where I helped open a Chick-fil-a.

What features do you find most attractive in the preferred sex? Breasts, legs, hair, eyes.

Fill in the blank. I love __________. I love playing poker.

What is a goal you would like to accomplish in the near future? Get a better paying job that I enjoy.

If you were to wake up from being in a coma for an extended time who would you call? Amy.

Where was your favorite picture taken? In the Tennessee mountains, of a waterfall, I took in 1999.

What's your middle name? Joseph

Honestly, what's on your mind right now? How warm it is in this hotel room and how low my blood sugar may be dropping

If you could go back in time and change something, what would it be? How much I ate growing up.

Who was or will be the maid of honor/best man in your wedding? My older brother Peter was the best man at my wedding.

What are you wearing right now? Paisley boxers, a watch, my wedding ring, and a stud earring in my left ear.

Ever had a bar fight? Nope.

Who knows you the best? April

Did you buy something today? Yes, gas, two meals, an FM transmitter for small electronic audio devices, a three-way car lighter splitter, 4 books including 3 for my daughter, some cough drops, cough syrup, and some hand lotion.

Did you get in a fight with someone today? No, but I dealt with a number of idiot drivers on I-24 between Chattanooga and Nashville.

When was the last time you had a massage? January 15th, couples massage with Amy for our borthdays.

Last person to see you cry? The guys at my men's ministry meeting last Thursday. The final prayer (from our book) really was about me.

Who made you cry? God and me and the pastor sitting next to me (Craig)

What was the last TV show you watched? American Idol from Tuesday night.

Who was the last person you hung out with? Steven Russell, a college friend of Amy's and a cool blogger who was part of Amy and I being bloggers - www.russellsabode.com

Have you ever taken a peek at someone else's diary? Nope, but I wouldn't trust myself in a female friend's bedroom near the undies drawer (was that out loud?)

Friday Feast #40

Appetizer - Who was the last person you hugged?
I don't remember for sure, maybe Wednesday night, Jennifer, our friend/waitress at trivia.

Soup - Share a beauty or grooming trick or tip with us.
If you get a run in your pantyhose or stocking, clear nail polish will stop it, and if you lose the back to an earring, bite the eraser off a pencil and use it as the back.

Salad - What does the color yellow make you think of?
Our kitchen in Coatesville, PA in the 1970's, sunshine, lemons.

Main Course - If you were to make your living as a photographer, what subject would your pictures revolve around?
Concerts, sports, and nudes.

Dessert - What was the longest book you ever read?
Can't say what title, but it would have to have been one of the Tom Clancy books from the Jack Ryan series or Red Storm Rising.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Union University Today

There is a dirt field where Amy's dorm, Patton used to be. The pictures are mainly of the couple's dorms which are now singles too, for those who have no transportation to live off-campus.





Thursday Thirteen #37


Thirteen Things about Valtool
Thirteen Favorite War Movies (in no specific order)


1. Glory - Matthew Broderick was a supporting character as the Colonel of the first all black regiment commissioned by the United States Army. Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, and Andre Braugher stole the film though. I'm told the historical innacuracy level was high, especially in the charge on the Confederate forrt at the end.

2. Gettysburg - In my mind, the best film focussing on the American Civil War. Ted Turner funded this project which had Martin Sheen as General Robert E. Lee, and a great supporting cast including Sam Elliott, Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels and C. Thomas Howell.

3. Braveheart - A group of people determined to fight or die for the freedom to live their lives without the rule of a tyrant influencing their every breath.

4. Patton - If you like tanks.... George C. Scott in his defining role.

5. Saving Private Ryan - An examination of an intriguing question. How many lives should you risk in order to save one and in doing so assuage the grief of a mother. Another ensemble cast lead by Tom Hanks, and one of Steven Spielberg's best directoral works.

6. The Patriot - When I forst saw this, I considered it a sequel to Braveheart. Here's Mel Gibson leading rebels against England hundreds of years after the last time, but it grew on me. I especially liked his friend who later went on to play the angel Earl in TNT's Saving Grace.

7. Last of the Mohicans - one of my two favorite Daniel Day Lewis films. Beautifully filmed in the North Carolina mountains, with a wonderful score and a brilliant adaptation of the novel.

8. M*A*S*H - the anti-war war movie. Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould, Robert Duvall, Sally Kellerman, and Gary Burgough (the only cast member from the movie to appear in the TV series.

9. Kelly's Heroes - Another untypical story for a war movie. This was more of a heist movie during a war, with a comic element and yet another ensemble cast lead by Clint Eastwood, and featuring Donald Sutherland as a hippie tank commander (a hippie in WW II).

10. Red Dawn - It's not based on a real war, but if you liked action films in the 80's, this was a great one. Wolverines!

11. Cold Mountain - Here's a look at how a war affects those who are left behind while the men go off to fight. I don't care much for Jude Law, but I have to say Nicole Kidman is beautiful, and Renee Zellwegger was awesome as Ruby.

12. Rambo : First Blood Part 2 - Stallone was in his prime at a time when feel good about America kicking evil nation's asses was a primary theme for action films. John J. Rambo, you are NOT expendable.

13. Stripes - Okay, it's an army movie, no actual war, but it is hilarious. Men understand why Stripes is funny (or at least I read that once online). Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, John Candy, Jude Rheinhold, and Joh Laroquette.



Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!




Heading out of town

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ten on Tuesday #10

10 Movies I have never see but always intended to.

Ghandi
The English Patient
The Passion of the Christ
Shakespeare in Love (I have it on the DVR right now)
Citizen Kane
Matrix Revolutions (if that's the third, plus I've only seen half of the second)
X-Men 2 and 3
Ali
The Kingdom (on the Netflix waiting list)
A Beautiful Mind

Honorable mention to Schindler's List which I did see, about 3 years after the VHS release. I knew I would have to be in the right mindset to watch that one.

The Times They Are'NT a-changing

Yesterday at work I was covering the front checkout while my trainee was working the photo lab. In the mid-afternoon a young man came in, I would guess he was between 15 and 17 years old. I greeted him and he went back into the aisles. He returned a few minutes later to purchase one item. That item was a home pregnancy test. I think he was between 14 and 17.

I mentioned this to a coworker who shared a related story. Last week a 12-year-old girl was caught trying to shoplift a home pregnancy test. Her mother was called to the store and in addition to paying for the test, she made her daughter go to the restroom in our store and take the test right then and there. Needless to say, mom was upset, and no one knows the outcome of the test as mom was already upset at the prospect.


Wow.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Feast #39

Appetizer - Have you ever played a practical joke on anyone? If so, what did you do and who was your victim? I know that I have, but I can't think of any right now.

Soup - What do your salt and pepper shakers look like?
They look like salt and pepper shakers, honestly, simple glass, squared edges. The pepper shaker is from a set, but is all alone. It has a fat chef on it. The salt shaker is from the Margaritaville Cafe and says something about "Lost Shaker of Salt"

Salad - Where is the next place you plan to visit (on vacation or business)?
We're making a long weekend trip to Memphis and Tunica next week, and in April we're going on a Disney Cruise of the Eastern Caribbean.

Main Course - What kind of lotion or cream do you use to keep your hands from getting too dry? Gold Bond, because it also works well on my psoriasis

Dessert - Make up a dessert, tell us its ingredients, and give it a name.
Klondike Coffee Shake. Basically it's a coffee milkshake with a chocolate ice cream Klondike bar thrown into the blender to give it a mocha fe
el.

Caught up in the busy

Well, it's been a heck of a week I guess. It seems like it flew by and even though I managed to do a Thursday Thirteen and a Friday's Feast, I don't think I've done much else, so here's the update.

Sunday, went to church and it was good. I worked the closing shift at the bookstore and was heading over to play poker at Winston's but got stopped on the way out of the church by a lady whose car battery had died. She mentioned it was only her third visit to North Metro, so I shrigged off making it to poker early enough for the bonus chips and did the right thing and helped get her truck started.
I made it to Winston's and actually won the tournament. I earned a $25 gift certificate and my second entry into the Sunday winner's tournament, so I can give that slot to anyone I choose. I will likely give it to a friend, Randy, because of the manner in which I took him out of the tourney this week.
We made it to the concert Sunday night, which I posted pictures from.

Monday was a regular day at work, actually pretty enjoyable. We played trivia Monday night and did not place in the prizes, though we had a good time after the stress of finding seats. On Mondays we play at a pizza parlor and even being there an hour before the game began, we had trouble finding tabels to accomodate 6 people. We wound up with 9 and worked into two booths back-to-back. There's one team that beings 16-22 people every week, and that's kinda nuts.

Tuesday I was supposed to work an evening shift, but I called off because I was feeling miserable, a combination of flu-like stuff and high blood sugar.

Wednesday was my scheduled day off. Amy went to her Bible Study and I slept in. We went out to the movies, using passes we were given for Christmas and we saw 27 Dresses. It was cute for a formulaic chick flick and Amy wants to get a copy when it comes out on DVD. I will say Katherine Heigel is a beautiful woman, and I liked her better in this than in Knocked Up.
Wednesday night we had trivia again (at Winston's) where we were competing in the chamionship tournament. We qualified by coming in 1st or 2nd during the past 4 weeks and were up against 6 other teams for a special 1st place $200 and 2nd place $100 prize paid in CASH. We were tied for first the ENTIRE game. The team we were tied with got the final bonus correct (as we did) so we had to have a tie-breaker, closest to the pin answer wins on how many years did Bob Barker host the Price is Right. We said 36, the other team said 46. The correct answer was 35, so we won!

Thursday was a longer day than expected. I had a meeting with all the head photo specialists in my district at our district office, so 25 of us were there. It was pretty boring and they confirmed the disappointing news I had already heard, that my store will not be getting an inkjet cartridge refill machine in the next batch. Seven stores in the district are getting them of the 14 that don't already have one. Here's the stupid part. We want one. We take in inkjet cartridges to refill even though we don't have the machine because we want to demonstrate the need in our area. Of the 14 stores without machines, we have never been less than number one each week for taking in cartridges, yet we are not getting one. Whatever.
After work I went to the men's bible study at church and had a pretty good experience, for one, nobody blocked me in. Also, the pastor who leads it joined our table for discussion and he has a pretty good read on who I am and some of what I am dealing with spiritually. After the study I went out to get a sandwich with a friend who is in my community group and we had a very long heart-to-heart talk about a lot of things and he found we have a lot in common and are quite comfortable sharing with each other, and he needs someone like me to talk to and have listen to him.
Work today was hectic as we had no one working other than the manager on duty and me. We covered things pretty well despite being short 3 of 5 scheduled people. One position was not scheduled due to a lack of staff available, one was not there because the scheduled person quit last week, and the third did a no-call no-show, so it was Carlos and me all day. I igot Amy some dinner and a new hair dryer on the way home and we ate and now I'm likely gonna lay down for about an hour before going out to play cards tonight.

Be sure to visit the blog I have dedicated to the 1980's. There is a music video every day and this week I wrote my first article for added content. I need y'all to email me with requests and/or dedications for my Friday video theme. The blog is www.rockingthe80s.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Lunar Eclipse

Well, the actual eclipse is not represented well here. We had a lot of clouds in the area (metro-Atlanta) but I was able to capture a bit of the color as the eclipse approached. Special thanks to my bride for the tripod for Christmas and to my in-laws for the gift card with which I bought the new lens.














Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Flashback

Revisit the 80's!

Go to www.rockingthe80s.blogspot.com for daily video updates and articles that will remind you how things once were. Today it's a look back at Garfield the Cat.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Vaughan Rhea - Drinker's Hour



Vaughan Rhea is a friend of mine. He's a talented many in many ways. Sure, he's been the frontman of a band with a major-label contract. He's toured with Creed, and had a song on the soundtrack for the TV show Smallville. He's the father of two awesome boys and a beutiful girl. He has an awesome wife. He knows God. The song in this video is from his first independent CD Panes. It was while he was working as an unsigned artist in Orlando that we met, and I attended many of his shows, took pictures for him, and even traveled with the band for showcases in Atlanta and Nashville. It's unfortunate that radio did not pick up his singles, but this video is something new, and shows the style that I always thought was his best sound, before the contract and the overproduction. Drinker's Hour was written about his own father's struggle with alcohol and the effect it had on thier family. Listen to the song and you'll know he should be on the radio.

Passion Renewed

Last night Amy and I went to see Steven Curtis Chapman in concert. It was the 4th time we have seen him since we got married. I had never seen him in concert before March of 2002, but I had heard of him and had one or two of his CDs. I also got to see him at a manager's conference when I worked for Family Christian Stores.
We had a special surprise in that our friends David and Leslie from our small group were given tickets about an hour and a half before showtime. We called them to make sure they knew how to get to the church where the concert was being held and to find out if they had general admission or artist circle. It turned out they had artist circle, like us, so we saved them some room on our row.
Opening the show was local band Fee, featuring local praise leader Steve Fee from Northpoint Community Church. It was loud. It was fun, and it was a worship experience in a concert setting. In fact it was so loud we got to move up a row because the people there cleared out as a wall of speakers was about 10 feet from us.
Steven introduced the show, which started with his son's band doing a little worship set. Then Fee performed for about 35 minutes. Steven came back out and introduced a segment on adoption while they changed some of the stage and then he came back out with his full band, which included son Caleb on guitar and vocals and son Will Frankllin on drums.
This was probably the best Steven concert we have seen and when I titled this post Passion Renewed, it is because I renewed my passion for concert photography. It was my first chance to shoot a concert using my digital SLR camera, and I brought the new lens I got with some Christmas giftcards. Below you will see a slide show featuring about 130 of the photos I shot last night, so it will take a while to see them all, and Amy added a few captions. I had to work today, but here it is.



Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt - Free





We had no guidance on "Free" so I took kit to mean it's a week in which we are free to post whatever we want. I got my new 75-300mm Canon zoom lens and got to play with it while the cat and dog played today. Actually it was more the cat playing and the dog trying to mind her own business. Thanks go out to Lucy the Bassett Hound and Pixel the kitten.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Half Day Off


These pictures are brought to you courtesy of my dear Mother-in-law Barbara Pentz through the benefit of the Sears giftcard I received from her and F-i-L Tom. Today we went to use it and I bought myself a new lens for my camera and these were among the first pics I took with it. Our weather has been so weird that the buds don't know what to do with themselves. I think my mom told me these are Camillas.
I worked today from 8-10:30 to open the photo lab and put away the refrigerated delivery we get each Friday morning. After working I came home and we went to lunch and a movie. Lunch was Amy's choice for quick and near the theatre. We tried a chain called Chilitos. It was good, but is a very obvious Moe's Southwest knock-off. We each had burittos, mine was steak and hers was spicy chicken.
For the movie we went to see National Treasure : Book of Secrets and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Granted, some elements were predictable, but I liked how they accomplished a few tasks that I heard would be required, and the fact you can make an entertaining action/comedy based on United States history is somehting else I like about these movies. When can we see more of Diane Krueger by the way?

Friday Feast #38

Appetizer - Name one thing that is unique about you.
I am actually willing to admit that I was once a member of the Debbie Gibson International FanClub.

Soup - Fill in the blank: My favorite _________ is __________ but I like _________ too.
My favorite sport is BASEBALL but I like HOCKEY & FOOTBALL too.

Salad - What type of wood do you have for your home’s furnishings?
Brown

Main Course - Who do you talk to most often on the phone?
My wife and my mother.

Dessert - What level of responsibility do you have in your job?
The maximum allowed for a person with no authority. I am responsible for showing up, doing the basic work, doing inventory and ordering and maintaining paperwork.

If you are a fan of music from the 1980's, please visit my other blog, "Taking You Back" at http://www.rockingthe80s.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Yesterday's Story

I will get back to my autobiographical post soon, being in the right mindset is going to be needed. In the meantime, something weird in the way of weather.

Yesterday when I got home from work I went out back and played in the yard with Lucy and Pixel. It was a really beautiful afternoon and I was very comfortable. When I came inside I saw the weather was reporting a temperature here of about 68 degrees. Very nice.

We had rain coming lasst night and a cold front came with it. I was not outside much today, and currently it is 26 degrees out in Atlanta, with the wind chill factor, it feels like 9. Wow.

Tomorrow we are supposed to be back in the 50's. What's up with that? I need to do some weather pictures. I should find some old ones of the back yard and the trees so I can post before the drought and after the drought for you guys to compare.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What do _I_ know about theology?

I had a friend tell me the other day that he'd like to talk a little theology with me, just based on things I've said and things we've touched on in the few months we've known each other. He's about 20 years my senior, or so I estimate. He attended a college that is affiliated with a major protestant denomination. I imagine we have a few similar ideas about life and religion, but I have never studied the Bible or theology. I don't know how this conversation he is interested in will go, aside from agreeing with each other about prefering a traditional worship experience.

Here's the deal, this is going to be honest, and it will likely be long, but maybe by saying some things here some of you who know me personally and some of you who know me via the internet might come to a better understanding of some things about me.

I'm 37 years old. In December of 1988 I went on a youth retreat and got swept up in the excitement of the weekend and decided that I was going to accept that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that he is the one way to a relationship with God. It seems pretty simple, right? About 2 months after that retreat, things kind of settled down and life was more or less on track the way it was before my decision. That June (1989) I went on a week-long retreat with the same organization and again decided to commit my heart to Christ. With some guidance I started reading the Bible (got through a few books in the NewTestament) and I decided as I was now starting college to volunteer with this organization and be a counselor to other teens.

Life went on. I did not do well in that first year of college as I was distracted by my work with this group, my work with the student newspaper, and my lack of great interest in the courses I was taking. I should probably mention that during that Fall semester my mother moved to FL, taking my younger brother with her, and leaving me in the house with my father (whom she was divorcing) moving back in. He and I did not get along, and our relationship has had and still continues to have its ups and downs. I took the opportunity to leave that following Summer and I continued to work with the youth group and I enjoyed myself. I tried to find a church but felt I was lost in a larger traditional congregation. I later found and joined a new church that was meeting at an elementary school. I was pretty active there, helping with the youth and singing in the choir. I even took some training and was certified as a Lay Speaker, a non-clergyperson who is authorized to lead/speak in services.

I became active in college campus ministry when I graduated community college and started my major work at the University of Central Florida. By 1993 or 1994 I drifted away from working with the youth group and was pretty well involved with the ministry of my denomination on the college campus. We had weekly meetings and a few retreats and life went on.

I don't remember the year of the move, but we left the part of Orlando we were living in and we moved to a new neighborhood about a mile from the UCF campus. I had graduated from UCF in December 1994 with a degree in Liberal Studies. I had actually been on track to graduate that May, with a degree in Education and the plan to teach High School English. I had trouble with my second teaching internship and was actually released from the program for poor performance. With a more-or-less useless degree, I took a job with Blockbuster Video as a customer service rep. and I rapidly advanced into management, being transfered about every 3 months or so to help at different stores with different challenges.

A personal decision regarding time off granted and then revoked lead to my quiting BBV in order to spend Easter (1997) with family in Atlanta. I returned to Florida and found work with Planet Hollywood for about 5 months and left them when an opportunity working for my mom at USA Today presented itself. It was a good job, but it was long-term temporary because I was working in my mom's department. I eventually transfered to another department to ease any issues, but I found myself working for people who did not like my mother and whom she did not care for professionally. By December 1998 I was laid off from USA Today. The had a need to cut a position, and the continuing conflict between departments and how I was being used made me an easy choice.

I decided to go back to school and I managed to go back to Blockbuster as the District Manager had changed in the two years I was gone. I was working on about 11 classes I needed to earn a second Bachelor's degree, this time in Communications, Advertising/Public Relations. I enjoyed these courses, especially learning about photography and event planning. As I was back on campus and we had moved 30 miles from my small but growing church, I once again got plugged in with the campus ministry and started attending a church closer to our new home. In fact, I was going to the church that my last pastor (Bob) had once lead and currently had an associate minister (Jack) who was the husband of our new campus minister (Anna). Eventually Bob changed churches and became the pastor of an established church that was even closer to our new house, so I started attending there. Nothing dramatic happened for a while. I did attend a special retreat through the UCF ministry which had a pretty good impact on my understanding of GRACE. I became involved in helping run this retreat the two times a year it was held and I was feeling pretty good spiritually.

A couple of different things happened over the next few years that had some influence on where I was and how I got to where I am now.

In 1998 I started dating for the first time. Now, I was born in 1971, so that made me 27. This was a little late for most people, and it was not a choice I had made, it was more a matter of circumstances, but I met someone online, and we dated from May to September. The following March I went on a mission trip to the Tennessee mountains. As I had been on the same trip the previous year, I volunteered to be a leader and driver. We took a 16-passenger van and my Jeep and on the drive up I spent a lot of time talking to a girl I knew through the ministry. As a good listener and decent talker, we started dating. I thought it was potentially a long-term relationship, but she broke it off by May. As soon as that happened, the girl from 1998 (who I had minimal contact with) appeared on the scope again, but just as a casual date from time to time. I met a few other women during that Summer (1999) but nothing that became significant. I was enjoying the confidence I felt knowing I had options, as at one point I was going on dates with 3 or 4 different women at the same time.

I had graduated again in May of '99 and, while working for Blockbuster still, I started interning as a promotions assistant with a radio station and really enjoyed the work and the busy schedule I was keeping. I was still active in Bob's church and I was still working on those grace-centered retreats. About a year passed, no major changes in work or dating status. During the summer of 2000 I changed jobs, working now for a company a friend I knew through the Parrotheads of Central Florida worked for. I was able to travel a good deal, and I still was employed by Blockbuster on a part-time basis. As I completed a year of interning with the radio station, I parted ways as the promotions director was leaving and no new opportunity for a staff position was offered.

My major change came around August of 2000. I was chatting online with a girl I had met in May and had emailed a few times. We agreed to meet in person and had a nice date. I decided to pursue this one and we continued dating. She was a nurse, new to the area, and looking to meet people and learn about churches and shopping and such. In early November I spent a long weekend in Key West with my Parrothead friends and came home on Sunday to do laundry and pack for a business trip starting Monday. I had been planning to ask for Amy's hand in marraige around Christmas or our birthdays (which are both January 15). On the spur of the moment, I decided to ask her that Sunday before my trip. The next day she took me to the airport and gave me her answer as I was about to board the plane. It was yes.

So a few months pass, and in February I am laid off again, this time the small company I was working for was trying to make itself more attractive to a buyer so it was a last hired, first fired scenario. I found unsatisfying work with a gas station/convenience store company selling beer gas and cigarettes. By June I had a new job to start on July 1, training to be a manager for Family Christian Stores. I was really happy with this, even though I did not know a great deal of the product. I learned fast and found I enjoyed helping people make decisions on books, Bibles and music. I finished the training and went into a pool of managers waiting for assignment. On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was told I had been assigned to a store in the suburbs North of Atlanta. Our nation was under attack, I was due to get maried in 25 days, and we were going to be moving from Orlando to Atlanta.

So we get married, and we move, and we start church shopping. Isn't that a great term? Do you realie this? Churches today literally market themselves. I mean, they mostly all have outreach to the unchurched or to new people in the community, but in the modern day they have mailings advertising offerings, they have billboards, websites and even newspaper and railroad advertisements. We found a home at a church I learned about through people I served at work, and we became members which REQUIRED (yes that was in caps to emphasize it) that we be baptized by emersion. I had been critened as an infant and confirmed as an adolescent, but like I mentioned in a comment on another blog earlier today, there are RULES and REQUIREMENTS that churches make you comply with if you want to enjoy the benefits of their ministerial offerings.

The church we chose was the first fully-"contemporary" church I had ever atended. The services featured a rock-format band (multiple guitars both acoustic and electric, drums, keyboards, bass guitar) and with a "praise team" which usually is a group of 3-8 individuals who are cast according to their singing talents to perform in front of the congregation and lead them in singing the worship songs. Blue jeans and casual wear has replaced the choir robe. Khakis and polo shirts have replaced pastor's robes and even the suits and ties that were long the standard among the Southern Baptist churches.

I've struggled with a lot of things regarding the changes in the church over the past few years. At first it was a matter of the casual environment in Florida, but it has either migrated North or there has been a widespread change, and I am seeing it is more the latter.

I struggle a lot now with what to accept in life and in interacting with other people. The shift to politcally correct actions and words has seeped into the churches of America. Where in general life it is politically incorrect to criticize anyone or anything least they or it (as a body or organization) might be offended, the same has happened in churches. You can not say you do not like a style of worship because it might offend the person in the congregation who does like it. There are extreme opinions that make it seem that even if 98 of 100 people do not like a particular element of a worhsip "experience" the defense of the 2 who do like it will take precedent over the desires of the others or the opportunities forfeited to make those 2 happy.

Think of it this way. A guy owns a restaurant and on the menu he has a pork and peanut butter sandwich. There are only a fixed number of spaces on the menu for different items and he realizes the 2 people a week who order the PB&pork sandwich really could be keeping him from making more money if he could offer a PB&Banana sandwich (shout out to the Elvis fans) which more people would buy and more people would come to his restaurant to enjoy. If he chose to remove the PB&pork, there would be an outcry equivalent to saying, you can't stop offering this sandwich or the 2 people who eat it will starve. The masses ignore the fact that those 2 could be equally nourished with other menu offerings, or another restaurant might also make PB&pork, or perhaps they could make the sandwich at home. Any way, the guy should be able to cater to the most-profitible option. In the church this is not happening. Instead the response I get is that if the 2 people who say they get a great spiritual jolt are here, we need to cater to them, and if you don't like it, you can go find another place to worship. A counter argument could be made for the 2, but the same could be made in defense of my position. The shepherd who leaves his entire flock because one is lost could be seen as the church catering to the minority group, but though I am part of the large group as a whole, it would appear that I too am an individual at risk of being lost because I am not being shepherded while the keeper is out chasing after the other lost one. That got a little long and circular, but I hope you are still with me.

So here we are, and it's 2008. I'm 37 years old now, married for 6 years and two jobs further down the road since Family Christian. I was more or less run out of tha position. I quit on my own accord, but it was due to the fact I had a massive sword hanging over me by a pretty thin thread for quite a while that I was there. I found out after I left that there were several times they planned to replace me but could not due to other circumstances within the district. I had become a bit disenfranchised as a result of the push for money over ministry and the constant threats that if you don't get X% of the guests who walk through your door to make a purchase (and they counted the number of bodies passing through the door electronically), and if Y% of those making purchases can't be made to take and maintian a frequent shopper card, AND if you can't make Z% of those who made purchases and have a card purchase an additional item they did not come in looking for at the $5 sale price, THEN YOU WILL BE WRTTEN UP AND PROGRESSIVELY DISCIPLINED, and you'd better be able to make an employee earning $6 an hour care about making all three of those things happen or you should fire them or face being fired yourself!

So, I left Family Christian in October of 2004. I had lined up a job with .....

long phone conversation just ended (over an hour) and I'm not so much into completing this now, or maybe ever, we'll see

Not MY Son Updated

Some more details came to light in the current Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. The kid with the shotgun had the keys to the carjacked Pontiac G6 in his pocket AND was wanted in a neighboring county on a charge of armed robbery for breaking into a SYNAGOGUE and robbing a man at gunpoint who was in the building.

Oh yeah, and today in the online headline at www.ajc.com, they refer to the deceased as a "shooting victim."

How is the term "victim" applicable in the case of a suspected repeat felon who died while committing another felony?

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Grammy Awards

I am finally beginning to understand why my father has always been against watching awards shows like the Grammys, the Emmys, and the Oscars. For him it's been rooted in not caring about a bunch of egomaniacal celebs celebrating themselves in the largest fashion possible.

With the Academy Awards I get bored because I've never seen 95% of the movies that get nominated, and there's no way to predict how any particular category will go.

With the Emmys it's similar, but just too many categories not to care about, like "Best supporting actress in a made for TV movie that was on a pay channel I don't get and about subject matter no one cares about but was an excuse to find and cast the actor who played the kid who appeared in one episode of a sit-com thirty years ago and has not been seen or heard from since."

Then there are the Grammys. Oh the Grammys, at least with the music award shows you can hope to see some unique performances especially considering that people like Bon Jovi are touring now and charging 4 times what you paid to see them 19 years ago, and you know the show won't be nearly as good considering they are now all approaching 50 years old.

So we watched the show last night. With the writers' strike there was really nothing else on, and here are my awards based on the awards show.

Biggest ego who needs to realize the world does NOT revolve around him/her goes to...... Kanye West. You polarized yourself 2 and a half years ago with your "George Bush hates black people" nonsense during the Hurricane Katrina benefit show. Last night they gave him the stage to accept an award and he disrespected every other artist by blatantly passing his alloted time on the microphone saying, "You aren't really turning the music on on me." He then went into an extended tribute to his late mother, during which he called the shows' producers disrespectful for continuing to play music over him. At this point I would have turned off his microphone. The media made a big deal about his mother's death .

Best "Why is this guy on the show and what is he on moment" goes to Jason Bateman. I imagine no one else wanted the task of hosting the "My Grammy Moment" segment, but really? You couldn't find anyone else more relevant or interesting? Pepper needs new shorts! (reference to Bateman as he was funny in the movie Dodgeball)

Best Surprise Performance goes to Jimmy Jam reuniting with Morris Day and the Time to perform "Jungle Love" smashed up with Rhianna. The only thing missing was Kevin Smith up there dancing with them.

Best Wow Performance goes to Beyonce with Tina Turner. We know Beyonce can shake it, but at 68 years old, Tina still has it. She could be an exception to the older performer bias I eluded to with Bon Jovi. After seeing this performance my thought was that some osteo-related OTC product has GOT to sign her to an endorsement deal. Take our supplement and you too can move like Tina!

Best "Lord is this person annoying performance" goes to Amy Winehouse. The drama off the stage in her life has for some reason captivated the entertainment news world. She's a drugged-out tattooed mess who could be pretty and has a decent voice, but we'd rather focus on her jailed hooligan of a mate and her need to be in rehab despite the irony of her hit single saying she does not want to go. Her acceptance speech was as criptic as the old British guy cursing on the bus to France in the movie Eurotrip.

Best "That was cool" Performance goes to the Cirque du Soliel cast members from the show "Love" performing their segment on the Beatles "A Day in Life" followed by the gospel version of Let it Be taken from the movie featuring Beatles music this past year.

Best Swerve of the night goes to Herbie Hancock. An upset is when a favored individual is beaten by an underdog. A swerve is a term borrowed from the scripted world of professional wrestling. When a swerve occurs, an individual who is expected to win does not win, and he/she is NOT told that it is going to happen that way. The m0st famous swerve in wrestling is known as the Montreal Screw Job which took place at the Survivor Series in 1997 or '98 I think. Then champion Bret Hart was leaving the company to go work for a competitor and refused to give up the title, and they expected he would carry it with him to the rival operation and desecrate it. To prevent that from happening, management said "Fine, you can keep the title til you leave," but they set it up for Shawn Michaels to beat Hart by a very quick count by the referee and then get Michaels out of the arena and out of the country because Hart was Canadian and was loved by his fans.
So last night the Grammy board NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) may have orchestrated a swerve by giving the album of the year award not to Amy "The Heroin Addict" Winehouse or to Kanye "The World revolves around me" West, or even to Vince "Why was I even nominated in this category" Gill. They gave it to Herbie Hancock, the jazz legend who gave us "Rock-it" back in the 1980's. I would LOVE to hear that West was going to receive that award, but that the producers changed the name after his podium antics involving his mother.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Some Positives

Spent some time today with Amy at her friend Elizabeth's. Elizabeth and her husband John added a new member to their family last week, a little guy named Ethan John. We got to see him on his fifth day in this world. We both got to hold him, probably the littlest baby I've been able to hold as he was born at 6 lbs, 8 ounces. He slept most of the time we were there, but late in our visit he opened up his deep blue eyes. Very cool.

On the way there (which was after church) we drove by the emissions testing place and had my Jeep tested one more time, and it PASSED!

Not MY brother, not MY son...

Saturday morning at 12:15am, a trainee with the Atlanta Police Department sat in his personal vehicle, in the parking lot of his gated apartment complex, working on his laptop computer (the clubhouse has wi-fi). He hears a knock on his window and turns to see a 14 year old black male holding a shotgun. The cadet does not know specifically what the kid wants, but assumes it's the computer, maybe the car too.
The cadet opens the door and manages to reach for his pistol, concealing it under the computer. He fires three times, striking and killing the teen. A possible accomplice is seen fleeing and is not pursued.
Though an investigation is ongoing with the Jonesboro, GA police, the expectation is that the cadet will not faces charges as the shooting was in self-defense.

Found next to the dead youth was a set of car keys. These keys matched a vehicle found parked outside the apartment complex, which had been stolen earlier in the week.

Despite these facts, the adult brother of the dead suspect says there is no way his brother was involved in this and was murdered by the cadet. The fact the kid had a shotgun and the keys to a stolen car don't have any weight in his argument, yet this is always the case whrn something like this happens.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Pissed at the World

It's been a rough 24 hours or so, and I am not feeling great about a lot in life. You see, I try to do good things, and I try to play fair, yet all I see is those that are not deserving being rewarded and then I see myself struggling against adversity after adversity, unfairly heaped upon me.

I try to enjoy life, but even the things that are right to do bring distress.

Last night I attended the Men's Bible Study at church. My timing was off because I worked later than expected and so I could not prepare dinner for Amy and myself before I had to go. She told me she was okay waiting and to go ahead to the church. The study was enjoyable, about 45 minutes of lead presentation followed by 45 minutes of group discussion at our tables of 6-8.

The title of the study is Transformation. The focus last night was whether we have experienced authentic transformation or pseudo-transformation. The example used to illustrate the difference was the story of the Prodigal Son. In short there are two brothers, the younger asks for his share of his inheritance. Dad gives it to him and he goes off and wastes it. A famine strikes the land and the now broke son gets a job feeding pigs and is so hungry he's eat the pigs food. Realizing Dad and bro are doing well back home, he decides to head home and ask for a job there, because he'd have food though no status other than field worker. To his surprise when he gets home he apologies to dad and instead of getting a job, Dad accepts him in as his son, clothes him and holds a feast/party. Well, older brother finds out and goes nuts because dad is celebrating the return of the wasteful one and has never given him anything special for being good and obedient.

The study guide basically says the younger, wasteful son experienced authentic transformation, and the older son exhibits characteristics of pseudo-transformation including being critical of others and feeling unfairly treated. I can't argue that I identify with the older son, and by the book's definition, I am or have experienced pseudo-transformation.

So, Bible study ends and I get ready to leave, still planning to go home and cook dinner, and I had time to swing by the Christian Bookstore before it closed. I got to my car to find a different vehicle parked next to me than when I arrived, and this one was angled in such a way the rear tire was across the line in my space and I could not get my door open enough to get in on the drivers side. The position of the center console and my fat ass prevented me from climbing over from the passenger side, so I was stuck. I waited about 10 minutes as the ladies study was ending and no one came to the other car. I noticed a parking sticker for the local university in the window and realized it must be a student at the college-aged ministry meeting. I went back inside to their room, where they were playing music and singing (some call this worship) with all the room light off and stage lights on the stage where musicians played.

I noticed one of the associate pastors at the back of the room wearing the standard ear-mounted microphone, so I went to talk to him. I explained my problem. He said there was nothing he could do and I would just have to wait, it should only be about 7 more minutes. My intent was not for them to stop playing altogether, but perhaps slip up and make an announcement between songs, it would take all of 10 seconds. Instead I went back to wait for another 20-25 minutes. When the young lady driving the car that blocked me arrived, I pointed out the situation, and she apologized, but it did not sound very sincere. She was a tiny thing, and had an equally small friend with her who had to struggle to get into the car on the passenger side because of her friend's parking job. I wondered what the pastor's response would have been if the girl's car was on fire or otherwise damaged? What would it take to "interrupt" the "worship experience?"

So I was in a foul mood and came home and cooked dinner for Amy, but being 3 and a half hours than the originally planned dinner time, I was no longer hungry (I did not eat anything in the interim), and Amy got stressed over my mood.

So come to today and my dealing with the county and the state auto tag offices. I live in one of 11 counties in Georgia where an emissions test is required to get your tag renewed. I had my test done about 3 weeks ago, and it passed, but the tech who performed the test mis-keyed the VIN # on the test. The tag office would not accept the test for that reason and gave me two options, go back to that facility and get it redone, or go anywhere else and get it redone. They would not recognize and correct for the human error. Well, the test was performed at our family mechanics' which is 45 miles from where we now live. It would take 2 hours time, and $18 worth of gas to go there and back versus $25 to retest here on our side of town. I opt for the local test and it fails.

The tech suggests trying it again when the engine is not warmed up as much, so I went back today without driving anywhere beforehand. The part of the test I failed requires a reading under 1060. Our mechanic got a 970, last Friday I got a 1460 and today it read 1268, so it was better. I went to the tag office and tried pleading my case demonstrating I have a passing test (from January), but now they are stuck on the fact it failed on Feb. 1, and I need a new passing test dated after 2/1/08. Our next thing is to try this Sunday. We'll drop my car off at the testing facility on the way to church, and on the way home, a few hours later, we'll retest and see if it passes being unused for that time. Otherwise it will mean garage diagnostics and repairs in order to get my tag decal. BTW my tax has already been paid, they are just withholding the decal.

In the great scheme of things, there are greater problems people have, but these are the things that have me relatively mad at the world.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tennesee Storms




My wife went to college at Union University in Jackson, TN. It's a small college, just a few thousand students, so they are all like family. Last night the campus was devastated by a series of tornadoes that destroyed several of the dormitories. Over 50 students were injured, but thankfully there were no fatalities. The campus is in ruin, and the students are having trouble getting back to try to recover any of their belongings including their cars.

One report I read said of 1100-1200 cars on campus, only 100 are free from damage.

There is a car in Amy's old dorm room, which was on the second floor of her building.

There are some severely injured students, but none are considered life-threatening.

Many alumni are trying to find out what they can do to help, when clean-up will begin and if volunteers will be welcome. A financial relief fund has been established and can be reached by going to www.uu.edu.

I visited the campus in the Summer of 2003, and in parts of town there were still areas in ruin from tornadoes a few years prior to that visit.

Wordless Wednesday #40 (manliness)





Super Tuesday

Funniest thing about Super Tuesday? Last week was the primary in Florida (January 29). There were people calling the voter offices and even showing up at polling places yesterday wanting to vote in Super Tuesday. Idiots.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

American Idol in MY town - Atlanta

We're in Atlanta for the 4th time in 7 years and Ryan's parents are here. Ryan got his start on Top 40 pop station STAR 94 here in Atlanta.

Back story on Josh Jones who works with glass. Wow. Amy says he's cute. "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen is his song choice. Simon stops him, and all three tell him to chill with his eyes because they are freaking them out. We can't tell what he's doing so wrong. The judges like his voice though. They make him sing facing away from them, and Simon says we should have done this to Clay Aiken years ago. Simon calls it karaoke, Paula says yes, Randy says yes, so he's in, and Simon is concerned he'll have to perform in Hollywood with his back turned all the time.

Next segment is on a guy who auditioned in season 4 and was 2 people ahead of Carrie Underwood. I have to mention that geography does not determine talent. Rascal Flatts "Me and my Gang" - This guy cannot sing, so we are wasting time. It has no tone quality and no pitch. Good Lord he says he's a music major in vocal performance.

We presume JT is gone and we get a segment on Paula not being able to make a decision (with a song from "Oklahoma" "Girl who can't say no."

Asia Apperton, geez, does everyone have to have a back story?!?!? She's from a small town, she does not have a lot of money and has to work for everything she has. Plus, it appears as she was driving here to audition, her father was killed in a car accident. She has changed her song choice due to her father's death. Her new song is "How Do I Live?" Amy suggested, what if we find out that her father is not actually dead? LOL. I have to remind her this is not Survivor. :)

Segment on girls and why they are Georgia Peachs.

Miss South Florida Fair is here. She's a student at U of F. Amy compares her to Jessica Simpson on being a barbie doll who putts God then parents, then her singing. Brooke Helvie is her name, and she's belting some form of jazz standard it sounds like. Simon says it wasn't bad. They all agree she can sing and Randy says she has a good pop voice. As she leaves Simon says she's possibly the most-annoying person he's ever met, so she would out-annoy Makahla Gordon.

Another useless waste of audition time to show us people trying to sing Fergie's "Glamorous"

I am bored.

A segment now on Southern Hospitality being exchanged for Attitude. And we meet Eva Miller. I can't keep but be drawn to the birthmark looking thing on her right boob. She will sing Vanessa Carlton, "1000 miles." She just fell on her ass and Simon says "it's an act" and he would like this to stop. He says this is a joke. Her response, "This is not no joke." Nothing like grammar. Now Simon has her crying because she was serious about her audition. As with everyone else, people have told her she has a good voice. People lie.

Alex Andrea Lushington. Another damned boring back story because she brought about 20 people with her including her 90-something great-grandmother. She's through, despite wearing a Boy Scouts of America shirt.

Focus on geeky looking guys (like Clay Aiken) but who can't sing. Transition to people who get upset with their experience and we focus on a guy who is REPEATING the 9th grade and brags he's ready to respond to Simon. He's 16 and from Savannah, GA. He says the song is part of "Paralyzer" by Finger 11. Simon says he calls this a "Bedroom audition" and he starts smarting off to Simon and Simon calls him on it. He equates it to singing along to the CD in your bedroom. Now he's going through Simon's cliched commentary.

So we move on to another story about a multi-hair-colored motorcycle-riding nurse. She overdoes the wardrobe and makeup. It's another Janis Joplin audition, and honestly, if Janis Joplin were alive and 22 years old, and came in to audition, they would not put her through. Why do people keep picking this artist? Randy loves her. Paula agrees and Simon makes it three.

They tell us in the final hour they gave out a lot of passes to Hollywood, but geez, I may give up on watching the audition shows because they are no longer showing auditions, where my might have seen 20 auditions in an hour a few seasons back, now we are lucky to get 8 to 10.

Crybaby story about a teenager who left home and has been living in his car for 10 months to a year. I guess he does not know how long it has been. He says he can win because of his motivation and ambition. He will sing a song he wrote called "To run." They pick up on his singing with a British accent though he's from Tennessee. I think they like it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Pilate's Dream


Today I had this song on my mind. Above you'll find the video clip, and below the lyrics...
I dreamed I met a Galilean;
A most amazing man.
He had that look you very rarely find:
The haunting, hunted kind.
I asked him to say what had happened,
How it all began.
I asked again, he never said a word.
As if he hadn't heard.
And next, the room was full of wild and angry men.
They seemed to hate this man.
They fell on him, and then
Disappeared again.
Then I saw thousands of millions
Crying for this man.
And then I heard them mentioning my name,
And leaving me the blame.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Bloggy Giveaway - Sticky Post

Welcome contestants. Please sign in here, and pretty please, read some posts and make some comments, and don't forget there's another prize at my other blog, especially if you loved the 80's. Click here to see the other participants.

I love comments!

Randomness Part 3

It's 10:39 PM on Saturday. Sonce I got home around 5:10, I have barely moved from my spot in front of the laptop, at the coffee table, in front of the TV.

I have blogged, checked email, watched TV/movies, and here I am, now really wanting to go upstairs, get warm under some blankets, and go to bed.

IN the meantime...

I got a package in the mail today! My first ever blog prize! I won a CD case and a guitar pick from my blog-friend Frigga at www.anyapples.blogspot.com.

The weird thing is here I am winning a guitar pick and having it arrive the day after I was missing my guitar. BTW Frigga thank you for the pick, it will join it's frirnds in my desk drawer for now. Ever see the Fender Confetti picks? I have a few of those still, anda one from Meatloaf, and I used to have one from one of the guys in the Hooters. I was partial to medium strength picks back when I played.

Tomorrow is the Superbowl. I was more excited a week or two ago, but well, it's tomorrow. I expect and kinda hope New England will win, and as usual, hope for the commercials to be big.

Sometime tomorrow I will post the name of my second Bloggy prize winner. I did one on my 80's music blog. Since I had 55 or so contestants, I opted for number 37, because I turned 37 a few weeks ago.

I have come up with some formatting for that blog now that we've run the alphabet. Each day will have a theme, and it can be interactive, with Valtool's version of Casey Kasem's Long Distance Dedications. Those happen on Fridays, so send me an email and make your request!

Saturday Photo Huunt # ?

Okay, so the theme today is narrow, and I had this pic (taken today) that I really wanted to post, and I figure it qualifies because there's a narrow chance you'll find a cat and dog that will peacefully coexist like this.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday Feast #37

Appetizer - What is your favorite kind of cereal?
For nutrition - Raisin Bran Crunch. For fun - Captain Crunch

Soup - When was the last time you purchased something for your home, what was it, and in which room did it go?
We bought two new baby gates in an effort to keep Lucy the Bassett Hound from knocking down the old ones to escape her rooms.

Salad - What is the funniest commercial you’ve ever seen?
I don't know that I have an all-time favorite, but I currently like the commercial for Subway where the boss asks a guy for a receipt for his expense report and he asks if he can just photocopy his fat butt.

Main Course - Make up a name for a company by using a spice and an animal (example: Cinnamon Monkey).
Victoria Beckham Weasels (but I think that one already exists, and get it, she's a Spice Girl)

Dessert - Fill in the blank: I haven’t ______ since ______.
I haven't ridden a horse since I was thrown and broke my L2 vertebrae along the beach south of Cancun, Mexico (1997).