Things, this and that…

Most of my posts have had a specific theme, maybe even all of them.  Well, today is not one of those days.  I just felt like spewing some various thoughts about my current life status with no clear direction; let’s give it a shot.

If you know me at all over the past, let’s say 5 years, you know that I’m a serial job changer.  It’s not on purpose or by design.  Trust me, looking for new work every 6 months (or less in many cases) is not exactly desirable for me or my ever-tolerant and amazingly supportive wife.  Similar to first impressions with people, I’m generally good at judging a new job within a short amount of time.  If I’m unhappy after a month, and I don’t mean just the expected difficulties of learning a new computer system or job specific duties, then chances are it’s not for me.  

I’m also not one to publicly bash my previous employers because I understand the importance of not burning bridges and at least attempting to maintain good relationships after I’m gone, so I will (almost) always go out of my way to end of good terms.  For example, I left my last job after 5 months and still maintain contact with my former supervisor and a handful of my former colleagues.  I do my best to be up front and honest when I have another opportunity that seems like a better fit and will always give at least a 2-week notice.  I don’t want to intentionally create extra work for my peers beyond the void I leave behind, that’s just not my style.  I’ve been on the other side of picking up the slack when people leave, so I know how much it can suck having to do double work until another person comes along.

I’ve been at my current job for a little over a month now, and it’s been great so far.  Did I really just type that?  I think the last time I enjoyed, or at least tolerated, a job was in 2011-12.  Some of the similarities that allow me to take some pleasure in work are definitely the people I work with and level of autonomy I’m given.  I am given tasks to complete with an idea of how to reach the conclusion, but it’s ultimately on my shoulders to figure it out, which I like.  It’s a small office, so my opinion actually carries some weight, and it’s close to home so I can go home for lunch and not have to fight a ton of traffic to/from work.

Moving on from work, we (Kylee and I) are still spending a good bit of time at the animal shelter or at various events for the shelter.  We’ve seen several dogs and cats come and go this year, which is good and bad.  Selfishly, I’m always sad when I see a dog I particularly bond with get adopted, but obviously that is the reason I spend as much time with CCA as I do.  It’s even better when we get an update a month or two later from the adoptive parents telling us how happy the animal has made them.  Whenever we get a new animal, it’s always heartbreaking.  One of our most recent arrivals was a dog who had been left in a crate for several weeks while his drugged up owner neglected him and barely fed or watered him.  You would think that a dog like this would be at least skeptical of humans, but he couldn’t have been more loving and affectionate.  I always say I like dogs better than people and this ability to forgive (and/or forget) and move on is remarkable to me.

A dog named Gage, now re-named Finn, is probably my most recent bittersweet adoption.  I’m terrible at remembering dog ages, but I think he’s around 5 years old, and he is a shepherd mix of some kind.  He was always a dog I looked forward to spending time with at the shelter.  Call me petty, but whenever I saw him and he would get up and wag his tail it put a smile on my face.  We’d go on our walk, he’d get his treat, and then I’d try to stop back by after everyone else had their walk and brush his fur.  Either before we started or right around the time we started, he had been adopted and returned (did I mention people suck?).  The couple that had adopted him was getting separated or something, so they decided he was expendable or something, who knows what was going through their minds.  Just last year, he had met with another family, we did the home visit and everything looked great.  Fast forward about 3 days when we were in Indiana visiting family and we get a call from the adopters and they said they wanted to return him.  Thankfully, Kylee was the one who got these types of calls because she was much more patient with these scumbags than I would have been.  We told them that it would take time for him to get re-acclimated to a home environment because it had been a long time since he heard a refrigerator close or the air conditioning kick on.  Of course, they told us at the time of the home visit that they understood.  They also said that he wasn’t aggressive enough for them and that he didn’t bark when someone knocked on the door…seriously, they said that.

So, Gage came back to the shelter.  On the one hand, I was thrilled to see him.  On the other hand, I felt so bad for him because he had done nothing wrong and was kicked to the curb after 3 days in a new, unfamiliar environment.  After seeing him returned twice, I was even more conscious (and skeptical) of people with an interest in him.  Just a few months back, we had another inquiry on him.  The girl came out to meet him, she fell in love.  She wanted him as a surprise for her boyfriend/fiance because he had always had dogs and she knew that he wanted another (they had none at the time).  A couple of days later, she brought her boyfriend (for consistency he’ll just be the boyfriend) out to meet him…and he had no idea where he was going at the time, mind you.  We brought Gage out to meet them and it was an immediate connection.  Cautiously, we were optimistic.  They filled out the application and we scheduled the home visit.  They have 2 cats, so we wanted to be careful around them since he (Gage) had never actually spent time with cats.  To our satisfaction, Gage was a champ around them.  They sniffed each other and went about their business.  We left him off of his leash and let him explore the house, and next thing we know he’s up on the couch (with the potential adopters’ approval) laying down.  Needless to say, everyone was thrilled with the home visit and Gage was officially home.  Kylee got a wonderful email just a few weeks back telling us that Finn was doing great and they invited us down to come see him, which we have not yet had an opportunity to do so yet but are definitely looking forward to!

These are the stories and results that make it so rewarding to dedicate my the animals at CCA.  The dogs and cats that get adopted and returned deserve better.  I could very easily rant about this, but I’ll leave that for another day and another post.  Seriously, I have to move on because I’m getting angry just thinking about that topic.

Well, I was at least able to stay on one topic at a time without drifting off, so I’m willing to call this experiment a success.  Hope everyone has a nice, long Memorial Day/Derek’s birthday weekend.  That reminds me, one more random thought…when I was a kid, I used to think that Memorial Day was somehow tied to my birthday because it sometimes falls on the same day, like this year.

Anywho, thanks for reading!

Forgot Your Password?

Yes, WordPress, I did forget my password.  Thank you for reminding me that it’s been nearly a year since I last posted.  In my defense, I just checked my last post and I didn’t commit to when my next post would come, so ha!

A lot has happened since April 2014, which was my last time on here, not much of which I wish to re-visit at this time.  Let’s just say that 2014 sucked and I’m hoping not to re-live that one for a while.

What actually prompted me to write today was thinking about work yesterday and a particularly annoying…umm…thing.  I hesitate to call it an incident because it really wasn’t, but I don’t know how to classify it.  Let’s just get to the meat and potatoes of this post and list out some of my top pet peeves.  If you know me or have read any of my previous posts, you know I like lists, so let’s just go with that for today…in no particular order, primarily because they’re interchangeable depending on the day and my mood.

10.  Baby Talk – let me be specific here…Adults who baby talk to other adults.  It makes my skin crawl even thinking about it.  It’s more than just the baby voice, but excessively using words like, “Sweetie”, “Honey”, or “Dear” in an annoyingly high-pitched voice…which was the cause of my frustration yesterday at work.  “Hey sweetie, it’s okay, honey!”  Ugh.

9.  Not Using Turn Signals – I get it, if nobody is on the road and you’re alone, don’t use ’em, whatever.  However, if I’m behind you and my driving experience is directly correlated to your actions, please show some courtesy and give me some advanced notice of your intention to turn.  If nothing else, it allows me to maintain speed and change lanes if possible to keep on my merry way.

8.  Chomping/Chewing With Your Mouth Open – These are obviously in the same family, because with one generally comes the other.  No, I don’t want to hear or see what you’re eating after it has entered your mouth, but thanks anyway.  I am confident saying I have Misophonia (“hatred of sound” triggered by specific sounds…chewing for me), so my rage is amplified beyond just the disgusting visual of seeing your food in between chews.

7.  Plan-Changers/Breaking Plans – Things happen, schedules change.  This isn’t what I detest.  What does irk me, however, is when plans change and you either don’t tell me until it’s too late for me to adjust, or simply don’t respond to communication and I’m left pissing in the wind (so to speak, nobody has ever literally left me doing this, that would be weird).  For example, I’ve tried for 3 weeks to play a tennis match with some guy (who I don’t know) that never tells me he can’t play on the agreed upon date until the day of, about an hour before we’re supposed to play.

6.  Crappy Customer Service – This one is slightly different from the rest, but stems from a recent episode with Duke Power customer service.  Long story short, they sucked and did not provide this customer any service…until I complained on Twitter and actually got some resolution.  I have worked in customer service forever, so I understand that it’s a thankless job often times, but at least pretend that you care about my electric bill doubling when I have no clue why at the time.

5.  Inconsiderate People – This could be the whole list, but I just thought about a specific event from yesterday.  I was standing in line to pay at the best gas station ever, Quik Trip, when a guy literally walks in front of me, stops and turns toward the counter.  Somewhat stunned (and wondering if I’d time-traveled back to high school when cutting was the norm), I said aloud, “Really?” to which he turns and says, “Oh, I didn’t see you there,” and then gets behind me.  Yes, I’m short, I understand, but I also had on a sockhat with a fuzzy ball on top, so I wasn’t exactly blending in with the candy.

4.  Public Restroom Abusers – I really wonder if people are this dirty in their own homes.  Is it really asking too much to pull a lever down two inches to flush your waste?  Am I unrealistic thinking that people should aim for the inside of the toilet and clean up your dribble if you miss?  I don’t believe so, but clearly I’m in the minority based on my experience in public restrooms (cleaning convention center toilets for 7 years will open your eyes the filth that is the public).  People are gross.

3.  Nail Biters/Clippers in Public – This one falls under a similar misophonia umbrella, because it’s the sound of the gnawing or clipping combined with the end result.  I don’t think fingernails are necessarily nasty or anything, but something about hearing them get clipped at work sets off an alarm or something.  Biters make me cringe moreso because, in my mind, you’re basically eating your fingernails, regardless if you spit them out or not, which is also gross.

2.  You Need to Go to Church – No, I don’t.  I don’t tell you that you need to NOT go to church, so don’t tell me I need to go.  I will respect your opinion and beliefs if you show me the same respect.  My distaste for religion is well-documented and certainly not a secret anymore, so don’t try to “fix” me…I’m not broken, no matter what your book of fables may or may not say.

1.  Same Side Sitters – If you are going out for a meal, just you and 1 other person, please don’t sit on the same side, it just doesn’t make sense.  How can you even talk like that?  It can’t be comfortable.  If it were natural to have your head facing left or right, sure, go ahead…but it’s not, so just stop it.

*Honorable Mention (because I forgot ’til now) – Horrible Parkers – There are lines painted for a reason, use them.  Of course we all probably have a less than stellar parking job from time to time (take 10 seconds to re-align, seriously), but it is never acceptable to be on or over the line and occupying multiple spots.  I am not above leaving a passive aggressive, or just aggressive, note on your windshield letting you know that you are, in fact, an a-hole for doing such.  You also deserve the note if you park in a handicapped spot without being handicapped…it’s just rude, people.

Sadly, it was too easy to compile this list…maybe that says something about me, but at least I’m willing to acknowledge what irks me, I suppose.  Maybe I’ll be back before I forget my password again.  Enjoy!

Better Late Than Never

So about that whole “once a month” thing…no more promises.

Since my last post, my first official PawPrints has gone live for Spring 2014, and it seems to be getting some generally positive feedback. I used a new template to attempt to give it some new life, and I was pretty happy with the outcome. You can check it out via the CCA website (www.ccaweb.org) and tell me what you think. We have adopted out another dog, Tipps, and have a couple of potential adoptions lined up over the next few weeks too, so we’re excited for the near future.

On a more personal note, my excitement for the upcoming (now halfway complete) tennis season hit a snag with an unexpected (kind of) surgery that I had to undergo. I had a pilonidal cyst removed from near my tailbone area, which put me out of commission for several weeks. Without getting to specific and gross, they had to basically cut open a hole about 2.5-3″ top to bottom and about 2″ wide to get everything out. The worst part is that in order for it to heal properly and limit the chances of it returning they had to leave it as an open wound. Gross, I know…as does my amazing wife, who gets to pack it every night…for about 8 weeks when it’s all said and done. We’re at the 5 week mark as of last Friday, so the finish line is in sight, sort of.

Aside from that, Vegas can’t come soon enough and work is work. Maybe one day work will be fun, but in the meantime, well…it’s a paycheck and access to excellent benefits which definitely came in handy for the previous paragraph.

I am old and exhausted at 9:30pm, so I believe I’m going to call it a night. Until next time, which I won’t commit to when that may be…

Quick Recap and Looking Ahead at 2014

Since my last post in September 2013, quite a bit has happened. I have a new job (again), football is over (regardless of what is on right now, football is over…), we fostered a dog, Kylee celebrated her 26th birthday, we spent a week in Indiana for Christmas, I’m more heavily involved in the CCA, both of my parents decided they wanted to have (successful) surgeries on our wedding anniversaries (dad’s surgery on ours, and mom’s on my brother’s) and the list goes on. Needless to say, it’s been a busy few months, both positively and negatively.

Moving forward, I’m looking forward to a lot of things in 2014. I’m the new editor of the CCA newsletter, PawPrints, so I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to deliver a new and refreshing take that everyone will hopefully enjoy. I think once I get my first edition out of the way that it will get much easier, considering I am starting from a blank template and making it my own. We had a very successful end to 2013, regarding adoptions and activities for the CCA. Several dogs and cats found new homes, just in time for the holidays and before it got too cold. Unfortunately, as animals got adopted out, we filled their space with new ones. I guess that’s to be expected, but it’ll never make it any easier.

One specific dog that came in around September 2013, Izzy, was always my favorite at the shelter. She is a Dachshund/Chihuahua mix, around 4-5 years old, who we suspect may have been abused in her previous environment. She hunkered down and cowered a little bit, especially if you got near her head or approached the wrong way. As soon as she arrived, I took it upon myself to befriend her and show her that not all humans are a-holes and that we can be trusted. It took several days and hours of just sitting in her kennel with her before she would come up to me and not freak out if I made a sudden movement.

Fast forward to January 2014, Kylee brought her home unexpectedly to see how she would do in a home environment and around our dog Maggie. As expected, Maggie was unsure of her, but not overly nervous as with other more hyper animals (looking at you, Buster). Izzy was a very calm dog once she had a few minutes to burn off some energy, which only took 10-15 minutes. We decided to let her stay the night and take things a day at a time. After a couple of days, we were again leaning towards keeping her instead of simply fostering her. And yet again, the day we decided to lean, we got a phone call from someone interested in her.

Long story short, the lady had lost her husband and dog the previous year, so she was in need of a companion. Who are we to deny someone else of a chance at regaining some happiness? Izzy has now been at her new home for about 2 weeks and we’ve heard reports that she is doing very well and both are very happy. While it definitely bummed us out, especially the next day or two, we know that we did the right thing by giving her the chance to adopt.

Aside from CCA activity, the new tennis season is getting ready to kick off, both professional and my local USTA league, so I’ll no longer have an excuse for gaining the weight I lost previously. We are also planning a trip to Las Vegas this summer for my 30th birthday. It’s been over 5 years since we were there, and I am ready to go! Plane and hotel are both booked, so now it’s the waiting game.

As the title states, this is merely a brief recap and glimpse into the new year. I have all intentions of writing once a month, but I probably said that before…in September…oops. Maybe someone can yell at me at the end of February and tell me to write something and that’ll keep me on track. See you in a month…maybe.

Patience is a….pain.

The wait is finally over.

It seems like all I’ve done for the last month and a half is wait patiently (sort of) for a couple of things. First, and clearly most important, the NFL season has begun. While the results of week 1 were certainly less than ideal, it’s great to welcome back Green Bay Packer football.

Surprisingly, I have not touched on my fandom much in the few posts that I have published, but it’s very important in my life, unhealthily important, some might say (and I can’t disagree in some cases). I could very easily dedicate my entire blog to the Packers, but I’m not going to, at least not for now.

To give you a very condensed background, my dad has been a huge Packer fan for as long as I can remember. Before I was even born (not long after my older brother, Darrell was born I think), my dad had the foresight to put his name on the season ticket waiting list for 4 tickets. Obviously this meant the wait would be longer, but it would also guarantee 4 tickets when our names were called…roughly 25 years later. Yes, he waited (notice the common theme?) for 25ish years before he was able to actually get our tickets.

Fortunately, we were able to purchase the tickets and have gone every year since 2002. We go to a preseason game (usually) and the 2nd and 5th home games. This year we went to the Seahawks preseason game, and our regular season matchups are Detroit and Philadelphia.

Major life events, at least in my case, have been planned around the NFL schedule. For example, my wife and I wanted a fall wedding (heart of the NFL season), so we waited until late April to schedule our October 10th (Happy Birthday, Brett Favre) wedding…that part really was coincidence, but nobody believes me.

Also, with the NFL comes Fantasy Football, which cannot be overlooked either. I was able to convince Kylee to join a league (Homewrecker Football League, consisting of 4 couples) with me and even do a live draft. The Dover Dachshunds (Kylee’s team) were narrowly beaten by the Pompeii Pastafarians (me) in week 1. In another league, the Fictional Pigskin Association, I was also victorious. Good start for Fantasy Football, not so much for the NFL.

In addition to football starting, yesterday marked my first official day as a Business Development Representative. I’m still with the same company, just in a new department. I’m also only 3 rows over and 2 seats back from where I used to sit, so there wasn’t a big, physical move, which was nice.

As with any new job, the doubt and uncertainty have crept into my head. Most of this stems from the fact that I was originally supposed to start on August 5th, but my boss at the time took her sweet time in letting me go. I guess I’ll consider that a compliment that she didn’t want me to go, but it gave me far too much time to think about things that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of…all bad things and negative scenarios.

One of the guys I will be working with moving forward, however, spoke with me today and helped ease some of the tension, so I’m hoping to carry that positive vibe moving forward. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still nervous that I’ll fall flat on my face, but I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Go Pack!

In reason I trust…

I don’t believe in god.

I’m not going to use this blog post to tell you that you are wrong for believing, if you do, but I want to simply state my case as to why I don’t. Inevitably, this will offend some, but I assure you that is not my intent. Also, the reasons I list below do not necessarily cover everything, but it gives you a glimpse into my thought process.

I feel fortunate that my parents never pushed me in either direction. I was not forced to go to church, nor was I held back from attending if I chose to do so. Honestly, it was something that was not really even discussed growing up. I have some very religious family members and friends, and that’s fine because it is their choice. They don’t push me to come to church, nor do they judge me for not attending (at least not to my face…). At the same time, I don’t tell others that they shouldn’t go to church or believe. That’s not my decision to make, so I don’t attempt to do so.

I think my distaste for the idea of church stems from that idea of people attempting to force-feed their personal beliefs on me. Again, believe what you want, that’s fine…as long as it doesn’t impede me or others to live their lives in a civil manner, just like you want to do. Nobody has the right to determine how someone functions on a daily basis, especially based on their own religious beliefs or values. To me, that’s not a debatable sentence. That is as black and white as it comes.

Burden of proof is an obstacle I have in relation to believing. It’s not up to me to prove that something doesn’t exist. You’ve probably (maybe) heard the unicorn analogy. If you believe in a magical unicorn, it’s up to you to show me evidence of its existence. It’s not my responsibility to prove that I can’t see something that I can’t see…it sounds even more ridiculous when I type it out. Often I will get the argument of not being able to see air, but I believe it is there. Okay, true, I can’t “see” air, but there is science behind the physical composition of what air is, which is the difference…science.

Rape, murder, famine, disease…if god were real and omnipotent as many claim, why do these exist? God’s plan? Hmm…good argument, but what else do you have? Is it to “test” our strength and resolve? Again, such a compelling argument, but I’m still not buying it. In my opinion, if god is all-knowing and powerful, these problems would not exist.

God also gets unlimited mulligans when it comes to, well, everything. I see “god is good” attached to positive messages/Facebook statuses all the time. I challenge you to find me the same response immediately upon tragedy or negative consequence. I’m willing to also bet if I say “thank god” to someone that is dealing with the loss of a loved one that I will get a dirty look. If god sees all and knows all, is it not god’s doing? Let’s just say it is part of the plan so god doesn’t look bad. I just don’t agree that god is infallible and immune to blame, given the supposed power. From the viewpoint of a believer, shouldn’t the same god that supposedly cured your cancer the same one that allowed you to get cancer in the first place?

I’m glad I withheld posting this until today, because as luck would have it, I was visited by a couple of very friendly Jehovah’s Witnesses. I answered the door, and they politely introduced themselves as JW’s as they asked if I was involved with any particular church (which I still feel is slightly rude, due to the personal nature of the matter, but whatever). I simply replied, “I’m a non-believer.” Now, living in the Bible Belt, this reply has spurred several responses. Some look like at me like I just grew a second head, some look at me with a rage in their eyes as if I just punched a baby, and others simply look confused. Every so often, I get a look of acceptance.

In this instance, it was surprisingly one of mostly confusion, with a dash of acceptance. Of course she asked why, to which I simply stated my doubts in evidence, proof, and scientific reasoning. Instead of the usual “no, that’s wrong” response that I often get, she accepted my response and moved onto her explanation of her beliefs, which was fine. They tried to sell me on the bible and the message it delivers, which I will admit does have some positivity and good ideas…if you ignore all the rape, slavery, murder, etc. They also attempted to convince me that living inside of a whale “could happen”…now who has two heads?

We discussed a few things back and forth for maybe 5 minutes in a very respectful manner on all sides, and we basically agreed to disagree and wished each other well for the future; nothing more, nothing less.

Nobody knows if god is real or fake. Nobody knows what happens when they die.

“What if you’re wrong, Derek?” If I’m wrong, then I hope that the way I have chosen to live my life is enough to gain access through those pearly gates, whether or not I have dedicated my life to worshipping something that I can’t prove exists.

As I told the JW’s earlier, I would rather enjoy the present as much as possible and worry less about an afterlife that may or may not exist.

I know religion is a touchy subject, and very personal, but I don’t believe atheism should be a stigma or something that anyone should feel they have to hide if a situation arises where it is a topic of conversation. Unfortunately, it is viewed as such to a lot of people and it will always be that way. Hopefully for those of you that know me and are just learning this about me for the first time
(where have you been, if so?), won’t change your perception of me, because I’m still the same person.

To be fair, most believers are atheists too, I just don’t believe in one more than you.

Top 10 – Comedy Edition

This list was actually more difficult for me than the horror list. With horror, I feel there are more limited types of scares and criteria to make for a good movie. Comedy can go a variety of directions for me. You’ve got your dirty jokes, political references, immature non-sense, spoof comedy, etc. I don’t know that I have a particular favorite brand of comedy, so it’s hard to gauge which tops the charts and which ultimately gets left off of the list.

Again, I’ll review my criteria and then rattle off a few honorable mentions before diving into the top 10.

Honestly, I’m just looking for something that makes me laugh out loud at least a few times, generally have at least a decent plot to follow with some relatable characters, and not try too hard to get a cheap laugh (similar to the unnecessary scare on my horror list). There are probably a bunch of “classics” that people will tell me I’m missing, but if I haven’t seen it in full or if the humor doesn’t translate to my standards, no dice. I’m sure I’ll probably skew slightly in the ‘cheap laugh’ category, but that’s okay, it’s my list.

Here are a few movies I enjoy, but didn’t quite make the cut: The Jerk, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Team America: World Police, Shaun of the Dead, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Vegas Vacation, The Benchwarmers, Spaceballs, Grandma’s Boy, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, and Anchorman*.

Before I flip-flop any more in my own head, here are the top 10.

10. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story – “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” What else is there to say? I really hope the sequel (if they do indeed follow through) is as good as the original.

9. I Love You, Man – Paul Rudd is one of my favorite actors, and I both love and hate how uncomfortable he makes me with his awkwardness in this movie. I had low expectations when I first saw this movie, but I was pleasantly surprised, which is probably why it made the list.

8. National Lampoon’s Vacation – This is actually one of those classics that fits the bill, in my opinion. It definitely brings back memories of my own vacations as a kid. Not necessarily driving a dead relative across the country on the roof of our station wagon, sorry, Wagon Queen Family Truckster, but having a station wagon and being in the car for several hours, bickering with my brother and getting lost from time to time. My mom still calls my dad “Clark” on occasion, so there’s that.

7. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious – I remember seeing this movie at the theater several weeks after release and laughing so hard that I had tears streaming down my face. It was, and is, so inappropriate, but I love it. Very nice! (said in your worst possible Borat voice)

6. Super Troopers – I am not typically big on movies highlighting drunken/drug-filled activities, but the hazing of Farva and pranks throughout mask that. Meow I don’t have to tell you that it’s also pretty dirty since it is a Broken Lizard movie, but I like a lot of their movies, even with the alcohol/drug references that I don’t relate to.

5. Office Space – Strangely enough, the first time I saw this was in my college Human Resources class. I’m not 100% sure that there was validation for showing it, but I guess it did give us a glance at corporate America, kind of. I feel like this is a very relatable movie. The opening scene is a mixture of personal traits, such as Samir’s road rage and Peter’s impatience and switching lanes. Every time I watch this movie I want to quit my job and pull a Superman III heist, but then I go to work the next day in my cube and struggle to make it to 5pm. Yeeeeahh…that’d be great…

4. Role Models – No surprise, another Paul Rudd movie cracks the top 5, and this is my favorite of his. His negative attitude and annoyance with things like “ASAP” and “Heard that” are definitely qualities that I can relate to and make me laugh. Sean William Scott has a couple of hilarious lines, one specifically comes to my mind when they are first introduced to Sturdy Wings…but I’m going to keep this post G-rated, so I suggest you watch the movie if you haven’t and I think you’ll know what I mean.

3. Happy Gilmore – Sadly, some of Adam Sandler’s movies have become annoying to me. Billy Madison was hilarious to me at one point, but I have trouble watching it now. Happy Gilmore has not lost its luster, however. It is less about him using goofy voices and more about subject matter and content. I’m convinced my favorite part of this movie is the heckler during the Celebrity Pro-Am.

2. Step Brothers – I went through an anti-Will Ferrell phase for several years. He made some movies that just tried too hard, and that put me off. Anchorman is probably the movie that made me change course, but this one in particular is amazing. Ferrell and John C. Reilly are great together, and this is an absolute highlight of that. Among my favorite scenes, I particularly like when they are going through their interview process for jobs, and their dinner table scenes. The outtakes are pretty hilarious also.

1. Dumb & Dumber – This has been my favorite comedy for many years, and it’s going to be hard to remove it from its throne. I’ve seen this one so many (too many) times that I can practically quote the entire movie from start to finish. One of my all-time favorite movie lines that still makes me laugh out loud…”Goodbye my looooo (smashes into back of car, airbag deploys)” I think TBS has shown this once or twice on TV, so you may be able to catch it sometime, however, some of the TV editing is horrendous.

As with my other list, and future lists, there will be some omissions that may leave you scratching your head, and some that I may have just forgotten. Either way, this is very much written in pencil, so to speak, as I could easily promote, demote, or shuffle this list around and still be satisfied. Commence nitpicking and analyzing.

*Actually forgot about Anchorman until I got to Step Brothers, but I couldn’t really see it knocking out 1-10, even though it brought me back to enjoying Will Ferrell comedy (for the most part).

May Visitors

It has been a little while since I’ve posted and it hasn’t been due to a lack of ideas, but a lack of time, in a good way.

Two weekends ago my brother and sister-in-law came down to visit, followed up the next weekend with a visit from my parents. I had not seen any combination of the four in roughly five months, so it was great visiting and catching up. We talk via text, phone, Xbox, Facebook, FaceTime, etc. pretty often, but it is still nice to see people in person.

Each visit was different and fun in its own way. With Darrell and Ally, we played a bunch of ping pong, some badminton/volleyball, went to a Greenville Drive minor league baseball game, and went to a baby shower for some mutual friends of ours that also live down here. For the record, Darrell did get the final ping pong victory, but I couldn’t let him leave with an L as his last impression, so hopefully he’ll come back and I can redeem myself. We also took them back to a restaurant called “Mutt’s”, which is a local BBQ buffet that we had previously taken them to that they enjoyed. I felt bad that we hadn’t planned more specific activities, but everyone seemed content to just spend some time hanging out at the house and playing games, so that is what we did.

The following weekend (Saturday 25th specifically) was my 29th birthday and Memorial Day weekend, which was when my parents came down. This was also the same weekend as our tennis team’s South Carolina state tournament in Aiken, SC. My dad is a huge BBQ fan, so we definitely tried to hit up as many BBQ hot spots as possible in the 3 ½ days that they were here, and I think he got a good sampling. For my actual birthday, it was pretty low key, which was good with me. My dad and I got up in the morning to play some tennis while Kylee and my mom went shopping. We had some BBQ for lunch and then went to a big flea market that my mom loves, because they have some ugly shoes that she had to find more of…sorry, mom…they’re ugly. That evening, we went out for a nice dinner and came home and relaxed since we had to be up at the crack of dawn to make it to my first match on Sunday.

I will keep the tennis talk to a minimum on this particular post because I’ll end up dedicating an entire story to it, but it’s relevant to the weekend.

Sunday morning I played one of my best matches I can ever remember. The weather was absolutely perfect; we had a good court with very minimal sun or shadows, no wind, no humidity, just perfect. I had a new birthday tennis outfit; I was ready to go…and so was my partner (played doubles). Long story short, we won in convincing fashion (6-2, 6-4 I believe) against a Billy Mays look-a-like and his partner, who couldn’t seem to find his rhythm either.

Our second match wasn’t until 2pm (first match started at 8am, ended around 9:15am), so we had some time to kill. We were two hours from home, so we had to find something to do, so we took a 30 minute stroll west to Augusta, GA. I had never been there, nor had my parents (I don’t think) or Kylee, so I figured it would be neat to see. Well, there wasn’t much there, and you can’t see The Masters course at all from the road (if you go slowly enough you can peek through branches, but barely). The location of the course was kind of strange to me, just off of a busy road, with your usual stores, restaurants, etc. We drove around a little bit trying to sneak a peek, but only saw the entrance gates, which I guess is still kind of neat. We grabbed some lunch, and decided to head back.

Our second match was not nearly as much fun, in fact, it sucked. I played terribly, we were stuck in a middle court in a long line of 4 courts with no separation, it was much warmer, no breeze or shade, just a bad setup for me. Excuses aside (although all valid!), I played horribly and the guys we played came out on fire. Before I knew it, we were down 0-5. We won a couple of games to avoid the bagel, but ended the match 2-6, 4-6 and out of the tournament.

On the bright side of losing, we didn’t need to make the trek back down to Aiken on Monday, so we could do whatever we wanted, so that was my silver lining.

Monday was the final day for my dad to get his BBQ fix, so we went to Bucky’s, our favorite spot. Beyond that, we hung out at the house and grilled out that evening.

Tuesday morning came, and it was back to the real world. Today is Friday, but it has been the longest week ever, I’m convinced. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that we don’t have guests to look forward to, or if it’s just the “short week = long week” phenomenon.

All in all, May was a very busy month, but for all the right reasons.

Top 10

I really enjoy a good “Top 10” list. For that matter, a “Top any number” list is fun to read.

In the past week or so, I have read a few of these on topics like horror movies, pranks in The Office, and best episodes of The Office also. It made me want to come up with a list of my own because I found myself debating some of the results. That’s the best thing about these types of lists though, because there is no right or wrong answer.

The horror movie list, for example, had a lot of classic titles, many of which I had not seen or heard of in some cases. When I think of top movies, I use current standards for good movies. A movie like The Shining may have been really scary and intense at the time, but I recently watched it (for the first time) and I had trouble staying awake. I would not, and will not, include this on a top anything list, except for maybe overrated movies (which you may see at some point). Again, my opinion, so feel free to tell me I’m an idiot and I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Without consulting with other lists or reviewing my DVD collection, I was able to come up with a solid selection, in my opinion. To make my list, the movies have to be strong in a few categories; does the movie grab my interest within the first few minutes? Are there legit moments that make me jump that are within context of the movie (basically not just a loud noise for the sake of a loud noise)? Is the ending good? Do I want to watch it again…as long as it’s not a dark room while alone? I feel that all of my movies included answer these questions positively.

Before I jump into 10-1, my honorable mentions were The Blair Witch Project, Dawn of the Dead (2004), and Halloween 2 (1981).

I was late to the Blair Witch party, so I didn’t fall victim to the “Is it real or fake?” phenomenon as much as initial movie-goers may have been. That’s not to say I didn’t question the authenticity, but I never saw it until it was on VHS, so I didn’t feel the impact as much. However, the final scene of the movie still horrifies me. As for Dawn of the Dead, I chose the 2004 version because I remember it better. It’s been a long time since I saw the 70s version, so it could have fallen victim to dating as The Shining did for me. The Halloween series is one of my favorites, with the glaring exception of Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, which I still don’t count as a Halloween movie because it was so terrible. It may not have been a bad movie, but when you put Halloween in the title, I expect Michael Myers.

With that said, here is 10-1.

10. Friday the 13th (2009) – Again, I’m choosing a remake because it’s flashier and much more attention-grabbing. I like seeing Jason Voorhees as a large, daunting presence, and not just a deformed guy that transports mysteriously to wherever an unsuspecting camper is hanging out.

9. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later – I’m sort of contradicting myself from #10, because Michael Myers basically transports mysteriously to wherever an unsuspecting person is hanging out (big difference, not a camper)…but his menacing, slow, creepy walk and that freaky music are undeniable. Also, I can’t listen to “Mr. Sandman” without thinking of the intro to this movie, which is great.

8. 28 Days Later – I would imagine waking up in a hospital, alone, might be one of the worst places to wake up alone. I like how this movie has that strange feeling of “maybe it could happen…” even though it couldn’t.

7. 1408 – The more I think about this movie, the more I like it and feel I ranked it too low. The ending still has me scratching my head, which is great, because it’s another reason to keep watching this movie. I really enjoy the psychological horror aspect of this one.

6. 28 Weeks Later – I know people are often down on sequels, but this one is just better, in my opinion. The intro to this one is one of my favorites, ever. Again, without spoiling, I can’t say I blame the guy for making the choice he did…don’t judge me.

5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – I like the remake really well, but this original is still amazing to me. I grew up believing this movie was a lot closer to the real story than it was which might be why I enjoyed it so much in the first place. Regardless, it’s still creepy and I hate chainsaws in haunted houses because of this movie.

4. The Descent – Claustrophobia is terrifying to me and I feel it throughout this movie. That combined with the monsters (?), total darkness, and a cool psychological twist, makes this a top 5 movie.

3. Paranormal Activity – I enjoy paranormal TV shows, movies, etc. I particularly like them when they seem “real”, which is what this movie felt like to me. The low-budget look of a guy and his camera was perfect for this movie. Never have I wanted a night to end in a movie more than this one. For the record, the sequels to this movie are going downhill; part 2 was good, but 3 and 4 are just cashing in on the name (and 5 soon).

2. Halloween (1978) – One of my favorite movies of any genre ever. I fought with putting this at #1, but it’s as good as 1a in my book. I touched on the music before, but there is nothing like it. Who would have thought a white-painted William Shatner face could be so terrifying?? However, I do like the Rob Zombie interpretation of the adult Michael Myers better, because he’s similar to Jason as far as stature and intimidation.

1. The Strangers – This could happen. There are no zombies, monsters, goblins, or ghouls, only creepy people with otherwise mundane Halloween masks in the country. This one doesn’t necessarily start off quickly, but there is enough tension in the beginning to keep my interest piqued. “Because you were home,” is an especially cringe-worthy line, that, again, ups the believability to something as messed up as this happening. Also, I don’t like sliding glass doors with curtains in front of them, because you already know what’s behind the curtain.

There you have it. Those are my top 10 horror movies. Enjoy, dissect, and discuss amongst yourselves.

Opportunity knocks

I have only really gotten serious about turning writing into a career within the last week or two, but I have already been presented with a great opportunity, with the help of Kylee and the Concerned Citizens for Animals (CCA).

If you have read my previous posts, you know the general idea behind this organization and how I am on the fence about volunteering.  If you haven’t, then go read them and come back, I’ll wait…

Welcome back!  Now that you’re up to speed, I want to give a brief rundown of what I’ll be doing for them.

Each quarter the CCA releases “Paw Prints”, http://www.ccaweb.org/pawprints, which is a newsletter containing adoption updates, upcoming events, featured adoptables, and various other current events regarding animals and this group. 

My contribution with this publication will be telling the adoption stories about the animals and their new homes.  Once the adoption process is complete and the pet is in his or her new home, I will tell a little bit of background about the animal, how or why the CCA had been housing the animal, and hopefully contact the adopting individual(s) to find out what drew them to the specific animal. 

Since my workload will be based upon number of adoptions, I really hope to be swamped with stories.  This will not only provide me the opportunity to become a published writer, but it promises to be rewarding by speaking with people helping animals, who are automatically great people in my book. 

As stated above, Kylee has been a significant catalyst for this opportunity.  If she had not started volunteering, then I would have never met the people willing to give me a shot at this, and I would probably still be contemplating how to move forward.  Fortunately for me, her desire to help animals is off the charts and I have a chance to get some legit experience under my belt. 

For the record, also referencing a previous post (“To Volunteer or Not To Volunteer”), I haven’t gone back to volunteer…yet.  I had the chance on Sunday morning, but I backed out.  I know, I know, I’m a horrible person.  However, Kylee did go and said that there were several people there, so I don’t feel as bad. 

Evidently, Thursday evenings usually have fewer available volunteers, so the guilt may surpass the impending feeling of sadness upon arrival in seeing the yet-to-be adopted animals.  Tomorrow is Thursday, so I guess we’ll find out soon.