Friday, February 24, 2006


Ok I admit it, curling is kind of a trendy thing to care about right now. Approximately every four years i'll get into it for about 20 minutes a week. Right now the gold medal match is on and I find myself rooting for the poor Fins just to salvage some pride.

This will keep you entertained until the 2010 Olympics


So, for the past couple weeks i've been in perpetual cell phone struggle. My old phone, purchased last summer was not functioning. The ear piece went out. So for about 2 weeks I was "speakerphone guy". It was awful. So finally I call Cingular and they send me a new phone. Thing is, THAT phone was busted too. So currently the count stands at TWO piece of trash phones. These jokers send you a "new" phone, only the "new" phone is actually a "refurbished certified" phone. In other words, someone else's former piece of trash phone that they've dressed up enough to send back to you.

This was simply unacceptable. I hate cell phone companies. I really do. I think Satan is incarnated as the president of Cingular. They lock you in for 2 years, and if you're unsatisfied with the service, too bad because you signed the contract. But then they treat you however they want because hey, you're gonna have to pay either way.

So I called customer service for the second week in a row. The ironic part is with the replacement phone, there was a slip of paper that said: "if you experience problems with your replacement phone call this number...." They actually anticipate you having problems with your "new" phone. Ugh.

I was nice the first time I called. Ya know, all I want is a phone that works. So once the phone to replace the piece of trash was infact an additional piece of trash that was it. I was gonna let somebody know my dis-satisfaction. I was going to be angry. I was going to fight back at the giant corporate dragon. Until the person I started talking to was actually a nice human being. Dangit.

So I explained my dilemma and made my plea simply for a phone that worked. I wanted to yell and cuss but that would have been innappropriate, kind of. The girl said that she would send me a third phone, and I explained how I didn't want a third piece of junk phone. It's not my fault these things are malfunctioning. Well, policy is that they won't give you a different make and model until the THIRD malfunctioning phone. THREE!!!! So that sent me off into a tangent of how our system of capitolism can be oppresive to consumers like me in the current situation I find myself.

Upon concluding my congenial conversation with this person on the other line, I explained how I had intended to "make somebody cry" and that I wanted to now yell at her boss, not her. After being on hold for a couple of minutes she comes back on and says her supervisor didn't want to talk to an angry customer and offered me an upgraded phone. Sweet!

So through sheer intimidation and perseverence (sp?) I got one for the good guys, the common man, the frustrated and overlooked cell phone customer.

Suddenly stiff corporate policy was maleable once I didn't let them walk all over me. Ugh. Well, i'll have a new phone soon. Call me!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

$5.50 Bin Pt. 6

Ok, here's the last of it. I got so excited I finished it today. Call me a dork if you want, but i'm actually getting college credit for this...

Having seen the superhuman consequences the $5.50 bin can evoke, it is appropriate to discuss proper $5.50 etiquette and some precautions one should be made aware of. When there are several shoppers simultaneously plowing through the $5.50 bin it should be duly noted the rule of “You grab it, you gettin’ it”. . Due to the wild even arbitrary nature of the $5.50 bin there could only be one copy in the entire kingdom. In the chaos of DVD hunting occasionally (and unfortunately) two shoppers may grab for the same prey, in which case whoever can snatch up the desired movie first claims the initial buying rights. Thus, “You grab it, you gettin’ it.”

While perusing the $5.50 bin it is important to keep others in mind. Suppose you see a movie that you yourself don’t particularly care for, but a friend/roommate/sibling of yours is quite outspoken of their desire for this certain movie. What could be worse than next time you see them explaining how you held their beloved film in your hands, and yet having $5.50 in your possession still let it go?

If while thumbing through the masses of DVD’s you discover a sequel to a movie already in your possession, it is your duty to purchase the movie even if you don’t have an exceeding desire to view it at that particular time. You owe it to $5.50 shoppers everywhere to proudly display your new complete set in your DVD library to help spread the good news of the $5.50 bin to the naysayers and movie-snobs.

Perhaps the most important $5.50 rule is the respect of fellow $5.50 shoppers. Be mindful of where you discard unwanted DVD’s in the bin. A method of stacking is preferable and tossing them carelessly into the path of another $5.50 shopper is abominable. Committing this heinous act could prove costly if one happens to impose upon the aforementioned determined/fanatical shopper.

While etiquette is highly appreciated one must also be on guard to the pitfalls of the $5.50 bin, both economic and social. As it is with drinking, gambling, CSI marathons, and all you can eat-buffets; one needs to be aware of one’s limits. Be cognizant of ‘impulse buys’ for these cheapen the true joy of a $5.50 purchase. Don’t simply amass a giant DVD collection to puff up your pride for that is a gross perversion of a rare gift in retail. If while shopping at the $5.50 bin you are teetering on a purchase simply place the DVD in question at the bottom of the bin, or hide it behind a row of more expensive (but not very popular) DVD’s where it can be safely purchased upon a later and better informed decision. In fighting off the temptation of unwarranted $5.50 purchases you are preserving the spirit of the $5.50 bin so that others may partake in the $5.50 bin experience.

The $5.50 bin is one of America’s best kept secrets. You could argue a case for ebay or garage sales as the DVD’s true land of opportunity, but both of those venues lack the intricacies of the $5.50 bin. Everyone loves movies and everyone loves saving money. The true $5.50 master is like an old prospector panning for gold. The $5.50 bin is so much more than just a cage full of discs full of images, it’s full of the human spirit. Amen.

$5.50 Bin Pt. 5

Now that we’re aware of the $5.50 bins most crucial components, let us move on to the gleaners, those that take from the $5.50 bin as a farmer carefully picks grapes from a vine. Basically there are three kinds of $5.50 shoppers, to be laid out a la Youngian archetypes:

Casual/Cynical: Most everyone goes to Wal-Mart and likes movies. However everyone likes a good bargain. So the $5.50 bin lends itself to all of humanity in at least one small way. So the casual/cynical shopper will at least pause and notice the $5.50 bin. However, they will turn up their nose based on the low price, unfairly assuming that since the movies are cheap than they must be of poor quality or low esteem. This is simply a misconception, nay, a biggotous stereotype that is the result of ignorance and lack of culturing. The casual/cynical shopper will rarely give much more consideration to the $5.50 bin than a simple glance at whichever movies happen to be on top.

Energetic/Optimistic: This $5.50 shopper may have started out as a casual/cynical shopper, but has seen the light through simple chance or through the encouragement of friends. Perhaps one evening while at an acquaintance’s house the former casual/cynical notices a DVD on the shelf that he/she is fond of and asks the owner naively—“Hey, where’d you get this?” Upon hearing the answer the now energetic/optimistic shopper is made aware to the potential joy of the $5.50 bin. The energetic/optimistic $5.50 shopper will dig deep into the bin, content just to be in the hunt. The energetic/optimistic shopper recognizes the potential of the $5.50 bin but is also conscious of the rarity of a true gem. He/she will always be hopeful that they will find “a diamond in the rough” to add to their collection, and not really be disappointed if they do not walk away with a purchase.

Determined/Fanatical: Upon months, even years of energetic/optimistic $5.50 shopping this person has became obsessed even possessed with the acquisition of high quality-low cost DVD’s. The determined/fanatical shopper can be identified upon their entrance into Wal-Mart as they walk with distinction towards the $5.50 bin choosing the most efficient path with a complete disregard for any other items they came to buy. Their heart rate may quicken, breathing patterns heighten, and in extreme cases the pupils may even become dilated. They may abandon the company of friends they came to Wal-Mart with, and in the saddest cases will even $5.50 shop alone. The determined/fanatical $5.50 shopper will not be denied a purchase and will go to extreme lengths to satiate their desire. This beastly perversion of a shopper will even go to multiple Wal-Marts in the same evening in order to taste the fruit of the $5.50 bin. Their DVD libraries are immense, filled with complete sets and obscure selections. The determined/fanatical shopper has been to the top of the $5.50 mountain, has seen the glory that lies therein, and will do whatever it takes to get to the top again.

$5.50 Bin Pt. 4

The $5.50 bin is a place of value. Your average new-release DVD is going to cost you about twenty bucks. After a couple of months it may drop down to a little under $15 dollars. This can be quite a conundrum especially for emerging adults (18-25) who are not exactly affluent when you consider the same age bracket craves entertainment perhaps more than any other generation. Enter the $5.50 bin. Let’s say one goes into Wal-Mart with a designated $17 for new DVD purchases. Why get one DVD for approximately 2 hours of entertainment when you can get three (!) for approximately six hours of entertainment? Clearly this could be a point of divergence for some, as this is a pro-quantity as opposed to quality argument; much like an all you can eat-pizza buffet offers perhaps a less quality product verses your more upscale pizza establishment, if there is such a thing. Nonetheless if you disagree go back and review the element of nostalgia in the $5.50 bin.

$5.50 Bin Pt. 3

The $5.50 bin is a place of discovery. The same innate desire Columbus possessed that led him to the new world is of the same essence as a $5.50 shopper. What’s inside the bin changes regularly (which goes back to the aforementioned mystery) and there could be a movie you’ve been weighing the prospects of for years tucked away amongst the B-list foreign films or 1950s cartoon anthologies. A $5.50 shopper is akin to the hunter making an excursion to South Africa to hunt the wild game. The thrill of the pursuit is one that sustains the $5.50 shopper even on an unsuccessful venture. The satisfaction of finding the dark 1999 comedy Mystery Men could conceivably be a trophy for an entire year.

The $5.50 bin is a place of nostalgia. In each generation there are those movies that define, classics like Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Saturday Night Fever. For my generation that movie is Twins. A touching story of two brothers reunited enriched my spirit as a child. That spirit was rediscovered thanks to the $5.50 bin. Consider other such films which hark back to better, simpler times: Beverly Hills Cop I & II, Short Circuit, Crocodile Dundee I & II, The Never Ending Story, Batman: The Movie (starring Adam West . . . Wham! Etc . . .) and of course Major League II. These movies should have their proper place in the pantheon of film, yet they have been forsaken and damned to the $5.50 bin next to 88cent gobstoppers. The $5.50 shopper realizes this travesty, and rescues these timeless films from the bowels of garage sales and pawn shops; forever preserving their memory and contributions to the collectors life by enshrining them in their own personal DVD library.

$5.50 Bin Pt. 2

In order to clarify the terms and vernacular of the $5.50 bin, a couple basics need to be established. First of all, location: The $5.50 bin can be found near the electronics section at virtually every Wal-Mart in the country. Sometimes it’s near the DVD’s but often you’re almost in house-ware territory when you see the black fence-like encasement. Then there’s pronunciation: To truly communicate the unique aspects of the $5.50 bin it’s pronounced “fiveiftyben”. You can use this almost like a codeword to figure out if someone has experienced the magic or not. If they have to ask what you’re talking about, then you might as well just skip the whole thing. Before we continue it must be noted that some $5.50 bins are under the sign “2 for $11”. With some simple mathematic calculations it’s clear that you have indeed encountered a $5.50 bin. The whole “2 for 11” thing is just a ploy to entice you to spend more money. Rest assured, you may still proceed as to a more accurately labeled $5.50 bin. Now that we’ve established some basics, let us move forward.

The $5.50 bin is a place of mystery. Where did these DVD’s come from? Are they the ones that didn’t sell well and they’ve been demoted? Which “higher ups” (corporate positions) dictate which DVD’s will populate the $5.50 bin? What sorts of people actually buy some of these movies? Is there a truck that ships these DVD’s specifically to fill the $5.50 bin? Are they one’s that people have returned and subsequently deemed un-sellable at normal retail value? Did these DVD’s ever cost more than $5.50? Where do they go if they don’t sell in the $5.50 bin? Do the workers that stock the $5.50 bin get “first crack” at its contents? What if the workers are snatching up all the Chuck Norris movies? These are questions that are simply beyond the grasp of the $5.50 shopper. The true $5.50 master is not concerned with these questions, it does not matter from whence the DVD’s came, it only matters what is inside that bin, which might as well be made of gold.

$5.50 Bin Pt. 1

I'm in an expository writing class here at Central Methodist University. Our latest paper assignment is over "Writing about places." We are to write an approximately 4-5 page paper describing a place. So, this is part of my rough draft. I thought you guys might enjoy it. Some of this is tounge in cheek, but i'm pretty much serious. So, here it is, my ode' to the $5.50 bin....

Humans are simple creatures. At our core there are sentiments that we as a species crave, among them: adventure, passion, the thrill of the hunt, and a good bargain. There is a place where one can find what we as people have been seeking since the beginning of history, a place where you can forge your own destiny, a place where legends are made, an escape from the ramped inflation of modern society, a place where nostalgia and value collide, an oasis to the likes of Van Damme and Seagall, a place called the $5.50 bin at Wal-Mart.
Imagine if you will your last trip to the worldwide mega-monstrosity, most people dread going. It’s as if Wal-Mart is a Mecca for the socially challenged. On a Saturday the parking lot is gridlock, there’s thirty check-out lines however only a third of those are in use, and there’s nothing more ironic than seeing the back of a blue “Hi! How Can I Help you!?” vest speeding away from you as you blurt out your question concerning the location of dish detergent trying in vain to overcome the deafening crashing carts and blaring babies. If there’s a full moon outside you better bring a camera. But amidst the disorganized aisles and dysfunctional clientele lies paradise. The $5.50 bin is not just a place, it’s an experience.

The $5.50 bin is serves as a clearinghouse of sorts for DVD’s of highly varying quality. At first glance one might see merely a black cage housing an orgy of DVD’s with no real discernable method of organization. It’s a free for all in there. The encasement comes up to about waist height: tall enough to prevent small children or animals by being swallowed up by the bin, but also restrive enough to prevent full grown adults from being able to easily reach to the bottom. Due to crafty corporate marketing and strategic placement the $5.50 bin is usually accompanied by a clearance candy bin. Don’t be deceived, the candy is 88cents not the DVD’s. Once you have identified the proper position and purpose of the $5.50 bin, you are ready to delve into all that is the $5.50 bin and start reaping the benefits for yourself and those around you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It's Science Baby!

So, the whole creationism/intelligent design debate continues to evolve. (giggle)

This article talks about the Ohio school board voting to "eliminate a passage in the state's science standards that critics said opened the door to the teaching of intelligent design."

The article continues on to say "The Ohio Board of Education decided 11-4 to delete material encouraging students to seek evidence for and against evolution. The 2002 science standards say students should be able to "describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." The standards include a disclaimer that they do not require the teaching of intelligent design.

To me there's lots of problems here. First of all, I believe in the "seperation of church and state". I like what the ACLU represents, dissent. I think a lot of those folks are nuts though. Anyways, I think that we're forgetting that PARENTS and CHURCH'S are also responsible for educating our children, not to mention the students themselves. By the time you get to high school Biology if you are just being spoonfed everything then you have a whole different set of problems.

Second problem: the politization (sp?) of this whole debate. It has come to represent essentially secular enlightenment thought vs. christian theological thought. The crazy lefty humanists are fighting back against the zealous right Christian biggots. Let's think about whats going on here: the folks in Ohio by my estimation are trying to get a back door into intelligent design, which i've read described as "creationism in a tuxedo". Kinda funny. But let's look at what the Ohio state board voted down one more time:

Curriculum in which students specifically are able to...describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.

Isn't this statement AT THE HEART OF SCIENCE!?!?!??! Whats wrong with questioning a THEORY, not FACT or our concept of fact, a THEORY. What is wrong with critical analysis of evolutionary theory?

To me thats just as horrible as creationists dressing up theology in the classroom. So what the ACLU and other scientists are doing to me completely undermines the scientific principals that they feel are threatened by people who know don't know very much about science but can quote Genesis chapters 1-3.

To me, the whole thing is very simple. Evolutionary theory still can't answer why or how things got here. I believe in natural selection, in adaption, 'survival of the fittest'. Shoot, if I was an animal i'd be a gonner because I couldn't see anything.

But the Christian community cannot ignore science or treat it like an enemy. I think Christians have the ability to throw their hands up in the air and say they don't know all of the answers, but more importantly we don't need to.

The method of creation matters not, only the origin of the creator. (sounds like a quote, but I thought of it!!!)

I don't care how God created us. Doesn't matter to me, cause i'm sitting here typing either way. So I hope that people can realize that neither strict creationism or secular evolution can give us all the answers, nothing ever can no matter how many school boards approve this that or the other.


The Wrap Up

So, basically I think that the passage from the book is very indicitive of the Christian spiritual journey. You can't just profess Christ as Lord and then do whatever you want because you know you're going to heaven. When we discussed this question in my small group we framed the problem as: "If i'm going to heaven when I die, why the hell should I care about what I do when i'm alive?"

Apologies if anyone is offended, but its true! I admire the Jewish tradition of mitzvot, and feel like Christians are far behind in the whole "actions speak louder than words" thing.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Faith vs. (and) Deed pt. 3

Due to some well deserved prodding, i'll try to "wrap up" this lil' thought process, as i'm sure many of you have wittled (sp?) your nails down in anticipation.

Adam Caldwell and I had a conversation in which he suggested I would frame the discussion in a Faith AND Deed way as opposed to Faith VERSES Deed way. Good call.

So none of what i've said, and really not much of anything I ever say is really ground breaking or hard to comprimise. I feel like the Jewish faith places to much emphasis on works or deeds alone while the Christian faith SHOULD emphasize deeds in connection with faith, but many times the stuff you do after you have the faith is irrelevant, or must be by how much attention deeds get.

To Illustrate this, I will post a portion of the book Adventures in Missing the Point, from a chapter called Salvation:

The Parable of the Race:

Once upon a time, in a land of boredom and drudgery, exciting news spread: “There is going to be a race! And all who run this race will grow strong and they’ll never be bored again!” Exciting news like this had not been heard in many a year, for people experienced little adventure in this ho-hum land, beyond attending committee meetings, waiting in lines, sorting socks, and watching sitcom reruns.

Excitement grew as the day of the race drew near. Thousands gathered in the appointed town, at the appointed place. Most came to observe, skeptical about the news. “It’s too good to be true,” they said. “It’s just a silly rumor started by some teenaged troublemakers. But let’s stick around and see what happens anyway.”

Others could not resist the invitation, arriving in their running shorts and shoes. As they waited for the appointed time, they stretched and jogged in place and chattered among themselves with nervous excitement. At the appointed time they gathered at the starting line, heard the gun go off, and knew that it was time to run.

Then something very curious happened. The runners took a step or two or three across the starting line, and then abruptly stopped. One man fel to his knees crying, “I have crossed the starting line! This is the happiest day of my life!” He repeated this again and again, and even began singing a song about how happy this day was for him.

Another woman started jumping for joy. “Yes!” she shouted, raising her fist in the air. “I am a race-runner! I am finally a race-runner!” She ran around jumping and dancing, getting and giving high fives to others who shared her joy at being in the race.

Several people formed a circle and prayed, quietly thanking God for the privilege of crossing the starting line, and thanking God that they were not like the skeptics who didn’t come dressed for the race.

An hour passed, and two. Spectators began muttering; some laughed. “So what do they think this race is?” they said. “Two or three strides, then a celebration? And why do they feel superior to us? They’re treating the starting line as if it were a finish line. They’ve completely missed the point.”

A few more minutes of this silliness passed. “You know,” a spectator said to the person next to her, “if they’re not going to run the race, maybe we should.”

“Why not? It’s getting boring watching them hang around just beyond the starting line. I’ve had enough boredom for one life.”

Others heard them, and soon many were kicking off their dress shoes, slipping out of their jackets, throwing all this unneeded clothing on the grass. And they ran- past the praying huddles and past the crying individuals and past the jumping high-fivers. And they found hope and joy in every step, and they grew stronger with every mile and hill. To their surprise, the path never ended- because in this race, there was no finish line. So they were never bored again.
Is salvation for you a one-time experience? Or is it a lifelong journey? Is it about rescue from your uncomfortable circumstances, or rescue from this world after death- or is it about being rescued from a life that is disconnected God and God’s adventure, both in this life and the next? Is salvation about stepping across a line- or is it about crossing a starting line to begin an un-ending adventure in this life and beyond?

Um, the computer i'm using can no longer be in use, more soon....seriously.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I Normally Don't Do This...

I've been "tagged". This means i'll post the same information that the person who tagged me posted. Call me a tool. This is the first time i've responded to anything like this, except for that chain letter in the 3rd grade...speaking of I still haven't gotten my three wishes.

Anyways, here it is:

Four jobs I've had in my life:
Mercanary-style babysitter/lawn mower.
Cape Girardeau Recreation Dept. Pool Concessions Stand
Youth Intern at various church's
Director of Youth Ministries, Ellisville UMC

Four Movies I could watch repeatedly (and have):
Mystery Men
Batman Begins
Lord of the Rings
Karate Kid II: The Story Continues

Four Places I have lived:
I'm going to list them all actually...
Memphis, MO. Centralia, MO. St. Peters, MO. Cape Girardeau, MO. Fayette, MO. Greenwood, MO. Jefferson City, MO. Houston, TX. Ellisville, MO. Lot's of time spent in Sedalia, MO and O'Fallon, IL as well, but technically did not live there. So now you know why my car is always so nasty.

Four TV shows I love to watch:
Pardon the Interuption
King of Queens
Arrested Development/Seinfeld on DVD

Four Places I have been on Vacation:
Brason, MO.
Gulf Shores, AL.
Panama City, FL.
Los Angeles, CA (coming in May)

Four Websites I visit daily: (Sarah makes fun of me because I compulsively check the news part...its true)

Four Favorite Restaurant Foods:
Chipotle Burritos
Flat Branch Buffalo Wings
Taco Bell Frito Burrito
Jack in the Box Tacos

Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now:
Sitting on my couch at home in KC consuming the beverages and food that my family has bought in preparation for my arrival
Panama City Beach
At a concert with Sarah
Working at Ellisville UMC, instead of being at school

(i'm adding one) Four Things that Make Me Mad:
People who smack their food
When my dog doesn't listen to me
People who are awkward to talk to on the phone
Not seeing the purpose in things i'm forced to do

People I'm Tagging:
Sarah Hoormann
Kelly Mustoe
Andy Bryan
Brad Bryan
(the Bryan's are tagged by me and Adam Caldwell now, so maybe they'll feel the pressure)