What I’m Thankful For

With Thanksgiving being just a couple of days away, I wanted to take some time today to talk about some things that I am thankful for, a practice that is beneficial to observe every so often, just to remind oneself of the good things in life. There is so much negativity in the world, but by focusing on the positives, we can try to at least combat some of the negativity and keep it from infiltrating our lives, so without further ado, here’s what I’m thankful for in 2017. I’m thankful that the apartments I live in have animals inside the walls. I never really went camping as a child, so last month when the squirrel scratched a hole through my bedroom wall, exposing the inside of my apartment to the great outdoors, I felt closer to nature than I ever had before. I’m also thankful that it took the maintenance workers more than a week to come in and put a board up over the hole, giving me the gift of sleepless nights, terrified that the squirrel would scratch through the pathetic piece of cardboard I had duct taped to the wall, and I would wake up to the painful reality of having my eyes clawed out.

Another thing that I’m thankful for in 2017 is all of the dumb commercials on television. I would guess that I easily watch twelve hours of live television every week, between football and basketball games, so I see a lot of commercials, too many if we’re being honest, but unlike most, the dumb ones don’t bother me at all. Whenever I’m at my grandparents house, watching the Alabama football game, my grandpa will mute the TV whenever there is a commercial break, but whenever I’m at home, I’ll pay attention to the commercials, not because of the quality of the commercials themselves, but because I like the way they make me feel, with a false sense of superiority. First, knowing that commercials are made for the masses, seeing a commercial and recognizing it as stupid confirms to me that my intelligence and maturity are at a much higher level than the average people in the country, for whom the dumb commercial was made. Also, it gives me hope in knowing that if the idiots that made these dumb commercials can make a living doing so, then surely I, who is much funnier than they, can do so as well. Now I just need to get in touch with some TV producers so I can pitch them my brilliant ideas, so if you could make that happen, I’ll reserve a special spot for you on next year’s thankful list.

Finally, I’m thankful for garbage trucks. It may seem like a strange one to round out my list, but without them, I wouldn’t be waken up every Monday at three in the morning by the loud clanging as they empty the dumpsters at my apartment. Is there anything more refreshing than being jolted awake in the middle of the night by a terrifyingly loud noise? I think not. The premature wake up call gives me the opportunity to start my week in a bad mood, thus completely removing the pressure from the looming work week to do so, and for that, I am truly thankful.

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Nachos and Basketball: A Date Night with my Wife

IMG_4476If I ever opened up a restaurant, I think I would call it Nacho Libre and the only thing on the menu would be different kinds of nachos, because nachos are one of the most awesome foods in the world. Of course I would have the traditional Mexican nachos, with beef, steak, or chicken, but I would also branch out and have unique varieties too, like spaghetti nachos, that would be topped with spaghetti sauce, beef, and parmesan cheese. There would be pizza nachos, with pizza sauce, pepperoni, and melted cheese as well as breakfast nachos with scrambled cheese eggs, sausage, and bacon, with or without syrup. There would be seafood and barbecue nachos, which are two of my favorite varieties, as well as others that I don’t feel like wasting anymore words on right now, but you get the point, nachos are great, which is why when my wife and I went to dinner at Central BBQ the other night, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind as to what I was going to order.

I normally get the pulled pork barbecue nachos at Central, because they are delicious and one of my favorite things to eat in Memphis, but I decided to try something new, and got the barbecue chicken nachos, on the homemade chips of course, because I’m not an animal. I’m not exaggerating when I say that ordering the barbecue chicken was one of the best decision I’ve ever made in my life, because it was one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had. The chicken was juicy and flavorful, the chips were nice and crisp, and there was so much cheese, sauce and shredded, that it would have been a fantastic dinner had that been the only ingredient atop the chips. The jalapeños added a nice kick and the barbecue sauce was perfectly portioned throughout the dish. It was so good that I’m going to have a hard time going back to the pulled pork, because while the pork is great, the barbecue chicken was phenomenal.

After dinner my wife and I headed downtown for the Grizzlies game, courtesy of my brother Logan who got me tickets for my birthday. I always love being inside Fedex Forum for a basketball game, which is one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday night, and we had a lot of fun, despite the fact that the Grizzlies were dominated by the Houston Rockets. You can’t win them all I suppose. By the time the game was over and we left the arena to head back to the car, the temperature outside had dropped into the thirties, which was absolutely marvelous. All in all it was a great night, filled with basketball, great food, and nice weather, and I look forward to doing it again soon in the near future, only next time, maybe the Grizzlies will win the game, but given the way they’ve been playing lately, I’m not going to hold my breath for it.

The Pick Six: NFL Week 11

Happy NFL Sunday everyone! I hope you’re all doing as well as me, although I seriously doubt that you are, because yesterday I had the perfect day. Ok, so the whole day wasn’t perfect, i.e. going to the Grizzlies game last night and having to witness them get destroyed by the Rockets, but in terms of my college football picks, I went 6 for 6, confirming what I’ve known all along, that I’m a genius. Galileo, Einstein, Curtis. It’s remarkable how seamlessly my name fits alongside the other two. Anyway, I’m not here to brag, but to help by giving you the six most intriguing NFL games of the weekend plus my picks, which if I haven’t mentioned yet, are 100 hundred percent perfect this weekend, so if you want to make some money on the games, you know who to bet on. Here’s the Pick Six.

6. Ravens at Packers- Noon
Last week the Packers won for the first time since their quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with an injury several weeks ago, so it will be interesting to see if that gives them any confidence that might translate into results going forward. I don’t think this Baltimore team is very good, but I do think they can go into Green Bay and beat the Packer’s backup quarterback. I’m taking Ravens on the road -3.

5. Redskins at Saints- Noon
The Saints have been one of the most pleasantly surprising teams of the season thus far, having won their last seven games, while the Redskins have toed the line of mediocrity, now sitting at a 4-5 record. I don’t know if Washington will win this one on the road, but I do think it will be a close game and New Orleans has to come back down to earth at some point right? Regardless, I think it will be closer than the 7 and a half points that the Saints are favored by, so I’m taking the Redskins. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

4. Patriots at Raiders- 3:25
At the beginning of the season I thought the Raiders were going to be a team to watch out for this year, a team that could make a strong playoff push and possibly win a Super Bowl, but here they sit at a sub .500 record, playing the defending Super Bowl champions. It’s a home game for Oakland, so maybe it won’t be a complete bloodbath, but I think the Patriots are going to win by at least a touchdown, which is why I have no problem taking them -5.5 points.

3. Rams at Vikings- Noon
Of the early games, this is easily the most intriguing matchup, a game between two teams that have surprised everyone this year and are both sitting with a 7-2 record. I hate to pick against the Vikings, because time and time again they prove me wrong, somehow becoming an unstoppable force led by quarterback Case Keenum. I watched Keenum play as the Rams quarterback last year and it was literally the worst and most boring NFL game that I’d ever witnessed, but somehow he’s leading a team sitting at the top of their division? This doesn’t even make sense. Vikings are favored by two and a half points at home, but I’m taking Jared Goff and the Rams to go into Minneapolis and get the road upset.

2. Falcons at Seahawks- Monday at 7:30
I’m going to try and be rational here, to see things objectively and not overreact after watching my Cowboys getting destroyed by the Falcons a week ago, but I think Atlanta is the best team in the history of the NFL. See what I did there? Anyway, I do think the Falcons are going to have a good game this week since the strength of their team is their high powered passing attack and the Seahawks are down to of their best defenders in Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman. It’s always difficult playing in Seattle, especially a nationally televised night game, but I think the Falcons offense will be too much for the Seahawks to handle, so I’m flying with the Falcons +3.

1. Eagles at Cowboys- 7:30
I really wish the Cowboys were playing somebody else this week, like literally anyone else, because I’m terrified of having to play the best team in the NFL after how poorly we played a week ago. Unless some major changes or improvements have been made, both offensively and defensively, this game is going to be painful to watch for me and all of the other Cowboys fans out there. Maybe I’m wrong and it will be a close game, or better yet, maybe the Cowboys will blow them out, but after last week, I just don’t see it happening. The Eagles are favored by 3 and a half on the road, which seems low to me. I’m not happy about it, but I’m picking the Eagles -3.5.

The Pick Six: Worst Week in College Football Edition

It’s Saturday, which means it’s time for my college football Pick Six. Looking at the slate of games today, it appears to be one of the worst Saturday’s in football season in terms of having compelling games to watch, but I picked what to me are the six most interesting games, which I would like to now share with you. Here we go.

6. SMU/Memphis at 11 on ESPN News
Living in Memphis, this game is of local interest since the Tigers are having what is possibly their best season in the history of the football program and hope to continue along that trajectory today with a win over SMU. The weather is forecasting thunderstorms and rain during the game, so it might not be the high scoring affair led by the Memphis passing game that we’ve become used to this season, but I do think Memphis will win and cover the 11 point spread, so I’m going with the hometown Tigers in this one.

5. Mississippi State/Arkansas at 11 on CBS
Arkansas just fired their athletic director this week, so could the Hogs come out reenergized with new life and get the upset at home? With coaches being fired in the recent weeks, Mississippi State’s head coach, Dan Mullen, has been a name mentioned quite a bit in terms of who those programs may hire next, so could all of that be a distraction to the Bulldogs? Personally, I don’t think either of those things will be true today. Mississippi State is the real deal, as evidenced last week by nearly knocking off the best team in college football, and Arkansas is a joke, as evidenced by most of the games they’ve played this season. State isn’t the greatest road team, so I’m thinking the 11 and a half points they are favored by is too high, so I’ll take Arkansas in this one, because what is more Arkansas than hanging around in a big game, getting the fans hopes up, and then blowing it at the last second? Woo pig!

4. NC State/Wake Forest at 6:30 on ESPNU
NC State is ranked in the top 25 but is an underdog on the road at unranked Wake Forest, two teams that have surprised me this year by being somewhat relevant in college football. I really don’t have much to say about this one, but I think Wake Forest gets the home win and covers the 3 and a half points they are favored by.

3. UCLA/USC at 7 on ABC
At the beginning of the year, this looked like a marquee matchup, but now that we know the truth about UCLA, it’s not as compelling as it once was. USC is favored by 15 at home, and while I might have taken this line earlier in the season, I just can’t buy into it now, so I’ll take UCLA on the road to keep it within two touchdowns.

2. Virginia/Miami at 11 on ABC
I’ve been wrong on Miami for two weeks in a row now, so that means I should probably start showing them some respect and picking the Hurricanes for a change, but they’re favored by 17, which makes me really nervous. However, in Virginia’s last game, they lost to Louisville by 17, and I think Miami is a better team, so clearly they should win by at least 17 right? I’m going with my gut here; Miami will get the win but I’m taking Virginia in the point spread.

1. Michigan/Wisconsin at 11 on Fox
Number one game of the day because it’s the only matchup today between two teams ranked in the Top 25, clear evidence of the worst Saturday in college football. I wasn’t really buying into Wisconsin and I’m not sure that I actually am now, but they were impressive with their win last week over Iowa. They’re at home today against a disappointing Michigan team and are favored by 9. I think Wisconsin gets the win and covers the spread.

Good Food at a Disgusting Restaurant

Have you ever walked into a restaurant, and before you even pass through the entryway, your shoes are sticking to the floor? It’s not a pleasant experience. I suppose there are reasons for the floor of a restaurant to be sticky, if a drink had been spilled on the floor and nobody had mopped it up yet, but this was the state of the floor just inside the doors of the restaurant, where there were no tables or any reason for a drink to be spilled in that area. Conversely, I can understand where over the course of the day, the entryway might become a little big sticky, just by all of the foot traffic coming in from outside, dragging in bits of nastiness from beyond the doors, but this was at 8:30 in the morning, far too early for that many people to have come through the door, and besides this was beyond that level of sticky. This was so much more than that, like a concerted effort had to be made to lift one’s foot off the ground just to continue moving forward. I’ve never been caught in quicksand before, but judging by how it was portrayed in TV shows when I was a child, this would have been the closest experience I’ve ever had to that.

We were at Shoney’s, a restaurant I’d spent most of my life unaware of, until I moved to Memphis, about five minutes away from one. My brothers turned me on to it, and when they come to visit, we usually try to go there one morning for breakfast, which is how we found ourselves struggling to walk across the stick floor in the entryway of the restaurant. Once we made it to our table, the floor wasn’t much better, although it should be noted that at least it wasn’t sticky. Replacing the stickiness was a puddle of water and a screw on the floor, but luckily all of this was in front of where my youngest brother, Landon, had chosen to sit. He realized his mistake and corrected it, moving across the table from me when he returned with a full plate of food from the buffet. Despite the disgusting environment which we found ourselves in, I will admit, the food is actually pretty good, which is somewhat surprising given that buffets tend to have a lower quality of food (I’m lookin’ at you CiCi’s).

I started with a biscuit and gravy, which is definitely one of my favorite breakfast foods, then skipped over the sausage because even though it is one of my favorite things in the world, the perfect compliment to a biscuit doused in gravy, I don’t like sausage links for some reason, and that is the only option that they had. A fresh tray of simmering bacon was being placed on the other side of the sausage, a much more delightful alternative, especially given that it was on a buffet, and the unlimited nature of it all. I got a generous spatula full of the greasy glistening strips, walked around to the other side of the buffet line and added some scrambled eggs and a single chicken tender, which seemed out of place on a breakfast buffet, but looked delicious nonetheless. The biscuit certainly wasn’t the softest globe of bread that I’d poured gravy on, but it was fine for what it was. The real stars of the show were the scrambled eggs, which were surprisingly flavorful with nice, soft texture, and the bacon, because it’s bacon, which is arguably the greatest food on the planet.

I made another trip to the buffet for some French toast sticks, and of course some more bacon. I normally don’t like syrupy foods, because it disgusts me to have that sticky maple substance on  my hands, but it smelled too good to pass up, so I didn’t. I would definitely recommend Shoney’s as a place to go for a good, all you can eat breakfast, at a reasonable price. While the restaurant itself leaves a lot to be desired with unclean everything is, the food is pretty good quality, and I don’t think in that aspect, you will ever be disappointed. So far I haven’t been.

The Bank Robbery

I feel like if there is such a thing, I should win the bank employee of the year award for what I just did. I’m not saying I’m a hero, but it wouldn’t be all that surprising if everyone else started referencing to me as such, because I just stopped a bank robbery, and did so all by myself. The day had been slow, the minutes ticking past at a monotonous Thursday speed one can never get used to, despite the fact that it is expected. It was ten minutes before noon, and the three of us behind the glass were talking and passing the time until one of our coworkers would return from lunch, allowing another of us to go, and then out of nowhere, a high pitched ding from the corner of the room interrupting our conversation. The ding itself wasn’t shocking or surprising. It’s something we hear multiple times every day, someone hitting the button in our bank’s drive-thru which dings inside, letting us know that they want to talk to us, so I walked over to the corner, turned the microphone on, and began to speak, asking the customer what I could do for them today, but never in my wildest dreams, did I expect that question would lead to an attempted robbery.

If you’re fortunate enough to have never been in a robbery type situation before, consider yourself lucky, because now that I’ve experienced it, and have made it through to the other side, I can tell you that it is one of the most terrifying things that has ever happened to me, but at least I’m still here, and that is something to be truly thankful for. The customer in the drive thru didn’t look menacing, and she actually looked kind of familiar, which just goes to show you that you can’t trust anyone, that your guard has to be up at all times, because crime comes in all shapes and sizes and knows no age or gender, so if you’re not careful out there, you might end up getting burned. So, I guess you vultures want the story, are circling overhead ready to swoop in and gobble up the juicy details of a frightening experience, and to that I say, shame on you! But, I’m not a monster. I’m a human person with a human heart, so if you want to get your grubby little claws on the details, then I’ll give them to you, but believe me, I’m not one bit happy about it.

My question of I could help the customer with was rudely interrupted by said customer, which shouldn’t have been surprising since I’ve never met a robber with good manners, not that I socialize much with robbers anyway.  She asked me to send her a pen, an innocent enough request, and one that I receive on a daily basis, so I didn’t think anything sinister was going on, but sadly, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The tube came back over with two checks to be deposited and that’s when I saw it, or rather didn’t see it, and the color drained from my face and I got weak in the knees as I realized that I was being robbed.  I just try to go through life, doing the right thing, but sometimes bad things happen to good people, a harsh lesson that I learned today. The pen, that I had lent out of the goodness of my heart, wasn’t in the tube, it was gone. I was surprised and angry and hurt all at the same time. Surprised that a robbery was actually taking place, angry at the injustice of it all, and hurt that someone would do this to me and the respectable institution for which I work. I took a deep breath and gathered myself, because I’m a professional at all times, and I wasn’t going to let an attempted robbery change that. I pressed the button, looked the guilty party right in the eye on the monitor, and told her I was sending the tube back over and asked very politely and even toned, although I was shaking inside, if she would send the pen over to me. Silence. She looked at me, and I looked at her, the intimidation game at its peak. She laughed and made an excuse about not realizing that she had taken the pen, clearly flustered at having been caught in the act of committing the crime and then being called out on it. She sent it back, and I recovered everything that had been stolen in the attempted robbery. I guess I’m pretty great, but I just go out every day, doing my part to make the world a better place, because that’s just the kind of person I am.

Bragging on my Wife

IMG_4298When I was in college, which seems like many years ago, it was a struggle for me. I think I took the same Statistics class three semesters in a row, and made a bad grade, every single time, although it wasn’t for lack of trying. The last time I took it, I had my wife, my then girlfriend, go over my homework with me and try to help me to understand math, which admittedly was my worst subject in school. We spent countless hours of her trying to teach me, and me not being able to grasp the concepts, and all in all, despite her best efforts, it didn’t make much of a difference, because I still ended up with a bad grade in the class, and then subsequently dropped out of college, but that’s not what this blog is about. No, this blog is not about negative college experiences, but positive ones, which is why I won’t be focusing on my years in college for the remainder of the blog, but will be focusing on a success story, which isn’t to say that my years spent pursuing a higher education were a complete failure, but that’s just not the focus today.

I’m going to brag about my wife, because this is my blog and I can write about whatever I wants, so if you don’t like it, feel free to movie along, because it’s my blog you can’t tell me what to do. When life hands me lemons, I make beef stew. So my wife started back to school this fall, after more than a year away, at the university here in town. I’m proud of her for going back to school, because I know how hard that is after being away for an extended period of time because there are so many excuses that can be made about how hard it would be to go back, but my wife did it, which would be enough for me to be proud of her, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

For as long as I’ve known her, my wife has talked about a career in mechanical engineering, and that’s what she studied for her first two years of college, but with some time off to think about it, she decided that her interest lay elsewhere, in the excruciatingly exciting world of accounting, which isn’t for everyone. My uncle was an accountant before realizing that it was unenjoyable, and my cousin was majoring in accounting, until he interviewed for an internship and got an up close look at how depressed the accountants employed there were, prompting him to immediately toss accounting out the window and take up marketing, but for my wife, it might be the perfect fit. In her first semester as an accounting major she is really taking a liking to the subject of accounting, one she had never previously studied, and is excelling at it. I don’t know this for a fact, but she’s got to be one of the top accounting students in her class, which is evidenced by the fact that her lowest exam grade for the semester is going to be dropped, and she informed me last night that her lowest grade, the score that will be dropped is a 100. That’s right, my wife’s lowest accounting grade for the year is 100, because on all of the other tests she has gotten bonus points so that all of her other scores were even higher. So basically, my wife is the most promising young accounting student in the world, and I’m happy to be able to brag about her, because she certainly wouldn’t talk about it herself.