What I Didn’t Know About the Solar Eclipse

I don’t normally watch the news, mostly because the anchors tend to annoy me with their over dramatized reporting of insignificant things like “Find out who’s been going through your trash. Is your identity safe? Find out next.” When the commercial break ends it’s a story about raccoons caught on camera digging through a dumpster, so that’s why I prefer to read my news so I’m able to draw my own conclusions on the seriousness of the story rather than having a talking head trying to worry me, but Monday afternoon when I got home from work the news just happened to be on. We keep the TV on during the day for the benefit of the dogs, using it to stifle any noise outside the apartment which would drive them into fits of frightened barking which would in turn make the neighbors hate us, so when I sat down in my chair I heard something that was actually important information for me to find out and it literally saved me from doing something really stupid that would change my life forever. 
    Did you hear about the solar eclipse coming up next week? I don’t know how you couldn’t have heard, because it seems like everyday I hear something about it, but until Monday I wasn’t really paying much attention to it other than the date thinking it would be pretty cool to see when it happens since it’s apparently a once in a lifetime thing. I figured I would just show up to work and when it got unusually dark outside I would rush out to the parking lot to behold the miraculous event. I’m an idiot, which I know is probably a shock to a lot of you since I normally come across as one of the most intelligent people to ever stumble through life, but sadly my complete self confidence was shattered the moment I heard the news report. I don’t remember who was reporting the story about the solar eclipse being a week away, but whomever it was I owe a great deal of gratitude for saving my eyesight. Apparently if you look at the eclipse directly you will become blind, a fact that apparently everyone but myself knows because trust me, I’ve asked around since then, and every person I ask about it looks at me like I’m a complete moron, which I obviously can’t argue against.

 

    There was a news story on my USA Today app a week or so ago with a headline that said something about a company selling solar eclipse glasses and without actually clicking to read the story I just assumed it was a scam or a joke used by some company to cash in out the latest fad that’s taking the world by storm, but now I know that it was an actual legitimate thing and it was I who was being scammed by my idiotic mind. I’m not going to buy a pair of eclipse viewing glasses, so I suppose I’ll miss out on this once in a lifetime experience, but at least I’ll keep my eyesight, which seems like a fair enough trade.

Proof That I’m Going to be Dying Soon

You know how if you die in your dreams that’s a sign that you’re going to die in real life? I’ve been shot stabbed, fallen from unbelievable heights, been bitten by snakes, been trapped in a burning house, and many more other things that could have killed me in a dream, but somehow I always managed to survive, so I wasn’t too concerned about it, but yesterday I took a nap, over the course of which I had a very vivid dream, and at the end, I died, so forgive me if I’m not that optimistic today, just think about how you’d feel upon finding out that you were going to be dying soon. That’s me, plus five hundred percent more losing it right now because in the face of bad news or any difficult situation, I react in the complete opposite way of how an adult my age should, but then again that’s how I’ve always been, and now that my life is certainly coming to an end, it would seem inconsequential to worry about changing it now. That would be like renaming your dog on his twelfth birthday, something that would be completely useless and a waste of time for all parties involved. Ok, so I guess you want to hear about the dream then don’t you, you inconsiderate, good for nothing, nosy leeches? Come to think of it, death will be a welcome respite if it means not having to put up with you people anymore.
 
    So I was in a bedroom, a bedroom I had never been in before so speculating to whom it belonged would be as difficult as speculating how many rats live below my bathtub, something I’m not keen on doing out of sheer fright. The interesting thing about dreams is that you are dropped in the middle of a situation with no reference to how you ended up there. I like to think of it like being an elderly person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s where you find yourself in a certain place or situation and have no idea how you got there, so perhaps that’s really the benefit of dreams, preparing us for the future when that becomes our reality. So my wife was in the other room with somebody else whom I did not know, but I was leaning against the adjoining door trying to hear what was being said, desperately trying to figure out what was going on. I wasn’t able to hear anything but the conversation ended in a matter of seconds, which became apparent to me as the door was thrown open and I was pushed against the wall. Surely it was a mistake, somebody just opened the door a little too enthusiastically and didn’t realize that I was behind it and any second now they would realize that I was trapped and would let me out from where I was currently trapped between the wall and the door, but that didn’t happen. More weight was applied and harder I was pushed against the wall as I struggled to fight my way out of there. It was so tight that I started having difficulty breathing and I thought that perhaps this was it, but the unidentified person on the other side of the door showed mercy, either that or they got distracted and I was able to wiggle my way free, but the happy feeling I got as I gulped in big mouthfuls of oxygen didn’t last long, because I was then pushed face forward onto the bed, only it didn’t hurt at all.
 
    Somebody grabbed the back of my hair which really did hurt as they shoved me onto the bed, but when my body hit the mattress it was the most comfortable I had ever been. The comforter seemed to be fitted just for me, perfectly conformed to my body as my I desperately tried to hold onto that feeling. Unfortunately that didn’t last either. My attacker jumped on top of me seemingly weighing as much as a small automobile with a body like that too, so strong and hard that no matter how much I fought and struggled they were unbreakable, losing no ground whatsoever in completely dominating me. I was flipped over and that is when I got the biggest shot of the whole experience; my wife was the one attacking me. She wouldn’t even meet my eyes, intent on finishing the job without being swayed emotionally, something I highly doubt would happen anyway given the determination and quickness which she had initiated the attack with in the first place. She grabbed my throat before I could say anything and started squeezing my neck relentlessly as I flopped around on the bed like a fish out of water, struggling for air. It was at that moment that I realized it was a dream, however I didn’t wake up. I told myself that all I needed to do was to scream and that would wake me up, but like I said, I was being suffocated and I was struggling to breathe. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make any sound come out of my mouth. I knew this was going to be it for me, that I was too weak to fight back any longer, that I could not summon up a single syllable to scream and rouse me from my nightmare. I was no longer trying to even scream but rather just get a couple of good breaths. Everything was going blurry around me, the end was near, and then black. Everything was black. I was dead and then I woke up, terrified of what this means for me going forward because once you die in a dream, it’s only a matter of time before you die in real life. I guess the only wisdom I have to impart on you before I’m gone is this; if my death seems suspicious, look closely at my wife, because if my dream has taught me anything, it’s that she’s not to be trusted.

One Reason I’m Opposed to World War 3

As much as I would hate it, it almost seems inevitable that there will be a World War 3, given the egos and irrationality possessed by both presidents of North Korea and the United States of America, and when this happens, it will likely affect me in a very negative way. I have always been opposed to war, but when I turned eighteen, against my beliefs I registered for the selective service, not because I feel the need to defend my country, but rather because it’s the law, and I would much rather take my chances on the slim possibility that a draft is implemented rather than behind bars where my proclivity for sarcasm and eye rolling would likely turn me into the prison punching bag. So at eighteen years old I did what was required of me by law, and I thought that I would never have to think about it again, but then eight years later I started working at Fedex and my chances of getting drafted doubled.

Back when I first registered for the selective service I had a different last name than I do now, so when I began working at Fedex and had to prove that I had in fact registered, I procured all of the necessary paperwork to show that I had changed my name and was still the same person, already registered. I signed some papers and waited in an uncomfortable chair while someone behind a desk typed relentlessly on her keyboard and before I knew it she handed me a paper saying that I had been registered for the selective service, for the second time, which means now if a draft does happen, my social security number is in the system twice, seemingly making it twice as likely that I get selected, and for those of you that know me at all, it is abundantly clear that I’m not at all suited for war.

Can you imagine someone like me on the battlefield defending our country? I have a great respect for the men and women who do that, but I would make a terrible soldier. Let’s just set aside the fact that I’m out of shape, my infinite fears would render me completely useless on the battlefield. When I worked at a grocery store and my job included blowing up balloons for children I would break out in a heavy sweat and start to feel dizzy as I inflated the balloons, afraid that the balloon would pop. When I go to NBA basketball games I wait outside the arena, outside of earshot of the fireworks that go off before the game because I’m terrified of loud noises. Now imagine me surrounded by gunfire, dropping my weapon to the ground, freeing both hands so that I can use them for the more pressing task of covering my ears in hopes of stifling the loud sounds all around me. With the ceaseless shots all around me, chances are I would be willing to take a bullet just to make it stop, so clearly being drafted would not be beneficial to me or the well being of our country. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that because clearly I’m not cut out to be a soldier.

Searching for the Perfect Gift

IMG_4073My grandpa and cousin Abigail share a birthday, August 7, which is tomorrow, but since it falls on a Monday the whole family got together to celebrate the greatness that is the two of them. I procrastinate on a lot of things, and unfortunately buying birthday gifts is one of them, so that is how I found myself driving to Walmart at about 2:30 this afternoon. I know, I know, what kind of idiot buys somebody a gift at Walmart? Well again this is unfortunate, the answer is me, but in my pathetic defense it is conveniently close to where I live. Maybe that makes it even worse, I don’t know. Anyway, I can’t turn into the parking lot because a stream of Mustangs are flowing in a cohesive line through the parking lot like a funeral procession, no matter that I had the right of way and they should have been stopping. I finally butted in front of one and got honked at, but it was a nice tradeoff to being forced to look at anymore of these lame people who have nothing more interesting to do on a Sunday afternoon that meet up in a Walmart parking lot with other people who drive the same kind of car that they do.

So I head into the store, knowing exactly one gift that I’m getting and with a couple options in mind for the other one. For my cousin I’m getting her a stainless steel bottle/tumbler/whatever that keeps drinks cold or hot for an excessive amount of time. I got one of these last year and it quickly became my favorite cup, eventually becoming the only one I drank out of, so I’ve decided to share the experience and have given it as a gift to a couple of people who really like it, so I figured my cousin would too. Now my grandpa is quite a bit more difficult to shop for. He’s not the sort of person you can just buy any old t-shirt for. There are certain brands that have been met with his approval, so it’s best to stick to these, but since I’m kind of balling on a budget at the moment, his shirts weren’t really an option so I had to come up with something else. As I walked down the aisles I scanned the ground hoping it would be my lucky day and I would find a very rare and valuable coin lying on the ground, which would make a great gift for my grandpa who just so happens to be an avid coin collector. But then again if it was really valuable I could sell it and get him one of his shirts plus something for me, which would be the ideal scenario in my selfish world, but alas, I had no such luck finding a coin.

I decided to get him a puzzle, which is actually something I think he enjoys working on, so I walked past all of the board games to the microscopic puzzle section of Walmart. Most of them were really annoying to look at, so I could just imagine how excruciating it would be to stare at that same picture for hours trying to put the thing together, so once I weeded out all of the unacceptable ones there were very few options remaining, a Monsters Inc. puzzle for children and a one thousand piece puzzle featuring a house with some tall grass and a couple of deer out front. I got him the latter and it actually seemed to go over well when he opened it, as did the tumbler with my cousin, which just goes to show you that good gifts CAN actually be bought at Walmart.

A Visit from my Brother and his Girlfriend

IMG_4052Yesterday my brother and his girlfriend came to visit, which I suspect had nothing to do with my company but rather with the fact that I could get them into the zoo for free, which my brother had been hinting at for months since his girlfriend really wanted to go. I met them at the zoo mid-morning, a little after ten, and we proceeded to go through one of the top ten ranked zoos in the united states, which I had to remind myself of each time I got really hot and thought I was seconds away from a heat stroke. Since this was Maggie’s first time at the zoo we literally looked at everything, from the chickens in farmland to the snakes that made me want to throw up, and despite the sun beating down on us at an uncomfortable 87 degrees, it was actually pretty fun.

After the zoo we went to lunch, and since it was Maggie’s first time in Memphis, of course we had to get barbecue, so I suggested the Barbecue Shop, which was conveniently located just minutes from where our cars were parked. They rode with me to the restaurant and once we got there the hostess said she would clean off a table for us to sit down, but I protested. You see, the table she wanted to give us was the one right next to the door, and while I don’t normally bother myself with trivial things like which table I’m sitting at or where it is located, I asked this time if perhaps we could take the unoccupied booth about fifteen feet away from the hostess stand. She told us if we sat there we would have to wait longer for our waiter, so unanimously we agreed that the location of our table was less important than the speed at which we got our food, so we sat at the table by the door.

We had to wait at least ten minutes for our waitress to come over, the whole time I was wondering if it really would have taken longer if we’d sat in the booth. By the time she showed up we were ready to order both our drinks and our food which we did, my brother and I both getting the barbecue nachos and Maggie getting a sandwich. Before long the food arrived. The reason I wanted to go to the barbecue shop was solely for the nachos, because I knew the sandwich was fantastic, and I was just curious how the nachos compared to others around town, and I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but they weren’t all that great, although the round tortilla chips that they were served on actually weren’t the deal breaker. What did make them not so great was the copious amounts of nacho cheese that was squirted over them, and while it is true that I normally praise the use of too much cheese, this was too much cheese that didn’t taste all that great. This isn’t to condemn the barbecue shop though, because in all reality I believe they have one of the greatest barbecue sandwiches in Memphis. Just learn from my mistake and don’t stray from that and you will be fine. After lunch we headed downtown because Maggie really wanted to walk down Beale Street, and although it was 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon and not much was going on, she still got to experience that and nothing anyone can say will take that away from her. All in all it was a good day, and I hope my brother and his girlfriend come back and visit again soon, only next time, hopefully it will be a much cooler day.

 

Why I Won’t be Going Back to Pizza Hut

Last year I wrote a blog about how after constant disappointment I was severing my ties with Pizza Hut, and for the most part I have stuck with that, despite that being the most conveniently located pizza place to where I live, but last night I found myself there and all of my previous hatred for the pizza chain was reaffirmed. Pull up a chair, this may take a while. So my wife and I were going over to my dad’s house last night and he asked if we would pick up the pizza that he’d ordered on the way, which shouldn’t have been a problem which is exactly what I told him. He told me that it would be ready at seven o’clock, so I timed my leaving the house perfectly and pulled up in front of the restaurant at precisely that time, for I’m nothing if not punctual. I went in and paid for the two medium pizzas, eighteen dollars exactly and signed the receipt, waiting for my pizza. The cashier looked in the warming bag behind her, pulling out two medium pizzas, before deciding that something was wrong and pushing them back into the bag, completely out of sight. I knew there was a problem, because typically that’s how things work at pizza hut; you order pizza, and you get a problem, although she didn’t tell me this right away.

The cashier disappeared to the back, and shortly after returned to the counter with a one toothed woman who appeared, all appearances aside, to be the manager. They whispered back in forth, the two previously mentioned pizzas making another appearance as one explained to the other what was going on, and still all of this was happening without anyone saying a word to me. Finally, after a few minutes, the singularly toothed thorn in my heel stepped forward to the counter and addressed me for the first time, informing me that guess what, there was a problem. Apparently the two pizzas that I was supposed to be picking up were given away to another customer, and this other customer’s pizzas were the ones that kept being pulled in and out of the hot bag. She said it would take no more than ten minutes to remake the pizzas, but my old bias against Pizza Hut had been building up as soon as I knew there was a problem, so I told her I just wanted my money back and if I decided to reorder the pizza I would come back in and do so, my thinking being that I would call my dad and we could nix this whole plan altogether and find a pizza place that wasn’t so prone to constant screw ups.

The manager turned and asked the cashier how I paid, because apparently for some reason asking the person standing right in front of her who had actually made the payment didn’t occur to her. The cashier told her I paid with my card, and that is when the manager informed me, saying that it wasn’t possible to give cash back on a card purchase. I found it absurd that I could not get my money back; my online banking app already showed the money taken from my account, so why couldn’t she just give me eighteen dollars in cash and let me be on my way? “That’s not possible.” That was the phrase she kept hissing at me from behind the tooth, as if I were asking her to suddenly sprout wings and fly away. Stubbornly, I once again asked for my money back, and then the genie gave me three options; I could get a credit for the amount I spent, redeemable at any area pizza hut, she could tell her manager tomorrow, who in turn would contact the corporate headquarters and would make a decision on whether or not to return my money in five to seven business days, or I could wait ten minutes for them to remake the pizzas. I slightly raised my hands in an act of show, asked what choice did I have, and told her I would be waiting outside until the pizzas were remade.

Ten minutes later on the nose I walked back into the Pizza Hut, ready to claim my prize. In the time I sat waiting in the car, I watched a guy walk in, not be helped at the counter for five minutes, and angrily leave, so at least I can take solace in knowing I’m not the only person afflicted by the terrible service that seems to be a requirement of all their franchises. I did have to wait a few minutes for my pizzas to be finished, given that the people who actually make the pizzas aren’t that great at estimating how long it will take to make them, but finally I got them and was about to leave, when suddenly a thought occurred to me. These people were very unhelpful and were basically holding my eighteen dollars hostage. In all the jobs I’ve worked at, including a few months at a pizza place, we bent over backwards to make our customers happy, going above and beyond especially when someone was unhappy, giving out free cheesy bread or giving the products to them free of charge, but none of these conciliatory offerings were tossed in my direction, so I asked the manager if I could have a two liter drink for my troubles. She rolled her eyes and said yes; victory was mine, the big winner of a two liter Pepsi for thirty minutes of my time. Suffice it to say, I will not be returning to Pizza Hut anytime soon.

Ginny Lane: Terrible Tacos

IMG_3785Repeat after me; go with what you know. It seems pretty simple enough, but it’s something I tend to forget, especially when eating at restaurants that I’ve been to before. If I eat somewhere and have something that is great, I my mind does this crazy thing where it decides that everything else there must be just as good, despite this rarely ever being the case no matter how many times I disappoint myself, which unfortunately happens to me quite a bit, most likely because i’m an idiot that doesn’t learn his lesson. Last month, when I was on a family vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama, I made this critical mistake at a restaurant I loved, and it turned out just as terrible as the rest of the times I did this. Here’s the story.

Ginny Lane happens to be one of my favorite restaurants on the Gulf Coast, so while we were down there for a week it was imperative that we go eat there, so one afternoon, my wife and I went. They gave me a menu, which is where the problems started, so I guess I can safely blame them for everything, because up until that moment, I knew exactly what I was going to eat. I’ve been to many restaurants in that area, and I can tell you with all sincerity that Ginny Lane has the absolute fried shrimp that I’ve ever eaten on the Gulf Coast, which is saying something as you can’t toss a seashell in any direction without hitting a seafood restaurant. The whole drive to the restaurant I was thinking about the shrimp, but once the menu was placed before me, I began to look at some of the other options, thinking that blackened fish tacos would be fantastic. They were not.

The food arrived pretty quickly, and I immediately regretted my decision when I saw that the three tacos were in one of those three slotted metallic devices that are intended to keep the tacos upright. Surely I’m not the only person who hates these right? They’re great until you take a bite of the taco then you run into the problem of needing to set it down but the bitten tortilla never fits cleanly back into it’s slot, and contents of the taco inevitably spill out onto the taco holder. It’s a disaster, but determined not to let that bother me, I began my meal. For me there is no better seafood than blackened fish that is freshly caught, but unfortunately this particular restaurant sinfully overcooked it, giving it an almost chewy texture. The other huge downside that there was way more lettuce and tomatoes on the taco than the really small portion of fish, which didn’t really matter since the fish wasn’t that good to begin with. My wife ordered the same thing, and she was just as displeased with her tacos as I was, so suffice it to say, it was a pretty terrible meal. Hopefully I’ll learn my lesson moving forward and stick to ordering things that I know are great.