Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Now We're Cookin'

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone again.  I hope you had a wonderful holiday.  I know I did.  We had a smaller gathering this year.  It was my parents, my brother Trevor, my brother Kyle with his family, and Christian, Kirsten and myself.  That’s it, ten people.  It has been a long time since we have had a holiday meal with just us.  I have nothing against my extended family, but it was nice.  I really enjoyed it.

Kirsten and I drove back home to Moweaqua later that night.  My wonderful mother packed us some leftovers to take home which I got into first thing the next morning.  That was when the seriousness of our situation really hit home.  We still do not have a microwave.

If you know me or follow my blog, then you are probably aware that we only moved here a month ago.  Because our last move was into my parents’ fully furnished house, we gave most of our stuff away for that move.  Therefore, when we made this move, we had to locate new stuff.  This isn’t really much of a problem.  We have already acquired a dining room set, dresser drawers, a computer desk and various other things to fill our apartment.  There are some things we don’t have yet.  Our television sits on the floor since we have no entertainment center.  I will get one eventually, but it is not at the top of my priority list.  We also don’t have beds, a couch, or a desk for Kirsten.

The microwave was one of those things that we knew we would eventually get, but could live without in the meantime.  However, it did not take long to rethink this strategy.  We moved here on a Saturday, ate out for lunch, and grabbed a frozen pizza from the local market for supper that evening.  The next day, after church, we needed to put some groceries in the apartment.  I got directions to the nearest Wal-Mart (we needed more than food) and we were on our way.

Once at the store we made a beeline for the grocery section and began hungrily filling our cart.  After about 30 minutes, Kirsten made a profound observation, “How is the shredded cheese going to melt on the burritos?  We don't have a microwave.”  That was a good point.  I hadn’t considered that yet.  Obviously, it couldn’t.  It then occurred to me that we had a problem and not just with the cheese.

After 30 minutes of shopping we had many items in our cart; eggs, milk, frozen burritos, breakfast cereal, lunchmeat, soup, bread, various condiments, Hot Pockets (love them), shredded cheese, etc.  We began to look through our plunder at what foods would be useless to have without the convenience of a microwave.
 
Now before I get started, please note that I do cook.  We do eat vegetables and I am pretty handy with a crock pot, but there are many foods and between-meal snacks that are just designed (or easier) for a microwave.  I had no idea how much we take this appliance for granted until we started digging through the foods in our cart.

Ham & Cheese are best
The first to go back was the burritos and I have missed them.  They are so quick to make and taste so good with the cheese melted over them and topped with sour cream.  They are great for a quick bite or a late-night snack.  But they had to go back in the frozen food aisle, which also meant we didn’t need the cheese or sour cream any longer.  The frozen waffles had to go back as well since we don’t own a toaster either, which now means we have no use for the maple syrup.  I even had to put back my HOT POCKETS.  This was getting ridiculous.

I suddenly began to realize that I would need to modify my shopping list in order to accommodate this change.  I didn’t realize how much of a difference it would make.  I then looked through my list and began crossing things off: NO Easy Mac, NO microwave popcorn, NO pre-made breakfast sandwiches, NO chicken taquitos, NO instant anything.  I could still buy meat, but since I can no longer take advantage of the microwave defrost feature I would now have to employ the antiquated practice of remembering to get it out the night before to thaw so I am not cooking a brick.

After taking back the items that we could not use we refilled the cart with food that could be prepared without a microwave.  We paid for everything, loaded it in the van, and drove home without speaking.  Kirsten was fighting back tears over the loss of her burritos and I wept openly while mourning my Hot Pockets.

Over the next few weeks we began to adjust, but life was never normal.  We made the best of it until Thanksgiving.  That brings us back to where this blog started.  I woke up the morning after Thanksgiving dinner and headed to the fridge to get at those leftovers.  Now, I am willing to eat turkey cold, but dressing and mashed potatoes must be reheated.  The microwave situation had just hit a new urgency.  I refused to live like this any longer.

These ladies really get into the spirit of the day.
I got Kirsten out of bed to inform her we were going into town to find a microwave.  She fearfully reminded me that we could not leave the house because it was Black Friday.  I had forgotten about that, but was willing to risk it.  Four hours later, after fighting with brawling Grandmas and determined soccer moms, we were firing up our new microwave and enjoying Thanksgiving dinner all over again.  We also bought new groceries.  I have my Hot Pockets once again.  Plus, because it was Black Friday, I only paid $54.99 for the microwave. 

Christmas came early this year.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ready for the Groundhog

We have had some fantastic weather this week. It is the middle of November and it has been in the mid-70’s all week. I have enjoyed walking across town to escort my daughter home from school. The windows have been open in the apartment and a nice breeze has been flowing through. I could hear the sound of children playing outside. This morning, however, I woke up to an overcast sky and a temperature of 38 degrees. I checked the Weather Channel website and it forecasts the high for today at only 52 degrees. The 10-day forecast predicts 62 degrees for one day next week, but 40’s and 50’s the rest of the time. This can only mean one thing, but I really don’t want to admit it. I think winter is coming.

I hate winter. Actually, the word 'hate' may not capture what I want to say; I loathe winter. Despise. Abhor. Deprecate. Detest. You can pick your favorite verb here, I really do not care for winter. I don’t like the icy roads, the constant and very real danger of slipping and breaking a bone, the extra preparation and supplies to keep in the car, the increased utility bills, the snow shoveling, the snow getting tracked into the house, the salt build-up on my vehicle, the need for extra clothing, the increased commute time, and the COLD.

Fresh Snowfall in So. IL (2001)
Many people claim that winter is pretty; that the snow covering everything is beautiful.  I will argue that it is not.  When I lived in Puerto Rico, my brother sent me a picture of his backyard so I could see what I was missing. I don't know what feeling this was supposed to give me, but I don't think it worked.  I really didn't miss it at all.  It didn't bother me in the least that I wasn't there to see it.  While he was having to dig his car out of his driveway and spend money on tire chains, I was less than a mile from the beach and eating mangoes on my front porch.  Can you see the difference?  Do you really think I was upset that I had missed the scenery of the backyard?

Laiya Beach in San Juan (2001)


DO NOT ENTER - TOO PRETTY
Let's make a snowman!
While I can give some (although limited) appreciation for the beauty of fresh, fallen snow; it has some serious limitations.  The beautiful places are generally uninterrupted by people (i.e. open fields, mountains, Antarctica, Zac Efron movies).  However, those are also not places in which people have to function.  When the snow falls where we have to live and work it is not nearly as breath-taking.  It is much more than just not pretty, it is a real hassle to have to contend with.  How many times in the winter have you gone out to your car to leave for work or school just to discover it will take an extra 20 minutes to get out of the driveway because of the previous night's weather?  Or maybe you planned ahead and dug a path in the driveway the night before, but woke up the next morning to find that snowplows clearing the roads had buried the last six feet of your driveway under two feet of snow and rock that is now frozen. Or maybe you are running late for work because your car door was frozen shut.  After fighting Jack Frost for half an hour (or longer) you now have to brave the condition of the roads caused by this beautiful landscape.

NO THANK YOU!!

As if walking in this treacherous, slippery landscape wasn't enough, you must do it with limited mobility due to the extra weight and restrictive clothing required to survive.  To get through the winter we have to wear coats, thermal underwear, nonskid (and waterproof) boots, scarves, stocking caps, earmuffs, gloves and other various miscellaneous items.  A family of four has to get up an extra 90 minutes early in the morning just to get everyone dressed.  

Winter clothing choices cannot be taken lightly.  For example, when choosing gloves you have 2 choices: you can either (a) keep you hands warm, or (b) move your fingers.  It is up to you to decide which is more important.

There is still the worst part of winter to contend with: the COLD.  Some days it is so bad it takes your breath away as soon as you step out the door.  You must dress appropriately if you want to survive your excursion out of the house.  If you go overboard and dress too warmly you will start to sweat.  The perspiration could then freeze and crack your face exposing your brain to the elements.  If you do not wear enough clothing (or choose something that doesn't break the wind, isn't waterproof, or gives easy access for bathroom breaks) then you run the risk of various winter ailments.  You could get hypothermia, pneumonia, frostbite, or Mad Cow Disease.  Midwestern Mothers are always warning their children to wear a hat over their ears because if the ears get too cold they could freeze solid causing them to break off if the child turns his head too quickly.  Every winter numerous fingers and toes are lost to frostbite, not to be found again until the early spring thaw.  Unfortunately, by then they are too soggy to do anything with.

As much as I hate this season, I think I am ready.  I have stocked up on soup and coffee and have signed up for all online courses for my college classes.  I am not leaving this apartment until March.  And that will only be to get umbrellas, raincoats, and a canoe, because it will then be time for the torrential spring rains.  I hate spring.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Big Changes

WOW!!!  I haven't blogged in 15 days.  I really enjoy writing my blog, but I have been really busy the last two weeks.  I will get into more detail in future blogs, but I will tell briefly what I have been doing.  My daughter and I have moved to a new town 100 miles from our last one, I am starting a new job in a few weeks, and I have registered for school so I will be a 39 year old full-time college student starting Monday.   So, I legitimately have been really busy.  Plus, I just got Internet in my new apartment yesterday.

There has been plenty to take up our time, besides the usual moving nuisances.  We got most of our stuff unpacked the first night we were here, but still have some things in boxes since we haven't set up the apartment yet (i.e. put together the bookcase, don't own a dining room table, haven't located the coffee pot, etc.).  Kirsten enjoys her new school and has made several friends already.  We really like our new church and have met dozens of families around the community there.

So now we are learning all the new things we need to know here.  Since Moweaqua is a small town of 2,000, many of the things we need are outside of town.  Decatur is 30 miles north, Springfield is 40 miles west, Shelbyville (much smaller, but has a Wal-Mart) is 25 miles southeast.  These are not vast distances, but they are far enough away I need to plan ahead.  When I lived in Dix if I didn’t have something I needed it was no big deal.  I would be in Mt. Vernon the next day and could grab it.  Mt. Vernon was 8 miles away and I went there every day anyway.  That is not the case here.  I now have a minimum of 50 mile round trip.  Once again, the distance is not a bad thing.  I just need to plan ahead since we will no longer be making those impromptu trips to the store.

Unlike most people, I love moving into a new town and making new friends at my new church and working at my new job.  Yes, I left some old friends behind, but they are still my friends and now I will have some more.  There is one couple that lives here that I was friends with in college and I am excited to get to spend time with them again, but also look forward to the new relationships that will be formed.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Are You Ready for Some Football?...'Cause I'm Not

After a long, hard week working in the tire factory, it is finally Friday.  I could not be more happy for the weekend.  I just got paid, I have two days off, I just got the news I have been waiting for about a new job, and the Eagles are playing the Titans on Sunday.

So, guess what I will be doing on Sunday afternoon.  I will help you.  I may be reading a book, walking around the mall, or wasting time on Facebook.  I will not be watching the Eagles game.  I also will not be watching the Saints, Patriots, Bills, Cowboys, Jaguars or Steelers.  What do I have against these teams?  Nothing.  I just don’t watch football.  What do I have against football?  Nothing.  I just have no interest.  None.

I have never had any interest in football.  Or baseball.  Or basketball.  Or any other sport.  I just don’t care.  Sports do nothing for me.  When I see those big emotional documentaries on Babe Ruth, Joe Namath, or Mickey Mantle, or footage of the Immaculate Reception, I can’t help but think, “It’s just a game.”  What’s the big deal?

I didn’t grow up in a sports family.  We didn’t watch the games on TV or go play baseball in the yard.  I did play Little League when I was in grade school.  I even tried out for basketball when I was in the fourth grade, but even then it wasn’t because I loved sports.  I did it because,…well, it’s what my friends were doing.  I even had fun playing baseball in the summer, but it’s because I was a kid and I was playing.  Playing is what kids like to do, but I would have been just as happy playing anything.

As an adult, I really don’t understand the fascination with a bunch of guys who throw a ball around.  I am not saying anything against sports fans.  They enjoy it and that’s great; I just don’t understand it.  A man goes to see his favorite team play.  Let’s say the Rams, since I am so close to St. Louis.  There are some good plays, some lousy calls by the refs, and in the end the Rams win (or lose).  Now, I understand the entertainment of watching the game, but when it’s over, it’s over.  The number went up in either the W or the L column.  What difference does it make?  If they keep winning and make it to the Super Bowl, even win it, what difference does it make?  Whether they win or lose, they will be back again to play next year.  To be so into the game that arguments break out in bars and living rooms over whether the coach should be kept or which players should be traded is beyond me.

Once again, I want to state that I have nothing against the people that are huge fans, not even the ones who paint their whole body the team colors and wear crazy hats.  If this is what some people want to put their time and energy into, that is fine by me.  I am sure there are many people out there who do not understand my extreme interest in computers, reading, and photography.  Those are the things I like to do, and could easily burn an entire weekend in front of my computer or reading.  So, I have nothing against sports or the people who follow or play them.  I just don’t get into it myself.

However, there is one thing about many sports fans that makes me want to take up cage fighting so I can make them tap out.  Why is it that if I don’t know the name of the Bears’ quarterback or the shortstop for the Pirates in 2006, I am suddenly not a man, at least, not one from this planet?  I have tolerated the endless discussions about the rivalry between Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon with my best smile, but as soon as I cannot participate in the conversation with any knowledge on the matter, I feel like I am being shunned.  “You don’t follow NASCAR?  What do you do on Sundays?”  The next question is the worst one.  “So what sport DO you follow?  Football, baseball, golf, soccer, MMA fighting, dodge ball, competitive bass fishing?”  It is unheard of that I don’t follow any sport.  Once I confess this dirty little secret, there is usually several minutes of silence while they try to think of what we could possibly talk about if sports is off the table.

I first noticed this prejudice in high school.  Near the end of my senior year, my school hosted a Sports Appreciation meal.  It was a rather simple affair.  The school ordered several dozen pizzas for the sports participants of the school.  Of course, the basketball and baseball players were all there.  I walked in with my team and the partiers of the room stopped and stared.  “What are you guys doing here?”  You see, the team I was on was the Scholastic Bowl.  We competed against other schools in academic challenges.

As far as we were concerned, we should be part of the meal.  What we did was a sport.  We would compete with 5-person teams and two alternates.  There was a countdown timer and we kept score (unlike cheerleaders, who were at the meal).  Our matches had officials (like referees), we practiced three times a week and traveled to our different meets.  It was very competitive.  Sounds like a sport to me.

We hadn’t even been invited to participate, but our coach found out about it and decided we should crash the party.  We got a lot of dirty looks and nasty comments, but we didn’t mind.  We just wanted the pizza.  Maybe if we threw balls at the opposing teams while they answered we would have gotten more respect.

So, this Sunday, if you invite me over to watch the game and I say, “No, thank you,” know that it is nothing against you.  It’s just that if you want me to sit through three hours of sports talk and watching people yell at a TV then you need to have some really good snacks.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Family Reunion (Shurtz & Skins)

This afternoon Kirsten and I went to our family reunion. This was the Shurtz reunion. Shurtz is the maiden name of my father's mother (my grandmother Margaret). My grandmother was one of several (I forget how many) children. I am thinking it was about 7 or 8. This reunion was for all her brother's and sister's descendants. This is the first time we have gotten together in about 15 years. I don't know why we stopped the yearly tradition. We used to have one every summer and I looked forward to seeing my family that I usually only saw at this function. It was great, but it stopped suddenly and it took over a decade to make it happen again. However, now it is different.

Because we haven't seen each other in so long, I really didn't know who anybody was. I knew a few of them, but they were the ones that had lived close enough that we saw each other all the time growing up. Since they were part of my childhood, I obviously knew them. But that only applied to about a dozen of the people there. The other 90% of the crowd had to be explained to me by my parents. We had many conversations similar to this one (names changed to keep from offending).

ME: "Who was that woman taking pictures of me?"
MOM: "That's Sarah."
ME: "Who's that?"
MOM: "You know, Duane's wife."
ME: "Who is Duane?
MOM: "Brett, come on, tell me you remember. Duane is Gladys' second son."
ME: "So Gladys had two sons?"
MOM: "No, she had four. Three with her first husband and one with her second."
ME: "So, who is Gladys?"
MOM: "She's not here, she died in 2005."
ME: "Sorry to hear that, but who is she?"
MOM: "Your grandmother's sister."
ME: "Which one?"
MOM: "Brett, your father only had one mother. Which one do you think?"
ME: "I KNOW THAT! Which sister was she?"
MOM: "The one named GLADYS!"

So, needless to say, I still don't know who that woman taking pictures of me was, but she seemed to know me and my parents. So, I assume she was part of the family, but I honestly don't know how. I talked to several second and third-cousins about how we do not know any of the people in this room. Most of the time, I didn't know the cousin I was talking to. We would introduce ourselves, and sometimes explain whose kid or grandkid we were. The older people would always ask, so they could place us properly in the family tree, but the younger ones never asked. I think we were just happy to get to visit with someone without having to validate why we were allowed to be in the room.

Despite being surrounded by all these long lost relatives, my brothers and I (who live within a mile of each other) sat together when we started eating. I had a brother (Kyle and Trevor) on each side of me. Kyle's wife sat across from him. My daughter, Kirsten, sat across from me with Kyle's sons (Gage and Isaac) on each side of her. My aunt Claudia, my dad's sister, sat next to Trevor. We sat and told stories like we always do when we get together and had a very good time.

I really enjoyed eating in the same room as all the other Shurtz clan and cannot wait until next year when we can do it again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Problem with Russian Literature

I love to read.  I am reading something everyday.  Books, magazines, newspapers, comics, Internet anything: I have read it.  I even read the video game booklet before playing the game.  It drives my kids nuts.  I just love to read.  I am usually reading about 3 books at one time.  I keep one to read at work, I have one by my bed, and I have one in the car.  So, needless to say, I consider myself a fairly well-read person.

That opinion came to an end a few months ago.  I was perusing the library again for my newest literary conquest and found an interesting book, "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die"  by Peter Boxall.


Being the bibliophile that I am, I was immediately interested.  I thumbed through it in the library to see what classics I may have missed.  To my surprise, there were quite a few books I had never read.  So, I checked out the book for further investigation.  For the next four days, anytime I was in front of the television, I was typing the books into my laptop (not knowing the list is already on the Internet here and dozens of other places).  I had decided that if these were the best books ever written, according to the critics that contributed to the book, then I wanted to read them all.  Once I got them all typed in, I soaked my fingers for a few hours, then I began to eliminate the ones I had already read, so I could make the list smaller.  When I was done the list was down to 952.

952? 

How could that be? I have read approximately two books per week since I learned how to read. This is impossible. I began to go through a mental checklist of the books I have been reading, and I realized that for the last several years, I have not been reading books that would ever be considered classics of literature. I have read hundreds of political commentaries, books on law and psychology, Christian social commentaries, and the works of Stephen King. I realized that although I had read a huge number of books, I typically just read whatever sounded good to me at the time. I am not saying that was a bad thing. That is probably how most people choose their next book to read. Well, no more. I decided to expand my reading repertoire.

I changed my attitude. Instead of being disgusted at how few of the classics I had read, I became excited about the huge list of books I now had in my future. So I dove in. One of the first ones I read was "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath. I read it one day at work and finished it that night. I wasn't sure what to think of it. It is an autobiographical piece from Plath. She has what many would call a wonderful life and isn't even twenty yet. She is an aspiring writer, has been given a scholarship to intern at a magazine in New York, is going to all the fancy places paid for by the magazine and just isn't happy. She is disconnected from life, tries to kill herself and ends up in an institution. Apparently, Plath is heralded as being one of the great American woman writers and is inspiring to many young women. I don't get it. She did write well, but where was the inspiring part. She constantly talked about suicide and eventually did it in real life. Not my sort of book, but I got to mark it off the list.

I read "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandré Dumas. Excellent book. I was already familiar with the story, but had never read it. I look forward to "The Three Musketeers" by him also. Next was "Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut which is basically about a WWII soldier who survives being a POW, starts a successful business after the war, and starts a family. Then, the aliens come and abduct him to the planet Tralfamadore, where he is thrown in a zoo-type structure to be gawked at by the residents there. He is forced to breed with another Earthling, who happens to be a big movie star in Hollywood. After that, it gets kind of strange.

So, I was getting books marked off of my list, but I was not looking forward to all of them. I noticed there were several books by Fyodor Dostoevsky, an 19th century Russian author who wrote most of his books while imprisoned in Siberia. A few years ago I read his book "Crime and Punishment." It was not an enjoyable experience. In a nutshell, the main character, Raskolnikov, decides to rob and murder an old woman. He does so, also killing her half-sister. Then spends the next 800 pages feeling guilty. I hated that book and even had trouble keeping track of the different characters. In Russia, your name changes depending on who is speaking to you. To give you an idea how complicated this can get, I found a webpage (click here) that explains it. Here, my name is Brett to everyone. Occasionally, I am called Mr. Minor. That's about as complicated as it gets. Not in Russia. Check the link for a moment to get an idea of what I am talking about.

When reading a book with several characters, it is important for the reader to keep the different characters straight in order to avoid confusion.  Being raised in the U.S., I am accustomed to names like William, Robert and Susan.  Dostoevsky has characters named Parfen Rogozhin, Dmitri Prokofitch Razumihin, Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov, and Pavel Fyodorovitch Smerdyakov. When not being accustomed to these types of names and there are three dozen characters with such names, it gets difficult to keep track of who did what. Add to that the fact that everyone's name changes according to who is speaking to them, it gets even worse. A man is not addressed by an acquaintance with the same name his mother would use for him. It is even a different name for a business associate. Even the middle and last names change determined by whether the name is being used for a legal purpose or casually.

Therefore, I suffered though the book, not know what was going on half of the time. Add to that the fact that every character is so long-winded with everything they have to say. A character could go on for four pages just asking for a cup of tea. But now, I have to read five more Dostoevsky novels to complete my list. So, I decided to get them out of the way.

I have now read "Notes from the Underground", "The Brothers Karamazov", and am half-way through "The Idiot."  I have to admit, they have gotten better.  I had to get used to his writing, but I am coming to appreciate it.  Most of the characters seem to be insane, much like the author, but they are fun to watch.

I still have over 900 books left on my list and I have discovered there are groups of people who have decided to try to read all these books as well.  They have even started book discussion groups online.  So, I know I am not crazy for trying this.  Party at my house when I have finished the last one.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Feeling Pretty Good Today

I was quite impressed with the profile numbers today.  My first post went up about 24 hours ago and it has had 87 views already.  Of course, I have to mention that I posted it to my Facebook page twice begging people to go look at it.  Either way, it was good for my ego.  Not that my ego is suffering.  I believe it is very healthy and a few people have told me so, but that just made it stronger because it was noticed.  I try to keep it in check, but it often walks the line between healthy ego and acute arrogance.  Most the time I am not paying attention and just let it do it's own thing, trusting that it will behave itself.  But, like a spoiled child, it only looks out for itself.

I am aware of the fact that I come off as arrogant quite often.  I don't mean to do it and don't speak as often as I would like to for fear that I will dominate the conversation or even be condescending.  I sit quietly in Sunday School and meetings at work most of the time.  I do speak up, but try to keep my comments to the point and let other people speak.  I know this is what people are supposed to do anyway (it is just polite conversation), but I have to really concentrate to make this happen.  I have to fight with the great pride I feel in how much I know.  My mind retains information easily and it makes me feel that I am more intelligent than other people.  I know this isn't true, but it is still a struggle.  I find it hard to even explain this without sounding like I am bragging about how smart I think I am.

So, with that said, I guess I am warning my readers once again about the statements that I may make in my blog.  For now, know that I can easily slip into arrogant jerk mode and I am sometimes not aware that I have done it until afterward.  However, that is me.  I stated that I wanted to be genuine in my writings, so I will try not to edit it out too much.  I am not making excuses for my attitude.  I do understand that it is wrong.  However, it should not be a surprise to anyone that I understand this.  After all, I am brilliant.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Bit About Me to Get Started

My name is Brett Minor and I welcome you to my blog.  Being my first blog and first time to this site, I haven't really figured it all out yet.  Therefore the formatting and colors and backgrounds will be changing a bit at first until I get it worked out the way I want it and know how it all works.

First off, I want to express my purpose with this blog.  I intend to be genuine and real with my readers (if I ever have any), and want to have fun with this.  My blog will demonstrate my sometimes sick sense of humor, my sarcasm, and various observations and frustrations with life in general.  Knowing that about me, I also want it known that I am a Bible-Believing, Jesus-Following, On-My-Knees-Praying Christian.  I love the Lord Jesus and am not ashamed of it.  However, I ask that my readers be aware of the fact that I am human.  I have more than my share of faults and I am not perfect.  So, please have understanding when you read something that may not sound Christian.  It may be my sense of humor showing through, which as I stated earlier, can be twisted at times.  It may also be my broken human side being genuinely displayed in my writing.  I do have struggles and hardships and would like to be able to openly share them without timidity.  Please do not judge me too harshly and let's have some fun with this.

The Transformed Non-Conformist refers to  Romans 12:2, which reads, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

I do not have a theme in mind for my future postings.  I expect this blog to slowly take shape as I write each time.  I may give my take on a book or movie I just finished.  I may make a statement about politics or even (gasp) religion.  It may just be my rambling for the day.  I may even recall stories from my youth or just yesterday.  I do not intend to preach or evangelize from this blog, although I do intend to speak what is on my mind that day.  That means that some days I will talk about Jesus, or morals, or church, or the stupid thing my neighbor did.  I have no idea where this is going to go.  I do know you will get to know me through this experience.

To help you get to know me, for my first post, I have compiled a list of things about me.

  • I just turned 39 and still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.
  • My favorite show is still "Boy Meets World."
  • I am an ordained minister, in fact, I have been ordained twice.
  • I despise cold weather.
  • I am a huge fan of Asian horror movies.
  • I consider myself a bit of a photographer and enjoy using Photoshop.
  • Both of my grandfathers died before I was born.
  • I was a school administrator and pastor in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • I love eating exotic food and will try anything.  ANYTHING.
  • For the record, I do NOT find Hilary Swank attractive.
  • I have three tattoos.
  • I have flown over the Bermuda Triangle 8 times.  Nothing freaky ever happened.
  • I hate anime.  I have tried several times.  I just can't do it.
  • I have two red-headed ex-wives.
  • I have had my ears gauged up to Double Zero. (3/8 inches).  They are back to normal now.
  • I have wasted hundreds of hours on Facebook.
  • I firmly believe 80% of any person's problems were caused by their own choices.
  • I love to travel and see new places, even if it is a short trip.
  • At one point in my life, I was a church pastor and professional body piercer in a tattoo shop at the same time.
  • I am greatly irritated by mispronounced or misspelled words.  I can't help it.  (If you ever find a misspelled word in my blog, please let me know, so I can fix it.)
  • I have never experimented with illegal drugs.  Not even once.
  • I count my steps when I walk, but I start over at 8.  I don't know why.
  • I used to have TiVo, but I don't anymore.  It is killing me.
  • I have never broken a bone. (None of mine anyway.)
  • I would never shave again if I didn't have to.  I hate shaving.
  • I like to play the stock market, but I never make any money.
  • I have never owned a Nintendo anything, but I worked for them for one weekend.
  • I am a Quentin Tarantino fanatic; except for "Death Proof."  I didn't care for that one.
  • I have a thing for girls wearing hats.
  • I have seen the sun rise and set over the ocean.  I preferred the sunset.
  • I can't wait until I have gray hair.  I think it looks distinguished.
  • I am allergic to artificial scents: perfumes, scented candles, etc.
  • I love studying and going to school.  I would be a professional student if I could make a living at it.
  • I am unusually good at recalling useless trivia.
  • The 1976 song "Afternoon Delight" makes me physically ill.  Always has.
  • I buy a couple of board games every year because they look like fun and then never play them.
  • Jobs I have had: waiter, EPA municipal water tester, emcee for Nintendo, house painter, 911 Dispatcher, veterinarian assistant, owner of tattoo shop, biscuit-maker, door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, bartender, body piercer, pastor, cell phone technician.
  • It has taken me 14 years to complete my Bachelor's Degree.
I am still learning who I am and look forward to this experience to share it.