If I Can Be Serious for a Moment…

No really.  I’m going to be serious.

I don’t like to talk about my job on the blog…but I had a phone call today that I feel the need to share.  I’m not breaking any confidences or saying anything bad…so I think this’ll be okay.

Part of what I do at work is try to find people to go out and appraise (usually auto) damages in areas where there aren’t a lot of appraisers.  Nine times out of ten, it’s not a problem, and we find someone and do awesome work for people who need it.  Fortunately I was able to find an adjuster for the call I took today as well…but that’s not what’s sticking in my mind.  What’s sticking in my mind is the setting.

Today, I had to dispatch a claim in the tornado-devastated state of Alabama.

If you somehow missed it, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, and Tennessee suffered storms of pretty much Biblical proportions this past week.  It makes the five tornadoes that hit St. Louis on Good Friday look like a Spring shower.  Hundreds are dead.  Thousands displaced.  And the full death-toll might not even be complete yet.  (In St. Louis, there were no confirmed serious injuries due to the tornadoes, much less deaths.)  I heard about that on the news like everyone else, and thought, “That’s a shame,” but it didn’t really register until I was talking to an adjuster who freaking LIVES there today.  (And someone who was lucky enough to have phone service, no less.)

Her voice was noticeably shaky when I asked how hard her area was hit by the tornadoes.  Suddenly, we weren’t talking about my day-to-day job getting vehicles inspected anymore.  It’s still ringing in my ears, “We’re okay here, but you can’t even get into Tuscaloosa yet.  They’re still going through there with the cadaver dogs.”

I’d never heard the term “cadaver dog” before.  It’s exactly what you think it is.

The fact that we were able to talk business after that is nothing short of astounding.  The only way we got through it was that (thank God) I’m human enough that I cared about her story and (thank God again), she was human enough to know that our jobs help people.  That’s what we do.  We help people.  In times even like these, we help people.

So…

I guess what I’m saying is this.  Try to be good to each other.  People died and they haven’t been found yet.  And you’re alive, and so am I, and we owe each other kindness.

Okay?

Sorry about the political thing that starts out this post…but parts of it get funny later.

Got a few things on my mind..so we’re going to do a Random post.

  1. Well, in case you haven’t heard, President Obama has now released his full birth certificate.  (And surprise, surprise, he’s an American!)  I have a few points on this, because up until now I’ve been trying to be polite in not weighing in…but following the response of the handful of tea (or is it KoolAid?) drinking idiots who caused this mess in the first place, I feel like I’ve finally got to say something…sorry for the rant…
    1. This is unprecedented in American politics.  The people who kept asking him to prove his citizenship should not only be embarrassed, but ASHAMED.  They didn’t have a leg to stand on to begin with, but now that even their prosthetics have been stripped from them, there is no contrite retraction, there is no polite admission of defeat, there is no declaration of “well at least he DID it.”  Instead there are people saying, “…it only proves that he’s a BAD American *faaaaaart*” and then criticizing him for referring to this whole thing as “silliness.”  Which actually seems a fairly polite word for it.  Others that come to mind are “bullshit” and “white-bread racism.”  But Obama took the high road…and though I’ve been trying to do the same in the past few years (sometimes failing), I find it hard to do on this one.
    2. This is an issue that when it’s come up has made me very, very angry.  The fact that America has come to this is disgusting.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that we live in a country in which we can hold our leaders accountable—that’s great.  But when we can made blind, ignorant, and (yes) racist accusations and then continue to do so even when proven wrong, just because we now have the ability to hide behind the fear caused by 9/11 is deeply disturbing.  As long as we drape our comments in the 9/11 banner, we can make any accusation we want, up to and including “The President’s a terrorist!” (which is, let’s face it, what they were saying without saying it).  I have more than once found myself reading posts on Facebook with my hands shaking in anger, writing paragraphs of ranting that I have then deleted because I refuse to be as shitty a person as those who hurl these accusations in the first place.  And that’s not a country or a world I want to live in.  I guess change starts at home…but I’m starting to feel homeless, despite the fact that my preferred political party is in the White House.
    3. I also don’t like that when we who call it as we see it muster the balls to refer to this as racism, pure and simple, we get accused of “playing the race card” and are dismissed.  First off, I’m a white, middle-class, male.  I don’t have a race card to play.  But beyond that.  What the hell IS this if not racism?  Obama was nothing but clear about his parentage from moment one.  When pressed, he provided a legal document of the kind that the federal government accepts as valid for such things as obtaining a social security number, obtaining a passport, joining the military, etc etc…  Then he is still subjected to accusations of being a foreign devil (just like that bastard Brit Washington!)…and why?  Because of the nature of his birth and the color of his skin.  That is racism.  If you have participated in those actions, you have behaved as a racist behaves.  And you have to deal with that.  (Note: That doesn’t necessarily mean that you ARE a racist…you may have just made a mistake.  It’s up to you to define who you are as a person.)
    4. I’m done on that subject now.  Again sorry for the ranting.  At least now all we have to deal with are the idiots who will go to their grave saying the certificate is photoshopped or forged…but then again, I also thought people would realize that Glenn Beck’s an idiot and Rush Limbaugh is a terrible human being by now.  So what do I know?  🙂
  2. I officially have a cold.  I’m beginning to sound like Tom Waits.  Don’t get me wrong…fundamentally that’s kind of awesome…but I feel like hell.  And thanks to some poor financial planning, I presently do not have the money for luxury items like medication.  (Come to think of it, even when I plan ahead and save I often don’t have that kind of money…)
  3. I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it yet…  But the Two Hangmen EP is done.  All we need to do is finish up the art on it (we discussed it on Tuesday and I’m going to have something semi-close to done by the weekend), make a bunch of copies, and start handing it out…or selling it…or whatever.  We’re also working on websites/Facebook pages/etc.  Should have plenty to report soon.
  4. I’ve been trying to put together a slide-show of some pics from the recent Two Hangmen photo-session, but I can’t get it to work right.  I’ll either post that or SOMETHING soon.  There’s a lot of stuff I want you all to see!
  5. Okay…  Time for a little cat-letting-out-of-bag…of…  (What?)  I’ve been working for a few weeks on recording some stuff for release through DerekBrink.com.  It started out as just an excuse to play around with my new (vintage) banjo, but exploded into a full-blown, seven-song folk EP.  Can’t quite justify selling it…but I’ll soon be posting it for download on the website.  I’m calling it “Wayne County” and I’m pretty excited about it.  It contains new and re-worked material, as well as one or two that might show up on/in future projects.  I’ll let you know when it goes “live.”  Right now, I’m just excited about it and wanted to mention it.  🙂  Here’s the track list (and a couple of small notes)…
    1. “Scars” — Original version appears on “Things I Meant to Say.” This is a new version, played on entirely acoustic instruments, with a new arrangement.
    2. “Born in this Town” — Original version appears on “Out from the Light.”  This is a new version with a lot of similarities, but it’s significantly scaled down and different enough to make it cool.
    3. “God’s Gonna Shut Your Mouth” — New, previously unreleased song.  Directed toward Fred Phelps and the Focus on the Family people (who are different groups but preach the same nonsense), and dedicated to the people whose lives they’ve ruined.
    4. “Outlaw” (Instrumental) — New, previously unreleased.
    5. “All My Ghosts” — New, previously unreleased.  And possibly one of the most intense lyrics I’ve ever written.
    6. “Nobody Has It All” — New, previously unreleased.
    7. “Just Another Day” — Previously played by Blue Tattoo, but unreleased (officially…so far).  Probably going to be done in Two Hangmen, but with a different arrangement.  Just kinda fit the project
  6. I found my Dentist’s bill.  It was stuck in with some other mail I hadn’t gotten rid of yet and I’d missed it.  So I called and made a payment that was a little bit higher than I was hoping it’d be.  (Hence the lack of funds for Sudafed.)  Just two more payments and these babies are mine!
  7. I just wanted to post a quick word about the Ferguson Church as they’re working to recover from their extensive tornado damage.  If you’re interested in helping them out financially or physically, please visit their website.  (I plan on donating a few bucks when I get my next paycheck.)  I mentioned in a previous post that there was some “unpleasantness” regarding my exit a few years ago.  And I just want to say that I don’t really feel any of that anymore.  I’m not sure I clearly communicated that last time.  Don’t get me wrong…I still don’t like what happened there.  And I didn’t like that my response at the time was a little bit out-bursty (although I still maintain justified).  It’s not the kind of thing where I could walk back in this week and become a member again…but I have long-since put any anger I felt to bed.  There was fault on all sides, including my own (and I don’t think I’ve ever claimed otherwise) and what happened happened.  But things like this put that all into perspective, and I just want to clearly say that before last Friday, I’d put probably 98% of my demons to bed regarding the whole thing, and after the tornado, I think I’m at 100% at peace with it now.  As I said in the days immediately following my departure, I continue to believe that we’re all basically good people…and good people need to help each other out in times like these.  Life’s too short and too fragile to hold on to that kind of thing.  Please do consider at least visiting their website and seeing what they’re about…then if you’re lead to, please consider throwing them $5 or so.  Every dollar helps and whatnot…
  8. I will be updating the Empty Checking page with some new reviews tomorrow, I think.
  9. They closed the bridge on Delmar for repairs.  Apparently it is in such a state that it needed to be done…which is fine.  But they did it with no warning.  I take (took) that to work every day, and I drove up to it on Monday morning only to find that I had to get back on the highway and find an alternate route.  That’s easy enough to do…but when you’re going to close access to a major road (which contains many struggling small businesses, ahem), maybe put a sign on the highway before people get to the off-ramp.
  10. I’ve been experiencing some trouble lately with some people interrupting me while I’m speaking (in mid-sentence).  I don’t want to go into detail…but I do want to say that I find that incredibly insulting and rude.  Even if you do know what I’m going to say (and I think if I’ve proven anything over time it’s that you NEVER know what I’m going to say!), it’s still just basic courtesy to let me say it before you start talking back.  So…don’t do that to people, okay?
  11. The tires on my car suck.  They’ve become unsafe to drive on in the rain.  If called upon to go forward or backward, they are basically reliable.  If called upon to make a turn, they are slightly dangerous.  If called upon to follow the slight curve of a highway, they are EXTREMELY dangerous!  That’s a recent development (like this week).  So I’ll have to do something about that very soon.  It rains a lot here.

And that’s all for now.  Sorry if this post’s a little moody.  I get pissy when I’m not feeling well.

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Comic Books Purchased 4/27/11:

  • Morning Glories – Issue # 9
  • Justice League: Generation Lost – Issue #24
  • Captain America – Issue #617
  • The Flash – Issue #11
  • FF – Issue #2

The purpose of this post title is to specifically get the “I’m getting closer to my home…” part of Grand Funk’s “I’m Your Captain” stuck in your head. Come on…sing it with me! “I’m getting closer to my home…”

So anyone who’s been paying attention on the blog (and/or Facebook) lately probably knows that I’m a big fan of “Deadliest Catch.”  Well, a few of the Captains from that show (Sig Hansen and the Hillstrand Brothers) are doing a tour of theatres and whatnot in what I imagine started out as an attempt at a tax write-off that became a good idea.  They’re coming to St. Louis and I’ve got my ticket.  (I’m very excited!)  From what I hear, there’s a Q&A section to the show, where fans/audience members can ask questions of the guys and presumably get sworn at a lot.  (I bet every night there’s some jackass that asks, “So how do I get on the show? Durrrrr!”  And then, hopefully, the Captains mock him until he cries.)

I’ve been thinking about it for a few days, and I’ve realized that I have absolutely nothing to ask those guys.  I know everything I want to know about the show and how they do their jobs.  A lot of it is either self-explanatory or is explained in detail throughout the series.  The only thing I could possibly do is ask them something entirely unrelated to the show and/or fishing…or something semi-related that is completely stupid, pointless, and/or insulting.

So…  Following is a list of questions I could ask…but won’t.

  1. So Sig…  What do you think it would be like to have bananas for arms?
  2. If you could be half-man/half-fish, which way around would you have it, and why?
  3. Who’s your favorite Captain from the show…Kirk or Picard?
  4. Pepsi or Coke?
  5. A series of true-or-false questions…
  6. Heads or tails?  Call it in the air…
  7. So how big is a 30-foot wave?
  8. What’s your favorite Pink Floyd record?
  9. Is there any…y’know…particular…race or ethnicity that you hate?
  10. So a bunch of dudes living together on a boat.  Kinda gay, ain’t it?
  11. Ever seen Sid & Nancy?  Thoughts?
  12. What would you do for a Klondike Bar and why should I care?
  13. I’m going to the bar, can I get you guys anything?
  14. So didja have a good Easter?
  15. You guys wanna cut a record after we’re done here?

Seriously though…  I have enormous respect for what these guys do and I could never do it myself (largely because I have an almost paralyzing fear of large bodies of water—it’s actually kind of surprising that I watch the show, the fear is so bad).  I think that’s what’s tripping me up.  I like the show and those guys enough that I’ve kinda already done my research.  I’m sure I’ll be entertained by whatever they have to say that night…but I don’t think I have any questions I’ve been wanting to ask that I haven’t found answers to elsewhere.

Oh well…it’ll be fun anyway.  Suggest a question for me, if you’ve got one.

In which I steal photos—but give credit…

Following are some photos from stltoday.com, kmov.com, and a couple taken by my friend Jim from Ferguson Christian Church’s Facebook page.  You’ll notice that stltoday’s images were done by me taking screenshots of the pages where they want you to BUY the pictures (in frames, no less).  Thought I’d leave that on the pic, since it’s so classless and speaks volumes about the company.  (If they want to send me a cease and desist on that, I’ll be glad to do both and remove the images…)  KMOV is nice enough to let people copy and paste the low-grade pics…and to my knowledge, Jim owns no personal work-in-progress copyright…but if he does, he can send me a letter too.  (But he’s a nice guy, who I like,  and not a faceless corporation.)  🙂

Anyhoo…  This is the church I used to work at.  Also pictured are Larry Doggett and Joni Bellinger, who are wonderful people.  (I’m honored to have served shoulder to shoulder with Larry and wear that as a badge of honor any time I hear his name.)

Click to embiggen.

From stltoday.com. Buy a frame for it for just $7.00! Sweet deal!

 

From stltoday. Seriously, they've got a really good gallery of pics of this storm that's worth looking at. I just find the fact that they want to sell matte-finish pics of this devistation really upsetting.

In that last picture, you can see where the roof is just GONE.  It used to be a beautiful, all interlocking wood roof that was ornate in its simplicity.  When I worked there, I liked going into the sanctuary during storms and lying (laying?) on one of the pews listening to the rain on the roof in silence.  That would’ve been a major mistake last night.

Here’s an overhead shot, looking in…  Thanks to KMOV for understanding that residents of the area might not want to be gouged for pics of this heartbreak.

I'm fascinated by the fact that the pews are fine. I never thought those things were nailed down in any serious way! (From KMOV.com)

 Usually, you’d see black shingles there instead of…y’know…nothing.

This is getting depressing.  Here is a picture of a bunny.

Now here’s a picture by Jim.  This is looking toward the back of the church.  You can see the stained glass at the back of the building.  You’re not supposed to be able to see that.  There’s supposed to be kind of a wooden wall there with a clock hanging from it, with a little back area where there are stairs and a place for greeters to welcome people.  That’s gone.  (I think that’s it leaning up against the white wall there.)

I have no idea where those pipes came from.

I hear there were about 30 or so people in that room watching The Passion of the Christ on DVD when the tornado hit.  They (wisely) moved downstairs and thank God no one was hurt.  As much as I want to make a Mel Gibson joke right now…seriously, I’m glad everyone was okay.  I can’t believe the devistation.  I know, I know…  “The church isn’t a building…” etc…but I mean come on…  Where are you going to have church when something like this happens?  (Plus, like I said in my last post, I do have a lot of good memories about that place.  Even performed my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding in that very room.  Nuts.)

Anyway.  I’m glad I was in O’Fallon with family rather than at home freaking out.  Hope everyone made it through okay, and I hope the people who lost their homes and possessions are treated well by the people who are supposed to help them rebuild.  (Looking at you, insurance industry.)

Anyway…just wanted to share all that.  Sorry for ranting about the newspaper-site up there…but seriously…add a frame for $7.00 more?!?  Ugh!

Let it Rain…Let it Rain…Let your love…uh-oh…sirens…

Just a quick post, in case anyone cares, to say that following the storms in the St. Louis Metro area, I and from what I can tell everyone I know is fine.  There is extensive damage throughout the area.  The airport is closed.  One of my dad’s girlfriend’s neighbors had their house absolutely destroyed.  The church where I used to work was hit pretty much dead-on with a tornado and the roof was ripped off (the sanctuary is obviously in bad shape as a result).  But I think everyone is okay.

Just a slight note about the church…it’s no secret that there was some unpleasantness revolving around my departure from there a few years ago.  I’m not going to pretend that if I were to walk in there today I wouldn’t have the same personality issues with the same people I did all that time ago or anything like that.  But seeing the sanctuary like that was pretty gutting, and my heart goes out to them.  Hope they have a speedy recovery from that and can rebuild with no major hang-ups.  I spent a lot of time there and poured as much of myself as I could into the job and the people while I was there, and—believe it or not—I always felt like I left a big piece of myself there when I left, even if it wasn’t under the best of circumstances.  I thank God no one was hurt, and I pray that this somehow turns around to help them build a stronger church and a stronger faith.  And also a stronger roof.  (I can’t decide if that was in poor taste or not…so I’ll leave it, but I’ll also add, “Sorry, I meant well.”)  🙂

Anyway…we’re all okay, and I hope you all are too.  Hoping the weather takes a turn for the better over the next couple of days instead of the “further storms possible” thing they’re saying now.

I’ll write a better post soon.  Just wanted to throw all that out there while it’s still hot-topical.  🙂

————

Current Watching:

  • Doctor Who Marathon…very excited for tomorrow’s new episode!!!

RIP Elizabeth “Sarah Jane Smith” Sladen

http://photos.telestrekoza.com/var/albums/ British_shows/Doctor_Who/Cast/ Season_2/Doctor_Who_S2E03_002.jpg
Source: http://media.tumblr.com/ tumblr_ljxkl7FsEF1qzozj1.jpg

Jokes With Limited Appeal

Like many of you, I have a lot of time to kill.  I spend a good portion of that going from blog to blog on the Internet.  Sometimes I run across something that makes me laugh.  Sometimes that thing is of VERY limited appeal, and not everyone is going to get the joke (which makes it even funnier).  Below, I’ve decided to share 20 images that are meant to be funny, but only to specific people.  (And yes, I had trouble narrowing it down to only 20!)  Some of them work universally (or close to it), but some are extra-special references just for us geeks.  Thought some of you might like to see what makes me giggle when I’m sitting around not sleeping at 2 a.m.

…plus I was hoping to share some pics from the Two Hangmen photoshoot…but they’re not ready yet…so you’re getting this.  🙂

Where-ever possible, I’ll either give credit or you’ll be able to see a watermark of some kind in the image.  But most of these were “Right Click – Save As…” moments, when I thought it’d be fun to have these shots on file or use them as a desktop for a week or so.  My apologies if anything goes uncredited or is credited to the wrong source…but for the most part, I typically only go to Bits & Pieces, FuckYeahAlbuquerque, or 9gag, so at least most of these are probably from one of those…let me know if I’m wrong on something and I’ll update it with proper credit.

Let’s rock.  (In most cases, you can click to embiggen.)

Star Wars reference, for those who can't quite place the name.
Doctor Who meets Star Wars. The kid is from a specific episode of Doctor Who that is really creepy and has become a fan favorite...but you kinda had to see it. And I'm assuming we all know who Darth Vader is by now.
My favorite part is Batman's comment.
Who ever thought to do this is a freaking genius, and I want to make this happen in MY fridge.
Yeah...sorry about this one. (Lifted from someone's signature on Lostpedia.com, but otherwise source unknown.)
Not only do you have to know a little bit about Superman for this one to work, you also had to have a working knowledge of Nickelodeon's "Keenan and Kel" show from the 90s. Exactly my cup of tea! (Source unknown...I think fuckyeahalbuquerque.)
This is VERY hard to explain...but basically you had to see a specific episode of the Batman animated series where Batman semi-voluntarily sang a lounge song in order to save the day.
If you've ever seen an episode of Star Trek:TNG, this one worked for you.
Still makes me laugh. Mostly thought my dad would enjoy this one.
...and people think it synchs up with The Wizard of Oz! (Source unknown...might've pulled it off a different blog.)
Back to the Future reference. (Source unknown.)
Source unknown...thought (regular reader) Jim would get a kick out of it though.
I really wish Big Bang Theory would've kept the Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock runner going. (Source unknown, but I think this was made into a t-shirt.)
Never noticed it before, but they're right. (Source unknown.)
I love that other people think that scene's as ridiculous as my friend Larry and I do.
Reference to a specific episode of the Simpsons. (Source unknown.)
It's various guys who played the Doctor on Doctor Who, as The Who. Genius. (For those who're less geeky than me... That's Doctor #4 on guitar, #11 on bass, #8 on vocals, and #10 on drums. Personally, I'd have gone with Doctor #1 on bass...but still pretty cool!) Also, notice the Dalek-themed drum set and Tardis-themed bass!
I don't think I even need to explain why this is awesome. (Source unknown.)
Sorry to anyone this might offend...but come on! Your first instinct HAD to be laughter! (Source unknown.)
I'm pretty surprised that only one wrestling picture slipped in...

 And there you go.  That’s what keeps me giggling online.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Hopefully I’ll have something unique to post tomorrow or Wednesday.

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Stuff I Bought on Record Store Day (Forgot to Share this Last Time):

  • Original (used) copy of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (and a horde of country legends).
  • Old (used) copy of “My Old Cottage Home” by the original Carter Family
  • Grace Basement – Newsense
  • Grace Basement – “Broke Up Man” 6″ single, Record Store Day release
  • Johnny Cash t-shirt
  • Velvet Underground t-shirt.
  • Plus, I got a free Schlafly beer at Vintage.  Which was awesome.