What the crap?

Saw this at Walmart today:


I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t. I’m just passing through life, in this case my favorite retail giant, noticing things and making comments. This is my two cents worth. 

On the one hand, I know what this is. A few years ago some of us began using emoticons, regular keyboard punctuation marks combined to look like smiley faces and other images. : -D  As email gave way to texting and social media, the most common emoticons were coded to produce icons or animated graphics. 😀 The steaming pile of poo became an increasingly common way to say that an idea stinks or the person you’re talking to is full of it (to put it mildly). Text message and Facebook comment emojis spread to stickers, t-shirt designs, coffee mugs and now The Emoji Movie is coming August 4, 2017. The plush pillows are a marketing tie in. If there is a dollar to be made somebody will find a way to make it.

On the other hand, you can walk into your local Walmart and buy a pile of crap. Not just any pile of crap, a plush friendly looking one that kids will want because all the characters are made to look cute. This is a real product you can buy, geared toward adolescents and young adults. I think it says something about where we are as a society.

And don’t forget, it’s a pillow.

“Now I lay me down to nap,
place my face upon this crap.
If I die before I wake…”

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It’s Not Trump’s Flag

The Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that burning an American flag was a protected first amendment right of free speech. A proposed amendment in 1990 to criminalize burning the flag fell short.


So what are flag burners protesting? It must obviously be the United States. Burning a nation’s flag seems like a clear sign you hate that nation. But the protesters around Trump Tower are upset about Tuesday’s election results. The same flag would have flown over the White House if Hillary had been elected, and for that matter flies over the Obama White House presently. It’s not Trump’s flag. It’s the American flag, it’s our flag, and it symbolizes the freedoms and liberties that allow us to do things like vote in elections and march in protest. Why desecrate the very symbol of those freedoms? Imagine burning a Russian flag marching through Moscow or ranting about the Communist Party on the Internet from anywhere in China.

If you want to protest Trump, burn a red ballcap. But if you hate America enough to burn the flag it shouldn’t make any difference to you who becomes president. If you burn the flag today I can’t take you seriously the next time you raise the flag because some you like happens.

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Opinion: Self Driving Cars


Uber self-driving cars use 24 cameras, 7 lasers and active radar to see the road, vehicles and other hazards.

Uber has just rolled out a pilot program in Philadelphia. Customers can request a self-driving car when calling for a ride. The program has spent 18 months in development and is being testing in Philadelphia because of the difficulties driving there presents. The city is not laid out on a typical grid and presents some “aggressive” traffic patterns. During this phase of testing the program, a driver will be in the car just in case a situation arises.

Only 48% of Americans polled are willing to give self-driving cars a try. That’s the detail I wish to focus on. I think that number will change as time goes by. I have no demographics on that statistic but I would bet you could see a definite trend if the data were broken down by age group. Consider: I am 40 years old and have a cell phone with me at all times.  I text, share pics, look up directions, etc. Young adults – 18 to 25 year olds – have grown up with smartphones as a regular part of daily life. There are exceptions, but people my parents age tend to use a cell phone only for voice calls. They do not text or use the internet features.

There was a time when spending cash or writing a check were the options for paying things. Sending a check through the mail was the default mechanism for paying bills. I would say the majority of people today swipe their debit card for daily purchases and either go online to pay bills or have those payments automatically drafted from their account. But my dad was something of a holdout from a bygone age. He did not use a debit card anywhere expect to make a withdrawal at an ATM. He didn’t trust direct deposit or electronic funds transfer of any kind. In my experience old people still write checks.

As new technologies emerge, it takes time for people to adjust and make them a normal part of our daily lives. Switching from check writing to debit card swiping, and from shopping in person to online, was a change some people were uncomfortable with and perhaps unwilling to make. Self-driving cars are totally new to all of us but in 20 years a generation of Americans will have grown up with such technology. As time goes by we will get over the shock of seeing driverless cars, the technology will continue to improve, and in the meantime a generation of older adults will die off. In a few decades the same poll will have very different results. Some may always have reservations about trusting a computer to do the driving; but in 50 years it will not be 50% of those surveyed.

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Third Party Candidates 2016

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are not the only candidates running this November. But who are the other candidates and why should we consider voting for them?

Screenshot 2016-08-23 at 8.45.31 AM

New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is running on the Libertarian ticket. He is currently polling around 8% nationally. The Green Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, is polling at about 4%. Those numbers are actually impressive compared to previous national elections, which illustrates the fact that Americans and not impressed with the major party nominees. Neither of these people, nor any of the other dozen candidates whose name will appear on the ballot, will ever be elected president. You are entitled to vote your conscience, and more people will go rogue this year than ever before, but at the end of the day it will be either Trump or Hillary that gets elected.

The Republican Party has gone into full meltdown over Trump getting the nomination. Former Republican presidents were noticeably missing at the convention and GOP members continue speaking out on what seems like a daily basis. Here’s the truth from a purely pragmatic point of view: Democrats will vote for Hillary Clinton. Republicans will divide their vote between the Donald, vote for another candidate, or simply not cast a vote for president. The result will be Hillary Clinton gets elected.

I know plenty of people, and I mean Republicans and political conservatives, that don’t want to vote for Trump. I get that. Plenty of Americans will not be casting a ballot that probably thought that would never happen. But for me it all comes down to one question: Do you want Hillary to win? My conscience does not allow me to acquiesce to that. Your options, like it or not, is to let her have it or oppose her. Not voting will allow her to win. Voting for Johnson, Stein or Captain Kangaroo will allow her to win. And whether you vote your conscience, abstain from voting, or write in Jeb Bush, we will all be living together in Hillary’s America. She will select a cabinet, she will make appointments to the Supreme Court, etc. 

There will be three presidential candidate debates. Right now it looks like Trump and Clinton will be the only two on the state. Watch the debates. Listen to the claims and then do your own research. My advice is to find something about Trump you like. If Hillary wins I want to be able to say I did everything in my power to prevent that. And that includes encouraging people to vote Trump, whether I like it or not.

These are my opinions and I’m entitled to them. You can disagree with me in the comments if you so choose, but before you do know that I have already decided your wrong. If you want to push a third party candidate, you need to write a blog post. 

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To My Friends at Chick-fil-A

Let me start by saying I’m a longtime fan of Chick-fil-A. I worked at a Dwarf House during college and learned a great deal of the company’s history during that time. I have eaten at four different Dwarf House locations, including the original in Hapeville, as well as Truett’s Cafe in McDounah and the one and only Truett’s Luau in Fayetteville. I brought my whole family to Chick-fil-A appreciation day back in 2012 and encouraged all my friends to do the same.

Dwarf House 2

Truett's Luau, July 2016

Truett’s Luau, July 2016

I would estimate that 90% of my Chick-fil-A visits over the past two years have been during breakfast hours. And almost exclusively my breakfast item of choice has been the spicy chicken biscuit with a small coffee. I know from earlier this year, when the super food side took  the place of coleslaw, that Chick-fil-A doesn’t add a new menu item without doing away with an old one. I found out just yesterday, the hard way when I placed my order, that the new Egg White Grill replaced the spicy chicken biscuit. It is still available in 55 markets across the US but not in the Southeast, where I happen to live and the dozen or so Chick-fil-A locations I frequent are located.

The company published an article/ blog post that explains the Egg White Grill tested well in several larger markets, including Manhattan. Manhattan? That’s a long way from Hapeville. David Farmer is Chick-fil-A’s vice president of menu strategy and development. He and chef Ford Fry brought us the Superfood Side earlier this year, replacing many customer’s long-time favorite coleslaw with a “healthier, lower calorie” side dish made up of kale and broccolini.

I think Dan Cathy and company need to get rid of David Farmer as fast as humanly possible. Just a couple of years ago Chick-fil-A overtook KFC in the number one chicken spot based on annual revenue. Think about that; an Atlanta based restaurant that’s only open six days a week now outsells Kentucky Fried Chicken. And that happened before Farmer started adding low cal side dishes and breakfast items that tested well in Manhattan.

Let me suggest a menu strategy: Leave it alone. If David Farmer is interested in grilled chicken and kale dishes, let him moved to New York and open a restaurant. Chick-fil-A has a loyal and expanding customer base built on what they always done well, deep frying chicken and waffle fries. The pre-Farmer menu tested well in the Deep South for over 50 years. I don’t know if Dan Cathy is asleep at the wheel or quietly waited for his father to pass away so he could take the company in new directions, but one thing is certain: this would never happen if Truett were still alive.

I don’t hate Chick-fil-A and I can’t honestly say that I will never eat there again. But consider: A few years ago, I ate at Wendy’s about once a week. On a regular basis I would order a spicy chicken sandwich and replace the fries with Caesar side salad. Then they ruined the Caesar side salad. They didn’t get rid of it, they just took a delicious item on their menu and made it awful in every possible way. I wrote letters to corporate; blogged about it; asked friends to complain. They told me they were sorry but nothing changed. I never stopped going to Wendy’s but now I average once or twice a year when I take my family.

Consumer sovereignty works because companies desire to make and sell the products customers want to buy. Some corporations spend a lot of time and money trying to guess what consumers want next. Sometimes they guess right, and sometimes they build the Ford Edsel or Nehru jackets. In this case, they took away something the fan based loved and replaced it with something their ad guys keep trying to convince us we want. Egg White Grill is the Microsoft Vista of the food industry.

Chick-fil-A, you have built a successful business that appeals to the masses. If you want to turn that into a niche market of overpriced items that appeal to hipsters and millennials (i.e. Starbucks) there may not be anything I can do to stop you. But I’m asking nicely, please, listen to the voices of so many that miss what you were just one year ago. My FB posts about the spicy biscuit keep getting comments about coleslaw, bbq sauce and something about ranch sauce that I don’t quite understand. What are you doing? Why are you catering to new markets in the New England states and turning your back on generations of customers down South? Yesterday I was angry. Today I’m just sad. I loved you Chick-fil-A. I guess I’m going to miss you.

Clark J. Bunch
Plainville, GA


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40 Years

Screenshot 2015-12-07 at 2.22.41 PMI’m coming up on one of those milestone birthdays; I will turn 40 in a few days. It’s only natural to reflect on how you’ve spent your time in this world. So what have I done in 40 years?

I have lived in two states and visited 12 others. I have lived in Georgia a total of 31 years and Kentucky the other nine. I have visited Alabama, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and California.

I have visited one other country, Germany. Teresa and I spent ten days in Germany at the end of 2007; we arrived December 24th and flew back on January 2nd, so I have rung in the New Year on another continent. We took in a Christmas village, drank hot chocolate and watched ice skaters, visited a Gothic style cathedral and rode a tour bus to Triberg in the Black Forest. Thanks to my father-in-law shipping his pickup truck over, I have been on the Autobahn in a Ford F-150.

I have eaten frog legs. They really do taste like chicken. Thanks to the international student population at OBI I’ve also had kimchi, calamari, borsh, Ethiopian flatbread and probably some other things I can’t remember.

I ride a motorcycle. The smallest motorcycle I’ve ridden was a Honda 90, the largest was a Suzuki Intruder 1500. I traded up a few years ago from a Honda Shadow 500 to an 1100 but have never ridden an American made bike (i.e. Harley).

I’ve driven 2 Volkswagen Beetles. The old ones; if it ever comes up I know how to find reverse.

I was on the debate team all 4 years in high school. In 1994 I qualified at the state level to compete at nationals.

My first day on my first job I made the front page of the local paper! They were doing a story on local business owner John Thorton and wanted to take a picture of him out in the mill.

I drive a bus. If you learn to drive a full size school bus in the mountains of eastern Kentucky you can probably drive anything anywhere. After all the training and testing it’s easier to stay certified than it would be to get it back so I still take a CDL physical every 12 months.

I graduated from high school, college, and will soon complete my second seminary course through the SBC Seminary Extension program. I have a BS in History/Political Science and graduated from the teacher education program at Shorter.

I taught high school for eight years (World History, U.S. History, geography) and one year of middle school math.

I was in the senior play in high school, took one semester of theater appreciation in college, help direct while student teaching, and was later the assistant director for 19 high school productions (working not only with actors but also lights, sound and stagecraft).

I worked for one year as an assistant carpenter and nearly a year doing HVAC. I’ve been on the roof of Memorial Hall at Stone Mountain (where the laser show is projected from) and in places inside Emory University Clinic that most people don’t know exist. Have you ever eaten at the KFC on Turner McCall Blvd. in Rome? I framed that building.

I now pastor a small church. I was licensed to preach, ordained as a deacon, ordained to ministry and later called to pastor in that order. I have married two couples, preached one funeral and recently ordained a deacon.

I published a book in 2014 and now write a weekly religion column for the local paper (the same one I appeared on the cover of at my first job 24 years ago). I’ve been a blogger since 2008.

I have had three jobs in food service: Shoney’s, Chick-fil-A and for a short time Schroeder’s Deli in Calhoun. I enjoy cooking but not working in the foodservice industry.

Teresa and I have been married 18 years and have one child.

I have played on two church softball teams (with apologies to Trinity Baptist. That ten year gap was too much and I lost it). But when I caught for Pleasant Hope we actually had an undefeated season!

I have seen the Braves play baseball at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field. I’ve seen the Georgia Bulldogs play at Sanford Stadium. I’ve eaten at the Varsity in downtown Atlanta and at the one in Athens.

I’ve seen The Beach Boys and Rush in concert, and a few years ago Mercy Me, The Newsboys and Zoegirl all in one show. (Met Josh McDowell that same weekend.) Saw Lonestar at Cowboys in Kennesaw.

I’ve left some things off this list (like playing guitar and swimming in the ocean) because there’s just no way to say everything. But I think that speaks to the fact I’ve done lots of things and am willing to try new stuff.


Well I’m pleased to say that I’ve never broken a bone or spent a night in the hospital. I’ve never had my tonsils, appendix or anything else removed.

I came this close to skydiving. During a special promotion you could take a 90 min. class and make one tandem jump for $100. I really thought about it.

I would like to walk my daughter down the aisle and give her away someday, but I’ve never written a bucket list. I’m open to suggestions; what have you got?

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Ever feel like everything is happening at once?

There are times we get bored and look for something to do and at other times it seems there are not enough hours in the day or days in the week. It’s true that I like to keep busy but sometimes even I find too much on the old plate. The next few weeks are going to be like that; you know, more than the usual amount of too much on my plate. 

I have been pastoring a small Baptist church since October. As a bivocational pastor I also put in 40 hours (sometimes +) on a Monday-Friday job. We have been working on a house and are about to move. I have a seminary class on Monday evenings and a couple of monthly meetings with a writers group that I swear keep coming closer and closer together. I have started writing a new book and just recently (yesterday) launched a new church website. Oh, I almost forgot to mention our 5-year-old, the one out of school on spring break this week.

I said all that to say this: Don’t expect much out of my personal blog in the future. I never intended to have two blogs; I should have repurposed clarkbunch.wordpress.com as The Master’s Table without creating a URL and moving all the content. Hindsight is 20/20. With the theology blog, the church website, one book in print and hopefully another coming out by this time next year, I don’t need another outlet to put myself out there. I’m on Facebook and Twitter to boot, plus the blog and book have their own FB pages and God is Near its own Twitter feed. I don’t have an unpublished thought as it is.

On the other hand: posts, images and other material has been slowly stockpiling here since 2008 and traffic still comes through even though nothing new is posted for weeks at a time. So the archives will not be going away and I’m not pulling the plug on the URL. I liked the total site overhauls that produced Smile: God Loves you and the Happy Coffee Blog. All of the old daily One Liner updates and The Cuteness images are still archived. That’s just not what I’m doing right now.

So if you need me, I’ll be at The Master’s Table and Unity Baptist Church. Happy Monday will always be good for a laugh and my Facebook profile is public. And if you don’t need me… I will still be at all those places! Long live the blog.

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