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A Day at My Grandparents’

This is my first attempt at writing a children’s book.

It is heavily based on my childhood and told from the perspective of me at age five, which would mean it takes place in the year 1992.

I initially wrote most of it in the Summer of 2016, but recently did some editing and now I feel as if I’m ready to share it with the world.

Without further ado, here we go:

I arrive at my grandparents’ house and they welcome me with open arms.

My grandma offers me breakfast: oatmeal with hot syrup.

My grandpa sits at the table with me.

Suddenly he sneezes very loudly, “HYEH-HOO!” My grandma jumps out of fright. I just laugh. She then gives him a dirty look and he rubs my head. I finish eating my breakfast and then look out the front door. The mail truck is coming in the distance. I watch. Finally, it is near my grandparents’ mailbox and the mailman puts several letters in.

“I’m going get the mail,” My grandpa says.

“Our Social Security checks should be in today, honey.” My grandma replies.

We walk to the mailbox and my grandpa picks up the mail then we walk back to the house.

“Yes, our checks are in. I’ll go to the bank and cash them,” He says, handing her the rest of the mail.

My grandma opens the envelopes, signs her check then says, “After that go to the hardware store and get a new light fixture for the utility room. ”

I look at my grandpa and ask “Can I come with you?”

“Sure,” He replies.

“Get our medicine from the drug store too, honey,”

“Yes, ma’am.” He answers.

My grandma gives him another dirty look.

We then walk to his old truck and he starts it. The engine makes a loud noise and then we take off.

As we are driving down the road there is a car in front of us going super slow. My grandpa blows his horn and shouts, “Come on you turtle!”

I laugh.

“If your grandma saw me acting like that she would fuss, so don’t tell her what I just did.”

I nod my head and grin.

We go through the drive up window at the bank. My grandpa signs his check and also hands my grandma’s check to the teller. She then hands him a lot of money, then she also gives me some candy.

My grandpa leaves the bank and I eat. “Don’t tell your grandma I let you have candy,” He tells me.

I motion as if I am zipping my lips and he smiles.

We arrive at the hardware store and my grandpa parks his truck. We walk through the store and into the electrical department. I stare at all the lights on display.

“How is this one?” He asks.

“It looks cool to me,” I reply, then continue “Could I help you put it up?”

“Sure!” My grandpa replies, “I do need a helper and you’re perfect for the job.”

My grandpa picks up the light, still in its package and then we walk to the counter.

He pays the check out lady.

She prints some papers and hands them and the light to my grandpa, then we leave the store.

We get back in his truck. He starts it and the engine makes that loud noise again. I laugh.

“One day, when I am really old, this will be your truck, E.J.”

“Awesome!” I say.

We then drive to the drug store, then enter and both sit on a stool at the counter while the pharmacist gets the medicine.

She tells him the price and he hands her the cash.

“Boy, thank God for Medicare!” My grandpa tells her as he is handed several bags.

“What’s Medicare?” I ask.

“Something for old people like me and your grandma,” He replies.

Another old man walks up to my grandpa and they begin talking in French. I’m puzzled because I don’t know what they’re saying.

I look at my grandpa, point to the old man and ask, “Who’s that?”

“E. J., that’s Mister Cecil. We worked together at the factory.”

Mister Cecil looks at me and says “Your grandpa told us many jokes and made us laugh during those long shifts.”

“He makes me laugh too. What was his job at the factory?”

“He loaded the syrup we made into railroad cars and I was in charge of the piping system,” Mister Cecil replies.

“That’s awesome!” I say.

“We’d still be working there if it wasn’t for the factory closing,” My grandpa says.

“Well, you know durn good and well there were some dirty dealings going on,” Mister Cecil adds in.

“Yeah, but that was way beyond our control,” My grandpa answers.

They go back to talking in French for a while then finally shake hands and Mister Cecil leaves.

My grandpa and I leave the drug store as well.

He starts his truck and the engine makes that loud sound again.

We both laugh.

We head back to the house, then walk through the door.

We walk into the utility room and my grandpa opens the door to the broom closet. He gets his flashlight and tools out, then goes to the fuse box and turns off the electricity.

“Safety first-remember that, E.J.!” He tells me.

I nod and smile.

The house is dark, so he turns his flashlight on.

He takes a chair from the kitchen and brings it to the utility room. He then stands on top of it under the old light fixture.

My grandpa hands me his flashlight and says “E. J., shine me some light.”

I shine it at the fixture.

He then says, handing me his pocket knife, “E. J. cut the box open.”

“I don’t want E. J. handling a knife, he’s too young!” My grandma shouts.

“Aw, shucks! I’m old enough!” I say.

“No your grandma is right, E. J. I don’t want you to hurt yourself. I just forget how young you are sometimes,” He pauses then says, “I’ll open it.”

He cuts through the package and takes out the new light, along with the wire nuts and fasteners.

“Now keep shining that flashlight E. J. and get me a screwdriver and cutting pliers.”

I hand him the tools. The old fixture soon comes down and grandpa puts the new one up. My grandpa then pulls the switch cord.

“All done!” He says, “Now shine some light on the fuse box, E. J.”

I shine it and he turns the electricity back on. The new fixture lights up the utility room brightly.

“Now turn my flashlight off E. J.”

Reluctantly I turn it off and say, “Aw shucks.”

“Now, E.J., I need to conserve the battery. You never know when a big storm will come.”

“I guess you’re right grandpa. I just think your flashlight is so cool!”

My grandpa looks at my grandma and says, “Now, hopefully, the next time that fixture needs to be replaced E. J. will be a grown man and he can do it for us.”

“He better finish college first,” My grandma says sternly, then continues, “Since the power is back on, I’m going to watch my stories while I do some cooking and sewing.”

“Well I’m going work in the garden,” My grandpa says.

“I’m coming with you,” I tell him.

We pick green beans, corn, okra, and tomatoes until I see a raccoon coming into the garden.

“Look, grandpa, a raccoon.”

“E. J., get inside right now!” My grandpa says with urgency.

I go, but watch and listen through the screen door.

My grandpa chases the raccoon clapping his hands several times while stomping his foot and shouting “Get. Gone. Get outta here.” The dog begins to bark. Finally, the raccoon runs away. I laugh until my sides ache.

“All right E. J. you can come back now,” He says, then continues “Never go near a raccoon, they’re vicious and they carry rabies.”

I nod and keep a sharp eye looking for more raccoons. Thankfully no more show up.

My grandpa continues working in his garden until we hear my grandma shout, “Dinner’s ready.”

We walk back to the house.

“What are we having?” I ask.

“Green beans and potatoes.” My grandma answers.

“Yuck!” I say.

“Well if you don’t want that, you can have a can of Vienna Sausage,” My grandpa answers.

My grandma gives my grandpa a pair of eyes.

“What the matter now, honey?” He asks her.

“You should know very well that Vienna Sausage isn’t good for him,” She answers.

“Oh, doggone it, let him enjoy that whiles he’s young. He won’t be able to eat that kind of stuff when he’s old like us.”

“I guess, honey. But you know his parents want him to eat healthy food,” She replies.

“We don’t have to tell them about it. Besides what will one little can hurt?” My grandpa says as he opens the can and hands the sausages to me.

We all sit down to eat.

My grandparents take their medicines during dinner. They pop several pills and wash them down with Royal Crown Cola.

I drink Cherry Kool-Aid to wash down my Vienna Sausages.

“One day I want you to try green beans, though, E.J. They taste good and they’re good for you,” My grandpa says.

“Okay, I’ll try them one day when I am all grown up.”

My grandma says, “Hopefully before then.”

“Better late than never.” My grandpa says.

After we eat my grandpa takes me in his truck and we ride through the fields. He checks his cattle and the fencing around the property.

He works on the fence and I watch until the sun begins to set. We then head back to the house.

We walk up the back porch and into the door. My grandpa washes his hands in the kitchen sink, then shakes them dry. I stand on a chair and do the same.

“E.J., use a towel instead.” My grandma says with irritation.

My grandpa then begins to scratch his back on the doorpost.

I smile, then go across the room and scratch my back on the other doorpost.

My grandpa then lets out a loud sneeze, “HYEH-HOO!”

I laugh, then say, “I’m going to sneeze like that too from now on!”

My grandma says angrily at me “Don’t you dare E.J.!” She then looks at my grandpa and says, “You see that honey, E. J. is picking up all of your bad habits.”

“That’s because he’s my flesh and blood,” My grandpa answers proudly.

“But he starts school in a few weeks and we can’t have him acting like that in the classroom.”

My grandpa pokes his tongue at my grandma and then asks, “What’s for supper?”

“Homemade bread and coffee. But E.J. will have hot milk instead, we can’t have him up all hours of the night. So, don’t give him any.”

“Yes, ma’am!” My grandpa answers her.

“Aw shucks,” I say.

She gives him a dirty look, then we eat. My grandparents take their nighttime medication.

After supper, we watch the television for a little while.

The news is on.

Suddenly we hear the dog barking and the cows mooing incessantly.

My grandpa retrieves his flashlight and turns it on.

“I’m going see what’s going on outside,” My grandpa says.

“I want to go too and see grandpa’s flashlight light up the night.”

“No, E. J. you need to get to bed,” My grandma says.

“Aw shucks!” I reply.

“Now, E.J.!” My grandma orders.

My grandpa goes outside. I hear his truck start up, then reluctantly I go lay down in the spare bedroom and soon fall asleep.

I guess I’ve been asleep for a while, but then, suddenly I’m woken up by the screen door opening and shutting. Then I hear a loud “HYEH-HOO!” I laugh to myself and realize that my grandpa is back.

I get out of bed and walk into the living room.

“What happened outside?” I ask.

“One of my heifers got stuck in the barbed wire fence.”

I see him picking up his flashlight and then ask, “Could I play with it for a little while?”

“Sure.” He says.

“Yes!” I reply.

I shine it all over the room, on walls, windows and pictures then I notice some writing on the flashlight. I ask my grandpa “What does it say on the sides?”

“Eveready Commander.” He replies. “Eveready is the company and Commander is the model of the flashlight.”

“What does N o dot five one two two mean?”

“The No. means number which is fifty-one twenty-two.”

“What does it say below that?”

“Made in Hong Kong. That’s the city in China, where this flashlight was made.”

“Where’s that?”

“On the other side of the world. And, you know while it’s nighttime here, it’s daytime over there.”

“Cool!”

“And what does it say on the left back side?” I ask.

“Union Carbide-that’s the company that owned Eveready when this flashlight was made. And below it says New York, NY. In other words New York City in New York State. That’s where one of Union Carbide’s offices were located. The 5 numbers, one zero zero one seven is the zip code for that part of New York City,” My grandpa replies.

“Cool!”

My grandpa then looks at my grandma and says “You see that, honey, I’m teaching E.J. geography and how to read.”

“Teach him tomorrow; he needs to be in bed at this hour.” My grandma says.

I hang my head in disappointment.

My grandpa looks at me and says “Tell you what, if you go to sleep right now, you can have my flashlight. I worked many night shifts with it, loading syrup into tank cars, but it’s yours now. I’ll just buy a new one at the hardware store tomorrow.”

“You really mean it, grandpa?” I ask.

“Sure, so why don’t you get to bed.” He says.

“All right,” I reply, happily.

“You better not take it with you to school or your teacher will take it away.” My grandma interjects.

“Yes, that’s right. And we don’t want that to happen.” My grandpa replies.

I begin to get sleepy and they both hug me good night and I walk to my bed. Soon, I am fast asleep…

Back to “Works of Fiction”

Shopping at Target for Gentleman’s EDC Gear

Target can be an excellent place for purchasing a gentleman’s EDC items.

Well, this statement was even more true years ago, but still is somewhat true even today.

I know, most people associate Target shoppers with upscale suburban women, but there are quite a few items in Target that are perfect for a gentleman.

However, as I previously mentioned, this was even more true years ago than today.

Many of my current and former EDC items were purchased at Target.

I don’t know if I am truly a gentleman or not. I try my durn well best to be one and I hope at least my girlfriend sees me as one.

Okay, enough about me.

The first time I shopped at a Target was in August of 2002. I was fifteen and almost three-quarters years old and one had recently been built in my metropolitan area.

My parents brought me along with my brother and sister to check the store out.

I was interested in what electronics were sold there and was a little impressed that they sold the Motorola FRS and GMRS radios, but they were all out of my price range.

Later that day we went to Wal Mart and I purchased a BellSouth 2231 FRS/GMRS transceiver for about $10. I had EDCed this radio, mostly because, I didn’t yet have a working cell phone to keep in touch with family and I also liked to communicate with the maintenance staff at my high school on there. In these days, I didn’t carry a knife or a flashlight, just a two-way radio, believe it or not.

Fast forward to Black Friday, November 29, 2002, my mom, my sister and I went to a few stores just to look around. The only other time I had seen my mom go shopping on Black Friday was in 1992 at Southland Mall. As much as my mom likes shopping, she hates to shop on Black Friday. I was looking around in the sporting goods section at Target and for the first time, I had seen a real Swiss Army Knife in real life. I saw a whole bunch of them, in fact. In those days, Target had a much wider selection of Swiss Army Knives than they currently do. And those sold at Target came bundled with equally useful accessories. More on that in a little bit. Prior to that, I had knock-offs of Swiss Army Knives, but they were all flimsy and dull. I didn’t purchase any that day, because I didn’t have enough money on me and my parents being overprotective would have not been happy if I bought a knife.

I also saw the Swiss backpacks and luggage sold there, but all of those were way out of my price range. I had a very rugged duffel bag which I would take with me whenever I could, so I wasn’t really in need of luggage at the time. This bag’s zipper busted on me sometime in 2007, though, so that is when I began trying different bags to carry my EDC items in.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2005, I had secured a job assisting the maintenance crew at my high school and the way I became friends with them was by talking to them over their radios!

I was eighteen and a half years old and had a good bit of disposable income with no bills, notes or rent to pay. Also since I was eighteen I could own a knife whether or not my parents wanted me to.

After work, many times I would shop at Target in the sporting goods sections. One day, in July of 2005, I purchased my first Swiss Army Knife, a Victorinox Sportsman. At some point, I had upgraded and gave it my best friend and I hope he still has it now.

Also in 2005, my interest in flashlights was coming back. Target had a wide selection of flashlights in their household section and many of them couldn’t be found anywhere else. There were many rugged, Aluminum pocket-sized flashlights sold there that weren’t sold elsewhere. There was Coast brand LED flashlights. There were Mini Maglites in all sorts of exotic colors as well as the standard colors. There were Inova (as in Emissive Energy Corporation, prior to the Nite Ize takeover) flashlights both in plastic and Aluminum that were the brightest LED flashlights at the time. There were also some unique brands such as Rock River or River Rock. Target does not have such a wide selection these days and I think it’s a shame. All of these would have been perfect EDC flashlights for a gentleman’s pocket

On the afternoon of January 27, 2006, I was shopping at my local Target and looking at Swiss Army Knives, which came bundled with very neat and equally useful accessories. The Super Tinker model came with a compact pair of Simmonds Binoculars. The Recruit ii came bundled with a Mini Maglite (which this is where I was initially inspired to pair a Swiss Army Knife with a Mini Maglite, as I believe all gentlemen should EDC these items together.) The Climber came bundled with some high-quality German-made Victorinox Scissors. That is what I had decided to purchase on that afternoon. The package sold for ~$30, but I know the knife alone was worth at least that and the scissors had to be worth another $35-$40, but they were free! My mom sometimes sews in her free time, so I knew these scissors would be perfect for her. I was 100% right too-she still uses them almost thirteen years later at the time I am writing this. In fact, she recently used them to fix the hem on my pants. I would misplace that knife a few days later, but then my mom found it again in December 2010. Since that time, I have kept it in a secure place because of its sentimental value.

In April of 2006, I had some cash given to me as Easter presents from family members, so I was in Target after school and saw an Inova Radiant 2 AA LED flashlight. At the time, Inova manufactured the most advanced LED flashlights or at least in my humble opinion. Also, they were American made, not like today. I still have this flashlight but unfortunately, it doesn’t work anymore. However, this flashlight did come in handy multiple times for the rest of high school and the beginning of trade school. I would sometimes EDC it if I knew I was going to a very dark area or needed a light with a longer run time.

In December of 2006, I purchased from Target a Victorinox Super Tinker with Simmonds Compact Binoculars. I still have both.

Sometime in 2006, Target cleared out all of these Swiss Army Knives with neat and useful accessories and this was a big mistake in my opinion.

In January of 2007, I purchased my first Blue Mini Maglite from Target, as my Black one was getting very beat up. I had it until I misplaced it at some point.

In February of 2009, I was shopping at a Super Target and purchased an Energizer 3 Watt Tactical LED flashlight. I had EDCed both on my job and in leisure time until I traded it to my best friend sometime in early 2010. I hope he still has it.

In July of 2009, I purchased my first Wenger SwissGear backpack until I upgraded with another in March of 2010 and again in September of 2011. All three were purchased at Target.

In March of 2015, I purchased another Energizer 185 Lumen Tactical LED flashlight at a Super Target on Clearance.

Around this time, Target began to stop selling some of the Tactical flashlights they once sold, another big mistake in my opinion.

A year later, in March of 2016, Target quit selling the Mini Maglites, which I was able to get a Silver one on Clearance, for about $4, which I keep in my glove box.

Also, in March of 2016, I ordered a Casio G-Shock Wristwatch, which I wore until June of 2018, but still have.

In April of 2016, I managed to purchase the Victorinox Recruit ii and Mini Maglite bundled together in mint condition on eBay, but this was previously sold at Target a decade before.

In the past two years, most of the flashlights sold at Target were only appropriate for a domestic setting, though there are a few exceptions. Also, their selection of Swiss Army Knives has very much dwindled.

However, the said retailer still carries some decent items that are geared towards gentleman.

For example, in February of 2017, I purchased a Coleman Illumilast 2AAA LED flashlight at a Super Target, which I EDC on and off and I even wrote a blog entry partially about. In November of 2017, I bought another Wenger SwissGear backpack, which I still use AND In December of 2017, I bought a Wenger SwissGear bifold wallet, which I also still use.

There are a few EDC items in the sporting goods section, such as an OutDoor Products tactical LED flashlight with a strike bezel, I purchased one in October of 2018 and currently EDC it, though the pocket clip broke off. Also, a couple of Gerber products are sold in the sporting goods section, such as a Gerber Dime Multitool.

So, Target COULD be a place for a gentleman to buy his EDC gear still but imagine how much better it could be if the retailer would start carrying more items designed for EDC.

I think the company has reasons why they don’t carry some of these items anymore, but my post will become political if I begin to elaborate why.

But how about making Target a place not only for ladies to shop but also for their husbands and boyfriends to come shopping with them and not being bored to tears?

Those are my thoughts and experiences.

I hope, you, the reader, have been informed and entertained…

Back to “Articles I Have Written”

God Awful Job-Grocer and Writer (Guy’s Perspective)

NOTE:

This is a modified version of the original.

The original version was much too offensive and I’ve only shown it to people whom I trust.

Hopefully, you will forgive me and enjoy this version just as well.

Here it is without further ado:

I’ve been working hard all day, but finally, it’s time for my fifteen-minute break. Happy to have a little relaxation, I clock out and walk to the covered terrace in the chilly December weather.

As I sit down on my break, I ponder to myself, “Why did I take this God-awful job in the first place?”

Then after a half minute of pondering, I check my Go Phone for text messages.

There are two:

The first one reads, “It’s the first day of Winter, my favorite season. I think Winter is so romantic, especially now that I have you in my life.”

The second one reads, “Come get me when you’re done with work. I love you so much, baby.”

So, I reply, with the utmost honesty, “I love you too, baby and I count the hours when we are apart.” I send another message, “I’ll come get you as soon as my work is done, but I don’t know when that will be.”

Within a matter of seconds, I get a reply, “Just as long as you come get me, I’ll wait all night if I have to.”

My coworkers notice the bliss in my eyes.

The janitor, listening to foreign music on a portable world band radio, lowers the volume and asks, “Talking to your girlfriend?”

I nod at him.

“Is she pretty?” He continues.

“She is absolutely beautiful. I’m so grateful to have her in my life.” I tell him with much assuredness, then show a picture of her and I standing by the river.

He looks at the picture then says, “Wow, she sure is pretty! You and her could make beautiful children.”

“No, I haven’t been intimate with her yet. She deserves my utmost reverence,” I tell him soberly.

“You’re a good man.” The janitor says, smiling as he pats my hand.

The deli cook, also on break with us, has been quiet, up until this point. Now she is ready to pick a fight.

She looks up from her smartphone and remarks, with anger and contempt, “I bet she’s really nasty, but just pretends to be innocent with you.”

I try to keep calm and simply reply, “Nope. Actually, she is a virgin. And so am I.”

The cook continues, asking, “How old is she?”

“None of your damn business. How about you get a life?”

The cook pulls a box cutter out of her apron pocket and says, “You better not be disrespectful to me.”

I still try to maintain grace under pressure and say, “Why harm me because of someone whom I love with all my heart and who loves me in return?”

I then point to the security camera with a sign below that reads, “Every move you make is being recorded on video.”

I then say, “You’ve already committed assault with a deadly weapon and it was all caught on video. Smile for the camera! I suggest you leave me alone.”

“This isn’t over little boy! I know why you won’t tell me her age because she’s jailbait. I should call the police on you!”

“Whom are they actually going to believe? I’m not known for going around threatening physical violence upon whomever I disagree with but you are. Furthermore, I haven’t done anything illegal with her because, not only do I love her, but I also have great reverence for her. Do you the men in your life revere you? Probably not.”

The cook gets angry again, pulls out her razor and says, “I’m gonna get you and that slutty girlfriend of yours!”

Finally, I lose my temper and say, “Prove that she is slutty. You can’t. And since you can’t, that means we can sue you for defamation of character, but you probably don’t have a penny to your name, anyway.”

The cook is speechless but angry.

The janitor, though trying to hide it has a wide smirk on his face.

He turns his radio back on, until the cook says, “Turn off that old, outdated, boring racket-it’s offensive to me.”

“It’s a free country; I don’t have to,” The janitor protests.

“Turn it off or I’m going to bust it over your head,” The cook threatens.

I get angry and then tell the cook, “I believe that’s considered aggravated criminal damage to property, which carries a sentence of up to fifteen years in this state. You’d probably catch an aggravated assault charge in addition to that because you’ve been flashing that razor blade of yours. It was all caught on camera but I’ll gladly testify against you as well!”

“Y’all are ganging up on me!” The cook says with ignorance and hatred.

“No, we just want you to leave us alone. Go back to looking at whatever meaningless garbage you were looking at on your phone and don’t talk to us again.”

“You are going to pay for disrespecting me like that.”

Finally, I activate the voice recorder feature on my Go Phone and say, “Go ahead, keep making threats because everything else you say will be recorded and turned over to the cops.”

The cook finally quiets down, after showing me the middle finger.

My watch’s timer feature begins beeping indicating that my fifteen minutes are up. As I leave the break area, I tell her off “Well, I can’t argue anymore with you because I have to get back to work. You ruined my break, but I’m sure you’re proud of yourself because you delight in bringing misery to everyone you meet.”

The janitor follows me from far behind. Then, he puts the radio in his assigned locker and on his way back to the warehouse, he tells me, “Thank you for standing up for me, my friend, I don’t like her either.”

“Does anyone like her?” I ask.

The janitor laughs heartily and then, says, “You remind me of a younger version of myself. I love my wife like you love your girlfriend. That’s why I took this disgusting job so I can support her and my unborn child.”

We resume our working and I think about the janitor’s words.

I stock the shelves with dry goods diligently trying to keep my mind off of the potentially serious threats from the cook. My mind is filled with anxiety, until a gentleman comes up to me and asks, “Excuse me, young man, where might I find the remoulade sauce?”

“It’s hard to find, sir, so let me show you.”

“Thank you, I appreciate it.”

I locate it for him and he places several jars in his cart.

Afterward, I ask him, “Is there anything else we can help you find this evening?”

“Yes, actually I need to make an order in the seafood department for my meeting tonight, but no one is there right now. There are plenty of fresh fish under the glass that I want to purchase.”

“I’ll take care of that right away sir, just follow me.”

We walk to the seafood department. Upon arriving, I activate the public address system, and speak into the mouthpiece, “Customer service is needed in seafood.”

The gentleman and I converse while waiting for the seafood clerk to arrive.

He tells me, “Thank you for assisting me, young man. I wish everyone else was helpful like you.”

“Thank you for your kind words, sir. I find helping customers to be more rewarding than just putting up dry goods all day and into the night.”

“They should promote you.”

“They never will. The good jobs here are given to those with connections, not competence.”

“That’s a shame man because you’re a good worker.”

“Thanks, that means a lot coming from someone like you.”

The gentleman smiles. We shake hands and continue conversing while still waiting for the seafood clerk to arrive.

Suddenly, the assistant store director begins yelling at me, “Get back to work! This company does not pay you eight dollars an hour to run your mouth with customers.”

I pat the gentleman on the shoulder and tell him, “I’m sorry, sir, but I have to go. The seafood clerk will arrive shortly.”

However, he stands up for me and says to my boss, “No, that’s not right at all. This young man is very helpful and took care of me-unlike anyone else. I think I’ll change my mind on making such a large seafood order tonight.”

The assistant store director pulls me aside and says, “You are most definitely getting written up for this incident and for disciplinary action, you will stock the entire boxed gelatin aisle all by yourself from now on.”

The gentleman overhears and is even angrier on my behalf as he says pushing away his loaded shopping cart, “Oh really, since you are going to treat him that way, I’m canceling my revolving credit account. Take me to customer service immediately!” The gentleman then tells me, “Good luck young man, I wish you could serve me again, but I’m not shopping here anymore and neither will any of my business partners.”

The store director looks at me with anger and says, “This disgusting incident will not be forgotten, I promise you that. Because of your subversive behavior, I’m going to make your life here a living hell. And if you quit it would greatly pleasure me to watch you struggle to find a job elsewhere in this economy.”

I sulk, then begin to stock the boxed gelatin filled with even more anxiety, not only about violence from the cook but also job security.

At dinner time I clock out and buy a cup of Senor Rico rice pudding and a pint bottle of Borden Milk. I sit on the terrace and think about my girlfriend. For once, I have the break area to myself but am so filled with anxiety to enjoy the peace. All too quickly my dinner break ends and I clock back in.

The work is difficult and tedious, but finally, I have the shelves stocked. Now I need to front and block the whole aisle.

I see the janitor walking by and he tells me, “Go home and spend time with your girl, I’ll do this for you.”

“Don’t you have a family to go home to?” I ask him.

“No, I’m in the country all by myself, but I need to send all the money I can back home, so my wife can eat well and our baby will be healthy.”

He then shows me a picture on his phone of his pregnant wife in a nightgown and says, “Isn’t she beautiful when she glows? I can’t wait to be a poppa.”

I nod, then say, “All right, you may front and block for me.”

“Good, because the boss man went home for the evening, so this will be our little secret. Just remember to always love your girl and treat her right. If you do, she will bring you plenty of joy.”

I nod. We shake hands and I go clock out.

Finally, I leave the store, fire up my old Toyota and head to my girlfriend’s parents’ house in the suburbs.

Upon my arrival, we embrace and kiss under the glow of a street-lamp.

“Let’s go to your house,” She says looking at me with puppy dog eyes.

My job may be God awful, but the love my girlfriend gives me is worth it and so much more…

Back to “My [Non-Offensive] “Grocer and Writer” Pieces”

A Review of the NiteCore MT20A LED Flashlight

NOTE: I do NOT own the featured image on this page, it is the property of NiteCore…

I am NOT an aviator by any stretch of the imagination.

I have only been on an aircraft four times and every time I was merely a passenger.

However, I am quite well rounded on the subject of flashlights as just about everyone who knows me is well aware of.

On this evening of November 16, 2018, I will write a review of the NiteCore MT20A LED flashlight and how I think it is the best aviation flashlight for the money.

I have owned one of these since January of 2018 and it is also featured in a short story I had wrote in February 2018. By the way, when I wrote that story, I had not yet been on an aircraft. No, it was composed and inspired strictly from my countless hours of researching flashlights.

I had purchased mine on eBay and I probably paid less than the MSRP, since the said website usually sells items for less than what they are suggested to sell for.

This flashlight only set me back $36.44 with free shipping. NiteCore’s website, to my knowledge, does not list an MSRP, but I would venture to guess it should cost no more than $50 brand new.

In other words, this flashlight should neither break the bank nor tie up too much of your credit line.

It is constructed of very durable Aerospace Aluminum, comes with a pocket clip as well as a lanyard, a ring, and a pouch. It features a forward clicky switch. The maximum light output of Turbo Mode 360 Lumens lasts for 1 hour and 45 minutes. The light settings can be set to lower outputs of High Mode 240 Lumens for 2 hours and 15 minutes, Mid Mode 120 Lumens for 5 hours and 45 minutes, Low Mode 17 Lumens for 24 hours and Ultra Low Mode 1 Lumen for 180 hours. In addition to those diverse light settings, it also has a dedicated red LED for preserving night vision. And not only that, there is a tactical strobe for self-defense, an SOS strobe for emergency location when summoning help and a red beacon mode for locating the flashlight in a dark room. Settings are changed by pressing buttons on the side of the light engine module to cycle through the different modes. The flashlight has an incredible memory and will always switch on to the mode it was last used in. It is impact resistant for a fall on concrete at a height of up to 1 Meter. It also has a waterproof rating of IPX-8, which means it can be submerged to a depth of 2 Meters. If you aren’t sold as of yet, might I add that this flashlight runs on two common, everyday AA Alkaline or NiMH batteries? This gives it a clear advantage over Sure Fire’s American made Aviator flashlights which run on those expensive and exotic CR123A batteries. In my opinion, this flashlight is the best flashlight and possibly product in general ever to come out of Mainland China-change my mind!

I have edced this flashlight on an off since January of 2018 and it has had a permanent residence in my Swiss Gear edc backpack when not on my person.

As I have said before, I am not an aviator by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think this is an ideal flashlight for all aviators and I will back up my claim in the following sentences:

First of all, Turbo Mode is ideal for preflight inspection of the aircraft. This setting should allow the user to find any defects in the aircraft’s body that need to be corrected prior to flight.

Also, the High Mode could be used for doing maintenance and repairs on the aircraft and the technician or pilot would be able to see all of the dark areas of the aircraft’s mechanical features.

Yet, Mid Mode could be used when walking at night to and from the hangar or airport lounge.

There’s more, Low Mode could be used for navigating around in an unfamiliar hotel room at night.

Ultra Low Mode could be used for reading your favorite literature or using the remote control without disturbing your roommate in the hotel room at night.

The dedicated red LED light feature is probably what makes this ideal for aviators more than anything else as it allows the pilot to read instruments and charts or perform minor cockpit repairs during a nighttime flight without degrading his or her night vision. That feature alone should sell the flashlight to any aviator out there in need of a flashlight!

The optional red LED Beacon Mode will allow the owner to quickly locate this flashlight even in the most cluttered of baggage.

Wait, there’s more, and these next features would prove indispensable should the something catastrophic happen:

The Tactical Strobe could help fight off a hijacker, by disorienting him or her. Also, the lanyard holes that recess on either side of the tail cap could do some damage to the hijacker’s face, eyes or teeth if struck hard enough, further disorienting him or her. A hard enough blow to the hijacker’s temple or windpipe could completely neutralize the situation. Take this advice at your own risk as the hijacker may also be a skilled fighter.

The SOS Strobe could be used in the case of a downed aircraft either on land or at sea (because it is waterproof) to identify your location to rescue crews on a dark night.

So, to all my aviator friends out there, I hope you all can see that this flashlight is a useful and equally budget-friendly option for your occupational illumination.

And not just aviators, but anyone who works in the transportation and logistics industries at night would quickly fall in love with the NiteCore MT20A.

This flashlight could also be ideal for boat and ship captains in the wheelhouse, for similar reasons, provided they keep it out of the engine room and away from any flammable cargo.

Long-haul truck drivers and locomotive engineers could also appreciate this flashlight for nighttime operations, again provided they keep it away from any flammable cargo and make durn sure to turn it off while refueling.

The only gripes I have about this flashlight are two and they are:

Why can’t the main LED be a Warm White, especially for inspection and maintenance purposes, but also for Medevac pilots to better examine patients?

AND

Why can’t American companies makes something like this in an American factory?

This therefore concludes my review of the NiteCore MT20A, I hope you, the reader, are now more informed on your flashlight purchasing options…

Love Among Terrorism

It’s a quiet Friday evening.

I sit alone in my apartment eating white beans and rice seasoned with Jalapeno peppers soaking in white vinegar.

Who knew such a cheap meal could taste so good?

After I take my last bite, I clear my table and walk to the kitchen sink to wash dishes.

I pour some dish detergent in the basin and draw the hot water.

As I wash the pots, plates, and utensils, I think about my wonderful girlfriend and how she and I will spend the day together tomorrow.

I am 31 and she is 27, but we pretend that she is 17 and I am 21.

She brightens up my otherwise sad life and I thank God for her and only wish that we would have met much sooner.

Suddenly, I hear a very loud sound, as if large a bomb went off. My whole apartment vibrates.

I look out from my second story kitchen window to see a giant fireball against the night sky.

There must have been some kind of an explosion at the tank barge terminal.

I passed through this area on a daily basis for years, to attend school and work never once thinking that the whole place could go up in flames.

It wasn’t until I began drawing disability and moved into the apartment complex adjacent to the tank farms that the thought of an explosion crossed my mind.

I watch the flames light up the sky.

Suddenly, the weather radio in my kitchen sounds its siren.

I touch the screen so I can hear the broadcast.

My thoughts and fears are confirmed there was an explosion at the tank barge terminal.

I walk into my living room, adjust my antenna and switch my television set on.

I tune it to the local news station.

High school football is interrupted by an emergency bulletin.

The station owner is now live and he seems to think that this explosion was no accident and therefore an act of terrorism.

I watch him tell his viewers how justice must be served.

In actuality, I’m disappointed but not surprised at all. There has been serious division in this country for some time now and our enemies laugh at us.

They also know our weak points all too well.

Suddenly, there is a knock at my door.

I answer.

A young sheriff’s deputy orders me to evacuate immediately.

I promptly comply with the orders and then beg him, “Please be careful.”

“I’ll try my best, sir, you just get your butt out of here,” He replies.

With that, I place two tee shirts and two pairs of pants in my everyday carry backpack, along with my medications and the few valuables I can take with me, then walk out the door.

I lock the deadbolt, then walk down the stairs to my car, a 1991 Oldsmobile.

As I put the key in my ignition, my phone rings.

It’s my girlfriend calling.

Hurriedly, I answer, “Hey, Bae.”

“There was an explosion near you. Are you all right?”

“Yes, I have to evacuate, so I hope I can come your way.”

“Please do! I definitely need to see you right now anyway, because I was so afraid you were killed in that awful explosion.”

“I’m okay, in fact, I’m pulling out of the complex’s parking lot right now.”

“Okay, focus on driving safely.”

“Traffic might be very dense right now, though.”

“Just be careful, I’ll wait all night for you if I have to.”

“Okay, bae I’ll get there when I can. I love you and I don’t ever want to lose you.”

“I love you too and you won’t.”

“Okay, bae, bye.”

“Bye.”

I continue driving.

Cops are directing traffic at every signaled intersection, to get everyone out quickly.

I drive through the darkness. The closer I get to my girlfriend’s family’s house, it seems the longer the trip takes.

Finally, I pull into the driveway, where she is nervously sitting on the porch.

I step out of my car and she longingly rushes up to me.

We embrace, then share several sweet kisses.

“Thank God, you’re safe, bae!” She tells me.

I hold her by her beautiful, curvy waist, then look her in the eyes and speak, “I love you so much, bae!”

“I love you too!” She replies.

Her family then greets me, angered over the terrorist attack, but relieved that I survived…

A Review of the Texas Instruments TI-12 Math Explorer

As with flashlights, I have had a lifelong fascination with calculators.

I’ve frequently written about them in the past and I always carry one or two in my edc backpack.

This piece will be me reviewing a calculator that I formerly edced from 2012 to about 2016, the Texas Instruments TI-12 Math Explorer. It was initially introduced in 1987 revised in 1989, 1991, 1993 and finally 1997 (the version which I own) and still being produced by the mid-2000s, (mine came off the assembly line in February of 2005) despite an upgraded version, the TI-15 being released in February of 2000.

By the way, I would like to extend a big thank you to the wonderful people at the Datamath Calculator Museum for the photo of this calculator. I do not own the photo.

They are an excellent source of reference material pertaining to calculators and I have spent countless hours on that site, enriching my brain.

There are three to four other items which I had carried in conjunction with this calculator and they are a Blue Incandescent Mini Maglite flashlight, a Black Mini Maglite LED Pro flashlight (serial number: PG000107905), a single coping blade Cabon Steel Klein Electrician’s knife and sometimes a Black 3 D Cell Incandescent Maglite flashlight (serial number: D3049220554.)

The TI-Math Explorer was designed for elementary and middle school use. However, my sixth and seventh-grade math teacher (same person for both grades, Mrs. Phyllis Holman) was teaching us some cool math that was way ahead of the curriculum and was somehow able to get our parents to buy us each a TI-30 for her class!

In sixth grade, I used one of the many hand me down calculators that my mom’s students had discarded.

For seventh grade, I was able to convince my mom to buy me a brand new TI-30 XIIS (double line 1999 version), which I would carry in my pocket both during school and in the off hours. I would indeed sometimes carry it, but I didn’t everyday carry it.

When I was in school, I kept it in my school bag. When I was out of school, I kept it in my toolbox.

I had this calculator well into eighth grade then I misplaced it during the summer between eighth and ninth grade.

I had, believe it or not, lost interest in calculators (as well as flashlights) by this point!

It was in eighth grade that I had first learned about the TI-12 Math Explorer.

My math teacher and distant cousin, Mister Clarence Joseph Tastet, had several in his classroom which he would loan out to the students.

I never needed one of his calculators because I always had my TI-30 in his class.

By the way, one of Mr. Tastet’s amusing quirks was that he very matter of factly said, “Uh…Calculators don’t bounce!” every time a calculator fell on the floor.

He left Vandebilt Catholic High School after teaching me.

Many of the students were so durn ugly to him, I guess it was because of his temper and his no-nonsense approach to teaching. Even though we are like fourth cousins, we have the exact same temper when provoked. By the way, I will say that if you knew him outside of the classroom, he’s a really cool person and extremely smart.

At some point, I had even joked that VCHS’s math department had purchased the TI-Math Explorer in bulk because they matched the said school’s colors.

At the end of my sophomore year, I had found a gently used TI-83 Plus with no name in it, so I was able to keep it.

I would be needing one anyway for the next two math courses I was required to take.

Having this calculator briefly reignited my interest in calculators, but mostly for playing games.

During recess and class if we had free time, I would play games which I had downloaded, like 1943, Mario, Harvest Moon, and Duck Hunt. Of course, I also had to download the Mirage Operating System in order to run games written in the Assembly language on the TI-83 and TI-84 models.

I only got chewed out twice, believe it or not.

During my junior year, I had twice found a TI-Math Explorer laying on the floor.

Both times, there were the owners’ names written on the instruction card

One of them belonged to senior Katherine Mohana, which I immediately returned to her.

I forget whom the other one had belonged to, but I promptly returned that one as well.

Even back then, I guess I had fervently believed in always trying to be kind and honest.

Probably what reinforced this behavior, was that there were signs all over the school which boldly stated, “Practice Random Acts of Kindness.”

By the way, those signs should be placed in every school at every level of education, because they obviously work!

Around my senior year, I had begun to secretly covet a TI-12 Math Explorer.

However, there was only one place that sold them locally and they wanted over $25 for one.

That place was Lee’s Educational Supply in the Historical District of Downtown Houma.

Wal-Mart, Target, Office Depot/Max and even Radio Shack sold calculators that were considerably more powerful (TI-30, TI-34 and TI-36), not to mention their Casio and Sharp counterparts and the knock-off versions all for somewhat less, than what Lee’s Supply was charging for a TI-12 Math Explorer so I had hung up the idea of purchasing one.

I had other interests at the time such as collecting knives and radio equipment. My flashlight interest was also coming back. So that is what I focused my spending cash on.

Fast forward to around the age of twenty-five. I was frequently helping family, friends and now ex in-laws perform household and automotive do it yourself projects.

I was not the expert in the group, except when working on electrical or HVAC equipment, but I soon realized that a calculator which could do arithmetic with fractions, mixed numbers and decimals would be extremely useful.

Sometimes knowledge on what size socket was needed or a piece of wood needed to be cut to a precise amount or just basic arithmetic for a construction or electrical formula needed to be quickly carried out.

In November of 2012 or so, I had seen a used TI-Math Explorer in pristine condition selling for $6.99 with free shipping on eBay.

I had just enough money in my checking account, so I happily purchased it!

It came in the mail a few days later and I had begun heavily using it.

The TI-Math Explorer, while intended to be a classroom calculator, fit the bill perfectly.

Not only could it quickly convert fractions to decimals as well as add, subtract, multiply or divide fractions, decimals, and mixed numbers, it was rugged enough to be carried in a backpack or tool satchel.

It can also do exponents and has a Pi approximation constant of with a precision of 3.1415927, which is featured in lower end scientific calculators.

Furthermore, it runs strictly on solar power, which means it never needs batteries, nor will it be damaged by a leaking battery!

Due to the calculator’s rugged construction, which was to encourage use in the schoolyard, the solar cells and LCD were very protected, it made the perfect calculator for a tradesman or do it your selfer, which is virtually an unrealized market!

The keys and cabinet are made of hard plastic and it comes with a handy cover for protection when being carried or not in use.

I am, however, the only person I know of though, that used a TI-Math Explorer in a non-classroom setting.

In June of 2014, I had bought a Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro, mainly for assistance in my experiments with weather instruments, but also for weight conversions when going to the doctor and assisting me with computer and radio scanner programming (the little that I know.)

I had kept my Math Explorer in my edc backpack though and would still use it up until about 2016.

In 2016, I had purchased a Craftsman Satchel to put all of my Craftsman tools and easily carry them whenever I needed to make a repair or assist in making a repair and I ended up placing my Math Explorer and all of the aforementioned gadgets I had carried with it in that bag.

In 2018, I had placed it and other gadgets that are sentimental to me in a tactical MOLLE pouch, that I keep near my bed.

For years, I had been wanting Texas Instruments to produce some calculators for tradespeople as other companies had done.

Lord knows their calculators are built very well, perform with high accuracy and precision not to mention they are very easy to use.

However, my opinion isn’t important enough and if it was, Victorinox would have also made a high precision thermometer for people working in the HVAC and food service industry and other companies would have made some cool gadgets that I had suggested.

When I was an HVAC student, I was playing with the idea of teaching myself machine language to write an app for graphing calculators for use in the HVAC field.

My professor, by the way, thought this was a brilliant idea, however, smartphones have become so common that they are used in place of calculators out in the field by tradespeople.

This calculator, The TI-12 Math Explorer goes above and beyond its original call of duty and my experiences with it are indeed very valid proof.

I give it a rating of 5 stars!

I guess I have a way of finding a use for devices where they turn out to be perfect solutions for situations which they were never really marketed far.

Back to “Product Reviews”

A Review of the Radio Shack® Touchscreen SAME Weather Radio with AM/FM

As stated before, I have been both afraid of as well as fascinated by the weather since I was a toddler.

I’ve also been fascinated by all sorts of technological devices since then.

I’m not sure if this interest was acquired or is it in my blood.

All in all, because of this interest, I frequently shopped at Radio Shack, until I no longer could.

In February of 2015, the Radio Shack in Southland Mall was shutting down and going out of business.

I went there to see what sales I could find.

I found an $80 for around $8, a Radio Shack 12-996.

In September of 2018, this radio is still going strong.

This particular model gets the AM (Medium Wave) and FM broadcast bands in addition to the Weather Radio channels.

It is “Public Alert” certified, meaning I can program the SAME code for any County or Parish and have it only go off for when there is an alert for that specific administrative division

It also has an alarm clock.

For power, it runs on either four AA batteries or an AD/DC wall adapter.

The front firing speaker on this radio has superb audio quality.

The entire controls on this radio are controlled by a touchscreen interface, something which required me getting used to. At the time of purchase, I didn’t even have a touchscreen phone.

However, once I had gotten accustomed to this device, it has become a faithful companion.

When I lived with my wife, this was a very useful bedside radio.

After her and I split up, and I moved out, I kept it and it became an equally useful kitchen radio.

As of now it rules my kitchen counter and keeps me entertained and informed while cooking, washing dishes or doing anything else that requires me to be in my kitchen.

Aesthetically, it reminds me of one of those kitchen radios that housewives had during the Golden Age of Radio. Granted it has an integrated circuit instead of vacuum tubes, a touch screen instead of knobs and buttons and a PLL tuner instead of a dial tuner, but the form factor still reminds me of one of those antique radios from that era. I’ll go as far as to say how I frequently think of a woman walking home with her family from church on December 7, 1941, then going into her kitchen and listening to the radio as she prepares Sunday Dinner. Soon she hears about the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor, then walks back to her church to pray for the victims and her country.

The radios of those days only received AM, however, this radio also gets FM and Weather.

Hopefully, it will keep me entertained and informed for years to come.

It faithfully picks up every weather alert I have programmed it to and blares a loud siren.

It also picks up every AM and FM station within reason and range.

This is one [recent] Radio Shack product that, I feel still has a superior quality.

There are only two things I don’t like about this radio and they are:
I wish the backlight could be turned off when the radio is on standby.

I wish the AM and FM tuners could have an international mode where FM tunes in 100 or 50 KHz steps and AM could be set to tune in 9 KHz steps while in other countries, but have the default 10 KHz when being used in North America.

I know the radio isn’t really designed for AM DXing, a better AM antenna should have been internally installed, but I myself am an AM DXer, so that is why I suggested this feature.

I would have never bought this radio at its MSRP, but since I got it on clearance, I do not regret my purchase at all.

These are a bit hard to find brand new these days, but eBay frequently carries them.

If you can get one, you will enjoy it.

All in all, I give this product a 4.5 out of 5 stars!

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