My Blog

A Review of the SwissGear 3918 Backpack

So, just to be clear, I do not own the image that is featured on this page. I retrieved it from Target’s website and am giving all credit to whomever credit is due.

So, as anyone who reads this blog on the regular knows, I do firmly believe in EDC. I have been this way since childhood.

I have employed a backpack as a means to EDC what I want and need to have with me since my early twenties. The brands of backpacks I have owned over the years were either Wenger, Victorinox, or later SwissGear (which is very similar to Wenger.) I am very prejudiced in favor of the Swiss for so many reasons. I just truly admire the people, the government, the products, and the culture of The Swiss Confederation. I am not Swiss myself, at least not that I know of, but I do have mostly French and a considerable amount of German blood flowing through my veins.

I am disappointed to report that my Wenger Origins backpack of which I had recently purchased and wrote a review on a few weeks ago has sustained some damage. When I can locate a competent tailor, I will try to have it repaired. What I think had happened was, a while back, I spent a few nights at a friend’s house and packed too much clothing in the main compartment, which tore the inner lining fabric. This is not the first time a backpack has torn on me, by the way. I was disappointed and slightly ticked because I now needed a new EDC backpack. I was only slightly ticked because of the low price I paid for it. I’ve also learned not to write reviews of products so soon after purchasing them.

In the meantime, on July 13, 2020, I borrowed some cash and took a drive to my local Target to purchase a replacement backpack.

I didn’t go to the luggage section as I usually do, but rather the back to school section, where there were more Swiss backpacks.

I considered a few different SwissGear models but eventually settled on the SA3918 18.5 (or 19) Inch Backpack.

I paid $54.99+tax for it, which ultimately came out to $60 and some change.

Afterward, I ran some other errands, then went home and did some research on my newly purchased backpack.

Not long after, I found out that Target’s Website was selling it for $49.99 but the local store sold it to me for $54.99.

The next day I went back with my receipt and explained this to them. Promptly, the lady at customer service refunded me $5.50 in cash. Kudos to her!

So, at the time of writing this piece, I have owned my new backpack for ten days.

For the most part, I like it.

I say for the most part because, while it is indeed sturdy and fashionable and it does boldly show the Swiss emblem, there are two features it lacks that I wish it had:

I wish there was a dedicated tablet sleeve in addition to the laptop pocket.
AND
I wish there was an extra zipper pouch to store my computer repair tools, as my previous backpacks have had.

But other than that I truly enjoy this backpack and those are just minor flaws.

Speaking of showing off the Swiss emblem which is a white cross against a red background, I see it as a dual purpose:
Not only am I making a statement on how much I admire the Swiss, but since it features a cross, I am also publically identifying myself as a Christian when I carry this backpack with me. If you, the reader, think I am highly prejudiced in favor of the Swiss, let me make it clear that I am infinitely much more prejudiced in favor of Jesus Christ and my fellow brothers and sisters in Him! By the way, my brothers and sisters in Christ come from every nation, color, ethnicity, and race, but we are all purchased by That Precious Blood of Jesus Christ Who is God come in the flesh! I just pray that God will give me the grace and courage to always name the Name of Christ no matter the consequences!

If that wasn’t enough, I do find that this backpack appears to be tactical and fashionable at the same time! That is truly rare to be both, although it is becoming less rare. As an American, I truly appreciate tactical-grade products. I’m not very keen on fashion, I mean I wore a Casio G-Shock to my sister’s wedding, but I know just about anything Swiss will automatically be fashionable. I had previously also written about the comparisons and contrasts of tactical and fashionable a time or two.

By the way, don’t take my word for all of this, here is what Target’s website has to say, “Searching for a modern spin on a classic tactical looking design, this SWISSGEAR 3918 Laptop backpack has exactly what it takes. Fully equipped to take on the battle of the day, this everyday carry backpack has the features you’re looking for.”

Here are some of the features, taken from Target’s website with my added commentary after the hyphen:
Padded laptop compartment with built-in corner hold-down strap designed to carry most 15″ portable computers-I currently keep my tablet in there but hopefully will buy another laptop soon. In front of the laptop is where I keep my Bible and Bible study materials…

Large capacity main compartments designed to carry folders, binders, and books-I carry my scanners, chargers, and reading glasses here.

Organizer compartment with key/clip fob, slip pocket, and multiple divider pockets-I keep my flashlights, multi-tools, USB drives, calculator and weather radio in this section.

Front zippered quick access pocket for more frequently needed items-This is where I keep my masks and medical supplies, and dual exterior side water bottle pockets with reflective pull tabs-I have an insulated bottle which I plan to store in these pockets for hydrating on the go.

Ergonomically contoured, padded shoulder straps with breathable mesh fabric and reflective accent material for added safety-This will keep me cool and visible if ever walking around at night (such as commuting to and from evening church services in the dark.)

Padded, Airflow back panel with mesh fabric for superior back ventilation and support-keeps the electronics reasonably cool even in hot climates., and an integrated add-a-bag trolley strap on back panel to easily glide over carry-on’s telescopic handle-This makes airline, bus, and railroad travel slightly easier.

Not mentioned on Target’s Website but this backpack also features a metal D-ring on the upper side near the top handle. I use this to attach my key lanyard.

Here are some of the physical specifications, also taken from Target’s website:

Dimensions: 18.5 Inches (46.99 Centimeters) High by 14.1 Inches (35.814 Centimeters) Wide by 6.9 Inches (17.526 Centimeters) Deep.
Tare Weight: 1.54 Pounds (0.69853225 Kilograms).
Capacity: 25 Liters (6.604301306 US Gallons or 5.499231207 British Gallons).
It is constructed of what appears to be a durable Polyester.

The recommended user age for this product is 10 years old and up and it comes with a 5 Year Limited Warranty.

Target’s website went on to say this, “At the heart of this bag is an electronics-only compartment complete with a built-in laptop sleeve for superior protection for your portable computer. Featuring a large capacity main compartment large enough to carry books and binders, side water bottle pockets, a breathable ergonomic suspension system and an organizer compartment up front, this bag has what it takes to get your through your day.”

Target seems to be correct on this.

I just hope this backpack will last me at least a couple of years.

All in all, I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. I took off half a star for lack of a tablet pocket and internal small zipper compartment

I guess this, therefore, concludes my review of the SwissGear 3918 Backpack.

Praise God, my back doesn’t hurt as much as usual!

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

May God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

 

 

A Review of the Realistic (Radio Shack®) 12-719 Deluxe AM/FM Radio

Just for the record, I do not own the featured image on this page.

Rather, I cropped it out of the 1987 Radio Shack Catalog.

The two books of which I have the most knowledge are of course The Bible and [most of] The Radio Shack Catalogs.

Unfortunately, I know the latter much better than the former.

Well, from 2001 until most of their stores were shut down, I was a very loyal patron to Radio Shack.

I witnessed their very last days of true glory before they became just a glorified mobile phone store and therefore put all other electronics on the back burner.

That, I believe, is what killed them, honestly.

Well, using cheaper components in their products was also a factor.

In 2014, there was an attempt to restore Radio Shack to its 1980s glory, but it never was fully realized. Too little, too late.

So, as of the past several years, eBay is my go-to “retailer” for just about any vintage or discontinued product my heart may desire.

eBay, by the way, is amazing because I can usually find what I am looking for and many times in fairly decent condition, sometimes even mint!

I own several AM/FM receivers that came off the assembly line from the 1980s to the present. I also own quite a few Weather Radios with production dates ranging from the 1970s to the 2010s. And I have some scanners dating from the late 1980s to the mid to late 2010s.

This piece will be about a pocket-sized AM/FM radio, sold at Radio Shack from the latter parts of 1986 until some point in 1992. It was first seen in the 1987 Radio Shack catalog. The model number is 12-719.

Mine is not exactly the same as the one pictured in this featured image.

How do I know this?

Well, the unit featured in the 1987 Radio Shack catalog features an AM frequency range of 53*10 KHz to 160*10 KHz.

However, my particular unit which according to the sticker behind the battery door was made in January of 1991 and it features an AM frequency range of 53*10 KHz to 171*10 KHz.

What strikes me as odd, though, is that I thought the AM (or Medium Wave) band in the United States was not expanded to 171*10 KHz AKA 1710 KHz AKA 1.71 MHz until 1993. At the time, I was too young to know the difference nor did anyone around me care about such a thing anyway. My family on both sides is very technology ignorant, unfortunately. Some family members of mine are even downright hostile to technology. The only immediate family member of mine that was as keen on technology as I am was my Maternal Grandpa, Hughie Gauslin, but he died almost 29 years before I was born. I’ll just say that he would have seen some wonderful things had he lived to be an old man. So, if anyone is willing to inform me about this AM broadcast Band Expansion of the early 1990s, I am well open for correction and/or enlightenment…

All in all, I had purchased this particular radio on eBay in the latter parts of 2019, mostly as a sentimental collector’s item.

However, I have found an everyday use for it, hence my desire to write this review.

I’ll explain:

I moved to my current residence in May of 2018.

Since the Spring of 2017, I had been listening to NPR on and off, usually tuning in All Things Considered while doing laundry. I would go to an ex-in-law of my now ex-in-laws’ house where my now ex-wife and I would use his equipment to wash and dry our laundry. In turn, we would cook a meal for him and, also, I would do shopping for stuff he needed. There was a Dollar General near his house, of which I would frequent to purchase groceries and supplies. It was on one of these laundry days in 2017, that I thought about my joke in which I started referring to Dollar General is “Ruble General.” My basis for that statement was that shopping at Dollar General must have been what shopping in the Soviet Union was like. Multiple sources present in detail the product shortages, long lines, and sub par merchandise. The official currency of the USSR was the Soviet Ruble. When not operating the laundry appliances or cooking, my now ex wife would watch television with his kids or play on her phone. I, on the other hand, when not shopping or folding the laundry was sitting on the back porch, listening to NPR on a small Sylvania boom box that had previously belonged to his recently deceased daughter. She was, in fact, the fellow aspiring writer whose untimely death provoked my desire to launch this very blog! While I do watch broadcast television now and then, I detest what subscription-based television has devolved into. Therefore, I neither subscribe to any television service or streaming service (mostly because of my low-speed home Internet connection) and therefore, only use an antenna. Usually, though, I am either listening to a scanner of some sort or NPR. Even NPR irritates me when they become biased in their reporting and especially their editorials and commentary. NPR is supposed to serve the entire US population, not just certain political factions, whichever they may be. Maybe, if they were more neutral, they could attract more listeners and therefore could have more revenue to budget with. Yes, I do listen to NPR for the news, sometimes at least, but I take it with a grain of salt. As a Christian, I am convicted when they start with their dissenting of the current administration and I continue listening. So much so, that one Wednesday Evening in February of 2020, I was listening to “All Things Considered” afterward I had walked to my church and was sitting outside waiting for the Pastor to arrive for the evening’s prayer meeting and Bible study. I was reading my Bible and came across Proverbs 31:3 which clearly states, “Don’t spend your energy on women or your efforts on those who destroy kings.” The Bible was written during a time when the only heads of state were indeed royalty, namely kings or queens. However, NPR like many other media entities is trying to destroy the current American head of state, even though he’s a president, not a king. I will go as far as to say that God has even the most oppressive rulers in power for a reason unbeknownst to me and that all government was designed by God to deter wickedness. If the private media wants to dissent, that’s their choice but public radio which is supposed to serve every American ought not to do it and God’s Word commands me to avoid them because of that. This can be a difficult command at times because I appreciate NPR much more for their content which covers the disciplines of technology, culture (especially the culinary aspect), and medicine rather than their political dissent or sometimes biased reporting. It is definitely of a much higher caliber than most of what is available on pay television, yet it’s free. And not only that, if I listen to NPR enough, my writing will be enhanced. Well, I was listening to it a few hours ago and I’d like to think this piece is well written.

So, yes NPR is heard primarily on the lower portion of the FM broadcast band, but you, the reader are probably asking, “What does it have to do with the review of a vintage radio receiver other than the fact that it can receive FM broadcasts?”

I’m glad you, the reader, asked, or at least, I assume you’re asking.

Remember how I briefly mentioned that I moved to my current residence in May of 2018?

I do enjoy living there for the most part.

I get along fine with the overwhelming majority of my neighbors, it’s relatively peaceful and safe, I am within walking distance to my church and a few retailers, just a short drive away from other retailers, medical care and family members. My one complaint is that my FM radio reception is terrible due to my residence being located in close proximity to an FM broadcast transmitter facility. This means that the signal from that transmitter bleeds all across the dials on most of my FM radio receivers.

Listening to NPR is impossible, even though the NPR transmitter tower I of which I receive the signal from is only a few more miles away as the crow flies.

There are, however, the radios in my possession which are pretty much immune to these ill-effects:

My car radio.
My kitchen radio, of which I had written a review of almost two years ago.
And the one I am currently reviewing in this piece.

The first two have high-quality frequency synthesizers that can filter out the overbearing nearby transmissions.

However, this radio I am reviewing features an AFC or Automatic Frequency Control circuit which enables it to lock on the desired frequency and reject all other frequencies no matter how close the offending transmitter is.

Therefore, because of its portability and rugged enough design, I can take this radio, a Realistic 12-719, anywhere in my residence and even outside and still hear most FM broadcasts within reason. I don’t have to be tied to my kitchen or my car. I also can sit in my bedroom and listen without needing the kitchen radio to be on so gosh durn loud and disturbing my neighbors.

I forget exactly how much I paid for it in late 2019, but it retailed for $19.95 throughout its run. That would be the equivalent of $36.66 (1992)-$46.93 (1986) in terms of 2020 Dollars.

This product was a success for Radio Shack, being in production as long as it was. Furthermore, there are plenty of them that show up on eBay still in good condition both cosmetically and performance-wise. Mine works better than just about all of my modern radios in a similar, modern equivalent form factor.

It was considered the deluxe model of all pocket portable AM/FM radios sold by Radio Shack during the time.

Some of the features include:
Aluminum Trim-Makes the cabinet reasonably rugged.
Built-in AFC-FM-This feature alone is why I am still using it in 2020!
Hi/Lo Tone Selector Switch-Lo for News and Talk, Hi for Music.
Rotary Tuning and Volume Controls-Self explanatory, but the Rotary Tuner is considerably accurate. The volume control needs to be dusted out, but that can be chalked up to its age of almost 30 years at the time of writing this!
Telescoping FM Antenna-I would rather a wire antenna because such an antenna is miserably flimsy, but it does pull in the FM signals generously!
A Monoaural Earphone Jack-Good enough for everyone except a die-hard audiophile.
2.25 Inch Speaker-Large enough to provide decent audio, yet small enough to be compact, at least to some degree I mean it was the 1980s and early 1990s.
The physical dimensions are: 5.1875 Inches High by 3.5 Inches Wide by 1.25 Inches Deep-Not as carrying friendly as modern standards dictate but semiconductors and other components weren’t as discrete as they are now.
Its power supply was a standard 9 Volt Battery-Most pocket portable radios of today are powered by AA or AAA batteries, but from the late 1950s until the very early 1990s 9 Volt batteries were the power supply of choice for many pocket-portable radios.
The frequency coverage was roughly 88 MHz to 108 MHz on FM and, depending on the year it was manufactured, 530 KHz to either 1600 KHz or 1710 KHz on AM.
For those of you who are curious, it was manufactured in The Phillippines to Radio Shack’s custom standards-As of the late 2010s there seems to have been a resurgence of manufacturing in that country but I don’t think it is up to what it was in the 1980s, 1990s, and very early 2000s.

Unless I want to receive broadcasts in stereo or high definition, this radio is still useful in 2020 and hopefully will still be useful for decades to come.

The audio quality is superb, especially considering that it is a mere pocket portable.

It beats most of my other radios because I can get NPR and any other FM broadcast without interference. AM performance is fairly decent as well. Before discovering NPR in 2017, I was more of an AM DXer. Talk radio, particularly on the AM band was wonderful in New Orleans until a very wicked woman named Katrina did her wicked works.

I have to quit now because my back hurts.

So this, therefore, concludes my review of the Radio Shack 12-719 Deluxe AM/FM Radio.

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

May God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

My Current Situation according to my Narrative

This is my current situation as told according to my narrative.

It may be accurate, like it may be inaccurate. It may be both in varying degrees.

By the way, a handful of others familiar with my current situation will agree with this narrative.

Without further ado, here it is:

I believe some people who know me or at least know of me and they don’t want me to be happy. Most of these people are likely from my past, but a few are also in my present.

I had suspected this for some time, but a friend recently pointed it out to me that there are a lot of people who do not want me to be happy.

They are quite large in numbers and they all have their reasons, of which I will attempt to list:

If the ones from my past don’t want me to be happy, it’s because I must have done something to make them angry with me. When they see blessings and joy come into my life, they were infuriated. Some of these people date back to my childhood. I know I was opinionated and didn’t exactly fit in with the rest, as a child, but maybe I am a more unique individual as a result of this. Not only that, as a child I was prideful and flaunted my intelligence. It would be crazy to think that those from my childhood did not let go of their hatred for me, especially since I have not seen some of them in almost twenty years.

Some of the people from my more recent past don’t want me to be happy because of the content of what I write and how it conflicts with everything or at least some things they stand for. I’m told quite frequently how eloquent of a writer I am, so I guess I am gifted with getting my point across accurately with the written word. And, anyone who disagrees with my content would naturally feel threatened by this. The First Amendment protects my freedom of speech and expression, among other things, so they aren’t able to directly silence me, therefore, they resent me. When they see me experiencing joy and pleasure, they are overcome with contempt for me.

Another handful of people both in my past and present don’t want to see me happy because I do indeed get a disability pension while they go to work or worked most of their life. Automatically, most of them believe that anyone who is less than them materially or financially or simply doesn’t work as hard as they do/did doesn’t deserve to be any happier than they are, and yes, many of them are downright miserable. So seeing me happy makes them see red. While I am frequently negatively portraying these types of people in my writing, I do truly feel sorry for them, unlike the rest.

The final group of people who don’t want to see me happy is the ones who are opposed to my Faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s face it Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh and is tremendously polarizing. You either love Him with all that you’ve got or you hate Him with a passion. Those that are indifferent won’t be that way once they get to know of Him. There are many more who will hate Him than love Him because, among other things, He exposes everyone’s wickedness. Human beings are wicked but they hate it when their wickedness is proven to themselves much less to others. Yes, Jesus Christ exposes every bit of wickedness, but He is willing and able to pardon us of all that wickedness if we put our faith in Him. He paid a very dear price to accomplish this but the price is paid in full! Those who have had their wickedness pardoned by Him can’t help but love Him and yes I with them want to fall prostrate at His feet and worship Him with every fiber of my being! God be praised in Jesus’ Name! I pray that I will always submit and confess when Christ exposes the wickedness in my life. But the fact remains that He is my Lord and if they hate Him, they will automatically hate me. Many see all that I am blessed with and they are angered because it was all due to God’s unearned favor. But they are too prideful to come to Christ themselves.

There are also wicked beings in the spiritual realm who do not want me to be happy and they are the ones who carry out various attacks and hindrances on me. They are also activated by the resentment of my happiness from those four aforementioned groups of people. They are energized by the strife and their constant efforts are to propagate this strife everywhere to oppress humanity. Not to mention, they are angered more than anyone else by my Faith in Jesus Christ. The fact that I have been eternally redeemed despite all of my sins and shortcomings yet they cannot be redeemed no matter what elevates their anger to degrees far beyond what mortal man is capable of. That anger combined with the anger from the others is what fuels all these attacks and hindrances in my life.

I’m not sure whether or not even God my Heavenly Father wants me to be happy. Nowhere in the Bible is happiness ever promised. I know God wants me to be holy and expects me to be content in all situations because of what He gave me eternally. For the most part, I am content. Although, if my happiness is derived from godly sources, I know He is rejoicing with me!

I am still happy though, despite all of this, but I could be much happier. I know the one thing that would indeed make me happier, but it seems to be perpetually out of my reach. I believe it is held over my head and out of my reach by the wicked activities of demons in the spiritual realm, fueled by their hatred and the other people’s hatred of me. God allows this for whatever reason but I believe one day, though, He will intervene on my behalf and it will be at the perfect time. By the way, what I am desiring is both carnal and spiritual simultaneously. For a year and some months, I had such happiness but it was abruptly removed a few months ago. However, the whole ordeal has brought me closer to my God. I fervently pray that God restores that level of happiness in my life but only in such a way that glorifies Him! The previous source of happiness only glorified God to a slight degree and many times was instead a form of idolatry. There were other factors and ultimately I see how God allowed it to be removed from me for my protection.

There are other sources for my happiness, though, such as helping others whenever I can, especially helping my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Just going to church and fellowshipping with my brothers and sisters in Christ is a major source of happiness for me in and of itself. Another source of my happiness is the pleasure I get when I write something and I make all of my readers feel and think. This is especially true when I write a love story and I provoke all sorts of wonderful emotions from my readers. And even better, when I can cause my readers to feel what I am feeling, mission accomplished is all I can say! Those sources of happiness come from either God or within myself and it would be nearly impossible to be taken away. Of course, I am ashamed to admit that some material objects in my possession also provide a source of happiness, because they either supplement my hobbies or help me to be prepared. If not for anything else, they help meet my earthly needs. And not only that, they are definite reminders of how my God has blessed me immensely!

So, while many do not want me to be happy, they’re only able to take it so far, really only as far as God allows them to. Maybe God allows it to the degree He does as a form of correction upon me, after all, He corrects those whom He loves. But when God will be done correcting me, I know He has even more blessings in store for me and as long as I abide in Him, those blessings will remain. Of course, my goal must need be to abide in Him regardless, blessings, or no blessings!

You may believe this like you may not, but I feel it is true and parts of it I can back up with The Bible.

However, I will wholeheartedly admit that some is just my speculation.

Still, I think you, the reader, can see the validity and genuine nature of this piece.

I hope there is something to be learned from it.

That is all.

Thank you for reading and if you are a Christian, please consider praying for me, because I covet your prayers.

May God richly bless you!

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I EDC a Calculator in addition to a Flashlight

Since infancy, I have been highly fascinated by both flashlights and calculators.

Anyone who knows me well enough is already pretty much aware of this.

Because I feel the need to be perpetually prepared, I always carry a flashlight on my person.

Because I think they are cool and useful, I also always carry a calculator in my EDC backpack or on my person.

I didn’t carry both a flashlight and calculator permanently together until late 2012 when I was 25 going on 26.

The combination was a Xenon Mini Maglite painted blue paired with a TI Math Explorer. These are now stored in my tool satchel.

Fast forward to June of 2014, I started carrying a Xenon Mini Maglite painted black with a TI-36 X Pro.

Then in 2019, I would sometimes carry a TI-34 MultiView with either a Mini Maglite painted blue or a Streamlight Jr. LED or both.

In the featured image is my NiteCore i400R paired with a Casio fx-300ES PLUS, which I began carrying in the late Spring of 2020.

The first time I carried a calculator was in early 1995 at the age of 8. It was a discarded Casio fx-991 of some kind that my Mom had gotten from one of her students. But I didn’t pair it with any flashlight.

Then in October of 1996, I purchased a Tiger Electronics Data Pad which was a toy electronic organizer. Sometimes I would pair it with a small flashlight of which, I cannot find any data on. I didn’t carry both of them together that often and they eventually gave out.

In December of 1997, I briefly carried a Royal scientific calculator but I don’t remember the model number. It was another hand me down from my Mom’s students. One morning, while waiting to catch the bus, I observed a low flying plane. I imagined to myself how cool it would be for me to be aboard that plane and using that calculator to assist with computing fuel consumption and other variables needed to fly. I didn’t have a decent pocket-sized flashlight to pair it with.

In the summer of 1998 at the age of 11.5, I purchased what would become my favorite flashlight until I discovered the tactical models, it was a Garrity Mini Rugged Lite, yellow in color. Also around this time, my Mom had purchased a value pack of LeWorld brand calculators and I took the smallest one. It was very compact, maybe the length and width of a bank card, but vertical instead of horizontal. I don’t remember the model number, but if I ever see it on eBay, I’ll purchase it. Anyway, during this summer, my Dad was teaching Special Ed Summer School and was stationed at The School for Exceptional Children in East Houma, Louisiana. Both Special Ed and Regular Ed students were attending there. I would tutor some of these kids and would usually wear a pair of Navy Blue shorts, but had that recently aforementioned flashlight and calculator in each pocket. It was for checking their math problems but also keeping scores on their worksheets they were assigned. I felt pretty important being only 11.5 yet tutoring kids. One of these days in the Summer of 1998, I was shopping while carrying this flashlight and calculator at one of the Rouse’s Supermarkets in East Houma. While I have a photographic memory, I cannot remember if it was the one on East Park or the one on Grand Calliou Road. All in all, I always liked shopping at Rouse’s.

Then after this, I didn’t carry a calculator for about two years, unless I needed it for school. I would still carry a flashlight now and then but would be frequently harassed for doing so.

In January or February of 2000, at the age of 13, I purchased a Value pack of Rayovac Industrial flashlights, a 2 AA, and a 2 D model bundled together for like $8.99. I carried the 2 AA model until it was misplaced. I still have the 2 D model.

In July of 2000, I was shopping for school supplies with my Mom and she purchased me a TI-30 X IIS, the 1999 edition. I carried it at home and school, sometimes with either the aforementioned Garrity or Rayovac flashlights.

In August or September of 2001, I misplaced that Garrity flashlight and quit carrying flashlights for a while. I was more interested in carrying communications equipment instead. I only carried calculators with my school supplies, although the groundskeeper Mister Don Ratcliff, God rest his soul, shared an interest in calculators among other things with me and he always wanted to see my calculator. This trend of not carrying flashlights would continue until 2005, although in late 2003 and early 2004 I would sometimes carry some very budget-friendly flashlights, namely an Energizer Super Charge and a Lumilite Industrial 2 AA, respectively.

On May 5, 2005, I began to carry a flashlight permanently. I have since been through a plethora of different models, but now in 2020, I’m either carrying a NiteCore i4000R or a Streamlight Jr. LED.

In the Summer of 2006, I began carrying a 2 AAA Mini Maglite, which is the smaller Mini Maglite, on and off.

In the Summer of 2007, I was carrying that previously aforementioned flashlight more often and paired it with a really neat LeWorld calculator that was solar-powered and had a greenish segmented LCD instead of the plain black and white segmented LCD I was used to. The iPhone came on the market around this time and I remember saying as I would pull that calculator out of my pocket, “Wait, I have an iPhone too…This is my iPhone!” Well, it did slightly resemble an iPhone or at least I thought so. I misplaced it around 2015 but I wish I knew the model number so I could get another one on eBay.

In December of 2007, I purchased a TI-89 on clearance at Radio Shack and I did carry it on me at times until I sold it in the Summer of 2009. There were several flashlights I had paired it with.

In the Summer of 2008, I was required to use a TI-84 for school, because a TI-89 was forbidden. I flunked that class anyway, twice actually, which was the equivalent of college algebra 101. I’m very deficient in Algebra hence the reason I can repair computers but not program them.

From November 2008 to September 2011, I was working, at least most of that period and didn’t think much about calculators, although I did carry a very basic Texas Instruments model on some of those jobs. At one job, in the Spring of 2009, I was selling shoe molding to a customer and pulled out that calculator to compute how many linear feet to cut for that customer. He ended up tipping me $10 when he saw me pull out my calculator, not bad since I was making only $8.50 an hour! He commented on how I was the smartest yard hand there. Not to blow my own horn, but maybe I was. I know I was overqualified for that job, but hey, it was 2009, all jobs much less good jobs were scarce. I think the fact that I was overqualified was what got me laid off months later. All in all, I had carried that calculator with one of my Mini Maglites or an Energizer 3 Watt Tactical flashlight and a Klein pocket knife. In January of 2010, I acquired a job as a grocer and while I could have used a calculator, I never really carried one save the cheap company-issued units. When I was given the dairy clerk job for that grocery company, I did all of my figurings with pen and paper. There is indeed a calculator made by Casio that is designed for retail and warehousing, but it isn’t readily available in The States. That’s a big mistake on Casio’s part if you ask me. I did always have a flashlight on me at that job and anywhere else. My coworkers took note of it and some even gave me flashlights. Not a single person harassed me about my flashlight interest. In September of 2011, I quit due to drastically reduced hours. I haven’t been employed since.

In 2012, I was frequently helping family, friends, and now ex-in-laws with various do-it-yourself projects. I soon realized a calculator that could do a quick and easy fraction to decimal conversion would be quite helpful. I knew a TI-Math Explorer would fit the bill, so in November of that year, I searched on eBay and found one in near-mint condition for $6.99 and free shipping. I had just enough in my checking account to cover the purchase, so I did. It has indeed helped with many do-it-yourself projects. This was the beginning of me permanently carrying a calculator as well as a flashlight.

I now have a calculator or two in my EDC backpack as well as a few flashlights for whatever situation should arise. They have come in handy quite often and yes I do show off sometimes.

As long as I can help it, I plan to carry a flashlight and a calculator for the rest of my life.

I’m no longer harassed for carrying flashlights but now and then I am still harassed for carrying calculators. However, I frankly don’t give a durn at all.

By the way, there are different ways people pronounce the word calculator and I usually get a big kick out of it. Most say it the normal way, but some say “cack-you-later” and others say “cackle-ater.”

There’s even a rap song about calculators and it is pronounced the first different way.

It always made me laugh hearing that, for so many reasons, even though there is a lot of filthy language in it.

All in all, I guess this concludes my piece about how I carry a calculator in addition to a flashlight.

My back is killing me and not only that, I have to go check on my laundry.

I hope you, the reader, have been informed as well as entertained, and may God richly bless you!

Contact Me

Back to “Personal Reflections”

Addressing the Offensive Language used on VHF Marine Communications

There are two types of traffic that I listen to on my scanners more than anything else and they are:

Railroad

AND

Marine…

I get it, the majority of scanner listeners use their equipment to listen in on law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical traffic.

That’s also what the general public associates with scanners and those who use them.

Of the two, I listen to marine traffic much more often due to my geographic location.

Usually, I can only hear the dispatch towers of railroads on most days and nights unless the other associated signals are being propagated further.

However, I am only a few miles from several navigable waterways and can hear a good bit of marine traffic occurring on there.

Listening to marine traffic helps me know what passes through my area on boats and barges, and also gives me a heads up of when such watercraft are approaching in the case of me wanting to photograph or record their passage. When I am alone in my residence, these voices on my scanner keep me company. So listening to marine traffic is good clean fun for me and keeps me out of trouble. To a degree, it even helps me maintain my sanity.

I do have only one complaint about listening to marine traffic and it is:

I wish the personnel of these boat and barge crews would be mindful of the language they use over the radio.

Many times, it confirms the very intensity of the phrase “cuss like a sailor.”

Technically, it is illegal to use such vulgarity over the radio, but seldom enforced and actually, I’ve never seen this law enforced first hand.

I don’t see such filthy language used in railroad communications, or at least not first hand. That’s likely because the majority of railroad traffic is recorded.

The only other times I heard vulgar language used over the radio was in my teen years when a Houma City Policeman who was in a foot pursuit of a suspect and of course I’ve heard it all the time on CB and FRS.

The current racial tension going on in America right now is what prompted me to write this piece, though it has been on my mind for nearly four years.

And I will explain why too:

One day, in the Summer of 2016, my then-wife, now ex-wife, was working on an arts and crafts project at the Bayou Blue, Louisiana Library. I would usually sit on the computers there and either write or do my research. On that day, I had completed whatever writing or research projects I had wanted to accomplish, so I went for a walk at the track which is situated behind the library. I walked beyond the track and onto the levee of The Hollywood Canal. That location is in proximity to The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, so I had my portable scanner, a Uniden BC72XLT, and was scanning several VHF Marine channels with it. Standing on the levee about one hundred feet from me was a black lady, who was fishing in The Hollywood Canal. She was focused on catching fish, maybe for her Sunday dinner, and didn’t even notice me. About that time either a captain or a deckhand came over the radio and was repeatedly saying the n-word. My scanner picked it up loud and clear and I had it at full volume. Hurriedly, though, I shut it off. I don’t know whether or not that black lady heard my scanner or not. If she did, she didn’t make any trouble with me about it. My biggest fear was that she would see that the radio I was carrying was indeed a scanner and then assume that I was listening to law enforcement. I was ready to explain to her that this particular scanner I am using is not capable of picking up any law enforcement traffic in this area, save a few private security firms. Afterward, I went walk on the levee of The Hollywood Canal in the opposite direction of that lady. I don’t remember if I turned my scanner back on or not. In the following days, I remember telling everyone I know who works in marine logistics to watch their language that they use over the radio because they never know who is listening or in earshot. Imagine if that black lady would have raised ten kinds of hell and said how she had heard what she assumed was the cops using the n-word over their radios. Thank God, she likely didn’t even hear my scanner, but if I was any nearer she would have indeed heard it. God only knows what would have happened then because racial tension was pretty high in 2016. Of course, racial tension is once again at its boiling point here in 2020.

I can think of numerous other occasions where maritime workers use other filthy or offensive words over the radio.

One of my hobbies, as I’ve said before is to watch marine traffic as it passes by on waterways. My scanners greatly enhance that hobby.

But when I am in a public area, such as the Houma City Docks, I have to be constantly on alert if certain people are nearby because of the language that some of these maritime workers use. I wish these workers would watch their mouths when talking over the radio for that very reason.

I strive to be a gentleman and one of the things about being a gentleman is to not use foul language in the presence of women.

I try my best not to use it at all, but I slip up either when I am by myself or around worldly men. Another time I fail to preserve my prim and proper speech is when I have work or research that needs to be done and I have to fight with a slow Internet connection.

So, technically, it is none of my business what is being said on those radios, because I do not work in the maritime transportation industry at all.

However, it is a federal crime to use vulgar language over any radio channel, and also in many jurisdictions, it is considered a crime to use vulgar language in the presence of women or children. And calling a person a slur word denoting or connoting their racial or ethnic heritage is sometimes an arrestable offense as well. There are plenty of women children and people from very diverse backgrounds that frequent the city docks either for fishing, exercise or to play on the nearby playground equipment. It SHOULD be pleasant, but if any inappropriate language is heard, it can get very unpleasant and very fast.

I get it, by this point I probably seem like a prude with too much time on his hands.

Call me that if you wish, I don’t care. I’ve been called much worse.

I just wish those in the maritime industry would keep the filth off the radio because they never know who is within listening range.

I stand by my belief that a gentleman ought not to use any crude language in the presence of a woman.

It’s also wrong to use vulgar language in the presence of a child, even though most children will likely giggle a whole lot when exposed to such language.

Before 2018, I used all sorts of bad language. But then the Good Lord got a hold of me and told me how I needed to clean up that area of my life.

I’ll probably just be told to shut my scanner off if I don’t want to expose myself or others to such filth and that is likely what I will do.

But wouldn’t it be nice if I could have the scanner radio on and not have to worry about offending or upsetting those around me?

Let me make it very clear right now that I don’t want to get anyone in trouble because I know that those people who work in marine logistics are very hard-working individuals who have to be away from their loved ones for days, sometimes weeks on end, just to pay their bills and support their families. I greatly appreciate what they do. I think what they do is also very cool. I would love to do it myself if it weren’t for several medical conditions of which I am afflicted. If my words are properly heeded, trouble will be prevented, not caused.

I am not trying to start any sort of fight, but rather just give a friendly but firm reminder that offensive language ought not to occupy the airwaves.

Picture if you will you are speaking in front of a group of school children Kindergarten through High School from every different background there is, but not only that how about some church ladies as well and not just them your mother and your grandmothers and your pastor’s wife and if that’s not enough, imagine you will be meeting the family of your spouse or significant other for the first time. Think of how you ought to speak for that very situation with all those aforementioned people and then you would realize that is how you ought to speak on the airwaves.

How you talk to your coworkers amongst yourselves is none of my business and I frankly don’t care.

But those radios you talk on have a transmission range much further than you think and what you say on them is heard by many more than just the other party, so please, be very mindful of what you say on there.

Again, my motives behind this are very clean. I don’t want anyone to get in trouble for any reason and it’s not my job to report any of you, nor do I have any desire to. However, I would like to be able to have my scanner turned on in a public place and not have to worry about what will be heard by those in earshot.

Thank you all for what you do and I hope this post will be peacefully considered.

Back to “Articles I Have Written”

Dave Matthews’ Impact on my [Young] Life

Just to set the record straight, I do not own the featured image on this page and I humbly give credit to all whom credit is rightly due.

I think just about any teenager has a singer or band that he or she idolizes.

For me, the singer I idolized when I was a teen was Dave Matthews and his band, The Dave Matthews Band.

I was fifteen going on sixteen when I discovered them.

I remember where I was the first time I knowingly heard one of his songs.

It was in August of 2002 and I was with my Dad and my Brother. We were driving to Metairie, Louisiana (a suburb directly west of New Orleans), to have our family computer serviced.

We were passing somewhere in Saint Charles Parish, Louisiana, either Boutte or Paradis, on U. S. Highway 90 when the song, “The Space Between” came on the car radio.

I listened very intently and took in every lyric.

The melody was also had my undivided attention.

It was pure genius or at least to me it was pure genius!

Prior to this, I listened to the music of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eminem, Limp Bizkit, some Rappers and a few Punk Rock artists.

This would be a life changing event as far as my taste in music and my outlook on life.

I would begin to become more tolerant of others and eventually adopted an attitude of “live and let live” or “to each his own” and the bulk of developing this train of thought was the result of listening to Dave Matthews. Not only that, listening to their music would also trigger several dreams I have had and still remember!

Within a year, I would be a completely different person.

The computer would be getting serviced for a week or two, but when we got it back, I began to listen to several of Dave Matthews Band songs.

Each song I heard had influenced me in a very positive way. The music would make me want to be my best human self, at least prior to coming to Christ.

Listening to these songs made me a more kind, tolerant and romantic person and would eventually cause me to become a writer (keep reading and you will find out more about that.)

In November of 2002, I had caught a severe respiratory infection and missed a week of school.

I did spend a good portion of that week listening to Dave Matthews Band songs on my boom box.

I also discovered the song, “Where are you Going?” This could have been the beginning of me wanting to be more romantic.

Fast forward to January 5, 2003, I first saw the video to the song, “The Space Between” and was totally mesmerized! It was everything I expected it to be and even more!

Later on in January 2003, I had to go under for a procedure and I remember listening to a Dave Matthews Band CD while in the waiting room. I remember songs like “Crush” and “Crash into Me.”

At another point in early 2003 I had heard, “When the World Ends” and was totally satisfied by the lyrics.

In the early morning hours of February 9, 2003, I had a dream that I was living in a dystopian version of New Orleans where a girl and I were in love and on the run. We are eventually detained but the jail cell collapses then I break off my handcuffs as well as hers then tell her, “Take my hand, Cause we’re walking out of here!” That line is directly from the song, “The Space Between.” We escape but she later dies from internal injuries caused by recent police brutality. I end up blowing my brains out and waking up. That dream by the way was made into two stories that I wrote and probably was one of the catalysts that would cause me to become a writer in the first place!

For the rest of February and March of 2003, if I was listening to music, it was probably The Dave Matthews Band.

I still have a copy of Dave Matthews statement about the 2003 U. S. invasion of Iraq!

On the evening of April 10, 2003, I wrote my first story, a love story, and was listening to several Dave Matthews Band songs while writing it! I was absolutely filled, flooded and overflowing with raw emotions. His lyrics always seem to have that affect on me.

Fast forward to that wonderful Summer of 2003 and I had discovered more songs such as “Grace is Gone” and “I’ll Back You Up.”

In October of 2003, I was at a party getting plastered and I remember attempting to sing, “Grace is Gone.”

My school uniform shirt had also become partially unbuttoned and one of the others at the party commented about my hairy chest, to which I replied in a totally drunken stupor, “Oh yeah, I have a hairy chest like Dave Matthews!” I’m still reminded of this well into my thirties!

Fast forward to June of 2004, I suffered a mental breakdown.

Then in July of 2004, I converted to Christianity.

When I found out that Dave Matthews was/is Agnostic, I gradually began to listen to his music less and less.

Years later I found out he did the song, “I Did It” and felt totally vindicated.

Some more years later, I heard, “Ants Marching” and looking back, I totally get the lyrics.

I’ve always been able to relate to his lyrics somehow, like more than any other secular artist.

And the solos that his band members play must take an incredibly high degree of talent to compose and perform.

Then, this year, 2020, I started listening to him again, and just for the record, my Christian faith is stronger than ever.

I recently discovered the song, “Don’t Drink the Water.” What is amazing is that I was watching barge traffic while listening and paying attention to that song for the first time. It definitely could strike some emotions in the year 2020, consider all that is going on.

I am, however, careful about what I listen to and no I don’t idolize Dave Matthews or his band anymore, because that is a violation of God’s law, but I sure do enjoy some of the lyrics and music.  Not only do I reminisce about the past but I look to the future and take in the present all at the same time, while listening. The music and lyrics are just that powerful!

Back to “Personal Reflections”

 

 

 

Early Morning Thoughts

So, I am not diabetic.

Not yet, anyway.

My blood work that was done on May 25, 2020, told me so.

The Hemoglobin A1C numbers do not lie.

That means, at least for now, I can still consume energy-dense and highly palatable food and drink.

But I am careful about it, just for the record. I don’t want to abuse this grace that has been so liberally imparted to me.

At some point before this post, I had written about An Awesome Junk Food Combination, that I used to frequently partake in.

It was a Mister Goodbar and a Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino in a glass bottle.

I would frequent a certain truck stop not too far from my residence just to buy this treat and I would make an outing out of it.

Well, I can still drink almost any sort of coffee I want.

I’m not one to drink Starbucks on the regular.

I much prefer Cafe` Du Monde Coffee and Chickory with Half ‘N’ Half and no sugar.

I’ll also settle for the Clover Valley Doughnut Shop Blend in a similar configuration.

Clover Valley is the in house food products brand for The Ruble, I mean, The Dollar General, for those of you who didn’t know.

So, while I may have had lunch at Starbucks a time or two in my early twenties when I was working, I probably wouldn’t be caught dead in a Starbucks at this point in my life.

The only time I now consume a Starbucks product is the Frappucinos sold in individual glass bottles at trucks stops.

And since I cannot pair it with a Mister Goodbar anymore, I don’t drink Starbucks at all.

I did, however, find a new candy bar, that I can enjoy.

Meet Nestle` Crunch!

It is a little similar to a Mister Goodbar except it is made with Nestle` Chocolate (and I am a huge fan of anything Swiss) as opposed to Hershey’s Chocolate and instead of having peanuts suspended in the chocolate bar, it’s puffed up rice particles suspended in chocolate.

Since I’ve been living alone, my love affair with rice has abounded.

I find myself buying and eating a lot of rice because it goes well with so many entrees.

There’s even a meal originating from East Houma where one takes fried fish, white rice and ketchup and eats them all together. Believe it or not, this seemingly odd combination is quite tasty.

I’m not from East Houma, nor have I ever established residence there, at least not as of writing this piece, but I have a definite appreciation for that side of town.

I could go on to compare Houma to New Orleans and point out the numerous striking similarities. I’ve realized this, by the way, since about April of 2018 and I know I would get a lot of laughs but I would probably also offend quite a lot of people, so I probably won’t write it publically for the foreseeable future. I have told it via text messaging or verbally to friends and neighbors and I indeed got a lot of laughs.

All right, let’s focus on the task at hand. I’m all over the place right now. I hope you, the reader, are amused!

What is the task at hand, though? There’s a lot on my mind at the moment!

So, since I am allergic to peanuts now, albeit only slightly, but enough to cause discomfort, much to my displeasure I, therefore, quit eating all peanuts. But, I can still have all the rice I want.

I guess it would then make sense that I enjoy Nestle` Crunch so much.

So my new favorite candy bar is Nestle` Crunch. I have been eating it now and then since early childhood, but as of recently, I find myself purchasing a bar or two every time I go make groceries.

By the way, making groceries is an outing for me and has been since about the age of twenty-five. Making groceries as a divorcee is more peaceful and fun than doing so as a henpecked husband

And if you, the reader, are wondering what do I mean when I use the phrase “making groceries”, it simply means grocery shopping. It’s a saying from the New Orleans English dialect known affectionately as “Y’at.” Some of my characters, especially in my Post Modern stories, frequently use this phrase as well.

And if I am going to be away from home, for any time I stock up on a few bars and store them in my EDC backpack, either as comfort food, a quick energy boost while not home or just so my evening medication can be better absorbed. I am currently looking for a sweetened milk and coffee based drink to pair with it. Might I add that I am open to suggestions!

Speaking of all this, I have yet to figure out whether or not chocolate and/or coffee enhances my writing potential as Wild Cherry Pepsi does.

Since I have absolutely no commitments other than going to church on Sunday and Wednesday and of course, my blog, I am trying to spend more time hanging out at the Houma City Docks and watching barge traffic. I feel so happy when I am at the docks. It’s peaceful. The people there are friendly. I have my scanner tuned to all the VHF Marine Channels so I can be informed as to when a vessel will come by and what direction is it coming from. And it sure is interesting to see all that travels by water and where it all comes from. It’s truly good clean fun and it is a pretty cheap hobby. And while I am engaged in it, I get all caught up in the moment and usually get some inspiration to write that is on par with a trip to New Orleans. Did I not say Houma was like New Orleans? My comparisons are both flattering and pejorative. By the way, I was hanging out at the docks several hours ago and just look at how it has caused me to write three pieces in just a short amount of time. Might I add that I hadn’t contributed to this blog for a couple of weeks? I hope all of my followers can forgive me and bear with me. My inspiration waxes and wanes, but I’m learning that during times of little or no inspiration, I must needs to make or at least find inspiration.

By the way, I was initially interested in watching trains, until I had a dream in October of 2015, that caused me to realize marine traffic. Not only that, but the days of railroad communications being in the clear are also severely numbered, whereas marine communications will be in the clear for decades to come. Watching barge traffic is almost as fun as watching trains and in some ways, it is even more rewarding and less risky, on every level.

I wish I could go on amusing you, the reader, with my thoughts, but my back is starting to hurt.

Who would have thought that a simple fall on some wet stairs six years ago would do so much damage to my back?

I thank God though, that my back injury isn’t nearly as bad as it could be.

All in all, I hope this post has been worth the read and I thank you for sticking with it until the end.

Hopefully, I can live up to my personal standard of posting new material at least a few times a week from now on.

This, therefore, concludes my piece, for now.

Have a blessed day!

Back to “Personal Reflections”

A Review of the Wenger Origins 9550-43 Backpack

By the way, I don’t own the featured image on this page and I give all credit to whomever credit is due.

I have been carrying my most frequently used possessions in a bag since about the age of five.

I’m thirty-three and almost thirty-three-and-a-half at the time of writing this piece.

So that means, I have been employing a bag in some way shape or form to carry my stuff, on the regular for about twenty-eight years.

I have been through quite a few bags over the years. Most were either backpacks or duffel bags.

Since the age of twenty-one or twenty-two, I have converted to strictly a backpack and always one made for one of the Swiss companies.

From October of 2019 until June of 2020, I had used a SwissGear City Backpack, which was wonderful don’t get me wrong.

However, I eventually wanted a backpack with more storage space, like for carrying extra clothing

Then, for most of May of 2020, I was almost sure that I had developed Type 2 Diabetes. I mean I was showing multiple symptoms. So, in my mind, I knew I would need a bigger backpack and possibly also a small cooler to carry my medical supplies associated with diabetes in addition to what I take for other conditions of which I am afflicted.

Finally, I wanted a backpack that I could deliberately show off as being Swiss. My SwissGear City Backpack has the Swiss Cross but it is transparent black on black instead of white on red. Pardon me for being so gosh durn vain, but I really do admire the Swiss people and I guess I like to show off when I have a Swiss item.

So, in late May, I began doing extensive research for the perfect backpack.

I read about hundreds of different models in my research.

Then I got on good old eBay.

It was there that I found a Wenger Origins 9550-43 Laptop Backpack and that is what this piece will be a review thereof.

I discovered it on eBay in the latter parts of May 2020.

It was selling brand new with tags but had a base price of $15.99 and $8.49 for shipping. That is a steal considering this backpack previously sold for ~$70!

I was broke in the latter parts of May 2020, but I shot a message to the seller asking if she could reserve it for me and I would gladly pay her on June 3.

She gladly did! She even unlisted it!

Usually, I complain about shipping charges, but I did not in this particular situation. This seller got the highest feedback rating possible!

So I ordered it first thing in the morning on June 3, 2020.

Despite Tropical Storm Cristobal, it arrived at my residence on June 8, 2020.

I was tremendously pleased!

Let’s rewind to May 25, 2020. I saw my doctor for my six month checkup and blood work.

My blood is monitored routinely because of the medications I take.

One of the variables that is monitored in my twice yearly blood work is my Hemoglobin A1C.

When my medical app alerted me to the results, I was shocked but relieved that my A1C was still in the normal range.

I wasn’t diabetic after all, but gosh durnit, I still show many symptoms.

I still wanted a new backpack though and I am glad I have this one!

Here are some specifications on my backpack.

The physical dimensions are 12.6 inches wide X 18.1 inches high X 9.1 inches deep (32 cm wide X 46 cm high X 23 cd deep)-Yes it is considerably more space consuming than my SwissGear City backpack but it can also carry more.

The tare weight is 1.89 pounds or 0.86 kilograms-Shouldn’t weigh a adult down too much.

The storage capacity is 1,281 cubic inches or 21 liters-Very generous.

There is a padded laptop compartment and a dedicated tablet pocket-Perfect for a traveling blogger.

There is a Pass-Thru trolley sleeve which allows this backpack to be carried on the handle of wheeled luggage-Ideal for airline or railroad travel.

Finally there is an Essentials organizer-Makes EDC more efficient.

In the front most compartment is a pocket on the outer wall which is perfect for carrying medication, then there is a deep storage space and on the back wall there is the essentials organizer with a wide pocket, three slots, a mesh pocket and a smartphone pocket with silky screen protective material. On the exterior of the front most compartment is a D-Ring for hooking keys on.

In the middle compartment is a large space which would be ideal for carrying clothing and/or personal hygiene items. This is more than just a day pack or a commuter backpack like the SwissGear City.

Finally in the main compartment there is a laptop sleeve which will accommodate up to a 15.6 inch laptop. There is also a tablet pocket which should fit most tablets. And there is even more generous storage space for books (such as my personal Bible) or anything else within reason to be carried, I also have two scanner radios in there. Also in the main compartment is a large mesh zipper compartment of which I carry my computer repair tools.

I definitely can see why this backpack would normally cost upwards of $70, but God blessed me immensely when I only had to pay a total of $24.48 for it and the seller was willing to wait for me.

This is just a tip of the iceberg on how God is constantly showering me with blessings!

By the way, I think I will still keep the SwissGear City backpack, but not as my main EDC backpack.

I hope my Wenger Origins backpack will last me for years to come.

Mine does have a very discreet MasterCard logo embroidered on the very front, but I am willing to ignore that.

Actually, I think the Wenger Origins backpack line was meant to be corporate gifts with logos on it, but I am not totally sure.

All in all this is a great backpack!

I give it a five out of five stars!

This therefore concludes my review of the Wenger Origins 9550-43 Backpack.

I hope you, the reader, have been informed, entertained and enlightened.

Thank you for reading and may God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

 

An Excerpt from “An Online Romance”

On a muggy late October night in South Louisiana, Ezra Lee Toussaint was sitting on his sofa scrolling past profiles of ladies on a dating site. He lived outside of New Orleans, Louisiana, and couldn’t seem to find any ladies that interested him nearby. So he increased the distance parameter on the app and continued searching.

Ezra was a disabled thirty-seven-year-old. He stayed in a one-bedroom apartment and of course lived off of a government pension from Social Security Disability. The reasons for his disability were that he was schizophrenic and later became diabetic, due to side effects from his medication.

Around the age of thirty-four he had lost a lot of weight, but still needed to take his schizophrenic medication as well as monitor his blood sugar and take insulin shots for the rest of his life.

Because of the cost of his medications and supplies as well as their side effects in addition to the debilitating mental effects of Schizophrenia, he decided it would be much more practical to draw disability and keep his medical benefits instead of being at the mercy of employer-sponsored health insurance.

He spent his waking hours working on his 1985 Jeep Comanche pickup truck, riding around at night, listening to his scanners, watching videos, or reading online.

He had all the time to do whatever he chose, whenever he chose, but his life was incomplete. He was missing the love of a good woman.

There was a good woman in his life about five years prior, but she called it quits on him out of the blue.

He spent a good while getting over that relationship, but then he decided to get on several dating sites and put himself on the market.

On this night he wasn’t having much success with the app.

It seemed that the only women who wanted him were well below his standards and the ones that met his standards all eventually ghosted him.

Ezra was getting ready to give up on these apps and find an alternative way to meet women when he saw her profile.

Her name was Sadie, she was 31 years old and from rural Marshall County, Alabama.

He studied her profile extensively and realized that she fit his standards exactly.

She was an SSBBW with a very pretty face, long flowing reddish-blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes, and the most beautiful curves.

On her profile she stated how she is indeed a big lady and if any potential mate of hers cannot deal with that, then just not waste their time and don’t even contact her. She stated how she wanted a man that would treat her like a queen, hold her by her waist, kiss her just because, and love her for her. She also stated how she is an excellent cook and despite her size, she’s the one to take and meet your family. Her profile then stated how she never smokes, or uses drugs and only drinks alcohol on special occasions. As her interests, she posted that they include hanging out with her family, riding around at night, swimming, playing games on her phone or tablet, and cuddling but only with the right man. She finally said how she is on disability because of her weight, but that means she can take care of herself financially and doesn’t want any man’s money, but rather his time, loyalty, affection, and love. Her height was listed as five feet.

Even though he wasn’t actually in her presence, Ezra felt immensely giddy as his heart skipped several beats.

For a few minutes he simply stared with great admiration at her pictures.

During those minutes, Ezra was going through in his head how he would write the perfect message for her, “Hey. I don’t know how to begin this, but let me first say that I am very picky about whom I would date. However, you seem to exceed my standards by far, and not only that I think you are beautiful and sweet. I want to get to know you more and if you are the right one for me, I would indeed treat you like a queen, hold you by that sexy waist of yours, shower your beautiful face with kisses just because and yes I could love you for you and let me say that you are indeed very lovable. I’m already crazy about you and if you would only know how giddy I feel just by looking at your profile, maybe you would somehow like me too. I know I am in Louisiana and you’re in Alabama, but gosh durn it, it wouldn’t matter to me how close or far you were, for you I would find a way to make it work. There aren’t any worthwhile women where I am, but you, well…you are more than worthwhile, you seem so perfect for me! I look forward to corresponding with you, so please give me a chance!”

Ezra sighed as he tapped the send button.

He then set his phone down and walked into the kitchen and took his medication.

Afterwards, he tested his blood sugar and saw that it was low, so he drank a cold can of Wild Cherry Pepsi.

He then turned on his scanner and listened as two towboat captains were coordinating their movements on the Intracoastal Waterway. He listened intently until he heard his phone go off.

A chat head appeared with Sadie’s picture.

Ezra took a deep breath then began to read the message.

“Hey. I’m really touched by what you told me. I also read your profile and you seem like a decent guy and yes I would be open to you getting to know me. I want to get to know you as well. I also think you’re really cute! It’s quite okay that you’re all the way in Louisiana because there are no worthwhile young men around here who are willing to pay attention to me, but I’m glad you are. You made me blush a whole lot when you told me that my waist is sexy. And yes, I am really happy that you are that you’re willing to make this work. Maybe you are the young man of whom I have been praying about. I hope you are serious about loving me for me because I am bigger than I appear in my pictures. I do weigh a little over four hundred pounds. When most guys find out exactly how big I am they ghost me. You seem really sweet, so I hope you are somehow different. I hope you would still want me now that you know my true weight and I promise you that I have an even bigger heart. Please write me back and let me know how you feel.”

Ezra’s heart swelled with joy that the young lady whom he was already catching feelings for was mutually interested in him. He knew he had to make it clear to Sadie exactly how much he was attracted to her. So, carefully, he typed back, “I’m so sorry all those other guys ghosted you but it’s their loss not yours. I hope it is also my gain and I apologize if that sounded wrong. There is something I want you to know and I pray you don’t think I am a pervert, but here goes: I am exclusively attracted to bigger women. There is just something about them that drives me wild but in a very good way. And if she has a pretty face like yours, I’m even more attracted. A skinny woman doesn’t have that effect on me. And a skinny woman wouldn’t ever make me happy but someone your size would make me the happiest man there is! I meant what I said when I told you how I think you’re beautiful and sweet. I won’t ever ghost you, but I will honor you and cherish you if you indeed let me! Please don’t ever ghost me either though. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and you have such a sweet and pure heart, that I want you even more now. I just hope this continues.”

A minute passed, then Ezra’s phone alerted him to another incoming message from Sadie. It read, “Oh, I don’t think you’re a pervert because you’re attracted to bigger women. Actually, I’m glad you are because you’re really cute and sweet and if you didn’t like bigger women you probably wouldn’t be talking to me right now, so it’s quite all right. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I know you’re falling for me and I will admit that I am falling for you as well, but I have to make sure you are right for me. I am indeed attracted to you physically and I think you are really sweet as well, but I need to know most of all that you are a Christian and that you are a humble gentleman. I’m almost sure that you are are the latter, but I need to make sure that you are also the former. If you indeed are, then you will have the keys to my heart. But I must know. Let me close by saying that I hope you are because I really do like you and I could see you making me happy. Please let me know.”

“Why don’t I call you and explain it to you? It would be easier to say it verbally than to write it all down.”

“Sure. I bet you have a cute voice.”

They then exchanged phone numbers.

Ezra then called Sadie.

“Hey you!” She answered.

“Hi,” Ezra said.

“Well tell me all you need to say.”

“Okay, here goes: I am indeed a Christian and have been since my teen years. There is something else you must know about me and that is I get disability. First I got it for being schizophrenic, which I got saved while I was recovering from my first mental breakdown. A family member presented The Gospel to me and I surrendered to it. Most of my family is Catholic, except for this family member, and I always noticed how he was closer to God than the rest of them, so I hung on to his every word. It was the best choice I ever made when I got saved! The medication I take for schizophrenia caused me to eventually become diabetic. I was heavy from my twenties until my early thirties then at age thirty-four, I lost the weight, mostly from strict dieting because of my diabetes. I allow the Lord to direct my paths and I acknowledge Him every step of the way. I would also be in a lot of trouble without Him. If you ever meet me, you will see that I carry a SwissGear backpack and a small Igloo cooler everywhere I go. I carry my medication and diabetic supplies, as well as a few cool personal gadgets in my backpack, and I have a few cans of soft drink as well as my insulin in the cooler.”

“I can tell that for sure that you are a Christian and I am immensely happy about that fact! I’m so sorry about your disabilities, but maybe they make you humble, or at least I think they do. Could you tell me about the other stuff you carry in your backpack? I hope it is all legal stuff.”

Ezra replied, “Well, some of the stuff I carry may not be legal in New York or California, but it is perfectly legal in the rural South. I have my tablet with its charger, a scanner radio also with its charger, a Leatherman multi-tool, a Swiss Army Knife, three different tactical flashlights one of them has a USB-C charger the other two run on disposable batteries, my Bible, two flash drives, a power bank, and a scientific calculator.”

“That’s neat. But why do you have three flashlights?”

“Well one is for general purpose lighting. The other has a regular white light but also a red light for use at night such as fishing or looking for worms or just looking around in a car while riding and not disturb the driver. The third one is for self-defense, it is very bright and has a strobe feature that can disorient an attacker then I can hit him in the head with the flashlight while he is disoriented. There’s a lot of crime in Louisiana and my psychiatrist won’t clear me for a concealed weapon permit, so I had to improvise. As you can see I like to be prepared.”

“My Daddy carried a Leatherman on him everywhere he went, but he willed it to me when he passed away.”

“What did he die of?”

“He was big like me and couldn’t get his blood pressure under control, so four, almost five years ago, the Sunday just after Black Friday, he was out hunting with the new rifle he had just purchased and had a stroke out in the woods. We have a scanner too and heard EMT’s talking about him on it. He died hours later at the hospital.”

“I’m so sorry and he seems like he would have been a good man.”

“Oh he was. Maybe he would have liked you.”

“What was he hunting for?”

“Wild hogs. He wanted to roast one for Christmas Dinner but had to work up until Christmas, so this was his only time off, until Christmas Eve.”

“Oh, that sounds delicious. What was his job?”

“He worked at a gun store and he loved to hunt in his free time.”

“If scanners upset you, I won’t play mine in front of you. I know it must be traumatic to hear one go off.”

“Well, that’s very sweet and thoughtful of you, but it doesn’t bother me.”

“What do you listen to on yours, anyway?”

“Mostly boat traffic. If that isn’t too active, I listen to the fire departments.”

“And why do you carry that Leatherman and Swiss Army Knife?”

“Just so I can help myself or others should the need arrive. It seems I am always using them to fix something at my church. I see them more as tools than weapons, and I do enjoy helping others.”

“Now you sound like my Daddy, but I like it.”

“I know you know that I am a Christian. I hope you think I am also a humble gentleman.”

“Yes. I do, but I just had to make sure you were first.”

“Yay.”

“You seem happy.”

“Well, the young lady of my dreams thinks I am a gentleman I would say that makes me happy!”

“So, since I am the young lady of your dreams, why don’t you make me yours?”

“How do you want me to do that?”

“Ask me, silly.”

“Okay, I need to know your full name first, so I can do this right.”

“It is Sadie Claire MacBride. What’s yours?”

“Ezra Lee Toussaint.”

“That’s a neat name.”

“Thanks.”

“Okay, are you going to ask me?”

“Yes: Sadie Claire MacBride, will you be my girlfriend? I don’t have much to offer you, but I do promise to give you my time, my loyalty, and my affections!”

“Of course I will, and you’ve just made me a very happy lady, Ezra Lee Toussaint! I hope and pray that this is just the beginning!”

“It is just the beginning and I hope and pray that you are the one because I cannot picture anyone better!”

“I hope you are the one as well and I cannot wait to meet you in person!”

“How about we try to Thanksgiving week. I’ll save some money from when I paid on November 3rd.”

“Sure. But I’m too fat to drive myself so you’re going to have to come to me.”

“That’s fine. And don’t be so hard on yourself because I think you’re the most beautiful lady ever! Anyway, I have a 1985 Jeep Comanche, but it runs just as well as any truck made today. And I will gladly come to see you.”

“You’re so sweet and I think you’re the cutest man I’ve ever seen!”

“Thank you!”

“Hey, what time is it?”

Ezra looked at his G-Shock, then answered, “10:44.”

“I have a doctor’s appointment in the morning, so I need to get some sleep. I too have high blood pressure because of my weight. It’s under control, thanks to the medications, but I need routine monitoring.”

“You do get disability as well, or at least your profile says so.”

“Yes, I get my Daddy’s survivor’s benefits. I use them to pay me and my Momma’s bills and the utilities. The trailer and the land are paid for, thank God!”

“Yes. Thank God indeed.” Ezra paused then continued, “There is something I want to tell you tonight, and every night before we go to sleep.”

“What is it?”

“Good Night Tidings.”

“Okay.”

“Here goes: I wish I was in your presence to lovingly give you hugs and kisses goodnight, then gently tuck you into your bed. But I also pray that The Good Lord watches over both of us tonight and every night as we sleep. Finally I pray that we are together forever, because I only want you and no one else. Now, you get you some rest and I will take my medication.”

“That was very sweet and just know that I desire and pray for those very things as well!” Sadie paused then continued, “I will text you good morning and I will call you when I am out of my appointment. If you want we can spend some time then.”

“Okay. I will be waiting. I’ll probably be doing laundry tomorrow, but I’ll make time for you.”

“I know you will.”

“Okay, good night.”

“Good night.”

Ezra took his medicine then went to bed happier than ever.

Likewise Sadie went to bed filled with more joy than ever.

They dreamed about each other all night long…

Contact Me

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A Review of the Realistic (Radio Shack®) Pro-59 Programmable Scanner Radio

For the record, I do not own the featured image on this page.

I must give credit where credit is due and I cropped it out of the 1992 Radio Shack Catalog.

Since the age of fifteen going on sixteen (September 2002) I had been listening to scanners.

I didn’t know such a device existed until the Summer of 2001 when I first read about them on

https://howstuffworks.com

Specifically:

https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/radio-scanner.htm

I had wanted one ever since, but at the time I was a no income fourteen-year-old with fiscally conservative and technology ignorant parents.

There was no way I could own one, not even an entry-level model.

Without getting too political, I believe that the prices of firearms and scanners are deliberately jacked up in order to discourage ownership of them.

Governments likely demand this but it also represents pure profit for the manufacturers of these ever so controversial instruments.

I will stand by this belief until I am unequivocally proven otherwise.

And by the way, if I can be proven totally incorrect; I will be more than happy to recant this statement.

…Anyway, enough of that…

Scanners are expensive there is no doubt about that.

And since I am living on a disability pension, I cannot afford the latest and greatest scanner really not even an entry-level scanner.

Then why do I own so many of them?

Well, it’s simple, I either buy older models at a very significant discount or people who no longer use them due to their obsolescence or perceived obsolescence give them to me and I always find a use for them.

In the late Summer of 2019, a friend of mine, gave me a Realistic (Radio Shack®) Pro-59 and is what this piece will be a review of.

It is not the oldest scanner that I own.

However, it is indeed the oldest scanner that I use.

This particular unit came off the assembly line in July of 1991 and while it may not pick up what most scanner owners want to hear (police traffic) it still picks up almost everything I want to hear. I believe it is an aftermarket rebadged Uniden made for Radio Shack, but I’m not totally sure.

It may be totally obsolete for the overwhelming majority of scanner users.

While I don’t have a very detailed list of the technical specs, I know most of them right off the bat and will give them:

Frequency Range:
137-174 MHz FM
406-512 MHz FM

So, it does not Aircraft or 700/800/900 MHz and that’s understandable. But it doesn’t get VHF Low Band either and that seems like a mistake on the designers’ parts, especially since there were a lot more VHF Low Band users in the early 1990s then there are now. But I get it, this was a budget-friendly entry-level model that had a price tag of $99.95 in the 1992 Radio Shack Catalog. By the way that is $184.45 in 2019 Dollars! The only users on VHF Low Band in my immediate area anyway are some cheaper baby monitors and my local electric utility cooperative. I have other scanners to listen to those transmissions, anyway.

There are only eight memory channels and it does not have a full frequency display. However, it can recall the frequency assigned to any channel but will do it one digit at a time. But since there are only eight available channel memories, it shouldn’t be too hard to remember what frequency was programmed on each channel.

However, it has a dedicated Weather Band Search at the push of a button and it does indeed get all seven Weather frequencies. That is a pretty big deal since not all stand-alone weather radios made in 1991-1992 actually received all seven weather frequencies!

You, the reader, may think that this scanner is a piece of junk by today’s standards, but I am about to tell you why that is not the case.

It may indeed seem very limited both in 2020 as well as 1992 but the receiver sensitivity is where this model beats all of my other scanners. I have a ~12 Inch aftermarket telescoping antenna connected to the BNC terminal on the back, but it pulls in signals loud and clear that all of my newer scanners don’t even stop on. And some of my newer scanners have better antennas as well!

I cannot seem to get a listing of this receiver’s sensitivity as rated in microvolts, but it must be very sensitive.

And that makes this perfect for what I listen to most namely, railroad and marine traffic.

I keep this scanner on my kitchen counter and run it most of my waking hours.

It is running as I speak, but I am in my bedroom at the moment.

There are several navigable waterways within a few miles of my residence and this wonderful scanner pulls in all nearby transmissions on VHF Marine Inland Waterway Channel (156.650 MHz.) It also pulls in the Coast Guard transmissions on the International VHF Marine Distress Channel (156.800 MHz), some fifty miles away in New Orleans. There is a railroad line about ten miles away and it pulls in the dispatcher clear as day and sometimes the engineer’s side as well. I have a local amateur radio repeater that I listen to programmed in there and it works fine as usual. Finally, I have the Fire Dispatch Channel for all of Terrebonne Parish, the Fire Dispatch Channel for Lafourche Parish Fire District 1 (where a good bit of my family resides) and I have two Fire Tactical channels, one for my local fire department and the other for a neighboring fire department. Almost everything this radio picks up, comes in clear as day. And the other times, the signal is still intelligible. One advantage I have is that I live on the second floor. I specifically asked for a second-floor unit so I could get better television and scanner reception!

So, yes, to most this scanner would be a dust collector, given to a thrift store or perish the thought recycled for parts.

However, I have given it a new purpose and I use it daily.

Despite its age of almost twenty-nine years at the time of writing this, it still keeps me informed and entertained on a daily basis.

It even has helped me maintain my sanity during this quarantine!

Most people my age that have to stay home are likely watching various streaming services.

I, on the other hand, listen to scanners, which may have a considerable startup cost, but are free to use. Well aside from the electric bill and the cost of batteries.

My biggest question is:
Will any of the scanners made in 2020 still be operating without issue twenty-nine years in the future?

I guess this, therefore, concludes my review of The Realistic (Radio Shack®) Pro-59.

And yes, I give this product a rating of 5 out of 5 stars because it performs so well and does everything it is supposed to do!

Hopefully, you, the reader, have been informed and entertained.

May God richly bless you!

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