I am a [Potential] Alcoholic

I am a [potential] alcoholic.

I’ve never drunk consistently enough to where it actually caused serious problems, but the urge in me to do so is definitely there.

In this piece, I will try to explore why I am this way.

There are plenty of alcoholics in my family tree and definitely into my extended family, on both sides.

The first time I remember consuming alcohol was in 1989. I was around the age of two. An uncle by marriage was sitting at my paternal grandparents’ kitchen table and sipping on a can of Miller Lite. For whatever reason, he gave me a sip and a few minutes later I passed out. Later that day I woke up on the floor of my grandparents’ den and Richard Simmonds was on the television.

Another time in the Summer of 1990, my parents had a few cans of Budweiser in their refrigerator. I was three and a half and opened one of those cans then took a sip, but was absolutely disgusted by the taste. The ironic part is now, in my early thirties, Budweiser is my absolute favorite beer and I thoroughly enjoy the taste of it. I remember going up to my dad and saying how the “Coke”, or what I assumed to be Coke, in the refrigerator was “sour”, then pointing to the can. My dad starting freaking out with great concern and asked, “Eric did you take a big sip?” I told him that I didn’t. Had I actually taken a big sip, he would have probably called 911 out of concern for my well being.

I can remember in the Summer of 1995, at the age of eight, I had just fully learned how to read and would read everything I could. Almost every day, I was in Conoco station where my dad would purchase Gasoline and a can of Sprite for me. I saw a sign in there that read “Ice Cold Beer.” Though I hadn’t really been exposed too much to alcohol at that point, I can remember having a strong craving for that beer. I also used to love to go to gas stations because of the smell of beer.

From 1991 to 2001, I had attended an extremely strict catholic elementary school with an extremely rigorous curriculum. It got tougher as I advanced to each grade. By Seventh Grade, (2000-2001) during the little free time I had in school, I would frequently read from the catholic Bible. The book I was particularly interested in was Sirach, which isn’t in the Protestant Bible. From reading Sirach, I had learned that alcoholic beverages were intended by God to be a way of temporarily forgetting one’s trouble and having a good time at social gatherings. It made clear sense to me. That coupled with the fact that we were constantly working on school projects which added an unnecessary amount of stress to what should have been a carefree childhood. Supposedly, this was to prepare us for a four-year college. But notice something: A lot of students attending four-year colleges frequently binge drink because of the stress brought on from the God awful load of school work they are required to do. This, back in 2001, was the catalyst, in me becoming aware that I am a [potential] alcoholic. The only reason why I didn’t become a drinker at that point is that I had no access to alcoholic beverages. The reason why catholics have no issue with drinking and even drink heavily on religious holidays could possibly be from the book of Sirach. Since Sirach isn’t in the Protestant Bible, most Protestants detest drinking altogether, though some Protestants still drink behind closed doors, but feel convicted and ashamed when doing so. Well, I myself am Protestant and have been from 2004 to 2005 and since about 2008. Case in point, I do drink behind closed doors but definitely, feel convicted and ashamed when drinking. In fact, earlier tonight, I went out on a drive and stopped at a store on my way home to make a few groceries. I almost purchased a can of cold beer, but thought better of it.

On March 15, 2003, I was sixteen and had met a pretty (and plus sized) girl while doing volunteer work. We seemed to hit it off quite well but then she dumped me a day later. I remembered what I had read in Sirach, plus many of my high school friends consumed alcohol on a regular basis. I decided to drink this pain away. So, I had invaded my parents liquor cabinet and drank as much Jack Daniels as possible. This was my first time drunk, but I must say my spirits were lifted and I was in a much better mood for the rest of the day. Whiskey causes most men to become extremely belligerent, but it makes me quite jolly and much friendlier than when I am sober.

In October of 2003, I was sixteen going on seventeen, it was Friday night and I was at a party where I had consumed five beers then half a fifth of cheap Vodka. I was very loud and very jolly but couldn’t even walk straight. I was the life of the party. It is truly by the Grace of God that I didn’t get alcohol poisoning that evening and that I eventually vomited it back up. However, this experience had cemented my love for alcohol. I eschewed the laws on the books about alcohol and had already eschewed the laws on the books about guns. This made me decide to commit to the Libertarian Party, after hearing a radio broadcast about a week later. I was a registered Libertarian from ages 18 to 19, when I became what I am today-Independent. I still have quite a few Libertarian tendencies though, but I recognize the need for some government and the Libertarians no longer appeal to me completely.

In June of 2004, at the age of seventeen, I broke down mentally and was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. I had plenty of misdiagnoses and improper treatments prior to this, but in retrospect, I showed the symptoms of Schizophrenia ever since the age of six This meant taking medication for the rest of my life, which was not to be mixed with any alcohol. For the next four years, I pretty much became a teetotaler. I took Risperdal from ages fifteen to sixteen (because of a partial misdiagnosis), then seventeen to nineteen for Schizophrenia. From ages nineteen to twenty, then twenty-three to pretty much the present day, I took and still take Geodon. From age twenty to twenty-three I took Abilify.

In 2008 I became twenty-one, the drinking age. Alcohol was tolerated with this drug, so I began to drink beer every now and then. I had income with little bills and I was of age to buy my own alcohol. Also for most of the age twenty-two, I was working and would frequently have a beer after work. My then girlfriend didn’t like it, later wife, soon to be ex-wife, because of alcohol’s effects on her family members. She assumed I’d be the same way, but she was and still is dead wrong. I’ve never done anything irresponsible or violent even at my very drunkest.

In late 2011, at the age of twenty-four going on twenty-five, I would go out drinking in a bar room with a former coworker. This was my reward for me helping him with his computer. Also, around this time, I was told by a very competent physician that one beer per day wouldn’t hurt me and would actually be quite beneficial.

Towards my late twenties, I was in an unhappy marriage. I have my own faults don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t deserve to be emotionally neglected or even put on the proverbial back burner like my wife constantly did to me. I also didn’t deserve to be constantly put down, especially where my writing was concerned. I just stuck with it though, because I had felt that doing so would honor God. A family friend would frequently drink with me and supply me with beer and whiskey. My wife hated this with a hot passion, yet she was the cause of my desire to drink.

In the Summer of 2017, this family friend took his two sons, plus my wife and I on a trip to Tennesee. One night during this trip, my wife was harping on me about everything under the sun (or moon-it was nighttime.) The family friend got aggravated with her and brought me out drinking. We came back plastered. When we got back to the cabin, I was jolly as could be and the two boys were enjoying my drunk company but my wife was cursing me out. She probably would have hit me, had no one else been there as she had done several times behind closed doors over the course of our marriage.

Later that summer due to a temptation which I eventually never actually gave in to, plus years of emotional infidelity, frequent neglect and total mistreatment, from my wife, I was desiring a divorce. The temptation, though I remained faithful to my wife, taught me that there are nicer women out there. Because of this, my wife began doing things behind my back. I had drunk so much during the period of time, that my hair began to fall out. But by the Grace of God, my hair has all grown back and is thick as ever. Despite all the drinking, I never caused any injury, no not even insult. I know durn good and well not to drive or operate machinery when under the influence. I flat out refuse to, even if I had just one little beer. It’s not worth the legal implications of a drunk driving charge.

On January 17, 2018, I had just made thirty-one and was told by a secret informant what exactly my wife was doing behind my back. I bit the bullet and decided I would leave her. In preparation for this, the same family friend took me out drinking after I admitted to him what I found out. We had gotten totally plastered that night. I was in very good spirits, frequently giggling, despite knowing what lied ahead of me, though I couldn’t stand for very long without falling. We sobered up in my car, then when the alcohol was out of my system, I drove to his house and I slept for that day.

I moved in with another friend a day later, then in May of 2018, got an apartment where I am currently staying.

Since that night in January 2018, I have casually drunk a few times, but never enough to alter my judgment or consciousness.

The reason why I am not a full-blown alcoholic is that I cannot afford enough alcohol being on the fixed income I get for being schizophrenic. I do have an addiction to flashlights, but that is a totally harmless and actually beneficial addiction that only consumes what little extra spending money I have. I look at this too as the Grace of God in just a different manifestation. I pay for my rent, necessary expenses, and utilities responsibly, so if I want a flashlight here or there, to whom does it harm? No one!

To those who criticize me for liking flashlights:

Would you rather me be a full-blown alcoholic and use my spending money on alcohol?

Flashlights are not going to cause cancer or other health problems of any kind.
Flashlights are not going to impair my judgment or coordination.
Flashlights can be used as an instrument of self-defense, whereas alcohol totally hinders self-defense.
The worst thing flashlights do is sometimes freak out neighbors or people on the street.

I’m not trying to be self-righteous and I realize some may think I am.

On the contrary, I can totally relate to and very much sympathize with people who have more dangerous addictions to whatever they may be.

It is but only by the Grace of God that I am not a full blown alcoholic, just a potential alcoholic…

Back to “Personal Reflections”

ASDF Movie Questions and Speculations

Since about 2011, I have been a fan of the ASDF Movies.

I had seen some kids watching them and when I saw the “I Like Trains Kid” character, I could only think to myself and eventually be public about it, “No fair, I liked trains before it was cool to even like trains.”

I even commented that on YouTube.

Of course, then someone called me a “hipster.”

Anyway, I could still watch these ASDF Movies over and over again and laugh myself silly.

At some point in 2014, someone whom I will refer to as my “bestest buddy” and myself wrote down most of these questions and speculations we came up with about some of the characters in the said cartoon.

Here they are without further ado:

Desmond the Moon Bear:
He was sent him to the moon because he was very smart and knew how to speak English. Since he spoke English, he was launched into space by the USA and not the USSR/CCCP. His memories of being in the rockets were probably wiped out somehow.

The Girl Who Wanted to go to the Moon:
We thought she would miss the moon and/or other planets but went into the sun and burned up. She might not have made it through Earth’s atmosphere and fell back down. Then we wondered if the moon talked to her like he talked to the couple on the hill when he wanted them to kiss. This could be why she and Desmond never met. Also, when she was leaving the earth did he talk to her like he told goodbye to the guy who blew his brains out?

Stegosaurus and The Mine Turtle:
How did the stegosaurs learn how to speak English to the guy who traveled back in time? How does the stegosaurus step on the mine turtle and survive?

The I Like Trains Kid (my personal favorite):
Does the train just hurt whom the I Like Trains Kid wants to hit or does it hurt everyone nearby? Does he have some kind of power to guide the train to his target? Does he get hit? In one scene he does get it, or at least it looks like it. Maybe it is because he had no target that time. If only I myself had the power to summon a train simply by saying, “I Like Trains.” Of course, I wouldn’t use the train as a weapon, unless my life or the life of someone whom I care about was in danger.

The Die Potato: When the potato was about to be smashed but his assailant was rolled over by the train; was the potato also smashed by the train? Who taught the potato how to handle a firearm?

The Boy that Turned into a Pie:
Maybe he baked a pie and hid. Maybe he turned into the pie, by baking himself, but then the pie might taste like steak. How would he have turned into a perfectly shaped pie, like the pie flavored pie? Could the baby on fire be trying to bake into a pie by his mother, since she wanted more jewelry? Maybe she wanted to have a bake sale?

Child Arrested for Doing Homework:
Maybe this takes place in a dystopian society where any types of learning are forbidden. Maybe there was a free-thinking teacher who assigned the student to read some forbidden book and do a report on it, hence that it the homework the child was arrested for.

That’s all I have for the moment.

Hopefully, in the not to distant future, I can further elaborate on this.

Also, I am willing to accept input on your thoughts if you yourself also watch ASDF Movies…

My EDC Flashlights of 2016

I wrote this article in 2016. It is 2018 at the time I am posting this, but a good bit of the information still rings true. Apparently, it was late in the evening when I wrote this, which is usually when I am most creative. I still EDC some of two years later…

I have decided to write short review of the pocket sized flashlights I rotate with my EDC gear, as of Early 2016. Some are popular, other’s not so much. These are VERY budget friendly, as even the most costly [pocket EDC] model can be had for <$35 at the overwhelming majority of online, brick and mortar and hybrid retailers.

I realize that one should have both LED and Icandescent in his/her (or vice versa, depending on the situation that arises) EDC gear.

LED Models:
If you are a heavy flashlight user (meaning every day, several times a day), you will want a flashlight that is rugged, easy to maintain, efficient on batteries and bright enough for any given task. LED models fit these specifications perfectly. The few drawbacks of LED technologies is that they are overwhelmingly NOT user serviceable, MOST models give an untrue color rendition of any object being examined, and the scariest; they probably will NOT survive an EMP blast. In fact any electronic device that utilizes transistors and microchips as their semiconductors will fail. That’s just about everything except for a very few exceptions of devices that are probably only used in the military sector. That brings on a horrible wave of depression when I think of it and I have to ask God to comfort me.
My current EDC choices are:
UST (Ultimate Survival Technologies) Moon Force 2xAAA Glo Model. <$20.
Energizer Hard Case Professional LED Task Light 2xAA Model. ~$14-$17.
Terralux Light Star 80 2xAAA Model. <$20.
5.11 Tactical TMT PLx 2xAAA Model. <$35.

Now that all has been said about LED models; here is a list of mine:

UST (Ultimate Survival Technologies) Moon Force 2xAAA Glo Model. <$20. I mainly have it as a just in case of the worst thing besides an EMP blast. It can be located in the dark. It has a battery of 40 hours in low mode whilst still giving off a decent 10 lumens. It also has an emergency signally mode that has it preprogrammed to blink “SOS” continuously. This is a must have if traveling and one becomes stranded and or injured. The only drawback is that I find as the batteries age, one must strike it in addition to pressing the switch in order for it to turn on. I think of this in a situation where I would be in an aircraft downing in the middle of nowhere or being kidnapped and thrown into a trunk.

Energizer Hard Case Professional LED Task Light 2xAA Model. ~$14-$17. It is a cross between a consumer and a tradesperson’s flashlight and can be used for industrial use or outdoor nighttime activities. At 250 Lumens on high mode, it is the brightest flashlight in my current EDC gear. Its body is composed of a ABS plastic and steel. This allows it to be both rugged and chemical resitant and non conductive (excellent for performing maintenance and repairs on various pieces of machinery.) There is also a low setting which makes it appropriate for close up inspection of work While I wouldn’t advise for self defense from humans, it can be an excellent way of scaring away smaller animals (like a racoons, possums and even randy or dominant cats) that torment your pets and children. I mean, if the blinding brightness doesn’t deter their attitudes, a good hard whack upside the head or high velocity throw at their hind legs will surely scare them away but won’t leave any severe or crippling injuries. It will make them think twice about harming your elderly, juvenile or pregnant/nursing pets as well as undiscerning children. I claim no responsibility for any injuries you or your loved ones may sustain from the animals. For an extra measure of your safety and CYA purposes, please shout “GET” at the animal in question when engaging and only use force it it doesn’t comply with your command. For larger, stronger preadtory animals, there is a plethora of blades and firearms to choose from, but this piece is dedicated to flashlights. It will survive an impact of 7 Meters (21 Feet) on concrete and because of being built of high quality plastic, it won’t show the battle scars too much either. What if our enemies use some sort of dirty radiation to generate the EMP waves? What if all these little bastards mutate, get stronger and have all kinds of superpowers and attack you and your infirmed. When you shout “GET” they will laugh at you mockingly. What if their mutated bodies will then be able to absorb the blows from whackings and hurlings that once sent them away with their tails between their legs? Okay, I know there are plenty of possibilities but no more. This is supposed to be about science fact, not science fiction. The line between the two subjects keeps blurring though.

Terralux Light Star 80 2xAAA Model. <$20. This flashlight gives off 80 *you guessed it* Lumens, but I forget for how long on a set of batteries. Unfortunately the company’s website is not up to par at the moment. I like this one and carry it because it presents the best of both worlds, but is legally an LED. Therefore I must declare that I highly doubt it surviving an EMP blast. The reason why I say it gives the best of both worlds is because it has the brightness, durability and effeciency of an LED, but due to recent advances in LED technology, it produces light that is similar in color to an incandescent with fresh batteries. This means that in any profession where color rendition matters, this light is a winner. [Theoretically] all colors being inspected and examined will show their true appearance. This light also has a grip on it that is mean for holding it with your teeth comfortably and still having both hands free to work. Another simple but brilliant idea is that this light has the ability to place the clamp upside down and clip it to the duck bill of your cap. Please for CYA purposes make sure the light is point away from your face when you wear it on your cap. Also this light has a forward clickie switch which means you could secretly communicate morse code, or cause a seizure to someone who is trying to harm you. For the sake of CYA, let me caution that you could probably be sued or even prosecuted for causing a serious injury if your attacker hurts his/herself during the seizure, even if it was purely self defense. I shouldn’t say this because it will give some epeleptic the urge to hold someone up in the hopes that he or she will get an blast of light in the face, go into a seizure and then sue his or her victim. Welcome to modern America. Do you even wonder why enemies both foreign and domestic would love to bring us to our knees and what better way of doing it than sending all of our technology 200 years into the past?

5.11 Tactical TMT PLx 2xAAA Model. <$35. This light is 90 Lumens (10 Lumens brighter than my Terralux and nearly just as efficient if my memory serves me properly.) It seems to be made of a slightly harder grade of Aircraft Aluminum than the Terralux, which I would like to use it as my Kubotan light. It too has a forward clickie so we please refer to the previous paragraph about the advantages forward clickie switches. It is a decent all around lighting instrument, but was initially targeted to law enforcement and military customers. That means that it probably can stand up to most forms of use and abuse. I only wish it had a crenelated bezel, like my 2xAAA Bushnell flashlight. And of course a 12 Hz strobe feature would make inducing a seizure (or at least extreme disorientation) in your oponent even easier.

Incandescent Models:
If you absolutely need excellent color rendition of the equipment, (or tissue and organs for that matter) want a flashlight that is user servicable (hence an exponentially longer lifetime of service) or just plain want to be prepared should any disaster fry all modern electronics. Also their startup cost is a fraction of the startup cost of an LED model. The drawbacks to incandescents are that since a glass bulb is the only light emitter, they are horribly more fragile than their LED counterparts, they devour batteries like a starving pit bull in a butcher shop, their bulb life is also relatively short, meaning the user must have extra replacement in his/her edc bag. Then there is the facet that frightens me most: Their replacement bulbs may some day be discontinued, because of the potential selfishness and greed or poor descision making on the part of their manufacturers. Given the political instability at home and abroad, I will stress that incandescent flashlights are a MUST not only as a backup device in the event of an EMP induced LED failure, but also to have as a barter item (extra bulbs as well in this case) for food, water, medicine and weapons/ammo. Because of the relatively low price of both the flashlights and their bulbs, They will indeed be worth many times their MSRP. I am shocked to realize that I have never heard anyone from the prepper community state that flashlight bulb futures could be a publically traded commodity, seriously not even as a joke. Has anyone besides myself ever thought of this?
My current EDC choices are:
Mini Maglite 1984 Original 2xAA Model. ~$8-$20.
Mini Maglite 1987 Smaller 2xAAA Model ~$7-$16.
Pelican MityLite 1900 2xAAA Model. ~$10-~$20.

Now that I have stated the extreme pros and unfortunate cons of incandescent models, here are the ones I rotate in my EDC gear:

Mini Maglite 1984 Original 2xAA Model. ~$8-$20. This was probably the flashlight that revolutionized the industry and was a trailblazer in the subject of all things EDC. I have been using this model (not the same one, but different ones over the past 10 years. I also have given them as gifts to friends and family. While not on the bleeding edge of today’s flashlight technology; it is still a tried and true favorite around the world. This is a flashlight that can be used in both the medical and custodial arts and anything in between! It can meet the needs of a surgeon but still be affordable on a janitor’s wages. The only complaint I can say about it is that bulb and battery life are poor. A fresh set of Alkalines will emit 14 Lumens from the bulb and last between 3 to 5 hours depending on the quality of the cells (you get what you pay for definitely makes a clear statement in the world of batteries.) A new bulb will burn for maybe 8 to 10 hours before flashing out. Maglite upgraded their bulbs designed for this flashlight several time over the years. They were always bi pin bulbs, but their physical and chemical features have changed over the years; Vacuum, Krypton and Xenon respectively. What I recommend this model for is anything where light is needed in a post EMP blast world, but also has much praticality in normal everyday life. I have used it for close up inspection work when repairing/inspecting the insides a computer tower many times. I have also read and heard where it was esential in performing or assisting surgery in the mission fields where the electricity is intermittent at best, reading an instrument panel on any vehicle, craft or vessel at night when the proprietary lighting has decided to quit on you. Also, from what I gather, firefighters like this light because of its ability to project a focused beam with minimal glare in a smoke or mist filled room. There is even an implement sold by a third party that allows this flashlight to be securely mounted to their helments. What tops it all off is that it was invented and still made here in the States by a highly ethical and kind-hearted, though rightfully shrewd at times, eighty something business executive and tradesman named Tony Maglica.

Mini Maglite 1987 Smaller 2xAAA Model ~$7-$16. This is the smaller, lighter, and dimmer underage lover to the original Mini Maglite. I swear their relationship is consensual, but for CYA purposes I assure you the parents of the younger party gave their full blessing to the relationship and even paid for a lavish wedding. In fact: One year later they had a child whom they named Solitaire because of its dull light output and inability to stay in a committed relationship to its key lanyard. Wow lack of medication breeds creativity, but creativity is soon beaten and gang raped by paranoia, depression and anxiety. Okay all joking aside. This flashlight was developed for medical and industrial purposes and I would say it was mediocre in filling those roles for. However it holds a special place in my heart for the simple fact that it was brought into this *racking my brain desparately for a properly fitting adjective* world in 1987, just like me. Sometime I think in 2015 she got her act together and began using a Xenon bulb. Now she is a medical profession, specializing in eye exams because of her color correct Xenon light, and her dimness has an advantage because the pupils only contract minimally. I think she would make a great use of her candle mode in a post EMP world for seperated young lovers to write each other since there will be no phones texts or emails to communicate. I think she might also inspire a huge generation of creative writers as they create stories, plays, songs, poems, doctrines and manifestoes. Then again, will we have freedom of expression once order is restored?

Pelican MityLite 1900 2xAAA Model. ~$10-~$20. I have a love and hate relationship with this model, due to owning ones that had their bodies warp, bulb modules burnout prematurely and even one of them being stolen from me. However, the laser precision Xenon fired beam 11 Lumen, overall ruggedness and especially the strong association with the maritime industry (and my gongoozling hobby) not to mention its Class 1 Divsion 1 Group C and D approval were all deciding factors in me giving this model one more chance and even placing it in with my EDC gear. It will hardly dent your checking account (neither will it send you into massive debt.) Well, let me clarify: If you use it heavily, it will develop an addiction to batteries not unlike a chain smoker’s ongoing and scandalous love affair with Nicotene. Like any other incandescent model it will thrive in the post EMP world (especially in areas where hazardous fluids have been released because of the near universal failure electronics will sucumb to.) In the still normal pre EMP world this light will be ideal when working on live electrical or electronic circuits is an absolute must, but please remove the damn key ring first if yours has one.

Another indispensible use of small flashlights.
Someday, I would love to take up the art of the Kubotan, which is a style of martial arts that teaches the use a hard, pen-sized object to strike the pressure points of a would be attacker and disarm him/her. A metal, pocket sized flashlight is ideal for these techniques and some were even built with this in mind (I believe the Mini Maglite in 1984 was one of these.) With enough skills mastered could even halt the most heavilly armed attacker in a close quarter combat situation. This is something that should be taught to and encouraged for all patrons and staff of all schools churches and hospitals, especially with the rise of mass shootings as of lately…

2015 Middle East Persecution Dream

Some time in 2015, I had a dream that I was doing missionary work in a Middle Eastern country where Christians are a persecuted minority.

In this dream, I and other young men were working security at a compound for a Christian Church and School.

We carried guns as part of our jobs, though we apparently weren’t supposed to.

Food was scarce as we only had a few rations and lentils and rice a day.

We were quite hungry and I was craving some kind of pork product but wasn’t allowed to because this country was under Sharia Law.

On one afternoon, there were several young children at play, when a hungry lion was approaching our compound. I feared for the children’s safety but was also very hungry, so I aimed my .50 Caliber rifle at the lion. As soon as his head was in my cross-hairs, I fired, killing him instantly. Other men and myself ended up picking up the lion’s body, butchering him and eating the meat because we were so hungry.

When the government had found out that we had killed an endangered lion, we came under heavy persecution.

I tried reasoning with them that I was trying to protect the children from being killed but also that we were very hungry.

Their reaction was along the lines of how we’re Christians and our lives aren’t important anyway.

I think the whole compound was rounded up and shot, but I woke up before witnessing the event.

What inspired this dream probably was the ongoing persecution of Christians in the Middle East and the killing of Cecil the Lion.

Back to “Dreams and Visions Involving Biblical and Christian Themes”

[Believe it or not] I used to Hate Writing

I have briefly mentioned it in the past, but it may still come as a shock to you, the reader: I used to detest writing.

Yes, it’s true. I hated having to write because I mostly saw it as either punish work or busy work, the times which I was required to write anything.

I’ll admit that many times my writing requirements indeed were simply administered as either punish work or busy work that which I [unsuccessfully] avoided at all costs.

It wasn’t until I was sixteen years old on the evening of April 10, 2003, that I had attempted to write something for enjoyment.

The wonderful emotions I felt during and after writing a love story and the most positive reactions I received, especially from the girls, were the encouragement that caused me to continue.

I am now thirty going on thirty-one at the time of me writing this piece and I’ll say that I now love to write. It’s almost as if I have a brief chance to feel what it’s like to be God when I create something from nothing. Well, it’s not completely from nothing, rather it is fueled by my constant observations and imagination.

As soon as I could spell and use a pencil or pen, my parents would make me write lines every time I did something they didn’t like. Most of the time it was for minute offenses, like using foul language or jumping off the backyard swingset. One time, however, it was for simply laughing at graffiti written on playground equipment. I got whipped for the more serious stuff.

It was no different at school. I attended an extremely strict roman catholic school and we were constantly under the threat of punitive writing if we stepped even slightly out of line. When we didn’t have to do punish work, it seemed we were forever writing poems, short stories and reports. Supposedly this was to “prepare us for college” however I think it was more or less to keep us busy and out of trouble during nonschool hours for no other reason than to keep the school’s reputation clean and spotless. We were in school from nine in the morning until three something in the afternoon, with only thirty minutes total for recess and twenty minutes for lunch. Then after school, on most days, there were another five hours of homework. In the lower grades, there was no homework on the weekends, but this changed around fourth grade.

My family didn’t [permanently] have a computer until I was thirteen. That meant, up until that point any time I had to write a paper, which was quite frequent, I had to do it by hand. I did show a few signs of dysgraphia as a child, the most frequent one being the extreme pain in the hand while writing. It’s almost as if the teachers and administrators at this school knew writing [by hand] was painful for me, but they somehow derived a sick sadistic pleasure out of it. Yes, I am quite paranoid, but this school was extremely corrupt and didn’t take well to me or my kind.

By this point in my life, I had fostered an attitude of loathing and resentment towards any and all forms of writing. The fact that I get any enjoyment from writing now is a miracle in and of itself. I still suffer from dysgraphia as an adult, in fact, it hurts like hell to write anything by hand, but luckily I feel no pain when typing on a computer.

After my family purchased a computer, I did as much school work as possible on it, knowing that it wouldn’t be painful to push buttons instead of writing by hand. In the summer of 2001, at age fourteen and a half, I got into web design, albeit very basic. By age sixteen I had designed a few web pages, mostly on the Express Page server. I had my personal web page with my contact information, but later I had a page designed for scanner listeners in Louisiana.

In the early spring of 2003, things were changing. I was at a different school, a much more urbane school, though it is still roman catholic. I began to appreciate literature, after being exposed to it in a more pleasant way. Also, creativity was beginning to flourish in my mind and heart. I designed a secret webpage with very short love stories written on it. It was an immediate success, almost overnight, at least with my peers.

The girls loved it and the guys did too, at least to some degree, though they probably would not admit it.

Those types of reactions were what kept my creative fire burning, though sometimes it’s bright like the sun and other times it’s dimmer than a flashlight with exhausted batteries.

As far as I can see, I’ll keep on writing from now on unless I run out of ideas. If that day ever comes, then I’ll just broaden my horizons, I guess.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I greatly appreciate your attention!

Why I Like Trains?

My interest in trains and railroading is a long one, that goes back into the days of my infancy.

In this piece, I will try to tell you, the reader, about what caused me to become interested and maintain an interest in trains.

I have a razor-sharp memory, but I am low on sleep at the moment, so I hope I can write this and keep it interesting.

The first time I remember seeing a train was right around the time I started talking. I guess that was in 1987 or 1988, but my parents and grandparents were taking me to the doctor for a checkup and probably vaccines. I vaguely remember telling the doctor “…Not nice, not funny…” because I was such a touch-me-not child, believe it or not. On the way to the appointment, we rode under the Lafourche Crossing and I remember seeing a westbound train powered by a dark gray locomotive with a red nose. Years later I came to realize that this was a Southern Pacific locomotive and the now defunct Southern Pacific owned that railroad line at the time.

My favorite children’s book was none other than “The Huffin’ Puff Express”, written in 1974 by David L. Harrison. My mom would read it to me frequently throughout my childhood.

For Christmas of 1988, I was one going on two and received several toy trains, which further enriched my interest.

Also, around this time, every weekend my parents and I would sleep at my maternal grandmother’s house in Metairie. The house was well within the hearing range of trains traveling on the Illinois Central mainline in Harahan and Old Jefferson. I definitely enjoyed hearing them run all day and night.

In 1990, my brother and sister were born.

In the earlier parts of my brother’s childhood, he too seemed to enjoy trains as well. He enjoyed them probably as much as me if not then more than me.

In 1993 and 1994, the highlight of our trips to my grandma’s house for both of us was traveling over Destrehan Yard on the Hale Boggs Bridge.

Also, my brother’s favorite show at the time was Shining Time Station and he had most of their die-cast metal locomotives.

I couldn’t watch it because I had to go to school.

In the summer of 1994, my mom had done some Christmas shopping and hid the presents in the closet between the pantry and utility room. We were digging and found a remote controlled train set which we would secretly play with.

It was now 1996 or 1997 and I remember being in Third Grade. The weather was mild and pleasant, so the climate controls were switched off and the windows were opened. A train was going through Raceland and sounding its horn. Sadly that was the last time I thought about trains as a child.

My brother’s interest in trains seemed to disappear as well, probably never to return again. I blame video games for this more than anything else.

Then, in 2002, at age fifteen, I began to do research about scanners. I learned that one could hear railroad communications on them, but I was more interested in being a rebel and wanting to listen in on police communications. I felt so empowered knowing that I could listen in on the police and they couldn’t do me anything. Such rights and freedoms aren’t guaranteed in most of the modernized world. That Christmas I was able to get a scanner that could pick up the cops and also have a search function for finding hidden frequencies.

On January 4, 2003, my family went for a day trip to Metairie. On the way back home we were driving through Boutte, LA and I saw a westbound freight train. Hurriedly I programmed the EOT frequency in my scanner (452.9375) and listened. Within seconds I picked up the data transmissions from the train. This was the first railroad signal I picked up on a scanner.

It was one evening in February of 2003, I was searching with my scanner on the VHF High Band. My scanner locked in on 160.29. Looking in retrospect, what I heard was probably a track warrant being discussed between an engineer or conductor and the dispatcher, but I thought it was the Feds. It wasn’t until a few days later that I learned this was a railroad channel.

Later that year, my younger sister began taking gymnastics lessons in Schriever, Louisiana. That town will always have a special place in my heart and did back then too, so I would come along for the ride and wait in the parking lot inside my mom’s Ford Explorer.

Sometime in the Spring of 2004, I left the gymnastics building parking lot and went exploring on foot.

I went walking to the Schriever Overpass because that previous summer, I had written a love story about two runaway teens who boarded a freight train from underneath there. I was there because I wanted to meditate on that story. It’s one of my weird, quirky writing habits, I guess. I was walking on the tracks when I heard a loud rumbling. I wrongly assumed it was an eighteen wheeler applying the jake brake on the overpass. I kept looking to see the truck, but never saw it. Then I realized that it was a train. Hurriedly I hauled my butt off the tracks, almost getting my foot stuck between the rails and the cross ties. With seconds to spare, I made it off the tracks and saw a mighty freight train pass by me. The ground shook. Everything in my hands shook as well, especially when the horn was sounded. That was the first time I saw a train up close and I thought it was so cool. I think this was the catalyst that caused my train interest to come back. In that moment I was so impressed by the power and speed of that train that seemed to have forgotten how I nearly got myself killed a mere seconds before. I was wrong to walk on railroad tracks and I’ll admit that until the cows come home. That day, I could have easily been another statistic presented by Operation Lifesaver, but God was watching over me. Nowadays I preach to people not to pose for pictures on railroad tracks and to stay off the tracks in general. This has made me quite unpopular at times, but most of the time, I don’t care. Most recently, two young ladies blocked me on Facebook for preaching this to them. I’m hurt, I guess, for the simple fact that I only posted that warning because I cared enough about them to say that their lives are astronomically and exponentially more important than having a cool looking background for a picture.

In the months prior to the summer of 2004, I began looking online at pictures of trains that were taken in my state. I did this throughout the summer as well and kept it up continuously.

In the summer of 2006, I was now nineteen and rode on a [conventional] train for the first time, namely, the Washington DC Metro. Later on, in that summer I was hanging out with my dad in his bedroom and my scanner was picking up railroad traffic. We both listened and he said how it reminded him of what we heard while on the DC Metro and the WDW Monorail. What we heard was a “Proceed from Point A to Point B on the main track” from a track warrant.

In the fall of 2006, I began attending trade-school, so I completely forgot about trains for that period of time which would last until I finished two years later in 2008.

At some point in 2009 or 2010, I discovered people were recording videos of trains and posting them on YouTube. I would watch them sometimes for hours on end during my off hours.

In February of 2011, I attempted it but wasn’t too successful.

At some point in 2011, I decided to go on Yahoo answers and describe what I was hearing on my scanner when it picked up railroad traffic. A few people kindly explained to me about track warrants and that is what I was hearing. I was now beginning to have an understanding of what was being said on those channels.

By September of 2011, I quit my job because I wasn’t getting enough hours to make it worth the gasoline I was burning to go to work. I was fed up with that God Awful job at this point as well. I was twenty-four going on twenty-five and suddenly had a lot of free time on my hands. This is what allowed my train interest to become full blown. I decided to start meeting up with other local foamers and began to make many friends.

In December of 2011, I purchased a scanner that was dedicated specifically to listening to railroad traffic. I began to research which frequencies were used by which railroads in Louisiana. At this point, I began to find police communications boring and depressing, but railroad communications could keep me entertained for hours, sometimes days on end.

In 2012, I traveled several times to the Raceland Junction and would watch trains there. I was once accused of being a terrorist, but the track foreman soon realized I was just another foamer. Now the place is locked off to the public.

In September of 2014, I started a Facebook group formerly known as “The Railroad Scanner.” It is a group dedicated to listening to railroad communications. Three years later, in 2017, I changed the name to “Foamers With Scanners” after remembering reading that phrase used in an online conversation a few years back.

In the spring of 2017, I began working on a story series about two foamers who are in love. Unfortunately, I’ve only written two pieces.

My train interest is still growing at the time I am writing this in November of 2017. A good bit of the friends I have on Facebook around the country and world are also foamers. Most days I listen to railroad traffic on my scanner, though I can usually hear only two lines under normal conditions.

I hope my train hobby will continue for the rest of my life. It’s good clean fun and gives an appreciation for the logistics of just about every item we use in our lives.

Excerpts and Ideas from Stories that I Never Finished

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So, I had a vision when I was sixteen:

It involved two potential lovers outside in very cold, frigid weather. I tried to make sense of it and connect some of the dots by assuming that they were spies (probably from opposing governments) in Siberia who meet there by chance. I don’t know yet if they will at first try to kill each other (as they are assigned to) but instead fall in love, then defect and run away together…Another scenario could be that they are both caught by the Siberian Special Forces and are bound up then left for dead in the snow, then fall in love and die together from hypothermia…This is what was going through my mind just moments prior to me writing my first story, which was quite different yet still a little similar from this, on the evening of April 10, 2003…
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Two forbidden lovers conversing:

I initially wrote this some time in 2008…

“Watch the sun as it moves across the sky: When the rooster crows, it is dawn. When you begin to sweat, it is mid-morning. When there are no shadows, it is noon. When the crows begin to call, it is sunset. When the crickets chirp, it is dusk. When the wolves howl, moon rise is nigh. When the gates to the property close, it is nighttime. I will try my hardest to meet up with you at each of those times.”

“The way you explained all that sounded so beautiful. It makes me want you all the more! My God, how I wish we could be together without having to sneak around.”

“And how I wish I could kiss your beautiful face in front of the whole world, but I don’t want you to lose your job. But I will kiss you just as passionately in the shadows…Our next meeting will be at noon.”
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Two Students Attending a Strict High School:

This possibly takes place in a dystopian society.

I had help from some peers (though they were of the opposite sex) when I was writing this in the late Spring of 2004.

One day during lunch a kind and noble boy, about seventeen, was walking around looking for a spot to sit when he noticed a beautiful girl, about fourteen, sitting by herself and shaking.

He walks up to her table and asks, “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing dont worry about it,” She answers, but is in obvious distress.

“Is this seat taken?” He asks her.

“No, you can sit here if you want to.”

The boy sits next to her and they eat together.

Awkwardly but sweetly they stare into each others’ eyes, then begin to eat their lunches.

After they finish eating, the boy asks her, “What is bothering you? I know something is wrong and I wish I could help you.”

The girl breaks down and says, “My step dad would beat me and you if he knew we were talking.” She pauses then continues, “The school officials are keeping a close eye on me because my quietness arouses their suspicion.”

“Well you seem to be a very sweet girl and you do not deserve that kind of ill treatment. I’ll stand up for you if any school employee or anyone for that matter including your step dad if he tries to harm you.”

“Are you crazy” She asked him, “If you confront a school worker like that you will be humiliated, whipped, thrown in the dungeon and who know’s what else? If you confront my step dad, he’s likely to beat the daylights out of you then call the cops.”

The boy answered, “It would definitely be worth it for you.” Then he smiled and winked at her.

She smiled at him and blushed a little…
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Part of this came to me in a dream I had in the Autumn of 2006:

A young love stricken man named Gallen Blain was talking to his pilot Jim Donson and asked, “Have you ever shopped at the Goodness Department Store?”

Jim replied “Yeah I shop. I fly all around the country shopping for women.”

Gallen replied “Well there is a very beautiful young lady who works there, her name is Mandi Case.”

“Why limit yourself to just one?”

“Because I love her and only her! Don’t I catch enough hell about that from the other workers?”
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A conversation between a young industrial designer and his financial backer.  This was inspired by a dream I had in the Autumn of 2012  I penned about two years later:

“I know you have no formal training, but I hear you’re good. From what my grandson tells me you sure know tradesman tools.”

“Well, I certainly try my best, Mr. McCloud. I worked as a technician for 2 years, then I sold tradesman tools for another two years. I would like to think that I know what improvements need to be made.”

“That’s why I hired you.”

“And I promise to give you and your company my best designs.”

“Good. I expect nothing less.”

“Should I show you some of my ideas right now? I have been wanting them to be put into existence for years now. I just never had the manufacturing resources nor the financial backing.”

“Yes. Just give me a preview of what is to come.”

“All right. I feel, that my expertise as far as tradesman’s tools is concerned is the area of portable lighting. I have three revolutionary ideas for flashlights and I hope you will accept.”

“Go on.”

“Well, for starters, I have designed a line for electricians…”

“Good. Interesting, I have been looking to diversify my products and this may just be it.”

“There’s more.”

“Go on.”
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I penned this in 2012, but was inspired to write it from a dream I had in 2007:

Helen Williams was reprimanding Amelia Esterwood with anger, “People all over town are gossiping about how you and Cade Jennings were sitting in the diner, talking about aphrodisiacs. They are even saying that you and him mixed it in your drinks. Is this true?”

Cade Jennings stepped out from his eavesdropping and said, “What if it were true? I am so fed up with all this small town gossip. Why should she be punished because of something I convinced her to do. It was my idea to drink her potion.”

Helen adjusted her glasses and looked sternly at Cade, as she spoke, “So it’s you that did this? I would have thought much better of you, Cade. You come from a family of upright people and then you go and do this? I am very disappointed in you.” She paused and then spoke to Amelia “And you, if you want to work for me and have your affordable housing, you better stop this filthy behavior right now.” She then told Amelia, dismissively “Now get back to work. And Cade you mind your own business.”

Cade replied, “Tell all these other nosy small town people with nothing better to do, that they should do the same.”

“Why should they?” Helen asked with anger and continued, “If you are not doing anything wrong you should have nothing to hide.” Helen paused, then said “If anyone is doing something shameful, then he or she should and will be shunned. That way it will deter people from doing all things questionable.”

Cade who was now irritated once again said “Well what if everyone knew how you were illegally renting out rooms on your property? Don’t act like you’re so righteous.”

Helen grew very angry and agitated “Shut your mouth young man. Didn’t your parents teach you not to question your elders?”

Quick-witted, Cade replied “Well didn’t yours teach you that honesty is the right thing to do? The way you treat your workers is very dishonest!”

“How would you know how I treat my workers?” Ms. Helen asked with great irritation.

Cade replied, “It’s the talk of the town. Isn’t it something how you say that everyone should know if someone is doing something questionable.”
Helen was speechless.

Amelia smiled brightly at Cade.

Finally, Helen broke the silence and said “Cade, I am appalled by your disrespect, but I don’t have the time to argue with you. Your parents are going to hear about that mouth you have, rest assured.”

She looked at Amelia, then said “Come with me now, you have been standing here, not working all the time Cade and I were arguing. I am going to dock your pay.”

Amelia reluctantly followed from a slight distance, but turned around to look at Cade. She blew him a kiss and then silently said “I love you Cade.” He read her lips and then spoke silently “I love you too, Amelia.” He then blew her a kiss.
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If the [Male] Characters on Y&R Everyday Carried Swiss Army Knives

Yes, I am a guy.

Yes, I am 100% straight.

Yes, I like to watch soap operas, especially Y&R.

I am secure enough in my masculinity to admit this.

However, as a guy, I can appreciate certain things on the soap operas that the overwhelming majority of female viewers tend to overlook.

I tend to notice all of the props used by the characters such as cellular/landline phones, guns/knives, laptops/tablets, and especially flashlights.

By the way, I don’t just notice these in the soap operas but, other shows I watch, like MacGyver.

This piece is me trying to decide which Swiss Army Knife should be edced by certain male [adult] characters on Y&R.

It is written to be a little humorous, as don’t think I have ever seen a Swiss Army Knife ever used by anyone on a soap opera.

I apologize if I am missing a character or two, but I am only going off of those that are currently on the show as of Autumn 2017.

All of these knives and tools should be available for purchase at Fenmore’s Department Store!

I would like to thank Victorinox and Wikipedia for assisting me in the research needed to write this.

Okay, here goes:

Noah Newman should definitely have the Victorinox Wine Master, for the simple fact that he owns bars and nightclubs. He is very hands-on with his businesses and doesn’t mind serving customers.

Nicholas Newman should use the Victorinox Handyman. Despite being a rich, spoiled heir to the Newman fortune, he still is a hard worker and seems like a guy who will roll up his sleeves and get many things done.

Jack Abbott would probably use a Victorinox GolfTool. He seems like the type who would love to play 18 holes when not in the office at Jabot or tending to his family.

Paul Williams even though he is a police chief and not a fire chief should carry the Victorinox Rescue Tool. This is because I have seen and heard of cops performing vehicle rescues when the fire department can’t get there quick enough. Paul is a hands-on leader and many times does the work of his deputies himself.

Cane Ashby should use a Victorinox Work Champ XL because he is now the acting CEO of Chancellor Industries and Lord Knows he can afford one. Not to mention he could impress his board members by getting a plethora of tasks done should any given situation arise.

Colin Atkinson should use a Victorinox Explorer, especially when he travels to his native Australia.

Scott Grainger should use a Victorinox SwissTool Spirit XBS in case he ever needs to assist the good guys with any task in their efforts to expose the bad guys, whether it’s covering newsworthy events in a war zone or busting up a sex trafficking ring.

Michael Baldwin should use a Victorinox Classic with Gold Ingot because he is a wealthy attorney who appreciates fine things. It could be a gift from his wife Lauren. Graham Bloodworth and Neil Winters should also probably carry one of these.

Devon Hamilton should have the Victorinox Traveller, it would definitely come in handy for him, especially when touring the world on his private jet.

Kevin Fisher and Billy Abbott should each carry a Victorinox Midnite Manager@Work. Kevin should because simply because he is a computer whiz and Billy should for storing all of the confidential files he illegally downloaded from Jabot’s servers.

Victor Newman, while he could probably buy all of the Swiss Army Knife models ever made several times over should probably edc the Victorinox Swiss Soldier’s Knife 08, since it is a standard issue item for the German Army (the country from which the actor that portrays him was born and raised.) I believe he does indeed wear a Victorinox wristwatch.

What do you think?

Please let me know…

Do Vintage Flashlights Seem Dimmer (Or Has Human Eyesight Become Weaker)?

I posted this some time in 2012 on Candle Power Forums, a website for flashlight enthusiasts. This is why it may seem a bit dated to some.  Note: Anything placed in brackets or braces is not in the original, but either added for clarity or commentary.

Enjoy the article:

“…I think people in general are used to much brighter lights. Our eyes have become more lazy and less keen. This is especially true in the are of portable lighting. Think about it: in the 19th century people had Kerosene lamps and they managed to get by. Then in 1898 the flashlight is invented with very primitive Carbon Zinc cells and a Carbon rod filament. Some time after Tungsten filaments are invented advancing in [the] brightness [of flashlights]. I remember my paw paw telling me that in the 1930’s when he was a farmer that he had NO flashlight or lantern. [Somehow he didn’t know what a flashlight was until 1946 or so, even though he served World War 2. {I smell horse feathers!}] His work began at 4 o’clock in the morning and [he told me] he could hook up the mules in pitch darkness. That further supports my theory that the human eye was stronger back then. Correct me if I am wrong, but PR bulbs were invented in the 1930s, but were under a vacuum. Because of this flashlights became more practical. They were advancing. For the next few decades people used mostly PR vacuum bulbs with Carbon Zinc cells. In order to achieve more lumens people made flashlights with more batteries and more powerful bulbs. They took them hunting, camping, working night shifts, farming, police/fire/sar/ems, etc. People managed. Again I ask, were their eyes stronger? Again, correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Alkaline batteries, Krypton and Halogen bulbs became widely available in the 1970s. They were way overpriced [however] and only police/fire departments used them. Kel Lite, then Maglite continued the process of multiple cells. Sure Fire came out in the mid 1980s and implemented the use of smaller, higher capacity batteries and powerful bulbs like never seen before. Krypton became standard on most [consumer] flashlights in the 1990s. I was growing up in this time [1998] and the brightest lights I knew of were the Maglites. This was one year before Lumileds came out. I first read about LED lights in 2002 in a C. Crane catalog. In 2003 my parents began subscribing to Charter Pipeline, connecting at a whole 384 Kbps (blew away our 56 Kbps AOL connection.) The cable guy had to drop a line down to the computer room and of course he was using a flashlight. I was assisting him with a 4D Maglite. I felt very jealous that his tiny [LED flash]light grossly outperformed my huge Maglite. That was my first Maglite, by the way (my brother ruined it later that year by leaving it on.) I replaced it with a cheap LED light. From then on Maglites were left in the dust (I bought a Mini Maglite in 2005 to support America[n manufacturing.]) Then in 2006, Maglite started to roll out [their own] LED lights and they have been fine tuning them ever since. I think the Pro and Tac series are the best lights for the money. They easily out preform many [incandescent] Sure Fires and they cost less.

The point I am trying to drive home is that incandescent Maglites seem dimmer because there have been so many advances in portable lighting AND human eyesight has weakened within the past two centuries. The latter being just a theory of mine. Incandescent flashlights are easily dimmer and less efficient than modern LED lights, because they are run on a very simple circuit and have no power regulation. With advances in technology that keep occuring, will it be long before there is a 200+ lumen light that can run on one or two AAAs for several hours?”  [This technology is probably available or at least very close, five years later in 2017.]

My Interest in Swiss Army Knives

For a good bit of my life, I have had varying interests in Swiss Army Knives. This piece will tell you, the reader, of how I became interested in them and which ones I’ve owned over the years.

I had first learned of a Swiss Army Knife while watching a rerun episode of The Simpsons. I was about ten years old when I saw it. I thought it was pretty cool but had no means of purchasing one. This was 1997, and not every household had a computer much less subscribed to Internet services. The world was somewhat different 20 years prior to me writing this piece (2017.) This meant that, unless one subscribed to the Internet, shopping was mostly limited to mail-order catalogs or the old-fashioned way at brick and mortar stores. Also, in 1997, there weren’t as many brick and mortar stores to choose from in my metropolitan area as there are now. On another note, the only way to go shopping was to get a ride from a licensed driver, since no stores were in walking distance of the house I lived in. Even if they were, I wasn’t allowed to leave the property. Because of all this, I had no means of acquiring a Swiss Army Knife. For Christmas of 1997, one of the gifts I got was a Schrade lock back keychain/pocket knife. It was my first pocket knife and I really wish I knew what happened to the damn thing because it had a sentimental value. However, my interest in knives decreased. I was too focused on buying video games, flashlights and later, radio equipment.

At the age of fourteen going on fifteen, (Fall 2001), I saw what appeared to be something like a Swiss Army Knife, probably at Wal Mart. It had a red handle and multiple implements, like a Swiss Army Knife but was only a dollar and some cents. I had a little money on me, so I purchased it. What strikes me as odd is that I didn’t get carded. Currently, Wal Mart has a policy of not selling knives to anyone under sixteen. In fact, the cash register forces them to check ID before a payment can be made. In later years, I realized that this was a knock-off of a real Swiss Army Knife. Actually, I still have it. It is sitting on my desk as I am typing this piece. I guess it too has sentimental value.

At the time, I was also being severely harassed in school and was just about to start carrying a weapon (thank God I didn’t.) What made me reconsider was when a fellow student got busted for narcotics in his vehicle on school property and was going away for a long time. The principal delivered an address over the closed circuit television system about the severe criminal punishments for students bringing drugs or weapons on campus. Looking in retrospect, this knife I was going to carry was extremely dull anyway. I carried it a few places while off campus from ages 14-16. Then, sometime in 2003, I stopped carrying knives for altogether. I was more into radio communications and other technological hobbies. Also, I had discovered writing love stories in April of 2003 and realized I was more of a lover than a fighter.

In the early 2000s and throughout the rest of that decade (and even into this present decade), my local shopping area began to be built up and developed quite rapidly. In August of 2002, a Target was built among other stores. I was and actually still am a frequent customer at that store. Usually, I was there to buy electronics, but for whatever reason on November 29, 2002, (Black Friday) I was shopping there. I had gone into the sporting goods section and saw a plethora of Swiss Army Knives. In those days, Target had a wider selection of Swiss Army Knives (flashlights too) than presently. This was the first time I saw a true Swiss Army Knife in real life. However, the cheapest model (Victorinox Classic SD) which only had a pen blade, nail file/flat head screwdriver, scissors, toothpick, and tweezer was a whopping ten dollars. There were more expensive models that cost probably from twenty up to fifty dollars. This wasn’t exactly the ideal price range of an unemployed fifteen-year-old born to working class, fiscally conservative parents. I didn’t know of nor could fully appreciate the high quality and fine craftsmanship of Swiss-made goods at the time anyway. So I forgot about Swiss Army Knives for the next almost three years. I had other interests and financial priorities anyway.

I was now eighteen and my interest in knives had suddenly reignited sometime in late January of 2005. It started from using a friends knife to open a bag of frozen potatoes and accidentally cutting myself. I re-realized the defensive stopping power of knives and soon purchased a Winchester liner lock pocket knife with rubber handle. This thing was very sharp, despite being so cheap (<$10.) I would do odd jobs for family and usually buy cheap knives with the money I earned. It was now the summer of 2005 and I had acquired a job of 35 hours a week at minimum wage ($5.15/hour.) I also had no bills whatsoever, so I kept all the money I made. Needless to say, I had a good bit of disposable income. Many days after work, I would go shopping. I went to the Target and looked at the Swiss Army Knives. I saw a Victorinox Sportsman for $16.99+tax. It was the second cheapest model on display, so I bought it. This was my first true Swiss Army Knife. I followed it with two Wenger models in August of 2005 (just weeks prior to Hurricane Katrina.) Then in September 2005, I purchased a Victorinox Recruit. There was also my interest in flashlights coming back since I started carrying a flashlight in May of 2005. I had suppressed that interest throughout most of my teen years for fear of harassment, but by the age of 18, I simply didn’t give a damn if someone would harass me for liking flashlights. Actually, most people thought it was cool that I liked flashlights. Of course, Operation Iraqi Freedom was in full swing and tactical gear was marketed to the public like never before so maybe people’s attitudes had changed, but that’s another story. In December of 2005, I had purchased my first Mini Maglite. At some point, in early 2006, I was in Target and saw an AAA Mini Maglite bundled with a Victorinox Recruit 2. This made me think that Swiss Army Knives go naturally well with Mini Maglites. So in February of 2006, I purchased a Victorinox Climber to go with my Mini Maglite. Unfortunately a few weeks later I misplaced it, not to find it until December of 2010. Though currently unemployed and studying, I had money left over from my summer job and went to my local Academy Sports and Outdoors and purchased a Victorinox Fieldmaster. Until 2008, this would accompany my Mini Maglite everywhere I went. I even tried to get other guys to carry similar combinations, with varying degrees of success. In May of 2006, at the age of nineteen, I graduated high school. In December of 2006, I purchased a Victorinox Super Tinker at Target. A few weeks later, in January of 2007, I met the girl I would marry and suddenly didn’t have as much money available for purchasing Swiss Army Knives. For Christmas of 2008, with gift money, I purchased a Victorinox Cadet with an Aluminum handle for myself and actually used it on my jobs a few times. In the summer of 2009, I purchased my first Swiss (Wenger) backpack. It wouldn’t be until April of 2016 that I would purchase another Swiss Army Knife. My interests had shifted from knives almost completely to flashlights sometime in 2010. Around my twenty-third birthday (January 2010) I purchased a Leatherman Kick and began to forget about Swiss Army Knives. In March of 2010, I got another Wenger backpack with income tax refund money. And in September of 2011, I purchased my final Wenger backpack, which I had until 2015. From 2012 to 2016 I carried a Blue Xenon Mini Maglite with a Klein Electrician’s knife. In December of 2015, I purchased a Victorinox Trooper Backpack which I considered an upgrade from the Wenger backpacks I had previously used. In April of 2016, I was feeling reminiscent of my high school days and began to search online for The Victorinox Recruit 2 bundled with the Mini Maglite (a popular combination during those days.) I found a set on eBay as new old stock, secured the money and purchased it. The ironic part is that it came in the mail on the twenty-sixth birthday of a girl whom I had a crush on in high school but remain good friends with now.

In the Fall of 2016, CBS had begun a modern version of the classic show “MacGyver.” Just like in the classic, the current MacGyver used a Swiss Army Knife of some sort to help carry out his missions. This renewed my interest in Swiss Army Knives. So, I planned financially and researched meticulously which model to buy, finally settling on a Victorinox Explorer in December of 2016 at my local Academy Sports and Outdoors. Prior to that, I had purchased a Black Xenon Mini Maglite to go with it in October of 2016. Also in November of 2016, I purchased my current Victorinox backpack on eBay, but I am unsure of the model. I carry these two items in the said backpack currently.

UPDATE:

In September of 2017, I was doing research again about Swiss Army Knife and Mini Maglite combinations.  I saw on eBay a gently used Victorinox Cyber Tool M in Sapphire Blue for under $40.  It was up for bid and only had a few minutes lasting in the auction.  This was a helluva deal, even though it was used because it was selling for about a quarter to a third of the MSRP.  Thank God, I won the bid and now it is coming to me in the mail.  There is a Black Xenon Mini Maglite that I’ve had since June of 2014 and I plan to pair my latest Swiss Army Knife with it.  I’ll also keep them with my Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro calculator, Energizer Hard Case Penlight and Midland HH50B pocket-sized weather radio.  I use these items for EDC whenever traveling or working on computers.

Update:
In November of 2017, I saw a cool looking Wenger SwissGear backpack at my local Target and realized that the Wenger bags were built better than the Victorinox bags. It was selling for $59.99+tax and all my other bills were paid, so I bought it. It has a coloring of what seems to be a combination of gray and olive drab. This is now my current edc backpack.

As far as I can see I will continue to have an interest in Swiss Army Knives. Being Swiss-made, they are engineered and built very well. They also can get a whole bunch of jobs done in any given situation. They are carried by elite military groups around the world and even used on space missions. Try one out for yourself. You, the reader, will be pleasantly surprised. The local retailers that currently have the widest selection are Target and Academy (but nowhere near what they used to be.) K-Mart and Sears (the few that are left) seem to have a decent selection. Most Wal Marts only sell one model in-store, the Classic SD, but have many others available online. eBay is an excellent choice and probably has the widest selection of both new and used Swiss Army Knives, but be extremely wary of knock-offs.

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