Shopping at Target for Gentleman’s EDC Gear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those are my thoughts and experiences.

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

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A Review of the [Incandescent] Mini Maglite

I have been a Mini Maglite owner since the evening of December 19, 2005. I was almost halfway through my senior year of high school when I purchased it.

I don’t think there is any other flashlight that I like more nor do I find more versatile.

Prior to that evening, I had been carrying small tactical flashlights on my person for the past seven months.

The school was about to let out for Christmas break so a friend and I were planning on a boating trip on Bayou Terrebonne the next day.

I was at the Wal Mart in Thibodaux, Louisiana, buying some supplies for that trip.

Hurricane Katrina was fresh in everyone’s mind and Maglite had partnered with the Red Cross to raise awareness for disaster preparedness.

Mini Maglites were on sale for less than $8. They came with batteries, extra bulbs, and a free Nylon holster.

I had assumed prior to this that Maglites were made in China, which was a very wrong assumption.

Still, something had caused me to take a closer look at the packaging and I had found out that it was American Made.

Right then and there, I decided to purchase it.

It would be my first of plenty of Mini Maglites.

After paying for the item, I drove home to Raceland, Louisiana and then set up my new flashlight.

Immediately, I was thoroughly impressed.

It was brighter than most LED flashlights of the time (remember this was 2005.) Not only was it brighter in terms of Lumens but also in Candlepower. Boy, could it throw a beam out! The beam travels very far at night in the marshlands of South Louisiana.

It was rugged, in fact, rugged enough to be considered tactical.

Truly this flashlight was and still is a pure genius design.

I had EDCed this flashlight for the rest of my senior year of high school and much into trade school.

I used to walk the halls during my off period, shining it in classrooms. Yes, I got written up for that and similar pranks during high school.

Since then I have purchased other Mini Maglites and the one I have had the longest was from August of 2006, it is in my Craftsman tool satchel.

I’ve had the Mini Maglite that I currently EDC with all of my computer tools since June of 2014.

The others that I have purchased are stored away in various locations, in case of an EMP attack on American soil. Simple incandescent flashlights will survive an EMP blast but I seriously think LED flashlights will perish.

Prior to me owning a Mini Maglite, my favorite flashlights from my childhood were the Garrity Mini Rugged Lite (R300G) and the Eveready Industrial 2AA model (IN-215.) Pocket-sized flashlights will always have a special place in my heart and have since I was seven years old.

What I like about the Mini Maglite:
It is definitely bright enough and its light beam gives excellent color rendition (great for medical professionals and tradespeople.)
It is delightfully rugged and durable-I’ve read stories of a Mini Maglite falling one hundred feet onto hard steel and still surviving.
It is remarkably simple to use, just a slight twist will turn it on or off.
It is surprisingly user serviceable-I’ve repaired mine several times but it is also covered by an extensive warranty.
It is totally waterproof to amazing depths->800 Feet-or so I’ve read.
It is refreshingly compact and could easily fit in a pants pocket and be forgotten about until needed.
It is highly collectible and truly an icon of American ingenuity.
It is completely affordable on almost any level of income (assuming one is buying the incandescent model.)

What I don’t like about the Mini Maglite:
The fact that the incandescent model is no longer widely available at many brick and mortar retailers as of 2018.

However, this is being done across the board with all incandescent flashlight and I am going to sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist if I say it is being done on purpose.

A Mini Maglite is still widely available at smaller hardware stores and on sites like eBay.

It is one of the most popular flashlights in the world and I hope and pray that it never gets discontinued.

As I have stated before:
“This (the Mini Maglite) was probably the flashlight that revolutionized the industry and was a trailblazer in the subject of all things EDC.”

As I’ve also previously stated:
“While (the Mini Maglite is) 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.”

I would guess many special forces operators carried one, at least for backup.

Go out or online and buy one for yourself while you still can.

You will not be disappointed at all and it will at least make a wonderful addition to your EDC items!

By the way, I give this product a 5 out of 5 Stars!

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The Radio Shack Weather Cube

As I recently stated on Facebook, “The Weather Cube was an entry level Weather Radio made for and sold by Radio Shack from about 1969 to 2012…It had undergone design changes quite a few times, but is still a classic. I keep one in my living room and was just listening to updates on Tropical Storm Chris on it. I always pictured it being furnished in an off grid cabin in Yellowstone National Park. I also plan to write a blog post about this cool Weather Radio in the upcoming days…”

Well, here it is:

This piece will be dedicated to the history and features of this classic Radio Shack product.

The Weather Cube does only one thing-receives the U. S. Government’s and possibly a few other countries’ Government’s Weather Broadcasts.

It does not have an alert siren, S.A.M.E. feature or standby mode, just on demand weather information from the nearest weather broadcast station at the push of a button.

Still, this item sold very well and was built very well.

It has almost a cult following by YouTubers and other electronics collectors.

I would guess production began on the Weather Cube back in 1969. The reason why I would guess this is because it was first featured in the 1970 Radio Shack Catalog and known as, “The Barometer that talks.” This neat little device was cleverly marketed to “Anyone who flies a plane, farms, goes camping, owns a boat or spends time outdoors…” The price was $14.95 that year ($97.09 in 2018 Dollars.)

I don’t know how long it was in the research and development phase prior to that, but this truly was a genius product as millions were sold and a good bit of them are still in use, mostly by collectors.

The 1969-1970 version featured one frequency, 162.550 MHz. I believe it was crystal controlled but with fine tuning. The catalog number was 12-164.

In 1971, the catalog number changed to 12-165. The price was still $14.95 ($90.92 in 2018 Dollars.)

Then in 1973 or so, the Weather Cube also began receiving 162.400 MHz in addition to 162.550 MHz. This is because 162.550 MHz had become extremely congested and skip would occur in the spring and summer (also times when severe weather was most common.) The 1973 version was capable of tuning between frequencies 161.400 MHz and 163.500 MHz, which means it could have potentially tuned in some railroad, marine and federal government frequencies in addition to weather. It could have heard the Southern Pacific Railroad, which commonly used 161.55 MHz and was still in existence until September 11, 1996. The price also went up by one dollar to $15.95 ($90.52 in 2018 Dollars.).

In 1974, the Weather Cube for that year tuned between 162.400 MHz and 162.550 MHz. I believe it was done with a switching between permanently installed crystals, but could be wrong. The price jumped up yet another dollar to $16.95 ($86.64 in 2018 Dollars.) Of course, there had been some improvement in the radio.

In 1975 162.475 MHz was added as an additional frequency, but it wasn’t mentioned until the 1977 Radio Shack Catalog.

Between 1975 and 1976, the catalog number for the Weather Cube changed from 12-165 to 12-181.

I would imagine some time in the late 1970s or early 1980s, that the Weather Cube supported reception on 162.475 MHz in addition to the other previous weather channels.

Also in 1980, the price went up by another dollar to $17.95 (54.89 in 2018 Dollars.) It would remain that price for the rest of its design run, ending in 1992 (where it would have been $32.24 in 2018 Dollars.)

In 1989 or so, four additional Weather Broadcast Channels were assigned, though few Weather Radios would come to support all seven right away. These new frequencies are 162.425 MHz, 162.450 Mhz, 162.500 MHz, and 162.525 MHz

From 1969 to about 1992, the Weather Cube had the same outward appearance, though the frequency controls and frequencies available varied over those years. The appearance was made of simulated Rosewood, had a silver play button on the top front and a speaker that fired from the top. The antenna was telescoping and in the back right corner. They were powered by a standard Nine Volt Battery.

There was no Weather Cube to my knowledge in the 1993 Radio Shack Catalog.

Then in 1994, a new Weather Cube design came about with a catalog number of 12-239. It was made of a no-nonsense black plastic with a top firing speaker shaped in three-quarters of a circle. The fourth quarter in the front was the play button to turn the radio on. The telescoping antenna was located still in the back right corner. The volume and frequency controls were at the bottom and I believe the tuner was rotary not crystal controlled. This probably caught all seven Weather Channels but I’m not 100% sure. The price went up another two dollars and four cents to $19.99 ($33.99 in 2018 Dollars.)

In 1995, this new Weather Cube was advertised to receive all seven channels.

This Weather Cube would be featured until the year 2000 (where it would have cost $29.25 in 2018 Dollars.)

In the year 2001, there was no Weather Cube featured in the Radio Shack Catalog.

There was a different entry-level desktop weather radio featured in the 2002 Radio Shack Catalog, but it wasn’t cube-shaped and it also had a talking clock. The catalog number was 12-256. The price went up by a whole ten dollars to $29.99 ($42.01 in 2018 Dollars), but in all fairness, it featured a talking clock. It also ran on three AA batteries.

Around 2009 or so, the Weather Cube made a comeback with an all-new design. The new catalog number was 120-500. There were some significant design changes such as the main part of the cabinet was made of a red plastic. It also had a front instead of a top firing speaker, which was black. The play button was grey and had a blue LED light to indicate that the radio was turned on. The telescoping antenna is still in the back right side of the radio and the frequency controls are rotary. It is designed to receive all seven Weather Channels. This latest and so far final incarnation of the Weather Cube ran on 4 AA batteries. It was sold until 2012 and had an MSRP of $24.99 ($29.35 in 2018 Dollars.) It was discontinued in the Summer of 2012 and actually, I purchased mine on clearance in early July of 2012 at the Radio Shack in Southland Mall. My hat still goes off to the girl (now a wonderful woman) in Radio Shack who reserved it for me, some six years later.

Since Radio Shack isn’t exactly in business anymore, I don’t think a new Weather Cube will be made for a long time, if ever again. If I ever came into serious money, I would start a company that could make replicas of all the cool vintage flashlights and electronics that are no longer on the market. There would definitely be some incarnation of the Weather Cube.

When the weather cube initially hit the market, weather broadcasts were done by a recorded human voice. Nowadays it is mostly computerized and that takes away most of the personalization in Weather Radio, at least in my opinion. I do keep one in my living room, loaded with Alkaline batteries from the Ruble, I mean the Dollar General.

While the Weather Cube has plenty of aesthetic appeals and makes an excellent conversation piece, people probably aren’t really willing to spend over $20 for a weather radio that won’t automatically activate. Also, very few people aside from hobbyists and collectors such as myself and those on YouTube will sit and listen to a Weather Radio broadcast on a regular basis.

I still say it would be the perfect coffee table or nightstand item to be furnished in an off-grid cabin either in the Smoky Mountains or Yellowstone National Park, but not many people actually listen to my ideas.

It was always advertised to receive Weather Radio broadcasts from transmitters up to 25 miles away. I have received them successfully (and mostly crystal clear too) on my Weather Cube from about thirty plus miles away, or so.

They do make excellent weather radios for power failures or getting vital weather information during an actual tornado but pocket-sized entry level battery-powered weather radios have since entered the market which is more convenient to carry to a safe room. Some of these were Radio Shack models others are made by companies such as Midland. The model that comes to my mind first is the Midland HH50B, which I hope to write an article about in the near future.

I guess this concludes my piece on the Radio Shack Weather Cube and I hope it has been a wonderful trip down memory lane for all you weather and electronics buffs out there!

I am an Avid Radio Listener

Though not as much as flashlights or calculators, I am also fascinated by any and all types of radio devices.

This piece will explain my history of being a radio listener.

I am on the older end of the Millenial Generation and can say that we are probably the last generation to appreciate terrestrial radio.

Ever since the age of two until the age of four, when I misplaced it, I had a hand me down Sears transistor radio.

I wish I knew the exact model number, but it had a blue and black cabinet, slide rule tuner with a log scale, ran on a 9 Volt battery and was on the market either in the 1970s or 1980s.

It’s pretty rare nowadays, though. In fact, I’ve only seen another one on eBay back in 2005. I would have purchased it back then but didn’t know I could use a debit card on the said website. I had no credit cards at the time either.

From ages four to seven, my interest in radio devices somewhat faded.

Then at age seven, I was in school learning about the letter “R” and one of our words was “Radio.” The flash card had a picture of a transistor radio and that reignited my interest.

I wanted one really badly, but couldn’t get a ride to Radio Shack or Sears like I wanted to.

I remember back in the Summer of 1994, at the age of seven and a half, fantasizing about how I could be in my parents’ kitchen late at night, listening to Bob Seger’s songs on my very own transistor radio.

By the way, it was a MEME about Bob Seger’s songs that prompted me to write this piece so kudos to the poster!

That fantasy never came true.

However, at the age of fifteen, I began to fantasize about having my own place and listening to a scanner in my kitchen with my future son Eric Jude “Little Eric” Monier. That fantasy has come true, at least partially. I mean I don’t have any children yet, but I do frequently listen to a scanner in my kitchen and I listen to it at night.

For Christmas of 1995, at the age of eight going on nine, one of the gifts I got was an AM/FM radio and cassette player, made by Lennox Sound. It could be run on four D Cells or grid current. I listened to it almost every night while sleeping.

There was also a station I basically kept this radio locked on. The callsign was KHOM and the frequency was 104.1 on the FM dial. It played the Top 40 songs of the day and branded itself as “…The VH1 and MTV of radio…”

I had discovered that station because that was what the morning bus driver played on her radio. She also had a CB radio of some sort in her bus, but that is another story.

In 1998 or so, KHOM played the same music but switched callsigns to KUMX and I also listened to Baton Rouge station WFMF which was at 102.5 on the FM dial.

Fast forward to October of 2000. I was in Wal Mart and saw a portable, almost pocket-sized AM/FM radio also made by Lennox Sound that ran on 3 AA batteries, half the voltage of a “real” transistor radio.

It was built in the same form factor and interface as a transistor radio, but instead used an integrated circuit.

In April of 2001, I purchased a small stereo system that had a Phase Lock Loop synthesized tuner for AM and FM reception in addition to a double tape deck and CD player.

In the Summer of 2001, KUMX changed format and callsigns, which really disappointed me, so I began listening to then KBZZ which was at 96.7 on the FM dial.

I listened to this station until about 2003, when rap overtook the mainstream music.

Also in the Summer of 2003, I purchased a Radio Shack 12-756. It was a multi-band radio with a slide rule tuner, that in addition to AM and FM could also pull in VHF TV Sound, VHF High Band, and the Civilian Airband. This radio indeed kept me amused for hours on end.

I had discovered AM radio also in 2003 and had become a talk radio listener by this point. I would listen to then WTIX, which was at 690 on the AM dial.

There were lots of interesting talk shows on this station.

One Saturday Night in the Fall of 2003, I discovered the Libertarian Party while listening to Harry Browne’s show which was carried on WTIX.

Me being a potential alcoholic even back then eschewed the drinking age laws and was an immediate convert to the Libertarian Party when Harry Browne said how he would abolish the drinking age.

Also, the Libertarian desire for getting rid of Gun Control was another factor in making me an immediate convert to the said party.

I also frequently used this Radio Shack Multiband model for AM DXing, which the furthest station I ever received was KFGO out of Fargo, North Dakota and I was in Southeast Louisiana.

In the Spring of 2004, I discovered Country Music, something I wasn’t raised on because my parents mostly despised it.

In the Summer of 2004, I converted to Christianity, the best decision I would and will ever make.

In late November of 2004, I was shopping at Goodwill and saw one of those Life Long branded Baby Boom Boxes selling for only 84 Cents!

I had a $5 bill on me so I gladly purchased it.

That was probably my best deal ever I ever had at Goodwill.

This gently used radio could only pull in the stronger or closer AM and FM stations.

I spent many afternoons after school while waiting to go home listening to KCIL which at the time was at 107.5 on the FM dial. That station played “Today’s Best Country.”

I didn’t mind listening to country music, because especially during that period of time (2004-2006), the said genre was secular, no doubt, but most conformed to Christian lifestyles.

I would carry that radio in my backpack or school pants pocket.

On my Radio Shack model, I would frequently listen to the talk shows which aired on WSMB, at 1350 on the AM dial, mostly on weekends and evenings.

Unfortunately, the Baby Boom Box died on me in June of 2005 and I was sure disappointed.

Hurricane Katrina happened in August 2005 which ruined, among other things, radio broadcasting in New Orleans. It still yet to fully recover from this horrible disaster in my opinion.

To evacuate from Katrina, my family and I went up to Bossier City, Louisiana and I demonstrated how AM signals can travel further distances at night and was able to tune in WWL on 870 AM. We could hear what was going on in New Orleans from a local perspective.

Everyone was briefly impressed. The radio, by the way, was an older Hitachi model which was given to me by Mister Earl Smith, God rest his soul. It killed on me in the Summer of 2007.

In the time after Katrina, as I have previously stated, radio broadcasting in New Orleans was really messed up.

Many awesome stations with both awesome talk and music were destroyed and never came back, or at least never came back to those wonderful formats.

In March 2006, I defected from the Libertarian Party, but still retained many of their values and tendencies. In May of 2006, I became Independent, sometimes leaning to the Left and sometimes leaning to the Right. As of 2016 or so, I became my own one-man political party known as The Ethical Party.

In the Summer of 2007, I purchased a Sangean pocket-sized radio that had a built-in speaker as well as a PLL tuner. This kept me entertained for a good while both for listening to music and talk.

It could pull in distant AM stations fairly well at night and had a wire antenna for FM listening.

My soon to be ex-wife has that radio now, but she liked it more than I did eventually.

In late 2012, I purchased a vintage entry level Realistic (Radio Shack) transistor radio a 12-636 that was made in June of 1986. It arrived in early 2013 and features both AM and FM.

In 2016, I purchased another vintage Realistic transistor radio, this time a Blueberry Flavoradio, 12-721, that features both AM and FM. It was made in August of 1992.

Both of these are powered by 9 Volt batteries.

Fast forward to March of 2017, I purchased a Sony ICF-P26 online, which has the look and feel of a transistor radio, but uses an integrated circuit and a third of the voltage.

This is still my go-to radio as of June 2018 when I am writing this piece. It runs on 2 AA batteries, has a slide rule tuner, with nearly pinpoint accuracy, there is also an LED indicator light for both tuning (red) and battery power (green.) AM DXing is fairly decent for a radio of this size, in Southeast Louisiana it is possible to here many higher powered AM broadcasters from the Midwest on any given night.

It is a very good radio especially for power outages, but I wish there was a better selection of radio stations in my area to hear on it.

I hope radio broadcasting makes a full comeback in my area, at least someday, to where I can be entertained for hours on end at little to no cost like in my teen years prior to Hurricane Katrina…

I also hope that you, the reader, find this piece entertaining and informing.

50 Years of Tactical Flashlights

At the time of me writing this article, April 2018, tactical flashlights have been on the market for about fifty years.

I don’t know what is harder to believe: That they weren’t thought of sooner since the very first flashlights predate the tactical flashlights by seventy years. Or has it really been that long, yes, it has but a “tactical” flashlight of 1968 is much longer, wider and not as bright as a tactical flashlight of 2018?

The first police department to be issued flashlights was New York City in the year 1902 and this has made police work a little easier ever since.

Weapon mounted flashlights date back to World War One, but typically the recoil of the gun being fired many times caused the bulb’s filament to break. The earliest example I have witnessed in an online picture dated 1929, featuring an Illinois Central Railroad policeman holding a rifle with what appears to be a Brass Multi D cell flashlight mounted under the barrel. I’m not sure how well that flashlight’s bulb and circuitry withstood the recoil of that firearm.

However, this article is meant to cover, the first flashlight designed specifically for the rigorous and rugged conditions of police work. Remember police work is very demanding that many times entails being in situations where something as serious as getting shot at is an unfortunate reality. Prior to the invention of the tactical flashlight, many cops and security guards used higher-end consumer flashlights that were constantly breaking, mostly at the worst possible time. There needed to be a better solution. The answer was a flashlight was invented by Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Deputy Donald Keller, which he began researching in the early 1960s. It was called the Kel Lite and the very first production models came on the market in 1968.

This flashlight was much more rugged than the stamped sheet metal and molded plastic flashlights previously made.

Rather it’s body was constructed of high-quality Aircraft Aluminum and with precisely fitting parts.

It was very shockproof, waterproof and even bulletproof to a degree!

Yes, there have been instances where this flashlight not only stopped a bullet but continued providing light.

The Kel Lite was designed for law enforcement and security personnel as a reliable light source that won’t break or otherwise give out in the middle of a shift for almost any reason. It was also meant to double as a baton and Donald Keller himself taught classes and wrote books about using the said flashlight as a self-defense melee weapon.

There was only one flaw in the First and Second Generation models and that was an inferior switch system.

However, even with these inferior switches, there are still Kel Lites in use today that work as well as when they were purchased in the 1960s and 1970s.

In 1979, a new tactical flashlight was put on the market, known as the MagLite.

This new Maglite was an improvement of the Kel Lite because it had a superior switch system and a focusable light beam.

In 1983, the Third Generation Kel Lite was put into production and it too had a push button switch. Also around this time, Kel Lite had merged with Streamlight, which was prior to that was producing rechargeable flashlights with higher output Halogen bulbs.

Maglite had also come out with a rechargeable Halogen model around 1982, which was marketed for police use.

Then in 1985, a fairly new company called Laser Products, came out with a revolutionary idea and that was an ultra-rugged, but pocket-sized high output flashlight with a Xenon/Halogen lamp. It was run on very high capacity Lithium camera batteries. This company would soon become known as SureFire.

This was indeed revolutionary because one of these pocket-sized SureFire flashlights was equally bright as a 4 D Cell Maglite or Kel Lite.

In 1988 the Brinkmann Legend flashlights were put on the market as another one Donald Keller’s designs.

Throughout the 1990s, not many changes happened with incandescent tactical flashlights, but in 1998, the first LED flashlight was invented, although not a tactical model at all.

At some point in the 2000’s many police and security officers were all of a sudden forbidden to carry a multi-cell metal flashlight because of brutality issues, so smaller but equally bright models such as the Streamlight Stinger and various SureFire flashlights became the norm of police work. These are now what many people think when the phrase “tactical flashlight” is mentioned.

Because of this, larger Maglites and Brinkmann Legends became mostly a higher end consumer flashlight.

In the early 2010s, LEDs became more and more efficient and soon were the norm of tactical flashlights.

As of 2018, there are dozens if not hundreds of tactical LED flashlight brands to choose from worldwide. Even consumer brands such as Energizer, Rayovac, Duracell and Dorcy all have tactical lines.

Incandescents are still used in niche markets, such as the military and medical sectors, but they are getting harder and harder to find for the average consumer.

Who knows what the next fifty years will give us in the world of tactical flashlights?

I know I’ll be anxiously looking forward to whatever technology comes out.

I hope this walk down memory lane on a dark night was lit well enough by the flashlights mentioned and I hope you, the reader were enlightened as well.

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Eveready Dolphin Lanterns and their Equivalent American Counterparts

There is a 6 Volt flashlight or torch as it is known in that part of the world, which is very popular in Australia and New Zealand and has been for half a century. This wonderful lighting instrument is known as “The Eveready Dolphin.” It is a higher-end 6-volt lantern that is built better and of course, costs more than the “value” models. Every time I come across someone from either of those two countries, I always ask them about it. Every person I have asked always had something to say as well. Everyone knew what I was talking about. That speaks volumes on its popularity by the way, because I’ve never known a flashlight to be as universally acknowledged as the Eveready Dolphin Lantern. There aren’t too many commercials for flashlights here in The States, but from what I gather, Australia and New Zealand frequently advertise their Dolphin Lanterns on television and have done so ever since they came on the market in 1967. The only flashlight I’ve seen advertised on television in The States is Maglite, but still, not every American is familiar with Maglite. I’ll admit many are but there are a few who aren’t. Also, Maglite television commercials are quite rare. I’m not sure, but I think the Dolphins are even advertised during soap operas in the countries Down Under. Dolphins are a household word there. Both the Dolphin Lanterns and most of the American Equivalents are waterproof and can float if they fall in the water.

There are also American Equivalents to the Australian Dolphin that were available in The States. They aren’t as popular as they were years ago, but still can be found if one looks hard enough.

The first one was The Eveready All American Lantern model number 108, which might actually predate the Dolphin Lantern Mark 1, which came on the Down Under markets in 1967. Can someone clarify this for me? It featured a bright, long-range searchlight beam, “break proof” bulb socket, rubber sealed switch and was constructed of high-quality high-density polyethylene. Some but not all American models came with a waterproof O ring in the threads. I believe the Number 209 or 459 for the explosion-proof version did not have an o ring and it was more of a stripped-down model. It was used by Americans from all walks of life, from farmers to firefighters.

I have been doing research since 2015 on these wonderful flashlights and I have yet to come across the American Equivalent to the Dolphin Mark 2 or 3, which was released in 1972. There was one that was quite similar, but not exactly the same released in the late 1980s and popular throughout the 1990s, which sported a bigger reflector, a brighter Xenon-Halogen filled bulb in addition to the standard features. This was an updated version of the Eveready 209.

There was another Dolphin lantern that was also available as an American version, but all I know is that it was released sometime in the 1990s and available into the 2010s, the model number was F101 and again 459 for the explosion-proof version. The visual design was quite different, but this one was downgraded to a Krypton filled bulb.

The Dolphin 4 of 1996 and 4.2 of 2000 do not have any American counterparts that I am aware of, however there is a very different looking and possibly cheaper built American lantern that was made around this time, their model numbers were either the 73 or V109 and known as the Work Gear or Sport Gear Lanterns.

In 2003, the Dolphin Mark 5 was released Down Under and was also released in The States as the Energizer Sea Beam, then in 2006 as the Weatheready Lantern. I believe the model number was DOLB1, but correct me if I am wrong. This had a different visual look from previous Dolphins but all the features of them, just a Krypton filled bulb, but also a collapsible stand for hands-free lighting, such as when having car trouble.

In 2007, the Dolphin Mark 6 was released in Australia and New Zealand. It had an appearance that was similar, yet different to the Mark 4 and 4.2. It features a Xenon-filled bulb of some kind. There aren’t any American versions, to my knowledge which really disappoints me.

In 2012, an LED version of the Dolphin Mark 6 was released Down Under. It featured a single, 100 lumen LED engine and a grip on the handle that was either made of Rubber or Silicon. In 2015 through some of 2016, an American version of that aforementioned LED Dolphin Lantern, which was built similar but had a 150 lumen LED engine and no grip on the handle and also called the Energizer Weather Ready or model number DOLBLED2.

In 2016 a new Dolphin LED lantern was released in Australia and New Zealand. It featured four LED engines giving off a combined 200 lumens, with a beam range of 250 meters and a 65-hour battery run time. There has yet to be an American equivalent to this model as of 2018.

Who knows what the Dolphins and their American Equivalent Counterparts of the Future will look like and what technologies they will employ? Whatever the case, I hope they are made for years to come because I am a huge fan of them!

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Excerpts and Ideas from Stories that I Never Finished

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…
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.”
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…
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?”
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.”
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.

I am a Human G.P.S.

Ever since I’ve known myself, I have always been interested as to which highways (and later waterways and railroads) go where. Even in my very early childhood, I would pay close attention to where my parents would drive and memorize the routes. Also, I remember asking from a very early age what were the names of certain roads we traveled on. The only explanation as to why navigation interests me is because I inherited this interest genetically from my dad. In the first half of the year 1991, he would drive me to a nursery/preschool at a church in Schriever, Louisiana. As he drove, he would teach me about the roads we traveled on to get there. I was only four years old, but I was paying close attention. It’s in my genes, I guess, but unfortunately, my brother and sister didn’t inherit this interest, as they take after my mom. In fact, as early as age six, in the summer of 1993, I was giving driving directions to my mom! Other family members recognized my skills with memorizing and figuring out routes. Many were impressed, but I’m sure others questioned why would a young child who cannot legally drive yet (not even reach the pedals) be interested in highway navigation.

The current route of US 90 in my area didn’t have its alignment until the late Summer of 1999. Between Raceland and Morgan City, US 90 was routed through Houma on what is now LA 182. When I was a young child, the highway that would be the new four-laned US 90 ended at its interchange with LA 311. Traffic wanting to continue west went North on LA 311 until Schriever then went West on LA 24 and finally West on LA 20 towards Gibson where it was connected to US 90 once again. Very slowly, and I mean at a snail’s pace, the new US 90, temporarily known as LA 3052, was being built and by 1998 it had reached LA 20 out in the Atchafalaya Swamps in Western Terrebonne Parish. In the defense of the government and the construction contractors, the swamp bridge that carries this highway is indeed one of the longest bridges in the world. However, when the railroad coming through this area back in the 1850s, it didn’t take anywhere near as long as long to build though. In fact, there was a railroad between Algiers (New Orleans on the Westbank) and what is now Morgan City completed between 1852 and 1857. Most of it still exists to this day. It took over 20 years to upgrade US 90 in my area. I remember reading a newspaper article in the Summer of 1998, that the New US 90 would be complete in 1999 and that its former routes would be known as “LA 182.” A year later, we rode to New Iberia and all of the westbound portions of the New US 90 were complete, but some of the eastbound portions still needed a little work. A few weeks later my dad was bringing me and my brother to the YMCA in Houma, LA, and some of the LA 182 signs were up. It wasn’t until December of 1999 that the route numbers of LA 3198 and LA 3199 (also part of US 90’s former route) in Raceland were changed to LA 182. I remember seeing those signs on a bus ride home one day. The change happened while I was in class. I was sure happy to see those new signs.

In my preteen years, I began to collect, study and memorize roadmaps. I would also go to the library, just to get on the computer to use the program Microsoft Streets and Trips 2000. If the library staff would have allowed me to, I could have looked at those maps for hours on end. That was also one of the programs my parents purchased when they acquired a computer in the Summer of 2000. Because of this computer program, I also began to memorize which waterways went where, though I wouldn’t get heavily interested in that until fifteen years later. I don’t remember if the said map program labeled the railroads, therefore I couldn’t figure out which ones went where. However, I do remember thinking about how most of the railroads were there before the highways and looking at them while passing by the Raceland Junction one day in the Summer of 2000 while coming back from my maternal grandmother’s house. It would be eleven years later from that point when I started memorizing the railroad lines and routes.

At age fourteen a fellow classmate referred to me as a “human GPS” while on a field trip to Baton Rouge. This was in January of 2001, though, and while I indeed knew what a GPS was, not everyone else did. Some people were annoyed at this hobby of mine, yet still impressed at least to a very slight degree. At the age of fourteen, I wanted so badly to be a truck driver, for the simple fact that I would get paid to travel the roads and collect road miles. My family wouldn’t hear of it though because they wanted me to go to college instead. Also, in the summer of 2001, however, things started to change. I had discovered radio communications while doing research online and began to forget about studying maps. This would go on for the next five to six years.

At age sixteen, I discovered writing and every now and then, my navigation hobby would inspire my writing. Certain highways in my area are the inspiration for certain highways in my works of fiction.

On December 30, 2003, just a few days shy of turning seventeen, I finally got my driver’s license.

In the Summer of 2006, at the age of nineteen, I got a hand me down 1998 Ford Taurus, but it wouldn’t be until 2007 that I began to start exploring on my own.

In late January of 2007, I drove myself and my girlfriend (now soon to be ex wife) to Kenner and we spent the day at the Esplanade Mall.

Another time in February 2007, I drove over the Huey Pierce Long Bridge (prior to the widening or traffic lights at the West Traffic Circle) and took her to the Clearview Mall in Metairie, LA.

Around Mardi Gras of 2007, I drove her to Morgan City, LA and Bayou Vista, LA but took the Old US 90 (LA 182) back home, all the way through Houma, LA, much to her dismay.

Around Easter of 2007, I drove her to Metairie, LA to show her the house maternal grandmother lived in and later the Riverwalk in Downtown New Orleans. We crossed the River back home on the Canal Street Ferry.

In 2008, I drove all the way to just north of Alexandria, LA to evacuate from Hurricane Gustav.

All of these trips (except the last one mentioned) had an ulterior motive and that was to hone my navigational skills. I pretty much knew how to get to these places by studying the map, but actually doing it was a whole new accomplishment for me. Many times my girlfriend got nervous because she doesn’t like riding in unfamiliar territory. This, of course, is where we butt heads frequently, especially now as husband and wife. UPDATE: My wife and I are in the process of getting a divorce. My heart is broken, but will heal eventually.

Believe it or not, despite being a human GPS, I have never driven outside of Louisiana and I am thirty going on thirty-one at the time of writing this.

However, I have indeed helped others, friends, family, and in-laws navigate through unfamiliar areas many times.

UPDATE: On December 30, 2017, the fourteenth anniversary of me getting my driver’s license, I drove across a state line for the first time.

For both waterways and railroads, my interest in learning their routes started at age thirteen, but they were forgotten about until my mid to late twenties.

I had been interested in trains from a very young age, probably because my parents read me children’s books about them, but also I had a few toy trains as a young child. As an older child, the interest went away, not to come back except slightly as a teen when I discovered that I could hear trains on a scanner. It wasn’t until age twenty-four that I became fully engulfed in my railroad hobby.

As for waterways it was seeing their routes on a computer that interested me, but it wasn’t until age twenty-eight that I became interested in them when I realized that railroads might upgrade their communications systems to where scanners cannot hear them, but VHF Marine will still be in the clear for years to come. To me watching barge traffic is almost as fun as watching railroad traffic.

In 2011 at the age of twenty-four, I began memorizing the railroad lines in my state and a few other states. Railroads are a bit tricky because they are mostly privately owned in the USA. Therefore getting too close to some of them is considered trespassing. Also, most railroads in the USA are used more for transporting freight and not necessarily passengers, though this wasn’t always the case.

In 2015 at the age of twenty-eight, I started to learn the [navigable] waterway routes of my area. Like railroads, [inland] waterways don’t really carry passengers anymore, rather they too carry mostly freight. Also like railroads this wasn’t always the case.

Being a human GPS comes in handy many times, I must say, though I think it is under-appreciated by most around me. This is especially true in the age of smartphones with built-in navigation apps.

I still like showing off my navigational skills when I can, but now I don’t give a damn whether others like it or not. If anyone is going to give me grief about it, I don’t need them in my life anyway.

Hopefully, I have been informative and maybe entertaining…

Back to “Personal Reflections”

Remembering 9/11-Sixteen Years Later

I don’t remember September 11, 1996, at all. If there was any press coverage of the Union Pacific takeover of Southern Pacific, I didn’t see it. My train interest in those days was dormant. I had liked trains as a very young child but somehow managed to forget about them some time around the age of eight. The interest came back around age sixteen when I discovered that I could hear them on my scanner. I even wrote a story about freight train hopping done by two teen runaways, but somehow my interest in trains went away again. It wasn’t until age twenty-four that I became a full blown foamer. And it wasn’t until age twenty-eight that I started listening to marine traffic on the regular.

However, this piece isn’t about September 11, 1996, which, despite my razor sharp memory, I don’t remember at all.

It is about September 11, 2001, which I vividly remember. I remember where I was, what I was doing and whom I was with when the news broke of America being attacked by radical Islamic terrorists. Get ready, readers, because I will show exactly how powerful my memory actually is:

That was sixteen years ago today.

The weather was sunny, dry and unusually mild for a Louisiana September. In fact weather wise, it was a very pleasant day.

I was an eighth grader at Vandebilt Catholic High and was sitting in the second period Reading class. The teacher, Mrs. Shellen Liner, was absent that day and we had a substitute, Mr. C. J. Tastet (my math teacher at first period and a distant cousin of mine, actually.)

We were probably given some form of busy work, which I don’t completely recall.

But then towards the end of the period, the principal, Mr. David Kiefe, activated the public address system and told of how the World Trade Center was bombed and had collapsed and that the Pentagon was also bombed. It was considered an act of war on American soil, something that hadn’t happened for almost sixty years.

When I heard this, I assumed that Iraq and the ruling Hussein dictatorship was behind it. I honestly thought that it was payback for the Persian Gulf War, ten years earlier. I was only four years of age during the Persian Gulf War, but remember it well thanks to my Paternal Grandparents (who helped raise me) keeping their television set locked on a news channel, usually CNN. I didn’t know anything about Al-Queda, the Taliban or Usama bin Laden. I remember seeing an article in Teen Newsweek some months prior about Buddhist statues in Afghanistan and how the Muslims there angrily destroying them. Afghanistan was originally a Buddhist nation, by the way.

As the day went on, we attended class, but no lessons were taught. I remember, during the third period, hearing how the Twin Towers could fit the entire population of Houma in them from my Earth Science teacher, Mr. Scott Ayo.

For Louisiana History, at the fourth period, I remember my teacher Mr. Rafe Blades saying how we are currently “at war.” He then turned on a boom box, tuned to WWL-AM and the announcer said the very same words “at war”, just as he turned it on.

There were some girls freaking out because President Bush was being kept safely at Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana. I had a desire to comfort them but didn’t know exactly what to say.

Then there was lunch. I was quite underweight at the time, so I was drinking a Boost shake for lunch. Those things had an awful aftertaste and I was also taking Aderal, (misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD) which suppressed my appetite even further. A female classmate (whom I shall not name) saw I that I had a radio in my pocket. It was a cheap little Coby pocket sized radio I bought a week prior at Big Lots, that could tune in AM, FM and the audio portions of VHF TV Channels 2-13. Television broadcasting was still done in analog in those days, so such a device was possible. She threatened to tattle on me for having the radio. I don’t know what I said, but I talked her out of it.

This may shock some of you readers out there, but I didn’t own a radio scanner at the time. I had only known such things existed for two months prior to that and being an unemployed fourteen-year-old with fiscally conservative parents, I could never afford one anyway. I wouldn’t actually own one until a year later and when I did, it was an entry level table top model that I got for $30 on clearance at Wal Mart. Looking back, I wish I could have heard, at least what my local public safety personnel was talking about on that terrible day. It would have been interesting to hear railroad and marine traffic as well. All aircraft were eventually grounded that day, so there would have been no [civilian] air traffic to listen to.

Mr. Rafe Blades also taught me Physical Education that year and we didn’t dress out that day. We just sat in the gym and watched television.

For the seventh period, which would have been religious studies with Mrs. Kathy Tarantino, the whole school assembled in the gym and prayers were recited by Mr. Calvin Buxton. If there was anything good that came out of this, it was me telling my mom that the man who was reciting prayers was the same man who taught the girls physical education at the same period as the boy’s P. E. class I was in and he would frequently make peacock calls, something which always amused me. She told me who he was and not long after I befriended him. Unfortunately, he passed away in January of 2016, but I remember him telling me how I was one of his favorite students (he taught me Old Testament Religious Studies, my sophomore year.)

At the eighth period, the final period of the day, there was English with Ms. Rhonda Ledet. We continued to watch the television sets.

School finally let out. My mom, who also teaches at Vandebilt, drove me home and I remember tuning the car radio, but all stations were covering the events that had happened. Many were simulcasting each others’ programming.

I logged onto my family computer and dialed into the AOL server. My mom at first didn’t want me to use the computer for fear of a cyber attack, but for whatever reason, I did anyway. I then started my ICQ app and saw that people were virtually/figuratively lighting candles online. Social media was in its infancy at the time and there was no Facebook, no not even Myspace. The way to communicate was AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ.

Later my dad came home from work. My brother and sister also got off the bus. We tuned in the television to the local CBS affiliate, WWL-TV. I stood on the driveway with my Coby radio, also tuned it to the audio portion of WWL-TV and listened to Dan Rather anchoring the coverage of these events. I listened to that radio for the rest of the evening.

Eventually, I went to bed, not fully realizing that America had lost its innocence for good…

All kinds of laws that eat away at the Constitution, no matter how necessary in this post modern world, were put into place.

Also, I believe 9/11 probably didn’t help in preventing the Housing Market Crash of 2008.

On a personal level, because of these terrorist attacks, I frequently get questioned and sometimes even harassed when out watching railroad or marine traffic. Some of my older foamer friends tell me that before 9/11 one could walk into a railroad yard and watch trains all day long and even take pictures. I guess one could also go into dockyards and marine terminals and watch/take pictures of all the boats and barges passing by, without much heckling as well.

I guess these policies work because there has never been another terrorist attack in America that involved using transportation equipment and infrastructure. Most terrorist attacks on American soil were done with crude IEDs and bullets. Although in 2013, there was an unusually high amount of train derailments, however, I’m going to sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist if I continue elaborating on that.

As for the impact, that day had on my growth and development as a person, I guess the main thing I learned is that life is short and no one is guaranteed their next breath. Come to think of it, 9/11 was a factor that made me want to write, but I remember thinking during school on that day to find any girl I had a crush on (there were a few) and stay near her as much as possible in case of a terrorist attack on the school and just try to shield and protect her. This idea stayed in my head for a few days until I realized there probably wouldn’t be any more attacks. Some of my stories I would come to write, years later did indeed incorporate these values and events in them. 9/11 is also partially a reason why I carry a flashlight with me everywhere, though it would be a little less than four years afterward (May 5, 2005,) that I began that practice. I think of being trapped in a building or transportation vehicle and its dark, but if I have a flashlight, I can help get myself and others out. By the way, in 2008 while an HVAC student at L. E. Fletcher, the power went out and I had my trusty flashlight on me. The same female classmate who wanted to tattle on me for having the radio on 9/11, gave me much kudos for having the flashlight! She still shall not be named, though. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned about 9/11, is that while America leads the free world, many nations and organizations (both foreign and domestic) hate us with a passion. And not only that, they know our weak points and are like a brood of vipers ready to strike. The next attack, on America I believe will be against our electronics, personal, commercial, industrial and maybe even military, with an electromagnetic pulse. Such an attack would catapult us back into the nineteenth century and do collateral damage resulting in casualties that will make 9/11 look like Kindergarten…I pray that this will never happen, but will God answer that prayer?

Back to “Personal Reflections”



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.]