Sixteen Years of Writing!

Today is April 10, 2019.

It will be sixteen years this evening that I decided to become a writer, at least on the amateur level.

This is a special anniversary for my writing “career” because I was sixteen years old when I began. That means that now I have been writing for half of my life.

Though I have been writing for sixteen years, I still have yet to earn a single copper penny from doing it.

I still do it mostly for fun, but also to forward the values and truths I find important and to describe and inform about my various other interests.

Late last month and earlier this month I had tried a new medication, Vraylar, for various mental disorders of which I suffer. It made me completely stable but at the same time, disabled my ability to write. I was so stable that I was unable to be creative at all. It is true that most writers, visual artists, musicians, and all others who are creative either have some sort of mental disorder, use drugs and/or alcohol or have something else wrong with them. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, those flaws allow and sometimes compel creativity. So I’m back on my normal medication and this piece is the first thing I have written since.

What initially fueled my writing and ability to be creative other than the several factors experienced in the months prior to April of 2003, was that I was wrongfully medicated with a terrible drug known as Risperdal, but around late March or early April 2003, I was taken off all medications and had become very lively. That liveliness spawned much creativity both verbal (I came out with some funny and thought-provoking things in those days) and literary when I wrote my first story on the evening of April 10, 2003. This is what I am talking about when I mention medication and lack thereof.

That first story was about a teenage couple that was mowed down in a school shooting. What is scary though is that days after writing it there were at least two school shootings both in my home state of Louisiana. My peers seemed amazed but then soon forgot about it. There were various other times my writing has predicted things that came to pass. More than anything, it scares me when this happens but doesn’t stop me from being creative.

In 2003 and into 2004, I kept the stories I had written on a secret webpage, some of which was saved in the Internet Archives. Yes, I did feel quite flattered when I discovered that in 2017! In 2004 I began backing up my stories on a floppy disk, which I did until 2006 when I began using a USB flash drive.

For the second half of 2004 and through most of 2005, my writing became stagnant. This is because in June of 2004 I suffered a mental breakdown and was medicated with that same terrible medication from June of 2004 to January of 2006. When I was put on a better medication, Geodon, in 2006, I felt much like the same way I did in late March and early April of 2003. It was almost like being continuously high, just perfectly legal and medically necessary!

From January 2006 and onward, I had been writing and it kept on improving.

In June or July of 2007, I had tried a different medication and stayed on it until April of 2010, when I went back to Geodon, again there was that brightening effect and the high highs. I was working as a grocer, which would inspire my “Grocer and Writer” stories, over four years later. In September of 2011, I had quit that job and had lots of free time on my hands, a good bit of which I would dedicate to my writing. I was married at the time and for whatever reason, my now ex wife and some [not all] of my ex-in-laws despised the fact that I was a writer. I honestly think it is because the content of my writing did not and does not conform to the narrative and agenda they subscribe to. My ex wife and and I come from radically different cultures and that alone produced a lot of friction in our marriage. I guess, I married her because I was definitely attracted to her physically and at first she did treat me right, although from the get go she found ways to tear me down and I should have seen this as a red flag, but I didn’t. Hindsight is always 20/20 though.

From 2012 onward I had written some of my favorite stories, many of which are at least partially available on my blog.

I had also begun to start writing personal reflections, essays and articles in addition to my works of fiction.

In the late Summer of 2015, I had tried a drug for my various mental disorders known as Latuda. It was like Risperdal, minus the side effects. I only stayed on it for a day or two, then went back to Geodon. Also in 2015, I was steadily working on my “Grocer and Writer” stories which I had begun on June 30, 2014.

By 2016, I had realized that a good bit of people were offended by those “Grocer and Writer” stories so I began to write off shoots of them that talk the decent values presented in them, but had taken out most of the controversy.

My now ex wife still hated these off shoots and just about anything else I would write.

On October 6, 2016, a month after the untimely death of a fellow, young aspiring writer, I launched my blog. I had realized that I am still alive and I have a gift that needs to be shared with others. I would say that my readers do indeed appreciate what I do and I hold their appreciation in high regard!

Throughout 2017, I continued writing off shoots to my “Grocer and Writer” stories as well as some non fiction pieces while my marriage was beginning to fall apart.

I left my now ex wife on January 18/19, 2018 and the divorce was granted on October 11, 2018.

Being back on Geodon from Vraylar has allowed my creativity to slowly come back and I cannot wait until it is fully manifested once again.

I cannot wait to see what I will write in the next sixteen years!

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you, the reader, have been informed and maybe even entertained…

Grocer and Writer Inspirations

On June 30, 2019, it will be five years since I began writing my infamous “Grocer and Writer” stories. I have caught both flack and praise for writing them and yes I’ll admit that they are quite polarizing. In 2016 and 2017, I had written offshoots of them, trying to be less offensive, but I haven’t been able to elaborate on them as much as the original stories.

In this piece, I will try to document every source of inspiration that I drew from in order to create these stories.

It is a love story between a mildly Autistic young man who is a twenty-two/twenty-three year old Grocery clerk and his girlfriend, a plus sized seventeen/eighteen-year-old honor student turned high school dropout. I know that in and of itself brought a lot of flack due to the high amount of controversy, but I was only trying to teach that everyone deserves to be loved.

I will say that I met my girlfriend over four years after beginning writing these stories, but as I got to know her more and fell in love with her, I realized that there are many ways she reminds me of the young lady in these stories. She reminds me of other good female characters in the stories I write as well. And not only that, when I read them to her, she smiles at me from ear to ear and stares at me intently and with great focus. She is never offended or disgusted like so many others were when I presented those stories to them.

These weren’t written in chronological order, by the way, they were written as the inspirations came to me.

On June 30, 2014, I wrote my first piece of the series. I had previously worked as a grocer for a company I had hated, but this was 2010-2011 and there were no other jobs available, little did I know that working for this said company would cause me to draw so much inspiration. The piece takes place in January and starts off with my male character whom I now will name Garth Cooper getting off of work from his God awful grocer’s job. The name of the store where he works is known as “The Downtown Grocer” and its location is based on the New Orleans Central Business District. He fires up his old car, a 1989 Toyota, and heads to his girlfriend, an honor student turned dropout, whom I have now named Samantha Abbott, parents’ house in the suburbs which are based on Metairie/Old Metairie (a suburb directly West of New Orleans.) He brings her to his house, which was based on my Maternal Grandma’s house located in Metairie, but instead his neighborhood is based on Mid City, New Orleans.

In early July 2014, I wrote a piece on how they met. It is Thanksgiving and Garth Cooper is in the municipal park, writing stories in a composition book. He has the day off and uses it to focus on his passion, writing love stories. The park is based on New Orleans City Park, but also Central Park in Manhattan, New York City. The fictitious city in which they reside is inspired by a combination of New Orleans, New York and Detroit and their respective suburbs. While Garth is writing in the park, Samantha takes a walk to the park to get away from her arguing parents. She first notices him and is attracted to him. She is able to get him to allow her to sit with him, even though you, the reader, will find out that she is seventeen and he is twenty-two. At first, he is reluctant but realizes no one else wanted him. They exchange phone numbers and he reads to her, making her want him all the more. The end up a couple and sit together until the sun and Mercury go down. He drives her home, concluding the piece.

In either July or August of 2014, I wrote a piece consisting of a day at Garth’s God awful job, which is based on some personal life events I had previously experienced and Samantha’s miserable home life, which was done by observing others I had formerly known. It takes place on The Winter Solstice. As mentioned before Garth’s job at the Downtown Grocer, which is located in a neighborhood based on the Central Business District of New Orleans and Samantha’s parents’ house takes place in a neighborhood, based off of Old Metairie, which is a suburb to the immediate west of New Orleans. Garth is on a break along with the male janitor and the female cook. He is texting Samantha when the janitor sees the bliss in his eyes and wants to know if he is talking to his girlfriend. Garth says he is and talks about how he loves and reveres her. The cook then starts badmouthing Samantha as she cannot stand to see a happy or chaste couple. Garth stands up to the cook and to which she threatens him with an edged weapon. All in all, Garth threatens to record her making the threats and turn the recordings over to the police to which she quiets down. Then the break is over, to which Garth begins stocking the shelves. A gentleman asks him to help him find the remoulade sauce and then helps him get some fresh fish from seafood. Garth takes care of his customer, who we later find out is none other than Samantha’s dad. The assistant store director chews Garth out for conversing with the gentleman, to which the gentleman backs him up. The assistant store director comes down harder on Garth and the gentleman overhears to which he cancels his revolving account and says how neither he nor his business partners will ever shop there again because of the way they treat their employees. Garth is forced to stock the boxed gelatin from now on. Meanwhile, Samantha is in her room listening to one of the music channels. Her pill-addicted mother is woken up by the music. She accuses Samantha of stealing her Xanax and threatens to beat her. Samantha calls her dad, to which he intervenes and tells his wife to look under the sofa for her stash. She then takes the Xanax and crashes. I wrote another piece following this where Garth gets off of work and goes pick up Samantha, then brings her to his home, which his neighborhood is based on Mid City, New Orleans. They tell each other about all that went on during the day over a simple dinner of oatmeal. Both contemplate only in their minds that they should live together as soon as Samantha turns eighteen. Then they discover their synchronous thoughts. The piece concludes with Garth looking at the clock on his dining room wall and realizing that he has work tomorrow. She tells him how she doesn’t want to go home and be around her mother. So he lovingly tucks Samantha into the bed in his extra bedroom, then goes to sleep in his bedroom, concluding the piece.

In August of 2014, I wrote a piece consisting of their first time being intimate with each other. It takes place on Christmas Eve, and Pachelbel’s Canon in D Minor had a lot of inspiration for it. Yes she is seventeen in he is twenty-two, and while they didn’t fully realize that she was legal they lovingly had sex anyway. Since the location of these stories is mostly based on Louisiana and the age of consent in Louisiana is indeed seventeen, no laws were broken. The piece begins with Garth getting off of work then going pick up Samantha from her parents’ house. He then drives her to his house and they sit on the sofa. He offers her virgin egg nog, to which she says she shouldn’t drink because she is so fat. He reassures her that he would love her no matter what size she is. Garth then turns his television on, to where he learns of several murders that occurred over the past twenty-four hours and he also learns of the world preparing for global conflict. Samantha suggests that he turn the television off and that they focus on each other. She then confesses that she wants to be intimate with him. He doesn’t know that seventeen is legal, so he is hesitant. She convinces him that they are not guaranteed tomorrow and they should make tonight worth it. She says how she wants him so badly because he accepted her when everyone else she was interested in so cruelly rejected her. Eventually, he agrees and they go to bed together and deflower each other, falling even deeper in love.

Later in 2014, I wrote a piece of their first date together. It takes a place a week and a day after they met and became an item or a week and a day after Black Friday. Prior to this they had been religiously texting each other and getting to know each other. He calls her and says how he’d like to take her on a date to a place that is based on The Riverwalk in New Orleans. She agrees, and as the phone call is finishing up they exchange those three little words! She gets dressed then texts him that she’s ready. He comes to pick her up and they go to his job to pick up and cash his check. They hold hands in the store until his boss the assistant store director orders them to stop holding hands. He cashes his check and pays the $5 cashing fee, then they go to the Riverwalk. They eat breakfast at a restaurant based off of Cafe` Du Monde, then they have lunch at a fish and chip shop, based off of the Louisiana seafood restaurant Spahr’s, which doesn’t have a presence in New Orleans. He then buys her a Casio Baby G watch at a gift shop. Afterward, they walk until the sun goes down and he takes her home. They plan to see each other again on his next day off.

Even later in 2014, I wrote a piece consisting of the night before Samantha’s eighteenth birthday and her moving in with Garth. It takes place in early February. It starts with him getting off of work and heading to the suburbs to pick Samantha up. It is a very cold evening. She is waiting for him on her parents’ driveway. His headlights illuminate her stature. He gets out of his car then opens the door for her and she gets in. He drives her to his house and they settle in. He asks her what would she like him to order her for her birthday dinner. She says something Asian. He begins to look through his telephone directory, to which she replies how she has an app to order it on her phone. She orders and soon the delivery man comes. Garth takes the food, pays him then escorts him back to his car. Afterward, they eat dinner in the dining room, to which Samantha says how the food made her sleepy. They go to bed, this time in the same bed and cuddle, soon falling asleep in each others’ arms. They are awoken by the loud noises and subsequent explosions of a train derailment. Since this series takes place in New Orleans, but in the future almost, I had written it to where the Norfolk Southern Back Belt line was actually rerouted from Old Metairie to Mid City, though this has yet to take place in real life, a little over four years later. The train derailment knocked out transmission power lines and caused a blackout. Samantha looks at her phone and sees how it is midnight and she is now legal to stay with him. A few minutes later, however, there is a knock at the door and a policeman, I haven’t decided if it was a state trooper, a railroad special agent or a city cop, orders them to evacuate.

At another point, sometime before July of 2015. I wrote the piece which takes place in the early morning hours of Samantha’s eighteenth birthday. They are complying with the policeman’s orders and leaving the city. Traffic is very dense as they discuss where should they go. Samantha says she doesn’t want to be with her mother. Garth says the only other option is to go to his parents’ house which is five hours away. She agrees. Traffic is still at a standstill. Finally, traffic begins to move. At some point, Garth calls his mother and explains the situation to her. He tells her that he also has his girlfriend with her. The route I planned to have them take is based on Interstate 10 from Mid City, New Orleans to around Gonzales, Louisiana with its junction with US 61/Airline Highway. They continue towards Baton Rouge on US 61 then west on US 190 until its junction with US 71, between Port Barre, Louisiana and Krotz Springs, Louisiana where they head North. They stop at a diner for food and fuel in a town based on Bunkie, Louisiana. Garth goes to pay for the gasoline, but Samantha insists that she will pay instead and that he can repay her “all night long.” She then hands her debit card to the cashier, to which she says how she thinks they are so cute. In July of 2015, I once met a cashier at the Race Trac in Paradis, Louisiana, who very much reminded me of the cashier in this story. As they explain the situation to the waitress, she gives them free food and a thermal mug with the company name on it. These two pieces were inspired by the Country song “Callin’ Baton Rouge.” In fact since Garth Brooks covered that song, I named my male character Garth, his surname Cooper comes from Dr. Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang Theory, since they are both on The Autism Spectrum, but still high functioning. By the way, Samantha also got her name from that said song and she is indeed “A strange combination of a woman and a child.” The last name Abbott comes from the Abbott family on “The Young and the Restless” since her dad is a business executive and reminds me of a combination of Jack Abbott and Victor Newman. I already had created a character with the last name Newman in another story I wrote, so that is why I used Abbott. I did watch Y&R a little before creating this series, but I didn’t watch Big Bang until years after creating it. You will see that Garth’s mother is also a lot like Sheldon’s mother, which was totally by accident. Anyway, after eating and talking with the waitress they get back on the road. The diner was partially based on “The Highway 71 Sandwich Shop” which was located in Bunkie, Louisiana, but I don’t think is any longer in business. They continue North, at some point deviating from what is based on US 71 and ending up on the Northeastern Louisiana Delta at Garth’s parents’ soybean farm. They are greeted by his mother.

In June of 2015, I wrote a piece taking place on the Sunday after their first date. Samantha texts Garth and asks to come over. He is just waking up but gladly accepts. So he drives to her parents’ home and picks her up. He then drives her to his home for the first time. He warns her about his shady neighbors and states that his home isn’t the best. She states that it doesn’t matter to her. After they enter he reads to her from his computer until he hears her stomach growling. He asks if she is hungry. She replies about how she is and that her mom went on an eating binge and ate all the food in their house. So he feeds her some pork n beans, the only food he has in his house. She wolfs them down. Afterward, they watch Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2 on broadcast television, while they snuggle on the sofa. After watching the movie, they eat rice pudding and drink a coffee, chicory and milk blend then he takes her home.

Sometime in the Summer of 2015, I wrote the piece which takes place on Christmas Day. It starts with Garth making a breakfast of French Toast for Samantha. She is sitting on the bed doing research on her smartphone and finds out that she is legally at the age of consent, despite still being seventeen, in their state (which is based mostly on Louisiana where seventeen is indeed the age of consent), unbeknownst to Garth. He serves her breakfast and they awkwardly eat. She says how he should meet their parents since it is Christmas Day. There is freezing rain but they head out. During the car ride, Samantha says that she did some research and found out that she is legal. Garth is confused and asks what do you mean. She explains that seventeen is the legal age of consent in their state and that he didn’t break the law. She then confesses that she is afraid he won’t feel obligated to stay with her now that he knows this. Garth assures her that there isn’t anything in creation that could cause him to leave her. She asks him point blank what if he got her pregnant. He then said how he would then marry her and that he already wants to, its just he cannot afford a ring on his low wages. Samantha brightly beams after hearing this. Her dad then calls wanting to know where she is. She explains who she is with that he is good to her and that he does indeed love her. She then says that they are headed to the house at the moment. Upon arrival they ring the doorbell and Samantha’s dad answers, saying how they’ve met before. Samantha is confused and wants to know how. Her dad explains how he waited on him and The Downtown Grocer and took very good care of him, but was punished for talking instead of working. Garth says how he is on thin ice because of that incident. Samantha’s dad says how he can easily get him a better job but wants to make sure that he is committed to Samantha first and then asks how did they meet. Samantha interjects and tells the story and goes on to say that Garth is the only one who accepted her despite her weight. Her dad then says how she has an underactive thyroid gland and the weight is not her fault. He goes on to say how it tore him up seeing her rejected and lonely all the time. Garth despite being Autistic looks him in the eyes and says how he knows rejection too and that Samantha is the only one who wants him despite his quirks and awkwardness and that he would never dream of breaking her heart. Her dad then says how he is holding Garth to that statement and knows people who could tar and feather him. He then invites them in for Christmas Dinner, which is Asian takeout since he refuses to shop at The Downtown Grocer anymore. Samantha’s mom enters the room and asks Garth who the hell are you. Samantha replies that’s my boyfriend mom, don’t embarrass me. Her dad quickly says, let’s all eat, it’s Christmas and it should be peaceful. Thus the piece is concluded.

On November 7, 2015, I was sitting in the Paradis, Louisiana library and wrote the piece on when Samantha meets Garth’s parents while evacuating from the train derailment. After being greeted by his mother, she suggests that they must be tired from their trip and that Samantha can have his old bed and Garth can sleep on the sofa. Samantha becomes very distressed and Garth says how that is not necessary because they are both adults. Garth’s mother asks Samantha her age, to which she replies how she just made eighteen and she was in the process of moving in with him. This upsets Garth’s mother even more because they aren’t married. Garth’s dad wakes up and walks into the kitchen, wanting to know what is going on. Garth tells about the terrorist attack. His dad curses the terrorist groups. His mother commands him to explain the rest. Garth says how his mom is angry because he and Samantha want to sleep in the same bed. His dad tells her not to be so hard on him and they thought he wouldn’t ever find anyone because of his condition. Samantha gets very upset and wants to know what condition he has because she thinks it is something life-threatening. Garth’s dad says that he is mildly Autistic. Garth then looks at her and says how he was afraid to tell her because he thought she would leave him. Samantha replies reassuringly how she never would leave him because he loves her and reveres her. She then goes on to say that she is so fat anyway. Garth tells her that he likes her beautiful curves and that he feels bliss holding her at night. Garth’s mother then sharply commands him to watch it. Garth’s dad suggests that they all hit the sack. Garth’s mother walks to her liquor cabinet and takes a shot of whiskey, then another and tells them to do what they want. Garth’s dad shows them to the bedroom.

In March of 2016, I wrote the ending piece [but not the final piece.] Garth has now become a famous writer, so he fixed up his house, bought a new truck, a new computer and an engagement ring for Samantha. He then drives to her parents’ house to pick her up. He had asked her dad’s permission to marry her the previously to which he happily agreed. Garth then opens the passenger door for her and helps her in. He then drives her to the park. After they arrive, he suggests that they go sit on the bench where they sat when they first met. After sitting for just a moment, Garth gets down on one knee, pulls out the ring and proposes to her. Her eyes swell with tears and she happily says yes. The cook from his former job is in the park with all of her illegitimate children. Garth stands on the bench and says how he just proposed to the girl of his dreams and she said yes. Everyone in the park claps and cheers. The cook then starts yelling to the crowd how Samantha is fat and Garth is retarded and that they will be on disability and all of them will have to pay taxes to support them and any children they have. Garth then stands up to the cook and says he actually got a job as a romantic novelist, but that probably means nothing to her. He then says that either she leaves them alone or he will call the police. The cook pulls out a revolver and shoots Garth dead. She then aims for Samantha but several people wrestle the gun from her. Samantha sees Garth dying and her heart explodes. She then collapses on top of him and dies as well. The cook in these stories is based on several women whom I had the unfortunate experience of being acquainted with over the years. She is basically violently jealous of Samantha because she is only intimately known to one man, Garth, who exceedingly loves and reveres her at that, whereas the cook has children for several different men all who used her. The piece was also inspired by Meghan Trainor’s song “I’m Gonna Love You Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” That song was popular around that time. I actually caught a lot of flack for writing this, especially from my then wife, now ex-wife. After writing this, I decided that the series was too offensive and the world wasn’t ready for it, so I decided to start writing other series, “A Train Conductor Meets a Disabled Writer”, which I haven’t had much success with.

In November of 2016, while sitting at the Raceland, Louisiana library, I wrote two more pieces covering the time Garth and Samantha spent in the country while they were evacuated from the train derailment. It starts off with Garth and Samantha waking up in his old bed at his parents’ house and finding out that the heater isn’t working. Garth turns on his flashlight that he had packed (a vintage First Alert Ready-Lite that came with his house) to check the thermostat but then the bulb burns out. Samantha calls for him to come back to bed, which he does until they are both overtaken by the hunger pangs. So they walk to the kitchen where Garth’s mother is putting pancakes and bacon on the table. They eat, though there is great tension in the air. Garth says how the heater is broken. His mother corrects him and says how it is just out of oil. She then tells him to make himself useful and to go to the hardware store and get more oil. Garth says he plans to go there anyway to get a new bulb for his flashlight. Quickly they leave the house and go into town. They arrive at the hardware store just as it is opening up. Other customers are being waited on, so Garth and Samantha walk around the store. Garth meets the owner’s son and a former classmate of his while Samantha takes a call from her dad and goes into a corner. The owner’s son was once a football star but ended his career in college from an injury. He says how he now tries to be the best hardware salesman he could be. Garth explains how he is in town because the city he lives in was evacuated because of the train derailment and he needs bulbs for his flashlight and oil for his parents’ heater. The salesman looks in the computer and says there are five bulbs left. Garth says he will take all five of them, then says he’ll be paying cash for the bulbs but to charge to oil to his parents’ account. The salesman suggests he buy a Mini Maglite LED flashlight because the power might be back on to charge his flashlight. Garth says he doesn’t have enough cash for both the bulbs and the Mini Maglite. The salesman says to charge it to his parents’ account. Garth says they would be livid if he did. Samantha comes out of the corner from her phone call and says how she will gladly buy the flashlight for him like she bought gasoline for him at the truck stop. She goes on to say how he can pay her back all night long. Several people point and stare at them, then whisper amongst themselves. Garth charges the oil to his parents’ account, pays cash for the bulbs and Samantha buys him the Mini Maglite LED with her debit card. At the time of writing this, I had never been to Northeast Louisiana, in fact, the first time I had gone there was in mid-April of 2018. The hardware store reminded me of one I had worked at, in Houma, Louisiana, just in a more rural setting. It also reminded me of one in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Earlier in April of 2018, I went to a rural hardware store in Napoleonville, Louisiana, and purchased a Mini Maglite LED just like the one featured in this piece. I was trying to recreate and live out these stories in my own weird way, I guess. The piece concludes with Garth opening the car door for Samantha and then getting in the driver side. His mother calls him on the phone wanting to know why he and Samantha were acting lewd in the store, because of her saying he can pay her back all night long for the flashlight. She then commands them to hurry and come home because it is freezing there. This scene was based on a campaign speech I heard from Mike Huckabee where he stated that he lived in a small close-knit community and if he did anything “wrong” several people would have already called his parents to tell them, before he even got home. Also, I grew up in a small town and lived in another (Raceland, Louisiana and Mathews, Louisiana) where the people there are a bunch of nosy busybodies. I have yet to bring my girlfriend around these towns in public because I know that everyone there will see that I am not with my ex-wife, despite my divorce being final since October 11, 2018, and that there will indeed be a lot of pointing and staring. Quite a few phones would probably start ringing as well. The second piece of this begins with Garth driving Samantha back to his parents’ house and explaining to her that the people in the hardware store called his parents’ house about the comments she made about him paying her for the flashlight and that he is not angry with her and that he indeed will pay her back all night long, but she needs to be careful what she publically says and does in a small town. He comforts her by saying that she probably never went to a small town and didn’t realize that “everybody knows everybody”-a line from a certain Tracy Byrd song about living in the country and that small town people are busybodies. They soon arrive at Garth’s parents’ house to which he hands his mother the tank of oil then they go to his bedroom. Garth installs a new bulb in his flashlight then opens up the packaging of the Mini Maglite LED and installs the batteries and turns it on. He is impressed by the brightness and reminds Samantha that he will indeed pay her back all night long with tips and interest compounded nightly. His mother is secretly listening to the conversation, then barges in and wants to know from Samantha how long have they “been screwing out of wedlock.” Garth tells her she doesn’t have to answer that. His mother says for them to find another place then. Samantha breaks down and says, how they first had sex on Christmas Eve. Garth’s mother gets angry with him and accuses him of charming Samantha. Samantha said how he didn’t charm her, that he does write beautiful stories but she wanted him before that and he was the only one who didn’t reject her, despite her size. Garth’s mother then insists that if they will live like a married couple then they will have the responsibilities of a married couple. She orders Garth to help his dad on the farm and Samantha to help her cook and clean. She even forbids them from sharing a kiss before going to work. Garth sulks, walks to the barn and enters, turning on his new flashlight. His dad is impressed by the brightness. Garth says how Samantha bought it for him. His dad says she is a keeper and that he had been praying that he finds someone. Garth says how his mother isn’t happy about the relationship to which his dad says she just doesn’t like seeing him all grown up. Garth says how his mother wants him to work on the farm for as long as he stays there. His dad then asks him to help change the fluids in the tractor, then to organize the barn, as he used to when he was a child. He has said that it has gotten into disarray since he moved out. Garth’s dad is loosely based on Noah Calhoun’s dad from “The Notebook.” Garth spends the day organizing the barn until the sun goes down. Samantha helps Garth’s mom cook and clean then she also reads some of Garth’s older stories, falling even more in love with him. Finally, the day is done, Garth and his dad come in and are served green beans and seared chicken breasts. As they are eating dinner, Garth and Samantha get alerts on their phones that the evacuation order is lifted. Minutes later, the assistant store director calls Garth and tells him he has twenty-four hours to return to work or he will be terminated. Garth’s mother makes a comment about them going home and screwing. Garth’s dad walks them to the car and suggests they get married.

In 2017, I had rewritten most of the series, but also began working on another replacement offshoot, known as “A Disabled Electrician turned Writer” which was supposed to have similar themes as these stories but without so much controversy. I had slightly more success than my previous offshoot but haven’t written any more of it since 2018. Also in 2017, I began writing “Two Foamers in Love”, yet another offshoot replacement, but haven’t gotten much of it done.

On September 4, 2018, I wrote my latest piece of the series which actually is/was a prequel to the whole series. From Garth’s perspective, he is stocking salad dressing at “The Downtown Grocer” and how he hates his job and wishes at twenty-two he would have done so much more with his life. He thinks about his loneliness and how if someone loved him for him, he would love her immensely in return and treat her with the utmost reverence. He then thinks about his writing and tries to remember all of the inspirations coming to him in waves. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and he will be off, to which he plans to go to the park and write. He works late into the night, sweeping the warehouse and taking out the trash after the store is fronted and blocked. He gets off at 11:02, goes home and goes straight to bed not realizing that tomorrow he will meet the love of his life.
Meanwhile, from Samantha’s perspective, her mother just took several Xanaxes and then has crashed into a deep sleep. Samantha then goes into the kitchen and eats some canned fruit and drinks some milk. She says how she hates her life and how it isn’t like most seventeen-year-olds. She talks about her underactive thyroid gland and her weight problem and how she has liked many boys but they all reject her. She says how she wishes she could find a boy or even a young man who would love her for her and how she would treat him like a king. She says how she dropped out of school because she cannot get a ride to the private school she was attending because her mom is always loaded and because of her weight, she knows she would be tormented and harassed relentlessly if she began attending the public high school in her district. She contemplates suicide, by taking all of her mother’s Xanaxes at once. However, a voice in her head tells her not to give up. She goes into her room and watches “The Notebook” on demand. She watches until she can no longer keep her eyes open. Her mom then wakes up from a deep sleep and is belligerent. Samantha hears the voice again, saying just a little while longer. Her dad then comes in and argues with her mom all night long. Samantha goes to bed and dreams about those little encouraging voices, little does she know that tomorrow she will meet the love of her life…

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

My Interest in “Industrial” Pocket Sized Flashlights

I have had a special fascination with pocket sized “Industrial” flashlights since 1994 at age seven. I have since transitioned to fancy the “Tactical” flashlights more, but the “Industrial” flashlights will always have a place in my heart.

I am experiencing flu like symptoms right now, but need to meet up with my brother later this evening, so to pass the time, I am writing this.

In August of 1994, for doing well on a television interview, I was given several gifts, one of them was an Eveready Industrial 2 AA flashlight that I would carry on me almost everywhere I could. The model number I would later find out was Eveready IN-215.

This would seal the deal on my interest in pocket sized flashlights and was a factor in making me an early proponent of all things EDC.

The bulb blew out sometime in the latter part of 1995 and my mom instead of buying a new bulb, bought me an Eveready Value flashlight in March of 1996.

In late July of 1996, somewhat dissatisfied with my Eveready Value Lite, I purchased a 2AA Brinkmann flashlight. I to this day, do not remember the model number of it nor can I find any information whatsoever about it online. All I can do is give a physical description: I am almost sure it was made by Brinkmann. The main body was black and made of either ABS or PP or HDPE. I am almost sure it had a KPR104 bulb. The lens shroud was also plastic and made of glow in the dark material. To turn this flashlight on or off, one would turn the the lens shroud. I carried mine on me until about February of 1997, when, again, the bulb burned out. Afterwards, I had misplaced it. The last time I saw one of these being sold in stores was in November of 1998, around the time Hurricane Mitch ravaged Central America. The one sold in 1998 came with a fiber optic extension, but mine didn’t.

In June of 1998, I had purchased my first of many and what would become another rare flashlight, the Garrity Mini Rugged Lite. The model number was R300G. Unfortunately a few weeks later, the switch system became bent, so I exchanged it for another one which I had until it fell apart on me. I bought another one in October of 1999, which I had and EDCed until I misplaced it sometime in 2001. The final one of these I had purchased in a store was in June of 2004 at K-Mart on clearance. I had it for a few weeks, but then it was ruined by leaking batteries. I had suffered a mental breakdown between the time of purchasing it and discovering it ruined by leaking batteries. In 2007, I had purchased one directly from Garrity as New Old Stock, but it was different than the usual ones, so I gave it away. In 2011, I was mailed one by a fellow Candle Power Forums member, after he had found out my obsession with that said flashlight. I have since purchased three more on eBay, one I had to repair the switch.

My interest in flashlights was also beginning to take off in 1998, though I kept quiet about it because I was afraid of being harassed by my peers for having an uncommonly avid interest in flashlights.

In September of 1998, around the time of Hurricane Georges, I had purchased a 2 AA Rayovac Value Lite which I had until my late teens.

For Christmas of 1998, one of the gifts I had received was a pack of flashlights that were a Wal Mart house brand. One ran on a single AAA battery and the other ran on 2 AAA batteries. They were made probably of PP and used Krypton bi pin bulbs. Actually they function quite similarly to a Mini Maglite and a Maglite Solitaire and could be used as candles. I had them and even EDCed them on and off until 2001.

In January of 1999 I purchased both a General Electric 2 AA flashlight which was Navy Blue and Yellow and I believe it was geared for automotive use. I also purchased a Sam’s Choice (Wal Mart house brand) 2 AA flashlight which was an obvious knockoff of the Rayovac Industrials that were popular in the 1990s. These were misplaced over the course of growing up.

In March of 2000, I had purchased a Rayovac Industrial bundle pack which featured one 2 D and one 2 AA model sold together. These are now extremely rare as well, especially the 2 AA model. They closely resembled the Eveready Industrial line, unline the modern Rayovac Industrials. Also this 2 AA model came with a KPR104 or a K4 bulb instead of a bi pin bulb which is used on the modern 2 AA Rayovac Industrial flashlights. I wish I knew what happened to mine. As of the early to mid 2010s, there is a flashlight sold at some truck stops, which closely resembles the 1990s and early 2000s 2D Rayovac Industrial and is branded as Penzoil, but is a cheap knockoff.

In 2001 or 2002, my flashlight interest had waned a good bit, not to come back fully until 2005.

In the Summer of 2003, a new library was built which would many times feature interesting collections from local people. There was a collection of flashlights on display and me seeing this caused me to realize that there might be others out there who are interested in flashlights like I am. Prior to this, I was deeply ashamed of my flashlight interest and kept it quiet, in fear of harassment.

In January of 2004, I had just made seventeen and was seeking medical attention for my first of many ear infections. I was given a Cortisone shot and a round of oral antibiotics. While waiting for my prescription to be filled, I was looking around at the flashlights in Wal Mart and purchased a 2 AA Lumilite Industrial II flashlight with a push button switch. I did indeed EDC it for a while and I had it in my tool box until 2007 when it began to malfunction.

In the Summer of 2004, after suffering a mental breakdown, I was closely watched by my parents and didn’t get out much. I had spent many hours on the computer looking at flashlights. The interest was coming back, but slowly.

In October of 2004, Academy Sports and Outdoors opened a store in my area and I went shopping there. That day, I had seen many flashlights that I didn’t even know existed. This would be the beginning of the transition from my interest in pocket sized Industrial flashlights to pocket sized Tactical flashlights. However as I was an unemployed seventeen year old I couldn’t afford any of the tactical flashlights sold at Academy. I will say this though, Academy had a much better selection of flashlight in those days as did Target and even Wal Mart.

In January of 2005, I began to carry a knife on me, except for when I was in school.

Then on May 1, 2005, I was shopping at Wal Mart and saw a Garrity LED Aluminum flashlight. It resembled the Tactical flashlights I had long coveted, but was actually afforable! On May 5, 2005, I purchased it and from that day, I had pretty much carried a flashlight on my person ever since…

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 Texas Instruments TI-12 Math Explorer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He left Vandebilt Catholic High School after teaching me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I give it a rating of 5 stars!

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

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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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My Addiction to Soft Drinks

There are two things I can honestly say that I have an addiction to:

Flashlights and Soft Drinks.

Because of these two addictions, I have become well versed on subjects pertaining to flashlights and soft drinks.

I have written numerous times about flashlights, but this will be the first time I ever write anything of length about soft drinks.

I have been addicted to soft drinks since about 2006 at the age of nineteen.

It started when I worked for my local Winn Dixie and would haul buggies and groceries for the customers.

Many times I would get tips, which I would use to buy a can of Chek soft drink from the vending machine outside.

These drinks were only 25 Cents a can and I must say that Chek Soft drinks are better than some of the national brands, especially their Creme Soda.

Chek is also much better than Best Choice/Always Save, Shur Fine, Sam’s Choice, Clover Valley, and Faygo soft drinks. I cannot think of a store brand or budget brand of soft drink that is better than Chek. I really cannot understand why Winn Dixie does so poorly, maybe they should just specialize in their Chek soft drinks and become a full-time soda company. I really miss Winn Dixie and eschew the fact that there aren’t anymore immediately around here.

So at the age of nineteen is when my addiction to soft drinks began.

It’s strange that it didn’t start sooner because there were almost always soft drinks in the house growing up, mostly Coke, Cherry 7Up and a few Shur Fine sodas.

My soon to be ex-in-laws and my soon to be ex-wife all drink Coke like it is going out of style because they claim Pepsi is “too sweet.”

There is a basis behind that claim and it is that Pepsi, both American and Mexican is made with cane sugar, whereas American Coke is made with high fructose corn syrup. Mexican Coke is indeed made with cane sugar, but I find Mexican Pepsi has the superior taste over Mexican Coke. However, Pepsi’s sweetness is one of the attributes that give it the superior taste.

The Cola Wars have had some impact on me and I can now say with total confidence that I find Pepsi to be the superior cola, although there were times when I did drink Coke more frequently (I’ll elaborate on that in a bit.)

In my very early childhood, we were only allowed to drink soft drinks on the weekends.

My first favorite soft drink, from early childhood to age nine was Sprite.

My dad also frequently drank either Sprite or 7UP.

Then I had briefly preferred Dr. Pepper.

In August of 1996, at the age of nine and almost three quarters, I had discovered that Pepsi was the best tasting Cola because, at the time, it was indeed made with “Raw Louisiana Sugar.” Some of the raw sugar used in sweetening Pepsi was produced at the sugar factory in my own hometown of Raceland, Louisiana. American Coke since 1985 or so has been sweetened with HFCS. That’s two years before I was born. If American Coke would have continued using Cane Sugar, my Paw Paw could have very well not lost his foreman job at the sugar factory in Mathews, Louisiana, because Coke was planning to buy that factory, but the deal went south and the factory shut down. I’m not saying he’d still be employed at the age of ninety-three going on ninety-four, but he probably would have worked into his late eighties. He did indeed raise cattle and produce until the age of eighty-nine.

The Cola Wars were and are still responsible for some great moments in stupidity.

And in the Cola Wars, Royal Crown Cola is totally left out.

I find R.C. tastes definitely better than Coke and almost as good as Pepsi.

It’s also usually the cheapest of all name brand Colas, yet it isn’t widely available like Coke or Pepsi.

An example of great stupidity in the Cola Wars is at certain schools only Pepsi or Coke products can be sold on the campus. In schools with no uniforms, I’ve heard of a student getting suspended for wearing a shirt bearing the Pepsi logo at a school where only Coke products were allowed.

This could almost also be an example of capitalism turning into communism in my book.

Both the high school and community college I graduated from were only allowed to carry Coke products.

I was and am not happy about this.

I visited my high school in March of 2017 and purposely brought two twenty ounce bottles of Diet Pepsi on campus. Aside from a few laughs, I didn’t really spark any controversy.

This is why:
In my humble honest opinion, Pepsi Cola tastes better than Coca-Cola the same thing goes for both their Cherry and Vanilla variants, Tropicana Orange Juice tastes better than Minute Maid Orange Juice, Gatorade tastes much better than Powerade, Mug Root Beer tastes slightly better than Barqs Root Beer, although A&W Root Beer beats both of them.

The only time I prefer a Coke product over a Pepsi product is I prefer Diet Coke over Diet Pepsi, but diet soft drinks are even more detrimental to one’s health than regular soft drinks. However, Diet Coke is extremely addictive and it is my go to soft drink when I am trying to cut out the sugar. I had one high school teacher refer to it as “liquid crack.”

Coke is, unfortunately, more prevalent in my area, because of it’s better marketing campaign strategy, as I have stated before I find Pepsi products of a higher quality than Coke.

Believe it or not, in the Fall of 2006, I became a Coke drinker. This is because a 20 ounce Coke was available for only $1 in the vending machines at the community college I was attending.

Then in January of 2007, I met my soon to be ex-wife and her family, all Coke drinkers as I stated before.

In early 2008, I had a strong fascination with military technology. Also, my local video store was going out of business and they were selling off movies at bargain prices. I had purchased “Behind Enemy Lines” on DVD and it became one of my favorite movies. Well, it was one of my favorites, I still like the movie, but now I don’t care for the attempt to generate Islamic sympathy, especially since it was released just a few weeks after 9/11, and I definitely don’t like Owen Wilson’s brazenly excessive taking of God’s Name in vain. However, I am very fascinated by military technology, especially that from the 1980s and 1990s and that movie showed it very accurately and in great detail. There was the part when the Muslim refugees gave Owen Wilson’s character a twenty-ounce bottle of Coke because he was dehydrated from being on the run, to which he sipped it and said, “It’s good…it’s good.” Every time I drank Coke out of a twenty-ounce bottle, I would reenact that scene

I would remain a Coke drinker until about April of 2010 when I ate at a Kentucky Fried Chicken for the first time in about fifteen years and thoroughly enjoyed their Colonel’s Original Recipe Chicken. I washed it down with a Pepsi from their soda fountain tap.

What makes me angry is that now in order to eat at a KFC, I have to drive or get a ride and travel about 55 miles away to eat at the closest one.

Almost everyone around me prefers Coke over Pepsi and they do not care for KFC. I cannot understand why.

I know I am a Louisiana native and resident plus Louisiana definitely has a place in my heart, but durn it, sometimes I feel so out of place and it is more than just my food and drink preference.

Pepsi is carried at KFC, Pizza Hut, Applebee’s and other restaurants that I cannot think of right now. I prefer these places not only because they carry Pepsi but the food is better. KFC makes the best-fried chicken hands down, Pizza Hut is by far and definitely Superior to Dominio’s, Applebees is mostly better than Chili’s, except for a few dishes.

I will admit that while Pepsi goes well with KFC chicken, at the same time, Coke goes well with Popeye’s Chicken.

There is a local fried chicken establishment in my area known as Sunrise Fried Chicken and Seafood. I absolutely enjoy their chicken even though people look at me like I am crazy when I say so. Their chicken pieces are so big, tender and juicy, the breading is perfectly crispy and even though they aren’t spiced heavily as other fried chicken establishments the chicken still has a pretty good flavor. It really hits the spot, at least for me. Sunrise had historically carried Pepsi products for years but now, unfortunately, they carry Coke products. This is a huge mistake in my opinion, but no one [important enough] will listen to me. Sunrise Chicken tastes great with a Pepsi, not so much with a Coke. Sunrise also used to make fairly decent white beans and they even sold Jalapeno peppers, but now they no longer sell the white beans. They still sell red beans, though. I think the company was in dire financial straits and whoever bought them out made those changes. I plan to write a piece exclusively about Sunrise Fried Chicken and Seafood but only those from my area would fully appreciate it, even though some would still look at me like I am crazy. What would really be nice is if there would be a fried chicken that was the size of Sunrise pieces and had the blend of herbs and spices Colonel Sanders used.

Eleven years prior to me writing this piece, which I am writing in July of 2018, I had drunk a Wild Cherry Pepsi for the first time. I had no idea it would become my favorite soft drink, years later. I was a Coke drinker at the time in July 2007, but for whatever reason, I had some change on me and was shopping on foot on MLK Boulevard in Bayou Cane (Houma), Louisiana. I was at Wal Mart and purchased a can of Wild Cherry Pepsi from the vending machine. I guess I was impressed by the taste because I remember getting angry at the Radio Shack employees for making me get rid of my drink while shopping in their store. I didn’t show my anger towards them, because I was a loyal Radio Shack customer, however, I definitely vented to my then girlfriend and later my family members.

I cannot remember when I started to drink it on the regular, but now in 2018 and since about 2016, I cannot go more than a few days without drinking Wild Cherry Pepsi and be in any comfort or ease. Not only that, I find that drinking it can cure my writer’s block and it has several times. I drank a good bit of it prior to writing this piece, actually.

If there is no Wild Cherry Pepsi immediately available, I will drink other soft drinks. Usually, it begins with me muttering to myself “I need a [soft] drink.” “Soft” is in brackets because I usually just say, “I need a drink.” However, people have assumed and still do assume that I want alcohol when they overhear me mutter that statement. I do have the potential to become addicted to alcohol, but right now I am just addicted to soft drinks and aside from hindering my total weight loss, the addiction is beneficial such as helping me write and slightly boosting my mood, without the motor function impairment and other problems that consumption of alcohol ultimately causes.

For now, my addiction to soft drinks is generally harmless, but I’ve been told by a competent physician that sugar is equally addictive as Cocaine. Should I become diabetic, I’ll have to quit drinking soft drinks altogether.

On a side note:
I’ve only smoked once in my life and I didn’t finish the one cigarette I smoked. However, I do have dreams that I am smoking and thoroughly enjoying it.

There was a guy I worked with who rolled his own smokes. He would carry his tobacco and papers on him and whenever he had a chance would roll one up and smoke it.

I began to want a cigarette while seeing him do that.

However, I learned to keep a bag of orange slices or cherry slices candies on me and every time I see him roll and light up, I would grab a piece of candy from my pocket and eat one.

Earlier today, I discovered another one of those cheap candies and that is Cherry Sours. I’m going to start carrying those on me as well.

Now this concludes my piece because I need a [soft] drink.

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