My Gun Perspective

I was 14 and worked at Little Caesars in Cary. The city was on Forbes best and safest city to live in that year, and ridiculously high up there; at least to me it seemed. I had finished all my closing duties and was sitting on the cutting tables waiting for 10:30. That was closing time. Only one other person was with me, the manager, she was in her 40’s, and she was involved with paperwork.

Probably around 10, I saw two guys, all in black, walk by the store quickly, left to right; I’ll never forget it. They didn’t have masks on yet. When they ran back around the corner, and straight into the store, they were in black from head-to-toe. I remembered they were both young and white.

One stood just after entering pointing a gun at my face, the other jumped the counter and made for the register, but it had already been cleared of all but a few bucks. Something happened in those moments though that completely changed my life; something that told me something about myself. I heard his keys hit the floor when he jumped the counter. They had their driver park behind the store, and took the car keys; they didn’t trust she would remain, I suppose.

I was present at 14. I already knew what I would do if I was alive when they exited that store. Can you imagine? The athletic fella was unhappy the register was near-empty and asked for the safe to be opened, but we told him we’d already made the deposit, but we’d open it. He panicked. I could see it in his face he knew he had to get out. He was terrified. Then he scared us to death. He made Robin and I lie face down on the floor. He put that pistol in the back of my head and shoved it a bit. I remember my teeth hitting the floor lightly. He wasn’t so tough after all. But I’ll never forget that either. Then, he said, “if either one of you get up, I’ll kill both of you” then he ran out like a coward.

As God is my witness, I followed his coward ass out, and locked that door behind him, without thought, I just knew I had to. As I turned to get back to the phones, Robin was up and dialing 911, then he ran back up pointing the gun at me through the door as I was pivoting. I ran back behind the door to the back area and waited agonizing minutes for police to respond. It took a while too.

I decided after that I’d never be in that position again if I could help it. I know first hand it’s on you in these types of situations, and it always will be. Arming yourself can be especially empowering after living through something like that, of this I can assure you. It will change the way you view the world, and it will remove fear entirely.. After training, or just life experience with a gun, it becomes, ironically enough, just like your car, you become one with it and can use it safely without much situational thinking at all. However, I choose not to carry unless I’m going somewhere I have had issues with in the past. I could tell another story about confronting 9 illegal fish netters on the Cape Fear by myself last year, and that a good buddy, spent over an hour with me a few days later, picking up the nails and screws they dumped in the gravel parking area at Buckhorn in response, after I called them out, gun on my hip. You see there is no cell service down there…at all.

I said all that to say this…

A reality we seem to be begging for.,,,

‘Hello young man, I know you’d like to go to college, but we have a disagreement in this country over here, so take these guns and kill who we say kill, when we say kill, as many as we say kill. Then come home, if you can, and turn in your guns. You aren’t old enough to protect yourself and we obviously can’t or won’t protect you either. Do try to fit back in, ok?’

Or,

You drive up to the school to pick up your child, or children. You hear gunshots. You observe multiple men, dressed in black, flak jackets, heavily armed posted up behind a building, seemingly unable, or again, unwilling, to respond, to protect you and your children. You hear more gunshots. But all you have is a phone.

Maybe it isn’t the school, or the church, or the mall; the location is irrelevant. And I don’t know what people are seeing or thinking, because I’ve seen all the news outlets telling us the multiple grotesque and frankly insulting failures at every level by our authorities, and these catastrophic failures have been observed now at shooting after shooting after shooting. And these reports seem to have no political polarity. They’re just brutally honest. Yet we scream for our rights to be taken.

I’ll tell everyone of you who reads this plain out. You cannot legislate away hatred or greed or envy. And you can make all the restrictions on gun owners you want, hell, let’s say we could snap our fingers and every gun and bullet on earth disappears (which will not happen with any laws or bans) I can assure you corrupted and hateful people will still kill, they will still kill many and they will, I have no doubt, invent something far deadlier than a gun in short order.

I hope we all carefully consider what we’re asking for.

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Revisit Thoreau

I can say that for me, there is no better remedy available to restore some spirit, than to revisit some Thoreau.

I have recently been re-reading ‘The Norton Book of Nature Writing’ and had come upon E.B. White’s ideas on Thoreau’s state of mind and drive, during the period he lived and wrote at Walden Pond. White’s viewpoint, which I could not argue in the slightest, is that Thoreau was trying to drive home the point of impermanence to men; and whether Walden was written for young men, or for all men for different reasons in their lives, the underlying message could not be more evident and pertinent to all times and societies. He, however haphazardly or disconnected with the reality of monetary constraints to his peers at the time, seemed to sincerely attempt to reconcile true freedom with the very real economic means of his fellow citizens during the period of Walden’s writing.

“With a little more deliberation in the choice of their pursuits, all men would perhaps become essentially students and observers, for certainly their nature and destiny are interesting to all alike. In accumulating property for ourselves or our posterity, in founding a family or a state, or acquiring fame even, we are mortal; but in dealing with truth we are immortal, and need fear no change nor accident. The oldest Egyptian or Hindoo philosopher raised a corner of the veil from the statue of the divinity; and still the trembling robe remains raised, and I gaze upon as fresh a glory as he did, since it was I in him that was then so bold, and it is he in me that now reviews the vision. No dust has settled on that robe; no time has elapsed since that divinity was revealed. That time which we really improve, or which is improvable, is neither past, present, nor future.”

These words take many times to read over, and apparently many different life experiences to reconcile.

“There has been much guessing as to why he went to the pond. To set it down to escapism is, of course, to misconstrue what happened. Henry went forth to battle when he took to the woods, and Walden is the report of a man torn by two powerful and opposing drives – the desire to enjoy the world (and not be derailed by a mosquito wing) and the urge to set the world straight. One cannot join these two successfully, but sometimes, in rare cases, something good or even great results from the attempt of the tormented spirit to reconcile them….” E.B. White

My earliest references to Thoreau in my own writings have been to credit him with his influence on my activities (in the sense of recognizing the beauty in just ‘being there’ he constantly drove home): Thoreau was steadfast in his admonishment of those who went to the woods or the wild to partake in a particular activity, yet erroneously forget to enjoy the solitude of the forest, or the water, or the mountains. I can only assure my readers that I will do my sincere best to capture both of these unique and seemingly predestined defeated tasks as honestly as I can, regardless of the alien feeling of those who know the truth of an empathetic lifetime.

“On one occasion he went to the [Harvard] University Library to procure some books. The librarian refused to lend them. Mr. Thoreau repaired to the President, who stated to him the rules and usages, which permitted the loan of books to resident graduates, to clergymen who were alumni, and to some other residents within a circle of ten miles radius from the College. Mr. Thoreau explained to the President that the railroad had destroyed the old scale of distances, — that the library was useless, yes, and President and College useless, on the terms of his rules, — that the one benefit he owed to the College was its library, — that, at this moment, not only his want of books was imperative, but he wanted a large number of books, and assured him that he, Thoreau, and not the librarian, was the proper custodian of these. In short, the President found the petitioner so formidable, and the rules getting to look so ridiculous, that he ended by giving him a privilege which in his hands proved unlimited thereafter.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Never again should we allow our history, for so many, to be constrained by a collection of encyclopedia, no wider than the length of an average man’s arm.

Muhammad Ali – A True Lion

Muhammad Ali taught a nation to value itself, question what needed questioning, and what a true fighter looked and acted like.

He was the most influential athlete in our nation’s history and will likely forever have no equal.

“I ain’t draft dodging. I ain’t burning no flag. I ain’t running to Canada. I’m staying right here. You want to send me to jail? Fine, you go right ahead. I’ve been in jail for 400 years. I could be there for 4 or 5 more, but I ain’t going no 10,000 miles to help murder and kill other poor people. If I want to die, I’ll die right here, right now, fighting you, if I want to die. You my enemy, not no Chinese, no vietcong, no Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice.”

 

 

 

When an Oligarchy Trembles…

The people win.

Establishment members and supporters on both sides of the aisle have been frantically attempting to keep the status-quo embedded in this country by trying to discredit, demonize and defeat Donald Trump. You would think with all the sound bytes they’ve been given it would be a simple task.

Yet Super Tuesday showed that Trump is here to stay.

This piece will focus on Trump because he is the front-runner. But I submit that Sanders is doing much the same with his campaign. However, since he is not beating Clinton he has not become the focus of such wrath. Make no mistake, were he (Sanders) to have the success Trump has been afforded, the corporate owned media would be attempting to destroy him just the same.

So why is the establishment trembling in loss? Why are traditional news outlets such as Fox and CNN, with often diametrically opposed viewpoints on seemingly all issues seeming to unite to beat Trump?

Because they see someone who is finally telling the dirty and inconvenient truths in broad daylight. And this exposes the media for what it has become…a mouthpiece for giant corporations.

True, Trump admits freely and openly and constantly that he has given to both sides of the aisle and then gets what he wants in return (as far as favorable legislation for his many business interests), he makes products over seas, he has used illegal labor, and says (at times) outlandish things. He has made bigoted remarks and at times has been racially divisive. But who hasn’t in government?

The one difference; the reason he will win not only the republican nomination, but the general election in an historical landslide; is that he (whether he’s being honest or not about his intentions, or being above the take) has allowed a large portion of this populace, who truly believe our government is not only corrupt, but seemingly only catering to the extremely wealthy, to speak their minds absent of fear, openly, and without the stigma of being a “tin-foil hat”.

Before Trump, no one, not a man or woman, while running for the presidency of the United States, has ever stood in front of hundreds and thousands of people and seemed to have an awakening, or a conscience; leading to such brutal and much needed honesty in this country; repeatedly and without fear of consequences or retribution. Perhaps if Elizabeth Warren were to run, she would say many of the same things (without the roughness or frankness of a brute however). If Trump’s apparent epiphany is real…it’s beautiful. If not…it’s at least brilliant; in a ‘let’s end the Bretton Woods system and base our currency on other countries natural resources kind of way’. This hint should not need links or such lengthy explanations to Americans to be understood, the petro-dollar system should be understood intrinsically by our populace; it should, in fact, be fifth grade education in this country. But that would lead to far different foreign policy decisions, and believe it or not, to America still being seen as the undeniable beacon of hope in this world.

True, most of his average supporters do not understand the real definition of either the petro-dollar system or diplomacy. But they don’t need to. They are real, hard-working Americans who have smelled something fishy for far too long now. When lies become so apparent because our leaders answers to simple questions become oral, legal documents (not understood by even the most educated lawyers) the people smell rotten fish flesh in the kitchen.

The baby boomers, or plainly stated; those who have come before generation X, have lost touch with reality in this country. They think the old adage which roughly states ‘work hard and you’ll be a success’ is still scripture. They don’t see that the majority of those who are in the working class in this country are barely getting by, they don’t see that most families live check to check, or simply allow themselves to be subsidized by their government. They don’t admit the middle class is disappearing or that the lower class is growing. They don’t want to see it…the establishment doesn’t want them to see it (because it would lead to their immediate dismissal)…so they don’t. Well not only does Trump, or Bernie Sanders for that matter, understand these truths, they are both exposing them.

They are exposing foreign policy mistakes, trade-agreement mistakes, leadership decision mistakes, and large-scale corruption. And they are doing it daily in front of crowds that absolutely dwarf any that their competitors can draw. Both men are drawing out those who have never exercised their 15th amendment right (or the later 19th amendment right guaranteeing women the right to vote) and even those who have not voted in a long, long time.

If anything good comes from this election, regardless of who is ultimately elected president; it will be the awakening of an enormous and unstoppable giant…the American working class. When eyes are opened, and followers become leaders; the oligarchy just might die, and along with it the relics of a 50 year period in this country we should never forget.

I write this not to support Trump for president, because I have no way to know if he’s being genuine or has simply tapped into an underlying current in this country to win an election and further flatter himself. But on the chance, the slim and possible chance this man has seen what he has taken advantage of for so long; and not liked it; and that he just might want to truly upend the status-quo and actually cater to the ‘we the people’ for a change; I commend him, along with Bernie Sanders, for causing a large portion of this citizenry to pay attention for the first time, in a long time with their eyes open.

 

How To Cure Pink Eye with Honey

So I started feeling the burn in the outer corner of my left eye two nights ago…

It wasn’t long and I felt the itching. It quickly moved into both eyes, but I still didn’t know what was up. Never had pink eye before.

I awoke in the middle of the night with burning eyes and they were nearly crusted shut.

Google to the rescue.

I hate going to doctors and I hate paying them ridiculous fees even more. So I quickly found multiple websites, along with question and answer forums discussing the medicinal uses of pure or organic honey. There were hundreds of testimonials. Turns out honey is fantastic for treating burns and wounds among a plethora of other things. It’s been used since the time of the ancient Egyptians. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and in addition has antimicrobial properties as well. Also hundreds of thousands of people around the world have re-learned that honey seems to even be better than traditional antibiotic creams when it comes to treating burns.

But you won’t hear that from your doctor. In fact, he or she would probably laugh at you.

So I took in a good deal of the information and decided the following morning to act on it. I went to the grocery store and purchased one little jar of organic honey and a gallon of distilled water. The trick seems to be to get the simplest and purest of ingredients – imagine that. You mean we can cure ailments with simple natural ingredients instead of pumping our bodies full of chemicals? And since I didn’t know where to raid a bee hive in January; I opted for organic honey.

(Now there is one piece of information that is important to note: Infants or babies, up until their first birthday, should not be given honey as it has been proven to hold bacteria that can cause botulism. Their digestive systems cannot deal with it yet. But after their first birthday its apparently fine.)

The recipe is very simple. Simply dissolve a quarter teaspoon of honey into a quarter cup of warm water. (It has to be warm to get the honey to dilute – I just microwaved the water for 8 seconds in a coffee mug). Your supposed to use an eye dropper but lacking that piece of equipment, I just used a little teaspoon and poured a tiny amount of the solution into each eye. I did this 5 times Sunday and once before going to work this morning. I didn’t wake up last night with any crusting and about halfway through the day today I realized my eyes weren’t burning or itching. When I got home I noted the redness was all but gone as well. I’ll continue to use the solution for a few more days to be sure, but for all intents and purposes the pink eye is gone.

So there you have it folks. Just another reason I say we have access to more information in the palm of our hands than ever before in existence, we just have to decide to seek it, rather than using it to play games or worse.

Now I spent $6 dollars on the honey and water at the grocery store, and the pink eye has all but disappeared in less than 48 hours. How much money do you think my doctor would have charged me to identify and cure this?

 

Crabgrass, Bermuda Grass & Corruption

Crabgrass and Bermuda are often described as evil weeds that invade the perfect fescue yards of suburbia.

These grasses infiltrate fescue lawns and even branch out into foundation beds containing shrubs and annuals. Even if the heady green-thumbed property owner thinks to edge his or her beds with stone or other materials, these grasses can and will crawl over and under such obstructions and cause havoc in short order.

Most gardeners dread the thought of dealing with these grasses; especially bermuda; often confused with crabgrass. The roots of bermuda spread out along the many different off-shoots, which run shallow and also at moderate depths under the soil. These strands are very stubborn, as many a homeowner will attest.

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These weeds, like many embedded problems in our world, are very difficult to pull or eradicate, and homeowners often exhaust themselves if they do not have the proper tool to deal with such problems; like a trowel. It’s really very simple. Just use the trowel to loosen the dirt around the weed and the roots come out easily. But if you do not use the tool, the weeds are difficult, and you will tire of the task quickly; in addition if all the roots are not removed the grass will come back in short order.

Sound familiar?

One thing to watch out for: fire ants often inhabit the earth around bermuda and you will see the sub-surface colonies unearthed as you work the soil with the trowel. Do not despair; these critters are nasty and will bite if you don’t let them alone a few moments. But you will quickly note that they are greedy little miscreants; working to save their hidden treasures. They will scatter and you can go back to work quickly after they have exposed themselves for what they are. Nothing more than covetous biting hindrances; easily dealt with once they have been exposed to the light.

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Now to the point.

I was first told of the need to work this particular property; where I was again today, by a few long time customers and close friends. The home and surrounding property is a rental they own. They had received a letter, a very harassing letter, in which a neighbor had actually taken the time to research one of the owners in great detail. He had determined the number of law degrees previously attained by my client, he had questioned his work ethic, his wife’s occupation and even tried to question me in excess on my first visit to the property. He was bordering on stalking; in a passive-aggressive way of course.

Now in addition; you must know that I have many clients in this particular area, and I have often told each of them that it’s a shame they need me. You see they already pay a great deal of money monthly for a landscaping service. But this service only mows the grass as needed in spring and summer and shears the shrubs twice a year. They also spray a few chemicals and aerate as well as seed the grass once a year, and finally sprinkle a thin amount of mulch; also once a year. All of these people have historically received at least one of these harassing letters from the homeowners board each year.

Now I will not go into how incompetent the service is; the service the homeowners board appoints, not the actual homeowners choice. I could go on in great detail about how they shear off the buds of blooming evergreens every year, how they never trim the walkways or foundation beds after they mow, or how they sling grass seed into the foundation plantings, etc.

But what I will discuss is this: Those that move here must sign a lengthy agreement (interestingly an agreement my clients and I have utilized to help the owners of these homes) where they agree to pay this service a hefty sum. But the devil is in the details – as usual.

You see the service does not work the beds at all. The lawns are supposed to be comprised of fescue. However, since the service is incompetent, only crabgrass and bermuda are present. And these irritants, of course, overrun the beds and plague my customers. Now these people are all retirees, average ages are 65 – 85. Should they be expected to pay a fee to have a landscaping service that only does half of what any respectable maintenance landscaping crew should be expected to do?

Of course not.

But the service and the homeowners board are all-too quick to refer these people, the people that already pay a monthly fee for landscaping and maintenance, to another company that will come in and charge them another ridiculous fee to do the rest of the work the first service should already be doing. And the homeowners board members also walk around the neighborhood daily with clipboards to write down any violations, as if the neighbors were complaining (I’ve watched them while I’ve worked there) only to send harassing letters to the tenants.

Now this finally came to a head with me because (back to the original story and clients) the homeowners board did not research my clients enough. The people they sent a harassing letter to are both nearly immobile and cannot do any manual labor. I work for them weekly at their private residence as well. So instead of a simple phone call or one letter that wasn’t harassing in nature, simply asking for a reason the work (which my clients thought was being done by the service they were already paying) wasn’t done; they took the time to research their work history and sent a very spooky and invasive letter to them. Interestingly enough, these board members could have done the work in less time than it likely took to get the information they researched, and then had the letter drafted and awaited a response from.

So I went and remedied the problems. And I will not bore you with the details of how I was continually bothered by multiple total strangers in the area trying to tell me what to do while I worked. Except that it ultimately factored in, along with the improper care of the lawns by the locale’s appointed landscaping service.

You see in one of the tiny print details in the needlessly lengthy agreement the tenants of this area must sign there lies a useful sentence. It reads basically that the tenants must not in any way bother the workers of the service. Because they might actually have something important to tell the laborers who are taking such poor care of their property.

But since my client has many law degrees and I have a mind fit for upending corruption, even at this obvious grass-roots level hahaha; we decided to take them on. We decided they should take better care of the lawns, so the resident’s beds aren’t overrun by weeds and grasses that shouldn’t be in the lawns in the first place. They shouldn’t have named fescue as the grass in the lawns in their agreement; tisk, tisk.

In addition, we demanded they not bother any of the additional workers whom the residents have to hire to work their properties; since they seem to think it so important, and in their best interests when it comes to the employees the service they have acquired to work the grounds in question. And I am happy to report it’s all working nicely. The lawns have been aerated and reseeded with fescue, the beds are in much better shape, my customers and the surrounding neighbors have much less of a need for additional workers and the letters have ceased; at least for now. I was also not bothered in the slightest today while I worked there, even as the same people who constantly badgered me several weeks ago were indeed present and outdoors.

Imagine that.

And if this will ultimately mean I have to find customers outside of this area; that will be easy enough, and I will be very happy to do so. The referrals I have already received from the many customers I have there, along with the friendships that resulted in our business together are far more than I had ever expected before I took the first job there.

You see, you can upend conspiring fools, even with their own literature.

Fear is Irrelevant

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So many would just say “kill the damn snake”

I was riding along today in one of the neighborhoods I work in, when I noticed the copperhead in the road. I got out because these sightings are in fact rare; at least when compared to sightings of non-venomous snakes. So many people think every snake they see is a copperhead or a water moccasin in the southeast…again ridiculous, so they kill them; or get themselves bitten for their ignorance.

For the most part, I try to not to judge people with children or pets who kill actual venomous snakes on their property; I understand. But all too often I see, especially on social networking sites, where people have killed harmless snakes, snakes that in fact are very beneficial to your property; simply out of ignorance and fear.

Snakes such as black snakes, ring necks, racers or hognose specimens, while being non-venomous, cut down on rodent populations or even other pests which in fact can spread disease. At the same time snakes do not transmit diseases to humans. Even the salmonella thing is a myth for the most part. Snakes cannot transmit salmonella through a bite. However, any egg-laying animal; bird, snake, turtle or chicken can have salmonella germs on their bodies. So even though this is rare, it is best to wash your hands thoroughly after handling any of these creatures; that is if you aren’t gripped with fear because you were taught to be afraid by other fearful people.

My x-wife’s family was horribly afraid of snakes. But as I helped to raise her little girl, I decided I wouldn’t allow that to happen to her. We had ribbon snakes, ball pythons, red-tailed boa constrictors and even many native species in the house, at different times of course; well kinda (I was a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with the state of NC at the time). Alyssa and I really enjoyed snakes and lizards and I recall her mother loosening up quite a bit as the years passed and she saw her little girl exhibiting no fear of snakes whatsoever. You see she was taught NOT to fear something she didn’t understand; and instead she was taught to understand it, which led to the absence of fear.

This is mighty empowering when it comes to raising a child. But when it is applied throughout our lives, it is more important than we can possibly foresee.

The absence of knowledge, which all too often leads directly to fear, transcends the issue of fearing spiders and snakes as children; and can transform into fearing your neighbors and fellow citizens later in life; because of their color, or their religion, or the food they consume, or their traditions. This leads to turning away from people that could well be great friends; and when we are not careful, and we allow the proverbial mole hill to become a mountain, it can lead to far worse.

This makes it so easy for us to be comfortable with killing that which we do not understand.

So instead of killing this gorgeous creature today, I grabbed a lengthy branch from the side of the road and shooed the venomous creature into the woods where it would be safe, and no one would come along and possibly get themselves bitten trying to kill it. I figured it could find somewhere safer to thermo-regulate.

Or perhaps I sent it directly into the line-of-sight of a hungry raptor. Who knows? But one thing is for sure. It was an awesome specimen and I enjoyed at least feeling like I had done the right thing.

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