The Case Against Visiting Meemaw’s Church for Easter

Look, we get it.  For decades, meemaw—or whatever we call our grandmother—has been who we visit on Easter weekend.  We’ve done this for so long that it’s become a tradition.  Some traditions are meant to be broken though, and this is one of those traditions.

No one is going as far as saying not visit meemaw at all.  That would be harsh.  We love meemaw, and meemaw loves us.  We do, however, need to avoid visiting meemaw’s church for Easter service or Resurrection service.

With 82 percent of Alabamians believing in God with absolute certainty (though not necessarily in a church), it’s imperative for us to participate in God’s instructions for us: “go and make disciples of all nations.”

Well, last we checked, meemaw’s church out in the rural countryside was not the most diverse sitting in the world, and it’s definitely not inviting to people from all nations of the world.  And if we’re honest, meemaw’s church isn’t even inviting to every person in Alabama.

With 56 percent of American adults saying they’d accept information about a local church from a friend or neighbor,  regular local churchgoers can’t waste this time of the year going to meemaw’s church.

Easter season is the most fertile opportunity for newcomers to visit a local church, and those newcomers will have a very bad taste in their mouths if they visit church and don’t see any familiar faces.  Those newcomers may not trust an invitation ever again after they have been left behind in favor of meemaw’s church.

So how can Christians visit meemaw out in the country and be present for their friends and neighbors in the city? A little elbow grease and a good calendar will do the trick.  The two main tips are below:

Attend Regular Church for Easter Service

Keep your normal routine for Easter Sunday.  This way if friends and neighbors have been invited, they will be comforted by seeing your familiar face in the crowd.  No one enjoys going to a brand new place with brand new people without a little support.

Drive Out to Meemaw’s After Church

Be careful.  Don’t just jet out of church as soon as service is over.  Take your friends and neighbors out for lunch.  Their comfort is the most important thing this weekend, not yours.  And relax.  Meemaw will still be happy to see you after lunch.  In fact, she will probably have a second lunch plate ready and prepared for your arrival.  Sounds like a win-win.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

5 Toys Bought on Black Friday That Don’t Work by Easter

If you were as oblivious as I was as a kid, you didn’t really understand the connection between Black Friday and the number of toys under the Christmas tree from Santa Claus.  But by 8 years old (*cough* 12 years old *cough*), the gig was up.  Not only did you understand, but you were helping your folks find the best discounts in town.  As knowledgeable as you had become though, you were still powerless to stop the plight of toy deterioration.  It wreaked havoc every year without mercy, but we’re grown-ups now and can put an end to this madness.

So to continue my 30th birthday blog-a-thon and help us all help ourselves, here is my list of the 5 toys that are bought on Black Friday but don’t work by Easter.

No. 1 – Toy Jeeps

Whether it was a Barbie Jeep or a Tonka Truck, these miniature vehicles were the talk of the neighborhood—until about St. Patrick’s Day.  That’s when the batteries would die.  For some strange reason, adults would never take the effort to buy a new battery or recharge the existing one.  So by the time Easter arrives, kids are having to take turns pushing and driving the car.  By the Fourth of July, the car is a bonafide yard ornament.  The only thing is does at this point is grow algae and mushrooms.

barbie-jeep

No. 2 – Video Game Cartridges / Discs

I never had this problem at my house because I knew if I broke something no one was gonna buy me a new one.  But at other kids’ houses, I witnessed this all the time.  When we had cartridges, kids would get food and other junk in the games, and the cartridges wouldn’t work.  In later years when we had discs, the discs would always be scratched up and completely unplayable.

In fact, on that note, I let one friend borrow a game from me once (“NFL Blitz 2000” on Playstation).  He returned it with the case broken, the owner’s manual missing, and the disc scratched up.  Luckily the disc still worked, but I learned a valuable: never loan anything valuable to friends if you’ll be mad if they lose it or damage it.

No. 3 – Tape Players / CD Players

I’m not talking about the good ones that your parents would have.  I’m talking about the cheap knockoff Walkman or Discman that you got for Christmas.  No matter what you did, the mechanisms in your tape player would eventually eat up a cassette tape that you spent hours recording radio music to.  No matter what you did, your CD player would go haywire for no apparent reason.  Of course, neither of these two incidents would ever happen within the 90-day warranty.  They’d always happen a few months afterwards.

No. 4 – Barbie Dolls / Action Figures

Have you ever seen a decapitated Barbie?  I have.  And it’s not a pretty sight.  Sure, when your G.I. Joe action figure’s arm gets eaten by the family dog, you can still make that toy disability work within your imagination.  Unfortunately, your sister or your cousin’s decapitated Barbie just leaves you somewhat uncomfortable.  It’s even worse if Barbie’s head is still around and the hair has been trimmed to the scalp.  Yikes.

screws-rusty-airborne-1024x576

No. 5 – YoYo

I don’t know why, but such a simple toy always had a lot of problems.  Most of the problems came from poor maintenance and harsh care by the kid who owned the yoyo (i.e. not oiling the metal in the yoyo).  A tiny sliver of the problems came from parents who bought dreadfully cheap yoyos.

Did I miss anything?  Drop a comment below and share this post on your social media outlets.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

There Are Only 3 Types of Homeowner Personalities

Every neighborhood has them.  Every friend group has them.  They’re everywhere like gnats in the summer time.  But can you quickly identify the three types of homeowner personalities if you encountered them? Have no fear.  The answers are here.

The Nit Picker Personality

NaggingThis is your former roommate.  Don’t you remember him?  He was always complaining about how your apartment was not as good as someone else’s.  It was quite annoying while you were in a lease together, but now you’re stuck together in the same poker group.

Things haven’t changed too much except the item of ridicule isn’t an apartment anymore—it’s a house.  Ironically, your old buddy is in the house of his dreams—from two months ago.  Ever since moving into the house, he hasn’t said a positive word about the place.

End Result: He will take the negative-equity hit and move into a “better” house.

The Delusional Personality

DenialThis is the lady that sits next to you at work.  She and her husband live in a house with a mortgage that consumes way too much of their monthly take-home pay.  And that’s not including electricity, maintenance, and other house-related things that cost money.

Unfortunately, they won’t sell the house because they are holding on to hope the husband will get another high-paying job again.  He got laid off 3 years ago and has never really fully-recovered.  Don’t worry though.  That doesn’t keep them from using debt to give off the impression that everything is still okay.  After all, the kids are in amazing school district where they are now.

End Result: She will eventually be punished with a foreclosure.  To make matters worse, her husband cheated on her with a neighbor down the street.

The Contented Personality

contentmentThis personality is rare.  It is so rare and silent that you simply may not have noticed it.  The person is the assistant manager of your favorite local fast food restaurant.  In fact, he or she comes home smelling like fries every single day.

Despite the smells, this person makes the best of every situation.  He or she may not have all the perks imaginable, but that doesn’t stop creativity from happening.  He or she is quietly becoming a millionaire right in front of your eyes.

End Result: This person will not move very often, but when he or she does move, it’s with a purpose.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

Choose Your Coworkers Wisely

Coworkers can be a blessing, or they can be a curse.   Nothing is more crucial than having the right mix of people around you to make your day more productive and more fulfilling.  But how do you make sure your coworkers are a blessing and not a curse?

Well, if you’re going to spend over 50 percent of your waking day at a workplace, you really want to vet your potential coworkers as much as possible before you start working with them.  Once you accept a job offer or a department transfer, you’re often stuck with your decision for an extended period of time.

So talk to potential workers, scan online reviews, read about the company culture, and ask your potential boss as many questions as possible.  If you do all of those things and still have a warm and fuzzy feeling, then you should feel pretty comfortable about signing the dotted line on a job offer.

From there, all you can do is pray and hope for the best.

This post was previously written by Ben on LinkedIn.

Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Baxter

Types-People-You-Work

How to Get 157 FREE Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches per Year

The average American throws away between $28 and $43 in the form of food waste each month.  While that may not seem like much, it adds up over a yearly timeframe.  Using 40 dollars as a reference point, we end up unnecessarily chunking $480 into the trash every year.  Surely, we can find other ways to use that money more effectively.   Please see the following:

An Extra $480 per Year Could Buy…

What some other things could you buy with an extra $480 per year?

Chick-Fil-A

The ABLE Act: Please Write Your Legislator

Normally I wouldn’t do this, but I urge you to write your state senator and state representative and ask them to support the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.  It is legislation that directly supports parents and relatives of children with special needs.  It has already been passed at the national level but needs to pass at the state level to be fully implemented.

If you are not aware, in December 2014, the US Congress created subsection (f) of  Section 529 of  the Internal Revenue Code to allow the ABLE Act to follow all the requirements and regulations of a traditional 529 qualified tuition program.  This simply means that parents or relatives can contribute $13,000 yearly toward a child with special needs and that money can grow tax-free and be withdrawn tax-free for assistive technology, health expenses, transportation expenses, education expenses, and many other needs.

In addition, funds from tradition 529 plans can rollover to ABLE plans and vice versa.  For instance, if your gifted child gets into a car accident at 16 years and suffers severe brain damage, you will not be penalized for the money you saved for the college expenses.  If the ABLE Act passes, you will be able to use those funds to help make your child’s disabled life a little more comfortable.  Or you may have a child that is mentally capable but physically challenged.  Now you can pay for college as well as for mobility assistance.  And it’s all tax-free.

Please write your senator or represenative or even the President of the United States at the link that follows: http://capwiz.com/state-al/home/

01 Write Your Senator

5 Tips for Full-Time Workers Who Go Back to School

Grad SchoolBeing a student—whether in high school, college, or grad school—can be challenging.  It can be even more challenging if concurrent full-time employment is involved.  And furthermore challenging if marriage and parenthood is involved.  However, even with all of those challenges, reaching your goal of gaining more education is still achievable—you just need a few tips to get you over the hump.

(1) Move to 2nd or 3rd Shift

Maybe don’t do this forever, but definitely try it while you are in school.  I have worked with several people who have done this, and it made taking traditional classes a lot more feasible.  Also, most people who work on off shifts get paid a little more than their dayshift counterparts because of the perceived inconvenience.  One man’s inconvenience is another man’s treasure.

(2) Take Online Classes or Weekend/Evening Classes

If you’re pretty much stuck on dayshift or irregular shifts, try taking online courses or weekend/evening courses.  Not only does this potentially give you more flexibility, it also keeps your employer from getting annoyed with all of the personal time off (PTO) you are using to attend classes during traditional daytime hours.

(3) Make the Most of Downtime

Do you have a 10 minute work break? Write flashcards.  Do you take a 60 minute lunch period? Read your textbook.  Is your baby asleep? Start a term paper.  Did your husband go to the home improvement store? Take a practice test.  Downtime is precious.  If you notice that you have some, make the most of it.

(4) Become a 7 Year Senior

Streeeeeeeetch out your time in school.  If you have a pretty decent job and can pay the bills, slow your academic pace so that you can spend more time with your family and friends.  Being able to socialize and stay connected may help the grunts of hard work be a little easier to bare.

(5) Utilize Employer Tuition Reimbursements

With the stress of working a job and going to school, money is the last thing many people want to worry about.  That’s why it’s good to check to see if your employer offers tuition assistance.  This will greatly decrease your financial burden and may help you sleep easier at night.  Better sleeping equals better reaping.

What are some other success tips not listed?

Top 5 Reasons to Quit Your Job (and Yet Remain Employable)

Photo: http://janeencarlberglaw.com/

Photo: http://janeencarlberglaw.com/

If you have followed my career at all, you are well aware that I have been around the block a few times when it comes to employers.  Most of that has to do with the short-term and long-term repercussions of changing careers two years after college because of the M-word—marriage (which I thoroughly enjoy, by the way).

This career change has taught me a lot about recruiting, interviewing, vetting, and networking.  But it has also taught me a whole lot about quitting.  Fancier people may call it “resigning” or “seeking new opportunities,” but regardless, there is an art and science to being able to quit without it being seen as a negative attribute on your resume.  So without further ado, here are the top 5 most acceptable and commendable reasons to quit your current job.

(1) Unethical and Unsafe Work Environment

This is my number one because it has the biggest impact on your future employment.   If you are with an employer that does not truthfully prohibit unethical and unsafe characteristics then you will probably be hurt more by staying than if you quit.  Please turn in your two-week notice immediately if your boss or a significant portion of management are guilty of doing or accepting the following:

  • lying to customers and suppliers
  • using sexual or suggestive language
  • touching coworkers sexually or inappropriately
  • drinking alcohol or doing drugs on the job
  • consistently paying workers late or not paying at all
  • making racist comments or jokes
  • letting jealousy and anger affect decision-making
  • endangering workers with poor safety practices or no safety practices
  • doing other inappropriate behavior

(2) Becoming a Stay-at-Home Parent

This is a very tough (or very easy) decision for many families to make.  If this decision is something you and your spouse are going through currently, then please do not be pressured into feeling you have to work outside the home to be a fully developed human being.  Being a stay-at-home parent is perfectly acceptable as long as you can pay your bills on-time and not accumulate debts.

In order to prepare for this season in life, try living on only one income for 3 months while you are still working.  If you succeed at this task, then go ahead and let your employer know your family’s decision for you to become a stay-at-home parent.  And again, please do not feel pressured into staying at work.  And please, only come back to work when you want to come back to work.

(3) Spouse Works Significantly Far Away

Often this affects newly married couples and military couples the most.   It also affects couples who have a spouse that has received a dream job offer in a distant city.   If you and your spouse work with employers that are hundreds and thousands of miles apart, then you have a pretty arduous decision ahead of you: determining which one of you has to quit.

This can be very difficult because both spouses may love their jobs; however, spouses need to love each other more than their jobs.  Firstly, seek to see if you can just transfer within your current company.  Secondly, if this is not possible or takes too much lead-time, then you will have to quit.  This does not have to be an immediate resignation, but you definitely need to get the ball rolling in that direction.

(4) Becoming an Entrepreneur

Do not do this on a whim.  Only do this if your hobby or “side hustle” has become lucrative enough that you can afford to quit your day job.  The romanticism of being a business owner fades quickly if you cannot put food on your dinner table.  However, if your business is capable of paying you similarly to or more than what you are making currently, then by all means, quit!

Careful: Just be sure not to burn any bridges with your current employer. You may need them to hire you back in the future if your business flops.

(5) Seeking More Pay or More Opportunity

Sometimes you reach the proverbial glass ceiling.  Many large companies do not give pay increases very often, or they give pay increases yearly but at a 1% or 2% rate.  Meanwhile, many smaller companies only have a handful of employees so opportunities for promotion are pretty slim.  In order to grow and reach your potential, you are going to have to quit.  However, make sure you have a new job first!

Depending on the situation, some people may call you greedy for making a move.  Take their opinion with a grain of salt though—while your mentors may have your best interest at heart, other people may just be green-eyed with envy.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER VALID REASONS TO QUIT BESIDES THESE?

Are You Really the Luckiest Woman in the World?

I see it every single day. Someone gets a pretty sweet gift and proclaims, “I am the luckiest woman in the world for getting gift x!!!” Sure, we are elated to get gifts and surprises and may be slightly hyperbolic when we get these things. But is there any truth to the claims? I have decided to put some of these claims under the scrutiny of data and see if you really have a claim to being the luckiest woman in the world.

(Please keep in mind this is a tongue-in-cheek piece. I am sure everything about you is simply splendid. Do your thing, girl.)

Claim: I am the luckiest woman in the world to have such a great job.

Doctor Claire

According to Forbes, the happiest job for a woman (factoring in salary, job growth, and job satisfaction) is a diagnostic medical doctor. The median income for this job is $121,000 and has an estimated job growth of 27% through 2020. Pretty sweet gig.

So how many women are doctors? There are approximately 202,000 female doctors in the United States. Out of those, only 11,000 earn in the top 10% ($233,000) of doctors. These salaries are based off of a general practitioner.

Conclusion: Unless you are a doctor earning in excess of $233,000, you do not have a valid claim.

Claim: I am the luckiest woman in the world because my kids are so amazing.

Gregory Smith could read by 2, enrolled in college by 10, is a children’s rights activist, and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize at the tender age of 12.

Michael Kearney graduated college at 10, was a teacher at age 17, spoke his first words at 4 months, was once the youngest post graduate, diagnosed his own ear infection at the age of six months, and is a millionaire.

Alexis Martin was one of the youngest people to ever be accepted into Mensa, at the age of 3. She has the same IQ as Stepehn Hawking and Albert Einstein.

And just for good measure, literally everyone on this list:

http://www.thebestschools.org/features/worlds-50-smartest-teenagers/

Conclusion: Are one of these kids yours? Claim invalid.

Claim: I am the luckiest woman in the world because I am married to the most handsome man  in the world.

Omar Borkan Al Gala was deported from his country because he was so handsome, officials thought he would give women immoral thoughts. Hold on, I am going to re-type something: HE WAS DEPORTED FROM A COUNTRY FOR BEING TOO FUCKING HOT.

Ok, just wanted everyone to be clear on that.

Conclusion: Your husband is not Omar Borkan Al Gala

Omar Borkan Al Gala...Deported From Saudi Arabia 4 Being To Handsome (Panties Drop)

Claim: I am the luckiest woman in the world because my husband is the smartest man alive

This is easy. Is your husband Stephen Hawking (160 IQ), Christopher Langan (205) , Kim Ung-Yong (210), Paul Allen (170), Rick Rosner (192), Gary Kasparov (190), Andrew Wiles (170), Judit Polgar (for you ladies who love the ladies, 170), Christopher Hirata (225), Terrance Tao (230), or Evangelos Katsioulis (198)?

Only 0.5% of the population have an IQ over 140.

Conclusion: Probably not.

Claim: I got diamonds. I am the luckiest woman in the world.

In 1905 a man named Frederick Wells discovered a rough diamond that was 3,106 carats. Named the Cullinan, it was later cut into 100 smaller diamonds. The largest of those being 530 carats.

Actual-size replica of Cullinan Diamond.

Actual size replica of the Cullinan

In 2012, the Taj Mahal diamond sold for 8.8 million dollars.

The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond sold for $265,697 per carat and 8.8 million for the whole stone.

The total amount that Elizabeth Taylor jewelry collection sold for was 137.2 million dollars.

Conclusion: You do not have any of these diamonds.

Regardless of what I say, having happiness and love makes all of us the luckiest people on earth.

Why I Choose to Carry A Firearm

I know what some people immediately jump to when they hear about a white male that owns firearms: Uneducated, homophobic, misogynistic, white trash, racist—there is a certain stereotype to owning firearms.  This is far from the truth.  I start at The University of Alabama for Mechanical Engineering soon and also served in the U.S. Navy as an engineer.  I worked with guys I knew were gay, but it didn’t matter because it doesn’t affect me.  In fact, two friends and I stopped a couple of disputes one night at our barracks and were commended by the Honolulu police department for doing the right thing.  Most people in the Navy didn’t even know I was from the south on my ship, and I worked with every race.  I met good friends that I still keep in touch with: some in other countries now.  Of course there are always bad apples, just like there is always evil in the world. We see it every day in the media, or we know someone that’s affected by evil. I’ve had 2 incidents in life where I needed a firearm to protect me from evil, and I chose from then on to carry a firearm.

Shooting and hunting with guns and bows has been a big family affair most of my life. All 3 uncles and my grandfather on my mom’s side hunted.  For one uncle, it is a religion—he’s out every day during the season and has it down to a science. He collects pictures from game cameras, plants food plots, sets up hunting stands, and scouts potential areas during the off season to better improve his take when the season does comes around.  To most hunters that’s a big part of hunting because you’re hunting well before you pull the trigger—that’s part of fun.  My dad hunted years ago, but doesn’t have time now.  Most of his side of the family hunted (typical of people from Maine). So I grew up in a house with deer heads, antlers, and turkey feathers hanging on the wall, but most importantly: firearms.

I was always taught never to play with them because they are not toys but tools. Tools that can be deadly if mishandled or abused. Tools just like a bow and arrow, a knife, a vehicle, a baseball bat, or a 2×4.   It’s ultimately what you do with that tool that defines the person—good or bad. No tool decides one day to take a life—be it human or animal.  There is always a person behind it that made that decision. No tool is evil ether.  So why do people put that stigma on firearms but not a car, baseball bat, or any other object?  Is it because they are only seen as used just for killing?

Usually these people have never heard of any kind shooting sports. The National Rifle Association was started to improve rifle proficiency after the Civil War.  It was noted that during the Civil War, the Union troops fired 1,000 shots to every Confederate wounded—that was a severe lack in marksmanship. This ultimately turned it into a sport.   Today there are firearms designed just for competition based on speed and accuracy.

Being former Navy, I’ve seen firsthand many people who never shot a firearm let alone handled one. In the Navy when we go through boot camp, there is a several week course on handling firearms and safety. We drilled quite often before we even touched a real gun by using inoperable pistols. I caught the guy (a fellow recruit) in charge of the firearms one day muzzle sweeping (pointing at) people and twirling. I proceeded to chew him out because it’s not proper gun safety: even if they couldn’t fire a bullet, who is to say he doesn’t do that with a gun that could?

This all lead up to live fire and most of the guys around my rack had never shot before and were very nervous. I got them to relax and told them it’s not hard.  I told them that I bet after they shot they might want one. We get done with the training, and we go back to the apartment—all the guys who never shot were excited and wanted to do it again.  It was such foreign a concept to see.  I just reminded them why we were in the military, and that we can own things like that if we wanted to. I’m pretty sure I saw a few new/future gun owners that day. I was so happy for them I was not mad that my unit didn’t qualify me as expert shot even though I was one.  But that’s another story for another day.

Several years ago I use to work at a pizza place before I turned 21.  Another worker and I had shut down for the day.  It’s around 10-10:30pm, and I had let another worker go home around 9:30pm. As he walked out the back, I threw a box into the back area for the trash.  As my car was always parked around back,  I thought I’d just throw it away when I left.  I also decided to prop the door open to cool off the back area as I counted the day’s tickets. This was a huge mistake and one thing that still sits with me today about always being aware my personal surroundings.

As I counted the tickets I hear the door open thinking it was the guy I let go just 30 minutes before.  The guy who I think is my friend grabs me.   He always likes to mess around so I thought nothing of it.  He then puts me in a kind of headlock but not brutal choke hold or anything so I tell him to quite messing around.  But at the same time I feel a cold piece of metal in my ear, and I knew exactly what it was—it wasn’t a joke.

Everything doesn’t seem to move in normal time when you’re scared for your life.  I had no idea what this guy wants or what he could and might do. Obviously he wanted money, but what’s he going to do to me? I had already dropped the money in the lock box of the safe which I can’t get into.  There is only 100 bucks in 1 dollar bills and change—would that be enough to tide him over  or is he going to shot me and my coworker regardless? I was promptly asked if anyone else was in the store and was told to take the gunman to the back of the store. He pretty much had the same look of disbelief I had when he stepped into the back. He was grabbed and thrown into the bathroom.  As I now see there are 2 people.  The guy that had me became violent and demanded I open the safe.  He assaults me with the pistol and repeatedly hits me. Safe to say it didn’t get worse than that but I was a bloody mess. I was gnashed on the forehead right on my hairline and had a huge knot on the top of my head but other than that I was fine.

Now I’m not going to say a firearm would have made a difference—the fact is that I didn’t have one and wasn’t aware of my surroundings.  You can best believe I won’t drop my guard like that ever again. Now by the law if I did have a firearm on me, pulled it, shot, and killed him I would have been in the right, clear as black and white no doubt about it.  I was in fear of someone else’s life—in this case, my coworker’s–I can’t read minds to know what gunmen are going to do.  In that instance, it’s his life or my life. I’d rather he couldn’t do this to another person, but people will take my story seriously because everything ended okay or wasn’t that bad or whatever BS line they like to throw out.  What if the next night he did the same thing again but something went wrong and he killed an innocent person? No one has the right to treat another person like that nor do I blame the gun for busting my head open.

What’s the difference between a privilege and a right? A privilege is permission granted by law, a right is something no one can take away. You have a right to eat and to live.   No one can take that away without just cause.  Your privilege would be anything that the government provides like allowing you to drive or allowing children the opportunity to attend school.  Your ability to live, protect, and better yourself isn’t a privilege.  There is a reason it’s called the Bill of Rights not the Bill of Privileges. I always hear the anti-gun side spout that the second amendment is dated and should be changed or amended. Well while we’re at it, free speech is dated, due process is dated, and freedom of the press is dated.

People usually go on the tangent that I hate school children or little kids or something along those lines because I’m for guns. That couldn’t be further from the truth. No lawful gun owner wants to see or hear of children getting killed.  It’s a deranged crazy person infringing on someone’s rights and not the majority of gun owners. Why does that person’s actions dictate what I can’t and can own. I don’t wish to ever have to use my firearm—it’s there as a tool for a situation I can’t contain. A heated argument with someone no, a violent argument where the person threatens me with a knife or some other weapon yes.  A gun is a tool to defuse the situation, and if that doesn’t stop them then lethal force.

A lot of people tend to feel uncomfortable for that reason—that a person with a gun has too much power.  As I was saying in my story of the robbery and assault, I wouldn’t be willing put myself in that position ever again. I’m not paranoid just cautious like a female choosing not to walk down a dark unlit alley—maybe 99.9% of the time nothing happens but why put yourself in that position.  This is also why I advocate females carry too. Anti-gunners tend to think people who own guns want to be vigilantes or it’s go wild west.  Well I’m not Charles Bronson and this isn’t a Clint Eastwood western.  This is real life and in real life some people commit violent crimes. Recent data estimates there are anywhere from 200 million to 300 million legally owned firearms in America (these are only estimates because the government isn’t allowed to know what I own) and the most recent data from the FBI in 2011 shows 8,583 homicides from firearms (legally and illegally obtained). I would think if gun owners were trigger happy that number would be significantly higher.

My second incident came a couple years later right after I turned 21.  I choose to purchase a full sized Magnum Research IMI Baby Eagle .45ACP (not a Desert Eagle but the same company made both firearms and Magnum Research being the distributor for the states wanted to capitalize on the name sake) because I worked 3rd shift at a gas station.  All the freaks come out from 10pm-7am.  I carried at work every night.  Now a paper I signed when I started stated I couldn’t and could be fired for doing so but it’s not against the law.  I legally had a concealed carry permit and confirmed this with the local police. On the plus side my boss was a good friend and I had pushed him into buying guns.   In fact, he taught me how to reload ammo so he didn’t care that I did but the area manager did.

When I was off the clock, I had a bad habit of occasionally carrying it—my second mistake I won’t ever do again. So I had started talking to a female friend who decided to get dinner with me one night, and I meet her at her place and rode in her car to local restaurant. I had decided before I left the house I wasn’t going to carry the pistol tonight out of convenience to me, and so I didn’t have to explain that one to her. We get to the restaurant order our food and the night goes pretty well.   As we are eating, 2 police officers I see on night shift stop in for dinner. I say hello because they come in every night I work, and they sit a few booths away.  So as we are sitting and talking, a random stranger decides to sit down next to my female friend, and I can clearly see she is mortified of him. He starts a conversation with her like I’m not even there, and I interject and ask him who he is and what he wants. He shoots me a glare and tried to intimidate me by saying he was her boyfriend which she shot down pretty quickly.  Turns out, he was her ex, and they broke up some time ago. I can see she is in discomfort and doesn’t want to be near this guy. I kindly ask him to leave. He bows up in a threatening gesture at me. I laugh and point out the 2 police officers sitting only 10-15 feet away from him. He walks off, but he shows up as we are leaving (I also made a comment to the police officers about his behavior).  I tell her let’s just leave thinking this is the end of this.  How wrong I was? We get back to her place and talk for a little while.  She apologizes for the incident and this guy shows up at her house with 3 of his friends yelling for her to come out and something about me. Well her father runs them off and asks me to leave.  I comply but I’m not the bad guy here.  So I leave for my house unknown to me, the lowlife had parked several streets down and saw me leave. He commenced to chase me in his car.  I like to modify cars so he wasn’t getting near my car—I probable had 3 times the horsepower and torque he did and my car was 1000 pounds lighter. So on comes another of those “what do I do?” moments in life.

I can’t stop because there are 4 guys in that car.  I have no idea what is going across their minds—maybe not murder but assault more than likely. Again I have the right to protect myself and trust me I was mad I didn’t bring the pistol. So I do the only logical thing and call the police.  I explain what’s going on and that I was stopping at my work and going inside.  Lucky for me my work wasn’t far from her house—maybe a couple of miles away. I stop and tell the other nightshift guy at the time what was going on and that I was waiting on the police. I had another lucky break as the 2 police officers who were eating earlier where the ones who got the call so they kind of knew the story. I fill them in on what happened after we left.  They ask me a few questions like his name and all.   I didn’t know, and they can tell I’m flustered, and I say out loud those guys were lucky I wasn’t carrying tonight. One of the police officers heard this and tried to lecture me like I was 10 years old.   I shot back that being chased by 4 guys in the situation gives me the right to protect myself. Now I have a close family friend who was a well-known police officer in town and avid gun owner.  He had a brutal run in with some robbers when he was carrying, and it’s the reason he was hired as a police officer.  I told him the story care to guess what he had to say: I would have been in the right. Again I’m not going to say a firearm would have made the situation better or worse but what would have happened if they showed up before the police officers got there, beat me half to death, and send me to the hospital? They were willing to go as far as they did, why not lethally far?

I don’t want to have to use any of my firearms ever, but it’s there if I do. It’s something you really have to think about if you decide to carry.  No one can make that choice for you but you.  If you want my opinion though why would you want to wound someone who wants to kill you or cause you harm?  Also, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The whole time I’ve been writing this article I’ve had one of my guns on me the whole time.  Care to guess what it did? Nothing.  It sat in the holster unassumingly ready if I needed it. My other gun sat in my room in its holster all day, and I’m absolutely positive it didn’t shot anyone either.

I’ve also had to explain to people that guns don’t just go off.  I get that one all the time from my stepmother.  I’ve sat her down and showed it to her—it can’t possible go off.  My gun that I don’t carry often has quite a few safeties on it—a slide lock that not only locks the slide from raking in a new round but prevents the trigger from being pulled; a beaver tail safety that can only be activated by holding the gun and depressing a switch to disengage the safety; and a hammer that has to cocked backed.  If you manage to do all that, then you were trying to shot the gun.

My everyday carry revolver doesn’t have as nearly as many safeties, but it does have a 10 pound pull on the trigger.   To put that in perspective, try picking up a 10 pound weight with one finger. That’s one of the great things about owning firearms—you can get them to your style and preference.  If you’re thinking about wanting to buy a gun, then there is nothing better than actually holding one in your hands—never buy a gun without at least holding it. When you do decide on one, please think about practicality.  The Desert Eagle looks cool, but do you want to carry around 10 pounds of gun on your waist, in a bag, or in a purse all day?  Of course not.  You would carry it—defeating the whole purpose of owning it. On the flip side, do you want a gun that might not be enough to stop someone like a little .22? Yeah it’s small and concealable, but is it effective? After you choose the caliber, you also need to take in account magazine size: is 13 rounds of 9mm enough? What about 10 .40 S&W? I’ll stick to my 8 rounds of .45ACP and a backup magazine.

Do you like guns? Against them altogether? Or are you somewhere in the middle?

> on April 8, 2013 in West Hartford, Connecticut.