A few questions answered

Ok time to have a little fun. Saw this posted in my feed, decided to tackle it. Read on and laugh along. Feedback appreciated.

1. What is your favourite book?

The Crow by James O’Barr. It’s a graphic novel but it unabashedly shows many truths we simply take for granted, and how precious life is.

2. What are your goals? For the year? For your life?

My first goal is to start swimming on a regular basis and strengthen my body. Three spinal surgeries in 4 years is kinda rough. My life goals are to get back to college and earn my degree in civil engineering and my P.E. (Professional Engineer license), and be financially secure so my wife and kids never have to worry.

3. Are you a writer? If so, tell me about your work. 

I like to write and go through phases. I do write technical articles and jobsite reports for my company’s monthly newsletter.

4. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Always wanted to visit New Zealand.

5. What was the last movie you saw in the theatre and was it worthwhile?

Ill be honest I don’t remember.

6. I’m curious, are there any books that you’ve tried to read and simply couldn’t finish? This is a no judgement zone.

Some “bestselling thriller” I picked up in the airport once. Got about 1/3 of the way through it and ended up leaving it on the plane for some unsuspecting person to pick up and try to read.

7. Are you currently working on a new book/project right now? If it’s secret, you don’t have to tell me about it. If so, however, I hope it’s going well.

Not at the moment. I really want to get back to writing music.

8. If you could live in any of your favourite books, which one would you choose?

The Tom Clancy “Jack Ryan Series” (think Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger, etc..)

9. Are there any book-to-movie adaptations that you think are just incredible? That you absolutely hated?

Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson did a phenomenal job. The Sum of All Fears was a big disappointment….had very little to do with the book, which I thought was way more exciting.

10. What do you look for in a book that you want to read? What’s the first thing to capture your attention?

The inset plot teaser. Needs human focus without getting lost on miniscule details like Charles Dickens.

11. If you’re an author, what do you do when you first get an idea for a book?

My morning coffee is my inspiration. Sometimes a long drive.

12. How do you feel about different genres? Romance? YA? Sci-Fi? Poetry? Do you have any favorites? Any least-favourites?

Romance never did it for me. Some young adult novels are written really well, others sound like a mishmash of high school gossip with zero direction and a massive “cheese factor”. I definitely enjoy sci-fi, and also historical fiction.

13. If you could meet any writer in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?

Tom Clancy, Timothy Zahn, James O’Barr, and Ernest Hemmingway.

14. Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?

I like both.

15. Are there any characters that everyone loves that you can’t stand? Or vice versa?

Any character(s) that people take too seriously. Twilight, 50 Shades, etc.

16. What do you like to do besides reading/writing?

Work on cars, spend time with the kids, work on skis and snowboards at the shop, cooking, public speaking / presentations, target shooting, hunting, shooting pool.

17. If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

My love for my family.

18. What is your favourite guilty pleasure book?

Star Wars: Dark Empire

19. Do you have a reading goal set for this year?

Nope. Just to keep reading.

20. Tell me anything about yourself that I haven’t asked. Random fact. Weird human trick. Whatever.

I can roll my stomach like ocean waves.

Stay Caffinated.

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NYC for an engineering lecture

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Took the train. $35 round trip including parking. Much better than driving.

I attended an engineering lecture for work yesterday. Since it was my one and only stop in the city, I took the train, which was a very financially prudent thing to do, plus avoid any unpleasant traffic getting to the city AND in Midtown.

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Penn Station / MSG

After getting off the train and realizing I didn’t have the greatest cell charge, I stopped in a kiosk just outside Madison Square Garden and checked out the portable battery packs. The poor guy didn’t even see me coming. He looked up to see all 6’4″ of me and jumped. “Holy shit bro I didn’t even see or hear you! Shit how could I miss you, you’re huge!” We laughed for a bit, talking about ninjas and how I like to sneak up and scare my kids. $30 later I had a decent charger that boosted my charge by 60% so I was good to go. The lecture was being held at STOUT, which has a private room downstairs and ZERO cell reception, haha. So I drank some Brooklyn Lager, had a medium rare strip steak, mash, broccoli and cauliflower with a side of lentil. Everything was delicious. Got to hang with some industry colleagues, make some new work connections, listen to an interesting lecture, and call it a night.

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STOUT NYC Midtown. Great place for a lecture. Sure beats some big empty room in a hotel.

STOUT had a good beer selection but I wasn’t in an experimental mood so I stuck to the lager. After the night was done at 9 PM, I walked back towards Penn Station. First a fight broke out at the Blarney Rock next door; STOUT’s one bouncer walked right over and split the two drunks up and defused the fight, sending one guy on his drunken way. After the sidewalk cleared, I was on my way. The train I planned on taking actually arrived later at my station than if I took the express one that left 30 minutes later, arriving at my destination a full 25 minutes before the earlier train. Funny how those things work. So I waited for the express train. I took to people watching outside, had a few guys ask me for a lighter (I’m a former smoker, so I don’t carry one anymore). Near the cab line about 60 yards away, a very inebriated woman took a full faceplant onto the pavement. Thankfully, 4 or 5 people ran over to help her out and safely get her into a cab. Shame it happened but good to see complete strangers immediately help her out. I had already taken a few steps but adding a 5th or 6th person to the mix wasn’t going to help in any way.

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Goodnight, NYC, it's been a fun 5 hours!

After an uneventful train ride, I hopped into Bessie and drove back home. As always, I love the city (my hometown) but it’s nice to get back to my house in the woods. Stay caffeinated.

A Concealed Carry open letter

I wrote this almost a year ago, and wasn’t sure how or when to send this. After recent events, including the guy who was tackled for legally carrying his firearm in Florida, I feel I need to put this out there.

Please understand. I mean you no harm. Please understand I carry my firearm for self defense. I do not carry it to boast. I do not carry it to stroke my ego. I carry to defend my spouse and my children. I do not carry to shove the 2nd amendment down your throat. I do not carry to be the crazy guy everyone is afraid of. I carry because someone tried to hurt me, rob me, possibly kill me…twice.
Please understand. You will see me shopping, you will see me taking my kids to/from school, and you will see me working at my job. you will see me tending my yard, fixing my car, and coaching sports. You will see me opening the door for those my senior, you will see me thank the cashier, and most of all, you will see me hold my children tight and laugh and play with them. You wont see me pick a fight, you won’t see me decide who is wrong and right, and you won’t see me stalk the neighborhood.
Please understand. I do not leave ammo and guns laying around my home. I teach my family to fear and respect the weapons that we own. I teach my kids that policemen are doing their job, and sometimes its very far to come to our aid. I let them know that daddy will do his best to always be there and not be afraid of what they hear in the news or in school.
Please understand. After carrying for 8 years, drawing my firearm twice, and never firing a single shot at a human being, I will not stop now. i’ve lived this long, and have many years to go. The good Sheriff has signed my card every 5 years, and i have never given him a reason otherwise. Please understand. I don’t think everyone should have a firearm, but i don’t think taking them away will solve anything either. If mine or my family’s lives are in danger, I will draw my weapon. If i absolutely have to, I will pull the trigger. I pray the day never comes.
I do not think that Hollywood can teach you anything regarding guns, and I wish more people would understand. If someone does argue with me on the subject of firearms, I will not shoot, shout, or scream. I will explain the facts that I know, and will answer any question they have. I hope they are satisfied. I have been trained, I have practiced, and I continue to re-educate myself with the latest in firearm safety.
Please understand that I am a responsible gun owner. I am not a monster. I am not a fear monger. I am your neighbor, your volunteer, your fellow parent, and just another man. i
I am educated, I have traveled far and wide, and I know there is so much more to see. Turn off the TV, get off the partisan politic discussions, and just go outside and talk face to face. you will be surprised what you can learn.

With respect,

A responsible LCF card holder, always armed but never threatening.

Someone pissed in my cheerios

So I got pretty worked up today. Up until today, I’ve watched the political polarization of comment feeds and generally have kept to myself.  Occasionally I’ve jumped in; other times I’ve pulled a “I’m just here for the comments” with a tub of popcorn. But here I sit, realizing nearly every comment section of any article devolves into a political version of Spy vs Spy from the MAD Magazine days. Only difference is, this is not really funny anymore. There have been some studies done which illustrate the political divide in this country is at its most extreme in a very long time. That does not mean I have to be OK with it.

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I have a few opinions on why this is happening. For one, everyone has a mouthpiece now. It’s called the internet. Whereas opinions were restricted (and I use that term very loosely) to:

– Letters to the Editor
– Community Activists with a megaphone and a soap box
– News personalities and writers
– Callers on CNN
– Local community gossip

Now, everyone can put their opinion on blast. This is one of the sharpest double edged swords I’ve encountered. We all have a voice, yet I find myself cringing at some of the voices screaming to be heard. It’s really aggrivating that people will openly threaten to kill, beat, rape, and slander each other over an opinion. Granted, we can laugh it off and say “haha, keyboard warrior”, post a meme or some ridiculous picture to accompany it. But I think there’s a serious problem. Take the constantly moving and evolving firearms discussion in this country. People on both sides are perfectly ok saying things like “fuck them, they deserve to die”. Now hold on a second. It’s my understanding that people voicing their desire for more gun control would be seeking a non violent solution to what they consider a problem in America. It is also my understanding that the people who own firearms for self defense are not wanting to be on the offensive. I am going to pick both sides of the argument apart, and at the end, I will tell you my stance on guns in America.

Remember, I will take a brief most extreme view on both sides and argue their points with paraphrased comments I’ve seen on places like Facebook, news feeds, etc. Trust me, what I say here, you will be able to find. I’m not discussing facts. I hate that I even have to write this stupid disclaimer. Onward.

—-The argument for more Gun Control and/or banning of guns

Often the plea is heard for more gun control. But it seems like no one is doing anything about it. All these people populating the streets with more and more instruments of death. Kids are dying in schools and on the streets. What for? So the gun industry can continue to make money hand and foot over the American Publics’ fear of everything? Because every home needs an assault rifle? Or is it a bunch of men so insecure in their masculinity that they need a big bad automatic rifle with the latest military hardware to compensate for their small manhood? Who knows. One thing is for sure, of you take guns off the streets, crime will go down and school shootings won’t happen. Guns are for the police and the military. An average citizen has no need for a gun. What if their child gets a hold of a gun carelessly left out and shoots themselves or a sibling or a parent? Who is to blame then? The politicians need to man up and write laws to prevent these things from happening at any cost. There are many other things a person can do to defend themselves such as call 911, run away from the attacker, fake a medical condition, or find a way to defuse the situation. And if you see someone walking around with a gun, you should call the cops.

—-The argument against more Gun Control or banning of guns

The United States was founded on rejecting oppression and tyranny, giving the people the power to rise up and defend themselves. We are guaranteed the right to protect ourselves with firearms. Illegal guns on the streets does not mean the government now has the right to take away the guns of law abiding citizens. This is a constitutional right guaranteed by the supreme court. More guns lawfully owned means less crime on the streets. So many people depend on hunting to feed their families as well. And the fantasy that AR-15 rifles are these fully automatic death machines is completely false. They are semi-automatic which means you pull the trigger once and one bullet comes out, not thirty. If you don’t like guns, don’t buy one! Instead of blaming the gun for these school shootings or mass murders, blame the person and blame the parents for not getting the shooter the mental health treatment they need.

Now that I’m done with those, here’s my opinion, and people on both sides will probably say I’m pissing in their cheerios for this:

I am a gun owner. I have had my LCF since 2006 (in my state that stands for License to Carry Firearms, renewable every 5 years with the County Sheriff). I also carry concealed every day. I have not shot a single person in my life and I do not plan on it. I teach my children firearm safety. I have taken some courses on firearm safety. I have a bolt action hunting rifle, I am building an AR 15, have a pump action shotgun and a semi-automatic pistol.

I do not support ‘open carry’ demonstrations as I feel it is sending the wrong message. In my state we absolutely have the right to open carry, especially since hunting is a big part of life here, but unless I am out hunting deer (whose meat we all eat) I have no reason to have my rifle strapped to my shoulder. I see no reason to ban ammunition magazines that are portrayed as ‘high capacity’. A 30 round magazine is standard on an AR-15 platform rifle chambered in .223/5.56.

Background checks are a must, and here in my state when you walk into any store, they perform a NICS check on you every time you purchase a gun. The only exception is private transfer of a ‘long gun’ which means rifles and shotguns. You cannot privately purchase a pistol without going through a FFL (federal firearms licensed dealer).

I think firearm safety should be taught to people of all ages, and it should be a mandatory requirement to obtain your carry permit. I see no problem with that.
The mental health treatments available in this country range from wonderful to appalling. More needs to be done, and it starts at home. If you’re ignoring mental illness in your home, you are absolutely making it worse. Denial is almost as bad as the illness itself. And please, stop comparing the United States to other countries. It is an apples to oranges comparison. Our population is many times that of other countries, as well as our geographical area, and our entire judicial system.

I see no issue with a firearms database if done correctly. Before you scream “They”re gonna take our guns away!” just listen to me. From a law enforcement perspective, it would be so much faster if you could trace a serial number in the event a crime is committed. Yes, felons often file off the serial numbers. But they should be traceable. If a federal database is not agreeable, then all the states need to be on the same page. Quite frankly, if a ‘gun grab’ were to happen, this country would have a full blown revolution on its hands.

I am tired of people who want to restrict or ban guns threatening gun owners. You are, in effect, preaching a very violent solution to a non-violent cause. Get over yourselves. I am proud of the way I’ve raised my family and I have shown great restraint in potentially violent situations. In fact, carrying my gun has shown I have more restraint, full well knowing my pistol is my absolute last resort, and I’d rather de-escalate a situation and be able to walk away peacefully. If you want to scream in my face simply because you do not agree with me is a foolish way to get your opinion across. I’m not shoving my beliefs down your throat until you catipulate.

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We as Americans really need to be united again. We are so politically divided. And not just on the issue of guns. I’ve written long enough for this post. Next up will be the education system, marriage, our national debt, and law enforcement. Stay Caffinated.

Road Warrior Pt 2

I had experiences in one of the most urban areas in the United States and just two hours outside of that very place I was living in one of the more rural areas in the United States. Not nearly as remote as places like Minnesota or the Dakotas, but world enough compared to New York City. As I got older I started to realize unfortunately how narrow minded people can be no matter where you go. Granted there are a lot of people here in the United States that have very open mind and have similar experiences to me and I’ll be sleep some of you. But I encounter the same narrow mindedness and Pennsylvania. When I would tell people that I’m originally from New York, and they had lived up in Pennsylvania all their lives, their attitude regarding me changed very quickly. They immediately soon assumed that I was loud obnoxious rude impatient person who would go in the car at 90 miles an hour before the stop light turns red. They thought I didn’t know how to use the turn signal or how to fix things on my own. Fortunately for me, my father was very very handy as well as all of my uncles and my grandfathers. So generation to generation a lot of trade skills were passed down. I’m really fortunate to have the best of both worlds. As an adult learning the ways of working on the road all the time, and working in construction from a different couple of a couple of different perspectives, really gave me a bird’s eye view on the world. I find myself looking at the bigger picture all the time. When I have conversations with others out there, I find that their views are so narrow and it’s such a small stove. This goes back to my earlier post about meeting the blogger. Here is another person out there that had similar experiences even though she didn’t do the travel I did she definitely had a much wider view on the world do to her networking and the use of social media. Things like social media can be a curse and a blessing, it all depends on how you use it. Understand, I’m not trying to put myself above anybody else out there. In fact I often find myself trying to keep my mouth shut on occasion, when a conversation strikes up regarding anything there’s a good chance it’s something I probably experienced multiple times, and I almost feel bad involving myself in the conversation. This does not make me an expert in any of these things. But my old man taught me to be the best I could and what I do, and also to make sure I am rich myself and be a jack of all trades. One of the things I try and impress upon my kids especially stinky,, is never stop learning. There is so much in this world just waiting to be learned and understood. 30 states in 10 countries later this is where I find myself. So maybe now you’re asking me for what are all these experiences that I mention,? For starters as soon as I graduated high school I took a huge interest in automotive in car audio. In the beginning, like anyone who wanted a new radio in their car, I would go to the local radio shop and have it installed. Then my brain started working. I wondered how hard could it be? The first radio I ever tried to install by myself, I pride. $50 later, the radio was repaired. I learned my lesson real quick. So I started researching how it actually went together. I made with one of the local car stereo shops in town. One of the guys was super friendly and took me under his wing. So I began to learn on my own. After a while, it wasn’t so hard. Within a short amount of time, all my friends were coming to me instead of asking if I could install a new radio or a set of speakers for them. Oddly enough, it didn’t take away from the business of the local shop. I would end up buying equipment from that shop, and then doing the install myself. So the local owner still gotta cut and he was more than happy. For advanced installs they would still go to the same shop. I would just recommend and prefer. To this day I still keep up with car stereo installed and do research on it. So every once in a while somebody will call me, and I’ll make everything right for them. I also spent two years working at two different Walmarts. I worked in the hardware and paint department, I was a front end manager, & I work in the sporting goods department. So I ended up picking up knowledge of each and every facet of each of those two stores. Afterwards I had a job offer at it large telecommunications firm. So now my knowledge of IT and telecom crew trashed Italy based on my new job. When I started working there, I immediately saw career offered opportunity. I figured at this stage in my life tech I’m 20 years old and I’m learning from one of the premier telecommunications companies in the country if not the world. I saw a tremendous growth opportunity. Soon I was the go to guy to set up video conferencing audio conferencing cell phone accounts and office phones and faxes. After that company went bankrupt and laid off 13000 people I knew my chances of career was at an end. Through a good friend of mine who sister I was dating at the time I ended up working at a motorcycle dealership in New Jersey. This was meant to be temporary but I ended up staying for about two and a half years. In that time I found myself learning everything there was to know about Honda and Yamaha motorcycles ATV’s and dirt bikes. I realized however that I couldn’t see myself making a career out of this. After some searching, I actually ended up getting hired right off of the sales floor. A woman had bought her first two motorcycles off of me in the span of less than 8 months. When she came to pick up her second motorcycle, her husband came in with her. All because I simply remembered her by first and last name and help her out right away and got her exactly what she wanted, her husband ended up ordering me in my sales managers office which was empty at the time and asked me point blank how much money I made. He then invited me to his office for a cup of coffee. Three weeks later I had a job in the deep foundation drilling industry at 23 years old. I admit I was really scared at first because I had no knowledge whatsoever of the job I was about to jump into. Yet I took the opportunity and took the chance and now nearly 11 years later I’ve made a career out of working in the very industry.

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Not your typical day at the office.

Above anything my experiences in the drilling industry as open my eyes tremendously. For me personally, it’s been very satisfying to learn every facet of whatever job I’ve ended up with, even the part time once I’ve had over the years. When I was a kid I worked at our local family ski shop. Since it was our family business I ended up learning every part of the ski industry in our area.

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Mounting a new set of skis for a customer.

When I got a little older before I went away to college I started playing and refereeing paintball at our local field. Being involved in skiing in paintball would follow me for the rest of my life. So in a nutshell, I’m a sales estimator for construction who knows how to ski, play paintball, help you pick a motorcycle or ATV, fix your car stereo, work on cars and houses and can travel most places in the world and not bat an eyelash.

Road Warrior Pt 1

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So here I am driving on 81 north bound. Almost 5 years ago, while I was working at another company, I was on the road almost 3 weeks a month weather it was Baltimore, Boston, Pittsburgh, New York City, or somewhere in the Northeast United States and a lot of times beyond. It’s a difficult life to have when you have a family at home especially when the kids are so young. If anything it’s the perfect job for a single person. When I first started the job it was just me; I had no bills and nearly complete freedom. When I met The Wife and we started raising our family it became more and more difficult to be away from them so much. Granted, my job was not as difficult as what military families go through when one spouse is over in the sandbox or some foreign country, leaving the family back home to deal with everything else. But it didn’t make it any easier for me or the family. One of the benefits of traveling so much as you get to see so much in the United States and other countries as well. You really get to learn different things about different cultures how people behave different parts of the country. But after a while, hotels start looking the same the bed start looking the same, the same crap is on TV every night and you start seeing the same people at all the restaurants and all the pubs. With my current job, my travel schedule is much more relaxed compared to the old place. In this particular case, I only had to go about 3 hours away from home and the benefit was my brother in law actually lives not far from the job site I was at. So after I was done working for the day taking care of a few things, I was able to meet up with him and his girlfriend and we went out to dinner and had a few beers. Sometimes it helps when you’re traveling to run into old friends or family and it gives you a touch of home while you’re out there. I actually get an estimate one time trying to figure out how much time I actually spend in my car. When I was ttraveling extensively for my company on average I spent a total of 45 days a year in my car. I took my annual mileage, divided it over an average speed of 40mph, and then extracted the hours into days. When people would ask me why I had a touch screen DVD player a great sound system, and all sorts of creature comforts in the car, this was my answer. One of the other benefits to traveling so much, is you really learn how to negotiate with hotels Airlines rental car companies and other travel necessities. So when it comes time to travel for vacation with the family, it makes life so much easier. Compared to other people who end up spending a lot of money to get a hotel or a rental car we end up saving a lot of money based on my travel experience and it leaves us available to do other things with the kids so they have a great time while we’re on vacation. Plus you’ll earn a lot of shortcuts on the area highways towns and find ways around if there’s an accident or something blocking your way. Another thing I’ve learned, is no matter where you visit, there’s good areas and bad areas of every town. On this particular trip where the job site was located, my brother in law told me that it was in the not so nice section of town and just to keep my eyes open. Meanwhile 5 minutes away literally across the tracks it was a whole different area. Much nicer more suburban, more laid back and everybody’s attitudes were completely different. Before you jump in judge me based on my impressions of different places understand that I’ve lived in New York City and also in Pearl areas Pennsylvania so I had to taste of both worlds. I lived in town I live in the country and I lived in the city. So I’ve had different experiences in different types of living environments. When I grew up in New York City I lived there in the 80s; what I fondly referred to as the bad old days. Back when crime was at an all time high, and things were really tough. The neighborhood I lived in wasn’t so bad, but there were times where I had to step over things like crack vials, used needles, and empty beer cans on my 3 block short walk to school. I was desensitized to murder and violent crime as it was on the news every day. Fortunately, I have really really good parents that always looked out for me taught me right from wrong and help keep my nose clean. When they divorced when I was about 10 my mother and I moved up to Pennsylvania we left the 4 family apartment that we lived in on Staten Island, and we moved to a log cabin in the woods. So as a pre-teen, it was a culture shock for me. Even though I would spend my weekends a lot of times in the summer up in Pennsylvania and I had summer friends now I had to learn to live there. I quickly discovered a lot of kids really didn’t care about things like the New York Yankees for the Subway Series and a lot of them had never been to a playground that was totally fenced in with ashphalt on the ground instead of wood chips. They were used to riding their bikes out into the woods, watching NASCAR, and going to this thing called the West End fair. Yes, I am generalizing. Stay with me. Nobody else here has called a sandwich a hero instead they called it a hoagie. The ironic thing is about 5 years later I had to attend a funeral for my mom’s cousin. While I’m sitting with his daughters for a little bit younger than me and a group of their friends when they ask me where I was from and I told them Pennsylvania they started laughing and said Oh what are you wake up with a rooster in the morning gotta go milk the cow? It was then that I realized my life it started to change in ways I never imagined possible.