Trump Won, and I’m gloating just a little

Ordinarily I would not gloat about Trump winning. No, really. I’m not usually a sore loser or a sore winner. But I’ve taken a lot of shit from people, friends and family and strangers alike this election cycle because of the candidate, and even the party I supported.

I’ve never referred to a candidate by one of those monikers like Obummer, McSame, McLame, McBush, Killery, Hitlery, etc but certain people just couldn’t help themselves when posting on my wall about Drumpf, Dump, and Cheeto, whatever that means.

I’ve never messed with anyone’s property because of a political sticker. Never peeled it off, never put a sticker over it, never keyed their car. Nada, zilch. I had my Trump yard sign vandalized twice. Someone came on to my property, my home, to disrespect and intimidate me out of supporting a candidate. Is that not voter intimidation on a micro scale? And it’s happened across the country, people getting their signs stolen, their car set on fire because they had a Trump sticker, getting pulled out of their cars and attacked because of a Trump sticker. At the insistence of my girlfriend, and parents, I removed my sign because I didn’t want to risk someone doing something malicious to me, my property, or worse yet, someone I cared about.

I’ve never threatened to leave this country if someone I didn’t like got elected. But I can’t even count how many friends and family members I’ve seen say or hint at this, of course, always democrats. And I’ve seen celebrities say the same thing, of course, always democrats.

I’ve never insulted someone for their political opinions. I have challenged them, sure. I have argued, and debated, and for unknown reasons wasted hours of my life writing nauseatingly long responses on social media that no one probably read. But I have not insulted them. I have not said anything akin to “wow I can’t believe you would vote for Hilary, I just thought so much better of you than that”. But I have had dozens of people insult me in this election cycle, not just alluding or insinuating, but calling me racist, sexist, xenophobic, bigoted, et al. The usual democrat fare. I had one ‘friend’ comment on a blog I shared “I always tell people there are some smart Trump supporters out there” when I posted something he actually agreed with me on that wasn’t even Trump related, basically making it known that in the dozen years I’ve known this person he thought I was a idiot, and that prior to me writing some random blog, he thought all Trump supporters were idiots.

I’ve never trolled anyone because of their political beliefs. But I have had select people systematically troll my social media just so they can shit on every political or opinionated thing I post regarding this election cycle. These people are nowhere to be found when I post a picture of my dog, or a beautiful scene while hiking, or share a photo or blog post about a vacation I took to Hawaii. These people don’t even bother to wish me happy birthday. These trolls are all but non-existent when I post neutral, non-political things. But I can’t take a fucking shit without these trolls commenting on how bad it smells. I can’t post a selfie with my Trump shirt without them shitting all over it, making fun of it with sarcastic, underhanded comments if not out right insults or provocations. The moment I posted something “pro Trump”, I was lambasted, insulted, mocked, and bombarded with a mile long counter post about why I’m basically a human piece of shit.

I’ve never threatened to unfriend someone because of the candidate or party they support. But I have seen about a dozen friends on social media claim they would, and each and every one of them were democrat. One even unfriended me. And I am certain one chose not to do business with me when they learned of my political standing.

I’ve never cried because my candidate won, or lost. But last night before the results were even finalized, I scrolled down my feed and saw about 6 or 7 friends of mine talking about how sad they were, and how they cried, and how they are terrified, and the whole sob fest. I didn’t cry when Obama won, TWICE, and has royally fucked over a ton of people I know, yours truly included. Trump hasn’t even done anything yet except win. He hasn’t even been sworn in. But cry if and when his policies result in your fucking health insurance premiums quadrupling in 5 years. Cry when you lose your job because the entire industry no longer exists. When something tangible happens that adversely affects your life, then maybe you can cry and I’ll give a shit.

I’ve said for years, and especially the last year and a half, that the media is full of shit, and the polls are full of shit. And it turns out I was right.

So I have been threatened. I have been insulted. I have been trolled. I have been marginalized. I have been unfriended. I have been mocked. And you know what? I am gonna fucking gloat a little bit. Because I put up with alllllll that shit, and won. Trump put up with much more than that, and he still won. The mainstream media was against him. The democrat and republican establishment were against him. Celebrities were against him. Democrats would burn down cop cars and buildings and threaten and attack people with toddlers, and women, and the elderly just because Trump was giving a nearby speech or hosting a rally.

So you know what.

Trump won. Ha, ha, HA. IN YOUR FACE. Donald Drumpf won. The Cheeto won. This guy you’ve been shitting on for a year just took the wind right out of your sails. You threw everything you had at him and he juggernauted his way through like champ. And I am thoroughly enjoying watching all these rude people I’ve been seeing the last year eat their words.

President Trump. Get comfortable hearing those words because you’re going to be hearing them a lot for the next 4 years. 48 long months. One thousand four hundred and sixty excruciatingly long days.

So please forgive the shit eating grin on my face.

And if you still plan on leaving America, give me a call. I’ll help you pack.

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A Year of Travel and Adventure

Starting about a year ago, I strapped in to one hell of a roller coaster. The last 12 months, from October 2015 to now, have been jam packed full of events. The past year has been tiring, fun, stressful, fast paced, and all around excellent.

Louisiana – The Adventure Begins

The adventures began last October when my longtime friends TJ and Jessica invited Jenny and me on a week long trip to Louisiana with them. They were flying out there for vacation, but also to take their engagement photos in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The trip was a blast from day one. Our flights landed within about an hour of each other so coordinating was super easy. It was late and we needed to catch some sleep to springboard into the rest of the trip. We all hopped in a rental – some all-wheel drive Infiniti sports sedan – and tore our way through the middle of Louisiana to our first destination of the Pelican State.

As you may or may not know, drive-thru daiquiri shops are a real thing in Louisiana and other parts of the south, so when in Rome! Another regional quirk I noticed was Dollar General stores, which appear to be to Louisiana, what Starbucks is to California – there’s one every quarter mile.

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Our first morning we woke up bright and early and went on a swamp boat tour. A must-do if you’ve never gone. Our guide had the coolest accent, and was a pro at handling that thing. He could drift around a bend and manage to get our 6 foot wide swamp boat through a water gate with just inches to spare without breaking a sweat. He told us all about the nutria rat problem, we saw tons of gators, and even had a three foot Chinese tuna jump into our boat and smack TJ in the face. It was awesome.

Our next stop was New Orleans. On our drive in, we turned on suitable playlist on Spotify and stumbled on the comical and tragic song, Senor El Gato! We had a beautiful suite just a few blocks from Bourbon Street. I wish I’d had my Fitbit then because god knows I must have walked several marathons up and down the French Quarter alone in search of voodoo shops, bottomless Hurricanes, the perfect masque, and restaurants to fill TJs insatiable hunger for OYSTERRRRRRSS!!!!!

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After a couple days in the city we ventured out of the concrete jungle and into the bayou. We drove 140 miles from our hotel in the French Quarter all the way to Avery Island to visit the Mc. Ilhenny Co. aka the Tabasco factory. I may very well be addicted to Tabasco sauce so I couldn’t very well visit Tabasco’s home state without knocking on their door. We went on the Tabasco food tour, which I HIGHLY recommend. Your first meal is in the official Tabasco restaurant, and from there we hopped in a tour van with our trusty guide and drove to several parishes to try the best cuisine the region had to offer. Gumbo, jambalaya, cracklins, shrimp etouffee, boudin, andouille.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much, and so well.

Rounding out the trip was a visit to a Halloween haunted attraction, the Garden District, several small museums, several visits to Café Du Monde, a fine dining experience at The Bourbon House, the worst comedy show I have ever been to, and dozens of amazing restaurants.

I Bought my First Home

All the while I was in Louisiana getting fat and drunk, I was also in escrow. Now, whether it’s an omen or not is beyond me but I will always remember the day I closed escrow because it was on November, Friday the 13th.

This wasn’t my first real estate, but it was my first home, meaning I planned to actually live there and not have it be solely an investment property. I love my house. Earlier that spring I had been on the house hunt and ran into a series of duds and lemons. After a failed, painstaking negotiation with a previous seller, I gave the search a rest for a while. I am so glad I did because the home I ended up buying was one I had been eyeballing a year earlier. My good friend Mark Wayman saw that the sellers had lowered the price, and a couple months later it was mine.

Three little cabins on two lots, about 100 feet from and with a view of the lake, beautiful scenery all around, on a heavily treed lot. Top to bottom, I love my new home and getting the keys was one of the coolest, most exhilarating things ever.

It’s been great having friends and family come up to visit, drinking some cider and playing board games.

Georgia, and Wedding # 1

Back to South I go. Just days after I bought my house I was jet setting again, this time to the Peach State and the land of red soil for my cousin’s wedding. I don’t know what it is about the South but it’s awesome. We landed early in the morning. The Atlanta airport is a train wreck. It’s massive, and it seems like not a soul who works there knows where to find anything. Four employees pointed us in the opposite direction to the rental car lot, but fifth times a charm!

The drive from Atlanta to our destination was rainy for the first couple hours. I never knew just how big of a city Atlanta was, but there was traffic before the sun came up.

Once the sun rose it became abundantly clear how beautiful the state is. Trees, trees, and more trees as far as the eye could see. Which wasn’t that far since so many dang trees obstructed your view. I marveled at the undertaking it must have been to clear a path of trees across the state to make room for highways stretching hundreds of miles. Must have been enough lumber to last a life time, and yet couldn’t have even been a drop in the bucket.

Just like in Louisiana, there were Dollar General stores evvvvverywhere in Georgia. So at this point I am guessing this is a Southern thing.

My aunt and uncle live on this 140+ acre lot in what to me felt like the middle of nowhere. In the summers they have this big Christian summer camp complete with human hamster balls, giant water slides, a lake, baseball, capture the flag, RC planes, and some absolutely legit laser tag that looked more professional than the MILES gear we used in ROTC. Unfortunately I didn’t get to partake in these festivities but people in the South really know how to have a good time.

I did however go hunting for the first time, and that was a whole other experience itself. Read “My First Hunting Trip” to read more about that. One of our first nights in town there were hurricane warnings, flash flood warnings, and parts the town we were in had even lost power. Coming from the desert that is San Diego, a hurricane was a fun experience to cross off the bucket list. Jenny and I stayed in a summer camp bungalow in the middle of the woods, away from our relatives, which made it all the more interesting.

Georgia also has some amazing chain restaurants that I would love to have back home, including Waffle House (where believe it or not I had a bomb ass Philly cheese steak), Zaxby’s, and the Cracker Barrel store/restaurant. And if you want the largest menu of milkshakes ever, you have to find yourself a Steak ‘n Shake. Damn the south has some good eats.

Georgia was a beautiful state and I would love to go back!

Two Weeks in Ohio

October was Louisiana. November was Georgia. Now fast forward to December where I spent the first half of the month in Ohio! This time it was for a business trip for Nationwide (is on your siiiidddde). Christmas time if my favorite time of the year so I was a little bummed to miss out on a couple Christmas parties and all the festivities that go with it. But Nationwide spares no expense and they own their home hotel (yes, Nationwide Insurance owns their own hotel in Ohio) which was dressed to the nines in holiday splendor. This place was very nice. It had a sort of colonial feel to it, and the entire place was adorned with holly, and the hallways and lobbies all filled with Christmas music. Each lobby had a decked out Christmas tree, and a quaint seating area with a 24/7 fire place.

I cannot speak on behalf of Ohio, but Nationwide sure knows how to cook up some grub. We had access to a dining area and every day got breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And we’re not talking some lame ‘continental breakfast’ where you are starving after your meal. This place’s breakfast would put 94th Aero Squadron to shame. If there wasn’t a waffle station, there was an omelet station, or a crepe station. And that’s the breakfast. No joke, I think I gained 10 pounds on that trip.

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Ohio in December is f***ing cold. Remember, I’m from San Diego and have experienced a hot Christmas. Here I was inappropriately dressed for 30 degree weather, with heavy winds. My group consisted of people from neighboring states including New York, who had a laugh or two at my expense. Joe, thanks for letting me borrow your jacket buddy.

On my trip to Ohio I did a lot of good, professional tips regarding the insurance industry. But that pales in comparison to the awesome people I met on the trip. There was a ton of good food, great people, excessive drinking, boisterous laughing, and a hilarious late night, boozed conversations.

Back to San Diego!

It felt like I hadn’t been home in forever. Between all the trips out of state, hours of flying in a crammed seat, it was great to finally be back home. But December was half way over and Christmas was fast approaching so it was time to make up for lost time with interest. The day after I landed I whisked Jenny off and we bought a fake Christmas tree. Only the Charlie Brown trees were left, but we got a screaming deal on the display model – Walmart knocked off like $100. Score! I went all out with ornaments, stockings, holly, decorations, and all around Christmasness. For the next two weeks my house smelled like pine and cinnamon.

I also have an inner Martha Stewart that comes out around Christmas time and not to brag, but my decorations dominated. See pics!

Snowboarding in Big Bear

At this point, I’ve owned my house for over a month and haven’t been there once due to my chaotic schedule so Jenny and I had to set aside time to retreat to Big Bear and escape the hustle and bustle. Here’s a photo of us in front of the “Sold” sign, which I insisted my real estate agent keep up until after I had a chance to take a picture in front of it. Thanks Mark!

Hawaii

New Years came and went, and before we knew it April was here and I was jet setting yet again to another state, this time to Hawaii.

Hawaii was a blast. I had been to the state before, but only to Kauia, which felt like the Palm Springs of the Pacific because it was almost all old people and retirees. This time around we went to O’ahu and stayed in Wai Ki Ki.

Not that I normally get home sick, but when I landed in O’ahu it felt a lot like being back home in San Diego. At the time we went, the weather was absolutely perfect. Mid-80’s, super low humidity, clear skies, with only the occasional rain, usually before we woke up. Basically, perfect San Diego weather.

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Just like San Diego, O’ahu has half a dozen military bases. Tons of beaches. Lots of beautiful hiking. Snorkeling. A tourist city. It used to be part of a foreign country (the Nation of Hawaii vs Mexico), and the native population still has a huge cultural impact on the city. Every other street and community in San Diego is Spanish, and on this Pacific Island every other street was Hawaiian. I felt right at home in this city. Heck, they even had a Costco! It was like someone carved San Diego out with a knife and threw it into the middle of the Pacific.

Hawaii was just too much to fit into this blog, so I’ll put more about it later.

A Summer of Weddings

The summer of 2016 was the summer of weddings for me. I went to three weddings in three months, and was in one of them. I also went to two bachelor parties.

Bachelor Party # 1

was for my friend Brett, in April. There were a lot of faces I hadn’t seen in a long time, or seldom get to see now that adult life has taken over. It was great to catch up with old friends. We spent a couple days in Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas but one particularly funny moment was when we were hanging out in an outdoor jacuzzi when it started dumping rain. I mean pouring! I’ve never seen fifty people in bathing suits running so fast and looking so pathetic, including myself. Anders, the road trip was a lot of fun man.

Wedding # 2

was my high school buddy TJ and his now wife Jessica! Despite having been sunny the entire week prior, mother nature decided to pull a fast one and make it rain the day before the wedding. Again I was ill equipped. Thinking “oh, it’ll be sunny!” I brought surf trunks and not much warm to wear besides by suit. Luckily Big 5 has a Dickies jacket on sale, and would you believe it, liberal Santa Barbara’s Big 5 actually had no shortage of 22LR on sale? Naturally I had to buy some.

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The wedding took place in beautiful Santa Barbara in this awesome sort of Spanish villa in the middle of an open air plaza. It was super simple but incredibly fun and the weather cleared up just in time for the main event! The pre-wedding, ceremony, and rehearsal were all in the same plaza which made travel arrangements a cinch. Those who know me know that I’m not much of a dancer, but I danced my ass off at that wedding. TJ and Jessica, you guys had an awesome wedding, and who doesn’t appreciate an open bar?! You have some really cool friends, and I still need to check out your new digs!

Wedding # 3

Was for my college friend Brett and his now wife, Adriana. Besides being a ring bearer when I was four or so, this was my first time actually being in a wedding and it was a cool experience. Prior to the wedding the groom’s party had a photo shoot, and I might say, we nailed it. Taking a limo to the wedding was baller, and Brett I appreciate the custom beer mug! The scene was beautiful at Admiral Kidd conference center on base, and again, it was great to see so many old faces I hadn’t seen in years.

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Over the Line

Literally the day after Brett’s wedding I was up at 4:45 AM to get ready for Over the Line on Fiesta Island. While this isn’t a wedding or a bachelor party, it was just one more spice thrown into the mix that has been my last 12 months. You can read more about my OTL experience here.

Bachelor Party # 2

Was for my cousin Cortlen in July. Damn, this was a fun trip! Basically, we all went camping and white water rafting up outside of Sacramento in the American River (middle fork). Half of the people there were my cousins so it felt like an extended family reunion.

The drive up there and back down was long, but I had some awesome company. I picked up my cousin Kevin from Long Beach and the two of us headed up North on our adventure in the ‘X-star’. Kevin’s a Hillary supporter but we won’t hold that against him! He was an awesome road trip buddy and damn I don’t think I have laughed that hard my entire life.

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We went on some awesome hikes and found a little creek with a natural bridge created by a fallen tree, just like in the movies. There was beer pong, camping, knife and hatchet throwing competitions, exploding beer cans, and we almost saw some Hatfield and McCoy business go down between two of the ‘resident campers’.

Rafting was another story altogether! You’d have to do it for yourself to get it, but it was a lot of fun rafting with my cousins and we have some cool pics to show of it.

Anthony, you did a great job orchestrating the entire trip.

Wedding # 4

Was for my cousin Cortlen. This time the wedding was all the way up on Monterey. Another long haul back on the road, this time in the Subie. The ceremony was at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands and had a beautiful view overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Big Sur Coast. The view, magnifique! It’d been a year since I was in Monterey and I had forgotten the natural beauty of the area.

The ceremony was quick and beautiful, and Cortlen and Ally, I am so happy for you guys! Sorry we couldn’t chat more but I know there were a ton of guests you had to make the rounds to.

We spent the first night at a hotel, and the second night at a VRBO type thing with some relatives and that’s where the fun was. We had the staples of any good time, good food, good company, and good alcohol. I learned Mexican dominoes and another game I really enjoyed called Linkee. Imagine “Taboo”, but with a twist. My sister and I were on the same team, Team Awesome, and naturally we were victorious.

The ride down was a lot of fun. My mom, dad, brother and sister drove up together and the six of us hop scotched on the way south at a number of wineries and wine tasting rooms including Eberle winery and a tour of their massive, underground wine cave.

In the last 12 months I have done a lot. At one point I had been to six states in six months. At other point I had been to three weddings in three months. In total I have been to four weddings, been in one wedding, been to two bachelor parties, and traveled lord knows how many tens of thousands of miles by foot, car, boat, and plane. I’ve bought a home (three homes actually!). I’ve made some amazing new friends and reconnected with dozens of old friends and relatives I hadn’t seen in ages. I’ve eaten some amazing food, drank some incredible wine, and brewed some good beer. I feel like I have made great strides professionally, personally, and physically.

I truly am blessed to have such amazing friends, and such an amazing family. Growing older doesn’t come without it’s downfalls, and one that I’ve grappled with for the past couple years has been the difficulty in keeping up with friends and family as we all grow older and get stuck in the rhythm of our daily grinds. But growing older is also a privilege not everyone gets to enjoy. While I have lost contact with a number of friends over the years, it makes me appreciate all the more the relationships that are still very much alive.

The holidays are fast approaching and I am excited for them, and equally excited to see what 2017 and the next 12 months have in store for Jenny and me.

To all of my amazing friends out there, you know who you are. Thank you for being a part of my life, and Jenny’s life. For all the great memories, all the fun stories, all the late nights, and early mornings. For all the long drives, and funny moments gone in an instant. For all the good food, good drinks, and good times, I am incredibly grateful.

I love you all and am happy to have you in my life.

The US Postal Service Sucks

People talk shit about everything. Go on yelp and there is usually no shortage of bad reviews about every business under the sun. Well for most of my life the USPS has actually done a pretty decent job. I’ve very rarely ever had problems with sending or receiving mail.

However in the past three weeks I’ve experienced quite a few problems with the USPS. I don’t know if this is a temporary set back because of internal changes, or if it’s always been shitty and I somehow managed to skate by without any problems all this time.

Returned Mail

In the past week alone, I have had five separate people tell me that mail they sent to me was returned back to them. In each case the the sender emailed me a photo of the returned mail and I was able to verify that they had my name/business name correct, and my mailing address correct, along with proper postage.  FIVE times.

Black Hole Mail

About two weeks ago I placed two orders from the same online vendor within 3 days of each other. The vendor confirmed both orders had been shipped out.

I got one delivered on Monday, September 19.

It has now been a week, and the second package is not yet here. It is entered the USPS black hole of mail.

Torn Open Mail

In the past month, I have had three separate pieces of mail that were torn open. Not open, like as if my the hands of another person rifling through my mail. I mean TORN open as if by a machine, maybe one of their processing machines.

One of them looks like the envelop was run through a paper shredder and then saved at the last minute. The envelop and the contents of the envelop were torn in half. The USPS had to repackage the envelop and contents within a plastic pouch. One of the ‘packages’ had shreds of the document mailed to me, as well as pieces of a personal check that was not intended for me – meaning someone else’ mail also got torn in half, and not knowing which documents/pieces of documents went to who, the USPS gave me someone  else’ check.

The check was unreadable so I cannot ascertain who was supposed to have received it, but someone else out there got half a check they won’t be able to deposit.

Employees that barely speak English

The icing on the cake today was that I came to the office and had three voicemails/emails from over the weekend from various people concerned about the undelivered mail they got bounced back to them.

1 times a fluke, and maybe even 2, but 5 times in about a week is a fucking epidemic. So I called the USPS to bring the issue up. I requested the call back service as opposed to waiting on hold for 45 minutes like the queue said it would be.

To their credit I did get a call back within about an hour, but the laughable aspect of it was that the employee clearly didn’t speak English very well. We are a country of immigrants and English is understandably not everyone’s first language. But it does seem prudent to me that the USPS and other government agencies would hire people who speak the de facto official language of the country.

Go home USPS, you’re drunk.

Childhood Animal Drawings and Sketches

I used to draw A LOT when I was younger. Rough sketches, finished drawings, pastels, chalk, charcoal, paint. I just loved it. I was digging through some old notepads that were buried in my garage and found some old art work from circa 1998-1999. Several of these are of pets I had as a kid, including Hazey, Getty (the German Shepherd I had years before Major), Kody, Pearl, and Lilly. Thanks for viewing!

 

Internet of Stings

I’ll be 100% honest that sometimes I really contemplate whether or not I should write a blog or talk about a certain issue because of the blow back I’ll get. I consider myself a pretty outspoken person or at least I once was, meaning I would just say what came to mind and not really give a damn what people thought. It’s still true today I supposed, but to a lesser extent.

By no means am I a professional blogger. I do this as a sort of hobby and I’ll be lucky if seven people actually read this blog entry. Maybe I’ve mellowed out a bit. Maybe I don’t have time. Or maybe I’ve learned that people can just be really fucking vicious to others for no particularly good reason, and I’m not particularly fond of being on the receiving end of the viciousness.

It’s almost as if certain people get off on making it known that “I think you’re a total idiot and let me tell you why!” Their lives revolve around shooting other people down when they get that cloud 9 going. Take the scenic route of any article on any media outlet website and direct yourself to the comments section. Find some political post your friend posted on Facebook and look at the comments. You want to see hate? The shit people say to each other in the comments section of the internet is pure horror. It doesn’t seem to matter the subject either. Politics and religion are bound to brew up some good old fashioned shit storms. Sports too. But it seems as if everything is such a controversy. Go to a hiking website, a medical website, a work out website, a diet forum, pick a card any card.

The internet isn’t some abstract thing. It’s literally just a bunch of computers tied together and the shit people say online is just the same crazy shit they think to themselves. It just makes it easier for them to spread their thoughts to more people, over a wider area than they could do by say… posting fliers at the local bus stop.

There is something very peculiar about the internet and the way people behave on it though. I feel like in real life (ie, when not staring at a screen) almost any two people can get along. I feel like online, any two people can become the worst versions of themselves and verbally rip each other to pieces. Interestingly it’s not the viewpoints that surprise me (though, admittedly some people do think and say some crazzzzzzzy stuff), but rather how quickly a civil conversation and devolve into a verbal pissing match.

Headline reads “Man Loses Hand in Garbage Disposal” and just give it a few minutes for someone to say “what an idiot, he must have voted for ______” even though it’s not remotely political. And they’re off! Before you know it, people are being the worst of themselves, spending hours and hours of their finite lives trying to verbally skewer their online (and often unknown) opponent.

I’m not saying the internet invented stupidity or rudeness, or that it even amplifies it. The internet just exposed the stupidity, incivility, and vanity that already exists in all of us. This isn’t even so much a blog about the internet, as much as it is how my blogging and internet surfing experiences have led me to see just how much hostility people harbor towards others in general.

Everything is quick to become an us-v-them situation. Whites vs blacks. Democrats vs Republicans. Football vs soccer. Rich vs poor. My team vs your team. My preference vs your preference. God forbid you enjoy different food than I do, fucker. I really do love people. I pity them. And to an extent I fear them. But I love them. And again, I feel like any two people, two individuals, can get along. But man, when we’re in groups, we can be monsters. There’s some kind of inverse correlation between the combined IQ of the members of a group, and their exhibited intelligence.

We’re so quick to hate each other. To insult each other. To name call, belittle, and argue with each other. We just have to get our jabs in. Leave no disagreeable opinion unopposed. We’ll tear into a complete stranger. Worse… we’ll tear into someone we know and care about. This isn’t directed at any one specifically. Observe and report, and this was just the inevitable reporting byproduct of years of observing. All the calamity in the news and on social media lately prompted this. The hostility at one point veering me away from having an online presence as I know it has for others. I was very surprised that following some of my recent posts, a good number of friends privately messaged me with their thoughts and input (all civil, thank you!) perhaps because they didn’t want to get tangled up in the online brawl that happens all too often.

I don’t have a proposal. I don’t have a point I’m slowly working towards. No moral to the story. I don’t have a goal for writing this other than to vent my frustrations. A long winded sigh of relief, in a sense.

I know I don’t write as frequently as I should, and my writing aint exactly Oscar Wilde, so give yourself a nice pat on the back if you’ve read this far. Thank you for hearing me out and thank you for continuing to read my blog. And for the occasional verbal spar.

Colin Kaepernick is… not necessarily unpatriotic

You’ve no doubt seen the deadlines lately. Long story short Colin Kaepernick didn’t stand up during the National Anthem because reasons and now everyone is in a big stink over it. I say reasons instead of actually providing a description because I don’t want to misrepresent what it is CK is protesting or oversimplify his thoughts on the issue. I’m not too big on the whole BLM thing so I would probably do it a disservice, but if I had to sum it up, he’s protesting police brutality and systemic oppression of black people in America.

People are calling him unpatriotic, and calling for him to be kicked off the team, and demanding things from the NFL, and the laundry list of usual demands that Americans of all stripes are quick to shout out over every single perceived slight.

People got mad when that crazy BLM supporter killed a bunch of police officers, and rightfully so. It was horrible.

People get mad when BLM supporters riot in the streets and burn shit down and vandalize communities because it’s idiotic and destructive.

People get mad when BLM supporters shut down a free way to make a point like they did on the 15 freeway in San Diego just a few weeks ago.

But Kaepernick didn’t do any of this. He didn’t kill anyone, didn’t injure anyone, didn’t destroy any property, and didn’t inconvenience anyone. He didn’t stand on a flag, burn a flag, defile a flag. He didn’t even hang one upside down. All he did was… well, nothing. He’s getting flak for not doing something. All the stupid shit BLM and cohorts have done in the past year or so that pisses everyone off – Kaepernick didn’t do.

So I honestly feel like this is people grasping at straws, trying to make something out of nothing. Anyone that knows me knows I’m not on the BLM bandwagon, but let’s be real here. This fervor over Kaepernick is about frustration over not being able to silence dissenting opinions and actions.

It’s easy to dismiss BLM and it’s supporters when they do stupid shit like the burn down buildings. But it’s much harder to brush it aside when they aren’t being unruly. It’s as if people thought that the only way BLM could possibly get attention to their cause was to act like idiots, and now someone comes along and doesn’t do anything illegal or violent and still manages to draw attention to the issue on a national level. Touché. Kaepernick scored a hit and there really isn’t anything to be said about it. Nothing legitimate anyway.

In the absence of any complaints of merit, Colin’s critics have gone with the low blow insult of being unpatriotic. The left has their own list of low blow, cry wolf insults like accusing someone of being racist, or homophobic, or a bigot, or xenophobic. I’ve heard it all, been called it all. And the right has just dusted off their nuclear insult, the brand of being unpatriotic. Easy to hurl, hard to catch, it’s the perfect weapon of choice as a last ditch effort when all else has failed.

The objective of such an insult isn’t to get Kaepernick to find a more constructive way of expressing his opinions. At this point, it’s intended to just shut him up. The proof is in the pudding. He’s a quarterback for an NFL team, so now people are demanding he be fired so that they can take away his podium to silence him on an issue they hope to sweep under the rug quietly.

To many, the National Anthem, or the American Flag are symbols of America. But before we get mad about this, lets stop and thing about what these things really symbolize, and what Colin is protesting.

I won’t go all philosophical on you. I’ll go literal on you. America isn’t just one thing. America is a million things. American is the country. America is the people. America is the land. America is the government. America is our senators and congressmen. America is our president. America is the constitution. America is our military. America is our tax payers. America is our culture. And America is our systems. See what I mean?

I love our troops, I love our police and firefighters, but I sure don’t have many nice words for the people on Capitol Hill.

I love our constitution, but I don’t have an IRS flag waving in my front yard.

When you look at it from a different angle, it’s easy to see how you can love this country so much, but also be fed up by certain parts of it.

Anyone who says that Colin Kaepernick was disrespecting the armed services is being disingenuous because you know for fact that’s not what he meant. He has a very specific grievance against once aspect of this great country and he protested in the most polite, effective way he could think to do. I don’t advocate for BLM but if anyone can name even one way he could have expressed his feelings as effectively that wouldn’t have pissed everyone and their mom off, I would honestly be interested in hearing it. I mean really. What would you have the guy do? Something entirely useless like change his Facebook profile picture and share an angry post? Write a blog? Tweet something?

My dad served in the military for 20 years. Three of my grandpas served in the military and fought in several wars. I have an uncle in the Border Patrol. I have countless friends, and childhood mentors who were in the service. If I honestly thought that what Kaepernick did was an offense to those loved ones of mine, I wouldn’t be defending him. But here I am.

I’m not gonna offer up some moral equivalency argument “well if you think that’s unpatriotic, then you should be even more upset about the blah blah blah statistic from wikipedia blah blah”. Because again, I don’t entirely see eye to eye with Kaepernick on the issue he’s protesting, so I’m not defending his position of protest, just defending the way he’s protesting.

Let me share with you a true story. A couple years ago I was driving through my neighborhood as part of my then regular route, and I saw an American flag waving from a flag pole… upside down. I thought it was weird and it certainly caught my attention. I drove by the house again the next day, and the flag was still upside down. Day after day I drive past this house and each day, the flag is upside down. But at night, the flag is taken down and the pole sits idle and bare.

Finally after about a week, I was curious so rather than drive past the house, this time I drove to it. I parked my car and walked up the driveway towards the front door of a very pretty house in this nice, serine suburban neighborhood.  A car was parked in the driveway with a Marine Corp sticker on the back window. Odd. I knock on the door and sure enough someone answers. The door slowly opens to reveal a senior freakin’ citizen. Not the 22 year old, zulu plug adorned college kid with a Che Guevara t-shirt I would have suspected. No, it was some 70 year old white guy in khakis and a tucked in polo shirt. I ask the guy what’s up with the flag and if he knew that it was upside down. He explains that he was unhappy with the direction the country was going in, and had turned the flag upside down as a sign of protest. He told me about having served in the Marines, and we chatted for about 10 minutes about politics and things we’d heard about on the news. Hmm. Here was this old, white, conservative, veteran, male hanging the flag upside down in a conservative neighborhood as a sign of distress for the condition of our country. Who would have thought? I thanked him for his time, (naturally handed him a business card,) and went on about my way and that was that.

It never once occurred to me this man was unpatriotic or hated America or was disrespecting the police or our armed forces. And I don’t see how what Colin Kaepernick did the other day was any different.

Over the Line San Diego 2016

This post is a couple weeks late. Sue me. I have a series of better-late-than-never posts I’ll be blasting out this week, some going as far back as last October, and take it mind it is now the following August. Derp.

I’ve gone to OTL (Over the Line) a few times before but this was the first time I have ever actually played in the official event on Fiesta Island.

For those of you not from San Diego, if I had to explain OTL or Over the Line in a nutshell, it’s basically poor man’s baseball, played on the sand, with a smaller field, just 3 players per team, and with no gloves.  Your own teammate pitches you a ball, which you then attempt to hit over the line to get “a man on base”. Hit the ball over the last fielder’s head fora home run. For the official rules in all their splendor, go yonder.

Now, that’s just the official part. The cultural part, or the uniquely San Diegan part of the sport that makes participating so much fun is the drinking involved, the decked out wagons, and the outfits. But best of all are the outrageous team names people give themselves which are so vulgar, raunchy, and hilarious it makes Deadpool pale by comparison.

Horrible View ;)
Horrible View 😉

I had the honor of being asked by my good friends Brett and Ryan to play on their team this year when a spot opened up, and our team name was “Any Hole’s a Goal”. Which is true. However this was Disney-rated compared to some of the other team names out there. Most memorable to me were:

  • HA HA HA I gave you AIDS
  • If everyone has herpes it’s like no one has herpes
  • That’s not bird shit in your wife’s hair

You can’t make this shit up. Well, I can’t. But San Diego is clearly home to some of the funniest people in the world. It’s what makes us American’s finest city.

I’ll be honest, I was super nervous about playing. For one, I suck at sports. Yeah, I can just admit it. I didn’t play a whole lot of sports growing up and to this day I can hardly make contact with a golf ball to save my life. So a week before the event we had ‘team practice’. They say you’re supposed to practice the way you play, so naturally the three of us had to bring a couple dozen beers. After straight up missing the ball like 10 times I finally made contact and from there it was like riding a bike. I wasn’t gonna Mark McGwire anything out of the park but I could consistently get the ball over the line and away from fielders. Good enough. Hey, any hole’s a goal, right?

A couple possibly broken fingers later and I think we were all ready to dominate next Sunday.

Well next Saturday I had a wedding. Not only that I was in the wedding, so I was in for a long haul. I had to walk that fine line between getting trashed at a wedding and not drinking so much I couldn’t wake up at 4:50am the next morning to drag my ass to the playing field. I managed.

So… how did we do? We dominated! No we didn’t. We lost 2 for 2 but we sure as hell went down swinging. I think our first game we lost by one point, something like 4-5. And… I won’t even share the score for our second game.

But either way I had a blast. I would definitely do it again, and I even have some ideas for a kick ass OTL wagon I want to get started on for next year. Brett and Ryan, thanks for the invite! Looking forward to OTL 2017!

BTW, I realize I have no photos of our actual team on here. We suck at taking pictures. Will try to see if anyone else took any and add later!

Instant Karma and Workplace Ethics

This isn’t my usual post where I write about some landmark event like a holiday, a political rally, a horrendous tragedy, momentous occurrence, or an amazing movie. This is purely reactionary to something that happened in the past week or so at work, and got wrapped up today.

I am an independent insurance agent and have been for a number of years now. Love my job, all that good stuff. All (literally, all) of my business is referral based and I pride myself on having close relationships with each of my clients. Despite having over a thousand clients, I know most of them by name, and I feel like they are in a sense, extended family of me and the agency.

In the industry, it is possible for policyholders (clients) to change their agent without changing their policy or company if they are satisfied with their insurance, but not satisfied with their agent.

About a week ago I got a notice from one of my companies that one such client has requested to change from me to another agent. I was of course a little upset, but I was more surprised than anything else because I know this client pretty well and we hit it off when I started his insurance. To the best of my knowledge this client hadn’t had any bad experiences, claims, or anything else that would explain migrating the policy away from my agency. I was stumped.

Not one to over react, I really calmly phoned my client to inquire if I had done something wrong, or just generally ask why the policy was being moved. Since these types of changes can only be done with the clients signature on a very specific form, I assumed it had to be a deliberate action.

I’m glad I called my client. Turns out, the client didn’t know that he done anything to move the policy away from our agency, and he seemed as surprised as I was to find out that had happened. He then recalled having spoken to his other agent who insures some of his other properties, and that he has been given a bunch of forms to sign. Not knowing any better, and trusting his agent as one should, he signed the forms not thinking anything of it. Turns out, his agent had slipped this form in to have my policy moved to him – without telling the client.

Long story short, after a few pleasant phone calls with my client, not only is he going to keep the original policy with me, but he was very displeased with the lack of professionalism of the other agent, and has insisted that he move all of his other policies to me. Oh, and apparently he owns a boat he wants insurance for too. Woohoo!

This was a huge relief for me for a couple reasons and even though I didn’t do anything wrong, was also a very good learning experience for me as well.

First and most importantly, the experience reinforced my rule of not jumping to conclusions. At first glance I thought that despite spending quality time getting my client’s insurance in place he had decided to abandon ship on me. I am glad that I didn’t act on this suspicion and first let the client explain his side. Some times, the obvious explanation is wrong.

The instant karma of the other agent was a little bit of a consolation prize. The benefit to me wasn’t so much that I got more policies out of the ordeal, because had everyone acted appropriately I would have only had – and been content with – the one policy. In a world where it seems that being lazy and unethical often gets rewarded and rarely punished, it’s nice to get cosmic reassurance that the reverse is true, and that being honest and hardworking does have it’s benefits.

For those of you reading this who know in your heart of hearts you are a good person. An honest person. A person of integrity. A hardworking person. Keep it up! Your efforts are not in vain. Your good deeds and your solid work ethic is contagious and an inspiration to the people around to you. Your friends, your spouse, your coworkers, your kids, random onlookers will take note of your actions, and emulate them.

Game of Thrones Season Six Finale Review

SPOILER ALERT

The Game of Thrones season six finale raised just as many questions as it answered. Where one door closed, another was opened. While audiences everywhere breathe a collective sigh of relief over long overdue grievances finally being settled, we reel in anticipation of what is to come next season.

The annihilation of House Tyrell, the unification of the North, the destruction of the Great Sept, Bran Stark finally assuming the role of the three-eyed raven, the slaughter of the faith militant, and Daenerys finally setting sail for Westeros, army, dragons n’ all. And we finally got confirmation of what we all already suspected was the case – that Jon Snow is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Many a reign have ended. Many a feuds have been settled. But bad blood has been created that may shift the tides of power.

The Age of Women

In previous seasons of GOT there was a strong theme of the young replacing the old. We’ve seen Rob Stark assume the head of House Stark and ultimately be declared the King of the North. We’ve seen Jon Snow become the leader of the Night’s Watch. We’ve seen Geoffrey claim the throne previously held by his father Robert. The ancient Greek story of Cronus devouring his father Uranus has been a recurring theme as well, with Ramsey Bolton killing his father Roose Bolton, Tyrion killing Tywin, and Euron Greyjoy killing Balon Greyjoy.

Now, we enter The Age of Women. Cersei Lannister is now the Queen of Westeros, and arguably the head of House Lannister. Olenna Tyrell is the head of House Tyrell. Ellaria Sand rules Dorne. And of course let’s not forget Daenerys Targaryen commands an army of unsullied, Dothraki, the Second Sons, a massive fleet of ships, and drumroll… three dragons. Sansa Stark has done quite well for herself, outliving her enemies and managing to take back Winterfell. Arya Stark is making a name- er… lack thereof? for herself and has crossed quite a few names off her list. Brienne of Tarth is the most trusted confident of several high ranking persons. But perhaps my favorite character of Womandom and certainly the most worthy of admiration is the young, thunderous Lyanna Mormont. This girl is going places. Her stature inversely corresponds to the respect she commands. Her age inversely corresponds to her wisdom. And let’s just be real: Lyanna Mormont is a badass.

Cersei Unchained

My better half noticed that Cersei is also not adorned with the usual Lannister gold. Neither does she appear ravishing, per her norm. Instead her attire strikes a more stern, and militaristic look. Besides her cheekbones (did you catch that reference?), Cersei only had one redeeming trait and that was the love she had for her children. The only thing that kept Cersei in check in the earlier seasons was her concern for her children. Acting too hastily could jeopardize the wellbeing of her children. Now husbandless, fatherless, and childless, Cersei no longer has any moral restraints towards violence and doing anything to acquire and keep power. I am interested, and worried to see what Cersei unchained is capable of.

The North United

This was the biggest highlight of the episode to me. It was a long time coming when Jon Snow and Sansa Stark finally met each other once again. Then came the battle for Winterfell, after an unsuccessful wooing of other houses. But now the day has finally come when a wolf flag flutters over the turrets of Winterfell, and one by one the Northern houses are falling into line, pledging their loyalty. And we know that Bran is but a stone’s throw away, and even Arya is now back in Westeros and ready for action. We’ve never had so many Starks in such close proximity and in such good standing since the first season. This to me is so great because Game of Thrones rarely rewards Team Stark with good news.

From the crippling of Bran Stark, the beheading of Ned Stark, to the Red Wedding, to the rape of Sansa Stark, the blinding of Arya Stark, to the betrayal and murder of Jon Snow, the Stark family has had a very hard run. Nothing has come easy for them. But the one thing we can take from this is that the Starks are hard sons of bitches. They don’t go down easy. Despite their humble demeanors, the Starks are to be reckoned with and it is very nice to finally get a taste of justice.

Starks United Against No Enemy

I’ll always be Team Stark and though they aren’t jousting for the Iron throne I do hope they deliver one hell of an ass kicking. Except that there isn’t really any living ass to kick. Ned Stark was killed by Geoffrey who is dead. Rickon Stark was killed by Ramsey Bolton, who is dead. Anyone who was once captured and worth saving is now dead. The Starks are united now, but against who? I suppose against the white walkers but I feel like delivering an ass whooping to a bunch of snow zombies just doesn’t have the same appeal as say, killing a bunch of Lannisters would. When God gives you lemons, I guess…

Perhaps the Starks could rally and retake Riverrun, the ancestral home of their mother.

Whichever direction the wolves point their fangs, I hope to see Bran and Arya get back into the fold. Imagine the powerhouse of having John Snow, King of the North, leader of the Freefolk, and technically still commander of the Night’s Watch, teamed up with the now savvy Sansa Stark, along with Bran the mind-controlling warg / omniscient raven, and Arya the ruthless assassin who can change faces. They would be an unstoppable force that could rain down vengeance on their enemies. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. But with Daenerys and her dragons coming, Bran might want to practice warging out on something a little larger than Hodor…

Redemption of Theon

What I love about this show is that you can really like a character and then have them do something you totally disagree with. Good people that do bad things. Bad people that do good things or have the occasionally pearl of wisdom. The story is full of multilayered characters that are complex and ever evolving. Theon Greyjoy is one such character. Theon was not a prominent character in the season finale, it even season six, but I felt he deserved an honorable mention. Despite some seriously bad decisions (chiefly, groping his own sister), I really like the guy. He betrayed the Starks, yes, but life also dealt him a Karmic blow and he has since atoned for his sins. Despite everything thrown against him, Theon has also managed to push through. Perhaps being raised with the Starks rubbed off on him, and that tenacity that makes Starks so hard to kill is part of Theon’s character as well. Deep down, I think Theon always considered himself a Stark, and he knows now that he made a horrible mistake when he betrayed them. I am curious to see how his story unfolds, and if he ever officially redeems himself in the eyes of the Starks.

I Love Daenerys Targaryen…’s Entourage

I’ll just come out and say it. Dany’s is okay. She’s okay. She’s not awesome. I don’t hate her. But I don’t love her either. But you know what I always have loved? Her entourage! Say what you will about Dany, the girl keeps some good company.

Khal Drogo was a beast! That guys knew how to fight and I wish we got to see him past the first season. Jorah Mormont is an intriguing character who would go to hell and back for Dany, even after being banished by her twice and contracting greyscale. Sir Barristan Selmy, former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, traveled half the known world to serve Dany and give the figurative bird to the Lannisters and he too could throw down. Then we have Greyworm, the leader of the unsullied who can kill two men with one swing of the dagger. Then we have the gorgeous Missandei who speaks like a million languages. And then we have Daario Naharis, leader of the Second Sons. A man who is so bad ass he can kill a charging horse with a quick throw of a knife and kill a man on horseback without breaking a sweat. Also in Dany’s ensemble are three fire breathing dragons. And of course let’s not forget the latest addition to Dany’s ever impressive cast – Tyrion Motherf**king Lannister.

While there are a great many characters in Game of Thrones, I think it is safe to say that Dany doesn’t make that list – at least not without her entourage.

Finale the Highlight of Season Six

It’s my humble opinion that season six has been the slowest, and dullest of most of the seasons. Blasphemy, I know. Not that I thought S6 was bad, but prior to it I thought every season was progressively better than the one preceding it. Season six to me seemed to flounder and stagnate. The last two (or few) episodes salvaged the season for me.

Had it not been for Jon Snow kicking the shit out of Ramsey Bolton the entire thing would have been a miss for me. I don’t know which made me happier: Geoffrey pathetically choking and spurting to death in front of his own mom, or John Snow beating Ramsey Bolton half to death with a shield and his bare hands only to then have his face mauled off by his own dogs as Sansa smugged.

Lyanna Mormont spearheading the North’s rally around Jon Snow as the rightful King of the North was another show stopper to me. I am completely done in by Lyanna Mormont. She sold the season finale and season seven will not be worthy without her. I sincerely hope we get to see more of this little titan in future episodes.

Although Cersei is not one of my favorite characters by any stretch, I was delighted to see her enact vengeance against the High Septon and faith militant. I just really dislike that guy. You’d think because I dislike Cersei, and the High Sparrow basically tortured her and then parading her through the streets naked and humiliated that I would consider him the enemy of my enemy. But I suppose my disdain for religious zealotry overshadows it, and it did please me so to see him blown to green smithereens… even if… ya know… Cersei also killed everyone else in town.

All said and done, season six was a success. While not as fast as I would have liked – it took about 3 episodes to really get some traction – it was thoroughly enjoyable and tied up a lot of the loose ends we had on the heels of season five. Season six was maaaaaarginally better than season five and to me it was the finale and pre-finale that pushed me over the edge. And now we have to wait nine excruciatingly horrible months for season seven.

Will Dany’s ships land safely in Westeros? Will the North be able to fend off the army of white walkers at their door? Will Cersei go bat shit crazy and kill everyone? Will Samwell Tarly figure out how to make Valyrian steel? Will Bran and Arya ever team back up with their siblings? Will Sandor Clegane find peace? Will Theon Greyjoy find redemption? Will Jorah Mormont find a cure? Will Jon Snow learn who his parents are and fight for his rightful place on the Iron Throne?

Many questions abound. But we now know one thing for certain.

Winter is here.

Orlando Shooting: Afterthoughts and Next Steps

It goes without saying that the recent shooting terrorist attack in Orlando was a horrible event to be condemned, and that everyone prays for the victims and their families. This unfortunately has been said many times following such events. My goal here is not to offer my heart on my sleeve. It happened, it was horrible, I cried, I prayed… and now what? Where do we as Americans go from here? What can we learn from this event and others like it before?

While the attack took place at an LGBT nightclub, it is my opinion that we all remember this was not simply an attack on homosexuals or transgendered people. It would be insulting to pigeon hole the victims into such narrow definitions. The victims may have very well been targeted because of their sexual orientation or lifestyle, but it is important to remember that above all else, they were people. Gay, straight, blue, purple, American or foreign, dozens of people were slaughtered, and everyone should feel that pain in their hearts.

I think this is one of the areas where Americans of any political leaning can find some common ground, and yet this has become a politicized issue. You’ll be hard pressed to find any pro-2nd amendment American who isn’t thoroughly frustrated that this man was able to legally purchase firearms. Who wouldn’t be? Here’s a man that was investigated by the FBI not just once, but twice, and as far back as 2013; three years before the shooting, and yet was somehow able to obtain firearms. I’m pro-gun and that pisses me off! This wasn’t a failure of laws. This was a failure of law enforcement. Myriad laws are already on the books that should have kept this man from getting his hands on firearms. How he was able to pass a background check to get a firearm, much less a job as a security guard for federal buildings should leave every American angered.

As is the case with any horrible events, people are desperate for answers, and we’re equally anxious to cast blame on someone, something, anything. I’m conservative but I certainly don’t blame liberals or democrats for this. I don’t blame guns for this. I don’t blame the gun store who sold the firearms for this. Despite a lot of anger directed towards the FBI, I actually do not blame them for this either. Individually, it seems as though every cog in the machine did what it was supposed to do. The problem isn’t that we don’t have systems in place to identify red flags, but that the various systems we entrust with our safety are not properly integrated well enough to allow us to act on those red flags.

Take for example a fax machine. One fax machine may indeed work very well; scan, print, and fax like it ought to. Another fax machine may be equally up to task. However, without a phone cord between them – a medium of communication – each fax machine is an island and functionally useless. What we have observed the hard way, through trial and error, and with blood, is that despite admittedly competent law enforcement agencies and well-intentioned laws, the integration of our various systems, architectures, and law enforcement agencies is sorely insufficient.

The war on terror is different than any war before it. Our military with all its might is all but useless in our fight against domestic terrorism. Stealth bombers, drones, sonar, radar, satellites, tanks, submarines cannot help us detect or stop homegrown or domestic terrorism. Stopping these attacks is not a matter of weeks, months, and years. It is now a matter of days, hours, and minutes. We have precious little time to prevent these attacks between the moment a flag is raised and the moment of an attack. As such, the need for agile and robust communication between law enforcement agencies and other interested parties should be priority number one. The emphasis is not so much on building up our law enforcement, as much as it is integrating it.

This is also not a time for political posturing. In fact, this is a politically humbling experience for both camps and that is because this attack crushed a lot of the narratives both sides habitually espouse and cling to. Omar Mateen was U.S. born, and seemingly self-radicalized, unraveling the narrative of terrorism being the byproduct solely of U.S. intervention in foreign, predominantly Muslim nations. Omar Mateen never having been exposed to the crisis of the middle east was purely motivated by religion, not personal experiences or losses. Given the discovery that he attended a mosque that was also frequented by another known Islamic terrorist, the threat of Islamizing mosques here in the states can no longer be ignored. It is entirely possible, and even plausible, that mosques in the United States are promoting hatred and propagating anti-US sentiment to the point of violent extremism. Omar Mateen was also able to purchase guns through all but legal channels, albeit illicitly and under the nose of law enforcement, lending credence to the argument that although the gun laws might be sufficiently strict, enforcement of said laws is clearly lacking.

After the Boston Marathon bombing, and the San Bernardino shooting, I thought to myself there was just no way that none of the attackers’ close friends or family members had any idea that they were up to no good. In light of the Orlando terrorist attack, we learned that someone did in fact know Omar Mateen was planning an attack – his wife. And despite the fact that she knew and supposedly tried to talk him out of it, she wasn’t so inclined as to notify law enforcement about it. This is a chilling, and telling fact about certain communities. People close to homegrown terrorists probably are aware, but reluctant to share. It’s too early to make any generalizing statements, but the U.S. might not have as staunch an ally in the broader U.S. Muslim community as we would hope.

For those on the political left, it is now time to acknowledge that surveillance and tighter scrutiny of Muslim communities in the U.S. might be our safest bet, even if it seems discriminatory. Political correctness may need to take a back seat to pragmatism.

For those on the political right, we need to apply our efforts to promoting law enforcement practices that crack down on illicit gun use and trafficking. The NRA through its active membership carries a lot of political weight. Gun owners need to use that influence to affect the changes in our government that is needed to prevent blatant mistakes like this from happening. Yes, that means pro-gun people need to push for law enforcement to crack down on ill-advised gun sales.

This is where waiting periods for firearms can actually be a blessing. A waiting period could allow the FBI ample time to cross check would-be gun purchasers with various criminal databases, suspected terrorists, and people on various watch lists.  If a flag is raised, the FBI can then alert and coordinate with other agencies and the gun store to monitor or even apprehend the buyer at the time of purchase/pick-up. Doing so may not have any measurable impact on preventing crime or terrorism, and extending this olive branch may not dissuade the anti-gun crusade of the left, but it might, and it would not place any noticeable inconvenience on lawful gun owners.

While gun ownership is getting some heat at the moment, the truth is that an armed and vigilante populace is still one of the safest hedges against domestic terrorism and violent crime. Gun owners in free states who choose to carry in public have the burden and responsibility of staying vigilant to resist attacks that may spring up. I applaud you, and wish that I too was able to legally join you here in California. May you never have to use your firearm to defend yourself, but God speed if you are forced to. We’ve witness how devastating a simple attack can be, and the sad fact is that we will likely see more of these attacks spring up in the near future, with shorter hiatuses between each subsequent attack as would-be attackers are made more brazen by the tragedy they see unfold on the news.

Let us all remember that we will find strength in unity. Generosity to a stranger can create a friend. The good deeds we plant today, will bear fruit tomorrow. We are fortunate to have thousands of men and women working diligently across the country as law enforcement, military, paramedics, firefighters and other first responders. Let us not make their jobs any more difficult for them, so please practice civility, responsibility, and caution in your everyday lives. Be courteous, be peaceful, be safe, and be smart. Firefighters have better things to do that pull you out of a car that you wrapped around a tree because you were driving recklessly. Police have better things to do than respond to a noise complaint. We must all do our part, however small, however tedious, however seemingly trivial, if we are to pull through these trying times as a nation united. It’s a bumpy road ahead, and we won’t make it on three tires.

Sane rantings from an insane dude.