Why I Own Guns.

"Why the fuck are you making so much noise?"

It was about 9 AM as I answered the door to hear my neighbor bluntly ask me this very question.

It was about 15 years ago and I just moved to a duplex. A new job took me to a far away place, one I was unfamiliar with and my wife and I knew very little about the area or the people. We met our neighbor before, briefly, and simply exchanged "hellos" and some small talk. He was an older guy, mid to late 40s. Short but broad shoulders and quite built for his age. Without knowing him hardly at all, we didn't necessarily know what to expect but since be we all engaged in a short introduction he didn't seem unfriendly. Nor did he initially raise any red flags...until now. 

I stood there at the door, perplexed.

None of us were being particularly loud. The TV was quiet, no music was on, other than occasional walking throughout the living room there was virtually no noise. I wasn't entirely sure if he was mistaken but I figured I'd just try and brush it off and maybe he was having a bad day and this would be an isolated instance.

The neighbor continued standing there in my doorway, waiting for my response. His eyes were fixated on me. A genuinely crazy stare. His left eye angrily squinted, while the right eye conversely was wide open. I finally mouthed a quick apology and told him we didn't realize we were being loud in anyway. He simply walked off, without saying a word.

Unfortunately for us, we quickly learned every day for him was a bad day and this was not an isolated event. In fact, many more occurred. It ranged from more of these seemingly insane complaints that our quiet adjoining apartment was making too much noise, to all sorts of petty nonsense - The trash can shouldn't be there. Don't park your car there. Your grill is too close to the house.

It was official, we just moved next to our first certifiably batshit crazy neighbor from hell.

We immediately knew this wasn't going to work as a living arrangement. The guy was nuts, an asshole, confrontational, petty and short fused. Though he was older, he was remarkably built and in good shape for his age. I figured it would eventually get physical and that could potentially be a problem for me - I'm a small guy. We weighed our options and figured we'd be able to afford to move in 4 months, plus our lease was up then as well. This wasn't ideal but there wasn't much we could do.

In the meantime, I went and bought my first gun, a Glock 19. My wife and I immediately took a shooting class and began to frequent the shooting range. It's been awhile since I fired a handgun, but for my wife she was brand new to shooting. Luckily she picked it up quickly after our class and began punching close holes in her paper targets. Nice tight groupings. I was impressed. We didn't necessarily feel like we would need to use it but considering the ordeals we've had with our neighbor over the past year, we felt we needed one in the house.

As we reached the final 2 weeks left in our lease, we found a new place to live and began packing to begin the moving process. We were ready to leave this behind and start fresh again. Things have been quiet lately, our neighbor has been spending less time at home so we haven't seen him much lately and our problems with him have been less frequent.

But that was all about to change.

I remember it as clearly now as when it happened. I was driving home from work around 7 pm one night. All of a sudden my cell phone starts vibrating furiously on my front seat, illuminating the interior the front of my car. I had it turned off during work, but on this particular phone vibrate was comparable to a small scale earthquake. I pick up the phone, noticing it was my wife, and then answered the call. On the other end of the line, I hear the indecipherable screaming of two females.

On that night my wife had one of her work friends over at the house. So I knew why I heard two women yelling and screaming, but clearly the important thing here was why were they screaming. My stomach tightened, it was hard to swallow. That brief moment lasted an eternity. The feeling of knowing someone was in trouble but not being there to help. I immediately tried to find out what was going on. Repeatedly I asked what was going on. Finally the yelling ceased and I was able to make my wife asking me "Where is the fucking gun?!".

My heart sank as I realized I had our only firearm in the car with me. I had gone to the shooting range last night and left it locked in the car with me. Shit. Again I ask "What is going on?", yelling this time. Between my wife's friend yelling anxiously, and my wife talking a mile a minute, I was able to get an idea of what was going on. Quite honestly, it scared the shit out of me.

That night, my wife's friend came over, for the first time to our house, I might add. We lived in a small duplex, with and even smaller area to park in. Our neighbor, who claimed the parking spot closest to his side was not home. Unknown to the friend, she parks in his spot, next to our car. There's 4 spots in the lot, the neighbor gets two and we get two. We have two cars, he has one. Seems easy to keep track of it, but often his guests and our guests will mix up spots and one of our cars will inevitably end up on his side, next to his car, until we move it again. Unfortunately, our guest wasn't aware of this and she just happened to park there.

Our asshole neighbor just happened to come home at that time, saw a car in his space and fucking lost his mind.

My wife continues to explain to me, still on the phone, that he walks over and proceeds to bang on our window, then our door, demanding the car is moved. He's screaming, cursing, yelling things like "I know your in there. Open the fucking door and move your car. Don't make me break this damn door down." He continued to pound on the door. The two of them obviously became scared, fearing he would in fact kick the door down. They yelled at him to leave or they would call the police. Then everything became quiet.

I continued to listen to my wife as I switched her to speaker and put my phone on the passenger seat. At this point I was about 5 minutes away from my house. But what my wife said to me next still gives me the chills even to this day.

"Oh my God, he's got a baseball bat..." she said, proceeding to explain he is smacking it against the asphalt outside, yelling again, louder this time.

"You need to call the police NOW" I said.

"Sara left her phone in her car", my wife begins, "I'll have to hang up if I do that."

I think about it briefly, my mind was racing, I had no idea what to tell her. I was minutes away. The cops need to do something about this guy, though. Unsure of if I was making the right choice, I blurted out to call the police. I was two minutes away at this point and my main objective was quite simply to get there as fast as I could. I hang the phone up and pull the Glock out of my console. As I round the corner, speeding into our parking I see the situation right in front of me exactly as my wife described it - our neighbor standing at the bottom of our front stairs, 5 feet away from our front door. In his right hand he was clenching an aluminum baseball bat. He took a step up to the next stair, getting even closer.

What happens next, for me was more or less a blur. I quickly pull my car in behind our parking spots, crooked and basically blocking our drive way. Like in the movies, it was almost felt like it was in slow motion. I fling my door open with my left hand, my right grasping the Glock 19. Our neighbor, now at the middle of the stairs, turns around.

I stood behind him, maybe 10 feet away. The gun was raised at him. The bat still remains in his grip. What I said next, I honestly have no idea. Something to the effect of drop the bat and don't move. Later my wife told me she remembered word for word I said "Drop the fucking bat or I will blow your brains out, asshole." Sounds about right. Our neighbor said something, but that was something neither of us could recall. I think it was something about the car in his spot. I don't know. I do know he didn't drop the bat, so I stepped closer, giving him a better look at the barrel of the gun pointing directly at him. Again, I repeated the same general message. Just louder and angrier this time. The bat began to lower.

And then I hear the sirens.

A lone police officer arrives, immediately moves in with his gun drawn and first orders the neighbor to drop the aluminum baseball bat. He does. It makes a distinct metallic "clank" as it hits the cement stairs and rolls down to a stop. Next he orders me to put the gun down. I swiftly lay it down and put my hands up as the officers begins to question us.

In the end, the neighbor is taken away in handcuffs. I give a statement both to the officer and later at the station. I asked them if I would be in trouble for this. The officer looks at me and said no and explains why in two parts. First, we established the situation to them with my wife's 911 call. Second, there was reasonable belief of harm by him coming to the front door with a bat. The officer I gave my statement to was blunt and straight to the point. After he explains I wouldn't be facing any charges, he continues by saying "Off the record, had you shot this guy I doubt you'd be facing any charges either." He goes to recommend moving to avoid future issues with the neighbor. Luckily that was already part of the game plan. We moved 3 days later.

Even though this was many years ago, I still think about it a lot. I still think about that feeling I got as my wife fearfully explained the situation to me over the phone. I think about seeing him with the bat. I sometimes wonder how things would have went if I had to shoot him. Even though there was no loss of life, the effect was still profound. But afterwards several things became clear to me. The world is a crazy place and we must be prepared for that. In fact there's a lot of things we need to be prepared for. We continued shooting frequently, added a few more guns to the collection, took some karate based self defense classes and generally became more aware of our personal safety.

You might notice a trend here on this blog - guns, knives, self defense, missing people etc...personal defense never really crossed my mind up until that moment. Now it's part of my every day life.

Stay safe and be prepared!


Forgotten Songs of the 90s: The Flys "Got You (Where I Want You)"

It's 1998. You turn on MTV and happen to see a sultry Katie Holmes in the midst of a music video. The band and song might escape you but, Katie Holmes does not. In case you forgot, the band is The Flys and the song is Got You (Where I Want You). Maybe the most forgettable part of this is the fact it was featured on the Disturbing Behavior soundtrack. Apparently, this was another teen horror flick, trying to follow the success of Scream. Hmm, I don't remember either.

But there is just something about this song that, no matter how long it's been and no matter how close you are to forgetting it, you hear it for the first time in awhile and quickly realize it was a pretty good 90s song. Melodic, yet melancholy. Soft, yet strong. Catchy, strong vocal delivery. It wasn't a particularly unique song at the time, but I think it succeeds in simplicity and sincerity. The Flys obviously did not set out to try and reinvent the wheel, but they managed to make a good song, even if it was their only hit. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have Katie Holmes in your video either.

Even the awful white boy Reggae rap bridge didn't totally ruin the song. Although, The Flys really should have looked back and realized white boy Reggae rap was never much of a commodity. Anyone remember Snow? Looking past that, the quiet to loud build up was well employed and worked well for this song. In the 90s, anyone could belt out a quiet verse and then stomp on a distortion pedal during the chorus. The effect wasn't always well received, though. But in this case I think it worked. I'll also award bonus points due to the fact the lead singer has two mics and more pedals than the guitarist.

...and in case you missed it, The Flys recorded an acoustic version of the song sometime around 2008.


MISSING: Kelly Nash, GA (found deceased)

The case is Kelly Nash, a 25 year old man from Georgia who went missing in the early morning hours of January 5th 2015. An episode of Disappeared aired regarding his story last year, if you haven't already check it out. Kelly seemingly had a lot going for him: He was a student, he worked with his father helping his business, and he had a girlfriend who he shared a house with. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary in his life and there were no major problems to speak of. However, around 3 am, Kelly's girlfriend said he wasn't feeling well but was up playing video games. She told him to get some rest. By 7 am, she noticed Kelly was gone.

His keys, phone and wallet were all still inside the house. The garage door in which they enter and leave the house was slightly ajar. No signs of forced entry or a struggle were evident. It was later realized that Kelly's 9 mm handgun was missing from the residence.

Shortly after, a large search took place. Friends, family and volunteers all searched as well as scent tracking dogs but there was no sign of Kelly. A nearby gas station's camera system revealed a figure walking by in the darkness around 4:30 am the morning, but the quality was too poor to definitively say it was Kelly.

By the beginning of February of 2015 a body was found in Lake Lanier, just a few miles from both Kelly and his dad's house. It was the body of Kelly Nash. He was found to have a gunshot wound according to authorities.

After the discovery of the body, the case became silent. News reports ceased. Updates stopped. It is almost as if, once the mystery was solved, a whole new mystery began. One with a bunch of new questions we may never have answers for. As of 2016 there's really been only been one new story I've found.

As far as my thoughts on this case, let's first look at the Disappeared episode. One thing I found interesting is the dogs used in the search. Almost right off the bat, one of the tracking dogs went straight to a dock on Lake Lanier. Amazingly, the dog was correct as to where Kelly was, but it was either ignored or disregarded initially. I'm not sure why they never considered the lake, perhaps due to the cold weather but either way the tracking dog was impressive. 

Another thing from the episode that resonated with me is the girlfriend. Her tone throughout the episode is very casual, almost speaking about her missing boyfriend like it wasn't a major loss and rather just a mundane event. Something about her doesn't seem right and I know others have echoed have same sentiment. I definitely think there was some things going on in their personal lives that would likely shed some light on this situation. There's more to this, at least more than she is willing to share. 

Ultimately, based on the episode and the subsequent, but few, news articles about this case, I feel Kelly Nash was maybe going through a difficult time in his life and perhaps chose to commit suicide. He didn't seem to be caught up in anything risky, and nothing seems to suggest foul play to me. I simply think he was overwhelmed and ended his life. By walking to the lake, going onto the dock and then falling into the water, he maybe wanted to attempt to spare his family some grief in hopes he would not be found and seen only as a missing person. Surely, that would explain the lack of coverage after he was found, and the lack of any details really. There's no further information because it's not a criminal case and no foul play is involved. If you read any of the statements from the family after the discovery of his body you quickly see they are "looking for answers" but they don't project any loss that would be attributed to a random killer, a bad guy, or anyone responsible. There's no call to justice for punishment to any particular culprit. I understand everyone grieves differently but to me it seems like this could be due to:

The family knows it is suicide, but doesn't want to come out and publicly say it. 
The family thinks it is a homicide, but police feel strongly it is a suicide. 

Based on the family's desire for privacy, I'd go with the first choice. Regardless of what happened, it is a horrible loss for any family and while an element of mystery to this still exists, I completely understand as to why this would be dealt with privately. Whatever the outcome is, I hope friends and family can one day find some comfort and closure to this. Losing someone is never easy.


Fenix E Series Round Up

I decided to invest in some dependable and practical AA flashlights from Fenix for both home and away. A good light is a valuable tool and the E series from Fenix delivers excellent performance for those looking to utilize common AA cells. I've reviewed each light individually, but collectively these lights compliment each other well. Looking for reliable performance? These three E series lights will definitely do the job without breaking the bank. Let's take a look at how these awesome lights can cover your everyday needs.

The small E12 serves as an excellent choice for an EDC light that can easily fit in your pocket with room to spare. With it's intuitive tail switch and low > medium > high mode cycling, this light has the best tactical feel of the bunch. Don't let the small size fool you, it boasts a maximum of 130 lumens and 289 foot beam distance and can handle a multitude of tasks. For it's size it produces a fairly wide and useful uniform beam, all powered by a single AA.

The 2x AA powered E25 has a nice long barrel that really allows for an excellent grip, and can still be tucked into a pocket. It features a high mode of 130 lumens with a burst mode capable of 260 lumens with a throw of 591 feet. Unlike the even beam of the E12, this light has a distinct hot spot with plenty of spill. This is helpful when you are spotting something from a distance with the brightest area of the light, as it produces a good amount of flood lighting immediately in front of you, providing light both near and far. A great choice when you need a little more wideness and distance when venturing in the dark.

The E41 is the largest of the three and runs on 4x AA batteries. With a high mode of 400 lumens and a burst mode of 1000 lumens, it is the brightest light of the bunch. The 902 foot throw is impressive as well. It's beam style is similar to the E25: Tight hot spot enclosed in a wide area of flood, just bigger and wider overall. It still manages to fit in a pocket, but can be carried a variety of ways with it's included belt sheath and lanyard. Overall, the E41 boasts a nice wide, bright light. Great when you need to illuminate a large area. 

Let's take a look at how the beams actually look at night, courtesy of fonarik.com. 

The little E12 makes pretty decent light for it's size with it's focused beam and subtle spill. 

At 260 lumens, the E25 makes for a far reaching light.

The E41 boasts both a very wide and very bright beam.

Overall, these are 3 excellent lights. Simple, reliable and powered by the most common batteries in the world. A good light is an important tool in staying safe and being prepared!


Maura Murray: Small Window Of Opportunity (?)

If you are new to the mysterious disappearance of Maura Murray you should start with the Disappeared episode. Here's the Wikipedia page. The Missing Maura Murray podcast usually features a round table type discussion of the case as well.

At 7:43 pm, Butch Atwood called police to report the accident he just saw involving Maura. He first noticed as he returned home in the school bus he drove for work. Atwood proceeded to make contact with Maura, offering to call police. He noticed she seemed fine, but her ignored her request and went home and called anyway. Keep in mind, Butch lived right here the accident scene. The time it took him to speak to her and then return home and make that call, is likely minimal. The first call that came to police was at 7:27 pm, from another close by neighbor, who noted Atwood stopped at the scene.

Although it's impossible to estimate Atwood's exact time he spent at the scene, but reasonably we have to assume he first saw the accident, noticed a female, stopped the bus, proceeded to speak to her and then drove a very short distance to his house, likely mentioned it to his wife and proceeded to call the police at 7:43 pm. However, he could not see Maura's car from his house but did notice several cars went by from the time he called until police actually arrived.

So perhaps Atwood arrived home, parked the bus, walked inside, spoke to his wife briefly about the accident and then made the call that came in at 7:43. So Atwood could have had his eyes away from the site as early as 7:35-7:38. Granted, he was older at the time and around 300 lbs. This didn't appear to be a dire situation, so I doubt he hurried.

By 7:46 pm, police arrived and as we all know Maura had vanished.

Now, the Westman family nearby, who also called the police, did not see this as a particularly bad situation either. Admittedly, they were not watchful of it much either. So potentially we could have about 5 to 10 minutes where none of the neighbors were really watching closely. Also, in the dark some details may have been missing, or confused (ie: the "red dot") as well.

From early as around 7:35 to up until the officer arrived at 7:46, Maura was likely to be unseen in whatever was happening. So yes, that is a small window indeed for something to happen.

However, if you've read anything about this case, often times the idea of foul play is dismissed due to it being "unlikely" due to the small window of time and it just isn't probable an opportunistic killer just happened to ride by.

After all, that would mean a stranger picking up Maura would have to do so 1) after Atwood left 2) after the other neighbors stopped watching BUT before 3) police arrived at 7:46 pm.

Yes, I will admit a very tight time frame indeed. But also a dark night in a desolate area without much attention.

Still, many reject this idea. The problem is many subscribe to the idea that Maura was picked up by a tandem driver, under these same circumstances many deem "unlikely".

But the idea is the same. A tandem driver would have to pick Maura up 1) after Atwood left 2) after the other neighbors stopped watching BUT before 3) police arrived at 7:46 pm. But there's a few more issues to address with the idea of a tandem driver in regard to this small window. First, as we know there is no cell phone reception there. Maura could NOT have simply called this mystery driver and told them to get her.

With that said, a tandem driver would have to first realize that Maura's car is no longer in sight. Depending on how close they are traveling together, this could this could take..2 minutes? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? Then would then have to turn around and pick Maura up, unseen to Atwood, neighbors, cops etc. Had this tandem driver been traveling too closely, well they would have been seen.

So it is indeed a small window of opportunity. However, we can't have it both ways. If there was enough time for a tandem driver to pick Maura Murray up, there was anyone time for ANYONE to pick her up.

In my opinion, Maura rejected Atwood's help for several reasons. Most importantly, he immediately wanted to get police involved. Maura obviously didn't want that. Nor did she want to stay with him if police were going to be involved. If Atwood himself noticed Maura's backwards facing Saturn and stopped to speak to her, and then later noted other cars also passed by, it wouldn't be unusual for those drivers to perhaps do the very same thing he did. Maybe, Maura just happened to take a ride from the wrong person.

Zapp's Voodoo Chips: Salty, Crunchy...AMAZING

I'm not really one of those people who actively hunt around for new snacks to try, but every so often you see something and just gotta try it. That something is Zapp's Voodoo potato chips. I found them at (of all places) at my local Dollar Store, crammed tightly next to all the conventional brands we know and love. However, these chips jumped out at me. Was it the bold golden lettering? The colorful bag? The dozens of dolls with pins sticking into them? Or was it something greater and more powerful, like that of voodoo, that drew me in?

Regardless, the bag is quite eye catching and not knowing exactly what flavor category "New Orleans Kettle Style Voodoo" would fall into, I grabbed a bag to satisfy my curiosity, and hopefully hunger as well. There was something unsettling yet exciting about a snack food that had tiny voodoo dolls with needles sticking into them, but without question it was different. And different is good.

As I returned home I unloaded my Dollar Store bag, leaving the Voodoo chips on the table as I prepared lunch. The soft afternoon sunlight reflected off the bag, almost like a beacon, as it laid on the empty table. Almost as it was employing some sort of voodoo trickery to make me forgo my main course and just go straight for the chips. Somehow my will power was strong enough (just barely) and I sat down with my sandwich and drink and reached for the bag.

My first guess in terms of flavor was maybe something spicy, tomato based. Voodoo isn't exactly an easy one to guess. I mean with dill pickle, you pretty much know what you are in for when you open the bag. Voodoo, well, not so much. Upon ripping open the bag I felt compelled to give it the sniff test first. I don't know if this is due to me having a connoisseur moment and treating this like a fine wine tasting event, or if I simply wanted to make sure the smell was not rank.

And rank it was not. The aroma of vinegar and spices drifted out from the bag and made their way into my nostrils. Interesting. It was somewhat familiar smelling, especially with the pungent vinegar scent, but there was something a little different in there was well. Something I couldn't quite put my finger on. Inside the bag were orangey, red kettle chips, all curled up in different ways and all nicely covered in that delicious smelling blend of spices.

Next came the first bite. Crunchy, robust. Definitely not a thin and wimpy chip at all.

The taste was definitely intriguing. At first it tastes like a well balanced blend of salt and vinegar, which gives way to a assortment of different spices, resulting in barbecue type flavor. While the vinegar and salt was a very familiar taste, the BBQ aspect of it created a whole new experience. I have to say, these Zapp's chips have a nice zip to them and I had about half the bag finished before I even touched my sandwich.

Lately, I can't get enough of them. Since they are readily available at my local Dollar Store, I can buy them all the time. Of course, Amazon has them as well but obviously the pricing is quite high with shipping. Though, if it came down to it, I'd probably order a few bags here and there if I had no other option. Seriously, if you see a bag, give them a shot.

These chips are pretty amazing. While the taste, to me at least, is essentially salt and vinegar mixed with BBQ, the spices and flavors used are unique and I can't say I've had any other chips like them before. There is just something about them that makes like them so much. Maybe the bold spices, maybe the cool packaging....or maybe it's just voodoo......


Fenix E41: A Review

As I mentioned before the Fenix E41 caught my eye, since I was looking for a larger and brighter light but still wanting to stay in the AA format. After strongly considering a few other brands in the 4x AA category, I decided to stick with Fenix and give the E41 a shot. I can't say I was disappointed with any of my other Fenix lights so far, so it seemed like an easy choice. But how would the E41 measure up to the others? That answer lies ahead, but first let's take a look at the specs...

Inside the package you get 4 AA batteries, a black braided lanyard, a spare O ring, a fairly basic belt sheath and the usual warranty and instruction booklet.

Without batteries it weighs in at a bit over 7 ounces and is less than 5 inches tall so it still fits in your pocket, just not as easy your average small and thin EDC type light. In fact for any prolonged use I'd likely use the included belt sheath or just throw it in a bag. But for short term use it isn't that intrusive riding in a front pocket of your jeans. The size is actually quite nice, not too big and not too small.

With 4 modes and the ability to throw a beam over 900 feet it does pack a punch for its size.

However the full 1000 lumen mode is only a momentary mode accessed by holding down the single button, and continuing to do so. While some may find this tiresome, I don't necessarily use it that much so holding the button briefly isn't that bad. Most similar lights have a timed step down anyway so running continuously at max lumens without being interrupted usually isn't an option. This does aid in longevity and ensures no thermal damage. The 400 lumen high mode is generally good enough for most situations and if you need that extra power, burst mode is ready to go as well.

After using the E41 for the past few months I must say I am pretty happy with it.

The light is nicely sized, the single button control is simple...and the beam - wow. Fenix touts this light as a pocket search light and the output definitely reflects that. The beam is very wide and floody, yet still has a distinct hot spot. This thing definitely illuminates a pretty wide area, making it great for exploring or just checking out that noise you heard in the backyard late at night.

Once you get used to the specifics of the user interface (hold to turn on, hold for burst mode etc) it is a pretty solid, dependable offering from Fenix. Overall, if you are looking for a 4x AA light with a really wide beam the E41 is an excellent choice.