Wednesday, February 11, 2015

BookBuzz Awards!

Hello everyone,

A Chasing After the Wind has recently been nominated for the BookBuzz Prize Writer Contemporary Fiction Vote! If you can spare just two minutes, please click here and vote for me!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Southern American Sniper

Aphorism of the day: “Don't think about it. Think, and your actions will betray your thoughts. Don't feel bloodlust. Keep a calm heart. Move forward. Fire!” ―Mohiro Kitoh

"Act and you shall have dinner; Wait and you shall be dinner."  Klingon proverb

GUNS—A few statistics.

270 million civilian firearms in America—almost one per person.
80 million gun-owning citizens in America—about 4 weapons per person.
10 million concealed carry weapon (CCW) permits in America.
20 million illegal aliens. How many have weapons or get weapons once here?
2.2 million in prison.
2 million violent crimes committed each year.

Regardless of all the statistics, we know that most guns are not registered and that most who carry weapons do not have a permit. The major problem with the millions that carry a weapon for self-defense is they DO NOT PRACTICE. Typically, they buy a weapon, a pistol or a revolver, or it’s handed down when someone in the family dies, and they stick it in the top of their closet in a box on a shelf, hide it under their mattress, or in an old shoe, etc. Or they decide to go legal. They go to a one- or two-day school, fire their weapons, get a permit, and carry it around concealed for a month or two, until it’s too much trouble. Soon it’s back in the box on the shelf or stashed under your car seat. When was the last time you fired your weapon? Some of you still have the same dirty and rusty gun handed down from grandpa with 30-year-old bullets still in it. Is that what you’re going to search for when you hear broken glass or your door being kicked in? Don’t get me wrong; I’m as guilty as you are. I don’t practice enough for the violent city I live in.

Many a night, after cutting my reading light off, I lay there thinking, “What if?” Then I build a simulated situation: I’m awakened by an unusual noise, broken glass, someone kicking the door in, and sometimes I imagine the intruder is ringing the doorbell or he’s knocking on the door at 2 a.m., each scenario is different.

I practice my routine: Tonight it’s broken glass from the window. First, I reach under the pillow next to mine (I’m single, sleeping alone) and remove my Colt 1911. No need to check it, my hand knows every part intimately; there is always one in the chamber. It’s not my carry weapon but my go-to gun. It is deadly quiet. I hear the intruder unlock the window latch in the next room, raise the window, and his feet crunch on the broken glass. I slip on my pants and running shoes (can’t imagine being in a naked gunfight) and stuff my cell phone in my pocket and wait. I have a flashlight on the bedside table but leave it there; why let him know where I am? I know every inch of this house in the dark; it’s my territory. I hear him stumbling around and see the reflection of his flashlight now in the hallway as it crosses the living room wall. My heart feels like it’s trying to break out of my body. I shout, “I have a gun! I have called the police! Leave this house immediately!” I see his flashlight jerk quickly to the bedroom hallway, the beam shining on the wall, growing larger and larger. He’s coming into my bedroom; does he have a gun, a knife, maybe a baseball bat? I ease backward across the dark bedroom to the other side of the bed and kneel, my left arm stretched out over the bed, palm up, and lower the three pounds of steel into my cupped hand. My left hand rolls up the side of the grip, each finger laced between the fingers of my right hand, my left thumb rested on top of my right thumb stretched out along the side of the cold barrel. It is all one unit now, the gun useless with my hands, and my hands useless without the gun. I hear the intruder stumble again, the floor lamp crash to the floor and a stifled mumble. Is he drunk, stoned, or strung out on drugs? I take a deep breath while my right thumb pulled the hammer all the way back until it clicks, the sound exploding inside my head. I blink my eyes and he’s standing there, his dark body mass blocking all the dim lighting of the door opening. I could hear his heavy breathing as he searches the bedroom with his flashlight. I point my .45 automatic just right of his flashlight, narrow my focus two hands above his navel, and slide my finger into the trigger housing . . .

OKAY . . . what are you going to do?

Being a former Marine, I’ve fired many weapons and was trained to kill my enemy, like every Marine. NOT to wave my gun in the air, fire a warning shot, or to shoot someone in the leg. How many of the ten million-plus that has a permit to carry a concealed weapon is willing to kill someone? A permit to carry a gun is for one reason: to kill . . . what else do you think it’s for, to scare someone, to make you feel safe? If you’re not willing to do this, you shouldn’t be carrying a weapon. Forty-six U.S. states have adopted the stand-your-ground/castle doctrine law. Under such laws, there is no-duty-to-retreat from anywhere the defender may legally be—his home, his car, his place of work—and may use any level of force, including lethal, if they reasonably believe they face an imminent and immediate threat of serious bodily harm or death. This concept was established as English law by the 17th-century jurist Sir Edward Coke, in his The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628: “For a man's house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man's home is his safest refuge].

What would I do? Honestly, I hope I never have to experience the above simulated situation I created, but it happens, everyday. 3.7 million home invasions average every year, so why not practice? I won’t avoid my own question. The first thing I would do is retreat . . . if possible. Find a way to leave, to get out, run, run, run. I’m no longer a Marine or a law enforcement officer; it’s not my job to kill someone. My job is to stay alive, not to exhaust my life savings and spend the rest of my life defending myself from criminal and civil lawsuits. There’s no way you can come out on the good side after killing someone. I don’t care how right you are. BUT, if there’s nowhere to go, no way to retreat, or your wife and children are in the house, whatever, remember—YOU HAVE NO DUTY TO RETREAT—do not hesitate, focus, pull the trigger, triple tap, center mass.

Both sites below have to do with gunfire. Beware, the first video is very real and may be too intense for some viewers, but if you have any interest in self-protection, guns, or conceal carry, the video and the podcast are great learning lessons 
Image credit:
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this blog or website is legal advice. The author accepts no liability for the content of this blog, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. His objective is to provide you with useful, interesting, and sometimes humorous information. From time to time he will slip-up and unintentionally write something incorrect or offensive; please let him know if this occurs. Although a former Marine, the author is still a wee bit old-fashioned on using rough language.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Reaching for the Sycamore (or, A Slap on the Wrist)

Aphorism of the day: “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”  AESCHYLUS 525-456 B.C.

“Do you believe in God?” In a Gallup poll a couple of years ago, more than 9 in 10 Americans said "yes" when asked that basic question. I know . . . you never talk about sex, politics, or religion. I’ve heard that all my life; in one ear and out the other like many dogmatic rules forced on youth. Look at our literature, movies, and TV shows, all of them will have at least one of those topics, and most of them have all three.

My first six years of school were at Holy Names, mass every morning, then walked across the driveway from church to school and the first hour of the study was Catechism. But before that we had to pray again. I remember we all kneeled backward in our desk, my hands together in supplication, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary. A large sycamore tree grew outside a window close to my desk; its limbs I could reach through the window and touch. Every morning at the exact same time, I stared at that tree, mumbling my prayers, and waited for the sun hiding behind the sycamore to show its face. The sun highlighted the trees exfoliating bark, which was flaked off in great irregular masses, leaving a mottled, pure-white smooth surface, and in a blink of the eye the sun burst through my window. Millions of golden color cosmic dust particles blasted past my face riding on a shaft of sun rays; it was like God’s opening curtain of a play. I was lost in a dream world, started spitting, firing my artillery of miniscule spitballs into the invading cosmic dust as rockets and mortars exploded through the convoy of sunlight. It was a blitzkrieg, a battle for control of the sky. Then a bomb was dropped into the room, a loud slam of a wooden ruler onto my desktop, and from behind me, I heard an angry shout from Sister Agnes George, “James A. Carson, stick out your hands . . . NO, palms down!”  She brought the ruler down hard on my knuckles. I doubled over, my hands tucked and in a ball. I screamed loud enough to break the glass in the windows and followed that with a mournful cry, “You broke my hand.” She put her arms around me, smothering me with her huge boobs, “I’m so sorry, please forgive me,” she said. The whole classroom watched terrified, then uproarious laughter filled the room when the others saw the large grin on my face and heard my muffled giggles. Sister Agnes George pulled me by my ear out of the classroom, down the hall, and marched me into Father O’Brian’s office.

What does all this mean? Like Aeschylus above said, no matter how much we screw up, we can’t avoid God’s grace. And more than 3,000 years ago, King Solomon said, “We must search for meaning and purpose of life: How strange that people spend their lives striving for the very enjoyment that God gives freely, as a gift.” And lastly and more recently, the man that speaks to my mind and soul, whose writings guided me through my labyrinth studies of religions, Carl Jung: Among all my patients, from all civilized countries on the earth, there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living religions of every age have given to their followers and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook.” And if all this is not enough, check out what this Harvard professor has to say:   

Thursday, December 18, 2014

If Only Crime Didn't Pay

Aphorism of the day: "The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business."    John Steinbeck

As some of you know, I live on three acres behind a nine-foot concrete block stucco wall with non-see-through gates. I’ve never had anyone in thirty years try to get onto my property. My neighborhood is an old and established bucolic area that has held its value during the ups and downs of the real estate market. I love where I live, but I got complacent, left my guard down, and got hit.

Running across the rear of my property, behind my two guest houses, is a city drainage ditch, about four feet wide and three feet deep, which leaves a 4 x 3 foot “hole” under my fence and that’s where the little sewer rats came crawling onto my property. Years ago, I had a city street light attached to one of the power poles because of the darkness back there, but I guess the thieves scurried back and forth in the shadows hauling my new lawn equipment (backpack blower, chainsaw, etc.) from my garage and the different items from my friends' cars (my friends live in the guest houses).

If you’ve never been burglarized, you are lucky. It’s a helpless feeling of invasion that steals your peace of mind for months. They say the crime rate in Memphis is down, but the statistics last year were over 38,000 burglaries/thefts. That’s four every hour, and we’re not including the crimes of Aggravated Assault, Rape, Larceny, Auto Theft, Murder, and Robbery. With only 13% of the criminals caught, I think they need a new motto besides “Crime Doesn’t Pay.”

My Shangri-La has been invaded. What is the answer? Guns, armed guards, and junkyard dogs like in parts of Miami and LA, or security patrols and video alarm systems? You can’t shoot an unarmed burglar (as much as I would like to blow a couple of kneecaps off), and they know it. But we always have options, and all this week I’ve been dreaming about an evil counterattack: punji sticks, razor wire, bear traps, tripwire, electrified fence...But, back to reality—I’m meeting with my lawyer to see how much revenge I can legally enact. Till then, I will practice what my mentor teaches;  “With every adversity, there is an equal or greater benefit.”

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Writing, Procrastination, and Squirrels!

Aphorism of the day: “Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar.”  Mickey Spillane 

Writing is a hard way to make a living, “Only 5% of books sell over 1,000 copies,” but what a way to live. In a few minutes, you can be anywhere in the world, with anyone you want, and doing anything your heart desires.
I make a habit of writing everyday no matter what . . . but there’s always something that can get in your way.  If that happens, I punish myself. I’ve got 24 hours, so I do without sleep, without food, and without people. No phones, no pets, no emails—lockdown, till I write something before the end of the day. 
Still, procrastination is a sneaky thief . . . like today. I have a good friend staying with me this week from Boulder, CO. He’s a lawyer with his Notary seal, so . . . you guessed it: legal stuff.  We redid my Will, Health Care, Living Will, and Power of Attorney. I mean it’s free; you can’t pass up an opportunity like this, right?
And while I’m at it, I might as well get a twofer. I pulled from my do-it-next-week stash an application for Genesis, a donor program, and we discussed this, and he put his stamp to my signature. I mean, the last thing I want is a crowd of people gawking into my open casket looking at some old wrinkled up, powder-faced corpse, charging $18,300 to throw dirt in my face. Below is what my insurance company, USAA estimated for the cost. However, Genesis will pick up your body immediately upon death and a year later deliver your ashes in a nice urn to your designated kin without any charges. After a year, memories faded. My kin can fly down to Key West—my old stomping grounds—have some fresh seafood, with a bottle of Madame Clicquot’s, “Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin,” and afterwards let the warm ocean breeze walk you down to Mallory Square and watch the sunset as they empty my ashes into the Gulf Stream.
I opted out on the special project gift where they do some experimental research projects on your body in the fields of battlefield medicine, forensic pathology, crime scene investigation, fire investigation, and other vital scientific endeavors. I know you're dead, and your body is going to rot, but it’s enough that I’m leaving it to the UT medical center for study and not for voodoo practice.

Funeral home or mortuary $4,800
Burial $4,100
Medical out-of-pocket expenses $4,300
Transportation & accommodations for
out-of-town relatives $1,200
Family gathering (hall rental, food, drink) $1,500
Churches services $400
Legal matters $2,000


SIDE BAR:      I was bitten by a squirrel. I live on three wooded acres in the middle of the city with 200-year-old oak trees in the company of many, many squirrels and other tenants: a couple of families of raccoons (one baby albino), beautifully colored knee-high owls that drink from my garden pond, red tail hawks, and some other critters. This one squirrel, whom I named Pete, ran down the tree every time I came out into the yard and stood watching me from about 15 feet away. I started feeding him, and soon he was eating out of my hand until he mistook a pecan for the end of my finger. Today, I have two puncture wounds in my left index finger, and it’s a little awkward typing with just three fingers. I Googled “squirrel bites,” and it assured me they carried no disease. I cleaned it with peroxide and then swabbed it with methylate (my all-purpose healer) and it’s healing nicely.