Happy Birthday Dr. King

Haven’t done this in a while, but it’s time to get back into the swing of things.  Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  If you were still among us, you would be 89 years old today.

Image found via Twitter/John SLOPPY Selepes@SloppyJS

I will get back to writing down thoughts soon.  If you could sacrifice your life to give me the freedoms I have, I may as well push those freedoms to the max.  Thank you.

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Weathering the weather

Not too far in the distant past, we had Hurricane Harvey to deal with in the US.  At the same time, There was much worse flooding going on in Asia.  Just when you thought it was safe to go on a Caribbean vacation, Irma decided that the Caribbean needed to be redecorated.

I’m not one to delve much into climate change as I think it’s far too vast of a topic for the unknowable to discuss as though they know all the answers.  I don’t know the science, and I don’t know which “side” is right.  I recall multiple scientists coming out with the same conclusion that the changing climate wouldn’t equate to more storms and bad weather.  We would, however, see more intense and severe storms as a result of changing temperatures.  Seems logical when you consider that heat is what fuels most severe weather events.

I do have the power of observation though, and right now, I’d say that Mother Nature is a bit perturbed right now.  Just maybe we should take a second or two and consider the long-term repercussions of what some people see as the climate shifting before our very eyes.

I’ve heard the debate on the cyclic nature of how the climate changes over time, and that the temperatures rises and falls over long periods.  I know that history sometimes has a way of repeating itself too.

We’re in the middle of one of those repeats now.  The difference is that, in 2010, the US was spared as both Igor and Julia stayed out in the Atlantic and went fishing instead of wrecking coastline.  In 2017, we’re not going to be that lucky.  Irma is on her way to skull drag Florida, and we’ve already seen what she’s capable of doing.  Not only that, Jose has been working out and is now a Cat 3 following his big sister’s path.

Years ago, I recall reading something to the effect that secondary hurricanes typically didn’t develop as much because the initial hurricane would absorb all the heat from the atmosphere and water.  Heat is one of the primary fuels to strengthen a hurricane.  If Jose is a 3 now, that says the water and air is still quite warm after a Cat 5 has burned through the area.

The island of Barbuda was completely wrecked by Irma, and many other Caribbean nations sustained massive amounts of damage.  Before they really have a chance to assess their damages, they’re staring down another potential monster storm.

One possibly good thing is that Jose is expected to make a turn to the north.  At what point, however is still unknown.  My prayers go out to everyone around the world that have to live through such horrendous weather related events at this point.  People are going to need lots of assistance to recover, so I hope those who are not affected do not simply turn the television to a different channel and forget about those who need help the most.  We’re going to have to come to grips with what science is telling us so that we can adjust our ways to avoid even worse storms in the future.  If we don’t adjust now, we all may not be able to weather the weather down the road.

Stay strong Texas

I’ve been through a few storms myself from hurricanes to tornadoes and even a blizzard or two.  They are never fun, at least in my opinion.  I’ve never understood why people in coastal areas choose to stare down the barrel of a loaded gun, but for those who decided to stay at home in coastal Texas, I wish you the best.

I would have boarded up and hauled ass myself.  Then again, my first responder designation means that I have to stay to help those who refuse to leave.  I’ve seen the effects of wind and water enough to know that a Category 3 hurricane is not something that I’d purposefully choose to try to ride out.  My life is far more important than any material item whatsoever.

For those outside of Texas, I hope you have full tanks of gas.  Our major refining and gasoline production is sitting in the bullseye, so expect some disruption to the availability of gas for next week.  If the damage is extensive, be prepared to feel some pain for a while.

Edit @ 7:22pm EST

Harvey has increased strength and is now a Category 4 hurricane.  It’s the strongest storm that’s made landfall in more than a decade as America hasn’t felt a direct hit from a major hurricane since 2005.

My prayers goes out to all who are in the pathway of this storm.

The Impermanence of Man

Popeyes Chicken located in Gadsden, AL

I was reading away on the Comey hearing yesterday when a story from my WordPress feed made me stop in my tracks.  In the day to day hustle and bustle of living, we tend to forget how fragile or impermanent life truly is for all of us.  The story in question dealt with an Alabama inmate that was scheduled for execution yesterday.  Additional search revealed that the inmate was indeed executed last night, pronounced dead at 10:27 CST.

This isn’t an essay over whether the death penalty is right or wrong.  This is a reflection upon life itself, and I’ll explain.  Here’s how the story began on April 15, 1994.

GADSDEN, Ala. — Three employees of a fast-food restaurant were herded into a walk-in cooler and shot to death early Saturday, police said. A fourth worker, wounded and left for dead, crawled to a phone and called police.

Less than two hours later, police arrested two people and charged them with capital murder. One of the suspects had been fired Monday from the Popeye’s Famous Fried Chicken restaurant, police Capt. Jimmie Flanagan said.

Cuhuatemoc Peraita, 17, and Robert Bryant Melson, 22, were arrested in an auto that was stopped by police in nearby Rainbow City, Ala. Peraita reportedly had been fired for excessive absenteeism, police said.

Flanagan said robbery was the apparent motive. “Money was taken and recovered,” he said. He did not disclose the amount.

Officials said Peraita was being charged as an adult under a state law signed Thursday by Gov. Jim Folsom, which allows authorities to execute people as young as 16 if they are convicted of a capital offense.

The restaurant was supposed to close at 11:30 p.m. Friday. Authorities said they believe that the shootings occurred sometime after midnight.

Killed were Tamika Collins, 18, Nathaniel Baker, 17, and Darrell Collier, 23, the restaurant manager.

Police who arrived at the fast-food restaurant said they found the bodies of the three employees stacked on top of each other in the narrow, back-room cooler.

Bryant Archer, 17, crawled to a phone and called authorities about 12:30 a.m. He was taken to a hospital with multiple gunshot wounds in the chest and was listed in serious condition Saturday.

I don’t think I’ve posted anything about this here, as I don’t really talk much about this anyway.  The first job I ever worked was working for Popeyes in Rainbow City, AL.  The person that hired me was Darrell Collier.  From March of my junior year of high school in 1990 until the August that I started college in the fall of 1991, I worked there pretty much as a full-time employee.  We were a close-knit group among each other as well as with our sister locations, one of which was the Gadsden restaurant.  We had friendly competitions ranging from sales contests to an annual football game played on Thanksgiving Day that even included a trophy to the winning location.

Anyway, after I went off to college at Alabama State University, I’d sometimes come home and work on the weekends for extra cash and just to hang out with friends.  If I didn’t work, I’d still just pop in to see everyone and get caught up on news.  I would drive the two hours home and my first stop was usually Popeyes, where I would hang out until after closing was finished.  Then, we’d sit in the parking lot or go somewhere to get drinks or food.

April 15, 1994 started off like any other day for me.  It was awards day at ASU, and my mother drove down for the ceremony.  I don’t remember exactly what award I received, but the ceremony was over before noon, and my roommate and I were contemplating the drive home that afternoon.  I had told my mom that I was headed home before we parted company and she drove on to work.  My roommate and I loafed around for a while and eventually decided to wait and drive home early Saturday morning.  I can vividly recall making that decision because a thunderstorm popped up around that time, and that was part of the reason why I didn’t want to drive.  Anyway, the only two people who knew the change of plans were he and I unless he told someone himself.

Sometime early in the morning, I think around 2am, the phone started ringing.  Family and friends were calling to see where I was.  Once they found out I was in the room, they said okay and that was that.  I think it may have been the second or third call when my aunt was on the other end, I can’t remember for sure  Instead of just getting off the phone, she told me that there was a shooting at one of the restaurants at home, and she was checking to see if I had left Montgomery.  She worked at the nearby hospital and could see the flashing lights from all the emergency personnel from her building which was at least 1.5 miles away.

Her daughter worked at a KFC in the same area, and my aunt thought that the shooting happened at KFC.  Once she found out that it wasn’t KFC and was Popeyes, she was worried that I was there as I would have gone to Popeyes to hang out with Darrell.  At first, they had no idea of how many victims were there.  At that point, I understood why people were calling.  They thought that I was one of the victims.  See, not only did I know Darrell and hang out with him when I came home.  The shooter, Robert Melson, was a long-time friend and classmate of mine.

Robert and I went back to elementary school as far as knowing each other.  We played little league baseball on the same team, and attended school from first grade to graduating high school together.  We didn’t run in the same exact social circles, but the town isn’t so big that circles don’t overlap.

I know that, without a doubt, I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that decision to not drive home that night.  I cried when I got the news as I couldn’t imagine what they went through in those moments that night.  I drove home for the funerals, but I didn’t have the strength to attend.  Just being home was all I could do.

When I came home for that summer, I switched from working in the Rainbow City location to the Gadsden restaurant.  I continued to work at that location until I left Popeyes for good after I graduated college in 1996.  It was surreal to enter the location and see where my friend had lost his life.  Even though they tried to repair everything, you could still see where the bullet holes were in the freezer.  I had recently met Tamika before the robbery, but I did not know her well.  I didn’t know the other two at all.  I still mourned their deaths as though they were family as we were all a tight-knit group.

After reading about Robert’s execution last night, I looked around me.  I have a nice home, a beautiful wife, three amazing kids, and so much more going on.  The political crap that’s going on in this country can take a break.  Sometimes, it is good to just sit back and realize how little time we really have in this world.  I feel like I’ve been living on borrowed time for more than 23 years now.  I don’t know what God has planned for me to accomplish, but I do know that I haven’t achieved that goal yet.  He has made sure that I’m still here, and that is something that I don’t take for granted.  Maybe that is something that more people should think about instead of worrying about who lied and who didn’t.  There’s always tomorrow to deal with the political crap.  Take a break and enjoy your life today.  You never know when it’s your last day to do so, so why wait?

Enough is enough 2016

Is it just me or has the Grim Reaper gone into straight “Honey Badger” mode in 2016?

Within the last three days, we’ve lost singer George Michael, comedian Ricky Harris, and now actress Carrie Fisher.  Let’s not even try to run down the other celebrity deaths over the past year.

It’s not just celebrities either.  There’s the Russian military plane crash, the Bolivian plane crash in Colombia, and other mass casualty events.  Add the number of everyday deaths, and I’m beginning to wonder if the Grim Reaper is trying to set a new high score.

The celebrity deaths stick out because of the news reporting though.  The award shows for next year may very well turn out to be two-hour long memorial tributes with an award or two handed out in between segments.

 

If I were famous, I would be sitting on pins and needles while waiting for 2017 to arrive.  I’d even consider hunkering down in the Cheyenne Mountain fallout shelter.  Then again, that could end up becoming a tomb as well.  Doesn’t appear that the Grim Reaper really cares about when and where he does his business.  Those assistants to the stars are probably all packing aspirin, epi pens, automatic defibrillators, and first aid kits with them at all times just to be safe.  Hurry up and get here 2017 before we lose many more.