If you’re reading this…

I am somewhere over the Pacific Ocean in an airplane. You betcha I am uncomfortable and pissed off. I hate flying. I realize there hasn’t been many blogs go up lately, sorry. It has been a busy couple of months. I have been planning a wedding, working a lot, trying to fix up an old truck, buying a house and getting ready for this trip. I am currently flying to Hawaii, specifically the island of Oahu. It will be my first trip to Hawaii even though for my entire life, up until this past July, I thought that the reason I was brown-skinned was because I was Hawaiian. It’s a long story, filled with ironic commonalities and the kind but formidable passing of time. This blog will mark the beginning of my story (title pending) about how – at the age of 27 – I came to know and meet my biological father and grandfather and my true ethnicity. I have a camcorder and I’m going to film a bunch and edit it down into 5 parts maybe, with some writing for explanation and some video. So, stay tuned and subscribe to the blog via email so you don’t miss anything.

Young Fat Stupid Cops are Poor

 

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The standards to become a Law Enforcement officer are entirely too low. This is a problem in my opinion. The dangerous nature of the job makes it an unappealing one to most people who are qualified to do it. Although being higher in rank within the chain of command at any specific agency brings a more desired salary, the demanding schedule and workload of a rookie officer comes with sub-par wages and benefits. There is a clear correlation between standards and pay. There is a problem, at least locally, where departments are understaffed, because no one wants to be a cop. People don’t want to become a police officer because they don’t get paid enough, but I don’t know what to do about it.

 

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Maybe cops should get paid more. I’ve heard it said that military, law enforcement, teachers etc. should be paid like football players. Essentially swapping income between public servants/first responders and professional athletes. That would be dope. I’d love to make as much as Russell Westbrook, just cruising around arresting people. I’d get sued more often that’s for sure. Meth heads would be lining up to sue me for “violating their constitutional rights”. A more logical thing would just be to raise the pay in a way that is proper reciprocation for putting your life in danger. Maybe make all law enforcement a federal or state job with a pay scale like the GS (General Schedule). For sure needs to be a universal pay, regardless of location. I know cops who make $10/hr. and that is SAD. Those cops could get hurt or killed doing their job, obviously the chances are lower in less densely populated areas, but it doesn’t matter. The job we do is dangerous.

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Until the standards are raised to become a police officer the low pay will probably not change. Most police departments in the US have a minimum education requirement of a diploma or GED. I have a diploma and some college, and I sometimes still have trouble with constitutional law. Further education would obviously only help you in any career, but maybe the minimum requirement should be higher. As far as the fitness requirements those should absolutely be raised. In the state of Alabama the standard is a 1.5 mile run in 15:28 or faster, 22 push-ups in a minute, and 25 sit-ups in a minute. I am certain that my 3 year old niece could complete that with ease. There is also an agility portion of the test that involves; pushing a car, climbing a 6ft fence, walking on a balance beam, climbing through a window, and dragging a 165lb dummy. Most agencies don’t even test yearly to make sure that those standards are being kept up with after completing your certification. Some people think of cops as fat doughnut eating slobs who sit around and BS, only working when they are ruining your day by writing you a speeding ticket. I’ll tell you that there are absolutely some cops who fit that description perfectly. That will always be the case though, but the physical fitness part can be changed by raising the standards. Most agencies require a minimum age of 21 by the time you complete your POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) certification. Maybe make that age 25? I became a police officer when I was 23 and will admit that I wasn’t mature enough for the job, but thanks to competent and caring supervisors I quickly changed.

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I don’t know how to change the standards, but they need to be higher that’s for sure. Until then I’ll keep doing my job, trying to affect change in people’s heart to do better, for less than desired wages.

 

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Guns + Mental Disorders = Our Problem

I realize that “being kind” and “mass shootings” have been common themes in my blogs here lately, and if that bores you, I’m sorry. I just think that they are important things to talk about. 

“Death is inevitable on this earth, live as long as the good lord will let you, and leave behind a legacy of love and kindness that will be cherished and remembered by all”

 

14 Nov. 2017 – Corning, CA – 6 dead 10 injured

12 Nov. 2017 – Atlanta, GA – 2 dead 2 injured

5 Nov. 2017 – Sutherland Springs, TX – 27 dead 20 injured

18 Oct. 2017 – Edgewood, MD – 3 dead 3 injured

1 Oct. 2017 – Las Vegas NV – 59 dead 441 injured

 

Mass acts of violence like shootings and just gun violence alone have unfortunately become normal in our world. So normal that I bet you didn’t even know the two above not in bold happened. I didn’t. Those are just 5 of the 46 “Mass Shootings”, according to this, to happen since the 1st of October this year. These horrible events have become so common that we’re almost numb to it. So numb that we just over look it with almost no emotion.

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I saw the above meme the other day on FB. It is an obvious shot at bleeding heart liberals with no knowledge of firearms who rant about gun control. My first reaction was “Awesome, I want that gun, sign me up”. My second reaction was “LOL stupid ass liberals”. My third thought was to share the post. Not until I “liked” it and looked at some comments did I realize that it was wrong in so many ways. I immediately felt queasy, and dirty, because I got amusement from it. It was terrible that I didn’t immediately feel bad about the shooting, but instead chuckled and said “badass”. Now I know most people who make these memes or share them or even like them don’t do it to make light of such a horrific thing. I surely don’t. It is just a true showing of how normal this is. And it’s sad.

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The people who died are gone and never coming back. The people injured will be scarred for life. The people close to both will be affected as well. Why do these things happen? Motive in most of these cases is left unfound because the person responsible either takes their own life, or leaves it up to a police officer or armed civilian. The surviving offenders rarely give an actual reason that is logically understood by anyone. People still give their theories though. The solution is almost always either; more strict gun control laws or better mental health care. The problem with this is that people are relying on the Government to fix it. These gunmen are and were citizens of the United States, in communities all around the country, and our neighbors. So, I guess I can understand people wanting the Governments help. I obviously don’t know the answer to the looming question, “What can be done about it?”. With that being said, I certainly don’t think the Government can be the cure-all and I think we as individual citizens in this country can do more.

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As far as gun control, gun prevalence levels generally have no net positive effect on total violence rates. A rise in homicide and gun assault rates increase gun prevalence. Gun control restrictions have no net effect on gun prevalence levels. Lastly, most gun control restrictions generally have a rising effect on violence rates. Simply put; people are gonna do what they want regardless of what rules or laws are put in place. Furthermore, Banning or criminalizing things has shown in many cases to create, or grow, an illegal, or “black”, market for those things. Illicit drugs are illegal in most states, yet they continue to be used and abused. Prohibition is a perfect example of what happens when something is criminalized, or in this example, made harder to obtain.

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I would suggest getting trained up on marksmanship with all weapons readily available for you to use. In addition, I think everyone should carry a weapon with them, legally and confidently, always. If guns scare you or you are unable to obtain one; learn a martial art. You would be surprised what you could do with your hands if you try. The point is; learn how to protect yourself and the people you care for by whatever means necessary.

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When it comes to mental health, I don’t know what people are expecting the Government to do about it. I am less than qualified to speak on it, but I’ll try. Often, the word “Evil” is used when describing these acts of violence. Evil is a word that has a religious connotation and is not scientific. Since I know that there are people who do not believe in any God or devil it is easier to say that the people who commit these awful acts have an absence of empathy. Which is exacerbated by negative environments, either parental or societal, and/or a genetic component. These are human conditions, mental disorders like; borderline personality disorder, narcissism, and psychopathology. People with Autism fall into the same category. With a lack of empathy one may do something as horrible as kill 30 people in a church, but in other cases it could simply be a difference in how the person views the world and nothing bad ever happens. I suggest reading “The Science of Evil on Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty” by Simon Baron-Cohen. At the very least it is an interesting book even if you don’t take anything from it. The point is that whatever mental disorder someone is suffering from, their environment greatly affects their actions and the diverse ways their condition makes them think. People who are in that person’s life not only can help, but also can hurt.

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It is always my opinion that a sound relationship with the Lord and savior, Jesus Christ is beneficial for all. This world is worse now, and people need help, more than ever before I’d say, and that’s been an ongoing theme for most of my life at least. We should spread love everywhere we go and act on kindness every chance we get. If you have a loved one who is going through something or has a mental disorder, it is your duty to help them however you can. Although you may not believe it, people want help. Before someone chooses to take their life or a number of others, in many instances, there are signs, and they reach out for help. Pay attention, look and listen for signs. In addition, eating healthy and having a consistent fitness routine is always helpful with general health and has been shown to help with anxiety, depression, and many other symptoms of mental disorders.

Life is small and fast, and the Government is a large and slow aspect of our world. Don’t solely rely on it to fix a problem that you could potentially change for the better.

Class Reunion

The room was filled with a nostalgic fog. It was as if the people present weren’t actually sure if it was real. Their sight was hindered by a rush of memory that wasn’t consistent with what they witnessed. Things have changed substantially, for some it was good change. Most everyone in attendance had advanced and achieved great things. You could almost smell the success in the room, and you could certainly hear it. The pride was deafening, bragging and boasting of the fortunate silenced any attempt at normal conversation. One man stood isolated, in the corner, propped up by a push broom. The atmosphere for him was similar, it was repetitive, he had been there before. It was different this time though, he knew them all. As he waited for the room to clear and prepped his tools for work, he saw her. A fond memory of kindness pierced the vengeful haze that clouded his direction. Understood by no one else but her, he thought. He began to question himself as he walked into the hallway. Could he complete his task and go home to sleep knowing that she was involved in the misery? Did the past matter enough to halt his meticulous planning? A familiar sound echoed in the distance. Her laugh. The moment his ears were reminded of that sound, he knew. With a fresh grin across his lips and the confidence of his decision he pulled the crimson lever and made his way out of the building. As the rain cascaded from the ceiling he couldn’t help but to think.

Would he have initiated the sequence of anthrax and napalm if he hadn’t seen Ophelia?

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My Interesting Friend and Her Podcast!

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I have been obsessed with Psychology for a while now, it is very interesting to me the way people think and interact and why. That’s where my whole “trying to know everything in the world” started. I saw a book called “Subliminal” by Leonard Mlodinow and that was the beginning of my adventure to know all things. Now my book shelf is filled with the writings of; Jonathan Haidt, Sebastian Junger, Susan Cain, Malcolm Gladwell, and Simon Baron-Cohen to name a few. It is an impossible task, to know all things, I am aware, but I am enjoying it.

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I used to live in Houston, Texas when I was younger, and I have a lot of friends from there I keep up with. One of them is Kelly Stewart. Kelly and I went to school together, and after I moved, as it often happens, we didn’t speak as much. A while back, I can’t remember when, I was scrolling through LinkedIn and saw where she posted a podcast about Industrial and Organizational Psychology. So, I immediately subscribed and listened. The I-O Podcast is interesting and informative, and I would recommend it to anyone who is employed and wants to better understand human behavior in the workplace. It features guests such as; Eleni Lobene, Ph.D., S. Morton McPhail, Ph.D., and Talya N. Bauer, Ph.D. Click here to find out about I-O Psychology.

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My friend Kelly Stewart is the Host of “The I-O Podcast” within the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). She has worked as a project manager and assisted organizations like The New Orleans Police Department, LA Tech University, and Medical Clinics in the Louisiana area to develop cost effective solutions for recruitment and retention by analyzing data and research. She went to Texas State University for undergrad and is a I-O Psychology graduate of Louisiana Tech University.

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We have recently been talking and in the future, we may team up on some things, maybe I’ll be on her podcast, maybe she will write a blog on Generally Specific. Who knows. Either way you should certainly subscribe to her podcast BELOW to be enlightened on topics of interest within or related to the realm of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. As always subscribe to Generally Specific for updates on blogs and have a wonderful day!

SIOP Podcast

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE!

Wanderlust, Kindness and Homelessness

This is a long story, but if you read it I feel like you may be glad you did, so buckle up.

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Last Thursday, November 9th, I was at work and got called for mutual aid just outside my jurisdiction. We responded to a man who threw a brick through a windshield and threatened a woman. When we arrived, he had already fled into the woods. Myself, Chief and Asst. Chief were on scene holding it down until the county units arrived. When they did, we went back in service and headed back to the city limits. On our way back, we came up on a man walking North on the side of Highway 167 carrying a heavy-duty trash bag and a back pack. He looked the same age as the man from the previous call, so I pulled in front of him and approached him with caution to ID him. The suspect from before was said to be armed with a knife and “all methed out” according to the person reporting the incident so, as with most situations involving people who could likely be under the influence of drugs, I was ready for anything.

 

 

When I asked the man for a driver’s license or state ID he very quietly informed me he had none. Sometimes when you’re identifying someone, for whatever reason, people don’t have their ID on them or anything to prove who they are. When this happens you get their name, DOB and social security number so you can call it to dispatch and make sure that they are who they say they are and don’t have any warrants. When I asked him for that information he advised me that his name was James Martin Lloyd and I’ll leave his birthday out of this, but he gave me it. He said that he didn’t know his social security number and that he had never had any form of identification because he has been homeless for most of his life. After calling what I had into dispatch nothing came back, from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Dispatch widened the search parameters while I contacted the deputy on scene to get a better description of the suspect in question. The homeless man, James, stood behind my car with the other two officers with me. After getting the description from the deputy and no positive results from dispatch I determined that after I had a look in his bags to make sure that he didn’t just change, I could let him go and go back to work. My chief waved me over to the side and said to take the man north just past our jurisdiction just to help along his journey. She gave me her credit card to buy him a meal at Hardees on our way out of town. After checking his bags and finding no clothes matching the description of the suspect, we loaded up in my car and went through the drive-thru where he ordered a mushroom swiss burger, fries, and a cherry coke. We barely exchanged 10 words during the ride, partly because he was very timid and soft spoken, but also because the cage in my patrol unit makes it hard to understand anything said from the other side.

 

 

When I got to the jurisdiction line I decided to go a bit further to the gas station up the road. We got out and I brought his food to a picnic table telling him to sit down and eat and I got his belongings and sat them next to him. I asked him if he needed anything and he was hesitant to tell me, so I went in and bought an assortment of water, snacks, potted meat, medicine, and a few Ziploc bags with my own money. I say my own money, not to brag, but because I didn’t clear it with my Chief to use hers and because I noticed something after the interaction. I noticed that I didn’t really check the prices on anything before buying it. I only spent like $36 so it’s not really a big deal but I realized after the fact that in most cases when I’m buying something for myself I always try to find the cheapest option, I am on a police officer’s salary after all. It was odd. I brought him the stuff i bought and sat down at the table and asked him if I could ask him some questions and talk or if he just wanted me to leave. He said okay, and we talked for about 15 minutes.

 

James is a slender, tall man around 34 years old. His skin was in terrible condition because of being in the sun all day and not having a place to clean up. He was wearing black shorts and a light blue t-shirt, had long hair and patchy facial hair, both lighter in color like a dirty blonde. He spoke with an accent that almost sounded British, but later told me that it was because of his teeth, they were in bad shape because of his situation. In his back pack he had a few items of clothing, socks and shirts, and a book that I didn’t get the title of. In the trash bag was trash and some half empty coke bottles and half eaten protein bars. It was apparent that he did not litter because of all the trash he had with him, which I thought was cool. Just as you wouldn’t throw trash on your bedroom floor, he doesn’t litter along his journey because the earth is his home. He seemed like a prideful man, didn’t ask for anything and was skeptical of accepting things from me and even hesitated when we offered him a ride. May be because he doesn’t trust police officers, but from the homeless people I’ve encountered they all are kind of prideful and don’t ask for help unless they need it. There is a difference between actual homeless people and begging pan-handlers.

 

He told me he was going to St. Louis and when I asked why, he said “St. Louis Good, Florida Bad”, which I found funny because Florida is a garbage place. The whole time I talked to him he spoke in short sentences, communicating like I would imagine an alien would. It was like talking to someone from another planet, probably because he doesn’t really interact with many people and it was apparent that he was a little nervous because I am a cop. He said he has been stopped a few times by law enforcement and hadn’t had a problem so that is good. He said he was coming from south of Ocala, Florida best he could remember and had been travelling for almost 3 weeks he thinks. I did some rough math and that averaged to somewhere between 20-25 miles a day. So, I asked him if he hitchhiked at all and he said every 2 or 3 days someone comes and offers him a ride, he said never purposely “thumbs it”, but he doesn’t always accept the offer. The conversation got a little deep when I asked him why he was homeless. I did not press him to speak to me, I assure you.

 

James said that at an early age, maybe 9 or 10 years old from what he can remember, he left home and never looked back. He said that his parents were abusive and that he remembers just leaving one day, with nothing but the clothes on his back. I was taken aback, I asked him how, how did he make it this long without either being picked up by some form of authority and put into the system through DHR or died because of the lack of any formal survival training, let alone just life skills. He said he learned. He said no one was around, and the forest was his home. My mind was blown. I asked him where he was born when I initially stopped him, to help dispatch with identifying him, and he said he had no idea. Unbelievable to me. After our conversation I told him to hold on and went to my car and got a flash light, pocket knife, old pair of boots and a boonie hat to give to him. I also wrote down my PO Box address, Email, and phone number on a piece of paper and folded it up with a business card and the rest of the cash in my wallet, put it in a Ziploc bag and told him to hold on to it. I told him to contact me if he ever got the opportunity, a post card, email, or phone call, anything. I said I’d love to hear from him along his journey if ever possible. He shook his head in agreement, we shook hands, and as I backed out to leave, he was throwing away the trash he had collected thus far in the trashcan at the gas station.

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This isn’t a story about how I did a great deed and should be praised for it. This is a story about how I was in the right place at the right time in the right circumstances to not only help a fellow human being, but to learn a little bit about myself. If I hadn’t been called to help the County I would have never been looking for a man in that area and even if passed James on the road later I probably wouldn’t have even stopped. Then, he would’ve just continued his journey along the road drifting from place to place just free as a bird. It made me think that if I took the time to follow a whim more often, stopping to talk to someone or doing something out of kindness, maybe it would be a good thing. I envy James in a way. That man has no responsibilities, no taxes or bills. He has no sense of time, just “walking in the sun and sleeping in the moon” according to him. He isn’t obsessed with trivial meaningless things like social media and what silly thing the president said on twitter. Call me crazy, and I realize that I am blessed to have what I have, but there is something appealing about wandering freely in nature. The only thing he must do is survive. He is living like our cavemen/hunter and gatherer ancestors did, working together to live another day without being mauled by a beast or starving to death. It made me think of all the recent mass shootings and acts of violence going on around in this country. Maybe that is what this world is missing, a common mindset of community and survival. Maybe we would stop killing each other and realize that we should care for our fellow mankind, regardless of their status or appearance, to live harmoniously and happy, and cure this sickness we most certainly have. Now I realize that he could just be a man running from something or a murderer that gave me a fake name and story to avoid prison, but I’m glad that I met James Martin Lloyd. It was a good thing. Hopefully he makes it to St. Louis and if I hear from him I’ll be sure to update you all.

Introducing Life in the Kingdom: A Southern White Boy in a Foreign Land

Hello All,

Starting Wednesday, November 15th, And every other Wednesday after, a new Thread will be added to the blog. One of my best friends, David Wagg Cannon, lives and works in Saudi Arabia and i asked him if he wanted to write some about that. David and I graduated high school together and have been friends ever since. He accepted and sent an intro for himself and his contribution ideas for Generally Specific that you can read below with his photo.

 

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“To be honest when I accepted Zac’s invitation to contribute to this blog, I was hesitant. Then I quickly realized it was my first opportunity to use the Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism I spent six years getting. Yeah, the very one I haven’t utilized since graduating in 2015, and leaving my internship as Producer and On-Air personality at a local radio station.

This isn’t my first trek into the world of blogging. My last venture was a semester long requirement for a media class I was taking. Naturally, because I was required to do it, I put in just enough effort to get a good grade, and the corresponding credits. With that in mind, it’s not hard to fathom that this blog has already out paced the above mentioned.

Essentially, I’m here to add a little extra variety to the great content that Zac and Pate are already publishing. My main thread will be titled, “Life in the Kingdom,” because currently I am at the beginning of a second, one-year term contract working for a military contractor in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Over the course of this thread I will take you into the various aspects of what it’s like to be an American Expatriate (Expat) in the Middle East. From time to time, at Zac’s directive, I may branch off to hit another topic now and then, but my focus will be this thread. Over the first couple posts I will go into cultural barriers I’ve faced, the nightmare that can be international travel (especially from a Middle Eastern country to a western country), and even the most dangerous aspect of my day to day life (which will shock you). From there we will see where this vast desert land takes us. I’m always open to suggestions or questions, so please feel free to blow up the inbox!

So with that, grab your shemagh, sunglasses, and water bottle cause it’s always a hot one when you’re living “Life in the Kingdom!”

 

Get ready for a fun new addition, as always share the blog with your friends and hit us up in the inbox.

-Zac