It’s big world out there and many people feel that we should be more compassionate and kind to others. I agree. When it comes to offending people however, that is simply something that is out of my control. I have no problem with showing people kindness, and respect to those that have earned it, but to go as far as to make feeble attempts not to offend someone on every topic known to man is simply impossible.

It’s truly is impossible. We are all different. We’ve all had different experiences, and everything is a trigger to someone. Hell, the smell of freshly cut grass might be an emotional trigger to someone who endured a tragedy, whose mind then connected said tragedy to the smell of cut grass. On a global or otherwise large-scale it’s impossible to please everyone. Now, perhaps if that person was your friend or family, then you could anticipate and avoid that trigger since that situation is more intimate.

I just read an article about someone who saw a raw cotton plant in a vase at a craft store. That person decided it was a blatantly racist display and that it should be removed. Here is the message posted on the stores Facebook page.

“This decor is WRONG on SO many levels. There is nothing decorative about raw cotton… A commodity which was gained at the expense of African-American slaves. A little sensitivity goes a long way. PLEASE REMOVE THIS “decor”.”

It’s a plant. I bet the shirt on her back was made of cotton too. I wholeheartedly believe that some of these people are reaching out and searching for drama and conflict, while the rest are actually offended by even the smallest things.  You see, I just so happen to be disgusted by people feeling that the world needs to be some emotional safe haven, and people need to be protected and sheltered from every wrong thing. I’m offended by things too, but I don’t waste my time on it. There are far more important things in life that deserve my focus. The world is too complicated and the bad things will get you eventually so you might as well gain some wisdom and be prepared for it.


Anti-Cotton Post – Daniell Rider / Facebook

I love the power I have with a single click of a button. With the button depressed halfway, I hear the mechanical whir of the lens focus motor. I line up the shot, the composition is good, and I make my decision to complete the press. In a fraction of a second, I hear the sound of the camera’s mirror flip up to allow the light access to the millions of sensors beneath it. The shutter rolls past with a swift, smooth motion and the bits of data travel along the electrical pathways, shifting electrons in such a way that the image in front of me is now captured to memory.

While I was growing up, at the young age of three, I appeared in a photograph that my grandfather had taken. I’ve been in many since, but in this particular photograph, I was standing in front of a large sign with the words: “Welcome to Texas”; I held a camera loaded with film. My grandfather was my greatest inspiration since I spent a great deal of my childhood traveling with him and my grandmother with the ability to take photographs, and as a result, I learned early on how photography could be used to capture the world and save those precious memories. I wonder now if I could find those first photographs I had captured so long ago. They were only snapshots, but treasured ones.

I remember the days that I would go with my grandfather to our local Meijer store to pick up the film that had been turned in for development a day or two before. It was such an exciting feeling, because for the first time, every time, I got to see my photos and find out how many turned out. Some photos would be washed out, over, or under exposed. I still enjoy film to this day, however it is continually getting more difficult to get film developed.

The first instant camera I remember was the good old Polaroid. You could expose a photo on film and it would spit out a semi-processed photo immediately. You would simply wait a couple of minutes for the photo to finish self-development. No longer did we have to wait to see our photos! When digital cameras first appeared, they made photography easier, yet film remained king for at least a decade. For awhile, the Polaroids were the easiest and the greatest, unless you wanted the full quality that standard film had to offer. Computer software took awhile to catch up. Digital photos were commonly lower quality then was acceptable and it was a trade-off between quality and speed. The increasing use of email and instant messaging helped push digital even farther.

When I purchased my first digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, a Nikon D3200 with an 18-55mm zoom lens, I started to see the world. It opened my mind, and I started to see what I hadn’t previously. I started focusing on the composition of my photos and proper placement of the horizon lines. I learned the general guides of photography, such as the “rule of thirds”, the “golden rule”, and knowing when it’s okay to break those rules. I started taking photos from odd angles and experimenting with light as well as the absence of light. For the first time I had the ability to bring fast motion to a halt with a 4000th of a second shutter speed. It was beautiful. I could now take a clear sharp photo of a hummingbird in flight. I learned all the settings of my camera, and the fundamentals such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO speed. I got a feel for how much light a scene needed relative to my camera. I prefer to use as much natural light as I can get before resorting to the onboard flash. I generally use reflectors, and a remote flash, or perhaps I’ll bounce the light off of a ceiling. Anything that helps the light become softer and more diffused. I have since moved up to better equipment and digital photography has taught me more than I could have imagined.

My daughter and her siblings tend to see the lens of my Nikon more than they see my face. I take all the photos I can, but I also try to remember to take the time to experience myself in the moment. Trust me, it’s easy to spend the entire length of an event, snapping photos and then realize that you don’t even feel as if you were there. You feel like you didn’t participate in the event, because you didn’t. I want to be a part of my daughter’s life as well as capture as much as possible. I look back on photographs of myself when I was younger and I am astonished by how much information I can recall by viewing them. Smells, the feel of a room, and all of the experiences you’ve had in a prior home. I want to encourage her to take photographs so that she can understand their importance in life.

Sometimes I go out and take hundreds of photos in a single session. While I am out I will usually try to plan most of my photos in advance if I can. I take many variables into consideration before I snap the picture including lighting, composition, angles, and camera settings. I will take many photos of the same item because I know some will not turn out. I capture the world around me, trying to find any obscure fascinating detail I can about my subjects. I fill up my camera’s memory and I get it home. Post production of my photos is one of my favorite steps of photography, because I get to develop my photos myself. The camera isn’t perfect, and neither am I. I have to make many good decisions when I capture, so I’ll have less work in post-editing. Those minor tweaks can sometimes have a vast impact on the overall quality and feel of a photo and provides an opportunity for me to be more creative.

With photography there is no limit to the mass quantity of new gadgets available to me. As an avid technology junkie, I use it to the fullest extent possible. There are so many items and ideas that can improve my photography skills, and I feel comfortable knowing that they’ll only help me accomplish more over time. Moreover knowing how to work with minimal equipment is also a great skill to hone. My interest in photography has also given me quite an advantage over others that sell products on the internet. It has also helped me understand how best to take product photographs so they look more professional, such as you’d find in a catalog or a magazine. Photography has indeed improved my life in many ways, from the way I think, to the small details of the world that I had previously missed. I see so much more beauty in the world then I previously have. Whether it’s the amazing colors in the setting sky, or a crumbling city building in an otherwise overlooked place, photography helps me to connect with my past and preserve memories and places without words or interpretation.

Change. We all want it. We “want to make America great again.” In 2008 it we wanted “change to believe in” and even back in 1992 we heard “For people, for a change.” It seems like all we ever want is change, but everyone isn’t ready or willing. These words were spoken by our presidential candidates in order to gain access to the White House. The problem isn’t with the presidents or the words they speak.  It is because of all of us that our problems don’t go away. It is our fault! Change won’t happen if we don’t make it happen. For example, our president could be all about recycling. That won’t change millions of Americans from contributing to landfills every week. Each one of us should be selfish and recycle, not for anyone else’s benefit, but simply for our own pride. If you decided to wake up each day and make a few great decisions in your life, that in itself would better America as a whole. If you’re walking down the street and see some trash, pick it up and place it in a bin. If you see something wrong in your life, make that extra effort to improve it.

Common sense is not common anymore, we see this more and more as our society gets lazier and lives with greed. We take so much for granted. Our country slows down innovation and technological advancement just so it can make a little more money. So many countries have much more advanced technology and internet speeds than we do. We have monopolies here. We aren’t supposed to, but we do. When companies such as Comcast have an entire area all to themselves and are the only ones offering faster service, they can make up the rules as they go along. They can charge more than usual for less in different areas if they’ve got that area to themselves. Why do we let this happen? Why aren’t we standing together and defending our positions? How are we suppose to make these changes if no one will do what it takes?

We also have people in Congress and the House that have been there for decades. How are we to make changes when they’ve carried the same old position for years? How are we supposed to get proper representation for our country when so many votes are biased by lobbyists? This election of 2016 is a fucking joke. I’ve thought we haven’t had good choices for the past few elections but this one tops it. Others and myself don’t understand how our country can be taken seriously when our candidates can’t shut up long enough to talk about real issues. They bitch about petty bullshit that has everything to do with them but not about our country. They are disrespectful towards each other. It looks like a couple of 5th graders that belong in detention. Couldn’t we get anyone smarter than a fifth-grader? The presidency seems to be only a game to them and I think we deserve to be taken seriously. I’ve also had it with this “Democrat / Republican” crap. Third parties and independents never have a real chance at winning. They should be in the debates as well. I could tell Bernie Sanders was serious about making some real changes, you can look at his political record and see that he’d have made a great president. Unfortunately all the people that can actually do the job, get voted off the island because the people of our country are too lazy to research the candidates properly. You know who you are. Instead of relying on your friend’s word about something as important as this, do your own research and come up with an opinion all of your own. You want change? Work for it. Make change. It’s that simple to get started.

So I have taken some time to read up on Michigan’s knife laws again. I am quite astonished to find that the laws are pretty terrible. Here’s the short version: If you want to be sure you, as a law abiding citizen of Michigan, stay out of jail then you’ll most likely want to keep your knives at home, buy a gun, and get a Concealed Pistol Permit. If you do carry a knife, and want to stay out of prison, don’t ever use a knife for self-defense unless you are on land you own. Yeah, seriously, that’s what the law says.

Tac-Force TF-428P

Tac-Force TF-428P

So I picked up a knife at a truck stop a few weeks ago and I’ve been carrying it on my belt quite a bit. I like to keep a knife on my person for many reasons. Sometimes you need to cut some thing like shipping tape on a box or opening any sort of plastic packaging needs a good knife. Cutting a rope, or seatbelt in the event of an accident. Self-defense is also another obvious reason a person might carry a knife. You know, the exact same reason people legally carry guns. These are all good and valid reasons to carry a knife. The knife in question is a Tac-Force TF-428 which by law seems to be classified as a stiletto and probably considered a “double-edge folding knife” which is LEGAL to open carry. Pretty much any knife except those banned from Michigan CAN be open carried.

So what does that mean for me? Well, I can legally carry it on my belt, preferably with my shirt tucked in to make it visibly not concealed. I have heard stories of people who open carried a firearm, but because the shirt or jacket covered it up, the officer decided that was concealed and thus illegal due to the person not having a CPL. However, this does not mean I won’t get stopped by police while walking down the street. This knife and pretty much all others appears to be illegal to carry in a vehicle, whether carried openly or concealed.

You can see below, in MCL 750.227 there is no legal way to carry a knife in a vehicle unless you are on your “own property, place of business, or other land possessed by the person”. Where as you may carry a pistol open, concealed, or otherwise in a vehicle if “a license to carry the pistol as provided by law” is obtained. I feel like knives should fall under the CPL licensing or should have their own licensing.

 KnifeUp has a great resource for Michigan knife laws and better understanding.

KnifeUp has a great resource for Michigan knife laws and better understanding.

I’d like to know why I am not allowed to defend myself with a knife if I need it. Why is that illegal? Why is a knife so illegal? Just about anyone without criminal convictions can legally own and open carry a loaded firearm? If some person threatens me or my family’s life with a knife I am not allowed to use a knife in self-defense in Michigan, and if I do, I will surely be arrested under MCL § 750.226. So basically the law states that I should shoot to kill with a pistol, instead of a knife. Not to mention, even if you don’t use it for self-defense, even if your just walking down the street, they could still get you for carrying it with unlawful intent if you hint that self-defense is your reason for carrying. This is a felony charge with up to 5 years in prison and/or $2,500.
MCL § 750.226 – Firearm or dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument; carrying with unlawful intent; violation as felony; penalty.

(1) A person shall not, with intent to use the same unlawfully against the person of another, go armed with a pistol or other firearm, or a pneumatic gun, dagger, dirk, razor, stiletto, or knife having a blade over 3 inches in length, or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument.

(2) A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than $2,500.00.

MCL § 750.227 Concealed weapons; carrying; penalty.

(1) A person shall not carry a dagger, dirk, stiletto, a double-edged non-folding stabbing instrument of any length, or any other dangerous weapon, except a hunting knife adapted and carried as such, concealed on or about his or her person, or whether concealed or otherwise in any vehicle operated or occupied by the person, except in his or her dwelling house, place of business or on other land possessed by the person.

(2) A person shall not carry a pistol concealed on or about his or her person, or, whether concealed or otherwise, in a vehicle operated or occupied by the person, except in his or her dwelling house, place of business, or on other land possessed by the person, without a license to carry the pistol as provided by law and if licensed, shall not carry the pistol in a place or manner inconsistent with any restrictions upon such license.

(3) A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or by a fine of not more than $2,500.00.


A. Steinmetz (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Many people have been waiting for the grand age of twenty-five to finally have lower car insurance rates. I am twenty-six myself, and I was very much disappointed when I turned twenty-five, as my rates didn’t go down. In fact, the cost for car insurance almost doubled! While trying to find out why, I came across some policies and statistics that companies like Esurance use.

Because of these factors and other statistics, I end up paying high insurance rates. Over $150.00 every month for the state minimum required insurance.



Factor #1: Driving History (Acceptable)

Alright I’m cool with that. Obviously a persons driving record is a major risk assessment. Previous accidents or speeding means that individual may continue to take such risks, and therefore their insurance rate should be higher. Where as someone with a clean driving record means they likely don’t take risks and are better drivers. They get lower rates because the insurance company doesn’t expect many claims.


Factor #2: Location (Acceptable)

I understand this one as well. Insurance rates are usually higher in the more densely populated areas, high rates of crime, and locations that have a high rate of claims. These statistically create more risk for the insurance company.


Factor #3: Coverage Levels and Vehicle Value (Acceptable)

Different coverage levels are ways to create balance in premium costs and future deductibles. Fair enough, and vehicle values represent how much money the insurance will have to pay out in the event of a claim. Sure, that’s valid.


Factor #4: Drivers (Unacceptable!)

Here is one area I feel statistics are not enough. I’m being punished for other peoples mistakes or risk taking. Just because other people can’t drive, or refuse to drive safely, why should I be charged more!? Until you see a speeding ticket on my record, or some other actual proof that I’m taking risks out there, I need a clean driver history discount! Just keep insurance rates low, until someone messes up. Then and only then, should they double the rates.

Excerpt from the Esurance website:

“Insurance companies charge young, inexperienced drivers— both male and female— higher auto insurance rates since they’re more likely to cause an accident or file an auto insurance claim during their young driving careers.
Likewise, mature drivers generally see auto insurance premiums increase as they get older. This is due to the higher rate of accident claims among older drivers. To help combat this expense, Esurance offers a discount to mature drivers in many states. To qualify, you need to meet the age criteria for your state and take a non-court ordered, state-approved defensive driver safety course.
Your gender also plays a role in predicting how you’ll perform behind a wheel and thus how high (or low) your auto insurance premium should be. Males between the ages of 16-25 pay more for auto insurance than females of the same age. Statistically it has been shown that males drive faster than females, and that young males generally take more risks behind the wheel.
However, male drivers can look forward to lower auto insurance rates than their female counterparts as they mature. As their driving experience grows, males will find that they pay less for auto insurance— especially with a good driving record and few to no auto insurance claims.”

Factor #5: Insurance History (Unacceptable!)

There have been times where my vehicle has been broken down for months at a time. Why should I pay out for insurance when I’m not even driving it!? Sure the insurance might cover damage on my property, but thats only if I shell out a whole lot more money for comprehensive coverage. I have been told more than once by a few insurance companies that if I turn off my coverage, even for one month, that it can make my rates go up considerably. A gap in coverage. One summer I rode my motorcycle, which is insured year round. I was driving someone elses car at that time and therefore didn’t require “car insurance”. The insurance companies don’t care that you had coverage on a motorcycle, it just doesn’t count. The only solution to this seems to be to put coverage on a car year round, even if that car is nothing more than a paperwieght. That is, if you want to keep your low rates.


Factor #6: Credit Score (Unacceptable!!!)

If you have a low credit score, they charge you more. So, if you’ve had money problems in the past or if you are a younger driver without much credit history, they will make it hard for you to get car insurance. Think about the many people out there driving without any car insurance, simply because they need to get around, get to work, or get to school. It’s bad enough when you’re trying to hold down a crappy job, but when the insurance companies want even more of your hard earned money just because you wrote a bad check or two? What does that have to do with driving!? I understand charging more for a payment plan, or wanting to be paid upfront, but if the pay in full price is just as high? What makes this fair?


We’re going to continue to get ripped off by insurance companies and here in Michigan we have it the worst, or close to it. Unless someone decides to say something about how unfair this all is and helps make a change to prevent the insurance companies from billion dollar profits, while we all try and drive safe while paying so much money for nothing. Oh yeah, and have you tried to get money back from the insurance companies in a claim? Good luck getting it back!


Photo Credit:
A. Steinmetz
CC BY-SA 2.0