Hurricane Madelyn

I have a 3 year old daughter named Madelyn. She normally looks something like this:

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Don’t get me wrong, she is lots of fun when she is being playful and in a good mood, but my little “threenager” is a violent outburst waiting to happen… and I love her to death. When Maddie came in to my life, I wasn’t sure I was ready to be a dad. I suppose I should tell you a little backstory at this point.

I met my wife, Emily, on eHarmony while I was deployed in Bahrain. She was pregnant with Maddie, and I realized that her being pregnant wasn’t going to stop me from getting to know this amazing woman. I was traveling from Norfolk, VA to Whidbey Island, WA when Maddie was born. Not being with Emily during that time caused me to be really conflicted about being a father and I was really confused about my decisions. I worried that I wouldn’t be good enough or wouldn’t know what to do. I had no idea what I was getting in to, and I was about to jump in the deep end without knowing how to swim. I made it to Portland, OR and took a flight back to Charleston, WV to be with Emily and Maddie. Yes, I drove all the way across the country and then flew back. Shut up. I was still really unnerved about this huge shift in my life, but it all changed when I saw Madelyn Jane for the first time. When I held her, my fate was sealed.

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This little girl had me wrapped around her finger, and I wasn’t letting her go. After a few days, I flew back to Portland and completed my trip to WA. I spent a few months in an unnecessary training school, and then drove down to Dallas where Emily and Maddie were waiting for me. Together, we began our adventure together as a family and headed south to New Orleans, LA.

We’ve had our ups and downs in NOLA, and we’ve had quite an interesting few years here, but one thing has been a constant: Maddie is a force of nature. As soon as she became mobile, she earned the nickname Hurricane Maddie. She could destroy just about anything, and being in New Orleans, it seemed fitting.

Despite the constant craziness, Maddie is such a fun little girl. Shes so smart and curious, and often devious and nefarious. She’s a goofball and cuddlebug. She’s so wild and energetic that it’s like chasing the Tasmanian Devil. Watching her personality grow has been an amazing thing. Her facial expressions are priceless and her smile in infectious.

The challenge that Emily and I embarked upon when we started all of this was the beginning of the best adventure of my life. Together we are raising a girl who will be a tough, smart, and talented person. She will have any opportunity we can give her, and I want her to be able to explore anything that interests her. These three years have taught me that the toughest things in life are the most rewarding. Maddie has made our lives so full and so vibrant, but she has also driven us absolutely crazy. At the end of the day though, I see that smile, and I hear, “I love you daddy”, and my heart melts for that little girl.

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I am so proud to be her father. I’m so in love with the little hell raiser who can become a sweetheart in no time flat. She is my little girl, and I’m so happy that she will soon become a Townsend. We are currently in the process of finalizing my adoption of her as my daughter, and her name will become Madelyn Jane Townsend. I can’t help but think back on the wonderful times her and I have had in the three years so far, and know that those times are only the beginning. Emily and I are so lucky to have Maddie to fill our lives with her craziness and love.

I love you little girl.

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Our sweet little Madelyn.

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Vaping: The Good, The Bad, and Some How-To

I vape. I’ve been doing it for about 2 ½ years now, and it was one of the better decisions I have made. I’ll be honest, I did it to quit smoking cigarettes, but I didn’t do it to give up nicotine. Please hold all judgments until the end of the presentation. The reason I wanted to give up cigarettes was my daughter, Madelyn. I didn’t want her to associate that awful smell with me, so I switched to e-cigarettes and never looked back.

I want to talk about the good and bad side of being a vaper, and I also want to pass along some things I have learned along the way. These may be good tips for someone looking to switch over to e-cigarettes or upgrading, or for someone looking to becoming more do-it-yourself in regards to building their e-cigarette or making e-liquids.

I’m going to start with the negative things first. I know everyone has heard the various reports of the ways that e-cigarettes are dangerous. Poisonings, batteries exploding, popcorn lung, metal poisoning, and the list goes on and on. Most of these reports have been debunked, and in some cases, it has been shown that the reports and studies were funded and purposely skewed by the major tobacco companies. Some of these were simply misleading, such as the poisoning report by the CDC, in which it wasn’t the actual smoking of e-cigarettes causing poisoning. Vapers were leaving their e-liquid unattended around small children, and the poisoning would occur after the child swallowed the e-liquid. This, of course, caused a huge spike in reported cases, because they had never tracked them before 2013. The battery explosion nonsense has been blown out of proportion (pun intended). If a battery is mishandled or mistreated, it can catch fire (not explode), which can be seen in phones, vehicles, hover boards, and numerous other electronic devices. Use and handle your batteries correctly, and they will almost never malfunction. As the industry has grown, the manufacturers are becoming more careful about what they use and how they create their products. When e-cigarettes first became popular, the main detractors were claiming that they were using antifreeze as an ingredient in the liquids. Propylene glycol, which is one of the bases of e-liquid, is a commonly used pharmaceutical and food product chemical that has nothing to do with antifreeze in that form. The main problem with the detractors of e-cigarettes is ignorance. Yes, they are obviously less healthy than not smoking, and they are still too new to the market to have been fully studied. I fully accept the fact that I am continuing an addictive habit by vaping, but I would rather deal with materials and liquids that list all the ingredients they use. When you smoke a cigarette, you have no idea what is in it, and we all know the deadly history of smoking.

So, if I knew smoking would kill me, why did I start smoking in the first place? I started smoking because it was the only way you could get a break. When I was younger, I used to give my dad and sister a ton of shit for smoking. I would always say I didn’t want to smoke. I kept that strong until I was 25. When I joined the Navy, you really didn’t get many breaks as an airman. To get a break at work, I would go out to the smoking area because you would get yelled at if you were sitting around the shop. At first, I didn’t smoke out there, but eventually I did because I couldn’t be out there if I wasn’t smoking. Thank You Navy! So, that’s what got me in to smoking, and that’s what brought me around to vaping. I don’t do it to be cool or because it feels good. I know there is a lot of rhetoric about why people start smoking, and there are a lot of reasons, but you get addicted, and it is hard to break bad habits. I quit for 6 months at one point, but started again during a stressful stretch at work. I’m not looking for pity, sympathy, or making excuses. It’s not the best thing in the world for me, but I think it’s better than me smoking cigarettes. I’m really not going to get in to the whole social connotations of vaping. Every group of people has their assholes and douche-bags. Just because some vapers are disrespectful of other people doesn’t mean we all are.

Vaping isn’t for everyone, and some people would rather just stick with cigarettes. Me condemning them would be hypocritical, so I won’t. I chose to vape, and now I want to talk about some of the good things I’ve found along the way. I will tell you that I feel better than I did when I smoked cigarettes. There is something about not inhaling large amounts of tar and other crap anymore that my lungs thank me for. My wallet also thanks me, since vaping is significantly cheaper. I was spending roughly $150 a month on cigarettes, and that was over 2 years ago. It would probably be more nowadays. Vaping usually costs me about $40-50 a month in liquid and sometimes I have to buy new equipment or materials to rebuild my e-cigarette. Recently, I got in to making my own liquid, which I will talk more about later, which will lower my monthly cost even more.

My first attempt at e-cigarettes was with the cig-a-like type, but I wasn’t too impressed with it. When I decided to go with vaping full time, I started out with a vape pen. Vape pens are a cheap starter device for someone looking in to trying vaping, but aren’t sold on it yet. I started out with Volcano e-cigs, but as I moved to an Advanced Personal Vaper (APV) I started trying other brands. Now there are a ton of brands out there for liquids and for devices, not to mention countless places to purchase them. My advice is to do your research in to anything you are interested in purchasing before you do buy it.

A breakdown of different types of vaping devices can be found here: http://www.cigbuyer.com/types-of-e-cigarettes/.

I’m sure you have seen many different brick and mortar vape shops around where you live, and for those times when you need something right now, they are great. The big problem with vape shops is the price mark ups and they often only sell things that they like. I know you have to make money, but I don’t really want to pay mark up on something that I can afford to wait a few days on. If you have the patience and do your research, look online for the best deal and be sure the read reviews. A great thing about the vaping industry is the companies are trying to be as transparent as possible with their products in an effort to attract more cigarette smokers to switch over.

Sidebar: This brings me to the attraction of underage smokers. Let’s get real folks, kids smoked cigarettes underage. You can try and lay the same blame on vaping as they did on cigarette advertising, but the only companies who can afford to advertise their vaping products like that are the tobacco companies who bought in after they decided to stop fighting against it. If kids are able to buy this stuff in stores, then the blame lies on the sellers who aren’t checking their IDs, and if they are getting it online then the blame is on the parents for not paying attention to what their kids are doing online. Age verification online only goes so far, and if they are buying e-cigarettes online, I’m sure they are looking up things worse than that. The key to keeping it out of the hands of minors is paying attention.

Anyways, back to the topic, vape shops are convenient, but a lot of them are predatory towards uneducated vapers. If they are the only shop in the area, they don’t have to be competitive, and the customer pays the price. Something that you can get online for $50 including shipping can cost you upwards of $100 in a vape shop. Liquid can be just as bad. To be fair, not every vape shop is like this. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea, but be a smart shopper and check prices before you buy.

As a vaper, the more experienced you are, the more preferential you become. Some people go for cloud production, and some people go for nicotine content. People also usually stick to flavor groups as well: fruits, sweets, tobaccos, desserts, etc. I could sit here and beat you to death with stuff, but I think I have done that already so here are a few guides for those interested in looking deeper in to vaping.

Beginner’s Guide: http://onvaping.com/guides/beginners-guide-to-vaping/

Advanced Guides: https://www.planetofthevapes.co.uk/guides/advanced-vaping

You can also surf the Internet and YouTube for numerous other resources and information on vaping how-to. One of my favorite things was learning how to build coils for Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers (RDAs). Of course, I got lazy and started buying pre-made coils once I got in to the more complex coil builds, but I fully support anyone who has the time and inclination to do so. I have switched back and forth between sub-ohm tanks and RDAs, but some prefer one or the other.

Here are the sites that I frequent for equipment, parts, and e-liquid:

Mt Baker Vapor

Vapor Beast

Vape NW

The Vape Mall

Liquid Barn

The last thing I want to cover is making your own liquid. I guy I worked with started to make his own liquid last year, and he set about making an Orange Cream flavor, and asked my opinion. I had searched high and low for an Orange Cream flavor on the Internet, and had no luck. Anyways, after a couple of iterations, he made a version that was perfect, and I was sold. Last month, after he got transferred, I decided to start making my own liquid. I had done the research, it was cheaper to make my own juice, and I wanted to make the Orange Cream for myself. I needled and annoyed the recipe out of him (which I will never divulge or profit from because I’m not a dick), and got everything I needed to make 500 ml of it. I broke it down in to 100 ml bottles and each bottle ended up costing me about $13. To give you guys an insight of how cheap that is, to buy the run of the mill juice from vape shops or online retailers, 15-30 ml bottles can run you anywhere from $10-30 a piece. I made this stuff at home and made significantly more for substantially cheaper. It will only get cheaper as well, since I didn’t go with the cheapest options on bases the first time around. I can get my costs down around $3-4 per 100 ml if I do it right, which is definitely the only way to go if you have the time and you want to put in the effort. If you don’t want to put in the effort, there are sellers out there who make good liquid pretty cheap, and don’t charge you extra for the name on the bottle. I’m going to send some business my buddy’s way if that is the case: Adam Hesterley

To wrap this all up in a nice bow, I’m glad I made the decision to switch over to vaping. There are a lot of negative things out there about vaping, but I think most of it is due to misinformation. If you are looking to getting in to vaping, there are a lot of options, and if already are a vaper, there are a lot of ways to control your vaping like building your own atomizers and mixing your own liquid. I’m not advocating for anyone to do it, but I’m just putting this out there so people have the information. Do with it what you will.

Let the judgment commence!

The Painful War Between LGBT Pride and Religious Prejudice

Writer’s Note: this post is my opinion. You may or may not agree with me, and that’s fine. I wanted to share some thoughts and personal views, and here they are. I’m not sorry if I offend you, and I’m happy if I maybe shined a little light for those who’s struggles deserve to be recognized. Every little bit counts in bringing true equality to America. 

So let’s begin.

In case you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, the political firestorm surrounding the battle for LGBT rights has been one of the more divisive topics in our country’s history. Echoes of the struggles that minorities and women had to face to earn their rights are reverberating through this movement, but there is a different opponent fighting back: the religious community. Now, as a person without a dog in this fight, I do have an outsider’s viewpoint. I am neither religious nor am I a part of the LGBT community. I have friends and family members that are a part of both, so I do feel a personal connection to this difficult and troubling contest of wills. Let it be known that I am not attacking anyone. I firmly believe that religion has no place in our government, and they have no right in making decisions on the rights of others in this country. I also believe that people should have the freedom to follow whatever religion they want, and be able to practice the tenets of those beliefs as long as they are not at the expense of others or to do harm to others. So now that I have that out of the way, let me get to the details of the way I feel. 

This country is founded on the idea of freedom, and while the people who wrote those words were quite flawed themselves, their words and ideals were meant to grant those that followed a chance to pursue their freedoms as Americans. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”. Within that amendment, you find that the government should not put one religion above another, and also they are not to infringe on an American citizen’s right to follow their personal beliefs. This also includes the right for any American to choose to not follow any religion, or to believe whatever parts of religions they choose to. Thomas Jefferson spoke about the fact that the governments should be separated from religion, but unfortunately through the years since the country was founded, Christian religions have gained a foothold in American politics. This slant towards a sect of religions began to influence politics and allowed for favorable laws to be passed. Despite the First Amendment still being in effect, certain religious communities have faced persecution while others have been raised above the others. We all know that this isn’t fair. This is one of the many things in this country that is depressingly unequal, and a community that is built on such uneven ground as religion cannot be toppled as easily as others. The Christian religions dominate this country, and they benefit most from the leeway granted by the government’s favoritism. Until recently, the federal government’s viewpoint on marriage was based on a religious aspect of a union between only a man and a woman. Many Christian dates are national holidays in America, while no Jewish or Islamic holidays are nationally celebrated. We were not founded as a Christian nation, but over time, the First Amendment was ignored and we have become a de-facto Christian nation. 

Now that I have railed against Christianity for a bit, I will give a peace offering. Christianity, in its many forms, is not inherently evil or power hungry. I don’t think any religion is. I do believe there is a higher power that gave us life. I think that we can live a good life and treat others well, and when it is all said and done, we will be judged on that, and not what religion we followed. I don’t think that any religion has the right answer so I chose to not follow any of them. I think people have the right to believe what they want. I think that they have a right to be a part of this country, and they have the right to share their beliefs and practice them freely. No religion truly condones the awful violence and hatred carried out in their name, so condemning an entire religion for the horrible things done by the few psychopaths that claim the religion should not be representative of the whole. Every religion has the right to freely practice in this country, even the people who pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The point here is that no group should be above another in this country in any facet of life. No group in this country should be able to determine the rights and freedoms of another group either. In the same vein, the granted freedom and rights of one group should not infringe on the already present rights and freedoms of another group. LGBT Americans should have the same rights as everyone else. They should be as accepted as anyone else. If you have something against the LGBT community for no reason other than you are a hateful bigot, you have the right granted by the First Amendment to voice your opinion, but you are still a fucking asshole. If your religion precludes you from supporting the LGBT lifestyle, then that is your First Amendment right as well. Here comes the tricky part of this whole debate. What gives people the right to deny service, and why is it directly aimed at the LGBT community? The federal government woke up and did everything they could to open doors for this community, but some states are siding with religion and allowing discrimination based on being a part of the LGBT community. You want to talk about a double-edged sword? Here is the perfect example: approving these bills allows the continued persecution and discrimination based on unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment which a religion is held above another, and denying this bill will be an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment in which the government is not allowing its people to freely practice their religion. Yes, either way you go, you are violating the First Amendment because this whole battle is unconstitutional. No religion should been granted so much power to have sway over the government, and no group should have to fight for the rights they should already have as Americans. 

My personal experiences with the battle for LGBT rights have come from watching the struggles of those around me. I have watched the past few years tear this country apart along so many dividing lines. Violence, hatred, racism, sexism, bigotry, and every other thing that could possibly plague a country as diverse as ours has reared its head. The ugliest thing is how hard people in this country fight against each other instead of for each other. As a member of the military, I have the privilege of serving this country and all who call it home. I didn’t join to serve in defense of one group or another, but for all. Men and women from every corner of this nation, and even people seeking citizenship joined up to do the same thing. It didn’t matter where you came from; all that mattered was that you were sacrificing for the country. Until recently, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was the military’s way of dealing with homosexuality without really addressing it. The myth was if you made it public knowledge, you would be discharged, but you were fine if you kept it to yourself. While there are people in the military who are homophobic, there are vast majorities who don’t have a problem with it. I knew several people in the military who were openly gay before DADT was repealed, and there was never a threat of being discharged. DADT was officially repealed in late 2011, which was monumental, but what they didn’t tell you, was that they still wouldn’t be able to receive the same rights as straight military members in reference to marriage and benefits. Those things did not change until 2013 when the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down and the federal government recognized same sex marriages as legal. It took another two years for the Supreme Court to block states from denying marriage benefits to military members because certain states did not recognize same sex marriage. While the military world is not perfect, they have found a way to help the communities coexist better. The fight for women’s rights is still ongoing, but progress is being made. My time in the military isn’t going to last forever, and I have a feeling that it will come to a close sooner than later due to my back problems, but I can say I am proud to be a part of a military generation that is working towards equality across the board. 

I’m no fool. I know that this battle is something that will go on for a long time. Despite the progressive attitude that is starting to take hold in this country, we are still rooted deep in our past of being separated by our differences. I think the best thing that could happen from this is for people to push for the rights of everyone to be treated equally. I think we shouldn’t hold any religion over the other. I don’t think they should be involved in the lawmaking of this country or the states. I think the citizens of this country should be able to freely practice their religions, and I think any corporation or privately owned business that has a PUBLIC religious affiliation should be able to choose who they offer their business to. In that same line of thinking, those businesses and corporations should no longer receive tax breaks for their affiliations, and no religions should receive tax breaks or exemptions. No favoritism should be shown, and everyone should pay his or her dues. In reference to me saying that companies and businesses can choose whom they offer their business to, that is a slippery slope in and of itself. I think that most people would agree that you should be open and understanding with any customers/employees that you may have, and if you do have any codes of conduct, dress codes, or customer/employee requirements, they must be clearly stated and based in equality. People also have to learn to be respectful and treat people equally across all walks of life. We are all humans after all, and America is supposed to be the land of the free. I believe we can have religious freedom and equality along with LGBT freedom and equality. I think we can all be free and equal in this land, and all it takes is for us to realize that no matter what you believe, we have to work together to bring this country together again. 

 

If you have any thoughts on this post or the subject in general, I would love to hear it. This is just my opinion, and I am only so informed. I love hearing from other people, and educated discussion is always encouraged. Conversely, if you think I’m a fucking idiot but are just being hateful and close-minded, don’t bother adding your input. Thanks. 

Guest Writers Wanted

I haven’t been using my blog as much as I’ve wanted to lately. As a writer, I’ve gone through cycles of productivity, and this has been a lengthy down period. During this time I’ve considered the idea of having guest writers on my blog, and I think it’s time to broach the subject on here.

Seeing as I call this a tribune, I would love for my blog to become a place with several contributors. I think that it would add an interesting dynamic to the site and perhaps spark more creativity and bring more readers around.

Anyways, here are my requirements if anyone is interested in being a guest writer:

  1. I will not accept anything that goes against my moral code. I have no problem with things that I may generally disagree with, but anything that is hateful or abusive will not be published.
  2. No agendas. I don’t need anyone pushing any propaganda or hocking products on here. If you want to do reviews or things like that, that’s fine, but this site isn’t here to sell stuff. If there are any special causes or things that you want to bring attention to, speak to me about it first and we will discuss it, but that is a very limited basis.
  3. You must present something that has substance and will not require heavy editing. I want pieces that are more than a Facebook post.
  4. I do not require specific topics or ideas, but I do want the subject to be something you are passionate about. This blog has never held to a theme. I love sharing my passions and I want you to do the same.
  5. No plagiarizing. If you quote or reference something, please include where you got it from.

I’m sure I will come up with more requirements as time goes along, but that is it for now. I want this to be a platform for people to share with the world. Some people don’t want to start a blog, but they do want to write from time to time. I would love to be able to give them a space to do so. I hope to have people come in and add some great new facets to Town’s End Tribune.

If you are interested, contact me via Facebook or email me at townsend3284@gmail.com. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from some interested writers!

NFL Free Agency Lies and Greed

I have some thoughts on my mind in relation to the start of free agency in the NFL yesterday. Any athlete of any sport who changes teams for more money and then says they loved playing for their old team but they had to “take care of their family” is full of shit. You are getting paid millions. Taking care of your family is no longer a problem. Now you’re just being vain and greedy.

Be honest and say you are out to make as much money as possible. Don’t lie to us and say you are taking care of your family. Justify it to yourself however you like, but don’t try and lie to the fans who make substantially less than you. Saying that you can’t take care of your family for less than… let’s say… $18 million a year is really fucking arrogant to throw in people’s faces. Most of the fanbase of major sports makes less than $100,000, so saying that $18 million is your bottom limit is comical. It’s not only comical, but it is also shameful and a damn lie.

Now, if you know me, you know I am a Denver Broncos fan. I’m sure if you looked, you could determine the culprit of the aggravating statement. Yes, I believe that mainstream entertainers and athletes are incredibly overpaid. I could go in to a huge philosophical rant about it, but that isn’t the point here. I love football, and I have been a Broncos fan since I was 10. Here’s proof:

IMG_3575 I root for guys that play a kid’s game and get paid ridiculous amounts. I got kinda choked up watching Peyton Manning’s retirement speech. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Denver prove everyone wrong and win the Super Bowl. Most of these guys are completely comfortable in their greed and avarice, and that’s good for them. That’s the miracle of capitalism for you. I would rather see unabashed admittance of the fact rather than some lame ass attempt at a justification. If you are the best player at your position, then it is justified that you be paid as such, no matter how outrageous the sum. There isn’t any reason to hide your money grubbing ways. I’m not going to stop being a fan of professional football just because the league is filled with more money than they know what to do with. In relation to the previously mentioned player with sub $18 million family care problems, the team he joined had to give him such a big contract… so they wouldn’t get fined for not spending enough money! Did you catch that? The NFL would have fined this team if they did not spend enough money on players. I love it.

Anyways, in conjunction with that player leaving, another player, who only started in 7 games over 4 years, went and got himself a big fat contract from another team. Unlike the pervious player, he was not ashamed at all of being completely greedy. He made no excuses and he told no lies. He was all about getting all the money he could in a market that he exploited due to lack of other viable player options. On one hand, good for him. On the other hand, go fuck yourself for being a douche and walking away from the Broncos. Sorry, I’m bitter and petty. It happens.

Update: so the $18 million family man made the comment that the Broncos could have signed him, the greedy one, and another player for less than nothing. Besides the obvious stupidity of that statement, let’s check the facts here: the three contracts for the upcoming season alone total out to about $40 million and the lifetime total altogether is around $200 million. The Broncos have roughly $17 million to spend on players not under contract for next season. So you are telling me that these three guys who just signed the biggest contracts of their lives would have taken less than half of what they signed for? YEAH RIGHT! More lies and bullshit. Just say it with me… Show me the money!

So here’s to another free agency period of players lying to the fans and teams they are leaving behind and chasing those millions of dollars they need to feed their starving families. Either that or they are  just chasing those millions to be greeeeeeeeedy! I will leave you with my fondest memory of this past season. Enjoy!

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