Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful, everyday

Thanksgiving, according to Wikipedia: summarized: "an annual tradition since 1863, when during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26.  The event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated to give thanks to God for guiding them safely to the New World. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days.  The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was given by the Continental Congress in 1777 and since December 26, 1941, Thanksgiving has been the fourth Saturday in November--for economic reasons.  Thanksgiving was originally a religious observance for all the members of the community to give thanks to God for a common purpose.  

That's the nerd portion of this the WIKI link above if you wish to be an expert on the subject of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving, according to Bruce T:

To some, today will be the busiest travel day of the year, stuck in traffic giving a fellow traveler the thanksgiving bird--pun intended. For many, today is a precursor to the busiest shopping day of the year and a day to map out a battle plan to overdose on "door buster" deals during their annual consumer binge of epic proportions. Some of you will be off to a dreaded family event full of forced smiles, superficial hugs, and half gripped hand shakes.  For Green Bay Packer fans, it will be an afternoon filled with stress and emotion hoping for an 11-0 standing @ Detroit.

I will be spending the entire day with my cherished family and friends.

Most of us could come up with 100 things we ARE NOT thankful for right now, but not me. I refuse. I could give you 100 plus things I AM thankful for right now.  Lucky for you, I want you to continue to read my blog posts and not be bored.

For me, today is a day, like every other day, that I can find much to be thankful for, no holiday needed. Despite the pain and loss that came earlier this year, I am thankful everyday for:

Three amazing children.  During such a difficult year, their resilience and strengths inspire me and everyone they come in contact with.  Three amazing faces staring back at me, giving me the strength I need to relentlessly push forward.   Their minds and hearts continue to grow, they are great students, well behaved children, we are all extremely proud of them.

Jodi and the life we shared.  Ten years of memories crammed into 28 months.  My eyes have never been this wide open.  I have never looked at the world in the positive ways I do now.  So many unimportant things that once were big, have become small and rendered irrelevant.  I am soaking in and appreciating every single moment of every single day.  Thankful for the time we were given, and that through Jodi's eyes, I learned to truly live in the moment.  Living for today, not worrying about tomorrow, and letting yesterday be just that--yesterday. 

Family,  not just my given family, but also my family of choice.  And it is huge.  I have the loving family I was born into, I have Jodi's amazing family, and I have my closest friends.  All of those things combined make up the strongest support network anyone can have, and for that, I am also truly thankful.

Friends.  Old and new.  It has been an amazing year on the subject of friends.   I can't even begin to count the numbers.  During the past seven months, friends have just appeared out of nowhere at a time when they were much needed.  Funny how that works, you are always there when I need you.  In April, I was truly amazed by the support coming in from all directions.  I reconnected with old friends, made new friends, even found friends in the most unlikely places.  Suddenly, friendships and support were coming in from people I have not seen or heard from since Jr. High School, and even more amazing, I made friends with people I still have not even met, but know from their support, posts, pictures and comments on Facebook.  I even have friends through business circles that exist entirely on a phone. Either way, whether you are a friend I see face to face, a friend from my past, or a friend I only know through Facebook or a telephone, I am thankful you are there.  Your friendship combined with my above mentioned family is truly an amazing network of people that I am thankful to have in my life. 

Lincoln Middle School students and staff.  The school honored Jodi during their annual Cancer Walk this year and asked me to be a guest speaker, as Jodi was last year.  I am thankful for the emails and feedback from the staff and students about how my words inspired them all.  Particularly,  a special needs sixth grade student that took the time to personally write me a letter.  I was told by staff that I have encouraged this student for the rest of life after speaking about the positive ways Jodi and I dealt with a very difficult situation.  In this letter, the student says "....and you see this letter, you give me a tight hug and say  "it was my pleasure to influence you". And float into the night and I feel like I have been given a gift. I believe you will. Thank you".  I will never be able to put into words what that means to me.  To have touched a life on such a level is an amazing feeling.  This child's letter will forever be one of my most cherished possessions. 

Thank you all for being a part of my life.  Everyday gets better than the last.  The last several weeks have been very good.  I am getting back to me and finding my way again.  You are all a part of making that possible.  I wish you all a great Thanksgiving, and like me, I hope you all find something to be thankful for, not only today, but everyday.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wisconsin CCW & Castle Doctrine, my story.

Time to take off my nerd hat and weigh in on all the hubbubb about the Wisconsin Castle Doctrine that has passed legislative houses and will soon be law.  This goes hand in hand with the new CCW law that just hit the books at the beginning of this month.  This is my first blog post about any social or political issue.  Here goes.

The recent changes to gun laws and self defense laws here in Wisconsin are long overdue.  For the first time this year, I am proud of Wisconsin lawmakers and the bipartisan efforts they put forth here in Wisconsin to give valuable rights back to the law abiding citizens in our state.

On the issues, REMEMBER THIS: Signs, laws, and rules are only for people who CHOOSE to follow them. Basically, the bad guy is, well, THE BAD GUY.  The game has changed, and the playing field has been leveled off.  48 other states already have CCW laws on the books, must be a bad thing, right?  I don't see a Wild West O.K. Corral type of scene popping up on our evening news anytime soon.  Hopefully, what we will see is a story about how for once, the GOOD GUY FINISHED FIRST.  That's my .02 on CCW....

The core of this blog post is about the Castle Doctrine and what it means to me.  Like most things, some people really don't care about an issue, law or a right until it affects them.  In this case, should a scenario play out, the outcome of that mentality could be grim.

Here's my story, every bit of it true.  It takes longer to tell this story than the time that actually elapsed. 

Years ago, an intruder entered my home, NAKED AS A JAY BIRD.  Unarmed, yet threatening.  This man was bigger than my 180 pound, 6,1" frame. He was disoriented and had bloody drool running down his face.

At the time, my former wife let out a blood curling scream and ran to my protection in the back bedroom. By the time I was able to react, this intruder was already deep into our home.  I am now the only thing standing between an immediate threat, my wife, and two children .  In seconds, I am holding the intruder at bay at the entrance way to our bedrooms and bathroom.  There is nowhere for them to go but out a window.

Here is my mindset: Is this a drug crazed lunatic, did he just kill someone?  If something happens to me, what happens to my wife and children?  Will my wife be raped and my children killed?  It's on, to the death.....

This is no BS people, this is really how it went down and what went through my mind.

I am now in an intense situation, yelling to my wife to grab our two children, take them into our bedroom and find some way to block the lock-less door. I am yelling at the intruder, my children are crying, my wife is in a full blown panic--the door is now closed. Everyone is terrified, including myself.  The incoherent intruder and I are now chest to chest, I am blocking him from entering the hallway.  I yell for my wife to locate my handgun, I have 911 on my cell phone, explaining the situation, still yelling for my gun...

Dispatch: "take whatever means necessary to protect yourself and your family"...I hang up......

I didn't need the concerned dispatcher to tell me that, I was already in protection mode.

STOP HERE for a moment, place yourself in this situation. WHAT would you do in this same scenario?

For whatever reason, the gun is not located, and I need to react NOW.  I immediately begin to shove and wrestle the large and naked intruder through our small home.  With every shove, I am sizing up the room and looking for a weapon.  Thankfully, the intruder is so out of it and doesn't even react to my shoving and yelling.  With my head about me and adrenaline pumping, I am able to get him to the front of the house and literally kick his naked ass right out the door.  I have my wife deadbolt and chain the door after the intruder and I exit to the front porch.  The intruder is now grabbing the door handle and slamming shoulder first into the door in an attempt to get BACK INTO THE HOUSE....I'm grabbing him and he easily shrugs me off....I can hear my family screaming from inside...I am yelling for them to exit the back door and run to a neighbor's house.... I exit the porch and grab a cast iron exhaust manifold that was in a car in my driveway.  Just as I get back on the porch,  and ready a healthy swing...the police arrive and take control of the intruder and the situation.

Before you read any further, live this situation in your mind and ask yourself again, what you would have done in my shoes, had the gun appeared moments earlier.

I press no charges and the kind officers spend some time with the children trying to put their minds at ease.  

No charges?  That's right, I let him slide.  Why you ask? The intruder turned out to be a neighbor that had an epileptic seizure in front of his home.  As his body super heated from the seizure, he stripped naked in my driveway and entered my home during the confusion of the seizure thinking it was his own.  Thankfully for everyone involved, no one was harmed or killed. After several months, our childrens' bedtime fears and questions like "is the naked man coming back?" went away.

Keep in mind my mindset and the situation BEFORE I mentioned this man was epileptic.  If it would have come down to it, had the gun appeared and the situation escalated, I may have shot this man in an attempt to incapacitate him before he took me down and harmed my family.  I would have dealt with the consequences of my actions later.  Again, my mindset was, me or him---no one is harming my family.  I had a respsonsibilty to react to the situation and defend those I love, in my CASTLE.  This may not have played out too well for me, after all, this wasn't a drug crazed lunatic at all, it was an epileptic. The Castle Doctrine wasn't law, and naked as the day he was born, this intruder wasn't armed. 

Prior to today, had the worse case scenario played out, I may very well still be in jail, and/or personally and financially ruined if the need arose for me to use deadly force in the protection of my family.  IN MY HOME, MY CASTLE none the less, in a place where the should never fear ANYTHING.  Worse yet, the way society is today, the media and my community may have turned this around. In light of the epilepsy details, the unarmed intruder may now be the victim,  and I may have been the criminal, guilty of only defending my family from harm.  This whole situation could have gone horribly wrong on so many levels.

The Castle Doctrine completely changes the hypotheticals in the previous paragraph.  In my mind, had the situation warranted, I had every reason use deadly force to neutralize a threat and protect my family from harm.  Thanks to the bipartisan effort of Wisconsin lawmakers, citizens of our state will be able to protect themselves and their loved ones--IN their CASTLE--without fear of becoming a criminal in the process.  I hope a situation never arises where you need to use deadly force to defend yourself or your family, but if it does, you now have the Castle Doctrine in your corner.  One law at a time, victims will no longer be criminals, and criminals will be just that, CRIMINALS. Hopefully, all of  this will result in less crime and less victims.

That's my .02, feel free to comment below.

Don't think anything can ever happen to you?  Follow the links below for some interesting crime statistics from the FBI.

FBI Violent Crime Statistics, 2010

FBI Property Crime Statistics, 2010

And that's how Bruce T does it.