Because I said so.
I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under surveillance, always divided, for liberty and justice for all.
It’s five o’clock in the morning. My alarm fades in slowly with the song “Waking Up” by Explosions In The Sky. I usually wake up this early to take my wife to work so it’s nothing out of the ordinary. She’s a hard worker. I admire that.
The morning is quiet. I like it.
It’s always quiet this early. It’s quiet because our little world hasn’t started up yet. The rest of the world has, but not ours. I like to absorb the quiet after dropping my wife off. The cats usually sleep in and the dogs tend to hop right back on the bed and pass out. I start my morning by making myself a spam omelette and a coffee with three sugars. I don’t add much creamer now days, I guess I’ve out grown it.
After my meal, I take my coffee and sit down at my desk. I call it the command center. It’s the central processor of my stronghold. My “Jarvis”.
“Good morning sir”
I say to myself out loud in a British “Jarvis” voice as my desktop comes to life. By now the faint blue daylight begins to filter over the mountain view that greets me every morning. I open my web browser and log into my usual social medias. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, & WordPress.
I am plugged in.
A Storm Is Coming
The news feed. A constantly evolving digital wave of opinions, ideas, beliefs, products, pictures, and sometimes pointless nonsense. The list goes on. It’s where our lives are written out and recorded in real time. It’s brilliant and truly wonderful.
It’s also a war zone.
A battlefield with multiple factions shelling the living shit out of each other day and night.
The quiet is over.
#Trump2016, #feelthebern, #blacklivesmatter, #hillary2016, #GOPdebate. Hashtags thrown around like hand grenades. Alliances are formed and relationships destroyed as easy as “unfriend”. You’re in the trenches and you’re as powerful as ever because you’re behind a keyboard. You no longer have to share an opinion face to face. You’re safe and secure because you’re in the matrix. Memes are like propaganda bombs filled with false or exaggerated facts about opposing parties but good job bro, really stuck it to em with that one!
We’re all guilty of it really. It’s all part of it. But I find it hard to take a side in all this. I mean I have my beliefs and I have my reasons for who I will vote for but I can’t seem to label it. You can’t claim to be a Republican anymore without being labeled a racist or bigot. You can’t claim to be a Democrat without being labeled a lazy liberal. You can’t fly a Tea Party flag without being called a tea bagger.
When did we lose ourselves? When did we go from a melting pot to a pot of water with individual groups of oil floating around? There’s so many groups and labels that we’ve started to suffocate in it all. We’ve lost sight of who the true enemy is and we are too busy climbing on top of one another as we grasp for air and try to soak up the lime light even if it’s for a quick second. It’s exhausting and like I said before….we’ve looked away from the true enemy and they are reaping all the benefits from it.
He was born on June 21st, 1983 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He is a former CIA employee as well as a former employee for Booz Allen Hamilton which is a company contracted by the NSA. He’s widely known for the **“theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorized person”.
** source via wikipedia
Recently I read Glenn Greenwalds book “No Place Left To Hide” which covers what happened when Snowden contacted Greenwald about the documents he had obtained.
“…Opposition to government invasion of privacy was a major factor in the establishment of the United States itself, as American colonists protested laws that let British officials ransack at will any home they wished…”
The Fourth Amendment:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person’s or things to be seized.”
As Greenwald said,
“It was intended, above all, to abolish forever in America the power of the government to subject its citizens to generalized, suspicionless surveillance.”
I also read that in the mid-nineteenth century, British government began opening its citizens mail, due to the development of rail ways and rapid delivery, which caused a major scandal in the UK. By the mid 1970s, Frank Church investigated the FBI and found that they had labeled a half a million US citizens as potential “subversives” and had spied on people based on their political affiliations.
Snowden handed documents over to Greenwald providing information about the US government partnering with providers, allowing them to sift through emails, messages, video chats, phone calls, voicemails and other means of communication. The data collected is then stored for access whenever they wanted. These major providers include; Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Paltalk, Youtube, Skype, AOL, and Apple. This was a project called PRISM, which allows NSA to collect data directly from servers.
Do you feel comfortable with that? If you are, you’ve already lost.
Some other things Snowden discovered was the governments ability to activate your phone’s microphone and camera capabilities even if it was connected to the internet or not. Greenwald met Snowden in Hong Kong along with two other reporters. They composed articles and stories for their publisher to release to the world. The story caught like a wild fire. The government has never denied the accusations.
A Song of Our Fathers
To say this story is mere conspiracy theory is only, to me, words used by those in denial. Civil liberties groups, Wikipedia, and many more have filed lawsuits against the NSA. That list can be found here. Edward Snowden found something terribly wrong with our government and felt that it was time the people finally had proof that they are watched, spied on, recorded and documented. Our government states that it’s for the greater good of the country. To help catch those who plot and plan to destroy our way of life. So once again I ask you, are you comfortable with this? If you have nothing to hide, them you have nothing to fear right? You have already lost.
“Governments around the world have made vigorous attempts to train citizens to disdain their own privacy. A litany of now-familiar platitudes has convinced people to tolerate sever encroachments into their private realm; so successful are these justifications that many people applaud as the authorities collect vast amounts of data about what they say, read, buy and do-and with whom”
If you are okay with it, then accept and admit that you are submissive. Submission, to me, is an act of something as low, if not lower than that of something on a microbial level. Yes it is true that there is nothing we can do about it, verbally anyway. This very article will be flagged and possibly looked at given the very contents contained in it, even though it is not even scratching the surface. I did that so you could research yourself and learn a bit.
While we squabble about, lobbing verbal abuses towards opposing parties on the constant stream of our news feeds that’s ever flowing. I hope one day the rest of us come to light that we divide ourselves because we let them. We are doing exactly what they want us to do and that is to remain as separate little twigs. A single twig is weak, but a bundle of twigs is strong. We are not a bundle. I fear we are broken and will be for some time. We vote for celebrities, not politicians. We form opinions off of trending topics without actually doing research and when some do research, they read one side of the story. We read media headlines that dice up, alter, and change what’s said to what they want you to read because they know you’ll only read the headline anyway. We watch as candidates dig up dirt on one another and bash each other in their debates. It’s a shame we’ve lost our ability to recognize when something isn’t right. That we now think rebellion on a violent level is an act of terrorism. That we are growing comfortable of the thought of being unarmed. That it’s okay for them to search our lives without reason. We scare too easily. We have weakened. I won’t give up on the country, but to be honest I feel that electing someone,no matter who it is, wont change anything on the grand scale that needs to happen.
Sources I used for this mini article were:
Wikipedia, Google, and the book “No Place Left To Hide” by Glenn Greenwald
Also check out the preview for Oliver Stones ‘Snowden’
The Year of Travel
For the past few weeks, let’s face it, facebook has been owned by our big wedding. Hundreds of photos have been uploaded and more photos here and there have been uploaded almost daily. We still can’t believe how well everything went and it all still feels like it was a dream because it happened so fast. Since the day I proposed to Nicole, it seemed like the wedding day was never going to arrive and now that it has, I wish the vacation wasn’t over.
Which brings me to introduce our next adventure!
“…Make record of your journey…”
A few months after the proposal, I started brain storming a plan. I didn’t want our honeymoon to be a cliche one trip kinda thing. I always try and do things different so why not this. I thought of a three to four phase honeymoon involving three or four trips spread through out the year of 2016. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling but Nicole hasn’t been to too many places so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to get the travel bug going for her! So instead of getting on a plane right after our wedding and going somewhere exotic, we have decided to visit Hawaii, California and Japan.
Phase One: Pure Aloha
Our first trip will be my other motherland. Nicole has yet to meet my family in Maui so we decided it is time for her to get some aloha! I know Maui fairly well my memory so I want to show her the island and all of it’s beauty. We want to spend maybe a week there and then head of to Oahu for three days or so. This trip will be in April.
Phase Two: California Dreaming
I’m not too fond of California really but we thought it would be a cool idea to hit up Disneyland and all that jazz for Nicoles birthday. My sister Alex may tag along and I’m not sure if Caiti can but that would be cool. I’ve been to San Fransisco and it wasn’t too bad of a city but I’m willing to give elsewhere a shot. We figured four days would be adequate enough. This trip will be in May.
Phase Three: Tora! Tora! Tora!
Last but not least, Japan. My good buddy Wayne approached me last year with this idea. He wanted the three of us to go to Japan and I was immediately on board. I have never been to Japan but it’s always been a place I’ve wanted to visit. It got Nicoles attention once she realized there was a Disney in Japan as well lol. The night Wayne drummed up the idea, I ordered a lonely planet book on Japan. When it came in, I read nearly the whole thing and researched things I found interesting. I tabbed things of interest in three different categories; “must do” , “would be rad”, and “if we are near with time to kill”. I started north and mapped my way down through out the islands. It seems like a solid route and hits everyone’s places of interests as well as some bonus spots I didn’t even know existed. This trip will be in September.
We are super excited and I especially because I get to shove all this in your faces and hopefully inspire some of you to travel as well, maybe even with us.
To be continued….
yI’ve thought about how I was going to do this blog all week. It’s been by far the busiest week of the entire year and so much happened…I don’t even know where to begin. I suppose day one would be a good start.
We landed in Ft. Lauderdale to a beautiful partly cloudy day with a high of 81. The wave of humidity hit us like a truck as it does every time we step off of the plane. My mother in law picked us up and the battle of the chaotic highway driving began. I’m always holding tight onto something when driving down here and I never look forward to it. We stopped for some food and I checked in with Grandma Betty, letting her know we made it. Plus I was doing a puppy check on Cody. We made it to the in laws house and needless to say, I crashed pretty quick.
To be honest I cant remember what we did on Monday morning. I think it was when we got our rental car which went pretty well. We ended up getting a full size Chrysler 200 which was full of spoiled features that do nothing but make humans lazy. Push to start/stop as well as a tiny ass knob that was the PRNDL. Took me five minutes to even find the damn thing and another hour to find the AUX plug in. Later that night, Jeremy and Wayne wanted to check out Dave & Busters so I wanted to make it a mission that they got to visit. We met my family at the mall and walked around aimlessly to find my favorite place called Burger & Beer Joint. Their website said they had opened one in the mall we were in but come to find out it was delayed. We decided to eat at Dave & Busters and it turned out to be quite good. Wayne drank 102 ozs of beer to himself. It was also a birthday celebration for my sisters who turned twenty three.
Tuesday came quick. We had a list of things to do such as buy alcohol, final dress fitting as well as packing the car to the limit and making it down in time to check in to the beach house. First stop was the alcohol store called Total Wine. They had just about everything you could think of and the lady that helped us was amazing. It took about a half hour to load everything up. Six bottles of this, four bottles of that, two cases of those and ten things of what ever that is. We either looked like we were buying enough booze to last us until the end of the world or we looked like we were alcoholics. We then met up with Jeremy and Wayne at their hotel. Nicole had her final dress fitting right next door so I was able to hang with the boys for a bit. They were slightly hung over from their extended stay at Dave & Busters. We loaded their car up with all the alcohol and then went straight to the in laws house to load up all the little things for the wedding. Our trunk was full as well as our back seat. A quick stop at Burger King for me and we were on our way. We plotted the beach house address and set sail for our wedding venue.
The Drug Lord House
The house was as rad as it was a year ago when we first walked it down. The sun was beaming down on the beach and it was about 84 degrees. The water was blue and green and everything looked amazing. That’s when the excitement kicked in. About two minutes after we arrived, James and Pazong pulled in. Their reaction was exactly what I expected. I let them choose their room and gave them the tour of the house. The outdoor patio bar next to the giant pool was the hit of the beach house. We needed to find a store for groceries and booze and luckily for us there was a Publix about fifteen minutes down the highway. We loaded up on breakfast foods and snacks and drove back to the house and just a few minutes later Jeremy and Wayne finally showed up. Once again I gave the tour and showed them their room. Most of us were in the pool by the time Jahzeel and Samantha arrived. Most of the wedding party was complete with the exception of Stephen and Mallory (who arrived the day after). The following day Nicole and I made our way to the courthouse to get our license. It was an easy process that only took about fifteen to twenty minutes, so far everything was stress free. The only thing I was mildly concerned about was the lighting on the beach area where our dinner was going to be held on wedding night.
The house was made out of all stone and had a billion light switches which, to this day, I have no idea where most went to. We had an ocean front view with windows that were nine ft. tall with no blinds. It slept twelve people and had a bathroom in every room along with walk in closets and t.v.s (only in a few rooms had t.v.s). The kitchen was massive with granite counters and a 400 lb. sink. It had several hidden cabinets that took forever for us to figure out what was where. Even the dishwasher was hidden at chest height in a random cabinet door. The microwave looked like a pull out oven instead of a normal microwave which took me a bit to get use to. After a night of flipping switches and opening doors, I finally got comfortable with the basic controls of the house. I won’t even get started on the pool remote control….
Thursday morning was my bachelor snorkeling trip with the boys. My best man Stephen Cheek (with some help from his wife Mallory) planned the event. The night before we stayed up until about four a.m. participating in a little alcoholic hydration. The goal was to just stay up until the snorkel trip and tough it out (we had to get up at 6:30 a.m. and out the door by 7 a.m.). The ride to Key West was quiet and half the fellas were passed out. I was fairly zoned out and slowly kick starting my second wind. I had only got about an hour and a half of on and off sleep so I was pretty exhausted and feeling…..”bubbly”… My insides were groaning with pure hatred as I tried as hard as I could to keep everything down… and in. It’s about an hour and a half drive to Key West which was the longest drive of my life. By the time we made it to the snorkeling place I needed a bathroom quick. Sorry I can’t remember the name of the company, I’d give a shout out if I could. I found a bathroom and damn near melted the seat. I’ll let the rest of your imagination take it away.
We boarded the boat and the sun was coming and going along with some serious choppy waves. It really looked like this was going to be GOOD fun lol. The ride to the reef was about twenty minutes and we had already gone through a cold ass five minute down pour and everyone was freezing after it. Good thing because we were told the ocean wasn’t very warm that day but as soon as we jumped in it felt pretty warm. The waves were about four to six feet and it was pretty difficult to get away from the boat but after a little effort, I found a good spot and saw some pretty cool fish. Wayne was the last one on the boat so I swam back t see if he needed some words of encouragement. I helped him with his snorkel gear and he finally got into the ocean. The waves were slightly overwhelming for him and I could tell he was not having fun so I took him to the side of the boat away from all the other swimmers. As he was adjusting his snorkel, I took a peak at the ocean floor and saw a five to six ft. nurse shark moving about. I picked my head up outta the water and right at that time the life guard told us we had to move away from the side of the boat and more towards the front…YUP! No Problem!
At some point in time, rumor had it that someone barfed into the ocean, so there was all kinds of colorful fish getting a snack. I found out later that the person who barfed was Jeremy….I wonder if I swam through any of the puke!😀 yummm. At least more fish showed up! There was one other guy who puked after being in the ocean for about ten seconds, thanks dude.
The ride back was a lot more difficult than the ride in. I felt slightly sick from a few sips of salt water I accidentally consumed and it wasn’t sitting well on top of the chips and Crown Royal. It also didn’t help that the started serving beer and every time I took a whiff of it I got more sick. I had to stare straight at the ground or else I would get motion sickness and probably barf all over Wayne. I’m super glad we did go snorkeling because honestly I didn’t want to do anything major. I just wanted it to be a relaxing day and overall it was great. We made it back to the beach house and I tried to get a nap in. About twenty minutes later Nicoles Aunt & Uncle showed up with the flower arrangements so I needed to kick it in third gear and just work through it. James was there to help bring in the flowers and I used Jeremy and Waynes room to set it at 65 to help keep the flowers cool. They looked great and it hit me even more than the big day was getting closer.
The day before the wedding is when things started to require a plan b and go figure they all happened within thirty minutes of each other. The first thing to go another route was cake transportation. Nicoles mom reserved a van to have enough space to carry everything down and sure enough, when she showed up to pick it up, they didn’t have the van anymore. Quite minor but they delay set back her brother who needed to pick up the tuxedos for Wayne, Jeremy and myself. One thing I’ll add about the tuxedos: on Wednesday Mens Warehouse called me around four pm and told me we had to be there by nine pm for a final fitting. Little did they know we were already in The Keys and just so happen to be in Key West. I told the lady we had planned to come in early Friday morning for our final fitting and pick up and she said there was no way it was going to happen. I told her we will try and come down and then I hung up with no intentions of actually making it….. we were just going to have to wing it.
Briana Keaton – Plan B
Briana is a good friend of ours and I love her to death. She just so happened to be fifteen minutes away from the Mens Warehouse that had our suits. It was almost meant to be and she acted quickly and was able to pick them up and extend our return day to Monday. I cannot thank her enough but I did get the opportunity to share some Bourbon with her. She also was a soldier on the day of the wedding, getting people breakfast and drinks. I’m so glad she was able to make it.
Steve Rank and his Plan B…C…D & E
The story of Steve is a complete chapter in itself. A few days after I proposed to Nicole, Steve informed me that he was an ordained minister and offered his service of performing the wedding for us. I kept it on the back burner for a few months and once we had a date for the wedding, I realized we picked my dads birthday. An idea clicked in my head and I contacted Steve. Steve knew my dad back when they were in high school. In fact, Steve knew most of the Amidon boys back in the day. I figured why not have a mini reunion on my wedding day as a birthday present for my dad. They haven’t seen each other for almost thirty-five years and I knew a surprise this grand would be epic for my dad. So for over ten months, Steve and I kept it a complete secret from all the Amidon uncles. There was several times we almost dropped the ball but we held it together until the very last minute.
Now Steve lives in North Carolina. On his way down he hit a deer, damaging the front right side of his vehicle and smashing the wind shield partially. As he stepped out of his car to inspect the damage, the dog he was transporting to a friend locked the car from the inside. Steve was locked out of his own car. He had to break the door handle just to get back in and in that process, he lost his wallet. With no drivers license, no credit cards, Steve continued his journey to Grassy Key, determined to see the master plan through as well as my wedding.
Of course by the time he was about four hours away, there had to be a massive accident on the turnpike that involved fire trucks, helicopters, the whole nine yards. Our original plan was for him to show up during rehearsal dinner and pretend to be a waiter. He was going to ask my dad if he would like a drink. My dad would’ve turned to say “no thank you” and then realize it was Steve all along. Because of the delay, Steve was not able to make the dinner. I’ll also add that my in laws were unable to make the dinner as well due to other delays.
The new plan was to have Steve show up at the beach house while dad was doing some finishing touches on the lighting for the wedding. I had everyone meet on the patio as dad was on the upstairs deck doing his thing. Steve arrived and sat on the patio couch with his ipad. I ran upstairs and told dad we had a problem downstairs and he needed to come quick. As he stepped into the patio, he didn’t even notice the extra person on the couch. I said “so you remember that birthday present I told you I was going to give you?” He said “yeah”. I pointed at the couch and said “well it finally arrived!”. His reaction was exactly how I pictured it would be and the two old friends finally reunited after thirty-five years.
Wedding Day Weather
I woke up to gray clouds and about twenty-five mile an hour wind. I was freaking out. The forecast said it was going to stay windy all day but at least the clouds were going to break up. There was only a ten percent chance of rain with a high of 78. I was nervous because our wedding was on the beach as well as dinner. I walked out on the beach and realized the wind was at tree height and not gusting too bad down below the palm trees. Every ten minutes where was a huge gust the swept low but other than that it was okay for now. I watched the caterers set up their tables and battle the gusts. A few things blew off the tables but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Just me doing my worrying. During the ceremony, the wind seemed to die down just enough for our vows and then it kicked back up slightly for photography and dinner. I’ll also mention that in did rain for about seven minutes when the boys were getting ready. Yup, we got the ten percent chance. lol.
Elizabeth Garay Photography
I just wanted to give a shout out to our photographer and her assistant, Lulu. They did an amazing job and Elizabeth was the only person that was actually on top of things with us since the day we picked her. We had a few skype sessions with Elizabeth and as soon as she showed up, she was already a friend and part of the family. I’m so glad we picked her and I can’t wait to see all the photos she took. If you would like to see her work, visit here: Elizabeth Garay Photography
We finally had our official paperwork signed and dated. We were announced and had our first dance. The song we picked was “Grow Old With You” by Adam Sandler from The Wedding Singer. Shortly after we sat down for dinner and the food was amazing. We chose Brazilian Grill who had a fairly decent size menu of chicken wrapped with bacon, steak, & sausage. They brought them out on huge skewers and cut how ever many pieces you wanted. We also brought down some Alaskan salmon for our new Cuban family to try. Everything was a hit and it all went smooth.
After dinner is when the party started. Vision DJ was the vendor we chose and they did an awesome job. The upright lighting and music was on point. The DJ was very professional at announcing everything we wanted and how we wanted it. I kept my alcohol consumption mild, I wanted to be able to act quickly if anything went wrong. After all, we were renting a multi million dollar house with windows all over the place. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and the lighting turned out perfect. There seemed to be a sufficient amount of alcohol and mixers as well. Overall, the small issues were just that, small. Everything worked its way out just like everyone said it would. I suppose it’s only natural to worry because you spend so much time and money for this day and you want it flawless. It it’s own way it was flawless. It was a damn good time.
A Thank You
I don’t even know how to get everyone who has helped this wedding turn out the way it did. Too many to think of by name. My family, my in laws, my friends as well as the friends I met from the internet who also showed up. I feel like everyone had some kind of contribution and every single bit helped. I’m so glad two awesome families came together and had a bitching time. I met people who I’ve played video games with for over eight years but have never met before until this night. Long time internet friends who I have met before also came down and came through with whatever I needed. My kick ass WIFE for doing most of the grunt work, planning, and choosing. My awesome groomsmen stuck through all the chaos and “I dunno wtf is going on”. There was plenty of that going on. But remember…..it’s not an Amidon shindig if there isn’t any “wtf is going on” moments. I love you all.