I believe that history and heritage are valuable, and that gentility among people is still the "currency of the realm." I believe in the solid principles that have been passed down from generation to generation; that there is value in a man's word, that there is goodness in the hearts of all men, and that a knowledge of the woods, fields, lakes, rivers, oceans, and the creatures and crops we find there, makes us better stewards of God's amazing earth!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Bittersweet Christmas (but mostly sweet)

Today was a bittersweet Christmas...2013 saw our family go through my wife's breast cancer ordeal, our son thrive at a new school, and the loss of a great friend after 16+ years (our beloved cat, Dillinger - Dec. 21st).  All of this made for a day of serious reflection, emotions, and feelings of gratitude.  And quite honestly I believe that's the way Christmas should be!  A reflection of what we've accomplished, how we've acted and what we can take away from the past year as we head into the new one.  I, for one, am more dedicated than ever to being true to my roots, my current family members, my friends, and most importantly to myself and my God!  With that mindset and a desire to do that which I am truly passionate about I believe that Christmas is a wonderful benchmark to re-dedicate myself to all I hold dear and to maintain that focus as I head into 2014.  

So, I thank God for the lessons and blessings of 2013 and ask that I continually be reminded of them so that I may be a better person to those around me and may walk in a more upright fashion in His eyes.

With that said I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you all the best for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2014!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Ah, the Christmas season...yes, I said "Christmas," and not "holiday."  Why?  Because I believe what I believe...period.  I am not ashamed of being a Christian any more than someone of the Islamic, Jewish, or Hindu faith is ashamed of his or her belief.  If my wishing you a Merry Christmas bothers you, then please understand this...I am not trying to offend you!  Take it in the spirit of my wishing you peace, good-will and happiness - because, isn't that really what Christmas is all about?  God so loving the world that he sent His only Son to save it...

So, if I, or any other person of the Christian faith wishes you an errant "Merry Christmas," just calm down and understand that we're wishing you all the things you also hold dear to your heart...we're just doing it in our own way...

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Where America Went Wrong

Now, don't get me wrong, I love America, but we've gotten something terribly wrong and it's all due to my industry…marketing.  I've been in marketing/advertising for the last decade and a half and here is (from my view) where we made a very wrong turn.

After WWII there was a boom of middle class families…we became serious "consumers."  The babies were arriving in a huge tidal wave of humanity and these young parents needed all the latest and greatest…and in vast numbers.  Now, forward ahead 18 years…those baby-boomers are coming into their own and the folks on Madison Avenue are tasked with the job of making sure that those "budding consumers" are going to migrate toward their client's brands…so, how are they going to do this?  They're going to play to their collective ego by CELEBRATING YOUTH.

So as we hit the mid-1960's everything is "youth oriented."  They even had a mantra during this time of "free love," "mind expansion," and "fighting the man," that, simply stated was "don't trust anyone over 30!"  Think about that for a second…don't trust anyone over 30?  It's those very same over-30 types that had just (not 20 years prior) risked everything, in both a European and Pacific theater, to ensure that freedom was secure.  And the good folks on Madison Avenue were more than happy to fuel the fires of this youth movement for if their clients could get ahold of these young people in their formative and impressionable years, they'd have them as "consumers for life."  So, the focus stayed squarely on the youth of the country.

Now, youth is fine…nothing wrong with it at all…we were all young once, and it's a great time in life.    But where the real issue came in was not in just "being young," but "celebrating" it…taking away from what got us to where we were; as the world's preeminent republic.  We turned our back on celebrating wisdom, experience, tradition and knowledge, in exchange for celebrating inexperience, vigor, and ignorance.

You see, the entire dynamic had been flipped on its head…our way of thinking about things had been fundamentally changed…all in the name of "consumerism."  We wanted to get younger and younger consumers to begin their reckless consumption at an earlier and earlier age…so, how to best do that..tell them they're great, tell them they can do no wrong…and then when they begin to age, (into their 40's like me) then tell them that your client's products will make them look younger, feel younger, and act younger…you get the picture.  Marketers have more data at their fingertips today than at any time in history.   They know how to push our buttons and get us to take action.  But it's that fundamental shift of 50 years ago, when we decided to de-value the time-honored and respected practice of revering age and wisdom that we made our critical error.

And rather than recognizing our mistake and course-correcting, we've unfortunately gone the other direction (at warp speed, no less)…for we have not only further embraced the desire for all things "youthful," but have now compounded our error by valuing such dangerous traits as "lack of ambition" and "stupidity" as well…just look at what the news covers... (who where those morons who kept telling everyone they were the 99% and living in public places a few years back…I forget…oh yea.."Occupy Wall Street"...)  they give our inept politicians (on both sides of the aisle a free pass)  They celebrate inane movies, ebonics, video games that glorify senseless violence, and a myriad of other things that tear at the very fabric of our great country.

We had a great country…one that didn't just value a formal education but also good old fashioned "common sense."  One where time-honored traditions were passed down from generation to generation.  One where the words and experiences of our elders were the foundation upon which we built successful lives and a wildly successful country.  Now, due to  slick marketing, unchecked consumerism a "if it feels good do it" mentality and a seismic paradigm shift, we have undone what countless centuries of people from around the entire world have known (and we have seemingly forgotten)…youth is wasted on the young, and that there is no substitute for age, wisdom and experience.  If we're to survive as a society we'd better re-discover this…no matter what the marketers tell us!

Monday, October 21, 2013

As I get older...

      When I was younger I would get absolutely outraged by perceived injustice...things that shouldn't happen, couldn't happen, not in this or any universe, and yet they did!  Now, as I get older (almost 46 now) I find that not much surprises me anymore and my reaction to those very things that "ripped me out of the frame" when younger is much more measured...some might even say, "muted."  Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't feel strongly about injustice, discrimination, or the overall absence of civility in our society... I DO!  It's just that I've come to expect such things and realize now that there is very little I can do to stem the tide of these terrible societal traits.  All I can really control is my reaction to them and how I can seek to keep them at bay in my own little corner of the world.  Really, that's all any of us can do.  Being a southern gentleman is not easy...although now that I've become more temperate in my middle-aged life, I find it much more tranquil and even more appealing  (You see, being a "gentleman" doesn't mean that you don't feel strongly about things...quite the opposite...many gentlemen I've met over they years have been some of the most spirited and opinionated I've ever encountered, but as a "gentleman" you must, at all times seek to control your reactions, which is an exhausting exercise when you're full of youthful exuberance.) 

     Now, along with this "mellowing," I have learned to take great joy in the simple things that I can have some degree of control over...my garden, my interaction with my friends and family, the effort I put into my work, what I choose to eat (life is too short for bad food...or bad wine or bourbon for that matter), what shotguns I choose to use, what clothes I choose to wear, and most importantly how much time and effort I will put forth in furthering my relationship with my God!  These are the things that I now focus on...I will no longer sacrifice my time with my wife and son for the sake of a business convention...I will not take unnecessary time away from my "life" in the pursuit of more money than I need, for as my grandfather (who was a mortician) told me..."David, never once have I hooked up a U-Haul behind my hearse."

     I can always say I wish that I'd discovered all this when I was younger, but you know what?  I knew it then...it's not some critical piece of knowledge that had been missing for the past two decades...it was there.  I just had to arrive at a point where it made sense.  I'm blessed that I lived long enough to get here..

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Springtime in the South

Oh how I love Springtime in the south!  Being a native southerner it's a special time of anticipation!  Just a month or so away we'll be hitting up Farmer's markets,  taking trips to the beach,  ejoying evenings where the kids run around catching lightning bugs, and soaking in lots of good quality time with the family and friends!

One of the other things I really love about the spring is the opportunity to get out with good people at the sporting clay's range.  Yesterday was just such a day.  We started in an early fog as we drove south on US 1 to Deep River Sporting Clays, but as we approached the third station of the course the sun broke through and all the beauty of Spring surrounded us as we continued throughout the course.  Of course, never mind that we were all using REALLY NICE Thomas Ferney & Co. shotguns.  Our outing was a hastily-planned video shoot for their spring/fall 2013 lineup of shotguns.  All 4 models were represented and it was a fantastic time!

Next time, however, I need to be behind a gun and not the camera!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ok...so those who know me understand that I'm a natural-bron skeptic.  If something appears to be true...it must be!  No more to that story...at least until recently.  You see I've been in the market for a new shotgun...something really nice.  I was looking first at all the "B" guns (Beretta, Benelli, and Browning for those not familiar with sporting firearms) and also Caesar Guerini.  So, for those who know, you well understand that I was looking to lay out around $3K for a nice shotgun.  Then, one night as I was rolling my way through the listings on GunBroker.com I com across a REALLY good looking gun with a name I've never heard of...Thomas Ferney & Co.  I mean this gun looked
G   O   O  D!!!  It's price tag was also well within the range of what I'd have paid for any of the aforementioned brands.  Only issue was that I knew nothing about them and couldn't find any reviews on line.  So, with that in mind I contacted the company, thinking that some lower-level functionary would respond to my request for information.  But what I got instead was the president of the company, a Mr. Chris Handy contacting me and reassuring me that his product, while not well known (yet) would  "eat the lunch" of any comparably priced "B" gun in both quality and performance. Now if there's one thing I've come to appreciate in business it's confidence. So, a deal was struck, with the understanding that if the transaction wasn't good for both sides we could part as friends with no harm done.  So, before ever getting the firearm, Chris sent me some of their soft goods to look over...range bags, gun cases, cartridge bags, etc.  I was very impressed...heavy duty leather that was well stitched and not hard like concrete...I mean, really nice stuff!  So, with that experience under my belt I awaited the arrival of the firearm.  Chris told me that although the guns are made in europe (all hand engraving on the receivers) they are finished here, and that his stock guy needed to know how I wanted the stock and fore-end of the gun finished.  I said in a "medium gloss."  

Yesterday the gun arrives.  I call Eagle-1 Supply here in town and they confirm that they have logged the gun in and that I can come pick it up.  When I arrive I say to the gent behind the counter, "I'm here to pick up a transferred shotgun"  he says  "what kind?"  I reply "Thomas Ferney,"  "No, not your name, (he says) the brand name of the gun."  My response..."that is the name of the brand - Thomas Ferney."  I point this out to give you an idea just how new this product is.  Once they opened the case, the entire population of the gun store (7-10 people) began to huddle around the counter where I was putting it together.  The collective sentiment was this is a really fine gun and people began guessing how much it cost.  The gun pros behind the counter were admiring the metal-to-wood fit.  So, I'm feeling better...lots of positive feedback, but there's still one more person I want to hear from.  My father.  A 20 year retired Marine Lt. Colonel who's fired just about everything with a barrel.  This morning, he stops by the house around 0900 for a cup of coffee and the first thing he says is "where's this gun I've been hearing you talk about."  I point to the gun case over near the stairs.  He unzips the case, and immediately exclaims that it's one of the best looking and feeling shotguns he's come across.  Ok...now I'm sold!  Dad and I go over the gun from the butt-plate to the end of the barrels...every function, every finishing feature...there is absolutely nothing wrong it, and the price is unbelievable for the kind of quality we're seeing.  

Long and the short of this story is that from beginning to end the people at Thomas Ferney & Co. have delivered everything they said they would.  And being a photographer I've provided some shots for them to use in their marketing (I am that impressed!).  One of those shots is now the cover photo for this blog (my gun).  If I were them I'd think about raising prices very soon as with their limited production runs I could see them running out of product in short fashion!  Good luck to Chris Handy and all the folks at Thomas Ferney & Co.  you are definitely onto something!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's no secret that I love shooting...especially sporting clays and trap.  It's also no secret that I really enjoy the finer destinations.  Sure I'll settle for an old corn field with a spring loaded hand-thrower but I do appreciate the amenities at some of the top shooting clubs around the nation...therefore I've decided to begin featuring some of my favorites.  First up is The Fork Farm & Stables.

The Fork is located in Norwood, NC and is an absolutely beautiful property.  With not only sporting clays but upland bird and duck hunting (in season) this is a shotgunners paradise.

Here is some information from their shooting page on their website:

Sporting Clay shooting is a timeless sport perfect for friends and family and an excellent option for business entertaining. The Fork offers:
  • 14-station Large-Gauge Course (12 and 16 gauge)
  • 7-station Small-Gauge Course (20, 28 and 410 gauge)
  • Covered Five-Stand
  • 4-person, Twelve-trap, 65-foot Tower/Flurry
The courses, designed by British designer John Higgins, are set on 1,600 wooded acres at the confluence of the Pee Dee and Rocky Rivers. The country is rolling piedmont, which affords challenging hillside shooting with shots both above and below the shooter. With minimal coaching, even someone who has never shot before can participate in a round of Sporting Clays while also enjoying the pristine natural surroundings of The Fork.
Sporting clay events and competitions of all levels are staged throughout the year. Ladies and young shooters are encouraged to participate. 

Now this is a room I could definitely be comfortable in...