What do a tuktuk, a goat and John Cena have in common? They are all in this photo.
Another tragedy involving someone killing innocent people with guns. Another national third-grade level dialogue about guns, violence, society, mental illness, concealed carry laws, gun-free zones…
My first time shooing a gun other than my dad’s BB gun was at scout camp. I can still hear the Rangemaster’s voice urging us to “Sqeeeeeeeze the trigger” shortly after bellowing out “Ready on the left, ready on the right, ready on the firing line.”
Years later I had a job where I had to carry a gun for protection. Not a taser, not pepper spray, not even a handgun. I had to qualify and then carry a .375 rifle, capable of taking down a charging brown bear. For three summers, one of the four of us on the trail crew had to carry it. The only time we ever fired it was during our testing. The test involved firing one shot into each of three successively closer targets and being in a vital zone on the bear outline. Within 10 seconds.
Sometimes we would walk into a work site and a few hours later see bear prints on top of our own tracks. We worked on a bridge while a young bear fished the rapids below us. We still considered carrying that rifle a nuisance.
A few years after that I bought my first gun. It was surreal and I wondered if what I was doing was illegal. I was in the seller’s dining room as he set the rifle in front of me. It had a nice Leupold scope and cushioned butt. I didn’t have to show any ID. There was no waiting period. My name wasn’t written down anywhere as part of the transaction (that I know of). He asked if I’d like a few boxes of ammo. Sure. As he went to what I hoped was a very secure safe, I looked out of his dining room window at the elementary school across the street. Kids were playing on the playground that drizzly Saturday afternoon. I walked out to my car with a rifle in a soft case and a grocery bag with a few boxes of ammunition. I still wondered if I had done something illegal. But surely the seller would not have done something illegal — he was the Chief of Police.
Years later, having perhaps shot all of those rounds at the target range and carried the rifle a few times on fruitless (meatless?) deer and moose hunting trips, I sold the rifle back to him. I didn’t want a gun in the house. Even though I had a lock on the gun and had hidden the key so well I needed to use bolt cutters to cut the lock off before selling it, I didn’t want a firearm in the house when my family would soon include a 10 year old boy. The Police Chief asked me what I wanted to buy to replace it. I told him I didn’t want anything. He was incredulous. “What will you do to protect yourself?” he pleaded. Stunned to have a law enforcement officer ask how I would protect myself, I just said I would call the police.
It is sad that I know people that have committed suicide by gun. I know kids that have died accidentally while hunting. I know someone that is now in prison after drinking and threatening police with his assault rifle. Accidents happen. People make bad decisions. I don’t want to politicize the deaths, I learned from them and want to share that. However, I don’t know anyone that has used a firearm to defend themselves. I have friends that carry firearms at all times. But statistically (the numbers really do support this) and anecdotally they are more likely to hurt themselves or someone they care for than someone intending them harm.
Going back to my time of carrying a gun in the woods, the only person I personally know that has been attacked by a bear was hunting them. Though bears attack people that are not injuring them or up to their elbows in moose entrails.
Here are the facts.
- Gun and ammo sales surge after mass shootings. The mass shootings are good for business for weapon manufacturers and the NRA.
- The NRA spent 32 million dollars lobbying and on federal campaigns in 2014 alone.
- Annual homicides (by any cause) in the US are at their lowest since 1965. Statistically you have not been safer from someone killing you in the last 50 years.
- There is no correlation between violent acts and violent video games and movies.
- Almost twice as many people kill themselves with guns annually compared to those killed by others.
- Guns are used for intimidation far more often than in actual self defense, and that intimidation is often either illegal (it isn’t self defense if you pull a gun on someone in an argument — no matter how heated) or done against a spouse.
We need to stop being passive and act. This isn’t about the few shooters going for a high body count. This is about tens of thousands of preventable injuries and deaths each year because of the easy access to firearms.
Over the summer we were able to spend a few days with Keith and Sarah. The summer before we had just a few hours with them.
We were surprised when we arrived at Keith’s family’s B&B to not only have a gorgeous cottage with a fantastic view but also to have this convertible Mustang to get around in. We felt like cool kids… if only it had been 1991.
We have some plants constantly flowering on our rooftop patio. The one above is on vines that we now have growing onto the cabana roof. Sathish bought them over the summer and they have been doing quite well.
These pink flowers we have in many pots on the roof. The first ones I just plucked from the ground along our road about a year ago. They are a woody stemmed shrub and pretty drought tolerant – I have forgotten to water for a week and they survive. They also are always in bloom.
Above is a flower stalk coming off of one of my aloe plants. Another one bloomed about a month or so ago, otherwise I have never seen aloe flowers.
We think this one is some form of basil. It is aromatic but doesn’t smell or taste like basil varieties I am used to.
Here is a view of the cabana with the hatching removed and the vines starting up in a few places.
Maybe this comes from my anti-corporation split with fashion back in the late 80s, but I hate doing free advertising for companies. I refused to cave to the trend in junior high of wearing Vuarnet t-shirts. In fact, if a shirt had the manufacturer’s name on it I probably didn’t want it. I wanted to wear clothes, not billboards. I dutifully removed the car dealership license plate frame from my first truck within days of owning it. I even was skeptical about dating my current wife when I saw her Abercrombie sweatshirt.
If I pay good money for something and then acting as advertisement then I should pay less for the device – like a simple pyramid scheme. I don’t mind advertising for free things that I like. If Google wants to put an ad for Gmail at the end of my messages I guess I’m fine with that. But if you pay $600 for a device and then every email you send form it advertises for others to buy it I get annoyed. The signature for the iPhone does just that. They append your messages with “Sent from my iPhone” which may be a humble-brag excuse for typos and brief responses, but annoys me regardless.
So here are 10 things you can replace that line with…
- Sent from my iPhone, to a cellular tower, through the interworking function to the internet.
- Sent via radio waves at between 800 and 1,900 megahertz, depending on my signal at the time.
- Sent using morse code.
- Sent by Pony Express. Ponies made out of lots of zeroes and ones.
- Sent from my WiFi-enabled Etch-A-Sketch.
- Sent from a rotary phone. I am visiting my great uncle.
- Sent from my Apple IIe and dial-up modem at 300 baud.
- Sent form my brain. To my thumbs.
- Sent from my email.
- Sent from the Mars Rover.
It is inexcusable really. I have gone far, far too long without posting. It isn’t like there have not been things to write about…
- A few days in London
- A few weeks in Alaska
- Time with friends in Washington
- Being back in NY with family
- The start of my fifth year as a teacher
- Small job changes
- Adding a kitten
- Driving in India
- Taking more graduate classes
- That place we went to for dinner on Saturday
Well, a few things have come up that are conspiring to get me to post again… and I really might just have to comply. Just not right now. Well, actually I will right now… but we’ll see when the post after this shows up.
We have a few days in London on our way back to the U.S. for the summer. Pepper picked our hotel and did pretty well… this is a picture out of our hotel room window. Last night we went out for dinner and then just returned to the hotel and went to sleep early (for this time zone) We are headed out soon to get breakfast and then get into full into tourist mode!
I don’t teach English. And that’s a good thing. See? I just started a sentence with “and” which is probably breaking a rule. For a few years I refused to capitalize “I” unless it was writing for work because it seemed too self-important. Pet peeves aside, for more than a decade I have resisted succumbing to text speak. I make mistakes — I think almost everyone does. But I love these two songs about grammar.
Jacob performed his original poem today ni front of his peers and parents of the grade 2 classes. If you turn up your sound to hear him, be careful because the applause at the end is pretty loud!