Monday, March 31, 2014

It's Here! Now Hand me a Beer!

Today is OFFICIALLY the first day of Spring!

Why is it official? Because I am sitting in my porch swing, blogging on my laptop.

Without a coat or gloves. That makes it SPRING!

I have been so tired of winter. Right now it is 70 degrees with a light breeze; perfect porch and beer weather.

This is the day that we have so few of it seems. Not too hot; not too cold. Not too windy; not too humid.

Just right in every respect.

Except for the 9-year-old dribbling a basketball a few feet away. On the porch. Where to noise echos and rebounds so each slam of the ball on to the concrete sound like the entire UK first string doing dribble laps.

In an empty swimming pool.

Luckily her attention span is only about 30 dribbles long.  Then its off to something else. Or its another question. Or its back to the basketball. THUMP; THUMP; THUMP.

'Hey Pap-paw; why does..... How does.... where is....' Right now all of the questions are answerable, although distracting. I can make a blog post, or I can explain how a small seed becomes a large plant. Not both. Especially when the weather is so distracting too.

This is the weather I dreamed about all winter. This is the day that kept me going in February, when the sunrise and sunset seemed to occur in the same hour. When stepping outside was an hour long chore, due to the dressing and undressing in multiple layers was required to avoid frostbite. When the sn** kept all of the grass hidden under a thick, white blanket.

That Feburary.

And now she wants to dig up the yard to look for dinosaur bones. Did I mention this week is Spring Break? 65-70 everyday for highs. And I will be at work. Everyday until the forecast says rain and 50 degrees. Yup. Saturday.

But I  suppose that is one of the reasons we value these days so highly; the rarity. 365 days like this may wear thin. As I read on James Lileks blog this morning; days like this are our reward for surviving the winter (I am paraphrasing of course).

I'm not sure it's a reward for surviving the winter, as much as it is a reward for BELIEVING we could survive the winter. I never doubted I would survive.

I just was never sure how many years older I would be when it ended.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Past, on Paper

I think I may have mentioned that I have been collecting books for years. I have paperback books that I bought through Scholastic in the 1960's for $.60 (now their 5 bucks!). Yeah; that's a long time to hold on to a 3rd grade level book. But now I have a granddaughter who likes to read and is at that grade level, so maybe it hasn't been in vain.

I have received a lot of books as gifts through the years, and I have looked at every one. Some were not my style, and that look was rather cursory. Others were exactly what I was looking for, and they were studied a little harder.

So; do I have a point here or not?

The point is about the only room in my house where I don't have books is the kitchen. I tried keeping a few there, but they were promptly evicted. I sometimes think it is time to start paring down the collection. But I never get farther than thinking about it.

Which ones to sever my connection with? The ones that were passed down from my Grandparents? The ones I have had for 40 years? The ones I have been given as gifts? The textbooks which cost me dearly in college, and have been seldom opened, even when I was in school? I could probably come up with maybe a dozen to get rid of.

There were a couple a few years ago that were so poorly written that I couldn't finish them; they would be on the short list. And I have some old Almanacs that have become obsolete, except that the information in them cannot be corrupted by future events, so maybe they need to stay around.

Two things that keep making the news that I am acutely aware of; Hoarders, and Simplifying. I have sympathies with both. I don't want to be a hoarder, but does just keeping something that may have some use make me one? And I would love to simplify my life, but I have a hard time thinking about what I can do without. Some people become homeless, and live out of their Honda. I would have a problem living out of a semi trailer; no way could I pare down to just what I could fit in the trunk of my car.

How does that happen? Maybe there are folks who don't need tactile memories, but I'm not one of them. I have things in my collection drawer that would look meaningless to most people, but to me they are memory keys, and when ever I run across them I think about an event or person that doesn't normally cross my mind. That one little item can transport me back to some (usually) pleasant time in my life. How do people who have pared down their possessions trigger those memories?

My books are memory triggers too. Sometimes they remind me of who I received the book from, or where I was when I received or purchased it. Sometime the book will remind me of where I was when I first, or maybe last, read it. Or a combination of things; Like my Grandma's collection of Westerns that I read during the bad winter in January of my Senior year in High School; there's a twofer right there!

Each holds a special memory, and I couldn't imagine discarding any of them.

Or maybe I'm the only one who thinks that almost everything I've ever done is memorable?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Education Does Not Always Pay

First; this is not scientific by any means. But, it is a good illustration of why I have always maintained that a college degree may be nice, but not always a requirement.

Can you believe there are degrees that will COST you money to try and earn a living with? They don't make mention in the article about whether or not the cost includes the cost of the education or not, but I'll guess it does.

The second chart is even more interesting; Arts, Humanities and Education; the three degrees that seem to give you the least return for your buck. They also seem to be the easiest to earn, or to get a PhD in with very little actual intelligence.

Spend 4 years somewhere partying and at the end they hand you a worthless piece of paper.

And then you take that worthless piece of paper and get a teaching job with it.

Do you see why this country is going to Hell in a handbasket?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fiction; In a Flash

The wife and I never really had a honeymoon. We got married on Friday night and I was back to work on Monday morning. We did spend Friday night at a local Motel 6; we had to ask them to turn the light off for us- it was shining right into our room. Can you believe they wouldn't do it?

We were always planning to get away, but there was always work, and then the kids, Always one thing or another; this or that stopped us from going.

And then, well, for our 30th wedding anniversary  the kids gave us a trip, And a camera. They didn't really give us a trip, like they had planned an itinerary, but they got together a few bucks and arranged two weeks off of work for me and the missus, rented us a car, packed our bags and pushed us out the door. Told us what we did between now a fortnight hence was our business.

But bring back pictures.

So we started down the road. And it came to us why we had never taken a honeymoon. Neither of us liked to travel.

We drove few hours and decided to stop for the night. we found a little inn a bit off the beaten track; the kind you don't see much of anymore.  Motel in the back, restaurant and gas station out by the road.

We spent two weeks there; passing the time waving to traffic from the porch of the restaurant and shooting the breeze with who ever passed by. We ate every meal in that restaurant; breakfast was the best, and lunch a close second, almost tied neck and neck with dinner.

About lunch on the second day we got to worrying about pictures. We had it made; good room, great meals, pleasant company, but the spot wasn't the most photogenic I ever saw. One or two shots maybe, but not the whole passel the kids would be expecting.

The cook was taking a smoke break on the porch with us one day, and I mentioned our problem. He grinned a bit, and then called out the busboy. Seems the busboy knew how to fix up pictures, and load them on the camera. That afternoon he put a sign by the cash register asking for a few pictures from each customer. He rigged up a small computer under the counter and downloaded  - I think he called it- all kinds of pictures.

Then he took a picture of me, and then one of the missus and then one of both of us. A few days later he showed me what was on the camera. There were pictures from all over the country. According to the camera, we had been, and had our pictures taken at, Mt. Rushmore, Key West and the Grand Canyon- just for starters. Disney World, Disneyland, San Francisco (we rode the cable cars), Yellowstone Park, the Soo Locks and Niagara Falls.

We also saw all of the sites in Washington DC and New York City. We had even managed to make it to Maine for the fall colors. In June.

By the end of the two weeks that camera was so full of pictures we would need a month of Sundays to look at them all. That Sunday afternoon we paid our tab, left a big tip for the staff and loaded up the car. An hour or so later we were in our own driveway, unpacking.

The kids showed up about the time we were done, and we showed them the camera full of pictures. The only one any of them looked at was the one I just showed you all. We took that from the porch of the restaurant first morning we was there.

The missus and I look through the pictures every so often and remember our 'trip'. One of the grandsons have them put onto a movie disc that we can watch on the TV.

Of course, the only one we recognize is the one we took from the porch.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Push Back Twice as Hard

Surfing around on the internets today and found this article on Bloomberg's Business Week.

I sure hope this idiot doesn't get paid to write. I took me forever to read this piece; Bloomberg's site is glitchier than Obamacare's. So, in case you can't get to the link, I have taken the unusual step of including the entire article after my comments.

Apparently Georgia is about to enact a 'Guns Everywhere' ordinance (with bi-partisan support) that will allow concealed carry in bars, churches, stores and airports, provided the proprietor hasn't hung out a 'No Guns Allowed' sign. Okay, so?

Well our alleged author has Four Blunt Points to make against the law. His points?

1. The Newtown school massacre led to “guns everywhere.”(sic)

2. Georgia illustrates the NRA’s structural advantage on gun control.  

3. Skeptics of expansive gun rights need to respond intelligently.   

4. The best response to gun-rights extremism is a focus on fighting crime.

And he says it like this is NEWS!

Let's bust a few balloons, shall we?

First, it wasn't the Newton shootings that lead to these laws, but the Left's insistence that a nutcase with a stolen gun be used to limit gun rights. So yes, the natural response is to fight back. Smart people know that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. NO MASS SHOOTING HAS EVER TAKEN PLACE IN A GUN PERMITTED ZONE. It is only when a shooter knows he will have the only gun does he try something like this. Or may be I'm wrong, and the people have decided that they need to remove gun restricted zones, to end problems like Newton. Bu either way, this autor is wrong.

Number Two; Strange wording, isn't it? almost as if the author doesn't want to realize that the majority of folks in this country SUPPORT gun rights and the Second Amendment. After all, nobody he knows owns a gun right? A direct quote:

"At present (and maybe always), the intensity of pro-gun passion exceeds that of anti-gun passion."

Care to guess why? Maybe because gun rights advocates believe in their position, and haven't been ginned up by some rabble-rouser?

Number three had me figuratively rolling on the floor laughing.  I have never, or maybe very seldom, with a few very notable exceptions, seen ANYONE on the left argue a point intelligently, particularly in the media. More specifically on guns. Their reaction is usually based on an indoctrinated fear; one so ingrained through 16 years of education that the mention of the private ownership and carrying of a weapon reduces them to a sputtering rage. Because they have never been given any FACTS, just emotions, and emotional arguments are always destructed by facts.

FACT- Florida has had a Shall Issue Law for 20 years, and Florida has not become Dodge City, as predicted. None of the Shall Issue States has. Yet that is always the first scenario raised. Hasn't it been discredited enough?

Number 4 is a howler too; why is someone who defends a Constitutionally protected right an extremist, yet the 'No such thing as a good gun' crowd are not?

Go ahead; read the article. see who you agree with.


Georgia appears poised to enact a so-called guns-everywhere law, making it easier for firearm permit holders to take their weapons into bars, churches, and even airports. Approved last week by the state legislature, the bill awaits the signature of Republican Governor Nathan Deal, a strong gun-rights advocate up for reelection this fall. His opponent, Jason Carter, a Democratic state senator and grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, voted for the legislation, so enactment seems assured.
Non-gun owners doubtless find all this baffling. Here are four blunt points to sort out what’s going on and how to respond:
1. The Newtown school massacre led to “guns everywhere.” Perverse as it may sound, the horrific mass shooting in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary produced a burst of state-level gun control bills around the country and then triggered a much stronger pro-gun backlash. The counter-reaction has now reached its apogee in Georgia. In the past year alone, 21 states have enacted laws expanding gun rights, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Several states added piecemeal provisions allowing firearms on college campuses or in bars or churches. Georgia’s politicians, egged on by the National Rifle Association, have gone for broke.
2. Georgia illustrates the NRA’s structural advantage on gun control. As if we needed a fresh demonstration of this phenomenon, the gun-rights lobby currently enjoys a fundamental edge in the debate about regulating firearms. In an era of falling crime rates, liberal enthusiasm for gun control simply doesn’t pack much political punch outside certain blue-state environments. Yes, people get riled up, understandably, by mass shootings at schools or movie theaters. Over and over, we’ve seen those emotions fade quickly, giving way to a more sustained counter-reaction from the pro-gun side. The NRA has skillfully responded to calls for stricter gun control by portraying them as evidence that liberals’ real agenda is confiscating firearms—all firearms.
A cadre of highly motivated, well organized pro-gun voters believe the NRA scare tactics and rally behind ever-more-aggressive measures to expand gun rights. Thus, we now have concealed-carry laws in all 50 states. We have traditional self-defense laws replaced by stand-your-ground—and in Georgia, guns everywhere. Even those who deplore these developments at some point must acknowledge the pattern. At present (and maybe always), the intensity of pro-gun passion exceeds that of anti-gun passion.
3. Skeptics of expansive gun rights need to respond intelligently. The smart response is not scorn or exaggeration. For better or worse, gun ownership has come to symbolize a range of deeply felt ideas about culture and government authority. Making fun of people who view their firearms as emblems of liberty and traditional values (however they define those values) will neither change minds nor repeal legislation.
Exaggerating the practical effects of gun-rights legislation doesn’t make sense, either. The Georgia measure allows guns in bars and churches under certain circumstances. Saloon owners who don’t want weapons in their establishments would have to post a sign saying so. That doesn’t sound so onerous; a lot of bars in pro-gun precincts already have such signs. Worshipers in Georgia wouldn’t be allowed to pack heat unless their congregation affirmatively votes to “opt in” to the guns-everywhere law. Personally, I wouldn’t choose a synagogue whose congregants thought they needed Glocks to celebrate the sabbath. But that’s me. If someone else’s congregation feels safer knowing that people are armed, I say: Let them go with God. I doubt that enactment of Georgia’s law will lead to a rash of shoot-outs. If it does, Georgians can reassess.
4. The best response to gun-rights extremism is a focus on fighting crime. Rather than engage with the NRA on the cultural battlefield, where gun-rights advocates have the upper hand, liberals should focus on the most-pressing problem related to firearms—that their prevalence in American society makes our violent crime more lethal. Broadly speaking, this approach would have liberals emphasize more aggressive enforcement of existing laws against illegal gun possession, rather than obsess about situations that allow law-abiding citizens to own guns and carry them on their person. Still speaking broadly, the anti-crime approach would have liberals ask how the extraordinary successes in reducing violent crime in places like New York—where gun control laws have not changed for decades—can be replicated elsewhere.
Turning back to Georgia, this mindset would inspire guns-everywhere skeptics (and if you can’t tell by now, I am one) to focus on those provisions of the law that appear to be soft on crime and criminals. For example, the statute would provide more leeway for gun owners to escape punishment if they try to go through airport security while armed. That seems dangerous. We’ve decided as a society that we don’t want guns on airplanes. This security requirement doesn’t seem terribly difficult to remember, what with all the people in uniform at the airport and all those screening machines and long lines and having to take off your shoes, for goodness’s sake.
A further troubling aspect of the Georgia law is that its ambiguous wording might provide wiggle room for a felon to invoke the state’s separate stand-your-ground law as part of a self-defense claim. Now this would be truly preposterous. Felons, even in Georgia, aren’t supposed to have guns in the first place, so maybe this issue is more a function of poor legislative craftsmanship than malign intent. But since pro-gun activists are simultaneously lobbying all over the place to make it easier for some felons to get their right to own guns reinstated, this facet of the law seems to merit quick repeal.
The upshot: Rather than argue that guns are evil or that gun enthusiasts are nuts, liberal skeptics should push back with concrete proposals for keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, and children.