Monday, December 31, 2012

A downward spiral?


Just an observation:  One thing that differentiates the USA from countries like Italy and Greece is that Americans by-and-large pay their taxes.  Our tax compliance rate is very high, while they have a huge cash economy, one where cash changes hands, there are no receipts, and income goes unreported to the tax man.  I predict we'll see more and more of that here.

Americans are rapidly losing faith in their government.  As more and more people become self-employed, the opportunity will increase to stiff the Infernal Revenooers.  When people feel their government isn't listening to them....to their concerns....then people will begin to tune them out and start looking out for themselves only, screw the "collective good".  I think we're on/near that threshold right now.  It's called "self-preservation".   That's the corner we're being backed into. 

It won't happen overnight, but it will happen.

Oh yeah....Happy New Year!

S


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Score!

Yesterday while K and I were out working off our Saturday "to do" list I realized we were just a block from REI and my car, as it's wont to do, went on auto-pilot straight into their parking lot.  Fortunately for me as I discovered they were having a store-wide "garage sale".  Some of it was returned items on sale for cents on the dollar, but they also had tons of new stuff marked down 50%, too.



I found this $180 Primaloft-insulated mid-weight REI jacket for $83.  Now I just have to fight Luke for it.  (He looks "ready to rumble."  Grrrrr!)

I don't understand clothes merchandising.  Here it is barely a week into winter, there is still snow on the ground from last Tuesday's storm, and already stores are clearing out their winter stuff and making room for....what....summer shorts and t-shirts?  It seems like they start earlier and earlier every year trying to sell us the upcoming season's styles.  I'm thinking someday they'll actually get ahead of themselves a full 12 months and put next winter's stuff on sale at the start of this winter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My banana pudding is in demand again....by ME!  I took a huge bowl of BP I made to the in-laws for (part of) our Christmas dinner dessert, and as we left K said, "Y'all just keep the rest and enjoy it."  DOH!  I got one modest-size bowl for all my effort.

This afternoon we're going to have Christmas with two of my daughters who live in the area and grandkids Parker and Blakely, plus grand-daughter Reese still "in the oven".  I made another banana pudding to share with the family, with the understanding I'm bringing back at least some of what's left over.  I mean, one serving is just a teaser!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

'Tis the best of times....it's college football bowl season....and the worst of times....after January 7th I won't have any more NCAA football for eight months.  Oh, the horror!

So far we've only had some of the minor bowl games like the Boudreaux's Butt Paste* Bowl (or something like that) where my Texas Tech Red Raiders lucked out and beat Minnesota as the clock ran out.   Hey, it's still a "W"....I'll take it.

Now I'm gonna go check the newspaper to see which NFL players added to their police rap sheets over the weekend.

Y'all have a nice Sunday.

S

*Yes, there really is such a product.  (I don't make this stuff up, folks.  Well, not most of it.)




Saturday, December 29, 2012

Can we just lynch Congress and be done with this? Why not?


NOW we're talkin'!  
(I stole this photo off my friend Kathy Mizell's Facebook page.)

What is it with these wacko nut job Tea Party-ers?  They can't even get along with half of their own Republican Party.  Since the Tea Party gained traction several years ago there have been numerous sitting congressmen from both parties say they would not run for re-election as they were no longer proud to serve in Congress.  They say going to work every day and confronting these Tea Party-ers is unbearable.  

I understand standing firm on moral matters, but nothing Congress does falls in the category of "morality".  That would be the ultimate oxymoron!  They're just a bunch of sleazeballs trying to get all they can while they can for themselves and their fat cat friends.

The American people are NOT extremists.  We believe in compromise.  In fact we founded an entire country on compromise.  It's worked for well over 200 years, but now all of a sudden these Tea Party-ers have a better idea?  They're smarter than our Founding Fathers?  Ha!  I'm surprised they can even walk upright!

Extremism didn't work for the Democrats back in the 80's, and it won't work for the Republicans today.  But until they can be eradicated they are screwing the American people like I've never seen before.

The "austerity" the Tea Party-ers advocate has been ongoing in Europe for several years now and is NOT working.  In fact it's making things worse.  While the goal (reigning in government) is probably necessary, the timing is atrocious.  You start cutting back when the economy is healthy and can afford to absorb the hit.  You don't kick people in the teeth when they're already down for the count.

OK, I feel better now.  Not really, but my fingers are cramping.

Now, go out there and have a great weekend.  Unless you're a Congressman.  Then get your ass to work.  Vacation request DENIED!

;)

S


Friday, December 28, 2012

If you don't want to break 'em, don't make 'em


Yes, it's that time of the year again, time when we declare our New Year's Resolutions, those things we're going to do different next year that will have miraculous effects on our life.  And a couple of days later it will be the time of year when we have to admit....at least to ourselves, sometimes publicly....that we don't have the willpower of a wino in a liquor store.

And the reason we fail so miserably every year is because we aim WAAAY too high.  "I'm going to diet and lose 40 pounds, join a gym and work out 4 days a week until I have the body of one of those Cross Fit people, eat sensibly, give up booze, and get my 10 hours of sleep every night.  Amen."

And then one-by-one you fall off the wagon and by the next December you've gained another 5 pounds, found that your preferred shape is 'round', developed an addiction to bacon and a taste for Ripple, and learned the best classic movies are on at 2 am.

So here's what I've learned from my 62 years on Planet Earth....aim loooooooow.  These are my resolutions for 2013:

1.  I'm going to work extra-hard to keep my weight within a very narrow range....say 10%....of where it is right now.

2.  I'm going to take the stairs instead of the elevator every time I take the dog out for his dootie-call.  (Note:  I live on the second floor, and the stairs are closer than the elevator.)

3.  I'm going to confine my food intake to ONLY those things that can be identified as belonging to one of the major food groups.

4.  I'm going to drink alcohol only on days that end in 'y'.  (I'm not a big drinker, so this should be a slam dunk.)

5.  I'm not going to take up the use of tobacco in any form.

6.  I'm going to limit my sleep to a maximum of 10 hours a night.

See how this works?  Now be brave.  Go out there and push yourself.

Happy New Year!  

S


Thursday, December 27, 2012

The lonely world of the technologically challenged


I know to most people I might seem like a relatively normal, well adjusted person, but deep inside I'm hurting.  All my friends get together and talk about the new 200" HiDef 1650 LP Nuclear Accumulated Sprocket-Monitor TV's they got for Christmas, and all I can say is, "Gee, that baby sure is thin!"  The looks I get are so....so hurtful.

It hurts more than getting picked last for dodge ball or not getting to sit at the lunch table with the cool kids.  Actually I was middle-of-the-pack on both of those, but I'm pretty sure being technologically challenged in the 21st Century is worse.  My old computer regularly spit out !!!WARNING!!! notices that "Error 521 might cause irreparable damage to my drive 'something' unless I reboot the excecesor", or something like that.  All I could do was sit there and say, "I wonder if we're out of queso?"

This was brought to mind yesterday when I tried to set up the new TV one of my vendors gave me for Christmas.  (Thank you Jack!)  Once I got past mounting the TV on the stand I was hopelessly lost.  The instructions seemed like some sort of foreign language.  Whoever wrote them just assumed I already had a Master's Degree in Computer Gibberish....they didn't explain crap!

I knew I needed the cables to hook the TV up to the cable box and to the jack in the wall.  A trip to the electronics store revealed a wall full of different types of wires to choose from.  I finally flagged down some little zit-faced 17-year-old "Sales Associate" who asked, "Is your TV HDMI compatible?"  Come on kid, gimme a break!  (Naturally I bought the wrong ones and had to go back a second time.)  

I finally got the TV to come on and all it said on the screen was "VGA".  What the f--- does that mean?  What am I supposed to do with that jewel of information?  Out of frustration I just started pushing buttons on the remote, buttons that said things like "YPbPr, CC, MTS, EPG, and FAV".  I was as lost as a Neanderthal dropped into modern-day Manhattan.

Finally K came home, wiggled a couple of wires, pushed a button somewhere, and it worked.

All I know is that baby sure is thin!  ;)

S


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Listen...what's that noise? *silence*


Be honest now....how many of you are thinking, "Whew, thank goodness THAT'S over with!"  It's OK....I won't tell.

I suspect most of us feel that way.  Maybe generations ago Christmas was as simple as taking a dish over to grandma's (just a few blocks away) where the family assembled to exchange hand-knit sweaters and potholders and enjoy a meal, but those days are long gone.

Now it's hours of agonizing what to get everyone, and figuring out how to juggle the "no payments 'till March / June / September".  And nobody you know, much less are kin to, live "just a few blocks away."  Families are now scattered across the country, requiring driving hours to get there.  And those are the lucky ones.  



Some have to endure air travel, lost baggage, airline employees who really don't want to be there, and increasingly (due to "climate change") sleeping on the cold airport floor with your coat for a pillow as you wait for better weather.



And holiday cooking:  I've always questioned why we do it?  I can remember the cooks in my family planning for weeks, and cooking for days, so we could sit down, say Grace, and woof it all down in 30 minutes.  (The original "wham, bam, thank you ma'am"?)  The holiday china and crystal and silver and table linens would come out, and of course have to be hand-washed and put back later.  



Now businesses that sell complete holiday meals with all the trimming's in a box do a thriving business.  I think it's safe to say "the thrill is gone".

Oh sure, I bluster, but I was actually good this year.  Normally I catch hell for being such a Bah Humbug at Christmas time, but this year I pretty much behaved myself.  I smiled and complimented K's Christmas decorations, watched Christmas shows and concerts on TV, sang "fa la freakin' la", did the shopping with a minimum of profanity, and even loaded the car and traveled with a good attitude.  Normally I'd rather slide down a 10' razor blade into a vat of alcohol than do any of that, but this year I was a veritable Kris Krinkle.  My family has one more get-together, this one to see the grand kids open their gifts from Grandpa and Miss Kelly.  It should be nice.  ;)

Am I getting soft in my old age?  

OK, I guess we can do it again next year.  Now, where's that TV Bowl Game schedule?  *wink*

S

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Now don't forget....

I hope amidst all the partying, shopping, gift exchanging, and feasting you'll not forget the real reason we celebrate this wonderful day.


Merry Christmas to you all.

S


Monday, December 24, 2012

My kitchen adventure

K had to work today so I thought I'd help out by making the dip we volunteered to bring to the in-laws tomorrow.  What I found, however, was that the instructions were a bit lacking.  One of the ingredients was a block of Philadelphia Cream Cheese.  It said to "soften" it, so I let it sit out for a while, but it didn't soften. 

Then I remembered the little pouch of caramel that comes in the box of Genuine Home Made Brownies I sometimes make.  To make it soft enough to be able to squeeze out the end of the pouch you have to knead it for a couple of minutes.  Maybe that's also how you "soften" cream cheese?

Wrong-O.  I kneaded it like I would that caramel pouch and just left a few fingertip dimples in it.  Maybe I need to pound on it?  BIG Wrong-O!  The wrapping that comes around the block of cream cheese isn't strong enough to withstand being pounded on.

I found this out after the first "pound" when cream cheese shot out both ends of the package.  As there was no more cream cheese in the refrig I had no choice but to salvage this one.  Fortunately I had just given the granite counter top a good cleaning before I began so I was pretty sure there wouldn't be any deadly cooties in my dip.  (I later taste-tested it and so far I haven't taken up residence in the bathroom, so I'm fairly confident it's harmless.)

I scraped it all up off the counter....well, most of it....dumped in a tub of sour cream, then poured in the French onion dip powder seasoning stuff.  What exactly is a "French" onion anyway?  Is it like a regular onion but with a snooty attitude?

Then it was time to stir.  Damn....I'm exhausted!  My arm is numb.  How do these little tiny women manage to cook all day?  



I'm guessing Julia Child started out about 5'4 and weighed maybe 130, then beefed up the more she cooked.  By the time she published that big cookbook of hers she must have been a borderline knuckle-dragger!


Anyway, the bottom line is this:



It tastes really good!  I think the in-laws will like it.  They might even let me stick around for some prime rib.  :)

Merry Christmas everyone.

S

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"If you want something done right....


....do it yourself."  I don't know who first came up with that one, but it's as appropriate today as it was when I first heard my dad say it when I was a kid.

For me it describes perfectly the saga of the holiday banana pudding I'm still waiting for.  This past Thanksgiving I mentioned how much I wanted some banana pudding and my SIL said she would make some for our family get-together.  Bless her heart, she tried, and what she served wasn't bad at all, but it wasn't Classic Banana Pudding.  If she'd called it Banana Delight or something we wouldn't have thought anything about it.  But as we were expecting banana pudding, we were disappointed.

So, in the spirit of that old idiom, I'm gonna do it myself.  We're going to my in-laws house on Christmas day and K and I are bringing dessert.  On Monday I'll be in the kitchen with my cookbook acting like I'm Emeril Lagasse.  (Fair disclosure....my "cookbook" is actually the side of a box of 'Nilla Wafers.  Close enough.)

Fancy cooks have a habit of taking a very simple recipe and jazzing it up, thinking it's an improvement.  I wouldn't mind it if they did that and labeled it "New Improved ______" and served it alongside "Classic _____".  Then we would know we had a choice and could decide for ourselves.  I just don't like surprises when it comes to my food.  Truth in advertising.

Don't promise me Santa Claus, then send me Billy Bob Thornton.  ;)

S

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Road trip!

While it wasn't all that far as the crow flies our visit yesterday to the new Perot Museum of Science and Nature was quite a trip.  K has a few days off (and I've been "off" for a long time), so we thought it might be a good time to avoid the weekend crowd and go see this new wonder.  It's located in Uptown Dallas just across the freeway from the Arts District.



Your first reaction is WOW!  The architecture is stunning.  I learned the horizontal cast concrete ridges in the facade are meant to replicate geologic strata.

They have 11 permanent exhibit halls in 180,000 sq ft on 4 levels, a 300-seat digital theatre, a bead-and-trinket store, etc.  As a builder I was awed by all the angles and curves and ramps, wondering how many times they had to re-do them to get everything to fit just right.  Turns out they got it right the first time thanks to the 3-D digital model where they built it just for practice.  And I saw the complete blueprints....stacked 6 inches thick.


Smart folks they are!

K liked the "Expanding Universe Hall" which was about the universe (duh!), stars, exploration, the Big Bang, etc.  It was extremely detailed yet understandable. 


Trust me....this photo doesn't do it justice.  The large exhibits and special effects were awesome.

I preferred the "Gems and Minerals Hall" and the "Dynamic Earth Hall".  They had an earthquake shake platform you could stand on and dial in the magnitude of the earthquake you wanted to experience.  Cranked all the way up the floor rose and fell and moved side-to-side with extreme, unpredictable violence.  It was an interesting sensation for someone who's thankfully never experienced a real one.

In Gems and Minerals, among other things, they explained in detail how the climate change way back there created oil and natural gas and showed how we extract it today.  This sounds rather sophomoric, but I promise you it was very professionally presented.  They explained offshore drilling platforms...


and the various kinds of drill bits and how they work....


and how a blowout prevention "Christmas Tree" works, too....


I also enjoyed the weather exhibits, including one that showed how colliding fronts form tornadoes....


They also had exhibits about critters and birds and such, and a bones room, too....


We were there about 3 hours and that was just a "get acquainted" peek.  To really see and experience everything would take several days at least.  It's the sort of place where you might go once a quarter and spend the day on just one floor reading, listening, and interacting.  If you could do that, by the time you were finished you'd probably have the equivalent of an advanced degree in any number of disciplines.

Kudos to the Perot family and their uber-rich friends who funded this beautiful museum.  (It opened debt-free.)  It truly is world class.  If you're just passing through Dallas go see it.  You won't be disappointed.  If you live nearby, go see it over and over.

I'm not easily impressed, but this really blew my socks off!

S

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's national "Ridicule a Mayan" day


I think I've figured out where the Mayan's astrology went wrong.

I'm thinking House Speaker John Boner needs to invite all of his Tea Party Republican colleagues over to his place for some Christmas cheer and then spike their punch with some of this stuff.  They seem to be waaaaay too tightly wound.

Looks to me like 'ol John is going to be demoted come next month when they vote on a new Speaker.  "Speaker Cantor" just scares the hell outta me.  It'll be like watching a slow-motion train wreck when he and his buds take over.

That's a shame really as we need a solid, responsible Republican party.  Somebody pass me that bottle.

S


Thursday, December 20, 2012

The End is Near-ish


So how is this "End of the World" thing gonna happen?  If I understand it correctly, the Mayans in their infinite wisdom have it figured tomorrow is "the day".  "Turn out the lights, the party's over".  It sounds rather silly to me, but then again, who knows?

If it turns out to be true I'd hate for my last meal to be a grilled cheese sandwich.  And I wouldn't want to spend my last day on earth rotating the tires on my car.  And why ruin my last day by balancing my checkbook or going grocery shopping?  To the contrary, I'm thinking about blowing all I have and then some on something really decadent.  Maybe I could drive my new Maserati to III Forks for a juicy, medium rare steak.

Do I dare chance it?  What if the Mayans were wrong?  I can't afford a new freakin' Maserati!


OK....OK....I'VE GOT IT!  We should be able to see this end of the world thing coming, right?  Wouldn't it start over in the western Pacific at the International Date Line?  Then it would work it's way around the world one time zone at a time.  Yeah, that's it.  By the time "the end" made it to Hawaii I would be behind the wheel of my new dream car.  By the time the lights went out in LA I'd be savoring my last bite of steak.  

As things got quiet in Denver I'd be assembling the kids and grand kidlettes in order to watch them open their Christmas presents.  Then we'd be off to the airport (no need for luggage....security should be a breeze!) where my private (rented) jet would be waiting to take us to maybe Paris....no....MONACO!  Wonder if we'd have time for a stopover in Switzerland?  I've never been there and it sounds pretty cool.

Hmmm....maybe I should have been accepting all those credit card offers I get every day in the mail that I've been pre-approved for.  We could've had one epic "Going Out With a Bang!" party.  Oh well, too late to worry about it now.

We could wind down the day in Singapore.  (Is that east or west of the IDL?  I'd better research it.)  Then we could sit and rest a while and thank God for all He's done for us and tell Him again what a great Boss he's been to us all.

Yep, I think I'll take today off work.  I have some shopping to do.  (But I'll keep the receipts just in case.)  *wink*

S


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Emma Belle....definitely THIS man's best friend




It was one year ago today that my dog, Emma Belle, gave me sole custody of our chair.

Emma Belle entered my life at the same time K did.  That's because she came with K as a sort of two-fer deal.  We never were sure exactly how old Emma was, but I'm guessing she was around 8 when she came to live with me.  I must say I've never bonded as quickly or as completely with a dog as I did with Emma.  K said more than once, "You've stolen my dog!"

Emma was smarter than one of those road skollers, too.  Together we were almost telepathic.  And unless I was away from home, she never left my side.  Not that I enticed her to follow me....she just enjoyed my company.  (Imagine that!)  If I got up from my desk in the study to go to the den or the kitchen, she would sense I was on the move and jump up from a sound sleep and follow.

She was a little too wide to sit beside me in our big leather chair (or maybe it was me who was a little too wide), so we worked out a deal....I would sit in the chair, but the ottoman was hers.  When I was away she would sit in my seat to keep it warm, but relinquish it as soon as I returned.

She had a temper, and a sense of remorse, too.  If I went somewhere and she wasn't ready for me to leave, she would go in the bathroom and turn over the trash can.  I suppose at some point it would dawn on her she had messed in her mess kit because when I returned she would greet me, not jumping up and down wagging her tail, but with her head down, ears back, and her big brown eyes barely making contact with mine.  I'd say her name like I was upset....Emmmmaaaaaaaa!  Come here!....and she would belly-crawl over to me.  I would ask if she was sorry and she would jump up on me and give me a "hug".  Then all was well, no grudges.

You can't imagine how scared I was when I took her to the vet on her last day.  She had pancreatitis, a common ailment for her breed, and I knew something was seriously wrong and we would soon be parting.  I left her as requested for them to do some tests, and was told to come back in a few hours.  I called K and told her to meet me back there, already having made the decision in my mind to put her down rather than make her suffer a few more days just so I could have a bit more time with my best friend.  She spared me from having to make that decision.  That's how considerate Emma Belle Park was.


Emma with her Christmas present.


Her position on "our" chair, never far away.


I always saved the last drop for her.


I loved her so.  Still do.  Always will.

S


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Symbolism vs. Reality


Bureaucrats and politicians and much of civilized society, too, believe in rules and laws.  If there's a problem, you pass a law or amend a rule and the problem is fixed.  Sometimes that works, often times not.  It looks like our leaders will soon be writing new laws to deal with gun violence in the wake of the Connecticut school shootings.  So will these new laws represent a paradigm shift in public safety or just be a symbolic gesture?

I expect to see new gun laws that will prohibit the purchase of some types of high-powered firearms and expand the databases that decide who can buy a gun and who can't.  It's a noble gesture, something the public will welcome as it will make them feel they're doing something to relieve the pain we all feel when we think of those innocent children lost at Sandy Hook.

I expect to see school districts everywhere amend their school visitor rules, requiring more identification and explanation of intent before doors will be unlocked for them.

Good people will comply with these new gun purchase rules and will always knock politely and ask for permission to enter.  Evil people will still buy their guns on the streets or just steal them and kick in whatever door is in their way.  This is reality.  

Keeping some types of guns off the streets isn't a bad thing at all, but with between 250M and 350M privately owned firearms out there right now it would be like assessing every adult another $1.50 in taxes and expecting that to balance our budget.  This is little more than symbolism.

Let's get real.  We have many mentally disturbed people living among us.  Some slowly go over the edge or just eventually snap and do terrible things.  These are the people we need to reach out to.  We need to identify them and do something....really DO something....to help them.  Right now any programs to help them are being increasingly starved for money.  They're just pushed to the side by society.

In exchange for help they would have to give up their right to own weapons, and would be subject to frequent random inspection of their residences and belongings to confirm they remain unarmed.  Anything we could do to assist them would no doubt be appreciated by them and even more so by their families who are desperate for help, and would make us all safer, too.  Not just feel safer, but actually be safer.  Win / win. 

If we won't even honor "Thou shall not kill", what chance does another photo-op bill signing in Washington DC have?

S



Monday, December 17, 2012

Payback is HELL!


Are any of you familiar with the internet "hacktivist" group Anonymous?  It's a loose-knit group of computer geniuses who hack into all kinds of sites and just scramble things beyond belief.  They seem to have an anarchist's agenda.  Several of their "members" (you can't actually join Anonymous) are spending time in jail these days as "the establishment" apparently has no sense of humor.   For once, however, they've done something that would prompt most of us....me for sure....to say KUDOS!

Some background:  Westboro Baptist Church (I don't know how they could possibly qualify as a "church") is the one based in Topeka, KS who sends it's members to picket and protest at the funerals of our servicemen and women and others who they say are dead because it's God's way of getting even with us for not lynching persecuting homosexuals, or some such nonsense.  IMO they are a full-blown hate group of the worst order.

Westboro Baptist Church....meet Anonymous.  According to news reports, "After the haters from the infamous church posted their intentions to picket the funerals of the twenty children killed in the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Anonymous responded [after hacking into their files] by re-posting the personal and professional information (names, addresses, phone numbers) of the members of the church on the internet."

Anonymous has publically put them on notice...."We will destroy you.  We are coming."


Thanks Anonymous.  I'll leave some cookies and milk out for you.  :)


S



Sunday, December 16, 2012

Now THAT'S going to put a crimp in Christmas!

Our local news just reported the Irving, TX fire department is responding to a 2-alarm fire at a FedEx shipping facility there.  Ouch!  So much for that whiz-bang new toy, the last one on the shelf, that Grandma was sending her favorite grandson.
  

Do you think maybe....could it be possible....?

S



Saturday, December 15, 2012

"Meaningful action"


Pure evil has raised it's ugly head again and this time taken from us 27 people, 20 of them innocent little children.  We're all in shock.  We're mad.  We feel helpless to do anything, but at the same time we're determined to do something.  The President says we must take "meaningful action".  I concur.  Here's where it gets tricky.  Do what?  

The logical first suggestion is "gun control".  I don't understand what that means.  What exactly constitutes "gun control"?  Does it mean everyone who owns a gun must register it, listing themselves the owner of 1 or 2 or more guns, make X and model Y?  How will that prevent any more massacres?  Have you noticed that in many of these horrible shootings the shooter takes his own life, too?  A person could somehow lose his mind and then use his legal firearm to kill many others plus himself. And of course there is a HUGE black market in stolen guns.  This seems like it would be a huge exercise in futility.

What about just outlawing guns, with a very few exceptions?  Everyone just turn in their guns, where they would be permanently destroyed?  How would that be enforced?  After the turn-in date would the police go door-to-door looking for guns?  The obvious problem....we don't have enough police now, much less enough to take on this additional role.

In this scenario you'd probably get good response from law abiding citizens, but certainly not from the criminal element.  By definition they don't obey laws.  Why should they obey this one?  I think it fair to say you will NEVER be able to get all guns, or even most guns, off the street.  Again, a huge exercise in futility.

Why not try this:  Instead of trying to scrutinize all 300,000,000+ Americans, why not concentrate on the few million who have done something to indicate they are troubled or have already committed a crime?  Every time a restraining order is issued against someone for cause, their name should INSTANTLY go on the FBI list that precludes them from buying a gun (legally).  Any time a person is committed to a hospital for serious, dangerous mental issues, their name would INSTANTLY go on that same list.  And in both cases, a search warrant would be issued INSTANTLY requiring police to search that person's residence/belongings and confiscate any firearms found. 

And for anyone found selling guns on the black market, they would be sent to the most horrible of all prisons....an old fashioned rock-busting, brutal, hellish prison.  And if it could be proven that a gun they sold illegally was used to take a life, then they would be held as complicit as the shooter, and subject to the same penalties.  (Life in prison/ no parole or even capital punishment.)

This would take an extreme effort to pull off, and it would be expensive.  But it would be "meaningful action", and it just might work.  Meanwhile, since it has become evident that law abiding people are to a large extent responsible for their own safety, they could still possess the means to protect themselves.

There honestly aren't any easy answers, but as the President has said, we must do something.

S



Friday, December 14, 2012

Our wedding day, December 14, 2006

This time of year most people are laser-focused on the holidays, but at the Lowandslow household we have something a bit more personal to celebrate, too.  It was six years ago today that K and I said our "I-do's".  And like 'ol Blue Eyes sang, "We did it our way".

K and I met by extreme chance online back in Ought Six.  That's when I signed up for my free Journal Space account.  Not really understanding what I had, I started surfing it to take a look around.  That's where I saw a picture posted by dkmcb (male? female?) of a dandelion.  dkmcb asked what it was as they were coming up all over dkmcb's yard.  I answered and told said person how to control them.  (Yes, "Better living through chemistry".)

A few days later I found another post by dkmcb saying a painting project was planned and asking how to keep brush marks from showing in fresh enamel?  I answered that, too.  (Penetrol)  Said dkmcb contacted me asking how I knew these things?  (As a homeowner for 30+ years I'd pretty much seen it all.)

Think about it....if I'd logged on to Journal Space a few seconds earlier or later I probably would not have seen dkmcb's dandelion photo.  Now THAT'S fate!

Correspondence revealed dkmcb was a female from near Ft. Worth, Texas, temporarily trapped in the frozen north of Minnesnowta, her move back south approaching.   We became "smit" through JS.  It soon became obvious to us both there was "something" there.

Fast forward to autumn 2006.  We were together by then, and as patience had never been a virtue either of us possessed, we decided to make "us" permanent.  Both of us are very private people uncomfortable being the center of attention.  Hoping friends and family would understand, we decided to just take off for a romantic destination and get married.

Finalists were picturesque places near Jackson Hole, WY and Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA.  Turns out that by our chosen date, December 14, the Jackson Hole destination was closed for the winter, but further research showed Carmel would be perfect.

K-the-online-shopper found our hotel....The Tickle Pink Inn.  Huh?  "That sounds like some kind of sleazy 'No-Tell Motel'".  (Turns out the original property was owned by the Tickle family.)  We flew into San Francisco, picked up our rental chariot for the week (a mighty Ford Taurus), and headed south to the Monterrey Peninsula.

Once we found the semi-hidden turnoff and climbed the long winding road up to the top of the hill, we found the Tickle Pink Inn to be truly special.  WOW!  What a view!  (See it here if you like.)  Our very nice room had an intimate balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  We spent many hours sitting out there listening to the waves crashing on the rocks below.  We'd even leave the sliding door open a little at night to hear it then, too.  It was the perfect "white noise" to go to sleep to.  The staff was gracious, our room service breakfast delicious, and the evening "wine and cheese socials" were nice, too.

We took day trips down the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur and the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, and of course enjoyed all the sights in/around Pebble Beach.  We found several quaint little cafes where we'd sit for hours at sidewalk tables eating and drinking....so nice!  

And Carmel-by-the-Sea....what a story-book place!  (This was the town where Clint Eastwood was mayor, before he took to talking to empty chairs. :)  The town was all decorated up beautifully for Christmas and the temps were comfortably cool but not really cold.  


And there was an entire area near downtown filled with whimsical little houses like these, much appreciated by an architecture aficionado like myself.

Our big day finally arrived.  We had an appointment with a non-denominational minister at "The Chapel in the Woods".  It turns out it was more like "The Building With Some Trees Around it Right Next Door to the Strip Shopping Center."  K saw it the day before when we made a dry run and was devastated.  I told her to find some place else....it was OK with me.  But the minister (a lady) seemed nice, so we (K) stuck with our original plan.  As things turned out the inside was decorated beautifully with lots of Christmas cheer.  All turned out well.

A funny moment:  As we were getting back in our car to leave the minister ran out yelling to us, "Oh Scott and Kelly....THANK YOU...THANK YOU...THANK YOU!!"  It seems the $100 gratuity she just found in her envelope over-and-above the normal fee was apparently not customary in California.

All things considered, it was a perfect, private ceremony, and a perfect way to launch a perfect new life with a perfect new mate. 



Six years later and things just get better and better.  Life is very good!  I love you K.  Happy Anniversary.  :)

S