Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy 18th Dating Anniversary to my Wife

We kissed upon that New Year’s Eve
So many years ago
The holiday was fake
but still true love was sure to grow

And grow it did from small to big
And then it didn't stop
Until it filled up both our lives
and sealed with a rock (ring)

Now here we are with kids and cars
and life in both our names
Working hard to do our part
with little time for games

But in our bed and in my head
you remind me why we both have said
That with these rings we do thee wed
Til death do part, our hearts are fed

I love you dear, this much is true
Though ups and downs may come
Life is grand because of you
Together til it's done.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Firearm Philosophies

There has been quite a bit of discussion lately regarding the topic of gun ownership and legality.  Both sides of the aisle have been trying to make their voice heard, and are using current events to support their cause.

As for me, my dad was a cop for 23+ years, so I grew up around guns.  He wasn't a nut about them or anything though - he mainly had his service revolver and one or two others, that I was aware of anyway.  They were a familiar sight to me, not only because he wore one when coming and going to work, but also because he usually wore a concealed weapon anytime we left the house.  I also watched him clean them once in a while, after he used them for practicing at the range.

So guns have never been a big deal to me.  My dad sternly taught me to respect them, but also to accept them.  When I was old enough and physically able to operate his service weapon (at the time it was a Smith and Wesson .38 revolver), he unloaded it, let me hold it, then showed me how to operate it.  After that I will never forget what he told me "You are never to fucking touch my guns on your own.  Never." "However, if you do ever want to look at them or touch them, then you just tell me and I'll pull them out for you."  Problem solved.  Even as curious as I was about most things, once I knew that I could access them whenever I wanted to (under his supervision), I never really felt much of a need to.

Now my dad is gone and I'm an adult with kids of my own.  I ended up inheriting a few of his weapons when he passed away, but have never purchased any of my own (although I've thought about it).  I don't have a permit to carry one, and I don't see a great need to either.  As with purchasing one though, I have given it serious consideration.

All of the recent discussions have caused me to ponder the perspective of both sides of the political spectrum.  Why don't liberals feel a need to protect themselves at all?  Why don't I feel the need to take that next step to purchase another one and/or carry it on me?  What would the world look like if gun purchases were banned altogether?  Didn't most men carry them once upon a time, in the days of the wild wild West?  How did we move away from that?  Can the same principals that moved us away from that be applied to today's society, and if so then to what effect?  And on, and on...

The more thought I gave it, the more I thought that maybe I could sufficiently summarize the main differences between people who support using guns and those who support banning them.  This is what I believe to be each of their perspective (told from a first person narrative):

Gun rights advocates believe in preparation and prevention:
Even if I never run into a person who will threaten my life and/or my family, I absolutely do not want to be a victim, and I believe that if the situation arose that I would need to protect myself or my family, then carrying or owning a gun will help tremendously to do so.

I don't necessarily dislike or distrust the government, but I want to rely on them as little as possible.  The more self sufficient that I'm able to be, the better.  As such, I want to be able to protect myself (not depend on the police to be there when I need them), provide for myself (be able to kill food, if necessary), and prevent those in power from over extending their boundaries into my own rights and privacy.  No, I don't expect to ever need to use my guns against the government, but the mere fact that so many law abiding citizens own them helps to prevent the authorities from ever considering over-extending or abusing their power.

I don't know when or if the civilized world is coming to an end.  It might be next week, or the next decade, or in the next generation.  But I want to be ready for it, when or if it ever comes.

In short, I will do my best to prevent myself from ever being caught unprepared, or with my pants down, so to speak.

Gun control advocates prefer relegation and passivity:
First of all, I've never owned or used a gun, so frankly they freak me out and/or scare the crap out of me.  Sure, I've seen them used in movies, but I don't want to further promote or explore this dark sides of humanity.

I don't really think that anyone will ever threaten me such that I would need a weapon.either.  Or, if such a threatening situation were to arise then I would rather run, submit, or surrender (myself, my money, whatever they ask) than to fight back and risk getting hurt.  I think these options (running, submitting, or surrendering) will always prove to be sufficient enough methods that I can use them to avoid any harm to myself or my family. I would rather risk the odds of being attacked (which seem infinitely slim), than risk having an accident with firearms, especially if my children were involved.

The world already has too much violence, and by learning to defend myself I am only increasing the level of violence that exists and also increasing the likelihood that I would have to use it.  Speaking of using it, whenever a firearm is used, whether for attacking or defending, someone is likely to get killed.  If I choose instead to just give them (whoever) what they want, then everyone lives and we're all better off that way.

Yes, I mostly trust law abiding citizens to own guns, but I trust the government much more.  In fact, those employed by the government are must more likely to make the right decisions with guns, because (a) they make the laws regarding them and (b) they are much more highly trained on how or when to use them (weapons).

Our society is stable enough and its people civilized enough to survive any doomsday scenario that we will realistically encounter (seriously, zombies?).  Preparing for society's collapse is therefore a waste of time and money, and those who do so look like paranoid rednecks.

My current position , practices, and ponderings:
I doubt I will ever realistically run into a person who will threaten my life and/or my family.  In fact, I'm certain that the odds are highly in my favor.  But I don't want to ever be a victim either, and I believe that if the situation arose that I would need to protect myself or my family, then carrying or owning a gun will tremendously help to do so.  That being the case, why don't I carry though, so that I can be prepared enough just in case the situation ever arises?  The only answers I have is that (a) it takes a considerable amount of effort and cost, (b) even though I observed this practice with my dad, it's still completely unfamiliar to me, and (c) can't imagine it's comfortable to carry (heavy, bulky), and the places to hide them (ankle, shoulder) seem completely unrealistic when doing anything except wearing a full suit and standing completely still.

I don't think that our government will ever actually try to increase its power to the extent that they would restrict our rights enough to warrant a possible uprising.  And accordingly, I don't think the American people will ever need to utilize our weapons to rise up against it.  But is it really a bad thing to be in such a position that we (citizens) could do so?  In other words, just because we trust the government to usually do the right thing doesn't mean that we always will, or that it always will either.  So why not be prepared accordingly?  Doesn't having an armed citizen militia help prevent the government from considering expanding its power beyond what it should?

I'm not a doomsday prepper.  I don't have a stock pile of anything.  Not food, not water, not a bunker, and not ammunition either (just a little left over from my dad).  I honestly don't believe that these preparations would ever be utilized or necessary.  But I can't help to sometimes feel a little short sighted when I hear, read, or talk to someone who is prepared for whatever the future may hold.  While it may seem a bit odd and paranoid, is it ever a bad thing to be overly prepared?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mental Illness, or Something Else?

There are a lot of questions that arise from an incident like today's shooting in Connecticut.  The biggest ones are very naturally "Why?" and "What went wrong in a person to cause them to do such a thing?"

I've seen "mental illness" used a lot today as a possible answer.  I recognize that mental illness exists, and that chemical imbalances are sometimes present in the human brain, and that modern medicine can sometimes help to correct these imbalances.  So let me start there, by saying that I'm not discounting the existence of such things, I recognize that our culture discourages talking about it and seeking help, and I'm not eliminating medicine as a solution either.

But what about "normal" negative emotions, even when they're intense?  Do these emotions all arise from mental illness: anger, hate, frustration, bitterness, jealousy, disappointment, anguish?  If not, then where do they come from, and what purpose do they serve? Are they ever constructive or useful?

What about these emotions: love, peace, happiness, contentment, joy?  Are these normal, or are they caused by a faulty chemical imbalance?  If we believe that a normal range of emotions is not caused by mental illness, but are the product of a correctly functioning mind, then are they beneficial or can they be distracting at best, and destructive at worst?  Put another way, do they usually help us to be productive or cause us to act foolishly and then make mistakes in our decisions (even the good emotions, when in excess)?

Now, if they seem "normal", but by and large they cause us to not think clearly and act logically, then can they be caused by evolution?  Why or how?  The desire to mate/procreate certainly seems logical for promoting and continuing the human species, but why emotions?


Here is the point to asking all of these questions - I believe that the presence of emotions and the wide range in which they are exhibited helps to demonstrate the presence of a "soul" in humans.

Now, if we as humans have a soul, then that could very well mean that there is a dimension of life that is spiritual in nature, but we cannot see.  Not only do I believe such a realm exists, but I think most if not all of us have been made innately aware that there is at least one being who is present in it, who is responsible for providing these positive emotions - God.

If we can easily look at our positive emotions and credit them as being generated by a God who most people can easily understand and believe to be good, then where do the negative emotions come from?


Here is the main point:  So many people have no problem whatsoever agreeing with the concept of God, and even "guardian angels".  If you can fathom the existence of a soul though, and we can agree that a spiritual dimension to life exists, and there is a positive aspect to it (God) - then why must we discount any and all evidence of evil around us as "mental illness", instead of at least considering the possibility that an instigator of evil could possibly exist?

And finally, if any or all of this makes sense, and you're willing to consider that there is a negative spiritual influence that could be causing the negative emotions that we not only see around us, but also feel in our own heart and mind to some extent (hate, anger, jealousy, bitterness, etc), then I would encourage you to read and consider what the Bible has to say about them. This could be a good start (see link).

Gun Control Laws in the Face of Tragedy

I know incidents like today's in Connecticut seem to make it clear that we need to reduce or eliminate the ability to purchase guns, that we "need better gun control laws". I understand why people would think that, and I wish it would work too. But unfortunately I don't think it will, and here is a well written article that explains why better than I can:

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Probation and Parkour (Dreaming)

I had an odd dream last night (12/4/2012):

I was riding as a passenger in a metallic green Chevy Impala with 20 - 22" rims (similar to the picture above).  The driver engaged the hydraulic suspension so that the front of the car was as high as possible, while the rear was as low as it could go.  The angle of our seats now made it difficult or impossible to see the road, except he had another windshield under our feet that allowed us to look through the floor at the road ahead of us.

For some reason we got pulled over (the driver had guns or drugs or something) and then arrested.  Since the reason we were arrested was primarily the driver's fault, I was only on probation, but also on constant watch by a probation officer whenever I left my house.

The gentleman who was watching me was an older guy (like me I guess), but you could tell he was tough as nails.  I told him I was going to get some exercise, to which he approved (since he thought he would have no problem keeping up).  After running for a bit and ending up in a stadium of some sort, I started to perform a bunch of parkour maneuvers, leaping over and under and around things.  Needless to say, the other chap couldn't hang with me and I had a few moments of freedom from my probation babysitter.

Then I woke up.

I should add that I've never tried parkour (although I would love to), and that I really have no idea how probation works or if there is any variety where you are actually watched by someone like that.  It was just a weird dream.

Employment Entitlements

This is from a response I made to a friend's brother on Facebook, but I thought it might be worth saving, so I copied it here (with minor changes).

Here is the problem with today's employment and income expectations for people like those striking at Wal-Mart or at Hostess (who caused the company to close their business). Somehow it has been determined in their mind that any company that chooses to hire them should be required to pay every single one of its employees sufficient income to provide for a family. Oh, and the working conditions must be on their own terms, not the employers.

But since the beginning of time, people have had to work to get to the point where they can provide for their family. They have either had to learn a skill or a trade (such as a blacksmith, or a woodworker), get an education (a scribe or an architect), or perform manual labor (a farmer or a general laborer). Another option would be that they pursue a career that has high risk, such as a sheriff, soldier, knight, etc. Or, they can take a different kind of risk by starting their own business, in which case they have to invest a lot of money and often sacrifice most of their life (excessively long work days) for many months or years to make their business aspirations come to fruition. It has been this way for generations upon generations, probably as long as organized civilizations (cities, towns, etc) existed.

But now, all of a sudden, people are seeking employment anywhere they can find it without bothering to pursue anything that would make them employable or desirable in the free market exchange.  Then, once in that job (one that any high schooler or even a drop out can perform), they complain about their employer, their income, their benefits, and anything else they can think of to whine about. And they insist that they should be able to make a living in this occupation, that they should be able to "support their families".

If you are in a position that requires none of the previously mentioned qualifications though (trade skill, education, labor, bravado/risk, or financial risk/sacrifice), then you have no business requesting ANYTHING from your employer, except perhaps receiving the agreed upon wages when you were hired and safety from harm. Your only focus should be to (a) work hard, and (b) be thankful for the job you have while or until you can pursue something that makes you valuable enough to be more competitive in the free market economy that we live in.
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