It is not ideal but it can be pretty #Photo #Wildlife


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I am not the biggest fan of living in a urban-wild interface. Having experienced the horrors of wildfires in the city limits, akin to what is happening in Alberta now, I think that fewer people should live in such places. It isn’t very safe or ideal in the long run.

But it is a fact of life that here in Colorado we live in that interface. We can see wildlife every day. And it can be fun and pretty to experience these sights. Like this fawn from our Westside deer herd I walked past on my morning walk. They are not tame per se, they will run when we get too close. But occasionally they will stop close enough for me to get a good shot. This one was awfully cute, with its shaggy winter coat just starting to wear off.

These morning walks are reminding me how nice it can be to walk around our neighborhood. There are so many beautiful views to enjoy. As the sun is rising and hitting the mountains. Just another reason to get out and walk every day.

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A plea to my friends & family #Politics


I remember the early days of FB. I remember the 2008 election. And the years after on FB, when I was willing to engage in day-long battles over whatever political fight seemed worth it. It took me a while but I learned my lesson. I lost a couple of friends that way. Not anyone long term, but still friends. I learned to keep my politics of FB for the most part. And out of my blog, again, for the most part.

Occasionally, however, something comes up that I think merits a word here. Something particularly egregious or terrible, or uplifting might come to my attention and I think it deserves discussion. Well, today I am going to bring one of those up. If you would rather not read it, or think about it, then do not go below the fold.

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I’m just spitballing here #Parenting #Politics


Just a couple of thoughts to talk about today, not any fully formed ideas.

Watching your child struggle, and knowing that there is really nothing you can do to fix it that won’t hurt them more in the long run, is really the toughest obstacle I have had to face as a parent. It is one thing for them to be sick, you can comfort them. Or if they just don’t want to or have a hard time figuring out how to do something fun like riding a bike. But when it is a character issue, they have dug themselves a hole, and have to get themselves out of it, and are having trouble with that, it is really painful. You just have to hang in, and watch them struggle.

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I have not talked too much about the election because there is no point. I have figured out over the last 8 years that there is no way that I will change the opinion of those who disagree with me. And I end up preaching to the choir or fighting a battle with no chance of victory for either side.

But I cannot help but feel more than a little sense of satisfaction in watching the rise of an autocrat to the leadership of the party whose sole policy for the last 7 years has been a nihilistic mindless opposition. When what amounts to policy is opposition to any government intervention at all is it any surprise that your candidates act as if the government is the disease and they are the cure. And when you celebrate a Court Case that equates money with speech, you cannot get upset when a billionaire whose sole claim to fame is his name can rise to power by freely spending his money.

Let’s just capture and continue this excitement #Kids


I picked Jimmy up from wrestling practice last night. And after some talk about wrestling I asked him how school went.

“It was great, the group was small, I asked a lot of questions to make sure I understood things. This is the most excited I have been about school since Elementary school!”

What can you say in the face of that? Hooray! Grin happily and pat him on the back and then hope it continues.

Of course now I I sit here, after the usual struggle to get Danny to school (he is fighting a cold, and it doesn’t take much for him to not want to go to school anyway.) And I think about what I could do, or what could be done in general to bottle that excitement Jimmy felt.

And I of course did my pondering about what I would do if my Powerball ticket was the winner. To be honest, if that happened I think my egalitarian support for the public school system would come to an end. I would probably put all the kids in my alma mater (provided there was a way for Jimmy to keep wrestling somewhere.) Not because the schools that the kids are in are bad, they are really quite good, and I am happy with their education for the most part.

But because I think that our current system fails to excite children. And I think the biggest reason it fails to do so is in that message that Jimmy said last night. Large schools and especially large classes are the bane of our education system in my opinion.

If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing about our culture it would be the amount of respect and care given to our public education system. Kids should be excited to learn. And teachers should be excited to teach. And teachers should be a respected and well paid profession, not an afterthought. And no amount of work and personal availability on my part as a parent will bring about that change. And even if I turned around and gave my entire Powerball earning to the School District that wouldn’t change. Thus I could easily see devoting my personal resources to helping my kids first & foremost. And then maybe doing what I could to alter the conversation on a wider basis.

Well it is fun to talk about the what if’s of something like winning that obscene amount of money. But the most important thing is that for now Jimmy is excited again. It is sad that the past year or 2 had beaten that out of him. But I will take it. And move forward. And think about Danny’s choices next year.

It is funny what kids can do to your politics. Before I had my kids I was actually far more conservative and cynical. It was having kids and realizing everything that was part of raising kids that shifted my views radically. I know that for some people it goes the opposite way (which I don’t understand.) But that is me and where I come from.

 

Seeking some clarity on the #Guncontrol issue


The only one of my conservative friends to challenge my views on FB has me talking in circles so I thought I would take a minute to go over this. And I will reserve a few lines for a thought experiment.

My overall goal is to reduce gun violence in this country. That means mass shootings, murders, assaults, suicides and accidental gun deaths. All of those are things that I think we would all as a society like to see reduced. Now will the four points I suggested last week reduce all of those? Yes and no.

Having a better, national background check system that involves tracking all gun purchases regardless of source will help reduce, and at a minimum, the crime issues and likely some suicides. Allowing scientists to study gun violence will allow us to develop sensible policies that will hopefully help reduce accidents as well as help policing crime. Making the manufacturers and sellers liable for what is done with their products will also help all of the above issues. And last, increasing the cost of ammunition will reduce the supply, which might have some effect on all of the issues.

That being said, for the immediate effect, I would favor returning to the Assault weapon ban that was lifted in 2005. There is clear evidence that the number of mass shootings has increased dramatically since that ban was lifted by George II.

If we look from September 2004 all the way back to 1900 (104 years), as the Washington Post lays out, there were 118 mass shootings. That breaks down to 1.13 mass shooting incidents per year, on average, from 1900 to 2004. In the eight years since the Assault Weapons Ban has expired, there have been 28 mass shooting events. That equals an average of 3.5 a year—an increase of over 200 percent. That is a startling jump, by any measure.

I just did not talk about the assault weapon ban last week because I know that talking about banning things, especially guns, is a bigger step. Do we know it works? Yes. In fact if we go a step farther you have the experience of Australia for comparison. But there are enough people on the fence that will accept a common sense restriction, but not any ban so I left it out as a possible solution.

Speaking of semantics, I saw a clever post yesterday somewhere and it is a great thought experiment. The moment anyone starts talking about banning a group of people for whatever reason, be it religion, ethnicity, etc. do the following. Replace that groups name with the word ‘Jews’. If the phrase makes sense, than you have just placed that person speech or writings on a par with Nazi’s and Hitler. This is not a case of Godwin’s Law. This is just a case of thinking through what is being said.

So the next time a candidate talks about banning the immigration of a religious or ethnic group realize that what he or she is calling for is no different from the policies of the Nazis. And make your choice as far as following that person or supporting them politically go from there.

For those of you who wonder #Guncontrol #Politics


I do my best to not get wrapped up in politics, and things I cannot control. I know it is a recipe for problems for me, given my depressive ocd personality. As a result I have done my best to minimize my rants, and political posts. And resisted arguments online. But this week triggered something in me (pun intended.)

And in the interests of full disclosure I thought I should explain why gun control is my big issue. So here it is.

  1. I have had 3 friends and acquaintances kill themselves, using guns. I have not dug deep into the details of these events out of respect for survivors. But what I do know, is that if they did not have that firearm in the house, maybe they are still alive. I know this because I have some idea of what they were feeling, and ready access combined with dark thoughts is a terrible combination.
  2. I have a friend in prison because of that terrible combination. He made a horrible, deadly decision. And had he not had easy access to that gun, maybe a child would still be alive today.
  3. I have 3 young children (well not so young, one is a teenager.) And while some people get more conservative when they have kids I went the other way. I became instantly more concerned about the world around me when I had kids. Issues like safety mean much more to me now than they once did. And I do not think any child should have to grow up in a world where they have to look over their shoulder wherever they go, and practice active shooter drills at school. I was in that sweet spot when I just avoided duck and cover drills at school, but I do remember the bomb alarms getting tested in my town every week. And I can tell you that growing up in fear sucks.
  4. Last, I think this is a simple matter of logic. If you look at the issue logically, society’s safety should be more important than individual freedom.

There you have it. And I will no longer remain silent on this subject. And anyone who does not care to hear about it can cease following me, unfollow me on Twitter, unfriend me on Facebook, that is your choice.

Two more important points to bring up that occurred to me last night.

First, Gun Control what does it mean? Guess what, this does not mean that the government is coming to take away your guns. It does not mean you cannot own a gun, unless you are a convicted felon, domestic abuser, mentally ill. If you have a clean background, and present no danger to yourself or the public at large, you can have your gun. Please get that through your heads, Gun Control advocates are not going to take your guns away!

Second, I keep reading and hearing that these killers (which is what they are, they are not ‘shooters’ they are killers or murderers) bought their guns and other items legally. What does this matter? If I get drunk and kill someone with my car I bought that car and booze legally, it doesn’t make what I did any less horrific. All it really does it highlight the problem with the gun laws in this country.

Third point (yeah I said two, but I have to mention this.) If the San Bernadino killers ended up doing this for political reasons that doesn’t change the gun issue. In fact it just highlights the problem. That being on the terror watch list does not mean you cannot pass a background check in this country. The background check system and all of it’s loopholes are as bad as the tax codes. Clean it up, make it national, remove the loopholes, and then everyone who worries about terrorism will have a leg to stand on.