Monday, January 25, 2010

Master of the Sith and ultimate coolness

Tangible discourse with teenage boys is a difficult thing to achieve in the best of times. But as I listened to the video game gun and laser fire coming from the upstairs family room last Saturday mingling with the cacophonous strains of an electric guitar I didn’t even try to tell them to turn the volume down. A few hours earlier as the stream of teenagers raced upstairs carrying everything from sleeping bags, stacks of video games, and the ubiquitous snack food items I had accidentally overheard one of the boys say that Darth Spoilboy, my son, had the “cool dad.” Being that none in the small group heading upstairs openly disagreed or laughed made my day.
How such a title had come my way was a little beyond my understanding since I had never allowed much in the way of outrageous behavior and in fact had shut the breaker off one time to the family room after repeated yells for the guys to tone things down were ignored. Never the less I did take a sort of sanctimonious pride in hearing that I had been award such a title as compared to the other nearby dads who are far more conventional or, dare I say, boring being caught up in the near Stalinist conformity and regimented lifestyle of Southern suburbia.
While other dads are willingly tied down by indentured servitude to manicured lawns forever demanding more and expensive fertilizers and maintenance equipment I shrug off such bourgeois mindsets and do my best to let my lawn grow wild and free. I refuse to be condemned to mindless serfdom, forever tied to a tiny piece of land praying to the gods of mortgage brokers and real estate that my piece of the pallid and stale American Dream never declines in value. Only my lovely and charming wife forces me at least twice a summer to trim the curb and pick up the limbs from our trees that have fallen off. As for the leaves that fall from the trees during autumn I let my ally the wind blow them happily down the street and into other people yards. After all the anal retentive ones with the high tech riding lawnmowers with the super suction vacuum attachments might as well have the chance to enjoy their toys even more.
As much as it might irritate those around me I revel in my non-conformity happily embracing the liberal/tree hugging/anti-capitalist/gay marriage supporting mantle declaring my opposition to those for whom Rush “Oxycontin addicted lard ass” Limbaugh and Glenn “ insane corporate lackey” Beck are intellectual heroes. On more than a few occasions I have walked past such people and heard them whisper, “Yeah, he’s a liberal, and he was in the military, I wonder how he could have gone so bad.”
So why does this make me the “cool dad”? Because I believe the younger generation understands that the residual traits from an even earlier period, which today are called modern political Conservatism, are the dying embers of a fading fire flaring up one last time before the more tolerant and progressive younger generation and simple demographics assign them to the dustbin of history.
Never the less as Saturday went on I did have to run interference for the various young Sith Lords saving or maybe enslaving the galaxy. My daughter, Miss Wiggles, had a few friends of hers over and they took an interest in what the boys were doing upstairs. Several times I had to pull the girls out after they snuck up to where the boys were and tried to stage a coup by grabbing the controllers for the X-Box360 wanting to play the games themselves.
Only using the ultimate, urbane coolness of the “Cool Dad” was I able to play the peacemaker separating the two groups and restoring balance to the house. Well, ultimate coolness and the fact that I agreed to play tea party with them, complete with me wearing a seriously floppy hat, plastic jewelry, and day-glo pink feather boa. I drew the line at the matching pink tutu, even though I was shocked that my daughter had one I could even wear. Oh yeah, any pictures that might surface of me attending such an event dressed in floppy hat, plastic jewelry, or feather boa are pure fabrications created on the computer by my enemies….or my wife.
However the day was climaxed late in the evening when I decided to go to bed early. Nothing was on television that I wanted to see, the boys were in full swing with their activities, Miss Wiggles was in bed and I figured I would read until I dozed off. Though sometime after 11:00pm I was awakened by voices in my room.
“Dad?” I heard my son say in the darkness next to me.
“What’s up dudes?” I responded using the ultimate coolness lingo to him and his cohorts lingering in the background. Now I was a little worried. The last time my son had woke me up on a weekend while he had friends over was when he had broken the two month old 40” high-definition LCD by banging into it with the controller from his last X-Box360. That legendary calamity will be remembered alongside my wife turning the wrong way down a crowded one-way street in Washington DC, me gouging a four-inch strip on the bumper of the brand new Corolla by bringing the garage door down too early, and Miss Wiggles taking a bottle of red hair dye to the dog.
“Dad, someone coming to the door in a few minutes, can you let him in? We’re in the middle of an important part of the game.” My loyal son said with such earnest. But I was tired and didn’t want to be disturbed. So what did these fine examples of young men do? They all grabbed my feet and arms and bodily lifted me out of the bed carrying me to the couch. Only such a Cool Dad would receive such treatment and I was honored, except for the part when the tossed me the last couple of feet. However, when duties calls I have always been one to answer.
I didn’t really have to ask about, or wait very long for, the person they wanted me to let in. I saw the pizza guy coming up the steps and intercepted him before he had a chance to knock or ring the doorbell alerting the boys. This wasn’t the first time for such an occurrence, last summer the boys had ordered food without telling me and its wasn’t until I had an irritated delivery guy on my doorstep demanding money for the six pizzas he was holding did I know anything about it.
This time it was only two large pizzas and a couple of sodas, which I paid for and then hid after grabbing three slices for myself. Being caught up in the game it was a good while before the boys realized they should have long since received their pizzas.
They apparently suspended their efforts to save or enslave the galaxy and raucous guitar playing long enough to come down in mass searching for their delivered booty. Shock flashed across their faces as they saw me finishing the last of my three slices and gulping down their precious soda.
“Dad, when did the pizza guy come?” My Sith Lord son Darth Spoilboy asked. I actually heard a few grumbles from his friends who over the years I had given Sith titles to as well. Which is something they thought was a laugh riot.
“Oh, almost an hour ago,” I said smiling knowing what I was going to make them do for pulling the pizza trick again.
They didn’t like it but I made them bow down and declare their allegiance to the ultimate master of the Sith, Darth Cooldad, and to forever abandon all attempts to order pizza unless I have a chance to add to my own pizza to the purchase. After they all agreed and I received the tribute of another slice and more soda I then released my young Sith apprentices and started watching Saturday Night Live and reveling in my greatness and power.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Late night health care musings

The professional practice of politics to me is a putrid affair best left to those gifted examples of humanity who can do something even more fantastic that walk and chew bubble gum at the same time and that is to kiss someone’s ass while stabbing them in the back. Has politics in general and American politics specifically always been such inherently diabolical statement on human nature?

I honestly feel it has except that for most of our history the federal government was never was such a direct influence on our lives as it is today. While I’m no expert on history I have read enough that back in the day the federal government was at best some far away place that was spoken along the same lines as some mythical kingdom full of fantastic and strange people and incredible places. In this long ago and lost time the main concerns of most Americans were of working to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads to a far higher degree than we do in this time of relative plenty. I can imagine the greatest concern most people had about the federal government since its creation until say the early 1930’s was that the mail would be delivered in a timely fashion.

No matter how much many, including myself to a certain extent, might want to go back to a simpler time it just isn’t going to happened. The United States is a far more complex place requiring the government to expand its scope of operation and regulation of many activities or entities that the framers of the Constitution just never could have imagined. The ideas of many Libertarians and conservative Republicans that our complex society could be handled strictly through the free market or through self regulation of these evolving entities is as delusional and wrong as the Communists who thought the almighty state could control everything.

This battle between the forces of free market anarchy and stifling control in the complex times we find ourselves living in has made American politics a far more polarizing affair. Various minions scramble to shape and spin complex issues into convenient sound bites so the masses whose attention span has been whittled away by such highlights of American culture like reality television and journalism that dwells on the latest antics of narcissistic celebrities can be carefully herded into the right direction. Not only lost in this shuffle but blatantly ridiculed by the polarizing forces is the truth about our society, its failings, and the understanding of what it will take to fix the things that need attention.

The point in my extremely long winded and rambling post is that after the debacle of the recent Massachusetts vote to fill the seat long held by Teddy Kennedy a completely different approach to health care reform will have to be taken. In my ever humble opinion the Democratic sausage makers residing the halls of congress have painted themselves into a corner. The loss of the 60 seat majority will allow the Republicans an orgasmic opportunity to filibuster the current complex and greatly deficient bill to death.

Not to sound partisan but fear monger acolytes of various special interest and business groups have twisted and turned the facts about the undeniable need to restructure our health care system. Many who would benefit from a fair reorganization are now willing to live with possible denial of coverage because of preexisting conditions and ever skyrocketing premiums over fears of the devil they don’t know as compared to the devil they do.

Long story short the tidal wave of the 2008 election that elected Barrack Obama president has been spent. And to be honest while he is doing his best the dynamic campaigner seems to have been replaced with an aloof and unemotional “Spock” who leaves far too much to the sausage making denizens on Capitol Hill. Joe Scarborough irritates the Hell out of me at times but on Wednesday morning while glowing in the victory of the Tea Bagger who won the Massachusetts senate seat he did say something I had to agree with despite how much it pissed me off. He said the president’s leadership in the health care debate has been extremely lacking and that previous presidents, he mentioned Johnson, would have long since forced an agreement.

The advantages the Democrats gained with the seats they gained in both 2006 and 2008 has been pissed away like a drunken sailor drinks away his paycheck with him waking up the next morning wondering where it all went. During this time the Republicans have reorganized and frankly ju-jitsu our asses. Whining and self defeating in-fighting by the Democrats will only keep us boxed and our options restricted. So what are we suppose to do now?

A Democratic "rope-a-dope" strategy is needed and I heard Mike Barnicle say something Wednesday morning that needs to be thought about.

While Joe Scarborough was smugly sitting across the table talking trash about the Democrats, some rightly so, Mike said that the Democrats need to drop the current bill and bring one up that only eliminates preexisting conditions and makes health insurance portable. Then defy the Republicans to vote against it.

Yes, it wouldn't have a public option but after this election disaster I say again I don't believe the current bill will pass. And using the senate nuclear option will, in my opinion, only blow up in the Democrats faces.

But back to Barnicle's suggestion, I would also add a segment removing the anti-trust protection from the health insurance companies. I’d like to see Republicans try to explain why the big boys making billions on the back of people while denying coverage and raising premiums need to be protected.

I figure we can continue or current fighting for something that will never pass or we can put the Republicans into a position that will force them to show where their loyalties really lay, the people or big corporations.

That's it I'm done with politics for awhile.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Echos from the frontier past

My gunner was fast asleep in the passenger seat of the humvee I was driving as the convoy leader in his vehicle began to slow down and lead the rest of the convoy off the pavement and stop on the side of the road. It was the middle-of-no-where southeastern Colorado in the last hour of daylight and I had been driving since the last rest stop outside Pueblo. After two hours at the wheel my knees were aching from sitting in the restricted confines of the two seat model of the military utility truck.
While the army had certainly bought an excellently designed and rugged vehicle for just about any terrain it might find itself operating in the humvee, for me, had one major engineering flaw. They did not take into consideration anyone taller than six-foot having to drive or ride in the vehicle for extended periods of time. While the driver seat could be adjusted somewhat it simply wasn’t enough to alleviate the cramped and awkward position someone my height had to deal with on such long trips. The passenger seat was even worse with no adjustments which was the reason my gunner, a kid named Pulaski from Wisconsin, was snoozing instead of driving himself.
The young lieutenant who was convoy leader quickly ran down the length of the trailing vehicles obviously just to stretch out his own legs. “Thirty minute rest stop,” he yelled along the way. Get water, eat, and take a piss but be ready to move out when I call.”
He didn’t have to tell me twice and I was out the vehicle before my gunner was fully awake. I had slapped the young kid hard on his Kevlar helmet to wake him up before opening the flimsy vinyl door and stepping outside. It was early February and a freezing wind was blowing damn near parallel to the state road we were driving on which would eventually bring us to our destination, the Pinion Canyon Maneuver site for a three week field exercise.
It was a terrific relief to be out the vehicle but as I stretched looking northward it was nothing but flat plains with a few rolling hills. The hard asphalt of the road stretched off into the distance either way, empty of any other travelers giving the impression that the road might be some forgotten relic of a lost time.
Clumps of dried brown grass waving in the wind and sinister looking scrub bushes with plenty of thorns in an otherwise barren landscape were the only evidence of any life that I could see. The sky was empty except for a few small clouds that were a dark golden hue as if the setting sun was roasting them. The only sound, besides the blowing wind whipping through the prairie grass, was the voices of my fellow soldiers enjoying the momentary break from the tedium of the long drive.
I didn’t see the ruined homestead until I went around to the other side of my vehicle. I don’t really know why I didn’t see it from the first, it may have been my initial desire just to get out and give my near throbbing knees a break or that my brain was scrambled due to the drone of the engine and the near absence of any sensory input on the road. But once I did notice it immediately fascinated me sitting all alone in the middle of that silent desolation.
It was a little over a hundred yards off the road and a few other soldiers in the convoy were already ambling in its direction. Unable to control my curiosity, and with no desire to try and communicate with the “white-boy rapper” from Wisconsin I was teamed with I began walking that way myself.
This being the beginning of a major field training exercise we had all been issued our rifles, and along with wearing our Loading Bearing Equipment around our chests and kevlars helmets on our heads, had to keep our weapons with us at all times. For the five guys and me walking toward the ruined homestead it lent a surreal air to our exploration as if we expected to be fired upon. Adding to the atmosphere was the crunching sounds of our footsteps on the pebbles and dried branches littered about the ground that had somehow broken off the thorny bushes in the area. Everything was just too still and except for the wind and our footsteps, too quiet.
The roof to the house had been destroyed sometime in the past exposing the inside to the elements but the four walls were still standing. We all were approaching the front of the house which was marked by a door way and a small, single window. Both were wood framed but whatever actual door and windowpanes that might have fitted in those spaces had long since been lost.
Right from the first, our small group scouting the area were wondering how old the place was, the house looked to be constructed of mud bricks and after we stepped inside the walls showed no evidence of any electrical outlets or wiring. The floor was packed stones or hard earth with weathered pieces of finished wood that may have come from the roof or abandoned furniture scattered about the floor. Once inside it became clear how small the house actually was with the total area being about that of a large modern living room.
“Jesus, my backyard storage shed is bigger than this place. I can’t believe people actually lived here.” One guy said whom if I remember right came from an upper middle class family somewhere in California.
“Nope, I bet this was a pioneer home,” the lieutenant, who was the convoy leader said coming in the doorway. “Probably ranchers, maybe sheep herders but I sure as Hell would bet they weren’t farmers. I don’t believe you could grow anything in this godforsaken area. I’d say this homestead dates from the mid to late nineteenth century although you might be surprised how many people lived like this well into the twentieth.”
I was quiet; through this exchange all I could think about was the utter desolation that was about the only defining characteristic of this area even now. The nearest town was about thirty miles behind us and from all I could see it consisted of a post office, a small store, and a couple of small homes. While certain aspects of such a life appeals to me even now I had enough empathy and prior knowledge to understand the Hell it might be to some.
A few years before I had joined the army I had watched a PBS documentary about life on the open prairie. The first part of the show delved deep into the early history of those pioneers who settled the plains. However, the most poignant segment dealt with life on the plains in the early years of national radio. The documentary explained starting in the late twenties all the way to the fifties various soap companies sponsored a sort of radio variety show that had everything from what we would describe as mini soap operas, comedy, music, recipe, and simple music segment among others. These shows became vital lifelines to lonely women living out on the plains for which any neighbors could far too distant to supply any real company or companionship. Many of these listeners would write extremely personal letters to the radio show personalities they only knew as voices coming from a small box describing the utter desolation and loneliness. Many letters read on the documentary spoke of regret for coming out west. Some were stories of mental, emotional, and physical abuse in a time when such things were never mentioned. Most though were just conversational letters written to the radio personalities by women who just didn’t have anyone they could talk with at all.
With the missing roof and just looking at the four standing walls I could imagine life confined to such a small area during the winter months. Even with a radio to provide a very tenuous link to the outside world such an existence would be Hell. Looking around the ruins we stood that may have predated the invention of radio it was even harder to fathom such a life.
Stepping out the opposite doorway to the rear of the property brought more in the way or evidence of human habitation. Some sort of framed construction was jutting two feet up from the ground that everyone took to be the final remnant of a windmill. The same could be said with a line of what remained of fence posts that stretched off in the distance. Scattered around were isolated pieces of rusted metal and broken wood that’s original purpose could only be guessed at.
“Holy shit!” I remember one of my buddies in the group saying that had drifted over to what could be described as either a pathetic example of a small tree or a large bush. “LT, come look at this,” we all immediately walked over to the other side of the small tree wondering what had been found.
Someone had used small rocks, now firmly embedded in the ground, to create three five-foot by two-foot outlines. At what I’ll guess was the head of the graves was a larger slab of stone, also partial buried, that had what appeared to be letters and numbers carved into them.
Soldiers are a lot of things but all of us upon realizing what we had found removed our helmets out of respect. It was a heartbreaking sight being next those forgotten people buried in such a deserted place but adding to it was that someone had, using the same type of material as the head stones, constructed a crude bench at the foot of the graves. The entire scene spoke of some tragedy with one person left behind who continued to pursue some sort of existence at the homestead. The lieutenant, feeling that some sort of words should be spoken in honor of these people tried to read the words carved on the head stones. But they had long since weathered away to point that even that small memorial was lost.
“Alright people, we’re about to lose the sun, time to move out,” the lieutenant said a few minutes later donning his helmet with the rest of us following quickly behind. We were loaded up and moving down again before long with my gunner now driving. In the passenger seat of the humvee my thoughts were still with those souls that had tried to scratch out an existence on this land only to become part of it and then forgotten.
I marvel at the determination that those people had to muster to attempt such thing. What circumstances could have possibly pushed them to such poor land on the frontier or, I wonder, did they even have a choice? Whatever the reasons they braved the hardships and while in this case appearing to have lost others succeeded and built this country.
Many today wrap themselves in the American flag and speak of how proud and brave they are except that they largely live safe and mundane existences living off the glory and past efforts of others. About the only thing that will anger Americans these days is having to deal with whatever trivial inconveniences the modern world throws our way. We have even fallen to the point that we will sacrifice each other as long we stay warm, healthy, and happy. But when a real challenge does present itself we all too often find reasons to ignore it, or push it off on others or blame somebody else.
That is not the characteristics of a great people. The type of people that built this nation lay in those three forgotten graves in a desolate part of Colorado. It is they who rightly deserve to be remembered.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haitian Disaster relief

“There are moments when, even to the sober eye of Reason, the world of our sad humanity must assume the aspect of Hell”
Edgar Allan Poe
Ignoring recent stupid and insensitive comments by Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh it is my sincerest hope that we Americans could set aside our petty and ridiculous differences long enough to help the people of Haiti in this darkest of times.
Despite our advantages many Americans have a talent for seeing the world only through their narrow perceptions of reality. We often overlook the struggles others face for the very basics of survival on a daily basis in the best of times. The reverse is also true in that we Americans can rally and move mountains to bring hope and comfort to those who have lost everything.
Here is a convenient link supplied by Google for two relief organizations. Unicef and Care

More charitable organizations from the Morning Joe website.
My personal donation I just gave was small but I plan on donating more as quickly as possible.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The true nature of human development and marriage

Truth be told most I have fairly recently come to realize that men are not only ignorant of the true nature of the demands of marriage but simply do not have the capacity to understand the details even when they are explained on a kindergarten level. Which begs the question how did men get this way?
Well in my opinion it probably started while our ancestors still lived in trees. In actuality I think it was the women evolving the bigger brains and they simply got tired of the persistently lazy guys swinging around enjoying the first true sport of throwing handfuls of poop at each other, like Howler monkeys do even now, and getting a buzz from eating overripe fruit. At some point the ladies rebelled and pushed us out of the trees demanding that we stop throwing poop and help with the babies. Men being as stupid as they are didn’t have the sense to climb back up in the tree at night and instead went off romping through the jungle. Given such clueless behavior, the first predator we chanced upon unimpressed with our poop throwing tactics would have quickly made us a light snack. Thankfully, the females climbed down looking for us and forced us into caves. That I believe was due less for their concern for the stupid, roving males and more for their love of living space with far more square-footage.
Now living in caves only postponed any solution to the original problem. Instead of being lazy and shiftless in trees, our primitive ancestors were being lazy and shiftless on the ground. But at least we guys were not throwing poop anymore, which the ladies saw as a small improvement, and by the time fire and spears were invented the females could just send us off to hunt.
Of course advancement eventually had our species move into houses but while you may be able to take the monkey out of the trees he is still a lazy bum. Because instead of sending us guys out to hunt we now bought our food from grocery stores allowing us to stay home and watch our new favorite sports of football, baseball, ladies beach volleyball, and bass fishing tournaments while drinking beer all day. Given the lack of poop splatter and smell to contend with you would think the females would be happy but the ease and convenience of our new civilized behavior exacerbated our old issues. After centuries of dealing with the shiftless hordes the ladies had finally had enough and decided that action must be taken. Luckily, for us guys at least a small number of them felt that we had a few useful talents and along with the basic need for reproduction to continue the species decided to try to teach us some basic skills.
The most convenient avenue to accomplish such a task was of course to lull us less advanced members of the species into a false sense of bliss and security and once the marriage ceremony was over bring the hammer down at some point and force us knuckle dragging brutes into some sort of civilized behavior. That in the nutshell is it folks, marriage is less a commitment of love between two people but more a continuation of a million year old battle to get us guys to help around the tree, cave, or house.
Like most marriages the opening skirmishes for me started out all warm and fuzzy with my wife and me calling each other by cute nicknames, holding hands all the time, and seeing each others faults as cute endearing traits. Our first year together we lived in a small one bedroom apartment whose total living space in square footage was not much above a large walk-in closet found in many of the upper scale McMansions these days. But as a newlywed couple the close confines were thought of as “cozy” offer both certain challenges and advantages.
Meals were a tag team event with one person preparing one portion of the coming meal then handing off to the other for something else to be done. Being newly married our joint meal preparations were all most entirely dishing out the take-home Chinese or the pizza that we had delivered. Cleaning was not much of an issue since like all walk-in closets a quick couple of passes with a vacuum and the carpet was clean. The bathroom and kitchen could be tackled separately very quickly, especially since they were almost too small for more than one person to occupy at one time.
As far as the advantages to a small apartment, a young couple can find more than a few interesting and frankly unusual places for clothing optional “exercises.” Although, just from my own personal experience those types of exercises performed on the attached small patio, even very late at night, tend to have negative effects on the neighbors no matter how much fun you all may be having.
But like all good things the false sense of bliss and security soon ended when we moved into our first house and my wife brought the hammer down and began training me in earnest, with admittedly mixed results.
Those short-term issues like home improvements and lawn care didn’t take too much time. While the reasons for changing out things like light fixtures, wallpaper, and paintings may escape me I have long since learned to go with the flow. My training has even developed to the point that when I’m asked for my opinion on the replacements I know the subtle and unconscious gestures my wife uses to signify which ones she prefers. My ancient ancestors may have been poop-throwing monkeys but only a single cell amoeba would actually be dumb enough to voice his honest opinion on such abstract questions.
The long-term stuff involved learning to cook something other than microwaveable pizzas for dinner, lessons in the evils of dust and soap scum, and why dirty clothes belong in the laundry hamper and not piled in a corner of the bedroom. Over time I actually learned to cook some decent meals that while are not gourmet in any sense are at least a little more complex than hamburger helper. Repeated lessons have actually taught me the benefits of dusting although I still haven’t figured out why soap scum is so hated by women. Now if there is one thing I have mastered its laundry, I can have all the clothes divided into proper categories, washed, and folded long before my wife has any idea the chore needed to be done.
While there has been some successes in my wife’s attempt to civilize me there have been some failures. The cap on the toothpaste thing is still troublesome and a cause for discord. I have no idea why this should be an issue, it’s not like the toothpaste will run out of an open tube.
Putting a new roll of toilet paper on the holder when the only thing left is the cardboard cylinder is a rather important thing for my wife. This failure I blame on my upbringing. We poor country folk just set the new roll of toilet paper on the toilet lid resting atop a small pile of magazines available for anyone to read while they go about their natural business. Remarkably, even that habit is something my wife has tried to break me of since we were married.
However, if there is one thing that drives my wife crazy is my unbreakable habit of leaving the toilet seat up. After years of training trying to get me to raise the seat for my business and then to lower it once I’m done even now there are times when my primitive brain fails me.
Just this last Christmas Eve when not a creature was stirring and my wife and I had finished settling our yearly account with Santa we made our way to bed. I had worked the night before and had not slept any during Christmas Eve day keeping the kids busy. My wife had spent the day preparing for Christmas dinner and dealing with the added complications brought on by her folks calling up and saying they were coming to our house after all instead of driving up to Richmond to be with their other daughter.
While I dozed off rather quickly I still heard her get up and in the darkness amble to the bathroom. Seconds later, once I heard the subdued splash of her falling the extra couple of inches in the porcelain bowl. Instantly I was wide-awake realizing that I had left the seat up again. The muffled grumbles that I heard before she came back out was nothing compared to the lecture I got as she crawled back into bed.
I had no excuse; all I could do was agree to my horrendous actions and my total lack of common decency. After a few minutes I turned over and let her anger slowly fade as we both drifted off to sleep. Before I was completely lost to sleep I did hear one more thing that got me to wondering about the whole nature of men, women and marriage in general.
“It would be far easier to teach a monkey to put the seat down after he’s done.” She said fading off to sleep.
Millions of years of human advancement and it always boils back down to the sins of our monkey ancestors who first jump down from the trees. Sort of make me wonder why we ever gave up poop throwing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Evolutionary collateral damage

Idiots come in all shapes and sizes but when they play with guns the results can be especially deadly and here in the South we seem full of them. Growing up in the rural South I was exposed to rifles, shotguns, and pistols at a young age and quickly learned that they were never to be considered toys. My grandfather for whom as a child had to hunt for his food was the one who instructed me on the safe and proper use of any weapon that I might have a chance to try. From the very beginning when I was just shooting a simple BB-gun he would make it very clear that whenever the weapon was loaded I was to have it pointed toward whatever target we were using because for him safety was the number one concern.
Any horse play with even an unloaded weapon would quickly result in it being taken away and a spanking if my behavior even came close to endangering another person. While serving in the army I would often chuckle at the sergeants running the various weapon ranges because the tone they carried and the extent they went to assure that no one would get hurt sounded so much like my grandfather.
Because of this weapons to me do not really hold the glamour that many civilians seem to endow in them. Sure, I occasionally enjoy watching some show on the Military Channel showing off the latest development in weapons but such shows quickly lose my interest after the basics are revealed. Heaven forbid I possibly sound elitist but I'm far more interested in things that lead to constructive and beneficial developments to the country and world.
But for many civilians weapons hold a glamour that I frankly find disturbing at times. Wannabe Rambos and War Geeks who never served look to their collection of rifles and pistols as the defining items of their manhood. They boast of what would happen to some stupid criminal that had the temerity to break into their homes. It isn't hard to get such people to delve into their darker, surreal fantasies of the federal Bogeyman out to take their weapons and what they would do to oppose such actions.
Most of these people are full of bluster and hot air but it would be a drastic mistake to not understand that there are many hardcore types for which the words: "they will get my guns when they pry my cold, dead fingers from them" is a brutal honesty. These people have that insane gleam in their eyes that I'm sure has excused a whole manner of atrocities all across the world all in the name of God, gold, or some greater abstract glory.
While it might seem strange for me to write the most terrifying of those in "love" with their weapons are those for who never learned that no rifle, shotgun, or pistol is a toy. The best, and least destructive, example I know of this happened in the late 1980's. During this time my grandfather had retired and had taken a part-time job as a security guard at one of the gated condo communities close to the beach. His job was simple, just wave the residents whose car had a sticker attached to the windshield through and stop those who didn't. It wasn't long before he was joined by a young guy who had once been employed as a police officer by one of the nearby small towns. This fella while on duty one night had taken to twirling his pistol like a cowboy before inserting it back into his holster in a snappy motion. Sometime that night while continuing to act like Roy Rogers this sad excuse for a cop shot a co-worker while twirling his weapon. The other guy was okay, it was only a minor leg wound, but the shooter soon found himself beside my granddad waving rich, Jaguar driving guys through the gates to see their mistresses.
Given how my granddad viewed being careful with any firearm he could not stand the guy who even then all he could talk about was his collection of guns in his trailer back home. While the shooter, and the guy he accidentally shot, got off lucky others have had far more tragic outcomes. I may be accused of being heartless when I like idiots with guns prove the Darwinian effect and cull the shallow end of the human gene pool. However, such people all too often don't solve the problem of their problematic existence but instead hurt the innocent.
ARJUN RAMACHANDRANJanuary 5, 2010 - 8:13AM
A four-year-old boy has been killed by a falling bullet that was fired into the air during New Year's Eve celebrations in the US.
Marquel Peters was playing a video game inside a church in the state of Georgia when the bullet pierced the roof and hit him in the head, local media reported.
He collapsed on the floor alongside his parents, bleeding, and was taken to hospital where he died.
"I saw his Nintendo game fall on the floor, and I heard a sound and I heard him scream a little bit and I looked around and all I saw was blood coming from his head," Marquel's mother Nathalee Peters told a local TV station."
"He was my only child ... I miss him, I loved him, he was so sweet," she told Sky News.
Ballistics experts told local media the bullet had most likely come from an AK-47 assault rifle, and may have been fired into the air up to five kilometres from the church.
Police believed the shooter may be unaware someone had been hurt by their bullet.
Marquel's family planned to return to the church - where they were regulars - for his funeral, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"I'm a faith believer, but it's just hard," his uncle Garry Peters said. "Why at church?"
According to the Journal-Constitution, the 350 people gathered inside heard a "loud pop" when the bullet pierced the roof .
"No one knew what it was," Mr Peters said.
After Marquel was taken to hospital, the congregation said a brief prayer for him before continuing with a planned concert, not realising his injuries were life-threatening, senior pastor Lloyd Phipps told the paper.
Soon after Marquel died, a six-year-old Italian boy was also shot by a stray bullet in Miami.
Andrea Fregonese was celebrating New Year's Eve with his family - only hours after authorities had urged people not to fire their guns in the air in celebration - when he was shot in the chest, apparently by a falling bullet.
His family were sitting at an outside restaurant at the time.
The mayor of Miami Tomas Regalado arranged for toys to be brought to Andrea at hospital, where he was in a serious but stable condition, to show "that we care and that we're sorry".

My question after reading that article is why haven't I heard about this story on American news?