Sunday, November 23, 2008

Funk, and Not the George Clinton/James Brown Kind...

Alright, I don't talk about this stuff with people. My wife, a couple close friends, that's it. So, either the anonymous quality of blogging, OR the fact that I feel some kind of responsibility to explain my absence to the people I have grown fond of while motivating me to write this.

I's got the funk. No, not the "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker" funk, the "clinically they call it depression" funk. I've had it since I was a kid. Not everyday, not a general sadness, or "down", nope...for me it was always a three/four times a year thing. I just couldn't get out of bed, or off the couch.

In the old days it could last for up to a week...for 4,5,6 days, I just didn't care about anything or anyone. I would either sleep for 20/22 hours a day, or I couldn't sleep at all. I wouldn't eat anything, and when I DID get hungry it was always for pure sugar...chocolate, washed-down with soda. It sucked.

These days, the funk doesn't come as often...the Swede and I were trying to remember the last one before this week...maybe a year, year and a half ago. It doesn't last as long...this one was 3-4 days, and the can kids break-through. I don't want to participate in anything, but I can get it together for them, to play or cuddle.

Thus my disappearance this week. As James Brown would say, "I got the funk!"

As I was thinking about writing this post, I thought some about why I don't share this people. "What's a matter, afraid you won't look macho anymore?", is what one friend asked me. I laughed.
I've shared this with some of you before. Whenever I hear someone say something like, "Real men don't ______ (cry, eat quiche, hold hands in public, etc.)" I always respond the same way.

"Real men" do whatever the fuck they want.
Growing into a "real man", in my opinion, requires this realization. Macho or "self actualized", soldier or shrink, becoming a man means you have to make decisions based on the values you decide are important in your life. Making decisions based on others' opinions of your actions, that's not "manhood", that's being a teenager...

So, why my hesitancy to share this aspect of my life with even those close to me? For me, I think it's vulnerability.
I wrote before about my dog, Miko. She was a sweet dog, never aggressive towards people or other animals, but she WAS a Pit-bull mix, and it was damn near impossible to tell when she was hurt. A vet once told me, that because of the breeds fighting background, Pit-bulls hide injury to mask vulnerability to possible opponents.
That's what I do. Given my childhood (I debate writing about it all the time, you'll be the first to know if I do.), and past profession, I share the same inherent trait with my late dog. I don't think "the funk" makes me less of a man, but it DOES make me vulnerable at times. So I hide it. Work thinks I'm sick, friends too, unless I "half-reveal" what's going on and tell them it's "family issues".

Like a Pit-bull that's not a fighter, I still don't know how to let people know I am "hurt". Then again, very few dogs have blogs...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Us and Them, or Are We Them?

Quick random thoughts as I sit and watch CNBC this morning. I'm only up because I haven't slept yet. That seems to be happening more and more these days. So I stayed up and did some mid-month sales reports, which only made me more depressed, and removed any trace of a chance that I would sleep.

Tough times were easier when I didn't have a family. I could eat Mac and Cheese, or cheap Taco Bell, live in a dive-apartment, and tough it out. That's not a life I care to share with these guys...

CNBC just reported that CitiGroup announced they will cut 50,000 of their 350,000 employees. That's 1 in 7 people who work for Citi, gone, no more job. The people at CNBC think this is a good thing, because the investors are looking for quick action to raise the stock price. So for the people who invest in Citi this is great, for 50,000 people with husbands, wives, and kids...not so much.

Just before that announcement the CNBC folks were talking about the "problem" with pharmaceutical stocks. You see, many medicines are coming off their protected patent, which will allow them to be made generically. So the fact that many people will be able to get their medication more cheaply, perhaps allowing them to afford medicine AND heat, is a disaster to investors. Hmm.

I'm not an anti-business guy. I have always believed in the "free market" and the fact that capitalism often is the motivation for great change. $3.00+ gasoline, was the motivation needed to drive people away from SUVs to fuel-efficient vehicles. It did, what no environmentalist could do. However, my belief in the system is shaken.

I am beginning to believe we all suffer from the "Wal-mart" effect. Every time Wal-mart is going to open a new store, the local community raises a stink. "Small businesses will be crushed! Wal-mart doesn't take care of its' employees! We don't want a Wal-mart here!" Then the store opens, and is packed. The "Mom & Pop" stores DO go out of business, because the same people who screamed and shouted like the cheaper prices at Wal-mart, and "forget" their protests. "Sure Wal-mart pays their people badly, and has lousy benefits, but WE save a ton of money."

Us and them, but which one are we? If you are a Wal-mart employee, you suffer from the success of the business-model. You don't make enough money, your benefits don't cover you or your prescriptions very well. If you live near a Wal-mart, the business-model is a blessing. Your dollar goes further there, with your insurance covering less and less, the $4.00 prescriptions there can save you tons. Us and Them.

I'm not sure we can save ourselves in this financial disaster with an "Us and Them" mentality. So a bunch of investors have some of their retirement savings back, but 50,000 people wonder how they will survive. A company and its' investors fear for their future, as thousands of others thank God that they can finally get their medications generically. Who is right? Is there a right or wrong? Everybody is worried, struggling to make it through.

I'm not sure that any of this means anything. I haven't slept, remember? I just know I am worried. I have two kids eating their cereal besides me on the couch right now. They don't know that their Daddy works for a company of over 300,000 employees too, or that his division sells to the Auto and Real Estate markets. They don't know that those aren't the markets you would want to be in these days. They don't know that he has been up all night, because when he tries to sleep he sees their faces when he closes his eyes. They don't know about Us and Them.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Ciii Computer Fund

-We now interrupt our normal drivel about politics and children, and stuff, to lend this space to some fund-raising efforts.------

I found this over at Best Buy for 299.99 with free shipping. (as of right now) It comes with a monitor, so our boy can just plug and post. Until we see what Wal-mart is offering for Black Friday it is the best out there that I could find.

Again, thanks all, for jumping on board with this. I am new to the blogging world, and Ciii was one of the first blogs, by someone I didn't know, that I really dug. I am doing this for selfish reasons, I want to hear about the Goat and Tater, and quite frankly can't afford to lose one of my most loyal

For those of you that are regular readers who don't also read Ciii's blog "The Goat and Tater", he was laid-off yesterday, and posts from a work computer. None at home. Sooo, the loyalists of his blog are taking up a collection to buy him an inexpensive desktop, so we can keep hearing about our blog-friend and his exploits. (Believe me, just the stories about his mispent youth are worth it!)

I am taking up the collection, and anyone who wants to donate to the cause/person, can e-mail me at with how much you'd like to contribute. Once we have about $300 pledged, I will e-mail everyone the address to the bank where my wife works, and everyone can send their checks. (My banker wife won't hear of anyone sending cash, it makes her ears bleed.) I will place the order through Best Buy, or Wal-mart, etc., and CC every single donor.

I will update this post as e-mails come in, so everyone can track how much we have pledged.

Again, thanks guys. Now back to our regularly scheduled program....

(This only includes people who e-mailed me, not those who commented on Ciii's blog)
Total Pledged: $40 (as of 11/15/2008)

Total Pledged: $155 (Half way, later on 11/15/2008!!)

Total Pledged: $180 (Niiice. Still 11/15/2008)

Total Pledged: $200 (Only $100 left. 11/15/2008)

Total Pledged: $260 (So Close...Let's do this! 11/19/2008)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Open Letter to a Podiatrist, "Please Help My Son!"

Dear Dr. Smith,

(In the interest of full disclosure, I feel like I must apologize for snickering when I wrote doctor above. I mean, I know you went to Podiatric Medical School, and earned the title Dr, but come on, feet? So, what happens if you're on an airplane, someone collapses, and the pilot asks, "Is there a Doctor on board?" Do you just remain seated and sip your drink, or do you run forward to clip the patients' toe-nails and work on their corns until "real" medical help arrives? Just wondering...)

Now on to my problem. My son is 14 months old, and we think he has a congenital defect, or perhaps an inherited genetic disorder, that has always been present, but now has become a problem tearing our family apart. We are at wits end, and you are our last hope. (Obi-wan. Ha, just kidding, this is serious.)

You see, my son, is constitutionally incapable of keeping shoes and socks on his feet. No matter how many times we "reapply" them, minutes later he is barefoot.
We, as a family, believe in footwear. We have neighbors, who run around barefoot all summer, soles of their feet blackened, like an impending storm, by seasons end. Not us. Sure, we may go sock-less sometimes, or run barefoot on some nice grass, but for the most part...we like the shoes.

At first, it happened slowly. My son would be wearing socks in the house, and would give it his infant-all to pull them off. Since he always grabbed them by the toe, as often as not, he achieved a "half-on, half-off" look, socks flapping in the breeze when we picked him up. Sometimes, he would get them off, and we then learned he didn't like socks on his feet, but LOVED socks in his mouth.

Overtime, it got much, much worse.

Now that he is walking, we try to keep socks on him when we are home, to avoid his feet looking like the "above-mentioned" neighbors. It doesn't work. My wife and I would often accuse one another of not putting socks on the little guy, only to discover, to our shame, the tiny little pieces of evidence that we were wrong, under a couch cushion, or under a pile of toys on the floor. Many a night we would hold each other and cry, begging apology of the other for our hurtful accusations.

Then came the shoes, oh God, the shoes. When we leave the house, as responsible parents, we put both socks and shoes on the little fella'. We tuck him in the car seat, start the car, and by the time we have pulled out of the driveway, my poor afflicted son has removed at least one shoe, and has a sock in his mouth, eyes pleading with us for help with his problem.

We fear for our four year-old daughter. We hate to think about all the times she has been left to her own devices, beside the car in the parking-lot of our destination, as we search through "floor-Cheerios" and McDonald's toys for a lost sock or shoe. Must she get struck by a rogue shopping cart, or a car driven by one of those people who circle the parking-lot constantly until a space opens near the door, before the medical community will take this "condition" seriously?

Yes, we have sought help from the medical community before. The people at St. Judes Children's Hospital are just mean. Apparently, they only treat real children's' diseases like cancer and diabetes. While those conditions may be more serious, was a restraining order, instructing me not to call them, or appear in the same city as the hospital, really necessary?

Also, in desperation, we reached out to the church... Having been raised Catholic, I figured there had to be a Patron Saint we could implore for help. I mean, geez, they have a Patron Saint for everything. I looked forward to praying to a "Saint Sebastian of the Shoes", or maybe someone with slightly broader responsibilities, like a "Saint Carl of Sandals and Assorted Footwear". Nothin'. That's right, apparently Pope's through the ages, have never considered my son's disease worth of a saint. *sigh*

Doctor (hee, hee), please don't think that I have only gone outside the home for help either. I have tried to solve this dilemma myself, in fact I DID solve it. I solved it the way any red-blooded American man would have. Duct tape.

What did I care if people looked at my boy oddly, his little feet wrapped in gray? The shoes and socks stayed on, and he amused himself with desperately trying to get the tape off. It would have been the perfect solution, but, it turns out, feet need blood-flow. How was I supposed to know? I haven't been to Podiatric Medical School.

I STILL think involving Child Protective Services was overkill, I mean they saved his toes. Why involve the authorities? (Also, I don't know if you have kids, but babies are wusses. When he wore shorts and we took the tape off at night, you would think we were taking off like 4 or 5 layers of skin! It was never more So, once my wife started talking to me again, I apologized and tried to rethink the problem. Apparently, she didn't like the staple nor glue-gun solutions, so here we are.

I know this may not seem like a pressing problem, to a man who deals with such serious issues as "fallen arches" and "rough heels" everyday, but we are desperate. Any research you could do, to discover if any other families are being torn apart by this nightmare, would be appreciated. Thank you.



P.S.: I know it's a little "North" of your expertise, but do you have any idea how to get a kid's skin to grow back on the legs? Just askin'.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Ciii, over at The Goat and Tater wrote this yesterday. It's maybe the most touching post, remembering the birth of a child, I have ever read. I really dig the way this guy writes. I've been thinking about it all day, and contrasting his experience to mine and the way The Monkey took over my life...

Ciii wrote that he was in love the moment he saw his daughter. Me, not so much. I had never been around babies before, and I remember the moment the doctors and nurses left The Swede and me alone with our new baby for the first time. I thought they had made a mistake...did they know they had left this little human behind with us?! We had entered the hospital 10 hours before, with some of the stuff we needed for a baby, but damn, we didn't come in parents! What made them think we were capable of being parents now?

Babies don't do much...they don't smile, or laugh, right away. They're hard to have a good talk with...and what's up with the whole "hold the head" thing? Even a puppy or kitten isn't so helpless it needs someone to help it not damage it's little spine when it's head falls forward or back. So for a while...I wondered.

Had I made a mistake? Maybe I didn't like kids, even my own...this wasn't the best time to be figuring this out, I was scared. What if I didn't grow fonder of her? What if I never developed the feelings for her that The Swede seemed to have the instant they met? Why couldn't I smell that scent the Swede did, every time she smelled her little head?


Then little things changed... Instead of her screaming the moment her mother passed her to me, she began to tuck her head into my neck, and hold on with her little hands. She began to smile at me, and laugh. She would laugh at my funny faces, and the stuffed animal "shows" I would put on for her. Oh, that laugh. Like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes every time she laughed, the deep baby belly laugh. Like Miracle-Gro for my love.

We started to go out together...everywhere. I would take her to the store, to get videos, to get gas...we were suddenly inseparable, I didn't want to be anywhere without her. We would listen to music in the car and she would "dance", bouncing up and down and back and forth with the beat. I would reach back, behind my seat, and grab her little feet...again, the laugh, punctuated with squeals.
We would "talk". I would mimic her little noises, and she would repeat them, smiling as I played Mockingbird to her sounds.

She'd done it. She had answered my questions. Hell, she answered questions I hadn't thought to ask, about everything...every mistake I had made in my life, every turn I had taken...led me to her.
I've told everyone I know, that having a child is like wiping the "slate of life" clean.

You get to be anything you want to see reflected back in those eyes. She doesn't care what kind of man I was in my 20's, the paths I started down that led the wrong way. She only sees who I am today, and will remember me for who I become in the future.

So I didn't fall in love with my Monkey at first, she wormed her way into my heart, and made it her own. People like to say that little girls wrap their Daddy's around their fingers, but you want to know the truth? We're like pythons, we wrap ourselves around their little fingers, and hold on with all the strength we can muster.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Award (I haven't gotten my money yet though)

Well, I am honored. Laggin of "Under The Roof of a Great House" presented me with an award.

Now, I'm not entirely clear as to what blog-awards mean, but I am looking forward to getting my check for it in the mail.

There are two criteria for accepting this award. First, listing 6 things that make me happy today.

1) The Kids. I am working from home today, while the Swede is at a company training. I hate mornings, but these two are pretty damn cute in their PJ's.

2) The Job. These days, still having a job should make us all happy.

3) Coffee. Oh God, I love coffee...I mean, I fuckin' LOVE coffee!

4) Coffee. Did I mention I love coffee. Hey, I was up at 7:15, coffee gets two mentions.

5) Cold weather. It is going to be really cold here for a couple days, so perhaps the allergies, that have plagued the Monkey and I all year, will finally subside.

6) This whole blogging thing. A year ago, I found an old friend who had a blog, and I didn't even know what that met. I read, I joined, I commented, I started this thing. I like my job, but it doesn't require much thought. Blogging allows me to be creative, discuss the stuff I like, and write. Thanks to DCD and Laggin who pulled me into all of this, kickin' and screaming.

Now, the second part of the award, says I have to give it away. So I shall.

1) DCD at Dana's Brain. She started me on all this, so blame her.

2) Carolyn at Carolynonline. Hers was the first blog I read after Dana's, then I stole her blogroll.

3) Ciii at The Goat and Tater. I have to talk to my Mom, 'cause this guy may be my long-lost, more talented, brother. He writes about his kids the way my heart feels about mine.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Stuff That Works

There's a great Guy Clark song titled "Stuff That Works", where he sings about the things in his life he loves and is grateful for. I had one of those nights...

We've had health issues in my extended family. I work for a large company and my division sells to the Auto Industry, which is suffering greatly this days. So I worry about money, and my job on a regular basis. The Swede works on the weekends, so we feel like we rarely see each other. The kids have differing nighttime issues, one is hard to get to sleep, the other hard to keep asleep.
You know, I have all the same daily stresses that most everyone else has, and sometimes it makes me forget what is really important.

Tonight I was reminded of the "Stuff That Works".

It began with these guys...

I wrote about these guys before. The cat is Riley and the dog, Daisy, and obviously, they like each other.
We had a great evening, the kids were in good spirits, and went to bed with no problems. The Swede and I got in some good cuddling time before she went to bed. I was watching TV in my newish (April) house, the bills were paid, and I looked over at the couch. The animals were wrapped around each other, in perfect contentment.
Later, I went upstairs to check on the sleepers. Scratch was on his side in his crib, his arm wrapped around this stuffed monkey. The Swede was tucked in, with the cat at her feet. The Monkey was in her room, fast asleep with her best friend, Daisy, curled up beside her. I, was in a place I never dared hope for...
Sometimes I forget. I let the "little" and "not so little" things overshadow the true gifts I have in my life.
I live in a house of love. I mean this in a literal way, everyone in this home expresses their love. The Swede and I used to joke that we had the cuddliest animals ever, but it turns out it must be us, because the kids are the same way. All of us love to be cuddled up next to one another, and we usually are.
My kids and wife are healthy, happy, and safe. We all eat well, have a nice house, medical care when we need it, and have each other. It's more than enough.
Sometimes I forget, but sometimes, I remember to be grateful for the "Stuff That Works".

Friday, November 07, 2008

Prop 8, Religion, and Government (Updated, Oops)

(Debate rule #1: Clearly frame your argument in the first paragraph. Thanks to DCD, and her comments, it's come to my attention that my first couple of paragraphs make it seem as if I was advocating compromise on the Gay Marriage debate. Nothing could be farther from the truth! I just forgot "rule #1".
In fact, I cannot believe that we are having any debate at all, in the United States of America, about giving equal rights to all Americans in 2008. The point I was trying to make(badly), was that this is a Civil Rights issue. The rights that come under the term "marriage" whether they be legal or monetary, have to be available to EVERYONE! The problem is, that the term "marriage" is a religious one, so the post below was trying to make the point that we need to remove religion from this issue.
Again, I can't believe that in America in 2008, we are having legislative action taken due to religion. This was my point: If you remove the religious term "marriage" out of what is actually an Equal Rights issue, I believe you would find almost no support for legislation such as Prop 8.)

What the hell? I've discussed Gun Control, Politics and Religion here. Why not throw out my belief about homosexual marriage. I am not trying to change any minds here. These are my thoughts on this topic.

First of all, I have read a bunch of blogs that express shock that the citizens of California passed Prop 8, revoking the right of homosexuals to marry in the state. I agree, in principle, with the outrage, but I think that the fight is taking the wrong tack.

When the founding fathers wrote our Constitution, to include the separation of church and state, many believe this was to keep church out of government. I believe they did it to keep government out of church. Remember, these men were rising up against England, and more specifically the King of England. A king who descended from another king, who decided he would tell the people of England what religion they would be a part of. The pilgrims didn't leave England because the church had too much power over government, they left because the government had become the church. So I do not believe, constitutionally, that our government can tell the Conservative Christians, nor anyone that is a part of an organized religion that believes homosexuality is wrong, that they MUST accept homosexuals.

The government CAN, however, keep anyone from discriminating against another due to their race, religion, gender, or sexual preference. IMO, this should not include marriage, because marriage shouldn't be the purview of the government to begin with! None of us should be "married" by the government, marriage is a religious practice NOT a governmental right!

I believe that if you asked many of the people in California who voted for Prop 8 if they wanted to discriminate against homosexuals, they would say no. They voted yes, because they were defending their religions' definition of marriage as they understand it.
Many people don't realize that "marriage" allows a person to make important legal decisions for their partner at the end of their lives. That "marriage" allows a couple to share insurance benefits, pass on property in the event of death, and avoid the "death" tax. They may realize that "marriage" carries some income tax benefits, but they see denying homosexuals that, as a small price to pay to protect their religious views.

IMO we need to reshape this entire issue, by removing the government from the marriage game all together. All long-term couples should be able to apply for the status of "civil union", and that union should carry the same rights for everyone. Taxes, insurance, and legal rights should come with the "civil union", and instead of divorce, a couple that splits would "dissolve" that union. The legal battles at the end of the relationship would remain the same. I believe no legislation such as Prop 8 would survive for long, if the word marriage were not involved, but instead people needed to vote directly for discrimination.

Once marriage is removed from government, then, a couple can get married within their church. If you believe that God "hates the sin" of homosexuality, stay in your prejudiced church with everyone who shares your view. If you are a homosexual couple, you can find one of the many liberal churches that are inclusive and get married there. This way the government is not involved in marriage at all. The Conservative Christians can believe that the marriages by the inclusive churches are false in the eyes of God, and revel in their knowledge that they are members of the "true" church.

I choose to believe that, if indeed there is a Supreme Being (I've called it F.U.E. in the past. Formless Universal Entity) out there, and it did have a hand in creating all of this, that FUE would not create something only to punish it for its' creation. I abhor the hatred I see pouring forth from so many people, hidden in the guise of "religion", but I don't believe we can legislate love.

We can, however, legislate equality.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Why Not Let Sam Say It?

We have fufilled our promise to the world.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union..."

Not perfect, but striving to always improve who and what we are.

Hello world, we're back!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A New America

This, my friends, marks a huge turning point in our country's history.

I, for one, am proud to have been a part of it, and to have been witness to it.

God Bless America!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Lawyers, Guns and Money

(Ok, this post has nothing to do with Lawyers or Money. Except: the person who talked me into blogging (Laggin) is a lawyer, and still seems strangely human; and I have no money. Nope, this post is about guns and gun control and is sure to piss off anyone who reads it. So, it was nice having you here...take care.)

This post is going to make everyone on both sides of the gun control issue mad. If you are anti-guns, you are going to read this, and think I am on my way to Montana to join my militia brethren. If you are a card-carrying NRA member, you are going to read the same thing, and think I am a left-wing mouthpiece, ready to board the UN helicopters to help take away your guns. Neither is correct, but whatever... So why write a post that is going to stir everybody up?

The Swede and I have great friends who happen to be a lesbian couple. They told us once, that they watch Gay Pride parades on TV and cringe. They said that every time a parade is covered on television, the cameras only show the "dykes on bikes" and transvestites. They(TV) never cover the hundreds of long-term couples, parents, and everyday citizens that happen to be gay. So the folks that have a prejudice against gays, get to look at the TV and have their preconceptions of all gays confirmed. Well, in the past couple weeks, gun-owners have been represented by the worst of us, yet again.

A couple of weeks ago, an eight-year-old child was killed, when the Uzi machine gun he was firing at an event in Massachusetts, went out of his control and shot him in the head. (I had to read that sentence again to make myself believe what I was writing.) I have since heard gun advocates say this was a "tragic accident", while defending the organizations right to hand machine guns to kids.

Also, I was shooting at a local range last week and had a great conversation with the man working behind the counter. He was friendly, and very talkative. After I bought my targets, got my lane assignment, and bullshitted with him for a while, I was walking towards the range and heard him get into a political discussion with the person behind me. As they discussed the upcoming elections, he brought up Obama, and the old rhetoric about how Obama was going to take away all our guns. Then he said this, "I hope if he gets elected, someone shoots the bastard." I turned in shock to see the customer laugh nervously and ask for targets. As I walked into the range, pissed, because I wasn't going to be able to shoot there anymore, (and of course it is the range 5 minutes from my house, and dirt cheap...goddammit) I saw an Obama/Biden campaign sign that someone had used as a target. WTF!

I am a gun owner. I did not grow up in a "gun" family, in fact my mother is just a little left of Karl Marx, and my father is afraid of guns. I became a "gun person" in the military, taught myself how to hunt in adulthood, and have owned guns for the last 13 years. I do believe the Supreme Court was correct in its' decision that the Second Amendment is an individual right. I also, just wish some "gun people" should shut up!

Before I talk about why I think that anti-gun advocates are misdirected in many cases, can I please talk about fanatics? I've written before about how I believe "all or nothing" thinking is our society's biggest problem. This certainly is true in the gun debate. Can we seriously not agree that an eight-year-old should NOT be shooting a fully automatic weapon? Really? If my kids want to hunt with me, I plan on letting them, and teaching them to shoot. That does not mean they can shoot anything they want. Why is common-sense an attack on the Second Amendment? If you let your child drive go-carts, or battery-powered cars that doesn't mean you should let them operate an actual car...
"You can't tell me how to raise my children!", the NRA-lovin' folks will scream. We already do, idiot. You are required to put your infant in a car-seat when you drive, you have to put them in school (or prove you are home-schooling them), and they can't drive until they are 16 years old. Common sense.
I don't know at what age a child should be allowed to start to learn firearms, but I do know that the learning process shouldn't include an automatic assault rifle at the age of eight!

"Slippery slope." That's the argument that the NRA will make, and in a sense, they're right. There are no groups out there that advocate a common sense approach to firearms. Either, they are groups that believe in restrictions on firearms that they hope will lead to having no weapons left, except for rifles and shotguns for hunting, ala Europe; or the NRA, who believes that any restriction of any firearms is an attack on the Second Amendment. *sigh* Once again, fanatics on both sides, shaping the debate.

Now I need to interject one political comment here. I am Independent, and will be voting for Obama AND some Republican candidates for other offices. I often shake my head at the rhetoric on both sides...BUT there is a difference in my head shaking. "Liberals" (I don't know exactly what that means, BTW.) may advocate things I don't agree with, but they almost always do so with the best of intentions. How can I get bent out of shape at the call for "gun-control" when the purpose is to reduce crime and specifically deaths by gun? I may disagree with the means by which they propose to get to that end, but I can't argue with the goal itself. I have often told my (very liberal) brother, that if there was an electromagnet that could be placed above the US, and it could suck up the millions (?billion?) of guns that are already here, I would surrender mine. It can't happen. So it begs the question: Who are gun laws affecting?

My biggest issues with anti-gun advocates is the very premise on which they base their efforts. Gun "laws" by very definition, affect only those who willing obey the law. The problem is, that the people who commit homicide with a firearm, are already willing to break the most serious law our society has. A person willing to take the life of another human being, is not going to be deterred by increasing the penalty for possession of an illegal firearm. So, the only people affected by stricter gun laws, are law-abiding citizens who choose to own a firearm for recreational or self-defense purposes. It's like passing a law that nobody is allowed to lift weights and grow stronger, so the only people who get bigger and stronger are people who break the law. WTF?

"The police. The police protect us", is the cry of anti-gun advocates. I'm sorry, but I WAS the police for most of the 90's, and I can count on one-hand the number of crimes I prevented. Most police responses occur during or after the commission of a crime. Not the police's fault, they can't be everywhere at once.
I was once told by a rape-counselor I worked with while in Law Enforcement, "I have yet to meet a women who was sexually assaulted, who is against carrying guns." Whether you choose to own a gun or not, they ARE great physical equalizers. A women, who might not be a physical match for a male attacker, is able to defend herself (regardless of size difference) with a firearm.

"Why do you need a gun? Are you afraid? Do you walk around expecting to be attacked?" No, but I wear my seatbelt every time I get in my car, and I don't expect to be in an accident either. I am stealing this story from an e-mail I received sometime ago, author unknown:
A sheriff for a fairly "liberal" community, attended a formal dinner party in town. He was seated next to an older, very liberal, woman at his table. As he sat down, the woman caught sight of the firearm he was wearing concealed under his jacket. "Sheriff", she asked with condescension, "I see you are wearing your gun. Are you expecting trouble at this dinner party?" "No Ma'am." he responded, "If I were expecting trouble, I would have brought the shotgun."

Yes, I have a license to carry a gun, concealed on my person, and yes I carry a gun. When I am asked why I carry the gun to _____(the store, the gas station, movies, etc.), I respond as above. I choose to carry, so trying to figure out when to carry is like trying to figure out when I wear my seatbelt. Either wear it or don't. Trying to predict when you will need it is ridiculous.

So I like guns. I must be a NRA-lovin' nut case, right? No. I no longer am a member of the NRA, because I don't like fanatics. I believe I have the right to own and carry a gun, but I can't believe how easy it is to do both. I have to prove to somebody, that I know how to drive my car, they test me. Why is it that such a suggestion, in regards to guns, makes the NRA crazy? Is having guns in the hands of people with no training, doing me (as a responsible, trained firearm owner) any favors? We are riddled with stories of people who accidentally shoot themselves while cleaning their guns, or children getting killed or injured when they find an unsecured firearm. The first, should NEVER occur if a person is trained properly. It is like working on your cars' engine while the car is running...stupid.
The second, may occur no matter what, just like homes with pools WILL have tragic drownings, but education and training could dramatically reduce such incidents with firearms.

So why then, is the NRA against any common-sense laws requiring training and testing for gun ownership? "Slippery slope" again, but that allows for no dialogue. I believe that it is the responsibility of law-abiding gun owners/collectors/enthusiasts to work to make the ownership of firearms safer. Unlike people who "just don't like guns", we can help to shape laws and create requirements that make sense and could actually make a difference.
For those individuals that don't choose to own a firearm, it still is within your best interest to try and understand those that do. Work with them to ensure that others who join the legion of firearms owners, do so with proper training and discussion of the severity of that decision.
As in most things within our society, I believe trying to understand the point of view of those that don't agree with us, could go a long way to making compromises we ALL can accept.

(Again, sorry for the length. I am just tired of being represented by people who don't speak for me.)