Monday, December 31, 2012

End of 2012

It's the end of the year and I should have done better. I really should have.

I didn't write every day. I didn't work out every day. Hell I didn't even give myself a minute to meditate every day. I just...I lost.

It was a tough year, and rolling over to 2013 doesn't make the year less hard. Nor does it make any of the myriad insecurities I have fade.

This year—2013—I will make the same resolutions that everyone makes. I will spend more time with friends and family, I will try to be kinder, I will try to be sane, I will get in shape.

I guess the most important resolution I will make for the following year is to write daily. I'm dropping the 365 requirement because I can't hold it. It became a task too big to handle and I subsequently wrote nothing.

This year I will try to follow through on my actions. This year I will try to actually do.

Or in the words of a famous Northwest shoe company, just do it.

But I know that I might not. And that's the hardest part about making promises to oneself—they are easy to break because we are forgiving.

I didn't meet my goals for last year, I dropped the ball—I never focused on my goals and I certainly didn't execute well. I feel ashamed that the few people who read this blog did not get to see something every day. That I failed them.

Sorry guys.

I resolve to try harder. To do what hurts sometimes.

Yogi Berra once said, “if you come to a fork in the road, take it.” I think he was right. I could explain how that works but suffice it to say he wasn't completely off his rocker. It does work.

This last year was about stasis. Finding stability and discovering that it's not impossible to be an adult. I thought it would be about growth. It was—but in a controlled manner. I never sprinted to the finish, I never overcame extraordinary obstacles. I was myself the entire year in a boring way—yeah, boring. But I think I grew in ways that I won't see the impacts of until many years from now. My freshman year as a post-grad is a foundation for some structure whose form has yet to be decided.

At least I hope.

Happy new year everyone.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Gun Debate Reading List

I want to open with disappointment. I'm disappointed in the defensive, unproductive, misleading, and ultimately uncontributive statement put out by the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre.



And you can read a concise compendium of why more guns is empirically problematic as a solution here: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/armed-civilians-do-not-stop-mass-shootings

And a (weak) but very true synopsis of the second amendment here: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/jeffrey-toobin-second-amendment.html

That said there is plenty that can be done to really address issues of gun violence, safety, mental health, and the rights of gun owners without excluding any of those things.

It is instructive to remember that the NRA has been obstructionist by and large in helping create meaningful gun laws. The 300ish laws that stand on the books have been passed in spite of one of the most powerful lobbies in the country and not with its help. I want there to be no ambiguity about that.

But often these laws are passed and are deemed ineffective either due to loopholes, funding shortfalls, or other difficulties with enforcement. Sometimes they are just poorly written. But make no mistake about it gun control measures work. Read about that here: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/the-simple-truth-about-gun-control.html?mbid=gnep&google_editors_picks=true

Why would the NRA be so belligerent? The factually untrue (mostly) assertion that the NRA speaks for gun manufacturers is debunked here: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/12/whom-does-the-nra-really-speak-for/266373/?google_editors_picks=true

So why? Attitude. Hopefully you read the full NRA statement. From my perspective LaPierre believes two things: his rights are on the verge of being taken away, and he is the last bastion of hope for protecting them.

And, well, that's wrong. Americans by and large are well aware of the 2nd amendment and are pretty rational about it. And a reasonable American can also say that there are limits to bearing arms. We don't allow automatic weapons, and we also put limits on our other amendments (no fire in a crowded theater). So, his position obscures the debate because there are many actions that can be taken that reduce gun crime—such as the COPS bill, closing the gun-show loophole, and better enforcement of background checks. Because overall, we don't want more gun crimes.


What we want is responsible gun ownership and reasoned debate. Here's a comedy website that gives a great analysis of the gun debate: http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-4-most-meaningless-arguments-against-gun-control/

That's my reading list of late, and basically I want to end on a note of hope, but I've seen little that encourages me thus far.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Discussion About Guns

**I spoke with a libertarian minded old school conservative. An “I want my freedom and guns” conservative. Not, as he describes, a “the government is coming for us conservative.” He is an expert shooter, well-trained and a military man—concerned citizen. The subject of our conversation was about guns, the values underlying gun ownership, and various other related issues. Given the recent events in Connecticut we avoided hypotheticals and tried honestly to be respectful of the memory of the many lost to gun violence each year. We also, of course were conscious of the constitutional right to bear arms and the limits that imposes.  Both of us have discussed in detail the recent events and have been deeply affected--nothing herein should be construed to denigrate the pain and suffering of those lost.**

I always learned you gotta ride hard, shoot straight, and speak the truth. I feel that people—especially politicians—that doesn't happen.

I feel that Bush had our backs. I mean, he's a well known-idiot, but I felt like he had our backs.

I value self-reliance. Self-reliance means you have the means and the ability to make a good life and protect a good life for you and your family. It means there will be jobs available, and money for the middle class. I'm not an economist- if that means tax and regulate the 1%, go for it. I just don't want the Government breathing down my neck, telling me what standards I have to hit. Take NCLB, it was a perfect example of the Federal government forcing you to adhere to their standards. My feelings go beyond party lines. NCLB was a GOP law, pushed on us from a Federal level. By and large, the Federal Government doesn't value our ability to make decisions for our own communities.

Talking about guns—there's an old saying that the response time of police is measured in minutes and the response time of a gun is measured in fps. I want to be able to defend myself and feel safe. I don't want to have to rely on anybody, at any time, for my safety, if I can help it.

We as a nation have to realize that we are facing an enemy—there is an enemy out there—there are people out there actively plotting to do us harm. The sooner you accept no amount of wishing and hoping can stop that, the sooner you can respond to that threat.

No amount of, “they've got it covered” can create individual preparedness. Not through taking away our civil liberties. Not through DHS. Inherently we the people are the first responders. If there is an attack the first people on the scene will be citizens—police and fire are second responders. Look at United 93—that's a perfect.

**I don't want to carry a gun. I want to live in a society where that's not required. Now, given that, I don't believe we currently live in a society where we can say that 100% of the time. How do we get there?**

I don't have an answer to that. I'm concerned with the short term solution but if you want to plan for ten years then here are a few things we've already discussed.

Requiring FFL transfers and closing the gun show loophole, coordinating databases between agencies. Those are some good immediate solutions.

We as a nation were born with a gun in our hands, we expanded with guns. Guns are an integral part of our life.

Lt. Colonel Grossman—his big thing is that we need to be more prepared to meet threats. Zero kids have died in school fires in the last 50 years. No one thinks firemen are paranoid for having sprinkler systems.

There are deranged gunmen out there ready to hurt our children.

**When you go out in public do you feel safe?**

Depends on where I am. In Seattle I do not. Where I go to school I do. At least where I'm from there are a lot of people who I feel share my values and frankly, carry guns. What if someone were to go into Westlake mall and shoot the place up? The unarmed security guard is useless. It's a soft target.

This house, I don't feel particularly safe sleeping in your house. To me it's about how I can feel safe without having to rely on the police for help.

It's not just about owning a gun though, it's about being safe and trained in using a gun. It's about being prepared. And that doesn't just apply to guns. It's about being prepared for a natural disaster, I have a 72 hour bag. People call being prepared a sort of paranoia, but we don't say that for the fire department.

**Is there a world where you don't need to be as prepared as you are?**

I don't think so, because there is the day that you need it and you have it and you are thankful but if the event never comes then you never think, “gosh it sucks that I was prepared.” No one thinks that.

**Is there a world where you would feel safe without some of those things?**

I feel safe because I am prepared. The world we live in is one rife with uncertainty.

I'd like to though. But some people take it to the extreme, in gun circles, they call it tactical residential architecture and defense. I think that people need to look at it from a big perspective. How do you stay safe from people who would actively do you harm?

A healthy level of awareness is something I think our country could do with.

**What about prevention?**

Short of a complete ban and the prevention of imports, there is little we can do beyond response, as far as legislating guns is concerned. I can't tell you anything about the mental health stuff. The number one step is preparedness. You are never going to prevent 100% of crime. All I know is, if you take away my guns, that doesn't mean the threat is gone—it means I, a law abiding citizen, can now no longer effectively respond to threats to my person. The Supreme Court ruled we have a right to self defense.

People want to treat the symptom rather than the cause. What causes crime? Perfect example, look at drunk driving, we've seen a precipitous decline in drunk driving and we didn't take away guns and we didn't take away cars.

Just because other countries do something doesn't mean we should. This is the United States of America—we roll hard. We have our freedoms. A freedom we inherently have is gun ownership, so any sort of federal legislation on gun ownership is not the answer. Our Constitution guarantees us rights that come from our creator—they are privileges to be legislated. Gun control is not an answer.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Placeholder

This is a placeholder for the things I want to write about but haven't had the courage to.

I recently lost my friend Christopher Weigl. He was 23. I wish I had known him better.

I recently lost someone from childhood, Brigette Cooley. She was caring and always knew things about me I did not.

The nation lost 27 people in a massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

The nation lost 3 people in a massacre in Clackamas County, Oregon.

I'm not as strong as I think and I don't have the courage that I want. Life has been sad for me lately and I don't know what to do.

I promise to write here. When I have the strength.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I built a server



Old CPU is running Ubuntu 12.04.  I back-up, stream and download automatically!  What!
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Ciera and I refinished a dresser

 
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Ballpark Scrabble



When Ciera and I don't care about the accuracy of our words.
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Christmas Cat



We spent about a half hour putting decorations on the cat.  She didn't seem to mind...too much.
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Martyr

Short story

I didn't think you'd be here tonight. I thought we'd moved beyond the subtle touch.

But I found you sitting next to me at the bar laughing at my friends' jokes and touching my shoulders just so.

And for a moment I, I thought I heard you say that you wanted to be next to me. For a moment I thought I heard you ask to come on home with me.

That might have been the music, it might have been the booze, and I'm pretty sure all you want from me is your toothbrush and your high heel shoes.

I've been meaning to hand them back but it's always an awkward time, I put all of your things away in a box behind a shelf. I asked you to come get them but you never say you will.

And tonight's the night I think I know why. You don't want to see me again because we'd end up where we were; believing our pathological fallacy, our contiguous lie.

This town ain't big enough for the both of us but I hardly feel the need to leave with you pressed so close to me. I can smell your favorite perfume behind that rum and coke; and I'm sure my bitter ale can't hide me.

I thought I'd drift out to the bars with my friends to forget you. An opportunity to do something I regret. I thought I'd leave your body's ghost in my bed. Wake up on a couch in some burnout's basement and be unaccounted for. I thought I'd sleep you off and shake off your airs, but when you leaned to get the check I couldn't help but feel your heartbeat through the bass and the static.

It was as rapid as mine. My smartest friends are putting up smiles but dreading the moment when—tonight or tomorrow—I break down again. You torture me with your party dress and all I can do is watch as we find ourselves a cab.

And when I try to sneak out of my own room and forget you in the morning it's not because I don't love you. It's because I do—too much. I'll lie to you then I'll lie to myself because as good as it feels when we touch—it's all temporal. The passage of a moment, and we are in it, the moment when what we had drags us down like an anchor while last night parts the seas and the future is the pharaoh's men coming to drag us to our slavery.

But I'm not Moses and neither are you. Yet we've wandered through a desert for forty years and will never reach the land of milk and honey.

I sneak out of my own house, quiet as a mouse, because your ghost still haunts me and I must be true to her. You can't be real and alive, your flesh is covered in spikes. Each tiny hair on your body when they brush against me lightly I am sliced open—a death—a thousand tiny cuts. My heart stops and you kill me for a moment. For a moment I die at your arm's caress.

When I lock the door and face the winter cold headed off in a direction I don't know, I hope you don't hear me and I hope you sleep in. But I hope that when I return you are gone and my life without you can begin.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Get Married High

Two things are happening at midnight. Two things that are big, small, touchstones, and nearly irrelevant—all at the same time.

The two things happening at midnight—marijuana possession in Washington state officially becomes legal and gay couples will be allowed to marry. Personally I believe both of these things rock. Like, some of the most awesome crap to happen in a while.

I'll shed few words to describe the elation I feel that the people of this great state have decided it is in this country's best interest to legitimize the relationships of all consenting adults. There is no litmus test for marriage for the most screwed up straight people and there should be no discrimination for any gays that want to marry. Period. So now that they are allowed to marry they no longer have to pretend that 'traditional' marriage is some sacrosanct institution. Rather it was the transfer of chattel from one male to another which happened to transfer many legal properties to the modern incarnation of marriage as we know it. Marriage as we know it is an imperfect structure, meant to bind two people together as a way of strengthening their will and commitment to a prosperous society. In reality there is often divorce, abuse, neglect, and broken dreams.

So why am I happy that gay people can now partake in this ceremony? Because we are all on equal ground now. Despite the certain dangers and drawbacks to marriage there are many benefits as well. The exclusion of any group based purely on prejudice and archaic principles is no excuse to hold them back.

They get the good, the bad, the sickness, and the health. Welcome to marriage community. Let's hope you can strengthen each other and forge a stronger bond through the institution rather than become jaded by the hateful and depraved farce us straights have made it.

So that's y'know, the newly bestowed right about love and stuff. The next one is about war. The war on drugs. Washington is officially altering how it handles the war on drugs. Not in a major way—a way that would cause substantial impacts to federal policy or starve the Mexican Drug Cartels, but in a way that signals we are ready for a different approach and a more expansive policy framework.

All that mumbo jumbo means that people can get high now. Legally.

I now live in a state that is concerned with regulating, taxing, and controlling a substance with wide-ranging medical implications and well-known positive recreational effects. And there's a market. So we're fixing the economy while much of the rest of the country is spending billions on non-violent drug offenders (many of them small time possession convictions with mandatory minimum sentences) and fighting a war on drugs that is estimated to stop less than 1% of the country's drug traffic.

And that's why today is big.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

And Christmas decorations



We decorated and promptly found out that Christmas tree really means tree full of cat toys.
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Refinished dresser



Ciera and I tried to refinish a dresser.  Still needs some work but it looks great.  Especially because it was in really poor condition when we got it.
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Don't feed the wildlife



I fed the wildlife
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Fiery Sunset



From when Roger visited and we took him to the beach house.
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