Sunday, February 18, 2018

The BS

Do you know what I've seen this week?  A whole lot of bullshit.  I see it in my facebook feed, I see it in the news, I hear it coming from peoples mouths.  And I can't believe everyone is willing to post this crap, or believe it, without once looking to see if it's right or wrong.

There were a couple of really good ones I keep seeing everywhere.  One is that there have been 18 school shootings this year.  The other is that school shootings just started in the last 30 years.  Both are absolute bullshit.  There have not been 18 school shootings of the kind we saw in Florida this year already.  And 52 years ago Charles Whitman stood on top of a tower and the University of Texas and killed 14 people and wounded a whole lot more.

So why lie?  What put a bunch of false, or at best partially true, information out there?  I'm guessing it's because there is a whole lot of power and money involved on both sides.  And the more they get us worked up and fighting with each other the more money they make.  Just look at the numbers.  If people even start talking about gun control then guess what happens.  Guns start flying off the shelf.  NRA membership sky rockets.  Money flows into Washington by lobbyists on both sides.  It's a vicious cycle.

Exactly how are we supposed to have a real conversation about this when all we get is half truths, or flat out lies.  How can we hope to fix this if we all aren't talking about what the same thing?  If we are cherry picking the facts to suit our personal beliefs, then where does that leave us?  We need to accept that fact that we are right and wrong, all at the same time.  We need to check our egos and beliefs at the door, and really listen to each other.  It really is that simple.  It's the base from where we can all start to really talk about solutions.

I have kids in school.  I can't imagine what those families are going through.  Burying their kids, fathers, friends.  I sure as hell don't wish that on anyone.  Including myself.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Another Shooting

Another school.  17 people, as of now, dead.

I've seen all the headlines.  I've checked on facebook.  I know that the lines have been drawn.  Hell, I know which side most of my friends will choose.

You'll either be on the side of no more AR-15 type assault weapons.  Or on the side of it's a mental health crisis and that has nothing to do with law abiding gun owner.

Both are true.  And both are completely bullshit.

An AR-15 is nothing more than a semi-automatic rifle that is spruced up to look like the military version.  You can do just as much damage with any semi-automatic firearm.  The only difference would be the look.  There are currently more than 100 million guns and over a trillion rounds of ammunition in private hands.  The genie is out of the bottle, and unless you start raiding homes like a police state, there is no way to get it put it back in.  And any politician or public personality that says anything about confiscation is pandering, because they know it won't happen.  Not for a long time. 

And for all of us saying it's a mental health issue, you're absolutely right.  The shooter in Florida was adopted.  He lost his adopted father in 2004 and lost his mother last November.  He and his sibling were living with friends.  Oh, and as icing on the cake, he was put on meds to help him cope.  Do you really think that kid was evil?  I can't say that for certain, but he was dealt a bad hand from the start.  He had more trauma in his young life than most.  Is that an excuse?  No.  Because a lot of people have trauma and don't shoot up schools.  I don't know, maybe he wanted to feel like God for a moment.  At least what he thought God feels like.

So where does that leave us?  Unfortunately I think it leaves us in the same place we've been after every one of these.  People are going to try to use this to push their own agenda.  Someone will call for more gun control.  The NRA will scream about the constitution.  Same old same old.


If it really is about mental health, then why isn't the NRA putting out grants to put counselors back in schools?  Or supporting programs to help young men who are troubled.  Why aren't we doing anything but screaming about our rights?  What about the rights of those dead kids and their families?  I didn't pull the trigger, but I sure as hell haven't done anything to try to fix this.

We gun owners had better start having a conversation about this, and we had better start bringing solutions to the table.  If we don't, then someone who doesn't share our values about firearms will.  And when that happens, at some point, our voices will be drown out.




Saturday, February 10, 2018

What you wish for

Not to long ago I wrote a post about turning 45 and feeling like I'm running short on time.  In that same post, I was commenting about how I shouldn't complain.  Good job, etc.  Not long after that I was talking to my wife about how my office wasn't getting support from our main headquarters and I remember saying that a few different things could happen.  We would be successful and they would be forced to support us or they would fire us.

Well guess what.  There was a third option.  We started being successful, and they called us and told us they were shutting the office down. 

Be careful what you put out there folks.  Of course my wife was not shocked.  At all.  She just said "Well you did put it out there"

So now what?  No idea.  I have plenty of options.  But I'm back to what do I want to do.  And I still really don't have an answer.  Luckily for me I have some time to sort it out.  It's not like they locked the door and  changed the keys on us.  I still have about a month and a half of work left before they formally close our office.

In my younger years I would probably have freaked out at this.  But I haven't.  Maybe it's because I'm confident in my ability to get work if I need it.  But I don't seem to have that gut wrenching fear of what will happen to us.

This just happened yesterday, so maybe it hasn't hit me yet.  But to be honest it feels pretty liberating.  Like I'm standing in a room and there's a million doors standing open.  I just have to walk through one and see where it takes me.  I could do a complete 180 on my career right now, and still be fine.

So once again, what's next?  No idea.  I have some opportunities I'm looking into, but nothing solid yet.  I guess I'll see what the universe brings to my door.  I know whatever it is, I'll have to work for it. 

I'll keep my eyes and my heart open.  My next great thing is coming next, I just need to recognize it when it gets here.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Change

I heard someone say, and I'm paraphrasing here, "If you want your life to change, then you have to let you life change."  That seems really obvious when you read it.  But practical application of that, at least for me, seems to be a little tricky.

I expanded on that thought a little more just for myself.  I added the following at the end.  "You can't fear change that you've asked for."

What that means, at least to me is, that fear is holding me back.  The "What ifs" are shackles.  What if it fails, what if it's stupid, what if I'm just being a jackass.

I'm absolutely positive that a multitude of opportunities have passed right on by me.  Some of them I realized were actually really good ideas and possibilities.  Do you know how many I've acted on?  Almost none.

I can sit here and say I wasn't ready.  I can sit here and say it wasn't the right opportunity.  Both of those are flat out lies.  The truth would be that I never really tried.  Whether I let the opportunities go because of fear, or laziness, or a multitude of other reasons, take your pick.

None of the excuses I make up matter.  I can say whatever I want to appease my conscience.  But the truth is I that I have had a multitude of opportunities and did nothing.  I could have put some effort into seeing if they could become a reality.  But I didn't.

You see, I got comfortable. I quit pushing myself.  I can blame fear, but why?  It's just another excuse.  The fact is, my brain routinely betrays me.  It thinks I'm doing just fine.  It's comfortable.

So now, I need to make a change.  I need to explore a few opportunities that have come my way.  I have to look at myself, and tell that part of my brain to shut up.  I need to go out and start pushing myself again. 

If I want change then I have to let change happen every time I get the opportunity.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Taking Sides

I was walking into the county building today when a lovely young lady asked me if she could sign me up to vote republican.  I kindly informed her that I was an independent, which she politely thanked me for my time and that was it.

Pretty much an unremarkable event in my life today.  But if I put it into perspective with the State of the Union address, then things change.  Now, as far as politics go, I do lean to the conservative side.  No doubt about that.

But why should I have to choose?  What is so beneficial from picking one side of the same coin?  Or the lesser of two evils, depending on which way you like better?  I shouldn't have to pick, and that's what pisses me off. 

I hate getting force fed garbage from both sides because that's what they think I want to hear.  I can think for myself, thank you.  And I sure as hell don't need your talking heads spoon feeding me information to get me riled up because I'm the voting base that will get someone re-elected.

Just mention that your might take something away, or give someone something, and people lose their damn mind.  Somehow we all turn into chicken little and start running around screaming at the sky.  It's especially bad when the news cycle is 24 hours a day.  (Lets not get into the fact that news outlets are for profit corporations that depend on ratings, not the truth.)

So what do I want.  Simple, I want to be able to elect someone who is willing to do the right thing.  Someone who is going to read the research, from reputable sources, and make decisions based on that.  Propose policies based on data that has been produced in a non partisan way.  Someone who can stand in front of me, have a conversation, and tell me I'm right or wrong, and clearly and coherently tell me why.

I want someone who can think.  Someone who's willing to change their views on a subject matter when the facts prove them wrong.  Someone who is willing to stand up in front of people and articulate why that change has happened.  Someone with a backbone, who isn't afraid to not get re-elected if comes down to it.

I'm fully aware that, right now, this is just a naive way of looking at our democracy.  I know that there is way to much money and power involved for me to make a difference.  But guess what, I'm still going to vote in the next election.  I'm going to read up on the candidates and I'm going to try to pick the best one.  Regardless of what party they are affiliated with.

And if we all did that together, then maybe, just maybe we could get things to change. 


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Feeling good

I don't know if I mentioned that I cleaned up my diet and started trying to get a little more exercise in a previous post, but I started about 9 months ago.  All I did was change my diet, stopped eating junk food and sugar, and tried to get a little exercise in. 

I decided to do it when I had to get weighed for a physical.  I hadn't had one in a while, nor had I looked at my weight.  Now I knew that I was packing around some extra pounds, I could see it and feel it.  What I didn't know was that I was roughly the size of an NFL linebacker, without the bulging muscles. 

So I started with little things.  Don't eat out, and if you do don't eat fast food.  It wasn't as easy as I'm making it sound.  But I made myself get into a habit, and I started feeling a lot better.

During the whole thing I realized something important about myself.  That I should pay attention to how I feel, and nothing else.  During this whole time I avoided scales.  I relied solely on how I looked in the mirror and how I felt.  It's amazing what your body tells you once you get your diet cleaned up.  So, for 9 months I haven't even thought about a scale.

Until tonight.

The in-laws were weighing bags for a medical mission trip to Haiti.  I decided that now was the time.  I've been feeling pretty well for a while and people have been telling me I look better.  Which is true, I am definitely not as puffy anymore.  So I jumped on the scale.  I was down 23 pounds.

Not that it's that impressive.  People lose hundreds of pounds.  And to be hones I was a little disappointed.  I thought I was down more than that.  Then I remember....I only weigh 7 pounds more now than I did in High School.  Not to bad for 45 years old. 

I never set a weight goal for myself.  I didn't want to fall into the trap of reaching that goal and then falling back into old, bad, habits.  Especially when the first goal I set is what I need to keep.  Just work on being healthy.

So there it is...the secret.  After 45 years I learned to listen to what my body was telling me.  I have to wonder if we'd all be happier if we picked up that little bit of knowledge a lot earlier in life.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Higher Standard

I was thinking about the whole president and "Shithole" comment.  It seems like old new with everything else going on, but that seems to have stuck with me.  It's been difficult for me to be angry and offended by that.  Just last week I referred to a town I worked around as a "Shithole".  And that's inside the U.S.  What's funny is that I've traveled and worked quite a bit outside of the U.S. and I don't really recall every saying one of the places I stayed was a shithole.  Even though they were way worse than anywhere I've been in the U.S.  But I digress. 

Anyway, my train of thought has been coming around to "Why would I hold someone to a higher standard than I hold myself...."  Like I said, just last week I used the same exact language.  So it seems pretty hipocritical of me to say I'm really offended by the presidents remarks.

In comes my wife with the knowledge beatdown. 

So we are sitting at dinner talking about it, and I'm explaining what I'm thinking on the whole deal.  She looks at me and says simply "He doesn't represent you......He represents all of us."  Boom.

I couldn't argue with her logic.  The president represents all of us.  Whether you voted for him or not, whether you like him or despise him, it doesn't matter.  He is the president of our(emphasis on the OUR) country and he is what the rest of the world sees and hears.  

So, I should hold him to a higher standard.  I should expect him to represent myself, and everyone else, with every ounce of dignity and respect we have as a society.  We are all different, and we all value different things.  But I think we can agree on the fact that we're not assholes, not all of the time anyway.  And saying a country is a shithole isn't a very dignified way of describing a place that is home to somebody.  Especially when it's someplace he has never been.

So where does that leave me?  Do I just roll on through life being a hipocrite?  I hope not.  I hope I'm old enough, and humble enough, to realize that what I've been doing doesn't represent me as a person very well. If I expect that kind of behavior from people who do represent me then I guess I should expect if from myself.