Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Don't Tread On Me

This is a guest post, written by my husband...


                                                                                                            17 December 2012

Family, friends, and fellow Americans, there is no doubt the shootings of the last week in Oregon and Connecticut are horrific and evil.  They are a national tragedy and a wound to our nation that will be slow to heal.  For some, no healing will ever be possible.  I have the most profound sympathy for these who have suffered the greatest loss of all, their husbands, wives, children, and parents.  I pray for them and their families.  Certainly we all would do something to bring them back if we could!

Some of you will not like what I write here.  I mean no disrespect nor do I wish to minimize the events that have occurred for any of the victims involved but we must be thoughtful and deliberate when we start talking about taking rights from all current and future generations of Americans.  Over the last 250 years, many patriots and veterans paid the ultimate price for us, the average citizens, who have done little or nothing to earn our precious freedom.  We must honor those who won those freedoms for us by not just giving them away in an emotional moment.

There is much talk in the media and among the politicians about the weapons involved and the relevance of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.  For those who have not recently read their personal copy of the Constitution, the 2nd Amendment states:

 “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. 

Those commas are in odd places but that is how the amendment was written. 

If you do not have your own copy of the Constitution, please let me know and I will make sure you get one as quickly as I can get it for you.  I am not kidding about this.  All Americans should have their own copy and know what it says.

With all the news hype and political rhetoric going on, it is easy for normally rational people to become emotional.  We feel anger, sorrow, and grief.  We feel that something must be done to right this terrible wrong.  If only it were that easy?

First of all, let’s get one thing out in the open right away.  AUTOMATIC WEAPONS ARE CURRENTLY ILLEGAL and have been since the 1934 National Firearms Act.  No one used an “automatic” weapon in any attack anyone is talking about on TV right now.

We must be aware that we are not getting the whole story on these matters.  There is a longstanding position of the “left” to desire the removal of many if not all firearms from the possession of the people who legally have them.  Today, these tragedies are being used as tools to manipulate us into making that irrational decision.  What! How could I level such an accusation?  Well, simply put, there are two facts that seem to be ignored when all the dramatic reporting is going on about these events.  First, with respect to the mall shooting in Oregon, here is a little reported fact, quoted from: http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/13946-china-school-knife-massacre-why-no-media-coverage  (I strongly suggest you read the whole article)

Also largely unreported by the national press was a would-be massacre stopped in a Portland-area mall by an armed citizen with a concealed-carry permit. 22-year-old Nick Meli was carrying his Glock 22 at the Clackamas Town Center, a mall in a town outside of Portland, Oregon, on the same day as the Newtown massacre. The contrast between the unarmed victims in Newtown and the Clackamas shooting was stark. Meli, seeing suspect 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts shooting random shoppers with his AR-15, pulled his gun as Roberts' gun jammed. Meli never even had to fire his gun to stop the shooting spree, which ended in the death of two innocents and the shooter himself. Meli held his fire because of the risk of shooting an innocent person. "As I was going down to pull, I saw someone in the back of the Charlotte move, and I knew if I fired and missed, I could hit them," Meli told the local television station. “I know that after he saw me,  I think that the last shot he fired was the one he used on himself.” (Thanks Bill for showing me this)

Do you hear NBC or the President talking about this?  Hell no!  We are being manipulated people…wake up!

Secondly, there has been much talk about the assault weapons in the school shooting.  What could have been done?  Well in fact, in 2011/2012, the Obama administration purposefully cut about $1 Billion (with a B) dollars from the federal budget that was targeted toward school safety.

Government officials told the Washington Guardian on Friday night that two Justice Department programs that had provided more than $200 million to schools for training, security equipment and police resources over the last decade weren't renewed in 2011 and 2012, and that a separate program that provided $800 million to put police officers inside the schools was ended a few years earlier. http://www.washingtonguardian.com/washingtons-school-security-failure (thanks Matt for pointing this out!)

Uh oh, I bet that little tidbit plays poorly if the mainstream gets ahold of it!

What would Jefferson say about these gun free school zones?  Good news, he actually made a relevant statement:  "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes...Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."-Thomas Jefferson, quoting Cesare Beccaria.  In other words, by declaring gun free zones, we have simply told the criminals where they will find the easiest targets.

If only there was a law that would prevent the shooter from obtaining the weapons to commit such a crime?  Utopia right?

Well guess what, the young man who did this shooting in Connecticut was in violation of numerous laws.  Let’s review a few of them:
·      He was under 21 and thus not a lawful possessor of a handgun
·      He murdered his own mother in cold blood
·      He took these weapons to a “gun free school zone” in violation of EXISTING federal law
·      He murdered 27 innocent men, women, and children.

I ask you, what additional law would have prevented this massacre?  How about a gun ban you say?  Ok maybe, but then my memories revert to the April 1995 and the Federal Building in Oklahoma City where Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh used a rented moving truck and a bunch of fertilizer to blow up the Federal building killing 168 including 19 children.  Was there any action taken outlawing moving trucks or fertilizer?  Would such action have been prudent?

For those of you who know me, I am a data driven person.  I like to look at facts and figures to help me make decisions with some sense of certainty and wisdom.  Lets look at some data.  Starting with the Columbine High School tragedy of April 20, 1999, there have been 31 “mass shootings”.  Certainly 1 is too many but we must look at them to understand what we are talking about here.

1.    April 20, 1999 – Columbine High School – 13 Killed, 21 Injured
2.    July 19, 1999 – Atlanta Day Trading Firm – 12 Killed
3.    September 15, 1999 – Wedgewood Baptist Church – 7 Killed, 7 Injured
4.    December 26, 2000 – Edgewater Technologies – 7 Killed
5.    July 8, 2003 – Lockheed Martin Plant in Meridian MS – 7 Killed, 7 Injured
6.    March 12, 2005 – Living Church of God Shooting – 9 Killed, 4 Injured
7.    March 21, 2005 – Red Lake Senior School – 11 Killed, 5 Injured
8.    March 25, 2006 – Capitol Hill – Seattle WA – 7 Killed, 2 Injured
9.    October 2, 2006 – Amish Schoolhouse – Lancaster, PA – 5 Killed, 6 Injured
10. February 12, 2007 – Salt Lake City Trolley Square Mall – 5 Killed, 4 Injured
11. April 16, 2007 – Virginia Tech Massacre – 32 Killed, 24 Injured
12. December 5, 2007 – Westroads Mall – Omaha, NE – 9 Killed, 4 Injured
13. February 7, 2008 – Kirkwood MO City Hall – 6 Killed, 2 Injured
14. February 14, 2008 – Northern Illinois University – 6 Killed, 21 Injured
15. March 29, 2009 – Pinelake Health and Rehab, Carthage, NC – 8 Killed
16. April 3, 2009 – Binghampton, NY Immigration Center – 13 Killed, 4 Injured
17. November 5, 2009 – Fort Hood Army Base Shooting – 13 Killed, 29 Injured
18. August 3, 2010 – Hartford Beer Distributor – Manchester,CT – 9 Killed, 2 Injured
19. January 8, 2011 – Gabriel Giffords Shot in Tucson, AZ – 6 Killed, 13 Injured
20. July 7, 2011 – Grand Rapids, MI – 7 Killed
21. September 6, 2011 – IHOP – Carson City, NV – 5 Killed, 7 Injured
22. October 14, 2011 – Salon Meritage - Seal Beach, CA – 8 Killed, 1 Injured
23. February 27, 2012 – Chadron High School - Chadron, OH – 3 Killed, 3 Injured
24. April 2, 2012 – Oikos University – Oakland, CA – 7 Killed
25. April 6 2012 – Tulsa Oklahoma – 5 blacks shot by 2 whites – 3 Killed, 2 Injured
26. May 29, 2012 – Café Racer Espresso – Seatle, WA – 5 Killed
27. July 20, 2012 – Aurora, CO Movie Theatre – 12 Killed, 58 Wounded
28. August 5, 2012 – Sikh Temple - Oak Creek, WI – 6 Killed, 4 Injured
29. September 27, 2012 – Signage Systems, Minneapolis, MN – 5 Killed
30. December 11, 2012 – Clackamas Town Center, Oregon – 2 Killed
31. December 14, 2012 – Sandy Hook School Shooting – 27 Killed

Each of these events is a tragedy for sure.  For the individuals involved no doubt these were final life events that will forever change the survivors and the towns they happened in.  I feel bad even saying it but I am going to have to for the greater good.  All total, if I added them correctly, these add up to 275 deaths and 249 wounded.  Again, each of these individuals is forever impacted by what has occurred and I do not mean any disrespect for their loss.  However, is the loss of 275 lives a reason to sacrifice one of our most basic freedoms?  Does the injury of another 249 and the potentially hundreds more who morn these victims?  If we estimated that each of these had a family that loved them, I would offer a total sacrifice made by about 3000 people.  Again, there were 275 deaths, each significant in their own right for sure.

However, when I contrast this to other issues in our society, I have to ask myself why we have all the “concern” about this one issue?  For example, consider the following facts:

·      As of 2001, about 550 people have died visiting the Grand Canyon
·      According to data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 51 States reported a total of 1,537 fatalities. Based on these data, a nationally estimated 1,560 children died from abuse and neglect in 2010. (I have no idea where the 51st state is but I assume the US territories are included in that number?)
·      In 2009, there were 33,808 total traffic fatalities in the US.  Of those, 10,591 were related to speeding
·      In 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that approximately 4,700 pedestrians were killed and another 70,000 injured due to pedestrian-vehicle crashes
·      In 2008 there were still 13,846 fatal alcohol related crashes

So I ask you, Are Guns really the most serious problem we need to solve today?  Do they really represent the grave danger to society that all the Liberals were on TV talking about this past weekend?

Maybe we could be facetious here just a moment….

Based on the logic of the left with respect to banning “Assault Style Weapons” we should also be banning trips to the Grand Canyon, Poor Parenting, Driving, Crossing the Street, and Alcohol, all of which are far greater threats to the population than these “Assault Style Weapons” 

In 2011, 368 people died crossing the border illegally from Mexico into the United States.  That is more than all of the mass shootings cited above.  Furthermore, the government is legally authorized and obligated to protect that border.  Doing so would not violate anyone’s constitutional rights.  Yet the administration appears to be going soft on illegal immigration, a problem approximately 10 times more deadly than mass shootings with “Assault Style Weapons”.

Also, please note that each of my counterpoint statistics is for individual years, not a sum total of years for 1999 to present.  By contrast the shooting related numbers are totaled over a 13-year period.

So again I ask you to be rational and ask yourself the question, do these events justify removing weapons of any kind from about 88 million law-abiding citizens?

These law-abiding citizens do not pose any threat to society but rather they simply provide a counterbalance to a potential future tyrannical government.  We must not be too quick to give away our freedom. 

What did I just say?  Tyrannical Government?  Not Here!  No way! 

Why do you think that is?  Could it be that the 2nd Amendment is the major contributing factor to us not having an overly oppressive government in this country?  I am certain our founding fathers planned it this way.

To quote Thomas Jefferson: "Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny." -Thomas Jefferson, Bill for the More General diffusion of Knowledge (1778). 

Benjamin Franklin rightly stated: "They that can give up liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania. 

It is my opinion that these statements reflect that the true purpose of the 2nd amendment is allow the people to be properly armed so as to protect themselves from a future tyrannical central government.  After all, was this not what the American Revolution was all about?  When Paul Revere rode proclaiming, “The British are coming!” he was warning the colonials that the British were coming TO CONFISCATE THEIR GUNS!

I am disgusted that our President and his socialist cronies are using this terrible tragedy to advance their political purposes.  This is a tragedy and we should not use it to grossly manipulate public opinion to convince people to give up any portion of their right to bear arms based on the emotions of the moment.  What will be next?  Possibly Mayor Bloomberg’s “proactive police work”, which essentially amounts to illegal searches of “suspicious” looking African American males in New York City will catch on in all 50 states.  I can’t see how this doesn’t violate the 4th amendment but somehow they keep doing it. 

For those of you with no constitution handy, the 4th amendment states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized

The second amendment is in part about self-defense but our founding fathers also wanted to be sure that citizens could protect themselves against a tyrannical government.  Should a ban be passed, all the pieces are then in place to subjugate the rights of the American Citizen and our Constitution.  Consider an assault weapons ban coupled with the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act.  (You can read about them at bordc.org).   Essentially, these laws allow the President to declare anyone a terrorist and suspend their constitutional rights.  Who knows, he may do it to me if this paper spreads far enough.  I sure hope not.  After all, there is another amendment, specifically, the 1st Amendment, that addresses this issue.  I have the right to speak out, to dissent, and to attempt to convince others to join me!

You know I can’t resist!  For those of you who don’t have your own copy of the constitution yet, the first amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

Will we become the next Weimar Republic?  Not if I can help it!

"To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them..." -Richard Henry Lee writing in Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republic (1787-1788).



Saturday, October 20, 2012

I. Have. Had. Enough!

So I've heard rumblings from the complaint department about the lack of posting lately.  It's not for lack of fodder, I assure you.  I've been sort of busy doing stuff I can't really talk about yet because it's not set in stone, but I don't want to disappoint my three readers so I will regale you with a tale...

For the past week, we have been hosting Lola while my sister and Music Man are overseas making music in Belgium and other various locales.  Lola, if you remember back, is their absolutely adorable long-haired miniature dachshund.  This is her as a puppy...

So cute.  But I digress.

Lola, as cute as she is, is in love with terrorizing my cats.  She does not have cats in her home so they are one of the novelties and best parts about staying with Auntie Mirth.  But she doesn't terrorize all of the cats, just the one.  See, The Hooligan has enough sense to make himself scarce.  He doesn't come out until after bedtime when Lola is safely kenneled.  He's surprisingly self preserving for a cat that is of questionable IQ.  The Antagonizer is flat out lazy and just refuses to run from Lola.  So while Lola would like to chase her, it's really hard to chase a furry lump that just lays there.  But Tiberius, oh Tiberius you poor thing, he runs like the devil himself is chasing him.  And maybe, just maybe, she is.

The typical situation plays out like this...

Tiberius is minding his own business, walking from one nap spot to another, when Lola spots him.  She immediately heads full bore in his direction.  Tiberius panics and starts running towards any perceived safety.  Lola follows, looking absolutely gleeful.  Around and around they go until either Tiberius figures out to jump up onto something tall enough that she can't follow or I am able to capture Lola and put her in time out in her coop (fenced in area in my kitchen.)  Lola calms down, gets released from prison and spots the cat again.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  All day long.

I've tried explaining to Tiberius that he doesn't need to run.  He outweighs her probably 2-1, he has longer arms and faster reflexes.  He clearly has the advantage.  But no, every day for four days we had the same scenario being played out.  Clearly something needed to change.  And it did.

On the fifth day, Tiberius was laying in the kitchen next to end of the cabinets.  Lola came around the corner, spotted him and immediately headed towards him at top speed.  But Tiberius just looked at her and didn't move.  She kept running but suddenly a really confused look crossed her face as she realized he wasn't running.  She hit the brakes.  Since she has furry feet and was on the tile, this just served to make her slide.  Right smack into the cat.  Who refused to move.

Lola scrambled to her feet and gave the cat a poke with her nose.  Tiberius responded by growling at her and raising a paw at her head.  She backed up, tilting her head in confusion at him.  He didn't get up and he didn't stop growling.  But he did put his paw down.

I figured we were done.  The cat finally figured out the secret to dealing with little skippy dogs that like to chase.  You don't run, they don't chase, everyone is happy.  But Tiberius wasn't quite done with his stand.

About fifteen minutes later I put Lola in her coop to eat her meal.  As a side note, I don't usually separate my dogs while they eat but Lola doesn't have a whole lot of sense in the dealing with other dogs department and doesn't realize that sticking your head into the dish of another dog could be dangerous.  I'd like to return her to her loving owners in one piece thank you very much.  So I separate her from them during meals.  Moving on.

So Lola has just been put into her coop to eat and I go sit on the couch about five feet away to catch up on some very important thing that the Internet has to offer.  About a minute later I hear a Thump! and look over to see that Tiberius has jumped into the coop with Lola.  Hmmm, this is interesting.  Wonder what's going to happen?  Apparently so did Lola as she backed warily away from Tiberius.

After looking at the dog for about fifteen seconds, Tiberius reached a paw out, hooked the edge of her food dish and pulled it towards himself.  He never broke eye contact with her while he did so.  Then he settled in and starting eating her food.  Lola sat in the corner looking very concerned.  After he had eaten enough, Tiberius stood up.  Lola cringed, but he wasn't going after her.  Instead, he reached his paw out again, hooked her water dish and dragged this towards himself.  He continued to stare at Lola while he got a good long drink.  Lola stayed in her corner.  Then the cat sat next to her food and water dish and stared at her until she lay down and looked away.  Then, and only then, did that rotten cat jump out of her coop and walk away.

Today is day eight and while Lola has attempted a few halfhearted runs towards Tiberius just to see if he'll run, it's been greatly reduced.  He doesn't run and she gives up.  Now she has moved on to trying to ferret out The Hooligan from his hiding spots.  The Hooligan, who spent his formative years attached to either of the dogs necks, doesn't prefer to be harassed so I'm sure it will be interesting if she ever actually manages to corner him.  Don't worry though, I've got lots of ice pack, plastic bags and a cooler...I'll try to save the severed limbs for re-attachment.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Book Week

So we're halfway through Banned Book Week and I haven't even mentioned it once.  Hmmm, I must be slacking on my game (a lot) lately. 

As an avid reader, this is a subject that's close to my heart.  I remember being appalled the first time I learned that people in towns across America still actually held book burnings.  I couldn't believe that people still felt the need to burn a book.  But evidently they do and so, an idea was born.  Since that time I have periodically (no pun intended) tried to add to the collection of books in my personal library at least a few books that have banned.  They don't need to be current books, in fact most of the books I have acquired have been what I would consider classic.  Think Dickens, Twain, Caldwell or Steinbeck.  At one time I started a list but it got so big that I kind of gave up on it (for now.)

The thing I figured out is that most books that have been banned aren't "bad" books, they are simply books that make some people uncomfortable.  The problem is that just because someone is made uncomfortable by something, it doesn't mean that the something is the problem.  So, I will continue to peruse the list of banned books in search of new reading material.  Or in search of old reading material that I just don't have on my shelf. 

I've put the list of 2011's ten most challenged titles below...two things should be noted: 

1.)  Brave New World should be required reading for every citizen of the US today and
2.)  Within the last six months, my child has read #3 (the trilogy) and #10.  I'm probably a bad mother, but I'm okay with that.

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
    Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence
  4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
    Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint
  7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit
  8. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit
  9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
    Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Reasons: offensive language; racism

Friday, September 28, 2012

Angelfish Babies

About a month ago, maybe a little longer, the angelfish in my tropical tank laid a bunch of eggs on a plastic plant.  For the record I do have real plants in this tank.  In fact, about half the plants in there are real and I'm working towards increasing that amount.  The real plants are lush, healthy and on the complete opposite end of the tank from the filter, which is the safest area in the entire tank.  I only mention all of this so you can understand my consternation at my fish for deciding to lay their eggs as close to the filter as possible and on the spindliest plastic plant they could find.  As expected with a first batch of eggs, these were unfertilized and the parents ended up eating them within about two days.

Fast forward to a week or so ago and I discover another batch of eggs from my angelfish.  Of course, my fish didn't get any smarter in the interim and ended up laying them in almost the exact location.  I figured there would be about a 50/50 chance of these eggs not being fertile as well so I wasn't getting too excited about them.  But by the end of the first day I realized that none of the eggs was turning white (which would indicate they were infertile.)  Then I realized that if in fact any of the eggs actually managed to hatch into fry, I had nothing to feed them.  Which in turn caused me to make a panicked trip to various stores in the area only to find out that none of them carries brine shrimp eggs anymore.  What the heck? 

By the second day, still no white eggs and mom and dad are vigorously defending the nest.  I had given up finding any brine shrimp eggs locally and went online to order some.  It wasn't until after I hit the "buy" button that I realized that he delivery date wouldn't be until some time next week.  Awesome.  So back to the store I went to try and find something to tide my babies over on the off chance they actually hatched into something. 

By the end of day two I notice the eggs appear to be vibrating.  It's kind of cool to watch the entire batch shimmy, but I try to avoid doing it frequently as it gets the parents wound up.

By day three I'm seeing little tiny tails hanging out of the eggs.  They are still vibrating and shimmying and I can also see two little eyes on top of their heads.  I want to hug them they are so cute.

Yesterday I noticed a few of the babies starting to launch off of the leaf.  This sends mom (or dad, I honestly can't tell the difference) into a frenzy of sucking up the wayward baby and spitting them back onto the leaf.  Kind of like when you chase your kid out of the pantry and set them back in the room where all their toys are repeatedly.  Apparently kids of all species pull the same stunt.  Anyway, they're not completely free swimming at this point but I knew they would be by today.

I got up this morning to see a cloud of babies swimming around their parents.  I fed the other fish at the opposite end of the tank and then put a little fry food in over the babies.  They came right up and started eating, which was awesome and short lived.  Mom (or dad) decided I was trying to poison their babies and proceeded to swim around sucking up the babies and spitting them away from the food.  What the hell mom (or dad)?  Eventually they gave up and let the babies feed, but it's been a repeat of this same procedure each time I've fed them today.

I don't know if any of the babies will actually survive to adulthood.  Their chances are pretty slim considering they're in a tank with multiple members, all of whom have mouths big enough to fit a baby in.  But you never know, one or two might survive.  And in the meantime, it's pretty cool to watch the parenting of the adults. 

So I don't know which fish is mom and which is dad, but you can see they are both parenting the fry which I think is pretty cool.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Update Post (because you can never get enough of those)

So yeah, where the heck have I been?  Apparently not on here, updating all three of my followers who actually read this.  I will set that to rights immediately...

Master J:  Well, the child is his own worst enemy.  He's enjoying his new school and sixth grade immensely.  Homework however, is the bane of his existence.  If his grades were solely dependent on his test scores, he would be a straight A student.  Because they are at least 40% dependent on his homework, he has two Cs.  Which kind of sucks.  Because the kid is in 7th grade math and reads at a 12th grade level, but he struggles to get his homework turned in on time.  And the worst part?  It's not that he doesn't do the homework, it's that he doesn't remember to turn it in.  Yeah, my brilliant child can't pull it together long enough to turn in the homework he did so he takes a 25% deduction in the grade.  Part of the issue is he is visual like me, if he can't see it he doesn't think he has it.  So we're trying a new thing where instead of putting his completed homework into the "turn in" folder, we've paper clipped it to the outside of the folder.  Voila!  Friday's homework got turned in.  We'll see if it continues.

Mister C and I are trying to do a real estate deal with my parents.  We want to buy their home that sits on over an acre and sell them our home that's low maintenance and would be extremely cheap for them to live in once my dad retires in a few months.  It's a win-win for both of us, if it all works out (knock on wood.)

At this point we're just waiting for the appraisal to be returned in order to qualify for the loan.  I was really hoping to hear by Monday, but the lender sent Mister C an email yesterday saying she expects it around October 10th.  I'm not sure in what universe it requires a full three weeks to get an appraisal report back but that's her version of events. 

Our gardens from this most recent season worked out well in some respects, not so well in others.  I finally harvested the last of the cantaloupes and pulled the vines out.  It looks a lot bigger back there all of a sudden.  I got rid of the cucumbers a few weeks ago, they pretty much sucked.  I only got two cucumbers that were edible, the rest of them went huge and yellow almost from the moment they appeared.  The watermelons did well and produced quite a few melons, but the heat got to them and they started rotting on the vine before ripening.  I pulled them all out a few weeks ago, but one new plant has started coming back.  The cherry tomatoes did really well, and one of them even reseeded itself so we have a new plant growing.  The red and green peppers really took off once we removed the dying tomato plants.  So far we haven't had any harvest ready peppers but I'm hoping we will soon.  The strawberries got pretty well overwhelmed by the cantaloupe and stopped producing, but the plants themselves look good and are continuing to vine out and get stronger.  I'm hoping they'll start producing again soon.  Still no luck from the berry patch.  The blackberry plants look fantastic but they haven't produced but one actual berry.  The raspberry plants look less good, they've struggled the entire time they've been back there.  They did produce three rather sour berries that did not please Mister C.  The blueberry plants are mostly not robust.  I pulled one of them out and potted it in the hopes of saving it.  It seems to be surviving, but not thriving.  The two grape vines are growing like crazy, they're all the way up the trellis and starting to curve over the top of the pergola.  There are currently five tiny bunches of grapes on one of the vines.  They are so adorable I want to pinch them, but I suspect that will not be a good thing.  And finally, we went ahead and planted two apple trees and a peach tree.  They are too young yet to be producing anything but they seem strong and managed to survive our brutal summer so I have hope.

In anticipation of our next growing season down here, I have started a bunch of seeds in my kitchen.  I am highly disappointed with the green bean seeds I bought as they have yet to start growing.  Since it's been a few weeks, I'm pretty sure they're duds and I'm going to have to restart some different ones.  Having said that, everything else seems to be trying.  The peas are at least four inches tall and the spinach, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes and onions are several inches high.  I have high hopes for a productive season.

The Jeep diet is still working, slowly but steadily.  I've now lost fourteen pounds and after sitting at a plateau for at least six weeks, I think I'm back on track.  I did a six week challenge of push ups, dips, squats and crunches that wrapped up about a month ago.  I was aiming to hit 100 push ups, 150 dips, 150 crunches and 200 squats.  The last day I did the challenge I managed 125 push ups, 175 dips, 175 crunches and 300 squats.  And then I went and whimpered about my hip hurting for the next two days.  I now try to incorporate a more moderate 25 of each exercise into at least three days a week.  And I've just started a couch to 5k running program.  It's ugly.  I suck at running big time, but I've found a walking trail that runs in the greenbelt and dead ends.  Nobody is ever on it because it doesn't go anywhere and all the houses that line it are one story.  So basically, nobody can see me dragging along and stumbling on air while I make my pathetic attempt at running (think zombie on meth and you have the general picture.)  I'm pretty sure the running will be a boost to my fitness quest, no matter how I look doing it.

I think that about wraps it up, I'm heading into get some breakfast. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night...

It's monsoon here in the valley of the sun.  Yay for the monsoon!  So far this week we've had two really nice storms come through and dump a good amount of water on our exceedingly dry, scorched earth.  Although gutters are still a little ways off, I was able to collect about thirty gallons of water just in buckets from yesterday's downpour.  And it was a downpour...

The worst of yesterday's storm occurred in the late evening.  Just in time for me to go over to my parent's house to take care of their two dogs for the last time before they went to bed for the night.  I was hoping for a reprieve from the rain at least long enough to run the dogs out, but I was denied this basic request.  When I pulled up in the driveway, the rain was fairly light.  By the time I walked in the house, locked the door behind myself, got the first dog out and opened the back door it had increased tenfold.

The first dog I took out was Desi, who apparently had a clue last night.  He stepped out into the rain, realized it sucked and hurried up with his business.  We were out there less than a minute.  Good boy Desi!

The second dog was Lucy, who had a different take on the rain.  She stepped out into the rain, looked like she realized it sucked....and then blinked a lot.  She stood there, blinking in the rain, for eternity.  I tried encouraging her to "hurry up!" but she seemed more concerned with running in circles on her leash and blinking.  Five minutes later she finally decided that she should probably take care of business and get out of the rain.  Not so good girl Lucy (frowny face).

With both dogs back inside, I headed out to put my chickens up for the night.  The girls were pretty much sleeping on their roost when I walked out anyway so it was just a matter of shutting them in the coop.  As I was moving the rock that holds the door open a huge flash of lightning lit up the entire area.  And I realized that I was standing in a ten by twenty metal cage that surrounds the largest tree on the property.  And I'm standing in water.  Yay me!

I head back to the house and lock everything up for the night.  At this point I'm pretty wet, but not completely soaked to the skin and all I have to do is get to the Jeep.  Except as I'm locking the front door I realize that it's Tuesday.  And garbage pickup is really early Wednesday morning.  Which means I have to put the garbage and recycling cans out tonight.  The cans that are currently in the backyard.  Ugh! 

I stand there for a second to try and think things through.  Now I realize pretty quickly that the very first thing I need to do is get my gun into the vehicle so I don't accidentally drop it in a mud puddle (not that it would hurt it as it's a revolver, but still).  In case you're wondering why I feel the need to carry a weapon to my parent's house, I've been taking it with me on the last run over at night because my folks live out where there is open desert backing to their property.  At night is when the predators come out and for sure we know there are coyotes and bobcats out there.  I've heard and seen the coyotes myself and at least one of the close neighbors has had a bobcat attack her dog on the back patio.  And lets face it, if I get confronted by some wild animal I am 100% sure that neither of those dogs is going to defend me.  A best case scenario is if I can hang on to the leash long enough to get dragged back to the house as they're running in fear.  So anyway, the gun needs to get to the dry interior of the Jeep before I go about my last task.  And then I need to get the cans from the backyard to the street.  Well, nothing to do except start I guess...

I push the unlock button and run to the driveway.  Toss my gun into the passenger seat and slam the door shut.  Then I really start moving.  From where I'm at, it's about forty feet to the back gate, it doesn't take long to get there but once I do, the latch decides this is a fantastic time to get clingy.  It takes me more than few seconds to get the gate open.  After it finally gives in, I fling the gate open but before I can get the cans, I must remove the barricade that my dad has put there to keep the rabbits out of his yard.  With a clear path finally available, I grab the first can, drag it through the gate and then leave it a few feet beyond.  I repeat the procedure with the second can.  After I have both cans out, I shut the gate, grab one can's handle in each hand and start moving towards the street.

By this time the rain is coming down in torrents, I can barely see five feet in front of me.  And the street is at least 100 feet away.  So I start running as fast as I can.  Which, considering I'm wearing a pair of Tevas, dragging two huge garbage cans and sliding around in the water, isn't very fast.  And then I hit the end of the driveway.  Did I mention that my folk's driveway ends?  It does.  Rather abruptly when you can't see I might add.  So then I'm not so much running as scrambling through the muddy mess in my Tevas, dragging my now even more cumbersome huge garbage cans whose wheels apparently don't like mud at all.  And I still can't see.  And the rain is actually coming down harder.

Eventually I find what I believe to be "close enough" that the garbage trucks can pick up in the morning.  But I can't just drop the cans and run, because they are backwards to the street.  They need to face the street in order to get emptied.  I grab the garbage can first and by half dragging, half rolling it I am able to get it somewhat pointing in the correct direction.  But now it's too far back from the road.  So I tilt it back on it's wheels in order to push it forward.  And that's when  gust of wind comes up and lifts the lid, rather rapidly, and slams it directly into my face.  I have to say here that while my reaction time is generally pretty good, it slows substantially when the same wind that blew the lid into my face is busy holding it there.  It was a good ten seconds before I could peel that stupid lid off my face and force it down onto the can where it belonged.  Thankfully the recycling can didn't give me as much trouble and I'm soon on my way back to the driveway and the relative comfort of my Jeep.

By the time I get there I am soaked completely to the skin.  My hair is completely drenched and hanging in my face.  My jeans and shirt are stuck to me like glue.  And I'm having trouble seeing because my eyebrows and lashes have five gallons of water each in them that's now streaming into my eyes.  Oh and the window is fogging over.  Perfect.

So I blast the heat (yeah, it's August in Phoenix, it's all good) and head home.  I would really like to drive faster than ten miles an hour but unfortunately the roads suck big time.  The dirt and gravel roads are like a mud bog, but the paved roads are actually worse because there are huge puddles across most of them.  At first I was like "Hell, I drive a Jeep!  Jeeps are meant to drive through puddles!  Screw you puddles, I'm driving a Jeep!"  This was quickly followed by "What the hell?  I can't see a damn thing when the water comes crashing over my windshield!"  So yeah, that worked out well.  Ten miles an hour it is.  Eventually I arrived home, dripping wet and looking like a drowned rat.  I give Mister C credit for holding it together when he got a look at me.  But I don't kid myself, I could totally see the grin he was holding back and the gleam in his eyes. 

So that's the story of the monsoon in Arizona.  And it's supposed to rain again tonight and tomorrow again as well.  Hopefully not until after I get home from taking care of the dogs.  But that would require some sort of good luck that I seem to be lacking in.