Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Yesterday was the latest multiple shooting here in the U.S. This one was in Washington D.C.
The shooter was a depressed, anxious and disgruntled young man whom authorities believe slipped across the state line into Virginia (where there are little or no state restrictions on buying guns) and bought this semi-automatic rifle:
It's called an AR-15. It was created for use in the American armed forces. It is excellent for battle because it is lightweight, easy to use and reload, and it can kill many people in a short period of time.
It is either illegal or very difficult for civilians to purchase and own in nearly all western countries.
But in the US, there are no federal restrictions on semi-automatic weapons like this one.
There is even a "Hello Kitty" version available for purchase here in the US
The AR-15 was used in many of our most famous recent American mass-shootings, and for good reason. It's an extremely efficient killing machine.
They are still gathering information about the latest shooter. But what they do know is he was a big fan of violent video games. "You could say he was obsessed with them," said one media personality. Literally every mass shooter has spend hour after countless hour obsessively playing them. In their minds, I think, they are literally "in training" for "the big day."
Speaking of violent video games and the media, Grand Theft Auto 5 came out recently, to little or no uproar or outrage by the media, or strangely, even by conservative family organizations.
Violent shooting video games like Grand Theft Auto are used by our military to train special forces units for battle. They do this very efficiently and realistically. It's kind of like how pilots train in those flight simulators. It's not much of a jump to go from the computer generated image to the real thing.
Anyway, each time Grand Theft Auto comes out with a new version, the news media basically gushes about how cool it is, and how fresh and realistic the effects are.
By the way, Grand Theft Auto isn't just about stealing cars and violent automatic weapon battles. It also features crack cocaine, rape and prostitutes.
Chris and I were in Roatan, Honduras when the Sandy Hook murder-suicide took place (that's what they are, by the way: these shooters to a man are despondent and suicidal, as are Islamic terrorists). That was the one where a couple of dozen children and teachers were killed. We happened to be traveling with several Canadians during this time.
The Canadians looked at Chris and I and asked with calm, sincere, clear-eyed honesty:
"Wow. What's going on in your country? Why doesn't anyone want to change things? How can you live this way?"
Well. It's kind of hard to explain...
The rest of the civilized world looks at us this way as well. They truly don't understand.
Anyway, this morning the news is showing politicians say that their "thoughts and prayers" are with the victims and their families. This is getting a bit tiresome.
To me, if you are a politician, and you take money from the NRA and you pass laws that make automatic weapons easily available to basically anyone, then you come on TV and say that your "thoughts and prayers" are with the victims and their families -- well -- I'll let you be the judge.
Another thing I'm tired of? The media asking: "How could this happen?"
We know how it happens -- and why. There is no more mystery to it.
The Randy Newman's song I Just Want You To Hurt Like I Do pretty much explains the mental/emotional state of these shooters:
If I had one wish, one dream I knew would come true;
I'd want to speak to all of the people of the world;
I'd get up there, I'd get up there on that platform;
I'd talk to the people, and I'd say:
'It's a rough, rough world -- it's a tough, tough world;
And things don't always go the way we plan;
But there's one thing we all have in common;
And it's something everyone can understand;
I just want you to hurt like I do;
I just want you to hurt like I do;
I just want you to hurt like I do --
Honest, I do -- honest, I do -- honest, I do.'
-- Randy Newman, "I Just Want You To Hurt Like I Do."
So I'm not watching the news today. Watching it -- well -- it tears a bloody hole in my gut.
And I don't want to hear the question: "Why do they do it?" anymore.
Because we know why they do it.
They do it because they can.
Monday, September 9, 2013
Chris and I are trying to live the "simple life" -- also known as the "economy plan."
One major component of life on the economy plan is the occasional visit to the Dollar Store (or the 99 Cent Store). If you haven't been to one lately, you really need to check them out. While (let's face it) alot of the stuff in there is crap -- there is also increasingly lots and lots of good quality items, including fresh produce.
I have friends and family who sniff their noses and raise their hands in a "thanks, but no thanks" gesture to the mere thought of darkening the door of a Dollar Store.
This is a bit foolish, in my opinion. I pop in at least once a month and stock up on pasta, brand name toiletries, canned goods, paper/stationary products, wrapping paper, and the aforementioned fruits and vegetables that are just as good as those at conventional stores, for a fraction of the price.
Having said that, though, there are certain items that you probably should not buy at the Dollar Store.
10) "Table Spread"
The science is clear: butter is still bad but worse yet is margarine. This mystery product "Table Spread" is probably at the bottom of the barrel. If you buy this it is pretty much guaranteed someone in your family will have a major heart attack in the next week. Don't do it.
9) Pregnancy Test
This definitely falls under the category of things you don't want to scrimp on. The pharmaceuticals at the Dollar Store have often passed their expiration dates. Anyway, I'm not sure which would be worse: a false positive or a false negative. I suppose it depends on your specific situation. Regardless -- you don't want to screw around in this department. Head on over to Walgreens instead.
8) Mystery meat processed foods
I don't know what this is. "Jamaican-style chicken patties." Whatever it is, it's not food, and I'm pretty sure Jamaicans should be offended. Take a look at that photo. Bleck. Seriously. Drop the box and keep on walking.
7) Motor Oil/Transmission Fluid
Now, I'm just a girl, and cars and car maintenance are all Greek to lil' ol' me...HOWEVER. It seems to me that generic, plain wrap motor oil may not be the way to go. Imagine if you took the plunge and poured the gallon of 99 cent motor oil into your car's thirsty engine, and the next morning your Mercedes keels over and dies. Coincidence? You'll never know, but it's best not to take the risk.
6) Cat Food
The same principle goes for the cat and dog food. Imagine if you gave your loving little feline some 99 cent kibble and the next morning they keel over and die. Coincidence? Again...you'll never know (well, let's face it -- you WOULD know, now, wouldn't you?). So -- it's best not to take the risk.
5) "Grape Spread"
This falls under the same category as "Table Spread." I'm not sure what "Grape Spread" is, but it's not Grape Jam and it's not Grape Jelly. And I'm pretty sure the #1 ingredient is High Fructose Corn Syrup -- but I was too scared to actually look at the label. Stick with Smuckers.
4) Hair Color
Again, here is an area where you really don't want to screw around. Home coloring is daunting enough as it is. Also, as a rule I don't use hair color products that play around with the spelling of the word "Easy" as in this "ColorEazy." This is not a game, people. This is hair color. It's as serious as a heart attack and definitely not "Eazy."
Anyway, this product may be perfectly fine, but for obvious reasons I will never spend the 99 cents to find out.
3) Diet Pills
I don't know. We probably shouldn't be buying diet pills anyway, because they never work, and they're always a rip-off. So diet pills that have passed their expiration date (which is what you would get at the 99 cent store) are not even worth the 99 cents you pay for them. I'd just stick with diet and exercise.
2) Snack Cakes
Seriously, people. They call them "Devil Squares" for a reason -- and that "Little Debbie?" She is not your friend, and she is trying to kill you. This crap is trans-fat/high fructose corn syrup heaven. Don't do it. Keep on walkin.'
1) Egg Salad Sandwiches
Yeesh! 'Nuff said. :-/
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
A mountain lion has been prowling the streets of
Green Valley Lake the last few weeks
There's a story going around town that someone actually saw a mountain
lion kill a coyote and singlehandedly haul it up a tree, where he proceeded
to tear the animal apart limb from limb and eat him for dinner. Hmmmm.
In my opinion, a GVL.snopes.com check of this one would come up
"unsubstantiated." But the rumor is out there.
We've also heard about another attack --
this one resulted in the fatality of a small dog.
"Gooooooooood kitty. Sweet little, goooooood little kitty..."
The risk of a human being killed or attacked is pretty small.
We're certainly not going to stop going for walks or hikes
around our beautiful mountain town.
Our friend Dennis had this wood carving of a majestic cougar commissioned
and placed it in the front yard of his Green Valley Lake home. The artist says
that this is "life sized." Yikes. Anyway, Dennis has named his new cougar
statue "Demi Moore." Cute. :-}
Anyway, mountain lions aside, there are certain inherent risks
to living in a place as remote as Green Valley Lake.
This humorous sign adorns the home of a Green Valley Lake Cabin.
But never fear -- black bears, while they are certainly around,
rarely attack or eat humans. As for the second part, I honestly have no idea if
humans taste like chicken...and I hope I never have to find out.
Another risk out here -- injury and no medical care nearby.
Chris suffered a pretty serious gash
to the forehead over the weekend while helping our new neighbors
tear down a fence. It was a spurting, bloody mess. This photo is off
of the internet because Chris didn't want me to photograph his actual
wound. But trust me, it was about this bad (but closer to his hairline --
his hair will cover the scar). A 35 minute drive
to the nearest Urgent Care down the hill and 21 stitches later,
we're grateful his baby blue eyes were spared. :-)
Other little known risks:
Crazed attack chickens. This is our friend Carl's chicken coop.
Trust me. You don't want to rile these guys up. They'll peck you to death!
Theoretically you could get run over by a train.
This sign is next to the GVL meadow.
While I've never seen any trains or railroad tracks, one never knows.
Best to stay alert.
There is a gorilla behind Dave Burt's Family Hut.
I'm pretty sure it's plastic, but I've never gotten close enough
to know for sure. You don't want to mess with gorillas.
They'll tear you limb from limb.
Another risk: angry, gun-toting neighbors.
For the most part we all get along well out here,
but just in case, we'd best treat each other with kindness and respect.
And don't trespass without express permission.
Breaking and entering is always a concern. The trick is to make perspective burglars believe that someone is home, so they move on to the next house to do their nefarious business. Some people use motion activated lights, but I like the idea of our neighbors, shown in the photo above. See the cake in the window in the lower right? FAKE. It's a completely fake cake! So you think someone's home!
Of course, we need always be on the alert for fire.
This photo is merely a fiery sunset, thankfully. But we stay alert, always.
OK, now, see if you can tell me what this is.
I saw this cloud formation about a week ago. Kinda weird, right?
It got worse...horrifying, right?
It continued rolling and rumbling across the sky for several minutes
before dissolving spontaneously, leaving behind just another peaceful forest sunset.
What-EVER. I have no idea what in the hell that thing up in the sky was.
But the good news is, despite some wild animals and even wilder weather, we're a tight knit community, and we take care of each other. And all in all, these risks are pretty small, and worth taking for the beautiful life we are blessed to enjoy up here
at Green Valley Lake.
Green Valley Lake: it's the water --- and alot more. :-)