Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Gun Violence

It's all the topic on the news today, as the Senate holds hearings on gun violence.

It is a long running, ongoing and endless debate.  It incites fear, strong emotions, even paranoia. 

"Your guns are killing our kids!'

"Don't take my guns away!"

"The second amendment protects us from an evil government!"  
I always love this one.  As if the weapons provided for by the second amendment could stand up to tanks and rocket propelled grenades.  The government has bigger guns, folks.  Your weapon is the ballot box.

We haven't come up with the answer because the answer is complex, and it costs money.

First there's the issue of mental health care.  We don't have enough, we don't reach the ones who need it, and our psychiatric wards are most often the streets. More care requires more money, and more money means higher taxes.  We don't like taxes.

Parenting is an issue.  Kids aren't supervised, advised, or even loved enough.  Paying attention takes time and energy.  Many adults don't have enough of either.  Poverty plays a role here too.  We could use more family services, but more services require more money.  That means higher taxes, and we don't like taxes.

Law enforcement is an issue.  People feel the need to have guns for their own protection because police response is too slow or non-existent.  Those guns usually end up killing the innocent. We have gun laws on the books now that are not being enforced.  But more law enforcement requires more spending. More spending means higher taxes.  We don't like taxes.

But, contrary to what the NRA's Mr. LaPierre says, it is the guns too.  There are too many in circulation.  Gun shops can't keep up with the demand right now, as fear mongers drive gun rights folks to buy more and more.  They are stocking up on large quantities of ammunition too.  It's scary.   

Confession time - I was  member of the Junior National Rifle Association when I was in high school.  I took rifle lessons.  It was fun to shoot guns.  I was good at target shooting and had medals to prove it.  I also grew up in a family and a community of hunters.  The meat helped to feed our family.

Nobody I knew needed an assault rifle and multiple round clips for hunting, though.  It is supposed to be a sport after all.  Why does anyone need these now?

When my kids were in high school they lost a good friend to suicide.  The young man was a talented athlete and a gifted student.  He shot himself with his own .22 rifle.  Nobody ever knew why, except that perhaps he had a fascination with death.  With a gun, taking his own life was just too easy.

Recently a young man was interviewed from prison, where he will spend all of his productive years.  He killed another young man because he was roughing up his brother.  He wishes now he had never had a gun.  It was too easy to kill, and he destroyed his life as well as the one he took.

We are an armed society.  Are we really safer because of it?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Busting Out

Sometimes you just have to get out there.
Cabin fever sets in and you say, "What the heck.  A little wind and rain and cold can't stop me".  And besides, that's what all those layers of fleece and Gortex are for, right?
 If your're going to be out in the weather, you might as well go where it makes it's strongest impact - out by the Sound.  In this case, the Des Moines Marina.
Oh, Bouy, it was chilly.
 But our feathered friends found it just ducky.
Our Sunday "outside" outing was brief, but refreshing.  And then we went in search of some antique shops to prowl for a while.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Oscar Nominated Movies for Best Picture

In my recent senior years, with time on my hands, and enough cash to be comfortable, I have set January and February as movie time.  After the Acadamy Award nominations are out, I set out to see as many of the best picture movies as I can.  

There are nine nominated movies this year, and so far I have seen seven of them.  Last night, after coming home from watching Zero Dark Thirty I opened a Word document and began typing my reaction to those I have seen so far.

Argo – A very realistic depiction of a real life event during the Iran hostage crises.  Suspenseful and tightly enacted.  Good acting, great attention to detail in set design, costuming, period details. 

Beasts of the Southern Wild- Heartbreaking and heartwarming story of Mississippi Delta People in their primitive culture, as they survive, of not, Hurricane Katrina.  Six year old Quvenzhana Wallis as Hush Puppy steals your heart from the opening moments on.

Les Miserables – The non-musical musical, in operatic style, is an epic in storytelling, staging and stardom.  It’s a great story of kindness and cruelty, vengeance and forgiveness, courage and lost causes.

Life of Pi-  A spectacle of a movie, amazing cinematography, wonderful storytelling, great acting of the character Pi.  While many comment on the spiritual nature of the film, the message for me was revealed in the end, that survival of the fittest is acceptable in animals, but not in humans.  Thus we invent the story we can live with.

Lincoln – I hung on every eloquent word of this historical enactment of the abolishment of slavery.  Lincoln was a master politician, and spurred on by others with a strong moral compass, achieved what was nearly impossible.  A message for today: It takes courage, and a bit political chicanery, Mr. President. This was an important movie.

Silver Linings Playbook – A good movie, but not a great movie, wonderfully acted.  Two deeply flawed but very good people find their way back from the depths of despair and self-destruction by finding each other and the silver linings that life has to offer if you work for them.

Zero Dark Thirty – My fear of too much violence was assuaged by storytelling that was so tightly scripted, directed, acted and depicted that I was left in awe.  One’s reaction may be determined by one’s political persuasion, but if you watch it in the apolitical and non-judgmental tone in which it was intended, it is an amazing piece of storytelling that has your full attention for the entire two and a half hours.

Yet to see: Django Unchained, Amour.
We'll see Django this week.  We may not go to see Amour.  It just came out here in limited release, and it is in French with English subtitles.  Reading all of the dialogue is so much work.

So what is my favorite so far?  #1-Lincoln; #2,3 &4, in no order - Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty, Argo.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Surviving the Winter

I do feel a bit ashamed of using the word "survive" in my title, given what I saw on the national news yesterday about what victims of Hurricane Sandy are still suffering through.  I have an intact house, heat, and comfort.  And now that the freezing fog has departed, the weather isn't even bad.  Sorry for sending the storm your way, east coast.

But January is a drag here in Puget Sound Country, and unless you spend it on one long ski vacation, or head south like a snowbird, it can be tough to get through. 

But now the end of January is in sight!  I just scheduled a doctor appointment for a week from Monday, and it's in FEBRUARY!  

So what have I been doing in my "survival" mode?  Obviously I haven't found much to blog about.  I did enjoy the presidential inauguration Monday, and I'm doing my best to ignore those things I see on Facebook that are posted by the Haters. Wow.  What ignorant trash!  

I have been faithfully exercising almost every day, but weight loss has been sabotaged by the need for comfort food in the form of latte's and chocolate.  At least I'm not gaining weight.  

I have been enjoying reading books on my new Kindle.  The other day I finished a book and picked up a real book off the shelf that I had purchased some time ago and not read yet, but then I put it back and ordered up another Kindle edition.  It's so easy to hold on the exercise bike.

We have been working on our Oscar nominated movies list.  We'll watch one on TV On Demand tonight, and tomorrow evening we'll go see Zero Dark Thirty.  I think that leaves just two, Django Unchained and Amour.  Since Amour just came out, and is in French, we may skip that one.  I guess I'll have to do a post ranking the movies based on my choices next week.

I have not been very productive, but I seem to be busy anyway - just surviving winter, I guess.  Next week I'm going to get back to sewing.  Maybe then I'll need less chocolate.

What is wonderful is that at 5:00 this afternoon it was still daylight.  It helps that we had a clear afternoon, and I got to walk in the sunshine!

And now we're headed out to dinner.  Just surviving winter.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Respite From the Fog - Part II

Yep, it's still foggy here in the low lands, although I hear it is sunny and warm up on the mountain ski slopes.  That's what a temperature inversion does for you.

There was some good news today though.  Barack Obama was inaugurated for a second term.  The first and second families looked good.  I'm still waiting to see the ball gown.

It looks like Seattle will be getting an NBA team back - good news for us is bad news for Sacramento. 

I had lunch with old teacher friends - yes, both old as in long time friends, and old and in "old", like me.

Tom and I spent the rest of the afternoon looking at houses for sale with Jill and Corey and the kids.  The house they were hoping for has been turned over to another bank, and the short sale stuff may have to start all over again.  Not good news.  Very discouraging.

And now the other part of our Saturday outing - lots of photos of a great place to get relief from the fog, the Volunteer Park Conservatory.

Outside the glass house, we strolled around the wonderful old park.
 There was no view of the space Needle through the sculpture over the reservoir today.

 The Museum of Asian Art.

 The water tower.  
 Stately homes surround the park.
 Wonderful old trees fill the park.

Tom is always on the lookout for cones off exotic trees.

Looks like we'll keep the fog until the rain comes on Wednesday.  I may need to go sit in the green house. :)