Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Thirty Days With A Gun Thing

So, Heidi Yewman, an anti gun activist, spent a month carrying a gun. I will give her full credit for trying it, because it's something not many would try.

She set out, near as I can tell, to prove that it's a bad idea for someone with no training and no idea of what they're doing with a pistol to carry a gun. I think everyone agrees on that. The conflict comes in with this simple idea: Gun owners in general do not want to force anyone else to own and carry a gun. Anti-gun activists want to force people not to own and carry a gun. I'm gonna excerpt from her article (you can read the whole thing here if you haven't already)

"I thought the gun would make me feel more powerful, more confident, and less fearful. I was wrong. All I felt was fear. Physically taking the gun out of the safe and putting it in a holster on my hip literally reminded me that I was going out into a big bad scary unsafe world. There were days when I put the gun back in the safe and stayed home because it simply took too much energy to be scared. It was easier to be at home without the worry and responsibility of being “the good guy with the gun.” My awareness of looming tragedy was abundant. If I had to pull the trigger, my life, the person I shot, both of our families, and all who witnessed it would be changed forever."

Ok, I can agree with Heidi that putting a gun on is a pretty physical reminder of the fact that you're going into a society in which someone might decide to hurt you. It is a scary, unsafe world, but it doesn't get any less unsafe if you aren't reminded of it and don't think about it. People call that "condition white" meaning you're completely unaware of your surroundings and reality. It's that kind of blissful ignorance that leads people with their iPod earbuds in to walk into the middle of a gunfight between law enforcement and criminals. You're not any safer, when you don't acknowledge danger, no matter how many Coyote vs Roadrunner cartoons you cite for proof that if you just don't look down, you won't fall.

"I felt a huge sense of relief the day I got rid of the gun. I no longer had to worry that my teenagers or their friends would use my gun when I wasn’t home. I didn’t have to worry that I would be in a situation where I would make a choice about taking another life. I didn’t have to worry that my gun would be stolen out of my car and then used to murder someone. And I didn’t have to worry that one day I would get a diagnosis or have a personal crisis and have a gun on hand to turn on myself."

Now, a few times in the article she mentions being responsible about the gun. I have a bit of a problem with that phraseology. If she were responsible, she would have gotten training. If she were responsible, she would have had a safety discussion with her teenagers, not hidden the gun away and prayed they wouldn't find it, or figure out how to get into the safe. If she were responsible, she would have done more than put the gun in the glove box to protect it when she had to leave it in her vehicle. The point of her experiment was to do the absolute minimum, I get that, but you don't get to set out to do the minimum and then call yourself "responsible" when you do no more than that. 

Sure, a lot of places it's easy to get a concealed carry permit and a gun. It's also easy to get a driver's license and a car. You don't even have to have a driver's license to own a car, just the money to pay for it. There are no background checks, and if you can see over the steering wheel and see the pedals, and aren't obviously somewhere around the age of ten, no one thinks twice about you driving your car down the street. And yet. 

Thousands of pounds of steel and flammable fuel, in the hands of anyone with the money to lay down. It's even a lot easier to kill someone with a car than with a bullet, when it comes down to it. You have to practice being accurate with a gun. We routinely hand sixteen year olds these dangerous, fastmoving devices, with a bare minimum of training. If we're lucky, they have Driver's Ed in one form or another, but they're not required to do so. If we're not, they pass a written exam that they forget the questions and answers to the second they don't need them, and spend fifteen minutes with a tester in the car, and then they get a piece of plastic that says they're "safe" to drive. No background checks, no waiting period, nothing.

Why don't we hear more about people going berserk and running someone down with their car? Why don't stories of teenagers being stupid and wrecking cars and killing people get more attention? Because nobody wants to ban cars. In my county, there have been more people killed in car accidents than with guns.... well I don't have the statistics to hand, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say "ever." 

That's not to say it doesn't happen here. It does, but I can remember two incidents of gun violence off the top of my head, one of which no one died in. I can name seven teenagers off the top of my head who lost their lives to vehicular stupidity. And that's only in my county. 

And as for having that gun there to kill yourself with... if you really want to kill yourself? You're going to find a way. The gun may make a simple tool for it, but it's not the gun that causes it. Out of three suicides (again off the top of my head) only one used a gun, and it wasn't an ease-of-access issue since he took himself, and the gun, to a remote location and made a couple of phone calls before he did it. If it were a matter of "I'm sad, there's a gun in the house, therefore I'm going to kill myself now," he wouldn't have gone elsewhere. If he hadn't had access to a gun he'd have made a different choice. 

For myself, I've thought about the realities of owning and carrying a gun. I consider the gun a tool, like any other. And a tool is useless if it's sitting at home when you need it. I carry a pocket knife and keep a jack, spare tire, tire iron, and even jumper cables in my car. I don't expect to have a flat or a dead battery every day. I don't expect to need to cut something every ten minutes (though being a farm and ranch girl, sometimes it seems like I actually do.) 

I don't expect to injure myself all the time (though, being me, sometimes it seems like I actually do...) but I keep first aid kits handy. What does this have to do with carrying a gun, you may ask?

Simple. Every single one of them is a tool or set of tools that I might need, or just might save my life, that are only used when something happens to require them.

I don't go into every day thinking that someone is going to attack me and force me to shoot them (yes, force me, I do not ever want to have to make the decision to end another life... I have however come to the conclusion for myself and by myself that given the choice between my life and theirs, when attacked, I can and will do so) but I have that tool there in case I need it. 

I don't bash people's heads in with my tire iron or stab them with my pocket knife or electrocute them with my car battery and jumper cables or strangle them with the gauze from a first aid kit. I also don't stab them in the eye with a pencil, run them over with my car, hit them with hammers, poison them with bleach or a dozen other household chemicals that are easily deadly or disfiguring, punch them in the temple or snap their necks.

I don't go into dangerous situations just because I'm armed. If I get into a situation that makes me uncomfortable I still try to get out of it first. I walk away, drive to a different part of town, or find a more populated area. I stick with the people I know in unfamiliar surroundings and I don't go off with strangers. But if the odds beat me, and statistics says they certainly can, and all else fails, I have a recourse to defend my life and my person. 

Heidi, you carried a gun for thirty days, and you were terrified of it. You had no idea what you were doing with it and you made some dumb mistakes because you didn't know any better. And yet, you still managed to go thirty days without shooting anyone, getting shot, having your kids get shot, or really anything dire happening. And you were reminded that the world is not a safe place, and paid more attention to your surroundings, realized that a situation could have been dangerous when you might not have paid any attention to it before. I call that a good thing. Not that you were scared, but that you were paying attention. The next step is to learn to pay attention and assess the situation, and then decide whether or not to be scared. 

Because that man you talked about on the stairs behind you? He didn't know you were carrying a gun. He happened to be just a guy walking down the stairs. But if he hadn't been, if he'd actually intended to attack you, and you hadn't been more alert because of the gun, would you have even noticed him? Would you have had a chance to remove yourself from that situation before it got to the point where he had you on the ground, or would you have ignored him until he grabbed you?

Because there is a happy medium between "condition white" and terror-stricken paranoia. It consists of knowing that the world is not safe, and taking each set of conditions and each encounter as an individual thing, and deciding how safe or unsafe it is. It involves a lot of skull sweat until you get into the habit, and it's really easy to fall out of that habit, so you have to remind yourself a lot, but for myself, I'd rather see the danger coming and have a chance of getting myself out of it than pretend that it's all sunshine and rainbows and get blindsided. 

But, that's my choice, and everyone else is free to make their own. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Tiny Tim and Odd Tornado

For anyone who might be wondering how Tiny Tim is doing, well, here he is today:

Photo is of the "back" side relative to Concerned Worm because that's where the most greenery is. I assure you Concerned Worm is still concerned. Anyway, I'm learning a lot taking care of this little tree and encouraging it to grow. I did let it get a little dry and it dropped all the leaves, which made me very sad, but a little TLC and paying more attention to the watering and as you can see the leaves came back. The Tea Tree is happy enough to be flowering and making berries again, so I must be doing something right. 

In the near background there you can see my latest experiments in cuttings from the fruit trees at the farm (just ignore the further background, the living room is a mess.) Took those a couple days ago and stuffed em in some water and rooting hormone, several cuttings from each tree (ok I only took a couple from mystery trees, but I got several mulberry and several from the known pear tree that DOES produce) so hopefully some of them will survive. 

I tried the cut off a chunk and stick it in dirt and hope method a while back, but the only things to survive (out of a bunch of cuttings) were two of the mulberries. Sort of. They're not completely dead yet. But they're not exactly thriving. We'll see how they do from here on out, but that's why we've moved on to a different method this time. I'm pretty sure the wind didn't help on the others, but since these aren't in dirt and are smaller cuttings which would be prone to flying away, they're living on the plant table with Tiny Tim at least till we see what they'll do. 

There are a few reasons I'm wanting so badly to get cuttings from the fruit trees at the farm going. One is that mom and dad would like to plant more of them, and since Mamaw was a plant nut we already had a lot of what we needed, just had to buy soil, which makes it a lot cheaper (even with a lot of failures) to propagate cuttings than to buy trees. Another is, again, the bonsai thing. Come on, tiny fruit trees? That's just neat. And not at all least, since I'm going to wind up away from the homestead, little potted clones of the trees from the farm and ranch will let me take a piece of the homestead with me. 

And, I'll always be able to remember the day I gathered the cuttings, since we stopped by to see the horses while we were in the vicinity to get some cuttings from different mulberries and the pear tree that Farmdad's horse Thunder used to stand on his hind legs to reach the high branches to pull fruit off of. I had my bucket of water for the cuttings in the back of the pickup, and Etta is... well she's a snoop. She's always checking the bed of the truck for goodies, any time we stop by. So of course she checked it out this time and lo and behold a bucket of water! 

Deciding that it must be for her she drank most of it while I was loving on Joan. Then I got a water bottle (she likes the way the plastic bottles crinkle and make noise) to distract her. She didn't want to take it and play with it so I took off the cap and let her sniff it. By the time we were done with that game I nearly had her drinking from the bottle, but I still had to stop by the tank and refill my bucket. Thankfully we visited the horses first or she'd have eaten all my cuttings!

Then on the way back to the homestead, after gathering cuttings in the rain (glorious rain!) we saw something odd in the rear view and thought it was a fire from a lightning strike, so we hustled up to the house to drop off the cuttings since we were nearly there, and were about to head back to help out when we realized it wasn't a fire:

But a tornado. A small one, but very odd. You can't really tell from this picture but it's on the trailing edge of the storm, when tornadoes normally form on the leading edge (in fact one did form on the leading edge of this same storm, south and east of us.) It's also moving south and east instead of north and east, throwing two "this is what tornadoes do" rules out the window. It wasn't big enough to do much damage, though I'm sure any crops it went over didn't appreciate it much.

Farmmom and I stood around and watched it till it dissipated, taking pictures and enjoying the bit of cool down from the rain that came before it. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stupid Body, Anyway

I may have whined here before about how much fun it is for me to maintain my weight. If I haven't, the short version is that I have a very high metabolism and sometimes it's actual work to eat enough to keep from losing weight.

Anyone who wants to scream at me for whining about that (and those of you struggling to lose weight I hear the build up starting from here) can do it on their own dime. I'm not saying that my weight issues are bigger, smaller, harder, easier or anything-ier than anyone else's. That doesn't change the fact that they exist and sometimes they suck, and combined with mental issues created by years of school officials and doctors trying to convince me I actually had an eating disorder and that's why I'm skinny it can make for some rough moments inside my head. (As a brief aside, have you seen the eating disorder scare tactic pictures they use? Spend four or five years with them shoving those anorexic skeletons in your face trying to get you to admit to an eating disorder you don't have, during formative body-image years, and it'll give you baggage to carry for a nice long time too.)

That being said I'm mostly ok with it now. I pretty much only lose my mind about it when I've actually lost weight, and when I remember to manage things correctly that doesn't happen too often.

Part of managing things correctly is listening to my body. If I'm craving something I figure there's a reason, most of the time. Now, I'm not saying that every time I'm craving chocolate is because my body needs it, mind you, but when I've been out in the sun all day and holy crap I want some salty chips it's because I need the salt.

That can happen with other more complicated things too, so I try to listen to my body. Unfortunately sometimes my body is a retard. Or maybe a two year old. It's like every once in a while I have this conversation:

Body: I'm craving something!

Me: Ok, what do you want?

Body: Something!

Me: Specifically, what are you craving?

Body: Something specific!

Me: Seriously just tell me what you want and I'll get it for you.

Body: Stuff!

Me: You've got to be shitting me. Well you're telling me we've got the munchies so we're just going to have some Cheetos and move on. If you figure out what you want let me know.


Me: Jesus, fine, stop throwing the stomach around we won't have Cheetos. Make a suggestion.

Body: Snacks!

Me: Oh for fuck's sake. Chocolate chip muffin.


Me: Ok fuck you we're not eating anything, we had lunch, we'll be fine.

Body: Buuut muuunchhiiieeessss

And so on and so forth, until either I figure out what my body is craving or say to hell with it and gorge on something else until it can't possibly send hunger signals.

Fuck you, whiny body, fuck you very much.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


We've been thinning out some trees at the farm and pruning and trying to help them be healthier. So I thought, especially when Farmmom told me we'd be pruning the fruit trees, why not try a few cuttings?

Because I'm still liking the bonsai (Tiny Tim is doing well, he got a little dry and lost all his leaves but they came back and he's already blooming again) I decided to see if I could get some bonsai fruit trees going.

Especially the mulberry. Because tiny mulberry tree!

Anyway, mom was for it since we might be able to jump-start some more trees that way and save having to buy them. I've got several cuttings in pots outside now and they're looking pretty sad but they're still alive, so fingers crossed that they root out.

I've been reading a bonsai blog or two though and one is definitely my favorite, not just for the author's way of explaining things that makes odd concepts simple but for the massive amounts of pictures and his willingness to answer questions.

He posted some photos today and had one in there that perfectly sums up what Farmmom and Farmdad feel about my bonsai stuff, and I just had to share:

All credit to Adam, click the link to go to his blog if you're interested. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Is a wonderful thing.

Like I said earlier, though I am the most horrible person alive once a day, they forgive me pretty quickly. And Fluffernutter is one of the first, and most generous with his forgiveness, because lap and belly rubs. He's out cold.

You can see some of the bald from the ringworm under his chin... the thin coat on his underside is NOT representative of the rest of him, not any more anyway, it just hasn't caught up to the furball that the rest of him is swiftly becoming. Pot-bellied furball. 

On a Lighter Note

So, kittens are quarantined to the living room away from the dogs, because ringworm. We tried topical cream for a while but it just wasn't kicking it in the butt so we've switched to a medicated wash, which means daily baths, which means I am the most awful person in the world once a day. (On the really bright side today is day two and I'm already seeing a difference, thankfully, because poor Grey is just covered)

But, being kittens, by the time they dry off they've forgiven me. Or maybe it's just because I'm their only interaction outside each other, now. Either way, they want to play.

And they've discovered the joys of the laser pointer.

Now, I haven't been able to get all three of them going on it at once, or even two. They seem to figure that one at a time is enough.

But, they will lay in ambush for the one playing with the pointer.

Just a minute ago I was playing with Fluffernutter and Grey was paying no attention whatsoever, and I ran him by her, because kittens and laser pointers.

She startled, then sat up with both front feet of the ground and whacked him once, then put a foot on his head like she was holding him down.

First thought that came into my head?

"Calm down, Beavis, you're never going to catch it anyway."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Mail Order Jesus

Ok, let me preface this by saying that my belief system is my business, and yours is your own, and I really don't care what you believe as long as you don't try to force me to believe it as well or otherwise intrude your beliefs on my life.

The folks I'm about to talk about have (just barely, to be fair) crossed over that line.

In the mail came an envelope pretty well covered in print, clearly from a religious organization, clearly soliciting new believers. I'm not going to name the church involved, if you recognize it from mailings you've gotten I'd appreciate your keeping it to yourself because what I'm talking about here is mistreatment of a position of respect (church, Church, clergy, etc) and exploitation of beliefs in general. I'm reasonably certain that somewhere in this organization are people who honestly believe in the things that they're doing, who are good people and truly want to help others. Since I expect people to respect the fact that I have my own belief system, I cannot, under my own morals, impugn theirs. Specific acts? Sure. Disagree with their system? Absolutely. But out of respect for those who aren't using the system for their own ends, I'm not going to paint a big sign saying "THIS CHURCH IS ENTIRELY FRAUDULENT."

Got it? Good.

Moving on. In this mailing, it's pretty well a packet, there were several things. One of them is a printed "prayer rug." On the back it tells you how if you kneel on this rug (or have it touching both of your knees) and pray upon your needs, while looking into the closed eyes of the image of Jesus printed upon the paper, you will know that Jesus has heard your prayers, because his eyes will open.

Time out, take a step back, examine this paper "prayer rug" (I'm sorry if it is made out of paper it is not a rug, that's why the quotes) and see what they're talking about.

Well, it's pretty vague around the eyes. they certainly look sort of closed but not definitively closed, and there's quite a bit of shading on the eyelids in the image... and if you unfocus your eyes just a bit, sort of like when you're looking for the 3-d squirrel riding a lawnmower to jump off the page... yep, there it is. Subtle, but there, just an impression of iris on the eyelids that, given time, would make the brain see open eyes. Optical illusion.

From this point on, I gotta tell you, I was looking for the "Send money!" To be fair, there isn't any request for donation or anything like that in this letter. They just want you to pray on the rug, tuck it into a Bible at a specific passage, or if you don't have a Bible, under your side of the bed, if you can, if you can't it's ok, overnight then send the rug and the sheet on which you mark your prayer needs back.

There's some indication that once they receive your prayer sheet and rug (which they'll send out to another family because they need it! This bugs me because it strikes me as an attempt to convince people that you're giving them access to a genuine holy article rather than a mass produced image on paper. If you've prayed over it and your beliefs make it holy, fine, but I'm far from convinced that getting more is any more than a matter of placing an order at the printer and possibly having a priest or a group of laymen say a prayer over a pallet) they'll send you a blessed-by-prayer cross which will bring you good fortune.

So far, slightly distasteful to me but nothing really crossing the line. To me what crosses the line between probably honest religion slinging and scamming on the part of those in charge is the "Prophesy" that is also in the envelope. That you're only supposed to unseal (it's got a sticky-dot on it holding it closed) after you send the prayer rug and the needs-sheet back in.

In other words after you've concentrated on your own personal problems so that they're at the forefront of your mind.

This "Prophesy" goes on for a full page in appropriately vague terms about how God will guide you to proper decisions for the benefit of your future through prayer. "Even now, you are facing a decision that must be made." Well that certainly covers everyone in the world.

At the front is a little blurb about how the prophesy is given through inspiration from the Holy Spirit, but the whole is written in the first person. Not "God says" but "I say." A bit about how the power to speak blessings into your own life is in you, and how you must learn to use this power.

Well, that could go a couple of ways. Either the wish-fulfillment version of prayer, or it could be interpreted as a push to stop looking outside yourself for solutions and do everything you can for your own self to improve your life.

My problem here is that this all seems to be aimed towards planting a seed in the mind, that can be fertilized later (when they send out the cross?) to cause a person to interpret any good thing that happens to them in the interim as stemming from the prayer rug, or the actions surrounding it. Like I said, no request for money in this batch, but my cynical mind sees it on the horizon.

To me, this is all very reminiscent of fortune tellers that perform in front of a group. They grope blindly with vague allusions until someone, wanting to believe, sees something of themselves in what is being said. Then they proceed to work on that person, to the ultimate goal of making them believe that the fortune teller is really what they say they are, and then getting money.

Like I said, for all I know there are people in this process that truly believe they are helping others by sending out these letters. But I would bet my own money that somewhere in the process, someone is living quite nicely off of this process who doesn't believe a word of it.

That's what I mean about misuse. Someone in charge there is using their position to make themselves richer, or more powerful. They're deliberately preying on people who, in these days, may not see a recourse other than prayer to help them out of a bad situation. I'm reasonably certain that if I were to send the prayer rug and the needs page back, and go through the process, I would get to the "give us money" portion of the process, but I'm not going to do that.

Because by my lights, exploiting the process for my own entertainment, if there's even a chance that there are people who honestly believe, is wrong.

If someone believes in Bubbah, god of beer and plenty, the fact that I don't doesn't make me any more right than they are. It doesn't mean that I get to tell them what they should believe. And if someone doesn't have any religious beliefs, but does have a belief in say, string theory, the same goes. The belief itself is not any less valid because another person shares it, or doesn't. Neither can be proven at this point, so to me, they stand on equal footing.

I just detest people who manipulate for their own gain, along with people who intrude upon my life without my consent (I've had a few very nice religious discussions that I was quite willing to participate in) to attempt to change my beliefs.

Those people, I really want to beat.