An Open Letter to All US Gun Owners

An Open Letter to All US Gun Owners

NRA logoThe NRA (and the small minority of Americans/vast majority of gun manufacturers they represent) continuously complains that any restrictions on gun ownership will lead to a “slippery slope” ending in everyone’s guns being taken away.

And indeed that fear has become a reality, but not the one they predict; instead they’ve done the slope slipping, from supporting some restrictions in the 80’s & 90’s to a “no restrictions are acceptable” stance now.

As a result, they’ve at last lost my willingness to accept some level of gun ownership, as that acceptance was predicated upon my understanding that most gun owners want regulations that keep gun carnage to a minimum.  Although I’m sure this is still true, even those folks have lost my backing as, through their silence, they are tacitly supporting the NRA’s untenable positions.

I’ve always known that the stance of gun ownership as a right bestowed to all by the Second Amendment makes sense only when the important opening words are omitted (which you will find is the case in all advocating documents and statements): “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”

2nd-amendment

…but again, I was willing to work with Americans’ desire to own a weapon so long as they were willing to work with gun-control advocates on life-saving restrictions.

I never accepted that a hunter needs an automatic weapon to nab a deer (anyone who does has chosen the wrong past-time), that arming school personnel is the answer to children/youth being slaughtered in their classrooms (or in the case of the latest, and largest mass shooting in US history, carrying club-goers…that’s the ticket, arm folks who have been drinking…), or that people on the terrorist watch list must still be permitted to own guns because a rare few may be on the list erroneously.

But now, I no longer accept, for any circumstance, the notion that someone must be armed to be happy…or safe.  Unless you’re part of a militia formed to defend the security of these free States, I am now fully in favor of an Australian style ban on all guns, thanks to the NRA, and the power bestowed upon them by the silent majority of US gun owners.

I hope others, particularly my fellow Boomers, who have stayed silent about this as did I, will no longer as well.

To All Boomers on the Dating Scene…

To All Boomers on the Dating Scene…

I’m dating…have been using a dating site for Boomers – better than some alternatives (hoping to meet someone while in the check-out line at the supermarket…), worse than others (finding like-minded people at your place of worship or interest groups).

And might I say…What a trip!

I’ve had many a fun time; I’ve also experienced things from the surprisingly stupid to the downright weird (coming later in this post).  If my not so great experiences are typical, and I think most likely they are, I can comfortably assure all of you in dating mode that anything you’ve experienced, I have too.  And so have lots of others.

first dateI do like dating – the “getting-to-know-you” portion of the process.  I’ve met quite a number of interesting & accomplished men, and am better for it.  I’ve been treated quite well by the good guys, and have had quite a few laughs, terrific philosophical discussions, and learned a few things.  I can go out, have a few cocktails and some great conversation, with no expectations other than a heartfelt thank you at the end of the evening.

And while in full disclosure mode, it’s important to add that I’m not desperate to find someone, so I’m mindfully taking my time.  I don’t feel unfulfilled without a man, I’ve grown quite comfortable with my independence – the thought of sharing my personal space 24/7 sounds a bit more like a chore than desirable – and I like getting to know new people whether or not there’s on-going compatibility potential (not yet…admittedly I am quite picky).  Finding no one yet who rings my bell is not distressing.

As for my dateability, I’m moderately attractive, generally accomplished, have a decent sense of humor and basic social skills, and I have RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis), thus this package has it pros and cons.  But, ladies and gents, so do most Boomers’; I’ve met guys who have diabetes, heart conditions, are substantially overweight, or have any of a number of other physical limitations, who see no correlation between their limitations and my own (theirs is no big deal; mine’s a huge burden…).  I don’t let such laughable hypocrisy cause angst…remember the words “laughable” and “hypocrisy”…

So, for all of you taking this ride as well, I’ve compiled a few of my, shall we say more unfortunate encounters, that fit well in a list of do’s & don’ts, in the hope that when (notice I didn’t say “if”) you experience any/all of these, you won’t sell yourself short by tolerating them, nor, most importantly, take others’ bad behavior personally – so you can not only shrug off the bad while enjoying the good, but take the goof-balls in stride:

Do

  • Have teeth (I’m in Florida…)false teeth 1
  • Let me know if no you’re longer interested
    apparently social skills have escaped many of our generation; or perhaps too many guys are cowardly, but simply not responding to a “thanks for the get together” because I’m not your type, is just rude
  • include a pic…a recent pic….
    no pic attached to the profile translates to no response from me (no pic usually means married, but regardless, I want to know what you look like as much as you do me…)
    then there’s the posted pic taken 10 years and 100 pounds ago – men complain about women using old/no longer applicable pictures, yet they’re equal opportunity offenders
  • read what I’ve written…
    I’m up front about my RA, as well as my dislike of those canned “flirts” sites create for you to use and my readerspreference to meet in person vs chatting by phone or email, yet I get lots of canned flirts, have guys insist on talking at length by phone before meeting (so…you chose me why?), and they somehow miss the part about RA (it’s on line 2…)
  • pay attention; stop repeatedly sending those darned flirts when you contacted me 5 times before then never responded when I answered you; also see above about sending canned flirts when I’ve mentioned how much I don’t like them in my profile…
  • let me know if something’s changed for you
    I’ve had guys set a place/date/time to meet, then not show (“oh, yeah, I forgot…”), or tell me they can’t make it only after I’ve checked to make sure we’re still on (I do that now that I experienced the no-show)…a modicum of communication skills isn’t too much to ask…

Don’t

  • contact me if you live in other parts of the country
    I’m not interested in being your keyboard pal, dating by phone, or any other long-distance concept; call me old fashioned, but face to face is a must for memotel 6
  • get a room on the first date (really…someone did that…) – if sex is what you’re looking for, try an escort rather than a dating service
  • be hypocritical…as mentioned above, you have a heart condition, or high BP, or diabetes, or one of many other afflictions that come with being our age…so stop treating my RA like the plague
  • suddenly change up…don’t make final arrangements to meet, then a few hours prior set some new hurdle I must jump before we do; if you have specific criteria about anything, say so up front – know your own mind
  • refuse to make eye-contact, or look everywhere else in the place but at me throughout the entire date
    unless you have Tourette Syndrome or some other malady that causes you to lose control of bodily functions, you asked me out…show me the basic courtesy of not acting like you’re embarrassed to be seen with me…
  • come dressed like you’ve just finished cleaning your garage…and didn’t bother to change before leaving the house

To take you out, here’s my favorite “bizarre behavior” story for your reading pleasure:

On a first date, the gentleman and I had a cocktail at an establishment overlooking the water (nice!); we sat at the bar (mhenessyvsopy choice).  The bar’s set-up was such that some top shelf liquors were within reach on our side (admittedly not a wise set-up).  When the bartender didn’t respond quickly enough to his need for a refill (the place was slammed), he reached across the bar, picked up a bottle of Hennessey (goes for $10-$15/pour depending on the establishment), and helped himself to a triple pour.

When I enlightened him on the reality of what he did (the bartender will pay for that out of her wages), you will not be surprised to learn he didn’t care…

I excused myself, and found a discreet way to let the bartender know what he did, and direct her to give me the check for the pirated booze.  We left shortly thereafter (I wanted outta there…); he paid for my drinks and those the bartender poured for him.

As I awaited my car at the valet, he breezed past me on the way to his, pronouncing as he walked by “next time you’re buying the drinks…”

The next day I wrote him with the following message:

 1. there will be no next time…
2. take heart knowing that I did in fact buy you drinks; I paid for the liquor you stole.

Amazing!?

Amazing!?

It made the pages of many a newspaper back in 2012 when they reported on Lake Superior State University’s annual List of enough-alreadyWords Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness: “Amazing” received the most votes of any on the list.  But as far back as 2010 the Chicago Tribune noted it as an overused, “run of the mill” discriptor, and it has remained on lists of “the most annoying, overused words,” most recently in a 2014 Huffington Post article on “words that are so overused they become meaningless.”

Even the Pulitzer Prize winning Tampa Bay Times has hopped onto this bandwagon with the jingle/tagline “the amazing stories”… To be fair, I’ve copiously tried to find a better word to fit the rhythm of that jingle, and have admittedly come up blank (“the stupendous stories just doesn’t make it…).  So, OK, they get a pass, as does the TV show “The Amazing Race” (first aired 2001), Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” TV series (aired 1985-87), and “The Amazing Spiderman” (first comic book published 1965).  But WordPress does not; I just received an email touting ways I can “make WordPress Sites Look Amazing!” – nor does every talk-show host, news anchor, (professional) writer, and public figure, all of whom use the word more often than they use their Iphones.

So, I put it to you: Listen for it in conversation, in the media, anywhere that talking, writing, or communicating in any format is involved.  If you find it seldom used, let me know…and if, as have I, you get to the point that if one more person finds something “amazing” you’ll smack them upside the head, let me know that as well.

Then, let’s work a bit on our lexicons.  There’s “fabulous,” “extraordinary,” “fascinating (thanks, Mr. Spock!),” and “wonderful”: there’s “marvelous,” “surprising,” “remarkable,”incredible”; but no “awesome” or “excellent” – also tired.

In reality, “amazing” doesn’t adequately describe many things that deserve better.

And, unlike we Boomers, this descriptor is old, tired and ready for permanent retirement.

How I Realized Poverty is Self-Perpetuating

couponsThis past Sunday, I found the following in the coupon section of the paper: “Buy a $50 Visa Gift Card and receive $10 off your order of $50 or more!”  Well, hey, I can put together a list of things I need, or can use in future, that adds up to $50, and I can use that gift card to buy gas or other necessities; in the process I’ll save $10 on things I’d buy anyway!  Good deal!

Then it hit me.  I am fortunate enough to have sufficient disposable income to take advantage of the offer.  If, however, I was eking by from paycheck to paycheck, thus was unable to pay $100 all at once to garner the great savings (10% of the total), I couldn’t take advantage of it, and I’d have to pass on saving an extra and sorely needed $10.

In other words, too often you must have money to save it, or make more of it…too often, those who most need the savings or increased income literally can’t afford to take advantage of the typical means for getting it.

We in the middle class can relate to this on a different level: we can’t take advantage of the same investment vehicles available to the wealthy because they require a million dollar buy-in, for example.  We must pay an ever increasing chunk of our paycheck to insurance premiums with ever increasing out-of-pocket costs, increasing our cost of living with no concomitant increase in salary – another example.

But even more systems are set up in this same “no-win” way for the “working poor” – folks who work hard at the kind of low-wage jobs that keep us going (maids, clerks, lawn care, home health aides, social service workers, maintenance workers) yet still live in poverty.

Here just a few of the myriad things that work to keep the poor, poor:

  • can’t get a car loan, so, presto, no car to get to work, daycare, grocery store, etc.
  • no health insurance so must pay out of pocket for everything – costs that are far higher than those charged to insurance companies; add to that living in substandard housing which exacerbates asthma, allergies, some still with lead paint, causing more illness
  • neighborhoods with “D” or “F” rated public schools…so much for a decent education
  • lots of coupons are found in the daily paper…unless you can’t afford the subscription, then that option is out as well
  • vehicles for saving for the future (IRA’s, investments, even savings accounts) require a minimum deposit and balance to qualify

We hear, often, of folks beating poverty and making it big.  Unfortunately, that is a very small minority, and the ticket up and out is usually through professional sports or the film/music industry.

As an executive with large social service agencies, I know what those who care for your profoundly disabled son’s/parent’s care are paid, and it’s not a living wage.  We all know what the hotel maids and all service workers on whom we depend are paid, and we know it’s insufficient.  Even teachers and bank tellers are paid ridiculously low wages given the skill and education required.

So, please keep this in mind the next time you see headlines about workers at MacDonald’s and Walmart fighting for a decent wage.  They have lots of company in folks with jobs that are far more crucial.

Then keep in mind that the only way out of poverty – or the lower-middle class for that matter – is through wages paid.

So…you think you love animals?

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Our furry friendsAmericans have tremendous affection for their “other species family members” – we will spend over 55 Billion on our pets this year according to the Animal Health Foundation, with Boomers leading the way, literally: according to the AHF we were the first generation to normalize pet ownership (who knew?!)

Cool!

But, many folks who adore their dogs, cats, iguanas, fish, hamsters, or (fill in the blank) aren’t the total-package animal lovers they think they are.

That’s because these same folks will, without a second thought, inadvertently do a host of things that harm animals.

Worse yet, many will do the fingers-in-the-ears-“la la la I don’t want to hear that!” when the topic of animal mistreatment/cruelty is raised.i don't want to hear it

So, how can so many profess to love all animals so much yet do so little within their power to protect them?

Many say it’s too painful to think about, or believe there’s no way around some forms of abuse (like in medical research).  Lots (like to) think the animals in entertainment venues are well cared for so no harm done.

All are excellent excuses.  None are good reasons.

If you fit the above bill, it’s past time to take a critical look at the breadth of your love for animals.

If you love only animals living in your home, be honest with yourself and others – admit that your love of animals is conditional.  love all animals

But, if after some consideration you believe you really are a lover of all animals everywhere, then you have a bit of work to do…

So, to make this a bit easier for anyone ready and willing to show their love for all animals, here’s an easy reference short list of ways to show it:

training a baby elephant for the circus

training a baby elephant for the circus

  • Stop going to the circus, Sea World, Busch Gardens, or any other venue using animals for our entertainment; other species were not put on the planet for our entertainment, and as we’ve learned by recent national headlines, they really don’t like it
  • Buy meat that is humanely raised – it is a bit more expensive, but doing so both shows care for food animals and gets you meat that tastes better
  • Don’t get pets from commercial animal breeders or pet stores, aka “puppy mills – their animals are often poorly treated in order to improve profits; you local shelter has plenty of critters anxiously awaiting a good home, and btw, shelter animals make much better family members; probably because they really appreciate the home and your love.  Petfinder.com is an excellent resource.
  • Always take a few extra minutes when purchasing any product to ensure it was not tested on animals (those that don’t will proudly state so on the label) – to get you started, Johnson & Johnson refuses to end its use of animals to test its products; here’s a more complete list of companies that still use animals
  • Join one of the numerous organizations/groups that work tirelessly to stop animal abuse and take a few minutes each day to sign their smiling dogpetitions; donate to them when you can (why not take the money you would’ve spent on an extra toy for Fido and make the donation from him?!) (I’ve provided a starter list below)
  • Insist that medical research on animals be discontinued: research has come a long way from last millennia techniques – researchers no longer need to use animals but do so only because it’s been “standard practice” (hasn’t changed since Aristotle’s time) – and more importantly, outcomes on animal research often do not correlate to outcomes with humans… in other words, such research is far less effective than other options (computer models, for instance)
  • Forward this article to all you know who consider themselves animal lovers.

Do these things, and all creatures all around the world will love you back for it.

Links to the top animal welfare organizations:
The Humane Society of the United States (USHS)
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) – helps species at risk of extinction
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) – helps animals in need throughout the world
The Non Human Rights Project (NhRP) – defends the rights of non human species
The Animal Rescue site – one click a day provides help to animals in need – do it every day…it’s free!