Monthly Archives: January 2013

Only Ones?

In speaking about a home burglary, where the burglars were scared off because one of the homeowners had an AR-15, Rochester (NY) Police Chief James Sheppard stated, “My druthers is that in every situation we encounter as police officers, we’re the only ones with guns. That would be the perfect scenario.”

This bothers me. This bothers me a lot. He wants to see every single person disarmed so that the police are the only ones who have guns.

There’s no way that he’s going to get all of the guns away from the criminals. Take a look at history to see how that worked with alcohol during Prohibition, or how well that is currently working with drugs.

That leaves honest citizens at a serious disadvantage. He wants us to have no way to defend ourselves when someone breaks into our homes or assaults us. He wants us to be at the mercy of those who have no mercy, who will not be bound by the law, who will take what is ours and hurt those we love.

This is not what the Second Amendment is about. It does not state that “only the police” get the guns. It does not create a class of “only ones” that have special powers. I have the right to defend myself and those I love. And I will fight for that right.

Categories: Politics, Weapons | Tags: | 1 Comment

Side-Effects of Taxes

California has been a state in decline for a long time. I grew up there, and I loved it. When I left for college and med school, I knew I’d go back. I did, and I spent 7 more years there.

But when I left after that, I knew I’d never again go back.

Oh, maybe to visit every once in a while, but never again to live there. In fact, my mother still has the message that I left for her on her voice mail, almost 12 years ago, in which I told her to, “Shoot me! Just shoot me now, mom, if I EVER tell you that I’m thinking of moving back to this state!!!” If I recall, I’d been on the road for 3 or 4 hours and still hadn’t gotten outside the LA basin.

Now, it seems that the state is attempting to speed its implosion. Proposition 30, which was proposed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and voted into law last November, raises the top tax rate for state taxes to 13.3%. That’s just state income taxes, mind you, on top of federal taxes and in addition to whatever local taxes you have.

California is a state in which those earning more than $250,000 are already paying 62% of the tax bill. Those who bring home more than $450,000 (the top 2% of households) are covering 46% of the state’s taxes. And those who earn $1 million or more, just 34,000 people in the entire state, pay fully 25% of the taxes for the state. It is also a state in which over 50% of the people pay little to no personal income tax at all.

Phil Mickelson has been in the news the past several days for talking about something other than his golf swing. He dared to talk about the taxes in California. First, he talked about possibly leaving California and maybe even golf because of these punitive taxes. Then he apologized for speaking out in public about such a topic…not because he thinks he’s wrong in what he said, but because it’s too personal a topic to be discussing in public before he’s made his decision.

Now, I know Phil. We grew up a couple blocks down from his family. One of my brothers was in his class at school; I knew his older sister. He’s a good guy. And what gets me most about his remarks is that he didn’t take back what he said about the taxes at all. He simply apologized for having brought up such a personal topic (moving vs quitting golf) in public before he’s made his decision.

I think a lot of us are where he is. We know changes have to be made in how we do things. Whether it’s as drastic as uprooting and moving or changing what we do with our lives…maybe not. But certainly drawing down in our spending, starting to save more, or put aside food and provisions of all sorts. We might not know exactly what’s coming, but we know that tougher times are ahead.

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Every so often, I am reminded why I built my house exactly where I did. It’s so I can come home in the middle of the afternoon and see this just a few feet from my kitchen windows.



Those little guys sure are fuzzy this winter!

Categories: Home, Wildlife | Tags: , | 1 Comment

A Redneck Moment

Christmas dinner this year was at my youngest brother’s house. He and his wife appreciate a good bottle of wine (almost) as much as I do, so I’d grabbed a bottle from my house to take downstate with me. I didn’t inspect it closely before choosing it, but I knew that it was one of the bottles that my local wine shop had recommended some time ago.

Fast forward to Christmas afternoon, shortly before dinner…

My sis-in-law went to open the bottle of wine. The foil cutter wasn’t working, but she said that it was getting dull and needed new blades, so she’d let my brother work on it. He came upstairs and attempted the cutter, again without success.

He decided that the fancy cork puller would be able to grab the cork just fine and pull it despite the foil, so he tried that. First try…no cork. Second try…no cork. Third try…STILL no cork. The worm just wasn’t catching in the cork at all. He moved to an older style opener but still had no luck at all.

We all looked at the top of the bottle and decided that the cork must be defective, as what the worm kept pulling up looked like little bits of fluff, maybe desiccated cork or even just thick foil. A shame, really, but my brother pulled down another bottle of wine and opened it. No big loss.

But he was curious, so he decided to do a “bottle-topsy” and try to figure out what really had gone wrong with the first bottle. After several minutes’ work with a fork on the foil, he started laughing. So did SIL and I.

It was a screw-top bottle. And the wine turned out to be very good after all of that.

Categories: Cooking | Tags: | Leave a comment

Welcome to the Future

I’m not big on hard and fast new year’s resolutions. I’ve found it far too easy to slide a day or two, then get discouraged and give up completely. This year, I’m going to try something a little different. I’m going to set some longer-term goals out there in front of me and see if I can make the changes needed in the short term to get there. Backsliding occasionally is allowed (and even somewhat expected, as I know I’m not perfect) and accounted for, and the goals are realistic.

— I want to commit to working out this year. It doesn’t have to be every day (and won’t be), but I’d like to work towards 3-4 days/week. It doesn’t have to be at the gym every time (and won’t be); it can be as simple as an energetic walk through the neighborhood when the weather allows for it or biking a good trail nearby. I want to be in better shape at the end of the year, though, than where I am today.

— I want to commit to eating better this year. I won’t give up all of my vices (good scotch, a steak fresh from the grill, or a piece of dark chocolate), but I will try to balance them with some of what is better for me a little more often than I tend to do now. I will cook more and better food at home in the kitchen that I love, that I had built for cooking in, and not rely so much on prepared meals or those eaten out.

— I want to commit to improving my shooting this year. I don’t want to just throw more lead down the range at targets (though that is fun); I really want to improve what I am doing and how I do it. I want to look into taking at least one class on shooting. I will start working on physical training that will improve the shooting that I do (including a full rehab of my shoulder now that it has been fixed). I plan to start attending and participating in more competitive shooting events, even if they are simple bowling pin matches or a more formal sort.

I think these are all reasonable goals and within my reach. Each of them will help me to better achieve the others, so that success in one will lead to improvement in the others…the ultimate positive feedback loop.

I wish y’all the best in your new year, and may your plans come to where you hope to see them.

Categories: Cooking, Firearms, Health, Long-term Goals | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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