Saturday, April 21, 2007


Since it's impossible to understand something that defies understanding, I have not even tried to comprehend what the VT shooter was thinking before and during his rampage. How can you make sense of something senseless?

So instead of trying to understand what may have been going through the mind of a person who was clearly disturbed, I've been trying to understand something that at least seems like it should be more concrete and understandable: Why was he allowed to buy guns?

I'm not in favor of disarming civilian America. Nor am I a gun-toting NRA looney. I fall somewhere in that vast grey area in between. I grew up with a few guns in the house, and my dad taught me to use them safely and responsibly. I have friends and family members who own guns, and who also use them safely and responsibly for hunting. I'm personally not really interested in hunting, but I don't really have a problem with those who do enjoy it; I think it's a perfectly respectable hobby (most of the time, anyway).

Here's what I don't understand about the whole gun thing: Why does anyone other than law enforcement or military personnel need a handgun? These weapons are made to be easily concealed. They are specifically designed for killing people. Why are people allowed to own them? They're not practical for hunting. Protection? Well, if handguns were illegal, you wouldn't really need one to protect yourself from someone else with a handgun.

Obviously making handguns illegal wouldn't completely solve the problem; someone who really wanted a handgun would still probably be able to get one, but at least it would be more difficult than just walking down the street to the nearest gun shop or pawn shop. I believe it would help. There is no legitimate reason for the general public to own handguns.

And you know, the same goes for assault rifles. And machine guns. There are certain firearms that make sense for in hunting or skeet shooting or marksmanship, and there are others that don't make sense for anything.

I'm not trying to take away anyone's Second Amendment rights (and so far as I can tell, the Second Amendment guarantees no specific types of arms, so regulating exactly what types of weapons a person may own would still not infringe on that person's right to bear arms). I'm simply suggesting that we protect and preserve everyone's right to live and prosper without the threat of violence by persons with handheld weapons of mass destruction.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I'm excited. Tonight I get to see my favorite band and musical heroes, Storyhill, perform at CSPS, which is a very nice, intimate venue. I'm really looking forward to it. It's been... oh, a couple years, anyway, since I last got to see them. Too long! If I were in charge of Storyhill's booking, they'd play around here a LOT more often.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

You know the world is changing...

...when Sesame Street now teaches kids to turn off their cell phones during musical performances.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tech savvy

I got a new cell phone the other day. I'd had my old phone for well over two and a half years. The "3" button didn't work so well anymore, but otherwise it still worked great and suited my needs just fine. If not for the troublesome 3, I might have just kept that phone forever. Well, for a while longer, anyway.

Not too long ago I made the technological leap from CDs to mp3s. I purchased an mp3 player (albeit a used one from a friend for $10, but an mp3 player nonetheless). I've even used it in the car! Our newer vehicle has an input jack for an mp3 player or other auxiliary device, and the car stereo will even control what the mp3 player plays (theoretically, at least; I didn't actually try that, 'cause I was driving at the time).

Anyway, back to the cell phones. As I said, I'd been quite pleased with my old Nokia phone and my cellular service provider. I almost never had a problem with reception, the battery maintained its charge well (I usually only had to charge it once a week or so, and kept it on pretty much all the time other than at night)... Yeah, my phone and I had gotten to be pretty good friends. Except for that 3. So I decided to go ahead and see what other phone I might be able to get (for free; I'm sort of cheap when it comes to stuff like that (hence the $10 for a used mp3 player)). My Nokia had served me well, but heck, if I was entitled to a brand new phone--one with a functioning "3"--I figured I might as well get one.

I went into the cell phone store at the mall and casually perused the selection. Only one or two of the numerous devices available appeared to actually be free. I asked the one employee in the store at the time, and he pointed out the one phone which was, in fact, free, and the other one that was buy-one-for-$50, get-one-free. Hmm.

He asked what plan I had, and I said I didn't know. He typed my cell phone number into the computer and then said, "Oh, you have an old plan. You can't use a new phone with your old plan. You'll have to upgrade your service to this," and he indicated a new plan described on a big poster thing.

"Okay," I replied. Then I decided to just look on the cellular service provider's web site, which seemed to offer a wider selection of phones, many of which were purported to come free of charge for the phone itself. So I continued to just browse the phones in the store, and then another employee approached and asked if I had any questions about the phones. I told him I didn't. He expressed surprise that with so many phones to look at I didn't have a single question. I thought some more about it and came up with a couple questions, you know, just to make him feel useful and important.

Those questions and his answers actually led to more questions and more answers, and I began to realize that this guy seemed to know more than the other guy did. Then I noticed that his name tag advertised that he, Jason, was the Store Manager. Wow. Dude carried some clout. He said he'd check to see if the old plan carried with it any additional incentives to switch to a new plan and the new, obvisouly better cellular technology.

As luck would have it, there was such an incentive. The provider was willing to give an additional rebate on any phone I desired. Jason then upped the ante and said he'd go ahead and give me one of the should-cost-$50 phones, which he assured me were awesome, for free, plus a second phone also for free, because the price point wasn't much more than the additional rebate. Then I asked if he'd be willing to do that on any of the other phones. He asked if I had a particular phone in mind. I did, and told him which phone it was. He said he could do that. Two of those phones for free if I got the new service plan and ditched my dinosaur of a cell phone.

I took the deal.

My new phone, to me, seems pretty fancy. Not only can I call people with it, but I can take photos, shoot video, send email, surf the Internet, watch videos, listen to iTunes... Now, to the average modern cell phone user those might all seem like pretty basic things. Keep in mind, though, all I'd ever done with my cell phone before was call people. Oh, and I'd sent like three text messages. But that was it. This new phone... it's like a whole multimedia experience in my pocket.

When I got home the other night I took a couple photos, which I promptly deleted. Yesterday I programmed some speed dial numbers (which I'd also done on my previous phone) and recorded my voice mail message. This morning I set up voice dial on a handful of my most-frequently called contacts. That's pretty fancy for me. I think I'll probably almost never use most of the fancy features on my new phone, and will likely cancel my cell phone Internet access, which is separate from the actual calling plan. Still, it's kinda fun to have a new li'l toy to play with. I might actually use the iTunes feature some. I like music, after all.

So far I'm not convinced that the new phone and new service are an improvement over the old phone and old service, at least for just talking on the phone. Only time will tell, I suppose.

On a completely different subject...

Yesterday I read a brief story on the local paper's web site. The story was about the opening of a new stretch of road and the related development and additional road projects that will follow. Of one of those additional road projects, which will connect two of the city's busier streets, the story read, "The new road is in paramilitary planning stages." I found that quite entertaining, and wondered how the writer might have come up with "paramilitary" instead of "preliminary." Our local paper doesn't have a reputation for editorial accuracy.

This is a really long post. Didn't see that coming. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chicken Pot Pie

Not long ago, my wife found a recipe that yielded a very yummy chicken pot pie. She modified it somewhat to make it easier and yummier. I now am posting a similar, though even easier version of this recipe, in case you're interested in making a chicken pot pie. Just so you know, this is a combination of based-on-memory and made-up-as-I-go. If it turns out to not be yummy, well, sorry. Let me know and I'll try again.

Here's what you need:
2 cans of condensed cream of chicken (or mushroom, or celery) soup
2-3 potatoes, diced
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 bag frozen mixed veggies
1 can diced, cooked chicken (or 1-2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced)
Maybe some milk. Yeah, let's say you need some milk.
Salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning (or some other generic seasoning (maybe Spike?))
1 refrigerated pie crust (the kind you roll out)

Here's what you do:
Preheat the oven to... oh, let's say 375
Cook the potatoes, celery and onions
Dump the soup into a casserole dish
Dump in the potatoes, celery and onions
Dump in the frozen veggies
Add about 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and about 1/2 teaspoon of the other seasoning
Drain the chicken and dump that in, too
Stir it all up in the casserole dish
If it looks too thick, add some milk (or half-and-half) until it doesn't look too thick anymore
Stir it up some more, if necessary
Unroll the pie crust on top of the glop in the casserole dish. Roll up the extra dough on the edges. Try to make it look pretty, if you're into that sort of thing. Poke some holes in the pie crust.
Put it in the oven for... how 'bout 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely golden brown.
Take it out of the oven and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes.

I could use some advice.

This evening I received an email from a member of my extended family (actually, two of them). The person who sent the email is well on the right of the political spectrum, which I've known for a long time. I occasionally receive emails from this person espousing the many virtues of George W. Bush or lambasting various Democrats or encouraging readers to support the war in Iraq wholeheartedly, etc., etc. I sometimes skim through those emails, maybe laugh a little to myself, and delete them, but usually I just skip straight to deleting them.

This particular email encouraged me to visit
this website, which is highly recommended by some guy who just happens to be good friends of a guy who used to be a US ambassador to various countries in Africa, and who therefore has his finger squarely on the pulse of the world, or something.

Ignoring my usual inclination to mostly ignore the contents of these emails, I decided to see what this reputedly awesome web site was all about. Well, as you may have already discovered, it's basically spewing hatred. I mean, at first when I saw it I kinda chuckled at the rampant patriotic theme, but quickly my amusement turned to disgust as I actually read the text. I can't stand crap like this.

You know, I'm a Christian, and I believe completely and absolutely that I have been saved by the grace of God through Christ's death and resurrection. I also know that in the Bible we are called to make disciples of all nations. I believe that Christianity is the one true faith.

However, one thing I simply cannot tolerate is intolerance (sorry--that statement has always kinda cracked me up, so I had to throw it in here). In all seriousness, that kind of intolerance and blind hatred really, really upsets me. And then it's being thrown at me by my own family, whom I love dearly.

So how do I respond? Do I respond at all? Obviously they're entitled to their opinion, however much I may disagree with it. I feel a very strong urge to reply to everyone who received the email and state that I don't agree with the message on the web site and ask that they not send those kinds of messages to me in the future. At the same time, though, I don't like conflict, especially among family. I've seen too many families split over arguments or differing political views or something else like that, and I certainly don't want that to happen. What do I do? This bothers me in many ways on many levels, and I just don't know what to do about it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Check it out, yo. Here’s a photo of my mom and her siblings in front of their crib in Compton, California. My mom is the particularly thuggish looking one second from the left (man, her feet were HUGE!). My uncle is sporting the flattest flattop I’ve ever seen. That’s gangsta.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Thou Hast Mail

I got an email from Jesus today. Outlook informed me that I had a new message, so I checked my inbox, and right there in the "From" column, in bold letters, it read "Jesus."

"Wow," I thought to myself, "I've never before received an email from Jesus." It wasn't even marked "high importance." So I opened the email to see what the Messiah had written, and discovered that it wasn't actually sent by Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of the world. No, it was sent by the guy who teaches the breakdance class where I work. Except his name is Chuy. Maybe Chuy is short for "Hey-Seuss."