Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Two firsts.

Today I had two new experiences.

1) I rode my motorcycle on the interstate for the first time.

2) I got stitches.

I had a doctors appointment in Payson, about 15 minutes from where I live. I've been tight on money this week so I decided not to drive my gas-guzzling 4runner, and instead took my motorcycle. This also shortened the trip by about 1/3.

The doctor's appointment was to get a diagnosis on some tumors that have been on my body for about a year and a half. I have been putting off going to the doctor over them because I think I've been more scared of knowing that not knowing what they are. I had a cousin who died at about my age.. maybe a year or two older. He called his mom and said that he wasn't feeling so good. He died a month later of brain cancer. Actually he had cancer all over his body... liver, brain, stomach... I don't really remember where all it got to. Anyway, When these tumors started popping up all over the place I decided that if the were nothing, I would do nothing, and if they were deadly, I would rather find out the hard way.... I dunno I guess I would rather die than go through all kinds of radiation and chemo and all that. I just don't think it's worth it.

Anyway, I finally went ahead and got them looked at, mostly at the request of my father, who cares a lot about me and even sent me a check to pay for the visit. I talked to the nurse who was taking my vitals and what not and she seemed excited that I had tumors. She said something like "I hope we get to take them out!". When the doctor came in he poked around at them for about 5 minutes and made a few 'ho' and 'hum' noises. Then he said that they seemed really strange, probably nothing serious. "But what say we get one of those out of you and send it off for some tests?" he asked. "That's fine" I said. "Then follow me to where the fun stuff is..." We went in a little room were the nurse was eagerly dumping scalpels on a tray and squirting Iodine into little cups... cotton swabs, gause, a suture set... She was BEAMING!

He started talking to me about my motorcycle and how he had gotten one in high school, unbeknownst to his parents. He told me how he had wrecked on it, and that he went to a family reunion after he recovered and found that he was the most unpopular cousin because he had ruined everyone else's chances of EVER owning a motorcycle while in their parent's house. He put about an inch long slice on my left arm over the biggest of the 3 tumors... the one that people always mistake for a "gnarly mosquito bite". He grabbed it with a pair of forceps and began snipping away at the sinew around it. I watched for a bit until he would give the tumor a little tug, jarring my arm. Then I would watch the ceiling tiles for a bit. Finally he pulled it out and snipped out a couple of remnant pieces. He didn't miss a beat, he started stitching me back up, telling me about when he was a Physicians assistant in Idaho, and how the ER doctors would always dump the suture jobs on him after they had all the fun. He talked about how stupid it would be for the U.S. to get free, government provided health care like the Canadians... how he felt sorry for Veterans who can't even get decent health care, and how the goverment is at fault. He was a pretty nice guy. No nonsense.

I was expecting to see a doctor who would say... hmmm,... go get an MRI. and then have to go to an MRI and have them tell me the results were inconclusive, and that I should go see a specialist. who would tell me to go see a general surgeon.. who would hack one out and send off for some tests. glad I got a doctor who was willing to take care of all of that on my first visit, here's hoping that the test results are to my liking.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The important things.

So. what do you value in yourself?

Honesty, integrity... loyalty, Compassion, respect, open-mindedness, communication, candor.

I think all of these things are something to constantly work to improve in yourself, for the sake of your relationships. If you make it a point to understand others, and to be honest with them and yourself. You should never find a situation that cannot be resolved through communication.

Resentments are all too often the culprit in a squelched channel of communication. I am quite guilty of it. I reject calls, leave letters unanswered, skirt around issues, and otherwise do my best not to address the problems I have with people. This is, most often, because I feel like I don't have a strong enough relationship with the people to be open and honest with them, and I would rather not talk to them at all than communicate on bad terms, or a false understanding of mutual respect. But I also do this with people who are close to me, when I feel like I have been the victim of some brash, or even absent-minded behavior of theirs. It's easier to be closed off, hurt and offended than it is to be open about your vulnerabilities and needs. Often I would rather blame someone else for my misery, and feel like their behavior is out of my hands than be assertive about my needs and honest about my feelings.

So, what do you do with someone close to you, with whom you don't feel you can communicate openly and honestly? I guess the obvious answer is "work on the relationship". But where do you start? Do you butter them up for a week so you can cut them down? Do you lay into them and then take them out to nurse their wounds over an ice cream sundae? Do you gradually tighten your boundaries with them, letting the big things go and working on the small things? Or big things first and then the small?

I think the best way is to make sure you are ready for the talk. Don't sit them down after you have comprised a list of your needs. Don't show them your drawn up diagram of what they need to change about how they interact with you. consider these things, and then consider YOUR behaviors. Don't expect anyone to listen to a word you say until you have made it plainly apparent that you can accept feedback from them regarding your own behaviors. If you aren't open to receiving feedback, you aren't ready to give it. So, make sure you are ready for the talk, which is going to consist of as much, if not more, listening. Be ready to accept some hard stuff, and don't think that what you have to say is simple for them to see and understand.

I think it's high time I insert that quote, "seek first to understand, and then to be understood." I have only put it off till now because I don't know who said it.... standby for research....

Oh, hell. It was Stephan R. Covey. Habit 5. Dammit.

I now welcome you to go read the 7 habits book... since I seem to be plagiarizing here. If you would rather read my philosophy, which I can almost guarantee is not as thought out as that book, that's fine by me.

I think that the key to being understood is being open to adjusting your own perceptions. It may be hard to swallow, but you HAVE to accept that you have a flawed view of the world around you. That's pretty much a fact. In the movie "Lars and the Real Girl" Lars' brother is blown away by the idea that his brother has a "delusion" ("what the hell is he doing with a delusion?" I think, is the line.) Which is a comical way of showing that characters own delusions. He fails to realize that everyone's reality is comprised of their perceptions of the world around them, their internal concepts of how things would, should and do work. And that many many many of these perceptions are flawed. Much of the time our perceived paradigms are either completely unformed, incomplete or completely wrong. When you stop taking for granted that you know everything about yourself, you start to learn a lot about yourself.

Maybe you aren't the victim of someone else's actions at all. Evaluate whether or not you are simply a victim of your own dysfunctional way of seeing things.

I had a realization the other day... I was very frustrated with my roommates for eating my food. I was choosing to be the victim of their actions. On top of that I was refusing to own my part in the issue, the fact that I didn't label my food, which is the accepted protocol in this household. I chose instead to cite others infractions as the cause for the disarray in the refrigerator. People were crowding my assigned space with their food items, "forcing" me to put my food elsewhere in the fridge. People were drinking milk that they KNEW wasn't theirs, labeled or not. In the end, one of my roommates was able to talk some sense into me and help me find a solution. The solution doesn't involve anyone's reform but my own, it is totally in my power to solve the issue without begging others to change their behaviors. Meeting my need is not directly contingent upon an adjustment in their behavior, it is in changing my own.

Kinda Along the same lines, I hate to see spats between two people who are allegedly in love. It sucks to see that this rotten form of communication has worked its way into a relationship. Resentments chip away at relationships. This is kinda a weird analogy but I'll go with t anyway. My roommate has an aquarium which seems to have an infestation of River Snails in it. you would think that it would be simple enough to deal with, but its not. River snails are pernicious little pests that are nearly imperceptible as eggs, or young snails. But once you get them in your tank they are next to impossible to get out. If they are allowed to stick around, they will eventually take over the tank. The way that my roommate deals with them? He keeps a keen eye out for them, and when he sees them he ousts them immediately lest they reproduce and spread.

Such is the way we should maintain the channel of communication in our relationships. Ever wary of the fact that we've got some bugs to work out, keeping a vigilant eye out for signs of them. And when we see them, we squash them and remove them from the picture. It's really easy to forget about them, or simply ignore them, they are small enough that you wont notice them. That is, until they are permeating every nook and cranny of your relationship/aquarium.

little spats are like little, black-spotted, nasty river snails. They are simple enough to ignore or fail to acknowledge, they seem like a harmless little thing, but they may as well be a monster who lives in a thousand different pieces/shells. I see my friends and family get into these little spats with their spouses and it makes me want to play referee. penalize them. "uncordial conduct, cool down for two minutes in the penalty box."

I guess when I think about it, I'm not really great at taking a step back and extending the olive branch instead of responding defensively and emotionally. But I think being aware of it is a good place to start working on it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Chataqua Pt. 2

After catching my breath and eating the greater portion of my food. I sat and watched as the morning sun intensified on the rocks. The patches of grass that sprung from fissures in the limestone appeared to murmur and palpitate behind the heat waves. It was like looking through a rippled-glass window. I approached the sheer wall of rock and began tugging on the bushes and brush surrounding the base. I found the entrance to the cave a little further down the wall than I remembered it being before, it also looked a lot smaller than last time. Maybe it was just that I was smaller before. I opened my backpack and fished around for my headlamp and flashlight. I grabbed two shrink-wrapped summer sausages and stuffed them in my pockets. I then stuffed my jacket in my trusty pack with the remnants of my lunch and tossed it under the bushes to the left of the hole and got ready to enter the darkness. I always hesitate at the entrance of dark damp places, more with cellars and basements than rocky crevices, and so after assuring myself that there were not a million creepy crawlers I got on my belly and began to scoot in. I started with the headlamp on and the lime-green Eveready flashlight tucked in my back pocket as a reserve. The buzz of insects and the sting of heat waves faded with each forward thrust into the darkness. I was soon 15 feet from the entrance and breathing the musty, stagnant air of the caves wet floor. There was a gentle, constant flow of air coming from deep within the cave that felt like air conditioning as it passed over my head and chilled the sweat on my back. 30 feet into the cave and a glance behind me showed that I was now completely in the dark... the entrance was no longer visible around the slight bend of the natural stone corridor. A slight pang of panic struck me, a jolt of anxiety shot down my spine and down to my fingertips. I imagined that the ceiling of the crawlspace of the millions of pounds of limestone above me was going to drop suddenly and pinch me flat as easily as if I were a gnat. The urge to back out was so strong I could not bring myself to move for what seemed like an eternity. The thought that I would have to back out, since the walls were to narrow to turn around, gave me a shortness of breath and a stubborn urge to stretch out and press against the walls in an attempt to give myself more space. My heart rate quickened. I felt nothing but impending death.

My rapid breathing was heating my face and only added to the illusion of my perceived tight surroundings. I imagined that the walls were going to tighten in around me like a gerbil in a toddlers clutches. I couldn't back up, my legs were so shaky that I could scarcely control them. I laid my head across a forearm and my nose touched the moist ground. I took a deep breath of the earthy air, and focused on overcoming my anxiety. Several controlled deep breaths, and the unyielding stone surrounding me seemed to miraculously retract. I took a few more moments to allow my heart rate to subside and regulate. When I was again ready, I continued down the long, low aperture. After another 3o feet the ceiling began to slant upwards and the walls widened. I was now in a low room with a dusty floor. I perched up on my feet and up with my head remaining low. I crawled forward to the center of the room and stood up fully. There was a low, faint howl of wind coming from the hole through which I had entered. The black in the wall across the room was to be my next route. slightly smaller than the opening through which I had just come, this one was also a lot longer. I was in no rush, I sat in the middle of the room on a short, round stalagmite formation. I began meditating. The episode of claustrophobia I had just had was a result of suppressing my better judgment to mentally prepare in favor of action and adventure. Well, I had gotten my adventure. Now I shut off my headlamp and sat in the darkness, eyes wide open. I couldn't see a thing, even after my eyes had dilated. I listened to the ebb and flow of the wind in the tunnels and imagined myself within the one I had yet to enter. I imagined the walls were just around me, then ever so slowly I reached my hands out from my torso and into the dark void. I closed my eyes and imagined that the walls were being spread apart. I brought my hands in and laid them in my lap, I opened my eyes and imagined that the tunnel was only millimeters from my skin, all around me.

I sat this way for about 3 or 4 minutes, concentrating on nothing but the image of the tunnel I was about to enter. I turned on my headlamp as I stood up, doing my best not to stretch, and approached the hole. Face down on the floor, I shut off my headlamp after a glance into the tunnel, I wanted to trust my mind, not my vision. I began scooting in through the opening. I felt calm and relaxed as I drug my body over the damp floor, and the feeling lasted over the next 15 minutes. When at last I reached ahead of me into the darkness and felt a change in the texture of the ground I raised my head and looked above me. I was in the day and night room.

I pulled myself into the room and rolled over onto my back. The "stars" above me were every bit as grand as I remembered. I gazed at them, and past them, into infinity. I emptied my pockets and nestled into the cool earth underneath me. I laid my head on my open palms and let my feet fall outward. I thought of all the immense amounts of energy surrounding me and, without being conscious of it, I fell asleep.

I awoke to the unpleasant sound of breaking plastic. I had rolled over onto my headlamp and crushed it into the ground, breaking the lens and light bulb. I no longer saw the stars over my head. I reached for my flashlight and used it to gather my things. I stood up and dusted myself off. I picked up the pieces of the headlamp and tucked them into a natural shelf in the wall. I wondered if it would ever be found by someone else, or if I might find it here, exactly as I left it, several years from now.

I hadn't meant to fall asleep, and now the day had passed by entirely I had no idea what time it was, only that it was now after dark. I must have been asleep for several hours. I hadn't planned on a midnight decent of the mountain. I shined the light around the room and found the tunnel, I felt rested enough that I could start my exit immediately. I shined the light in and, to my surprise, I saw two different veins. more to my confusion, I couldn't see any indication of either one having been used. I looked intently for some sign of my entry but I could see none. I again looked around the room, to be sure there were no other tunnels. None. I sat and pondered, to try and recall how I had entered the room. It had been in complete darkness, and I was totally unaware of the fact that there were two veins leading to this one opening. I shut off the flashlight and sat against the wall to think. I racked my brain over and over, certain that I would remember some sensation, from which I could deduce through which tunnel I had come.
I poked my head into the tunnel and listened to the low drone of the wind, but it seemed as if it hushed itself as soon as I turned an ear to it. Complete silence from both routes. I felt anxiety wash over me, and then from deep within the darkness came a low laugh.

I have always tried to make it a point to stay positive in the face of hopelessness. But, over the years I have developed what feels like an alternate personality that voices all its pessimisms, and laughs at the bleak optimism of my rationale. To explain it to someone else seems like I have created a devil for my left shoulder, because in my head, there is a gargoyle with a singular face, and a unique voice, and a very real laugh. He emerges from the dark void in my reasoning, that corner that I can't account for when the rest of me tries to imagine the good things that may exist beyond my perception and understanding. My angel on my right shoulder tries to tell me what great things lie beyond my view, in that dark void. But inevitably, there emerges that twisted, hideous face, preluded by a cackle that mocks the well-meaning words of my angel.
His laugh is all he needs. That laugh has haunted me since my childhood. I remember, I sat on the banks of the shiftless creek that meandered through the woods by the house. The wind rustling the trees and shaking dead leaves into the water below, creating little boats that would spin and sink in the eddies and miniature waterfalls, I would spend hours at a time cornering crawdads and minnows, or herding swarms of little black "water bugs" and "water skeeters". And if the urge to be industrious struck me, I would build a dam.

On this day I was diligently undertaking the task of damming a section of the creek, I had spent about 2 hours constricting the flow of the creek from the banks inward, to the middle. As I set about filling in the middle, the dammed water rising to my calves, I gathered leaves from the bank and sank them in the pool, where the currents dragged them into the crevices in the sticks and stones that comprised the structure of the dam. I then took silt from the deepest part of the pool, whitish clay meshed together with the skeletons of dead leaves. I put this over the outside of the leaves to hold them in, and further restrict the flow of water. I stood back to admire my work. The water was pouring over the top of the dam. The creek below the dam was now very shallow, as the water behind the dam climbed the banks. In this moment of satisfaction I remember hearing the gritty crunch of the creek bed stones as they shifted. A vibration, like skidding a chair across a linoleum floor. And then the dam gave way. rocks and sticks were washed with considerable force, downstream to where I stood. It happened too fast for me to react, and the sticks struck my shins, shots of pain jumped through me like electricity. As I waded out of the water and observed the wreck that had been my greatest childhood accomplishment, I heard that laugh. It seemed to start has a chuckle, barely perceptible over the thrash of the water, but as the creek returned to its normal pace the cackle now became a throaty laugh. I spun around looking for the source of this evil sadistic laugh--who was taking pleasure in my failure, my torment? The laughter seemed to grow stronger with my confusion, a hack and wheeze, and then more laughter. I felt chills. This laughter seemed to be coming from the creek itself, a demon, a lunatic. I desperately shouted, "What?!" but the laughter continued. I plugged my ears, gritting my teeth. The laugh continued. I ran along the banks of the creek, driven by fear and anger. I snatched a rock from the ground and sent it into the creek with a feeble "kerplunk". Not even a minute had gone by, but my mind was in a state of sheer desperation, and it seemed to have been eons. Then I found the demon.

A strange fish. it looked like tarnished bronze. Its belly as white as a Water Lilly. It was a foot and a half in length. It lay on its side in the pebbles and mud of the bank, two feet from the water. Its eye was fixed on me with a vehement glare, so intent that it seemed to be divining my thoughts. And it was laughing at me.

I took a rock and crushed its head.

The laughter subsided, but a chill came over me as I contemplated what I had done.

The fish had been exploring its new territory, expanded by the dammed creek. And when the dam broke, it was left on dry ground, the water returning to it's previous volume. The laughter I had heard after the dam broke was the fish gasping, suffocating. Confused and terrified, just like me. At the same moment I was seeking for an explanation to the laughter at my failure, the fish was seeking an explanation for being thrown from its element, the new experience was nothing short of torture for it. The open air was like flames on flesh, the gravity it was accustomed to was now doubled, and never had it felt something so solid and unyielding as the jagged pebbles of the shore, some imperceptible force pressing it down onto them. And then I dealt it a deathblow.

This demon who had turned out to be a fish, again became a demon. the fish, whose life I had severed, now became immortalized. It lodged its spirit in my mind, deep in a dark corner. It would have its vengeance. It stayed with me from that day Some time later I learned that it had been a certain type of fish known to make a laughing sound, but by then the laugh was no longer associated with a fish. It had morphed into a grotesque It delighted in my fear, it always chuckled at my misfortune. It laughed each time I found myself confused and out of my own element--in over my head. It would now watch, and relish, as I found myself unable to find a solution to my predicament here in this cave. The laughter seemed to echo from every recess.

Images of the pages of a book in my childhood "Greek Myths" came into my mind. Theseus and the Minotaur in the labyrinth. Hansel and Gretel came to mind, I needed some bread crumbs. I took the pieces of my headlamp and stuffed them in my pockets. I was unsure if there were more branches of tunnels ahead of me and I intended to be prepared if there were. I took the tunnel on the right. hoping that it would soon become impassible, proving that I never could have entered that way before. However, soon it seemed as if this tunnel must definitely be the one through which I had come. There was no physical evidence, just a feeling. I began to sweat, this is exactly the impression that I didn't want. If I had taken the tunnel on the left I would have been just as certain that it was the correct one. Nevertheless, I continued on through the tunnel, forcedly slower now, for the rugged green flashlight I clutched in my left fist.

I expected to be able to find my correct route of exit by process of elimination. Finding the dead end tunnels and marking them with bits of my headlamp until I found the way I had come. I now followed the tunnel looking for any sign or imprint in the floor of the have that would indicate I had passed that way. While I saw none, I was not entirely convinced that I had not passed this way before. This was not the feeling I wanted. I wanted to know, one way or another, if I was in the correct tunnel. I pushed forward, if there are no signs of passage, a sign of impassibility would surely arise. A puddle, a gaping chasm, a dead-end... but there were none, so I continued. Finally, I came to a sharp incline, which I knew I hadn't come down. I pulled my knees to my chest and turned around the way I had come. As I left the passage I marked it with one of the AA batteries from the headlamp. I repeated the process half a dozen times, the only encouragement I felt at finding a dead end was that I was surely coming closer to finding the way out.

At length, tired, parched, hands and knees worn raw, maniacal laughter ringing in my head. I found the route which would surely lead me out of the cave. I scooted through with renewed vigor, anxious to meet the outside world again. I knew I must be only perhaps a football field from my goal. I needed no other reason, I ignored my bleeding palms, and my aching back. I pressed forward.

Suddenly I found myself in an opening, I looked up to see a myriad of little stars against a pitch black sky. I had made it! I jumped to my feet. In the same instant, complete darkness enshrouded me.

I awakened to the sound of dripping water, and an echo that cut through the silence of the cave. my flashlight lay on the ground beside me, the bulb glowing orange. As I lay there, I assessed my situation. My head throbbed in addition to my hands, knees and back. I closed my eyes for a moment. When I again opened them, the light coming from my flashlight had gained a more reddish glow. I raised my hand to my head, it stung. I felt a short gash in toward the back of my crown, caked with dirt from the cave floor. I confusion I looked up again to see if the stars were still out. Now, with a better view I realized that I was still in the cave. the stars I thought I had seen were not stars at all. Neither were they the simulated universe of the Day and Night room. They were Glow worms. Glow worms anchored to the ceiling of the cave, very dim lights emitting from their abdomens, and on each, a short string of mucus that resembled a strand of hot glue. Together their glowing abdomens and these strings of mucus form a trap. Unsuspecting insects are attracted to the light, unable to see the danging snares, and when they are caught, they are stuck. And the glow worm has only to "reel in" it's prey by reswollowing its thread.

I reached for my dying flash light and shined it in front of me, I dabbed my head again and looked for blood. I decided that the gash was beginning to clot and wouldn't be a major concern. suddenly a firefly flew across my line of sight. I spun to follow its flight path. It landed above me and glowed brightly for a moment. In confusion I turned my dim light on it.

I could not believe my eyes! a translucent form with a bluish tint--as if it were carved from ice-- it's wings reflected the beam from my flashlight as they fluttered at an incredible rate of speed. A Fairy! It let go from its perch and hovered, lighting its abdomen. Another flew into the light and also hovered there. I faltered, drawing the light away from them. They followed it. I moved it again, very slowly and they kept pace with seeming fascination. I bobbed the beam and swayed it back and forth and now more came to it, they were not glow worms at all! One by one they would light up brightly, come down from their perches and join the rest at the beam of the flashlight. They seemed as fragile as glass figurines, and moved their arms and legs slowly and with grace, further accentuating the hummingbird-speed of their wings. But there was no hum. They moved in complete silence. I sped up the motion of the flashlight, and their own lights fluttered on and off with delight. They quickly adapted to my predictable, if not repetitive motion, and were able to remain in the beam. The slowly ventured closer, the light creating a channel through which they seemed to swim. Now they hovered at arms length-for me- in the light. they had perfectly black eyes, that would light up with a glassy reflection when their glow was live. Their mouths seemed fixed in a permanent pucker, and likewise their cheeks seemed set in a grin. Their faces were amazingly human-like, but had a defining differences. while their mouths seemed very similar to puckered lips, their noses were much like that of a grasshopper. long and rounded. with no visible nostrils. Their hair was while, nearly trasparent, and it sat it ruffled tufts. Their wings were a little larger than those of a cicada, and from what I could see of them when they were landed they had the same membrane as those of a mayfly or mantis, but with none of the sounds like insects make.

I turned off the flashlight and they began to flurry around. signaling, they seemed to be looking for it. Then they came close to my hands, their own glow staying lit and casting light on the flashlight in my hands. They waited intently, hovering maybe 1o inches from my hands, I could feel a breeze from their wings. I turned the light back on and they began to chirp, and dance and twirl in it. Their chirps were ever so quiet, and had a metallic ting to them. when they all began at once it sounded as if a thousand tiny bells were ringing in the small room. I watched in silent fascination. I counted them. There were about 34 of them, including the 3 who remained perched on the ceiling as when I had taken them for glow worms.

Friday, July 4, 2008


I got into a discussion about guns recently and I thought I would write down my thoughts on the whole matter of gun control vs. 2nd amendment rights.

I am not often accused of being crazy, I attribute that mainly to the fact that I do not often engage in political discussions.

When I am called crazy, it is usually by a crazy person. I don't by any means fall under the category of crazy-gun-loving-backwoods-hillbilly-republican.... at least one of those descriptors is not accurate.

I love guns. I was raised around guns, my father had quite a collection of guns for both practical and recreational use. I love shooting guns. It is fun and rewarding, and I take pride in being able to handle one with skill. Some of my fondest memories are of shooting guns with my father, or on a camping trip with the other young men from church. I love cleaning and polishing guns, I like knowing my gun inside and out, being able to disassemble it, make it gleam and then put it back together... It's the equivalent of any other craft hobby. It's not playing with fire if you follow the rules of gun safety. I love building guns, my brother helped me build a gun this year from scratch, not scratch, but... kinda.

I also fear guns. I fear being shot; This is why I am certified to carry a gun to protect myself and others. If someone around me has a gun I want to see them following the proper safety techniques to ensure that I will not be staring down a loaded barrel. I have a fear of shooting myself; I always check my gun to be certain if it is loaded or not, even if I just checked it 20 minutes ago, 1 minute ago even. Sometimes I double-check, just to be sure. I don't take for granted that my gun is totally safe simply because I am AWARE of how to safely handle a gun, I am always AWARE of the state of my gun and ensure that it is totally safe. I leave nothing to logic or reasoning ("oh yeah, this gun is unloaded because I remember checking it before I put it away..."). I fear being at fault for someone else shooting themselves(leaving a gun in reach of ignorant hands, Etc). This is why I think I have a very low likelihood of having one of these incidents--Because I am fully aware if the very HIGH likelihood that these things can, and do, happen if you get lazy, cocky or stupid even one time.

When I hear about people whose friends accidentally shot themselves or others, I think of two things. #1. That poor guy and his family/friends. #2. what an Idiot.

People too often try to imitate Hollywood depictions of what it means to shoot a gun. They get really familiar with guns, but not the correct/safe way of handling guns. They know their gun inside and out, but they are careless when they handle it. This is certain to catch up with them sooner or later.

I think it is the people who love guns for the right reasons, or in the right ways, that are least likely to ever have an incident with one. People who are raised with a fond curiosity of guns usually aren't instilled with a sense of the devastation they are capable of. All they know is that guns bestow power and luster on the handler. Not to say they aren't aware that they can blow someone away, more like they are raised by TV and video games to think of shooting/handling a gun as mainly an aesthetic art. In video games, you never miss, you never accidentally shoot yourself in the foot, you never accidentally shoot through your bedroom wall and kill your little sister. In movies, they never check to see if a gun is loaded before waltzing off with their finger on the trigger, they constantly carry a loaded gun and there is never an accidental shooting (a few of them are out there, like the cat scene in Boondock Saints). For many, a gun is synonymous with being a badass, a vigilante or judge and jury. not much credit is given to gun owners as being respectful of their guns. More often, guns are seen as a symbol of power, and they demand respect for the individual wielding them. Again, thank Hollywood for that.

When people say that "only law enforcement should have guns." I have to wonder whether or not they are serious. It sounds like a great solution; only those who have taken an oath to protect the citizens of this country should have the tools to do so. if it were possible to enforce, this logic could solve the drug epidemic, "only those who have a medical need for narcotics should have them". My point is that idealogical reasoning has no place in regulation/gun control. If there were no law enforcement, there would be only those who act in a way that is congruent with mainstream society, and those who act in a way contrary to social co-operation. throw in the enforcement of these standards (police, etc.) and all you have done is assigned a group to be responsible for dealing with the delinquent members of society... so here we are with 3 groups. The group of people who have the common value of life, and integrity, who set the standard and definition of values that make up any given society, the group of people sworn to uphold these standards (police and government legislation), and the group of people who don't recognize or adhere to social standards, or recognize the authority of law enforcement or legislation--criminals. Criminals break the law, a law stating that you're not allowed to have a gun is only effectively taking guns from those who are willing to comply with that law. leaving guns in the hands of criminals and law enforcement. So what is the point? who notices a law abiding citizen? you didn't notice that they had a gun before because it wasn't used in an illegal manner. you don't notice that they don't have one now because they act in the same way as before, sans personal protection. Where we notice the change, after gun control, is the spike in criminal use of firearms. the inability of people to protect themselves means easy targets for perpetrators of violent crime. take a look at D.C. Until a few months ago, it was illegal to carry a gun--concealed or not. The rate of crime is nearly twice that of the national average. I wont presume to attribute this rate to the fact that criminals are capitalizing on the knowledge that there is a low percentage of their victims who are likely to have guns, allowing some room for criminal on "criminal" crimes--"criminals" being citizens who have guns despite the law, but only for personal protection, their only crime being gun ownership, as opposed to being a perpetrator of violent crimes. also, allowing for some criminal on criminal crimes, such as gang warfare.

The causes of these high crime rates could be attributed to variants of anything from a higher presence of gang, or organized crime rings, poverty levels, depression, gentrification/ghettos, etc. But, in any case, these higher crime rates do not justify a legislation that takes away the ability of innocent victims to protect themselves from attackers. I hate statistics, because they never fail to make a strong point for someone's argument-- an inherent effect of biased research. anyway, here I go, using some statistics that make my point. about 1 in 5 victims who are armed with guns suffer injury or death from an attacker, as opposed to 1 in 2 who are protected with other weapons or no weapons at all. so one could say that, even if crime rates are neither increased or decreased, by taking guns from those who use them responsibly we would increasing the mortality rate of violent crimes. Gun control is essentially the opposite of a deterrent for crime. criminals will be criminals, you cannot keep guns from them, they will acquire them via illegal means. But seeing that victims are able to thwart or deter crimes more effectively when they have a firearm, taking their guns from them would be to eliminate a deterrent of crime.

I feel the gravity of a great responsibility to use my gun with discression. I don't have any aspirations of blowing someone away. I don't daydream about killing people. In fact, Nightmare is the word I would use to describe the idea of having to shoot someone. But, with enough evidence of the risk of being caught in a classroom or cafeteria, gas station or office cubical, post office or burger joint, I also feel very strongly obligated to defend those around me who would otherwise be fish in a barrel for some mentally unstable man with a death wish, or a vendetta. Or a sociopath criminal with nothing to lose. I get dressed and evaluate the risks around my errands or destinations. Some days I decide that the only risk would be in traveling between destinations (I don't consider church a High-risk zone) in those cases I leave my gun in the car. If there is even the slightest risk of a situation where I would possibly need my gun, I am most likely going to carry it. Some days I don't want to carry, but then I consider the guilt I would feel if I chose not to carry and then witnessed a crime I might have prevented otherwise. I feel obligated to carry even if I don't want to.


Just got back from a vacation. my first weekend for myself in about 17 months. I went with a good friend and his family on their retreat that took us all over the Idaho/Utah/Montana/Wyoming area, then down to Bear Lake, then out to Twin Falls Idaho. It was great to kick back and reconnect with friends. I feel like a part of that family. That may have something to do with the fact that I see more of this family than I do of my own. I thoroughly enjoyed and sunburned myself. I think I will take some time later to fill you in on the particulars... no pictures, I didn't have my camera with me. Revisit this post later and it should be more detailed. For now, I have some thoughts that I had better write down before they get too jumbled and confused.