Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NOW IS THE TIME to listen to 'we the people'.

Pistol Toting Teachers.

News of the day––I quote in part:

A tiny Texas school district may be the first in the nation to pass a law specifically allowing teachers and staff to pack heat when classes begin later this month.

Trustees at the Harrold Independent School District approved a district policy change last October so employees can carry concealed firearms to deter and protect against school shootings, provided the gun-toting teachers follow certain requirements……….

…….In order for teachers and staff to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun; must be authorized to carry by the district; must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and must use ammunition that is designed to minimize the risk of ricochet in school halls.

Thweatt, (the superintendent) said the small community is a 30-minute drive from the sheriff's office, leaving students and teachers without protection. He said the district's lone campus sits 500 feet from heavily trafficked U.S. 287, which could make it a target. The kindergarten through 12th grade school district is home to 110 students.

I’m familiar with the area having worked at nearby Vernon before I married.  Harrold’s school may be close to U.S. 287 but it sure seems a long way from anywhere else. Lots of Texas plains out that way. I would never have considered it an “endangered” community, but who would’ve thought the safety conscious Sandy Hook school and its tranquil surroundings would become the scene of such violence.

Thweatt said officials researched the policy and considered other options for about a year before approving the policy change. He said the district also has various other security measures in place to prevent a school shooting. "The naysayers think [a shooting] won't happen here," Thweatt said. "If something were to happen here, I'd much rather be calling a parent to tell them that their child is OK because we were able to protect them."

It was unclear how many of the 50 or so teachers and staff members will be armed this fall because Thweatt did not disclose that information, to keep it from students or potential attackers.

The district is 150 miles northwest of Fort Worth on the eastern end of Wilbarger County, near the Oklahoma border. Wilbarger County Sheriff Larry Lee did not immediately return a call placed to his office by FOXNews.com.

Texas law outlaws firearms on school campuses "unless pursuant to the written regulations or written authorization of the institution. Barbara Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Association of School Boards, said her organization did not know of another district with such a policy. Ken Trump, a Cleveland-based school security expert who advises districts nationwide, including in Texas, said Harrold is the first district with such a policy.

While the district's plan shot them into the national spotlight, carrying guns to school is nothing new some states. In Utah, the law allows anyone with a permit to carry a gun in public schools and state institutions of higher education.

FOXNews.com's Michelle Maskaly and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

So there it is folks. Now we’re back in the days of marauding Indians and wild outlaws and our teachers may soon have another responsibility heaped upon them. However, as terrible as it seems, I expect many people at the scene of these mass murders, would have much rather have had the means to stop the killing rather than helplessly let it continue. What a terrible predicament we find ourselves in.

Last night I jotted down some thoughts about what is uppermost in our minds: What is causing all this violence and what can we do about it?

There are lots of thoughts bouncing around wherever people meet, for this latest massacre is the most hideous of all. Our babies and the brave people who tried to save them! Those lost lives must be the catalyst that changes our society. They must!

In the midst of our horror and tears over the unspeakable murders of last week, there is also anger. Anger, because for some the solution seems very simple. The hate for guns by many individuals is understandable and they are pushing for the elimination of guns from all citizens’ households. Personally, I doubt this will solve our problem and I have doubts it can be implemented peaceable.. The need for that standby of ultimate protection against danger is too ingrained in many lives for this to be a successful program. Regardless of fines, jail time, or face-offs with authorities, there would be defiance. There would be hidden guns, gunfights, and deaths.

No, I contend that guns are not the problem any more than an automobile plowing into a nursery school, or a can of gasoline and a match in a crowded building.  We cannot legislate against all dangers that a twisted mind can devise. Think of the damage an axe-swinging, deranged person could inflict!

So this is where we stand today. We can desperately plug the holes in the dike of our protection against dangers such as this at  Sandy Hook Elementary school  or we can hunt the real source of this flood of violence.  And if the opinions of many who are speaking out today are any indication, several things are highly suspected. The remedy will not be a quick fix but it must be done.

I’m sharing with you some comments on Facebook:

A ”shared poster” was one of the first to sum up our impatience with the lack of backbone in our Congress in failing to stand firm against special interest groups whose lobbyists probably far outnumber members of Congress.

One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and
we all take of our shoes at the airport
Thirty-one school shootings since
Columbine and no change in our
Regulation of guns.”
                                                                                                      John Oliver   

From Pennsylvania:

“Calling for total illegality of all guns isn't going to change the face of evil one bit. It will just insure that evil will be the only thing armed. Calling for better regulations and control is a great idea. Anything more feudal is....not.”

And yet another voice…
“I wish I could believe that a total ban on guns would work. But, it just won't. If it would, well, our streets would be free of drugs too. They're illegal. They're "controlled." It's a nice concept. And I understand the passion of those that want to pry guns out of the hand of every American. I really do. I just know that it won't work. Common sense (when it can rise to the top over the passion) will tell you that making something illegal doesn't make it impossible to own. Or even much harder to get. Evil will always find a way to make its mark. If that kid hadn't had guns at home, he could have gotten plans to make a bomb from the internet and done just as much damage. It just wouldn't have put ammunition (pardon the pun) in the hands of those that wish to ban ALL guns.”

A Texan puts in…

“ I have not read any of the expected gun controversy. It makes me angry. Many other things are contributing to the problem . Could it be the violent games? The movies? The publicity that always follows? Just try to control those! I was raised with guns and was taught to leave them to their proper place (I was also taught to mind my elders). My children were raised in a household with guns. Same situation. They also played 'cowboys and Indians' and went "Bang, bang" all around the yard, and seem to have survived and become caring and responsible adults. So what has happened in our society since the 60s? And even more important...what can we do about it.”

A Canadian speaks up….

 “It makes you realize all that discipline we got was for a reason and worked; I grew up the same.”

From Colorado…

“As I've been saying for a long time - this country has lost all its morals, corrupted its youth - forgotten everything that's important. The schools are not teaching our children values, morals, love, respect . . . And how many parents are failing to do the same thing at home? Stop worrying about offending others and focus on what's right. Teach your children to be polite, respectful, trustworthy, caring and loving. Bring God into your home, your hearts and your everyday. It's not too late to stop this madness. I have hope for the children of this generation but it's up to all of us.”

Then there was Morgan Freemans’ answer to the question of “Why.”

"You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here's why.

It's because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single victim of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he'll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.

CNN's article says that if the body count "holds up", this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer's face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer's identity? None that I've seen yet. Because they don't sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you've just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.

You can help by forgetting you ever read this man's name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem."

It was at this point, that while scrolling down Facebook hunting for a quote, that I came across a link that led me to a summation of all that had been in our minds. In this speech Joe Scarborough,MSNBC’s morning news anchor, very eloquently laid out our nation’s problems and I firmly believe he is right. He hit the gun manufacturers, the movie makers, those who create the violent games, and the fact that our money is going all over the world with nothing left over for providing care for the mentally ill. He slammed our congress members for not having the intestinal fortitude to do what is right for America instead of what is right for whomever the lobbyist are representing––and he didn’t let the parents escape their share of the blame for taking the path of easiest resistance in raising their offspring.

 These are tough opponents and the issues have become deeply ingrained in our present lifestyles.

Can we do it?

Mother, Grandmother, and Great grandmother

In memory

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rocking Chair Journey: THE BLOG HOP<...

Rocking Chair Journey: THE BLOG HOP
 THE BLOG HOP Wednesday, December 5, 2012 THE NEXT BIG THING (WEEK 27) There’s nothing like a deadline to get me...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


There’s nothing like a deadline to get me moving, especially if it’s only a few hours away and I’m a little curious about how I’m going to handle this particular situation. You see this isn’t my usual post about the old days or that wonderful, patient dog that lets me live here.

Tonight, I’m going back to almost four years ago when I dared venture into the world of writing fiction. It’s been an interesting experience. I’ve “met “ new people (on the internet and by chat sessions), read excerpts of their very interesting but yet-to-be -finished novels, and struggled to make my own stories  passable.

Back to that deadline I spoke of.  A writer friend, Gina Salamon, contacted me wondering if I would be interested in participating in something she had found interesting. Well, it seemed to be simply a matter of linking with other writers and answering a few questions––ten, to be exact, so I agreed and found myself “tagged” to do this question and answer thingy.

It didn’t take long to realize this could lead to some deep thinking ––something I have done very little of since the first of June when I started selling part of my hammered aluminum collection. By “part” I mean three or four hundred items, so I have had been limited on time to think about anything but keeping my computer functioning and keeping up with the various password changes that seem to plague my life.

The Blog Hop gives writers a connections to other writers' thoughts about their writing and current
projects, but could be of interest to others who are interested in what goes into writing a book and the titles of some of the latest to be published.

Following the blog hop rules, I will list each question and follow with my answer. Links to other writer friends and those I’ve tagged will be shown at the end.

What is the working title of your book?

 The title is simply Sarah.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’d previously written another story and had opened with prologue, which I later cut. I couldn’t 
bare to send it to the trash and finally expanded it into a story of its own.

What genre does your book fall under?

Historical fiction

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This is a tough one to answer since I've watched very few movies in recent years.

My main characters are:
Sarah Smith, recently widowed, in her early twenties, a fragile appearing blonde who is a saucy, independent frontier woman. Perhaps Amy Adams. She does saucy, very well.

Seth Hendricks, part owner of a lumbering business who becomes smitten with Sarah’s saucy independence when she defies him, despite believing he is a dangerous outlaw. Later, unable to forget her, he leaves the family’s lumbering business to start a new life and find Sarah, for he realizes she is the woman he wants for his wife. He is apparently doomed to meet Sarah under the most awkward circumstances. Cam Gigandet has been suggested. I'm at a loss, here.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Wow. I have trouble reducing it into one paragraph, but here goes: Sarah’s independent spirit helps her create a successful business, but leads her into trouble as she tests the restrictions of the customs of the 1870s, and it fails to shield her from her attraction to a man she is determined to hate.

Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?

I have no plans to self publish and would prefer to turn over the entire project to an agency.

How long did I take you to write the first  draft of your manuscript?

That part was quick. It took about six months. A year later I’m still correcting and rewriting.

What other books would you compare this story to within this genre?

I hesitate to make any comparison. I have drawn upon stories of my parent's and grandparent's lives in the 1800s, and although not of the same genre as Larry McMurtry's work, a few of Sarah's  characters have a faint resemblance to those he writes about.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

It simply grew out of the deleted prologue of my first manuscript. Those were my first words of written fiction and I suppose I couldn’t bear to send them into the trash pile.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Perhaps the main interest will be in seeing if Sarah learns to see Seth as he really is and not the uncouth outlaw she thought him to be.A romance between the two is expected and waited for. The issue of women's rights and Sarah's own rebellion against the existing laws, are similar to some of the problems of today. I believe many readers will also like to follow the lives of this cast of characters and experience the customs and lifestyles of 150 years ago as our nation moved westward. The characters may be of a long ago era, but they have ambitions to fulfill and prejudices to cope with; they find themselves in dangerous situations,and  must deal with outlaws and crooked politicians.

Dannie Woodard at Rocking Chair Journey http://rockingwithdannie.blogspot.com

Gina Salamon at http//gcsalamon.blogspot.com

At these sites you will find other links.

I have contacted the following writers. They have expressed interest but have not yet committed to filling a time slot with their answers to the questions.

Michael Bratton...writer of poetry and a novel in progress
Bobbye Hudspeth... writer of several novels, with one to be released this week-end.http://bobbye-land-hudspeth.jigsy
Sam Wazan.....author of The Last Moderate Muslim
Cynthia Morris...writing coach, author of a helpful blog for writers at : http://www.originalimpulse.com/blog/ and author of a new book, Chasing Sylvia Beach 

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Modern Day Fable

                                                 THE FRUITCAKE COMPETITION

It was two months before Christmas and the day had arrived when two bakers in neighboring towns were to submit to a gathering of purchasers, samples of their highly advertised fruitcakes. Each claimed their concoction was the best and kept its ingredients a closely guarded secret.
The two bakers had prepared their fruit cakes a month before, dousing them with enough of their own special mixture of liquor to assure none of their secret ingredients could be identified.
The baker from Podunk was satisfied that his blend of fruits and nuts had enough old-fashioned ingredients to appeal to the nostalgic memories of the prospective purchasers, and assure him of a satisfying contract.
The Bugscuffle baker had developed an unusual recipe that had a few closely guarded secret ingredients he felt sure would make him the winner.  
With a great amount of fan-fare, the two competing bakers set their cakes on stage for all to view. They were beauties and their fruity aromas filled the room.  The rules of the contest called for the bakers withdrawal from the premises and impartial persons had been chosen to serve a slice of each cake to the would-be purchasers.
The two bakers waited anxiously for the announcement of a winner. Instead, the following morning’s news reported an unusual number of persons complaining of extreme nausea had been admitted to the local hospitals, and that health authorities were trying to pinpoint the cause.
After an investigation of several weeks, including the testing of all the ingredients used by the bakers in their fruitcakes, it was determined that the cause of the illnesses was a few aged nuts in the Podunk baker’s cakes, combined with the special concoction from a bottle labeled malarkey, which had been poured liberally over the Bugscuffle baker’s cakes.
Although the incident received considerable publicity for a few days, the furor soon died away and nobody noticed that a grandmother in a small nearby community had become exceedingly busy as a supplier of fruitcakes to the desperate suppliers who were facing a nationwide shortage of this staple of the holiday season.
The grandmother had guaranteed there would be no malarkey or old stale nuts in her products.


                                     YOUR FUTURE DEPENDS UPON IT.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Old Things

       There's no explaining one's thought process but several weeks ago I thought of an old book of my childhood. I have no idea what made me think of it or when I last looked at it. I had no idea what had happened to it, but it was long gone. And I wanted to look at it again.
        I became obsessed with the idea. It was out there somewhere. Google can find anything. And sooner or later eBay will have it up for auction.
So I started searching for A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. And it was on eBay. Twelve pages of listings. Fifty books per page.  There was one printed in the late 1800s. There were some with torn pages, some  that were falling apart, and some never opened. From that early one, to reprints  in every decade, I searched for a familiar cover. There were leather backed ones, and tattered ones, children in old-fashioned clothing, and modern-day ones. But never the right book.
          One, belonging to the seller's 93 year old aunt and very well preserved, appealed to me. The $123 price didn't. Some had scrawling pencil marks. I was taught not to write on my books, so those were not considered. Some were inscribed and dated as a gift. Those had no appeal, for that defined them as belonging to someone else. There was a "very rare" one for $200. I passed on that one also.
        Then last week my book appeared. After all these years (at least 80), I recognized it immediately. It was a 1919 issue and priced at $3.70 with one bid and 6 days of the auction remaining. I put in my bid and waited.
Oh how I wanted that book! Finally, in the last few minutes, I could stand it no longer, and entered a ridiculously higher price just to be on the safe side, hoping no one else would be so silly.
      The seconds ticked away and I won my book for only the $4.20 of my first bid. Now I'm looking forward to once more reading those wonderful little verses once more.

       Okay, so I'm in my second childhood. So what! Childhood was fun.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Cynical Senior Citizen


I’ve had all I can take.  The final straw has fallen upon my back. I’ve been beaten down beyond the point of fighting back.  Almost.

My problem? The news–the talk shows–the hypocrisy–the out-of-context quotes–the use of divide and conquer techniques, and the magicians’ tricks of distractions and delusions.

Quiet a list, huh? Yet that’s what we’re being fed every day.

Two days ago, I followed a link to an article reporting on the “lies” of a prominent politician. There were numerous quotes, each followed by a statement that this was “a lie.” There was no explanation of why that statement was labeled a lie. The truth was not explained. Therefore the politician has been branded as dishonest. Whether or not the reader believes these statements are the whole truth is not important. The tiny seed of doubt has been planted.  “Lies” has been coupled with a name.

Recently, we have been shown that there are some very uninformed people running for public offices. People who are not even smart enough to keep their mouths closed about issues they know nothing about. And they expect to be a part of our governing establishment?  We are in deep trouble if the caliber of our potential leaders has sunk this low.

Exactly, how do our leaders get chosen? We know that for most public offices the final choice is up to the voters–but who first supports or endorses these persons? What have they done to make them worthy of running our various governing bodies? And in today’s world of misinformation, what person wants to take the risk of having every misstep, from kindergarten forward, being publicized, exaggerated, and used as fodder for all the pundits’ high-paying shows?

Even our heroes– our icons of accomplishments–are being destroyed. What is the point of pride in watching the gold medal awards of the Olympics only to find later the award is ruled to be undeserved?  Was it? Why this determined pursuit of winner who had followed all the rules and been declared a winner? Who appointed these judges and were they within their rights­–or was this a witch-hunt like those held centuries ago? And why is every word a sixteen-year old accomplished athlete speaks, examined so closely?

We are facing some of the most important issues of our lifetime: How to handle our overwhelming debt; how to keep our freedom of choosing our lifestyle; how to be sure our children get a good education, and how to prepare for security in our twilight years. And to aid us in making our decisions we are facing political ads carefully crafted to influence our opinions. There are quotes from persons who may (or maynot) be qualified to judge the ability of their favored candidate–and there are our reporters, some of whom search for the truth and some who search for the scandalous.

Last night’s late night coverage of the Republican convention seemed rather interesting until it veered off course and turned into an in-depth analysis of what was behind each sentence or why other words were not used; what was the motivation of the speaker and what was their personal agenda ––then it degenerated into a rather nasty round of accusations.  All it took was one small click and I put an end to the report.

Despite all this, I will vote. And I will continue to fume over the pompous statements and opinions expressed by those who assume they know what is best for we ignorant peons. And I must remember, all politicians should not be painted with the same brush. Some deserve tar and feathering. Some merit a gold star. 

When it all gets too tiresome, we need to remember our humorists from days gone by. They often spoke the truth disguised as humor. From Mark Twain, Will Rogers and a former president, this one, attributed to Ronald Reagan, may best sum up the political game:

           “Politics is not a bad profession.
                                  If you succeed,
           There are many rewards;
                                  If you disgrace yourself,
           You can always write a book.”

Ho hum,