Saturday, January 19, 2013

A little advice

Happy Gun Appreciation Day. In honor of the holiday, I thought I would give some sorely-needed advice to those celebrating the event with gusto.

To make my position clear on guns, I don't personally own any, I respect that people have a Constitutional right to own them, but I am also in favor of a few reasonable common-sense measures like limits on high-capacity magazines, waiting periods and universal background checks that will allow people to own as many guns as they want while still trying to prevent tragedy. I am not in favor of kicking in your door with Obama in the middle of the night and seizing all of your guns. Even though this seems to be the only definition of "gun control" that gun enthusiasts believe exist, I have never actually heard anyone I know advocate for that particular course.

Honestly, I don't think the fact that people own guns is the main problem here. I know plenty of totally responsible people who enjoy target shooting and hunting and I am very comfortable with them owning a gun. The real thing that concerns me, as it concerns many friends I've talked to, is the large segment of the population that are scarily obsessed with guns. The ones who are ranting and raving daily on Facebook about the 109 guns they own and how anyone who comes for them will have to pry every one of them from their cold, dead hands.

What those people don't realize is that those posts are actually making people want to take away their guns even more, before they decide that the Constitution is telling them to defend themselves from tyrannical government by shooting up the local courthouse. A word of advice to people who want to do their part in keeping strict gun control laws from being enacted: Don't act like one of the crazy people who you're insisting are the real problem.

Seriously. The gun lobby has really shot itself in the foot on this one (just like the people who are so obsessed with their guns they do stupid things like handle them when drunk or dance around nightclubs with a gun in their waistband without the safety on). Let's look at what the pro-gun movement has given us to consider while our nation weighs gun control:

There's the vice president of the NRA, who suggested in all seriousness that the best way to reduce the rate of shootings in elementary schools is to put a bunch of guns in elementary schools. If he wanted to convince the people whose motto is not "In guns we trust" to give him a seat at the table in these discussions, that was not the way to do it. Statistically speaking, if you own a pit bull you are more likely to be bitten by a pit bull. If you ride your bike to work you're more likely to be involved in a bike accident. And mathematical analysis has shown if there is a gun in your home you are significantly more likely to get shot. It would logically follow, then, that if there are armed teachers in your school or guns locked in boxes at strategic locations, you are also more likely to get shot.

There are the Sandy Hook truthers who are sending death threats to people in Newtown who they believe were paid off to participate in a government set-up to stir people to action on gun control (they also believe the Virginia Tech Massacre was perpetrated by a government black ops team and Aurora's shooter was brainwashed by the government). If you're sick enough to believe a bunch of people would be okay with mass slaughter to make political point, you're disturbed enough to go on a rampage yourself and stupid enough to shoot someone accidentally.

There is the guy who came up with the idea for Gun Appreciation Day. He told a black news anchor with a straight face that Martin Luther King Jr. (who, just as a reminder, is a famous non-violence advocate who was shot to death) would agree with having Gun Appreciation Day the same weekend as MLK day because if black people were given the right to own guns from day one in our country then we probably wouldn't have had slavery. If you can't see the numerous ways in which this was an incredibly dumb thing to say, explaining it probably won't do any good. But at least he seemed to think the end of slavery was a good thing-- two of the biggest sponsors of Gun Appreciation Day are white supremacy groups.

There is the gun shop owner who posted a rant on YouTube about how angry the gun control debate was making him, and if people tried to enact gun control laws he was going to start killing people. There are the people who have liked the video. There are the people who have posted similar things on Facebook and Twitter. There are the people who talk about a "second amendment remedy" to the election results they didn't like.

The people who are against any form of restrictions on gun buying whatsoever love to point to the mental health system as the place everyone should really be focusing. "Lock all the crazy people up," they say. And then you have people like the vice president of the NRA, who told NBC if his proposal to mandate guns in schools sounds crazy, "then call me crazy."

Be careful what you wish for, sir.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Be My Guest

This week our town hosted the Utah Ballroom Dance Co. The ballroom dancers teamed up with local celebrities, practiced for a few days with them and then did a full-fledged Dancing with the Stars concert, complete with judges, videos of practices, and a giant mirror ball trophy, which our sheriff now displays proudly in his office after dancing the jive in a sailor suit. Small towns are awesome.

Anyways, we were asked to host a few of the dancers, and we're always up for hosting people who come to town for performances. When Mom mentioned it and asked if we should sign up for guys or girls, Cole said, "Ask for guys. They'll take way less time in the bathroom and maybe we'll find Jade a husband." So we ended up with four guys. I didn't find a husband, but it is true they didn't spend long in the bathroom.

We put the guys in the boys' room, which has two sets of bunk beds. It was a nice change because usually when we have company I get kicked out of my room, and then it's annoying when I want to get something out of there and people are in it. The one good thing that has come out of that is that I got a new mattress out of it once. I had been complaining for literally years that my ancient mattress was lumpy and dipped down in the middle and springs would poke out the sides and occasionally draw blood. They never listened until one night for some reason they let a guest stay in their bedroom and slept in mine instead. The next morning they didn't say, "Oh poor Jade having to sleep on that awful bed" it was "Oh my gosh, we let company sleep on that? We have to get a new one before the next time we have guests." So they bought a new bed ... and gave me the one they had been using. Still, it's much better than the one I had.

Cole was actually happy that people stayed in his room because Mom cleaned it for him while he was at school. He almost didn't recognize it when he got home because there was carpet on the floor instead of a layer of crumpled clothing and piles of torn-apart electronic devices he was scavenging parts from. When all three of the boys lived at home and my parents complained about their messy room, each of them always blamed one of the other brothers and then proclaimed with disgust that if they had their own room it would always be clean. Once people started moving in and out and each of them had their own room at some point this proved completely false. True, my own room is not perfect. But I keep the clothes on my floor in a pile next to the dresser instead of strewn across the whole floor, and they're all clean or only slightly worn. Nobody has ever walked into my room to talk to me and stepped on a pair of dirty underwear.

The rest of our house is generally fairly clean so it just took the regular cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming up the daily dose of dog hair, etc. to get it ready. Ironically if we hadn't cleaned at all it still would have probably appeared great because your average teenage/twentysomething guy isn't living in a white-glove-approved environment anyway (see above paragraph). Some of them might have actually felt more at home if we'd thrown a couple of pairs of boxer shorts on the bathroom floor.

The first night they got there, after the first of the two concerts they were doing (one was half Dancing with the Stars and half showcase and the second night was all them), we had fun talking, especially about the show and what went on backstage. Having performed numerous plays on that stage I laughed when they complained about our school's awful backstage setup (or lack thereof). I knew that the reason some of the guys didn't have their black bowties for one number was because it is extremely difficult to locate black costume pieces when you're doing quick changes in the dark, plus it's so cramped everyone else's clothes are landing on yours (one guy who was staying with us had a really hard time performing the quickstep because as soon as he rushed on stage he realized the shorts under his costume were his female partner's and not his, which is definitely a good way to severely cramp your range of motion). I also laughed when they said the stage door that lead outside kept coming open and making the side curtain go crazy until they tied it shut. Yep, done that too (sorry fire marshal).

I didn't see them the next morning because they were still asleep when I left for work, but that was fine with me because when I wake up in the mornings it's definitely not like in the movies where women pop out of bed with perfect hair and makeup each morning. I did, however, get some of the freshly baked pumpkin chocolate chip muffins my mother had prepared for them. After all, everyone knows that the whole point of having guests when you're living at home is so your mom will make extra good food.