Friday, December 21, 2012

The obligatory thoughts-on-guns post (sorry.)

(Author's caveat: This post contains just a couple stupid, but well-intended bits of esoteric humor I'm naively leaving in. It is in no way intended to reflect a light-minded treatment of recent tragedies.)

Just an estimation: It takes about 500 hours of well-rounded research and experience to have a valid 60-second opinion on most topics. Most people don't want to put in the work, but they want to take part in the discussion. This is why the discussion is nauseating to those who at least realize that they don't know what they don't know, and why those that don't realize that they don't know what they don't know also don't realize they are a part of the downward spiral.

If I didn't just lose you with that last sentence, thanks for sticking with me. 

I know a young man with a blog titled "The Experience-Free Opinion." I like the name of his blog even if I don't have time to read it most of the time, because he caveats his right to rhetoric with a healthy dosage of self-awareness. 

I'm building up the courage to post some thoughts and I think I'll start it with: I have no idea what I'm talking about because I don't know what I don't know. That said...

It is possible to not support a ban on "assault weapons" or "high-capacity magazines" in America, but at the same time to wish that they were never desired or easily provided for purchase by just anyone in the first place. (I write this with the understanding that the modern legislation defining what constitutes an "assault weapon" and "high-capacity magazine" was largely based on emotion and hollywood and mostly a symbolic gesture, not practical. More on that in a link below.*)

Just as it's possible to not support the prohibition, but not be a drinker myself and wish that others could find a more uplifting way of unwinding before they get into their car, or get angry at their spouse, or neglect their responsibilities and inconvenience others, or pickle their liver and cause their family and friends distress. (Not that all drinking results in these things, just all excessive drinking.)

And just as it's possible to not support large soda bans, but to certainly regret that far too many of our fellow country(wo)men are passing along bad health habits to children in their care; Children who already think that a sedentary lifestyle is "normal" and obesity-caused illness is probably just genes wreaking havoc.

Just as you wouldn't as an adult steal lunch money from a child, but you are baffled and saddened that s/he chose to spend that money on a "Black Eyed Peas" CD instead of eating. And then s/he sits through a live London Symphony Orchestra performance wearing noise-canceling headphones, listening to the CD over and over and over again.
People become exposed to, attracted to, and then dependent on unhealthy things, be it assault rifles or Coke. It seems as though they reach a state where they would be unhappy without those things and they tend to surround themselves with like-minded peers that enable and support their habits. Ideally, the goal should be to A) never reach that state or B) advocate self-awareness and replace the bad with something that is good/better for you and those around you. 

I will assume that you know stealing is wrong, bullies are bad, and people need to make their own choices until such time as they try to illegally take choice away from others. But if we ever have a chance to prevent something bad from becoming popular or "good" in the first place, let's give it a shot. Because once the people fall in love with it, then you're just the bully taking away their freedom of choice. Don't ban what you disagree with, however tempting as it may be. Rather, lobby and educate against what you disagree with lest it ever be widely perceived as desirable. If you care, and if you have a good case, make your case for a change of will, not a ban on choice. 

None of this will change the fact that using your choices to steal freedom from another (e.g. ending another's life via murder, or loudly singing along to the Black Eyed peas during the middle of a beautiful LSO performance for which people paid to hear the LSO and not you) is wrong, and rightfully illegal.

That's what makes a great society: People who have a choice, but make good choices. 

All that said, some places have reasonable preventative laws/restrictions/bans that are in place to prevent bad things from happening on accident: i.e. mandatory gun safes, trigger locks, speed limits in bad weather, school and construction zones, fire bans in public high fire danger lands, or FAA regulations for who is allowed to pilot a charter of children through the air. I just made that last one up, but it's probably real. You get it. 

Where do you draw the line? Can you own a functioning tank in a downtown area? An RPG Launcher? Are you allowed to take it anywhere? Should adults be able to do whatever they want as long as it only potentially harms him/herself?  Okay, but not children, right? Minors need to be protected from some choices for optimal development, right? Who decides who are children? Who decided that 18 years old is "adult?" Yet drinking age is 21, so for three years you're an adult, but not completely? (I guess there's an argument for gradual, tiered freedom granting, like in parenting.) Should there be exceptions to some freedoms for adults that act like or are stupider than some children 1/4 their age? What about adults with mental illness? What about mental illness that isn't easily detectable, but latently dangerous? Where do you draw the line, and is a 51% majority the only thing required to define the placement of the line?

Here's a question that requires more self-awareness, personal responsibility and civility, so it's appealing to me: 

What outlier "rights" are worth voluntarily sacrificing because it will make it harder for those less responsible than you to access the same "right" and abuse it to the detriment of innocents? Military-style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines easily fall into that category for me, the same way that I am not offended that I need a special government issued license to purchase or make C4 explosives. I am not offended that the Safe Explosives Act of 2002 and laws that existed before it make it very difficult for me to possess and use explosive tools. So why would I feel like a tyrannical government was infringing on my civil liberties if they made it equally as difficult to legally possess an assault rifle and high-capacity magazines? I'll tell you why: Because by now many people are used to being able to own them easily and freely. They've grown accustomed to the freedom. They ostensibly stand under the protective banner of the 2nd Amendment even while they are not equally offended that the 2nd Amendment doesn't grant them the right to stock up on regulated explosives. 

It's clear to me that the 2nd Amendment was inspired and should be protected at some level. I mean, just watch "Red Dawn." (To be clear, was a joke...kind of.) What is not clear is why many tools intended for taking massive amounts of life in a very short time should be allowed to any adult. In my "experience-free opinion" there is little room for that argument in this country. Some make a solid case that James Madison's 2nd Amendment was written for a different time, different circumstances and different weapons.

Now, for those that are somehow still reading, in addition to the link in the previous sentence, here is my recommended weekend editorial reading on the topic. A range of differing positions and opinions on both sides of the issue. I've collected these all in one place for your study and pondering:
  • A non-paranoid, level-headed, somewhat libertarian view.
  • The conservative case for an assault weapon ban, by the Republican-appointed federal judge that just sentenced Rep. Gabbi Gifford's shooter.
  • *A long, not very expertly substantiated editorial, but if most of it is true, still interesting read from a leftist that claims to also be a gun enthusiast. He ends his article with some food for thought.
  • What at first seams like a radical suggestion by Seattle's former police chief - repealing the 2nd Amendment - explains itself to be a fairly level-headed segue into simply regulating and registering the guns that people can and do own.
  • And the first informative, data-centric set of facts I read after the Newtown school shooting:
From the last link we see a clear link between gun control and drop in gun crime. Nobody is arguing that stiffer gun restrictions would eliminate 100% of premeditated gun violence, or even 50% of premeditated gun violence, but all the other developed countries in the world have already proven this is true: Stricter gun restrictions severely diminish the amount of gun violence. The only argument against it is that those countries may be "less free." That is likely a valid argument, but it's a broader argument.

That said, this is the USofA, and nobody is pretending that UK-esque laws would go over well here. (But we do love us some London Symphony Orchestra. Especially with an American at the helm.)

You may or may not be interested enough to study the data objectively. If you do, then there can be a discussion about measuring "free" vs. "not as free" societies and what the price of freedom is (the unit of measurement sometimes being liters of children's blood).

In closing, I acknowledge that this is largely a societal mental and moral health issue, more so than a gun issue. That doesn't mean there isn't a gun issue, it just means I believe underlying mental and moral health issues are what exacerbate what would otherwise be a smaller gun issue. 

This is all I currently know. I have no idea what I'm talking about because I don't know what I don't know. Then again, neither do you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Remembering Dave Brubeck and crying just a little.

I'm from Concord, CA.

Tom Hanks is from Concord, CA. 

Meh, he's still alive.

Dave Brubeck is from Concord, CA.


I feel like crying a little. I'm so grateful for recorded music, for it will be like he never left. I have so many stories to tell about how Brubeck's music enlightened, inspired and soothed my mind and soul, but I can't bring myself to write them now. For now, just turn off the light and listen to this with headphones. In the dark. Then move on to Blue Ronda a la Turk, and the rest of "Time Out." Do it.

Dave Brubeck has long served as proof that creative jazz and popular success can go together. Thank heaven. 

Syncopated rest in peace.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Don't vote (for just anyone), it only encourages them.

This post should only be read if you have nothing better to do. It is not intended to convince anyone of better ways. It is only intended to organize my thoughts and record them for posterity. If anything is learned or better understood in the reading of my clumsy words, that's a bonus. 
Before you get too worried that I'm wasting away my right and responsibility to vote, yes, I'm voting. But I'm not voting for the Republican or Democratic Party nominee. And not because they are Republican or Democrat. Unlike many partisan slap-happy citizens, the label alone doesn't automatically mean "evil" to me. It's individual rhetoric and actions that win me over or repel me.

That said, Obama, having been president for four years already has the disadvantage by default. He's had more opportunity in the spotlight to say things and do things that turn me off, and that's not quite fair to him vs. Romney. But then I remember his over-confident promises and realize he made his disadvantage even worse by signing up for one term proposition back in the first month of his presidency.

I mean, really. If you're going to walk into office making large promises about your presidency, at least leave it open ended so you have the flexibility to say you need a second term to fully execute them. No, this president said, (paraphrased) "if I don't do this, and this, within four years, it's one term for me." (Both links are to non-partisan mainstream journalistic sources for you to hear and see his words for yourself. No Rush, no Hannity, no Tea Party, Obama-hating spin.)

This isn't a matter of his adversaries catching him in nuances of his word choice. Even his most loyal supporters should be upset that he would be foolish (read: overconfident and/or naive)  enough to say make such absolute promises. And he didn't even come close to realizing them. Not even close.

Harry S. Truman, another Democrat who made tough decisions to drop bombs, differed in one significant way. He had a sign on his desk in the Oval Office that read "The buck stops here!"

I lose respect and trust for President Obama when he digs for excuses and passes along the blame for things he himself said his administration would do. Even if it wasn't reasonable for him to make those promises, he should at least own up to his former over-confidence. Instead, he digs a deeper pit.

These broken promises don't even take into account other justifiable reasons why even a hopeful democrat would not vote for him again. Violations of morality and concerning foreign policy such as these.

Not voting for Romney is a little less fair of me, since I'm obviously making judgements on what I'm afraid he would do, instead of anything he actually hasn't even had a chance to do as president. But there are a lot of people who haven't had a chance to be president yet and that doesn't mean I'm going to vote to give them a chance. My main issue with Romney is one of association, and in that sense, it might not seem fair, but it's fair enough for me, because my main concern is for the future, and if the GOP goes along thinking registered Republican are okay with what they are doing, they've got another thing coming. In that sense, Romney shouldn't take it personally, but the GOP as a whole should take it very personally. My current feelings are that casting a vote, my own personal stamp of approval, for the Republican National Party - its advertising, its congressional candidates, its loudest, most popular partisan cheerleaders, its embarrassing primary season and its treatment of the Ron Paul delegates at the Convention - would be disingenuous of me.

I am not one to reward bad behavior. I am often much harder on my own people than I am of those of other flocks. Just ask my Republican friends on facebook.

I'm also not a big fan of the face that Romney felt he had to put on to appeal to the base and win the nomination. I am more of a fan of the Romney that got some stuff done in liberal Massachusetts, and made a bunch of money being fiscally strategic and conservatively selective at Bain, and helping shape up and lead the 2002 Winter Olympics. I might vote for that moderate and savvy Mitt, but he wouldn't have been the GOP candidate if he stayed that guy. He barely squeaked by as is. It's not his fault that his party has become such a mess, considering he himself is actually not very representational of the mess (i.e. Romney is not Akin or Palin). But it is his fault he decided to become the guy who could get the nomination. 

So in a nutshell, I'm more frustrated with the evolving GOP than I am with their presidential nominee that's made a choice to work hard to appeal to the GOP. But I'm not comforted by Romney's foreign policy sound bites either.

I changed my voter registration to Independent about a year ago, then changed it to Republican when I learned that registered Independents can't vote in the Colorado Republican Primary caucus. As one who believes that Republcianism at its finest can actually be something admirable and inclusive and functional, I wanted to do my small part to help put rational voices at the head of the party. To no avail, yet.

I'm a moderate libertarian. Hardcare libertarians will tell you there's no such thing. I like bike paths, maintained hiking trails, and well-paved roads. I like National Parks (though I'd be okay with handing them all over to the states in a pinch). I'm a product of public schools (but private University). I don't mind paying taxes for improved shared quality of life, as long as waste is minimized. But I've come to learn that the Constitution makes it very clear that most all of those tax-funded quality of life perks are actually locally organized anyway. Or if they aren't currently, they could and should be. Very few things ought to be controlled by the federal government. The founding fathers realized that the federal government should be very limited in its power and plenty of rational people today still think so. These are not all people that own guns and vote straight ticket Republican. These are people like me. And people in your family. And your neighbors and friends. And maybe you. Rational philosophies held by normal, educated, thinking people with whom I bet you wouldn't be ashamed to associate.

May I make a very strong suggestion? Read the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights and other amendments. Read them every single year. Really. This is not an exhortation that you should take lightly and think in the back of your mind "yeah, yeah, I know, the Constitution." Literally read it. Take a Sunday afternoon, sit down with a nice cup of your favorite beverage and read it earnestly. Take notes. While you're at it, read the Declaration of Independence. 

Within the walls of my home (or church) I likely look like a social conservative. When I'm in a voting booth, or at work, or anywhere else, I'm a moderate libertarian that doesn't feel the slightest temptation to legislate my personal beliefs on the coast-to-coast public. This is not two-faced. This is one thinking person who believes that we should not be coerced by laws to do the right thing, and my right thing may not be your right thing, but usually it is. I believe most people are really good. I believe we need to be kind to each other and look out for one another. I believe we should be accepting of each other, so long as we don't infringe upon each other's rights. 

And because I believe that our big problems require tough solutions, and I don't see either the GOP or Democratic nominees laying down plans for real change (though they want you to think there's a big difference between them), I'm not giving either of them a stamp of approval (aka a vote), as I feel that would be disingenuous of me.

There are many this election with the "lesser of two evils" rationale. This rationale takes no longer term strategy into account of showing the two party system that there are are other parties. Or at least showing them that both of the two main parties should adopt more classic, American libertarian policies. Libertarian policies actually meld really well with Republican and Democratic core philosophies already, so it's not a radical request. Republicans should be drooling over Libertarian fiscal policy and smaller federal government. Democrats should be drooling over Libertarian civil liberties policy. Unfortunately neither main party voluntarily follows these philosophies as they should, because doing so would require them to give up one major perk: Power: The audacious assumption that their personal preferences should become national law.

George Washington didn't want power. He just wanted to faithfully fulfill his elected duty, do no unnecessary harm, and then retire quietly. To his disappointment, two parties were developing by the end of his first term. Wearied of politics, feeling old, he retired at the end of his second. In his Farewell Address, he urged his countrymen to forswear excessive party spirit and geographical distinctions. In foreign affairs, he warned against long-term alliances. I want George Washington back.

Abraham Lincoln was a Republican that campaigned for national unity and civil liberties. I want Abraham Lincoln back. 

The way Romney talks about foreign policy and Constitutional Amendments that many feel would infringe upon the civil liberties of others, he's no Washington or Lincoln. 

The way Obama seems smug in his election and eager to pass the buck, he's no Washington or Truman.

I'm voting for Gary Johnson, who will not win, of course. But me and maybe 6 million other people will be voting for him because we know we should vote, but that doesn't mean the options the two major parties are providing are in line with our principles. And we hope that both parties will get the message that they should do a much better job of applying libertarian principles to their existing platforms. At least that's my message. 

Call it a protest vote if you want. Call it a wasted vote if you want. But it certainly isn't as wasted as a vote for a candidate that scares me or disappoints me. Voting against your conscience is a truly wasted vote, wouldn't you say?

The economy is picking up. It's going to continue to get better at a snail's pace over the next several years regardless of who is elected on Tuesday. The two main parties don't want you to believe that, but I recon it's a very safe bet. Safer even than a Bain Capital investment and certainly safer than a Solyndra investment.

So, I am voting. But not for the establishment. Not this time. It only encourages them.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bonus Paternity Leave

A few months after Henry was born, Eric's work came up with a new policy giving new fathers an extra week of paternity leave - which he took two weeks ago.

We started off the weekend in Breckenridge. We just relaxed, ate some delicious pizza, saw some beautiful colors, and went on an amazing hike with Henry and Annie.

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking:

The lady who took this said this was going to be our Christmas card - Merry Christmas Everyone!!
Wow! Hey Annie.

 Here starts the pictures of during-the-week paternity leave:
At the Butterfly Pavilion!
Release of the butterflies
Blurry, but a butterfly landed on Eric's shoe!
Good thing Henry didn't notice that butterfly, he would have squished it.
Our hike to the beautiful Diamond Lake
  Eric made some yummy yummy chimmuritos one night. We also ate at the lunch buffet at Taj Mahal (in Louisville) and Henry made a mess on the floor. All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good week.

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

I looked at our blog today for the first time in a while, obviously. At first I felt bad that neither of us had blogged for a while; but then as I was perusing though others' blogs, I noticed that everyone else had not reached their full blogging potential this summer either. So there, grandparents.

At the end of August, Eric went out to Michigan for a backpacking trip with his brothers - I'll let him blog that later. Meanwhile, instead of being at home by ourselves for a week, Henry and I made our way out to Ohio to see Mimi and Opa. It was so nice to be able to get away from the mundane every day and spend time in the woodsey haven that is Mimi and Opa's house.
Opa kept the garden nice for us alllll summer long. With hungry deer and not much rain, this was a very appreciated feat. Henry loved being in the back yard. He found some great basil leaves and sticks to chew on, and we even got to see some deer - up close and personal.

We went out to lunch with Mimi and our friend, Deb. This is when Henry had his first (and definitely not last) experience with a dill pickle. Let me tell you, this kid was talking, being kind of fussy, and generally unsatisfied with the amount of attention he was receiving, but when we gave him his first dill pickle spear, he was a whole new (much more content) baby.
Mmmm Pickles
The same thing happened again a few nights later when we were eating dinner with Opa. Speaking of that night....Henry also got his first taste of chocolate ice cream. Mimi and I were just sitting on a bench and Opa took Henry somewhere to get some ice cream (supposedly for Opa). After quite a while we started to wonder where they were. We looked around this giant bush next to us, and, "DAD!!!!" There was ice cream all over little Henry's face. The minute I took Henry away from the ice cream was the first minute of true sadness in Henry's life.
Is it just me, or does this photo like like two pics stuck together?

Later in the week, we drove out to Michigan to pick up our Eric. He was staying at his brother, Daniel's house, so Henry got to see two of his cousins, an aunt, two uncles, and Gammie. We had an excellent breakfast and lots of fun with the fam. (I feel like there should have been pictures of more people though - we'll get them during Christmas.)

Don't worry, Henry's just punching cousin Ray - toughening him up.
This trip being Eric's first trip to Ohio with me, we had to do some fun stuff. We spent the whole Labor Day in Cleveland visiting the Rock Hall (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for those not in the know). It was really fun, especially for Eric - it was like his Disneyland. Plus he got in for free because he's a super talented musician who has an amazingly awesome CD. It just so happened that there was also an air show right next to the Rock Hall, so we got to see a whole bunch of airplanes doing crazy tricks.

In other summer news: We hung out a lot, went on some hikes, to farmer's markets, cooked some delicious food, and Annie says, "Hi!!!!"


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Do something awesome & be nice to people.

I haven't blogged in a while, and I'm okay with that.

Sometimes I wonder what my loving, wisdom-imparting, encouraging Dad phrase will be when I say goodbye to my kids at the beginning of the day, or when they go out at night, or whenever we part ways.

Some parents say "Remember who you are!"

Some simply say "Be good" or "I love you."

Jaime had a friend growing up whose dad used to say "No touching each other's privates or poking each other in the eye with sticks."

I just found myself saying to Jaime as she walked out the door to some event: "Do something awesome and be nice to people." Which could be understood as one thing (Being nice to people = doing something awesome), but I mean it as two different admonitions. 

Maybe that'll be my phrase.

We'll see if this evolves.

In the meantime, do something awesome & be nice to people.

The ampersand helps.

Posted via email from eric forsyth's posting place

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

6 Month Photo Shoot

I had to document the first 6 months of my little cutie's life. As of today, Baby H has two teeth on the bottom and can sit up all by himself for at least a minute. He has also tried the following foods: Bananas, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, peaches, and avocado. He (obviously) enjoys all food.

He's so sassy.

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Oh My Sweet Carolina" Toilet Seat Cover

Didn't want the weekend to pass before laying this down. (Headphones recommended.)

Posted via email from eric forsyth's posting place

Sunday, July 8, 2012

"Sea of Love" Toilet Seat Cover, Episode 4

I learned several cool songs that were requested for weddings I've played this summer and they've inspired me to bring my "Toilet Seat Covers" series  back to life. A couple of friends have been asking about it.

Here's "Sea of Love." Use headphones.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day

Just having a photo shoot on the new quilt that I made.

At least Annie looks interested.
Now everyone look right...Good.
My two favorite boys!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Who wants to go halfsies on a Westy?

This Westy ('93 VW Eurovan MV Westfalia Weekender) is sitting in a driveway just a short walk from my house. If it is in good condition and drives well, that seems like a great price compared to the listings I've seen online, but I'd try to get him down to $8.5k.

It occurred to me that car sharing is a really good idea for this type of car. As an RV it won't be needed everyday, or even every week, but is still small enough to shuttle the family around town as needed. So going halfsies on a car like this would be fun. I'm not sure how the titling works in that case, but it sure makes it a cheap buy (half the price, all the benefits).

Here are some pictures from when Jaime and I rented an even older, manual version of these pop-tops and had the vacation of a lifetime driving around Maui in 2009. Just imagine having one in beautiful Colorado. Drooling yet?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Henry's First Camping Trip

Friday, June 1 - we took Henry on his first camping trip to Flatiron Reservoir. We went up Friday morning, took a big 6 mile hike, had hotdogs for dinner, and smores (of course), then hit the sack. Henry slept great; however, being a mom, I woke up to every sound he made. Overall, it was a good trip.
Our site
Eric by the tent
Jaime by the tent
Henry's tent - don't worry, he slept inside our tent, this was just nap time.
Annie wanting to eat Henry's head.
Our little lounger
Everyone in their morning faces.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Things I want to teach my kid, #9

Not if, but when given the choice between being mildly adventurous and what some may consider disturbingly or uncomfortably adventurous, choose disturbingly and uncomfortably adventurous. You'll have better stories, more vivid memories and always at least one person who will do them with you (me). You will be faced with this choice not just every now and then, but every summer, winter, fall and spring. At least every weekend. Sometimes multiple times a day. Recognize the choice you have when others only see one option.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Gap Pose

Finally, a real "Gap Pose." This one's for you, mom...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Henry's First Real Food

Henry got his first taste of real food this week: Rice Cereal. Now, if that were my first taste of food, I don't know that I would veer from my regular milk diet; but seeing that Uncle Bradley gave Henry a taste of pineapple last week, the kid has to know there are more and better foods to come.

Here we have the food.
Henry, after his first few bites.
The happy, chubby baby.

So, in the first part of the video, I'm more focused on Henry than the camera, so we miss a bit. But, watch in the very last part where he is helping to shovel the food into his mouth with both hands...haha.