All posts by annmeeker

Ann is an author of short-stories and a number of unpublished novels, a copy-editor, and a passionate run/walk marathoner.

Typical Day at the Learning Center

The Summit Learning Center (SLC) is open from 11 to 4 Friday through Monday, other days as can be arranged. Wednesday this week was cold and drizzly–in the low 50s at the top–yet dozens of bicyclists and far more hikers than I imagined had venture out in the weather and arrived at the top, cold, wet, and euphoric. At 10:45, faced with the decision to sit in a cramped RV all day or open the learning center where coffee and heat are found, I decided to open up and put the bikers and hikers out of their smug misery.

The SLC’s budget may never be the same. Coffee, hot chocolate, and tea were in (pun intended) hot demand, and directions to the “shortest way back to…” hikes were requested. Thankfully, I’d hiked both trails leading to/from the SLC, so the questions were easily answered. The supply of cups and hot chocolate were not so easily extended. Still, at least so far in our one week of hosting, that day was fairly typical.

2015-08-08 12.51.32Darlene is the usual Friday and Moday interpretive host, and she is the creative person behind most of the signs and artwork around the center. She, along with Doug (whom we replaced as on-site “interpretive host”), are also the bat specialists, and Doug does all-things-electronic. There used to be a tank of Kokanee fry to educate visitors about the fish hatchery at the base of the mountain as well as a display of live newts, but both have been discontinued as the tiny environments were deemed stressful to the temporary residents. The plan is to create a “bat cam” that will show bats in their natural habitat, without disturbing them (see Elliott’s post on bats (and if I did this right, that should link to his excellent article).

Most of the five hours of hosting duties is spent answering questions, such as:

  •  Why is Mount Constitution called Constitution?

Because Robert Moran, the man who donated the land for the state park, named it after the USS Constitution. He made his fortune as a shipbuilder.

  • How high is Mount Constitution?

Depending on which geologic survey you ask, anywhere between 2398 and 2409 feet. The latest and probably most accurate is the 2398 figure.

  • Why are female eagles bigger than males (in response to a question on the wall)?

Nobody knows for sure, but consensus seems to be evolving around the fact that females spend more time on the nest than males after the chicks are born, and baby eagles don’t yet have the ability to regulate their temperature, so mama eagle hovers and provides the warmth they need for the first two weeks or so.

Thankfully, there’s a computer at the center, so if something else comes up I can Google it, such as “What are the caves on the trail and where do they lead? Do they have bears here?” (Mine shafts and no, respectively.)

There’s also a coloring and treasure hunt station. The SLC has a sheet of images that kids are supposed to find and then circle with a 2015-08-08 12.51.48crayon (a bird, a moth, grass, etc.). When completed (even partially), the child gets a prize. The best thing for kids is a “Journey Pack,” which includes binoculars, a magnifying glass, several books, and plant identification charts, and they can check out the pack, to be returned to the park office at the base a day or so later.

There’s also a 24-hour webcam showing the weather at the tower, updating every couple of minutes (currently cloudy, cold, and drizzly).

The SLC is operated by Friend of Moran State Park, a nonprofit volunteer organization. roganjones-smallThey also operate the gift shop across the way, and are the ones who arranged for us to be hosts here. All of their funds go to making Moran State Park a rewarding, enchanting, and educational resource for visitors.




Little Summit Trail and Mount Constitution Loop

This is an almost 7-mile loop at Moran State Park–though my GPS registered it at 11 miles. I’m learning not to trust my GPS here. It takes about 3 hours to complete, and is rated “difficult” because it has a 1490 foot elevation loss/gain. If you start at the top, the only “unmarked” portion is at Mountain Lake–it *is* marked, but only if you look back over your shoulder after you pass the picnic area.

One of the most interesting parts of this hike is the changing ecosystem. Near the summit, much of the ground is rocky, with brush and small trees emerging from the bedrock–as if you were above the tree line, though that isn’t really the case, as some of the trees at the summit are taller than the tower itself now. On the Twin Lakes trail, trees are old, huge, and mossy, like childhood images of 2015-08-01 14.33.21an enchanted forest, sunlight streaming down in sparkling rays to lead you away from the haunted witch’s house. Further down the trail, trees are younger and taller, and trails are smoother. The sky is more visible, and the view opens up to the snow on Mount Baker, over 10,000 feet high and more than 100 miles away; from the trail, you can imagine you’re looking down on it. Then after Mountain Lake, the uphill trail becomes extremely steep and rocky, the remnants of an old pathway for phone lines back when crank phones were still used.

2015-07-28 17.05.15I didn’t see any black-tailed deer on my hike (this photo came from the day before, without any telescopic enlargement), but that’s probably due more to the time of day than anything else, as they are prevalent all over the island, and blasé about humans. “Got food?” they seem to ask, though we’ve been warned not to feed them because they can be unpredictable. One night around 10 p.m. we were startled by the sound of someone shuffling through the gravel right next to the RV. It turned out to be a curious deer in search of food or company.

The trail from Twin Lakes to Mountain Lake was wide, flat, and suitable for trail running in most places. (I tried running for a short distance, but I’m too unsure of my footing. Each rock and root became a major obstacle to my peace of mind.) The path narrowed somewhat when getting to the lake, but from a distance I could hear 2015-08-01 13.21.11the sounds of swimmers, boaters, and campers. The loudest shrieks came from kids on a rope swing halfway down the east side of the lake. A small boat ramp showed where kayaks and inflatables put in, and a boat of fisherpeople was loading just as I arrived. The Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks trout in the lake, and both trout and Kokanee salmon are found in Cascade Lake.

And then the hike became a serious uphill trudge. Up till now, it was all pretty much downhill–all 1500 feet of it. The next mile was so steep I found myself stopping often to catch my breath, with all sorts of “what ifs” going through my head. There is no cell phone serivce here, so–What if I fell down a ravine? What if I twisted my ankle? What if a tree fell on me? None of these was likely, so I shoved the thoughts out of my mind and concentrated on the trees and plants around me. The path parallels the road for a while, then branches off toward Little Summit, only a short three-tenths of a mile away. At that point, it might have been 300 miles, as I was too focused on getting back to the top in time to check in at the Summit Learning Center. I’ve been told the views to the west at Little Summit are unlike those at the top, which are to the east. Now, a couple of days later, I’m wishing I’d taken the time to go, but I guess that’ll be a tale for another day.

Summit to Twin Lakes Hike

Hiking the Summit to Twin Lakes

One of the major benefits of living at Moran State Park is the abundance of hiking trails–almost 40 miles of trails in the 5252-acre state park. Some of the trails are only open to hikers, while others allow horses and still others permit mountain bikes in the wintertime. Because we’re based at the tower on top of Mount Constitution, the highest point in the San Juan Islands, all trails lead downhill.

And it’s a heck of a downhill. The shortest trail–that to Twin Lakes–is probably also the steepest. It descends 1289 feet to a pair of lakes 2015-07-29 14.39.27a mile and a half away. The brochure describes it as “easy to difficult,” with the easy part being around the lakes themselves. It’s a challenging hike on the way back up.

The trails are well maintained, though deadfalls over the summer mean one has to step over a few of them. Come September, the local mountain biking group will return to clear the paths for winter biking, and then rangers will clear them again in the spring.

Most of the trees–lodgepole pine, Western red cedar, Western hemlock, and Douglas fir–are what I would call “old growth,” though compared to some of California’s sequoias they are probably just mere saplings. Many of them stand more than 100 feet tall, but there is little of the underbrush found in Eastern forests.

Elliott and I saw and heard a raven (though for a brief time I was convinced it was a bald eagle). An interesting fact from the Summit Learning Center: a circling group of flying vultures is called a kettle, because it resembles the bubbles in a kettle of boiling water. Otherwise, our only wildlife viewing was a curious chipmunk.

The trail down to Twin Lakes is variable. Some of the path is filled with loose rock and fairly narrow, while other sections are wider and easy for trail running (at least for this novice). There are only a couple of times where Mt. Baker can be seen. Still, the feeling of being “one with the wilderness” is everpresent.

Ann Elliott Twin Lakes July 2015The hike around the lake is through rocky trails, and hikers venture onto a part of the local YMCA’s Camp Orlika, which shares a border with the lakes. Kids were swimming in the lake, which we were later told was full of leeches. We took our first selfie here.

And then we started back up. I had to stop at nearly every switchback to catch my breath. As Elliott said, this is like going to the top of the Empire State Building on a handicapped ramp. We finished the hike in 2-1/4 hours (including going around the lake, stopping for photos, and so forth), and felt renewed, refreshed, and out of breath.


Living in a Small RV

Once Elliott got the mechanics of the RV figured out, it was time to discover how to live in it without stepping all over each other.

AC floor planFor example, the bed is up a short five-step ladder above the cab (see the bed above my head in yesterday’s post by Elliott). Whoever goes in first will have to climb over the other person if he or she needs to find the bathroom, 12 feet in the opposite direction–one reason to keep from drinking that third or fourth tea (or in my case, a second glass of wine…). We have to be fairly limber to just get INTO bed, much less crawl over someone on the way out in a space no larger than three or four stacked double mattresses, without heading head first down the ladder.

The refrigerator is slightly larger than a dorm fridge, and we discovered yesterday morning it has a tendency to freeze the fresh produce. Hopefully, the recent adjustment will take care of that without melting everything in the teensy freezer (current contents: two lbs. of coffee and a pint of ice cream). A small fridge is probably my biggest frustration so far, since we’ll be getting produce only about once a week at the farmers’ market–and I tend to go through a lot of produce in my cooking. So, for now, we’ll be having beans and rice, beans and pasta, beans and…more beans. I’m trying to think of it as practice for living on an imaginary sailboat for weeks on end! In the meantime, there’s more space for chilled beer–not a bad thing!

The shower is another place where space is constrained. Stand up and lift your elbows about three or four inches from your sides like a slightly demented robot. Now turn around. Yes, that’s how much space there is. That’s my foot in the shower, giving you a sense of relative size. 2015-07-31 09.24.52I’m exaggerating slightly, because the shower curtain gives you a little more flexibility, but a telephone booth (remember those?) would have given Superman a bit more to work with. It’s not like I didn’t expect it to be cramped, and it’s worlds better than the one in our LeSharo simply because you CAN stand up and take a shower, but it’s a reminder how luxurious a standard bath is.

Cooking is…different. One large pot, one smaller pot, and a tiny fry pan mean a lot of one-pot meals are in our future. The large pot doubles as a salad bowl, and the colander doubles as a fruit basket to remind us to reach for fruit instead of chips and such. We also have a coffee maker (like I would live without one) and a small crock pot, and one of these cold evenings I’m going to set it up with oatmeal for in the morning. We turn on the hot water right before our shower or 2015-07-31 15.58.36before we wash dishes, and then turn it off again when we’re done, and we turn on the propane stove as needed. By conserving gas, we hope to make it through the season without having to drive the ten very steep miles down to the propane supplier. Needless to say, it’s a one-cook kitchen.

Overhead storage bins provide plenty of room for our clothes, and the pantry has plenty of space as long as you don’t mind hunting over and under other items for whatever it is you need. The big pot is stored in the oven. (Hey, I have an oven! Alas, no oven-proof dishes or pots.)

As a test experience, I gotta say that living in a small RV is working out just fine.

Getting to Orcas

Taking off from Eagle Neck

We said goodbye to Seattle about 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, I think. (Already I’m losing track of the days.) About 30 minutes north, we stopped at a Fred Meyer store in Everett to make last-minute supplies and grocery purchases. (For all you East Coasters, Fred Meyer stores are a lot like mini-WalMarts–pretty much all of the same supplies, but with fewer options of each.) Traveling as far west as Albuquerque in a small plane meant that we had limited weight and space restrictions, so “essentials” like folding chairs, dishware, and even bulky pillows were not included in our take-off plans. We had restricted ourselves to 50 lbs. each for clothes and personal items (including laptops and electronics), and then 50 lbs. for “community” items such as tools for any eventuality, blankets, pots and pans, and so forth. We managed to come in at about 40 lbs. each and an additional 40 lbs. for the rest, for a total of 120 lbs., well under the weight of an assumed 150-lb. back-seat passenger. Because weight and density altitude make it difficult to land in emergency situations, we wanted to be sure we could take off on shorter runways; though we never needed a longer runway, it gave us some measure of reassurance to know we were prepared.

Fred Meyer turned out to have pretty much everything we anticipated needing–but since our camper was as yet sight unseen and not tested, we held off on anything that might need refrigeration. (Isn’t it handy that red wine doesn’t need refrigeration? I think so.) This was our last chance to make purchases on the mainland–after this, we were going to be paying island prices. We ended up getting more cans of beans than Elliott imagined, and a lot of rice and pasta to tide us over. (I am eagerly awaiting the farmers’ market in Eastsound on Saturday.)

2015-07-25 14.39.12We made it to the ferry with almost two hours to spare and indulged in reading our books and people watching as we waited to drive onto the ship. The ferry was amazingly clean and calm, though we had a few moments of consternation when the loudspeaker announced, “Would the owners of the black Audi A6 with New Mexico plates please disable your car alarm.” Car alarm? We have a car alarm? By the time we got there with the key, the alarm had stopped, but we stayed with the car the rest of the journey to shore.

We landed on Orcas Island without further incident, and drove the few miles to Gordy’s Garage, where Randy Davis met us with the keys to our “new” 1976 American Clipper RV.

Ann’s Ruminations

Elliott has always loved hiking in the desert, so I was looking forward to seeing its appeal through his eyes when we finally got to the West Texas/New Mexico area. Mother Nature, however, had other ideas.  Still, the green desert–unusually verdant for the season–had a stark beauty to it that made me think, “I could live here.” I loved the traditional architecture and the way New Mexico has adapted Mexican and Indian heritages, especially with regard to food (always a happy trigger for me). I could definitely see the attraction.

Then we found our way to a small community just west of 2015-07-21 14.55.52Pagosa Springs, Colorado, overlooking the Rocky Mountains. Deer bedded down a few hundred feet away, horses and wild turkeys roamed the area, and I once again thought, “Maybe I could live here.” (Note: I have no intention of moving, but this is a game I play with myself wherever I go. I have no idea why. The grass is always greener syndrome, maybe.) The peace and quiet was soothing after four days on the move. It had a different beauty from the desert, more in keeping with my Midwest and East Coast sense of wilderness. I kept my eyes open for elk, but apparently they’ve moved further upland during the summer.

Driving through the canyon country (which I hadn’t seen since I was maybe twelve years old, competing four? five? probably not six? younger siblings for a view), with nary a homesite in view, I could imagine how the pioneers felt as they crossed the country. I wondered what it would be like to live that far from civilization. I could do it, I figured, though it might be difficult living that far from neighbors, so I added “for a while,” and then, “but maybe not in winter.” Windmill farms occasionally dotted the landscape, and I found myself mesmerized by their gracefulness and purpose. There should be more windmills in the world. “Blowin’ in the Wind” kept tumb2015-07-24 14.21.53ling through my brain. We made a brief stop at the waterfalls in North Bend, then headed into the city.

Seattle was amazing, even though we were there for less than a day.  Definitely on my come-back-to list. The overpass parks were such a good use of space, I wish we’d had more time to explore them. More greenspace, fewer cars–thought admittedly it’s ironic that such a thought occurred to me from a car, traversing 3000 miles to volunteer for two months in a different greenspace. Seattle gets far less snow than I had thought, but the traffic jams? I could live without them. Still, I could–yes–live there. I find myself torn between the energy and life of a city, and the relaxing pace and peace of the country. After a hike around the city down to Lake Washington, Kendra and Rod took us to an old Hudson factory for dinner. We hadn’t seen Kendra for about 20 years, but felt like it hadn’t been nearly that long (and of course we hadn’t aged a bit!) and catching up was fun. I held my tongue and never mentioned leather coats and flashing (Ooops!).*

We took the ferry from Anacortes, Washington, to Orcas Island, after a stop at a Fred Meyer store north of Seattle to stock up on unperishables and supplies. We weren’t sure if the refrigerator wou2015-07-25 15.54.52ld work (and it doesn’t appear to–a problem to solve another day), so we held off on fresh vegetables and anything that required refrigeration.

Orcas Island is full of tiny touristy villages surrounded by state parks, and we’ll probably head to a staging campground in the park tonight. We hadn’t been here more than a couple hours before Michel, one of our park coordinators, came over to greet us and make sure we had everything we needed. Julia, our other coordinator, called this morning to verify we had everything too–we feel very welcomed, indeed.

We’re off in a bit to find a part for the water system so that we can have actual connected water (it will make life much easier) as opposed to hose water, and get that system working before rainfall.

We’re settling into the RV–right off the departure end of the local airport–and I can easily see us here for the next couple of months. I could live here, yes indeedy.

*A story for another time…







Ann of Two Thousand Days

Ann of Two Thousand Days

As I go about my daily tasks–editing, running, cooking, what have you–I find myself increasingly obsessed with going to Mars. This has been going on for more than a month, ever since I got the Round 2 notification from Mars One in late December–a fact which played havoc with my carefully thought-out New Year’s resolutions. I had to revise them, and that did not make me happy. Contrariwise, it did add happiness and excitement and many wasted hours of dreaming to my day-to-day life.

Along about New Year’s, I also read an insightful post (contact me if you want details, as I’m simply too lazy to look them up right now) that in brief stated, “Don’t make a weighing-you-down list of things to do, like chores; instead, make a list of how you want to be, and tailor the list to achieving those “to be” goals. To be, instead of to do. I want to be a Martian. (Incidentally, I also want to be athletic, confident, and uncluttered–but when I think about it, Martian covers it all.)

So, I want to be a Martian. I passed my physical in January. The next step (it’s now early February) is an interview, probably sometime after April. I can’t wait that long. I have to wait that long. Grrrrrrr. The longer the wait, the more I do the “negative talking thing” to myself. I see a list of “Five People I Want to Go to Mars With” and I’m not on it. What do they know that I don’t know? Others get interviews; I send out feelers and get nothing. (I admit, self-promotion is not one of my fortés.) Other applicants are rocket scientists, physicists, mechanics, astrobiologists. I’m a … and here I draw a blank. I tell myself to start learning basic mechanics–that seems like a necessary skill. But when my outside weather display stops giving me outdoor temperatures on a really cold day and needs more than a change of batteries, I hand it to my husband, the mechanical genius. I should learn from him, I really should. Instead, I walk out to the front porch and feel the temperature. Yes, still too cold to run.

Should I be lucky (not skilled, not smart–remember what I said about self-promotion?) enough to go to Round 3, I’ll have to figure out why they want me, other than being an older person with limited life expectancy anyway. Having decent people skills and being a nice person seem like poor skills to list on a resume to be an astronaut. I can kind of garden in sandy soil, but that doesn’t seem much of a recommendation either, although it might have application to the dusty soil of Mars. I wish I’d paid more attention to tenth-grade chemistry class, the one that convinced me I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was.


And then Round 4, which consists of (roughly) two thousand days of training. That would be wonderful, magnificent, marvelous! I could train, I could learn anything they want to teach me. Astrophysics? No sweat. Microbiology? You got it. And then my New Year’s resolution hits: Why wait? Ack! How can I narrow it down? Maybe I should go fix my Aerogrow, the hydroponic garden that sits on my counter–or did, till it broke. You can fix it, Ann; it’s not rocket science. Yet.

(Elliott–if you’re reading this and you come home to a torn apart, nonfunctional, machine sitting on the kitchen counter and a despondent wife scratching her head, feel free to–gently, quietly–help put it back together.)

On My Way to Mars, One Step at a Time

I am one of the 1,058 worldwide applicants who were chosen to continue in Round 2 of the selection process for Mars One (and apparently one of only 20 or so over the age of 55 in the United States).

How do I feel about this? Excited, hands down.

But perhaps I’m in denial. Why me? I’m not *that* special. The whole thing is kind of unreal, hard to believe. I have to pinch myself. Maybe they only had 1,100 applicants and 42 of them screwed up the application by mistyping their own email address? Maybe their PR guys told them to accept a bunch of old people so they wouldn’t get sued? Whatever the reason, whether there were only 2,000 applications or 200,000, I’m still in the running–and I’m taking it seriously. Wheeeee!

Why Mars? Well, duh: Because it’s there. And it’s part of a big mystery, a puzzle waiting to be solved. Do I really believe there are aliens there? Not really. Alien lifeforms? Well, maybe fungus or something, though I think it’s unlikely. My science knowledge is somewhat sketchy. We won’t know till we get there, will we? (And by that time, I hope I’ve soaked up a bit more knowledge about such things. And mechanical stuff. Have I mentioned that’s not my forté?)

I’m okay with it being a one-way trip, I really am. That’s not to say, I won’t miss Elliott–I will, enormously. And I’ll really miss the girls. How will their lives turn out? Will they be happy? I’ll never have the chance to hold grandchildren, but maybe I’ll be a part of an opportunity for those potential grandchildren, or somebody else’s grandchildren. We’re doing a pretty good job messing up this planet; I’d like to think I could help get started on the right track on another one where we’re maybe not so insensitive to what’s around us. (Note to daughters: Do not go out and get pregnant on my account…No! No no no no no no no!)

But that’s assuming I even make it. I will be in the neighborhood of 72 years old at the time this takes off, and probably somewhat akin to the canary in the coal mine. After all, if a 72-year-old dies trying to repair a whatchamacallit off the whosit somewhere out in deep space on a long leash (remember, mechanical stuff is not my forté), everyone can say I had a long, happy, exciting life. If a 23-year-old dies, it’s a PR nightmare. (Who, off the Challenger, do you remember most? The young happy teacher and mother of young kids or the older professionals? Can you even name someone other than Christa McAuliffe?)

Why me? Maybe because I don’t have an agenda, other than seeing this whole thing work on Mars. Not just work, I’ll say thrive. I want the Mars One colony to thrive on Mars. I don’t want to populate it with evangelican Christian babies (or fill in whatever group you want); I don’t want to exploit it more than necessary; I don’t care whether people are Democrats or Republicans. Okay, yes, I do have an agenda: to make it worthy of a dream for someone else to follow. Idealistic? Heck, yes.

Or maybe because they were desperate? Nah, I’d rather think the selection panel was intelligent, discriminating, and persnickety. Yeah, I would.

Mars One is a nonprofit organization geared toward getting humans on Mars in about 2024. You can find out more information at, and they have a fundraiser at Indiegogo, (Fundraising will be, I suspect, a key part of applicants’ ability to progress…though I’m not a salesperson. Go look, see if you think it’s worthwhile, fund if you do. There.)

I’ll keep you posted…eventually. In the meantime, if you see me wearing a bracelet that says WWMD and I’m doing something particularly crazy, it does NOT mean What Would Morons Do.



Addiction Is a Terrible Thing…No, Wait…

(Note: This is a humorous look at the way our brains become obsessed with whatever it is that is currently the target. Please do not take this as an instruction manual, a criticism, a direction to follow, or anything else other than a wry observation of myself and my inherent quirks.)

Heart MushroomSooooo, yesterday I posted two things on Facebook: a photo of a heart-shaped mushroom I found in my yard, and a photo of me holding a print copy of my book, Tilted Windmills. Both of those photos showed up online about 18 hours ago, within about half an hour of each other.

Within minutes, somebody–five somebodys–liked the mushroom (it was the first photo to go up). Within half an hour or so, I had seven likes. Then my book photo went up. (It is beside the point that I think this is one of the few good pictures of me. Elliott took it–after insisting I wear a collared shirt–I chose his, and we won’t talk about his manly physique as he took the photo–and he did a great job.) Moments went by, and five more likes popped up. My heart swelled. It overflowed. Somebody–five somebodies–like me!

So every half hour or so–despite a good movie, despite cooking and cleaning, despite a life apart from Facebook–I checked my Facebook page. And with every like, my ego blossomed and expanded way beyond its normal boundaries. At latest count, after about 21 hours, I had a total of 35 comments and a whopping 62 likes. (We are ignoring the fact that I made comments myself, and that the same people might have liked both. Why let reality intrude?)

And sad to say, I still want more. More, more! What can I do to get more of these ego-boosting affirmations? No wonder people live on Facebook (or social media of choice). It’s all about me, we all think.

There must be something I can do to stay on top of the heap, keep my beaming smile right there in front of everybody. Despite all this unwarranted popularity, I still want more likes, and there’s a voice in the back of my head that tells me if I edit my photo, it’ll pop back to the top of everyone’s list. Maybe more people will see it. Maybe I’ll get more likes. Thankfully, common sense intrudes before I do anything silly, but I realize that getting these likes is an addiction. It’s pleasing to us, and what’s not to like about that? We always think we deserve more pleasure in our lives, and everybody I know works very hard at whatever it is they do, and they truly deserve a happier life (not that most aren’t happy, but you get the idea).

In the end, all those “me’s” probably cancel each other out. It’s not about *any* of us, it’s about *all* of us. A group, a whole, a community. Getting likes is a way of saying, “I’m part of this community, a valued member.” We all are.

Now maybe I can post a link to this blog–that’ll do it. And a photo of me, maybe showing a little cleavage this time… Oh it’s a slippery slope. Addiction like this is insidious. We rationalize that what we want will be good for everybody. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see more cleavage? (Don’t answer that.)

Or perhaps this is my fifteen minutes of fame and *blink* it’s over.

I wonder what I can photograph tomorrow?

The Right to Own Hammers

hammersSomeone told me last night that hammers kill more people than automatic weapons. Being a bleeding heart liberal on the far left side of the scale, I found that hard to believe, so I decided to check it out.

And I found a site written by Brett Breitbart  that claims just that, and cites the FBI as its source.

It links to a (from what I can tell) legitimate FBI site.

I won’t argue that the line that says “rifles” (348 murders) does include fewer murders in 2009 than the line that says “hammers [and other blunt objects]” (611 murders). But, as usual, there’s more to the story–like, the line that says “Firearms, type not stated”–which is a whopping 1,834. And when it says “rifle,” does this mean hunting rifle? Assault weapon type rifle? Where does an AR-15 fall in this categorization of deadly weapons (to name the one that’s gotten a lot of bad press lately)? Or a modified AR-15, which is apparently pretty easy to do?

I haven’t gone through the entire FBI site to figure out their classification–life is way too short for that–but I think it begs the question.

Assault weapons in general (and by this I mean the ones that are designed or modified to shoot many rounds) are there for a sole purpose: to kill other human beings. Plural human beings. (If you need more than three bullets to kill a human or a deer, sign up for marksmanship training at your local firearms center or go get your vision checked.) Seriously, can you think of any other reason to have one? My friend, who is an ardent gun rights advocate, also said his/her children have them because they’re “cool.” Huh? Cool? Sorry, buddy–tie dye is cool. Jerry Garcia is cool. Assault weapons are so not cool.

Hammers are designed to create something, to build something. I suspect (though I freely admit I haven’t verified this) that most murders with a hammer are crimes of opportunity and/or passion. Maybe those who use assault rifles are too, though I think that’s a weaker argument. If I see someone waltzing down the street with a hammer in his or her hand and a mean look on his or her face, my internal alarm bells hover around 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. Someone waltzing down the street with an assault weapon, even if he’s smiling? Duck and cover, folks, the scale’s gone off the top.

And the argument that people have guns to protect them from a government gone awry? Let’s assume for a moment that it’s even possible these days…that the government has decided that our little section of Georgia needs some serious disciplining. Heck, make it the whole state of Georgia. Washington feels we’re just way out of control and it’s time to send in the military, to make an example out of us so the other 49 states fall into line. You really think the entire state could defend itself against the might of the U.S. military? Just cut off our Internet and see how long we’d last. Close the Atlanta airport, stop the gas pipelines. We’d be fighting each other tooth and nail before too long, and the government could just wait and let us knock each other off. I don’t argue that otherwise intelligent people believe the malarky about government conspiracies to kill off those who don’t agree with them, but I question the sources of their information. And while this opens up a whole new can of worms, I think this conspiracy nonsense was planted and is fed and watered by NRA-type groups who make a profit off of selling weapons. If I want to sell a product, I first have to create a need for that product. The NRA has done just that, and too many sheep have bought into it. (I mean no disrespect. We’re all sheep in some fashion. There are very few true individuals.)

Because we can’t win a war, is that a reason not to fight it, if we believe it is right to do so? Of course not. But fighting someone else’s war that’s been fomented for financial and political motives? You’re just trading one master for another.
People keep assault weapons for one reason: Fear. Fear of government, fear of burglars, fear of other humans. (And don’t try that argument that you have it for protection or for love…those are covers. Yes, you care about and want to protect your loved ones, but it’s based on fear of what might get them.) Face those fears–find the facts (not the opinions)–and see if they hold up.

Do you need fourteen different weapons to protect yourself against an armed burglar (never mind the fact that the weapons should be locked up when not in actual use)? Unless you live in a war zone, one should be plenty.

There’s always a possibility that I’m the one who doesn’t get it. Feel free to enlighten me. But in the meantime, if there really is a government conspiracy, could someone please tell me about it? I’m always the last to know things.